Haruki's already here, sitting, drinking his tea and eating some soup.
You'd think the cold outside would have regenerative powers to wake someone up, but despite the block long walk in the icy temperature outside, Kip is still half asleep today. He's settled in at the end of the counter, hunched over a mug, bleary red-rimmed eyes hidden by the unbound hair that's falling into his face as he sits there. No food. Just coffee. And the lovely scent of stale alcohol coming from his pores despite having clearly taken a shower since his hair is slightly damp and not from the snow outside.
Haruki looks alarmed as he spots Kip's state and he gets up and walks over. "Kip?" he asks.
Kip's posture is terrible. But not as terrible as his breath probably was when he woke up. Thankfully it's minty fresh and coated in coffee. Third cup and it's barely made an impact into this hangover of his. "Hmm?" he asks, the sound melting from his raspy voice as he turns his head and looks up a little through the hair. "Oh. Hey. Hi. Hello." Whatever he was absently toying with in his hand is secreted into his palm. He's not good at sleight of hand tricks so it's not as smooth a motion as he pretends it to be.
Haruki's gaze is drawn to whatever it is Kip's secretting away for a brief moment. "Did something happen?" he asks. "You look terrible."
Did something happen? Kip seems to give a dark smile at that question, though it falters after a moment. His hand squeezes closed tight for a second, then he turns it over and opens it. There in the red lines left by squeezing it is a small ring. Solitaire. "Oh you know, just living the cliche of a country music song about my girl leaving me. Woke up to find her ring on the dresser and all her shit gone. Surprisingly, she wasn't hiding at the bottom of a bottle of vodka."
"Does the drinking help?" Haruki asks, settling down beside Kip. "Why'd she leave this time? You want to talk about it? Or a distraction? Or a hug?" He's all sympathy as he looks at Kip, that concern still there.
Strangers in town are fairly common during the summer, but in tit-freezingly cold weather, less so. The skiing isn't good enough to draw in huge crowds, and for cross-country, Fort Brunsett is more accessible than Tamarack Falls, seeing as people don't have to worry about accidental plunges over cliffs...
The man entering the cafe wears a black wool coat, clean and pressed, but discreetly aged. Shabby genteel, one might say. He takes his hat off, shakes snow from the brim, and heads toward the counter to take a seat, flashing a charming smile at the waitresses as he sets his hat down on the counter. That smile is turned on Kip and Haruki, next, along with a friendly, "Howdy. Chuck Wester, from the Vermont Globe." Sure doesn't sound like he was born in Vermont. "Ya'll live around here? Lookin' to ask a few questions for the paper."
"Well drinking sure ain't hurtin'," Kip mutters, though he doesn't respond more, specifically as to the /why/ part, because his attention is pulled away from his friend by the arrival of a newcomer. He turns in his seat and looks this Chuck fella over. The mug of coffee remains cradled in one hand, but the other one tucks the ring into his pocket. "Vermont Globe? That's not our paper." Our paper. Apparently in the past couple of years at some point Kip made the transition to becoming a local. "You should talk to someone over at the Times office." A pause. A dark smirk. "Ask for Enid."
"Wow, you're a reporter," Haruki smiles happy and bright, perhaps a bit too bright at Chuck. When Kip mentions Enid he's nodding along. "Yes, Enid knows everything and everyone around. You're not trying to poach one of her stories? What sort of questions do you have?"
"Ms. Schmitt's not in today, but no, this is a fair bit more serious than local gossip," Chuck admits, then holds out a hand toward the two for a shake. "Mind if I get your names? I've been following up on cases of alleged atmospheric anomalies, see, and this town has had its fair share of them. You ever seen one of those columns in the sky?"
Kip looks at the hand, then at Chuck. Haruki is closer. He can shake first. "Scott. But everyone calls me Kip." He does not offer a last name. "And I'm a bookstore owner, not a weather man. Though to be fair, we get lots of weird weather here. It comes with the location. What kind of story could there possibly be about it? I mean you stick around, it might even /snow/." Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed today and is in sarcasm mode because of it.
"Like the Northern Lights?" Haruki asks. He's frowning a bit though and glances at Kip. "I've not seen anything. I know there's lots of strange rumours going around but I haven't seen anything." He doesn't shake the offered hand in fact he doesn't seem to have noticed it. "Meteorologist. That's the fancy name for weather man. There's lots of weirdness about, Enid has a whole book on that sort of thing."
When Haruki doesn't seem to notice the hand, and Kip outright ignores it, Chuck raises a philosophical brow and draws it back, leaning against the counter and, when a waitress comes around, lifting a hand and placing an order for, "Coffee, please. Black. Thank you kindly, miss."
He looks back to Kip and Haruki, as if expecting a name, but when the man doesn't give -that-, either, he snaps his fingers. "Kip, Kip the bookstore owner... say, ya'll aren't the Kip with all the girlfriends, are you? From Enid's column?"
"Oh Jeezus," Kip mutters, running the non-coffee-holding hand through his hair as he groans. "I-- I don't..." he starts to stammer in protest, then his shoulders just slump forward a bit. "Yes. Kip. With all the girlfriends. That one," he agrees with a crinkle of his nose. Then he seems to realize he's being a little shit and offers a bit of a smile. "Sorry. Had a rough night." If it wasn't obvious by the clear hangover etched into his face. "You really came all the way out here to look at some lights in the sky? I mean there surely has to be some sort of better news out there. Isn't the President on Twitter this week?"
"I'm Haruki with absolutely no girlfriends," Haruki finally introduces himself. "One day I'm going to get Kip to teach me his ways, it'll be better than a pick up artist book because it won't be weird and mean."
The waitress swings by the counter with the reporter's coffee, and Chuck hands over a handful of cash, far more than a coffee could possibly be worth, with a wink and a smile.
"It's what I'm paid for, Mr. Kip, and the President's above my paygrade. Ya'll mind if I record this?" He pulls out, of all things, an old tape recorder of the sort used to take verbal memos before, you know, smart phones made them obsolete. It's in good shape, too, nice and clean, and well cared for.
Leaning in toward the recorder, Kip says, "There is absolutely positively nothing of interest in this city except for Haruki's magic show." He grins cheekily.
Haruki laughs at Kip's response. "It's a secret, the magic show. So secret. But it's going to be awesome. And no weather balloons or weird weather or David Copperfield lightning tricks. I don't do the weather magic."
Lilith DOES go places by herself, it turns out. More and more, in fact, especially now that she's starting to learn that people should be a lot more afraid of her, than she is of them. For the most part at least. So today, she's out and about, and her wandering and exploring lead her to the Crossroads Cafe. Even Lost need coffee and food. So in she goes, and wouldn't you know it, there is a somewhat familiar face. And another Lost. This town is just full of them, it seems. It gives her pause, standing there at the hostess station, going completely still, and just watching the pair as she decides what it is she should do.
Chuck chuckles, nods, and turns the recorder on -- sadly, AFTER Kip's statement.
"Alright. Kip of newspaper fame, Haruki the magician. Thank you both for speaking with me. For the record, have you ever seen, or heard of anyone else seeing, columns of light or darkness extending up into the sky in this area?"
"Uhm, not really," Kip drawls out. In his tired state, more of his upstate New York accent tints his words, contrasting the usual Vermont twang that undertones true locals. "Though I'll be quite honest, I've been over in Boston a few times the past few months so haven't kept up on local happenings as much as I should. I know we've had odd weather things happen before. Dark spots in the daytime, but that's from odd cloud covers or something. I'm not a meteorologist so you'd have to talk to them to get the true story behind that stuff. But I think Russia or somewhere had some pretty crazy Northern lights going on or something."
Kip helpfully adds a quick, "I think I have some books on weather in the area if you want to come by the shop and browse."
Haruki nods at this. "Yes. But people say all sorts of weird things and I haven't seen anything myself. And if you were interested in gossip, which it was, well really Enid knows it all." And then spotting Lilith he waves over at her. "We have a reporter from the Vermont Globe. He's investigating the weather. Weird weather. Have you seen any?"
Lilith's making her way over slowly when she's waved at, and that has her forcing a smile onto her face, and offering out a little wave in return. She doesn't like coincidences it seems, but it doesn't stop her from joining the trio, "Everything is weird here." she says as she takes a seat without asking, her hands folding on the table in front of her, her eyes locking onto the reporter, staring at him, "The weather included. Though, since it's always weird, does that mean it's not weird, and just normal? Then maybe normal is really what's weird here..."
When Lilith approaches, the reporter flashes her a charming smile and extends a hand. "Chuck Wester, from the Globe, as Mr. Haruki mentioned. I'm looking into the possibility of anomalous outbreaks in the western hemisphere, but from what these two gentlemen have said, I may be barking up the wrong tree. Local papers did mention a few references, and did point me to this town in particular as the source of it."
"I mean, we get weird lights here sometimes. But the /real/ story should be what a beautiful place this is in all the seasons, not just the summer tourist season," Kip ventures. Look at him, playing PR for the mayor's office or something. "We get enough weird press around here without adding light shows into it. Do you maybe want someone to take you around and introduce you to some of the local government? They'll happily supply facts and all that for your story." With a way too impish and bright smile, Kip glances away from the reporter and over to Haruki. "Right. Secret magic show. Forget I said anything." He almost laughs for a second and then nods a greeting to Lilith.
Haruki's phone buzzes and he pulls it out, checking the messages. "I need to dash, good luck though." He tries to hug Kip goodbye, never mind that he smells. "I hope you feel better." And then to the others. "See you" and he's dashing out.
Lilith is no stranger to people leaving abruptly when she arrives, so she pays it no mind, giving Haruki only a passing glance as he gets up and heads out. She turns her attention back to Kip and the Reporter then, listening to their little conversation, "I'm sure there are a great many people worth talking too. ANd I bet they would almost all say all kinds of different things. Weird things even." She's not the best secret keeper, it seems, maybe a bit too honest for her own good, "I would talk to as many people as you can. That's what I do, and I have learned a lot because of it." Isn't she helpful!?
The reporter, drinking off half of his coffee in one go, turns off the tape recorder and agrees, "The Mayor's next on my list. His secretary said as how he'd be in later this afternoon, so I reckon I'll try my luck down at the Town Hall." Chuck slides the tape recorder back into an inner pocket of his coat, then tosses back the rest of the coffee as he eases down from his seat by the counter and reaches for his hat. "Thank you kindly for your time, both of ya'll." With a tip of the hat, he settles it on his head and starts toward the door, whistling Katy Perry's "Firework" under his breath.