Wordcarpenter Books

Chapter Six 


About Hellmantle's time in the city of sin on Christmas Eve

Angeles City, Pampanga Province


When they reached Angeles City, D'Aqs wanted to stay in the hotel and eat but Hellmantle insisted on dinner at a place called Margaretville's. It also happened to be Christmas Eve. A mile or two of nothing but bars and nightclubs for thirsty travelers, the strip was just across the fence from the old American base, which was now empty and barren. When the Americans left after Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991, much of the city became a ghost town but it kept up its reputation as a city of sin with its strip of clubs and brothels. In such a staunchly Catholic country, it was like Tijuana during Prohibition.

Shin still sore, Hellmantle limped to the bar where they sat next to an old US Marine with cropped hair and deep lines in his face and neck. The Marine was a little unsteady from too much Christmas cheer. Finding good food was a bonus and the beer quenched their thirst, but things turned sour when the Marine became embittered. For a while they ate in silence, listening.

"They kicked us out in ninety-one and now they spend all this money - that they don't have - to operate our old equipment. Everything we left them is falling apart!" Rock music pumped out of the jukebox, hookers at the bar and everywhere else, Angeles City had a dead weight cast over it like a blackened lung gurgling for its last breath. "Bloody Hell! Do people forget about Macarthur?" said the Marine, raising his voice.

"I've seen the statue of General Macarthur within the old walls of Intramurous and on the island of Corrigedor," said Hellmantle. "He was a great man in local Philippine history but his importance has diminished since the war. Nationalism now blunts the fine-tuning fork that was once Manila's." His words went some way to quell the old man's temper.

"You're a smart kid. Did you know that Clark Air Force base had the highest re-enlistment rate of any American base?" His ticked-off bluntness appealed to Hellmantle, which opened the gates to his own verbal tirade.

"Sure. There was a hierarchy of landed knights here who postured among the elite but slipped into the hedonism of vice, slanderous untruth and desperation. Regardless of whether they wore berets in battle or in cafés, these men all shared a common currency: the Angeles experience. It was the hard-man's Hilton Head, a piece of ass they called their own." D'Aqs watched the activities of old single men and their Philippina escorts sitting around the bar with long faces on the eve of Jesus Christ's birth. If there was one night to see sorry faces, this was it. It sent a chill through him, motivating him to get an early start the next day.

"Society is going backwards here," said the Marine.

"These men have earned their time and they aren't about to apologize about anything." The marine nodded, enjoying such an informed opinion from such a young man. "Perhaps the only Achilles Heel these hardened blokes have is smart-assed youths entering their world with a 21st-century attitude. But to be fair, like fathers long separated from their sons, guys here want to hand down their wisdom to the next wave of independent thinkers so that the muster of their overcoming won't be lost to the silent ears of time." Something in D'Aqs told him that his cousin was moving towards risk of injury if he kept talking in such a direct manner.

"I had always wondered: Where do they all go? Where do all the good men go who had stepped up to bat during the sixties and seventies in Vietnam, faced divorce in the eighties and then retired in the nineties? Where did they settle, these worn men of action? They live here in Angeles City, close to the old base that I'm sure still conjures up memories of a lost time."

"You're not wrong son."

"America is too sugarcoated for them and Europe is too culturally snobby, but here their monthly stipend goes far. The Philippines offers the ideal solution. It affords them relative wealth, fun, good climate and English. For historically mature Americans, it's still a colony that they fought for twice in history: once from the Spanish, and once from the Imperial Army of Japan."

"Bloody Japs." D'Aqs sensed trouble.

"There have been more than enough American deaths to justify the adopted posture of many who are here who believe that this country is still part of the American sphere of influence, or in other words, their own."

"I'll tell you kid, I do. This is still our colony."

"Americans still permeate the ruling class of this nightclub utopia of sin. Here you can live with the buying power of kings. Now with grown children and long-lost wives, you guys can live out your bachelor lives of the early years. Angeles City is your turf, your home base; you have earned your elitism from your life's work. So there shouldn't be anyone depriving you of your personal space of jollification." This boosted the vim of the Marine, leading him to rant.

"Why can't those fat cats in government get some money together and fix the potholes and sludge on the streets? How difficult is it to fix a pothole?"

"Yes, basic maintenance of society is beginning to wane. A devolution backwards, it's becoming a place where Marines are ridiculed as being part of the problem," Hellmantle shot back.

"But if you have such issues like this, then why do you choose to live here?" asked D'Aqs.

"I live off my pension from the army, like your brother here said, just the same as many of these guys here. And the Philippines is one of the only places where I can live comfortably off that money. Otherwise I would be back in the States poor as a turd." It wasn't in D'Aqs nature to castigate those worthy of castigation.

"Why not in Thailand?"

"Because they don't speak English. And in Angeles there are a lot of us vets who can relive memories from Nam as your brother said, and we can drink Tsing Tao, still made at the brewery Germans built in their old colony in China, in the north I think. It's the best local number, second to only the premium-imported beers of Europe." The Marine raised his pint glass. "Here's to Christmas. It's Jesus' birthday after all." Hellmantle didn't raise his glass.

"Jesus was actually born on Sunday, March 1st in 7BC," he said, all serious, and full of booze.


"The things you read Hellmantle!" said D'Aqs, trying to deflect. "Careful not to believe everything you read." D'Aqs' right eye twitched from fatigue.

"When the eldest son from the Royal House of David is born," he said, slowly and clearly as if teaching a group of imbeciles, "he must be born in September. This is because the royal couple has marital relations for only one month every year: in December. Any offspring born outside of September would be regarded as illegitimate. Since Jesus was born on March 1st, He was never accepted by the ruling council of elders - the Pharisees - as the heir to Joseph. But since His younger brother James was born in September six years later, it was James who was accepted as the legitimate inheritor of the eldest son status. To inherit the title Joseph, that all eldest males inherit in the royal line, one must be born in September. And that's why James came to be known as Joseph of Arimathea, why their father was known as Joseph, and perhaps why Jesus came to be known during his life as a bit of a militant revolutionary and rebel."

"And where did you read this?" asked the Marine. "A comic book?" He stood abruptly, took his leave in a swoon of sin, waddling off with a Philippina forty years his junior.

"Why are you so adamant about all this stuff?"

"I have read the great books by authors who went forward with courage and wrote down the truth for the sake of truth-seekers like me. And as a Hellmantle, it is my duty to take the mantle and run with it. Now, my missionary cousin, does that make sense to you?" The thought of taking these books away from Hellmantle crossed his mind, but how?

"So then do you think you're rational?" The question remained untouched for some time before Hellmantle answered:

"You mean you think I'm a little short of salt in the brain-pan? That's funny, but I probably am. No matter. As long as I keep my business in front of me, my dear Sancho Panza, I shall be moving forward with my quest." Acting as both friend and minister of the spirit, D'Aqs took issue with him gently as would a doctor to a mental patient.



TABLE OF CONTENTS                                                                                  
          The Family of the Bible
1.       Concerning the famous Hellmantle's position, character and way of life
2.       Concerning the ingenious man's visit with his uncle Jack Grosseteste
3.       Which relates to how Hellmantle is given his first adventure
4.       About what happened to our adventurer when he goes to the Philippines
5.       In which the story of our crusader's journey begins in earnest
6.       About Hellmantle's time in the city of sin on Christmas Eve
7.       About the brave Hellmantle's success on his adventure to Baguio City worthy of happy memory
8.       In which the courageous Hellmantle of Normandy journeys north into the Cordillera Mountain Range
9.       About what happened to Hellmantle in the mission in the mountains and the crucifixion of Jesus
10.     Concerning Hellmantle of Normandy in the land of the headhunters
11.     About the required riding techniques to reach the destination of Sagada and the church organist
12.     In which the German artist is tracked to the Shamrock Café and dangers of the northeast of Luzon Island
13.     In which Catharine is tracked to the Shamrock Café and an eery coincidence of a reoccurring dream
14.     About Hellmantle reaching the rice terraces and finding a way to the northwest
15.     About what happened to our intrepid philosopher in the middle of the Sierra Madre Mountains
16.     In which a record is given about the brave Hellmantle through uncharted territory on his trusted dirt bike
17.     Which relates to Hellmantle of Normandy reaching the northern coast and the rubble of Aparri
18.     About the final day of the motorcycle journey and discussing the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel in Vigan
19.     About the sermon in Agoo Basilica and what they find at the church with the rouge bell tower
20.     Concerning the Dutch Padre and what he knows about the hidden map
21.     About the return to Manila and the coup that causes the Great Man from Normandy grief
22.     Which brings Hellmantle of Normandy back to Hong Kong to re-evaluate the next step in his quest for truth
23.     In which their journey is related to Jack Grosseteste and a new task is set before the Man from Normandy
24.     Concerning the journey to northern Vietnam to track down the map hidden at a French prison
25.     About how Hellmantle and D'Aqs compare notes on their task at hand in Hanoi
26.     In which an account is given of the beginning of the journey of Hellmantle in Vietnam
27.     About how Hellmantle and his brave squire ride north to the place where the four rivers meet
28.     Concerning the French prison and what Hellmantle finds there
29.     Concerning the discovery of the bottle and what lies inside of it
30.     Concerning the journey to Dien Bien Phu in honor of their grandfather the Great Dane Hellmantle
31.     About what the motorcyclists see on the fields in Dien Bien Phu
32.     Concerning the motorcycling required to reach Hanoi via the other side of the Da River Valley
33.     Which tells of the final stage back to Hanoi and the discussion after their most beautiful ride
34.     Concerning the visit with the knowledgeable Jack Grosseteste and the sally to India
35.     Concerning the arrival and journey to Kashmir Valley
36.     In which the journey begins in earnest through the checkpoints to the foot of the Moghul Fort
37.     In which Srinagar is reached and how the houseboat was as it was hundred years ago
38.     In which Hellmantle reach their houseboat on the lake below the fort and beside the mosque
39.     In which Hellmantle sets out for the Tomb of Thome and his brother Joshua beside him
40.     Which relates to the agreeable history of the journey north to the monastery on horseback
41.     In which Hellmantle returns to Srinagar and finds the first translations of the black stones
42.     Which concerns the deciphering of the discovery at the monastery and the need to go to the Ganges River
43.     About Hellmantle of Normandy's meeting with the holy man after taking a dip in the Ganges River
44.     About Hellmantle's meeting at Jack Grossetests's place with D'Aqs and Catharine the artist from Sagada
o       Chronology of Historical Events


Christmas Eve in the city of sin, 

Blues Traveler's "Run Around" 

Might be hard to put it at low volume.




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