The Scent of Love - The Scent of Death
"He who is bent on doing evil can never want occasion"
(Pubilius Syrus - Maximum 459)
Christmas Break and school was out for two weeks; business was slow at the Resort, there was a fresh snowfall, and a full moon on a cloudless night.
"Perfect," thought Jesse, "for some cross country skiing."
Shortly after supper, while the evening was still young, Jesse told his folks he was going out skiing toward Lofty Pines Resort and back. There was a short cut trail leading from the Resort, through the woods, to the gravel road leading to Lofty Pines. The road was plowed, but still snow covered. With the fresh snowfall, the conditions would be just right for an easy ski. Deep snow made for hard skiing, even with his wide, off-trail skis. The trail, however was different since it was not and would not be groomed and tracked like other cross country ski trails and would be difficult going.
Jesse could have taken the snowmobile, but it was a clear night and he was in no hurry; besides, he enjoyed the quiet of the evening and night, the soft sounds of the skis "swishing" over the light, powdery snow, and the night sounds of critters in the forests. He had a small head lamp, in case he needed it, along with a thermos of hot chocolate, some energy bars, matches, knife, compass, and other essentials should he become stranded, in a small back pack, secured to his back and shoulders with straps. His I-phone®, fully charged, was zipped up tight in his jacket pocket where he could reach it should he need it. They were lucky, unlike some other parts of the north, to have cell reception, so he made full use of the technology.
An hour of leisurely skiing and the dark buildings of Lofty Pines loomed into view. As he neared the buildings, now shut up and secured for winter, he could see all was quiet. The resort was closed and now deserted since the end of the season when the elderly owners decided to put it up for sale. The buildings and grounds were in definite need of some work, showing signs of age and benign neglect. The older couple either were unable or unwilling to put money back into the facility and as a result, guest numbers fell off until this past year; there were no rentals.
His grandfather, "Poppa" as Jesse referred to him, before he died, took him there once because he wanted to speak to the owners concerning the condition of their facility. Not only was it bad for their business, but it could reflect on the other resorts and businesses as well. The couple was relatively noncommittal but did feel the "business would come back in time." It did little good for his grandfather to speak to them about it.
As Jesse remembered it, the Lodge building once had been a grand structure, with an open "great room" complete with fireplace, windows overlooking the lake, and a large deck out front where guests could enjoy the lake from both inside and outside the building. There were about a dozen rooms, Jesse thought, on the second floor off of a "U" shaped balcony with entrances overlooking the "great" room. Each room had double beds and separate bath. In addition to the office and reception area, there was a large dining room, large kitchen and storage area, as well as laundry facilities, and a small gift shop (every resort, it seems, has gift shop). Guests in the Lodge were provided with meals, "American Plan," with their rental fees.
There were also four three-bedroom cottages on the grounds for those guests who preferred that sort of accommodations. If they so desired, meals would also be provided by the Resort, again "American Plan." The cottages were ranch style, almost as large as a small home, and, according to his grandfather, just as nice. The owners lived in the only one winterized, but they usually left for Florida right after the resort closed the end of September. Lofty Pines was never open for the fall hunting season or the winter sports seasons, thus losing that revenue as well. However, the facility, other than the one cottage, was not winterized.
Jesse stopped near the resort's front deck, cleaned off a couple of steps, took off his skis, rested them against the deck, retrieved his thermos from his back pack, and poured himself a cup of hot chocolate. It was then, as he gazed out onto the frozen lake, as he enjoyed his hot drink, illuminated by the bright, white light of the full moon, he saw them! Coming across the ice covered lake from the direction of the distant Canadian side of the Border, loping, traveling at a steady pace, heading in his direction, were three wolves! Jesse lived his entire life, to this point, in the north woods and there was no doubt in his mind that's what they were heading toward him!
He looked them over carefully and even at a distance he could ascertain these were not ordinary grey or "timber" wolves; as they loped ever closer their larger size, much larger than average wolves normally seen around Kabetogama, was quite evident. These three appeared to be one and a half times heavier and taller at the shoulders. They almost looked like wolves on steroids!
These wolves were nothing like the ones he'd seen and heard near home or on the class trip he'd taken to the International Wolf Center in Ely. Although the trip was fun and full of information, it was sort of anti-climactic for him since the wolves there were in glass-fronted pens, while the ones he was used to seeing were truly free and wild. What the trip did do, however, was instill in him an appreciation for and a strong interest in what he thought was one of the most beautiful wild creatures on earth; running free, wild, fearing nothing, but man! Jesse left that day thinking there could be no reason why man could be so desirous in killing the creatures just to kill them!
He just didn't think wolves were dangerous to people; after all, how many people were attacked or killed by wolves in the United States every year? Jesse concluded very few people were really attacked or killed; in fact, he thought more were injured or killed by domestic dogs each year. Granted, wolves did kill some livestock and also dogs each year, but they were one of the top predators and would protect their territory from dogs and coyotes when they came into it. For some reason, Jesse thought the wolves crossing the ice and coming toward Lofty Pines, presented no more threat to him than a chipmunk. He did know, if wolves were provoked or threatened, they'd defend themselves or their young at a drop of a hat and he didn't think these three would be any difference!
The three very large wolves slowed their gait as they arrived at land's edge, settling to a cautious walk, noses snuffling the air, ears pointed forward seeking any sign of danger or threat. Evidently, sensing nothing immediate, the three began moving cautiously forward, not in a line, not in close formation, but spread apart, the one in the middle walking slightly forward of the others.
From what Jesse could remember from his visit to the Wolf Center and listening to Ted Symthe, his grandfather, dad, and others, he thought the lead wolf just might be the "alpha" or dominant male, the leader of the pack, so to speak. The creature carried itself almost in a regal manner, head high, moving in a very deliberate and authoritative manner, just exuding strength and dominance. It was a beautiful, large creature! The other two, not quite as handsome but still catching in appearance and just about as large, were alert to their surroundings and also seemed to be acutely aware of their leader's position at all times. Jesse thought, one was the "beta" and the other the "enforcer" and, if need be, those two could attack at any minute if their leader seemed to be in any danger!
The alpha wolf kept coming forward toward the deck where Jesse sat. It stopped suddenly about thirty yards away, focused his almost yellow eyes on the young boy sitting on the steps. He sniffed the air, seeking the boy's scent and, once found, seemed to conclude the young boy presented no threat. When one of the other two softly growled a warning, he was quickly silenced with an equally soft "woof" from the bigger leader.
The wolf looked at Jesse carefully, Jesse looked back, and saw, not danger as any other person might, but a beautiful wild creature who posed no threat to him.
"You and your companions are absolutely gorgeous creatures", Jesse said softly in awe of the wild ones before him. "I won't hurt you, although others might if they see you around here."
Indeed, there were many in the north and throughout the country, who thought the only good wolf was a dead one! There were those who believed the wolves were responsible when they were unsuccessful in their deer hunt, saying "the damned wolves ate our deer;" or "there ain't as many moose as there used to be because of the fucking wolves," or "the wolves attacked and killed my hound when we were chasing bears," or "did you hear the wolves killed and ate a kid in 'whatever place' last year?" Jesse heard the statements many times, but just couldn't understand why so much credence was placed in them.
The latter statement is always untrue, however, Jesse knew the statement concerning wolves killing bear dogs is generally true, especially if the dogs invaded the wolves' territory and or threatened their young. Wolves, like dogs, tend to be protective and will fight and kill any interlopers or other males threatening to breed the wolves' females. They just don't take kindly to another canine trying to fuck their bitches (so much like humans). Deer and moose just happen to be a natural prey for wolves and they do kill them and eat them, rather than hang the heads on walls. Jesse thought man had no more 'right' to a deer or a moose than a wolf, probably even less than a wolf!
The alpha cocked his head, as if hearing and understanding what was being said, his eyes boring deep into Jesse's eyes and very soul, so it seemed.
Jesse continued to speak softly, whether out of nervousness, fear, or just plain awe and excitement, reassuring, calming words to the wolves, encouraging them to do what they wished and be on their way since that was what he was going to do when they left, adding, "Don't worry; I won't say a word to anyone I saw you here!"
The leader of the three wolves moved, not toward Jesse, but off to the side, joined by the other two and the three of them began a careful, intense, and thorough inspection of the Lodge. They circled it, walked up on the deck behind Jesse, raised up on hind legs and looked in the windows; left it and did the same to the four cottages. They circled each one, giving it the same careful scrutiny as the Lodge. Heading for the small bait house and large storage building where equipment and boats were stored for the winter, the three wolves repeated their scrutiny. Finished, they returned to the Lodge and, to Jesse's amazement and delight, the alpha lifted his leg and pissed intermittently on the building as they walked around it. He stopped near the deck and steps where Jesse sat, lifted his leg again on a deck support, and squirted out a shot of hot piss!
Jesse looked at the big balls and large fully sheathed, canine penis the wolf carried between his legs, and whistled softly, "My, my, you are a big boy!"
Finished with marking his territory, the leader looked at Jesse, gave a slight "chuff" and the three of them melted away into the forest. After they left, Jesse looked at his watch and noticed he'd been sitting there for over an hour and a half.
"Strange," he thought as he latched on his skis, "I didn't feel there was any danger those three wolves were going to eat me!"
In fact, Jesse felt just the opposite, as if the pack leader, the Alpha male, would have leaped to his protection should anything endangered him.
Jesse arrived home later than he anticipated, but explained his tardiness to his parents by simply saying, "It was just such a nice evening and the moon made everything just great," and indicated to them he might go out there again the next evening.
His parents accepted his explanation quite readily since Jesse had always been pretty much a loner, shy, timid around other boys his own age, but really quite gregarious with his older brothers and with the guests at the Lodge and in the Pelican Café and the Birchwood dining room. They could easily explain his behavior around his brothers, but couldn't quite put their fingers on his behavior with the guests. They'd asked their oldest son, James Jr. who worked hand in hand with his dad, and he laughed,
"I asked him the same thing one day and he said, 'they go home and you stay. Besides, you don't tease me and neither do they since they're not here long enough,'" James said. "I think he just feels comfortable around us and the guests, rather than with other boys and girls his own age. He sort of puts on a strong front when the guests are here."
Not only when guests were there, but he put on a good front on other occasions as well, such as in school. Jesse had no real friends, other than his older brothers, in school or out. He was, as James and his parents knew, a shy, almost bashful boy embarrassed easily, quite humble preferring to let someone else take credit or be the leader, but a young man who was extremely bright and studious, always at the top of his class. As a result, he was often the brunt of teasing and harassment by those who were jealous of his giftedness and came home more than once with a cut lip or bruised face; hopefully giving as well as he was getting! Unfortunately, this was not the case! Jesse was not a very big lad, developing smaller than his brothers, slight of build, dark hair, blue eyes that could almost look through you, extremely good looking, and as some would think, delicate, although with a December birthday, he was older than many boys in his class, just smaller! He was a complete "nerd" according to older brother Michael, "but he's our nerd and we love him to death."
The one quality his brothers knew he possessed, deeply hidden and rarely exposed, was a steely resolve, of loyalty and fearlessly quick to defend those he loves with his life, if need be, with a strength of character each of them wished they possessed! Jesse was not one to start a fight, rather avoiding one was more his style, but Charlie often commented, "When the shit hits the fan, I want Jesse watching my back!" although he had to admit, in a fight, Jesse was a scrapper, but not a very big one and could usually distract rather than beat the pee-waden out of someone!
The sight of the three wolves the night before and his close encounter with them, occupied Jesse's thoughts most of the day. He was very much looking forward to another encounter in the evening, should they reappear and he hoped they would!
After supper, Jesse again prepared a thermos of hot chocolate, but also included a sandwich and some cookies, just in case he had a long wait. He told his parents where he was going and not to worry if he was late. Jesse really wanted to see the wolves again; they were like a magnet drawing him to them; "a siren's song to seafarers," he thought, "hopefully not onto some rocks somewhere and sink my sorry ass."
With a "I'll call if I'm going to be real late," shout to his parents, he was out the door, locked on his skis, and with a "swoosh, swoosh," was down the trail, heading toward Lofty Pines. In less time than the night before, he arrived at Lofty Pines, took his place on the steps of the deck and waited for the return of the three wolves. After an hour, he was beginning to think they might not reappear.
Jesse shifted a bit, his butt was getting tired and somewhat sore and, in doing so, he noticed a slight movement off to his right, just at the edge of the clearing before where the forest began, and there they stood, in their magnificent glory; heads high, noses forward, ears pricked up seeking any sign of interlopers into their territory! They'd arrived as silently as ghosts or a fog moving in from the lake; suddenly appearing and commanding all present, from their silence and stance, to take notice they were there. Jesse thought how fantastic it was they could move with such stealth and ease and how utterly beautiful they were.
The three wolves padded slowly toward him, eyes focused on him, but alert to their surroundings, cautious, wary, unafraid. Stopping in front of him, perhaps twenty to thirty feet away, the leader, the Alpha, stopped, sat on his haunches, and looked at Jesse while the other two wolves stood either side of him.
"Oh, goody!" Jesse giggled effusively, "You're back! I was hoping to see you again! You really surprised me; I didn't hear you!"
The big wolf cocked his head to the side, perked up his ears, and appeared to listening to every word Jesse spoke, at least that's what Jesse preferred to think.
"My Poppa, that's Grandpa George Sutton, always said nature was always a delicate balance between trying to conserve and trying to use wisely and between predators and prey. Man could screw things up, but wolves helped keep the balance among the animals in the north woods. I think he was right, don't you?"
Jesse began to tear up as he continued, "He always said not to believe the stories like Little Red Riding Hood and the others. Wolves won't hurt you unless you try to hurt them, but he's dead now, and I miss him so much!" Jesse sobbed.
The tears flowed freely as Jesse chattered on how his "Poppa" used to take him fishing, to International Falls, canoeing and boat riding in Lake Kabetogama, and let him sit on his lap while he told him how much he loved him! When Jesse would get upset or when times were tough for him, his "Poppa" would hug him and tell him everything would work out and be just fine someday.
"You see," Jesse said through his tears, speaking to the big wolf, "Poppa knew even before Momma and Daddy and my brothers I like boys better than girls and didn't care! Someday, he'd say, my sweet boy, someone will come along to love you the way you deserve."
Jesse had no idea why he was talking to the wolves; it wasn't as if they could understand him or even care. The big wolf just sat, never veering in his almost penetrating stare at Jesse, as if waiting for him to say more. Jesse just knew, for some reason, it felt good to talk about his feelings, even if it was to a wolf, now his grandfather was gone. There was never a topic he couldn't talk to "Poppa" concerning, not a question he could ask, or ever suffer a rebuke for what he said or thought or read.
"Look at me," he said standing up, "I'm not very big and strong and am one of the smallest in my class, well, not all of me is small, if you know what I mean and I don't think you do since you're a wolf and I'm a human, but anyway it is, so there! Momma says I'm cute and some of the girls in my class say I'm pretty, but there's some mean boys who just enjoy pounding the shit out of me because I am and I'm smarter than they are."
Jesse was no different than many other middle school boys, standing in front of the mirror, comparing his "package" to the ones he'd seen in the locker room or, by taking a furtive peek at the boy next to him standing at the urinals, and wondering if his was bigger, smaller, or just right. On Jesse's thin frame, narrow hips, and small waist, his uncircumcised penis looked rather large, or so he thought, but probably when measured up against someone else, probably wasn't much bigger than average for his age. He hoped, once he was Charlie's age, his dick would be as big because he thought Charlie's was ginormous! Of course, when a person looked at another person's dick, it always looked bigger than what it was because of the visual perspective.
"One of the boys in my class said the other day I was so puny with such spindly arms I didn't have enough strength to whip my wiener. I do so!" he cried in anguish.
"Do you think I'm pretty?" he hiccoughed, "Are boys supposed to be pretty? I don't think so! But I'm not tough either. Poppa said I'm "so fucking smart" I'll figure out a way to take care of the bullies in the world someday and someday it won't make any difference since I really won't care what they say or do. I sure hope so!"
Jesse stopped a minute, rolling over in his head what he'd just said; although he knew it couldn't be, he thought he heard the wolf answer him, giving him some guidance.
"Yeah," he responded aloud, "you're right; I think you guys are pretty and you're goddamned big and tough, so I guess boys can be pretty too, even if they are aren't big and tough like everyone thinks we're supposed to be."
Jesse went on to explain next year he'd be in high school and there'd be a whole bunch of new guys and how everyone would sort themselves out again. He just knew he'd be at the bottom of the pecking order and he wouldn't have Charlie to protect him since Charlie would be off to college!
"So," he said dissolutely, "who is going to jump in and help me battle those other big thugs? What's going to happen in the shower room after physical education, if I see some guy with big cock or a cute set of buns and I throw a bone? Man won't that just be fun; they'll call me 'queer,' fag, 'cocksucker,' and all sorts of shit! Knowing some of these red-neck bastards, they'll stick my head in the toilet and give me a 'swirly' or toss me into the hall bare-assed naked and everyone will laugh. If they paint my locker or push me down stairs and other crap, I just don't know what I will do. Do you?"
His brothers, especially Charlie, were always quick to come to his aid; not necessarily fight his battles for him, but to make certain the fights were as fair as they could be, considering Jesse's small size. More importantly, his older brothers were there to clean up the cuts, ease the bruises, and sooth the sadness with hugs and reassuring words whenever Jesse took a shellacking, which was more often than not. Elementary school was a piece of cake, as far as Jesse was concerned; middle school was more of a challenge since it was there the hormones began to kick in, clichés formed, and bullies oft time strutted! Jesse really just wanted people to leave him alone, but more so, he really wanted a friend or two, since he had none now, who would accept him for what he was, no more, no less, a gay boy in the north woods who was tired of hiding in the closet from the public, but knew he had to in order to survive.
The three wolves came close together and slowly approached Jesse. Jesse just sat and when they were within five or six feet of him, he said softly, "If I was a big as you guys, no one would bother me," and suddenly saying aloud, "and I wouldn't bother anyone else! It just wouldn't be right would it? I saw a movie once about a kid learning karate so he wouldn't have to fight and the more I think about it, the more sense it makes."
It suddenly did make sense to Jesse; a person didn't need to fight all the time, sometimes, most times, it was just as victorious to walk away, but there were still those times a person just had to stand up and confront the bullies and nasty people in the world, even if it meant getting your ass kicked in the process. If someone didn't stand up to them, who would?
The Alpha wolf moved ever so slowly toward Jesse, stepped up to him, rested his huge head in the small lap for a moment, causing Jesse to ask apprehensively, "You're not going to bite my dick off are you?"
The wolf lifted his head and lapped his tongue across Jesse's face, bringing a happy laugh from him and stepped back.
"Thanks for listening," Jesse said, "I feel a lot better. I hope we see each other again."
With a "woof" the three wolves turned and darted toward the lake, heading in the direction from where they came the night before. Jesse took that as his clue, locked on his skis, and headed for home.
Jesse slept well that night, comfortable in his bed, relaxed and secure in his mind after his one-sided conversation with the three over-sized wolves who came to Lofty Pines. Three large predators, bigger than those average timber wolves he'd seen around, surely were at the top of the chain, but held no fear for him. Cautious at first, still wary of other wolves or animals he might encounter, but not of those three he met the past two nights. Somehow he knew no harm would come to him from them and realized the Alpha wolf taught him a valuable lesson this evening, just by his very presence and contact with him.
Jesse probably wouldn't have slept so sound, so secure in his bed had he known of the other predator lurking and living in the Kabetogama area. This predator was one of the oldest known to man, more numerous than all of the wolves in Northern Minnesota, only scattered throughout the world, definitely more secretive, and less likely to be seen as dangerous- at first glance! It sought out and stalked out its prey with more cunning, stealth, and infinitely more care than wolves; preferring not to kill its prey immediately, but to spend time playing with it, satisfying a need, a desire so strong and so deep, only the prey selected could satisfy!
While Jesse was readying himself for school, the predator, a summer resident of the area, was leaving his car in a Miami parking lot, heading into a supermarket, the slightly salty, mildly nutty flavor of the creamy elixir he'd ingested before leaving his winter home still lingering in the back of his throat. The thought of what awaited him when he returned, brought a slight tingle to his loins, a rush of blood to his flaccid organ, threatening to engorge it again as it had been during the night and again this morning, as he sought the pleasure and release his current captive provided. He smiled to himself, looking forward to the delectable delight awaiting him; he only hoped this one would last longer than the last before he had to go hunting again!
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