Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Dark Days And Nights Of Bennie X

I'm so sick of just driving around with no place to go...no, I can't go back to that bar...it's too much effort to appear normal...I keep thinking they've figured it out and they're whispering behind my back...I need a place where I can hide...I don't want to go back to that fucking house, it swallows me up...But I'm so tired...wow, look at those people sitting around laughing and eating without a sin in the world to weigh them down...how can I sit among them...would they be angry if I saw a movie there...would I be shunned like OJ...ticket for one, please...I understand if you don't want to sell it to a killer like me...


"Come on in."

"You sure? I mean..."

"Yeah, I'm sure. Come on! Don't be silly."

"Well, you know. You just met me. You'll only want me to leave in the end."

"Come in!"

She grabbed him by the arm and pulled Bennie over the threshold. It was absolute heaven. To surrender to her gave a delicious feeling he hadn't felt in years. He wanted more of that. He wanted that for the rest of his life.

"I got some tequila shots. Only a couple, I know. You gotta drive, right?"

Without waiting for a response she stepped into the kitchen to prepare the shots. What a whirlwind ride! Bennie had forgotten himself inside the dark theater, movie magic working its wonder. He was so moved by the film he had to say something even to the point of striking up a conversation with a stranger. She lived within walking distance in this very upscale urban area. Good things like this weren't supposed to happen to him.

Bennie looked around the young lawyer's décor and immediately felt himself in foreign territory. Places like this only reminded him of how far he'd fallen in his own morose, paranoid abode. Fear's apprehension slowly inched silently towards his heart.

"You like living in this area?"

She arrived with the shot glasses. "I love it. My law degree is from SMU and I knew I wanted to live close by in uptown. This area feels alive."

"Yeah, SMU's not far. And they're building like crazy around here." Bennie tried to keep to impersonal, objective statements. Safer that way. But his sweaty palm taking the shot glass she gave him was a dead giveaway.

"What are you? An accountant?"

Shit! How'd she guess my previous life in finance? "I'm retired. Don't do much of anything."

"But you were an accountant, right?" Her sharp eyes twinkled with an inner knowledge.

Stop asking that question! "Sort of. I was in finance, you could say."

"I knew it! I can read people like that. Part of it is your slender build and part of it is your face. As a trial lawyer I'm always working on reading. Hope you don't mind."

"No, not at all." Bennie shifted uneasily in his chair.

"Bombs away!" She downed the shot. "I don't drink like I did in school. Gawd, I could put it away back then! It was all the pressure. And the sex! I was like a steam engine."

Bennie couldn't believe his ears. Her life path was something out of a book to him. She obviously came from wealth, knew what she wanted, and lived life as she pleased. That was allowed in this world??

"I can imagine," choked Bennie. The mere thought of being with her drove him over the edge, impossible to hide his feelings. How was this happening? Why now after all this time? What had he done to deserve this monumental turn of events?

"Tell you what," she teased. "I bought this new negligée and I want a guy's opinion. Do you mind?"

"God, no! I mean, sure. OK."

"Great, I'll be right back."

How did she not notice I just blew my stack? Her legs are to die for. If I see her in lingerie I'll lose all control. But she doesn't know me. She thinks I'm normal. I'm NOT normal. I just happened to forget who I was for a while. Shit, how do I get into these messes?

When she came back, Bennie's eyes about popped out. He couldn't have created a better picture. She twirled around to reveal a G-string back while the front barely held in her perky breasts. This was her life at this time. Still drinking and fucking but on her way to settling down. Bennie had seen girls like her at college but the thought of approaching one of those untouchable goddesses terrified him beyond belief. Now here he was pushing forty and one of those goddesses was parading around half naked in front of him, getting him drunk like a horny frat boy on a date.

How can this be?? Is she teasing me? "My, God. Somebody's going to be happy. Really, really happy. That's amazing."

"Thanks! It's very comfortable too. Mind if I keep it on?"

Dear God Jesus YES DO! "Uh, no. I don't mind. It looks great, really."

She was strong and beautiful and for some reason wanted him. Where had she been all his life? One encounter with a woman like that back in college would have altered his entire life path. He wouldn't have embezzled or shrinked away in shame from She who mattered most. Could it be he ruined his life for no reason??

What should I do? How can I possibly deserve this after what I've done? This is where I really pay. If I hadn't killed Her I could accept this gift and let it transform my life. Better late than never! But I gave up, holding onto my anger. I wish I could die.

She put her legs over his lap. "Mind rubbing my feet. Those heels were killer."

Bennie popped a boner, completely helpless, completely terrified. If only I hadn't killed...

Her feet were delicate and feminine. Bennie feared if he went any further lightening would surely strike him down. Every fiber of his being was convinced of this. He was stealing all over again, taking what he didn't deserve. Deceiving. That's the only way she'd of let him in the door.

"You don't really know me. I could be a psycho or something."

She felt the way he gratefully caressed her feet. It tickled Mira to think she was saving a life. She knew he needed a woman like she. It would alter his outlook on life forever. She'd had her share of young studs. He probably doesn't understand how he could be picked over them. But she was growing and to be able to give a gift like this meant more to her than the sport sex she'd experienced in school. Mira was on her way to becoming a woman.

"That's OK. I'll take my chances."

"No, really. You don't know anything about me. I could do all sorts of stuff."

"Like what?"

"I don't know. Something bad."

"Tell you what. Let's arm wrestle. If I win you have to do anything I say."

Shit! I should lose on purpose! "And if I win?"

"You still have to do anything I say." Mira smiled a fetching smile.

Somehow she was reading his mind; reading his soul; giving him everything he wanted and needed. But God could never be this merciful to a killer. Bennie must be punished. Yes, this was a test. He must punish himself now to show his remorse. God would be appeased then.

"Really, you don't know me." He moved her luscious legs off of him, never forgetting the smooth feel of this finest of fruit. "I should go. I'm a terrible person. The worst sort." Bennie stood up.

Mira had never felt the sting of rejection in her life. She wasn't full of herself but she knew what she had to offer and did not judge men. Unfortunately, Bennie decided to judge himself.

"You're kidding! I'm not afraid of you. I'm not afraid in the least little bit. Shut up and take off your clothes."

You're really testing me, God! This must be what good people deserve. Wish I was one of them! "OK, I'll go now. Thanks for the drinks and everything." Could you be any more lame?

Mira was incredulous. "You're leaving? You're fucking leaving? You think I'm sort of whore?"

"No. Just the opposite." Bennie ran for the door and stepped outside. He figured he was safe where she could not follow. But Mira did follow to the open doorway guiltlessly unashamed. A man passing by with his dog yelled out, "Hot damn!" - which made Bennie's shame on what he was missing burn all the more.

"You got a shitty life ahead of you, you know that? No one can be nice to you, is that it? Go home and hump your fist. I hope that gets you what you want. I just..." Mira stopped in exasperation.

Bennie only muttered as he slinked away. "See, I knew you'd want me to leave."

Mira had not known a pretzeled soul like Bennie's before. Her youthful ways came to an end that night, realizing not every person acts in their best interests. Though Bennie lived in tormented recrimination, this proved an invaluable lesson to her, completing her education, and enabling her to swim the shark infested waters of the legal profession. She went on to become a star litigator, strong and principled. Honoring what is precious is no game. She'd love to save the world, but settled for saving herself.

For Bennie, his life - now twice as miserable - ended that night. Never again would - or could - another moment ever matter during his time on this earth. He died to appease the gods. The picture of Mira framed in the doorway in her lingerie seared forever into his mind. He ejaculated to her memory wildly, but it diminished as his heart broke. Time had stopped for Bennie but in earth measure it had been six tortuous years from that night to this. He was fading into oblivion.

"At least there I can't steal anything or hurt anyone." Nor can I be of use to anyone...

Monday, October 05, 2015

In The Year Six Hundred Eighty Four

In the year six hundred eighty four
Another useless forgotten war;
No golden silver for the whore
Killing time calls begging more.

In forest deep, God has no ear
Bloody blades slay without fear;
Mother holds her child dear
No dead names remembered here.

In the river, bodies swell
When asked why, none will tell;
In nightly air, rot's stinking smell
Mankind's future passed to hell.

How dark the innocent sun
To spare the life of not even one;
In pyrrhic victory the day is won
But in the morn does sorrow come.

Floating above the battlefield cry
Instrumented angels in the sky
Record the screams of those who die
To give voice a thousand years nigh.

King weeps on encrusted throne
Desperate he to remain unknown;
Never dare speak words his own
Illusion be the devil's bone.

Dark world shuns the shining light
Trusting deeds plotted in the night;
Dreamless men must ever fight
Running from Love's mirror fright.

No written parchment of this day
Blood downstream slips away;
No decision made to stay
Till end of time be it this way


Sunday, October 04, 2015

Does Jesus Need A Kill List?

Attack Ordered By the American President

"This evening, Michelle and I will do what I know every parent
in America will do, which is hug our children a little tighter
and we'll tell them that we love them, and we'll remind each
other how deeply we love one another."

Some say mass shootings are bad. Some say they are necessary to survival. Most people say both depending on whether or not they are a part of condoning the shooting (Hi, Chris Matthews!). No matter. I got to thinking who would Jesus put on his Kill List. Judas? Pilate? Caesar? The elder rabbis? Of course, killing those people would not have changed his outcome. Assassination is only for short-sighted morons. I do realize that fact is way ahead of its time so we'll stick to the "pragmatic and practical" Kill Listers we have today.

While we bemoan mass shootings here at home (because it might kill one of us!) with much posed consternation and scripted outcry, but really, who gives a shit? Stuff happens! Most people who say they want a gun for protection only want it to protect their own wrongdoing. Them folks is plumb scared for a reason. So the idea of ending our gun culture by mandate is a complete fantasy. Toothpaste is out of the tube. Born in the USA.

"Now, even as we learn how this happened and who's responsible,
we may never understand what leads anybody to terrorize their
fellow human beings like this. Such violence, such evil is
senseless. It's beyond reason."

Some people think our President is part of the problem as he too has his very own Kill List like any mass shooter. Defenders of the practice say: "It's OK for the President to pull names out of a hat and have that person - and everyone around him - blown to pieces without judge, jury or review. And we certainly think it's reasonable to expect our good and honorable emotionally disturbed and mentally ill citizens to understand that Kill Lists are only OK for certain people." Hey, we pay these people to lie to us for a reason!

Are we a society coming apart at the seems? If we stopped our mass killings around the world would we have a future? Does love require a gun? Our President sees the dead children from these shootings and asks, "Why?" He sees dead children next to an alleged enemy of the state and asks, "Why not?" Can one really have it both ways? With all our hand wringing and moralizing, in the end we simply profess ignorance and throw up our hands. "If only [something impossible] would happen we'd be fine." Hey, I'll believe you're moral if you believe I am!

"For the truth is none of us can know exactly what triggered
this vicious attack. None of us can know with any certainty
what might have stopped these shots from being fired, or what
thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man's mind."

Nothing liked mutually agreed upon morality to perpetuate killing. Of course, it takes a real radical to say all killing is bad. Perhaps only Jesus would say, "Go ahead and shoot, fucker" if someone pointed a gun at him even if offered a gun himself. Certainly, there is an amazing freedom in that stance. Not saying I could ever live up to that. But like the early Vulcans who sacrificed themselves in the struggle to obtain a logical existence, if enough people stick by their guns (so to speak) it does have a shaming effect that breeds ultimate civilization.

Civilization is something I won't see in my lifetime.

No matter how much we get on our hind legs and point in our holier than thou stance it doesn't mean beans in the end. How empty are our words when mass graves are found in Malaysia, victims of modern day slavery? We didn't shoot them, you say? No, but we turn a blind eye to it for our corporations. And when teenage children are chained to beds screaming in chain rape by our "allies", we punish anyone who might interfere with our so-called national interests. Not to mention cowardly drone strikes blowing families to bits. All these practices could be halted by our President. He does not and no one blinks an eye.

This is our first task -- caring for our children.
It's our first job. If we don't get that right, we don't
get anything right. That's how, as a society, we will be
judged. And by that measure, can we truly say, as a nation,
that we are meeting our obligations? Can we honestly say
that we're doing enough to keep our children -- all of them
-- safe from harm?"

We really can't have it both ways. When it comes to killing, in for a penny, in for a pound. You can't have it on your own terms. It's just a big game at this point with the FBI arming mentally ill people with guns and "plans for attack", then dropping the net how another terror plot got thwarted. We cheer on cue for our delusions. Only there is a connection between killing on the left hand and killing on the right. You don't have to see it - but we do have to live with it. Next time you see a senseless killing, just remember they all are - completely, totally and utterly.

"Let's be clear: At some point [just not on my watch!], we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries."

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Bennie X: Pain In The Brain, Interview With A Criminal

I'm not "one of them." That's been said about me more than once. I need no explanation of it. If you need one then, yes, you are one of them. Some people know. Some people don't want to know. Neither sees any use for the other (though only one can be right). Bennie X said those exact words to me years ago. As I've committed the greatest of all sins, what anyone else has to confess to me does not induce shrieks of shock. Oftentimes I have to feign shock since that's what the listener expects - and because they usually are wholly unsuspecting of my far, far greater criminality.

Bennie picked up on this right away. As an unconvicted murderer he'd been forced to face things about himself most people do not. He very quickly separates people into different categories of trust. He needs to tell the world what he cannot tell. There remains much unspoken between us. Bennie doesn't tell me he separates people into groups, I simply observe it. Nor has he asked me of my crime, he simply knows one when he sees one. I've heard military people tell me they can spot another person whose been in the military. Same thing with criminals.

Oh, if only you knew how much I see with every passing word or silence! (I try to turn this off for most social occasions - what few I have anyway.)

Bennie told me he was "the worst kind of killer", one who had "pain in the brain." He wasn't a killer by disposition. He'd betrayed his better instincts through a force of "iron will" that damaged him horribly. The minute he said "iron will" a picture on an iron cross flashed before my eyes. He'd divorced from reason becoming a detached mental entity. That was the only way he could pull off the killing.

Bennie has spent years trying to re-attach but to no avail. He's read books on self-forgiveness, tried prescription medication, psychiatrists, organics, you name it. Bottom line is he never got his self-trust back. That's a feeling I don't need explained to me. And that's what Bennie needs the most: someone who needs no explanations. I'm a part of nothing just as he is. It's a rotten fucking club to belong to.

He invited me to share a bottle of saké. I didn't want to hang out with Bennie for the same reason no one else wants to hang out with him but I said yes. No one wants to hang out with my loser ass, either. This has been made painfully clear to me. But forcing myself to do something against my will - just as Bennie had done to himself in his killings - gave me a pain in the brain too. Loneliness or criminality, not much of a choice that night. Many are the people I miss.

Bennie's got this pretty cool townhouse in north Dallas - or it would be cool if Bennie didn't live there. He tiled it up with these large dark slags in shades of brown throughout the place even into his bedroom and the tile in the shower. I call it the "Godfather 2" house with its foreboding and somewhat sinister aura. To make matters worse, we sat in this dank little man cave area while the TV blasts and the lights are on in the main living room "as a diversion." Yeah, it's like that.

I have to sip the Sho Chiku Bai saké at first as I'm not a hard drinker. After a bit you get loosened up and the taste - and Bennie - become more palatable. Still, I felt dirty and shitty regardless. But what the hell. How am I ever not going to feel that way? I'll tolerate the brain pain long as I can later flee the repression to breathe again. No matter how I rationalized it, though, I felt stupid. I wasn't spending my time as I pleased - but I hadn't planned to do that anyway.

"You know what makes a criminal a criminal, Harry?"

"A thousand different things, I suppose."

"No, No. I'm not talking about some kid stealing a guitar for his band or a father stealing food or a hooker making a living. I mean real criminals. The politicians, the corporate raiders, the assassins with badges, the phony marriages - people bent for life. People that hide."

"Well, I know the answer's not honesty."

"Hahaha! That's what I like about you. You always answer the right way. You never come right out and say anything. I like that."

The saké was kicking in. "Yup, that's why I get invited to all the best parties."

"Aw, forget that. I'm like that guy who said he wouldn't want to be a part of any party that'd accept him. Money, I got. Parties, never."

Bennie became preoccupied in his drink as I sprouted hope he was not going to make his grand criminal revelation, after all. See, I knew what he was really doing - which is what everybody does: use philosophy as a vehicle for self-confession. He can't bring himself to say, "Guess what made me a criminal." No he has to disguise it within a group. I had no fucking interest in hearing his tawdry personal details. It's like hearing about someone's sex interests. Who cares? That's only you.

"Oh, yeah. I know what I was gonna say. Bet you thought you were getting off the hook!"

It's worse when he tries to be charming. God, I'm an absolute idiot to be caught in this situation playing Father Confessor.

"I'm just here for the saké, Bennie."

"Right you are again! Ol' Bennie's not worth the time. I'm going to die a criminal, I am. Yeppers, that's how I'm going to do and there's not nothing I can do about it."

I mused suggesting he could learn better grammar as a possible resolution but thought better of it. "Dyin' ain't all that fun."

"No, it's not. But I'm not the only one dying a criminal. It's like that movie where the guy puts on glasses and can see aliens corrupting us. But them without glasses can't see, can't understand what's going on. So how to do you say to them without glasses?"

I knew what he meant. Those who know, don't do. Those who do, don't know. In the course of self-examination he found criminals around the world, many delivering fiery speeches applauded by mindless masses. But how could someone like Bennie ever call them out when a criminal himself? It would be like a Republican debate. Politically, it would be impossible. He continued.

"So you get to a point where you look back and ask why? I got money but I'm still doing time. A life sentence. I guess it really doesn't matter why. Just matters what you did. Damn, life is hard. Really, really hard."

"At least you're not a killer on minimum wage," I brightly surmised.

"Sarcastic son-of-a-bitch, aren't ya?...I guess you're right...I guess no one's got it easy."

"You can trust me on that one!"

"But then I found out why. I wasn't a criminal because I killed. I killed because I was a criminal. I was hiding and lying. I was desperate. I didn't want to be known!"

A criminal act

Suddenly, the whole world was in our room, ears pinned to the walls. We sat in thick silence under the spotlight. The sake made the lights vibrate like a Van Gogh painting.

"That's why I did the embezzling. I could have played it straight and ended up well into seven figures when I retired. But I couldn't play that game. I had to let them know I was smarter than them. I had to show them I wasn't being honest when talking with them. I wanted them to accept me. But how could they? I'd never had a friend before. I wasn't stealing money. I was asking for friendship."

I couldn't help but feel every word was being recorded to be used against us later - like on Judgment Day. Bennie was right, though. Everything we do is driven by love - or a lack thereof. I had to admire him for getting that far down the road. None of that was going to get him out of jail, however. Only getting a friend would do that.

"Then someone found out, didn't they?" That had always been my suspicion.

"Yes, she did. The one I liked most. The one I most wanted to be my friend. Why did it have to be her? At first I thought I was the luckiest man in the world my most favorite person working in my department. For someone like that to be my first friend, that was as unthinkable as winning the lottery. You want to believe, but you don't dare. I thought not believing made me honest with myself. She had a life. Everyone liked her. So naturally it had to be her the one with the brains to find me out. Fuck."

"So she poked around and caught your hidden malfeasance?"

"Uh, not exactly. Not exactly that. She was on the road..."

"You killed her before she even found out!"

"Looks that way." Bennie stared down into his drink pierced in pain. I decided not to push further. He pushed himself. "It was same time as the Iraq invasion. I was doing my own preemptive killing. I remember thinking everyone's doing it. Nobody seems to have a problem with it. I knew the invasion was an act of evil but what could I say when I was doing the same thing?"

"What if you'd just let nature take its course?"

"I call that letting nature take its curse. I tried to beat the curse but only made it worse. Just like that stupid invasion. I watch on TV the hell going on over there and I feel like I'm watching my whole life play out before my eyes. I feel responsible for the ruined lives of the refugees. How can I bring the dead back to the living?"

"You ever think that maybe when she found out she might have let you off the hook?"

"I did when it was too late. I kept imaging the moment. She'd have this look of disappointment. The light would go on and she'd wash her hands of me. Not much I could do to argue with that. It hit me later maybe I didn't give her enough credit. Nothing scares me more than that thought. I just couldn't stand the idea of her hating me."

The saké spoke next. "Bet she really hates you now!"

Daggers flew out his eyes for a moment and I thought maybe I'd gone too far. Always comes a point where I go too far. Then Bennie's face softened.

"Shit. You're right..."

Next there's this pregnant pause big enough to birth an elephant. Do I leave now? As usual, the most inappropriate thoughts run through my head. I imagine myself ducking and hiding and weaving behind the furniture making a tactical retreat out the door like a paramilitary unit. I'd put some blackout on my face, exiting the enemy compound in my own SEAL team operation. I almost laughed at the absurdity but how would I explain my outburst? Yes, time was near to start breathing again!

"You know, this saké's finally starting to go down easy!"

Bennie ignored me. "Funny part is they found out anyway. Can ya believe that? But they didn't do anything. Couldn't. This VP would have lost his job if he didn't cover for me. The greatest con in America today is corporate executives. They aren't the best and brightest. They just feed off the people who really are. And, man, they'll do anything to keep that dance going. Cutthroat backstabbing like any pirate ship ever sailed. They've got this whole war on reality they're waging. One day it'll catch up to them. Can't fucking wait."

"Me neither!"

"So you get what I'm saying, don't ya?"

Oh, Jesus! Didn't know there was going to be a pop quiz! I had to pull out of the haze or die - least that's what I thought at the time. Why the hell did I think it was life and death? Anyway, it was a pain in the ass but I managed a crystallization.

"Yeah. You're saying you're not a criminal because you killed. You're saying you killed because you were a criminal. That's how you let her know you were hiding stuff."

I felt like a kid standing up in class hoping to get the teacher's approval. Just torture. What's wrong with me sometimes??

"I knew you'd get it, Harry. You get it right down the line."

That triggered another inappropriate thought: So does that mean you have to kill me!? That's what I wanted to say, but you never feel free around Bennie. He didn't do what he wanted: neither could you.

"I've had all the drink I can handle, Bennie. You know I'm a lightweight. I gotta crash. Some of us have terrifyingly boring and humiliating jobs to go to."

"It's alright, man. I'm suddenly tired too."

"OK, thanks for the saké!" I was desperate to get out. People who don't forgive themselves are the most dangerous.

"Sure thing. Hey, we'll have to get together downtown sometime." So you can put a thirty eight caliber bullet through my head as a preventive measure of someone who got too close? "We can sit and watch the girls go by."

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

"For What Can I Fight?"

Atop Hakusan Mountain sits the lonely retreat of a monk. From here the monk feels the pulse of the land as a sailor feels the currents upon the seas. He can neither influence the tide nor the ship's direction, his is only to report from the crow's nest. But a communication breakdown has occurred in the island of Japan as she utterly disintegrates in the first half of the sixteenth century. It appears that the ceaseless struggles for power will leave the country in permanent chaos, vulnerable to invasion and to become a dreaded Chinese colony.

The curious samurai had traveled from the central Eastern provinces to seek the guidance of the monk whose notoriety had spread by those in the know. Masahide had made a similar pilgrimage in his youth only to be disappointed to find a man spouting mindless platitudes presented as wisdom. He thought he'd never trust another monk again. Yet here he was making this climb up the holy mountain. This time, he had to admit he felt something different even if it was just the eeriness of the mountain fog.

The physicality of the journey had been made all the more arduous by the conflict within. Masahide felt a headwind in every step, a hesitation in his stride. The constant questioning gave the feel of plunging forward through deep snow without snowshoes. Though having made even longer journeys in the past with ease this one left him exhausted and mentally broken. For a samurai, that is the worst possible state in which to be.

First sight of the hut removed his lingering doubts. Masahide did not know why that was but was experienced enough to accept his instincts. It's quite a step to claim oneself to be on a moral quest. "Who am I to do this? Am I not as foul as the next man? Am I not as full of worldly ambition?" For the first time he was to come face to face with those answers and this put more fear in him than any mortal enemy ever had. Something told him this was for bigger game.

Masahide received no reply to his tentative knock. Nothing about this is easy! He could turn back having never shown his face. Perhaps this was a sign to do so. You're only making a fool of yourself! Take this chance to run before it's too late. But he did not run. Instead, Masahide opened the door and peered inside to see a man sitting with legs folded before a fire. The man's focus could not be disturbed. Masahide felt no word he could bring forth would have any significance at that moment compared to the subject of the monk's concentration.


He was on his own to decide what to do. For a man seeking guidance that was the same as sitting naked on hot coals. Yet that is exactly what he did as he took a seat on the floor. As time passed and the closed eyes of the monk did not open, Masahide was forced to struggle with his demons. At times he was nearly driven from the hut in tortured agony from his inner arguments. He couldn't leave. He couldn't stay. He couldn't cry out for help. Time itself lost meaning.

Ironically enough, it was a platitude from the first monk that came back to him: "The finest wins come from surrender." That so infuriated Masahide at the time he stormed away at such an obviously ludicrous sentiment. But surrender he did, his questions washed away by an inner rain. It was the only possible way to remain in the silent hut. The battle of questions and answers would have to be forfeited.

"I'm glad you finally came," said the monk, knowing the moment of peace had arrived.

"You knew I was coming?"

"There are none so blind as those who see only with their eyes. You've been grappling with something for a long time. You debated if you should even make this pilgrimage. Your being is not whole, you have long lived in this state of conflict."

"All that is true."

"And now I must tell you I cannot give you the answers to your questions."

The samurai snorted in amazement. "You won't believe this but that's actually a relief. I feel more peaceful now than I have in ages. I feel free."

"That is because you were under the illusion I know something you do not. Part of you wanted to kill me for feeling you live at my mercy. Now you see there is nothing you can know that cannot be known."

"Were I to leave now with nothing more than that this journey will not have been wasted."

"We sit as one with nature. A few minutes ago you struggled with great effort to remain seated, but now no part of you wishes to rise from that spot. All eternity could pass first before you'd wish to leave."

"Again, that is true. The urge to remain here is overpowering and I do not seek to resist."

"That is the power of nature. We are Her servants to take such fruits as we wish. To fight Her is to starve."

"That seems so obvious now! I must ask to impose on your time, sensei. I know not for how long, but only as long as it takes for a leaf to fall from a branch."

"We shall wait together for that time and celebrate your departure as inevitable and in accordance with the universe."

The monk introduced the samurai to tea, a concoction of the gods. Masahide had heard good word spoken of tea but never had the chance to sample it before. While traveling there he wondered how any soul could live alone atop a mountain and not go mad. Now Masahide wondered how he'd ever force himself return to the "real world." Going from a state of disconnected to connected had brought order and balance to his world. He then started giving the answers he'd sought to seek.

"I'm sworn to my liege lord but I see no future for our clan. Stories across the land are of horror. The son kills the father. His brother then wants to kill him. We are a nation of infighters and that causes me great fear. The bakufu has delved into the same state of affairs. Our nation has no future on this path. Don't you see that too?"

"Our nation is on fire. But if a man were to look at only that he'd be lost. He could outwardly fight and win as commanded only to lose to the struggle within. You ask how can you serve your liege lord when so bedeviled."

"Exactly! It had not been clear before but that's exactly it. I do not wish to betray my lord but the confusion inside prevents my full service. I fear to think beyond that."

"But you already have. You foresee the end of your clan as stronger, more stable clans sense your weakness. With no central authority left to intercede you fear your life a fool's errand."

"It's true. Yet I have never said those words out loud."

"Those who dare listen can hear them well enough."

"Yes, I sense that too. I am not the most cunning in the clan despite my high position. I am most worried."

"And there are certainly those who would profit from your worry. They will use your doubts against you even at the expense of the clan. They seek only to ascend even if in the end it means the downfall of everyone."

"You understand everything so well! If only I could take you back with me to advise."

"I've only spoken what you've already surmised but refused to admit."

"Yes. I suppose so. But like you said, the land is on fire. I don't see the end game. A victory today is washed away tomorrow. For what can I fight?"

"More tea?"

"Hai, arigato gozaimasu."

The taste of the tea was exquisite. To taste this every day for the rest of his life would be certain victory, indeed. A victory!? Is he showing me a victory within that cannot be taken away? How true it is! And I also feel that continual victory however small leads to something more, to a real future. Am I dreaming?

"You are not dreaming. Fire can purify as well as destroy. Those who seek to harness the fire's power will be consumed by it. Many clans will be wiped clean from the face of the earth. Those who surrender to the higher cause will survive the fire - but only those. What you see as destruction is the beginning of the end of disorder and chaos. Yes, it will get worse before it gets better but in the end we will be one nation under one sword. And remember this also: in this world this is not the last of fire nor hopeless times such as these. Not every age is an age for song."

"I feel the hope! Maybe not in my lifetime, but I feel it. There's always a point to serving the greater good. I feel so ashamed for having given up. I hope you can forgive me, sensei." Masahide bowed deeply in supplication.

"I am not your Savior. The words you came to seek were already inside you."

"Ah, so ka." Masahide smiled. "May we blame it on the tea then, sensei?"

The monk returned the smile. "As you wish."


Hirate Masahide returned to the Oda clan in that year of 1542 where he helped command forces in the victorious battle of Azukizaka over the Imagawa. After his visit to the holy mount his reputation as an honest and earnest soul only increased. The very vital skills of negotiation and alliance in those turbulent times proved useful to the survival of the small but noted Oda clan. Six years later in the second battle of Azukizaka, the Oda clan was defeated by the Imagawa clan whose growth of its power base seemingly could not be stopped. But Masahide did not lose heart.

When Oda Nobuhide the clan leader died, his son Nobunaga took over. Nobunaga was singular in his approach and behavior, he having no room to entertain conventional norms. His vision he alone could see and his outwardly erratic behavior took its toll on Masahide. Masahide's faith was tested by this young upstart who battled with his brother for control of the clan. Perhaps the monk had been wrong. Perhaps the fire would consume the nation, after all.

To feel his life served no purpose - to have the rug of belief ripped out from underneath him - suffocated Masahide's soul. He simply could not live if he didn't feel he was serving the greater good. Loyal to the end, he hoped to salvage Nobunaga's errant ways with an act of seppuku, showing his despair for the future of the clan. He had no way of knowing Nobunaga's act was one of deception to keep his enemies off balance while he gathered strength.

Nevertheless, Nobunaga was touched by his highly respected retainer's suicide of remonstration. While already sensing the need to serve the greater good of unification, Masahide's act affirmed this belief beyond all doubt, Nobunaga carrying this in his heart until the day he died, his retainer's voice a pillar of inner strength (just as the monk's had been to Masahide). A temple was constructed to honor Masahide and his integrity, a reminder of a value the clan must hold dear if to attain ultimate victory.

Nobunaga went on to unify Japan as no one else before in history, destroying the Imagawa clan who numbered ten times his own. He knew his success was in surrendering to the guiding winds of destiny. As other clans floundered in pettiness, Oda rose to the top of the heap. The Way Of Tea also took over the country in the latter half of the 16th century as tea became more available. Its use as a tool for mediation both on personal and political levels gained momentum until becoming a national institution.

The name of the monk is lost to history but his stewardship is noted in the heavens. Unseen and un-noted, those who held fast to the underpinnings of truth provided the crucial bridge out of chaos to prevent Japan from being thrown to the wayside as happened to so many nations in world history. There will come a time when the monk's name is known again when final accounting is done as the undercurrents of love irrepressibly and forever surface.

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Karmic Salesman

At our custom car dealership, a hungry customer arrives to see his much anticipated jewel. I'm usually stuck in the back office coordinating the build, never interacting with the end customer. That's how I want it. No one wants to buy a car from me. But this one was already sold and I was just presenting it to the customer since everyone else was busy. Maybe I couldn't sell him on me but I know I could sell in an impersonal way the work done on the car that speaks for itself. For once, my attitude wouldn't come into play.

"Just look at the seats. Finest possible example of Italian leather complete with a letter from the tannery's owner vouching this to be his very best. Just rub your hand along the trim and tell me what you think."

"Amazing! Flawless! Never felt or seen anything like that before."

"20 coats of paint, hand rubbed just as you specified. Check out the depth of that shine."

"Staggering. Simply staggering. Looks like I could stick my hand in it it's so deep."

"Leading edge liquid titanium shocks, one of only three sets in the world. Specially mixed Formula One compound tires made just for you and can only be re-ordered by you. Literally, no one else in the world will have tires as grippy as yours. Had a hell of a time negotiating that!"

"Outstanding! This should be a beast on the track."

"Variable horsepower setting for either road or track for maximum drivability, custom coded chip just for this car."

"Can't wait to get behind the wheel!"

"Only the best materials have been used. Some of the best engineering is in places you can't see. The rustproofing and internal construction will provide an integrity beyond that of even a Rolls Royce. A car that will literally last a life time, maybe two."

"I have to admit this may be the finest example in the world. Couldn't ask for anything more. I am stunned."

I was in agony the entire time, on my best most false behavior, but it seemed I'd made it through. Whew! Just get the fucker out the door and he'll never know what a miserable human being I am, mission accomplished. "Great! Want to go into the office to make the final payment?"

"Tell me, who was it who put this all together to make it happen?"

Shit, last question I wanted to hear. "That was me. I coordinated the build on this."

"Really? Hmm. Well..."

"Well? Well what? Don't you think it's perfect in every way?"


"Then let's go finalize the transaction!!"

"I don't know..."

"What do you mean you don't know? You just said it was perfect! What's your problem?"

"You don't really make me feel good about this."

"It's not my freaking job to make you feel good! What does that have to do with anything? Don't you have a brain in your head? Just accept this car for what it is. It's everything they say it is!"

"What about you? Are you everything they say you are?"

"What does it matter who I am? Just look at the work I did and nothing else. That's all you should do."

"I know. Whatever. I just don't really want to."

"I'm not asking you to marry me or be friends with me or even eat a frickin' meal with me. Just maintain an objective attitude is what you're supposed to do!"

"Nah. Think I'll pass on that."

Motherfucker! This can't be happening to me! Wherever I go I can't escape myself. How am I supposed to get my whole life straight in the next 60 seconds so this guy won't back out on the deal? I thought I found a job where I could hide and not have to worry about my ultra-negativity. No one knows who's behind the keystrokes when ordering. No one even knows what kind of act I'm putting on when talking on the phone, holding my breath. This was supposed to be the perfect con. Fucked again, naturally.

The client starts edging to the exit door, my life evaporating before my eyes. Is this really all there is to life? Shit, get fucked, and die? I didn't know what to do but cry for help.

"Hey, wait!" I plead without a plan in my head, blind faith fear striking deep in my heart. Amazingly, he stopped, hearing something in my voice.

"Yes, what is it?"

I then glimpsed our top salesman at the other end of the showroom in keen conversation with a customer. I always feel good when around him, even I wanting to buy a car just to return the favor. Then inspiration hit me in the nick of time.

"Well, what if I told you that guy over there did it?'

"Julio? You mean Julio built it? Julio's cool!"

"Yeah, what if I told you Julio did it?"


OK, so life can be good on very rare occasions by the skin of your teeth with improbable providence stepping in at the last minute. But surely it can't be this good all of the time?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

GoodFellas Anniversary Party

It's been 25 years since the release of Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas. What Marty gives us is a fictionalized account of the life of Henry Hill. It's all about "living the life" and "being a big shot" and "not being the average guy" - or so it says. It's a slick and wonderful seduction and Marty ain't interested if he can't bend the truth. Once free of reality, a filmmaker can create any sort of fantasy he or she wishes. It just won't be relevant.

Do you really want to hang out with a bunch of losers like the Goodfellas gang? They were cheap and dirty and afraid. Don't believe it? Then go hit someone over the head with a hammer and see what it does to you inside. You'll only end up full of self-loathing and die in jail from cancer like Jimmy Burke, the De Niro character in the film. Here's a fun fact left out of the film: "Burke frequently liked to lock the young children of his victims in refrigerators." Throw in that cold water - and there's plenty more where that came from - and your movie is DOA.

Instead, we see wise-cracking high-livers with plenty of cash and a perverse pride in sociopathic behavior. They think they are rock'n'rollers (like in the very laughable A Bronx Tale), rebels living outside of society with their own rules. But it's just the opposite. They're a bunch of conservative cowards flinching in a prison of fear at any possible cross word. They have to have others think good things about them because they don't think it themselves. Who wants to live like that?

I jerked off in my jammies last night. You think that's funny?

Like a lot of creative endeavors, GoodFellas was done by parsing out the bad and filling in the blanks with a soothing lie to tie it all together. GoodFellas pretends to show the awful truth, posing what unpleasantness it contains as the whole truth. Scorsese knows if he did show their complete depravity he'd lose his audience who'd be muttering Good Riddance instead of GoodFellas. One has to imagine it wasn't Eric Clapton's epic love song "Layla" going through Jimmy Burke's mind while committing serial killings as portrayed in the film. But it certainly sells better and the director knows that once seduced the converted will defend the film's portrayal to the bitter end.

So in honor of Marty's landmark lie I made my own quickie video as a tribute. I channeled my inner Scorsese as I wondered how he'd treat the biggest gangsters of all time: the Nazi Party. He wouldn't detail the concentration camp commander who lost his prolific sex drive as he absorbed the realization of the atrocities, hollowing him out as a human being into agonizing desperation and depravity (Read some of the post war debriefing interviews for that and other stories of psychological destruction). Nah, he'd concentrate only on the "party" part, supplying them with a classic rock soundtrack and witty moments of hilarity.

Don't get me wrong, Martin Scorsese is a very highly skilled filmmaker. I loved The Color Of Money, I loved his part in Quiz Show and I certainly wish I had his talent at my disposal. Be that as it may, his proclivity for anything bent is a dead end street. There's far more to film in the starburst of truth than the black hole of the bent world. One only need look within.

Below you can view my un-masterpiece.