Thursday, December 22, 2011

Xmas day is every day

Xmas day is every day
A work of fiction by Tobias Nixon

Rating: MA 15+

Profanity (swearing) warning

Reading pretty much most books (other than Mein Kampf say) is an opportunity to open your heart. When (if) you finish this novella go donate some money (but only in lieu of your time if you’re too busy) or your time to someone that needs it. Then do something even more amazing and don’t tell anyone about it. You will feel at least 2000 years old! This is what Buddha and Jesus were banging on about; that moment. Trust me. It’s priceless... unlike Xmas which can be expensive, except that luckily shopping is fun.

Friday the 28th of January, 2011

William Davies was a smart, articulate and well heeled young man. A grommet that loved to surf his local, all he did these days was surf the web looking for new ways to make his employers the Royal bank of Scotland, obscenely rich. Part of the banks private wealth equity division, Will was that peculiar kind of genius known as dealer. It was just in Will’s case no one, not even his boss, could quite define his role.

To guys like Will everything just came naturally, automatically; It was an un-written rule of wealth creation, as long as they kept things in the black most of the time, you didn’t put too many things in their way of a guy like Will. That was pre-GFC land anyway. This year things had started to heat up, the bean counters in financial accounting wanted more details, more data, and more analysis. To Will what they wanted amounted to one thing, they wanted him to give them a guarantee against risk, whilst locking in ever tighter margins at the line. It was ridiculous, but hey boss dogs got what boss dogs wanted.

William had flown through high school and university finishing his masters in economics and applied mathematics before the age of twenty four.  He lived in an apartment on York Street, no more than six or so blocks from work. It was one of the things he enjoyed the most. Every morning leaving his neat one bedroom apartment with the pre-Bangaroo water views and heading down past the Wynyard bus exchange to the bottom of martin place, walking up martin place and heading left along Elizabeth towards RBS.

Walking purposefully, his large six foot two frame strode forward in the blue striped Versace tailored suit he always wore on Fridays. The morning shot of doppio was held between left thumb and naked ring finger, ready for consumption during the 8 am market briefing. It always helped to stay awake when Dr. “boring” Etswitzch was banging on about an equity market’s volatility or the euro-zone’s risk premiums, something that seemed to come up alot of late. What a joke thought Will, if you were green enough to have missed the latest overnight market data and couldn’t analyse it for yourself on the spot, then you were probably the poor bastard helping Dr Boring with his daily slide deck.

For guys like William this was a summary of info he’d been consuming since he awoke three hours earlier. Power to the people, the smart got rich, worked harder and smarter. Then you had a fucken chance. Otherwise you were just fish food for some equity dealer to short the shit out of. There was no such thing as being on your game and unlucky. Will didn’t believe in it. He believed in what he could fold and count. Power was a gift to spend and in the scheme of things buy even more. Lend it out and gather more in, borrow, buy, borrow, buy, borrow, sell, payback, and bank that fat roll every time.

Breaking through the George St throng, he headed up in the early dawn sun past the Anzac memorial. His head tilted curiously on a sharp angle to the right as the sunshine glinted from the top of the tomb. It caught in his eyes and made him blink. He thought he saw an old soldier with a ramrod straight back and the most powerful look he had ever seen staring back at him. When he blinked the image of the man standing next to the tomb was gone.

Halfway up the left side of martin place the human traffic thinned around an old man sitting close to the wall of the ANZ bank’s ATM. His form was obscured by a blanket and the worst smelliest clothes that William had ever seen. People made a visible effort to maintain a metre’s separation as they skirted his crappy cardboard plea-sign and soft upended hat of silver coins.

Was he a druggie? A doped out Cabra junkie, out of cash and chasing the dragon. Half the hopeless seemed to be smackie’s. Their lost vacant stares absolved in the escapism they craved. Dissolution of pain, into the warmth of the dragons caress. The sweet feeling you never, ever wanted to let go of.

William Davies didn’t quite know, now he thought to himself. Was it the smell or his nasty appearance that meant those of a less charitable nature (everyone) blocked him out as they walked quickly by. His pathetic hat had by William’s eagle eye all of seventy cents, not a coin more.

For some strange reason he felt his hand reaching inside for loose change. He never did that, not ever. These guys were all government employed beggars that supplemented their income with cash from the misguided. It was society’s guilt trip, everyone knew that. Still he bowled the gold and silver in his hand ($5.85, by his touch), underarm, roughly at the cap, and walked on.

For a moment he thought the old man stared at him. The stare wasn’t a drunken haze gaze. It wasn’t the self-hatred of life time of misery. The man looked back at him with pity. The warmth of that gaze was truly a wonder to behold; William felt a strong rush of heat up his spine and shivered.

Both at the warmth he felt and the lasting effect that look of pity had had upon him. A second later he pushed the experience back down into the mind-depths and walked on. All that was left was confusion and anger towards the beggar that had looked down at him.

He had a feeling today was going to be a day to remember. A day to be a rock star, make big fat rolls of fold. A giant shark swimming in a tiny fucken fishbowl.

Friday the 25th of February, 2011

William slid out of bed, past the magnificent Chinese beauty that lay rugged up beneath the light summer sheets. Cute, the way she had kept him at bay. Last night had been months in the planning. Now though her sweetheart was just another entry in his book of girlfriends. His room looked brand new he reflected, because it was.

Post morning routine, adrenaline still pumping as he passed through Wynyard park.  A couple of old drunks lay happily in a semi-stupor amongst the grass edge and the plants. All liquored up with nowhere to sleep. Not that they could feel the difference between a soft bed of duck down and a concrete slab. Loser-scum. They had life fail tattooed in invisible ink on their foreheads. He felt hatred towards them, for the abject rejection of everything he held dear. End stage retro grade failure.

As he wheeled around the corner from George st onto martin place, the early sun blasted his vision. As he passed the Anzac memorial it shot down. The sun seemed to hit his eye; just like it had... he walked on. Three city pigeons were sitting on the ground, they took to flight in front of him rising quickly straight up.

Marching still filled with an anger that burnt. Holding his doppio regally, back straight, the morning hardened his thoughts. It felt right to be powerful, to be entering the inner circle. The dealing was getting intense. The vast flows of capital from china seemed to want coverage of an ever increasing range of investment options opening up all over the North West corridor of Australia. There was an energy crisis coming and the smart banks were preparing for the inevitable crunch.

Halfway up the left side of martin place the human traffic thinned around an old man who was begging near to the ANZ hole in the wall. More scum. As he came closer, he noticed it was the same beggar from a month ago. Same dirty hair. Same dirty fucken stare. He turned to look as he was all the way past the seated man. The beggar smiled sadly. Pity leaked from his eyes.

The feeling Will got was nothing like last time, when he’d felt a mild rush of heat up his spine. This time was like a furnace. After the fire rose, his head lacked the rationalisation of fear. He was one hundred percent open. Suddenly the other man’s pity felt very real. His own honesty was laid bare, exposed to a mind suddenly hungry for truth. Then the beggar laughed at him, laughed crudely, roughly but not cruelly. The laughter echoed in Will’s ears. Time seemed to stop and his eyes were able to concentrate on the entire field of vision. He felt low. He knew that he was small, tiny. Golden shadows walked back and forth, but nobody even knew he was there.

A black pit of emptiness opened up around his feet. He felt his body sinking. As he sunk shadows of everyone, everything, every object of his hatred floated past. The more he watched the procession the faster he sunk. He looked down, there was nothing.

An age past, eventually only a tinge of sadness remained. He opened his eyes and stared back at the beggar. He looked at his watch, he’d only been stopped for a minute. Wtf? He’d been pulling back to back 14 hour weeks. Hallucinations were a job hazard.

As he continued on across the road to the Channel 7 building in Martin place, he though he heard the beggar whisper, “... how quickly we rationalise that awkward truth we chose to forget.”

Friday the 25th of March, 2011

William swung out of bed, careful not to alarm the gentle Namibian hottie. Gentle that was unless you made the mistake of waking her up. Only assholes made the same mistake twice. Last night had been a top ten moment. Sad because the last two weeks were holding down spots 1 through 5. He almost felt bad about the break up email he had scheduled Outlook to send later today.  

Post morning routine, adrenaline still pumping as he passed through Wynyard park.  Rushing. Walking at full stride through the under throng past Bar 333, and wading into the west side traffic waiting to cross George St.

As he wheeled around the corner from George onto martin place, the early sun met his vision. He passed the Anzac memorial, and... Almost crashed straight into an old lady.

“Look where you’re going.” She cried.

He stared not sure what had happened. Cross traffic? No she had acted as though he had stumbled towards her. He smiled quickly at her, apologetically. It felt unnatural, but, whatever. Smiles were free.

“You a lawyer sonny?” she questioned him as he stepped around her and continued on. “Forgotten how to say sorry?” her mild tone and scolding manner grated on him, reminding him off his mum.

He was marching on now filled completely with a red hot anger that burnt. Holding his doppio regally, back straight, the morning hardened his thoughts. Some people composed symphonies in the shower; he built strategic models investment risk as he walked. The nameless faces were his “notes” each new face caused his mind to instantly reconnect the thousands of data points. Then he’d let things settle down. Usually before lunch he would fly into the head dealer (Jack Stevens) office and put forward a proposal that made shareholders happy.

Four weeks ago the things had gone to whole new level. Audit had found liquidity short fall of over four billion dollars. Dealing room was on a mad scramble to make it back pronto. High risk trading ensued. Forex and low cap mining stocks were plundered. People’s bonuses were on the line. Sleep was an option for the lazy. 

Halfway up the left side of martin place the human traffic thinned around the beggar he had seen last month, in the same place, near to the ANZ hole in the wall. The beggar smiled at him with an intense pity that burnt. Pity that leaked from his eyes. Why? Why do you pity me old man? He asked silently. He felt the warm eyes trailing him as he walked straight past.

Friday the 29th of April, 2011

William rose from his slumber, the gorgeous finish blonde murmured. As he tried to swing from the bed she laid soft hands across his belly.

“Don’t” it was a command with a promise attached. And who exactly was he to argue with that?

Several extremely pleasurable minutes later and he was working up a different kind of sweat. The morning routine never quite felt so good when it came second.  Not that there was a single ounce of sympathy anywhere on the planet. Adrenaline eventually overrode testosterone. It had to it was the alpha hormone.

As he wheeled around the corner from George onto martin place, the early sun met his vision. He passed the Anzac memorial. In the distance the sound of music filtered softly past his ears. A kid on a skateboard zoomed by. Leering at him.

A beggar sat near the steps of the Armani Exchange shopfront. The man was drunk and high. His slurring speech barely audible as he asked for cash. His pocket had loose change from last night’s boozy birthday party for the hot Exec P.A. at Eden. He pulled it from his pocket in disgust. Held it out palm up stretched, as he walked straight past. He could feel the man’s eyes. Trying to decide whether to rob him right there and then. Only for half a second, before those red eyes sunk back into their hollow skull.

He walked on driven by his fury at those that refused to help themselves.  He wondered idly if the drunk had made him angry because he reminded him of that bloody... beggar! There he was sitting straight backed on his smelly rag. Dirty felt hat upturned to collect the meagre droppings of a society that had both failed and scorned him.

In a dash he broke a half step, to bend and drop the shower of metal currency into the cap. It was like a ritual. It made him feel better, and not because he was “giving to the poor”. He was sick of feeling that pity. The beggar should pity him. The man barely collected enough coin to buy a big mac. He smiled condescendingly down at the old man.

As he regathered his stride on the full step, the man’s voice cut a line of ice along his side, “I thank you good Sir. You are a generous man. Are you sure however you would not like keep this?”

Will didn’t look back as he crossed the road with the Channel 7 sunrise lights burning in his eyes. He just knew the old man was holding his felt hat up towards his back. 

Friday the of 27th May, 2011

William was lying wide awake as sunrays cut across his open bedroom window. The flaming redheaded beauty that lay beside him slept, nuzzling in the foetal position up against his side.

He flew through his morning routine. Arms bulged, feeling tight from the build-up of lactic acid.

Ground hog day once again he thought as he passed the Anzac memorial. The sun seemed to hit his eye; just like it had... he walked on with his eyes closed for several seconds.

Walking purposefully, in his nice blue striped Versace suit. The morning shot of doppio held between his left thumb and ring finger. Truly life was grand when you were making close to twenty grand a week in commission. He kept getting emails from private equity affiliates telling him he could earn twice as much if jumped ship. Hell he could make twenty times as much if he bet against his own position, then routed the market, by shorting the hell out of whatever garbage was on the hit list for today. Probably why it was illegal, as well as an incredibly dumb way to get caught on the take.

Halfway up the left side of martin place the human traffic thinned around that old man who was begging near to the ANZ hole in the wall. The man smiled at him as he approached. He didn’t even look at him. He knew the look of pity that went with those eyes. So caring and so full of inner wisdom. He had a takeover to complete before lunch. Feeling bad today just wasn’t on the agenda.

As he passed the beggar he threw a thin rollette of fifty dollar bills down. “Enjoy old man”.

The beggar didn’t even seem to notice him.

Friday the 24th of June, 2011

William bounced out bed, making up for lost time he skipped his usual routine and only did 500 sit-ups, 100 push-ups, skipping the twenty military pull-ups all together. His rock hard abdominals were usually the last thing his current brown haired honey needed to feel. Shear unfaked ecstasy quickly followed. Shower-breakfast-shave was a new record time and he was back on track.

Ground hog day he thought as he passed the Anzac memorial. The sun seemed to hit his eye; just like it had... he walked on.

Walking purposefully, his large frame filled out the blue striped Versace suit nicely. The morning shot of doppio held between left thumb and ring finger.

Halfway up the left side of martin place the human traffic thinned around an old man who was begging near to the ANZ hole in the wall. As he came closer, he noticed the smell it was so nasty. He turned to look as he was halfway past the seated man, the man smiled the sweetest, most pure smile he had ever seen. Not at him, but around him. He felt, better, without really knowing why. He knew it was the smile.

Walking on past the dirty beggar, he turned and looked back at the man staring at him. Both men looked at each other deeply for several seconds, and then William broke the gaze, looking down. He got the impression that the beggar could have kept that trick up all day.

Instinctively William walked back to the man, asking him, “How do you do that?”

The man just smiled back for long seconds, and then he said, “How do I do what? This universe, it trembles every time you take a step young man, the real question is, will you ever figure out how in time to do something with your immeasurable power?”

Who was this beggar to be lecturing him? William started to feel indignant. He’d just wanted to say hi, and thanks, but somehow the whole thing had been taken to another level. I mean come on, he had already achieved more in his twenty five odd years of life than this bum was ever going to experience. Still it was hard for him to feel pity.

“Listen douche bag, I’d like to stay and chat, explain to scum like you, exactly how fucken worthless you are, why cockroaches like you are nothing but a burden on society... but I have an 8 am. Enjoy the dirt, traveller.”

“I apologise if I have offended you, it was no more and no less than you needed to hear. If the words fall on deaf ears, the listener must learn a new way to hear the words. I am Master Batia-chan; it was my master’s name before he passed it on to me. If you would like, what is your name?”

William stared at the man. He really stared and felt like he was on the cusp of a decision. He kept coming back to that smile; it had eclipsed all the random shit of work and life in one fell swoop. He really wanted to know. “I’m... William Davies.”

He paused, normally at this point if it was an acquaintance, he would have mentioned “senior equities dealer, for the Royal bank of Scotland” or more simply, just “Banker, RBS” if it was a platinum piece of booty, that he was trying to drop a value proposition on.

“It is a pleasure to meet you Mr Davies, I have a feeling you are going to open those ears of yours very soon. Now however, I guess I should point out its well 7:57 am, and... Uh, didn’t you say you had an 8 o’clock?”

“Shit! Last man in buys the first round after work... I’ve never been last.”

Something made him want to stay even as he looked down at his watch. Impossible. He’d been here for barely a minute, but the watch said twenty.

Pushing impossibilities to the bottom, he let the latest Euro bond cross rates percolate up, dominant headlines speaking of unspeakable economic destruction. He sprinted now, not caring about damaging the four thousand dollar suit. It felt good to run. Like not everything was yet under his control. Oh, but soon. He had a feeling this was the year of the dealer’s paradise. A year to make a fortune, on ultra volatile world markets. He fucken lived for this shit.

Friday the 29th of July, 2011

William moved his legs in precision like a gymnast to slide from bed to ground. His morning routine was the start to success. So said his dad, a man Will could quote at will. 1000 sit-ups, push-ups till failure, twenty military pull-ups. The brunette lying naked amongst the silk sheets. Her soft heaving chest uncovered. Long slender arms held back against the bed head. Dammit if he didn’t stop looking soon, they’d both be sweating it out for another quarter of an hour. He was curious though, he thought maybe the old guy would be there today. No idea why but somehow curiosity won out over a nine from ten stunner, that would do... anything. An RBS PR chick. Go figure. Shower-breakfast-shave.

Sure enough he noticed the start of another ground hog day as he passed the Anzac memorial. The sun seemed to hit his eyes, the morning’s luminosity jumped slightly, things felt lighter... he walked on.

Blue striped Versace suit wearer. One percenter. Living the dream. The morning shot of doppio was held between left thumb and ring finger. His arm was raised and he carried the small cup like an attendant walking in front of his king.

Halfway up the left side of martin place the human traffic thinned around an old man who was begging near to the ANZ hole in the wall. As he came closer, he seemed not to notice the smell. The man’s appearance was less noteworthy. Will knew he was being superficial when he judged someone like that but somehow he’d always justified it as a necessary cost of doing business. A cost that always seemed so necessary and yet also mildly unpleasant.

He looked closer at the beggar, the eyes were sharp. There was no mistaking it, it was... Master Batia-chan, gazing straight out at him through the crowd. The soft felt cap was even emptier there was barely ten cents inside. Batia-chan looked down at the cap despondently, then brightly back up at Will. He smiled, and William’s world started to dissolve. The accumulated stress of a week of back-to-back planning meetings for the firm’s latest acquisition was starting to add up. Suddenly it was all gone. Just a black void and two men. One sitting peacefully, the other starting to talk, his head wrapped in the demons that consumed him.

“William Davies?”

“Hi... Batia-chan??”

“That is I, young Will. May I call you that?” smiling he continued on, not waiting for a response.

“There are eight noble truths in this world. However only the first is really important, all the rest come from that one. Your path, my path, we are all guided by compassion. Compassion for our fellow human beings, for the creatures, for the earth and its fauna. Most of your fellow human beings get to the finish line without a seconds thought for the journey. Young Will, I wonder if you can let go of your greed and embrace those who are less fortunate?”

“I’m listening.”

“That is a start as they say, young Will. But I wonder if you understand my words...”

Just then someone bumped roughly into Will. The force of the blow knocked him sideways away from the seated man. He looked to his left where the other person had come from. The sight that greeted him made him angry at once. A young junkie, track marks fresh on pale white arms stared back at him with a half vacant, half uncaring visage.

“Fuck you asshole! Watch where your fucken well going.” He cursed. He made to push the junkie but the guy was too quick, small, hungry, but nimble and quick.

The next second his right arm was reaching low, scooping the meagre contents of Master Batia-chan’s hat and running across the Elizabeth Street intersection.

Suddenly the old man began to laugh. Someone had just taken his last ten cents, and he had the good humour to laugh like a world class comedian was giving him a private show.  Will couldn’t help it, the laughter was completely infectious. It rolled out deep from the man’s belly, a rumbling for which each wave of bass hit him like something physical. After a couple of seconds he began to laugh too. At first he had no idea why he felt this way, but then he realised, he was letting go of the moment before, letting go of the things which in his mind he used to judge that poor miscreant.

“Good. You have much to learn. However that’s a start Will. The most important part about compassion is letting go of those that hurt you. There will always be situations that cannot be resolved but through force. At which point you have a choice most of the time, to run or to confront that force and cause more violence. The hardest thing is to show a kindness to someone straight after they have slapped you in the face. That takes ten times more courage than to raise your fists in anger.”

“Sounds like the Buddhist philosophy of non-aggression. Fundamentally I don’t disagree with it, but let’s face it, in this dog eat dog world of ours, you would get trampled back into the dirt if you lived by that kind of credos. It’s just the reality; we can’t really be compassionate, until we are loaded like Bill Gates.”

“He is a good man, who does great good in this world. But no matter how powerful, he is one man.”

“One man, with an army of help.”

“Yes you are right. You speak of the reality of that situation, but here is reality and it is filled with beings that are all capable of the same degree of compassion. It is only our imagination that limits us. The power to change the world is inside each one of us. You are a man of great good, young Will. I see this inside you. I also see seeds of anger and the onset of greed. You have a choice young man, one you will be asked to make before this year is out; you can either embrace the true path, or be crippled by the forces that have already begun to consume your mind.”

He left the old man then walking briskly towards work, feeling somewhat hollow not knowing quite what to think. Harsh words, made harsher by the recent events. The adrenaline from the shove had elevated his blood pressure, giving him the jitters. It seemed to trigger goose bumps and warm rush of heat up the back of his spine.

He thought of his mother, the final time he’d seen her, her blackened body burnt beyond recognition, trapped within a twisted metal cage. He’d refused to even climb into a car for two years afterwards, and he still preferred to walk. Silent tears trickled down the outside of his eyes onto and along the strong male jaw line, two rivulets arcing towards his chin.

Still it was hard to think of the junkie as a fellow human being, much less someone to have compassion for. The man was just scum wasn’t he?  His watch said 7:58 AM. Shit, time to run, after last month he really didn’t want to buy another $1000 round. The time dilation effect. Again. #Time-fail. What was with that? Why did he keep running into this old man that made him laugh and cry.

Friday the 26th of August, 2011

William moved his legs in precision like a gymnast to slide from bed to ground. The bed was filled with a petite young thing with long unfurled locks of honey brown hair. His quest for female perfection seemed matched to his age. A quest unfulfilled, because the conquest always came first, conversation second, the “getting to know you”... hmm well not yet anyway.

The pretty uni student (he think he remember her saying) pushed one of her pins out slowly alongside his outer thigh, rubbing it. She curled around on top, and then started to give him a gentle back rub.

He brushed her off gently in return. No time for games, today. He had a market to beat, he had to stay focused, on... his morning routine.

1000 sit-ups, push-ups till failure, twenty military pull-ups.

Undeterred by a governor-general’s daughter, undeterred by what was left of her lingerie. She started to massage his back. She was moving in to press her chest against his; warmth quickly spread sucking him backwards towards the bed. Undeterred by fate, he made opportunities, he didn’t succumb to them.

Morning playthings be damned. Morning routines were made to be adhered to. If she was there when he got home tonight, he’d make it up to her. Shower-breakfast-shave.

He marched gamely down through the Wynyard bus interchange, Gucci loafers clicking crisply against the hard concrete skin of the city. The early morning light was invigorating. The passing traffic cast hollow stares vacantly at him, past him, through him at destination dullness. Such was the lot of the city worker. 

Three white doves dove low as he passed the Anzac memorial. As the doves wheeled, rising, two children screamed into view around the far side of the cenotaph. Smiling happy little kids, Australia’s future. The sun seemed to find his eyes, hitting them hard. The morning’s luminosity jumped up noticeably, things felt light... he walked on.

A Versace suit that drew and held the eye. A morning shot of doppio that was held between left thumb and ring finger. The ten thousand dollar Cartier watch around his left wrist.

Halfway up the left side of martin place the human traffic thinned around Master Batia-chan, who was begging near to the ANZ bank. As he came closer he realised there was no smell, the smell was visual, quite simply Batia-chan looked so terrible he had to smell. But he didn’t.

“Hello young Will!” Batia-chan beamed enthusiastically. He smiled in that infectious way he could.

“Hi.” Said Will, more noncommittally. Last month felt like yesterday. He was prepared today he left half an hour earlier, and he was keeping a close eye on his watch.

“It will do you no good young man. You think that you can control the flow of time? How bold, how arrogant.” His smile beamed out looking over William curiously.

“Why are you filled with so much happiness? Life can’t be that good.”  Despite the man’s sometimes harsh character assessment to date, Will who was never one to shy away from feedback, had started to warm to Batia-chan despite himself.

“Au contraire young Will, life has never been better. As I sit here I know that my life is fulfilled, while when I look over at you, sadly I only see a discontent individual whose life is slipping past him. Mental happiness starts up here Will.” Batia-chan pointed to his head, and continued.

“Are you happy Will?”

“I’m driven, successful, life just comes easy, it’s my playground and I’m its rock star. So yeah Batia-chan I’m happy. If I do it right I’ll be retired by next year. Not bad huh?” He didn’t know why he’d added the last, he never shared that. The rest was a throwaway line; he’d said it so many times it felt real.

Batia-chan just looked at him mournfully. Just then across the intersection somebody screamed. The sound of heavy braking briefly preceded audio visual carnage. A truck had come roaring up behind a car which had suddenly stopped for a pedestrian mistiming the crossing.

The much larger truck punched the car from behind, jack-knifing it forward, and narrowly missing the harried jay walker, who scuttled for the safety of the gutter. The car was another matter, it was a wreck, the truck had now stopped and the driver was gamely trying to get out. Nearby people were stopping, some running including from nearby buildings to help with the emergency.

Without even realising it, tears started to stream down William’s eyes. He watched as the police and ambulance arrived. It seemed the lady in the car was stable enough to take to hospital. The impromptu crowd roused a cheer. She in turn smiled weakly from the ambulance trolley half raising a hand in response to the them.

“Are you ok Will?” asked Batia-chan, the concern was etched into his eyes. The concern was deep it felt like someone was tugging on his soul. Words came then, stream of consciousness styles.

“No. Your right though, I’m not happy. What kind of a man, just freezes and cries at tragedy like that? Don’t worry I know the answer to that. Real men don’t cry. Aww shit, I don’t know Batia-chan, I got so angry after my mum died you know? I was angry at the world, and my selfishness had no one to reign it in any longer. She died in a car crash. I rebuilt the only way I knew how, with shear bloody minded determination. I kept succeeding, because I would never, ever let up. Her body was broken mate. Have you ever seen someone so mangled you can’t even tell if they are human? She died in agony Batia-chan. I wasn’t even there for her.”

“I am so sorry to hear of your loss William. Truly I am.” The rivers of tears continued to stream down William’s face. He couldn’t focus, in his mind he was ten standing on the side of the road, as the fireman tried in vain to cut the wreckage for a better look inside. And then the explosion of pain, the visual waves of nausea. Her body ungazing back at his. Chaos ripped through his mind as he shuffled along the footpaths that led to the RBS building.

Friday the 30th of September, 2011

“Hi Will”

“I’m sorry to have left you like that last month Batia-chan. The moment stirred a kind of madness inside of me that turned to something I still don’t quite understand.”

“It’s ok. Your mind was torn by an event which in your mind is as raw as the day it happened. You still have great anger towards yourself, anger that you left to burn for far too long. At first it helped you, motivated you. Now like all things it comes calling for payment. The price as you are beginning to realise is too high. It will either kill you or drive you insane. “

“How do I let go of that though Batia-chan?”

“Simply Will? You don’t.  Why should you? It is as much a part of you as that beautiful watch or your powerful right arm. You must forgive yourself, and then you must try and do good in this world. Showing real kindness to others is one way you can begin to heal your broken heart.”

At that time a poor old lady, in an even more dishevelled state than Batia-chan limped by. In her eyes were tangible lines of pain that cut through the two of them. Torture-pain-abuse. This woman had not a single drop of hope. The sparkle in her eyes was not there at all.

Without hesitation Batia-chan sprang up from his small dirty mat, and stepped into the path of the woman. He bowed to her, then spoke in another language (it sounded Cyrillic) smiling all the while at her. She stepped back from him but he stepped neatly into the gap using his left arm to protectively hug her shoulder in a comforting gesture. As he did this he placed the money from his begging cap into her tight gnarled paw.

He pressed it there when she resisted, her once proud features suddenly jumping to the forefront. He smiled at her and spoke again in her native language. The woman hesitated. It was as if, at that moment an epic battle raged within her. Her hardened features searched Batia-chan’s face suspiciously.

Then the most amazing thing happened, she cracked a strong vibrant smile and hugged Batia-chan. This old twisted mean looking lady suddenly looked as sprightly as when she was twenty years old. They were still chatting happily as Will quietly sauntered off towards work. In his mind a world for which he had invested so much, was slowly crumbing into a sea of sorrow he had never even known existed. In his eyes the pain of a cold uncaring world could for this moment at least no longer be fully rationalised. The pain-tears welled and poured, but he didn’t care. Something brewed inside, something he no longer cared to hide.

Friday the 28th of October, 2011

Breaking through the George St throng, he headed up in the early dawn sun past the Anzac memorial. His head tilted curiously on a sharp angle to the right as the sunshine glinted from the top of the tomb. It caught in his eyes and made him blink. He thought he saw a Buddhist monk, the prayer beads handing from his right hand, his left arm folded in supplication. When he blinked the image of the monk standing next to the tomb was gone.

“My friend!” shouted Batia-chan across the concourse.

Will had not seen his friend at the normal place outside the bank, knowledge that had unexpectantly hit him like a rocket. That the beggar genuinely meant something to him. Just another of life’s harsh lessons. Now though he was happy, and charged across the concourse to his friends spot outside the MLC complex.

“How are you Batia-chan?” Will smiled back

“I see you have remembered to smile.”

As they began to chat, Will pulled out a roll of cash that he had withdrawn earlier. It was in the thousands. As he slowly lowered it to Batia-chan’s hat, a shocking thing happened.

Contrary to the beggars weedy appearance, with his frail stooping bent and gnarled looking face and hands, an arm as strong as a heavy weight boxer shot out encircling Will’s wrist in an iron lock. Despite the shock Will instinctively struggled to break the grip. To not do so would be a sign of weakness. Batia-chan’s hand didn’t even tremble. It just stayed in exactly the same position.

“Do not give this to me William. You insult me, as a friend.” Batia-chan turned precisely ninety degrees to the right facing away to the subway entrance. His hand disappeared back into his robes.

“I fear that you still have not understood what I have been trying to show you all along. It is right before your eyes. The anger you have towards yourself, you must find some way of atonement that lets you release it.”  He paused then turned to look directly at William. He wasn’t smiling. The pity was gone, only sadness remained.

“If I see you again, it will be because you have started to walk the path of the Tao.”
Will looked at his friend again but the other man wouldn’t look back at him. In the end feeling uncomfortable and more than a little lost he turned towards work. Batia-chan didn’t want his money, but clearly wanted him to be a better person. It seemed that to Batia-chan, money had no true value; it was the value of the individual’s contribution, the helping of other human beings.

Friday the 25th of November, 2011

William Davies sat alone, cross legged in his bed. The morning light shone through the window. He barely felt the warm rays on his back. In his thoughts a rebellion was mounting. The forces of good could be held back no longer. The priorities he had held so dear: To have a star studded career with an important equities dealer, to meet every last hottie in Sydney, to retire by the age of 35.

Such things seemed now to him so incredibly hollow. The fantasies of another man, from a time when he had stopped calculating the truth worth of others. Too busy calculating how he could use every last thing around him to his advantage. His edge in business had been his personal downfall in life.

Now though the mind seemed gradually each day to be clearer. The thoughts that came to him now were infinitely more rewarding. All of them stemmed from a single source, a man that had been willing to open his eyes and his heart to the fact that life had so much more to offer. A friend that he believed was now lost to him forever. Betrayed by his own greed.

Atonement: that’s what Batia-chan had said he needed to find. The day after he had last seen Batia, the last Saturday in October, William had hired a small ute, spend the entire bank roll of notes on supplies, loaded them up into the pickup and missioned out west to distribute them.

That money had felt like poison after Batia rejected it. He hadn’t been able to concentrate at all until the food and clothes had all been given out.

Now sitting here in bed, his thoughts were caught up in memories of the smiling faces of those he had helped. The golden look of a child, receiving a much needed sweater. The gruff yet thankful look of appreciation from a parent too poor to properly cloth their family. To Will it hadn’t been until he’d got out there and begun to see the silent pain of Sydney’s underbelly that he had begun to understand how deeply he might have hurt Batia.

He raised himself; the period of reflection had been sobering. Swinging wide from the bed, he stripped down and began a new kind of morning ritual. A cold shower followed by a vigorous scrub down. The first couple of times it had been shear torture to his soft shell. Now weeks later the ritual of purification raised his awareness to new levels, both physical and mental skins felt clean.

He yoga-stretched, then forced his legs into a half lotus and began to meditate. Amazing how since he had started with a five minute routine four weeks ago, he had no more headaches, no more stress. The mind wanted to respond, but he realised you had to feed it. It wanted to think thoughts that made the individual happy, it was just that if you filled a cup full of acid; it was kinda hard to swallow. The mind was like that, it could take just about anything, but if you put enough shit in there sooner or later the chaos would erupt in very human emotions; anger, hate, self-loathing and fear.

His walk to work was just the same, only just that it was completely different. Instead of seeing “scum” he saw people in need. Instead of seeing “losers” he marked the location of the needy letting ideas that had at their root a philosophy of doing good, incubate. He knew deep down that the change was on him now, that what Batia had done was push him down his own path, his Tao.

He had half expected his career to slide of the face of the earth, but confusingly to him, if anything the opposite had happened. Everyone seemed to like the new Will. It seemed no one shared his concern that you could be both a nice guy and successful. The pre-conditions to success in William’s mind had taken a 180 degree shift.

When he saw a different beggar sitting at the spot Batia had used to occupy outside the ANZ building, he knew it was time to start the next part of his journey. Approaching the man he poured some coins into the hat, then squatting bent down and began to chat pleasantly to the troubled street warrior. He gave himself an extra half an hour these days. Just to listen. It was almost more than he could take. The first time. Now several weeks later, as he listened intently to this man’s tale of pain and woe, his eyes shone with care and understanding. The same set of sales skills that made his company millions of dollars from wining, dining and schmoozing clients were now put to better use.

Friday the 23rd of December, 2011

William woke up this morning, it was still dark. His eyes shone with inner light. He had been up all night making preparations. Now though all he wanted to do was cleanse himself and prepare for the day. Work had finished on Wednesday. Since sleeping in wasn’t in his DNA, his morning routine remained unchanged.

The meditation now lasted close to an hour. He was making progress, able to keep his mind empty for minutes now. The thoughts that had controlled and consumed his mind were distant now. The rage and anger were gone starved of fuel.

He went downstairs, carrying two boxes in each large hand. Checking the ute, he made several more trips loading it up each time with more boxes. Finally he made one more trip, putting the suit on and scrambling out the door.

First stop was a hospital out at Liverpool. The children screamed in excitement as Santa Claus came through the ward doors. When they ripped open the presents the screams of excitement were so loud several nurses came rushing in checking to see if their patients were ok. He tried to listen to each set of parents, but it was hard. Some of the kids were as young as one; almost all of them would save but for the grace god, be dead within twelve months. Tough little troopers he thought. A single thought filled his mind; I would give everything I had, just to save one of you. To take away the pain.

As he left, his Santa beard moist with tears, he made a few calls. Next stop a YMCA near Cabramatta. Then housing commission block of units out at Penrith. Each time he made sure that he spent time listening to the problems and the tales of life that the needy told him. Each time he smiled gently, wished them all the best and promised that he would return to visit.

By the end of the day he was beat. Not so much physically, but the emotional strain had long since reached its climax. All he wanted to do was sleep. Instead he parked the ute and walked back towards Martin place. Maybe just maybe he would catch up with Batia one more time. Then man had become like a guru to him, and he desperately wanted to tell him that he had changed.

But even though he searched all over the cbd for three hours, the old beggar was nowhere to be seen. He spent time with the homeless he could find, but no one had even ever heard of Batia-chan.

Finally, smiling in final realisation, he knew that this was what Batia-chan had really meant about finding the way for himself. The way without Batia-chan to hold his hand, the way unclouded by his own emotional baggage. Feeling free at last he walked back down Martin place.

As he past the Anzac memorial, his eyes lit up. For a moment he thought he saw the image of Batia-chan, in golden bursts of sunrays, smiling down at him from atop the cenotaph. Then he blinked and the image was gone. He would remember it always. It was the face of Batia-chan, but he was dressed in the most elegant suit Will had ever seen. The stance, the bearing, and in his hand he carried the ceremonial sword of office given to the chief of Army. For Will this was the final lesson; that appearances did not matter, that every human being mattered, that to heal others or yourself you first had to be prepared to listen, and not to judge. Giving was/is just an expression of caring. Material things have no value to the soul unless they are given with a smile and a purpose.

: End

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