Lost in every way, Juice followed the boy.  Haiphong was bewildering, hostile, the old monks there had refused to help him, the boy ushered him into a squalid chamber, men lay about, and the air had a rich earthy scent like no other tobacco Juice had come across. As he rested on the bamboo mat, Juice breathed deeply, had he found, finally the Thuoc Lao he had been seeking?

This was unlike the shisha lounges and tearooms of Syria and Turkey, no rattling of dice, no chatter, a stillness and that earthy manure-like smoke that filled the air was becoming less pleasant, but more enticing. He breathed deeply and inhaled on the long wooden pipe the boy offered to him, suddenly seeming far older than his years as he stared into Juice’s eyes. Juice coughed, wheezed for air and the boy urged him to inhale, again and once more until Juice’s eyes fell shut (though he didn’t realise they had) and he was stood gazing into a chrysanthemum, which unfurled, pinks, yellows, blues, colours he couldn’t explain. The taste, was….

And the drone, a deep buzz increasing as the chrysanthemum opened to reveal a bee, as big as Juice, but Juice felt no fear, for the first time since he had disembarked in Cam Ranh. This bee was weak, benign, benevolent even, and Juice knew it meant him no harm, even as it began to rise turning towards him. The Bee was dying, as they regarded each other, they both knew this was inevitable, winter was coming, leaves falling around them and there was a connection, a tranquil serenity Juice had seen before, as he’d sat and watched people die in his presence.

 

final lone bee

Also common was a wisdom, a whole lifetime leading to enlightenment. Juice wasn’t surprised as the bee hovered, and spoke to him, seeming unconcerned about her impending death she cared for Juice. ‘Return to the path Juice, the path shows us the way, the path leads to our destination’

Before Juice could ask anything of the Bee she began to move hovering sluggishly, and golden green eggs dropped behind her; no longer in control of his actions he reached out to the eggs. ‘You are not your father Juice, but he lives in you, he lives through you’ and Juice could think only of Him, who lives in us all. As the Bee settled peace fell over them and Juice took the egg, biting into it with a crunch. The Bee accepted her fate and Juice wondered whether this was a dream. He knew it wasn’t, even as the egg (apparently a Pearmain) seemed to have a life of its own and confused, Juice watched as it cracked, to reveal a child,a baby, a shining plump child. This baby had a greater wisdom, and more love, more compassion than Juice had ever witnessed. This Golden Child was the key, would find the path Juice had strayed from. The Bee lay, empty, and as the chrysanthemum faded Juice knew this was the most important moment of his life….

He looked at the glimmering, glittering child, this was Love,  was this.. God??? The child looked up, born of a Bee, and Juice looked into the eyes, the eyes of ‘Father!’ ‘Father Gallon!’

 

 

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