1964-09-15 - About Heinlein
Summary: Lindon meets Elmo in a bookshop.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
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elmo lindon 

It's an old bookstore, one that's been around so long there are probably books that haven't even been taken from their shelves as long as some folks have been alive. The owner is probably the son or grandson of the man who founded it, if not a great grandson. It's dusty in here, and in a few nooks and crannies there are comfy chairs for reading.

At the counter is a balding man with a look that just screams shopkeeper. Leaning against the counter in an ill-fitting suit is Lindon, tall and thin, tweedy. He's telling the bookstore owner, "I'll gladly recategorize them for you, Al. It's no trouble."

For some reason this causes the shopkeeper to frown. "Nothin' doin'," he says. "I only let you hang around because you're like a free employee, but you don't touch my system."

Elmo comes in, shoving the door open with his narrow shoulder, hands in coat pockets. The ancient look of the bookstore doesn't seem to encourage him, as he looks around. Then again, maybe nothing encourages him. He yells in the direction of Lindon and the shopkeeper, "Hey, you got anything by Heinlein?"

The shopkeeper opens his mouth, but Lindon beats him to the punch, "Row 12, about halfway down to the left as you come in." He watches in Elmo's direction, listening for if he's found it.

The shopkeeper sighs. "Go on," he tells him, and he waves the tall, lanky fell away.

Which means Lindon comes to the row in question and says, "They're right over here." He looks at the Heinleins all arranged neatly (by him), and he says, "The ones down here on the lower shelves are first editions. A little more because of that, but for an original printing, I think it's worth it."

Elmo makes right for the named shelf. He eyes Lindon warily as the man approaches, backing up as Lindon gets closer. "…Why?" he says, incredulous. He's got a raspy voice and an East Side accent that could double as steel wool. "What's so great about a first edition?"

Well that throws Lindon right off. That question. He glances aside, not really sure what to do with his hands, and he says, "Because it's a first edition." His accent is a mild-mannered Midwestern. Kansas is sending New York its nerds. "I mean it's from the original print run. It's just… it's neat."

"It's the same book, ain't it?" Elmo is suspicious. Lindon has some ulterior motive here, clearly. He eyes Lindon more, before deciding Lindon probably maybe isn't that dangerous and edges closer to peer at the row of first-prints.

Lindon opens his mouth, closes it, then says quietly, "Sometimes." His brow knits. Elmo is suspicious and Lindon is clueless. "Sometimes they change things in later editions," he explains. "Not a lot, but little things. I think first editions are closet to the author's true work, blemishes and all. Of course, I tend to own multiple editions." There is a markup on the first editions, but it's not horrendous. The shopkeeper knows only nerds like Lindon will pay a lot more for what most folks care about not at all.

Elmo crouches down and snags a first-run of _Starship Troopers_. Still down there, he opens it and rapidly flips through its pages. That book is getting leafed through thoroughly and without particular care, but it must be said Elmo's hands are nimble. "Don't think there's nothing different," he says, tilting his head to look up at Lindon—then kind of blinks up at him. "Cripes, yer tall."

Lindon tries not to loom, but Elmo is crouching and Lindon is looking down at him. He's so used to being the awkward man no one pays attention to that it doesn't occur to him he's looming like a looming thing. He's been in New York long enough he's stopped dying on the inside from the grammar, thankfully. He blinks right back at Elmo, and he stops looming, which means he stands up taller. "Oh. Er, sorry."

Elmo snorts, going back to handling the absolute heck out of the book. "Whaddaya sorry for, bein' tall?" He shoves _Starship Troopers_ back where it came from and stands up, picking up _Stranger in a Strange Land_. "Hey, I don't have this one."

Lindon grimaces and starts to say something, then stops himself. Then he can't help a tiny, "Careful," as Elmo comes close to folding a page. The infraction is soon forgotten however as Elmo picks up Stranger in a Strange Land. He perks right up and says, "Oh, this one's good. You have to read it. I think it's his best. It's great."

"Yeah?" Elmo reads the back blurb. "Man from Mars raised by aliens. Sounds great." He means it, but sometimes everything sounds like sarcasm in that accent. "Whatcha like about it?" He's looking up at Lindon again, meeting his eyes this time, interested rather than suspicious.

"The back doesn't do it justice," Lindon says. "It takes an interesting look at life and religion. The concepts are trippy. I like anything that takes a hard look at the world and shows its reflection through fiction. The writing is good, but it's Heinlein so you know it's going to be."

Elmo goes to stuff the book into one of his coat pockets. Then reconsiders, gives Lindon a searching look, and tucks it under his arm instead. "Hey, did you say you have more than one of the same book?"

Lindon arches a brow and regards Elmo with the full brunt of a professional librarian. Oh yes, that 'you just sneezed and people are trying to read' look. "I do," he says. "I do tend to keep more than one edition of a book I like, yes. I intend to collect every edition of 'A Canticle for Leibowitz.'" If only he knew that, fifty years later, it will still be in print.

Elmo grins slyly back at that look. "You're gonna have a whole house full of the same five books. What good's that do ya?" He shakes his head, like he doesn't have a vast collection of junk waiting to be turned into something useful. "Yer pretty weird."

Lindon's brow knits and he looks at Elmo, then looks around just in case Elmo's talking to someone else, or if he heard Elmo correctly. But no, Elmo's talking to him and did just say that. "Ah, I'm not any stranger than any other bibliophile, I don't think." Still, he has to think about this, and he decides, "I might not keep editions past the third."

"Just to, what, sit around and look at?" Elmo's clearly picking on Lindon now, but relents. It's not any fun when they don't fight back. "You're weird, but that's okay. I like weird."

"I read them," Lindon says, and he looks so puzzled. What else does someone do with books aside gaze upon lovingly? "I reread things all the time." Alas, no, he's not a fighter. He folds his arms over his chest, somewhat self-conscious now, turning his shoulders inward, like that's going to make him smaller. "I, um. Good? I think. Good. I just like books, though." A pause, then, "My name's Lindon."

"I like books too. Maybe not as much as you do, though." Elmo shoves his hands back into his pockets, to protect himself from any incoming handshakes. "Hey, Lindon. I'm Elmo. Nicetameetcha. We both got the dorkiest names." This seems to cheer him up.

Those arms don't unfold. No handshakes happening here today. He doesn't look quite at Elmo, but in his vicinity, and his gaze skips along the air like someone reading, only there's no print there to be seen. "Derived from Erasmus, from the Greek erasmios which means 'beloved.'" He focuses at Elmo. "I don't think that's dorky. I was named after a tree." He offers a fleeting, uncertain smile. "I'd like to think it's after the land beyond the Ered Luin from Lord of the Rings, but I know it's just a family name."

"And here I thought I was named after my great uncle," Elmo says, smiling a little back, also a little uncertain. Maybe about that invisible reading thing Lindon just did. Maybe he's not used to being called 'beloved'. "I take it back. Not dorky." Then Lindon says that thing about Lord of the Rings. "Okay, we're back to dorky again."

Lindon actually laughs at that and ducks his head. "Yeah," He says, ducking his head. "Yeah, that's pretty dorky."

From the front of the store, the shopkeeper's voice calls, "You gonna buy something or kibitz with the help?"

Lindon rolls his eyes and shakes his head. "Al's all right," he says in a low tone. "You just have to get used to him." He then calls toward the front, "You win more flies with honey than vinegar, Al."

"What on earth would I do with a bunch of flies?" says Al.

Elmo yells back, "Ah, keep ya pants on!" without any sign of offense. This is just how New Yorkers do business: loud and rude. He hitches his eyebrows at Lindon in a resigned fashion and starts winding his way out of the bookshelf maze. "Ya boy knows a lot about books," he calls back at Al. "Let him drum up some business!"

Al grumbles in return, "I'm tryin'a run a business here." Lindon shakes his head. Why? Why are people like this? Why are New Yorkers mad to a man? Al snorts and says, "He's not my boy, he just hangs around here like a bad smell. I figure I might as well get some use out of him."

"Ours is a complicated friendship," Lindon offers, following after Elmo. When he gets within view of Al, he says, "I know you don't mean that."

Al waves Lindon off. Bah. He turns his attention to Elmo. So is he gonna buy a book or…?

Elmo plunks down the book, rummaging in yet another pocket for a couple of bucks. "What, you talked to me for /free/?" he asks, almost accuses, Lindon. "Hire this man," he tells Al, coming up with the money and handing it over.

Lindon shrugs and says, "Sure. You were asking after Heinlein." Like that's all there is to it.

Al shakes his head and tells Elmo, "Mr. Fancy Pants here works at the library as an archivist. Hey hangs out here because they make him leave when his shift's over."

Lindon adds, quieter, "They don't always make me leave."

Elmo seems thoroughly amused, waving his change back to Al, "Keep it," and looking at Lindon with fresh appreciation. "Yeah, well, thanks, buddy. Nice talkin' about Heinlein with you."

Al says, "Hey, thanks, kid. You're all right."

Lindon unfolds one arm to wave to Elmo. "Yeah," he says, "it was. See you around."

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