Wordcarpenter Books

Chapter Thirteen 


 

In which Catharine the artist is tracked to the Shamrock Café

and eery coincidence of a reoccurring dream 

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Waking up in the clean mountain air perfumed with the crisp scents of forest, Hellmantle's first thought was of the woman he had met last year while in Manila for an assignment for the magazine. He wondered if today would be the day that he could kindle that unrealized flame and secure his love interest during his noble enterprise so far north in such a remote setting. He had met the fair-haired artist when she was in the big city picking up art supplies for her little getaway in Sagada. To Hellmantle her invitation to visit her was sincere enough to warrant the effort of the Halseema Mountain Trail and the added degree of trailbiking prowess to overcome the terrain; braving valleys with headhunters among cloud and darkness was a pittance to him for what might lay ahead for him. But he felt in his gut something that he wasn't sure the name for it. It was a pre-cognitive feeling that he knew he could never fathom.

Dennis Faustino had already left for the church so he and D'Aqs packed up but did not go over to the church to watch part of the wedding until D'Aqs had written a note leaving his father's address in Hong Kong in case Dennis Faustino ever landed on Hong Kong Island. With his PhD he might enjoy meeting his father, a fellow academic. Hellmantle didn't think of leaving a note and was noticeably impatient as he sat at the top of the steps. Through the open doors they saw Dennis Faustino playing the organ looking a bit puffy around the eyes.

Hellmantle noticed behind the church where there were some graves an American World War Two memorial had been defaced. It bothered him that someone had painted over the engraved letters so the writing on the mantle was illegible. Beside it there was a green shamrock over the gate of the adjoining school called Trinity College, which made him forget about the vandalized memorial.

"Let's go to the Shamrock Café to ask about the German lass," he said, realizing that he had started to procrastinate. He tried to be cavalier but he was nervous about finally tracking her down.

D'Aqs waved at Dennis and then they left for café on the main street. There was space in front of some tables to park their dirt bikes, as there were no sidewalks. In the brightness of the morning, the Shamrock Café was tiny.

"She is still not arrived señor," said the woman with empathy." No bus yet, but soon señor, very soon."

"I can't stay, unfortunately. We're on our motorcycles and have to be back in Manila in four days."

"I can leave her a message if you want sir."

"Hellmantle. Tell her Hellmantle from Normandy came by to see her and consummate our destiny." The woman put a small piece of scrap paper on the table and she wrote down his name. After she had finished writing he took it to correct the spelling, and added: "Fair artist from Germany, I have trekked a thousand miles on my motorbike to see you but alas! You are not here. But knowing that you are here and known by this bar manager, I am inspired by your honesty and will complete my quest in honor of you. Maybe we'll have the chance to meet again." He even left a telephone number for further correspondence at the artist's discretion due to D'Aqs' suggestion. He had left evidence of his presence for her.

D'Aqs suggested coffee to get Hellmantle back on track. They sat under old wooden shutters with a view of miles of mountaintops and sloping green hills that still felt like the café at edge of the universe by virtue of its vista: strange rock formations protruding upwards like obelisks surrounded by bright green grass and dotted with clusters of pine forests, wooden coffins hanging out of cave openings. It looked like a fairy tale.

"I feel as if I'm in prehistoric Ireland," said Hellmantle looking out the window.

"Like a fairy tale. I can see why the artist lives here." But the calm vibe was marred when other foreigners sat right beside them when there was many other tables open in the small café. Loud and excited and immature, it rattled Hellmantle's sensitivities. Perhaps it was the combination of caffeine and the dramatic vista before him, he soon felt claustrophobic and spoke thus to D'Aqs in a whisper:

"Why would they sit here when there are so many other tables?" D'Aqs shrugged his shoulders and sipped his coffee. Watch the tourists' posture manifest in an array of deviations from their old self. Granted taking the first steps out of ones shell is a rite of passage everyone must take, I have already stepped in those waters so I don't want to be privy to others shin splints stumbling out of shells secluded and silent in a small café when the vibrancy of the mountains draws me! I don't know if that is arrogance or just because my way of traveling is truer than flying in from some airport. I dislike being around green tourists. Perhaps it's an imperfection of mine, but showing man's imperfections is the essence of telling the truth, non?"

Hellmantle was so antsy that he repacked his backpack and fastened it to his motorcycle with the bungee cords. As D'Aqs waited for him to fix his pack, he realized that he too was becoming claustrophobic. He wasn't sure if it was the attitude that came from young westerners ending up in exotic locales fresh off a bus talking of television shows that was infringing upon his sense of adventure too. Perhaps it was his newborn love for motorcycling that had shown him another form of traveling, the purity of its degree of freedom having wrecked his previous idea of travel.

"Let's go Hellmantle." For a moment he watched the tall man in the motorcycle jacket and scraped black boots laces tied around the top of the boot leaving tow hole free, gold-rimmed glasses shining in the mountain sun.

"Yes! Let us move on! Time to go find the Dutchman with the map. Not finding my Fair Lady will not deter me from my duty at hand!" They started their engines with some moxie to show the green tourists sitting with their fat bellies they lived in another dimension of life, one where danger was real and where skills were a required ingredient to get from point A to B. When D'Aqs was pulling his gloves he saw a woman walking towards them, hair left to its own accord, bag drooped over a shoulder that might have been the reason for the tilt of her head. At first he thought it was the German artists but she was clearly brunette. He didn't know her but he tipped his helmet to be polite.

"Senorita, Buenos Dias," he said, finding dormant words.

        With ease she put her hand on his handlebars and said:

        "Don't tell me you rode here from Manila?" He felt the flush of his cheek from the pride he had to say yes. Her eyes sparkled gray in the sun. "That's braver than most."

        "It wasn't my idea. It was my cousin's," he said, bashful.

        "We've met somewhere, haven't we?" When she came closer he smelled her that sent his physiology haywire. He had always believed there was someone out there destined to be his partner through life but hadn't been fortunate to find her.

"Are you an...an artista?" Her hand grabbed his with the same ease as her hair had in the soft breeze, as if silk.

"We have met!" He wanted her to keep her hand on his forearm, forever.

        "Actually-"

        "Or was it in my dream?" He hand abandoned him going to her mouth, lips thin and pink and inviting. "Oh my God! You are!" Cheeks flushed, eyes piercing. He knew what dream she was referring, the same one he had had over and over again.

        "You-"

        "You're a priest or something, aren't you?"

        "How-"

        "Because I know." In all the vicissitudes life had thrown at him he had never felt safer than this moment.

        "I was recently a missionary in Burma," he said, his voice calm despite the tidal waves in his heart.

        "Across from that big fort in Mandalay? Just a guess."

        "You mean Fort Dufferin?"

        "Yes! That one." Their eyes could not let go.

        "I must say, this is truly extraordinary! The stone church across from the fort, the one near the Buddhist monastery with all of Gautama Buddha's parables written on those stone tablets, was where I was stationed until I went to where George Orwell used to live when he was an Imperial policeman after he graduated from Eton from 1923 to 1928. Poor guy left with his health in tatters."

"That's classic!" eyes warm and without malice. "I must say, this is truly extraordinary! In tatters." Her laugh caught Hellmantle's attention through the sounds of their engines.

"My angel!"

        "No way!" she said when she recognized Hellmantle. "You did come!"

"I have traversed many miles to see you!" Overt and clumsy, his awkwardness gave D'Aqs a strength he had never experienced before. Catharine put her hand on his forearm again, her eyes intent on him. Hellmantle turned off his engine and hugged her, his hair all over the place.

"Are you brothers? You have the same eyes...almost." Catharine then made it clear whom she was enamored with when she looked into D'Aqs' eyes with meaning.

        "We're cousins," he said.

        "Well, I am flattered. I think that's the right word." She put her bag at D'Aqs' feet as if she had been doing it all her life.

        "My fair lass! We shall consummate our kindling fire so that I may fulfill my destiny of finding the map!" Catharine looked at him with concern, and then remembered Hellmantle's strange ways.

        "I certainly remember meeting you."

"I knew it!" he said.

"You're the type of man a woman remembers," she said, feeding the Man from Normandy the words he desired to hear. "I really like your beard. It's very...bright."

        "I knew there was an a priori understanding between us!"

        "A what?" She giggled, looking at D'Aqs that said she was aware of Hellmantle's eccentricities. She looked at the dried mud on her sleeve after the embrace left from Hellmantle's riding jacket.

        "Here, let me get the note I just left you!" He flew to the counter to retrieve the note.

        "He's funny."

"Yes, he is funny." The understanding was bridged. They could already communicate between the lines. When he shut off his engine he felt none of the terror he always had around other women. Yes, Catharine was the one he had been waiting for.

        "Sagada of all places we meet."

        "I was jus thinking the same thing," she said, the moment with tremendous gravitas.

 

Ω

 

When they sat at the table beside the shuttered window D'Aqs had never been happier, especially when she pressed her leg against his under the table. It was exactly what he needed to quell insecurities that arose when he could witness her beauty, And he could see that she loved it from her expression, which he read as not wanting to change her present situation.

Hellmantle busied himself with retelling their exploits so far on the trip, taking special care to highlight the manliness required to ‘conquer the Halseema Mountain Trail.' Showing tremendous social tact she gave Hellmantle her attention so that his illusions wouldn't shatter, which was something D'Aqs had learned to do too.

"So we took the old missionary trail to see you despite the fact that it has cost us some valuable time," he said, coming close to his conclusion.

"Thank God for that! Otherwise we wouldn't have met." The double entendre was confirmed with the subtle flinching of her leg against D'Aqs'. He wondered how Hellmantle, who was uncomfortable with human contact, could sustain a relationship with a woman. The thought pained him because he was the last in his family line to carry the surname Hellmantle.

"I don't know your family or much about you but something in my intuition told me that you have a purpose in my grande scheme."

        "I know what it is," she said, playfully.

        "It's so that D'Aqs and I can fulfill our holy mission in the name of love, chivalry and the Holy Grail!" D'Aqs, knowing now what the searching for the Grail meant, couldn't help himself from asking:

        "Where is your family from? You know we're from Normandy who recently fled to Quebec during the war."

        "I think I said I was from Germany, which is right because I was born there but my family for centuries is from Gronigen in Belgium. My last name isn't German." He and Hellmantle looked at each other, D'Aqs giving him the nod to ask the question.

"What is your surname?"

        "My name is Catharine Asher." It meant nothing to D'Aqs but Hellmantle suddenly stood up.

        "There is no reason for you to deceive, so that really is something: Asher! Actual footage," he said, and straightened his posture. "I'm Roland Hellmantle if you recall, and this fine lad here is-"

        "I'm D'Aqs Grosjean," he said, henceforth using his original surname.

        "D'Aqs?"

        "It's a shortened form of D'Aquitaine. It means of the water."

"My mother's family is from there." Hellmantle, becoming more agitated the more he looked at his wristwatch, spoke thus:

"I remember now! It was the spelling of your name Catharine with the "ar" rather than the "er" that caught by attention."

        "I recall when you asked the spelling of my name. You had a...a reaction."

        "It's rare that your name is spelt with the "ar," but for me it signifies that your parents are aware of the massacre of the Cathars during the ninth century. And for me that was the Sign." Looking at D'Aqs he said: "See? There was a reason."

        "And Hellmantle is loathe to pass by a Sign."

"Don't tell me, your family is not Catholic."

        "No, my father is always talking about Catholics and history. It really made me bananas when I was younger."

"Same with me."

"I never got it."

"Nor did I." He unintentionally grabbed her hand, which she held and put under the table so Hellmantle's spirit wouldn't be unbuouyed.

"He would be an Orange Man if he could, but he wasn't born in Northern Ireland! But now that we have met and we know you are an Asher from the tribe of the same name, we are set to attain our quest. And that means now!" D'Aqs knew Hellmantle was not one for long good-byes so when he paid for the food and coffee and went to his motorcycle to put on his kit, he knew he wouldn't wait for them.

"Will you-"

"Yes! I will. I love Hong Kong." They gave each other a long hug, D'Aqs immediately drugged by her pheromones.

        "You have to call me because you don't have a telephone!"

        "You know I will. At the end of next week after you guys are back. Ride safe here though. And use your head." She looked wearily at Hellmantle. "Make sure he doesn't do anything too extreme. We have a lot to catch up on D'Aqs." He knew she was thinking of her reoccurring dream, the same one that had sustained him through forty years of celibate patience and faith that one day he would meet his mate. How rare was this moment! He decided then that God existed, and to honor Him and Catharine he would grow his beard.

  

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                             
          The Family of the Bible
FIRST PART
1.       Concerning the famous Hellmantle's position, character and way of life
2.       Concerning the ingenious man's visit with his uncle Jack Grosseteste
3.       Which relates to how Hellmantle is given his first adventure
4.       About what happened to our adventurer when he goes to the Philippines
5.       In which the story of our crusader's journey begins in earnest
6.       About Hellmantle's time in the city of sin on Christmas Eve
7.       About the brave Hellmantle's success on his adventure to Baguio City worthy of happy memory
 
SECOND PART
8.       In which the courageous Hellmantle of Normandy journeys north into the Cordillera Mountain Range
9.       About what happened to Hellmantle in the mission in the mountains and the crucifixion of Jesus
10.     Concerning Hellmantle of Normandy in the land of the headhunters
11.     About the required riding techniques to reach the destination of Sagada and the church organist
12.     In which the German artist is tracked to the Shamrock Café and dangers of the northeast of Luzon Island
13.     In which Catharine is tracked to the Shamrock Café and an eery coincidence of a reoccurring dream
14.     About Hellmantle reaching the rice terraces and finding a way to the northwest
15.     About what happened to our intrepid philosopher in the middle of the Sierra Madre Mountains
16.     In which a record is given about the brave Hellmantle through uncharted territory on his trusted dirt bike
17.     Which relates to Hellmantle of Normandy reaching the northern coast and the rubble of Aparri
18.     About the final day of the motorcycle journey and discussing the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel in Vigan
19.     About the sermon in Agoo Basilica and what they find at the church with the rouge bell tower
20.     Concerning the Dutch Padre and what he knows about the hidden map
21.     About the return to Manila and the coup that causes the Great Man from Normandy grief
 
THIRD PART
22.     Which brings Hellmantle of Normandy back to Hong Kong to re-evaluate the next step in his quest for truth
23.     In which their journey is related to Jack Grosseteste and a new task is set before the Man from Normandy
24.     Concerning the journey to northern Vietnam to track down the map hidden at a French prison
25.     About how Hellmantle and D'Aqs compare notes on their task at hand in Hanoi
26.     In which an account is given of the beginning of the journey of Hellmantle in Vietnam
27.     About how Hellmantle and his brave squire ride north to the place where the four rivers meet
28.     Concerning the French prison and what Hellmantle finds there
29.     Concerning the discovery of the bottle and what lies inside of it
30.     Concerning the journey to Dien Bien Phu in honor of their grandfather the Great Dane Hellmantle
31.     About what the motorcyclists see on the fields in Dien Bien Phu
32.     Concerning the motorcycling required to reach Hanoi via the other side of the Da River Valley
33.     Which tells of the final stage back to Hanoi and the discussion after their most beautiful ride
 
FOURTH PART
34.     Concerning the visit with the knowledgeable Jack Grosseteste and the sally to India
35.     Concerning the arrival and journey to Kashmir Valley
36.     In which the journey begins in earnest through the checkpoints to the foot of the Moghul Fort
37.     In which Srinagar is reached and how the houseboat was as it was hundred years ago
38.     In which Hellmantle reach their houseboat on the lake below the fort and beside the mosque
39.     In which Hellmantle sets out for the Tomb of Thome and his brother Joshua beside him
40.     Which relates to the agreeable history of the journey north to the monastery on horseback
41.     In which Hellmantle returns to Srinagar and finds the first translations of the black stones
42.     Which concerns the deciphering of the discovery at the monastery and the need to go to the Ganges River
43.     About Hellmantle of Normandy's meeting with the holy man after taking a dip in the Ganges River
44.     About Hellmantle's meeting at Jack Grossetests's place with D'Aqs and Catharine the artist from Sagada
 
o       Chronology of Historical Events
         
next  

  
 
 
 

  

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