Demons and Other Unwanted Things

October 23, 2018:

Jake Lockley, a cabbie alter ego of Moon Knight, goes sniffing for information on mobster-related activity in Hell's Kitchen by talking with the staff at Luke's Bar. Owen Mercer and Luke Cage are more than a bit skeptical of the cabbie's intentions.

Luke's Bar, Hell's Kitchen

It could be any other bar in New York. It's rather unassuming, built into the corner of the ground floor of a brickwork building with apartments above.

A set of glass paned doors lead off the vestibule, opening up into a long and skinny main room that's taken up with a J-shaped bar, while small tables dot what little open floor there is. The left wall is compromised of multi-colored paned windows blazed with the occasional neon sign sporting this beer or that booze. The bar itself has a draft station and pair of speed wells along with a myriad of multicolored bottles that are shelved against a mirrored wall. The bathrooms and access to the office and cellar are at the back.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

It's getting late—or, at least it feels that way. It's a Tuesday, after all.

Outside, a cab pulls up and its 'off duty' light dies with the engine. Stepping out of the driver door is a man who looks almost like a caricature: newsie cap, pencil-thin mustache, and faded army surplus jacket.

He loudly chews a wad of gum as he swings open the entrance to Luke's Bar.

"Hey, hey," he chuckles to no one in particular, looking around slowly, before he steps to the bar and raps on the counter.

"Just the usual," he says with a smirk. This guy's definitely never been in here before.

Working behind the bar in a black Luke's Bar tee-shirt and ripped blue jeans Owen as usual has a few small cuts on his face and bandage on his hand. He chats amicably with the actual regulars telling some story that appears to include a small animal or possibly demon getting caught in his shirt from the pantomime that he is currently performing. The customers laugh appropriately and Owen only pauses his story when the newsie walks up to order.

He blinks and glances over at Luke as if to wonder if he's missed a new regular before asking, "Sorry bub, not sure what that is. But if you like I can make it up and pretend."

A Tuesday doesn't really require two bartenders, but Luke is in here tonight less as a boss and more of a patron. They say not to drink where you work, but what's the point of owning a bar if you can't dip into your own wares? He's seated at the end of the elongated J in a stool he usually reserves for his fiancé, his big frame making the furniture squeak as he swivels to shoots a look to the newcomer. "Sorry, friend. We're all out of Sarsaparilla." There is a little nonverbal communication back to Owen complete with shrug that goes 'your guess is as good as mine'.

The cabbie in the newsie cap pauses for half a beat, one of his eyes squinting or twitching before he regains his composure. "Huh," he says idly, chewing his gum like cud. "Didn't this used to be Gena's place?"

The man looks around as if only just noticing the decor. "Okay, maybe not. Huh." He shakes his head.

As Luke chimes in, the cabbie nods and then shrugs. "Tell you what, pal," he says, slapping his hand on the counter. "Howzabout a screwdriver?" He leans in just slightly, sliding onto a stool. "And maybe a bit of info, too, if you've heard it." Beneath his hand is a folded c-note.

The cabbie glances around and mutters a bit more loudly than is probably necessary to have a quiet conversation. "Wondering if maybe anyone's said anything recently about activity. The Russian type. The below-board type. Weird stuff."

Owen blinks at the guy who just walked into a very brand new looking bar, in a very brand new looking building and confused it for someplace else. He shrugs it off though and nods, "Sure." Normally he'd ask if the guy had a preference on the vodka, but he's caught a little off guard by the follow up on the drink order.

Normally bartenders are excellent sources of information on activity both above and below board. However, it's a little more complicated when the two bartenders are getting a bit of a rep in the community that is not entirely welcome. At the actual request he does a quick scan of the bar to see what the patron spread is tonight, just in case.

"Most of the talk 'round here is demons, demons, demons and when they ain't talkin bout the Red Sox, they're talking about the weird ass creatures running round the streets." Yes, it's Yankees/Red Sox humor but this close to the Bronx and getting knocked out of the series is a sore subject.

Luke looks from the stranger, down to the money, to Owen and then back again. Thereâs a sound that might be amusement but it dies out as Cage lifts his beer and drowns it out with a healthy swig. Yeah, heâs going to let Owen handle this one for now.

The cabbie sighs and waves one hand, the other still laying on his bill. "Yeah, yeah. Demons here, demons there. Everything's a demon," he adds, scrunching his face in a scowl, "unless it's not."

He groans and throws his head back, rubbing at his eyes with the one hand. "No unexpected real estate investments around here, at least? No, uh, borscht restaurants?" The cabbie quickly shakes his head. "No, no. That's not a thing, I know. Maybe, like, crappy tanning salons?"

The cabbie nods to Luke. "How about you, big man? You have any—" He stops mid-question at the look that Luke sends his way while downing his drink.

With a quick clearing of his throat, the cabbie shifts in his seat and looks at Owen. "Anything at all. Would be a /huge/ help. Trying to track this stuff down has been a real … pain in the neck."

At the cabbie's statement about demons, here there and everywhere Owen deadpans, "It's so true." while pouring the mixed drink. Though Owen then starts to think about things that are possessed by demons which would fall into more of a gray area… oh right, the drink. He stops shaking it and pours it and slides it over.

"So. First of all, Harlem ain't a hotspot for the Russians. It's got more soul than that." Says the very white, Irish looking dude. He adds, "And second, I hope you realize these questions are a real good way to piss people off? Like, not me. I don't give a shit, but plenty of places … are not so great for these questions? I'd guess most of Hell's Kitchen right 'bout now? And Hudson Yards? That'd be a great place to lose yer kneecaps or tongue if yer inta that kinda thing."

Owen picks up a towel ad starts to dry off a glass before his curiosity gets the better of him, "Buuuut… What exactly about those kinds of places or people might be interesting to a guy like yerself. Out of curiosity?"

Luke shakes his head a little bit at this situation, flicking up his glance from his beer to catch gazes with Owen. There's not a lot he can add at this moment that his bartender hasn't already, most specifically the not to subtle warning about just waltzing around offering strangers money for intel. "Sounds like a downtown problem."

The cabbie nods, pursing his lips and exhaling through his nose. "Yeah, I guess it's a bit more brunt an approach than most like. That's fair enough. But it's still all bark, no bite, you know?"

He reaches for his drink with one hand and slides his cash forward with the other. Taking a sip, the man closes his eyes for a moment. "That's pretty good," he notes.

"Look. I'm sorry to be all cryptic, but there's some stuff I /don't/ mind being a blatant jerk about and others that I /do/. Got a big stake in this thing and I'm just trying to stay on top of it." The cabbie takes a long swallow and puts his drink back down.

"One last thing," he says flatly. "Demons all around, for sure. But you believe that there's any other sorts of monsters?"

Owen looks skeptical to say the least about all bark and not bite. He's been bitten for asking the wrong questions or getting too nosy about stuff recently but not necessarily by the Russians. He shrugs it off with "Yer choice."

"Understandable. But that may put us at an impasse my friend. Can't tell ya specifics without specifics." Owen doesn't seem too put out by it, and he's not about to press for more information. The last thing he really wants is to go looking for situations to involve himself needlessly.

"Other monsters? Sure. My ex-girlfriend in a bad mood? Look out!" Owen smirks at the mention of it but then glances at Luke and says, "And I'm from Gotham, so yea. Man-eatin' crocs, murderous dummies, giant apes, that shit's all real. Why? What makes you think yer monster ain't just some run of the mill portal-shit demon?"

There's something about this guy that's just been rubbing Luke the wrong way since he arrived. It's not an easy thing to do. It prompts Cage to plant a hand on the bar and just casually stand up to his full six and a half feet of height. Just a subtle little indication that this conversation needs to wade back to shallower waters. "This city is a dangerous place. Sees lots of dangerous things. Look around we're living in one giant tabloid. Guess that means you're not from around here."

Looking from Owen to Luke and back again, the cabbie clears his throat and nods slowly. "I been around, for sure, but that tends to mean you don't know particular neighborhoods as much as you might want to. I had a guy for a while who'd help out, but…" He trails off.

The man pushes himself off of his stool. "I guess it comes off a bit loonie. Plus, you're right. S'probably nothing at all. Maybe it's demons. Maybe it's just the hallucinations of a hack who needs to get some serious sleep. Maybe it's Maybelline."

He arches his back, getting it to pop twice as he stretches. "Thanks again for the drink. And the reassurance that Hell's Kitchen's got one fewer problem than I thought it might. You take care."

The cabbie walks to the door and fishes in his pocket for his keys. "Still …" he says over his shoulder. "Might want to add some garlic to your diet. It does wonders to keep unwanted people out of your personal space." He smiles and returns to his taxi.

"Garlic." Owen nods at the man and then shoots a glance at Luke and says, "Guess I shoulda had extra garlic on those slices earlier." Along with a slight bobble of his head to indicate that the guy was not quite right and maybe needed some repelling of his own.

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