Tricky Ricky And The Forbidden Mines


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Scene Title Tricky Ricky and the Forbidden Mines
Synopsis On an assignment to spy on Jason Mines, Elliot Hitchens reaches out to a thief and a crook struggling to stay afloat in an ever-rising tide.
Date March 12, 2021

Staten Island was once of the most dangerous places in proximity to the Safe Zone, a haven for drug and gun running, human trafficking and murder. Even with the end of the civil war and the establishment of the Safe Zone across the Hudson River, the rot that infected this place starting with the Rookery spread like a cancerous growth across its rambling, overgrown urban wilderness. But with the arrival of the d’Sarthe Group and the 91st Military Police Battalion, things have begun to change in Staten Island for the first time in over a decade.

New Chinatown
Staten Island

March 12th*
4:37 pm**

Under clouded skies and cool temperatures, the neighborhood that was once colloquially known as the Rookery now stands branded as New Chinatown. The green and white highway sign for New Chinatown has been defaced several times and now reads ROOKERY in vibrant red paint. Residents of Staten Island have been slow to accept their rebranding, no matter how hard it is pushed.

The architecture of “New Chinatown” also looks at war with itself. Partially-completed highrise condominiums abut vacant lots of collapsed buildings surrounded by construction fencing, abut
wild growth sprouting up from vacant cellar holes decades-old, abut crumbling old tenement buildings that are more than a decade out of disrepair. The smell of freshly fallen rain overpowers the stink of gasoline and sweat that seems so common here among the shanty towns demarcated by blue canvas tarps and carboard boxes sitting across the street from a shiny new coffee shop.

This particular neighborhood where Elliot Hitchens has come was once considered the start of Staten Island’s fatal criminal infection, a place that even in its hay-day was a tumble-down ruin of derelict apartment complexes with many from that era that still stand boarded up, with burned out husks of cars on the street side, and graffiti covering nearly every building and surface. Steam rises up from trash-clogged sewer grates, rain soaked newspaper pages lie patchworked across the sidewalk, and homeless are huddled in shallow alleyways and stoops of closed up businesses not yet demolished for reconstruction.

On one particularly run down street, there lies a brick-faced building of crumbling appearance with barred windows on the ground floor and pock-marks from bullet impacts in the brick. The old sign that once proclaimed “Tucker's Pawn Shop” is so badly faded as to be illegible. Near the pawn shop entrance, there is a stoop to a stairwell marked with a smashed-in intercom and nonfunctional buzz-lock system that leads up to apartments above the derelict pawn shop.

It's here where a man known on Staten Island as Tricky Ricky resides—perhaps has always resided and may continue to reside forever. Ricky was a loose-associate of the Ferrymen during their time, also a known drug runner, and generally untrustworthy pile of shit. But Elliot Hitchens has dealt with him before, dealt with “Richard Daselles” on his own terms, dealt with Staten Island and dealt with the sight of human detritus that it is filled with.

When Elliot pulls open the shattered frame of the doorway that leads to the apartment stairwell and heads up the concrete steps to the second floor, he can hear the muffled and distant sounds of an argument; a man and woman's voice raised, something smashing, a child crying. His shoes crunch broken glass underfoot up the stairs, nose rankles at the scent of marijuana in the air. There is no electricity in the building, and all light spills through blown out windows that allow a cold breeze through the halls and their walls of peeling paint and split wood.

Another floor up a dog is barking and someone has their radio on too loud, but far enough away that only the generic bass beats can be heard through the ceiling. Apartment 201 is the first door on his right, same as it’s been the last ten years. It's numbers have long since been peeled off—they were copper, but copper is valuable—and all that remains now are the faded markings that ghostly show suggestions of numbers with red permanent marker poorly filling them in.

Beyond the door, the sound of a too-loud radio prattles muffled through the too-thin walls along with shouts of, "'Cause baby, you're a firework! Come on, show 'em what you're worth! Make 'em go, "Oh, oh, oh"!"

Ricky loves his pre-Civil War music.

Elliot shrugs, pulls his hands from the pockets of his hoodie to then pull his hood back, but not down. Pretending to belong somewhere he doesn’t is his primary skill, and slinking through the streets of this neighborhood feels almost nostalgic. He feels and hears the crunch of the sand and grit beneath his sneakers, sweeps some to the side with one foot.

It seems a shame to waste an opportunity to open the door to witness Ricky’s karaoke party without knocking, but it’s been a while. He reaches out and raps on the door the way he always did in the past. Distinctive but not Shave and a Haircut. He keeps his hands visible in case Ricky’s taken to answering the door with a shotgun. Judging by the facade he’d be insane not to.

Hold on, hold on!” Comes hollering through the door and the music cuts off. A few shuffling steps later and Elliot is greeted by a door with three chains on it opening enough that he can have the barrel of a handgun pointed in his face.

“What the fuck—” starts out accusatory, but cuts off abruptly. The barrel is lowered, and Ricky Daselles looks marginally embarrassed by his reaction. “ — brings… you— out here? Buddy?”

Elliot chuckles, shrugs with his hands before planting them in his pockets. “Oh, you know,” he says. “Crime.”

He looks pointedly at the door’s chain locks. “I see you’ve upgraded your security,” he laughs, “Tired of walking into your kitchen to find me sitting at your table in ominous silence? Or do you have even less trustworthy neighbors these days?”

“Man,” Ricky says, scratching his temple with the barrel of his gun, “they’re putting in a fucking Starbucks down the street. Most everybody worth half a fucking dollar bailed a while ago. I’m worried about fucking Latter Day Saints or I dunno, yoga moms out for mimosa Tuesday or what-the-fuck ever they’re doing to this place.”

“Christ,” Elliot sympathizes.

Ricky shuts the door only enough that he can unlatch the three chains. Dark eyes flick up and down the hall, and then square on Elliot again. The smell of cheap cologne, macaroni and cheese, whiskey, and pot wafts out of the apartment behind him.

Ricky backs away from the door and waves one hand in the air flippantly. As flippantly as he is dressed in a furry, red bathrobe with a nearly threadbare New York Jets t-shirt beneath. The cigarette burned powder blue slippers are something else entirely.

“Shut the door behind yourself,” Ricky says, throwing his loaded revolver down on the ratty flannel-fabric sofa across from the door. He picks up a spatula from off the couch beside where the gun landed and heads into the kitchen. There, he stops at a gas-powered space heater with a frying pan on top of it that he is using to melt slices of American cheese over macaroni salad and a can of beans.

The apartment is as much of a mess as Elliot remembers, with its shag carpet with bald-spots showing visible plywood beneath, its dust-covered stag head mounted on the wall, quilted cloth sofa, stacks of cans and bottles. The glass-doored medical refrigerator plugged into a jury-rigged car battery is new, but its hinges look busted and it doesn’t seem to be powered on anymore.

Ricky breathes in and turns around, looking down at his “food” sizzling in the skillet. “Alright, so, my Refrain source is bone dry ‘cause the Triad got mudhole stomped and d'Sarthe runs a tight ship. Some fuckface broke into my apartment a while back and stole my whole fucking stash," he says with a gesture to the demolished refrigerator.

He assumes this is about drugs.

“I don’t do drugs,” Elliot says, giving another look around the hallway before entering and shutting the door. He throws on a chain slide lock out of respect for the security theater. “And I hate remembering shit.”

“Sad to see that even the crime is getting gentrified,” he says, leading the conversation toward the topic he wants, checking Ricky’s allegiances. “I’m told d’Sarthe isn’t to be fucked with.” He paces slowly through the living space, looking past the mess for signs of any other occupants.

“Maybe a decade ago,” Ricky admits, idly stirring his food with the end of his spatula. “Back when all he had was that restaurant out in Central Park. You go to Chicago? He was the fucking boogey man. But this was Danny Linderman’s turf and nobody fucked with him…” Ricky trails off, wrinkling his nose, “I mean until everybody did. These days, yeah, Gideon’s the new Danny.” He sniffs the air. “Or, is trying t’be.”

After flipping the cheese and macaroni bean thing over in the skillet, Ricky looks up to Elliot. “Tell me you ain’t poking that fucking bear.”

Elliot sends a smirk into the kitchen before finding a clean wall to lean against. "Not the bear, no," he says. "Performing a job for the bear in exchange for some Intel. I was warned about the severity of blowback for people who fuck with him."

"And I'm not getting in any deeper than I can possibly manage. Just looking for a dirtbox and professional discretion. Avoiding direct assistance from d'Sarthe and not creating a paper trail. Hence the unofficial means of acquisition," he elaborates with a gesture to this decidedly unofficial location. "Fair compensation, as usual."

Ricky is a white trash still-life for a moment, fixing a squinty look at Elliot. He breaks it with the most noncommittal shrug and a huff of breath. “That’s fine,” he says as an aside, scraping his spatula across the makeshift skillet. “It’ll take a couple weeks to wrangle it all up. But you’re gonna need to cough up three times street price. Shit isn’t as slick as it used to be out here, everybody’s jacking up their prices, and they’re passing the jack off to you the consumer.

Turning off the space heater he’s been cooking on, Ricky stirs the skillet one more time. He slops half the macaroni salad bean cheese thing into a wide coffee mug and grabs a plastic spoon from the counter. “You hungry?”

Elliot doesn’t shrug at the cost, as far as he’s dug into the underworld, everything is as chaotic as Ricky suggests. He was accustomed to order back in the day. Not just because he managed the here to there, the timing and the double blind deliveries. Because his contributions were to the crimes of an upstanding businessman who appreciated tidiness.

He was never operating at a level that would take him into the orbit of the man at the top back then. Just aggravated with inefficiency and scooped out of the pool by an amused but impressed Nicole after what amounted to an impromptu PowerPoint presentation to the criminals who weren’t doing their crime well. Probably kept out of a bodybag by her as well.

He performs a quick inventory of all the visible ingredients and compiles a flavor in his mind just in case he doesn’t want to be rude. “I could order a pizza if you want to trade out your usual for something with a vitamin in it. Maybe vitamin D, when’s the last time you saw the fucking sun?” He doesn’t laugh, though the corner of his mouth does tick up in a smirk.

“I don’t like to wake up before a solid 3pm,” Ricky says as if in total seriousness, “leaves too much of the night-life to mystery. Admittedly now there’s fucking sight-seers from the goddamn Safe Zone looking for cheap Molly and an eight-ball instead of, you know, the real fun. I gotta drag my fucking ass all the way to Queens to see a got pit fight.”

Sighing, Ricky looks down at his honestly disgusting meal and throws his hands in the air. “Fine, but I swear to christ if you order something fucking weird I will pop a shit right in your asophagus.”

Turning to his kitchen Ricky asks over his shoulder. “You gonna stick around to eat?”

“I object to you calling anything I cook weird,” Elliot says, pointing at Ricky’s discarded meal and makeshift stovetop, “On a moral level. And yeah, I’m not leaving you unsupervised with a whole pizza.”

Ricky glances at his skillet, then throws the spatula in the trash.


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