Author Topic:  [tilbury] now what? | conrad  (Read 491 times)

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498 Posts 17
[tilbury] now what? | conrad
« on: November 10, 2022, 08:05:23 PM »
January 2005, Morning
Tilbury Shipyards

Having had a girlfriend for all twenty-two hours, Isaac had learned two things: snogging was great, and girls were freaking expensive. He didn’t have to be a master of arithmetic to know that his pitiful savings from working the summer at Hippies Hotcakes weren't enough. Magnolia said it was “fine” and they could “split stuff”, but he felt weird about it. Like he had to do something to fix the problem (that wasn't that big of a problem in the first place). And for some unholy reason, the only solution that seemed reasonable was the one thing he probably shouldn’t have been doing: one last job for Duncan.

It was far from the first handoff Isaac had been part of, but it was the first time he asked for a bigger cut. More sickles obviously meant more risk. Duncan told him to just get the job done, and he’d give him better stuff next break. Isaac took that as the “get lost” that it was, but he was still going to do the job. Hood off—so he didn’t look like the miscreant he was—Isaac headed into the dockyard before the morning mist had finished clearing. He walked toward the handoff spot, some place off the main road, hidden enough that there would be a moment of privacy.

Seeing the dockworker he recognized, Isaac approached, slid his backpack off his shoulder, and offered the other wizard a nod.

@Conrad Sturm

186 Posts
Re: [tilbury] now what? | conrad
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2022, 10:48:19 PM »
This was Conrad’s fourth dockyard, if he counted the summer he’d worked for his father’s friend Uwe, and his fifth, if he counted the three days he’d spent in Rotterdam on the way to England. It was by far the homiest, by which he meant it had the same grimy, seen-better-days atmosphere as where he’d grown up, the same suspicious lowlifes hanging around, the same stink of fish and oil and salt. He kept expecting Uwe to come stomping up the dock and yell at him to get back to work.

In the interest of looking like he was working, and not looking like a suspicious lowlife, Conrad was rinsing off a bunch of stained crates behind a shed, waiting for Duncan with forced nonchalance. Honestly, he wasn’t looking forward to telling him that there had been no duffel of stolen rare potion ingredients hidden behind the secret panel in the hold of the Valerie like there was supposed to be. He didn’t know Duncan that well, but he’d been hoping that he wouldn’t have to learn the hard way what Duncan was like when something went wrong, because Duncan was a jerk even when things were going right.

He hoped Duncan was the kind of gangster that would just beat Conrad up in an alleyway (or, more likely, tell somebody else to beat Conrad up in an alleyway) because no way could Conrad cover this loss out of pocket. He already owed money to pretty much everybody in his life.

With this in mind, he was having a hard time forcing his nonchalance; every noise or flicker of movement was setting him on edge. He was twitchy to start with – his dad used to say he looked like a rabbit when he was nervous – but his ears were starting to ache at being constantly pricked, and his eyes were dry. Finally someone came over. Not Duncan – clearly there’d been some change of plan – but that skinny kid Conrad had met last time. Conrad kicked the current crate to the side and turned away from his task, but didn’t put his wand away yet. “I don’t have nothing,” he said. “There wasn’t nothing on the boat. So tell Duncan his source is shit.”


the show must go wrong

498 Posts 17
Re: [tilbury] now what? | conrad
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2022, 07:21:23 PM »
“Uh, what?” Isaac asked, his arm going slack as the backpack he’d been ready to trade nearly touched the ground. The stuff wasn’t there, this guy didn’t have it, and Isaac knew this whole day was about to go to the dogs. “Are you sure?” he asked—as if the dockworker hadn’t already checked—and peered over his shoulder at all the boats. Isaac didn’t know what boat it was supposed to be on, let alone where on that boat it was hidden. And even if he had, there wasn’t a chance he could sneak on board and check for himself. He’d have to trust this man, and that wasn’t going to work.

“I can’t tell him that shit, check again,” he almost threw in a please, but that was entirely out of character for the teenager. They were both on the hook for this, so admitting desperation wasn’t going to help. Isaac still had his backpack full of sickles, so at least he hadn’t screwed up his end of the deal. Still, he assumed Duncan would not be pleased when he returned with money and not ingredients. Imagining the way Duncan was likely to react, Isaac ran his hand over his face, looking upward and away from the other wizard. “Well, fuck.”
« Last Edit: December 14, 2022, 07:27:23 PM by samm »

186 Posts
Re: [tilbury] now what? | conrad
« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2022, 07:44:57 PM »
Are you sure? “Sure,” repeated Conrad, narrowing his eyes. The nerve of this kid, wanting him to go check again, like he didn’t have eyes or know how to use them. Short of taking the entire boat apart plank by plank, yeah, he was sure. He watched nervously as the kid’s eyes flickered past Conrad toward the marina, like he was thinking about going and looking himself, so he added offensively, “You don’t go in there. Workers only.”

This had the obvious shortcoming of making Conrad the obvious choice to go back and look again. “I look already,” he said testily. “You want I should take the boat apart?”

At last, he seemed to have gotten the point across that their scheduled trade-off would not take place as planned. His trading partner swore and looked away. Conrad gave one of his crates an impotent, ill-tempered kick – he’d half been hoping that he was stressing out over nothing and that this kid would say something reassuring like ‘No worries, it happens’ and that he would still get paid, and he didn’t take disappointment well.

“So,” he said after a moment, trying not to sound too obviously like it mattered to him, “How long you worked with Duncan? You know what he does, if that happens?”


the show must go wrong

498 Posts 17
Re: [tilbury] now what? | conrad
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2023, 12:00:23 PM »

“You want I should take the boat apart?” "Yeah, maybe, shit" Isaac said quietly enough not to be overheard, but with the exasperation of someone who wanted to be shouting. He dropped his hands to his sides and began to pace. "Long enough," Isaac answered crossly and stopped pacing next to the crate the other wizard had just kicked. He paused, took a breath, and tried to figure out a plan.

Nope, they were still screwed.

"Not specifically, but it's not going to be a happy conversation." And Isaac realized it wasn't even going to be the both of them having it with Duncan. Isaac was the middle man, Isaac was the one who brought things back to Duncan. "How many sickles do you have?" Isaac didn't know how much the stuff they were supposed to have was worth, but he imagined Duncan would want his money if nothing else.

"I am sure as fuck not paying for this by myself."

186 Posts
Re: [tilbury] now what? | conrad
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2023, 12:05:35 AM »
Conrad dropped several steps back when Isaac started to pace – it made him nervous when people were that agitated, made him worry about where the anxiety and anger would be directed next. He clasped his hands behind himself, turning his wand with his fingers as if to reassure himself it was there, as if it would be any good to him if he actually got jumped.

“Long enough?” repeated Conrad, incredulous and confused. He was mostly certain this boy hadn’t actually answered the question, and why was this pipsqueak running with Duncan anyway? Had they met in school? They’d probably met in school. Conrad edited his mental assessment of Duncan to include ‘friendships with underclassmen’, then tried to decide if he thought Duncan was any less intimidating for that. Probably not; Conrad had been his cousins’ tag-along underclassman for a lot of his school career and they’d made him miserable, so he mentally updated (upgraded) his assessment of Pipsqueak too.

He ignored the bit about having a happy conversation (sarcasm) and honed in on: how many Sickels do you have? “No,” he said emphatically. “Nix da, I don't have money. Why you think I work for Duncan for?"


the show must go wrong

498 Posts 17
Re: [tilbury] now what? | conrad
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2023, 05:52:28 PM »
Isaac's pacing abruptly stopped. A flicker of concern crossed his face, momentarily replacing his usual sarcastic demeanor. It appeared that both he and Conrad were entangled in a web of debt owed to Duncan. The gravity of the situation did not escape Isaac. “Fuck,” he said again. Isaac’s mind raced, searching for a way to extricate themselves from this mess. He glanced around, checking if anyone else was in earshot, before lowering his voice to a hushed tone.

“We can’t let Duncan hold this over us. We need to figure a way to pay him.” His voice carried a sense of urgency. He realized they needed to work together if they had any chance of resolving this situation, and that didn’t sit well with the teenager. “Look, I’m not saying we should work together or anything,” Isaac began, needing Conrad to know he wasn’t in the market for a partner-in-crime or new best friend. “But I sure as shit am not paying this debt by myself, understand?”

 Isaac began considering various schemes and cons that could potentially yield quick cash. However, he knew that the faster they accumulated sickles, the more dangerous their situation could become. Seeking a temporary solution, he eyed Conrad and couldn't help but doubt his dueling abilities due to his slender frame. Isaac's face betrayed his skepticism, though he still asked the question, albeit with a touch of doubt in his voice. "Are you any good at dueling?" he inquired, his expression implying his uncertainty.

186 Posts
Re: [tilbury] now what? | conrad
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2023, 11:41:33 PM »
Pipsqueak was clearly entering some kind of crisis-panic fugue state, which made Conrad nervous too. "Fuck," he said, echoing Isaac. This did not help the situation. He kicked his crate again, knocking it upside-down, but even though Isaac had stopped pacing, Conrad didn't feel at ease enough to want to sit. "Yeah," he said tetchily. "You said so, I hear you."

He passed his wand from one hand to the other, still keeping his hands behind his back. "You use your money for this?" he said. "Duncan doesn't give you gold?" For the first time, Conrad was feeling a slight sense of gratitude that he dealt with dangerous smuggled contraband rather than with Duncan.

(And Conrad kind of liked Duncan; Duncan was a straight talker. Said what he meant; meant what he said.)

For a moment he dwelled on their probably-ruined working relationship, before noticing that Pipsqueak was giving him a look like he was sizing him up. "What," said Conrad warily. He had his answer a moment later, and his own answer to Isaac's question -- absolutely not, he was garbage at duelling. "No," he said. "No good with a wand. Look --" he waved the hand that wasn't holding his wand in a sweeping, frantic gesture at Isaac. "Not our fault, right? Duncan runs his business like --" he gestured more frantically. "Ein Eimerkette. His stupid idea."


the show must go wrong

498 Posts 17
Re: [tilbury] now what? | conrad
« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2023, 03:06:38 PM »
Isaac's eyebrows furrowed as he cursed under his breath again, though this did nothing to alleviate the tension he felt. He halted his pacing, but the anxiety lingered, gnawing at the edges of his thoughts. He watched as Conrad kicked the crate in frustration, his own restless energy manifesting in a different form. And thoughts of what Duncan might do, or expect them to do, to make this right started to creep into his mind.

“Yeah, good,” Isaac replied, his tone tinged with irritation. The urgency of the situation left little room for patience or pleasantries, and Isaac’s frustration began to seep into his words. He sniffed hard, setting his shoulders. Conrad’s question about Isaac using his own money struck a nerve, and Isaac’s annoyance mingled with a hit of bitterness. “How else do you see us getting out of this?” he retorted, staring at the other wizard. Duncan expected to sell whatever Conrad and Isaac were supposed to deliver, so Isaac imagined they’d have to pay for it. Or worse.

Isaac had no idea what Conrad had just said—he was pretty sure it wasn’t English—nor did he have any interest in asking for clarification. “Yeah, it’s his stupid set up, not ours,” Isaac added, feeling like that was true, but knowing it wouldn’t make any difference. “But you try telling Duncan that.”

186 Posts
Re: [tilbury] now what? | conrad
« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2023, 08:55:25 PM »
But you try telling Duncan that.

Conrad shrugged. Rolled his head on his shoulders. "I owed people money before," he said. "Lots of money." Generally this had been in Ministry fines, and generally his family had paid it off for him, and he had suffered the consequences for several years afterward -- generally it was not, exactly, "No big, ja? I tell him, I can eat the cost, and he should change his stupid set-up." Could Conrad eat the cost? Definitely not, but it would be a real asshole move to let Pipsqueak do it, so sure Conrad could do it, what the hell.

He shook out his limbs -- first his arms, then his legs -- and bounced twice on the balls of his feet, like he was gearing up for a very intense workout, or more likely a very unpleasant beatdown. Swiveled his torso, extending his arms out to his sides to stretch them, said to Isaac in his best condescending older-cousin tone, "You go back home, go do school. Eat your vegetables. Whatever."

Then -- CRACK -- he Disapparated, leaving only his stack of wet, stained crates behind, and a pair of wet bootprints where he had been standing.


OUT


the show must go wrong

498 Posts 17
Re: [tilbury] now what? | conrad
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2023, 07:13:08 PM »
Isaac had also owed people money, but he was more concerned about physical pain than guilt at the moment, and Conrad’s offer to take the blame surprised him. People usually didn't do nice things for Isaac. (And Isaac never deserved it.)

Isaac watched Conrad move about, a slight surge of adrenaline picking up in his own body, before the older wizard gave him some half-hearted advice and disappeared. Isaac stood there for a moment, the absence of Conrad leaving an echoing void. His brows furrowed as he processed Conrad’s departure, and his parting words, until a frown etched deeply on his face. The frustration he had been feeling swirled, and Isaac couldn’t help but feel a mix of anger and resignation.

As he looked at the bootprints left behind, Isaac clenched his fists. He knew Conrad had just shouldered the responsibility, and that left him with a bitter taste in his mouth. A lingering sense of guilt, knowing Conrad was going to take the fall for their predicament, left Isaac feeling like he owed a different kind of debt. One that would be more difficult to pay off, one that would require more than money.

Isaac sighed heavily, a sense of annoyance washing over him. He didn’t like people doing nice things for him, it made him feel like he should reciprocate, and Merlin knew he did not want to be doing that. He couldn’t change what had just happened, and his sarcastic wit wouldn’t undo the mess they were in.

With another resigned sigh, he turned and began the journey home, his hood off, his eyes scanning the periphery cautiously. This was a dangerous area, filled with criminals and, perhaps even worse, individuals who extended kindness in a world where such gestures were rare.

/end

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