"...says Dr. Dickey, who I was once out shooting whitewing with—"
"Was pigeons, wasn't it?"
"No, you pecker checker, it was whitewing, and on the way back the air conditioning in the truck broke down, and this was the middle of the desert, see, and I didn't have the faintest what to do, so I turned to Dr. Dickey, and he just shrugged and said, 'If it ain't bleedin', I can't fix it.' "
There is no great battle to be fought in the Swamp Cooler. No society gets integrated here, no child's illness gets cured, no grand inquisitor is brought to heel. But neither can any shrapnel from the skirmishes of life pierce the Swamp Cooler's steel and further wound a man who has chosen to hunker down here. In the Swamp Cooler there's an audience that delights in a particular past being recounted, just so, by this man who has but one abiding, overriding wish: to be regarded not as saint, not as sinner, but as just plain innocent.
There's yet another story, from when Haskins was a college sophomore. "Back then they held the All-College Tournament in Oklahoma City around Christmas, and it was one of the highlights of the season. Made all-tournament that year, and afterward Mr. Iba didn't play me for three straight games. Asked him about it years later. I said, 'Coach?'—he let me call him Coach by then—'remember how I made all-tournament at the All-College and you didn't play me for three straight games?'
"He said he didn't recall. Which is a lie because he remembered everything."