Such Things As May Be Found

Cast: date: '27 August 2012'
place: 'I. P. Kazlov''s Emporium'
participants: 'Benjamin, Edith, Gideon'
synopsis: 'The supervisor of the London watch tails Gideon Parish into a shop of oddities and macabre curiosities. Everybody learns something new.'
log: "\"I. P. Kazlov's Emporium\" is written in an elaborate, somewhat archaic script on the sign arching above the dark wooden door and single, wide shop window. A reddish-brown two-headed goat bears a simple cardboard sign around it's thick neck signifying that the shop is open. The window is crowded, but the goat - standing on top of a two-sided curio cabinet filled with an assortment of oddities undoubtedly designed to snare the interest of passersby - enjoys a place of prominence. While one of his heads appears to be looking out into the world beyond the shop window, the other stares almost curiously into the bell of an old phonograph.\n\nInside, the strangeness continues. The shop is cluttered, with items on the walls as well as displayed in glass cabinets in low aisles, or else arranged on the bookshelves that line the lower perimeter. Antiques share space with strange figurines, bits of freakish or imagined taxidermy, and the occasional print or photograph from the early days of manipulation techniques. A ladder on a track has been rigged to reach past the shelving, all the way to the ceiling, adding to the height of the space. Antique and eclectic lamps and chandeliers either rest among artifacts or hang from the ceiling, casting odd shadows but making the items for sale visible enough for inspection.\n\nAn ornate wooden counter sits near the back of the shop, flanking a doorway obscured with heavy drapery. On the counter, a teacup on its saucer sits in stark contrast to its darker surroundings. Then again, so is the clean-cut blond gentleman drinking from it as he reads The Telegraph.\n\nIt's possible that coming inside the shop may have been a mistake. With so very, very many strange and unique things, some cluttered together, some positioned rather precariously on their hooks or shelves, there are so very, very many things that could happen if one was touched just so. And, oh god, everything is so wonderfully, horribly breakable. \n\nThe second blond man in the store lingers in the doorway, his fingertips rubbing lightly across his lips as he looks over the Emporium's collection of odd and rare. Then, breathing in slowly, he fishes a pair of sunglasses out of his back pocket and slips them on, never mind that the morning's dreary and he's (mostly) inside. He steps forward, letting the door jingle as it closes behind him, and offering a small, smirking nod to the stuffed goat. He drifts down the aisles, such as they are, pausing to thumb through this book or consider a couple pickled… somethings sealed in jars.\n\nGideon's tail - a small, dark-haired woman dressed in a wool peacoat - doesn't follow him directly inside. Instead, she decides to finish her cigarette out on the curb and squints against the wind while she watches the passing traffic. It tousles her hair in an unattractive way that's nothing at all like how it looks in the movies; she hooks a thumb around one of the flyaway strands and wets her mouth as she tucks it behind her ear. \n\nAlthough Edith hopes it will stay there, she'll probably be out of luck before she hits the cigarette's filter and is forced to discard it into the sopping street.\n\n\"Good morning!\"\n\nThe affable cadence is perhaps more suited to…well, a place that doesn't look like it could outfit several Hollywood horror movie prop departments. Benjamin lifts his cup in salute to the browsing customer, his smile polite and amiable. Someone is a morning person.\n\nAfter sipping from the cup, Benjamin sets it down on the saucer again and flattens his paper against the counter top. \"If you have any questions, I'm happy to help,\" he adds, one eye narrowing slightly at Gideon's back. Sunglasses?\n\n\"Good morning, sir,\" Gideon returns affably, looking away from an illustrated print detailing the dissection procedure for a hummingbird. \"Questions?\" He chuckles, touching the bridge of his sunglasses and nudging them a touch higher on his face. \"My good man, where does one even start?\"\n\nEdith starts by smothering the remains of her cigarette under the toe of her shoe and pushing open the shop's door. It's nice to be out of the cold for a few minutes; she takes the opportunity to check her reflection in a foggy, antiquated mirror that hangs low on the wall and runs her tongue over her teeth behind her lip, assessing the damage done to her bun (which now resembles a bird's nest). \n\nHer appearance must not rank very high on her list of priorities, however, because she does not primp in front of the mirror for very long. Leisurely strides carry her in Gideon's general direction.\n\nWith a chuckle, Benjamin lifts a gloved finger to scratch at his temple. \"With what one finds interesting, of course,\" is his vague response. Nodding, then pointing to the hummingbird, he adds, \"That, for example, came out of an early zoological text. Lovely illustrations, though the author did focus primarily on specimens local to his own garden. Then again, I suppose that is a point toward his own credibility as a scientist.\"\n\nAt Edith's entrance, Benjamin nods to her and smiles again. \"Good morning, ma'am. If there's anything I can help you with, just let me know.\"\n\n\"Mmm,\" Gideon replies as he considers the print for a little longer, perhaps mentally earmarking it for a later purchase, before he moves on to pick up a necklace with an amber teardrop pendant that seems sweet and simple enough until one notes the tiny vole skull that's been suspended within.\n\nWhen Benjamin calls out a second greeting, Gideon looks over his shoulder to take note of the woman approaching in her peacoat and messy bun. He sets the pendant to rest in his palm and flourishes one of those wide, white-toothed grins that can be nothing but artifice. \"Edith, my love, what a charming surprise, running into you in such a place. A happy coincidence, or did a little bird tell you where I was off to, this morning?\"\n\nThe smile Edith offers Benjamin is thin and her nod likewise curt. She takes only a passing interest in the items he has for sale - her focus rests on Gideon, though he receives no curve of her mouth, her lips pressed into a pale, neutral line by the time he's addressing her. \"I was hoping you've had the opportunity to reconsider my last proposal,\" she says. \"The last time we parted, it was on such poor terms.\"\n\nGiven the nature of the Emporium's usual clientele - those with a taste for the items sold there for their home decor or personal, morbid interest - Benjamin knows when to leave them to themselves. Though they don't visually fit the part, Edith's behavior and choice of words when addressing Gideon send up a definite flag. With a subtle arch of his eyebrows, the proprietor goes back to his paper, spreading the newsprint with his thin hands and trying to look as if he's not interested in the conversation going on in his shop.\n\nAfter all, it might prove an interesting anecdote to tell Lydia later, thus enhancing the one regular social interaction Benjamin enjoys.\n\n\"Well, I have had time to reconsider,\" Gideon answers cheerfully as he considers the necklace he holds. Setting it back in its place, he picks up another, this one a thin leather strip with a trio of black feathers as the centerpiece, each one with a tiny, red bead twinkling from its end, \"but I haven't reconsidered. And I won't. Here, this one is more you, wouldn't you say?\" The feather necklace is offered over to Edith.\n\nEdith accepts the necklace in the seat of her palm, the leather draped across her long fingers. \"I'd much rather a good, sturdy set of pearls,\" she says without putting much effort into sounding apologetic. Still, she examines the offering from beneath her lashes so not to offend the gentleman behind the paper, even if he doesn't appear engaged - she, like Gideon, knows more than anyone that appearances are often deceiving. \"You wound me, by the way.\"\n\n Benjamin's thoughts drift to a string of pearls his employee decided would be attractive when \"worn\" by a trio of shrunken heads on the opposite end of the shop from the pair. A combination of the traditional pale orbs and the darker \"black\" variety, with a blister pearl pendant in the middle. He could tell them about the necklace's sordid past, but he doesn't interrupt. Tea is sipped, and Benjamin steals a glance at them over the brim of the china.\n\n\"Oh?\" Gideon asks, and beneath the sunglasses his pale brows lift in interest, arching above the dark barrier. \"Pearls. I shall remember that.\" He watches Edith watch the necklace and chuckles softly for the woman's next words. \"Not yet, I haven't,\" he murmurs, warm and low. A tease as much as a threat. \"Don't take it so to heart, Ms. Sonnenschein. I simply value my independence.\"\n\n\"So do I,\" says Edith, returning the necklace to Gideon. \"Count yourself lucky that you've been given a choice.\" She turns to Benjamin, about to apologize for the intrusion, but something makes her hesitate when her eyes seek out his. An abrupt stillness takes over her body, and she asks Gideon without retracting her gaze from the shopkeeper, \"Do you come here very often, Mr. Parish?\"\n\nIt would sound like a pick-up line if it weren't for the established rigidity of the exchange, but Edith's focus on Benjamin add to the strangeness of the question. Unable to hold her eyes for very long at all, Benjamin furtively jerks his attention to Gideon, swallowing down his apprehension. \"S-sorry to interrupt, ma'am, but I can't say I have seen him before.\" Benjamin steals another look at Edith, but finds it easier to look at the feathered necklace. He squints, then clears his throat before reaching a gloved hand toward his tea.\n\n\"There we go,\" Gideon murmurs as Edith's attention moves from him to the man behind the counter of the morbid curiosity shop with hardly any mirrors who likes to read his newspaper with gloves on. \"I can't say as I've ever visited it before, actually, Ms. Sonnenschein. But, today seemed a good day for it.\" He hangs the feathered necklace back up and his eye catches on a third: this one's pendant is the casing of a silver bullet, lovingly etched with a delicate and intricate pattern. \"How much for this one?\"\n\nEdith makes a noise at the back of her throat that sounds like it might be skeptical - or maybe she just has something stuck back there. \"Good,\" she says, though it isn't clear whether this is directed at Benjamin or Gideon. \"Enjoy the rest of your morning, gentlemen.\" \n\nOne last glance back at Gideon - I'm not finished with you yet - and she steers herself toward the door, moving with a brisk sense of purpose belonging to someone who suddenly has something else she needs to be doing.\n\nBenjamin manages a faint nod to the woman as she departs, but appears much more relaxed once the bell has sounded her departure. He takes that refreshing gulp of tea so he can meet Gideon's question with the same sort of smile he greeted him with. He quotes the man a reasonable price, considering the etching and the metal, and it's location in a curiosity shop as opposed to an establishment selling jewelry exclusively.\n\nGideon takes his time, almost determinedly, as Edith takes her leave. He keeps hold of the necklace as he continues his way through the shop, but the poster of hummingbird entrails are left behind, as are the other items he stops to note. It's only the casing necklace he brings to the counter for purchase. \"Do you have a card?\" he inquires politely as he fishes a wallet from his jeans back pocket.\n\n\"Of course.\" Benjamin slips to one side of the counter where an ancient register sits. Beside it is a terrarium - a simple glass vessel overturned on a piece of wood with an elegant edge. Inside the glass is an arrangement of flora around a small dish of water, which ripples slightly with the movement of a minute turtle. Benjamin reaches in front of the glass to a small golden stand and plucks a small rectangle of parchment from a stack. I. P. Kazlov's Emporium - Benjamin Turner, Proprietor. The hours of operation and a phone number follow.\n\nHolding the card between middle and index fingers sheathed in thin white cotton, Benjamin offers it to Gideon. \"Not for the lady, I presume?\"\n\n\"Oh, no,\" Gideon assures as he sets money down for the necklace and then holds his empty hand out, palm up, to receive the card whenever the begloved fellow feels ready to let it go. \"She won't need a card to find you.\"\n\nThe card drops as Benjamin's eyebrows arch. He pulls back his hand to stifle a short cough, then shakes his head. \"The necklace,\" he clarifies, taking the money and producing a series of clanks, churrs, and dings from the register. He then produces a small box and expertly places the necklace inside so that the pendant is displayed and the chain hidden beneath a small bit of backing.\n\nThe question of who Edith is or why she would want to find Benjamin again is left unsaid, but the shop owner's brows furrow with both of them. He manages a smile though, once he replaces the lid of the box.\n\n\"Oh,\" Gideon laughs, shaking his head self-consciously as he accepts the box, and tucks it and the card into the pocket of his leather jacket before replacing his wallet. \"Of course. Your pardon. No, not for her.\" Though who it might be for isn't offered. Instead, Gideon removes his sunglasses and blinks over at Benjamin, examining the other man openly for a long and uncomfortable moment. Whatever it is he uncovers, he just nods. \"You'll have more new clientele soon, I imagine. Friendly. Helpful. Persistent.\"\n\nMicroscopes occupy the third shelf from the top on the west end of the shop. Benjamin does his best not to shrink under the younger man's awkwardly penetrating gaze. Benjamin has a sense - a guess at why, or more accurately what the other man is looking for. At. It's not a trick Benjamin reciprocates for many a reason. But even the idea of it makes the small hairs on the back of his neck stand straight up.\n\nThen again.\n\n\"Helpful?\" Benjamin narrows in on perhaps the most vague of Gideon's hypotheses. \"That might prove…interesting, to say the least. I'm always looking for new items. And customers.\"\n\n\"Well, and so are they, as it happens,\" Gideon replies with a faint smile as he replaces his sunglasses and leaves any further scrutinizing to the microscopes on the third shelf from the top in the west end of the shop. \"Up to you to decide if you want to be collected. Good day to you, Benjamin Turner, proprietor. If you thought things were interesting before…\" he flashes a quick, bright grin as he eases his way back from the counter and turns to depart.\n\nGideon's footsteps on the wooden planks echo against the merchandise, and the door's bell and the rattle of panes act as the final cadence. Benjamin breathes, sips his tea, and casts one quick, nervous glance at the curtained passage.\n\nWonderful."

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