(2018-11-13) Help Needed
Wren looks for work; Calvin gets a glimpse into the past.

Starkweather Music, Calaveras
Tue Nov 13, 2018

Starkweather Music is a large refurbished brick building with two stories, large windows and a warm ambience. The first story is dedicated to displays of guitars, acoustic, electric and bass and another display of classical instruments. Accessories live here along with the finer items locked in glass cases. The back half is mostly vinyl records and according to signage, the music workshop and lesson space behind double doors.

Upstairs, the walls are lined with the more expensive instruments. The large floor space here is where the drum kits, keyboards, pianos live. The further back is the sound equipment section and anything else you may need as a DJ. The office must be here as the ubiquitous Staff Only door is up here.

The building next door was purchased by Starkweather and has a sign announcing an expansion into rental studio space and inside, the walls look the same but sounds of construction are often heard.


Slow days are slow. The weather isn't helpful but how busy should a music store be on any given weekday? Regulars know Calvin is pretty hands-on with Starkweather Music and he will work alone on the slowest days. Today is one of those days. The long haired musician is sitting on the checkout counter, feet swinging slightly, as he tunes a weathered acoustic guitar.

On the outside window of the store, a help wanted sign has appeared. 'Help Wanted. Must Not Be A Thief. Ask for Cal.' it reads. The middle line is underlined with angry red. This goes alone with the viral video that hit the net last night. A video of Calvin Shay loudly firing a teenager that was being arrested for trying to steal one of his classic guitars. Calvin's insults are cold and nasty but the general reaction has been in his favor. One could find it funny.

A willowy strip of a girl with a riot of dark brown hair and dark (from a distance anyway) eyes appears to be hovering outside the music store. She's wearing black tights, a fitted black t-shirt with a red Spider-man insignia across the bust (RIP Stan Lee Q_Q) and over the works of it, an oversized bomber jacket that is much too big for her build. She's wearing comfortable boots (a bit worn down though) to aide in negotiating slippery walkways. Kinda smacks of a problematic youth looking to fill her pockets, right? Wrong. Take one look at that earnest albeit nervous face as she studies the 'HELP WANTED' sign — gaze lingering on the red slash beneath the font — and you can just surmise that the girl is anything but a thief.

Plus she saw The Video. Her grandfather was guffawing at it last night because believe it or not, her grandparents are net-savvy. Then they had to go and point Wren in the direction of that shop since 'hey, there's now a job vacancy' ..!

With a deep, soothing breath.. Wren shows herself into Starkweather Music, gaze slowly moving toward the counter where Calvin has set up.

The door doesn't chime. It strums. A pick across strings at the top of the door. Calvin looks up at the young woman with a big welcoming smile. "Welcome! Anything I can help you with?" He waits a beat before going back to tuning the guitar. "You might want to wait on Black Friday for a big purchase though. Just saying…" He chuckles softly. It's such a normal welcome, almost bland. It's Calvin Shay, right?! This is also the guy who is wearing a nametag: 'Cal, Owner'

She jumps slightly at the strum; looks up to see the setup and has the grace to look amused by it. That is new! Wren makes sure the door is closed in her wake and turns to look upon the owner of the place with an expression of interest. She knows of Calvin Shay but not of him; the tumult in his career, the return to Calaveras and why. Interestingly enough her uncle Glenn was more apt to know of the man's music, when he was at that height. Wren studies Calvin for a few beats, mind hopping back to last night when Paw was chortling at his near-obsolete but functional iPad. That video. That teenage boy must still be cowering somewhere.

Then her expression changes into the slightest smile, but it's a friendly one. She is clearly not a delinquent, her stance uncertain and so terribly shy. "Was.. going to browse but I saw your sign." Clears throat, speaks louder. Eye contact, Wren.

"You're needing some help around here?"

Calvin leans in as she speaks. "Are you here to inquire?" He asks, softly. He almost seems to be mocking her but his expression is too friendly, his posture is too lazy as he rests on the guitar. "I need another…well, everyone does everything here. Do you know anything about music?" He pauses and hurries to add. "You don't need to be an expert in music theory. Having a Spotify account is fine."

That's Wren's first instinct, to assume she's being picked on. No, she's not that bad off; she keeps herself well even in her second-hand digs.. but it's her nature. Her voice, sometimes too quiet. Sometimes others had their way with her (no no not in that way) at her expense, making fun.. mostly back in high school. She's mostly over it now but old habits die hard; for a heartbeat's worth of time she's inwardly panicking, thinking the musician to be doing the same.. til' she notes the kindness. He's genuine.

Shouldering her bag, Wren ambles closer to the counter. She's tall-ish and willowy, eyes finally remaining upon Calvin's person as he explains what he needs. Then her expression wavers some. "I… know enough. Not a lot. M-mostly 70's and 80's stuff. But I know my way around Spotify too—" Wren says quickly. "I am… very organized." Oh god she feels like such a derp.

"You're a little young for the oldies." Calvin says, sliding down off the counter. The old guitar was getting new strings from the mess left behind on his perch. "What are you? 19-20? You probably like music older than me." He's pretty cheerful as he talks and moves around to the other side of the counter. He clears the counter and offers Wren an application. It's very simple. Maybe just the bare minimum of information needed. "Do you know anything about instruments themselves? Play anything? The recorder counts because that's where you learn to read music." He says with a wink as he looks for an ink pen. It has a garish purple and silver pompom attached to the top. "But again, that's not a requirement. I like to know, especially when scheduling. I don't want to pair up two less informed employees up…especially with the holidays coming up. If I'm not here, someone has to be knowledgeable."

What could Wren say? Does life experience count? Her stomach churns with nerves; who is she fooling? She knows '80s' and '70s' …? And a recorder? She played one, when.. in sixth grade? What could she say that isn't 'I know how to fire a gun and protect what's mine' .. or 'I repair my own truck' .. or 'I'm not the person I wanted to be' … how can she answer?

She'll just damned well try. Something flickers in her fine features; it's the shoving away of gathering upset and nerves and the desperate reaching for a smile. Which she gives to Calvin; her mouth, fashioned the same as her late mother, turns up into a smile that is mildly impish without even trying. "I-I don't play… I could have. I toyed with piano when I was eleven, but.. it wasn't for long. Recorder back when I was even younger.." She looks from Calvin, down at the application.

A glance to the pen, you can just tell she's trying not to giggle at it, before doe eyes look back up at the musician's face. "I-I can be available.. anytime of the day. I am between studies.. I'm always free." Ah, the mantra of the lost and trying to find their way. "I-I am also a photographer.. if that helps with anything.."

"It does! An artist is an artist. An special appreciation for beauty in any form is major plus." Calvin says, excitedly. "I've been giving photography a try myself. A friend gave me a nice camera for my birthday. I'm…probably not much of a visual artist to be honest but it's been interesting to explore a different medium. I like people as my subjects, I think. I should put more work into it." He pauses to peer at the application. "You were a student? Don't worry about the reference section then. Just give me one person. No immediate family." He picks the guitar up again and starts to tune again. "Did you give me your name?"

Now Wren seems to truly warm up. When her talents are appreciated, it's easier to let her guard down. No no, not even in a selfish way; when someone appreciates ART in all of it's forms, it's just… it's good. It's much along the lines of how she and Yazmin formed such a fast union, given the other girl's stance as an artist. Case in point here. Now Wren suddenly, in earnest, wants to help out. "I-it's really great. It feels nice to capture moments. I was after my bachelor of fine arts but things… some things happened. I need to work for awhile before I decide on what to do next." She catches herself; she doesn't like elaborating on her life in recent times. A husky clearing of her throat as she picks up the pen she had previously been using her right hand to write with; she goes on to continue to do so, with ease, using her left. She doesn't even seem to notice.

"I hope you get to practice more.. i-it's good for the mind. You see things that people don't expect you to see, even as they pose for the photo.." She looks up from the application. "My name is Sasha.. Sasha Blackmore, but I'm usually just called by my middle name, Wren. I prefer it. I-it's nice to meet you, Calvin."

"Blackmore? The Mesa Dorado Blackmores?" The big and friendly demeanor changes to something more subdued and curious. "I'm a Starkweather—well, duh…but you might know our ranch out that ways." He pauses a moment and he looks at her with that some inquisitive look. "You…aren't Celia's daughter, are you?"

"The very same." Offered next, her responses coming with a bit more ease as she becomes moreso comfortable. Especially when names — surnames — become more known. Of course Wren would know of that surname, even if through connection with her grandparents. She brightens then, "Very familiar.. I bet my Paw would have more of a say. I definitely know of the ranch," Though she's never been there. "Do you know of Morley and Marguerite Blackmore? Living in a small place out by Cooperstown, I… I live with them." There, the twinge in her tone. It's only natural that talk of Celia dampen her tone some and her dark — green, in fact — eyes soften some. Though Wren is at the point now where she doesn't fall apart when discussing her mother in public.

But that wistfulness; she has clearly not gotten over her grief. Never will.

"You're right there, too. Her only one. She's been gone—" Wren catches herself.. may as well outright say it. "..she, uhm.. passed in May…" A near-whisper.

Calvin gives a stiff sort of nod. "I'd heard about her passing because, uh, yeah, I know your grandparents. Well, my parents know them better. They know everyone." He's not looking at Wren anymore, focusing on the guitar. When he realizes it's in tune, he goes about tidying an already organized workspace. "Mom might have even mentioned that Celia's daughter was in town. I can't always retain her town gossip." He laughs but there is no mirth in it. "You were close, huh?" His jaw tightens a moment. "I only…I know that look on your face. I hear that, uh…stricken sound in your voice." Now he looks at her. "It won't always sting that hard. It won't always take your breath away. Don't mistake me though. This isn't a speech about time healing wounds, alright? It's more like…the words lose their power to get you between the ribs. But it'll ache…forever." Now his eyes go distant, darting to the side. "Sorry. I lost my twin over two years ago and I—well." He shrugs and sighs.

Simply put, Wren should have been in therapy months ago. It all happened so fast. She's listening to Calvin's words as she finishes filling in her application and after digging deep for a reference… she decides to put down her favorite professor from the college that she.. had to leave. He'd say something good, she hopes. She slides both paper and pen back to Calvin but her eyes are over-bright as he deals her some very solid advice. Luckily Wren is good at composure and though the signs of her anguish are there — some hard swallowing, a tiny twitch at the corner of her lips, and those shiny eyes — she's keeping it together completely.

"V-very close… it's why I'm here. When she took sick she told me to stay in college. I couldn't. Came back to look after her and what I got back from withdrawing, I told my grandparents to just… hold onto it." Oh.. well there's news: Wren of the second-hand clothing and living lean and wanting work… she has the nestegg of whatever could be refunded to her, untouched and unbothered with. "Thank you, really.. and I'm sorry for your own loss.. I really truly am." Wren offers in her tremulous little way, pure truth. "Did you ever meet my mom? You look to be close to her age… or.. what it.." She can't continue, offering a helpless, sad little smile. "I'm sorry if it's personal for me to ask.."

Calvin takes the application and gives a look as he waves a hand. "Nothing too personal, darling." He takes a breath. "I knew Celia, yeah. We are about the same age so we kinda grew up together out in the sticks." He lets out a shuddery breath. "I think Dex got to know her a bit better after high school. Dex being my brother. He spent more time here than I did after my career took off. He spoke highly of her now that I think about it, actually." A smile, brief and then gone. "Sorry. Uh, so…when do you want to start? How many hours do you want? I'm-" He makes a note on her application. "I'm going to pair you with me whenever possible. Train you myself." Beat. "I mean, we're neighbors. Gotta take care of one another, right? And I usually work days. Otherwise it'll probably be Dave. Dave's a stoner but he can shred like you—nevermind. I just want you to work with the best and brightest."

There is a look of something coming together. "O-oh—" Wren's eyes fill her face; so green. "Dex." She looks down at her feet. Her features soften as she puts a couple of things together… "I remember my mom knowing of a Dex. Talking kindly of him. Maybe, then, whereever they're at, they're… at least they have company in one another, right?" Saind in a way that is simultaneously so innocent and hopeful and also matter-of-factly. Wren has her own ideologies of where people go when they pass. She looks up with those eyes and smiles sadly, opting not to go farther lest she make both herself and Calvin uncomfortable. "Mom had many friends, she used to be a server. I don't remember much but yeah… she spoke of a Dex.."

A deep inhalation, she allows her eyes to rove the store. There is admiration in her expression as Wren turns back, soon to be floored by the quick turnaround of her applying. "I—anytime. Anytime. I mean, I can be here. I-I volunteer out at Merrimack shelter some Mondays but I can easily do days. I could even start now but I have to be home this afternoon with Nan." Her color returns, she's blushing. The sadness is quickly fizzled away by this surprised happiness.

"T-thank you Cal, really. I learn quick; I swear it."

Regarding hours, "Whatever amount you can give me." She adds.

"Oh, knowing Dex, he was part of the pearly gate welcome party." Calvin laughs and there is something real in it. "He was someone else who went by their middle name. He didn't look like a Charles. I mean, do I look like a Charles?" Beat. "We were identical. But, uh, he was more clean cut. Fussy about his appearance. A-Anyway, I'll give you a call later on. I am gonna lean towards days /with me/ but like I said, I'm not always here or I only drop in for an hour or whatever. That's when I'll call Dave in. And you can have your Mondays. Volunteer work is important and with the weather gone cold, they need the help." He extends his hand. It's trembling. He shakes it out and tries again. "Welcome aboard, Wren."

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