Wordcarpenter Books

Chapter Twenty-two 


The Castle at God's Toes


The following evening, truck-surfing from Katha back to the railway station while chewing the Burmese nut helped Thomas ward off the bite of night's chill and the piercing breath of the wind. Surrounded by his new friends who wouldn't stop laughing and joking around with him despite the language barrier, he reflected on his day in Katha.

Thomas would not have believe that a real-life utopia existed until he meandered the streets and markets of Orwell's remote Katha. He visited more churches, and at one was invited by a teacher into a school to meet the friendly children. By the end of the day streams of kids giggled and said hello, or a hey man, to the conspicuous tall foreigner who was in good form and replied with a nod or good-natured salute. There was a happy silliness that he plugged into, which seemed to grow as the day matured and as people became more stoned on betel juice. It occurred to Thomas that Orwell's concept of soma in his book 1984 might have come from the wide use and happy reek of betel nut. He smiled and laughed his way through town where everyone seemed to be aware of his presence, all of whom wished they spoke English and who were all eager to give him one of their betels from their perennial baggies. Its simplicity lay at the root of its charm, and the people's cohesion created a tangible societal happiness. As a visitor his only wish was not to cause any incongruities that would wreck the collective tranquility they had so deftly created on their own. By sundown, Thomas had become some sort of local celebrity for a day.

When he arrived at the train station he learned that the train north left first thing in the morning. The stationmaster, seeing he had no accommodation for the night, called one of his boys into the office who took Thomas across the tracks behind massive piles of teak logs where there was a basic wooden hut. Knocking on the door, it was a minute before a woman answered. In a rapid exchange of words, she's not happy to be disturbed so close to midnight, but it ended with the woman handing the stationmaster's boy a key and giving Thomas a disapproving glare. The boy led him opened a door to a small room where he can stay until the boy returned early in time for the train. Using his lighter to see, he managed to climb underneath the heavy mosquito net without taking off his boots. For a moment Thomas waited for spiders or cockroaches to scurry for a corner, and then he slipped under a thick red blanket that had the heaviness of led. Being just a shack he could see the moonlight between the vertical slabs of wood of the walls, but in no time he drifted off to sleep to the land of Somnus in the loving quiet of the night.

He dreamed that there was a huge castle on a mountaintop that rose into the sky. Under a blue sky he walked up the stairs of weathered beige rock to a turret that touched God's toes. At first scared at the dizzying height of the turret, he soon trusted the solid architecture built on rock. He opened a door and stepped into a new world at the top of the castle. There was an old stone school where students played, two of them brothers with sunken eyes in dark sockets with long straight noses, sharp cheekbones and messy hair pushed back off their foreheads. It occurred to him that their odd look was the result of long and intense study; they had the mark of a scholar. He passed the school and then found himself at a large wedding with guests wearing tuxedoes and white gloves. Having arrived late he found himself at the bar where he saw his long-lost twin brother wearing a tux with an open collar and speaking to a woman. For some reason he was ambivalent to speak to his long-lost twin so he went towards the door where he saw most of his friends were leaving for another party. He looked up at his long-lost twin who was looking at him and realized that his long-lost twin had known all along that he would be late. He smiled at his long-lost twin and realized he had missed him for too long. So he went back to the bar and they had their own party, enjoying each other's company in mutual sincerity and understanding. There, at the top of the castle at God's toes, he found contentment laughing with his identical twin brother.

The next thing Thomas knew, he opened his eyes to the sound of roosters underneath the floor of his bed. He hadn't moved an inch all night under the heavy blanket.


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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