Saturday, July 12, 2008

Crippled Wolf

Walhydra has been speaking recently with her friend Crippled Wolf, someone she has not mentioned before in this blog.

She and Crippled Wolf are twins of a sort, although she didn't even know about him until about four years ago.

Crippled Wolf says he came into being around the same time Walhydra did, when the amanuensis had polio at age four. He remained silent, though, until there was a dream.

In the dream, Crippled Wolf is a man just entering his sagehood.

To his kitchen door comes an athletic youth of twenty or so, fleeing from werewolf hunters. Although Crippled Wolf's friends, sitting inside at the table, try to warn him away from the youth, he knows immediately that this young man is to become one of his lovers—even though they will probably never make physical love.

The unnamed youth holds Crippled Wolf's eyes calmly, despite the danger of his flight. They need no words for Crippled Wolf to understand everything.

Before him stands a werewolf, yet almost nothing of human lore about such creatures is true. These are, in fact, wolves who have been cursed—or so it seems to them—into living as human beings, save for the night of the full moon. Only then can they return to their true forms. Only then can they remember all that they know.

"Make me one of you," Crippled Wolf whispers.

"You are one of us. Come with me."

As they flee, the full moon rises.
"Well," Walhydra exclaimed somewhat nervously upon waking. "That was a pretty story."

"What do you fear about it?" Crippled Wolf asked.

"Um.... Do we really have to go there now?"

"No."

"Well, then. I need to let it season for a while."

"As long as necessary. Blessèd Be."

Crippled Wolf withdrew into silence, though not out of memory.

Earlier this week, without conscious decision, Walhydra summoned him back.

She was leaving her library, just after lunch, on her way to another where she was subbing as Person in Charge for the afternoon.

As she crossed the street, she spied a tall, lanky young construction worker heading to lunch in the same direction she would be going. It was the sweaty sheen of his spikey hair and face which first caught her eye.

Damp teeshirt, scruffy blue jeans and work boots, his white construction helmet in one hand. A face which recalled Depression Era photos of resolute young men intent on survival.

Walhydra quickened her pace so that she could watch his butt shift as he walked. One of the best features of men—straight or gay—who are comfortable with their manhood.

It wasn't long, merely moments, before Walhydra began laughing at herself over the contrast between them.

Here she was, a gay male librarian of nearly 58 years. Short hair, wiry bronze-framed bifocals, grizzled goatee. Unbuttoned casual dress shirt, pleated-front khaki slacks and an upscale khaki "outdoors" vest (made in China), its numerous pockets full of electronic geegaws.

On her way to play manager-for-a-day in a tiny, African-American neighborhood branch library.

Not too conscious of her manhood at the moment, yet wearing it as she'd become accustomed to doing.

Having been trained admirably "behind the wall" during her prison counselor years, she drew up casually beside the young man, as if by chance while on her way somewhere else. Her cruising was strictly an "intellectual hornies" thing, not to be signaled in any way, out of respect for the other man's privacy.

In that carefully neutral way she'd learned on the prison yard, she glanced at the worker, said "Hey," and gave the briefest of head nods.

The young man glanced back with an open face, said "Hey, man" back, and went on his way into the parking garage, while Walhydra continued down the block.

"Ah, that was nice," said Crippled Wolf.

"What...? Oh, you're back."

"Yes." Crippled Wolf settled into a loose-limbed walk. "That was nice. I'd almost forgotten how it feels."

"Huh?"

"A simple man-to-man acknowledgement. No challenge, no posturing. Just brief eye contact, a nod, 'Hey, man,' and off to your separate chores. Nice."

"I don't get it," Walhydra wondered.

"Yes you do. He recognized me as a man—despite our obviously different worlds and roles. Saw I did the same for him. Tipped his hat, so to speak.

"No gender role challenges. Nothing to prove. Just 'Hey, man.' Nice."

They walked on to the car together, feeling content.

All afternoon, while Walhydra observed and remembered, Crippled Wolf enjoyed the slow, warm, easy pace of chatting and teasing with confident Black adults in their own element.

It was like being back in a prison dorm office—complete with broken air conditioning—hanging out with the male and female security officers. People who knew their authority was not about their uniforms or titles, but about how they carried themselves, how clearly and consistently they enforced the boundaries, and how uncompromising they were in respecting the inmates and demanding the same in return.

Crippled Wolf worked and joked with a woman about his age. ("I'm a great-gran, as of last week," she laughed, showing him the baby pictures on her cell phone.) He watched with admiration as she shepherded customers of every generation with equal attentiveness.

Children: "Little Man, I didn't even see you over the desk when you said 'Excuse me.' You're so polite."

Teens: "Look me in the eye when I'm talking to you. Don't you look away like you're angry. I told you to share the computer with him."

Peers: "Girl, you way too cool. She and I"—turning to Crippled Wolf with a laugh—"been harassing each other for years."

Elders: "Yes, ma'am, Mrs. Hendricks. Now you have a blessed day."

Meanwhile, a security officer with a linebacker's build and deep, patient voice alternated between keeping the boys in line ("Gentlemen, stop that language or leave.") and working the print release station to make certain Mrs. Hendricks' multi-page Microsoft Word document came out right.

Crippled Wolf sat and beamed, worked remotely on his management reports, or did chores like calling in computer problems. "I'm just here in case someone in the chain-of-command has to take the blame," he grinned, readily deferring authority of place to these people.

A sweet afternoon with real colleagues.

And so it is.

Blessèd Be.

Running Wolf





Note: Friday, October 29, 2004, one morning after a total lunar eclipse.

2 comments:

Cat Chapin-Bishop said...

Ah, once again you have left me breathless, blinking back water in my eyes.

I'm here in New Hampshire, taking a writing class toward final licensure in teaching, and we have been analyzing text, pieces of writing, all day. We're supposed to choose "mentor" texts to inspire us in our own writing, and I've brought Anne Lamott and Lloyd Lee Wilson along with me for that purpose. But now, I'm hesitating. Because what I really want for my writing is to be what this piece is--full of humanity, acknowledging the numinous and mystical aspect of life as straightforwardly and as lovingly as the blessed, beautiful ordinary aspects of it...

It's not really about technique, or if it is, it is about a technique of writing so in service to the open, compassionate heart as to be something much better than technique.

I don't really want to be a "writer", I think. Deep down, I just want to be a mystical, story-telling Truth dealer.

Like you.

Oh, blessed, blessed be!

Bright Crow said...

Sweet Cat!

I'm pleasantly overwhelmed by your compliments. It's so gratifying to hear back from readers that I accomplish some of what I long to in my storytelling.

There's an interesting irony here.

My whole life, my primary ambition has been to be a writer. I started writing stories as a grade schooler, and I've always enjoyed writing assignments.

However, I've never dared try to make a living writing. Too unsure of coping without a guaranteed paycheck.

Hence, I've also never had a readership—until the blogosphere appeared.

Such a blessing!

I don't worry about income, but I get to share with readers what I want to share.

Meanwhile, I want to say that your own writing definitely qualifies you as a "mystical, story-telling Truth dealer."

I'm just starting to read the latest three episodes of Cat's Spiritual Journey.

You are writing "in service to the open, compassionate heart."

And so it is.

Blessèd Be,
Michael Bright Crow