2011 07 01: National Matters

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Mission Name: National Matters
Date of Mission: July 01 2011
Locale: Elliot's Used Books — Upper East Side - Manhattan

A conversation goes from being about books to what kind of country we live in.


Anya Ashley Eli Lexi

Just after eight PM on a Friday night doesn't typically score a book store much action, let alone a used book store. There's a dazzling array of hipsters and too chic college students hanging around. The one person that stands out from the crowd is the surly-looking man in a well-tailored business suit perusing books tediously in the non-fiction section, hovering around books dealing with grief and moving on. "Is there some sort of dismemberment section…?" He wonders aloud to no one in particular.

Anya has somehow managed to convince Eli to join her, which led to him being dragged into the book store. "Come on, I just want to check their science section. It's a compulsion anytime I walk past any bookstore," she tells him, grinning and looking around for said science section.

Eli walks in with Anya on his arm (or on Anya's arm, depending upon how you look at it), and isn't exactly dragging his feet. If anything, he just looks amused by the whole thing, his red-tipped walking cane a silent testament to how exactly out of place he is in a bookstore. "Whatever makes you happy," he replies, following along like a good little puppy. "I don't suppose they have a Braille section…?"

Another customer wanders in, a short, dark-haired woman who immediately ducks down one of the aisles, her eyes sparkling as she takes in the various books to be found in the section she chose to paruse this evening. "So… what do we want," Lexi murmurs to herself as she picks up a paperback, it's back cover looked at before put back, whatever it was she picked up not to her liking if the wrinkle of her nose is any indication. "What did I…" She steps back out and looks around, trying to figure out just what section she happened down.

Ashley peers up from his in-depth book ogling in order to take in the newcomers. His eyes are drawn to the dark-haired young woman who walks in behind Eli and Anya, though he quickly turns his attention back to the pair who have just come in. "Did you mention a Braille section?" Ashley asks Eli, coming a little closer. "They don't have many too many Braille books here usually. There are a few in the back." He pauses, looking to Anya as if he needs to clarify, "I knew a blind person once." Solid defense, Ash. He looks back to Lexi briefly, seeming vaguely distracted before he returns his attention to the pair.

Anya glances towards Ashley when he speaks and she nods. "He did, yeah," she confirms, giving the man a once over. "And they have some? Cool. Wanna check them out, Eli?" she asks, glancing back to her companion, head tilting slightly. "If not, I can just hit the science stuff real quick. Your choice."

The bemused expression turns into a full-on grin as Ashley answers his question. "Oh? Well, that's a surprise. These used bookstores don't normally have anything but books on tape." He doesn't comment regarding the fact that Ashley has once known a blind guy. "Well, we came here for you," he points out to Anya. "So we'd probably better see the science stuff, first, at least."

At first she doesn't notice being looked at but happens to catch the tail-end of Ashley's glance, it getting her to approach him as well, the small group of three apprached as if she's afraid to interrupt. "Uhm, excuse me, but do you work here," she asks Ashley but then she stammers and blushes, looking at the lady and her gentleman companion. "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be rude. You were being helped first." Clearing her throat, Lexi steps back a few paces, allowing for the others to be served without her breathing down their neck, proverbially.

Ash nods to Anya, and then Eli. "Okay. Let me find a clerk." He ambles through the store in order to find said clerk, finally pointing the cashier in their general direction. The man trundles to the back room and soon reappears with a stack of books, one of which is a Bible in Braille, and the other two children's books. Ash gives Anya and Eli a rather defeated look. "Sorry, it looks like that's all they have…" When he hears Lexi's question about him working there, all he does is laugh quietly and shake his head. "No, sorry. Though perhaps in another life I would have made an excellent librarian. I'm just a good customer. I can probably help you, if you like."

Anya grins at Eli. "So long as I get to look at it I don't care what order we do things in. And you weren't rude. Trust me, I know rude," she says to Lexi, shrugging then looking back at what Ashley found, busting out laughing. "Sorry baby, you have a choice between some kids' books and a bible. And I don't see you as the type to spend your Saturday night's reading scripture."

Lexi watches the byplay between them for a moment, unable to keep herself from chuckling while does. "Thanks," she says to Anya for the reassurance, relieved that she wasn't. "Mother would skin me alive if she were to ever find out if I were. We had manners hammered into our head from an early age." Taking a second, she looks at the other man, talking with him now while the rest of her fellow customers. "Just need a book suggestion, really. Am kind of tired of re-reading Poe and Anne Rice all the damn time."

"No problem, I don't mind. I'm glad I could help, really. It feels like the first truly useful thing I've done all week," Ashley says, half-smiling at the man and woman before he looks back to Lexi. "Hmm, Anne Rice and Poe? You sound like my son." It's said almost fondly, with some ire mixed in. "Well, do you like vampires? I'm assuming so. Did you read any of those Sookie Stackhouse books? I hear they were very popular… and still are, thanks to that TV show. To be honest, aside from reading medical journals, I'm not terribly up and up on pop culture and what the kids these days like…" Ashley is showing his age magnificently right now, even if he's looking good for forty-two.

Anya's lips twitch as she looks back to Eli. "I seriously doubt you'd want to listen to the books I want. They're all about chemical compositions and reactions. I know most everyone's gone digital with their pictures, but I think there's an art to developing your own from film and negatives." She looks to Lexi, leans closer, and stage whispers, "Go for the girl porn. The really hot girl porn."

Eli gives a rueful grin. "Ah. Sounds like I'm screwed, in that case. I'll just have to stick with downloads, for now…" Then Anya is talking about girl porn, and that just causes him to grin and shake his head. In spite of this mildly abashed reaction, he doesn't exactly seem all that displeased. Quite the contrary, in fact. "From what I've heard, that's a pretty good description of Anne Rice."

"Are the Sookie books like Twilight? If so, not sure if I'll like them." Peering about, she looks around, fully expecting to have some Twilight fan come out of nowhere to lynch her. "No offense," Lexie says afterward, "Just couldn't get into all the…" Her sentence is cut off mid-sentence and she looks at Anya gain, her cheeks bright red. "Well, if you're suggesting it then who am I to snub it." Eli's spoken to now, the black-haired woman chuckling. "Rice was kind of tame but she does have her moments."

Upon hearing Anya's remark about girl porn, Ashley coughs like he has a bug caught in his throat. He widens his eyes and turns a shade of bright red before trying (rather poorly) to pretend he never heard anything at all. He raises a finger in the air, "I think actually it's more the uh, boy on boy porn in Anne Rice fare, from what I've heard…" He's really not doing himself any favors here, is he? He looks at Lexie and shakes his head. "No, I would never recommend any Twilight-esque books to anyone. The vampires don't sparkle, at least, but I don't know much about them." He moves over to the horror section long enough to find what he's looking for, grabbing one of the series books and offering it to her. "Here you go, you can skim if you want. If there's any sparkling, I apologize deeply."

Anya wrinkles her nose and shakes her head at Eli. "Hell no." Then she's glancing around, noting all the blushes, then she busts out laughing. "My god, do people really embarrass that easily? It's twenty eleven, not eighteen eleven. Sex is okay, people, honest. People have it everyday. Multiple times every day if they're lucky."

Eli continues grinning, eyes sparkling with delight as everyone gets all embarrassed and Anya has her outburst. When she's done, he adds, mildly, "And this is why I'm in a bookstore full of books I can't read. It sure isn't for the science textbooks." He nudges at Anya, with a little grin. "But be nice, Anya. The little one sounds a bit young to be that jaded."

The book is accepted and thumbed through quickly, it's a good diversion from the heat on her face. When teased by Anya she looks at her and Eli both, grinning even as the flush deepens slightly. "It isn't the talk about sex, truly. I just tend to embarrass easily is all." Shrugging, she adds to Eli directly, "Now I'm curious. How old do you think I am?" She looks down at the book and nods, it hefted in her hand a bit while she ponders. "I'll take it. Thanks…" She blinks and then snickers. "I don't know any of your names. I am Lexi. Nice to meet the three of you."

"I'm not jaded… I mean, I am. But I have good reason to be. I'm a coroner!" Ashley cries out in defense. He reaches up to rub at the back of his neck in mild embarrassment. "I also can't help it, I was raised by uptight WASP parents. I'm a product of their upper class society ways." He glances over toward Lexi and offers her a hand. "I'm Ashley. You can call me Ash if you want, most people do…" He pauses. "I guess most people usually call me Doctor or Doctor Hockett, or just Hockett though. You know, I'm not normally like this, you guys have caught me on an off-week."

Anya pouts at Eli. "I'm not being /mean/, just being honest," she mutters, and all that's missing is her kicking at a can. She peers at Ashley curiously though. "A coroner? That's one hell of a creepy job. Cutting up dead people all day? But I'm Anya."
Eli gives Lexi's question due consideration, brows lifting slightly. "Let's see…Well, you're either a very mature 19-year-old, or very youthful early-20's," he decides, then grins a little toward Ashley. "Different kind of jaded. But nice to meet you both. I'm Eli."

"I'm Lexi. Owner of Spin Doctor Records. Hey, I need to get. Got to get home before it gets too late. Feel free to come by the shop. Am in the phone book…" Tossing a quick wave, she pays for the book and then is off, trying to get home before her favorite show comes on.

"To be fair," Ashley starts, "I hardly ever deal in autopsies anymore. Mostly I determine what the cause of death was, etcetera. In a city this big, it does take considerably more time than I'd like it to." He nods to Eli and smiles at both he and Anya. "A pleasure to meet all of you. And to be even more fair, the young woman here was just being truthful…"

"Hey, I was being truthful too. People /do/ get freaked out about sex. Which is stupid when you think about it, since we're all the result of sex," Anya points out, lifting a hand to wave as Lexi heads off.

Ashley nods a little bit to Anya when she mentions people getting freaked out about sex. "I could offer you the viewpoint of a psychologist, but it would probably bore you." His face still isn't devoid of embarrassment yet and a hint of his blush is still retained in the tips of his ears. "Do you and your boyfriend come here often, Ms. Anya?" Ashley asks rather innocently.

"Oh, he's not my boyfriend. We're just friends who happen to fuck like bunnies from time to time," Anya says cheerfully. "But no, first time I've been in here. But do share this psychological viewpoint, Mister Doctor," she says, smiling brightly at Ashley.

The doctor looks like he might be the basis of his viewpoint at this very moment, clearing his throat a little bit. "Ah, uh, that's nice." He comments first upon the nature of Anya and Eli's relationship. "Anyway, it all has to do with the attitude toward sex in the home. My parents were old school. They would have rather had me watch violence on TV any day than see Janet Jackson's infamous wardrobe malfunction at the Superbowl. I find that usually once these patterns are hard-wired into one's brain, it's hard to break away. But that's less of a viewpoint on how American culture views sex and more of a general opinion on most of what's wrong with our society as a whole. We're a society of prudes."

"Not just prudes. Prudes and assholes and people who just don't give a damn about anyone or anything but themselves," Anya replies. "And I think my parents would've agreed with yours, but then, my dad was military. Violence was sort of the thing. Training and going off to war and blah, blah, blah."

Eli gives a bark of laughter at Anya's rather frank explanation of their relationship. Asperger's, anyone? His face turns a bit redder than normal, because although he's quite resistant to embarrassment, he's not entirely immune. "Anya…" He clears his throat a little.

"I can't help but agree with most of that," Ashley responds somewhat ruefully. He pretends not to notice the other man's embarrassment at Anya's assessment of their relationship, instead looking down at his shoes until he finds himself able to face the both of them again. "My condolensces. My father was just an uptight business man. But it's nice to know that people are being liberated day in and day out. You give me hope for the future. Maybe we can soon turn the nation into a haven for fornicating, hedonist heathens," Ashley says somewhat sarcastically, grinning.

Anya beams at Eli. "Damn. I even got you to blush. I'm on a roll. Where's someone else I can make blush?" she asks, glancing around for a moment before she looks back at Ashley, frowning a little. "Condolances? For what? But I don't think this needs to be a haven for fornicating, hedonist heathens, I just think people need to lighten up a little. Have some fun."

The thing about blushing is that when someone calls attention to it, it only makes it worse. Eli laughs quietly and shakes his head, but refrains from offering further comment. Too distracted trying to control the blood vessels in his face, no doubt.

Ashley shrugs his shoulders. "A lot of people can't really have fun without someone reminding them about all the diseases going around or spreading the rumor about black market kidney harvesters after a one night stand. Despite being a nation of assholes and prudes, we're scared assholes and prudes." He looks over at Eli with some sympathy that the man can't see and just shakes his head. That poor, poor man — and not because he's blind.

Anya just grins at Eli, but decides to leave him alone for the moment, giving his arm a light squeeze before she looks back to Ashley. "True, but you can have fun while being careful. Suit up. Don't get so wasted you pass out and don't have any fun anyway. Simple, common sense stuff."

Eli doesn't feel particularly sorry for himself. Hey, he's got a nymphomaniac on his arm with no strings attached. What's to complain about? He recovers eventually, and inserts his own take on the situation, "You're a lot more likely to get killed pulling out of your driveway than on a one-night stand. So…I guess the moral of that story is stop driving and have more sex. Or something like that."

"We're also a nation devoid of common sense," Ashley says to Anya before he grins at the pair and shakes his head. "I think I'll stick to driving. The car can't cheat on me. It's been a pleasure talking with the two of you, but I'm afraid I need to be going now. Do try not to wear the poor boy out," Ashley says to Anya as he heads for the door.

"Not a bad moral," Anya says with a grin before nodding to Ashley. "Can't argue that. Add idiots to my previous list. But it was nice meeting you. Don't have too much fun with the corpses."

Eli smirks a little. "It's not cheating if you aren't exclusive," he points out, helpfully, but softens it into a more friendly grin and wave as Ashley starts to withdraw. "It was nice meeting you, Doctor."


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