With the water of the bay held back from Tangier Island, Rory and Allen took a moment to rest. They took their break in an abandoned house that was still in good shape. Inside, there was old furniture and stacks of old newspapers. Allen took one out of a pile and began reading.

“What are you doing?” asked Rory.

“Reading.”

“What are you reading?”

Allen looked up, “The paper, duh.”

“From when” asked Rory.

“July 28, 1964.”

“Wow, that’s before either of use were alive. What was going on then? Go Twitter and just give me some headlines.”

Allen countered with, “No, I’ll give you a headline and you give me a word that has something to do with our situation and the Chupacabra.”

“Alright, go.”

“MORE MATERIAL ALSO WILL BE PROVIDED TO COUNTER REDS.”

“Hmmm,” thought Rory, “Defense. We need to create a strong defense against this thing.”

“SENATE BARS PLAN TO LIST FINANCES.”

“Trump…Just kidding. Transparency. We need to see deeply within ourselves to understand why this evil is here.”

“U.S. TO ADD 5,000 MORE IN VIETNAM.”

“Presence. We need a presence to help us defeat the impending doom.”

“BANDITS IN PARIS LOOT GEM SHOWCASES IN HOTEL.”

“Theft. We know this Chupacabra steals people’s beliefs.”

“NORAD CENTER TAKING SHAPE INSIDE MOUNTAIN.”

“WOPR.”

Allen looked up, “What?”

“WOPR, the computer from War Games. The only way to win to not to play… Too bad we don’t have that option, but we have access to the goats and if we have to go to the top of the mountain to put our war operation plan response in action, we will.”

“Something is wrong with you. EX CONVICT STUBS TOE AND GETS IN TROUBLE.”

“Karma. Hopefully we have been good because we are being asked to protect some really good goats.”

“COLLINS SAYS VIOLENCE, EVEN FOR RIGHTS, THREATENS DEMOCRACY.”

“Shortsighted. The country is based on violence. Do what you’ve gotta due, right?”

“True dat. EXPATRIATE, ON CUBAN RADIO, CALLS ON NEGROES TO MEET VIOLENCE WITH VIOLENCE.”

“Allen, you know I hate discrimination. I also just said that violence might be necessary to protect the goats. I hope the struggle for equality does not come to that. I get the frustration, though. As for us, my word is a letter, X.”

“Riiggghhhht… BASIC RULE IS TO PRESENT OVERWHELMING SHOW OF POWER: CLUBS, HOSES, AND CHEMICALS OFTEN FOUND EFFECTIVE.”

“What was going on in 1964? Weapons. I don’t want to resort to those types of weapons. What would the goats do? They have the weapons that we need.”

“SENATE UNIT TO STUDY LINK OF DOCTORS TO DRUG STORES.”

“Systems. The doctors knew what they were doing by owning drug stores. They owned the corners and had legally operating stash houses. It was a perfect system, except that it was wrong. We must have a system that protects the goats, staves off the Chupacabra, and brings everyone together.”

Poodle was gone. He left a couple of Sea Grasses behind. They were cold, so Rory and Allen drank. As usual, the effects of the beer were quick and spiritual. The guys sat in folding lawn chairs watching the goats argue about something. One goat walked over to the guys. He had a goatee and wore black rimmed glasses. He gave off reddish hue and when he began to speak, he made it clear what he thought needed to be done.

“This Chupacabra will find us here. You are not ready for its evil. We must go.”

“Where are we going?” asked Rory.

“On a pilgrimage,” said the goat.

“To Mecca?” asked Rory.

“No, to Chadd’s Ford. Don’t ask why. You will know when you get there.”

As the goat started to walk away, Allen asked, “Hey goat, are you Malcolm?”

The goat nodded and kept walking. All the other goats began walking behind the bearded goat towards the shoreline. Somehow they were able to walk across without sinking. Rory and Allen trudged into the water until it was too deep for them walk anymore. They started swimming, but the distance to land was too far and they began to fear that they would drown.

“Take your pants off,” yelled Allen.

Rory did and copied Allen as he turned his pants into a flotation device. They tied knots in the pant legs and then blew air into the pants. They were able to float and join the goats on the shore. With about one hundred yards to go the waters parted and the guys were able to walk the rest of the way.

“One of them must be Moses,” said Rory.

They rested until night. The stars were bright and the only thing the group had to navigate by was the Big Dipper. They followed it each night for several weeks avoiding towns and cities as best they could. Finally, they reached the ruins of Mother Archie’s church and school. All that remained of the hexagonal structure were pieces of the stone walls and a neglected cemetery that was located on a downward sloping hill.

Malcolm jumped atop one wall. He was steady and spoke with a nasal tone that conveyed an urgency for the group. He said, “We are here. This is where we will learn. This is where we will come together and fight the persistent evil that is seeking to destroy us. These two will learn of their potential and use it however necessary to keep man’s goodness alive.”

An old tow truck pulled into the tiny parking lot. Living on Faith, by Eric Clapton blasted from the speakers as the door opened. A man got out and yelled, “Who needs a knot tied?”

“Shorty?” asked Rory to Allen.

“There’s no way this is a dream,” said Allen.

Shorty began stringing rope over the top of the the old school house. His pattern resembled something that might be seen over swimming pools in Florida.

“Keeps the evil out,” he said.

When he was done, a dove and a crow joined the group.

The boat ride back to Tangier Island was a race against time. The Chupacabra seemed to be busy with sheep instead of goats and the way the guys figured they had about two weeks before the goat sucker would be done with Cleveland and Philly. That did not leave Rory and Allen much time to figure out a way to keep the bay from claiming the island. Fortunately, Allen had been schooled in the art of pouring concrete and Rory was willing to do whatever to save this important piece of land.

“If that cemetery goes under and those souls are washed up, there is going to be a terrible cost,” said Rory.

“You think?” asked Allen.

Poodle was steering the boat and in total fear of what was happening. He could hear the dark voices more clearly. “They are restless,” he said, “We aren’t going to make it.”

“Take another drink of that Sea Grass and get us there?” yelled Allen.

Poodle did and he drifted into the haze of the life changing drink. The boat’s engine began to roar with a renewed strength. Within an hour they made it to the island.

Rory jumped into the water first, “There’s no time to waste. I’ll get the goats taken care of. You guys get everything set up here and we will begin building a sea wall.”

“I just hope there is time to get the pumps running,” said Allen.

“I’ll get the boat out of the way in case we need to make a beer run or something.”

“Thanks, Poodle,” said Allen.

The three got to work. When the goats were safely on dry land, Rory returned and helped Allen construct concrete molds like they had seen on Alone In the Wilderness. Their plan was to fill the molds with concrete and drop the slabs into the water. They would work in small sections and pump the water out of each section as they went along. They started near the cemetery since it was the most important part of the island to save. The whole time they knew the Chupacabra was infusing every bit of anger into the souls of people that he could. He had speech writers stealing from other speech writers. He led the FBI to erroneous conclusions about potential world leaders. He had people so angry that they were willing to shoot, shout, or smear in an effort to get ahead. The idea that people had the potential to develop maturity, forgiveness, or resilience to face uncomfortable situations was being usurped by the Chupacabra’s reliance on people’s willingness to micromanage the drama in every situation instead of seeing the big picture. Evil, in the forms of politics, race, and economic status, were blanketing goodness and bringing the end of everything more quickly than even the Doomsday experts could predict.

“I bet the world is over by November,” said Allen.

“At least I wouldn’t have to vote, then,” said Rory.

On the eighth day, a large fog bank moved into the bay. Poodle was totally freaked out because he remembered seeing The Fog at Martin Cinema. “Scared the hell out of me,” he thought. Rory and Allen kept working, but they were beginning to see the futility of their efforts. They had been able to build a small wall around the cemetery, but the rest of the island could never be saved without a massive effort. The fog was making the work more difficult.

“We’ll never make it,” said Allen.

“Did the Bandit and Snowman make it? Was it over when the German’s bombed pearl harbor?” said Rory.

“Movies, Rory.”

“I know, but the point is that we must keep going. The fog will break and we will keep trying. Allen, there is a lot riding on this island.”

And the fog did break. It pulled away to an incredible sight. There were hundreds of boats circling the island. Poodle fainted at the sight of colonial ships, canoes, and paddle boats from the basin in the nation’s capital. One small boat taxied up to the where Rory and Allen were working. The captain leaned over the railing and said, “Springsteen or Matthews?”

“Champ?” asked Rory.

“Yep, what’s your working music?”

“Before I answer, how do I know you are not some kind of evil imposter?” asked Rory.

“Because you sat in my house and watched rodeo on ESPN.”

“Good enough for me. You are who I think you are, but I’m not sure how you got here.”

“I’m here because there is plenty of good in the world and some of us who have moved on have decided to come back and help restore what makes people great.”

“And what is that?” asked Allen.

“The ability to think,” said Champ.

“Springsteen, then.” said Rory.

With that, the Ghost of Tom Joad blasted through unseen speakers. Champ yelled, “More south side.” The music got louder on the other side of the island. “I hope you guys are ready, this is going to be something else.” Champ had been a major league engineer. He had arranged the boats in a way that made a tight ring around the island. “Fill in the gaps with your concrete,” he said to Allen.

Rory and Allen went into automation mode. The mixed, poured, and set concrete between each boat. The people, more correctly the good spirits that had been on the boats, were now in the water scooping with whatever containers they had. They used buckets, spoons, and their hands to toss water over the boats. The guys never looked up and kept working until they could go no more. They crawled back into Poodle’s boat, The Contributor, and passed out.

The sun came up and horse flies used their bite to wake the trio. Rory could not believe what he saw. The boats were gone and concrete circled the island. They had temporarily saved Tangier Island, but were no closer to the origin of the Chupacabra.

“We need more help,” said Rory.

Poodle had the pedal to the metal, or whatever the equivalent is for boats, and had the guys heading home as quickly as possible. As they made their way back to Tappahannock, two swarms followed the boat. The first was a cloud of gnats. The flying insects could never quite catch the boat, but they were so thick that their presence cast a shadow on the speeding boat. The second was a swarm of eels who wriggled behind the boat like a Natural Geographic video of snakes mating in a slithering orgy of reptilian delight. Rory saw the masses as signs and worried that the evil spirits had already been freed.

“Do you think we’re too late,” he asked Allen.

“I don’t know. Maybe you’re still asleep.”

“Stop it. We are hustling back to shore in Poodle’s boat with clouds of gnats and what appears to be eel porn following us and you think I’m asleep? I just hope we can do something before the evil is too strong.”

“Don’t worry,” said Allen, “We’re angry at Hell and we’re not going to take it anymore. Sing with me, “We’re not gonna take it, no we’re not gonna take it…”

Rory had to smile, “Twisted Sister now? You’re not right.”

Their drive back to Williamsburg took Rory and Allen back to the peanut farm. Rory grabbed his computer and found that the dock had been moved. “Damn updates,” he said. He noticed that he had a Facebook message from an old teammate, Carl Bannister. The message said that there was something weird going on at 18th and Columbia in Washington, D.C. and that Rory should call.

“Since when did I become a guy concerned with everything weird?” mumbled Rory as he dialed Carl’s number. Carl was one cool dude. He had been part of the Smurfs in high school, a tandem of shorter athletes whose symmetry made life very difficult for tall wide receivers and taller point guards. After graduation, he made a career of the military and followed events in the District as a hobby.

“Hello, this is Carl Bannister.”

“Carl, Rory. What’s going on?”

“I’m glad you called. There is an intersection in Washington with a bank. People think it’s haunted because lately people come out of it mad.”

Rory said, “It sounds like most banks. Why is that weird.”

“Because these people go out and commit crimes afterwards. They have no respect for other cultures, they burn churches, and they claim to worship a god called ‘Chupacabra.’ The lot where the bank is has a dark history, too. It’s the site of the Knickerbocker Theater.”

“Oh, no, Carl, I’ve got to go. I need more information on Chupacabra.”

“Alright, Rory. Let me know if you need help.”

The Knickerbocker Theater collapsed under the weight of a freak snowstorm in 1922. Ninety-eight people were killed in the collapse and both the architect and theater’s owner committed suicide after the tragedy. The appearance of bones around Tangier Island and the freaky crimes being committed around the old theater site was enough to convince Allen that something was happening.

“Do you know what a chupacabra is?” asked Allen.

“No.”

“It’s a goat-sucker.”

Rory and Allen looked at each other with panic. Allen’s goats represented the “Greatest of All Time” and they were in danger. There was the bearded one, the bald one, the one from the desert, the one shot in Memphis, the one shot in Ford’s Theater, and countless other goats that were nothing but good. Some were black, some white, some tan, but each goat in Allen’s heard was special.

“What do these chupacabras do?” asked Rory.

“They bite the goats and suck the blood out of them. Scientists think its an urban legend, though. Why are you asking?”

Rory explained what Carl told him. But he had more, “Remember how the voice said to save the island because more horrors would be coming? What if the horrors are these goat suckers. Tangier is in dire straights and it might already be too late. Maybe these crimes in D.C. are part of evil’s coming.”

“Why now, Rory? Tangier is still there. Something has got to be driving all this. Wildfires, police shootings, police being shot, the election, Britain, the Middle East, the environment, it’s all madness, man.”

“That’s what the voices said. Remember, they said that “Man” was the problem. Think of the damage we’ve already done. Chernobyl, the surface water there is contaminated. This is crazy, but that water has to go somewhere with its radioactivity. How are those isotopes rearranging what this world is all about? And relatively speaking, that’s a small part of the world. Stuff is going on all over the place.”

“Rory, we have to save the goats. They are goodness and if evil gets to them we might as well just stay asleep.”

Rory’s phone rang, “Carl…You don’t say. That’s good to know. Thanks.”

“Who was that?” asked Allen.

“Carl, again. He said that the people worshipping this Chupacabra are being described by the police up there as tenacious.”

“Is that all?”

“No, they vowed to cause a spiritual sterility across the entire world. They want a valueless society that is hellbent on destroying itself.”

“It sounds like they’re here already,” said Allen.

“Exactly. You get the goats and meet me at Poodle’s boat.”

“Where are you headed?”

“We are going Dick Proenneke on Tangier Island. I’m going to get the stuff to make some custom concrete. This island will not be swallowed into the sea. The goats will survive and men will learn how to act.”

“Rory, you’re dramatic, dude.”

Poodle and Allen were waiting with the goats when Rory got there. He was riding with a guy named Chuck.

“I don’t know if it will work, Rory, but this red bag mix might do the trick.”

“Thanks, Chuck, say hello to your sister. We’ve got to go,” said Rory.

They would need a miracle to save the goats.

The wagon made it to New York City. Miss Moon foresaw the journey ahead for Rory and reached into a mini-fridge for a bag of arugula. She tapped the actuator on a modular culinary preparation machine and reduced the salad to liquid. She reached back into the fridge and pulled out a nearly frozen Piels beer. The bottle sighed as she twisted the top and poured the beer in with the green liquid. She handed the mix to Rory. He gave her a little smile and sipped a little.

“Save the rest for later,” said Memphis Minnie, “you’ll need it.” That struck Rory as weird, but he did not have time to ask her what she meant.

“We are leaving you now,” said Miss Moon. “You will see New York differently. You won’t notice the commercialized and sanitized version you’ve always known. You will experience the past in a futuristic way. the drink will give you energy to escape static ways. Your journey of discovery is turning into a battle beyond the present. Notice everything.”

“Wait!” said Rory, but it was too late. The Trio of Memphis was gone. Rory and Allen were in an unfamiliar New York. The skyline had lost its shape. Concrete was cracked and cars choked the streets. The steam was made by a fancy capacitor combined with a thing-a-ma-jig. There was so much steam that hair got frizzy, clothes stayed wrinkle free, and rust seemed to be taking over the abundance of metal that was everywhere. New York was a downtrodden warehouse district instead of the neon and glass mecca that Rory and Allen knew.

“Allen what year is it?” said Rory.

Allen picked up a newspaper and said, “June 16, 1935.”

Neither could comprehend the look of the city. Post apocalyptic would have been a good cliche to start with. Thoughts of Escape From New York and The Warriors ran through Rory’s head. “Well, what happened on this date back then?” he asked.

Allen said, “The students at Cornell graduated yesterday and heard from a Dr. Bixler.”

“Is that a big deal?” asked Rory.

“On this paper it is,” said Allen. It was the only story in the paper.

“Let me see that,” said Rory as he took the paper from Allen. Dr. Bixler told the graduates, “To fail to recognize how completely we place ourselves, at such times, under the influence of the unconscious, drives us to fail to the see the plane upon which free and creative spiritual activity can take place.”

“What’s it mean?” asked Allen.

“I don’t know, but lets start walking, see where things take us,” said Rory.

They started walking and paying attention to the way people were dressed. There was a common theme, clunky boots, leather pants, dark shirts, heavy duster coats and goggles that looked suited for mountain climbing. The clothes had angular cuts and hung off the people who moved like robots. The aura was cold, impersonal, and far removed from cool industrial chic. It was as if there had been an elimination of the human spirit and these people were just walking around as organic machines.

“Everyone is the same” said Allen.

“Why?” asked Rory. “I say we head to the Williamsburg Bridge and cross into Brooklyn to see what’s there.”

They walked to the bridge and as they were crossing a little kid who was dressed in a white suit came up to them. He said, “Find the cooper’s daughter,” before running away.

“The cooper’s daughter?” asked Rory. “Memphis screwed things up for us. We were heading home to live an easy life. No more thinking, no more discovery.”

“Hush, buttercup. I know who the cooper’s daughter is. I can’t wait to see this.”

“Tell me,” said Rory.

“Not yet.”

They walked into Brooklyn and asked people where they could find the cooper’s daughter. People would only look in one direction and finally after what must have been fifty people, Rory and Allen found the Cooper’s Shop. The smell of cedar was everywhere due to the wood shavings on the floor. The smell took Rory back to the Cooper’s Shop in Colonial Williamsburg where a black cat used to hang and the jokes of the coopers were great. This shop help that old world charm, but here too, rust was everywhere. Then there was the music, haunting and beautiful, techno smashed right into a nothing groove, Nine Inch Nails singing, Skin.

Allen rang a bell and stepped behind Rory. The cooper’s daughter came out and nearly knocked Rory over. She was beautiful and full of grace. She was also expressionless until she realized that it was Rory and Allen. A slight smile formed for just a second, but as the song changed to “Shred” she became a blank slate again.

“You’ve moved on. Drink and forget,” she said.

Rory did. He drank every drop and felt himself escaping the containment of his past. With the steam rising around him and Nine Inch Nails hammering his nerves with “Singe,” Rory prepared to let go. The cooper’s daughter helped him, “You can’t go back into the past.”

Rory woke in his bed. Allen was there. “What happened?” asked Rory.

“Dude, you’ve been tripping. Two nights ago you were dancing in the field yelling ‘I gotch you, Dr. Bixler’ and the next night you were insistent that Mr. Cooper was hanging around. I was about to put you in Eastern State.”

Rory looked around his bedroom. Everything was just right, peaceful. “What about Arizona, Memphis, and New York?”

“Nothing but a dream, killer,” said Allen.

“I need a beer,” said Rory.

“On the porch,” said Allen.

Rory walked through the house and out into the six thirty sun. He was struck by how beautiful the sunlight coming thought the trees was. He stopped short of taking a beer. There, in a cedar bucket, doubling as an ice chest was a six pack of Piels. Rory looked back to Allen who just smiled.

The clothes store owner charged Rory and Allen five dollars each for a shower. Rory thought this was the best fiver he had spent since showering after a week at Bonnaroo. After getting new clothes, Rory and Allen headed up to Beale Street to take in all Memphis had to offer. There were plenty of people on the street, but no traffic. Coming towards them was a wagon being pulled by a team of horses. The wagon looked like something out of a western, more covered wagon than Conestoga. An old man drove the team and sung a blues song about getting to Newport News. As he got to Rory and Allen, the old man tapped the reigns and the horses stopped.

“Hey boys, you made it. Get up on this wagon and let’s go see some Elvis zealots.”

Rory and Allen took this as another one of their journeys and hopped on the wagon.

“Furry Lewis is my name. I’m traveling around selling a curative for those handcuffed by indecision and self-begotten doubt.”

“I’m Rory and he’s Allen. Are you real?”

Furry started laughing and said, “Real as a mad woman and her .44. Hang on, we’re gonna hurry up.”

The wagon picked up its pace, although it seemed to Rory that the scenery was moving and the wagon was sitting still. In just a few seconds the shuttle was at Graceland. A steady stream of people were entering and leaving, each paying homage to the King at his graveside.

“Are we going in?” asked Allen.

“Naw, your boy her made the King mad once when he cursed him at Olde Town Pizza around Christmas time.”

Rory said, “So what, nobody liked that ‘Ahhh OOO Weee OOO bullshit anyway.”

“You better be careful, son, the King has his vindictive tendencies. He’ll make you walk like the skinny bowlegged boy who had that bad jock fungus when you were in high school,” said Furry.

“Okay, I like Suspicious Minds. Better?”

“Now you’re talking. Let’s head over to Brinkley Street.” Furry snapped the reigns and everything started spinning again.

“Where are we going?” yelled Allen.

“Going to see Miss Moon, she’s old, but one hot mama. Then a meeting.”

“Meeting?” asked Allen.

“Yep. Some folks are getting together to see you on.”

Rory and Allen looked at each other and wondered what it meant to ‘see you on.’ They had no idea that Miss Moon had actually been a spy during the Civil war, sailed the great intracoastal waterway of the Mississippi to her imprisonment in NOLA, and died in Greenwich Village, New York City. She was a woman of great business sense and something of an artist. People loved her and thought her a beautiful woman.

“Furry, where have you been?”

“Miss Moon, we stopped by the King’s grave.”

“The King my ass,” said Rory. “What did he write.”

“Ummm-Hmmm, the goat was right,” said Minnie as she put her hand on Rory’s arm. “They are going to love this one.”

They had barely stopped at Miss Moon’s boarding house before they were off again. Furry smiled and cracked the reigns again. They arrived at the Auditorium Theater where Mr. Hu Brinkley was hosting the Swami Vivekanada’s lecture on Hindu culture. Hu and the Swami were standing at the doors waiting for Furry.

“Furry, where have you been?” asked Hu.

“Mr. Brinkley, we stopped by the King’s grave.”

“He backed out for tonight. He said something about racquetball in Blow Gym. I worry about that guy.”

“He plays racquetball?” asked Rory.

“Yeah,” said Allen.

“Okay, maybe he’s not so bad after all,” said Rory.

“Something how the better you get to know something, the better it is,” said Miss Moon.

“Come on,” said the Swami, “we must meditate before the show.”

“And you guys must have my tonic,” said Furry. He opened a bottle and poured a thick syrup on a plate. “Wait, it’s got to harden, become a coagulation, then you can scrape it off.”

They did and were immediately hit with lightning and moonbeams, the essence of Memphis. Any turmoil they were experiencing disappeared. The cosmic energy wrought the pain of uncertainty and walking for five months from their bodies and shaped them into open vessels for whatever was about to happen. The Swami led a meditation that put Rory and Allen into the clearest state either had achieved. Furry began picking an acoustic guitar. The twang and tinge of the sound pushed Rory and Allen towards a deeper clarity. He was Ptah, the Creator, taking the guys back to a time when they were blank slates. Being so relaxed, they were able to accept Isaac Hayes on stage with a beautiful flower fixed to his outrageous pimp looking outfit. He offered an electric funk from his keyboards that kept pace with Furry, but recognized his place in the group. Isaac acted as Nefertem, straddling the worlds of group member and superstar with the sweet smell of honey suckle. Finally, Memphis Minnie brought a voice to the group. She was a war goddess, Sekhmet, bringing song so pure that it was nearly scary to hear. She tapped into the source, but Rory and Allen felt that she was there to protect them with her magical voice. This was the Trio of Memphis performing rhythms of discovery that Rory and Allen were soaking in.

Allen looked over to Rory and said, “They’re singing the Sex Pistols. It’s Sub-Mission.”

“Right!” said Rory, “In a Delta blues funk kind of way.”

The guys closed their eyes. The Swami said something about not thinking. Rory opened his eyes and saw the moon, sun, and earth floating above the stage. The Trio of Memphis was now performing ‘New York’ in the coolest, purest, and most inspiring way. They were everything the Sex Pistols were not.

“You must come to New York,” said Miss Moon. “Everything will be fine.”

Everyone got on the wagon and started humming “Holiday In the Sun.”

pexels-photo-29601

Darkness brings about life
Where spirits take off in flight
Letting go of anger and strife
In the stillness of night

When spirits take off in flight
Thoughts fly to the afterlife
Particularly in the stillness of night
But death need not be rife

Thoughts of the afterlife
Weigh a spirit with fright
But death need not be rife
When one has gone to the light

 

Photo Credit: unsplash.com via Pexels

Wandering with breaths
Empty of inspiration,
The pain of respiration
To much without a foundation.

The early years
With baptisms and acolytes
Lost in Sundays full of competition
Between church and football pregame shows.

The middle years
A buffet of energy, enlightenment, and disdain
Where koans and righteous indignation
Questioned everything of faith.

Years bring understanding
That faith is necessary
And that man is given
An ability to question and choose.

A sense of peace and fullness of belly
Has come forward to inspire,
Making breathing deep
With solid faith in what is right.

Christian lessons, there since the beginning
Make certain a life of favor
While the others offer support
Keeping me whole.

“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.”