The Business of Others


marjorie_icon.gif perry_icon.gif

Scene Title The Business of Others
Synopsis It's not nosiness if its quid pro quo.
Date November 28, 2010

Morningside Heights - Perry's Apartment

Marjorie Mihangle contacted Perry early the morning following the taping of her appearance on 'The Advocate.' She arranged to stop by on Sunday, after church. So, after her son has been dropped off at home with a sitter, she makes her way to see the man who led the last 'Messiah' meeting. Today, Marjorie wears a simple black dress with puffed sleeves and a thin belt - a very 40s style, particularly with her hair and lips done up as they are. She has a clutch purse, and walks slowly, peering up the steps as she goes.

Yes, she took the stairs. Peering down the corridor, she is finally brought to Perrys' door. Before knocking, she pauses to fix her hair, make sure she's standing up straight, and stony her face. Then? Three solid knocks with her knuckles.

There have never been so many visitor to Perry's humble and slightest deranged looking digs during his entire previous lease as there have been in these past couple weeks. He's ready for this caller, however, being forewarned, so what would otherwise be cagey suspicion and a cracked door is, instead, a quick confirmation that it's Marjorie via peephole, and then the quick unfastening of all his many locks.

Perry's smiling, if a touch nervously, when he opens the door for Marjorie. "Please- uh- sorry about the mess but- uh- yeah. Come in, please." Repeating the mannerly word in a way that would betray his awkwardness if there were any illusion to the contrary to begin with.

Marjorie smiles politely as she steps in, clutch held daintily between her hands. "Oh don't worry. There's a 10-year-old boy in my home. You want to talk about mess…" she trails off, the implication obvious. "I am sorry to disturb you, but I did want to speak to you about something before tomorrow. That was why I insisted on such short notice. I hope it wasn't a terrible inconvenience. Oh!" She reaches into her purse, offering him a little hand-made baggie of hand-made cookies. "And I brought you a little something. If I keep all the baked goods in my kitchen I'll eat them all, so I try and offer them out as I go. Particularly around the holidays."

It's not so much a mess, even, as it is drab and peculiar in Perry's apartment. This place has never once known a woman's touch. The furniture is practical, but ugly and hand made from hardware store wood and milk crates. Electrical equipment dots various work surfaces, repairs Perry completes to pay his meager rent and for his even more meager personal expenses. What cash he does spend in large amounts are spent on what's hidden in his room. The weapons. The harder-to-find books on urban warfare tactics. The weird stuff.

Stuff that, thankfully, is blocked from the prim Marjorie's view, though it's not like she doesn't know he's an insurgent. Perry is already grabbing Marjorie a chair when the cookies are offered, and he looks momentarily taken aback. "Oh… wow. Wow- thank you. Thank you," repeating himself again as he takes the bag, glancing about like he's not sure what to do with it. Should he eat one right away? Compliment them directly? He has no idea! "And really, no inconvenience. I am at your disposal, any time. Yours and any other, you know, compatriot."

"Well that's very kind of you, I appreciate your being so available for us. I'm sure we all appreciate it. Thank you." She settles into the chair, perched on the edge of it just so, keeping her back straight and her ankles together. She has a polite look on her face, but that's about all. "I don't want to take up too much of your time, but I wanted to let you know that I met Secretary Praeger when I was asked to be a guest on The Advocate. We did the show taping last night, and Praeger asked to speak with me at his office in New York on Monday to discuss different outreach possibilities, I believe. I don't know if that's entirely what we'll be discussing, but that discussion is going on none the less." She doesn't waste a damn bit of time!

'To business' is just fine with Perry. Dealing with interpersonal issues is something that gets him stammering and tripping over himself. When it comes to the hard and fast of agitation and (he supposes, now) outreach, he's a lot more comfortable. "Um… I'm going to put some water on," Perry says, retreating into the kitchen briefly and returning, sans cookies, with the soft rumble of a pot on the stove sounding in his wake. He grabs his own chair and spins it to face Marjorie before taking a seat, leaning forward, elbows on knees.

"Praeger? That's- that's no small acquaintance," Perry says, frowning with thought as he mulls over the possibilities, "that's- that's honestly pretty amazing, Marjorie," he ventures a smile, "I'm impressed, and encouraged. Yes. Yes, that's definitely part of what we're after. You should speak with Melissa about this as well. You and she will be handling the visible end of what we're doing. Outreach is good. We want, ultimately, to move towards political autonomy. To lobby and even to run for office. But this is a perfect start."

Marjorie crosses her legs, very careful to keep her sitatuion modest. "I agree. I was very excited to meet with him. You should also watch the airing of The Advocate episode - there was an Institute member there as well." She smiles a little, painted lips turning upward just a little bit. "I would not call him the most likable of characters. My main goal there - and with Praeger for the meeting tomorrow - is going to advocate government out of the basic American's life with the registration and tests and all the rest - while at the same time cheerleading public, free, widespread education for Evos and Non-Evos about what it is to be Evolved, to go through a power change, and to recognize the importance of emotional control over oneself. My general idea is to advocate that all citizens can work together to find a solution without the government prying into our lives - a perspective that I think would be easily welcomed by people across the nation. I am curious, though, if there is anything else you wish for me to focus on?" Her hands rest over her knee as she waits for his response.

No ogled intended from Perry. When the urge strikes, as it may considering the lack of a woman's touch upon his person as well as his place, his eyes avert out of respect and trepidation. As a team, they manage to keep this interaction very modest indeed. "I don't usually watch television, but I suppose I have a reason to. Monitering events as deployed by the propoganda machine. Figuring out how to counter it," is a very specific way to think about one's orientation towards TV. "That- that rhetoric is a good start," he answers, "it's mollifying and stop-gap, but we need what gains we can get. I would- I would add the importance of Evolved learning to control their abilities not just- not just to not use them, but to use them more skillfully and willfully. That we shouldn't be restrained so much as focused and in command of our gifts," a small smile from him, now, "for the greater social good, if you need to sugar coat it."

"Once you try my cookies, I'm sure you'll see that I am very good with sugar when I need to be." She nods a little bit, settling back in the chair just slightly. "I will certainly bring what you've said into my meeting with Secretary Praeger tomorrow. I hope to come out of the meeting with new ideas on how to influence the public and policy with our goals. Praeger seemed to agree with what I was saying at the taping, and I believe he will be open to the idea of helping citizens like 'myself'." And people behind the scenes. "Is there any other way I can be of help?"

Perry laughs a bit at the joke, a huffing stutter through his nose that sounds quite genuine. The sound is joined by the high keening whistle of the kettle. "Speaking of," Perry says, rising to his feet, "would you like tea, and would you like some of your cookies with your tea? That's- uh- that's my intention, at least." He's already moving towards the kitchen, still speaking. "Our goal has to be to- uh- to foster a sense that being Evolved is not something to be ashamed of, but also that we're not 'like everyone else' in the harmless, dismissable way. We will never be 'like everyone else'. If we were, we simply wouldn't be Evolved. We need to insist on the importance of the gift, on the way it redefines you and makes you capable of great feats, feats of personal achievement and - well, like at the University Woods - world improvement."

"Yes, thank you," Marjorie says politely, uncrossing her legs. She continues to speak as Perry goes about getting everything set-up. "What you are describing sounds almost like a two-pronged approach. My first and formost goal would be to encourage unity. With numbers of Non-Evolved who are on our side, we stand a much better chance of being recognized on a large-scale, particularly if you are interested in elected offices and lobbying. A person's 'base' doesn't appear to ever really win an election. No, those that are able to reach out to others who are not like them are the ones who hold the greatest credibility and sway. That is my initial goal. However, if I am able to encourage Secretary Praeger to start with a far-more massive education campaign, there is nothing to say that we could not also try to encourage the idea of 'Evolved for a higher purpose' to be a focal point of it. We should be careful, howevever - language like that in the public would probably alianate un-Evolved individuals."

"That's your province," Perry says, the whistle of the kettle petering out as he removes it from the heating element. "I deal with theory, not praxis. A legitimately empowering campaign must be centered, philosophically, around an empowering ideal." He emerges from the kitchen, two steaming mugs held precariously in one hand, a plate festooned with Marjorie's cookies in the other. "We will never do more than play at being helpful novelties if some unique and positive value isn't assigned to and aligned with SLC expression."

Marjorie takes her tea with a smile and a nod of thanks. "And this is just why I came to speak with you before I discuss it with Secretary Praeger." She says, easily enough. The tea is sipped with a comfortable daintiness. "And to be sure, I will return to speak with you after I've met with him. If you'd like, anyway. I can't imagine that anything revolutionary will happen. But then again, I've never met with a cabinet member." She blushes at the very idea of it. What a small-town girl!

Perry has to hook over a milk crate, dragging it between them so he can set down the plate of cookies within both their reaches. For now he perches over his mug, puffing occasionally at the rising steam. "I'd very much like for us to touch base," he agrees, nodding, "and I'm more than certain you'll charm him entirely. It seems like you have already," he pauses, momentarily, "your brother was also involved with our group. Griffin? I'm sorry about the last meeting. Tensions were running high. I saw you- um- I saw you praying. I figured this is a- a difficult time for you."

Marjorie's face pales a little, and she glances down at her mug. "It is," she admits, in that sort of blank way that almost always serves as a mask for the exact opposite of blank - extremely painful. "Things were…complex with my family before Griffin dissapeared. Was killed, I ought to say, but that's what we thought last time and it wasn't true. And that poor woman," she must be talking about Nadira. "She and my brother were romantically involved, as I understand it. I don't think she'd take very kindly to my intervention, but you will keep an eye on her for me? Griffin would want someone watching out for her."

"Nadira's wellbeing is as important to me as the wellbeing of all of us," Perry answers, stammerless in delivering this statement of principle - impersonal sounding, in some ways. Extending no special privilege. "She-" and now they are into specifics, the uncertainty intrudes once more, "I don't think- I don't know if she understands the whole- all the factors of your situation. As she explained it… you 'stole' his child. Ruined his life. But you say, what- that you thought he was dead?"

"No," Marjorie says, lifting her head a little bit. "I suppose in some sense I did 'steal' his child. It's complex, like I said." She pauses there, as if she's not likely to continue. She opens her mouth, and then closes it again. "It's terribly complex." She reiterates, and that seems to be enough for her for now.

"I assure you that there are reasons far beyond what Nadira expressed. "I promise that Owain isn't in any danger. I've raised him since Griffin's wife death, when Griffin was sent to MOAB. I do my very best for the boy, and while he doesn't have ponies and expensive race-cars, he does well in school, plays sports, and is a very responsible, healthy boy."

"I think," Perry ventures, somewhat uncertain but making the attempt all the same - the cookies remain untouched for now, the topic not making him feeling terribly hungry, "that it might do some good for Nadira to- uh- understand a little better the circumstances of- um- you know. The circumstances," how eloquent, "the story she seems to have been told, the story she believes in- it doesn't account for- um- the- um- complexity of the full- uh- situation."

Marjorie smiles a little, shaking her head. "Honestly, if I may, I would rather have Nadira hate me than know the truth. She is suffering, and telling her the whole truth would only make her suffer more. She doesn't deserve it, she's done nothing wrong. As things are now, is Griffin is truly dead, she can mourn him properly and move on with her life. I don't mind taking her dislike in exchange for that." She sips her tea again, her hands shaking a little, if he notices. She is terribly upset, but she hides it well. "Besides, she does seem rather certain about her convictions, doesn't she? Someone so certain, and living in grief, would be very difficult to persuade. And what possible purpose would it serve now?"

The truth is its own virtue, as far as Perry's concerned. That this particular lie could qualify, in a Platonic sense, as noble never occured to him. Until now. He considers Marjorie's words while he further considers his cooling tea, which he sips, at length. "I was thinking of group cohesion of-" he breaks off, "this is your own business. And hers. If you think it's better- then I'll defer to your judgment. I- I don't think she hates you. If she did, then I would be more concerned. But she doesn't- doesn't hate."

Marjorie looks at her own tea, listening to his words. Even if he's not secretly asking for an answer, his lack of question seems like a question to her. She glances up at him. "Would you like to know what happened?" she asks. "If not, then, if you have the time, I have a few questions of my own for you. Nothing terribly difficult, but I have to admit that I am purely curious about how such a young man came to be on the podium that night. I knew where we were to meet, yes, I went earlier to pray, but I did not expect such a spring face."

"Spring face?" Perry echoes, smiling a little, if perplexedly, "I- well, yes, I guess- um. Like I said, it's your business. If you feel you want to tell me, then tell me. But if you'd rather keep it to yourself and ask me- well, in either case, ask me. I don't know that my answers will satisfy. The best one I can think of is 'because the space at the podium was empty'."

Marjorie chuckles lightly, trying to come back from teh dark place she was just in. "Well, metaphorically, if you will. Just wondering how such a young man came to be where he is. I expected a wrinkly old sort, the kind that seem like they were never young men, they're so hard and weathered. You don't quite strike me that way. Although in my defense, I don't hardly know you."

"Old men are wise, but cautious. They've only go so many years left. Their investment in the future is limited, almost necessarily," Perry says, immediately retreating from personal detail into abstraction, a much more comfortable space for him, "but I guess- I guess you're not asking for why youth qualifies me. This is a 'why' question. The answer still bears out in metaphor. Because the space was empty. Because someone had to see that we didn't fall apart, and lacking any better selves to offer- this is the self I have put forth."

"There are plenty of spaces, though." Marjorie notes with a sip of tea "What brought you to this space?" It seems that exacts is what Marjorie wants. Philosophy and the rest don't seem as interesting to her as this man in particular, just like the idea in particular of what will be done by Praeger. Not 'why' but 'what'.

Perry gives a slightly hollow laugh. Plenty of spaces indeed, left so by plenty of bodies, plenty of lost lives. Of course, the irony remains that it's exactly what doesn't interest Marjorie that constitutes Perry's answer. Philosophy and the rest. Or so he believes. But he chooses to answer differently, sensing (and getting better at accepting) that not everyone is on the same trip as he. "A woman approached me, told me I was gifted, told me there was a struggle I could be part of. I have looked for something like this for as long as I can remember really looking for anything, you know, beyond the right channel for my Saturday morning cartoons."

She isn't giving up. She should have been a reporter! "Why?" she asks, smiling comfortably at him. "What really made you decide to make the jump from voting for certain candidates to what some may consider to be terrorism, treason or revolution?" She asks, finishing her tea and setting the mug aside for the moment. "I know it seems like quite a personal question, and I hope you don't mind that I've asked it."

No one asks Perry personal questions. He doesn't have an aversion to answering. In fact, he feels weirdly flattered that anyone might even care. It takes a moment for him to assemble an answer he hopes will satisfy her this time. He speaks with care, as a result. "I… think it is necessary," is the easy answer, but he knows it won't be enough, "the world- changed. Forever. The system we have now, the way of thinking- it can't survive, mustn't survive. It can't be fixed, can't be amended. Everything is different. The revolution, the turn… it's already come. What things will look like once the dust is settled… those are the stakes. Bourgeois democracy just won't cut it. It's either be a revolutionary, terrorist, whatever, or be swept up helpless in the riptide of history."

Marjorie nods, seemingly a litlte bit more interested in this answer, though it's not quite what she's looking for. "Did you lose someone, in the bomb perhaps? Or are you not from here?" She's curious about the person she could well be following to a very dark place. And she's very polite, naturally interested and graces him wiht a smile for each answer he manages to give her.

"No, no," Perry says, shaking his head, "I didn't lose anyone. This… isn't personal. I mean, it is. I'm Evolved," for all that he has little evidence beyond a positive test, "it is deeply personal in that regard. But I'm fighting for a principle. Nothing- nothing is more important than that, nothing can be. Anything less would be… pathological."

The young man rises to his feet. "I'm sorry if- if that doesn't seem sufficient. But know- know that because of my reasons, nothing will ever be more important than our cause to me. It is everything. Not some stand in. Not because I have nothing left to lose. I choose this, seeing necessity, unforced." He dips his head. "Thank you for the cookies. I think- I think I need to keep working. I-" he attempts a smile, "I won't be much use to the cause if I get evicted. I appreciate the visit. I hope- I hope things get better.

"I hope we can make them better."

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