my second year of college was a troubling one. it was supposed to be the transition year, the one after having fully recovered from my first breakdown, the bridge that would continue my functioning life swimmingly as if nothing had happened, but it led to a second breakdown, a misdiagnosis, and a troubling pattern which to this day hasn't been solved. it was proof that it wasn't just a little thing easily calmed by pills, i was actually really as a whole just fucked up.
that second year, Dad decided that maybe a change of pace was in order. the weekend before the semester was about to start, we made it a priority to go to church.
"if you can't do it yourself, ask for outside help," was Dad's shrugging suggestion and quick summation of religion in the modern age.
since we needed all things to be new, Dad and i spotted a new church on a corner we hadn't recognized before butting up right against the official property line of the campus, next to the science museum ironically. look, it wasn't about what religion was being practiced in there, it wasn't about religion at all really, it was just something new, a new tack to things, anything different, any spirit, any prayer, any words that would become the new pill i needed.
the church was gorgeous. that's how they get ya, huh? that's how they get the nonbelievers to step in, it's an architecture thing. it looked almost like the place was in ruins, but the beautiful kind of ruins, the significant dig site, the archaeological kind, the historical landmark. stone of a past age strewn the area, creating impossible peepholes and angles for the glistening light of the sun to shine in and zig-zag through this monument to prayer, capture the essence of rare items in the place. upon further inspection, yes, the two of us determined that the church was, in fact, an open-air auditorium and was pretty much in ruins, like it had been a properly-functioning roofed church back when Greek and Roman gods roamed the land, ironically. it wasn't my imagination for once.
"is this still Catholic?" i offered sheepishly.
"i suppose so, son, doesn't matter, it's a temple, a shrine, a cathedral, a cure."
we got there late, the Mass was already fifteen minutes in. the priest was not wearing his usual vestments, no grand white robe, he just had his black-and-white-collar walking attire on, strangely, his street clothes, as he pronounced some weird words on the altar. to the right of the officiating priest were two gorgeous babes in flowing blue dresses, their gigantic tits held up and showcased tightly by firm gilded bustiers. their hair was so long it touched the dusty grounds of the cathedral. they were playing air-mini-harp. Dad and i hid ourselves in the very last row of pews. a man just in front of us was blocking my view. this man had bright white hair, a monk's flowing beard, and look rather haggard. street person? at first he didn't smell, but then he smelled, i could smell it, but it wasn't a dirty smell, it was a smell of force.
the priest started to hum/sing-song/pray through the Our Father:
"Our Father, Who art in Heaven..." the priest chanted proudly. he was fucking proud of his voice, that's what stuck him out from the crowd, that and his relatively young age for a priest, and handsome cheekbones. must have been an early calling.
the babes up on stage with him frowned. they weren't having any more of this boring drone. they put down their harps and took out electric guitars magically from behind their stools. they plugged them into a secret mini speaker they had stashed behind the altar without the priest's knowledge. the priest looked stern and mouthed, "what the fuck is this?" at them and the crowd.
"take your seat, Dagan," one of the women declared as she took center stage to start playing, "warmup act is over, time for the real show to begin." her sister joined her with a second guitar, life always sounds better with two guitars harmonizing at the same time, and the babes began to strum electrically and
SANG THIS, CLICK HERE, RIGHT HERE AT THIS LINK
"okay," Dagan admitted afterwards, "that was cool. i liked the middle portion the best, when all those neat sounds come together, that chorus was full of sick, eclectic riffs."
while all this was happening, the old man made it a point to turn his head and address my dad. he shook Dad's hand and looked me squarely in the eye, talking directly to me as he held onto Dad's hand with a strong grip: "mister, i know what your family is going through. i just said a prayer silently to my god and i guarantee your son there will get straight As this semester. there's nothing to worry about, his life is back on track." he smiled gleefully, poor thing, i felt so good for this man, i wanted to please this complete stranger and really get those As, work hard like i had in high school, but my problems went beyond simple marks. there was an air of hope in the room generated by this announcement from Lyoto, the old man's name. he felt it, i felt it, but Dad still thought the whole thing was creepy.
the next day, right before my first 8AM class was about to start, Dad and i ventured into the church again. all the players were right there in their positions as if they had never left: Dagan, Lyoto, and the girls. Dad took one look at the room, felt the room's temperature, shook his head, and told me: "Creature, y'know what? you go on ahead, you stay here, i'm leaving, this place gets me ooky."
throughout the Mass, things went on normally, Lyoto didn't turn his head to meet my gaze, but as soon as the Mass was over, he whipped his head ferociously to meet my gaze.
"son," he said while touching my hair, "tell me your problems. i see it in your grey face, there are some major demons weighing you down, you must talk about them to another soul or you'll never exorcise them."
dirty street person or not, he had a point. besides, Lyoto was my future if i didn't attack my problems head-on soon, i'd be the next unknown forgotten beggar on the streets. i took a deep deep breath, "i want to make sure i do my enormous demons justice, hopefully i have the words to express my pain and angst in a manner that is clear and concise. you and the world MUST understand me, i can't go on like this anymore, i need to do my depression justice."
"no pressure, kid," Lyoto impatiently stammered, "get on with it. describe it fully, or i can't help you."
"this is depression to be sure, but it's more, it's a lack of purpose, i feel like my cells are gliding away from me because there is nothing left for me to do, nothing left for me to say, it has all been done and said before by people more clever than me, what is it that i have to offer? my cells agree with my assessment and are slowly breaking apart from me until there is no me left. each second of my waking life i wonder what i am to do, what i was supposed to be doing now if i wasn't like this? i have no idea, no direction, no friends to guide me, no spirits to tell me my path. i travel aimlessly through the forest, the man with no name, until i hit a church of stone and light."
"i understand, son, you did it! you made a connection, i'm your friend, i get where you're coming from. i was once like you, and look at me now." i didn't want to hear that. "anyway," Lyoto continued, "let's take a walk, the entire church heard your sob story. you're probably embarrassed by now. let's go somewhere more private."
i wasn't embarrassed until Lyoto told me to be embarrassed, i hadn't noticed that i was talking loudly and everyone was staring at me. the looks on all of the church patrons' faces were worried and astonished, they thought me some nonhuman freak. Lyoto took me by the arm and whisked me away to an adjoining hallway of the church next to the main auditorium which was still outside. "privacy" was a nebulous concept here.
Lyoto: "from what i can gather, you're stuck, you've been stuck for a very very very very very very very very very very long time. you've been lost so long you don't where where to begin to start walking again, which direction to go: north, south, east, or west. your compass broke the second you felt your first pang of depression. what you need, son, what i need, what everyone needs, is an adventure, a goal, a plan, something to take you out of your circular inert thinking and get you active again, get that brain of yours which has been hampered for years by self-doubt, get it working on a project outside yourself, get the blood pumping through your arms and legs again. it won't solve your problems, but it's a hell of a distraction, it's something else other than what you're used to. it's like what one of those philosophers used to say about Existentialism: Existentialism only works, it's only ever felt, when your mind is empty with nothing to think about other than yourself. the existential crisis begins when it's just you in an empty room pondering. when you're helping others, engaging with others, the crisis simmers down. it's not that it goes away, but it's not felt as acutely. hell, we all need this, we all need to be busy with something meaningful, or we'd all go crazy. i invented Existentialism by the way."
wow, Lyoto knew me surprisingly well already, but how? i guess this kind of problem wasn't unique to me, it was universal and human. i smiled at that, i was starting to belong again.
suddenly, Dagan intercepted the path we two were walking down. the priest was in shambles, crying, red-faced and looking like shit.
Dagan: dammit! dammit! dammit!
Lyoto: what is it this time, you fucking bastard? the song was good, get over it.
Dagan: i wear this white collar around my neck, and the public immediately assumes they know all about me and my proclivities. it's not true, dammit! i hate this world, i hate this perception-is-reality world.
Lyoto: then don't wear the collar. now get out of our way...
Dagan: no. make me.
Lyoto: music to my ears, demon.
Lyoto motioned to punch Dagan until i stepped in front to get an explanation.
Phoenix: guys, guys, come on, let's all breathe. what was that just now? it's like you guys were in a play or something. what's the beef here?
Lyoto pointed at me and then at Dagan's face:
Lyoto: son, look at that priest's eyes. see? they're yellow. now i watch a lot of anime, and the demon priests always have red eyes, that's their tell-tale sign, that's what gives them away. but i know in real life, it's never red, it's yellow that is the real signal. my perception of reality comes from anime, suckers!"
and with that, Lyoto punctured some garlic bulbs he had in his coat pocket with a long stick he gleaned from the ground and started waving it all around Dagan's personal space.
Lyoto: the demon is wailing and bailing! get behind thee, Satan! i am Lyoto, my name means Demon Killer, look it up. look out, Phoenix, i'll save you!
Lyoto dropped the stick, picked up Dagan by the armpits, turned him around as Dagan was flailing his arms violently, and literally kicked his ass, he kicked Dagan's butt with the full force of his foot, soccer kick, and Dagan flew up and flew up and flew up and sped into the sun until he was but a speck in the blue sky that disappeared in a poof. all of this was accompanied by a Wilhelm scream.
"sorry 'bout that," Lyoto replied afterwards in a measured tone again, "but i really hate that guy. do you want to feel better about yourself? do you want to help your fellow man?"
my mouth was still wide open. a tear appeared by the back of my head anime-style. i nodded my head.
"good. help me, then. son, i need something, a treasure item that is vital to the continuation of my life force, my power as a man, a wise man, i need it or i'll die, i need it to live. you don't want to see me die, do you?"
i couldn't nod my head this time. my open mouth was so open there was lockjaw. Lyoto closed my mouth for me and nodded my head for me. i could speak again.
"how do you know Dagan was a devil?" was my first question, "aren't you afraid you'll go to Hell for doing that to a priest? yellow eyes indicate jaundice. he was frustrated, that's all..."
"you sense these things when you're my age," said Lyoto, "now i really need this item, and only you can get it for me. you feel special, now, huh? you feel you were born to do this, to accomplish something that matters. the name of the item is the
KEY OF LOADING
TO BE CONTINUED...