I remember watching Larry Bird play basketball late in his career. Saddled with recurring back problems, and hobbling up and down the court, my heart would sink at how he looked. Oh,Â there were occasional glimmers of the brilliant star that could zip a pass into the lane without looking at the target, or shoot a soft three-pointer that could set the cords on fire as it ripped through the net without touching the rim. But for the most part in those later years, I just wanted number 33 to be young again.
Like it or not, we become intrinsically tied to those who transcend the ordinary with their talent, and we either deny that time is taking a toll on them or we lament the fact that they no longer shine as brightly as they once did. Perhaps it’s because we reveled so deeply in theirÂ triumphs thatÂ we somehow believe they will never be matched. Or perhaps it’s because inÂ theirÂ decline, we see the toll time is taking on us as well.
Whatever the case, it’s clear that yet another star in our lives is beginning to fade.
In the old days, the famed creature, El Chupacabra, was a fierce and glorious monster, capable of the most foul things. In his very first outing, the beastÂ killed eight sheep. Eight sheep!Â And each was discovered dead with three puncture wounds in the chest area, and each completely drained of blood.
Completely drained of blood! Are you kidding me? That alone is enough to enshrine him in the Fabled Monster Hall of Fame (branches in Barret Station, Texas, Calumet City, Illinois, and Thunder Bay, Ontario)!
But El Chupacabra didn’t rest. From there, he embarked onÂ a magnificent career, draining the blood of herds of ovines, bovines, and equines alike. He sucked the blood of goats, leaving nothing but skin and bones still intact. He terrorized entire villages of people. That’s right. People!
El Chupacabra gained fame as well as notoriety, gracing TV shows, newspaper and magazine articles, and even T-shirts. He was a ruthless killer. He was international. He was big business.
But those were the halcyon days of the 1990s. Lately, the feared Chupacabra has slowly spiraled into mediocrity.
His downward trajectory is apparent in the latest news coming out of Blanco, Texas.Â Seems a man heard something rustling around in his barn. He thought it was a rodent tearing stuff up, so he set out some rat poison, and killed El Chupacabra.
So here’s our hero in his later days, folks. He’s gone from massacring entire herds of sheep to tearing stuff up in a barn. Tearing stuff up in a barn?
He’s gone from being a horrible flying creature with scales and feathers and poisonous hair and red fieryÂ eyes, razor-sharp fangs, and claws that could disembowel an elephant to this; a coyote with mange. . . .
Bear with me. My heart is there in Blanco with El Chupacabra, and I must pause till it come back to me. . . .