There's A Ninja In My Backyard

There's a ninja in my backyard. Well, to be precise, he lives in a house adjacent to my backyard. I'm not so sure he's a ninja, but we've branded him The Ninja, and it's stuck. He's usually dressed in a brown hooded robe, so perhaps he's more like some kind of warrior monk or monk warrior. The order in which the descriptive words appear can tell two different back stories; one must be careful. Either one of those would seem more appropriate than The Ninja, but in our hasty ignorance, we were quick to name him. He may, in fact, not have a name at all, but there's no way to know for sure. He's elusive.

Sometimes, if I'm lucky, I can see him do what he was born to do: fight. I can only see a little during the warmer months, through the leaves of the trees and bushes that provide a natural barrier between our yards. But, we are lucky that justice does not take the winter off. He is commonly found in these cold, harsh times tending a fire, waiting, contemplating his next move, or where and how his opponent will strike next. Some weeks I wonder if he's been mortally wounded, physically or otherwise. Fail, he does not, in giving us hope. He returns. He always returns.

His weapon of choice is generally a staff, but he is also a swordsman and is good at kicking. I even thought I saw a lightsaber glowing in the night, hearing the familiar vvv-whoom as it slashed the air. He combats forces unknown to the common man and woman. Unknown to me because I can't see them. Perhaps I, too, someday will have the gift. I don't doubt they are there. I don't have the training, the insight, or the discipline to make them real to me. I was not chosen to See. This is one of my many shortcomings and may be my life's greatest failure.

The greatest battle I saw him fight occurred in the summer of 2014. He must have known there was going to be a grand battle because he recruited a couple fellow warriors to join him. I hoped for the recruits' sake and the sake of the recruits' people that it wasn't a trick and other neighborhoods didn't lose their vigilantes only to be sacked by whatever invisible evil lurked. You know, a fake out. A speedy blur amongst the foliage here, and a grunt of exertion there. Whatever was going on was brutal. This neighborhood is surely safer with him and his band of warriors watching over us. Unbeknownst to my wife and me, we chose the right house to buy.

I do know he has saved us many times and has never asked us once, not once, for anything in return. He lives a life defending a thankless city, but only thankless because they don't know of his selfless heroism. These surreal threats come weekly. I can only imagine the feelings that stir within his gut that propels him to gear up and face the faceless evil. And if the evil is faceless, how does he know where to stand and if he's behind it? My family and I, however, know his of struggle and are forever grateful.

Still, I wonder at times, "what makes him tick?" He obviously chose the side of good, or so we want to believe. But, what if he turns bad? What would that look like? Would we know the difference? What manner of mess would our 'hood turn into? We can only wonder as he is as elusive as a neighbor you don't really want to talk to. He always goes inside every time you attempt to talk to him. Darn. Maybe tomorrow? Regardless of his true motives, one can't deny the effortless skills he puts on display.

There was a day not so long ago, maybe a few weeks, I was feeling particularly curious and brave, and I thought I would try to catch him in his heroism or training since my feeble mind didn't know the difference. I was a fool to think that I could sneak up on him. As quick as I approached the property line, he retreated more quickly. Or was he still there, watching me, blending in with the surroundings, purging into, dare I say, another dimension? One can only wonder. I can only believe.



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