Wordcarpenter Books

Chapter Eighteen

The Boy Fascist

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            Is the hope of love more powerful than love? Does not the hope of new love buoy the spirit and raise the bar of possibility? Does it not destroy despair by supplanting darkness with the warmth of a rising sun? Don't you begin to believe that your qualities can be recognized by a kindred soul? Does it not reinforce your faith in your true self and your choice of path in life? Does it not give you inspiration and hope for the future?

            Like finding hieroglyphics without the Rosetta Stone, countless women have attracted Noble but none like Silvia who he met at Finn's.

            When he met the one he knew immediately, not because of a match or a perfect fit into his expectations or desired stereotype, it was based on her having the one primary attribute or character trait that he desired most so that her entire orientation cascaded around that one trait. Silvia didn't have any guile. This dominant characteristic was like an elixir, purity so rare that it acted like a magnet. He absolutely wanted to be with her, an attraction with such force that he had to care for that one bright light in a world that had always been dark.

            Silvia, smooth skin like ivory, hair the color of root beer with earnest eyes the same hue, cheekbones sharp and prominent. Eyes showing no guile, her lips thin. It was Reno who broke the ice but his gamble at humor backfired. Trying to be witty, he said he hoped she was Dutch and not German. Noble cringed but Reno slugged it off thinking it was par for the course to say the wrong thing to an attractive woman right off the bat. So he persevered.

            Reno ordered the same White Russian that she was drinking, knowing full well it was a good conversation piece since it was made with powdered milk. Thick and sweet like a milkshake. A few words and then more words led to a full-blown conversation. Reno played it cool, drawing her in from her friends, Noble in awe of the power of Reno's character. He saw a newly developed gravitas working, a newfound freedom emancipated him from the awkward tongue-tied drill that would have followed in the face if such beauty. His first point of recovery was pointing out that his great grandfather was from Hanover.

            "And yet you said you preferred Dutch." Playful yet purposeful, brown eyes giving him her full attention.

            "Well, I was only saying that I've never met a bad Dutchman in all my life, that's all. Coy. A slight grin. Her skin pale and like silk, her noticing Reno's undisguised interest.

            "Oh, I've met some Dutch that were not so good." She turned her attention to Noble and ignored her taller girlfriends and bearded Argentinean.

            "Might be a Texan thing," he said, wondering if she really could be interested. They spoke about South America and he assumed she was a recent arrival.

            "No, no. I've been here fourteen months," she said. When she told him she worked for an NGO he saw an opening. Reno didn't hold back.

            "You know what would be my ultimate job?" She leaned in closer. "To work for the Red Cross and travel around the world helping Americans who were in jail. You know, expats stuck in prison. Give them care packages and books and things they want, Burns me to think there are so many cool people locked up for the most minor offences, forgotten and overlooked. In a perfect world that's what I'd really like to do." Her expression a combination of surprise, awe, profound understanding and a smidgen of gushing.

            "I do something similar to that," she replied. Reno, bold and adhering to his beliefs and gut, went on.

            "See the thing is I have an open ticket. I have the freedom now that I didn't have before."

            "What-"

            "I'm a landlord now. I've always thought having a monthly income was the best way to live life and give me the flexibility to travel the world and experience what lie has to offer." Sylvia put her hand on his forearm, sending a thrill through him.

            ‘And when I find my true love we will bring the kids with us all over the world, local schools, major empirical data, because we live in an international world. The kids would speak five different languages by the time they were twenty." Enraptured and stupefied, as if discovering someone she always existed, she blurted:

            "Will you marry me?" In the silence Paul McCartney sang and people all around them were busy talking and laughing, he feared it was a joke. But Reno saw something in her eyes - an abandon, a leap, a young girl showing courage at the words and archetype she had seen many times in her dreams. He was careful not to be cavalier.

            "Okay, I'll marry you." 

            "I'm serious you know. Five kids is good."

            "Six would be better." Reno flippant.

            "Five is good," she said, coming closer to him, seeing that they were a perfect match.

            "We get married and we go anywhere we want with the kids." He was thrilled and scared but not suspicious, confident Reno had said his piece simply and honestly.

            "Las Vegas?" Lame.

            "No, here in Quito. All we need are two witnesses."

            "I have one," he said, immediately thinking of the Dane.

            "Me too." They smiled at each other, considering the possibility seriously for the first time. He felt a flutter and enjoyed the tingling sensation at the brutal frankness of this German, seeing no sign of guile.

            "I've never asked anyone that before." He pondered the simplicity of the proposal, the acknowledgment of the chemistry, the torment of her search and the great relief it posited for him. To bypass the games and the courting and the second-guessing seemed so Reno. But he didn't feel fear, only a profound stirring. Noble thought to himself: how unsick. How crisp. She's perfect for me; a woman who knew she wanted to live the exact life he had described. It cannot be true he thought as a means of protection, but she went on.

            "You like five kids?"

            "Five is good, yes."

            "And we can go all over the world with them?"

            "That's the ideal."

            "And we marry here in Quito?"

            "Why not?" He was amazed to see how utterly happy she was. The time for admitting it was a joke had passed. They hugged. Her pheromones perfect.

            Silvia turned to her friends.

            "We're going to be married."

            "You need witnesses," her friend said.

            "I have one, a Dane." They looked at each other and laughed. It was then that Noble thought the joke had been played on the notoriously gullible Noble.

            "Why don't we get married in Centro Historica at the Compana de Jesus?"

            "Where? Oh you mean the Compana Iglesias?" her friend asked.

            "Yeah, the one with seven tons of gold on the walls. I mean have you seen a church like that?"

            "Perfect. It's beautiful." Sylvia squeezed his hand and kissed him. Dumfounded, for a moment Reno was speechless, a rarity of the extreme. Countless thoughts raced through his mind. Nervously he took out his cigarettes, toying with them.

            "Shall we go out for a cigarette?" Sylvia read his mind. Relieved that she was a smoker.

            It was when we were outside smoking, with the cold rainy air on his face that he feared guile but also experienced the heady magic of chemistry, knowing that he wanted to make this woman happy. He simply could not come up with a reason why this woman would toy with him.

            "I will be here tomorrow," she said, "at four."

            "Okay, I'll come by." She nodded as if it were the only course of action.

            A little while she left with her friends, leaving him scared and spinning, and in an animated state of disbelief. Noble didn't want to return to his guesthouse so he sat quietly at the bar pondering the whole episode.

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            Just as he had thought love was an illusion spun by poets and exaggerated by writers for dramatic effect, Noble knew now that love was real, a natural and everlasting intoxicant for the heart that balances life's waltz toward the end point of ones mortality, an enhancing force that was a constant reminder of the inherent thrill in the everyday, a witness to the joys and achievements and a support when trouble and sadness marred ones chosen path.

            The shadow of loneliness evaporated, and the dark whispers of the ghost of misery ceased, bringing sunshine from the clouded sky. He knew that now, but he hadn't before. Instead comforted in his desolation, and fictitious in his belief that his abject bitterness and resignation from participating in life was righteous and safe, he whispered to himself that just getting through unscathed was the wiser course of action.

            "Bullshit," he mumbled.

            Protecting himself from self-incrimination of this truth was now his task. Choosing to engage in all of what life had to offer, he thought, was how he would be able to continue without slashing and stoning himself to death by his own hand.

 


 

Chapter Nineteen

Artistas

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            These were Noble's thoughts when he awoke the next morning.

            Despite sober doubts in the morning and a sleep fitful with words, images of George Custer and a trail leading to a broken heart, there was no way he was going to pass up the chance to see Sylvia at four o'clock at the pub. Chances slim or perhaps nil, the potential pain of not knowing by a no show would be too painful to pass up. The voice of Reno finally trumped Noble's rational and timid approach and decided to spend the early afternoon hours in La Rhonda, the narrow street where writers and musicians and bohemians made their home in the 1930s. There was a groovy historical vibe that appealed to him, a place where he could eat real indigenous food and drink hot Naranjilla. It was strong and bordering on rancid that he only managed to hits and in the process ended up with an aching headache.

            It started to rain and a guitarist stepped into the café to save his guitar. He didn't sit. He simply started strumming in crisp strikes and sang in a beautiful baritone. Anything but shy, the voice came from that holy place, strong and clear and soothing, he spread his audio medicine and profound poise. He knew he was good. He was happy singing in the small café, uninvited, spontaneous and at a proud throaty volume. He had to have a sub-woofer in his lungs. Reno clapped after each song, nodded and smiled. There were three people in the café. Cool recognized cool. There was no man better than this traveling musician, an artista of expertise but just another Ecuadorian in a worked-in leather jacket. Four, five songs, the downpour stopped, he walked to each table without any embarrassment, saying he played for donations. Reno slipped him a fiver. The eye-to-eye nod, shared souls, both brothers of art, all in a glance. Centered, no words required.

            "You're a writer?" Reno nodded, pen in hand, journal open. "You are an artista. Ah, writing very good."

            "Your musica muy bien amigo," said Reno. There was that look, an acknowledgment that they each knew they were good, that they both knew the lonely hours it took to get there, that mutual knowing that they had chosen an original path, a lonely path, a path only for the few. And in that moment they were both proud and humble, an achievement and laurel, enough from each to refuel and face the world that was full of ignorance and petty problems, a people focusing on what wasn't important; a knowledge that they were the ones who could help, heal and enhance all those who looked down their nose at them until they experienced their respective creations.

            It was the first time Reno had ever truly been called an artist, a writer, a moustache and beret, a pen dancing across a blank page still listening to the perfectly tuned guitar, foot thumping, body slightly in beat to the magic coming from this kindred spirit's hands, like a mason or watchmaker but whose creation was intangible and fleeting, making the tick-tock of time magical, enjoyable and full of emotion. Songs of struggle and independence, of lost love and tragedy but the last song laden with soft hope, understood beyond language, a language universal to the heart, the sound of mourning and understanding and finally redemption.

            Reno pondered after he left, the chances of the rainfall, the urgent need to remain dry, the choice of playing spontaneously, the crossing of paths and the subtle communication between them that gave rise to a flawless set. An otherwise humdrum afternoon racked with nerves at the thought of seeing Sylvia, or of being stood up, now soothed, confident and centered, excited to see what this German woman had to say, to check her sincerity, to taste her character, the upside tremendous, the downside now of no concern.

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            In the taxi to meet Silvia at Finn's, Reno thought about love. Then he spoke to the cab driver who.

            "I'm going to meet my woman," he said, sitting up in the seat.

            "Bueno. A good woman?"

            "Muy bonita!" Then he spoke in earnest: "Sometimes it's not the magic you create together; it's about the magic you experience in your own heart when you're with her. You fumble just when you demand perfection from yourself. Man always falls short in the presence of overwhelming beauty."

            "Si hombre. Si."

            "Fear of the wrong step hinders the free step, that coordinated gesture with grace. The power in her throttles and thrills, the power that she feels but cannot see. You can see it but others cannot."

            "Si." The taxi driver nodded.

"Natural beauty, the curl of the lip, the fall of the hair, the steady eye of truth, a purity of self earned from trial and error, the wrinkle of knowledge lightly etched exactly where it should, the sacred geometry manifest; it all means you can't let her go!"

            "Bueno." The cab pulled in front of Finn's. The front doors closed. He checked his watch. He had half an hour before the doors closed. He waited on the sidewalk eating burritos for an hour but there was no Sylvia. An old ache replaced the fire in his heart, and his hopes were splashed with ice-cold water. It was a door and it needed to be opened.

 
 

Table of Contents

  1. The Divine Elbow
  2. Just Surviving As Noble Intent
  3. Surpassing Neophobia
  4. The Middle of the World
  5. The Dane
  6. The Religion of Sfauism
  7. Celebrating Chemistry
  8. Connected Columbians
  9. Stuntmen and Dakar Motorcycle Groupies
  10. Into Amazon Waters
  11. A Beautiful Repressive Niche
  12. Canalazo de Naranilla
  13. Cajunes el grande
  14. A Noble Doppelgänger
  15. Reno Finds His Footing
  16. How to Make a Bomb Out of a Light Bulb
  17. The Impossible Black Lily
  18. The Boy Fascist
  19. Artistas
  20. The Art of Death
  21. The Earthquake Virgin
  22. Lambaster of Laughter
  23. The Sweet Cadence of Scheudenfreunden
  24. Matador: the Agent of Destiny
  25. Overfilling
  26. Mobile Piping
  27. Aristotle’s Character Years
  28. The Great Pilgrimage
  29. A Purpose for Your Sins
  30. Errol Flynn
  31. The Better Man
  32. The Addict’s Ladder
  33. The African Club
  34. The Dutch Hair Piece
  35. The Swiss Army Knife
  36. The Scent of Ammonia
  37. At the Mouth of the Amazon
  38. Broken and Renewed
  39. Seizing the Moment
  40. A Recent Past Discovered
  41. Pinned and Threatened by Fate
  42. Twice as Much in Half the Time
  43. The Assassination
  44. The Pledge
  45. Slandering Hamlet
  46. Stealing Time
  47. Hannibal at the Gates
  48. On the Old Contraband Trail

                  Epilogue

 

 
 

 

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