Monkey Business


colette_icon.gif eimi_icon.gif zain_icon.gif

Scene Title Monkey Business
Synopsis Zain's in the middle of it. Eimi's stumbling upon it. Colette's dragged into it.
Date March 2nd, 2018

Ruins of Staten Island

Outside of the Safe Zone, on Staten Island, there exists a somewhat seedier rival to the Red Hook market. Here, stores and stalls, panhandlers and thieves, can be found selling all sorts of goods, fancy and not. The smell of trash, fish, and excrement hangs is thankfully blown away by a breeze coming in from the bay and tonight the smell of it all isn't quite as bad as most days.

It is morning and most of the vendors have just opened up for the day. Every stall and shop bustling with the sort of people found most often away from the military protection that the government provides. They don't want it and some of them don't really need it. That can't be said for all.

There exists a shop, a stall to be more accurate, at the end of the row that is stuffed to gills with things in bottles filled with formaldehyde, large glass jars containing powders, and tins of creams. This is a shop dedicated to old world medicines, the kind of medicine based more on superstition than science. It sits across the road from a small venue selling a different but complementary service, a butcher of things that could be considered food, pets, or something else.

Eimi has been lurking in the shadows of the market since it opened. A few of the stalls here and there, the teenager has traded things that she's found, jewelry that was missed by other scavengers due to the particular inaccessibility of the locations, trinkets more than anything else. But it's enough to buy some food. Possibly more than enough, but she doesn't haggle much. Doesn't push her luck.

And in between this, Eimi hugs her black leather jacket tighter around her shoulders, pauses to look at the offerings of each stall she passes. Shakes her head to conversation a few times, and moves on, until one of the jars — one with eyeballs in it — catches her eye.

More than her eye, something catches her ear. English spoken in a dialect that is a criss cross between British and Pakistani belonging to a man with black and white hair in a wool coat. He seems refined and is speaking in friendly tones to the shopkeep, both are only a few feet away from where she is standing and partially obscured by the mess of bottles. Neither notice the young woman, the shopkeep is too busy giving a greedy look to the bills in his customer’s hand and the customer seeming too self involved to care who else is around.

“I’ll take that one,” he says his smile more polite than sincere as he counts the bills out and lays them down on the counter. He keeps his hands on them until a cage is brought from behind the counter and set down on it. What Eimi sees inside is someone very familiar. Jim. He is shrieking and rattling at the bars of his too small cage and baring his teeth to his new owner.

Then Eimi hears the next words….

“Do you butcher?”

Gulp. Eimi swallows hard against making any involuntary sound, and instead strolls into view as if she's just another customer, another one of the less than upstanding people shopping. And she points at the jar of eyeballs, looks to the shopkeeper as she walks over. She pretends not to have noticed Jim yet.

"What are those for." It's clearly supposed to be a question, but the girl's words have a flat affect to them. It's echoed in the flat and almost glassy expression she wears, even as she pulls her satchel closer as well. The bag is held shut with one hand, the few pieces of jewelry she has left to bargain with kept safe.

And then the monkey gets 'noticed', and a tiny light enters her expression, turning from the shopkeeper to the cage,crouching slightly to look at Jim. "Is that a real monkey? Like in a zoo!?"

“An aphrodisiac,” the shopkeep answers as he pulls the jar off the shelf and places it on the counter next to the caged animal. “And yes, it’s a real monkey.”

“A real monkey that now belongs to me,” Zain says as he moves his hand to pick up the handle at the top of the cage. He seems a little strained as he tries to lift it and then puts it back down on the counter with a bit of a frown. He tries once, twice, to lift it with both arms but Jim reaches out each time and tries to scratch him.

Eimi may be pretending not to know Jim, but he’s not pretending with her. After the last time Zain tries to pick up a cage, the little monkey reaches his arms out to Eimi and lets out a sad little mewl. There are tears forming in his beady little eyes that wet the fur around them when they spill over. The fur is drenched and it’s obvious that the monkey has been crying for longer than Eimi has witnessed. Jim is alone and Hailey is nowhere to be seen.

The shopkeep, in a bid to be helpful, offers to carry the monkey across the street to the butcher. An offer that is gladly accepted by the other man and a few more bills are flipped out and placed on the counter as a tip. “Tell the butcher, I’ll pick it up sometime after lunch,” and with that, the grey haired gentleman walks off.

"Oh look at him!" Regardless of Zain's intended fate for the monkey, Eimi is cooing over him in the meantime. Soothing, quiet sounds that are half forgotten until they're used.

The girl gets right up to the cage, humming to herself, and then looks up at Zain, over at the

shopkeeper, and like any industrious urchin, tilts her head to one side and makes a counter offer. "I'll carry him over for you." The flatness is back, and she continues, slipping two fingers inside the cage for the monkey to grab onto. Not waiting for whether her offer is accepted or refused, pretty much. "That way, you don't have to leave your shop."

The sincere offer is met with a look of slight suspicion, because the people here in the Rookery generally don’t offer to help each other out in this manner. Yet, there’s logic in the girl’s words, so the shopkeep pulls one of the bills he’s been given and lays it out on the counter for her. “Tell the butcher that Zain wants it packaged up and ready after lunch. Brains need to be kept in the skull because it’s being steamed for guests.”

When the fingers are offered, Jim uses both of his little paws to grab onto her. If it wasn’t obvious to Eimi before that he recognizes her, it is now. He’s torn between shrill squeaks, baring his teeth, and giving little monkey smiles to the girl. He’s trying to be charming, the way he was when he was with his best friend the night Eimi stayed over.

Fingers wrap around the cage, she picks it up, nods. Her other hand takes the bill from the counter. "Ready after lunch." Flat. "Brains in the skull." Flatter yet. Then there's a bright grin as Eimi starts across the street, and she says to the shopkeeper, "Thank you!"

The thanks is as bright as you would expect from a teenager, because in that few seconds, she pulls the monocular that Jim stole from her from her pocket, lifts it to her face, and both girl and monkey disappear.

First they're at the edge of the market, and Eimi looks down at Jim. "Shhhh. Just hold on tight, okay?" Another breath in gets them farther, and another and another until they're at the shore, and the next jump needs the scope again. But that one takes them across the water and onto a Bay Ridge rooftop, at which point she murmurs again to Jim. "Hold on just a little bit longer. I'm going to get you out of that cage."

She let's go of the cage but not the monkey. and teleports them a few feet to one side, and then crouched down and holds her arms out for Jim. "You're safe now," she murmurs. "Let's go find your mom, okay?"

The shout from the shopkeep is cut off as Eimi and the caged monkey disappear. What she leaves behind is a man who is quickly packing up his stall before his customer returns to either demand a refund or express his extreme disappointment. Non-verbally.

Jim doesn’t understand what Eimi says, evident with the way his little head angles as twists with each of her words but he doesn’t let go. The moment he is released from the cage though, he scrambles onto her shoulders, and clings to her neck for dear life. An eardrum shattering scream that could be fright, happiness, or just general monkey business, is sounded off near Eimi’s ear. He’s been alone for too many days and a recognizable face, no matter how horribly they met, is enough to keep him near the teleporter. At least for now.

He cheeps, coos, and roots through Eimi’s hair, looking for little bugs or grubs, the way she witnessed he did with Hailey. It’s a strange feeling of little hands lightly massaging her scalp and pulling her hair.

Eimi reaches up a hand to gently pet the monkey, and it's a careful and reassuring tone that her words take, and then she digs into a pocket and looks at an address, on a card, to set off to.

64 S. 4th Street

Williamsburg, Safe Zone

It would normally take two and a half hours, on a good day, to get from Staten Island to Williamsburg. Thankfully for Eimi, the ability to transcend distance by leaps and bounds cuts the time down to a mere twenty eight minutes. Counting breaks.

The address Eimi was supplied with some weeks ago winds up in one of the nicest areas of the Safe Zone, with refurbished buildings, recently replanted trees, and a military police checkpoint two blocks away. The three-story brownstone the card leads to is an immaculate building, likely a lucky housing lottery win, unless Colette Demsky is significantly wealthier than she led on.

Neither is true.

Inside the multi-level home, far across hardwood floors and new furnishings, Colette is set at the dining room table with a mug of coffee in one hand and a dog-eared book entitled The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. She's about halfway through, with bare feet kicked up on the chair opposite of her and the comfortable contentment of having the entire house to herself this morning.

Shhhh. That's the murmured whisper to Jim as they go, and they finally slip out of an alley and Eimi takes hurried steps up to the front of the brownstone. Knocks on the door four times in a rapid succession and looks down the street nervously, pulling her jacket closed. "Miss Colette?" the youth calls out, and knocks again.

It’s a sensation that Eimi has felt before. The sudden weight against her shoulder that seems to get heavier as Jim crouches and then vaults away. It’s been days since he’s been fed and the sight of the trees is just too much of a temptation to resist. The one he lands on is quickly stripped of a few branches as he starts munching. As much as Eimi tries to coax, the little monkey is just not ready to give up the feast.

Inside the house, Colette bolts up at the banging on the front door, but the unfamiliar voice calling out tempers her reaction. “The fuck?” She mumbles to herself, setting her book down and rising up from the table. She pads across the floor into the kitchen, then halfway to the front door before rounding about face. “Pants! Pants!” Colette hisses to herself, bare legs taking long strides into an adjoining room.

A few moments later the door unlocks, and Eimi is greeted by a far more casual Colette than the one she'd seen before. Her dress shirt is hastily buttoned, loose jeans are patched and well-worn. Bare feet curl against a small welcome mat just inside the doorway and her hair is the definition of disheveled.

“Uh.” Then, blind eyes light with recognition. “Teleporter?” Colette can't remember her name. “You… ok?”

Eimi hisses at Jim and nods to the first question, shakes her head halfway to the second, and says, "I think I… just a second." The flatness is barely there, a hint of it still this time from shock and adrenaline. "But first I need to get Jim." There's a pause, and she adds, "The monkey. And… um. Inside. I'll explain inside?"

She's out of breath, a little shaken, but she pops over to the tree where Jim is. The branch where Jim is, or one close enough to support her weight. Looks at it, and grabs a bunch of leaves and the monkey, pretty much scooping him up with the leaves held out as temptation. "Look, shhhh. Jim, c'mon you brat." The tone is kind this time, not angry with him. Once she has the monkey, she teleports quickly back to Colette's doorstep and looks at the woman.

"I think I might need some help…" It trails off, and Eimi hastily adds. "I'm sorry. I didn't know anywhere else to go."

The monkey is reluctant to leave the tree and its branches, upon which he is happily snacking, but he is yanked away. Once at the door, Jim shrieks at the stranger and bares his teeth, leaping away from Eimi and onto the top of the closest high surface. Crawling close to the ceiling, he finds a spot and crouches like a statue, carefully watching the owner of the house he’s currently in.

“No— no!” Colette tries to protest, but soon there is a monkey darting between here and the doorway and clambering up on top of a shelf in the foyer. “Oh what the fuck, what the fuck!?” Colette, leaving the door open, hurried over to the monkey, trying to shoo it off of the bookshelf.

Why did you let a monkey into the house!?” Colette practically screams as she waves her arms, trying to spook the thing back outside. Then, even more helplessly she cries, “Why do you even have a monkey!?

"Jim!" Eimi doesn't quite shout at the monkey, but she does step inside, and close the door behind her. "The monkey belongs to a… someone else I know. Hailey. She…"

There is a pause and she continues, "I think Hailey's ability has to do with animals. The monkey. Jim is her friend." And then comes the kicker, and a bit of atonality slips into her voice, almost a reverse sort of emphasis. "I just stole him back from the Staten Island market. He was in a cage."

"Being sold. Something," Eimi doesn't need to say bad. Her tone of voice and mannerism, the fact that now that she's inside she has sunk to a crouch leaning on the door and she's shaking like a leaf, says it already, "happened to Hailey."

She pauses, and glances at the leaves she's holding, and then at Colette, and then makes a clicking noise at Jim and offers the leaves to him, up near her shoulder although she doesn't move from the door, doesn't manage to stop shaking.The adrenaline has worn off, it seems. "I'm. I'm sorry, Miss Colette. I don't know how to find Hailey. Or even where to start."

The only response Colette receives from Jim is a silent, open mouthed display of fangs and teeth. Eimi doesn’t fare much better than Colette does because Jim’s reaction to the teleporter’s calls is doubling down on his claim. Once he’s secure in his position, he does what monkeys do… he finds entertainment for himself. Unfortunately for Colette, Tamara, and Tasha, this means trying gloves on his head and nestling into scarves.

(Ooc sorry about the fleas ;D)

Eimi’s explanation is lost on Colette as she frantically tries to corral a monkey who has zero desire to be corralled or possibly be in an apartment. Scowling, Colette rushes for where a broom rests by the doorway into the kitchen and returns, brandishing it at the pest. “Down! Down!”

She looks back over her shoulder at Eimi and is red-faced in frustration. “Who— the hell is Hailey!?” Colette whips back around, smacking the broom around where an honest-to-god monkey is somehow in her home. After a moment of fruitless broom slapping she raises one hand and a flickering ball of light hovers in front of her palm.

Get. Down.” Colette hesitates, arm tense, she isn't sure she wants to do whatever is it's she's about to do, but there is a monkey and nothing makes any sense.

Who’s Hailey.

Hailey's footprints, now visible thanks to Colette's halo of artificial light, aren't the only tracks in the snow. Someone else came through here recently. Someone with paws the size of teacup saucers.

From the shakiness of the voice, it's likely the young girl is cold— after all, it is hell frozen over out here, no matter how bundled people might be. "I— I'm— dd— down— nn he—ere," the small voice says, carrying over the cliff overlooking the cemetary. "Iii fffff-fell."

There's a small speck visible on a ledge about forty feet down the cliffface, not moving, except for the wind that whips the hood around. A blonde curl of hair peeks out, identifying the girl as Hailey, if the size and weight didn't already do that.

"Iiii m grogroundeded arrrnt I?"

The light in Colette’s palm goes out like a blown light bulb. Her posture relaxes, expression sinks, and she slowly turns to look back at Eimi. Now, Colette looks both confused and emotional “Hailey— Gerkin? About your age? Talks to animals?”

The coincidence seems impossible, and yet Colette’s entire life is predicated on coincidences.

Right about when the question is asked and Colette looks at Eimi, the last of the adrenaline mrush wearing off kicks in, and Eimi teleports herself down the foyer to where there's a small trashcan. It's the sort of thing where most anyone else would have run or sprinted, by how hurried the rest of the motions seem. The teen proceeds to lose the contents of her earlier breakfast followed by a few dry heaves.

"Yes," she says, still crouching. Eimi points up at Jim. "Her monkey."

Another pause. "She'd never," the emphasis is once again a flatter tone of voice than the rest of the sentence, "have let that happen," Eimi's only met Hailey the once but that much is clear, "something had to have…" The last bit trails off and Eimi leans back against the wall, and asks Colette, "Do… do you have any water?"

Jim screams at Colette the entire time the broom is being brandished. He paces back and forth, looking like a rooster with a limp knit glove on his head. As Colette turns her head, he leaps from the shelf and grabs a hold of the broomstick, riding it around like a denizen of Oz, except without the wings.

Words are generally hard for a little monkey like Jim, especially when they’re not being spoken by his best friend. They get jumbled and confusing but a word he can pick out is Hailey, they keep saying it. When Eimi poofs away, he slides down the broom and loops his arms around Colette’s neck, his screaming turning to little chirps and whimpers.

All of Colette’s anger boils down when the situation comes into improbably clarity. It threatens to come back to the surface when the monkey takes the broom handle in hand, but as soon as the poor thing calms down and climbs on her she exhales a resigned sigh and just sort of cradles a monkey.

“One second,” Colette briskly offers to Eimi as she's getting sick in the trash. A calming breath is drawn in and exhaled slowly, and Colette tracks through the doorway into the kitchen on bare feet. She stops at the refrigerator, opening it to find a bushel of bananas in front of the bottled water.

Colette stares.

“Of course.” Colette states flatly, snapping one banana off of the bushel before grabbing a water bottle with a crinkle of plastic. She offers the banana up to Jim. “I think she got these for you,” has a warm tone to it, and when Colette shuts the refrigerator door she's briskly making her way back to Eimi’s side.

Crouching down by Eimi’s side, Colette opens the water bottle for her and offers it out. “Hailey is a strong kid. I knew her when she was just a little thing, and she was tough then. I'm sure she's ok.” She's not, but it's a kind thing to say.

“Take a minute, catch your breath.” Colette lifts up a hand to rest on Eimi’s shoulder after handing off the water. “Are you ok?” Genuine concern there, along with a gentle squeeze of Eimi’s shoulder.

The water bottle is taken, opened, a small and careful sip taken, and then eventually she nods."I think," she says. "It just caught up with me."

The next breath in is less shaky, the hand on her shoulder doesn't make her flinch, and the teenager nods again. "I… I teleported straight through and out of the market on Staten Island," she says, and follows that with, "That was probably dumb." But she reaches over to pet Jim on the top of the head, gently. "But I couldn't leave him there. Not. Not with…"

She just can't quite bring herself to say aloud what the monkey's fate would have been. Instead, she asks Colette, "Do you know how to find Hailey?"

Jim lays flat on his back in Colette’s arms like a little baby, with his tummy poking out and his legs and arms all over the place. One of those places is a finger attempting to poke into Colette’s nostril. That’s before the banana is offered. The sight of the piece of fruit seems to confuse him at first, but he takes it and turns it over in his little hands. Then he bends it and breaks it in half, well almost in half, the stringy peel comes away in strands and not quite evenly.

Still, some is offered back to Colette by way of squishing the white of the fruit under her chin. The other half dangles between his teeth as he gnaws it idly, Jim is much more interested in continuing to prod the first half against Colette’s face. Sharing is caring.

Lips pressed shut and nose wrinkled, Colette turns her face away from the proffered banana being brandished by the monkey she is cradling. “I— haven't seen Hailey in almost ten years. I didn't even know she was…” alive “in New York. I… Do you know anyone she hangs out with? Where she lives?”

Question only hanging in the air for a moment, Colette eyes Eimi and then makes a noise in the back of her throat. “I can always try calling Gillian… maybe she'd know?” Is said more to herself than Eimi.

Then, back to Eimi more clearly. “You're sure you're ok? Staten Island is an awful pile of shit. You shouldn't go there. Ever.”

Another few deep breaths, and Eimi looks not quite at Colette but past her, and nods again. "I was… trading things I'd found. But I won't go back there." It doesn't even sound like she's lying, or saying it to appease Colette. "I don't usually steal from people who would just as soon…" There's a point where it crosses from risky and somewhat thrill seeking but at the baseline survival behaviour into downright dangerous, and Eimi crossed that this morning; and it's not sitting well.

"I… I don't have papers. I can't stay inside the safe zone too long." That's added, as an afterthought, the words quieter before she continues. "She also hangs out with a horse she calls Dayton." That's helpful, clearly. Calling would probably be a better plan. "I think she lives at the zoo. In the ruins."

This is further considered, and Eimi takes another few sips of water. "She let me stay overnight there a few weeks back when I'd stayed out too close to dark."

Once his half of the banana is finished, along with half of the sour peel. Jim shifts from his little bed of arm and crawls up around Colette’s neck to sit on her shoulders. The half she didn’t finish is unceremoniously dropped to the floor for her to clean up later. Then he starts rooting through her hair with his little banana fingers, looking for mites, grubs, or whatever yummy delights Colette might keep in there. If he was a clean monkey, it might feel good, but he’s been starved for nearly a week and he’s due for a bath something fierce.

There was a thought, a reaction, to Hailey living in the Bronx in a Zoo but whatever was about to come out of Colette’s mouth ends when the banana hits the floor, and then monkey-fingers come up into her hair. “No, no— ” Fitfully, Colette wrestles a bit with Jim, hoisting him under-armed like a misbehaving toddler, and then deposits him beside Eimi and spreads her hands in a please stay gesture.

Disgustedly, Colette picks banana slop out of dark hair as she recomposes her thoughts, padding into the kitchen on bare feet as she does. “You’re safe now, and… we’ll figure out what’s going on with Hailey.” Preferably soon, because there’s a monkey. A cabinet clunks twice when she’s out of sight, and Colette circles back around with a roll of paper towels and a spray bottle. She takes a knee, wiping up the banana mess and scooping the rest into a paper towel before spraying down the hardwood floor and scrubbing again.

“You look burned out,” Colette admits, not having actually made eye-contact with Eimi for a while, though at the same time not seeming disinterested. “Mild fatigue, probably— ” she clicks her tongue, standing upright. “I’ll be right back.” Then, once more, she circles just out of sight for a moment. This time, cabinets clunk, something rattles, and plastic crinkles. When she comes back in, Colette sits down on the floor beside Eimi and crosses her legs.

“This,” Colette says, offering out a pair of aspirin, “then this,” the other hand has a protein bar. As those are handed out, Colette untucks a cell phone from her pocket. “I’ve got a friend, Gillian. Her brother helped raise all of the kids Hailey grew up with. I’m figuring she’ll know where to find Hailey if she knew she was in New York… and I can’t imagine she wouldn’t.” She hopes, anyway.

Trust is not an expression that usually comes easily to the teenager, but as Colette speaks, that's the spark that lights Eimi's eyes for a brief moment, and she nods at the reassurance. From Colette, for whatever reason, she believes it.

"I'm… tired," she admits in return. And scared, but she doesn't say that part aloud. The aspirin is taken, with the last bit of water left, and then packaging of th protein bar is fumbled with until she can get it unwrapped. The girl seems to have burned out her scarce supply of words now that safety has sunk in, because she simply takes small bites of the protein bar and reaches over to idly pet Jim if the monkey will let her.

Eimi is allowed a few pets and scratches on the head, but his eyes are on something else. He jumps from his spot and grabs the empty water bottle. Biting and gnawing at the plastic to get the last few drops of what was inside. Frustrated at his lack of success, the monkey shrieks loudly and throws the empty bottle at Eimi, seemingly angry at her lack of sharing. Then he’s gone again… a few bounds around the room and then he turns a corner and he’s out of sight. There’s a crash, as he knocks over something and by the sounds of it, it’s obvious he’s headed upstairs.

Seething, Colette rises from the floor to stand. “One moment.” She treads across the foyer and hustles up the stairs after the monkey. Colette is only gone for a few moments, but in that time there's shrieking, scurrying, and then a bright flash of light from upstairs followed by a seething strobe of blinding white light.

Then a soft thump.

Then a creak.

Then a slam.

Then a dragging sound.

Colette comes back downstairs with a scratch on her cheek and a furious look in her eyes. “He's fine,” is her overly fast reassurance. “In a trunk. Upstairs.”

She has her phone in the other hand, up to her ear, expression flat. “You— rest. I'm…” Colette closes her eyes and breathes in deeply.

“I'm calling Gillian."

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