My Bernie’s a real good man, except he gets these harebrained ideas. I try my darnedest to put the kibosh on them—like befriending Jake the Wolfman. We called him that ‘cause he kept wolves, well, not really wolves, but wolf dogs—half wolf, half dog—which some folks say are worse than wolves because they have instincts pointing them every which way.
I didn’t take to the idea of the Wolfman, but my Bernie’s the most curious guy in all of North Bend, and the friendliest, too. He’s a mail carrier and he got this route a few years back that included Jake the Wolfman’s spread. They started by sayin’ hi, and then a few friendly words, you know, how’s the wife doin’ or those sure are pretty critters you have there. Pretty soon Bernie was savin’ Jake the Wolfman’s mail till last and then shootin’ the breeze on his front porch for an hour or so before comin’ home, which I didn’t appreciate, and I told Bernie so.
But, you know, I couldn’t stay mad about it because Bernie has this sheepish grin that gets to me, so he can get away with anything, darn it. And after a while I guess I started to look forward to his stories about what was new with Jake the Wolfman because, let’s face it, things are pretty boring here in North Bend—just lots of us sittin’ around with nothin’ to do and nothin’ but dreams left of jobs that went south of the border or to Asia or wherever.
So Jake the Wolfman had about a dozen of ‘em in a big enclosure, about four acres. And he went in there and ran around with them, said the wolf dogs were his brothers. He tried to get Bernie to go in with him. Bernie swears he never did because a dozen of them crazy wolf dogs was just too much for him. But he did say one-on-one those wolf dogs were as sweet as can be and a little mysterious, too, like something out of a myth. I told him right then and there that was a big bunch of hooey. Oh, but Bernie looked so stricken by my words, I wished I could have taken ‘em back.
Then Bernie came home one day real down in the dumps. He flopped on his recliner and sat starin’ at the TV, which wasn’t even on, mind you.
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