2010-08-15: The Sound of Silence



Date: August 15, 2010


Pretenses are broken and hopefully repaired.

"The Sound of Silence"

Central Park

"so my first thought was to overdub it," says Randall, leaning over to draw Portia's attention to a passage of handwritten text: poetry, more specifically, made fairly obvious by the lines consistently cutting off only two-thirds of the way across the page. "To show how she's of two minds about it. But that wouldn't work for live performance, unless we brought in someone else so maybe alternating back and forth, instead?"

Idly running her fingers over the strings of the guitar sitting next to her, Portia gives a slow nod as she notes the words on the page. "That would make more sense. I think a lot of people make the mistake of getting complicated and then having to scale back for live stuff, so if you go with something that works live and then make it more complicated after it might work better. So the back and forth makes sense to me. Plus it's got more of a separate feel. Same song, two distinct parts to it."

Carrie gets up from her crouch. A few moments ago, a little girl, probably part of that group of little girls over there, was crying with a scraped elbow. Perhaps not every adult can kiss it and make it better, but one can, and she did, and the girl runs off to rejoin her playmates, the scrape healed. Carrie looks at the blood on her fingertips, and gets an alcohol wipe out of her purse to wipe it off with. She pads over to where the familiar faces are. Toward Randall and Griffin, aka Portia.

"Exactly. I mean, only Queen could pull off Bohemian Rhapsody." Well, maybe Wayne and Garth on a good day. "So on the one hand, here he is, thinking he knows exactly what's what, and… well, there's a few different ways her part could go, I left that kind of fuzzy 'cause I figured you'd do better th—"

"Carrie, hi!" he adds, switching gears once he spots her approaching. "We were just— well." By way of explanation, he picks up one of the other sheets (already covered with scribbled addenda) and offers it to her.

"Yeaahhh. I don't think we're quite Queen. And I don't think I quite would want to be Queen anyways." Portia chuckles, peering down at the paper. "I could look and see…" She trails off, though, about to put in her two cents when she notices Carrie. She lifts a hand, offering a tiny wiggle of fingers as a wave, but instead falls into silence. Her other hand traces the fingers on her guitar, still within arm's reach.

Carrie waves back and wanders over. "Hey guys. I'm not interrupting, am I?" Carrie bats down the faint pang of jealousy. Come on Carrie. You knew they were working together. This is Portia's big break, remember? Possibly Randall's too. Remember how you were gung ho for this? Yeah, she remembers. And yeah, she trusts both of them. Still. She's not so secure as she'd like to feel right now, and all of that thought, all of that emotion expresses in a flicker of expression that an observer might miss in an eyeblink. And then it's gone. Carrie smiles.

Randall doesn't exactly observe any of it - not even through the auras that routinely seem to dance before his eyes - but he can guess it's there, not least because he's got his own worries about things. Will they actually make good on the contract? And will the relationship hold up if they have to spend more time apart? Well, at least they can mine it for some song material, in the grand tradition…

"Not really," he says, drawing his knees up to his chest and wrapping his arms around them. "I think it was getting time to take five, anyway, we've been at this for a while."

There's a bit of a quiet moment. Randall abruptly ends the session with the classic move that dudes do when their girlfriends appear. A casual 'oh we were gonna break anyways'. Portia glances at the lyrics, then over at her guitar, which she pulls into her lap for reassurance. She's not entirely sure she'll ever not be awkward about this. "It's okay," she agrees. "You weren't interrupting." Her own book of scribbled lyrics is tugged out of the way in an offering of a place for Carrie to sit. That or she just felt better having her lyrics out of the way.

Carrie sits down. For all the reassurances, she knows she is interrupting. So it's awkward. "Um… guys? We need to air things out here. You two are old friends and you're working together on a project that is a big deal. I don't want to get in the way of that. Of either of those. I mean, this is your career here.

Randall sighs. There was some truth to what he was saying, but where does the truth stop and the rationalization begin? Even he's not really sure. "I don't know that there's anything to air out, really. You both think I can handle everything on my plate? Well, I'm… trying."

The edge in his tone is a little sharper than he intended. What about his dream, of… scribbling away in obscurity about theories of magic? It's baked into the relationship, of course… and he probably could work it into the music gig, too, but he needs time to figure out how. Time he hasn't quite had.

"I know," Portia's reply is simple, and she offers a smile to Carrie. It's a genuine smile. "You aren't getting in the way, honestly." It's not her that Portia's got an issue with. She wants to make sure that's cleared. She glances towards Randall, frowning at the tenseness in his voice. "Sorry if I'm adding another 'thing' on your plate." She scowls, hugging her guitar almost protectively.

Carrie looks at Randall at being given that tone. She frowns at him and looks away, fiddling with the orthopedic plate on the chain around her neck, a little more spastically the longer she sits. She gets up, finally. "Tell you what. I'm gonna go find some supper. You guys take care." She turns to Randall. "I'll see you at home, I guess." Guh. Awkwardness. She leaves without saying anything else, and tries to sort out her feelings as she goes, why everything, everything is bothering her about this, when everyone involved is so nice, and probably even being honest. Bleah. They make it seem like once you find someone, it's all smooth sailing in the movies.

Two seconds after Carrie walks off, Randall flops backward onto the grass, staring up at the sunset. "Dammit, what am I supposed to be doing? I actually asked Lee that, when he was calling me fourteen kinds of jackass, but he was too busy pounding his own chest." The know-it-all mentioned in the lyrics may or may not have been inspired by this.

"Randall, you act like there's some grand plan on what people are 'supposed' to be doing. There isn't. You just do stuff. That's how life works. You get an opportunity, you take it or leave it, and wait for another or make your own opportunity. It's up to you. There's no plan. You figure out what you really want and can't live without and you just damn well go for it." Portia frowns, peering at her guitar. "And if you aren't into this, I'll find some damn other way to make it. On my own. Because I know exactly what I want and I'm not going to let that be tied down by your indecision."

Randall shakes his head. "That's what I'm doing! I want this and I want to be with her." And some other things, but two is enough to make the point. "When I say it's tough, I'm not saying I want out… I'm just saying it's tough. So when I do get stressed out, you know that I expected it going in."

Portia sets the guitar aside, turning to look at him. "Randall, why does there have to be a choice? Why is this so hard for you? Why do you have to pick? Plenty of people have a girlfriend and an occupation. You don't have to make this more difficult than it is because there isn't anything wrong with having her and the music." She's making that very clear.

"I" Randall throws up his hands in frustration. "I'm trying to not pick. Most people don't have a girlfriend and an occupation with someone who almost was the girlfriend all of a sudden, 'yeah actually I need to keep working for a couple of hours' starts turning into something they write TV episodes about."

Frustration vented for the most part, he rolls over onto his stomach, resting his chin atop crossed arms as he stares out toward the skyscrapers. "The other thing is, you know that carnival that's had fliers up around town lately? She's trying to join them." They were planning to join it together, but again he leaves that part out. "They'll be here for a while yet, but after that… I don't know where they're going. And I don't know if she'll want to follow them."

The girl abruptly stops. She entirely freezes for a long moment to make sure she head exactly what Randall had said. She retraces the words in her mind, the way he just referred to her. Portia's lips purse a little, a slight frown tugging them. She reaches for the guitar, almost as a shield, but instead it's smoothly moved and put into the guitar case, which is snapped and buckled shut. "Pick her." She doesn't look up, moving to clean up. The black book she uses for her lyrics is shut, elastic band replaced over it, pencils grabbed and shoved into the canvas messenger bag she carries her supplies in.

All of which catches Randall entirely off guard, to the point that Portia has time enough to pack most everything up by the time he gets back up to his feet again. "What? Because?" Because of the 'almost' part? He thought that was obvious by now. No, crap, because of "Oh no, Portia, I didn't mean it like that! I just meant she'd be that much quicker to get jealous, whether she thought anything was going on or not."

The messenger bag is slung over her shoulder, then moved over her head to the other, tucking it safely beneath an arm. Portia's gaze fixes on Randall, then moves away. "I said pick her. Your heart's not in this. If it was, you'd have picked this a while back, not toy with it out of guilt or obligation because the opportunity is better. You don't want this." The guitar case is picked up with the arm not covering the messenger bag.

Randall shakes his head, going so far as to reach forward and grab hold of one of the straps himself before she can get any further. "Don't say that. If my heart wasn't in this, I'd be sabotaging it, half-assing it." Leaning down, he picks up a handful of paper, waving it around to underscore the point. "Does this look like half-assing it to you? Wanting it to be easier isn't the same thing as wanting out."

"Well, I'm a part of this stupid package deal too." Portia protests, as the messenger bag's strap is snatched by Randall's hand and she's halted in her tracks. She whips around to face him. "I didn't say you were half-assing it. You're doing it, but you don't know what's 'right'. Like there's a right and a wrong to this equation. But you know what? Lets make this math simple. You can subtract me from the picture and see how easy that makes things."

"I don't need to see, I know. It wouldn't. You think I want to spend the next forty years wondering how this would've turned out?" Randall's on a roll tonight - to the point that another group of teenagers following a nearby walking trail slow down long enough to exchange wink-wink-nudge-nudge gestures. Reeeal helpful, guys.

The girl grips the handle on the guitar case. Tightly. Portia's ignoring the teenagers. She has to, or she'll meltdown entirely, and likely wink out of existence for a while. "You aren't the only one who's having to struggle with this whole partnership thing. You think it's easy for me to just sit there and… and… do all of this? I could pretend, Randall. I could pretend that it was nothing. That it was about music. But you know what? It's not just about music. You had to say it. You had to say it. Now I can't just pretend and I can't just do this like it's nothing."

Oh. Oh, that's what this is about. Oh dear. Randall starts walking, putting some distance between them and the onlookers before he speaks up again - he needs some more time to think about what to say, anyway.

"I haven't ever been able to do this like it's nothing, Portia. I've been doing this like it isn't nothing… which, I don't know if we're gonna make it big? But a lot of people who do make it big have gone through Interesting Times along the way. Maybe it'll be cathartic."

There's a heavy sigh. Portia looks defeated. "You know what, Randall? We never had this conversation. You're gonna go, I'm gonna go. You're going to go tell your pretty girlfriend that everything's fine. You figure your shit out, and this conversation never happened, okay? You can figure something out. I'm not putting all my eggs in this basket. Already been hurt once cause of it."

"All right." It isn't, of course, but Randall knows there's no more progress to be made on the issue tonight. "On the condition that we get in another jam session no more than four days from now. Deal?"

"Fine." Portia answers, guitar case gripped tightly in one hand. "Four days from now." That'll give them time, at least. She can deal with four days. "Now go home. I know that look on a girl. Make her feel okay."

There may not always be a right thing to say, but sometimes there's a minefield of wrong ones. This is clearly one of those times. Without another word, Randall nods and takes off toward the nearest patch of sidewalk.

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