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Coming Home...


Here’s a "coming home from the Tracker School" story that was posted to the Tracker listserv on the Internet by a Tracker student who wishes to be known as "Jim in the wolf shirt".

Out of the Boy Scout Camp parking lot and heading south. After two weeks at the Advanced Back-to-Back I'm finally on my way home. It's a three-hour drive, and all the way I have visions of my family in my head. The emptiness of leaving the Pine Barrens gradually fills with thoughts of family. Holding my wife close to me and nibbling at that spot below and behind her left ear while I breath in the wonderful smell of her long hair. Both boys tackling me and wrestling around in the yard until they scream "uncle" to get me to stop tickling their ribs -- then jumping on me again when they think I'm not looking. I roll to a stop in front of my house on fumes. The truck ran great, they way it always does going to and from Tracker school. I think I'll call it the "Good Medicine Truck."

Her car is there, and the grass in the front yard is filled with tracks -- the rabbit has moved around front. I'll show the boys later. Visions of sweeping my wife off her feet are shattered as she holds me at arms length and says "No hugging until I check you for bugs". The kids received a computer game from my brother while I was gone, and are so mesmerized by it they barely react to my return. Their bland "Hi Dad" responses bring me a mental image of a check mark in a box.

All of my gear goes out of the truck and into the back yard for inspection. As I go through this new decontamination procedure the details of my homecoming are spelled out as my wife chants a litany of problems for me to take care of. I am reminded why I decided not to become a plumber as I go through all the traps in the house. How could so many drains back up in less than a month? The goop I clear out has the look of the mud in the Scout quick cammo hole, but has an evil smell and leaves stains that won't rinse off. The stains come off as I tear apart the lawnmower carburetor. I get it running, and then start hacking the grass down even with the lawns on both sides. Something dies as the rabbit tracks disappear forever under the blade of my lawnmower and fly out the side.

I lay in my bed and can't sleep. It seems so soft that I keep dreaming it will stick to me like a melted marshmallow. But how could a marshmallow squeak so much? Feeling claustrophobic, I give up on sleep and head outside. I cannot locate the rabbit tracks, even through spirit tracking. They are gone forever. They taught a lesson though.

It's Monday, with a vengeance. Heading into Washington, D.C. – I pull on to Interstate 295 South and come to a complete stop. Eventually I creep up to 20 MPH - only 45 miles to go. My truck is surrounded by cars, pressing in on all sides. A Saturn with two Jimmy Buffet stickers tries to force my 6000-pound truck off the road. I want to ask him why he is doing such an absurd thing in such slow traffic, but I let him in. He flips me off, then cuts on to the right shoulder to pass another car. I wonder if he sees the irony in his "Changes in Latitudes Changes in Attitudes" sticker. To get closer to the trees I move into an empty spot in the left lane. As I enter I hear an engine roar into full acceleration behind me and a fat lady passes to my left screaming "Fuck you bitch!" at the top of her lungs. Maybe I should have kept my two-week beard. Her baby stares up at me from the front passenger seat with blank eyes as she nearly puts her Toyota into the drainage ditch. I look at the deep scars in the earth and wonder if the car has a passenger side airbag.

Late to work, no one notices when I come in. I get into uniform and stare at the wolf photos I have lining my office. An hour and a half later someone notices I'm here. Someone yells, asking where I am and I walk up and say I don't know. Without missing a beat my editor tells me to send myself to see her as soon as I see myself, never looking my way.

I work in the heart of the land of the living dead. There are no windows where I work, no way for me to focus my eyes at infinity. I wander into the rest room so I can stare out the window a while at the lucky mosquitoes. I see I have a two tone tan on my face from where I shaved this morning. A faint attempt at humor -- now that I've seen myself I guess I'm off to see the editor.

…..235 days until the Scout class.

Copyright "Jim in the Wolf Shirt"


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