|Synopsis||Harsh words from a stranger set Kian Fletcher straight.|
Distinctly different from the city that surrounds it, Chinatown is a tourist haven. Stores and restaurants are overly-abundant. The smells of sour pork and fresh fish float through the streets. Dead chickens hang in front of market windows. All cravings for dim sum or won ton soup can easily be fulfilled here. The streets are small and crowded, the sidewalks muddled with pedestrians. Signs and banners written in Chinese mark the dozens of small shops selling various souvenirs and genuine Chinese artifacts. Street vendors offer t-shirts, small Buddha's, and other trinkets to passer-bys in the hopes for one more sale.
New York is not San Francisco, nor is it Vancouver, but the hordes of immigrants who've set up shop here in the Big Apple have tried their hardest to outdo their predecessors. The sun burns hotly in the sky, casting dull shadows on steaming asphalt, and here and there, piles of refuse — leftovers from the afternoon dim sum crowd, no doubt — lend their distinctive sweet-savory flavor to the crashing din of a thousand excited tourists and a hundred thousand taxis and what must be a billion flies. Chinatown: it's the place to be.
The observant might notice one more voice in the crowd, a distinctive one — coming from a bouncer, it seems, a big, broad-shouldered fellow with a Yankees cap and G-Unit sweater, in whose grasp is currently held a small and wiry Asian man. "Just gotta make trouble, huh?" the bouncer snarls, speaking so loudly that he might as well be talking not just to this street but to the two streets immediately adjacent to Gold Fortune Bar. "You treat my boss like a bitch one more time, he's gonna make sure you never fuck again. Hear me?"
Kailin moves through the streets of Chinatown like a giant, towering over most of the people even moreso than he normally does. He moves with a very fluid motion, slipping by other pedestrians with deft movements as he wanders the Chinatown streets. His purpose for being there is fairly innocuous and not at all apparent, so he just seems to be walking, almost like a tourist, as his head turns from side to side with his light brown eyes hidden from view by reflective metal shades. His head turns in the direction of the bouncer and the smaller man and he continues walking, not interested in getting in the middle of the dispute.
The little guy's retort isn't audible, but whatever he says, it's enough to make the bouncer rear back on his massive, porky legs. Then, in one smooth motion, the massive guard flings his prisoner down four steps of stairs like a sack of refuse being thrown out for the night, a massive wad of saliva following in the offender's general direction. For his part, Kian Fletcher — yes, the short Asian has a name — tucks himself into a roll to spare himself the worst aspects of his fall. The ball of spit, for its part, seems to slow in the air before arcing down, straight down. Whether it falls on Kian or the giant that's coming this way, well. That's for Fate to say.
Kailin pauses in his walk in order to avoid getting him by whatever comes out of the bouncer's mouth. He instead, pauses to look up towards the bouncer, wondering if the man was just being careless or if he had really bad aim. He lets it go for now and looks down towards the man at the bottom of the steps. Having stopped, he's had his own little universe interrupted so he interjects into someone else's. "You alright down there? I wasn't aware that place up there had an express elevator to the ground floor."
Kian, alas, doesn't roll away in time, and the scruffy-looking man is given his second shower of the day. "Fucking prick," he snaps, his scratchy baritone actually dripping with disdain — the bouncer's spit got him right on the side of his mouth. "Should have expected better from a Yankees fan. Assholes, all." The stream of profanity pauses as Kian picks himself up off the street; then, it continues apace: "Just trying to get a job, yeah? In this goddamn market, I'll even work for that skidmark up there — " He laughs harshly, brown eyes sweeping up to meet the other man's gaze for the first time. "Fucked up my interview, I guess."
Kailin looks back tup to the top of the stairs and shakes his head . "Well, there are worse things to do than to work for someone like that. Alright, I would bet that being thrown down steps is a bit on the low end of standards for job benefits. But at least you came out alive." He seems to ignore everyone else and just stands there looking down towards Kian. "Seems like a ugy like that, working at a place like that have made the same type of deal before or the body he threw out was already dead." He shrugs lightly. "So you have that…"
Kian wipes his face with the back of his sweater, already stained this way to Sunday by errant drops of bleach, leftover General Tso's, and what looks to be — is that … toothpaste? Hey, don't look at him: laundry costs money. "Yeah," the man drawls. One stubby finger jerks toward three characters printed beneath the glittering golden sign. "Hip Sing Tong. These guys don't fuck around. Wanted me to shake down a couple of hos, see if they've been holding on to more cash than they're allowed. Too bad for them I don't fuck with women." There's that guttural laugh once more. "Not that way, at least." Then — "Where do you work?"
Kailin shakes his head to Kain and says, "I don't worry about working. i just make sure I ask for the things I want in a certain way and I never get turned away. Makes money a little superfluos. Besides it allow me to have plenty of free time watching people get thrown down steps." He glances around him and asks, "Are really things that bad that you'd come to a place like this and for work your fingers to the bone, just cause of money issues? That is not a way I'd reccomend going about it though. Better luck next time?
Kian looks up at the other man, eyes narrowing and then widening in disbelief. Then: "What the fuck," he says with a low whistle. Dexterous hands move to roll up the right sleeve of his jacket and reveal the pale skin of his upper arm. "See this here?" A skull and crossbones has been tattooed on his shoulder. On the skull's forehead is a clump of three bullet holes; behind the insignia is a large number 1 done all in red. "Semper Fi, motherfucker. I bust my ass for this country, get back and find out nobody wants me, even when I get into a suit and talk pretty." With a definitive snap of fabric, he pulls his sleeve back down. "Don't think you might find it in you to ask somebody in your very special way to employ me? Support the troops?"
"People won't ever appreciate the things others do for them until it is shown to them up close and personally. So thank youf for serving your country and all, but no one really cares. Not now." He shrugs lightly and adds, "I was a navy man myself, so I udnerstand the sentiment. Belive me. I know. A lot of people get way too frstrated over things like that. It isn't anonymous. Everyone sees us. They see that we're people. But they just don't care. And there's nothing you can do to make people care. That's an enitrely different story though from that to throwing someone down steps. You actually have to work at getting someone to do that. No matter how rotten and nasty they are. So… I'd say whatever you did to piss them off - stop that - and that will be a good start."
"Whoa, squid, whoaaa." Kian laughs once more — he does it a lot, though never with much humor — and moves to sit near the side of the street. He doesn't seem to care that he's about to plant his battered cargo pants on the remains of an eaten orange. "You a fucking officer or something? 'Check your temper, El-See,'" he intones, doing his best to imitate his team leader's reedy voice. "'You're being provocative.'" The man looses a spitball of his own, though this one is angled directly toward the gutter below his feet. He's got good aim, it seems. "Know what I told that worthless stain up there? Told him he needs me to service his girls cuz he can't, not with that needledick of his." His expression turns into one of injured innocence. "I was defending those girls, man. Step on a few toes on the way? Shiiiit. I'll take it."
Kailin shakes his head to Kain and just shrugs. "You asked me how to ask people in a certain way… I'm just saying. It starts with not pissing them off. Once you get to that part, you've already overstayed your welcome and tharted te clok on their patience. Clearly, some have a longer fuse than others." He motions towards the room he was thrown out of and says, "But I think you know once you say that that a likely result won't be pleasant. There's nothing to be learned there." He just shrugs and leaves it at that, not interested in elaborating. "So you're alright, then? You seem to be doing just fine."
"From the fall?" Kian snorts. "Iraq — " He pronounces it "eye-rack." " — didn't kill me, did it? Think that fat fuck over there could have done better than a million pissed off jihadis with guns? Seriously, man. This shit's child's play." One finger reaches to scratch the side of his face before it starts to toy with his earlobe. "Anyway, you sound like a guru. I want motivational speeches, I'll go buy a tape from Billy fucking Mays for nineteen ninety-five, may he rest in piece. But you're good with the talking, so. From one vet to another: know anybody who needs some muscle? Needs shelves stocked? Needs his ass scratched? Put in a good word for me, would ya? I swear to god I clean up good if I have to. You should see me in my dress blues."
Kailin just gives a shrug as Kain goes on. "I don't think I'd be able to recommend you to anyone I know. If you cleaned up, maybe but that has nothing to do with what you're wearing. If you run into someone named Wesley, you and him may get along well, but that's not good news for you." He pauses for a moment and shakes his head. "You're just a little too 'out there' for the people I know. Maybe you should work for yourself instead of trying to find someone else to work for. You'll get along with your boss better that way, I'm sure."
"Figures." Kian springs up from where he's been sitting, brown eyes narrowing in the glare of the sun before he shields them with an arm. For a moment, he thinks about just leaving, but — well, he can't leave without giving this fellow a piece of his mind. And so: "Too much to ask, huh, to throw in a good word at Mickey Dee's?" He doesn't bother to mask his contempt. "Military? You? Bullshit, I say. Go on and enjoy your circlejerk with your high and mighty friends." Only then does the man cracks a crooked smile. "And sorry for getting thrown on you."
Kailin rolls his eyes and says, "You asked me for a recommendation. I gave you an honest answer. I don't know you from the garbage on the street you got thrown onto, so why you think I owe you something, especially a reccomendation, is beyond me. But instead of accepting that you get pissy and insulting. That's a perfect example of why I wouldn't recommend you for anything." He makes a slight motion and continues, "So calm down, shut the fuck up, and stop insulting people you don't know. I haven't done anything to you. The last thing you need right now is a problem with me, so don't go looking for one."
"Did you just compare me to garbage?" Kian almost looks amused — almost. "You're the suspicious, self-righteous sort, eh. I get it, man, I really do. It's a big fucking city. Scary. So let's play it this way. You — " One finger extends from a balled fist and points toward the man's chest. "You say when you ask for things you get them? Go ask for my service record. Lance Corporal Kian Fletcher, First Recon Battalion, USMC. Some of that shit might be classified; I don't know. But that's all the references I got. All I need." He reaches behind him to wipe some orange peel off his pants, shaking his head. "Then maybe you'll see why I got in your face when you started slinging your condescending shit about how I'm too 'far out' just because I don't talk like Barack Fucking Obama. Marines don't like being spoken to like that."
"Or…" Kailin shrugs and offers an alternative idea. "How about I don't do anything, because I don't give a shit enough about you to even bother. It isn't my job to go out and look up your background because you want some ridiculous recommendation to god knows where. What I do know is that I don't give a shit about -why- you got in my face, only that you did. If you take offense to my opinions, then don't ask for my opinion. I just tried to be polite and check on you and all I got was shit for my trouble, so thanks but no thanks." He turns his back on the man and makes a brief dismissive gesture. "Its a shame things turned out like they did. Sorry your personality got in the way." He adds finally, "And don't try to use being a Marine as an excuse for being an asshole. It is a disgrace to everything you are suppoed to stand for you twisted piece of shit. Have some respect for your Corps, even if you have none for yourself."
"Whoo-o-a." Kian laughs again; he actually enjoys this sort of sparring. "Whatever happened to 'I'm a Navy man, I feel your fucking pain?" The nimble soldier sidesteps to bring himself into the other man's field of vision, a crooked smile on his otherwise plain face. "See, that's what I mean about you and your condescending shit. I get it, my man." His smile grows wider. "You don't like me. You're classy; I'm just scum. But open your eyes, man. Look around at this place." His hands make an expansive gesture, each one ending up pointing to trash, trash, and more trash. "You think I like being here, talking smack to some rando who thinks he's the very picture of duty, the nicest guy in the world? You think I wouldn't rather be in one of those fancy commercials, killing dragons with a big-ass sword looking all fly and shit? Some people don't get up on their own, man. They try — and then life gets them to sit the fuck back down." His point? "I'll get out of your perfect goatee, man, no worries. But not before you take that back."
Kailin looks back towards Kian with a crook of his head. "Marines have honor, not contempt. You may have used to be a marine, but clearly you've forgotten when it meant to wear the uniform. You've given up on everything, including yourself. You've missed the entire point of that commercial, my friend. It isn't promisin you that you can fight actual dragons when you become a marine. It is a metaphor. The dragon is life. It is anything bigger than someone can possible hope to face on their own. But a marine faces it anyway. The dragon is life forcing you sit the fuck back down. And instead of fighting it with all the things the Marines have tought you to be: this would be the metaphorical sword… Instead of fighting you've just given up." He puts his hands up and shakes his head. "If a Navy man has to explain that to a Marine, I'm afraid you're already in a darker place than I thought." He gives a brief wave and continues on, moving down the street.
"That shit is Zen, yo!" Kian doesn't bother pursuing, even though he probably could; even he has his limits, and pissing off two people in one hour, well — he'll count that as a win. But it's a more subdued Scion that heads off in the opposite direction, eyes downcast, boots kicking idly at stray scraps of trash that get in his way. And to himself, so only he can hear: "Never thought of it like that." Then, even quieter: "Well, fuck me."