Wordcarpenter Books

Chapter Thirty-four

Slipping the Karmic Knot


Tired but with his spirit on fire, Thomas sauntered past the taxi drivers hovering like insects at the station entrance, relieved to have made it back to civilization but aware the General's deputy was trailing him at a distance. At his guesthouse near the Strand Hotel, he paid for a room and proceeded to go upstairs to his room where fatigue overtook him when he saw the neatly made bed. Since his flight departed at midnight he locked the door and fell asleep. He dreamed he was surrounded by Burmese police when he exited his guesthouse and arrested with no charge being given and was taken not to a police station but to an old colonial mansion. The General and his boys were there and searched through his bags and found the stone tablet. He was thrown into a room and locked in. Every time he tried to open the door he got a shock from the doorknob. When he saw the orange spark he woke up holding his hand.

In the dark he felt his hand but there was nothing wrong with it. Flicking on the light and slowly shaking the sleep out of his head, he studied his hand and saw a red mark - the same mark that was on Joshua's forehead in Manitoba. He realized it was a premonition. Quickly assessing his situation, he recalled a German Proverb: The best carpenters make the fewest chips. To be on the safe side, he gathered his things together and walked down to the foyer of the guesthouse. He peeked through the shaded sliding glass doors at the front but didn't see any police outside. At the front counter he saw his reflection in a mirror; he had arrived in Burma with white skin but after 3000km beside an open window his skin had bronzed to a deep ochre red with his hair a long nest of waves from endless swirls of dust.

"Tomorrow I am leaving on the train to go to Dawei in the south to relax on the beach," he said to the skinny clerk with the stained shirt. "But I would like to reserve a room here two days from now when I return. Is that okay?"

"Yes, that will be fine sir. What day is it?"

"I will return from Dawei on Tuesday afternoon and then fly out on Wednesday morning for Bangkok. So I need one night on the 24th."

"Yes sir. Same room?"

"Sure. I would also like to pay for it now." With the receipt in hand he asked if he could leave one of his bags behind the desk.

"I have my jacket and some warm clothes that I won't need on the beach so is it okay if I leave them here with you and pick them up when I return in a few days?" He purposely spoke slowly so everything will be understood. "Is that a problem?"

"Not at all sir. Is your name on your bag?"

"Yes. Here, see it?" He gave him his bag with dirty clothes that he didn't have space for and he didn't want anyway. He had more important items to bring with him in his big knapsack.

"There's one more thing. May I leave a message for a friend?"

"Of course sir." The clerk handed him paper and a pen, and he wrote out a note.

"It's for a guy named Andrew. He will be arriving tonight some time. Just so you know, I will be waiting for him at the Strand Hotel. I'm meeting him there between 9:30 and midnight - whenever he can get away from a previous engagement."

"Yes sir. I will give it to him sir."

"Thanks mate. See you later." Leaving his other bag with the clerk he left the foyer pretending to settle in for dinner.

"Dinner sir?"

"No thanks. But I'm wondering if you have a back way out of the guesthouse? I have someone following me and I would like to leave through the back way. Is that okay?" The waiter was confused and was unable to think through the situation but the Mama-San overheard the question and approached him.

"Why do you want to leave through the back way?" Thomas gave her his best look of distress and worry.

"There is a man outside who wants to get some money from me after we had a game of cards last night. It wasn't a lot of money, but he's pretty sore about it. I would rather just exit through the back and then I can get a taxi. Is that okay?" The Mama-San wanted more of an explanation but he started to walk towards the kitchen without waiting for a reply.

"Wait sir. A moment." He stopped and bowed, demonstrating subservience to her. It was what she wanted and it showed he didn't want to say anything more. She studied him for a moment.

"You have paid for your room?"

"Yes m'am. Here's my receipt." He held out the receipt and then began walking towards the kitchen but stopped to give her his most pearly-white universal greeting, forgetting his teeth were now stained betel red.

"Is it okay m'am? Please?"

"Okay. Here, let me show you." He followed her through the kitchen and out into the street behind the guesthouse. "Thank you again m'am," he said, with a half-bow. "Next time when I return I will be sure to stay here. You're very kind." It was candy to her ears.

With his backpack heavy and snug, he walked inconspicuously away from the guesthouse towards the colonial epicenter along the water until he was able to hail a taxi.

"Airport please," he said.

Sitting in the backseat he pondered thus: There are always some things that are forever outside of ones control but if one never makes an effort to see if that thing might go their way, they will always be of the opinion that that thing will never to fall in their favor.

Thomas had no control over the chances of him buying a ticket out of the country before his midnight departure to Hong Kong, but he sure as hell was going to try.



 "Hello. I am calling to inquire if any police have come by the guesthouse in the last few hours?"

"That's strange," said the clerk. "There are policemen here right now. Who's calling please?" He hung up. Thomas stood in the departure area at the airport listening to the last call to Bangkok, boarding pass in his sweaty hand. He thought to himself: Intuition, more often than not, can save a man.


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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