Dragon Ash – Episode 1

DRAGON ASH – EPISODE ONE

Act. 1 – The Death of Sakuma Shozan

Act. 2 – Enter Tien Kaze

Act. 3 – A Heartbreaking Sight

By: Rock Kitaro

June 2, 2012

Press Play to here the theme song – “Fantasista” by Japanese band also called Dragon Ash

The Ronin

ACT 1 – The Death of Sakuma Shozan

“Oye! Oye! Oye! Ohayo Gozaimashita!” Was the common Japanese expression you’d hear from the countless venders and merchants set up along that massive market street. Anything any consumer could want was available on that market street. The year was 1864. The place was Osaka, Japan. It was still morning but the summer sun worked its magic. And despite the heat, citizens of all rank and class strolled the dirt road to check out what was on display.

Taking a break from selling his own cuisine of grilled eel, a middle-aged merchant named Nishiyama had his eyes locked on the lovely lady selling fresh fruit under a shading canopy. Cautiously shouldering his way through the wayward travelers and intimidating peasants, Nishiyama approached the voluptuous Mizu with confidant swagger.

Mizu was also in her middle ages, but looked deceptively young. Her problem was that she had too many suitors. Or rather, it was a problem only for other men. She knew she was blessed with good looks and a chest that could send sailors jumping overboard to reach her and she used it all to her advantage. From her first glance of Nishiyama, she already made up her mind that he wouldn’t get a taste, but it was early and she was bored. Naturally, she leaned over to rearrange her cantaloupes, revealing her cleavage and further sending Nishiyama down the inescapable hole of lust.

“Oye! Oye! Oye! Ohayo Gozaimashita!” Nishiyama greeted as he leaned casually on a wooden beam that held up the canopy.

“And good morning to you. Hmm….From the look of you, I take it you’re not here to buy some fresh melons for your daughter.” Mizu said in a welcoming tone as she slowly raised herself up from that leaning position, arching her back and accentuating that remarkable backend that was rare for most Japanese women, even amongst geishas.

Nishiyama smiled as he walked closer and reached for two melons. Mizu watched with slight amusement as Nishiyama massaged the coarse texture of the fruit, way too suggestive and obvious. Slowly becoming aware of what he was doing, Nishiyama backed away from the fruit and pulled himself together. Mizu couldn’t help but to cover her mouth and giggle. Having embarrassed himself enough for one day, Nishiyama instantly dropped the pursuit and switched back to that of a fellow respectful merchant.

“You should feel honored milady. Not everyday I come bearing offers of passionate nights and sweet dreams. But I came to pass a fair warning in case you haven’t heard.” Nishiyama told her.

Mizu grinned as she shifted her weight from one hip to the other. “Oh? And what should I be scared of?” Mizu asked.

Nishiyama raised an eyebrow. He’d figured with looks like that, she’d have at least one of her suitors pass word of the current events. But Mizu seemed to be clueless. He moved closer and whispered in a low tone so that only she could hear. “Everyone’s talking about it. Ever since the wolves of Mibu raided the Ikedaya, everyone think something big’s going to happen.” He told her.

Just then something down the street caught Mizu’s eye. She grinned with interested anticipation. “You don’t say…” She uttered, mainly to herself.

Nishiyama turned to see what had attracted her attention. At almost 300 paces away from their position, a small yet distinguishing convoy was traveling on the market street and heading their way. Seven Yagyu samurai were on foot surrounding their lord who was traveling on horseback. The convoy wasn’t obnoxious or anything like that. They weren’t pushing people out of their way or shouting for everyone to praise their lord’s name. But it was more so that people just recognized the elderly lord and out of respect, bowed their 90-degree bow and gratefully moved out of their way.

Now noticed how I mentioned “Yagyu” samurai. I feel this is important because they weren’t just any vintage of samurai. These guys were from an elite school that dated back for centuries. They couldn’t even posses the right to call themselves Yagyu swordsmen unless they could sever through two-feet of tree root with one swing. All of the seven Yagyus were in the prime of their lives. Each looked like they could wrestle a bear and live. And each wore lightweight matching black and purple kimonos.

The man they all swore their lives to protect was a respected high-ranking shogunate official. Sakuma Shozan was one of Japan’s most inspirational intellectuals, a peacekeeper who had on several occasions negotiated treaties between rival clans, preventing minor skirmishes and unnecessary deaths. Shozan was loved by many for his wise philosophies and the mentoring of several other famous Japanese leaders like Yoshida Shoin, Katsu Kaishu and Ryoma Sakamoto. He was also hated by many for his willingness to accept Western knowledge and influence.

At that time, Japan was on the verge of a political change. For the last 200 years, beginning with Ieyeasu Tokugawa, Japanese powers centralized under the shogun stationed in Edo, or modern day Tokyo. But ever since the arrival U.S.’s Commodore Perry’s “Black Ships” in 1854” a growing sentiment was beginning to divide the nation. You see, Japan was a nation who previously held a “closed door” towards other countries, all vying to explore the world and learn about different cultures. Many Japanese scholars stressed an isolationist mentality, fearing the US would take over the country should they be given any room to stretch their legs. So when shogun Tokugawa Iemochi “opened” Japan’s doors, many clans blamed him for being weak-kneed or bowing down to fear of foreign threats.

Thus, the country was politically divided. Imperialists were conniving for power to be transferred back to the emperor stationed in Kyoto. While loyal shogunate vassals defended to maintain their lord’s authority in Edo. Sakuma Shozan claimed to be on the fence, a neutral party in the political strife. However, due to his acceptance of Western influence, several hot-headed clansmen went ahead and put him in the same boat as the shogunate factions.

Now there they were on the streets of Osaka. Sakuma was high in class, but didn’t hesitate to smile and wave at passing peasants. His Yagyu were on guard, ready for everything should anything pop off. Then…just ahead of the convoy…amongst the wave of citizens flowing like a river on the market street…a lone ronin with his head covered in a shading straw jingasa (straw hat) stood out like a boulder in the stream. Sakuma lifted his ages brown eyes and saw him.

The lone ronin with his head covered was standing there as if he was oblivious to the thousands flocking the street. It was as if he was in his own world, taking in the steamy breeze and daydreaming about his own variation of paradise. He was a tall man with a rugged appearance. His clothes were old and brittle, suggesting he’d spent several nights sleeping under the stars where the mildew soaked into his kimono and dried to the heat. His right hand was down idle by his side. His left hand was resting on the long handle of his katana sword. His shoulders were squared, facing the convoy, and his head was tilted down so Sakuma couldn’t see his face. But his aura…the aura this lone ronin was emitting was enough to make Sakuma’s hair stand on end.

Shozan’s Yagyu samurai could feel that same foreboding aura. When they came to within thirty feet of the lone ronin, the convoy stopped. The Yagyu samurai all formed a line up front, squatted and put their hands on their sword handles for a moment’s draw should they need to. The pedestrian’s of Osaka had seen such signs before and quickly dispersed, clearing an area between the convoy and the ominous lone ronin. The volume of combobulated chatter amongst the merchants and consumers dimmed to a mild whisper. Despite all of this…despite the stage setting before the lone ronin, the mysterious swordsman still had his head tilted down, his face shrouded by the large round shaped jingasa.

With their patience growing thin, two Yagyu samurai’s step forward in preparation for a hasty sprint. “HALT!” Sakuma shouted with a raised hand. The two Yagyu’s obeyed and stood frozen in place.

Then for a moment, there was nothing. All you could hear was the slow trot of Sakuma Shozan’s horse hooves knocking on the hard sandy surface. The horse stopped just a few feet behind the two eager lead Yagyu’s. Sakuma wore a sincere yet bewildered look as he held out his hand in peace. “What’s your business, ronin?” Sakuma said loud enough for everyone sidelining the street to hear.

The ronin finally tilted his head up. The ronin had long shaggy hair that was tied to the back in a knot. He had a rugged beard that had not been trimmed in several days. And his eyes…He had large sharp piercing eyes, uncommon for a native Japanese. As soon as the ronin’s eyes connected with Shozan…the ronin leaned forward in a run stance squat and took off in a sprint as fast as he could toward the diplomat.

Startled by the ronin’s sudden burst in speed, Sakuma’s horse jerked back in an involuntary staggered motion. Before the disciplined minds of the two lead Yagyu’s could even register what was going on, the ronin had closed in on their position, drew his long katana and dragged the blade across both of their chests. Almost in synch with the spray of blood shooting forth from the samurai’s chest, the crowd of onlookers erupted in a panic, screaming for police and declaring murder.

Unable to stay on his wild horse with the dozens of pedestrians scurrying about, Sakuma was thrown off and landed hard on his hip, rendering him immobile. Dealing with a mix of outrage and stunning disbelief, the five remaining Yagyu’s drew their swords and ran for the lone ronin. “Wait! Do not engage!” Sakuma shouted out. But his loyal bodyguards couldn’t hear him over the chaos. Even if the Yagyus could hear Sakuma, with the panic rushing all around them and after witnessing the outclassed deaths of two of their comrades, their adrenaline was pumping to the max.

Almost as if he had anticipated everything to the fullest detail, the ronin was running backwards while still facing the pursuing five Yagyus. Even with his eyes on the Yagyus, the ronin was running the same speed as the Yagyus and going on blind faith that he didn’t trip or collide with anything or anyone. Then, within a blink of an eye, the ronin dug his wooden geta (sandal) into the ground and instantly stopped in midstride. The closest Yagyu to the ronin was completely surprised by the ronin’s juke. The ronin rushed forward, bent his knees slightly and slid his blade across the Yagyu’s stomach in a smooth horizontal swing.

Another Yagyu approached with a grunt. This Yagyu attempted an overhead top to bottom swing from the ronin’s left. The ronin deflected the Yagyu’s blade with such an aggressive force that the Yagyu was left unbalanced with only one leg stationed on the ground. Before the Yagyu could regain control, the ronin simply thrust his sword forward and stabbed the Yagyu in the ribs. A third Yagyu rushed for the ronin. The Yagyu’s crazed battlecry was what alerted the ronin of his approached. With both hands, the ronin pulled his sword out from one man’s ribs and swung it upward, slitting the neck of the oncoming third Yagyu.

The two remaining Yagyu stood petrified in place. They had just witnessed what took place. From the mind of any true martial artists… any rational-minded fighter…it was clear that the third Yagyu had the upper hand on the ronin. But the ronin’s speed…it was as fast as lightning. It was impossible to imitate. Ridiculous to even comprehend. There was no way any ordinary human being was capable of swinging a sword with such velocity that the blade could briefly become invisible. The ronin had his back facing them. In some twisted sense, it look as if the ronin was admiring how soaked his sword was with blood. The Yagyus could’ve rushed forward. But after witnessing what happened to that third one…Hesitation was understandable.

So there they were. Two Yagyu’s standing between the ronin and an injured Sakuma Shozan. True samurai…true warriors…the Yagyu’s abandoned their fears and mustered the courage to bring duty back to the forefront. They tightened their grips on the sweaty leather handles of their swords. It was already hot outside, but the blood rushing under their skin made the heat from the sun feel like a breezing fan.

The ronin finally stepped to turn around, slowly raising his wide demon eyes from the ground up to the Yagyus. After letting out a furious war cry, the Yagyu’s ran forward with their swords lunged back ready to strike. The ronin blinked. It was weird, but the Yagyus noticed him blinking. That simple blink seemed like an eternity for his eyelids to close and open up wide.

Just as the closest Yagyu raised his blade high into the air for a vicious downward swing, the ronin seemed to take only one step forward. With that one step, the ronin was able to lunge forward so fast that it seemed like he was flying. Before the Yagyus could move another muscle, the ronin was already standing in between them. In one swing, from right to left, the ronin slid the edge of his sword across the stomach of the Yagyu at his right, and raised it to slit the throat of the Yagyu at his left.

Writhing in pain, the two Yagyus collapsed to the ground. The flirtatious merchant and voluptuous fruit vender from before had witnessed the whole thing go down and were now watching as Sakuma Shozan used a wooden store beam to pull himself up. Mizu and Nishiyama were shaking in their sandals as terrified pedestrians were still trying to disperse from the area. From the moment Sakuma laid eyes on the ronin, less than a minute had passed before all of his bodyguards were dead. And now that he was on his feet, using a store’s front wooden support beam to balance himself, the ronin was slowly closing in. But it wasn’t his sword that Sakuma went for…One would think that in such a desperate hour, a man would go the closest tool he could use to defend himself. But instead of a weapon, it was a small package the size of a six-inch sub. The small package was covered in a velvety fabric pouch and Sakuma was holding it as if it were his last will and testimony.

Whilst leaning against the wooden beam, a sweating Sakuma looked at the ronin as if he wanted to chastise him…like a father who wanted to shout at his son for kicking over a can of paint on new tile flooring. Sakuma’s lips were shaking, his voice tried to utter something, but no syllable was enunciated. Without a hint of remorse, regret or repentance the ronin quickly lifted his sword and brought it down with a strong whistle through the air. Grunting from the open cut on his chest, Sakuma slowly slid down the wooden support beam to his knees. Mizu let out a loud high-pitched hair-raising scream as the ronin calmly returned his sword to the sheath that was strapped by his side.

The ronin suddenly looked coldly satisfied. The first sign of emotion her revealed. As if a deep resentful grudge had finally been settled, the ronin’s demonic glare turned to that of a civilized Japanese nationalist who was simply doing his duty. Just as the was about to turn and walk away, something caught his eye. Even on the edge of death, Sakuma was still holding onto the velvet pouch as if it were his ticket to heaven. The ronin quickly interpreted that Sakuma holding that pouch was his last grip of peace before death. Peace was the last thing the ronin wanted Sakuma to have. Robbing him of it was only natural considering the chain of events. So, stepping forward with a menacing snarl, the ronin reached down and yanked the pouch away. Sakuma’s desolate expression that followed was enough to make even the most sadistic executioner weep.

Sakuma had fallen face forward onto his belly. With his vision fading and thoroughly disgusted with the ronin’s lack of respect, Sakuma reached forward with his last bit of strength and grabbed the bottom end of the ronin’s kimono. The ronin stopped and turned around, ready and willing to draw his sword and put a few new holes in him.

“Wait…What is your name?” Sakuma struggled to ask.

Throughout the chaos of pedestrians shouting, it was a miracle that the ronin heard Sakuma. The ronin stood in place, reluctant and hesitant. And after thinking it through, the ronin thought it would be pointless if his victim didn’t even know who he was and why he’d go through such lengths to kill him.

The ronin squinted his eyes and spoke with firm conviction. “My name is Kawakami Gensai. My lord, Miyabi Teizo, awaits you in hell. You, and the rest of you shogunate dogs!” The ronin told him.

With that, Gensai kicked his kimono free from Sakuma’s grasps. With a calm disposition, Gensai accepted the consequences that he knew awaited him. He casually began to walk off down the street. Onlookers who saw the brutal slaying stood a safe distance while pointing at Gensai and calling him a murder. But none of that phased Gensai. He knew what he was. He knew what he came to do. And he did it. From that day forward, rumors of Kawakami Gensai spread as urban legend. A legendary swordsman, one of the four most ruthless assassins of the Bakumatsu era known as the hitokiri killers. Gensai was rumored to be a samurai with supernatural abilities who could move as fast as lightning. A brutal slaying in broad daylight with dozens of witnesses…

Kawakami Gensai’s name would go down in infamy.

Tien Kaze

ACT 2 – Enter Tien Kaze

Press Play to here the theme song – “Fantasista” by Japanese band also called Dragon Ash

Now then….Fast forward over a hundred years later. Allow me to bring you to a wonderful little town called Augusta, Georgia. The year was 2004. You remember that year, right? This was the year that hip hop was beginning to fade to a mixture of pop, ushered in by way of the Black Eye Peas and the wonderful works of Timbaland. It was the year Slipknot produced their last decent album, and Sum41 tried their hand with hard rock and metal.  Yeah, you got it.

Back in 2004, if you mentioned that you even resided in Georgia, most people from the outside looking in, automatically assumed you were part of the musical movement going down in Atlanta. People assumed that you were club goer, jammin to Usher and Lil Jon, krumpin and doin the Harlem shake. But Augusta is two hours away from Atlanta. And even though it’s the second largest city in the state, Augusta isn’t what you’d expect from a “city”. Augusta, Georgia was a place of endless dead trees. It was a place filled with middle to low income families who prioritized fashion and style over mall security or that dying car transmission. The demographics were mostly black and white. And when it came to stereotypes…I feel that most of the world’ most racists stereotypes came from some poor northerner visiting Augusta for its autumn tree colors and got more than they bargained for.

In the middle of September of 2004, I was an 11th grader at Skydust High school. Yeah, I know…the school sounds like it was named after a porn star. And porn wasn’t an uncommon theme with many of the festivities that went on throughout the school. That Wednesday morning began like every morning. I sat in the middle of the bus, dressed in a polished school uniform that consisted of a ironed dark blue slacks, a buttoned up tucked in white collar shirt and a lightweight matching dark blue blazer even though it was like 80 fucking degrees.

I had just woken up nearly forty-five minutes ago…I mean, it was in the morning for craps sake…but everyone else on the bus was wild and rowdy as if they just got out of the club and were heading for an after party. The black overweight bus driver was blasting a hip-hop station to the maximum volume. The students on the bus consisted of all grades since most families couldn’t afford second vehicles. And the bus was segregated. Sitting behind me in the back of the bus, was full of black boys and girls all dressed in expensive jerseys and oversized t-shirts. No one was sitting down. Everyone was bobbing and rocking to the beat of the song. Sitting in front of me were the white boys and girls. Most of the white guys were dressed in red flannel, blue jeans and Dixie outfitters, boldly representing that confederate flag, come what may. Even they were bobbing their heads to the song.

The only one who looked bored, miserable and irritated out of their skulls was me. My birthday wasn’t too long ago, so I had to have been seventeen at the time. Like I said, I was dressed in a suit as if I were attending a boarding school, but I was going to the same place everyone else was headed to. Why was I dressed like that? I’ll get into that later. But for now, let me introduce myself. The name is Tien Kaze. If I have to describe myself, I’d say that I had large, slanted, defiant brown eyes and short well groomed black hair combed to the back. I was close to six feet tall, thanks to my mother’s genes. And my skin had a rich olive complexion. I was physically fit and was especially proud of my cut abs. Like my grandpa always said…Every true martial artist has a good set of six packs.

Now don’t get me wrong…I wasn’t antisocial. I even liked the music and probably would’ve been dancing right along side everyone else. But it was half past seven in the morning…And even if I did start dancing, people would look at me funny. You see, when I said the bus was segregated…I meant it. There were no rules that said blacks have to hang out with blacks or whites have to hang out with whites, but that’s just what everyone preferred to do. And with me being the only Asian in all of Skydust High…Like I said…Not antisocial. Just stuck in the wrong city.

So I sat there…gazing helplessly out the window…daydreaming as I always did about the stories my Grandpa told me. When you’re stuck in a place where you don’t fit in…I think it was natural that I created a world where I’d fit right in at home. And I’m not afraid to admit it. Like those video games about historical Chinese and Japanese warriors where you get points for how many enemies you’d slay, I used to daydream about myself dressed up in clad battle armor and killing thousands with my sword. That’s not weird, is it?

Just then, I sensed an eerie feeling. I think it’s the same sense everyone feels but are crazy too admit…Probably because psychiatrists attribute it to paranoia. But I could sense someone staring at me. I stopped gazing at the dead trees that ran outside the window at my right and turned to my left. On the other side of the aisle, Shelly Walker was staring at me. I’ve known her since 5th grade. Blond bombshell who filled out early. She was smiling at me. I smiled back with a slight nod to say hello. And on cue, Patrick Colson, the guy she was sharing a seat with, put his arm around her. I’ve known Patrick since 5th grade as well. Both Shelly and Patrick were in the same grade as me. He was a muscular blue-eyed burly guy, always wearing some tight-fitting polo shirt. He pulled Shelly closer to him and planting a kiss on her forehead before shooting me a warning glare.

Not wanting a confrontation…I simply turned my gaze back to staring out the window at my right. Some onlookers sitting behind us started laughing at me. There was really no way to tell if they were laughing at me or not. But after someone shouted in a slang, country-ghetto accent, “Damn! Got that nigga in check!”… I knew they were referring to me.

Heading to first period. I walked the hallways by myself, surrounded by other students who looked at me like I was a little girl walking a back alley street at night. My professional looking attire amongst the baggy hip-hop orientated apparel of everyone else made me stand out. I was an upperclassman. But that didn’t matter. You couldn’t tell a freshmen from a senior because everyone looked like they were in their mid twenties.

Don’t get me wrong. If you can rap, smoke weed and don’t mind getting jumped or shot at…Augusta, Georgia is a great place to live. I looked to my left. On the corner of the hallway I saw a group of about fifteen black guys standing around. They were all wearing oversized blank white t-shirts. They weren’t even talking about anything. I mean, there was one guy making out with a girl who looked like she was just pulled out of a strip club. But everyone else was just standing there. Mean-mugging everyone who walked by…just waiting for something to pop off.

I looked to my right. On the other side of the hallway, there were the preps…the golf enthusiasts and weekend hunters. These were your white students all wearing Abercrombie and Fitch apparel and surrounded by the hottest girls in the school. Their country accents…Again. Don’t get me wrong. If you also like to hunt, play baseball, chew tobacco and hunt. You’d feel right at home in Augusta, Georgia.

I saw Patrick Colson and Shelly Walker amongst that group. And I made the mistake to get too close. Shelly was so fine with the well-toned figure and glowing tan skin. As I walked past her, I gave a quick lightning-fast glance into her big brown eyes. And in that split second, I could feel the temperature under my blazer heat up.

“BOO!” Patrick exclaimed as he jumped at me like he was about to punch my face in. I flinched hard…ridiculously making it obvious that I was on edge. Everyone erupted with laughter as I squatted down to pick up the book bag that I just dropped. It was so embarrassing. The kind of thing you couldn’t shake off without plunging your face in a sink full of iced water.

Trying to pull myself together, I hurried on to my locker. When I got there, a group of young freshmen girls were blocking it, talking about some new kid that they wanted to get with? I think that’s what they were talking about. And when I politely asked them to move, they laughed at my clothes, mentioned Bruce Lee and went on their way.

I shook my head and clenched my teeth as I began putting the combination in on my locker. It was early…but things weren’t looking up for me. The ridicule has happened every school day since moving to Georgia…but the amount of days in which I’ve actually had an active audience to witness my embarrassment, I’ve managed to reduce to less than forty a year.

While holding my rattling fingers steady enough to put in my locker combination, I felt the hard bulging shoulder of a football player ram into my back. The impact I made from hitting my locker caused an echoing metal clanging sound that gathered the attention of everyone in the vicinity. Another round of laughter ensued at my expense. I didn’t even feel like getting into my locker after that. Sucking in my lips and glaring with frustration, I put my book bag around my shoulder and squeezed my way through the audience of entertained students.

First period. AP World Geology. It was 8:30 in the morning and I was sitting in the front row. My teacher was giving this enthusiastic lecture about the ecosystem in the Mariana Trench…Like I’d ever go there. I was still festering from the morning’s obstacles. Too angry to concentrate. Too frustrated to daydream. I just sat there with my head propped up on the desk, gazing at the clock with unblinking corpse-like eyes. I was miserable. I hated my life. I hated that city. Everyday….It was just the same shit!

In the next period change, I decided to take the outside passageways to go to my next class. It was hot. I had my blazer off and swung over my shoulder. While most of your popular kids and cliques walked the hallways inside the building, the outcasts owned the stairways outside. And yes…even amongst the outcasts, I was an outcast. The Goth and emo boys and girls were all dressed in black in the burning sun. Yet, they were looking at me like I was the weird one. I knew most of them. The looks they were giving me weren’t because I was the only Asian in the school. The emos and Goths were afraid of me.

Everyone always talks about how Emos and Goths are the most likely to bring in a gun and shoot up the school. And there may be some truth to that. If you’re pushed over the edge, anything’s possible. I say that because most of those Emos and Goths have seen me when I was pushed over the edge.

Back in 6th grade, during a lunch period, I was carrying my lunch tray and heading toward my class’s assigned table. And when I sat down, it was then that I realized that I forgot to grab a carton of milk. So I ran back to go get one. When I came back, I realized that someone had stolen my hamburger. It was this freckled face bully named Bret who looked like he should’ve been a freshmen in high school. Everyone was afraid of him and he got away with everything. Except on that day. And not with me.

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was a small slender 6th grader and didn’t have the impressive physique I have today. I was angry. I was huffing and puffing hard. I stood behind Bret and shouted out loud. “Who stole my hamburger!?” I already knew who did it, but it would’ve looked bad if I just outright accused Bret preemptively.

But that bastard didn’t even deny it. “I did, you little turd!” Bret said as he stood up with the last bit of my hamburger in his hand. “What of it?” He asked.

Just then, Bret stuffed the last of my hamburger into his mouth. And it wasn’t even the fact that he was eating my lunch that bothered me. It was the look in his eye when he ate it. That grin and squinted eyes of sadistic pleasure. Like holding a knife to my throat and pushing it in. That’s how much it pissed me off and pushed me over the edge. I grabbed my ceramic tray that was on the table and swung it as hard as I could against the side of Bret’s head. Bret fell down, holding his throbbing head and crying. But I wasn’t satisfied. I threw punch after punch into his fat little chubby cheeks and it took three teachers to pull me off of him.

Back to present day 11th grade. That incident with Bret wasn’t that big a deal. Or it shouldn’t have been. In middle school everyone experienced at least one fight. But since he was the superintendant’s kid, word spread fast and people don’t forget nothin. I was the crazy Japanese kamikaze kid ever since. Yep. The whole football team was accused of gangbanging a cheerleader just three weeks ago, but I guess people forgot about that. As if that happens every other day.

On the far side of the cafeteria, I sat alone at an isolated table, eating my hamburger in peace and reading a book. “Yo Tien!” Someone was calling my name. It was a familiar voice, sitting just a couple of tables away. Probably the only person I could call my friend in the entire school. His name was Marcel Howard, a senior and my next door neighbor. Marcel was a black student, but not a stereotype. He was popular, handsome, a star player on the basketball team and won best couple with his girlfriend Ciara for three years straight.

“You alright?” Marcel asked me.

I smiled with a nod. “Yeah man. I’m fine. Don’t worry about me.” I told him.

Marcel laughed his socially humble laugh. “Alright then. You good.” Marcel said before going back to his conversation with Ciara and his own little clique.

Since he lived next door to me since I was little, we used to play basketball together in his driveway. He’s a caring guy, but only when it’s convenient for him. I guess that’s kind of how everyone is. No… The only true friend I’ve ever had in this world was my Grandpa Masa. He’s been teaching me shotoken karate since that incident with Bret…but lately…All I seemed to do was daydream about going to Japan and learning authentic martial arts. It’s just in my blood. Or maybe it was from the stories Grandpa told me about Japan. And maybe it was delusional on my part. But after living in Augusta Georgia for over seven years, I couldn’t help but feel like I was missing out. Or rather…I just didn’t belong there. In that city. In that time era.

The bus ride home was just like the bus ride going to the school in the morning. Everyone was loud and rowdy, dancing and singing along to the popular song blasting on the radio. Like earlier, I was sitting in the same seat by myself in the middle of the bus. It was a long day and with the way I felt, I honestly wouldn’t have had a problem if the bus ran into a ditch and barrel-rolled a couple of times. In fact I’d have probably preferred it.

Suddenly…through the noise of everyone singing to the chorus of a club anthem, I heard the whiny pitch of someone complaining. Rough-housing was a regular occurrence on the bus, but the voice sounded too familiar. Curiosity compelled me to throw a quick glance toward the back of the bus. In the last seat, behind the black students, Shelly Walker and Patrick Colson were seated. Only this time, Patrick was a bit more aggressive.

“Stop it! Let go of me, you ass!” Shelly shouted at him with genuine desperation.

Two of Patrick’s buddies were sitting right in front of them. They were watching and cheering Patrick on as he had his arms around Shelly’s waist and squeezing her. He began kissing her neck. One of his hands reached down the front of her pants. There were several other older, black students sitting in front of them. They saw the whole thing but kept to themselves, not wanting to get involved. Not because they just wanted to mind there own business. But Patrick was known for his need to hit people for the slightest offenses. Not to mention that Patrick’s friends kept mean mugging anyone who was staring, intimidating them to mind their own business.

“Owe! Stop it!” Shelly screamed. Even though I was facing forward, in my minds eyes, from the tone of the screech, I could see the look of agony in her face. I couldn’t ignore it. She was nothing to me. Just an acquaintance. But if I didn’t do something…who would?  Slowly, I turned around in my seat and looked all the way to the back. I saw her. I saw the look in her face. My imagination was spot on. It wasn’t anger, but sadness. The look of a wounded animal caught in a bear trap. It made my blood boil. My jaw clenched. My fists balled up. My wide glaring eyes were locked on Shelly. She wasn’t asking for my help. She didn’t even notice I was watching. But she was struggling. She wanted to break free.

“Hey! What the fuck are you looking at, Jet Li?” One of Patrick’s friends told me.

“Yeah, turn your monkey-ass around!” The other shouted.

I turned to look forward at the bus driver. That son of a bitch. He kept glancing up in his mirror. Yeah, he could see what was happening. And just like everyone else, the bus driver didn’t want to get involved. I was utterly disgusted.

“Owe! Please! Somebody help me!” Shelly continued to scream. Patrick was now biting her neck like a vampire.

With a deep sigh, I closed my eyes. I sucked in my lips and bit hard as I pulled myself up to stand in the middle aisle. The bus driver turned down the music. Everyone grew silent and was staring at me with comical expressions, like I must have been crazy. But it was different from earlier. Earlier when I had an audience, I was embarrassed. But now…I just didn’t give a damn what anyone thought of me.

One of Patrick’s friends stood up in his seat. “Sit down.” He told me with the gesturing of a finger point.

But I wasn’t hearing him. My eyes were focused on Patrick. I took my time to pop open the center buttons on my blazer jacket. There was going to be a fight and the first thing my grandpa taught me was that the first to lose focus was the first to go down. I began to make my way toward the back of the bus. Everyone watching began cheering. They were rooting for me and begging me to kick Patrick’s ass. How bout that…

Perhaps hearing the ruckus, Patrick stopped nibbling on Shelly’s neck and looked up to see me coming. “Oh you’ve got to be kidding.” Patrick said out loud.

Patrick let go of Shelly and pushed her into the empty seat on the other side of the aisle. I finally took off my jacket and dropped it on the floor. Patrick stood up and got in my face, all hot blooded and hormone pumped. His friends were standing up in the narrow seat at my right. It was three against one. They had size, intimidation and a superiority complex that had been handed down through the generations. Yeah, I was a little nervous. But I knew once we got started, my breathing would be controlled. My muscles wouldn’t rattle to the adrenaline. And as far as their numbers were concerned… Our space was limited so their numbers didn’t mean a damn thing to me.

“See something you like faggot?” Patrick growled less than an inch from my face.

My eyes rolled over to look at Shelly. She was a mess. Her beautiful blond hair was bunched up and tangled. Her mascara was smudged. I could see the trail of tears that ran from her brown eyes down her cheeks. The sight of it all sent an electrical charge down my spine and made my hair stand on end.

Without further adieu, I quickly lifted my leg and delivered a vicious shove kick into Patrick’s chest. He fell backward and his back connected hard with the fire escape door. Patrick’s two friends at my right began swinging wildly at me. I let them come out into the aisle to attack me. They threw a flurry of punches and grabs for my shirt but they didn’t stand a chance. Each time they tried to grab me, I gave a quick powerful swipe to knock their hands away. I focused in on each swing they tried and parried them with ease. Instead of punching which would require me to lean back and potentially leave an opening in my defense, I used my knees and elbows, simply turning my body and using the strength from my hips to beat them. After a barrage of coordinated elbows and knees to their bodies, Patrick’s friends collapsed back into their seats, holding their chest and abdomen with throbbing pain.

By then, Patrick had regained his footing and ran for me. I didn’t see him coming. He clocked me hard on the left side of my face just below the eye. I staggered back but used the back of the bus seats to keep me up. He then pulled my head down and put me into a guillotine headlock under his right armpit. I could feel the pressure in the back of my neck and Patrick was squeezing harder.

With a loud roar, I reached my arms around his legs, hooked them, lifted them off the ground and ran forward as fast as I could. Patrick’s back was once again slammed hard against the fire escape door and the top of my head was bleeding after connecting with the door handle. Patrick let go of me and threw a hard swing for my chin. I leaned back to evade the swing before throwing everything I had into a flurry of punches, all of which connected. I could feel my knuckles causing ripples in his muscles. It hurt to hit the bones in his face but it was worth it. I had a full day of tormenting that I needed to release and Patrick was my perfect target.

To finish it off, I propped myself up on the back of the seats and used them to lift both of my legs. Then as hard as I could, I drove my heels into Patrick’s chest. Patrick flew back into the fire escape door again. But this time the door gave way and Patrick went spiraling out of the back of the moving bus.

The bus driver saw what just happened. And in an attempt to cover his own ass, he slammed on the brakes. The sudden jolt in momentum sent me flying off my feet down the aisle. My head hurt from the impact and I was in a slight daze. As I began to pick myself back up, one of Patrick’s friends clocked me in the same place that Patrick hit me. I fell back down on the floor and the two friends commenced to stomping me out.

When the bus finally dropped me off, I did what I always did when I was pent up with Hulk-like rage but had no one to talk to. Entering my house through the front door, I dropped my book bag and blazer in the foyer, marched through the living room, and headed out the back door. My backyard was enclosed by a tall wooden fence so I had complete privacy. On the far side of the backyard, my dad had about two dozen tree stumps that we used to chop into firewood. I approached the wood with a heavy duty ax in hand. I set up a stump on a block. And I began to chop away.

My face twitched with anger as I brought the heavy blade down with each swing. My white shirt was filthy from the dirt of those bastard’s shoes. The sweat from my forehead burned into my eyes. But I kept chopping. Out of four stumps, I chopped sixteen logs small enough to fit into the fireplace, but the ax wasn’t doing it for me. I dropped it by the rest of the logs.

I was about to head inside but I still had too much energy. I began punching through midair, fantasizing it was Patrick’s face that I was swinging at. I began mixing in kicks with it. Sidekicks. Roundhouse kicks. Flying dragon kicks. I switched it up, throwing combinations and aerial variations. Recklessly putting my body in danger with a variety of cartwheels and back flips. And somehow, I found my way toward my dad’s shed in the corner of the backyard. I saw the long handle of a push broom that I used to play with when I was little. My skill with a staff was a gift. My grandfather didn’t teach it to me. I just knew what to do with it. I used to love the whistle it made as I made it spin over my head like a helicopter.

And while I would usually enjoy those kinds of practices, on that day, it brought me no satisfaction. For over two hours I practiced martial arts in my backyard, but the pain of burning anger was still there. I couldn’t shake it. I couldn’t let it go. It wasn’t fair. It was all bullshit! Those were just a few thoughts that swirled through my mind as I kneeled in the dirt and combed my fingers through my sweat-soaked black hair. I screamed as loud as I could. I was hopeless.

Within the next fifteen minutes I was in the shower. I just stood there and let the water bounced off of my chest. My expression was blank and I was staring off into space. After rinsing the soap off my body, I stepped out and wrapped a towel around my waist. I leaned over the sink and stared at myself. There was bruising below my left eye but it was hardly noticeable. As hard as those guys were hitting, it seemed as if they didn’t do so much damage. Either that or my skin was just impeccable.

After drying off and throwing on some comfortable clean shorts and a t-shirt…my temper began to fade down. I grabbed my coat and book bag from the living room and went into my own bedroom.  I wasn’t a neat freak, but I liked order. My room was clean. No cliché posters on the walls. No CDs or boom boxes in sight. Just a neatly folded full sized bed, an L-shaped desk in the corner of my room, a book shelf and a dresser.

I hung up my clothes and leaned my book bag against my desk before sprawling out on my bed. Myune, my cat entered. She was crying for attention and I wasn’t too proud to give it. I had no brothers. No sisters. I was just an only child with a lot of Asian girl cousins who lived in California. I had male cousin close to my age who lived in Tampa, Florida. But I couldn’t talk to that drunk about my problems. With all my anger issues, you would think that I really should talk to somebody, right? I could talk to my parents. Except…My parents were Jehovah’s Witnesses. That’s why I went to school dressed like I was out to sell insurance.

ACT 3 – A Heartbreaking Sight

Press Play to here the theme song – “Fantasista” by Japanese band also called Dragon Ash

At 7:30 that night, I accompanied my mother and father to the Kingdom Hall for book study. The congregation was packed with everyone dressed in their Sunday’s finest. Basically, book study was an hour and a half long meeting where several members (brothers and sisters within the congregation) read segments from publications written by other Jehovah Witnesses within the organization. I know what you’re thinking…And yes, they’re the same religious Christians who went door to door waking you up early on Saturday morning to preach to you.

“Ah kay. Now, what can we learn from Jobs experience with hardships from leprosy.”  The conductor said in front of the congregation from a podium on stage. He was speaking into a microphone and had a thick southern accent. After asking the question, several younger brothers in the congregation walked through the aisles carrying microphones. People in the audience had to raise their hands to answer. They were given the microphones and answered for all in the congregation to hear.

Yep. That’s how I’d spend my primetime hours after a long day of miserable alienation. Listening to repetitive lectures on forgiveness, love and a promise of everlasting life after this world is destroyed by the impending Armageddon. My parents weren’t always Jehovah Witnesses, but converted when we moved to Georgia in 1996. There was once a time when I was actually into that religion. But I stopped liking the religion when they did away with Christmas and told me I couldn’t practice karate with Grandpa anymore. Martial Arts was one of the only things on earth that brought me peace and when they told me I had to stop…I said, screw your religion. Not to their faces of course, but behind their backs.

They had no idea that my grandpa was still teaching me. But the thing that bothered me the most about my parents and their religion was their excuse for my behavior. If I did something wrong, it wasn’t me being myself. It was the bad influence from this corrupt world. Basically, to them, if I wasn’t acting like how they perceived a perfect Jehovah Witness should be, then I was being manipulated by world. I wasn’t an individual in their eyes. I was a servant of god.

To mask my daydreams during the meetings, I’d flip to any random page in the bible that was resting idly in my hands. My mother, Gail, had her hand behind my neck and rubbed it gently. I look to my left. The she was, smiling proudly, oblivious to the mild bruise below my eye. She was of German descent and in her mid forties but looked much younger. She was a beautiful tall woman with auburn hair and brown eyes that almost had a hint of red in them. Damn it…Why did they have to find religion during my time in their nest?

I then looked past my mother to the man on the other side of her. Robert Kaze, a second-generation Japanese in his mid forties. He was shorter than my mother but not noticeably. He had the distinguished looks of someone who was groomed their whole lives to be the head of a corporation. But actually, he was just a supervisor for a regional supermarket store. I loved both of my parents, but my father was a bit disappointing. He’s of samurai blood, but spoke against it and everything the samurai stood for. Don’t get me wrong, there’s no way in hell I’d commit seppuku or anything like that. But the samurai spirit shouldn’t be slighted. Made me so freakin sick. Just look at him.

Almost as if he could feel me staring at him, Robert turned to look at me. He gestured sternly for me to pay attention to the conductor. I nodded and went back to pretending to care what the elder on stage was talking about. It goes without saying; Dad doesn’t get along with Grandpa Masa. But I think its more so the other way around. How can you hold a conversation with someone who thinks your heritage is a blasphemy? I rolled my eyes at the thought. I don’t even…

The meeting ended at around 9:30 and everyone in the congregation were talking socially amongst themselves, shaking hands and saying hello. Keeping the appearance of someone who wanted to be there, I smiled in everyone’s face as I hurried toward the exit. Brother Jacobs stopped me. He was a middle-aged white male who’s known me since the days that I didn’t abhor going to the meetings. It wasn’t his fault that he couldn’t tell how much I couldn’t stand it now that I was seventeen.

“Great to see ya again, Tien!” Brother Jacobs greeted as I shook his extended hand.

I smiled politely. “It’s good to see you too, Brother Jacobs.”

He noticed the mild bruise on my face. “Whoa, what happened there?” He asked.

“Ah! You know. Work hard and play hard!” I told him with a thespian-like dramatic flare.

“I heard that!” He replied, completely unaware of my sarcasm.

“Hi, Tien. This is for you!” I turned around and looked down. Six-year-old Allyssa was standing behind me and holding up a lollipop. The youth… So precious and pure. It warmed my heart to see her smile and I graciously accepted it.

“Ah! Wow! Thank you Allyssa. Oh man! That’s just what I needed!” I told her with overexcited enthusiasm as I got down on one knee to give her a hug. Satisfied, Allyssa turned around and ran toward her group of friends, all young ladies just like her. They were all watching and giggling. It made me laugh. I couldn’t remember if I was ever so pure in heart and soul. I began to wonder if there was ever a time in my life when I didn’t feel like the whole world was against me.

“Did you learn a lot son?” Robert asked me. He, my mom and myself were finally heading back to the car outside the Kingdom Hall. Just the three of us. My family.

“Yes Sir. It was especially inspiring the way that Job endured those tribulations, and in the end was blessed with God’s love.” I told him with the utmost respect.

Robert nodded. “That’s life, Tien. That’s life. If you ever want to accomplish your goals and live in paradise, you have to endure those hardships. Those curve balls life throws at you. It’s a struggle that makes those blessings priceless.” He told me as he put his hand on my broad shoulders.

I was annoyed. I wanted to ask him, “But father, what if I don’t want to live in paradise? What if I want to live this life like it’s the only one I have left? What if I want to live this life as if it belongs to me and me alone?” But I knew asking him would open a floodgate of monotonous lectures that could go on all night. I wasn’t in the mood.

When I got home and entered my room, I hung up my jacket and took off my tie. I couldn’t wait to dive into one of my books about Japanese history to wash the mundane teachings from book study out of my head. I wasn’t bitter about the Witnesses. They’re by far the nicest most kindest people you’d ever meet. Which is why I sometimes worry about my parents. With the Witnesses, there is no gray area. You’re either with god and the Jehovah Witness organization or you’re with the world under Satan’s spell…Such a false dilemma fallacy is pathetic.

“Tien!! Tien come out here!” I heard my father shout with a thunderous roar.

My eyes grew wide with confusion. Such bass in his tone could only mean he was furious. But what for? I still had on my shoes on and shirt tucked in, but I hurried out my door and into the living room. There, I saw Robert on the phone and with a fixed fiery glare stationed on me. My mother was sitting down in a recliner with her arms folded. She was just as confused as I was…Well…She was just as confused as I was initially. There was only one possible reason my father could be on the phone and angry with me at that time of night. I rolled my eyes with frustration as I racked my brain for the right words to say. The right explanation to give.

“Uh huh. Alright. I understand. Oh don’t worry. He’s gonna be feeling the shame, everyday of the duration.” Robert said before hanging up the phone. He then just stood there with a sigh. I could tell his frustrations had boiled over and the good Christian within was suppressing the raw emotions he would’ve like to convey.

“What is it Robert?” My mother asked with concern.

“Tien… He’s suspended for a week from school. The members of the board are deciding on whether he should be permanently expelled.” Robert told my mother.

“What?! Why? What did you do?” My mother asked me.

With honest shame and lowered shoulders, I told them. “I got into a fight with a bully that rides my bus.”

Robert put his hands on his hips. “You kicked him out of a moving bus going forty miles per hour!” He shouted. My mother covered her mouth with shock.

“Is he going to be alright?” She asked.

“Dad! Mom! This guy was basically raping a girl in the back seat of the bus. What would you do?” I asked them.

“They have five witnesses saying that he was just teasing you. About your clothes, Tien.” Robert countered.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I was literally stunned. My mouth was opened wide and I clasped my fingers behind my head. “Oh! You can’t be serious? Well you don’t….You don’t believe that do you, dad? Please tell me you don’t believe that!” I asked him.

My father just stared at me with disappointment. His failure to answer, was an answer in my book. It made me smile at the absurdity of it all. “Is the boy alright?” My mother asked again.

“He only came out with minor scrapes. And thankfully, the family’s not pressing charges.” Robert told her.

“That’s it!” I shouted. “Some minor scrapes! And they’re not pressing charges? HA! Imagine that.”

“Alright now, you change that tone. You should feel fortunate that they’re not pressing charges.” My father told me.

“Tien. What do you have to say for yourself?” My mother asked me.

“Mom…Dad. You gotta believe me. Out of all things I’ve done, why would I lie about this? Do you think I’d be like…You know what, I think I’m gonna kick the first person who insults me off a moving bus today…Come on! I have more patience than that. I’m telling you, this guy had it coming.”

I tried my best to convince them. But they weren’t hearing me. My father was looking up to the ceiling like he was silently asking god where he went wrong. My mother was shaking her head at me like I was already in police handcuffs. Their lack of trust in me was more than upsetting. It was silence between us for half a minute.

“He was gonna rape that girl!” I said while clapping my hands and shouting as loud as I could.

Robert jumped to within an inch of my face. “Tien…We’ve have always taught you. God will punish your enemies. You are still a minor. What’s gonna happen when you get out in the real world? Are you gonna beat up everybody who picks on you?” He asked me.

It was hopeless. My anger and frustration brought tears to my eyes. I backed away from him because god knows I was this close to shoving him away. The fact that I was suspended…I couldn’t give a damn, I hated that school anyway. But my own parents… The fact that they didn’t believe me.. the fact that they’d even consider that I’d fight someone just because they were talking crap about me. It was such a childish notion. My parents must have really thought low of me. To be honest, I thought they would’ve been proud of me for standing up for someone else. But no…

“You know this is your father’s fault.” My mother told Robert which immediately made my eyes shoot wide open. “It was all of those weekends sending him to your father’s house. Teaching him kung fu and all of that violence. That’s why he’s acting out, Robert.” My mother told him.

“No! Please do NOT blame him. That man is the only friend I got!” I stressed.

“No…your mother’s right, Tien. All this time I’ve been allowing it. Us trying to teach you the ways of Jehovah, while your grandfather undermines us by teaching you martial arts and all these fairy tales about samurais and swords and dragons. He just keep kicking the legs right out from underneath us.” Robert told me.

My heart began to pound hard. I looked him sternly in the eye. “I know what I did, alright. I do. And you know what? If I could go back in time, I’d do it again. Yep. But this time I’d wait for the bus to go over some gravel or some train tracks. Then I’d kick him out. Might even rob him afterwards.” I said with a malicious grin.

“Tien! I don’t know what’s gotten into you!” My mother told me.

I rolled my eyes. “Yeah. Obviously.”

My father got in my face again with his eyes almost as red as mine. “You do not talk to your mother like that. Do you understand me, boy!” Robert told me as I began to laugh at loud. Again, I was backing away from him before I did something I’d regret.

My laughter must have only provoked him because his tone was getting more and more aggressive. “We have worked too hard! And sacrificed too much! You will give us the proper respect that we deserve!” Robert shouted.

By then, my patience had reached its limits. I was sick of that hand-me-down crap they were spittin at me. I glared at my father with my fists balled up. “You know what, man…Or what? Huh? Or else what? What are you gonna do?” I told him. My mother gasped as she rose from the recliner.

“Alright! That’s it! I’ve put up with as much as I can take. Starting tomorrow, I will personally work towards getting you officially disfellowshiped from the congregation.” Robert said. Again, his personal declaration of disciplining me caused me to rip with laughter.

He continued to shout over my laughs. “I won’t have you corrupting anyone else with this rebellious attitude. DO YOU HEAR MY BOY? YOU’RE DISFELLOWSHIPPED!” Robert shouted.

“OH NO!” I shouted back with dramatic sarcasm, putting my hands on my face as if his verdict had just turned my life upside down.

“Not disfellowshipped! Which pretty much means that I can’t hang out with other Jehovah’s Witnesses! NEWS FLASH POPS! I’ve always been disfellowshipped! My whole life, I’ve always been by myself. According to your rules, I can’t call anyone! I can’t go out! Can’t play sports!?!” I began.

“That’s not true, Tien. You have your brothers and sisters in the congregation.” My mother pointed out.

“Those are not my friends, mom! I don’t know them. And if they got to know me, they wouldn’t like me. You know why? It’s because I like fighting. I like martial arts. Not because I like hurting people, but because to me, it’s like dancing. It’s an art. But now. Now! I can’t even talk to Witnesses because this guy wants me disfellowshipped.” I told her.

“That’s right!” My father shouted…AGAIN, getting back into my fucking face.

But this time, I didn’t back off. I pressed my forehead against his and glared into his pathetic submissive eyes. “You know what…Why don’t you just pull out a gun and blow my head off. Because you! And this godforsaken religion with its horrible restrictions and backwards ass interpretations of the bible…have already MENTALLY AND PASSIVE AGGRESSIVELY DONE THAT!”

With that, something inside of me snapped. It was a rage that clouded my judgment. I couldn’t control myself. The next thing I know, I was running toward a large bookshelf by the wall of the living room. I grabbed the top corner of that heavy wooden bookshelf and slammed it face down to crash on a glass coffee table. My mom and dad were left stunned and terrified as I stood with my shoulders raised on edge.

Robert finally ran over the mess of broken glass and wood and began shoving me. “Get out. Get out! I don’t know what you’ve done with my son. But you better bring him back. Get out!” Robert shouted.

He pushed me from the living room and into the foyer heading toward the front door. And I let him. As I said…something was clouding my judgment. Call it rage, call it anger management issues. But all I know… Is when he shoved me against the closed front door, my anger elevated to another level. My head bounced off the door. And in that flashing blur of motion, I bounced off the door, lunged forward to punch my father as hard as I could across his jaw. After the hit, he staggered with stunned confusion before losing balance and falling on his butt. It was a horrible feeling. I still remember the popping sound of my fist connecting with his face. I still remember the pain I felt in my knuckles from chipping the bone of his chin.

As soon as I hit him, that cloud had faded away. My inhibitions had come back to me. I stood over my father with wide eyes…horrified from my own actions. My mother came running…She came running for my father. She came and knelt down beside my father, massaging his face. “Oh my god Robbie! Rob, are you okay!?” She whimpered as if she was the one who got hit.

I slowly began to approach. “Awe…dad..I’m…I’m really…” I began to say.

“GET OUT!” My mother screamed. The scream echoed off of the walls of the house in a mechanical fashion. It rattled me to the core. In her eyes I saw a mix of fear and anger. It was almost as if she didn’t recognize me. Like I was an imposter…No…Like I was a criminal. That look was the most painful infliction I would ever experience in my life. And trust me…If I’ve captured your attention and you want to hear the rest of my story…Allow me to spare you by saying that I’ve been through some shit. And throughout the countless painful trials and tribulations I’ll come to experience, nothing was ever more painful than the heartbreaking sight of my mother and father staring up at me as if I were something evil…something they were ashamed of.

At a loss of words and feeling utter emptiness…I simply turned around and opened the front door. Yeah, I was sad at first. And I even regretted hitting my father. But as I stepped out the front door into the humid air of that summer night…Anger and animosity took over that sad pathetic state I was in. What I did was right. I was right. My parents were wrong. My parents had taken the side, the word of the school district over their own son. That oppressive religion…that fucked up non-diverse city…I was seventeen…I had enough of it all. I walked out onto my front yard and kept walking. I didn’t look back. Whatever lay ahead of me…I would do as I always did…Face it alone.

One comment on “Dragon Ash – Episode 1

  1. Pingback: DRAGON ASH – EPISODE 1 IS OUT!!!! « Stage In The Sky

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