1965-02-25 - We Have A "No Fireballs" Policy
Summary: Manuel visits Club Atomic, discusses Mutant Town's potential and issues with its owner, Douglas.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
manuel douglas 

Manuel de la Rocha doesn't tend to spend a lot of time in Mutant Town. It's not exactly affluent, after all. But given recent events, he feels a need to better acquaint himself with the locals, so to speak. More and more he finds himself in this neck of the woods, to the great ire of his father; a man who not only has no idea of his son's true nature, but despises the notion that a de la Rocha could be seen in the company of such.. peasants. Noble birth and upbringing doesn't just fade overnight. Or after a couple of decades, it seems. Manuel isn't exactly eager to wade in these muddy waters, but for the good of 'his people', he is willing. And what better place to be 'one of the people' than a club? This is where the young people hang out these days, yes? He enters through the main doors, having taken great care not to touch anything unnecessary; alleyways are awful, dingy places to be forced to come in through.. nonetheless, once inside, Manuel stops to take a quick stock of the place, noting those who might seem important in some way, and taking in the general emotional tone of the room. That done, he walks purposefully toward the bar, a confident stride as if he owned the place, and raps his knuckle on the bartop to gain the bartender's attention. "Warm cognac. Martell, or Delamain, if you have it," he says, his voice carrying a faint hint of a Spanish accent.

The young man behind the bar is neat, and blond, and wearing a bowtie — he's also the owner, and a fine product of the Xavier Institute's education program for young mutants — but not that Manuel has any reason to know that. He listens to the request, and his expression screws up, before Doug looks to the bar behind him and says, "We only have VS Fine," Which is to say, it's Martell, but the cheap stuff, "And we don't have a warmer. Sorry, buddy." He puts his hands on the bar. "I have some really nice bourbon, hard to find outside of Kentucky?" Yeah, because it came from somebody's still out in the back woods. That's a perk of having a quarter of the Guthrie family working for you. Doug shrugs, and takes the newcomer in. Nuances of body language, accent…

It's not hard to read Manuel's attitude from his language, tone, and posture. He's not trying to hide the fact that he truly does think himself the better of most. It's more that he's trying very hard not to automatically rub it in their faces. He lets out a soft sigh, "If I wanted to drink bourbon, I would first ask you for something to numb my tastebuds," he says quietly. "If a VS is all you have, it will have to do, one supposes," he says. "Pity about the warmer. Then again, I can't imagine you have much need of it, in a place such as this." Not a lot of cognac drinkers in a dive. "Mostly beer and cocktails, I would think, yes?"

"Mostly." Doug admits. "We have to play to our audience," He says, "And not a lot of swells come to Mutant Town, unless they're brave and slumming it. Heck, you should've seen the place that was here before I opened the club. Talk about a dive. The owner finally got fed up and sold the place because one fireball got thrown at his head too many. Ah, by the way, we have a 'no fireballs' policy." He points to a board where there are some names written up of people who're banned from the club. Still, he gets out a snifter — after looking at the dust on it he cleans it first, anad fills it with a generous bit of cognac. "Douglas Ramsey, owner and proprietor, and tonight, the bartender. Welcome to Club Atomic. Only instrumental music tonight, our house singer is busy at his other job."

Manuel offers a quiet laugh at the 'no fireballs' policy. "That sounds like a fair request of your patrons. You needn't worry about that with me; I have no such means." He does, however, draw a cigarette from within his jacket, and a lighter. It's the sixties; everyone smokes. He lights the cigarette and places it between his lips, breathing in slowly before exhaling the smoke into the air. "A pleasure, Mister Ramsey. Manuel de la Rocha." The de la Rocha name may be somewhat familiar, if Douglas follows business news closely; it's not Stark or Shaw, but not a complete unknown. "How long have you been in business here, Mister Ramsey?"

"Ah." Doug says, "I know that name." He extends a hand in a firm grip. "A couple of months. We opened not long before Christmas. So far, business is good — we have excellent word of mouth advertising and I've been experimenting with some distribution of our house musician's sets via cassette tape recordings, so demand is slowly starting to grow." He puts his hands on the bar, and says, "What brings you all the way down here tonight, Mister de la Rocha?" His eyebrows go up, as he tries to suss out exactly what Manuel's power might be; it's certainly not obvious, but then, neither is his.

Manuel meets Doug's handshake firmly, holding only a few short seconds before releasing his own grip. "Glad to hear it. This area of the city is in dire need of rejuvenation," he says, nodding lightly in response to Doug's explanations. "Cassettes may be an easy way to distribute your man's art, but will it ever match the quality of a pressed record, I wonder?" He takes a drag from the cigarette, before tapping ashes into the tray, and resting the cigarette on its edge. He lifts the snifter to his nose, using hands to warm the bottom of the bowl as best he can. Shame about that warmer. A moment later, he takes a sip, and sets the snifter down again. No reaction to the drink, such that Doug would easily see he's forcing himself to show nothing. "My family doesn't invest where we don't know well. There has been some talk of expanding certain interests into the less.. affluent parts of town. Harlem. Hell's Kitchen. Mutant Town. A substantial investment here could go a long way to improving the quality of life for those who live in the area. Sadly, it is not up to me alone," he says. Doug may see that while it's not a lie, he isn't telling the whole truth about his reasons for 'slumming it'. "I'm hoping that becoming more familiar with the neighbourhood will give me the ammunition to make a stronger case for investment."

"Hmmmm. Well," Doug says, "The deck is stacked against Mutant Town. I'm considered to have privilege here, being a Smoothskin and all — that's Mutant Town patois, by the way. It means I'm a mutant that can pass for human." He mulls over that and then says, "The building prices here are the cheapest in New York, and so far it's resisted any kind of gentrification because nobody wants to live next to a Mutant. I don't expect that to last, but right now, it's the only thing giving a lot of people a breather. Consider that carefully, before your family starts buying things and fixing them up." He goes to pour a drink for someone else, and then says, "Things are tense, here. The NYPD runs things with a light touch because they're afraid of what might happen if mutants start a riot, but god help a mutant kid who gets caught alone by the cops. There are no saviors here, man. Just people clawing for their right to exist."

"Those of us who can pass are certainly more fortunate, considering the world we live in," Manuel says, picking up his cigarette again, and tapping a few ashes back into the tray. "Easing tension is my specialty," he says with the barest of smiles spreading across his lips. "But I understand the issue. Progress cannot come at the expense of those who call Mutant Town home. Ideally, we want to improve the lives and the circumstances of the mutants who are already here." Which is a more difficult problem to solve than to talk about. "Unfortunately, there is little financial incentive to do so. And like it as not, the money will always have the final word, yes?" Another sip, letting a tiny portion of the amber liquid flow over his tongue and down his throat. "There may be no saviours.. yet, or at least not currently. There have been some who claim the title. And a renewed interest in the name? Do you know much about the group who call themselves the Brotherhood?"

Doug considers this, and then says, "I think that Magneto is too extreme, and I think the Brotherhood would damn people by trying to save them. I align more with Charles Xavier," Doug admits, "But I think he moves too slowly, he's too reactive. Change will only come with growth, with visibility, with demanding a place in the culture and inserting ourselves as part of day to day life." After a moment's thought, he pours himself a beer, holding it just so to get only the right amount of head on it, and he waits a moment for it to settle, before he says "In other words, I suppose, dispensing with any linguistic flourish, I think both groups are right, and both groups are wrong."

Manuel listens, and offers a nod when Doug has said his piece. "Better to do too much than not enough, I think," he says, but offers little more explanation than that. "I must be off. Thank you for the drink, and the conversation, Mister Ramsey." He quickly takes down the rest of the cognac, and picks up his cigarette again. A hand draws a few bills from inside his jacket, and he places them gently on the bartop; easily enough to cover the drink, and then some. "Invest in a warmer, and stock a better bottle," Manuel advises. He plans to make this a regular thing, apparently.

Doug picks up the money, and looks at it, with a quirk of his mouth and a bemused expression in his eyes. "I'll get right on that, Mister de la Rocha. Have a good night." He strokes his chin, as he watches the guy leave, and says to himself, "Well, you knew when you opened this place trouble was going to cross your doorstep, Ramsey. Now what're you gonna do about it?"

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