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Chapter Six

The Religion of Sfauism


            It is somehow reassuring to believe there was a consistency guiding ones life, an invisible hand as it were. Some believe in fate and some believe in free will so that they can engineer their lives according to a plan. But perhaps there it is a combination of the two, something that can be called controlled fate. It is both beyond our control (birth, upbringing, genes) and most definitely within our control (education, travel, foolishness), so an element of faith is a required ingredient to see it through, to overcome and to grow. A life lived by controlled fate needs both the heart and the eyes to see and choose, and to accept that which you cannot yet see. All that fell outside ones control are the cards dealt from above, the grass on which the Great Game is played. Living examples of feats of ingenuity are all around us camouflaged and partially hidden, there within our grasp, waiting to be seen, admired and studied. These were Noble's thoughts as he sat at the bar in Finn McCool's.

            Noble was enjoying Quito so he delayed his trip to the coast for a while. He felt he had more to learn and more people to meet. He was becoming a Finn McCool regular, feeling welcome and accepted by the expats and locals that made it their home away from home. The Dane was there everyday and there were others who made a point of having a pint to relax in the evening. Andrew was one of those regulars, who were there every night watching the football matches and standing quietly at the bar. Bald, stout and calm, he was steady as a Swiss watch. The more Noble got to know Andrew, the more he saw Buddha.

            He had just sold a house and decided to milk the money by traveling South America. For six months he had traversed the Andes and seen a world previously unknown to him, now living across the street at a local guesthouse. He was the classic Londoner and soccer hooligan who had graduated to a higher level of wisdom that had made him different. Because he was so quiet, it was hard to get to know him but he soon recognized a man much advanced in spiritual understanding. Just as Buddhism teaches, he never generated a sankara, or reaction. The hectic outer stimuli around him didn't rattle Andrew, whether happy or sad or angry or in anyway upset. He had mastered his keel, and was cool behind the wheel.

            When Noble finally commented that he was rather serene, that was when he told him about the religion he had created.

            "I call it Sfauism," he said. Noble shrugged his shoulders inviting him to tell him what it was.

            "Right, there's basically three principles to it. One: NEVER EXPLAIN YOURSELF," he said, self-composed as butterscotch. "Two: NEVER ACKNOWLEDGE AND/OR FORGET ALL SHAME." His eyes said ‘simple as pie.' "Three: NEVER ACKNOWLEDGE AND/OR FORGET ALL GUILT." A slight Buddha smile passed briefly across his face. "That's it. That's my religion."

            His big round pate shone off the lights from the pool table as he puffed on his cigarette cool as Bogart, a connoisseur of the flow. The stripes and solids cracking across the felt top and pool cues falling on the floor beside them were as far away as the Tower of London. He just plopped it on the table and Noble mulled. But it stayed with him, and the more he saw his stoic poise in the midst of the Finn Frenzy every night, the more Noble appreciated his artistry. Andrew never brought it up again but they both knew it was there. And he never explained himself. In his conversations with others his answers were always accurate and succinct, letting others take his words and bandy them back and forth. Andrew was engaged but also mildly disengaged, observing and listening, his blue eyes composed and dispassionate, equable and imperturbable. Gottama Buddha and a Chelsea fan, Noble soon found solace just standing beside him, quiet and comfortable, finding a mini oasis from the mayhem. When Andrew left Quito he genuinely felt a loss but knew that he had come to learn a certain quietude in the fray, remembering the three principles and knowing he had taught him a Buddhist stoicism.

            Noble had become a Sfauist.


            A few days later he heard Reno's words: "Guilt and shame, as manmade derivatives from past events in ones life, must be struck from ones memory and ignored as cluttering debris that only weakens the will of man." 



Chapter Seven

Celebrating Chemistry


            When one finds their niche, anger at bad governance evaporates, resentment against unfair and unjust treatment subsides, and a new hope in rational management of peoples returns so that thoughts of laying roots are born

            After another late night followed by a late sleep-in, Noble cancelled his Spanish classes until the end of the week so he could recover from the pace of pubbing and coking in Mariscal, but a simple phone call to a local English bookstore brought him down to the action. With only two of three books required, he purchased seven, all set for a few days reading in the beautiful parks in the city.

            Sipping a coffee in Mariscal Foch Plaza, the Times Square of Quito, the sun burned his skin like a white-hot paring knife run against his arms and face. Noble changed from coffee to two-for-one pitchers of Passion Punch, which he was ill prepared for. The table set back in the corner of the square, the sun burning and the music loud, the streets and tables filled up with people happy and excited to be in the epicenter, tickled his sense of freedom that he had settled into his new life and was beginning to find some degree of peace.

            The first pitcher was strong, once done enough was enough, but when the second one arrived the sun dropped behind the mountaintops along the western tip of the plateau, the streetlights came on and an energy in the ethers emerged. There was an American sitting nearby who looked trustworthy like an old teacher of his. Noble asked him if he would like to help him finish off the pitcher. He laughed at the state of him and said "sure."

            He was a retired actor, who had worked with Marlon Brando and Dennis Hopper during the fifties. He didn't have any of the pitcher but he happily and efficiently ate his hamburger and listened to Noble talk. After four hours in the hot sun on the patio alone reading, he had to talk to someone. From his face Noble could see he wasn't disgusted but rather curious to see a man like him drinking and smoking and talking and laughing. When the burger was gone and the pitcher was finished and all four corners of the plaza in full swing, they said their goodbyes and Noble went down the street to the Irish Pub. The thought of returning to his guesthouse was anathema to his spirit. He had truly immersed himself into his new seize-the-day way of life.

            Inside the pub there was no one he knew, but there was a woman at the bar looking at Noble, knapsack full of books, a slight stupor yet grin on his face. He smiled at her, surveyed the pub and looked at her again.

            "Well, the Dane isn't here," he said. Her skepticism so obvious on her face morphed into a loving and trusting grin.

            "Well why don't you come with me?" Strange as it might sound, her words were reassuring and calming, comforted me because of his loneliness: that lack of outlet for so much fun to be had.

            Loose but not sloppy, graceful but not stumbling, he went to her.

            "Go with you? And where would you like to go?" That was when she put her hand on his forearm and pulled him close to her. When he was close enough he smelled her pheromones and something made him feel safe.

            "Why don't we go to my place?" Crooked smile, confident, his age, Italian but looked Spanish, wholesome, slightly self-conscious sitting on her barstool in a pub packed with drinkers, Martina seemed to know him, see his innocence and good heart, and soft eyes. She was willing to take a chance with who she saw was not a monster.

            The idea of a new adventure with this dark-haired woman dressed in black pulled him towards her, a safety beacon and trusting voice, the accent of a fellow American. They left immediately without a lot of talking and took a taxi to her apartment a few minutes away. Front desk, mahogany wood, polite concierge, and right beside the embassy for Spain, they threw their bags on the floor, put on music and she had a Bloody Caesar. Noble was happy enough to pull out his pouch of tobacco and roll a joint, something that nine times out of ten with a women was a bust but she brightened.

            "For years I used to run a hemp farm in Saskatchewan," she said. Of course he thought she was pulling his leg but she kept on. "I've been looking for weed since I came here but it's tough when you're a woman and single."

            Music, joints, laughter, balcony, water, more and more books on the table, the more crooked her smile became and her beauty unveiled in her tone, her touch and her words. Both thoroughly enjoying the fluke chemistry they shared, it wasn't long before they lied down together and rubbed themselves together. Noble thought her neighbors were going to come over to tell them to keep it down but it was as if they had found their little patch of privacy where only they knew the utter joy they were having. Afterwards in the kitchen they talked and smoked more joints, laughed with each other, telling each other everything that had been in their minds for months. A purge, a confession and a mutual eruption in the nude at the table, fumbling with rolling papers, selecting music from her computer, each not judging the other, and both happy to have found a kindred soul so high up in the Andes after months of hardship.

            Martina had been mugged twice, the second time being pulled along the pavement after a pillion on a passing motorcycle grabbed her purse that she didn't let go of. She spoke about it as if still raw, as if he were the first and only person that got the full story, her moment to be comforted, and her first moment of healing. Her honesty and vulnerability struck him to the bone, a trust and respect born there in the semi-darkness, teeth slightly bucked, fingernails painted purple, smile lines active, and so utterly giving. At that moment Noble embraced her, like all men in need, fully and without doubt, a declaration of his empathy and imperfections, a partnership of great proportion. This opening up to her gushed out but without a monopoly of words and time; a vigorous mutual exchange of souls confessing, trusting and celebrating the chemistry.

              She had been in Ecuador for six months since she had sold her highly controversial hemp farm in Canada, with four of those months spent on the beaches on the Pacific mastering her Spanish. She was a landlord, relying on her rental income for her South American expenses. With the money from her hemp business, she had become a successful businesswoman in her own right, single and childless at 43, starting a new chapter in a new land after years of harassment and auditing by the Canadian government. She knew she had become red-flagged by those in power for someone who operated on the boundary of the law. Martina had chosen to start a new life in Ecuador but her biggest problem had been being a lone in a dangerous country, being an individual who refused to be told what to do and who detested having her freedom infringed just because there were a few restless hoodlums hanging about. She would rather face danger than have her options limited.

            After dancing in the living room they returned to her bedroom and resumed their physical intimacy that reached a higher level, more intense, a new language born that healed each other's loneliness. It was unabashed acknowledgment of the human need for love. In itself it was art, poetry in motion, emotion and spiritual awareness. The need and certainty of love shared so far away between two travelers must be one of the rarest experiences of any man or woman, a need like hunger that lasts long after the event never to be forgotten.


            Reno the philosopher who had become his wingman, had words for him when he was asleep that night in Martina's apartment: "It is the sharpness of reason that can shut down the liveliness of the heart. So severe can the blade of reason be that it can permanently suffocate the life out of ones spirit and close down operations forever when failure looms temporarily over an obstacle lying on the path to a dream, a death knell that silences ‘til the end of time." Maybe it had been the sharpness of Noble's reason that had etched such a restricted and stringent life he had lived in Houston, keeping out others and closing down his heart in the process.

            "No matter," he told himself, "it's better now."


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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