(2019-02-04) Reaching Out
Calvin treats the local first responders to dinner and meets a lost youth. Then tells all his business in an effort to help.
Players:
calvin..omri..

Calvin Shay is at the Corner Cafe and is paying everyone's bill. That's the word on the street and if someone shows up, the waitress will happily inform them that dinner is on him. Calvin, the newly disabled musician is parked at one of the tables in that metallic orange wheelchair that everyone seems to comment on. He's not alone at the table. He's surrounded by a small group of cops and EMTs, both in and out of uniform. He's signing autographs as waitresses clear the table. You don't have to know Calvin is a celebrity to he's popular. It's easy to pick up his natural charisma and large personality. He's signing a napkin for a petite EMT. "Look, all I'm saying is I am not a small man. If you were in there hauling me out of that restaurant, you deserve a dinner. More than that. Thank you, sincerely. You and all of you…saved my…everything."

"Not your legs though." The lady EMT says with a slight frown and the room seems to tense. "Oh, please, Nadia, you just wanted to be taller than someone for once in your life. Get outta here with that shit." There seems to be a collective sigh of relief as Calvin laughs and moves to sign the next thing. "Oh, shit, my first album! I can tell by CD case this was in a box somewhere." He blows off the dust and pulls out the liner to sign.

*

Omri makes his way into the cafe. He glances around, pausing for a moment by the first waitress he comes across to ask, "This is the place with the free meals tonight, right?" He's told it is, so he glances around once more, using his hand to push some of his giant mess of hair off his face. He inhales, and then walks to a table kind of off the main space and flops on a chair. He picks a menu up, glances at it blankly, and then tosses it back onto the table before reaching to the handful of rubber bands dangling loosely around his right wrist and snapping one onto his skin. He sighs, and leans back in the chair, waiting for a waitress.

*

It's the rubber band snap that catches Calvin's attention. He looks up and around to Omri. "You are too pretty to be a cop. Look at these ugly assholes—"

"Hey, isn't your fiancee a former officer of the law?" The uniformed man claps back.

"Yeah. Former. She got out before the ugly nightstick hit her." More laughter. Big smiles and flickering phones. Calvin turns back to Omri. "Seriously, everyone eats on my AMEX tonight. Get what you like." His gaze falls on the young man's wrist. He opens his mouth to say something but seems to decide against it, at least while he's in the company of others. After that last CD liner, his crowd dissipates and his table is cleared. It seems like the second no one is paying him attention, he leaves his table and maneuvers to Omri's. He only hit two chairs on the way! Win! He points at the man's wrist. "What're trying to kick? I'm Calvin, by the way." He extends his hand. "I've kicked a lot of shit in my life. I know the…look? I guess."

*

Omri furrows his brow a little, at the man, "Me? Oh, um…" He huffs, his long fingers casually sort of gesturing at the menu, "Just, you know… bad thoughts, or whatever." He tilts his head just a bit, "What's an Amex?" He sniffs, "And why are you buying everyone's food? What's the catch?"

*

"AMEX. American Express. A credit card." Calvin withdraws his hand and folds them in front of him. "I'm practicing gratefulness. I…" He pauses and chuckles. "Sorry…I've never had to really explain this." He gestures to himself, voice wobbling. "I got shot by my ex-wife in a restaurant about…three weeks ago. I'm here to thank all the first responders in town because…I almost died. My pregnant girlfriend was shot. Her father too. Minor but still. I'm so fucking glad that I came to make a big show of it." He leans in now. "You see, I'm famous. Not even just locally either." He whispers. "And getting shot and crippled was kind of a big deal. So…I counter it with showy shit. So they don't look at me. So, uh, no catch. Unless, you want to keep me company while I wait for my ride to return. I'm tired and hurting and I could use a conversation with a person who seems to not know me. What's your name?"

*

Omri nods, he know what a credit card is. "Yeah, I um… I have no idea who you are. What are you famous for?" When the waitress comes by, he asks, "Do you have like, a grilled cheese sandwich? Any vegetables or whatever on the side. I'm vegetarian, so, whatever you have is fine." Returning his attention to Calvin, "Crippled? So, you're not gonna ever get out of the chair?" He furrows his brow, "I'm Omri." Then he leans forward, "You were shot and crippled and you're here… celebrating…" He seems disbelieving, "How are… How are you not um…" He sighs, "I can't imagine wanting to keep going if I was in your place."

*

"Wow. People warned me about this. People saying stuff like that. The 'I couldn't keep going' thing. I was like, pfft, naw. The kids are woke." Calvin says, still in good spirits. "I…don't know if I'll walk again. The prognosis is good right now. I just have to wait and heal. Or…not." That bothers him, his easy smile fades and he waves down the waitress for a chocolate milkshake. "I'm happy to be…still breathing. The cops and EMTs deserve thanks for heading into what they thought was still an active shooter. But it wasn't. She used the last bullet on herself." He pauses and pulls out his smartphone, tap, tapping until a music app comes up. "I'm not celebrating the bullet that lodged itself near my spine. I'm glad that I'm here to be with my bride to be and the bun in her oven. We're old so naturally made buns aren't expected."

He presses play and a moody acoustic song plays. It's got a bluesy-country sort of feel to it. The first line is apropos. 'I've been thinkin' 'bout my grave made for two…' That's Calvin's voice. Calvin explains. "Last song from Midnight Myth. My second to last album. Thinking About My Grave. It was a hit. Double platinum. I'm a musician. Been working in the business for a little over twenty years. My big break came in 1998. I have seven Grammys, one Emmy and one Oscar. Two, almost three years ago I had a big, nasty meltdown in public. Did the rehab thing. Came home. Here. And started fresh. That's Calvin Shay, the cliff notes version." He shrugs and turns the music down, letting the song finish as he asks, "Omri, if you don't know me at all, you aren't a local. Locals know me. So where'd you come from?"

*

Omri listens, intently. He nods as Calvin explains. With a little smirk, Omri notes, "I can't sing." He smiles, and then shrugs, "I grew up outside of Denver. Spent a few years on the street there, before I um… I ended up…" He sighs, and he looks out the window, gritting his teeth a moment. "I ended up joining what I thought was a religious movement that turned out to be a cult." He absently snaps the rubber band as he looks back to the singer. "So, I'm kind of rebuilding, I guess."

One of the EMTs walking past the table pauses, and she tilts her head, "Hey, kid. Sorry, the hair's hard to forget. You look a lot better than the other night." She puts her hand on Omri's shoulder, and offers, "I'm glad to see you're okay." Then she continues on her way to the restrooms.

Omri sighs, and purses his lips in thought for a second, before rolling his eyes, "I don't remember her."

*

"Ah. Cults prey on the weak." Calvin says as the EMT leaves. "That doesn't mean you are weak when I say that now, okay? Vulnerable is a better word. You need something and cults have exactly whatever it is. Don't feel bad for falling in with one. I'm a celebrity, right? I've seen good friends join everything from Scientology to Kabbalah to that fucking Hillsong church. It can happen to anybody. I'm really, really vulnerable right now. I know it and…part of me is still waiting for someone to swoop in and answer everything. I want that. Even knowing it's bullshit." Calvin has big, expressive eyes and they move from the EMT and back to Omri. And his hair. "Did you OD? Party too hard? I-I…I'm a stranger but…I've been sober for just a little past two years now. After two solid decades of drinking and drugging. I want to help, if you want it."

*

Omri furrows his brow, "No, it's okay. You can say it. I'm weak." He looks over his shoulder at the departing EMT, and then nods as he returns his gaze to Calvin. "Yeah. I um… I stole a bottle of pain meds from a friend and took all of them. I wanted out." He sighs, "You must think I'm pretty pathetic, huh? I mean… You can't walk anymore and I'm the suicidal one." He puts his elbows on the table and leans his head down, rubbing his eyes with the palms of his hands as he mumbles, "…mysterious ways…"

*

Calvin laughs, in a shocked and surprised sort of way. "Bro, I've…okay, I'm forty-three, for the record. I tried to kill myself after my twin brother died two years ago. It was a concerted effort to end my life by way of heroin. I lived. My wife at the time found me and hit me with Narcan. And I was so mad." His eyes twinkle a bit as tears threaten to form at the edge. "All I wanted was to be with my brother. Identical twin brother. We were so close." He swallows and shifts in his chair with a groan of pain. "Mm, sorry. Still wearing a back brace. I'm moving too fast but if I don't…" He leans in again, closer. "Dude, being a paraplegic sucks balls and I have at least one moment every day in which I consider how to end it. My gun collection was removed from the house. Again. And all drugs are under lock and key and someone is always with me or checking on me. I have a history because before my brother died, I tried four other times between like, 2000 and 2015 or so. I hung myself but was found before I strangled to death. Two were ODs. The fourth was when I found out my brother was terminal. He had diabetes since he was a baby. He was always sick and his sugars were tricky to control. I came home from being on tour and picked out a revolver. I was going to kill us both. He talked me down."

"My point is…" Calvin reaches across the table, offering a hand. "When you are hurting, you think you are all alone and your suffering is just yours and no one else can help or understand. That is a lie that the sick brain tells you. You are not alone, Omri. You are not weak. You are not pathetic. You are hurting. Pain is universal." He sighs. "Even my brother tried once. He went hanging but the cord broke. He was sixteen and just got caught making out with some boy at the rodeo. It was the 90s and my parents, who became wonderful and supportive PFlag parents later on, wanted to send him away. It's not uncommon, Omri. I am just glad you are here now."

*

Omri seems to mostly just stare off into the restaurant through the speech. It's not until he mentions his brother getting caught with another boy that he finally actually looks Calvin's way. He sighs for about the hundredth time this evening, and he gives a little nod. "You're either completely unbelievably incredible or you're full of crap, Calvin," he notes, with a little smile. "I um… I'm gonna keep an eye on you to figure it out." He shrugs, "I would not be anything like you are if I was in your… Well… you know…"

*

"I've just lived a long, strange sort of life." Calvin says with a shrug. "Celebrity didn't change me so much as ruin me. But I'm an artist, I didn't get into music to be famous. I did it to make money doing what I loved. To share my creations with the world. The song I played was written before my brother died. But it's true. We have a gravestone together. He's there on one side. And my name and birth are on the other. The plots beside us are for spouses but his husband will marry again, I know the guy. He's too hot to not find love again. But me? I got my bride. Point is…you are what? Not even twenty? You should stick around. There is life after trauma. And no matter how much you end up going through, life is still there and its worth living. At least…worth it long enough to see. So, stay curious, Omri. Keep going, alright? You want my number? I'll listen. I'll share. Whatever."

*

Omri nods, "Sure." He passes his phone to Calvin and lets him enter his number. Then he takes Calvin's picture, saving it with the contact. "Eighteen," he answers, about his age. He nods, then, as Calvin heads off to catch his ride as the waitress drops off his sandwich.

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