Dog-Eared

East Portland 
#1
 It was surreal, a sort of Portland that she had never seen in the years gone by - quieter, tense. The seats on the bus formed nearly a pattern, more empty than usual - people giving one another a wide birth. Happy to watch from the back corner she had tucked herself into, everyone intently focused on the screens of their phones or their newspapers. A wordless message to keep your distance, mind your business.

 In the meantime she had pulled her feet up on the seat beside her, looking up images of the storefront of the book store she was headed towards. There within the hour, half expecting to arrive on scene to a ghost town, indifferent about it as she slipped out the back exit the next time someone pulled the cord to bring them to a halt. A little bit more of a walk than it needed to be, but she didn't so much mind - still nicer than hiding away in her apartment.

 Minding where the sidewalk lifted from the pressure of expanding tree roots, peering into boutiques, restaurants, retail shops, more closed than not at the late hour. But not Smith's, the yellowy glow of their lightening pouring out onto the sidewalk, unassuming but tidy enough. She nudged open the door and glanced up at the chime of the bells strung up above her head.

 Certainly able to text him, she decided instead to have fun and try to hunt him down. Calm as she made her face ache one more time with a grin towards the older gentleman behind the counter before she started to wander down the closest aisle, prepared to comb through them.
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#2
He was craned over a book that encompassed half the table it occupied, head following the dark lines of the painting until each brushstroke was assigned interpretation. The witch valued the written word, but there was distinct satisfaction found in illustration, each page a rorschach. Axel's words would give the artist no boasted flesh, but behind the witch's dull and shadowed eyes, Goya's gnarled fingers moved with heavy, and desperate articulation.

"Your leg has improved," he said, back straightening as his hand lingered against the page, inclining his head in her direction without allowing his eyes to part from what remained of Saturn's son. He stole another bout of silence, allowed himself to digest what remained in his vision, and eased the biography closed with a guillotine's resolution.

"Enough to ready you?" he asked, turning to face her with a small smile, loose, black shirt unobstructed save for a cheap, plastic name tag at his left breast, the mechanical print speaking what he felt he didn't need to say.

Smith's Books.
Axel I.

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#3
 She had leaned against the end a tall bookcase, the same one she had come from behind when the scene presented itself. Comical in a way, domestic and peaceful and far removed from the scenery that her mind placed him into. "It feels fine, I was a good girl and so I was given a treat, makes the healing a good deal quicker." Keeping her voice at a whisper for the benefit of more than just the library like atmosphere.

 Seemingly happy to poke fun at her own lot in life now that they were both caught at work - as different as that looked from one to the other. "I have to say, this feels like catching a dog walking on his hind legs." Able to think of at least a handful of positions she pictured him in before this one would ever cross her mind. "I think you probably had more fun being a voyeur while I sang for my supper than could be had here." She straightened up, circled round to try to get a look at the book that had earned his attention.

"No disrespect to its proprietor, of course."
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