The Earthquake Virgin
heart that beats with brotherhood will climb the highest peaks and withstand
the fiercest winds. The man of honor grows with time, points made and debates
won, proven true and fair and clear. For mankind without honor is a hodgepodge
of guile, the philosopher will show honor through deed and word, an intuitive
pillar of virtue impervious to zeitgeist and universal language of mankind. These
were Noble's thoughts when he relaxed at the Pitcher Bar in Plaza Foch.
more ripper than the sun at the beach on the mid-point of the earth, exposing
your skin in Quito through the untainted air and the closeness of the beams,
one experienced the severest ultraviolet radiation in the world. The sun
hammered and scraped skin raw and turned your hair into a flaming nest, as
Noble relaxed with a pitcher of Passion Punch. Having taken a strategic
west-facing table on the patio, the mountaintops were always close to snuffing
out the flame. The minute-long instant the sun was blocked by the
12000-foot peaks, finally the pressing intensity that penetrated the skin began
to cool as if just placed into a refrigerator.
was a strange evening, seeing James and Anthony, the Air Forces guys the night
before their departure back to California. James was one of the smartest people
he had met. Ten years in the US Air Force, he was on assignment in Quito,
living with a local family to help with his total immersion to master Spanish.
He attended classes and was active meeting Ecuadorian Air Force personnel in an
ambassadorial role to identify areas where the local pilots could use more
arms. It was after that night with Diego at Paullina's that James had made an
effort to engage Noble. The first time after seeing him at Paullina's, Noble
said to him:
"That was very
smooth technique how you laid on top of Paullina that night, as Diego and I
drank rum and talked about water. Your execution was graceful and more than
"Good of you
to notice," he said, lighting up like a light bulb. "Well you know she grabbed
my hands." The gap between his front teeth revealed.
you didn't even hesitate."
when you did lie on top of her you didn't just have one leg that was, you know,
kinda half on." The laughter was pure, which set the tone for the night.
another night he joined Noble's team for quiz night. The fifty quiz questions
acted like a catalyst for them to touch on all sorts of subjects, quickly
realizing there was not enough time to tackle all tangents that were left for
the taking, being forced to the next question, ideas and facts dangling above
the table, the Dane having the booming voice.
was a man who could communicate so concisely that nothing was vague and thus
had the ability to inform immense volume of data in a very short time. Words
selected with purpose and the slight acknowledgment that the data was being
received clearly and that with that understanding he could proceed with more
pertinent information. Having spent sixteen months in Special Forces, he
stepped to the rear, focusing on South America and international relations. He
became a liaison man in Chile where he had lived for the past three years and
loved his life in the Air Force. SEALS, helicopters and target-seeking missiles
hitting painted targets, James explained how the missile had a built-in
computer system that mapped major geographical landmarks of the GPS coordinates
and actually slows down to zero in on the precise location of the target.
amazing how it works." He was a man who had found a path in life that provided
him with the things that made him excited, goosey like a child, continually
amazed at the entire world of the US Armed Forces, his high IQ and test scores
making him too valuable to be at the front. James had found his niche, and it
when Noble saw James and Anthony on the patio of Bungalow after leaving the
Passion Punch in Plaza Foch, he didn't know it was the pilots' last
night in Quito.
man watch it!" said James as Reno elbowed him as he walked by. Then the double
thought you left!"
"I've been at
the beach. Canoa. It was cool."
I was hoping to see you. And on my last night here in Ecuador. What are the
question." He put his hand on Noble's shoulder.
have to say dude, you are one of the smartest, most interesting guys I've met."
Noble and Reno had no rebuttal, both bad with blatant compliments. Must have
been all that dormant knowledge from history books that Reno liked to spout
when in his element.
wore a t-shirt, warm and insulated with layers of untainted white muscle, and
Noble wore his leather jacket but he was the one shivering. Then Anthony
appeared on the balcony.
so glad you're here. Man I have to say, you are one hell of an intelligent
dude." He put his hand on his leathered shoulder. "When we spoke you taught me
something. I mean you engaged me in a way that I learned." Again,
unexpected gushing. "I've never met a guy like you. I mean you meet lots of
people but without a doubt you are the most interesting guy I've met." Quiet
and uneasy, Noble was tongue-tied. Reno was dam proud.
took him downstairs to his booth where he had a bottle of rum he had purchased
from the bar. The dance floor was packed.
can hardly wait to retire so I could smoke weed with you. And party a bit more
than just booze." Hot and moist from the dancers, they went back to the
second-floor patio to have a smoke. James was with a number of women.
this guy is one of the smartest dudes I've ever met. Seriously, he's seriously
interesting. An intellect." Reno awkward as the women studied him. Why?
leaving the pilots, Brett the Brit, Paullina, Gabby the blonde Romanian and
Hubert from Quebec. Reno, now loose from the booze and away from the barrage of
comments about his character, was bold enough to splatter some coke on a large
business card. A positive response. Reno did the first hit in a loose and dramatic
fashion, and then passed it around. Everything changed after that. Everyone
chattered, laughed and had a twinkle in their eye. History came up and it was
do you know all this history?" It was the discussion with Hubert about Pierre Radisson
and his role in early North American history.
then the question of where the Normans came from, and Dublin as a Viking fort.
are you? A history major?"
educated," said Paullina. "That's why I can talk to him for hours." Then she
turned to him and said: "By the way, are you going to move in with me? I'm
still looking for a roommate." It was time for him to find an apartment.
at Pacha, it was Hubert who was digging some heavy stuff.
so glad I met you," he said, shaking his head. "The stuff you're saying. I mean
it's wisdom. And it's just what I need. I'll be thinking about it for a
while I'm sure." Then the police raided the club. Even after, when they were at
Paullina's and only Gabby was awake, she said" "You clearly are a genius."
Either Reno was having an impact or it was the jacket and new bifocals.
as he was finishing off the last lines on the table, a deep rumble went up his
legs. He thought it was a heavy truck going by but there was no sounds of
traffic. He stood up.
you feel that?" The Romanian's eyes were wide open and she smiled. Noble looked
at the window and saw it shaking. The building shook for ten seconds. "Was
earthquake?" The Romanian enjoyed seeing the look on his face.
that's weird." Noble was slightly crouched, as if that was going to do
any good. He had read about earthquakes in books but had never experienced
one. And that was the thing: experiencing an earthquake was different than how
he had imagined it would be.
have many earthquakes in Texas?" When he had determined that it was over, he
still felt a knot of fear in his gut.
Not many earthquakes from where I'm from." She sat there grinning. He had no
idea what the protocol was.
That's exactly what I was." She kept the smile so he took his cue and
brought her back to his guesthouse for a deeper discussion on the dynamics of
tectonics and the earth's crust shifting. The tutorial lasted for hours.