2008-03-16: Protection Racket


Jamie_icon.gif Kitty_icon.gif Lee_icon.gif Mikhail_icon.gif

Summary: An organization that likes to pick on people of weaker means seeks to make an example. A few people get in the way.

Date It Happened: March 16, 2008

Protection Racket

Bicycle Shop - Queens

The bike shop isn't a corporate store, but it has it's own charm. Bikes hang off of walls, it are stood up on the sides. Some have tires, others will need to have tires attached. Everything from bikes for tours of france to children's bikes, all stacked up in aisles. The owner is a middle aged woman, dark hair that's pulled back into a ponytail, and she looks as if she keeps herself in shape. While there are few customers, three young men stand off to the side, glancing up at bikes hanging up on the wall. Dark hair all of them, one sports a tattoo on his neck, a playing card. A Five of Spades.

Lee concludes his hassling of the owner, "And so this kid really has the choice between transferring to another school, one that he can ride the train to, or a new bike. Now it doesn't have to be a great one, you know, it doesn't have to have all the bells and whistles. Just something a twelve-year-old can ride, a decent lock for it, all the reflectors and things so he doesn't get run over."

The woman seems unsure, says "Well…" and Lee says: "Don't say no yet. It's also a tax credit since it goes to a school, it's even better than tax deductible. I've got a receipt right here. Pre-signed and everything. He really needs it."

Wheels. Lots of wheels. And chains. And nifty bike frames. Mikhail stands there in front of one of the bikes along the wall, transfixed upon the features it sports. Unblinking, his eyes follow the lines and shapes, a repetition of patterns and styles. Of course, this is just a thought. He is getting ideas for another project from this, which makes it even more complicated since he already has a list of things he wants to do.

Explorations taking Jamie across the Queensboro Bridge for the first time, she soon wanders upon the bike store. Instantly interested, the girl makes her way inside, looking around with wide eyes once she's through the door. After an initial look around, she makes her way over to the children's bikes.

The door to the shop is open and in walks a young woman wearing a dark tank top and dark jeans along with a messenger bag on her shoulder. Sunglasses cover her eyes and she hasn't taken them off yet. Her long dark hair is curly right now and falls to her shoulders. She needs to find a bike for her new found little sister, just a gift she thought Fox would like. Kitty runs a hand through her hair and she looks down at her hands, black fingerless gloves, she hasn't worn a pair of those in awhile.

"It really is a good cause, I'm sure," the woman responds quietly, looking anxious. There's a glance around at the other customers, as if she might be concerned they're listening in, trying to pressure her into taking this deal. "It's…" Her eyes fall on one of the far walls. Maybe the tax deductable did it? She reaches out to take the receipt, looking down at it, and then says, "All right. I have a few bikes that might fit. Right this way," she says, beginning to motion him in the direction of the children's section, where a majority of the customers happen to be. "Can help you two with anything?" she asks as she glances over the bikes, possibly trying to pick the cheapest or most overstocked on.

"You can afford to give a charity case a bike but you missed your monthly payment?" a man's voice calls out. One of the three men has turned away, speaking loud enough to carry over the store. The men had walked in while Lee "harassed" the poor woman.

Lee looks back at the guys. "Ya know, it's pretty hard to give repo men a bad name…" he sneers. "You're going to have to try harder than that. Or have the good sense to commit your felonies when there's not a half dozen witnesses hanging around." Nobody ever said Lee had a good sense of self-preservation. He shakes his head. "Can you believe those guys?" he says to the woman, as if commisserating on the low quality of criminals these days. "Anyway…what would you suggest?"

Well, that was enough to get his attention. The imaginary bike parts suddenly crashed and fell to pieces from the man's vocalization, eyelids fluttering as he refocuses back into the present. The artist can't help but look over a shoulder, the hood of his jacket obscuring the lower half of the scene in progress. The other people moving within the vicinity also distracts Mikhail's train of thought for a moment or two. An eyebrow quirks under bleached bangs at the man as he absent-mindedly tugs on his jacket sleeve. "Really…?"

Jamie looks up to the shopkeep as she comes over, and smiles, "Thanks! But I'm just lookin'. Only got two dollars." The ten-year-old's attention is quickly drawn to the new voice calling out, though, looking over curiously.

"I'm fine for now." She calls to the woman and smiles softly at Lee. Jamie is given a glance and when the men walk in and speak. Kitty rolls her eyes. "Douche." She says, and not quietly either. She slides her gaze that is covered with glasses over the men and tilts her head as she places a hand in her pocket.

"She won't press charges though. Will you?" the man with the tattoo on the back of his neck says, moving further into the children's section. The woman looks towards the "half dozen witnesses" and doesn't shake her head, or nod, or tell the men to leave.

"I think that this bike would probably be best," she says instead, taking her attention to one of the bikes of choice. It's the right size, looks fairly good, but has a cheaper price tag than many of the others. It's considerably less expensive. The tires, once added, will probably increase the cost, as will reflectors and other things.

The group continues to move closer, "Hey, we've waited long enough. You got the money or not? You don't want anything to happen here, right?" he calls out, while one of the men runs into Kitty's shoulder. A little obvious that he could have missed running into her, the shove might even knock her back a step or two.

Lee says, "Hey, Kitty, I…you dinks do know it's the cops that press charges, right, not people? It's only on cheap television shows that…just never mind." He ostentatiously examines the bike. "Looks good. It'll need wheels and stuff, right?" To Jamie, "You'd ride this one, wouldn't you?" Confirming that an actual kid would think it was acceptable.

Mikhail frowns. Not only were these men rude and impatient, they had no real level of respect either. Maybe they did, but it seems like it was reserved for people like themselves. The run-in with Kitty gets to him along with the air of familiarity the girl has to her. Of course, he can't really pinpoint it right now. It must be the sunglasses.

The artist clad in black blinks. Kitty. The name is familiar. Give him some time, he'll get to connecting names and faces soon. As of now, Mikhail just gives the men a cool look as Lee speaks.

Jamie watches the guys coming over curiously, but not a trace of nervousness on her face over the issue. She blinks as the one bumps into Kitty, but then she's distracted looking up to Lee again. She looks to the bike a moment thoughtfully and then nods, "Yep! I'd ride it."

The push from the rude man, makes Kitty gasps. The emotions triggers her ability and her head knocks back as the vision flashes before her eyes.

A man. Standing in the broken streets of a city, holding a case close to his chest as if he's trying to keep it from someone. There's yelling, gunshots, and concrete is cracking as he stomps his feet, breaking off in large chunks and rising up.

Kitty blinks and tightens her hands into fists, her eyes are watering as she looks back around the shop, her gaze on the men. "Bastards."

"You don't know what's going on here, shithead. Stay out of it," one of the three men says. The third. The one that doesn't have a tattoo, the one who didn't slam into Kitty. Instead he reaches out toward one of the bikes on the shelves, touching it for a moment. Not the one that they're looking at for the children, but close.

"I don't want any trouble, please," the woman says, looking anxiously around at all of the customers, particularly Jamie. She shifts as if she might get in front of her.

Suddenly the man touching the shelves hands move, he knocks over one of the bikes and sends a bunch of others tumbling to the floor. Including the one that they're looking at to donate. "Oops," he says, but with one of those smiles that shows he fully meant to do it. The one who slammed into Kitty even laughs, moving to lean against the shelf, heavily. The one with the tattoo lifts his shoulders, as if shrugging.

Lee is thoroughly offended, when he's called a shithead for no reason other than he's trying to help someone with their shortcomings. Some people! "I don't know what's going on here? Look, I watch the same third-rate gangster movies that you do. You know, protection rackets only work when…ugh, never mind, seriously, just forget it." he says, taking out his cellphone. He instinctively touches Jamie's shoulder as if to pull her back from the area, backpedalling himself. 911 is, fortunately, a short number to call. Leee's getting to the point where he doesn't even have to look at the keypad to do it.

Jamie jumps back from the falling bikes, eyes widening a bit. Then, though, she frowns and looks up to the men, "Hey! Shouldn't mess up the place like that. 'Specially front of all of us, any of us could tell who you are."

The idea: Spin out of the way of the falling bikes. With flair.
The reality: Not as good.

The artist's reaction time and alertness cost him cool points, making his attempt at dodging the last few bikes look lamer than planned. "Hey!" Mikhail's voice actually gets a little loud right there, giving the men another long look. He quiets down again, glancing over at Kitty for a few seconds before returning to them. "Look - I have to agree with this guy," he says, indicating Lee. "You guys aren't making the situation any better with the way you're handling things. Just…cool it, yeah?"

"Childish." Kitty says softly and shakes her head, she pushes her glasses up from her face and they now perch atop of her head. She gazes at the men closely and her eyes widen slightly when she sees the man with the tattoo has a gun as he shrugs, her hand tightens around her messenger bag strap. Good thing she brought Suzie Q with her. Kitty tries to get Lee's attention without making it obvious, she just keeps giving Lee a look as if trying to say, 'Gun! Get the little girl out of here!'

"No, please, don't— " the woman starts, stumbling after Lee and reaching toward his phone. There's a lot that could go wrong in the next few moments. And maybe they will.

"Nice move, Asian," the man who rammed into Kitty's shoulder says with a smile, but the 'leader' is too preoccupied with Lee and the storeowner and little girl.

"Heeeeey, who said you could call the cops?" Despite the situation of having witnesses, they don't seem too worried. The tattooed man says, making it very clear that, yes, he has a gun. Kitty's warning looks don't need much time to get translated before he's shifting his jacket and pulling it out. Rather than anyone else, he points it right at the store owner, who freezes. "Bitch owes money. Make an example," he nods toward the shelves, and the other two men straighten, moving as if they might start knocking down more shelves, more boxes.'

Lee pulls Jamie back more emphatically now, moving behind one of the more distant shelves, less in the way of the various ones that might be tipped over. "Who says I'm calling the police? I'm calling the guy you answer to. He's going to be awfully pissed off." Is he really bluffing this out? It's like he's daring them to believe him.

"Shut up," Mikhail snaps lowly. He looks mildly annoyed. How does he get himself into these situations? The life of an art student shouldn't be this exciting. The other people inside the building shouldn't be facing this, either. But shoot - the man has a gun. This is bad. Biting down on his lip, his gaze darts between each of the three men. No, it's too many targets to control at once. Mikhail can only focus on one person. So why not target the most dangerous?

The look hardens upon the tattooed man, brow furrowing. "In the meantime: hands up." With the command, he is aiming to take the man's arms and raise them up. Depending on the man's stubbornness, anyway.

Jamie, brave as she was until now, looks near panic on seeing the gun, frozen in place a moment. Lee, though, has no trouble pulling her back, she goes willingly, if stumbling slightly.'

As all of this unfolds, Kitty looks on with an impassive gaze, it's when the man draws his gun that Kitty's soon follows and is pointed directly at the man holding the gun. "You.. don't want to do that." Kitty says and tilts her head, it's like she's a different person. Her eyes dark orbs of no emotion. Her gaze flicks over Lee and Jamie, Miki is given a quiet nod and she then refocuses back on the man. "I'm a pretty good shot."

There's a small struggle as the man keeps his arms pointed at the woman. The gun levels— and then starts to rise up. Tattoo manages to hold onto the gun. He blinks wildly, as if he doesn't understand what he's doing, why he's listening, and then his eyes flit over to… a turning of the tides.

"Holy shit she's got a gun," one of the men yells, suddenly backing away and ramming into a shelf. More bikes go tumbling.

"Whoa, hey, that— you're not supposed to— !" Did they really expect everyone who walked into a bicycle shop to be fairly mundane? Apparently they did.

And with the tides turned, two of them start to tumble quickly toward the door, staying down, ducking behind shelves. Crazy woman with a gun!

Unfortunately for the leader, the one with a gun, his hands are stuck sticking straight up. He can't seem to pull them back down.

Lee snorks at the sight, raising the cellphone to take a quick picture. Probably the leader's the only one who comes out properly - the others are scrambling too much. "Ha ha, you look like a jerk." Lee scoffs, before returning to the 911 operator, who he speaks with more quietly. He keeps Jamie undercover with the confident air of an adult who, perhaps somewhat exasperatedly, knows what he is doing.

Jamie's eyes are wide as she watches all this, though she giggles a little at the scrambling to escape Kitty. Still, she stays back for now… as much because of Lee keeping her in place as her own fear of guns.

Although Mikhail is still trying to concentrate on the tattooed man (and succeeding fairly well), he does see the expression change on Kitty's face. He nods back, the uneasiness veiled by the look of cool indifference. "…I hope you aren't actually planning to use that," he says to her while Lee does his thing with the calling and Jamie is watching all of this.

"If I needed too." Kitty says softly and she continues to study the man, that Miki is holding hostage, though she doesn't know it's him that is doing that. She looks at Miki and then at the man. Her look still one of no emotion. The young woman walks closer to the tattoo guy, her head turns a moment to watch the other two scramble away. "Your friends left you."

There's no comprehension on his face. The man doesn't seem to understand why he can't move. He's trying. His feet shuffle in the direction of the door, but his picture is clearly taken, and his hands shake until the gun drops and falls to the floor. It doesn't go off. The safety hadn't even been turned off. The threat of using it had been all he was going for. "Screw them. Cowards," he snaps, spitting in the woman with the gun's direction. The doors are opened. The other two really did just run for it. Their retreating backs catch the sun, reflecting goldish coloring off of their coats.
Lee says into his phone, from behind the cover of the back shelf. "Yeah, pretty much there was someone else here with a gun, so the guy didn't have a chance…" He leans over Jamie. "You doing okay? Don't be scared, everything's going to be all right, the police will be here soon." he says reassuringly.

Another pause. "…Right." The chill from the emotionless gaze does get to him, but Lee's talking helps ease that tension to some degree. Mustn't forget there's still a child present, and with the kid safe things are a bit easier to handle. Let the other two run. Surely the cops can get them later. Maybe.

With the leader still here, they had more of an advantage. The gun falling onto the ground gives Mikhail a signal that he can drop the guy's hands now. "I'd stay put if I were you, man," Miki adds, planting his own feet firmly in place as his gaze falls back onto him. A question is tossed toward Lee. "How long will it take for the police to show up, anyway?"

Jamie looks away from the guns to look up to Lee at his words, and nods quickly, "I'm ok. I don't get scared easy," she adds, though she obviously did when the guns were pulled this time. "Just don't like guns."

"I'll be gone before the cops come." Kitty says with a blank stare at Lee and the other two. She looks at the woman and Jamie, her hand on the gun tightens, at least until she knows she can leave. "Don't look at them, it'll be over soon, little one." Kitty says and stares at intently at Jamie, the tattoo man is given a hard look. Fury, the first emotion filling her eyes. "/You/ could have hurt this girl."

"I wasn't going to hurt anyone!" he yells, still stuck where he is. The man twitches his legs in the direction of the door, but he doesn't get further than a fraction of an inch. He moves his hands around, touching his clothes. Maybe he's looking for another weapon? But it might seem more like he's wondering why he can move them now, and couldn't before. He doesn't reach for anything. The 911 dispatch is on their way. A few minutes, tops. The two men are on foot, running for it on foot. "We were just going to trash the place, you're the one who had to go and call the cops," he continues to yell.

"Thank you," another voice sounds, looking at the man on the phone, the woman, the teenager, the young girl. She doesn't know what's happened, though the gun has her wary as she avoids looking at it for too long. There's anxiety there still, worry. "Even if he gets arrested, they're still going to come back…"
Lee says, "Very creditable." to Jamie, teaching her a new word from his encouraging tone. "Uh…okay." he tells Kitty. "Look, you shouldn't carry that thing without a permit, it's a serious deal in New York City. Not that I'm not grateful, but…" He nods to the woman. "I bet they'll assign a detective to it if you tell them all about it." he says, equally encouraging.

Mikhail winces at the yelling, squinting. "You don't have to be so loud," he comments plainly, placing a hand over an ear. "Seriously. Stop." Although he places his own arms behind him in a relaxed pose, it doesn't really work on the tattooed person. Another look is given toward Kitty as he nods silently, uncertain of what else to say to her. She has her own agenda, and it's best to leave it at that. To the shop keeper, he gives a faint smile. "A report. That's all that's needed. He shouldn't be trashing the place."

Jamie mouths the word Lee uses, looking curious but nodding with a smile. Then she nods to Kitty more seriously before looking up at the shop owner. Braver now, though still staying away from the guns. "Who do ya owe money to? And what for?"

The others have already given the right kind of advice, she steps up to close the man and looks at him deep in the eyes. "Don't go anywhere." She warns and then begins to back away. Her work is done. She'll have to find a bike for Fox another day.

There's a small nod from the owner, but she still looks worried. "It's not him I'm worried about," she murmurs, but doesn't say much more than that, watching as the woman with the gun backs away. It doesn't lower, and the man who used to have a weapon doesn't move very much. Fidgeting still, his weight shifts, his feet slide until he's moved a couple of inches. "His boss," she finally says, looking down at the little girl. "They said that they'd leave me alone— leave my family alone. If I just…"

"No detective will bother with you," he spits. "They'll make you fill out some paper work and then you're on your own." Defiant even now. He glances over at Kitty, though. That keeps him from running.

Lee says, "Well, then tell them about his boss, too. It's not like money is going to keep your family safe. Clearly you can't trust these bozos." He urges cooperation with the authorities, while staying with them on the phone. "If you're going to run, go ahead, it's not like you'll get that far with the cops, you know, having your picture."

The problem does run deeper than he thought it did. The artist sighs softly, a brief look of concern appearing and vanishing as each person gave their own input about the resolve. Lee is right - he does have an image on his phone, so that would help a lot. And with Kitty's overall 'presence,' it gives Mikhail a break from doing anything else. Instead, he nods and stays quiet again.

Jamie looks up to the criminal and then to Lee a moment, before she bites her lip and looks back to the woman. "Maybe not. Who's his boss? Depends who it is, be a real bad idea to tell on some people."

It doesn't seem that Kitty cares about who the boss is, at least not at the moment. She has to go. "Bye." She says softly and looks at the man with the tattoos again. "Nothing funny, now. Or I'll be back." She warns and smirks in the other's direction before backing away out of the door. Her gun is placed back in her messenger bag and off she goes. A moment or two later, a old school mustang can be heard and seen driving away.

Once she's out the door, the sirens can be heard. Kitty will have enough time to start driving off. There's a moment where the thug looks ready to run for it, to go for a back door, to take his chances, but he stays put, glaring at the owner. She winces visibly and says, "I don't know who the boss is. All I know is he… he has a lot of people working for him. Money, men… Every privately owned shop that they approached… if they didn't pay they had… problems."

The thug just smiles, keeping his hands visible as the police finally begin to move in. Arrested, statements taken, especially interested in who had the gun besides the thug, though the the thug chooses the right to remain silent until he's taken off to the car in handcuffs.

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