I’m stalled trying to find time to finish my next post, so I thought I’d amuse you in the meantime with this. Jake has been yammering inside my head for awhile now and I decided our Skit Night at the Zen Center two weeks ago was an appropriate platform for him to say his piece. Think of this being performed in front of an audience as you read. I wasn’t recording that night, but this is approximately what he said.
Hi there, my name’s Jake. Thanks for having me come talk to you tonight.
What I’ve got to say tonight is a story about my own troubles that I am hoping you can help me with.
I was up at Polk and Eddy one night, trying to hook up with some buddies of mine, and I was standing on the corner there, when I see this unusual character on the other side of the street. This was not your usual Tenderloin character, he was different – the guy was kind of fat, and wore a robe of some sort, had these beads around his neck. And he had these huge earlobes dangling down around his neck and this weird bump on the top of his head.
As you know, there are some strange folks in San Francisco. But this guy was not like one of those hippie freaks you see down on Haight Street. He reminded me actually of one of those big statues you see in Chinatown.
And actually he looked so much like one of them statues that suddenly I realized, this was the BUDDHA, right there in the middle of San Francisco. I knew it was him because when I looked at him: I saw complete..utter… peace.
I know a little bit about what I’m talking about. I’ve spent some time at places like this, and I’ve listened to your monks, and what they said made a big impression on me. That was a time in my life when things were not going particularly well for me, and what those monks said made some things come together in my head which I am grateful for.
One of the monks said something to me like, “if you see the Buddha on the road, you should kill him.” And I have no idea what that means, but as I was standing on that corner that night, looking across the street at the actual Buddha, I thought well, maybe that sort of thing actually makes a great deal of sense. See, I have not been a saint in my life. I have done some things. These monks seem to want this Buddha fellow dead, and if I’m the one to do the deed, well, I’m a hero then, aren’t I? Maybe this was my chance to atone for my sins, get on the good side of things for once.
And as I was contemplating this sort of thing, that Buddha fella started crossing the street toward me. So I thought, okay, I’ve got to think fast. Because one is not necessarily prepared for an assassination-type killing every day. I ain’t no saint, but I never killed nobody before, and I don’t carry no gun on me, or even a knife. So I was searching my pockets for how I was going to do this thing, looking around me to see if I could find something that would do the trick. All I could find in my pockets was a ballpoint pen, but I’m no Jason Bourne, you know what I mean? Where was I going to stab him, in the neck? And it’s one thing to think about killing a man, another thing to actually do it. Killing a man at close range – man, I was flashing on what a mess that was going to look like, and I hadn’t even done the deed. It all seemed so … crazy close all of a sudden, like I was going to suffocate just thinking about it, and I got kind of queasy. Like I didn’t want to get that close to the blood and guts of the guy.
So the end result is, I didn’t do nothing, I just froze. And all that time that Buddha guy was walking toward me, and as he was getting close I could see he had this strange smile on his face like he’s just had the best thanksgiving dinner of his life. And then I saw that he was looking at ME while he was wearing that smile – and I got the creeps from that, you might believe. Like he knew what I was thinking or something.
I couldn’t move from my spot, but then the strangest thing happened: As that Buddha guy got closer and closer, he kind of started to get a bit fuzzy, like he was made out of some kind of filmy smoke or something. He still had that big smile looking right at me, and it’s like he faded into some kind of fog and walked right through me and kept on going. I was sober as day, my friends, and I know what I saw. I turned around to look and there was that big guy walking away from me down Polk Street. Maybe he was heading to the symphony or something.
Well that whole scene messed me up pretty bad. I told some of my buddies about it and they just kind of laughed it off, said I was having a flashback or something. But it wasn’t like that. It was real, I’m telling you. I couldn’t sleep after that. The guy kept coming into my dreams, I kept seeing that smiling face, taunting me, and I’d wake up in a cold sweat. This went on for days.
During the day I started seeing him around the City everywhere I went. I’d be heading into the corner store and I’d see him down the street, just rounding the next corner. I’d see him on BART sometimes, but he was always getting on when I was getting off and I couldn’t catch him. Or he’d drive by me in a taxi and look at me through the window. I was getting seriously freaked out. I knew I wasn’t mental so I kind of kept it to myself, but those were some tough days. I kept in my apartment a lot, closed the blinds and just laid on my couch all day. I was tempted to start boozing it up to get him out of my mind, but you know I’m done with that. I was determined to sweat it out.
But at some point it got so bad that I had to leave the apartment, and ended up walking the City for three days straight. Slept in the park a couple nights, but otherwise was just walking, walking, walking. I walked all around downtown, up to Twin Peaks, all the way out to Ocean Beach. If I stayed moving, the anxiousness wasn’t so bad. When I was walking like that I didn’t see him, neither, so that was good. But I was tired. Man, I was tired. I found myself down by Fisherman’s Wharf and there’s that nice lawn next to Ghirardelli Square and it was a nice day so I just sat down and was resting there. And I was watching the boats out on the water, and it was peaceful. Just really satisfying. And just when I thought maybe I had finally kicked this thing and found some peace, coming under the bridge I saw this container ship, and I could not believe my eyes but there was a gigantic Buddha sitting on the bow of that ship. That Buddha was maybe 100 feet tall big as King Kong. He was sitting cross-legged at the bow of the ship, his big old Buddha head with his big old ear lobes, and that big old grin on his face just staring out in front of him, like he was the captain of the ship just guiding it into the bay or something. Just floating on into San Francisco Bay to haunt me.
I could not believe this. So there was this lady sitting next to me on the grass and I said to her, do you see that Buddha sitting on that container ship out there? And she said to me, what are you talking about; there’s no Buddha.
So that was awhile back, and it’s kind of like that still, but I’m doing better with it. I still do see him wherever I go though – coming out of churches like he’s some guest at a wedding, sometimes he’s the conductor of the streetcar or he’s just helping some little old lady cross the street or something.
And you know, I still think about killing the Buddha but he never seems to get close enough to me since that night for me to actually do the deed. I’m ready for him now, though. I wish I could – not just for the atonement and getting in the good graces of people like you folks here, but also just to get that sucker out of my head at this point. Always when I seen him he’s smiling at me, and I just can’t get that, because given he’s the Buddha–he must know I mean to kill him.
So I’ve come here tonight to see if you can help me. I figure the guy must come around here a lot, right? Maybe we can work together on this one. If you see that guy, will you help me kill him? Will you help me, sir?
Will you help me?