1963-10-22 - Like Your Company
Summary: In a rare outing with Fred; Raven teases the poor guy after he reveals his secret crush.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
fred raven 


*

At the bottom, everything mixes.

It's not their usual haunt, but it might be it's cousin. A bar that sits just below street level, built beneath a tenament building, the steps just to the left of the shappy collection of apartments and rat holes. Just a few steps down and you find a place where nobody knows your name and they damn well know better than to ask. Even the establishment itself seems reluctant to give up it's name. The sole bit of advertisement just being a little, flat box bolted into the building's facade.
BAR

A red arrow flickers in neon. Simple, effective.

A long, oak-top bar dominates the left wall as people enter through the heavy door with it's stained glass. Taps, ligours of both low and middle-shelf sort, a greying man working away at the countertop with a bar rag or refilling glasses. It's a slim crowd tonight, folks huddle in conversation or cast their attention towards the hulk of the little TV set atop the bar, it's rabbit ears set askew for the best, possible picture they could get of the news or a ballgame.

Not too many folks worth mentioning. blacks, latinos, they even let a Irish man in, lord bless them.

There, against the far wall where the booths, with their cracked and ripped seating is stretched over the padding of the benches, is a man sitting at the end of a tabler rather than beside it, his blentiful posterior planted in a chair borrowed from one of the tables that litter the floor. He seems to work at a basket of fries and talks to someone… Although they may be a bit difficult to make out around his frame.

*

Victor has disconnected.

*

Insanity. It's not too often when someone orders a shit load of food, has it sitting right in front of them, and only taking in a portion that was the size enough for a child to eat. It's also not too often where a person has to separate each and every bit of morsel that she's managed to finagle from this deep down dive bar..

She remembers the likes of Freddie Jackson, some down home blues player out in tennessee, sitting upon a stoop which was made out of chopped wood and his ratty ol' acoustic guitar. He says.. 'If the man's apron ain't dirty and that (insertbadwordhere) ain't sweaty, you know that food ain't gonna taste like shit.'

In other words, ol' Jack in the back was sweatin' up a storm and looked like his face rubbed in mud. So you best believe that the seasoned fries that Fred was munching on was top notch. But as it stands, there was a bunch of meat scattered around various plates, all for Fred, a little portion for Raven.. whatever conversation was going on.. she was pointing and poking at the food, blue as the day she was born (probably), and not gaining any damn looks in her direction. Thanks to the major back and blocking of Fred, of course.

"…so that's how her leg managed to fit behind her head. It's really easy. You just have to find the right angle."

What the fuck?

*

Thick cut, touched with a shimmer of grease that gleamed in the light of the bulb that hung low overhead, they crunched and gave way to softer textures beneath. Fred drug them through the heap of ketchup two at a time before popping them in his mouth to eat. They were still hot and by all rights, Fred should be making that strange face that folks make when they try to chew their food without letting it touch anything but their teeth. His jaw works and he grunts his pleasure in a single note here or there. No pain, no damage… the blessings might not measured up to his idea of the curses but they are there.

"Knew a'few folks like that when I worked the shows." he replied after a swallow, voice muffled slightly as he brought his hand hand up and dragged the back of his wrist across his mouth. "One'd start his act out by climbin' out of a suitcase. Somen'd just hault it out on stage and leave iut there, he'd pop th'latches and come out, tied up inna knot." he recalled his days back with the carnivals and such were not exclusively terrible. People knew better… and they moved around enough so that when folks forgot to mind their manners, Freddy boy was long gone by the time anyone found out.

"Buncha wimen too." he continued, that crooked smile that lit across his features doing him few favors but explaining much about the following statement, "But never got to know 'em like you an' those gals. Aughta get some pointers!" Women like that often had their pick… and while they were smart enough to be polite to the man that would stand stock-still in bull rings while steers worked themselves into exhausted fits to try and move him… they never sought out a ticket for the 'Freddie Dukes Cheese Doodle Express' as one comic put it.

*

Raven's eyes were upon her own food; still poking at the little bit of meat that she picked out for herself. Rolling a fry along in the sauce, still hot as it was, finally picking one up to bring to her lips to blow. While others weren't able to stomach the beautiful bodacious bountiful beasts way of eating, Raven took it as a personality or a character quirk that one just couldn't help but adore. There was even a moment where she snaps a handkerchief from her bosom to lean forward, black gloves galore, to dab a little at his cheek.

Helping hands.

"I did my time in shows like that. Was one of my specialties." Raven admits. Finally, she takes a bite of the fry, not chewing as widely as Fred, but minimum movements, allowing her tongue to roll and feel the mess before she swallows it down with maximum effort. And then another bite. "You make it seem like it's a hard thing to actually talk to a woman." She states, drawing her fry upright to point and swirl that bitten tip towards Fred.

"Politeness. Patience. And pay attention. There's someone for everyone out there, you just have to pay attention." The rest of the fry was popped into her mouth, the bottle snatched from the table, brown whiskey poured until it nearly spilled from her glass. "Since you brought it up, who you got eyes on?"

*

It was like the pluck at a chord, just that deft little gesture, it resonated through him. Leave off where it came from, if he missed it or saw it, it wasn't certain. Or at least that's what he thought. His eyes had flicked and lingered, turning upwards only when her arm stretched out towards him. Lord have mercy… but why would he start now? "agh!" a, not a grunt, not a snarl. Soimething like a 'bah!' but without the pop of the lips. A token of voiced descent. He brought his left hand around and wiped at where she had doted on him, features skewed up not in embaresment or displeasure but… It was difficult. She was nothing like a mother figure, and the word 'Matronly' seemed to hang poorly on her. He just felt and it was a think second-guessed by waning doubt and suspicion.

She moved on and he regarded her, stuffing the last of the fries into his maw and sliding the basket aside. Sliders were years away but burgers still had their place in bars. He dragged over another basket with it's grease-thinned paper. Lettuce and tomatoe lied about any redeeming value the thing might have. "Oh yeah?!" a note of kinship… Freaks find their own.

She confronts him on the matter of his relations with women. His nostrils flare with a snort as he gathers up his next snack in his hands, pressing it down with one before he hefts it up between both. He does listen as he hews a bit from the burger. He takes note, she is smart person and a woman that's giving you advice in dealing with women aughta be heeded. He chews the thought along with his food, it's only a moment before he swallows it down.

"Nobody."

Not entirely a lie but not fully a truth.

"You ain't gotta sugar coat nothin' with me, Boss. I know who the hell I am an' I know what I am." he states, returning the burger to it's basket as he hunches forward. "Ain't charmin, ain't smart, an I ain't seen anything good in the mirror for more'n ten years. Woman that's willin to test some matress springs with me usually wants somethin'." Sometimes that something is just the couple of bills that were left on the dresser.

*

A piece of meat was plucked with gloved fingers, drawn close to her nose and sniffed before she carefully takes a bite. The chewing was slow, her eyes wandering even though one could hardly tell from far away if it really was, the swallowed heavily with as much effort as she could muster. There was a pause. Another glance, and then a lift of her whiskey to quickly take three full droughts of it before any of the food decidedly 'arrived'.

It burned her throat good; her eyes close to bite back the water that builds, opening again as she finally lets out a sigh of relief. Her stomach was rumbling, but it dies down soon enough as she shifts within her seat to continue to pick and pry at her food.

"Liar." She states evenly. Could she tell? Probably not.

"What do you want me to say, Fred? I mean really. You know who you are. I know what you could be. I know what you -can- be. Besides, looks are all a matter of perspective." If he wasn't watching, she shifts with a few snapping cracks into her 'normal' guise, a woman with blonde hair and grey eyes. "There are people who can see past the bullshit, Fred. Some people who can't see at all but still have a sight that's far more wonderful than anyone could compare. And if you're talking about hookers? They're doing you a service. One which you paid for, right? Any of them recoil from you while you were bedding them? Did they say anything wrong during? Were their orgasms any different than yours?" Her shoulders lift in a shrug.

"So who is it."

*

It was a fair guess, never the less.

A sour grunt was the oinly indication that was given or needed as to where that dart of accusation had landed. His jaw shifted, firmed as teeth gritted, jutted as he found himself becoming defensive. She wasn't saying anything he could pick a nit off of. Her shifting put him on his heels.. he had seen it enough but to se a face shift, hear the bones move beneath the skin and flesh. He knew the sounds well enough but it was different when the person was still alive. He remembered pain, he wondered sometimes if it hurt.

There came up a few things that could be debated but pride kept him from stepping into that pile. Allow people their craft and do not doubt it's genuinity… That is not a word but it will serve as well as any other that could be placed where it stood.

He rocked back, the chair complaining of the weight prseed against the back of it while Fred considered it. Fine then, lay it out. This is about the only way Fred Dukes could spill his guts.

"You, Boss." How could he say that, not the temerity of the statement but rather the method of delivery. The first syllable of the two came out like a stone, heavy and dropped. The second followed after a parachute tossed from the plane after the person jumped. Wouldn't help but still.

"But yer the boss-" and it had made his need to drag her out of hell all that much more pressing. "an y'don't fuck around in the company ink." Not how the saying goes but that's that.

*

Woah.

If Raven could think of a quote about cabin pressure and not speaking about a certain club she would have by now. Though that movie itself wouldn't come for another thirty years, she certainly felt it. In fact, it has been -years- since someone had amourous attentions towards her, and this one left her flumoxxed. Did she do something wrong?

"Oh." Her lips snap shut, shut enough that her buttom lip pushes the upper lip to create a slight cliff, her elbow planted upon the table as her now grey eyes search his expression and words for any sort of regret, joke, a hint of a smile..

But he was serious. Serious as a heart attack, and soon that hand cradles her chin as her fingers spider-walk across her flesh toned cheek, her gaze near vacation. "Just to be clear.." She finally says, her tone even. Not careful. They knew what the other was. "..love? Or is this just something purely physical in which we do not have to worry about the messy stuff where emotions are involved?" Because that was easy.

*

Love…

Blue skies, white fences. A truck pulls into a paved driveway, the engine dies and the door swings open. Dukes Towing: We Move the Immovable. A old hound dog poeels himself off of the shaded porch, his drooping features working into that sort of doggy smile, his whip of a tail snapping back and forth behind him before he bays his joy and bounds down the steps. "'Ey Cain, you lousy mutt! G'down now." he mollifies the accosting dog, giving him a rough petting and patting bafore he carries up the steps and through the screen door. It's hinges squeek as it opens and then slams shut. "Daddy!" the childish squeals of two… blue berries with limbs. 'Least that's what they look like, all round and blue. Nothing but the yellow of their eyes, white of their teeth, and red of their hair breaking up the deep blue of their skin. It proceeds, there she is, high heels in the kitchen, a dress and a apron, a broad grin. Kiss, kiss, love love. The Dukes Family…

"God no." it was almost a guffaw. His lkeft hand thumped the table as he gave his head a toss, the daydream dismissed to the corners of his mind like a nightmare. What idiot would try to have a normal life?!

Physical was a five-dollar word he knew, maybe from a court hearing or something else but it rang well enough. "Like havin' you aroun' more'n I don't but love ain't it." he expanded on the thought, stooping from the back of the chair to a sigh of relief from the furniture. He filled his mouth with a good couple of swallows from a pitcher of beer, hefting it up like a massive mug. Emotions though… Fred was a jealous man. Greedy… but this would not be news.

*

Thank god Mystique was not Jean Grey. Thank. God.

Though hearing him admonish 'love' gives her a little bit of relief. Her shoulders slump as she relaxes, though now there was a little grin that prys upon her lips. "Alright then. So it's not love."

The grin was nothing nice of course, from one person to another, not that he could possibly tell from the way that she has been acting. With a slight push back of her chair, she lifts and plants a knee upon the table, leaning forward to crawl upon it, food and empty plate pushed aside, glass of whiskey spilled to line the cracks upon the floor. The bottle turned upon it's side as well as its contents begin to leak upon the floor.

She crawls over towards him, her hand striking out to lightly pinch at his cheek, then holds it there, tugging outright like he was a bad child and she was the Mistress who'd lay him across her knee. "So physical then. Is that right? Care to punch a few strings out of a matress in some backwards ass hotel?" And she wiggles his cheek! "Oh.. I -have- only been in Hell for like.. two years. I sure am going to need -some- sort of affection eventually. Why? I may even break your back in the process. Sound good to you?"

*

Small blessings.

She grins, she grins like hunger. Fred, for a moment, is just baffled from the toes up. His jaw goes slack, lips pursing, a brow lofting upwards over one eye as he regards her curiously. No, not love, they had established that, so what n… Ho boy.

Chair legs balk against the floor and they almost sound like a needle scratching across a record, a tune changed. Maybe something with a saxophone now. Raven commits flagrant alcohol abuse on her way to him. He can't notice it. For this moment, a span of a few heartbeats, he is a deer in the headlights. Baffled and amazed by this brillient, shining thing barreling towards him.

He feels her hand, the pinch and pull of plaint flesh that stretches, perhaps for comedic effect, farther than it strictly should. Then it hits him likke that deer and those headlights. His lips split, stretching into a broad grin… partly because she still has ahold of his cheek, lips almost pulled into a inadvertant smirk! He laughs, low but throaty, it jostles his chest and shoulders… but not yet his belly. "Haw, haw, Boss, we could make'm bang on the cielin' in the basement from the third floor." and Jesus will Weep for the poor souls on the two floors between the former and latter. All this even while his face ripples with her Marmly administrations to his cheek. As for breaking his back? His eyes narrowed, itg was a thing of wicked delight, his smile spreading, teeth, so many of them. "Give it your best shot!" Despite his bravado… he was the Immovable Blob, not the Limber Heap! He'd sooner look like a garlic knot than a pretzel. He rose up from his seat, hands on the table top, a clatter of wood as the chair tilted backwerds from behind his knees and fell over.

*

While Raven isn't one to typically back down from a challenge, it was a wise thing that she does. It wasn't as if she wouldn't be able to look at herself in the mirror in the morning. She's already suffering with that affliction well enough without Fred's help. But she means it when she says he's a gorgeous pound of flesh. All of that power wrapped up in a big ol' bulky (and parts flabby) package. There was a thought to get him to workout more… though..

She grins completely, her shoulders lifting up in a slight shrug, her fingers releasing his cheeks for it to snap back against the line of his gums. Her hand lightly pats his cheek, and soon with fingers planting against the table, her legs snap out and curl in front of her to take up a seat where he stands. And she remains right in the middle of those planted hands.

"No." She states. "You're wise in this regard; no fucking around in company ink." Her booted heel lifts to press against his belly, not to move him physically, but to sink in the flesh like the fat bastard he was. "Another saying. Don't shit where you eat. Remember that."

*

No. It echoed in the cavern of his skull, bouncing off of the walls and saturating his brain. Boss Says No.

Deer, headlights, breaks.

He had said that but that was before she all but slithered across that table and there had been a bit about blood in that head of his.

His face resettles from the mild quiver that had gone across his features. His neck lost tension and his features fell forward. His shoulders rose and fell, a drawn and loosed breath. It smelled like fries and meat and beer. There was a pressure against his gut, her booted foot sinking inwards. She'd find meat beneath the fluff at about ankle's depth. He straightend, shoulders rolling beneath the straps of his overalls, "Yes'm." he answered.

*

D'awww! Parts of Raven felt bad enough to take him into the back room to give him a one time ride on the Blueberry train. The other part of her wanted to give him a hug. Or something. Jesus. Too much emotion in just the 'Yes'm' that he spoke. Way, way too much. Even his posture spoke of a mild defeat. But she has an idea.

"Come on." She says, hopping down from the table, fingers dipping into her top to fish out a few bills which were tossed upon the table in the sea of whiskey and a lone french fry. "Let's go break stuff."

*

His chin jutted forward, it added to the effect of his lips crooking to the left side of his face in a crooked grin, a set of incisors on display with that sudden, gungho sneer of a smile. "Sure Boss." he answered, left fist pounding into right palm, flesh rippling in waves back across either limb. He followed in her wake… except for when he back-tracked to collect the burger he had not polished off, loath to leave something unfinished once started.

Into the night they went, the sound of "Omnomomf-" working faintly behind her.

*

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