“Only food bought at the Dog House can be eaten at the Dog House …”
July 1, 1988
A week after she’d been arrested in the alley behind G&A Coney Island Hot Dogs, Nieves remained lost in the corridors and paperwork of the Baltimore City Jail’s Central Book warehouse.
At first, Nieves shared a cage with 50 women and two toilets; then a much smaller cell crammed with eight suspects and finally, the night before Basilio got her out, alone with a grandiose drunk named Joyce who believed herself superior to common drug addicts.
“My mother used to talk about Walter Criddle,” said Joyce, standing over Nieves as the Spaniard lay curled up in a corner of the cell. “Walter worked with a lot of booze hounds he called the ‘old chronics.’
“They’d bathe’em, shave’em, feed’em – just skin and bones by the time they got the dirt off of ’em.”
Nieves groaned, kicked her feet.
“Then it was out to the morgue,” said Joyce. “Yep – the old chronics.”
This deal Elisabeth made with Basilio was that he could use her car to pick up Nieves from jail as long as he took her with him.
She didn’t care about the car, a white and rusting 1984 Dodge Aries wagon with two car seats in the back. More than once, she’d thought of rolling it off the end of the pier near the Salvage House at the foot of Clinton Street.
“How do you know about Orlo?” asked Basilio, who’d walked the length of Clinton Street as part of the junkman’s funeral procession a dozen years earlier.
“I don’t,” said Elisabeth. “The lady who lives there now …”
“Nasty woman … weird eyes.”
“Her,” said Elisabeth. “She talked me out of sinking the car.”
“If I could have sunk dickhead’s ride I would have done that instead.”
And then: “What are they going to do to Nieves?”
Basilio didn’t know and he didn’t postulate – What will they do to her – wondering, as he pulled into the Dog House diner across the street from the jail, how much legal representation he might leverage in exchange for an almost-new BMW 535i.