It's one of those evenings where all the things on the shelves have been straightened, there's nobody bustling about in the aisles, and winter is making it just chilly enough outside that not many folks are out and just wandering.
Which is why Alexandra is being Incredibly Industrious and is entertaining a large, fluffy Maine Coon with a feather on the end of a stick, which he's batting and chirping at. It's one of her primary duties here at the store, don't you know?
The chime above the door jingles as Petra shuffles into the shop, muttering, "Cold cold COLD cold cold," and then steps further in to close the door behind her. "It's cold," she notes unnecessarily, and doesn't get around to taking off her gloves yet. "Hello!" she adds brightly.
Alexandra looks up at the jingle of the door-bell, which Machiavelli takes as his cue to snag the feather and try to make off with it. This time, however, the shopkeep manages to keep a grip and grins down at the cat as he initiates a tug of war. "Evening! And it's only a little chilly out," the woman behind the counter laughs before gesturing towards the little coffeepot she's set out near the cash register, "There's coffee if you want, or you can wait a bit and I can brew some tea? I figured you southerners aren't as used to the chill as I am."
"I'm not even a southerner," Petra says sadly. "It's just that cold is so ... so COLD!" As if on cue, she shivers a little. "Coffee sounds wonderful, tea sounds wonderful, it all sounds wonderful. Because it's HOT. Hot and DELICIOUS, hopefully." She steps closer to the cash register, giving the cat a thorough eyeing but not actually going into Kitty!Theatrics of Inanity.
Machiavelli is a suitably fierce specimen, roughly half-again as big as your average housecat and bulky. And currently attempting to yank his toy out of Alexandra's hands. Hah, have at you!
"Feel free to snag a cup, you look like you could use it," the shopkeep continues to grin, propping her hip on the edge of the counter. There's a little stack of paper cups near the coffeepot, which has been set to 'keep hot' mode, as well as a little thermos of milk and an actual sugar-bowl with a spoon. She probably found that last bit amongst her wares. "What brings you by, anyhow? Just coming to have a look around?"
"You have old stuff," is Petra's very serious answer. She actually does sound interested, for what that's worth. She grabs a cup and pours herself a nice tall cup of coffee, which she doesn't doctor in the slightest. It gets blown over to cool it while she finally takes the time to look around the shop. "Heeeey, this stuff is cool!"
Alexandra can't help the laugh at Petra's enthusiasm, finally releasing the toy to Machiavelli's tender mercies. Which means he promptly loses interest and leaves it lying there on the floor as he begins to wash his face and forepaws. Silly mortals. "Well, yes, that's what an antique shop usually carries," Alexandra grins and comes out from behind the counter, leaving the dropleaf up. "I've had a surprising number of youngsters coming in looking for gifts since I opened her back up. It's nice."
Silly mortals indeed. For Petra's part, she's fascinatedly looking about, though the books catch her eye the most. She's looking for odd, quirky titles, since those are the sorts her eyes seem to stop on the most. "This'd be a great place for gifts, yeah. What kinda stuff do you have trouble keeping in stock, and what stuff can you barely manage to ever sell?"
"Well, the jewelry tends to cycle fairly quickly," and Alexandra gestures to where several old jewelry-boxes are laid out in one corner of the store on one of those old beasts of a vanity-set, the sort with three mirrors. The books seem to run the gamut in terms of genre, everything from old nature-documentation to "bodice-ripper" romance and even religious tomes. "Not many people seem interested in the cast-iron furniture, though. I'm not sure they realize it's for sale." Like the somewhat ornate stool in front of that vanity, done all in black iron. She shrugs, "But really, anything's as likely to sell as another. Everyone has something different call to them, I find."
"Yeah, I could see that-- especially about the jewelry. It's kinda timeless stuff, for the most part, and often people prefer it older and more ornate than the clean, plain stuff people sport these days." Petra smiles at some of the titles -- particularly Trade Routes of the 1500s for some reason, and then makes her way over to the jewelry, picking at it idly. Here, the Rule Of Petra Interest seems to be, the shinier the better. "So business is good, then?"
Alexandra nods, bending to pick up the toy Machiavelli was so interested in before and now is apparently ignoring with a passion, "Good enough, certainly. I wouldn't say it's anything extraordinary, but I certainly can't complain." In the jewelry boxes is, almost literally, a little bit of everything. A heavy signet ring that's clearly sized for a man sits right next to a delicate bracelet that's little more than carefully twisted silver wire holding clear gems just big enough to sparkle, "And I've even had a couple repeat customers, which is always nice."
"Repeat customers, already? Pretty fuckin' sweet. Well, I can see why. Ya got nice hospitality, nice wares, the whole nine yards." Petra picks at the jewelry with the same interest she had for the books, if even a little more. Several pieces are lifted out of the box and inspected carefully, though none are kept out as though she has intent to buy. "You liking Albuquerque so far?"
Alexandra shrugs with a bit of a smile, once again leaning her hip against the counter, though this time out on the floor side, "Can't complain too much, though it's warmer than I'm used to. Poor Mac was shedding fit to drown someone when we first got here," and the Maine Coon is tickled at with the stick-toy, earning a disgruntled look before he gets up to stalk off into the shelves with a flick of his tail. Thou hast been Snubbed.
"Though I admit, that 'Zone' place I've heard mentioned makes me nervous. I can't imagine a city getting that bad off, really." The shopkeep shakes her head, grimacing, "Even the bad areas of town back home weren't like /that/."
"Yeah, that's why I don't own pets. All the-- the shedding and the shitting and the whining. I'm not owning a pet unless and until it cleans up after itself, or I hire someone to do it for me." Petra's lips curve up into a little half-smile, and she finally takes a sip of that coffee, having now deemed it cool enough to drink. "Yeah, the Zone's not someplace you wanna go wandering into without like, heavy arms. Rest of the city's a paradise in contrast. Though there's people trynna clean it up, bit by bit."
"I'm not sure what I'd do without Machiavelli, really," Alexandra smiles a bit wryly, looking after where the cat wandered off to. "I've only had him a couple years, and already I can't imagine him not being around, y'know? And I've met a couple that actually work in there, run a pawn shop." Shaking her head, the older woman sets the cat-toy on the counter and starts idly fiddling with a few of those tiny ceramic animals that old ladies seem to go nuts over, straightening them on their shelf. "Seems like a crazy level of risk, to me."
"Oh yeah-- I think I know that couple. Trace 'n Deacon? Yeah, they get all sorts." Petra shakes her head, vaguely amused and chagrined all at once. "It is a crazy level of risk, if you don't know what you're gettin' into. Somebody that doesn't know how to fight, doesn't know the Zone... they try something like that, and they're going to end up robbed at best. But, y'know. If that's the kinda life you know, then that's what you stick with, yeah?"
"Oh, you know them?" Alexandra leaves the little ceramic beasties alone, wandering back over to stand near Petra, just in easy conversation range, "Yes, Deacon at least strikes me as the sort not to have trouble with that sort of environment." She shivers and shakes her head, "Not my idea of a restful neighborhood, though. I'll stay out here where it's mostly safe, thanks."
"Yeah, I know 'em. They're interesting, to say the least." Petra grins, leaning up against the jewelry counter and taking a long sip of her coffee. "Assuming we're talking about the same couple that runs a pawn shop. Could be there's more 'n one. These two are pretty distinctive, though. He talk with like, a Russian accent?"
Alexandra nods, "Yes, that's him, Trace's husband." Then her lips quirk to one side and she gestures vaguely at Petra, "How about you? You said you haven't been here all that long yourself, what do you think of the city? Anything I should know about besides which cabbies are good?"
"Heh, that's a loaded question if ever I heard one," Petra says, still smiling. She frowns though, as she more seriously considers the question. "It's a good city-- got good people in it, trying to be cool. But it's also, you know. It's like there's the Zone, yeah? Stuff like that. Unhappy shit. You just gotta find the diamonds in the rough, y'know? You gotta find the good shit among all the shit shit, and you gotta find it 'fore you get too fed up."
That lopsided smile turns into a wry sort of a grin, "Before you get too much shit on you, hm?" Alexandra's tone is a bit teasing, perhaps poking at Petra's choice of words as much as the sentiment behind it, but she doesn't start in on a tirade about language. "I've already seen some of the good things, here and there. And I'm used to looking for things that are hard to spot. You could say that's what got me into this line of work, in a way."
"Exactly!" Petra says brightly, as though she hasn't caught the play on words whatsoever. "And yeah, that does seem like the kinda thing that'd getcha far in this line of work. You gotta keep searchin' til you find the good shit. One man's trash is another man's treasure, and all that shit. I mean, people will surprise you, if nothin' else. Some o' the best people I know are like, cabbies, security guards, pizza delivery drivers, you know. Normal stuff, extraordinary people."
Another nod, and Alexandra waves a hand at the row of old soda bottles behind the counter, "Like those things. Every day, more of the same are just thrown out by people that don't even think about it. But someday, to some person, they're worth a great deal, for whatever reason." The woman laughs and shakes her head a little, "Really, I've got some things sitting in the back that I'm not sure anyone but a hardcore collector or eccentric would bye. Miss Harkness had some weird things in stock when I took over."
"Exaaaactly!" Petra says, really warming to the topic, though it's the mention of truly hardcore collector items that perks her up the most. She sets down a piece of jewelry she'd been idly fiddling with and grins toothily. "Please tell me you're gonna let me lookit some o' that stuff. I am nothing if not eccentric!"
"What, you have a thing for small animal skeletons?" laughs the antiquarian, then shrugs and moves back behind the counter lazily, "Most of it's just kind of odd. Little things that aren't worth much, but are kind of neat just by themselves. Like, well..." She bends to rummage under the counter a little, then comes up with what looks like, at first glance, a flower. But a closer look would reveal that the petals are old, almost translucent silk, and the stem is fine wire, "Like this thing. Nice enough, but what are you going to do with it?"
"Small animal skeletons are fuckin' awesome!" Petra possibly predictably responds. Also, alliteration! The flower catches her interest immediately though, and she bends over the counter a bit to just lightly touch the edge of one petal. "I dunno, that's pretty cool if you ask me. I'm not sure it's exactly what I want to buy, but... you know. I like the things that others don't."
Alexandra nods, "Exactly. I've got some things in the back room which are fascinating, but I don't think are really sellable. This is only back here because I'm afraid it'll get damaged if I leave it out on the floor, it's that old." Indeed, the petal under Petra's finger is more like tissue paper than cloth, and the older woman sets it back in its hiding place beneath the counter after a moment. "But things like that, wooden dice, a mouse-skull carved out of cement... oddities. Kind of fascinating, really."
"Wooden dice like... like d20s? Or like just regular, you know, Monopoly dice? This mouse-skull cement thing-- can I see that? I might actually buy something like that. It's a talking piece, if nothing else." Petra really and honestly does seem interested by these items. That or she's a damned good liar, trying to make nice. "This is some great stuff! I'll bet you could find buyers for some o' this, even if I don't. Lotta odd people in this town."
"Heh. If you wait here a sec, I'll go grab them," promises the shopkeep, and heads for the door back into the Employee's Only room. There's a bit of a wait, but not a bad one, before she emerges again carrying a cardboard filing-box, which she sets carefully down on the counter and rummages in a little. The concrete skull is placed on the counter, being small enough to easily fit in the hollow of someone's palm, and a small handful of wooden six-sided dice are soon poured out nearby as well from a little leather cup, "Like I said. Little things that I'm just not sure what to do with."
"You should give this stuff its own corner," Petra advises in all seriousness. "You know, like an oddities section. I, for example, will totally buy this fuckin' concrete skull, cuz that is pretty much the most awesomest thing I've ever seen. The dice'll likely appeal to games-oriented people. I'd buy 'em if I weren't so fixated on this damned skull. And that flower has 'win' written all over it." The skull, she picks up and eyes closely, looking tickled pink with her potential purchase.
The little concrete carving is a delicate thing, obviously the work of much care and time. Really, if it weren't for the obvious stone texture and weight, it could practically be the real thing. "You really think so? I wasn't sure if there'd be any interest in them, really." She grins at Petra's obvious fascination with the new find, idly twiddling one of those dice around on the countertop with a fingertip, "It's nice to see I'm not the only one with odd tastes in hobbies."
"You are most definitely not alone," Petra says firmly, her eyes focused on the carving. Finally, she nods her head approvingly, setting it down on the counter. "And I really do think so. A spot for, you know, the really cool but strange things in life. Like, those old clothes you had out there, but the really gaudy stuff, you know? People like that stuff, only they often won't admit it. But if you don't judge them for it, they'll buy."
"Hm, you could be right," muses Alexandra as she scoops up those dice, pouring them back into their cup before setting that back inside the box. She picks up the skull and grins, holding it up and wiggling it playfully at the other woman, "You know, I'm honestly not sure how much to charge for this? What say you make me an offer."
"Oho. Make an offer. As though the grace and beauty of my presence were not enough? My wit, my charm, my lovely company? Alexandra, you wound me deeply." Petra doesn't look wounded of course, though she makes a good showing of it. "Okay, okaaaaay. How about, hm. Twenty-five buckaroos? I'm not sure what it's worth, to be honest."
Alexandra smirks at the bemoaning, and makes a show of starting to turn away, closing her hand around the little skull, "Well, if you're /that/ perturbed..." But the opening bid stops her, and the smirk pulls into a grin, "With how taken you were with it, and how delicate the worksmanship is, I'd say at /least/ forty. Not counting tax." The game's afoot!
"Aw, no. Why you gotta be like that?" Petra bemoans, eyes following the skull as Alexandra starts to move it away. And then when the price is upped, she can't help but laugh, though she aims to look stricken. "Okay. Okay. Forty. But no more than forty! Not even a penny more!" Only, there's just something about the way she keeps eyeing that thing that suggests she'll be happy to pay forty, and probably more.
Perhaps noticing that avaricious gleam in Petra's eye, Alexandra holds the little skull out to one side, just to see if the girl watches it and not her. Like a bird caught by a shinything. "Forty before tax, done!" Is that what you agreed to? But then she's ringing up the sale, and grins over at her latest victim, "Cash or credit?"
Petra does, indeed, watch the skull and not Alexandra, though then she has the peace of mind to look away, embarrassed. She rubs at the back of her neck, shrugging, and looks pretty well happy about her purchase, forty plus tax and all. "Cash," she answers, drawing her wallet out of her pocket. It's pretty well stuffed with cash, so that may help explain why she's not too bothered about such an expensive purchase. Of a concrete mouse skull, no less.
Another laugh, and the cash gets stuffed into the drawer and a receipt printed out. "You want a bag for it, or are you going to fiddle with it all the way home?" Alexandra teases, holding the little thing just out of easy reach of the other woman. Though one supposes Petra could try lunging across the counter and making a grab for it, but that'd be silly. She's still got her coffee, after all.
"You taunt and you tease," Petra says sadly. "But one day. One day your customers will rise up against you. And lo, THERE WILL BE A RECKONING!" she mock-pouts, shaking a fist dramatically. She does not, in fact, lunge across the counter, but she at the very least pretends to consider it. Then, she has a nice calm sip of coffee, as though she hadn't just done that.
Snickering, the antiquarian sets the little carved skull down on the counter and takes her hands away as though worried she might lose fingers if she isn't fast enough, "Alright, alright, I didn't expect a sort of Spanish Inquisition. Call off the uprising."
Right on cue, Petra exclaims, "NOOOOOO ONE EXPECTS THE SPANISH INQUISITION!" Thankfully, she does not in fact launch into the entire spiel, but you can tell she's thinking about it. Instead, she cheerily lifts up her carved skull and gives it a good eying. They've been parted for too long! "Thanks!" she says brightly.
Alexandra cackles at the shared joke, then apparently decides to go back to the earlier topic of conversation, before all this rampant silliness broke out, "You'd better be careful, though. If you like little weird things that much, you might end up spending way too much money when I start digging through the Weird Stuff shelf." She leans an elbow on that box she pulled out, "I'm honestly not sure where Miss Harkness got some of this stuff."
Rampant silliness must be crushed before it spreads! "I like this partly because it's tiny," Petra says, and of course needs to give the thing another good eying. "Weird plus tiny equals win. Weird and unwanted and tiny equals double-plus good. And yeah, I dunno where you'd even get stuff like this. You knooooow... it seems like you and Trace 'n Deacon could get a good trade goin'. Like, people come in to bring you something too 'new' for this shop, you send them there, and vice versa. I mean, you aren't going to find pawn shop clientele that're wanting something like this skull, but you're not going to get antique shop clientele that want a modern television set, most likely."
"Hm, possibly. Depends how willing the sort of people that would come in here would be to go someplace like the Zone," and Alexandra grimaces a bit, clearly somewhat disquieted even by mentioning the place. But then she shakes her head and smiles a bit fondly, "Deacon actually bought one of the coke bottles. It's why there's a gap on the shelf, I haven't gotten around to resorting them yet. I might not bother."
"True, true," Petra says with a nod. "Well, perhaps as a side to that, maybe you two could come to some kind of business arrangement where if they come across something that's better for your place, they'll sell it to you at whatever cost they got it at, and vice versa. I mean, obviously you'd hafta get to know each other better for that to work, but... you know. It could work." She looks over to the coke bottles, grinning. "I could see him likin' those, yeah. He's a pretty cool guy."
"He's... interesting, yes." Normally that sort of pause might suggest interest in beefcake, but Alexandra's expression is more thoughtful than anything, and that slight frown is turned to that gap in the row of bottles. But she shakes off the mood and grins a bit lopsidedly at Petra, "There's been a little talk of that, or at least peripherally. Apparently they've got something at their shop they wanted some help getting appraised. I'll probably give it a looking over when we can get our schedules to agree."
"Mm," Petra agrees, and much like Alexandra's pause, her 'mm' is more of the thoughtful variety than the hubba hubba kind. Alas for Jude Law! "Appraisal's good. That's a useful skill I should really learn. I dunno what I'd use it for, but you can never have too many skills, or too much knowledge, y'know? You never find yourself going, 'Gosh, I wish I hadn't learned how to cook shrimp' or 'Gee, wish I didn't understand this math!'"
"I find it's good to have at least a little knowledge about everything you can find, really," agrees Alexandra, nodding. "Even just for this shop, it's been a great help that I know how to sew, how to deal with cleaning solvents, what's needed to get what kinds of stains out of what materials... You'd be amazed when that little bit of knowledge comes in handy. Even something like knowing that you can use Coke to clean the junk off car-battery terminals." She laughs a bit at herself for that one, "You pick up some strange things in college."
"Man. I need to learn how to sew!" Petra says with a laugh. "And how to get stains out of materials! Damned if I know that one. I would really like to know how to get blood out of clothes." Pause. "Nono, I hunt. Like, deer. Currently I just keep one pair of clothes for hunting purposes, and if they get wrecked, you know, no biggie. But it'd be nice to know for the future."
"Generally, scrubbing at the bloodstain with hydrogen peroxide does the trick," is the ready answer from Alexandra. "Can bleach the cloth if you overdo it, though. If it's a fresh spot, scrubbing under cold water is usually enough. Sometimes it helps to put salt in the water, too, but make sure it's /cold/. Hot water will just set the stain worse." Her grin pulls up on one side, eyes crinkling up at the corners, "You learn something new every day."
"And I've learned my new thing for the day, SWEET." Petra actually pulls her iPhone out of her pocket, starting to (presumably) take notes on how to solve her bloody clothes issue. "Thank you," she says brightly, and puts her phone away again. "I got a huntin' buddy will like hearing that, too. Seems a shame to just toss out a whole set of clothing when it's totally fixable, y'know?"
Alexandra nods, "Basically, just make sure not to heat the stain, either when you're trying to wash it or when drying it afterwards. If it's been set for a while, though, there's little you can do except bleach the whole works. Best to get it when it's fresh." Lecture apparently completed, she folds her arms and leans against the counter again, "I've never been hunting. Up in Massachusetts, there's not really much room for it, even if I'd wanted to."
"It's..." Petra shakes her head, searching for the right words, and comes up with, "...it's a rush. I mean, it's really a test of your skills, y'know? You against your prey. They want to live, you want tasty supper. You gotta not be a dick about it, o'course, and all that, but it's pretty fuckin' sweet."
"I can imagine," the older woman nods. "We once had to live by a much more primal set of rules than we do now, and part of us never really forgets that, I think. Just one of those things about being human." Then she grins, "Though really, I'm not sure what I'd do even if I did end up with a dead animal. Another thing I never learned. Dealing with the things you can get from one, sure, but the carcass itself?" She shakes her head, then laughs a little, "Listen to us, someone walking in would think we're crazy or something."
"Exactly," Petra says, nodding her head. "It's primal 'n shit, just like you say. And yeah, I had no idea how to deal with the thing once I was done killin' it, but my huntin' buddy taught me. And I'm pretty fuckin' amazing at it, notgonnalie." She gives a toothy grin at that, no hint of self-doubt. "Y'know... if you do get interested in checkin' it out, you oughta talk to Damian about it. He can setcha up."
"I'll certainly keep it in mind," Alexandra promises, not looking daunted or even squeamish in the slightest. "I've mainly been busy getting this place set up properly up to now, but things seem to be steadying in nicely. I'll have to start sniffing around the town, see what I can find. Even if it's just a good place for takeout."
"One word of advice, though: if you're planning on joining us sometime, do some jogging, some sprinting, that kinda thing, if you don't already. Cuz we don't hunt with guns." Petra then looks about the room appraisingly, nodding her head. "Yeah, the place does look really well set up. For takeout, I dunno a good Chinese place, but the best pizza joint's Pizza Palace. Ask for Joel if you want the best service. And... hm. You might like Treasure Town. That's a thrift store in town. You can sometimes discover some good finds there."
Alexandra does look a bit daunted at the bit about getting in shape, "Goodness. Well, that'd certainly give me a reason to go out running more often, I suppose." The businesses being listed off brings a smile to her face and she nods at each, "I'm lucky I ran into you like I did, you're being a marvelous help getting me settled in."
"Running is awesome!" Petra says, and flexes her nonexistent bicep muscles for no obvious reason. "A lotta people I know like to go runnin'. You ever wanna run, you gimme a call at the shop. Or hey, I could give you my email address, if I didn't already." The compliment makes her wave a dismissive hand. "Pssssh. I just like showin' off my world-class city knowledge. It's World. Class." Another flex of the muscles for that.
"Sure, I'll put you in my list," snickers the antiquarian as she tugs her own smartphone out of a pocket, thumbing through the icons until she gets to her contacts. Once she's got Petra's information noted down she clicks the device off again but just holds it for now, not bothering to stuff it back into its pocket just yet. "You'll have to bring some of your friends by someday. If any of them like oddities the way you do, I might have to change my business."
"Changing people's business and gettin' all up in their bidness is MY business!" Petra says brightly, and then taps her forehead. "Oh, that reminds me! You were going to give me some business cards to hand out, if it should come up. I like havin' that kinda thing on hand so I don't gotta find a pen to note stuff down."
Nodding, Alexandra just takes the little stack of cards propped up near the cash register and passes them to Petra, "Here, I'll get more out of the back later." The card's nothing fancy in itself, with the store's name, a phone number and address on the front, and business hours on the back. The front's got a nice, colorful floral arrangement in one corner to try and liven it up a little, though. "The hours tend to wander a little, since I own the place and don't have any employees. Sometimes I get in late, sometimes I stay open late. It evens out."
"I'll let people know that, yeah," Petra says with a nod. She takes the cards and tucks them into a pocket, then smiles. "And now that you've made me spend all my money and I've agreed to hawk your wares, I should really get headed home before you talk me out of my clothes. Not that I'd mind, mind you, but it's such a hassle replacing outfit after outfit because of that."
"And it's a bit chilly to be running around starkers, too," smirks the shopkeep with an eye to the coffee that Petra was so eager to acquire when she first came in. "I'll just have to fleece you for more next time to make up for my giving and soft-hearted nature." Then she grins with a wrinkling of her nose, "Now get going before you spot something else interesting, eh?"
"So coooooold," Petra moans, and sets her cup of coffee down. She did, in the end, manage to drink most of it, but there's a little left over. "Oh god now I have to go back out in it, WHY GOD WHYYYYYY?" she cries, as she heads for the door and out, her calls heard right up until the door closes behind her.