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 a left-handed form of human endeavor, noir au w/ taylor
Adlai Babler
 Posted: Apr 10 2017, 03:29 PM
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for Taylor

cast
Parker Emery as a detective's assistant.
Adlai Babler as a man in need.
Adrienne Kang as a politician's daughter.
Cora Sterling as a secretary.
Lottie Field-Daylily as a journalist.
Donald Weiser as a policeman.
...

thread warnings:
death/murder/crime, misogyny, tba




"This wasn't supposed to happen," says an unimpressed voice. It belongs to a tall man standing over a body, blood pooling around it after a gunshot wound to the stomach. There are a few people standing with him: a stoic dark-haired man standing opposite him who nods grimly, a curly-haired young man with no color in his face, a rail-thin youth absently polishing a gun. The tall man sighs and lights a cigar. "Well," he says, "I'll take care of it."

---


It's a rainy day in November when Adlai Babler crosses the threshold to the Allman detective agency, drenched to his bones and nervous. His eyes dart across the room like he's expecting someone to pop up out of nowhere. The air is thick with the scent of tobacco, some of it coming from a lit cigarette in the hands of an apathetic-looking brunette who only barely looks at him when he walks into the room.

His hands fidget. The girl at the desk ashes her cigarette and looks at him more directly, fixing him with an unsettling stare.

"Adlai Babler. I'm here to see Detective Allman," he says, not sounding half as confident as he means to. He's rattled, he's paranoid, and she stands up slowly to walk to the door to the office proper. This one is all wood, but set into the door to the foyer is a pane of frosted glass bearing the name Detective Norman Allman. He comes well-recommended and expensive, and Adlai isn't too hopeful he'll be listened to. Still, he's at the end of his rope. He has nowhere else to turn. He stuffs his hands into his pockets and watches her closely as she moves. He hears a gruff voice from inside say thanks, doll before she takes a step back and holds the door open for him.

"Go ahead," she says disinterestedly, so he does.

The tobacco smell is thicker in here and it nearly makes him cough. Cigarettes he can handle, but the fat cigar hanging between Allman's fingers makes his stomach turn. He looks around this room anxiously too, taking in every detail like he'd know if something's out of place. It's not just Allman in the room, either; he doesn't like that, but he's in no position to ask the third to leave. He makes eye contact with him for a moment, a reedy and dark-haired man a year or two Adlai's junior, he thinks. An assistant, a protege, something like that.

Allman gestures for Adlai to sit down and tells him to start talking. He does so, holding his hat in his hands, gripping the brim too tight. He clears his throat before he speaks. "I'm in danger," he says, slowly but urgently. "I need someone to get to the bottom of something before they lock me up for it or worse." And he spells out what he feels safe to say - it's not much - there's a stiff that needs explained away and the powers that be have chosen Adlai's back to rest it on, he's sure of it.

He neglects to mention how he was picked or why.

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Parker Emery
 Posted: Apr 12 2017, 08:03 PM
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It's been a dreary, drab morning that has spilled over into a rainy afternoon. Parker Emery has spent the majority of that time getting an earful from his boss behind the closed door of his office. It's the same as it always is - being told to stick to his job description, to keep outta the back room files, and stop thinking like he's some kind of righteous big shot.

He's no detective, not yet anyways. So he better start acting it.

Parker doesn't bother arguing back anymore. He knows his place and what's expected of him, does the rest of his job plenty well in fact, but that doesn't mean he's gonna stop helping people if he's able. No one else is doing it, and its on his own time so what the hell does it matter? It doesn't - but it also doesn't matter to Norm here, so instead Parker just sits there silently smoking through another pack of cigarettes, nodding when required.

What kills him more than anything is the fact that Norman doesn't seem to give a shit, about people. About anything, really. The days when Cora actually speaks to Parker, she tells him he looks too hard for the good in people - that he needs to give it up, it'll only get him into trouble. He's starting to think she might be right.

And he's hardly paying attention when Cora opens the door, interrupting their meeting, though quickly perks up when he hears a name he doesn't recognize. He can't help but wonder what would bring a fresh face to them on a day like this - and half hopes for the worst. The man that walks in is somehow not what he was expecting, soaking wet and looking about ready to crawl out of his own skin he's so nervous. When the stranger takes a seat, Parker ashes his cigarette and Norman sighs at the brief statement, seeming disinterested already. He doesn't say anything though, only makes a small motion towards Parker as he pinches the bridge of his nose.

Holding his cigarette between his lips, Parker shifts in his seat to pull out the small pad of paper tucked into the inner pocket of his suit jacket. After flipping it open to an empty page, he removes the cigarette from his mouth and drops it still burning into the ashtray on the side table beside him. From the same table, he picks up a pen.

"Well, sir, we're gonna need to know more than that if you really expect us to be able to help you. We're no psychics here, you know."




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Adlai Babler
 Posted: Apr 13 2017, 09:34 PM
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That frustrates Adlai, and he's not composed enough to hide it right now. His brows furrow. He doesn't like that Allman isn't doing the talking, either. Isn't he the detective? Adlai doesn't want to be stuck with some young sap who doesn't know what he's doing.

"I can tell you where and who," he says, and hates himself for the note of desperation in his voice. "And I can pay well." He reaches into the pocket of his well-tailored suit and pulls out a not insubstantial wad of cash. "Hell, I can get you more than this if you give me a day or two."

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Parker Emery
 Posted: Apr 13 2017, 11:01 PM
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Parker's no stranger to that look - the doubt - and he hates Norman for always putting him in this position. There's no way he doesn't know how bad it makes this whole agency look at first glance.

All of Parker's hard pressed efforts to prove himself better pay off once the bastard croaks - a feeling that flairs when he notices Norm perk up at the mention and sight of the cash.

Of course.

Though honestly, he'd be lying if he denyed any curiosity about where that money could have come from. That curiosity is absent in Norm though as he holds out his hand and motions for the money, which he only gives a cursory look at before tucking it away in his desk, finally speaking, "Go on."

Parker subtly shakes his head in disapproval, holding back from audibly sighing as he continues with a forced dismissiveness he hates but that's expected of him, "Alright then, so what are we talkin'? I'm sure you noticed all the papers on Detective Allman's desk - we're pretty busy here - so what do you need from us that you can't go to the cops for?"


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Adlai Babler
 Posted: Apr 13 2017, 11:11 PM
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#suicide




"Cops don't care about men like me," he says as delicately as possible. He could be referring to any number of things, really, they can take their pick; he just hopes the money's enough to make them ignore it. Adlai folds his hands in his lap to keep them from moving, tries to keep his breathing even despite his anxiety. "I need protection, first and foremost. They're gonna frame me up and make it look like I offed myself."

Again, he leaves details out, like how he knows the plan, like how he's done the same damn thing to some other poor bastard.

This post has been edited by Adlai Babler: Apr 13 2017, 11:11 PM

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Parker Emery
 Posted: Apr 13 2017, 11:42 PM
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Parker jots down a note on his pad of paper, then looks back to Adlai with a furrowed brow and even greater interest than before. He even shifts in his seat to face him more, "They?"

But Norm cuts in, knowing what Parker's body language means (knowing he didn't listen to a god damn thing all morning). He shakes his head as a takes a puff from his cigar, "Look, kid, this is a detecive agency, not some personal body guard company."

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Adlai Babler
 Posted: Apr 18 2017, 05:18 PM
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Adlai has been looking at Parker the whole time, since he seems to actually be listening, and he glances back towards Mann looking frustrated. "And I need you to get to the bottom of the damn thing, too," he says, feeling like he's repeating himself, walking in circles. There's only so much he feels safe saying, after all; and he knows that'll make things more difficult, but he can't be certain these punks won't just sell him out.

His fists clench in his lap, two tight balls resting on his soaked knees, and he feels like he's about to cry in anger and fear.

"And if you won't help me I'll take my money back and find someone who will, thank you."

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Parker Emery
 Posted: Apr 19 2017, 05:49 PM
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With Norm, it always feels like talking in circles, it's why what could have been a twenty minute conversation became an all-morning meeting. And it's another major issue Parker has with the man - he never really gets to the point, always talking around issues to absolve himself of any responsibility if something doesn't go quite how he wants it too. It's a poor way to go about detective work in Parker's opinion, but then again Norm's more interested in pay-outs and placating, so it's not like it matters to him anymore.

He get the impression that all his boss wants is for this stranger to stop soaking his office, that he might even give the money back to ensure it. Parker doesn't want that though, and feels like they should at least hear Adlai out and get him enough on their side to spill the whole story. The man's clearly desperate, what reason would he have to waste their time with nothing?

So directing a sharp look at Norman as he puffs away on his cigar, Parker offers,"Sir, let's at least consider-" but is interrupted by a comment about how Norman doesn't want to waste his time on a babysitting side-job, even if there is a case here. "Then let me worry about it - I already got my paperwork done for the week. Anything else comes in, I'll make sure Hansen takes care of it."

"You don't listen to a damn thing I say, do you Emery?" he replies, ashing his cigar.

Parker doesn't answer and Norman takes a long moment glaring at him, knowing the great likelihood of Parker going behind his back and taking the job for free is he declines the case. Wouldn't be the first time. So he relents,

"Fine."

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Adlai Babler
 Posted: Apr 20 2017, 08:10 PM
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Adlai is miserable. He feels stuck between the two of them without a damn thing to say nor any control over his situation. He didn't ask for some assistant's help, either, and he wants to shout him down and tell Norm he'd better take the case or else he's gone and his money with him.

Still, he doesn't know where else he'd go.

The moment of silence between Allman and Emery lasts far too long for Adlai's comfort, but he tries to be glad when it's over and the younger man effectively takes his case. It doesn't loosen his fists any, though. "Thank you," he says brusquely, eyeing Parker.

It's at this point that Norm rolls his eyes and leans forward. "Meanwhile I have real work to do," he says, folding his hands together. "Emery, take it outside."

Adlai tries not to glare.

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Parker Emery
 Posted: Apr 22 2017, 08:03 PM
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#xenophobia



If you were to ask Norm, part of Parker's problem (besides being Irish) lies with the fact that he doesn't see himself as an assistant detective, not really anyway. If there's ever been a more obnoxious case of work for the job you want, not the one you have, that would be him. It's clear no one ever taught the kid about the respect that seniority demands, like his mother never had the sense to teach him some manners.

And poor kid doesn't seem to realize yet, but his hearts too damn big for a city like this. Norm just wants him gone before his senses finally come to him, but with winter around the corner he can't afford to not have the extra pair of hands at the agency. Especially since Emery's actually competent, unlike the last guy.

When they're shooed away, Parker doesn't hide the subtly nasty look he gives Norm as he stands up, tucking the pad of paper back into the inner pocket of his suit jacket. He leans over to grab the remaining half of his cigarette from the ashtray on the side table, and nods for Adlai to follow him back out to the lobby area. Closing the door behind both of them, Parker makes his way over to lean against Cora's desk.

Re-lighting his cigarette, he breathes out a plume of smoke with a sigh, "I need a favor, Cora. You think you could swing by my place tonight to drop off any paper work that comes in for me?"

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Adlai Babler
 Posted: Apr 24 2017, 07:43 PM
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Adlai follows Parker begrudgingly, just barely managing not to toss Norm a dirty look of his own. The one Parker gives him goes a little way to endear him to Parker, but Adlai still feels like he's getting a raw deal. He's frustrated when Parker approaches the secretary, crossing his arms over his chest as he lingers by the door to Norm's office.

"You doing something the boss don't like again, Emery?" Cora asks dryly. She's clearly not too concerned about her own duties, considering she hasn't looked up from her novel since they entered the room.

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Parker Emery
 Posted: May 2 2017, 06:21 PM
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Briefly glancing over his shoulder to Adlai, Parker responds to Cora, "I guess you could say that. Norm wouldn't know a good case if it shat on his desk, so I'm doin' him a favor."

It sounds a little like he's just trying to convince himself, but he can't deny the curiosity he has for the man standing across the room.

"So where's a place I can take this guy to talk? He doesn't trust me any and I can't help until he does."

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Cora Sterling
 Posted: May 2 2017, 07:51 PM
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Adlai's deeply irritated by being talked about as if he isn't there, but he bites his tongue and just watches the two of them talk. Cora looks up from her novel slowly to fix Parker with a dull stare. "You've got a room somewhere, I assume," she says dryly.

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Parker Emery
 Posted: May 8 2017, 06:39 PM
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Parker returns an unamused stare back, not having expected much else from Cora. He sighs and makes his way over to the coat rack near the front door, grabbing his overcoat, hat, and umbrella.

Stopping just before opening the door, he motions for Adlai to follow him. Opening the umbrella for the both of them as they step outside he says, "I know a place down the block. You like coffee?"

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Adlai Babler
 Posted: May 8 2017, 08:30 PM
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He's more of a tea person, really, but he doesn't care. Adlai nods, replacing his hat on his head and stuffing his hands into his pockets. "That's fine." He keeps his jaw set and his eyes low as they leave the office and make their way down the street.

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