To Whom It May Concern


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Scene Title To Whom It May Concern
Synopsis Abby was leaving on a jet plane, don't know when she'll be back again. She left Flint a letter via Joseph, who finally gets around to delivering it.
Date November 28, 2009

Greenwich Village

It's clear and cold, and for all that the stars are brighter now without Midtown to contribute to the off-color haze that paints the night sky more brown than blue, it's pretty dark. Deckard stands alone at a pay phone with no receiver attached to the silver dangle of the cord, the panel that protected spare change long since ripped off the box's black face.

He's chewing on an unlit cigar, and he's inebriated. Both of these truths are fairly evident for anyone who happens to glance his way in passing. Less easily registered by the unwary eye is the delicate, creeping progress of new flesh through a series of slender gashes gouged into the side of his face while he waits, cold hands stuffed deep into the pockets of his leather jacket, breath puffing like smoke around the base of a cigar that he can't. Smoke, that is.

Bruises blanch away from bony knuckles, out of sight and out of mind. A ligament tightens back into place with a muffled pop. He checks his cell phone for the tenth time; blearily stares down a five-foot-nothing latino mugger who puffs up and bows his elbows out on his way over, like maybe he's thinking he wants that cell phone for himself. Blue eyes are having a hard time focusing on brown, but his hombre in the stocking cap too sober to miss the fact that Flint's face is knitting itself back together. He moves on. Deckard thumbs over the 'send' button.

Either he's so damn drunk he's forgotten that he's already talked to Joseph four times, or he's being intentionally obnoxious.

The phone rings, and rings, until Southern sensibilities and general politeness means that he can't just hang up, even if it is the fourth time now. Still, the tinny voice on the other end is especially brisk— I'm almost there— before the dial tone replaces Tennessee twang.

By now, it's not too long before a car is pulling up. It's not the modest blue of his Daihatsu, either, now a rusty red of a Volvo, either recently bought or borrowed just for this occasion. Headlights sweep low over pavement driven slick from driving rain of the prior day. A tire bumps up onto the curb, and metal wrenches as the driver door is opened. Joseph hops once, twice, pushing closed the door before steering a look around the place, doubt that Deckard had gotten the address right for the time it takes before he spots him.

Familiar lanky frame by the phonebooth. Uncertain about this entire corner of town, Joseph adjusts his worn jacket around himself, worn brown leather with a woolen collar, dirty white, jeans and boots. He doesn't move fast but then, he rarely does.

Deckard is pretty easy to pick out, yeah. Tall and lean with the ruffled buzz and the beat up jacket and drying blood smudged sticky where cuts were but bit by bit no longer are, he makes a somewhat atypical drunk homeless person. Maybe because he's wearing pants. Who knows, though. The night is young. He might find a reason to take them off yet.

The Volvo is unfamiliar. Fortunately it's also red, and with the narrow band of Flint's attention span pretty firmly centered on things that are shiny, busty and/or colorful, he's looking that way when Joseph lets himself out.

Looking turns over into walking. For about three feet. He trips over the curb and is nearly swept back onto the sidewalk by a taxi before he deduces that he'd be better served by waiting for Joseph to come to him, so he does that instead, damp cigar mouthed out into his right hand.

"Just— !" —goes likely unheeded, the word cutting off as Joseph sighs the rest out, "stay put." He picks up the pace a little, an uneven jog after looking left and right to make sure he doesn't get mowed down by a passing car and making more interesting Flint's evening. Boots scrape quick and light across asphalt, concern written around a tentative, if somewhat helpless smile for the other man as Joseph comes up to the curb.

Reaches out a hand to grip Flint's arm, even before greeting with a, "Hey. You okay?" There's no attempt at walking, yet, black eyed gaze scouring the other man up and down, nose wrinkling just a little at the smell of alcohol.

"Never better," says Flint, which is probably a lie. He looks at the arm Joseph's gripping maybe a little pointedly, but doesn't pull away. Doesn't tense up either — just offers the somewhat mash-ended stogie over across himself as an awkward token of his thanks he's aware enough to know Sumter won't take him up on. "Cigar?"

Physically, he looks fine. Smudged blood is rubbed off onto the shoulder of his jacket sleeve, also awkwardly, but the skin underneath is unbroken. He looks healthy. Feels healthy. Even smells passably clean under the fog of whiskey he's mired himself in for the evening. If Joseph considers Old Spice to be passable.

"S'it cool if I crash at your secret underground layer?"

"It's not mine." No answer as to whether it's 'cool' or not, Joseph's grip on Deckard's arm sturdy and unrelenting. No shying away from pointed looks, either. He's dealt with worse from the older man in any case. The cigar gets a vaguely waved decline, blood glanced to, Flint's long face inspected, but— Speaking of healthy, Joseph appears to be so too. It's like they say about time's healing properties.

Deckard is levered along with Joseph, the pastor's sturdier frame to his advantage in helping Flint across the road when it doesn't seem like they'll get run over. Towards the car, red and all, not a colour Joseph would have chosen for himself, with streaks of Midtown dust scouring up its sleek sides and making matte grey the tires.

"I've been tryin' to get in touch with you since the last time. Figures you'd just call one day."

Barely able to get the cigar butt steered back into his mouth before he's jostled along like a very large and scruffy manpurse, Flint fends off closer inspection with a lean away and a reasonably convincing, "Should see the other guy." He doesn't seem unhappy, though, and even smiles hazily to himself at Joseph's insistance on steering him across the street once he's looked both ways.

It's the dust rather than the red paint that catches Deckard's attention once they're to the car, index finger immediately crooked out after Artistic Pursuits that he probably won't attain before the door's open and he's hunkered down inside.

"My phone was off. Did somebody else die?"

The door is shoved open, and Deckard urged inside without anything unnecessary. A minor push, pointed words, dirfty hand gestures, though Joseph doesn't head for the drivers' until he can be sure the other man has all limbs inside the vehicle, por favor. There's the scent of cigarettes within the Volvo, so clearly it can't be Joseph's. There's a couple of empty soda cans rattling around among Deckard's feet, when he gets them inside, like shiny magpie toys to be attracted to if glossy metal is eyecatching.

"No one died. Not talkin' about your ability. But everyone's gone, kinda." Basically. Joseph stands where he is, an arm rested on the open wing of Deckard's door, other hand braced against the edge of the vehicle's roof as he looks down towards the other Ferryman. "When was the last time you talked to Abby? Or Teo?"

The clatter and clank of cans around Deckard's feet is resisted for all of two seconds before he's reached up to snare one up in his bony grasp. It's crushed in his hand like a model of the world in glittering miniature, all razor edges and brightly stamped logo while his legs stretch longs and his feet plant themselves flat against stained carpeting. He's chill. Relaaaxed. And a little cramped until he manages to fumble his free hand down after the seat adjustments so that he can push himself further back a few spare inches.

He breathes deep once he has, crushed can rolled off the end of his fingers to rejoin its more intact friends while he considers condensation on the windshield and doesn't fasten his seatbelt. "Dunno," is a stock answer on the subject of uncomfortable subjects, muffled past the thick roll of his cigar while he tips his head back against the rest. "April. Maybe May. You look better."

"It's November," Joseph points out. Helpfully. Wind that has about the right amount of chill to support the pastor's claim blows brisk and urging, inspiring a shiver and tension in his shoulders as Deckard is treated to a somewhat unreadable look. Not insincerely, Joseph says; "Thanks."

The shutting of the car door punctuates this, headlights kept on flaring up Joseph's form as he moves around the head of the car, slipping into the driver's seat and pulling the door shut. There's the hiss of his own seatbelt being drawn out, a click when it's sealed into place, his hands coming to rest on the wheel. However, he's not driving, staring at the windshield thoughtfully before glancing at Flint. "She, uh…"

Ahem. Joseph clears his throat. "She left you a letter. Thing. Before she took off for Russia, doin' God knows what." A beat, before realising further explanation might be required. "Left it with me, that is. Thinkin' somehow I'd cross paths with you easy."

Tnk. One of Deckard's boots shifts uncomfortably and tumps a settled can over another in the brief but prominant silence that follows Joseph closing the door after himself. He'd nodded to the younger man's thanks easily enough, comfortably liquored up and un-self-conscious, but evidently not so drunk that he isn't aware of the tension in here now.

Quiet in the face of the news: that Abigail wrote him a letter and that she's in Russia, Flint stays facing forward for longer than he probably should. Eventually he concedes to the serious-business nature this interaction has taken on by drawing his stogie away from his mouth and prodding it down into the (ironically) empty cup holder in uncoordinated fashion. Then that same hand is splayed open and waiting across the center console, palm up.

The envelope extracted out of his jacket pocket is unsealed but closed, folded over and a little rough from last minute shoving it into the wool-lined leather after some quick decision making. But intact enough. Despite Deckard's state— or maybe because of it, mellow and slightly soggy with whiskey— Joseph places the crumpled paper into the older man's hand without need for a verbal prompt. By rights, it's his. Hanging onto it for this long has been—

Uncomfortable. To say the least. "You should probably read it when you're sober too," is muttered as Joseph allows his attention to drift out the windshield once more, taking in the nighttime shadows of a reasonably familiar neighbourhood of New York City.

More sober now than he was, in overall demeanor if not blood alcohol levels, Deckard receives the proferred letter in inscrutable silence and opens it in much the same manner. His fingers feel thicker than they are in tripping over dog-eared envelope edges and against worn paper. There's some quiet rustling before he manages to get it all the way open, followed up with a futile pat after the pocket he used to keep his glasses in, but he doesn't need them anymore. Not for this. They're in a dusty shoebox somewhere with a multitude of other relics rendered irrelevent by time and/or divine intervention. St. Rita, a rickety old journal and God knows how many pairs of sunglasses.

Deckard reads.

It takes him a while. Even with vision problems a thing of the past, he has to focus to keep lines from bleeding together before the slow knit of his brow. Several paragraphs have to be re-read more than once for them to parse out into something that makes sense.

When he's finally done, he sniffs and swallows once before he lowers the letter back down into his lap, expression having changed little away from its initial muddle. The slack of his narrow jaw is a little more dejected, maybe, when he thinks to look blankly over at Joseph seated next to him. That's about it.

There's no curiousity or expectant waiting in the look Joseph trades back to him. He's read it. Of course he's read it. Abigail had to leave it unsealed for a reason and maybe he wanted to know what kind of Flint he was going to deal with after the fact. Instead, there's some sympathy, muted, though, with a general kind of disappointment. The letter says it — Flint had hit her. Still.

Still. Joseph starts the engine with a twist of the key in ignition, but there's no jerk and shudder of moving vehicle yet. "Do you wanna talk about it?" is a reasonably neutral offer.

Initial question answered at a glance, Deckard looks down and away again to occupy himself with the delicate process of folding the letter back up along established creases. He does so with excessive care; pushes it back into the envelope without damaging the paper any further on its way into his own jacket. It's something to do that takes up time and fills space in the wake of Joseph's offer. S'time spent thinking, which is made all the more miserable by the fact that there's nothing he currently wants to do less, or he wouldn't have bothered with drinking in the first place.

"She said," he starts, and the fact that he's willing to get even that far is something of a miracle, "she said if I loved her I'd heal Francois. If any shred of me — or. Something. I dunno." Knuckles buff absently at the scuff of blood that remains at his cheek despite his efforts thus far and he settles deeper into his seat, mirror image dull orange under a street lamp's reflected light in the window next to him.

It's like taking one piece of puzzle— say, for example, a piece of a cow, maybe the back end— and then getting another puzzle piece, which is a blue swatch of indefinite sky. Joseph weighs both in his hands in this metaphor, regards the lack of picture, and— the Volvo drives okay. An initial ka-thud when the tire goes down off the curb, tipping them onto a more even horizontal. Street lights, because there are working ones and everything out this way, streams orange in intervals as they drive at a reasonably safe pace through Greenwich Village.

"She loves you," Joseph offers, after a moment. "An' maybe she went and said a stupid thing, pushed you, and you lashed out." Luckily for him, painting a new picture in between the assorted bits he has to work with is— was— kind of his job. "Now you just know you can't do it again. It becomes habit and she's gone. More gone."

Joseph shrugs beneath his jacket. "You'll be okay. And I'm worried about her over there too."

"Love's a big word."

Not the most profound thing Deckard's ever said, maybe, but it weighs heavy in the rough of his voice and seems to use up all the air in him, so that he has to draw two breath's worth back in before he has energy enough to reach back for his cigar. He clamps it carefully back in his teeth, one brow twitching down at the way the damp end's had time to cool down. It's cold and dead against his tongue, taste gone out of it until he champs at the wrap enough to open it up again.

"Nice parking job," is off-hand and distracted once he's sighed most of his ar back out again, eyes closed and shoulders lax.

Joseph rolls his eyes upwards to the felt-lined car ceiling above, not high enough for God and Heaven. Jabs about his parking are, in the long run, not so bad. A glance confirms that talking time is probably over, and he reaches out a hand towards the heater to try and turn it up, some. Eventually, the pastor sighs out, "Well, she said it first."

Aaand he drives, with a sight more talent than his parking.

"I'm taking anti-depressants," announced at a mutter some ten minutes deeper into Greenwich, Deckard reaches to roll the window down enough for cold air to rush through his — stubble collection? Ears? Stogie? His hair's already as mussed as it can get for as short as it is, grey still dusted with ashy brown in places despite the last twelve months. "I get drunk faster."

It's kind of like an apology, in a way, even if it doesn't so much as rhyme with, 'Sorry.' He muffles a belch behind the soggy rear of his cigar. Stretches himself out again. Resettles. Looks out the window.

"I shouldn't be with her. We were more functional when she was the healer and I was just a creepy old guy trying to save her life all the time." Highly possible that his memory is somewhat whiskey-tinted in this regard, but he looks and sounds sincere as best as such things are discernible through the big stick of tobacco he's chewing. "You think I'll do it again?"

By the time Deckard has chosen to pipe up again, the heater is going properly, if creakily, and it's pleasant in here now if not enouigh to fog windows, especially now with the counter of a brisk wind flowing in through Deckard's window. Not that warmth will matter to those drinking this evening, but Joseph appreciates it. One brief look over, eyebrows going like ^ as he listens before focusing on the road ahead.

"Oh, Flint," is sighed out at that question. Kind of similar to when he'd heard about how Deckard gutted people for money and promised he didn't plan on doing it again. Hesitation, before he states; "No. I don't."

Maybe too optimistic. Joseph doesn't leave it there, shaking his head. "Though if you didn't do it in your right mind the first time, I dunno. And you'll deserve what you get if you do, regardless. And— " And! He's not done. He never will be. "That's a lie, about bein' more functional. She ain't changed, you ain't different for the worst. You scared of losin' her?" At all?

It's a while before Flint decides one way or the other. Longer than it should be, even if he is drunk and apparently intent upon layering nicotine on top of the unnatural warmth already instilled in his blood. However much of it he still has left, anyway. He nods the way kids do when they're too old to be pissing the bed but have to confess to it anyway. Mainly because it's not like they can claim somebody else climbed in and fucked around while they were in there sleeping.

Nobody made him hit Abigail.

So far all of the voice in his head's efforts towards spousal abuse have been way more indirect.

Nobody forces him to rankle his nose and slam a fist into the door panel at his side either. He does that on his own and all in a snarled, impulsive rush, breaths quickened after the muzzy heat of pain radiating up through his wrist. Hard to tell if he's just really frustrated or practicing for next time, but he's lost his stogie.

Joseph jumps. Just a little bit. Perhaps he should have seen that coming — even he had managed to slice his hand open when he'd realised he was losing his marriage in one fit of impulsive movement, but the memory doesn't surface until after a second has passed and he's spared a worried glance leftwards. "Hey," he says after a pause, gently, kind of cautious in the way people tentatively put their hands out to dogs when they aren't sure they'll get bitten for their troubles.

"She forgave you. And she don't wanna lose you either."

"She's in the fucking motherland. Looking for nukes with Teo and Francois." They left me here with you, is unspoken in there somewhere, maybe in the sideways glance that rakes bitterily across the console's worn surface while he winds his left hand around the right. Still, as far as snapping jaws and blazing eyes go it's not so bad. He remains mild overall, anger worked down into a brooding simmer that manifests in tension through the hood of his brow and a quieter, "I don't want to talk about it anymore."

Joseph's silence is sullen but also compliant, either chastened by that entirely unvocalised point of how they aren't in Russia, or at least Flint isn't and could be, or out of respect for what Deckard doesn't want to do anymore. His hands wind tense around the steering wheel, the slight creak of leather not quite audible enough over the sound of the heater and engine. Blessed quiet lasts for but several seconds, unwilling to let it lie.

"And she didn't have to go and leave you a letter at all," he states, firmly. Then, almost apologetically, he adds, "You're drunk. You'll see the silver linin' tomorrow." Or he won't, but. Hope. It springs eternal.

"Shit," murmured without context, Flint sticks to his guns. He doesn't reply and he doesn't look over again, battered hand lifted into a support for his head while the left sweeps the damp cigar out of his lap and onto the floorboard the be with the cans. Cold wind rushes in. Heat ebbs out. And with traffic moving the way it is, by the time they reach the station he'll probably have dried out enough to manage the stairs on his own.

Shit, too. Well, if this had been what Abby intended him to do, Joseph can but pray he didn't fail at it too miserably — Flint is nigh unreadable. One last worried glance, less firm and steady than what he'd put into his tone, he settles back in his seat, and concentrate now on shepherding Flint to somewhere warm for the night and quiet for the morning.

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