Rating: PG - Gen - Alec & Cindy
Spoilers: General (for all aired episodes)
Disclaimers: DA & characters are owned by their various creators.
Summary: It was difficult not to hold some nostalgia for the convenient scope of a 1950’s version of the apocalypse.
Jam Pony wasn’t a place Cindy liked to linger when she didn’t have to.
Unfortunately, there were special events when the long trip home made no sense at all. Those sad times usually came when she was working double shifts with barely a space between them to separate the 24 hour holiday rush. The pay was borderline extraordinary considering what it typically was. Good enough to make her glad that a body could withstand it for at least three days in a row. Collapsing on the nearest piece of free furniture, she gingerly touched her aching thigh. There had been an exciting last second avoidance of an opening cab door that had parked directly in moving traffic. She was lucky she hadn’t gone over the bars but she knew the bruises would be a sight to behold come bath time. The promise of steam and soap in the far off future was enough to make her eyes blur with emotion.
She never felt the need to weep in the face of want quite so badly.
Shifting on her seat-sore ass, she tested the burning cramps in her legs and ignored the searing tug that was knotted tight between her shoulder blades. If a stranger had come out of nowhere and offered a boiling tub of water in exchange for 100 million dollars, she would have handed the sum over no problem. It was as if she could see her own stink rising off her body in waves and adding to the ambiance of the porous concrete walls. If she was ever required to make a designer perfume exclusively for biker messengers she knew exactly what that regrettable reek would consist of. An equal ratio of sweat and cold rain soaked deep into three layers of clothes. Add the bonus of a mildewed dank basement, burnt coffee and chain grease and you had yourself a best seller.
Cindy didn’t fight the yawn that extended her body and caused her vertebrae to briefly but pleasantly realign.
There were a couple other messengers that didn’t mind sticking themselves into the torturous loop that didn’t end until after the New Year rang in. Some of them were pure sadists that raised a hand no matter what was being requested, but some knew when to step in to take total advantage of a ripe money making opportunity. The overwhelming demand created a wide open range of incredibly strenuous hours that not many could handle.
Alec’s name was right on top of the schedule board and in all the blank spots in between.
“Look what I got.” He said proudly.
It was one thing to successfully claim the side of the couch that wasn’t irrevocably marked by a courier’s lack of tolerance for green dyed beer on Saint Patty’s Day. However, getting hold of the remote that sat guarded behind the dispatch counter was another accomplishment entirely. With business rolling ruthlessly day and night just to keep up, the brutal toll of the job had even sent their boss home for some sleep.
Alec was dangling the device like Cindy had seen fishermen do with their improbable catches in photographs.
“That’s a nice job.” Her words were sincere and heartfelt. “Thanks a bunch.”
She hadn’t been raised to grab but times were currently tough.
If the lull of never ending cable put her to sleep than so be it. A nap would be useful no matter how fleeting. If it didn’t then she could brag about having had short-lived but utter control of the elusive array of channels that existed outside of constant state of Normal’s favored newscasts.
The Pony floor was practically deserted with the weird hour and the employees on the clock were keeping to the street. The lack of an easily outraged audience made her bold in cable exploration. A 24 hour soap opera station wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe one of those complete makeover shows that included elective surgery and bone restructuring.
Her button finger paused when a panoramic scene suddenly lit up the murky gloom.
As soon as Cindy realized what she was watching, all further network surfing was unnecessary. The story was midway through but that okay by her. If memory served, the first half was all build up and no cataclysmic action anyway. With the next 48 minutes of viewing now firmly in her control, she kicked off her sneakers and made herself as comfortable as possible on the sagging sofa.
The transgenic noisily cracked open a fizzing can of caffeine.
“This is a bad commercial.” Alec said. “It’s too long. The average consumer’s attention span doesn’t retain viable information after about a 25-30 second bombardment of—”
“This ain’t no commercial.” She told him. “It’s a movie.”
On the other end of the battered sofa, Alec was quietly but plainly unconvinced. It took more than a few moments of uninterrupted broadcasting to really sink in. He fidgeted uneasily when it was apparent that there would be no fast approaching conclusion to the tedium he was being forced to watch. The painfully unhurried scenes and meandering fully clothed dialogue were there to stay until his shift came back up.
“Must be an old one.” He reasoned. “Pixel aspect ratio sucks ass.”
After his official statement on the quality of her choice, there was another silence that she knew wasn’t going to last until the credits rolled. It was a good thing that noiselessness wasn’t required for her viewing enjoyment. Watching a well worn flick was like listening to a song. You knew all the good parts and when to sing along if desired. The chorus never came as a surprise and you looked forward to it fondly as if every car chase, kiss and rogue gun shot had been created and written just for you. Nonetheless, Alec’s educated assumption was right on. The bright blue skies lighting up the dark insides of Jam Pony were sixty years gone. Cindy supposed the craggy island was still around though. She would at least put down money that the sea was still right there where Alfred Hitchcock had left it.
Cindy had something of a soft spot for the real antique stories. Not the black & white’s with all the dialogue flashing in type between sepia frames, but the full on Technicolor features that looked as vibrant as the backlit plastic they were rotting on. There was a care put into cinema in those days that was only used as a parody device by any present day director. She begrudgingly appreciated an era where every man had a chiseled Caucasian face and an earnest Puritanical voice. All the leading ladies had perfectly fake eyelashes with lingering gazes filmed with a rosy filter to make them even more surreal. Cindy had no problems of going all the way if she was already making a trip. If she was recklessly speeding down the road of unfathomable make believe than there was no harm in getting into a fantastic wreck while she was out there. While she personally preferred an easy quickie with Grace Kelly and the rat pack, other genres had a side that she could appreciate when in the mood for some truly epic catastrophe.
“That deputy had a point.” Alec mumbled. “Why would a bunch of seagulls start pecking kids to death at a birthday party?”
This evening the plot happened to be gentle feathered creatures of nature going ape shit and taking out a sleepy seaside village like a well organized battalion of guerillas. Cindy actually thought that the notion of its ludicrous appeal might do something for the transgenic. Alec always seemed willing to sacrifice self respect in the name of being mildly entertained. Still, from the deep sigh of exasperation and loud rattle of the empty soda can against a brick wall, there were indicators that this critically acclaimed masterpiece might not have efficiently hooked him in the right places.
“Are they poisonous?” He demanded.
“Are they mutated and require brains?”
“They’re just regular old birds, sugar.”
It was difficult not to hold some nostalgia for the convenient scope of a 1950’s version of the apocalypse.
The movie houses of the early prior century weren’t quite Nostradamic when it came to the quality of details. Doomsday hadn’t always been about all day lines for fuel and night long power outages. Clean water and air weren’t up for grabs when all anyone was worried about was the possibility of a secret communist on their tidy street. There was no slow death of a suffocating population squatting in condemned buildings and fighting through shortages of chemically saturated food. Even the later more spectacular efforts of filmmakers to depict the peak of damnation weren’t quite on the mark. Alien invasion and global warming never managed to do the planet in like everyone had hoped.
The unromantic landscape of reality held very little cinematic value but the unspeakable that had been constructed during the golden years was a lot easier to stomach. Those family fun classics were about agonizingly slow paced peril and two destiny guided souls colliding in the midst of certain demise. Cindy’s attention was brought back to the monitor when the female lead had erroneously sought safety in the interior of a fragile glass phone booth.
Hand held over her anticipatory smile, she liked to wince each and every time the panes of glass spider webbed into a crack. Alec couldn’t seem to figure out if he should sit back in boredom or lean forward so he wouldn’t miss a thing.
“Those people aren’t even outside.” He worriedly watched the screeching savagery unfold. “They’re standing in front of a painting that looks like the outside. That chick’s hairdo hasn’t moved once and do you know what kind of weather a large body of open water creates with a combined pressure system—“
“Wish I had some more wine.”
“Wine?” Alec skeptically studied her bottle of toxic green sports drink. “There’s no wine.”
“Don’t I know it.”
His gaze returned anxiously to the screen.
She wanted to tell him it would all be fine. The male lead always took the frantic beautiful woman by the hand and raced to hide her in one faltering shelter after another. The hero would stand in the face of danger until there was nothing left to fear. When that moment inevitably arrived you could probably count on the director tossing in a postcard grade sunset for good measure.
Alec groaned at another relentless bout of lame 1963 Academy Award winning special effects.
As far as she was concerned, the glittering Hollywood of long ago did everything right no matter the lack of multi-million dollar cgi technology. Credit was due to those that had to make a whole motion picture with bits and scraps of authenticity edited and stitched together piece by harrowing piece.
Cindy rested her head on the ripped arm of the sofa and closed her eyes to the sound of murderous squawking ravens.
Those old guys even managed to make the end of the world look charming.
Cross posted to jam_pony_fic