Tragic circumstances and tennis shoes

Tragic circumstances and tennis shoes
By Rev. John Sleestaxx

Little Yo Yan pat worked in the shadows and light of the little factory. Yo missed her family and wondered why they had sold her to these evil men that make her work long hours.
Her fingers hurt from the needle both from pinching the needle as it pasted through the white leather but also form the many pricks she endured because the light was so poor that early in the morning.
Every day it was the same thing. Rancid rice cakes for breakfast then to work. she was made to sleep and work in the same location so the only time she was able to really move I mean really move was that one time a month when she was allowed to shower and use a proper toilet.
The men would joke about how she smelled bad like rotten leather but they would not let her shower or clean herself properly after relieving herself in the bucket they brought to her twice a day.
They were not allowed to talk to one another. So they spent the days when there was enough light to see past their station just looking at each other and giving each other warning glances when the shop boss was coming down. At night some times the bosses would get to drinking and the girls could talk they would whisper their distress to each other and how they missed their families.
Some thought they were doing their families great honor by working at the factory making the shoes of Americans. That the money they brought to their families was enough to help the farm through the drought that had set upon their village.
Others felt trapped and doomed and they would tell each other that once the debt was paid they would be allowed to leave and join their families again. And they would find themselves strong men to marry and they would bare male children so they would have a strong back to work the farm and not a weak girl that would have to be sold to evil men.
Now and again a girl would try to run away because the factory was too terrible and the bosses too rough.
But the bosses always brought the girls back and the girls would beg for forgiveness and say they would never try to leave before their debt was paid. These girls would talk of the evil that was in the land. Of how men would force them selves into the women and then the men would laugh at the girl’s humiliation.
One girl Sho Yen Phuc said that while she was away she stopped in this village and she worked for food and shelter. And while in the village a car with Americans stopped and the Americans got out and took pictures. She tried to talk to the Americans but they did not understand her and their escort refused to translate. Called her crazy and disturbed told the Americans she was the village retard.
The Americans did not offer any assistance. They just took their pictures and talked of the poverty that had come to this providence and how terrible it was and how they were there to help by providing an industry to which everyone could get jobs and get paid money and bring up the standard of living. But they refused to offer assistance.
They then got in the car and drove off. Soon after though, one the bosses arrived. She said she was hiding in this old woman's house but she saw the old woman talking to the boss and the boss held out some money and the old woman took the money and pointed at the house where Sho was hiding. The boss and a couple of his helpers walked in with out taking off their shoes and grabbed her. They drug her out and they put her in the car. More villagers came out because she was screaming and crying. The boss began handing out money to all the villagers and then the boss and his men got in the car and they drove off. They stopped once to let her relieve herself but they would not let her have privacy and they watched her pee. Then they grabbed her and forced her back into the car and then they..... Sho trailed off into sobs crying into her hands, shoulder heaving and the dirt on her face staining her hands. She was going to have to wash her hands before touching the shoe leather tomorrow morning.
Sho said they told her that her debt was started over because they had to find her. Little Yo laid on her floor thinking, ‘poor Sho she had to start over.’ Little Yo was not going to run away ever. She was not going to start her debt over, ever! Her family’s debt was going to get paid and she was going to leave and never come back. Little Yo began to cry. She cried for Sho and she cried for herself. But mostly she cried for herself.
That night a radioactive praying mantis flitted into her work area and bit her ......................

No no no that was not what happened........
While she laid there crying a mantis demon flitted into her work area. The mantis was looking for a meal but the sobs of little Yo were too grand and too loud. And the quiet wailing caught the attention of the mantis demon.
Why do you cry little Yo?
Wha?? How do you know me?
I know many and I know you. I am Shen Shi the great mantis demon. Why do you cry? You have some to bring you food and a bucket to use as a toilet. Surely a queen needs not to cry.
Oh great Shen Shi, mantis demon I am no queen I am but a lowly farm girl sold into a shoe factory where I make shoes that cost Americans more than my family will ever see in a life time. It is terrible awful work and the needle pricks my fingertips and I bleed.
Oh then why do you stay?
Because my family needed the money and they sold me to these evil men. And she began to cry some more the sadness renewed.
What would I have to do to get you to stop being so sad.
What can you do insect lord? You are so small
Why I told you I am a demon and all demons have great powers. Tell me your wish and I shall grant it to prove I am great!
Oh Great Shen Shi I want to be out of the factory and my family to be rich so they never have to sell me to the factory again.
Then that is what you shall be, but, you must do me a favor too.
What does a mantis demon need from a poor little farm girl.
I want you to be my wife.
Oh great mantis demon why do you want me for a wife?
Because I have been watching you since you arrived and I have fallen in love.
You love me?
Yes I want to be married to you for all eternity
So I trade one prison for another?
I am a mantis demon Little Yo. Many girls in here would love to be my wife.
Yes I know that but what of my family and what of my dreams to marry a strong man and bare his children.
I am a great demon and although I can not give you any children I can provide you with a happy life, I can make sure that your family is always taken care of.
I am still very young mantis demon.
Yes this is true. I tell you what.. In 5 years I will take you as my wife. And you will have to come live with me in the magic world for all eternity.
Will I have to become a mantis also?
Of course not child you will be a human lady
A human lady with an insect husband.
There are many girls that would love to be the wife of a mantis demon.
So you have told me.
Let me think on this Shen Shi.
That is fine you have until dawn tomorrow
And at that the mantis demon moved to the left and turned into a whiff of smoke in the moon light.
Little Yo put her head down on the mat to sleep.
A cockroach scurried across the floor and stopped at the edge of her sleeping mat.
Little Yo do not marry the mantis demon. He is liar and a trickster.
Why cockroach what do you know of my matters?
I am king of the cockroaches and I have been watching you since you arrived and I have seen the mantis demon talking to the bosses many times.
What? Are you serious roach king.
Yes the mantis is evil as all demons are evil.
But what am I to do?
I do not want to be here forever making shoes.
Yes but to marry the mantis demon will be a mistake.
He just wants to marry a mortal woman so that he has more power in the mortal world.
Given enough power he can become human. And once the mantis is human there will be no end to the havoc and destruction he will bring to your world. Right now he can be stopped by just biting his head off but once human there will be only one way to stop him. His reign will be brutal and terrible to humans and insects alike.
And what way is that?
Just then a boss came by. He was drunk and he was looking to touch Yo as she was beginning to blossom into a young lady.
Yo tried to pretend she was asleep but the boss did not care. He started to knell down. Yo could smell the liquor on his breath and clothes. He smelled of cigarettes too.
The boss placed the right knee on the sleeping mat and then his left knee landed on the roach king and with a crunch the king was dead. The boss began to grope Yo. He touched her and she began to fight. And he hit her. And she cried and he told her to be quiet. And then he began to pull her shirt off. She whimpered and then she made her decision.
Oh great mantis demon I will marry you, I will marry and I will make you the happiest insect husband in all the world.
there was a great flash and she was no longer on the dingy dirty factory floor, she was no longer dirty and in rags she was in a bright sunny room covered with beautiful woven blankets and the fragrance of hot tea filled the air.
Little Yo stretched and rolled to one side and there was the mantis demon on her pillow.
Little Yo I have rescued you from the factory, I have ensured that you family will forever be prosperous and all I ask is that in 5 years you hold up your end of the bargain.
Yes mantis demon I will.
Yo got up and dressed and went out side and found she was on a hilltop over looking a great valley.
She could see that there were many farms and lush green forests as far as the eye could see.
Are you happy Yo? Said the mantis demon.
Yes yes but what shall I do for the next five years? Where is my family?
You are to remain here getting the education that a mantis demon wife must have. Your family has a farm in the valley. You can go see them every afternoon.
Now eat breakfast and meet your teacher.
Yo ate breakfast of breads and pastries and drank heartedly of the tea that was offered.
Soon she was full and she wanted to go back to sleep but a fat engorged tick crawled into the room.
Little Yo it is time for your training.
What training cold I possibly need to be the wife of a mantis demon?
Well now not even a full day out of the factory and Little Yo is already too good to learn something. She already knows everything, she knows what and when the mantis demon eats, she knows how to walk with her soon to be husband, and most important of all she knows her place in the scheme of the demon world and in the insect kingdom.
And the tick began to turn. Well that makes my job an easy one for the next five years.
No wait I am sorry I was very brash and rude. I shall never speak to my teacher like that again.
The tick stopped and with out turning said over his shoulder ‘and you will always do as I say without question?’
Yes master tick yes.
The tick turned and smiled. He took two steps and halted.
Why you are very beautiful I see what the mantis sees in you.
Little Yo blushed.
So today we will learn the proper way to greet a mantis.
And so the lessons went until 3 o'clock every day. And at 3:30 Yo would go down to the village to visit with her family. They never asked her about the factory.
They never talked about the fact she refused to wear shoes and they never ever spoke about the times before she had promised the mantis demon marriage.
One evening while in her garden she heard voices. She recognized the tick, and the mantis but the third voice she did not recognize. She crept to the garden wall and ever so slightly peeked over the wall into the garden of the mantis demon. The garden was unkempt and dark. The plants and flowers looked to be on the verge of dying. In the center was the tick, the mantis demon, and a wasp.
Oh great liege, wondrous wasp devil, said the mantis demon I think the plan is going quite well. The sacrifice of the roach king was what sealed the deal. She made her choice freely knowing the full consequences of her actions and she still choose to be my wife.
Yes said the tick she still made the decision to better herself and her family rather than to suffer to save the world. Silly that she refuses to wear shoes even though her choice was as selfish as the Americans that buy the shoes.
ZZZZZZZ said the wasp with a impatient gesture of the wings. Clearly the wasp devil had no love or patience for the tick. The roach king told her everything she needed to know?
Yes said the mantis demon except how to kill me once I am in human form.
Good said the wasp devil well then next week when you are married in the cherry orchard I will grant you the human form so that you may open the door to their world and we shall finally rule as we did so long ago.
Yo, not so little now, held her breath and backed away from the wall and went to her room. What had she done? They were right the choices she had made were for her betterment and her families. She knew that to marry the mantis demon would be dangerous to the rest of the world but she so wanted the drunken boss to stop touching her.
What can she do now? There is now way she can break the promise.
The last week went by in a blur.
she told her family of the marriage to be, they were happy to know that they would always be taken care of.
But mama and papa they will do terrible things to the world when he is in human form.
What do you care of strangers Yo they did not care for you as you made shoes, they did not care that you were fed the garbage of everyone else, they just wanted you to make shoes. Why care for them now?
No there has to be a way.
The night before the wedding Yo and the mantis demon ate dinner togerther.
Do you regret your decision to marry me Yo?
Why no mantis demon why do you ask. Have I not been happy and grateful for all that you have done for my family.
Yes you have but in the last week you seem to be thinking about something.
No I have been thinking about my life as the wife of a mantis demon and different it would have been if I had chosen to stay at the factory.
Yes laughed the mantis demon it would have different alright. Let me show you the difference. And the room went dark and then light and there was Yo with two children one about 5 and a newborn nursing. She beamed at the little one attached to her breast.
Why you look happy Yo.
Yes I do I wonder who my husband is.
And just then came in the drunken boss from the night she made her decision.
Is that my husband?
Yes said the mantis demon he forced you to have sex and then you got pregnant. His boss was mad because you could not sew anymore and made him marry you and he works now to pay your debt.
The child ran up to the man Daddy! And then little boy accidentally stepped on the man’s bare toes. The man came in kicked the 5 year old child and her child cried. Yo laughed at the little boy and told him to stop being so clumsy.
Yo cried and said she did not need to see anymore. and the dinning room came back into focus.
Yes I am glad I made my decision.
Good tomorrow we marry and things will be ever better.
In a cherry orchard she stood in the finest silks of a bride and a spider lord hung from a branch.
The mantis demon stood on her shoulder and her family just behind her.
The spider lord asked them if they knew the meaning of love and marriage and they both replied yes.
The spider lord made them promise to be faithful and they did.
He said "it is with great joy and pride that I proclaim you two to be man and wife"
Yo turned to her husband, he smiled the best smile a mantis demon can muster and she leaned over as if to kiss him. He leaned in and she bit his head off.

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