“I did what I had to do,” said Rory’s brother.
“That’s lame. You owe us better,” said Rory.
1998 was a long time ago, but for Rory there was a freshness to that date. Having his brother before him only made the years seem like a blister that would not heal. His brother stood there as if he had been preserved in formaldehyde. He was short, powerfully built, and rocking the most casual of attire.
“Still don’t like vegetables,” asked Rory’s brother. Strands of squash and zucchini were left untouched on Rory’s plate.
“Really? Small talk is all you’ve got?”
“Okay, Rory, I was a penis because of what I did, but you’ve got to know I was in no place to be a mental gladiator. My way was the best thing for everyone.”
Rory was confused. During his journey, he had not known what to expect, but he had done well with each weird happening. Meeting his brother, however, had shaken him like a kid getting rid of lines on an Etch-a-Sketch. “You can’t just walk in here, or whatever you did, hang with my goat, and think I’m not going to be angry with you. Right, Allen?
“Right,” said Allen.
“Fellas, I was in the dungeon. I’ll never share what happened, but you know some of the story. Anyway, with everything that was going on, I couldn’t handle things anymore. In that last moment, I was catapulted into a different place. I was at peace.”
“Where’d you go?” asked Allen.
“To a dead man’s party.”
“Was Oingo Boingo there?” asked Rory.
“Are they dead?” countered Rory’s brother. “It was weird, a calm like I never knew here. I got to talk with Jupiter Elicius who explained to me the topography of the new land. There are no highs or lows, just a steadiness of life.”
“You mean death,” said Allen.
“No, not at all. Where I am is mellow and vibrant, slow and fast. It’s perfectly in balance.”
“It’s Heaven,” said the bearded goat.
All three of them looked to the goat with surprise because the goat had never spoken in public.
“If that’s what you believe,” said Rory’s brother, “Jupiter calls it Home.”
“He also calls it Heaven,” said the bearded goat, “And he also goes by God. Sometimes, I call him, Dad.”
“Interesting,” said Rory. “Allen, remember that time we were playing York Intermediate and Tim Mac stole second base. There was an umpire who only had one arm and he never said ‘safe’ or ‘out,’ he just when “AAAAHHH.”
“Oh yeah, Tim slid in and the umpire made that call and Tim thought he was out, but he was really safe.”
“Right. Separated by a different language. Babel…”
The bearded goat looked at Rory’s brother and smiled. Rory’s brother looked to Allen and smiled. He leaned to Rory and gave him a hug. An energy passed between them that gave Rory hope.
His brother whispered in his ear, “Go home. Everything is fine.”