20: The Job Hunt

A school was advertising on Tefl.com.

ACE.

The Australian Centre for Education.

I applied.

Got an interview.

A lovely young woman called Deborah interviewed me on Skype.

A few days later I received an email.

I had a job.

ACE.

Cambodia.

I was so excited.

It was really happening.

I booked my flight.

If you had told me that, in 7 years, I would be a homeless, penniless drug addict, abandoned, alone, left to rot and die on the streets of Phnom Penh, I would have laughed in your face.

No way.

Not me.

I was healed.

I’d finished with drugs almost 15 years ago.

I was healed.

This was it.

I had finally given up my life to serve Christ.

After years of internal struggle I gave in to God’s voice.

I let go of my dreams of Hollywood.

I gave up my lifelong belief that I was destined to be a film star.

Whoever desires to save his life will lose it. But whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel will keep it for eternal life.

Jesus

After years of painful internecine conflict, God changed my heart.

Broke my heart.

Inspired by Somaly Mam and The International Justice Mission I was on my way to Cambodia to ‘do my bit’ in the war against child sex trafficking…

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19: Razor & Coco

I sit down at the Swiss Bar.

See a magic elefant.

One of the first magic elefants I had ever seen.

The bar girl sees something in my eyes.

She looks afraid.

I breathe. Relax.

Ask her for a bottle of water.

She saw the fear.

Fear in my eyes.

Or pain.

Or love.

A mix of each.

Pain. Fear. Love.

The magic elefant sees it too.

She’s afraid.

I feel terrible.

Something in my eyes was causing fear. Fear in the heart of a magic elefant.

It kills me.

You’ve got it wrong, I thinks to myself.

I’m not a monster. I don’t want to hurt the elefants. I want to work with the magic elefants. Catch the monsters with them.

What you see in my eyes is fear. Pain. Love.

My consciousness recalibrates.

My thoughts divert to the magic elefant in the village.

The one who loves me.

Coco.

Daughter of Razor.

I’m happy she’s in the village with Mak – her grandmother.

Happy she’s away from the poisonous, vile words of her toxic-tongued father.

He ran to Belgium, someone told me.

Razor didn’t say that. Just said he had to ‘disappear.’

My hope for him was to disappear in little pieces in the feeding bay of a crocodile farm.

Ran to Belgium.

Scared.

Good. I hope he stays there.

I’m getting strange looks from everyone around me – all of the local women.

I guess it’s the 4 nights without sleep.

4 nights waiting for Razor.

How long can I wait?

I see the Bong Thom.

Can I sit with you?

Sure.

She slips me a bag of ice.

Pay me when you’ve got it.

It’s a lot.

About a gram.

I feel like a V.I.P.

She must know I’m James Bond.

Everyone knows, around here.

You jit la’or Steve, aren’t you?

A good heart.

I nods.

I’m jit la’or.

18: My Life as a Dog

So, I told my friends.

Friends from church.

My brother.

The pastor. Not the singer.

My brothers and sisters in Christ.

Homegroup worship leader Phil, whom I had written my first song with.

Actor / comedian Jamie. One of the friends who would not abandon me when the sh*t hit the fan in 7 years time when I would wind up a homeless, penniless junkie, left to die on the streets…

Nick Stewart, who had illustrated the two children’s stories I had written for the young Swedish woman I had fallen in obsessive infatuation with – Amelia Drake – sister of Melinda Kinnaman who had been the lead child actor in the Oscar winning film in the foreign language category My Life As a Dog, directed by Lasse Halstrom.

Amelia Drake.

Another fire cracker in my heart of ire that had exploded me on my journey to combat child sex trafficking…

Amelia.

17: The Police

On Golden Sorya Mall, the centre of the universe, Phnom Penh, I finish telling the story of The Magic Elephants – or rather Elefants – to God, the Universe, and whoever else is listening to me on the subcutaneous microphone implant attached to my skull behind my ear… The Police (the real police not Sting’s band), Francis Ford Coppola and the ones who protect the magic elephants.

Sting’s voice rattles tinnily from a distant speaker:

Every step you take, I’ll be watching you…

Weird.

You see what I mean.

You couldn’t write this shit.

The whole thing feels scripted.

Like a brilliant, perfect script.

But who’s writing it?

God?

Mr. Fox?

Or Mr. C ?

Mr. Crystal Meth Psychosis?

16: Band of Brothers

I told my inner circle I was, finally, heading to Cambodia.

My inner circle of Christian brothers. A group of men, who had taught me, above all, how to have male friendships.

Male friends which nurtured, healed and encouraged.

Chidi Achara, my dreadlocked fashion photographer Cambridge grad brother from the Bahamas – super creative, super smart – the man I always referred to as the coolest dude on the planet.

Chidi would spend his days patrolling Soho with his camera, adorned in green, camouflage army combats.

We met for lunch and to pray one day, and I remember him say:

Why am I still wearing combats? The war’s over.

He was referring to Iraq.

The coolest man on the planet.

He was always getting his pictures – or stories as he called them – in The Sunday Times Culture supplement or supercool fashion mags like Dazed and Confused.

We’d meet in Soho square. Chidi would pray for me.

His prayer was always about creativity, asking God to bless my acting career and my writing.

LORD, please bless Steve’s writing, that out of the mess, the dirt – may grow something beautiful to glorify your Kingdom.

Amen.


15: The Magic Elefants – cont’d…

One, two, and now three magic elephants had reported seeing a monster.

Everyone was scared.

So the magic elephants held a magic meeting.

In the meeting it was decided that the monster had to be caught.

And it had to be caught fast.

But how are we going to catch the monster? asked Tusk, a baby elephant.

Well, said The Queen Elephant, it is very difficult, because the monster is wearing a human suit. But all we have to do, is look in his eyes. If his eyes are shining bright, it is a human, full of love. But if his eyes are dark, it is a monster, full of evil.

Monsters are very clever, and deceive us by wearing sunglasses by day so we cannot see their eyes.

At night its eyes are exposed, but monsters hunt alone at night, and are difficult to be found.

We’ve got an idea, said the Stars. Would you like to hear it?

Yes please, said the Queen Magic Elephant.

When the monster goes out to hunt at night, without his sunglasses, we will turn up our lights,  said the Stars.

We will shine so bright, you will think it’s not night. Then you can see in the monsters eyes and see if they are full of love or evil.

What a brilliant idea, said the Queen.

So the magic elephants waited until night.

When it was dark the monster went out to hunt.

He took off his dark shades, which exposed his terrible eyes.

When I find a baby magic elephant I will eat it alive, thought the monster. I will eat every last part from the head to the heart.

Then, when I am full, I will make a necklace from their baby tusks.

I will wear it everyday to remind me of the the terror I have done.

Yum yum!

So the monster went out to hunt.

He saw a magic elephant walking alone and moved close, in the dark.

Now! said the Moon.

The stars turned up their lights. They shined so bright, that birds sang and thought it was not night.

The Queen looked into the monster’s eyes.

Ha ha! said the Queen. You’re a monster!

And before he could escape, all of the magic elephants gathered around and squirted water through their magic trunks.

The monster was carried high into the sky. He flew up up up so high…he went all the way to God.

You will never hurt the magic elephants again, said God.

Gods love was so fierce that it burned all of the evil in the monster’s heart.

And the magic elephants danced and sang and loved and laughed forever.

The End

14: The Magic Elefants

Once upon a time there was a Kingdom of Magic Elephants.

The magic elephants loved to dance and learn and play.

Most of all they loved to laugh.

Everybody loved the magic elephants because they were full of joy and fun…

And full of love.

But not everybody loved the magic elephants.

They had one terrifying enemy.

The monsters.

Sometimes the monsters would catch the magic elephants to eat them.

The magic elephants were afraid of the monsters.

One day a monster came to the Kingdom of Magic Elephants.

The monsters were clever. They did not look like monsters. They bought human costumes from the shop so they looked like people.

Most people were friendly and loved the magic elephants.

But this made it easy for the monsters to blend in, disguised, and take the magic elephants by surprise.

But there were two things which gave the monsters away…

Their eyes.

Even if the monsters wore a human suit, they could not disguise the evil in their eyes.

Because eyes can not disguise.

And eyes can not tell lies…

Follow my blog for the next part of the story The Magic Elephants.