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August is peak summer season in Japan.  We can look forward to some of the most spectacular fireworks displays and festivals in the world, ...

Omen of Death

Two very strange things happened to me recently. The dead black butterfly on my dashboard yesterday morning; I always lock my car doors. I have no idea how this black butterfly wound up dead on my dashboard - no one else has a key to my car but me. I gently removed it and placed it over by the garbage dump. It was a really beautiful full size black butterfly with trailing green and gold lines down the bottom backside of its wings.

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According to popular superstition a black butterfly is an omen of death, perhaps of a loved one or even your own death. The superstition also goes on to say that if you sight a black butterfly flying around you, you should kill it immediately! Do not let it fly out of your window or else misfortune will visit you. In my case, however, the butterfly was already dead and intact - no signs of physical abuse or struggle were there. Still it freaked me out knowing that there was a dead butterfly on the dashboard of my car. How did it get there, and by whose hand was it placed? Now, I am not really a superstitious person, but on that same day two negative things happened to me. A hole the size of a 12 inch dinner plate was discovered on the back of my pants! I must've bent down to plug my laptop in I guess, and my pants ripped open revealing my underwear and everything. I didn't notice this until the staff pointed it out to me and this was after my third class, I had two more classes to teach. I was walking around smiling at everybody while trying to maintain this air of dignity all the while not knowing I had this immense hole in the back of my pants.

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Another negative thing happened on this same day; I lost my voice. I have to give a lecture at a seminar early next May in front of about 300 people. I haven't informed the staff about my voice yet. I struggled all day today with private lessons. I usually teach about six private lessons on Sunday, but I had to cancel two because I could barely hear myself talking. There went my easy 40,000 yen day.

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Another instance of strange luck leading up to the discovery of the dead butterfly was at this temple I visited last weekend in Fukushima. I was standing at the altar next to one of my Jukujo mothers when all of a sudden off to my right a hornet was buzzing up against the temple's opaque sliding glass door - stingers fully visible even from where I was standing. It couldn't see through the opaque glass, but I knew for some reason it was looking for me....buzzing up against the glass, feeling its way around for just a little opening. While we were offering up prayers at the alter with one eye shut I could almost imagine its stingers puncturing deep into the flesh of my neck, right near where the jugular vein is and then pumping me with its venom as if it were ejaculating it out of its little body writhing and squeezing every bit of it out of itself in a type of pleasure pain moment . I wasn't supposed to be here in this temple with this woman offering up prayers. We can't fool the gods. They know of this and about this union, and my thirst for the Japanese mother.

Maybe the gods knew about the other unions, too. Like the one where I was eating from someone else's storehouse, or when I was drinking from someone else's chalice in the kitchen at 10pm, when the master was out and I was there in his abode in the name of English. Just on the other side of that paper thin sliding door where her two grown sons knelt while listening in intently as strange noises began to come through. One of the boys tried to peek underneath one of the partitions. He was never able to get a clear visual confirmation of anything, his head was too big I guess, just shadows moving against light. I guess he thought we were moving the kitchen table around or maybe he thought we were trying to redecorate the place. They also heard a funny kind of English, though. Not exactly able to make out certain unfamiliar words and phrases. So many onomatopoeias. Not even the world's best dictionary could satisfy their curiosity. At first they may have tried to ignore the worst possible thing that could've been happening to their mother. (" naw, not my mom, they would say").

When the master of the house would return home the first thing he'd notice was the expensive empty sake bottle on the table, along with empty dinner plates. Nothing was prepared for him, just leftovers. His two grown sons were sitting in the living room watching T.V. with full belly's both with uncomfortable grins across their faces and a strange air about them. Every lesson we had she would prepare a feast for me and the boys. First they would eat, and then be excused. The expensive sake and feast were reserved for me. After all, I had to create an atmosphere for learning. After every one of these encounters I was paid 10,000 yen. I felt so guilty taking this money as I walked out the door fully satisfied.

Then, one evening at the dinner table, with all the family there, minus me, he asked why they had been drinking so much premium sake for dinner lately. And then one of the boys(age 27) said " that's our English teacher's sake. Mom buys the sake for him." In the fathers mind, he said to himself "that also explains why the credit card bills were getting so high, my wife kept buying new clothes, sexy clothes at that, and then the empty sake bottles and the lavish dinners. But why hadn't my boys brought this to my attention earlier?" A meeting ensued and questions were being tossed around. " Why does an English teacher need to drink sake and eat fine dinners? Who is this person?" he said. Perhaps, at first he thought, she was a young American girl from Smallville, U.S.A., Clark Kents hometown. "Ah! no, not quite. He's from L.A." one of the boys retorted. Nothing needed to be discussed any further from that point, his fears were confirmed.

Our lessons came to an abrupt halt and then the call from a payphone from somewhere and a warning " I'm watching you." I felt like I was a blind naked sitting in a snowy field in the dead of winter's ice cold chill at minus 37 below zero with the cold snotty muzzle of a wolf's nose pressed up against my cheek – helpless and so Ccccold….

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