Coffee And Questions


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Scene Title Coffee and Questions
Synopsis SESA contacts Savannah Burton with inquiries into the food thefts. And Corbin Ayers gets to meet one of his favorite authors.
Date March 7, 2018

Prufrock's Books

When the name dropped on his desk with an interview assignment, Corbin couldn’t help but grin. He recognized the name. He’d never met her, but having ran a bookstore for a short time, he had paid attention to the names on some of the books he stocked on the shelves. And even before he ran it, he’d maybe once dropped a ‘feel good’ article about the New York author on Hokuto’s lap.

Sometimes he misses those little feel good articles. Misses having someone to give them to, physically. He still reads them when they come across his desk, or across his screen, in hopes that Hokuto might realize he reads them for her.

Savannah Burton received had a message in her voice mail, since the cell service did not cooperate to allow them to talk lie. It asked for an appointment. Once he got a response, also from voicemail, he showed up at the designated time and place in Bay Ridge, near one of the few book stores in the town. One that serves coffee. Prufrock’s Books.

It doesn’t take him long to spot the author, walking over to her with a friendly smile. He’s dressed in a suit, though the stubble isn’t exactly professional length. “Mrs Burton, thank you for meeting me. I don’t plan to take up too much of your time.”

Looking up from where she was pursuing a stack of bestsellers, Savannah Burton offers Corbin her own friendly smile. She’s dressed in a long white knit sweater dress and black leggings, a sort of casual yet still professional look. “Mr. Ayers, it’s a pleasure to meet you. Please, don’t worry about my time, I’m more than happy to help however I can. And I certainly hope that I can help you.”

She sets down the book she was eyeing gingerly before she gestures towards an empty cafe table. “I’ll be honest, the SLC-Expressive Services Agency is not big on my list of organizations I expect to contact me.”

“Well, under the circumstances, we’re talking to people involved in the community. To find out if they’ve seen anything…” Corbin has a notebook in his front jacket pocket, but he doesn’t pull it out just yet, instead gesturing to the coffee shop in the corner. “I’m going to get some coffee before we start, do you want some? And if so, what kind?”

“A vanilla latte, if you don’t mind terribly,” Savannah chimes in.

Once he has the answer, he goes to place his order, waits the appropriate time, then returns, sitting down across from her and passing her latte across. Only after he has his first generous sip of the coffee— which is actually not bad, does he pull out the notepad, ready to ask questions.

The author warms her hands slightly on her cup as she holds it, taking a long sip before looking back across the table. Coffee makes everything a bit better. Clearing her throat, she nods once and prepares herself for the questions at hand. “I might have a few ideas of where you can start but I can’t say I know what would be useful to you. There’s a lot that goes on in the community that passes for normal even if it’s a bit strange.”

“It’s true. There’s a lot of what even just ten years ago would be considered outright strange that is nearly ordinary, now.” Corbin responds with a smile. He’s trying his best not to start asking about her next book, or something, and staying on the job instead. Interviewing had been part of his old job, so he’ll try to stick to that.

“Even if it seems ordinary, or the new kind of ordinary, it could be an important clue. Have you seen or heard of any new people wandering around? People who hadn’t been there a month ago?”

There’s another friendly smile back before Savannah taps her finger on her cup lightly. “Well, I can’t say how long he’s been there but there’s Will. He’s just a kid, so I don’t know if he’d be helpful to your investigation. About eleven, and if you listen to the rumors they say he can phase through walls. He’s quite a bit stealthy so I wouldn’t be surprised if he has some Evolved ability that aids him with that. He’s around the Market quite frequently.”

She taps the cup again, trying to think of more details. “I mean, there’s another odd thing about him but I don’t know that it’s relevant.”

The name Bill gets written down, as well as other notes as she speaks, even more when she finishes. Corbin is good at shorthand notes, part of being a journalist. He’ll definitely add it to the paperwork, “What is it? Even something little could be relevant. And I imagine you’re good at details, being a writer.” Okay, so he couldn’t resist bringing up her books. He grins a bit, showing that he probably has read one or two.

Or all of them. Definitely all of them.

“A fan, are you?” Savannah chuckles lightly. “I shouldn’t assume that. I just sort of assume everyone’s a fan. That sounds as if I’m full of myself, but realistically I’ve just found that one out of every two Safe Zone residents has read my books. I gamble with good odds.” She offers a tiny smile. Another sip from her latte later and Savannah straightens herself in her chair.

“Well, he’s a bit of an odd kid. He hangs around the booksellers, real chatty about books but I’ve never seen him so much as pick one up. I offered to buy him one, but he politely declined. Maybe he’s not the kind to accept charity but I would think a kid wouldn’t be so proud. Were I in his position I’d probably be begging for books.”

“A bit,” Corbin responds, trying not to look too much like he’s read every single book of hers and enjoyed them. “Those are good odds. I used to work for the newspaper, well the online one. I may have helped edit a book review or two. Good ones, promise.” He’d not been on book review, but sometimes people had needed help getting their stories posted, and he’d helped with that every so often. Sometimes they just had an code piece in the wrong place, but he’d fixed any copy-editing they’d needed as well.

He won’t say he’d read his first book of hers after a good review he’d fixed up. But perhaps he doesn’t have to.

“Hangs around the book stand,” he writes down, though it may not have anything at all to do with the food. “I wonder if he’s been in here,” he looks around, planning to ask the owner later if he can, just to see if it’s maybe all books the kid likes, or just the ones in the marketplace.

“Anything else you can think of?”

“Editors are a godsend. Editors and agents are my two favorite people in the entire world,” Savannah states, matter-of-factly. “I couldn’t do without either. Every writer needs to have a good dose of both.” But there’s the matter of a food theft. “Well, speaking of books, there was something that happened with the largest of the booksellers on the night of the theft.”

Another sip of her latte. “I mean, it happened the night of the theft so it can’t purely be coincidence. Maybe something happened and there was a fight or maybe it was done as a distraction… I suppose that’s for you to suss out. Anyway, one of the bookshelves was destroyed, just completely shredded apart along with the newspapers for the morning. Probably about $500 in damages if I were to guess based on the information I was given.”

A destroyed book stand. “That’s interesting,” Corbin responds quietly, even as he writes it down. He’s not sure what it could have to do with the thefts, but it could. He’s heard of stranger things than that. One of those strange things might be eavesdropping on their interview as it is. He avoids looking toward the corner of his eye. “I’ll take note of that, and mention that we should probably interview the bookseller.”

To see if anyone had a reason to sabotage their business, to see if there’s other signs that it could be related. After he gets all that written down, he takes a long drink on his coffee.

“Is that everything? Nothing else out of the ordinary?”

“One thing… I’ve got a suspect for you. It could be nothing but there’s this thug, works out of Staten Island, he got kicked out of the market for drunken escapades, possibly trying to steal things. It was probably about the 25th, if I recall. His name’s Eugene Arrowood. Had a couple of buddies with him too. Might be nothing but he’s around and obviously a troublemaker.”

Savannah’s hand lifts the cup to her lips again. “Anyway, I hope it helps. Maybe a bit of a lead in there somewhere. I wish I could help more, but that’s about all I can think of that might be of use.”
Eugene Arrowood. The name almost sounds familiar. Probably because it’s one of those names you wouldn’t easily forget. Writing that one down, Corbin nods to himself, making mental notes to go with the physical ones. He’d taken down everything in shorthand, but he knew he would know what it meant enough to translate it into a full report later. “I don’t care much for Staten Island, but it’s definitely a potential lead. I’m sure they would find a way to profit from it.”

If anyone could profit from stealing food, it would be the few he knows of out there. Not that he knew any personally.

They just might even be planning to sell it right back to the Safe Zone.

It would not surprise him.

Finishing off his coffee, he stands up, offering her his hand once the notebook is put away in, his front pocket again. “Thank you for the help, Mrs. Burton. Hopefully, we’ll find whoever did this and keep it from happening again.”

Savannah’s free hand comes forward, taking his hand. “I’m always happy to help. I like this community and I want to keep it safe and happy however I can. I moved here for a reason, after all. So if there’s anything more I can do to help SESA, you let me know. I’ll keep an eye out for anything suspicious and even for things not-so-suspicious. Writer’s eye.”

She offers him a warm smile. “I’ll make sure that a copy of my next book finds its way to your desk, Mr. Ayers.”

Oooh, now he’s glad that he got given this particular assignment and not someone else. Corbin doesn’t think his superiors know that he happened to be a fan of her books. It’s not as if he kept any of them at his desk!

Maybe he’d brought the one in once, but! That was once, surely someone else had been reading it too. But he’s smiling, pleased and squeezing her hand gently. “I look forward to it.” And he means it, too. “I’m going to go question the bookstore owner real quick, while I’m here. See if this boy has shown up. But again, thank you. And I can’t wait to read your new book.”

With that, he lets go of her hand and goes to check to do what he’d said he’d do. Check to see if any kids of the appropriate age have been poking around.

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