R.L. is waiting for me in one of the long hallways, near the front door. At 73 years old, he’s got about half his hair left, and he’s wearing his trademark dark brown frames, plus a pair of gigantic dad jeans, a roomy button-down shirt, and black socks. “Why’d you take the service elevator?” is the first thing R.L. Stine says to me. “I hate elevators,” I begin, deciding to lean into my role as The Unhinged Reporter. “What? Seriously? Elevators?” he asks. “I’ve never heard of that. My mother was afraid of escalators, but elevators?” Jane gives him a look as she hangs up my coat. “Bob, people are afraid of elevators,” she says. “And why aren’t you wearing any shoes?” R.L. shrugs. “I’ve just never heard of it,” he says. The shoes go unaddressed.
I follow Stine down the hall. His dog, Minnie, a tiny King Charles Spaniel, yelps angrily at me. I peek into one of the three bedrooms, where I spot a thirtysomething man typing on a laptop. He stops typing and we stare at each other for a moment. “This is my nephew,” says Stine. “He’s doing a drop-by.” The nephew nods.