2007-02-23: Shadows And Vagabonds


Bryant_icon.gif Hector_icon.gif Tamara_icon.gif

Summary: Tamara, Hector, and Bryant cross paths on a shoddy street corner in the Lower East Side. Tamara and Bryant interact with "shadows" in their own way. Hector is altogether less profound and sticks to eating Tamara's leftovers.

Date It Happened: February 23rd, 2007

Shadows and Vagabonds

Lower East Side

Having taken up a position on one of the more poorly maintained corners of the Lower East Side, Hector blends in better here than he does most places. Currently leaned up against a light pole at a crosswalk, all long angles and shades of grey, he isn't doing much. Smoking and people watching and looking altogether like the sort of person you would not want lingering around in front of your apartment complex.

At least he's on a corner. Tamara is slightly less of an eyesore - quiet teenagers aren't so objectionable, in general - but she's claimed a perch /on/ the stairs of one of those aforementioned apartment complexes. The girl isn't quite sitting, nor exactly sprawled out, but in an angled position that looks much less comfortable than it actually is. (Although it probably doesn't rate /comfortable/, exactly.) With one elbow propped on the ridge running alongside the stairs, her head braced against her hand, she seems entirely focused on the space immediately nearby. A sandwich of some sort sits on the stair below her, insulated from the concrete by its flattened wrapper; half of it remains untouched, and the rest… has been more picked apart than eaten (although she /did/ eat some). Presently, Tamara's occupying herself by tearing off small pieces of lettuce and dropping them, watching the green bits flutter to earth.

"You should eat your vegetables, you know." Hector's voice drifts low and rough from his corner, hardly parental, but painfully British despite the muffle brought on by the cigarette he's speaking around. "They're good for you." It's several seconds before his eyes track back to her from the stop and start of traffic behind him, and he smiles, however slightly, both hands tucked deep into the pockets of his patchy black overcoat.

Tamara shows no surprise as Hector speaks up; she doesn't even cast a glance his way. She just sets the ragged-edged piece of lettuce down. "Did. Didn't. …Don't need it." Picking the olive and pickle slices off, the teen starts laying them out on the wrapper with careful deliberation - but the pattern, if pattern there actually is, is meaningless to anyone else. She ducks her head a bit, offers no further explanation.

"I suppose you would know." Scruffy chin tilted down to better follow the progress of her artistic rearrangement of olive and pickle, Hector expels smoke through his sinuses, and then a shorter sigh through his teeth. "You are popular, to still be here."

"Yes," Tamara agrees easily, tone slightly distracted. She /does/ know. Pickles and olives done with, the girl rubs at her eyes with the back of her free hand, draws in a deep breath and lets it out in a sigh of her own. When Hector speaks again, she finally looks up, weary eyes mostly focusing on him. "Popular?" she echoes, not following his meaning.

Hector lifts a bare hand to tug at his cigarette so that he might tap ash off the end and to the concrete at his feet, though the wind picks up in time to keep it from ever landing. "The posters," is his simple reply, followed by a cough and the replacement of his smoke at the corner of his mouth. "Some of us are capable of reading, contrary to popular opinion."

From the way Tamara tilts her head and blinks at Hector, it's pretty clear she doesn't understand what he's getting at. "Posters…" She looks about the street to be sure. "They weren't here yet, if here at all." Nope. No posters on this corner. "The mirror doesn't see. And I'm not looking," Tamara concludes, in a rambling sort of way. But she does straighten up, sitting more normally on the stairs.

"Elsewhere. Around the city. I'm hardly glued to this pole." Made somewhat indignant by that suggestion for whatever reason, Hector straightens away from it as if to prove his point. No further movement towards her is made, however. He rolls stiff shoulders back until the space between then pops, and watches, and smokes. There is a beat or two of quiet before he speaks again. "What mirror?"

Tamara frowns at Hector, bewildered. "But…" Only she doesn't say anything else, just lapses into silence. She presses her hands over her eyes for a moment, then runs her fingers up into her hair. "Hnn. Drifting. Tired," the girl remarks, as if that explains or excuses everything. She twists about to lean against the rail, drawing her feet up close and wrapping her arms about her knees. What mirror? Tamara shrugs one shoulder, offering a rueful, apologetic sort of half-smile. "Wasn't an explanation. It just is. Clouded. Broken."

From the bland sort of acceptance this series of statements earns from Hector, it is fairly likely that he has conversed with a fair number of variably insane people in his time. "Are you going to eat the rest of that?" is the question he eventually opts to ask, cigarette-hand tipping idly after her disemboweled sandwich.

Tamara blinks at Hector, then looks down at the sandwich as if she'd forgotten its presence. Reminded, Tamara leans forward and picks up the still-intact half, holding it out in wordless offer for Hector to take it. From the other half, the teen picks up a pickle slice and chews on it idly, her gaze flicking to the street.

"Thank you." Polite, as ever, Hector finally approaches, as is necessary to claim the remaining sandwich. Rather than venture off with it, however, he lowers himself stiffly down to take up a seat on the same set of stairs, if one or two below the one that she has claimed as her own. "How long do you intend to remain here?"

Bryant ambles down the street, glancing around him with vague interest as he surveys his surroundings. He seems to be out for a stroll, with no actual pre-determined destination. Some little ways ahead of him, a man finishes buying a hot dog from a vendor on the corner. As the man tries to juggle hot dog, soda, and change, a green piece of paper slips free, caught by the wind and carried aloft without the man realizing. Bryant blinks as said paper loops and whirls before coming to rest at his feet. Bending down, he picks up the $5 bill. "Huh," he says without too much surprise, glancing ahead to where the bill's owner is walking away. "Looks like lunch is covered…" And he aims for the hot dog cart.

Her gaze settles on Bryant, watching the possibilities shift in reaction to his presence with a sort of mild curiosity. And a bit of relief, because his presence means she doesn't have quite as much chaos to cope with. But the distraction makes Tamara a little slow in responding to Hector's question - though not /quite/ slow enough to merit additional prompting. "Until the shadows leave. Unless you'll want the space." Her gaze flicks back to Hector, inquiring.

Hector, who has plenty to occupy himself what with smoking and eating the leftovers of Tamara's lunch at the same time, does not seem to notice the time it takes her to answer. When she does, he takes /his/ time to finish chewing the bite currently in his mouth, only to take a long drag off his cigarette once he's swallowed. "Plenty of dark alleys to sleep in without stealing your stairwell." One brow lifted back to her, he turns his head belatedly to follow the source of her earlier interest in Bryant.

Bryant puts that serendipitous five bucks to good use, as he gets himself a good old-fashioned New York hot dog with everything on it, and a soda to wash it down with, pocketing what's left of the change afterwards. He steps away from the cart, and moves over out of the main path of sidewalk traffic to take a bite. Seemingly oblivious to the world around him at the moment, he barely notices as a bicycle messenger goes whizzing on through the space he just vacated.

"Some alleys were better than others," the girl remarks distractedly. The bicyclist doesn't escape her notice - but she gives no warning, because warning isn't necessary. The remainder of her sandwich (again) forgotten, Tamara folds her hands over her knees, tilting her head to one side and studying Bryant. Out of all the random people on the street - she's decided to watch him, apparently.

"True enough." Likewise distracted, Hector tugs his smoke away to take one last bite, then curls long fingers to crush the remaining wrapper and bit of crust into a tight ball in his fist. "Fortunate," is all that he has to say for Bryant, and even then only in a distracted aside. Rather than bother with getting up to tip the wrapper into a nearby trash can, he tucks it into a coat pocket.

Bryant may be mostly oblivious to the world around him, as he munches on his hot dog, but even he's possessed of enough awareness to pick up on the unsolicited attentions of a stranger. He swallows, washes it down with a swig of soda, and then blinks at Tamara, brow furrowed as if trying to place her in his memory, to no avail. So then he glances down, performing that surreptitious fly check. Yup, it's zipped. Mustard/relish/ketchup on shirt? Nope. Something on lips? Nope. Huh. With each potential reason for her interest scratched off his mental list, he finally has to concede defeat with a shrug.

"Yes. And no," Tamara says, Hector's remark distracting her from her study Bryant. She shares with Hector a thoughtful look. "He changed the shadows," the girl muses aloud. "But I don't think he sees." After a moment more of thought, Tamara shrugs. "Does make it easier. A bit." Turning back to Bryant, the girl offers a smile, aware that he's noticed her scrutiny.

At Tamara's analysis, Hector looks obligingly back to Bryant to perform a quick study of his own. It is similar to Tamara's in its lack of subtlety, but lacking a smile to soften the search of it. If anything, he looks somewhat dubious of the younger man's significance, with grey-touched brows tilted up towards each other and mouth set into a flat line after the poke of his fast disappearing cigarette. "If you say so."

Bryant offers a bewildered smile back at the teenager and her companion, clearly still not convinced that something's not out of place. Realizing he's still got a bite of hot dog left, he pops it into his mouth, and finishes it off. He shrugs at the others, as if to say he has no idea what's so interesting.

"He does." Looking back to Hector, Tamara offers a brief smile. "I know. You don't see it, either. That's okay." For whatever reason, she now seems remarkably more 'with it' now than she was when Hector started their conversation. The teen tips her head to one side, blinking once at Hector, then draws in her lower lip. "I'd stay away from the chicken," she points out. Although the sandwich she had was ham, so who knows what she's referring to now. Then Tamara gets up and hops down to the bottom of the stairs, brushing a bit of dust off her jeans once she's there.

Bryant's smile earns a skeptical level of Hector's brows (What are you smiling at?) and a hand lifted to dust at any crumbs that might be lingering in his short-shorn beard, though there prove to be none. "I see well enough," is his eventual reply to Tamara, accompanied by a short glance after her when she stands. He does not move to follow. "Yes. The chicken. I shall make a mental note."

Bryant hmms after a moment, whether neither explanations nor enlightenment seem forthcoming. Finally, he takes a few steps over towards Tamara. "Okay," he says, "I need to know. What's with the hairy eyeball? Is my shoelace untied? Am I wearing the wrong colors in a gang neighborhood? Do I remind you of that guy you once knew? You didn't see me on America's Most Wanted or something, did you, because that wasn't me."

Tamara blinks at Hector. "Never said you didn't." At least… she's pretty sure she didn't. She gives Hector a skeptical look, then turns and takes a couple of steps. And then there's Bryant. His questions draw a grin from the teen, and she shakes her head. "No. You're fine here. But you change the shadows. They're quieter. Just for a little, but the little's enough." On that cryptic note, she offers a cheerful smile, then steps around him as if to depart.

Wise enough not to argue, Hector merely Looks at Tamara at her correction, long legs bent and bare hands planted over icy concrete so that he can scoot up a stair or two now that he doesn't have to concern himself about invading her space accidentally. Bryant's series of questions is the subject of a conspicuous silence from his direction, though he's gone back to watching both of them.

Bryant blinks at Tamara's answers. "I change the shadows." Pause. "Riiiight. Yeah. I guess that makes sense." He looks left, looks right, tries to spot the hidden cameras. "Not gonna ask," he finally declares.

Tamara smiles at Bryant. "Good. Explanations got worse more than better." Whatever hidden cameras there may be, she doesn't comment on them - she just tucks her hands in her pockets and starts down the street. Leaving behind the divided remnants of her half of the sandwich.

Hector chuckles, at them or with them, it's difficult to tell. Either way, the sound is somewhat less than pleasant, and he leans to stub out the stump of his cigarette amidst the aforementioned sandwich remains.

Bryant scratches the back of his neck, and watches Tamara start to head off. "Gotta love New York," he declares after a moment. He glances to Hector, and shrugs, as if to say 'what else is there to say?'

"Hardly as if it makes a difference if you don't." Voice rough despite his amusement, Hector flicks his cigarette butt neatly away and offers Bryant a lazy smile.

Bryant shrugs in reply. "I reckon that's true," he agrees. "New York's the sort of city that doesn't care if you love it or not. That's okay, I can deal with that sort of relationship."

"I should hope so, unless you intend to make a living off of the kindness of the wind." Comfortable where he is upon an icy stoop that is not his despite the attitude of belonging that he's managed to establish for himself, Hector stretches one long leg out, then the other.

Bryant shrugs philosophically. "Wind's been good to me in the past," he says. "Not that I expect a fall breeze to send gold-plated leaves into my pockets or anything. Though there's a first time for everything."

"Kinder to you than to most, then." Skeptical once more, Hector seems somewhat at a loss as to what to do with his hands now that he's finished smoking. Eventually one finds its way into the pocket it started in while the other flicks at an olive left behind by Tamara.

Bryant shrugs again, as if he's never really put a lot of thought into it. "I figure it all evens out somewhere down the road. Maybe I just have one of those lovable demeanors, y'know?"

"Perhaps it is so. Alternatively," says Hector, who sits up a little to give Bryant a look that is quickly hedging back towards the more unfriendly side of things, "perhaps you are young, and therefore an idiot."

Bryant quirks an eyebrow at Hector. "Riiiiight. I don't have to stand here and take that," he points out. "If I want that sort of abuse, I can go to any French restaurant of my choice, and get insulted -and- eat well."

Brows lifted, Hector glances to Bryant's feet, and then back up to his face, matter-of-fact. "I don't see any chains binding you here to listen to me. Go forth and alter the shadows at a French restaurant of your choosing."

Bryant shrugs. "Reckon I might," he says. "There's just something trainwreckianly compelling about standing here being insulted by a random guy on the street, y'know? Must be another part of the New York Experience."

"Must be." His initial irritation worn out into a sigh that clouds thick in the cold February air, Hector sits up straighter still to draw his legs back into a bend. Perhaps his stairs aren't proving as comfortable as he might have hoped. "I could go and find another vagrant. We could stage a bum fight, if that would make you feel better."

Bryant considers this, brow furrowed. "Naw," he replies after a moment, eying Hector. "I don't get my jollies out of other people's pain." He digs in a pocket, and pulls out a crumpled ten dollar bill. "This oughta be good enough to buy you some time in somewhere warmer and more comfortable than out here, with coffee or whatever."

Subdued by the offer — outwardly, at least — Hector reaches to take the offered bill with a more sincere look, and an even, "Thank you." He continues to eye Bryant while he folds the bill over in order to hide it in the depths of his coat, but doesn't toss any more jabs in his direction.

Bryant offers a brief smile, and jams his hands into his pockets. "Yeah, well, weather's enough to make anyone cranky. Which reminds me, I'd better keep moving. I'm not sure where I was headed, but I'd hate to get there too late."

A short nod of acceptance follows a straightening of his musty coat lapels, and Hector looks blandly to the street ahead — which is indeed starting to get dark. "Have a good evening."

Bryant nods amiably. "Same to you," he replies, and away he wanders, into the night and into the lure of New York's atmosphere.

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