As is his way, Locke is dealing with his feelings in a mature manner: by getting REALLY drunk and signing karaoke. The song is, of course, Love on the Rocks by Neil Diamond.
I think this is the first Neil Diamond reference in Reckless Life but it's definitely not the last and if I end up continuing the series after these reruns there's gonna be even more. When series art editor Terry Haller and I were working for Harley-Davidson we listened to a LOT of Neil Diamond and it just kinda become part of the series. Stay tuned for an entire story arc based around a Neil Diamond record. Not kidding.
I like that Locke is drunk enough to think he's at the Crossroader and talking to Paulie. Or maybe he's just having fun. I'm going with the former seeing as he can't even remember song lyrics from the Muppet Movie.
Wrong finger on the way out there, Locke. Oh, 2003 Tim, you wholesome little scamp.
You didn't really think that was it for Paige, did you?
So here it is: the big reveal. Paige was planning to set Locke up and that's why she was skulking around the Crossroader and why she baited Locke in the first place but before she could Locke caught her. If you pay close attention to Locke's reactions on page 37 you can see where he figures it out and when he replies "I certainly am." to Paige's question: "Are we stupid enough?" he's not saying he's stupid enough for the job he's saying he's stupid for falling for her.
I'm not sure I agree with him there.
So from then on it's all "server protocol" this and magic heist plot rules that. (How did Paige get out?) Who cares? This is a love story and that stuff isn't important. If I were writing this today I might put a LITTLE more elbow grease into the heist details but it really isn't what's important here.
Paige claims she wasn't going to go through with the set up. Do you believe her? If you look back on page 45 there is evidence that she hesitated at the threshold of the vault. Was she just blown away by the giant pile of diamonds or was she really rethinking using Locke? I have my theory but the story doesn't tell you and your take is just as valid. I will say that there is no doubt that Paige does actually care about Locke. He, unfortunately, is not seeing that. (Yes, I really do care about my characters.)
Speaking of using Locke, his line "I'm not as dumb as you think." is, to me, a clear callback to his issues with Daniels in Mad at the World and Locke's general inferiority complex/need for acceptance.
Some have claimed that Locke sobers up real fast here and I'll defend that two ways:
This kind of conversation WILL sober you up a little
Locke is NOT sober all the sudden he's just gone from mopey drunk to angry drunk. Not the best place for him to be for this conversation.
Locke's issues with trust are also on full display here and that is definitely a vice he inherits from his creator. I re-read this story shortly after I got divorced and while some of this stuff was definitely the work of 2003 Tim some of it feels like it could have been written yesterday. The only difference is 2003 Tim didn't know he was writing himself here and I'm a bit more self aware.
We finally see Locke starting to soften a little here. If I could do this scene over again I'd up Locke's emotional fragility here by a lot. Paige is very openly showing how much this conversation is hurting her and there's no way Locke gets through this without crying too. I leave a lot ambiguous at the end of this one but just as I say above that there is no doubt that Paige cares about Locke, he cares about her too. A LOT. This conversation is breaking his heart but he's being written by a 20-something year old dude, who to his credit, hadn't experienced something like this yet and only had movies to draw from.
Locke's bit about wanting more than than a thrill is some vague action hero-ish way of saying he wanted a committed relationship not a fling and it doesn't quite land but, again, 2003 Tim is working with what he's got.
That last close-up of Paige is great and I love it. The tears have stopped and she's reached acceptance. What's next for her?
As usual, Locke was full of shit when he said he already had upped his security on page 53. I was hoping to get one little chuckle in before this one ends on a down note.
Also, it appears Locke is willing to kill to protect his home and heart now given his security is now lethal.
Locke is clearly running break-up protocol here. When I first drew this page Locke was wearing his usual outfit but I re-drew him as athleisure Locke. (Which surely would have been a popular action figure variant. Oh well.)
And as if 2003 Tim hadn't twisted the knife enough we end on a close up of that ridiculous mcguffin which is he is obviously keeping because it reminds him of Paige. *SOBSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS*
Thanks for reading this one along with me. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. As I mentioned at the top, this is really one of my favorite RL stories.
NEXT WEEK: Tears in your beers