2009-10-10: It's Society's Way



Date: October 10th, 2009


Two girls are still recovering from their experience, so that when Laurie decides to play 'poke the therapist-in-training', things get a bit bumpy.

"It's Society's Way"

Oldcastle Pub

Pulling herself out of her apartment, and back into the land of the living, Sydney sits at the bar of the Oldcastle Pub—a large stack of papers sitting on the bar next to her (she plans to deal with these journal articles after dinner), nibbling at her french fries, a whole burger sitting on her plate. The blond doesn't look particularly professional today (her wardrobe consists of a rather oversized grey sweater, a pair of faded blue jeans, and red ballet flats), of course, this is at least partially because she's been told to take a week away from her duties at the police station. She sips at her coke.

And then the door opens for yet another patron to join the foray. Unfortunately for Sydney this causes a slight breeze to come into the room, blowing several of her articles in her pile around the room. Annoyed, the blonde stands to her feet, and hotly pursues her papers.

It's a colder night, meaning it's a better one to be sitting in with some alcohol to warm your insides. As such, there's several older men off in one corner, having reserved a larger booth just for their purposes. Based on the scattered official jackets and belongings about, they're all off-hour law officials of some kind. In the midst of this sits Laurie. He sticks out in that he doesn't appear to have credentials of any kind on his person. Instead, he's wearing a long-sleeved shirt over jeans with just a billowing scarf around his neck for accessory. His hand is currently around a glass he doesn't seem to notice is empty. This may be because he's much too busy making large gestures that nearly take out the rest of the drinks on the table. "— And then. See, that's when he says - he says 'But I 'aven't got me gun!'" Dropping into a high rolling accent unlike his own voice, the man's punch-line causes raucous laughter from the collection of listeners. While they're all still busy laughing, Laurie presses them to excuse himself for a refill.

The group gives way easily, still busy reciting the just-told story to each other so they can point out their favorite parts. Thus, Laurie strolls towards the bar just in time to stomp down on the top edge of a runaway paper. Bending to pick up the article curiously, he seems briefly more interested in scanning the words than seeing who might be looking for it back.

Once again, it had been a long, frustrating day at work. "Why do I put up with this stuff?" Alex thinks to herself, as she makes her way into the Oldcastle. She had heard good things from her coworkers about this small place, and tonight seemed like the perfect night to check it out. It's a blustery night on the colder side, and she's got no particular place to be, so why not? The yellow cab drops her off outside the place, and after paying the fare, she steps out into the cool air. She's had the chance to go home first, of course, and change out of her stuffy work clothes, though that doesn't mean she's dressed poorly! She has on a gray-greenish dress, just a bit past her knees, and golden strappy sandalish shoes, clinging to the last vestiges of summer. With the long sleeves of her dress, she doesn't bother with a jacket, her small purse slung tightly about her shoulder, the bulge of a bandage wrapping visible under the dress on her upper right arm from an incident earlier in the week.

Clearing her throat rather loudly at Laurie, Sydney attempts to get the man's attention. "Ex-cuse me," she annunciates as she holds out her hand expectantly. "May I please have my article back?" Her lips curl upwards into a small smile. And blinks at Laurie expectantly. "I'm sure it's of no interest to you—"

And then the door opens again for Alex. Sydney recognizes her immediately, and the blonde tries to make eye contact with her fellow mugging … is victim even the right word? The muggers were kind of the victims this time…

First Laurie's eyes find Sydney's over the top of the article, then he lowers it in her direction for the taking. "Are you really sure?" He quizzes lightly, tapping a thumb on his empty beer bottle and glancing to the ceiling as if to think. "1953. B.F. Skinner. 'Teachers must learn how to teach … they need only to be taught more effective ways of teaching'." He looks back in time to note all the aimed eye contact going on but does not comment, only lingers near Sydney for whenever he might glimpse her attention in his direction again. "Going to learn effective ways to teach prison inmates in Iran, are we?"

Inside the bar she goes, deciding hey, what the heck she's alone, so she slides up to the bar a few stools down from Sydney. She keeps her purse over her left shoulder, sitting it down right on top of the bar. When the bartender slides her a drink and food menu, she reaches out for it with her right hand, wincing a little as she flexes her right arm. It's more of a nuisance than anything else, since it wasn't more than a deep scratch and a little burn. She did have it looked at by a doctor at an all-night clinic though. Boy that was a rough day at work the next day, explaining to all her coworkers what had happened, since she wore a sleeveless dress…her own stupid fault! Before she looks at the menu, she looks around the bar, spotting Sydney and Laurie talking. "Wow…city's smaller than you think" she says to herself.

Eyebrows are raised as Laurie mentions Skinner. "That is, essentially the idea," she mutters as she reaches for her article. "I'm not trying to teach prison inmates in Iran. I'm trying to finish my dissertation work so I can get this PhD thing finished and find more effective ways to help individuals out of emotional trauma—inmates included." She presses her lips into a thin line. "Reforming inmates is the goal, isn't it?" she tilts her head.

There's a flicker of something registering behind Laurie's eyes at the mention of trauma, but it could be anything. It could be the yellow bar lights reflecting. "But that's what you're reading about," he poses, "I didn't know you had to have your PhD finished to start being more effective." Up go his eyebrows for a more comic punctuation on his sentence. He isn't challenging her meanly- at least, that's not what his tone says. It's far more idle. Then he bobs his head towards the bar, indicting he's going to move towards there before he actually does. She can follow, or not. "Is it?" He asks back to her helpfully over his shoulder before he slides up to the bar and places the empty mug there.

Alex isn't one to interrupt another's conversation, so for the moment, she's content to just sit and order. She starts off with an iced tea, not in the mood for anything hard, and puts in her food order for a Cobb salad. Like Sydney, she too tends to walk around with extra stuff in her purse, papers-wise. As she sits there, she pulls out her own packet of papers, but this time, it's one thick stack, bound with a plastic book binding. It's got a thick plastic cover and back, so it's safe to sit on the bar. She starts to flip through, reading up on the various proposals set forth for the project over the course of the week, thankfully all in English and more easily understood than listening to some of her international collaborator's fractured English speech.

Laurie's jab about PhD's is taken with good humour. Sydney smirks. "I don't need the PhD to be more effective, but I need it to be better prepared." Besides, aren't all psychologists secretly trying to fix themselves? She follows him towards the bar and Alex enters her view once again. Apprehensively she flashes the other woman a smile. The two don't really know each other. Biting her bottom lip she glances at Alex's shoes, just like the last time the two had met. "I swear you only have beautiful shoes," she comments idly before turning back to Laurie, and answering his question, "It should be the reason. Prison shouldn't just be some holding place. If that's the case we may as well be rid of prisoners altogether and reduce the surplus population." Her tone drips with sarcasm.

He makes a small 'ah!' of revelation when she answers the jab, beginning to grin underneath the exaggerated understanding. Laurie might then say that psychologists should take some time off to work on that, but this is a conversation for another day. As it is, he leans one arm on the bar so that he can face Sydney and those that she acknowledges. His glass is meanwhile refilled, but he leaves it be. There's also some ruckus in the corner from the men now over his story and wanting another, but they are equally ignored. Instead, a bemused expression falls over his face at the mention of shoes and it stays there even once things are prison and inmates again. "I see. Prisons are schools." Said with no judgment, he then stretches his arm to commandingly tap the bar closer to where Alexandra is sitting, "What do you think?" Was she even listening to the question, it doesn't seem to matter.

Alex turns to look at Sydney, giving her a brief smile. "Well, I try my best to pick out good ones, you know." She continues to try and avoid being a part of their conversation, but has to answer Laurie. "Well, I think they can be, if the programs are established correctly. You have to have the right subjects, as well!"

"All social institutions are schools," Sydney counters as she sips at her coke. "Family is a school in its own way. We're all learning. Always growing. Always encountering new people and new situations. It's school at its root. Isn't the goal to make us all well-behaved, productive citizens. School itself is inherently designed to teach us to behave in society." She shrugs and then nods at Alex, "That's fair. The dress is super cute too. How's your arm? Healing well?"

"That in which leisure is employed," Laurie muses, tipping what is now a full mug of beer at Sydney pointedly, "No, go on. I wasn't contradicting you in the least." He nods to Alex's answer as well, apparently uncaring of her previous attempts not to interrupt. "This all, of course, depending on many an individual's views on productive and well-behaved, hm? How well do you think your school prepared you? Oh my, but you're still preparing, aren't you." He pauses, contemplates the two women before adding happily, "Fantastic dress. And arm."

"Thanks you two. I don't wish to interrupt though. So while it's nice to see you again, dear, I don't want to presume this is my field of expertise." She sort of politely excuses herself from the conversation for the moment, going back to her reading.

An eyebrow is arched at Laurie. What is this guy playing at? "Go on? About what exactly? My dissertation work, the learning process, or inmate reform?" And then narrowing her eyes she adds, "Or some combination of all of the above. And yes, I am preparing. I may be young, but I'm not… unexperienced." She eases with the happy tones and munches on one of the french fries on her plate, leaving the burger still untouched.

"That's the— that's the best kind to listen to." Despite this insistence from Laurie in Alex's direction, she goes back to her reading, so he goes back to eyeing Sydney in that cheerful manner. "I was hoping you'd choose and therein reveal something of yourself and what is on your mind," he informs the young woman openly, digging into a bowl of peanuts left on the counter and popping one in his mouth. "Of course you aren't. We're all always experiencing all the time."

"Nothing interesting is on my mind," Sydney insists as she pops another fry in her mouth. "In fact I'm relatively blank at this moment." She offers a smirk. "Indeed. Always experiencing, always growing, always learning." She eyes Laurie suspiciously, "So tell me, why are you remotely interested in inmate reform?" She adds, "You did pick up my article, after all."

Laurie offers her a sideways, one eyebrow-raised look that says he is challenging her mind's blankness; but it is only in expression. In words, he cuts her loose, only choosing to move onto the next obstacle. "I did," he allows of the paper-retrieving, "Of course, your article landed under my foot, so it sort of started it. But, since you've been so kind, I have something of an investment in keeping certain inmates from abusing your generous principles."

"Investment?" Sydney quirks as she sips at her coke. "So do you work with this crowd then?" She knows what kind of bar this is. That it's a cop-hangout. "Are you an officer then?" She bites her bottom lip, "I wouldn't call them my principles. They're socially accepted norms of behaviour. I don't own them."

"Investment," Laurie repeats, because it's that important. His body language shifts slightly, towards the back of the bar when the crowd is mentioned - indeed those men are still hanging out there, but they've conveniently given up on getting their storyteller back. For his part, the older man raises a hand for Sydney to wait a moment then slides his beer towards him for a generous gulp. Taking his leisure at putting it back down, pushing it a bit away, and then dapping at his mouth, it's a wonder that all he has waited to say to her is a simple, "No." He is not an officer. He even shakes his head lightly. "Ah, so, you're borrowing someone else's."

"Aren't we all borrowing someone else's? How else would such standards be so bound by time and space? Besides, isn't society in the individual as much as the individual is in society? The two are virtually inseparable because we're socialized to think a certain way about things according to our families and social trajectories." Sydney asks as she sips her coke again. She glances back at Laurie's friends, "I think they miss you. Probably can't get along without your sage wisdom." Smirking, she finishes her last french fry and wrinkles her nose at the burger.

"All, everyone?" He poses quizzically, "Doesn't everything have an origin? True, it's like wondering who made the first lolcats, but someone out there originated the thought and now all of our blogs are truly full of captioned kittens." Which may or may not have anything to do with inmates. Wait— "Do inmates have blogs?" He seems so honestly intrigued by his own question that he glances off and appears to forget Sydney. He's brought back, though, by mention of his friends. Obligingly, he glances over his shoulder at them after giving Sydney a newly appraising eye. "You're gravely mistaken," he tells her, though, "I have no wisdom. They're expecting me to bring more drinks." But all he's got is his own, rarely touched. "A society is, indeed, in everyone. But it is not going to be the society of our neighbor. We are all in this society, but not always each other's." He draws a couple of rings on the bar, mimicking a venn diagram. "And we, therefore, bump. Some harder than others."

"And who do you bump, Mister—?" Sydney asks quizzically. "Clearly you have your own ideas about society and how we live in it." Her smirk appears again at his insistence on not having wisdom, "Well I'm glad at least you're not completely delusional. Believe me, I've counselled some very deluded individuals. It's generally better to just patronize them and run with the delusion."

"Anyone they ask me to," Laurie replies easily, lazily going for a few more peanuts while she's still talking. "Laurie, first name, no mister." His hand freezes slightly, the movement hitches just the littlest bit, when she hits on 'delusional'. She's counseled some 'deluded' individuals. "Is that right," he says, pulling back from the peanut bowl with something the tiniest ounce less than his usual fluidity. "Run with it. I see. That sounds very encouraging. You'll have to excuse me," he continues, getting back on track with that cheery attitude of nonchalance, "I like to do a bit more circle-bumping than is perhaps necessary, miss— Sydney, isn't it?"

"… yes. It's Sydney," she answers as she wrinkles her nose. "How do you know that?" A sense of apprehension causes her to push the burger entirely away. Not a single bite has been taken from it. "Anyone they ask you to?" She frowns. "So did you wind up with the short end of the stick and were persuaded to talk to me about my own supposed psychotic break from reality?" He knows her name. He's been prodding her with questions. It almost makes sense. "Listen, if this is about my rendition of the mugging, nothing's changed. I don't recant anything. I saw what I saw. I know for a fact the reports matched so either we all had the same psychotic break from reality or …" she shrugs and gulps her coke. No more of this sipping nonsense. Finishing it off, she motions to the bartender and points to her glass, "A rum and coke please."

Laurie politely watches her through the tirade, bringing her hands together to be folded with one elbow still propped on the bar but otherwise remaining completely passive. He lets her talk, chug, and order. Then he raises a hand to scratch absently at his eyebrow and says, "That was all quite fascinating, but no. I simply requested a list of names of people who'd been given permission to see a particular casefile and yours came up." Dropping the hand, he tilts his head to the left over his shoulder. "I merely guessed." A beat. The head tilts back. "Surmised, actually. And, while I am wholly a fan of shared experiences, I'm fairly sure you did not suffer such a break. Though you do seem to entertain a curious lack of interest in your burger, despite what monetary loss it might represent for someone still putting herself through school."

"Oh," is all the woman can manage. The drink comes, and after hearing Laurie's explanation, Sydney guzzles the rum and coke; something she will likely regret later. The bartender peers at her to see if she will order another, and she merely shakes her head. "And what case file would that be? I'm working several right now." Well, not right, right now because she was told to take a week. A week to deal with her shared hallucination. She frowns about the burger, "I haven't been very hungry lately. I was shot at. It's extraordinary how post traumatic disorder can ruin even the best things."

Throughout their deep discussion, a discussion of society and the implication of education on certian groups of people that Alexandra is woefully inadequately equipped to understand fully or argue with any sort of aplomb, the woman had sat eating her salad and reading her engineering report. Of course, she wasn't trying to listen in; it just…sort of happened! So when the discussion turns to Sydney and her hallucination…a hallucination of which Alex was a part (if not the cause) of, she sets the report aside and turns to face the woman. "You've been…hassled over your police report?" She looks concerned, turning to look at both Sydney and Laurie. Alex, being the main cause of said hallucination, also had filed a police report. Maybe it was her sense of self-preservation, but she didn't confess that she was the culprit of the earth antics. Her story does include the same strange happenings though. "I was the other girl in that mugging…I know her story to be 100% true!"

"Cruella," Laurie passes by the mention of the case with a wave of his hand and this one odd name-drop, and he seems to get away with it, too, when the burger subject is distracting enough. For the first time in the conversation, his face really softens. "Truly," he says for trauma, just that, and it is, every letter, full of absolute empathy. In a timely fashion, the other woman returns to their radar of attention before this sincerity can really be explored. He smiles. "You were the other— well, what a fine coincidence we have here. And I'm glad to hear it. There are so very few things anymore that are one-hundred percent. There's a kind of purity to a statistic like that. So, tell me," and he puts his elbow propped up on the bar and rests his cheek there intently, "You were," a finger point to one then the other of them, "previously strangers mugged at the same time?"

"I work with the department, sometimes," Sydney explains to Alex. "I got hassled. Although one officer was extremely understanding and said he believed me. Bryan— " She bites her lower lip as she realizes she doesn't even know his last name. All she's ever called him is Bryan. "— I don't actually know his last name." She frowns as Laurie goes on about things being 100. "Cruella?" she questions with a wrinkled nose. "You are a ass," she blurts before she manages to hold her tongue and feels her emotions starting to get the better of her. She stands to her feet. Her cheeks redden, but she doesn't stop there, even though she wants to, "Clearly we experienced the same thing. We saw the same thing. She is backing me up. Your sarcasm about the statistic is both degrading and highly inappropriate for anyone working in police work. Particularly when talking to a victim of a rather violent and potentially traumatizing crime." Unfortunately for Sydney, as the adrenaline increases in her body, so does her emission of her emotion to those around her. Oddly a couple in the corner begin to have a rather heated argument.

As Alex watches and listens to Sydney arguing with Laurie, she begins to feel…angry. Inexplicably, totally, angry. And at nothing in particular! Well…maybe it's at Laurie, but just a little. I mean…their stories are the same, right? They're telling the same events, the same way, and just because they're out of the ordinary, he won't believe them? They were two WOMEN in Central-fucking-Park? Where were the COPS when they were mugged, huh? Yeah, why weren't asses like him out there? He was probably here hassling pretty, hard-working college students like Sydney for shits and giggle is why, instead of out there helping women getting shot at. SHOT. AT. WITH GUNS.

"I don't think you have any reason to be so sarcastic, especially when our stories corroborate so well…" Alex says, setting her jaw as she stands from her stool. She's far from intimidating physically, to say the least. She's short, and probably doesn't way more than 100 pounds. But as she stands and slides the stool back, she. Looks. PISSED. Of course, as this happens, there's an imperceptible rumble beginning in the groud. By the time she stands, it's to an earthquake that's noticable enough, especially when glasses start to slide across tables, and clean glasses and bottles all over the bar begin to fall and shatter. And…maybe it's just the lights here, but are her brown eyes looking browner…glowing a little?

The rocking of the bar, as it were, makes it difficult to continue resting there. Laurie begins to frown for the first time, even since they both started getting on his case, and he straightens in posture. A quick hand rescues his own drink from death on the floor, but a half-filled glass nearby is not so lucky. It smashes and the liquid splashes brightly across an unfortunate someone's shoes. The bartender is more than distraught at this bizarre outbreak and he goes about securing what he can while reassuring others around him. Laurie, for his part, has smoothed out his voice to absolutely no inflection. A little twitch starts up below his left eye, a tick of some kind, and hardly a conscious maneuver. "I understand you're feeling isolated," he announces with a new kind of force to either lady that might listen, "But now is perhaps not the time to pick at it." What with things breaking and the earth moving and all. "You cleverly deduced that I was being an ass, however, neither that nor, believe it or not, what I'm saying now is or was sarcasm. I don't even know your story — does this happen often?" Earthquake, really? And all that concentration is gone.

A sideglance is given to Alex. The ground is rumbling. Sydney's seen something similar to this when the mugging happened, and she doesn't want to have to lie on another police report. Quickly, she throws some cash on the counter, shoots Laurie a dirty look, slides her papers off of the bar, mutters, "You are an ass," and stomps out of the Oldcastle. Her emotional state is starting to seem less like coincidence with each passing day.

Strangely enough, as soon as Sydney leaves the pub, the earthquake stops. Alex, looking tense and angry just a moment ago, begins to relax. She doesn't look any less happy, just less mad. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to agree with Sydney on this one. You weren't there, so how can you speak to what happened. We both saw it…hell, I got shot!" As if to ram the point home, she rolls up a sleeve and shows the patched up arm. "As pleasant as this has been, I'm afraid I'm going to have to go as well." She tosses 30 bucks in cash onto the bar, takes her purse, and heads out as well. Of course, the fact that in both cases where Syd and Alex were together, strange seismic activity was reported in a new coincidence, a new line of thinking that will have to be investigated…

There they both go, taking their shaking with them. The earthquake is odd, but the anger is not, considering that they have apparently gone through… something! Whatever it is, Laurie honestly wishes he had gotten around to hearing about it, and commenting, so that he could have properly earned the name-calling. Until then, this definitely doesn't count enough towards his goal, and he resolves to try harder next time before easing his way back to where the off-duty cops are exclaiming importantly over the broken glasses issue.

"Gentleman!" The consultant announces, "Have you ever had something one-hundred percent?"

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