A Shot in the Void (Peregrine x Ravenwood)

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Peregrine, May 26, 2014.

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  1. Even though it was a Sunday, normally the busiest day for the little street mall in the outskirts of Denver, it was also overcast, causing most of the people who might come to windowshop or wander the street to stay home. The threat of rain was simply too great. But that did not mean that the street was deserted. There were always those who would come, rain or shine, to wander the street and enter the little shops that lined the mall, to sit below the trees which on bright days created some of the only cool patches in the concrete canyon, or watch the muted glow of the fountains in the half-light of noon. Then there were those who had to be there, who tended to the shops or relied upon the crowds to make a few extra cents on the off days. Those people were the one who filled the air with the extra stimuli that no street mall was complete without. The smell of the bakery, or the rich, spicy scents of Mexican food. A floating note from a street musician who sat under one of the trees, holding his guitar like a lover, and keeping his eyes closed, unwilling to look at the empty hat that sat before him. Then there were those who simply had nowhere else to go. Some of them lined the walk as beggars, cardboard signs covered in black ink, huddled in tattered jackets or sitting on worn blankets. Like the musician, they waited for the generosity of strangers to find their evening meal.

    But not everyone who had nowhere else to go was a beggar, looking for small handouts from those who visited the mall. There was one man who sat on the edge of a flower bed, looking at the sky with a blissful smile on his face. He had become a regular sight to those who had to be there, but, unlike the beggars who were easy to ignore and quickly faded to the back of their minds, somehow they found it impossible to start ignoring this man. Some had tried to offer him money, hoping that this might alleviate whatever strange guilt it was that kept drawing their attention back to him. He would only shake his head, patting their hands gently and smiling like a grandfather.

    Sometimes he acted like a child, dancing among the jets that spurted water up into the air with those who really were children. Sometimes he acted like a scholar, sitting with someone he didn’t know, and intimately discussing the realities of nature. But all knew he was insane. After all, the man, they never had gotten his name, talked of gods. Of gods that no one had ever heard of, and everyone knew did not exist. He discussed them honestly and willingly, even with the most skeptic or rude passerby. He bore insults and critiques with the same blissful smile he wore now.

    And, when there was no one to talk to, the man talked to himself. It was almost like he was a participant in a many-sided conversation, one that only his side could be heard. There had been times when they had called the police on him, more in an attempt to get him safely to a mental institution than because he really bothered anyone, but whenever the cops drew near he vanished mysteriously, without a trace. By now, those who had tried to help in that way had learned to stop.
  2. "This is stupid," Maria said.

    "Hardly," her editor answered back, voice as cool and taciturn as always. "We can't do a segment on the homeless population if we don't have the most famous of the bunch listed. You have to talk to him and get his story."

    "Which one?" the reporter remarked dryly. "The one about the Voodoo love goddess or the trickster who likes to separate my sour-cream?"

    There was an audible sigh on the other end. This was the signal that Liam's caustic tone was about to come full stop, soon to be replaced by his sugary-sweet 'convincing' voice. It was the same voice that got Maria to take the sewer job last week, the meat-packing story the week before that, and snugly into his third-floor apartment bed-sheets days before today. It was painfully hard to ignore and only aided by Liam's gift for speech-making.

    "Liam, no."

    "Maria, I need this and I need you." It came at her full force. "This is the public interest story that truly hits home. With that new bill that's coming out, we need to remind people about the ones they forget. Won't you do it, for me?"

    Maria bit down on her newly manicured nail, straight teeth bearing like fangs. She could back out now, hold her ground, but she suspected her job security would be the next thing he'd be threatening. With a sigh, she nearly collapsed on the table, and sighed.

    "Fine," she said. "But you damn well owe me, and I'm not just talking about at work."

    "Always," he replied innocently. "See you later."

    Maria hung up the phone...and shouted an expletive that made several people pull their children far away from her. She stood up with her notebook and recorder, and eyed the food-court, searching for the flowerbed. The crazy bastard had to be here somewhere...

    And just like clockwork, there he was. Laying by the azaleas like he had not the care in the world, smiling like his world couldn't be better. But, what made the reporter halt, was the presence of someone else. A lady had approached the man, carefully, kneeling by his bench. She was dressed to hide, wearing a brown trench coat with a scarf over her hair, and sunglasses to hide her eyes. But what she failed to hide was the expensive pink pumps she was wearing, the signature bracelet around her left wrist, and all the other small touches.

    Viola Strong? Maria gasped, and quickly hid by the bushes. The fallen Heiress...oh god, this is perfect! Front page, here I come...

    "Excuse me," Viola said softly. "I need...I need to talk to you."
    #2 Ravenwoodwitch, May 26, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: May 26, 2014
  3. The crazy man on the Pearl Street Mall almost always wore the same clothes. A pair of old, overlarge slacks, tied around his waist with an old, orange bandanna. Heavy boots, and a grey, collared shirt with a hole in the elbow. A long black coat sat on the wood that surrounded the flowerbed, right beside him, always within easy reach. Today, though, he wore a green beanie, almost as though he had known that something new was going to happen, and he had felt the need to make a small change himself so as to best greet it.

    His eyes found Viola long before she spotted him, but, not wanting to make her feel uncomfortable or risk scaring her off, he quickly turned his attention back to a tulip, one of the first to bloom as the winter weather changed to spring. His fingers stretched out lightly, stroking a leaf and then a petal. The flower seemed to shiver under his gentle ministrations.

    As soon as Viola spoke to him he turned to face her, a soft smile on his face. “Good to finally meet you.” he said, gently plucking a second tulip and offering it to her. “How can I help?”

    Though he made no move to indicate his awareness, he was not unaware of Maria sitting near the bushes. He had expected her to be the first person of the day to come speak to him, but he was not surprised that she had chosen to delay her arrival until a more convenient time. She wanted to listen in. Almost all people were nosy. But there was no longer such a thing as privacy in his head. It was far too noisy in there for him to even remember that most people believed that what they thought, said, and believed was safe from the observations of others.
  4. Viola looked around, making sure she couldn't see a soul, than quickly approached the strange man. Her father had always written off the fellow; the rantings of a hippie who refused to get a job, nothing special. But something about his preachings had seemed honest. Maybe it wasn't true, and maybe she was wasting her time...but time was all she had now.

    "My father's fortune is gone," she said, practically kneeling down. "He's fighting with my mother, he won't even look at me anymore...everything is falling apart."

    Oh, such gold... Maria thought. She made her recorder was carefully aimed the microphone in their direction, slipping the earbuds on.

    "You keep talking about...I don't know, some higher force," she said, voice shaking. "I need to know, right now, what your higher forces would say about what's happened to me. How in the world this could be fair..."

    It was all so typical, and yet Maria couldn't help but find it all so pathetic. Her ow cynicism scoffed at the lady of fortune, fallen so far and turning to invisible hands of fate for some kind of comfort. Maria shook her head, and carefully put pen to her reporter's notebook. Fallen Star looks to cosmos for answers, she wrote. Seeks help from 'street preacher' to straighten her roads...

    Meanwhile, someone else took notice of the heiress's presence. The street musician, who'd been going on his umpteenth incarnation of Stairway to Heaven. With a messy head of red-curls, and a rumpled khaki jacket, he turned his unshaven face towards the flowerbed.
  5. The streetman lifted her up off of her knees gently, guiding her to her feet by standing himself. He then reseated, patting the portion of wood next to him.

    “Fair has nothing to do with life,” he told her, straight faced. “If life was fair everyone would be rich and we,” he paused, gesturing to himself, and then to the surrounding area. His hand wave seemed to take in the whole mall, maybe even the whole world. On the far side of the street, and veteran lifted his head, scraggly beard draped over a worn chin. He looked towards the two people seated on the edge of the flowerbed, his eyes vacant. “Would not be sitting on this street.

    “But I know this is not the answer you are looking for,” he told her. He set the plucked tulip down in his lap, and turned to take both of her hands in his own. “Close your eyes. Listen.”

    On the other side of the street, they young redhead picked up his guitar once more. For a moment he sat there in silence, and then his fingers began to move. His guitar had always felt like a part of him, but now it almost felt as though they were joining together in a way he had never known.

    As he was playing, the wind began to pick up. It gathered into the flowers and lifted their scent high into the air. On the far side of the street two children ran laughing from their parents and began to dance around the fountain. The same breeze lightly picked up Viola’s hair, throwing her curls against her face like the touch of a feather.

    The guitar slowed down, and the singer crooned out his final lines. The man once more picked up the flower, and he offered it to her in one hand.

    “Isn’t it glorious?” he asked, throwing his hands wide as though to bring all of life into his arms. “That is their answer.

    “But what they have to say does not truly matter. What matters is what you look for. What you look for to bring you joy.” He reached into his pocket, and pulled out the one-dollar bill he had accepted from a passerby earlier that day. He spun it around his fingers, and in an instant the one-dollar bill was a hundred. He put this in his other hand, and held it out so that it was even with the cupped tulip.

    “My gods aren’t here to give you the world. They are here to make you a part of it. But all of that rests on you.”
  6. "I don't take hand-outs!" Viola shrieked. She slapped the money away, the force causing her bandanna and glasses to fall to the side. As her blond hair extensions slipped into view, two very blue, very tear-stained eyes came into view. "That's all you have?! I came looking for a way to fix everything, and all you have are platitudes?!"

    It was all too good. Maria imagined the look on Liam's smug, stupid, irritatingly cute face when she brought him this slice of hysteria. As she fantasized over the outcomes, she failed to realize that she was leaning too far to the left. With a squeak she finally fell out of the false bushes and into full view. As her equipment clattered, Viola immediately zoomed in on the source of the noise. Seeing the case, her face began turning bright red.

    Uh-oh... The curly-haired musician thought, rubbing his unshaven chin. Sensing conflict, he stood up, putting his baby back in the case.

    "Can I go anywhere without you vultures chasing me down?!" Viola shirked, rounding on Maria. "It was one thing when I was rich, but now you're just being a stalker!"

    Maria didn't particularly care for that tone of voice; it was like someone was playing a soap-opera on high frequency. The reporter stood up, grabbed her equipment, and brushed off her jeans.

    "You're in a public place, Miss Strong," Maria said. "What happened to here is legit for me to collect."

    Viola froze, her stare at the reporter a indicative of a ticking-time bomb; and it finally exploded. With a loud screech, she charged at the reporter. Before her manicured nails could sink in, Viola was nearly knocked back by that same Guitar man.

    "Hey, HEY!" the boy, just barley 18, said with a goofy grin. "No need for that. All you're gonna do is become the next Youtube sensation at this rate."
  7. From the sidelines, the man stood up, his green beanie slightly crooked. His laugh was clear and sharp and cold, cutting through the fight and causing the three people to freeze as though ice had entered their veins.. "You wanted me to "fix" everything? You wanted me to wave my hands, and have the gods give you back your perfect princess life? What makes you think you deserve it?" The hundred dollar bill was in his fingers again, although it was uncertain how exactly it had gotten there, as it had flown away on a breeze when she had slapped his hands. He spun it in his fingers again, and it was a one dollar bill. "You sound like a spoiled child, running to daddy because someone stole your candy.

    "You are so focused on your own problems that you didn't even listen to what I was saying. This young man heard it far better than you did, and he didn't even know I was talking to him." He threw the bill over his shoulder, and, as though by skill, a gust of wind stole it, dragging it within a foot of the young man's hat.

    "You can come back when you are actually ready to listen."

    His tongue-lashing of the heiress finished, the man turned his attention to Maria. "Best of luck with your stories," he said, face severe. It was clear he was done talking for the day. Moments later, however, a strange spasm crossed over his face. He dropped his eyes to the ground, almost as though ashamed, and took off the beanie. He tucked it into a pocket, before letting out a deep sigh.

    "I will still talk with you, if you wish it. It seems that talking is all I can do at this point."

    With that, he turned away, resuming his seat on the flowerbed. Whatever brief spell he had cast faded again, and the three people standing before him were released, to resume screaming or leave as they pleased.
  8. Viola blinked, shame and anger coursing through her body. She tugged herself away from the musician's grip, and began walking again.

    "I don't have to take this," she muttered, putting her glasses back on. "I still have my dignity."

    Not in this lifetime, Maria thought. She stopped the recording on her little device, just as the musician bent down and scooped up today's earnings. Putting them somewhere safe, he returned the Fedora to his head, and shot the reporter a smile.

    "Hey," he said, holding the guitar case. "Dollar for your favorite ditty?"

    "No thanks," Maria said politely. Instead, she turned back to the now quiet man, who still looked to be lost in a world beside his own. This was really the man that Liam assigned her to talk to, the one who he believed readers wanted to see? As she stared back, she began to see why Newspaper were beginning to be a dying breed. "Excuse me; I'm a reporter for the local paper. Do you have a few moments?"
  9. The streetman sighed, but patted the edge of the flowerbed as warmly for Maria as he had for Viola a few moments ago. "Always," he told her, kneading his thumb into the palm of his hand.

    A few shops down, seated at a two person table in the outdoor portion of a small restaurant, someone else had noticed the exchange between the two men and the two ladies. But, instead of his eyes following the retreating figure of Viola, prancing down the street with as much dignity as she could muster, he was watching the two seated on the flowerbed. Or, more specifically, he was staring at the hands of the streetman. He tried to take another bite of his entree, but somewhere between plate and mouth the fork got lost. Instead of eating the bite it planted on the side of his cheek, dribbling red juice down his chin and onto his trousers. The man swore quietly, quickly wiping off his face and trying to clean the spot off of his clothes, but within a couple of seconds he was looking at the man again.

    All of his life, Vincent Krause had wanted to be a magician. When he had been young he had dazzled his friends with card tricks, making things appear and disappear. For a while, he had been making it good in the amateur magic circles. But in the time between his success as a teenager and now in his mid-twenties, he had lost the big-leagues. A couple of evenings a week, he might get a gig at some second-rate hotel, doing simple magic tricks for a small audience, but he dreamed of the crowds, thousands of people watching him for the smallest slip-up as they waited, desperate, for him to reveal his act.

    But he had seen the streetman change the bill from a one into a hundred, and then back into the one, and he still had no idea how the man had done it. The trick had been nothing like anything he had ever seen before. Not only that, but if the man had the money to hand out hundreds for the sake of getting someone to believe, what on earth was he doing sitting on the streets every day in those kinds of clothes? Vincent couldn't figure it out, and it bothered him more than he was willing to admit. Maybe, when the reporter was gone, he would go up and ask him. Give him another dollar if he could repeat the trick. Just... one more time. Then he would surely be able to figure out the secret.

    "But I doubt I will have the answers you are looking for, either." The man continued.
  10. "Oh, you likely will," Maria countered, setting the recorder on the flowerbed. "I'm doing a piece on homeless and severely poor in the area. You are a pretty prolific figure, and I was curious about all this talk of gods and deities..."

    "Shoot, you could have asked me that," The guitarist said, hoisting the case onto his back. "I'm here nearly everyday and hear it all the time."

    Maria quirked a brow. "And you are?" she asked. The Guitarist tilted his fedora.

    "Name's Duncan, Duncan Pierce," he said. "Musician extraordinaire, soon to to be the next big name."

    Otherwise known as a bum with no desire to get an actual job, Maria inwardly concluded. But she kept the smile big and wide on her face, nodding her head. "Well," she said. "I'm sure you have a big future ahead of you, but I was looking to talk to our friend here."

    "Oh, no, we don't know each other," Duncan waved a hand. "But I do see him a lot...think I even used my tips to get him food at one point."
  11. The man seemed to miss the conversation that was passing before him. His eyes were unfocused and his gaze was internal. One corner of his mouth twitched slightly, almost as though he wanted to say something but the thought would not actually leave his mind by way of his tongue.

    “The gods have nothing to do with my being poor,” he told Maria, once the conversation between her and Duncan came to a tenuous hold. “Much the opposite, in fact. Money will buy people’s ears, but only as long as you continue to pay. I needed to find those with more honest ears and open minds.”

    He paused, picking up the crushed tulip that had also fallen to the ground when Viola had left so abruptly. Its petals were bent and crushed, patterns of dark wetness over it where the soft material had been embedded into the concrete. He sighed and tried to straighten out a leaf, but it fell off in his hand. He shook his head and set the flower aside.

    “Your ears may be honest, but your mind is closed,” he continued sadly. “I will talk, but what good will it do if you care not what I say, so long as I give you a good story?”
  12. "Oh, but I'm sure your story is fantastic!" Maria said, though she mentally pictured herself slapping him upside the head. "You certainly talk about some real fascinating stuff."

    Duncan pursed his lips. One once over of miss Maria told him more than enough about the reporter. Tall, tanned (Greek by the look of it) with a thick head of black hair just barely pinned behind her heart-shaped head. Her blue eyes were not into the conversation, and there was a cloud of pessimism that wouldn't lift itself from her shoulders. Even so, Duncan was always the cheerful one; he wished her luck all the same.

    He picked up his guitar, and began to walk away. Maria flipped open her pad, and flashed a smile.

    "So when did you first talk to these 'gods'?"
  13. The streetman took her insincerity at face value, attributing neither malice nor contempt to her words. She was doing her job, even if she only took him as a madman. Of course, he was a madman, at least by the standards of this world. The streetman had been forced to acknowledge that very soon after he had finally brought all of his gods into this world. He no longer saw the world the way that most people saw it. He viewed it through the eyes of each of his gods, and it was a tangled mess of possibility. The world was very lucky his gods were almost entirely benevolent. Had they not been, and had the streetman not had a good heart within him, he could have easily ruled the world.

    None of his thoughts passed over his face as he contemplated the reporter for a further moment. The gods were whispering in his ears, babbling incoherently over each other. They were a family, they loved each other, but they had been in his mind long enough that all of their petty squabbles were starting to rise again. He needed to find new people who believed enough to accept them. Otherwise the journey to the otherealm would drive that individual to a point of madness beyond salvation.

    "I found them about six months ago. I've been on the street for a little over one month."
  14. (sorry for the wait; this short, but this is a conversational moment, so there's not much to add on XD)

    Maria jotted down his sentence in her notepad, making a mental note to look up how he may have been before he had this 'epiphany'. Thus she employed a move she learned from her classes: she tilted her head to the side.

    "How did you, uh...meet them?" she asked with a smirk. "You get a text?"

    Duncan, meanwhile, was halfway down the walkway when he bumped into someone ahead of him; someone who smelled of expensive Marigold perfume. He blinked up at the distraught Viola Strong, who glared at the man.

    "Don't move!" she barked. "I...lost my contact."

    "Huh," Duncan said, looking at his worn leather shoes. "....need some help?"
  15. “I was high,” the streetman replied, his words honest and free of all guilt. “I had been with a meditation group for several years. The goal was to reach samadhi, in which the consciousness of the experiencing subject becomes one with the experienced object. One of the newer members of the group had an isolation float tank, which he was willing to let us use for free.

    “Unknown to me, he spiked the water I drank before entering the tank with ketamine. And, while in the tank, my consciousness fled from my body. While away, it found the Void, and one of the beings that existed there.

    “Jai was unwilling to let me go. It had never experienced a new thing before. So it followed me back. And, eventually, it convinced me to go get the rest of its brethren.”
  16. ((OOC: Apologize for the wait))

    "Oh, uh..." Maria blinked, surprised at his sudden honesty. This story was fast progressing to be something Liam would only be minorly interested in. But, in the long run, she had done her job. "Well, that should work; thank you."

    Something about hearing that name was unsettling, and the reporter now had a very strong urge to leave. She turned off the recorder and collected her notes, giving the man one last thank you. Liam was gonna hear, and pay for making her do this paltry job; now she was sure of it.


    "Of course I do, you nitwit!" Viola snapped. "Does it look like I can see?!"

    "Geeze," Duncan said, getting down on his hands and knees. "No need to snap. Just asking a question."

    The former heiress rolled her eyes. She was about to give up, utterly frustrated with life, when the red-haired man produced the lens for her, a free smile on his face.

    "Try not to be too down, eh?" he offered. "Life's too short to spend it moping."
  17. The streetman accepted Maria’s quick departure with the same strange smile he had given to Viola not long ago. The talking had wound up being just as useless as he had suspected, but he wasn’t bitter at being asked to share his story. For now it did not truly matter that no one believed him. His gods were patient. They had waited an eternity to come back together, and despite their disputes they were not truly in any hurry to separate again so soon.

    Someday, of course, they would not be so patient. At that point they would want him to take more drastic measures. And he would, because they had become his only calling to life as soon as they had found him. He was not bitter about that either.

    On the far side of the clearing, at the patio of a small restaurant, he saw the aspiring magician staring at him once more. The streetman had noticed his presence, but had not acknowledged it before this point. At that time his attention had been owed to Maria, and it would have been rude of him to ignore her. Now, however, he bowed his head lightly to the magician, inviting him to come speak whenever he pleased. Vincent quickly looked away again, turning his attention to the last small scrapings on his plate. A waitress came out, asked him if he was done, and he nodded. She quickly scooped up the bowls and walked back inside.

    Yes, it had been a strange day indeed. He rarely got so many people coming to speak with him.
  18. "oh...w-what would you know!" Viola said, snatching the lens. She carefully slipped her sunglasses off, and stuck the little lense on her finger. "Some bum who plays tricks for pennies!"

    "Hey, I made $100 today I'll have you know," Duncan said. "I get a lot of people actually. You'd be surprised how many people miss a little face-to-face soul."

    "Shut! Up!" She said, flinching under her own fingertips. She shuddered and shaked in her attempts to reaffix the lense, jerking the hair scarf off her head. Finally, the lense slid to the floor yet again, falling in a slushie spill. Viola froze, shook from anger, than collapsed on her knees.

    "Oh god!" she sobbed, body shaking. "Why is this happening?! What happened to me life?!"

    Duncan was rooted to the floor, unable to take his eyes away from the sobbing heiress. He could still remember what glimpses he caught of her on TV; strutting around like the world's biggest peacock, with a fine-body and a smile that always made him feel like he could walk that extra mile. She really was a star to him, super bright and way too far for him to ever really have. But now the golden-child had crashed on hard ground, dimmed and broken.

    Breaking away from his own thoughts, he slowly drew closer, and offered a hand. She glared at it first, than took it, wobbling back to her feet.

    "Wanna grab some sandwiches?" he offered, face blank. "It's not charity; you can pay me back if it honestly makes you feel better."

    Viola wrinkled her nose....but the lines on her face showed she was clearly not ready to be 'too good' for this, not anymore. So, with a sigh, she slipped her glasses back on and nodded her head.

    "I do need someone to help me since I can't see," she muttered. "Fine."
  19. Compared to the people who gathered around him at about lunch time, the remainder of the day for the streetman was quiet and easy. The magician never did come over to talk to him, even though the streetman felt his eyes on him whenever the young man walked past.

    Vincent had a moderately well paying performance tonight, scheduled at a bar a couple of blocks north of the street mall. It was a place that paid him to come by once a month on their “night of magic,” and perform simple tricks for the pleasure of a drunk audience. Vincent always did his best to oblige, and he often got tipped quite generously.

    But, between the end of his day-job as a shelf-stocker and cashier for a small store and his late-night performance, Vincent had nothing to do. He never returned to his dingy little flat, except when he needed to sleep. Therefore, he had become quite familiar with all of the various entertaining shops that lined the street, and they with him. He spent most of his time in a toy store, which also provided the neat little tricks that most magicians used to entertain an audience. Vincent was well beyond them in terms of his own skill, but he still enjoyed playing with them, and the owners of the store did not mind. His antics often tempted the children into purchasing their own sets.

    The night went moderately well. Most of his tricks were just that; simple bar tricks designed to tempt a few dollars out of the drinker with feats that baffled their minds. He worked with the patrons individually for most of the night, betting a round of drinks versus a few dollars on games with quarters, dollar bills, glasses, and the drinks themselves. The main reason that the night only went moderately well was that the owner of the bar chose to hand over his time, the one chance he got to do a big trick for the crowd, over to a young band. The lead singer was his nephew, and surprisingly good. Vincent did not tell exactly how much the loss of his hour bothered him.

    But the pay was too good to complain, and Vincent rarely messed up enough to have to pay for a round of drinks.

    It was a little after one am when he finally left, what with his paid shift being over, and there being no new drinkers on whom he could play his tricks. His car was still parked near the street mall, so he wandered back towards the mall.

    It was dark, but the moon was bright enough that Vincent felt more than comfortable wandering down the street. His hands were shoved deep in his pockets to protect them from the cold air of the late-summer nights. But all of the superstitions about the darkness had not left him, so when he saw the shadows in one of the alleyways Vincent came to an immediate stop. Drifting through the night air, the sound of someone getting beaten by a group of men came to his ears. Vincent stood, rooted to the spot, far too fearful to actually intervene, but too kind-hearted to leave the victim to his fate.

    For a minute or so he stood in silence, the sounds of the continued beatings making him sick to his stomach. Finally the dark figures vanished, retreating deeper down the alleyway and away from their target. As soon as he was certain they were gone, Vincent hurried forward, prepared to help in any way he could.

    “Are you alright?” he asked as he drew closer. No, of course the person wasn't. Who would be? “Is there any way I can hel...p?” But the figure was standing up, lightly brushing the dirt off of his clothes. It was only at that moment that Vincent recognized the streetman he had been staring at all day.

    To his complete and utter astonishment, the man seemed to be completely alright, despite the fact that he had obviously just taken a very severe beating. Irritation bubbled up within him. “Are you Houdini, that you can take a beating without harm, and make a hundred dollar bill appear from midair?”

    By this point the streetman had finished dusting off his clothes. He turned to Vincent and lightly rested his hand on the young man's shoulder. “No. I'm not.”

    For some reason, that one statement completely stumped him. “What did they want, anyways?” he finally managed to ask.

    “Someone to whom they could prove their drunken superiority.”

    “Why... why didn't you fight back?”

    “Because that would only have kept them at their game longer.”

    There was another moment of silence, before Vincent finally asked, “Will you be alright?”

    “I will be fine,” the streetman replied, a small flash of teeth reflecting off of the late-glowing street lamp. “And I will see you again soon.”

    “Yes,” Vincent replied quietly to his retreating figure. “Yes, you will.”

    The next morning, there was no way to tell about the strange night adventures of the streetman. He had picked a different seat this morning, settling himself closer to one end of the mall, rather than right in the middle. However, despite his appearance, there seemed to be something dark in his eyes.

    “This is not working,” he said quietly.

    There was several moments of silence.

    “I know,” he finally replied to the air, his expression sad. “Time.”
  20. "I said get out!"

    The door to the nearby Jeweler was kicked open, and a rugged-red-head was tossed head first out. He hit the gutter with a muddy splash, smearing dirt on what was already a dirty coat. A guitar case followed, landing safely (or maybe not, depending on your outlook) on the red-head's chest. The disheveled man rolled up, and grabbed his guitar.

    "You could have just said no!" The red-head argued. "God, what a jerk."

    He brushed off his clothes, before his eyes landed on the street man. He jumped, before flashing him a smile.

    "You again," he said. "Man, I thought you were a ghost for a second..."
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