The New York East Village is introduced to a debuting performance artist. But who will attend a protest when the resident drama queen lives up to her title?
Reviews are very encouraged.
Disclaimer: I do not own Rent or any of its characters, settings, etc. This applies to all current and upcoming chapters. I wish I owned Mark Cohen, oh, how I wish.
A young woman in her mid twenties stopped on the decrepit old sidewalk, staring wide eyed at a piece of paper duct taped to the wall. Her look of curiosity changed quickly into one of disgust, as she ripped the poster from its setting and threw into the street.
"Whoa, calm down, Maureen," a dark skinned woman cooed, though slightly put off herself.
"This is bullshit!" the woman known as Maureen cursed. "Who the hell does she think she is!"
A young man, tall and lean, filmed the entire outburst.
"Mark, put that damn camera away!" Maureen yelled.
The blonde rolled his eyes. "August 13th, 4:34 PM, Eastern Standard Time. Zoom in on Avenue A's resident performing artist and drama queen extraordinaire, Maureen Johnson. The actress seems to have her panties in quite a twist over a mysterious piece of paper." Mark looked up from the viewfinder of his camera. "Joanne, any insight?"
The ebony woman shrugged, turning her attention back to her despondent lover. "Maureen, cool it. What's the problem?" Joanne held the fuming woman in her arms, rubbing soft circles on her back. Maureen responded with an indignant 'hmph'.
Mark panned left, zooming in on the crumpled piece of paper that had only made it as far as the curb. He walked over, picked it up, and (with some difficulty) un-crumpled it with his free hand.
He read aloud, "Wednesday, 6:30 PM, the Avenue D performing space. Newcomer Sylvia Dubois protests the transformation of the abandoned 16th street apartment building into a parking lot. Come to support your community, see a great show, and kick some ass."
Mark smirked, quickly panning the entire page with his camera before it was snatched away by a small hand. The filmmaker zoomed out, observing as Maureen proceeded to rip the paper to shreds.
"I'm the performance artist, God damn it!" She cursed again. Mark and Joanne both rolled their eyes.
"Calm down, honey bear," the lawyer made a move to comfort her lover but was quickly swatted away. She sighed. "Isn't that building a shelter for the homeless?"
"Yeah," Mark replied.
"I wonder who's wanting to take it down, for a parking lot of all things."
"Who gives a shit!" Maureen interjected with her usual flair for the dramatic.
"Maureen, a protest is a good idea, you've got to admit. If that building goes down, it's sending a lot of people right back out into the streets. Not to mention the morale of the entire community goes down. That building is like a village." Joanne tried to console her while taking all the facts into perspective as well.
Mark grinned. She's definitely a lawyer.
"It's not like anyone's going to go anyway. Nobody's heard of her before." The actress huffed.
Mark shrugged, turning off his camera and tucking it under his arm, before reaching for another plastered poster and ripping it off, reading it to himself.
"I dunno, I think I'll go," he stated nonchalantly. Maureen stared at him, wide eyed, as Joanne sighed.
"What! You can't go!" She protested, as if it was obvious.
Mark regarded her frankly. "Maureen, I could use more protest footage. The exposition of it will help the cause, too." The actress looked away, so the blonde decided to appeal to her sense of self importance. "Besides, don't you want to check out your competition?"
Maureen huffed. "What competition? I'm Maureen the Drama Queen, people know me. Nobody knows Sybil Whatserface."
"Sylvia Dubois." Mark corrected.
The actress gritted her teeth. "Whatever, I'm not going, and neither is Pookie."
Mark looked at Joanne, who shrugged in defeat. She had no real interest in this newcomer anyway.
"Have it your way," Mark shrugged. A few moments of uncomfortable silence passed by before Joanne suggested heading back to the loft. The other two nodded in agreement and began walking. Maureen became disconcerted, muttering furious curses under her breath.
Arriving back at the apartment, the three stepped in. Maureen headed to the fridge, pulling out a beer, Joanne took a seat next to the window, and Mark headed for his roommate's room.
The filmmaker knocked lightly on the door, not waiting for consent before entering. On the disheveled bed, a young man sat cross legged, head leaning against the wall and eyes closed. Lying in his lap was a Spanish girl, about nineteen. She appeared to be fast asleep, though her body was caked in sweat and despite the numerous blankets she was under, Mark could tell she was shivering.
The man on the bed lifted his head. Mark made his way to the side of the mattress, placing his camera on the night stand, as the man in jeans raised a finger to his mouth in a "shh" motion.
Mark nodded. "Hey, Roger," he whispered, "How is she?"
Roger sighed. "She's good right now. Sleep is the only peace she gets," he gazed down at his shaking lover. "Poor baby..."
Mark sighed. He knew what it was like to feel so helpless. He remembered, not that long ago, when he had seen the songwriter through his own withdrawal. Neither of them had gotten much sleep. The filmmaker remembered how he sometimes had to tackle Roger to the ground to stop him from getting out of the loft for a hit. Soft words were spoken, violent punches were thrown, already decaying furniture was broken, but in the end they came out better friends - and people - than ever.
"What do you want?" Roger asked softly, snapping Mark out of his memories.
"I was gonna ask if you wanted to come to a protest tonight," the glasses-clad blonde muttered, though he mentally cursed himself for even bringing it up.
The songwriter shrugged. "I can't leave the loft," his gaze softened as he patted the girl's curly brown hair with gentleness that one wouldn't expect from him. "Mimi needs me here."
Mark smiled weakly, remembering how his already dying social life had been put on hold during Roger's rehabilitation. "Right."
Roger looked up. "Why don't you take Collins? I'm sure he's not doing anything tonight, and he needs to get out of that apartment."
"Good idea. He downstairs?" Collins had taken up residence in Mimi's old apartment after she moved in with Mark and Roger.
Roger laughed bitterly. "Isn't he always?"
Mark gave another sad grin, hoping all this grief and pain would be over soon. He placed a reassuring hand on Roger's shoulder and squeezed lightly before grabbing his camera and leaving the room, shutting the door quietly behind him. He saw Maureen and Joanne arguing about something, but shrugged it off and left the flat. He walked down a flight of stairs, before arriving at another generic wood door.
The blonde rapped lightly. It wasn't long before he heard the various clicks of Collins unlocking the entrance. Roger turned the knob and stepped in.
"Hey hey hey!" Collins smiled and wrapped Mark in a short, tight hug. Mark grinned; he could always count on Collins to have a smile waiting.
"Hey, Collins," Mark said, returning the hug before they both left the embrace.
"What brings you to my humble abode?" The tall, dark man asked, motioning to his apartment. It was still packed with all Mimi's things, but strangely enough, the style seemed to suit Collins as well.
The apartment's original scent of cinnamon was now overcast by the pungent aroma of marijuana. In one corner of the room were all Collins' things: a few books, a backpack filled with various papers, a bong and a few other memorable things. There was only one visible change in any other part of the room: a small picture of Angel hanging on the far wall. Mark felt a tug at his heart strings at the reminder, but decided to get on with business.
"There's a protest goin' on tonight on Avenue D. Interested?"
Collins looked out the window. "I dunno," he muttered.
"Come on, it's some new girl. Maureen's pissed about it. Plus, I could go for some more footage and you need to get out of this apartment." At this, Collins gave Mark a very frank look.
Mark grinned, lifting up his camera and hearing the familiar whirr of the handle as he turned it on. "August 13th, 5:26 PM, Eastern Standard Time. Zoom in on Thomas Collins, computer genius and professor of philosophy, about to concede to defeat."
The professor laughed heartily, waving a hand at Mark. "Okay, fine, I'll go."
Mark turned the camera on himself. "View Mark Cohen, professional negotiator."
Collins chuckled. "You're no Mimi, dude."
"Well, give me some fishnets and leather hot pants, a sexy Spanish accent, and a job at the Cat Scratch Club, and we can fix that." The two old friends laughed, exchanging jokes as they made their way to the exit. Collins grabbed his knit wool cap and locked the door behind them, as they headed down the stairs and into the smoggy New York streets.