The Tale of Goober Dan
We crept stealthily through the musty darkness of the cave in total silence, Goober Dan leading the way blindly as I clutched my flashlight behind him. He paused every few steps or so, glancing over his shoulder to be sure I had not abandoned him. The dim beam of the light barely illuminated the vast cavern and even though it had only been a few weeks since Jack Walker and I had brought a couple of girls out for a tour of the cave, I found myself extremely unsure if we were on the right path.
"Watch out Goober, there’s a bottomless chasm up ahead somewhere. It’s a good four feet across. Don’t fall in it!"
Moments later Goober literally disappeared. He had found the chasm.
Goober was our fall guy. There was no other reason we ever allowed him into our group other than he was good for a few laughs. A skinny little guy with far too much hair on the top of his head, Goober could bring a smile to your face just by looking at him. High strung and overly nervous, much like a little Chihuahua, our friend’s high pitched voice tended to become even higher and louder the more excited he became, which seemed to be every few minutes. But one thing must be said about Goober…he did love a good adventure.
In my novel, Nineteen Seventy Something, I slighted Goober in an attempt to keep my book from growing to biblical proportions. Rather than take up numerous pages to explain yet another character, I combined two school buddies into one and named them Teddy Knight. It was Goober Dan that fired the revolver at Jake Wilham the night he chased us through the streets of Delight, Texas. If you’ve read my book, you’ll recall he fired directly across Rusty Steele’s nose at the Trans Am that threatened to run them off the road. While the mere mention of Goober Dan still brings back horrible thoughts of getting my nose shot off, there were many other tales that never were told in the book.
It was Goober who bought a red strobing light with a suction cup to stick on top of his car. I was with him the night we pulled over the sheriff’s daughter and a car load of her girlfriends on some country road. They, drunk as they were, beat the both of us to near unconsciousness once we got them stopped. They were all in tears and we were laughing with tears in our eyes. It was a very emotional physical altercation, one I fondly remember to this day.
Goober had a part time job at the local radio station, working the weekend shift. I recall many summer Sunday afternoons heading out to the tiny metal building north of town and spending a few hours keeping Goober company while he played one recorded religious program after another. We’d listen to Alice Cooper and ZZ Top over the radio station’s quality speakers while some minister preached fire and brimstone over the radio. It was one of those Sundays that a lonely light bulb hanging over the DJ desk suddenly illuminated. Goober Dan sprung from his chair, tripping over it and nearly fell to the floor. He, with panic in his eyes, leaped toward an old dusty teletype machine that sat in a far corner of the room. I followed behind.
He stuttered as he pointed at the bulb, "That’s the light that alerts us that the Emergency Broadcasting System has been activated! Something terrible has happened! The Russians have probably bombed America!"
Goober fought to catch his breath as his eyes locked onto the silent teletype machine. Minutes passed…nothing came over the wire. Finally he shrugged. I shrugged. We then put on Lynard Skynard…and turned it up loud so we wouldn’t hear a bomb if it hit the station.
Oh, the cave? I had no doubt that Goober had stepped into the chasm the moment he disappeared from my sight. I shined my flashlight down and saw him clinging to the edge, his eyes wide with fright.
"Help me! Please don’t let me fall!"
I stared at my friend and thought for a moment. What would I tell his parents if he fell to his death. After all, his dad had explicitly forbidden him to go to the cave. I was sure they would blame me for being a bad influence on him. I sighed and laid the flashlight on the floor of the cave, extending my hand. After a few frantic moments, he managed to pull his body over the edge, rolling to safety where he lay panting.
"Now you see why I wouldn’t let you carry the light? You’d have dropped it in the chasm and we’d be stuck in here in the dark."
"If you’d let me carry the light, I’d have never fallen in! So let me carry it now!"
"No. It’s my flashlight…Goober, did you pee your pants?"
"Dude, I was really scared! I nearly died. Where are you going? Don’t leave me!"
I shouted over my shoulder, the sound echoing through the cavern, "Dude, you peed your pants! I’m leaving you here."
I could hear his footsteps behind me as he scurried to catch up.
"You won’t tell anybody I peed my pants will you?"
Well Goober…I managed to keep it a secret…until now!