A Tale of Two Wolves

Read on, if you dare...
These are two of what I call 'strong' stories...darker or more serious stories.

These are, like all of my stories, true. (exception: Whitsuntide)
I relate them in an unembellished way-true to life-as they happened.

I see these stories as informative in their own right.
And so, for that reason, I refrain from explaining or defining the events.
If I did, I would likely fall short of their full meaning...

Read them for instruction as well as entertainment...

Cape Breton Island, Cheticamp Youth Hostel 1970s
The old blue house on the hill opened its doors for the evening.
There was the usual collection of backpackers, hippies and hikers
arrayed around the entrance. Hot, tired and dusty from their travels.
Eager to find a bunk for the night, a shower and a hot supper.
They were lined up signing in, exchanging travel stories,
making new friends from places as far-flung as Australia, Jamaica,
Switzerland and the like. There were 30 or so hostellers that night-
almost a full house.
As the last of them gathered up their backpacks and sleeping bags,
I thought I saw a shadowy movement in the marsh below the house.
Was it a man? In the gathering night it was hard to tell.
I left the light on, just in case...
Over the next few days, I started getting reports about a wild-looking vagrant skulking around the area. A shirt disappeared from a clothesline.
Then some vegetables went missing from the garden. Nothing serious...
But it persisted.
Then one day, some hikers discovered a squalid makeshift encampment
amid the cattails. They found a collection of trash with a foul odor to match.
As they approached to take a closer look, an angry roar erupted and a strange thing emerged from the swamp screaming like a dangerous animal.
It rushed them, threatening with teeth and claw.
They turned and ran, but not before catching a glimpse of steely blue eyes.
With a shock they wondered, 'Was that a human?!'
A hunched-over, disheveled, wild-eyed form with clumps of matted hair
to its waist and a face covered with filthy fur growled at them.
The sounds that emanated from his throat were anything but human.
A wolf man?
They were still shaken and unnerved by their encounter.
"Calm down...give me the details again. Everything..."
He was half-covered in rags, foaming at the mouth, unintelligible, fearsome.
I thought of the shadowy figure from a few nights before.
The figure had moved furtively, but with the intelligence of a human.
I had felt it watching me.
Dangerous...but only a little, I thought.
I have had some malevolent encounters in that place, but this was not
the same.
We decided to keep a night watch. Every few nights we found things missing from the garden, but no matter how well we surveyed the area,
we were outwitted each time.
Then the encampment was abandoned, but I felt he was still in the vicinity.
The weather turned nasty-not a time to be sleeping rough.
I draped an old sleeping bag on the clothesline one night.
It was gone by morning.
I began leaving food at the edge of the clearing.
Taken in the night.
There was another sighting. Similar to the first.
A man's shape, but the face of an animal.
Ready to defend itself and keep intruders at bay.
Violent and disturbing. Animal-like.
A howling lunatic.

Something very terrible must have happened to make someone
this deranged, to sink to a level that was sub-human.
I had worked with feral cats before-but a feral human?
I overcame my fears and determined to bring him to safety.
He was as wily as any feral animal.
He rejected clothes, hot food, anything that could lure him into a trap.
Week by week, I left food, moving the food just a bit closer to the main house. But if it got too close, I lost him for days at a time.
Whatever I put out for him, a flashlight, matches, firewood or clean water
had to be arranged so he could steal it.
I could not know he was there...

There came a small break after 2 months of this cat and mouse game.
As the sun was setting one night, I actually saw him furtively make off
with some bread that had been left. He glanced back over his shoulder
as he disappeared into the low scrub.
Our eyes met.
Then he vanished. He had let me see him.
His face was covered in hair. No wonder he was mistaken for an animal!
His cowering movements were like that of a wounded animal.
Perhaps the wild gesturing and guttural cries were for protection.

I left a tent. It was rejected at first, but he snatched it finally.
There was hope.
He pitched it at the edge of the swamp. He began to live in it.
He was visible to the other hostellers now. Everyone had to pass by his spot. He was a frightening sight to behold, snarling and raging at any perceived threat. More than a few people stayed away. I lobbied for him against all reason. What a nuisance he was that summer, but a few hostellers acted compassionately toward him.
A supper plate was left on the picnic table. It was a few nights before he used
the knife and fork. Cleaner clothes were being exchanged for the rags.
The tent crept up the hill toward the house.
We got a better look at him. Pitiable, disgusting, terribly strange.
He looked like he'd lived in the wild for a long time. He had forgotten speech.
His fingernails were so long, they curled under like claws.
He seemed intent only on survival, lost to the human race.
I wondered what his story was...
One day, after everyone else left, he made his way toward the house.
I pretended not to see, but I was breathless with excitement.
I had left a washtub with warm soapy water at the back of the house.
We were making slow and uneven progress...
A few more weeks passed with small gestures of welcome and safety...
and then the impossible happened.
I had been leaving the front door open during the quiet part of the day
when the hostel was closed. A kind of sanctuary invitation.
He needed to be under a roof.
I didn't expect him any time soon, but on this day, he crept across
the threshold.
He looked up at me awkwardly. Mutely. Blue eyes that I could not read.

Then, in a sudden move, he flashed a huge pair of scissors!
He stabbed them in my direction. Oh God! He was going to kill me!
But then he was grunting at me as he waved them around.
I stood frozen...uncomprehending.
He repeated the motion. I didn't relish the idea of what was to come.
Then he grabbed a chair, set it in the center of the living room and sat in it.
He started waving the scissors wildly and then he thrust them towards me.
I jumped back, but suddenly I realized he was trying to give them to me.
I took them! I could breathe again!
He looked intently at me and then he pointed to his long, matted hair.
He lifted his beard meekly. I finally understood!
He wanted me to cut them!
Holding back tears, I cut and I cut. He sat stiffly, almost formally.
I could not imagine what an extraordinary step it was for him to do that.
After I cut his hair and beard, he held up his grimy fingernails.
I brought water and a mirror along with a razor. I handed the razor to him
as I held the mirror. I couldn't believe what was taking place...

Under the wild unkempt hair was a delicate-featured young man.
So sad and broken. Still without speech...
I began to keep quiet time for him to come inside every day.
The others who had kept a wide berth began to relax and regard him
as a fellow human. His transformation was amazing to see.
Then one day he looked at me with eyes half-wild...pleading.
We sat on a couch and I held him. He broke into huge shuddering sobs.
It was terrible to see.
I could feel the shadows leaving him...and some nameless terror, as well.
When he looked up at me afterward, his eyes were clear and human.
He had returned from a hellish journey.

Progress came quickly now.
He began to speak...with a little difficulty at first.
People did not frighten him as before.
The other residents forged ties with him in sensitive ways.
He was rejoining the human race.

His healing went faster now.
He was becoming part of the family, helping out, learning his way.
Then one day, I heard him laugh...

Over time, he got his sense of self intact.
He was from Texas...26 years old...raised by a single mom...
who sexually abused him.
That was the break...

It happens a lot.
It is often devastating, but somehow, in my experience anyway,
it seems to come closer to destroying the psyche when it happens
to a young boy.
Girls are often more resilient.
It was incredibly destructive in this young man's life.

Gary had been on the road for more than 2 years, bouncing
from place to place in a long downhill spiral.
No drugs, no alcohol. Just mind-rending sexual abuse.

How had he managed to get all the way to Cape Breton?
And how did he land near us?

Finally, he was himself.
He was a delightful, sensitive, bright young man.
We were glad for him to stay on through the fall.
No one would have guessed what he had been through.

It happened so subtly that we did not perceive the early signs,
but Gary began to slip away from us.
By the time we registered it fully, it was too late.
He was spiraling downward and we could not bring him back,
no matter what we tried.
It was frightening.
He was becoming less coherent, his eyes distant at times,
shifty and almost mocking in an unguarded moment.
There was a sense of danger now, as well.
He began to let himself go, as if he had lost touch with himself.
He stopped washing, his movements were jerky and furtive
and he was becoming uncommunicative once more.
There was an aura around him now that I couldn't penetrate.
We were being repulsed.
He started sleeping rough again.
I redoubled my efforts, racked my brain, but was losing ground steadily.
Winter was coming on, the hostel was about to close for the season.
Something had to be done. He would not survive otherwise.

Privately, I was grappling with an internal sense to put him out...
back on the road.
I resisted.
It intensified.
I was horrified at the thought. I needed confirmation.
I shared that with the others, but that only added to the confusion.
Then we set an evening apart to fast and pray for clarity and confirmation.
Painfully, it came.
It was the hardest thing I had ever done...an agony.
It made no sense!
It was nightfall. I was urged to act quickly.
So we gathered a backpack full of food and some money and sent the poor man away.
I hated God and this wretched life in that moment.
I understood nothing.

All winter, I agonized over what we'd done and over Gary,
feeling that I'd done more harm than good in the end.
How would he survive? But I knew he couldn't survive here.
What would become of him...?

I left Cape Breton for the winter still troubled by that dark chapter.
On my return in the spring, I passed through the beautiful Margaree valley
on my way home. There were some friends that I wanted to see,
a brother and sister, bachelor farmers in the Scottish tradition.
Oftentimes, the eldest child would remain unmarried and would stay on
to care for the parents until their passing, maintaining the homestead.
By that time, the now-adult child would be too old to marry or have children. It was an unspoken, humbly performed sacrifice.
In this family both the oldest brother and sister had stayed on.
They were the most genial and kind people and I treasured their friendship.
I hopped out of the car, excited to see them. Their sheep dogs joined the fray and they appeared on the porch, all smiles and welcome.
"So good to see you again! Won't you stay for tea? Of course you will!
And there's molasses cookies right out of the oven.
Oh! And by the way, come meet our new boarder..."

"We've already met," I stammered, tears streaming down my face.
I looked at each of them in turn..."How?! What?!"
"Yes, yes...he come to us last fall and we took him in for the winter.
He's going to be staying on with us now...a right good fellow, he is!"
heaping praise on him.
Gary was all smiles, sane and in his right mind.
He'd put on some weight. The farm work had done him good,
as had the gentle ministrations of that kindly brother and sister.
He and they had a family now.
They filled in the rest of the story...
The night he left us, he was picked up by a neighbor farmer and dropped off
10 miles down the road. The next person to pick him up was the batchelor brother.
"Well, you know, he needed a place to stay for the night and we had an extra bed. He looked like he needed to rest awhile and so we just kept him...
and here we are!" he said with a grin that hinted at the rest.
He had been 25 miles down the road all winter!
And he couldn't have landed in any better place.
They did what we could not do. They had what it took.
He had made it...
Gary Phelan...

Years later, it occurred to me to look for the meaning of his name.
Phelan: Wolf
'tis a strange world...


Turkey, Cappadocia, 2001

Ali had been watching me quietly for some time, out of sight.
I was sharing a cushion with a Turkish woman who was patiently
teaching me the ancient carpet weaving of Cappadocia.
It felt good to have the wool in my hands again.
My lesson had begun.
There was going to be more to this lesson than I imagined.
When the wool was placed in my hands, time was suspended.
I was tethered in eternity.

I had arrived on the night bus from Istanbul around three in the morning.
It had been a harrowing ride through hairpin turns with rapid descents
and laboring climbs into the foothills of the hauntingly strange moonscape
that is Cappadocia in central Turkey.
I woke to the ancient call of the minaret.
Another world.

I was completely immersed in the weaving when a man’s voice,
elegant and polite, broke my reverie.
“We are the people of the wool.” he announced.
“The wool is our teacher.
We are Suf.…wool...the Sufi people.”
His words wove their way into my soul.
"Wool is timeless..."
I was in the cradle of ancient mysticism.
I looked up to see a wolfish figure standing atop a rocky outcropping.
He had a wild shock of ink black unruly hair, unshaven beard
and penetrating dark eyes.
His face was angular, sharp, raw.
His dusty dark wool clothes too heavy for the hot climate.
There was something about his voice...European, Middle Eastern. Cultured...hypnotic. Something indefinable in that voice drew me.
He spoke with a refined elegance that was wildly at odds
with his rakish appearance.
He introduced himself simply, as he extended his hand. "I am Ali."
He was the owner of the kilim shop.
"Everything you see here is natural. The dyes are made from the local plants. Everything by hand, as you can see. It sometimes takes 4 months to weave a carpet. Would you like to see where the wool is dyed?
It is only a short distance. But first, let us have tea together."
That was the beginning of our discourse...

Ali was an apt teacher and guide. My sojourn in Turkey began and ended
in that shop. For much of the next three weeks, I was weaving with the women or spending time with Ali.
Ali was a complex man, serious, a philosopher, a keen observer of life.
Turkey sits at the crossroads of many cultures. One cannot help but learn.
He endeavored to teach me the culture, educating me in the local customs, Sufism, holding my own as a woman in Turkey...and much more.

Fate had brought me to this place.
That much was certain long before I arrived.
Something about this place had called to me for a very long time...
since I was a child, actually.
I wasn’t sure why I was there, but I aware of a sense of destiny.

One makes assumptions about destiny...

I felt a deep connection with the land, the lifestyle, the rhythm of the place.
I was eager and open to experience this place and its people.
That was not lost on Ali. We felt a deep connection, as well.
I was hungry for the teachings, the cultural experience and whatever
was calling me to the place.
Ali's intelligence appealed to me, he appealed to my spiritual sensibilities,
but his rough exterior left much to be desired.
His disheveled appearance belied the fact that he spoke 5 languages.
He made no apology.
He was eloquent and could hold the attention of the international visitors
for hours, but he could be moody, solitary and gruff.
Ali was a fascinating study in contrasts...

After nearly a month in the small village, I was ready to move on.
There was so much more exploring to do.
Ali seemed to anticipate my desire.
"Would you like to travel to some of the lesser known parts of Turkey...
where no tourists go? If you can wait a few weeks till the end of the season,
I will take you. It would not be possible to go on your own as a single woman, but you will see the real Turkey. We will travel as business partners."
Those areas were conservative. I understood.
It would be a unique opportunity.
Besides, some profitable business could be done.
Meanwhile, Ali started to teach me the business.
We talked about a partnership of sorts.
Things took a more serious tone when he let on that he had some debts
to clear. The shop had not sold as much as hoped that season.
That conversation began to be interlaced with more serious talks about how connected we felt. Perhaps our destinies were interwoven.
I was so enchanted that I was beginning to entertain the thought of staying
on in Turkey for some months.
I was at a personal crossroads in life and I was free to make such a change.
I wanted to live simply, write and explore the spiritual and metaphysical realms of life. Turkey was a piece of the puzzle for me...
With that in mind, I was getting to know some expat women who were living in Turkey more or less successfully. What I found was that a lot of foreign women had hooked up with Turkish men only to find themselves in the unenviable position of being a trophy wife, or worse yet, a mistress.
And then, if she had money, becoming a meal ticket.
I needed to test the waters...
I put our discussions on the back burner and decided to take a break
while waiting and do some independent touring.
Ali countered with a protest. He needed to know he could count on me.
He was risking his future, as well.
Things were becoming too serious too fast.
I needed time.
Ali had an almost hypnotic appeal. I had watched him interact with a lot
of people. Very charismatic and compelling.
Ali fitted himself to their cultures, lifestyles and personalities.
He had a way of anticipating my needs, my thoughts and moods, as well...
with an uncanny accuracy.
He was shifting my reality. I was losing my center.

This had a faintly familiar air but I couldn't quite trace its origins.
I knew that I would need to break free of his orbit for awhile to see clearly
and to make the best decisions for myself.
He was pressing for me to become his partner in business and in life.
He was a mixed bag...hard to know which aspects to trust. This experience was becoming more complex than I had anticipated.
What kind of destiny was this?
The questions were coming faster than the answers...

Eventually it was time for me to leave Turkey and head to the next country
on my itinerary. I left with a promise to return in a few months time.
I had a lot to think about.
I had become close to the women I sat with at the loom every day.
They were weaving me into their lives...
I loved Turkey and experienced spiritual connection that was strongly suggestive of past life.
But I was losing my autonomy on a subtle level.
Where I had felt peace and anticipation, I was beginning to feel burdened
and drained.
It was time for the break...

I travelled on to India, Thailand and Bali, but Turkey was ever on my mind.
I arrived safely home to the States after an amazingly fruitful trip.
There were so many fantastic experiences and people along the way.
In the aftermath, I unpacked not only my bags, but my memories
and the effects the trip had on me.
It was a great time of contemplation and seeing where it should all lead.
The travelling had opened me up in several ways.
I saw my old world with new eyes. Everything was more vibrant and alive.
As much as anything, travelling is about seeing oneself in relation to
the places, people and situations in the world.
There was much to learn from this rich experience.
I came back with more questions than answers...

My dreams were vivid-full of learning and insights.
One night, I had a lucid dream about wolves...
I did not understand its meaning.
That dream was followed by was another...and another. Strange...
Days later, a documentary on wolves caught my attention.
Then I began to notice wolves depicted on shirts, art, jewelry, cards.
They seemed to be everywhere all of a sudden.
Clearly there was something to pay attention to...
I sought information on wolves. I bought a wolf calendar for the year ahead.
They were infiltrating my life-waking and dreaming.
There were wolves at every turn, it seemed.
I felt haunted by them.
This continued for several weeks.
I wondered about the meaning and purpose.
The dreams became increasingly frequent.
I could almost feel wolves around me...
What seemed harmless at first began to be troubling.
I was slowly and steadily becoming obsessed with wolves...against my will. That was not good. I felt invaded. Pursued. Something was up. I felt ill at ease. I kept asking what it was all about...to no avail.
Then something happened that brought everything to a head!

One afternoon, I was sitting on a couch at the head of the houseboat I lived on. I was reading quietly when suddenly, the hair on my arms stood straight up.
I was suddenly alert. I looked up just in time to see a young wolf come ambling toward me. It had come from the back of the boat, slipping out from behind my bed and coming straight for me.
As it approached I drew my body up in alarm.
I pulled away in a panic, though there was nowhere to run.
I was frozen in fear as it approached. I could feel its wild nature.
When the wolf got within 2 feet of me and seemed about to leap at me,
teeth bared, a growl escaping from its throat, it vanished!
I was badly shaken.
It happened in broad daylight.
This had gone too far! Now I HAD to know what was happening!

I would not rest until I understood what this wolf business was about!
I pressed in...I had to know.
Somehow, it seemed to be connected with Ali. But how could that be?!
The sense was growing, though my mind could not imagine such a thing.
That answer...and that answer alone...was all I was given.

During the intervening weeks, Ali and I had corresponded several times.
Ali was eager for me to come back and begin our trip to the southeast.
He wanted to formalize a business arrangement...a romantic one, as well.
Everything sounded convincing, but there was a subtle element in play.
Every aspect was couched in humanitarian and spiritual concerns
(he knew my goals and aspirations).
I could not pinpoint or refute anything.
It was almost time for the return trip.
I needed to figure this out, but I was still unsure.

I knew I would have to be more direct and ask Ali himself.
Awkward....especially if it meant what I thought it did...
that I was being stalked... hunted for food (money).
That I was dealing with a predator...one that would take my life-
or at least my life savings.
Again, I wondered what part destiny played in all of this.
I didn't feel finished with Turkey, but neither did I want to court danger
on any level...emotional, financial, spiritual or otherwise.
Who was I dealing with?
A shape shifter? More powerful than I realized... ?
Did such things occur?
If so, I was dealing with a heavy hitter.

Then I made the connection...
There WAS something familiar.
Someone...from many years ago.
A similar mix of intelligence, intensity, spirituality and charisma
focused intently on me.
That time it had come through a preacher's son...
Angelic, destructive. Light and dark....in the end, a dangerous predator.
They shared another quality...pressing hard, but sweetly, for their way. Relentlessly pushing, backing off when they were on the edge of exceeding
the limit, wearing away at me till they got their way.
The prize, it seemed, was more than money...more intangible than that.
It was my energy...my soul.
Why me? Why not others?
They seemed to perceive something about me that I was not fully aware of.
What had I gotten myself involved in?
It was beginning to look like destiny involved a contest...
of wits, of truth and moral strength.
A revealing...

I woke once more to the call of the minaret...
It felt good to be back in Cappadocia.
I had not announced my arrival.
"Be wise as a serpent..." had been drumming softly in my mind.
I was becoming more sure than ever that he was the wolf that had invaded
my world over the last several weeks.
I recalled his earthy ways, his nocturnal habits, the stealth, his almost preternatural awareness. Sleeping in his shabby clothes much of the time.
Having no fixed place to sleep. Relying on instinct that wasn't altogether civilized...
I was no longer in his hypnotic thrall.
I wondered how vulnerable I would be to him now.

I took my time approaching the village.
Secrets cannot be kept long in this place.
Everyone knows...
The first person to see me would quietly relay the news of my return.
I walked slowly along the dusty road through the otherworldly terrain
of tufa rock and scrub past the cemetery with a headstone that bears his name.
It startled me afresh as it had always done from the first encounter.
What a way to contemplate one's death...

How would things go? Where would the truth lead?
Ali appeared crestfallen when he looked up from his newspaper,
but he recovered quickly.
I could tell that I had arrived at an inopportune time.
The weavers were guarded in their greeting, as if to silently
let me know that I should be wary.
We were good at reading each other. There was hidden information...
Ali chastised me for arriving unannounced. He needed the upper hand.

I could experience him clear-eyed now.
Breaking the energy had been the right move.
I had been stalked relentlessly for months.
I was learning his ways.

He shifted into a happier frame of mind and made me welcome.
The weavers remained true, silently broadcasting their concern.
"Are you ready to do business? We have been waiting for you.
How was your trip?"
I smiled briefly. "It's good to be back."
I could feel the separation. So could he.
There was a furtiveness behind his smile.
I looked at him with fresh eyes...more aware now.
He sniffed the air as I approached, reading far more than the obvious.
Alert. Cunning.
With the tourist season over, he was less careful about his appearance.
He had reverted to his natural self. Wilder, rough, unwashed, unshaven,
looking as though he had slept in his clothes for weeks.
His movements unpolished....now that he assumed I was securely snared,
I thought.
Who was this strange and compelling man?
Finally, he said with a piercing look "You've changed."
I was silent, watching. I had simply come back to myself.
In so doing, I could see how far and how steadily I had been manipulated.
Step by step.
All the words that had been spoken were right, but there was an unspoken agenda underlying them.
This was not just about money or business or romance or friendship.
It was not just about changing the course of my life.
I felt as though my soul and my energy and mind were being snared.
The various traps had been laid with the most appealing bait.
Ali's hypnotic voice lulling me, encircling, energetically tying my energy up.
Appropriating it for himself rather than for the good of the community
as he so often declared.

Earnest humanitarian or sly predator?

He reasoned that everyone is attracted to evil or danger on some level...
If he could exploit it, that was their problem.
He could easily justify his acts.

I had met his kind twice before...
The first encounter nearly cost me my life and sanity.
I had confronted and undone the trickery of the second one.

There seemed to be several kinds of destiny in my coming here...

We played a polite game of cunning with each other now.
It was impossible to hide. One could only move forward...carefully.
He knew he was losing me. The pressure to commit intensified.
I bargained for more...
More time...more information.

I waited for the right time...
"Ali...tell me. Do you have any affinity for wolves?"
Ali shifted on his couch, suddenly alert...expansive.
He threw his arms over the back of the couch, tossed his head back
and laughed heartily
He proclaimed with a full-throated voice "Ask anyone in the village!
I AM the wolf! They will tell you! I have always been the wolf!"


postscript to this story...
A little more time confirmed that he was a dishonest character...
the proverbial...and literal...wolf in sheep's clothing. He was about to be undone in other ways. The women at the loom had seen him with a new woman,
an Israeli.

As I disengaged from him, there was some spiritual backlash.
He was a very heavy hitter.

Over the ensuing years, he bartered and misused his knowledge of Sufism
to beguile other susceptible people, principally women.

I wondered where his...and my...life choices would land us over time.

15 years later, I returned to Turkey...again unannounced.
I had come, in part, to see the wolf, to finish the encounter begun 15 yrs before.
I was not sure where I would find him. My pre-trip search came up empty.
I knew only that he had lost his business after I left.

Disembarking in Istanbul for a few days before heading to Cappadocia,
I went for a walk to unwind after the long flight.
Now the first thing a seasoned traveler in Turkey does is avoid the omnipresent carpet shops. Typically a man will approach and start up a conversation, asking if you know your way or if he can be of any service. Before long, you have a walking companion and you are being guided
to a carpet shop. After tea and a long presentation of wares, you will have to work hard to extricate yourself without spending a few hundred dollars.
They line the sidewalks and you find you have to firmly turn them away.
On this morning, I noticed a young man and exchanged a smile along with
the morning greeting 'merhaba'. We enjoyed a bit of lively conversation
and then we walked together. Soon after, he pointed out the oldest mosque
in Istanbuland gave me a tour.
"My uncle has a shop next door. Would you be my guest for tea?
I assure you, you will not be asked to buy a carpet."
I was introduced to his uncle and tea was brought. A bit of polite conversation followed. "Have you visited Turkey before?"
"Yes, yes, a few times now." Cappadocia came up naturally.
"How did you find it?"
"It was my favorite place..." and before I could stop myself, out tumbled the events of my time at Ali's place, culminating with buying a carpet that was never shipped.
I was embarrassed. It was rude and pointless, but it came out without my being able to stop!
The uncle looked stricken on behalf of all Turkish carpet dealers.
"WHO did that to you!? I want to know!"
"Ali Karatas...from Goreme."
Looking even more stricken, he cried "I taught him the business!
He was like a son to me! I PUT him in business!"

Sometimes the whole of Turkey seems to function as a village...
This was one of those times!

"Do you wish to speak with him?"
"I do."
"Nephew! Bring me my phone!"
He had Ali on speed dial.
"Don't tell him where you got his number" he said conspiratorially.
We each knew that Fate had brought this about.
Ali answered moments later. It was all so easy...

"Ali, this is Debra. I am in Turkey."
He was startled. He stumbled over his words.
"I will call you when I arrive in the village."

It was a bit like 'counting coup.' It was enough.
He had been reduced to being a travel guide...
His health had suffered, as well.
Our trajectories in life had diverged sharply.

Afterward, the owner of the shop, knowing that Fate had made its appearance, asked me if I would interpret a troubling dream he'd had the night before.
I gave him the meaning.
He offered me a carpet as thanks and in reparation.
I thanked him for his kindness, but did not return for the carpet.

When I got to the village, much had changed.
Gone were the weavers, the expat women, all traces of Ali's shop.
I rang Ali. He was in the hospital.
It was not important to connect. I had my answers.

Things went very well for me and I was able to recover much lost ground
from the first trip. I encountered similar challenges, but was well able to chart my own course...a do-over.

Perhaps the wolf was simply behaving in accordance with its nature.
A predator by nature...seeking food for its family.
Not monogamous as generally believed.
A lone hunter scattering a herd, seeking vulnerable prey...

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