2019-07-13 - Squawk on the Boardwalk


You again? Beware gulls.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Sat Jul 13 01:14:09 2019
Location: Coney Island

Related Logs


Theme Song




It's Coney, again. The long-haired boy again, with his Cyclones cap and worn jeans and the sleeve over the metal arm. But now it's late afternoon, not true night….and rather than playing a stray public piano, he's working patiently on a sketch of the landscape, his drawing pad propped up on his leg, colored pencils in their canvas roll stretched out on the bench beside him. Trying to capture the way the slanting sun looks on the sea.

What's best about Coney Island. Cheap. Cheap is definitely a plus, though money is hardly an issue. It's just a single woman on the boardwalk being harassed by a gull hopeful for a French fry or whatever sugar-powdered monstrosity she chews on. The latter: it's something spun and whipped with sugar, honey-drizzled, a pastry an afterthought. A small crescent absent along the margins suggest she has been very busy indeed distracted by other matters. The occasional fact her path swings out of the way of canoodling teenagers and bored hoodlums hissing curses and rude slurs to the occasional person-of-colour or obviously different ethnicities goes without notice. She doesn't notice the way the boards shiver or the old, nearly rusty rails squeak for the main attraction — just six bucks in tickets, thanks — over a tarp-slung chainlink fence.

He notices the changes….but even with them, memory's strong enough to override. It's another touchstone, another part of New York he knows. Thank God Steve didn't up sticks and go to Seattle or Chicago, somewhere he has no memory of.

The scene of the pastry makes him look up, curiously, just as one of the more nosy gulls decides that maybe his pencils are a snack. It lands in a clatter of grubby white wings and pecks at the canvas roll…..and before he can restrain the impulse, he's grabbed it around the throat. Not that one grubby sea pigeon is a serious threat, but….Winter and his reflexes are still in there. The gull squawks and beats its wings and pecks at his arm. It can't hurt the arm itself, but….it can certainly tear the cover sleeve, exposing a little gleam of metal.

Flaking paint and older venues replaced by the newer 70s and 80s-era, a hedonistic heyday gone by, signal the decline and staggering onward. Coney Island isn't the place it used to be. The beaches aren't clean, the waters aren't healthy, and girls don't flock there in their polka-dot one pieces and bikinis. The auburn-haired young woman very well might have counted as a pin-up — would have to, in some ways — except for those guarded eyes, ancient and knowing, set in a pretty face.

Someone might be forgiven for thinking Wanda is less than in the moment. She has sugar dusted on her lips, a bit down her jacket. Her fingertips prise free a ragged, torn corner for a nibble. Chewing lightly gives an impression of steady concentration, almost borderline on consternation perhaps. Dark honeyed eyes turn back from the water, back to the opportunistic thief being vandalized by a beggarly sky-rat. Or mayhap it's the other way around, unkindly. Bad pigeon, squawking and honking. She watches it with a narrowing gaze, her glazed attention pinched and reoriented slowly as one of the great telescopes focused on terrestrial targets.

"Wrong to kill it," she says in a low tone, defaulting to the fluid crackle of Russian. Suggestive where she's been; closer to the edges of Little Odessa, where it wasn't made a crater. "They'll arrest you. Against the law to hurt birds here, usually."

There's a startled beat of pause, as he looks at her, eyes wide and blank. Then he flings it from him, out over the water - it wobbles, falls, but gets its wings out and labors up, like a weary rower.

"I wasn't going to kill it," he says, after a silence that's a beat or two too long. Then he looks down at his pencils, as if to make sure they're all there.

"Might kill itself," Wanda observes the panicked bird with all those wild oscillations. Flapping wings might catch the breeze, but the air tends to flow the wrong way at those transitional points when the sea holds too much warmth and not enough resides in the air to compensate. Still the land clings to the sunbaked heat impressed by the turning of turbulent seasons; if only it might be trusted, somewhat, to come undone. Thus that turbulence easily might come to play with a stirring of the fingertips, a taste of the world gone utterly awry. A bit of a billowy shift pushes the bird up, up away from the threats found on the ground. She shakes her head at the seagull. It should know better.

Another thought at her folded pastry, which no doubt has its own opportunist over there. Another bird takes the opening to try to seize it in a bright orange beak, zipping it low over Bucky. Oh well.

Bucky watches it, and simply sighs. The would-be pastry thief he leaves alone. "Damn," he says, "They're bold. I guess this is the high season for 'em, considering." The night's revellers, such as they are,haven't appeared. He'll be gone by then, into his odd little niche of domesticity. Two war-worn experiments, keeping house in their old hometown.

Then he looks at her, brow furrowing. "I've seen you here before."

So much for the pastry thief. The seagull flies off on a comet tail of powered sugar, leaving a fissure of white blow in its wake for someone to ask about the cocaine high ending at the shoreline. Tangled invisible lines bury their presence into her hair, and she sighs, shaking it out. Curls and waves collide on a different shore, one bordeaux more than not. Her merlot frown gives Wanda another angle of intensity, though she waves off the loss. "Better not to eat. Not good for me." English. It's habit now, forcing herself to sidestep.

His question brings a puzzled look forth, flowering and dying. "Yes." A beat. "Pianos?"

"Yeah," he says, after a beat, smiling a little. "I was playing. You were dancing…." Then he leans over to offer his human hand, with its golden silicone band. "I'm James."

A nod from the young woman. She shies back when he offers his hand, reflexive impulses rising to the fore. A freezing, a rotation to protect the opposite side of her body as though Bucky might be pulling a pistol from under his coat or drawing the sword at his side. Reactions freeze and thaw, the cracked lines skimming through the social order. She stares blankly at his hand for a moment, eyes drawn up the line of the forearm to the elbow, exerting a terminal pull diagonally to the opposite shoulder and climbing higher, further, to take in his face.

"It was good," she says, caught on the back foot. Then what? The dance calls for extending her hand, shaking it, the grasp of fingers and the withdrawal. She hasn't gloves; powder and sugary trails of crystallized honey and its melting dewdrops staining the left. An apologetic look down and up again. "You would need the water."

He's not particularly startled when she shies like a startled animal. Gently, he lets it fall, showing no sign of offense. "I only know a few pieces," he says almost apologetically, as if he owed her a greater repertoire. He does roll up the pencils, set the pad more firmly in his lap before he sets the canvas roll atop them. Making room, if she chooses to sit. But it is New York, and he's a strange young man.

Wanda has no choice but to pat her hands together like a baker and a sticky loaf, trying to cast aside what remnants lie on her skin. Not a good strategy; too many chances she'll smear the honey and finally the choice is reduced to just licking it away. Well, fine. A flick of the tongue; waste not the precious energy owed there. Glancing at the choice made apparent to sit or deal with the art pieces, the most she can do initially is clear her throat. "I am in the way. You make something, da?"

He shrugs, a little. "Just sketching. Practicing." Whereupon he demonstrates by turning the pad, showing her the sea scape, in its tones of blue and tan and gold. "You're not in the way."

His hair's tied back in a low tail, beneath the cap. But enough has gotten loose that he wipes impatiently at the few strays that've escaped the band.

Giving him a bit of a berth, Wanda sits down at the edge of the bench. She tucks her feet beneath her, the wild array of her fire-licked hair tumbling down her shoulders and over her face. The wind toys with it while she ignores the shifting veils blotting her vision. A glance given the pad has a certain degree of awareness, an appreciation for symmetries and colour, though her particular talent doesn't scream 'gallery owner' or 'Met enthusiast.' Not particularly. "This," she says, "is practice? Only? You have sat here for a time?"

"Yeah," he says. "It's not intended to be a particularly finished work. I was an art student, long ago. But now I just….draw for fun. I'm not a pro." Buck nods, quietly. "Most of the afternoon. I live north of here, but I like to walk down to the beach or the boardwalk, when I can." Even Steven the ever understanding does need space…..and so does Buck himself.

"It is good. Many people do this only with their phones, their boxes." Wanda shakes her head and holds up her hands, framing the world within thumb and forefinger, forming that rectangle. "Looking down, not up. They do not see this and they miss it or they fall in the sea."

It is hard not to smirk at that.

Bucky's lip curls at that. "I hate that, that people seem to live only through their phones, their screens," he says, with a kind of weary disgust in his voice. "They don't see what's around them, what's in front of them…." He looks out to the sea. "I want to see what there is to see…."

"Glass walls. It is still a wall," says Wanda. Her sticky finger is brought up and assessed. She hasn't much she can use to clean it off with after that initial lick. Resting in her lap is the second best option where it cannot be a cause for despair or discomfort, gathering up detritus from the seaside. "You sound like a sea man." Bad translation, it really is. But she soldiers on quietly, all the same. "Someone who needs a boat. You go out there and learn."

HE leans over to the boardwalk by his end, comes up with a water bottle. "You can rinse your hand, if you want," he says, with a little curl of a smile. "Man of the sea? Nah. I'm no sailor. I was Army, not Navy. But…." He squints his eyes against the glitter off the water. "I like the sea. I don't even get seasick, not anymore…"

"No, for drinking. You may need it." Shaking her head, Wanda adds, "Thank you. It is best you have what you need." Old of time, old of nature. Survival bites too deep, speaking through a too-young face. "You want to see there. What is there to see?"

"There's plenty," Buck assures her, gently. "And there's a working water fountain not far from here." He looks back to her, from his contemplation of the water. "The city. Life. The light on the water. I want to just…..be where I am. Not some other pretend life in a phone."

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License