The middle is quite messy.
For a time when I was in high school, a buddy and I frequented a local pool hall.
We’d go play a few games on nights when we couldn’t think of anything else to do, or when we just wanted to have fun and kill a few hours.
I am, and have always been, bad at billiards.
There are angles involved, and I never gelled with geometry.
I rarely made shots, and I never won.
I just paid to sweat a lot.
I got a little better eventually, but I also got tired of paying $2 a game to get my butt beat in front of everybody.
Fortunately, I managed to persuade my buddy we should play pool at my grandparents’ house since they had a table and we could play as much as we wanted for free.
Our games continued after the change of scenery, and so did my losses.
My buddy and I arrived at my grandparents’ house one clear day, and I had already prepared myself for another inevitable defeat.
I climbed up the steps to the door, but I didn’t make it inside.
My foot hit the second step, and I heard a bloodcurdling bleat.
It came from the goat pen in my grandparents’ backyard.
More specifically, it came from the goat I’d bought to make a little money.
My Pawpaw had done well enough with cattle, and I’d gone to a few livestock auctions with him when I was a boy. I’d also been on the FFA livestock judging team at school.
I figured those qualifications were foundation enough for a serious business venture. I talked it over with my parents, and we decided goats might be a better start.
Pawpaw let me borrow a pen and a pasture, and then he helped me find a goat.
The gray nanny was pregnant when I bought her for $50, which made her at least a two-for-one bargain and brings me back to the bleat.
When I heard it I knew my goat was either about to die or a kid was on the way.
We took off toward the pen.
When I arrived, it was clear.
This was birth.
The goat stood with her head toward the wall so we had quite the view.
We also had a problem.
We saw two small legs, but we couldn’t see the kid’s head.
The baby was breech.
The nanny struggled and thrashed around.
We figured there wasn’t much time so we tried to help.
I grabbed the nanny’s horns to hold her still while my buddy went to the other end.
The baby wouldn’t budge.
We switched places.
I pulled until I lost grip.
Time was short so my buddy ripped an old feed sack into strips and I gripped the two small legs with those.
Nothing worked. We were filthy, and soon there wasn’t anything else we could do except let nature take its course.
It did. I was out 50 bucks, lost two goats and was once again confronted with three of life’s harsh realities.
Everything can’t be fixed, every problem can’t be solved and every story doesn’t end happily ever after.