Log:Afternoon at the Bookstore

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Afternoon at the Bookstore

Gisa Cohen and Logan Brenner

8 May, 2017

Logan takes Gisa's invitation to come to the bookstore; they talk about a lot of things.


MT03 - Tamarack Falls Jewish Bookstore

It's afternoon in the back room of the Jewish Bookstore; Alonso is manning the front room today. Gisa is settled on one of the couches like she owns the damn place or something. She is leaning against the arm, a pillow tucked between her arm and that of the couch. Propped on the end of that same couch arm is a half-full glass of red wine, balanced neatly. One ankle's propped on the opposite knee, forming a platform on which she can rest her book -- a battered volume that's clearly well-loved and quite old, with post-its sticking out of various pages and notations in the margins. Things underlined. That sort of thing. Her right hand balances the book, holds a pen, turns pages right to left occasionally, and sometimes makes a little note in a margin or underlines something. Thoughtful Golem Face. The shin on her forehead glows with a gentle, steady light.

Speaking of light...you actually see Logan's light before you see the man himself. A golden, sunlight glow precedes him into the room, quickly followed up by a gust of shadow, as though one is always trying to erase the others. And there he is, dressed casually today in a blue button-down shirt that matches his eyes, chinos, and blue and red suede sneakers reminiscent of '70s athletic wear. He's holding a book in one hand, and he offers you a bright smile as he enters, whether or not you're looking his way. "Nice place you got here, Gisa."

Her shin flares briefly as the door opens and closes, and she closes her book and sets it aside. For the observant, she's reading 'Jewish Literacy' by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, which has a lot of Post-It notes and notations in the border and all the like. Apparently Gisa subscribes to the school of thought that if there's room in the margins you aren't taking enough notes. She rises to her feet, untucking one of those bare feet from underneath her, the ceramic of her soles clicking against the wood floor on contact. "Shalom. I am pleased you took me up on my offer of hospitality." The flames in her eyepits flicker and flash, and she continues, "Coffee? Wine?" Of course she's curious what he's reading, but it is kind of tough to tell if she's openly checking the book or not.

"Shalom," Logan says back, agreeably enough, and he doesn't even butcher the pronunciation. Granted, that's a fairly easy word to say. "Yes, thank you for inviting me! I would love some water." Just as you are curious about the book he has, his blue eyes move to the one you're reading. The book he's holding is from your own bookstore: The Chosen by Chaim Potok. A classic. He shows you the cover with a grin. "My friend Dross told me this one is good, and I noticed it out front. Thought I'd pick it up."

Her eyebrows arch up her otherwise largely inexpressive face at the book choice, and Gisa trundles over toward the mini kitchen that's tucked into the corner of the back room. "It is a very, very good one. I have not read it in some time, perhaps I will re-read it so that I may better discuss it with you when you are finished. Make yourself at home, of course." Gisa fetches him water; she's still got her half-glass of wine. Handing it over, she adds, "I also very much like Kavalier and Clay, and the Yiddish Policemen's Union, if you like modern Jewish fiction." Returning to her seat, she settles back in, picking up her glass of wine once more. "I was glad to meet Dross, though we did not get to truly meet. He is new?"

Logan takes a chair after she hands him the water; he grins and thanks her. "I'd definitely love to discuss it. Truth be told, I haven't read any modern Jewish fiction. So this'll be the first." Or probably any Jewish fiction. But he's probably one of the WASPiest Lost in town, which is truly saying something in Yankee New England. He crosses his legs guy-style and nods in your direction. "We've known each other awhile, but he decided to come here for the peace and quiet. So he's staying at my house." 'House' being a rather inadequate choice of words for the huge mansion Logan inhabits, though Gisa may not know that. He takes a glance around the room and comments, "So, this is a gathering place for Lost as well? It's good to see so many people opening their homes and businesses to the community like that."

The chairs are all soft and slightly overstuffed -- they're clearly made for long socializing or lengthy afternoons with a book. "Oh, you probably have and just don't know it. We are everywhere." One of Gisa's eyeflames winks out and then back on again, and she picks up her wine, a little squeak of her fingers on the glass as she does. One of her feet is tucked back underneath her, an unusually casual posture for a normally very formal person. "There is only so much peace and quiet wherever a number of us gather, but it is no Old City," acknowledges the golem thoughtfully. "It is. This is where we will be having Shabbos dinner this week, the Dawns. I try to keep it to only those who are sworn to the Freehold, though I have made exceptions for other Dawns. Alonso stayed here before he was sworn. There is always food, clothing, a safe place to sleep, and a first-aid kit here." Her glass of wine raises, pointing to various places around the room as she does. The cabinets and refrigerator (two-sided, one side marked 'milk' the other marked 'meat' in clear signs -- both the cabinets and the fridge), the closet, the couch on which she sits, the first-aid kit hanging on the wall. "There is a Wayhouse, also, but I do not think many people gather there. CJ was just mentioning it the other day, that we should encourage this."

Logan laughs at Gisa's everywhere comment -- a musical little sound. He has a pleasant, boyish voice, with a laugh to match. Then he listens to her explain about the purpose of the room, and how it's being used. "I think that's very good of you. And I agree. I've been thinking about joining the Waykeepers, actually." He takes a sip of water and continues, "I also consider my house a place Lost can come if they need to feel safe, as it's remote and has good security. I mean, it's still my home, so I might not open it to the public at large. But we're not really 'the public,' are we?" He smiles, head tilted just a little bit. "Anyway, I'm really looking forward to that Shabbos dinner. I've never been to one!"

"I am a Custodian, myself, and think that is the best use of my time. I do sometimes have to travel to Israel to help new escapees from my Keeper -- I do not have to, I suppose, but I choose to do so -- so I do a similar thing, and I like to keep the functions distinct." Gisa's head tilts to one side thoughtfully. "I do appreciate that someone is taking up that function here, though." She takes another swallow of her wine; Gisa drinks very, very slowly, tiny sips, tasting her drink. "Oh, that is generous of you. Where is your home, so I might know it for this purpose?" A soft chuff of breath at the question he asks, rhetorical as it is. "What do you consider 'the public,' so that I might respect your boundaries?" There is a specific way she speaks and asks questions, and while it is a little repetitive, well. It's how a golem do. "You never have? Well, that should not be surprising here. It is mostly just dinner, but it is good to be with others on a regular basis. If it goes well I will do it more often."

Logan is a very good listener, so if he seems at all put off by the repetititon, it certainly doesn't show on his pleasantly handsome features. "You travel back to Israel to help new escapees? That's -- wow." Logan shakes his head, impressed. "Really admirable." It's like he's on the very edge of asking more questions about that, but he moves on instead, as Gisa has. "It's called Phoibos House. You can't miss it." He describes an address perched atop a mountain above Tamarack Falls. It's easily one of the most expensive homes in the area, valued at several million dollars, so she may know about it. A grand white palace, really, full of windows and marble. "I guess 'the public' might be anyone I hadn't met first. I think I'd want to vet most people...on the other hand, if someone was bleeding and desperate? Of course they could come anyway. I have more than enough room." Tapping his sneaker-clad foot, he nods his golden head as she describes Shabbos. "I think it sounds fun," he says agreeably. "Should I bring or do anything special that evening?"

"The Desert is a very harsh Keeper, and many who come out of its realm are very damaged." As if that should explain everything. Gisa clearly doesn't think that's super impressive or admirable: she just thinks it's life. His compliments are waved off with one hand, but all the same, the shin on her forehead glows once more, then fades once more. "Also, I do like Old Town. It is a respectable freehold. Fraught, but they work things out."

"Phoibos House." She repeats the words, as if tasting them, and then nods. Her eyebrows rise again. "I know this house, I walk past it when I walk to synagogue on Fridays, if Dielle is not driving me to the Reform one that is about an hour by car. It is a very pretty house." That's an understatement, no doubt. "And you are a pretty man, so these things fit." Elementals. "This is very sensible, your boundaries. No one you have not met yet, unless there is a dire need."

Her tongue clicks. "You do not need to bring anything but yourself. If you choose to bring food, I do ask that you do not bring anything that is ... overtly trayf." Gisa explains the term immediately: "Trefy, or treyfa, is a forbidden food, not just non-kosher but... " Her nose wrinkles up a little. "Shellfish, shrimp, pork, meat together with dairy. That kind of thing. Do not bring a pork sausage pizza, and all is well. To wear, you wear your normal clothes. To do, you act as you would at any friend's house for a party of dinner. I will light the candles. We will say the prayers over bread and wine first, no one is obligated to pray with me, that is okay. Then we eat together, and know each other better, and have hope for the future in each other's company."

"The Desert," Logan repeats. "I would think a Keeper would have to be harsh, with a name like that." The desert alone bringing up all sorts of associations. He takes a sip of water and explains with a smile, "'Phoibos' (which he pronounces like 'phee-bus') means 'shining' in ancient Greek. It was an epithet of Apollo." He can't help but laugh at the idea that, being pretty, he needs a pretty house to match. "Well, I suppose you're right. Wise," and he has to smile again. But then again, he's smiling most of the time.

Then he's listening carefully when Gisa explains what not to bring to Shabbos. "Okay, got it. There are different kinds of Jewish cooking too, right? One is more Eastern European, and one is more Mediterranean, I think? Is there a style you prefer? I'd like to bring a dish."

Her head tips back and forth. "It may have another name. The desert is what it is. But the desert can be beautiful. It can bloom. I have seen it. It is harsh, though, you do have that true." She turns the glass in her hand slowly, ceramic fingertips with carved-in nails walking slowly around the glass globe. It's an absent gesture while she thinks. "Shining. Well. I suppose that's what you would have to name it. Is it a thing you inherited, with that name, or did you rename it? Or did you buy it?" Gisa's attention is focused entirely on Logan, if the tilt of her head is anything to judge by.

"I love all kinds of Jewish cooking. We are everywhere -- there is Jewish cooking from every continent. Ashkenazi -- that is the Eastern European style, I grew up with that mostly, and Sephardic, and Israeli, and many other. If you find something you like or know something you like or you want to try, then bring it. I will be making lamb, so pass on the dairy."

Logan nods. Sometimes, little gestures like this make the light around him move, too, always quickly chased by shadow. "I've been to the desert, actually, though not that one. The Mojave. A few others. And I've seen them in bloom, too." His smile broadens, dimples showing. "It's quite a sight to see, for sure."

He taps his foot a little as he thinks. "Oh, I renamed it. It's a vacation home I purchased some time ago," and he seems to realize that there is no way to make that sound modest, but he keeps going anyway. "but I've decided to spend more time there as of late." Then he nods as you explain the cooking, and suddenly grins. "What are those little potato things called? The crispy kind? I love those! Wonder if you could find them around here?" Knishes. He's talking about knishes, but doesn't know the word.

"Every desert has its own personality. The Mojave, the Gobi, the Sahara... I find it kind of funny that most deserts, in their own languages, just mean 'desert.' I think it... says something about how my Keeper became what it is." To those who live there, every desert is The Desert: all-encompassing and harsh in their own ways. Her forehead wrinkles up trying to pair together the idea of 'vacation home' and the house she has seen on her walks through town. But he distracts her with food talk -- especially Jewish food talk! -- and her face smooths out again. "Latkes? Knishes? Latkes are the bigger ones."

"That makes a lot of sense," Logan says affably, "in as much as Keepers can make sense, I guess." He understands that Arcadia has its own logic away from everything else, as well. And, yes, if Phoibos House is Logan's vacation home, that has to mean he has other houses -- and whatever must /those/ look like? He smiles at the golem, showing off his perfect teeth. "Maybe it is latkes? I'm not sure. The ones I had were kinda like puff pastries. Anyway, you really can't go wrong with things that are made of potatoes. That's how I feel about it." He chuckles and readjusts his posture, although he always manages to look both alert and relaxed at the same time. It's a gift. His brilliant blue eyes study Gisa for a long time before he says, "I don't think I've ever met another Lost like you. I mean, we're all super-different, sure, but you seem especially unique to me."

"Those are knishes," she assures him, taking another small swallow of her wine. "I like those a lot. And yes, potatoes are good, generally speaking. Unless they are boiled to death, that is not a way I like potatoes." Her nose wrinkles up again at that, almost like when she was talking about treyfa. "What do you mean?" Gisa is taken aback, slightly, or perhaps a little confused.

Logan smiles, as if to put her at ease. He himself rarely looks anything but perfectly at ease, after all. "Maybe it's just that I haven't met another golem. That's what you are, right?" If she hasn't said it directly herself, then he's probably heard somebody else say it, or just heard it through the grapevine. This town and Freehold are only so big, after all. "I think that's really interesting. I'm sorry if you feel put on the spot," and he laughs suddenly, holding up a hand. "I don't mean it that way, or to single you out. I'm just endlessly fascinated by all of the interesting people in this tiny corner of the world!"

She does relax, then. Perhaps because of his smile, perhaps because of the words that follow. "Oh. Yes. That is what I am. I am not the only golem in the world, though." Literal elemental is literal. "That is part of why I go to Old City every so often. The Desert does not make goylomim -- that is impossible. Only a Jew can make goylomim. Usually rabbis. Not always. So I go to Old City. And escapees who are Jewish, I can help them to remake themselves." Gisa finishes the last of her wine, sets the empty glass on an end table, leans back a bit in her chair. "No, it is okay. I was only confused. I do not think I am that interesting."

Logan's blue eyes widen slightly when Gisa explains how goylomim are made. "Wow. Did you escape a long time ago?" He is still nursing that water and might be for a long time. Then he laughs, that musical little laugh that makes the light around him waver a bit. "Trust me, you are. I don't think I've met anyone here who is boring, have you? I hope I'm not too boring, either." There's a very quick-flash wink of one of those blue eyes. "I hope you and the other Dawns will come to my party. I'm sending invitations out to the Freehold. It will be for charity, so let me know if there are any organizations you'd like to see some of the proceeds go to. 'Tzedakah,' right?" Once again, Logan manages not to butcher the word. Some people are just a natural at languages.

A subtle smile crosses Gisa's face, then, a rare occasion of the golem emoting. "Almost ninety years ago." She rises to her feet, takes her glass over to the sink, and rinses it out, setting it aside for later washing. "Oh, no. But there is a difference between 'boring' and 'not so interesting.' I am just who I am, that is all." The golem turns, leans her backside against the counter for a moment, considering his words. "Oh, I am planning to do that, yes. I will come to that party. And yes, I will think of charities. You should think maybe of the Rainbow Railroad. They are bringing gay men out of Chechnya. I will try to think of others." There's a small flash of her eyes again when he manages 'tzedakah.' "Yes. That is the word. I do not understand how 'social justice' is a bad word now. Thank you for your social justice." She claps her hands together, adding, "I should go to help Alonso close up the shop. You stay here, if you like. You are a guest."

Logan watches, and listens, and nods. "Social justice is a necessity. Without it, where would he be?" He get to his feet, though, after finally finishing all the water. The glass is brought over to her so as not to dirty up the back room. "Thank you, but let me go and buy this book before the two of you close for the day. Gisa, I've really enjoyed our time." He will shake her hand if she lets him -- a warm and hearty shake. Very confident. Very American. And then he will give a jaunty little wave and a blinding grin as he departs. "Bye!"