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