Chupa drove the Grand Prix down Richmond Road towards Williamsburg. Rory had made this drive thousands of times and never made it without hitting at least half of the traffic lights. The Chupa didn’t hit any. He leaned a little to the right while he drove and let the medium-old school rap stylings of 3rd Bass rise from the Kraco car stereo. Despite their similarities in appearance, Rory knew he was not at all the Chupacabra, which made him feel a little more relaxed.
“We’re listening to this because they are posers,” said the Chupacabra. “And you’re a poser.”
“How do you figure?” asked Rory.
“Because you have lived a life cloaked in hubris. That excessive pride had done you no good.”
Now Rory felt like the Chupacabra could actually be him. He felt the sting of being called out, but he couldn’t disagree with what Chupa had just said.
“Chupa, I don’t get it. Why are you after me?”
“First we have to get out of the car. When we get to Highland Park, I am going to explain things to you like you are from Sherwood Forrest or Palmer Park.”
“Highland Park is just around the corner. Those other places are in Detroit. I’m not getting the connection.”
“Of course not, you think you know everything, but nobody really knows anything about Detroit. I’m here to bust through the hubris and bring a bit of ego immunity to fortify your soul.”
Chupa turned into Highland Park and parked in the back of the neighborhood. The car was starting to overheat due to the holes in the radiator that leaked water like a sieve. Rory stared at Chupa thinking that this whole experience was more than he could ever understand. He had fought so many battles, experienced different levels of spirituality, and kept track of a flock of goats that may or may not be the bovidae reincarnation of some of the greatest leaders in the history of the world. Now he sat across from an evil entity that was set on erasing goodness and that evil looked just like him.
Rory said, “Well, we’re here. Why me?”
“You are intemperate and need to develop immunity.”
“Immunity from what?”
“How do I do that?” asked Rory.
“Do you know what ‘agency’ means?” Rory shook his head. “It means that you have control over your life. The choices that you make, the words you speak, and the way you treat others is in your control. The problem for you is that you don’t know how to make the right choices. In some ways you are a Presidential candidate without the spray tan.”
“Wow, do I do anything right?”
“And that’s the second flaw in your life. You live in victimhood. You’re good at masking it because you rarely flinch, but each time you get in a situation that isn’t going your way, you do something stupid.”
Rory listened to Chupa and thought about his life. It was true. Sure he had the peanut farm and had done some good things, but for the most part he lived in conflict. The root of each problem that he found himself in was himself. The evil of the Chupacabra was not real at all, at least in the sense that evil was looking to rid the world of goodness. However, Chupa was very real for Rory because Rory was the Chupa. He started thinking of the stupid things he had done, language issues, party issues, anger issues and slumped back in the pleather seat.
“Are you real?” asked Rory.
“Yes and no. I’m here with you, but not really around. I live because you allow me to. Get yourself together and then I’m gone.”
“How do I do that? Is that what the goats are for?”
“The goats are inspiration. If you notice, each goat has brought wisdom and perspective to you throughout your life. You have been able to understand how each of the goats, all great leaders, brought something to your life that was positive. You have always admired the study of religion, but not been trapped by the rigidity of religion. You understand that Jesus, Buddha, and Muhammed were great spiritual men and you have learned from each.”
“True, but I would say I am a Jesus guy.”
“Exactly, but you know that wisdom takes all thought and you are willing to consider the others.”
Rory nodded, “That’s good, right? If I’m all that, why are you here and why do I struggle with being happy.”
“You struggle because life is not just an academic exercise. It’s about feeling. You must feel the goodness that you read about from the goats.”
“The thinking is what keeps you out of the fray, Rory. The thinking allows you to take a breath before you speak. It allows you to brush off annoyances before you get yourself in trouble.”
“So the goats are just goats?”
“I’m afraid so.”
“Does that mean I am supposed to forget about them and change myself?”
“Right, again. You are going to remember the greatness of the leaders you saw in the goats and apply it to yourself. It’s simple and hard.”
Rory closed his eyes for a second. When he opened them he found himself behind the wheel of an F-150 pick up truck. He was not at all sure how he got in this truck, but the room inside the cab made him feel more comfortable in an automobile than he had ever been. He started the engine and headed towards a new beer garden in Toano. The drive was about 8-miles and when he pulled into the parking lot he was amazed to see every enemy he had ever made chugging beers at The Bacchanalia. The drunken revelry immediately put a stress on Rory that pressed him to remember the quote, “Kindness in words creates confidence.”
“I can do this,” he thought. Tom Petty’s, “I Won’t Back Down” played inside the beer garden.