We Do What We Can


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Scene Title We Do What We Can
Synopsis Two NYPD detectives discuss the state of the city over coffee. Commissioner Lau partners her people well.
Date February 4, 2009

The Nite Owl

The Nite Owl is a survivor from ages past - one of those ancient diners with huge plate glass windows, checkerboard linoleum floor, and a neon owl over the entrance that blinks at those entering. Inside, there's an L-shaped main counter, complete with vintage soda fountain and worn steel stools. All of the cooking is done on the ranges ranked against the rear wall. The outer wall is lined with booths upholstered in cracked scarlet vinyl, tables trimmed with polished chrome. Despite its age, it's been lovingly maintained. The air is redolent with the scent of fresh coffee, vanilla, and frying food.

"Fucking /fuck/."

"—Pardon me, hon?"

"—… uh, nothing. Nevermind. Thanks for the pancakes." Ezra Grimes sets his newspaper aside, for a moment, to ponder the food brought to him. It's somewhere in the neighborhood of three AM. The gates are down at the Nite Owl and everything's locked up, but enough cops get hungry late enough at night for a skeleton crew to run the joint through the evening — the one chef and the one waitress needed to run the place are filed somewhere under the category of "emergency response" for the purposes of curfew. There's hardly a moment where at least one armed officer isn't present, anyways. Probably safer than going home, sometimes. All it takes is a knock on the gate to get in. Ezra's at the counter, with a heaping, massive plate of pancakes and maple syrup, and an absurdly tall egg cream, reading a paper. "I tell you, Flo. This city's going to Hell."

"Hon, where have you been for the past five years?"

"No, I mean, really. Crime rate's one thing. I wouldn't be surprised if tomorrow morning Lucifer himself was strolling down 3rd ave."

"Sugar, economy like this, he'd probably be panhandlin' like the rest of us."

"You're a jewel, Flo. Top me off?" he asks, indicating his coffee, before he looks back at his paper. "Fucking fuck."

A quiet rap on the gate, a flash of the badge and Detective Damaris is allowed entry to the Nite Owl. "Mornin', Ezra," she greets her partner as she drops herself in the seat next to her. "Mornin', Flo." A mug is set in front of her before she can ask for it, filled from a pot with a strip of masking tape over the glass surface, labeled by Sharpie marker. 'Damaris' it says. Being a creature of habit has its perks. "Now that's the pine tar I love," the woman murmurs appreciatively as she sips from the mug.

"Mornin', Mizz Sunshine," Ezra mumbles, glumly. He doesn't seem like he's a gentleman in a good mood, but, then, when does he? "I don't know how you drink that crap. I had 'em cook up a batch for me so I could use it to peel the varnish off of my coffee table back home." Which is an absurd lie; he probably doesn't have any kind of unnecessary furniture. "Put in a good solid four hours of sleep? I'm about ready to get back to work, too. Wait, are we finishing our shift or starting it? Shit."

"Got three hours, actually. It was pretty glorious." Kay grins sidelong to her fellow detective. "What's got you all worked up? Besides the city being a goddamned shithole. More than usual."

"One day I'm going to dig a hole in Central Park and sleep like a gopher for two months straight," Ezra says. "Not anytime soon, anyways. And it's this. Staten Island — a no hope zone? We're just leaving it to the wolves? You've gotta be kidding me," he says, pointing at a story on the erstwhile borough's unfortunate status.

"We have to focus on what we can do, partner." At least Damaris has the grace to make it clear by her tone that she believes the situation on Staten Island is lamentable. "When we can get things under control here, then we can go back and try to fix things on the rock."

"It's a pile of crap, is what it is," Ezra says. "And that doesn't change a damn thing. If we're figuring out how to deal with this trainwreck by the numbers we'd have abandoned the whole island by now. Christ, it's almost as bad as it was under Giuliani." By which Ezra means he probably thought the Giuliani years were boring as hell whenever he visited.

"Get used to it. We don't get to decide how to best direct our own efforts." Kay frowns. His bad mood is contagious. "It really blows. Shit." A long drink of coffee does nothing to wash away the bitterness. "At least we aren't HomeSec."

"Yeah. At least we aren't Pol Pot," Ezra says. "Hey, Flo—" he calls, to the waitress. "Get this lady here a big 'ole slice of pie. She's got some catching up to do before the big day," he adds, with a cheerful smile. He turns, slowly, to Kay. "Relax, it's on me."

"Big day?" Kay looks a little confused for a moment. "What are you…?" She glances down at her hand and then smiles ruefully. "I should have known you would notice. You notice if I wear black mascara instead of brown." She nods graciously. "Thank you."

"Yeah. Hey, why don't you put some whipped cream on there, too?" he asks, of the waitress, who obliges. "There we go. That's more like it. You want a chocolate milk too, or something?" he adds. Wait, what's he on about— "Anyways, observation is the heart of detection. D'uh."

"In observation, you may well be the master." She gives a glance to Flo, who knows better than to even think about pouring a glass of chocolate milk for her. "Just the pie is fine. Thanks, Ez. That's sweet of you." Kay plucks up a fork and takes the time to cut her pie into bite-sized pieces. "With the way this city's falling apart, though, Matt and I may never find the time to get married."

Ezra seems momentarily put out. Why isn't she pissed off? Shit. "Eh, with a little luck, we'll all be dead before we have to deal with that crap," he says. "Maybe you should just get a cat or something. It's basically the same thing as living with someone."

"I already got a kid and a dog." Kay frowns and considers this for a moment. "A cat would be easier than a second husband and a step-daughter." But then she grins, and it's a wicked expression. "It'll be worth it when I win every NYPD - HomeSec pissing match, though." She leans closer wielding a piece of pie on her fork. "If you tell any of the Neanderthals in our squad what you've figured out, I will beat the piss out of you in the parking lot in front of those sons of bitches until they think twice about giving me any shit. Cool?" Behind the counter, the waitress coughs into her hand to cover up a breath of laughter.

"I don't know how it's not dead obvious to them," Ezra says, sipping from his cup. "Honestly. They call themselves police officers. It's shameful," he says, with a hiss that borders on the serious. "Well, anyways, knock yourself out. And eat up, really," he adds, backing away from the brandished fork.

"It's because they're morons who'd rather pay attention to the fact that I've got tits than to notice anything else about me personally," Kay explains before finally properly digging into her pie. "Especially that Baxter son of a bitch. If he'd look away from my chest for two seconds, he'd probably figure out I'm not interested."

"Wait, you've got tits?" Ezra says, in a state of apparent shock, before gulping down another heaping load of his coffee. "And who's Baxter, anyways? I don't really know - slash - care about anybody's name over there."

"Jordan Baxter. The fag that flies. Got a goddamned fairy tattooed on his arm. We like to call him Peter Pan." Okay, so calling him a fag after stating he wants into her pants is a little contradictory, but so what? Kay lets the comment about her apparent lack of breasts slide with a roll of her eyes.

"Right," Ezra says. "It's hard to keep track when half the people in your department shoot pixie dust out their fingernails or something the hell like that," he says. Outside, the crew of the diner start to pull open the grates. "Shit. Is the actual day starting? Shit."

"'Fraid so. We're fucked twelves ways to Sunday, Grimes. Might as well face the day like a man." She takes the last bite of her pie, washing it down with the last of her coffee, accepting a thermos that's been placed on the counter. The pot marked with her name is empty. "Just think, you have the whole day to push my buttons. Another bright, shiny day in the wasteland of New York." She quirks a brow and gestures toward the door. "After you, Mister Sinatra."

"Didn't he die of lung cancer, or something? Shit. I gotta start smoking more," Ezra mutters, leaving money on the table — cops don't usually pay. Ezra pays, and hopes nobody makes note of his kindness. Consider it a hefty tip. "I'll bet you five dollars one of us gets shot today," he says, before pulling his jacket on and heading outside.

"Get your wallet out," Kay mutters. "I'll shoot you right now and we'll call it a day."

"… maybe I should've thought that one through a little more carefully," Ezra says, looking skyward. Pissy grey sky. Surprise.

February 3rd: Forced Smiling
February 4th: Number Thirty-One
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