Thursday, August 30, 2012
It was a typical Friday night and, like a freight train barreling down the tracks, I could here this one coming well before I ever saw him. I think it was the clish-clash-clang of a long row of parked bicycles crashing to the ground like a string of dominoes that gave away his position. When I turned the corner to cut through the alley, sure enough he was there lying at my feet.
I asked him if he was okay and he responded in a Japanese dialect that sounded older than the hills overlooking Temple Valley. Luckily when I got a whiff of the words coming from his mouth, I recognized them right away. I just so happened to have been studying the language for years. He was speaking Drunkese and he was quite fluent in it.
Stretching out my hand to lift this poor drowning soul off the wet pavement he gazed up at me as if he had just set eyes on an angel. I propped him up against the side of the Good Luck pachinko parlor and quickly went to work untangling the mess of mangled metal until every bike was standing on its own two wheels and order had been fully restored to the alley way. After regaining the sea legs he had lost to the drink the wayward stranger under my wing was up and wobbling on his way down the street in no time. I followed for a few blocks and wondered, as I watched him waiver from side to side, if it might have been better to leave him to the relative safety of the puddle from which I pulled him. Then I thought perhaps providence put him in my path.
The fact was he was on his own now and there was nothing I could do but worry if he had made it home in one piece. I didn't sleep a wink that night. I just laid there listening in silence for the dreaded sound of ambulance sirens that so often pierce the night air and which fortunately never came. Then as luck would have it, later the next day, while passing through that same alley that separates the Good Luck pachinko parlor from the Mister Donut doughnut emporium I once again crossed paths with this same soul I had saved the night before.
He never gave me a second look. It was as if I were a total stranger. The events that passed less than 24 hours before were at best a blur to him. I was but a forgotten angel, forever shrouded in mystery. There was just no other way to explain it.
When I was a first grader at St. Martha's Elementary school our teacher, Sister Rose Carrot Top, would always tell us to save some room on our seats for our guardian angels to sit beside us. It's a good thing my guardian angel was skinny because I was on the chubby side and didn't have much seat space to share.
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