Wednesday, April 14, 2010

East Coast - 3

John McFetridge

(Back from commercial. You didn’t flip channels, did you?)

Part Two is here.

Part Three:

Moncton, New Brunswick – Northup Home

Isobel was in the kitchen, pouring milk on cereal for Herbie and Sam was spreading peanut butter on a piece of toast when Jerry walked in and said, “Can you do the pick-ups today,” and Isobel said, “Good morning.”

She was dressed in her nurse’s uniform, a little morning sun coming in through the kitchen window and she turned and looked at Jerry and he said, “I’m sorry, but it looks like I’m going to be late tonight,” and she said, “You were late last night.”

Isobel put the cereal bowl on the table in front of Herbie and he started eating right away, spilling Lucky Charms all over the table. Six years old and he still couldn’t get the spoon into his mouth.

Jerry said, “Can you do the pick ups?”

“I don’t know, I’m on call tonight, I guess if nothing comes in I can get away.”

“Can your mother pick them up?”

“I don’t know, I’ll have to call her.”

Susie walked into the kitchen and Isobel said, “Honey, you’re not dressed,” and Susie, ten years old and standing there in her underwear said, “My red dress isn’t there.”

“You wear that dress every day, it’s in the wash today, you have to wear something else.”

Susie turned and walked out of the kitchen and Isobel looked at Jerry and was about to say something when Sam said, “Aren’t there any juice boxes,” and Jerry said, “Just what you see.”

Isobel said, “So, you are going to be doing all the extra work, all the extra hours, whether they promote you or not,” and Jerry said, “The work has to get done.”

And she said, yeah, of course, looking at him like she knows he’ll do it and not say anything at work, no matter what happens at home, and he said, “It’s just like at first, when you took over the emergency room, Doc Kovalchuck dragged his feet for a year before he finally officially made you head of the department, but you did all the work.”

“So there is a chance you’ll get promoted?”

Jerry said, “I don’t see it happening,” and Isobel said, okay, and looked at him for a minute and then called, “Susie, are you ready?” Then she said, “Herbie, put the bowl in the sink.”

And Jerry said, “We did fall asleep at the wheel a little with Bergeron and the bad guys did get out in front. We’ll be playing catch-up for a while.”

“That’s not your fault.”

“No, not really, but, you know.”

They looked at each other and, yeah, they both knew.

And then Sam said, “Susie, what up?”

Isobel said, “Oh Susie, come on, really?” And the naked Susie said, “My dress isn’t in the hamper, I can’t find it anywhere,” and Isobel was already dragging her out of the kitchen saying back over her shoulder, “Can you take Sam and Herbie and I’ll get this one there as soon as I can.”

Sam looked at his father and said, “So, where’s my lunch, lunch bag’s empty,” and Jerry said, “Forage the parking lot, graze the soccer field, come on,” and scooped up Herbie and they were out the door.

Moncton , New Brunswick – RCMP Offices

Constable Evelyn Edwards was sitting at her desk in the open concept bull pen talking on the phone, saying, un-huh, okay, right, and then she hung up.
Jerry came out of his office, one of the few along the outide walls, and Edwards said, “He’s meeting his supplier today,” and Jerry said, “In Montreal,” and Edwards said, no, “Just outside Edmunston.”

“Tell him now that he’s becoming such a good customer he’s got to meet the big boys in Montreal.”

Edwards said she’d tell him, but, “He’s not going to wear a wire.”
Jerry said, “Not yet, but he will,” and Edwards said, yeah, as she was getting up and walking out the door.

Jerry watched her go and then saw Ralph Whitney, another narco cop sitting at his desk poking at his computer and Jerry wlked over and said, “Hey Whitney, aren’t you suposed to be watching that fisherman, Clark?” and Whitney said, yeah, “But he didn’t come home last night,” and Jerry said, “So where do you think he is?”

Whitney never looked up from the computer, just said, “Could be anywhere.”

Jerry looked around the room like he couldn’t believe it and saw Alphonse Turcotte coming in and motioned toward Whitney. Turcotte just rolled his eyes and Jerry said, “So how about you go find him,” and Whitney sat there for a minute, thinking about it, before he stood up and said, “Yeah, I guess I can think of a couple places he might be,” and walked out of the office.

Jerry stood there watching him go and Al came over and said, “What do you expect,” and Jerry said, “More than that.”

Al nodded, rocked on his heels a little. He was older than Jerry and he’d found his comfort level running the office, not bothered seeing guys get promoted past him if they knew what they were doing. He said, “You sure?”

Jerry said, “How bad has it been here,” and Al said, “We’ve been making plenty of arrests,” and Jerry said, yeah, sure, “Street dealers, bottom rung guys, nickle and dime crap.”

“That’s our job.”

“We’re not keeping up. We should be going after bigger guys, wholesalers, inporters. What was the biggest shipment we busted in the last five years?”

“Slow and steady wins the race.”

“Come on, we’re so far behind we’ll never catch up.”

Al said, look, “You’re a good copper, Jerry, but you have to play the game.”

“Yeah, that’s what Henry did best, wasn’t it, play the game.”

“The politics are important, you have no idea what he kept us out of.” And he looked right at Jerry and said, “What he kept you out of.”

“Maybe we should have been in it more.”

“Like you’re doing with Edwards and Leonetti, picking up that kid, putting him to work for you?”

Jerry said, yeah, “Going after the big boys. They’re moving in here from Montreal everyday, there’s more product passing under our noses down into the states everyday, going to Boston, New York, all the way down the coast. We know they’re bringing in coke offshore, we know there are some big grow ops here.”

“You think we’re BC now, you think there’s New Brunswick Bud?”

Al was laughing but Jerry said, “It’s not so crazy.”

“Just remember, Henry knew all this, too, but he knew what he was up against. Out there, and in here.” Al looked right at Jerry and motioned a little around the office and then gave a kind of thumbs up and said, “All the way to the top.”

“I know.”

“Do you? Henry had us making good, steady arrests, our numbers were always good, everybody was happy.”

“That’s the problem, everybody was happy, the dealers, the growers, everybody. Maybe it’s time people weren’t so happy.”

Al was nodding then, agreeing but worried. “Just don’t try too much too soon.”

“Anything is better than nothing.”

On that, they agreed.

Moncton, New Brunswick – Hospital

Isobel parked her Toyota Echo and walked towards the hospital, passing by a group of people standing the twenty feet form the door they needed to be to smoke and felt the craving again, something she hadn’t in quite a while, thinking it must be the stress, Jerry working all these extra hours, no extra money coming, no sign of any changes and then she saw someone she thought she knew, an overweight woman wearing track pants and a sweatshirt, smoking and leaning on a wheelchair, a severely handicapped girl maybe ten years old in the chair.

The woman looked at Isobel before she could look away and she was caught. They did know each other and as the woman kept looking at her Isobel realized it was Melody Goodwin so she said, “Hi, Melody?” Making it a question.

“Yeah, Isobel McClintock, right.”

“I go by Northup here, my married name.”

“Wow, it’s been a long time.”

Isobel said yeah, high school, “Long time ago,” and Melody said, “You married a cop, didn’t you?” And Isobel said, yeah, and she almost said, the one who’s going to arrest your son, but she said, “We’ve got three kids now.”

Melody said, “The kids I’ve got. You remember Mickey, I brought him into school when he was born, you remember what Mrs. Johnson said?”

“I just remember what a good looking baby he was.”

“He was freakin’ huge is what he was. Eleven pounds. And I have Madison, she’s out west, and Summer here.”

Isobel looked at the girl in the wheelchair, her head drooping to one side, no real expression on her face and said, “How old is she,” and Melody said, “Eleven,” and Isobel realized that Melody Goodwin had probably been bringing her little girl to the hospital her whole life, the whole eleven years and Isobel’d been working there even longer and she’d probably walked right past her dozens of times and not even noticed her. She’d only recognized her today because Jerry mentioned Mickey Goodwin and brought back all those memories.

Melody said, “The doctors said she wouldn’t live past five,” and Isobel said, well doctors, “What do they know,” and they shared a smile over that.

Then Melody looked at Summer and said, “Yeah, we’ve seen enough of them, that’s for sure.”

Isobel said, yeah, I guess, and then it was really awkward, she just wanted to walk away but Melody was looking at her, saying, “So, you work here?” And Isobel said, yeah, “I’m a nurse, emergency room.”

“You always wanted to be a nurse, didn’t you?”

“I didn’t know there was anything else I could be, nurse or teacher, right? And I sure didn’t want to put up with kids like us all day.”

“That would suck.”

And they were both smiling so Isobel said she’d better get to work if she wanted to keep the job and Melody said, yeah, “I’d better get going too,” and Isobel was happy neither one of them had said anything about seeing each other again.

Though as she walked into the hospital she realized they probably would – as much as they probably had in the past but now they’d have to say something to each other. Shit.

Trans Canada Highway – Degelis, Quebec

Just across the border into Quebec Mickey pulled into the parking lot of an Irving gas station, looking like every other Irving station in the maritimes, big roof over the pumps and a restuarant, Irving the last chain to hold out against putting in a fast food outlet.

He saw the Audi A4 already in the lot, parked a few cars down , went inside and there was Marcel Dagenais sitting in a booth eating soup.

Mickey sat down across from him and said, “You’re early,” and Marcel said there was no traffic, said, “It was an easy drive.”

The waitress came to the table and Mickey said, “That’s okay, I’m not hungry,” and Marcel said, you sure? “This chowder is really good,” and Mickey said, yeah, “I get enough seafood,” and Marcel was looking at him so he said, “Maybe a cup of coffee,” and the waitress said, okay, and walked away.

Then Mickey said, so, “I think I can move more product.”

Marcel ate a spoonful of soup and said, “Oh yeah?”

“Yeah, I was thinking maybe double up.”

“Two a month?”

“That’s what I was thinking.”

“You have the customers?”

“Oh yeah, every one I got now is asking me for more.”

Marcel said, okay, maybe, but, “The price is the same,” and Mickey said, “Yeah, sure, of course,” and then thought he agreed to quickly, he should have tried to make a deal, the second kilo should’ve been cheaper, shit.

The waitress came to the table then and put down the coffee and when she left Marcel said, “Okay, we can do something next month,” and Mickey said, okay, “Great.”

He poured cream and sugar into the coffee, his hands shaking a little, and drank, trying to steady his nerves and said, “I really appreciate you meeting here, you know, halfway like this and everything, but maybe next time I could come up to Montreal, you know, I’m going to be a bigger customer I could get some of that Montreal service.”

Marcel leaned back in the booth and smiled a little, saying, “You don’t have hookers in Moncton,” and Mickey said, man, “Not like you have in Montreal. I still remember that chick, when I got out of slam and partied with you guys? She was something else,” and Marcel said, “Yeah, I guess she was.”

Mickey drank more coffee and tried not to look right at Marcel, but the guy just said, “Yeah, okay, we’ll set something up,” and Mickey said, “Hey great,” hoping it didn’t show how relieved he was.

He finished his coffee and walked back out to the parking lot, walking past his minivan and going to the trunk of the Audi. He opened it and took out a grocery bag and dropped in an envelope, walked back to his minivan, got in and drove off knowing no one noticed anything.

(commercial break)


John McFetridge said...

For me, this is a very interesting experiment and I think you all for putting up with it.

One more installment next week and it's done.

Right now I'm very interested in the length. I didn't add or remove any scenes from what would have been turned into one hour of TV (with commercials).

I guess we won't really know till it's finished and put together as a single story, but what do you think of this length for a story?

Dana King said...

The length seems fine for a story, though I'd probably have to read it straight through when it's done to have a really good idea. Each of the segments has good flow, not too long, not too short, moving things along for the next. I see no reason why that wouldn't apply when reading straight through.

So, you have this Elmore Leonard influence, writing serialized stories, maybe we should start thinking of you as the Dickens of Toronto.