Description: Angelina is left with something to ponder after meeting her parolee, Seven, in Metro City Park. Could both of their stars be on the rise?
That last glass of Pinot Grigio had been a bad idea. Two was usually her limit and even then she didn't drink often. It's just that she'd had a long day at work, the bar had been hot and the wine had been chilled. As she stares down at the similarly coloured liquid in the sample pot she's holding, she has to fight back the desire to retch.
"So I'm presuming this is all going to be clear" she states hopefully, as she stares into the chest of the man mountain in front of her.
They'd had to meet in the park as usual, due to the fact her client couldn't fit in the incredibly cramped and low ceilinged office she called her own. It was a welcome relief truth be told. The decor in her work building was depressing and dated and there was more than a hint of dampness and decay. Not that the park was much prettier, but at least it was now starting to be rebuilt. After the hell that Metro City had been through the last few years, there were finally signs that it could possibly have a future. That it may be a place worth investing in.
Although the formerly popular attractions of the zoo, amusement park and ice skating rink remain closed, the parks's pathways are surrounded by fresh greenery and springtime plants. Being mid morning on a week day, there's also a tranquility about it, the peace only broken by the joyful cries of a young toddler out with his father.
"It would be fantastic if you could pass this month without any issues. Which reminds me, how is that job working out for you?"
The meat mountain looming over the parole officer would have trouble not standing out whether or not there had been a crowd in the park. As if being over seven and a half feet tall weren't enough to attract attention, the stubble-headed giant's black leather vest leaves his titanic girth on display - along with a tattooed gothic 'GLUTTONY' on his boulder-sized belly and 'ENVY' and 'PRIDE' on his right and left biceps, respectively. As parolees go, Samson 'Seven' Rodgers would perhaps find the most difficulty in escaping his terms without being recognized, with or without his police-style aviator shades.
"Clean as the Metro City Police."
The giant's Southern drawl rumbles with a gravelly bass tone as he answers Angelina's rhetorical remarks with cryptic clarity.
"As for that job..."
Samson's lips curl into a smirk as he pulls his glasses off, revealing a fading black eye - telltale sign of an injury.
"Seems my customer service skills were tried and found wanting."
As Angelina would know, Samson Rodgers was not employed in a traditional customer service role - rather, he had been hired as a bouncer for one of Metro City's many downtown drinking establishments.
"I'm sure you'll be pleased to know that, officially speaking, there was no altercation involved."
"Oh Samson" she says with an exasperated sigh. The forlorn look on her face suggests she actually cares about the man's welfare, or perhaps it's just her own success record as a parole officer she's invested in.
"I thought that work might be a good fit for you. I mean, there was temptation there for sure, given the environment, but..."
Her voice trails off as she stares into the distance for a moment before turning back to him with a forced smile.
"Not to worry! We'll find something else for you. I think I heard there was a seven eleven close to where I live that was looking for a security guard. Apparently they've been having even more shoplifters than usual of late. Something to do with the prices going up probably. It's been tough on a lot of people."
She pops the sample in her purse carefully, ensuring there's no risk of breakage or spilling. "If you get the all clear, I'll see if I can sort an interview out for you. Although maybe we'll wait till your eye heals. Either that or you could buy some make up."
A hint of a grin appears, softening the serious expression she's so far been wearing.
The black sunglasses return to cover the brown eyes of their owner, re-establishing the hardened look of the recently released convict.
"'My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into diverse temptations, knowing this: that the trying of your faith worketh patience,'" Samson quotes with the rote diction and practiced tonality of someone who has recited or received the words spoken on regular occasion. "Pardon, Miss Benedetti. I have endured many sermons on temptation in my time, and while they are embedded in my brain such that they will spill forth at the slightest provocation, they have yet to find their way into the depths of my sinful heart."
He raises his hands up to pointedly examine his knuckles before turning them over, showing the letters 'WRATH' and 'GREED' tattooed across them - and though they show evidence of past scarring, they lack for fresh cuts or broken skin.
"Mind, I did neither affect nor return violence upon the belligerent prick that decided to gimme a black eye. Mine was a crime of instigation. I am, by my magnitude -"
Suddenly, a red kickball comes flying to smack off of Seven's shin before rolling to a stop next to his feet. He turns his head down to look at the ball with a steely hidden gaze.
"- a magnet for confrontation."
He stoops down to pluck the scarlet rubber sphere off the ground in his wrathful right hand as the ball's tiny kicker toddles up with arms outstretched before tilting its head up to try and find the giant's face, mouth gaping.
"In spite of my peaceable nature."
Squatting down so that he's as close as he can manage to eye level with the tot - still doubling the child in height - he holds the kickball out for the toddler to take.
'Sky! Come back!"
The kid grabs the ball before running back toward their father, who gives a lingering suspicious look toward the titan.
Seven practically creaks as he returns to his full height.
"Seven Eleven. If I did not know better, I might register your recommendation as a joke in reference to my moniker, but I could never doubt your sincerity and dedication to my personal well-being, Miss Benedetti, nor your respect for my persona."
The dark eyebrows of the Italian American woman shoot up as Bible verse is recited at her. She's a practising Roman Catholic herself and as such is familiar with the words, but she didn't expect them to come out of this man's mouth.
"I'm not here to preach at you" she assures him. "Just to try and keep you on the right path and help you have the brightest future possible. I'm on your side, really."
Her brown eyes follow the direction of his as he inspects the tattoos but she doesn't comment on them.
"Well it's good you managed to control your temper. That's progress for sure. I suppose a man of your appearance is a likely target for a certain kind of person. Perhaps someone with something to prove."
She flinches as the red ball flies in their direction. "Or those too innocent to know better."
The boy named Sky gets a look of affection as he makes his way towards them and she holds up a hand of greeting to his clean cut father, perhaps as way of appeasment. Once he's back where he belongs, she turns her attention back to Samson.
"I admit I allowed myself some amusement at the thought of mentioning the job to you. I'm not always super straight laced" she states, whilst fiddling with a stray curl that's escaped her neat ponytail.
"That doesn't mean any lack of sincerity, dedication or respect though, as you say. How have things been with you otherwise? Any news to share?"
Samson's enormous arms fold across his chest as Angelina admits to her amusement.
"I believe you, Miss Benedetti. I imagine that you might even, on occasion, under the influence of an excess of caffeinated beverages, indulge in a curse word or two. One of the lesser offenders, perhaps, like 'Gosh darn' or even 'heck' on a particularly nasty day."
He laces his fingers together and flexes them until they pop before letting his arms drop back to his sides.
"As for my news, I have nothing of major concern to report, aside from a certain restlessness that comes from unemployment and abstinence coupled with a distinct lack of... excitement."
He reaches into his vest, pulling out a flyer.
"However, I believe that I may rectify my malaise, if I could convince you to endorse a new venture... which may qualify as gainful employment."
He hands the flyer over to Angelina - a flyer for an upcoming 'Rising Star' martial arts tournament - before looking at her expectantly.
"I'd never say gosh darn or heck!" the black haired woman exclaims in mock outrage before a small and smooth skinned hand shoots to her mouth. "Oops!"
There's a smile playing at the corner of her painted red lips, which is threatening to turn into a giggle.
She's soon back in professional mode though, nodding her head in sympathy and sporting her best empathic look at his account of the unemployed and sober life.
"Yes, a lot of my clients find that boredom can be the worst thing of all."
She's about to offer some suggestions and solutions of how to cope with this when he produces the flyer from his clothing. Taking it from him cautiously, she starts to read it, being sure to take in every detail, before handing it back to him with a concerned look.
"Well, I'm sure that this could indeed provide some thrills and excitement in your life, but I am not sure if it's the ideal thing for someone who has had anger management issues. I wouldn't want to encourage you to be engaging in violence, when I'm trying to help you stay clear of that kind of lifestyle choice."
The giant folds his hands politely behind his back as he bows his head in acquiescence to the woman. His posture seems to indicate that Angelina's reaction was not anticipated.
"I can understand your perspective on the subject; however, if you will allow me to provide a counterpoint to your point of protest," he says, sweeping a hand out in horizontal gesticulation, "I would contend that participation in such a tournament would allow me an outlet to expunge my negative energies in a regulated and officiated context, whereby my natural magnetism for conflict could be turned to purposes of entertainment for the masses rather than the asse-I mean, the unsavoury individuals that would normally seek to entertain themselves at my expense."
Seven places his fingers against their opposites, resting his forearms on his belly.
"I do not believe that it would be the first instance in which a citizen of Metro City with a criminal record and a history of violence was allowed to compete in organized combat. I'm sure you understand that I do not have sadistic intents; I am simply attempting to find a place for myself in this post-institutional world."
Angelina's body language is open, willing to listen to the man's point of view. She nods along as he states his case, before eventually offering her reply when she's sure he's finished.
"It is an argument that's been used before. I know that often street kids can find that boxing or martial arts can help channel aggression into a sport rather than less desirable activities" she admits.
"However, if I was to allow this and it still is an if, I would feel more comfortable if I was to accompany you to the event. If it all proceeds without issue, then perhaps you will be trusted to participate unsupervised moving forward."
She tilts her head upwards to look at him. "How does that sound?"
The giant rolls his neck with a series of cracks as Angelina speaks, drawing in air through his nostrils as his lips curl against each other in consideration.
"I would not have expected that such an upstanding and virtuous woman as yourself would be interested in the spectacle of exhibition combat, Miss Benedetti, but I am not at all unamenable to your conditions thus far. In fact, I will consider it as a compliment that you would take such an excuse to spend more time in my company."
Samson's meaty hands slip down to his sides, drumming idly on his thighs.
"Now, I am not given to gossip, but I hear of a rumour that you yourself are a practitioner of the martial arts, Miss Benedetti. Is that correct?"
The pale skin of the woman flushes at Samson's mention of her martial arts hobby.
"How did you find out about that?" she wonders. Though it's not exactly a secret, it's also not something she discusses openly outside of her dojo or small group of friends.
"I've been practising Aikido for over a decade" she admits, her calm confidence dissipating somewhat as the subject switches to less formal affairs.
"As for spending more time in your company, it's not as objectionable as that of some of the other client's I've experienced but my presence would be purely on a professional basis."
Seven's expression is unreadable behind his sunglasses as Angelina confirms his assertion regarding her proclivity for martial pastimes.
"Yes, I believe that that is congruous with the murmurings to which I had been privy. It's a pity that you aren't a practitioner of a practical martial methodology, or you might have had the opportunity to enroll in the tournament yourself."
Seven starts to tread slowly forward along the path, breathing in the park air through his nostrils.
"Mmm. City parks are pleasant, but they don't compare to the wilderness. Pretty to look at, but with neither adventure nor puissance. Like aikido."
He pauses to look halfway over his shoulder back and down at Angelina.
"Or parole officers."
"Excuse me?" the pretty parole officer questions, a flash of anger evident in her dark eyes.
"That isn't an appropriate way to speak to me, Mister Rogers."
Her posture has shifted and there's a certain tension apparent in her toned frame.
"As for your opinion on aikido, I'm guessing you've never fought a student of it" she continues. "It would be perfect for someone wanting to bring down someone like yourself."
She straightens the belt on her black blazer and takes a step closer to her client.
"I've entered a number of tournaments over the years, as it happens. I've even won some of them. Perhaps I will give this one a go, since I will be babysitting you anyway."
There may be just a hint of a smirk at the corner of the giant's mouth as Angelina's posture tenses.
"My apologies, Miss Benedetti. I believe that some errant thoughts may have slipped my filter," he says in a honeyed bass with a slight bow of his head. "I am sure that if you deign to participate in the tournament, the opportunity will arise to prove your assertion and ascertain who would be brought down first. Otherwise, I suppose that the opportunity would be improbable, given my impeccable behaviour and your considerable restraint."
"Hmph" is all Angelina has to say on that matter. She clutches her handbag, more as a gesture of security than any concern over it being stolen.
"I will talk to my superior and see what she thinks of the matter. They are aware of my extracurricular activities and have no issue with it, but it could prove troublesome were we to meet in the tournament. A case of mixing business and...well...not exactly pleasure, but I'm sure you catch my drift."
She taps a finger to her chin thoughtfully.
"I'll be in touch once I've checked things out. You behave yourself in the meantime and stay out of trouble, even if it decides to look for you."
With that she's turns on her sensible low heels and starts to make her way across the park.
"I will do that, Miss Benedetti," Seven assures the parole officer of his good behaviour, watching her as she turns to go with a lingering look. He raises a hand to his mouth to call after the brunette:
"And I'm certain that it would be a pleasure to face an experienced martial artist such as yourself. Let me know if you are ever in need of a partner to practice your art against. We could put a wager on which of us could elicit a submission from the other first."
She turns to look back at him, her ponytail of black curls blowing in the gentle breeze that has began.
"Rest assured, Mister Rogers, I never willingly submit."
And with that she's gone, back to her depressingly dingy office and piles of paperwork.
Log created on 10:42:35 04/23/2022 by Angelina, and last modified on 14:20:51 04/26/2022.