Heres 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"