2010-02-06: FB: Practice Makes Perfect



Date Set: August 6, 2009


During a new and suitably quirky shopboy gig, Randall reconnects with Portia and suggests reversing the polarity roles of singer and instrumentalist.

Six Months Ago…

"Practice Makes Perfect"

Pawn Shop, NY

Randall is hauling some boxes of random junk in and out of the pawn shop's storeroom, a sight that will become increasingly familiar in the months to come. He's pretty relaxed about it - work a few hours, make a few bucks, and let the old man behind the counter (is he Chinese or Japanese?) worry about stuff like keeping the place solvent. Which he seems to be good at, but if things do go south, then the moptop can just get another job somewhere else. Nothing he hasn't done a dozen times already since coming to New York.

Nope. Nothing to see here. Nothing but… well, actually, no, there's nothing to see here. That's because Portia isn't something to be seen by just anyone at the moment. The invisible girl has no problems just slipping into the store. Really, the girl isn't up to mischief—it isn't as if she plans on stealing anything or causing problems, she's just… curious. And curious girls love the opportunity to explore and listen and take things in while no one knows they're there.

And yet the owner turns and looks right at her. Does he have an ability too? Probably not, as he instead addresses the man who walks in right behind her. "We close in ten minutes— you're welcome to look around." A nod is exchanged, then he motions to Randall. "When you get that done, come in the back, I got something to show you. In case the place ever get robbed." A stern look toward the latest customer, as if to add 'don't let that give you any ideas, buddy'.

Portia nearly jumps out of her skin. People aren't supposed to see her, and even if there was someone behind her, it's almost too close for comfort. Phew. She peers around quietly, noting the old man's words. Hmm… probably an alarm or something. She's idly curious, so she ponders sticking around to listen in on that, but for the time being she putters around the store, staying out of the way of anyone who gets too close. Don't wand to invisi-bump someone.

"All right, I'll be there in a minute." Randall isn't too close, he's up on a step stool to unload the box onto a higher display shelf, but he's close enough to pick up unconsciously on the warmth of another body, maybe a trace of perfume. He scratches his head as he tries to work it out, but then shrugs and makes his way back toward the back room.

The girl is doing her best to keep invisible. She's got no intentions on making it easy for anyone to know she's there. Besides, who would possibly think there's an invisible girl wandering in a /pawn shop/ of all things. Tiptoeing after Randall, Portia stays as quiet as possible, moving as slow as she needs to in case there are any sudden movements. Ah, sneaking is such fun.

About halfway toward the back door leading completely out of the shop, the old man alternately pulls and shoves another box out of the way, revealing the outline of a hatchway. With a nod as his cue, Randall walks over and pulls up the handle, peering down at a metal ladder - and a faint, deep rumbling from somewhere below - before looking up again.

"I think this was a stop on the Underground Railroad, back then," the older man explains. "Muggers come in, you lock the register and we disappear back here, okay? Okay, put that back when you done, I gotta leave now or I have to wait a whole extra hour for the next line. One time I missed that too, had to take a cab the whole way, big waste of money." He's already wandered off to the back exit by this point, muttering more to himself than to his employee.

Whaaat? Portia leans in just slightly to peek at the hatch, only stealing a slight glance after the man as he heads out. Well, that's a useful little nook. Not that it matters much to her, but… history is interesting. Underground Railroad or not, that's a pretty neat little hatch. She does take a few steps out of the way, just so that she doesn't end up being run into.

Randall pushes the box back into place, making a mental note of its location - it's not that heavy for him, which is why he was hired - and moves as if to return to the front of the store. But he doesn't, not right away; instead, he stops to reach over and straighten up a cello case that's about to tip over. And his arm brushes up against a patch of air that definitely feels like human skin. And he freezes.

When something like this happens to you, and you don't have a drug habit, but you do believe in magic, then obviously the first thing that comes to mind is that there's an invisible person in the room. Especially because he knows one. "Wabbit season?" he calls out. If it's some other invisible person who wants to do him ill… well, then he was probably screwed anyway, so at least a non sequitur can't make it any worse.

Ah, drat. Well, there goes her practice run. Had this been a more dangerous situation, she'd be screwed, but Portia was lucky this wasn't such a bad thing. She could use the practice. "Shh. Be vewy, vewy quiet." She intones in her best impression of an Elmer Fudd voice. There's just a moment before the girl phases into view.

Randall knows the value of discretion just as well as she does, and has gotten to know the layout of the shop pretty well by now, so he takes a step to one side to block the view of anyone out front who might be looking their way for some reason. When she appears, it's mere inches away from him, and he has to make an effort not to jump backward in surprise. "…uh, hi," he whispers back.

"Hi," Portia whispers, taking a quick glance around again. "Sorry about startling you like that. I'm just practicing. Just in case, you know?" She lets out a deep breath. "Sorry again, I thought I was doing quite well for a minute or two there.."

Randall relaxes a little, taking a step back. "No, you were, I only picked up on it because I— well, you know." In case what? In case she needs to be invisible? That suggests a few different scenarios, none of which sound entirely positive. "Anyway, let me walk you out, okay? Almost ready to close up for the night, anyway."

Portia nods a little. "Yeah, I know. I guess I was doing decently, then." She clears her throat a little. "Thanks. Yeah, I heard it was almost closing time. Neat little escape plan there, by the way…" She looks around sheepishly. "I should probably go practice something more practical, though. Like my singing. I'd be more likely to need that anyways."

Randall glances back toward the secret exit. "Yeah, it is— hopefully I won't ever need it. Hey, I was meaning to ask— I came across some sheet music the other day that has a vocal part, did you want to try it out some time?" There's a stack of papers near the cello case, in fact, at least half a dozen different titles. It's all store property, but keeping it in use from time to time shouldn't be damaging it or anything.

"Really?" That's an idea that gets the girl's head turning a bit. "I'd love to do something like that." Portia nods. "Absolutely. We should totally try it out, then." She offers a bright smile.

Randall smiles back. "Okay, maybe this weekend? I'm probably not at your level but I'll try to keep up. Did I give you my number?" he asks as they wander out to the front together. She has his e-mail address, at least, that hasn't changed.

There's a nod from the girl. "This weekend would be great! Don't even worry about the level or anything. I'm not the best in the world or anything, and we'll feel it out." Portia smiles. "Uhm, I don't think I have it, no.." She reaches into her pocket, pulling out her cellphone to put the number in. Which reminds her, of course, that she needs to make sure her phone is off when she's sneaking around invisibly.

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