2009-11-10: Between Scylla and Charybdis



Date: November 10, 2009


Clingy socialite and snarky salesgirl on the left, frenemy and preacher on the right.

"Between Scylla and Charybdis"

Randall's Pawn Shop

Welcome to the Pawn Shop that pretends it's not a pawn shop! Here we have second-hand electronics, books, and a very lax work ethic.

Have you ever been to the store with the very unfriendly, unhelpful, and rude teenager lounging behind the counter making no effort to even look like she was working? Well now you have! Jade's excuse for wearing her headphones while 'on duty' at the register was that it shut out the noise of the people outside preaching whatever the hell they were going on about. Her excuse for blatantly ignoring the old woman who was trying to get answers about some dinosaur VCR was that she was a crabby old cat. With an impatient sigh, the woman repeats her question.

"Excuse me! I asked if you knew if there were any other VCR models in stock besides this one?" Jade, from where she stood behind the counter, a fist against her cheek, her nose in a Hot Rod magazine, doesn't even bother to look up. "You're being very rude! Where is your manager?"

Finally, the dark-haired girl looks up with an expression of such supreme deadpan boredom it takes Old Woman aback a bit, insolently blowing a large bubble with her gum. Once it pops, she smacks her lips for a few minutes to recollect the delicious treat back into her mouth before she finally responds. "Out. And no, we don't. We have a no loitering policy, ma'am. You'll have to buy something or leave."

"Well, I never-!" She's cut off as the teen bladly drops her nose back into her reading.

The Church of the Blessed Word is nothing if not persistant. From the break of dawn to the call of dusk, a small group of protestors remain persistant outside of the pawn shop. Occasionally, the Reverend also makes an appearance, but mostly he lets the True Believers do his work for him. While it hasn't shut the pawn shop down, they do appear to have been having an effect on the population of customers that go into the shop as there are people who appear to not want it exactly known they're pawning various things. Today, the Reverend Dean Haynesworth is preaching the Word outside, which also means the crowd of protestors is larger than it usually is. Such horrible things going on inside the pawnshop inside. Like girls with bad manners and ouija boards.

Lower East Side of Manhattan, best place to find retro furnishings for an apartment that is being renovated. Merchandise in this area ranges from dusty, to dirty, or used. Not the normal fare for Hallis Van Cortlandt and Mitsy Smythe-Blakeley to be shopping around, but Mitsy called to beg forgiveness and Hallis is always good for a shopping trip.

"Electronics and general merchandise?" Hallis sneers as Mitsy places a hand on the door handle. They had to push their way through the throng of protesters, but these two are experienced shoppers, so it was really nothing to them. "What are you going to find in here? A VCR?" The blonde of the pair glances in the window at a display and sneers. "What is a VCR?"

Fortunately, the aforementioned manager has plenty of experience in Ramen profitability: if you can just make enough money to eat, then you can keep making enough money to eat. And, while he exhibits infinite patience for Jade's slacking off as long as she doesn't actually damage the merchandise, he isn't exactly paying her six figures, either.

Not thirty seconds after the old woman takes off, he emerges from the back, carrying another cardboard box in both hands. "Good call," he offers, starting to unload a few newer (but still a few years old) DVD players, "no profit margin on that one anyway. I'm surprised she didn't insist on Betamax while she was at it."

Particularly observant bystanders may note that he avoids making eye contact with the teenager. Instead, once the box is emptied and tossed back onto the reuse pile, he turns toward the entrance, looking past the by-now-familiar flock… and pales. Oh, great, those two. Another reminder of the most awkward night of at least the past year or two of his life.

With a despondent sigh, the dark-haired girl reaches onto the counter next to her to turn up the volume on her borrowed CD player, and borrowed CDs, both of which had been pawned within the shop just yesterday. What was the use of working here if she couldn't enjoy the fruits of some of the products? She was trying to drown out the noise of the protester/preacher combo outside, as well as the noise of the old woman inside, the volume going high enough for someone standing next to Jade to almost be able to pick out the lyrics from her headphones. Finally, Crabby Lady storms out, probably to join the protesters.

As the front door closes, and the rear one opens, she plucks the headphones off of her ears and, propping her elbows on the counter, half-crossing her arms, casts a look back over her shoulder. "A beta-what? Don't throw all these fancy computer terms at me, I don't even have my GED yet." There's a small sigh as she flips a page, watching Randall out of the corner of her eye as he makes his way towards the front of his shop. "With what you're paying, I never will."

She finally glances up, wondering just what had struck her boss down with rigor-mortis.

About the same time that Randall see the pair of socialites, they spot him. Mitsy seems a little happy to see him, Hallis? Well Hallis turns and begins to listen to the preacher man. "Bad manners, I hate those." Hallis says pointedly to her 'friend' as Mitsy ignores her. This only escalates the blonde woman's ire. In a few minutes Mitsy will be falling all over that man inside the store, and Hallis' wound will be ripped open again.

"I'll be a minute, Hal." Mitsy grins as she pulls the door open, flitting inside to greet the man. She ignores the teenager and gives Randall her most dazzling smile. "So what do you sell here? Anything good?" Inadvertently, she places a hand on a ouija board and looks up at him. "What's this? Some kind of game?"

For her part, Hallis has begun calling on the preacher as he rants about the evils of the store. "What's a squeegie board?" She questions loudly. It is an honest one though, the woman's been a shopper all of her life, not a gamer.

Mitsy's smile has three things working against it today. First, Randall is not in the middle of a Lena-induced haze like he was the last time they met. Second, he remembers quite clearly how she gave in to peer pressure and ditched him that night. Third, said events led directly to the Incident that he and Jade later agreed not to bring up again.

And so he offers a barely-polite smile. "It's supposed to be a device for communicating with spirits," he explains, turning the box around and pointing out the explanation printed there. "Evil spirits, if you believe the crowd out there." Judging by his tone of voice, he does not.

Jade brings a hand up to her mouth to stifle an overly-large yawn, barely repressing the urge to groan in extreme displeasure and discontent as yet another of those damnable customer-things appear. Thankfully, this one seemed more intent on flirting than on getting any sort of product of any kind, thus leaving her free to continue doing what she did best: being bored.

Looking over at the CD player, she notices the track still isn't where she wanted it to be, pressing it until it read '13', signalling the arrival of her favorite song on her album of choice. Plucking up the headphones from around her neck, she sticks them firmly back on her ears and pulls a calculator out from behind the register, intent on discovering just how long she'd have to work in this shop in order to afford the car she was currently viewing.

The numbers were not adding up to anything pleasant.

Dean had been going on about sin and the blood of the lamb and he who walks behind the rows. The group is used to people interjecting, attempting to make their points, but it's somewhat less common for someone to have a serious question. Reverand Haynesworth stops his sermon and looks over towards the girl who asks about a squeegie board. If he were a normal man, he's frown, but the's not a normal man, he's a televangelist. He steps down from his platform, which was the bed of a pick up and lands onto the sidewalk with the congregation's eyes moving towards him as he walks over towards the girl, "Oh, what innocent words. What's your name, child?" he asks in a southern accent.

A slight frown mars Mitsy's face as she realizes that Randall just might be snubbing her. And so, being the most needy of the clique, she tries harder. "Evil spirits? Like bad vodka or something?" She smiles at her own horrible joke and steps a little closer. Dropping her voice a little lower so that the girl with the headphones on might not hear. "Can I talk to you over there or something?"

Of course, Hallis beams as the attention is focused on her. "Hallis Van Cortlandt." Her answer comes with a smile and she reaches one hand out in greeting. "So… you guys are trying to shut this store down?" She seems a little too happy about her question and she turns a mean eye to the window, not being able to see the occupants inside. "Why don't you just take a little collection up and buy it? Don't you get a lot of God money or something?"

Randall shoots Hallis a dirty look in response. Don't give preacher boy ideas! If they offered enough, he miiiiight go for it (and find something equally irritating to do somewhere else in the city), but he'd really rather not hand them the talking point.

Uncertain which way Mitsy is trying to play things, he keeps his tone of voice neutral. "I suppose so, I need to clear out some more room anyway." Along the way, he picks up the box from earlier, only to discover that someone spilled a drink into it while his back was turned. The number one suspect, a guy with stubble and a plaid shirt, receives a momentary death glare of his own as the ruined box is chucked.

"Nine years. If I don't eat and I sleep on a cot in the back."

The dark-haired teenager mutters under her breath the amount of time it'd take for her to earn the dreamcar on the current page with her current pay. Irritably, she flips the page almost hard enough to rip it out of the magazine, casting the pair up near the front a minor glance to ensure Randall wasn't about to do a little more managerial voodoo and appear right behind her as soon as she did something wrong.

"Look, Mister Kirkwood, if you wanna take your girl out for lunch or something, go right ahead. I can watch the store or whatever." Then, in a much, much lower tone, one someone would have to strain to hear, "Can't promise it'll still be here when you get back." She looks pointedly out the window at the gathered bodies outside, pulling one of the earpieces off. "Can't we call the police or something? I'm just waiting for a flaming bottle of alcohol to come crashing through the window any day now."

Dean pauses as Hallis introduces herself and smiles brightly, turning so he stands beside her and introduces her to the congregation, "Everyone, this beautiful young woman is Hallis Van Cortlandt." he says. Then he turns back towards her, "We're not looking to shut this store down, Hallis." using her first name as if they were on a personal basis, "We're trying to keep that man in there from the throes of temptation. It's our duty as Christians to make sure he stays on the right path..a path that appears to include taking your young friend into his back room." as if on queue, someone starts taking pictures.

Listening intently to Dean, Hallis nods and frowns a little as he admits they're not actually trying to shut the business down. Though, she seems to perk up quite a bit when he makes his remark about Mitsy being taken into the back room. In her most serious and solemn way, the socialite folds her arms over her chest and shakes her head. "He is luring her to the dark side, isn't he… Can't you do something about it? Is he putting some kind of spell on her?" A few of the curious look to their leader as if wondering about the answers to those questions themselves.

Inside the establishment, Mitsy is doing her best to entice Randall into a somewhat friendlier mood. She follows along behind him, giving his employee her best smile, mouthing a small 'thank you' as they make their way to the back. The brunette is quite oblivious to what her frenemy is doing outside and she turns to wave to the cameras giving her best pose as the cameras flash. She's been on a few red carpets, mostly with Hallis' exes, but she knows how to put her best face forward for a camera.

This is all Randall's fault, really. He told Hallis he was looking for magic, the first time they met and implicitly agreed to mess with her ex-boyfriend's head. In retrospect, it probably wasn't the best of ideas.

No, he's not heading to the back, Miss Eastley, just to another aisle that happens to be further away from the window display. "Oh, great, now what're they up to?" he mutters under his breath, giving the flock a lovely view of the back of his head. (Look at that bounce! Look at that shine! No bad hair days for him, at least.)

The sour-faced girl at the register, growing more sour-faced with each camera flash, waves off the silent thanks with a barely-perceptible nod. Instead, she focuses on the cameras coming through the windows, deciding to give them something good to film, instead. That is to say, she shows them a certain finger that isn't normally shown in polite society, at least not by itself, along with her best, friendliest smile.

Not content with that, Jade flips her magazine closed and groans as she looks around for anything handy that might stop the photography. "Urg! Those evil little flashes are going to give me /brain cancer/! Does anyone ever pawn off some of those old, collectible dirty magazines? I bet if we stuck a few of them in the front window, they'd waste all their film on it instead of what the hell people are doing in here."

"Oh whatever, I'm on break." Reaching under the counter, Jade pulls out her neglected slurpee, now mostly watered-down mush, turning her back to the register, leaning against it nonchalantly. Sure, she hadn't actually moved other than to turn around, but at least she didn't have to see them anymore.

Dean looks up for a moment, turning his head from side to side. It doesn't take long for Dean to suss the situation out and looks towards Hallis while glancing at Mitzy. Whether they're born in the south or the upper east side, socialites are alike, and Dean has had his time with socialites. He looks grimly at Hallis, "I wouldn't put it that way, but he's apt to make her make bad choices." he looks solemn, "You're one of those good people who look out for their friends, aren't you Hallis? Your friends don't like to admit it, they just don't appreciate what you do for them." he tsks, "And that one is full of bad choices when she should just listen to you, isn't that right?"

Hallis gives Dean a wide eyed stare as he accurately describes everything she feels she is doing for her friend. Never mind the underlying feelings of inadequacy that Randall placed in her that she wants revenge for. "I am one of those people, really." She is quite emphatic on that point. "I tried to tell her that he was no good, that he just uses women and then throws them away…" She lowers her head and places a hand to her forehead dramatically. "She needs to listen, can you talk to her?"

As the flashes continue, Mitsy begins to get bored of them and once again turns to Randall. "So, I wanted to ask if you wanted to go to this Gala. It's just for an art gallery, but I thought maybe we could get to know each other?" Poor Mitsy, if Olivia were here she would be mortified. The girl is practically begging for a date, the same way she lured him away from Hallis that night in the bar. It doesn't matter that she might actually be interested in the small business owner, the alpha of the pack would never let her live it down. And so as a concession, she has cracked a plan to bring him to events that Olivia would never be caught dead at.

Not in a mood to just tell Mitsy directly to buzz off, Randall instead asks her when and where the gala is. Which buys him enough time to at least get one pile of near-worthless costume jewelry cleared out of valuable shelf space and dumped into a dig-if-you-want box instead. "Oh, I don't think I can make it that day," he says, glancing over at Jade - see, even on break, you're helping him out! - "but I think my friend outside might be free. Why don't we go out and I can introduce you two properly?"

Continuing to slurp at the blueberry-flavored delight, the dark-haired teenager casts a few disparaging looks over her shoulder every now and then, just to see if the interior was still being photographed. After but a few more moments, the cup begins to make slurring noises, indicating that it's reservoirs had run dry and no more cool, icy treat could be further had.

Of course, as she chucks it in the civinity of the half-sized trashcan, missing by a mile and watching it bounce a few times on the floor, she 'can't help but overhear' (ie eavesdropping) the rather malicious intent of her employer to pawn off the troublesome girl on the Southern Baptists outside. She almost feels a twinge of pity, but her sadistic side has her all sly smiles as she turns back around, twirling a few strands of her hair around a finger. Unfortunately, her mouth just can't quite keep shut about it.

Keeping quiet was never her strong suit.

"Are you sure you can't make it, Randy? I could cover for you~."

Dean smiles sympathetically at the girl. These groups are easier to break than they seem. It's clear this girl is neither the alpha nor the bottom rung, which is good. Enough sway to influence other members of the group, not enough sway to not want more power. He reaches forward and places his hand meaningfully on Hallis' shoulder, "Oh, I could. But…the Word is stronger when it comes from people they respect, even if they don't realize how much they respect them." he squeezes a moment, "You've got to be the guide to your friend. It's not easy, I know you know that, it's never easy. But that's why you're a better person."

"I don't know if I can do that… She really doesn't listen to me." Hallis is trying to do a little edging of her own. It is true that she's not the alpha, but she does have enough pull to march to the beat of her own drum. "Can't you just come in there with me? We could drive the devil out of dodge together?" A slight twitch to the corner of her left lip happens just before she looks into the store. "You know, I really think that if the two of us talked to her…" And she drops silent, hoping to receive the response that she's been angling for.

On the other hand, Mitsy is inside and almost crushed by the man with the bouncy curls. "Are you sure? I can…" Then Jade interjects with her offer and the socialite is almost overwhelmed with joy. "Oh perfect! We can go and she said she'd cover for you! I'll send a car around… where here? Or… where do you live?"

Randall takes this confluence of events more or less in stride, having had time by now to get over his initial moment of panic. Shooting Jade a you're-number-one hand sign behind his back, he continues walking toward the front, giving in and slipping a hand into Mitsy's along the way. "Here's fine," he replies, glossing over her second question. "Maybe we can make a double date out of it? Minister," he adds, pushing the door open and looking out, "I'd like you to meet Mitsy, she's a patron of the arts." Hello, minister. Hello, sheep. Hello, Hallis.

No sooner does Mitsy ask than Jade begins searching through drawers, eventaully coming up with a pen and a small, green post-it pad. She begins scribbling down a few words, all the while humming sweetly to herself and smiling absolutely angelicly as she doodles down Randall's home address.

Just as she yanks it off the pad and begins to call out for the other girl to come and get it, she looks up and finds them at the door, poor Mitsy practically being shoved out of the exit and into the waiting arms of her 'friends'. That was amusement all it's own. With a shrug, she crumples up the little note and chucks it, again missing the trashcan, the wad of paper bouncing off the rim and landing on the floor. With that, she abandons her post!

She hops up onto the counter, swings her legs around, then slides down the other side, jamming her hands into her back pockets as her feet hit the floor. She slowly meanders towards the doorway trying to look like she wasn't purposefully getting closer, not wanting to miss any of the drama that was sure to follow.

Dean tilts his head at Hallis, studying her a moment but never without the smile on his features. "Well, we could talk to your friend together." and then Randall comes out with the aforementioned girl. "I'm a reverend, brother." he says amiably to Randall. Then turns to Mitsy, "Hello, Mitsy, how are you? I'm Reverend Haynesworth." he pauses a moment. There are a multitude of different words that could follow here. It appears the next course of action is clear, "Mitsy, your friend Hallis here and Randall agree that perhaps you might want to come to a sermon." he pauses, "I'm sure," he says with supreme confidence, "That your friend here, Randall will come with you.." and here, he takes a chance, a chance that he understood what just transpired inside and glances towards Jade, "So long as his young worker here will cover his store while he is away.." then turns to Mitsy, urging her with silent gravity, "Accompanying /you/."

At Randall's introduction, Hallis almost barks out a laugh and looks at the brunette. "Seriously? A patron of the arts? Unless you count playgi" She quiets and smirks as the reverend makes his offer. Then she turns her head with a panicked look and her jaw drops, "Wha?" Recovering quickly, she gives him the most cordial smile and sets her jaw. "You know what? I know that Randall would just love to come to the sermon." She shoots the man a narrowed eyed gaze, her lips pursing to a thin line.

Mitsy is almost overcome with joy at the prospect of being cajoled into a date with Randall, even if it is to something called a sermon. "Sermon? But I'm a Ma'am… Unless you're talking about Randall, he's a sir." Then she gives the curly haired business owner a brilliant white smile, squeezing his hand. Just like if they were a real couple. "I'd love to go with you, Randy.." And there it is, she's adopted the nickname given by his employee.

Randall glances sidelong at Mitsy. Is she putting Dean on, or—? No, she sounded like she was actually being serious. Oh dear. "I'll be there with bells on," he lies. Note to self, claim to have come down with a convenient 24-hour flu that day. "And you'll be there too, right?" he adds, nodding to Hallis: presumably she'll have to play along too, at least for now.

From behind the duo facing the Reverand and his malicious cohort, there's a barely-contained snicker from Jade, just inside the establishment, her back to the wall as she listens to goings-on outside. As Dean mentions her specifically, she pokes her head into the mess just enough to give an affable smile and pat her employer on the shoulder.

"Oh, m'boss knows only too well how much I love coming to work every day. He's so great, I bet he'd just give me an absolute raise if covered his church shifts."

With that, she beams her winning, but completely fake, smile at Randall, then turns on her heels and heads right back through the doors and out of sight before she could somehow get wrangled into the whole mess. Once she admitted to being an atheist, she was pretty sure she'd be stoned to death by the protesters-turned-vengeful-mob outside.

Dean ahs, "Well, it's settled then." he says, "You'll all enjoy a sermon at the new Church." he says, "Hallis and I suppose this new couple. Mitsy and Randy." apparently joining in on the pet naming. He smiles at Mitsy as the lynchpin, "Why, it'll almost be like an official showing of your newfound bonds." he chuckles, "But don't let this guy get slippery. You know men get when things start to get official." he leans forward to Mitsy, "You just have to make sure that you hold on and never let them go!"

"Oh, they bond pretty well." Hallis agrees, her smile tightening into quite a fake one. "In fact…" she turns to the reverend, flitting her gaze toward the happy couple as she takes the reverend's arm to guide him away to allow her 'friend' a little alone time with her new boyfriend. "I think you'd be amazed at how they first met. It's quite a good story."

Mitsy smiles up at Randall, a surprisingly shy one at that. "Maybe we could go to the gallery and then make a night of it? Since we're going to the sermon in the morning together anyway… Your employee said she'd cover for you, maybe she wouldn't mind closing and opening again?"

it is then that Hallis checks the extravagant watch on her wrist and excuses herself from the reverend. "I'll be there on Sunday morning, I promise. But I have to get going now." Making her way back to Mitsy, she gives Randall a little bit of a smile. "I knew that Mitsy had a reason for coming down here, I'm pretty surprised it's you." Olivia will eat. this. up. "We have to go though, there's a party on the upper west side that we still have to get ready for." Then she tugs her friend from Randall's grip and moves off into the crowd.

Randall is all smiles for as long as he has to be, waving politely to Hallis and Mitsy as they take off once again. He doesn't bother addressing Dean or his cohorts, but then they should be used to that by now.

Once he's safely back in the store, he plops down into a chair, rubbing his temples and looking up at Jade at long last. "You burned ants with a magnifying glass as a kid, didn't you," he accuses.


The extraordinarily loud volume of Jade's voice was thanks to the megaphone she had picked up from one of the shelves on her way back, just in time to scare the living daylights out of Mister Plaid-Shirt Guy as he wandered into the employee's-only section of the establishment, presumably in search of 'the good stuff' that wasn't put out on display. With an indignant sniff, the man returns to one of the aisles as the tan-skinned teenager gives him the stink-eye, setting the 'phone down on the counter.

She affects a self-satisfied smile as her employer slumps himself into a chair, her expression all but dancing with malignant amusement. She just gives a small shake of her head, reaching a hand up to brush her back over her shoulders.

"What do you take me for? …I used matches and lighter fluid."

Randall turns his increasingly annoyed look toward Plaid Shirt as well, where it'll at least do something productive for the business. Perpetual window shoppers do not profits make. "I should've known," he mutters, heading back behind the counter himself and leaning his chin into his hands while he waits for someone else to come in. "Just remember, when I spike your next Slusho and you're parading around the sidewalk in a skimpy schoolgirl uniform? You brought it on yourself."

The younger of the store's staff fishes her car magazine back out from where she had stashed it away from grabby hands in the drawer next to the register, opening it up to look at the new engine design on the 2010 Camaro. She had zero clue as to what any of the listed specs meant, and in truth, she only looked at the pretty pictures of fast cars, not bothering to read the articles any.

She looks over as her employer leans on the counter, raising an eyebrow at him, as a smirk tugs at one of the corners of her lips.

"How did you know how I spent my Saturday nights? You need to quit checking up on me." She flips a few pages before finding another picture that she liked, a black foreign sports car with white flames painted on it's hood and sides. "Besides, I'd look damned good in a plaid skirt and you know it. …Perv."

Randall picks up another of the empty boxes and heads back into the back of the shop, waiting till he's safely out of sight - and hopefully earshot as well - before he says anything else out loud. "I'll believe it when I see it," he murmurs under his breath.

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