The World Staggers


claudia_icon.gif graeme_icon.gif nicole2_icon.gif

Scene GM'd by:


Scene Title The World Staggers
Synopsis A woman collapses outside of a coffee shop, but she doesn't go quietly.
Date February 5, 2011

Lower East Side

The Lower East side is one of the oldest neighborhoods in New York City. Starting south of East Hudson Street and west of the East River, it is also bordered by Chinatown and the East Village. Tenemant housing is very prominent here, as well as many religious structures and more than a few excellent kosher delis and bakeries. For those in search of entertainment, the Lower East is home to many bars and live music venues.

The weather has hovered just above freezing. Snow on the streets and water has at least melted some and the lot of New York's pedestrians have been only having to contend with the driven slush beneath their multitude of boots, shoes and daring women in heels. A light mist falls, what could have been snow, which forces the denizens of the city to bring out umbrellas to hide under.

People wait in the bus stops on this lower east side street, taking shelter from the fine drops that fall from on high as they wait for their bus to lumber in, one woman consults the schedule that's protected behind plexiglass and bolted to a pole. A teenager leans with her back to the side of the shelter, layered clothes and looking like she might be at the ripe age for rebellion if the multitude of chains, piercings and honest to god dog collar with leash around her neck might be any indication. A rough looking woman, older if her hair is any indication and possibly homeless if her clothes do the same, sits with her hat and hoods pulled low, leaning against the side where she sits.

A coffee shop and it's patrons warm inside come and go, some leaving right away, others remain inside, sipping from their cardboard cups at Pete's Green Beans - He promises that all his products comes from sustainable and fair trade growers and thus justifies the price - or chomping down on whatever pastries might be inside. A business man comes barreling out, running into someone who's on their way in and coffee escapes from the cup he carries, flying up into the air and down onto the both of them, the blonde woman screeching.

Cars rumble by, a bus looks to be approaching from afar, a bike messenger bearing the logo of Alley Cat Couriers zips on by with their bag of goodies. The other shops on the street are busy too, Saturday has people out, people shopping, groceries, electronics, books, food. It's New York.

Inside the coffee shop, Nicole Nichols stands at the window with a fresh cup of coffee, looking out at the street to decide how long she's going to stand there before heading out with her umbrella to brave the misting rain and the slush. She winces as she watches the business man send coffee splashing everywhere. Not only did people get soaked, but that coffee is expensive. It's a shame for both those reasons.

Despite that he's indoors, Graeme takes a few steps backwards as he watches the businessman and the unfortunate collision. His own cup of coffee is safely on the table next to him, which leaves him just enough room to almost walk into Nicole. A foot away, too close for personal comfort, he ducks a bit of an abashed nod and backs up, picking up his coffee after instinctively dusting off his jeans and sweater.

Out on the street at the curb, a lone woman smokes a cigarette in one of the last few bastions for her kind in the city— outside. It's cold, damp and unfortunate, but the craving for nicotine strongly outweighs the desire to be warm and inside. The cigarette is perched between two long fingers, nails painted a dark red, fingertips yellowed from a life of this habit. A life longer than most people might have believed she's led.

Exhaling twin nostrils of smoke, the old blonde draws tight lips back into a faint smile as she considers the sky, and more so a reflection of something in the windows of a passing bus. The cigarette is pulled from painted lips the same color as her nails, and is dropped down into the ice and snow, crushed out with one heel of her shoe. Turning to the side, she watches the businessman and the woman he's soaked in hot coffee.

Stepping into view of the coffee shop windows, the smoker is a wrinkled and old obstruction to the view of the street. Creases line her face, like rings on a tree suggesting age. Blonde hair is worn large and wavy, curled up and away from the raised collar of her black peacoat. Something in the old woman's otherwise unremarkable attire catches the attention of Nicole Nichols' distantly focused stare. Earrings that are partially hidden behind her hair, wavy s-shaped things made from gold, with tiny horizontal bars extending out from the inward and outward curve, a half-helix.

She's seen that symbol before.

Curse words are exchanged - not to mention blame - Between man and woman, neither willing to accept that it might be them who is actually responsible. But as quick as it happened, it's dispersed, both bickering past Nicole and Graeme, making for the counter to get more coffee.

Outside, the bus pulls up with a groan and a lurch, hiding the bus stop from sight as it disgorges people who drift off to their intended destinations and some climb on board before with a hiss of air brakes, it lumbers off like a red blood cell in the veins of New york to meet it's next stop, piloted by an impassive heavy woman.

In it's wake, the teenager and young woman are gone but the old vagrant remains behind, still perched in her seat and leaning. A band of rowdy youths on scooters and skateboards travel through the mist and slush, one pushing the other and he clangs into the plexi shelter, rebounding with a scuffle and nearly falling off his skateboard but recovers along on his merry way.

The old woman in the shelter however, tips forward, forward, forward, seeming to hang there and then…

Topples, out into the street where a taxi cab screeches to a halt, ending centimeters from the woman.

Nicole's quick to offer Graeme a reassuring smile. No harm, no foul. They didn't collide in a mimicry of the scene outside, so it's all good. Her gaze settles on the smoker and her eyes lid heavily for a moment, a pang inside of her.

After a deep breath, those blue eyes again open, resolve keeping Nicole's sensible pumps rooted to the floor firmly. Until she shifts focus from smoke to earrings. "Excuse me," she murmurs, a hand on Graeme's shoulder as she passes him on her way to the door. She doesn't bother with her collapsible umbrella once outside, leaving it in her coat pocket as she fishes for a—


Two quarters are held up between thumb and forefinger toward the blonde. "Could I get a smoke?" Nicole asks. Cigarettes are expensive these days. Especially with New York taxes being what they are. Fifty cents in exchange for one cigarette isn't too bad a deal, actually. "I promised my sister that I'd qu-"

Dark chocolate and blue-highlighted head snaps up when the old woman topples over. And for a moment, Nicole is too dumbstruck to do anything but blink.

A nod. Graeme's main acknowledgement of everything that's happening out there is a nod, really, though he does move to be closer to the door should he need to do anything. He's not dressed for the weather, no coat, and while it's not uncomfortable for him to be outside, he has no actual intention of braving the weather. The woman toppling over is enough to make Graeme shove past several other people onto the more sheltered area of the sidewalk, but as the taxi successfully halts, he doesn't go any further, bringing the coffee to his lips, the warmth appreciated more now.

Brown eyes lift up to Nicole, even as that old woman's weathered hand moves inside of that black pea-coat. A package of electric blue cigarettes is withdrawn from inside, tall silver writing on the package reading PALL MALL. She might as well be chewing on fiberglass with that brand of cigarette. The top of the pack is pushed open, and one ring-laden hand plucks a cigarette from within, and offers it out casually to Nicole.

"Keep the change," the old woman requests of Nicole, though her dark eyes soon become partway lidded behind long, heavy lashes as she considers Graeme on the sidewalk. Dark and manicured brows furrow, and the old woman turns her attention over to where the woman ont he bench had tottered forward and fallen into the street, still and unmoving. Her lips press together in a thin line, considering this, and dark eyes settle back on Nicole, one brow raised slowly.

The driver is out, a streak of hindi falling from his lips as he berates the woman on the ground before his car. How dare she have fallen in front of the vehicle. He has paying passengers! Get up! Because clearly he didn't hit her so she's fine.


True to most New York form, the passenger is sticking his head out of the window, yelling at the taxi driver to get back in and drive away, they have an appointment to get to.

Which… he does. Gets back in, starts to back up and go around the woman.

Who remains on the ground, unmoving. In the same position that she had been when she'd fallen off the bench.

Despite not having any cigarettes with her, Nicole still has a lighter, which she exchanges the coins in her hand for. Once the cigarette's lit, she peers back at the other smoker. Perhaps it's typical New York disaffect, but it's a long moment and a long drag on her cigarette (oh gross) before she's actually stepping over toward the woman in the street.

Checking for traffic before she crouches down next to her, smouldering stick between her lips, Nicole shakes the woman's shoulder first, then reaches to press fingers to her neck, looking for a pulse. Jesus Christ, do not be dead, lady.

Coffee is set down on the table, forgotten, and Graeme grumbles to himself a bit as he follows Nicole. Can't let her help the woman by herself, after all. Sidesteps around the lady Nicole got the cigarette from, vaults over the hood of the parked car that's in his way, and sets himself standing such that Nicole now has room without the worry of someone driving possibly not seeing her. Least he can do.

An observer watches Graeme Cormac thoughtfully, and the blonde woman that had offered up Nicole that cigarette steps back to shield herself from the mist beneath the awning of the coffee shop in doing this. Another cigarette is drawn from the pack, lifted up to her lips and held there. The tip begins to blacken, darken and smoulder, and then ignites all on its own. Breathing in deeply, the ember glows red hot, and as she pulls the cigarette from her mouth, the old woman allows a lungful of smoke to drift out of her nostrils in twin jets.

Dark eyes the color of burnt wood study Graeme, regarding him beyond the ragged fringe of her lashes. One corner of her mouth creeps up into a subtly pleased smile as he moves to help Nicole and investigates the fallen woman.

No pulse, no laxness even, the woman stiff beneath Nicole's hand and rigid. Others are starting to stop and watch, wondering if it's a joke. But as seconds tick by, nothing.

Nicole sighs heavily and pushes herself to her feet. This is not her day. First the televised fiasco with her fiancé to deal with, and now this. In an hour, or two, she'll wonder how she managed to stay so passive. In years past, this would be the point where she seized up and began to panic that the woman may be dead. Is dead?

Today, Nicole carefully takes the cigarette between the vee of her fingers and holds her paper coffee cup in the same hand, then reaches into her pocket to procure her ever-present BlackBerry to call 911.

Graeme's presence is enough to keep people from venturing too close, for the most part, though he has a very stern look for a few people who seem to be too curious without the potential to be helpful. There's a bit of a grimace on his face as the cigarette smoke reaches him, but he's gracious, he doesn't say much further.

Drawing another breath off of the cigarette, the blonde woman sucks in another lungful of smoke. It's held in, much as her posture is momentarily tense as she considers Graeme's silent presence. Soon those red lips part, and smoke wafts out again, fingertips knocking the growing length of ash from the end of the cigarette down into the snow at her feet. Pedestrians are beginning to stop and watch what's happening, attention on the disturbance on the side of the road.

Shaking her free hand from side to side, the old woman urges one sleeve up to reveal a watch on her wrist, one that is regarded with a downwards cast of those dark eyes. She looks back up again, up towards Nicole and Graeme, her throat working up and down into a slow, steady swallow in anticipation of something.

Nicole's finger depresses the nine, then the one, about to press the second, Graemes grimace about to bloom into completion and a young man leaning over to do as Nicole just did, to check for a pulse when there's a ungodly sound from her, a keening wail that seems to go on forever before it tapers off into babbling.

"The opposite detector shines against an incentive. The bacterium stocks the bliss. How does a shy deadline experiment? The fifty leader glows next to the advanced anniversary." She remain in the same position, the seemingly vagrant woman, but she talks.. and talks… and talks.

"Will a convenience sing behind the opposing soup? The purchase attacks its lonely god on top of the pork. The megabyte associates with the harmless cluster. Any bigotry toes the line!"

End is mashed twice to clear the number and bring up the home menu once the woman starts wailing. Nicole brings up the sound recorder, it's hotkeyed, so she can catch what the woman is saying, blinking her eyes heavily. Her gaze comes up to Graeme, wide and confused. Not that she expects he'll have any answers for her.

Graeme reaches a hand to one ear, rubbing the side of his head, and looks around. "Would someone call 911 anyway?" he asks, a bit of a drawl almost punctuating his voice. "Don't just stand there lollygagging." He winces, planting his feet a little further apart, and glancing around, a smooth, sweeping gaze that only barely lets on puzzlement at the older blonde, and vague distrust. Well, vague distrust of anything.

"A satellite zooms under a ditch!" She's whispering now and when the young man looks, he pulls back, milky eyes beneath the woman's hat and hood. She begins to jerk, arms and legs shaking even as Nicole records everything that's being said.

"The substitute breaks inside the underlying protein. Any referendum despairs underneath flesh! Does a retrieval remember a waving motive? The civilian essence jokes outside the ashamed murder." The whole of her is shaking now, drool tinted pink coming out of the corner of her mouth before it turns a certain shade of red. "El vendra a partir del pasado para cambiar su futuro, pero siendo el mismo. Under a mined filter treks the welcome winter. The imprisoned center skips opposite a slave. The ascending participant pays the dusty laboratory."

"Dude! I'm calling" the backpedaling youth says, whipping out his phone, but no one seems to want to touch her again, everyone keeping their distance, even as another older woman's hand covers her mouth, making the four stations of the cross on her own body. "How can a secondary discovery develop your motive? The beginning sun shouts." She reaches out with a shaking hand towards Graeme.

"The world staggers!"

Her palm drops to the ground.

Nicole's heard about things like this. Her hands are shaking, but she keeps recording. Leaves calling for help to other people. Other less selfish people. She sets her coffee on the pavement and knocks the cherry off her cigarette on the curb with the intent to light it again later. For now, it gets tucked behind her ear. Her now free hand reaches out to the woman, morbid curiosity getting the best of Miss Nichols.

As long as someone else is calling, Graeme doesn't particularly care. His cell phone's service is still out of New Mexico, and he doesn't trust the geolocation things to put him through to the correct 911 service, so instead he focuses on continuing to make sure the woman on the ground has adequate space, with a bit of a 'what the fuck are you doing?' look spared for Nicole.

Someone may have noticed her depart, but behind the growing crowd watching the woman who fell onto the street and began speaking in word soup, the woman who was sheltering herself beneath the awning of a coffee shop has disappeared. Not into the ether, like some sort of specter, but rather back inside of the coffee shop where Graeme had left his coffee on the table. She reaches inside of her jacket, withdrawing a thin piece of card-stock between two fingers, and tucks it beneath the coffee cup, along with a folded piece of paper.

The card is red, black and white, displaying a stylized golden flame emblem that sort of resembles a fish hook. On the card in white text, writing reads THE DEVEAUX SOCIETY and below that reads Dedicated to a vision of the future, attainable today. The folded piece of paper, however, is a name and an address: Ygraine FitzRoy, 1 West Street New York, NY, Apartment #309. — LIBERTY

With the card and the folded piece of paper left behind, the old woman offers a look up through the front window of the coffee shop, then walks towards the front door, pushing it open and walking past a still-smoking cigarette lying on the snow by the doorway. Rounding the corner, she keeps on walking, past the crowd and past the commotion.

Her work here is done.

There's no response to Nicole's prodding, no steam of breath coming from her like there was when she spoke her word soup, much like when Nicole had first rushed over, she seems lifeless.

Nicole tucks her BlackBerry inside her jacket again, though she leaves it recording, and glances around. Too many people watching. Her registry says she absorbs electricity. No playing human defibrillator. The last thing she or Bradley Russo need is another registration scandal.

Slowly, she climbs to her feet and stares down numbly at the woman. (The body?) And then she goes glancing for the woman with the half-helix earrings. Gone. Nicole swallows uneasily, retrieving her coffee, and backs up against the coffee shop's walls, her shoulders hunched. A shiver runs through her that has nothing to do with the chill in the air.

Graeme too backs up. He's got no real desire to have to give a report for the paramedics, and he picks up his coffee, not sipping it now that it's been left alone for a while. The two pieces of paper get shoved into his pocket, absently, and a moment later, he drops his coffee into a trashbin, not even bothering to buy another one. "What was that about?" he asks Nicole, coming up behind her quietly. As if she has answers.

The wail of sirens in the distance speaks of help coming for the woman, whether it will be in time, or not, who knows. neither Nicole or Graeme will, though Nicole is watched by a few others in her retreat, even a few pictures taken on various phones. But the crowd lets them through and then swallows up the scene again, cutting off the view as Graeme returns to his coffee.

"I have no idea," Nicole admits. She reaches then into her coat to shut off the recording. And then, she forwards it to 56426. She shakes her head and looks up at Graeme at her side. Despite a clear head before, now she's in shock. "Just another day in New York."

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