Date: May 30th, 2010
Good cop tails bad cop to a particular spot. Best not underestimate Detective Powers, O'Meara; she's onto you. As it happens, so is Roscoe.
"Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary"
New York City
Maggie's eyes are attuned to the road even more than they usually are when she's behind the wheel. No; not only to the road. Her focus belongs to a certain moving point up ahead, a car, past a few other vehicles, spread out as traffic has since thinned. The sparkling lights of Manhattan have passed her by, and it's a darker route she's taken, following prey she doesn't actually intend to catch — only observe.
She leans over the wheel slightly as she drives, brows knit together faintly in an expression of perpetual suspicion and concern. Even technically off-duty, Maggie is on the job. It just happens to be a job that's off the books — but nevertheless for the books.
As it happens, it's incredibly difficult to trail someone who knows the exact make, model, and license plate of your car — a car that, to the knowledgeable eye, sticks out for what it is. A detective's. Logically, then, it's not her own car that the detective now eases around a corner into the realm of shadier city watering holes, the vehicles in-between her and her target of spying getting sparser. Still, she keeps a lengthy distance away. It's very new, inside the car, not lived in. The dim interior eats Maggie up, her button-up shirt the same shade of dark grey as the everything else. From the outside, the car's best descriptors are "red" and "rental".
The car she's following, the half-busted, years old Toyota, could be anybody's. Since it usually arrives at the station the latest and leaves the earliest, there are very few who have actually seen the owner slide inside except those, today, who happen to be watching him specifically. So far in front of her, O'Meara is hardly visible except for a bobbing head above the rest of his seat, his interior actions second to the ones the car takes. If she could see him, she might be surprised to see him uncurling the wrapper of a greasy burger she wouldn't have remembered following him to pick up — how long has that been there — but not especially shocked to discover that the errant detective eats while driving; a couple of fingers remain on the wheel for at least a majority of the time.
New York traffic isn't the friendliest, and her former partner adds to the mix generously enough with some honking and more lack of signaling. As the streets get thinner, as well as the number of fellow drivers, his carelessness increases incrementally. It is, however, a shared trait and red rental behind him might start sticking out more for its cautious patterning than anything else: description added, "probably a tourist."
Breezing down a few streets that only loosely resemble the word 'residential', and this only because people technically sleep there, he would seem to be leaving the businesses behind. Except for a very sudden, very extreme direction change that throws the old Toyota down an alley right before the main cross-street that lights up with signs proclaiming Two-Dollar Tuesdays and Ladies Night every night.
However fast and furiously she had to become integrated with the city's grid-like streets, Maggie doesn't feel far from a tourist some days. She's far from a New Yorker, at any rate, and she has to thank the rental's built-in GPS screen as she glances to it now, after the Toyota's sudden swerves into the alley. So, thusly directed by the map, the red car doesn't so much as put a cautious signal light on. Instead, Maggie fully intends to drive right past coolly as can be, a discerning eye given both to the followed vehicle (and the vague silhouette of its occupant) and the signage on the way past.
She takes her time, watching the brightness of Two Dollar Tuesdays just start to blur in her rearview mirror, trying to figure out whether or not O'Meara has reached his destination or not; he'll either stay there, or he'll peel out. Not much room between. She prepares to turn down a nearby side-street, and that moment, stopped at a stop sign, is taken to keep extra watch behind her.
If the red rental hovers at the stop sign until movement, it might seem to be sitting there a tad too long — but the reward is O'Meara's light gray vehicle exiting the alley at a similar pace with which it entered. Ambling, easy. He swerves illegally around a light with no others waiting in order to come up on the street he had been traveling before. It's a continuation that reserves the cards, putting him now behind Maggie. If the move was done on purpose… it certainly wasn't his; visible by the blessings of that same rearview mirror, the detective can be seen whipping out a phone to begin dialing as he uses the, very brief, minimal hesitation of that stop sign to one-handed dial and other-handed light the cigarette now dangling between his lips.
Maggie suppresses the fleeting urge to pick up O'Meara for traffic violations. A chary look is shot to her rearview mirror, and though her gaze is ever-watchful, it's reluctant, too; she's hoping he doesn't pay too much attention to her, the blonde driver in front of him. The car is her only disguise.
But rather sit at the stop sign unduly long and watch O'Meara multi-task, she makes that turn, putting more space between them. Unlike the other off-duty detective, however — presumably — she doesn't know where she's going yet.
As he steps on the gas, O'Meara yanks the level to roll the non-automatic window down, letting him lean to the side to use a flick of the wrist to dash the first ashes from his cigarette. Doing so, he happens to glance in the red car's direction, watching it amble away after the turn as he indulges in his past-time, raises the phone to his opposite ear in the meanwhile. Something squawking at him from the other line, however, pulls him quickly away from any prolonged study of the other vehicle on the street and he only gets to roll the window partway back up before the road and the phone conversation divide his attention beyond that. The one arm is still needed to make necessary course-corrections, after all.
Heading straight at the sign, he continues for a few more blocks past more of those neon signs, those extra-flourescent neighborhood convenience stores, until things begin to get better — not in terms of sleaziness, but at least in up-keep. There's also more cars around again.
A couple of two-story clubs and then he makes a left turn to address a block of those shifty institutions; it's a block that's lit up on police radars before. Plenty of activity, but never a fruitful raid or stake-out. Like somehow it's always been bad timing for the law.
O'Meara doesn't go right for the obvious pull-in at these places… but he does park conveniently nearby.
The law — or at least Detective Powers — is nowhere to be seen, by that time.
From side-street to a route parallel to O'Meara's, though each quite out of sight of one another thanks (or no thanks) to many a building in-between, she eyes that electronic map the car has given her. The Toyota's path is tracked in her mind. Maggie's features turn darker as the addresses begin to sound familiar. With O'Meara out of sight, she decides to follow a hunch.
It takes her to a similarly convenient parking spot more or less across the street of that familiar block's main gathering of shifty institutions. It takes some scanning, but she spots that beat-up vehicle of his. Sure, O'Meara could just be going to some sleaze bar because, frankly, it fits his character — but Maggie is determined to follow this through, convinced that it's not a total waste of her time. In the now silent rental, without so much as the radio on, hands fall from the wheel and she slides down in her seat, shrugging a few times to get comfortable. It doesn't really work. She's not comfortable. She's spying on a co-worker. That's not comfortable.
It's true that O'Meara blends right in with the typical bystander on this kind of street with too-gelled hair and a slouchy jacket over the lean figure that eases quite comfortably out of his own ride. Then again, he also matches up with a whole lot of New York like that. But here he is at this street, sliding from the driver's seat with one arm behind him to drag along the brown paper bag he didn't have with him leaving the station. It could've been hiding in some glove compartment like the burger, but the package is bigger than that, and held protectively though relaxed at his side.
Taking a pull from the cigarette with every fifth step, he glances at least one direction for traffic and then jogs across the street to the set-up of questionable locations. His first slow to a stop is not at any of the doors but the corner, where he's held up by a guy leaning against the cross-walk lamp and hawking tickets to some show or another. There's a few words exchanged — heated — and the unidentified man finally raises his hands in surrender and beats it away down the street.
Thus satisfied, O'Meara walks with an especially tough-guy swagger as he approaches a very particular door. A private door. Guarded on either side by overbearing bouncers, one at least which is tattooed over every inch of him in swirling symbols and Celtic words.
Though the pair clearly don't take especially kindly to O'Meara — there's an insult or two thrown back and forth as he approaches — they do let him in without a fuss. There's just a blare of streaming red lights and loud music before the black door shuts on a black wall again, leaving just two guys and their watchful stares.
The detective is taking a page out of the book of the PI she so recently met… sort of. Coli is actually far from her mind as she snaps a series of zoomed-in digital photographs of O'Meara and the building's tattooed bouncers: his approach, their insulting greetings, O'Meara entering the building. Maggie's lips press into a very thin line, tugging as though she chews upon the inside. The camera lowers, and she looks at the device grudgingly, as though it's something dirty and she's done something dishonest.
The camera is lowered to her lap and she eases back. Nevertheless stoic observation takes over, though i is interrupted every so often by a frown, or an uneasy gesture with her hands near her face, or a concerned glance this way or that — spurred more by her own thoughts than any signal outside the car. Now, her hand curls by her mouth and she places a short fingernail between her teeth while staring at the exterior of the club.
The sleek black exterior of the club changes little under Maggie's watchful gaze, and even the body-guards seem to come to a standstill resembling a painting. Every so often, they jeer at a passerby, but the atmosphere remains rather chill.
But behind closed doors—
O'Meara shoulders his way right into the midst of the get-together, skirting tables of lounging patrons as the pounding music encourages less conversation-minded men and women up front to dancing. Under the dim pulse of lights, scantily clad hostesses wander by with trays of drinks, draping themselves over the shoulders of their favorite customers while listening blatantly in on business discussed roughly over stacks of carefully unmarked envelopes. One of them O'Meara lends a friendly pinch to as he strolls on by, his shoulders squared importantly as he wears an aloof persona different than the greedy man inside hoping that everyone is watching him walk right up to that large private door in the back: feeds on their private jealousy.
With a palm against the door, he thrusts it open casually, and it swings with a blare of music from outside and then closes, muffling all sound except the much more intimate chink of glasses and shuffling of chairs and cards in here. The interior room is quite rich in decoration, with olive drapes over spotlighted paintings, a bar — velvety booths, tiled floors. Currently, it is mostly occupied by a large round table off to the left center, the chairs pulled up to it, and the serious gamblers sitting in each one. Here, every shirt on every man around the table conceals a weapon, the hands poised with cards edging just around the threat of upset, of violence. Yet even with all these tempers under one roof, there seems a quieter understanding that nothing will happen. A stronger grip clenches invisibly around the whole club.
A couple of clear Irish thugs are holed up in one corner, circled like dogs around beer bottles and women, as they roll their own dice game and revel — albeit not loud enough to disturb the main group.
"Take 'em or leave 'em, gentlemen," comes the voice from the understood 'head' of the table gambling arrangement. It's to this figure that O'Meara glances as he strides across the room past these so-called gentlemen. Grey eyes meet blue eyes across the space, each stare hardened and silently challenging as they contemplate each other. Then, O'Meara breaks first. He jerks his head away and continues on towards the huddle of Irishmen as though nothing's changed. Barely seeming to pause, Roscoe continues dishing out a trade-in of four cards to the man immediately to his left even before fully returning attention to the game. "Paulie," he carols to the next man in order, "What's it going to be?"
"Paulie" pries his cards from the table, snorts, waves a knuckle-tattooed hand and murmurs something vague, suiting his mood — which results from him steadily losing the game. "Game keeps playin' like this, I'm gonna find that fancy gamblin' parlor in Chinatown, how'd you like that." But he isn't one-hundred-percent serious and makes sure everyone knows it with a chuckle before he makes his play anyway.
Another of the men around the table, to Roscoe's right, leans back revelry looking smugly at his hand of cards. A slightly sneering smile appearing when he notices O'Meara heading in closer. "Well look who it is," he says, carousingly. "Are you joinin' our little game?" A look is, then, moved to Roscoe, as if for guidance. Or rather, permission. "Is he joinin' our game?" Back to O'Meara. "What's news?"
"I think I'd like that a lot, you'd make a great fuckin' Chinaman." Roscoe's amiability is born of complete confidence that his table won't be emptying any time soon — much like the handy stack he's been amassing in front of him. Cash, mostly. One watch. Some poor schmuck's car keys. But there's still money in the center, and time to turn the tides. Roscoe didn't start out on top, after all; it's a recent turn, and one that would be fueling a bit of a smile except for the further interruption as to other visitors. Since that's game already been played, he doesn't even spare O'Meara a second glance, instead messing with the cards in his hand, occasionally reorganizing a cigar or two as they lay around the edge of the table by the men's elbows. On the look given to him, he meets the other player's eyes warningly, the fine line of his eyebrows' movement sitting between bored and irritated. "Of course he isn't joining," he snaps off eventually, "He's a delivery boy. He's makin' a delivery. Ain'tcha, Mary?"
O'Meara chuckles, darkly, his head turned away from the main group, as he fosters some private joke. One that doesn't make it to the clear annoyance in his eyes as he runs a hand over his mouth to stifle his first reaction. "News ain't news," he informs them, pausing at the spot he's walked to, "Cops're stuck with no IDs. Makin' blind grabs in alleys for punks. You can spot the probbie officers tryin' to sell crack on the corner a mile away, they're so shiny."
The man who questioned O'Meara takes a moment to decide that he folds, with a curse. "I like shiny." His eyes do resemble a crow's. Dark and beady. He scrubs a hand on the scruff of his chin and points from him to Roscoe and back again in over dramatized thought, still smirking at the crooked detective. "Well if it's not news, and if it's not yer life's savin's gambled onto the table, then just what've you delivered us?"
To this, there's a grunt across the table from the thug known as Paulie. Otherwise, he's paying more attention to the pile in the middle of the table.
A third man pipes up to demand that he be given one card for the one he slaps into the discard. Roscoe obligingly wets the tips of his fingers and slides one card only off the top of the deck to flick in the man's direction. It lands spot on in front of him, face down. He tips up the corner for investigation and lets nothing of the truth reflect through his critical eyes.
Bristling some from the heckling being all he can seemingly elicit from the big guns over there, O'Meara hefts the brown bag into the crook of his arm, rubbing his hands together in exaggerated thoughtfulness as he prepares to, presumedly, pull the baggie open. "I know what else you like," he jabs to the smirking man, though his gaze manages to alight on Roscoe's turned away face instead for a brief moment before he plunges on enthusiastically, "Women. Eh? Got one of 'em back at the station — nag, nag, nag. I constantly wonder which sergeant she slept with to get her way to this case. Except, she's also got a stick up her ass so far she's seein' splinters, you know what I mean. Couldn't turn off bein' a cop long enough to know what a real gang looks like."
Cards down for the time being, the talkative thug huffs under his breath and spreads his hands. He's got his eyes on the bag, more than the enthusiastic yammer that comes out of O'Meara's mouth, whether it holds any fascination or not — and, sometimes, eyes the third man to gauge what he's thinking about those cards. Business as usual. He snorts. "Well it ain't a woman you've got in that bag, is it. Yeah, I'd— "
" —like to show 'er a real gang!" Paulie interrupts after a drink of whatever dark ale happens to be at his side.
As the banter slows from the others' reactions to the detective's talking, it becomes apparent that Roscoe has yet to weigh in on the topic, a fact that leaves the air growing heavier with anticipation the longer it's allowed to stew. Eventually, O'Meara can't even pretend any longer that he isn't looking for a response and he looks the blond man steadily on. After a slow minute of fussing with this and that on the table, Roscoe's eyes lift to the first waiting face and then the next, as if he's only just catching on that things have paused.
Adjusting with an arm thrown over the edge of his chair, he waves a hand in O'Meara's direction. "Woes to you, Mary. Got a dyke cop scratchin' at yer back. Poor baby. She sucks — or doesn't — we get it." Mouth tugged downward in an extreme exaggeration of mockery that only adds to his affected simpering tone, he only lightens to give the detective a winsome, and altogether still mocking, smirk. "Not like you, though — right, Mary? You're not a damn dirty cop, you're useful! You're street fuckin' smart. You're like a…" snaps fingers a couple of times, "a lovable puppy dog!" The kidding drops away like a guy dropped off the docks with an anvil tied to his ankles. "So get the fuck over here, give us the goods, and scram, O'Meara."
He's been treated this way before, blatant lack of respect, but O'Meara seethes in a certain way hearing it from the arrogant Roscoe as the blond points authoritatively to the spot in front of his feet. Yet, biting his tongue, the rotten detective finds he'd like no better than to do exactly that; crackling the top of the bag open, he reaches in to remove several of what look like old VHS cases. They're delivered into Roscoe's hands without the other even blinking away from staring down O'Meara, and then the leaner of the two slinks off, crushed bag in his hands as he glances once at the other low-lifes in the corner — as if they could even support him, they're probably also considered higher up than the rat — and makes for his retreat.
The man that exits from that large private door is not the same posturing one who opened it, though O'Meara does a fine job of adjusting his jacket and swaggering angrily so that other curious patrons still wonder what business went on where they can't see. As he gets to the front doors, he shoves one open with his shoulder, using both hands to steady the cigarette he's been harboring in his mouth the whole time, but now the taste of it isn't quite the same. Spinning away, with some mumbled word or another to the guards, he reaches the sidewalk edge before dashing the lit thing down in front of him and giving it a good mash with a dirtied heel. Smush. Twist, twist, twist. Like he's fiercely ramming that shoe into somebody's face instead. Huffing and puffing, the detective picks his way not straight back to his car, but with a short and necessary pit-stop a few doors down for a few shots.
There's a quick blur of red light and movement in Maggie's peripheral vision: someone entering or exiting the club. Exiting, it turns out. It takes just a quick rise of her head, lifting up from the pages of a hardcover book nestled against the steering wheel, to determine that it is, indeed, O'Meara. And that he's not a happy camper. She can't say she's particularly sympathetic over the state of mind he seems to be in, but she certainly is curious; not a laidback hanging out at the club, then.
There's a flutter of the book's pages as they hurry shut — STEPHEN KING, the cover declares — and she picks up the camera from her bag on the other seat to take a few more pictures. If only because he's not carrying quite what he was when he went in.
She watches his moody trek and, when he doesn't return to his vehicle right away, Maggie's look of determination that had been building starts to waver. She gives the door of that club a long, considering look beneath knit brows, weighing her options and considering just how much of a risk (and how pointless) it might be to step through it here and now.
Ultimately, she finds herself shoving the rental's door open with a look of annoyance directed to no one but herself. No time to wait around.
Moments later, she's striding — quickly, before she can change her mind with her better judgment — across the street, heading straight for those front doors. Maggie doesn't look much like anyone who would fit in with the crowd behind that door, and she doesn't fit the profile of a girl looking to party, either, in the everyday clothes she tends to wear for work. But that grey shirt's hiding a weapon, and she'd rather have that than look a part.
It's too bad for Maggie that there isn't a line of eager young things waiting behind a velvety rope to get into this club; no, it seems that it's a bit more selective than that even when open. So there's no one to blend in with. Instead, Maggie's spotted by one of the door guards, marked for her hurried movements, even before it's determined that she's coming definitively for the club doors. Her determination at least gets her near — she looks like she knows where she's going — but she doesn't look very much like someone on their list. The girls in there? Yeah, not so much with the neat grey shirts and the plain-girl lack of bright make-up.
A thick, tattooed hand comes up, fingers just tracing the handle, but making it impossible for Maggie to grab either without intercepting him first. "You look kinda like ye think yer comin' in here, lady."
"I might be!" Maggie replies, light yet just a bit defiant, as she comes to a halt in front of the club's tattooed gargoyles. She stops short of reaching for the door handle; she sees where that would go just as easily as she sees the bouncer who pre-emotively bars her entry. She has a smile for him, though it could be called more of a smirk. It's only barely friendly, but maintains a sort of easygoing air. It's only half a role, what she's playing at. "Hey," she says in soft-voiced challenge, a hand going to the belt at her hip. "You have a club in there, right? What does it matter if you let me in, is it boys only?"
One choosing to remain silent just eyes Maggie up and down; he isn't leering, exactly, and that's probably more to shame because it's not distracting when they just eye her suspiciously instead. "Yeh, we do," the speaker grunts out of a throat as inked as the rest of him, "An' boss says if yer not in it, then yer not supposed to be in it. An' I dun see you in it."
"I dun see her in it, either." His fellow pipes up helpfully.
"Private party," the first announces after a moment of chewing visibly on his inner cheek and glancing away for inspiration. This is what he's come up with it, and it would appear he's sticking to it. Though the hand falls away from the door to cross in front of him, it isn't unlikely he could have it back there right fast.
Maggie isn't about to try to barge in. Just being denied access to this 'private party' is telling enough about what kind of place it is. "Well how do you get invited? Not everyone is lucky enough to be Irish." She's definitely not; her voice doesn't even have the character to peg her as a local here. She tips her head to one side in a study of the two tough men that does not seem intimidated at all. True. It's her attitude that she has to force, but the detective manages to be pretty laissez-faire. "I know the crowd," she explains as if it's no big deal. "A girl hears things."
Mike and Ike over here enjoy the tune to the Irish sentiment, a bit of a smirk readjusting Mike's stance as he reevaluates Maggie standing there. "We hear things, too," he informs her casually ("Yeah, we hear things," from Ike), "So may' ye belong out here, with us." Once again, it isn't a come-on; he only dismisses her use, challenging the proposition. Though, after a moment, he does offer her a gaped smile when he suggests, "May' ye go in the dancer's entrance."
"I like the dancers…" Ike's artful pauses are happening frequently enough to seem to signify something else. Perhaps the name he would've otherwise called his companion. This seems likely when, Mike spreading his hands, gives her an option: "Ye dun be Irish, but ye know Irish crowd, yeah? Tell me the name, I will go an' get 'im for you. We let you in. No problem." Unstated: Otherwise? Problem.
Maggie's brows raise up a little, showing one of her more sincere sentiments: incredulity, over the dancer's door. The expression remains poised, until she answers the bouncer's demand. "I can't," she freely admits without so much as a fade of the small smirk she has in place. Her hands move up to spread in an easy surrender; it's then that her lips do inch down. "The only one of you I know… well… he's dead. Killed in that fire at the docks," she says. "My friend Joey Casey. Or… maybe he was shot — I'm not honestly sure what happened…" That's a lie, for the most part, but her only tell is the frown she's already wearing. "I was actually trying to find out." The fingers of her raised hands curl in and they swing to her sides; she starts to backpedal. "But… hey. You know what, never mind. I don't want there to be a problem."
It doesn't take long for Mike to start frowning, either, at the statements she's putting together. Although he tilts his head in aggressive indecision and gnaws once again on a lip, he only glances warningly at his companion and responds, "Fire an' shootin' sounds pretty serious, lass," deliberately pronounced, the next comes out like a recital of something he heard: "I do not think I know a Casey." Then he relaxes to nudge his friend, "Hey, ye know a Casey?"
"May' you get it sorted out an' come back sometime when the boss kin see ye." Sniffing territorially, Mike watches as Maggie opts to move away, though now he is caught looking several more times over at Ike, who tosses his head uncomfortably. The man of fewer words confides, when he thinks the woman is far enough away, "I liked it bett'ah when ol' boss let us let the ladies in real friendly like…"
"Shut yer gob," Mike returns lowly, "And dun let 'em hear you say it. Wha' do ye think a man like tha' cares 'bout a woman for? An' if the chief likes him, then 'e's boss. An' anyway, now we…" It only gets quieter from there, but the two men do end up chuckling in agreement over the sentiment.
With her cue to leave handed out — by her own hand — Maggie's backwards meander away doesn't hesitate. She doesn't go without isn't without an appraisal of the men's conversation, though, a fact she doesn't even hide until she turns to step off the curb without another parting comment. Their banter is, whether it happens to be relevant or not, noted. She crosses the street at a more casual pace than her first, with glances down the way. She picks up the pace when it comes time to head down to the car she left behind.
Maggie pauses once there, gripping the handle of the rental's still-locked door. A thoughtful and narrow-eyed stare is sent at the shifty club and its neighbours. Keep getting sloppy, O'Meara.