Alexandra - On Darkness

From Masq
Date: Setting:

IC:  10/02/2008
RL: 04/08/2011

Old Friends Antique Dealership


 A glass-frontaged store that looks like it forgot to notice the past few decades. A painted-gold logo on the main front window declares it the "Old Friends Antique Dealership" and a vase filled with flowers has been painted on the front door in bright, cheery colors. A simple awning keeps the weather off the area right in front of the store, and a small windchime has been hung from the frame to tinkle in the breeze.


 Walking into this shop is like stepping into another time. An old-fashioned, spring-mounted bell jingles over the door to warn of customers, and the warm lighting is reminiscent of candles, the air thick with the smell of dusty cloth and old books. Shelves and racks are somewhat haphazardly stocked with all manner of items, with the only commonality among them being that none are of modern make: toys from the days of the Great Depression, clothing from the Prohibition Era, a timeline of soda bottles along the back wall, and books that may not have seen the light of day in decades. An old record player frequently supplies quiet background music, and there are signs that at least one cat haunts the place. In addition, tucked away off to one side, is a small display with a sign proclaiming "Homemade Herbal Remedies" and inviting interested customers to inquire at the register.
 The counter across most of the back of the store supports a fittingly antique cash register, and must have come straight out of some old bar, being deeply varnished mahogany polished until it practically glows, with a sturdy brass foot-bar in place underneath, though no stools are in evidence. One end is clearly designed to flip up to allow access to the back area, and a door behind the counter is marked with a weather-beaten "Employees Only" sign, the former sporting a small pet door near the bottom, the latter a hand-drawn smiley-face in paint.
It's getting late in the day. Most shops are getting ready to close down for the night, the nightlife is well underway, and it's starting to get downright chilly as the year winds down as well. At the antique dealership, things are winding down as well. Alexandra's got some of the lights off, though the door remains unlocked and the sign turned to OPEN, and she's currently sitting behind the counter going through the contents of a box. Some rather odd contents, at that. At the moment, she's squinting at a rat skeleton posed inside a glass display jar with a somewhat dubious expression, tapping a pen against a pad of paper where she's apparently been doing some figuring. Hmm...

Deacon steps carry him along the sidewalk with a cigarette dangling from his lips, hands in the pockets of his leather coat, and head slightly downcast against the chilling wind. At first, it looks like he might be intent on passing by the Antique store, figuring it for closed at this late hour, until he spies the open sign... Reaching for that cigarette he flicks it out into the street and blows the contents of his longs up into the air as he slips inside with a jingling of the bell that hangs above the door to announce arrivals.

Alexandra blinks and looks up as the door opens, clearly surprised, then grins when she recognizes Deacon, "Well, look who's here. Evening Deacon." She sets her pen down and sits up, stretching a little as though she's been sitting hunched over for too long. Which is probably the case, come to think of it. "What brings you by at this hour? I was going to close up shop once I got through with this box."

Slipping his hands back into his pockets, he continues to blow smoke with each breath, until he's fully out from the cold night beyond the glass doors. Stepping over towards the counter he offers a greeting nod to Alexandra and speaks in his quietly accented voice, as impassive as ever, "Was out for walking, saw sign.. If you are closing, I can come back another time, perhaps? Do not wishing to intrude." Eying the box curiously, he glances after a moment to the Antiquarian instead.

"Oh, it's no bother. Nice to have some conversation every now and then. Machiavelli's not much help there," and she grins over at the wad of fur that's dozing on the floor behind the counter before looking back up to Deacon. "Had a customer in the other day that gave me the idea to start digging out some of the stranger things miss Harkness had in the back when I took over." She lightly taps a knuckle against the glass covering that rat skeleton she was peering at, "Like this fellow. Little weird nicknacks that are tricky to price."

Deacon leans over the counter to examine the fellow in question with a perk of his dark brow, "Da, had same situation when Tracey and I taking over Pawn Shop. Many of things in back were not yet priced.." Hands come out from his jacket to motion towards the jar questioningly, "What exactly is it? Besides rat skeleton in jar? Perhaps some relic from American colonists? I swear, they are strangest individuals in what they are wanting to keep.. no offense of course."

Nodding, Alexandra turns the specimen slightly to reveal a little brass plaque on the base, nearly faded to illegibility from time and wear, "Basically that, though not of Colonial era. From a little before the Second World War, actually. Looks like it was part of some backyard taxidermist's hobby, collecting and posing various beasties. I've got a cardinal's skeleton still back there that I think is from the same guy."

"Is probably worth much more to private collectors than general public." Deacon reasons with a lifting of one shoulder, kneeling down to better inspect the rats carcass inside, "Did not preserve well, however. Would be difficult with machinery of the time, but not impossible to create vacuum inside glass case." motioning with one long finger, his tone is always quiet, always shy of conversational, and all ways a little dull. Like a recording. "There is cemetery, in Georgia, when they were building interstate ninety five.. they dig up old cemetery and find woman in glass casket.. very old, maybe thirty years, at time. When moving, they crack glass by accident.. oxidization immediately destroy woman."

"I think I heard about that in the news, actually. But this time, I don't think it's bad preservation." Alexandra gets up from her seat and leans in to point, "Look closely. The bones are wired in place. I think he was posing the actual skeleton, after all the flesh had been removed. Very precise work. But yes, probably worth more to private collectors." She laughs lightly, "But I've been told there's a decent crop of folk around here that like weird things, so."

Deacon does lean in to further examine the skeleton. There's a narrowing of his eyes, then a single blink, and a far away look to his eyes as if he's seeing so much more. Focused, precise, his gaze looks magnifying for several seconds, then he blinks once more and looks up to Alexandra, "He did not even leave scrapes in his bone work.. that is very impressive." Dragging a knuckle down the side of his jaw curiously, "Da, there is a great many in Albuquerque that would be interested in this kind of piece. I believe you will find this to be very strange city, indeed."

Alexandra watches Deacon's examination, head tilted a little to one side, then quirks a brow at his verdict. But she just smiles and shrugs, "I like things a bit strange. Keeps life from getting boring." She folds her arms and rests her hip against the edge of the counter, just kind of absently looking at that little skeleton, "How go things on your end of the world, anyway? Any trouble around your shop?"

Deacon glances up from the skeleton and resumes looking distant for a moment, then he settles his gaze on Alexandra, "Nyet, not particular troubles. People having come to appreciate the foolishness of messing with Lost and Found.. at least those regular thuggish types who are trying to muscle in on 'ma and pa' businesses." Hands return to the pockets of his leather coat, eyes unmoving, "Da, suppose is less boring that there is so much very strange about city. Sometimes is disconcerting, not like other places I am having been."

Again that eyebrow goes up, and Alexandra's gaze returns to Deacon, "I've seen a few odd things in my life, but you've got me curious as to what you're used to. And what someone that works a business inside the Zone regards as 'disconcerting.'" Her gaze isn't penetrating or searching or anything like that, however, and her expression is quietly amused, as though at her own curiosity.

"Likely not same things that individual who runs Antique Shop near to university is finding disconcerting." Deacon doesn't grin, outright, but there is a turn of his lip, a twitch, like it almost cracked the surface. Even still, the expression was hardly one of mirth, but of acceptance. Smiling into ones own oblivion? "Drive bys, individuals stealing, guns being pointed in face.. these are regular occurrences in Zone. While they do not bother me, specifically, hardly 'new' to such things, it does point to the dark domain within which me and my wife have made our home?"

The antiquarian can't help the shudder that touches her spine at that description, "Like I said before, I don't know how you do it in there." She looks towards the front of the shop, with its plate glass window and door, watching a car drive past, "There's always the risk someone's going to try and rob a place, yes, even out here. But that level of risk..." she shakes her head, "I don't know if I could take it, day in and day out."

"Is not worst place I am having seen." Deacon indicates with a slow shake of his head, looking down at the counter for a moment, "Like you are pointing out before, was engaged in Bosnian conflict. Also, I am only coming to America in early nineties. War zone is having no candle to hold to Communist Berlin..." A dark look crosses his eyes for a moment, then he shakes it away, "That is very uncomfortable topic, however. Forgive me." Quiet, just for a second, "Tracey and I have come to an understanding with most of gangs in area. Some still trying to test us, but not as many as when we are first opening business. Mostly now is matter of being caught in cross fire... and this is still very rare."

Alexandra grimaces, and without thinking about it she reaches over to lay a hand on the man's arm. Not trying to grip or anything, just a touch, offering some small bit of support. "I heard things on the eastern side of the Wall were rough. I'm sorry." Letting her hand settle back to the countertop, the woman shakes her head again, "I imagine you and she know your way around such things. It's so far outside what I know and what I'm used to I wouldn't even know where to begin." She laughs then, with self-directed irony, "Soft, city-bred girl like me, wouldn't last an hour."

"You would be surprised how quickly people adapt." Deacon suggests, only acknowledging the hand laid upon his arm with a glance, first at it, then up to her. As if he doesn't understand fully what she was offering sympathy about, though he's not so dense as to not know the reason for the touch. "It is true, we have grown to be more effective in that sort of location, we also wanted to show there is 'good' in heart of zone. Everyone is seeing only the bad part through news.. Inside ever dark thing, there is glimmer of light. This is what Lost and Found means, finding what you are thinking did not exist.."

"Good on you both for that," smiles the woman, nodding. "And you're right, all we see out here is the nastiness. Shootings, gang wars, things the police should be dealing with but either can't or won't, depending who you ask. The very fact the place has a name is pretty indicative of just how bad it's gotten, if nothing else. Everywhere else, it's just 'the bad part of town.' Here, it's 'The Zone,' capital letters." Another shiver, and Alexandra folds her arms as though chilled, "It makes you think."

"What does it make you think?" Deacon asks with genuine curiosity, leaning a bit onto the counter with both hands curled over the edge of the glass. His stare is a pointed sort of thing, deliberate, very focused.. and some could suggest intense, perhaps more so than is required. Which might be why he intentionally keeps it turned down on that rat within the glass display, tilting his head over towards his shoulder much in the way a bird might, sitting on it's perch.

" makes me wonder why it's like that." Fingers tap against Alexandra's arm as she also looks down at that little skeleton, "If humans are just naturally that violent and horrible, or if there's something that makes them that way. Are we kept clean by this society we've created, or is there something, some disease of the spirit, that pulls people into that level of violence?" She shakes her head again, as though trying to rattle something inside back into place, "Great for philosophy class, but it does no good when a mugger's pointing a gun at you, does it?"

"Nyet, not very usually." Deacon agrees, though he doesn't seem to outright dismiss what Alexandra is saying. Not that he comments further, simply that he's got that thoughtful sort of look, one that turns his already intense stare into a thousand yard gleam. "I am often wondering what is making men violent. Why we are not more like animals in the wild, with definable sets of instinctive behaviors... I have come to the realization that, humanity, is inherently evil. Self awareness, is a plague. At least when applied to the masses.. individuals, conversely, are what redeem humanity." Motioning across the counter to Alexandra, "Those who do not let the plague infest them, do not subscribe to willingness that beats in every person to become monster.. very hard struggle, but I am applauding those who try. I try. Tracey tries.. but is often difficult."

Again, Alexandra shakes her head, but this time in disagreement, "I wouldn't say evil, not inherently. Greedy, perhaps. Short-sighted and self-centered, usually. But I would not say evil." She steps away from the edge of the counter to pace behind it, slow steps quiet against the floor, "And humans are strange in that they have herd instincts, have you noticed? When a group starts doing something, many just follow without thinking. I think that is what causes the trouble. One bad spot, dragging the rest along behind just because they don't bother to think about what they're doing."

Deacon does, in fact, consider that. And he's got a great capacity for silence as is evident when he goes almost completely so for several long seconds, simply staring down at the counter. Even his blinking is infrequent, bordering on the nonexistent. Right about the time it would seem entirely to unnatural, his eyes slide closed, almost like an afterthought. Then he looks up to Alexandra and nods, "Da, this is making a great bit of sense. Have seen it in may ways, in many different places, with many different types of people.. always is the same. When humanity is united, usually is something terrible will follow."

"Or something wonderful. It all depends on who's in front and where they're going," the antiquarian is quick to point out. "Statistically, it tends to end badly, but I have to think 'how much of that is because some greedy little man works his way to the front?'" She wanders back over and picks up that rat skeleton in its display, turning it carefully in her hands, "Some terrible person that sees that mass of potential, all those people willing to do something, and thinks only 'what can I get out of this?'" Her lips pull into a tight grimace, "I could easily hate people like that, I think."

"They are easy individuals to hate." Deacon agrees, completely, but not forcefully. His expression remains dull, does not ignite in passion on the subject, but the tone is true, even in it's monotone. "The problem, I am thinking, is that generally, power corrects. Those individuals who may have once been thinking purely of the masses are easily confused by the acquisition of power.. And Absolute power, such is in the form of those like you are suggesting, where the masses follow their leadership blindly, corrupts absolutely. No truer is there a philosophy than this one." And it's a sad sort of admission, "This is why I am without ambition. If individuals wish to follow lead, they should do so of their own accord and not because any dictate them to.. whether intention is good or ill, it is still the taking of freewill. Which is something to which I fight very hard to defend in every person."

Alexandra tips the little skeleton towards Deacon briefly, acknowledging the point, "It comes back to selfishness, I think. Because we still have the instincts from when we had to climb trees to get away from predators. Because some part of us is always thinking 'what do I need?'" She sets the little wood-and-glass stand back on the countertop gently, "And while I can see where you're coming from... have you given up on leading yourself, too?" She fixes her eyes on Deacon, steadily this time, "Do you choose your own path? Or do you simply wander?"

"My path is.. complicated." Deacon admits with a tilt of his head, "Tracey and I have come to several hard decisions about our individual position within the greater design, but we are comfortable with these decisions." The way he speaks, he does not make any distinction between himself and his wife, almost like speaking of one IS speaking of the other. Not quite like Superman and Clark Kent, however, since both have been seen in the same place at the same time. "Which reminds me, I should probably be getting back to Pawn Shop.. was only going to pick up dinner at Mexican restaurant." Motioning with a flick of his wrist, "You have still not coming by Pawn Shop.. you should, I believe you will be surprised by what you are finding there." Then he's nodding, stepping back away from the counter, "Thank you for conversation, Alexandra. Dasvidanya."

Alexandra nods and smiles, "I still plan on visiting, someday. You know how crazy getting settled into a new place can be." She lifts a hand to wave farewell as Deacon steps away from the counter, "Say hello to your wife for me, and take care on your way home. You're both welcome to drop by here whenever you like."