Scene Title Doghouse
Synopsis Bolivar's secret investigation of Staten Island finally leads him to his long lost dog, Apple. This log is kind of about that.
Date September 3, 2009

Staten Island: Coast

The coast of Staten Island is as much of a presence as its inland, with rivers that invade right into its heart as well as cutting off the circulation of transport from the rest of New York City. The coastal regions reflect a lot of this borough's rural nature, with rough shores and plantlife, broken brick, and general abandonment. The harbors are left to the devices of those that freely come and go, a conspicuous lack of official presence - a number of them notably overrun by the developing crime syndicate, but there are still quite a few, particularly on the coasts nearest to Brooklyn and Manhattan, that are accessible to the lawful public.

She's there. Bolivar doesn't really feel it in any sort of edifying sixth sensey man-and-nature tingle-sense, but three hours into the stake-out and he sees her, brown coat sharply distinctive to his perceptions as an old blood spatter would've been to Demsky, despite the rickety iron twist and scrawl of the fence screening her translucently from his view and the shadow of the shack.

It's the dog. His dog, Apple, bitch, one white sock on the hind left heel, fifty eight pounds, American Pitbull Terrier, larking around on the scarred wood of the old jetty blithe, healthy, strong, unsupervised, selfish, and completely fucking blithely ignorant of the fact she's been missing for two fucking years and he's been going out of his miiind trying to find her. Must be nice being a dog, honestly. Tiny, teeny brain only big enough to remember about eating and grooming with the same tongue, shitting on flat ground and pissing on vertical objects. Stupid dog. He can't believe he's wasted two years looking for her. Bolivar blows a sigh out into the pre-dawn's black, steps forward without putting his gun up first. The wooden boards creak under the weight of him. It isn't for another ten, fifteen feet's worth of paces that the big dog looks up.

Sniffs. Opens her maw of railspike snaggleteeth and coughs up an embryonic slop of a half of a bark, before stopping. Her jaws munch shut again. Her head strains up in the wind, her tail essaying slightly in the wind. Wagging, hesitantly at first, and then she begins to really mean it, the penduluming taking up conviction and velocity. Bolivar breaks into a run. His legs are short, but he's gotten a lot fitter ever since Kayla returned to him his health, so he still goes like a machinegun, rat-a-tatting like a mad battery-operated robot bunny thing up to the fence.

He crashes into it. Rattles and clinks the interlaced points of chainlink, feels the heat of her breath swim porkchoppy and moist up his fingers when he pokes them through. Hey, girly. He's baby-talking his dog, though he never baby-talks his dogs: it's bad form for a big, tough cop, and his girls are nothing if not officers. Hey mitten-feet, how you doin'?

Who's an irresponsible little runaway cunt, hmmmm? Bet it was all studs and toilet water while you were by yourself, eh? Those pit fights leave you any scars? Whoa. He finds the first wedged into the flesh inside her right foreleg, thickly brindled and dense, fattening the curve of solid muscle. Some animal got you good, didn't he? But you got him, I bet, ripped him a new one and left your signature on his fucking cervix. Yeah, he scrubs small fingers along Apple's throat, feels the fold of pinkly tender skin and thinner fur, and he beams idiotically in the thickening darkness. That's my girl.

Rasping, and then a clap of impact: the shack's door lurches open. Bolivar bolts upright, his .45 up. He would be too distracted to notice the way Apple capering about if he weren't used to parsing exigent circumstances and the peripheral feedback of his dogs at the same time, so he notices Apple caper. He notices her plunge up against him at the fence, panting, and then notices her plunge away, toward the door, her tail in a wild flourish that isn't rage. He notices, too, she wasn't tied up, underfed, and— you know.

All that bullshit.

"Hey, asshole!" It's female, the figure in the doorway and the voice that splits the air in lightning's fork-tongued peal. The accent is Brooklyn. Flannel hangs off round elbows and almost misshapenly chunky hips in poorly-cut excess, and there's a heavy weapon, brutally ugly and big in her arms: a shotgun. This would be more and less problematic if her eyes were pointing in the proper direction. "Get the fuck away from there! Back up! Back up!"

Bolivar doesn't back up. His heart is jumping around in his ribcage like he'd swallowed something that had even more impassioned quiddity to it than whatever Raquelle regularly empties out of his nuts. He points his gun a little ways abover he head and pulls the trigger. The discharge shrieks dreamily against the cords of the moving wind currents and, finally, Apple barks, jolting on her paws, leaning her center of weight backward, hackling at nothing, no one, every-fucking-body. A hole peers raggedly through the transverse timber above her door and she is sprawled down, now, in a mumbling panic. "You back the fuck up!" he says. "You're blind and I'm an NYPD sharpshooter."

"Some fucking cop you are!" she shouts downwind, one wilted hand splaying on the floor. She pronounces it like 'cuop.' "Shooting at blind women!"

"You stole my dog."

One juddering second of silence, and then there's renewal, plaintive wobbling in the round vowels of her reply: "He's my dog!"

"He," Bolivar seethes behind bared teeth, and breathes these words in triumph and an almost bloodthirsty, backward delight in it, "is a fucking she."

Squawky objection, now. She scrabbles. Reaches out. "Todd," she says. "Todd." Apple answers to the name, or starts to, hazarding a lopsided few trotting paces toward the ragged mess of flannel and graying hair before she stops and looks back at him. Bolivar can kind of see into the woman's house from here. There is a guitar taking up a chair, a pocket-sized Bible perched in a tea cup, and fishing paraphernelia lying against the walls. There is a lot of random shit lying around side the fence. Rubber tire, plastic storage bins with netting and tarp piled up, half a trellis and plant pots that cup nothing but clay, salt, and wooden fish.

"Apple," he says, and Apple stops with a skittering click of blunt nails. Bends her thick neck around to look at him, her snout parted around long, wet breaths that he knows better than to mistake for a smile, no matter how human it looks. Where the crazy old hag can't see him, Bolivar allows himself a frown, slightly, and scratches at his scarred cheek with his right hand: she should have come closer to him than that. "Apple, get your ass back here. Hey. You— dusty old cunt, I'm going to open this fence up, come in, and take my dog. You just lie down there, don't touch the gun and I won't have to drive you to the fucking hospital afterward. I just want to get off this damn island, no more fucking trouble." Like lurking in the alleyways and watching all those poor damn dogs get their crippled carcasses wheeled out of the gambling dens, stinking of marijuana and rotten lamb. "So do us a favor: just roll over, close your eyes, and think of somebody you love."

There's a wheezing mess of slime streaking down the woman's face, guttering in her age-lines, frown-lines, then the life-lines in her palms. "I love Todd," she says.

"Todd is a boy's name. You're a retard. And I'm getting my dog back." He jangles the fence irritably and fragmented plaster or grass or other grit shoots out from under his shoes like panicky insects. He scrabbles over to the segment with the hinge and jangles that too, loosening and rending jointed metal like teeth. Momentum shakes down through the whole perimeter and Apple barks again.

"All I have is that dog!"


"Let me have the dog!" she squeals, lurching her ungainly corpulence against the doorframe, pulling herself upright hand over hand. "What do you need the dog for? You have a job! You have a life— over there." She is probably trying to point at Manhattan but not geographically succeeding, but Bolivar isn't bothering looking up anyway. "At least you can fucking see."

Bolivar does not answer, this time. He has tricked up the latch and jarred a gap in through the fence. He is squirming through like an insidiously slender half-Mexican eel man, scrunching his torso in, the .45 carefully angled up and away from the likelihood of causing manslaughter or the death of his pet. (His pet.) He kicks into the yard and stops in a crouch, swinging haphazard glances over his shoulders over at the shore. The nearest house that had displayed any signs of life (a light without shadows) isn't for another quarter mile through the trees and the unwired jetty shanty that the freak lady chose for her hermitage is a pretty easy lookout, but it still pays to be careful on Staten Island. Apple headbutts his knee and whines.

She sniffs loudly, and her hand comes slapping down on the wet that had fallen out of her nose. "How many other dogs do you have? That dog is my family, I had her for a long time, ever since she got away from the p-p-pits. Please." Snot and saliva have a way of making lips sound more limpidly blubbery than they have the physical mass to be. She hears the click of the leash catch's metal and says, "Please. D-don't you have a family?"

Of all the words that could stop a man in his tracks, that probably ranks somewhere in the universal scale of acknowledgedly lame between 'I love you' and an effort to recite Aqualung lyrics on-key. It is embarrassingly maudlin and unforgivably trite, weak, generic, completely, illogically irrelevant to any of the reasons that have brought Jason Bolivar here at all, after all the sleep he's lost over his loss and everything he owes a dog who deserves better than to rot out here on the ragged edge of a God-forsaken island with a fat ignorant cow who clings to her mean and isolated existence like she is an oily film. Suppose Apple gets sick? There also appears to be the possibility that the woman herself might fall ill, too, and what then?

Nevertheless, the physical reality of the situation is undeniable: Bolivar has stopped in his tracks.

Being a Statenite, the woman smells weakness in that pause and zeroes in on it like a jungle fortress cyborg. She thumps down one step from the ramshackle porch, her fingers sliding and ticking queasy patterns down the warped wood of the railing. "You have a family," she says, this time in statement form. Apple licks his thumb and grumbles a bristly scratch of whiskers against the back of his fingers, the muscular brown bulk of her shoulder set against his knee.

There is a pang in his stomach that has nothing to do with hunger. After a long moment, he finally lets go of his dog. His dog leaves him and goes to the lady, finally. It is immediately and unequivocally obvious that they have been moving in and out of each others' space for some time now; Apple moves to her side, and she takes a moment to shuffle points of tactility before deciding where to set her hand on the animal's mountainous withers. The leash dangles from Bolivar's burn-gnarled fingers and he looks at them for a few more seconds. He will remember this place.

No specific feeling comes over him, but the wind picks up, nips at his clothes and circles around his hair, reminds him he promised a little girl they'd do a beach some time and made a whole big thing of it, described with dramatic hands in the air and whale-speech stories, even if he ultimately recognizes that the sea is just a lot of water, salt-laden and further diluted by garbage. By now, it is so late that it's become early. He can't see any evidence of sunrise yet, though, and he would see it if there was: you have to be able to see better than a normal man to land the hits that he used to, and still can, though it's been months, now, since he shot the boy and Kayla fixed him and Raquelle cussed him out, and he's made no move to test back into that particular markshmanship subfield.

Not for the first time does he wonder what Raquelle Cambria sees in him. Whether such moments of anemic sympathy seem, to Cambria, like breaking mud to find a startling glint of treasure shine, or if it's more that… he doesn't mind having to look for his lost jewelry after he goes dancing on the dirt, in the rain. Fags, right?

At the end of the day, the difference probably doesn't matter, but it is the beginning of the day and you can blame it on that, too. Bolivar frowns when he realizes the hag has been talking all this time. He checks, briefly, that her shotgun remains discarded where she'll have to feel around for it long after he's gone, and then he gets away. When the sun comes up, Bolivar decides, after the sun comes up— he can call then. So as not to wake the children.

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