1964-10-04 - Repairman
Summary: Lindon takes a coffee maker in to get repaired by Elmo.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
elmo lindon 

It's a gorgeous early-fall day, the kind of day everybody wants to enjoy outside. Sadly, some don't have the freedom. Like Elmo, who is slouched behind the counter of this dingy little homewares-and-repair shop in the Lower East Side. He's got his folding chair tipped back on two legs, tweaking a bit of wire with a pair of pliers. He looks absorbed with an overlay of annoyance.

Lindon has business on the Lower East Side anyway, looking for some rare books. Since he's in the neighborhood, he goes first to the repair shop, his broken coffee maker under one arm.. He steps inside, gawkish, and says, "Hello?" It's that guy from the bookstore. The Heinlein nerd.

Elmo looks up when the door bell rings, expression souring. Then he recognizes Lindon and his entire face relaxes into something much more welcoming. "Hey," he says, tipping his chair forward with a thunk and getting up to lean over the counter. "Hey, I know you, you're the guy from the library. You'reuh" he snaps his fingers a few times, trying to pin down a name. "Tree, ya named after a tree. Larch?

Lindon smiles. "Hey," he says. He knows Elmo! Ish. It's better than dealing with a complete stranger. "Lindon," he says. "You're Elmo." He remembers little details. More like they carve themselves into his head, on tap for a mere thought. He approaches the counter and awkwardly puts his coffee maker on it. The pot he left at home so he wouldn't break it. "Hi. So. It stopped working." No, Lindon just brought it around because it gets lonely.

"Lindon!" Elmo echoes, with the delight of someone who's been told what that word on the tip of their tongue is. "Yeah, Lindon. Sure, you remember /my/ name, make me look like the jerk." His tone is that New Yorker mix of jocular and insulting. "Whatcha got there? Hey, little man," he says, apparently to the coffeemaker. "Gonna have a look at you, okay?"

Lindon shakes his head and says, "You don't look like a jerk." He's dressed better than the last time Elmo saw him. Someone sprung for tailored clothing. No more bare wrists and highwaters. It's a subtle difference, but it does wonders for his look. He bobs his head in a nod when Elmo says he's going to take a look at the coffee maker. "It made a churning sound, then sputtered out."

Elmo smirks, a little, at Lindon. "Funny guy." He touches the housing gently, then, not gently, picks up the machine and flips it over. "Probably power surge burned out a wire," he explains to Lindon, with no sense that maybe Lindon isn't interested. Isn't /everybody/ interested in electrical stuff? Picking up a screwdriver, he has the housing off and his hands in the thing's guts without a single care for the electricity it might still be storing.

The thing is, Lindon looks innocent. He perks up and nods, and he asks, "Can you fix it?" Elmo's presumption proves correct. For once, Lindon's having a problem that's just a normal problem normal people have. No spirits, no dark powers. Just a power surge. "I've had this coffee maker since I first moved to New York. It's only three or four years old. I'd hate to get rid of it."

Elmo glances up at Lindon with a long sideways smile. "Ain't been the coffee maker born that I can't fix. You came to the right guy." He presses down on something metal inside the machine and flinches, just a tiny bit, might be he just caught a sharp edge. A little puff of ozone snakes out of the machine. "I'm supposed to try to sell you a new one," he adds, clearing his throat before diving back in to free the wiring. "Hell with that." He looks over his shoulder to see if anybody caught him not selling a new coffeemaker, looks back at Lindon, and pauses, hands going still. "Hey. Nice threads."

Lindon echoes the smile, then blinks a bit at the ozone puff. "Are you all right?" he asks with a soft tremor of laughter, more surprised than amused. His smile broadens, though, and he says, "If anyone asks, you tried and I declined. I like this coffee maker. It's been with me faithfully." Glancing down at himself, he ducks his head and grins. "Thanks. My housemate said it was high time I got a decent wardrobe."

"He was right. No offense," Elmo adds, offhandedly, not really expecting Lindon to take offense. "You look a lot better. I mean…you know…" he averts his eyes, like he realizes he's said too much. "I got this friend and we talk about clothes a lot. Don't mean anything by it. Anyway, yeah, I'm fine, just a little residual juice—don't try this at home, though. I'm an expert."

Lindon says, "Oh, he was, I know. I just bought clothes that covered me, you know? I never paid much attention to it." That he looks better gets a grin. At least he doesn't seem to think anything negative of it. "It was a very nice thing to say," he offers. "Thank you." He nods then at the warning not to try it at home. "I'd rather leave it in the hands of the experts. I know a lot of things but I don't know how to do a lot of things."

Elmo plucks out a bit of burned wire. It was once copper, now it's carbon. "There's the culprit," he says with relish. He looks curiously up at Lindon—kind of a long way up at Lindon, he's short. "Well, I sure couldn't manage an archive. Can't even manage my own life," he mutters as an afterthought. Meanwhile his hands are working almost on their own: rummaging for a spool of wire, getting out a soldering iron and wire clippers.

Lindon leans over to get a look. "You couldn't manage an archive?" he asks with a twitch of a smile. "They're not too difficult. I guess I've got an organized kind of mind." He watches the work with interest. Every opportunity to learn something new is taken. "Archives are easy," he murmurs, "life's difficult. It makes no sense. At least fiction has some kind of internal sense."

Elmo shakes his head. "Always meaning to organize my workshop, then I don't. I could probably get stuff done faster if I did, but can't make it happen." He thinks about it. "I keep the little stuff kind of organized. Screws, nails, bobbins, stuff like that. Eh, you don't want to listen to me babble." He waves as if to shoo the words away. "You want a working coffee maker!"

"Are the two mutually exclusive?" Lindon asks. "I don't mind listening to you talk." Elmo has an interesting accent after all. He's the authentic New York experience. Looking around the place, he says, "At work I use the Dewey Decimal System, but at home I have my own, and it makes perfect sense to me, but to others it's apparently utter chaos.'

Elmo's bent over the machine, wielding the soldering iron with precision. Lindon saying that he likes to listen to him talk gets him suddenly a bit flustered; he mumbles "Thanks" under his breath, cheekbones getting rosy. He hangs up the iron and rubs his face with his sleeve, so he can't be accused of having been flattered. "Uh, yeah, right, I mostly know where stuff is," he says, hurrying to pick up the thread of conversation. "Works good enough, I guess." He pretends to be extremely busy fussing around the coffeemaker to avoid looking Lindon in the face.

Lindon grins, watching someone else blush for a change. Now he's seeing the reasons Lamont teases him. It's kind of adorable. "It sounds like you have your own system. Whoever else says you don't is just like… like those diehards that think you should use the Dewey everywhere, even at home." He shakes his head. Oh, those guys.

Elmo also shakes his head. "Jeez. Where's the fun in that? Can't pile up books next to the bed on the Dewey." He considers Lindon, tipping his head to the side. "Yeah, I guess I do have a system. Just not like those pretty ones in Popular Mechanics." Grabbing the power plug, he holds up it, as if presenting it for inspection. "Moment a'truth."

"Oh, I almost never read in bed," Lindon says. He starts to say something else, then snaps his mouth shut. The reason he rarely reads in bed isn't fodder for casual discussion. His cheeks tinge a shade. "Yeah, moment of truth," he says. "If you manage to save my coffee pot, you'll be one of my favorite people."

Elmo gives Lindon the barest flicker of a look, like maybe he caught that and maybe he thought of a wisecrack to make about it and maybe he decided he wasn't going to. Ceremoniously he jabs the plug's prongs into one of the several outlets lining the underside of the counter. The red power light comes on and stays on without trouble. "An' for my next trick," he says cheerfully.

Lindon clasps his hands together and says, "Hooray! I love this little guy." There, he admits it. He has feelings for his coffee maker. "I don't use it as much as I used to, but maybe I'll move it to the house in case it's feeling lonely." He scuffs a foot and adds, "Sorry, that must sound ridiculous. What do I owe you?"

"Ain't ridiculous in the least," Elmo says, unplugging. "They like to be useful. It's what they're made for." He does that thing again — pressing his thumb to a metal bit of the machine. This time his entire hand twitches and he grunts a little, as if he was shoved. He shakes his hand out, reminding Lindon, "Absolutely never do that." The housing goes back on, Elmo screwing it into place with swift, delicate turns of the screwdriver. "Well," he says, glancing up at Lindon, a little shy, "I'll give you a discount. Maybe you want to —" his voice cracks, he grimaces. "Uh, talk about science fiction sometime? I'm reading that book. I got questions about it. A lot of questions."

Lindon says solemnly, "I will never do that." He eyes Elmo like he might be more than a little odd because he's opted to do that. "You know that electricity can cook your heart like a hot dog, right?" He clucks his tongue, but his features are gentle, soft with humor. "I'd love to talk about science fiction sometime," he says, his smile brightening a little. "That would be fun. Maybe over coffee." He pats the coffee maker.

"Sure can," Elmo agrees, "but I'm an expert." He waggles his fingers as if demonstrating expertise, then grins a big beaming grin at Lindon. "Great. Eight bucks." Pulling out a receipt form, he starts writing. "Here's my number. Might need to let it ring a lot. Kinda loud in my shop sometimes."

Lindon takes out his wallet and produces a crisp five and three slightly more wrinkled ones. "Here you go," he says as he offers it over. "I'll gather together some titles you might like," he says. "Depending on what you think of Heinlein. If this book doesn't grab you, some of his earlier work, the juveniles, are actually really good." He takes out an old receipt from his wallet and asks, "Might I borrow your pen?"

Elmo does something a bit odd with the pen: he sets it down and pushes it towards Lindon, instead of just passing it over, and gets his hand out before any possible accidental contact can happen. He does it with absentminded ease, like this is just how he hands pens over. Some people might find it insulting, this clear declaration that he doesn't want even the most neutral touch. "I dunno what I think of it," he says as he goes through this weird little process. "I liked the first part. Now it's gotten kinda…uh. Racy." Another quick look towards the back office. "But in a way that's…Eh, I don't know how to say it."

Good old socially clueless Lindon notes the oddity but attaches no meaning to it. People do things, and he doesn't understand. Even if he twigs to the 'no contact' undertones, the why of it? Lost on the poor man. He just takes the pen with a fleeting smile and says, "Thank you." He writes down two numbers and offers them over. "If I'm not at one, try the other. If a man who isn't me answers, just tell him you're a friend of mine." He passes the paper and pen over. "Weird?" he says.

"Weird," Elmo agrees with an amused huff. "Definitely weird." He picks up Lindon's number and hastily stuffs it in a pocket. "If anything else breaks, bring it to me, yeah? Or even if it's working but not as good as you want. I can fix that too. And if it's useless to fix it, I can pay you for the parts."

Lindon smiles, self-conscious yet warm. "I'll do that. I'll have to see how everything in the house is working just to have a reason to come hang out." Smooth. So smooth. "I might need someone to come look at my stove. The third burner won't work half the time."

Well, that embarrasses the heck out of Elmo, and he has a hard time trying to hide it. He gets kind of red again and folds his arms, tucking his hands under so they're out of sight. "You—you don't gotta do that," he mutters, looking away. But the mention of something to fix makes him look back. "I can probably work that out. There ain't so much I can't fix."

"I know I don't," Lindon says amiably. "I like talking to you. You're interesting. You're funny sometimes." Because Elmo being mean to Lindon in the bookstore was the height of hilarity. "I could use friends that aren't, you know, all from one place or work or such." Someone who isn't neck deep in mystical intrigue.

Elmo shakes his head, smiling in a wry, self-deprecating way. "You must be thinking of some other guy. I'm an obnoxious jerk, everybody knows that." He shrugs, just a twitch of one shoulder. "Thanks, though," he adds, quieter. "I could use a friend too."

Lindon offers his hand to shake. "Then we're friends," he decides. "I don't know about obnoxious. I think you're bright, and maybe people just don't see it. Normal people just don't get smart people. Sometimes it's kind of tedious. Which is mean, but…" He shrugs a shoulder. Hey, find the lie.

Elmo looks at Lindon's hand, worried. He takes a deep breath and grabs, shakes, and lets go almost in one movement. That was so rude that even he's compelled to say "Sorry…just, touching, kinda scary. Friends—if you can stand me." He listens with a dawning sense of wonder. "Yeah! You ever get beat up for being smart? I used to, all the time."

Lindon blinks a bit in confusion, but then says, "It's all right, I'm not usually much of a toucher myself." It's just not possible to insult the guy, is it. "I can stand you, Elmo. I like you. Besides, I know some real curmudgeons and I like them just fine. I live with one." He nods dolefully, leaning one hip against the counter. "Yeah, when I was growing up, I got beaten up, or my lunch taken away, or called names like nerd and Poindexter. My best friend growing up was my cat. It's pretty sad."

Elmo makes a sound of disgust. "Morons. They got no right to treat you like that. Goyim used to beat me up for bein' Jewish, and Jews would beat me up for bein' small and too smart. And both of 'em beat me up for being weird." He narrows his eyes, seeing into the past. "I can take care of myself now though."

Lindon shakes his head and says, "It's so maddening. It makes no sense, except it ties into some animalistic urge in people to push away the 'other' out of some weird tribal mentality." He lowers his gaze and murmurs, "I'm Catholic. Well. Raised Catholic. I'm not very good at it." He smiles fleetingly. Then he says, "I don't care, you know, about you being Jewish. You're just Elmo as far as I care."

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