Thursday, August 19, 2004

beloved enemy

i have a dear relation whom i communicate with and many times it is a painful exchange. i love this person. i want to be in relationship with this person. i've read boundaries, i know there are times when we must draw the line, but i said something to my sister in regards to this that struck me as truth.

i don't think the Lord really cares if i get along with my pastor or not. it is that relative who is causing me pain that He cares about. i don't think the Lord really cares if i get along with my pastor's wife, or whomever "godly" and "acceptable" i may be working to get along with, but i think He really cares about my disagreements with my beloved enemy.

think about it. whom did Jesus surround Hislovelyself with? sinners, tax-collectors, prostitues, all manner of heathen great and small. the Physician did not come to heal the healthy, but He came for the ones the healthy shun. the ones deemed rabble and unworthy of the attentions of godly folk.

this causes me to shudder. i don't want have friends in all the right places, as the world sees it. i want to befriend and love whom Jesus would have me befriend and love. this is very difficult. these are the people who ask too much, too loudly, too often. these are the ones others don't want to give the time of day. these are the ones who forget social graces and walk their own path. i forget that i am one of these ones too. i don't fit in either. i have a sneaking suspicion none of us really fit in. we all just think "they" do. the elusive, exclusive, they.

even when i do have dear friends, i feel myself a sojourner on a path somewhere with a temporary companion. i have learned one thing about friendships, and that is, they are brief. even those that i've had for years, are too brief for my taste.

changing subjects to something i've been pondering for weeks:

i have some friends who purge their homes of every thing that "could be" evil. movies, music, books, everything. i have done this before so i understand their thinking. but if they are eliminating a book just because it has a witch in it, why aren't they getting rid of the Bible?

my issue, i guess is, we go so far in the direction of trying to keep ourselves unsullied, that i think we focus too much on the sullying and forget the beautiful Lord. clearly, evil exists in the Bible. clearly devils, and witches, and raising the dead all exist in the Bible. of course we aren't to dabble with them, but God isn't afraid to tell us they exist, so why do we act like we must purge all these things from our lives when the very Bible we hold infallible has them in its very pages?

still haven't finished jonah, chapter four but i've some interesting insights the Lord has been sharing with me. they aren't ready to be writ just yet though.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Godless christians

one of the books i am reviewing right now is dubbed a christian book, yet i am having trouble finding out why. i've read only the introduction, acknowledgments and first chapter, yet i am deeply troubled by what i am finding.

my struggle is that this book is lauded as having "biblical inspiration" and "valuable lessons [on] ... faith" but i'm not seein' it folks. what i do see is a chapter on "it pays to know the palace gossip."

peppered with phrases like, (this is just the intro):
  • "It's true, she was beautiful and used her comely ways to her advantage." (WHAT? my marginal note: i hope this isn't their angle)
  • "She listened to her mentors to better understand how to influence others and use her authority to her advantage. (sigh)
  • "once she learns that the fate of her people lies in her hands" (of course God had nothing to do with it)
  • "So there are valuable strategies to be learned from Esther's story. Taking calculated risks. Becoming a savvy strategist. Standing up for what you believe in. Communicating with clout. Summoning courage under fire." (this passage isn't so horrible, but clout bugged me. Esther strikes me as primarily a submitted woman, first to mordecai, then to hegai, then to the king, but always to God. i see none of that reflected in these words so far).
  • "She knew the importance of royal appearance, working the palace grapevine, staying connected to her supporters, using feminine strengths to her advantage..." (again, she sounds like a modern day woman to me, not a Hebrew woman)
  • "how did Esther do it? And how can you emulate her success?" (i am not opposed to emulating Esther, but so far the premise seems to be on works alone. this troubles me more than anything!)
  • this "book...weaves together ancient wisdom and modern insights to provide inspiring, realistic, and above all practical strategies to help you become the queen you deserve to be." (we are a royal priesthood, a chosen nation, daughters of the King, but not by our "deserving" of it at all, simply by His grace and mercy)

i've probably made my point. that was just from the intro, i dread reading the rest of this book, but i will try to put aside my disgust and read objectively and critically. but if we are calling this a christian book and it extracts God from a Bible story, then aren't we just calling it christian to market it to christians? no where in the Bible do i read that we are to use gossip in any way (check out proverbs 18:8). it goes down to the inward parts of the belly. from my reading of scripture it is corrupting, not redeeming. why then would anyone laud it as a "biblical" strategy.

that makes me wonder, are these just secular writers marketing to christians. the imprint is rodale, their website took a gozillion years to load so i got too impatient and logged off it before i could check out their shtick but i just gotta know, what is the deal? is the Bible nothing more than a marketing tool?

i chose the book because i wanted to learn "what Queen Esther knew" but just from the intro/first chapter, i believe this is a wolf in sheep's clothing.

my dilemma, not your problem, of course, but feel free to offer your wisdom if you'd like--my dilemma is this then: how do i review it? honestly, of course, without question. and not until i've read the whole thing obviously, but i am struggling with having nothing good to say. the book is marketed as a business book. so my expecting "biblical wisdom" may be the problem. my preconceived notions of what would be in the book are most problematic, and i endeavor to separate myself from them and evaluate the book on the book's merits alone.

my mom asked an interesting question as i debated this dilemma with her, she asked, "who is your audience? who reads your reviews?" valid questions. i need to consider that. because if it is a christian looking for sound biblical wisdom, that is something i need to address in the review. if it is a christian looking for a business book with a christian slant, that is another thing entirely.

i think God is tired of being a marketing tool. i think His word is drug (i always make up tenses, apologies), through the mud when we take something from the Word of God (and the Word became Flesh and dwelt among us), and say, now here God, step aside and let me tell the people (using your implied blessing and favor because i am using the Bible after all) what i want them to hear--not what You have to say, because you see, i have to make a few bucks from book sales and Your Word isn't the kind of thing that makes for feel-good, get-ahead anything (unless of course i spice it up a bit).

all the while God looks down and weeps.

i can't sleep. i've got to wade through this book and try to render a "fair" or at least "graceful" review. i dread it. is this even a christian book? or is it just someone throwing a hook out there to see how many suckers they can catch. don't be one of them.

i visited the author's website and there is no indication she is a christian. in this modern day, when it is best not to admit to being a christian and potentially off-putting your target audience (which makes no sense to me) how can i be sure? the co-author has a famous last name but i couldn't find a website for her. so who knows what these ladies believe. and does that matter? is the author being reviewed or just the book? i would say just the book. but these are all things i am grappling with in trying to render a fair critique.


Thursday, August 12, 2004

the gift of laughter

my brother sent this to me. i threw my head back and laughed! i hope you enjoy it as much as i did.

btw, i am just learning how to use this photo blogging thing, so apologies for it being so small. just click on the image and it will enlarge. enjoy!

parenting mishaps


i must confess, this is how i feel as a parent many times. my best laid plans wreack havoc and present a whole new set of problems! praise God children are resilient, ducklings too. hey, that reminds me of a poem i wrote long ago. i'll share it here:

The Duckling

I have a little duckling
that waddles through my home
pit pat pit pat
her little feet
on the linoleum
pit pat all hours
of the night and day
pit pat pit pat
would the sound never go away
for ducklings grow
too soon take flight
from the shelter of the nest
away from me
and silence falls
just the memory
of little feet
pit pat pit pat
all throughout my home

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

fear-mongers

the discovery channel's shark week this year could have more accurately been called "fear week." between segments and shows, they had "fear facts" not shark facts, but fear facts. the music, the shtick of the whole week played into legendary Jaws fears.

i'm tired of it. i'm tired of being sold everythign from the christian gospel to clorox bleach based on fear. stop trying to scare me, just tell me why your product is better than the one i'm using and you'll probably win a customer. if you try to scare me, forget it. i'll go elsewhere.

i just caught a recent clorox commercial and it talked about body scum or something of that nature, and in an alien fashion showed the scum climbing up the clothes and attacking the wearer. yawn. next.

on MSNBC there is a series called "nature's nightmares." this particular episode was about "hornets from hell."
On Sunday, October 27, 2002, the world premier of "Hornets From Hell" had television viewers across North America on the edge of their seats. Presented as part of National Geographic Television & Film's popular Explorer series, the show was billed as "the bone-chilling tale of the Japanese giant hornet, a real-life monster." Given the dramatic and terrifying footage it contained, it was a film documentary that more than lived up to its advance billing.

while they are terrible creatures, and people have died from their stings and swarming, it didn't warrant the godzilla music in the background, and the screams laid in. literally, i kid you not, when the hornet would step down, a large drum would sound, step, bum, step, bum, step, bum---i think the film was made in some asian country, but still, come on! why the fear-based presentation?

i grow weary of everyone trying to scare me. i had a dear cousin marketing some au natural product, and the literature she gave me was frightening. i told her, if you want to sell me something, promote it logically, reasonably, and maybe, if you product is good, i'll give it a try. but try to scare me and i won't even consider your product. she didn't bother with me. i guess there are many others out there who respond to fear.

i mentioned christian gospels being peddled by fear, and i say that because i am reviewing a stack of books, among them, one which draws parallels between biblical end-time prophecy and america's stance on israel and the middle east. i would like to read a reasonable account presented in an objective manner, the author is a journalist so it doesn't seem unreasonable to want that. but i think journalism has gone the way of editorial pages. the news is slanted by the author's opinion and it makes for lowsy journalism, and even worse reading.

i won't comment on the book for now, i'm only half way through the first chapter, but it took twelve pages to get to the author's premise, the opening material was opinion upon unverifyable fact, upon more opinion and hype. no wonder christians are viewed as irrational and illogical. this book is under the new warner-faith label. are they really out to print quality christian literature, or just to make a sale? this book makes me think the latter. the acknowledgements are mostly a who's who at warner faith. it's sad really.

moral: write objectively unless your piece is clearly subjective.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

john 1:1 (love letters)

I yearn for some companion
Earthly friend
To tell my woe

I long for some loving company
Whose woes
I then can know

Yet in my yearning pensiveness
I find You
Waiting there

With letters so sweet
And lovely
Just for me.

You tell me of Your sacrifice
You share with me my sin

You cleanse my
Scarlet soul
Then love on me again

You wash away my
Bitterness, sadness,
Grief and doubt

In all of Your
Love Letters
I am who You write about.

Little lamb lost
You good Shepherd
Find me once again

In all of YourLove Letters
I am who You wrote about.


...a sing songy tune, not one i am inclined to write of late. i wrote this one before before this dark season began. what seems like a lifetime ago...

blogger has regressed to her old indiscretions and cannot handle formatting (go figure. maybe i just need to learn some html, hmm), so for now, i'll only share what can be rendered in left justification.

blessings!

Sunday, August 01, 2004

true fiction

a dream i had last night. it took two hours of solid typing, i tried to get it down in as much detail as i could, but as yet am unsure if i've done that. also, i have some ideas for jonah, chapter four, but i'm not done with it. so i'll post when i finish it. i've been mommy and wife the past few weeks and find myself just too busy to blog. blessings all!



His name was Erik Rodriguez. Why I remember him now, I do not know. I was sleeping soundly when his face, his memory, his name all came back to me. It has been years since I thought of him. I remember when we met, his sweet, young face, so innocent, so kind. He was in eighth grade; I was in seventh. It was long ago, I told you. I am a wife and mother now. So remembering all this is strange. It was like watching a movie on the screen of my mind.
He had a big bright smile, short wavy black hair; he was of medium height when I knew him. We talked on the phone many times before those school days ended and I lost track of him. But I remember him clearly now as if I had just seen him yesterday.
His eyes were dark brown, his build average. There was little outstanding about him except his good looks and kindness. We were all good looking back then, we were young, but I remember his kindness.
“Suzy.” he would call me.
“Suzy be good to yourself. Don’t let anyone take advantage of you,” he used to say.
Then we met Victor. He was a transfer student who arrived mid-year. Victor wore black and armbands. He was smaller than Erik was, in both build and stature. Victor’s hair was short. He didn’t have Erik’s natural ease with people, many misunderstood Victor, and perhaps that is why I took to him. Victor and Erik became fast friends. The three of us would hang out together after school and talk.
Slowly, over the remaining months of school, Erik and Victor began to grow closer. They knew each other well and I didn’t have much freedom then to be able to go off with them when they left campus. I saw and heard from them less and less. Finally, I began to wonder what was happening to Erik. Once a stunning, achieving student, now he was losing interest in schooling altogether. The kindness of his eyes began to fade and I missed him.
I began to wonder if Victor wasn’t the problem. I spoke to Erik on the phone a few times before the school year ended and I remember asking him, “What is going on? I don’t see you anymore?”
“Victor and me are hanging out, we’re just busy.”
“You know that I care about you, right?” I could feel him slipping away.
“Yes.”
“Please, Erik, don’t close me out.”
“I won’t.” In an unguarded moment, Erik made a promise he couldn’t keep.
I didn’t see him all summer. My life was crazy. My family was struggling. My parents separated and finally divorced. When I did return to school in the fall, Erik had graduated to high school. It was about two-and-a-half miles away, I had forgotten all about Erik. And I let myself forget for a long time.

One day, after school, Erik and Victor were in the park at our old meeting ground. Behind the large golden lion with its mouth open and teeth showing, and a water faucet sticking out beside a big red tongue. It had two green steps so you could bend your head into its mouth and drink. Just behind that lion, there was a set of picnic tables, four. Green. They were covered with markings about who hearted who and the latest bands. The tables were sheltered by a matching green canopy of metal. The city kindly painted the inside of this canopy white, which nicely offset the writing of who hearted whom.
“Hey, Erik. Victor.” I smiled, genuinely. I knew seeing them alive and together was better than not seeing them ever again. I missed them. I loved them. We were very loyal at that school. Friends, at least mine, were like family.
“Hey, Suzy.” They said almost in unison.
That was the last time I saw them. We didn’t have much to say. Their lives had changed; they were rooming together even though they were young. Erik had a stable home, so I found this news surprising. I was in the throes of a difficult home situation, so I couldn’t blame their choice of striking out on their own. It did seem strange to me, the sudden turn Erik’s life had taken. I made a mental note of it and prayed for the best.

It has been twenty years since I’ve thought of them. I still remember Erik’s beautiful face, the kindness of His eyes. A bittersweet memory—one I did not want to linger on long. I’ve been known to search out lost friends and have been saddened on more than one occasion that my instinct was right. The friendship was long cold and the friend no longer anyone I’d want to bear that label.
I had a strange stirring in my heart that I would meet up with Erik again, but I ignored it. I shuttled the kids to school. Today was the day I had to go to the mall and get that coat little Susie’s needed. Passing a Hallmark Store, sipping my mocha latte, not thinking of anyone in particular, and there he was. Erik was walking right toward me.
His hair was long and dread locked. It was a roughly styled and not kept very well. He was laughing and talking with some ordinary people walking beside him. His eyes met mine, and he looked away without recognition. When we came to the point of having to go around each other, I asked, “Is your name Erik?”
“It used to be.” His voice deep and strong.
I was puzzled by this response.
Erik continued, “It was Erik Borden.”
“Borden?” puzzled, I began to doubt myself. If he would just look me in the eyes, I’d know, but he was taller than me, he always had been. My heart began to see signs of a young man I’d known twenty years ago.
“Did you go to Macy?”
“Once.” He smiled and looked into my eyes.
“It’s me, Suzy.”
“Yes. I remember.”
We caught up on the details of life since that day in the park, twenty years ago. From what I could gather, Erik and Victor had gone to live in Hollywood. They spent some time under a bridge. They slept mostly during the day, and were not living together any longer.
At least Victor was out of the picture. Erik spoke with me as a stranger. There was no trust, how could there be after twenty years. I reached out to hug him and he obliged me. But I felt frightened after we touched. I went to get the kids from school and pushed the encounter from my memory. I didn’t even mention it to Dan, my husband. I was afraid he would not approve. Since I’d never see Erik again, I thought there was no harm in letting the encounter rest safely in my mind.

That was a year ago. The same scene replayed almost exactly. I had to go to the mall to pick up some uniform pieces for Susie’s school. I’d nearly finished the mocha latte when I turned toward a large waterfall, and there was Erik. I walked straight up to him this time. He handed me a flyer. His band was playing at a dive in Hollywood. We exchanged some pleasantries, and I walked away studying the flyer.
Could I make it to the gig? Would I try? I wasn’t certain. It seemed a crazy thought. I hadn’t been in nightclubs for years. I hadn’t been to Hollywood after hours since I was a teenager. Why would I go now? I folded the yellow flyer, slipped it into my pocket and finished my shopping.

At Gazzarri’s two nights later, I found myself searching for Erik in the dimly lit room. The opening band was already playing. The loud music assaulted my ears as I entered the room. There was a balcony, so after I made sure he was not on the first floor, I ascended the stairs. The opening band was made up of young, gaunt musicians. The drummer’s arms flailed wildly. Their melodies were catchy, but the lyrics were unintelligible. It had been years since I climbed these stairs. Twelve years, I believe. It had been a lifetime. In the small balcony, there were six small round tables, only large enough to hold drinks. The place was painted black, but it felt oppressive.
When the headliner, Erik’s band came on, I sat in the balcony. A cocktail waitress approached and asked if I wanted anything. She couldn’t have been over twenty. Scantily clad. Picking up cups and balancing a small round tray with a stack of white napkins and empty cups. I turned to see what Erik was playing.
On lead guitar, later in the night, Erik was introduced as Jimbawae. He played with his eyes closed, dreadlocks swinging side to side. He was a good guitarist. His riffs were eloquent. I didn’t care for the music though, it had a haunting sound. It was getting late, so I cut out as soon as the show ended. I didn’t think I’d ever see Erik again.

I woke up today, and had to go back to Hollywood. Erik was on my mind and I just knew I had to find him. I dropped the kids at school and headed up the 405 freeway. There is no easy way to get to Hollywood from my house. After winding down Sunset, through Beverly Hills, I stopped at Gazzarri’s. The place was empty except for a bartender cleaning glasses. It was early morning when I arrived, so I was surprised to find anyone there.
“Can I help you ma’am?”
“I hope so. Can you tell me where I can find Jimbawae? He played here last night.”
“Stan, you know where to find Jimbawae?” the bartender shouted to a man who appeared through a door painted black opposite the bar.
“Yeah, he takes pictures on the strip. Highland Avenue, I think.”
“Great! Thank you.” Appreciative, I went further down Sunset, to Highland Avenue.” I turned right and parked at a fenced public parking lot behind a two-story brick building.

Walking alone down Sunset was not something I had done, well, since yesterday. But before that, it had been a while. I used to come to Hollywood a lot when I was a teenager. I went to clubs with no age limit, visited friends who lived nearby. Not much had changed; it was still a dirty place. Why tourists flocked here, I don’t know.
I scanned the four corners of Highland and Sunset. Nothing. I turned and walked down Highland, toward my car, when I saw some commercial buildings down a ways. I went there. I found a small photo studio, and opened the door.
“Hello.”
“Yes, come in.” a female voice said.
“I’m looking for Jimbawae.”
“He is not here right now.” The voluptuous blonde receptionist said. The cigarette waggled up and down in her mouth as she spoke the words.
“Could you tell me when he will be in?”
She took a long drag, and looked at me before exhaling. She was sizing me up. Checking me out. It had been a long time since anyone had done that. “No.”
“Does he have set hours?”
“No.”
“Could I wait for him? Are you expecting him soon?”
“Sure.” She wasn’t specific about which question she was answering, and picked up the ringing phone.
I sat there for hours. My head ached from the smoke. Toward the end of my time there, I had to go out on the front sidewalk and breathe fresh air.
I glanced at my watch; I had an hour before I had to get Susie. I had to go. I couldn’t wait on Erik anymore. I drove home that day a tangle of concern and frustration. Why had I spent the day that way to begin with? Didn’t I have enough to do, to go sitting in a smoke-filled room for hours with someone who clearly detested me?
At dinner that night, I didn’t mention it, any of it. I began to wonder why this was happening. Why couldn’t I just forget Erik? Why me?

I didn’t go back to Hollywood for a couple weeks. There was just too much to do. But when I finally did, I sat there all day, breathing smoke, hoping he’d show up before I had to go get Susie.
The little photo studio was quite busy. All kinds of people coming and going. A handful of photographers seemed to work out of this place. I’d seen a few of them come and go. They were beginning to acknowledge me. The receptionist was still cool, although today she offered me a cup of coffee.
I went to get Susie and determined not to go back there again.

The next day I was sitting in the smoke-filled room trying to figure out what I would say when Erik arrived. Susie was over-nighting at a friend’s house, and Johnny was on a scout trip with Dad, so I could sit here all evening if I had to. It was Friday, maybe I’d get lucky. And I did.
Around 5:30 p.m., Erik, or Jimbawae, walked in. The bell jingled on the door, and he entered the room, dark dreads pulled back, black leather coat, black steel-toed boots with a silver ring, and jeans with tattered hems. He didn’t even pause as he entered, just pushed through into the studio in the back.
My heart beat fast. What was I doing here? Why hadn’t I told Dan I was coming? It was nearly time for them to close, and the receptionist, finally off the phone. Walked back to the studio Jimbawae entered, and drew the long black curtains behind her. She was gone for ten minutes, before emerging and signaling to me to come back.
My heart beat fast as I approached the doorway and reached out for the black curtain. I turned the corner to see Erik sitting on a couch smoking a cigarette.
“Hello.”
“Hi.”
“I don’t really know why I’m here.” I was honest to a fault.
Erik looked at me; his eyes were darker than I remembered them.
“I brought you something.” I searched my purse for the flower collage Susie had made for me in school yesterday.
“Come in, sit down.” He took a drag, and held it in for a long time.
I found the flower collage, pressed and sealed under clear contact paper. “My daughter made this. I thought you might like it.”
“You got kids,” he said as he let the smoke flow slowly out of his mouth unhindered.
“Yes, two.”
He took the collage from my hand as I sat on the couch beside him. I sank deep into the dirty brown couch. There was no support under me, I wasn’t sure if I leaned back if I’d be able to extract myself without Dan here to help me, so I perched on the edge with my handbag on my lap.
Erik eyed me. He looked at the flowers. He eyed me again. “What are you doing here?”
“I don’t know.” Was it too late to be concerned for a friend? Was this person still, technically my friend after two name changes? “Why do they call you Jimbawae?”
“My spirit name.”
“Spirit name?”
“Yes. My guide named me.”
“May I still call you Erik?” I wasn’t sure why I was asking this.
“Sure.” He finished his smoke and shot it across the room, where it lay in the middle of the floor and burned out.
“Erik.”
“Yeah.”
“What happened to you?”
The silence was oppressive. I could feel the heaviness of his breathing. The rhythmic sound of his finger tapping on the couch. As if he were contemplating his answer.
“I remember you from all those years ago, and you were so kind to me. Your smile was so bright.” I spoke abruptly, filling the emptiness.
“That was lifetimes ago.”
“I heard your band play a few weeks ago.”
“Yeah?” He seemed uninterested.
“At Gazzarri’s”
“Listen. I got things to do. Is there something I can do for you?”
“Erik. Look at me.”
He turned and his dark eyes pierced my soul.
“Erik. I don’t know why I am here, but I miss you. I’ve missed your friendship all these years.”
“You didn’t miss much.”
“Really. I don’t know why I am here, except to tell you that.” I rose to leave.
Jimbawae, or Erik, rose with me.
“Thanks. That’s nice.”
I turned and looked into his eyes. “Don’t give up on hope Erik.”
“Hope. Yeah right.” His face was deadpan. I couldn’t read any expression or emotion on it.
“Hope.” It was getting late, but I wasn’t sure if I’d ever see him again.
“Hope. What has hope done for me?” Erik pulled out a pack of cigarettes and lit up.
“I don’t know what has happened in your life. But I wanted you to know I still care.”
He took a long drag.
“I wanted you to know that I am still your friend, if you need one.”
He walked to the black curtains and pulled them aside with one hand.
I stepped through, it seemed everyone else had left. It was dark outside and I felt a sudden chill.
“Erik.”
“Yeah.”
“Do you remember our long talks?”
“Yeah.”
“I love you.”
At the word love, something snapped in Erik and he wound up and hit me. Slapped me clean across the face. I threw my purse to the floor and hit the wall with the power of the strike.
Weeping, I grabbed my face, and kneeled on the ground to get my equilibrium right. I reached for my purse, and Erik slunk to the floor, and sat beside me. A blank stare on his face.
“Why did you say that?” He asked.
“Because it’s true. Can’t a person love another person? Is it a crime?”
At the word love, Erik pushed me so hard, I hit my head on the wall and fell to the ground.
“There is no such thing.”
On the floor, I could only weep as I listened.
“It has never been there for me. It has never helped me. It has never looked kindly upon me. All I’ve been given was pain and misery. Lies and deceit. When I believed it, so long ago, I was a fool. You were a fool to believe it then, and you’re a fool to believe it now. Look what it has done for you? Do you know what I could do to you? Do you know how I could hurt you?”
“Erik—” I began, weakly.
“—Jimbawae!” Erik’s voice was deep and cruel.
“Jimbawae,” I began. Weeping with each word. “I love you.”
He punched clear through the wall that time.
“I love you.” He didn’t move that time. “I love you.” Still he sat, frozen.
“Why should I believe you?” His voice began to soften.
“Because I am here. I am telling you. I love you. I am your friend and always have been.” Tears clouded my vision; pain throbbed in my head. What was I doing?
Rising up on two hands, I turned toward Erik. He avoided my gaze, until I said it again. “I love you.”
His eyes softened and some of the young man I once knew began to shine through. “Do you remember me?”
“Yes.” He looked at the floor, as tears dripped from his eyes.
“I am sorry for the way your life has turned out, but know that Love and Hope are real. You can have them.”
Just then, the door chimed and in walked two of the scraggly characters.
Erik helped me up and hugged me close as he walked me to my car.
“Don’t come back here.” He said.
“I can’t promise that. I am your friend.” I was frightened, but recognized the Erik I once knew in his warning.
We hugged. I started up my car, and Erik, my friend, walked back into the photo studio.