2019-10-14 - Ribs and Conversation


Doctor Strange comes to Luke's to Evalute Hod. Gwen comes for ribs. They have a chat!

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Mon Oct 14 07:00:25 2019
Location: Luke's

Related Logs


Theme Song



Luke's has seen a minor resurgence in the community as of late. Partly it's the rumors of a new cook in the back (term chef is for the uptown richies) and part is the music scene. The new cute waitress/bartender hasn't hurt matters any but Hod can't take credit for that so he likes to think it's the first two things. Because when you're a Prince your default setting is to assume all things are about you. Even if you're a shadow of your former self.

The place smells like slow smoked ribs, scratch made BBQ, fried potatoes, cheese, peppers, garlic, booze, sweat, and leather. In short it's /exactly/ the type of bar someone wants to find when looking, but never seems to find on purpose. It's a Harlem joint, old and locked in it's ways, showing her years in all the right ways, but in no way rickety or falling down. She's a Lady, a member of rarified nobility in a part of town where that sort of thing is both contrarily ubiquitous and hard to come by these days. How fortunate Strange found his way here.

Tonight there's a man sitting on the little 'stage', really just a small 6 inch high box made of pallet wood and stain that lifts him /slightly/ above the average sitting patron. He's pale, his clothing is monochromatic, despite the night outwide he wears a pair of mirrored shades, and in front of him are an old half stand piano, it's pain and enamel chipped and dinged even if it's tones are solid, an old trumpet with vauge inevitable spots of tarnish starting to show where the dents and scratches are a clear verteran of many a gig, and finally an old resonator guitar, it's metal frame body showing spots of rust, even more dings and dents then the other two instruments combined, and a patina of long hard use coating it's once lusterous gleaming skin.

The man, young and athletically lean at first glance and then seeming older and stooped with a second, sits with his fingers on the ivories of the piano, letting them dance along the keys like spiders legs, deft and controlled, they plink out a tune that's lively and upbeat, a jazzy number with a swaying sort of beat that makes one want to tap a toe of a finger on the bar, bounce a bit where they stand. If one were a fan of the genre, they'd immediately recognize the influence of Ellington's 'Take the A Train', but the player in question has livened it up a bit, added a touch of something… maybe Latin? to the beat. It suits well however, and gives one that light hearted feeling that only good jazz can impart.

Doctor Strange might seem unremarkable without the grand markings of his station. The billowing cloak and flared color, the aura of radiant power, the gleaming eye at his throat, all of these are apparently absent, although not as absent as a mere mortal's eye might suspect. He does seem to be a man of remarkable poise and refinement, clad in a simple but stylish suit, dark blue and splashed with gold at his tie and a hint of scarlet at his breast pocket. He has a watch fob and his beard and hair are immaculately trimmed and shaped, a spattering of salt amidst the dark of his hair at the temples.

He is, perhaps, out of step with the clientele, which tends to be younger and hipper, not as patrician, not as restrained. He is too formal and too precise and yet he somehow seems to belong nonetheless. He is there for a reason, no doubt, but nothing too serious. Curiosity. He can feel powers moving through this diverse city. It is constantly swimming with current, a veritable sea of mystic forces, constantly interplaying, impossible to map.

One such poewr seems to have manifested itself here. And so Strange has arrived to observe, to judge, to investigate. And perhaps get a good martini in the bargain.

Into Luke's bounces one young blonde lady; had the bar been quiet, then the truely observant might've heard a diminutive 'thwip' outside a couple of minutes before her arrival, but even then connecting the two might've been a stretch. Gwen arrives in a plan top and miniskirt, knee-high boots and a light jacket and a backpack slung over one shoulder with a rainbow pin on it; it's cool outside, afterall, but not that terrible. At least not for a seasoned New Yorker.

The young woman takes a moment to pull her earbuds out and look around, before she heads more or less directly for the bar, picking a seat not too far away from where someone is busy playing the piano. It sounds like a great tune, afterall; something familiar, she can't quite put her finger on it, but seriously spiced up in a way she can appreciate.

"Hey, can I grab a menu?" Gwen asks and receives, positioning her backpack on the floor protectively between her feet as she sits. Nothing wrong with pub grub, right? Especially nothing wrong with it at Luke's, or so goes the rumor, anyway. She's been told! Come check the place out! So here she is, giving it a look-see. "So uhh… what's good?" she asks, of the person beside her, who just grunts and stands up to wander off. "Wow, friendly."

Luke's is not a hipster bar, don't let the make up of the musician fool you. It is a neighborhood afair. The clientele is mostly black, simply by being white Strange stands out, by being white and in a suit, he stands out a lot. Whatever 'blending' he has, must be mystical in nature… which means Hod is more then a little aware of it. Not being seen is his gig, /strongly/ his gig in fact. And he's very very good at it. To have someone else horn in on his territory would be insulting, if he couldn't also sense at least a portion of the power comeing off the man. Somethings are harder to hide then others, take more effort, more time to make disappear entirely. And when so few can feel them, why bother?

Hod however has earned his place, fragile and tenuously new as it is, in the community with sinereity and a sort of guarded honesty that earns respect with the patrons. They each accomplish their goal, just through different means.

The song is lively, upbeat, fun, a bit boppy, and it's a remix of a true Harlem legend, Ellington. The old respect the choice for it's history, the young for it's rhythm, the middle aged for it's ability to bridge the gap. It's a strong choice… and it's also quickly over, the final notes tinkeling away into the bar with an almost meloncholy ending to an otherwise upbeat and happy tune. No words, not tonight, just the tune, lifting up those that hear it and then setting them back down gently as it fades. There is no applause, none is required, just a respectful thoughtful quiet before the few patrons once more strike up conversations.

The piano man pushes himself to his feet and plucks up a cane that has been leaning unnoticed against the piano's edge, and begins to make his way off of the stage, the cane's tip swinging pendulum like. The instant he moves it's very very clear… the musician is blind. Skilled at being so, but blind none the less. It takes him a full minute to cross the floor, avoid any chairs, and end up behind the bar, slipping through the space provided and taking up his place amid the countless bottles and glasses. The cane hangs on a hook behind him, as once behind the bar the blind man has clearly memorized the lay out no longer needing the tool. He makes his way over to Strange and Gwen, who're conviently sitting near one another, "The Shitty Nachos are pretty solid." he says in the direction of the young, "As are the ribs, the mashed potatoes, the frie-you know what? It's all good. Though some of it is still in a bit of an experimental phase. Working out the perfected kinks in a couple recipes." He ignores the WAVES OF MAGICAL POWER coming from Strange, hoping against hope that the magician isn't here for him. Pay no attention to the blind man behind the curtain… He's clearly no one of note…

Doctor Strange is here for Hod, of course, but not in a hostile sort of way. Merely observing and cataloguing, getting his flavor. He needs to know the players on the board, so that he doesn't accidentally let his own strategems cross streams unnecessarily. Never, ever cross the streams. He learned that from some ancient wise man.

"The…shitty nachos? Is that their official name?' he inquires, raising a dark eyebrow. "However the food may taste, I suspect a bit of marketing prowess might be required, if so. Although, judging from the crowd, perhaps not," he says.

He can't sense anything in particular about the girl. He wonders if perhaps he should have brought Rachel, but she couldn't stand jazz. Far too much a creature of the 21st century was his acquaintance and paramour. "Doctor Stephen Strange, at your service," he says. His name might mean something to Hod, but unlikely to do so to Gwen. He's only known in very particular circles.

"…Well… that's a name for nachos," Gwen observes. "But… you know what? I'm feeling extravagant, I'd love to try some ribs." She shrugs, "Last time I had ribs was at one of my Dad's barbecues. You know, the sort you show up at when you've got a barbecue on the balcony and you can fit exactly thirty people into the appartment without them falling over each other, and there's literally nowhere to hide so you might as well just be a part of things, whether you want to or not."

Gwen puts the apparently extraneous menu down and pushes it to the side, where Dr. Strange can get at it, if he so desires. Then, her brow furrows, and she glances sideways at the good doctor; after a moment, just about when looking becomes staring, she shakes her head and looks forwards again. "Sorry," she mumbles. "Just… your name sounds really familiar. I was trying to figure out why, I didn't mean to stare or anything."

Hod hasn't been a player on the board for more then 2500 years when Odin ripped most of what made Hod Aesir from him and cast him out, the first true Exile of Asgard on Midard. Others came before him, but they came whole, as themselves. Hod did not. There was a time… a time when with his twin brother Baldur and his other brothers, Thor, Loki, Tyr, Ullr, that they were the scourge of the Realms, a warband of unparralled skill and power. Death and destruction made manifest, each with their own ability, own calling card. But Hod never belonged, not since the prophecy. His time with his brothers was short lived before he was cast out, hurled to Midgard, naked, bleeding, left to die.

Odinson's are harder to kill then that, and so he lived. Since the rise and fall of Greece he's been here. He is never the pivot point of history, never the thing that pushes, but there are a shocking number of events in history where in a blind man appears in the telling. If one was In The Know, if one had the skills and methods to research, they might know that that ubiquitous blind man was in fact the same one. Over. And over. And over. Always there to witness, never there to effect. Like it was on purpose.

Hod has long since been thought dead, even by his own father, by his family, but recent events have dragged him into the light, shown all of those with Eyes to See that he walks among the mortals still, even if his station has only deteriorated over the centuries. He is also known as a 'god' that does not like to be found.

"Yeah well, that was the name from before, I reworked the recipe, but you don't fuck with tradition." he says in Strange's general direction. It's a bar in Harlem, if they were expecting gentile service, they came to the wrong place. Stephen Strange. Hod is not what he once was, but he still holds a faint glimmer of his power, and knowing what people don't want known is part of that. And Dr. Strange is KINDA A BIG DEAL. The name causes the blind man to grow still for a moment before he thrusts a hand out towards Strange, a bit to the man's left, "Holden." he says, introducing himself by his current nom de gurre.

"Ribs?" he asks, turning away from the Doc and sort-of-but-not-really towards the young lady, "Good eye. Luke has made a hella good set of ribs. I'm striving towards nudging them into perfection. This close." he holds up a thumb and forefinger a quarter inch apart. He leaves the two to chat while he rounds up ribs for the girl from the back and serisously considers vanishing into the shadows completely. Strange is Someone, and Hod avoids Someones when he can. They never bring good news into his life. Not once in 3000 years. Ultimately though, he gets the ribs… cause he likes Luke, and exiled or not, an Odinson has to have a code. It takes a few minutes, but he'll return with a plateful eventually.

Doctor Strange takes the hand. He knows the name is a lie. And whether Hod considers himself a player, whether he wants to sit out or if others have tried to exclude him, Strange doesn't particularly care what rules other people have set down. Setting the rules is part of his authority now. Patrician gods, even those with one eye and a taste for autocracy, need not apply.

He can tell he's being avoided, of course, but doesn't mind. He's marked Hod, in a small way, just familiarizing himself with the being's aura. Finding him will be far simpler should he have need. Strange has a habit of drafting people, whether they like it or not. Hod just made the list.

"I'm more of a prime rib sort myself. They have a nice sandwich here, it looks like. I'll take one of those, heavy on the horseradish, with a martini and a glass of sparkling water. And a lemon wedge," he says. He regards Gwen directly, "I was once a physician of some note. Neurosurgeon. I pioneered a technique for removing lesions from the basal ganglia without during permanent damage to the tissue, for example. Are you deeply versed in the recent history of medicine?"

"That's it!" Gwen snaps her fingers with the sudden rememberance. "Sorry, it's been a couple of years. I did a science project when I was in the tenth grade about your advances in stabilizing people's brains after they've had a stroke. Got second place, too." She smiles wistfully, "Of course, Peter got first place, he always did with science projects and probably always will, so honestly second place is basically like winning for anyone who's not Peter." She turns sideways on her seat, resting an arm on the counter while Hod is gone, getting ribs and things. "I had to read two extra textbooks in two weeks just so I could claim that I understood the material. I still had to skim stuff in a hurry to meet the deadline. I still have those textbooks, too."

Gwen smiles pleasantly. "Sorry, I hope you don't mind me turning all fan-girl on you. I don't usually do that. I just never pictured actually meeting the person who's work I did a science project on once. I'm sorry if that's totally weird." Well, it might be weird, but Gwen doesn't seem to be too worried about it, even with appology given. "I'm Gwen, by the way. Gwen Stacy."

Hod is the god of vanishing, of the shadows, of quiet places. Heimdall cannot find Hod more often then not… He does not like to be tracked readily. One day this will likely become a conversation between the two…. today however, it will be food! A much better way to start a relationship, delicious fattening unhealthy foods stuffs put into ones face. It takes a bit of time, but not an unduly amount, for the blind man to returns with two rather sizeable plates. Gwens has a half slab of St. Louise style meaty ribs on it, a sweet BBQ sauce with a hint of vinager to flavor and a bite of citrus acid (mango) to balance it out. Tehre's a side of 'slaw, some baked beans that smell sweet slathered in teh same sause as the ribs. There is a second plate laden with a sandwhich, marinated prime rib, horsey sauce oozing out the sides, with the same pile of sides. After placeing the plates, more or less, in front of the proper people, the blind man starts making drinks. It might take him a little longer then most barmen, but not by much, and he doesn't spare the booze either. Hopefully the Doc isn't doing anything surgery related later. There's shaking and iceing and vermouth, but just a bare dash, before a glass is set before the Doc, a perfectly made… gin martini. Hod makes his drinks old style, not new. If it's unexpected, it might be a bit of a shock, or maybe a pleasent surprise. Who knows. Shortly, water with lemon, faint bubbles rising from the glass. "Doc, if I were you, I'd keep the orders of sprakling shit to a minimum. You're in Harlem now, this ain't the Upper East Side." his brows make an appearance arching above his mirrored shades as a sort of 'know what I mean' kinda gesture. One that loses a touch of it's power as it's given half a foot to Strange's right.

Doctor Strange listens carefully and purses his lips, "Sounds to me like Peter's a bit of a brown-noser, if you ask me," he says. Of course, he was a brilliant kid himself, but he also didn't have a lot of friends that might have been his rivals. He hated most of his rivals. That was the natural order of school. "It's not weird. It's rather nice. I don't get much recognition for my medical achievements anymore. I miss it."

He regards Hod with a simple smile, "I can take the slings and arrows of other people's opinions quite well…Holden, wasn't it? I assure you, I can take care of myself all too well if anyone feels a need to question my choice of beverage."

"Peter? Naw. he's not the type for that, he's just smarter than everyone else I've ever met. He didn't do it on purpose." She pauses, and smirks, "Honestly, I think he was actually shooting for second place on that project to let me get first, but even trying to not get first, he still got it. At least, that's my hypothesis — totally untestable." She turns her attention to the ribs in front of her, and digs right in, destroying a rib in very short order. (Turns out the girl can eat.) "How'd you figure out how to reroute blood vessels in the brain? Also bear in mind, I'm just a first year biochemistry student."

Gwen looks up at Hod, and gives him a nod once, before cluing in that hey, he's blind; that won't help. "The ribs are delicious." She glances back and forth between Hod and Stephen, "Aaaand, uhm, I actually kinda would like… well not a sparkling water, but just a sprite? Preferably with no booze in it. Not because I'm a wimp or something, I just happen to not be twenty-one years old yet. So I hope that won't get me beaten up for not having whiskey or something."

Hod nods his head sagely at the Doc, "I suppose that depends on the slings and arrows now don't it?" he asks with a quirky smile that, due to his shades, can't be seen to reach his eyes. Makes the smile seem somehow paper thin. He then turns towards Gwen and nods, well, sorta towards her, "Sure thing girlie. Honestly, we're Harlem, so…" he shrugs, as a nice way to say maybe they'd serve her anyway… or maybe they wouldn't. He makes no promises on any regard. He dips behind the bar and comes back up a moment or two later with a tall glass, large ice cubes in it, and spirte bubbling away with an additional lemon and lime twist, one each, drapped around the rim of the glass, along with a spritz of the peel's essential oils. Cause it's still a friggin bar, and a man has to have a reputation. "There ya go."

Doctor Strange nods to Gwen, "Very responsible of you," he says. "Well, it was largely a matter of both precision and timing. You have to be able to cut as cleanly as possible, using a microlaser, to ensure that the edges won't severate or grow uneven. That allows you to reattach rapidly and with a minimum of further trauma connecting the arterial wall. You also have to do it quickly - there's no time for prevarication. It's a technique that requires decisivieness. Some of my colleagues would say recklessness, but I never lost a patient," he says.

To Hod, he says, "I like to be prepared, even for the unexpected. Muggers, crooks, wild vigilantes with machine guns. Dragons, goblins, zombies. Errant gods and elder demons."

A few years ago, Gwen might've called 'total nonsense' on the errant gods and elder demons and all that, but at present it would seem she knows better, so she doesn't bat an eye when Doctor Strange is talking about such things. Instead she just has a bite of her ribs, followed up by a long sip from the sprite.

"Thank you, that's… that's the best Sprite I've ever had. You are a bartender, sir, a master of the trade, and I hope you'll be here for a long time to come." Maybe a few hundred years, even, but that would surprise Gwen to be sure.

"It certainly sounds like 'decisiveness' is required," Gwen agrees. "And maybe turning down booze on account of my age is responsible, or maybe it's because my Dad is a cop and I'd hate to embarass him by getting picked up for drunk and disorderly." She pauses, and shakes her head. "If you've never lost a patient, then it sounds like the right way to do it. My Dad would say the same thing about stuff like hostage situations, I'm sure. You have to be decisive. …Though I'll grant that a planned surgery and a ten hour standoff with occasional negotiation are kinda different."

Hod's grin remains in place as he wipes a glass clean with a towel, "Yeah, heard that before. Still here." he offers a little shrug as if to say 'oops', like it was an accident. "I like you boy, you're confident. Good quality in a Supreme."

HE turns towards Gwen with a chuckle, "I'm a bit of a rolling stone, I wander where the winds and whims take me. For now I'm here, New York is a wonderous crossroads in the world, where paths converege, not unlike Rome once upon a time. I like it. Don't suspect I'll be leaving any time soon, depends on the gusts really." he shrugs again, this one conveying a sense of uncertainty. "Which is a nice way of me telling you to come often and buy lots of ribs." he whispers her direction conspiratorily.

Doctor Strange smiles simply to Hod, "I meant no threat, good sir. You seem quite content to live your life in peace, in rhythm with the people of the world around you. An admirable quality, one I wished more of your kind shared," he says. What kind that is, of course, he's keeping close to the vest. He doesn't truly know all of Hod's nature or origin or identity. But there's no need for Hod to know that.

"Police work and medicine have a great deal in common. Pressure, quick thinking, having other people's lives in your hands. Both are satisfying. Both are quite liable to drive a soul mad if they're not well-suited for it. Whether you intend to follow in your father's footsteps or mine, I wish you good luck with it, young lady."

Gwen glances back and forth between Hod and Stephen. Your kind? Supreme? She has no idea what either of them are talking about, but she makes a mental note that Hod is clearly more than just a blind bartender and Doctor Strange is clearly more than a former neurosurgeon with the fanciest pants she's seen anyone dressed in, in a long time. After the wheels stop turning (while she eats more ribs), she looks back up at Hod and grins.

"Well, the ribs are phenomenal, so I can promise you I'll be back," she assures him. "Also you do them better than my Dad does — sorry Daddy, I love you — and there aren't thirty cops hanging around here talking shop, so this is pretty ideal.

"I'm not sure yet who's footsteps I'm going to follow," she adds, looking back up to Stephen. "I don't think being a policewoman is my calling. I'm not entirely sure I'm cut out to be a doctor of medecine, either." She shrugs her shoulders lightly. "I guess I'll just have to make my own footsteps. Other people can follow me if the want to."

Hod smirks slightly and tips the cleaned glass Strange's direction, as if in salute, "I've had a lot of practice." he tells Gwen, meaning with the ribs, "I like cooking. Nice work, something even I can do." he taps the glasses in meaning. "Got a hell of a taste test too. Helps like you wouldn't believe." He returns to cleaning the glasses, and eavesdropping shamelessly out of sure curiosity.

Doctor Strange smiles, "Nothing wrong with your own footsteps. They're usually the best fit," he says.

He takes his own sandwich, consuming a few healthy bites and wiping his mouth of the excess horseradish sauce. "That does have a kick," he says with a pleased sound. "I'm a terrible cook. You would think it would be simple. I've mastered numerous skills oft claimed far more complicated. I've come to the conclusion that cooking is like music. Train all you like, but either you have the instinct or you don't."

"Yeah, well, I don't have it either." Gwen shrugs her shoulders. "My Dad is the only one in the family who can cook worth anything. …Which makes for a fifty per cent rate of good cooking amongst the two of us." She picks up another rib, and gesticulates with it briefly, "I can dump a bunch of corndogs into a deep frier, but that's about all I've managed to figure out, and I don't even work at that place anymore." Thank god. That thought manages to stay inside her skull, this time.

"I guess I'm just going to have to go through life on TV dinners and frozen pizza. Not the most healthy, I guess. …Well… I'll figure something out." She looks up at Hod, and perks an eyebrow upwards. "Or, y'know, I'll just come here for ribs all the time. And maybe other things. You have any idea how to make a chicken salad?"

Hod shakes his head, "Naw. It's about wanting to make someone else happy, bring joy to others." he pauses, "Just like music. Self agrandizement only gets you so far, eventually you learn its about everyone else. So you may be on to something there." he says with a nod. "Or, and this is just my thought, I'm full of shit, and I've spend a lot of time alone listening to my own opinions and consideing them insightful." he hand waffles in the air, "50/50 chance." he admits.

"Come for ribs here. We're awesome." he says, agreeing with Gwen and offering her a more genuine smile then Strange got. He seems to be collecting Spider-People, maybe it's Fate diddling in his life again.

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