Christmas Comics


anna_icon.gif laura_icon.gif marjorie_icon.gif

Scene Title Christmas Comics
Synopsis Laura and Marjorie visit Sam's Comics for Christmas-related purchases. The discussion that ensues wanders into completely different realms, as discussions do.
Date November 20, 2010

Sam's Comics

Even from the outside, this store clearly caters to specific crowds. Cardboard standees of Spiderman, vie with Gandalf and one of the many manifestations of Dr. Who, and small posters declare release dates for various comics. Once inside, it is clear that comic books are the main sell. Everything from the most well-known to the obscure are present, lined up on the walls and on metal racks, every single one bagged and boarded individually to protect them from damage until they are sold. The store is updated weekly, so all the newest titles are available. Off to the side in a corner are other merchandise, action figures, board games, and figurines that make this place a haven for geeks. Right by the entrance is the counter with a display of the many manifestations of dice, with packets of cards sold behind it keeping the cash register company.

Noon, two hours until the end of shift for one particular teenager. The girl's name is Anna, and she's one of the few females to be seen in the store, not to mention that she's an employee to boot. Her name tag proudly says 'Anna James', and she's clearly recognisable as one of the employees.

As for the store, it's not as busy as the usual saturday, but there's still plenty of folks around. Some of which are browsing, some of which are hanging around with friends, and some of which are staring impolitely at Anna… hey, it is a nerd haven, after all.

Anna does her best to ignore those who are staring, and instead works on reading a comic behind the counter, waiting for someone to require her attention. Her smile is one of those perfected retail ones… you know, the perfect combination of 'I'm glad to see you' and 'How can I help you' forged into a fake smile.

The woman who walks through the door has the immediately recognizable air of not a frequent visitor. A practiced eye might even spot the nuances of manner that proclaim her not even familiar with other comic stores — although she's self-assured enough to show no hesitation. The gray pants she wears aren't quite casual, though the powder-blue coat definitely isn't business wear. Neither is the cheerfully impish smile that shapes the expression beneath short, pale hair.

Laura crosses over to the desk, since that's the obvious place to ask for help finding things. "Hey, mind if I interrupt you for a bit?"

There is someone here. She slipped in awhile ago while people were looking the other way. Not to be devious, of course — never anything like that. She just happened to come in while no one was looking, and she moves quietly. Marjorie Mihangle is not the same girl she used to be. No longer does she smle everyplace that she goes, instead she seems to have been replaced with a professional, steely determination. And that determination today, in jeans and an oversized shirt — very unusual for her — has her in a comic book store with a list. She's got a basket full and she's buying some everyday comics, and some more expensive ones. Christmas shopping!

As she is addressed, Anna closes the comic she was reading, putting a slip of paper in to remember the page, and focuses that retail smile at Laura, "Good day, ma'am, of course I don't." She puts her fingers together and on the counter, "How can I help you today?" Anna's gaze flickers briefly towards Marjorie, but soon returns to meet Laura's eyes. As it comes close, it becomes apparent that the fake smile can't quite conceal a lack of happiness in the teenaged girl.

Laura tips her head to one side, considering Anna for a moment. Then she reaches into a coat pocket and pulls out a folded piece of paper. Flattening it out and sliding it across the counter reveals a computer printout — the cover of Marvel Zombies #1. Her smile gets a little lopsided, quirking sideways; there are a dozen reasons she could want it, but that expression bodes mischief for someone. "I'm looking for this particular issue. I think it came out in December '05. Would you happen to have it?"

Marjorie, with her basket full of 'common' things, is now stepping up into the line. She's looking from her list to the collection of more expensive, 'rare' comics that are behind the counter. She'll need a couple of those too, you know. It wouldn't be a proper Christmas without some rare ones that, even if Owain got a job cutting lawns or something, he couldn't afford. Her face is paler than usual, but as she sees Anna, her painted red lips turn into a fond, sad smile. Hello, dear. That's what her face says.

All business, Anna doesn't think they have it, but she runs it through the computer just to be sure. "I'm afraid we don't have one in stock at the moment, ma'am, however, I could look up if we could arrange a copy to be procured… we have our resources, ma'am." The girl responds, still with that retail smile. A glance is given to Marjorie again, returning the wordless greeting, before returning to look at Laura, "I'm afraid it won't be cheap, however… it seems this issue has far higher demand than supply, so if we are even able to find a supplier, it'll cost quite a bit of money." Pause, "And we will want to be paid before we arrange the comic for you. Orders like this are non-refundable."

Laura waits patiently as Anna consults her systems, looking over to Marjorie as the woman comes up beside her. She offers an amiable smile, then turns her attention back to Anna when the teenager announces the results. And chuckles softly at the pronouncement. "Not to worry," she replies. "Could you go ahead and set the order up?" While Anna does this, Laura glances to Marjorie again. "Christmas presents?" she guesses at the collection in hand.

Majrorie smiles a little. Not the smiles she used to smile, you can hardly see her dimples…but they are smiles none the less. "Yes, for my son. He's ten, he loves these…" she lifts one of the ones to look at the title in order to recite it. "…Watch-Men. I really don't know much about them. I've flipped through them to make sure they weren't terribly innapropriate, but other than that I just copy down things I've heard him mention. Well," she smiles a little, almost guiltily. "That and peeking at his note to Santa Claus."

And the systems are consulted again, after a few moments, Anna looks back up at Laura, "We have an affiliate store in Los Angeles which has a copy in stock, considering the price they're asking, our rate for the comic will be two hundred dollars." She smiles politely, "Would you like to pay cash or card? We accept both debit and credit cards." Then another glance is given to Marjorie, and a playful 'shhh' as she gives a meaningful glance to a nearby pair of kids.

"Cash," Laura replies, without pause for thought. She produces a wallet from somewhere within her coat, sliding the bills out and setting them on the counter. "Isn't that what those notes are for?" is asked of Marjorie, a sly smile tugging at the woman's lips. "I distinctly remember when I found out my dad cheated that way." A pause. "It was also when he realized he couldn't stash presents anywhere in the house. I'd gotten too good at finding them." Laura smirks at the memory, but also shrugs. "I'm sure your son will appreciate it anyway."

She looks across the counter at Anna. "Do you write a wishlist for Christmas?" Laura asks. "Not to Santa, obviously, but generally?"

Marjorie looks down at the comics again. "I wouldn't necessarily call it cheating," Marjorie explains, softly. Not wanting to necessarily disagree, but doing it all the same. "After all, he's getting his presents, isn't he? If I didn't look at the notes, then he might not get what he wants. Doesn't hurt to use the resources to give them exactly what they're asking for. Besides, it increases the element of surprise. You know, 'Only Santa knew I wanted that.' Christams is more fun when they get what they want and the weren't expecting it."

As she puts the money into the cash register, Anna smiles at the two adults, "Yeah, I do." She admits, "Nnnot that I expect to get a lot of presents this year, it's been a hard year for my foster parents, and I haven't exactly made it better." Yeah, Anna, that's why you're here after all… to make the money to pay them back. "Anyway, do you wish the comic delivered anywhere, or will you pick it up here? There's no difference in costs, but I do need to know before I order the comic."

Laura grins at Marjorie. "Hey, I don't disagree with you! Not now, anyway." She shrugs. "It was a slightly different story when I was seven." She looks back to Anna, and nods. "I'll pick it up here, thanks. This time next week? File it under Laura, if you need an identifier." And she probably does, to match item with purchaser. One pale brow arches as Laura considers the teenager, but she opts to voice a slightly different thought. "It's been a tough year all around. I'm sure it'll get better soon."

"One of the toughest," Marjorie agrees, although her voice drops a little bit quieter, almost melancholy. But she pushes that away for now. "I have to ask, what's so good about a little paper book to make someone pay 200 dollars for it? No offense, Anna dear," she knows the cashier! "But I have a hard time justifying a purchase like that, one that isn't rent or school books or something."

"Scarcity, ma'am. God knows I don't buy any of those, but that doesn't make them worth any less." Anna responds to Marjorie before looking back to her systems and filing away the order, "Filed and accounted for, ma'am. It should be here in five business days for you to pick up." Then back to the non-business chatter, "Yeah, I know it's been tough for everyone, but Timothy almost lost his job, and with that stupid stunt I pulled, it only made things harder, financially."

Laura can't quite stifle an impish grin at Marjorie's question. "Let's just say the impact is going to be well worth that price," she adds, after Anna's explanation. The pale-haired woman nods, acknowledging the confirmation and instructions. She takes a step back, allowing Marjorie up to the counter if she so desires, but without quite leaving the conversation.

Marjorie hefts her basket up on to the counter with a slight grunt. "Well, Anna, as parents we sort of accept that things of that nature are going to happen. That's what raising children is all about. No one is perfect, and we all make mistakes. I wouldn't beat yourself up over it too much." The list is removed from the 40s-looking woman's pocket and slid over. Most are crossed off, but there are some names that are still there. She offers it over. "Do you have these back there? I couldn't find them. And it's very lovely to see you again, dear."

"Most mistakes don't cost five hundred dollars…" Anna mutters softly, almost inaudibly. But then she can go back to business, "Okay, let's pull those names through the system." And the girl starts to type away. "Let's see… we have two of those in stock." The girl gets them out from behind the counter. "Assuming that stack you have there is what else you will be buying… and you will be buying these two comics, the total will be one hundred fifty dollars." Anna smiles, "Most of which is because of this one." She shows one of the comics she pulled out from behind the counter. "This one's eighty."

"You might be surprised," Laura says quietly. "Mistakes start to add up pretty quickly, sometimes." She grins, and winks at the girl. "You live, you learn, and you make totally different ones next time. It'll all work out, never fear." But then Laura is not a pessimist by nature. Peering down at the displayed comic, she arches a brow and glances to Marjorie.

Marjorie sighs. "And here's my mistake — teaching the boy to read. I'll take it." She makes enouhg between her 3 jobs to manage it. "Heavan knows it's cost me more than 500 dollars, I promise you that. But this nice young woman is perfectly correct in what she says — as long as you learn from a mistake — even a 500 dollar one — it's worth it. That's what life is. And if your foster-parents see that you learned and that you're trying, that will make a world of difference."

"There's also the issue of a criminal record…" Anna says even more softly, but then she starts to scan the assorted comics and put them into a bag, "Cash or card, ma'am?" she asks with a forced smile. "And I am trying, I'm working here to pay them back, you know?" Anna smiles a little more genuinely, "Was pretty easy to get hired here, honestly."

Laura shakes her head a bit at Anna's aside. "You're under 19, right? There's all kinds of legalese about how the adult world can and can't treat those records. If all you've got is one, it shouldn't give you too many problems — teenagers do willfully stupid things." The slightly mischievous warmth of her grin takes any sting out of that statement. "Some people never grow up and still do willfully stupid things." Read: like me. "But most adults went through that, too. Including employers and foster-parents. They know all about mistakes; they made their own."

"Fifteen, ma'am." Anna responds to that question, "And well… criminal mischief of the so manieth degree, for attempted arsony." The girl explains, shrugging a little. "I guess you have a point, but well… I kind of shouldn't have done that." And the girl sighs, "I could've been killed or marked an enemy combatant for that little stunt…"

One pale brow arches. "Enemy combatant? I take it this was on the 8th. As if everyone wasn't insane that day," Laura replies, rolling her eyes slightly. She shrugs after, and smiles at the girl. "You'll be fine. I'm pretty sure that one isn't more than a misdemeanor, and at 15 you're probably still counted as juvie. Don't fret over it, just make wiser decisions from here out."

Marjorie finehes digging around in her purse, slipping a plastic card onto the table. "There you are, dear. The 8th was bad for everyone — those few who don't have a record from that day will be the ones that stand out. Don't worry about it, dear, in about a year you'll have forgotten you even had a record, and so will everyone else. And then it'll be sealed, so it doesn't matter."

"The fifteenth, actually…" Anna responds, even though the reassurance seems to cheer the girl up a little. Anna registers the card and handles the payment and everything. "They said the District Attorney had wanted to use me as an example… but luckily Detective Walsh was… more understanding, and pulled some strings for me." She seems thankful for that. "Talked to the mayor, even, I believe."

Laura waves a hand slightly, huffs a dismissive laugh. "You have to make allowances for DAs, they take their jobs way too seriously." She nods to the other two, then casts a smile at them both. "I should get moving, I have an appointment this afternoon. You two have a good day — and holidays, too!"

Marjorie smiles as she takes her bag. She nods to Laura as she leaves. "She's right," Marjorie promises. "It's a concern, but it's not a life-ruining concern. Why don't you come by my place later, if you need to talk, hmm?" Marjorie does so love children, even teenagers. She leaves her phone number and address. "Just like I promised. Now I really have to go pick up Owain though." And she turns to make her way out.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License