Slipping the Karmic Knot
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.
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 dust.
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?"
that will be fine sir. What day is it?"
will return from Dawei on Tuesday afternoon and then fly out on Wednesday
morning for Bangkok. So I need one night on the 24th."
sir. Same room?"
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.
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
at all sir. Is your name on your bag?"
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.
one more thing. May I leave a message for a friend?"
course sir." The clerk handed him paper and a pen, and he wrote out a note.
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
sir. I will give it to him sir."
mate. See you later." Leaving his other bag with the clerk he left the foyer
pretending to settle in for dinner.
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 approached him.
do you want to leave through the back way?" Thomas gave her his best look of
distress and worry.
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.
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.
have paid for your room?"
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 red.
it okay m'am? Please?"
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.
With 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 taxi.
"Airport please," he said.
Sitting 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
Thomas 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 try.
"Hello. I am calling to inquire if any police
have come by the guesthouse in the last few hours?"
"That's 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.