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"When Injustice becomes the law, rebellion becomes our duty"

0 · 799 views · located in Gretna, Louisiana, 1922

a character in “Vice & Bloodlines”, as played by emotionless






Years: NINETEEN -- OCTOBER 31ST 1903

accolades: N/A




Word about town:

"Trouble that 'un, got a look about her....trouble I tell ya"
"Mighty cute, but got a mouth that'll get her inna trouble"

"She might seem a bit off at times, but she's good people"



Anna stands at a firm 5'2, weighing a buck twenty five, but she has an attitude of a 6'0 300 Ib male. Long dark hair grows wild and spills down her back like black gold. She has deep moss green eyes that fade into a hard gun metal grey, and hey are surrounded by thick black lashes. Her sun kissed face is oval, high cheekbones lead to a gently sloping button nose. Large pouty lips usual have a mischievous grin dancing upon them.




Anna was born and raised in New Orleans. Orphaned at age 3 and shipped off to live with her grandmother Natalie. Anna spent most of her younger years running barefoot in the dirt playing with the boys of the town as if she was one. When she turned sixteen her grandmother demanded she accept a suitable husband and become a respectable woman. Instead of following her grandmothers wishes she ran away. She bounced from town to town, making a profitable living on smuggling hooch. She was chased out of her last town by the sheriff, and she landed in Greta where she has been smuggling whatever she damn well pleases until she damn well feels like stopping.

So begins...


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rem Bates Character Portrait: Roux Bates Character Portrait: Harlow Brynn B. Character Portrait: Atticus Montgomery Character Portrait: Sophia Moon Character Portrait: June Reilly-Snow
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Harlow Brynn Bates


Armistice of night, copious and quiet, crept on to Gretna at the tail end of February like an old friend. The only thing known to a Louisiana humanity to be chthonic, kept and kind within the law. Peace was never made these days, only dreamt of in soft hums on the dry tongues of men behind bars. Those who’d come to their epiphanies after anger had run its long course. Most folks took to the night for their reconciliations. Rocking on a sapped porch with empty tin buckets. But often… This seed sowed from greed and the feeling of being thieved upon was intractable. Ain’t no amount of days, weeks, or months in a concrete box bound to fix up what the prohibition set into the minds of many, many men. Even freedom itself could not soothe the stab and sting of Louisiana’s bread and butter. Or lack thereof.

Families sewed up their loose ends best way they knew how, most of ‘em honest, too shook in their boots to do much different. The Snows battened down. Still had their fortunes but sure lacked the luxury of paradise parties and aged libations. Where windows were lit and laughter was heard, there was cause for concern. Knocks on polished pine could pass for gunshots due to the intent behind it. The fear in not just this town, but others across the board, was very real. There was no choice left. Honesty had become just another metonym for debt and hunger.

You name one person in this town who ain’t been a victim of the Detroit blow in’s. That’s right. You can’t. Even if you’re honest, you best be quiet ‘round here.

Hell, even Remington Bates kept his wife off the stoop of the Honey Stop when he heard them black jalopies grumbling their way up the road. Detroit boys were always asking for trouble, knowin’ their upper hand was long and strong and faced little recoil when they wanted to put anybody they so chose through the wringer. Rapping billy clubs ‘gainst the front doors of homes, window panes of local shoppes, spitting obliquely and staring so hard that it’d make y’sick. Could put a preacher on his head after confessionals. They weren’t afraid of nothin’, took no issue with who they frisked. Rich, poor, woman, man, child. Didn’t much matter.

And the Mississippi Honey Stop… Turning into an asylum, kept the company of spirits new and old, just lookin’ for some goodness in all the bad. The misfortune [literal] in all of it was that nobody could pick a penny out of the slime of a swamp and make it stretch an hour in Gretna. Times were too hard. Rem and Harlow made the place more of a soup kitchen, the harbor in which anything up the creek could feel warm a little while. Full.

Dandelion shudders outside collected more dust than cicadas. Country strum was all but gone in the waste of winter, even when they hit the high sixties with nothing but sunshine for miles. Fans didn’t swing. Just cast shade over the rhythmic two step of a mother and child, cooing in kinship with measured merriment. Least the place was kept real clean. Paint tended to every few months. All yellows and blues like the corn color of summer country. Every table tightened and spotless. Lord knew that was just the way of Harlow Bates, couldn’t stand a mess or a singular crumb. When she married, the world thought it’d fall if that boy left a bed sheet untucked. Seemed to work out just fine though. She didn’t stir when he cinched a suspender two inches too lose. They got by a lot on smiles, ‘spite of obvious asymmetry. Made a beautiful home for themselves and the place they grew.

As dusk dipped low on the horizon, a chill blew in through the doorway of the only canteen left in force. Idle silhouettes barely bobbed back and forth. The Honey Stop yielded the same crowd: dark haired butterflies with their ashtrays kept under finger, old Blue and Ruger sloppin’ up a corner designated for dogs surer to go to heaven before out of state cops. The occasional drifter with a rickety soup spoon grasp, then the deputy when he was hurting for a hard cup of coffee.

ImageMetallic canticles croaked out of a register too rarely touched, “Got a mind to start chargin’ my folks for honey.” With ochroid strands thrown about, Harlow’s circling scrutiny was hard to monitor. Nola hiccuped on her arm, cheeks pinker than carnations in her post feeding bliss, eyes just like her daddy’s: sapphire and somnolent. “Running all over hell’s half acre…” Her mother muttered punching in numbers, all one-handed without much faltering. But a beam set to the corners of her mouth and she sighed. Just another day. The same labors for the same love. Soon she’d be trading out the sweat-stuck cotton of her dress and kissin’ the heads of her favorite folk goodnight or goodbye. Even Roux, who slightly shifted each time yet didn’t object.

She loved him. Loved him, loved him loved him.

Took to those Bates like they were her blood all along. Noel, who dug at his brothers something fierce, protected them fiercer. Loved him. Roux, whose eyes were not seldom wide and spoke more to his dog than to people. Loved him. When she married Rem, the tracts between herself and rapture just filled themselves in. His mother said it was something about good love. Knowing the difference was the key. Said Harlow Snow knew all along, that’s why she chose herself a Bates boy and found all those things she was lookin’ for but could never call by name. She never had to, after Rem.

Love stories aside, the Honey Stop accrued altruism in the most critical of deficits. Some days it seemed like it was all the town had left. Which at times could bear weight on the married couple that ran it. Integrity as a rule came before capital, and lamentably it was startin’ to show.

He knew by the way she wiped dew from her brow on the back of a wrist that was sore every hour of the night. She knew by the way he closed the doors at the stop with shoulders heavy, singular fixed look and not much to say at all. They’d never lost their sense of self. But they’d certainly experienced their sense of sustenance dwindling away. Sophia’d come by often with a side eye and mumble about bathtub gin, wanting to repay a favor she felt was owed. That girl was full of fire, a spur like nothing Harlow had ever seen. She’d be tellin’ a lie if she said she didn’t think about pulling her aside and asking for the down low about what risks they’d run if they wanted to brew something themselves. But went with her better judgment, admitting to herself that if Rem didn’t entertain it yet, it was best she don’t neither.

Guess what spooked her most was thinking how she was gonna’ bring little Nola up in this world, in these straits. Couldn’t just count on June to stick ‘round forever and watch the baby, pick up where Harlow couldn’t when the days got too rough. June needed to go and live her life. Deserved it most, taking what she did from Daxton.

“June,” Harlow called quietly over the clink of ware at its last hour, “You mind taking Nola for a walk ‘round the porch? She’s just about asleep and I wanted to close out the register since my husband won’t hit a lick at a snake when he’s flapping his gums at the deputy.” A playful wink was supplied, then followed with, “And June?”

With Nola cradled against both forearms, a chaise only a mother could make, Harlow conferred her to June, “Not too long out there, alright? That detective with Detroit’s department’s been snooping around. Thinks we can’t see ‘im in the dark. Got nothing but the candle jars out there so just stay by the windows, holler if you need anything. Rem’s right by the door and the deputy, too.” She tucked the baby girl into a blanket, its edges hidden in the crook of June’s elbow, “Won’t have these men from out of town trying to cut our tails. Shaking down a lady, much less my sister in law.” Harlow rubbed the sleeve of June’s shirt. She could feel Rem’s eyes imbued with protective nature. Up and down his wife’s frame in a wordless diction of, “You gon’ send her out there with Nol’ alone?”

There was a slight pivot in her stance, a small reassuring smile. He’d take it, graze a short fingernail over five o’clock shadows and continue his conversation but only after he knew that everything was alright. Never missed a beat where their safety was concerned.

Harlow hung a rag over her shoulder, took the candles from the tables and every so often peered onto the porch. Dried her hands on thin ivory, skirt bunched for a second before dropping to its full length again. A soft glow hit the window glass and flickered out of existence in zaps of night wind. Off to the left sat a heartbreaker and victim of her own, Bailey Marie. Harlow racked her brain a thousand times over tryin’ to find any words worth saying to someone who lost the love of their life. Couldn’t likely imagine the agony of going on without Rem, and found herself with a creased brow, lump stuck in the throat, giving Bailey pieces of pie she never touched a dozen times over. That Johnson girl was perhaps the only person Harlow couldn’t soothe.

The Honey Stop was cozy inside, even with the sadness of transients. Outside was a little colder. Lonelier. Most they’d see is that tumbleweed of a girl, Anna Leigh. Maybe sittin’ low by the last stair and brooding way she mostly did with her red lips rollin’ under chattering teeth. Girl kept to herself but they’d seen their share of her at the stop. Fed her a few times, though she insisted she didn’t need none. It was quiet. Almost all the time.

It won’t happen to us. I’m just being cautious. They wouldn’t come ‘round asking questions at this hour, would they?

Characters Present

Character Portrait: M. Boone Character Portrait: Rem Bates Character Portrait: Roux Bates Character Portrait: Harlow Brynn B. Character Portrait: Atticus Montgomery Character Portrait: ANNA LEIGH DECLAN
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#, as written by Wiley
Atticus Montgomery

Coffee bleeds into the grooves formed long ago in old wooden tables, soaking to the core and Atticus curses his luck. Hands shaking around the cup for no good reason other than he’s got too much on the mind and an itch in his gut telling him to go after that investigator and E N D him. Nobody’d blame him for it, and nobody’d blink twice either. Common knowledge dictates his simple hatred for outsiders, a taste of territorial pride that sets his teeth to grind when someone new comes poking around.

“Oops,” He says in place of apology. Directed towards the establishment in general – intonation lacking any form of sorry-at-all. He mops the spilt drink with the sleeve of his uniform for all the good it does in smearing it more; more so to feel the burn of it soaking through thin fabric. Returns his hooded gaze to the room at large. Would have been swept up in the usual comfort of the place had the atmosphere not been thickened to damn near choking by earlier happenings and his own growing discomfort with the situation at whole.

Something would have to give, for them to continue on in any relative peace.

He refuses to let Gretna be the one to loose their footing.

His eyes catch on Boone, therein lies one problem thats going to get the lot of em in trouble before long. Less someone beats some common sense into the kid - then again, he'd probably enjoy it. Them Boones are more trouble than their worth, which is accumulative by the sheer amount of them there are. He’s been after Marvin more than once, chased down plenty of times but almost never caught – damn slippery bastard.

Hates what the kid stands for, in his own recollection of catching him up in various states of illegal activity. He's a firm reminder of a childhood now layered in dust, but ultimately still there at the back of his mind, every now and again rearing ugly memories of old bruises and cracked teeth. Tries to recall if James were ever this bad, comes up with the vaguest image of a broad shouldered boy walking the long road to nowhere. Remembering then, that there are some cobwebs best kept in place. Boone isn't James, but for all the memories he's got left he may as well be a perfect replica of the bruises that formed constellations on flesh.

Though he has no doubt, Marvin will end up twice as bad off in the end. Mark his words, he knows that darkness when he see's it. Will tally the days until things go from bad to worse. Thats neither here nor there, a moot train of thought leaving the station too late. Here lay the true problem at hand, the begging notion thats haunted him since the moment Graves dirtied the stoop with his very presence, spitting venom that woke the beast shackled inside Atticus. The creature clawing its way through layers of thick muscle to reach out and throttle the man where he stood. He wishes he could have actually done it. Wishes he could have seen irises disappear into the back of his head, while he choked around hands firmly attached to his throat. He doubts the man has ever had to rely on fists in the way Atticus has. Knows he didn't have it in him to bring hell down on the Honey Stop.

Somewhere along the way he had stopped thinking of the folk as being apart from him. Possessions to be had in a town that belonged to him, his core being made up of needing to keep things running his way. Neat pretty lines, even when it never really worked out - and really, it never did work out - he had deluded himself into grandeur beyond him. He knew, his baseless longings would beget trouble one day and this here, this was the trouble that became of his inability to see past fault after fault of his own. Hunched over his seat, contemplating the next step when all he could see was how damn much trouble they were all in - if he could hang up his badge long enough to see past that he would, but all of this talk had him shiftier than usual. His palms were sweat soaked and itched for something - something stronger than the burn of hot coffee.

His tongue felt thick when he thought about asking what the hell they were going to do to - legally - get these assholes out of Gretna. Didn't get too far into voicing much of anything when a young wisp of a woman waltzed in. As if the lights hadn't been turned off to ward strangers away. Atticus laid cold eyes on her, teeth grit in fair concern. He didn't know her, but he damn well knew she had no business comin' in after hours - or did she? He didn't much care either way.

"Dandy, unless yer lookin' for trouble." He grinned around too sharp teeth, a look that he usually reserved for cuffed lawbreakers. Starkly condescending despite the hunch to his shoulders and the animal riding waves of anger in his eyes. "Comin' in after hours don't paint you in a pretty light missy."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: M. Boone Character Portrait: Rem Bates Character Portrait: Roux Bates Character Portrait: Harlow Brynn B. Character Portrait: Atticus Montgomery Character Portrait: June Reilly-Snow
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Harlow Brynn Bates


The tinkering of scrapped piano wire holding vats deemed craft worthy by their lack of matching lids didn’t rouse any cause for concern. It was ritual for them to knock shudders, caper on their own personal tight rope, rock in the convergent moonlight and eventually burn out if forgotten. But that type of thing was an anomaly, now. Rarely did the Honey Stop remain open so late that its homespun beacons stay on alone too long. In fact, they’d had the same wax wedged in there for weeks, maybe months. Hardly’d been used. So they’d be bright enough to the standard of two protective parents.

Atticus had his heels outstretched like he was home sweet home where the coffee didn’t stop. Guess that was about right. Had to consider it remotely cozy if the person owning it could so shamelessly interrogate the town’s officials about their sexcapades or… Stint thereof, which sounded voluntary ‘cause let’s face it, not everybody was as buck and happy to get shot over some tail like Remington was. Fortunate to have a woman like Harlow, who broke the cemented frame of her upbringing and whittled her etiquette into a knife sharp enough to keep up with the likes of a Bates and keep him on his toes. And that Snow girl, as often as she’d scoff and look the other way, was lucky to have him, too.

Parts erect like a haywire compass, jabs for bed fellow stories and all. She didn’t even blush no more. And when he started talking about the handcuffs, Lord have mercy. All she had left in ‘er was to shoot him a look and finish up with checks.

“Three fifty. Two ten, ‘bout another…” She was never hurting for dexterity so much as change by and by, just the way things was going. To narrow shoulders she cocked her head. This side, that. Brought the angle close in to rest her cheek while her gaze drew into a slit of mathematical determination. Harlow took a tab to nearly her nose and then hem and haw’d, waitin’ for Rem to catch wind of his wife’s struggle and tell her to put on the ol’ specs.

ImageOh, you’d like that wouldn’t ya’, son’m…

He just got a hoot out of her fixing the frames up on her little doe clock, eyes set at six exactly and full of, “You better wipe that dog look off your face Remington Bates, ‘fore I do it for you.” Always loved giving her a hell of a time about glasses ‘cause he’d probably spent too much time being hot for teachers when he got sick of screwing their daughters. When there were only crumbs left in the cookie jar his senseless honey-lickin’ paws went for the nicest piece of china next up. Boy loved himself a challenge. She wasn’t going to give in to that fantasy of his just yet. She’d already given in to that of many other folks by reproducing with him, of all suitors, him. Guessed she was living the dream. Complimented with an eye roll, she accepted her fate as one she chose all alone.

She folded frames over the neckline of her dress, kept on with her diligence to get a somewhat decent sum but it seemed to be wishful thinking. Tried not to let the sweat on her brow show, so Harlow turned to the jar wall. Took inventory of what preserves they’d had. Best sellers, what they might be able to count on. Was just short of a lightbulb moment when she heard the calculated clatter of table furniture hitting the tier. She was headlong first to observe the nearest window, pulling a messy handful of flaxen plaits up into a more secure fashion but missing some strands from haste.

February sky collapsed into total darkness when a familiar index went in her direction. She knew what that meant. Must’ve been humming too low and too long with numbers to notice the obvious tempering. How long had it been since she’d sent June out with baby girl? Somethin’ was wrong, enough to set every pitcher and crock on edge, could feel it, when Rem so much as moved toward the door. Could bet on it, when Noel floored a chair and took to his sleeves before words. Harlow was met with the hush they never knew until uncertainty stood on their doorstep. Atticus hightailed, static, suddenly territorial.

God save the dumb son of a bitch who steps in the wrong mound of dirt in this territory, with this company. See it ain’t uncommon to cross paths with someone unfriendly in the dry affair of Gretna. Not with smug scum bags weaving in and out of the trees, lanterns burning up a path of thick kerosene. Stunk something fierce. Looked even worse in the morning when all the cattails and forget me nots were beat flat. Worn those warrants real proud like, ‘cause if not, sure as hell might know the real kick of a shotgun blast.

Patron’s stirred and composure was pushed to a busting seam as Harlow held a flat hand to them, lulled, “Y’all just sit back here now. This’ll only take but a minute.” The trust of that testimony, crossed heart by bullets loaded and locked twofold, echoed when she totaled the firearm. Only cleared her throat before following her husband, her kin, their deputy. Contrivances clicked under her thumb, just moments into the pending bone of contention. And he knew before lookin’ at her small cotton contour that the leaden snap was just his final and only warning. Maybe he wasn’t so dumb after all, seein’ as he had just stumbled well over into the kingdom of, “Shoot first, ask questions last" with i n t e n t.

Whatever could run parallel to the plasma drip of a fresh kill ‘twix teeth, whatever came close to the implicit need to hunt a foreboding against family, surely looked a lot less mesmeric than Harlow Bates with a 12 gauge set to her shoulder. She let the men do the talking but pushed right past Roux without so much as an apology and marked her target, sparing no hesitation. He, in her crosshairs, dark haired and a little too intrepid for the taste of Remington Bate’s wife, licked his lips and placed his hands in the conventional stance of surrender. To this, she planted her feet just ‘bout shoulder width and sniffed adamantine behind the mild tenor of a hammer.

Steady, now girl.

ImageDidn’t blink. Only thing much movin’ was the boil of bad blood and a breeze remiss to her hair, drifting gold waves crosswise. Dividing her face into a pair of unbent lips, pointed jade eyes and that narrow nose pinkened only enough to fool a stranger no more perfect than the brain in her dog’s head. ‘Cept even Ruger had the common sense to back down when he was outnumbered. To know his human wasn’t no girl, no damsel. He’d watched ‘er take that Winchester up and cock it back with questionless resolve only a handful of times. For rabid raccoons that glanced even once at his dumb waggin’ tail, for rustling in the bushes. For the day that Daxton thought he could come drag June out of she and Remington’s home without a single rift. And now, at this eventide, by the casualty of a dry war that choked and spit up a detective too big for his damn britches. Didn’t b l i n k.

Damn if that dog didn’t know mechanically to go rigid before there was a stitch of slaughter in the air. Right up shoulder to shoulder with Blue, hackles stacked against stringent spines. Ruger strained under the ballast of his own snarl. Muscles quivering like the foundation of a cottage in the thick of thunder. Looked somethin’ u g l y, muzzle pulled so high that his dentition merely looked like a weapon some Injun woulda’ carved from carcass. He gnashed his teeth at the syllables of, “Wouldn’t bet on it.” and padded with a long ominous stride to line legs with Remington. Harlow didn't twitch or move her aim.

Coulda’ pointed the unholy thing at Marvin, rolling around and tracking road dirt up onto the porch and being not only drunk but putting on a whole God damn show in his post-shine stupor. Tugging on an official’s pant leg, insulting the iron job like it’d make light of the hostile air. Chortlin’, chords in his throat strained and dry from the whiskey to water ratio. Knuckle headed kid. Defective didn’t even skim the surface of that train wreck. But he was family just like the rest of the town, even if she hated to say it. How she conveyed her conviction to her adopted kin: a harsh half-kick with the toe of her boot into his ribs when he was the only debris remaining from a near shoot out with special Detective Graves. “You and I got words soon as the sun is up, Marvin Boone.” She lowered the gun, at ease with Nola in Remington’s arms. Finally, she breathed. But not without threat.

“You just started somethin’ you don’t even know you started.”

Hadn’t quite made it to the rack when yet another uninvited presence rapped and came into view. Harlow whipped around, Winchester held lateral in one arm and still primed for diffusing a situation. When she saw the familiar dark hair, fellow foundling of Boone, she slapped the firearm on the counter and sibilated without a single falter in a room fallen silent to her tenets, “Anna Leigh Declan I swear to Jesus if you don’t take better care of keeping this scarecrow’s sorry ass out of trouble you best be on the next rust bucket to Mississippi or you’ll have a mess of trouble following you everywhere you go. For the rest of your life.”

She turned to face Remington, Atticus, a brow raised and a stern outline otherwise given. They opted out of the defense for that one. Rightfully so. Quietly a sandwich plate made its way toward Marvin’s folded hands and for once, that boy was awfully quiet. Good. “Eat it.” Harlow declared like she’d make him choke on it if he chose not to. Rem came in left field, gently as he was known to when things got a bit too sticky. Even kissed her cheek and suggests a call back on Nola’s nightly sway.

"Dandy, unless yer lookin' for trouble. Comin' in after hours don't paint you in a pretty light missy.”

The dining room didn’t budge. Shifted slightly beforehand to glance at the newcomer but, was quiet otherwise. Harlow ran a palm lengthwise to her husband’s neck, submitting to his new rule knowing it for the best. Dandelion strays clung to her forehead, taxed with cold condensation and she smeared them off with the back of her hand, closed her eyes and nodded to Atticus, “It’s alright. We’re letting it go for tonight. We got bigger problems come tomorrow. ‘Cause now the Honey Stop and everyone in it has got a big ol’ red arrow pointin’ at ‘em. Rem… You better stay here with Deputy a while. Nola, me, June and Marvin need to get some sleep. Ain’t that right Boone?”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: M. Boone Character Portrait: Rem Bates Character Portrait: Roux Bates Character Portrait: Harlow Brynn B. Character Portrait: Atticus Montgomery Character Portrait: June Reilly-Snow
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#, as written by Ivisbo

Roux’d moved aside once everyone had turned their attention on gettin' indoors, the frigidness and anxiety of the night chasin’ them back into the warmth of the Honey Stop. He eyed Boone stumblin’ in at the end of the crowd, stringy hair in his face and clothes in disarray from trippin’ over his own damned feet.

He tried real hard to keep the look of distaste from slippin’ across his face, knowin’ people were used to that welcomin’ smile that gave him his nickname. But that Boone had a way of tearin’ somethin’ up inside of Roux, a way of diggin’ up somethin’ nasty that wanted to snarl and tell him to get the fuck out of his doorway. Despite Rem invitin’ the drunk in, takin’ care of this particular stray left him simmerin’ rather then coolin’ off like everyone else.
Fightin' never sat well with Roux, even if he'd had his fair share of bloodied knuckles. Red did somethin’ to his mind that made his muscles run hot and cold all at the same time, a creepin' sort of anger that he hated to let take control. Roux’d never felt like killin’ somethin’ before he met Boone. He’d wished that boy dead the moment he saw him, stumblin’ across the front of the Honey Stop just like he was tonight, piss drunk and actin’ like he wasn’t.

Boone was everythin’ Roux wasn’t- all that family, as bad as the devil and dirty to the bone. The Boone's represented everythin' wrong with Gretna, show'ed just how far their little town had fallen that the cockroaches had leaked outta' the cracks. Compared to them, the Bates were practically saints, even with all the trouble the three boys have stirred up.

ImageThat night he’d stepped out on the porch with Blue, the quiet hummin’ of the bugs lullin’ his senses to focus on the forest in front of him and not the hollerin’ from inside. By the time he’d noticed the yellin’ swell in volume the front door was slammin’ open and a body tossed across the porch, landin’ right on top of him.

The body came with swingin’ fists and a nasty snarl, as soon as contact was made Roux had the wind knocked outta him- one fist in his gut and the other in his face. Maybe it was the adrenaline, maybe it was the screamin’ of Rem to ‘get your drunk ass outta my place’, but Roux ended up slammin’ his fist into Boones face instantly, twistin’ that boy to the ground, knee grindin’ into his spine and arm bent up behind him. Rem’s yells became a bit more frantic, but Roux leaned down and ignored ‘em as he pulled that twisted arm a little higher, Boone's shoulder joint groanin’ in protest, “Thinkin' a dislocated shoulder would be payment enough for pissin' my brother off, dont'cha agree Marvin?”

'Course he’d been wrenched back before he’d actually been able to pull that arm any higher. He’d cursed at Rem, thrashed and twisted out of his brothers hold, barkin’ empty threats before turnin' wild eyes back to Boone. The drunk was attemptin' a mighty escape by crawlin' off the porch, only to land in a heap at the bottom of the short stairs. Rem kept hollerin’ somethin' Roux couldn’t hear, the blood rushin’ through his ears too loud for anythin’ else to make sense.

He didn't stay to watch if Boone made it off the ground, turned away and disappeared around the deck with Blue at his heels. His knuckles burned where they’d smashed into cheekbone and his gut ached from the fist that had landed there, but despite all that Roux felt good. He had to ignore the shallow shiver of exhilarating adrenaline that slipped down his spine and the red hot anger that threatened to send him knockin’ teeth in again.

Roux swallowed back the sour taste the memory left stained in his throat, standing' awkwardly in the doorway cause he didn't know if he wanted in or out. Little Anna, girl that seemed to think keepin' Boone as a pet was some form of enjoyment, slinked by him with barely a noise. Probably in search of Boone- Roux had no interest in stickin' around to see what more trouble they could stir up tonight. His gaze slid from Rem, to Harlow, then Noel, keepin' tabs as well as assurin' himself they were alright and then turned away from the open and warm doorway in favor of the dimly lit porch. He headed straight for the old bench swing, his fingers reachin’ out for Blue as he slouched down in the padded seat. Blue gazed up at him, his snout restin’ on Roux’s knee as he threaded his fingers through soft fur of his blue ticked ears.

Despite the greasy stench of somethin' bad brewing' in Gretna and the lingering distaste that always followed Marvin Boone, Roux found it easy to clear his mind. Maybe it was Blue’s quiet company or the earthy smell that signaled the beginnin’ of rain- either way Roux was glad for it and settled down nicely on the porch. People were talkin’ inside- he could make out Harlow’s soothin’ voice the easiest, but he’d always had a ear open for her. Roux'd never found room for anyone in his heart other then his family, but Harlow had become that the minute she’d been able to tame Rem. Hadn’t been hard for her to win Roux over, he’d taken to her soft firey warmth instantly.

ImageThe rain he’d smelled moments ago started tappin’ at the tin roof- the sound echoing with the night time song of the cicadas rhythmically. Blue made a groanin’ sort of moan as he stood up, the old dog knowin’ already what that rain meant. Roux's momma used to go on and on about him runnin' off every time the sky poured, saying' she'd never seen her youngest on any day the sun wasn't shinnin'. She loved the idea that Roux was really made of sunlight, that the rain drove him away and he'd appear again after the clouds dissapperaed. He'd never had the heart to tell her it was the opposite, that he really loved the rain and went off to be in it, not sneak away to hide. Blue was starin' at the sprinkling' sky like it had caused him personal harm, but he knew the dog would follow him through a thunder storm. He was never really sure how much of the world Blue understand, cause often enough his brown eyes appeared to be just as intelligent as anyone else Roux knew- and then sometimes the hound would turn and lick his balls just cause he could.

“Should'we head off?” Roux followed Blue to his feet, the dog’s soft wag of his tail his only reply. He glanced at the Honey Spot- still lit up warm with soft chatterin’- and stepped off the porch into the thickenin’ rain, headin’ towards home down the mudding track through the woods.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: M. Boone Character Portrait: Rem Bates Character Portrait: Roux Bates Character Portrait: Harlow Brynn B. Character Portrait: Atticus Montgomery Character Portrait: June Reilly-Snow
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ImageGoddamn, his head was heavy.

Wasn’t like he used it for much thinkin’ anyway but he knew he’d gone too damn far when jus’ standin’ felt like he was playin’ some kinda fucked up sport. World done gone all fuzzy, like lookin’ underwater and walkin’ through thick mud.

It was f u n n y.

Roux Bates is at the door, dogs at his feet, Boone sends him a nasty, blood soaked smile and pushes on inside. Even this fuckin’ gone he can still hear Roux’s voice rattlin’ round inside his brain, tellin’ him to get gone. Jokes on Baby Bates, Boone ain’t known for goin’ any’here ‘cept where he ain’t wanted. Like a goddamn disease . Moth to a flame.

He ain’t been sittin’ long when a plate hits the table in front of him and he looks up slowly at the woman they call Honey. Eat it, she tells him and he raises two lazy fingers to his forehead in a clumsy salute and almost falls out of his chair for it. Plants his feet on the ground, raises his sandwich with both hands, and sinks hungry teeth into soft bread.

There’s a threat of words hangin’ over him that he k n o w s he’ll remember come mornin’ even if he don’t remember nothin’ else. Harlow Bates is small enough he could lift her in one hand but he she ain’t playin’ one bit. Her tone almost makes him want to straighten his spine up and give declarations of ’yes ma’am’s. Mighta, even, if anyone woulda instilled some damn respect in him.

He’s just settlin’ in when Anna’s voice pierces through the fog. Narrows his eyes down in confusion and wonders when the hell he lost her? Couldn’t recall pullin’ from her side, but then ‘gain, he was here, wasn’t he? ‘Stead of out with her where he’d started.

Atticus’ answering voice makes the hairs on the back of his neck stand up straight, ‘cause if there was anyone Boone mighta been a little ‘fraid of it’d be the guy with a badge and a personal vendetta for the way Boone smokes his cigarettes. He looks up just in time to see Rem shoot the deputy some kinda mischievous knowin’ look that he can’t process, then turns his hazy gaze on his only friend. Her voice is there but it don’t match with the movin’ of her lips.

Everything’s gettin’ r e a l f u c k i n ’ s l o w.

He sure he don’t wanna hear it anyway. She looks way too damn smitten, like a big cat preenin’ under the praise of someone that realizes just what a fancy predator it is. He screws his nose up at her and lets her fade back down into background noise. Don’t care ‘bout nothin’ ‘till his name is fallin’ outta Harlow’s mouth ‘gain. ”Nola, me, June and Marvin need to get some sleep. Ain’t that right Boone?”

His stomach gives a right nasty flip at the sound of his givin' name, but the little light in him labeled Goddamn Survival Instinct, Listen Up finally turns on. He ain’t sure of everythin’ but he knows his skin jus’ barely hangin’ on somehow. “Yup,” he mutters, round another big bite.Image

“Anywho…I’ll take Boone off yer hands. Needs a good nigh’ sleep and…water. Thank ya kindly for takin' care of him.” Anna’s sittin’ right next to him and he’d never even noticed ‘till her hand was on his shoulder. “Ey, I don’t wan’ no water,” he grumbles, leanin’ ‘way from her slightly. Water will just clear the fog. And make him have to piss. What he wants is another damn sandwich but his luck feels p u s h e d.

Noel’s voice pulls away any lingerin’ feelin’s from whatever Anna’d been runnin’ her gums ‘bout earlier, and Rem heaves a sigh before he presses a kiss against his daughters head and passes her over to Harlow. Gives her a kiss too, even though it’s a short thing. “I don’t know,” the man admits gruffly, takin’ his hat off so he can run his hand through his hair. He shoots a look toward Atticus. "Think Honey's right, though. We better stay."

Well, Boone sure ain't stayin'. Done got what he'd wanted, time to scram. He licks blood and mustard from his fingers then turns to narrow his eyes on Anna - ain't so much that he's mad but that there's two of her, somehow. "I don't wan go home," he says, gruffly. "So you best have some kinda other plan."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: M. Boone Character Portrait: Rem Bates Character Portrait: Roux Bates Character Portrait: Harlow Brynn B. Character Portrait: Atticus Montgomery Character Portrait: Sophia Moon
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Harlow Brynn Bates


Whitecaps to aftermaths shook the Honey Stop for only a few minutes before it returned to its workaday calm with the occasional smart-ass remark. Harlow took Nola into her arms, pacing in lieu of conversing too cordial. She felt she’d already been excessively generous with the likes of Marvin Boone. Always’d been a hospitable soul, with the patience of a saint, Lord knew she needed it to be married to a Bates but…

This trouble was stinking up a storm like Louisiana ain’t never seen. With an uptown dog catcher showing his teeth for a portended smile, she felt no sense of real safety. Those tony boys rolled up in a dust cloud to Gretna looking for a fight. Boy, they got one. But they made a dozen more.

And when the dust cleared they’d procured a county of enemies. Bad blood brewed just as heavy as the secrets in the distilleries. To think that’s where all the money was, ‘well as the jams and jinxes, made Harlow ‘bout sick. Her arm the hamper to a cooing child, she leaned over empty tables to dim the dining room. Nola shifted, lids blanching to show eyes full of blue that were just far too tired to keep up with the madness of adults. Then she’d nestle into the crook of Harlow’s arm again. Sigh just a consonant short of an angel’s song and sort of shrug. Just too tired for the madness, not stirred nor shaken by the news or the noise. Needed a good, long sleep paired with a lack of interest for all the beings that had accumulated in her parent’s establishment. That child’s spirit was a thousand years old.

Mama, as so lovingly referred to by more than just Anna Leigh and her commonly sloshed companion, cupped small fingers to curved glass and blew out the last of dinner candles, murmuring, “I don’t give a damn what y’all do now, long as you keep it quiet. Miss Mae is sleeping.” Rocking slowly, she tucked a corner of knitted threads between Nola’s body and her own. With a firm free hand she bolted the back door and turned to observe the remaining inhabitants.

Noel was up and down a bit, clearly not at home or order with the company of Atticus and so many particularly noisy strays. Was just like him to keep it low, grating one row of teeth against the other while hands remained folded so stiffly the bones might threaten to break. Didn’t much like to disturb anything if he needed not to. But strike him the wrong way or come for the family and you’d see a brand of hell even the pastor couldn’t teach you when talkin’ Jeremiahs and Levitici. Harlow nodded to him, resting assured that he’d handle the remnants with whatever else may come.

The fact of the matter went beyond just blood ties and family. See, now, they’d all a common enemy. In spite of Boone sloppin’ himself across the front porch and making a scene, Harlow believed fate just had its way. She’d have loved to just strangle the boy half to death. Give him a good scare and yell about how he’d endangered her kin. But what good would it do?

Graves was already there. Been snoopin’ for weeks. Fate was fate.

ImageShe paused by her husband’s side, an oath taken nightly but with more urgency this time around. She didn't have to tell him she loved him. Nola ‘twix them, Harlow rested her head to his shoulder, said softly, “That man’s gon’ sink us, now, Rem. You best have a plan in short order, or we’ll lose it all.” Swallowing her pride was like drinking gravel. Didn’t want to admit how serious things had gotten, especially in the light of their fondest creations. Not with everyone listenin’. But they were all a part of it now, whether they liked it or not. “Don’t let Roux wander out there too late, neither. I’m worried ‘bout him, with that Graves still out there… Alright?”

Rested there for a moment, she took asylum at the collar of Remington, inches from his heartbeat and certain under his shadow that no harm would come tonight. She fell feather light to the stubble of his jaw, patted his chest softly.

“Might want to get ahold of Miss Moon, she’s got tricks up her sleeve and loves to help ‘round here. Ain’t seen her in a while. Goodnight, Mr. Montgomery,” Harlow said from the stairwell, “Make sure you see Marvin and Anna out. I’ll make sure the girl minds her tongue,” Ma Bear narrowed her eyes, “I mean it. Bring that boy back when y’wake, Anna Leigh. There’s business to finish.” June was looped in Harlow’s goodnight gathering, taken to the second story and disappeared in silence.

The next day was gonna’ be just as much a mess if not more. But there was some felicity that only the night could bring with forty winks or more. And they’d all need it. By rushlight, Remington and Atticus would test the resilience of boards and benches with all their weight pressed no more portly than the decisions they’d have to make in solitude. When they were all alone crime was just a conformity of integrity. Retribution, a thought maybe. Protecting what was theirs, imperative.

Preservation took no prisoners and stowed away pride.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: M. Boone Character Portrait: Rem Bates Character Portrait: Roux Bates Character Portrait: Atticus Montgomery Character Portrait: Jacqueline Auguste Character Portrait: Noel Bates
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”Wake up you’ve got hell to pay Boonsy, I was tasked with bringin’ you to mamma bear.”

He comes to feelin’ like someone dumped a goddamn pile o’ bricks on his head, and he don’t remember eatin’ dirt but he sure does feel it down his throat. There’s a layer of dried blood still on his gums, crusty and forgotten, and he’s pretty sure he tastes the slime of three days worth o’ hooch layerin’ the back of his tongue.

If Death came in a bottle they might as well throw a label on it and name it after him, ‘cause Boone was pretty damn sure he had both feet fallin’ down into hell already and he was only holdin’ onto life ‘cause Anna Leigh Declan had a vice grip on his wrist. Funny what such little girls were capable of when they only had one friend in the world, no matter how fucked up that friend happened to be.

Sunlight snaps into the room harsh and unforgiving, and Boone mutters a handful of curses through a voice box that crackles as he pulls blankets up over his head and tells Anna God musta sent her to punish him in between one crude word and another. As if fuckin’ provin’ his point, the next second his solitude is gone and ice cold covers him from the top of his head to his neck.

He jumps up sputterin’ like he’s drownin’, runnin’ his hands through hair he can’t remember the last time he washed, narrowin’ blood shot eyes at Anna’s blurry form. The world is either spinnin’ or his head is, can’t decide. All he knows is it goddamn hurts. “Fuck you,” he spits at the girl standin’ across from him, voice cracklin’ from a box that ain’t too fond of him.

”Do you have any idea the trouble you could have gotten into?” she’s concerned, but he’s not sure he really cares all that much. He wants somethin’ to stop the poundin’ he can hear. Wonders if he’s goin’ crazy finally or if he’s just actually hungover. Been awhile, since he’s got hungover. Drink like a sewer fish and you start gettin’ used to it. Tolerance, he thinks them smarter people call it.

He barely remembers the night before. Don’t know what day it is, even. But Harlow Bates’ voice is a thing of nightmares, and it cuts through the fog in his head with surprising clarity. Oh. That’s right. He is in some kinda trouble or another.

He scrubs dirty palms over his eyes before glancin’ down at his knuckles. The bruises are old, but the cuts are new, and he don’t remember who he got in a fight with or when, but knows it musta felt good. “Yeah, yeah,” he mutters at Anna as he finally drags himself off the bed. Everything fuckin’ hurts, from his back to his joints, complain’ bout dehydration probably.

He slides his way into the bathroom, keeps the lights off while he takes a piss, barely glances at himself in the mirror while he tries to scrub away the last traces of blood and dirt on his face. Washes his mouth out, combs his hair back with his fingers and lifts his shirt up for a sniff. Fish, dirt, blood, sweat, probably some tears.

He shrugs, leaves it be, and lets Anna drag him down to the Honey stop for a talkin’ to. He stumbles over halfway there, the sunlight hell on his eyes, and stops twice to vomit. Ain’t had much food in awhile, it’s mostly liquid, smells like a goddamn distillery.
Climbin’ up the steps of the Honey Stop sends flashbacks up his spine and he remembers pressed pants and bein’ at Rem Bates’ feet. Sloshed, then. Lookin’ for food like an alley cat diggin’ through a dumpster. They fed him, he’s sure of it. Probably while Mama Bates was tellin’ him he’d be ‘round in the mornin’.

Ol’ Rem is there, all serious like, standin’ next to the porch swing. Gives Boone a narrowed eye’d look, and he responds with a lazy too fingure salute. Sofia Moon is at his hip, sittin down there like a goddamned Grim Reaper. He don’t spare her glance, ‘cause she always looks at him like she’s searchin’ for somethin’ and he don’t like that too much. He ain’t sure what it is she think she’ll find, but he don’t want her to.

He pushes the door open harder than he means too, wood crackin’ like a lightin’ bolt, props it with his elbow so Anna can slide in behind him. It’s damn early, Stop ain’t crawlin’ yet. Atticus is there, lookin’ tired and frustrated, Noel not much better. Rem’s little slice o’ Honey ain’t made it down yet, though.

He wonders if the boys will honor him with a last meal before they let her rip her claws into him, ‘cause he sure is fuckin’ hungry, but he ain’t dumb enough to ask outright. He’s lookin’ for his favorite table - that one that’s got a corner missin’ and a leg that don’t quite touch the floor right - when he catches sight of somethin’ a little more interestin’.

Roux Bates.

Now, Boone done felt like shit, but he’d have’ta be in the ground before messin’ with Baby Bates wasn’t in his will power of the day. Dog was still sober, this early, always had more control than Boone - but that doesn’t matter, in his book.

Boys too comfortable, too quiet, and Boone’s fingers itch, ‘cause he’s always liked Roux a little more when he was roughed up.

He’s sittin’ there at the back, in front of that goddamn large window, soakin’ up the sunshine he was born in. It makes Boone feel like someone’s got their fingers in his brain rippin’ it apart just lookin’ over there, but he grits his teeth ‘cause he’s fuckin’ had worse for a lot less.

He manages to keep one foot in front of the other as he makes his way over there, jerks out a chair and spins it around backwards before sittin’ down. “The fuck are you doin’ anyway?” he asks, snatchin’ the book out of Roux’s hands. He flips through the pages like he can see anything other than jumbled letters and blurred words, snorts out of annoyance. “Actin’ like you smart enough to make sense of any’o this?”

Maybe it was cause he was so preoccupied with payin' attention to his book and keeping' an eye on the front door, but somehow Roux didn't notice Marvin Boone’s entrance till he was stealin' a seat from his table. Loud, abrasive, with the kind of presence that made him grit his teeth instantly. He looked up just as his book was snatched away, a knot of red rage coiling in his chest. It wasn't even ten and he'd been so fuckin' peaceful, but starin' at Boone flip through his favorite book like it was trash made him want to break a few of his dirty fingers.

Roux followed Boone eyes across the page and smirked, knowin' he didn't know shit about reading. Wasn't so surprising considering that hell of a family, but it soothed him a bit to know he had the upper hand. "Readin's basic nowadays, you sayin' you can't?"

It took him all of two seconds to get the reaction he’d wanted. Roux’s face did that thing where somethin’ much darker than all those shy little grins shined through, and Boone had always found that damn interestin’. He was mad, and Boone thought that was great. wanted to see him fuckin' do somethin' about it.

The question catches him off guard, and he sneers as he tosses the book across the table. He can't read, worth shit. Never learned, most them Boone kids didn't. Wasn't somethin' he admitted though, wasn't nobody's business, but it gets under his damn skin that Roux can fuckin' see it. "Sayin' I have fuckin' better things to do."

He had to hold back a laugh, the corners of his mouth twitching' devilishly. Fuck, Boone had no idea how transparent he was, Roux could almost see every thought written across the pricks face.

"Better things to do like drink yourself shit-faced every night?" He reaches over and snatched the book from the table, sending a knowin' glare Boones way, "Think showin' up here whenever you're too drunk to handle yourself is gonna pan out long term, Marvin? We might just lock the doors and leave ya to the pigs next time"

They were fightin’ words and they both knew that wasn’t a game Boone could win. He was all fists or nothin’, but still, tradin barbs with the likes of Roux Bates gets his adrenaline pumpin’ somethin’ mad. The name causes his fist to curl against the wood, but they both know he won’t throw a punch. Not here, not now. Not like this. “If you’re family starts lockin’ the doors on drunks they’d have to go on an’ kick you out with me. Handle your hooch bout as well as I do, don’t ya, puppy? What’s that shit they say, birds of a feather or whatever? Don’t hold that nose of yours up too high. We come from the same side of the tracks, Bates. You’re more like me than you like.”

He gripped the edge of the table, his knuckles turning white from the tension- he wanted to pound Boone face into the floorboards of his brothers restaurant and he didn't really care that everyone would be there to witness. Boone had it comin', he only ever learned anythin' by having it beat into him.

Blue was standin' now, Roux could make out his stock still mass next to him. He didn't dare move his eyes from Boone, fairly sure he'd get a fist to his jaw as soon as he broke eye contact. The fucker was right, of course. Same side of the tracks, some person. He knew Boone saw red just as much as he did, but that was what made hate blur his vision every time he saw the drunk.

"Same, sure. 'Cept for your inability to throw a punch and impressive readin' skills" He hissed, low that anyone else wouldn't hear. Cause Roux had an image to uphold and Boone wasn't apart of it, "Doesn't explain why you spend most of your time on our porch. Seems like you come 'round here looking' for a handout or fight daily"

His blood’s pumpin’ and adrenaline is clearin’ that stubborn ass hangover of his. Roux has got his fingers wrapped right around Boone’s strings and knows exactly which ones to pluck to get him pissed off somethin’ good. Maybe Roux is smart enough to read them goddamn books, ‘cause he sure can read Boone. “Like sittin’ up here all ‘lone like you do is any better? What’s wrong, Sunshine Boy, can’t make any friends ‘cause all the red that’s in you?” He leans in close and grins, somethin’ all ugly and twisted, not happy like it’s supposed to be. His eyes dropped pointedly to Roux’s hands, knuckles strained all white, then back up to blue-gray eyes. All bright, washed out in the sunlight like this. “Hit me. Y'know ya want to. I dare ya, Roux. C’mon.”

ImageIt was the Honey Stop, where Rem and Harlow built their lives. Where his niece would grow up, a sacred community sanctuary during the dry years. And Roux didn't give one fuck as his arm wound back and flew full force in Marvin Boone’s face, sending the other man flying backwards from his seat and onto the floor with a resounding thud. The crack of knuckles on cheekbone was the loudest sound for a moment, forcing all necks to crane their direction. There was blood on his knuckles and across Bones cheek, a rich red that matched the color burning in his mind.

Blue was on his feet with an alerting bark as Roux pushed Boone's chair out of the way and lunged forward, knocking him back against the floor harshly.

"Dare ya, Marvin, punch me in front of everyone here. Lets see what happens"

It goddamn hurt, and Roux hadn’t hesitated. Boone had been too close to move even if he’d wanted to, and too close to do anything but fall with that hit. The force sent him to the floor, and the remainders of his hangover left him feelin’ like he was still up there even though his body was definitely on the ground. His cheekbone seared with pain, and it felt good.

He let out a laugh when Roux was suddenly on him, the back of his head crashing against the floor. Everything rolled, like it was filled with rocks, but there was still that fuckin’ smile stretched across his face. It was the name, more than the dare, that caused him to get a handful of Roux’s shirt before lifting him up, putting their faces only inches apart. “Oh, are we gonna play?”

He didn’t have the leverage to knock Roux over, not like this, nor get in a hit like the one Roux had driven into him, but he still pulled his fist back and slammed it home just under the Bates boy’s left eye. They’d fuckin’ match. How fuckin’ perfect.

The punch felt good, blindingly painful but fucking good. His head snapped to one side, cricking his neck in that painful way that meant it would be sore tomorrow. But despite that, he wanted to feel it again. Felt something like takin' a shot of Rem's old hooch- kinda shit you knew was bad for you but you wanted too damned much.

Roux's next punch landed right on top of the previous, the broken cheek bone creaking under his bloody knuckles. And then the next one set a spray of blood from Boone mouth, the next snapping his head to the side, the next crushing Roux's hand painfully against skull.

Blood was dripping out of Boone’s mouth at the same rate is it leaked from his knuckles, the pain finally winning out over his rage. For the first time, his eyes flicked up to the room, realizing the bloody mess they'd made on his family's floor. People were looking' at him strange, but his eyes found Rem's. His brother nodded, a small movement, but enough that Roux knew he was done.

He dragged his eyes back down to the mess he'd made of Boone's face and he exhaled. Roux moved to get up, but leaned slightly lower just as he rose, "I only like playing if you can keep up"

Pulling himself off Boone, Roux turned to a very agitated Blue and took a few steps away, hands sliding into blue-ticked fur. He hated the blood that stained Blues fur from his hands, hated not knowing if it was his or Boone's.

Seemed like every time Boone came around, they ended up covered in each others blood.

There was a sayin - he was pretty sure he heard Rem Bates say it - that most people liked the idea of fightin’, but not a lot of them liked the idea of gettin’ hit. Boone was the exception of the rule, backwards logic all the way around. He loved gettin’ hit more than most guys loved gettin’ laid. Each time Roux’s fist slammed against his face was a mix of pleasure and pain he could get high on.

Roux’s voice when he finally backed off was a rough taunt, and Boone laughed. The kind of laugh that started deep in him and burst out of him unhinged. It was fuckin’ perfect. He rolled onto his stomach, lettin’ blood gather in his mouth before spittin’ it out again. Could feel blood on his face and wasn’t too sure just which one of them it belonged to. Both, probably. HIs gaze rose slightly as he pushed himself onto his knees, just to see Rem starin’ down at him.

Oh right. Everyone was here. He’d almost forgotten. Wondered if they’d yelled at the boys to cut it the fuck out, or just silently gotten up to get the middle brother. Roux’s Keeper. Boone grinned, sure it was ghastly, all that blood around his teeth.

Rem shook a head at him and tossed a rag in his face. “Clean that shit off my floor,” he ground out. “And off your face, ‘fore Honey comes in and see’s what a goddamn mess you made.”

“Roux hit me first,” Boone declared, like that would earn him any kind of leeway in this crowd.

Rem arched an eyebrow, slowly.”Like you didn’t ask for it.”

The man had a point.

**Credit to Ivisbo for Roux paragraphs

Characters Present

Character Portrait: M. Boone Character Portrait: Rem Bates Character Portrait: Roux Bates Character Portrait: Harlow Brynn B. Character Portrait: Atticus Montgomery Character Portrait: Sophia Moon
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#, as written by J.D.

ImageNoel Bates

Thumb and forefinger dig deep into eyelids until lightening sparks behind closed eyes. Accompanied by a dull sting of something not quite pain, but not quite comfort either. The night is long and full of hushed words that rarely exhibit a literal meaning. Noel would rather be asleep but sleep don’t come easy with a head full of threats and the driving force of simmering anger kept under tight lock and key. He isn’t settled yet, no, he won’t settle till long after the dogs have lost their scent. Still, don’t mean he’s ready to split skin over little boys trying to play the intimidation game.

Protections a way of life, runs deep in the blood of Gretna’s men. None more so than the Bates boys – and, admittedly the resident Deputy, his role in this all much too personal for Noel’s enjoyment. Never once imagined Montgomery would be so willing to topple an opponent by joining in with another. But then again, Noel’s bias paints a light screen of red over his views of the man. Atticus has been a “friend” for a while now, but Noel still can’t escape memories of days spent spitting fire at one another till their gums turned raw and bled. Be it from experience or simple dislike. He’ll trust for now that the three of them are the most suited for this task, and later, when all is back to normal they’ll continue to snap at each other with the ferocity of stray dogs scrapping for meat.

The first few minutes of conversation veer towards the obvious disgruntled nature shared between them. Though, it devolves as quickly into a smattering of backhanded insults thrown between Deputy and Eldest. A speckle of actual good ideas not nearly enough to cool down the heat of the room. Noel’s sweating and weary before long, gone past anger now. He groans, tired beyond belief. But there’s nothing to do but wait it out, the storms going to fade at some point.

“We’re all damned,” Noel mutters, rocked by the sudden, inescapable sensation of anxiety. A horde of insects crawling over his skin, their poison bites made up of every single problem that might occur. Begging him to act now before it’s too late to gather the forces to do so. A war-like mentality, born of perhaps too many dime novels and nights spent with whiskeys warmth. Long before prohibition came trundling in to muck it all up.

To his right, sittin’ stone still with that gargoyle grim expression, Atticus momentarily breaks the mold and snorts. Amused apparently, in a way that’s got Noel itching to start shit before faux civility can dominate their conversation. If not for the girls getting their beauty sleep he probably would have. Wound tight enough that he feels close to snapping.

“Nothin’ damned about us,” Atticus disagrees, “Its them city boys that’ll be kissing brimstone ‘fore long.” The surety of his words is only betrayed by the steady tick of his jaw – poker face may last but there’s always a tell. Noel knows better, knows there’ll be a fight. They won’t all survive it either, someone’s going to bleed before this is done with. Enough of an issue to offset their foundations, keep the ground beneath them rocking with the changing situations.

“Don’t believe me?” Atticus voice mocks surprise. “All we gotta do is take the fight to them, stomp out the fire before it spreads.” He spits, as if it were the most obvious answer in the world. It can’t be that simple.

“I believe there’s more to it than what you’re proposing.” Noel’s no fool, and he wouldn’t peg Atticus as one either. But half the words out of his mouth tonight have trended towards the full frontal assault side of things. Nothin against a fighter, but Noel’s tired of all the hypotheticals leading down the same hellish road. Taking the fight to them without thinkin’ it through is a sure way to bring hell down on Gretna. No. Its better to bite back in a different way. Fighting fire with fire is only going to make it spread. Poison’s what they need, metaphorically. Slow and steady, able to kill without bringing undue attention down on them. Noel misses the days where stress only existed in hard work, where it surely belonged.

“Rem,” Noel would say, not too long into the night, “Got any thoughts in that big head of yours?” It’s clear that any deliberation placed in the hands of the eldest and the deputy alone will result in nothing but heated bickering. A back and forth without any true discussion happening besides one sided ideas and the clear intent to cause the other as much of a headache as possible. As far as Noel’s concerned, Rem’s damn near the only sensible one in the mix that night.

Rems got that look about him though, uncomfortable, unwilling to be nothing but vague. Jackass. Mutters a quick and painless, “Yeah, but I don’t think your gonna like it.” Before he’s starin’ off in the distance again. Course Noel won’t like it. He damn near doesn’t like anything suggested by anyone else, but he’s willing to stow his pride long enough to get some damn peace of mind.

He’d heard Harlow earlier mentioning Miss Moon, knew that whatever Rem planned that it would all start with her. The simple thought of what they could do with her at their side alone kept him from tail spinning into worry. But at the same time, it gnawed at him to think of the repercussions. A worrier till the day he dies. But he’s willing to see this one through, if it’s really what’s going to save them in the end.

And so they continue on and on until the morning breaks and somewhere between A and B Rem leaves to start up breakfast. Noels so damn tired he sags into his, a barely muttered ‘Thank you’ leaving his lips before he starts shoveling in. Half dead by the time patrons begin trickling in and worse off by the time Atticus starts up again.

”Its going to be a fight no matter what Noel.” Reminds the Deputy in hushed tones, “You can’t sit back and watch from afar with this one.” And goddamit if Noel doesn’t already know that. Grumbles out a harsh insult before looking up at Atticus, that Hyena grin of his ever present. “Fightings not the problem, it’s the risk of it.” It all comes down to what they’re willing to lose.

Noel doesn’t got anymore time left for this banter. Leaves Atticus hanging on the edge of his words as he stands, clearing away their dirty dishes before anyone else does. Rems gone out to hash out a plan and Noel’s done with this headache, at least, for a few blissful fleeting moments.

Doesn't take long for the Honey Stop to light up with more noise than Noel's ever been comfortable with. A social man would fare much better, but Noel likes the quiet much more. Easier to think when there aren't a million snippets of conversation to casually listen in on. He'd damn near missed the fight but soon as he slid back into his chair the ruckus caught his attention. Boone had never been nothing but trouble, all of them could see it, but Noel didn't get his kicks off of saying it aloud. He knows Roux can hold his own against Boone's sort, but it still gets his blood pumping to see them fighting so blatantly in the middle of their sanctuary.

"Them boys do anything but circle one another?" Atticus asks with a snort, not bothering to diffuse the situation at all. He could. His badge isn't just for show. But he's far too amused to give a damn. Noel groans, ready to start throwin threats around but Rem's back soon enough, getting the two idiots to knock it off with harsh words more suited to him. "Those two got too much interest in one another, if ya ask me." Atticus hums, though his attention turns swiftly to the Anna Leigh. Boone's shadow at every turn. Noel didn't ask, and says as much aloud before settling back into his seat. Observing the room with a critical eye.

Harlow's arrived into the fray, an angry beauty seething as she smacks Boone around a little. Noel's always enjoyed the no-nonsense part of her. A trait that balances out the juvenile tendencies that still exist in Rem, even to this day. A woman who knows her own strengths and how to use em. She's good for them all, even when they can't see past their own shame. Boone's damn lucky she's not strangling the life out of him.

Credit to - Wiley and CharlotteV for Atticus and Rem

Characters Present

Character Portrait: M. Boone Character Portrait: Rem Bates Character Portrait: Roux Bates Character Portrait: Harlow Brynn B. Character Portrait: Atticus Montgomery Character Portrait: Sophia Moon
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The solemn quiet of the moment dissipated as regretfully as the smoke from Rem’s cigarette; the distinctive crack of bone against flesh ringing out in a hypnotic staccato rhythm that drew the attention of all nearby onlookers like some kind of morbid siren’s song. Sophia was no exception. Slinking in after Rem, she had an unobscured view of their resident sunshine boy doing his best to turn Boone’s face into ground meat with nothing but his bare fists. That much light coming from anyone is bounds to cast some shadows, but Sophia had never realized just how deep Roux’s might go. It was a revelation she wasn’t sure she cared for. Violence is a useful tool, Sophia would be the first to admit that simple truth. But just like any other tool, it ceases to be useful the moment you can’t control it. A Bates breaking the sanctuary peace of the Honey Stop was practically blasphemy. Certainly Roux standing there, breathing heavily with Boone’s blood still oozing down his fist, was not the picture of control.

Lying there in his own bloody spittle, it was hard to look past the embodied wreck that was Marvin Boone. Something in that boy was broken, Sophia had known it from the moment she’d laid eyes on the foul mouthed contemptuous drunk. It was in the way he walked, talked, how his entire being craved pain the way other men craved sex. She could practically hear the twisted jagged pieces jangling around inside him. A better woman might see all those cracks and try to fix them. He had Anna for that. Sophia would be the one to smash her boot right through those cracks until he fractured into pieces she could build into something useful. Her capacity to do much more than that had long since been burned away.

The fate of Marvin Boone became imperiled once again by one of the Bates clan, as Harlow came sweeping in with all the grace and fury of an avenging angel. The boy had scarce been tended by his thankless keeper, before Harlow was dragging him out back for an extended lesson on proper southern manners. The show had moved outside, but a crowd still hovered around the bloody mess left behind. Unsurprisingly, Atticus Montgomery stood front and center, the good deputy doing his due diligence no doubt. The sight spread a rare Cheshire grin across Sophia’s lips, wetting them languidly like a cat licking their jowls as it eyed a particularly plum (and presumably slow) canary. Their relationship was simple or complicated depending on who and when you asked. Sophia simply enjoyed seeing just how long she could poke that bear before he tried to take a bite. Why, was anyone’s guess; his face, his badge, just how wickedly easy it was to make that angry flush start creeping up his neck? Maybe she was just bored. It was best not to overanalyze ones recreational habits.

Currently, their in house lawman was engaging in a conversation of mutual interest with the lovely Anna Leigh. Sophia wasn’t the kind of woman willing to compete for a man’s attention, so with the deft skill of practiced hands, Sophia lifted his billfold without breaking stride. Flirting did make such wonderful cover, and Atticus would know who to look for once he noticed the missing clams. For now though, she was more interested in seeing if Harlow had left enough of Marvin Boone in one piece for Sophia to work with. She waved pleasantly as Harlow paused mid-strike to offer her traditional southern hospitality, then got back to business with a particularly brutal blow to the jugular. The woman was an artist. Normally Sophia would enjoy watching her work, but that boy wasn’t going to be much good to her limping around like a goddamn cripple. She needed muscle, and Boone was hard up enough on money and just the right shade of petrified were Sofia was concerned to fit the bill. It also helped that Boone’s swampy reputation made for a convenient red herring leading away from the Bates if things went south. The Bates clan might take care of its own, but Boone wasn’t family, and Sophia had no qualms throwing his tenderized rump to the wolves if he fucked up on the job. Best he find that out upfront, threats of immense bodily harm seemed to do wonders for Boone’s morale.

It didn’t take long after Rem started coaxing Harlow inside and unruffling her feathers, before Anna made her way to Boone and starts mothering him like an injured baby bird. Why someone so delicate and innocent looking as Anna found herself flitting around with Marvin Boone was a mystery, but it probably meant there were some skeletons lurking about in her closet. Sophia could hope anyway. Farm girl looks and small town charm was one thing, but innocence was a special kind of useless she didn’t have time for. Technically speaking, Anna’s eyes were only for Harlow as she offers herself up, all vulnerable like with just the right amount of need for connection and family to make her an easy mark, but it’s Sophia whose lips twist into a predator’s smile. It doesn’t quite reach her eyes as the cogs start turning over the possibilities of just how exactly she could use that innocent pretty face.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: M. Boone Character Portrait: Rem Bates Character Portrait: Roux Bates Character Portrait: Harlow Brynn B. Character Portrait: Atticus Montgomery Character Portrait: Sophia Moon
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↔Harlow Brynn Bates↔

Sufficing to say that fury was a comprehensive feeling in the good lands turned bad was a subtlety. Wasn’t much about Gretna that was meant for this type of disorder. It was a homely place with a lack of hostility, abundance of silliness and sloppy misdemeanors. But not felonies. Graves done dredged it all to hell, cut it loose and played in the surplus of the madness while fattening his own salary. Went and twisted the values and tested the integrity of their small town, and boy was he gonna’ be sorry for that. But first, Marvin would be.

'Cause he more or less wrote the invitation.

Couldn’t keep herself from making an example out of him, and Roux better’a considered himself lucky that the fire in his brother’s wife was slowly sizzling out thanks to the weather. Harlow had unceremoniously walloped on the drunk stripling and made him wanna' cry out for his own mama. Roux got off easy.

Mire around the place was mixin’ and a’minglin’ with all the rain runoff, looking like the swamps more than the delightful nest beside the river. With Boone sunk into the earth, it sure looked a rotten mess. Harlow showed no signs of submission save for the mud painting down the front’a him and breathing’ all deep-like to get her daily serving of Louisiana air. Her hair turned fawn in the dampness, fixed to the clenched facet that had Marvin there reconsidering ever using his tongue for much else than servility of the Honey Stop variety.

Mama instincts kick in ‘fore too long, what with company arriving and crowding around the spectacle. Without twisting her neck a pace, she missed not even one beat when she dressed down grimly, “Don’t know where your parents decided to up n’ run to when you popped out your ma’, Marvin, but if it’s parenting you need, you’re gonna’ get it. Considering the pickle you put some folks in without thinkin’, I think you’re good right here with me. And I’ll tell you another thing…” When she finally got him clutched up by collar and end of wits, she stared daggers into him and murmured, “You better stay god damn sober with that motherfucker walking ‘round this entire county looking for his next promotion. You could be it. And I ain’t gonna’ let that happen.”

With a thrust and relinquished grasp, he hit the wet dirt with a final icky, aqueous ‘thud’. Like the soil was suckin’ and leeching for him before he collided again. Honey looked him once more over. Poor kid, really. In the springtime of his life. Handsome, even, when he wasn’t sporting the stink of rotgut, bruises and bad decisions. Was a shame his mama couldn’t squinch up a bit to give her babies better. But she did her best, and now Harlow was next to play guardian.

Am I?” There was a feigning of understanding but ol’ Boone knew it was time to admit he ain’t had a pot to piss worth reason. He’d lost this one, mighta’ had his fun on the way down with the taunting of Roux, but boy did he lose somethin’ ugly. “Get your behind out of the mud,” she stated matter of fact, like she wasn’t the one who put him there, and only a dumb sonma’bitch would have pointed a finger at her in defense, “Now.” He might have been a lot of things, dumb for certain. But not that dumb.

Cold followed the drizzle, now hitting the brakes like storm was just short of taking down a lamp post or two. Got quiet, with the closing wind and shoes scuffling on the porch. The show was over but the habitués had much to discuss.

“Come on now, Hun.”

Low chitterin’ got up out of him between the scraping of his stubble, and rockin’ Nola with an amused smile. Harlow glanced with her head cocked, still poaching under her apron with residual anxiety and rage. But she didn’t have it for her husband. ‘Cause there he was with his weight creaking porch panels, meaning well with his stock beaming that never got old or less familiar. And she needed him. Loved him. More than ever.

Rem was a curiosity, most folk jus saw him as a bad boy who settled down for once. Never knew how smart and meticulous a man he were when the chips were down. Lotta’ underestimating going on in that town. Not just by the worst of outsiders, neither.

The inner circle at the Stop had a whole ordnance depot as far as the true colors of Gretna was concerned. But Harlow had a special knack for seeing past just the raw color, and recognizing why people did the things they did. Just k n e w the way a Truffle hound knew the difference between blood and bone. Yet she mostly left the fine print and dealings to Atticus, Rem or Noel. If there was somethin’ the three of them couldn’t figure out, then it was gonna’ be a load of trouble for the rest of the whistle stop.

ImageShe’d have to get on with the rest of her day. “You stop laughing, Remington Bates,” she threw a rag over her shoulder, long drenched in the affair as two soles flat and stood up again, “We ain’t living in high cotton if everybody done stopped working and doing their homework to watch this lush make a mess out of my dining room, my porch, and my apron, are we?” She gave him a hard time, and he let it roll off knowing well as she that the pot been stirred and had maybe mere days before it tipped over and burnt the shit out of everybody. “We need a plan, Rem. I don’t feel like playing today, I’m tired.” Moving past him, her fingers traced his shoulder like petals, barely there, and then gone again. Woulda’ taken Nola, but she’d likely have caught a cold from being pressed up against her mama all waterlogged and shiverin’. Last thing they needed was a sick baby.

“Anna, you might as well put that nasty thing out before you black up your lungs and my property. Go heat up a kettle for my Sophia, alright?” With a reassuring smile, Honey nudged at the elbow of her kindred spirit who’d been gone too long. Sure, had a few things to cut the two apart. Like the fact that Sophia had a walk about her that claimed the hearts of men in a way that Harlow’s pie did to stomachs. But one thing about them, the most important of all, was very much the same.

They’d die or kill for what meant most to them.

“I got a few ideas to run by you, Miss Moon, so before your head’s all pumped up with devious ideas can I get your opinion on some things in the back room?” With a restive jerk, she padded into the dining room and towards the walk in pantry. Wrung her hair out as she waited patiently under the dull light of the ceiling, certain that Sophia’s motives were predacious when her eyes caught the right subject.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: M. Boone Character Portrait: Rem Bates Character Portrait: Roux Bates Character Portrait: Harlow Brynn B. Character Portrait: Atticus Montgomery Character Portrait: Jacqueline Auguste
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There are certain rules for people like Jaq, things ingrained by the hand of a man spitting the word of god while letting the devil guide a belt in a whip-like manner. Nice and easy, settle into the spaces between fragmented conversation. Don't focus too long on any one person, makes 'em real nervous sometimes. Eyes lowered, roaming through tangled legs. To this day the things she could observe from her father's constant ear-to-the-ground behavior stick with her. An ingrained lesson to always listen without listening. She looks up only when a body draws near, a man she could call a friend, if not a form of family -

what's the difference these days anyhow, the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb. Or so some could say. Jaq certainly believes it. Her blood relatives had never even scratched the surface of feeling like family to her.

"Rem." She acknowledges kindly. He looks tired, as if he's carrying the weight of the entire world on his shoulders right that second. She supposes he might be, if she can tell anything by the somber expression he wears.

“If you still the prayin’ type...” the slight dip of her smile is the only indication of an answer, hands clasping beneath the table. Today the wounds she wears are left open and raw, flushed red with infection. A fever in her eyes when she lowers her gaze to the wooden tables and lets the smile slip from chewed up lips. She remembers too vividly, can almost feel the bite of bible verses as they're pressed into her skull with the force of a fist. She ain't got no right today to incite prayer on behalf of friends she calls home - but she'll damn well do it anyway for their sake, belief or lack thereof non-withstanding.

When Rem moves along those subtle notes of tension return. its clear, at least to someone who is capable of detecting the wrongness of a room. A single sweeping glance catches on Noel and Atticus, the easier targets to her usual babbling half-sermons. The Deputy, in particular, has no love for her ways, the uncomfortable and constant stand-offs between them a clear indicator of their acquaintance. So long as Atticus doesn't stumble her way she won't casually slip bible passages to him under her breath, though that's not in the least bit fun for her.

Noel's a different story altogether, the tension between them a matter of communication. A silence on both parts and lack of general interest. Rem is more her speed when it comes to friendships, and people like Honey. Strong and resilient without being overbearingly silent to the general proddings. It's no fun to make light of someone when they don't fight back in kind. But she has no ill will for the eldest Bates and his sullen charms, rather, finds discomfort in the tired look to his eyes and the way his smile is just a bit too soft in comparison to the gruff face its set in.

Something big must have gone down for the air to be this charged. It's not long fore' more trouble comes barging into it, bringing that barely perceivable hint of destruction in its wake. She doesn't know Marvin Boone well, they don't run in nearly the same circles on any given day, but she knows trouble when she see's it. Can't stop the inner judgments from arising in the wake of her forgotten ills. A stricken feeling of knowing her tongues going to slip up 'round him at some point and he sure looks ready to set down the weight of his own shoulders on everyone here. She knows of his family, even if she doesn't know them. Hard to escape the whispers in this place, and really, she's so inclined to believe the gossip that's spoken about the Boone's.

Has to tear her eyes away from his bee-line movement towards the only other Bates in the room, Roux and stare at the girl he walked in with openly. Anna, from a standpoint of someone far removed from the land of self-confidence the kind of overpowering force that demands attention from the room. A beauty, if you will, and if she's strong enough to put up with a Boone then Jaq can see why she carries herself the way she does. Frowns a little though, and wonders why Boone would leave her side in such a haste to presumably hassle Roux. She gnaws her lip, attempts to stop this constant observation. This is what always gets her in trouble.

Attention to detail and too much time spent watching other people's lives around her.

Knows damn well its a bad path to go down.

She sips her drink and turns her gaze to the ceiling. Long enough, she supposes, for something to have gone down. Something that has the Honey Stop stumbling over itself to put a stop to. Logically, she's seen people fight before. Seen people tear each other to pieces, seen people tear people she knows to pieces. And really, that was only in the scope of her own home. Seeing two young men throwing their fists in the middle of a place she considers sanctuary is startling.

Coming up out of her seat, she makes sure that she isn't anywhere within the scope of the fight, were anything to go flying or if they were to get off the floor and continue ravaging the place with their scuffle. She chews her lip, its already going red from the constant attentions of her teeth but she can't help it. Glances to the other patrons with alarm in her eyes. Though thankfully, it lasts only a short time before Rem's back in and breaking it up before too much blood is spilled.

She's thankful, the adrenaline of the moment sparking that familiar feeling of "run and don't look back" in her gut. She can't settle the rapid beating of her heart but she can take in a few lungfuls of air to stop the black dots swimming in her vision. It has been a while since panic like that has overcome her.

It's somewhere between Rem settling Nola into Jaq's arm and her sitting back down that she realizes how tense she is. Relaxes her body as she carries the giggling child, smiling at the babe adoringly. Children are honest beings by nature, still untainted by the world's hardship and utterly pure. Jaq loves them for it, can't wait for the day she has her own - if that day ever truly comes. She isn't so sure she's cut out for that kind of life though, is afraid of what she could become given that stress. Despite all the constant "You're gettin' Older dear," 's that she hears from some of the older women in Gretna. Their concern for her, while sweet, is unnecessary.

If thats where she's destined to end up, then she will. All in good time.

She must be projecting a bit of her nerves still, Nola begins to pucker her lips in that way children do before they start getting fussy. Jaq re-positions her and smiles, "It's gon' be alright," Jaq coo's, bouncing her as she does so. Babbling on in a comforting manner, wondering all the while whats going to come next.