Sunday, February 1, 2015


It was Sunday. More than anything he could want in his conceivable lifetime, past or future, Archie Locke wanted some Advil. His head was killing him.

The night before, after weeks of incessant prodding, Lena had finally convinced Archie to pay a visit to the Giving Tree. Regrettably, Archie drank way too much. The cognitive emancipation was intoxicating, in both an emotional and biological sense. But alcohol's punishment afterwards threatened to erase all of its value.

Archie sat up out of bed and immediately regretted making such a decision. His brain screamed out in agony. For a minute Archie thought he would never be happy again.

It was decided, right then and there. Advil was Archie's one and only true love. He begrudgingly sat up from his bed and walked over to put his clothes on. After getting dressed in his severely impaired daze, he had to triple-check to make sure he didn't shove his feet through 2 cups of ramen instead of his shoes. Before leaving, he looked at his skateboard leaning against the wall. He nearly puked in his mouth at the thought of riding it.

While the snow had been successfully diminishing over the past week, the fountain in the center of the intersection was still frozen through. Upon looking around town, there weren't as many people out and about as usual. Perhaps the whole town had a rough night.

The door made a welcoming chirp when Archie entered K Roger's, and Archie went straight for the medicine aisle. He was looking through the different levels of pain killers when something caught his eye from over the aisle wall. He peered over and saw a woman facing away from him with light grey hair and a tan trench coat belted at the waist. He inhaled sharply. It couldn't be possible.

As the woman turned around to face him, Archie's reality seemed to implode. Archie was staring into the eyes of his mother. A doppelgänger of his mother would have been ever accurate, as the woman was exceedingly well kept to have been locked up in an asylum for years.

She said nothing. Archie could say nothing more. She dropped her items and swiftly exited the store, moving between customers like smoke.

He couldn't move. The rationality he once had lay in ruin within his mind. How long had his mother been out? Why hadn't she told him? Questions filled his brain and tears filled his eyes. He'd tried so hard to avoid thinking about his mother. Everything he'd fought so hard to forget had appeared before him with no warning.

He clutched the Advil and moved towards the counter. The time waiting in line mindlessly passed too fast. As he handed the cashier the Advil, he noticed a bottle of antifreeze that the store had set out for people that needed it during the storm.

Advil wouldn't solve Archie's problems. The antifreeze shone like nectar across the store. He grabbed it and fought against the urge to open it before ringing it up. The bottle felt natural in his hand.

As soon as he retrieved his receipt Archie rushed out of the store and tore off the lid of the antifreeze. He took a large inhale, and was immensely satisfied. It was just as he'd hoped. But the air was painfully cold. He eyed the fountain in the center of the intersection, a sculpture of ice. It didn't take many steps until he was standing right next to it. The beauty of the structure was overwhelming. Archie knew this would be a good place for closure.

He held up the bottle of antifreeze, and truly felt it. The usage warning labels were just unwanted advice. Archie knew what he wanted to do.

He turned over the bottle of antifreeze, and the liquid fell onto the ice. Within seconds, the entire structure was ablaze in a dazzling fireball. Archie felt the heat on his face, and for the first time since the meteor shower he felt full. Pyromania was immensely satisfying sometimes.

Potassium permanganate is a chemical compound commonly used in the treatment of water, and it reacts viciously when paired with glycerin. Glycerine happens to be a major ingredient in antifreeze. Water acts as a catalyst, quickening the already destructive reaction. Archie might call his stunt art.

Archie wasn't sure how long he'd been staring at the flames when a man jogged up and asked what had happened. Archie didn't explain. He just watched and smiled. The man watched for awhile, and talked about how something interesting finally happened. Neither of them felt the desire to call the fire department.

"Wanna get coffee?"


Sunday, January 25, 2015


It isn't every day that you wake up enveloped in smoke. So when Archie Locke opened his eyes at 3pm after a late night and saw only a grey blanket of smoke coating his field of vision, he wasn't quite sure how to react.

He took in a small, tentative whiff. The cloud definitely smelled of cannabis. He wasn't too fond of the smell, but he was just so warm in his bed that it was difficult to leave. After basking in the dank ambience for about as long as he could stand, he decided it might be best to leave the third floor and the rest of Dreamwood Terrace altogether. He got dressed in the fog and walked over to his dresser to grab his phone and contact Lena. He'd already missed 3 calls from the female. She'd never quite grasped the teenage concept of "sleeping in." "Please meet me outside. I need to escape weed." texted Archie, beginning to recover from his sleep daze only to begin developing an entirely different kind of daze altogether.

To Archie, drugs had always seemed like a great idea on paper. Loss of inhibitions, expansion of thinking, increase in sense of humor, etc. However, their addictive aspects made them vastly more unappealing than they were worth. Other kids in town Archie and Lena's age had started drinking and doing drugs from fairly young ages. It's not as if they were raised badly or anything, there just wasn't much else to do in town. The bull in the alleyway next to Terrace was a casual hang out spot, but Archie was never too interested in going. The teenagers of the alleyway would continue getting themselves addicted to harmful substances, and Archie would continue trying to care about anything as much as these kids cared unintentionally about drugs. Albert Camus might call it absurd.

It was absurdly cold outside. As Archie pushed through the front doors of the Terrace, cold wind bit into his cheeks. Hopefully Lena would meet him soon. She had a long walk to endure.

They met up around 3:30, and took a leisurely stroll around town. Archie mentioned how the entire third floor got hotboxed, and they spent quite a while determining how someone could come up with enough weed to hotbox an entire floor. They stopped by the library, where Archie picked up the books he needed for his philosophy class next semester at the community college. Lena picked up Cat's Cradle, insisting that it was Vonnegut's best work. They got dinner at O Harley's and discussed what they were going to do with the budding evening.

"Some people are hanging out over by the Giving Tree later tonight if you want to come. Or you can stay at home and read some of those philosophy books," said Lena. "I've heard Heidegger is a real sweet-talker."

"I don't know," replied Archie. "Is that the tree over by the asylum?"

"Yeah, I think so. Why?" Lena didn't understand, but then it clicked. "Archie, why are you so against seeing her? I'm sure she misses you."

"It's not that I don't think she misses me, Lena. I just think she needs some time to herself."

"You haven't seen your mother in six months. You've written to her a few times, but that's it. Don't you think it's time you pay her a visit? Or at least give up your fear of walking anywhere near the asylum?"

"I want to. I just don't want to be disappointed if she isn't better. You know?"

Lena's face grew longer. She stood up and moved to Archie's side of the booth. "I know. I just want you to be yourself again. You've been so different since she left."

She was right. Archie motioned for her to slide out of the booth. They both stood. "Wanna go look at the stars?" Archie asked.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

A Foreign Feeling

     It was a slow night at Jo-Anne's Ice Cream, but it would conclude with Archie Locke discovering the meaning of his life. Pretty important.

     However it was on this slow day, as Archie Locke leaned on the bar counter peoplewatching the mediocre crowd that populated the establishment, that he discovered that he lacked the capacity to care. About absolutely anything.

     He had nothing better to do than speculate about the layers of causality that came together to draw these particular customers to the restaurant at this particular time. It was 11:50. Jo-Anne's would soon close, and Archie would stay after to tend to the startling Mount Kill-a-man Jaro of dishes that had accumulated since Archie arrived at work. Unfortunately for Archie, as bus boy/register/scooper/superhero it was his job to do these dishes. Unfortunately for every other employee of the town's best bar, Archie couldn't care if he tried. It was becoming an issue.

     The customers were just beginning to filter out, and Archie's eyes were beginning to gain a fresh coat of glaze when his friend Lena walked in. The jingling of the bells on the door woke Archie up from his reductionist analysis of the wack style choices of the old man who sat outside at Jo-Anne's only bench. From this perspective, it was said that the senior citizen-chic of the man's wardrobe would equal nothing more than the sum of his white socks, Teva sandals, cargo vest, and bucket hat. But there was something more interesting about him. He was smoking a cigar that was unusually alluring. Archie noticed how the smoke curled through the air, dissipating randomly, with particles of smoke each going their own way. The motion of the grey cloud began to fill Archie's field of vision in the same way a pool of rain spreads across a sidewalk.

     "Lemme get a hard glass of water, please sir," Lena said.

     "I'll go ahead and start a tab for you, my fine young lady," replied Archie, shaking his head and responding to her bit reasonably quickly.

     Archie filled a tall glass of tantalizing non-filtered water and placed it on the counter.

     She took the water and began downing it. She took a breath and looked around. No one remained in the restaurant, besides America's Next Top Model in the corner. "Waddaya say you leave those dishes for morning staff and let's get out of here? There's supposed to be a meteor shower tonight."


     The two walked out of the ice cream shop (right after the fashionable old man) at an early 12:10 and began walking up Shellac Avenue to watch the meteor shower from the rooftop of Dreamwood Terrace.

     Immediately after leaving the ice cream shop Archie threw his coat on. Immediately after throwing his coat on, he ripped it off. It was an unusually warm night. But that didn't stop him from feeling emotionally frozen.

     "Lena, I realized today that I'm dead inside," he declared.

     "That's a little dramatic. Apathy is normal for an extremely out-of-the-closet intellectual such as yourself," replied Lena.

     "Yeah, but it's just so hard for me to be interested. Like, in anything."

     "You're pretty dedicated to the ensemble." Lena and Archie were in a musical ensemble that enjoyed playing chamber music with a punk twist. Perhaps more on that in a later post.

     "I guess you're right. Being dead sucks though."

     "I wouldn't know. I'm ecstatic about life." Lena held an emotionless expression as she spoke in a monotone. By this point the two had reached the doorstep of Dreamwood Terrace. They climbed the stairs to the rooftop, and laid down on the gravel. Smoke from the heaters and air conditioners on the roof rose to meet the smooth night sky. Lena and Archie continued their conversation for another hour.

     "I just feel as though there's nothing I can do to spice things up, you know?" mused Archie.

     "Shut up. It's starting." Lena was right. It was 1:35am when sharp streaks of light arced across the sky, cutting a path through the stars. Archie initially saw these meteoroid trails as the vaporization of the ice coating the surrounding meteors upon reentry. However, as the tails of fire collected among the starts, Archie's scientific knowledge seemed to dissolve against his sense of wonder. As the light from the shower shone through the blanket of smoke rising from Dreamwood Terrace, he began to truly appreciate the beauty of what he was seeing. The meteor shower wasn't some celestial event that he was required to enjoy as an intellectual. It was the beauty of the universe manifested in a visual form. It was something worth caring about.

     He shed a tear right before he heard screams coming from across town.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Stranger Things

     Archie Locke thought it might be a good time to consider the epistemological implications behind Aristotle's claim for preconceived knowledge just before he walked right into a large wooden door.
     "Oh no! I'm so sorry! Are you okay?" said the startled woman as she closed the door of unit 37B of Dreamwood Terrace.
     "I'm fine, I'm fine," said Archie. Even though he'd probably done something medically discouraged to his nose, it was true; even getting hit in the face with a large object couldn't stop him from thinking. It was only when he glanced down at his watch and noticed that he needed to be at the City Community College auditorium in 5 minutes that he decided to hold his thoughts for later. He threw a farewell smile at the woman still staring worriedly at him, hastily picked up his skateboard, and began sprinting down the hall.
     Each floor of the Dreamwood Terrace apartment building was laid out remarkably similar to a Cartesian coordinate grid, so one only required the volume of each unit in order to calculate the length from any given front door to the front entrance of the building. It typically took Archie around 3 minutes and 34 seconds to dash from his apartment (31A) to the front entrance. He'd figured this out approximately 3 years ago when he was 14, and he'd been using this knowledge ever since to calculate roughly how late he was going to be to literally every event he'd decided to attend. He was always late. It was just his way.
     Soon after he busted through the front entrance Archie threw his skateboard down on the street and hopped on, being careful to avoid the large pothole just outside. That thing seemed to never cease its growing.  The sun tucked itself behind a cloud of fog near the horizon, making the city vastly darker than it should have been. It was a damp, foggy evening in mid December, and the entire city was looking dreary.
     It wasn't long before Archie's wooden plank of a skateboard was going so fast down Shellac Avenue that he was getting speed wobbles. Against his better judgement, he checked his watch to see how late he was to the auditorium. The streetlights passing overhead cast an awful glare that made it impossible to read the watch's display. Archie could barely make out the number 7 before he noticed the glare get darker. And darker. When he could finally read the 7:00 on the watch face, he looked up to see streetlight after streetlight cutting out behind him. The dark of night was on his tail, determined to make this ride a real difficult one. As soon as it enveloped him the speed wobbles took over and he tumble-dried over and over on the pavement. When he got up he noticed that all the storefronts were completely black. The entire city seemed to be out.
     At least he didn't have a mother at home worrying about him. He decided to try walking.