Chinese? I’m American, baby. My name means less than nothing.

A guy I knew? We called him Puddles. He spoke
with a speech impediment (like James Earl Jones

did as a kid, before he played Vader’s voice).
The issue he had is called rhoticism.

It’s when someone can’t pronounce the letter R.
Killing time? That’s called chronocide. If enough

of the stuff has passed there’s no getting it back.
Not now. Not tomorrow. Not ever. All

you can do is strive on. Try to be better.
Or, offing yourself is always an option.

It’s called suicide and it’s a mortal sin.
Or maybe it’s just a way of saying, “You

can’t fire me, God. I quit,” or “So long and
thanks for all the fish.” My humble opinion?

We have one job in life and that is, simply:
to live it the best way we can manage to

given our own unique set of events and
circumstances that nobody wants to hear.

Live life. There are no take-backs or do-overs.
There are zero mulligans afforded. It’s

once through the breach and you’re finished with the pain
you’ve held onto so tightly. For how long? Why?

Move forward in each moment of each day. The
only time that exists is right now. It’s true.

Look up from the screen you’re staring at and see
or have fun storming the castle in your game.

Whatever you damned kids do for fun these days.
Get off my lawn. I have a broom. Back to death.

If you take your own life, I’ve got a feeling
it’s back to the beginning for you. And man…

think things were bad this time around? Ha! Just wait
until you have to try it as someone else.

Let me tell you something: it’s a living Hell.
I apologize for my digression. Now…

back to Puddles. A few years ago he took
a trip to China and returned with a box

wrapped with red string. When he opened it, I saw
an ancient, brittle parchment with odd little

characters scrawled haphazardly over the
length of the document. There were notes in the

margins and a small drawing of a city
covered in snow, nestled between two rivers:

one labeled Tigris. The other, Euphrates.
I pointed. “Is that Mesopotamia?”

He looked at me, grinned and elevated both
of his brown eyebrows an inch or two. “You know…”

he said, carefully handing me the browned page.
“I brought this back for you. If you can translate

the words, you might see something familiar to
you. Or someone, perhaps. It’s possible you

will gain nothing of value from its contents.
Who am I to say?” I turned the page in my

hand, sighed and shook my head. “Bruh,” I began. “I
can’t translate this. It may as well be in Greek.”

“That’s on you,” Puddles replied, holding his hands
in the air as if I were arresting him.

“No one ever said the way would be easy.
If you try not, you will have been weighed, measured

and found to be wanting. Is it worth it, man?”
I nodded affirmation as I bit my

bottom lip and fought the urge to bitch about
the difficulty of learning a whole new

language just to obtain information that
may or may not apply to my life and death.

Knowing my luck it would be a commercial
for Ovaltine, the stand-up philosophy

of some 11th Century version of
Jerry Seinfeld (What’s the deal the Mongols?)

or the very first recipe for fried rice
to have ever been written down. Maybe not,

though, right? Maybe it was worth looking into.
I decided to find out. First thing I did

was hunt for a name and I quickly found one
at the bottom right corner of the parchment.

It read, simply: “Liu Yong – Song Dynasty.” “Hmmm,”
I thought, inside my head. “I wonder if he’s

related to Liu Kang, the ex-Shaolin Monk
turned Mortal Kombat warrior. I think not,

considering one of them isn’t real.” (Liu
two is from a video game and movie.

Still, do you know why he won the tournament
in the movie? It’s simple. He had Raiden

on his side, and Raiden? He is not human.
He’s a God inhabiting someone’s meat suit.

This being, less a He or a She than an
It, had glowing blue and white electric eyes

and could shoot lightning out of its fingertips
like the Emperor and Dooku in Star Wars.)

“Ok. That is enough procrastination.
It’s time to get down to some translation,”

I said, to no one. Puddles had been gone for
hours by that point. He was a weird dude, but

a good one. So what if he spoke like Matt Shultz,
Cage the Elephant’s front man in that song called

“Tiny Little Robots” on their first album?
You know what really gets me? When people think

Jethro Tull is just a guy in a band. Oh,
and by the way … which one’s Pink? Wait. Cage the El

-ephant or some band from Ye Olde England?
Why’s that important? Or … is it important?

You tell me. You’re intelligent, right? Of course.
You know all the lyrics to Mr. Ed, eh? Yes.

You remembered to bring the butfore, didn’t
you? Wait. Huh? What’s a butfore? It’s for pooping,

silly. Remember that joke from the South Park
musical extravaganza? Someone get

Wynona Ryder on the phone, stat. I’d like
to play ping pong with her like Forrest Gump did

back before he was a shrimpin’ boat captain.
Look, that film deserved the Oscar that year and

any asshole who says that movie sucks, sucks.
Build a million bridges, but if you don’t like

the flick starring Sir Tom Hanks and Lieutenant
Dan from CSI New York, we can’t be friends

and I may have to kill you with words. I mean,
come on. Sure, Pulp Fiction was more unique. Duh.

It also has my favorite cinema
joke of all time. The punchline? “Come on baby

tomato. Catsup.” Dogs down. Seriously.
David Bowie’s holding leashes of Hellhounds.

Anyone who’s anyone knows that. Shawshank
is one of the most re-watched and misquoted

films in history. Buxton, Maine? That’s where Red
found the little tin box with the Titanic

on it underneath the volcanic rock that
had no earthly business being where it was.

Shawshank Redemption is great, yes, but Forrest
Gump is my fave of the three. It makes me feel

like a kid again, because Forrest’s a kid,
for all intents and purposes. Hey … Bernard

from Lost banged his ma, by the way. “Heee… Heee … Heee.”
“Your momma sure does care about your schoolin’,

boy,” he said as he walked off into the night.
Remember when Lt. Dan fought with God?

The storm was raging and the legless man screamed,
“Come on! You call this a storm? Blow, you son of

a bitch! Blow! It’s time for a showdown. I’m right
here. Come and get me. You’ll never … sink … this … boat!”

Followed by the maniacal laughter of
an absolute madman. A pathetic fool

at the end of his pitiful rope. Oh man…
I am way off topic. Sorry. One more thing:

Did the grave scene make you cry? Me too. Back to
the manuscript. First thing I learned were numbers.

The digits I found on the page were one, ze-
-ro, zero, seven and three-point-catorce.

Que? Espanol. Just ask Bono and Colin
Ferrell. Hello, hello! Hola!) Anyway,

this text is definitely ancient and may
take a few months to translate. So … fast forward

nine years … this is the best I could figure out
on such short notice….

“My name is Liu, pronounced like a toilet in
a place I visited called England. I

was taken there aboard a red and orange
spinning wheel floating in the pure azure sky.

This all began when an acquaintance of mine
brought back a letter written in something called

Enochian. I had the most difficult
time translating it, but once I did … well,

let’s just say I see a lot of myself in
the man who wrote it. We were both insane men.

In fact, I think I may have been him. Or not.
I won’t presume to know the ways of our world

or of the space above the place we reside.
What I can say is something is happening,

but I haven’t a clue as to what. I pop
in and out of reality at any

given time and it confuses and scares me.
I am always the last person to know things.

Last week I found a copy of a book called
The Bible on a cart pushed by an old man.

I believe his name was Dennis. He said he
was being repressed, then he tossed me this tome

and told me to read through just one part of Job
(chapter 38) from beginning to end

whenever I saw fit to take my cloud of
fire and shove off to my home in Heaven.”

… At this point the text breaks and there are all sorts
of strange-looking symbols that I recognize

from that TV program, Supernatural.
I can only assume it’s Enochian.

I’ll have that part translated in another
decade or so. For now, here’s where Liu picks up:

“The year is now 10-25 and I am
home. Chong’an. The world seems much smaller to me.

Sadly, what I want – what’s most important to
me … is nigh unattainable … and should be.

I sit here alone, night after night, trying
to relive the best time of my entire

life. It was the 17th of December
in the year one thousand and seven AD.

Snow was falling in city called Baghdad
and all was right with the world, if only for

one shining moment beneath the stars above.
I walked arm and arm down snowy sidewalks with

a woman … I never caught her name, but her
eyes were the deepest brown, with sparkling

golden flakes that danced when she laughed. And she laughed
so often. As I lay dreaming of her, I

hope and pray she still laughs the way she once did
before I left her standing alone in a

storm with no hope of escape or salvation.
This is what that frozen town looked like that night: ===>”

The rest of the document is the same phrase
written on repeat, like crazy Jack in The

Shining. It says, simply: “Your my brown-eyed girl.”
Clearly Liu was an idiot. Everyone

knows that’s spelled, “why-oh-you-apostrophe-are-
-e. “You’re.” Pffft. English is easy. What are you…


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