Cooperative: This story is coordinated by Laveaux. It is open to any new writers with characters alive during the year 1947 and have access to Washington D.C.. The coordinator asks that any writers that do join the story, complete a character description in accordance with this article. Note that writers can only write for their characters, the coordinator will write for all other characters and events. Use the talk page if you have questions or suggestions.
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Giovanni looked at himself in the reflective pool, it was hard not to shake his head as he looked into his soft green eyes. He still wasn't quite moved out of his school yet. Well, actually, he carried nearly everything he owned with him.
His guitar strapped to his back, he shifted it's weight slightly uncomfortably, "Almost everything." He said aloud, but to himself, not like anyone out here would stop and look twice at him.
Giovanni, knew his father was right, he should have left the damn thing in Wisconsin, but when he thought about it. It was the only thing he ever bought with money he earned himself. Everything thing he wore, the guitar on his back, shoes on his feet, were his parents.
Giovanni, or Johny, as some called him knew that thing wouldn't be the easiest to move out here. He knew he wouldn't have a car for awhile, moving a rifle through the streets of D.C. didn't need the education in Political Science to know what he did--he was hoping on living a long life.
He needed a place to stay, but more importantly a job, otherwise a place to stay wouldn't do him any good if he would starve.
The only hotel he knew of was far out of his price range, he was never really in the buisiness of the staying at motels or hotels.
He was in a spot, that much was obvious, and he had to do something about it.
Giovanni took off his fedora and placed it on the ground, and he sat on the ground, and pulled his guitar in front of him.
Even though he wasn't very good, it usually drew enough stares. The first person he would see, he would ask about a motels, or a job. He didn't need the spare change.
The guitar playing drew a rather nervous-seeming man, his eyes looking around as if peering for the spies that doubtless lurked around every corner. From the looks of things, he was about forty years of age, at least. Hair was simple and his suit was a rather hap hazard affair, obviously arranged piecewise. From the looks of it, the stranger hadn't eaten in days- his hair was dissheveled and his eyes were surrounded by dark circles. Paranoia and classic symptoms of mental illness could be seen in every inch of his face. There was the skin-itching of a heroin addict, the vague facial twitching and overzealousness of a man who has been involved in cociane or is on anti-depressants.
"You play a mean guitar, my good man." Eyes looked intently at Giovanni, as the man scratched at his face a bit. Hands reached quickly into his pocket, withdrawing a small clip of money- looking to be about fifty dollars, from the thickness of the wad- and throwing it in front of the musician. "Play for me a little longer. They're coming close. They think they know how the Spiegel works... they're wrong. HAH. They're wrong. Benjy'll get them yet... you just wait." He turned around and seemed to once again return to the rapture of his paranoia. "Yes. Play me something sweet and calm."
The man continued to twitch, the wad of money resting inside the fedora.
Giovanni, under a normal circumstance, probably wouldn't have accepted that much money for playing in the mall. Unless it was some big-fish, looking to impress, then he would probably pocket the money, and then play. He was always a small town fellow, but had lived here for almost two years now, it becomes easier to know that big-fish might just be pulling that wad right back out once the person he wanted to see it, saw it.
This was different, something wasn't right about this mess in front of him. So he made no moves toward the money, and just kept playing the slow simple tune he had been. For a few seconds he just played with his tounge in his cheek, but after a moment, he felt the need to speak though his heart was racing a little bit.
"Give over, buddy." He said still looking down, his eyes off the money clip and just staring at the ground at this point. "I ain't that good, not really good at all. But I'll keep playing smooth and calm, and maybe you should take it in."
He continued to play the bare bones of ballad he had on the radio a lot when he first moved here, mostly just melody but he would throw in the chords that he had figured out.
Giovanni would play until the guy stopped looking around like a ghost was after him, even though he was pretty sure the fellow would be twitchy for years to come--but he would play until the ball dropped for fifty bucks. When the fellow would come down Giovanni's curisoity would get the better of him.
"So, you can got a thing for shaky ballads early on New Year's Eve night?"
The stranger remained, back toward Giovanni, scratching at himself nervously, that wad of money- bound by a silver money clip- resting in the cap and glinting in the lighting of the mall. There was no response for long moments as the guitarist made his queries, before at last the man responded. "I just want to hear something sweet and relaxing before... well... before they get the better of old Benjy. Just play for me, kid. Play for me..." Twitching fingers lifted the man's jacket as he turned toward the musician, revealing a pistol- a six shooter, from the looks of it- nestled into the man's belt. "Play. I don't want no trouble."
For long moments the man simply stood and swayed in time with the music, gazing up and down the mall, still suspicious and still twitchy. No sooner had Giovanni asked his question than two suited men separated themselves from the crowd and slithered like serpents toward 'Benjy', as he called himself. The apparent druggy didn't make a move, acting as if he'd not seen them at all, though it was rather obvious what they'd come for- they stood at either side of the stranger, revealing something in their inner pockets- likely a firearm of their own- before speaking. One of them was tall and rather dashing- all business and wearing a fedora with a feather in it. The other was much smaller and looked almost like a rat in both his appearance and demeanor. "Ballads are lovely... soft and sweet, just like that.. mmm..." whispered Benjy, his eyes fixed straight ahead.
"Come on, Spiegel. We ain't got all day. You know what they decided. You've got debts. Big time debts." These words spoken by the more assertive man, his eyes cool and dark, colored thickly with the accent of a fober. "Just come on, nice and easy..." he trailed off, placing a re-assuring hand on the man's shoulder, which was quickly shrugged off. The other figure, the rodent, leaned in close of his own accord and whispered words that Giovanni could not make out. Grudgingly, the twitchy fellow bowed his head and smiled, facing toward the musician as he passed, being led forcibly by the other two fellows.
"You have a nice night, kiddo. Don't spend it all in one place." A smirk, knowing and almost frightening in its intensity, lit upon Benjy Spiegel's countenance, and then he was gone- the three muttering between themselves hurriedly, and in hushed tones.
Giovanni just shrugged at the fact that the man did not want to talk.
Seeing the piece of course made Giovanni's heart race. But once he got his wits about him, he took a little comfort in the fact that a man who was obviously avoiding someone to cause by killing a man in the middle of the mall.
So he played, the same ballot trying to mix it up a bit in form playing, verses and chorues in different order, to try not to bore the man. It was silly, here was his life slightly threatened and he wanted to make sure the guy who just threatened him. He did not really mind, during the course of it he finally got down a different voicing for B7(9) he had been working for the past couple of days, and transations seemed a lot smoother. Talk about playing under pressure.
The three men took away his high-paying customer, and things started to make a little sense.
Dead man has no use for money.
"Probably just fulfilled his last request." He said underneath his breath.
Giovanni reached into his fedora and counted the money, could have been a wad of cash all in ones--who knows. Then he looked over the money clip, looking for maybe an address or symbol of some relavence. Besides the money he didn't exactly get what he wanted out of this fellow.
After the men led him off, Giovanni, tried to rationalize not to follow them a little, but he couldn't.
So he waited until the men were out sight, and followed the path he saw they take intially. Probably out of sight now, he looked and right to see if he could see the direction they took.
He shook his head, and looked the money clip again, trying to figure out what the hell just happened.
As Giovanni would look through the clipped bills, he would notice that only the outermost leaves were actually legal tender- the inner part, where money should have been, were actually a very large series of folded papers with writing marking them on all sides. There was a vague sense of order in the chicken-scratched notes, though, and while it might seem to be a waste, the names would doubtless stand out to Giovanni himself. Perhaps the man had only intended to appear more wealthy than he truly was.
Upon close inspection, the sheets would be revealed as a pair of lists, each consisting of an ordered pair- on the right an amount of money and on the left a name, written in pure and easily readable script. The names sounded rather proper and stuffy- and many of them were postfixed with a title of some sort. Doctor, Senator, Representative, Secretary, Professor, Reverend, and so on- from any walk of life you might name, there was at least one element on one of the lists- there were about twelve or so, consisting of twenty names apiece- that matched the title.
There was still a good forty bucks in the wad, though- enough to make Giovanni's time worthwhile, but perhaps not so much as had been initially supposed. Even so, it was decent- and at the worst, the slips of paper could be thrown into a trash can.
Somehow, though, their inclusion did not seem accidental.
What a keen little addict.
Giovanni, looked through the names, and shook his head. "Someone is going to want this." He said aloud.
Really have to stop talking to myself.
Giovanni carefully tore part of one of the papers off so two names were on each side, and stuck those back into the money clip. The others he stuck down the front of his pants--right in the middle of the mall.
"What are you looking at?" He said to any passerby.
He started to walk slowly out of the mall...the names he pondered, thinking about the Reverands and Doctors on the list. People he knew probably reach right out and touch, and not have to wade through button men.
Maybe use his knowledge to blackmail himself some lodgings.
But probably smarter, as he left the mall, he would start looking for cheap motels.
Of course Giovanni would receive stares like that- how could he not, considering his actions? Of course, with the recent sexual revolutions and the advancement of women's sociability- a process that all men could agree was for the best- there were more than a few appreciative stares and a few casual smirks. Confidence was key, in this day and age- and any man who was willing to stuff his pants in public and be casually dismissive about it was certainly -quite- confident.
One woman was so bold as to look over and grin wryly. "Ah. I see that women are not the only ones who feel the need to pad their assets." Raising a hand to touch her breast, she'd loft it and wink, proceeding on her way down the main promenade of the mall as if her comment were nothing. Boldness was infuriating, even as it was exciting.
As he made his way out from the mall, of course, Giovanni would find himself in the average district of the city, that grey zone caught between the upper heights and all of their splendor and downtown and all the seediness that would contain. With any luck, the seedier part of the city would be unbooked, considering the hour and date. Most of the vacancy signs were not lit- although a few of the less appealing places certainly had rooms available, from the looks of things. Indeed, of the places visited, the most notable was an entire street with a string of vacancies.
The choices along that particular avenue seemed to be "The Veldt", "The Wayward Muse", "Johnny's Place", and the perhaps aptly named "La Cucaracha"- the only concession to the hispanic population of DC evident at the moment.
Giovanni shot a stare at the woman who spoke to him as he spoke by and mumbled something in way of, "Just making sure it doesn't fall out the pant leg."
So, off he was, a likely payroll in his crotch searching for a place to lay his head. It wouldn't take him long to decide, "Johnny's Place"--it had his name right on it.
He quickly shuffled his way over to the place, and stepped inside.
The interior wasn't exactly what one might call high class, but it was definitely not squalid, either. The decorations were simple and decidedly neon- indeed, most of the walls were taken up by the various neon signs with various words of wisdom upon them (though, of course, one might challenge whether "Now Serving" was a word of wisdom).
The hotel was roughly L shaped, the rooms branching from the vertical hallway while the office sat at the bottom of the structure. A few stray couches rested in the lobby, but otherwise, there were no real furnishings to be spoken of. Gaudy and gauche were apparently the main driving forces behind whomsoever had been the interior decorator of this place.
Behind the desk there was a young man, rather plain by all accounts. In fact positively nerdy, pushing his glasses upward upon the bridge of his nose and looking up almost skittishly as Giovanni entered, nose rather congested from the sound of things. "Can I help you, sir?" that voice, too, was one of the most poindexter tones that anyone might manage, were they trying to do so.
Certainly the man seemed out of place, but perhaps that was to be expected. After all, who but the most desperate would be working the nightshift on New Year's Eve?
Giovanni scanned the place a little, and didn't really listen to the statment the man made, though he was fully aware of what he said.
Giovanni caught wind at how uptight the fellow was--yeah, some people were just born that way it seems, but it still bothered Giovanni, really only because of what had just happened.
"Yeah, buddy, I just need a room. A mattress in clean sheet, ya know. No need to open up the suites."
Giovanni, reached for the money, and fingered through the money slowly, "Listen, whatever the room is, here is a ten spot, if you'll take my backpack and guitar up for me. Careful with pack, it's got some important papers, I don't want to see damaged."
Giovanni listened for the price of his room, and kept his finger through the money, "So New's Year, huh, sorry to see you're working. Do you know if there's a bar, within a block or so, on either side. My feet are damn tired, so if the only bar is on backside, I would take a back door than walk around--pounding pavement all day. 'Bout time to rest on a bar stool."
"So you need a signature, or somethin'?"
"Heh. If there were any suites, I doubt they'd be open around this time, sir," perhaps intimidated by the casual swagger with which Giovanni moved, or perhaps merely attempting to 'fit in' with the obvious suave appeal that the young man had. Whatever the case, it took only a moment before the geeky kid had recovered and was retrieving a key from the wall behind him, placing it on the counter and holding out his hands for the requisite price- only about ten bucks, and certainly well within Giovanni's now extended reach.
The ten-spot was received with almost admiring eyes, and the boy saluted-- knocking over a small glace on the counter in the process, which was promptly ignored. "Yes sir. I'll take care of that right away!" The kid worked his way around the counter, through the little sliding door, and picked up Giovanni's things- heavier than he had probably anticipated, judging from the sound of straining.
"There's a bar about a block up the street. 'Talon's Pub', I think-- or something like that, man." The kid had other problems, what with the heavy luggage, and only vaguely indicated the appropriate direction and pointed to the counter. "I left the paperwork there. You just need to sign at the bottom. Where the X is." And then he was waddling down the hallway with Giovanni's things.
"Thanks, buddy." Giovanni said as the fellow took his things for him. "Don't hurt yourself now."
The tall italian looked at the 'X' for a moment in thought, tilting his head slightly, then he finally put the pen to the paper.
Mr. B. Spiegel He wrote, no idea if he had spelled that right.
Guy didn't look like he could spell his own name anyways.
He shoved the pen in his pocket, and torn out some unused pages from the book, and pocketed them too, then head out the door in search of that bar the fellow told him about.
As he walked the street he was deep in thought...
I have to somehow get rid of this list, but yet keep what's on it. How the hell...
He started to think about music and soon he was humming along as he walked.
Some way, I would only know how to read the names and numbers...with music? Scales? Scale degrees--I would have to mess with the numbers though. C major scale would give me numbers 1 through 8, I could name the B underneath the key as zero, and the D above the root would of course be nine...zero through nine, that's all the numbers, I could take anyones sum that started with the same number and assign that to the root, then I could...transcribe them onto paper, into notes...maybe commas could be rests?
He would think about the problem all the way to the bar.
The young man only managed a muffled response, perhaps stifled by the exertion he was making in taking Giovanni's things up to the room. One could only assume that it wasn't anything important- in any case, the comment fell to the ground unnoticed, and the guitarist was out the door, moving toward Talon's, visible in the barest traces of neon that marked the entryway- just plain text, making it quite clear that this was not some upscale fancy-schmancy bar, but rather a club for 'real men' who didn't have time for subtleties or elaboration.
Still, the fragrance of alcohol could be felt in tangible waves, like the alluring song of a siren, pulsating its summons to any within smelling distance. The sound of music within, too, was inviting- thought from the sound of it, the band was a simple three-piece, with a piano player, guitarist, and trumpet player, and from the sound of it, the singer was a woman-- her voice rising into the air like honey personified, but with the slightest bit of zing that indicated a southern influence.
Within, the interior of the establishment was simple- it had probably been a gentleman's club, before it was renovated. The segments where dancing poles had once rested could still be seeing, and the lights still felt rather tawdry, but overall it was a neutral atmosphere. The music was appealing without being distracting, though the woman at the fore of the band appeared determined to change that, with her high-cut skirt that left to the imagination exactly what was required. The players behind her were colored in their skintone, and the woman cuban. This was certainly not a meeting center for the Klan.
As soon as Giovanni entered the door, an old man behind the bar- presumably, 'Talon'- waddled up from his seated position and called out, over the music, "Can I get you anything to drink, there, son?"
Giovanni couldn't help but to give a half smile as he looked at the singer, letting out her sound for the whole bar to hear. Unbeknownst to him, he started to tap his foot.
As he turned to the man behind the bar he laughed slightly, "You can get me the canarie up there signin', but besides that, I think I will have a southcomfort and cola. He took a couple of steps towards the band as he listened, before going back to the bar to get his drink. Looking at the bar tender he nodded his thanks and put some money on the bar, "Where's the bathroom here, anyways, buddy?"s. Use the talk page if you have questions or suggestions.
A worn face of leather creaked to a half-smile as the gray-haired black man turned to the newest craze in whiskey. Pouring cola into a glass he topped it with the Southern Comfort and landed in front of Giovanni.
He was tempered and experienced, perhaps owning this joint as to overcome late-life boredom. He lit a cigarette and offered one to the young man and said, "That canary is in a cage, son."
He gestured with his head to a broken neon sign reading "Re troom" in the back adjacent to the stage. The solemn jazz suddenly exploded into three-beats and the dance floor filled with swingers. Her voice danced with the tunes, casting furious flavor into the bar.
--Laveaux 22:10, 12 December 2005 (CST)
Giovanni looked over at the sign and nodded, he nodded his thanks, plopped down a few dollars, lit up a smoke, "Thanks for the drink, don't worry about the carnarie, just came to listen." He said with quick wink.
He listened to the music for a bit, his own ideas played in his head, but in a few minutes he was about to be rather uncreative musically.
He finished his drink a little quicker than he thought he would, and nodded towards the bartender for another.
Giovanni scanned the bar, looking for any familiar faces, espeically those he saw earlier in mall.
The young italian was probably just still a little, spooked, as he carefully made his way to the restroom.
He would wait for open stall, and when he had a chance, he would enter.
First he would remove, the pen and paper he had lifted from the fellow at the inn from his pocket, and draw up his the lines for a piece of music, writing in the treble cleff.
Removing the payroll, that was tucked in a 'special place'. As he thought before, he took all sums that started with the same number, and would use them as a degree along the scale. He quickly did this for 48 bars, so could try out the sound later on his guitar, it should sound fine, though it would roam a little.
He tucked small piece of music back into his pocket and the payroll carefully into his underpants once again.
Walking back out, he would return to the bar, and take up his drink. He would stay there for sometime, sipping on his drink, to avoid getting drunk, and just waiting. He wondered about his motel room, he had a half a mind it would be trashed when he came back. Though that would help a little.
"Ain't the one should be worrying," the gray haired man said absently.
At the queue for another drink, the bartender obliged and resumed wiping down glasses as the music slowed. There seemed to be no one out of place in this joint, however, there was no doubt that some of the men here were connected. Eighteen and twenty-year-olds shouldn't be wearing two-hundred dollar suits.
To the restroom and back not much changed, except for the new presence of a brutish broad-shouldered man in a heavy coat and wide-brimmed fedora. What hair he had was hidden under the hat and rolling flesh poured over his collar. Thick-faced and sweating on the back of the neck, he didn't budge or look up when Giovanni returned to the bar. Sipping on a whiskey, he looked only at the glass.
A deep rocky voice game out of a minute or so, "You're a man that could use a friend. If you was smart, you'd forget that list. If you was smart, you'd give it to the highest bidder."
Still not looking at Giovanni, the large man reached into his pocket and put a hundred dollar bill on the bar and then weighed it down with his empty shot glass. He knocked on the bar to signal he wanted another.
--Laveaux 22:10, 12 December 2005 (CST)