A Bone To Pick


Jessalyn_icon.gif Lewanda_icon.gif Seth_icon.gif

Summary: Jessalyn stops by the Humorous Humerus to scout things out and Seth tries to ruin Lewanda's innocence.

Date It Happened: December 13, 2001

A Bone to Pick

The Humorous Humerus

The Humorous Humerus, located in Chinatown, is rarely bustling, and today is no exception. The little specialty store is a veritable explosion of oddities and things that seem to attempt to contradict every one of a person's senses. It's more colourful than a store that sells bones might be expected to; every wall is a different colour. Even though it's small and seems cluttered, every section is neatly organized. Bold signs, none of which match, are posted everywhere. "Have You Met-A-Carpal?" — "Funny Bones" — "Tour Ancient Egypt" — "Bee In Your Bonnet"… that last one is for bees incased in amber, right beside the scorpions, just incase you were wondering. Skeletons even hang from the ceiling.

At the counter, directly opposite the door, sits the proprietor. Just as quirky as her store, Lewanda Littleton hums quietly under her breath to the jaunty tune that fills the room, "Birdhouse In Your Soul," while she opens a cardboard box delicately with red-painted fingernails. The whole store smells like cherries for a reason that's not at all clear.

By Angelene standards, it's a rather chilly and overcast Thursday in Winter - but the athletic young woman pushing open the door and stepping inside has her biker's jacket slung over one shoulder, her other hand reaching up to remove wrap-around shades. Letting the door drift shut behind her, she peers with rather wary curiosity around the shop, gaze roaming over the shelves and their strange contents

The door jingles with every entrance. It's extra jingly now that it's almost Christmas. Lewanda added an extra jingle bell for the occasion. The cheerful little noise seems to jolt her out of her focus, she stops her happy humming, and the contents of the box rattles when she drops god-knows-what back inside. "Oh!" A hand flutters to her collarbone, over the satiny red fabric of her dress embroidered with poppies. "You startled me!" The black-haired woman says in her wispy voice. She smiles, wide-eyed. "Welcome to the Humorous Humerus. You're new!"

Jessalyn lifts one brow, eyeing the proprietess in silence for a moment, before tucking her shades into a pocket of her waistcoat and stalking closer, boots thumping softly on the floor. "I am indeed", she agrees, accent carrying tones that might suggest an origin a very long way to the East. "I confess that I've never seen a place quite like this before."

"Me neither," Lewanda answers, bobbing her head and lifting her thin brows as if confessing an amazing secret; then she adds, "Th-that is, before I bought it. I thought it was the most unusual and wonderful store!" The owner's eyes roll up toward the ceiling and a dreamy look overtakes her, all smiles and faraway stares at the small pterodactyl skeleton replica dangling artfully from above. She actually sways on her feet for a second.

Jessalyn's chin lifts, her own gaze following Lewanda's to that miniature skeleton. Then she laughs softly. "So… you bought this as a going concern from someone? When was the store originally founded, out of curiosity?"

The extra-jingly bell on the door makes its joyful noise - and then ends in an undignified clank as the door hits the wall, pushed open with great indelicacy by Seth. He stands in the doorway for a few moments, taking stock of who's who and what's where, then treats both people inside the shop to a smile. "Enjoying the holiday spirit?" Not waiting for an answer the warlock makes his way inside, shutting the door with a sweep of his free hand.

"1954!" Lewanda chirps, the instant spouting of the date snapping her back to reality. The same dreamy look lingers in her big dark eyes, however … or maybe that's how she always looks. "The original owners went bankrupt," she explains, blinking, terribly saddened by the thought, it would seem. Before she can go into the detail that seemed poised on the tip of her tongue, she leans to see past Jessalyn. "Oh," she says on seeing the warlock, as if she were expecting someone else. "Why yes," she answers congenially, and reminded about the contents of the box on the counter, scoops a handful of Christmas candy out. She drops it into an upturned top half of a human skull cast.

Having run her gaze over Seth after his unsubtle arrival, Jess looked back to Lewanda for her reply. The candy now receives a faintly dubious look, before she chuckles. "If this is one of your regulars, I should stand aside. I'm just here for curiosity, to see what the place actually has on offer…."

Seth is good at entertaining himself. At the moment he is doing this by using the tip of his cane to push various things around, edging a bone on a shelf to the side here to promote subtle disorganization simply because it is in his power to do so. "Don't get too cheery. Knowing L.A., something'll burn down the nearest orphanage on Christmas Eve and the bums'll roast their bottles of vodka on the flames."

"Oh, let me know if you need anything," Lewanda tells the young woman hopefully, nodding several times. Nod nod nod. She quietly clutches the worn wooden curve of the counter's edge as she watches Seth, an increasingly worried expression gnawing away at her features until her brow is all a knit and her eyes are extra doe-like. She looks like someone ran over her puppy. Or, rather, she is that puppy. "That's not very nice," she hesitantly informs Seth, her high Brooklyn-accented voice tremulous. "You shouldn't say such things. I'm sure that won't happen."

Jessalyn frowns a touch, head cocking as she eyes Seth, clearly wondering whether or not he is in fact known to the strange shop's eccentric owner. "Given that it's LA, the whole thing'd probably be SFX for a film anyway", she ventures, attempting to lift the mood, at least a touch.

"A movie? I doubt it'd even reach the evening news." After a few more adjustments to the display Seth turns and wanders in the direction of the two women, a smile on his face. He stops here and there to take a closer look at the shop's merchandise, but eventually finds himself up at the counter, which he promptly leans against. "C'mon. There's always a disaster right before Christmas."

"That's not true," Lewanda insists softly, refusing to believe in holiday disasters. Her power of argument is obviously weaker than a kitten (kittens can put up a fight), but her optimism is high. Childlike eyes in a fiftysomething body stare at Seth. Suddenly, as a hopeful diversion, she clutches the upturned half-a-skull from the counter and holds it in both hands so tightly that her knuckles seem all the more bony. She holds out the fake severed skull in offfering, the little candies doing their best to glint invitingly in their red-and-green wrappers. "Would either of you like some candy?"

Jessalyn stops warily eyeing Seth to give Lewanda an involuntary chuckle, gently shaking her head before reaching out to accept on miniature foil-wrapped parcel. "Thank you", she says, tone sincere. "Out of curiosity, do you mostly sell to collectors, or is there a significant occult market here?"

Seth doesn't reach for the candy. It's Christmas candy and is therefore evil and infected. The man relaxes his posture further and simply watches the women talking, the current turn of the conversation giving him more than a little cause for interest. Magical trinkets are always fun.

Lewanda beams at Jessalyn, but when the other half of her current customer tally dismisses it, she draws the "bowl" in close to her — and her shoulders too, self-protectively. The collar of fluff on her sweater, such a vividly bright red that it's almost hot pink, brushes her ears. "Oh, everyone likes our bones and little trinkets." Like dried lizards? That may not be true, but it is in Lewanda's world. "The Humourous Humerus draws all kinds!" She unconsciously looks at Seth before her gaze pops back to Jessalyn. Subtle! Only not so much.

Jessalyn cracks a brief half smile, on the side of her face further from Seth. "So it would seem", she says dryly, dropping her gaze to the task of unwrapping her sweet. "Are they mostly animal bones, or….?" She lets the question trail off.

If Seth knew he was one of those All Kinds, he would be proud. As it is he seems pretty content with his current situation. He glances over at Lewanda after Jessalyn airs her question, one eyebrow quirking upwards. "I'd hope you have some human stock. It's not like it's hard to find."

"Oh, yes," Lewanda answers Jessalyn with renewed enthusiasm, nodding. "Variety is the spice of life! …that's what they say," she adds cheerfully. "Yes," her little wispy voice agrees, "We do have a selection of human bones. A lot of people think it's not legal but it is! I find that so interesting… that someone would give up their bones like that… most of them come from China, I'm not sure why— " Oh dear, now you've got her rambling. The black-haired lady peers hopefully at Jessalyn. "Would you like to see them?"

"Oriental medicine, at a guess, might provide some of the impetus to do so…?", ventures Jessica. She pops the chocolate into her mouth, as she moves closer. "Sure. I'm curious. Do you also take fossils?"

Seth fixes Lewanda with a disbelieving stare, holding it while he speaks slowly and clearly. "The people probably don't give up their bones in China. I imagine they get killed. This isn't exactly in line with leaving one's body to science." The warlock lifts his cane and turns its carved bone handle towards Lewanda, waving it at her face a few times. "This was probably a murder victim. I don't know. But I like to think it was."

"Oh, my, yes." Lewanda's eyes sparkle. "Fossils are very popular! Especially with the little ones. Kids love trilobites." Her cheer is startled by Seth, who she just blinks at benignly. "That's terrible," she simpers, looking at the cane sympathetically. "And— and I know people have to die first for their bones to come to the Humorous Humerus but they weren't…" Horror! It takes a few seconds for Lewanda to get the words out. She takes a deep breath and practically whispers the rest. "Killed for it." She clings to that creative candy dish. "That would be bad karma!"

Jessalyn's chewing slows as she studies Seth, eyes narrowing a touch as he's quite carefully considered. "If you're going to make that sort of boast for your personal accoutrements, shouldn't you also want us to believe that you would know because you killed and carved the victim yourself?", she asks quietly.

"Lady, if they're dead then they're dead. You sell off their bones regardless of where they came from. Grave-robbing, murder - who knows. But I'm willing to bet their owners didn't intend for them to end up here." As far as Jessalyn's question goes, Seth ponders it thoughtfully for a moment while he eyes her up and down, lowering his cane until its tip thunks down against the floor. "I'm not so much the murdering type. I like making people suffer instead. You seem to have the same philosophy with your fashion sense."

"…!" Lewanda, looking like that theoretical puppy from earlier has now been eviscerated as well as run over, sets the candy down and swiftly turns around to busy herself with anything else: adjusting a display of pricier items on a shelf behind the counter, fussing with a knob on the old-fashioned cash register, smoothing down the front of her Asian-themed dress… after awhile, she's just standing there doing nothing but standing there, her back to the customers. "Oh dear," she says very quietly, almost inaudible, talking to herself, "Oh my. That's not true. That's not true at all. I pay— very close attention."

"Oooh, cattiness as a first line of defence?" Jessalyn runs her gaze down, then up Seth. "You really _are_ a prime example of Lala-Land "masculinity", aren't you, darling?" She glances to Lewanda, offering the older woman a playful wink should she look around, attempting to raise her spirits before she looks back to Seth. "Aren't you just _adorable_? So…. what are we to believe you to be, oh master of fashion? Santeria priest? Voudoun zombie-raiser? Or just someone so lonely he trawls quiet shops in search of people to try to bully?"

Seth simply watches Jessalyn with a decidedly unimpressed look on his face, lips pursed and shoulders easing back just a little. It's entertaining as anything to listen to Lewanda's meek protestations, but - well. He's just been called catty. "Specialist in summoning and making lives miserable, actually. It's quite a lot of fun. Just look at our friend here - she's doubting herself and her life choices now. Isn't that right, honey? Yes. All those ill-gotten human body parts are so much fun." With a grin the man winks at Lewanda's back, tilting his head in her direction whether she sees him or not.

Lewanda doesn't turn around right away and sees neither Jessalyn's nor Seth's wink — no, she stays stark still and murmuring optimistic mantras to herself. She seems quite stuck that way. Maybe if she says precisely two-hundred and fifty-seven mantas more, she'll be able to stop. Just when that appears to be the case, the quirky proprietor twirls around with an animated expression. "The Humorous Humerus is a happy place!" she exclaims brightly, interjecting. "…it's a happy place," she repeats, much tinier. "You sure have some silly notions. If… you… if…"

Jessalyn inclines her head to Lewanda, swallowing her chocolate before finding her voice once more. "I apologise", she says formally to the proprietress. "I should not have contributed to the tension."

No such apology will be forthcoming from Seth, who is simply tickled by the whole concept. "A happy place full of picked-apart dead things," he agrees cheerily, pointing at Lewanda as if she's just made a wonderfully awesome joke. "Good stuff. I like the way your head works."

"It's okay," Lewanda replies to Jessalyn, smiling and tucking her chin in, looking down to the countertop. "Bones are beautiful. They let us see the beauty underneath. Life and death are so intricate," she says, head still tucked down, stark black hair swaying ahead symmetrically. Finally, she peeks up, every bit as blithe and sincere as Seth isn't. "I'm partial to how my head works too, thank you!" What a nice compliment that was.

Jessalyn quirks a wry smile, then nods gently, carefully not looking at Seth. "Could I see some more of your collection, please?"

Seth just laughs, shaking his head, and pushes up until his weight is unevenly settled between his own to feet and his cane. "Enjoy your day, ladies." He's on his way for now, but the man will certainly be back. This place is too funny to not make him into a repeat customer. "Here's to the inevitable Christmas tragedy. And if there isn't one - think of all the starving children in Africa." The door bell jingles again.

"Of course!" While most of the store's assorted merchandise is on display, Lewanda hurries around the counter, with the telltale *clickclickclick* and clipped bobbing around of a high heel-wearer, to reveal that which isn't so obvious. First, however, she watches Seth leave, almost pouting at his parting words. Despite that… "Happy holidays!" she calls after him with a pleasant little wave as the bell jingles — he may or may not catch it. Oh well! "He's such a strange duck," she comments idly to Jessalyn as she plucks a charm bracelet off her wrist. One charm is actually a small key, which she fits into a tall, handsome wooden cabinet off to the younger woman's left. Opening the doors wide, she reveals a display of human bones, organized by type, from cranial bones straight down to metatarsals, all warmly lit by happy glowy interior lighting.

Jessalyn also watches Seth depart, expression blank until he's out of the shop, then she looks back to Lewanda once more, watching her until the display of bones is revealed. "Do you encounter many that you have trouble classifying?", she asks curiously.

"Oh, no, I don't order anything unless I know exactly what it is," Lewanda answers with matter-of-fact innocent, a touch confused as to what Jessalyn is getting at. "Even the surprise bags have ingredients somewhere."

Jessalyn lifts her brows, then laughs softly. "Surprise bags….? And surely there are some bones that aren't easy to fit into one of these drawers. Or is everything very easy to identify?"

"We don't have two-hundred and six different drawers for each human bone if that's what you mean," Lewanda says, brows raised in high arches of naivety. "The rib bones have to be grouped together and sometimes it's just unavoidable to not mix a calcaneus with a cuboid but we only have so much space, you know? Oh, surprise bags!" She clues in belatedly and smiles excitedly at the notion. "They make good presents!"

Jessalyn cocks her head, then laughs softly. "You said that the previous owner went bankrupt, running this place. How have you managed to keep it going, if it's not too rude to ask?"

It's certainly not rude to ask in Lewanda's eyes. "I guess I have a knack for it I didn't realize," she answers. "At first I just lived upstairs, then when this store I had grown so fond of started to fade away…" There's that dreamy look again. One would almost expect a flashback montage to kick in, but the store owner just goes on to say, "You could say opportunity knocked! Opportunity… so rarely knocks." And the important piece of information she left out at first: "Besides, I'm sort of rich!" She casually pats a skull inside the cabinet. "Is there anything special you're looking for? A Christmas present maybe?"

Jessalyn offers a slight shrug. "I confess that I'm here in large part out of curiosity - to see what the place was actually like. But… I might be interested in picking up an unusual item or two, should you have anything out of the ordinary. Fossil or otherwise."

Isn't everything in this store a little out of the ordinary? Lewanda closes the cabinet, locks it up with the minuscule key and gestures to the opposite wall in a pose befitting of Vana White. "How do you feel about giant shark teeth?"

Jessalyn turns to look, laughing and grinning. "Not a topic I'd considered before, I admit. Prehistoric, or…?"

"Prehistoric. Sharks nowadays are only giant in the sense that they're huge but back in the day they were officially gigantic," Lewanda informs her newest customer. Indeed, a dish of fossil shark teeth sits on a shelf. Some are seven inches long. "Dinosaur teeth are popular this time of year. Shark teeth sell better in the summer." She points up to a high shelf, "The giant hyena skull just came in last Tuesday. I like it because it looks like it's smiling." She smiles back at it.

Jessalyn chuckles softly. "Mmmmmm. I think that I'll definitely have to bear this place in mind when I get a place of my own and come to decorate it", she says with a smile of her own.

Lewanda clasps her hands in front of her and says, "Wonderful!" She scurries back around to her spot behind the counter, sitting neatly on the stool placed for her there. "Take as much candy as you like," she reminds Jessalyn. It's not a ploy to encourage the woman to stay and buy things — she's just being honestly nice.

Jessalyn can't help but laugh once more, offering Lewanda a playful bow in gratitude. "Thank you", she says warmly, stepping over to take another couple of pieces. "I'll have one of the giant shark teeth now, I think, but I'll probably be back for other things in future."

"Oh, good! Pick the one that feels the best for you. The teeth, I mean — it's important, you know, that your energies mingle well, especially if you're going to wear it," Ms. Littleton says. "It's like baking," she adds as somewhat of a nonsequitir.

Jessalyn pauses momentarily, then ventures, "The mixing of ingredients…?" as she returns to the display, eyeing the array with some interest, before carefully picking out one to carry back to Lewanda.

"That's it precisely!" Lewanda nearly bounces in her seat when Jessalyn makes the connection. When she takes the fossil, she examines its glossy, mottled brown surface admiringly. "This one is two hundred dollars," she tells the woman, making sure she knows. "It's very old. Imagine the history."

Jessalyn blinks, then chuckles and nods. "I think I'm carrying enough", she says. "Sure - I'll go for that. And I'll do some reading up to see what I can find out about it…"

Lewanda tucks the tooth in a cute little brown paper bag with the store's logo on it. Even the cash register sounds cheerful, like the bells, when she punches numbers into it. "I hope you have a Humorous— " Humerus? " —day," she chimes.

Jessalyn swaps the money for the ancient fang, offering Lewanda a grin and a wry chuckle in response to her unconventional farewell. "And the same to you", she says with another polite inclination of her head. En route to the exit, she carefully tucks the tooth away in her jacket, and returns her shades to her face before jingling the door on her way out.

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