Missed Tide


jack_icon.gif jezebel_icon.gif

Scene Title Missed Tide
Synopsis A captain and passenger don't quite manage to connect.
Date February 12, 2009

The Angry Pelican, Staten Island

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.

In the early afternoon, the Angry Pelican is hardly what one would call a busy place. It's a watering hole that exists to support seafarers without the funds or desire to make it farther inland, and a place for potential customers to meet them. Sometimes Jack is the former, and sometimes the latter. Sometimes he's both.

Right now, he's taking a break. A chance to wet his whistle and collect his thoughts between excursions. The Somali pirate's customary lopsided grin is nowhere in evidence as he studies a legal pad covered in untidy columns of numbers. Every so often, he pauses to scratch something out with the stub of a pencil he's clutching in one hand, or to sip from the glass of bourbon he's holding in the other.

Jezebel would definitely have to be a customer, for she looks like a born landlubber in those biker leathers. She walks into the bar, but doesn't go order a drink. Instead, she looks around the room for something or other.

Jack pinches the tip of his tongue between his teeth as he works out a particularly troublesome calculation. There. Fuel costs are settled.

Tiredly, he shoves the pad aside, finishes his bourbon, and stands. It's the new entrant that first catches his attention, though. He tips his head to the side, considering her curiously for a long moment, then calls, "Oi. You lost?"

Jezebel walks towards Jack as she says, "I hope not, although a friend of mine is. I'm looking for a ferry owner. Do you own a ferry?"

"Ferry?" Jack shakes his head. "Ferry's a big flat raft on a rope. I own a boat, sugar. Who're you lookin' for, anyway?" With a subtle gesture, he signals for the bartender to refill his bourbon and bring a second glass. Then he takes a closer stool, crosses his arms over his chest, and puts on his best, most politely curious expression.

Jezebel sits down next to Jack, just to get out of everyone else's way. "Captain, I'm looking for a man about six feet, blonde, blue eyes, European face, heavy Russian accent, answers to Sergei. You might have seen him washing up on the beach, if he was lucky. Have you seen him?"

"Captain?" Jack asks again, content to keep his portion of the exchange question-oriented. "For a lady in leathers, you know how to talk to a fella 'round here." A quiet chuckle escapes from between his lips as he shakes his head. "Sorry, though. Lots o' folk washed up or got found in the last week, but I ain't seen anybody like that."

Jezebel says with a touch of humor, "Curses, foiled again. I'm beginning to think his friends should be even more worried than they are. If you do see him, please tell him his friends want to know if he's alive. What I'm looking for, for me, is a way to get back and forth from here to Manhattan."

Jack nods lazily and gulps back his fresh bourbon as fast as he did the first. "Sure, sure," he agrees as he pushes the empty glass away. "Everybody's lookin' for the same now that the bridge is out. You came to the right place." He doesn't have to lean up far to point out one ragged window at a slim, streamlined cigarette boat that's proudly christened 'THE DIRTY DEEDS.' "There y'have it. Price is based on what you can pay and what trouble we bump into, but I guarantee safe passage."

Jezebel admits, "I'm checking into things way in advance, but if everything works out, I'll be wanting to commute daily, or almost daily, on an undergrad research fellow's salary. I'll also want to bring my motorcycle, or find a really safe place to park it."

Now Jack's congenial manner hits a hiccup. "I dunno what an undergrad fella makes, but it doesn't sound like it'd be enough to bring your bike along. Cargo an' passengers are a different matter, an' they call for separate paychecks." He shrugs his broad, sloping shoulders apologetically. "I'm not in the business of garaging, either. Don't exactly spend much time off the water."

Jezebel nods, sucking on her lower lip. "Believe me, if there were public transit on either end of the trip, I'd leave the bike at home. Darn. Maybe moving off the island is required after all. In that case, may I ask what your cargo rates are?" She gets a pen and a piece of paper out, presumably to write them down.

"Again, it depends on what you're shippin'. Goes by cubic meter, weight, and how much space I have in the hold at the time," he replies in his thick, heavily accented voice. "This ain't exactly the Staten Harbor, and I don't exactly have rates for shippin' motorcycles."

Jezebel scribbles something on the paper anyway. "I know it's not, but it's what there is these days. At this rate, I'm afraid to ask what a round-trip fare for me and the bike would be if I ever needed one. I seem doomed to waste your time, Captain. I apologize."

Jack shrugs a second time and scribbles something down on his own pad. The corner of the page is ripped off and slid across to Jezebel. "There's a number where you can leave messages for me. If have space, I'll try and squeeze you and your bike in at a decent rate, eh? I usually make three trips a day. One real early, one at about noon-ish, and one here in a few minutes."

Jezebel takes the paper. "Thanks, Captain, I appreciate that." She writes the times down on the paper, then tucks everything away. "I should let you get to your boat, I suppose. Smooth sailing to you."

"And calm water to you, pretty," Jack replies. "Pleasure meetin' you. You can find me here if you need me. Just don't come by after dark." The warning comes with a small smile, but it's a serious one. "Good day."

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