2010-06-02: Close Encounters of the Cured Kind



Date: June 2, 2010


Crazy visionary meets "crazy" healer.

"Close Encounters of the Cured Kind"

Chinatown, New York

Carrie sits on a park bench, shooing pigeons away from her dinner, which she is eating out of a Chinese takeout box. She fumbles a little with chopsticks, not so much with total unfamiliarity as with disuse of the skill, and tries not to dribble kung pao chicken down her chin. "What," she asks, "is wrong with this picture? Doesn't anyone hire anyone in this city? Do you have to have a work permit from the port authority, and nobody will tell me? Is it my accent?" Carrie sighs and eats some more. "Least the food is good. She's apparently talking to herself or the pigeons, so those playing "Off her meds/on the cellphone" bingo should probably lean toward the former right now.

Carrie has a rather Western accent. Not really a drawl to suggest Texas, Nashville, or a wannabe country music singer, but certainly considerably west of the Big Apple.

The thing about seemingly one-sided conversations like this? Sometimes there is a second side to them… they may just be a little delayed in showing up. "Actually, it's because they think you're overqualified," a voice pipes up from somewhere behind her, as if on cue. "Put your hair up, maybe rip some knee holes in your jeans?"

The mop top in question (Randall) is standing a few feet behind the bench, wearing a one-size-not-quite-fits-all uniform shirt and leaning against an empty metal delivery cart. He actually finished unloading the last couple boxes of supplies a minute ago, and has been watching the teenager quietly since then - though just what he was looking for is still a mystery, possibly even to him.

Carrie turns abruptly, spilling the chicken which, after a moments inspection, the pigeons turn up their beaks from. She moves to stand up, and promptly steps in it, and winds up back on her butt on the park bench. "Um." She says. She tries to regain her cool and brush her hair back from her face, only to realize that she just did it with a pair of not-very-clean chopsticks still clutched in her hand. She sighs. "Overqualified?" she finally asks. "Because I don't look homeless?"

With a wince, Randall steps forward and offers Carrie a hand up, looking around to see if there's anything he can do to help her with the mess. It doesn't look that way; the nearest place to get any napkins is on the other side of a largish milling crowd. "Sorry about that," he offers, gesturing helplessly toward the sticks. "I— don't really know, that was really just an icebreaker… have you been looking for long?"

Carrie looks toward the sticks and puts them in her other hand, taking Randall's hand gratefully. "Not that long. I just got here three days ago. I thought after how easy it was to find a place to crash that I was on a roll." Carrie wipes fine Chinese food off her shoe. "No luck." She looks Randall over, then, a little belatedly perhaps, lets go of her hand. "I'm Carrie."

"Randall," the man introduces himself in turn. "And yeah, three days isn't all that long if you're new in town… it gets easier once you've had time to meet a few people." As she lets go, he glances down for a moment, only then registering that he hadn't let go either. "They pressing you on rent already, or are you just looking for pocket money?"

Carrie calms down a little as the familiar topics come up. She plays with her fingers a bit. "Nah. It's all a little dicey. I mean the doctor who rents the place already has one guy using her guest room. He gave it to me and he's sleeping on the couch. I just. I want to go to college. And med school. And I'm not going to do that bumming around the way I used to.

At that, Randall arches a brow. "Med school! Yeah, you're right, that's a big goal to shoot for… me, I'm happy just to keep the bills paid, work on a personal project or two. Speaking of which…" He tilts his head, looking not so much directly at her as at the empty space about a foot to her left. "You're looking a little marmalade around the edges, are you sure you're feeling all right? No jet lag?" It's only an educated guess; lots of people who come to New York turn out to have started out somewhere far away. He did, once.

Carrie says, "Marmalade?" She looks at Randall with a puzzled expression. "Ummm… I don't get it. And no, I came here on a bus. Three friggin' days on a bus sitting next to a guy who apparently hadn't bathed, brushed his teeth, or stopped smoking pot since Ronald Reagan was president." Which is such a long time ago, after all. Carrie sighs and slumps a little. "I'm not from here. And it's so different. I'm just not used to it yet. All the people, everyone talking so fast. Subways. Well okay, I'm getting used to them."

Randall looks around, finds a place somewhere nearby to sit down. And makes no attempt to explain the unusual word choice, instead focusing on the clearer picture that Carrie draws of her voyage to the city. "You kind of have to. But yeah, I hear you about— What is it about those guys and buses, anyway? You'd think they'd be broke enough to have to hitch instead." The cart is tucked underneath the bench, out of the way of other passersby. "I came here from California, a few years back. I was looking for different and even I almost got too much of it at once."

Carrie nods a little. "Yeah. Something different was what I was after too. Well. I got it. Now it's just a matter of can I live with it, I guess." She looks at Randall. "So why'd you come here? I mean… just for different? I'd have thought like… you know, California? Where it's warm all the time and all that?

"Well, I—" He doesn't continue right away, always pausing to ask himself whether he's talking to someone with any chance of believing him. Yes, he decides, there is such a chance here. Reaching into his pocket, he takes out and unfolds an abstract pencil sketch that vaguely resembles the neighborhood. "I've spent the past several years studying paranormal phenomena, trying to work out the common patterns behind them. I came here because I needed a place that hadn't already burned itself into my eyes for two decades running."

"And it actually gets kind of chilly up north," he adds, as an afterthought. "Not that much different from here— you're probably thinking closer to Los Angeles with the beach weather."

Carrie looks at Randall carefully, her hands beginning to get twitchy again, to twine and untwine fingers, even while she tries to keep her voice calm. "So um. Is there… you know… paranormal stuff going on around here? I mean… Seriously?

Randall watches her gaze closely, lowering his voice. "Here and there," he replies, hands resting in his lap on top of the sketch. "It's mostly background patterns, emotions. Auras. But other things, too, if you know what to look for." What is it about her that made him decide to bring this up? He doesn't know, but there's something, and that's enough for him.

Carrie is tense, wondering the same thing. What made him decide to bring this up? Why, oh why did he have to bring /this/ up? "You…" she whispers. "You can see this stuff in… auras?" This couldn't be real, could it? She winces at that thought, her brow furrowing, and she scratches at it a little. Then scratches again at the orthopedic plate she wears as a charm. "I have to know." she whispers. "Tell me what you see?"

He doesn't answer right away, just staring for a while. "Orange, I think," he finally murmurs. "Like you're afraid of something. But pale around the edges, like—" He lifts a hand toward her forehead, but stops short of actually touching it, merely shaking his head. "No, you're not sick. Like you're… moving away from the fear, but haven't exactly approached anything else yet."

It'd be a useful ability, sometimes, if it were real. He's seeing signs of fear, and he's seeing orange something before his eyes, but the cause and effect is all turned around.

"What's this?" he adds, gesturing toward the charm. "Do you mind if I take a look at—?"

Carrie frowns, trying to make sense of what Randall says. "Orange?" She pulls the charm out of her shirt and leans forward so Randall can handle it. It's still warm from where it hangs against her bare skin.

Randall gestures absently with his hands. "There's a… correspondence with emotional states. Usually." Absently, he squints at the charm, letting it rest against his fingers and then drop lightly back into place. "Thought I saw something there, but… no, I can't make it out. I don't know."

His eyes meet hers again, searching. Making no effort to conceal his own thoughts. You believe me, right? There are only a few people who do…

Carrie drops the orthopedic plate back down her shirt. She nods a little. "I've seen things you wouldn't believe." she whispers. "They tried to convince me they weren't real. They tried for two years. Drugs, therapy, even ECT. But I know what's real." She whispers urgently, patting the little titanium plate through her shirt. "I know it's real."

"Oh my— I'm sorry," Randall whispers back, wincing at the thought. How well would he hold up if he were committed for two years? Just being on the run from the government for a few months was hard enough on him.

"Anyway, I know about a few others who can do things. Special things." He doesn't elaborate immediately, just waves a hand vaguely in the air. People in movies always do that sort of thing when they're doing special things. And here's Carrie, apparently expecting herself to register on his Weird-o-Vision more than most. "Is there something like that that you can do, or…?"

Carrie nods slowly. "Yeah." Her fingers twine and writhe as though of their own volition. She grits her teeth. "Yeah. There is." She doesn't elaborate. It's a white knuckle moment for her, just admitting this to someone.

Again, he offers a hand to hers: not to help her up, this time, so much as just an indication that he's there. Will be there. "That might be why the colors are off a little bit. They usually—" What? He's not sure of the right words, but he knows it when he sees it. "So I could introduce you to some of the others, if we get the chance. I mean, if you want to?" It might be pushing things to admit her secret to more than one person in a short time.

Carrie stares. "There are… there are more? Besides you and me, I mean?" She looks at the hand as though a little suspicious, then takes it carefully. Her hand is warm. And otherwise unremarkable.

Randall nods slowly, turning to face Carrie. Look, everyone, they're having a perfectly normal conversation; don't pay them any mind. "I've fallen out of touch with some of them, but— yes, there are. And probably more that I don't know about." A shrug: how many more, he doesn't really know. Depends whether they've figured it out themselves, and how much they've kept it to themselves if they have.

Carrie looks at Randall, and at the bandaid at the back of his jaw, near his ear. "Hold still." She whispers, and reaches out to peel it off. One hopes he's shaven well today, or this could hurt a lot. Carrie's hands are shaking badly and it makes it hard to get the corner of the very sticky bandaid.

He winces as soon as it begins to pull away from the skin. "Hey! You could warn--" Well, she did, sort of. Without moving his head, he reaches a hand out, bracing it against— her shoulder? No, that would probably get in her way more than anything else. The side of the bench, then, and maybe he should call up Professor Nequebaard for some tips on growing it out further. He could probably pull the look off if he experimented with it a bit…

Carrie reaches out and sets her fingers over the little cut, exploded zit, or whatever it was under the bandaid. And /does it/. Her fingers seem for all the world to sink into Randall's face, occupying the same space at the same time, and she can feel the defect in his skin, the tiny infection. She kills the infection easily, then nudges the skin cells back into their proper pattern. It's a minuscule wound, and healing that is like using a sledgehammer to squash flies without the collateral damage. But it works.

Carrie withdraws her fingers from their apparent depth in Randall's face after only a moment.

A nick from a dull-from-overuse safety razor, yes, judging from the angle and the depth. As she goes to work, Randall's eyes are wide, unfocused. Taking it in— after all, this is more or less the Holy Grail of his misguided quest. Something new.

"…thank you," he murmurs, and belatedly stops pressing his fingers into the paint. "Thank you. That was… I met a girl who could heal plants, once, even if they were already uprooted. First thing I saw when I first came here. That was different, though, it—" A hundred half-formed ideas flit through the back of his mind, and fade away just as quickly. He'll be up half the night trying to sort through them.

Carrie nods slowly. She smiles, kind of more relaxed. She almost looks like she should be smoking a cigarette now. "Thank you. For believing." she says quietly, rubbing her fingertips together. She toys with the orthopedic plate a little. "Thank you." she says again.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License