Alone and Not Alone


arlo_icon.gif hailey_icon.gif tania_icon.gif

Scene Title Alone and Not Alone
Synopsis The Memorial Wall brings three people together; the youngest of them seeks help in finding what she's lost.
Date February 24, 2018

Memorial Wall

What began, during the onset of the civil war, as a site of missing persons flyers soon swelled into a sprawling memorial for the dead and forgotten. Starting in 2011, local residents of then Jamaica Bay banded together to create a public space to mark those missing in the November 8, 2011 riots. As the riots swelled and more and more people disappeared, the wall's photographs and memorials grew. Soon, the dockside wall came to encompass the entire pier space. As riots turned to civil war and residents fled Manhattan, the memorial wall became a popular gathering space for Brooklyn residents looking to reconnect with lost family members and friends, or for those looking to mourn their passing. Eventually, the area became too dangerous, and the wall was abandoned when Brooklyn was.

When the Safe Zone was founded, the memorial wall was discovered to have largely survived the passage of time. Workers and Safe Zone residents have rebuilt damaged portions of the wall and continued adding photographs of missing and deceased. Candlelight vigils are held annually on anniversaries of the riots and the war's conclusion in addition to smaller personal memorial ceremonies. Photographs of civil war heroes lost in the fighting were added to the wall in 2016, and in late 2016 a Virginia senator commissioned a statue of Emile Danko commemorated as a war hero to be placed on the memorial grounds. The statue was constructed and set up on the night of September 7th, 2016. Vandals eventually tore the statue from its pedestal and dragged it into the harbor, where it now sits half submerged in the marshland surrounding the harbor.

The memorial wall is a four-hundred foot long span of boardwalk following the pylons of a taller pier set along the coast of Ferrymen's bay at the end of W 18th Road off of Cross Bay Blvd. The makeshift wall, once used for community notices, covers this span and is adorned with thousands of photographs, keepsakes, and other memorial items. Candles, flowers, and notes are often left at the base of the wall.

The late February day is a cold and gray one, but at least no snow is falling; the snow on the ground near the Memorial Wall is mostly flattened by dozens of footprints since the last fresh snow; patches of earth can be seen here and there, where boots have worn it thin.

It's not that uncommon for people to sit and reflect here, though it's a bit more uncommon in February than other times in the year. It's cold, for one. But one tall and lanky man has set out an thick stadium blanket and sits on it, his long legs folded up like a pretzel. A large duffel bag sits on one side of him; a large mongrel dog with red-and-black mottled fur sits on the other. He appears to be meditating, one hand, in fingerless gloves, on each knee and his eyes closed. His clothing, not quite warm enough, comes in layers — an army style jacket, a turtle neck beneath that, a long pink and purple scarf, a Boston Bruins ski cap. Clearly he makes due with what he's found or been given.

The dog rests her face on her paws and heaves a sigh. This is boring.

Arm in a sling, a young blonde woman wanders toward the wall looking distinctly lost. Hailey hasn't been to this particular area before and since arguing her way out of the hospital, she's quietly accepted the fact that she will need some help for a little while. Hence, her agreement to stay in the Safe Zone and under Gillian's care for at least a few days. Though, since her release, her worries have turned to anxiety.

She has responsibilities on the outside, ones that haven't been tended to in at least two days. There are missing friends that she needs to find. On the brighter note, she can feel the multitude of rats that populate the city and right now a very bored dog.

Hailey walks straight up to the dog and crouches down beside her, reaching out her good hand to scratch the brindle beast behind the ears. The dog can feel the sadness that eminates from the young woman and in turn, she can't help the tears that well in her eyes and spill over in large drops. But, for the benefit of the dog's companion, that very large man, she manages a quivering chin smile. "She's beautiful," the young animal empath chokes out, "what's her name?"

Everyone in New York has someone to mourn at the wall. Whether they choose to or not. February is the perfect time for some people to do so, people who don't like a crowd. And Tania is one such person. She's in layers, too, the topmost being a coat that is most certainly a man's. But maybe she's getting by on what she finds, too. At least it was meant for a slim man, so it doesn't hang too big on her.

She comes to a stop near the man and his dog, but seeing him in meditation, she doesn't get too close. A gloved hand lifts some papers and pictures, her own tribute buried under layers and layers of others. But seeing it still there, she seems to relax some.

And then Hailey speaks. Tania looks over at her, taking in the arm and the tears with a frown. That's enough to get her to come over that way. "What's wrong?" she asks, her brow furrowed, "Do you need help?"

Steel-blue eyes open, and the man smiles at the query, crows feet appearing on his weathered face. "That's My Girl Friday, but you can call her Friday for short," he says, a low voice with a bit of a southern drawl to it. His eyes study the girl, looking at the sling and then the tears. Tania's approach and offer for help earns her a smile as well.

"It's okay," he says to Hailey, "you can cry here. It's a good place for it. I do it often." He studies her for a moment, his brow furrowing. He doesn't offer help. "She likes her ears scratched best," he says, instead. His eyes move to the board, studying the various photos, signs, and tokens there. "If you need the space to be alone, let me know. I'm not rooted anywhere, least of all to this ground."

Tania's kindness is something that Hailey just doesn't expect, not in there, even though most people haven't given her cause to mistrust yet. There's always the registration which she still feels might not be completely voluntary. Looking up from her crouched position, Hailey sniffles and shrugs her shoulders. She focuses on Friday when she speaks to all three of them. "I want to go home," she says her broken and cracked voice mimicking her feelings and general countenance. "My friends are lost and one of them can't take care of himself."

Jim is the one she's most worried about. The little monkey that just doesn't know when to quit or hide. Hailey's desparation are transferred to Friday who manifests them into a high pitched and repetitive whine. That is exactly how Hailey would do it, if she could. And the dog receives a one armed hug tightly around the neck as the blonde quietly weeps into the canine's fur.

"I'm sorry to interrupt you," Tania says to Arlo, perhaps a little overly formal. But she still has a Russian accent, so maybe she's still learning the language. But she returns his smile before she looks back to Hailey. "Where's home? Are you lost?" Must be new to the area. When she mentions her lost friends, Tania's expression becomes more worried. "Do you remember where you saw them last?"

Arlo cocks his head from girl to dog and back, squinting a little bit. "Truth is, all of us are a bit lost. Even old guys like me," he says in a conspiratorial sort of whisper, before he turns to shake his head at Tania. "This both is and isn't a place for solitude. We come here because we feel alone, because we've lost someone and feel lost without them. So we come to make that connection the only way we can, sometimes. So we are both alone and not alone at once, with the ghosts of the past and with also the memories of the people who came to visit them," he says, with a nod to the memorial wall. "I never feel sad here, even if it's a normal thing to feel. I feel the love and the endlessness of it."

His smile might be described as beatific. "You cannot interrupt endlessness."

He quiets again to let the younger girl answer the young woman's, one hand moving to Friday's head to soothe her.

"The Bronx," Hailey replies simply, to all of it. Home, where she last saw them, if she's lost. She turns her head away from the looks she knows she's going to get. The ones that exude disdain and disapproval for her choices. So she steels herself against them by avoiding their eyes and concentrating on the dog.

The whining though, it's only then that Hailey realizes that she's causing the animal to suffer needlessly. So she lets go of Friday and pulls back a little, using her hand to wipe the tears off her face. She drags in a long sniffle, and everything that comes with it, before tucking her hand back into her pocket.

As Arlo speaks, Tania's gaze drifts over to him. To give him an odd look. She does her best not to, but his philosophy is a little out there for her. So she doesn't comment, just nods to him and turns her attention back to Hailey.

"So you have reason to worry," she states. All in all, Arlo's talk about endlessness got more eyeing than Hailey hanging out in the Bronx. "And you can't go out there because of your arm." Settling back on her heels, Tania folds her arms a little. "Tell me about your friends. Names, what they look like. Maybe we can ask someone to look around." Hailey certainly isn't the only person who goes out there, although Tania does not look like the sort of person who does.

If he notices the odd look from Tania, Arlo doesn't seem to mind. He's still sitting in that lotus position, though it looks less meditative now. "I go everywhere. I can help look. Are they lost, or are you just separated? Sometimes we think something is lost when really it's just finding its own path… it simply isn't the same path as ours anymore, little miss. But I'll keep a look out, just the same. Are they together, at least, your friends?"

As he speaks, somewhere at the back of the mind of both Tania and Hailey flickers something — just an image, really, no place they've been before, but a place that feels homey and safe. — a living room with a wall to ceiling bookshelf full of books. A fire place with a crackling fire. A cat curled on on the hearth. The feelings connected with that place come with it: Warmth. Security. Shelter.

It's only there for a moment. Like a quick squeeze of the shoulders, before it fades.

Hailey don't know much about philosophy~ but the image of the crackling fire and cat give her enough comfort that she feels a little better about her hopeless situation. So very Hygge. So she opens up to the strangers, ones that she feels won't turn a semi-automatic rifle on her friends. "Jim…" she says quietly, "I don't know if he'll come to you if you call him though, he can be stubborn. He's a bit scatterbrained too. I'm really worried about him because there's no trees where I last saw him and I'm scared he's starving."

The desparately anxious feeling she's been carrying around threatens to creep back in but that niggling thought at the back of her mind holds it at bay. "And Dayton…" she adds on, "I'm not as worried about him because he knows the way home. Horses always know the way home." That's right, her friends aren't human. "I have three reindeer too, they've been left out in their pasture for too long. The wolves, they come out at night and I'm scared for the fawn because it doesn't get put inside." Her worries are very real. At least to her.

Tania runs her hand through her hair, swooping it off to one side. She puts it together just before the horse is mentioned, that Hailey's friends are not human friends. She doesn't know much about animals, only having had a cat when she was younger and living with her old roomate's dogs for a time. But she didn't actually take care of either of them.

The image, that feeling that comes with it, gets a sigh from Tania, probably without her really understanding why. And since she seems at a loss on how to help Hailey, she looks over at Arlo. "What do you think?"

"Hm. Trees, you say?" Arlo guesses, and then Tania looks to him for his thoughts on the matter. "Animals are resourceful things. Jim's probably all right, even if he's a bit scatterbrained. Even if there are no trees where you saw him last, he'll probably find his way to something soon enough. They have senses we don't — where to find water, where to find food. Had a house once where you never heard or saw any birds until one day my neighbor put out a bird feeder. Suddenly there were dozens of birds in their yard and ours. How they saw it when I never saw them flying by, I don't know, but they definitely told all their friends about it, like it was a BOGO sale on tacos."

He stands, wincing a little as his joints crack — it's far too cold to keep those long legs folded up for so long. "You got any tricks to get Jim to come to you, even if he's scared? I can head that way later on today. I wasn't sure on my path when I got up today, but that may be because I hadn't met you yet, little miss."

There's a flood of relief that passes through Hailey and (inadvertently) into Friday, who thumps her tail on the ground. The expression on her face is nothing sort of gratitude and elation as she looks between her two new friends. "I can come, I just can't go alone," she says quickly, because of a distinct fear of what got her into this mess in the first place. "If I'm around Jim, I can feel him and he'll feel me too. Then he'll just come to me. Same with Dayton and…" Pretty much any of her friends that she's actually tamed. The rest? They do what they do, they come or they don't.

Pointing to the northeast, she adds on, "The zoo is about three hours walk that way. That's where Dayton would go." Apparently where home is. "We were about an hour? Hour and a half? walk away when…" She wrinkles her nose and glances down at her shoulder. "When this happened."

This conversation that is suddenly happening around her has Tania frowning. Not because she disapproves, but because she's not entirely sure what part she's supposed to be playing in it. "Three hour walk?" she ends up asking. And then, she looks to Arlo, "Will you be able to get her back?" Back here, to the Safe Zone, to whoever is taking care of her arm.

She looks down to Friday, then, lifting an eyebrow at the dog. "You'll have to look out for them," she says to her, although it is certainly not actually meant for the dog. "Let me give you my number," she says to Hailey, "maybe you can give me a call and let me know how it turns out." And check in, maybe.

Arlo looks in that direction and shakes his head. "I'm not sure that's a good idea. People don't really take well to homeless old dudes like me walking around with the young and impressionable, little miss." Friday's gotten up as well, and the dog must be at least ninety pounds, and not because she's fat — she's just a large beastie. Arlo schools the blanket up, rolling it and then wrapping a bungee cord around it and his nearby backpack.

"It's illegal for you to be out there. Where do you stay when you're here? They might be worried about you. I'm not opposed to adventure, but sometimes what starts off as adventure turns into Arlo here getting arrested for alleged kidnapping, and let me tell you that's not fun when you didn't do anything wrong, my young friend." He glances at the dog. "And Friday needs me."

The hope that fills Hailey quickly fades when her two friends drop out of the expedition, one right after the other. Regardless, the number is greatfully accepted and a weak smile delivered to the two before she tucks it into her pocket. "It's okay, I'll.." spend one more day without knowing, sit by the window and stare at nothing. "..go by myself." Even though she just said she couldn't.

Turning to the large man, she looks up and nods once. "You're right, she does need you," she reaches out to give Friday another scratch behind the ears that turns to a scratch under the chin. "She'd be as lost without I am without Jim." Not unable to take care of herself, just forlorn and lonely and without the purpose having a best friend brings a person. "Thanks anyway."

Looking over Arlo again, Tania considers his point of view for a moment, but since he's right that it would look bad, she concedes with a sigh. "Yes, let's not get anyone arrested." He's been nice, after all. She wouldn't wish any ill on him.

"Instead, let me take you back to where you're staying. He's right that animals have good instincts. And if you go alone, you might get hurt worse and then where would your friends be?" Tania looks over at Arlo after, maybe needing his opinion on this option, too. At least, her head tilts questioningly. "And maybe we can get you and Friday something to eat?" The homeless part is a little worrisome.

"You shouldn't go by yourself, either," Arlo says, reaching up to rub his head, which displaces the cap on it; he takes his off, and rubs his bald head, before settling the cap back on. He frowns deeply, glancing from Hailey to the direction she'd pointed, and back down again. Like he's being torn by indecision.

Tania's words draw his attention that way. "That is a good idea," he says, with a nod, as he pulls the backpack over his shoulders. "And… no, thank you. I have food for Friday, and I can find something for myself when the time comes. You're much too kind. Both of you." He brings his hands together and nods, a little show of gratitude for the offer.

Looking down at the ground, Hailey toes the cement for a moment before nodding in quiet agreement. Fine. She's resolved though and with a flit of her eyes, she's staring northeast with a far away look. She'll slip away sometime, today or tomorrow. At the very least to find Jim, maybe Dayton, make sure the cage is sealed against the wolves for the reindeer. She's sure it is but company could have stopped by.

"Alright," is a small pathetic little word that's voiced in response to the two of them. It'll do.

"Not at all," Tania says to Arlo's words. She doesn't seem to think the offer is much of anyting to get thanks for. "I hope to see you again," she says with a smile in his direction. He's odd. Odd isn't necessarily bad. But when Hailey agrees, Tania moves to put a hand on her back. "You lead the way. I'll follow," she says. The two of them start off, leaving the wall, the dog, and the man behind them. At least Tania knows where everything is in the Safe Zone.

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