I Was a Teen-Age Wolf Cub

Yeah, that’s me. I’m him.

I don’t get recognized nearly as often these days, but it still happens every once in a while. Usually in the supermarkets. It’s always the same routine, too: they take a good long look at me, glance down at the row of tabloid magazines near the checkout, then another quick peek. I’ve gotten used to it, though. I just flash them a patient smile and nod. Invariably, they turn away quickly and try to act nonchalant before looking back one more time.

It’s just one of those things. I brought the attention on myself, really. No one forced me to make the rounds on the talk-show circuit and give all those interviews. I mean, I signed that book deal with my own two paws. But what else could I do at the time? It’s not like I had any marketable skills to fall back on, you know? Howling at the moon and scratching fleas are great party tricks, but those talents just aren’t in high demand by the private sector right now. Hey, it’s a recession, man.

When I consider all that life has handed me, I just don’t get upset about being raised by wolves anymore. I’m past it. Sure, my parents lost me when I was a toddler, but let’s face it: I was no Little Angel, always wandering off. But life goes on, right? Those emotional issues have to be dealt with before you can get past them. The trick is to try to treat them as learning experiences. That’s a lesson for all you kids out there: when Mom and Dad say to hold on to their hand, just do it!

I finally had to stop giving all those interviews, though. It was always the same old song and dance: What was it like being raised by wolves for fifteen years? And really, that’s a pretty dumb question when you think about it. The problem is, no one ever stops to think about it. What was it like? What do you think it was like? It was furry and wet. We slept all day and howled at the moon all night. We ate meat and sniffed each other’s butts.

I always try to tell reporters that the wolves took great care of me. That the pack accepted me right from the beginning. That I had a happy and well-adjusted childhood. But no one ever believes that. Once I see that look of skepticism on the reporter’s face, I know it won’t be much longer until the camera cuts away to a stock photo of a lone wolf howling. I just smile patiently and remove my gloves when they ask for a close-up shot of my hairy hands.

It’s the ‘well-adjusted’ part that no one ever buys into. Is it really so hard to believe that some kid raised by wolves can still turn out okay? I mean, sure, there was an adjustment period after the police brought me back to my parents, but that’s to be expected. The first couple of months were pretty shaky, what with the howling and scratching wallpaper, but we got through it together. I still sleep all day, but at least I’m in night school. I got my GED and went on to study architecture.

Of course I miss my pack. How could I not? They were the only family I had for fifteen long years. We still keep in touch, though. We talk every full moon. I mean, I don’t want them to think of me as some kind of ingrate. The kid who eats all the raw chicken for years but never remembers Mother’s Day once he leaves the nest. Not me.

It’s always a happy reunion when we see each other, so I try to make it home as often as I can. After all, the Zoo is only two stops over on the Metro.


James Vachowski, P  James Vachowski,  P's website spends his days working as a renegade security contractor in support of the burgeoning military industrial complex, but his nights are devoted to writing fiction.