Wordcarpenter Books
 Road Sailors


"How can the man be considered wise who, when he has the choice,

does not settle in benevolence?" - Confucius

Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve, Manitoulin Island, Ontario

That night I stay with Val in Wikwemikong and have an unusual dream. I was floating in the sky looking down on Manitoulin Island. Beside me was Remy and with the look of mischief in his eye he said to me: "See, watch this." He whipped his arm downwards and lightning bolts came out of the tips of his fingers followed by thunder. Remy was looking at me, proving he had the power to create thunder. Just as I was about to ask him how he was able to do this he said: "Because I am Rainbow Thunderbird." That's when I wake up. Outside I feel a jolt in my solar plexus when I see a thunderstorm.

I'm eager to explore the island so I leave Val's place after another few more cups of yarrow tea and cruise around the island, the fresh air invigorating and my head clear. When I pass a sign that reads: ‘Cup and Saucer Hiking Trail,' I turn into the parking area and take Inge for a long walk. My senses fill with the richness of unspoilt foliage, wild flowers and damp earth under my feet. An hour of walking passes in a moment and it begins to snow and I find myself facing a vertical wall of the escarpment. As I survey the climb in front of me I realize it's too steep to attempt with the snow, even for me. I'm content to meander back to my rig and look for another path but when I turn back Inge bolts from the trail. Sounds in the forest of hooves hitting fallen logs, leaving a maze of tracks in the snow.

"Inge, come!" I yell. I can hear the scurrying going farther and farther away. The snow begins to fall harder and the sky becomes darker. I yell for my dog but I can't hear her anymore and follow her tracks into the woods but there are too many of them, her tracks spreading out like spokes in a wheel. The bush is dense and my feet are cold and it's darker off the trail so I double back to the main trail and whistle for her. I wait and call for her but she doesn't return. Inge has fled. The taste of deer blood and the smell of deer lured her back to the wild. Dogs or men, it lurks so close to the surface in us all.

I drive to the house in Sandfield and then park by the lake. I walk out onto the wooden dock where the boats dock on Lake Manitou and stare at the clear water. There is a small dam at the mouth of Manitou River where the cedar trees are thick. I feel alone without my dog to look after but it is still and quiet in the falling snow.

My mobile phone rings.

"Trapp, this is Remy."


"Where are you?"

"Manitoulin Island."

"Manitoulin Island? Are you near Lake Manitou?"

"Yes, actually that's where I am right now."

"Is there a river there with the little footbridge in the park?"

"Um, yes."

"There's a forest along the lakefront and a fish hatchery across the street."


"And there's a little general store there across from an old schoolhouse."

"Sandfield, that's where I am right now."

"That's the place I stopped at when I was through Manitoulin before, the only place." Even for twins an eerie coincidence like this still makes my spine tingle.

"I think you're right Remy: Manitoulin is a magical place."

"Listen, I'm calling to say I didn't mean to take off that day in Toronto. I still think your dog is evil. In fact I had a dream about her last night that she attacked a deer. Her white fur was covered in blood. Pretty gory really. And then Inge became a wolf and lived in the forest and hunted deer." The strange tingling goes up my spine again and the back of my neck feels cold.

"Do you recall the Wendigokaan dream I had about you as a sacred clown who danced backwards and disturbed proceedings by acting in a contrary manner. Remember, the spirit that doesn't care about rules or norms?"


"Because in any given society conventions of behaviour and cultural norms are followed by most people but the Wendigokaan's role is to ignore these norms so blatantly and act in such a contrary manner that it shocks others to open the door to new insights for them to heal themselves. Your contradictory behaviour shows them a new way of seeing the world and in the process help them overcome emotional pains to see their own weaknesses and heal themselves. Your Wendigokaan spirit enables you to act as the impetus for them to change."

"By acting as a clown?"

"No, he is not a source of entertainment. The Wendigokaan has a purpose. It is to induce his audience and use laughter to open minds to a subliminal state so that one is more receptive to grasp a deeper reality."

"For the better I hope."

"So they can heal! Your Wendigokaan spirit has the power to teach people to look at things in a different way. You act as a mirror and using extreme behaviour to mirror others thereby causing them to look at their own fears and weaknesses. He drags others into his world so he can provide comic relief to take other's minds off their suffering but through your gift of satirical behaviour you actually enlighten them so that they can see a new way of living. See, the Wendigokaan's outbursts and unconventional behaviour - like lightning - captivates others' attention because they are regarded as the keys to enlightenment, much like Zen masters in Japan. Wendigokaans are a source of wisdom and healing."

"Thunder and lightning."

"So this is the other part of what I wanted to say about this vision I had about you. Have you ever dreamed of a Thunderbird or of a thunderstorm?"

"Um, actually yes. Just recently. Why?"

"Because it is said that having a vision of a Thunderbird - usually in the form of a thunderstorm - necessitates that he become a Wendigokaan for life. According to Ojibway beliefs, Wendigokaans are Thunder Beings. Like a Thunderbird, they have the power of contrariness, of laughter and tears, of thunder and lightning. Our powers come not from the earth but from the Great Spirit. Like thunder and lightning, a Wendigokaan jars those out of their funk that leads to transformation, like a shock that leads to a revelation and inspiration."

"It all sounds pretty far out."

"Have you ever had a dream about of birds or of dreams of violence, such as human butchering?" There is a silence on the phone.

"Umm, why would you ask that?"

"Because from what I've read about it you must dream your way into becoming a Wendigokaan. The violent butchering I think has to do with the Wendigo aspect, but if you have a dream of birds you are destined to become a medicine man. However, if you have a dream of a Thunderbird then it is your destiny to become a Wendigokaan sacred clown."

I begin laughing in a very strange manner, like something is grabbing me in a ticklish spot.

"Traditionally, your kind is seen as a cultural hero and a figure to be feared and avoided."

"How ‘bout that."

"You remind people that the primordial energy of nature is beyond good and evil and of the arbitrariness of social order and the social construction of reality."

"Anything else I should know?"

"They are few in number but important to each tribe throughout Turtle Island, especially the Ojibway. Wendigokaans are especially found among the Ojibway around the Great Lakes region, and are known to be fearless and known to endure pain." As Remy was revealing the mystery of who I am, I enjoy the beautiful view of the lake and the water sloshing near my feet. Home. I think, I feel like I'm home.

"It explains why I'm so weird and do things in such an extreme way."

"Your recklessness, yes. The Wendigokaan shuns safety and strives for risk. Your road sailing up to the Yukon that night from Dease Lake was a manifestation of the softness of safety and the hardness of danger."

"I hope you're not trying to justify my recklessness."

"But don't you see? Your risk-taking - of which I know well - only shows how you give the finger to conventions and rules because you see the world without constraints. Of anyone in the world, I know you the best. You've always been like that Trapp: free from handcuffs that suffocate and maim so many every year."

I let out a long satisfied sigh.

"Listen," he says, "all this stuff aside, I did want to apologize for that night in Key River. I was in the middle of organizing my medicines and I had had that dream and there was all sorts of things spread around my cabin-"

"No problem brother." A raven lands on a branch only a few feet away, perched and overseeing the dock.

"The measure of a man is his power of forgiveness," he says.

"I must be quite a man then."

"And the search? How's that going?"

"I've just found our homestead. I submitted a first offer but I don't think they'll accept."

"Can I check it out?"

"It's about three hours from where you are."

"We're road sailors, man!"

"Two o'clock tomorrow at the Anchor Inn - the only pub in Little Current. I'll be there."




"If a man remembers what is right at the sight of profit, is ready

to lay down his life  in the face of danger, and does not forget sentiments

he has repeated all his life even when he has been in straitened

circumstances for a long time, he may said to be a complete man." - Confucius

Little Current, Manitoulin Island, Ontario

Inside the Anchor Inn I sip on coffee and wait for Remy. Being early gives me a chance to think about our trip. I feel an urge to call Alexa in Vancouver. Something in me tells me that I owe it to her to call. I want to wish her good fortune with her Kenya gig but just then I see Remy's rig park in front of the Anchor Inn. I run out to meet him.

"Good timing," he says through his window. The Dodge engine is still running in a deep, V-6 hum.

"Let's go see the property." He follows me down Highway 6 to 542 where we stop in Sandfield and I pick up the key to house. Bill trusts me with it because he needs to run the store. Past the old schoolhouse and down the road, when we pass over the Manitou River bridge I can hear Remy give a short beep of the horn behind me, then we pull into the driveway of the homestead.

"Cedars, hmmm..." he says, "good medicine." I unlock the front door. Remy stops at the threshold of the doorway and surveys the room just as I had done. His eyes follow the walls to the open part between the kitchen and the living room.

"Open concept," he says.

"Look how big it is! Nice wood floors. Throw a table down here. Lots of space in this mall." Remy walks out of the house and around the perimeter until he's back in the living room near the kitchen with me.

"With some furniture in here and a paint job, it could be pretty cool. Lots of windows. The sunlight is good."

"Needs some work."

"It has great potential. You have a one-acre yard, privacy, two bedrooms, an open workroom, a back patio, a general store down the street-"

"And the lake."

"And the lake. We get a canoe. And we can go fishing. And get some trail bikes. We can ride to the pub."

"And forests."

"Lots of hiking."

"And it's built on a spring."

"So there will always be water."

"And a place for a garden."

"Plant some sage. I saw some yarrow growing wild. That's a great tea."


"When do you hear about the first offer?" I take out my mobile phone and call Bill. He tells me it's been rejected and there's no counter offer.

"No dice," I say to Remy after hanging up. "Wasn't accepted."

"So why don't you make a second offer?"

"I think I might. You like it?"

"Yeah, I mean look at it. Cheap and beautiful. Fresh air. Good geomancy. Private."

"So let's make a second offer then. Let's go up to talk to the broker and make it so." We find Bill behind the meat window chopping meat.

"Real Estate broker, general store manager and butcher?" I say to him with a smile.

"And a few other things." He looks at Remy.

"Your brother?"


"Are you twins?"

"Yes," we say at the same time, both adjusting our cowboy hats with the same hand.

"My God! Amazing!" Remy has trimmed his beard and mine has grown to full length so now we look truly identical. We are at that point in the twin-intertwining-double-helix matrix where the strands are identical after a complete seven-year cycle. We interlock at the intersection, and I wonder if we'll have to wait for another seven years until we're as identical as we are at this moment.

"I'd like to make a second offer."

"Okay, but I think your first offer was a lit too low."

"It needs some work on it, but I agree it was low."

"I know I'll need to do some financial stick handling to get the deal together but I'll see. Let's make a second offer and request all the chattels including the big new fridge."

After Bill writes up the second offer we leave for the Anchor Inn. Chas and his friend are there eating wings and watching hockey. They nod at me and then look at Remy as we come in.

"Chas, this is my brother Remy."

"Don't tell me: Identical twins?"

"Wow, beards and all," says his friend.

"Who's older?"

"I am by five minutes," he says.

"Actually," I say. "We were born at the same moment but Remy here was delivered first. We were both created at the same instant." Remy looks at me and nods.

"Never heard that before but I can see it." It's another thing I learned from my doctor friend in Hong Kong.

"We're mirror twins," I say. "We split into two some time between the ninth and the twelfth day."

"So that means you were the same person for like a week. That's weird."

"Don't forget that everything is a mirror and backwards," says his friend.

"Identical opposites," says Remy.

"That's quite a trip you two took," says Chas.

He takes the floor not as a holy man but as my old mischievous brother recounting exploits with his oldest partner in crime. I see the trip before my eyes as he explains it using the same words as I would, the images I will have in my mind for the rest of my life. I listen to Remy recount our road trip with longing as if a pearl of time is just now ending, the dust still on our clothes, the scratches still unhealed. I see now as he tells our story that it's through laughter that we express what a thousand words cannot, reminding you that you are not alone in the world. It confirms your existence because it is a moment of happiness momentarily free of all constraints.

Remy is still recounting the trip when I hear my phone ring so I remove it out of my breast pocket. Vibrations foreboding and heavy.

"Yes Bill. Have they responded? I see..." I glance at Remy and he glances at me. He can see it in my eyes. No words need to be spoken.



"We now-"

"Yes, are landowners." Remy lets out a long sigh and I think to myself: As Cain our days as wanderers are over because we have gained self-knowledge from the mirror in us both. Unless you know someone's basic quality you cannot say you know the man, and to see this quality one must see that in himself. My brother, my twin.

Table of Contents
2. Alexa
3. Remy
15. Atlin Man
23. Buffalo
25. Blow Out
27. Inge
29. The Man
33. Coincidence
34. Landowner

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