Saturday, December 10, 2016

Tabula rasa

The fog was oppressive. It suffocated all light that tried to reach the small town and left everything shrouded in darkness. But Lucien was drawn to it, as evidenced by his decision to take a mid-afternoon stroll.

As he wandered down Carrier Avenue, he could see the silhouettes of people walking past; present, but far away enough that the fog reduced them to shadows. The fog seemed to muffle all noise, too, for when he reached Only Way Street, he didn’t hear the woman in red calling his name until she grabbed him forcefully on the shoulder.

“Mr. Marr!” she said. “Are you lost?”

He stopped, poised to remove her hand from his shoulder. “Not particularly,” he replied, irritated that she had disturbed the silence.

“You seem lost,” she whispered. Her eyes, which were made bigger by the round spectacles perched on her nose, peered into his. “Your mind, much like this town, is filled with fog. You think you know where you are going, but you do not. You are lost. Perhaps it is time to clear that fog.”

“No thank you, I’m doing just fine,” he said through gritted teeth. Relieving his shoulder of her tight grip, he strode into the park next to One Way Street, hoping to lose the woman in the fog. After only walking a short distance, he heard an old man call out his name.

“Go, boy, bring Lucien over to me, I must tell him something.”

Lucien paused as a young boy, whose mouth was covered with duct tape, emerged from the fog and gestured him to follow him. Cautiously, he did. When they reached a large oak tree, he saw an old man sitting in the grass beneath it.

“Ah, Lucien, there you are. I see you’ve met the woman in red. What was it that she told you?”

He answered, unsure of how the man knew this. “Something about my mind being filled with fog. I’m not quite sure what she meant, though.”

The old man let out a laugh. “Oh, Lucien, but aren’t you the best man alive at solving riddles?”

Lucien, sufficiently disturbed, began to run. He couldn’t see where he was going through the fog, but it didn’t matter; he just wanted to get as far away from the old man and the woman in red as possible.

When he reached Grave Street, he paused to catch his breath and get his bearings. Except he couldn’t breathe. The fog was so thick that it was like drowning; every breath was empty, and every cry for help was silent. Panicked, he stumbled through the fog into the graveyard, hoping to reach St. Cecilia’s church on the other side. Before he could, however, he felt himself fall.

Everything went black.

When he awoke some time later, he was lying on the ground, a paramedic shining a light into his eyes.

“Sir! Sir! Can you hear me?”

He let out a groan. What happened? Why are there so many flashing lights?

“Sir, what’s your name? Can you tell me your name?”

Yeah, my name is...wait. What’s my name? I have a name, but what is it? Why can’t I remember my name?!

“Sir, you had an accident. You fell and hit your head on a gravestone. Do you remember this?”

No, but that explains the pain. He slowly reached up and touched where he had hit his head. Bringing his hand in front of his eyes, he could see something running down his hand. Blood.

“Sir, I need you to respond! You may be concussed and we need to take you in to run some more tests!”

“Sir? Sir!”


Sunday, October 30, 2016

Rainbow Clothes

He only became aware of the problem when the washing machine didn’t fill up with water.

“What the-” he swore. “No water? Really? And I thought this town couldn’t get any worse.” The only other water sources were Rainbow River and the fishing pond, and he was not about to wash - no, soil - his clothes in such dirty water. Then, it clicked. The gas station. It sells bottled water. He left his clothes in the machine and sprinted out the door, hoping no one else had had the same idea.

A soft ringing signaled his entrance into the Exxon gas station. Dashing to the back where the drinks were sold, he was confronted with the sad image of a refrigerator stripped of its contents. Just like the town, there wasn’t a single drop of clean water.

There were only the river and pond left. A simple coin flip decided his fate. Rainbow River it is. After a couple minutes of searching, he found a bucket. Bucket in hand, he sprinted out of the gas station, eyes fixed on the chaos unfolding around him. People were rushing in all directions, either hauling full buckets of water back to their residences or trying to take back the water that had been stolen from them. Clothes were scattered everywhere from when people had dropped them. It was worse than when the power went out.

Despite the cool fall breeze, his shirt was already drenched in sweat. He’d have to wash that too. When he finally arrived at the river, he began scouting out a spot with the least amount of oil slick.

“Hey, can you help me?”

He turned around sharply. It was someone he had never seen before, although that honestly didn’t surprise him. “Who are you and what do you want?” he quipped.

“I’m Henry Johnson. I dropped my book in the river. It’s really important to me, but I can’t afford to get my clothes dirty.” He pointed to a small book floating amidst the sludge.

Who does this guy think he is? Asking me to retrieve his book for him like that. Lucien was about to say no and walk off, but Henry’s simultaneously distressed and hopeful expression made him consider otherwise.

Ugh, alright. I need to wash these clothes anyway, what’s the big deal. “Fine. I will. But you owe me one.” Wading into the murky water, he gingerly picked up the book. He could barely make out the title, it was so ruined.

“Here’s your book,” Lucien said, handing it to Henry.

“Oh my gosh, thank you!” he said, putting the book back into his pocket. “I’m so sorry about your clothes.”

Lucien looked down. His pants and shoes were soiled beyond repair, but no matter. “It’s fine. Don’t worry about it.”

When he arrived back at the Victorian, full bucket in hand, he went straight to the public washing machines to wash his clothes.

Except they weren’t there.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Silver Spoon

He awakens to a loud rapping at the door.

“Mr. Marr? Are you home?”

“Whoizit?” he groans groggily, rubbing the sleep and the alcohol from his eyes.

“Laura Andersen with Southern Living. Are you free to talk?”

It’s too early for this shit. What the hell does she want? Reluctantly, he drags himself out of bed and swings the door open. Before him stands a well-dressed, bespectacled reporter and her photographer.

“Sorry to bother you this morning, Mr. Marr. I’m with the magazine Southern Living and we’re doing a feature on this town and its residents. May I come in and ask you a few questions?”

Begrudgingly, he resigns himself to his fate and lets them enter. The reporter thanks him and begins surveying the apartment’s interior.

“Do you mind if we take pictures of your place?” she asks. “A person’s home is an extension of their personality.” Ms. Mathews always reminds us of that.

“Sure, I guess,” he mutters, grabbing a container of off-brand yogurt from the fridge and parking himself on a bar stool, hunched over.

“Excellent,” she exclaims. She begins asking Lucien questions: how long he’s been living in this small Southern town, what he does, who he knows.

He impulsively turns a silver coin over in his hand before responding. “I’ve been living here since college. I inherited this place and everything in it from my parents. I do odd jobs around town for money, but I don’t actually know anyone here that well.”

Furiously scribbling away in her notebook, she ambles around the room before plopping herself on the couch. Are there any cushions on this thing? She glances around the apartment again. It’s all...grey. Grey walls, grey furniture. Expensive, like that dusty crystal chandelier amidst it all...but grey. Yet nothing in here looks comfortable. Case in point, this couch. She’s wondering how to make this all sound good for the magazine when she’s suddenly jolted from her thoughts by a loud “Hey!”

“I didn’t say you could take pictures of me!”

“Sorry, sir, but Ms. Andersen wants candid photos of you for the magazine.”

“My apologies, Mr. Marr. It won’t happen again.” She gets up from the couch and glances over the photographer’s shoulder. It’s a nice shot of Lucien with a silver spoon of yogurt in his mouth. “That’ll work for the magazine.” She turns her attention back to him. “Could you elaborate more on how you got this apartment?”

“My parents,” he remarks, deadpan.

They’re obviously not very close, she thinks, running her finger through the thick layer of dust ringing an empty marble vase.

A loud buzzing breaks the silence. It’s Ms. Mathews, reminding the reporters they need to interview at least three residents or they’ll face severe consequences. Laura thanks Lucien for his time and leaves the apartment, hoping to catch a resident who hasn’t already been claimed.

As soon as she leaves, he locks the door and downs a glass of whiskey. It’s only 8:50, but so what? He flings the curtains shut (That damn photographer had to open them) and crawls back into bed, waiting for the day to end.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Cat’s Cradle

The early evening light shines through the musty air of Doug’s Bar, glinting off the facets of the tumblers lined in a row on the bar counter. It’s unsurprisingly quiet for a Tuesday and the only patron is Lucien, for whom happy hour lasts longer than usual. He asks the bartender for another drink just before extinguishing the fiery copper liquid in the glass in front of him.

“Rough day?” the bartender asks him.

“Isn’t it always?” he replies from behind a curtain of silvery hair.

The bartender chuckles in agreement as he pours him another round. Suddenly, a loud pop shatters the stiflingly tranquil atmosphere. The already dim lights flicker out and after a couple seconds of confusion, Lucien’s ringtone pierces the air.

“Hullo?” he asks.

A frail voice answers. “I’m sorry to bother you, Lucien, but that loud sound just now frightened the cats and they all bolted out the door. I’ve looked all over for them but they’re nowhere to be found. You’re already out and about, could you go look for them?”

Lucien stares at the untouched whiskey before asking, “How much?”

“For this? I’ll give you 60, 20 per cat. Just like last time.”


Languidly, he downs the drink in front of him and gets up from the bar stool.

“Leaving already?” the bartender asks in surprise.

“Only so that I can keep this business afloat,” he replies. “Just put the drinks on my tab. But I’ll be back soon.”

Stretching his legs, he saunters out onto the street. Unaware of the life and laughter around him, he wanders down 45th Street. Where could they be if theyre not at The Victorian? Probably near the old warehouse, or somewhere in Howell Park. He draws a silver coin from his breast pocket. Heads is the old warehouse, tails is Howell Park. The coin flips through the air, catching the last rays of the setting sun, before landing in his open palm. Heads. The old warehouse it is. Placing the coin back in its pocket, he heads for the warehouse, wondering if shell compensate him for interrupting his dinner.