rex_icon.gif zain_icon.gif

Scene Title Swindlers
Synopsis Two swindlers speak of their common illicit interests.
Date March 9, 2018

Staten Island

After dark, the street corners of Staten Island are generally reserved for hoodlums, ne’er-do-wells, ladies of the night, and their ‘protection’. While this isn’t much different than during the day, darkness makes people a little more desperate. So the drizzling rain isn’t keeping many of these sorts of people at bay, even in the rain a person’s gotta make money. So, on any given street it is common to see groups of three to five people milling about, trading their wares for a bit of cash or a bit of cash for a favor.

This particular street corner, is clean of most of those types of denizens. Under a flickering street lamp, holding a black umbrella, is Zain. He’s waiting there, obviously, because he’s checking his watch and then his surroundings every few minutes. He is a bit impatient and so his nervous energy is let out with a tapping of his foot. His shoe has a few white streaks on it, where he had the misfortune of a passing pigeon incident. Fortune favored him in that it was just the shoe and not his coat, or his suit. The shoe could at least be wiped mostly clean, it will require a good polish and shine to get back to normal.

These are all things that Zain laments as he waits… and waits…

Eventually, another black umbrella rounds the corner — they might be the only two who use them on Staten Island; most of the others using hats and hoods to keep the rain out of their eyes. The slim form of Rex Kallis comes into view beneath the arc of the black vinyl — he too is mostly in black, but for a bright blue scarf at his neck.

In the chill, the puff of air that comes from his exhalation is accompanied by a few tendrils of smoke from the cigarette he holds in his free hand.

“Evening, darling,” Rex’s voice rings out, melodic and sweet. “Been waiting long?”

“Long enough,” Zain replies mildly as he waves a hand in front of himself to ward off the cigarette smoke. “I will never understand how you can smoke while wearing a Hermes. It’s a crime.” The wave turns to a finger wag as the older gentleman practically scolds the younger one. “And this is why we never loan out clothing. Everyone here smokes. It’s disgusting.”

Plus it wastes good money.

“Anyway,” he says as he dips his hand into his pocket and reaches out, palming a small vial into Rex’s hand. “I need to know what the street value on something like this is. You are the only expert on the subject I can trust.” It’s such a loose term, that one word. How much does anyone trust another on this wretched Island? For Zain, the numbers are few and far between. Being an honest(ish) man, he tends to use that word far less than he does another almost equally loose term… love.

The cigarette is dropped and a booted foot steps on it, not that the rain wouldn’t do the work for him. The fact he doesn’t continue to smoke in Zain’s presence is perhaps a nod of respect for the other man, as well.

“The scarf already smelled like cigarettes when I got it, so I can at least scratch that one cardinal sin off my long and scarlet litany of transgressions,” Rex says, touching that scarf at his neck and smiling. “I promise not to smoke if you lend me any of your scarves. It’s a disgusting habit, but there’s no point in quitting when you breathe it in second-hand all the time, right? May as well get the buzz.”

Rex takes the vial in gloved hand, lifting it up so he can see it in the limited light they have. “Ah. Depends how desperate the person is who wants it, but about a hundred eighty’s the going rate. If it’s all they’re buying, I’d make it two even, maybe, because that means they really need it. Unless they’re buying in bulk.”

He hands it back, then steps under the overhang of the nearest building, collapsing his umbrella and leaning against faded brick.

“One vial’s pretty small time. You’ve got more, I presume?”

The excuses for smoking around the scarf don’t seem to sway any understanding from the older man who just shakes his head in dismay. The hand that isn’t holding his umbrella, reaches up to adjust the collar on his wool coat and a faint whiff of smoke earns a grimace of disgust. Rex may have a point about being around second hand smoke but it doesn’t excuse the abuse of fabric.

“Right now, no,” Zain admits, a frown appears on his face as he learns the street value of the drug and he presses his lips together as he does the mental mathematics. “I would like to obtain more for auction though, if it’s up your alley. I didn’t think it was in such a great supply to drive the price that low, considering what I had to do to get only three vials.” Well Zain didn’t have to do much but make a demand, someone else had to go through the trouble.

Tucking his hand back in his pocket, the grey haired gentleman glances around the quiet street and then back to Rex. “And perhaps we should meet elsewhere next time, street corners are or hoodlums and alleys are for people who spray paint things. Both are undignified and rather crass.”

“I can probably get more, sure. It’s not in the hands of as many as it used to be, back in the good ol’ days,” the faux Texan accent here may be a little mockery of one of his Arrowood pals, “but there are still some stores to be found if you know where to look. It used to be dirt cheap because everyone and his cop brother had them, a few years back.”

The taller man lifts a shoulder. “I used to be both those things. I suppose I should be chuffed you find me refined enough to merit better.” Rex’s lips curve into a playful smile, before handing the vial back to Zain. “You have a buyer in mind or just whoever’s stick you can get a rise out of?” At auction, he means. Naturally.

“The stick,” the vial is tucked into Zain’s inside pocket and a small red notebook taken out, along with a pencil. A few scribbles are made into a marked page, awkward as it is holding an umbrella while trying to write, he manages. Then the notebook is tucked away, back into the pocket whence it came. “The partners are wanting an auction before the end of the month. So here I am, gathering enough things to warrant the price of paper.

Which apparently adynomine is not… right now.

“If you have a buyer, I will keep the vial out of the auction and sell privately, but if the buyer is…” He hesitates somewhat his eyes narrowing at a figure walking down the opposite end of the street. He raises his hand to lightly place it on Rex’s shoulder, guiding him to a walk. “… worthy of an invitation, we’ll keep it in.”

Rex allows himself to be steered, glancing at the figure but only out of idle curiosity. “I don’t have anyone in particular, no,” he says, with a shake of his head, his eyes narrowing as he glances out of their corners at Zain. “And If I had a client who needed it, generally I’d just take care of that on my own, yeah? No reason to complicate the matter. Unless I had a client that I thought might be interested in some of your other wares, I could perhaps send them your way, if there’s a commission to be had.”

“You think I’m a swindler?” Zain questions, his eyes narrowing ever so slightly. He should really have been careful with that question, because he sort of is. A lot. In the matter of business partners though, not at all. Those connections are kept pure until he’s burned. “Of course there’s a kickback if you bring a new client.” Those details though, will be worked out if it ever happens.

“Speaking of other wares, street value of ecstacy and do you have a supplier that makes it themselves or do they redistribute as well?” Asking for a friend.

“Of course not, darling,” says Rex, with a roll of his eyes. “Or at least, no more than I am.” This earns Zain a toothy smile. “I don’t have anyone worthy of an invite who isn’t already attending, unfortunately, but I’ll keep an eye out for you.”

He matches his longer-legged stride to Zain’s, his steps in tandem and parallel to the shorter man’s. “I have a supplier. It’s a little harder to get than it was in the old days, so $25 a pill, but discounts for bulk, of course. How much do you need? They’re up in the great white north, so if it’s more than what I have in store, it’ll take some time to get it here.”

Rex’s smile is responded to with a twitch of Zain’s lips on one side. Taken as a compliment, the older man claps a hand on his companion’s shoulder and lets loose a good natured laugh. “Point taken, my good man, point taken.” Placing the hand back in his pocket, Zain continues along the sidewalk. They turn a corner, the street here lit a little better than the last but definitely more crowded. The Crooked Point is close by and apparently their destination.

“Not necessary to procure any, I was just looking for a price right now,” he says in a friendly tone. “Not that I am branching out, mind, but anything that comes through the auction house must be sold. It’s the nature of the beast.” At the door, Zain folds and then shakes out his umbrella before fastening the tie. The. He opens the door for Rex, “Shall we?”

“That’s so proactive of you,” chimes Rex in a complimentary tone, though the narrow-eyed sidelong glance is a little more suspicious. “I’m surprised there’d be a market for molly in your auction house. I would expect the tastes of those lucky enough to attend to run toward the more exotic.”

He lowers his umbrella and closes it as well. “Certainly. All of this inquisition is thirsty work,” he replies, stepping through the door that Zain holds for him.

Once at the bar, Zain orders two whiskeys being quite specific that they be served in clean glasses and not ones simply wiped out with a wet rag. What they receive could be either… but after a look at the rim, the older gentleman seems satisfied and raises his tumbler for a toast.

“To your continued health, Rex.” Not that there’s rumour of any ill will toward the taller man, but this is Staten Island. “As for this Molly,” he says as he leans against the bar. “Whatever comes up is sold, knowing the prices of things allows a proper starting bid. Who knows, a more reputable person in the area may acquire it at quite a discount.” The look Zain gives to Rex is neutral except for the slight quirk of one eyebrow. “Should I mark you down as RSVP’d for the event?”

“Yamas,” says Rex, lifting his own glass, and taking a swallow. He grimaces just a little at the burn and the roughness of that particular brand of whiskey — beggars can’t be choosers, after all.

He taps his ring finger against the glass thoughtfully, as he considers the question. “Let me check my calendar,” he says, as if his days are just so filled with social events. “I’ll get back to you soon. What’s the next day? I’ll circle it in red.”

“Twenty fourth of this month,” another sip of the whiskey is taken and Zain manages to control his recoil at the taste of the liquor. He almost glares into the bottom of his glass, the face he does make is akin to the one that people make when they are silently cursing things to their doom. This might be the world’s worst drink in a glass. “I have no idea how Americans drink this swill and call it good.”

He places the glass down on the bar and shoves it away from himself, not even bothering to finish half of it before giving up. “Make certain you do, I would very much like to have all of my friends there.”

Rex arches a brow loftily at the criticism of the drink. “Now, let’s be fair. Not all Americans think this is good. But beggars can’t be choosers, and it probably won’t make us go blind.” He has less discerning taste — or at least, he’s willing to do distasteful things for the sake of the numbness that comes with cheap alcohol.

He smiles, though, and puts a hand to his chest. “All your friends — you’re absolutely going to make me blush. I’ll do my best.”

He finishes his own drink, grimacing and clearing his throat. “Tastes like Pine-Sol,” he declares, before reaching for Zain’s unfinished glass. Sharesies.

Zain shakes out a shudder as he watches Rex finish his glass and then go for his own untouched one. “Possibly, not probably. I don’t like to gamble on probabilities when it comes to my eyesight, it just seems like a bad road to travel in life.” But Rex’s eyesight, he’s willing to gamble on, because he lifts one finger to the bartender and twitches it slightly in Rex’s direction. Ordering him one more round.

“Well I suppose pine freshness is a good thing,” he declares quietly with mild amusement. “It will make your Canadian contacts quite comfortable. Especially if you have a few of those little beaver coins they carry… they have a moose on one as well, don’t they?” Canadian currency isn’t one of Zain’s strong suits, at least not the coin variety.

“Moose, loon, bear, I think. I don’t know. I don’t really deal with pocket change,” Rex says with a roll of his eyes.

“If I’m aiming for woodsy freshness, I’d rather a spritz of Byredo, but I suppose this may have to do in today’s economy,” he quips, setting the glass down and nodding to the bartender who pours him another.

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