We wandered through Knoxville today. I pushed us into town as far as I could last night, and we camped out in the veterans’ cemetery. The grass had been cut pretty short, but Gizmo managed a decent meal. It’s hard getting all the way through a big city like this with a horse. I don’t like having to ride him on the pavement of the streets and, besides, it’s dangerous. So, I end up walking most of the way and leading him. I don’t mind, but it’s slow going. People stop us all the time. Now, I try not to stop to talk. I look for a place on the map and tell them to meet us there in the evening, and we keep moving.

I was supposed to meet up with a fellow at the University of Tennessee to do a radio show. I had no idea the place was so big. I got lost trying to find my way around the campus, so finally I just blew it off and kept heading east. We didn’t quite make it out of town, but I found a nice park down in a little hollow, nestled among the big buildings downtown. It’s a bit weird because even though we’re hidden here, I can still see the tall office buildings sticking up above the trees.

So here I sit, in a dugout. It’s not a mud house, it’s an actual dugout. First base dugout, to be precise. I’m sitting in the one that says “Home Team,” and Gizmo is grazing in the infield. It’s dark but he’s easy to spot under the full moon out there near the third base line. The baseball field is part of a small community complex here. It’s concealed down in this wooded area, a little paradise right in the middle of Knoxville. We stumbled upon it late in the day as it was getting dark. I’m really thankful for it because I thought we were going to end up walking the streets of downtown Knoxville in the middle of the night. But here we are, hidden away in this beautiful little park. The field is fenced so I don’t have to stake Gizmo out. He can run free for the night. I have a roof over me, which is good because it’s been sprinkling a little bit. I should be able to stay dry here.

When we got here earlier this evening, I unsaddled Gizmo, brushed him down, and turned him out into the field. Then I stowed the gear and pulled out a paperback novel (Action at the Bitterroot by Paul Evan Lehman) along with the remaining Fig Newtons someone had given me earlier today. The sun had set, but still a little light remained, so I settled down to read. Like I said, it’s almost a full moon tonight, so I was able to read for a while. There were three Fig Newtons in the bag, and I ate them for dinner as I read.

A car drove down into park where we are and pulled into the parking lot across the way. It was soon followed by another, and then others. There is a small community building here, and the people all got out of their cars and went in. I figured they were having some sort of meeting. It turns out I was right because the occupants of one of the cars, a middle-aged couple, spotted Gizmo, and they came over to see what was going on. We spoke for a few minutes, and they told me they had seen us on the television news from Nashville. They asked if I would like some cake and coffee, which of course sounded great to me. So, I told Gizmo I’d be right back and went with them to the clubhouse.

There was a big group of people there—maybe thirty or more—and they were very friendly and all greeted me warmly. I asked about their meeting, and what sort of group they were, and one of them told me it was the local KC group, and that they meet every Monday evening. I had no idea what that was, so I just let it go at that. There were two big chocolate cakes sitting on a table next to a large coffee urn, along with a bunch of coffee mugs, forks, spoons, and paper plates. I was trying not to stare at the cakes, but they were huge rectangles of dark chocolate, and the idea of scarfing down a bunch of that sugar and caffeine was damned hard to resist. I was hoping they’d see my longing looks and take pity on me and offer me some, but things suddenly got a bit strange.

We were ushered into another room, where I saw a bunch of chairs arranged in a circle. The Leader Man (I never did learn his name) asked us all to take a seat, so we did. Then he said that before we began, we needed to create some vibrational healing energy and send it to someone named Mary or Martha. I didn’t quite catch her name, so I’m not sure which. Then they turned out all the lights, and all of a sudden, we were sitting there in the dark. I was getting a bit uncomfortable with it all, but I didn’t want to spoil my chances for cake and coffee, so I just sat quietly for the time being.

Someone turned on a slide projector, and there was a big screen and they had this big picture of a lady’s face there (it was Mary or Martha or whatever her name was). The man said she was in the hospital getting a procedure done (I didn’t pay attention, so I don’t know what kind) and that she needed the vibrations we could send her. So we sat in the dark looking at this lady’s face for about five minutes, which seemed more like an hour to me because I could smell the coffee from the other room. I was looking at her face, but all I could see was chocolate cake.

Just when I thought we were finished, Mister Leader Man flipped it to another slide and we had to do the same thing, this time for an elderly couple named Jim and Barbara (he pronounced it “JEE-yum aind BAHR-bruh”), who couldn’t make it tonight because of Jim’s phlebitis. So the leader said we should all think of Jim’s swollen veins and send vibrations to help shrink them. But I couldn’t keep my mind off the cake, and I thought, I wonder if they have strawberries, or maybe some whipped cream. And then I thought, if I send out my energy to shrink Jim’s veins, will it make mine swell? Anyway, after a long time of looking at Jim with the swelled up veins and his wife Barbara, they finally turned the lights back on. I was ready for some cake.

But no, that wasn’t happening just yet. Mister Leader Man put up another slide, though I couldn’t see it too well because the lights were on. It was an old picture of a guy with glasses, and I figured it was from the 1920s or 30s. He looked like he was talking on the phone, except he didn’t have a phone. He just had his hand up to his ear, like he was listening to his thumb. Maybe he was just scratching, I don’t know. Anyway, it turns out that it was a picture of Edgar Cayce. I had learned about him a few years ago when I was spending the night with some psychic hippies in a hobo jungle in California. So I at least knew who he was, and I figured out that this group isn’t the local KC group like I thought the guy had said. It’s the local Cayce group, as in Edgar.

And it turns out they thought they had somehow manifested Gizmo and me through some kind of enlightened energy transfer, or whatever Mister Leader Man called it, and we were there to bring some sort of new age enlightenment to them. I don’t know. It all sounded wacky. Most of them looked like they were lawyers or worked in bank buildings. They all drove nice cars. And I’m thinking they were mostly pretty well-to-do. It’s for sure they were looking for some answers to something, but I didn’t know what they might be. So I figured I’d just let them go on thinking that Gizmo and I were a couple of messiah types because, by this time, I wasn’t gonna leave without a cup of coffee and some grub.

Mister Leader Man had a nice suit and tie on. In fact, once I saw how expensive his clothes looked, I noticed that everybody was well dressed. Well, everybody except me. I was glad I wasn’t wearing my gun, though come to think of it, they might have seen that as another sign. So, we did what they called a sharing circle, which means that we sat around in a circle and shared stuff, one by one. Most of them—no, all of them—talked about their own problems and how they were working to overcome their fears and doubts, and how they were aligning energy and manifesting stuff, and releasing tension and conflict from other planes. Those sorts of things.

I was going over in my mind what I should talk about, but when it came around to me, I ended up saying that they could all just use Gizmo’s and my arrival here as a sign that points in the direction they’re heading. I made up some doubletalk nonsense on the spot as it came into my head. I don’t remember what I told them, exactly, but it made a big impression on them, and I had the feeling that some of them thought I was the second coming. They acted like they wanted to kiss the hem of my garment. It made me a little uncomfortable, and it felt creepy, but at least I didn’t have to talk about myself any more after that. They were convinced that Gizmo and I were making this ride just for them because we’re headed for Virginia Beach and that’s where Edgar Cayce was from. They called it an undeniable sign from Cayce himself. I thought about denying it, but then I thought, what the heck, I don’t know the guy, maybe they’re right, and I also thought about the cake and coffee again and didn’t want to mess that up. And I was hoping for some whipped cream with it.

They talked about what sorts of reincarnations they expected, like what sorts of people they had been in past lives and what they were hoping for the next time around. One guy said he had been a scientist in Atlantis in his past life.

I thought he’d said Atlanta, so I said, “Yeah, it’s still pretty warm down there this time of year, isn’t it?”

Then Mister Leader Man read a bunch of quotes from a Cayce book, mostly about spreading light and synchronizing your dreams and the sorts of things that tend to fly right past me because I don’t understand any of it. Mister Leader Man called it dream stuff. All this talk about dream stuff was making me sleepy, and by the time he finished reading I was having to pinch my leg to keep from drifting off.

I was thinking about trying to excuse myself and was going to tell them that I needed to check on my horse, but right about then the session broke up, and we all stood up and went back into the room with the cake and coffee. I didn’t care about manners anymore, so I went right to the head of the line. I don’t know if it was because of all the waiting, but that was the best chocolate cake I ever had. I ate a piece then snuck two more. I drank a bunch of coffee. There’s something about empty calories and caffeine that seems healthy in the right circumstances. I’m pretty sure I could live on those two items alone. The thing I noticed then was that almost none of them ate any of the cake. I figure they must not have been hungry.

And here’s the payoff: When everyone was leaving, a lady said there was cake left over and do you want to take it with you? So, I ended up with a whole cake and part of another one. Oh, and she gave me a plastic jug with the rest of the coffee too. I told her I’d leave the jug on the front porch in the morning.

So here I sit, in the first base dugout, watching my horse in the infield, like he’s going after ground balls. I don’t know if we were the answer to anyone’s prayers, but those folks were sure the answer to mine. I’m full and content. Gizmo’s out there eating a whole cake. He has chocolate all over his nose.