Twelve Years Gone, Part II


des_icon.gif eugene_icon.gif keira_icon.gif lucille_icon.gif rex_icon.gif zain_icon.gif

Scene Title Twelve Years Gone, Part II
Synopsis Twelve years after the bomb, Staten Island has changed little and the people there memorialize the day the world changed much differently…
Date November 8, 2018

The Rookery

Twelve years ago the world changed forever.

From Staten Island, that change was as visible as a mushroom cloud rising up from the island of Manhattan and the accompanying atomic flash blasting out between crumbling skyscrapers. In the months that followed Staten Island was the start of an exodus, as residents fled from a cloud of poisonous radioactive fallout that settled over the region. Though not everyone could afford to leave, and not everyone displaced by the bomb had anywhere else to go.

Twelve years on, and Staten Island has never regained its footing. Attempts were made by the government, by enterprising individuals, but the island is like so much dry sand, slipping through the fingers of civilization’s grasp. Even now, as generator-powered string lights glow over a crumbling asphalt street, as metal drums burn with fire, as music blasts out of the stereo systems of beat-up shitbox cars, as people cheer and shout and fire guns into the air… civilization still has yet to find a hold.

The Rookery May be both the best and worst thing that ever happened to the island. After the bomb it was a refuge for the displaced and homeless, the jobless and the forgotten. But it became a haven for organized and disorganized crime. It became a cesspool that was so resilient it couldn't be burned down, it couldn't be expunged, it just kept clawing back.

Today the Rookery is in the throes of an impromptu celebration, much as everything on Staten Island is, unplanned. Hundreds of residents have gathered outside the 503, a tenement building and — on the ground level — makeshift bar located at 503 Hearst Street. The party spilled out onto the street long ago, where barking dogs, loud music, and intermittent gunfire signal a revelry to ostensibly celebrate Staten Island’s survival in the face of atomic fire and civil war.

Seated on the hood of his beat up pickup truck, Eugene Arrowood has a rough-looking — as rough as he is — German Shepard sitting at his side watching the crowd. The beer in Eugene’s hand was smuggled out of the Safe Zone and re-sold in Rookery markets for a notable markup. It's half finished, but he's just getting started with the night.

Suddenly, Eugene has company, announced by the scents of overabundant Burberry cologne and marijuana in a heady mix, just before a downward dip of the truck as Rex brings up a booted foot onto the front bumper so he can perch on the hood. He takes a joint held between his lips to pass to the older man, in a red glove fringed with gray fur.

The slim man wears a wool trench, the dark color creating a sharp juxtaposition to the colorful yellow and red scarf around his neck. “I got a flask of better shit than that, boyfriend,” he says, pulling out another joint from the inner pocket of his coat, leaving Eugene with the first as a gift.

As a show of good faith, the folks over at South Bronx Food Supply Co. showed up in a stolen food truck, and have been serving up burgers for a fairly reasonable price — because people in mourning have to eat too, right? The cooks are in good spirits, and the prettier members of the crowds will find themselves with extra french fries thrown in.

Keira isn’t about to move into the food truck business, but she would be hard pressed not to try to turn a profit any way she can. As with everyday life, she’s kept her face mostly separate from the food business, seated on the tailgate of her own truck that is parked a good ways away. She has a mostly finished beer sitting next to her, but the flask in her hands is the focus of her attention.

Occasionally, she’ll glance toward the attending Arrowood(s), but mostly, Keira is enjoying herself, watching the chaos with an amused grin on her face. This is how people should mourn — by celebrating the good things in life that remain.

A slight man in a dark wool coat steps lightly around puddles in the broken pavement as he makes his approach. Zain's dark eyes narrow slightly and as though considering all possibilities, he makes the decision to tuck a thick envelope into the inner pocket of his coat. Once it's secure, he pats his front, making certain that everything is smooth and without telltale lines.

"Mister Kallis, Mister Arrowood," he greets with the faintest wisp of a smile as he avoids the intrusive nose of the dog by side stepping and then slinking backward. "The two of you are looking quite well this evening." Then he lifts his chin toward the crowd. "Business is good?"

Twelve years ago, Odessa Knutson sat at a harpsichord in an underground facility, blissfully unaware of the horrors going on above ground, completely detached from the world and its suffering. Today, Desdemona Desjardins sits at a table tapping out a melody on the keys of an imaginary piano. Any such instrument in Staten Island has long since been dismantled for firewood, she reckons.

A gunshot goes off not necessarily too close for comfort, but close enough to be an annoyance, prompting the bottle brunette to vacate her much-coveted seat in favor of weaving her way through the crowds gathered.

Yes, it’s good to be alive. Even if this place is a shithole. Even if every answer she finds creates a new hydra of questions. And, it happens, she’s just spotted her dealer. Maybe she can make an exchange for something to make this celebration a little brighter.

Memorials were not something Lucille found herself attending often, preferring to grieve in silence and alone usually or through putting herself or someone through their paces physically. Which is what the Wolfhound operative is coming back from, a bout of spars at the Crucible. Her approach to the growing “rager” is slow and the expression etched on her face neutral as she pops her knuckles idly as she stops to take a look at the rambunctious crowd before her.

There was a time when Lucille was the party animal, since high school and on but recent years have left her more guarded, introverted. There was just too much shit on her mind.

A brief look to her bike stashed behind a large pile of debris and before Lucille can do what she rightfully should have done which is hop back on this bike and allow these people their way to celebrate life and death, the auburn haired woman picks forward sliding into the spaces between people as the crowd grows thicker around her. Pale blue eyes take in the sight of the Arrowhead man and his associate. Lucille frequented Staten enough to know of them, they also probably had the best drugs in the area. A fingerless gloved hand grips the edge of the jet black asymmetrical blazer that covers the rest of her dark and loose clothing. Just five minutes to peek she says.

Remarkably, it isn't Rex that gets the side-eye from Eugene, but Zain. It's a long-delayed response as he finishes his beer and throws the bottle to shatter on the street. “Well hey diddle diddle, if it ain't Mr. Auction.” That was, admittedly, months ago. But Eugene hasn't forgotten being turned around at the door for his lacking attire. “What's got ya’ll out here… socializin’ with us wild animals?”

At that, he Eugene looks over to Rex and finally snatched that flask up. Eugene May have pounded that skunked Coors Light, but just because he isn't willing to waste beer doesn't mean he's above mystery flask. Without even so much as a sip, Eugene knocks it back.

The slow, sweet burn of scotch is what meets Eugene’s palate. The joint that the man didn’t take is offered instead to Zain, though Rex’s lips curve up in a smirk as he watches ‘Mr. Auction,’ doubtful he’ll take it. After all, he once lambasted Rex for smoking in an Hermes scarf.

“Well, it could be better, now that you’re here, darling,” Rex says warmly to the Brit, crossing his ankles where his feet rest on the front bumper. “Is there anything you’re looking for tonight?” He takes a slow drag and glances around, looking at the others gathered nearby, a sweet smile for anyone he can call a customer, though his smiles never quite reach his heavy-lidded eyes.

The eye that isn’t covered by a bejeweled eye patch is quick to spot Keira’s cousin. With a smirk, Keira slips out of her spot on the tailgate of her truck, leaving her rather large Boerboel dog to watch over the vehicle; two of her men flank her as she weaves through the crowd, flask in hand.

Lucille will feel an arm slipping around her hip, accompanied by a familiar voice, “Cousin, I didn’t expect to see you out here.” Keira slips close beside her cousin, a grin on her face as she offers the flask. “Come sit with me. I have a good seat, some good burgers, and a beer with your name on it.”

Keira doesn’t wait for an answer, gently tugging the cousin she does get on with toward her spot. Her two bodyguards look on, quietly following the women back.

The arm that wraps itself around Lucille gets a tight grip and a pressure point pressed upon until she hears the voice, “Keira,” she can't say she's surprised to see her cousin here of all places, it is good that the relative doesn't expect for Lucille to be here. Perfect really, the taller of the two looks over at the shorter and smiles faintly though rarely have the smiles she's given reached her eyes as of late. Waving off the flask and giving the two bodyguards a once over before she begins to walk steadily to where Keira is hanging.

“I'm good,” because she isn’t hungry and Lucille getting drunk around.. these parts just seems like a bad idea. For the people on this island, that is. At least tonight.

She's not ready to be the head of the family but it would seem the universe is hellbent on teaching her how to be. Step One, you check in on the family and so with a quick look upwards and a quiet word in her mind for her mother Mary, Lucille leans against one of the cars instead of taking a seat. Rex is given a look from this far away, See you soon. “You’ve been doing well for yourself I see,” again slyly eyeing the muscle as she stretches and bends her wrist from tightness from the exercise she had earlier been about.

"Tonight is the night for socializing with one's comrades, wild or not." Zain's gentle reply to Eugene is given as he takes the offered joint from Rex's fingers. He looks down at it for a moment, not quite sure about what to do in the situation but peer pressure. In the end, he takes a very small and very experimental puff of the spliff before passing it back.

Then he nearly doubles over in a coughing fit.

"Oh that's good," he squeaks between hacks and fist pounding to his chest. "Smooth." It's not, but he's trying to keep up a friendly acquaintanceship with the gentlemen, not the dog. Its nose is still being avoided as though it's been touched by the plague. Given the state of both the man and the beast, it might actually be. Plague virus doesn't come out of wool, lamb or otherwise.

Keira seems unconcerned by her cousin’s kneejerk reaction to being touched — Lucille is family, after all, and her guards (and dog) wouldn’t let anything get too far. She leads the way over to the truck, scooting up into the bed and reaching back to give the enormous Boerboel a pat on the flank. “Get my cousin a soda,” she asides to one of the body guards, who complies rather quickly, producing a nice cold can for the woman.

The remark about doing well for herself is met with a slightly pleased smile. “Doing as well as one can out here,” she replies, glancing over to the food truck. “I have electricity at my base of operations, so it can’t all be bad, right?” She smirks, lifting her own beer and taking a swig. “How’ve you been, cuz? Been a while since I saw you.”

The one-eyed woman produces an expertly rolled blunt and a lighter, offering it to Lucille.

The cough from Zain draws forth a laugh from Rex, and he takes a long drag of his own joint, waving off the hand trying to return the gift to him. “You need it more than I do,” he says, though not unkindly.

“Vitamin K over there trying to poach my customer,” he says wryly with a nod over in Keira’s direction, eyes narrowing just a little. Lucille’s glance his way is met by another of Rex’s cherubic smiles, and he pats the lapel of his coat to indicate he’s got plenty of fun for her once she finds him.

Eugene has been quiet most of this time, watching a brunette moving through the crowd with an attentive stare. He recognizes the company that Alister Black keeps, he's even made a list of them. Numbered. Content to let her go for now, Eugene pulls his attention away from Odessa and languidly regards Zain and Rex from his perch atop the truck’s hood.

“Ya’ll seen hide n’hair’a Buddy? That little shit’s been ditchin’ me since that South African hooker bailed off the island.” Eugene says with a slide of his tongue over his teeth. “Ain't no skin off my back if he's plowin’ that field. Better'n her sucklin’ on Black’s teat. Better’n what I’m…” he trails off, looking over to Zain, then back to Rex.

Taking the soda without opening it, Lucille nods her head in thanks and comes to stand near to the group that has amassed itself around Keira. "Base of operations?" The question is asked lightly and with a casual look of the "bodyguards" in her vicinity. The joint is waved off, "No thanks." She hadn't smoked weed in ages, there were other substances that she felt more familiar with. A slight flaring of her nostrils as she levels her breathing before a light shrug at the questions, "Work is work and life is full of… surprises." There had been quite a few.

The soda is stashed in a pouch on Lu's waist, for later maybe before the ride back to the hotel.

Rex's face is spied upon over yonder and Lucille dips her head in greeting, she'll stop on by soon. The operative shifts her stance to have a wider view of the going ons of the party. "Are you some head honcho? Pablo Escobar."

“I run a business. We have our fingers in a lot of pies, including food,” Gesturing to the food truck, Keira grins over to her cousin, tucking the blunt away behind her ear when it is refused. At least Lucille got some sugar and caffeine. “Feeding hungry mouths, you know.”

Her eyes skim the crowd, briefly landing on Eugene and his company; she notices Rex’s gaze on her, and flashes her own charming smile his way. Then, her attention is back on her cousin. “How’s Uncle Ben doing? Keep meaning to stop by and say hi. Bring him some scotch.”

Eugene had been considering Keira for a while, under the glow of the aurora lights mixed with bonfire orange, when he finally leans over to Rex and speaks in a more conspiratorial tone than Rex is accustomed to. “That girl? She used t’run with the toughest fucks in Humanis back in the day. Bill Dean, the Irishman, Khalid Sakada. The kinda’ people who blew up museums an’ shot up police stations.” He tips back Rex’s flask one more time before offering it back to him.

“S’weird that she’s gone soft, from the looks of it.” Eugene adds of Keira, quietly. “But here she is, runnin’ her mouth on our turf, tryin’ t’run a good, honest young otter like y’self outta’ business.” Eugene cracks a wheezing laugh and brings his voice back to a conversational level before asking Rex, “Y’wanna roll her up in a rug an’ dump her in the fuckin’ Hudson?”

“Haven’t seen him,” says Rex of Buddy, but he leans in for that information about the other dealer in the vicinity. His eyes narrow on her a little as he considers Eugene’s words. He takes back the flask, tipping it back for a swallow before offering it to Zain. Maybe the man will like his scotch better than his pot.

“Only if it’s that ocelot rug with the piss stains Black’s always yammering about,” says Rex, grinning. “Otherwise that seems like a waste of rug, when you can just tie her to a slab of concrete. Wonder what happened.”

The Scotch is definitely better and after a swallow to get the taste of the rest out of his mouth, Zain follows the gaze of Eugene and Rex to set his eyes on Keira. He gives off a bit of a sniff and shakes his head, "I doubt her produce could come close to yours. She is running a weiner truck for criminy's sake. Your customers come for not just the quality of your merchandise, but your class."

He tugs on his scarf to bring it up to his chin and ward away the cold. "If you need a dock to push her off of, though, I'm certain Mister Black could accommodate. He's got enough space to spare, and apparently Johnny Law doesn't seem to bother him as much as others."

"That is good of you," a nod to her cousin as she details her "work" but knowing what she knows of her family.. and this here island having run wild on it herself before. The idea of her business makes Lucille pause and look closely at the shorter woman. She's not one to judge, she had to do what she had to do once as well.

"Dad.. is," Lucille looks down at her fingerless gloved hand and it takes her a moment but her father values his privacy, "He's actually doing really good. Amazing actually." That she can even say that is a surprise that can get her emotional if she isn't aware of herself but today she is extra// aware of herself, her surroundings. The Lucille who lost her cool and had feelings of anxiety back then is no more, she had to remold herself into a better woman or at least she strives to be, "Speaking of Ryans, what name do you go by on this here island with your charitable operation?"

“Keira Fionn to these douchebags out here, since it’s what they already know me as,” the woman replies, making a sweeping gesture with one hand. She does notice the eyes on her from Eugene’s truck; she gestures for one of her men, whispering something into his ear. Keep an eye on the traffickers — they look irate, and nothing good has ever come of fellow criminals giving the woman the stink-eye.

“To everyone else, I’m Keira Ryans. Would much rather be known by my dad’s name than my drug addict mom’s name, even if I haven’t met Brick yet.” She purses her lips at that — obviously not meeting her father isn’t something that she has chosen.

She tips her chin up in the direction of Eugene and his crew. “They’re giving me the stink eye like they think I’m up to something. I take it you know them,” she murmurs to her cousin, with absolutely no judgement in her tone — what Lucille does on her own time is (mostly) none of Keira’s business. “If so, make sure they know I’m just your cousin. I really don’t feel like having to kill human traffickers tonight because they went and got the wrong idea.”

Though a new face would certainly be nice — especially with the job she has coming up.

Having wound her way through the crowd, Des saunters over to Eugene's pickup truck and the men there. "Hey, Rex," she greets smoothly with a coy smile. "Looks like it's a party, huh?" Staten Island doesn't really do somber. Not like the mainland does at any rate. She tips her chin up to Eugene and Zain in greeting. Their reputations are such that it's more than worth knowing at least who they are.

"I don't suppose you've got some green on you that you'd be willing to part with?" Brows filled in by brown pencil raise in question. "I appear to be under-equipped for this scene." Though she's at least got a flask of Margaux's vodka in the back pocket of her fraying black jeans.

"Good. I kept the family name away from this when I was running around Staten with Lexi." She missed that crazy redhead, a mentor of sorts in the very beginning of her really growing up. "It was all crime this and running those guns until some psychos blew up the shop I worked out of, nutcases." Lucille takes another look over at Keira's "competition" sizing them up.

"I know them yea, hard to miss many of the high ro—" Lucille pauses and tilts her head doing a double take. The hair wasn't the exact same shade of brown.. the glasses.. well girls at Old Lucy's were always changing their appearances, masters of disguise. Mostly to hide from stalker patrons but still. Joy. Or Odessa Price. Whichever she was going by nowadays. That article confused her, she knew this woman. She wasn't.. a traitor and yet..

There was a choice there for the young woman but something told her to follow that feeling in her gut, she had thought she wanted to talk to the woman and hear what the fuck was actually going on. Could those things be true? This was her friend. "I'll be right back," said absently as she leaves Keira's group with a slow pace to the group of Arrowhead Inc. Lu might have slightly different hair but Odessa should know her, would know her. They mopped floors together at Old Lucy's, you don't forget that sort of hell and who you went through it with.

"-Joy? What the fuck is that you?"

The arrival of an unfamiliar face at Rex’s side and the conversation building up around them has Eugene leaning back on one elbow, reclined across the hood of his truck, watching the exchange. Fishes for a mostly crushed pack of cigarettes in his back pocket and starts to light one, casually observing Odessa and Rex while the block party rages around them.

Keira can’t help but flinch a little bit as she mentions that — she obviously hasn’t mentioned her involvement in that one, and she plans on not doing so any time soon — something tells her that to admit as much would be akin to committing suicide. She knows what her cousin can do.

As Lucille wanders off, Keira shrugs quietly, turning to one of her men and mumbling something in his ear. Then, she’s slipping off of the bed of the truck, pushing her way through the crowds…toward Buddy and company. He’s not a threat to her yet, so she may as well at least introduce herself.

Behind her, Tanith and a tall fellow follow quietly, ready to be backup if Keira needs it. “Eugene Arrowood,” she greets the man as she approaches his truck, hands shoved into her pockets. “Keep seeing you around, and your name is on a lot of lips. Figured I would introduce myself and see what the big deal is.” She offers a charming smile to the man.

“It is now you’re here,” says Rex with one of those sweet smiles for Des, and he pats his lapel to indicate he does in fact have some green. “Four for twenty and I’ll even light one up for you, unless you’re looking for a larger variety,” he murmurs, quieting, though when Keira approaches on the heels of Lucille.

“It’s Vitamin K,” he says brightly enough, reaching to drape an arm around Lucille as she gawks at Des, then murmuring something in her ear. “What, Zain and me don’t merit a hello? I feel positively brokenhearted.”

“If’n you could all keep your tongues out of my asshole,” Eugene says as he motions toward the nearby rooftops, “all that hootin’ out by the water means the show’s about t’start.” There wasn’t promise of a show, and yet Eugene seems convinced that there would be one. There’s time enough for muscling in on one-another’s turf, time enough for hate and memory, time enough for regret and opportunity. Right now, on a day that made this world what it is so many times over, the Rookery looks to the sky.

For fireworks.

It isn’t much, not like what Yamagato Industries did around Halloween, but someone had to buy all those contraband fireworks Keira was selling over the summer. That person? Eugene Arrowood.

As the small pops and sizzling crackles of store-bought fireworks rise up over the crumbling roofs of packed tenement buildings, as the music bellowing from the truck’s radio echoes down the streets, there’s a small sign that no matter how far things come and how greatly things change there’s always an opportunity to find some scrap of normalcy. Quietly, Eugene smiles as he watches the small fireworks go off. Even monsters can have their good days.

Even dens of iniquity can have a moment of silence.

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