2019-03-19 - Into The Store


Three people walk into The Store

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Wed Mar 20 00:08:58 2019
Location: The Store

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Theme Song



Tuesday evenings tended to be slow- even at a place like The Store which, in all honesty, tended to have at least one or two people inside at any particular hour. Sometimes they were tourists who got lost. Sometimes they'd heard about this place that had been here since the 60s, and was run by an actual dead person.

Some of them had been regulars for years, and just came for a nice coffee and a bit of cake, or to listen to some rare records.

Like most days, Dead Girl was lounging on one of the chairs, reading an old comic she'd found somewhere in her own store. "Wow." she says, "They don't write them like this anymore…"

Elmo had been explicitly invited, and although he didn't know exactly where it was, he's not a native New Yorker for nothing. He knows how to follow that big nose of his. So he shows up, bundled in a peacoat and scarf, for it's cold and rainy. Stepping inside, he attempts to brush raindrops from his hair. "Uh, hi," he says to Dead Girl, a little nervously. "I met ya when you were at Rockefeller with ya cart."

The Store. A place packed with oddities where nothing is for sale and no money ever changes hands. It's the kind of place where truly odd things turn up from time to time and thus, it's the kind of thing that is both useful and dangerous to someone with an ear to the ground for the weird, the wicked and the wonderous like Koa Turner.

The door opens to admit the fairly tall, sandy haired man recently off work and in a light blue collared shirt with the sleeves rolled up. On his left arm is a bracer that resembles a coiled serpent with a head at each end, he has a messenger bag slung behind him and his coat is draped over his right shoulder. It's slightly damp.

He waves toward Dead Girl and Elmo as he moves into the 'stacks' of things scattered about with seemingly little care for what is where. That's part of the charm of these kinds of places.

Also the difficulty.

"Hello there." He calls out in a friendly fashion.

Not long after Elmo and Koa enter, a diminutive dusky skinned woman follows, carrying a tool box and looking a little lost. "Uh, hi, I was looking for … The Grange? Do you know where it is?"

There's nothing particularly remarkable about her, though there's lines of ink that can be seen beneath her cuffs. "They've a wardrobe door they need fixing…" she adds.

The Grange is on the other side of town.

Dead Girl looks over the end of her comic, beaming brightly to Elmo as he appears. The whole place is warm and welcoming. It feels homey and comfortable, despite being designed for people to wander around in for hours and get lost amid stacks of books or records or just odd things that had been collected over the years.

"I don't bring the cart out so often anymore. Used to be a real thing back in the seventies." she says with a grin, "Welcome- make yourself at home. If you're hungry, there's a kitchen over there. Make yourself something to eat. Or, I do have a nice Hungarian goulash going in the pot on the oven. Help yourself to a bowl. There should be some fresh bread in the oven, too."

Just smiling bright to all those who come through. "Oh, The Grange is on the other side of town, but you can use the phone over there if you'd like!" It's an old rotary phone, of course.

"Or, you can have something to eat!" she says, still smiling bright towards Keiko.

And Koa, she just offers a peace sign. Dead Girl- the dead girl of New York City. The walking corpse who's been there in the city since the 60s.

Elmo smiles back at Dead Girl, hesitantly. "It was real neat. I, uh, I brought somethin' for you." His eyebrows go up at the offer of making himself food or partaking in the already-available food. "Uh, thanks, maybe I will?" Like he's not sure what he's going to do.

When Keiko and Koa come in, Elmo looks over at them. They're very interesting-looking and he takes a moment. "…You mean Hamilton Grange?" he asks Keiko. "Yeah, it's across town."

"Whew…" Koa waves his hand in front of himself as if he's shooing away a fly. The air is thick here and the proprietess - or at least that's who he assumes the peace sign flashing, comic reading woman to be - is at the center of it. Possibly the source?

"Dead Girl isn't it?" Koa calls out as he moves with something of a purpose through the stacks looking at an item here, a record there. This is a generally good place to check but he'd heard… oh! Is that it?

The voice behind him has him looking. "Oh! Keiko isn't it? No more trouble with snakes I trust?" Oh yeah. She's lost. Very, very lost. It might be a good idea to make a call.

"Aha…" Koa lifts up a piece of yellowed paper with spidery hand writing on it, scratched with what looks very much like a quill or an old style dip pen. From what can be seen at the angle he's holding it at it's titled 'A Vision in a Dream: A Fragment'. Or at least, it's partly titled that.

"You do have have some odd things here Dead Girl. You usually take… what was it. Stories? Forgive me it's my first time actually here." Now Elmo, standing nearby also has his attention. "Ah, hello. Don't think we've met. I'm Koa."

Keiko blinks at Koa "Snake guy, right? Koa …" as she puts her toolbox down and fumbles to get her phone out. Absently she rubs one of her arms and frowns, looking down at the phone. "Hamilton Grange, yeah" There's some tapping on the screen and they can see a map appear. Not an interactive one, a static one - like an image.

"Are you sure it's the other side of town? I could swear I was in the right place." Anyone who cares to look will see she's oriented the map upside down.

"Something to eat?" That finally permeates Keiko's attention. "Oh. Yeah. Keiko. That's me. I guess I'm going to be late to my appointment…" She'll have to call them, soon. "Uh. Hi."

"Ooh. A Trade!" Dead Girl says as she hops up from where she was lounging, "We're always up for a trade, as long as the thing is worth trading." she notes with a beaming smile. "I mean, everything in here has a story, you know? Whatever you trade can't just be some junk you took off the street." she notes, "It has to *mean* something." she explains, "And, ideally, the giving of it should help you move forward, just as whatever you find here should help you move forward." she explains, still beaming bright.

"Well, something has to come in for something that goes out. What that thing is, though, depends on what is being asked for." Dead Girl notes, "I mean, a lot of things come into here and have great stories. And some things never leave, and somethings never stay." None of that really makes sense.

But, DEad Girl is a walking a corpse, so there's always that.

"YEah, help yourself to something to eat, kitchen is over there." Dead Girl points towards the Kitchen, smiling still. "Nothing is for sale, but I do like stories. The things should be important, like I said."

Elmo's short and thin and has a magnificent beak of a nose. His accent is distinctly New York Yiddish, with a hilly up-and-down cadence that's fun to listen to. A little Mel Brooks, if we must be honest. He studies Koa nervously. "Hi. I'm Elmo. Your, uh," he taps his bony wrist to indicate Koa's bracers, "those are real cool." Then, because Keiko obviously needs help here, he cranes his neck to catch a glimpse of her phone. "Ahh, okay, that map's inverted. Twist it around." Elmo makes the gesture in midair. "…Wait, is that just an image? Well, it's still inverted."

Taking a plain cardboard jewelry box out of his peacoat pocket, he sets it on the counter in front of Dead Girl. "Yeah. I wanna give you this, because…yeah. What you said." Inside is a pair of cufflinks, each shaped like a book lying open.

Elmo has already covered the map being upside down so Koa doesn't say anything. He is rather quietly amused but if you're not from the area that's a pretty easy thing to do. Though… what with it being a static image one would think that perhaps the writing being oriented the wrong way might have been a clue. Either way, at least she can catch a meal before she has to go on.

"Maybe come on over after you're done getting the goulash, Keiko. Stories are always good for folks like… us." And maybe he can get a closer look while she eats that goulash. Ghoulash? That's probably not a joke he wants to make here… so he doesn't.

"Nice to meet you Elmo. And yeah, it's kind of nifty. One of a kind so far as I know. Got it in Egypt…" There's a story but not the one he intends to share. Instead he watches as Elmo brings out those cufflinks, listening as he dips into his own pocket and places a single, old and corroded copper coin on the table. The shape of it is irregular and the stamp on it doesn't look like its in any modern language. The whole thing screams 'ancient'.

Keiko's accent is difficult to pick. The type of 'mutt' accent that one might pick up if you travelled a bit. Or if you associated with a lot of different nationalities. "It's an image, yes." Keiko blushes, twisting the phone but still frowning. Why she isn't using an interactive map, given she actually has a smart phone, is probably a very good question.

"I'll, uh, work that out when I leave. I normally muddle through." The phone is slipped back into her pocket before anyone else might want to snicker.

"Something of value for something of value. The balance must be maintained." shrugging a little helplessly, she glances down "All I have is my tools, my bike and … " Rubbing her arm as she rolls a sleeve, the dusky skinned woman peers about "This isn't just a normal shop, is it?" She's quick. Gotta give her that.

Over to the Counter, Dead Girl goes- taking a look at the cufflinks. "Hrm." She nods slowly, taking a slow breath. A memory of breathing as she lifts the cufflinks and nods. "I see. Very interesting." she looks at them closely- looking at imperfections, at scratches, at how the items have been treated.

All of those things tell a story, after all.

"What are these to you?" Dead Girl asks of Elmo, a gentle question, "What do they mean? Why do you want to give them away?" she wonders next.

She looks over to Keiko, smiling still. "This is The Store. Established 1963." she offers, "Nothing is for sale." She explains, "Most people don't bring anything to trade, to be honest. And it doesn't have to be a thing that's traded. Sometimes the story is good enough, or sometimes I have work to do and someone can trade their skills for things if they so desire." she says over to Keiko, smiling- eyes falling next on the old coin. Head cocked to the side as she looks at it- just as curious.

Elmo rakes his fingers through his curly hair. "Well, uh." He hadn't anticipated having a larger audience for this story, and he goes tense, clearly considering just grabbing the cufflinks back and bolting. He swallows. "Okay, uh. I was going to give those to, this, guy. Who I was dating. First guy, first anybody, I ever went with, and," he laughs a bitter, anxious laugh, "the last, so far, too. He loved books. And I didn't get the chance to give these to him. Broke up. And…I don't know what else to do with 'em, they've just been hanging around and I can't return 'em, they're custom, and I wouldn't want to give them to someone else, and I can't just…dump them…so, they're yours." He's red, flustered, and ducks into the collar of his coat.

Being clinical about this it makes sense that Elmo's story is a personal one and Koa feels a liiiiitle bit bad for embarassing the man. He's curious though. And he's quiet for a long moment, not wanting to take anything away from the weight of what he's saying to Dead Girl.

So instead he answers Keiko's question. "It's always open and nothing is for sale. Strictly speaking. But no. Not a 'normal' store. Then again… it is run by a corpse. No offense Ma'am." Due deference to the proprietess of course, though it depends on your definition of sale. Certainly if you're of an economical mindset you could view the stories as standing in for currency. And since they have to be stories of value…

After a long moment he realizes he's kind of holding things up.

"This story is true." Naturally but the way he intones it suggests a sort of ritual or formality, as if the statement is part of the story he's telling. "A long time ago, so long ago that the memory of it has faded from the earth, there were a people in the part of the earth we now call Mongolia. Their rulers were called the Daeva and they were terrible and cruel. When they were finally defeated, there was little of them left to be found until, not too long ago, someone found a book. The book was a complete chronicle of the entire Daevite civilization and it had the most wondeful, most terrible property. Any staining fluit, anything that could be used for ink, that came in contact with it changed the story within, and what is more those changes became real. Archeologists would discover new sites, new relics. Eventually those with the power to do so realized that the book was pushing the story of the Daevites forward by hundreds of years and if that were allowed to continue, this cruel people would eventually catch up… to where we live today. So they locked the book away, but the mark of it remains. This coin was found at one of those cities, created thousands of years ago, and yet not existing until just a few decades ago. It came into my possession as a reminder that sometimes it is not knowledge we pay for, but secrecy. And that reality… is sometimes what we allow it to be."

"Goulash sounds good. I haven't had a decent meal in a while. When it's just yourself, it's take out or something easy to heat." When Keiko's not getting lost it seems. "Maybe there's something here that requires repair and you'll permit to trade for that? I'm not sure any of my stories would be that valuable."

She's silent as Elmo shares his story, looking politely at the wares and giving the poor man as much privacy as she can.

Koa's explanation gets a slight nod from the woman. "I can … feel … the energy that has gathered here." His story, and the coin, has her interest though "Where did you say you found that?"

"That's a good story." Dead Girl says to Elmo, "Remember, after you've traded them to me you can't get them back. All trades are final." she says, as she opens her hand and offers The Store to Elmo. "I want you to find something here. Something that speaks to you, and take it with you. Something that will bring you forward." she smiles still, bright. "That's a really good story." Dead Girl takes the cufflinks, and then moves over to a glass case and opens it. She puts them inside- there's a lot of little jewelry like that. "Just so you know, records are not typically for trade. And nothing that is in a glass case is available for trade, unless you *really* want it." she says, next, smiling still. "And the cufflinks here, aren't for trade. At least not for ten years or so."

Dead Girl looks at the coin, next- listening closely to Koa's words and story. "Interesting." she offers as she picks up the coin and looks at it closer with those glowing red eyes. Turning it in her corpse-blue fingers. She rolls it across her knuckles- testing it's weight and feeling. "Okay. But you'll need to tell me why you want to give it up, Koa." she offers to the man. "Why would you want to give up that kind of reminder?" she wonders as she puts the coin down. The Trade isn't complete, it seems.

Dead Girl smiles over to Keiko. "Food is free." she explains, "You can come every day for free food, hun. I never turn anyone hungry away. Anyways, I don't need to eat anymore, and I love to cook- so someone's got to eat the food I make."

"The trade is more… a different thing. I mean, you'll probably look around here and find something you like..and we can trade." she says, smiling still.

"I'll take the coin- but you need to finish the story sometime." Dead Girl says to Koa, next as she puts the coin in the same glass case as she did the cuff-links.

"Once you've finished the story, then the trade is complete. For now, we'll keep the coin here. You can have it back if you don't feel you find anything that speaks to you." The rules are always changing!

"I don't want 'em," Elmo says, relieved as Dead Girl takes his offering. "Just…hate to see 'em go to waste. Now they won't." His smile at her is honest and open. Then he quiets, himself, to listen to Koa's story. "Wow," he mutters, impressed. "That's way better than mine. Like. Way better. Hey, you into archeology? I got a friend you should meet."

He says to Keiko, "If she liked my dumb story, she'll probably like any of yours. You need to get to a site? You want a lift?" He kind of eyes her smartphone, which isn't being used as if it's smart. "Seems like you're havin' some trouble operating that thing."

"Symbolic." Koa smiles a bit as he folds up the paper he has very carefully, seeming unconcerned with its age or potential fragility and tucks it into his wallet. Those standing around might see an ID card in his wallet that defintiely says 'Agent'.

"You have something here that probably needs to be kept safe. And secret. And knowledge is the price we pay for secrecy." So, he's giving up that reminder. It, at least, isn't dangerous.

"Oh I don't think your story was stupid Elmo. I'm just curious what you thought to find that would move you forward. And yes of course I'll finish the story. I hope it has a happy ending."

He says that like he's not sure yet.

"Found? At a souk in Syria, years ago before Syria became really, really dangerous. I was looking for something else at the time."

Keiko shakes her head to Elmo and jerks her head back out to street. "I do, but I've got my bike. I'll need that to get to my jobs tomorrow. I'll just apologise tonight and reschedule." The reference to the phone has her sighing. "I have trouble with all sorts of tech …"

It's a little warm in here so she shrugs her jacket off, revealing tattooes of animals covering her arms.

"I don't know. Maybe if I find something I need, I'll share one and see if it suits."

"Syria …" Keiko tries that word out, brow furrowing. "As Elmo asked, are you an archaeologist, Koa?"

"Oh yes, I am. Well sort of. I help museums autheticate and aquire artifacts amongst other things. This means that I have to travel some and do interact with the professionals at digsites. Sometimes I even do the digging myself, depending." Koa smiles. Of course the 'Agent' probably means he also does other things.

"Less about finding something, more about gettin' rid of something." Elmo shrugs, hands in the pockets of his coat. "Just…kinda hung up on the guy, I guess. Every time I see those damn cufflinks I gotta think about him, you know? Now I don't gotta." The set of his shoulders has gone from tense to more relaxed. He raises his eyebrows at Koa. "Artifacts, huh, I definitely got to introduce you to my buddy Grim. He's all about that kinda stuff. …What's a 'souk'?"

To Keiko, he holds out his hand for her phone, asking, "Can I see it?" What he can see are those tattoos she reveals, and he studies them, curiously. "Those are real pretty."

"Open air market. Same thing as a Bazaar." Koa smiles. "And sure I'm always happy to meet someone who is in the buiness. Speaking of, what business are you in, Elmo?"

Keiko seems to be in the handyman business. Koa has seen her tattoos before but he agrees that they're very, very well done. And he's seen what else they do.

It kind of makes him… hungry.

The tattooes are all animals. A grey wolf, a mystical looking black dog, a spider, an eagle. There's others as well. They are rather pretty and incredibly life like.

"Thank you… they're like old friends." Keiko answers quietly, rubbing her arm again, she hands over the phone. It's not high end but functional. Amazingingly perhaps, the screen isn't cracked. "I'm just not very used to using them … uh, the phones I mean." the

Elmo takes the phone and messes with it, getting into Google and calling up a map of Manhattan faster than it takes the time to tell. He sets the Grange as the waypoint, more or less for the hell of it. "Eh, a lotta people have trouble with it," he says absently to Keiko while he does all this. "Nothin' wrong with that." He hands it back to her carefully, so they don't accidentally contact each other. "My business?" he says to Koa, raising his eyebrows, bemused. "Fixin' stuff. Makin' trouble."

Keiko watches as Elmo fiddles with the phone, letting out a sigh as she see's the maps appear. "It's like black magic to me. Doing that …" she's grateful though for him being so gracious. "Most people just get frustrated that I don't know."

It is unusual, isn't it, for one so young to not have the knack?

"Making trouble? That sounds like my sort of thing. I try to keep my head down though." She notices how careful he is not to touch her. "My tattooes don't bite." she teases "At least, not when they're on my arms…"

Koa folds his arms and watches the other two. "Fixing things AND making trouble. Pretty wide range of skills there. How'd you happen to meet Dead Girl, if you don't mind my asking?"

Koa doesn't know her except by reputation. She's got a file he's read at the place he works. And she's been around since at least the 60's. As to how Keiko found her way here, well that's pretty evident. With an upside down map.

"Don't keep your head down enough to not come fight sakes in central park though, do you?"

"It's not you," Elmo says to Keiko with a crooked half-grin. "Just touchin', it's too loud in my head." His eyes linger on her tattoos, before he realizes he's staring, and looks away deliberately. "Eh, no point in gettin' frustrated with you because you don't know somethin', right? I don't know all kinds of things." He bestows that grin on Koa next. "Yeah, well, you should tell my guidance counselor that, thinks I'm good for nothin'. Met her when she was out with her cart. Had a bunch of interesting junk on it. I like a good piece of interesting junk."

Keiko smirks and draws her hand away, but leaves the tattooes on display. She's used to interest, when the ink is shown. Now that Elmo is closer he can see a Harpy and an Raven. It's an interesting collection to be sure.

Koa gets a look and she shakes her head slowly. "Those snakes needed to go and I was there. Besides, they wanted to spill my beer." And clearly that can't be tolerated.

"Loud in your head?" That's to Elmo. "That must be annoying, really."

"It's real annoying," Elmo admits. "So I, yannow, try to avoid it." He looks between the other two, oddly. "Snakes?"

Keiko glances sideways at Koa, snorting softly. "Spirit Snakes that took a disliking to the Saint Patricks Day festivities in Central Park." It had been reported but palmed off as a group having too much too drink. As so many supernatural disturbances are.

"Me and my friends …" she indicates her arms "… Koa and a woman called Red, decided that it was probably best not to let the party goers get hurt."

Her friends?

"I fix stuff too, by the way. Much better with my hands than tech. What sort of things do you fix?"

Koa taps his nose and gives Elmo a rather knowing smile. "Saint Patrick's day is not popular with various ophidian denizens of the realms invisible. Mostly they just hiss and grumble about it but one took to disrupting a party in Central Park the other day. He's being dealt with."

The Agent glances down to his wallet. "I should probably get what I have here into lockdown though. Let me…"

He places two business cards down on the table. They defintiely do say Agent on them. And also WAND.

"Give me a call if you want to set up that meeting Elmo. And of course either of you if you ever need any help with strange things."

Whistling an odd tune the agent puts his wallet away and gets his coat back on. It'll be cold outside.

Elmo kinda blinks, hearing this story. "Huh. Okay. I didn't think snakes had emotions about Catholicism." He picks up the card, reading it over, then shoots Koa a very curious glance indeed. "Sure thing, pal."

Tipping his head down at Keiko's toolbox, Elmo says to her, "I can tell that you fix stuff. What do I fix? I dunno, everything? Except myself I guess." He shrugs uncomfortably, suddenly awkward over everything. "Hey, I got to—I gotta go too. You sure you don't want a lift?"

"It was Saint Patrick that drove the snakes from Ireland after all." Keiko smiles. "I'm good thanks, now that you've set my phone up."

She'll get lost to be sure, but only a little bit. Maybe.

"Maybe I'll see you around. It was nice meeting you, Elmo." Koa gets a look. Keiko's not sure about him.

The door admits three people back into the cold, slightly damp New York night, headed away from the store and the stories they left behind and leaving in their wake only fleeting shadows.

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