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.


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