See You, Space Cowboy


keagan_icon.gif raith_icon.gif smedley_icon.gif

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Scene Title See you, Space Cowboy
Synopsis Before Raith has a chance to speak with Smedley concerning some smuggling of a more personal nature, Keagan meets the old cowboy and his older dog.
Date January 10, 2011

Red Hook

Everything in Red Hook looks worse than it actually is.

It probably has little to do with the actual soil and more to do with the time of year, the color of the decrepit buildings, and the general tenor of the streets. They are streets that change you, if only for the span of time you spend walking through them.

With the temperature just a few knocks below freezing, Wes Smedley has the color of his oilskin coat turned up, shielding his neck from even the gentlest of bitter winds. Steam curls from his mouth like an unfurling plume, trailing in his wake for a moment before it dissipates into the darkening winter air of the evening sky. Alongside the red-eyed smuggler trots his faithful hound, head low and eyes narrowed against the elements.

There are still several hours until curfew, but the dark and the cold are their own brand of martial law enforcement. The threat of a storm coming just as people are expected to lock their doors for the evening is just one more added assurance that the streets will be relatively empty in the hours leading up to the first signs of heavy snowfall. Few roam the streets in this state, and many of them have more than just warm clothing working to warm their blood.

Keagan was supposed to meet somebody in this end of town, which is always a little risky. No doubt his aunt would flip if she knew he came out here as well. His coat is buttoned up to his neck, and a pink knit cap covers his head. Yes. Pink. The boy's hands are in his pockets, and his face is crinkled with the cold. He wanted to get to see Anna today, but the person he was supposed to meet never showed, and so Keagan is left with hardly enough time to head down to Chinatown and back home before the storm hits, let alone curfew. The look on his face says it all. I hate winter.

Keagan spots the dog before the man, eying the old dog carefully. The boy has a new puppy, and he tries to picture his own little guy looking that old and…old. He reaches into his pocket, and pulls out a candy cane, a treat that he's running low on now that Christmas is over. "Hey Mister," he calls out. "What's yer dog's name?" he asks. Does he know Smedley? No. Is it generally a good idea to talk to strangers? No. Does Keagan care? Take a guess. He doesn't greet with cheery voice, but rather casual, as if he were asking the time of day. The candy can goes into his mouth. It comes back out again. He forgot to unwrap it.

Ultimately, the weather does not either to change or accentuate the fact that Red Hook sucks. It's no secret that it sucks. It's no secret to Jensen Raith, at least, and yet, here he is in Red Hook. But of course, it could be worse. He could be facing down something really terrible like an airborne division. Or Black Manta.

Although Smedley is very much the visible to Keagan, Raith is hanging out of sight for the moment, obscured less by him actually hiding and more by the darkened sky and prevailing weather conditions. Unlike the cowboy, who could perhaps still pass for a cowboy in a dreary winter film, Raith is very much dressed for life in the arctic, wearing a heavy coat and pants, scarf wrapped around the lower half of his face and a wool cap pulled over the top of his head. Someone who was unfamiliar with him might well recognize him as Jensen Raith only because he still wears his round-lensed sunglasses, even if the lighting conditions aren't really right for them.

Unlike the kid on the street, Raith is absolutely supposed to be bumping into Smedley. After all, there are things the two of them need to work out, and believe it or not, Red Hook is actually a pretty good place to do it. If only because it's deserted, and not because of the charming weather. Red Hook sucks.

Carson lets out a sharp report before he sticks his head out a bit further to sniff inquisitively at the proffered candy cane, but his tail remains straight and his ears pinned back. After years as the smuggler's only constant right-hand companion, even a dog learns a thing or two about taking treats from strangers.

Smedley arches an eyebrow until it disappears under the brim of his own cap - a simple black knit watchcap, probably an Army Surplus find, or perhaps even a more tactical acquisition. The kid is young, and like many young men in a place like Red Hook, stands a fifty-fifty chance of being on the level. "Spot," he half-barks himself, the word low and careful. With the mutt's coloring, even with his fully white face, it's not an unlikely moniker.

"It ain't Christmas anymore, kid," he adds with a nod to the candy before he lifts his gray-blue eyes to scan the street, just in case the boy is Raith's cover. It should be noted too, that Smedley's speech is just shy of spot-on. It could be the slow, prairie swagger of his words, or it could be something else. The old spy is odd enough about their rendezvous that the old ranch hand wouldn't put the ruse past him. "'Sides, I ain't sure peppermint's good for dogs."

"Spot?" Keagan echoes. He was hoping for something a little more interesting than that. He unwraps the candy cane, and then puts it back in his mouth, speaking through it the way old men speak through cigars. "I never tried giving my dog peppermint. They say it makes your brain smarter for half an hour when you eat it," he points out. Random information. "So maybe your dog would be like a super-brainiac dog." Inside the boy's mouth, a crack can be heard as he breaks off a piece of the candy cane, and crunches it impatiently.

One wouldn't expect a whelp like this to be saavy to a separate line of thinking that permeates the environment. Keagan, however, has been around less friendly parts of town often enough, that it's almost like a sixth sense. He doesn't continue to press the conversation, falling silent for a moment, as if he was listening for something. He takes a few more steps along the way, as if somehow alerted that he may be in the wrong place at the moment.

"Pretty much everything's bad for dogs, when you really get down to it," is Raith's interjection into the apparent conversation, "Even the stuff that isn't bad for them's bad for them, depending on who you ask." It's not a surprise that he's half-shouting, because with his scarf covering his mouth, he needs to just to be heard, even as he approaches the pair. Trio, counting Carson. "For the record, also, coming out here was a terrible idea. Terrible idea. It's too fucking cold, and I blame you." Whether he blames Smedley, Keagan or Carson is not made clear.

"Made y'smart enough to come out here wearin' that hat," is all Smedley can say in response to Keagan before Raith snags his attention. He turns slowly, keeping his hands buried deep inside the pockets of his coat. Carson turns too, but the man with the sweet is far more interesting, even if he's an unknown factor. A wry smile twists on the lower, more visible portion of Smedley's worn face.

"Harden the fuck up, will'yuh? S'just a little snow. Ain't gonna make y'melt."

Keagan reaches up with his left hand and pats his head. The look on his face says 'What's wrong with my hat?' He continues to walk on from the duo, but it is admittedly slow. He doesn't wish to let on that he's curious what the two have to discuss out here, but he can't help himself. He wants to overhear whatever the business might be. As a result, his pace is quite casual, peeling back the wrapper on the candy cane a little further.

"No, it'll just freeze me. And if that happens, I promise I will haunt you for the rest of my life." An idle threat for idle conversation. Raith watches Keagan as the youth departs maybe just a bit more slowly than he should, but ultimately decides to pay him no mind. "Had any more business problems?" the ex-spy asks when he's just within arm's reach of Smedley, pulling his scarf down so he doesn't need to shout through it anymore. "Or personal problems, if you get my meaning?"

"Nah," Smedley says with a shake of his head and a sniff, watching Keagan meander on down the street. Mosey, even. "But I ain't been real regular anywhere either." He doesn't offer any clarification of that - Raith should be able to supply plenty of plausible scenarios for a man like Smedley to not be keeping to his regular schedule and dance card.'

"Good, I guess." Raith guesses. "Been slow going on our side of things, but I'm working on some plans that might speed things up a bit. Could get kind of noisy, and not the happy fun Fourth of July kind. Now, you've been pretty good about getting us the things we need, but for this, we're going to need slightly different things." Raith pauses for just a moment. For effect, and also to allow the information a chance to sink in so it's not a total surprise to Smedley. And perhaps more importantly, to take a moment to ensure that no one around is particularly interested in their conversation. And so far, it looks to be clear. "Ammunition will be near the top of that list."

It would seem to Smedley, even in his slightly inebrieated state, that blowing people up or riddling them with bullet holes wouldn't help the situation of those stuck on the island off the Hudson shore. But he doesn't comment on this - he only stares at Raith with those slightly red eyes. When the other man pauses, he arches his eyebrows again and nods. "Same cal'burs?"

At first, Raith only replies with a shrug. It's only a moment later that it occurs to him that, bundled up as he is, it's probably impossible to tell that he shrugged at all. "Maybe. I'm working with a different inventory this time, still assessing what we're going to need. Still in the planning phases. Just figured you might like a heads up so you aren't totally blindsided when I ask. But we'll deal with that closer to the due date, as it were, since we might need some exotic stuff. I also have a favor to ask that, well, doesn't involve a sale of anything. Especially not anything dangerous. Not very dangerous." Raith does not clarify whether he meant it wasn't dangerous, or wasn't very dangerous.

"The sale'uh somethin' already's close t'uh favor," Smedley says as dryly as if they were on either side of a fence separating two pastures. "What with the news. Y'do get the news out there, don'cha?" But then Smedley shakes his head. Of course Raith keeps up with the news. It's part of being on the lamb and under the radar. Your radar has to be better than the radar you're hiding from.

"Whatcha need?"

"Well," Raith begins, stopping to pause for effect again. Something he does a lot. "Depends how well your pal there gets on with other dogs, I'm thinking."

"Carson?" Smedley says with newfound interest. This is suddenly more than a business transaction. The dog at his side looks up at the mention of his name, his tail wagging in a slow thump against the damp ground. Smedley looks back down at the dog for a moment before he returns his tired eyes to Raith. "Well 'nough. Ain't been around many lately though. What's your plan got t'do with ol'Carson?"

"Well, I got a couple of my own. Can't keep them with me right now. We're doing alright keeping the kids fed, but we're already pushing it without mutts around. There's other people I could leave them with, but it's a matter of trust. And simply put, I don't know if I trust those people to look after a pair of rocks, let alone a pair of dogs. So, I got to thinking, well, you've got one already. Maybe I'd better ask if you wouldn't mind a couple more temporarily."

Truth be told, ever since the loss of Von as an infusion of puppy spirit, Carson has been somewhat listless. The prospect of new companions to stimulate him may just be what the old dog needs. Smedley looks down at his companion of over a decade and sighs, presumably rolling the idea over in his brain. He nods slowly, taking his time in lifting his head to look at Raith again.

"We'll see how they get along when I come by later this month. Plannin' on showin' up 'round the sixteenth'r so." He nods again, his bottom lip rolling out a bit further in a thoughtful expression. "Shouldn't be a problem. But speakin' a which, you don't want nuthin' too special that soon d'yuh? For your little party or elsewise?"

Raith shakes his head. "Even if we got started tomorrow, we have enough to last us a while. We haven't established how fast we'll burn through everything, but since this is a war of intelligence and not brute force, we could be set for some time. Especially if it doesn't get-" Abruptly, Raith turns his head upward towards the sky- "Any fucking warmer." But it's just for that outburst, and then his glasses are focused on Smedley again. "I don't want to be out in this garbage, or or no war."

"This ain't shit," Smedley says with a wry smile and a new shake of his head. "Groceries'll be there in a few days then," he adds, lurching forward to move down the street, or at least start to. Groceries, when it comes to men like Raith and Smedley, include much more than milk, bread, and eggs.

"Someday, when all this's cleared up, I'll show you what a real January's like." He pauses, turning to look over his shoulder at Raith, then up to the sky. "S'close. But it aint' shit."

"Trust me," Raith says, pulling his scarf back up over his mouth, "I seen cold like you would not believe." The scarf coming up, and one more careful glance in the direction Keagan was going in, signals the end of the conversation just as much as Raith turning to walk back the way he came does. "See you, space cowboy."

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