When A Lamp Is Lit You Must Expect Insects
Robertson and Hanna Crow both stepped back realizing the gravity of the moment.
When Hanna put her hands on his arm he knew that this was the beginning of a
new life and a new epoch. Now he needed to execute and be himself.
is not a toy," he said, relishing the numerous meanings of his words.
this is not a toy," she said, grasping his arm more and pressing against
him. Hanna felt she was fulfilling her role in the prophecy and honoring the
father she never knew.
is the real McCoy."
"It is the real McCoy," she said.
Thomas was drawn to the cavity in the wall when he saw a
piece of rolled paper wedged under the stone in the space between the two
blocks of wood.
"I bet this is a message from your Dad."
When he removed the paper he was wondering how he would
be able to transport such a big stone out of Burma.
"Why don't I-"
"Good idea," he said, handing her his lighter. He
unrolled the paper with care and read:
A LAMP IS LIT YOU MUST EXPECT INSECTS
He wiped the sweat from his
forehead, expecting the burn of the welt.
"What does it mean?" she asked, holding the flame above
"Not sure, but it could mean be careful of danger." Hanna
moved the fire closer to the secret chamber, light flickering off the gray
stone, and revealing a small candle obscured by debris under the stone. She
reached for it and then lit the candle, thinking her father was the last one to
touch the candle.
"The lamp is lit," she said.
They stared at the stone.
"See the markings?" He squnited and then removed his
"No." Assertively he pulled the closest pew to the wall
and stood on it, Hanna moving the candle to maximize his sight. "Yeah, now I
can." The Taponi Tablet was similar in shape to the marble tablets at the
monastery in Mandalay but smaller. He reached in and felt the cold stone that
made him afraid. Having the ancient relic in front of him, the immensity of what
he had to do to get it to his brother and Grandfather all the way back to
Turtle Island surged through him like a thunderbolt. It was easier without
knowing for sure if the stone existed and if it could be found.
"It proves the Hopi Prophecy is true," he said, voice
wavering fromthe significance of the discovery. Fear suffused into his limbs
making itself at home like an uninvited guest.
"Is that another message?" Hanna looked at writing etched
into the metal on the inside of the chamber door. She read it aloud:
BUT THE PATH OF THE JUST IS
AS THE SHINING LIGHT,
THAT SHINETH MORE AND MORE
UNTO PERFECT DAY.
flame of the candle gave life to the words from the Old Testament as well as
carvings of beetles and other insects at the base of the door.
did it. You have been just and have found the sacred stone." He looked deeply
into her eyes from the pew.
you I wouldn't have been able to find it Hanna. You are my shining light." She
of belief will always stand the test of time." He laughed.
sound like me," he said. Light flickered ominously off the surrounding walls.
wonder if someone else knows it's here?" They looked at each other for a
should be careful," they both say at the same time, thinking of the third
proverb. She studies the size of his knapsack.
think it will fit in your bag?"
I think so. But it's not the size that worries me, it's the weight. It's solid
stone. And it's too valuable to break or chip." Brow in a pensive posture.
me get a blanket to wrap it in." Hanna handed him the candle and disappeared
for a minute, giving him the chance to look at the Taponi Tablet closely. He
pulled the stone out part way, relieved it wasn't as heavy as lead. The image
of the Kokopelli was recognizable on the stone, but the engravings weren't a
language he knew. The markings looked more like hieroglyphs, or like the Ogam
markings in the cave in Manitoba. When he put his hand on the stone, a sharp
shiver shot down his spine.
returned with a thick red blanket and two red candles. The sun had set and the
church was darker.
the candles lit, she held one in each hand and Thomas took the third one deeper
into the wall cave so the entire cavity brightens, revealing not only the
tablet but feathers and an old compass. He reached in and carefully removed the
feathers, placing them on the blanket.
kind of feathers are they?"
eagle feathers." The compass was an old World War Two compass. "And this is a
good compass." He put it in his pocket and felt around the base of the stone,
finding another piece of paper.
piece," he said, taking it out of the chamber. "It's wax paper and there are
four separate sheets." When he opened the first piece, he saw that it was an
impression someone had taken of the front of the tablet.
looks like a copy of the stone made on wax paper."
guess because there were four sacred stones." She looked at the paper and
frowned at the image of Kokopelli.
chances are that my father had a copy of it for himself."
was thinking that too."
he did then it's likely others know that it exists - and that it's here in this
church." The thought didn't help alleviate the gnawing sense of paranoia in his
Finally, with both hands he gracefully lift the tablet
out from the hole in the wall, and then stopped.
I think I should offer tobacco first. It's something my brother would do. It
shows respect." He quickly took out his cigarettes, broke one open, put the
tobacco into his palm then raised the tobacco up to the opening and bowed his
Spirit that watches over us and bestower of this sacred tablet of stone, I
offer you this tobacco with respect and humility. Please protect us from harm,
and show us the way to bring the stone back to its rightful place on Turtle
Island. I am just a Messenger so please show mercy and compassion for my errors
and help me complete this holy mission to save those in need. Amen." He
placed the tobacco at the foot of the tablet and stood for a solemn moment. A
sound of deep vibration came from near the alter that rumbled briefly, as if a
crack had just formed in the foundation of the church. They smiled at each
it's time. Let's get to it," he said. As slowly as possible, he lifted it up,
brought it out of the wall cavity and clasped it firmly to his chest. Stepping
down from the pew with the help of Hanna holding his waist he placed it on the
red blanket spread open on the floor. They hovered over the stone relic in
reverence. The top right corner along the top was chipped but didn't look like
any writing had been lost, and there was some discoloration along the bottom,
perhaps from moisture of the wooden blocks that supported it.
"I wish we knew that language," she said.
"We will. I know a medicine man who does." He sighed.
"Okay, let's wrap it up." They both wrapped the tablet in the thick red blanket
and gently manoeuver it into his open knapsack lying on the floor. The blanket
iwa thick enough so there weren't any stress points in the bag. Tightening the
straps and secured safely, it was ready for transport. Suddenly one of the
stained-glass panes above them rattled, jolting them both upright.
think I should go. It's the wise thing to do."
think you should too," she said, with unabashed sadness in her voice. He took
her hand in his.
He looked at the plaster on the floor. "I don't know how to thank you."
know Thomas. But you must go." She embraced him. There they stood
interlocked with each other for a brief eternity.
you need me, I'm at the Three Star Hotel near the train station," he said as
hoisted his knapsack onto his back. He looked at the mess he had made. "Do
"Yes, I know how I'll fix it. Don't worry. I know what to
do." They walked through the rectory to the common room.
going to go to the airport now to try to fly out tonight."
be safe Tommy. And watch for insects. You must go. Goodbye."
He walked past Reverend Thu snoring in his chair into the
darkness under the palm trees that swayed in slow motion onto the street as the
westerlies hit his sweating face. There was no one around so he assumed a brisk
pace head for the main street where he was soon picked up by a passing tricycle
taxi. Making the taxi work for his fare, he made it back to his hotel, a new
confidence descending on his raw nerves bringing with it an almost palpable