Scene Title Personal
Synopsis Danko reports in.
Date April 4, 2018

Fresh Kills - Staten Island

Seawater rolls sluggish against a battered scrap of Fresh Kils coast, the color of lead in the predawn light. It pushes garbage up onto rain-pitted sand, and rakes a lonesome crab over the smooth surface it leaves behind, claws over carapace.

Emile Danko strikes a diminutive figure against the hulk of a few bomb-splintered trees dragged down closer to the waterline over the years.

Satellite phone in hand, he dials with one hand and flips a match out of a pack with the other, a cigarette already set to his lip. His tent is a squat hutch of shadow behind him, his boat hauled up and overturned under camouflage netting. Jersey lies rotting across the river mouth, dead warehouses still and silent save the rustle of seabirds rousing in the wreckage.

Nobody’s going to find him out here. And if they do — he tucks the phone to his shoulder to adjust the sit of the gun strapped to his side— they’ll wish they hadn’t.

“It’s done.”

There’s a measured silence on the other end of the line, but Danko knows his contact well enough not to misinterpret this as doubt.

“Thank you,” is what the voice eventually says. It’s soft like the water lapping against the rocks is soft. Persistent, too: “Did anyone see you?”

The noise in the background is muted, tinny, and sounds like it might be coming from the other side of a pane of glass. It’s impossible for Danko to determine his contact’s current location with any real certainty, only to guess.

“A few civilians.” Flame struck, he lights up, still drowsy in the clag of his throat and the stretch of his own silence. “Some … lunatic,” his voice falters after his first drag, at a loss for how best to describe — “in a sombrero.”

He sounds apologetic for having to lay that image out there as the gospel truth, match flicked to sand. The only trace of humor in him is at his own expense. What happened, happened.

“Took a couple of shots. Seemed like she knew me.”

A sombrero.

It’s almost less believable than the image Danko strikes: a dead man camping on the beach at dawn. Wind dissolves the tendrils of smoke that leak from his nose and mouth. At a distance, the only part of him that’s visible is the pinprick of burnt orange smoldering at the end of his cigarette.

“She may have,” the voice concedes, apologetic. “There’s a statue, if you haven’t seen it yet.”

No more is said on the subject of Eve Mas, the lunatic in the sombrero. Or the statue gathering barnacles at the bottom of Ferrymen’s Bay. “I’m sorry if this is difficult,” the voice says instead. Another pause. Seabirds flutter in the confines of their steel nests.

“You are missed.”

“It felt personal.”

More than simple recognition of a monument in the flesh. To fire at all was reckless; to pursue him blind into a rat’s nest —

The morning air is chilly enough for his breath to fog thin after smoke upon exhale — a sigh steep enough to carry through the line despite some hazy effort made to stifle it. He presses the heel of his hand up under his brow, feeling down around bone, all the way to the grain of stubble under his throat.

“I didn’t expect it to be easy,” he says. “You don’t have to worry about me.”

“I’m not,” the voice lies, and Danko can tell. This particular untruth is so blatant, so brazen, there can be no question about whether or not they’re overinvested in his well-being. They must recognize they’re caught, too, because he hears the speaker clear their throat, followed by the telltale rustle of fabric, clothes readjusting.

They’re moving to leave, wherever it is that they are. “I’ll see you soon,” the voice promises. What they really mean is goodbye. “Wait for me on Staten Island. You know what to do.”

“Yeah,” says Emile. “I know.”

The last few stars are fading into dawn light soaking grey from the horizon. Across the river, terns spiral out over the water, stirred aloft by the passage of some unseen predator.

“I’ll be here.”

He ends the call.


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