I left college to seek enlightenment. I went to live at the Golden Gate Zen Center, a Buddhist community midway between the Haight and the financial district. I expected a quiet, contemplative life. Instead, I was up every day at four-thirty to sit two meditation periods before going to work at the Golden Gate Bread Bakery, one of the center’s business operations.

I was so tired the first few weeks that all I wanted to do was sleep. I sat zazen, worked, and slept. Now and then, when evil-smelling piles of clothes sprang up around my room like mushrooms after rain, I did some laundry.

I was in the laundry room one Saturday morning, putting my wash in the dryer, when someone came up silently behind me. I didn’t know who it was, but I felt the person in the length of my spine. It was as if my back had opened out in the middle like a set of French windows. Turning around, I saw it was the abbot, Jay Tennyson.

Jay had taken over the center’s leadership after the previous abbot had resigned when his affair with a student was discovered. Jay was a powerfully built man, an ex-Marine and Golden Gloves boxer with a clean-shaven bullet head and clear blue eyes. He had an air of relaxed awareness, like a big cat. Effortlessly, he seemed to take in everything going on around him. He spoke slowly, in a resonant voice, and even the simplest things he said sounded as if they’d been carefully considered. He introduced himself and asked me how I was.

“I’m pretty tired,” I said. “I’m not used to getting up early or working this hard. But I’m happy to be here.”

“How long are you thinking of staying?” he asked. It was an ordinary enough question, but something in him, in the way that he asked it, demanded commitment.

“For good,” I said. “I’m here for keeps. This is what I’m meant to do, I know it.”

He smiled. I’d made my confession of faith and been witnessed. “When you’re ready to talk about your practice,” he said, “come and see me.” He took his clothes from one of the dryers and left.

It took me a while to calm down. I’d been told that the first time Jay met his wife — a Chinese woman descended from royalty — he was certain that she was the woman he would marry. Standing in the dingy, lint-covered laundry room, listening to his deliberate footsteps recede, I felt a similar conviction. I’d met the man who was to be my teacher.


At the bakery, a guy named Nick Knowles showed me how to mix the doughs for the various breads the night shift would form into loaves and bake: whole wheat, potato-egg, pumpernickel, sourdough-raisin, and challah on Fridays. I liked the work, but the bakery was hell. It was hollowed out of the base of a hill like a dwarf’s cave, with a low, crooked ceiling and an uneven floor. It was hot as a furnace and when it rained, the walls sweated. The noise was barely tolerable. Nick got so sick of shouting over the constant grind and churn of machinery that he’d take me out to the street to talk.

We measured ingredients and mixed the dough, then placed it to rise in a set of Husky trash cans on wheels. At the end of the day, bellowing and dripping sweat, we peeled off the lids and punched down the soft mass, the pungent yeasty fumes rising in our faces.

After work, we hung out in the Grand Piano, a battered old hat of a cafe on Haight Street.

Nick was tall and rangy, with a high, domed forehead, a thin nose, and a tendency to stare hard without realizing it. Nick had a lot of odd ideas. He believed, for instance, that much of the stupidity and violence in the world was caused by a lack of sleep. “Insufficient dosage,” he called it. He would sometimes cut out in the middle of the work day to take a nap in the office upstairs, but none of the managers ever hassled him about this, even when we were busy or behind schedule.

Nick had been a Zen student off and on for several years. When I told him I was a new student, he asked me if I knew the attributes of the Buddha.

“Big happy face” was all I could think of.

“Big happy face is not one of them,” he said.

We were sitting in the Grand Piano, having a beer after work. Nick lit a cigarette and ticked off the list: “Golden skin. Webbed fingers and toes. The imprint of the Wheel of Dharma on the soles of the feet. A curly woolen lock growing out of the middle of the forehead. Long, pendulous ear lobes.”

“You’re kidding,” I said.

He shook his head, humming “Do Your Ears Hang Low.”

I laughed. “That’s too strange.”

“Buddhism’s a strange business,” he said.

I agreed. Buddhist philosophy was a different order of language, like the hand signs of the deaf. But I liked the stories about old Zen masters. I asked Nick if he knew any.

“Sure,” he said. He drew on his cigarette and tilted his chair back, brows knit. He blew a smoke ring, staring after it intently. It rose quickly and was lost above the dim lights.

“OK,” Nick said, leaning forward. “There’s this old Japanese priest who has a temple in Manhattan. His name’s Soen-roshi. He refuses to eat leftovers. He says once you put something in the refrigerator, it becomes dead food. He takes his students around the back alleys of New York, picking through trash cans, and he tells them, ‘This is how people should eat! This is good food!’ ”

“But he’s out of touch,” I said. “All food is refrigerated these days at some point in the process. He thinks he’s still living in rural Japan.”

Nick frowned. He didn’t like to see quirkiness undercut by the facts. He drew on his cigarette and let the smoke seep in tendrils from his mouth up into his nose.

“OK,” he said. “Soen-roshi used to lock himself in his room for months at a time to sit zazen. He didn’t make a sound. Total silence. The only way his students knew he was alive was that he’d eat the food they left outside his door. And then one evening there’s all this banging in the room. It goes on all night. No one gets any sleep. In the morning, Soen-roshi emerges, his face gray, like death, and he says, ‘I’ve been traveling.’ He says, ‘I’ve been to heaven and I’ve been to hell. And when I was in hell, I saw Zen masters there.’ And when he said that, you know, it was awful, because you could see he was really suffering at the thought of Zen masters in hell.”

Nick stubbed out his cigarette.

“It’s a good story,” I said, “a really good story.” It had just occurred to me for the first time that Zen masters could be fallible, and that they would have to pay for their mistakes like anyone else.


Later that month, I had a dream about Jay. He was sitting in a room, in front of an old Japanese landscape painting of mountains and ravines and mist and gnarled trees. Jay sat with his hands resting on a large desk, but he seemed to belong to the painting. The mountain mist swirled around his shoulders, and the wind stirred the folds of his black robe. His face was gray and drawn, but even so, he looked strong and powerful. His back was straight, his jaw relaxed.

As I entered the room, he looked straight at me and said, “I am the gateway through which lost souls pass to the other side. Through me lost souls are saved.”

I felt terror, then a sudden understanding of my own helplessness, unending and inescapable.

I couldn’t tell Jay about the dream. But in a lecture once, he’d said, “If you want to effect a change in your life, you should tell your intention to someone whose opinion you value.” Those were his words. The universe would hear you, he said; the great churning machine that is karma would record what you said and you would be beholden to it.

I made an appointment to have dokusan, a private talk, with Jay.


I sat outside the meeting room in zazen posture: legs crossed, spine straight, eyes lowered, hands folded loosely in my lap. Several of us waited, a little row of Buddhas on our black cushions in the hall. Jay would hit a bell when he was ready to receive you, and to answer, you tapped a red-and-gold bell twice with a short metal stick.

Finally, it was my turn. The sound of his bell came to me like a birdcall across an empty field at dawn. I hit my bell twice, and must have belted it; the sound pealed forth in the quiet corridor. The person sitting next to me turned to see what was happening. I bowed to my cushion, to the Buddhas still sitting, and to the rest of the world, then opened the door of Jay’s room.

The room was small and lit by candles. There was a faint fragrance of incense and of the reed tatami mats that covered the floor. Jay sat like a block of granite in the far corner of the room beside a small window. Outside was an indigo sky. I faced the altar, went down on my knees, and touched my forehead to the floor three times, raising my palms up beside my head as I did. I bowed to Jay and sat on a cushion before him, so close we were almost touching knee to knee.

He was motionless, breathing slowly, eyes down. I lowered my eyes and tried to calm my breath. We sat like that for several minutes. My breath slowed and my body grew warm and seemed to swell slightly. I felt my pulse in a number of places at once, in my toes and fingers, neck and temples, and where the tip of my tongue touched the roof of my mouth.

“Do you have something you want to say to me?”

I looked up. He blinked, the eyelids traveling slowly down and back over his unwavering blue eyes. In the candlelight, his skin was the color of a lion’s fur.

“I want to tell you my intention,” I said, my voice trembling.

He nodded. “Go ahead.”

“I want to be a Zen master . . .”

“Sit hard.”

“. . . like you.”

“Sit hard,” he said. “Every day.”

“It’s difficult for me,” I admitted. “My knees are stiff. I can’t keep my back straight.”

“Try it like this,” he said, and he took my left foot and pushed it up higher on my right thigh. He squared my shoulders and, placing his hands gently on either side of my face, tilted my chin down and in to my chest.

It was as if he’d set me in stone. My breath went in and out by itself and blood roared in my ears. Somewhere in the room a clock ticked wildly.

Later, I don’t know when, Jay hit his bell. We bowed and I went out.


I sat as hard as I could. I got up at four-thirty, brushed my teeth, and washed my face and hands and feet. I put on my robe and went to the zendo, the meditation hall. It was a long, dimly lit room with a knee-high wooden platform along the wall. You sat on the platform facing the wall. In the center of the room was a small altar with a statue of Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom. In front of the altar on the floor was a long, gold silk mat where the abbot did his bows. There was a discolored patch at one end of the silk from the thousands of times the abbots had touched their foreheads to the ground.

After the abbot completed his bows, we settled into our meditation. Each morning there were two periods of zazen, forty minutes long, with ten minutes of walking meditation between them. I sat and counted my breaths, one to ten. Then I started over. If I lost count, I went back to one.

For months I couldn’t get past three without falling asleep. Then my practice improved and I ticked off the breaths regular as clockwork. I sat with my back straight and counted one to ten as I breathed. At 6:45, I went to service upstairs in the Buddha Hall and chanted sutras. Then I walked the two miles to work.

I’d always imagined Zen Buddhism in a quiet pastoral setting, but the temple was in the middle of the city. At the top of the block was a bombed-out elementary school, its walls ruined with graffiti, its plastic windows so scratched they were opaque. At election time the polling stations were set up in that school, and you could buy just about anything on your way to or from casting your vote.

It was a free country on this block. Democracy was hanging out all over. Early morning temple bells called white middle-class Buddhists to the zendo. Farther up the block, upscale gay men bought and renovated cheap Victorians. I passed them on the way to work, jogging, or walking their dogs. Shortly after I moved to Golden Gate, an old black man was found dead from exposure in the park across the street, rolled up in newspapers like a package of soup bones.

Next to the elementary school were the projects: pink-walled apartment buildings arranged around a parking lot. The sun set at the top of the street, and Nick liked to say that although the projects weren’t the end of the world, you could see it from there. At sunset the buildings glowed the color of coral. When the street lights came on, the windows glittered with condensation. Sometimes, when we were walking home, Nick would write things on the windows with his finger, like, “If you have five dogs, three of them will be asleep.”

Or: “Do your ears hang low, do they wobble to and fro?”


During the next three months, I sat hard and my practice soared. At times I felt so clear it was as if my breath were breathing me. Other times I would breathe out and out and hang suspended for a second as if I’d reached the end of the arc of a swing, not knowing if I would ever breathe in again. I was flying. I was in the Realm of the Gods. All I wanted to do was sit.

I added the two evening zazen periods, one at five-thirty and one at eight. I had to hurry home from work for the five-thirty period, so I stopped hanging out with Nick at the Grand Piano. He didn’t seem to mind, and I didn’t either. I was secretly pleased that we weren’t drinking buddies anymore. It confirmed the high opinion I had about my practice.

I started to see Nick as plain lazy, and one day at work I recommended that he sit zazen more regularly, instead of only a couple of times a week, as was his habit.

“What for?” he asked.

“We can reach enlightenment and then start our own temple,” I shouted over the din.

He gave me a funny look. “No thanks,” he said. “It’s bad for my health.”

Things became more tense between us after that. We seemed to get in each other’s way, and I started to resent his skipping out for frequent naps. Nick didn’t like my work pace, and though he never openly criticized me, he did everything he could to slow down the mixing process. He took his time measuring out the butter or cracking the eggs. Once, he hid the honey. I found it, after half an hour of looking, in the back of the walk-in freezer behind a rack of blueberry danish. When I asked him what the hell the honey was doing there, he laughed, shrugged, and walked away.

Our disagreement over principles had escalated into guerrilla warfare. Figuring that Nick was more sly, more patient, and infinitely more perverse than I was, I had to admit my chances of winning were slim. Humbled, I asked him if he wanted to get a beer sometime.

“Sure,” he said, but he didn’t follow up on it. Nor did he speak to me again that day.

Nick lived a couple of blocks from Golden Gate, near the freeway overpass. That evening, worried that he was beginning to enjoy our conflict, I skipped eight o’clock zazen and went to visit him.

He looked surprised when he answered the door, but he said, “Come on up. Do you want a beer?”

He brought out two bottles of Red Stripe and lowered the sound on the television. He was watching a Giants game.

“What’s the score?” I asked.

“Two-one, Giants. You follow baseball?”

“Television is a distraction,” I said.

“I didn’t ask you about television.”

“No, I don’t follow baseball.”

He turned off the set. “There’s a roshi in New York who does nothing but sit in his room and watch TV,” he said. He tilted his half-drunk beer and drained it, eyeing me.

“Maybe you should go study with him,” I said.

He laughed. “Maybe,” he said. “Drink up and I’ll get you another.”

He went into the kitchen and I heard the clink of bottles.

“You’re practicing pretty hard,” he said, appearing in the doorway. He popped the cap on his bottle. “Not everyone is cut out for enlightenment, you know, no matter how hard they try.”

“You think you’re telling me something I don’t know?” I was suddenly angry.

“Most people don’t stick with Zen practice more than a couple of years,” he said. “Not with the intensity they expect here. They get sick and tired of it. Or they want to do something else. Almost everybody quits, one way or another. I’ve quit. It’s not a big deal. Some people keep at it when they’d do better to stop, and get screwed up because of it. I mean people like you and me. Ordinary misguided humans.”

He took a long pull at his beer. “Let me put it this way. A guy took a picture of a Korean Zen master, Reverend Shin, who started a temple in an old barn in Easton, Pennsylvania. Shin was standing on a gray dirt road with a grove of birch trees in the background. It was a clear summer day, nothing around for miles but fields and trees. When the film was developed, though, Shin had this perfect, dark blue aura stretching out about six inches all around his body. It was incredible. People thought he must be some kind of god. But then, in the same series of shots, there was a photograph of the zendo, and superimposed on it was the image of a roll of toilet paper.”

“I know what I believe,” I said, putting down the beer I’d hardly touched.

Nick put his empty bottle next to mine.

“Lucky you,” he said.


I started to burn out. Sitting three hours a day and working a full shift in the bakery, I wore myself out. I started to fall asleep again in the zendo. If I held myself very straight I could stay awake, but I got up from the cushion feeling so rigid and hateful that it wasn’t worth the trouble. I gave up counting my breaths. I nodded off so much that it seemed pointless. If I didn’t fall asleep, I sat huddled on my cushion, miserable and depressed. At other times, I imploded with anger, grinding my teeth and digging my nails into my palms to stop myself from running out of the room.

I felt, in short, as frustrated and unhappy as I had in college, before I made the decision to come to Golden Gate.

I had gone to the university expecting to have enormous truths unfold before me, but it turned out to be not that much different from high school: a lot of bright, well-groomed people anxiously jumping through hoops. There was nothing I could wholeheartedly believe in, only a series of skills to be learned and repeated.

I spent my afternoons in the library, reading books at random. I went from art history to literature to philosophy to religion, and when I hit the books on Zen I knew this was it. It was like sighting land from a crippled ship.

The stories — parables and anecdotes from the lives of Zen masters — gave me a strong sense of peace, of the possibility of ease in difficult situations. The Zen adepts lived the way I wished I could. They were warm and relaxed, supple in their responses to even the most extreme circumstances, and curious about all kinds of experience.

I wanted their equanimity and independence of spirit. And, when I first came to Golden Gate, I felt as if I’d found these. Everything seemed clear, and I acted with commitment and strength. Lately though, I’d become increasingly confused. My zazen deteriorated, and I drifted in and out of moods and thoughts, feeling like a diver in a deep, murky lake, unable to tell up from down.

Then one day, lifting a bag of flour in the bakery, I threw out my back. I tried different positions, but each time I sat I was in pain. I cut out the evening zazen, afraid I’d cause permanent damage. I still sat in the morning — it wasn’t so bad when I was just out of bed — but at the end of the day, after hauling dough for eight hours, I could hardly move. Some nights I had to take dinner to my room and eat it lying down.

I didn’t tell Nick I’d run into something too big to handle. I didn’t want to admit he might be right. I almost went to Jay to ask for advice, but his presence was too strong and his practice so immaculate that I was ashamed to approach him. I was afraid he’d think I was asking for pity. More accurately, I was afraid that I would ask for pity, and humiliate myself.

After work I’d walk Nick to the Grand Piano, then go to another cafe and drink coffee until I trembled. I often went to Uncle Gaylord’s on Market since it was usually quiet at that time of day. Gaylord’s was done in art deco — a lot of sculpted chrome and black-lacquered surfaces, with posters of Marlene Dietrich on the wall. The floor had black and white squares, like a giant chessboard.

One afternoon the place was entirely empty, except for a waitress straightening the tables and chairs. She took a mop from the back room and began pushing it in slow circles across the floor. She was young — high-school age, I guessed — and pretty: European-looking, with pale pink lipstick and slim hips. Her hair was tied in a red bandana, stray strands falling across her face. She looked miserable. Everyone had gone to the ball and she was left to mop the floor.

When she passed the table, I said, “Hey, Cinderella.”

It was just what she’d been thinking. You can go a fair distance on a coincidence like that. She wanted to be a dancer, she wanted to be a photographer, she wanted to be a model. We made love among her stuffed animals and James Dean posters. Afterward, I wanted to lie in bed and hold her and talk. I didn’t want to go back to my room and get up in the dark and sit for two hours, confused and in pain, then go blindly off to work. But she turned me out. She kissed me at the door and was very sweet about it, but my spirit broke and after that I couldn’t sit at all.


I started sleeping late in the morning, rolling out of bed in time to catch the bus to work. My only remaining connection with Zen practice then was the Saturday morning lecture. A different priest spoke each week. You might get Jay or you might get someone else. Three weeks after I stopped sitting altogether, one of the more eccentric priests gave a talk. Right in the middle of it he stopped and said, “You know, as I get older, I realize that I don’t really like people very much.”

I agreed with him completely. And that’s when I saw how isolated I’d become. I’d sat for months and months thinking I was on the path to enlightenment when really I was just wandering around somewhere in my own head.

I went to bed for the week. I didn’t know what to do. I was afraid I might spin off into some strange backwater like Nick and spend the rest of my life mixing potato-egg bread, watching Giants games, and collecting stories about crazy baldheads.

I wrote my parents for the money home.


I went to one more lecture before I left. At 9:50 on a Saturday morning, I walked up the front steps, took off my shoes, and went into the Buddha Hall.

It was a beautiful room, long and light and airy, smelling of tatami and incense. There were windows from floor to ceiling along one wall, and along the opposite wall, French windows that opened onto a quiet courtyard full of trees and flowers.

Next to the altar were three statues, centuries old. One was fearsome, a Guardian of the Dharma, a man with dog’s jaws and wild eyes, brandishing a long, curved knife. The other two were contemplative Buddhas with faces so simple a child might have drawn them.

Zen students were sitting on tatami mats, eyes closed, backs straight, concentrating. I sat in a chair by the windows looking out onto the street. Soon bells sounded and a robed priest entered; she carried a thin stick of incense at eye level. Behind her, his hands clasped together at his chest, walked Jay. He looked as he always did: single-minded, constant, strong as a plow horse through the chest and shoulders. His chin slanted resolutely from his blunt, shaven head, and he had the golden skin of a lionhearted Buddha.

Jay bowed three times before the altar, dropping to his hands and knees and touching his forehead to the floor, then seated himself on a cushion in front of the dog-faced Buddha. He crossed his legs carefully and took some time arranging his robes over them. He slowly lowered his eyes, breathed deeply, and sat very still for several minutes. When he looked up he smiled as if seeing everyone for the first time.

I laughed, as did several other people. Jay looked around the room. He held my gaze for several seconds, then moved on.

After his talk everyone stood up one by one, stretched their legs, and left. I didn’t want to leave and sat there for a long time alone. People came in to remove the chairs and still I sat there. Finally, I got up. I knew I wouldn’t be coming back. I had loved the idea of being a Zen master, but it had died, and now that was over.

The corridor outside the Buddha Hall was deserted. Someone had walked off with my shoes. It seemed appropriate. I went barefoot down the steps into a sunny September afternoon.


I left a short note and my parents’ address in Nick’s mailbox and flew home to Toronto. I got a job in a bookstore downtown and lived a quiet, almost convalescent life. The thought of sitting repulsed me, and I closed my mind against Zen practice. My parents didn’t ask what had happened. They considered Golden Gate to be some kind of cult and were happy I was out of it. They made sure I got plenty to eat and an extra blanket on my bed when it turned cold.

Toward the middle of November, as the sky grew heavy and the air thickened with smoke and snow, I got a letter postmarked San Francisco. Inside was a card and a newspaper clipping. The card said, “One last Zen master story before bed,” and was signed, “Your pal Nick.”

I stoked the fire in the living room, sat down on the couch, and read the clipping, dated late October. The headline read, “Zen Master Gets in Trouble for Pulling Dead Man’s Gun.”

According to the article, Jay was walking through the garage of his apartment building when someone came up behind him, put a knife to his back, and demanded money. He handed over the twenty dollars in his wallet. After the robber ran off, Jay went to the back of the garage, took a pistol from a locked suitcase, and drove after the man in his car. He followed him into the projects but the cops surrounded Jay before he was ten yards across the parking lot. He was arrested for brandishing a firearm, even though he explained that the gun was unloaded and he had kept it at his side, pointing down. He said he didn’t intend to harm the man, that he merely wanted to scare him, show him he couldn’t harass innocent people and get away with it.

My chest felt suddenly weak and sore. I opened the window and leaned out. It was a cold, clear twilight speared by a bone-white moon. A dog barked and I could hear someone dribbling a basketball in the park down the street, then the rattle of the rim as he shot. I stood there just breathing, unable to think. Then I sat down and read on.

Jay said he had taken the gun from a corpse he found in Golden Gate Park four years ago. He was jogging in the Panhandle and needed to urinate, so he stepped into the bushes. An old man in ragged, dirty clothes was lying there, a bullet wound in his head, a gun in his hand. He was cold but not yet stiff.

Jay’s first thought had been to call the police. But he felt that the man, who looked like he’d had a miserable life and certainly a violent death, deserved the peace of the grove he lay in and a decent service. In the Buddhist tradition Jay sat with the body for several hours, chanting and meditating. The next day he’d gone back and done the same, and the next.

On the fourth day, after the man’s soul had departed the body and Jay was ready to notify the police, he’d taken the gun, unloaded it, and locked it away in the suitcase. He’d told the police about the body but not the gun. The gun stayed in the suitcase until the incident with the mugger.

The article said Jay had been granted a leave of absence from Golden Gate to study with religious leaders from a variety of faiths.

I didn’t know what to think. I found myself shivering. My first impulse was to call Jay and say, “I’m on your side. You don’t have to explain yourself to me.”

But the next moment I wanted to shake him and ask, “Why? Why did you do that?” The act seemed compulsive, shot through with so many contradictory impulses and desires that I couldn’t begin to understand why Jay would act this way.

I went upstairs and lay on my bed and looked out the window. I couldn’t stop shivering. Finally, I made a cushion out of my pillow and sat zazen. It was the first time I’d sat since I left Golden Gate.

After several minutes I began to breathe slowly and calmly. My heart stopped pounding. The house became very still. I heard my parents come in from work and make supper, talking in low tones. One of them knocked softly on the door, but I didn’t answer. I heard the sound of a tray being left outside and footsteps going back down the stairs.

After some time I didn’t need to sit anymore. I didn’t have an answer to my questions, but neither did I have the same desperate need for one. The confusion had settled; it seemed to have disappeared into the cells of my body.

I got up without ceremony and opened the window. The sky had clouded over, turning black and heavy, but the air was warm, soft as the air of an Indian summer. I had the strange thought that the seasons might be reversing themselves, that we had been brought right to the brink of winter and now, at the eleventh hour, were to be reprieved.

I took the tray downstairs and ate dinner there, talking to my good parents. Then I put on my sweats and walked down the street to the park. It had a small floodlit court with metal nets hanging in shreds from the rims — good for three-on-three. The games lasted until eleven, when the city cut the power.

I had to guard a big guy, the toughest player; no one else wanted him. I played him tight but he threw me around. He kept saying, “Good defense, man,” then he’d push me off, get position, and score. I kept at him. I leaned on him so hard that when he stepped out of the way I fell over.

Toward the end of the game, I hit an arcing fadeaway from the left baseline. A rainbow. I should never have taken the shot, I was way off-balance, but I nailed it.

My man said, “Larry Bird,” then he sank the next three over me to win the game.

I didn’t care who won. I just wanted to keep playing — running, cutting, jumping, and pushing this guy hard. After they killed the lights I wanted to go on playing in the dark.

This story is based on events that actually occurred. Names have been changed.