An unmarked police car parked in front of Mr. Craven’s pick up truck. The car rattled and hummed well after Detective Jacovino exited the car and walked up the front steps. Two bone dry bottles of Tullamore Dew laid next to the cooler and Cookie Hill’s dog bowl on the grass to the left of the walkway. The Detective thought to himself, nice, but Stoli orange was his preferred poison. Jacovino liked small ball, old time hockey and Budweiser in a can. His legs were feeling a little like mush after the intensity of yesterday’s hockey game, in which he had an assist and one fight, a goal short of a Gordie Howe hat trick. He played for the NYPD hockey team as well as another team mostly composed of cops in a pick up league. After a long shift and sometimes during a trying one, a shot of vodka seemed necessary, a shot of anything really.
In the center of the dying lawn was a heap of ripped up floorboards, broken sheetrock and puffs of pink fiberglass insulation. There was dirt and tracks of dusty footprints pacing in all directions on the lawn and into the house. The lawn, yellow and bare in spots, looked like it was being punished for something, a barren land mirroring how we all felt lately.
Detective Jacovino was there as a courtesy. The Detective felt sympathetic to the tragedy that befell the Cravens. The Detective recognized how easy it can become for one’s perception of humanity to alter in his line of work. He found himself suspicious of people in most of his interactions with people on a daily basis, especially within a forty hour work week. Trust for him was hard to come by. But the loss that the Craven’s endured stuck with him, and learning about their family throughout the investigation and the forthcoming trial, he saw them as they were, decent hardworking people. He felt bad for Mr. Craven. He found them to be relatable. Ozzy reminded him of his own nephew, another knucklehead. They were a lot like his own family. He wasn’t just going through the motions, it wasn’t even his case though he had a reason to stop by, but he hoped everything was on the up and up. He also knew that in his heart if the same thing happened to his nephew, he might want to drink vodka from the skull of the person responsible. He hoped what he felt in his gut was wrong.
“Excuse me, bud.” Mr. Craven came out of the house as Detective Jacovino was about to knock on the door. “I didn’t see you there.”
“Everything is grand.” Mr. Craven thought at the sight of the Detective that the jig was up, that whatever the boys might have done had been exposed, if they were indeed caught he would confess and take the punishment for them. If need be. If it came to that. It was far too soon so he reminded himself to play it cool. “What happened to your head?”
“High stick. Do you have a minute? Can we talk?” The Detective had an inch long gash on his forehead, some fine handy work on the stitching, and should heal nicely, better than Martin’s had with the shoddy glue.
“Absolutely. What’s on your mind? Come on in. Watch your step. Mind the gap. I apologize for the appearance. We’re in a transitional phase.”
The Detective was confused at the sight of the house, it was in shambles. There was a large hole in the floor, where he could look into the basement and a large hole in the ceiling where he could see into the room upstairs, a poster of The War Report album poster hung on the the wall, Capone -N- Noreage looked down at him. The room was half living room and half dining room, with a table and chairs just beyond the gaping hole in the floor. Viggo snored and drooled, snug on the couch, dead to the world. There were pictures on the wall. Pictures of the Craven boys in DG baseball uniforms, maroon and light blue teams respectively, coated in a layer of dust from the renovations. The Detective sat at the table covered in empty beers, a newspaper and some tagged up mail.
“I got a strange call from a friend in the department. Missing persons. My friend informed me that Carlton Ailse’s mother has been calling him every five minutes since midnight. She’s worried sick that something terrible might have happened to her son. She used the word ‘retaliation.’ I hope no one has done anything foolish. ”
“Before you embark on a journey of revenge.”
“Dig two graves.”
“Well played, Detective. Is the boy a flight risk?”
“Definitely not,” said Detective Jacovino.
“Well, I hope the boy is well then.” Mr. Craven meant no sarcasm but he acknowledged that it came off that way regardless. Mr. Craven was drinking for a while and knew the weight of the situation, it was difficult not to let emotions take hold. “Would you like some coffee? I just brewed a fresh pot.”
“Would love some. Yes, please. I take it dark, no sugar. Thanks.”
“You got it. Give me a minute.” Mr. Craven poured the coffee into two different Mets mugs, and Irished the both of them up.
“You don’t think he left the country?” asked Mr. Craven, as he cleared some mail to place the mugs down and sat.
The Detective took a sip. “Nice touch. Thank you. I don’t. I don’t think he left the country. I highly doubt it but I guess you never know. His mother was adamant he would not leave. Without being insensitive, they feel confident that he will beat the case. No reason for Carlton to skip town. She says that he wouldn’t risk the house.”
“I wouldn’t want them to lose anything near and dear.” Mr. Craven took a breath. “Sorry, Detective. It’s nothing against you. I’m three sheets and haven’t slept for a while. I’ve been working through the night on the upgrade. It’s safe to say I’ve lost more than just a house so forgive me if I come off a little indignant. But I do understand you have a job to do. So how can I help you? You want to search the house?”
“It’s not like that, Craven. I just wanted to see how you guys were holding up.” He took a bigger swig of coffee. “This is delicious. I needed a taste but more importantly what the fuck are doing to your house? It’s a wreck.”
“It’s a funny thing. You know, my son Ozzy was a pain in the ass. He asked me for years if we could install a firepole. He wanted to be able to slide from his room right down into the basement. I always said no. No. No. No. This isn’t a fucking firehouse. But that was Ozzy. I’ve had some time to reflect. When I sit here and think about my son, I think about all the things, little things that would have made him happier while he was still here, things I could have done for him. I was so against it, you know? I mean it’s an odd request and I suppose it’s mildly dangerous to have open holes in your floors. Not that he wasn’t a magnet for danger anyway.”
“Maybe a little. But a little bit of danger is good.”
“I keep thinking about him and the different things he said or did. And the fucking firepole just kept coming back into my mind. It was a bit impulsive but the boys helped. If he can see us right now, well then, I hope he’s happy cause he’s getting a fucking firepole.”
Viggo tossed around on the couch. Martin was half awake in his bed, listening to the conversation between his father and the Detective. Martin had no intention of going downstairs, just the thought of the police being at the house so soon after hitobashira made him nervous. He didn’t trust the Detective, he didn’t trust any law enforcement.
“I’m sure he’s happy. Cheers to that.” The Detective thought to himself, well at least they have established an alibi.
“It’s actually pretty cool. Regardless of my own rivalry with the fire dicks, I think it’s cool.”
Jacovino drank the last of his irish coffee, rubbing his thumb on the raised Mets logo on the mug, “What are going to do about Chipper Jones?”
“Don’t even say that name in this fucking house.”
“Met killer. Imagine if he was a Met with the way he hits at Shea.”
“Yeah, but fuck that. Fuck that guy. Watch he’ll get MVP this year. The Braves are a problem.”
“We have to clinch that wild card and get revenge in the postseason.”
“Dig two graves.”
“True. Well, I’ll leave you to get back to work on your new installation.”
“Yeah. I really hope Carlton shows up. I think he should stand trial for what he’s done. He was probably out with a piece of ass and forgot the time. I wouldn’t want anything foolish to happen to him.”
“Same here,” said Detective Jacovino, shaking Mr. Craven’s hand. “I wouldn’t want anyone to do anything rash that might damage the families involved anymore than this incident already has. If you need me for anything you have my card.”
“I do, thanks. I appreciate that.” Mr. Craven shut the door behind the Detective, he walked back into the kitchen, unscrewed the top of the bottle, and drank a healthy serving of Tully. He stood there and thought, fuck Chipper Jones and that maybe it was finally time for some shut eye.
As Jacovino walked down the steps a little dog greeted him. “Hi, there.” He bent over and petted the dog.
“Leave the man alone, Cookie. He doesn’t have anything for you. Get down.”
“Sorry, Cookie. No treats.”
“You visiting the boys?”
“Yeah. Just touching base.”
“Are you a cop?”
“I am. I’m a Detective. Jacovino. How are you this morning?”
“I’m Mrs. Polito,” she shook his extended hand, and picked Cookie up. The dog licked at her face. “I’d rather be sleeping but Cookie’s has a weak bladder. I live there. The house with the beat up van in the driveway.”
“You close with the Cravens? They holding up alright?”
“I’ve known them all their entire lives. I’ve put bandaids on everyone of their shins. Ozzy was a good boy. That house is now full of nothing but sadness.”
“It most certainly is.”
“Did you happen to see them last night?”
“Yeah, they were tearing the house apart. Is something wrong?”
“Quiet, Cookie.” she shushed the dog. “What does that mean?”
“Apparently they are having some problem locating Carlton Ailse.”
“I could spit at the sound of that name. Karma?”
“I don’t believe in karma,” said the Detective.
“You don’t have to believe in order for things beyond our control to be real. It’s not up to you.”