(2018-03-20) Doomed
Doomed
Summary: He doesn't stand a chance.
Date: 2018-03-20
Related: None
Player Characters: Eddie, Ida

----—-| Uppercase Books - Central PA |


The dream of a modestly endowed bibliomaniac, this store is filled with rows of disparate shelves that both stand alone and line the plaster walls. Two heavy Beaux-Arts windows - eight-foot-wide half moons - face the street so that glimpses of the outside world can filter through the gaps. The books are all second hand, restored with professional skill or just tape and a prayer.

A large Tiffany-style globe lamp hangs from the main roof beam, providing a dim golden light. Stronger spots of illumination can be found in the little reading nooks and crannies scattered throughout, mostly old-fashioned banker lamps. The seating is worn and patched armchairs and sofas of the overstuffed, rolled-arm, tufted leather type. Most of them are placed on third-rate Persian carpets as if to protect the handmilled wood floor despite its rough appearance. Similarly a runner rug goes from the front door to the counter, this last an incongruous IKEA specimen with a faux-vintage cash register.

In the corner to the right of the entry, a tightly wound wrought-iron spiral staircase leads down into the dark. A scrollwork sign hangs above it, stating 'Underground Coffee'.


It's a beautiful day. Late afternoon, and the city's traffic is just starting to hit its peak as people try to make their way home in time for dinner. The sky is a beautiful deep blue up above, shading towards a hazy lavender along the horizon, mountains and sea both the same shade of indigo and white.

In the bookstore, the sunlight streams in through the big windows in vibrant rays, tiny dustmotes adding a gilded sparkle to the light. It is quiet inside, and the further and deeper you go the shadier and darker it gets, the shelves blocking out the outside world until the ubiquitous little reading lights really do become necessary. It is quiet in here, away from the hustle and bustle, with most of the days customers either long gone or not yet present. Over by the cash register a single employee is slowly going through a stack of newly arrived books, inspecting them for damage.

Ida is curled up in one of those overstuffed leather sofas, content as a well fed housecat while reading a heavy looking tome with various types of blades on its cover. There's a radio over by the counter that is playing faint music. Something moody and rythmic, with guitars and drums and tambourines.

"I thought you already knew everything about knives. You really ought to get a second hobby," Eddie suggests, appearing from between the stacks with a pair of coffees from downstairs. You really aren't supposed to have them up here with the books, but the guy behind the counter seems pretty absorbed in his work. He made sure of that, with the stack he brought in with him out of his personal collection. He sets one down beside her on the sofa, one of her chocolate monstrosities, and he goes back to examining the shelves. Thanks to her he has a little bit a backlog of personal reading material, but every once in a while you'll find a first edition in a place like this, and with him on the outs with Tyla he could use the money. So far, no luck.

The coffee gets a smile in payment, and Ida unfolds a little bit to sample the treat. "Mmm. That does hit the spot. Thank you, darling." She licks her lips clean of the whipped cream, then leans back against the leather again, eyes a little heavy lidded. It is a restful sort of place. "But you flatter me. In terms of handling blades I am quite good," like how he is 'kind of decent' at investigation, huh? "but there is a difference between practical knowledge and this type." She yawns, stretching to her full length for a moment that makes the couch out of some erotic advertisement for boots and skirts and hosiery, then curls back up again. "It is nice to have a quiet moment. Any news on your end?"

With stripes and spotted feathers, a storm of sunny weather
She smiled as if forever high

There's that darling word, again. Eddie's still not a hundred percent on how to deal with that, and he looks at her sidelong from his place at the shelves. He picks the exact wrong moment to do it in, and nearly loses his grip on the copy of Rabbit Run he's pulled down for inspection while he fights to keep his head from swiveling. "One day I'm going to find a seat you can't do that in," he says, slamming it shut and jamming it back on the shelf, "maybe a beanbag chair." He never did get around to checking what printing it was, but it was only in Good condition, anyway. "Me and Bea made up. She was real happy at all the joy she brought into your life, pulling that stunt she pulled."

But in her eyes were embers of memories long dismembered
Of sparks so clever tempers rise

Is she laughing? Ida is hiding her mouth behind one elegantly (of course) draped hand, and her monochrome eyes reveal little. But they are a little narrowed, tilted up at the corners. And her shoulders rise and fall a few times. She could be hiding a cough attack. When she speaks, her voice is a little strained, but the smile to the tone is clear. "Do you remember the futon incident? I mean, if that is the intent, by all means. I shall have your office providing nothing for seating but beanbags chairs by tomorrow." She might be serious. But then the mention of Bea, and the teasing is put aside. At least, briefly, for now. For a different kind of teasing. "I am happy to hear that. Oh and I took the liberty of hanging a little air freshener from your rearview mirror." Her tone is way, way too innocent.

"Sometimes you take too many liberties," Eddie says. He tries to say it like a joke, but he's not completely successful. His mouth twitches downward in a regretful little frown, here and gone, and the invisible weight he carries around on his back all the time seems to get a little heavier. He lets it sink him to his knees, so he can occupy himself searching the bottom shelves for a new book. "Anyway, I couldn't forget the futon incident if I tried. I might be Winter, but I've still got a pulse." He runs one long gray finger along the spines and lets it pick something out at random, pulling it out. 'I Love You Honey, But The Season's Over'.

He reads the back and inner covers, and fools around on his phone for a minute. Flip-phones aren't the best way to browse the internet, but he's figured it out, more or less. Only twenty-five dollars on Ebay, but he sets it aside as a keeper anyway. Maybe he likes the subject.

She lets that wash over her, icy waves crashing against the dark warm shores of her lounging place. Ida spreads her arms, curling one under her head to prop it up, the other up and out to caress the back of the supportive couch. "That is good to know." About liberties? About pulse? The pause lingers, as outside the afternoon steadily spins towards early evening. The blue skies have darkened to that mood indigo, and the setting sun turns the bookstore's windows into artwork of funeral pyres and gold.

So he made to understand her in all her grace and grandeur
While flames that only fan her, rise and fall
And though the fire burned them, he raked the coals and turned them
The steady breath of learning, rise and fall

"I think I see another like it further in the back, there. By your right shoulder. Second shelf from the bottom, hidden behind the other books. Looks to be the same color of cover, at least." She gestures, a little smile still haunting her mouth.

"The music in this place," Eddie mutters under his breath. He glances back at the sofa, then follows her gesture, dancing his fingers across the shelf until he finds the one she's pointing at. He pulls it out and snorts a laugh, and holds it up for her to get a better look at. 'Smithsonian Birds of North America', the leatherbound collector's edition. Very Good condition, with just a little of the gold trim around the pages flaked away, and probably worth a pretty penny. He weighs it in his hands, the gold owl on the cover staring back at him, and he nearly sticks it back on the shelf. "Oh, what the hell," he finally decides, setting it down beside his other find, "They'll get a kick out of it at the birdwatcher's society, and Dolores has a birthday coming up." He's still attending meetings, apparently.

That gets a laugh from her too, then Ida oohs a little bit. "That is actually rather handsome looking, yes. It will make a nice present. Was Dolores the one who brought that death by chocolate cake last week? I admit I mix up their names, still." She is paying attention too, it seems. "That is some interesting luck of the draw. I suppose if I point somewhere else the next one might be a cursed tome." So of course she does, stretching her arm, twisting and turning before pointing in another random direction. "Bottom shelf, I think maybe two steps to your left? I see an orange spine with 'Detectives' in yellow, and it looks like a statue of justice below it."

The radio's changed its tune as if in response to Eddie's comment. Guitar strumming, sweet and clear, with what sounds like crickets in the background.

Once upon a time in a kingdom ill-defined
A dark-eyed prince sat sideways on his throne
And he cast aside the thoughts of his princess long and lost
And decided he'd live principally alone

Outside evening continues to grow, and there is now a few people coming and going through the door, heading down to or up from the Underground Coffee to get a bite to eat and something warm to drink. Still, not much love for books tonight, and so the duo remains undisturbed back amongst the shelves. The tall Fairest is smiling over at Eddie, waiting, the hand beneath her head idly toying with her magnificent hair.

So he built himself a castle made of stumbling blocks and bricks
And he filled the mote with crocodile tears and other tricks

"To celebrate that red-flanked bluetail I spotted," Eddie nods, "I didn't have the heart to tell her it tried to kill me. Checkmark's a checkmark, I guess." He isn't grumbling about the music anymore. This song seems more his speed. Leaning over and trusting Ida's luck, he pulls out a copy of 'Detectives Europe & America Secret Service Murder Gambling Crime Mystery'. Despite the lurid title it must have been gorgeous, once, but it's seen better days. The leather is cracking and peeling away in places, and the pages have come half-loose from the spine, despite the best efforts staff has given towards its restoration.

But he forgot to build the doorway, he forgot to build the gate
So he had to build a catapult just to knock the wall away

"You planted this," he says, handling the fragile thing with near reverence, "you must have." He looks back over his shoulder, watching a few of the dinner crowd make their way downstairs. Once he's sure there's no mortals watching, he sets the book down on the carpet, and drags his palm slowly down the failing face of the thing. When he lifts it away, the tome is a thing restored, pages crisp and white, leather as supple and orange as the day it was bound, almost shining. Even all the dust caked along the pages and the little water stains are gone.

"I never touched it, cross my heart. Possibly someone may have misplaced it, almost as if it were intentionally, squirrelled it away amidst the vast swollen flanks of the Oxford English Dictionary and Encyclopedia Britannica," Ida idly muses from her position, but her eyes are shining. "Though what would possess someone to do that, only to then return it here? Most strange behavior. As if they were somehow talked into it, for some reason." Her eyes track a nearby bookstore employee who walks past at a stiff, too-casual pace, and the poor man's face reddens. He looks away, then scurries off towards the back room.

And he'd venture out at night, bejeweled and erudite
And he'd ride from town to town and farm to farm
And he'd laugh at all the sheep and at the company they keep
And he'd burn down all the churches and the barns

"Do you like it, then?" She almost gives up the game there, but does not seem too bothered. Quietly happy at his reaction, and she makes another soft 'ooohh' noise at the little bit of magic. "That is lovely."

"It is," Eddie whispers an agreement, though it's not clear if he's talking about the book or about the thing he's done with it. He's never pulled that trick before, at least not that he can remember. Reversing decay usually goes against his principles, but he seems proud. It's a strange look on him. The closest he usually comes is smug. He lifts the book carefully, like he's still afraid it might fall to pieces. When he opens it it makes a little cracking noise, like it's never been opened before. He skims through the pages, absorbed, as the music goes on in the background.

So he swore upon the crown that he'd melt desire down
And he boarded up his windows and his eyes

Some nagging little thought occurs to him as he flips through the virgin pages. He tries to dismiss it, but he's never been good at that, and with some reluctance he finally closes it up again. He looks up at the Fairest on the couch from his position crouched down on the floor. "It's swell," he says, "but I've still got all those you gave me to get through. I was thinking, well," his eyes dart back down to the book, and back up to her, and he holds it out sort of like an offering, "You sort of seem to like detectives. Or would it be too much like getting your wife a bowling ball for Christmas?"

But he still could hear the sound of the rain upon the ground
And he still could feel his face against the sky

There's that smell of a brand new book, too, rising from those virgin white pages to disturb the air. Like the laughter of children at an old people's home, alien yet not unwelcome. Ida sits up straight, putting her feet on the floor to reach out and accept the book. Her smile lights up the room. "I suppose I am somewhat fond of them, you might be right. But you do realize what this means?"

And how the birds and how the bees, they each took turns upon their knees
And how the "Take me if you dare to" turned to "Thank you if you please"
And how the nectar in the flowers and how the flowers on the vine
They'd turn his blood from fever into honey-juice and wine

"You will have to come over to my place to read it. And that is quite the thick book, it may take a lot of visits." Her smile is deepening, dimples coming into view. Trouble written all over her, you could almost reach out and touch it.

And he knew that it was true, in the crumbs that nature threw
And that ever-after always ends the tale

Oh, Christ. What has Eddie gotten himself into? Even when he realizes the position that he's in (physically, prostrate before her, like a man proposing or a man in prayer; metaphysically, doomed) he can barely bring himself to panic. "I guess," he says, gathering himself up off the floor along with his other books, "we had better get started, then. It'll be over faster, that way. C'mon, let's get these rung up. I've got a little store credit coming my way."

And that somewhere in disguise there was a girl with lantern eyes
Who could fill the darkest shadows with detail

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License