Submitted For Your Approval


cat_icon.gif jezebel_icon.gif

Scene Title Submitted for Your Approval
Synopsis Cat prepares to go look for Abby and Sergei.
Date February 17, 2009

Various spots in and around Staten Island, ending at The Garden

The kitchen is a goodly size, with plenty of counter space. The walls have been painted a sunny yellow, in an attempt to add warmth and energy. The main appliances are older than the minor ones, which look brand-new. The place is clean, with new vinyl on the floor and a simple wood table with four chairs. The small window over the sink has a decent view of part of the yard.

So much to think about, and things to do. Cat's had her indulgence, her flirtation with playing onstage again which led to meeting Hiro. She sent word to Wireless, and notified Teo. Now there's the trip out to Staten Island which needs attention, and is overdue. She should find Claude, or bring Kinson, maybe both, but things are as they are. She can at least visit the Garden and ask some questions, get a feel for what lies out there as far as places go and where to look.

So as she stands on the pier where she tied up her boat, looking out across the water between Manhattan and her destination, she pulls out a disposable phone. The number for The Garden is tapped in, and the button pressed to start the call. 6:30 p. m., the phone display says.

Jezebel answers the phone on the third ring. "The Garden, Head Gardener speaking. How may I help you?"

"Jezebel," she starts, "it's Cat. I'm about to cross the water, headed your way. Or would you advise I wait until morning tomorrow?"

Jezebel thinks for a second. "Hi, Cat! Morning is always safer on the beach. If I come pick you up, we should be okay. Usually I get deliveries at night, so it can be survived. It's your call."

"I've got a boat. I'll be over on your side of the water shortly." As she says this, Cat climbs aboard and unties the craft. "See you soon." She checks the weapon concealed under her coat, a .40 caliber pistol, and the ammo in clips for it stashed in pockets. All is in place, and the silencer is screwed onto the barrel. If she has to defend herself with it, there's still no need to be loud and draw attention.

Jezebel replies, "Right, I'll be waiting."

The call ends, the motor is started, and the crossing is made. Some time later Cat steps onto the opposite shore and ties the craft in place, then lets her eyes roam over the landscape. She's come clad in jeans with holes in the knees, a cheap winter coat that looks worn over several years, beaten up boots, her hair in a ponytail, and an old Yankees cap perched atop her head.

Jezebel is waiting, as promised. She's dressed in her black motorcycle leathers. Her Harley is right next to her. "Hello, Cat. Do you have some way to keep that from being stolen? I think you can squeeze into my nylon jumpsuit, if you want."

"It'll be safe," Cat believes, as she steps over toward the cycle. The idea of squeezing into the suit is considered. She's been to the Garden before, on New Year's Eve, so she calls up her memory of how long it took from coast to safehouse that day.

It's about fifteen to twenty minutes from here to the Garden, perhaps.

"I'm good," Cat asserts, moving toward the vehicle. An idea briefly comes into her mind, a slight smile accompanying it. "This thing have an owner's manual, Jezebel?"

Jezebel laughs. "I read that ages ago. Here," she says as she reaches into one of the saddlebags, "put this on." She hands Cat a black motorcycle helmet.

The Yankees cap is tucked into a pocket, the helmet goes on, and Cat chuckles. "Do you still have it? I only need to see the thing once."

Jezebel shakes her head. "Sorry. If you can find a motorcycle dealership, they should have a copy. You might find one on the Web, if you dig. Have you ridden before?"

"No, but I'm aware of the basics. Hands on your hips, lean when you lean, that sort of thing," Cat answers. Maybe she'll buy a motorcycle and teach herself sometime.

Jezebel nods. "Okay, let's get home." She hops on the motorcycle and starts it up.

One leg goes over the bike, gloved fingers take hold, and Cat becomes passenger.

Jezebel drives off, as fast as she thinks she can get away with. Fifteen minutes, a few swerves and one unlocked gate later, the Harley stops in front of a detached garage. "That wasn't so bad, was it?"

"Not at all," Cat replies, as she sets feet on ground. It's certainly less troublesome than being a captive of Ethan, she thinks to herself. Or having a round from a sniper that sounded like a tank gun whistle past her head after going through a Brian, and still having enough juice to ventilate a wall. "Thanks for the ride."

Jezebel says, "You're very welcome. Let me just tuck the Harley away and we'll go to the kitchen and drink hot liquids."

A nod comes, and Cat waits by the door.

Jezebel only takes a few moments, then unlocks the door and shooes Cat into the kitchen. "Coffee? Tea? Hot chocolate?"

"Coffee's good," Cat states. She removes her coat, and reaches behind her to pull out the weapon she carries, doing so slowly so no misunderstanding happens. It's set on a surface gently and left there. "I'm after helping to find a few people out this way."

Jezebel starts up the coffee maker. "I've been looking for Sergei, but no one's seen him. I hate to say this, Cat, but he's probably either in the Rookery, or dead. I haven't checked the Rookery yet because I like to be in one piece."

She's businesslike, her features focused. "I'd prefer not to believe he's dead unless I see a body," Cat replies. "So that means checking out the Rookery. Tell me about it, if you would," she requests. "The danger would be why I came armed. Not to discount what might be there, but I'd evaluate the odds as better than they were on January 28th."

Jezebel puts two cups of coffee down on the table and fetches milk and spoons. There's a sugar bowl on the table. "The people who were out here originally weren't actively malevolent. The people in the Rookery are. Rumor has it that many people who go in there don't leave alive. On the other hand, there's a brothel in there. It would need repeat business to stay open."

Her head tilts to one side, as she considers Jezebel's reply. "So… it's possible both are true to some degree," Cat muses. "If there's a brothel, it needs repeat business, and it needs prostitutes, so it's possible women who go in there don't leave alive. They could get grabbed and forced to work servicing clients or die."

Jezebel frowns. "I rather hope not. I'd feel compelled to blow it up. I've also heard that there's a street clinic and a great Chinese restaurant in there somewhere."

"As would I," Cat comments. "Still, I'd suspect at least some of the women working there in that way are doing so against their will through blackmail, drug addiction, or just plain fear. Desperation and low self-esteem likely figure into it somewhere, for the willing." She settles into a chair. "Wouldn't you need to be close to death by starvation to take that step, your survival depending on it?"

Jezebel sits down. "Probably, but I've never spoken with a prostitute, so I don't know for certain. I'd just as soon stay out of the Happy Dagger. Odds are that they don't employ men as anything other than security."

She's listening, and nodding. It's all recorded. "The Happy Dagger," Cat repeats. "What are the street clinic, the Chinese restaurant, and fight club called?"

Jezebel asks, "Fight club? That's a new one, but I shouldn't be surprised. I'm sorry, I don't have names for any of those."

"I was told about it last night," Cat shares. "Have you any ideas where Abby might be, Jezebel?"

Jezebel stares at Cat while her jaw drops. "No, I don't. Good heavens! Do you think she's out here? The Happy Dagger and this fight club would both love her to pieces."

"That's the impression I've gotten, from people I talked to," Cat replies quietly. "When I asked if there was any place out here more likely than others to want Abby for her healing talents, I was told about the fight club." Silent speculation follows, and her jaw sets, the eyes harden a bit. "It's possible the fight club and brothel could share her, or try to. I wouldn't discount them trying to use her for more than her healing ability."

Jezebel points out, "They'd want her well-rested. Working as a prostitute is great aerobic exercise, but not at all restful. I suppose we're going to the Happy Dagger after all."

"Do you want to go there now, the two of us, or go in the morning with more backup, if we can arrange it?" Cat asks solemnly. She picks up her gun from the table and slips it into the back of her jeans. "I came dressed for the occasion. Even have a full face ski mask in my coat pocket, just in case."

Jezebel thinks for a moment. "The problem with now is that everyone will be awake. In the morning, they'll all be asleep. I would have picked afternoon. In the afternoon, I think we'd be safe so long as we stuck together. If we went right now, you might need to fire that gun."

"So tomorrow afternoon, then," Cat replies, whether I can get backup to go with us or not, Jezebel?" She pauses. "I want both Abby and Sergei, one at a time will do. As far as firing the weapon, I can if I have to. Will you need a weapon as well?"

Jezebel shakes her head. "I have no idea how to use one, nor do I want to harm anyone. It's how I've survived asking total strangers if they've seen Sergei; they can tell that I'm completely harmless. Tomorrow afternoon is fine. I can lend you a nightgown later and we've got plenty of room right now."

"I'm good," Cat replies on the question of sleepwear. "Got a computer?"

Jezebel answers, "There's my Macbook, but we don't have landline connections of any sort here. Installation would have been a real problem. I do have a printer and paper, if that helps at all. For Internet stuff, you'll have to borrow my iPhone and be patient with it."

"Oh," Cat replies. She takes a few moments to think. "Books will do, then." She can study motorcycles later. "Maybe an English to Japanese dictionary."

Jezebel says, "I'm afraid I don't have one, Cat. You might be able to find one online using the iPhone."

"But you do have books," Cat hopes.

Jezebel nods. "Some. Mostly my old textbooks, my class notes and whatever my parents feel like sending along. I meditate a lot. I was considering getting a television, a DVD player and a game console for guests, but at the moment we'd have to hide them to keep people from breaking in."

"Thanks," Cat replies with a nod. If there are books in view, she picks one and opens it while moving to sit again. "Not quite ready to sleep, it'll be good learning time. I'll get up early and go back to Manhattan, see who I can round up to come with us, but we go whether or not I find anyone in the afternoon, right?"

The books are not in the kitchen, unless Cat is grabbing a cookbook. Jezebel nods. "Right. I just hope Eve doesn't turn up while we're out, although she does have a set of the keys."

"Excellent, Jezebel," Cat offers. Cookbooks are good. They have recipes. Unless the title is To Serve Man and the author is a Kanamit. Because that would just be something out of the twilight zone, submitted for her approval. Cat begins to look over the pages of the culinary tome in hand, scanning them one by one.

No, but the title is Serve It Forth, containing the favorite recipes of a wide array of science fiction authors. "I'll just leave you in peace, then. I'll be on the second floor. Just wait until you hit Del's Hellfire Chili and Shrimp Anarchy," says Jezebel.

February 17th: How Stella Got Her Groove On
February 17th: Godsend Bargain
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