(You don’t always get the option that you wanted most, the one that fits your idea of what your character is. Sometimes all you get is the options you are left with.)
Evie Belin stood in the shadow of the Tops Casino, it’s lights casting an unnatural hue on her mismatched clothing. She adjusted her raider shoulder plate, which was always slipping a little to far to the back. It was obviously made for someone a bit more muscular than her, someone who had also bled a little on the inside of it. Nearby a hooker halfheartedly called in her direction before resuming a set of jerky movements that in her impaired state were likely intended as a dance.
“The lights of the Tops illuminated Evie Belin’s face, revealing her grim determination. No more waiting for the right time.” Since the head injury, Evie had formed the habit of composing little lines of narration about herself. She didn’t believe this was a direct result of the injury; although she couldn’t be sure. Maybe she had always done this. Or maybe she just liked the feeling of certainty that came from painting herself as a specific character. She didn’t know much about her life before, just scrambled memories, few and far between. That wasn’t her real name. She thought Evie might be her first name. Belin she had given to herself in order to answer the doctor’s inquiry. If she was honest, and so far she hadn’t been, Belin was the name of a nice church camp girl she had meet once and remembered from somewhere. Belin is the Spanish name for Bethlehem.
Evie inventoried her weapons. Her companion, Boone, used a handful of the few words he would speak that day to ask if there was a plan. She searched her mind for one.
She had been here before, even gone in and walked around. Even seen him there, from a distance, unobserved herself. She hadn’t been able to imagine a series of events that led to her winning the altercation that had to occur, so as of yet she had done nothing. She had left Tops, left the city several times before to wonder the desert, looking for something else to feel engaged in. Some other purpose. With the exception of the stretches of time they’d spent on Boone’s personal vendetta, nothing had felt meaningful but this. She had very little to give context to her life. At least this she knew she had died for once before.
She knew what would happen at the entrance to the casino. They’d taken her weapons every time. She was pretty sure that this time, as usual, she’d fail to hold anything back undiscovered. She’d gotten a pistol in only once, but she’d been too cautious to use it. Pistols didn’t feel comfortable, familiar, and she didn’t know how to get herself un-outnumbered. Now she didn’t know how she’d hidden it before. She couldn’t remember. She’d spent months trying to find some quest other than this one since then.
As the Chairman gate keeper cheerfully reassured Evie that all her weapons would be safe and secure, she felt a rising sense of insulted panic. Like tears burning at your eyes when you are a little kid, unable to quite swallow them, although Evie didn’t know how she knew what that felt like. But she was doing this, finally, she thought with a pouty insistence. She didn’t care. Boone showed no reaction as his gun vanished from his line of sight. He didn’t care about much in the world now either.
She turned a corner and found him, Benny, in a very uncalculated way, almost on accident. He had taken something from her, a life that she couldn’t now quantify, but also something literal, tangible, that she knew he still physically possessed. She didn’t exactly know it’s significance but she knew she wanted it.
He recognized her. It was immediately clear from his uncomfortably confused reaction. That doctor must have done a decent job putting her face in order. When he had asked her how he’d done, Evie hadn’t known. What she saw in the mirror that day hadn’t meant much to her. After the wounds were closed the doctor had brought her a red dye he’d acquired, to match her roots to the color her hair had been when she was found. He had hoped it would seem familiar to her, maybe lift her spirits. Evie didn’t have a strong emotional response to having red hair, but had kept coloring it in case it has meant something to the person she used to be.
She could see Benny leaning to the side as he spoke to her, trying to get a look at the side of her head. He was wondering if the wound he’d put there hadnt been as extensive as he’d intended. He was wondering how the situation he was now in could possibly have come about. Evie had taken to pulling her hair back in a way that covered the place where the wettest, most shapeless area of the mess had been. The uneven pieces of hair that had been cut away were smoothed over the bulk of the scarring.
She could see immediately that he knew her, and she could see also exactly how outclassed she would be in this fight. He was not required to turn over his weapons here in his own house. He was also surrounded by a posse of Chairmen who were quickly surrounding her. Her intent had been to demand what was hers with little introduction. Her intent veered towards something else so abruptly that she wasn’t fully conscious of that change. Something to the effect of “I didn’t get your name the last time we met,” tumbled from her mouth.
Benny reacted with confusion. He asked if she was making a pass at him, which might have been the stylized masculine role that the Chairmen preferred to adopt rather than an actual question, but she had already latched onto the idea. As she ungracefully professed her desire for Benny, Evie quickly glanced at Boone to see if he was aware that she was throwing shit at the wall. If Boone lacked confidence in Evie’s course of action, he was doing an impeccable poker face. He seemed calmly assured that nothing about Evie’s behavior was off. Evie briefly wondered if it was normal for her to resort to seduction attempts under distress.
“Evie Belin resigned herself to employing her oldest trick once more,” narrated Evie’s inner voice. “Did she still have it, despite her scars?”
She professed to want him. He asked if the bullet had scrambled her brains. She acknowledged what he had done to her and told him it didn’t change anything.
Benny knew something was tragically wrong with the situation, but decided to go forward anyway. As Evie followed him to his suite she wondered how he had reconciled himself to this. Did he attribute her interest to gunshot induced mental defect but had no issue with taking advantage of that? Was he afraid of the unmanly appearance of turning down sex? Boone trailed Evie at a distance. No one gave any thought to the matter of whether or not it was normal to him to accompany her on romantic trysts.
On the walk to the room, Evie knew she needed to kill Benny. She thought that there would still be an opening for that. But as she left Boone standing awkwardly in the suite’s sitting area, she knew. The math was still not in her favor. Benny’s friends, apparently unlike hers, would not be watching this. But he hadn’t deposited his weapon as she had hoped. She was now in the perfect situation to use that hidden weapon that unfortunately she did not have. She wasn’t willing to abort this attempt though. She wasn’t sure she could back out now and live, and if she did, she didn’t think she’d be able to stumble back into this opportunity.
“Evie Belin’s iron-jawed grip on her objective remained unchanged by situational obstacles,” thought Evie, imagining the words in solemn narrator voice. “And besides, she literally did not how long it had been since she last got laid.” She knew that, at least for the short game, Benny’s night would go as he intended. She cast one last glance at Boone before she had to stop looking back. He blinked, and may have given just the tiniest bob of his head, as if to say that he knew what it was like to hate someone so deeply that you’d do anything, lower yourself into any crevasse.
“Evie Belin found the eye of her personal storm. In the calm there, she separated herself from her strongest desire, just for now..” said Evie’s narrator. “She let go of all personal meaning attached to this interaction and allowed herself to enjoy the interaction. After all, it brought her closer to the resolution that to her was inevitable.”
As Benny ran his hands all over her, his fingers touched the scar beneath her hair where he has shot her just a little less precisely than he had meant to. He thought nothing of it. She commemorated the irony briefly before that thought was replaced by the next. When it was over, he thought he’d had the time of his life, although Evie wondered if he thought that every time. He asked to be held, which surprised her a little, and so he fell asleep in her arms. Evie felt disembodied, in a way enjoying the feeling of touching skin, calmly, non-violently. If that kind of touch had been a part of her previous life she did not know, but it certainly wasn’t a part of her life now. Yet separate from that, she did not waver from her true goal. No sympathy impaired her when she killed him in his sleep.
“Evie Belin took back what was hers with remarkably little emotion,” said the narrator. “As she shoved the body onto the floor, she allowed herself to marvel, just a little, at what she’d done. She had done what was needed.”
“That one kept me guessing,” remarked Boone as they systematically searched each storage space of the room.
“Wasn’t exactly how I’d envisioned it, but I played til the end.” she broke into a ridiculous, rare smile as she replied. They didn’t find much of value in the room. She took a couple of old articles of clothing from before the war, as a novelty. She liked to leave pre-war artifacts lying around her motel room in Novac. They took all Benny’s personal effects as a matter of principal, but there wasn’t much there.
Evie hadn’t really considered what she would do with the platinum chip once she had it. She realized that she had been motivated so far by the desire to honor her former self, to mourn in a way. When faced with the power of the chip and all its data, now hers without obstruction… It occurred to Evie that she had no idea what her former self would have done with it. Really she had just wanted a reckoning for Benny, because it seemed right, and also because he was the reason she had to wonder what her former self would have done in the first place. The robot in the back outlined again all the things she could do, who she could give power to. Evie looked at Boone. He shrugged. He didn’t care what happened, so long as the ones he hated had no place at the table. She decided to do nothing, right now.
Before they left the room, Evie did what Benny had failed to do. She checked to make sure he was dead, absolutely. She took further actions to ensure it, as a fail safe.
As they left the suite, Evie was a little surprised that there was no reaction from the other Chairmen. They hadn’t any idea that something had changed today, or they didn’t care. Evie glanced at Boone, and this time, his slightly raised eyebrow betrayed that he was, actually, a little surprised as well. Evie was feeling particularly euphoric as she waited for the return of their weapons. She also wanted to try on this black widow persona again, to see if maybe it was herself. She flirted a few bucks out of Swank, who would now come to power in Benny’s absence. After seeing how easy it was, she wondered if, in hindsight, she could have just seduced Swank instead to gain some advantage. Perhaps that would have been a less garbled path to her ends.
“But Evie Belin was not a person who let regrets stay rent free,” said the narrator. “She was satisfied with a messy victory, if it was complete.” Evie had the thought that if she was truly an experienced seductress, she likely would have made a plan utilizing that skill, rather than fumbling into it and not taking no as an answer.
Evie and Boone stepped out into the sunlight of the strip. An agent of Caesar, dressed in civilized clothes, was in their path before they got anywhere. He offered her pardon and an invitation. She considered killing him, but Boone’s eyes said not to. Here was a crevasse they could climb in, climb way down into. She admired Boone’s ability to love, in that his love lived on as a singular hatred.
“Evie Belin did not know who she had been, and repossessing the chip did not give her back what she had lost,” declared the narrator voice in Evie’s head, “But she knew what she had become. She knew that she could follow strange and treacherous courses and see them through to the end. She could do what was needed.”
Evie held back from smiling openly, but she was feeling pretty good about herself as she decided to wander down the street and check out Gomorrah. In its shadow she met a man selling holdout weapons – guaranteed to escape detection by casino security. She remembered now how she’d previously gotten a pistol into Tops. She remembered also that she had left that special pistol lying haphazardly in a pile of pre-war teddy bears in her room in Novac.
“Evie Belin was the kind of person who appreciated irony more than cleanliness.”
(This has been a dramatization of my Fallout: New Vegas character’s experience with the quest Ring-a-Ding-Ding!)