I guess you can call it “dipping.” At least that’s what Master Song Lu calls it. “Dipping.” One’s ability to go down unseen into the subconscious mind of the universe and “see” what goes on underneath. While others talk of the supernatural as if it were something crazy and evil… I was learning the tricks of getting into the whole of those mysteries.

I remember the first time that I met Master Song Lu. I was visiting Teddy at his dojo. Master Lu had been the guest instructor that day, as it was the yearly open house. We walked in on him going one-on-one with Teddy’s sensei: Master Cho. He was a black belt in several martial arts forms and was being man-handled like a little girl. Master Song Lu says he is no martial arts expert, he only dabbles a little in Aikido… He says. But that day, he was in “the zone.” He says that when you are in that special place – you can see everything that is happening around you before it happens…

At least that is how it was described to me.

Though I was not a member of Teddy’s dojo during the open house, they were having what they call an “open floor”, and everyone was invited to spar with anyone else. When we arrived, everyone was watching in rapt attention at the performance before us. No one noticed us, except Master Song Lu. As we were walking in, he was watching the door, still sparing with Teddy’s instructor. We caught eyes for the briefest of seconds.

Cho was on the mat in two swift moves.

“Dayum!” Teddy hollered, pounding me on the back. “I told you he was good.”

Master Cho, exhausted after the combat, but a good sport, hopped to his feet, smiled at Master Song, bowed and pronounced him the winner. Master Cho and Master Song Lu walked over to Teddy and me. Song Lu, was barely five feet and Master Cho, almost six and a half. The other students and visitors took the time to talk and get water or Gatorade. It was the four of us in a crowded room, but the massive vibe that the little man put out made you feel like you were alone with him in the Gobi Desert.

“Ah, Teddy” Master Cho said, “Glad you came. I just got my ass handed to me by this Nip.”

“Be careful” said Master Song Lu, “I am only half Japanese. The other parts of me are even worse.”

They laughed. I had expected Master Cho to be stuffy and formal, but I see now that his informality was the reason that Teddy kept coming back here. He was pretty cool.

“Hi, I’m Flick” I said. I stuck out my hand at Master Cho. Gripping it with the firmest handshake in North America, he pumped it twice and threw my arm back at me as if he were a dog and had found my arm to be an unsatisfactory bone.

“Master Cho” he said. “And this is Master Song Lu.”

“Greetings Flick.” he said, and gave a slight nod of his head.

“Song Lu, show Teddy what you showed me.” said Master Cho, still rubbing his wrist from where Song Lu had grabbed him.

“Ah. Certainly, if you would like.” Master Lu smiled.

“Er. Yeah, prolly gonna hand mah ass to me, but what the hey.” Teddy said, popped his shoes off and began stretching.

Teddy and Master Song Lu squared off in the middle of the floor. They bowed to each other. Teddy took the Universal Stance, not understanding how to best defend against the style of Master Song Lu, and not really knowing if there was a defense at all.

Master Song stood, not in a stance, and almost seemed asleep on his feet. He didn’t sway, but if you asked me later if I had thought he had – I would have said yes. He was in such a state of peace that you could feel the room melt off of him like butter. Neither one moved for several seconds. Teddy shifted weight a couple of times, trying to throw off Master Song’s zen, but to no avail. Master Song Lu did not move.

Suddenly with a flurry of hand flails, Teddy stomped his foot but it was a feint. He stopped short of Master Song by inches and leaped away. The balk was a test.

Master Song Lu still had not moved. Teddy changed to the Renoji-dach stance, back foot sideways, holding most of his weight and front foot out ready for a defensive kick. He was ready… But not for what happened next.

In the deep time of the cosmos, the eons that pass over and wash the skies clean of stars every morning, there is a longing, a thirst, a hunger for the push of anything countable. In the spaces that men know, the moments that we hold of value and the seconds that make up our minutes, there is the fallacy that we call this “time”. Time is an uncounted thing, a large rough beast that comes in unwanted and unheeded to our lives and tramples us to dust, nonresistant to our pleas and supplications. A distant and angry god, not to be ignored.

And what happened to Teddy could have only been explained by me stating this concept to you now. For it was as if time itself had bowed low to Song Lu and begged his forgiveness for getting in his way. Time had taken leave of its senses and allowed Master Lu to persuade it of something that it was reticent to allow. In one brief millionth of a second Master Song Lu was on one side of the mat, facing Teddy with his hands by his side. And in the other part of that millionth of a second he was behind Teddy, flipping him over his knee in a take-down. Wham!  Elbow to the gut, chop to the neck, flat of the arm against the bicep with a slap, then a leap away. It wasn’t even a terrific leap, rather average and dull in comparison.

Maybe because he hadn’t moved to him the way I thought he had. He had simply materialized behind him. Like Nightcrawler from the X-Men, he had been in one place, in one second, and in another place inside of the same second. Except in this case, there was no large plume of black smoke. How on earth was that possible?

Teddy had hit the mat with an “Oommph!” and allowed himself to be taken down, but I am sure that the confusion of the whole matter allowed him to be on the ground longer than it should have. He got up with a shake of the head. See? What did I tell you? his face smiled and told us.

Master Song was around the same spot that he had been moments before, and bowed to Teddy. “Oh yeah.” Teddy let out. He had been so put off, he had forgotten his manners in the confusion. “Yer turn buddy.”

A startled Cho interrupted him. “Oops! Real quick, let’s get him some forms.” Master Cho hopped around the door into his office. Like most modern Dojo’s, the office was just a tiny area off to the side of the large open room, where the action happened. Mats adorned the floor all around, some square but most round. The largest square one was in the approximate shape of a boxing ring. “That’s for the Muay Thai Kali guys. They’re nuts, but we share the studio with them. They meet on the days that we don’t.”

Master Lu had made his way over to us as Master Cho was looking for the forms. He was a small man with a large white blouse, and loose fitting black pants. He was smiling at me. “You are ready?” He extended his hand as if the greeting we had earlier hadn’t happened.

“Ah, yeah. Can’t wait.” I said, and extended my hand. His grip was light, almost like a woman’s, and yet, you knew you were being held. He didn’t shake it really, just held it.

“You have an inner glow.” he said, “A Strength. People have told you this?” He asked me.

“Uh, not in so many words. My mom loves me I guess.” I said, Teddy laughed. Master Song Lu smiled and winked.

“Love is not to be trifled with.” he said.

“Here they are!” Master Cho had arrived from his office in a flurry of loose-leaf madness. Pen in hand like a flaming sword, he pressed it into mine and had me sign the release forms guaranteeing that if I died or was seriously injured, I would not sue the Dojo for every last penny.

I signed, took my shoes off, and squared off with Master Song Lu. Was I stupid or was there something larger at work here than just betting on me getting my ass beat?

We bowed and began.

That was fourteen years ago, if I recall. He had let me dance around him for a while in the ring. Much longer than Cho or Teddy. I didn’t have any formal training, just the YMCA boxing league from when I was a kid. But he acted like a beginner. With a smile and his hands he beckoned me to attack, but then when I did it felt like he wasn’t really there. It was like he was not really even trying. I couldn’t really be angry. Aikido or no Aikido, it was unique. I would punch or kick and the people in the Dojo would applaud half-heartedly, but their hearts weren’t in it.

The longer this lasted, the more I began to question it. Not understanding why Master Song Lu was toying with me like that, I became more and more fierce. The longer the fight lasted, the bolder I became. Pretty soon I was attacking him insane full force, and he was blocking and dodging everything.

I knew I was connecting with him from time to time. A solid connection would land, but as soon as my fist or foot would find contact, it would kind of slide off to the side. I thought I did, but I never actually “landed” anything head on, and so he never really was “hit”. Around ten minutes into it I was winded from all the “fighting.” Hands on knees, I stood there panting, starting to drip from the sweat. He stood over me with his hands behind his back, bowed slightly, smiled and asked: “Ready to begin?”

I shouldn’t have, but I nodded ‘yes’ and went after him.

At the thirty minute mark, he finally put me down on the mat. I was a sweaty red mess of exhaustion. He was pristine. He winked at me, bowed to the crowd and left. Teddy drove me home in silence. Even he didn’t know what to make of it all.

They say that the woman who first dreamt up the idea for the new path of Shinto had a dream from Konjin himself… Calling him the Kami that would restore the world. She built the Oomoto sect of Shinto into a thriving enterprise. The Kami possessed her time and time again, giving her speeches, visions, information, and plans. Once, he possessed her for weeks on end and she wrote over two hundred thousand pages, mostly poetry about the return of the human mind to the place of clean water… To the source… To dip into the green.

And that’s why he said that he only “dabbled” in Aikido. Because to know it fully would be to know Konjin himself. That was the lie, wasn’t it? How does a demon know himself when he has only been alive less than two hundred years? I didn’t know what he was doing then, but since then I have been able to piece it together. Each block, each throw, each time he bent away from my kicks and punches, he knew… He was dipping into my soul. Like a wary bird he would dip just a little bit at a time, to get me to go farther and farther into the attacks.

I really can’t see the screen any more. My mother says that the font won’t get any bigger. Over the last fourteen years I have lost my hearing, my ability to walk, and now my eyesight. The doctors called it Mitochondrial Dysfunction at first. The inability for my cells to use the right fuel source. Now they are using me to feed me. My other maladies the doctors have no answer for, but they do test after test and still come up with no result.

I don’t know what will fail next. My kidneys? Liver? I could get a nasty virus and be down for the count at any moment. I’ve thought about ending it all but my family loves me. Honestly, they have been my only real support. I don’t see my old friends anymore, including Teddy. It’s hard to get to church and I was never very popular with anyone else. In the end, what Master Song Lu did to me was steal my life. Energy and life are stolen every day, but it’s never like it is in the movies. It’s never the black caped blood sucking vampire that comes in through your window at midnight. It’s not like that at all. “Dipping the green” is what he called it. It was me that he dipped.

As I lay here, all I can really think about is: how long would he last from the energy I fed him?

When will he feed again?

About Pauly

Pauly Hart is a public speaker, actor, painter, singer, poet, and story-teller. His main focus today is writing. His latest works have involved novellas in the vein of “Classical Horror” from the Christ-centered world-view. The Horror story is the story where the character has to survive until the end. What better chance for survival than in Christ? Pauly writes not for the churchy types, but for those who would pick up a Stephen King book, giving them an alternative to the spirits. Pauly writes so that the Holy Spirit will have room made for him in modern day literature. He runs several websites all bent on leaving the mind of the atheist awash with the glory of heaven. You can find him at PaulyHart.com

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