2.37 The Lighthouse: Ninjas & Stuntmen
The usual route to work takes me through The Lighthouse Shopping Centre and Condominium Complex. The subway connects to The Lighthouse and is located in a newly gentrified downtown neighbourhood. There is every store you can imagine, library, condo building, restaurant, movie theatre, bar, gym and food court. There is no need to go outside – everything is accessible through an interconnected series of tunnels. The Lighthouse Series showcases the various inhabitants, employees and idiosyncratic characters I have met by spending way too much time in this complex. Christopher rode his skateboard through The Lighthouse, zipping past the store that only sold bottled water, when Lars the Security Guard shouted after him and gave chase. Lars was no match for Christopher, ninjas are not easy to catch. Especially nine year olds who think they are ninjas.
Christopher rolled down the moving sidewalk, picking up speed on the incline. At the bottom stood Old One-Armed Margaret. She had it in for him ever since he smashed into her scooter and dented the fender. Margaret held out her cane horizontally with the intention of tripping him. But Christopher was a ninja. He jumped over the cane, the skateboard smoothly sliding under, and Christopher landed on the board, continuing around the corner to the food court.
Eddie the Stuntman waited for him at their corner table. Christopher hopped off the board, kicked the end up and set it on the bench.
“Want to see my new dance moves, Eddie?” Christopher said.
He started swinging his hips, making his knees shift like two wet noodles. Eddie didn’t smile. His thick mustache hid the frown. Eddie was a hairy man and had to shave twice a day. He had hair on his triceps. Hair everywhere except on top of his head, apparently, it migrated south. Eddie was a stuntman in the movies, but because he’s gotten older – the hair greyer – less jobs come his way.
In the stretches he was not working, he hung out in the food court, watching people. He had one starring role 25 years ago – a martial arts movie called Revenge with Nunchucks, where he played a ninja. Eddie thought he was on his way, he was supposed to be the next Chuck Norris, but the paying public proved him wrong. That movie’s number one fan – probably only fan – was Christopher, who lives in the adjacent condo building with his mother. He recognized Eddie and they often sat in the food court, Eddie telling him stories about his stunts and Christopher filling him in on the latest ninja news.
“What’s the matter, Eddie?” Christopher asked.
“Feeling down, that’s all,” Eddie said. “Feeling a bit lonely.”
“Ninjas don’t need anyone,” Christopher said.
“I’m not a ninja,” Eddie said.
“You need to change your image,” Christopher said. “Hey, my mom has no one either, except me. Come over to my house.”
“That’s not a good idea,” Eddie said.
“Come on, it’ll be fun,” Christopher said. “I’ll tell her you’re a movie star. We just need to clean you up a bit.”
Eddie was lonely, wanted to meet someone. What the boy didn’t know was that Eddie saw his mother one day and had always wanted to meet her.
“You’re right,” Eddie said. “Let’s do it.”
“The hair, Eddie,” Christopher said. “You need to do something about the hair.”
Lars came running around the corner, out of breath.
“No skateboarding inside the shopping mall,” Lars said.
Eddie lifted his take-out coffee cup. “We’re paying customers, Lars.” Lars squinted, jaw clenched, and walked away.
“So, ninjas are awesome,” Christopher said. “I can show you how to become invisible like a ninja. Really, watch…”
Eddie made an appointment at the salon in the mall. The waxing took hours and in some countries, would be considered torture. Eddie left in more pain than the time he broke his back in a car stunt gone wrong. He dusted off his red and navy suit, bought some flowers and headed over to Christopher’s place.
On the way, Eddie experienced the side effects of waxing – itchiness. His arms, legs, face, chest and back were all on fire. By the time Christopher opened the door, Eddie felt like he had a thousand mosquito bites covering his body.
“Wow, Eddie, bend down,” Christopher said. “I can see myself in your head.”
Eddie followed Christopher into the condo. He scratched away. Christopher’s mother, Charlotte, was putting the finishing touches on the meal. She was dressed up, but what Eddie noticed was her unnaturally long acrylic nails. He couldn’t take his eyes off them. What Christopher or Eddie didn’t know was that Charlotte noticed Eddie and always wanted to meet him. She bought a new dress for the occasion.
They had a pleasant meal. Christopher told them about the ninjas who had to commit seppuku because they were disgraced and could only regain honor by passing into death. Eddie corrected him, saying he thought the samurai did this, but Christopher assured him ninjas are never wrong.
Eddie wasn't good at small talk, and the itchiness affected his concentration. He excused himself to the washroom, opened his shirt and scratched until his skin reddened.
When he returned, Eddie said he should be going.
“Can I show Eddie my room?” Christopher asked.
“Go ahead,” Charlotte said. “I’ll clean up.”
Christopher showed Eddie his ninja outfit he was planning to wear for Halloween. “My mom doesn’t know about this, so don’t tell her.” Christopher pulled out three ninja stars. Sharp. “You can get anything online. I’ve also written a screenplay about ninjas. It’s called Crazy Awesome Ninjas. I want you to star in it.”
Eddie was usually very patient with Christopher, but his whole way of being has been thrown off, not by being around Charlotte, but because of the itchiness. Charlotte appeared at the doorway, informing Christopher it was time for bed.
In the foyer, Charlotte inquired if Eddie had a good time. When he looked in her eyes, he could no longer hold it in. “I know this sounds like a strange request, but I waxed all the hair off my body and the itchiness is killing me. Those nails…”
Charlotte took his hand and led him to the couch. She started on his head, moved to his shoulders, then his back.
Love was born between itchy skin and acrylic.
Check out Christopher's Ninja website HERE.