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Published:September 7th, 2009 17:13 EST
Samurai Don't Cry (part two)

Samurai Don't Cry (part two)

By Mark Frederic Jennings

    And so anyway. Just to catch you up real quick. This is more of that story, or chapter from my book about getting to know Jesus, that happened way back when I was still a very lowly sinner, as you`ll soon see. But at least, and the story shows I think, that He was even looking out for me way back then. Even though I didn`t know it. So let`s get back to the story.

    I made it over into Kensington on my bike, that area of San Diego where the Ken cinema is, and where too I was going to watch the samurai movies, by like four thirty or so. Which was fine. I had finished off the Kessler`s and coke in my sports bottle and was pretty buzzed, but not too bad. I`d just put in one of those small bottles of the whiskey, like a half pint or whatever they were. Plus too I`d bought an extra couple more to take in to the movies. They were so small you could just keep one in each pocket. I knew no one would even notice, and they would mix real good with a big coke from the concession stand, and viola... as those french guys say, Kessler`s and Coke on the rocks, as it were.

    I was gonna go to the early show that started at like five, so I slipped on over into this little park about a half block away and looked for a good secluded spot to smoke a bowl out of my little travel pipe. It was a little wooden smoking pipe I had back then, sort of coffin shaped, with a sliding lid you could open just a crack to get some flame into it, take a quick hit, and then slide the little lid back over the bowl to douse the cherry and let out as little smoke as possible. Then you had to hold the hit in for like forever so hardly any smoke would get out of your lungs too. It was like the secret agent setup, you know. For secret agent potheads, that is. But still probably everyone within like a quarter mile could smell the stuff anyway and didn`t care... but we didn`t know it at the time. Me and my other pothead friends that is. We thought we were sneaky.

    I got in some good hits though anyway, and then sat back in the little park and chilled. I`d just plopped my bike down next to me on the grass. There was nobody else around anyway, since it was a weeknight and all. And man, I gotta tell ya, that was livin`. At least for a twenty-one or twenty-two year old goofball college dropout like me. I told you I was pretty screwed up. Why Jesus ever came and got me I`ll never know. It`s funny too, because in the bible it says that those who Jesus saves were chosen before time even began. And I can believe that. Because if He knew how much I was gonna waste the first half of my life, He probably would have just let me go down the old cosmic drain, if you know what I mean. But that might also be why He then put me into my most recent career where I served the lowest of the low for twelve hours a night as a nurse. To make up for wasted time, I guess you could say. And like you can tell. I was good at wasting time back then.

    But so then, I locked my bike up on this little rack they had there and headed into the show. I got my big coke and found a good seat, which was like totally easy because the college kids weren`t there yet. They`d come in pretty soon, I knew. For the next show probably. The college kids and the older beat generation types, ex-hippies, and semi-losers like me. One time this guy even sat in the row in front of me, set a six pack of beer in the seat and cracked one open. The Ken was cool like that. But so, as maybe you can imagine, I had no problem just dumping another bottle of Kessler`s into the coke I`d just bought. I had some sips and let my buzz get used to the theatre environment. After a few minutes, I just like totally melted into my nice, soft theatre chair. I was ready. Ready for the show.

    But first they went through the trailers, one was a gay movie, then an artsy fartsy Swedish something or other movie where they show a snow bank for like ten minutes, an animated movie that looked pretty cool, and a rock and roll documentary that looked pretty cool too. That was the Ken too. Those kinda cool movies you couldn`t see anywhere else.

    Soon enough the samurai movie started. Rain. Sandaled feet running through muddy streets. Samurais yelling and swords flashing then blood spurting. Then the Japanese writing and the drums and sticks and flute music. All that. Really cool. So cool. Just something about it. And like I said, I loved how the samurai were like so brave and duty bound. Service to your lord, service unto death, all for your lord, bravely fight, bravely die if you had to, walk like a rock, straight and unswerving as the steel blade you wield, protecting the innocent, upholding the good, die for what is right. Man, that was the way to live, as far as I could figure. If you weren`t all screwed up like I was that is, I had to realize too.

    But what`s really cool is that now I know that`s how I`m supposed to live, as a true and good Christian that is, serving THE Lord, all except for the steel blade part, but I wear a steel cross, not to stick in your gut, but in your face and ay HEY! This is the way! Get Jesus!! And I know that no matter how screwed up I am, Jesus still wants me, and he`ll help me get unscrewed up. Or something like that.

    But back then it was just back to the movie, which I like totally enjoyed all the way through. Then I got up and went to the head, snuck a couple more pipe hits and headed back for the next movie. The second one wasn`t as good. It was a newer one in color and spiced up, not as true to the code and all that. It was okay though. Some guy got chopped in half. Man, you shoulda seen that. Then that was it though. So I headed out. Most of the other people stayed in. Now they`d show the first one over again. It wasn`t that good though, I figured. I knew I had a couple hour bike ride ahead of me anyway too. It was already like nine or something. So I decided I might as well get going.

    I was pretty buzzed too, but not too bad. I wasn`t seeing double or anything like that. It had mostly worn off by then. And I knew I`d be able to tell for sure anyway once I tried riding my bike. If I was too drunk I`d just fall over. You know. Ever try riding a bike when you`re drunk? Doesn`t work too good. Which I`d already decided if I couldn`t ride I`d just have to sleep in the park or something. If I had to. Or I could just maybe walk my bike home. When your drunk you think like that anyway. Like whatever.
    But I was okay, I realized once I was up and riding. I was staying up pretty good. So I took off and after the first block cut up a side street. I jumped up on the sidewalk just for the heck of it and BAM! I hit something, or did it hit me? There shouldn`t have been anything to hit, but all of a sudden I was on the ground.

    What the- I blurted out and then, Oh shiii- and you hopefully you can imagine what I said. That way I won`t have to repent again.

    Hey mother fuuu- and maybe you can imagine what he said too. Not that he would be repenting though. Because he was a gang member. Most likely anyway. I didn`t check his ID. But he had a shaved head and so did his three or four friends with him. They were Vatos, I knew. Mexican gang members, like they would have said on the news and everything. Like later after they held up a liquor store or whatever.

    Watch where your going homes... "

    Puta " "   

    Pinche maricon " " and that was some cussing from them " in Spanish. Which I wasn`t sure what it meant, but I did know it meant I was in trouble. From the ground, where I still was, I got to my hands and knees. Then, just as I was getting my bearings back I noticed out of the corner of my eye that a foot was coming at my head. I brought my arm up quick to block it and rolled away. The blow hit my arm hard and made me roll away even faster and farther. From there I then got up real quick. The old fight or flight reaction was starting in, I could tell, but not the fight part, if you know what I mean. My heart was beating like super fast and I could tell my legs were shaking too. But at least I was kind of far away from the gang members now, about ten to fifteen yards or so, and I just sort of stood there a moment. Not running away was about all the bravery I could muster. And in fact too, it felt like my legs were going to give out from beneath me any second.

    But so, all in all, all I could do was just sort of stand there doing this silly dance that kept my shaking legs under me just enough to keep me off the ground. I probably looked like a drunken chicken or something, I had to figure. And then the gang members pretty much confirmed my suspicion, calling me similar such names and laughing derisively. Not that I could blame them. I knew how stupid I must look and even laughed a little myself too, but only the kind of laughing you do to hopefully keep yourself from crying. That was mostly what I felt like doing.

But as the gang members continued to laugh it was now mixed with angry slurs and threats and I noticed too they seemed to be moving closer. I backed away slowly at first, still just doing my stupid dance and trying not to cry.

    Hey homes " where you going, " the biggest one said as he continued toward me. He also had my bike with him. This is a pretty nice bike essay. Don`t you want it " all you gotta do is come and get it " "
    No that`s okay, " I just sort of almost whispered at him. That was the best I could do.
    What`s that homes? I can`t hear you man " "   

    You can keep it, " I said, a little louder, and continued backing away. " just keep it, " I told him again, getting my voice back now because I had decided to just run for it.

     Or maybe I should say stagger for it. Which is really what I did. Or maybe half stagger and half ran, and as I did I could hear them behind me laughing again, uproariously now and saying all kinds of stuff. I just kept going though and made it back up to the corner and stopped, almost falling over. I knew I was safe here with the busy traffic on Adams avenue and lots of people too near the Ken and a bar and a coffee shop that were there in that block too.

    I bent over to catch my breath and quickly looked back to see if they were following. They weren`t. Instead they were going the other way, disappearing back into the shadows of their street. I got my last look at my bike. Then I even took a few steps back their way, getting a little courage, but my legs started shaking again, so badly now that I even looked like I was having a seizure or something. Or so I imagined.

    Holy crap, " was all I could say. I was part mad and part scared. More scared than mad though I guess. I didn`t know what I was really, but finally I just broke down and started crying. You know, the kinda crying where you`re blowing snot out your nose too. Yeah, the really ugly kind.

Looking back I know now I was having some sort of breakdown. Some samurai I would have made, was all I could think at the time too. I was a chicken. And a loser, a drunken pothead college dropout loser chicken. I even called myself all that out loud as I stumbled back up Adams avenue, cussing, mostly at myself, looking at everyone looking at me, the drunken pothead college dropout loser.

    Whaddya lookin` at, " I yelled up at them over and over again in between sobs, glancing up at the couples walking past me through the hair falling in my face. I don`t care, " I told them too, and I really didn`t. It was probably like the lowest point of my whole life. I really didn`t care. I felt like totally worthless. I didn`t care if I lived or died. And what timing too, I can say now, half-joking, but back then I was all too serious. Because just then my shaky stagger had taken me onto and about halfway across the Adams avenue overpass. I stopped and looked longingly over its like four foot high wall at the heavy and fast, freeway traffic about a hundred feet below.

    That would do just fine, I thought. It`d be pretty painless " probably. If I timed it right. I`d try to land on some stupid car and make sure I went head first so I`d spray my brains all over the place. That`d do just perfect I figured. And all there was in between me and painless nothingness was the little concrete wall that I could get over real easy. So easy. Just like this, I figured, and I even had one leg up when I heard this car screech its tires just behind me on Adams. I turned quick, mostly out of  reflex, and there was some homeless guy lying in the street where he must have just fallen down and some car had stopped just inches away from hitting him.

    Hey, " I yelled and got down and scrambled over to the homeless guy. The dork that had almost hit him was just sitting there in his car honking his horn, and as I helped the homeless guy up, now even another car had stopped behind the first car and was honking its horn too. Some people, was all I could think as I got the guy to his feet and helped him back to the sidewalk.

He thought it was all real funny though and laughed and laughed and even though I was still a little drunk, I could tell he was even drunker, way drunker, and he stank too, and his clothes were filthy, which is how I knew he was homeless after all, if you know what I mean.

    What`re you doing man, " I half-yelled at him.

    I gotta get home, " he said, but couldn`t really look at me.

    Where`s that, dude, " I said at him. " Where`s your home... you`re homeless anyway man... you`re gonna get hit by a car is what you`re gonna get, " I added in. He laughed some more. He was having a blast.

     Just over there, " he said and motioned across Adams and up the street a ways. I couldn`t tell exactly where he meant. All I could see were some buildings half hidden in the darkness over there. I knew I`d better help him though or he really would get hit by a car. So I got under his arm, saw a break in the traffic and together we staggered across the street. Together we staggered some more to the next corner where I asked him where to now.

He just laughed again and said, Up there, " motioning up the side street that ran off the boulevard from there. I was just glad we had gone, and would still be going, the opposite direction of those vatos. I was really glad about that. And glad too, I was starting to realize, that I hadn`t jumped off that overpass. Not that I was really going to, was I?

    Where, that church? " I had to ask him. That was all I could see up that way. First there was like some bank or something already closed, then a couple of houses I knew he didn`t live in, and then a church.

    Yeah, " he said and started moving his weight that way. I stayed under his arm just so he wouldn`t fall again, but luckily he was able to support most of his weight. We made it up to the church which was older in design with lots of brickwork and stuff. And I noticed too it had lights on inside coming through high stained-glass windows on its sides.

    I`ll go get someone, " I told him. But he grabbed me and stopped me.

    No, in the back, " he said and started off again toward the area behind the church and fell again, but luckily now on the lush and well-kept lawn surrounding the place. There I helped him up one more time and staggeringly we got around the church into the darkness behind it.

He broke away from me there and got behind these waist high and well-trimmed bushes that encircled an open area that he dropped down into. I caught up to see why. A perfect little park-like patch of grass spread out behind those bushes and all of it just beneath a huge and beautiful stain-glass window. He would be totally hidden there, I realized, wondering if this was where he always slept. He had said home " hadn`t he. Maybe this was his home.

    Before I could ask him though he was already out and quietly snoring. And not that I wanted to stay there all night or anything, but I did want to get a good look at the stained glass. And the grass looked real inviting too. And there was plenty of room, so I laid down a few feet from him.

    Above us the colorful image of Jesus and his angels in the window looked incredible, towering and beautiful, and I let it just soak into my mind overwrought with all the crap I`d just been through. It felt so good. It was like hypnotizing. Plus my buzz seemed to be coming back now that things had settled down. And they must have had some piped in music playing at the church too. I could hear it quietly coming from somewhere. It was awesome, just laying there like that. And after a while I started feeling better, still pretty crummy, but good enough to get up and start walking home. I wasn`t drunk enough to sleep there like my buddy anyway. I`d have to make it to my own home.

    Which I started doing then, making sure mostly I was headed in the opposite direction of those vatos. And luckily, though it would take me a little bit out of the way, I knew I could cut back later and still get back to my pad.

    But so, just like I did back then, reflecting on the events of the evening, and recounting them too like I did just now in this story, I can tell for sure it is definitely one more piece in that old puzzle the Lord is having me put together. Maybe not a pretty one, but definitely a piece. And as I take one last look at that piece I see myself walking home in the night, just a lost little kid really, thinking he was pretty much all alone, kind of scared, and sometimes wishing he was just dead, and all the time not knowing that Jesus and God and a whole host of heavenly angels walked with him, keeping him upright, keeping him going, and so no wonder I made it somehow. I used to wonder about that. But now like I said, no wonder. I`m just very thankful. Very very thankful.

Thank you Lord.

Samurai Don`t Cry