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“A man is not called wise because he talks and talks again; but if he is peaceful, loving and fearless then he is in truth called wise.” - Buddha

Zakari Taniguci's graduation from the Temple of Ten Thousand Buddhas turned out to be a rather casual affair. After a congratulatory speech and awarding honors to the most outstanding of the students, Fred was anxious to get moving. He didn’t want to be disrespectful to Gooch or his colleagues. It was just that there was a lot was on his mind and he strongly felt the urge to be doing something far more productive. All the same, he pushed his impatience as far back as he could and reminded himself that he was actually glad to be visiting Gooch. Fred had made sure to update his phones contacts while they had cake at brunch, lightly conversing with two other monks drinking tea at the table. Zakari was speaking to the other two monks. Anxiously Fred stood and payed his respects and sayed his goodbyes to Gooch before making a quick departure from the celebration. He had felt uncomfortable among the gaggle of Monks and strangers, so he expressed his intent to leave to the three Monks. Fred really didn’t even know how to tell Gooch goodbye. His mind was so far out in space that trying to revert into small, petty talk only suggested more friction and angst on the gears of his headspace.

“A proper goodbye is in order,” he looked up to Gooch’s face. “ and I hardly have the words to express my gratitude and respect for you…” he wanted to call the Monk by his old Army nickname “Red”, instead he held his tongue back, letting the last word ring out into a fade. He had just realized he didn’t want Gooch to even think about it in that moment, no need to bring his thoughts there, at least not today of all days.

“Master Sergeant Taniguchi,” Fred’s heels clicking together as he straightened himself, locking his knees. His left arm tucked into position and with his right he snapped a sharp looking salute. “having been appointed a Tibetan Monk of the Buddhists faith, do you solemnly swear that you will be a total badass, to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that you will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that you take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that you will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which you are about to enter; so help you… Buddha”? The veteran Captain snapped a very professional salute and nodded towards Gooch before relaxing his stance, smiling.

Those words seemed to do something nostalgic in Gooch’s eyes. They filled with pride and light. Was that a twinkle forming in his eyes? The Monk instinctively let loose a wide grin as he took a few steps closer to Fred. Zak raised his right hand placing it on Fred’s shoulder.

“That was awesome Cap. I thought you said your memory was shot? You remembered the whole Oath of Commissioned Officers! I must hand it to you. I would have totally screwed that up.” The Monk said while removing his hand. “I guess we are both going senile in our old age! I probably forgot a lot of Army jargon by now. I have not thought about it for so long. I must have had to dump any rusty memories to make room for here.”

Abruptly Fred’s expression turned cold “As long as you don’t forget Bangkok"

The Monk’s head tilted a bit, looking rather quizzical. “Bangkok”?

As quick and as sneakily as feasible, Fred used a backhand to lightly slap Taniguci in the balls. Although Taniguci saw it coming and diligently tried to avoid the strike, but the Captain had connected. The sting of searing pain was immediate and the Monk doubled over, letting out a low and lengthy lament.

“Son of a…” winced Gooch as his his inner voice pushed up through the aching pain:

'Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.' -Buddha

What seemed to be a hundred different memories flashed before his mind’s eye.
The Monk actually started chuckling under his breath between the pulsing waves of pain. Fred hadn’t hit too hard. But we are talking about testies here. All it took was a slight tap to temporarily disable even the biggest of men. Even so, it wasn’t as bad as the Monk had made it look. But it still hurt. “Bangkok” was a notoriously mean spirited and dangerously fun game.

“Looks like your memory is going too” Laughed Fred.



Gooch couldn't help but reminisce and actually smiled back at Fred. Of course Gooch would smile. He would now have his chance at revenge and he would take it when least expected.

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