Road Sailors (Part 2)

Chapter 9


“If one learns from others but does not think, one will be bewildered. If, on the other

hand, one thinks but does not learn from others, one will be in peril.” – Confucius

Somewhere west of Vanderhoof, British Columbia

Remy is still asleep when I get up, so I take my dog for walk down the road. When she disappears into the bush I notice mushrooms growing along the side of the road and remember what Remy said last night about the wild mushrooms. I kneel down to examine them closer and see mushroom patches in the forest sunned by the eastern sky. Having acquired my bodyguard against bears, I venture into the mossy forest where there are patches of all sorts of different coloured mushrooms. There are pinkish-red mushrooms, soggy beige mushrooms and mushrooms that are grey, blue, brown, yellow, black and pure white. It is a cornucopia. The pure white mushroom with pointy barbs around the top instinctively makes me regard them as deadly, as do the reddish-pink mushrooms. The soggy beige ones are just plain gooey. Having sampled magic mushrooms in my youth, I am determined to find some but am hampered by the fact that I don’t know exactly what they look like before they are dried out. So I examine each mushroom, trying to determine if they are magic or not. After an hour of research, I find a yellowish mushroom that looks identical to the psychedelic mushroom posters of the sixties. It has a long stem and a penis-like head. So with a very light step I set out to pick as many magic mushrooms as I can.

With a plastic bag in one hand, I find hundreds of them growing in mossy patches by fallen tree trunks.

So thick with moisture, it feels on the verge of rainfall. I scour the spongy floor, perfumed by fallen trees. Like a rainforest. When my bag is full I return to my camper where I empty it onto newspapers spread out in my dry sink. With Remy still sleeping, I return to the mossy bog with my plastic bag for more. I spend hours picking mushrooms. Finally, after returning with my fourth full bag, there is a protruding mound of mushrooms in my dry sink. Perhaps a bit extreme. I walk to the other side of the road to where Remy is sitting in his metal chair with a mug of coffee in his hand.

“’Morning,” I say.

“’Morning. Good walk?”

“Indeed. The doggie was full of beans.”

“Coffee? I have some hot water on.”

“Love some padre.” He hands me the mug with the single-mug coffee filter on top, scoops a full amount of coffee grounds into the filter followed by the hot water.

“Careful not to overflow now,” I say, hoping to usurp any Tom Foolery. Remy administers the water as I hold the mug. Water reaches the lip of the filter.

“Steady.” Reluctantly he stops pouring.

“I think I found some magic mushrooms.” He scrutinizes my face to see if I’m joking.

“You sure they’re magic mushrooms and not poisonous?”

“Not positive but pretty sure. They look just like the magic mushrooms on a Jefferson Airplane poster Tribby had on his wall at university.”

“What colour are they?” Instead of describing them I take out about five specimens I had in my pocket. I put them in there because there were the best. Remy begins to laugh.

“You’re mad! How many did you pick?”

“Well, there were a lot around and you slept so late.” I glance at my watch for emphasis.

“I was having a good dream. It couldn’t be interrupted.”

“So I picked three or four plastic bags full.” He laughs and then lets out a long sigh.

“And is this for personal consumption?” He shakes his head and doesn’t wait for a reply. “What’s wrong with you? I can’t believe you just picked four bags full of magic mushrooms for personal consumption.” I shrug my shoulders because I’m at a loss for words. One can never have too many magic mushrooms I’m thinking in the back of my mind. “What happened to you over in Hong Kong?”


“What if these mushrooms are duds? And you accidentally injure your person? Then what?”

“No, no. We have to test them first.”

“How are you going to do that?” Loki, the spirit of mischief in Norse mythology, comes upon me like the sun breaking through clouds.

“We can test them by-“

“No-.” He’s already read my mind.

“By giving a sample to my new bear protector.”


“It must earn its room and board.”


 “I’ll only give her a small tester…first. Then…” My voice trails off.


“We’ll see. Listen, I won’t take anything that’s going to injure my person so relax. Everything’s fine.” I sip my coffee and pick up the map that’s beside Remy. “Think we’ll hit Smithers today?” I say to change the subject. Again he sighs. Shakes his head.

“Naw, I don’t think so. We’re leaving too late. Remember, I live on Indian time. Besides, there’s no rush. We’ll get there in due course.” 

Out on the valley road the sun highlights the avalanche chutes that cut through the deep green pine forests steeped on both mountainsides. Some mountains that face the road show large stretches of red moss – almost a dry rust colour – that looks soft against the rugged grey rock and the broken trunks of pine. The mountains too have a story told by the visible scars exposed under the smiling sun.

Since our road buggies are not considered a trailer; we can legally park anywhere. Maybe that’s why Remy always spoke of the mountains and the countless hidden campgrounds and nameless nook-von-crannies as if they were his own property. They are all like his ports of call across Canada. His trip from Manitoba took him across the prairies and over the Rocky Mountains, from Banff through the ice fields of Jasper, and through McBride along the old Yellowhead Indian Trail, and he never once paid a fee. He called it “taxpayer’s privilege.” It’s a life lived rolling on wheels across vast expanses of country, with each turn revealing a different landscape and a new memory.

It’s one thing to hear someone talk about it, but it’s another thing entirely to live it yourself.

We drive through Fort Fraser and Burn’s Lake to Houston, where we have a late lunch and refuel. The closer we come to Smithers, the busier the traffic becomes. Eighteen wheelers hurry towards Prince Rupert carrying countless massacred trees and I find their driving obnoxious. Everyone is in a hurry. And there’s something about the steepness of the mountains around us that gives me claustrophobia. Hemmed in. Only east or west. Deepening more as we roll west. Despite this, it’s a breathtaking landscape and the joy of being here pushes my hunger for mushrooms away and lessens the temptation to sample.

Abruptly the sun kisses the mountaintop in the west signalling the end of the day, so we look for a nook-von-crannie leading away from the highway. Remy passes me and turns off a logging road where we stop for the night at an abandoned quarry. We park ten metres apart, far enough to be out of range from one another. In no time Remy is eating stew he heats from a can while I eat bread and peanut butter and water.

The dogs play in the wide-open quarry.

“Do you have a name for your doggie yet?” he asks.

“I think I’m going to name her Inge.”

“As in Inge Hammerstrom?” Only Remy would get the reference – a hockey player from the seventies.

“Yes, that’s the one.” For some reason it feels appropriate as a name for my dog.

“Inge. It’s good that it ends with a vowel,” he says. “That’s what you want in a dog’ name.”

I scoop out a large amount of peanut butter and stick three big mushrooms inside. Then I put the peanut butter-covered mushrooms into Inge’s bowl. She comes immediately for the food but doesn’t eat it. She leaves again to play with Blue. Both of us watch in silence.

“This may be more difficult than I thought,” I say. I put in two more peanut-covered mushrooms in her bowl, wash up and then join Remy for a smoke.

“So how was your road trip down to the Hopi Indian reserve?” I ask. “We’ve never really talked about it.” Here it is, the moose on the table now ready to be disembowelled. The elephant in the room. Finally brought up. When Tom Cardinal had told Remy about a vision he had had that the long-awaited Messiah would seek him out and learn from him, it planted the idea in Remy that he might be this Messiah. He told Remy that this Messiah had to be an identical twin, but this was before he knew that Remy was himself an identical twin. This stirred something within him so he read more about the Hopi prophecies. He discovered that the Messiah – or as the Hopi Indians called him: the Pahana – was not a full-blooded Indian but rather Métis who looked white on the outside but was red on the inside. The prophecies, Remy had told me, also referred to the Messiah as ‘The True White Brother.’ So being both an identical twin and Métis, Remy had come to believe that he “might be the guy.” He told me that the only way to know for sure was to go to Arizona to speak with the Hopi elders.

After all, he said, they were waiting for the arrival of the Pahana.

He wasn’t kidding around; his solemn seriousness scared me. I wondered if he had gone off the deep end while I had been working overseas. I feared that he had lost touch with who he was. For me it was new territory because Remy had always been very down to earth. Without me around to keep him grounded and to remind him of who he was, he had recreated himself through unchecked intellectual idiosyncrasies and had become carried away. I have been frightened for him for a long time now. For many moons I have felt that I should be beside my brother before he slipped over the edge into the abyss. I could sense this Messiah Complex had the potential of getting out of hand. I could tell he now thought that he was the Pahana and that he had a ministry to perform through the publication of Tom Cardinal’s teachings and his own ideas of humanity and religion. His belief that he could heal people was so thorough that it had swallowed his life. His absolute freedom of self was based on this single premise; all else fell away in deferment to it. It enabled him to let go of the things that hold men to the normal conventions of living. Remy believed that his mortality was not at risk until he had finished his book. So until then, he was the man who could only be killed by the golden bullet.

Despite it only being a possibility, Remy’s belief in his destiny as the Messiah eliminated any trace of doubt in his voice.

Being a sceptic at heart, I suggested to Remy that the only way for him to know for sure whether he was the Messiah was to go to the Hopi Reservation in Arizona. At the time I didn’t realize the possible ramifications of such a road trip to Arizona. In fact I thought it would help to dispel the silly notion of being a Messiah, and would help Remy return to a more normal life. So I sent him the money last year to drive down to Arizona to meet with the elders, but I never heard from him what happened.

“It was cold,” he replies. “That bearskin saved my life. Without it I could have perished.” My reflex is to brush this off as more hyperbole but I am realizing that Remy is now more about understatement than exaggeration.

“So what did the elders say?” I only know that he had received my money and had gone down to Arizona.

“I didn’t have enough money to even stay at the campground down there so I was only there for a night. It’s pretty strict getting on the reservation and whatnot but I went into their office and asked to speak to an elder after I said I was Métis and that Tom Cardinal was my teacher. So after 1500 miles getting down there, the woman at the office says I can speak with one of the tribal elders. The elder was a man of few words.”

He is quiet for a moment as he smokes a cigarette.


“So I asked him if I was the Métis Messiah that was expected during the Seventh Stage of mankind. I was even wearing red. He said that he was sure that I may be the Pahana but that he was not able to say if I was the long-awaited Anointed One. But I could tell from the twinkle in his eyes and the words he used that he was telling me that I was The Guy. I mean he couldn’t say it outright, so I took it to mean that it wasn’t a firm ‘no.’ There wasn’t much more to say. Since I couldn’t stay overnight on the reservation I was forced to make a decision so I left that night another 1500 miles back to Manitoba.”

“So the elder said that he was sure that you might be the Pahana?


“Did you tell him you were a twin and Métis Indian and all that stuff?”

“Yeah, but he didn’t seem that interested to be honest. My feeling was that there were many people who came looking to be anointed but that only the True White Brother would know in his heart if he was The One or not. So I left the Hopis with that in my head – that only The One will know the truth. It was what was in his eye that said that which couldn’t be said.

I had to think about this for a second.


“And I believe him that he wasn’t in a position to say for sure if I was The Guy or not. That’s the reality of the situation. So I think it’s up to me to write the book of Grandfather’s teachings in order to know for sure whether it’s me. It will be Grandfather’s teachings and my own – sort of a combo-plate.”

“A bit inconclusive, non?” I regret the words as soon as I say them.

“Well, the elder looked at me in the eye as if communicating not to me but to my spirit; so on the way back it occurred to me that there was nothing he said to deter me from being the Pahana. Even when I spoke to Grandfather when I returned, he also had the same reaction. It is what the Pahana does that will determine if He is The One. Like Jesus, He was taken for a loony until His ministry gained momentum. It was His works that caused those stuck in the inertia of doubt to see that He was the Messenger they had been waiting for.” We both sit in the dark thinking. There is a new and potent emotion swirling around my gut, a perturbation that I know intuitively leads down a road I am afraid to explore.

Remy is a master of this slippery logic that simply cannot be dislodged.

“Well I guess we both have books to write and things to do.”

“Yes, indeed we do.” It is late so we both retire to our campers for the night. I try to push it out of my mind but to no avail. Restless in the cold, I hardly sleep.

In the morning when I jump down from my camper into the quarry, Remy’s dog sprints over to me, frantically wagging her tail as if she’s in the middle of a run.

Goooood doggies,” I mumble at both dogs as Blue and Inge begin to play. Not wanting to wake up Remy, I take the dogs out for a walk down the deserted logging road. As I walk along the road and smoke a cigarette, I can’t help look for more mushrooms but I’m disappointed when I can’t find any. Eventually I turn around and begin walking back to my camper but soon notice that Blue is still running around with a manic look in her eyes and her tongue hanging out. When I return to the campers, Remy is stirring. It’s barely eight in the morning so it’s early for him.

“’Morning,” he says, as per our custom.

“’Morning,” I reply. As the water heats up on his propane stove, I notice all the dog tracks in the sand around the quarry.

“See all these tracks all over the place?” I say pointing at them. “Looks like something happened.” Remy drinks his coffee pensively as he looks at all the tracks.

“Your dog was out all night?” I ask him.

“She wouldn’t come in last night so I left her out. But look…” Remy points to the far sand wall where there are dog prints on almost all parts of the quarry’s edge. Dog tracks are all over the sand enclave. There are also paw tracks around our rigs in the sandpit where we’re parked.

“That is weird.” Just at that moment, we both turn around and look at the empty bowl where I had left the mushrooms the night before. It’s Remy who has a double take.

“Oh no. No. Did you-.“ He stops. He knows what happened but he isn’t able to verbalize it.

“Blue’s looking pretty chipper this morning,” I say. The words just float there in the air.

“Inge was in your camper all night?”

“She was. She was very quiet.” Remy ignores the words. We both look again at the empty bowl. There isn’t any trace of peanut butter left at all; it has been licked clean.

“How many mushrooms did you put in there?” he asks me, motioning towards the bowl. I want to say only three mushrooms but no matter how hard I try I can’t find it in me to lie to Remy, even a little bit.

“Well, I put in three mushrooms but she wouldn’t eat it,” I say. Remy keeps his eyes on mine.

“How many mushrooms were in the peanut butter Trapp?” The tone is firm. Remy watches his dog running in circles around Inge. A manic and cockeyed canine.

“And then I added another mushroom – or two.”

“Five!” Remy is silent for a moment, drinking his coffee and finding more tracks behind my camper. Despite the hair on his face, I can see his stiff upper lip. Blue is jumping with glee around my dog with its tongue protruding loosely out of its mouth.

“Lots of spunk in that dog of yours this morning,” I add for good measure. I skip my morning coffee and prepare for the day’s journey.

Chapter 10


“Men are close to one another by nature.

They diverge as a result of repeated practice.” – Confucius

Smithers, British Columbia

I try my best not to tailgate Remy but because he is driving so slowly, truckers are tailgating and beeping their horn at me. It doesn’t take me long to figure out that I need to leave a large gap between our two rigs so I can be passed first and then the truckers can pass Remy. I know Remy is nursing his freaked-out dog in the front seat as he drives, and that he’s still sore about the peanut butter-covered mushroom incident.

Dead trees look almost white in the valley around Smithers where single-lane bridges made of cedar wood still stand over white-water creeks that crash down the mountains. The waterfalls, like tear ducts of God, stir both day and night as if emoting at mankind’s never-ending folly. Bright yellow shrubs and young poplar trees are reminders that the tremendous edifice of nature is still regenerating in our epoch of environmental rape and decimation of the world’s forests. I had drifted far away from nature after living in the labyrinth of concrete in the urban jungles in Asia as a salary man.

I had earmarked this area around Smithers as a possible location for my writer’s cabin, so when I pass Remy’s Dodge I pull off the highway when we reach town. I stop in front of the second ‘For Sale’ sign I see because there is a car parked in the driveway and a workbench is in use. But it’s the property next door that looks worthy of investigation.

“I’m going to ask about the place back there,” I say to Remy parked behind me on a side road. “Probably a couple acres but it looks like it’s abandoned, which may be good for us.” He remains in the driver’s seat beside Blue, who appears to have calmed down. I walk up the driveway to the door.

“Hello,” I say. “I notice this property is for sale?”

“Yes, it is” the Chinese man replies.

“May I ask how much the property costs?”

“Well it’s not quite finished but that should be done in the next month.” He gestures to its interior and I have a polite look inside. I see bare wood floors without a scratch and perfectly finished walls except for an unfinished corner in the main room.

“I’m just wondering if it’s in my ball park. You see, I don’t have much to spend.” I already know it’s too nice for what I’m looking for. A writer’s cabin should be rustic.

“It’s listed at one-hundred, twenty-five thousand dollars.” The way he says “dollars” brings me back to my old life in Hong Kong, a life I want to get away from. I tell him it’s out of my price range but ask him about the place next door for sale. The Chinese man appears to at first be confused by the sudden reversal of direction, but recovers sufficiently to reply.

“Yes, it’s for sale but he’s not there. No one there.”

“That’s what I thought. Mind if I go have a look at it?” The Chinese man grabs his coat and leaves with me, leading along the road to the home with a broken front window.

“How much they want for it?” I ask.

“I think forty thousand dollars but I’m not sure. I think I remember around forty.” I walk to the back and see a small bridge that goes over a small pond, or swamp. The trail looks as if the property goes back an acre or more.

“How big are the plots?”

“Two-and-a-half acres.” It’s a nice property but there is something about mobile homes that I don’t like, no matter how hard I try to overcome it. Mobile homes simply aren’t sexy. Zero charm. I want to like the property but I can’t. I want it to be a perfect fit but it isn’t. Besides, it still feels too close to that which I’m trying to escape.

The Chinese man however, now appears to be quite interested in his neighbour’s property.

“Thank you for showing me the properties,” I say to him. “I appreciate it.”

“Going?” he asks.

“Yes, still searching.” We shake hands and Remy and I drive away to the highway. I hit the road faster than Remy, who is crowded by tailgating truckers who decompress their air brakes as they pass in a show of disrespect. The highway becomes busier the closer we get to Prince Rupert. From studying the map I determined this area was far enough away from Vancouver and close enough to the ocean, but being here gives me a vibe that isn’t what I’m looking for. I feel crowded in this valley, as if there are only two trails to take – one going west and one east. The mountains are too steep and imposing for my liking, and the noise from the highway traffic bounces off the rock, which sounds angry to my ears.

I need more open space.

Passing through Hazelton we reach the town of Kitwanga, where the turn off leads north to the Yukon. I pull over to refuel at the gas station on the corner. I also pick up a big bag of beef jerky and two large coffees and wait for Remy. It had been decades since I had eaten beef jerky. Standing by our rigs outside, mist rises from a waterfall across the road like a flower’s scent, covering our jackets with moisture. A soft mist that feeds the surrounding fauna. The air rich with fragrance. The roar of the water cannot be drowned out by the constant buzz of trucks and industrial vehicles. Remy removes his map from his pocket and spreads it out on the hood. We stand around the map and Remy points to exactly where we are.

“Kitwanga,” he says, enunciating clearly. I’m not sure why but for some reason we both laugh at the name. “Right here. We’re at the turn off.” Remy moves his finger due north on the map to where the highway cuts through the heart of the Stikine Mountains up to the Alaska Highway. It’s the route to Atlin.

“I think we’re still too close to the grid here,” I volunteer. Natives stand by the front door of the gas station looking at us curiously. “It’s a bit phybic.”[1]

“Yeah. The trucks are bothering me on this highway. Everyone’s in a rush. And it’s getting worse. But if we hang a Ralphie[2] here, then we can hit Atlin. I mean I love the Beachcombers and everything but I don’t think the deep-sea fishing piece is my onion bun[3], you know?”

“So why don’t we go north to Atlin?” I know that’s what he wants to hear and I know it has to come from me.

“Maybe that’s where we’re destined to go. We need to get north of the 60th parallel.” I stare at the large totem pole at the end of the Cassiar Highway beside the waterfall. It’s the first authentic totem pole I’ve seen in 30 years.

“We can check out that geomancy you were talking about so that we can find some peace, though to be honest I’m still a little hazy as to what ‘geomancy’ means.”

“I don’t usually read DH Lawrence but there’s something he wrote that’s stuck with me ever since I read it a few years back. It’s about geomancy. I wrote it down because I thought you may want more of an onion on it.” Remy takes out his wallet and removes a crumpled piece of paper. “This is what I think geomancy is,” he says. “‘The spirit of place is a great reality. Different places on the face of the earth have different effluences, different vibration, different chemical exhalation, different polarity, with different stars.’

“Ahhh, I see said the blind man as he picked up his hammer and didn’t see,” I say.

“And that’s what Atlin may have: a unique vibration that enhances our bun.”[4] My coffee is the perfect temperature to sip and somehow it tastes better with the perfumed spray coming from the waterfall.

“You think Atlin really could be the original location of Atlantis?”

“Could be. Different climate. Long history. Heavy geomancy. Access to the sea. Fresh water lakes. Mountains for protection and plenty of wild game. Jade resources. Chinese legends. You never know, it could be.” He pops in ‘Chinese legends’ for my benefit.

“Chinese legends, you say?” taking the bait.

“The Chinese believe Atlin was the centre of an old civilization rich in jade and gold.”

“Fair dinkum.”

“Sailors used to leave the shores of China for northern British Columbia to mine jade. That’s one of the reasons China is such a biggie in the jade trade.” I provide the requisite nod since I’m busy wondering how he knows this after it’s me who has spent so much time living over there.

“But how could anyone prove Atlin is the original Atlantis?”

“Don’t know if it’s possible.” We both work on our coffees, looking more at the totem pole now rather than the waterfall.

“It looks like a raven,” I say pointing to the bird figure carved into the wood at the top of the totem pole.

“I think it is too.” The tiny flecks of water in the air behind the totem pole give life to the sunlight sneaking out of the clouds. A small rainbow can be seen just above the raven like a seven-coloured halo. A bridge to heaven

“Is it cool if I call you by your spirit name?” The question throws Remy for a moment. He dips his head in thought as he rubs his beard.

“It should only be used in ceremonies.” Remy’s voice is soft, contemplative. He was given his Indian spirit name by Tom Cardinal a few years ago during a sweat lodge. His Indian name is a source of great pride, and for this reason he doesn’t use it often, like a favourite pair of boots never worn.

“Well, it seems like such a waste then, because it’s such a cool spirit name and yet gets cobwebs from lack of use,” I say. Twin-to-twin, this is cutting it close to the bone, almost overstepping the strict boundaries that exist between identical twins, which forever go unnamed. Arguments and conflict is a poison among twin brothers to be avoided at all costs.

“I see what you’re saying,” he says, acknowledging between the lines what I’m trying to do. “It could be said that this road trip is a type of ceremony – a right-of-passage of a returning brother after a seven-year campaign overseas. And seven years is a full life cycle, as you know. So yeah, you can use my spirit name if you want.”

“It has indeed been a full life cycle,” I reply. “So it’s OK if I call you by your spirit name during our road trip?”

“As long as you use it with respect.”

“OK Rainbow Thunderbird.” A few years ago when he wrote to me about his Indian spirit name he explained that the rainbow symbolizes a bridge from earth to the spirit world, and a thunderbird is the Native American equivalent to the eagle, which symbolizes the Creator. Therefore Remy’s spirit name means ‘Bridge to the Creator,” a pretty heavy duty name and perhaps another reason for his belief that he is the new Messiah.

We listen to the slow drawl of loons, the arresting squawks of crows and then to the haunting sounds of owls around us. I know that Remy thinks that owls symbolize death, so knowing he’s thinking what I’m thinking, we both climb in our rigs without a word and begin our long trek north up the Cassiar Mountain Highway, away from the non-stop stream of eighteen-wheelers and the walls of rock. Remy leads the way to the Yukon, passing through a few Native villages and some large fields where hay has just been harvested. Half an hour into the drive there isn’t any more traffic at all, and after a few hours there is nothing around, not even a farm. Only endless evergreen forests encircle us with the occasional river flowing southwest or a waterfall falling on the east side of the highway.

I welcome the quietude, which gives me time to think about what it’s like being an identical twin.

I think about Remy and the way he is now, and how we have both evolved at different speeds during our lives. Remembering my doctor friend in Hong Kong who was so keen on twins, I recall a theory he told me about twins called the Twin Paradox. It’s a scientific theory used to refute Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, but to me it’s quite simple in its basic form. It suggests that if one identical twin remained on earth while the other twin traveled away into space, the twin on earth would be older in years when the traveling twin returned. The life lived “on earth” is lived at a different speed than the life lived off of earth. It helped me explain the differences between Remy and me as mirror twins. When I was at university, Remy left Canada and traveled the world for seven years. It was clear to me that he developed at a different rate. Then when I left for my seven years of travel, he remained in Canada. So now with my return, the theory suggests that we have once again become the same age. Despite our growth being different at times in our development, there is still a peculiar symmetry. Like a double helix thread of genetic markers, we seem to come together at a point of intersection every seven years where we meet and are identical again. It’s strange that seven years is a life cycle (one’s DNA regenerates completely every seven years), and that it is every seven years that is our time of intersection.

The Twin Paradox may go some way to explain how we have developed at different speeds. It seems to be compatible with what I call ‘the twin dynamic,’ the best measure of how we relate. Like Hegel’s dialectic, we work together in terms of a thesis, antithesis and synthesis. We feed off each other bouncing ideas back and forth like a tennis match until a point is won and the thesis and antithesis become a synthesis. The result is that we both learn regardless of who wins the point. In this way, Remy is a conduit of truth for me, and I for him. Fourth-generation computer models for artificial intelligence use the same dynamic: twin computers working and feeding off each other to become smarter. One of us takes the South Pole while the other assumes the North Pole position in any given situation in order to achieve this synthesis – this new insight. The serious competition of our early high school days has passed, so the object is now symbiosis. It’s easier to work together when each of us takes a south or north position in any given situation because it’s less destructive. It’s evolution of being in its purest form.

By being apart, we have missed this vital aspect and I wonder if it has retarded our collective growth. I wonder if Remy would ever have reached this belief that he is the Pahana. I wonder if he’s drifted too far and cannot be brought back from the precipice.

My walkie-talkie rings as we are climbing a steep grade somewhere past Cranberry Junction.

“This is Rainbow Thunderbird. Come in, over.”

“This is… This is-“

“Chirping Chipmunk,” he says.

“No, not that one,” I reply.

Standing Raven,” says Remy into his walkie-talkie.

“Nice one. Better than Chippy mon frere. What does it mean please?”

He who sees like the Creator. Perhaps your unofficial spirit name?” I sense he has been thinking about a name for me so I accept it knowing that some thought has gone into it.

“Yes. This is Standing Raven, perhaps half a klick behind you. Over.”

“Roger that. Was thinking we may want to retire to the next nook-von-crannie we see, preferably beside the river. Over.”

“Will follow your lead to the next von crannie RT. Any wildlife up there? Over.”

“Roger. Have seen some moose on the eastern flank soaking up the late afternoon light. Could be a heavy bear factor in these parts. Over.”

“Roger that,” I say. “Will keep mein[5] bear protector close.” With all that thinking about twins, I haven’t noticed it has become dark.

Chapter 11


“One does not explain away what is already done,

one does not argue against what is already accomplished,

and one does not condemn what has already gone by.” – Confucius

150km along the Cassiar Mountain Highway, British Columbia

Remy parks beside a swift-flowing river on the west side of the road where the winds are blowing with vigour. I park just out of visual sight of Remy’s camper, as per twin etiquette, and join him. He is cooking some soup on his propane stove. Already I’m beginning to tire of cheese and bread and peanut butter, but not yet Dill pickles. The pickles are still the best thing about being back in Canada – something I’d looked for on countless supermarket shelves across the Orient but could never find.

For some reason I can’t eat enough of them.

I go down to the river with Inge and fill up my water bottle with clean mountain water, thankful I have a flashlight. Returning to the campers, I tighten the scarf around my neck and do up the top button of my motorcycle jacket but I still shiver in the complete blackness of the night. I can only see the heater of Remy’s smoke and a slight reflection from the propane flame running in the crosswinds.

“Thanks again for the flashlight. I need to pick one up. You’re a saviour.” Despite the new moon, I’m close enough to Remy to see him looking serious.

“I might be the Messiah.” Remy studies my reaction: every little ripple of thought that goes through me as if he can see in the dark. I respect his honesty so I bypass the opportunity for a sarcastic comment.

“You really think so?” Remy gives me some of his soup that he has kept warm. I thank him with my voice shaking from the cold.

“I’ve known it for years, ever since my piercing seven years ago.” I ask him about his piercing. He had explained it to me before but I still didn’t understand, which is a rarity between us. And because of this I regard his piercing as the product of his imagination.

“My auric bubble was burst by evil spirits and my life force seeped out,” he replies. “I’ve never been well after that and the prophecies say that I’ll never be as strong as I was before. It happened about six months after you left for China.” I still don’t get it. Instead of pressing him, I ask him about his work.

“So what is your message if you’re the Messiah?”

“The prophecies say that it will be a message that will unite all the religions of mankind. The message will be the quicksilver that binds all peoples as spiritual kin of the Creator.” Remy’s voice is calm in the violent crosswinds. “I don’t fear death. I will graduate to the spirit world in due course but first I have a book to finish. Grandfather wants me to write down his lost-generation teachings so that they may live on through the generations. But in the meantime I’m writing my own teachings, so I will combine our wisdom into one book.” The savage winds of nature rattle in my ears.

“Why do you think you’re the guy?” I can see Remy put his hand to his chin to think.

“Because I’m Métis Indian and I have an identical twin brother. If I didn’t have a twin brother I wouldn’t believe it.”

“Why? I mean excuse my ignorance, but why is being a twin so important?”

“Because many Native tribes believe that twin brothers were the founders of civilization here in North America – or Turtle Island as the Natives call it. The twins became the God of Thunder and the God of Lightning. And the prophecies say the New Messiah – the Pahana – will be an identical twin and that when each twin – one from the west and one from the east – come together, the two sacred stones will be reunited and the message will be delivered. The twins will reunite during the Seventh Stage of Man, which we have just entered at the turn of the century. And the Blue Star Kachina will shine overhead and the way will be revealed – like the star of Bethlehem. The Pahana will deliver the message that will heal the fissures that exist in world religions and help overcome the squabbles that cripple humanity. And look at me. Look at what I’ve been doing without the knowledge of the prophecies. It’s just too much to be a coincidence.” The orange heater of his smoke moves frantically in the blackness. He is in deep. There has been no one here to prevent him from his extremism of belief. So completely entrenched now, I feel powerless to have any effect.


Later the next morning Remy leads the way north, driving faster than usual. Nothing but endless green and steep mountains surround us. A road into the heart of darkness into the unknown.

Near midday we reach Meziadin Junction where a good-looking blonde woman fills up my rig with gas except she chooses the wrong gas tank. She pours gas in my front gas tank – the one that had been removed by the mechanic. It is only after I hear the gas splashing onto the ground that makes me to come out of my truck.

“Rear tank, sorry,” I say taking the blame. Squinting at the gas gauge on the pump, I see there’s almost fifteen dollars’ worth of gas on the ground. When she’s done I park beside the restaurant and buy two cups of coffee. When Remy finishes gassing up, I’m standing outside on the porch under the roof, keeping an eye on a large Pit Bull staring at me ten yards in front of me. The heavy drizzle doesn’t seem to bother the canine. I hand Remy a coffee and then begin unwrapping the food I bought.

“Banana bread like Mom used to make,” I say. “Want some?” I don’t even wait because I know he does. The banana bread, just like the twin language, is another cue that brings me back to when we were kids. A flood of past images and long-dormant memories come to life that have been waiting to be re-awakened for decades. Images of laughter and scenes of remarkable sporting feats flash before my inner eyes in a kaleidoscope of imagery, all rich with feeling, all triggered by the banana bread.

Remy and I were always eating banana bread as children because it was one of the few recipes my mother knew.

“I haven’t had banana bread in probably 20 years,” he says. “It always reminds me of home.”

“Me too.” We both revel in our distant childhood when suddenly I am acutely aware that almost all my most cherished memories were experienced with Remy. He’s the one person on the planet who has any idea of who I am and where I came from. After so long trying to meet new friends and attempting to establish relationships with strangers in distant lands, all this time Remy has been here in Canada alone with all this rich history between us lying fallow. Unharvested. He was there when I rode my first bike and played my first hockey game and started my first day of school. He was there when my parents split up and when things became rough at home. He was there when I had my first cigarette and was at the party when I had my first game of spin-the-bottle in grade five. We share an entire lifetime together now dormant and unmentioned. Instead of feeling justified by my anger at the fight we had before I left Canada, I now feel a profound sadness at my folly. It’s a tragedy I haven’t been here for him. Because I blamed him for the fight, my feeling of righteousness has prevented me from apologizing.

Remy had apologized to me last year in one of his letters but I never have.

“You know,” I say. “I don’t know if I ever really said sorry about that fight we had before I left for Asia.” I think it strange that I bring this up here, in the middle of a rainforest at some place called Meziadin Junction with a population of five. “I know it was no one’s fault really. It just happened. And you know it was because of that fight that I left.” After the fight I didn’t speak to Remy for over three years. “I just wanted to say that I’m sorry it all happened.” I’ve been too sinless and selfish and proud to say these words, but now, finally, they are said.

“I appreciate that Trapp. We were both in a bad headspace back then. I think we both needed our space. But thanks for the apology. You know I apologized to you already but, for the record, I’m sorry too.” We both stand there on the porch looking at the soaking wet Pit Bull, savouring our coffee and banana bread, and letting the apology permeate. The words diffuse our respective engines of blame, which enables the bad blood to clear. It is a long while before we leave the safety of the porch. I know from the sincerity in his voice, and he knows from the sincerity in my voice, that enough words have now been said. Watching the light rain fall from the sky, it occurs to me that nothing can break the bond we have – not even a stupid fight. I can’t even remember what it was about – maybe something as silly as dirty dishes in the sink. Brothers fight, that’s just part of the equation of being brothers, but that doesn’t negate the connection between identical twins and between all brothers. I hope I haven’t somehow punished Remy through my prolonged absence due to my own anger. I feel myself assuming a new responsibility: the role of caring enough to try to quell his religious ideation. There is no one else to do it. I feel an overwhelming urge to sacrifice myself to save him, like a mother for a child in the face of danger.

Chapter 12


“A craftsman who wishes to practice his craft well

must first sharpen his tools.” – Confucius

40km north of Meziadin Junction, British Columbia

Back on the road, half an hour from where we ate our banana bread, the road changes from a single-lane paved surface to an unpaved dirt road full of ruts and potholes. A terrible mess. Remy slows down to almost half his usual slow speed and gingerly passes over the uneven road. Our one thousand pound campers sway side to side above us making speed a danger for the first time. We don’t see anything resembling civilization for a long while until we pass through Bob Quinn Lake, where there is a well maintained storage facility that also has an airplane landing strip beside it. It looks out of place – likely a Canadian Forces base since Alaska is directly across the mountains. It’s well hidden with mature timber stretching upwards to the sky with trunks 10-feet in diameter reaching over 200 feet high. Rivers slash through steep forested mountainsides winding through a thick carpet of ferns and spruce to lakebeds where moose and elk drink.

We stop for a break in a place called Tatoga where I go into the store to buy some more candles and beef jerky. It is here where I find a book all about mushrooms. Immediately I search for the yellow mushrooms I picked in Vanderhoof. To my surprise I find them. It says these mushrooms were once ingested by Russian explorers in these parts that caused them to go “berserk.” But these mushrooms also contain parasitic microorganisms and are considered mildly poisonous. I blink in disbelief.

Back outside, I tell Remy about the mushrooms but leave out the fact that they are mildly poisonous so he’s not upset about his dog. Telling him that they contain parasitic microorganisms is bad news enough. He refrains from saying “I told you so” because it isn’t constructive to our purpose, but I must say I’m tremendously bummed out that I have a sink full of the wrong mushroom.

Back in the rig I steer gently over bumps and pass a big sign in the afternoon light that reads:


A wave of energy hits me that makes me forget about the bumps on the road and the bad news about the mushrooms. All rivers now flow not to the Pacific but to the Arctic Ocean. I light a cigarette and squint through the smoke just as we reach a small town called Dease Lake. I drive slowly past a Royal Canadian Mounted Police station beside the local general store, which fortunately is still open. After filling up with gas and parking, I go into the store with a violent hunger and buy a lot of food. My hunger hits a crescendo and I can’t stop adding food to my basket. I keep my eye open for a propane stove for sale but do not see one, so I pay for all the food (including more Dill pickles) and then find Remy in the booze section of the store.

“Some Z?” he asks, using the short form of plan Z.[6] “I saw a pub across the street. I need to unwind after that road turbulence.”

“I hear ya. I feel like having some wine.” We go halves on the beer and wine. I buy red wine and Remy buys white wine. The Native woman behind the counter looks at us curiously.

“I hope you boys aren’t driving anywheres tonight?”

“Nah, it’s not my thing,” I say casually. She looks like she’s in her forties and attractive with her long dark hair and laugh lines around her eyes.

“We have our campers right outside. No more driving tonight,” Remy chimes in.

“I see. Just wanted to check ‘cause the police are around. You probably saw them.” She has a pretty smile when she points to the RCMP station across the street.

“Yeah, we saw ‘em.” 

“You two are twins?” Remy nods. “Identical?” It’s my turn to nod. “Which one is smarter?” Such an inane question that we have been asked all our lives. Our IQ is within one point of one another: one is 133 and the other is 134. I don’t know who has the higher IQ by one point.

“He is,” we both say at the same time. We look at each other in surprise and laugh. It’s the first time we have ever answered that way. Remy is as surprised as I am. Usually the answer is ‘I am.’

“Is the road this bad all the way to the Alaska Highway?” Remy asks.

“For another forty kilometres I would say.” Remy looks winded at the thought of another 40 kilometres on this choppy terrain.

Back in the parking lot, I dump most of my food in my camper and then walk over to Remy’s with a bag of goodies.

“I come bearing gifts,” I say outside his door after knocking. Always an important point of twin etiquette to knock before entering, since we both value our privacy to an almost irrational degree.

“Come in.” I close the door after me but it won’t shut completely. I leave the door ajar for fear of breaking something. It’s another point of etiquette: never break or tamper with your twin’s stuff. Respecting privacy and possessions are the pillars of our twin code of ethics. So Remy shuts the door, securing it in a unique manner with a bungee cord. We drink our wine in our coffee mugs and I eat Dill pickles and cottage cheese on crackers from my bag of food.

“I can’t begin to tell you how much I have missed Dill pickles,” I say. I know he’s looking at me devour the jar. “I couldn’t find Dills like these over there for seven years. Think about that man! I don’t know, I think there’s something wrong with me.” We laugh and Remy begins to roll a joint. Soon I focus on the big bag of popcorn I bought, shoving huge handfuls into my mouth without being self-conscious at all.

Popcorn lands on the floor that Blue is happy to eat.

“Do you have any other plan W on you?” he asks. “The weed is good but I’ve been smoking it all day.” It’s the look in my eyes that tells him I do. I pull out my wallet. “I thought you would! I’ve taught you well.”

“I have some leftover technology from Vancouver I forgot about.” After leaving Alexa the night before I left Vancouver, I met a drug dealer with a tattoo on his neck who approached me in Gastown. He was selling a drug I had tried when I lived in the Philippines. I knew Remy wouldn’t have tried it so on reflex, and wanting to surprise Remy with some plan W[7] he hadn’t tried, I snagged a small ten-dollar baggy of the new big drug sweeping Asia.

“I have some ice,” I say, but the mention of this drug fails to stir his enthusiasm.

“Ice? Is this something you learned in Hong Kong?”

“You could say that. Philippines actually. It’s an amphetamine. It’s the new drug on the street over there because it’s so cheap. Have you ever done it?”

“No. Chemicals. Made by man. Scares me. It’s not a medicine of mine.”

“Ah screw it. The driving was rough today. I feel like having some after those potholes. If you have some tin foil, I can rig something up.” Remy places his half-rolled joint on the counter and reaches into his cupboard for tin foil. I find it unbelievable that he has some in his cupboards.

“If we do it then we won’t sleep, I’ll tell you that much. And I don’t know if I want to not sleep tonight.” I say this yet go ahead and rip off a piece of tin foil to construct a long canoe-shaped ‘pipe.’ Remy drinks his wine and tries to study the map on the counter, but his curiosity of my engineering prowess distracts him from his beloved maps.

“You shouldn’t carry it around with you though. What’s the point? All you need is a brush with the law and the cops will find it and it’s jail time. Not worth it, man. I stick with my green medicine. It’s practically legal here now anyway. Since you’ve been away the cops have pretty much said that they won’t bust someone with anything under an ounce – unofficially.”

“Yeah, I heard that from a Canadian overseas. But listen, this is a very small amount, enough for two peoples. But I’m only going to do it if you do.” I hold the pipe horizontal, packed with a small pile of tiny crystals waiting to be burnt with fire.

“I don’t know, man. Chemicals…” But I can tell he’s coming around by the tone in his voice. I put it down on the counter and eat some more popcorn. The long, canoe-shaped aluminium pipe sits there beside his sage and cans of tuna.

“The high is just like nose candy but it lasts longer,” I say as the final enticement and corrupting influence. As a twin, one is keenly aware of a specific combination of words that will unravel even the strongest will in the other.

“OK man. I’ll do it with you.” I had found the right words.

“Nice one.” I take my lighter and place it under the crystals on the tin foil, demonstrating to Remy the proper technique required to master such a fragile concoction.

“See you must let it slide,” I say like a Kung Fu Master going through a new step with someone semi-accomplished in martial arts. The crystals begin to smoke until they turn into a clear liquid and slowly fall down the foil towards the other end. As they fall I suck the smoke from a rolled-up ten-dollar bill. I repeat it again as further demonstration and then hand it over to Remy.

“Hold it gently My Son,” I say as he takes it from me. “Keep it level so the tech doesn’t slide off the end.” He gets the handling of the foil right but doesn’t hold the lighter close enough.

“It’s not burning.”

“Hold the flame closer to the foil,” I tell him. He sparks it closer, sucking the smoke rolling down the tunnel of pipe as the liquid crystals slide and smoke to the end. He squints, looking at me as he holds his breath. As he does this I can see how his face suddenly becomes flushed. It’s very, very strange how the drug affects me. For the first time I see myself in my brother. It’s startling. I point at him.

“So that’s what I look like when I do that. Same technique with the hands.” People have always asked me how strange it must be to see yourself when you look at your identical twin, but this has never registered with me because every time I look at Remy I never think he looks like me. He looks like Remy – nothing more. But now, after the puff, I see exactly how much he looks like me. It’s a very, very odd experience.

“Yes, we have a similar gait with the hands,” he says as he smokes another one and then hands it back to me. I can see the instant effect of the drug in his dilated pupils. He then begins to laugh at my technique with the foil. “So that’s what my moustache looks like,” he says as I take the foil again, still laughing. My moustache is like a frozen waterfall now since I haven’t trimmed it since arriving from Hong Kong.

“I thought my Duddy[8] was patchy around the sides here.” I run my fingers along the bald patches on my own jaw-line.

“We both have that same bald spot.” We laugh again, looking at each other in a new light. “Am I that grey?” he asks looking at my hair in the fading light.

“Am I that grey?” I ask him back, looking at his hair. We laugh between sips of wine and smoking from the makeshift pipe. It doesn’t bother us that we’re right across the street from the Mounties. Like most twins, we can keep laughing until the muscles in our stomachs are sore, and this is one of those times. In fact I develop a pain around my ribs from laughing. I laugh at his laughter and he laughs at my laughter until we both hold out our hands to stop the raucous.

I know my stomach muscles are going to be sore tomorrow.

We finish off the joint and most of the ice and then drive our separate rigs across the street past the police station where Remy parks beside the front door of a bar called the Tandzilla Tavern. I park two spaces away from him. Inside we walk directly to the poolroom where Remy inserts coins into the table. There is a group of four men nursing beers at a table in the non-smoking section of the bar that’s quiet and dark.

“Stick?” Remy holds a cue in his right hand.

“Stick. I’m in.” Remy pushes the money in and the balls fall out.

“Smoking room?” I take out my cigarettes.

Oui mon frere…Ah here.” The waitress walks in with a big smile. She is short with yellow hair and a friendly face.

“Two Canadians – bottles please,” I say. She nods and leaves. I light my smoke and Remy breaks. Two stripes fall and I can only sharpen my cue with chalk as Remy sinks another stripe. A group of four women enter the poolroom and sit beside us at the table. They smoke as we immerse ourselves in the pool game, laughing at the twinspeak we use to communicate so the women won’t understand.

“Some aguey[9] over on the Louis,” he says.

“Mild turb[10] but no biggy. How’s the tech[11]?”

“Very goosey.[12] Plan T?”[13]

“Could be. One never knows. Soccer?”[14] He walks past me and surreptitiously glances at my nose.

“No soccer. Soccer?”

“Nope.” I sink a solid. “Looks like the Plan Ts are sporting some technique.”

“Possible plan X?”[15]

“I could be in.” And on it went, game after game.

Soon a few others show up and we are challenged for the table. First a stout man with a moustache plays Remy and loses and then a woman plays him and she loses too. I lose track after a while because I begin speaking to one of the guys who happens to be a bush pilot. He says he’s working up here for the government. I remember what Remy said about the magnetic force so I ask him about it.

“What’s this I hear about magnetic force of the North Pole affecting electronics in planes?” I ask him.

“Very much so,” he replies. “The magnetic force is strong here so far north. We can’t use our navigation instruments because the magnetic force renders them useless, so we use radio beacons to navigate. You can see them built up on top of high sections in the mountains to receive and send signals. They’re used as points on the land to follow so we know where we’re going. After we find one we look for the next one and so on.”

“Your instruments really don’t work?”

“No, not this far north. That’s why the pay is so good.” He swigs from his bottle enthused that there’s someone who is taking an interest in what he does for a living.

“Are there a lot of these beacons?”

“Every forty or fifty miles I’d say all along the Alaska Highway. As a general rule, pilots follow these beacons anywhere north of the 60th parallel. We’re at the 59th parallel here around Dease Lake. The force is weaker here but it still wreaks havoc and makes our instruments unreliable.”

When there’s a break in the conversation with the pilot, I look for Remy and find him talking to the four women sitting at the table smoking. Remy is telling them about his healing powers. They look intrigued. At least two of them are Natives. I begin to speak to one of them – the same woman who served us the beer today at the store – but Remy looks over at me and says: “Inge Hammerstrom.”[16] I raise my eyebrows in understanding and notice that the woman is indeed interested in Remy. But after sitting at the table for some time I notice that Remy’s technique with women is a bit rusty. I turn my attention to one of her friends, who takes an immediate liking to me. We smoke some cigarettes and she tells me about Dease Lake. From the looks of it, Dease Lake doesn’t get a lot of through traffic so with us being here, there is some cause for celebration. I suggest to the woman that we should go outside and smoke a joint and she agrees. I tell her that we could roll it up in my camper in the parking lot. She smiles and squeezes my hand with a mischievous grin. I look for Remy and he’s back at the pool table.

“I’m heading back to my rig with the plan T and we’re going to roll up some plan W and perhaps some plan F.”[17] My face is deadpan. 

“Nice one.” He shakes his head in amazement. “That didn’t take you long.”

“So I’ll see you later pilgrim.”

A little while later, after rolling around in my loft and each of us bumping our heads on the low ceiling, the woman says she needs to get home because her children will need her in the morning before school, so I drive her two blocks back to her house and then return to the parking lot. Unable to sleep, I finish off the amphetamine by candlelight myself. I rationalize that I don’t want to carry it around in my wallet anymore because it’s dangerous if I am pulled over and still have it on me. I want to adhere to Remy’s philosophy of drugs: it should be natural and not man-made, and I need to dream about it so it becomes a medicine for me. My eyes are wide open and sleep is the furthest thing from my mind so I decide to drive to the Yukon.

I walk to Remy’s camper and knock lightly on the door.

“Remy, it’s Trapp. I’m going north tonight.”

“Is that you brother?”


“Come in.” I enter and he is under his bear skin and Blue is beside him on the floor.

“I can’t sleep.”

“Neither can I.”

“I’m going to gazelle[18] to the Yukon tonight. I’ll meet you in Watson Lake at the most obvious camping spot or at the first gas station. Use the talkie piece.”

“You’re a maniac. I’m going to stay here.”

“You sure?”


“There’s no way I’ll be able to sleep so I’m going to keep going.” There is silence between us. “I’ll be parked in an obvious place.”

“Careful padre. It’s black outside and there are animals on the road.”

“I will.”

“Make sure I’m able to find you.”

“You’ll find me.” I jump out of his camper, somehow negotiate the bungee cord and get to my pick-up truck. I drive slowly past the RCMP station and gun it north for Junction 37 with Inge in the front seat beside me for conversation.

Crossing the bridge just out of town, I hit the unpaved road but instead of going gingerly over the potholes I accelerate fast enough to skim overtop. At eighty I can surf above the ruts as long as I don’t hit a big pothole dead on. I drive like I’ve never driven before, like a crazed race-car driver poised high off the road. I speed through the darkness without any concern for wildlife on the road with the only light being my high beams. Long stretches of gravel road have grades as steep as seven degrees, but I only hear the scream of music over the sound of the shock absorbers absorbing the bumps. I know I’m wired but feel in complete control skimming above the imperfections in the road, some corners so sharp that several times I almost pull a Jimmy Dean. The Ford rambles north as the sun begins to rise with me singing the same Bruce Springsteen songs over and over from the cassette the mechanic left in the rig. Reaching the Yukon is not only reaching one of two Canadian territories, it’s the end of the Rocky Mountains and that claustrophobic, pine-tree-walled-in feeling. In the emerging light I can see the drastic change of landscape: the land loses its mountainous flavour and becomes a collage of bright colours of fresh yellows and carpet-like moss as if the forests had suddenly become polite. Lakes that reflect the morning sky have mossy shores two inches above the water. Even the shoreline is neat without a branch out of place. When I reach Junction 37 after three hours of mad driving without seeing one vehicle on the road, I pull into the gas station on the corner of the Alaska Highway where I take Inge for a walk before fatigue finally gets to me, directing me to my loft. I soon fall off into oblivion with a thousand new images still racing through my mind.

The morning drive – Road-sailing to the Yukon.

Chapter 13


“Artful words will ruin one’s virtue; the lack of self-restraint

in small matters will bring ruin to great plans.” – Confucius

Junction 37, the Yukon

Junction 37 is where the Cassiar Mountain Highway meets the Mississippi of northern roadways: the mighty Alaskan Highway. It consists of a gas station and an old saloon that is already closed for the season. There is also a campground that is also closed. It’s so quiet and my hangover is so intense that I can hear the grunts and calls of wildlife echo from the world of spruce and yellow poplars. Life stirs amid the hum of Nature. My nerves are raw and my head is in a vice but I enjoy the cool air and the quiet of the Yukon. I wonder if it’s the first bout of silence and calm I’ve had since my departure from Canada in 1997. I can’t remember the last time I experienced such stillness unsullied by the noise of man’s motorized toys. I can hear the swoosh of wings of the birds flying south above me and the woodpeckers hammering away to build their homes. Up here the birds fly in seamless arrows all in a symmetrical line down to the last bird.

And as I watch the birds pass overhead, the blue sky looks close enough to touch.

I’m tired from walking Inge around the campground and exhausted from my restless late-morning sleep. I can’t stop reflecting on my night’s drive from Dease Lake and I keep asking myself the sober questions I should’ve asked myself before I left: what would have happened if my rig broke down from overheating or from a flat tire? It’s only this morning upon pained rumination that I realize I don’t have a jack. Despite having a spare tire, I don’t have the right tools to fix it. And now, as I sit here with Inge in my fragile state, I’m crippled with worry of how I’m supposed to track down Remy if he doesn’t show up. My walkie-talkie is out of juice and I don’t have the re-charger. Recklessness is nothing new to me but when my recklessness puts me in mortal danger, it becomes just plain stupid.

I still have yet to adjust to the pace of life and the unwritten rules of living in rural Canada.

The quiet of the day makes the time pass slowly. Inge looks at me as if she were asking where Blue is. My hands shake and my stomach is a delicate bundle of nerves so I reluctantly sip on one of the beers that are leftover from last night’s party to try to calm myself. I read through a book I bought at the gas station about the Tlingit native tribe that still inhabit the area around Atlin. It should be good reading but I can’t concentrate. I keep looking up for Remy but am continually disappointed by the big trailers with American licence plates that drive by. It takes me a while to realize that it’s not so much me that I’m worried about but Remy. When I was away, I purposely lived my life as carefree as I could muster, but now, reconnecting with my brother, I feel a long-overlooked responsibility returning. That carefree life of reckless irresponsibility not only affects me but now Remy as well. Being such a scallywag for so long, it’s strange to think of anyone else other than myself.

Just as these thoughts are crossing my mind, I see the brown Dodge emerge from the distance driving along at a very moderate speed. There is mud covering most of the front grill and I can see Blue first before I can make out Remy’s face behind the sunglasses.

He pulls up and parks right beside my road buggy.

“God, I found you!” His voice is weak with the same killer hangover.

“I was worried sick Remy. Let’s not split up again.” My voice is weak like his.

“OK, deal. No more splitting up.” We are both feeling tired but are soon feeling better eating pretzels and drinking Coors Light at a picnic table in the campground. There is so little traffic up here that the forests are deafening with silence.

“How was your ride?” he asks, his eyes bloodshot but brave.

“It was wild. I flew over the potholes at 80 or 90 most of the way. It was like…like road sailing: sailing on rubber tires over choppy roads. I went fast enough to skim over the bumps for the most part. I hit a few biggies but hopefully no permanent damage to the rig.”

“Road sailing. I like that. Road sailors.”

Despite the fact that the campground is closed, we both park our rigs in separate berths give each other his space. The layered grumblings of coyotes and a chorus of birds singing fill the hung-over silence between us. Again I am reminded that the forests here in the north are teeming with wildlife.

An old world unseen by most.

Only extremists make it here.


The following morning we take our coffees and dogs into our respective rigs and leave the campground unbothered by any campground officials. We depart Junction 37 for Atlin due west along the Alaskan Highway with Remy leading the way. The smooth road slips and turns its way through the passes, and the exposed grey rock is arresting to my eye after a thousand miles of thick woods. Then I see a beacon: a small red-and-white radio tower perched high on top a small peak not far from the highway. There is what looks like a huge sub-woofer in the middle of it facing east and another one on the other side facing west.

That pilot in Dease Lake was right, and Remy’s theory about geomancy is holding true.

We only stop once all day for gas until we hit Teslin, a town about halfway to Atlin where we find a deserted campground near a river. We camp for the night in separate berths. During the night the temperature drops to below zero and my sleeping bag is tested. The Yukon’s sharp mountains scream in bitter cold silence. Only a deaf man cannot hear the cackling laughter in the shadows of the Yukon night. Up here there is no sugar coating, no diet soda for the weak at heart; only the primal scream of that which the weak call injustice is experienced this far north. Hard laws of nature are still in power up here, a land that can kill those who choose to ignore man’s healthy instincts and who choose the comfort of cotton over the scratchiness of wool.

After coffee the next day, Remy and I walk with Inge and Blue to the river where we stop and read the historical plaque beside the fast-moving water. It reads:


This region has traditionally been the home of the Tagish Indian people.

The word ‘Tagish’ has evolved from the Tagish name Taagish Too’ E’

and the related Tlingit word Taagish Heeni, meaning the place

where the ice goes out. Contact with the outside world came in the last century.

In 1897, during the Klondike Gold Rush, the North West Mounted Police

established a post upstream from here. The post operated as a post office,

customs station and mining recorder, as well as checkpoint for the thousands

of boats that past this point on their way to Dawson City.

A forgotten history is whispered from the water. The coldness of the river seeps into my denims and the wind bites through making my kneecaps feel like pieces of ice ready to shatter at any sudden movements. I feel the endless rhythm of nature at my feet from the sticks and the mud and the ripples of the current under the bridge and I hear Mother Nature in the wind through the trees and am aware of the vibrations of time flowing in front of me. Hardship and suffering and death lie muted and trampled in the gentle soothing hum of the water.

The Yukon really is Canada’s true north.

“It’s strange to think that the first contact with white men was only a hundred years ago,” I say.

“What’s strange is that this place is called Teslin and Tagish Indians came from here, but the town of Tagish is another day’s drive due west.”

Back at the campers we eat a breakfast. Mine consists of corn chips, Dill pickles and coffee as we both study the map.

“Should hit Atlin today,” I say with alacrity.

“I concur. Let’s do some road sailing.” The mischief is there in his grin when we both start our engines, but since it’s so cold we let the engines warm up and each proceed to roll a joint. We spark them up at the same time and drive off laughing on our way to Atlin. We pass by the purple mountains beside the curving Alaska Highway to where there is a break in the mountains.

The winds shake our campers like toys.

We reach the natural part in the land at the top of the hill and the crest in the landscape. For most people it’s just a sign along the road, but for me it’s like reaching the Arctic Watershed: a tangible mark on the map. It reads:





A few hours past the continental divide, Remy stops on the shoulder so I park in front of him. This time it’s Remy who gets out of his rig.

“This is it. We turn left here and go due south, and we’ll hit Atlantis.” There’s only a decrepit road sign that indicates the turn off. I’m surprised he saw it. There’s a lake behind the sign along the road to Atlin that sparkles under the sun.

The sign to Atlin

“Major Louie then,” I say. Somehow Remy lights a smoke in the wind.

“It’s about a hundred klicks.” We turn off the Alaskan Highway for the road running south that will bring us back into northern British Columbia. For the first few miles it is a smooth, beautiful drive beside the glittering waters but soon the road turns into pothole hell. Road sailing is heavy going until finally we stop after an hour of not seeing a soul. Before getting out of my road buggy, I crack open a beer and then bring Remy a couple cold ones for the ride because I think we’ll need it for the chewed up road. I tell Remy to go faster so he can sail over the turbulence, then we leave for Atlin. This time we both go fast. Sailing over the bumps from Dease Lake is enough to prepare me for this anarchy on the road. Gunning it, I fly over the majority of the bumps while Remy can’t keep the pace and returns to his pussyfooting. I want to see Atlantis so I keep the throttle open and surf over the ruts. Avoiding potholes for me along the gravel road becomes a new art form. Rivets left by chains on truck tires have to be avoided at all costs because at high speed it causes a vehicle-long rattle that makes me fear I’ll blow a tire, or worse that I’ll break an axel. Only with delicate hands can I negotiate the steep inclines and uneven angles of the road to Atlin, running through mixed forests beside a peppering of ice blue lakes to the west. The beauty is dangerous: as soon as I look away from the road I risk hitting a pothole dead on. The beer soon makes me fearless so I hit some bigger bumps head on but knowing Remy is behind me and has a jack, I go forth with serious automobile bluster, carefree and worry-free like a condemned man on the way to his own hanging.

New rules of moderation take time to fully incorporate.

I reach Atlin and drive through a village untouched by the hand of modernity. The hardware store, wood-built hospital, saloon and general store are still the same as they were during the Klondike Gold Rush. Like most of the time for our generation, those who came before us plucked the fruit from its vines so we had to go without, but Atlin remains unsullied by cultural poachers as if Wyatt Earp himself had been running the saloon here and not in Dawson City.

Three mountain peaks rise up from the lake like a cathedral reaching the sky.

Following the road beside the lake I come to a campground where I park at the shore. Letting Inge out, I walk to the water’s edge and look at the clear bottom of the lake. I am looking at my unshaven reflection as I hear Remy’s Dodge approach. He parks just out of eyesight from my camper and in a moment the dogs are busy playing.

There is no one around except us.

“Beautiful,” I say, as we both look at the three distinct peaks across the water.

The avalanche-striped mountains of Atlin have three equal summits that divert the eyes away from its most remarkable feature: a symmetrically balanced pyramid-shaped sister mountain that looks identical in geometry to the Temple of the Sun in Mexico. It is like a natural landing beacon right beside the highest island on a fresh water lake in the world. This island glacier is like one massive graphite antenna sticking up to heaven. It occurs to me that Atlin is the sanctuary and Garden of Eden Remy has sought for years. It is here to which he wanted to escape, his fortress against the eyes he thinks are looking at him, his safe zone from the unseen eyes in the sky. A place far off the grid and far away from a system that’s broken down. Up here we can only hear the roar of the Great Quiet until a small Cessna airplane circles the lake and lands right in front of us, then drifts over to an old Klondike Gold Rush ship moored to a wooden dock behind the saloon.

“See? They still follow me,” Remy says. “I try to get away and yet they still come.” These words mar my revelling of the landscape, my utter euphoria of this great discovery, this special symmetry that creates a synergy greater than its parts.

“You think that plane followed you? C’mon, man.”

“Of course it did! Why else would it land just at this moment? Of all the times for the plane to land. You can’t tell me that’s a coincidence.” Remy doesn’t look too upset about it; he looks indifferent.

“The sun is setting. It’s rush hour here,” I say.  “One plane.” We both stare at the strange symmetrical mountaintops. The site is breathtaking and conjures up different thoughts.

“I’m beginning to feel as though all this outdoor beauty is affecting me,” I say. “I don’t know if it’s because I’m a philosopher or because I’ve been city-bound for so long, but the forces of nature are putting me back into my original dimensions of natural elasticity. A bit more malleable and more in tune with the flow and that type of thing.” Remy nods in understanding.

“Which is a good thing. You are reconnecting to the holy fabric, not so much to Christianity, but to the Holy Fabric of Nature.”

“Maybe it’s the symmetry of landscape.” An energy is lifting me as if there’s a hidden holy gemstone emanating from the glacial waters of Atlin Lake.

“I hear you pilgrim,” he says as though he’s reading my thoughts again. “It’s the Indian in you that’s coming alive – your love of nature. Being part Indian, we have a need to be outdoors because we get medicine from being in the bosom of Mother Nature.” I can feel the flush on my cheeks, not from embarrassment, but from the wind and the sun and the vibe.

“I feel like I’ve been here before. It’s an ancient déjà vu.”

“Vibe el grande,” he says. “It’s the Holy Grail of geomancy My Son.”

Just as I turn around to face Remy, a golden eagle swoops down and brushes my shoulder with its wing. Startled, I look over my shoulder at the massive bird gliding just above the ground until its long wings begin to flap, rising slowly into the sky. The eagle is so close that I can hear the delicate brushing of wings in the air.

“Did you hear that?” I say. When I look at Remy his eyes are as wide as they can be.

“Did you see that eagle? It swooped right down and bounced off your shoulder.”

“I felt it brush me with its wing. I heard it too – the sounds of its wings.” We are both still staring at it. The bird is the size of a flying beaver.

“Do you realize how hard-core that is, man? It was huge. Its wing was longer than my arm!” There is only the sound of the water lapping on the stone shore as we stand at Atlin Lake, lost in our own thoughts. Still we watch the golden eagle ascend higher towards the peaks across the lake. Our dogs play beside us but we only hear them. Somehow I know the golden eagle is a big deal in Remy’s life view, and I wait for him to speak because it’s his turf.

“The eagle is the totem animal of the east,” he says finally. Remy looks closely at my shoulder where the eagle has brushed me for evidence of feathers. “That was as close to a hug you could have with an eagle. Did you see that? It swooped down and touched your shoulder! It was flying right towards me, and then it floaties[19] on your shoulder.” I see an intensity radiating from somewhere in his person emitting power.

Lit up like a match to oil.


“It’s a sign from the Creator,” he says. “We are meant to be here.” He takes out his cigarettes and lays a tobacco offering for the eagle. I can’t hear his muttered prayer except for ‘Amen.’

Before I rankle him with questions, I let him enjoy the event with the eagle, and sit down on the picnic table by the water’s edge. I realize that Remy’s utter immersion in the serendipity of fate enables him to always be on the lookout for reading divine signs from above. Living in this point-zero of incongruity allows him to distill life down to the immensity of the moment – an art that has made him into a man who lives entirely in the moment. It’s a way of living I had not mastered but Remy had learned how to manifest his life philosophy by becoming an artist of how to live life in the now, and in the process he had learned how to be free.

Chapter 14


“The gentleman stands in awe of three things. He is in awe of the Decree of Heaven.

He is in awe of great men. He is in awe of the words of the sages. The small man, being ignorant of the Decree of Heaven, does not stand in awe of it. He treats great men with insolence and the words of the sages with derision.” – Confucius

Dark, cold and bone silent, there is only one place we want to go. From our travels we both know that the pub is always the social centre of any town and where we’ll meet the locals. We both drive because neither of us wants to be dependent on the other. Moving through town again I realize that Atlin is almost a ghost town, a village that proudly displays plaques on its historic wooden cabins still standing from the gold rush 107 years ago.

Inside the saloon, I walk to the bar and Remy walks to the billiards table in the middle of the room under some long pool lights. It’s huge inside, with high wood ceilings, wood tables, and wood floors and a long bar. I hear the familiar racking of the billiard balls as I place a pitcher of beer beside the pool table. We are halfway through our game when a long-haired guy in a denim jacket comes over to watch us play.

He sips from his pint of stout and asks us where we’re from.

“Tough to say,” says Remy. “Never lived in one place more than two years. You?” It’s true; throughout our lives we have never lived in one house longer than two years. For 20 years we were constantly moving.

“I’ve been here for nine years,” he volunteers. “I’m the chef at the only restaurant in town.” He introduces himself as Gord and places his coin on the pool table for next game.

“What brings you to Atlin?” he asks. I dislike direct questions like this aimed at my personal life.

“My brother,” I answer. “He thinks Atlin has better geomancy here because we’re so far north. Isn’t that right Remy?” I’m aware of a woman sitting at the bar watching us play.

“So what do you think Gord? Is this Atlantis or what?” Remy’s eyes are bloodshot with a turquoise hue in the middle – pee holes in the snow.

 “I’m surprised you know about that,” he replies. “So few people do.” I can tell Gord has some education.

“Well, we’re different,” he says sinking the red ball.

“The Indians in these parts believe North America was destroyed more than 3000 years ago by a natural catastrophe. Only the oral traditions have been handed down through history,” says Gord. “The Tlingit tribe that is in charge of this knowledge guards and protects Atlin from outsiders still to this day. They still commemorate the Great Flood and the lost civilization every year.” We’re both sitting on chairs because Remy is sinking a string of balls. He’s in the process of clearing the table.

“You’re reaching aren’t you – a bit,” says Remy with an encouraging smile.

“No, I don’t think so. Plato described Atlantis as rich in precious metals and minerals didn’t he?” Remy nods and I look on with interest. “The Chinese used to come over to the Cassiar Mountains and mine jade over the millennia. Atlin was re-discovered by miners in 1896 when Fritz Miller and Kenneth McClaren discovered gold here in what was to become known as Gold Creek. That’s their statue outside on the main street.”

“Haven’t seen it yet. We just arrived.”

“The point is that Atlin’s still rich in natural resources. Case in point: a huge gold nugget was found here in 1981 weighing over 36 ounces. It became known as the ‘Atlin Nugget.’”


“So it has minerals – like Atlantis. The We’suwet’en and Gitksan tribes of Northern BC believe that all Native peoples of the Americas originally descended from the same place in Northern BC from a place called Dzilke. They believe it was a civilization located along the Skeena and Bulkley Rivers, which is right around here. There are many legends and songs celebrating this legend.”

“Yes, I’ve heard of that,” said Remy.

“So the question is: why would so many native tribes all have a similar myth about a vast civilization in Northern BC that was lost to The Great Flood? I think there must be some sort of thread of truth that binds all these stories together.” Remy nods with increasing zeal.

“Where there’s smoke there’s fire.”


“Are they stories or historical fact?” I ask.

“Well these ‘stories’ were used in court this century against the Queen of England by the Indians when they were forced to defend their traditional homelands from white pioneers. The tribes argued that they originated in Northern BC from a great civilization that was destroyed by the flood about 3000 or 3500 years ago just as I said. These stories, which were told by different Native tribes in different parts of North America, were finally taken seriously enough for a team of anthropologists to be put together in 1915. Searches for remnants of a lost civilization in 1915, 1923 and then in 1966 yielded no evidence to support the claim, but then again the mountains of Northern BC are vast. And they were looking in the mountains when I think they should’ve been looking underwater.”

As Gord goes on about Atlin and Remy keeps sinking balls, I go to the bar for more beer and speak to a woman. She has rosy, wind-blown skin.

“Your brother hasn’t lost yet,” she says to me, smiling.

“He spends a lot of time in bars. Besides they’re talking history and I tend to get overwhelmed with dates and bugged when fact is merged with fiction.” When the bartender comes over I ask if he can turn up the music. He goes over to a stereo piled on top of a half dozen other stereos so the system looks like it packs 50 million watts.

“Are you from here?” I ask.

“I’m from Whitehorse. I came to visit an old friend of mine but there’s something wrong with my car so it’s being fixed right now. I’m sort of stranded at my friend’s until I can get back to Whitehorse. What about you? What brings you to the Switzerland of the North?”

“I’m looking for property to buy.” I bypass any mention of the word ‘geomancy’ because I don’t want her to think I’m weird. She says her name is Paula.

“The land here is expensive believe it or not. It’s nice but it’s so remote that I think even connecting electricity is costly.” Still not used to the cold, I shiver. “There’s fire on in there,” she says, pointing to the fireplace. An old man sitting alone in front of the fire in flannel and wool.

“You’re not cold?”

“No. It’s warm in here.” Her face is lined by past winters. A snowmobiler’s face.

The bartender arrives with the pitcher of beer I ordered.

“I may need to watch the hangover tomorrow,” I say, returning to the billiards table. Both Remy and Gord show signs of drunkenness but now Remy is giving it to Gord about Atlantis and all the theories he’s read.

“Reports of the existence of Atlantis come from all over the world. Plato’s writings mention Atlantis as does the history of Egypt under the leadership of Pharaoh Ramses III who repelled an Atlantean invasion in 1187BC.” Remy glances at us to see if he should go on. Remy has a thing for historical dates. He throws around dates as if they’re candy. “The etchings of these ships and helmeted warriors on the walls of Victory Temple in Egypt bare remarkable similarity with petroglyphs found in North America. This suggests the legends and rumours among the Red Man that the original location of Atlantis was in Atlin may be true. Hell, we drove all the way up here so I could find the right geomancy for my person. Over the years I’ve learned to have faith in the Red Man and his beliefs.”

“To find out the geomancy you should marry a local Tlingit Indian like I did.”

“Severe sampling technology mon ami,” says Remy.

“Full dippage el grande,” I say, unable to not respond to his language. “Perhaps just a taster to begin with?” Gord looks confused as Remy and I both look around the bar. There is only the snowmobiler from Whitehorse. Gord pours himself a glass of beer from our pitcher as Remy pulls me aside.

“See that woman?” He points to Paula.

“Yeah, the one with advantageous plumage I was talking to?”

“She’s evil. I’d stay away from her.” The words catch me off guard.

“Why do you say she’s evil? She-“

“She’s evil. I spoke to her before on my way to the washroom. Trust me.” I think he’s only being dramatic and immature. I don’t see anything evil about her. Remy spills some of his beer when he drinks from a full glass. He’s drinking to get drunk. Something has gotten to him.

“She doesn’t seem evil to me. So I guess I’ll need to discover that for myself.” With these words we both know the conversation about her is over. Besides, I sink the eight ball and lose the game so Gord is up. As he racks up the balls, I ask him if there’s any land for sale around here.

“Not much. Only in the subdivisions but there are only one or two plots on the market. I’m still paying off my bloody mortgage. My wife and I can’t seem to get in front of the eight ball.”

Now more curious about Paula, I go back to the bar where I lean against the counter with all my weight. Fatigue, beer, smokes, endless driving and a dubious diet catch up with me, but the tanned skin, fair hair and athletic build beside me makes me even weaker. Such a stunning face in the Atlin saloon so isolated and desolate.

“How are you going to get home?” I ask.

“I’m not sure. Taxi if there’s a service.”

“I can give you a lift if you want. My rig’s outside.” I tell Remy I’m driving Paula home and that I’ll meet him at the campground tomorrow. Paula and I walk out to the cold night air where we stand for a moment witnessing an awesome spectacle of northern lights. In the quietness of the Great Roar, rays of light like powder from the lips of God streak across the sky like piano keys morphing into swirling forms.  The loose streaks of intangible white before us are both violent and symphonic – like nature herself.

“I can’t say that I can ever remember northern lights quite like this,” she says. Like moving crystals of energy bouncing off a dark canopy of black, the northern lights are silent frosted notes of the true north. I realize that these curtains of God’s smile dancing in the night sky can only be experienced, like immersing oneself in the beauty of a land.

“Do you want to go to the campground by the water to see more northern lights?” I ask.

“Sure, why not?” I drive to the campground and park just outside the grounds by the fence so I’m technically not staying in the campground and won’t be charged, but instead of watching more northern lights we have our own version of northern lights in my camper.

Chapter 15


“I have yet to meet the man who is as fond of virtue as he is of beauty in women.” – Confucius

During the night I have a dream that Remy walked up to me and grasped the amethyst crystal that hangs around my neck. With the amethyst in his hand he said: “Get rid of this!” He enunciated the words so clearly that it sent a chill through me and then I wake up. Without a doubt, it was the most vivid image of my twin brother I have ever experienced in a dream. It’s the simplicity and finality of it that makes me to remember it. In fact it’s so vivid that I’m not sure if it’s a dream or if it really happened.

I awake to the whining of Inge. She’s not used to strangers in my camper. Rubbing my face as I lay in my loft, my head is in pain. Damn draught beer, will I ever learn? Paula is still asleep so I grab my jacket and shoes take my dog outside where I splash my face with the ice-cold water of Atlin Lake. Glacial water is better than coffee – wakes me up instantly. Soon Paula emerges from the camper with her hair dishevelled. In the morning sun her pupils are a powdery pale blue that startle me, her skin shining in the sun. How often do you wake up with someone prettier in the morning? I give her a morning kiss but she doesn’t respond as warmly as I’d like, which tells me that today is a different day than yesterday.

“Is your dog all right?” She covers her eyes from the sun with her hand so I can’t feast on her beauty in the Atlin sun.

“Not sure what it is but I suppose it’s only a perturbed doggy.”

“Perturbed doggy.” Her expression doesn’t change but her grin widens.

“She’s not used to others staying in my camper I guess.”

“Well, I should get back to my friend’s. My car may be ready so I can return to Whitehorse today. And I didn’t call last night so my friend may be worried.” The words hit me like a cold shower. We leave the campground, driving out of Atlin and away from the lake toward one of the subdivisions with homes on two-acre wooded lots. Down a road past a school and across a river and then into a cul-de-sac nestled in a poplar grove.

“Here is good,” she says. When I park I’m surprised she invites me into the house.

Antiques and old parts of machines and old tools and slabs of wood all over the front yard. Wooden sheds that house even more clutter like old music equipment and broken-down electronic items. A scrap yard for anything that makes noise. Paula’s friend isn’t there so we relax in the kitchen. Old wooden drums and native masks and antiques of all kinds on the walls. A hidden museum of Anishinabek culture.

“He’s a collector,” she says. “He’s really serious about it. He was a musician for years, toured all over Canada and the States, but when he came here he couldn’t leave because it’s so nice. He’s been in Atlin for ten years now.” I ask her how they know each other.

“I met him in the early nineties when he played in a band at the Belvedere Tavern in Whitehorse.” There are four tobacco pouches on the kitchen table and an ashtray a foot wide overflowing with ashes, roaches and cigarette butts. There is a book about the history of rock music with dog-eared pages and unopened bills scattered on the shelf beside the table. Like many bachelor pads, dishes are piled high in the sink. I count four coffee machines on the counter. Everything seems to be made of wood except the kitchen and the old Mountie hat perched on top of a wooden beam in the living room. Instruments range from record players to drums and guitars and violins hanging from the cedar walls.

“Nice place. I can see he’s a musician.”

“He makes drums and fixes violins for an income. He should be coming back from visiting a friend about my car. Nice guy.” I pick up some rolling papers off the table.

“Mind if I roll one up?” She thinks it’s a good idea so I commence with the engineering just as Paula’s friend shows up. I am expecting a hefty rocker with a ponytail and beard but instead walks-in this clean shaven, chisel-featured guy who looks like Kierkegaard at 50 with silvery Einstein hair.

“Found your part,” he says, putting a bag of groceries on the crowded counter and looking at us both sitting at the kitchen table.

“David Miller,” he says extending his hand to me.

“Trapp McFlynn,” I reply, introducing myself into a pair of eyes that at a glimpse reveal to me an encyclopaedic knowledge of life.

“Nice place you have here. I hope you don’t mind I’m here.” He waves his hand.

“A friend of Paula’s is a friend of mine. Coffee? I’m putting some on.” He works a cappuccino machine like he built it himself. I hold up the joint still unlit.

“Good timing,” I say.

“By all means. This is a smoke-free house except for this room.” That explains the ashtray. They talk about the car as I’m busy smoking the joint. When I pass it to David Miller, he takes it and attacks it in three short puffs, and then hands it to Paula as if it’s a hot potato. She smokes it leisurely and hands to me. I quicken my puffs in accordance with the technique of the man of the house to show respect. He takes the joint and again hammers out three efficient puffs, holding the smoke in his lungs as he turns back to the coffee. I tell him I drink black coffee so he serves me a sublime cup that comes from somewhere other than earth.


He sits down in the free chair with his coffee and his eyes now all ablaze and asks me how I ended up in Atlin. I tell him I’m looking for property and about how my brother and I are trying to find the right geomancy in the land. He nods and is very interested in the word ‘geomancy.’ He finds a dictionary, looks it up and reads the definition.

Geomancy is ‘the divination of the symmetrical parallels inherent in the layout of the landscape.’ OK, what does ‘divination’ mean exactly?” He flips to another page, finds the word and then pensively summarizes the meaning as “the ability to read the future.”

“So if you can find the right geomancy then you should be able to see into the future a bit.” 

“That’s hip.” There’s something noticeably symmetrical about David Miller. He looks like a man in perfect balance, as if he’s a mirror of the land in which he lives.

“So how did you end up here?” I ask him.

“I toured with my band for years – almost twenty years of playing. I loved it but it gets to you after a while. I was living out of a suitcase and rambling from stage to stage all over Canada, but I knew it wasn’t going to last forever. I knew that one day I would need to find my own spot of land where I could keep all my things and never have to worry about being a wanderer again. So as I toured I always kept my eyes open for a place that had this sort of geomancy you speak of. I dug Whitehorse when I played there. It’s a rocking town all right. In Whitehorse I wrote music and lived life like I never had before. There’s some magic in this land up here, but when I came to Atlin I knew as soon as I arrived that this was the home I had been looking for my whole life. This was where some of my dreams had taken place. Those three peaks over the lake: I had seen them a hundred times in my dreams. I knew this was where I could live in peace.” With tobacco from one of the Player’s Light pouches on the table, he rolls a cigarette. Steady hands.

“How did you know?

“The land made me feel calm. I didn’t feel as if I was only passing through like a guest on someone’s ranch staying on borrowed time. I felt like I owned this land; that I had been here before in a previous life. It sounds corny but all I saw were my spiritual cousins who shared an unnamed secret with me by living here. Strangely, the madness of the world made sense from here where I can watch it from above and laugh at the senseless melee with everyone killing each other for a moment in the spotlight or for a bulky bank account.”

“Don’t start on that,” says Paula with a snort. David Miller ignores her, butts out his cigarette and immediately begins to roll another one.

“Finding the right land is like slipping on an old shoe you thought you had lost years ago. The fit, the colour, the smell, the creases in the leather and the size all work together that tell you your search has culminated to this point in time. All subsequent travel is merely a case of leaving home for a while. Happiness becomes truly possible. And once you find your foundation and home base, then you can begin to fortify. And that’s a great feeling.” He lights another cigarette and starts to make more coffee. I lean over and kiss Paula because I’m digging the vibe, but she backs away.

“I had fun last night,” she says quietly but there is something missing, that vital ingredient that shows me that the play is still on and the game is still alive. I am a shooting star to her with a lifespan of one night.

David serves more coffee and I cannot help but become detached. Sensing my detachment, David switches gears with grace and social ease.

“There is a place on the next road over here for sale. You should check it out but there’s no house – just the lot. What makes it special is that it has an old Indian trail that goes up to the original Yellowhead Mountain Trail that connects to Edmonton. In fact it connects to old Indian trails that one could walk all the way to the Atlantic Ocean if you want.” We finish the coffee and I mutter that I should get back to find my brother at the campground, but before I take my leave I ask him if he has any advice for me in finding the right spot.

“Ah, I’m not good at giving advice Trapp, but I can tell you the words I live by. The man of half-truth lives a half-life. The man of lies lives a false life. The man of truth lives a full life. You must be true to yourself in order to find what you are looking for. Don’t cut corners. Remain true to your gut.” When I shake his hand and say good-bye, I’m comforted that I’m not the only person who has sought their own piece of sanity in a world hell-bent on killing itself.

At my rig I give Paula a peck on the cheek, knowing it will be the last time.

Thank you,” she says. The words hang there, purposeful, heavy with meaning, her baritone resonating in my knees. I curse myself for not using a prophylactic. In my gut I think she’s thanking me for the offspring now taking root inside her. Perhaps she’s used me for my genes. After all she’s about my age and her biological clock is running out. Then my dream comes back to me and I frantically remove my amethyst on the leather string from around my neck.

“Here, something to remember me by.” I give her my amethyst crystal. “Who knows, I may see you in Whitehorse one day.” She touches my cheek and smiles warmly. Then she is gone. She doesn’t look back. The tone and sincerity of her words hover, pregnant with meaning, a farewell to a footnote that she will see for the rest of her days.

I pull away and pass some lots for sale but they aren’t what I’m looking for. The properties I see on the way back to the lake make me depressed. Paula’s chilly body language echo through the hallway of my mind, making me think the worst. The words “single mother” buzz around in that hallway like a hornet that won’t go away.

Arriving back at the lake, Remy’s camper is there and the door is open. After I park outside the campground where I spent the night with Paula, I go over to the door when Remy steps out with his omnipresent mug of coffee.

“I had a dream last night that you should get rid of that amethyst around your neck,” he says. I can tell immediately that he’s not happy today.


“You know I take my dreams seriously so I thought I should tell you.” An eerie tingling goes up my spine.

“I had a dream last night that you told me to get rid of my amethyst. Coincidence. It was as vivid as any dream I’ve ever had.”

“Do you still have it on?”

“I gave it away this morning,” I reply, unwilling to say who I gave it to.

“Did that evil woman stay over?” His tone is constricted.

“Yes, I had company. But she was far from evil.”

“She did?” Remy is genuinely shocked. I assumed he had heard us this morning. “I told you she had some bad spirits in her. Now I just hope she didn’t hand off any evil spirits to you.” I serve myself some coffee from Remy’s mini coffee filter. The water is still hot but as I turn to take my first sip the mug slips out of my hand onto the small rocks at my feet. The metal mug makes a loud clanking sound when it lands.

“See what I mean?” he says, as I lean down and pick up the mug.

“What am I supposed to say to that? You think Paula has some bad spirits and now I have them because she slept over, and that’s the cause of me dropping the mug? C’mon Remy. Give me a break!” I’m dehydrated and suffering from the pasties, which is causing me to overheat.

“It’s not my fault she’s evil.”


“It’s not my fault she’s evil,” he says.

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“I’m just saying…”

“Sometimes you sound pretty crazy man. I’m serious.”

“I know it must sound pretty crazy but my teacher believes I’m the guy.”

“What? The Messiah?” The pause between the question and the answer is a long second.

“Yes. Jesus and Muhammad. I’ve had dreams of them both.” There is a finality in his tone that I find provocative. Conflict, the bane between twins. Nothing is worse. Dander rising like a rogue wave usurping sand castles on the beach erasing the frozen beauty of the architecture.

“Just because you had a dream about them you think-“

“No. It’s more than that. I know it sounds insane but the prophecies say that the Pahana will be a hippy with a bad eye and will like his medicines. That what it says.” I throw up my hands. The irrationality of his Messiah Complex is pissing me off and my tolerance is wearing thin. I need to get away before I say something mean because I can feel myself returning to that familiar place of anger, a place where I have spent so much time during the last few years of my life overseas.

When I find Inge she can sense I’m angry. As I lift her up she squirms a bit and slips out of my hands. I grab her as she falls to the ground but as I do I wrench my shoulder, feeling a sharp pain where the pin the surgeons had put in my shoulder connects to the tendons. It feels like the pin has ripped out. I’m too mad to yell.

“I need some time alone,” I shout at Remy. He ignores me for a moment.

“I’ll meet you here Friday at four,” he says. As I slip my truck into gear, a sharp pain pierces my shoulder joint and I know for sure I have torn something, but in my red-hot anger, I revel in the pain.

Chapter 16


“When you make a mistake, do not be afraid of mending your ways.” – Confucius

A cemetery just out of town with old gravestones half fallen in overgrown grass catches my eye. Airplane propellers in the corner make me stop. I walk around the headstones without stepping on any bones, trying to relax and get my mind off Remy. Reading the tombstones is like a snapshot of its past: a chap from Londonderry killed in a mining accident, 28 years old; an African who froze to death in 1899; pilots buried with their plane’s propeller lying on their grave. Fritz Miller is in the centre of the cemetery with a massive menhir. He died in 1904 at age 32 only six years after striking gold in Gold Creek with Kenneth McClaren. A Prussian killed here during the Second World War. Someone was killed by gunshot mistaken for a bear, and another was ‘found dead along the Trail, 1898.’ I know from Remy there were over 5,000 people here in 1898 for the Atlin Gold Rush. The cemetery is filled with an entire generation of families that lie side by side, mostly from Ireland, Cornwall and Scandinavia. There are two Japanese graves right in the far corner almost completely overgrown by vegetation. Memories of my time living in Tokyo bring back that distinct rancor that I was so used to for so many years – a state of being that I desperately want to forget.

I did not enjoy my time living in Japan.

I drive up the road to where I find a small lookout beside a steep waterfall and old wooden bridge. I park and go hiking for a while with Inge along the river and then return. The waterfall beside me is soothing to my ears so I decide to spend the night there. With candles, I try to read but doze off to the sound of water crashing against rocks, hoping that my candles will keep me warm.

I wake up early the following morning from the fierce pain in my shoulder as if I’ve torn the metal pin from the white of the muscle, or ripped it from the tendons. Ignoring the pain, I take Inge out for a longer walk past the old wooden bridge down a gravel road. I can tell from the lack of tire tracks that the road is unused. After a few hours of walking, I see an old road with a sign that says:


It only takes me 15 minutes along the overgrown trail until I’m standing beside Gold Creek with my hands full of sand and my fingers freezing like icicles. Wooden sluices in pieces a century old tell of a gold rush now forgotten, overshadowed by the Klondike and Dawson City, short-changing Atlin’s place in history. I walk up and down the creek bed doing some superficial panning but the pain in my shoulder is too sharp. I find a few pure white rocks that look as if they are emitting light so I put them into a special pocket for Remy. I can’t help but feel remorse for calling him crazy because I know he is earnest to reconnect with me after my long hiatus His enthusiasm about being the Messiah has taken on new proportions of severity and I wonder if it’s because I didn’t question it more when he first brought it up, or if he is in fact the Messiah. Who am I to say he isn’t?

But common sense tells me he is not the Pahana.

Since I’ve been so accommodating and open-minded to the idea, I’m now getting a taste of how far he has gone along the road towards possible psychological neurosis. I don’t want to use the words ‘mental illness’ but in my cold sober mind that is precisely what I see. And yet, for some reason, I believe that I have the power to reel him back from the brink. I need to confront the situation as a realist so I can figure out a way for him to get over this idea of being the saviour of mankind and come back to the mundane normality of reality.

I keep on coming back to the thought that since he’s my identical twin brother, if this extremism is in him then it must be in me too but merely in a different form. Is my recklessness merely another manifestation of his belief of being a prophet? Do we have a natural inclination to be imbalanced? Do we have an innate partiality to engage in different forms of extremism?

I’m too timid to think this through so I let it plague me as I sit in silence beside Gold Creek among the trees of Atlin isolated so far from anyone. What will Remy do if I reject him again? It’s not an option. I won’t. Besides, why can I find so many faults in him while I pass with flying colours? He who is without sin cast the first stone. I have so much scar tissue and I sense there’s something wrong, but I can’t seem to see what it is. Do I resent him for being crazy?

Like him, perhaps I also have a blind spot to what ails me.

To get my mind off of these things, I visit the realtor in town to find out what’s available. Backing out from my spot beside the waterfall, I bump into a tree. Looking at the damage there’s only a small dent, not as bad as I thought. For a second I think I might in fact be cursed, but then I tell myself it’s ridiculous.

Arriving at the realtor’s office near the lake, I see a man inside so I nod to him through the window and enter.

“What can I do for you?” A white-haired man looks up from his computer. The name on the business card I take from the pile on his desk is Jürgen Reinhardt.

“I’m looking for property to purchase but more in the lower end,” I say.

“How low is low?” He retrieves a pencil from his desk drawer.

“Twenty-five thousand maybe, thirty. I’m after a writer’s cabin. Something rustic.” Jürgen Reinhardt scratches his head and frowns.

“There’s not much at all in that range. Even if you build you still need to buy the land.” There is a German accent in the words he speaks.

“What about throwing down a trailer or something?”

“It’s too cold here in the wintertime for a trailer. Trust me. You may want to try Tagish Estates up on Highway 8. Maybe you can get something with a small cabin, but for more than thirty.” Jürgen Reinhardt is a man who prefers not to deal in low-end real estate deals, but more than that there’s a dry Gestapo arrogance that speaks to me between the lines. When he does speak it’s so succinct that there doesn’t seem to be any more to say. He suggests one property for sale in a cul-de-sac near David Miller’s house but makes it clear there is no building on the lot. The land is $50,000. When he is finishes giving me the address, his face grows cold like ice.

I reflexively stand up, thank him for his time and leave.

Back in my rig I keep hearing his crystal dry voice that makes me wonder if Jürgen Reinhardt had ever been in World War Two. With his closely cropped white hair, chilly eyes and severe upper lip, he could have been a war veteran who escaped through ODESSA during the carnage after the war. Atlin is pretty far out of the way and an excellent place to hide. There is no way he could be a third-generation descendent of some of the early settlers from Prussia who came over with Miller and McClaren because that wouldn’t explain his accent.

No, must be my imagination: that activity of the mind that leads astray.

I walk the property Jürgen Reinhardt told me about but it’s not what I want. There is one however that’s beautiful. It’s the property that David Miller told me about.

Walking the property with Inge, I find the old Indian trail and follow it for miles past tree stands for hunting and past a river where someone has built a small footbridge to the riverbank. Patches of poplar trees give the forest vibrancy, as if magic is reflecting off the yellow leaves that shine like mirrors in the light-giving sun. But it’s the network of mountain trails and snowmobile paths on the property that makes it special. Old history embedded in the land like the lines on a face bespeaking past adventures that give it character. The main trail is likely part of the old trade route used in the eighteenth century by fur traders that leads to the Red River Valley – the path of the first European explorers. I climb the trail way up into the mountains until the sun is in the western sky. Cold, like an unwanted lover, descends, diminishing the joy I’m experiencing. I love the vibe of the land and engage in a flurry of calculations in my head, but no matter how hard I try, I can’t afford the property.

When the sun goes down over the tress, I return to the misty waterfall where I retire for the day. Wolfing down a tin of smoked oysters and crackers in less than a minute, I stare into the thundering waterfall wondering if I want country living to be this remote.

When I finally go to sleep under the northern lights, I have a disturbing dream… Recalling my dream, I remember I threw an egg-sized stone into the distance and hit something that caused a big splash. When I chucked the rock I knew it would land just out of range of what I could see, but I didn’t think it would hit anything or anyone. When I threw the stone it felt good to hear the clicking of the joint in my sore shoulder without any sharp pain. And it was an excellent throw, but when the stone landed I could see it splash blood against the side of a mountain. It looked dramatic when it splashed the blood against the wall of rock, but when I walked towards the mountainside, a large Red Indian with long black hair and sharp cheekbones appeared in front of me, pointing and gesticulating like a madman. He used his arms to point to where the stone landed and indicated that I was the one who threw it. Because the man was so presumptuous that it was me who threw the stone, I chose to act as if it wasn’t me. I pointed at the big mess of blood on the wall and shrugged. As soon as I began walking away from the man, he nodded at two children near him who approached me. I ignored them too but was aware they were following me. When the two boys were beside me, one of them inserted what turned out to be a very small barbed arrow into my right shoulder. The barbed arrow was small and black, and was like a sliver, which had a light on the end of it. It caused me searing pain when I began to walk away from them, so I was forced to stop. I realized that I had some sort of beacon device in my arm that wouldn’t let me leave without fixing what I had done. But this moment was more significant than just deciding to help. I decided I would only help fix the damage I had caused if they were kind and respectful to me. My attitude to help was sincere if this condition was met so I returned to the angry Indian with sharp cheekbones and helped clean up the mess, and as I did I was treated with respect. It was only through the sincerity of my effort that the children were told they could remove the device from my arm. When I left them, I was much bigger than I was before. Despite the event only taking an afternoon, when I walked away my body was almost twice as big as it had been before.

In the late morning beside the waterfall with only cold water to drink, I mull over my dream trying to find meaning in it because I know there must be a message – like all dreams do – but I can’t find the Rosetta Stone to decipher it. I am left in a state of unfulfilled curiosity.

I leave the waterfall without hitting the tree this time and meet Remy at the campground after filling the afternoon with chores. I walk to his back door just as he steps out of his camper.

“Trapp! Ready to go?” The surprise I feel registers on my face.

“You don’t want to stay?”

“There’s something strange about Atlin,” he says. “I mean I can feel a difference but this is such a small village. No, I say we go to a bigger town but stay north of the 60th parallel. We should go north to remain out of range of the radar. Whitehorse maybe.”

Whitehorse?” How far do we need to go?

“Sure. It’s north of the 60th.” I notice that Blue isn’t around.

“Where’s Blue?”

“I let him go.” He looks across the lake and squints. “He was wild at heart and he left me so I let him go.” He is quiet for a minute.

“Well, what-“

“I was way out in the forest and he ran off into the bush. I waited and waited and then tried to find him in the scrub but it was too hard. I think he wanted his freedom.” He takes out his cigarettes and lights one. “I waited until sundown but Blue didn’t show. I think Blue may have been meant to be an offering from me to Atlantis. I haven’t quite figured it out yet but there is some sense to it happening here.”

“Can we-“

“No, I’ve looked for him already. He’s lost.” The wind catches the map in Remy’s hand. I can see he’s upset about it so we don’t discuss it further.

“Whitehorse is pretty north, man,” I say. ‘You think you can find a place up there where you won’t be followed?” After my dream I feel suddenly quite sympathetic to Remy’s notion of having an electronic device in his arm and the importance of getting off the grid. “There’s this trail I wanted to show you and this property you should check out.”

“I’ve seen the waterfall up the river and some properties for sale but nothing we’re looking for. It’s not for us. It’s pricey here man. Let’s gazelle to Whitehorse. It’s far above the 60th parallel. We’re actually just south of the 60th parallel here, so I think that may be part of the piece. Anyway, it’s too small here. It’s a bit phybic. Whitehorse isn’t that far because we’re already pretty far north. It’ll take us a day or so if we leave now.” I shake my head in defeat.

Slippery logic from a partial mind is something that cannot be tackled.

“OK, Whitehorse,” I say. “And listen, sorry about the other day.” He waves his hand.

“Forget about it. I’m just glad you got rid of that amethyst. Let’s just leave it at that. Dart?” When I accept the Player’s Light I know it’s all that’s needed for a mutual apology.

Remy leads the way north out of Atlin past the three peaks and we begin the bumpy ride back to the Alaskan Highway. The sun sets over Alaska when we turn at Jake’s Corner and we are forced to pullover in Tagish, a small town halfway to Whitehorse. We find a small hunting road branching off of the main highway and park amid some bushes. I don’t see Remy again until morning.

Chapter 17


“What can a man do with music who is not benevolent?” – Confucius

Tagish, the Yukon

I get up early and take a drive to find Tagish Estates that the German in Atlin told me about, but they end up being too claustrophobic – square lots with few trees built in the middle of a field without any water around. The land simply isn’t sexy enough so I return to our makeshift camp where I meet up with Remy. We decide to take our coffee to go in an effort to reach Whitehorse before nightfall.

The sun shines to its fullest in the blue sky as we pass wintergreen forests carpeted with butterscotch pine needles. Grace and justice in the balance of nature that stirs the healthy aspects of my instinct. Old knots in my person begin to unwind as we drive deeper north into the Yukon. Nothing but trees and rock un-manicured by the hand of God and illustrations of the battle of nature with fallen trees and creeks crashing through the brush overtaking ground lost to the advent of time.

We eventually enter Whitehorse through a valley of rock bleached by the sun. All along the east side of the highway the mountain range is parched white from the sunsets. I don’t know what the official colours of Whitehorse are but they should be white and blue: the bright white sheen of exposed rock on the mountain slopes facing west and the light blue of the cloudless sky.

In town Remy and I pass several busy taverns and then stop at a hotel bar, where there are natives hanging out in the parking lot. Remy parks way to the other side, maybe thirty yards away from the hotel, whereas I park halfway between the two extremes, far enough away from the loitering Indians and out of visual distance of Remy. Parked and relieved we made Whitehorse, I go to Remy’s camper.

“Cool vibe! Looks like a party town,” he says, relishing his new geography. “It’s Saturday night pilgrim.” Remy flicks his hair back and looks like the brother I knew when we were kids. He rolls up a joint and I bite into a Dill pickle and slobber on the front of my jacket.

“So you like this place?”

“Yeah, so far. We’ll see how my dreams are tonight. I haven’t seen any planes following me today or UFOs, but then again I haven’t been looking for them.” I really don’t know if he’s joking or not, which bothers me. There should never be a cleavage in our mutual understanding as identical twins.

“No UFOs, that’s good.”

“Above the 60th parallel. A new vista. No electronic turbulence. The natural magnetic force from the pole is throwing radar out of whack so those peoples who follow me can’t track me. We’re protected here. My implant in my arm isn’t transmitting.” The knot of worry returns to my gut so I guzzle more beer before we leave for the bar.

Remy follows my pace of libation intake.

“Where’s your implant?” I ask as nonchalantly as I can, as if I’m asking about the weather. He rolls up his sleeve and shows me a half-inch long scar on his forearm near his elbow.

“I got it when I was pierced. Have I ever shown this to you before?”


“Sometimes I feel like ripping it out but it would be too bloody.” I tell him about the dream I had a few nights ago, about throwing the stone and then the two boys putting an electronic device in my arm.

“Interesting,” he says. “And yet you still don’t believe me.”

“I never said that.”

“I can see it in your eyes Trapp. He who is free of sin cast the first stone,” he says. The same words coming out of his mouth.

Another eerie coincidence.

“What do you think it means?”

“Seriously?” I nod. “You arrived in Canada and are now throwing a stone to find a new home in the country, like a fisherman casting his line in the water. But finding a home might be more difficult than you think and might cause some blood. But you also have to search with respect for the laws of spiritual cleanliness and for the people of this land and for the land itself. You must learn to have love in your heart and get rid of anger and resentment that is still there. God will watch you and activate the electronic device in your arm until you learn how to love your neighbour. Only then will you have the devices removed and grow into a bigger man.” There is a creeping, prickly sensation that wanders up the back of my neck in the silence.

I shake my head in amazement.

“Easier said than done,” I mutter.

“But you said it yourself. You decided to clean up the blood with profound sincerity only if they treated you with respect, right?”

“Yeah, so?”

“So that’s how you do it. You need that genuine, unfeigned affection in your heart for everyone and you will see how they will all react in kind, the same way as the Indian with the cheekbones in your dream.”

“So why did the children remove the electronic device from my arm after I helped clean up the mess? Because I showed respect?”

“Because the guilt from committing the act was causing you the pain. Once you faced up to it by cleaning up the mess you made and treating those you assaulted with respect and humility, the pain that had troubled you disappeared.”

I sit in silence thinking about it.

“How-.“ I begin to ask but Remy already knows my question.

“Because dreams are an important part of the Red Man’s culture. Reading dreams is a way of figuring out how to heal people – and yourself. They are divine signs from the Creator.”


“Yes. That why I sleep-in and write my dreams down.” He lights another candle and we both drink more beer.

“Well I think it may mean something else.”

“What’s that, cowboy?”

“I thought it might symbolize my resistance to accepting my Indian blood. You seem to have embraced it whole-heartedly but I’m still resisting it. I grew up white and now, in my late thirties, we learn that we’re part Indian? It’s a bit much, non? And it’s a serious hit, enough at least to cause a paradigm shift. So I’ve been keeping the whole thing at bay. After all, we’re only about one-sixteenth Red Man or something like that.”

“So then the dream is showing you that you should embrace your Indian side.”

“Well, yeah. Once I decided to help clean up the blood, the Indian with the cheekbones and the two kids responded positively to me. Showing respect is a big deal in native culture, isn’t it? So when I changed, the searing pain in my arm ceased. Once I stopped walking away from the issue and treated the natives – and by extension the native way of life – with respect, I was treated with respect. Or in other words, once I respected the notion of being Métis, the pain disappeared.”

Highly sallassie,” he says pensively.

“Perhaps the Creator is telling me to go native like you?”

“Or is showing you the way to healing the anger in your heart.” Exposed and naked, I feel like I’m in a fishbowl for others to see, but for some reason that I cannot see. It’s all a bit close to the bone for me so we finish our beers and explore Whitehorse. In the Arctic air, we walk to the Belvedere Hotel, the place where David Miller played with his band many years ago, which is also the oldest-looking tavern in downtown. After quaffing many beers in Remy’s camper, the last part of the walk we are arm-and-arm and swaying in exaggerated turns, like a meandering stream. We both have drunk our share of beer and the alcohol has gone a long way to ease my anxiety about satellites and FUBAR radar. Pausing for a moment when we get to the wooden doors of the tavern, we both straighten our posture and walk into the bar trying to look relatively sober. The long drive north has exhausted me. We sit at a table in front of a band on stage.

Remy is full of beans and can’t sit still.

“Well, we made it,” he says. A band is playing on the stage.

“We have indeed.” I’m flat and deflated so Remy jumps up and starts bopping up and down like a yo-yo on the dance floor with a little brunette swinging her hips. His dancing technique is infectious: halfway through the song there are a half dozen people on the dance floor but by the end of the song there are a dozen people up there being as silly as Remy. He is in rhythm and in his flow and his body has become one with the guitar so he twangs himself like he is at the mercy of the music and completely dedicated to the beat. The band plays several encores and there is Remy’s head going up and down, clearly the tallest of all the dancers in front of the stage. But he has a slight bend in his posture that makes him stand out from the rest, like the Hopi God of mischief Kokopelli. I can’t help feeling sad as I watch him from the table and nurse my beer witnessing such a brash display of his freedom of self – a man centered and accepting of his true self.

Where does it come from?

Am I too sinned with pride to let loose like that?

During one of the breaks Remy talks to the keyboardist and they go out for a smoke with a few of the band members. When they come back and hit the stage they jump into a cool riff and then the guitarist strums a series of solos that has the keyboardist shaking his head up and down looking at Remy who is like a malleable pogo-stick the way he dodges the beat and leans back as if someone if pulling his hair. “Houy! Hiiiiigh!” he yells. Grunts and groans are smothered by the notes blasting out of the Gibson and the bass in the midst of smashing percussion that hammers home the groove and lights spray to the corners of the saloon and come back to the dance floor as if controlled by Remy’s fingertips. His head balls around, hair all over the place, and his feet move as if governed by Bacchus himself. People are drawn to him like metal to a magnet: a hub of energy that those around him feed off gaining some elixir of life like the magic potion of Getafix of Gaul that makes you levitate against gravity and look down on that other life that holds you back and doesn’t let you breathe. Like birds around a feeder they suck from Remy and bask in his light offering no acknowledgment that it is he who is giving them the excuse to shed their skin and master The Now. This is his bar, his place and tonight Whitehorse is his city but Remy doesn’t live in a town or city, he lives in the country in its entirety. Five thousand kilometres of traveling and sleeping in his camper and he is single-handedly energizing the whole pub. People who see him bouncing around say this is where the party is; Whitehorse, the Yukon, this band, this bar, right now is all Remy knows. This is the movie and tomorrow doesn’t exist – the iron is hot right now! He bounces right up to the singer on the stage and bellows lyrics of a cover song he knows by heart and I hear the signature cadence of his voice coming from the speakers in all four corners of the saloon. Even the old timers and regulars at the long bar turn and watch the sudden party that has sprung up spoking outwards from one lone figure with the big head and long hair all over the place. The song goes on as some extended remix with more guitar solos and the keyboardist going crazy with an arm flailing like Remy. I can see Remy’s medicine bundle flopping up and down on his hip from his belt that follows his movements and smokers come out of the smoking room and follow the buzz on the dance floor. The floor is over-flowing now and the air is thick with screaming guitars and lights flashing and drumsticks whipping the skins all balanced on a bass riff that holds the entire precipice afloat with one tall dancer a beacon of energy emitting joy without a care in the world.

I, on the other hand, sit in the corner with droopy posture and piercing shoulder pain unable to shake a profound sadness in my heart. Yes, I think to myself, we’re both mirror extremists, one in the north and the other in the south.

[1] Twinspeak for ‘claustrophobic’ – the last syllable of the word with a ‘y’ for the ‘o.’

[2] Twinspeak for ‘turning right.’ Contrast with ‘Louie,’ which is to ‘turn left.’

[3] ‘Onion bun’ is used a lot in our Twinspeak, and it means ‘opinion without the p,’ or how one feels about something.

[4] ‘Bun’ is a shortened form of ‘onion bun.’ Here it means what we are after; that thing we are looking for.

[5] Sometimes we use thee German ‘mein’ for the English ‘my’ just to be silly.

[6] ‘Plan Z’ is Twinspeak for alcohol.

[7] ‘Plan W’ can also mean drugs as a general term. In this case it refers to ‘ice.’

[8] ‘Duddy’ is Twinspeak for ‘beard,’ from the novel The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, – the protagonist Duddy Kravitz shaved twice a day to encourage his beard growth.

[9] ‘Aguey’ is Twinspeak for something special or stylistic about a person, from the French ‘accent ague.’

[10] ‘Turb’ is the shortened form of the word ‘turbulence,’ a well-used word among us.

[11] ‘Tech’ is the shortened form of ‘technology,’ which can mean any form of intoxicant.

[12] ‘Goosey’ is Twinspeak for ‘excited,’ from the root ‘goose pimples.’

[13] ‘Plan T’ is Twinspeak for ‘good-looking woman.’

[14] ‘Soccer’ is Twinspeak for ‘asking if you have some snot hanging out your nose.’ There is no relationship between the word and the question, and is therefore perfect to ascertain if you have something hanging out of your nose.

[15] ‘Plan X’ is the ultimate plan: it’s when you ‘Plan A a Plan T who is Plan W or Plan Z and Plan F.’

[16] ‘Inge Hammerstrom’ is Twinspeak for ‘stay away from my girl.’ In this case it tells me he is focusing on the woman he is speaking with so I should keep my distance.

[17] ‘Plan F’ is Twinspeak for ‘having sex.’

[18] ‘Gazelle’ is Twinspeak for ‘traveling somewhere.’

[19] ‘Floatie’ is Twinspeak for spitting though in this case it is not meant in a derogatory way.