(2018-10-22) The Prodigal Star
Calvin returns to Calaveras and meets a variety of people in a diner; an old friend, a new friend, and a person he was a birthday present for once upon a time.

Edgar looks up, and he perks up. "Hey," he says. With a gesture at the menu, he says, "I'm utterly failing to figure out what I want to eat tonight. Just not ramen." He glances toward the pies, then to Katherine again. "You work too hard," he guesses. "You want to take a load off? Come on, my treat." He sits up a little, not that it makes him look any taller. Those booths know how to swallow a guy.

Kate lets out a laugh, sliding into the opposite seat, setting her purse next to her. "I think I will take a load off for a while, but you don't have to treat me." She gives him a look, folding her hands as she rests them on the table. "Ramen ..oh man.. I love ramen. I make it a little…oddly though." She glances around, and then speaks sotto voce, "Make sure you try the home fries, I swear they get the onions from an organic farmer, they're …so great."

"Home fries," Edgar says. "That sounds good. I'm not used to having an appetite." He still looks daunted by the menu. Too many choices of food that sounds good in theory, but isn't most of this stuff to be really unhealthy? "Okay so maybe home fries and eggs." There. That's his decision. He puts the menu down with an air of finality. "See? I'm lost without you," he tells Kate. "The very least I can do is buy you lunch." He looks out the window. "Or dinner, maybe?"

Katherine follows Edgar's glance, squinting out the window. "Dinner." She says, smiling up at the server when she comes to the table. "You go first." She says to Edgar, gazing down at the menu. "I just nudged you a little bit, just wait until I tell you about the grits here." She pushes the menu away and folds her hands on the table.

Natalya looks out of place in this establishment; though she looks out of place everywhere except maybe the country club or the skiing resort. Dressed immaculately in a designer pants suit, make-up and hair perfect, she strides in like she could own the place. And probably could, Behind her, two steps and no closer, are two large men in suits and sunglasses. A bulge under their jackets suggests a weapon of some kind.

Natalya appraises her surroundings and smirks. "Very cute" she decides, "Like Happy Days." Her voice has a Mexican accent, and the goons she is talking to do not say anything in reply. "I shall sit…" Her finger points around the room until she spots Katherine and Edgar. "Is that the woman off the television? We shall sit behind her."

"I'm convinced grits don't really exist," Ed says with a laugh. He smiles up at the server and says, "I'll take the home fries and eggs, scrambled, and just coffee to drink, no cream or sugar. He gestures to Katherine and adds, "Plus whatever the lady would like. One ticket."

His fragile smile fades a little when Natalya and her goons walk in. He's got spidey senses for the criminal element, and he knows what too much money looks like. The smile fixes right back in place when he makes fleeting eye contact. Huh, maybe this little town isn't quite so innocent after all.

Katherine watches as Natalya walks in, a curious look on her face. Wow, someone is dressed to kill. She drags her attention back to Edgar, listening to him knock grits, which makes her nose wrinkle. "Grits are amazing, especially with cheese." She smiles up at the server. "Bacon burger, no tomato, with fries please." She sees his face fall, and she glances back at Natalya before she aims a quirked brow in Edgar's direction. "You okay?"

Never the shy type - that comes with power and money - Natalya makes a beeline for the pair while her goons take up monitoring positions nearby. "I am sorry to interrupt" she smiles to both before concentrating on Katherine. "Are you Katherine Stone? From the television? You are on that morning show…Wake Up, Calaveras? With that human moustache. You are very good…and just as pretty in real life." A gesture in Edgar's direction. "Though if you are on a date, I shall leave you in peace. However, I do insist on paying for your meals."

Edgar nods quickly and tells Katherine, "Yeah, I'm good." There's a haunted flicker in his eyes, there and gone. Drugs, cartels, crime, that's all in his rear view mirror now. He takes a deep breath, lets it out, and his smile is impeccable. When Natalya mentions a date, he blinks in surprise, then says, "I take it as a personal compliment you'd think I was anywhere in Kate's league. Thank you for that. We're just hanging out, though."

Katherine turns her gaze to Natalya, smiling and nodding. "I am Katherine Stone, and thank you for the compliment, I'm pretty new to television. Still learning." She glances at Edgar and tuts softly as she shakes her head. "Now come on, Edgar. Be kind to yourself." She narrows her eyes and wets her lips. "I am afraid I busted in on Edgar, so I shall leave it up to him if he wants more company." The server returns, dropping off drinks.

"Ah, but who is to say nothing can blossom from accidental meetings?" Natalya smiles to the pair; a little craziness in those eyes too. "You are new to television? Impossible, you are a natural." Her big eyes fall on Edgar. "May I join you?"

The immaculately dressed Mexican woman is chatting with Edgar and Katherine sitting at a booth. There are two obviously armed men in suits also hovering around the diner who seem to be watching Natalya…or protecting her…or both.

Edgar looks between Katherine and Natalya. He purses his lips. To come out or not. Nope! He's not that brave yet. "You're not wrong," he tells Natalya. To Kate, he says, "It's okay, you're on TV, you can totally be out of my league." He winks at her. Then he slides aside in his booth and says, "Please, the more the merrier. I'm trying to meet people. I just moved to town and have no idea who anyone is except Kate here."

Katherine scoots in so Natalya can take a seat, sticking out her tongue at Edgar. Adulting! "I'm on local TV, nobody outside of this town knows who I am, I promise you. I'll be in a league of my own for now, and then…we'll see." She wiggles her fingers at the server, so she sticks around. "We've another person in our party, and she and her two friends will probably need to order. Separate checks, for all of us." She aims a smirk at Edgar, winking.

From no one knowing who you are outside of town to…well, Calvin shows up. He walked here it seems, which is probably strange enough. He is wearing a hoodie pulled over his head, but it's taken off as soon as he enters. He is also wet. Not dripping onto the floor but he is thoroughly soaked. His sneakers make squishy noises as he passes the trio's table. Squish, squish, pause. He stops at the table and zeros in on Edgar. "Hey! Hey, man." He's smiling now, a difference from the exhaustion seconds previous. "God, it's good to see you! How've you been?" He looks over at armed suits. He takes a moment to raise his hands peacefully. "I'm harmless." Beat and back to Edgar. "Ed? Was it Ed? I know it was an E."

Natalya slips in alongside Katherine with a smile of thanks. At the talk to the server, she will correct slightly. "My friends…" she indicates the two goons, "Will have water, thank you. And give all the separate checks to me." A sweet smile for the two at her table. "I insisted" she reminds before nodding to Edgar. "I am only new to town myself. Oh…excuse my manners. I am Natalya. Natalya Mendoza." With Calvin's arrival, there is a definitely a tensing by the thugs, but he has nothing in his hands. Natalya looks at him, eyes narrowing. He seems familiar…

Edgar grins when Kate sticks her tongue out at him, and he stays out of the negotiations over who's taking the checks. If someone wants to buy his dinner, he'll go along with it. Calvin's arrival snaps him out of the happy little quietude he's got going. He perks up. "Calvin? Hey! Yeah, it's Ed. You look great. I've been doing well. I moved here. I needed a change of pace." So many triggers in New York, and bad memories to go with them. He pats the booth beside him. "Sit down, man. We're having an impromptu party." To Natalya, he says, "I'm Edgar Hayes. Most people just call me Ed."

Katherine turns to smile at Natalya, looking slightly nervous. I mean, she does have armed goons. "If you insist, who am I to argue, right?" She pulls her drink close to her, taking a sip. Curious eyes take in Calvin when he arrives, but she doesn't recognize him — yet. "Perhaps we should move to a bigger table, I mean, that way the two large hulking men could sit as well." The server stands patiently, slipping menus on the table. "I'll be right back to take more orders, the eggs and homefries will be out first, do you want us to hold it until the rest of the table gets their food?" Katherine isn't paying attention to the server, smiling at Edgar. "A friend, from home? Small world, huh?"

Calvin peels off his soaked hoodie. Underneath is a damp plaid shirt. "Yeah! Ed! I totally remember you. Names though, they can just…" He whistles and makes a gesture of something fluttering away. He catches the waitress with a tap on the arm. "Chocolate milkshake, please? Skip the whipped. Double cherries." He takes a seat then, making sure to keep a small distance since he's still wet. "Yeah, Ed. You look good yourself. I'm glad you got out of New York. For a city so big, it's so easy to fall back into the same shit. It's crazy that you moved here. This is my hometown! But it's a great place, you'll be fine here." He looks to the women now. "Apologies. I'm Calvin Shay. I own Starkweather Music by the campus."

"Mister Ed, nice to meet you" Natalya smiles to Edgar. "You are from New York? I have always wanted to go there. Perhaps someday I will get to see Gotham myself." A faraway look in her eyes for a moment before she grins at Katherine acceding to her paying for the food. "I do not like arguments either" she nods, screwing up her nose at the thought. "It is much nicer to be friends. They do not need to sit with us. It would make their job harder." She starts flipping through a menu while the others chat about old times. At the mention of Calvin's name, she peers up at him once more. "A CD shop? Do they still have those?"

Edgar looks like he's prepared to move to a larger table, but Natalya saying the goons don't need to sit with them is enough to settle him down again. "Yeah, hold mine til the rest comes," Ed tells the server. To Kate, he says with a thready laugh, "Yeah, Calvin and I met back in New York. He and I used to run in some of the same circles." He nods to Calvin. "Yeah, too many triggers back there. Did you ever say you were from here? I can't remember what put the idea in my head, but it seemed perfect." To Natalya, he asides, "Everyone should go to New York at least once. It really is the center of the universe. Ask any New Yorker."

Katherine glances between the three, not having much to say about travel or music, at least for now. She aims a sympathetic look at the thugs, watching them stand there with a blank look on their sunglasses-clad face. "Oh!" She beams a smile at Calvin. "I was going to come give you the Welcome basket tomorrow. Various businesses in town chip in to welcome other small businesses with a few coupons, some muffins and a knit throw. It's okay if I stop by sometime, right?" She asks, before she grins at Edgar. "How long did you two live in New York?"

"We sell vinyl, not CDs. But the most business is from the sale and rental of musical instruments. And the private lessons, but I'm thinking about expanding into open workshops. Basic guitar or piano. Maybe composition. Not sure yet." To Edgar, "I usually didn't say more than being from Colorado 'originally'. I was still claiming Austin as my new home back then." He says with a roll of his eyes. "But yes, if you have a chance, New York will open your mind. It's a special place." Katherine gets a big broad smile. "Oh, that'll be nice. I'm in the store every day for at least a while. Drop by anytime."

"People still buy vinyl? I thought that was all gone" Natalya asks, confused. A smile for Edgar. "Maybe when I am finished here, I can move on to New York." It is a thought. The Latina spending quite a bit of time staring at Calvin. "You deliver baskets? Aren't you on television? How many…oh! I remember you!" This is directed at Calvin as she grins at him. "You played at my sixteenth birthday party. Do you remember? I am sure it was you. Younger. Handsome. Are you famous?"

"I was born in Jersey," Edgar says, "but I started sneaking into the City when I was fourteen." He smiles sheepishly. Yeah, he was just a treasure as a teenager. "Started running with a bad crowd. Then I moved there when I dropped out of school and kind of couch-surfed for… gosh, years." He tells Calvin, "I'm definitely going to be checking out your shop. I've always wanted to learn how to play something. Guitar, maybe." He offers Natalya a smile. "It's a great place to go if you have money. Totally different experience. You'll love it."

Katherine glances at her phone when it buzzes, and a frown appears on her face. "Shit." She glances around the table and stuffs the phone in her purse. "I have to go guys, I'm sorry. Family emergency." She slips from the booth, grabbing her jacket. "My food can happily go to one of the big…guys people." She gestures to the thugs and gives the trio a brief, but genuine smile. "Good night, all."

Calvin laughs shyly, looking down and blushing. "Yeah. I'm famous. Was. Am? I don't know anymore." He takes a long look at Natalya, as he searches his memory. "I only did a few sweet sixteens and it would have been back in the aughts after that pop album." Beat. "Only one young Latina though. You must be her. That was a fun party…for the adults as well as the youth." He says in a distance sort of way. "Glad the world is still small enough to run into two folks I know. And yes, vinyl is very hip right now. I have a stupidly large collection." He frowns a little as Katherine leaves. Is he checking her out? He sure does watch her leave. With her out of sight, he looks to Edgar. "I would be honored to help you learn guitar. It was my second instrument but it's the money maker. Plus, it's the sexiest instrument, by far."

"A bad crowd? Do tell, Mister Ed" Natalya smiles slyly at him before also looking disappointed at Katherine's departure. She stands to allow the other woman to get out. "I hope it is not too serious" she offers before resuming her seat. "Si" she nods to Calvin. "It was 2004. Sorry you could not make my eighteenth birthday as well." That was the one where lots of people died…not common knowledge. A smirk as she watches him check Katherine out. "A guitar is sexy" she muses, "But so is a flute. The bigger the better."

Edgar gives Calvin a sly grin as he catches him watching Katherine leave. "That's why I want to learn," he says. "I can sing, but aside from killing it at karaoke, I got nothing. Guitar's sexy." He sighs quietly, then admits, "I don't know if sexy will help me here, but I'll take what I can get." To Natalya, he says, "Oh yeah, I was a troublemaker. Vandalism, staying out all night, sex, drugs, and rock and roll. I'm honestly surprised I'm still alive." He smiles a little, and there's something dim behind the look. Not everyone he used to know made it out alive. "Anyway, I'm here to start over and be clean."

Calvin gains a similar expression at Edgar's words. "Even less and less now." He says, quietly. "But, uh, I'm coming up on two years now. A year and nine months, to be technical. When I came home, it was the same thing. I just wanted to start over, clean and sober. I wanted that fame shit behind me too. Sex, drugs, booze, music." He shudders a little. "But…I've been sacrificing my creativity. It's just fucked that it all seems to go together." Beat. "And the sex was mostly harmless too. So, miss that." He leans over to Edgar. "Don't let this small town fool you, man. Sexy will help."

Natalya rests her elbows on the table and her face in her hands as she watches the men complain about everything she holds dear. Madness. "You are both 'clean' now?" she confirms before attempting an encouraging smile. "Good for you. I am very proud of you both." The Latina does her best not to laugh. "You are both sexy men. Why do you need to hide behind a guitar? Calvin, if the sex was mostly harmless, you are not doing it right."

Edgar tells Calvin with a laugh, "No, I'm convinced, there is no one in this town I'm going to hook up with. That's okay, every time I have a bad breakup, I end up in rehab. Can't have a breakup if there's no relationship." He taps the side of his nose to indicate he's spot on here. He glances to Natalya delicately. She's the kind of dangerous he recognizes too well. "I'm clean now," he says. "Nothing against a good party, it's just that some of us don't know when to quit, so it's better if we don't get started."

"When you put sex like that…" Calvin laughs with a snort. "But yeah, I'm clean now. It's not easy, so thank you for the kind words. I come from a time when everyone you idolized did their best work high or drunk. I was convinced that it was the secret for way too long. Like I haven't been making music since I was a kid in church." He clucks at himself and looks to Edgar. "Well, we aren't meant to be alone in this world, you know? But it's all a part of the process. You work on your recovery first and the rest will follow. I hope." He grins. "Natalya, right? What brings you to here? With bodyguards?"

"My father's idea" Natalya sighs with a wave of her hand towards the bodyguards. "He is protecting me" she smiles wickedly, giving the impression they are also there to protect others from her. "I am here on vacation. It is almost snow season. And if there is a little family business to be had as well, then I will take care of that too." A frown appears as she asks, "So I should not invite you to my parties?"

Edgar glances to Calvin, and he can't help but smile at his old friend. "I like your optimism, but for now I'll just worry about getting settled in and, like you say, working on my own recovery. I'm not that guy anymore. I'm a boring guy, who lives alone with a cat. That's just how I like it." Their food arrives, and upon seeing his home fries and eggs, he sits up a bit and gets ready to dig in. He's actually got an appetite these days. "Oh, I'm not a partier anymore," he says. "I just stay in these days."

"Then we shall have the party at your place" Natalya smiles sweetly at Edgar before rising from her seat. "It was nice to meet you, Mister Ed. Nice to see you again, Pop Star…or was it Country Rock? I can never remember these things. Maybe I will drop by your store some time?" She leaves via the counter, paying for everyone's meal, before heading out. Her thugs quickly in step behind her.

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