Bibliopaths and Beer


jonathan_icon.gif marlowe_icon.gif

Scene Title Bibliopaths and Beer
Synopsis Think it’s a horcrux?
Date November 27, 2018

Dirty Pool Pub

This wasn’t really a place he frequents, not that the rather bookish man goes out a whole lot anymore. Occasional Karaoke, but that’s about it for the moment. Working as a teacher and council was eating up the man’s time. So when his friend called him on his plain old home phone, he wasn’t able to refuse her invitation sit and have drinks.

Despite the snow, Jon agreed.

The type to arrive early, Jonathan is tucked over at one of the small tables, a drink next to him and a well worn book in front of him and an orange highlighter in his hand. Occasionally, he makes a mark with pen to highlight a phrase or passage. He left the suits at home, preferring a plain black tee and jeans tonight. A black leather jacket and a yellow/black stripe scarf draped over the back of the chair.

Jonathan Smith had been trying to find way to counter the misinformation that was coming out of the show River Styx. As much as he enjoyed the show, he knows for a fact it is very inaccurate. Especially, at the middle school and high school level, which the show was extremely popular.

Professor Smith will find the endeavor of combating the misinformation of River Styx to be, possibly, a lost cause at many levels. But that’s not the reason Marlowe called him out to the pub. The woman had found a friend in the councilman and she’s got her concerns with him working as hard as he does.

And, she had a little surprise. “Aren’t you quite the gentleman, showing up early instead of keeping a girl waiting,” remarks Marlowe as she appears in view suddenly while his nose is in the book. “Although not so much a gentleman as to have waited for her before ordering.” With the tease, she grins and slides a small bag onto the table before the man’s book and then sits.

The paper gift bag isn’t too fancy by Marlowe’s flashy standards, but doesn’t go unadorned. An elaborate blue ribbon tied to the handles looks deceptively complex given the way it’s tied at the handles. The same blue color as his Woody. “A small thing,” she explains vaguely, “for your car.” The woman’s grin gets an eager tint, waiting for him to unwrap and spot the mechanical part tucked inside the bag. It had been something they found each other to share, a passion for vintage cars and tinkering.

“What’re you reading, there?” comes the next curious question as she nods to the book and highlighter.

The approach pulls the man’s attention from the book and there is a brightening at seeing a friendly face. “Ms. Marlowe,” Jonathan offers with a smile, which quickly turns a bit crooked as he looks at the glass next to him. “Well, I guess we all can’t be perfect gentlemen,” he quips, tucking the highlighter into the binding as she sits. In truth, he might be needing the calming a drink gives.

The gift gets an amused, but appreciative smile. Brows lifting high as she explains what it is. “Really?” The book is exchanged for the gift. At the question, Jonathan pushes it a little closer for her to look at. “Wolves of Valhalla. It’s considered the book to read on the Vanguard. Quite a fascinating topic really. Kind of a Nazi’s in America kind of deal, but it is us — the expressive — they have a problem with. To be honest, if they had their way their would have totally wiped the world's population except for those they choose. ” All this is said, much like a teacher lectures a student, as he opens the gift and pulls out the part; the sight of which sends brows back up to their highest point.

“Where did you find this?” His friend gets a look of awe, cause clearly, Jon’s been having a hard time of it, especially without the resources he once had to find parts like that.

Leaning her chin on her hand, Marlowe watches the unwrapping with rapt attention. A coy smile breaks out when she's asked where she got the car part, one of her fingers wagging. "A lady needs to have some secrets," she answers before dipping her attention down to the book.

"What's this about Nazis in America? I mean, there's always been, but you kind of wish they'd get faded out of existence," Marlowe frowns faintly, flipping through. "Don't even get me going on what they think about Nazis in Japan. You see this face?" Her hand gestures in a round circle framing her own. "I'm going to need a few drinks in me for that lesson."

Her fingers skim through the lines, pausing on occasion to read a passage that he's highlighted when she finds one. He can see her brow pinch as she double-takes, flipping back to another page, then comparing. But it's not the words she's eyeing.

"Whose copy is this? Yours?" Marlowe asks after a pause. "Did they give you a pre-publishing edit or something? Look." She spins the book around so it faces him, and pokes a finger at an altered page number. "What's this about?"

There is an amused look about the source being secret, “Well, then… Thank you and I am sure Blue would thank you too if she could.” Yeah… Jonathan named his car.

Marlowe manages to pull his attention from the car part to the book, when she starts asking about it’s origin. “What do you mean? I’ve had that copy for awhile.” He sets down the part gingerly and pulls the book closer looking at the - “What happened to the number?”


“This makes no sense.” He pushes his glasses up on the bridge of his nose, as if Jon is getting down to business. He flips through the pages, stopping at other pages…

6800142576 9381071

Brows pinch together as he flips page to page, going back and forth a few times. "Huh.." Finally he stops on the last page and gives Marlowe a confused look. “It wasn’t always like this,” Jonathan sounds rather confused. “I swear, when I bought it, I read it, and the numbers were not like this.” He gives the book another flip. “I don’t get it.”

“Names give character,” Marlowe intones with a light smile for the fondness of the name he’s given his classic car. But it’s the book that really has her attention, and she leans over closer and watches as he flips through the book. Scrunching her nose, she looks just as perturbed as he does at first. A finger lifts, a pause, and she pushes up to her feet. “I’ll be right back,” she says as she heads over to the bar. Presumably, to order a drink. Which she does.

When she returns bearing a couple beers, she also has some napkins and a couple of coasters. “Tell me those numbers?” she asks, and sets the drinks down before settling back into her seat. Marlowe produces a pen from her purse, starting to write down the odd numbers on the napkins.

After each number is written on a separate napkin, with the oddity underlined, she starts to slide them around, expression shifting as she ponders. “Well, something’s definitely weird,” she says, leaning her chin on a crooked knuckle of her hand. “I guess the first question would be why are these page numbers like this? Or maybe the first question is more… you haven’t noticed this before? So, I guess I’m the first one?”

There is only a nod as Marlowe heads to the bar, brows furrowed a bit as Jon studies the problem at hand. There is a look of appreciation as the beer is set down in front of him. “Thank you,” is a bit distracted, but offered with a smile. He takes a drink before rattling off the numbers like she asks, watching her actions for a long moment. “I would have noticed this much of a page number change, especially,” he taps the largest of the numbers, “something like that.”

Leaning on the table, fingers rubbing at his shin thoughts fully, Jonathan makes an observation, “So the bold portion of the numbers are the actual page numbers.” Flipping to one of the pages he points out what he means.

Pushing the glasses up on his nose, Jonathan can’t help but chuckle, “Nothing like a mystery.” Jokingly, he comments, “Think it’s a horcrux?” Picking up the book, he turns it this way and that, scrutinizing the thing. “Too bad there are no basilisks around to give up their fangs.”

Jonathan… nerd.

Humored by the reference, Marlowe waggles her pen at the man. "Ok, but what House did you get sorted into? My guess is Hufflepuff." Still, the mystery of the numbers has her thinking. He could see the mental gears turning as she arranges and rearranges the napkins until he mentions the note of the bold portion. "Page numbers," echoes the engineer as she puts the numbers back in order.

Then, as she looks at the book itself, an idea strikes. She reaches into her purse to pull out her phone. Her frown of concentration enters her expression as she taps rapidly at the screen, much more so than the written version.

"I'm sending this info to a friend," she informs her other friend. "I think he'll have an idea of what this is." It's a matter of time before the reply comes, enough time that they can have a drink. But when her phone finally chimes receipt of a reply, she swipes up the device and has a look.


A tilt of her head later, she turns the screen so Jonathan can see too, the texted reply.


“Hid in books, waiting until the coast clears, waiting apart, segmented, forgotten?” Marlowe blinks again, but writes the words down on the napkins under the corresponding numbers. “A base 26 cipher. But who’s hid in what books? And what did they hide?” Her head shakes slowly, considering aloud, “Kind of makes you wonder what sort of weird things are left over from the war… But. Wait, didn’t you say it wasn’t like this when you got the book?” A brow arches up at the man again, formed around her drink as she takes another sip.

There is a lopsided smile at the mention of houses, and brightens when she guesses correctly, “How did you know? You seem more like a Ravenclaw or maybe even a Gryffindor. Can’t completely decide.” When the return text comes in, Jon leans over a bit - beer in hand - so he can read the words when she shows them to him.

“Huh,” he repeats thoughtfully after her.

Then he turns the phase over and over, saying it again and again under his breath, as if Jonathan was looking at a puzzle. Suddenly pushing the book aside, he grabs a napkin and pulls it close and manages to snag the pen. He scribbles down the words in a very neat and tidy font. Then pen taps on the table as he thinks. “Ah…” Slowly he added punctuation so that is reads:

Hid in books.

Waiting until the coast clears.

Waiting apart.



Brows furrow a little before Jonathan looks at the book again, reaching for it to pick it up. “No. It hadn’t been that way before… I don’t think, anyway.” Now he was doubting himself, turning the book this way and that. Flipping the pages quickly, but then suddenly stops.

“What if-” Jonathan trails off, shifting to offer the book to her to look at again, “Now this is crazy, but bear with me, cause we live in a crazy world after all. I mean, you can do things with metals and I’m pretty much invulnerable.” Not something he exactly talks about. “Who is to say there isn’t someone who could somehow fuse themselves in the pages of books.” There is a touch of excitement as he stabs a finger at the napkin, repeating the words: “Waiting apart. Segmented. What if there is someone who fused themselves into a stack of books, but then those books were separated.” Brows lift as he waits to see what she thinks.

“Ravenclaw as charged,” muses Marlowe with an amused smile, until they turn to the encryption of the book. Upon Jonathan’s crazy theory, she blinks several times at the theory. “You mean, not like hiding in books like they were crouching in bookshelves, but… hiding in books?” Her nose wrinkling, she lifts her hands off the book, as if the idea of touching it is suddenly intimately inappropriate.

But, it does say that she doesn’t dismiss the very real possibility. Brow furrowing with a look of concentration on the book, she seems worried. “The question is, what do we do about it? It doesn’t give any hints of where the other pieces are.” Or what they could even do if they found them. Glancing back up to Jonathan, Marlowe quirks up a brow. “What if we took the book to the library, or something,” she says after another short drink and a tap of her fingers beside the cover. “Maybe they have a… a book-no-path. Literapath? Bibliopath. Haha!”

The wordplay lifts her spirits again temporarily. Head shaking, the roller coaster of thought continues. “But, what that… forgotten part? What if they’re - what if they’re Humpty Dumpty’d? Can’t get put back together again? Oh no. No, no, but, we have to help.” Her eyes bounce from book to man to book, back to the man finally. “But it’s your book… your book, your call.”

Watching Marlowe work through all that, Jonathan smile turns more into a smirk of amusement over his glass of beer. “Bibliopath seems about right,” he says, his voice edged with that same amusement, finally speaking up once her train of thought has run its course. “I mean, I’ve heard of some crazy gifts, so it is not outside of the realm of possibility.”

Setting his glass down carefully the man turns thoughtful, leaning an arm on the table and drawing the book close and picking it up and turning the well worn spine towards himself. “I wonder if they were waiting for rescue.” His voice quiet and filled with pity for whoever may be trapped.

“It’s an odd thought, but I agree if this is real.” Jonathan does have some doubts, only because… it does sound awfully crazy given time to think on it. “I think the library is the best place, if anything to see if they have a copy of this book. Pretty sure Gillian would make sure something like this was in there.” he sets the book down and gives the cover a tap with a finger, before picking up his beer again, “Anyhow, we can see if it differs from this one.”

Jonathan drains the rest of his glass and stands, “First, though. I think we need another round,” since chances are the library will be closed. “I’m buying. Oh, and since we can’t do anything tonight… I know a place that has Karaoke. You like singing? You seem like you’re a bit stressed, I always find cutting loose with some Karaoke helps me.” He might also just be looking for an excuse to force someone to go with him.

“I can only imagine what it must be like to be able to manipulate and alter books,” Marlowe says with a continued sense of awe around the notion, “to the point you could put yourself in one. More than one.” He can see through her thoughtful expression, her mind swimming circles around concepts, possibilities, and concerns.

Like any engineer faced with the puzzle and given a problem, she wants to solve it. But Jonathan’s tone of quiet pity draws her away from the cold logic and she looks back over at him. Brows crease, and she nods once, reaching a hand over to the book and giving it a small pat. “I’m sure, if that’s the case, they’ve probably got plenty of other copies and people finding something’s up with theirs. Hopefully, it’s just this printing that is affected and not some other titles.” Marlowe makes a small face, nose wrinkling with that thought and the issues that would bring.

She glances back up when Jonathan stands, smile returning when he offers to buy. And better. “Oh? You’re asking me if I like karaoke?” His comment about her seeming stressed twists her lips into a wry smile. She pushes up to a stand as well, and gestures for him to lead on.

“Well Jonny, let’s find a spot then. And since you’re buying, I’ll even let you pick first song.”

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