Thomas was happy to arrive in Hong Kong with the
sacred tablet but he knew his days in Asia were numbered when he showed up for
work a few days late. During the first week back at the office his lethargy was
noticed by his boss. He told him that he lacked a certain urgency in his
work. By the end of the first week back from Burma, he was spending more time
drinking coffee in the pantry instead of rushing to finish the textbook. He
just didn't care as much as he had before.
Knowing the actual artifact existed made him look at
the world differently. Nihilism flourished and he abandoned any false idols he
might have had in a culture of mistrust. But this wasn't all. The city that
once moved like a symphony of parts now appeared as an aggregate incongruity of
subways and buses and honking taxis. Crowds of peoples regarded each other with
suspicion and unjust blame, spewing out a vibe of resentment making it a
contagion even to the purest fortified heart. People's faces showed the poison
of the tap water and wore the gray eye rings from the sedentary life of office
work, busy comparing what others had with what they didn't have. The
philosopher needs his space, his view, and his sounds of nature to feel a sense
of belonging to the environment. He needs his hue and visual texture and
freedom to smile at the rising sun. To keep the stew from oxidizing into an
inedible crust, the stir stick must jostle the dormant powers of creation
inherent his character. He needed to be able to retreat to the sanctity of the
forest with winds fleecing tree branches creating songs from nature. The sacred
knowledge Thomas had gained had produced a narcotic effect on his person.
One cannot experience such a profound event without
being affected in ways that at the time remain unclear. So much of one's
actions are dictated by an overpowering strength of character that one always
thinks he is master of, but most times his character will hold sway over even
the strongest will.
That first week back he received a letter from Josh.
All it said was: "Your twin brother needs you, please come home." He booked a
flight to Canada for the end of the August, three weeks hence. He would be
returning with the stone tablet and reunite with Josh.
On the ferry coming home from work that Friday night
at the end of the first week back, he bumped into Our Man Chaffey.
"Thomas! You coming to the Full Moon Party tomorrow
night?" His usual reply wasn't forthcoming. Instead he found himself enamored
with the girl standing beside Our Man Chaffey. He saw the same look of
irony in her eyes.
"Will you be there too?" he asked her.
"I'm not used to this heat and I don't have
air-conditioning right now in my place, so yes: I'll be spending Saturday and
Sunday on the beach."
"I think I'll be there." He winked at her. That' was
when she introduced herself as Claire.
"I'll see you tomorrow night."
That night he had another vivid dream. He was out on a
soccer pitch but instead of playing he was watching the game. For some reason
he knew when there was going to be a goal. When he saw a long-haired player
place the ball for the corner kick and watched the header go in, everyone else
was surprised but Thomas. Then after the game he found himself again on the
pitch. He had a soccer jersey and went to trade it but the long-haired player
saw that he wasn't a player so he wanted the jersey from him without barter so
Thomas gave it to him. He was there empty-handed on the pitch but the
long-haired player came back and completed the trade by giving Thomas his
jersey, which ended up being his old Green Hornets #11 hockey jersey. He then
found himself trying to find the way from the soccer field. He was in this
underground labyrinth of concrete where he couldn't find the way out. The gray
concrete had no way out except staircases and dust. There were no signs. But
after he led the way, many others followed him down stairs to the dusty hallway
to a door that opened up to an old stone house - his father's house. They all
gathered there but Thomas was concerned that his father will be angry with so
many people there. Just then his mother opened the front door and approached
him. He could see that she was beside herself with fear at how his father will
be furious. He explained the situation to her - that there were no directions
of how to exit the soccer stadium so they ended up here. He then slipped out of
the house as if no one had seen him and was relieved that he won't be yelled
at. He stood in what he thought were nearby woods where the remainder of the
soccer fans and players soon emerged from the old stone mansion where they
crossed a bridge over a valley and then stood in line waiting for Thomas. But
when he looked at them across the bridge, he saw they were all men who had
really short hair - tonsures - and were wearing brown monk robes. So from where
he stood in the woods he watched the men all with very short hair and thick
brown friar outfits line up waiting for him to show them the way. As he looked
at them he could see his breath because it was so cold.
In the morning when he awoke, he was baffled. The
subconscious mind is a powerful thing when affected by life's events.