2010-07-27: There's Gold in Them Thar Hills



NPCs: the rest of Stefano's crew; Izzy's fare

Date: July 27, 2010


Ace gets paid time-and-a-half and then some.

"There's Gold in Them Thar Hills"

New York City

The routine at the warehouse is— well, pretty routine. Show up, haul stuff around for a while, go home. Lunch breaks and smoke breaks at the usual times, a TV in the break room. Stefano mostly hangs out in the office, making phone calls; Nick works the shipping computer (and openly browses for porn whenever the rest of the crew leaves him alone for more than five minutes at a time… apparently the calendars pinned up to the walls aren't good enough for him). With the new arrival balanced by a departure, things keep humming along smoothly.

Today, something's changed. There's the usual tension of 'hey, it's five-thirty, we get to leave soon', but it's more focused than it has been before. As the last incoming shipment rolls through the doors, Mike hops out of the back first - on the phone with his wife, he explains that he needs to run a few errands, 'the usual'.

Of course the daily routine has taken some getting used to for Ace who, due to no kind of luck with the sleep thing and owning no watch, has wound up coming in late once…well, okay. Twice. But it's not her fault, or at least she hopes her boss will be sympathetic and know what it's like to be late due to not knowing what time it was. But today has started out on a high note as she arrived on-time and immediately got to work, the tasks assigned her to simple enough to learn by wrote memory instead of any book learning.

The rules on that one are simple enough, too. Miss half an hour, get docked half an hour's pay. Miss half an hour and leave a delivery run shorthanded— but it hasn't come to that. Most anything involving actual customers is scheduled closer to the middle of the day, not least because they have people come in late sometimes, too.

Stefano opens his door and glances around, nodding once, then spots Ace and motions her inside. "Listen, we're doing an extra run out to Levittown after closing time— somebody fucked up the manifest, if we take care of it tonight then everybody saves a bunch on fees. Pays overtime, if you're up for it."

Ace turns and then heads on into the office, her eyes darting side to side before she steps in fully. "Yeah? Hey, I can do that, sure. Be nice to have a little extra money." Not that she really needs it, seeing as how she doesn't pay rent, doesn't drink, smoke or do drugs and looks like she rarely eats. Definitely not a creature who spends a lot of money. "How may are ya needing, boss?"

"Well, I'd like to get everybody in on it. The more people we got, the quicker we get done and go home." It's as direct a response as Stefano can offer - because he doesn't know the real answer yet. If she sees eye to eye with them when they're done? Then they need her. People like that are all too rare.

"Right-o." No questions asked, no detailed sought after. Ace is a good team-player in that regards, at least. "Jus' let me know when." She smiles as she regards Stefano, her eyes holding to his. "Hey, Boss, is there anyway I can get a little advance on my pay? Don't have to be anything huge. Jus' twenty bucks or so? I just need enough to eat on for a few days." God, she hates having to ask for that and she looks as pained as doing so makes her feel, her eyes almost closed in a tight wince while her body takes on a tense, almost rigid posture.

A tight little smirk crosses Stefano's features, just for a half a second. "I think we can arrange that. I'll get it to you when we get back, gotta keep the books straight and all."

One hour later:

Levittown, NY

"No, we can't go any faster," Mike mutters, keeping his eyes on the road and one hand on the wheel— just as well, considering the look of strained patience that Jimmy shoots back at him in response. "You want us to get pulled over for speeding? Besides, we get there too early, I got the sun in my eyes all the way back home. Fuck that shit, you can drive us back if you're that gung ho."

Despite Jimmy's protests, the truck has made good time - pulling off the highway and heading south toward the docks. At a nod from Stefano, the others finish up their card game and straighten up, getting ready to move as soon as the doors open—

—and there they go! There's another truck right next to theirs, just starting to be unloaded, up until Emilio walks up to the foreman and shoves a gun barrel up underneath his chin. "All right, I think you know the drill," he says, dark sunglasses lending a coldly impersonal overtone to his usual cheerful demeanor. "You guys don't wanna do nothing stupid, now do ya?"

Well, this is great. Going from breaking and entering and theft to right out armed robbery is a big ass jump but it's one Ace has to make if she's going to get paid. Waiting for the cue from the others, she sits in their vehicle, waiting for the time that she does what she's supposed to do which, if her assumptions are correct, involves hauling stuff from one point to the other. "Hmmmm…" she murmurs, a single-note hum that trembles slightly, Ace nervous beyond nervous.

The foreman just nods and gets the hell out of their way, nervously wiping the sweat from his brow as he motions for the others to clear out. The goods are insured against theft anyway, and he'd much rather face getting fired by his boss than getting fired at by the new arrivals.

Once they're out of the way, the new crew gets right to work, handing a box up to Ace as they return for the first time. "Watch that shit," Nick calls up, "I hear gold's pretty heavy. You lemme know if you need any help, right?"

"Gold?" Oh shit. Eyes going wide, Ace almost drops the first box she's given thanks to how shocked she is but she recovers although the guys will undoubtedly see her fumble. She tries to cover it up as being due to the weight by asking for help but with how shocked she was when she almost dropped it, it might be easy to guess as to why she did. "Er…maybe jus' one guy to help, huh?" Clearing her throat, she pushes the crate to the side, making room for the rest of their ill-gotten gains.

Nick is happy to be one guy to help. A little too happy, maybe: as they cross paths, Stefano shoots him a look. "C'mon, Nicky, we're not getting paid by the hour here." Each of them switches out for a couple rounds at a time, watching out in case 'insurance' turns out to involve calling for the armed guard they hshould have had in the first place - but no, things are still quiet by the time they haul the ramp back up and head back for the road under cover of the growing darkness.

"Uh…" Ace has seated herself back down by the time the truck is in motion again, her demeanor like that of a puppy who has put itself in a corner in hopes that maybe it won't get kicked. "So…we're like Robin Hood, right? We did this to have stuff to give to the poor and all that shit?" To say she's shocked is an understatement but she tries to rally and pull herself out of it before she gets herself in trouble. "It was fucking awesome, don't get me wrong, yeah? I am just curious as to what we…you all are going to be doing with it once we get it back to wherever it is going."

There are glances all around, expressions ranging anywhere from blank confusion to 'is she busting our balls or what?'. In the end, it falls to Stefano to actually offer an answer. "It's— something like that, yeah. Give to people who would be poor if nobody was looking out for 'em." This seems to satisfy the crew, especially after he takes out a thick envelope - wait, where was he keeping that before? - and starts handing each of the others a sheaf of its contents. Including, yes, Ace. There are lots of twenties.

Ace looks lost right up until the time that she looks at what she's handed, her expression baffled. "I see," she murmurs although she really doesn't, her eyes kept to the bunch of bucks she has gripped in her hand. It's not that she isn't grateful becuase she is but the robbery and all that has her thrown off her game. "So…uh, yeah. Is this something that's done often?" Just asking so she might be able to better prepare herself next time.

Stefano shrugs. "Not every day. I'll give you more of a heads up next time." He had a hunch when he hired her that she wouldn't do anything stupid like try to call the cops. Company policy on that— but never mind.

New York City

The drive back is a good bit more relaxed than the initial drive out. Mike's sense of timing works out as promised, while the others resume their poker game in between bouts of planning how to spend their latest earnings. The next stop proves to be an unfamiliar parking lot enclosed within an industrial area; Stefano looks out and nods, gesturing toward a car parked nearby.

Ace's also trying to figure out what to do with her money - with the large hunk of cash she has been given Ace could do so much for herself but the first thing that comes to mind is giving some of it to Father Patrick and his people so maybe they can feed a few more mouths and then a bit to a newly made friend. The rest will probably be hidden somewhere to be used as needed although, with as few needs as she has, her part of it could very well last until the Second Coming. "You guys can't play poker for crap," she pokes at the big thugs while quirking a smile at them. "Good thing ya don't need to go pro to make a living."

The car sits sedately over beyond a structural beam, its resplendant yellow and sleek form familiar to any city inhabitant. Medallion up top unlit, as are the off-duty wings forming the remainder of familiar medallion cab top-piece. The meter's running. An arm eases out of the open driver's side window, bare but for the bunched fabric of a dgrey sweatshirt around an elbow. Thumb strikes at the filter end of a cigarette, sending ashes flaking down to the parking garage floor. The driver sees them.

"Fuck you," Emilio says to Ace, grinning right back, "I'm a great poker player!" He almost is, really, looking equally cheerful no matter what he's holding. "Not like Stef, last time he barely broke even—"

Declining to discuss the police raid that cut that game short, Stefano picks up the nearest box and carries it over to the taxi, leaning one corner into the open window. "Jesus," he says to the man inside, "now we gotta pay the fare, too? I gotta have a word with you later about getting your books straight."

When they stop she looks out, seeing the cab, Ace's expression a bit curious. "Guess we go help with that, right," she asks quietly, her question whispered. She doesn't want to be over-heared by anyone who might be out there. She so doesn't want to be seen as a newbie or whatever.

"Nah," Izzy jerks a thumb back toward the backseat, where a surly looking guy familiar enough to Stefano is reading a magazine, slouched across one side of the back of the cab. "He's got you covered, like." Diction and accent severely Northern. Maybe northern Midwestern— probably Canadian. A hand stretches down below the dash, and the trunk's popped. "You need a hand?" Guy with Magazine doesn't add anything to the conversation. He looks up to the front for a moment, then back down to his magazine. And turns a page.

Stefano shoots a quick smirk back at the New Yorker poster boy, then shakes his head. "We're good, thanks!" Once the box is dropped off in the trunk, he motions the others to follow suit, while he counts out a few more large bills and hands them over to Izzy. "All right, here's your cut for covering the last leg— wait, was it four or five? Screw it, make it five anyhow." He's impressed with the choice of vehicle, at least for deliveries small enough to fit— who's gonna pay attention to one cab out of hundreds?

Grabbing a box and trouncing out as well as she can, Ace manages to get herself and her carried cargo out of the truck with marginal difficulty and gets it to the cab. With being so focused on not dropping the stash she doesn't notice who the driver is, her eyes held straight at the ass end of the cab and her mind on things other than the right here and now aspect of the job.

Mr. New Yorker seems about to speak up on the matter of payment, until five's forthcoming— then he settles back and lets Izzy thumb through the funds, roll it up and rubberband it before sliding it back to the backseat with a nod, then flashing a bright smile to Stefano. "We always appreciate a good tipper," she tells him, keeping it light. Eyes briefly wander to the woman aiding in loading up the trunk, eyebrows rising in a moment of quiet surprise or, perhaps, half-veiled appreciation— the swift looking-over is ambiguous and could definitely come across as something of a leer.

With a brief nod, Stefano heads back to the truck, uncertain what to make of those two… oh well, it's not really his problem, as long as they deliver the goods without a hitch. What he can do is get some laughs out of the situation while he waits. "Hey, Nicky, go on out to the cab— I think we found you a girlfriend!"

Ace now darts a look towards the car's interior but from her vantage point she can't make out anything but figures, their features left unseen by her for the most part. Probably for the best. "Need any more put in the trunk or is that all, Boss?" She doesn't move, hovering near the trunk, just in case it needs to be closed or more needs to be put within it.

Izzy's jaw sets some as Stefano alludes to her in such a decidedly unmasculine fashion. The guy in the backseat, at least, gets a big kick out of it, positively guffawing at his effeminate cabbie's evident discomfort at being called a girl. "-Fuck- me," Izzy mutters. Head? Meet steering wheel. "I think he's got someone out there who wants to, Iz," Guyinback whaps his magazine against the plastic partition between the back and the front of the cab. Izzy just wraps an arm up around the steering wheel, hiding behind it.

You'd think Nick would learn. Last time Stefano made a comment like that, it turned out to be a woman in her sixties waiting in the lobby, a union rep in a green pantsuit. And then there was the time Jimmy offered to 'set him up with a friend', who turned out to be his golden retriever. But for whatever reason, hope springs eternal; he drops his box into the trunk, then heads up front, peering in at Izzy - looking uncertain whether they're yanking his chain again or not.

With the trunk space pretty much full, and New Yorker Guy failing to express interest in sharing any of his personal space with the goods, the rest of the crew is already back in anticipation of the next drop-off point. It'll take at least one more to get the truck emptied out again.

"Hey…c'mon guys. Let's go before someone finds us and calls the c…" Ace steps around now and happens to turn to look inside the cab all proper like. With Izzy face first in the steering wheel she doesn't quite make out who he is but she's stepping up closer to the taxi to peek in. "Hey, don't let these bozos give you any shit. They're good…hearted." Looking at Stefano at that, she raises a brow as if daring her employer to prove her wrong now. "C'mon. Let me see your face, huh?"

Izzy can almost feel the testosterone crawling like a yellow fog over the sliver of window peeking up from the car door, touching her skin and sussing her out in a less-than-comfortable manner. She manages to scrape together enough of the ambient manswoosh (this is a technical term in the jargonish arsenal of your average homokineticist) to draw up, arm thrust straight against the steering wheel, shoulder slouched in a gruffly masculine fashion, and toss the guy a tight-lipped 'I Have A Penis' glance, tempered with a kind sympathy, oft-teased-underling to oft-teased-underling. Fortunately for her, Ace also gets herself in the splash zone for her concerted effort to prove her virility. Eyes move from Nick to Aces, and her half-apologetic, half-embarrassed smirk brightens into a broad grin. "Hey, Aces," she tells her. "How's things?"

Nick, for his part, has decided that he indeed wants no part of whatever the hell that was - he doesn't even get that close, really, the 'oh crap' expression is enough of a clue that he's been hoodwinked again. Grumbling darkly, he turns and stalks back toward the truck, pausing only to squint back at Ace: what's taking her so long, anyhow? Looks like they might be getting into an argument.

"Oh, hey…Izzy?" Okay. Now this is odd but she really doesn't have time at all to stick around and talk, this being the bad time to try to hold social hour and all that drek. "We'll talk later." Waving to the cabbie while trying not to look at Izzy's fare, she turns and heads back to the truck, shoulders slouched, hands in pockets. As if her day wasn't odd enough thanks to Stefano's extra work for her but now this? God must be laughing at her now.

Right, later. The question was meant more by way of a greeting than an atual inquiry into the woman's well-being. "See ya," she tells her, and, tossing the rest of her cig out the window, she rolls it up, turning on the cab engine again, but waiting for the truck to go ahead, lest the two vehicles be seen leaving in conjunction with one another.

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