The Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing

Dec 06

The wolf was a predator, a creature meant to kill and eat others. It was the natural order of things: it had sharp teeth, a stout form built for long distance running-the better to harry down a meal and ultimately devour it. Life, for the wolves, invariably meant death. As yet, the wolf was still young as such things went. His father and older brothers were the ones who went out on the hunt and brought back meals for the pack. When he was coming of age, the father of the pack invited the wolf to come along and participate in the killing. The wolf was reluctant to do so and despite his best attempts to keep his recalcitrance discreet, it some became rather obvious.

The pack started talking. He doesn’t want to go out and hunt. He’s nothing like the rest of us. It was true, the wolf knew it, and inded, had always known it. But in spite of his differences, the wolf decided to explore his identity as a predator, although he resolved to do so on his own terms. This precluded hunting in a pack. How could he hunt alone? The problem seemed insurmountable, until one day, while searching for something (he forgot what it was later) in a closet, the wolf happened upon a perfectly preserved sheep-skin. It was a trophy from some hunt or other-such things weren’t unusual; however its state of preservation was. The wolf knew Providence when he saw it. Wearing the sheep-skin, he would be a predator and walk anonymously among the prey. The sheep would never know-and he could hunt solitarily.

Knowing the pack wouldn’t undestand, the wolf clad himself in the sheep-skin and swiftly departed for a nearby pasture where a herd of sheep were grazing. The disguise worked better than the wolf could have hoped-concealed, he walked incognito among the sheep. The first day, he did nothing. He could kill a sheep whenever he wanted-but resolved to wait until the right time presented itself. The wolf surreptitiously returned to the den and disrobed.

The wolf returned the next day. But still, he took no action against the sheep, and merely walked among them, occasionally taking up sheep-like behavior to avoid detection. He ate grass and bleated. This went on for a few weeks. On at least two separate occasions, he encountered other wolves who-it seemed-had the same dilemma about hunting and the same solution. He said nothing to these others, and they said nothing in return. Their gaze merely met for a few moments, and then they turned away.

The donning of the sheep-skin became so routine that the wolf became careless. No one in the pack seemed wise to what he was doing-they thought he was an odd one and generally avoided him. The wolf began to simply store the skin under his bed instead of returning it to the closet.

One day, his father found the skin, and pulled it out when all members of the pack were present. “What the hell is this?” his father demanded, holding up the skin to exemplify his point. “Have you been wearing this?”

“I have, but let me explain…” the wolf began. He had rehearsed many well thought out explanations-reasons that were not, in fact, too removed from the rationalizations that he told himself when he first put on the sheep skin.

“Oh my god, it all makes sense now,” his mother said, her voice already cracking with hysterics. His sisters went to comfort her. But his father glared with paternal wrath, and his brothers took his side, mirroring the apparent disapproval.

“I’m-I’m a wolf in sheep’s clothing!’ the wolf blurted. It seemed best to toss caution aside.

“Not in this den you’re not.” the father said grimly. He held the skin out, away from him. “Take it-it’s soiled now. Take it and go.”

The wolf took the skin and departed back to the herd he had come to know. He was sad initially, but the sense of relief that he was who he was outweighed the sorrow.

The father wolf did his best to put the wayward son out of his mind. He hunted more and more frequently, often journeying out when the others were too tired to join or had other things to do. On one such day, he came along another wolf whose coat seemed to hang loosely on him.

“So, um,” the other wolf began, its voice strangely high-pitched, “hunt often?”

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