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Chapter Twenty-six

Mobile Piping


            Wait, wait, wait and then wait some more, then all your pokers in the fire will ripen together all in a bottleneck of time. There is a surreal serendipity to this coincidence of time as if invisible forces had been restricted until there is alignment so a nexus opens up, which allows a bundle of forces to finally move forward in tandem. How you act as you exercise patience is the measure of a man's character. It is when time slows down and bunches up that your temperament is tested, as if the sands of the hourglass were blood red. It there grace or hurried awkwardness? Are there manners or rudeness? Are there poise and confidence or nervousness and self-consciousness? Is one whole and complete or fractured and frustrated? And if there is wholeness and calm, how is it achieved? Is it a mental trick of perspective to time, a mental discipline to ignore the bunching up and slowing down of time? Is it this sort of trickery that lies behind the mastering of patience? Or is it a belief in the mechanics and physics in the movement of life?

            These were Noble's thoughts as he sipped his coffee in the courtyard of his Swiss hostel. He put down his Keith Richards biography and stared past the palm tree. The only solution for shortness of breath in Quito was to descend to the coast where the sea breeze will fill the lungs. Manta, Canoa and Montanita are all calling, more oxygen per square inch than the thin air here. He thirsted for the beach.


            Within the hour the bus departed for the coast. Felt good to be on the move again, squeezing out between glances, on a day when many would be in the office.

            The Banana Leaf God lived in the flush steepness of the Andes. Mile after mile of massive soil deposits carved by the gravity of water, like splinters separated by uncrossable gullies.  Produced during the Great Andean Spilt, these cut-by-the-rain heaps of earth make inhabitation impossible.

            Reno blamed it on the design of the bus that it lent itself to such consumption of tech on his pipe. Hidden and helped by an open window and having great positioning in the back corner, Reno dipped down and flicked his lighter trying his best to ignite any residue in his pipe. There was plenty and he blew it out the window with no one the wiser. Reno couldn't curtail his curiosity so he immediately assembled a pipe. It was so flawless in execution that it spurned a whole bevy of well-executed smokeless pipes. Reno said yes to his pipe all afternoon down the Andes and past long-spraying waterfalls and inches away from guard rails on the lip of corners, branches smacking his window and the wheels skidding off the inside curb washed away by runoff. Favorable skidding well angled, Reno soon could feel the hug, like it was a tug. Only in the foothills do the sheer drop of the forested mountains mellow, where Noble saw banana trees everywhere. When sunset came he consumption went way down, but he had never had such an experience on a bus before. He felt safe with the door to the driver closed and the curtains drawn, his head out the window taking in the smells of the equatorial mountains.

            The entire afternoon Reno engaged in his pipe, passengers oblivious to his piping, increasing in increments and severity. His smile magnified the more he smoked, sneaking a packed pipe as the towns passed by outside his window, increasing his high, his sense of mischief, his getting-away-with sense of his grand adventure, garnering muted chuckling that left him grinning a hollow grin, no wingman or soulmate to share his accumulating achievements. Each time the pipe was packed with the bed of tobacco from the end of a cigarette and topped with the endless baggie of yellowish power that was the acid that burned his throat and gave him the flush he so craved. A one-man party, he flourished in his deviousness in the face of descending the awesome Andes on his way towards the Pacific Ocean. If only he could share his stunt; mobile piping el grande, unbelieved to be possible yet with every passing mile growing in consumption, an endless hedonistic bus ride with the driver hidden behind the closed door that shut him off the aisle and his people. This was a trip to get him off the pipe yet the transportation yielded the opportune gap to smoke - and smoke he did. Over and over again. How could he engage with such abandon? He didn't ask himself that question. He simply smoked. The slight crack in the window being his way out and his methodology. It was if God had given him the means to take his rebellion further. He didn't question the set-up; he only seized it. It had been too many years of letting pass him by.

            The sea air thick in the port city Manta, the panacea to his ills. No Irish Pub in town, Reno found a bar with a mural of John Lennon on the patio, a safety zone. He would be joining John, Jim and Jimmy in the Early Exit. For some reason the Dane's Upper Man popped into his mind. These were his thoughts: the Upper Man is not only ones doppelgänger, it is the combined best of both the boy inside the man and ones doppelgänger into a synthesis of selves, when each boy and rascal is in the reign of the Upper Man. Full employment of ones Upper Man is a tricky beast to tame because it likes to take charge. What defines an Upper Man is his extreme objectivity that he contributes effectively, mired not in judgment of others but only judgment of deed, action treated as if on a higher level. Talking but not doing is for the tarantulas and the Small Man, but blood, sweat and coordination was the language of the Upper Man, for it is the Upper Man who can get things done.

            Noble wrote down some words on the beer-coaster:

                The Upper Man respects strength through action

                The Upper Man sees normalcy with contempt

                The Upper Man has no guile

                The Upper Man knows the boundaries beyond

                The Upper Man employs clear, concise language

                The Upper Man always helps a man in need

                The Upper Man recognizes other Upper Men, whether male or female

                The Upper Man marches to his own rhythm

                The Upper Man never speaks negatively about others

                The Upper Man believes open-mindedness is primary pillar

                The Upper Man is modest because of the depth of his abilities

                The Upper Man does not hear what others say about him

                The Upper Man holds laughter is valued above all

                The Upper Man values justice or reason

                The Upper Man masters time utilization


            The hypothesis turned out to be correct. Lungs fuller of oxygen and the shortness of breath gone, he slept like the dead in Manta.



Chapter Twenty-seven

Aristotle's Character Years


             The execution of action toward an idea is an act of freedom, self and selfless, a true freedom of movement in no way hindered by outside forces or the critical eyes of others. It is pure unselfconsciousness and the key to full enjoyment of the journey to the matador's sword. The magic lies in the means of action. Noble mulled over this as he watched the waves hammer into the shore.

            For the first hour in Canoa Noble had hovered around his pipe and map in his hotel room, groggy from the rich air. It wasn't until he reached the beach that he had his deja vous. The laziness in the slow movement of palm trees, and the sand around the corner bar at the end of the pavement he had seen before in a dream. It was a small corner of the earth arranges in the right way. A great relief spread over him, and restored faith in the importance of reading the signs. There had to be a reason why he traveled down 9000 feet of the country to land specifically here, where a rustic charm rings an ancient bell. A sand dune enclave on the equator where waves crash on the sandy shores, palm trees lined in a row protecting the hostels and bars. No matter what utopia is described, it must include sand and palms and sea. He had found oro verde.

            The white soup pushed in rolling curves and toppled into the shallows, a repository of the wet dust of rock. Two big pelicans glided over the soup inches from the spray, wings pinched-in and holding, a flap or two above the crest and then back skimming the white broth. Aerodynamic Migrants hovered near the sand cliffs that defined the beach like bookends. The north cliff jutted out into the water creating a pocket for twenty miles of straight shores of sand beach to San Vincente. It faced directly into the sunset over Pacific waters in a north-south longitude on the equator where the sun dropped at the same time everyday all year. It had to be one of Earth's most richly endowed natural beaches in the middle of the world. Surrounded by hills of sand and cacti and palm trees into a natural waterway cut by storms that reached into the valley running east between the hills.

            Canoa had good Feng Shui.

            Near the end of the day a hand-glider hovered beside the skinny-winged Migrants, savoring the bird's-eye view of the soup and surfers and feeling the sub-woofers on the beach bang out rhythms of soul in their wings. After hours of hovering, the glider slowly moved over the beach and watched the volleyballers dive and roll in the sand. Two hundred feet in the air he circled in using the sound and feel of the air.

            Noble walked down to the end of the beach as the fell behind the distant horizon, the orange rays reflecting briefly off the shimmering surface, the orange melting into rose and then purple shadowed by the clouds above. It was if he was in a time vortex, where the balance of the sea matched the power of gravity so that there was no extra spin, no misallocation of nature's forces, kissing at the halfway point between magnetic poles. Weightless and relaxed, and intoxicated by the air, Noble thought he might like to retire here, or at least have a home base. Whenever a utopia is discussed, it must include sand and palms and sea. Something comforting about this spot in South America.

            So Noble determined his task was to adapt. But in doing so, he thought: but there is an old stubbornness in the selves that govern a man's inner government, a chorus of bitter old men resistant to change, thinking entities with proven and tested belief systems. Inertia was the obstacle, not close-mindedness. No man is unable to tweak. But only few can face their fears in the eye and become a complete man, an Upper Man, a fusion of selves that can silence the critic within. Caution has to be thrown aside, and all cynical voices banished from your inner auditorium. If having a more profound depth of engagement in life increased what Aristotle called character years, then you evolve more in the same amount of time as someone else the same age. If one could harness more out of the everyday instead of too much time spent just getting by, then ones character years grow. Canoa is a groovy enough place for any man to flourish.

            He sat on the sand and stared to the horizon with the purple hue. Wait, he thought, it's just a difference of being ruled by ones Inner Policeman versus retiring ones Inner Policeman. No, there's more, and so his thoughts went thus: belief in true self versus doubt of true self, self-knowledge versus ignore of self, capability of imagination versus incapability of imagination, learning through instinct versus ignoring of instinct, overcoming fear versus overcome by fear, geography versus domesticity, good chi management versus poor chi management, ability to laugh versus inhibition, use of doppelgänger versus no acknowledgment of doppelgänger, purpose of sinning versus no purpose, evolution versus stagnation, and the wise spending of time versus the foolish spending of time.

            There was something to it. Or was it that easy?

            Noble walked in bare feet along the sand road of the strip and took a seat with Jim Morrison and Chuck Berry at the Surf Shak. Drank pints and wrote in his journal: The Ecuadorian riptide, a different flora, fauna of palms, Inner Policeman drowned and waterlogged, flick of a lighter and eyes aflame, you deserve a little vice after years of playing rules safe, it's your little phase. Geography changes time, justifications in all forms, it's different here, but how does that change you live a day? Nothing can change time, the sage's dictum repeated infinitum, but physical matrix is aligned, a day still a day at zero latitude, yet still is the epitome of a year. To increase the depth of time, the challenge must be met at all costs, with kind-hearted mischief, the cocoa leaf consumed, tweaking curiosity to new heights, an evolution-usurping peace, the thrill coming from knowing it cannot last. Finding the silver thread of time and holding onto it, letting it reveal the way, the path with all the signs, the walk with the greatest harvest. But can geography change time, the bedrock of life force and the flame that sparks, the pathway that opens doors that frees the hand of wit? Is mortal man able to catch a glimpse of his hidden magic, its richness and manifoldness, showing the wisdom of a kind deed, embedding in memory forever? Can man master time, the puzzle of the ages and the riddle to life?

            Just as he had finished writing, Mark the Irishman walked by.

            "Noble? Is that you?"


            "What are you doing here?" His wife and child sat down on the patio.

            "A little vacation from Quito. Thought I'd enjoy the beach." Stared at each other. "You?"

            "I live here mate. That's my place right there." He pointed at the three-story hostel and bar beside the Surf Shak. "Been running that as a pub for four years. Called The Shamrock." Noble, a little burnt from the sun and wobbly from the beer, walked halfway across the street and looked at the bar.

            "It's beautiful man. But it doesn't say The Shamrock. It says..." He couldn't read the spray-painted sign.

            "I know that-" Mark shook his head. "They guy who has run it for the last year changed the name to the Snail's Pace because it was a pun with his name. But no one gets it because no one knows his name. Strange guy. Retired professor from Canada. He's just terminated his lease. Will be out on Sunday."

            "So will you be running it as The Shamrock again?" The palm-leaf roof rustled in the wind.

            "No, looking to rent it out again. Have a few nibbles but nothing yet. Damn shame because people are already stealing stuff."

            "Like what?"

            "Like the water pump. Just had it installed too. Pain in the ass that is. And they took a sink."

            "You need someone to live in there to watch the place for you."

            "That's exactly what I was thinking. Say, you need a place to stay? Free rent." Noble sat back, smiled and stroked his chin.


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





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