Saturday, November 30, 2019

Trauma & Therapy Series
Post Addendum:

The Last Dreamer Wakes:
Bridget Speaks

Beniko "Bridget" Namura 
as Dictated to Sara H.

"Notte" (Night)
The Professor's favorite Cactus Pet
from his collection.
Given to Bridget at the Zuma Beach Service

Bridget Speaks

When I woke up, I was alone in my bedroom. It was dark and the window was foggy. It was raining. I could hear hundreds of drops hitting the roof, tapping the glass, making little streams on the Steamy pane.

The words were there waiting for me. But my legs weren't. I couldn't stand.

Where was my phone? I wanted to text Norie. I wanted to ask why I was left behind.

I must have been crying because my mother entered the room, turned on the lamp by my bed, and called to my dad. He was in the room a second later.

My mom and dad asked so many questions that I could only hear a humming, like insects buzzing.

My aunt who is a doctor came by some time later. Even though she alone asked me questions, her voice too was like a drone.

So I didn't talk. I stared at the three of them. Until the ambulance arrived.

At the hospital, the doctors and nurses buzzed around me. Every now and then I heard something familiar. Bridget. Coma. Atrophy. Thar means I can't stand. I already knew that. I needed new information.

I needed Norie. Before I fall asleep again. 

The doctors decided to keep me overnight to observe mental state and schedule a physical therapy regimen. I was in bed, looking at the Servante of Darkness Blog on my cell phone. My parents sat quietly with me. Finally, Norie, Suzie, and their parents arrived to visit me. I was not surprised to see Mr. Torinko Hanasaki, Norie's dad, with them. But I was a little scared. Lucky Priest Horaguchi came with Sara and my English teacher, Miss Johns. Miss Johns looked like she lost a lot of weight. You could see her skull through her facial skin. Her smile only added to the skeletal look of her face. 

But I was happy to see them all. I had to wait for about an hour before I could talk to Norie and Suzie alone. The nurse said that we only had a few minutes before visiting hours were over. My first question to Norie was, What happened to Miss Johns? Don't you remember? she asked back. No, I said, and when did your dad get back? Norie and Suzie looked at each other with concern. 

I changed the subject. I've been reading the Professor's blog. Did he forget too? Forget what you're asking me to remember? Yes, said Suzie, but he remembered at last. Priest Horaguchi helped him to remember. He was finally at peace when he passed over to the other side. I got chills. "The other side." 

The Professor died?

Yes, but Priest Horaguchi prepared him for the afterlife in Diyu. 

I was there. Stuck there. Halfway here. Halfway there. I couldn't wake up. The doctor said I was asleep for for a year. But there were dreams. So many dreams. It seems like only one long night went by. I remember you and Suzie and your father there. The Professor too. But I wasn't with you. I was separate, on a cliff of fire and ice. I melted the ice. It turned to steam. The steam turned the wheels. The wheels started the fires. And then I fed it more ice to keep the steam coming. 

I looked at my hands, but they looked like normal teenage girl hands. No burns. No frostbite. I had all my fingers. All my fingernails. But my hands--they did look older, thinner, skeletal. 

The nurse then came in and chased the girls out. They promised to visit again. After they left, I cried, not because I was alone, but because I was afraid to go to sleep. I got back on the phone and continued reading the Trauma & Therapy series on the Servante of Darkness Blog. When I woke up in the morning, my phone battery had gone dead. The doctor said I could go home. 

Norie and Suzie were with my parents as the nurse pushed me out in a wheelchair. I was told to start my physical therapy to rework my leg muscles as soon as possible, that my parents would explain it to me. And they did explain. We were all going to Professor Anthony Servante's service at Zuma Beach in two days. The day after that I would begin my therapy. 

Norie asked, Did you sleep? I nodded yes. Did you dream? I nodded no, but I added, At least nothing I can remember. And for that I'm glad. It's time to catch up on reality. What's happening at Zuma Beach?

Suzie answered, Sara is scattering Mr. Servante's ashes into the ocean that he loved. 

Will his soul reach Diyu? I asked.

Norie answered, It's already there. Don't you see? You're awake. He left when you woke up. It's so simple you don't even need to believe it. You just accept it. The Professor woke you up. 

You guys helped, I told Norie and Suzie. Norie smiled as she said, You helped too. It took the three of us to open the door. But it was the Professor closed the door behind us. 

I know, I said, thinking of Mr. Hanasaki, Norie's dad. I know. I hope we recognize the Professor when he returns. 

Maybe he'll be a butterfly, Suzie said.

Or a fish, I said. 

No, said Norie. He'll be a bird. 

We all nodded in agreement with smiles of happiness and tears of joy.

Editor: I took liberties with the writing of Bridget's vocabulary for clarity's sake, but these are her words. My edits. The Namura family gave their blessing to this post. 
Sara H 


The Latest on the Servante of Darkness Blog:

This is Sara H. As I've been going through Professor Anthony Servante's Facebook messages and blog emails, I found a few items that I wanted to address. First off, I put up the poems, second, I featured the Michael Moorcock release as I've seen Anthony do, and third, I came across this email from Beniko "Bridget" Namura, and her parents, Daishin and Mayu Namura. I thought it should be included as the Trauma & Therapy series conclusion.

I also wanted to tell you about some old files I found on the blog storage archives. I'm not sure if he wanted to keep these articles from the blog or if he just wanted to make space for new articles. I figure I'll put the files together and see what I can do with a little editing. Maybe make a chapbook of the Professor's early blog entries. I also found an old blog he used to write for called "The Black Glove: Horror Culture and Entertainment". Maybe I can do something with those old articles and interviews also.

Maybe that's what my heart was telling me to do by not closing the Facebook account. Maybe I should let his readers and friends know that I'll be editing together his old work into little books. I don't think I can do the poetry or the short stories; they're probably the property of the authors, not the Professor's. So I'll just stick to the work that I know for sure is Anthony Servante's. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, November 25, 2019

HAWKWIND Collaborator MICHAEL MOORCOCK & THE DEEP FIX Release Third Studio Album!

British Author/Musician MICHAEL MOORCOCK releases Live At The Terminal Café

Los Angeles, CA – As a novelist and short-story writer, Michael Moorcock stands with one foot planted firmly in reality and the other in fantasy. He has won and been short-listed for almost every award in the sf/fantasy world as well as in the wider literary world. The London Times named him one of the fifty best British writers since 1945. He scripted ‘The Land That Time Forgot’ film and his Jerry Cornelius novel ‘The Final Programme’ was filmed with Jon Finch. His much-imitated and most famous character, Elric, is currently optioned for TV/movies and the BBC have his Hawkmoon series under option. As a journalist, he has written for The Guardian, The Sunday Times, The Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The New Statesman, and The Spectator.

His music career has been no less laudatory. When performing with Hawkwind, Moorcock won a gold disc for Warrior on the Edge of Time. He has also worked with Blue Öyster Cult, Robert Calvert, Spirits Burning, and developed his own music project dubbed The Deep Fix. Moorcock’s long friendship with the legendary guitarist-bookscout Martin Stone (The Action/Mighty Baby, Savoy Brown, Chilli Willie) culminated in their decision to do an album together. They had grown up in the same town and had similar influences as musicians and readers. Both lived in Paris. The result is the new studio album Live At The Terminal Café.

Moorcock explains the genesis of the album: “Martin contacted Denis Baudrillart, the outstanding French drummer, and bassist/all-rounder Brad Scott and we rented a rehearsal studio. Eventually, the basic tracks were recorded in Montmartre and after that it was up to my friend Sean Orr in Texas to add fiddle and friend Don Falcone in California to perform his magic, adding Catherine Foreman and Jonathan Segel (Camper Van Beethoven), and our first psychedelic Country & Cajun record was ready to go. Like a lot of my music, it’s intended to complement certain books of mine, in this case, the ‘Blood’ trilogy set in Texas and Louisiana where the Earth’s polarities are reversed, with bizarre consequences.”

Moorcock wrote or co-wrote the 11 songs, sings lead vocals on all tracks, and also performed harmonica on two songs onLive At The Terminal Café. The album was mixed and produced by Don Falcone, who runs the music collective Spirits Burning.

Both the CD package and vinyl version include full lyrics, plus artwork by Walter Simonson (best known for Marvel Comics’ Thor), who drew Moorcock’s DC series ‘Michael Moorcock’s Multiverse’.

Track List:
1. The Effects Of Entropy
2. Terminal Café
3. The Dream Of Eden
4. Sam Oakenhurst’s Story
5. St. James Infirmary
6. The Heat Of The New Orleans Night
7. Lou
8. A Man Like Me
9. Mississippi Turn Round
10. Blood
11. Eden Revisited

Buy the CD here:
Buy the vinyl here:
Buy the digital here:

Band links:

Press inquiries:
Glass Onyon PR
Billy James
PH: 828-350-8158

11041 Santa Monica Blvd #703
Los Angeles CA 90025

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Sunday, November 24, 2019

Professor Anthony Servante 
1963-2019 R.I.P.

by Sara H

Professor Anthony Servante, writer, scholar, and creator of this blog, passed away on November 9, 2019. His family tells me that it was something to do with his lungs. I didn't ask after that. Rather, I remained true to the guidelines left to me by the Professor should something happen to him. I don't think he had this in mind, but nevertheless, I carried out his wishes. I stayed in contact with his younger and older brothers, who conducted the family services for Anthony, whom they referred to as "Tony", and the day after the services, I collected the urn containing the Professor's ashes. On this day, I met with the younger brother, (who asked not to be identified), at the home where Anthony was staying. As I drove up to the house, lightning and thunder crashed, and it started to hail. It looked like snow covered the front yard (see picture above). All I could think was the God Himself was welcoming Anthony to his new home, for the Professor loved rain, and what better rain than sleet and hail as we drove his ashes to Zuma Beach, where we scattered his ashes.

As assistant editor of this blog, I've decided to finish the last projects the Professor was working on for the blog. After that, I hope to continue the blog in the spirit of the themes and columns that came before. My appreciation of music may be a bit different, but I believe you will enjoy interviews with these bands and solo artists that I follow.

I, by the way, am Sara H. The Professor spelled it SaraH. I don't use my last name online and the Professor respected that by only using the H. I've known Anthony for a few years. He's been coming to the Starbucks where I am a manager. I wasn't a manager when we first met. We fast became friends and have loved helping him with his blog and with his research.

Lastly, I asked friends of Anthony Servante to submit final words for him, and I received these poems.

Here they are.

Brande Barrett
November 20, 2013 at 12:07 AM ·

After midnight poetry post...

The ghosts in the ribbon
Dusty typewriter left long ago
Words spelled with letters raised
Impressions of expressions
From the past
Laid out in waiting
Timeless weaves the tomb
As cobwebs raise and fall
And time wears the room
Sun raided curtains
Fall apart to reveal
reflected light and dust motes
Dancing in air

Unfriending the Dead

Cold pages and necrophilic newsfeeds
Postmortem posts and rigor mortis weeds
Plateaus of pathos and depths of dread
Clearing corpses, unfriending the dead.

My friendship circle is full of life
Political fisticuffs and strife
Lungs that breath both air and airs
Hearts that fear both death and scares.

The Black Wagon has arrived on time
Escorting them without reason or rhyme
You shut your curtains and peek the cracks
Watching the wheels on the tracks.

Heaven shakes her cloudy locks
Hell readies the fiery stocks
On Earth we tsk-tsk and sigh
We wonder why you do not cry.

You choose instead to block the dead
To wipe the posts never to be read
You delete any trace of old friends
Who remind you that life indeed ends.

And so the sun shines bright again
And onwards strokes your potent pen
No kind words for those who’ve died
Another spin on the carousel ride.

A.C. Espinoza
(Upon seeing the exodus from Anthony Servante’s newsfeed at the announcement of his death.)

Dormant Torment

Cursed without cause
In Morpheus' claws
Dormant rose
In a bed of briars
These walls are liars
Promising refuge
Harboring misery
Snug in the arms of death
Awaiting a kiss of breath
Through the hourglass
Time's sand drips
Upon her rosen lips
Every grain, a day
That she is away
Dormant rose
Oh God! How deep
Can this beauty sleep
Sleeping flower
In a thorn tower
In a bed of briars
Until eternity expires
Death deserves no bride
Free her from his side
That she be mine
Torment rising
Dormant rose
Snug in the arms of death
Awaiting a kiss of breath
© Jerry Langdon 2014

Deadman’s Heart
Why do I fight?
You will always be right.
No matter what I say
You will turn it anyway,
And throw it in my face.
I know I’m a disgrace
You don’t have to remind me.
My heart is out dangling from a tree.
Swinging dead in the wind,
Waving to and fro in the wind.
An old salty hag; beating it
With a raggedy old stick.
Chanting, “Here sways, dead from a tree
For all the world to see
A foolish man’s heart,
That will have no part.
Come the Reaper, he might,
But certainly not tonight.”
I just don’t know why
I even take the time to try.
Why do I fight?
You will always be right.
Outside it may seem clear
But that is not my atmosphere.
The rain just won’t quit.
Not anytime quick.
The air around me is so dense
I’m dying from suspense,
And my dead heart sways in a tree
Swinging to and fro; waiting for me.
© Jerry Langdon 2018

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Update 16

Trauma & Therapy

Pajama Therapy
Last Flight of the Dream Drifters

By Anthony Servante

A crammed version of Diyu

Dante's Inferno, similarly as crammed as Diyu

"Diyu, a state of mind
When trauma and hell merge"
Taoist saying

The clarity of denial teaches us that reincarnation is a machine that grinds our souls for rebirth. When the machine is broken, it cannot distinguish living from dead. When the demons who work for the machine continue their job even while the machine is broken! the living are the dead and the dead living. Purgatory and transition become one blurred objective. Those who never received proper burial and those descendants of these victims, become targets for rebirth. It is said that love is blind. So, too, is the machine blind. The demons are the eyes and arms and hands of the machine. Just as the dead can enter the world of the machine, the machine can enter the world of the living. The demons of Diyu have found a doorway between the two worlds: Dream!

And so we've come full circle. I dealt with my own trauma in isolation for many months. Then I decided to turn my attention outwards, to others, to learn more about trauma. I heard from fellow sufferers of violence, terror, pain, and loss, in every occupation, age group, and nationality. Now, here at the end of the Trauma & Therapy series, I focus not on myself, but on three children whose lives have touched me, so much so, that I can now say I have learned to face my own trauma with their courage. Here I give you the account of two young girls who plan to find a way to reach their school friend who has lain in a coma for over a year. I have been invited to participate in their attempt to reach their comatose friend, via her dreams. I will try to set aside my skepticism and cynicism in order to help these girls reach their friend. 

This event happened last Sunday, October 20th, 2019, dreamtime. Because the two young girls go to bed around 10:00 pm, and I go to bed between 3:00 and 4:00 in the morning, I needed assistance to coordinate my sleeptime with the girls. Don't judge. I took an extra spoonful of my codeine cough syrup and fell into a weird fever sleep. I'm pretty sure I was dreaming, but because the opioid induces a waking dream quality, I was aware that I was dreaming. It didn't matter as the dream developed organically even as I watched it unfold like a neutral observer of the events. I was both participant and chronicler. 

On Monday, the 21st, the girls, Norie and Suzie, send me their accounts of their dreams. What follows is the combined dreams of three people wearing the Plumage Pvnk pajamas (of course, I only had a elbow length glove made to look like a bird wing. For those of you who haven't been paying attention to the last few updates on Pajama Therapy, these Plumage Pvnk pajamas are designed to protect us from death and evil during the dream, just as the Cactus Costumes of the Tokidoki Kids and Pets are protected from evil by their thorny outfits. Norie and Suzie designed the pajamas, and their moms sewed them together. An extra pair was made for Bridget, who remains in a coma. Bridget's mom dressed her in her pajamas for the 10:00 pm dream meet. 

I minimized the editing and tried to let the three dream accounts unfold as their were written in the email. I did take some liberties to organize the accounts in a logical order. That is, I put some of my account to begin, then some paragraphs from Norie's account, then Suzie's, back to me, and so on, changing order to keep the dream sequence rational. Well, as rational as a trio of dreams can be. 

Well, enough jibber-jabber. Let's get to the dream accounts and see how Pajama Therapy fared.

The Dream of Diyu

I knew I was asleep. But I also knew I was aware that I was asleep, which meant I was still awake. Right away I recognized the place where the dream was taking place. It was Diyu. I was awake in the Buddhist Hell.

[Note: See The Last View from a Troubled Mind for background on the religious aspects of these accounts. 

I was on the lowest level of Hell. There were ten floors from bottom to top, each made of some type of rock. On each of these levels, there were naked people. I stood apart from the bottom floor, though I seemed to be standing on it. About forty yards from me, I could see tall bird creatures with blue and red skin. Some were beaked, others faceless. In addition to wings, they had arms. The hands at the ends of these arms were either fingered or taloned. In each hand, there was a type of speak that was used to poke the screaming dissidents of the level. The sounds of their agony had the quality of being far away. Above the first floor was the second. There all the dissidents were blue from the freezing cold. I could see their frosty breaths. I found it funny that these apparently dead souls could still breathe. These souls were moaning. They didn't have the strength to scream. Their guards were also blue. They looked like stereotypic genies, bearded and sporting pony tails of blackest hair. They had no wings. Yet they floated, for they had no legs. Their forms ended at the waist. Wisps of hanging flesh flapped from their midsection as the genies whipped the souls with icy strands of barbed wires.

I stepped closer to the first level to get a better view of the third level.

At the edge of the cliff, I can see the Professor. Is he looking for me? I wave to him. 

I joined Norie at the edge. What is she waving to? There are so many things here to see: Flying people. Almost people. Mostly bird. Lots of colorful flames: Blue, red, green, black, white, pink. No, not flames. People. Real people. Naked. No. Smooth. No ears. No nose. No face. Almost a body. No sex. But people nonetheless, I'm sure. They writhe like worms. The mostly birds claw at them with their clawed feet, slap them with their long fingers and fat palms. 

One of the people is wearing clothes. And wears a Plumage Pvunks pajama suit over the clothes. It is the Professor. I wave to him. Norie and I laugh. We are not alone. 

There are two birds with human faces waving at me from above. I wave back. I see that my arm is covered in feathers. I am dreaming that I am wearing the pajamas. The dream doesn't care that I only wore a single sleeve. I don't have arms. I have wings. I feel my arms. I make fists. But it's the wings that move; they curl, they spread, they flap. I look up again. The girls are gone. I start to rise. And then it feels like a dream.  I feel free and afraid. Free to fly. Afraid to fall. I head for the girls.


Our waving has attracted some attention from the bird people. Several of them are flying toward us. Norie flaps her wings and floats up. I jump and flap my wings mid jump. I am next to Norie. She swoops and I follow. The birds are close behind, squawking like parrots. 

This is Diyu. It is not Diyu. It is a dream. Which is why we fly. Which is why there are only ten demons here. These are the creatures that followed us out of Diyu. They're trapped here. In dream. This is their hell. Only, they can escape when we sleep. But now they are trapped here because we are equipped with the Plumage Pvnk outfits. But they are on our tail. We are not expert flyers in this dream world. They are. All we can do is soar upward and quickly. Then it occurs to me that if this is a dream, what if I fall? Will I wake? Or will these creatures catch me. Again.

I recognize the demons. They are the ones described in Horaguchi's notes. Which is why I must be dreaming of them. Just as I believed in my state of trauma, so do I believe in my dream: Each of us possessed one of the ten demons, possessed it since we left Diyu. These creatures have nested in our dreams and escaped to wreak havoc on the living when we slept and dreamed. Now they too are trapped here in our dream of Diyu. They have not figured out that this isn't the real Diyu. Here we the dreamers possess the strength to rein them in. I hope.


I kept my eyes shut the first time. I refused to see what was making those shrieks and screams, both human and nonhuman. I heard the cracks of whips, the metal tines dragging on the rock, the sizzle of living meat touched by fire. I imagined pure horror. Now I fly with my eyes wide open and see the beauty of this place. I see the Buddhist treasures of eternity and karma, the gift of reincarnation and the roles these demons play. They are like children when they are outside in the backyard. We need to rein them in to resume their duties in Diyu. Souls are in limbo till they return to their work. But their backyard play is dangerous, for that backyard is our dream life. We must exorcise them. We must try to reopen the door that we closed that day. Together, perhaps, we can lead them back inside Diyu, where they belong. Their mischief has caused too many deaths and too much mayhem. Norie and I must work together with the Professor to open the door and push the demons through it. 

But first we must escape the claws of the angry demons who must see us as living trespassers in the land of the dead. Somehow we must get to the bottom level to open the black gateway. The Professor knows what to do. He did it before. This is an old dream. Only now the Professor and Norie are visiting. I hope I don't wake up. My mom must be worried. 

I swoop upwards. Norie follows. The Professor is climbing to reach us. The demons wing their way to meet us. I have seconds to tell the others of my plan. 

This place is so horrible. So lonely. You could be with a thousand other souls and still be alone, as I was that first time. Suzie kept quiet and kept her eyes shut, repeating prayers, tapping her fingers on her knees, moving her head about like a blind person. We never talked. Bridget was taken to one of the other levels. I wrote about it in my journal. Whenever someone new arrived, into my journal it went. I didn't know there were levels for a while, but I figured it out. I'm not as religious as Suzie, so I don't know why there are even different levels. In American Hell, there's just one big place the way I understand it. But I learned the different levels quick. Each one had a different guard. A blue ram-headed angel. A red bird-headed bull. A black faceless, wingless bird with shadows for wings. But no matter their shape, they all could fly. They could carry dozens of souls in their giant arms and drop them into the level chosen by the main demon boss, Yuan Gui, the one who determined the place of redemption for the new souls. The one who was leading the flying demons who were chasing us now. 

I had to go faster. Suzie was struggling to keep up. The Professor was catching up fast, but he had to pass the demons to reach us. But he could do it because the demons weren't paying attention to him. They were after me and Suzie. 

Wait for me, I heard Suzie cry. And for a moment, it felt like she really was in my dream, not just a part of it. She was wearing the Plumage Pvnk outfit. In here, it looked like a second skin on her, like a Manga comic strip costume. I slowed just a bit for her, and she reached me, touching my wing with hers. She felt real. Were the demons real? Could they touch me? I didn't want to find out. That's what the pajamas were for--to escape evil and danger. We flew upward, passing level after level as crowds of souls stared after us with their lifeless curious eyes. 

Hurry, Professor, I thought. Then I heard the words in my mind, I'm almost there.

I pass a flock of flying dinosaurs with human faces and limbs, some with bird wings and human arms, some with only leathery wings. Their faces are sad as they look at me, like pathetic pantomimes trying to communicate via facial expression, displaying their disappointment with my actions. Then I slip into a reverie by the seaside, a night-tide rises, the full moon sinks, the seagulls hang in the air with their wings at their sides, as if they are walking to and fro, watching me. I look around. It is Zuma Beach, playground of my youth. The beach is empty. The waves silently reach my toes and stop. Time pauses. No, it yawns. My wings are gone. I am in street clothes, 70s style Levis and Uriah Heep souvenir T-shirt. I am happy here. I will stay a while. The waves retreat and sound returns. But before I can sit on the sand, I hear, Hurry, Professor. I am in mid air, my wings seem inappropriate to the task, so I summon the strength to flap furiously, and pass the sad-faces demons. I see the girls just ahead. I call, I'm almost there. 

We're in a big cave with fires everywhere. There are lots of people moving around, their shadows stretching across the walls. There are groups of people moving in herds. There are shepherds guiding their groups around the fires. These shepherds are tall and faceless, more shadow than face. They have claws, long uncut nails, more knuckles than fingers. They have dirty cloaks that look like wings. They are wings. They float above their groups. They emerge from the black walls like bees from a honeycomb. They are all different. They pluck people from the groups. They fight with the different-colored shepherds. They are the shepherds from different levels. Their fighting is fierce but short, like two birds fighting over a scrap of food. Then who is chasing us? These are not shepherds, are they? 

As I hover in the air, Suzie beside me, the Professor cutting through the things below us as he reaches us, I can see the same scenes playing out on the ledge below, on the ledge above. Not so much on my ledge. There are many ledges. It is the same all the time. There is no day or night to measure weeks and months. This sameness is comforting. I don't get hungry. I am not scared. I stop watching the fights. The moans and screams of the groups become background noise. It becomes normal. It is the moments of silence that are scary. In the last moment of silence, I see Professor Servante emerge from the pack of things trying to reach us. Is he even real? The walking and flying shepherds hide in the shadows as the demons following us begin to howl with children's voices. Then I see my father and Priest Horaguchi. I am confused. Familiar faces. I fall asleep to wake up. 

Norinko, this isn't a dream. We can't all be having the same dream. We are here. This is Diyu. This is Hell. Still, it's a dream, and we must continue to act as if it were so. So keep flying. Hold hands with Suzie. Keep climbing. I'll bring up the rear. 

There are ten flying people. No, birds. No, reptiles. Old friends. No, familiar faces. Chameleons of the mind. I flap my cloth wings and rise as I face the tangle of slimy arms reaching for me. I kick at them. I can feel their bony sharpness against my bare feet. Am I bleeding? How I worry that I will bleed. Will my feet get infected? Will the doctors amputate my feet? Why do I think this? This is just a dream. These are rational fears in a fever dream. I am in bed. The flu is affecting my sleep. I am dreaming that Norie and Suzie are dreaming me. 

Oh, God. My feet are bleeding. In this black and white world, there is red pouring from my feet. 

Professor, don't look at them. Keep climbing. 

Where are we going?

Follow Norie.

Don't follow me. I'm waking up. I'm going to fall. I can't fly anymore. My mother is trying to wake me. I'm back at home. The window is open. There is a large gray face filling the window frame. Its great head sits atop my mother's body. I open my eyes. I'm back here, flying upwards alongside Suzie. What's happening?!

The demons are in our heads. We're asleep, each in our own beds. It's as Priest Horaguchi described in his notes: We each carry a demon with us; when we left Diyu the first time, we each brought out a demon with us. We think we are in the same dream, but we're not. I'm dreaming of you and Suzie, Suzie is dreaming of you and me, and you're dreaming of me and Suzie. It seems that we are in one dream. These things that are chasing us are actually leading us. We must turn and face them. We can't let them take us where they want. On the count of ten. Nine, eight, seven..., 

I'm scared. 

Me too. 

Just remember, we're flying. The bird outfits protect us. Seven, six, five, four...,

Are you ready to turn around, Suzie?

I'm ready.

Three, two, one. Turn around. And we did. The ten bird creatures with their human faces, human arms, human legs, and Diyu colors, ten feet tall at least, screamed in unison as we turned. They had caught us. There was no waking from this, and they knew it.

Then between the demons and us, a light appeared. Layers of brightness in a twenty foot circle, the brighter beams on the edges, softening toward the center, where a little girl in a Plumage Pvnk pajama outfit floated in dazzling beauty, like a Manga heroine. Her costume was shiny and sparkling, with thin, sharp rays of light emitting from her suit. Her wings were rainbow razor blades, her face was so white that it was angelic, her feet were talons of glass that shone ocean blue beams. 

It's Bridget


Don't move. The demons are afraid. The light is cutting a hole in the dark wall on the bottom level. It's the doorway out. It's open. But the ten creatures of darkness and dream stand in our way. It's Bridget screaming into the horde like a banshee that gives us the time to get past them. As Suzie and I fly around the scattered demons, Norie scans the first level to find her father. 

The flying bird-human hybrids surround Bridget, who explodes in a ball of light that burns the demons. Oddly, the light does not affect Suzie and me. Bridget's wings stretch beyond normal range and blue beams of light strike at the bird-shepherds. Their already burnt skin falls away and the beams cut into their hellish flesh. The smell is sickeningly sweet. Two injured demons break off from the group and attack Suzie and me. That's what we get for staring. 

But Suzie spreads her wings and mimics Bridget; red rays fire into the two bird-demons. Their human hands are burnt down to the bone. They back off. I try to replicate the attack, but fail. Gloves alone must not suffice. Either that, or I believe in the dream that they don't work. Either way, I can fly but little else. 

Norie shouts from below. Let's go. I swoop down, but Suzie calls to Bridget, who remains engaged in battle. I tell Suzie that Bridget is creating a diversion for us to escape this dream. The sooner we leave, the sooner we can leave. Suzie agrees and joins me as we land by Norie and her father, Torinko, who welcomes me with a bow. Honored to see you again, Professor. Forgive me for finishing the work you started. Perhaps now we can escape together. 

I nod yes. Norie, Suzie, Torinko, and I run through the tunnel in the black wall of the first level of Diyu. Norie and Suzie stop and look back, waiting for Bridget to appear. Instead, they see the opening to the tunnel seal like a shadow falling across a black emptiness. 

I awake. I glance at the clock. It's just past five in the morning. The sun is rising. A ray of sunlight peeks through the curtains and stabs me in the eye. I squint. How much did the sun rays alter the dream? It seemed so real. I go back to sleep. 

The dream that comes next involves college life and bad decisions I made. It is dark. I drive to a hilltop and park. My foreign exchange student date snuggles up to me. I ask her if she's seen my wings. Then it is no longer her. I am alone. There is no road and no car. I must walk. Along the way, I am back on Skid Row. I enter the hotel and find my room. The TV is talking about the end of the summer. The butterflies, the dragonflies, the birds, are gone. The trees will soon be bare. 

I awake again. Crying. I survived the trauma. I can live with it day at a time. In dream and nightmare. With friends I trust. Without friends who no longer trust me. I understand. Although I am still sleepy, I get up and brew some coffee. I must write all this down before I forget. Before even I do not believe my own words. Let the words speak for themselves. They, too, must learn to survive as I must learn to live with the trauma. For the nightmares now have hope, and the darkness now has light, and my loneliness now has friends. 

Norinko Hanasaki
My father Torinko Hanasaki came home. He had been missing for over a year. He knocked on the door, my mother answered, and they fell into each other's arms. I am glad he is home, but I keep my distance, for he has his own trauma now to overcome. We'll convince him to join our group. The Professor will be glad to see him. I think my father was in my dream, but the dreams vanish so quickly after I wake, they do not linger like they used to. 

Suzie and I visited Bridget. Suzie says that she dreamed of Bridget and believes that she is awake in her mind. Her body needs to catch up. As her friends, we must be patient. We must continue to let her know we are still here for her in the sunlight. 

And what of the Plumage Pvnks? I ask. 

She answers, We'll make more for the kids, you know, the ones who are afraid to go to sleep. We'll make special dolls, one of a Bridget Swan of Light that kids can take to bed with them. 

Sounds like a good idea, I say. Can we charge?

Of course, she says. The money will help Bridget out for when she wakes up. 

My dad pulls the car up to Bridget's house. We enter her room. She is still fast asleep. The nurse smiles, bows, and leaves. My dad is talking to Bridget's folks. Suzie sits on one side of the bed, I on the other; we each hold one of Bridget's hands. 

Thank you, Bridget, for saving us, I say, and Suzie and I bow very low. When we rise, we both have smiles. Not tears. No sadness. Suzie begins to tell Bridget about the Plumage Pvnks Bridget Doll, and we talk the afternoon away. For now we know that Bridget really can hear us. It's not that I remember my dream. It's the happiness that Suzie and I both had with we woke up. We know Bridget is that happiness. She's here with us. In body and spirit. In trauma and nightmare alike. And one of these tomorrows, she will join in the conversation. Like old times. 

Note from SaraH:
Anthony gave me three dream accounts, one from Suzie, Norie, and one from Anthony. It was my job to edit them three accounts into one dream. I tried to keep the integrity of each dream whole, but there was some sacrifice for the sake of entertaining reading. Anthony and I agreed that since this was the last update for the Trauma & Therapy series, we'd create a mash-up of the three dreams into one. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Last View from a Troubled Mind 
Scene #20

The Norinko Ten and Their Demons
Psychological, and Otherwise

by Anthony Servante

A week ago, it rained. This meant that the homeless camps were facing eviction once again. As of this writing, 83 homeless people were reported encamped in the San Gabriel River bed. Complains from residents in the lower hills of Azusa overlooking the river have forced Sheriff's deputies to evict the illegal tenants of the concrete bed. As bulldozers razed the shanties, deputies estimated over 300 campers. Just over 100 were counted leaving the camp. About 100 were estimated to have left during the night when word of the eviction reached the encampment. About 70 were removed by City Emergency Vehicles and private ambulances. The rest of the estimated encampment were dead and removed in body bags. It took over 20 hours for the LA County Coroner's office to handle the removal of the corpses, but much of that time was spent determining the available facilities were capable of handling so many bodies. At least half of the bodies were delivered to the LA County Morgue on Mission Drive, behind the USC Medical Facility (AKA General Hospital).

After the riverbed was cleared and reporters and news crews packed up to leave, one hillside resident who complained almost daily to the Sheriff's office told reporters that maybe now the flying things would probably return to killing the neighborhood pets now that the main source of their attacks was evicted. No one asked the resident what she meant by "things". For some weird reason, the reporter from the local newspaper thought she meant the Sheriff's helicopters.

There was a secondary effect from the rain on the communities of the foothills: An infestation of dragonflies has covered the lush greenery of gardens, trees lining the streets, and the bushes used as walls to separate houses in Azuza, Duarte, Monrovia, and Arcadia. The dragonflies laid eggs in puddles left by the rainfall. Along with the hot weather, the showers provided the perfect environment for the dragonflies to spread in swarming numbers. But, it turns out, that's a good thing.

Dragonflies eat mosquitoes, and mosquitoes carry all sorts of sickness. I myself got bitten by a mosquito and my leg turned several shades of hue. It took two weeks, antibiotics, and steroidal ointment to shrink the itchy bite. Dragonflies also eat the pests that destroy the community's numerous citrus trees. But there is one drawback: The young dragonflies don't avoid humans; they crash right into pedestrians, windshields, and the windows of homes. The children are terrified of these strange-looking insects, which are usually uncommon to the communities. Flyers have arrived in the mail warning homeowners not to kill the dragonflies. Still, the streets are littered with their dead bodies. Beautifully colored insects with ten-inch wing spans are strewn about the side-streets, smashed into exotic designs on the asphalt. 

Which brings me back to the homeless. The dragonflies are literally rising from the multiple ponds left by the rains in the riverbed. When the Sheriff's department were moving out the river dwellers, the deputies found the majority of shanties had flypaper hanging in their makeshift homes, pest-strips covered end-to-end with dragonflies. Some deputies were saying that the homeless were eating them. No proof that this practice was taking place; still the rumors spread, and a new Urban Legend was born.

Then came the new rumor that some dragonflies were as big as a bird, and even the larger birds were not attacking them. The locals, a combination of Mexican-Americans, Filipino, Vietnamese, and Cuban, were in agreement that this dragonfly infestation was not beneficial at all, but was in fact a sign of something evil. I couldn't believe my ears when I heard people on the bus telling their children that the dragonflies attack children and aim for the eyes. No wonder the kids are scared of the harmless insects. 

The Vietnamese were the first to bring up the connection of the flying insects to the demons of Diyu, a correlation that my research could not corroborate. At times, one neighbor always tries to top his neighbor's account of the dangers of the dragonflies by exaggerating the risks of the flying insects. I tried to explain that flyers are arriving in the mail that detail the benefits of the dragonflies, but the exaggerators wave me off. 

When I told Priest Horaguchi about the dragonfly infestation and the superstitions of my neighbors, he did not laugh. He told me that the arrival of the insects is timely, that in Buddhist belief, each dragonfly is a soul that travels the Earth when Diyu, the Buddhist Hell, is overcrowded. Horaguchi further explained that over the last year, many, many souls have been taken to Diyu by the demons who have escaped due to our intrusion into their space. I told him that as a Catholic, and he as a Buddhist, our definitions of "demons" and "souls" were radically different. He agreed, but explained that the trauma was the same.

For instance, a Catholic alcoholic could turn to Alcoholics Anonymous for guidance, but not so a Buddhist alcoholic. One of the AA's 12 steps includes accepting a "greater power" over one's self. For a Catholic, that would most likely be God. For a Buddhist, however, such a power is within oneself, and this power grows each time one reincarnates. We try the best we can in this life, and then try again in the next, but with different circumstances. As an alcoholic in the last life, one (upon death) would be taken to Diyu and assigned to the appropriate level for punishment for our drinking problems and the problems we inflicted on others for our drinking. Once our punishment is meted out, we are ready to be reincarnated. The appropriate "demon" metes out the punishment; the creature from our level in Diyu makes sure that we are not reborn an alcoholic again. This doesn't mean we are perfect. It means we grew a bit spiritually. And with each rebirth, we grow some more, hopefully till we are perfect or we reach that state called Nirvana, when we are released from the cycle of death and rebirth. For Buddhists, Hell is a good bad place. It is better than AA.

Trauma for Buddhists is physical. Even nightmares, the remnants of trauma, are physical. Therapy treats the physical, not the mental. For Catholics, I believe, Horaguchi continued, trauma is mental and manifests itself with physical symptoms. You take pills. We make pajamas. Both treat the nightmares, but the drugs avoid confrontation while the pajamas face it head on. We deal directly with the demon behind the nightmares, in essence, the demon from our last reincarnation still hounding us with punishment. Or it could be the demon from the next level of our visit to Diyu preparing us for our next trial of torture. For Catholics, the demons lead you to Hell; for Buddhists, they prepare us for our passage to Nirvana. The suffering, the nightmares, the trauma is transitory but necessary. It's never personal. Catholic demons are evil and exist to create more evil. Your trauma as seen through Catholic eyes must seem evil; our group's traumas as seen through Buddhist eyes is medicine for our sick soul for a healthier new life.

But sometimes when we are stuck between two beliefs, two cultures, as we are when we have one foot in Hell and one in Diyu, we sometimes get caught in a loop. There are Buddhists who see demons as evil, but they are wrong to believe such. When we are caught between two reincarnations, we sometimes drag our demon out with us from death to life. The nightmares, the trauma, are the manifestation of the demons.

When we asked you to attend our "Buddhist" therapy sessions, we wanted you to learn to believe in a positive approach to your nightmares. Although you liked the painting approach, you've avoided the pajama therapy. Sure it's got a silly name, I admit that, but it's nonetheless therapy. We want to remove the demon from your nightmares, not the Catholic demons, but the Buddhist demons. And if this all sounds crazy, well don't forget that the AA provides therapy to a "higher power". How crazy is that? We want you to find your own higher "self". The trauma is part of you; just as the demon is a part of you. The cure and healing are also within you. When you reincarnate, you are given an opportunity to improve your lot in life. Think of this life as the reincarnation of the last. You are improving your life now, bettering yourself compared to your last life. The demon can be viewed as your conscience.

I said, But what about the elephant in the room? People have died.

He answered, No, they haven't. They've been reincarnated. The demons don't kill. They escort you to the next life.

I responded, Yeah, but they weren't ready to go. Their trip was mandatory. How can you defend the additional  trauma inflicted on you on your journey to Diyu?

He said, No one is ever ready. "Because I could not stop for death, He kindly stopped for me." It is not trauma. It is a cleansing of your old life so that you can be ready for the next life, to be in a better frame of mind and body. It is a transition.

I answered, With all due respect to Ms. Dickenson, they're taken to a waiting room where they are tortured.

He wasn't swayed: To a certain extent. But you are confusing Catholic "torture" with Buddhist preparation. Diyu is not punishment. It is strict preparation, just as athletes have strict regimens of exercise to compete in their sport. Diyu is a spiritual regimen to compete in your new life.

I had to ask, Then why is someone lying in coma, half dead, half alive?

He sighed, To quote your Church: God works in mysterious ways. Buddhism deals with life and death. It doesn't have answers for the in-between. That's the time for man, for doctors, for therapy. Each of The Ten in our group has a different demon to deal with. It's a matter of "self". Each of us must deal with the transitions differently. I cannot address matters where life and death have not been decided. We're not talking about pulling the plug here. We are talking about Buddhism and Catholicism. 

When you say "The Ten", do you mean the Norinko Ten? I asked, even though I knew the answer. But Horaguchi answered me anyhow.

Yes, the members of our group make up The Ten. And their Demons. With you that makes eleven, I guess. The source of the trauma is the demon from the level of punishment in Diyu based on your last death. I mean, you don't have to believe all this. We aren't looking to convert you to Buddhism. But if you understand how your trauma can be positive in the most spiritual sense, maybe you can learn to live with it better. For us, it's about readying ourselves for our next carnation. For you, it's about gaining a healthy perspective on this life in the here and now. We're very big on the here and now. We're surrounded by death, but so too are we surrounded by life. Let me email you a chart I made of The Ten. Read it with a grain of salt if you must. Or feel free to make a Catholic chart of The Ten if you feel that will provide for comfort for the traumatized. When next we talk, we can perhaps readdress "trauma" in a new light.

I answered, I'll get back to you. Please send me that chart. I do plan to put it on my blog, you know.

He laughed, Of course you are.

And there our conversation ended. The email arrived about twenty minutes later. I felt chills when I read it. How could someone believe this? Because they're Buddhist, I answered under my breath. I mean, how many people got chills and felt terror when they first saw the movie "The Exorcist". Anyway, here's the chart for my readers. As Priest Horaguchi advises, Read it with a grain of salt. And I might add, And neither defend nor deny. Understand, if you can.

The Chart

This is the research of Priest Horaguchi

Norinko  - Yuan Gui (ghost with grievance)—spirits of persons who died wrongful deaths. These ghosts can neither rest in peace nor go for reincarnation. They roam the world of the living as depressed and restless spirits who constantly seek to have their grievances redressed. In some tales, these ghosts approach living people and attempt to communicate with them to lead them to clues or pieces of evidence which point out that they died wrongful deaths. The living people then try to help them clear their names or otherwise ensure that justice is served.

Suzue  - Yuan Gui

Beniko  - Yuan Gui

Miriam Hernandez - Di fu ling (Earthbound Spirit)—refers to ghosts who are bound to certain locations on Earth, such as their place of burial or a place they had a strong attachment to when they were alive.

Evelyn Mitchell - Gui po (Old Woman Ghost)—takes the form of a peaceful and friendly old woman. They may be the spirits of maids who used to work as servants in rich families. They return to help their masters with housekeeping matters or take care of young children and babies. However, there are also evil gui pos with disgusting and violent appearances.

Deputy Steve Baker - Wuchang Gui (Ghost of Impermanence). Depending on the person it encounters, the Wuchang Gui can appear as either a fortune deity who rewards the person for doing good deeds or a malevolent deity who punishes the person for committing evil.

Detective Jian “Joe” Wu - Jian (Ghost of a Ghost)—Ghosts who cannot reincarnate. Ghosts who can reincarnate are terrified of Jians.

W. Chris Dubois - E gui (Hungry Ghost)—These hungry ghosts consume anything, including excreted waste and rotten flesh.

Martin Palomina - Jiangshi (Vampire Ghost)—reanimated corpse who feeds off the living.

Elizabeth Johns - Zhi ren (Paper Person)—dolls made from paper which are burnt as offerings to the dead to become the deceased's servants. These dolls are not exactly spirits by themselves, but they can do the bidding of their deceased masters. 

What role do these demons play in trauma of so many of our group?

The ancestors of the Hanasaki family were workers on the railroad. The deaths of so many Asians during the Railroad worker riots and nitroglycerin accidents caused many corpses not receiving proper burial rites. It is important to understand these rites to see how the Buddhist railway workers believed that without a proper burial, that they would not be reincarnated. In fact, they believed that they'd be cursed to wander the realm between life and death forever until they received a proper burial.

Mahayana traditions dictate a burial in a cave where the corpse left for birds to eat. The remains are then buried. This was not possible with a corpse. The Chinese and Japanese workers were blown to tiny bits by the explosions of the nitro deep in the mountain passes; not only ripped apart but buried in the cave-ins that followed. The caves, which are now freeway and train tunnels, are literally built with wooden beams and concrete mixed with the blood of the Asians.

The Levels of Diyu (Narakas)
  1. Hahava—punishment by lamentation and weeping from the cold.
  2. Raurava—punishment by screaming to escape the fiery floor
  3. Maharaurava—like Raurava, but animals and birds devour your flesh (note the common theme of being devoured by birds in burial rites and punishment).
  4. Avici—eternal hell (not Purgatory); reasons to be sent to Avici: Intentionally murdering one's father, mother, an Arhat (enlightened being), shedding the blood of a Buddhist, creating a schism within the Sangha.

And here we take our leave. With a grain of salt, I find that our trauma and therapy series has come down to superstitions and religious faith. We found that such beliefs had little permanent influence on trauma, at times even having a negative effect on long term recovery. Still, it does work for some, just not enough. But who am I to say what is enough. My brother had the philosophy in the classroom that if he could just reach one of his many students, then he has succeeded as a teacher. With this series, I hoped I have reached more than one. 

I, for one, have learned to live with the daily burden of remembering the deaths of the people I sought to help. Hearing in the news of death caused by bad weather, homelessness, or the Will of God, is always a reminder of the helplessness one feels when trying to help people people who can't be helped. Lifeguards are trained not to try to save a panicking drowning person lest he be pulled down with the panicker; they have to wait till the person is to tired to struggle and then carry the swimmer to safety while they are too weak to fight the lifeguard. For me, I waited for these people who needed my help, but I waited till they couldn't drag me down with them. That was my mistake. I waited too long. They drowned before I could reach them, or rather, they died before I could provide the assistance they needed. 

I don't count the hundreds, no, thousands I have helped over the years. I always count the ones I didn't save. Not couldn't. Didn't. It feels worse when friends and family tell me, But look at all the people you've helped over the years. It doesn't help, and I've isolated myself from my friends and family so that I wouldn't have to hear it anymore. I came to Facebook and started a blog, two faceless social entities where I could disappear. Thanks to the Trauma & Therapy series, I've at least learned to connect with flesh and blood people again. And I owe it to these people in my therapy group to try to help The Ten, especially a little girl whose friends believe may one day wake from her coma. 

That's my recovery, my day to day life with trauma--learning to help people again the way I used to. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Update 15

Trauma & Therapy

Pajama Therapy
Flight of the Second Dream Drifter

 as Told to Anthony Servante

Design of pajamas for Bridget, who remains in a coma.
Drawing by Norie.

I hate to wake up, often sleeping for up to 12 hours a day. I am not tired. I am not depressed. I am not hungover from drink or drugs. I simply do not wish to leave my dreams. They seem so important, and I don't mean as a sleep device; no, I mean important in the stories they tell, the plot-lines that I get caught up in. I want to get to the ending of the story. And each morning, each dream is different, yet the stories are real, real enough to involve me so much that I want to stay there longer than I have to. I know that I can wake up, have some coffee, and start my day, but the story of the dream is only in the second act. And I'm aware of that. I know I have to stick around till the third and final act roll around. But it never does.

This new type of dreaming has replaced the nightmares I used to have when I was taking anti-anxiety pills and pain killers for my bad back. The dreams have become more cohesive. They unfold in the same manner that my writing unfolds. I am one step behind the action as I write it, for this action will lead me to the next action that needs to be written. At most, when I write, I know only the ending of the story or only the beginning. The story unfolds on its own. Now my dreams unfold on their own. I can only try to keep up. But that requires time, which in turn means extra sleep, extra time in bed.

Only when I know that I am chasing a dragon, so to speak, a story without ending, do I wake up to start my day. But that requires about three extra hours of sleep. Before, I slept on average 7 to 9 hours a day; now it is 10 to 12 hours, with those three extra hours waiting for the ending to the story in the dream.

Long ago, I would often finish these dreams and they in turn would become short stories or poems. The dreams would end. And the best dreams were the fever sleep dreams; they were complexly structured plots with vivid characters. So last week when I was sick with a mild flu, the fever dreams returned, only this time they didn't end, but the writer in me began to chase them. And chase them. And chase them. It's been over a month and I still hope to complete one dream story.

But I know that's like an addict saying that today is my last fix or my last cigarette. I fear sleeping 12 to 15 hours a night in search of that final fix. Today I slept 12 hours. I missed the first half of the football game that I wanted to see. I was awake in time to see it, but, instead of getting up, I turned over and went back to sleep. I forced myself up at 2:30 pm. I had cobwebs in my mind and dried tears in the corners of my eyes. I splashed cold water in my face, drank some hot coffee, and sat down to watch the game.

I don't even remember a single bit from the dream. That's what happens when they don't end. They turn to vapor and rise.

With the weather turning cold after the shortest Summer on record in the San Gabriel Valley mountainside, I can add an extra blanket and wear my Autumn Jammies. That's when I remembered the glove the girls made for me. Tonight I'll wear the pajama glove shaped like a wing of a bird. I contacted Norie and asked about the pajamas (since I'm not attending the Pajama Therapy sessions at the temple). She told me that she saw the pictures that I put in the last update and sent me three drawings that she made and two by Suzie.

Design of pajamas for Norie.
Drawing by Norie.

Design of pajamas for Suzie (rejected by Suzie).
Drawing by Norie.

Design #1 of pajamas for Suzie.
Drawing by Suzie.

Design #2 of pajamas for Suzie (selected by Suzie).
Drawing by Suzie.

Then Norie told me about Suzie's dream with the pajamas that she selected (see above), and that's what brings us here today for this update. In our last update, Norie shared her dream with us while wearing her Plumage Pvnk Pajamas (see above), designed to fight off nightmares. Now we shall hear from Suzie.

Anyway, I do want to wrap up this last "therapy" series before moving on to the Horror Philosophy essays. So, without further ado, let's get to Suzie's therapy session with her new Plumage Pvnk Pajamas.

Suzie's Account 
I am afraid to sleep. I am wearing the pajamas that my mother made for me. They are soft, but my body slides around when I turn on my side. My mother caresses my hand and hums a song familiar to me since I was a toddler. A single candle lights the small bedroom. The window is cracked open. An ocean breeze moves the curtains and the flame flickers. I adjust my cap shaped like the head of a swan. I didn't have the heart to tell my mother that it looks more like a duck, kind of like Norie's drawing that she made for me. That looks like a duck too. A fat duck.

I am cold. I was going to ask my mother to close the window, but she is gone. I get up to close it myself. The window is wide open. The curtains are gone. I float out the window. I am flying over houses. There is the house of our English teacher. She is dead. There is the house of the school bus driver. She is dead, too. There is the house of the janitor from the school; the lights are on in every window. He is alive, but he is afraid of the dark. There is the house of the Detective. He is dead.

I am tired of counting the dead people, so I turn south, toward the ocean. I am being followed. I am afraid to fly over the water, so I turn into the freeway tunnel. It is dark. There are no cars. Then there is light. Red light. Moving light. Flickering. The followers tricked me into coming in here. They get closer to me. I hear their wings. I hear their beaks clacking. I hear their voices, half human, half squawking. They want me to turn around. I am flying toward a black wall of rock and shadow.

Norie is there. She is flying toward me. The flapping wings snap with fury. The followers see her. They seem afraid. Then I see large crows with human legs and human arms flapping their wings in long spreads to glide silently up behind Norie. I try to warn her, but my arms must operate the wings, so I cannot wave to her, and my voice is choked by fear, dry fear, so I cannot call to her. I see Norie's eyes lock with mine. She sees the followers catching up to me as I see the crows catching up to her.

The pajamas don't work.

I open my eyes. My mother is shaking me awake. She takes me in her arms. She is crying. I am trying to scream, but my throat is so dry, I cannot make a sound, only little rasps and coughs. Something warm is spreading down my chin, down on to my pajamas.

It is blood.

Editor's Note: I received the above dream description in an email. The entire piece was in one block paragraph. With permission from the parents of Suzie, I broke the block into smaller paragraphs with spaces between paragraphs. I arranged the writing in such a way to add "drama" to the piece. I also want to point out that because the Pajama Therapy is being conducted on minors, I have gotten permission from the parents to write these updates about Norie and Suzie, and to some extent, Bridget, who remains bedridden, but whom we address in these updates. I'm glad that Norie and Suzie choose to read my updates to their friend, although, in a coma, she may not even hear the words. Still, there is always hope. 
Anthony Servante

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Views from a Troubled Mind 
Scene #19

Let Ex = Ex:
Explaining Ignorance, Long Hand

by Anthony Servante

I saw this puzzle on YouTube, and it bothered me. "Solve for "X = 0 + 0". Show all your steps to reach your result(s)". Without doing any math, I see that the answer is zero based on what I see. I do not understand showing your "steps" for a conclusion that you can arrive at in the same way that I calculate my shopping bill based on an item by item estimation as I fill my shopping cart. Why show my "steps" to estimate my grocery bill? I know how much money I will need when I reach the cash register.

And that's what gets me. "Steps". Often, if you follow steps, you will find that there is more than one answer. How can I explain this to my grocer? I have three solutions to how much I owe you for this cart of groceries, and I choose the lowest amount to pay. Life doesn't work like this, but advanced math teaches us to think in terms of multiple approaches and multiple answers to a problem. This may work for NASA engineers in training, but for the simple shopper like me, it's not applicable. I don't need to know what X equals to figure my grocery account.

Sometimes "steps" take us outside our own reality. And I'm not talking quantum physics. Let me tell you a little story to illustrate what I mean.

There once was a little girl named Jill. She was helping her mother to cook some beans, which were in a great pot boiling and sending up an aromatic vapor. Her mother to the girl that she needed to run to the store for some garlic and to stir the beans every few minutes and to cover the pot with the lid when she was done stirring. As her mother grabbed her car keys and readied to exit the back door, she reminded her daughter to cover the beans or else the family would fall ill.

Although Jill understood that to leave the beans uncovered could result in tainting the food, she proceeded to text her friend after stirring the beans but forgetting to cover them. When she heard her mon's car pull into the driveway, the little girl quickly covered the beans and no one was the wiser. That evening, hours after eating the beans, Jill, her brother, mother and fatther, all fell ill. Their stomachs cramped, they vomited and evacuated their bowels into the night. When Jill's mother finally gathered herself enough to speak, she berated Jill for not covering the beans, for these symptoms of food poisoning betrayed the little girl's disastrous carelessness. The girl was punished severely. 

As Jill grew into adulthood, becoming a mother herself, she remembered both the lesson of the beans and the punishment that followed when the lesson was not obeyed. Jill thus taught her own little daughter to cover the beans while they boil on the stove-top. One day, Jill happened into the kitchen while her daughter texted on her phone, leaving the beans uncovered. In a rage, she slapped her daughter. Would you have us all ill? she screamed at the shocked girl. How? asked the girl in tears. How would we get sick? Jill quickly replied, The beans go bad when they are not covered. How? her daughter wanted to know as her tears fell. But Jill had no answer save for, We just will, so do as you're told. The girl went running to her bedroom as Jill contemplated the question, "How?"

Jill called her old mother on the phone and reminded her of the time when the family got sick from eating the bad beans that she did not cover. Oh, yes, said the mother, I remember that. Jill asked, How? Her mother answered, We lived in a very old house. We were not very fortunate with our wages back then. The paint in the kitchen was crack and peeling with age. If we didn't cover the beans, the vapor from the boiling water would rise, loosen the paint that would then drop into the beans, melt and add lead-poison to our food. We had to mind the paint chips over the stove. We were poisoned that night, but we were lucky that only a small piece of paint fell into the pot or else we could have died. 

And thus Jill learned the secret of the beans. It wasn't the cover. It was the poison paint chips. What she had taught her own daughter was that the cover prevented the illness, for in their new modern house, there was no paint problem. Then she wondered why she had slapped her daughter. And she further wondered what would have happened if her daughter grew up, had a daughter of her own, and spread the tradition of covering the beans into the next generation, and her daughter's daughter carrying it into the next, and how many generations would have gone by before someone asked, "How?" Then she wondered how many other worthless outdated groundless traditions she'd been passing along to the next generation because she herself never asked, "How?" 

This story of Jill is an example of the lies we believe and the false truths that run our lives. I still remember being told not to go outside after taking a shower or I would get sick. Or not to go swimming after eating. Or not to step on the cold floor with bare feet lest you catch a cold. And it doesn't matter the culture, for every one has these rituals and beliefs based on a single incident, and even though that incident no longer exists in its original form, we still behave as if the action causes the illness, not the circumstances. For Jill, the beans needed to be covered or the family risked being poisoned by lead paint chips. But only in that first instance. That instance no longer existed when Jill became a mother and moved into a new home. Yet she slapped her daughter as if the situation were the same as when she was a child herself. 

And you don't have to be an adult to understand when you believe a traditional lie; children should and must ask, "How?" or "Why?" And the answer must be satisfactory, for often we are punished for a danger or belief that no longer has validity. We must even risk punishment for asking How? and Why? because many times the answer may be, Because I say so, that's why!

In my experience with trauma, I've carried such a belief for years. But, in my case, I didn't want to know why. It wasn't until I had the intervention at the Santa Monica Temple that I was confronted with the false belief. The danger of the original event no longer exists, not for me anyway. This is why it has become important for me to lend my help to these three girls for whom the danger is still perceived to be real. Their dreams are a real threat. There is only one option. Help.

"Let X = X". (Laurie Anderson).