• Stefan Neff

From Zero To Hero Chapter 2

When I Saw Her Face...

I remember it was the winter of 1998 when life was going basically alright for me. I was twenty-nine years old, living with my son on the family farm, growing organic vegetables. I was just going through the motions of living, trying to survive as a single father of a seven-year-old, whose mother had abandoned him. At that time, I was searching for something or someone to fill the void in my life.


I was smoking 10 -15 marijuana joints a day and downing an 8 pack of beer. It seemed normal to me. Hey, I had even started growing my own pot to keep costs down.


The truth about drinking and smoking started when I was 14 years old, I always kind of knew that my older brother was smoking something but I didn’t quite know what, until he looked at me with a gleam in his eye and said, “Do you know what marijuana is?”


I said, “Well I’ve heard of it but never tried it. What does it do to you?”


He said, “It takes all your pains away and makes you feel like nobody can ever hurt you.”


That’s all it took, I was hooked. Like a good brother he was, he said, “You’re old enough to experience what marijuana will make you feel. Come on, take a drag”


Soon after that experience, I remember that my friend’s parents had some homemade beer in their garage so I said to my friend, “Let’s grab some beers and have some fun.”


I set a plan in motion to get drunk that day. I wanted to feel no pain. I remember that we went back into the tree fort I had made the year before, I thought that would be a great place to hide and have some fun.


I thought, “Wow, beer tastes awful.” I drank more and more, and eventually, I thought the beer was really good. I started drinking faster and faster, then we decided to smoke a joint. Wow, my body and mind felt like I was invincible until I stood up. That’s when I started to feel a little dizzy and fell flat on my face.


I couldn’t believe that the feeling of being out of control was so much fun. I didn’t feel much of anything anymore. I felt like I was on top of the world, even though I was laying on my face. My friend started to laugh so hard, that I couldn’t help but laugh myself. The laughter was uncontrollable like someone else was controlling me, I loved it, there was nothing like it. But the reality was hours later I felt all alone after my friend went home, and I started feeling sorry for myself, thinking that I was likely to end up living on this farm all my frigging life, going nowhere, quickly.


It seemed like I was trapped in a life that I didn’t want and didn’t choose. One day was pretty much like the next, with nothing exciting going on. I had to get out of there before I did something stupid. I drifted through the years like a lost child, looking at life dazed and confused, wondering why life was so hard. I found myself hanging around people that needed to numb themselves with drugs and alcohol. It wasn’t long until I found myself being just like them.


A year later I met this girl and fell hard for her. She meant the world to me, and I to her. We fell in love and stayed that way for more than four years. I had never felt this way about a girl before and it was intoxicating. We were absolutely crazy about each other and our feelings seemed to grow like a wildflower reaching towards the sun, every day we were together. I felt

like she was the only one for me. Being with her was like being on a wonderful roller coaster ride that never ended. Each day was a thrill of excitement that I wanted to go on and on forever.


I ended up moving in with her and her family within a few months. She was only fifteen at the time but our age difference meant nothing to me because she acted as if she was in her twenties. We drew closer and closer to her as the years flew by.


It wasn’t easy living with her family. I never knew that living together was going to be so hard and so volatile. She was hard and cold as ice sometimes as if she was looking for an easy ride through life. Her personality changed so quickly, that I never knew who I was talking to, the ice queen or the wild flower.


We finally moved from her mother's house into our own place and what happened next really threw me for a loop. One day I came home from work and she told me that she was pregnant. At first, she looked so happy and full of excitement. Then I asked her to marry me. Suddenly her mood changed. The next moment I felt a cold feeling running through my veins when

she said, “There is no way in Hell that I’m ever going to marry you.” I was stunned and totally confused at how the conversation could start out so well and end with us breaking up.


A few days later she packed up all her stuff and left me. I didn’t know what to say! She said, “You’re never going to be the kind of man I want in my life. I want a man, that is going to do what I ask, without question.” I knew at that moment that my life was over. I had tried to be the kind of man she wanted, but I guess somehow I just didn’t measure up.


She just walked away with not even a goodbye, nothing. I was ashamed to move back to my mother's home, so I stuck it out in a house full of drunks and drug addicts. The next few months were hell like no other I had experienced. I started to become sour deep inside my core, trusting no one and angry at everyone, feeling like I was a worthless speck in the vacuum of life.


I found that the only thing that would help stave off total depression was more drugs and lots of alcohol. I remember one night I was asked if I ever tried heroin before, by the landlord where I was living. I was curious, about what it did to people. One night he asked me if I would help him shoot up. This was horrifying, but I wanted to see it for myself. I learned firsthand what heroine does to a man, he went from looking like a normal person to a limp bowl of Jello,

bouncing off the walls. I knew right there and then that this drug was very ugly. A couple of days later as morning came, I noticed that he was outside burning garbage in a homemade fire barrel. I wasn’t sure what to think of it at the time but when the next day arose, I finally understood where I was.


I went to work like any other day wondering if I should stay there or go back to the farm where I grew up. I felt like I needed to escape the clutches of a life that had me tightly wrapped around its finger. After work that day I walked into the domain of hell that I called home. Throughout the night all I could hear was loud noises of Rock ‘n’ roll coming into my room. The party was out of control. I didn’t sleep much that night but that was not much different than most nights.


Like I do most mornings, I unlocked the bedroom door to go for a shower. I noticed a nasty smell in the air but didn’t think much of it until I walked into the living room where the smell grew stronger. Beer bottles scattered the entire living room like a graveyard. I ignored the mess and got ready for work.


Outside there were people that looked like businessmen, all dressed in suits. One of them asked, “Who are you? What are doing here sir?”


I asked him, “Who are you?” With an angry voice, he answered, “We are here because of a possible homicide last night.”


I answered with, “What the FUCK are you talking about?”


The man in the suit replied, “You are in over your head young man. Maybe it’s time you answered a few questions. This place is in lock-down and we are putting everyone under a microscope to find out why someone died last night.”


I didn’t believe what was happening. My mind was blank. No words would form. I was completely in shock. I told the officer who I was, and my story about everything that I knew. The one thing I remember from what he told me was him saying, “Stefan, you should leave this place today.”


I took his advice and left that very same day, packing all my stuff up and plowing out of there like a freight train leaving the station of hell behind. This was more than a horrifying memory that has been stuck in my head for nearly thirty years. This was the worst nightmare I could imagine. The one thing was, I didn’t want to go back to the farm again and I had nowhere else to go. I felt like I failed as a person and as a man. My life was a mess and I just didn’t know what to do. I ended up going home because it was the only safe option I had. No more drug houses, no more unsavoury roommates. Home is where I went and home is where I stayed.


After I had been back a few months, my mother thought it would be a great idea to have some Japanese home-stay girls come to live on the farm. The idea was that they would pay for their stay while they learn about farm life and help with the chores. This seemed like a fantastic idea. I thought it might be a great way to meet a woman who might be searching

for a man like me. I hadn’t been seeing anyone for a while and I was getting itchy for some female company.


Well, as soon as that idea came up, my mouth started watering like a dog looking for a bone. My imagination went wild. Wow, this was going to be just what the doctor ordered. I was a hungry man looking for some exciting young thing to devour.


So many girls had come and gone in my life. I hadn’t ever found that one special girl for me I had lots of sexual encounters, some for a week or two, but no real relationships. This had gone on for years and years. A girl might stick around for a while but never very long. I would try valiantly to connect with them but in the end, they would always leave me. It seemed that I barely got to know them, and the door would close in my face every time. Rejection after rejection.


When Mom had mentioned Japanese girls, my mind went right to the miniseries Shogun. After watching that, I assumed that all Japanese women were subservient to men and would give them sex whenever they wanted it. I had an insatiable appetite for sex and was looking for exactly that kind of woman. I wanted to live the fantasy that was running in my head and could hardly wait for the girl to arrive. I wanted a foreign wildcat, someone exciting, someone who was a little edgy, well a lot edgy, ready, and willing to please.


When I finally met her, I knew the fantasy wasn’t going to come true, at least not with her. The girl we ended up getting seemed rather bland and uninteresting. She seemed to want to win my affections but my love meter wasn’t bouncing all over the place. Nothing was registering because the magic just wasn’t there. I had felt love before, and this wasn’t it. I could tell that she was hunting for something more but I just couldn’t give in return. She felt more like a younger sister than a girlfriend.


One day she said she was feeling kind of homesick and asked if she could have another Japanese homestay come over and visit for the day. My ears perked up when I heard that. In a blink of an eye, I volunteered to go and pick the girl up the next day. She was staying at a horse farm just down the road from our home. How lucky was that?


That night I could hardly sleep I was so excited. I fantasized all night about how shy she would be at first. I imagined that she was really a horny girl looking for a Gaijin like me to pleasure. I could imagine her in my mind like it was really happening.


The next day came, and I was so excited to meet this woman. I already wanted her because she had haunted my dreams. I had a stupid grin on my face while I drove over to pick her up, all the while thinking she is going to be the one for me. As I drove up to the house my heart was pounding with fear and anticipation of the pleasure I would have with her.


I walked up and knocked on the door of a beautiful horse ranch, waiting in anticipation of who would open the door. The door opened up slowly, like in a movie. There was so much intensity in my mind, I felt like a little kid in a candy store, ready to take the first bite of a sweet candy bar.


A beautiful Japanese woman opened the door. She looked at me curiously. Tomoko had already been told about me and as she looked at me with questions. “He looks like a man who is already spoken for. He has a son, so there must have been love in his heart for another. He looks like he’s hiding something from the world. Why is he a single father? He must be in love with the women of his child.”


She was trying to escape her past in Japan and a painful, longing passion for another man. She was still in love with him and wondered, “Why is Stefan looking at me like that? I don’t understand this kind of man. This doesn’t seem right. I’m not looking for romance here in Canada, I only want to escape my past, I want him to just leave me alone.” But then we started talking and the stories we shared seemed to connect us on a deeper level.


She started to look at me with curious eyes, “Can he be the one? Or is this just passion speaking?” It seemed like she wasn’t sure what to think of me. Her mind was all mixed up with uncertainty, her emotions taking over her body and mind the more time we spent together.


As we were driving back to my house, I couldn’t take my eyes off her. All I could think about was, “What if she is really the one for me?” Nervous but confident, she seemed soft inside and a little wounded. I wanted to save her. We talked a lot and she listened to me, which made me feel like she really cared what I was telling her. I had a fear of whether I was understood or not, but she seemed to want to have a deeper conversation so I thought she must understand me.


When we got back to my house I went into the bathroom and looked into the mirror and a little voice said “Watch out! You are in for the ride of your life.” Somehow that wasn’t a comforting thought.


The day went great. I cooked them some amazing food and we all hung out together, did farm work, and laughed at terrible jokes. Tomoko loved to help in the kitchen and made fun of me while I cooked. We drank Corona while I sat back and watched the two of them talking. There was so much passion in their voices, it excited me. I didn’t know what to say, so I sat quietly. I was scared that if I said the wrong thing I would scare her away. Somewhere in my mind, I knew that this was an important moment and I should be careful.


The end of the day came and it was time to take her back to the home-stay where she was living, I couldn’t believe it was over. How could it just end like this? As I was driving her home, I told her she could come over anytime she wanted to, and I would come to pick her up. She said, “OK, I will,” in her broken English. I remember driving her home wondering if this really was the end and questioning whether I should just let her go without saying anything more?


Suddenly, I was babbling like a fool, telling her she was such a great person, thanking her for spending the day with me and basically filling the void with whatever stray thought popped into my head. There was something about her that really sparked my interest and I was afraid to lose that.


She looked at me with this look in her eye that I can still imagine today. Her eyes suddenly glowed with joy and happiness that seemed to come from deep within her soul and I was hooked.


Chapter 3 - The Next Day Revealed A Truth... coming soon!!




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