The Spirit of the Wolf
By Anne Spackman
Copyright 2014 by Anne Spackman
All rights reserved.
A sea bird called overhead, some kind of gull or tern.
Bitterly cold weather had struck Alaska that spring. There were no flowers yet, even though there usually were by this time of the year.
Young Bryan Foster was out on a hike in Denali State Park. Bryan liked the outdoors very much, and was a hardy young man used to hiking rugged terrain, though he came from New York—well, initially Pennsylvania. Bryan took care to be well-equipped on his hikes. He wore good hiking gear, sturdy boots, and a rainproof jacket before he went out. He had a big backpack with everything he needed in it—including water bottle, Swiss army knife, and food. He always came prepared.
The skies threatened rain suddenly as Bryan was walking the trail in Denali State Park. After a while, during which time no rain came, Bryan decided to continue, undaunted by the stormy skies. He decided to take the chance that it would stay fair for a few hours.
So far in Alaska, Bryan had seen moose in the forest, but no signs of any bears—thankfully. Bryan had visited a reservation of the Inuit People of Alaska and had seen seals that the Inuit hunted for food and furs. Bryan had spent 5 days so far touring Alaska, but unfortunately hadn’t been able to go on the glaciers because of bad weather.
Bryan was enjoying his vacation to Alaska, and things had relatively gone as planned so far.
Then, after an hour or so hiking, Bryan stopped when he heard a sudden noise in the distance. Could it be a wolf, or some other animal? Bryan went to look, taking several steps off the trail. There, in the undergrowth, was a tiny wolf pup, shivering only a little, and making plaintive noises, as though it was hungry, and there was no sign of any other living creature, not even the pup’s mother.
The wolf pup looked up to Bryan and whimpered.
Bryan was immediately concerned for it. The pup seemed abandoned. Bryan almost didn’t want to touch the wild animal, though, since it could be dangerous. But the poor little guy was so weak, Bryan noticed. So he pulled out his cell phone and called the Denali State Park Rangers to notify them of the orphaned wolf pup.
“Hi, my name is Bryan Foster.” Bryan said.
“Bryan Foster, and I’m hiking on a trail in Denali State Park. Look, I’ve found a wolf pup out here—he can’t be very old. He looks hungry, too. I don’t see any sign of the pup’s mother. Poor little guy seems awfully thin and scrawny.”
“Hang on, Mr. Foster, and we’ll send someone to investigate. Where are you?”
“I’m about two and a half miles down the Kasugi Ridge Trail.”
“Thanks, we’ll be there as soon as possible.”
So, Bryan waited with the pup for nearly an hour. He talked to the wolf pup to keep the little pup company, but the wolf pup never moved. He just looked at Bryan, and stayed at a safe distance away from him. But he watched Bryan closely, and if Bryan moved a little, the pup reacted.
Then finally, a couple of people showed up on the trail. They wore uniforms and had gloves on to protect their skin from any disease that the pup might have.
“We’ll take it from here. Thanks for the call. Mr. Foster, I presume?”
“That’s me,” said Bryan. “I don’t think he can move very fast. He’s weak.”
“From the looks of him, he’s not been fed in a while. No telling what happened to the mother—or the other pups, assuming he’s part of a litter. Maybe he wandered off. We’ll handle it. Thank you for the call.”
Bryan nodded, and watched while the two men took care of the wolf pup. He then decided to continue on down the trail.
* * *
Two years later, Bryan was back in Manhattan working on an advertising project. He had been working late into the night and decided to go out abruptly for a drink.
He headed outside and got onto the subway for Bleecker Street to a bar he liked.
“A whisky, please,” he shouted to the bartender as he sat on a stool in front of the bar. The music in the bar was really loud.
That was where he met his future girlfriend that night. Her name was Jane. Jane came in, looking disheveled, and sat down on the bar stool a few seats up from him. Jane looked upset by something. He didn’t know why it bothered him that she looked so upset. She wasn’t gorgeous, just pretty, but had an appealing aura, as it were—hard to say exactly why it was he was attracted to her, but he was. Maybe it was because she was confident.
“Cosmo,” she said, putting down twelve dollars for the drink. She sighed deeply. He got up and approached her.
“You are having a day,” he commented loudly to her.
“Does it show?” she laughed. “Yes. I had a terrible day. Work was—well you can guess. And I have an early meeting tomorrow. But, I guess I can sleep this week-end.”
“I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to give you my card. I hope you’ll call. I could be the one, you know,” he laughed.
She looked hard at him, with a kind of puzzled look. “Could be.”
That was how it began. He ended up being a considerate boyfriend, but was not madly in love with her. He liked her, though, and liked to spend time with her. And she had qualities he admired.
Then one night, Bryan wanted to plan a trip together back to Alaska. Jane didn’t want to go at first. Then, she agreed that a three-day holiday, plus two travel days, would be all right.
They arrived in Denali, Alaska the second day. That was when he heard the wolf’s call again. Bryan and Jane were talking, walking along the trail, when the wolf darted into their path. Bryan looked it dead in the eye, and the wolf stared back, with its intense glare that affected Bryan deeply for some reason.
“He’s a beauty,” said Jane.
“We’d better go back,” said Bryan, remembering the wolf pup he had helped to rescue before. “I don’t know how safe the trail may be this late.”
So they turned around. Bryan got a strange idea that this was somehow an omen.