What strange creatures lurk in Long Beach midnight, and what invisble forces govern the urges that compell me to walk among them? Two nights ago, I chose to take a different route home, not expecting such a simple whim to bear such strange fruit.
On that dark and lonesome street I saw a white comet hit the ground with the sound of terra cotta keys dropped on marble. Approaching the crash site i saw a fallen angel made of white stone that had fell from its perch above the door of the church. Somehow, the Angel’s neck took the brunt of the fall, so that the head and body were whole but seperate, but the neck was obliterated, a scattering of dust and sand upon the sidewalk. There could be no recapitation. It’s not every day one finds an honest-to-god fallen angel, so I scooped the two intact piece up and slipped them into my back pack; to be decyphered later.
Not two blocks later I heard a condescending voice. “Walking, eh?” It was a large young black man in typical urban attire sitting on the steps of a building, flanked a few steps up to either side by a hispanic, male and female. Seems to me there was probably a party going on nearby and they stepped out for a cigarette or a chat. “i used to be walking, walking my mouth that is. Thing is, I was walking it so fast my soul couldn’t keep up. I just kept talking and talking, but everything I said was without soul. Now, my mouth and my soul are one.”
I mention he is black in this tale, for I am trying to give a complete description. in the short hand version i told my co-workers, I left that detail out completely, for although he had that firey and aggresive vocal style often associated with black rappers and preachers, it was far from his most outstanding characteristic. Most outstanding was the fact that he only had nine fingers.
The pinkie of his left hand ended just before he second knuckle, and he drew anttention to the stub with a large gold ring situated just past the first knuckle and occupying the entir remaining span. So, like Ahab’s ivory leg, the stump of his missing appendage had been capped not by a surgeon, but by a jeweler. And why would he want to draw attention to such a malady anyway?
This is a man with a debt, I thought. Seems the finger had been cut off in the same fashion that the Japanese mafia employees when a yakuza thug errs in such a tremendous fashion that he can never apologize, never pay it off, never make it up. The process is needlessly painful, as the yakuza cuts off his own pinkie, but it shows the depth of both his sorrow and his resolve. The severed finger is presented to the mafia boss, or whoever the debt is owed to. The practice is so widely known in Japan that Nickelodeon’s kids show “Bob the Builder” is going through computer enhancement so as not to trouble little kiddies with images of three-fingered hands. So maybe this guy isn’t Japanese, it seems like a custom that could spread to our own gangster culture.
The vigilante street preacher continued his sermon. The Hispanics rolled their eyes, though I couldn’t tell if it was in disbeleif that he was prostelytizing, or annoyance that he was doing it again. I still couldn’t tell if he was straight up or messing with me. Then he suddenly rose to his feet. he was giant man, taller than me though I am tall myself, and thicker trunked (but not at all fat)than me though I am skinny. He towered over me as though he was seven feet tall. A man made of prime numbers, counting soul and mouth as 1, feet as 7, fingers as 9. “I’m calling you out,” he said, and I thought, ‘fuck, this mother fucking apostle and his posse are going to go Azrael on my ass.’ I couldn’t fight off the preacher even if he was alone. “Calling you out for God.”
I flashed a charming smile and searched my mind for the most harmless religious sentiments I could muster. “Tis the season, for charity and goodwill toward men,” I said. “Merry Christmas, man.”
“Fuck Christmas,” sayeth the preacher. “Merry Fucking God”
Unintentionally he planted an image in my head of an incestuous biblical relationship that was, all in all, really hot. Mary looked like Catherine Zeta-Jones. but I digress, I was still was dealing with yet another Long Beach mystic who seemed Hell bent on kicking my ass, or just passionate about his faith.
“How do I play into all this talk of God and souls?” I asked him.
He smiled, big and toothy. “Do you have a mission from God?”
I thought a moment. “No, not really.” I pretty much live day to day, whims and urges, plans and ambitions, but no real mission. and then I felt the pieces of that broken angel come together and I decided something. “But I’m ready for one.”
“You’re all right, man.” said he. “Find one.”
I was rather hoping he had one in mind for me. Not that I would have out-right accepted it, but at least take another view into consideration. I’m sure I have to find for myself what that mission ought to be. Obviously, he had his mission. We smacked fists together in that California sort of hand shake, and I bid the nine-finger preacher good night, decideing never to take that route home again.
So, I’m in the market for a mission from God. Let me know if you hear any good ones.