chapter 16

More Wolf Lessons

After things settled down and the surprise of finding out I was a werewolf had worn off, Raven took me to the reservation doctor to make sure I was Ok. I was nervous about that at first fearing it would be like a witch doctor in those cartoons. But it turned out to be a regular doctor with regular old tests, who just took some blood samples, gave me a flu shot and other fun things (and by fun I mean painful). When it was over Raven took me out for ice cream. LB asked if he could have one lick and when I said yes he turned into his wolf form and swallowed the whole thing in one bite. "What". That was one lick’, he said burping. Raven got me another one while LB rolled around on the ground in wolf form complaining of a brain freezes. Raven gave me a look that seemed to say, " Serves him right."

"Ready for another wolf lesson?" I heard LB say to me after breakfast. "I guess so," I said. "Today’s lesson is

working on your body control, he told me.

"My what? Well I can always take Beano," I answered embarrassed by all this.

"Not that kind of body control, I’m talking about balance. Agility like on a balance beam," LB continued.

"I’ve never seen a wolf on any balance beam before, " I said. "Yeah, they probably won’t let us in the Olympics but we can practice on a logs. Like this one over here. He pointed with his nose to a big fallen tree on the ground and jumped on it.

See how I can walk to the other side without falling off? Now you try." I gulped. Balance beams were never my strong point in gym. I ranked it right next to dodge ball. I very slowly tried walking it but all four of my legs started shaking. And I slipped off every time. Lb didn’t seem to mind , he just kept telling me to get back up and try again. Its just like getting on a hours. Only it’s a log.

Can we try something ells I asked after id fallen off for the fifth time.

"Hey, that ditch could be used to practice jumping," said LB pointing to one nearby. Jumping now that I could do. The ditch didn’t look so deep till I got closer."Come on," he urged as he jumped over it easily as if it was a rain puddle. I ran as fast as I could trying to get a head start but I stopped when I reached the end.

"Jump!" He shouted.

"I, I can’t, I’m scared," I said in a wimpy voices.

"Of heights or logs?" LB asked.

"Heights! Isn’t everyone just a little afraid of heights in one way or another?" I asked trying to remind myself I wasn’t the only one who got scared.

"Not Indians. No Indians are afraid of heights," said LB.

"All Native Americans?" I repeated in disbelief. I didn’t say Indian though, because I doubted I could pull it off. "Yes all of them", said LB proudly. "Maybe while you’re living with us that will rub off on you." I seriously doubted that, I had always been afraid of heights. I also doubted that every single Indian in the world had no fear of heights. But I didn’t want to argue with him. I tried several times to jump the ditch, but each time I stopped when I got to the very edge. "When am I ever going to need to jump over something like this?" I asked exhausted.

"You never know, everyone needs to jump at some point in their life", said LB patiently. I got the sense he would wait all day for me to jump if he wanted. "Except elephants, they are the only animals on earth that can’t jump according to Red. But that’s a good thing, because they would cause earthquakes all over the earth if they did." "Uh. Do we have to do this now?" I asked pleadingly.

"I guess we can take a break, " said LB in a bored voice.

"Yes" I said to myself.

"We’ll train some more after lunch, said LB.

"I’ll go see if I can catch us a squirrel or mole. Moles are easier to catch but there not as tasty as squirrels, but squirrels are very hard to catch because they have such a strong will to live. Of course it helps they can climb trees." I gulped, when I had asked if we could take a break. I had meant until tomorrow, hoping he would forget about this part of the training.

*****

You look exhausted Trooper," said Raven concerned. "What did LB do to you?" When he said that I noticed Dumbo was shifting nervously on his shoulder as if she really wanted to know too.

"We learned jumping," I said eating my sandwich. Silver Ear didn’t think I was ready to eat a squirrel just yet (to my great relief) despite LB’s persistence that he could catch one.

"Oh lord, he didn’t take you to that huge gorge did he?" Raven said very worried. "Huge... gorge?" I stammered gulping down my sandwich. "We were just at a small ditch."

"Well it’s not so much huge as it is enormous. You could throw a dead body down there and no one would ever find it," said Red walking by. Raven gave me a concerned look,

"Are you afraid of heights?"

"Uh. No." I said not very convincingly.

"Maybe you would like to hear the other Raven story", Raven asked. "Sure," I said just glad to change the subject. Chapter 20 Raven and Fresh Water "There was only one well of fresh water. A man, called Nanook had made his home around the well and just like the sky chief he wouldn’t share any water," said Raven. I wondered if all the bad guys in this story were selfish I thought to myself. "So the raven came to the house and when he was invited in he told a very boring story. It was so boring that Nanook fell asleep, so raven was able to drink all the fresh water." "I thought he was getting it for the people?" I asked confused. "He was, the only way he could carry the water back was to swallow all of it," Raven answered. "Couldn’t he use a thermos?" I asked. "A thermos bottle wouldn’t hold all that water," said Raven. "But a small bird couldn’t drink all the water", I pointed out. "I usually think of the raven in this story as being much bigger", Raven explained. "So after he drank all the fresh water, he tried to fly up the chimney, but he was so big he couldn’t fit. " "But Santa Claus can", Red stated coming back into the room. "Uh Santa’s magic," Raven said. "But isn’t this raven magic too?" Red asked. "Yes, but in a different way. Like the way super heroes have different powers; you wouldn’t call on Aqua Man when you’re in the desert." As Raven explained he looked more bored than annoyed with Red’s questions. It was as if he’d already explained this a million times before to him. "So anyway when Nanook woke up he threw wood on the fire to try and choke the raven who was still stuck in the chimney, but the raven managed to pull free. He flew high into the sky and spit out all the water for everyone to enjoy, but this feat came with a price." "Yeah, we have to drink water that’s been in a bird’s mouth," I said a little grossed out but relieved that the bird had only spit it out. At least he didn’t have to pee it out. "No, that isn’t it," said Raven holding back a laugh. "It’s that raven’s feathers all turned black, from being in that chimney," said Raven. "I thought they turned black when he carried the sun?" I asked. "Oh. Yeah that’s how he turned a little black. He really turned black when he got stuck in the chimney," Raven explained. "Wouldn’t it make more sense if he turned black from carrying the sun?" said Red looking confused even though I am sure he had already heard this story before. "This is why Gram-Gram usually tells the stories around here. She knows all the answers, and people interrupt her less too," Raven said going to the kitchen to make his own sandwich. After he left LB came in the room in wolf form holding a dead squirrel in his mouth. He went to the kitchen with it then came back in human form with the squirrel on a plate with a knife and a bag of bread. "I thought maybe you’d like a squirrel better if you eat it like a sandwich", LB explained putting the squirrel on a pieces of bread then spreading some mustard on it as if it was a piece of bologna. "Ewe"… I groaned. "Not in human form silly’, LB said annoyed I couldn’t figure that out while placing a piece of cheese on the squirrel. "You can only eat it in wolf form. But it’s hard to make a squirrel sandwich in wolf form what with the lack of thumbs. So what you been doing?’ he asked putting the finishing touches on the squirrel sandwich and adding the top piece of bread by squishing it down flat. For a second I worried the squirrel might still be alive and jump out of the sandwich. But as if he was worried about the same thing LB slammed his fist down on the sandwich to make sure the contents were dead. Or maybe just to make it flatter. "Uh ... Well… Raven was telling me a story about..." "Oh let me guess, Ravens. Big surprise". He said while putting away the bread, cheese and mustard in the kitchen. "You know that Raven wasn’t always named Raven," said LB from the kitchen. It sounded like he was drinking from the milk carton when he said it. "Really?" I said "That bird name used to belong to our older brother," LB explained. "I thought Raven was the older brother?" I asked "NO he’s not!" He said sternly then feeling guilty when he saw me shrink back into my seat and then he said it again more gently. "Raven is the second oldest as we had an older brother named Wilder. Then after he left, on a spiritual journey or something, the bird stayed with him, that’s when we started calling him Raven, before his name was (LB snickered before he said it) Garfield." "Garfield you mean like the orange cat in the comics?" "Well our Mom was thinking about former president Garfield, but that is what everyone else thinks when they hear his name. I used to always say hey Garfield, where is Obie? Or hey Garfield we have lasagna tonight." He started laughing so hard milk came out of his nose. "He’d hate that, but when Dumbo started hanging out with him, we started calling him Raven and it just stuck. Now that Dumbo is hanging out with you I can call him Garfield again." He's started to giggle. I giggled too; it was just a little funny. Raven came back into the room with a sponge to mop up the drops of squirrel blood. "Hey! I was going to get that," said Lb annoyed. "Trooper said you were teaching him to jump," Raven answered. "Yeah so?’ he asked deviously. "You weren’t thinking about taking him to that gorge in the forest were you?’ "God no, give me some credit. I would never take him there. God what’s wrong with you?" "I just wanted to be sure," said Raven crossing his arms sternly. "Ok Ravvvvenn,"he said starting to smirk and gave me a wink. I started to laugh too. I couldn’t help it. Someone with Garfield for a name was pretty funny. Raven eyed both of us suspiciously. "Let me guess, LB told you my birth name, didn’t he?" said Raven uncrossing his arms. "Well maybe," said LB with a mouth full of squirrel as he sheepishly placed what was left on his sandwich. "First off it’s not Garfield, it’s Graf. Then LB added the field part, turning it into Garfield." LB started snickering again. "And second of all..." (He paused while smiling his own sheepish smile) do you know what LB’s real name is?" "Uh… no," I said curiously. Lb had stopped laughing and his eyes were bulging out of his head. "Would you like to know?" asked Raven. "NO HE WOULD"T!!!" said LB looking mad. "It Robin," said Raven. "Ahhhhh!!!!" groaned LB putting his hands to his face as if he was too embarrassed to show it anymore. "Like Batman’s sidekick," said Red." The one who wears no pants." "He wears pants, they are just very short, " grumbled LB looking down at his squirrel sandwich. "Try calling LB Robin for a while," said Raven snickering. "Its not Robin from Batman, it’s Robin like the bird! That’s what Mom had in mind", said LB as he peevishly put his sandwich on the floor. "But wasn’t Robin on Batman named after a bird too? So it is the same," said Red "Shut up!" Said LB. He had turned into his wolf form and I noticed his ears were lying back on his head. He sniffed the squirrel sandwich and in one big gulp swallowed it with little chewing. "I’ll get you another squirrel Trooper," said LB leaving the room in disgust. After he left we all laughed a little.

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