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**CURRENT PRINT: THE PEOPLE!: "All viz" are the watchwords for our 26th broadsheet, featuring a print by Birmingham's Charles Buchanan, comics by longtime Antipurpose Driven Lifer Andrew Davis. It's all tied together by the Sandburg-inspired illustrations by our resident, Rob Funderburk.
VERSIONS 11 & 12 OF HOW WE MET Kevin O'Cuinn
PARKING Lauren Pretnar

Wendell R. Mangibin

Mangibin works as a graphic designer and lives and writes in Northport on Long Island, New York.

There it was, squared away as SPAM in our bulk e-mail folder, some monk from Thailand heralding yet another "new found therapy" that claimed to bring any stage four (or lower) into complete remission with a ten-year survival rate of 99 percent. It was obvious that someone had snatched our information from one of the cancer support sites. Regardless, Rachel quickly opened it, thinking there was nothing else to lose.


Soon, she found herself mad with excitement, lecturing nonstop about this little Thai man and his ways until she was breathless, thus sending her frail body into fits of coughing. So, we finally agreed, after several weeks of e-mails, countless phone calls overseas, Rachel pleading into the night and both of us arguing in hushed tones by Jigoro's crib: This was our only option.

Within a few weeks Ajahn Dinsutep would be coming stateside to meet us. Rachel jumped into my arms after telling me the news. By the window, where I held her, she had a clear view of the park where children float like astronauts.

"They're so fearless," she whispered.

Ajahn was an hour late when he pulled up to the Greenleaf restaurant. He stepped out of his rented silver Hummer H3, winked to me and said, "What did you expect, a rickshaw?" He hit my arm with a heavy jab, turned to Rachel and embraced her for what seemed to be an eternity. His head and eyebrows were shaved and he donned a mustard robe with Adidas slides peeking out from underneath. He had a round, kind face, and his shiny expressions left our two-year-old, Jigoro, nonplussed. Aside from his slight accent, he spoke perfect English.

During dinner he was all business. He said that he didn't want to be regarded as a healer or prophet and was in no way forcing anyone, especially Rachel, to fly over the ocean to a remote camp near Myanmar, where they would "practice." But as he explained in earlier conversations, his therapy "can bring about compelling insights and certain kinds of healing."

He said he fought professionally in Thailand until he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. That was when he found Master Ajahn Apidurum, who showed him a method of meditation practiced almost 2,500 years ago. Within a year he went into remission and has been cancer-free ever since. There were tons of testimonials from people who experienced the same phenomenon under Ajahn. He asked what I thought. I shrugged, saying that I didn't know what to think.

"Thoughts are illusions," he said.

But I was onto him. There were times where I caught him holding Rachel's hand, gazing fixedly at her. Or he'd touch her shoulder while whispering something in her ear that would make her burst out laughing, her head rolling back to the point of nearly knocking her doo-rag completely off. At once, I sat there experiencing a mixed feeling of discomfort and awe, realizing the gravity of this situation and that, under contractual agreement, Rachel agreed to be sent to some undisclosed part of Southeast Asia where she would spend an indeterminate amount of time practicing some non-sectarian technique of incessant meditation with a horny Thai boxer turned healing guru. I felt a sharp pain in my stomach and suddenly wanted nothing else other than to re-neg.

"So tell me about that Jumping Jack ride here, where children are weightless," he smiled. "Oprah mentioned that I had to see it."

I woke in a haze the next day, the room spinning. I recalled Ajahn's advice about vitamin B and aspirin to ward off a hangover, having suddenly become conscious of what had happened: the sneaky monk had slipped out into the night with Rachel. Downstairs, the guest bed was made, the blanket folded atop the pillows. Vignettes of the night slowly revealed themselves: the bottles of Shiraz, a game of Scrabble, CDs splayed out on the coffee table (Ajahn and Rachel dancing to buchata music). I searched every room, digging through the closets and dressers, cursing to find a clue. But Rachel had taken nothing, not even the doo-rag on her head, which I spotted Jigoro clutching in his crib.

Later, with Jigoro changed and bathed, we went to the park where Rachel often took him. I needed to think, get a game plan and assert some next steps, hoping that feeling wouldn't drift up to the surface again -- that feeling I had right after Jigoro woke, where I clearly pictured myself sobbing into Rachel's doo-rag, unashamed, on the toilet. I thought of our neighbor Milton, who had lost his wife of thirty-three years to ovarian cancer. He locked himself in the first floor powder room for three days. The next morning he got out his Smith and Wesson, stepped out to his deck and started shooting at the sky. After the police detained him, he explained to them that he wasn't so much shooting at the sky as he was "aiming for that bastard."

The park was empty today. Since the invention of those vests ten years ago, attendance for the Jumping Jack ride was at an all-time low. It was the next evolution of inflatable rides/party jumpers. Kids could get a maximum vertical leap of fifteen feet. But what was once awe-inspiring was now an annoying novelty to the town, with children floating everywhere, as if bounding on the moon (weighted shoes kept them earthbound), not to mention the countless injuries and lawsuits. With the redesign of the inflatable floor six years ago, injuries lessened. (The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported 630 injuries in 2001. Last year, that number fell to 42).

I fed Jigoro some cookies, just enough for him to spike in excitement and quickly crash, hopefully before he started screaming for Rachel. He pulled me to the swings. Soon, he fell into tempo with the other kids, their parents behind them pushing and giving me a cordial nod. Luckily, he never called for her, only turning to me with a vague smile, as if he were keenly aware of how I needed him to act.

Without warning, he suddenly leapt off with a scream, landing facedown in the grass. I went to see if he was hurt, but instead he jumped up and grabbed both my legs. We waddled to the benches (his hands still wrapped around my legs) where a woman and her daughter shared a drink. She waved, smiled and said, "Hi Jigoro! Wow, you went really high this time."

"Hi," Jigoro peeked up from my legs.

"I'm Renee. Hannah and I see Rachel and Jigoro here a lot, isn't that right Jigoro?" she leaned to him as he smiled. In the distance children converged at the line for the Jumping Jack ride, their parents slowly trailing behind, signing the waivers.

"I'm sorry, she never..."

"He and Rachel would do some cute stuff all the time. Strange, but cute, you know?" She took a sip of her iced tea, playing with the straw. "How is she doing?"

"She's better, thanks." I smiled. I couldn't bring myself to tell her. Jigoro curled up on my lap, finding his thumb. "So, what other cute stuff?"

"Well, she did this dance--"

As she spoke about Rachel, I laughed. I laughed because I was thrilled despite having never heard about it, wondering if anyone else in the park had a story to tell me. I wanted to approach them all, tug on their sleeve and ask, "Have you met my wife? Have you met Rachel?" And after a beat, they would smile and scream, "Rachel? Why...yes, of course!" And then they would oblige and go on about her. I would canvass the whole town, enlist everyone and we'd find our way to Thailand, organizing the largest, Capra-esque intervention known to man. Ajahn wouldn't have a chance.

I felt Jigoro's weight finally settle onto my lap, falling asleep to Renee's voice while he watched the children glide this way and that, like ballet dancers. Still, there was a boy who desperately wiggled out of his vest, apparently terrified, taking a header to the inflatable floor. His parents rushed to his side, relieved to see he was fine. Shaken and defeated, he stood up, kicked his weighted shoes off and noticed everyone pointing skyward to his vest, quietly disappearing in the clouds.