The Life and Times of a Dead Deodorant


christine_icon.gif milton_icon.gif

Scene Title The Life and Times of a Dead Deodorant
Synopsis An off duty cop listens to live poetry in a Brooklyn bar.
Date 3 December 2010

A Bar, Brooklyn

//Christine's outfit in this scene:

A small, down at heel bar in a part of Brooklyn that isn't hip enough to be trendy, isn't poor enough to be deprived, and isn't pleasant enough to be more than half full even on a Friday night, when New Yorkers traditionally pour out of their workplaces and into the bars to celebrate the end of their working week. Recently, this establishment has resorted to live entertainment; which, since it isn't big enough to fit in a whole band, means a poetry night once a month. Which is why Milton is here, leather jacket and shades, notebook in hand, chatting to a couple of other regulars from the New York amateur poetry circuit as he dangles a glass of cola in his hand which may or may not have something alcoholic added.

Whoever said that cops don't enjoy their poetry certainly never met a one Christine Jackson. She's enjoyed all things literary since…well, since at least high school, if not a little bit before. There's something about it…maybe it's the fact that it's one of those things that helped her stay sane in high school, where all things seem to be dragging a person as far away from sanity as possible. Either way, she's here at this little small bar to enjoy a night of poetry. And, since she's not working, she's donned a smallish black jacket, and jeans. Simple? Perhaps. But she likes it. Entering into said bar, she looks around, trying to decide if she wants to get a drink first or find a place to sit first.

"Well of /course/ the words you choose matter," declaims Milton to a short plump man in a windcheater who looks nothing like a poet at all, but who is in fact generally regarded as a considerably more promising one than Milton is by the arbiters of the scene. "But if you're reading aloud the effect is totally different to if you're reading from a page. So much so, I want to write all my poems in two versions. One for publication, one for performance. Don't you?" The chubby poet evidently does not, for he sees someone enter just behind Christine who he wants to talk to urgently, and ducks away from Milton with a muttered goodbye. Milton looks after him as he goes, and in doing so, sees Christine. For a moment he frowns, knowing he's seen that face before, but not recognising it out of context.

Deciding on drink first and seat later, Christine heads over to the bar. Waving down the bartender quite quickly, she says, "Got the ingredients for a cop killer?" She finds it ironic, at least inwardly, that she's a cop asking for a drink called a 'cop killer'. When the bartender shakes his head, telling her that he does not, in fact, have all the ingredients for a cop killer, she frowns. "Okay…I'll have a Manhattan Ice Tea please. Thank you." And she looks back to the rest of the room as she waits for her drink.

Milton's brain isn't always the swiftest device known to man, but it generally gets him there in the end. Of course! It's that cop who sometimes shows up in the court building where he works. Of course, he figures, she won't be here for the poetry event, but he may as well go and say hi. And so he does just that. "Well, hi there!" he greets her as he walks up. "Didn't expect to see you here off duty."

Unfortunately, while Christine is a cop, she deals with tonnes of people, so when Milton approaches her and greets her, she tilts her head. "Do…I'm sorry." She smiles a little bit. "Where do I know you from?" Okay, maybe he seems a little familiar. She shakes her head. "I'm sorry. Hi." She says with a shrug. "And…why wouldn't you expect to see me here?"

"Last time I saw you was last week," Milton reminds her. "You carried some papers around for me while I tried to find you a judge. Did your guy ever get his ass arraigned?"

"Oh yeah! Thanks for that, by the way. That wasn't the funnest of days, let me tell you." Christine rolls her eyes. Her drink arrives, she pays the bartender, and she turns back to Milton, taken a sip of the manhattan ice tea. She offers a shrug. "I dunno. All I know is I had to take him back to his cell afterwards. I don't deal with him after that." She says lightly. "You didn't answer my other question though. Why wouldn't you expect to see me here?"

"Well," Milton extemporizes, realising that what he was about to say doesn't exactly sound polite — that cops aren't expected to be poets. "I've never seen you anyplace but work, so when I saw you in here it startled me for a moment."

Christine waves her free hand over he clothing and smile. "I'm not in my uniform, so that should be a good start to tell ya that I'm not here on work business." She says kindly enough. "I wasn't exactly expecting to see someone from one of the courthouses myself. That just goes to show you, we all have interests beyond our work, right?"

"Oh! You're here for the poetry, then?" Milton says. "Not just to hang out after work?"

Christine chuckles a little. "Yes, I'm here for the poetry. It's like Khalil Gibran said, 'Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary.' And ain't that the truth? A little poetry never hurt nobody."

Milton looks a little astonished. He's never even heard of Khalil Gibran, though he's hardly about to admit to that failing. "Well, shoot!" he says. "I'm gonna be reading a couple of my own later on. Do you compose —" he says 'compose' and not 'write' — "or do you just like to listen?"

Christine shakes her head. "I don't write at all. Reading may be something I like, but writing…if I had any amount of skill in it in the past, writing reports for work squashed it…and squashed it good." Taking a long sip of her drink, she shrugs. "I'm just here to listen, that's about it."

Milton takes a sip from his own drink. "They're gonna be starting in five minutes. You been to one of these before? I think this is only the second reading event in this bar, but there's others all over Brooklyn and New York… well, I guess you know that…"

Christine nods a little and smiles. "I've been to a few before. Though, work keeps me too busy to go to them often. I go when I can, though. I was lucky enough to have tonight off." She tilts her head. "So, what kinda stuff do you write?"

Milton shifts from foot to foot, a little uncomfortable at being asked to put a label on his brainchildren. "Sort of neo-beat angry stuff. Not quite ranting punk poetry but I try to put some of that same energy in… while not getting so angry that the point gets lost in the fury… yes?"

Christine blinks a few times. "Neo-beat angry stuff?" She takes another sip of her drink. "Well, I look forward to it. It's not every day that I recognize someone from work that actually does anything like this. Good on ya for doing it though. It's…something that more people should be involved in. I guess most people don't have the time though." Or don't have the interest. Either way.

"That's true enough," frowns Milton. "But in a society like today's, a sick society where few people feel safe or know what tomorrow may bring… poets are needed more than ever, not less. Oh, wait! I think things are kicking off. I'm gonna grab a seat," he offers, "shall I get you one?"

Christine nods a little bit. "Well, you should spread the word about it, then." She says before taking another tiny sip of her drink. "Maybe if more people know that these things are going on, and if they're encouraged to, they might start coming more." She says thoughtfully. "Oh, yeah. I guess a seat would be good. Thank you."

In all truth there's not a huge rush for seats as the first poet takes centre stage (so to speak, for there is no stage, just a spot with a microphone at the middle of the semicircle of chairs). Milton takes a pew, and lets Christine have a seat alongside him if she likes. The guy who's on first does not have clear enunciation, despite the mike, and his somewhat elliptical use of language combines with this to make his poetry a little… difficult.

Taking said seat beside Milton, because knowing a person at these events is better than not knowing someone, Christine listens, or at least tries to listen, to the first guy on set. Taking yet another sip of her ever dwindling drink, she finds her attention wandering from the man at the mic, and more into random thoughts.

Eventually the host of the evening replaces the opening poet on the stand, to mild applause. Second poet up is a small and very lesbian-looking young woman with cropped hair and a pugnacious expression. Milton has obviously seen her before, because he leans toward Christine and murmurs "This should be entertaining. She's radical."

Christine is looks too happy when the first 'poet' is done, though she tries to hide it. She claps a little, as is polite, but that's about it. She looks upon the new person with mild interest. When Milton leans in to tell her something, Christine leans back and whispers, "'Radical' as in 'good' or as in…you know…the original meaning of the word?"

Milton just gives Christine a bit of a superior grin. "Both."

Christine nods a little, turning her attention back to the woman on 'stage', interested to hear what she's written.

The woman in question delivers a screed in praise of the Universal Feminine and damning men. Every now and again she glares at Milton, who fails entirely to wilt under the gaze. Eventually she too is done, concluding her poem with a thinly veiled call for all women in the world (or at least in this bar… both of them) to rise up against their oppressors. Then she sweeps off with head held high.

Christine raises an eyebrow of curiosity throughout the whole performance. "Well…she doesn't seem to like men much at all." She says once the woman had moved away. "Especially not you." She gives Milton a look. "Did you and her get in a fight once or something?" Because she really seemed to be glaring at Milton.

Milton shakes his head. "No more than any other guy. I think she thinks men belong in concentration camps. Or, you know, just dead. Anyway, it's me up now…" He rises to his feet and walks to the mike, trying to look cool in his jacket and shades (and almost succeeding, perhaps). His notebook, held open by paper clips and interleaved with tags and post-its, is open to a carefully chosen spot. Standing at the mike, he surveys the audience (all nine of them) for a second, and declares "The Life and Times of a Dead Deodorant." Which would appear to be the title of his poem.

"Well, ain't she just the charmer, then?" Christine says, rolling her eyes. "Well, her loss to not even be friends with 'em. But who am I to judge? I mean…some men are…" She pauses. Maybe that's not the best thing to say to a guy. "Well, some guys just don't know how to talk to other people." Yes. That's what she meant to say. As Milton stands, she smiles slightly, "Good luck!" And then she hears the title. Oh boy…

Milton twitches one corner of his mouth in a faint smile at Christine, and then launches into the poem. To give it a neutral judgment; it's not bad, of its kind, but it almost certainly isn't as good as Milton thinks it is. Parts of it are passionate, parts show a not unskilful choice of words, and parts are frankly sophomoric. Also, here and there are clues to anyone who knows the original Beat poets that Milton has lifted a few tricks from Jack Kerouac and not filed the serial numbers quite all the way off.

Christine listens intently. After all, she did come here to listen to poetry and the like. She smiles softly as she listens to Milton recite his poem. Well, definitely not as bad as she thought it was gonna be. But not the best either. Not that she'll exactly tell him that, mind. But she does keep her attention focused on it and him as she takes a sip of her almost empty drink.

Milton's manner of reading verse is something similar to his poetry style; he speaks clearly, but is prone to theatrical gestures and over-emphasising his points by speaking VERY LOUDLY or v-e-r-y s-o-f-t-l-y rather than letting the words work by themselves. Anyway, eventually he's done, and he smiles thinly to the scattered applause before slipping away from the mike to sit down again by Christine. He gives her a somewhat shy look, as if he'd like to ask her what she thought but doesn't quite dare.

Christine claps softly, but still loud enough to be heard, as Milton finishes off his poem. As he sits down, she gives him a little smile. "That was…good." Is what she simply says. Shaking her glass back and forth, indicating that it's empty, she says, "Well, I'm gonna go get myself something else to drink. I'll be right back." And zooom! Off to the bar!

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