2007-02-18: New Strategies


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Back at Eliana's place, Jack and Eliana share what little information they were able to dig up about the Mendez painting(s). Not much is learned, other than the fact that Mendez and his most well-known fan, Linderman, are both dead. A new plan is conceived, but not yet put into action.

Date It Happened: February 18th, 2007

New Strategies

New York, Lower East Side - East Centennial Apartments, Apartment 301

The only thing that lights up Eliana's apartment is the dim light from her desk lamp and the glow of her laptop's screen. She sits with her feet, clad only in socks, on the edge of her chair, and her legs folded against her chest. Her face is glued to the computer as she reads, occasionally narrowing her eyes in frustration and clicking furiously until she settles once again into the trance. Maimonides, her grey tabby cat, lies curled up in one corner of the couch sound asleep.

Jack slips quietly through the door, his expression and bearing betraying his frustration. "I hope you had better luck than I did," he grumbles. "I never claimed to be a detective, but an afternoon of pounding pavement should yield /some/ information. Or so Law & Order would have us believe." Gingerly, he slides out of his dark, woolen overcoat and shakes the rumples from his maroon sweater and grey slacks. Since the incident at Common Grounds, his contusions and bruises have swollen and taken on a sickly, purplish-green cast. "I did get the painting stashed in a deposit box. Seemed safer there."

Eliana turns her head when the door opens, but when it's just Jack, she smiles comfortably. "It's because you're not as cute as Jerry Orbach, God rest his soul, and I hope you didn't put /your/ name on it," she half-kids before she looks back to her screen. "I found a little, but it's not much. And I don't think it tells us anything we didn't already know. Those paintings weren't being shipped /to/ Mendez. They were painted by him. And he's dead."

"Dead?" Jack is inquisitive and thoughtful for a long moment. "I guess that makes sense," he continues. "I know that an artist's work is usually worth a lot more after he dies. Was this Mendez a famous guy?" He sinks wearily onto the couch and reaches out absently to stroke the sleeping cat.

Maimonides lifts his head when he's petted, and soon Jack's ministrations are drawing a low purr out of the cat. Eliana peers around her screen and smirks at the sight, but doesn't say anything to it. "Not really. I mean, not until /after/ he kicked it. But that's not uncommon with artists, I guess. It happened to Van Gogh. But the people who like his stuff are kinda…well, rabid. It's a regular cult-following, if you get what I mean."

Jack chews his lower lip thoughtfully. "Interesting.." he muses. "Is there any way you can find out if there are any high-profile members in this 'following?' It might give us a clue as to who they were intended for." Meanwhile, one side of his mouth tugs into a crooked smile as he continues to pet Maimonides.

Eliana is silent for a few minutes, focusing back on her laptop as she types and clicks in bursts. It doesn't take her long, but she shakes her head when she finally comes up with something she can confirm. "Only this Linderman guy, and his 'Group.' But that's in Vegas."

Jack scrubs a hand across his face and through his hair. "Vegas? I don't fancy a trip to the desert, but I plan to figure this out one way or another. Let's hope something else crops up, yes?" It appears that Jack doesn't care much for frustration, as his brow creases and his mouth purses into a faint grimace.
You paged Melatonin with 'Mel?'

"Don't pack your bags yet, Jackie…" Eliana says carefully as she continues to scroll. "Linderman's dead too." Something about this isn't right. Unaware of his mistress' worries, Maimonides rubs his head against Jack's hand, stretching out his forepaws to knead the couch.

"Och. This is most unfortunate. Seems like having one of these things is more dangerous than I thought." Jack strokes his stubbled cheeks thoughtfully with one hand and the cat absently with the other as he speaks, then stretches kinks from his sore, knotted muscles. "More and more I'm wishin' I'd have left it behind."

Eliana leans back in her chair, lacing her fingers and hooking them around her knees. "You could have," she says plainly. "Would have been less trouble, sure. Why would someone blow up a van full of paintings that a small group of people would pay out the wazoo for, unless they didn't /know/ how much they were worth." Eliana shakes her head free of her musings. "What did /you/ find out?"

Jack gives a self-depricating frown. "Almost nothing. Only that this Mendez was from here in the city. I didn't want to ask too many questions looking like this," he gestures to his battered face. "Speaking of which, we should have a look a this," he gestures to his arm, then gently pushes up his sleeve to reveal the thick cotton bandages wrapping it from wrist to elbow. With thumb and forefinger, he slowly begins to unravel the end of the material.

Eliana is on her feet in a few seconds, but she moves to the bathroom rather than toward Jack. She returns in a few moments carrying a small plastic medical kit. It's nothing too fancy, but it has the instruments necessary for basic home first aid. "Are they ready to come out already, or do you just need a new wrap?" she asks, her tone changed from 'interested' to 'concerned.'

Jack winces and hisses as a bit of cloth sticks briefly to the wound. Once the bandage is completely removed he inspects his stitches critically. "They look good. I think a fresh bit 'o wrap and I'll be just fine in a few days. Luckily it wasn't too deep."

With an understanding nod, Eliana sets the medical kit down on the back of the couch and opens it, pulling out antiseptic wipes, gauze, and tapes. As she works at cleaning the wound and redressing it, Maimonides grows impatient with the pause in his pettings and jumps down from the couch to weave his way through Jack and Eliana's legs, purring madly.

With a warm smile, Jack reaches out to nudge Maimonides with a toe affectionately. "I say, I'd love to be a kitty. Nothin' to worry about but the next meal an' the next leg to rub. Sh—-Ow." Wincing apologetically at his near-curse, Jack looks up at Eliana appreciatively. "Thank you so much for everything. You patched me up, took me in an' hid me… I'm not sure what to say." Embarrassed, he gestures with his free hand and summons the flat, silver flask from his inside jacket pocket. Somewhat akwardly, he unscrews the top and offers it to Eliana. "It's good bourbon, you want?"

Eliana glances down at the cat, but then narrows her eyes and purses her lips as she regards the flask. "Sounds good…but only a nip. We don't want things to get wild and crazy." She takes the flash then and tips it up for a quick sip before humming appreciatively. "And don't worry about it. Like I said, you'd do the same for me." But then Eliana pauses. "…right?"

The flask halfway to his lips, Jack pauses and stares at Eliana. "Of course I would," he rumbles, his voice still hoarse from all the smoke at Common Grounds. "You're the first person I've trusted in a very, very long time. I'm not eager to lose that." That said, he tips the flask and takes two long swallows.

Eliana 's smile grows as she watches Jack drink, but not long after his second swallow, she moves around the couch to flop onto it unceremoniously. Maimonides follows and jumps onto her lap, and Eliana dutifully provides the attention the feline craves. "So," she says with a tired sigh. "Now that that thing is locked away, how long do you think you'll need to lay low?" She won't lie - it's been nice to share the apartment with someone other than a cat.

"I have no idea. I've never been on the run before." For the first time since he's entered, Jack appears a trifle frightened. With a groan, he plops down beside Eliana and reaches out to scratch the cat under the chin. "Wot, looking to get rid of me already? I thought I was a pretty well-mannered houseguest." Both Jack's tone and the twinkle in his grey eyes is mischevious.

"Quite the opposite," Eliana chuckles. Maimonides is thrilled at the attention, and soon flops over onto his side so that Jack can scratch under his chin and Eliana can pet his side. "And I think Maimonides would mutiny if I kicked you out anytime soon."

"Well then, we'll just have to give Maimonides what he wants, won't we?" Jack rumbles, amused. He stretches languidly, arching his back and making a fair impression of the cat in Eliana's lap. "I'll admit, it's been nice going to sleep knowing that someone's close by.

Eliana's face grows a little redder, and she nods. "I'll agree with that," she says in response to both of Jack's statements. "Still, I'd like it if you weren't in danger very much longer. It's stressing me out - I can only imagine how it's wearing on you."

Jack lets out a low sigh, his face the picture of concern. "I'm holding up surprising well," he replies. "Mostly, I'm sorry to have brought you into this. I shouldn't have, but I didn't have anyone else to call, and I was afraid to do it alone." Near the end of his statement, his voice trails off in obvious embarrasment.

Eliana reaches out to brush her fingers against Jack's shoulder, shaking her head. "Jack, don't worry about it. It would have been worse if you got a hold of someone who you didn't trust." She offers a comforting and reassuring smile. "And you haven't been in any trouble at all, really." It's only a little lie, but Eliana would be worrying more if Jack weren't where she could keep an eye on him.

Jack reaches up to snag Eliana's fingers and give them a quick, reassuring squeeze. "I'm sure everything'll be fine. For all we know, the people I saw were a bunch of art nuts and we'll both be filthy rich." He grins, savoring the thought. <3 $$$

Eliana leans back with a long, hearty chuckle at that, shaking her head some. "We /could./ Set up an eBay account, sell it, then cancel the account. They wouldn't be able to find us without a court order or something like that, right?" Public computers, new e-mail accounts…it could totally be done, so long as someone isn't desperate enough to hack eBay.

"Hell if I know, lass. Computer have never been my area of expertise. I prefer a more hands-on approach." Jack chuckles and flexes his long fingers demonstratively. "Surprisingly, I think I'd rather have the answers to all my questions. I must be gettin' soft in my old age."
The only sound for a few moments is Maimonides' soft but insistent purr. Eliana finally nods, then shrugs. "You could always scan the painting and crop it down to the girl, then make a smaller print of it. Take it around to various clubs to see if anyone recognizes her? If Mendez was from New York, maybe she was to. If she's real, I mean.”

"Now that's a thought," Jack muses, and strokes his chin. "I mean, we have no idea if that's an actual person or not, but we don't have much else to go on. Good show, m'love." He pats her on the shoulder appreciatively, then reaches forward to scratch at Maimonides with renewed vigor.

Eliana smiles with pride, glad she's done something to continue the search that was more productive than sitting in front of a laptop for hours on end. "Thanks," she half purrs herself, continuing to pet the tabby's side. Maimonides is nearly asleep, but his purr hasn't softened one bit. "Just be careful what Kinkos you take it to."

Jack's shoulders slump. "What's not funny is that you could be right. This thing could be dangerous as all hell, or it could be nothing at all." He pounds his left hand against his thigh in frustration, then winces at the pressure the action puts on his stitches. "I just wish we knew why the hell people were willing to die for the damn thing."

The display wakes Maimonides, who then jumps from the couch and retreats to the bedroom in protest, yowling crossly before he disappears. Eliana doesn't seem as concerned about the cat though, and soon closes the distance on the couch between her and Jack. "Hey," she half-coos, narrowing her eyes. "Getting all worked up isn't going to solve anything, Jack. Trust me."

Jack sighs huffily, then has the good grace to look a trifle embarrassed. "Sorry. That was childish, I know. I just don't like feeling helpless." He shrugs ruefully and trails the tips of his fingers over his bandaged arm. Then he gestures once again, this time to relocate the bottle of Percocet from the medkit in the Den. He quickly unscrews the cap and shakes two pills into his palm.

Eliana narrows her eyes at the pills, then shakes her head. "Jack, come on," she says with a gentle smile. "Why waste those?" She places her hand on his upper arm and tilts her head, amused.

Jack cocks an eye incredulously in Eliana's direction. "Lass, you try bein' in the same room as an exploding van an' tell me you wouldn't like some painkillers afterward. All of this," he gestures to his lacerations, burns, and contusions, "hurts. And this is just what you can see." He pops the pills into his mouth, works his jaw, and swallows. "There. Now it's a non-issue. Why don't we get some sleep, and we'll tackle this painting bit with fresh heads in the morning?"

Subtle hints and men never got along, so it doesn't bother Eliana too incredibly much when Jack doesn't get what she was leading to. She offers an apologetic smile before patting his arm and letting him leave the couch and go to the bedroom and fight with the tomcat for the bed. Tomorrow means work for her, but the sooner her stint in the office is over and done with, the sooner she'll be able to find out what progress Jack made during the day and perhaps help to forge ahead even more.

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