Take A Gander


carver_icon.gif dumortier_icon.gif zachery_icon.gif

Scene Title Take a Gander
Synopsis Three inhabitants of Providence, living their lives on an ordinary day. Then the goose showed up…
Date October 4, 2019

Providence Outskirts

It's a beautiful autumn day; the air is brisk but not cold enough to really bite, the birds are singing, the sky is that perfect ultramarine that he privately thinks of as 'October blue'. It is, in short, the perfect day to get something done, and that's why Carver is standing at the top of an aluminum ladder leaned against the roof of his new house, getting ready to do it. He's wearing a white button-up shirt, a pair of carpenter jeans, and a flannel jacket; he's got a toolbelt at his waist and a can of nails in one hand.

He's got a small mountain of work ahead of him. He's okay with this. In fact, he's more than okay with it. Maybe it's the air, maybe it's the sun, maybe it's the fact that he's not in a cage and most of the jackasses who'd held him prisoner have been converted into mulch by robotic land squid, but whatever the reason may be, at the moment Carver is in such a fine mood that he is actually almost convinced that the world isn't entirely shit.

The only thing keeping it from being a perfect day is the fact that there's a noticeable shortage of beer… but you can't have everything. The house, for instance. They'd let him have a house, just like that. He'd found the perfect place, too — an old house located a little ways out from the town proper. It's a little on the small side, but it's got enough room for him to live (and work, if need be), and there's enough distance between him and anyone else that he probably doesn't have to worry about neighbors dropping by to borrow a cup of sugar or whatever the hell it is that neighbors drop by to annoy you with, while still being close enough to town that he can go for a walk and check up on the Whitesbog Chain Gang Survivors Club if the mood takes him. The tradeoff is that it's… a bit of a fixer-upper. The place probably hadn't been lived in since long before the War, and time has not been kind; the roof leaks in multiple locations, he's already had to tear out some decomposing carpet, and there's a place or two where the floor itself is probably in need of replacement. Not necessarily the best place to be moving into when winter's this close, but the walls seem fairly sound, at least, and if he can get some rough fixes slapped on the roof, the place should at least be survivable by the time winter arrives in earnest.

The roof is probably the most pressing. His new digs have got a tin roof; the combination of time, water, and wind has not been kind, and some of the sheets of tin have started to pull loose. Maybe at some point he'll see about actually redoing the roof entirely, but for now, nailing things down and slapping on something to seal it off should do. Which is why he's at the top of an old aluminum ladder, clambering up onto the roof and getting ready to get to work.

"Listen. All I'm saying is that if poor Mrs. Blackwell lost a goose, why would it be going this direction? The pond- lake- whatever- is in the… east? South? Just - either way, it's there!"

This is the voice of one Zachery Miller, resident physician, dressed in a half-buttoned-up black pea coat and pale jeans, wandering the dirt road that leads past Carver's new residence and furiously throwing an arm out to point in the wrong direction. With wild disregard for where a certain Dumortier might be walking along, and with the tone of someone who's been personally wronged. "Plus, geese can fly. And they're not nice animals. I understand everyone here lives off of favours but this seems an unlikely recipe for sss…"

It is at this point that he notices a figure on a roof, coming to a halt to stand and watch while his eyebrows pop up in anticipation. Almost like he's hoping for a fall just by virtue of being present.

"No, the pond is this way. Stop flailing- -" Rene needs to take a half step back when Zachery points so emphatically to the wrong horizon. "And I told you, this goose just likes to take walks. It's annoying as hell. Like how pigeons forget that they can fly and just powerwalk away."

The smaller of the new would be instantly familiar even if he wasn't dressed similarly to what Carver would remember from the fateful day at the village. The platinum braid, the tiny stature, the self-assured walk, the bright blue eyes that more or less match that October blue sky. Crisp.

Dumortier bumps into Zach when he stops so abruptly, giving a small frown before looking to where something has his attention. Miller gets a poke in the small of his back. "He's one of the people we took from Whitesbog- - " If Zach doesn't manage to get around, which he might- - Rene doesn't babysit to make sure he meets everyone. "Don't suppose he's seen a fat, goofy old goose?"

Carver stops as he spots someone staring at him. Unfamiliar, but not acting like he's trying to be sneaky; probably one of the townsfolk out for a stroll. No one trying to be sneaky would stare that overtly.

Carver stares right back, eyes narrowing into a squint. When the second comes into sight, though, Carver's gaze shifts to him… and this one he recognizes. Rene, they'd called him. The little guy who'd picked the locks. He studies the two for a moment longer, waiting to see what they're going to do, when —


Carver knows that noise. He doesn't like it. Fucking geese.

He turns — carefully — just in time to see a fat gray goose hissing at his ladder, neck lowered, bill open. "Oh no no no," he says, dropping to his knees, stabilizing himself and reaching out to stabilize the ladder…

…too late. All he can do is watch as the goose springs into flight, body slamming into his ladder, the lightweight aluminum tipping back. Carver lets out an earthy swear and throws himself to his belly, reaching out, his fingertips grazing the ladder but not catching it, and now he's sliding. He manages to catch himself before he can take a nasty fall, but the ladder's too far gone; it crashes to the ground in a clatter, and the damn goose honks triumphantly, wings out as it struts and poses.

Fucking goose.

The poke elicits a raising of a shoulder and arm, bristling at invaded personal bubble. But the honk - draws Zachery's attention back to the house.

"… Found it." A lopsided grin creeps slowly onto his face as he watches the scene that plays out - fall and all, which adds a genuine wince in what might just be empathy. With a slow inhale, his chin lifts and he darts a brief glance to Dumortier before beginning to walk toward the ladder and goose both. With purpose, this time.

"Are you alright, sir?" He calls, his words much crisper, clipped. An adopted facade, but one he seems very comfortable with. The grin remains, though, refusing to be fought back down. "Goose giving you trouble?"

"Oh you little- -" Dumortier is caught between a laugh and an inward wince as the goose makes itself known. Intrusively. He is a half-step forward when the bird claims victory over the fallen ladder, and for a moment he freezes to make sure he doesn't need to cushion Carver's fall. Nope, looks like he's got himself. Rather than try and wrangle said horrible goose, Rene plays it a little smarter.

"Put that ladder back up for him?" Dumortier asks- - instructs- - his companion, who seems oh-so-concerned; then he is producing a palmful of dried corn from a coat pocket.

"L'oie est lache~," A singsong voice and the offer of CORMS seems to entice the goose more than the ladder does. It's been beaten, now it's time for snacc? Seems legit.

"A little," Carver calls down, opting to answer the second question first as he studies the approaching townsman; his voice is always a gravelly rasp anymore, but it sounds a hair drier, more clipped than usual. "I'm fine. Or I will be, once I've got a way down," he adds.

His gaze shifts back to the roof again for a moment, almost longingly — he'd much rather be working on getting his place winter ready than doing… whatever this is — but it looks like Rene's attempting to capture the goose, and far be it from him to start making loud banging noises and scare the horrible little monster away to wreak havoc on the unsuspecting populace. So he waits and watches, and laments a bit. Outmaneuvered by poultry, feh.

For a moment, while he sidesteps to give the goose a WIDE BERTH, Zachery seems like he might just be a decent human being who listens to good suggestions. Except when he reaches down to leverage the ladder back upright, holding onto a rung with both hands, he just sort of… stands there, and stares at it. Being very much not connected to the roof.

"… What are you doing up there, by yourself?" He offers this question sideways and upward, with amusement threaded through his words, real and fake eye narrowing both. "What if you'd fallen?"

Once the goose is gleefully eating corn off of the grass, Dumortier looks up over his shoulder to the other men, giving the groundbound one a squint. "He was clearly up there to fix that shitty roof- -"

"Oh, come on, just give him the ladder." Exasperatedly, Rene stays where he is for the moment, perhaps to make sure he doesn't need to tackle the goose if it decides to target something new. He has the feeling Carver isn't an older man you can jerk around, even if Zachery is missing this sense of self-preservation. That's how his life is, isn't it? A series of not having it.

Carver regards the man holding the ladder with the even, level expression of someone who is debating exactly what level of roast he wants to respond with. His gaze flickers to Rene as the other answers the first dumb question — something he approves of. Anything that reduces the number of dumb questions in the world is a good thing, in Carver's book.

That just leaves the second question, and since the guy holding the ladder is showing no signs of movement, that means Carver's gonna need to answer it. "'What happens if I fall'," Carver repeats thoughtfully. "Well, gee. I never considered that," he says slowly, making a bit of an effort to keep his sarcasm dry instead of acidic. "You know, I'm pretty spry for my age, but I did just get cut off by a piece of free range poultry with a brain the size of a pistachio, so maybe I'm not as quick as I used to be." A bit of roasting for himself, too; fair's fair, he did get stuck up on a damn roof, and he's making an effort to restrain his bile in light of that fact.

"If I did happen to take a fall, the way I see it, it's gonna go one of three ways. Possibility one: I tuck and roll and make it through with some bruises, maybe sprains, and I go on about my merry way, cranky as a bear with a toothache, in which case no one notices any difference anyway. Possibility two: I break something or suffer a serious but noncritical injury, in which case I lay here for awhile, then drag myself back to my feet, duct tape myself back together with what's onhand, and, if it's really bad, I drag myself over to someone else and have them finish the job, then go on about my merry way, slower and crankier, in which case, again, minimal difference is noticed. Or possibility three: I fall and die, make a valuable contribution to the ecosystem as food for buzzards, wolves, and probably geese," he says, sparing a moment to glare balefully at the ambulatory Christmas dinner Rene is currently fattening on his lawn before turning his gaze back to the man holding the ladder, "In which case no one probably notices until they find my skeleton lying in the backyard, and the world goes on about its merry way with one less cranky old bastard in it."

He waits for a moment, taking a deep breath. "Now. Would you be so kind as to put that thing back up, or would you rather I jump down and we find out which of the three it's gonna be?" he asks, some of his irritation leaking through.

Zachery shoots Rene a look - grin subsiding a little at the request. But it seems to flare right back up again when Carver talks.

And, seconds after the older man finishes, the ladder finds itself propped up against the roof again. There's even a little steadying jiggle to make sure it's settled against the dirt alright. And not just so he can shoot Rene another look as if to check that he's looking and seeing that he's behaving. "Can you do me a favour?" The question comes loudly enough to be meant for the person he's not presently looking at, before he pulls back from the ladder and wipes his hands of probably imaginary dirt.

Dumortier is listening in as he gets on the bird's good side, and soon enough he's giving the troublemaker a stroke along its neck. It honks back placidly now, watching the familiar man beside it and investigating the edges of his coat pockets with small warbles.

"Oh, he doesn't mean the pistachio thing. He means walnut." Rene scratches the goose behind the ears and down its neck. It finds some corn in his open pocket. Yep. What a carrion creature.

"Two of three is definitely against you." Rene laughs, watching the ladder get propped back into place. "Not that you've been very lucky." Yes, he's watching. Approval registers more on Rene's stance than his words, hands at hips and goose chin-deep in his pocket.

Carver lets out a grunt at Rene's remark on his luck; he's got no argument on that point, so instead he regards the ladder for a moment. It's set firmly, looks like; good. "Thanks," Carver rasps quietly, taking a half step towards the ladder —

— and then that question. Carver's not a hundred percent sure it's directed at him, but Rene isn't answering, at least. "Yeah?" he asks — more an invitation to continue than any sort of agreement.

"Next time you risk your neck," Zachery starts answering, looking from Rene's face down to the goose, and then craning his neck to look up at Carver with lip pulling back at the light from over the roof, "get some sap to stand by. There's plenty in town, trust me, I've met them. You're wasting some real, genuine potential laughs, here. Prime comedy potential. Hell, ring my place if you like. I'm just up the, ah-"

He stops, looks left. Looks right. Half turns and looks left again, as if maybe what he wanted to see was merely in his blind spot. "… Somewhere. Down the road near the big tree with the hole in it? Sort of dark place, says 'physician' out front?" The last words leave him with an air of mockery, but at least it's a cheerful sort.

The goose looks on. His tail waggles. Beady eyes watch as Zachery replaces the ladder.

Dumortier crosses his arms as his companion digs down into his snark pockets, which mostly just results in a mild eyeroll. He side-eyes the goose and its interest, then promptly dumps out the remainder of his pocket corn before approaching the duo and the ladder. Rather than give his input on Zach's shitty directions immediately, he bumps into the other man's bubble to plant a boot on the bottom rung. His heel presses down and the ground bubbles; a few vestigial roots wrap onto the base.

"There. For now, anyway…" An eyebrow arches up and he promptly gets out of the way again. "Anti-Goose Security." As if called by a silent wind, the goose moves its head between people's legs to peck at the ladder. "You can find a sucker next time, though, lots of people looking for small jobs- - hey- -!" It flaps, offended, when Rene turns around to herd it back again.

Carver squints at the man at the foot of the ladder; it's hard to tell, given his default expression, but it seems like his expression might have grown even more sour. There's a tiny shift in his expression at the mention of the 'physician' sign, though, his squint taking on a quality of hawk-eyed speculation… and then there's another shift in his expression when Rene seconds the request. Carver makes a noise that sounds like something between a sigh and a growl of irritation. "No promises," he rasps; it sounds more sullen than defiant, though.

He takes note when the roots come crawling out of the earth to secure the base of the ladder, a brief look of speculation directed at Rene this time… but whatever he may be thinking, he doesn't bother to voice it. Instead, he opts to get down while the getting is good, wasting no time in twisting and starting to clamber down the ladder — he wasn't lying about being spry for his age. Once he's off the ladder, he offers a nod to Rene, but again his gaze comes back to the one who'd set the ladder back up, studying him closely. "You the sawbones around here, then?" he rasps.

After both the roots and the goose get a good, critical look, Zachery takes a step sideways and away. Just in case that bird gets any ideas. "'Sawbones'," he echoes the word as if in idle thought, eyebrows slanted, then aims his eye at the goose again and says, "Blackwell Junior, are you hearing this? 'Sawbones'."

With very little warmth but a modicum of surprise, he finally says back up to Carver again, "I think I like this one." A hand is offered, shoulders pushed back a little, "Doctor Zachery Miller."

Rene looks like he may be about to punt the goose when it leads him on, but thankfully he is distracted and the goose struts away proudly to graze. "Weh?" Paused mid-step, a look gets tossed up and back, narrowed at the new nickname.

"What did you call me?" Of course he heard it, and he only sounds offended. The other name, however, brings Dumortier back around to give Carver a more skeptical look. Context does tell him what the word must mean, but there's still a note of a scoff when he speaks up, first to Zach with, "Do you, now?", followed quickly by an upward tip of chin to Carver. "Don't give him any ideas, ami, he is badly behaved enough as it is."

As Zachery introduces himself as 'doctor', Carver's lips tick upwards a bit, his scowl softening into something that might almost be a smile. "Doctor Harrison Carver," he rasps. "Pleased to meetcha, Doctor Miller," he says, taking the offered hand and giving it a firm shake.

The almost smile doesn't linger long on Carver's face, though; it's in hostile territory and it knows it, and honestly that's exhausted most of Carver's stock of smiling for one day. His expression slowly fades back to his normal resting scowl; then, at Rene's interjection, Carver glances his way, raising an eyebrow. "Is that so?" he asks, his tone one of mild interest.

"I'm a saint!" Zachery argues, like saints usually do not. "Put his ladder back and all."

The handshake is as practiced as his smile, and just as clinical besides. "Doctor Carver, what a name." Then, with his head turning away from Carver somewhat, "Go on, then, how am I badly behaved? How have I broken any laws the last-" Zachery pauses, turning to search Rene's face properly before finishing his sentence with: "- Week."

Saint. Mhm. The look he gets from Dumortier remains skeptical, one brow up.

"Miller, Carver, Bonesaw, we're practically a lumberyard here." Despite his commentary, the diminutive one of the three still seems more pleased than not. One eye keeps track of the goose they came to fetch. Zachery's search of his face just gets a vague, nondescript little smile. "Last week? No laws, per se, but there was that thing with the sinkhole. Don't get me started on you trying to figure out my mushroom farm. I said badly behaved, not law-breaking."

There it is again, that almost sweet little smile. Disgustening.

Carver regards the two with a certain bright-eyed scrutiny… then he lets out a rasping noise that's somewhere between a laugh, a cough, and a non-committal grunt of acknowledgement.

He actually idly considers asking a bit more about some of those misadventures… but for one thing it's none of his business, for another thing daylight's burning and he's got work to do, and for a third he's just about out of things to say anyway. He's never been one for letting conversations linger on life support; if they're suffering, better to take them out back and shoot em.

Carver clears his throat. "Thanks for helping with the ladder," he says, nodding to Zachery and Rene, not without a touch of a scowl — it's still a bit galling that he got outmaneuvered by poultry. "I should get back to work, though," he says gruffly… then pauses, his expression growing a little more sour. "Don't suppose either of you'd care to stick around and see which of the three it turns out to be if I take that fall?" he asks drily.

Genuine amusement plays on Zachery's face, fighting forced smile away into grin, almost proudly, first aimed at Rene and then at Carver.

A twitch of a brow later and he says, "Tell you what. Why don't we start getting this wayward feathered miscreant back where it belongs, corn and birdbrain willing -" He pauses to look briefly to the side again because why do you even HAVE corn in your pockets, "so that once we're out of earshot I can ask all about you. Once we're done with that, someone can come back to check if you haven't taken the tumble into becoming compost just yet." Awfully cheery. "Shouldn't be long."

Rene sets out prepared! They were looking for a goose! He still has more corn, judging by the fidget of hand in his coat pocket. For Carver and his half-hearted amusement, there's a flash of the usual rogueish grin. He's here to please, even if just a twee bit.

"The fine lady would like her attack goose back, so," Blue eyes lift to make sure the bird is still grazing around as birds do. Zachery and his proposition, meanwhile, earns him a touch of Dumortier's own amusement. There's a reason they get on, but it's not exactly clear what that is, between the ribbing and the stark differences. A laugh is soft in the blonde's throat. "And-or I can make a pitstop on the road home."

"Ha. Let me know what you find out; should be interesting," Carver rasps sardonically, and apparently that really is all he's got to say, because he's already moving to climb back up the ladder. Daylight's burning, after all, and he's always been much more a fan of getting the job at hand done than casual conversation.

"See, I can be nice," Zachery mutters the moment Carver's back up on that roof, before starting to move away. In the right direction, even! He continues talking despite not checking whether Rene is following along with the aforementioned attack goose, shoving his hands deep into his pockets as he walks. "People just don't enjoy banter like they used to, and that's the problem."

Suddenly, his grin fades, and though he does not stop walking, he does throw a glance over his shoulder. "Shit. Am I old? I'm old." Then, with shoulders popping up and a stubbornly triumphant sort of tone, "But he's older."

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