Alvin seemed to be getting a little more awkward. At least in Randall’s eyes.
"Yes. Yes it does," he replied, a smirk tugging at his lips.
"What do you think of the uh..’Jazz scene’?"
Randall himself was a big fan of it, obviously from his career. Be-bop, however, he found irritating.
"I’d say the only form of it I don’t like is Be-bop. It’s just a bunch random notes with no meaning, but that’s my opinion."
He normally didn’t hold conversations like this with people he hadn’t met before. This time was different, however. Alvin had a welcoming air about him that made Randall feel comfortable conversing with him.
Alvin felt his heart speed up a little bit at the sight of Randall’s slow smirk and he had to stop himself from doing anything that might get him clocked in the nose.
He bit his lower lip, looping one finger through the handle of his coffee cup and turning it side to side. “I love it. It breaks all the rules, takes no prisoners. The kind of thing you only hear at night in the tiny clubs where most people wouldn’t normally go but they’re tired of the regular scene.”
He shrugged, sitting back in his seat and cocking his head to the side. “Helluva lot better than the classical scene, I’ll tell ya that. All stuffy, pompous dopes who crucify you if you cheer too loud. No thanks.”
Alvin watched Randall’s face light up a bit as he spoke and he couldn’t help the smile that formed on his face. The man he’d seen sullenly reading his newspaper not twenty minutes ago seemed to have disappeared and Alvin felt like he was looking at a different person.
Not that he minded the former, but he certainly preferred the latter. “You don’t like bebop? Dizzy Gillespie, Cab Calloway, Charlie Parker?”
He hummed the first few bass notes from “Night in Tunisia” as best he could, then raised his eyebrows expectantly. “Nothing?”
Alvin looked up from the pile of paperwork he’d been sorting. To be honest, he really had no goddamn clue what the hell he was doing with the stuff. It wasn’t like he completely understood the numbers game that made up the business part of the dry cleaners. He usually left that up to Robbie or Babette.
"That’s the name. How can I help you?" He set the papers down and stood up, brow furrowed. It wasn’t often he had a dame wander into his office and set him on high alert.
Even if it was his shitty fake front office.
He really needed to decorate one of these days.
Odette opened the door and slipped in. She felt a little bit out of her element, and certainly didn’t want to be typed as one of those rude customers. The next dry cleaners was quite a far way away, and she didn’t know if she had time.
"I’m in a bit of a predicament." she said. She held a long, silky black dress with sheer grey folds of fabric. It looked quite unique and expensive. There was an ugly wine stain on it.
"I was told to come to you. I understand today seems to be an especially busy day, but if there’s any way you could have this cleaned before tonight, I would be grateful. I’m performing tonight in this."
Alvin would be lying if he didn’t feel a sense of relief when he heard the woman’s problem. With all the things he’d been having to deal with lately, a wine stain on a fancy dress was a welcome task.
"Yeah. Of course, we’d be more than happy to clean your dress. May I?" He reached for the fabric, inspecting the ugly stain. "Well, first of all, I’d recommend staying away from people who can’t hold their wine glass still."
He smiled at her, slow, setting the dress down on his desk. “I’d be more than happy to help out an entertainer, Miss … “
The brunet attempted to hide the roll of his eyes that crossed his features. “I understand that, but it’s not a viable reason for you to hide your information. Unless you actually have something to hide? It may not look like a brothel to the eye, but I wouldn’t doubt you having one in the back room or right on behind the register.”
The man let him talk and actually took consideration to his words. In the end, it still couldn’t change his answer. “I’ll pass on that offer, Mr. Cramer.” It was tempting, sure; that was one of the cheapest prices around. Though, he cared more about the case at hand than his own benefit, even if it would be a fantastic deal.
Straightening his own back, Jack’s lips kept firm. The owner of the store may have been smiling, but the investigator just wasn’t having it. To him, it was only another reason he should be suspicious. “Mr. Cramer, if you don’t help me, you’re just making things harder on yourself. I can always return later, whether you’re here or not, and I’ll be getting what I want.”
They weren’t threats; he didn’t make threats. They were promises.
“Now, are we clear?” He looked him right in the eye, making sure to send the message across.
Alright. This guy was gonna be harder than Alvin thought. Still, regardless of whether the guy knew about the brothel or not, it would probably be best if he let him see … whatever it was he wanted to see.
He made sure to keep his voice as jovial as possible, only letting a small note of contempt slip through. “Crystal. I assure you, Mr Kelso, I have nothing to hide. I’ve owned this dry cleaners for the last four years with very few problems that weren’t the product of the area.”
He folded his hands on the top of the desk, cocking his head to the side and giving the investigator a humorless smile. “Now, what paperwork was it you were needing to rifle through? I have stacks and stacks of the stuff and you’re more than welcome to try and make sense of it.”
Her gaze fell to the sidewalk as she fidgeted with the hem of her skirt. She hated talking about her family, and she hated people feeling sorry for her, too. It made her feel weak, or if she wasn’t good enough. But in this instance, she found it endearing.
"It ain’t heavy," she said softly. "You wouldn’t believe what goes on back in Ireland. I’m one of the lucky ones who managed to get out. I’m- I’m lucky."
Her gaze lifted as he recounted his history to her. It didn’t make her feel any better, but it made her feel like she wasn’t alone.
How they wound up meeting each other was pretty unlikely, but to be honest, Gina was glad they had. They seemed to just…click, her and Alvin, and even after such a short period of time she would consider him an extremely close friend.
"I guess we’re just kindred spirits then," she said with a small smile. In a gesture of comfort, she tried to put a hand on his shoulder but considering he was nearly a head taller than her, she had to settle for his arm instead.
"What’s all this talk, hm? How depressing are we?" She smiled, her voice taking on a brighter tone. "We should do something fun. Like see a movie or something!" she said with excitement, skipping a little as she made the suggestion.
She had always loved the theatre. Something about walking in there made her forget all her troubles and just live in the movie for a while. “Come on! I guess we could both use a little imagination right about now.”
"Well, for what it’s worth, I’m glad you got out," Alvin said, meaning it. He’d heard a little bit about what was happening in Ireland, sometimes from the little snippets in the news reports when the war wasn’t the focal point. He couldn’t imagine what it must be like to be in a country at war with itself. Being in a country at war at all was bad enough and he didn’t want to think about it.
He laughed as she skipped down the sidewalk, the worry that had aged her fading away, leaving a young, vibrant young woman in a young, vibrant town. “Alright, Miss Gina. What sorta picture’d you have in mind? Action? Comedy? Rrrrromance?”
She laughed. “I’m sure your days are just filled with excitement, seeing as you wash clothes for a living. I’ll tell ya, my mother would be in heaven -” She suddenly realised what she was saying and let her voice trail off.
She cleared her throat and started talking again, voice just a little brighter in an effort to conceal the slip-up that had just occurred. She never talked about her family. Ever. It lead to too many awkward questions, too many frantic explanations, lie after lie told until she was finally caught out and ended up looking like a fool. It was easier to just avoid the topic.
"The detectives aren’t that bad. The cap’ likes me, seeing as we’re both Irish n’all so he usually lets me take early lunches, sit in on meetings, that kind of stuff. In case you haven’t guessed, filing reports all day is monotonously boring," she said with a laugh.
"You really think I’d be a good detective? You’re certainly one of the few," she sighed. "The people of LA aren’t exactly open-minded when it comes to a woman doing a man’s job. Especially if that woman is finding out who killed your husband."
"Ah, yeah. You Irish tend to stick together, eh?" Alvin smiled. "See, now, those of us of Germanic decent are much more inclined to latch on to any and all those who are as far from removed from our heritage as possible. Could be that pesky war but I wouldn’t be so sure."
He furrowed his brow in mock thought, then looked over at Gina again, eyebrows raised. It struck him sometimes how very separate the lives of men and women were. It was easy, living in his own little world, to forget how much more difficult the most simple of tasks were for the fairer sex simply because they were the fairer sex, regardless of their skill set.
Not that he’d say as much out loud.
"Way I see it, a detective’s gotta be stubborn and sure of himself, no matter what the case is. He’s gotta go into it knowing he’s gonna get what he needs and that everyone’s gonna cooperate, even though he knows they might not. It’s all about confidence, right?" He looked over at her, briefly pulling his eyes away from the road. "And I think you got that in spades, Miss Gina."
Up ahead, Central Station loomed large on the street corner and he pulled around a clunky old Ford, pulling to a stop in front of the building. “Well. What’d I tell ya? Not even ten minutes and not a scratch on your person.”