1965-09-01 - The King Maker
Summary: After a job, Ambrose and Arlo decompress at a bar.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
arlo ambrose 

Another night, another job. Arlo prefers the nighttime anyway. Fewer people around. Less bustle, it's quieter. He looks innocuous enough holding up a light post while he shoves his hands in his pockets and looks bored. It's only somewhat affected. There really is nothing going on tonight.

"No cops," he murmurs, and Ambrose hears it as if he were saying it, because Arlo is loaning him his hearing. "You could dance the watusi right out the window and no one would notice."

A little flinch at the sudden appearance of his lookout's voice as if the young man were right beside him, but Ambrose manages not to react further but for a long and soft sigh. The last of the pottery shards goes into a small dime-bag padded with thin but sturdy squares of styrofoam and he seals it. White-gloved hands carefully squirrel it away within his knapsack before he turns back to the glass-topped drawer.

"Thank God I've no interest in doing such a thing," he murmurs back, knowing that Arlo can likely hear him. "Recovery complete. I'll be down shortly." He turns and leaves the small office, careful not to bump into the short wicker basket tucked next to the oak-wood desk. "Should we slip from here entirely in the clear, drinks are on me," he then reports as he moves to the half-open window. He'll need to scale down the drainpipe of the two-story house, but nothing new or terrifying in that.

"Can you even do the watusi?" Arlo asks with a wry grin. He pats his coat down, then stops himself. When he's got his senses piqued like this, cigarettes are overwhelming. His fingers twitch, but he settles down. "We're good to go," he says. "All the action must be somewhere else tonight."

He glances toward the house, and he's got the sidelong glance of a natural flirt, even when he's not thinking about it. "Come on, I'll even let you pick the bar."

"How kind of you to allow this, but I'll have you know that I was going to a specific place whether you liked it or not," informs the Jackal of his lookout. Carefully, he eases himself out onto the windowsill and then works to align himself on the vertical piping. "If you'd rather come along, then do — if not, once we're out of sight and out of mind, you may also be the same."

Down the drainpipe he goes and Ambrose lands on the grassy lawn with a gentle thump. He pauses, listening into the night, but no one cries havoc or releases the dogs of war. "…what on God's green earth is the watusi?" he then asks, frowns meeting even as he skirts away along the fenceline in the shadows. He's headed for the alleyway two blocks down, beside an old grocery store long since closed — the proposed post-burglary meeting place.

"Right, the control issues. I keep forgetting," Arlo says with amusement in his voice. "I don't care where we go, boss." He turns toward Ambrose after he lands on the grass. "It's a kind of dance," he says. He pushes off the lamp post and heads over to meet up with Ambrose.

Speaking outside of Ambrose's head, he says, "I'm not sure if anyone actualy does the watusi anymore. I'll get right on finding that out." He keeps his senses on alert. It's professional courtesy while the Brit has hot items on him.

"If you must look it up," replies Ambrose, almost sounding bored as he sees the young man approaching. He's now doing his variant of a lazy lean against the grocery's brick wall, his pupils catching the lamplight on the street beyond in brief flashes of nightshine-red. "Well done then, cockerel. Drinks are indeed on me. Here, come along."

He turns and walks down the alley, intending to skip a street. It appears he's going to keep said hot items on his person during this field trip. Confident in himself? Absolutely.

Arlo falls into step with Ambrose. He keeps his ears open, and Ambrose's choice of path isn't problematic so far as he can sense. "What do you like to drink?" he asks. "Before you get defensive, I'm just making conversation, not trying to delve or get close."

Even in the dark, he can see little details in the alley, and he sidesteps broken glass, a mysterious stain, and keeps an eye on a sleeping bum they pass. "Erf, his heartrate is not good," he mumbles.

"No doubt he'll wake up in the morning hung-over, one way or another." Ambrose gives the bum a slanting glance and then shakes his head as he walks on. "The nights are warm yet. No one is going to freeze to death." He says all this so nonchalantly. He too side-steps an empty, half-crushed soup can and then looks over at Arlo.

"Good gin, if they have it. Otherwise, a dark stout, the darkest on keg. I've no interest in dyes or sugars in my liquor. Unnecessary. It's for imbibing and getting drunk." No fun fuddy-duddy in full swing.

"Yeah, I don't want to be him," Arlo says. "Good gin," he echoes with a crooked smile. "Neat." Is that a drinking joke? "I'm not all that picky." Not that Ambrose asked. "When I'm dressed for it, I like fruity drinks, but when I'm not, anything's fine."

After watching Ambrose for a moment, he laughs and shakes his head. "You're so serious," he says. "I know, I know, you've got your reasons. It's just kind of funny."

The master-thief gives Arlo a lingering look before he pauses at the mouth of the alley. He holds up a fist, classic silent military motion to pause, and leans out to look both directions.

"Clear," he murmurs before stepping out and assuming a practiced air of well-traveled local. "I do have my reasons. Why, shall I tell you a joke? No doubt you'd laugh even if I botched the punchline." Ambrose is headed towards the far corner of the street, where a vertical sign touts "The King Maker Pub". "Perhaps a knock-knock joke. Those once took the parlors by storm."

Arlo has never been anywhere near the military in his life, but sheer confusion causes him to stop, and he eyes the gesture, then eyes Ambrose and shrugs as if to say 'what.' Then he's given the clear, and he says wryly, "Yeah, I know."

He falls into step beside Ambrose, but takes care not to touch. "I'd laugh especially if you botched the punchline," he says. "Were you around when knock-knock jokes were invented?"

The Brit rolls his eyes, but replies almost flatly, "Yes, Avery, I was around when they were invented — or at least, when they came about again. They're like comets, you see, and we're forever doomed to at least one reiteration before a collision with polite society brings them to an end." He clears his throat and sighs. And then tries again. "Knock…knock."

"Yeah, if I ever meet polite society, I'll be sure to tell it not to mess with the classics. Wow, so you really are old." Such respect from today's youth. "You don't look it. You do sound it." Then he quiets down long enough to let the poor man start his joke. With a dubious glance, he says, "Who's there."

There's a long enough pause in that Ambrose returns that dubious glance. He eyebrows at the young snark before continuing to walk down the street, hands in the pockets of his dark jacket.

"Joe King," says the Jackal almost airily. "And it's all good blood," he deadpans in regards to youthful features despite venerable age.

Arlo says, "Who's Joe King?" He's already laughing, because he gets it. He looks Ambrose over. "Good breeding, huh?" He smiles crookedly and shakes his head, turning his attention to the path ahead.

"I allegedly come from good breeding, but you wouldn't know it." Though if he got a haircut and dressed the part, he could look quite well-to-do. In a t-shirt and jeans, with hair long enough he can do it up in finger curls? Not so much.

"No, I would not know it," the master-thief agrees without sparing Arlo a glance. He knows precisely what the young man wears now, even in the relative darkness between cones of golden lamplight. Old mind games keep memory sharp. As they reach the short set of stairs leading down to the front door of the King Maker Pub, he finishes the joke. "I'm not Joe King when I say that this type of humor used to be considered a sickness." Tap-tap-tap-tap, he makes his way briskly down the stairs and simply opens the front door. No bouncer on guard. Good news or bad?

Arlo nods and says, "Oh sure. Not a shiksa or shegetz in sight for at least four generations, going back to the Old Country. My mother's very proud." Then he laughs at the punchline and follows down the stairs. "You're so stiff and proper. Then he puts on his game face, looking aloof and a little irked, just in case anyone thinks about committing the crime of looking at him wrong.

No bouncer without, but within, yes. A broad-shouldered man with greying hair comes around the corner, glossy wooden baseball bat in-hand. His ferocious glower shifts quickly into recognition and then something almost akin to guilt.

"Mister Traceur, good evening," he rasps, careful to keep the bat alongside his leg. "Mac'll pour you your usual pint.

"Thank you, Gregory," replies Ambrose in his most proper and crisp accent. His grin is cold. "Carry on." Gregory the bouncer nods and gives Arlo a suspicious squint, but drops interest quickly afterwards. There must have been some discussion between the man and the Jackal at some point…probably a terse reminder to stay out of his business. The brunet travels over to the bar and takes up a seat. An imperious snap-snap and he says, "Stout, Mac — and whatever the lad wants. On my tab."

Arlo gives Gregory a look of youth-driven disdain. He looks about as dangerous as any growling pup might. So fierce! He doesn't make trouble, though. He follows after Ambrose. He takes a seat beside him, and keeps his gaze fixed straight ahead, though he lets his peripheral vision gather details, along with his ears and nose. He's vigilant, but he looks like he couldn't care less.

"I'll take what he's having," he tells Mac. He then tells Ambrose, "Stout's pretty good. I take it it's English, not German."

"Indeed, it's English. If memory serves me right, the name originated from the 'stout porter', a darker beer that had strength to it. Took longer to spoil and sometimes grew stronger with age. It longer means 'strong', but continues to have connotations to dark beer," Ambrose explains with quiet brisk intonation. "I wouldn't drink anything German if I can help it."

Mac the barkeep, Italianate of complexion and full of thin smile, arrives with their drinks. A pint for each, apparently, chilled and runneled down the side of the hefty glasses. The drinks are set down and Mac then drifts away, wiping his hands on the bar-towel tucked into his belt. "To a successful endeavor and more yet," says Ambrose softly as he lifts his drink and then sips at it.

"Not even German beer?" Arlo says. "That's what they do. But yeah, we're not big fans of the Germans either. The Brits are okay, though." He glances at Ambrose. "We're probably mad at the Germans for different reasons, since you were probably there when Germany was invented."

He smiles at Mac, because Mac is bringing him alcohol, and that makes Mac a good person. He takes up his pint and says, "To all that." Then he takes a drink. A long one. He's a thin scrap of a youth, but putting away alcohol? That he can do.

Ambrose scoffs. "I was not there when Germany was invented. What in the bloody hell are they teaching children these days?" He's apparently not going to expand further on the history of Germany, like as not knowing the answer and in a proper pique at being called 'old' yet again. "Ignoring your schooling. Wasting your lives on drugs. No wonder there's concern," he grumbles, disappearing into his drink again. He looks through the bottles of display behind the bar, idly noting their names and remembering what he can of each in turn.

Arlo laughs at Ambrose's scoffing, and he shakes his head. "I told you, I dropped out." He then points out, "I only use drugs to medicate. For my headaches, and getting overwhelmed, to dull everything down. I've hung out with people who get high for kicks, and they're usually really boring. All they know how to talk about is getting high." He wrinkles his nose. Snoresville.

He grins into his pint, commenting, "You do sound old, though. I keep expecting you to say 'whippersnapper' and 'kids these days.'" His shoulders shake with silent laughter.

"I'm not about to call you a 'whippersnapper'. That is an American turn of phrase." And ew, apparently. Ambrose takes another huge drink of his stout, visibly decreasing its volume, and then licks his lips. "I don't recommend gadding about. Learn while you're young, one way or another. See the world. Don't keep to your bower and laze." He glances over at Arlo, his gaze moderately intense. "You never know when it's all going to change, possibly for the worst."

"Yeah? Where am I going to go?" Arlo asks. "On whose dime? Besides, I already live in the greatest city in the world." He takes a drink, then licks his lips. "I don't know what gadding about is, but I'm pretty sure I do it for you while keeping my ears open. I guess it's different if it's a job."

He considers Ambrose through lowered lashes. Even at a bar, he sits poised, his posture right. "It did change," he says, "definitely for the worst. And you know what? I was a good boy. I studied hard, and I minded my Ps and Qs. I did everything right. It doesn't save you."

Ambrose smiles at the young man, but it's more cold and knowing than sympathetic.

"Sometimes, it does not save you. But it sure as hell keeps you alive once the clouds pass — or if the storm lingers. Going to lie there and bleed out then? Or are you going to get up and possibly get a haircut at some point?" He takes another huge drink of his stout and sets it down. A soft burp and he then mutters, "You're not gadding about. You have a proper job in it. Society just might not bloody like it."

Arlo snorts and says, "You know why I don't want to cut my hair." He takes another drink, shooting Ambrose a bland look. "It's the same reason I don't give a damn what society thinks about my job. Society and me don't get on so well."

He trails a fingertip along the rim of his glass and says airily, "Then again, I doubt you'd know anything about that. You're so proper and allergic to fun."

"When you've been alive as long as I have been, your idea of fun greatly differs from society's expectations." The Jackal says this so quietly that only Arlo would be able to hear it; otherwise, it's simply his mouth moving, as if he were whispering to himself. He looks into the depths of his stout before wrinkling his nose. "Enjoy yourself as you can, Avery. Even now, you've the ability to appreciate your youth. It looses its luster after a few decades."

Arlo arches a brow, then leans in and says in a low tone, "So what your'e telling me is that you're into the really weird stuff?" He upnods, adding, "Don't worry about it, man, your secret's safe with me." He taps the side of his nose, then nods solemnly. Leaning back, he smiles lazily and adds, "Yeah, I don't see me getting old enough for youth to lose its luster, but that's okay."

"Puh." The older man leans against the back of his barstool, giving Arlo a flat look. "'Really weird stuff'?" He mimics the American accent to a fairly appreciable degree, though he still can't lose the subtle tightness of intonation. "And what do you think that qualifies as in my case? Serial murdering? Dressing goats in flannel? Cross-stitching as I hang upside from my toes? Go on. Indulge me," says he, gesturing aside with an open palm in invitation.

Arlo holds up a hand and says, "Don't look at me, ya creep. I'm just a good Jewish boy from the Upper West Side. I wouldn't even begin to imagine what the weird stuff is." He keeps his voice low, inviting no one else to the conversation and keeping alert for signs of people poking their noses in. It's more fun to tease if there's only the threat of being caught, not the actual deed of it. "There's guys in the Village into whips and chains, leather and rope. Wouldn't touch them with a ten foot pole, but I don't judge." He gestures to himself. "Now me? I'm a harmless freak. I don't even like people touching me."

"…I suppose that I meant hobbies rather than bedroom proclivities, but…the more I learn," murmurs Ambrose as he turns back to his stout. Down the hatch it goes, all the rest of it, and he taps his empty pint glass on the bartop twice. "Mac — another round." He shoves the glass towards the barkeep as he arrives and then rests an elbow on the smooth surface, his jaw otherwise taking up his hand.

"Tell me about it" Arlo says. "It takes all kinds, I guess." He finishes off his glass and adds it to Ambrose's, adding in a chipper tone, "His tab." The youth is shameless.

"I can't figure out what hobbies you have," Arlo says. "The idea of you enjoying anything is weird to me. I don't know, do you like chess? Reading books? Sitting in the park and making scathing commentary about other people's happiness?"

Mac arrives and rescues the empty glasses. When he's stepping away, Ambrose brings his attention away from the man's back and to the young man beside him again.

"You have no idea how entertaining it can be to commentate on the plebeians of this city. Once, I made an old woman laugh so hard that her dentures fell out and onto the sidewalk. I had to pick them up before the pigeons pecked at them. They fell amidst the scattering of popcorn she'd laid out," the Brit informs Arlo levelly.

"You," Arlo says, "made someone laugh. On purpose." As if he didn't already laugh at one of Ambrose's jokes today. "That must've been pretty funny, though, her teeth falling out. I think I would've laughed harder at that." He sweeps his hair from his face with a flick of his hand. "Wasn't she a bit young for you, though?"

Mac shows up with their second round of stout and saves the master-thief from immediately responding. He gives the barkeep a silent nod of appreciation. The stout is just as dark and creamy, with its enjoyable bite, as the first time around and Ambrose drinks deeply before setting the glass down again.

"It was funny…and she could have given you pointers on dressing," he replies blithely, curling a smirk at Arlo.

Arlo's brows lift, and he raises his glass to Ambrose. "All right, all right. That wasn't bad. Of course women these days can show ankles, I don't know if you knew." He grins at that smirk. "Okay, so you're funny. You've got that going for you. Me, not so much. The one thing I could still do, if I had any talent, is show biz, but wouldn't you know it? New York's only unfunny Jew." He shrugs a shoulder. "What can you do?"

"You do as you can." Now Ambrose is slouching rather heavily into the palm of his hand, his other fingers still clasped about his sweating pint glass. "What can you do? Roll over and die? No. No, that would be the coward's way out. But me, funny? Droll. Cold. Rarely am I called funny." More stout goes down. It's going to be a two drink night here, bare minimum.

"Nah, you're definitely funny. Quick on the uptake." Arlo takes a drink. "I'm not going to say I plan to roll over and die, but I do sometimes wonder what the point is. We're born, we get old, we die. There's no real meaning to any of it. Mind you, now that I've got some money coming in and I'm not worrying constantly how I'm going to keep a roof over my head, I plan to relax a little and enjoy what I can, but…" He shrugs and takes a drink. Then another drink, because apparently he's decided stout is delicious. "But in the end, none of it matters."

Ambrose snorts. "Then you've already given up, if that's your take on things. Live, Avery. Do whatever the hell you want, if nothing matters. Risk your life with me as my watchman or go risk it on the street…or don't risk it at all. Live. Stop being the wet blanket." Back to his drink he goes. Now he tips it back and begins swallowing. Down and down and…down and…down it goes, the motions as mechanic as only long-practice can imbue. Once the pint glass is empty, he sets it down. Another soft burp and a sigh.

Arlo eyes Ambrose. "So you, Mr. Sunshine, think there's a purpose to all this?" He gestures vaguely. "You're the most cynical person I know. So tell me, what does it all mean? I'm all ears."

As for danger and whatnot, he waves it away. Still young enough to assume nothing really bad will happen, despite claming he has no plans on getting old.

The brunet lifts his other hand and waves it, his expression now slack and heavy-lidded as he considers the line of bottles across the way on the far wall.

"Of course there's a purpose. If I had divined it, I would tell you. But I haven't…not even after all this time. Ask your winged friend perhaps." His free palm slaps down on the bartop and he blows a sigh, lips flapping briefly. "If he's any parts truth, he'll know."

"He's not much of a talker," Arlo says with a crooked smile. "But yeah, I guess if anyone had the answer, he might know. Whether he's supposed to say is another matter. Then again, I'm pretty sure he's not supposed to be doing half the stuff he does."

He sighs softly, then takes a heavy drink from his glass. "I used to think we were here to know God, but I don't know anything anymore. But what the hell, I'm still kicking."

"Indeed you are. I'm here of my own devices. To each their own in turn, I suppose," the Jackal muses to himself, most definitely borderline drunk. Lifting up his hand, Ambrose signals to the barkeep. He reaches into the back pocket of his fatigues, leaning forwards on his bar stool to do this, and fishes out a thin wallet.

"Keep the change, Mac. Excellent pour as always," and he hands out a number of bills far more than necessary to cover drinks as well as tip. "And if you see this lad, he's one of mine. You let the regulars know this. I shouldn't need to repeat myself." The barkeep nods solemnly and silently before looking beyond them to Gregory by the door. Apparently, given the following silent nod from the bouncer, there will be instructions later. "So." Rotating on his bar chair, Ambrose considers Arlo. "Do you need to walked home or are you scrappy enough to keep yourself alive for another day yet?"

Arlo finishes off his glass, and he gives Mac a solemn nod, then turns to Ambrose with a lazy smile. His eyes are glassy from inebriation, and his movements are fluid as he pushes himself away from the bar. "Aw, if I didn't know any better, I'd say you cared about me." He waves a hand and says, "I've gotten myself home more messed up than this. Go forth, and I'll see you next time you need me."

"You're useful, Avery. Don't get ideas." On that note, Ambrose waves the young man away dismissively, slouching once more in his bar chair. He'll wait until Arlo is entirely gone and then another ten minutes yet before departing from the King Maker Pub. His knapsack has contents that need proper processing. After all, someone plans to pay dearly for the pieces of pottery back in the Fertile Crescent.

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