The Sheep Dog And The Wolf Chat AgainPosted: January 9, 2013
Back in 2011, I wrote a piece called The Sheep Dog And The Wolf Go For Coffee. It is about old rivals crossing paths a few decades and miles from where they once tormented each other. You might want to read that one before you go on to this post.
Yesterday, the old men met again. The Wolf is still with us. Though his body is starting to fail, his spirit has grown healthier.
The Wolf was outside the coffee shop when I drove up. He’d been kind of scarce. The word was that he’d been hospitalized.
The old wolf started roaming the neighborhood again a few weeks ago. I’d see him now and again, pushing the walker he’d been using about a year. I wanted to check on him, but I kept to my practice of not stopping to engage him. I’d stopped to engage him quite a bit in our past and I know he’s still wary when a police car pulls up near him.
There he was, sitting in the sun on his walker. He was talking to a young woman and her child. Their innocence made me smile. They had no idea who The Wolf was. He spoke gently with them; they laughed, accepted his blessing and moved on. While I held the door for the mom and her son, The Wolf called out to me.
“Happy New Year, Sarge. Nice day, ain’t it?” I took that as my sign it was OK to go over to him. “Happy New Year to you, I’m glad to see you out again” I said. “Heard you haven’t been feeling good.”
He told me he was better now. The stents they’d put in his heart were good and the stroke “…ain’t gonna kill me if that dope never did.”
“I’m glad you got off that stuff, you were a hell raiser when you were on it. I see the change in you, you’re a better man. I see it. You’re an old man, but you’re better.”
He laughed and said “who the hell you callin’ an old man and you got wrinkles ’round your eyes?” Then he stopped smiling. “Tell me something, how come some of your people can’t see I ain’t that man anymore? I’m off that stuff and gave myself to the Lord. I’m clean, I’m out here and I’m making money, not taking it. You know it, they don’t.” I babbled something about everyone making up their own mind. He nodded and went on talking.
“My own people can’t see it either sometimes. People I ain’t seen in years come up in here and try to sell me shit, or want me to sell it to them. I run ‘em off, Sarge. Some people only see who I was, not who I am. They ain’t never gonna see this man, not like you.”
We chatted a bit more about folks, the ones in his neighborhood and those in the past. “How long you been knowing me, Sarge?”
I mentioned the street he used to live on as a time reference, then said “your hair was black back then, and I still had all of mine”. He laughed and said “that was a long time ago. I’m retired from all that you and I was doing back then. Why ain’t you?” He smiled when I told him I’d be gone before the end of the year.
“God bless you, Sarge. You’re a good man. Go get you something to drink, I’m gonna sit here and pray for you to be safe right fuckin’ now, ’cause its important.
I said “Bless you, brother. Stay warm.” He nodded, bowed his head and put his palms together. People change. Wolves and Sheep Dogs do too.
When I walked back out with my hot chocolate, The Wolf was still praying.