Traveler: Storyteller Tales: Where Wolf?

            Glen had been to every house on the street, beginning with his own, to offer what comfort and reassurance he could.  Missus Patterson was in the hospital.  The newspaper said it was a local man who came to clean her gutters and pushed his way into the house.  Curiously, all he stole was the meat from her freezer and a big ham she had purchased for a church supper.  She ended up in the hospital and the police said they had no leads.

            Of course, the community rumors were rampant.  Most said it was one of the young African American males from Lewiston, the old name for the black side of town, but that was unconfirmed.  There were also rumors of dog hair in the house and Missus Paterson was well known for being allergic to dogs.  Linton would know.  That’s what Glen thought.  Linton served for years as part time clerk at the court.  He knew all the police by first name.

            The door chimes rang as he entered the shop and Linton looked up, but at the moment he was helping Missus Wilson with some hardware.  His was a true old time, small town south-side Virginia Western Auto and True Value with a high ceiling and dusty wooden shelves.  There were still some toys on the wall, though it was spring and well after Christmas.

            “Linton.  Maude.”  Glen acknowledged his church members but then backed up to let them conclude their business.  There was a young woman with a three-year-old on her hip by the toy shelf.  They stared at the big doll, and the little one reached for it before she turned and caught sight of Glen.  Glen smiled, and the three-year-old shyly turned into her mother’s shoulder, but the smile could not be hidden.

            “Hello.  Do you have a name?”  He asked the little girl and the woman turned.  Though a newcomer himself, Glen felt certain he had not seen them in town before.   He thought they might have been African American at first, and then thought perhaps they were Mexican migrants, but when he got close he adjusted his thinking.

            “Amuna.”  The mother spoke for the little girl.

            “My name is Glen.”  Amuna, he thought.  Amun perhaps.  They might have been Egyptian or maybe Sudanese.  If they were Arabic, they were from the dark side of the color scale.  “I pastor the big church just down the way on main street.  You are welcome to visit us if you are around tomorrow morning.”  He smiled again, but the woman did not look like she understood everything he said.  The little one understood the smile well enough and reached out a hand to touch Glen’s beard.  Glen pulled a small cross out of his pocket and showed it while he pointed down the street.  The woman’s eyes got big.  She actually curtsied before she shot for the door.

            “Migrant?”  Linton came up.

            “No, I don’t think so,” Glen responded thoughtfully.

            “Well, it wouldn’t surprise me.  Almost a full moon.  Sunday—tomorrow I think.  You know, every time we get a full moon, the migrants all come in to send Western Union money orders back home.”

            “Huh.”  Glen was half-listening and had to shake himself to pay attention.  “So tell me about Missus Paterson.  I’ve been up and down Rosemont.”  That was the street both he and Missus Paterson lived on.  “I’ve heard all the rumors but no one has seen anything unusual.”

            “Evangeline Hall?”  That was the all girls private boarding high school that took up most of the other side of Rosemont Street.  It was up on the top of the hill after a long stretch of manicured lawn and trees so it was hard to see from the street.

            “I haven’t been there, but I talked to Doctor Richards and he said there was nothing out of the ordinary up there.”  Doctor Richards was the retired Episcopal Priest who taught some at the school and served as chaplain for the girls.

            Linton turned to look out the door to the sidewalk and main street which was ready to curl up at five o’clock.  It seemed like he was not sure what to say.

            “I’ve heard all the rumors, but I can’t imagine anyone from Lewiston doing something like that,” Glen continued.

            “Maybe it was someone from Danville or Lynchburg,” Linton suggested.  Glen imagined that might be the case.

            “By the way, it wasn’t dog hair,” Linton said suddenly.  “Jonny Thompson over at the police desk said when the report came back it was wolf hair.”

            “What?”

            Linton nodded even as Glen put two and two together.

            “Wolf hair?  Full moon?  Come on, this is the wrong time of the year for Halloween.”

            “I know, there hasn’t been a wolf sighting in Virginia in a hundred years.”

            “I’m not even sure if there are any left in the lower forty-eight,” Glen scoffed.

            Glen and Linton stood and watched the sun start to set.  It was indeed a small southern town.

            “Shouldn’t you be home working on your sermon for tomorrow?”  Linton asked.

            “I suppose,” Glen said.  “Time to close?”

            “I suppose.”

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