Chapter 33 - Fire Road
The wet ranger walked over and opened the cage door.
“Thank you big guy. I don’t know if you understand all that I’m saying, but I appreciate it. I hate to hurt animals. But you’re big enough, I don’t entirely trust Chet not to shoot you, just to be...”
Apoc looked him in the eye and he trailed off. Then the pole ranger nudged Apoc forward. Apoc bristled and didn’t move. He still looked at the ranger.
“Um, Robbie, loosen the loop.”
“Loosen the loop.”
“What the fuck for Alan? I got him. He’s going inside whether he likes it or not.”
“Just loosen the loop.”
“He can go easy or go hard, but he’s going.” Robbie pushed again, and again Apoc resisted.
“I got a feeling.” Alan said as he looked down at me.
“Fuck you, and your feelings Alan. He’s a timber wolf. A wild wolf.”
“Robbie, who got him up here? He knows where he is going. He let you put that loop on him for crying out loud. He’s been put in cages before... that’s obvious. He won’t go anywhere without his little friend here.”
Chet moved around behind Apoc, and raised the rifle.
“Chet? What are you doing?” Alan asked.
“Just making sure he doesn’t get any ideas.”
“Fine,” said Robbie and loosened the loop.
Apoc softened immediately, and walked into the open cage without Robbie’s urging.
Robbie had to stumble to keep up. Chet was in the way, And Alan grabbed the barrel of the rifle and knocked it upwards.
“What tha’ fuck Alan?”
“Chet, put that thing away before you hurt yourself,” Alan pushed Chet back with his hold on the barrel.
“Screw you Alan, I know how to handle my rifle.” Chet harrumphed and headed back to the SUV.
“See I told you. He wanted to choose to get in the cage.”
Robbie was nonplussed and removed the loop as he shut the cage. “Well aren’t you the fucking wolf whisperer now. Our own Dr. Dolittle.” He sounded cocky, but I could hear the tremor in his voice and could smell his fear still lingering on him.
Alan looked in at Apoc.
“See that?” he pointed at the tracker stuck in Apoc’s shoulder.
“That must have been how they knew to find them in a canoe... weird never heard of dogs or wolves riding in canoe’s by themselves. I’ve heard of them riding logs in the river back when this area was logged but that could’a just been tall tales my grandpa told me.”
“Nobody cares Alan. I get first dibs on the game.”
Robbie threw the pole into the back of the truck. “Shotgun!” And he took off running for the SUV.
The three rangers piled into the SUV in a tumble and it’s tires spun dirt into a fan on it’s way out.
Alan looked at me. “So you wanna ride back here with your friend? Or up front with me? I’ll let you stick your head out the window.”
I waggled my body.
“Alright boy.” He slammed the tailgate shut.
He opened the passenger side and I climbed up... man I was tired. And the adrenaline of feeling like Apoc was moments from being shot to death was fading. I sat on the seat. Alan climbed in, and looked at me.
“Ya know it’s the weirdest thing, but I keep getting the feeling that you can understand everything that I say.”
I nodded. Hey it worked before.
“Ha ha, good trick. Do you always say yes to every question?”
I shook my head.
“Wow, you know yes and no. Who’s the president?”
I... I... I didn’t remember. And WTF?!? Really? That’s your question when faced with a dog who understands everything you are saying? You ask for the name of the current political puppet who is warming the chair in the White House? Don’t you have anything more insightful to ask? Even, why do we sniff butts? Wolf whisperer my ass.
“Ha! Stumped you with that one.”
He started the truck, and it lurched forward. He gunned it and soon we were bouncing along a fire road. The dappled sunlight filtering down through the trees made little spot lights that streamed through the cab of the pickup. I stared at Alan willing him to look at me. Wishing he would go back to the previous line of thinking.
Hell, the children had been smarter than Alan.