Category Archives: Roosevelt (Archipelago)


(A/N: forgot to post this when I finished rewriting/reworking it from this in English190. According to Lucas, it’s still very much a snapshot, more like the setup to something more.)

Jay stood on his driveway, hands akimbo, staring at his car. Under normal circumstances, this summer afternoon would have disappeared into a haze of video games and internet poker, but his mom had kicked him out of the house with a sharp reminder to clean the car. Easier said than done—he’d been putting it off for the last three years, as long as he’d had it. Most previous attempts had ended with a trip through the car wash, where Jay skipped his chance at clean, lemon-scented carpets out of fear that he’d clog the place’s vacuums.

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US101: Careening

Kerri was a crazy driver—Derek had forgotten about that. He tried not to grip the passenger seat as they careened through traffic towards North Beach. Her liberal use of merging lanes and off-ramps for passing made it difficult to focus on conversation, but Kerri didn’t seem to notice and jabbered away in spite of Derek’s short answers.

“Meanwhile, Leo and Blair are dating,” she said, cutting off another baby blue Prius amid a chorus of honking. “They think they’ve been hiding it well, but it’s so obvious. Pretty much our entire graduating class knows about it—I mean, we were dying for those two beautiful people to get together, so how could we not know?”

Derek just nodded curtly, hands purposefully calm and lax on his knees. He couldn’t string together an opinion on this development in his best friend’s life, not in the jarring discomfort of this car.

“But that being said, really? Really, Leo? Dating Jay’s ex? I mean, sure, it’s been five years, but still… I guess that’s Blair’s problem, too. Not that she and Jay were ever going to last. You didn’t think they’d last either, did you?”

Derek shrugged noncommittally with his eyes still on the road. He took a deep breath. “Where are we going exactly?”

“One of the restaurants on the waterfront,” she answered. Glancing at him, she seemed to finally notice something was wrong. “Why?”

“Pull over. I’m going to drive.”

The Porcupine

(A/N: What I wrote today, based on the story seed “porcupine” from Seth. Currently incomplete and ends abruptly. I might continue/revise it later.)

I should have known from the barrage of emails and texts containing porcupine photos and videos that Jinx would soon drag me to the exotic pet shop to find a pet porcupine. I think I was hoping this would fizzle out like the whole mounted moose head obsession last month, and not end up like the snake debacle from high school, but when I found myself with my nose pressed to the glass of a porcupine display in the pet shop on 6th & Moraga, that sealed the deal. This was headed straight down the path towards another Banjo the boa constrictor.

I realized this. But let me tell you, porcupines are really hard to resist when you’re staring one in the beady eyes. They sort of bowled each other over to investigate my face as I leaned close to the cage. You kind of forget that they’re dangerous, compared to the hedgehog babies in the cage right next to them. They’re deceptively similar — a part of me hoped we would get them mixed up and end up with a hedgehog instead of a porcupine. But Jinx had done her research, and we would not be ending up with a harmless hedgehog, not today. She bustled around the shop with the owner, haggling over cage and feed prices. Sometimes I wonder why she even drags me along for these things when she clearly already decided exactly what she wants to do and how she’s going to do it. I didn’t really have a say in this whole production, but forget that, there were porcupines to pay attention to.

“So what do you think?” asked Jinx, returning to the porcupine display with a large cage under one arm and a basket full of other porcupine toys and furnishings. “Which one should we bring home?”

Which one? No, the question was supposed to be, Should we get one? I had to put an end to this, even if those cute little porcupines were yawning at me.

“Jinx. No. We are NOT getting a pet porcupine.”

She didn’t even bat an eye at my protest. She expected it. “But they’re so cute!”

That was her defense? The cuteness of porcupines? I glanced over at the cage again and had to admit that they were pretty cute. But the cuteness argument had been made for Banjo the Boa as well. This argument was about to go down in a familiar trajectory.

“They’re dangerous.”

“Only when they’re threatened!”

“How are we supposed to keep it from feeling threatened?”

“We’ll train it!”

I sighed, and rubbed my eyes with one hand. History was repeating itself, although last time I had Derek to back me up.

SFO: Welcome home

(A/N: today’s writing. Pretty terribly written, but I wasn’t sure where it was going for most of it. Some of the descriptions at the beginning aren’t half bad… the lack of overall coherence is just to be expected from a straight shot of writing…)

Derek stepped off the plane at San Francisco International Airport and took a deep breath of American air. He could still feel the haze of Bangkok pressing at his temples, but the epileptic memories were fading fast now that he was back on home soil.

He had one carry-on bag and no luggage. He breezed through Customs, keeping his answers short and to the point. Wasn’t this all a formality anyway? Someone, somewhere, saw his passport scanned into the system and instantly approved his passage into the United States. Derek silently thanked this unknown entity and shouldered his bag through the last gate.

Out in the civilian jumble that was the greeting area outside Customs, Derek paused to fish his cell phone out of the depths of his pack and turn it on. There were three people he needed to call: Lieutenant Evans, Leo, and Erica. Well actually, there were a hell of a lot more than three people he needed to call; it was imperative that he call those three. The welcome screen on his phone did a little song and dance, but before it finished searching for signal, he heard a voice behind him calling his name.

“Derek! I’m your ride—don’t call anybody! Derek!”

His heart skipped a beat—Erica? But he turned and found, not the girl he would classify as the love of his life, but Kerri skipping towards him. He barely had time to cover his disappointment and re-sling his bag before Kerri tackled him in a hug and nearly knocked him over.

“Oh my God!” she exhaled. “You’re finally back! I didn’t believe Evans at first when she sent me the orders.”

“Hi,” he laughed, staggering under her weight and trying to right himself without whacking her with his bag. Who knew one piece of luggage would suddenly become so cumbersome?

Kerri finally let him go and patted his cheeks in a mocking way. “You’re as tan as you were at the Academy. What’d you do, laze around in the sun all day?”

He smiled and shook his head. “Not exactly.” He took a step back to size her up. “You’re looking pretty tan yourself. Norcal’s been that sunny lately?”

“Nah, Mexico.” She hooked her arm in his and started directing them towards the elevator and LONG TERM PARKING signs. “Now before you ask, Erica’s doing well. But she doesn’t know you’re back yet—I’m the only Archipelago who knows, and Evans wanted it that way.” Before he could ask why, she continued. “A lot’s been going on since you left, and things aren’t exactly in great shape, socially. So you know what we’re going to do? We’re going to have a fancy dinner and talk until you’re all caught up.”

This idea set him off laughing—some part of him had hoped he would see Erica immediately and they would head off to a candlelit dinner, but instead he got Kerri and a long talk sanctioned by Lieutenant Evans. Kerri watched him laugh, politely confused as Kerri always looked when she didn’t know what was going on. Finally, Derek let out a long sigh and rolled his shoulders back. “Okay. Fancy dinner. But I don’t have anything to wear.”

Kerri scoffed. “You think Evans didn’t send you a nice tux for this whole production?”

They looked at each other and burst out laughing, relieved to be in the company of best friends.


(A/N: You know what’s hard? Describing female characters from a male’s perspective when you’re a female writer. You know what, describing characters that other characters find attractive is difficult in general. So here’s a scene from Roosevelt shortly after the Terrible Trio that makes a stab at not over-the-top character description. Originally written 1/16/10.)

“Who’s that?”

Derek and Leo glanced down to where Jay was pointing. A girl was approaching along the deck, carefully keeping her gaze fixed on a point in front of her, not looking up at them.

“Damn,” said Leo. “She is hot.”

Derek bit his lip at this proclamation. Better face it, he told himself. She is. The Erica he’d known was pretty – and he’d known her in the braces years – but three years had done a lot for her. He was taller than her now, but she’d grown a few inches and stopped slouching the way her mother hated. She dressed better now, too, although that would soon disappear when uniforms were required for classes on Monday. Maybe it was her professional tone around him, maybe it was the particular lilt of attitude in her walk now – or maybe it was just that he knew how her face could light up when she laughed. To him, she was no longer pretty; she was beautiful. But apparently to Jay and Leo, she was hot – and they hadn’t seen her in a swimsuit this morning.

Derek cleared his throat. “That’s Erica.”