“I know and someday we’ll do a show,” quaked Goliath. The thought of playing guitar and performing in front of a crowd scared Goliath.
The two children were going to Armar to see if something could be done for Goliath. Lucy was on the verge of leaving Red Balloon.
“Armar, Goliath still won’t play in front of the forest.”
“I just want to take more time to polish some of our tunes.”
“Ch-choo! Tell me, Goliath, what’s the real reason you hesitate to play. I often hear Red Balloon practicing. It all sounds good.” Armar’s cold was a great burden to the peach tree.
Goliath lowered his head and let out a long sigh. He admitted to being afraid of playing in front of crowds. Armar tried to encourage him by saying Johnny Bears probably had the same fears when he started out. Lucy just became more agitated.
“I was never afraid.”
“Squirrels are always boasting about their courage to leap from limb to limb high in the air. I like to think rabbits are more responsible.”
“That’s the problem Goliath. You think.” Lucy launched into an agitated scratch behind her left ear.
Armar sighed. “Let’s not solve the world’s problems in one sitting.”
“Will you help Red Balloon?”
“What’s the point of practice?” Jelly, the bat, was becoming impacted by Lucy’s doubt in Goliath.
“Armar’s working on a solution.”
Goliath was thinking about how Armar would help Red Balloon when Lucy rushed in and tackled the rabbit.
"Great news! Johnny Bears cancelled because Johnny’s recovering from a bee attack. The whole forest agreed that Red Balloon should take Johnny’s place. This our big break.” Lucy scampered around the studio with squirrel-like joy.
“We can’t do a show like that. We’re still working on a few tunes.”
Spots, the vulture, Jelly and Lucy appraised Goliath with stone-faced silence.
“Is this the fear of crowds thing still? I’m leaving if we don’t do it,” came Lucy’s ultimatum.
“It’s not just the crowd. Y-you can’t leave the band. Who’s gonna play piano? You two are in on this?”
Jelly and Spots nodded with unashamed agreement. Spots spoke first.
“You’ve got till tomorrow, Goliath. My drums won’t keep forever.”
“If this is gonna be all out mutiny, I just might be packing my things tomorrow. I’m gonna see Armar and I hope your attitudes are better when I return!” Goliath stormed out of the studio.
“THIS ENDS TONIGHT!” he shouted to the black sky strewn with sparkling white stars. A ball of light streaked across the sky and disappeared.
“Who is it? Ch-choo!" Slumbering bats and squirrels went into vigorous complaining on Armar’s branches.
“It’s me, Armar.”
“You should be in your den asleep.”
“But I need you. Red Balloon is about to break up. I have till tomorrow to come through or the band will leave me for good.”
“I seem to remember a potion the orchard used to make, Peach Courage. I have most of the ingredients but the juniper and oak essences are down in the valley.”
Goliath had to go to the valley to get the ingredients. When Goliath got there he could see something was not right. Oaks were stamping their roots at the floor of the grove. Junipers were scampering around the oaks. Goliath saw Peach Courage slipping away.
“Oaks want to hog all the sunlight in the grove. We refuse to let you bully us out of here.”
“Junipers are the ones being greedy with the sunlight.”
Goliath had to think fast. He got them to agree to stop fighting till he could prove a theory.
“I don’t know how you plan to do that. Junipers are not good negotiators.”
“It’s the oaks who can’t keep an agreement!”
“Well, there’s our first hurdle. Who can keep an agreement, agreed?”
Goliath launched into arranging the oaks and junipers. They would not let Goliath near them to retrieve their essence until they were sure about Goliath’s plan.
“Wait, and nobody move! Watch.” Goliath was sweating, hoping his theory was correct.
When the sun began to shed its early fingers of dawn over the grove, Goliath encouraged them to remember their oaths and be patient for just a few more moments.
“You see. Everyone gets plenty of sunlight. Oaks are so high that, when the sunlight is at a particular angle, the junipers receive more than enough of what’s left over. Young saplings are sure to get more than their share of sunlight to grow just as tall as all of you other great oaks. And junipers, your humble place on the ground is elevated honor in the grove.”
Goliath got to work collecting the essences.
Armar seemed to do more thinking and remembering than conjuring the Peach Courage. Goliath paced nervously around her roots.
“Oh, I feel so good. Red Balloon, this is our night. I trust Armar and her Peach Courage.”
“When did you take that stuff?” Spots asked with worry.
“A little while ago.”
“Armar’s potion may not last that long. The concert is still an hour or so away.”
“It may have worn off, Goliath. Whoa, catch him, Jelly!”
The rabbit was absolutely limp in Jelly’s wing. Spots came with a quick smelling salt from the skunks.
“You passed out when Spots told you about the potion wearing off.”
“Lucy, where are we? The last thing I remember is hearing some awful news.”
“Listen, Goliath, I want you to go on stage as though you’re simply giving a speech to a group of trees or shrubs. Remember how you averted the war in the grove?”
“Well, forget about potions. Put in your mind that you’re simply going out to handle affairs between a group of opponents. Bring peace to an imaginary situation.”
“I-I think I can do it.”
“Yea, we’re behind you all the way.”
Red Balloon was laying down the rhythm to Don’t Go Cricket. They went through the chorus twice and lowered the volume of their instruments to make way for Goliath’s entrance. But the rabbit did not appear. Lucy shook her head nervously and frowned. She prayed Goliath would come through, potions or whatever. The third chorus was wrapping up. Goliath shuffled onto the stage. Nervous drops of sweat flooded from his face. His hands were trembling. The third chorus ended and he finally turned and started the verse to Don’t Go Cricket.
“Don’t Go Cricket... shakin’ a stick at me. ‘You know that ant hill was left right there for me.’”
“Don’t Go Cricket said, ‘I aint fraid’ o’ you, I beat a lizard and I’ll beat a rabbit too!’”
The whole room was standing going wild. The noise over the amplifiers woke Goliath out of his fearful slumber. He began soloing, mesmerized by the crowd. Animals and insects roared at the stage. Goliath eased. He motioned the band to quiet. Red Balloon looked at each other with joy. He was talking into the air with every note. He hit a note took his paws off the guitar and let the note ring. Goliath motioned to the group to turn up the volume near the end of the second chorus.
“How about Red Balloon!” he bellowed. The crowd encouraged more. “Com’on Red Balloon, let’s take em home!”
Goliath was all over the neck hitting perfect notes, mouthing silent words. Colorful shapes began floating out of his mouth. The figures became thick and colorful. Goliath turned his gaze to the crowd. His eyes blazed fire. The figures from his mouth became ancient stories and lessons of faith.
“I finished the last verse and the rest of the show’s history. I engaged the crowd. The forest left the show with changed lives, having seen a real spiritual experience.”
“You know, Peach Courage was nothing but nectar and water,” giggled Armar.
“So, it didn’t matter that it wore off?”
“Nope. I’ve watched you since you were a kitten. You were always in touch with something beyond the confines of the forest.”
“You lied to me about Peach Courage.”
“No, Goliath, I only repurposed a meaning.”