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
"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
"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.
"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
"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
"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.
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
please," he said.
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.
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
"Hello. I am
calling to inquire if any police have come by the guesthouse in the last few
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.