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Black Wolf's Words

Story ID:8296
Written by:Lisa Godin (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Story
Location:Cleveland Ohio USA
Year:2012
Person:me
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Black Wolf's Words

In the woods the irate rancher, breath flowing in puffs of white smoke chilled by Fall air, aimed his rifle at the black wolf with fiery red eyes lying down within arm's reach facing him.
"I've got you now, you Hound From Hell! You'll not be going after my livestock anymore!"
"Ignorant human!" Black Wolf snarled.
Startled, Rancher lowered his rifle.
"My God! You can talk!"
"Well of course I can, fool! These are sacred woods. Here everything is possible!"
Rancher re-aimed his rifle.
"Blast your name calling snout! You're about to meet your maker with a hide full of lead!"
"Nothing like a human with delusions of superiority hiding behind his big bad gun! Let's stretch that brain matter of yours with a good old fashioned heart to heart as you call it, before you do something stupid like killing me."
"We have nothing to discuss."
"Two-legged coward!" Black Wolf barked.
Uncocking his rifle Rancher lowered his weapon.
Black Wolf got to his feet. "Follow me if you dare," he challenged and trotted away.
Not one to run from a taunt, Rancher followed Black Wolf through the tangle of woods to a den dug into the side of a hill.
Black Wolf turned around and sat.
"Well what do you know, the great arrogant Rancher decided to follow me after all. Miracles never cease."
"Stop calling me names!"
"You don't get any breaks from me in the consideration department for pointing a gun at me. See that hole, Rancher? My wife dug it. She's inside having labor pains. You think I'm in a bad mood, she's worse. The pack is off looking for dinner."
"Yeah! My cattle!"
"Well excuuuuse me! The pack and I don't have a taste for your restaurant fast food, we're freshly killed meat eaters, Bub. Thanks to your kind chasing off most of our meals because of your greed for land, or killing them for sport, we have no choice but to eat your livestock. Frankly I prefer rabbit and deer. What you have gives me indigestion, but I gotta eat to live so I and the pack can't afford to be picky these days.
"My first wife was found dead in one of your traps! She had almost chewed off her paw to get free but time and infection got to her. I and the pack saw what your kind did to her. They skinned her while they laughed! I wanted to rip their throats out, but I had pups to attend so I led the pack away. My wife was trapped trying to find a rabbit to eat. But of course, you think even the rabbits in these woods are yours, too!
"Think it was easy telling my pups how their mother was killed on her own land? Think the pack didn't howl our loss? We're a lot more sensitive than you give us credit for.
"Another pack mate consoled me and we hooked up and let me tell you, Rancher, that lady wolf in that den had some big paws to fill. She's special and soon I'm going to be a father again."
"What happened to your other pups?"
"Poisoned! Another pack was making a meal off livestock because our prey is rapidly vanishing thanks to humans so your kind decided to try to exterminate us all. The deaths of my pups left me so depressed I couldn't eat for a whole week. Being pack leader I had responsibilities so I had to cut short my mourning."
"Your pack keeps taking my calves and that's why I hunted you down!"
"Like you'll really miss another pudgy calf! Look at me! I'm skinny as a rail. I used to be pretty damn buff before your kind disrupted things. You're just one of many killing off all my food supply. Who invited you on my land! I was here before you!"
"You're interfering with my ranch with your killing my animals, Wolf!"
"What a rationalizer you are! My struggles don't matter to you! Follow me!" Black Wolf commanded.
Rancher and Black Wolf traveled a mile toward open land. Black Wolf sat.
"What do you see?"
"Cattle."
Black Wolf licked his lips.
"Those cattle may give me indigestion but I'm always hungry. I'm not gonna starve for you. We're always chased off by you people with guns."
"Shooting is for our cattles' protection not yours, Wolf."
"Your cattles' protection! Your cattles' protection! There you go again. You, you, you! I've seen your kind steal from each other and fight each other, and you're worried about us?"
"I've got a business to run, Wolf. I'm losing money with each calf you take, each stray adult cow--"
"That's sick and wanders off you mean!"
"That's not the point."
"It sure is the point! We don't let that cow or calf go to waste. You kill your sick animals all the time. Don't know if you eat 'em though."
"'Course not, Wolf. That's barbaric!"
"Oh so now my pack and I are barbarians for taking sick animals off your hands! Do you think we care about your business? No! We care about surviving and it's getting tougher and tougher. You take more and more of our land. You chase or kill off our prey. We have to go further and further to find dinner. We trail an animal for days until we wear him down because we're hungry. We don't ask him who he belongs to. We're not mindless killers. The pack has mouths to feed. You make our food leave so we'll take what you have to survive. It's nothing personal.
"Just the other day I saw one of your Indians plunk himself down in the middle of open land, build a fire, light his pipe and sing. He saw me and motioned me to come closer. Well curious as all get out I trotted within a foot of him. He blew his pipe smoke at me. He wasn't afraid of me one bit. He had kind eyes. He put down a big fat wad of jerky and I gobbled it up. It was good. I thanked him and he wasn't at all surprised I can talk. He called me Brother. I went home and told my pack about him and we made a promise to ourselves never to harm him."
"Or his livestock?"
"He understands us, so I doubt he'd object if we took one of his animals because we're hungry and can't find anything else."
"I'll make a deal with you, Wolf. You don't mess with my livestock, I won't point a gun at you."
Black Wolf laughed with contempt.
"You can't bargain with nature, my man. We do what we do because we need to survive. Stop killing off all our prey, stop taking our land, respect us, and we won't have a problem with you.
"I'll leave you to think about things. If you still want to kill me in the future, before you pull that trigger, just remember that I'm a wolf. I can't change how I am. But your kind can change who you are by giving us more space, not over hunting what we need to survive. We don't have choices. You do!"
Turning on his heels Black Wolf ran into the distance giving Rancher food for thought.