2010-10-04: Reader



Date: October 4th, 2010


Against better judgment, Maggie decides her house is Laurie's house for the night; he sits down, and the cycle continues.


Maggie's Apartment

The address Maggie drove to with Laurie as her passenger is not mysterious, or far away, or a house with a fence. It's an apartment building familiar from top to bottom — from the rooftop to the ground upon which a man met his — by then already certain — death. It's Maggie's building.

Despite the unpleasant memories it could easily call forth, particularly for the woman who lives here, once the door to her apartment opens up and she flicks the light-switch on, a flood of warmth is ushered in. The colour beckoning from every wall as always, swirls of art, the decoration from various reaches of the globe, the lived-in feel. An unfinished painting shaping up to be vibrant sits on an easel by the window; there's a mess of documents and a newspaper on the coffee table, and somewhere, a stereo must have been left on accidentally, playing classical music on a radio station, turned down low.

Maggie has been quiet about the decision to bring Laurie here— having whisked him off once again. She's still quiet now, inside; she isn't speaking much more than she has to. "Here we are," she says with a half-hearted jingle of her keys gesturing to her living room. Imperative commentary — she glances back ascertain whether or not Laurie is paying attention to where here is. She steps aside to let him in so she can busy herself with arming a new addition to her apartment: a home security system. "Until your apartment is secure, this is— it's better. Than the alternatives. You can…" she trails off, re-considers, continues, "… make yourself… at home…"

Some measure of uneasiness has drifted from her to him, keeping him additionally quiet during the trip. Paced gradually behind her, Laurie wavers, rooted to the hallway, until the sound of her less than enthusiastic invitation — as though that alone allows him to physically cross the threshold he's been by before.

Paintings, color by color, are squinted at as if for the first time, but not without a familiarity to contradict the careful study. All of this is performed from the inner foyer, where he continues to hover in complete defiance to her rebooted sentiment. "I'm not… sure that I can…" he corrects in a vague murmur.
The wine has made its way from car to apartment now — where it is finally legal for him to adjust a certain determining grip around its neck where it parallels the length of cane he holds in the same grip. Open, close: fingers twitch. The longer that he considers the woman's as of yet — this time around — unexplored inner sanctum, the more assured they are in losing cane for bottle, twisting at that cap between him and the soothing liquid.

"I'm sorry if I've driven you to drinking already…" Maggie jokes — kind of — seeming to ignore the murmured statement as she turns away from making sure the door is shut, locked, and that the security is in order. The apartment appears more inviting than the host. It may not see many guests, but the colorful, comfortable home welcomes; Maggie tries her best under the circumstances. She quickly slips past Laurie, keeping her unapproving glance to the wine at a minimum. She moseys toward the kitchen, casting the transported sandwich on the island counter along with her keys before dropping onto a stool.

There's something comforting about being in her own space; it eases her in, envelops her gradually in her usual calm assurance. "It'll be fine," Maggie admits, calling out casually in the midst of hooking her foot on a rung of the stool and hauling the leg of her jeans up to undo her tall, heavy boots; these ones have zippers. "I have some things to do here while you… you know. Whatever. I have… some food here, and you can take the— " She looks up to thoughtfully regard the apartment's other rooms sharing the same wall as the foyer: doors one and two facing each other in a tiny hallway, and door number three on its own, which gets her considerations. She looks back down to her task; one boot thuds to the floor. "Couch."

Appearances may be deceiving. Either way, it is a residence that Laurie eventually enters, cane leading. He cuts a wide route near to the boundaries of it, passing by doors and close to walls until he's made an arc fully in the direction of the couch. Dragging along in partial readiness, the wine bottle hangs limply on his last steps and he dips to the side to deposit it onto the nearby coffee table in what would seem almost too late timing. Yet no spilling; it only slides effortlessly from hand to furniture. The cane he hefts up, tossing straight into the air to get his hand from rounded top to middle. This grip gives him the leverage to toss it in the most controlled way to the opposite end of the couch where it falls and rests, only rolling once.

There unsupported, his continued steps towards the littered walls and bookshelves are uneven, as though maybe one leg were shorter than the other. Up, down. It's by the bracing of his hand that he goes, until that, too, disappears to trace along the lines of several book spines. Trailing along one, two… pausing at a third— four, five. Retrace. Three and four are gripped simultaneously. "You're wasting your time," he pipes up, uncomfortably long after her words, but not spoken like he recognizes that. A casual glance over his shoulder to look to where she's gone is quickly over.

Fictions, everything on the shelves. A wide variety of, mostly, novels. Some anthologies. Old and new, worn and pristine, the books span almost every genre — there are no detective stories to be found. There's a remarkable amount of classics— and science fiction.

Maggie hasn't moved far; she's still sliding her way out of leather in some form or another. She pries off the jacket that had been unwaveringly zipped for hours, no longer concealing a t-shirt of the reddest red. "It's my time to waste if it is," she replies with no malcontent and no particular sentiment. She drifts from the kitchen to the closet, and from the closet to the living room. "You can read anything you want there," she offers, leaning over the coffee table to organize the papers there into neat stacks for easier gathering up to get them out of the way.

He's taken her word for it before she's given it; before she's even out of the jacket, he's nudged books four and five away from the others at an angles, eventually getting them alone. The books they had been snuggled up against tilt forlornly across the gap created. His eyes hop greedily around on more titles. A third is added to his growing stash. The classics are passed by — not skipped over, merely passed — and as he acquires a fourth there's a slight pattern emerging: the most worn and crippled spines.

Passingly satisfied with what he has, Laurie has tipped the last book over awkwardly in his hand, three fingers precariously, but successfully, clinging to the other two. Now Maggie approaches with her permission and a second glance is spared for her on it. "That's really only a reiteration…" There's no punch to his retort, no fight: just fact. Turning his way to the couch, he drops down with a barely controlled motion. The injured leg bounces, his foot catching on the edge of the coffee table, and there it stays. Dreamily, and with unmotivated wandering, his thumb ticks along the pages of the third book, the other two having crashed into his lap on his drop. He sorts his way to the beginning amidst a lean forward, stomach tensing to allow him to pull his weight forward to take up the wine bottle.

Back flopping against that of the couch, he tips up the drink and flops the novel open to the initial page at the same time. Liquid and words are consumed — one drastically faster than the other. He's taking a sip; he's flipped four pages. It's all in a frivolous manner, with barely what seems like time to consider the material.

On "reiteration", Maggie looks up from her organizing to notice the well-used books he's already helped himself to. She smiles. It's passing, tempered down by the frivolous way he looks at the pages, and by her notice of the bottle of wine for the umpteenth time. Something else catches her attention, too, as well as her curiosity. "Are you— " Straightening, she nearly loses a stray paper as she holds the various papers to her chest, and snatches it hurriedly, but effectively, out of the air. " — reading that fast?"

After its initial use, the wine bottle settles, a spire of waiting alcohol, now a pillar against Laurie's half-tilted head — all made so because of the awkward way he has to cup his hand around the bottom of the wine in order to also flip the pages at the speed desired. Flip, flip, flip. Foundation and Earth is flying by. He's either waiting for some word to catch his eye, or the answer to Maggie's question is a resounding yes. Even if it is, it is not the one she receives — not in so many… word. Perhaps more telling is the way he does not immediately react at all, but passes through a sizable chunk of the Isaac Asimov novel before pausing, noticing her lack of movement. The flipping stops. His eyes drag away from the pages. "Hmm?"

She's gotten her answer, and so her reply is a quick shake of her head. "Never mind," she's content to dismiss and leave him to her novel. She abruptly turns away, then, and makes a line for door number three — her office. The door is urged from closed to open.

"Miles," she says, concerned as she turns back around at the threshold in an attempt to cue his attention again. Hanging onto the outer doorknob, keeping the door open just as wide as her, her form effectively blocks most of the room beyond. It's a slivers of warm tan paint, wood, the impression of a space full of things. Maggie smiles again; there's a distinctly reassuring quality to it, even if her reassurances might come up against a wall when it comes to the man in her living room. "Do yourself a favour for a change and drink some water and eat something at some point today, okay?" On the heels of this pleasant, well-meaning suggestion, not planning to wait out a response — or trying to prevent one — she starts to disappear inward.

A slow blink; his eyes are already dropping to the page before she's finished speaking. Through the flipping goes fantastical events, themes, and science-fiction narrative. Laurie does her the favor of not lifting the wine bottle for any long pull until she's already closed herself in, the door separating them.

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