Trolls and Bridges


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Scene Title Trolls and Bridges
Synopsis Kain, Dixon and Manny pay a visit to a small-time arms dealer moving in on Linderman's turf, and deliver an ultimatum.
Date October 25, 2008

Staten Island

There's something about the fringes of Staten Island that will always inspire sentiments of unease. After the bomb, much of Staten Island has fallen into glorious disrepair, so much so that places that were already in stages of decay look more like monuments to entropy than once urban settlements in decline. While much of the island was suburban residential areas before the bomb, there were two crowning moments that drove this borough of New York into an early grave. The first was the mass exodus of survivors and panicked people fleeing Manhattan. They came by foot, bicycle and car across the bridges to Staten Island, all manner of desperate and frightened people flooding into a crowded place. While some fled through to New Jersey, others simply couldn't — or wouldn't — go further. This, like in Queens, led to an eventual chaos that would in time eclipse the pandemonium in the eastern edge of New York after the bomb.

Staten Island was in the direct path of the fallout from the explosion, and after thousands fled to the island, the entire populace was forcibly evacuated. Those few that managed to stay, clung to their homes desperately, and those few who did would suffer from radiation sickness and the ever-escalating crime rate. By the time Staten Island got the "all clear" from the government, the damage had already been done.

What was one suburban neighborhoods and parklands is now a monument to decay. Houses lie in various states of disuse and ruin, and like much of New York has seen property values nosedive. Few want to move out to a formerly irradiated zone, and even fewer want to return to a place so rife to violent crime. Now, much of Staten Island lies in various states of decay. Houses abandoned by families that fled the city, were forced into forclosure and were never resold, or simply places where entire families went missing and are now squatted in by any number of transients line the once peaceful streets. Staten Island is a home to crumbling infrastructure, spotty electricity, and people who wish to remain undiscovered by law enforcement. Few police will willingly go into this now infamous island.

Sunset on Staten Island is a contradictory thing, on the one hand there's the warm glow of orange sunlight that creeps its way between buildings and through trees, shading everything in an otherworldly golden glow. But it's what the sun is shining on that creates the contrast, terribly collapsed buildings and broken pavement, cracked and buckled from two years worth of winters without roadwork having been done. Dangling power lines swing in the strong wind from telephone poles skewed by unknown accidents. It's like shining a flashlight on a garbage dump, it hilights all of the worst elements.

Much like a flashlight shone into the dark, it causes all of the bottom-feeding scum to scatter to the places where light does not cast. In Staten Island, the largest shadow to hide in is the one beneath the Verrazano-Narrows bridge. An immense piece of architectural wonder, this suspension bridge has mostly sat in disuse — but ample repair — since the bomb. With the lower levels reserved for government through-traffic that hasn't been utilized in over a year and a half, and the upper deck for pedestrian traffic, it makes the narrow side streets and cul-de-sacs that traverse the ground below the bridge an obscure place to hide all matter of clandestine meetings.

In these shadows, the coakroaches of society gather. One such cockroach, is Kain Zarek.

"Ah ain't sure, but which one o'you gorillas is ewearing too much cologne?" Sitting behind the wheel of a black Ford Expedition, Kain navigates the pot-hole riddled and upheaved back streets that lead towards the underbelly of the bridge. At his side, his erstwhile bodyguard and long-time friend Dixon sits in the shotgun position, a remarkably apt term for today's exercises. Behind him, in one of the back seats, the yin to Dixon's yang — Manny — rests one of his enormous hands on the corners of each seat in front of him, sunlight reflecting off of his circular sunglasses. "Jesus Manny, it's you." Kain drawls with a scowl, leaning away from his pale-skinned bodyguard. "You two lugs keep your eyes peeled for a wild-eyed son of a bitch sellin' guns out of the back of a truck… He's supposed to be expectin his buyers soon."

This afternoon though, the cockroaches are out in force.

Grey, grey, grey. Most things about Flint are grey. His suit is grey, with ash dusted across the knees and in five-fingered streaks across the breast of his coat. His stubble is grizzled, the brown of his hair is fading. He blends into the surrounding shadow and ruin pretty effectively as a result, though Kain's headlights might just touch upon a glint of /something/ in the murk ahead.

Flint's sunglasses flash dully against light's intrusion, maybe the harshest thing about him at a distance. His long legs swing idly over the side of the distorted dumpster he's taken up a post on top of, and his right hand is braced over the flat of a beaten-up old briefcase. He's here, he's waiting, and he's not suspicious in the least. Clearly.

Of course it is Manny. It is always Manny that smells like he just crawled through the Macy's perfume department. The first visible face that Dixon makes on this little excursion is to that question- an expression of subtle disbelief at the man behind the wheel. No verbal answer, because Kain appears to make that conclusion all by himself. Good thing, too, because the last thing that Dixon needs is to end another banter between the other two men on the topic of ~*~Manliness~*~.

As the shotgun position is his, Dixon looks like a darkly bespecatcled gargoylr as he peers out the vehicle window; brows drawn together, lips pulled flat, and that aura of intimidation that the man always takes with him on trips such as these. "There we go." The rumbling voice bounces around the inside of the car as Dixon's eyes settle on the dusty-colored Flint in the nearer distance. "That our guy?"

"Well lookie what we got here," Kain says with a broad grin, "Good eyes on ya." The SUV treads across the broken and cracked pavement, flattening brownish weeds that grow up between the cracks. The headlights pass over the gray-dressed man where he's perched as the vehicle comes to park side-long in respect to his position. Once it stops and the engine is turned off, the headlights stay on. Looking at the vehicle — clearly new — it's suspicious to be out in this area. The contact that Flint had picked up about a transfer of arms didn't indicate it would be someone working with finances like that. But when the doors open, all of that suspicion is warrented.

The first person out of the SUV is from the back of the vehicle, a nearly seven foot tall mountain of a bald man in a tight-fitting black suit with a carnation red necktie. His tiny, circular lensed sunglasses just barely obscure his eyes, and make his already round face look like a little bigger. He smooths one well-manicured hand over the top of his shaved head, then straightens his suit jacket as he looks around. The swagger he has is like that of a mobster.

But the next man out, he has that confident and cocksure posture of a made man. A sleek black suit and blue undershirt with a narrow black tie contrasts against the dirty blonde hair kept to shoulder length, the broad and almost sarcastic smile on his face, and the ultimately confident way he strolls around the car. "Well Ah do have t'wonder, what do we got ourselves here?" His southern drawl has a strong touch of cajun charm to it.

As the SUV draws closer, certain things about it become apparent to the less-than-casual observer. It is very sleek. It looks new. It looks expensive. There are huge people inside of it. …Maybe it's headed somewhere else. Except that it isn't. The casual swing of Flint's legs slows, and finally halts when the engine cuts out. He shifts uncomfortably, but retains his perch. It's likely the only point during this meeting that he is going to be taller than everyone present.

Expression a careful blank behind his sunglasses while he performs the usual x-ray sweep for things that could kill him, he watches the first guy out with just a hint of wary stiffness to his shoulders. For whatever reason, the demeanor of the second man out doesn't do anything to alleviate that tension. Maybe he slept funny.

"Hi," is his eventual return greeting. A hand is lifted. He points at the Big Guy, just in case it might not otherwise be obvious who he's talking about when he next says, "He's large."
The last man slips out of the car as if on a cue from Flint's intial comment; he is just a couple of inches taller than his counterpart, and just as mountainous; the difference is in the color of his skin, the more confident way he carries himself, and of course, the straight-top sunglasses rather than circular. Other than that, the troll-like bodyguards are dressed the same way, and with the same purpose. Even the same expression, but only once Manny manages to gather his wits about him.

As he rights himself out of the car, Dixon tails Kain as much as his position allows, standing behind the Cajun and just to the side with both hands held behind him. Both eyes behind those glasses are fixed on Flint, unnaturally concentrated.

Blue eyes dart around the shadowed underside of the bridge as the blonde cajun steps thorugh a long shaft of light that radiates between a pair of buildings the sun is just now dipping behind. "That'd be Manny, and he looks like an itty bitty ballerina compared to ol' Dixon here." He motions to the seven foot tall goliath behind him. The pair make Kain, even at six feet, look miniscule. When Flint makes that sweep with his exceptional vision over the gentlemen exiting the vehicle, there is a discomforting array of ways to die displayed on all of them. Kain and Manny alone are armed to the teeth. Kain carrying what looks like the silhouette of a nine-millemeter pistol under his left arm in a holster, and a hold-out pistol on his right ankle. A folding knife is sheathed at the small of his back on his belt, the wedge-bladed kind used by the US military. Manny carries the same firearms in the same positions, but instead of a knife he has a small multi-use taser on the back of his belt. The other bodyguard, the mountainous Dixon, carries a similar firearm in his jacket, though his — like Manny's — is much higher caliber, a .45 to be exact, judging from the size of the barrel. No taser or knife for him, he has a pair of knuckel-dusters in his jacket pockets.

If this weren't disconcerting enough, the vehicle, when looked at beyond the men, is armed like a military transport. Two assault rifles in the back under blankets, with a box of ammo for each, and then, as if as a joke there are two metal baseball bats, a tire iron, and a lot of tarps and plastic bags. "Mah two big sundials behind me," Kain's eyes divert to the ground, then back up, "Say it's time to get down to business here." These men aren't here to buy anything. "Thing is though, from my perspective, this business a'yours is operatin' without a liscense…" His hands slip into his pockets, though there's nothing in them aside from a cell-phone and a crumpled up stick-it note. "But we ain't come all the way out here to butt heads, we're business men just like you, and while mah Boss don'really like entrepreneurs on his turf much — Now that Civella is long gone — Ah'm a much more civic-minded kinda' guy…"

Fascinating. Mouth gone a little dry, Flint scruffs that same lifted hand over the back of his head when Dixon makes his entrance, and the situation comes into sharper focus. A mild, "You too," is tacked on so that the mountain man doesn't feel left out, but he's otherwise quiet while Kain speaks, and his brows knit. He looks confused! Maybe even theatrically so, so furrowed are the lines across his forehead.

"Business?" he asks, voice lilting. He is baffled. BAFFLED. "I'm just here to enjoy the sunset."

Dixon keeps his hands tucked behind the curve of his back for the majority of that little speech, only relaxing both tree-like arms to his sides when the man comes to a pause. He doesn't seem to react much to Flint's attempt at drama, just another crease appears at the side of his mouth. Dixon's job isn't to speak, it is to stand there like an ogre; talking is Kain's field-job, really.

Kain rolls his tongue across the inside of his cheek, head tipping to the side slightly as he eyes the man seated on the dumpster with a level stare, breathing a sigh out of his nose. "Alright…" He bows his head, looking up one end of the cracked and ruined street, then down the other, lingering each time as he peers intently. "Well mah boys an' Ah came down here to try and keep somebody who was workin' the smugglin' business under a certain Danny Linderman's nose from gettin crushed into a big ole pulpy mess." He starts to turn around, waving one hand over his shoulder as he does. "If that ain't you, then it ain't no sweat off my brow if ya'll accidentally twist him ina'pretzel shape." Manny glances over at Kain, one hairless brow raising, then looks to the man on the dumpster.

"You heard 'em." He shrugs both huge shoulders and starts walking slowly towards the dumpster with a casual you do what ya gotta do expression flashed to Dixon.

Deckard has good reflexes for a middle-aged guy. Granted, most people under threat of Manny and Dixon are probably inspired to a certain quickness. He heaves himself up onto his feet in a spidery jerk of long arms and legs, dress shoes seeking noisy purchase on the dumpster's closed lid when Manny starts moving forward. "Hey — hey!" Not the most convincing of arguments in favor of him not being twisted into a pretzel shape. "Come on!"

Dixon always has silent, invisible fun turning Kain's metaphors and such into images. Pretzel people are just genuinely entertaining, so it does put a smug look onto his face when he watches Flint jump onto his feet on top of the dumpster. While he takes a few steps closer like Manny does, instead of making fists- Dixon crosses both arms in front of his broad chest, head tilting lazily to the side. "Give us a reason not to tie you into a knot." Dixon responds in his low, deep-chested voice. He sounds serious enough that the pretzel really seems… inevitable.

Kain hesitates for just a moment, looking back over his shoulder towards the wiry man now dancing atop the dumpster, "Dixon's sure got a point there, pal," He notes with one brow raised, "That ain't the attitude that's gonna keep you from goin' all bendy-like." With that, Kain's smile turns a bit crooked, "Now if you were that guy who Ah was lookin' to make business with, well, Ah ain't one to normally have business partners turned inside out…" He pauses, one hand moving with feigned dramatic pause to his chin, tapping teasingly there, "Turned inside out." His eyes settle on Deckard again, "You boys work out how to do that one, that'll be a new trick." Manny looks over his shoulder at that request, then back to Deckard with a hairless brow raised, as if contemplating the logistics of inverting a person.

"Oh yeah? So what kind of attitude is it going to take? I don't do blowjobs." Flint is cranky. Also, he's having a hard time finding a position where he isn't almost falling off his perch. Just enough balance is found to kick his briefcase down onto the ground close to Manny and Dixon, maybe with a little more force than is strictly necessary, so that he has to wave his arms a little to avoid toppling over backwards. "I have a thousand bucks and two very nice .38s in the case. Consider it a gift. I'm too pretty to die."

If Dixon did know what Manny was trying to figure out, he'd reach over and smack him in the nose. Unfortunately, he doesn't, and he also leaves out the entire imagery post-pretzel. Thank God.

"That's better." The dark-skinned guard glances over towards his comrade, then down at the briefcase. Manny, you get that, will you? "But not quite what we had in mind." At that, he does pass a second's look at Kain again, as if to ask which direction to actually take this into.

Kain stops his approach back to the SUV again, turning to look at Deckard with a broad and pleased smile when Manny and Dixon come to a halt, the two looking back to him for direction. "Atta' boy. Confession is part of the twelve steps to savin' yer hide." The blonde turns around, shifting his weight to one foot where he stands. "Give 'em a little breathin' room, boys." Eyes wander the dumpster, then the case, then back up to Deckard. "Almost had me thinkin' we had the wrong guy at first." He clicks his tongue, brows raising for a moment before he glances back to the arms dealer.

"Now here's the way Ah'm seein' this. Ah got mahself called out here because mah boss heard somebody was scrapin' from his pockets with a side business." Now he starts walking back, polished dress shoes clacking on the pavement. "Now mah boss has his fingers in a lot've pies," If only the irony of a pie joke about Kain's employer was appropriate at this moment, "An' Ah guess you could call me onna' them fingers. Ah'll let you guess which one." He flashes a grin, now standing just behind Manny and Dixon.

"See, the boss don't like people that he doesn't know doin' work on his turf behind his back. So he send me out to… well, handle public relations." His head tips to the side, "The Civella family used t'get away with this kinda' shit, but they ain't in the business no more. So that leaves me, an' well… ole Danny only gave me one option really. Shoot the guy b'tween the eyes, or make him pay up a percentage." Kain shrugs his shoulders, "I'm not much of a killer." He smiles, "Not too much inta' math either." Wider, "So Ah kinda' made up an option number three… you wanna hear it?"

"Would I." Cynicism bites deep into Flint's tone, and he's finally found his center of balance, but he keeps his hands out and his back slightly hunched. Submissive as he can force himself to appear. Bullet between the eyes would so not be a good look for him. Narrow jaw clamped hollow, he glares hard at the ground from behind the shield of his glasses rather than look at Kain, Manny, or Dixon.

Dixon takes just one step back, as compared to the few he had made forward. Clenching his jaw is about all that he can do to keep from laughing at the pie joke, too.

As Kain speaks, Ulysses watches Flint, but listens intently to those spoken words. No wonder you're bad at math, you can't even count to two. That was two options. And just as Kain suggests a third, Dixon's brow creases more and his eyes search for Kain momentarily. Curiosity, for the most part, but also weariness. He knows the guy too well to ignore improv.

"Acceptance, that's step two." Kain tilts his head and gives a broad grin to Deckard, "You're just all runnin' with one foot in fronta' the other ain'cha?" The blonde cajun breathes in a deep breath and then exhales slowly, considering his next words. "The way Ah' see option three, it's pretty simple. Mah boss ain't no idiot, he knows when his people run side-jobs that may not directly line his pockets in gold. But the thing is, he's also rich enouch not to give much of a shit about that sorta' thing now that he's the only dog in town." Kain's head wavers from side to side, as if juggling a mental issue. "Now, the way Ah'm lookin' at this situation, is that you an' Ah have a bit of overlap. You buy an' sell a lotta' the same things Ah' do. But yer hittin' a narrower market, and yer doin' it with less people."

Kain removes his hand from his pocket, retrieving that stick-it note and reading whatever is scralwed on it. "Flint Deckard, right, right." He tucks it back into his pocket again, "Small-time crook, small-time record. Ain't nothin' but a little fish in a big pond. But you got brass ones for doin' what you do in this neighborhood. So that's got mah respect."

Straightening his shoulders, Kain motions with one hand towards Deckard. "Ah'm makin' you a business proposition. Mah boss wants people to respect him is all, an maybe that respect comes in the form a greenbacks, maybe it comes in the form a blood." Kain's lips crease for a moment. "What Ah', sayin', is that respect comes in a lot've forms. Workin' for one man, that's a form of respect. Work for me an' it's like respectin' ol Danny by proxy. Ah hook you up with contacts and suppliers for big time hardware, and you do the legwork, pickin' up clients and handlin' shipments. We make a split, and share." Kain gives Deckard a shark-like smile, "How's all that sound?"

There is a long pause. Once or twice, Flint draws in a breath as if he's about to speak, only to expell it again without actually saying anything. His fingers curl in until a pair of knuckles crack, and he spreads them again. Nervous habit, maybe. "Can I have some time to think about this?" comes out of nowhere. "I mean, it's just such a big decision, and gosh, you with Sweetums and Big Bird here — I'm just not really sure these kinds of working conditions are in my best interest as a small fry."

"If Gumbo here can fly by the seat of his pants and improvise a third- and possibly hazardous- third option, then you can decide what you want to do about the future of your work as a proper businessman." And that's all Dixon has to say about that. Did you hear him, Kain? Let's hope so, because that was the only heads-up.

"Ah hate t'say it," Kain admits, looking down at his watch, "But Dixon's right, Ah'm on a tight schedule tonight. But…" There's always a but, with Kain involved, "Ah like t'think of m'self as a fair man, and a man of mah word. When Ah make a promise, Ah keep it." He smiles amiably, looking up to Deckard atop the dumpster.

"Now Ah'm willin' to go back home an' tell mah boss this problem's been all wrapped up with a nice ole bow on it." One brow raises slowly, an inquiring stare leveled to Flint. "Thing of the matter is, Ah'm not quite sure you're a man a'your word. So here's what Ah'm gonna' do…" Kain watches Deckard for a long moment, looking him up and down, "You tell me you're gonna go think about it. Ah'm gonna give you forty-eight hours t'do just that. Ah'll take your word for it, that if Ah' don' hear from you when that time's up, you're either long gone from the city, or you want that bullet-hole makeover." There's a momentary pause, just long enough for Deckard to consider the answer, but purposefully not long enough to allow him time to reply.

"If'n you decide to make good, that you want a cut of the big-boy game on this, then we can go over the ol' particulars. If not, well, you had them chances laid out for ya." He reaches into the interior pocket of his jacket, but thankfully not the side his gun is on, and retrieves a business card. Taking a few steps forward, he places himself between Manny and Dixon, holding the card up between two fingers. "When you come to a decision, you just go on an' give me a jingle. Either way, solves mah problem, and potentially solves yours." See, it's like a promise? Only a promise of violence.

For the first time since he got out of the car, Dixon gets Flint's full attention. The wiry man's head twitches aside enough to study him more carefully while Kain talks. His hands still lifted, he doesn't actually move to lower them until Kain steps forward. And then it's back to business. If this could be considered business.

He stoops to lever himself down off the dumpster's edge, sunglasses serving to mask the direction and scope of his gaze when it sweeps over all of them again. Presumably he finds nothing new to be concerned about, and once he's dusted off his hands, he takes the step or so forward that is necessary to retrieve the card. He glances at the back, then the front. Checking for secret messages? Who knows.

"I've always wanted to wear big-boy pants." A flat smile falls far short of sincere, and he starts to tuck the card into his jacket, only to think better of it. It goes into a trouser pocket instead. "Thanks for taking the time to descend from on high. It's been fun."

The front of the card reads:

LINDERMAN GROUP - Establishing Connections

Kain Zarek, Public Relations.

On the back there is a phone number.

Kain watches Flint examine the card, then nods slowly and happily. "Good, Ah'm glad we could all come to an amicable understandin' here…" He looks from Manny to Dixon, then back again and slowly turns around, waving over his shoulder as he starts on his way back to the car. "Give him a couple of parting gifts so he remembers just how serious this line a'work is." Kain notes as of making an off-handed comment about a trip to the store. The implications of a black eye and a few bruises come as no surprise to his wingmen, it's Kain's style. Cut-throat as it is.

"You know, I don't actually think I need any gifts. I've been extra good this year so I'm pretty sure Santa has me covered as far as presents go." Still tucking the card away, Flint forces that same smile again and starts to back it up, probably in preparation to scamper off into the gathering dark. "Thanks, though."

Dixon is a master of posturing, and such things as bluff charges, et cetera. Looking like he is about to lay someone out comes easily. The man lifts his hands out of their folded position across his chest, wrenching one palm around each fist in turn. Krak. Krraak. Fortunately for Flint Deckard, Dixon is actually a merciful man when it comes to puffing his feathers and metaphorically beating his chest; the knuckles are obviously a preemptive warning before the giant actually does go after him.

Deckard is a smart guy. Past a narrow-eyed look that might /just/ be trying to call Dixon on his bluff once he starts knuckle cracking, he decides that just /maybe/ it might be a bad idea to chance it. He turns, glances quickly over the surrounding terrain, and takes off if in the direction of some debris substantial enough that he might be able to find a hidey hole to shove himself into.

Manny watches Dixon, head craned to one side, "That's a man with a good sprint." The bald man states as he looks down at his nails, pursing his lips before giving them a vain buff on his lapel. He most certainly didn't want to be the first one to get his hands dirty. His eyes follow the retreating form, then look back up to where Kain is on his path back to the SUV. "Well, at least we didn't need the hacksaw and the tarps." He shrugs, nonchallently, eyeing Deckard one last time before turning back and following Kain away.

As long as Deckard cares enough to not chance the encounter, it is fine with Dixon. He even leaves that briefcase, if Manny hasn't picked it up. "We'll keep the tarps in the car just in case we need them in a couple days." His voice carries well enough to be heard even if Flint has long since found a hiding place from the enforcers; a verbal warning, just as he moves to get back in the SUV with the others.

October 25th: Ghosts
October 25th: Casual Solace
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