Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Great Power

The other night, I dreamt that I travel back to an old house to retrieve two hidden items. Someone had shown the hiding places to me years earlier, when I was a small child. A distant aunt that spends much of her time searching for the items now occupies the house. She was not home when I arrived, so I let myself in and immediately went to the hiding places.

The first item, an ancient wooden carving of two birds intertwined had been in plain view, concealed as part of a lamp. The second piece was a glowing golden stone, kept inside of a small wooden box, and hidden underneath one of the patio tiles. The tile was circular, and marked with a yin and yang symbol. One clockwise twist and it opened.

As I pulled the box from the hole, I saw my aunt returning home. She had a mean walk, short quick steps, and leaning forward for added momentum. She somehow knew that I had arrived, so she carried a concealed knife in her left hand, meant to stop me from taking her prize. She did not see me watching her from the patio, so once she was inside the house, out of my view, I quickly took the stone from the box and snuck away.

The two items were part of a three-piece set, that when joined would become an item of great power. I did not know what the power was, but I knew that in order to get the third piece, I had to first defeat a creature, a champion, inside of a large arena. To reach the arena, I had to travel across a desert. During my journey, I saw men hanging on crosses and surrounded by what appeared to be mounted soldiers. My view moved in close to the hanging man on the far right. He was very muscular and defiant as the soldiers taunted him. I did not stop. I had to move quickly because I knew my aunt had sent a group of bad men after me.

When I arrived at the arena, I saw the creature standing at the far end, comfortable and confident in its posture. In the past, it had slain many challengers. Still, I entered the arena. The creature resembled a man, except for the bright red hair that covered its body. It was also very intelligent, polite in how it spoke to me. It was invulnerable, except for a single weakness that no man had ever found, so it had no reason to fear me. It was willing to answer all of my questions, except what was its weakness. Curiously, it offered that I might learn its weakness by attending a class. I asked how long the class would take, and it said 3 days. That was too long, with the assailant so close behind me.

The creature allowed me to feel the strength of its arms, and the sharp wire-like coat of red that covered them.

“Do you want to dual now?” the creature asked me. If I had said “yes,” it would have attacked me immediately.

“No,” I said, and then left the arena.

I went to where I could take the class, hoping to get a crash course; but all I found was a 72-hour video. The video was very boring; monotone, and discussed all the things I did not want to hear. It explained -in detail- various fighting techniques, and then added that it would not work on the creature. It also kept saying how vicious and invulnerable the creature was.

With time running our, I decided to find the answer on my own. I left the room and went out into the city. I found the city populated by creatures just like the one inside the arena. They were going about there day just like normal people, playing in the park, going to work, and pushing baby strollers. I approached one of them, a teenager that was rollerblading. They were all supposed to be invulnerable, but I saw his right elbow dislocate. I shook the hand of another creature and again its elbow dislocated. It was a common flaw amongst them, and I thought I had found a clue to the champion’s weakness.

I went back to the arena and found the champion still polite. It allowed me to feel its strong arms again, but this time I was able to dislocate it, just like the others. Surprisingly, the creature did not seem to mind. It allowed me to continued inspecting. I was able to look inside its arms, where I looked desperately for a soft spot. I was poking and jabbing at it, politely, not to let on that I was trying to harm it; but it was no use. The creature, its bones and marrow, its cells, and even its blood were hard as stone. It would not even bleed.

Frustrated, I left the arena and continued my search. Later, in a conversation with a female creature, I learned that she did not like water, or to be touched by it. It gave me an idea to return to the arena, this time with hands dripping of water. When I did so, I found that it took away the champion’s strength and made its hard arms soft. I had found the third item, water – and the great power, courage.

I challenged the creature to a dual, and two-inches of water suddenly filled the arena. When the lord of the creatures realized that I had learned their weakness, he announced that he himself would dual with me. As he removed part of his armor, I realized that he was different from the others. He was larger, without the fur, very muscular, and resembled an Orc. I agreed, and then awoke.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Tin Soldier

How can the body, mind, or spirit soar without the other? It was supposed to be a happy occasion, news of my promotion, but I could not look him -the messenger- in the eyes. He smiled, but I knew that he was only studying me. I knew that if he stared too long into my eyes, he would see my unhappiness. I looked away, and I wondered if he noticed. I hoped that he would not look at me again, but he did. He kept trying to make eye contact, and I kept trying to pretend that I fit in. He kept congratulating me, but success means nothing to a fractured heart and spirit. I am the tin soldier that marches ever forward. Simple are my steps, and empty is my chest, except for this throbbing pain. I am nothing but accomplished goals strung together with no life in between.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Stained Glass Windows

I watched from across the room as the large, sweaty, black woman shouted out, “Yes Lord!” and then went into convulsions. Her hands and hair flew in the air as she danced and hopped out of control. Then she fainted into the arms of a nearby woman, who gently lowered her to the floor. Near the front, another woman shouted out as the Holy Ghost took over her body. It was Sunday morning in the Church of God and Christ, and slanted sunrays from the East warmly poured in through the tall narrow stain glass windows.

It was a small church, constructed of pine, with a tall white steeple on top. The church sat in the center of a large grassy field with gray gravel-stones bridging a narrow pathway from the street until the church’s main entrance. There was another entrance at the rear of the church, leading into a tiny kitchen, where the women sometimes prepare meals. Beyond the main entrance, an aisle began dividing two sections of hardwood pews and ended with the front row. People of all ages filled the pews, in darks suits and ties, and colorful dresses with hats that had flowers.

Big mama watched from the piano near the pulpit, though she could not play very well. She also could not carry a tune. Even as a child of five, I noticed it, how her voice stood out like a howling cat amidst hounds that sang in harmony. Still, she loved to sing loud.

The room was hot, and colorful handheld fans waved in the air that smelled of Wrigley's Spearmint gum. I sat with my back against a pew, feet dangling and sometimes alternately kicking in the air, as I studied patterns in the stained windows and daydreamed to the sound of big daddy preaching fire and brimstone from the pulpit. He was a quiet man, except when he stood there.

Big mama then called me to sing a solo in front of the congregation. I was too young to be embarrassed. “Deep, and wide,” I sang, rocking back and forth as smiling grownups looked on, “Deep, and wide!” they rocked with me, “There’s a fountain flowing deep and wide!” Another woman jumped out from the pews and went into convulsions as I finished my song with wide eyes.