Can't Find No Heaven


cardinal_icon.gif Smedley_icon.gif

Scene Title Can't Find No Heaven
Synopsis A brief meeting of sometime business associates over beer and whiskey.
Date February 15, 2009

The Angry Pelican

A stone's throw away from the little makeshift harbor on the foreshore of the Arthur Kill river is this little even more makeshift bar. Little more than a shack, the interior barely fits more than its own stock of alcohol and kitchenware, and the seating spaces are outdoors under a rickety wooden cover decorated with fishing paraphernalia and nets. The chairs and tables are broken down cheap things that look like they've been scavenged from all over the place, mismatched but comfortable with some cushions or blankets thrown over them. The ground is sandy and dirty, as if the beach extends right under your feet, and despite being outdoors, the place is cluttered. Simple alcohol is provided - whiskeys, rums, and beers - without a chance of food, and you'll mostly find yourself in the company of thieves, considering the kinds of boats that dock here.

Some may find it difficult to call any of the regulars or residents of Staten Island and its various business religious in any way while keeping respect for the word and all its connotations, but be that as it may, the Angry Pelican isn't exactly a hoppin' place come Sunday evening. Sure, the owner doesn't pay attention to laws that may prohibit him from selling his wares on a day deemed holy, but even so, the portside bar is all but bare. Maybe that's why the dog was allowed inside. Or maybe that has something to do with the sort of man said dog's owner is.

Sitting at a corner table, Wes Smedley is as content as any man could care to be. Carson, the aforementioned mutt, lies blissfully at his feet, loosing the battle against sleep while his master plucks away at a guitar that looks as worn yet well-cared for as the clothes the man wears. Smedley's humming as he plays the old blues standard, half-singing the words as they're called for by the tune.

"Hard time here and everywhere you go. Times is harder than ever been before."

The bartender listens, letting his rag move in a rhythmic circle in time with the music. Half a bottle of whiskey and a shot glass sit at Smedley's table, but it's hard to say how long it's taken him to work it down that far.

"And the people are driftin' from door to door. Can't find no heaven, I don't care where they go."

There's no heaven to be found, not here on Staten Island—at least none that Richard Cardinal's ever seen. There's a variety of hells available for the right price, however, this being one of them. The man's boots scuffle over the sand-drenched boards as he walks along beneath the fishnet-shadows of the establishment, if it can even be called that, the collar of his jacket flipped up against either identification or the wind. Or possibly both.

It's up to the bar proper that he bellies up, sliding himself onto one of the rickety stools and leaning forward against an arm. "Just gimme a beer," he asks of the bartender, a faint smile gracing his lips.

The JustaBeer brand is a popular one at the Pelican, and Cardinal soon finds a label-less brown bottle before him. It's hard to tell if it fell off the back of a truck or a boat, or if it was brewed locally in a bucket somewhere. Regardless, it serves its purpose without frills. It's just a beer.

The tune remains the same, but when Smedley looks up and sees the familiar coat and back-of-head, he can't help but grin. The smell tickles Carson's nose as well, and though he doesn't life his head, he opens his eyes. The words alter then, just slightly, though if one weren't listening too closely, they may never know.

"Hear me tell you Card'nal, just before I go: these hard times will kill you just dry long so."

It holds beer, which is better than can be said of some glasses elsewhere. The cap's twisted off easily, and Cardinal flicks the slightly bent metal disc over to clatter into a pail set beside the bar for just such an occasion. The bottle's lifted up, but as the song carries with a twist of its words, the mouth pauses before his lips.

The man turns his head a bit, a smirk twitching itself up at one corner of his lips, and then he pushes off from the counter—turning to casually stroll along over towards the other man's table, observing in a dry drawl of voice, "These times'd kill anyone anywhere, Wes."

"Ain't that the truth, Richard," Smedley answers with an easy, lazy sort of grin, his fingers continuing to pull the gentle and slightly serene tune from the instrument. "Ain't that the blessed truth." The song is polished off with a bit of improvisation, and then the smuggler sets the guitar off to the side, leaning the neck up against the edge of the table so that he can pour himself another shot of whiskey.

"Still." Smedley raises his glass with a tilt of his head. "Times like these have their merits." The whiskey is slammed back after a nod, and the older man leans back in his chair. "How's the trade?"

"Oh, goes, goes, got a few leads I'm following up on… ran into some trouble last week, but nothing I couldn't handle," Cardinal admits as he claims a chair with neither shame nor hesitation, settling into it with a low creak of cheaply-nailed joints. The man leans forward, arm folded on the table's edge, and he tilts the bottle in his hand towards the other man with a wry half-smile, "How's your own? Hear the pirates've been gettin' bold."

"Well, they're just bein' a mite opportunistic is all." Smedley's smile cracks into a grin once more. "Can you blame 'em, the way the law's bein'? Wavin' a white flag as big's your grandma's nickers toward our little scratch here. You know how those Narrow's boys like to celebrate."

"More's the fool, them," Cardinal's head shakes just a bit, a wry smile tugging up at one corner of his lips, "Rats might swarm 'round a bag of rice in the dark, but sooner or later the lamp turns back on… and then the broom comes down. Best to steal a few grains and carry 'em off, in my opinion." The opinion offered, he brings the bottle up to take a swallow, letting the cheap beer spill down and into his belly.

"Hey, speakin' of" A lift of the bottle's base his way, a brow lifting, "any chance you seen a periwinkle-coloured van drivin' around like some big fairy parade float?"

"Periwinkle?" Smedley's face is oddly serious for a moment, all squinted eyes and down-turned lips, but it soon breaks into a laugh that's loud enough to pull Carson's head from the floor to see if everything is alright. "You need to find yourself a better mag than those catalogs, Rich. They're gettin' to'ya. Periwinkle."

"I swear on my sainted mother's grave," Richard replies with a low, rough chuckle, one hand raising palm forward as if he were swearing on the bible—shoulders shaking a bit, "Periwinkle. There's a whole bunch've people looking for th'fucking thing too, not that I know how the hell they could hide something like this…"

"I'm sure that if you had a periwinkle van and were some kind'uh respectful individual, you'd find a way to hide it." Smedley's laugh continues even as he pours himself another shot and then offers the bottle across the table. He bites at his lip a bit, shaking his head as he makes a mental note. Half of a man's business in a place like this is knowing what's goin' on and what other people are wanting to know. "But if there's a whole bunch already on the scent, how come you're baying about?"

"Eh," Cardinal lifts one shoulder in a bit've a shrug, "One of my contacts asked me to keep an eye out, s'all, not any big deal to me. If whoever has it has good taste, they've repainted th'fucking thing— or sunk it into the harbor." At the offer, he sets down his beer and reaches over for the whiskey, grinning, "I know I would."

Smedley's response is a snort of a chuckle and a nod before he tips back the shot. "Let's us hope that them who have such a task ahead of 'em do it right fast. S'an embarrassment." The color or the questions, Smedley isn't specific. "Though I guess if you wanted to distinguish yourself from all the drab sort of haulers the rest of us have a tendency to use, periwinkle'd be just as good as any other color. People'd think you were a laundry business."

"You could ward off undue attention because nobody would want t'look at your van," Cardinal observes with a rough chuckle, tilting the bottle back to take a swallow thereof— eyes closed as it burns down, offering it back over. "Mnm." A fist pounds the table briefly, "Smooth— " A cough, and his eyes open, "So how's your business, eh?"

The bottle taken, Smedley let's it and his own throat rest for a spell. "Well, I'm enjoyin' that bit of time where my wallet slowly empties as my belly and bed fill up. Though I'm lookin' - always lookin' - for more work. Ain't chasin' down vans though, so don't you rope me int' that racket." The latter is said with a smirk that bears witness to how full that bottle might have been when Smedley sat down.

At that, Cardinal grins— pushing off from the table, he leans back with a creak of the chair's legs once more, tilting the foreward feet off the table a bit. "Ah, wouldn't think've it. You see it, though, lemme know, eh? Once you've scrubbed your eyes of the sight— mm, not sure if I know anybody that needs your sort've work right now, sadly."

Smedley laughs again, his whole face scrunching as it comes up slow and deep. "Lookit'choo, Rich. Everybody's needin' my kind'a work. They just don't know it till I come a'knockin' with that little sumthin' they find they can't live without." Smugglers are the salesman's ugly cousin. Smedley lifts a hand to offer to his colleague and nods his head again. "It was good seein' you, Card'nal. Take care on that killin' floor now."

"You too, man…" Cardinal chuckles just a bit, his head shaking a little, "An' if you happen to see that little sumthin' but they're not selling, well, you know where to find me, Wes. Just a bit to the left, east of Eden…" The bottle's tilted back, and he finishes off the last of the Justabeer, thumping the emptied vessel back on the table and reaching out to clasp the offered hand firmly, "Watch yourself out there."

February 15th: One For The Money, Two For The Show
February 15th: Disastrous Night Out
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License