1964-03-09 - Devil Went Down to Georgia Street
Summary: An Irishman with the gift of the gab and a fiddle meets a bohemienne dancer.
Related: N/A
Theme Song: The Swallowtail Jig
rogue michael 

"Right. Last time I'm doing that." Comes a voice from one of the masses stepping off of the subway. The owner of the voice manages to split off from all those busy people with their many important things to do. Or, maybe he was kicked out of that club as what to to is something the man's yet to find in the big bustling city.

Sighing and stealing his way through the strange and unfamiliar surroundings he looks for sanctuary. Somewhere to stop, sit and be. Until then he does the only thing he's managed to do in this place during his time here. Be out of place, out of step, without a clue to what everyone else seems to just know.


What sort of activity takes place in one of the forgettable brownstone buildings around here, it probably doesn't justify a good thirty people to belch out through the crooked doorway all at once. Some carry their precious treasures to their chests, or cradled in their arms tenderly as any infant, swaddled up against the cool weather by coats or brightly patterned scarves. Those prized objects? Guitars, a mandolin, even a banjo. Several without instruments must be the audience for the ensemble, and the wisps of a peppery scent stricken by nag champa; the hum of bronze chases them out, the accord of conversation a murmur mixed around the music.

Among them, a girl with dark red hair in flaming braids pulls up the hood of her tunic, allowing her some protection against the weather and the scouring effect of darkness leaning over the tangle of streets that define the spillover from Greenwich Village. She is out of place as much as anything, light-footed and graceful, a bohemian painted against the immigrants and the dreamers come to claim their fortune. "Goodbye, Diana!" Her farewell carries clearly as she waves off another pair splitting from the masses, taking her own way alone into the street itself, unchaperoned. He may not have found his way, the stranger in a strange land, but she walks with all the ease of someone who apparently has a finger on the pulse of the city.


The man is silent. Or trying to be. Walking never used to be a contact sport. Last thing he needs to do though is start talking back to the blows, both verbal and physical, as even though he's from the country that spawned the language… everything he's said so far seems to be lost in translation. A mumble escapes from a particulary sharp stabbing to his rib and a sharper rebuke from the person who dealt it. Now's a time to take a break. That'll do.

An opening to an alley between buildings, out of the flow of passive agressive assault. Time to stop. Time to smoke. Smoke. What cruel sleekit wee thing up there thought that taking this from him too was such a good bit of craic. Ach well. Placing a case down by his feet as he lights up the man opens the case and checks its contents.

It's a plain and simple fiddle and, judging by what the man's up to, whether or not it's still in tune is yet to be seen. Distracted from his distraction the man looks out as someone moves through the streets with all the grace style and elegance he so obviously lacks. "So, that's how it's done right. Fair play to you there." Michael says, without realising or thinking, as she passes.


This corner of the city belongs to the larger world, one beyond Atlantic borders and upstate hills. Slavic immigrants and North African merchants as common here as central European holdovers mingling in a way the patchwork neighbourhood of Europe never achieves. Scents of fried oil and onions lie on the air atop a melange of languages, a pastiche painted to the ears, the eyes, the tongue. Olfactory blessings mingle around fumes and the packs of people roaming the sidewalks under the streetlights, for here they live packed into the gills, like herring cans.

Scarlett belongs here in the way that most young people do, plucked from some garden and transplanted here like every other artistic soul searching for their break. The first glimpse of the fiddle, an instrument of luminous virtuosity and mercurial moods, snags on her awareness and lingers. Looking back over her shoulder, she pauses on the sidewalk to determine whether her eyes doth deceive. No, not in the least, nor the man there serenading her in his fashion. Glimmering emerald eyes raise, curious.

"Too kind a judgment on so poor a showing as this," she returns, her accent harmonious, English and not, possibly Kent as much as it derives from genteel Savannah.


Michael's mind moves quickly from 'What?' to 'I said that out loud?!' in record time. Well, no point gawking unless you want the lady to think you're glakit in the heid. Say something. Any time now… "Far be it from me to disagree with a lady… but it'd take another place, time… even that which was another life, in a manner of speaking before I could say I seen anything close." Okay, the more robust slang's managed to stay out of it but the Irish pace and accent are on full display.

"Where are my manners there? Michael. Michael O'Connell. Pleasure to meet you." He realises that he's got his hands full, so to speak and shuffling things around to free a hand might take more than a moment. Still, a small jig between one thing and another and he offers his hand to shake… or whatever's done round here. It might be out of touch and out of time but, for him, that's nothing new.


"The benefits of the modern age, we can disagree with one another in the loveliest of diplomatic terms, and still get along, right as rain," replies the bohemian, plaited hair licking at her throat and shoulders where the deliberately archaic, elaborate style peeps into view. Coils of foxfire blaze in fine detail, the frosted shock at her crown either dyed or so well hidden, most won't notice off the bat. She tucks her hands into the slim green coat she wears, the shade of sylvan pools on a rainy afternoon, deep and rich. She can parse through the slang well enough, such being told to the hitch of a smile. No cracks about Guinness or shamrocks yet, at least.

"Scarlett," she replies. "Michael O'connell, if you mean to set up and play, have you any notion what devils you might charm and rogues you might snare with your attention?" Mischief teases a fraction through the undertone of her sonorous voice, a soprano tinted towards the higher end of the spectrum than the lower alto. His hand extended to her is met in kind: kidskin gloves, or near enough to count, give a supple barrier warmed by the heat of her body, buttoned up to the elbows in thin black leather. "Do not let me halt you from performing tonight. I would never have it said I ever silenced an ollamh about their business."


It's subtle but there's a change in Michael as she speaks. Not in the parts themselves but more in their composition. The line of the cheap suit he wears was neat enough before but the odd curve and curl from standing a little too heavily is smoothed out as is he's remembered how to take his own weight. After taking her hand but before returning it to the support of the fiddle that's supported him so well, he runs his hand back through his black, tied back hair, sorting the stragglers that had let loose from earlier stress.

A lot of load suddenly seems a lot lighter in lieu of a new set of problems. She's a vibrant vision, he's barely a backdrop. She's a way with words, and wit that he thought was long since forgotten. Suddenly his store of slang and somewhat stunted speech, at least in it's eloquence and elegance, seems severly lacking. The smile that shines through on his face, something he believed not merely out of reach but long since traveled to oblivion should hint at the thought from behind the smoked lenses he wears, the curved scar, and the face that he'd describe as unremarkable. A simple thought. It's good problems to have.

"It's indeed a pleasure. More than meeting mere manners so." A faint chuckle follows, "'tis often the snare of the siren's song, not the siren, that attracts attention. So, as much as I'd like to take credit for it, I'm the one who holds the bow, it's the wee fella here that people come to hear play. At least I get to share in their company." Holding the fiddle in one hand and briefly grabbing the bow from the case, carefully closing it as he goes, he says to Scarlett, "Now I was checking a clatter hadnae knocked it out of tune." Smiling a little brighter he adds, "… however I can truncate a tune up into just a tune. If it so takes your fancy there. If I'm not keeping you away from anything, or anyone, more important in the massive metropolis here." He pauses, in part to await an answer, otherwise just enjoying the moment of feeling freedom from troubles past. If but for a moment.


"You've no responsibility to entertain me solely on those terms," Scarlett insists, demurring from the prospect of imposing herself upon another soul. Some might approach it with a false degree of modesty; hers very much seems the real thing, even as she bends forward from the waist and brushes her fingers down the line of her minidress worn under the green coat almost longer than its hem. "Though should you deign to find me worthy of gracing with your lyrical favour, I can at least offer you a favour of your preference. Dance, directions, the whereabouts of the city's finest sandwiches so good your own mother would sigh in satisfaction tucking into one, no?"

Bohemian, free spirits, live to a romantic time and stare at the world through eyes softened by the chords of a universal song, perhaps. Hippies will follow them in a year or two, but theirs is a much older movement. Standing on her toes, she flows softly, fluidly, through the delicate rotations of movement and music caught up in her own head, swaying slightly from the hips in swiveling beats while her fingertips wind upwards, following smoke's rise, taking inspiration where she will. "Have faith your companion there is alluring, but as a partnership. Much as the prospect of his siren song will bring in the audience, they stay because they hear him, and no sound can be so audible without the man to make it, and the muse to inspire its melody. I know of very few instruments capable of playing themselves, though like a cat, perchance it's bad luck to imply they are anything less than wondrous divinities come upon us all."

Seeing that he puts up with her shenanigans, she throws a look over her shoulder, midway through a timed spin, music or not. "I will tell you the location of the deli anyways. To come this close without visiting and indulging your temporal needs would be a sin, and I refuse to bear the stain besmirching my good name, such as it is, when I can be a herald of another kind of fortune."


Michael's smile graduates into a fully fledged grin. "Though it's been a somewhat strange set of events that have brought me to here, now, one of the few. fleeting, favors I've been fortunate to find is freedom. From responsibility, obligation, from only seeing that which others would have me be. Perhaps I've yet to find fortune enough to discover what stands in it's stead… but that's another story, for another time, should it come up in casual conversation." Gripping the bow lightly and the fiddle tightly, using the cushion at its base to rest his chin upon, "So, similarly, this is something I do so just for the joy of doing it." A soft chuckle proceeds playing as he adds, "There's always after for after."

It's not said often enough that it is the story, not the medium, that matters. So when Michael strikes the first notes with a slide of the bow, it's a tale free from the past. Starting with some pace the bow starts to be switched with a practiced hand to pick and pluck the chords palming the bow back into place for where and when it's needed. A vibrant version of a piece for which a violin couldn't keep up, especially when the reel returns to the first round of notes, picking up tempo along the way. A song for dancing, for celebrating, for those times when it is time to put all else aside, to be in the moment, and to be carried by the chords to the crescendo. A song of the one few times he was happy, and couldn't know or care why. It seemed apt.

After he's finished the number he looks at the now frayed strands strained too much by his efforts with the bow and, after putting it away, he flexes his fingers to restore feeling. "Not one of the ones you'd here in the old country, but it's one to get people going even on a dreich and dreary night. That and when people are plastered to the walls and the booze beguiles then into dancing."


How to dance to a reel but with the speed and pace of the senses come alive? Scarlett tips her head, as much of a challenge as acknowledgment to Michael, letting him select his tempo and the nature of the music. She might have a hard time to dance with a requiem, leaping through a cantata, but this comes near enough to the ruby pulse of her heartbeat. As his fingers conjure a song out of the saw of the bow across the strings, pinching the nylon or wire or gut — whatever fabrication — to will her to dance. She's not wearing red shoes, thankfully, though her remarkably glorious boots might just answer an infernal curse. Rising up to her toes, she hitches her dress in the pinch of her fingers and swivels, kicking her heels behind her. A great deal of motion goes into pivoting, twirling around, her back supple and bending much as her leather coat permits.

"How marvelous the evening is when we end up in fine company and sharing such excitement and inspiration," murmurs the bohemian, laughter on her lips and green eyes burning bright as the aurora borealis in the high latitudes. When he ceases, she stamps her foot once and jumps back, landing nimbly, as though her weight barely exists at all. Clapping her hands, her pale cheeks bloom with winter roses, and she turns around again. "Bravo! It seems terribly unfair to say 'encore.'"


The music stopped but the moment did not. He hasn't even noticed. Playing by feel, freeing him to watch the dance. It was… more than mere movement. More than a work of art or craft. Flowing and fluid, light and bright, it certainly was something of element and energy. Somewhere along the line it's found him. It was and wasn't the piece, the play, the company, the dance… it was all of those and none of those.

With a little flair and flourish he takes a small bow, recovering the bow in the process, and he says, "Thank you. I'm not sure if it's your praise or your company that's the more flattering but both have uplifted me." Peeling a straggly strand of horse hair from the bow he says, "Anything that would continue to keep your company could never be unfair. Quite the reverse."


Energy draws from somewhere. Some might say it's the place, one of natural beauty that purges the spirit and renews the mind. Others might claim a libation is necessary, drinking deep of a bottle or the cauldron, allowing the spirits to move them in a most literal fashion. She'd be inclined to lean with the power generated by so many people coming together, driven onwards a purpose and a goal. Lessons spoken from the veins and rapt expressions teach so much more than picking out meanings in life from isolation. Two people can be enough for the interaction to serve its course, feeding the hungry, satiating the emptiness left behind by the impassive reception New York gives so many. When she turns the other way, though, the City that Never Sleeps so often pulls the spellbound to her breast and never lets go, nor would they ever want her to. The guardian of the gates, as it were, playfully executes one last revolution, more a pirouette than modern dance, and she folds forward from the waist with perilous ease common only to ballerinas and other athletes. In her case, it's yoga; Scarlett practices that uncommon art little known on this coast.

"Why can't it be both? Take your due as a fine player and enjoy that you made someone happy. That serves as the remedy for aught that ails us all, whether the affliction of boredom or lack of creativity." Her smile dims, hanging by threads as the sunshine hides behind a cloud, the state of his bow given a bit of a cause for a frown. "I apologise for the state of that, nonetheless. And there I've gone and caused a bit of wreckage along with the destruction. Do you know where to procure another?"


"Ach, now, dinnae fash yourself there." Michael says, "The faster you go… the faster the threads go. In time every wee bit and bob needs fixing up. Replace the bar a hundred times, rethread it a hundred more and it's still the same bow for doing a bit that I first started with." To explain further he places the fiddle and bow back in the case, presenting the open case cradled in one arm.

"Extra stings and things, horsehair for the bow, different sorts for different frets and pegs, a wee bit of glue, even further fluff for the cushion. It's all there for the wear and tear." Closing the case after allowing to pick up and play with the contents to her content Michael places it down.

"A flat surface and a wee minute and I can do the rest. Even a table at a deli would work wonders." He's still smiling. Refreshed and renewed, he knows that there's no need for anyone to frown. Eat, maybe, depending on if that appetite needs satisfying. In any case he knows that doesn't matter too much. A cross between companionship and connection closed the chasm within him. He's not alone, not disconnected, not any more.


"Then I can offer you that. There's plenty of decent music shops in this area, though Greenwich has more of them. Luck likes you for you won't need to leg it far, only up the way closer to the university." Such landmarks are spoken of easily, a bird's eye view over the city something Scarlett does not assume everyone has. "Do you care much for the subway or would you rather walk? It's a touch late, I gather, but the deli stays open late. You could easily snag a bus, given it's on the lower west side. Just about any bus from here will take you there, as long as you catch it on this side of the street." She points to the indicated right side, pointed west, with the bulk of Manhattan south of them, though with all the dense, tall buildings, any sort of direction is arbitrary to an extend. Hence, landmarks.

The scent of neroli, definitively citrus, dances around her in a gentle scent lifted off moon-pale skin, giving her the undeniable connection to Northern Europe sooner or later. Her ancestors probably leapt off the emerald shores of Celtic Ireland or their cousins, possibly met a Norseman along the way, and the rest is proven in her flaming rose-red locks. "At least your instrument will be well. I fear I am not much for anything with strings, though I can probably get by on a piano if I had to. Alas, you have found a weakness."

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