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Kuzushi (breaking opponent's balance)...

Albert Westbrook was what left of a man after he is taken to foreign lands and blown up.

Albert Westbrook had been to several of Corporate-america's wars, serving, in parts and pieces left here, and there, with distinction, if not understanding.

Mostly Albert had fought in sand pits so hot the inside of his eyelids sweated while sleeping. There was one time... one glorious month of fire-fight hell in which he lost his ring finger and a bit of colon, when he fought in the cool of the mountains, and it was good. Albert did not like the heat.

He had been born at home, a rarety for his age group, but his parents were ultra right religious bible beaters, who would actually take their heavy leather covered, germanic version bibles and beat the snot out of their kids or anyone else not able to resist their tantrums, to them, the local cath-o-lic hospital was the vatican's road to hell...and thus Albert was born at home, in Gainsbury, K-Y. Where it was hot.

And Albert did not like the heat. The house his father provided, working as a preacher to all in greater Gainsbury who were not under the sway "o' them e-vile papists", was a modest three bedroom brick ranch house on D Street, and it had air-conditioning. But, like most things Albert came to regard as the 'finer things of life' such as 'booze, bitches, and burgers', his father thought to be 'grease on the path to perdition', so Albert had no air-conditioning, nor booze, nor bitches, nor burgers growing up.

"See these!" Albert's father shouted at him, shoving a handful of coins in his terrified face, " this is what cold air costs me!"

It made an impression on Albert, and at age sixteen, lean and tall, he left the hot stuffy house of his parents early on a Monday morning, joined the USA Army, and never looked back.

Until the day the IED blew off his right leg while pulverizing the left below the knee. Then Albert looked back.

He looked back home, inside, for the nearly two years it took the VA to 'rebuild him' to the point he was discharged for the second time, the first from the Army, and the second from his 'home' in the VA hospital.

For another four years, in the heat of the lower bowels of New Yawk, Albert also looked inward, way deep....deep enough to see his crushed femur from the 'inside'. These looks inward were where his insatiable lust for the oblivion of alcohol and drugs could not reach. Way deep. Deeper in the soul than the place from which tears spring. Deeper in the soul than pain. Way deep.

It was the inward look that changed Albert. One hot summer day on a street whose number matters not, from a haze of alcoholic depression, he woke, and was Albert no more. From the deep look that had been begun by Albert, someone, something else emerged.

This someone else found himself saddled with a crushed Albert body that did not suit, so it changed it, slowly over time, with clear water, little food, punishing exercise. After a while, though still Albert-like, even the body was someone else. Something else.

The wheelchair was replaced with cheeta-legs, the lungs cleaned with thousands of hours of movement, and old addictions lost foreever in daily visits to the Library, downtown,run five times up the stairs, four times down, and one hour reading in the quiet, air conditioned central area.

In spite of the world ending around him, the someone else that had been Albert grew in those years, learning to live with the deep look, and even to bring back something from it. He became content.

Universe does not like content. It saw fit to bring him running, at his usual time, down 6th Avenue, with the intent of heading into the park across from the Bank of America building. He obediently moved across the street a block down from the BOA Tower to avoid the DHS checkpoint, and stopped running lest he draw unwanted attention from drugged up, jittery, former comrades now assigned 'security' patrol duties in the City.

It was then, slowing his breathing from the run, and wiping the sweat from his face that universe slapped him upside the head with a thin black boy about twelve years old.

He who had been Albert, moving the old cloth across his face, and coming out yet again from the deep look inward, saw in an instant the security team rushing out of the BOA Tower as the limo speeding down 6th made to pull into the 'security zone' to off load it VIP. He also saw that the driver had no clue that a boy so thin he could fit between illegally parked cars was doing just that in pursuit of some object on the roadway, and was about to step right into crushing death in mere seconds.

Without even thinking, he who had been Albert used his cheeta legs and years of exercise to hurl himself across the few yards separating them, his outstreched hand grabbing the boy around his upper arm as his momentum propelled them both up on the hood of a limo just as the impossibly loud sound of kevlar tires screetching to a halt brought all eyes in their direction.

The back door of the limo opened as the cadre of masked soldiers surrounded the vehicle. The occupant, a banker, rose up out of the dark, plush interior, closing the door on female voices inside. He looked at the thin, shaking boy, and the derelict now on the sidewalk, being pushed back by armed security.

"Nice catch, old man", said the banker, is fat hand hauling some coins from his pocket, he separated two quarters, tossing them at he who had been Albert. "Tip for you..for saving me the trouble of having to clean the car."

With that, the banker and his flanking cadre of security turned, heading into the BOA Tower.

He who had been Albert looked down, and gently tapped one of the quarters with the tip of his cheeta foot. The steel quarter jumped upward into his hand. He twirled it quickly in his fingers for a brief second, looking both inward, and toward the revolving door about to accept the banker.

With no thought at all, he who had been Albert flung the steel quarter with a peculiar twisting motion of his hand. It spun out of his fingers as though drawn by an invisible force. Flying between two startled soldiers, it spun silently until with absolutely no warning at all, it neatly sliced off the tip of the banker's index finger just as he was about to push the revolving door. Though slowed by the soft flesh and banker bone, the quarter still embedded itself half its diameter in the aluminum frame of the door.

Over the howls of pain from the banker, and the shouting of security, and the uproar of the crowded street, they heard a shout from the retreating form of the old man now dragging the thin boy. "He's a small boy. That's your CHANGE!".

After running with the boy for a few blocks, and satisfying himself that any pursuit was lost, he put the child down.

"You'd better beat it. They will still be looking for me, and probably you too." Said the man.

"No shit, mister! After what ya did to mo'fo back there, they gonna be all over your ass..." said the boy. Then it hit him. "Shit. And me too. Just to find you!" He pointed.

"Yes, by now they are already scooping up tapes from cameras...so you go dye your hair, or something so you don't look like you any more...and stay low".

"You too mister. You too." Said the boy, as he who had been Albert turned to leave.. "say mister... you some kind of super hero? What's your name?"

The man thought for a moment, looked deep inward, and then into the serious brown eyes staring at him, and said....

"my name is heiji zenigata....go look me up."

 

 

 

*****

August 18, 2012

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