Mark M

Jesus Is A Blue Flame

When I first moved to LA I worked ‘One Day’ at a Christmas Tree Lot. There were several reasons why I didn't continue, foremost being that I don’t like getting Dirty, but the other was that the Lot Manager believed in Managing by Duress & Ridicule.

You know the type... they are decent, hard working men but feel they have to test to see if you have the ‘Measure of a Man’. (I just wanted to do the work... not pass the test.)

During my One Day stint I met this very cool Kid, early 20's. We had an unspoken Respect for one another the moment we met. He understood my discomfort with this manager and immediately looked to Shield & Protect me and show me the ropes. He taught me how to tie a tree onto a car roof.

To this day I cannot remember his name but I remember being very impressed with his Character & Integrity. He was good looking, long, lean, dark hair, a causal demeanor and  a genuine smile. He hold told me about his girlfriend, his future plans of Work & School and his strong faith in Christ. (This was most impressive.) He truly believed in ‘Helping’ and ‘Caring’ for people. (Unusual in today's youth, Right?)

I remember thinking I really like this guy, we are sure to be long term friends.

The next morning the more I thought about Duress & Ridicule the more anxious I felt so I opted to leave that situation. I went to the lot and returned my new Work Gloves & Tree Trimmers. I didn't get to see The Kid again... (or say good-bye.) About 3 months later I was sitting in a coffee shop reading the paper and in walks The Kid. Same good looks, same genuine smile, same demeanor of care. We talked for a while and we both agreed that we needed to see each other again. But (of course) we did not exchange information; time goes by... (and moves on.)

I started work at Sevilla and my Life moved into different Orbits & Cycles. I read the paper everyday; there was a 2 or 3 day story that I found to be disturbing, moving and oddly curious.

There are many remote areas in the hills of Santa Barbara and surrounding areas. These back country regions provide havens for communal people, earthy types and general escapists. That's cool... (sometimes I seek the same Solace.) The story was about one of these rural homes that had been rented to a young man & his dog. For some reason (later to be discovered) there had been an explosion. It happened in the afternoon while the young man was sleeping. The story described how the man had dove out a window after the explosion had happened.

He was burned (severely) more than 70% of his body, after diving out the window he was totally disoriented. He wandered up a trail to a field some half mile away. All the while his dog followed -closely- behind staying by his side the entire time. He was found an hour later and rushed to the hospital in critical condition.

There were several follow up stories speculating attempted suicide (with a propane tank?) to irregularities in housing Standards & Regulations. It turned out the owners were at fault and legal actions were to ensue. They talked a bit about the young man's condition (but more about the dog). I remember finding it sad how little was said about this man after day 3 or 4... I also remember feeling really disturbed about how abrupt that Explosion Experience must have been for him. (I mean... he was asleep.)

About 3 months ago I was sitting in the same coffee shop... and in walks The Kid... again. Different though... same genuine smile (there was no mistaking that) but I have to say it took me a good minute or two to resister who that smile belonged to.

The Scars of his Reality were apparent. His nose & ears were reconstructed (gone.) His fingers had basically melted away and skin graphs could be seen on any flesh that was visible. (A horrible sight). It took me a minute to resister the character... (another minute or two to adjust to the visual.)

He was amazingly Affable. (I was incredibly uncomfortable.) I asked him to sit down. We began with a few minutes of space filling small talk and catch up conversation. Me at Sevilla (and such). All the while my mind was spinning because I was looking (and trying not to look) at his destroyed Body & Face. Thinking to myself, Do I just ask what happened? Do I simply act as if it isn't an issue? (What?)

I felt stupid, awkward... and oddly removed. It was just Awful. He was such a Good Looking Kid! After sputtering my space filling stuff, the conversation came to his past 6 months. He went right into the Explosion Experience. I was Amazed. I told him I had read the story (all of them) and had absorbed every detail. It was him. I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around this. (It was him.) The afternoon of the explosion he was laying in bed napping. He woke up to a feeling that there was someone in his house. He stood up and saw a Wall of Flame coming directly at him.

In that exact moment he uttered, ‘Jesus!’ Because the fire was upon him the word he uttered came out in a Blue Flame. He was breathing and speaking Fire.

I listened to him speak... and my body went weak. Again I was Dumfounded Awkward & so Uneasy that I simply did not know what to say or do. It's weird but I couldn't be consoling or cool when so Uncomfortable. I simply told him that I was glad to see that he had recovered so well, that we must get together (although I work a lot) and I'll see you. And there I went... (feeling like a disoriented coward) ... as I fled his obvious loneliness and my fear of his realities.

The rest of that day I just could not believe how deeply effected I was by this all. Him, Me, Life... Actuality-Reality. That night at work I told every one the story. We all seemed to react somewhat the same way. Dismayed, Saddened, Fearful.... (move away.) I thought of him a lot.

I recently did some work with a very cool female photographer in Downtown Los Angeles. (Alisa). We had talked over the phone several times prior to our meeting. She had explained to me how she was in an accident and therefore, walked with a cane. (I figured a car accident.)

She was wonderful... (such character!) She used to be a Stunt Woman! It turns out her accident was a camping accident. She had bought a new thermo sleeping bag for the trip. Somehow it caught fire when she was in it and she was severely burnt on her feet, and it destroyed most of her right arm & hand. She was in intensive care for month’s. While recovering she had a stroke. More months in intensive care. (wow)

She said the most disturbing thing about the stroke was she could no longer string her thoughts together. That she would forget whole episodes of her life. That if a Dick & Jane book were placed before her she simply couldn't figure out what it said. (Although she knew she should know.)

Her life changed so dramatically... (so quickly)... there I was Dumbfounded. (Again!) Here's what got me the most. We were driving in her car back to mine and talking about her Life her Experiences her Future and she said , ‘you know Mark, all of this physical stuff is bad enough but the worst thing is, most of my friends have left.’ I thought & said (in my dumbfounded swirl) ‘well I'm sure your TRUE friends have stayed by your side.’

‘No I was a good judge of character, they were good friends. They left because no one wants to be near... or reminded of…Frankenstein.’ I Shivered, because I thought about how beautiful she was, then I thought of The Kid, and no matter how much I hated that Awful Truth, spoken so matter of factly, almost eloquently from Alisa... it was true.

I didn't know how to be near it. I didn't want to be near it. (I couldn't be near it.)

It (?) Isn't that awful? I mean Them

And if I did stay near Them, say out of guilt, it would be Contrived, Forced... and even more Uncomfortable. (For every one.) Here's the kicker...3 days ago I was at Trader Joe's buying my dinner for the night. I had just finished working out, my mind was full of silly little life worries that don't really amount to much of anything. I walk out the door with my arms full of groceries and who do I run into? You've got it... The Kid.

I say ‘Hey... what are you doing?’ ‘Well he says, still smiling (but all Genuine Essence gone) I'm homeless.’ I'm shocked and say, ‘aren't they taking care of you? What about the lawsuit? The Settlement?’ ‘Yeah... he says, that... it's all in the works.’ He went on & on about many different babbling things (I couldn't register any of it.) I was shocked, stunned, numb (dumbfounded) by all the implications of that moment... he had literally gone crazy. It was evident his mind was gone. I believe he was on drugs as well. 

I gave him what money I had on me, looked him in the eyes deeply (with a little less cowardess in my demeanor) and told him what I Beautiful Person I had always thought him to be... (and said good-bye.)

I went to my car, closed the door, turned on the engine, turned off the radio... and Cried. Who I ‘Cried’ for I honestly can't tell you. I'm still working that out.
 Actuality & Reality.
I wish I had hugged him.

(but I couldn't)

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