Rory had been taking it easy since the Hog Island alligator incident. He split his time reading Don Quixote and the Tao the Ching often falling asleep and dreaming of himself as the man from La Mancha schooled in Chinese culture. He would often travel solo like a youxia, a Chinese knight errant, protecting common folk from aggression in whatever form.
After the Little Sue incident, Rory agreed to make a promotional video about the plight of Native Americans in United States. On his way to the Pamunkey Indian Reservation, Rory stopped at an old service station to go to the restroom. The building was so old that it had a gutter style urinal. After he peed, Rory walked out into a bright sun and found an old man standing next to his truck.
“May I help you?” asked Rory.
“I am here to help you,” said the old man.
“But I don’t need any help.”
“You will. Carry this and chew on it while you are in the boat.” The old man handed Rory a bag of bark and walked off into the sunlight.
The film crew was ready when Rory arrived at the reservation. The producers went over Rory’s lines and the PSA took just two takes. There was plenty of sunlight left and a family offered Rory a chance to take a boat out on the water. He accepted and paddled out to the river. Of course, Rory got lost. Then he got hungry and with nothing but the bark from the old man in his pocket, Rory took out a piece and began chewing on it like a dog bone. There was no flavor to the bark, but Rory could tell there was something sacred about this snack. It was as if it had come from a pharmacy for Rory was feeling things he had not felt since he drank from the James River. The skies let loose with beautiful sounds as if the god of music, Apollo, was serenading the Earth. Rory thought he was in Nirvana only to have the peacefulness interrupted by a talking trout.
“Hey. Hey, buddy, pay attention,” said the trout.
The appearance of a talking trout could mean anything from impending doom to the greatest of fortune for Rory. He decided to listen to the trout rather than force either issue.
“You have been summoned by the Goddesses of Gymnastics, Olga, Mary Lou, and Nadia, to perform acts of bravery in the name of the forward thinking Tunisia. Your journey is to protect women from the idiocy of men. Olga blesses you with her holy power. Mary Lou grants her honesty. Nadia sends boundless hope. Go forth, youxia.”
The trout swam away and Rory paddled back to the dock. With the effects of the bark wearing off, Rory could see his future. He would become an advocate. He would champion women’s rights. In the distance he could hear Helen Reddy singing, “Won’t bring you nothing but pain…”
“Hmmm,” thought Rory.