Wordcarpenter Books

Chapter Seventeen 


When the 12th Moon Comes


            When he arrived in Mandalay he found a guesthouse and then looked for a motorcycle to rent. Despite the fact that almost all of the vehicles on the road were small motorbikes that churned up dust and belched out exhaust, finding a place to rent one proved difficult. With no stores marked with English signs and very few even had a sign, asking the most basic questions was a challenge. Down the main street through the roadside bazaar, he passed brittle dried fish tied in smelly bundles, sugar cane, coconuts, unripe bananas, cooking pots, chickens in cages, bottles of rice wine, little Buddhas, earthenware jars, candles and Chinese sweetmeats covered with garlic and heart-shaped betel leaves ready for consumption. Finally he found a bicycle rental store where he met a chap who spoke some English.

"Where I can rent a motorbike?" Files of women walked by balancing vegetable baskets on their heads.

"No where," he replied, black hair falling in his eyes, decaying gums and red teeth from his betel nut habit. "There are no stores to rent." Using all sorts of body language and choppy sentences, he said it was illegal to rent motorcycles to foreigners and that he would likely be pulled over by the police if he did. Thomas brushed it off as hyperbole but he had already noted the high number of traffic police asking motorcyclists to pay on-the-spot fines. Regardless, he was determined. It would take a lot more than a traffic fine to stop him. Only with his own transportation could he find what he was looking for. Fortunately there was a Chinese man there who overheard his question and, after asking a few questions, offered to rent his own motorcycle to Thomas.

"I rent it for today and come back tomorrow, okay?" He was all right with this arrangement so Thomas paid him and rode through the streets of Mandalay, getting used to the mayhem and dust and thanking God he brought his aviator prescription sunglasses for dust protection. He passed Hindu temples, mosques, countless pagodas and a British-built university, and in the process discovered there were only a half-dozen streetlights in the city. He learned quickly there was a lot of merging and yielding required to blend in with the sandy flow. Even on a motorcycle the Burmese couldn't help gawking at the tall foreigner puttering around on a motorcycle that was too small.

Once he had his bearings and using his compass, he rode along the main street beside the fifty-foot wide moat that surrounded Mandalay Fort. With red-stone walls and white lookout towers, the massive fort housed the Royal Imperial Palace, where the kings of Burma lived before the British took over the country in 1842. It marked the center point of the city. Across from the fort an old Centenary Methodist Church with a big red bell tower stood. Following his compass to the monastery of the sacred tablets due east of Mandalay Fort, there was no one at the entrance except for a man lying on his motorcycle seat reading a newspaper and a water buffalo loitering beside him. He was a seller of betel nut.

The Buddhist monastery was centered around a main pagoda which was surrounded by 730 stone tablets inscribed with Holy Scripture. Standing there among the hundreds of stone tablets, or zedis, Thomas realized he had no idea what tablet to look at for a clue to finding the Taponi Tablet of the East. After walking around nothing caught his eye so he sat on a step of the main pagoda remembering to remove his shoes. Fat monks sat near the pagoda not doing much of anything except chewing betel nut. Two rake-thin puppies that looked like twins approached him timidly so he patted them both. They both responded by lifting a leg offering their tummy. The puppies were so starved they were days away from death. Following the Buddhist teachings, Thomas gave them long tummy rubs and spoke soothing tones to them as a group of monks gathered around watching. He looked back at the monks with mouths agape, the striking irony was not lost on him. Trying his best to conceal his contempt at their hypocrisy, Thomas looked at them in hope that they would see the errors of their ways.

Humbled and rankled, he left the monastery and puppies behind, bought some betel nut from the man beside the water buffalo and rode his motorcycle due west for the great Irrawaddy River. Tired from the train ride and cranky from the monks without compassion, coupled with a mouth covered in scratchy dust, the riverside café was the ideal tonic to evict the anger percolating in his heart.

Relaxing on the big wooden patio and ordering a large bottle of Dagon Beer, he looked out beyond the river to the western shore of the Irrawaddy, relishing the new frontier that had awaited him since researching in Robert Riel's library. Savoring the amber liquid as it washed the dryness out of his throat, he watched men in long wooden rowboats paddled against the current of the river with oars like toothpicks, and saw the Burmese do their work in flip-flops, sarongs and green bomber jackets. Decrepit wooden boats built before World War Two lined the shore where women with limbs like sticks washed clothes, and skinny dogs rummaged for non-existent food. Even the sight of watching the dogs scavenge for food in the sand made him thirsty. As he unwound on the riverside patio, he took out a baggie of betel nut he bought outside the monastery and popped one in his mouth, nursing the hard nut in the leaf tucked between his gum and cheek.

In trying to figure out a clue using numerology, Thomas focused on the word twins. It was what separated me from the others. In numerology each letter had a corresponding number, such as a=1 because it is the first letter of the alphabet. Each letter after had a number of plus one. Adding up the letters of twins came to 85: [(t=20) + (w=23) + (i=9) + (n=14) + (s=19)]. This number had the end result of 13 (8+5), an important number. It was the number of tribes of Israel (Joseph having the sons Ephraim and Mannessah), and also the number of disciples plus Jesus. Adding up the letters of twin came to 66 (20 + 23 + 9 + 14), which was interesting because 6 was considered the number of the Messiah. Therefore 66 could be regarded as two Messiahs. It also adds up to 12, which was the number of disciples. But since Thomas was one of two twins, 66 could actually be 33.

He placed his research papers in front on the table, trying to figure out his next step. With the soft crosswind coming off the river, he came across a passage in one of his Hopi Prophecy papers that struck him as important. It read: "... and so it shall be booked among many the tablets of peace when the 12th moon comes." Since it described finding the stone tablet during the time of the 12th moon, he figured the 12th moon was the full moon in the twelfth month, otherwise known as the Winter Solstice. December 21st was the first day of winter as well as the shortest day of the year. It was also exactly opposite Joshua's Sundance, which was on the Spring Soltice, the longest day of the year.

Always aware of the divine importance of a coincidence, Thomas quickly employed some basic numerology by adding up the numbers of the 12th moon. This was: 12 (for December) + 21 (for the day when the 12th moon comes), which cadded up to 33. This was also the twin number. And curiously, the sum of 33 (3 + 3) was 6, the number of the Messiah. He inadverdently itched fine sand into the cut on his forehead because it tingled and accidentally broke the scab. From all his papers, it was the only passage that referred to the finding of the stone tablets. Twin intuition told him 33 was the magic number. It was worth a look so he finished his Dagon beer beside the great Irrawaddy and left for the monastery again.


Part One - Canada
1.      The Twin From the East Returns  
2.      The Sundancer  
3.      Waxing Gibbous 
4.      The Second Coming of the Messiah 
5.      The Sacred Twin Story 
6.      The Sign of the Pahana 
7.      Palongawhoya and Poqanghoya 
8.      Rainbow Thunderbird and Red Phoenix 
9.      The True White Brother 
10.    The Lost Louis Riel Notebooks 
Part Two - Hong Kong
11.    A Mixture of Revulsion and Pity 
12.    A Classroom of Scallywags 
13.    Illegitimati non Carborundum 
14.    The Distant Fire of Empyrean
Part Three - Burma
15.    The Monastery of Sacred Tablets 
16.    The Outpost of Tyranny 
17.    When the 12th Moon Comes 
18.    The Pigeon Left & the Crow Took His Place 
19.    Go North and Find Your People 
20.    Finding Orwell 
21.    Though the Monkey is in a Hurry, the Tree Branch is Not 
22.    The Castle at God's Toes 
23.    The General and Sergeant Betel Nut 
24.    The Tattooed Station Master 
25.    Reverend Crow's Life's Work 
26.    Yield Not to Adversity, But Press on More Bravely 
27.    A Bitter Cuppa Tea 
28.    The Thirteenth Tribe 
29.    When a Lamp is Lit You Must Expect Insects 
30.    John the Christian 
31.    A Guardian Angel Named Hanna 
32.    The Bar Car & Betel Nut 
33.    The Son of Light 
34.    Slipping the Karmic Knot
Part Four - Hong Kong
35.    The Tonsure Warning 
36.    The Phoenix Reborn 
37.    Touching the Empyrean 
38.    Joshua the Gatekeeper 
Part Five - Canada
39.    Lapsit Exillis 
40.    Thunderstones 
41.    The Time of Great Purification  


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