Carousel Horses


charlie_icon.gif jezebel_icon.gif

Scene Title Carousel Horses
Synopsis Two neighbors go around and around while getting nowhere.
Date February 12, 2009

The Greenbelt, Staten Island

The Greenbelt is 2800 acres of mixed urban parkland and natural preserves, winding around and between several major communities. The more natural areas are primarily a succession of ridges and boulder-littered moraines beneath the canopy of a hardwood forest — beech, hickory, maples, and oaks in the main, with a variety of less common trees mixed in. At the lower points of the parkland, this forest gives way to wetland, overgrown with ferns, skunk cabbage, lady slipper, and trout lilies. The park's boundaries include a golf course, a cemetary, a friary, a boy scout camp, and a carousel, as well as the more stereotypical nature center and a native plant demonstration garden.

Another cruddy day out on Staten Island, one of the least pleasant places to be in New York these days. The greenbelt's not very busy at this time; people like to stay inside if they can, so there's only this one guy sitting on the bench by the carousel. He's a big guy, with a bottle in his hand and a sort of forlorn look about him. The carousel has bits of snow clinging to it. The horses are mostly wrapped up in plastic, though some of the plastic has ripped to reveal painted hoofs and legs. The wrapping flaps in the breeze. It's a very sad little postcard.

Cloudy day or not, too early for most or not, Jezebel rides up to the carousel on a Harley. She parks in the parking lot, as close to the carousel as she can. Once she's got the bike parked, she begins searching the area, concentrating on places someone might curl up for shelter.

Charlie turns his head when the motorcycle pulls up; he watches Jezebel dismount with some curiosity as he takes another long swig from his bottle. Whiskey. Whiskey before noon, even. Never a good sign. Her efforts are watched with some confusion. "Miss," he calls, "What the hell are you doing?"

Jezebel starts, then looks over at Charlie. "Hi," she says pleasantly, "I'm looking for an acquaintance of mine who was on the bridge when it blew up. Have you seen him? He's about six foot, blonde, blue eyes, looks European, answers to Sergei?"

Charlie's giant forehead rumples. "…No, can't say I have. A lot of people went missing that day. He's probably dead now." Charlie nods solemnly. He looks a little sad about it, even.

Jezebel replies, "I know, but until someone finds his corpse, his friends will be pestering me about it. I'll agree his chances weren't good, even if he wasn't injured when he hit the water."

Charlie squints at her. "You're not a cop, are you?" he asks, though he keeps his bottle in plain sight and doesn't bother trying to conceal it. "Maybe you shouldn't be doing this alone."

Jezebel laughs. "Hardly. I just know enough not to ride in anything other than protective gear. I get to do a lot of things alone, whether or not I should be."

Charlie raises his bottle to his lips for another swig, looking dubious. "You're tiny. What do you do, then? Not one of the Dagger's?"

Jezebel chuckles. "What the hell is the Dagger? Believe it or not, I housesit when I'm not out searching for missing people. May I ask what you do, when you aren't worrying about housesitters?"

Charlie frowns, shifting on the bench as the plastic wrap gives a particularly loud SNAP in the wind. "Happy Dagger. Got pretty girls. Me? I don't do anything worth much." Great, sad guy drinking. "Not for a long while."

Jezebel says, "I'm sorry to hear that," and appears to be genuinely distressed. "No, I don't work at the Happy Dagger. Thanks for the explanation; now I know where to send people who are looking for pretty girls."

"You get many people coming to you for prostitutes?" Charlie rumbles, eyebrows going up.

Jezebel laughs again. "Not yet, but you never know. I'm a firm believer in plotting ahead."

Charlie reaches up to scrub his face with one gloved hand. One arm of his coat looks like it's been slashed and sewn up recently. "…Who are you?"

Jezebel smiles. "My name is Jezebel, Jez for short. Who are you? By the way, I hope that stab wound wasn't serious."

Charlie glances at his arm reflexively. "You should see the other guy," he says, dully. "Jezebel. That's a horrible name." He pauses, then adds, "Charlie."

Jezebel says, "I'm glad to hear the other guy is in worse shape, Charlie. Were you here before the bridge blew up?"

"You don't know anything about the other guy," Charlie says dryly. "You always this trusting? Yeah, I was here before the bridge blew up. I live here. You?"

Jezebel nods. "I came here a couple months ago, Charlie. I don't know whether you should call this trusting, or honest. I'm beginning to wonder if I should get off the island. The neighbors used to not be actively malevolent. The folks moving out here are."

"He was an old guy. I beat up an old man," Charlie tells Jezebel, blinking slowly. "You should probably get off the island. Good luck finding someone to take you across, 'less you've got money."

Jezebel raises her eyebrows. "I sincerely hope he was a nasty old man, or I'll have to stop thinking of you as nice. As for getting off, well, I hear there are private ferries. Perhaps they'll take payment in casseroles."

"Probably not," Charlie says dully. He looks up at her morosely. "I'm not nice, Jezebel. You should keep moving." There's a resigned air to him, a sort of grim acceptance. No wonder he drinks.

Jezebel purses her lips as she nods. "I'll take your word for it, Charlie. I still wish you well, at least for today. If you do see Sergei, please tell him his friends want to know if he's still alive."

Charlie makes a quiet, amused noise low in his throat. "I'll do that, Jezebel. Sure."

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