Part 10: Trial - Downtown Blues
Of course, getting home to see our dying wife would, well, not really be Henry's STYLE, would it? No. Let's go futz around.
- I'm certain there's something seriously wrong with that boy.
I don't think he sees other's [sic] as human, but as a disposable toy...
That's... a bit harsher than saying he's a jerk. Is this Doris 2.0 here? Did he kick your teeth in or something?
Don't want to talk about it?
Fine, let's go try to give back this cursed skull to the occult store owner.
Yeah, I figured not. It's like one of those Monkey's Paw 'bad gifts' that these people have just to be jerks, only we helpfully swiped it without him promising us it would grant us riches or something. I mean, that would have WORKED, it's just we didn't even need it! We're a PROTAGONIST, we steal stuff.
Do you miss the south?
- Do you miss the south, where you're from?
Can't be easy going from there, to this slum...
- There is a plentiful supply of slums in the south not to miss.
Dressing like this in Louisiana, does not make for a life of bliss.
Like a LARPing necromancer? Or do you mean in warm clothes? Honestly either is probably awful down there.
- The spiritual forces are stronger there,
and I do miss the mysticism in the air.
Any wife and kids?
- And outside of this shop, any children or spouse?
Someone that waits for you, to arrive at your house?
I try to capture every time some shop owner stares at Henry in goggle-eyed horror, because it cracks me up every time. Fair's fair, Henry comes across as fairly personable when you make him talk to people every day, but that doesn't stop him from saying the most awkward thing all the time.
- I'd rather not discuss that please.
It's not a topic I think of with ease.
- Oh... I'm sorry, I did not mean to upset.
Don't think about it, just try to forget.
Solid advice Henz. Problems? Just ignore them! It works for me!
Are you scared about the rise in crime?
- Are you scared about the rise in crime?
This alley must be dangerous at night-time...
- I do not fear the wrath of the human mortal man.
Whatever happens, is according to the cosmic plan...
So he's an occultic Calvinist?! Terrible!
What do you think of the local drug epidemic?
- What do you think of the local drug epidemic?
It's mindboggling how it's become so systemic?
- It's the morally defunct lacking spiritual hope and guidance that's the cause!
Oh, and probably how the job market is now, compared to how it one was...
"Compared to how it waaawz". "What?" "Shh, it's for the rhyme." "But that doesn" "I SAID SHHH"
- It's time I hit the road.
Don't turn me into a toad!
I said the theme of this update was crushing depression, and here we are at bad decisions inc.
How's your new house working out?
- How's the new house you had to downgrade to?
I know it's not what you're used to, but can you make do?
- It's tough to get used to not having the space.
Everything is so small, and cramped in that place.
What time do you close?
- What time do you close up shop?
The sign outside says 24 hours,
so when is there a shift swap?
- I had to let my only assistant go, in order to save on cost.
For now, I'm doing a marathon, a lot of sleep's been lost.
Good. Stay here 24/7, truly the sign of a business that's going to pull through.
Prices seem to have gone up?
- Prices in here seem to have gone up quite a bit!
Can the local customer base really take the hit?
- I have no choice, the prices needed to bloat!
It's the only way I'll be able to stay afloat!
Buddy, I know it's probably too late to cut and run, but have you ever heard of the sunken cost fallacy? There may be no saving this puppy. I'm sorry, but a super-modern pharmacy in the middle of slumsville after the mills closed MIGHT not be the thing.
- I don't mean to sound like a recluse,
but it's time for me to vamoose...
Do any of my coworkers come often?
- I can't help but ask if my coworkers lament.
Do they often come here, for a product of ferment?
There is no non-gossip reason for this question. Henry's eternal quest to feel superior to somebody for any reason continues (ignoring the fact that Henry ALSO comes here every day, because he's lonely and doesn't like spending time with his wife).
- The big office that shut the mills, right? Yeah, there's more than a few.
There's more drinkers than you think, coming here straight from that zoo.
Does the bar steal sales?
- I've always wondered how the bar affects profitability.
I could see you and the bar owner engaging in hostility.
- On the contrary, I'm the bar's supplier.
Though they water down everything they acquire...
- The bar owner is a good friend of mine.
He stops in every week, and we trade good wine.
Seems like... maybe your good friend wouldn't want you telling everybody this stuff? I dunno, maybe that's just me!
Can you recommend a whine?
Type of the GAME, folks. Henry, I don't think you need any help finding a good whine.
- I'm in a good mood and looking for a sweet red.
What's good this year and goes well with French bread?
You're in a GOOD MOOD? WHY. Because of Stinky Pete? Because that is the only good thing that's even happened to anybody associated with you in this entire game.
- The Cabernet is a bit sweet, but some find it dry.
I can't afford to give you a sample, so don't even try!
Do liquor stores usually just give you samples of stuff? I... I feel like they don't. Not that we wouldn't TRY unless we were warned off!
- Time for me to hit the road,
and get back to my abode.
- The city doesn't want to hear from low income folk...
Our opinions don't matter because they know we're broke...
You said it, drunk guys on a barstool. Aren't you supposed to be out hitting miscreants with baseball bats? All talk and no action, tsk.
Glass of bourbon please.
- Can I have a glass of bourbon please?
Strong enough to put me on my knees.
- Coming right up, this will put some hair on your chest.
Smoke a cigar with this to enjoy the taste the best!
Time for our daily belt, after which the bartender susses out that we're weak-kneed and wobbly and promptly cuts us off.
I like the wood furnishings!
- I really like the wood furnishings in here!
The natural material eases the feelings of despair!
Hahahaha I LOVE it. Henry, what are you POSSIBLY on about?!
Is that sarcasm? Are you... offering decorating advice? What's the non-stupid option?!
Do you ever have a day off?
- You always seem to be working, do you never have a day for rest?
If you don't find some time for yourself, you'll end up depressed.
- For some of us, being alone is what causes depression.
Alone with your thoughts, reliving your past aggression...
- It's easier to surround yourself with other peoples' sorrow,
than to have to relive your own, knowing there's a tomorrow.
Sounds super healthy, my man!
How do you cope without time off?
- But how do you physically cope, without a single day to recoup?
I don't know how long I could go on, without being allowed to regroup.
Henry can't even imagine a universe where people would work more than they were forced to by a boss.
- Thinking of the alternative is usually enough.
It's better for my brain, even if physically tough...
How'd you get that scar?
- How'd you get that nasty scar on your arm?
Looks like you nearly ended up buying the farm!
- That's not for you to know.
Don't ask so many questions!
You're not hosting a talk-show...
I'd watch it.
- Need to leave, I do believe.
- All we do is fight these days,
it's all about lacking money.
There's nothing to go on for...
Not even the sky stays sunny.
I'm starting to think this guy just has a thing for being mopey. I mean, you might try and have some heart-to-hearts, get working these things out? Do something besides go get drunk? Well, I guess you know best!
I think the lemons are starting to go bad...
- I think the lemons by your doors are starting to go bad!
They're actually starting to look pretty moldy and sad...
- I think the heroin crowd are sticking used needles in the citrus fruit.
They seem to be under the impression it has a disinfecting attribute.
For once, Henry is the one in goggle-eyed horror, and I'm right there along with him. If the city was TRULY progressive, they'd distribute free citrus fruits to the 'heroin crowd', so they could get a nice tart tang along with their hit of smack.
How did you end up working here?
- How did you end up working here in this shop?
Didn't want to be a nurse, doctor, or even cop?
- Oh, you know how it is, you meet the love of your life
and you get married after dating for just a single year.
Your college aspirations take the backseat for a while,
so that he is able to really focus on his budding career.
...Yes... yes I... I think we might just know how it is.
- But the years go on quickly, and now you're a bit older.
You feel it's not so important to be a degree holder...
- Life's not what you expected, but you just sort of keep on moving.
One of these days, you wish, things just might start improving.
"Sounds like you owe your husband big time!" thinks Henry. "Unless he didn't get promoted, like a LOSER. Except wait not me, because mine is somebody else's fault."
Do you regret it?
- Do you regret what you did? Giving up on college?
You supported a loved one, by sacrificing knowledge.
Yeah, so it was a good move, right? You don't regret, it, RIGHT?
- I try not to have regrets in life, they do you nothing good.
There are many things I'd do different, if only I could...
(Psst yes Henry, Grace regrets being with you a LOT)
What are the customers like?
- What are the customers like in this neighborhood?
There are so many criminals, but some must be good...
- Most people are honest folk, just down on their luck.
Once you're stuck, it's hard to get out of the muck.
- Most people would rather work than steal.
But with no jobs around, you have to be real.
She's PRETTY laid-back about theft. I guess after the 30th or whatever robbery, you just kind of roll with it!
Are you sleeping alright?
- Are you sleeping alright? You look more tired than ever?
Skipping out on 8 hours of sleep, really isn't clever.
- I'm just having some issues that are keeping me awake.
It's kind of you to ask, but don't be worried for my sake.
Sorry, I just can't help it. You remind me of... somebody. I'm not sure who. Somebody that I... know.... somehow. Ah, it'll come to me!
- I'd better get a move on,
before the day is gone.
- I heard a rumor that he's not what he makes himself out to be.
Have you noticed he often gets arrested but is always set free?
- So? What's your point? The cops around here are dicks.
They'll just bring anyone in and see what charge sticks.
- I reckon he's well connected, and can afford an expensive lawyer!
He'll just make a phone call and some suit shows up in the police foyer!
- I think we need to ease up on the detective movies for a week or two.
It's cute how the movies we binge on starts reflecting everything you do.
Most adorable couple in the city, for sure.
Also, that's interesting about the punk - so he's arrested a lot, but it doesn't stick. Hmmmmm.
Do you think the other stores will fail?
- Business really isn't great here along this strip.
Do you think the other shops will fail and jump ship?
Not the video store, of course. Nothing is long-term stable like blockbuster!
- It's not been great business, after they closed the mill.
Every store along here has slowly been going downhill.
"The dumber ones are even making some bad financial deals to stay afloat! Can you IMAGINE?"
Is that adult section popular?
- Is the adult section a popular destination?
With essentially a kid manning the register,
I for one would show a bit of hesitation...
You keep offering excuses, Henry. I PROMISE, I'm not going to judge you if you just don't want to rent a porn movie.
- Yeah man, it's pretty popular for sure!
From young couples to the more mature.
Most movies in here are really old...
- I've noticed that most movies you carry are pretty old.
I can only see a small handful of new releases, all told...
- The store can't really afford to bring in every new release.
We rely on a stack of old movies, so we can afford to pay the lease.
You really can't go wrong with the gently-used killer clowns from outer space series!
What do you want to be when you grow up?
- What do you want to be when you grow up?
Be a race car driver and win a trophy cup?
Henry... he's a teenager, not FOUR.
- My only dream is to make it out of this neighborhood alive.
With all the crime and hard drugs, I don't know if I'll survive...
Yeah, don't you feel silly? What am I saying, of course not.
- I'd best get going,
the wind outside is blowing...
OK, time to check in on our apartment-dwellers.
Same basic sage advice as always, from the melted-mannequin-heads guy.
Yeah uh... ok, so not ALL the dialogue is stellar.
The others? Terrifyingly stable, and they MENTALLY fight. You're lucking to get away without getting a mind blast right in the giblets.
- We'll be serving up chips and other snacks,
and have party games and good music too!
The two of us are used to throwing parties!
Back home we were called the festive crew!
Ok, so keep your mind on the festive crew here.
They've moved into the dire slums, and they're going to throw a party.
Show of hands, who thinks it'll go well, vs. who thinks they'll get robbed blind and probably beaten.
I look forward to hearing their excruciating dialogue about how their sunny dispositions are gone forever.
Last stop on the downtown express!
Got any new donations?
- Last time I was here, I know money was tight.
Did anyone donate to help make it right?
- No, everyone would rather be drunk or high.
To say that anyone cares, would be a lie.
I mean, we do buy shots of bourbon and we don't donate to the library, so... point to you, lady.
What's your favorite book?
- What novel do you think is the best?
The one that's better than all the rest?
- My favorite is "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen.
I first read it while studying, and living in Boston.
Is it pretentious for me to think that a librarian would have a less-well-known favorite book? There's obviously nothing WRONG with the big names, that's why they're big names, after all! It's just... I feel like that's a non-big-reader's idea of what a fancy book is.
That bad smell seems to be gone...
- That bad smell seems to be gone.
Or is it an odor that's off and on?
- The city finally showed up and treated the cause.
I just had to point out that by ignoring the situation,
they were really breaking serious public safety laws.
Frankly, I'm shocked that that worked. Probably good news though - I wasn't looking forward to the instant-death book grabbing puzzle.
What's with the drunk guy outside?
- Who's that guy passed out on the bench outside?
Forever sitting in that wet rain, how does he abide?
- He used to work here, not very long ago.
But with recent budget cuts, he had to go.
- This place was his passion, and with that now gone,
he just sits out there drinking, be it night or dawn.
You know, if you're broke and jobless anyway, you could probably... volunteer in here? I mean, you might argue he can't afford to, but he can clearly afford to die of pneumonia out there, so
- I need to leave, I do believe.
And leave we DO! Either to therapy (highly recommended for this day), or to home, to get the big events rolling!