Scene setting : Frank Malone’s apartment – Gantz Series.
co-written with Chor.
Razorbackwriter: The ride over in the taxi had Frank feeling a little heady. Was it the music or the scent of exotic spices? This cab driver’s wife must have been a good cook. Trying not to burst out laughing when the cabbie started to sing a long with one of the tracks playing on his radio, he instead placed his arm around Isa and whispered in her ear. “Only in New York.” You had to admit the whole thing was comical. The smell, the music, the cabbie’s lack of musical training. Least now Frank had an idea as to why the guy was driving cabs and not appearing in an off broad way musical. Finally, the ride was at an end as the cab pulled up in front of Frank’s apartment building. The guy did understand English after all. Paying the cab driver, Frank was handed a pamphlet for the cab driver’s wife’s restaurant. No wonder the cab smelt the way it did. He was carting spices in the boot.
“Ah…the Sitar Restaurant. Might have to try that. Thanks.” Frank got out of the cab on his side, only to race around and get Isa’s door. He offered his hand to help her out which he hoped she would take.
Any nervousness that Frank might have felt about bringing Isa up to his apartment was quickly quashed, since he couldn’t get over her smile and the way she handled the cab ride over like a pro. It was often cheaper to use the cabs than trying to find a parking space, which is why Frank favored them as much as he did.
Taking Isa up the three flights of stairs, they finally came to the front door of Frank’s apartment. He rummaged for his keys, before opening the door. The tell tale creak of the hinges showed that it could do well with a bit of oil. Frank dashed in and immediately started a vain effort to tidy a little. Picking up old pizza boxes and Chinese take out containers – hurrying to the bin. He was like a fiend in racing about. Clearly he wanted to impress Isa if he could. Soon, he came to a stop and then clapped his hands together. It was almost like he didn’t know what to offer her first. When she had been left at the door, she may well have seen his study that was where the [i]”wall of mystery”[/b] was. All the cases, Rory…pictures and reports all tacked up on a massive board that covered half the room.
No doubt she would have questions.
Chor: While Isa’s family was still adjusting to American life, her father began work in the city. The money he sent the girls from his job paid for the small three-year stint they spent in upstate New York. The place was lovely, quiet, and Isa’s mother often marveled that it was so alike Germany. Isa was too young to even remember, but she knew in her heart that – from the few visits she’d been granted to see her father in the city- that downstate is where she wanted to be. Upstate was nice, but the city was beautiful. It had colour, originality, and brought so much more brightness to Isa’s life. This cabbie was what brought Isa to this place, it was the reason she resigned herself to the city and sold her soul to the idea that she could make it better one body at a time.
“Indeed,” she agreed. Only in New York.
The restaurant’s pamphlet, printed on bright orange paper, make Isa’s stomach growl furiously. Grateful of the loud, overwhelming music, Isa waited as Frank rushed to the other side and allowed him to help her from the automobile. He was acting very strange, which made Isa’s brow raise at the behaviour. As they entered his apartment, nothing really caught her attention as being overly filthy or too out of order. It was the home of someone who didn’t have the time for the little things. Sweeping, dusting…eating, sleeping, you know? She shook her head as he moved around like a whirlwind. He didn’t have to, she was not judging him.
Something her eyes gazed upon removed her attention from all else. It was the study, where it was clear Frank was attempting to solve the very case that destroyed his life so wholly. She was unable to keep herself from it, as if it had reached its saddening tendrils out to her and pulled her in. When Frank would clap his hands at the end of his cleaning spree, she’d already be gone, poring over the files and pictures like it was her own place. She pulled herself away, then, thinking the situation a bit inappropriate. Shutting the door as she exited, Isa went to look for Frank.
Razorbackwriter: Frank had stuck the Indian restaurant’s pamphlet to his fridge while Isa had been drawn into his study. It was only natural for her to take a peek, since everything that was pinned to the wall was to do with the case that had consumed Frank’s life. Quietly, Frank came up behind Isa as she was shutting the door to his study. She would find herself facing him as she turned to look for him.
“Probably best to let that all be tonight.” He referred to the wall of investigations. For a moment there was an awkward pause, as though Frank really wasn’t sure what to do next. But his body had a funny way of showing just what he needed. A pained growl was audible and he rubbed his stomach with a rising blush to his face. “I can’t remember the last time I ate. Can you?” Frank had probably consumed a couple of gallons of coffee to keep himself alert, but as for food, he couldn’t even think of what he had last. Remembering the pamphlet on the fridge, he made a gesture towards the kitchen. “I’ve got nothing in the fridge except for some frozen dinners and that shit isn’t fit for consumption. Say, how about I order some Indian from the restaurant the cabby recommended.” Frank dashed back into the kitchen and took the pamphlet off the fridge door.
“Couple of curries…a few naan. I’ve got beer.” His face now hopeful that Isa would take Frank up on the idea. “Got a few movies we could watch while we eat.” Frank clearly had not dined with a lady in a long time. He was as easy going as they came.
Chor: Isolde felt embarrassment crawl about her skin as she turned right into Frank, nearly walking straight into him. She found herself nodding in agreement; they’d had about enough of that for the day. At the mere mention of food, Isa’s stomach replied for her, louder this time than in the cab, and she gave an almost guilty look.
“I can’t even count on my fingers the amount of days since the last time I really ate, ” she said shyly, feeling foolish about it. She could only imagine what he thought of her now as he truly realized the extent to which she was allowing herself to rot away. Isa always fed her cat, she always made sure everything was finished with bodies, always did her job to the fullest, but never found it of great import to nourish herself. Her bottom lip found itself between her right lateral incisors, biting gently.
“Anything sounds good, really,” Isolde told him, not wanting him to worry about any special kind of food. She’s never been picky. At the mention of beer, Isa was the slightest bit conflicted. She wasn’t a drinker, for reasons she didn’t like to think about, but she felt safe with Frank. One wouldn’t hurt?
“Movies? Sounds good.”
Truthfully, Isa has seen very few movies in her short life. As a child her family owned one movie which they watched repeatedly and in school she didn’t have time for the cinema. Now? Well, she has even less time.
Razorbackwriter: Then it was settled. A curry night with a movie or two. Both would probably fall asleep on the couch, but Frank really didn’t mind. This was the closest he had come to actually relaxing. What he didn’t realize was that he had turned off his phone, so Tommy’s message had gone to message bank. It would be some time before Frank bothered to check it. Taking the pamphlet down, he used his landline to call the number on the back, and leaned against the doorway to his kitchen as a lady with a strong Indian accent answered on the other end of the line.
“Could I order a number 4 mild, with extra cream and a number 16 medium. Oh and a couple of naan breads.” Frank gave the lady his address and was told the meal would be there within the hour. They must have been having a busy run. That was good enough for Frank, who didn’t mind waiting. He keenly wanted to change out of his suit into just jeans and a t’shirt so that he could truly relax. Hanging up the phone, Frank explained how long dinner would be. “We have an hour or so before the take out gets here. Why don’t you rummage through my movie collection, while I go get changed.” Offering a light smile, he strolled into his bedroom, leaving the door open slightly as he took off his shirt and tie, dumping them both in a hamper. On his back you could see a tattoo on his right shoulder of an eagle. It was well detailed and had been there for sometime. It must have had some meaning to him, and that in itself was another story. He was well built and you could see that he did work out, from the tone of his muscles. Frank then went into his closet and dug out some jeans and a black t’shirt, before getting changed, while Isa amused herself. By the time he was done, he came out looking like a completely different man. He even ran a comb through his hair. He was still a tad rough looking, but in a handsome way.
His DVD collection had everything from thrillers, detective stories, supernatural and of course a stack on the Marvel comic superheroes. There was three book cases filled, and a great choice for Isa to choose from. Wandering into the kitchen, Frank took two beers out of the fridge, then walked back into the lounge, offering one to Isa.
“Found something you like?”
Chor: This very situation was odd. Isa had never really stayed the night at a man’s house, save it be for overnight cram sessions with her laboratory partners in med school. Now, she’d just met this man and she was wholeheartedly ready to stay the night; no questions asked. It was definitely a change in character for Isolde, who mostly kept to herself lest she be interacted with. As Frank talked over the phone to the take-out place, Isa watched him secretly. His entire demeanor had changed from the first time she’d seen him. She could not imagine them having this same conversation and this same situation happening several hours earlier.
“Uh, sure,” Isa replied to his suggestion before he mosied off to change. Oh god, how was she going to find a movie? Isa’s television experiences consisted mostly of documentaries or interesting lectures and she didn’t want to bore him straight to death. He had a serious collection going, which made things infinitely more difficult. What if she chose the movie he didn’t like? Or one he just watched? With a sigh, she settled on two that sounded pretty interesting. As she turned, her eye caught the open door, just glimpsing the tattoo resting on his toned scapula. With that image in her head, she spun herself around, wide-eyed like a scared doe, and returned to reading the back covers of the films.
As Frank emerged, Isa peeked around once more, now glad to see him clothed. She looked at his casual wear and felt undoubtedly over-dressed for the occasion. She hadn’t planned for this…impromptu hang-out session when she’d scoured her closet for the day. Her hand reached for the two wedding rings on a chain around her neck, as it was a nervous tick, only to find them blocked by her button up. Oh well.
“Ehm, I’ve got World War Z or Shutter Island?” she said, holding the two up to either sides of her clavicle and looking forward to him. It was his choice now, because she figured the odds were better in pleasing him if she picked two. After his choice, she took the beer with a light thanks and opened it, the top digging happily into her finger as she twisted it off.
Razorbackwriter: “Shutter island it is then.” Frank made the choice fairly quickly, as he had watched World War Z too many times to even count. Taking the DVD box, he went about removing the disc from the case and then walked over to the entertainment system, where he inserted the disc into the machine. At this point, he looked back at Isa and asked. “You sure you’re okay being here? I don’t want you to think I am like…trying to make moves or..” There it was. Frank was about as out of practice of how to act around a lady as she was about staying over at a man’s apartment. It was the first time Frank had spoken about just the moment, rather than the case, or Rory’s death. He stood awkwardly for a moment – pausing to let her say something. In behind him on the wall, was a picture of Frank with his small son on his shoulders. Happier times obviously. There was no pictures of a woman in Frank’s life. He had removed those when she walked out on him after Rory had died and their marriage fell apart.
Frank toyed with his beer can, having not even opened it yet. His mind was now going over everything and now he wanted to do the right thing by Isa. “If you wanna change, or freshen up, feel free to use my bathroom.” Was he falling over himself? He meant well, but you could tell now he was nervous. Dinner was yet to arrive. Maybe they needed an ice breaker.
Chor: Isa was a little glad that Frank chose the psychological thriller. She really would have picked the medical inconsistencies and pseudo-science in the other film to shreds. She was that kind, yes…
Frank’s question really caught her by surprise. She nodded almost fervently.
“It’s fine, really. I think it’s better even,” she said, then thinking that too eager, added “…I mean if I go home I’ll just work.”
An awkward silence. A sip of beer. Yes; good. At the mention of changing, Isa wished she had something. She resorted to just pulling off her jacket, which was a huge deal considering she would probably die in that lab coat. After doing so, she noticed her skirt had come up a bit to reveal one of the many symbols that ran all the way up her side from the outside of both thighs to just under where her armpit began. The skirt was swiftly pulled down to cover her and she made herself comfortable on the couch.
“I’m quite alright thanks.” she said with a reassuring smile. He really needn’t fuss.
Razorbackwriter: Frank may not have said anything, but his eyes, oh they could talk as they followed her skirt up her thigh when she had taken off her coat. Were they symbols on her legs. He even moved his head slightly to the right as though that might help him see better, but no sooner had her skirt risen up, Isa had caught onto the fact and then quickly smoothed it down into place. As she wriggled to get comfortable on the couch, she said she was alright with hanging out at his place after all. There was a tension there between them. Like two high school kids on a date, not knowing what to say or how to move forward. But just when Frank was going to say something about the markings on Isa’s legs, there was a knock at the door. That had to be dinner. “Just a sec.” Frank said; making his way to the door and opening it to see a young fresh faced Indian boy carrying a large bag. “You Malone?” Yeah, he had the right place. Frank took out a wad of notes and pressed them into the boy’s hand as he took the take out dinner bag from him. “Keep the change.” There was at least a ten dollar tip, and the young boy grinned. “Thanks, man.” Frank gave a little shrug before closing the door. It was the least he could do, since his apartment wasn’t exactly in the best neighborhood.
Walking back into the room, Frank got an idea. He motioned with his hand for Isa to get up and come to the kitchen. “Get it while it’s hot.” he called, as he placed the bag down on the bench and started to take out the curry box containers. The smell was a lot like the cab that they had ridden over in, but better. In his own element, Frank went to take out plates and cutlery, handing a plate to Isa as she came in. “There is enough for four people at least. You won’t go hungry.” This was said with a smile, as he opted for the Lamb korma with some jasmine rice. The other container had Butter chicken in a mild coconut and tomato sauce. In a paper bag was some garlic naan, that was easy to tear off and use for dipping.
Once Frank had helped himself, he headed back to the lounge room, where he cleared off magazines and his ashtray on the coffee table. It was casual dining at its best and Frank reached for the remote to start the movie. Isa would be able to hear the pre movie trailers starting on Frank’s sound system, which was fairly loud for the size of his apartment.
Frank picked up his beer and offered a toast, when Isa sat down.
“To Rory…” he paused so that Isa could add the name of someone she loved that had passed away.