2008-08-18: Aladdin and the Genie

Starring:

James_icon.gif Maggie_icon.gif

Guest Starring: Detective O'Meara

Summary: There may be more to a meeting between a detective and a mystery man with apparent information about a homicide than originally thought.

Date It Happened: August 18th, 2008

Aladdin and the Genie


Central Park

New York City, NY

Early morning in the park, that time of day when the sun's barely creeping up over the horizon and the shadows reach long across the ground. The birds are awake, some even daring to make a bit of noise, and there's still that ubiquitous rumble and growl of traffic though muted compared to mid-day. Not quite dark, not quite light, and the haze of clouds who will soon fade bring an element of the eerie to this particular domain of man.

Despite the hour there are still people around in Central Park to experience it. Still the odd distant jogger, still the perambulating mother with her child. Even across the way at the old 'Shakespeare In The Park' auditorium is an older man, resting with a steaming coffee in a cardboard cup. He's sitting at front row center, the stage before him, leaning forwards with his back to the stairs. There's nobody else around him, not even a pigeon as they've all long ago learned that he wasn't a soft touch for bread crumbs.

There is no production of the famous playwright's work today, not at this beautiful, if peculiar, hour of the day, but the empty stage earns another audience member. Walking down the stairs is a lone woman, tall, dressed well, but simply: black slacks, a lightweight white blouse with the sleeves turned up at the elbow, a black vest over that, a blonde ponytail. Utilitarian. A cop.

Despite the fact that she's minus her ever-reluctant partner Detective O'Meara, Maggie isn't concerned. She handles herself well alone; in some cases, she prefers it. Today, she has no reason to expect that she'll need backup — which isn't to say she isn't prepared, isn't on guard. No, Detective Powers is, by nature, a careful woman. She watches her details, and like any good detective, those bright eyes of hers are inquisitively skimming the area as she makes her way to the single figure in the open air auditorium. She stops a few feet away in the aisle, behind him. "Mr. McKenzie?"

There's that slight double look that someone is given when they come upon another unawares. The aforementioned Mr. McKenzie looks over his shoulder, once, twice, then has the audacity to cock an eyebrow and give the detective a once-over. He turns back reaching to a second cup of joe that steams at his side, "Call me, Mac."
When he turns back he's standing up, meeting the woman's gaze with that even and level stare of his own. The cardboard cup is extended to her and he says, "Love the mornings, love the park, hate the crowds. Something about a fresh cup of java makes it all that much better. Detective?" That said he offers the drink to her.

Unfazed by the once-over — perhaps expecting it — Maggie simply regards the man, taking him in through more subtle eye-work. Though stoic-faced, there's something friendly about her demeanour, an openness. "That's right. Detective Powers," the woman says in return, her voice crisp — professional — but not at all brusque. She takes the coffee with a quick bow of her head and the most fleeting of smiles. Notably, she doesn't drink it. "Thank you. I'm led to believe you have some information on one of the cases I'm working on. A homicide."

Not noticing the lack of a sip, at least for now, James turns and takes his seat once again. One hand waves towards the bench beside him as he settles back down and shifts his focus to be upon the invisible apparitions of the actors that were once on that stage.

"I like that, straight, to the point. Business-like." His gaze distances for a moment, then he looks back towards her sidelong and promptly sidetracks the conversation.

"You ever come here before when they were putting on their shows?"

Maggie steps around 'Mac' and takes a seat easily in the bench beside him, sitting straight-backed but, for all appearances, comfortably. Holding the cup of java and resting it on her knee, she too looks toward the desolate stage, picturing the stories play out. "I can't say that I have." 'Unfortunately' seems to follow inaudibly. She looks sidelong at the man. Without the imaginings of Shakespeare, the park theatre seems suddenly all the more quiet and dead.

"You'd like it," Of course that's a bit presumptuous of him to say, but he presses on. "It's all pageantry. They go to a big deal doing the whole midsummer's theme, bright colors, streamers." There's a faint smirk as if he was seeing it in his mind's eye, then with his next casual words he rips it all away. "What would you say if I told you I could solve two of the murders yer currently working on?"

Of course after dropping that bomb there's a pause in the air, barely the space of a handful of heartbeats… then disspelled by a few more words murmured a bit low. "And I think ya best take a sip of that coffee before ya give me terrible offense. My feelings are horribly fragile."

Those inquisitive eyes of the detective's narrow on the man, just slightly, but enough to give him a somewhat curious look. She wasn't expecting him to talk about pageantry and streamers, but she was expecting his bold statement — two murders — even less. "I like to let it cool," is all she says at first, looking back toward the stage, quiet for a moment; collected, despite the twist the man presented. Then: "What murders, Mac?"

"You pick 'em," And now that might be a touch surprising. He looks out across the way, and for his part takes a sip of his own coffee. "See, I don't care for pageantry for pageantry's sake. I like to see things as they are, narrow em down, rip away all the extraneous things until yer left with what is essentially there." He taps a finger upon the side of the cup, "Then," He lifts up a finger, "Once ya got that, then ya got em by the…" His eyes narrow a bit and he looks at her sidelong, "Well, ya got em."

He turns a bit in his seat, sliding slightly away but only to face her more full on. "So here it is without any of the bells and whistles. Ya got some problems, I figure I can help ya."

The detective's curious eyeing of the so-called Mac takes a turn for the wary. She turns slightly in her seat, facing him at an angle, her features hardening along her face's long angles. "I'm not sure I follow you," she admits with more suspicion than confusion. "I'm trying to solve homicides, Mr. McKenzie." By-the-books, the woman presses on. "If you have information about any murders, if you were a witness or you heard something, I advise you that you tell me."

There's a slight shake of his head as he looks back towards the stage. Another sip of the coffee is taken as he murmurs, "As to that, don't know a damn thing." He sets the cup down and to the side ever so slightly, a subtle physical motion that might give some small measure of safety or allay a subconscious wariness. "But that doesn't mean I can't help you."

And abruptly the topic shifts again as he meets her eyes, his gaze calm and level, something in them seeming almost reptilian. "I'm told you dealt with some strange occurrences in the past. Weirdness that left an impact."

"There's nothing normal about homicide cases." Maggie's brighter eyes meet his, livelier than the near-reptilian gaze, but hardening by the second. He's got her hooked, though — she has to find out what he means. So far, she sincerely doesn't seem to catch his drift. What 'weirdness' are you talking about? I didn't come here to talk in riddles, Mr. McKenzie— I'm sorry. Mac? If you think you can help…"

"Ehn," There's a small wave of his hand, as if brushing aside his earlier words. "Nevermind. We'll get to that later." James leans back a bit, taking up his coffee and takes a sip of his. He looks at hers and cocks an eyebrow, something finally glinting in the corners of his eyes, perhaps something akin to amusement.

"But yes, I'd like to help you with two of your cases. You pick them. Consider me your helpful arab djinn, ready to waggle his magic wand and bring the evil-doers to justice." He sets the coffee down again and meets her gaze. "See, it's to help us overcome this awkward period of time we're experiencing right now. You don't trust me, I don't trust you. Do you want me to take a sip of the coffee for you? I promise, I don't have a cold."

"I don't mean any offense, but the fact is, I don't have any reason to trust you." The words are harsh, only barely softened by Maggie's voice. The fact is, she's only sitting here because she wants to know more. "I don't have any reason to believe I want to." She lifts the coffee cup gives it a harmless little jostle, quirking a smile. "I'll drink your coffee if you explain to me how it is you think you can solve my cases. The NYPD doesn't believe in magic, and neither do I. What you're saying is— you want to be some kind of informant. Is that it?"

"That's the thing isn't it?" Mac starts to stand up, finishing his coffee with a long pull. He crushes the cup in one hand and holds onto it for now, "Sometimes we don't know what we want." For a time he looks at her, that gaze of his a stern thing, firm in its bearing and precise in its execution. Only the space of a few moments, then he adds. "I like you, Detective. Ya got brass."

A hand slides into his front jacket pocket, the small one upon his breast, perhaps a motion calculated so as to give no fear as to a weapon being produced. From it he withdraws a small business card. "Here, call this number. Whisper two names when the phone picks up and as if you were the very street rat Aladdin I'll leap to your aid." He tilts his gaze to the side, "Or save it." He gestures with a toss of his head towards the stage, "And call it next summer, we'll catch a play."

It's bothering Maggie that she can't figure out this man and his intentions. Her eyes don't move off of him when he stands up — locked on him determinedly, they sparkle just a tinge. She reaches out with her coffee-free hand and takes the card, not yet looking at its text. The detective says nothing. Taking the card is acceptance enough. What is she supposed to say: 'thank you for the mysterious and completely baffling secret meeting'?

Turning his back on her, he starts to walk along the aisle of seats in front of that stage, the sun rising just a bit more to illuminate their paths now divergent. "And if you run the card for prints, Detective, you'll hurt my feelings." Of course he doesn't necessarily explain why, but with that he begins his casual strolling departure.

Maggie watches the man leave and sets the coffee aside, untouched as it will remain. Once he's seemingly gone from the outdoor theatre, leaving her alone with the ghosts of Hamlet and Caesar, she flips the card over between her fingers and reads it pensively. Several minutes pass while the sky grows brighter and hazier with August heat, after which she turns to look behind her at the sound of different steps coming close.

It's Detective O'Meara, looking a little out-of-sorts and holding a cup of coffee of his own — from a different vendor.

"It takes you a long time to get coffee," Maggie says with a mild barb as she gets to her feet.

O'Meara doesn't answer, but thumbs a gesture at his partner. A true New Yorker by accent, he asks, "Did you meet with the guy? Anythin' worth our while?"

Detective Powers glances down — and folds her hand over the business card, tucking it casually into her pocket. "No," she says easily enough. Shrugging and giving O'Meara a 'what can ya do' smile, she starts to stroll out of the theatre. "False lead."

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