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Home > Columns > Paul Schweer > September, 2006 - Need to Work Through

Need to Work Through by Paul Schweer


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I caught you knocking at my cellar door
I love you baby can I have some more

-- Neil Young

He hit me in the mouth. I'd been coming in hard, but met his fist before I could get to him. It stopped me short.

I stood where I'd stopped and looked at him. He started to reach for me, but pulled back quick for some reason. I felt my head tilt to one side. And I looked at him.

Somebody came at me slow, from the side. Said my name, then said, "You're bleeding."

I washed it out. Taped it up. Got back on the mat, but bled through. I tried again, covering my lower lip and most of my chin. But bled through again.

I couldn't figure out how to make it stop.

***

I had a salad. Chicken and nuts, chunks of fruit. No skinned potatoes. No red meat.

"So how did you feel," Sensei said, "about the last part?"

"The knife stuff?" Susan said. "I didn't like it."

"Some of your people did. Their faces changed. They liked it," he said. "Couple of the young men."

There was wine on the table. A red of some sort. It looked good to me.

"They need to work through that," he said.

I drank some Diet Coke and waited, wondering if the red was as good as it looked. And how it might taste with a salad. Not good, probably. Better with a slightly bloody something, no doubt.

"Doesn't have to be you," he said. "Have a couple of your black belts do it."

Maybe a white would work. Something crisp. Good as a red but better suited to what was on my plate.

***

He had my right arm. I turned and let him move past, rested my left hand on his shoulder, and brought both my feet up off the floor. His feet kept going, but his body stopped and tilted back. And we went down.

Near the floor things slowed down. I landed in seiza just as his shoulders touched, his head held forward. Then his neck unfolded as his head snapped back. Slow, seemed like -- skull striking the mat, making a muffled thump. Bouncing back up after impact.

He froze like that, lying on his back with his head held up.

Then he sighed.

I put a hand under his head. His eyes were open, but he wasn't looking at me. Didn't seem to be looking at anything. I moved closer to him. His head settled onto my lap, and I patted his hair.

After a bit he looked up at me and said, "I saw stars."

"Okay," I said.

Sensei appeared and said, "What happened?"

"I bounced his head off the mat," I said.

"Did he deserve it?"

I don't know.


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