This Sunday, the Daily Grind is featuring a poetry slam organized by some young enthusiast or another. Various folks are coming up to the microphone at the little stage area and reciting things that could loosely be called 'poetry'. If MySpace was still a thing, it would pretty much be MySpace land over here today. Frankie is not happy.
Darius steps into the room and then he frowns as he looks around dressed in his best G outfit wearing leather jacket purple shirt and jeans that are black as night all the stiching showing off his gang colors. On the back of the jacket is the logo for the kings with a shake of his head."What the fuck...."His voice is gruff and he quickly makes his way over towards frankie with a shake of his head."What the fuck is this?"
Frankie stands behind the counter, trapped for the moment and stuck with the hot pink apron, as usual. "It's a poetry event," she tells Darius, her tone weary and her shoulders slightly slumped. "And I use the term 'poetry' loosely."
"Well damn that is rough I mean I can leave you can't." Darius laughs softly watching her for a moment with a smile watching the room."So how long this shit going on for Frankie?" His eyes drift along all the sad little faces and then back to her own miserable face.
"Too long," is Frankie's mopey reply. "Can I get you anything? Coffee? Cookies?" She's standing behind the counter with her arms folded across her stomach, glaring daggers at the stage.
A young man comes up to the microphone dressed in various shades of gray. At least it's not black. "This poem is called 'Untitled'," he announces. Closing his eyes, he begins to recite:
"On this night, like every other night, tears burn your eyes.
There is no longer a purpose, nor even a desire to search for one.
Familiarity, is all.
Who you cry for is inherently unimportant.
Spill over your lashes; lick up the tracks.
Taste the adversity of paralyzing fear.
Sodium lamentation without a cause hits the mahogany dinette,
And its splash lands in your coffee.
You eat, sleep, breathe painless suffering.*"
"A bullet for him and then one for myself but beside that black coffee...." Darius watches and then it starts with a frown and a loud boo escapign his lips."That was awful man and why not just kill your fucking self." He walks towards the mic slowly with a smile."I mean honestly that was god awful."
"Bullets are not on the menu," is Frankie's flat reply. "Coffee, I can do." She uncrosses her arms and sets to work, punching the buttons on a machine.
The guy at the mic opens his eyes and blinks at Darius. Other patrons grouped around the stage also look over their shoulders at him. Some immediately drop eye contact.
"CHrist man and that is awful shit and life is worth living and death is not some party." Darius steps up slowly towards the mic and then he looks out over them."Wanna hear about pain and wanna hear about suffering let me tell you a story." He smiles out at them for a moment."How many of you little kiddos have heard of a city called Compton a quiet little part of a major city out west." His voice is soft into the mic and his eyes locking on to anyone glancing his way.
Frankie watches from the counter, raising a brow as Darius takes the microphone. The guy in gray, unable to retort, 'let's see you come up here and try' because there's Darius, who came up there and is speaking, slinks to the side. He mumbles something about haters. A dark-haired young woman beside the stage protests, "Hey, I'm next!" but someone shushes her, murmuring something about 'not getting capped'. Darius is kind of... well, intimidating looking, so he's got a highly uncomfortable but attentive audience.
At the counter, Darius' coffee continues to percolate.
"So here is a poem for you about the streets....."Darius watches them for a moment and then he starts in on the rap softly speaking briely a whisper till the end when it ends in a bang.
"The streets are cold and damp moist. They push one further into the hell as one does what they do. Trouble comes easily when your mothers turning tricks. Your father locked away no future for you. There is nothing but sling and hustles to make the day pass. Each day darker then the last. Then you meet a girl and she changes it all but then it happens bang bang bang. Time is served life is locked and what is it now but another moment in the sun."
As the poem ends and Darius claps his hand softly with a smile out at the crowd for a moment."Write about your life not about the things you think you feel. Life is hard yeah but try and find the positive don't let it drag you the fuck down got it." He steps off the stage slowly now walking over to his coffee picking it up sipping it slowly.
The various 'poets' look at each other. Some clap. Some even clap enthusiastically! One woman with braids calls out, "Keep it real, brother!"
Frankie passes Darius his coffee, giving him the price as well. "Autobiographical, that?" she inquires.
"Yeah it is and I mean I have always been open about my lfie." Darius pays slowly with his credit card and with a smile."I mean honestly it has been a rough journey." He writes down tip 100 bucks after paying for the coffee with a smirk."You know it's been a rough life but these kiddos think they have seen how bad it is you know." He then sips it slowly again with a shake of his head."So Frankie whats your story?"
Frankie punches the total into the little machine for him to use and passes his receipt when it's done. She's kind of doing it automatically, and when she finally spots the tip, she shakes her head. "I can't accept that. That is way too much. Also it doesn't buy my life story. Zero things do. This is why I usually remember not to ask people about theirs."
"Nah I was just curious is all and no the tip is out of respect you work here and you find out stuff for us and you have been sweet in your own way to me. I have more money then I know what to do with most of the time." Darius watches her for a moment and then he sips his coffee slowly."Not trying to buy your friendship or lifestory darling just trying to make this day a little better for ya." He watches her for a moment and then he looks aroudn the room for a momnet."But yeah take the tip please."
Frankie shifts her weight, still scowling some. It doesn't seem to be directed at him, which is something. "I'm really uncomfortable with that tip," she tells him in a mutter, blue-eyed gaze flicking to the stage. The poetry continues, and at least this one isn't about pain and suffering. Also, Darius has just reminded Frankie of something. "Kilo or Hoax mention the trip to the hospital at Newberry to you yet?"
"Nah what is going on and I'm always so out of the loop lately. Fine then and I'll erase it and tip reasonable and then hide money in the jar." Darius looks at her for a moment with a smile and then he watches the stage again for a moment."So then what is going on with wiredude as well."
Frankie glances behind him. No one waiting to order, so conversation - as long as it is kept low - is okay. She organizes a refund for him to redo this whole astronomical tip thing. "Damian and I want you, Kilo, and Hoax to come to the hospital at Newberry with us in case there's anything nasty there... like Wirehead, if that place is an anchor. We want to see if there are any leads there. Turns out James Wells - the Kabuki Killer guy - is one of these four Horsemen for the Sage, who wants to manifest in this world or something. We're working on figuring out the others, too."
"Fuck me and just fuck me....."Darius listens for a moment this tip only tiping 12 bucks something more reasonable at least in his mind."God damn and yeah I'll come with you and I'll make sure we all get out okay too. I mean that has been my role with those two in the past most likely for life." He then looks at her for a moment with a shake of his head."Not sure if it's good to bring Kilo given her current state and she is preggres it seems and but if she wants in I'll protect my sister."
"...Huh," Frankie says, blinking. "Didn't even think of that. Also didn't realize she was already pregnant." Frankie doesn't protest the twelve dollar tip, anyway. "Kilo might bring it up to you but I don't want you rushing into any fights if we can help it. I know it's your thing, but we want everyone coming back. Everyone. You have to know when to run."
"Nah my thing is to protect others to be honest and I just feel violence gets that done best." Darius watches her for a moment with a smile."Not sure if it has yet but it will happen soon you know. Is that how you see me some crazy violent killer?" He then watches her for a moment and leaning against the counter picking up the coffee slowly and taking a sip of it.
"I'd say 'enthusiastic' instead of 'crazy'," Frankie says after a moment's thought. "But, honestly? Yeah." She shrugs, shoulders rising and falling gently. It makes the appliquée flower on her apron sparkle.
Next up at the microphone is a dark-haired woman. "This is called, 'Followed'," she announces.
"I'm bein' followed by a moonshadow, moon shadow, moonshadow---
Leapin and hoppin' on a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow---"
Frankie immediately scowls, eyes narrowing, jaw clenching.
The woman continues,
"And if I ever lose my hands, lose my plough, lose my land,
Oh if I ever lose my hands, Oh if I won't have to work no more.
And if I ever lose my eyes, if my colours all run dry,
Yes if I ever lose my eyes, Oh if I won't have to cry no more."
"Nah I just want to protect those and I care about not many of em still standing or in this city." Darius laughs softly at the poem and then he looks at Frankie for a moment."But yeah I grow up in a bad place where violence never stoped and the only way out was to have cred and the way to get it was murder." His fingers on the counter softly touching it with a shake of his head."I'm trying to learn that it is not exactly the same out of here. Hard to teach a young dog new tricks you know."
"That is goddamn Moonshadow," Frankie mutters toward the stage. "Cat Stevens. It's a song." She seems kind of peeved about it, glaring anvils at the woman reciting it as her own poetry. Gaze flicking back to Darius, she nods, shrugs again a little. Her tone is actually a little thoughtful. "We all got second chances," she says, finally. "What we do with them is up to us. It's up to us to change."
"Very true and trying to work on mine." Darius watches her for a moment with a shake of his head."Fucking A that is pretty lame then and cat stevens is not my bag of tricks you know." He then looks over slowly towards the door."I need a smoke and you going to be okay on yoru own if I go? Or will you strangle one of this fucks?"
Frankie snorts, rolling her eyes. "Yeah, I can manage. I have some discipline. Also, I work here, so I'm not gonna strangle anyone. Just glare at them. A lot."
"Okay I'll be back and in a few moments." Darius steps outside to smoke a quick one and then after he finshes and he drops it on the groudn crushing it and then back into the shop. He walks towards Frankie for a moment with a smirk."Honestly and you are a good person to know you know a lot of stuff in this area." He then sips the coffee again slowly with a shake of his head.
Frankie seems kind of satisfied when he comes back, instead of irked. She even explains why. "That older gentlemen there called Copycat Stevens there out and told her to sit down," she says. "He is now enjoying free cookies." That said, she glances toward the door herself. "I try? Someone has to. Damian's helpful, though."
"Oh well that is a good made your day huh?" Darius laughs softly watching her for a moment and noding slowly."Ahh but I don't Damian that well and your the one I know Frankie." He then looks around slowly with a shake of his head."How often does this go down in here?"
"Kind of did, yeah," Frankie confirms, regarding the calling out of Copycat Stevens. Then she waffles a hand, non-committal style. "Now and again. We have some events. Sometimes there are bands and things. Ruby likes to encourage a community atmosphere," she says, her tone resigned.
"Thats a good thing and the world needs more community." Darius watches her for a moment with a soft little laugh."So then what do you do when not stuck at work? I mean I always see you here or in the other world." He then leans against the counter for a moment."Myself addicted to sci fi films from back in the day and old tv shows and running my business."
"I probably don't want to know what your business is," Frankie tells him, a touch on the stern side. And she shrugs again, folding her arms across her stomach. "I don't do much but work. Either here or on the other stuff."
"Well that sucks you know and damn back to being cold to me and I wonder if we will ever be friends." Darius laughs softly watching her fora moment with a wink at her."Also still in school trying to get my MBA and almost done with it."
"I didn't come back to make friends," Frankie says, gaze flicking back toward the door and lips pursing into a faint frown. Does she ever smile? "Good on you for the school thing, though."
"I didn't come back to make friends either and no one did but it is good to have Frankie everyone needs someone to have their back." Darius watches her for a moment with a shake of his head."But I have yours and I like you even if you don't get it or care. To me your a friend and if you ever need me my help call me got it."
Frankie stands behind the counter in the hot pink apron with the appliquée flower, the one she's usually stuck with. She's talking quietly to Darius while a poetry event is happening. She looks about as happy about it as one might expect. Arms crossed, feet planted shoulder-width apart, she does not looking welcoming at all. Maybe that's why there's no one in line. Maybe Darius is another reason.
"...Right," she's telling Darius. "I get it. I'd say thanks, but you're already getting into huggy territory over here."
"Nah I know better then to touch you and I bet you would cut me and also not big on feelings so that is the only time I'll fucking say it." Darius laughs softly watching her and then he looks back towards the potery for a moment."But yeah I want you to know where you stood with me and that is all. So god dammit how much longer this shit going on for fuck sake."
There's a very high chance Damian is not here for the poetry reading. He probably doesn't even know about it. Considering, however, he lives and works just up the streets, he's basically a staple here. A regular. His presence is about as common as Frankie's. Laptop bag strapped over his shoulder, he pauses just inside when he sees the events happening. He must have missed the flyer. There's clearly consideration there about leaving. There's other cafés, and the only thing that seemingly keeps him here, is spying Darius and Frankie at the counter. He approaches them, studying them both. You'd think a hot pink apron would somehow soften Frankie's expression. It obviously doesn't.
"In cases like this," Frankie tells Darius, "Time is subjective. So basically, forever." She says this quite matter-of-fact. This will go on for eternity.
Spying Damian, Frankie tips her chin toward him in greeting. "Can I get you something? Possibly to go, given the givens?" A vague gesture toward the area with the microphone, where a beefy looking guy is reciting a poem about how much he loves his daughter. The sentiment is nice. Too bad the whole thing is poorly written and saccharine.
"Yeah honestly been debating on bailing myself but honestly got nothing better to do with my time at the moment." Darius looks at Damian with a smile and then he looks around the room."Fucking A is it so hard to buy a rhyming dictorany or use google or some shit." He then shakes his head again as they listen to them try and do the potery of the moment."I mean christ so much going on with this can't belive they think this is a good idea or fuck sake."
Damian gives a nod to Frankie and then Darius, likely just in the order they both acknowledge him. It's Frankie he pauses on, at her question, giving a shrug. "Ah, it probably won't bother me that much." It could be a lie, but if he gets thoroughly into his work, he may very well be able to block it out. "Just a black coffee." He looks between the two of them. "And anything you two want, if you want something?" A brow raises slightly, but that's all that gets. They do or they don't. His attention turning back to Frankie, he notes, "I actually wanted to talk to you now that I think about it. Been a couple of developments?"
"It's art," Frankie says, tone so flat it's a prairie. And sarcasm. She does sarcasm well. She's standing behind the counter, pushing buttons on a coffee machine to prepare Damian's order. She's sporting a hot pink apron with a sparkly appliquee flower on the bib that is completely at odds with the rest of her clothing and demeanour. She glances from Darius to Damian, quirking an eyebrow. "Yeah? I just talked to Darius about Newberry, he's on board. What's up, or should I take a break for this?"
"Honestly it seems like and bad art not real art something made to hurt and torture." Darius shakes his head slowly watching it and then he sips the last of his coffee slowly."Can I get another coffee and use the same card Frankie." He hands it over slowly with a smirk and then looks aroudn the room slowly."But you know honestly this is a living hell and it's worse cvause I don't think I can leave yet and I have to see how bad it will get."
"Great." Damian nods to Darius at Frankie's words. He looks back to Frankie, resting hands on the counter as he leans on it a little. "And Kilo and Hoax?" She said to leave that to her, so he did. It's just a curious question. "If so, we should make plans to go, soon?" Her other question though, gets a shake of his head. "You don't need to, I didn't mean to interrupt your work. Was just making a note. Whenever you have time." He seems to have put the poetry reading completely out of his mind.
"Mhmm... well, that is very unfortunate for you, Gerald." Tegan pushed through the door with her phone pinned between shoulder and ear, tone matching the look of sheer boredom. "And also why I told you not to do it." The redhead was in a white linen summer dress that seemed to have been tailored to her, with bright blue heels and Fendi handbag. Her tone turned impatient suddenly, eyes narrowing. "Well, you shouldn't." Then impatient to ice cold, gaze sweeping the room. "If you were telling her these things instead of me she may not be divorcing you. I would suggest you try that instead of continually professing your unrequited love to me. It's exhausting." A smile broke through the irritation in her expression when she spotted Darius, and her tone went distant. "I have to go, Gerald. Goodbye." He likely didn't have a chance to reply before she ended the call and started toward the three.
Frankie passes Damian his coffee, naming the price. He's probably familiar with the cost now. She sets to work on Darius' second coffee in the meantime. "Yeah, Kilo and Hoax, too. Well, Kilo. And it's less interrupting work than interrupting torture," she notes.
Case in point: "Desire, I'm on fire," recites a stout, middle-aged woman. She looks like somebody's mom. "Take me into your twilight embrace, nothing makes my heart race, like you - my moonlight visitor, my stern boudoir inquisitor..."
Frankie's left eye twitches.
Dairus is lost in the talk not noticing his ex yet and for the moment just grabing his coffee slowly after it is finshed."Thank you Frankie." Then he hears the voice spinning around quickly his eyes cold for a moment watching her and his hand at the side of his belt and the one with the coffe softly squezzing it."Hello Tegan." His voice is cold and then he lifts the drin kto his lips sloswly and taking a sip of it watching the poetry behind her with a shake of his head.
Damian knows the amount and he has exact change, but he makes the point of putting a few extra dollars in the tip jar with the briefest hint of his strange little half-smirk. Anyone witnessing that probably would think Frankie brow beat him into that, or he's crazy. "Thanks." He picks it up, but just blows on it a little. "Great. So planning then. I feel like James might be there, maybe?" A shrug though, he's great at completely blocking distraction out, still his gaze goes to the poetry as she comments on it. Unlike Darius and Frankie's disdain, Damian's expression never changes. That's not uncommon, though. "Up to you then." It's only Darius's reaction to the newcomer that makes Damian turn to look himself. There's faint recognition there. Tegan. Did he know that, or did Darius saying it help him remember? Hard to say. He gives her a nod.
"Darius." A smile settled into place as Tegan neared and tucked her phone onto her bag. "How are you?" Her eyes flickered up to the menu board, to Frankie, to Damian, and finally rested on Darius again as her head tilted just a bit.
Frankie glances from Tegan to Darius and back, brow slightly furrowed. "Can I get you anything?" she asks Tegan as she passes Damian his coffee without so much as a glance toward the tip jar. "Sec," she murmurs to him. She's got an order to fill. Maybe.
"Good and you...."The voice of Darius is still cold and then he sips his coffee and his other hand playing with the bullets on his belt slowly watching her for a moment."Yeah if you want something it's on me Tegan." He then looks back at Frankie with a soft smile mouthing the words Ex-Girlfriend at her and then he looks right back at Tegan for a moment."Whats been going in your world?"
Damian steps to the side a bit, giving Darius and, more specifically, Tegan room that counter, a bit of a nod to Frankie. Acknowledgement of her statement. He scans the lace briefly, though eyes flicker between Darius and Tegan. Does he detect any tension? If he does, there's no real reveal. He's silent and all but invisible.
Tegan slid her gaze to Frankie again. "Large quad Americano, please." Her fingers flexed and curled as she looked to Darius again. "USFSA has asked me to judge, and apparently there is some hostility that I am unaware of, since I was under the impression we'd left things open. I'll buy my own coffee, thank you though. No need to feel obligated." The word was nearly spit out as if it were offensive.
"Not hostility to be honest and just shocked...." Darius watches her for a moment with a smile and then he exhales slowly into the air."I mean honestly we have not seen each other since it ended and I don't know how you felt." He looks at the others for a moment and then he sighs softly."I need to go talk with this young lady and you two have a great day." He waits for her order to be filled and then he walks towards the door slowly and waiting out front for her.
Black coffee, another black coffee, black coffee again, and now an Americano. Also: Darius' ex-girlfriend, apparently. Frankie nods, beginning with the espresso machine. Americanos require brewing an expresso, but with more hot water. The drink is made, the total announced to Tegan.
Frankie pauses to lean to one side and bark toward the back room, "Tamara! I'm taking a break!" It startles a performer. Frankie's voice carries really, really well.
Tegan didn't move right away, waiting until she had her coffee and then waiting a couple of seconds more. Strong, independent woman, blah blah blah. When it was clear she was choosing to follow she did so, handing Frankie a twenty for the coffee before heading out. (thanks!)
Damian nods to Darius and then Tegan. "Take care." He watches the two of them go, and for whatever reason, shakes his head at the whole ordeal. He might even look briefly skyward. Then Frankie's yelling and Damian is looking her way, suddenly remembering what he's doing. "So, uh, table or out back?"
"Up..." Frankie starts to say, but then her co-worker - presumably Tamara, who has snagged the red apron - arrives, and Frankie amends, "...Back." Up back. Is that a thing? Frankie steps out from behind the counter, waving for Damian to follow her through to the back room. Once she's there, she glances about the little lounge area and the door to the manager's office, presently unoccupied. That's where she leads Damian, closing the door behind him. "Ruby's not supposed to come in until later," she explains. "So, James?"
* Teen Angst Poetry