The Warrior 5
Though somewhat still troubled I left the safe cocoon displayed by and promised by Father Ben and Mildred. I took off for the hotel my parents were staying – I would be staying there too if they would let me. My mothers' words came back loud and clear though so I was nervous about how the reception would be. On top of that, actually her words hurt me to the core. I was afraid for her and I was afraid of her … then my fathers' last words haunted my soul. My peace was quickly being replaced with a feeling of dread then I started remembering and paying attention to Father Ben's words about finding the good in people even when you have to look very hard, because it is there.
At about one block from the hotel an unmarked police vehicle drove by going the same way as I was going. My senses became hyper aware yet I continued walking with purpose, as if nothing was ever seen or experienced and then another passed by going in the same direction. The police cars stopped in front of the hotel however their occupants stayed inside the vehicle.
Cautiously, I visually ignored them yet kept them in my peripheral vision. I came upon a crosswalk to a foot path that led down to the beach so when the light changed I blended in with a whole bunch of tourists and walked across with them nonchalantly, minding my own business, yet very aware of who and what was around me. Nothing suggesting any trouble was apparent. With that I kept walking simply becoming one of the many. It seemed to have worked because when I looked back over to the hotel the police cars were gone. I did not see them or any others but I was not ready to go to my parents' hotel room just yet. I thought the police could not be very far away, no more than 5 minutes at the most, so I kept on walking until I reached an isolated area.
There I decided to have a little bit of fun before facing my parents. I sat down then removed my shoes, socks and my shirt. After piling them neatly, I began slowly walking up the beach away from the tourists. I love hearing and seeing the ocean does its thing. It is so peaceful and relaxing. I would like to come here to live some day when I was older, with a good job and a family. The problem with my 'family' visions, of late, is that I do not see myself having children, not that way anyway. Maybe I could adopt some children. But then again, I did not really see myself being married or otherwise committed. I remembered Father Ben's words about his family, his heartache, the loneliness and despair he had experienced… and well, I didn't want to have that experience then I thought "Well, maybe I could become a priest or a Monk even." That thought was soon replaced by an inner fact, "Nah."
I then heard footsteps far away but approaching closer. There had been some kids out surfing and having a good time so I decided to continue my trek to wherever it was that I would end up.
I was not worried about sunburn since I had lived in many tropical places without any problems with it. The waves were splashing my legs so I bent down and rolled them up to my knees. By happenstance I looked between my legs and noted that there were several boys down the beach. They seemed to be a long way down the beach so I continued my journey. I got lost in the surf, the waves, the bright sunshine, the trade winds blowing across my chest, the water lapping at my ankles, and the peace and serenity of the moment.
Something didn't seem quite right so I turned around in the direction the discomfort was originating from… I observed one of the boys throwing my clothes into the ocean, piece by piece. I wondered why they were doing that.
I headed in their direction. No I wasn't running. Clothes are not worth getting all uptight about. When I was about 100 paces from them the biggest and oldest turned to me and started walking toward me. There was something disturbing about him, about his gait. I soon found out what that was…
"Hey nigger, we don't allow niggers on this beach. Get the fuck out of here. You people come here and think you can do whatever the fuck you want to."
The rest of the boys, even larger than the one heading toward me, were even larger than him. My senses perked up, my awareness became acute, and my sense of hearing overshadowed the 'noise' of the waves coming in.
When the distance between us narrowed to the point where I could actually see close up pictures of their faces… they were angry and hostile.
I don't care about being called names. I've been called that word before, as has my family. I truly believed their name calling and whatnot was simply a blueprint of their ignorance and intolerance.
When we were 10 paces apart, I said, "No problem. I'll get my clothes. I'll leave."
He took two steps forward narrowing our separation to 8 paces. His friends also moved closer. They then fanned out. Two guys were on my left. Two guys were on my right. Three were in front narrowing the gap.
The lead guy… he was about 5′ 10" tall and weighed between 170 and 180 pounds. He was lean and mean and angry and determined.
"Do you not understand English, Jungle Bunny? I said to get the fuck out of here. We don't give our beaches to fuckin niggers!"
He stopped walking when he reached two paces in front of me. The two that were on each side were closing the gap.
I said, "I will get my clothes and leave. I will not repeat myself."
Two of the guys on my left began closing, rapidly closing the little bit of distance. When they arrived I performed a perfect tuck and roll ultimately landing on my feet.
They came at me again. At the last moment I stepped aside and watched them sprawl on the sand.
I asked, "Would you permit me to gather my things? I will leave. I do not stay where I am unwelcome."
By that time many people were standing around, almost like in a circle but not really. I felt like the situation was getting out of control; their control that is.
The two guys who had showing their lack of hospitality were on their feet. I stepped next to the waters' edge so that I could keep them all fully in my vision. They weren't advancing so I thought, "fuck the clothes, I don't need them."
"Why aren't you gone, nigger?"
"Why don't you get out of my way? I will leave but you are making it very difficult for me to go."
"People of your kind do not come here. They know to stay away. This is our beach. We'll defend it… we need to set an example."
"And what example would that be? I do suggest that if you want to have a good ending to your day then you'll permit me to leave."
"And just who the fuck do you think you are telling me what to do?" Badass said menacingly.
"I gave you but a suggestion. Take it or leave it. It is your choice of course."
I thought 'these guys are body builders – dumb asses but nevertheless they could present great, formidable challenge to my strengths'.
I realized that they'd done this before. Each took two steps forward. The gap was essentially closed. The crowd was cheering … I couldn't tell if they were cheering me, or leering me… they were probably cheering on the assholes.
I'd had enough. I turned toward down-beach and started to walk that way but the main guy stepped in front of me thus stopping any forward progress. The other guys stayed where they were.
Then the guy touched me. He did not touch me as to bring about harm… he just touched my shoulder with his strong hands. That was not the right thing to do. You may challenge me but do not lay your hands on my body in any way, shape or form… especially when you are angry and belligerent. I grabbed his wrist with a lock hold, removed his hand from my body then released it.
He got in my face, nose to nose. He venomously sneered, "Get lost nigger or we will remove you from our beach."
"Very well. I will leave. Actually, I need to be somewhere which is the only reason I must leave your hospitality, too bad. Have a great day. I'll see you later. I have traveled many miles to be here. I'm sure we will work something out."
I started to walk past him toward my belongings when he brushed into me on purpose. "Excuse me." I said then went to walk around him. He did it again. "Excuse me I must get my belongings before I can go. Be careful. Some day you will get hurt doing what you are doing."
"Are you threatening me nigger?"
"No, not at all. By the way, my name is Antoine. I will get my things and leave. Do not make this a bad day, okay?"
The crowd circled around us in a tight circumference thus blocking my exit.
The big guy in my face then slammed his hands into my chest. I lost my balance, fell into the water – but I was up in a second. I assumed a defensive stance, took one step back, and locked my eyes into the attackers' eyes. Our visions were acute. I remained calm inside however my muscles were twitching for release from the uncompromising situation.
I saw the shadow of a giant overshadow Badass. I swirled around but it was too late. He shoved me very hard into Badass. With amazing speed I recovered and then jabbed the fucking giant in the gut then rolled and grabbed his ankle. He fell. No, he was not injured though I could have with some effort effectively fractured his bones into a million pieces… I was positive I could neutralize him but I wanted to maintain peace.
While I did not feel to be in mortal danger the situation was quickly escalating.
When he was slow to get up, somebody in the crowd began laughing – it was infectious. I just smiled at the guy and the other dude who had been aggressive to me.
The big guy regained his stature. At that point I was very concerned… for both my safety and for his.
He offered his hand in a good will gesture however his eyes said otherwise. I reached for his hand, ready for anything should the need have arose.
He smiled. His other hand came into my peripheral vision. He had a hand full of sand in it. I said with every ounce of my being, hoping against hope that he'd not do what I thought he was about to do, "If you throw that in my face then you will have a very, very bad day, I promise you."
Four of them rushed me. I could not handle all of them, not in the position I had been in. They put their arms around me and squeezed for all they were worth. Their worth was formidable.
Mr. Badass got into my face, "I told you to get lost nigger. You people do not listen very well. Ron, teach him a lesson."
"I will give you one last chance to save your good day."
"You are not in a position to make that offer punk. We told you to get off of the beach."
Because the guy behind me was quickly squeezing my breath away, I decided to go ahead and take care of this situation. They would be having a very bad day after all. We all would be having a bad day.
Badass went sprawling in exquisite pain after he got a nice jab in the crotch by my foot. Nothing lethal – he was just out of service.
Now the guy holding me from behind, the fucking giant, well that was a different matter. He began putting me into a headlock but before he did, I head butted him with tremendous force. I heard the bones of his jaw crunch. When he let go of me because of his severe pain I landed on the ground and then had to deflect, destabilize and disservice their so called friends.
When I turned to the crowd, who had since closed in, they quickly stepped aside. One of the girls I walked past raised her hand to high-five me. I was wary but her eyes were soft and brown and non-menacing. She said, "Thanks. They're assholes. They think they own this fucking beach as their own, so thank you, we owe you."
"No ma'am, you owe me nothing. Just have a good time and treat people with respect."
Another person in the crowd, a little boy of maybe 12 years old handed me my belongings then gave me a quick 'guy' hug then whispered in my ear "The asshole who got the broken mouth was messing with my 'best' friend Robby and me, and well, uhm …"
"Sorry buddy I have got to go now." I said then quickly mingled with the crowd as the Beach Patrol and paramedics arrived on the scene. Being a 'little' kid I can blend in pretty well with the grownups, and did.
After arriving at the hotel lobby, I sprinted up the stairs to the second floor, found my parents' room and knocked on the door. My father answered it on the second attempt.
He was fucked up. He was fucked up on cocaine. I could tell it immediately. I've seen it before. He gets mean when he's fucked up. I quickly surveyed the situation. I saw my mother lying on the couch. She was crying. Her face was battered and beaten and bloody. It was more than I could take. I could take no more. I must defend my mothers' honor. I must defend my mothers' life.
Without a second thought, I threw a kick that connected with my fathers' face. I felt bones and cartilage snap like too-dry twigs in a forest. He fell to the ground broken and bleeding from his nose and eyes. I would not dishonor my father by killing him. He would suffer though. He would forevermore be disfigured but he would live and he too would be 'abnormal'. In a moment of clarity, I disowned my father right then and there. He would no longer control me. I was done with the trade and would never go back to it no matter how hungry or destitute I might be or get.
I ran to my mother. She was crying hysterically saying "He will kill you Antoine. You must leave. You have dishonored your father, boy. By dishonoring your father, you have dishonored me. Go now. Go away." Her eyes, bruised as they were, were absolutely rabid with hatred and anger.
I realized I was dead. I had died. My life with them ended right then and there. There was nothing left to salvage.
I said to my mother, "I will always love you. As you wish, I will leave."
Despite her wild protests and beating on my back I walked to the phone, picked up the receiver, pushed the buttons 9-911. When the person answered I said, "We are at the Holton Inn on Waikiki Beach. My mother has been beaten and battered by my father Armando Garza. Please send police and ambulance quickly!"
With that I turned to my mother. She struck my cheek. She screamed that she would never forgive me for turning my father into the police. I said nothing. Instead, I walked to the door leading out of the hotel room, looked at my father writhering around in pain from his fractured jaw, and then walked over him and quickly away from the hotel. Sirens were heard… they were getting closer and closer.
I looked to my mother. She was still beating on my back, I said to her, "God loves you mother. Goodbye."
I would never again see her alive.
I left the hotel with only the clothes covering my loins; my shoes, socks and shirt surely floating away in the surf.
For the next several months, I learned how to survive on the beach. I was not the only one but I stayed to myself. I would spend my days walking up and down the beaches. I'd drop in and see Father Ben and Mildred from time to time. I spoke with Father Ben a few times about what I had done to support my family, about those people I had taken their choices away from and why. His only words to me about the subject were to stop. I told him that I would never go back to that way of life and would atone for my sins by treating people well, and that I would use my skills only to defend myself or anyone in danger and only as a last resort.
I visited the area of the beach where the bullies had hung out and never saw them again. Neither did I see the boy who had spoken to me briefly. I looked for them. Not to bring them harm but to see how they were doing, and I really wanted to wish them well.
I had made a home for myself in a deserted area. Mildred and Father Ben would drive up every now and again just to make sure I was okay, that I had plenty to eat and they gave me warm blankets for nighttime as the spray from the water was cold. I chose to stay there. They offered to put me up as a resident but I declined and asked them to help another boy like they did me. They said they would. They did too because I would visit them every now and again, usually when I was so lonely that I wanted to die.
They usually 'visited' me every Thursday afternoon. I kept track of days by using little stones set in a circle then with each sunup, I would move the stick one notch.
On Sunday of one week, I awoke several times during the night to toss my cookies from both directions until finally there was nothing left to give to the ocean. I remember standing there wishing and wanting to just jump in and get it over with because my life had no purpose, had no joys other than ones I made up for myself, was tired of defending myself against wandering idiots who tried to steal my stuff, I had no friends other than Father Ben and Mildred, was not going to school, had decided that one can only masturbate so many times – and the times I did caused me great grief because my hands were salty and sandy and filthy – all of which do not mix with the soft delicate tissues of my manhood. But I chastised myself for even thinking such thoughts so I crawled back into my 'cave', lay down and went to sleep after saying my prayers.
By Tuesday afternoon, I could no longer raise my head up. I was so sick. My lungs were on fire. My stomach was on fire. My head was ready to explode. I lost all track of time after the sun came up on Wednesday. In my last moment of clarity I prayed after seeing my life pass before my eyes in slow motion. "Dear God, I am ready to meet you. You have loved me all of my life. I have been bad. I have dishonored my parents. For that I am truly sorry. Please forgive me for the lives I have taken to honor my parents. I now commend my spirit to you. Amen." I then closed my eyes to sweet, sweet Darkness.
Then light. Bright. Pleasant though. Warm. Bright but glowing in warmth at the same time. Very peaceful. Inviting. Where am I?
"Antoine honey, go back. You have much to do."
"Grand mama-ma. Grand papa-pa." I said excitedly. I tried to stand up so that I could hug them but I was suspended in golden light. Time meant nothing. Space meant nothing. Nothing meant everything. Everything meant everything. I reached my hands out to cling to my grandparents yet they were light years away but then again right next to me.
"Yes poco. We are here but Grand mama-ma is right, you have many good things to bring to your people. You are to be a warrior of good, child."
"I don't want to go back. I have nothing. I have no family. Nobody cares for me. I cannot care for anyone. I want stay, please?"
From out of nowhere, a vision planted itself in front of me to see in vivid color. A man and a woman were hovering over my body. My eyes were closed yet I could see their spirits. They were good spirits. I then saw my body, naked and lifeless. Is that what I look like dead? That child looks so sad, so alone, so tight and tense despite his chin hanging on his chest with his tongue lying limply on his cracked lips.
I could not actually see the man or woman, only that they were there. Their faces were obscure. My vision of them was opaque.
"Is that mama and papa?" I asked Grand Mama-ma.
"No honey. They are being punished for their sins. Do you remember what Father Ben said about sin, child?"
A vision popped through my mind: I was sitting in Father Ben's office talking with him about my difficulty with sin. I said "Yes." Another thought passed through my mind in that same moment … the memories of people who I had taken choices away from.
"Grand Papa-pa, I had no choice. They would have killed me. Why am I here in this peaceful place? I should be hot. I should be burning …"
"They certainly would have killed you, poco. But they did not. Child, you had no choices to do what you were doing, no? Your papa, my son, took away your choices, he took away your boyhood with evil purpose and in evil ways. Look."
Another vision passed by me in slow motion … the two who had been hovering over me were now carrying me away. They were struggling with my weight on their shoulders.
"Go grandchild do not break their hearts. They love you. Many people will love you in your life. You will love many people. You will do good, child. You will be needed in your world. Go now. Go before it is too late."
"No wait." I said as the guy, a boy actually, yes, it was the boy on the beach who attacked me and called me filthy, vile names against my race and people – appeared. He looked at me then offered his hand with a sad smile on his face. He said "I am sorry for harming you Antoine. Please forgive me. I have died. See?" A vision crowded into my vision – he was lying in a pool of blood with a girl. They were naked. He was inside of her. His head was gone. He had purple and black marks all over his body. I recognized those. They were gunshot wounds, I'd seen those before. No, I had never used a gun …
"I am sorry you died a violent death amigo. If I could have prevented it … I would have."
"There was nothing you could have done differently. You could have killed me with your skill in less time than a ventricle takes to refill with the liquid of life. But you did not. You are a man of honor. Go. Leave now, the time has come."
"What will happen to you? Are you going to that place named hell?" I said but the vision disappeared.
"Grandchild, the time has passed. You must make a decision to stay here or go to your life on earth. Hurry poco."
Through no choice of my own, through no power bestowed from my training, from no power that I was capable of … the bliss of an all encompassing darkness returned utterly and completely rendering me totally incompetent to stop the visions of what was happening on the earth plane.
Those two people having no faces were laboring to bring my dead and lifeless appearing body down a steep cliff. I would look in all directions searching for my Grand Mama-ma and my Grand Papa-pa but they were not to be seen, neither was the boy, neither were any of the people whose choices I had removed. The only vision was of those two laboring people. Their burdens were heavy.
Sometime later, I was told a month later, I awoke in a hospital bed. I had no idea where I was; and the only thing I knew was that I wasn't dead. The walls were a starched white. Other than for a small table and the bed I lay on there was nothing, no people, no nothing yet it was my world and it was everything.
Over the next several months, I don't know exactly how long because time had no meaning to me, they put me back on the sandy shores of the Pacific Ocean… why you ask… because that was where I wanted to be. Quite frankly, I left because there was a nosy caseworker making every attempt to get into my business despite my telling her over and over and over again that my parents were deceased, that they did not exist, that I was on my own and being alone was how I was going to stay.
I was a Warrior. Warriors ultimately see to their own needs, find their own way in the world, overcome all adversities, and gather their strength and stamina from nature and from within the temple of life.
For some time, I wandered the beaches, steeling and pilfering and depriving the birds from their sustenance whenever and wherever possible.
I returned to my cave. It was as I remembered it. Nothing had been touched so far as I could see. I holed up in it going out only at night. After some time my stamina returned and I resumed my physical and mental disciplines so that I could once again face the world with whatever it brought – friend or foe, both would be treated the same way.
One day I felt myself getting sick again. Performing my disciplinary rituals became very nearly impossible yet I tried. I willed myself into submission to my training.
When I lay down that night for a few hours of sleep an obscure thought occurred to me. I did not want to die. That was it: I just didn't want to die.
When the sun rose the following morning, I attempted to make my way from the home I had known for God only knew how long. I went stumbling up the beach. I fell frequently because I was so weak. My lungs were once again on fire. The crimson left its evidence on my hands.
When I turned the corner to head to Father Ben and Mildred's I could go no further yet I saw Father Ben walking from the church to the rectory. I knew beyond any shadow of a doubt, based on the way the sun was positioned, that he'd be headed to eat the wonderful foods that Mildred prepared.
With the last reserve of strength, I screamed… or attempted to scream. The last thing I remembered was my face hitting the sand. I looked at the sand and wondered if this was the way it was all supposed to end. The way I had been taught was that it was dust to dust, not dust to sand… was it possible?
My next recollection was being lifted and turned onto my back. Father Ben was standing there… he pulled me into his arms and held me firmly. He was crying. He picked me and held me in his strong arms. He then half walked and half ran to the rectory, beckoned Mildred, and then together they removed my clothes, gently laid me into the bathtub. Mildred gently, caringly, grandmotherly with tears flowing from her eyes washed my weak body, every nook and cranny leaving none untouched.
Father Ben, after they dried me reverently, carried me to the bed that I had once long ago lay and sleep on and spilled my seed into. They covered me up. Father Ben did not leave my side while Mildred made some calls for help.
Soon, a doctor and nurse arrived. They gave me many shots, pounded my back causing me to cough violently, and forced me to drink tepid tap water to wash down other pills and potions.
Within a few days I was feeling much better and no longer had to take nourishment while lying in bed. I know the nurse had told me hundreds of times what her name was but I was not really cognizant of people, places or things. That was a bad place to be. I'm glad that period of time passed.
Once I was able to walk for appreciably periods of time… Father Ben and I would together walk the beach each and every morning as the sun came up and night brought the sun to its knees. I gradually but decisively gained strength and I began going to the clinic at the hospital for my follow up care. They said that I had had pneumonia but was rapidly improving. The caseworker was nowhere to be found which eased my tensions and concerns. Father Ben told me that he'd ordered them to leave me alone, that I was living a life that I had chosen, and was doing okay despite my recent illnesses. Of course, they didn't believe his assertions however he was a man of the cloth and well known in the community so they did let him off the hook.
Slow at first but over a relatively short period of time I began running up and down the beach with returned speed, ability, stamina and desire. I avoided all people who were out and about on the beaches – tourists and locals alike.
The last day that I stayed with Father Ben and Mildred I said, "I am going back to my home on the beach but I promise you that I will take better care of myself. On the cold nights, if it is okay, can I come here to stay… but only for the night?"
Mildred looked at me sadly but acquiesced because she could read me. Speaking of reading, when I was sick the last time she would read Shakespeare to my sleeping form… or at least she thought I was sleeping… usually, I would listen to her perfect renditions of their writings. She asked what I would do for school to which I would reply that I was much advanced, further advanced than many of the wilderness schools I had attended.
Much to their dislike, I hated to disappoint them however at that time in my life I needed to be alone, to make my own way, to make my own mistakes, and to reach my own triumphs. And so I did. They made me promise to continue my follow ups with the doctors and nurses. I assured them that I would because it would be easy since I was pretty much doing that anyway.
On the day that I left their 24/7 care and loving giving I headed up the beach to keep good on my promise, and to exercise.
I stopped in at the care clinic on the beach to see the nurse that had been taking my medicine to me.
After checking in… and no there were no insurance forms to fill out, no receptionists or other personnel… just her, she ushered me into the makeshift treatment room. She listened to my chest, checked my temperature, determined my weight, and asked the perfunctory questions.
She asked, "How are you today?"
"I am much better. I am going back home today."
She looked at me curiously. I replied, "Yes, I am going to my home down at the point. I have a nice place there. Father Ben said I could stay there on the cold nights. I will take better care of myself, I promise."
"Are you eating well?"
"Yes. Mother Mildred makes sure I eat a good lunch every day. I am putting on weight, can you tell?"
"Yes. You are looking healthier and healthier day by day. Okay, here is your medicine. You only have two more days of medicine to go until you are finished. I can take you to the clinic in two days for your visit with the doctor if you like to have a ride."
"Sure. It is my job to take care of youth who live on the beach, Antoine. You don't have to answer me right now. We have time."
"Okay. Thank you. Thank you. But I can walk …"
"Taking you to your doctor is something I want to do for you. You have been bringing me smiles every day. Hurry up, move over. I have sick people to take care of young man."
"Okay. Yes. I am not sick anymore. Ha haa. I'll see you tomorrow. Ma'am, your children must be very proud of you." I said then sprinted off into the water wearing a pair of bright pink boardies that this woman had given to me a week previously. She said the swimming suit came from the Goodwill store but I knew better … she had missed a tag on the inside crotch holding material. I giggled.
On the last day of my medicine she did take me to my doctors' appointment in the city. As we traveled she said her name was "Peggy" and would I please call her that instead of 'ma'am'.
She was always smiling at me. She would tell jokes. She always gave me stuff and at the same time she did not pry into my business, where I lived, what I did, or where I was going.
When the appointment was over she asked me where my home was. I had always told her that my home was in the bad part of town, my parents were druggies, and that I had a million brothers and sisters, many whom I did not even know.
But she saw right through me. I knew it. She knew I was lying and allowed me to. Until that day.
"Ma'am, take me to my home then. I live up on the deserted part of this island. It is where I have lived and it is where I died and it is where I came back to life. I am sorry that I was not truthful … but really, I am happy."
"Okay, child, thank you for being honest with me. Take me to your home."
I had to help her through the sand, around the cliff and down into my 'home'. She looked my place over with awe then patted my on my shoulder and said "You are resourceful young man."
She took me back down to the beach that day. But I did not see her for a long time.
A few months later, in May, I went to the rectory for our afternoon meal but Mildred was not there, neither was Father Ben. I looked at the clock on the wall. It read 11:45 … oh; Father Ben has mass at noon.
I went into the bathroom and found that no water had been drawn up for my bath. Mildred had insisted on doing this for me. She said she needed to make sure I was gaining weight and that my ribs were filling in. She had been so worried about me when I was sick. She never told me what they did nor would Father Ben when I questioned him as to what had actually happened that day, in those weeks where I was here but not all there. She would say "We cannot question acts of God poco."
I had my needs so I sat down on the toilet, gave a load of mierda to the city, wiped up, pulled my britches up then took off looking for Mildred out in her garden where she raises very nice and good vegetables.
Sure enough she was sitting in her chair so I ran to greet her. But then I saw that she was looking away. Her eyes were not moving. She was asleep, no?
"Mother Mildred, please wake up. I will help you with dinner. Run my bath please. Mother Mildred, pleasssssssssse wake up. I want to tell you I love you again. Wait. Come back. I'll be right back. I'm going to go get Father Ben because he will help you." I cried knowing the truth but wanting the truth to be a lie.
I ran hard to the church, took the stairs up three at a time, and ran through the church screaming with all of my strength "Father Ben. Father Ben help – Mother Mildred is sick. Hurry! She needs us."
One of the old members of the church, I mean elderly; Melvin was his name got up quickly then followed us out to Mildred sitting in her chair. She had not moved. No.
"Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo" I screamed from the depths of my soul when Melvin looked at Father Ben then me while shaking his head no. "Do CPR, take her to the hospital, call the paramedics, do something!!!!! Please!" By this time I had collapsed on the ground crying my eyes out. No not this. Not now. Please. No. Please no.
Father Ben, once Melvin had left, said "Poco. Do you remember the journey you went for a few months ago, when you were real sick?"
"Yes. I saw beauty. I felt warmth. I felt atonement. I saw my grandparents … oh … Mildred is taking her journey … only she is not coming back? But she is loved. She loves unconditionally. I am sorry."
"Antoine, her work here was finished. She has passed through and into The Light."
"Good. I love her."
"She loves you too Antoine. Her spirit will live in you forever. Your spirit will live in her new form forever too. You will see some day a long time from now."
Father Ben and I went inside the rectory and nibbled at some leftover food from the evening meal she had prepared the night before. Neither of us were the least bit hungry, not in the least. When I went to the refrigerator to get a soda pop Mildred had purchased to help me gain weight with I saw a dish on the first shelf. It was her desert dish.
"Father Ben, look. She left us something."
Not waiting, I pulled the dish out, sat it on the table then sat down myself. Father Ben reverently opened the dish. We both cried openly and without reserve when we saw it was Mother Mildred's special pineapple upside down cake. All of a sudden we were hungry.
We ate every bite of her present to us with tears streaming down our faces … not in sadness but in happiness.
When I arrived at the medic station the next day, Peggy was there. I asked her for some aspirin <hey I waited in line for them because I wanted to see her> "Antoine, I will not be here for a few days. I have a funeral to go to. One of my very good friends passed away yesterday unexpectedly. Your last doctors' appointment is on Thursday, I will take you there. Another nurse, will be here for the people who need medical attention."
"Yeah, one of my greatest friends in the whole wide world died yesterday too. Her name was Mildred. She was …"
"That is my friends' name Antoine. She worked at the church for many years. I've known her all of my life. She was a beautiful person."
"Then I will see you there? Would you sit with me? I'm sorry. I am selfish." I asked solemnly.
"I would love to sit with you. Can I pick you up someplace?"
"I will meet you there. I will probably stay tonight with Father Ben. He's kind of alone now." I said solemnly looking down at the soft brown sand beneath my bare feet.
I heard a sniffle. Quickly I looked up. Her bright yellow flowered shirt was getting wet with the tears that were falling down her cheeks. Without asking for or receiving permission I went around the medic station, entered through a dilapidated and falling off door, pulled each other into a really deep, deep hug and held on not wanting to let go, unable to let go as we wept from the sadness from our hearts.
Every time we would pull away we would end up coming back together again. The people in line looked at us impatiently. Unable to leave each other, I sat the cups out for her to fill with medicine then would fill up the little cup with the water she had brought with her. When we were finished taking care of everyone in line a small boy was being carried by his momma up to our building. The little boy was crying very loudly, at least his lungs were very healthy!
When she arrived I took the little boy from her arms then carried him inside and laid him out on a lounge mattress to be looked at.
"It looks like this little guy has a jellyfish sting on his foot. Would you get me the meat tenderizer out of the medicine shelf for me, please?"
I went looking in the cabinet. The meat tenderizer was not hard to find … it was the only bottle there.
Deftly, Peggy sprinkled the salt-like smelling grainy gritty, it looked a lot like sand, stuff on the little boy's bite mark. When she finished I picked him up, drew him into my arms then started whispering little nothings into his ears. Soon he stopped crying and wanted down. When I stood him on his feet he grabbed my finger and started pulling on it. He took me to the waters' edge then reached up for me to pick him up. I did. While he was in my arms, I took us out into the surf. He was squealing in delight. We had lots and lots of fun wave jumping. Each time we would get drenched from the dying rush of waves he would hold on for dear life. I would hold onto him for dear life.
When we, rather when I got tired out we headed into shore where we met his mother. After thanking me profusely, his mother took him away. When they were maybe 50 yards away, the little boy broke free and came running to me then at the last minute jumped into my arms where we held each other tightly. Then he wanted down. He ran dutifully to his mother then together they continued on down the beach. I stood there with tears streaming down my face until they were out of sight.
I sat down on the waters' edge to feel and hear mother natures' strongest of words, her orders, her comfort and soothing caresses … this was mother nature's bath … thank you Mildred.
To be continued
Reedited (September 1, 2011)