Thursday, March 19, 2015

She ordered a scrambled egg plate with a side of bacon but did not eat it. She stared hard at her plate like she was afraid to look up. Her light blue eyes were almost lost within the dark, sleepless circles surrounding them. "HEY did you hear me?!" The table shook as he lurched forward violently, making her flinch and stare even more intently at her eggs. "I'm talking to you. You LISTEN to me when I'm talking to you," he hissed. Even from across the counter at O'Harley's, Yesu could see the man's body shaking with a disturbing amount of rage and testosterone. "Yes, I hear you," she muttered. "Goddamn, I feed you and put a fucking roof over your head and you won't even acknowledge me when I talk to you?! You just think you're a little princess that can do whatever the hell you want. Fucking whore, that's all you are" He was inches away from her face, practically spitting in it. Yesu could see innocence, pain, fear, heartbreak and hopelessness raging storms within those soft, gentle eyes. They were the eyes of a person who had once known God, but lost faith that he could ever be real because of the horrors they had faced. It physically pained Yesu to look into those eyes because he saw a reflection of his mother and his 7-year-old self. He saw his sweet little Uma's heart break as she watched her husband go through raging fits of withdrawal. He saw the fear and vulnerability in himself as a young boy. The young boy who couldn't understand the psychotic episodes he witnessed from his father, the man who was supposed to protect him and comfort him.
The man flung his napkin onto the table and stormed towards the bathroom. Her eyes were still glued to the plate. She brushed a lock of soft blond hair out of her face and tucked it behind her ear, revealing dark purple bruise on her neck that contrasted terribly against her pale skin. Yesu felt his stomach drop and he looked towards the men's room with anger and contempt that had been building up for over 40 years. But then he looked back at the table to see her biting her lip and furrowing her brows like she was pondering whether or not she had the strength to get up and walk right out of the diner. He wanted to see her smile so badly. So instead of handling the man like he deserved, Yesu touched the woman on the shoulder. "I can help you. Come with me, I'll take you behind the counter, out of sight and call the police. Hurry."

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Ready to go home and collapse into bed after a 9 hour shift at O'Harley's, Yesu trudged out of the restaurant. However, his plans immediately got put hold as soon as he looked up to see the most terrifying thing he had ever seen in his whole life. Across the street, on the side of the coffee shop, giant spray painted letters spelled out "YESU IS A KIDNAPPER AND IF YOU WANT TO SEE, GO TO APARTMENT 413." Yesu didn't even stop to think about who might have done this or how they could have possibly known his secret, he just knew he had to get back to apartment 413 and cover up the evidence before the police saw this and came after him. Even though his body was running empty on energy, the fear of getting caught sent adrenaline coursing through his body as he ran towards Dreamwood Terrace. As he ran, he started to sense that the blue Subaru behind him was following him. It seemed to match his pace and never pass him. The windows were tinted. It could very easily be undercover cops, he definitely looked suspicious running so quickly down the street. Yesu ducked into the nearest alley way and peered around the corner to see if the suspicious car had stopped. No, it kept on going. He then saw a tiny woman with crazy eyes running at lightning speed looking over her shoulder at the suspicious Subaru. She looked familiar, Yesu remembered he had seen her several times in the lobby with a bird on her shoulder. She looked decently content when he had seen her but now her whole face was stricken with fear. Yesu wondered if anybody could possibly be in a worse situation right now than he was. 

Growing increasingly worried every second, Yesu flung open the door to apartment 413 and struggled to quickly get through the high security system he had set up. His patients already had their feet and hands bound with thick rope, like slaves captured in Africa being taken on a ship to America. He shoved wads of toilet paper in their mouths so he didn't have to bear their screams. He was prepared for an event like this. He had a small borrow cut into the floor, hidden by a trap door with a rug over it. Hastily he pushed them into the borrow, trying not to hurt them in the process. Four of them in there looked like canned sardines crammed together on top of each other. However there was one sardine left that wouldn't fit and no other can. That was Jedediah, the sniper who was just too large and bulky to squeeze in. Yesu wracked his brain for alternatives as dread swallowed him whole. There were no alternatives. No good alternatives, that is. He slowly went to grab a cutting knife from the kitchen, in disbelief that it had come this point. Kneeling over his patient, he squeezed his eyes shut and tried to escape to one of those quiet, peaceful summer nights in North Korea as a boy. "Forgive me Father for I have sinned." He plunged the knife straight into Jedediah's heart.

Five minutes later there was a harsh rapping at the front door and a "Police. Open up," coming from a voice that meant business. Jedediah was now safely in the bathtub with the curtain drawn shut. The police would never look in there. Another 10 minutes later and Yesu was clear. The police apologized for the disturbance and he saw them out. After sitting down and praying for a few minutes, Yesu collected himself and let his four remaining patients out of the hiding spot. He headed for the bar, he needed to clear his mind. Since he was from a family with a history of drug addiction, though, Yesu cleared his mind with a good meal, not a scotch. He sat down at the bar and put his head in his hands, silently trying to pray away all the problems he had. 
"Hey, you're the guy from the laundry mat!" a bright voice said suddenly. Yesu didn't look up or say anything, he was too overwhelmed to say anything. "Remember? I helped you clean up the laundry detergent you spilled?" The voice was silent for a few moments. "Are you... are you ok?"
"Yes, I'm fine," Yesu lied, in a tone that was somewhere between annoyed and defeated. 
"Do you want to talk about it? I mean, I'm a decent listener, I could try and help you."
Yesu rose up quickly and cut him off. No! You can't help me, NO ONE can help me!"

Friday, January 30, 2015

Yesu shuffled around the corner of Dreamwood Terrace to Sunnyside Up Diner. He didn't have enough time to make food for his four "patients" in apartment 413 before his early morning shift at O'Harley's so he decided to bring them back some eggs and bacon. Besides, they had been making a surprising amount of progress this week so he figured they deserved a treat. Yesu called them his "patients" because he was fixing them. Just like a doctor would fix their patients' physical illnesses, Yesu would fix their mental illnesses. He would teach them to know God and teach them the error of their ways. Yesu made a mental note to order a special side of sausage for his patient that had been making the most progress recently. Jedediah, as Yesu had named him, was an ex-sniper for the United States military who had killed over 200 people during his service. Yesu gave all of his patients biblical names to strengthen their tie to Christianity and remind them of God's word. Jedediah, meaning "God's friend," was given to this man of war because he needed to make friends, not enemies. To Yesu, war was one of the worst sins of all. God did not make man so that they could destroy each other in pointless bloodshed.

The Diner was vacant except for one man sitting at the far end of the bar with his head down over a cup of black coffee. He looked young, yet darkness sunk his eyes and wrinkles were carved into his forehead. He was lost in his thoughts, staring at his coffee, and didn't seem to notice when Yesu sat down and ordered his four to-go meals. Silence weighed down the room for the next several minutes and Yesu pondered whether or not to say something to the man. He hated to see people who looked lost and alone. They were usually people who did not know God.
"What brings you here so early?"
As if he didn't believe he'd been spoken to, the man looked up hesitantly at Yesu.
Ahh-umm I don't know, honestly," he admitted with a slight smile appearing on his face. "I guess I just couldn't sleep. What about you?"
"Just grabbing some breakfast before I go to work at O'Harley's. I live around the corner in Dreamwood Terrace so I come here often for breakfast. I've never seen you here before, though. Did you just move here?," Yesu said, happy he could engage the man.
"Oh that's my place too. But yeah, I just moved in recently."
"How are you liking it so far?"
The man was quiet for a moment. "Well... you know, I'm still adjusting. It's a process. Coming back after serving from so long has been harder than I ever expected." The worried look returned to his face.
"Serving in what?" Yesu asked, confused.
"The army. It's just that I've changed more than I can understand. I've seen so much more than I can wrap my head around. It's not that I regret serving, it's just when you meet so many people and watch every single one of them die, it... it changes the way you look at the world."
As the man finished his sentence, the waitress put four to-go boxes down in front of Yesu. Yesu stood and was silent for a moment, unsure of how to close a conversation abruptly after such personal information had been shared. "It was nice talking to you," Yesu smiled while locking gazes with the man. He wasn't sure if it was doubt or gratitude that he saw in the man's eyes.

As Yesu walked out, he thought maybe people who served in the military weren't as bad as he originally perceived them to be. The man in the diner wasn't evil, he didn't need to be cured or healed. He just needed to be loved.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Insanity was taking over Yesu. He had been working nearly 24/7 for the past three days in order to make the rent for apartment 413, his "storage space" as he told the landlord of Dreamwood Terrace. Only giving himself enough time off to sleep, Yesu had not prayed in exactly 35 hours. Without the calming and euphoric effects he got from his prayers, he was shaking and mentally hyperventilating, kind of like a drug addict going through withdrawal. After his shift and before he went home to sleep, Yesu HAD to get a load of laundry done as he was almost completely out of clean clothes. His wardrobe consisted of a limited amount of loose cloth pants and robes with asian inspired prints. He grabbed his basket of dirty clothes from the apartment and briskly walked to the laundry mat. With dark storms raging in his mind, he didn't notice the open bottle of detergent on top of the washing machine and accidentally knocked it onto the floor. Blue liquid oozed out and only seconds after Yesu dropped to the floor to  clean up the mess, a man swooped in and said "here let me help you out with that." Even more mentally distraught now with this mess, Yesu couldn't form words so he just put his head down and vigorously rubbed at the floor with a towel. The man looked up at Yesu with a kind smile on his face as he wiped at the floor. "I'm Charlie," he encouraged. Instead of replying with his name, Yesu thanked the man. This was partly because he rarely experienced Americans display random acts of kindness, but mostly because help cleaning up the mess would help get him home sooner. Maybe he could sneak in a quick prayer before he went to sleep. With limited further interaction with the man, Yesu hurried out of laundry mat.

As he walked back to Dreamwood Terrace, a well dressed man walked even more briskly in front of him. Like Yesu, the man seemed distraught. He kept looking over his shoulder suspiciously at Yesu. A drug addict. Yesu knew the symptoms of withdrawal all too well. His father had been a cocaine addict from before Yesu could even remember to the day he died of an overdose when Yesu was 15. The way this man clenched his face in his hands and shook his head as if to convince himself he hadn't seen a ghost reminded Yesu of his father when he would run out of money to spend on the magic white powder. It reminded him of the "Appa (Dad) where were you?" and the silent, distant glares like he didn't recognize his own son. Yes, drug addicts are sinful. But Yesu couldn't save them: he didn't want to be drowned by the flood of memories they brought him nor should he even bother with them. They couldn't be saved; Yesu knew that firsthand.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Yesu finished his five hour, late night shift working the kitchen at O'Harley's at 2 AM and left the restaurant with a subtle smile on his face. Unlike the rest of his co-workers, who groaned and slouched over while working the night shift, Yesu actually enjoyed it. He felt more peaceful at night. Especially on nights like this where it was unusually warm for winter. Warm, humid nights reminded him of his childhood in Sepo, North Korea, where he would sleep in the hammock on the screened porch of his parent's house and the sounds of the tree frogs would lull him to sleep. What Yesu missed most about North Korea was his Uma or his mother. His Uma was a very religious woman and would read the Bible and teach him the ways of Christianity in secret even though religion was very strictly controlled by the North Korean government.

He loved his Uma dearly, but thought of her more as a foster mother. Yesu's real mother was the Virgin Mary, he believed it with every ounce of his being. From the time that he was a young boy and his mother was just starting to teach him about the Bible, Yesu felt a strange and overpowering sense of nostalgia for the stories being told in the new testament and an uncontainable connection to Mary. The type of connection only a child has to their mother, an internal and unexplainable one that is controlled by only the forces of nature. The more Yesu read and learned about Jesus, the more he believed he was him reincarnated. Yesu was born Kwan Myongo but had secretly called himself Yesu, meaning Jesus in Korean, since he was seven years old. The boundaries of religion under the Democratic People's Republic government in North Korea were suffocating Yesu. He wanted to embrace his true identity to its fullest extent and carry out his prophecy, which is why he smuggled himself out of heavily restricted Korea and into America when he was 25 on a cargo ship carrying potatoes. Quickly after arriving in "the land of the free," Yesu realized that fulfilling your potential was much harder in this country than it appeared to be in all the stories he heard. People thought he was utterly deranged for believing he was Jesus and wouldn't give him the time of day. He yearned to fix broken people, bring meaning and light to their lives like God wanted him to. The people of America certainly needed it. They were a godless group who chased after money and status like a pack of vicious, hungry animals. After years of failing to get through to anyone, Yesu realized something. The people rarely came to Jesus, Jesus had to come to the people to make them realize the errors of their ways. What Yesu saw next would be the perfect opportunity to do this.

As he started walking down Boulevard Ave. towards Main Street, Yesu heard groaning noises coming from the alley way between O'Harley's and the YMCA. He peered around the corner of the alley and saw the shadow of a person huddled over in the fetal position and a dark figure running in the opposite direction. Simultaneously, a bright light came flashing from above and Yesu looked up into the sky. Dazzling beams of light shot through the sky and filled the darkness. It was a meteor shower. It was a sign from the father. He was saying "Go. Go chase after him." Yesu thought no longer and quickly ran after the mysterious person. The burglar swung around the corner of the YMCA and as Yesu did the same about 15 seconds later, the man was already at the top of a massive chain linked fence that cut off the alley from the street. As the man hopped to the ground and ran down the street, Yesu angrily kicked a bag of trash. Issues with his hip prevented him from being able to climb the fence. Yesu wish he was as fast and powerful as the meteor shower. If he was, he would easily have been able to take that criminal down, knock him out, bring him back to apartment 413 and put him in the barred room with all the others.  

Friday, December 19, 2014

The day really started at 6:00 PM for Yesu because he didn't feel alive until his routine nightly prayer. “In the name of the Holy spirit, Amen.” Yesu rose slowly from his knees, still overpowered by the intense emotions and thoughts that pulsed through his veins. His routine evening prayer must have lasted longer than he expected because the sun had set and everything was dark. Now the only light came from the glowing full moon, which cast long shadows through the only window in Yesu’s small apartment living room. The whole room, in fact the whole apartment was filled with paintings, portraits, sketches and magazine clippings of the Virgin Mary, Heaven and any biblical scene imaginable. Yesu gently traced his fingers over the largest painting in the living room, one of Mary with her arms outstretched. “Don’t worry mother, I’m not letting you down. I’m trying my best, I really am,” he murmured. Drained both emotionally and physically, Yesu decided it was time for a hot cup of tea to counteract the bitterly cold and foggy weather that was occurring outside. Yesu flipped on the kitchen lights and started to boil a kettle of water.

All of a sudden, Yesu heard a loud, thumping, mechanical noise and then what sounded like a dying engine as the entire room was flooded with darkness. The power had gone out and left Dreamwood Terrace a peaceful and sleepy silent. However, Yesu’s mind flooded with panic, all he could think was “what if they got out?” Yesu grabbed the keys to apartment 413 and flew down the hallway and down the fire escape stairs. He fumbled to put the keys in the lock and flung open the door. He edged down the narrow hall that led to the bedroom, prepared for anything. He pressed his ear against the door. Silence. After unlocking the rickety wooden door, he peaked through the bars of the heavy, cast-iron door concealed behind it. A wave of relief washed over him when he saw them sleeping on the floor, huddled over in separate corners. The bars were still tightly screwed onto the window, so dense that they suffocated almost all moonlight before it could reach the floor. Yesu locked the ramshackle wooden door and sank down to the floor with his back pressed against it. He took the wooden rosary that he kept at all times out of his pocket and clasped it against his chest. He squeezed his eyes shut and whispered “Thank you father for guiding me on my mission. I am not only your son, but your servant.”