2007-09-27: Matching Philosophies


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Summary: Kory takes Ickle Ronniekins for a walk, and bumps into Randall. They cement their acquaintance.

Date It Happened: September 27, 2007

Matching Philosophies

Somewhere in Central Park

It's a lovely autumn afternoon — sunny with just a hint of crispness in the air. Kory is walking at a leisurely pace, with a positively immense dog trotting sedately at her side. The dog will lope forward now and then at a squirrel, or a blowing leaf, or a wrapper, then return to her. His behaviour is rather like that of a sweet but ebullient puppy. Restrained, though, because although Kory's no longer sporting the sling, she is still moving a bit like she's not completely over the hard knocks she took a short while back. She's gamely concentrating on keeping up with the dog and being prepared for his sudden lurches so as not to yoink her other shoulder out of the socket.

Heading the other way is Randall, sans pet, instead out for a spot of amateur photography. It's a good place for it - no lack of varied material here - a flock of pigeons scatters at his approach, though surely the action shot will only come out as a blur if he insists on using a low-quality camera phone like that one. There's a chunk of transparent plastic duct-taped in front of the lens, as if that's going to help matters any.

OMG PIGEONS! The dog is immediately delighted into barking excitement as he goes to chase the birds. There is surprisingly deep-voiced barking, and Kory's higher voice going, "No! Ickle Ronniekins, don't chase the—OW!" She has reached around a lamppost with her bad arm and one leg to arrest the dog's progress. He reaches the end of his lead, and then looks back at her mournfully.

Hearing that last noise before he sees any of it, Randall snaps the phone closed and looks around quickly, then walks forward to place himself between the Weasley and the flock. "Are you all ri— well, no, of course you aren't. Let me get that for you?" Edging around one side, he reaches as if to take the lead, allowing enough time for a warning. In case, say, Ron makes a habit of taking off at a dead run when confronted by strangers.

Pigeons! Pi— wait, no pigeons. New human. Okay. The immense dog pauses to look from Kory to Randall, then back again. He decides the new human is interesting, and pads over curiously to sniff at him. His attention successfully distracted from chasing pigeons, Kory unwinds herself from the lamppost, wincing, with the good hand still holding the lead. "Thanks. I'm probably not quite at full strength yet for a chase halfway across the pa—" she pauses, looking at Randall curiously. "Familiar face…" she smiles faintly at him, slowly rotating the healing shoulder. "I know you from…where? The Vault, or the Secret Lair?"

After making sure the phone is stowed properly, Randall balls his left hand into a fist and offers it to the mastiff. He doesn't know a whole lot about dogs, but this one simple form of approach has stuck with him since childhood. "The— well, the comic shop, whichever one that is. What's the other one?" The smile is returned in kind. "And you're the one person in New York who wouldn't be spouting obscenities after a wrench like that," he adds, eyeing the point of impact with some concern. It looked worse than this the last time he saw it.

Kory grins. "Well, even if I did, the dog wouldn't understand me any better," she explains. "And the Secret Lair, that's the comic shop. The Vault is where I spin on the weekends." She settles onto the bench, wrapping the lead around the lamppost and hooking it. The dog is smart enough to know he's been naughty. He tucks his tail between his legs, and goes to rest his big head on her knee, giving her the universal dog language for 'I'm sorry. I don't know what I did, but I'm really sorry.' "Fancy meeting you here. New York is not that small a town."

Randall shakes his head. "The foul language isn't for the dog's benefit, it's for the human's." He walks behind the bench and leans a little forward over the back of it, taking in both parties without gawking at either. "And the thing with New York is, it depends on how you measure it. Physical size? Sure. Size of the population, sure… but the connections within that population, those are what get interesting. There's almost an art to it— you're a DJ, too? You've probably seen it, those nights when the crowd starts clicking more than usual?"

"Pft," Kory scoffs. "Profanity is the refuge of those who are unimaginative in their vocabulary." She leans back slightly so she's not twisting to look at him over her shoulder. "Yeah, I have a very …shall we say, holistic approach to making a living? Three jobs, none terribly demanding, some paying well in cash, others in less materialistic rewards. So yeah, I understand about the crowd clicking." She shrugs the good shoulder. "Still. Central Park is no dance floor."

"I know the feeling— I've only been doing one at a time, but they move around a lot." Satisfied that Ronniekins will probably feel agreeable enough about it, Randall makes his way around to the front of the bench now, maintaining a polite but not really distant distance. "As far as the park… no, it's not a dance floor, but it is a sort of magnet. That, and if you count 'close' as whatever you can see, then this whole area here is 'close'." A wave of one arm indicates the stretch of land ending roughly at a tree line in the distance, or perhaps at the busy street just past.

"That's an interesting and holistic way to look at it," Kory muses, scruffling the dog's ears so he knows he's not forever consigned to the pit of no affection. He grins a doggy grin, then gets up to look Randall over a bit more curiously now that Kory wuvs him again. "So what do you do? I prefer not to be always at the disavantage." She smiles to soften any edge that might have been in the phrasing.

Randall purses his lips. "Some temp work at an office, this month… probably gonna run out in a week or two. Before that, I was working a magazine stand bolted onto te side of a hot dog cart… and let's see, before that was driving a cab." He scoots over and peers more closely at the dog. Wanna go chase some cars, boy? "I quit that one after I figured out they needed to add 'bulletproof' to the job requirements."

"This's New York. 'Bulletproof' is a requirement for simply leaving the house," Kory replies, blithely. "And sometimes even before you leave the house."

The dog, for his part, whuffles Randall curiously as he scoots closer. He offers Randall a paw. Kory arches a brow. "Oh, I'm sorry. Where are my manners," Kory playfully deadpans. "Ickle Ronniekins…um…oh, gee. R-something. Renny? No, no, wait. Randy? It was…it was Randall, yes?"

Randall looks impish, even as he shakes hands (after a fashion) with Ronnie. "Uh, Roy, uh, Rutabaga… Yeah, it's Randall. And you're… Coral, something like that. Corey?" Thanks to the 80s, it has a reputation for being a male name, but these days you never know.

"Rutabaga," Kory repeats. "Imaginative." She chuckles faintly, amused. "Yeah, Kory. It's short for Koray." It's a long A. "My mother was in a very international phase when she named me and my brother. The years before I got braces? Not fun. I was 'Koray the Moray.'" She mock-shudders. The dog, satisfied with the shaking of his paw, lies down at Kory's feet, and half-lids his eyes in the way dogs do when they want you to think they're gonna go to sleep, but they're really being vigilant and protective.

That nickname gets a wince out of him. "What did they call you after you got the braces?" Ronnie is left to his own devices for the time being. "Mine could be worse— I knew a guy growing up named Kendall Jackson. No relation to the vineyard, but he kept getting comments about it— and those were on good days. Bad days… well, think 'Barbie' and you're pretty much on track. I just get a Clerks joke every couple weeks."

"The year I got the braces was my brother's first year in secondary school," Kory explains, with a grin. "Anzeti's very protective. So the jokes kind of tapered off. Thank god." She winces at the story of Ken. "Kids can be so cruel. Not just a five word platitude anymore." She shakes her head. "Ah, well. So much for halcyon days of youth. What brings you to the park today? Just enjoying the gorgeous weather?"

"Partly that, but mostly one of my hobbies." Randall fishes the phone out again, taking a quick test shot of Ronnie. And then squinting at it. "Uh, have you changed his food supply lately? I'm not sure, but there might be something—" He hands it over for a look. Funny, apart from the typical red-eye distortion, the snapshot looks pretty normal.

"Oh, you take camera phone pics? For —" she frowns at the photo. "He looks okay to me." She grins down at the dog. "Are the boys feeding you caviar again, Ickle Ronniekins? Hmm? Are they? Or pate? You spoiled thing." The dog yawns, making no more response than that. "What do you see?" She peers at the photo again, then up at Randall's face.

Randall blinks, turning the phone sideways, then setting it down. "Dunno, just… It might be nothing." Yes, he is a strange duck. Not that that's exactly uncommon around here. "'The boys'— does he hang around the shop a lot, or do you know somebody works in a kitchen?"

"Neither. See, this is my other other job," Kory explains. "His humans have jobs that keep them busy in the early part of the day. So they pay me to make sure he gets exercise. They feed him rich food because they're spoiling him and they can afford it. I get paid, he gets exercise, they get peace when they come home tired. Everybody's happy."

"Oh, that makes sense." Leaning down, Randall peers at the dog with newfound interest: so this is what a rich person's pet looks like, huh? "Nice line of work if you've got the right touch for it— not a lot of people do. At least not for long hours with somebody else's pets."

"Dogs are pretty simple, really," Kory assures Randall. "You show 'em a little love, you give 'em a little exercise, you remind them you're the alpha when their human isn't around. They're a lot less work than people are most of the time, lemmetellya." Not that Kory seems to have a tough time there, either. The crowd at the comic shop seems to know her and respect her, if not show her the same loyalty the mastiff does.

Randall scratches his head; he hasn't owned any pets for a while himself, so this is largely relying on outside observation. "Oh, I'm sure you're right, but I've seen people really struggle with them before. Maybe because they're not big on being the alpha, in general?"

"That, and they forget that an animal isn't another person," Kory replies, looking affectionately down at the dog. "They aren't quite at the same level of reasoning as us. But when people get busy or stressed out, they forget that, and expect too much. Frustrates person and furperson both." She wrinkles her nose.

A quick grin: "Maybe you could invite them to the club, then, try to get them to get out the stress before they head home. What sort of club is it? There's a lot of range between the high-class places and, well, it's not one of the ones with table dancing, is it?" Ho boy, is he ever in trouble if it turns out it is one of those.

"That's a good idea," Kory agrees, although there's a wistful note in her voice. "Only people who get that stressed out are the 'when I became a man, I put away childish things' sort of people, who don't think they have time to dance the stress away. So they're the authors of their own torment, in a way, by embracing the idea they have to just exist, and not live. Me, that's why I have three jobs I love. I may not be able to afford a Rolls, but I'm happy. And parking in New York is a nightmare, anyway."

At first, Randall is just casually following along with this stretch of the conversation. Then it starts getting all literary… and then, just as quickly, it sneaks right back toward casual banter. "It is! The subway only seems crazy until you've tried the alternatives." Inching closer: "You're right, though… people get too wrapped up in their work, whether it deserves any of it or not. The tougher it is, the worse it gets. I mean, for you, it does… but I'm just the opposite, my jobs are just to pay the bills and I leave it that way. That, and buying more time to think about things."

"It sounds like you and I have the same philosophy," Kory agrees, as Randall inches a little closer to her. "The subway's pretty simple, really. But I'm with you. Doing what you like when you're not working, and just working to get the bills out of the way so you can live? That's what it's all about. Nice to meet somebody who understands that!"

"Same here," he answers back, the smile from earlier creeping back in. "So where's this club at? I'll have to come check it out some time." Assuming that it is indeed the sort of place that one can safely write home about.

"The Vault — it's downtown. Right at Houston, so it's on the border of two trendy neighborhoods, depending on what direction you're coming from. You dance, then?" Kory's eyes light with the question. "I hope you like eclectic mixes. I tend to spin world beat techno. It's unusual, but hey, a little culture never hurt anyone."

Randall blinks once. "A little. And I like them both, but the combination… I usually think of world beat as more the sort of thing to wind down to. The rave track from Matrix Reloaded? Something along those lines?"

"Oh, I have some of that in my collection, yeah," Kory confirms. "But you can really hook up some eastern stuff nicely with the western techno beats. And a lot like the Rave track, yeah. Not quite enough to make a person want to have sex with Carrie Anne Moss in a cave, but the crowd seems to like it well enough." She permits herself a grin. "The combination isn't quite as weird as you think it is, honest."

"Yeah, well… Moss looks good, but she's definitely a certain type." Come to think of it, he ran into someone a few weeks back with a notable resemblance… "Well, yeah, I'd love to drop in and check it out some time. Just because I can't figure it out here doesn't mean I wouldn't get into it there."

"Here, gimme your phone, I'll pop the address into your address book, and a reminder of when to find me spinning, how's that?" Kory offers him her hand to make it easy, should he be inclined to take her up on the offer. "Sorry — business cards? Don't do 'em. People usually write numbers on 'em and then hand 'em to somebody else, so what's the point of killing a tree for that when my info's not even the info they want?"

One of the advantages of a cheap phone is that you can afford to trust others with it. Well, the loss of any stored photos would be a problem, but at least they don't seem to be anything personal… "All right, it's the button on the upper left. And I mostly see cards getting dumped into fishbowls at restaurants, so you know all of those get dumped right in the trash after they call up the winner, right?"

"Yup," Kory grins up at Randall. "One more reason not to have business cards." She takes a second or two getting familiar with the way his phone works, before finding the application she needs, and keying in the promised information. "There you go." She might not have set the reminder right, but at least the info's there should Randall want it. She hands the phone back. "I'll even spot you a drink, if you like."

Randall glances at the screen (is it sorted by first or last name? now he won't have to figure it out later on) and puts the phone away again. "Tell you what— let me see you out on the dance floor, and I'll spot you one?"

Kory set her entry up by her first name — now he knows her name is spelled K-O-R-Y. Underneath that is the name she spins under: DJ Iah; that way he won't be surprised to hear people referring to her that way when he shows up at the Vault. "Oh, a challenge," she says, delighted. "Okay. You'll have to show up before ten. But it's a deal. Catch a nap in advance. The place doesn't close until 4."

Randall arches a brow. "That is a challenge. Do I get a bonus prize if I make it that long?" he adds, pulling himself back up to his feet and glancing off toward the nearest taxi stop.

Kory takes a moment to consider this. "Sure. The Royal Canadian pancake house closed, but its successor is open at 4:30. I'll buy you a breakfast you'll never forget. Tempted?" She gets up as well, and nudges the great dozing beast with a toe. "Wake up, Ickle Ronniekins. Time to go home and see your daddies."

Turning around, Randall runs his fingers through his hair. "Oh, now you're just buttering me up." Not that he's complaining or anything. "All right, then, graveyard shift it is. See you then!" He waves - twice, including Ron in the gesture - and starts off to catch a ride.

The dog barks cheerfully after Randall. Kory waves to him, and lets the dog yank her toward the path to his home, uptown, Central Park West.

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