The Story of the Goat

I feel like I never told you the story of the goat.

goatgooseOne of the first posts on this blog was ‘Goat Wisdom’, a quick little piece that fell out of me, originally as an exercise for the writing group, one of the daily challenges. The story formed itself and appeared to me quick, maybe more so than usual. I didn’t think much of it originally. I had recently returned to writing after a good few years away; it seemed once I got my fingers typing again the ideas started coming frequent and easy.

The little story popped right out. I was pleased with how it turned out. I submitted it also as my first piece for the website Eat, Sleep, Write. I started this here blog and want to put all my available writings all under one roof.

I’ve been culling works from old websites and blogs, some of them are buried a little deeper on the internet. Some of it took some crawling through the archives, but most of it eventually made itself available and I was able to copy it and refine it and put it up here or save for later.

In the archives, I ran across a forgotten blog. I had created it eleven years ago, one of my first internet forays. I was shocked to see it, at first I didn’t remember ever building it or working on it. It was short-lived, there wasn’t too much there at all.

One piece, though, was a bit of clumsy prose that I called Jalapeño Bridge, named after the song but trying to be something else. It was mostly about a guy wandering in the woods, getting lost in the trees and foliage, crossing a succession of bridges and finally at the end he comes across a goat.

I was shocked to read this. I knew it was essentially the same story as Goat Wisdom.

The details were a little different, and it seemed a little long and forced, but it ended up in the same place.

After I combed the internet I broke out the books. Not the notebooks, don’t be silly, not yet anyway.

These are the hardcover journals, the collections, the printed versions, perfect bound or homemade. In a green faux vinyl covered book, dated as 1993, I came upon some attempts at story telling that reminds me that I had no idea what I was doing at the time.

One of them was about this guy with a strange addiction. He went to strange ends to entertain himself in the hours and days between the moments he lived for. On this occasion when the story was following him, he had gone out trying to start a religion, just because it seemed like it would take a big chunk of his time and an extra dose of effort to get it off the ground. Near the end of the tale the man has collected quite an impressive following, and they demanded he share his wisdom. So he begins to tell a parable after which he can escape. He starts to tell a story about a guy who comes upon a goat.

I nearly split the sofa. I couldn’t believe it, again the same tale had come out and once again I didn’t recall ever telling it before.

Again a slightly different angle, in this one the goat could talk. But essentially came to the same conclusion.

Three times I had told this story, and three times I took slightly different routes, and never recalled telling it before. But it did always end up in the same place, and when it came down to the last line, when it came to the climatic conclusions, all three stories ended with the exact same sentence. Exact.

It bothered me a little that I didn’t remember either of the Goat stories, or the attempts I should say. Eventually it did afford me the opportunity, possibly forced me to refine the details until I got to the best version possible.

I probably won’t share the other versions, the early ones take a while to get into the meat of the story and when they do it comes across as a cartoon. I’ve been gathering and digging and finding all the better writings I have created, everything worthy of playing in public.

I would like to dig one day for the old words; buried, hiding in corner shadow closet darkness.  I would like to crawl again through the spiral notebooks I writ in before ever I learned to type or how to internet, the thirty-something college-ruled  Mead 5-star composition spiral notebooks, 10 x 7.5, three subject.

The thought sends an excited little chill through my spine. I am starting to hope, starting to wonder what may lurk there, abandoned and forgotten. Lost story lines, they have only been waiting for me to return when my skill has become proficient enough to properly tell their tale.


© Robert Emmett McWhorter

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