Neither Rory nor Allen had been back to the James Blair field house since leaving high school. Both remembered the dirty floors, rusting showers, and wooden lockers. They could not understand the draw of the field house, but there was no avoiding its pull.
“I think I understand,” said Rory, “if we can feel what others felt in the past, we can change the present.”
“And that will change the future,” added Allen.
They let the goats into the fenced in area in front of the field house and knocked on the door. They didn’t expect anyone to be there, so when the door opened they were shocked. They were even more surprised when they realized who had opened the door.
“E. Spernanza’s brother told me you would be coming. Enter if you’d like.”
Rory and Allen looked gave each other a confused look. Standing before them in Birdwells, flip-flops, and a cut-off Purple Rain t-shirt was none other than Mickey Smith, also known as ‘Nola, because of his love of shrimp and spaghetti. He was older, but still looked as if he could run like a greyhound. Once he had been a party boy. Rory wrongly guessed Mickey was the old guy at the bar now.
“You keep up with, E? asked Rory.
“I do. Each year before I hibernate he helps me set a meditative groove.”
The field house was dark, so Mickey lit a candle. “My condolences for not offering any food, but I don’t have any groceries.”
“Condolences is too strong of a word,” said Allen. “Why do you hibernate?”
“It helps. That’s some congregation you have out there.”
“You mean the goats. They’re something else,” said Rory.
“They are that. They are the greatest of all time. The greatest spiritual leaders are out mowing fields. How humble is that? Let’s take a steam.”
Rory and Allen weren’t sure where there was a steam room, but they were game. Mickey had converted the shower area into a steam room. Before he went in, Birdwells and all, he tapped the salt tablet container and went in. Rory and Allen followed, clothes and salt tablets, too. The B-52s blasted from a vintage Pioneer car stereo cassette deck.
“Guys, I come here for the artificial increase in heart rate,” said Mickey. “This is not whimsy, though, sometimes I need a tachometer to measure my pulse, but this room keeps me pure. It helps me ‘kick through continents bustin’ boundaries.”
Mickey continued, “I went through what you are now. You are both close to finding your true purpose. Once you do you will have confidence that is thicker that any breastplate armor. You will be true.”
Rory got lost in the steam feeling the horror of the plantation leaving him. He felt another layer of calm coming over him. His journey was complex; accepting himself, helping others, righting past wrongs, were all steps for him. Now he let the relaxation roam.
It’s what the goats wanted.