The Dutch Hair Piece
firmness of step and the power of a man centered within his character come only
after many timid steps and awkward bursts, the entry fee to a lifelong
discovery of ones true self. Noble thought that he might have reached a point
of center whereby he knows his character and has amalgamated Reno and Noble and
had reached the point of the Upper Man, he who knows all selves in the soul.
straightened his posture and walked towards Frank and Michael on the corner of
the Corner Pub. He wore layers of shirts to hide his emaciated frame, the cut
on his cut from the horse red and purple. He knapsack was heavy with rum for
Toné and Coke and beers for himself. Birthday present and sunglasses and pipe -
sure if you were going to make it," said Michael, crisp handshake, bright red
shirt pressed and trousers clean.
what the cat dragged in," said Frank, eyes watery and puffy, cigarette smoke
dry and lined like his face.
to pick some goodies," he said, putting his bag on the sidewalk. Strange to
wait beside the usual hangout when it's closed.
waiting on Milton."
be here in thirty minutes," said Frank, suede jacket crisp in the afternoon
had a truck so we can go with him."
knows where it is ‘cause I sher don't!" Thirty minutes standing on the corner
in that case I think I'll relax on the patio down there by the palm tree."
we met you that night?"
the one. Come over when he's here, or I can keep an eye open from there."
Michael looked at his watch, Frank's curiosity tweaked.
minutes, that's enough for a pint. I think I'll join you," said Michael.
here," said Frank, hunching over at the patio.
local football team La Liga won the Ecuadorian championship against their
archrival, fans beeping their horns and waving flags, most in La Liga jerseys.
that they won, otherwise there would have been a riot. Serious grudge match
with Cuenca. That's where my family lives. Where the family home it so I'm a
Cuenca supporter. Good I'm going to Toné's tonight. It's easier for me not to
make a comment to a La Liga fan if I'm out of the bars."
be some fans at the Dutchman's tonight."
It'll be Dutch and Ecuadorians. Doubt if they'll be any talk about it. Besides,
it's the old man's fifty-three-and-a-third Birthday." Michael took a long swig
leaving foam on his lip. "You know the story behind fifty-three-and-a-half?"
Noble shook his head.
it something about being halfway to a hundred-and-three?"
but that comes from the story behind it." Michael started to smile. "One day,
after six weeks off having a swollen lymph node he walks into the doctor with a
fever of a hundred-and-six. The doctor says: ‘I need to lance that immediately,
it will break the fever. That stuff must come out.' But Toné says: ‘Okay but I
need to go home first and make sure my dog is okay. You know, tell the
neighbors.' ‘No! The doctors says, it's imperative we open that festering boil
before it kills you young man!' But no, Toné picks up his bag and cycles home
half an hour, talks to his neighbor to take care of his dog, and cycles back to
the doctor with a temperature of a hundred-and-six degrees. I'm telling ya. So
his friends afterwards said to him if he can do that with a one-o-six fever
then you're going to live ‘til you're a-hundred-and-seven."
house was huge on a natural shelf of rock, bar built in the Dutch fashion, a
separate building like a garage but devoted entirely to memories made in there.
Outside bar and tables, a band and food, the grass as green as possible.
Are you well?" The Dutchman full smile, rum in hand and hat over bald head.
White suit, fully cocked, could not have been more in his element.
well as can be expected." Handed him the bottle of twenty-year-old rum. "This
is for you. Happy fifty-three-and-a-half birthday Mister Dutch Man." His
hand crushed by the Dutchman's, muscled and tendoned by an extraterrestrial
gene pool. That was when Toné took notice of his color, the patchy green skin
on the face, the fingers like toothpicks, pink bags under the eyes. Fragile.
you Noble. Beverage? You're going to love this band." But the Dutchman knew he
was too weak, the mass of his body a third smaller, chest disintegrated, voice
firm but lacking moxie. Noble didn't follow his few steps to the live band by
the fence, just stodd there in his leather, happy to be part of this exclusive
party in the mountains of Quito, full of flower experts, traders wives and
girlfriends. But what made Toné different was his sensitivity under the
"Let me show
you the bar. You will like it." They walked slowly down the grade to the door.
Something occurred to Noble at that moment, a knowledge that it would be the
last time such a memory were to happen, and perhaps true knowledge of what time
was. He had to start letting go, face those last moments with faith that time
will keep on going for others, and that at least he had had some good times.
Memories to bring to the afterlife in that dimension that none can see. It was to
be his last party, the last time he would step into a bar, this one a Dutch
masterpiece, the bar at the end of the universe, in of all places: Quito
chest seized, causing him to breathe in. His throat caught and he shuddered,
tears like salted lava muting an emotive outburst at this realization.
Witnessed to no one except the Dutchman and a hummingbird, a convergence of
three in a moment in time. The threshold was coming. He had to start letting
go. He had to face the pain and accept its sting. He lifted his head and
straightened his shoulders, reaching Toné's height but just a flake of a man
next to the Dutchman.
it was Aaron Noble-now-Reno Noble-Upper Man's last shindig, he was supplied
with the best tech, up all night, playing the best songs, drinking the best
beer and rum, the last man standing after the last of the tall Dutchmen left
for the night. Supplied with everything he needed, the music was loud, the ice
was still frozen, the seven-year old rum plentiful, and a deep welling in his
heart was struggling to the surface that needed attention. With no paper, he
found a carboard box and ripped sheets from it, finding a pen he was set to let
the emotion out, a thank you for Toné's subtle acknowledgement of his affliction.
He thought Toné would be the one he would confess to if it came to that. He
hadn't figured out exactly why he had chosen to tell Toné about his affliction,
other than it felt right. He didn't want to wreck his friendship with the Dane
in any way and Toné had a quality to him that made him feel safe. In a sense he
was already grateful that he could tell him so in reaction to that release he
had not yet had, he penned some lines for the inventer of the black lily.
next morning Michael was the first one up, having slept in the side room in the
bar. Then Toné emerged morning drink in hand.
feel like calling it a night. Bar's too cool. Must be the perfect bar if
there's such a thing."
you'd be here." The words like tonic to his stoned mind and paranoia of death
kingering around the corner.
know when it's going to be your last." The Dutchman looked deeper into his
bloodshot eyes, turquoise blur, purpose clear: savoring every piece of time he
fifty-three is good enough." Sleep in his eyes, awareness between the lines,
steady and true.
was thinking about that. Maybe half is all ya get. So do twice as much in half
the time and let the rest go. You have to. ‘Cause it goes on and on and on."
need to smoke more." The Dutch halfway through rolling a cigarette.
sat among the hummingbirds, extra green grass like a putting green with a
beard, cold beer still beading off the glass, sun strong, leather soft,
conversation light, the torn pieces of carboard piled in front of him.
work on it will ya. Be a team player and croak early to save your fellow
citizens tax dollars. "
shave your head to cut down on haircutting costs. It'll save you money
so you can give it to the tax people." Hardy laughter. Spirits bright for the
Dutchman's next fifty-three-and-a-half years.
but you cut yours because you don't have any." He hardly had eyebrows.
so but I still save money on hair costs. I don't have any!" His brother came
out from the kitchen with a steaming mug of coffee. Bald like his brother.
are so many Dutchmen bald?" Toné's brother Henrik stopped.
think you're not going to be bald one day?" Chin slightly out.
I do not." Reno stepping forth, jutting chin in kind, mocking, playful tone. "I
will never go bald. I will have this hair on my head when I am in my box!" The
words so definitive, the charge improvable, the jest waiting for rebuttal. The
brothers look at each other.
then, I'll bet you twenty dollars that you will." Toné, folding his arms with
the look he knew something Noble didn't. But Noble knew he was right. No
bluffing this time.
I'll take your bet Dutchman. And happy to take your money."
twenty then." He wasn't going to be outdone on the eve of his last breath.
be done with it." The words of Noble's grandmother coming out of his lips.
from Holland strode in wearing his motorcycle jacket, clean shaven, looking
sober and awake.
are you Skandooligans doing here on this Sunday day of rest? Getting
ready for church then?" Jaap cool as a mountainside of thousands of roses and
tulips all varied in color. The chief. Just because he was the only one who
knew how to run things. Simple.
little morning cheer Reverend Jaap." Reno reckless, nasal drip in full drip
all right My Son, I can handle it."
five minutes later Reno was pulled down from his chair from behind, four arms
wrapped around his chest.
The buzz of shears tickled his scalp from the neck up. "What- Wait!" The
hand with the shears clicked it off. Noble's hand darted up to his hair, a
fresh bald spot four inches long.
going to be bald because I want my twenty bucks!" Michael laughed with
symphonic sound still holding on to his leather.
I don't think I'm going to be walking around with this thing exposed." The buzz
returned and the shears sheared the rest off in a minute. From
no-haircut-in-six-months, his hair now less than a centimeter long. The skin of
the white scalp burned under the sun, attacking the virgin white skin never to
have seen its full glare, his hand rubbing it, the hair now bristles steaming
the moisture out of the tangled jungle.
do you say Texan?" He rubbed his fingers together. "Where the twenty?" He
removed his hat and rubbed his bald head the same way Noble did. "You like it?
Looks good on you. Hair was too long before."
a hippie." Michael always to the point.
looked at Jaap.
you." A true nod. A direct descendent of the God of Truth,
right, fair enough. I am now bald. Here's your bread." Though some rules were
assumed they were never specified. The Dutchmen had a good holler at that one.
Wasn't the first time that trick had been pulled.
more hippie look for you now. Welcome to the real world." Grin strong,
half-rolled cigarette cradled in one hand.
I suppose I should say thank you."
so to say thank you I give you this." He handed the scraps of cardboard with
his leveled handwriting to Jaap, the only normal one in the bunch. He studied
it, saw the numbered pieces and figured it out.
want me to read it?"
You're probably the only one in this zoo who can read." Jaap cracked up, took
the request seriously, slipped on his reading glasses and read the poem to
Toné, his brother and Michael in a clear, poetic voice:
The Black Lily
known to child and adult, as old as Cain and Abel,
inspired mankind to greatness and feats unseen,
reminder of our faculty for beauty and subtlety of hue, air perfumed,
A modest blip
in a world ravaged by waste and warfare and disease and death.
progressed and evolved
From spear to
seed and sword to stem,
emerged coveted most by kings and court,
leaders of nations, desired by the cultivated artist in Man.
prophecy and traders by instinct and skill,
flourished at horticultural pursuit,
art of growing and cross-breeding,
By Fate and
with hand of divine grace.
resourceful and blessed with resilient integrity,
The Dutch rose
to the top of this industry, vital to few yet inspiring to all,
soil in the best climes the world over,
gardens nestled 9000 feet in the Andes on the equator.
trying to break the unreachable sound barrier at Mach One,
Yeager of flowers experimenting and cross-breeding with relish,
his putsch for the Holy Grail of his aristocratic profession:
of the black lily, the long-sought enigma for centuries.
unattainable by the clumsy hand of man it was believed,
exist in the color spectrum,' the naysayers said,
‘A waste of
bloody time it is, like an alchemist turning lead into gold,'
ridicule smug and cocky, shouted with barbs of cynicism.
But some with
vision persevered with expert dexterity to create this plant divine,
human animal could attain the perfection of God,
That drop of
the divine that lay dormant in us all.
A challenge to
the few who had been given a gift from the heavens.
whispers of man's mastership of plant and root,
faced the conundrum with self-belief in his step,
chest full, and hands earthed by soil from whence we came,
housing the glimmer of grounded invincibility of purpose.
Maybe taken as
a personal or professional challenge,
seen as a goal for patriotism ingrained,
Hands and head
and hoe spoke for the words he left unsaid,
manifest in his search for the path hidden to the black lily.
Big and bald
and brawn and brave,
busied his brain by blazing boldly with backbone and boot,
backbiting babble of banal boo-hooers banded to break his bevel,
the bower banished beyond beknownst boundaries barren.
forged the path still untrammeled,
long after the days' work was done,
insight tickling during twilight of slumber,
A pencil handy
with paper scribbled with possibilities.
sparked by the chorus of the impossible,
Old tools of
the trade employed and explored,
A sailor of
oceans of clay and earth,
the bosom of Mother Earth.
learning, inch by inch and yard by yard.
smiling its orange heat day after day,
and dreamer, a yaysayer and doer,
all in the heart of his Andean fortress.
‘There is a
white lily but not its opposite,'
rankled between the raindrops of time,
‘A black must
be her Adam, her soul mate, her man,'
The puzzle set
and the belief remained.
acquired through history ancient in Man,
osmosis the Dutchman's digging mind,
The story of
the Red Man's Medicine Wheel appeared,
old story of the four races of mankind.
yellow over there, red at the top but here the blue race,'
with mind racing, the quartered circle with colors before him,
‘Why the black
race is blue is the key to cracking this!'
fervent and forceful, holding council with gravel in hand.
spectrum known to the horticulturalist,
Like a chemist
his periodic table of interlaced logic,
its glory and perfection shining in his mind's eye,
awaited the man with the daring to see what others had not.
‘There is no
black race like there is no white race,'
dialogue of his brewing thoughts,
‘A lack of
pigment lets the blood shine out pink,
And blue is
not black, far from darkness of a moonless night.'
‘So if light
pink is white and blue is black,' deduced the Dutchman,
purple is my black, a hue of night waiting to be lit!'
And so he grew
new strains and cross-bred new hues,
Of purple and
red and burgundy, each kissing the soul mate of lily's white.
and more petals tainted by purple and burgundy,
hoping for the genetic blip blighting the color of wisdom,
the strain black to the naked eye,
Even under the
life-giving smile of Nature's fire.
A thing of
beauty sought by the connoisseurs of the plant divine.
nurtured like the Creator Himself,
Giving life to
a dream long thought to be beyond the reach of Man,
age-old bellyache now neutralized with an antidote of black.
And so it was
created by the hand of a flower man,
The black lily
Tainted not by
mauve or red or rose,
But of the
wise power of purple, the color of the royal line.
naysayers still doubted like Thomas to Jesus,
to be a miracle consisting of a lifetime of one,
A phony menace
to reason and science,
void of the sustainability of life.
So to insist
the flower was not a fluke,
they demanded it live and bloom,
‘Five years of
strength and staying power can only prove its worth,
Before it can
be recognized by us in the know.'
Dutchman kept his secret safe and secure,
purple flourished, stem solid and strong,
With bloom so
void of color the hue muted to night,
that whispers of unconquered secrets of life.
Now known as
the Black Lily Dutchman,
all but name,
revered and respected who rides a Harley Davidson,
By royalty the
world over, beyond borders or creed.
wrote that last night?"
it's a great bar and I was alone. Writing kept my mind off of other things."
Toné stood up, walking around the table and shook Reno's hand.
know you could write."
"I can't," he
replied. "I'm grateful Jaap can read." A blush on his cheek. Hand still seized
by the Dutchman's hand.
we have another four months until it's official but damn, that's going up on
the wall of fame in the bar." Smile crooked, teeth as neat as his rows of white
lilies. Jaap handed him the poem and shook Reno's hand. Not a word but the nod
said it all.
legible, and look." Jaap held the three pieces together. "All the lines are
I'll put it up with your illegible handwritten scrawl. " He winked as he took
possession of the poem. "Maybe I'll get them framed too."
you to flatter."
"But I do have
one thing I want you to change."
"I want to be
known as the Dutchman of the Black Lily, not how you had it."
Makes me sound black."
called you The Flowering Dutchman."
"Nah. But the
best part you put in there is that I ride a Harley. Good touch. I'll send this
to the trade magazine called Flowers Internationale when the
announcement is made."
magazine in Holland too," said Jaap.
translate it and type it out without the Black Lily Dutchman."
sure you don't screw it up." The hand slammed the table, causing his poodle to
scurry to his leg, and regard Noble with suspicion, laughter roaring over the
cliffs into the valley. For a moment all four looked at him slouched in the
chair, the skinny Texan with the sharp Reno wit now seen to have a capacity
none of them had. Never had he felt prouder of himself, the first truly
selfless thing he had ever done. He smiled and ran his hand across his bald