Wolf had his notebook out on the table, and he was looking over his lists and notes and scribbles. “So,” he said, writing Emile Ramirez’ name at the top of a list. “I need to call Ramirez and tell him I’m not going to be at the jobsite for a few days. Hate to do it though. ”
Rose nodded. “I feel the same way about calling Mister Morey. That job is a lifeline for me.”
Wolf grinned. “In a used bookstore. Hell, that’s pretty damned obvious, when you think about it. It’s all about being around things that people have poured a lot of attention into, isn’t it?”
Rose nodded again, sipping coffee. “There aren’t a whole lot of jobs somebody like me can live with,” she said.
“Wait….” said Wolf, flipping pages in his notebook. On the second page, right after the list of people who Maria had owed money to…. There. Lawyer, Stockbroker, Agent, Producer, Pitch Man, Car dealer, Real Estate, … His eyes narrowed, and the pen in his hand slowly underlined the words ‘Art Dealer.’ “Rose, let me run something past you. Suppose there was somebody – one of your kind of people – who was an art dealer. He’d have the best stuff, ’cause he could tell which pieces were the most real. Am I right?”
Rose nodded. “I’ve been doing that at Morey’s Bookstore,” she said. “I pick out books that people have put a lot of themselves into, and all the sensitives buy them at double prices. I don’t think more than one in a hundred knows why those are the ones they have to have, but those are the ones they have to have.”
“So, check me if I’m wrong,” Wolf said, “But our art dealer works near stuff that protects him, like you in the bookstore. He has a killer profit margin on high-ticket items, and he has a steady stream of sensitive people coming in to look for art. ”
Rose smiled at him. “Yeah, that could happen,” she said. “It would be nice, too; I mean, sure, you’d pay a premium, but just not having to hunt for it would be…” she trailed off, finally seeing the shape of his thoughts. “Oh,” she said in a very small voice.
“I think maybe we just got one step closer to nailing this bastard,” he said, with a feral smile. “We’ll see what Mitch thinks when he gets back.”
Rose got up to get some more coffee. Sonia had the hideous silver lion from the set she and Sonia and Mike had split up. She poured hot coffee from its raised right paw into Santa’s head and put it back on the stove, then sat down. “Can I ask you something?” Rose said.
Wolf shrugged and nodded. “If you want.”
“Why did your folks name you Wolf?” she said.
Wolf shrugged. “It’s my name,” he replied. “What else were they going to call me?”
“But, it’s only your name because they picked it. They could have named you anything,” she said. “Why Wolf?”
Wolf leaned back in his chair. “Actually,” he said, “My dad tells me it was Uncle August who figured it out.”
“Figured it out?” she asked.
“Figured out what my name was,” he said. “I was too young then to remember.”
“Okay,” she said, “but tell me how it happened.”
Wolf took a long look at her, then shrugged. “Well, it ain’t the way most folks do it,” he said, “But it’s the way my folks do it. A new baby comes home from the hospital, and the whole family gathers around trying to figure out what his name is. It’s when they all meet the kid, and when the kid meets all of them for the first time. So parents, and grandparents, and aunts and uncles and even some older cousins, are all visiting and wondering and trying different names out. But for me, every name they tried wasn’t right, for the longest time. It took nearly three weeks, and the hospital and government guys who wanted the birth certificate filled out were having a conniption fit to hear my dad tell it. Finally my Uncle August called me Wolf, and that was right.”
“So, after trying out all these names, your folks settled on Wolf? It sounds … well, I don’t know. Like they were naming something besides a child, I guess. I mean, most folks pick out names way before the kid’s born.”
Wolf shrugged. “Can’t hardly guess a kid’s name before you even meet him, can you? They could have called me something else, or even put something else on the birth certificate. But that wouldn’t have made it my name.”
“So what makes Wolf your name?”
“It’s just who I am,” he shrugged. “Names are funny. When you call someone by their right name, that’s a powerful thing. These poor kids whose parents make up some name that has nothing to do with the kid, that’s just sad. They go through life not really knowing who they are. They piss their lives away on crap that doesn’t really make ’em happy.”
“You think that’s because of what they’re named?” Rose said.
“Well, having the wrong name, I guess, sort of reflects the problem they’ve got more than it causes it,” Wolf said. “A name is sort of like a mirror. If you keep seeing somebody else when you look in a mirror, you get confused. You wear the wrong clothes and walk in the wrong shoes and try to live somebody else’s life and it just doesn’t work real well.”
“So what kind of a life does a name like Wolf reflect?” Rose pressed.
Wolf shrugged. “Mine, I guess,” he said. “It means I cover a huge range of territory, and I guess I do. I go back and forth from the boonies to the city in a way a lot of people can’t. It means there’s some kind of family that’s important to me, and there was. Still is, if you count my dad. It means that there are times when folks don’t understand me and think I’m bad, and I’ve seen those times. And it means I’m a hunter, and resilient, and that I usually know what I want.”
Rose looked up, searching his face. “What about me?” she asked. She was wondering whether she was what Wolf wanted, but instead she continued by saying, “Do you think I got the wrong name?”
Wolf smiled and shook his head. “Nope, I’d say your mama got it exactly right. Lots of people think roses are all fragile and delicate, and they sure look like they might be – but they’re not. They got wicked thorns if you try to hurt ’em, and they’re tough enough to survive all kinds of neglect and weather. They can put down roots into the worst kind of ground and grow up healthy and hardy and strong, and,” he said with a smile, “there ain’t nothing prettier.”
She looked into his face, wondering what he was thinking. It seemed so strange, to just wonder. The morning light shining through Sonia’s hand-beaded kitchen curtains played on the lean planes of his face as he sipped his cup of coffee. His hands were rough-skinned and sinewy, but also long and in a way graceful. He was wearing a khaki shirt that seemed to blend into the color of the chair behind him, blue jeans, and square-toed engineer’s boots. And in one way, she felt that he was exactly what she saw; there was not an ounce of pretense in his entire body. In another way, though, he was very much more.
She didn’t look into his head; she didn’t want to spoil the moment.
A silence between them grew and stretched longer, but finally, it was a comfortable silence.
This is one chapter of The Hook, a novel which is being published serially on this site. This page links to all chapters so far serialized.
The complete novel is available from Amazon.