Tears of the Wolf
Crow Reservation, Billings, Montana
Jacob Graywolf walked in the door at six on Friday evening. Jessie, the gray-chinned black Labrador mix, greeted him with a slow wave of her tail and slumped down at his feet. “How you doing, old girl?” He rubbed her head, and she gave him a doggy grin. “Biscuit?”
Her head jerked up, and her tail thumped. “Here you go.” He dug a treat out of the jar. “The way you like it.”
Setting a bouquet of flowers on the table, he placed his black-padded jacket on the hook and looped his Sam Browne over the next one. The belt with his holstered side-arm hadn’t bothered him all day. The moment he arrived home, however, it seemed as if the tools of his career—even the light-weight Kevlar vest— weighed a hundred pounds.
The tantalizing aroma of roasting turkey filled the kitchen, and his stomach growled in anticipation of a feast.
Rummaging under the sink to find a suitable vase, Jacob’s hand fell on the one he’d made for his mother in middle school using the class pottery wheel. Streaks of blue and red drizzled down the sides, cooked into perpetual tears by the kiln. Perfect. After he trimmed the ends of the stems and removed the greenery that would slide beneath the surface and hasten the decaying process, a thorn pricked his index finger and a rivulet of crimson sluiced into the water. With his dry hand, he pulled out a tissue and pressed it to the weeping wound. He placed the red roses in the center of the table set with three place settings, a braided loaf of challah, and two unlit white tapers. A whisper of a sound, and his mother entered the kitchen—wrapped in a colorful, geometric-patterned dress, her long, dark hair still damp.
“Jacob! You’re early. And you brought my favorite flowers.” She pecked him on the cheek, and the scent of eucalyptus washed over him reminding him of his asthma treatments as a child. “You must’ve gone all the way into Billings for them. Thank you.”
“No, Mom. I’m on time. And you’re welcome.” She smiled and waved a hand as if swatting a fly.
“That’s early in this house.”
“Only for you.” He glanced at his watch. “How long before dinner is ready? Do I have time to grab a quick shower?”
“Yes. I even left you some hot water.”
As he headed toward his wing of the house, she called after him. “I can’t wait to tell you about this new doctor at the clinic. What a jerk.”