The next day, Timothy was anything but eager to meet his friends. They’d all seen what Gainer and Buster did to him yesterday. He tried to avoid them, but eventually, as he listlessly wandered around the Meadow, they found him and came running up.
Feeling sheepish, he said, “Hey, guys... What’s up?”
“We said we’d meet to go see that wolf-thing.” Ewellen excitedly responded. “Well. Here we are. Let’s go.” She was bouncing around unable to contain her excitement.
“I don’t know... I’m not sure I want to go.” Timothy still felt bad about being shamed.
“Oh, you’re not all upset about yesterday still. Are you?” Skipper sounded unbelieving. “You did pretty good against them ... At least at first. It wasn’t fair the way Buster sucker-butted you.” The others chimed in all at once trying to console him.
In all the bah-ing and bleating, he managed to hear, “Yeah, it was two on one”, from Johnny. “You didn’t have any choice. It was smart to run away.” He felt better, but everyone knew Johnny was so timid his own shadow scared him sometimes. So coming from Johnny, it didn’t help much.
“I still want to go see the wolf’s skin,” Ewellen said. “You’re really not afraid of it?” She added incredulously. Now Timothy felt better.
“Naw,” he heard Johnny again. “He was all over that skin. He ain’t scared of nothing. And you saw how he stood up to Gainer.” With that, Timothy couldn’t say no, whether he felt like it or not. So they all made the trek back over to the Shepherd’s tent.
When they got there, Timothy noted the skin had been picked up and dusted off. It was hanging over a slightly higher log now, but otherwise it looked much the same as when he’d last seen it. He had to admit that being on a higher log did make it look more imposing, larger sort of.
When Ewellen saw the skin, she squeaked out a little sound and her eyes went all round with fear. The whites of Skipper’s eyes were showing, too. Skipper stopped and stood there with his mouth open. Timothy could see Johnny was acting all proud, but noticed he still hung back from the skin with the others. Only Timothy kept walking up to the skin acting as casual as he could.
After Buster’s injury to his pride, Timothy desperately wanted to save some face and show off to his friends. Although he felt a little fearful as he smelled its strong scent up close again, he went straight up to it. When he reached it, he turned and grinned at his friends. Skipper and Ewellen milled about looking afraid and even Johnny was clearly nervous. Seeing Johnny, Timothy remembered how shocked he had been when the skin had fallen over him before. He decided now was a good time to give them a show.
Steadfastly, he went to one end and ducked his head under the skin. Doing this kind of scared him, but he had to show them. He had to. He hunkered down walking along under the log until he was under the middle of the skin. Gritting his teeth at the strong wolf-smell, and his fear, he stood up taking the weight of the skin onto his shoulders. He lifted it off the log and it flopped around on him.
He couldn't see his friends, but he could hear them squeaking out funny sounds. Timothy could tell they were upset and confused. Imagining he was impressing them, he yelled to show he wasn’t afraid and lunged forward. This was due as much to his nerves and the urge to get out from under it, as it was to make an impression.
Watching him, they were terrified. Timothy had just disappeared and the monster was moving about grotesquely. Ewellen and Skipper cowered, not at all certain what was going on.
Timothy, unaware, bucked and snorted to show them he was tough and unafraid. He was also becoming eager to get it off. As he pulled and bucked, it slid along the log at first with him, but then it snagged briefly on a short stub of a branch. It hung up just long enough to pull the wolf-face over his head before coming loose. It covered him like a mask and cape. Timothy realized that now he could see out of the eye-holes. The skin being caught on the branch made him lurch hard and stagger. “Ooof”, escaped his lips.
Hearing a scream, he turned to look. Ewellen shrieked shrilly again, “Oh, it’s got him. It’s got him.” Then, she wailed, “It's looking at us. We're next.”
“It’s alive,” yelled Skipper backing away. Timothy looked that way, turning the fierce wolf-face towards Skipper. When he did, Skipper panicked. Timothy watched him trip and fall over backwards. “Help. It’s going to get me, too.” Skipper bleated.
Although Johnny had seen Timothy under the skin before, his flailing about was just different enough this time that Johnny stood there indecisively shaking and stuttering.
“What... What’s the matter?’ Timothy asked surprised at their reaction.
Hearing his muffled voice, Ewellen panicked completely. “Oh! Timmy's still making noises. That horrible skin has eaten him alive,” wailed Ewellen. “Get away,” she screamed at him and fell over herself trying to get away.
This galvanized Timothy into motion again. He stumbled forward saying, “Wait. Stop. It’s just me.” He began to struggle violently under the skin, trying to get it off. Grunting and struggling harder only panicked them all the worse.
“It’s got his voice. It’s changed him into a wolf.” Skipper yelled. With that, Ewellen and Skipper bounded away crashing through the bushes, but Johnny didn’t move. He stood there shaking, his mouth moving and funny little sounds coming out.
Timothy thrashed some more, until the wolf mask slipped from his face. He shook the rest of the skin off. Finally out from under it, he found Johnny frozen and staring at him with his eyes bulging.
“Johnny,” he exclaimed. “Are you alright? Look, it’s me. It’s just me.” He repeated. He ran over and shook Johnny by butting him gently.
Johnny cowered at first from his touch. It took a few light butts, and some pushing with his head from Timothy, before Johnny managed to say, “Is it really you? Are you back?”
“Of course I’m back. I mean, I was never gone.” He corrected himself. “I was just under it. It didn’t do anything to me. I’m still me.” Johnny looked dubious, but he was happy to see his friend back to normal.
“Are you sure you’re OK? It didn’t hurt you or anything?” Johnny managed.
“No. It didn’t hurt me at all. It was like pulling myself under low branches. I could feel it on me, with its weight. Whew! Did it smell? Pew! But I'm fine.” Timothy could still see the uncertainty in his friend’s eyes, but the whites no longer showed as bad.
“Oh, wooly-boogers! Ewellen and Skipper have taken off. There is no telling what they’re going to be telling the other sheep.” Timothy was suddenly afraid he was going to get into some real trouble with the Flock. "Mutton and cockle burrs! When did this get out of hand?" he exclaimed.
“Listen, Johnny,” He pleaded. “I’m okay. You’re okay. We’ve got to pretend that this never happened.”
"But, why?" Johnny didn’t seem to comprehend.
“Johnny. Come on. Depending on what Ewellen and Skipper tell everyone, we're going to get into trouble.”
"Trouble?" Johnny squeaked timidly. The word trouble seemed to finally get through. Johnny had been in enough trouble with his folks in the past to not want any more. His dad was a jimsonweed addict and had abused Johnny severely when he was young. He still beat him from time to time. Timothy knew that was why Johnny was so timid.
Seeing Johnny’s reaction, he plunged on, “Yeah, trouble. That’s it, Johnny. We’re going to get into trouble if we don’t hide this and keep it a secret.”
Johnny didn’t look certain, but the word “trouble” had sunk in. “I don’t want any trouble. You know how my old ram feels about that. He gets real mean.”
Timothy swallowed. "I... I know Johnny. I'll keep him from hurting you."
"Thanks, Timmy. You're the best pal a sheep could have." Johnny was so earnest it brought a little tear to Timothy's eye.
Clearing his throat to break the mood, Timothy urged. “Let’s get out of here and get back to the Flock. If we can get far enough away, maybe no one will believe Ewellen or Skipper. They won’t be able to prove... Oh no!” Timothy whirled and looked at where the dark fur had fallen into a pile.
“What?” Johnny asked lamely, confused.
“The skin! We’ve got to hide the skin! In case they bring someone back here to prove what happened.” Timothy exclaimed. “Here, come help me.”
“Oh! No! Oh no, you don’t. I’m not going near that thing,” Johnny backed away a couple of steps. “It’s a bad thing.”
“No, it’s not. But it will be bad trouble if Ewellen and Skipper tell on us, and the rams come to check it out and find it here.” Johnny frowned. “Bad trouble” was certainly worse than “trouble”. “Come on! Just bite the edge over there. I’ll bite this edge. Then we’ll drag it off and hide it.”
“Hide it,” Johnny repeated. “Shepherd! I can’t believe I’m doing this for you Timmy.”
Together, and with more than a little cajoling, Timothy and Johnny dragged the skin off to the rocks above the Shepherd’s tent. There, they found a cave with a large stone that looked like it had been rolled back from the entrance. In a great rush, they hid it just inside the cave and ran straight back to the Mid-Meadows. This time, they didn’t stop to eat a bite, or to prance and play, at all on the way back.
Even making a direct trip, it was late when they got back. They found Ewellen and Skipper in front of the whole Flock still repeatedly claiming to some rams that Timothy had been eaten by a wolf, and that it had started speaking with his voice. As they came up, several members of the Flock saw Timothy, and he was quickly pushed forward. When Ewellen saw them, she was happily amazed Timothy was alive and unharmed. Skipper looked totally surprised to see them alive, but his look was quickly replaced with a dark scowl. It was clear he was sure Timothy was behind this and that he was up to something.
Two mature rams had been listening to Ewellyn and Skipper. They called for the boys to come forward. As ridiculous as Ewellen’s story seemed to them, the rams wanted to find out all they could. This was the most excitement the Flock had experienced in a while and the adults were acting very important about doing their jobs. Mr. Buttler, the biggest ram of the two, took the lead. He had Ewellen tell her tale one more time. Then, he demanded Timothy answer her charge.
“I don’t know what those two are talking about, sir,” Timothy denied with force. “I wasn’t up by the Shepherd’s tent today, sir.” Thinking fast he went on, “You see, ... Johnny and I just came back up from the Lower Meadows. Yeah, the Lower Meadows. My mom sent me to visit my Auntie Fleece. She’s my favorite aunt.”
What’s a small lie when it’s a part of a big one? he thought oddly.
“Oh yeah, and Johnny came with me.” He gave Johnny a hard look. Trouble, he mouthed silently at Johnny, hoping he would understand.
“Oh... Uh, yeah. Timmy’s aunt. Yeah, we were there.” Timothy thought that Johnny was floundering badly, but apparently the two big rams were buying it.
“We spent a long time there, cause she’s my favorite aunt”. Timothy started up again. Darn yarn, I’m repeating myself, he thought desperately. “And... then we kind of played around on the way back. We didn’t mean to take so long getting back.” Timothy's fabricated story was becoming more complex, but Johnny went along with it.
“Why? What’s wrong?” Johnny asked as innocently as he could. He had a practiced big-wide-eyed look that always worked pretty well on most folks.
Ewellen was fuming. “They're lying,” she insisted. “Lying! We all went to the Shepherd’s tent together. Right, Skipper?” Skipper nodded and tried to support Ewellen, but he began to mix up the wolves on the ridge with the one at the tent. As he floundered along, Mr. Buttler looked at the other ram and they shook their heads. It was apparent to Timothy the rams felt they had heard enough of the charade.
Mr. Buttler declared the whole thing over and told all the looky-loo sheep to disperse. “Go on. Go home. There’s nothing more to see here. No wolf, no foul. Let’s move along... NOW!” he finished with the last bit directed at a couple of older ewes who were still trying to discuss the merits of both sides between themselves. Startled the two headed off, but not without a few, “Well, I never...” remarks as they moved away. The gathered sheep began to break up. Timothy hoped most of them felt it was some kind of a prank by Ewellen and Skipper. But many looked undecided, and a few called for the rams to punish all four miscreants.
Turning his attention to the two-year-olds, Mr. Buttler said, “I don’t know who is pulling wool over whose eyes here. If I catch any of you making up any more stories like this to scare the Flock, I’m going to personally butt you all into next Sunday. Is that clear?” he asked with such a dark glower at them all that they had to back up a step. “I can't have you kids crying wolf when there isn't one. You ought to know the moral of that story,” he reminded them sternly.
“Yes sir!” Timothy hastily said as the others murmured their own assent.
“Now, get out of here,” he said and turned away.
As soon as Mr. Buttler stalked away, Ewellen wheeled on Timothy. “You just wait Timothy Sheep,” she glared at him as the last of the other sheep wandered away. “You’re lying and you know it. It’s not fair,” she began to sniffle. “We’re telling the truth and no one believes us. I’m so mad at you, Timothy. I’m never going to talk to you again, or you either, Johnny. You’re both dirty wool!” She exclaimed and with that, she began to cry and trotted away.
“Oh, yeah? Like your fleece is white as snow? I don’t think so,” Timothy yelled after her, but he felt bad.
“You’re a jerk, Timmy,” was all Skipper said. He turned and followed Ewellen off.
“Takes one to know one,” Timothy snarled back. He and Johnny stared silently after the two until they went out of sight.
“I guess they won’t have anything to do with us anymore,” Timothy said. Johnny didn’t answer. He was sitting there looking guilty. “Come on, Johnny. Who needs them anyway?”
“I feel bad, Timmy. They were our friends,” Johnny moped.
“Would you rather get in big trouble with your dad? Timothy hissed. “Anything is better than that. Isn’t it?”
"But we lied, Timmy." Johnny looked crushed.
"Well, yeah. But it’s better than admitting to it," he defended his words. "Especially now that we’ve laid out such a big lie."
“I guess.” Johnny started to walk away dejectedly.
“Hey. Where are you going? We won.”
“I don’t want to talk about it anymore. Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Timothy was depressed. He’d just lost two important friends over this wolf-skin, and now Johnny was walking away. Was it because he now had the skin or just anger at his lying, or both? Timothy wasn’t sure.
Well, Johnny will come around. Ewellen and Skipper hate him as much as me right now. It hurt when Skipper called me a jerk. Well, they're jerks. They got scared about the skin just because they aren’t smart enough to figure it out. It isn’t my fault they're dumb sheep. They deserved to be scared, he decided. Still, it made him feel bad to be ostracized by his friends.
The following day, Timothy noticed he was being shunned by most of the other sheep his age. He didn’t know if they were worried about him turning into something, or if they were just on Ewellyn and Skipper's side. Those two were far more popular than he was with the other two-agers. He heard the older sheep gossiping about it, too. Most of the other members of the Flock just stared at him if he went near, strangers as well as acquaintances. Timothy figured between some being dumb, and some being fearful, and others just angry about being disturbed, there wasn’t anyone who particularly wanted him around.
Even Timothy’s parents were mad about his being somehow involved in something, but they weren’t sure what. His mom told him they didn't know if they could believe him anymore. His dad kept telling his mom he'd grow out of it. Finally, Timothy heard Johnny’s dad had butted him severely again.
Several days went by and Johnny didn't come around to visit. Alone, Timothy moped around feeling sorry for himself and eating grass on his family’s home turf. He missed his friends, but he was mad at them, too.
"It’s my friends’ fault that I’m in trouble," he told himself. "I’m glad I scared them now. Hah, I ought to scare them again, only worse. Those lambkins! If they weren’t such scaredy cats I wouldn’t be in trouble."
He imagined once again how they should have acted. “Oh Timothy, you’re so brave,” Ewellen was supposed to have said. And then, “Yeah Timothy, I can’t believe how brave you are,” from Skipper. And even Johnny should have said, “See. I told you he wasn’t afraid of anything.” Timothy was basking in their imagined adulation when Johnny came up hesitantly.
“Hi, Timothy,” he said timidly. “How’s the wool curling?”
Startled, Timothy jumped a little. “Hmmph. Oh...hi. I was just thinking,” he said defensively. He didn’t want Johnny to know he’d startled him. “It’s good. It’s all good,” he said acting cool. “So, how are you doing?”
“OK. My dad let me have it for causing a ruckus,” Johnny winced at the memory. “It wasn’t too bad though. He couldn’t tell if I’d really done anything,” he finished up bravely.
"Gee, I guess my one little lie about that skin sure has a lot of complications. At least Buster and Gainer have lightened up. They just smirk and laugh whenever they see me now." Timothy decided he needed to try extra hard to be nice to Johnny. At least till his friend felt better. He was so glad Johnny had finally come back; he even stopped complaining about being called Timmy for a while. Eventually, after they’d played around a couple of hours, Timothy brought up the subject of the skin to Johnny again.
“So... It really was kind of funny when we scared Ewellyn and Skipper a few days ago.” Timothy acted nonchalant, watching Johnny' reaction. He wasn’t sure how Johnny felt about it yet.
“Well, yeah,” Johnny admitted. “I guess it was sort of funny, watching them fall down trying to get away at the tent.” That was all it took for Timothy to launch off on the subject. As he talked, he realized how in control he felt now that he had the skin. Soon, he was bragging about how he was fearless with the skin, and how real he looked. Johnny found himself caught up in Timothy’s excitement as well.
He kept agreeing, “Yeah Timmy. You sure looked like a real wolf. You were terrifying.” Timothy was enjoying having Johnny's complete attention once more.
“You know, Johnny. I’m thinking we ought to scare Ewellyn and Skipper again. You know, just to get even.” When Johnny didn’t answer immediately, Timothy hurried on, “You know how mean they’re acting to us and how they're avoiding us.”
“I don’t know, Timmy,” Johnny was reluctant. “Skipper and Ewellyn are our friends, even if they are mad at us right now.” Timothy could tell that Johnny felt hurt. Almost everyone avoided him regularly anyway. It had to really hurt knowing most of his few friends had abandoned him, too.
“But they’re the ones who are being mean, Johnny,” Timothy pursued. “I can understand they’d avoid me. After all, I’m the one who scared them. Then, I had to make up that story, but all you did was just support me a little. It’s not fair of them to blame you, too.”
“Yeah... I guess... Yeah, you’re right,” Johnny turned rebellious. “It’s not fair, not at all. They did deserve to be scared.” He paused a little less certain suddenly, “Didn’t they?”
“Absolutely, Johnny. That’s why we need to go up and get the wolf-skin out and make our plan now. I bet there are some ways to keep the skin on me better. It needs to stay on and look real.” Timothy began to think hard. “If we can figure out how to do it, we can even fool the big rams like Mr. Buttler. Wouldn’t that be cool to scare him? Huh, Johnny?”
“I... I don’t know, Timmy. Scaring them could get us into more trouble. Besides, you know I don’t like that thing. It gives me lamb-bumps.”
It took a while, but he finally talked Johnny into going back to the skin. Johnny managed to swallow his fear, mostly because now Timothy was his only friend.
"Come on, Johnny. Let's go back to the cave where we hid the skin."
# Chapter 8
They skirted wide around the Shepherd’s tent as they passed it. They didn’t see the Shepherd, but they also didn’t want to take a chance that he was watching and get themselves caught. When they got to the cave, with Johnny’s help, Timothy tried the skin on again. This will be the first time I’m purposefully intending to look like a wolf. Putting it on felt entirely different to him this time.
Johnny was nervous as he helped adjust the skin. “I don’t like the smell,” he complained several times as he helped Timothy adjust it back and forth. With his friend’s help, Timothy put it on and took it off several times trying to get it to fit right.
After pulling it this way and that with his teeth for a quite a while, Johnny said, "We need something to tie it on with."
"I saw some leather laces when I was in the Shepherd's tent before. We can get them." So they sneaked back to the tent and “borrowed” some of the leather strips to tie the skin with.
"Isn't this stealing?" Johnny asked nervously.
"Naw. He has lots of them and I'm sure he won't miss the ones we took." Nonetheless, Timothy watched nervously for the Shepherd as they hurried off with their loot.
Back in the cave, Timothy had Johnny pull hard with him to stretch the skin in a couple of places where it was too tight. After a few more times dressing up, he said, “I think it fits better now, Johnny. It’s like it was made for me. Don’t you think?”
“Well. It is easier to get on and off now,” Johnny admitted. “And I guess you do fit into it better. You know... I am getting pretty good at helping you with it now, too. But you’re really looking creepy, Timmy,” He added.
“Yeah, you’re weird-ing me out, Timmy. Wooley-boogers! You look just like a wolf!”
Timothy loved hearing that. He was stoked. "You think so? I must look pretty neat. Wouldn't it be cool to actually be a wolf, Johnny? Hey! Let's go down by the pond so I can look at my own reflection.”
“I don’t know, Timmy.” Timothy winced at the nick name, but bit his tongue. “If we get caught with this thing, we’re sure to get in trouble.”
“Oh, come on, Johnny. Don't be such a fuddy-dud. I just gotta see what I look like. Besides, there’s no one anywhere around. Just one quick peek and we’ll hurry back here and take the skin off. Ok?”
“Well… ok. I guess…”
Before Johnny could say anything else, Timothy laughed . “Alright! Come on Johnny.” With that he took off running towards the pond.
At first Timothy was cautious as he headed towards the pond, but as he went along and saw no one, he began to feel braver. Down they ran to the top of the Mid-Meadow to where the pond sat nestled in a stand of conifers. He was so eager to see his reflection that he hardly paid attention to anything the last bit of the way and ran far ahead of Johnny. Johnny yelled for him to wait, but Timothy was deaf to his calls. When he reached the pond, he rushed to its edge and stared into it. Amazingly, a ferocious wolf stared back.
Timothy swallowed hard. Although the skin only half covered him, in his sheep’s-eyes he looked every inch a wolf. Staring at his reflection, he began to turn and look at himself from each side. He hardly noticed when Johnny caught up gulping air. Timothy was so taken with his appearance that he couldn’t stop gazing at himself.
"I look so cool and scary! Rrrarr," he said to Johnny as he pretended to be tough and fierce. Johnny watched, unsure of his friend's actions. He was so busy watching his reflection, Timothy failed to notice some lambs come prancing up, until they came out of the bushes just a dozen feet away.
Hearing their gasps, he whirled. Everyone froze, staring at each other. Timothy stood perfectly still, afraid to budge, and for a moment no one moved. There were three lambs, and a two-ager babysitting them. Oh, cockle burrs! Timothy thought. Of course, the babysitter has to be Chrissie Wooly-one, the cutest ewe in the Flock. Now, I'm going to get it. I'll be in major trouble as soon as they tell my parents.
But, instead of ridiculing him, the lambs all began to bleat “Wolf!” at the top of their lungs and mill about. They each tried to run past one another in opposite directions. All they managed to do was to collide with each other.
Surprised , Timmy exclaimed, “Wolf? Where?” He looked around quickly. "Oh! It’s me." Slowly a grin stole onto his face. Smiling wickedly, Timothy leaped at them snarling and acting fierce again. “Rowr”.
Chrissie screamed, “Run!” The little lambs scattered crying and bleating for help.
Timmy laughed and chased after them, yelling “Growl”, “Roar,” and “Snarl”.
He heard Johnny call out, “No! Don’t…” but he ignored him. The lambs fell and tripped, time and again, over each other and everything in their way. Bawling and crying, they kept scampering away squealing in total panic.
Timothy, caught up in his excitement, kept chasing them further and further. Behind them all, Johnny tried to keep up. Happily yelling barks and snarls, Timothy ran behind them across two large meadows before it dawned on him that his “prey” was racing to the safety of the Flock. In fact, they were already awful close. He skidded to a halt.
Behind him, he heard Johnny yelling, "Stop, Timmy! Stop! They’re running to find the Shepherd!"
Suddenly panicked, he chastised himself, "How could I forget about the Shepherd? Oh, wooly boogers! I just can’t get caught in this wolf skin." Turning tail himself, he ran back the way they’d come, right past Johnny.
“What…? Wait! Timmy!” Resignedly, Johnny turned around and galloped after him.
Timothy hadn't gone far when, as he came around a fir tree, he came nose to nose with Skipper and Ewellen. Startled he stopped short. Their eyes bulged.
“Uh… Grrr..?” Timothy managed. Scrambling backwards, they both whirled and took off running so fast that Timothy was sure they were leaving a dust cloud behind. He stared after them for a bit. It did kind of hurt to see his best friends running away and screaming once again. Just then Johnny caught up again.
"What did you do now?" Johnny gasped.
"It wasn't my fault. They were just there."
"Good gosh, Timmy. Now they're really going to hate us."
"I can’t let spooking those two bother me," he retorted. "Our ex-friend’s deserve to get scared anyway for... for... being snobs and avoiding us. Yeah, that’s right. Besides, if Ewellen and Skipper have forgotten seeing me under the wolf skin at the Shepherd’s tent, it's because those two are just dumb sheep, like the rest of the Flock ." Timothy could see Johnny was still unhappy about it. "Besides, Johnny, I didn’t go chasing after them like I did the others. It was an accident. Come on," he looked around nervously as he started to trot. "We really need to get out of here now."
"I don't know, Timmy. I feel pretty bad about this." But Johnny ran along behind him again.
Not long after scaring Skipper and Ewellen, he also ran into the head ram’s ewe. As Tmothy ran into a clearing and stopped panting, there was Eulabell Ramsey on the other side, already bleating, "Wolf". Watching her run, Timmy laughed. She was almost too fat to run as she waddled away. She left behind a hat of flowers she’d been wearing. Timothy tried a new trick. He tore up her bonnet and grass where its pieces lay to further spook any of the Flock that came to investigate. Then he marked his wolf scent (a new form of graffiti) on the rocks and shrubs around it. He’d found out by accident that to leave his wolf smell, all he had to do was rub the skin on things. The harder he rubbed, the stronger the smell he left. It was easy. So he left a lot of wolf-scent to scare them all the more.
"Timmy! That's enough already." Johnny admonished as he watched. He looked disturbed by Timothy's actions.
"But I love tearing her things up. It makes me feel strong." As he said it he realized it was true. "Anyway, no one dares to challenge me in this wolf skin. They all think I'm too big and mean. Everyone is afraid of me, now. What a rush. This is the life! I really should become a wolf permanently." The thought unsettled him a little in ways he couldn’t quite define. "You're right, though. Let's get going."
Timothy didn’t stop until he’d ran straight back all the way to the cave. The worry over being caught had him tearing off the skin as fast as he could. Leaving it in a pile on the cave floor, he bolted out almost colliding with Johnny again, who had just arrived.
“Timmy! Watch out!” Johnny panted winded.
“Come on, Johnny. We gotta get out of here.”
“Wh-why?” Johnny stuttered.
“In case they come looking for a wolf, dummy!” He didn’t wait for Johnny’s response.
# Chapter 9
Afraid of being caught, Timothy circled the long way around, heading back to where the Flock was grazing. Johnny trailed along behind him, hurt by Timothy's remarks. As they got nearer, they could see everyone gathered together. They were all talking about the “Great Wolf.” Over the general pandemonium of the Flock, he could hear Chrissie and the lambs repeating their story.
“It appeared out of nowhere!” cried one little lamb.
“It was at least ten feet tall!” cried another.
“It was terribly ferocious!” still a third.
“It was a monster,” Chrissie wailed.
“Yep. That's a wolf for sure,” Old Wilbur said knowingly. “Why, I remember when....” But no one was listening to him repeat his old wolf stories. They were all listening to the kids and Chrissie. Eulabell was with them, nodding confirmation to everything they said.
Most of the Flock had gathered around, milling here and there, trampling a lot of perfectly good grass. They were abuzz with excitement and fear. Timothy snickered to himself as he listened to it, knowing they were greatly exaggerating events. Then, he heard someone say the Shepherd had gone out looking for the Great Wolf.
“That’s right. He went off right away with his rod and staff,” someone assured the crowd. “It took him a while to get the story straight because our poor panicked lambs were bleating so badly, but he left at once afterwards.”
Hearing that, Johnny looked at him accusingly and whispered fiercely, “See what you've done. You shouldn’t have scared them, Timmy. I tried to warn you, but you wouldn’t stop. Now the Shepherd is looking for you.”
Looking away guiltily, Timothy felt cold and shivery inside. "I really don’t want to run into the Shepherd while I’m in that skin," he told Johnny. "Not if he has his rod and staff with him! He’ll think I’m a real wolf and kill me for sure." Johnny nodded looking worried.
No longer panicked, Eulabell, Chrissie, and the little lambs, all appeared to enjoy being the center of attention. Irritated, at that Timothy forgot his fear. "Yarn-and-darn that Chrissie Wooly-one! Of all the girls my age, she irritates me the most. She’s so self-righteous, and stuck on herself. It’s a shame she’s so cute," he sighed. He’d been heart struck with her for months once, but she always acted like she was too good for him.
"Chrissie hangs out with that bum, Buster. Plus, she’s awful proud of herself and she’s as snooty as the day is long," he grumbled. Then he added self-satisfied, "Well, she wasn’t so proud and snooty when I scared her wool straight." He gave a short little laugh and got another sharp look from Johnny. It sounded a little cruel even to him, so he cleared his throat and said, "At least we didn't see Ewellen and Skipper there adding their two bits." Then he wandered away from the milling crowd of sheep. Johnny started to follow him, but stopped and shook his head. Timothy left him there.
"Their bleating was getting on my nerves anyway," he said back at Johnny, but he felt strangely lonely. As he walked away, he thought it over. In spite of Chrissie’s getting all the attention as the “hero” of her wolf-adventure, he began to feel better. "After all, I’m the wolf they’re all talking about. I fooled everyone. Only Johnny knows." Timothy felt like he would burst from having such a great secret. "
"I scared them so bah'd. Johnny's right, I look just like a real wolf when I'm all dressed up in the skin. Why, I bet I could fool anybody, even other wolves! I’m the only one not afraid of the wolf today."
Being the only one unafraid made him feel stronger and superior to them all. Timothy smiled smugly, glad he scared them. "No one knows it’s me. I’m anonymous." There was a big word Timothy liked the sound of. "Anonymous, yeah! I can do anything I want dressed like this," he thought." No one will stop me because they’ll all be afraid. Wow, that’s so cool."
Ewellen and Skipper huddled up close under a blackberry thicket having a hushed conversation.
"We should tell everyone we saw the wolf that Chrissie and the kids saw," Skipper urged again.
"No!" Ewellen insisted. "Not after no one believed us about Timmy at the Shepherd's tent. They all listened to his sheep-faced lie about the skin at the tent. Without proof, they'll think we made it up."" She pouted.
"What are we gonna do?" Skipper looked worried. "First Timmy turns into a wolf in front of us, and now there is a wolf appearing in the Meadow! Right here in our Meadow!"
"Skipper!" Ewellen brightened up. "That's it. Those two happenings have to be related!"
"Huh? What do you mean?"
"We saw Timmy turn into a wolf and now there's a wolf in the Meadow. It has to be the same wolf! Both things have happened too close together to not be."
"You think Timmy is the wolf that scared us today, too?"
"Maybe Timmy has turned into a 'were-sheep'!" Ewellen said.
"A what?" The confused look on his face would have been funny to Ewellen if she wasn't so serious about Timmy.
"A 'were-sheep'. That's a sheep that turns into a wolf during a full moon."
"You think Timmy is a were-sheep?" Looking around, Skipper was suddenly afraid Timmy, or the wolf, was watching. "My mommy always told me those weren't real."
"But it explains everything, Skipper," Ewellen rushed on. "How Timmy changed before our very eyes into a wolf and then how it spoke with Timmy's voice. And, after all, he has been acting strange ever since. Like he has a secret."
"But, ...it was daytime then, and there wasn't a full moon," Skipper protested.
"Maybe the stories aren't completely right about were-sheep. Or maybe it was a curse or a potion that changed him, and now he changes back and forth without a moon. Sheared sheep, Skipper! How should I know. Were-sheep weren't real for me either until Timmy became one."
"If Timmy is a were-sheep, we need to warn the Flock!"
"No one will believe that a were-sheep is real unless we can get some proof."
"Proof?" Skipper was skeptical. "What kind of proof?"
"I don't know." Ewellen sat down and thought. "We need to start following Timmy around. If we can catch him changing into a wolf, we can maybe find something that will show we're right."
"But, if he changes into a wolf, he might eat us."
Skipper had a good point. Ewellen thought about before replying. "You know, the wolf couldn't even catch Eulabell Ramsey and you know how fat she is. I bet whatever changes Timmy into a wolf, makes him too slow to catch anyone." When Skipper gave her another doubtful stare, she said, "Oh come on, Skipper. You can outrun old Eulabell. That wolf won't be able to catch us."
Still looking doubtful, Skipper said, "Well, Ok. When do we start?"
"Now," Ewellen bossed. "Let's start following him together. It's safer."
The first week after scaring Chrissie and the lambs, Timothy was terrified that the Shepherd would appear and accuse him of his crime. But he never saw the Shepherd, not even at a distance. He was not unhappy about that, although he was a little amazed at it. Outside of his being fearful he'd be caught, Timothy had spent the two weeks since the "wolf's" appearance in the Meadow absorbed in thinking about the fun he'd had scaring everyone. The "wolf" was still the talk of the Flock.
Timothy felt safer when he heard a rumor that the Shepherd had gone down to the Low Meadows to save a small group of sheep who had lost their way.
"Dumb sheep," he thought angrily. "Someone's always losing their way. What’s so hard about getting around the Meadows? I can do it in the dark." Still, knowing the Shepherd was gone made him brave again. He decided to go find Johnny to help him put the skin on again.
He found him on his hillock in Mid-Meadow. Johnny was just standing there looking lonely. Timothy felt a sudden pang of guilt. He neglected Johnny completely these past two weeks. He knew Ewellen and Skipper were hanging out together, but they were still carrying the grudge against him and Johnny. That left Johnny with no one to hang out with.
“Hey, Johnny,” Timothy said as he trotted up. “How’s the grass over here?”
Johnny looked startled then surprised. “Oh. Hi, Timmy. I thought you’d forgotten all about me,” he added forlornly. “Everyone’s forgotten about me.” Johnny’s self-pity was so thick Timothy could rake it with his hoof.
“I’m sorry, Johnny. I’ve been... kind of busy.”
"Busy?" Johnny continued, “Doing what? Do you think my head is full of wool? ”
Timothy quested about for a good lie. Lying was becoming much more natural for him now. “I guess I should have known, smart as you are, you’d have figured me out fast.” He had to admit to himself, he'd been so possessed by the skin, he really haven’t thought of Johnny a bit in the last few weeks. “See, uh, I've been thinking of ways to make sure we could both get away with playing wolf together before I let you in on it, Johnny. You’re my best pal. And, uh, I wanted you to have fun, too. But I didn’t want your folks to have another excuse to beat you up.” Timothy knew he was grasping at straws, but was hoping Johnny was still a sucker for the abuse he got at home.
Johnny smiled a little lopsidedly. “So... you didn’t forget about me?” He asked tentatively. Timothy could hear a note of wistful hope there.
“No way! I could never forget my best friend!” Timothy put all the earnestness he could into it. “You know that, Johnny. Don’t you?” He hoped Johnny “knew” that. If he didn’t, the lie wouldn’t stick. And he really needed to get Johnny’s help.
“So...” Johnny grinned wide suddenly. “So, how’s it feel to be running all over the Meadow in that stupid stinking skin?” Timothy was briefly shocked at how pleased Johnny was about his terrorizing the sheep. Johnny snickered, “You sure scared that old ewe the other day. The way she tells it, she barely escaped with her wool. It was a close shear,” he laughed this time, outright. Johnny was obviously thrilled at Timmy’s wickedness.
Timothy laughed himself now. “She was my Sunday school ewe when I was first old enough to get into classes. She used to rap my hooves for every little infraction. It was great to get even.” He paused, “You aren’t going to tell on me are you?”
Johnny looked a little disappointed with Timothy. “No,” he said at last. “I won’t tell. Who knows, I might want to find a wolf skin for me too, sometime”, he said with bravado. “Seems like you’re having a real good time. I can’t let you hog all the fun.”
“Great, Johnny. I was hoping you could help me to set up some new scares. Me and you, just like old times, huh pal?” He was happy to see Johnny beam back at him. Yeah, he thought. My old "pal" still believes whatever I tell him.
“A wolf-skin of your own, huh?” He wasn’t sure how serious Johnny was considering the trouble he had been having getting close to it, but he pretended to agree. “What a great idea. Hey! You can “borrow” my skin and try it out if you want. Have your own little wolf rampage.” Offering to share his skin bothered Timothy, but he needed to solidify Johnny’s support. He couldn't help adding, "It’ll just be a loan you know. And just now and then." He forced another big grin onto his face, “Want to go try it right now?”
Together, they ran back to the cave. There Timothy helped Johnny try on the skin. He could tell Johnny was still skittish about it, but he tried to act tough as Timothy tied it on.
Timothy started talking while he worked on the skin. "I guess it’s true, ‘the wool does make the lamb’", he snickered. "Appearance is everything. If you dress like a wolf, and act like a wolf, then you are a wolf, at least as far as the other sheep know. You're a sheep in wolf’s clothing. They don't have to know there's a sheep inside. No one does," he smugly grinned as he pulled a lace tight. "Cause when you're a wolf on the outside and that’s all that matters."
"You think so?" Johnny asked.
"Sure." He figured he'd try out his thoughts of becoming a wolf more permanently on Johnny. "You know...If I were to become a wolf, I couldn’t stay here. The Shepherd would get me eventually. My luck can’t hold out forever. The outside world, that’s where I’ll have to go. I’d be wild and free. I’d be a wolf. No one bothers wolves. I’d be perfectly safe out there. Everyone and everything would be too afraid to hassle me, and I wouldn’t be around these stupid foolish sheep," he told himself. He didn't notice Johnny's pained look.
"I'm not stupid. And neither are most of the other sheep. Besides, wouldn't you be afraid out there by yourself?"
As much as Timothy wanted to run away to be a wolf, he had to admit, leaving the Flock and the Meadows that he knew so well was still a little too drastic a step. Tempting as it was to fantasize about running off into the Outside World, he knew he was still too afraid to do it. But he wasn't going to tell Johnny that.
"I’m not really afraid of course. I just don’t need to go just yet. I’ve got plenty of time to decide when to try it. Plus, I haven’t really made up my mind yet," he assured Johnny. "I can do it anytime."
He was silent, thinking as he tied more laces. He'd taken to avoiding his mom and dad as much as he could. When Timothy did see his folks, he barely spoke to them anymore. With all their worries about wolves, every evening the subject of conversation at home was some new story about the wolf.
Out loud he said, "There are already more false stories being told about the "wolf" than real ones. And my parents are upset over it now. I'm plenty annoyed with them for all their narrow-minded fears about wolves. Why, I can see they don't know the first thing about wolves," he criticized. "Yep, I know much more now than they do. I'm a regular wolf at heart."
"But don't you feel bad about scaring Ewellen and Skipper?" Johnny was frowning.
Timothy felt a twinge of guilt again about Skipper and Ewellen, but he defended himself. "Aw. We hardly ever see them anymore. Anyway, I don't care. Ewellen and Skipper have snubbed us completely." Truth be told, he hadn't even seen much of Johnny for longer than to say, “Hello, bah-bah, and goodbye” in the past weeks. Although he admitted to himself he hadn’t tried to find Johnny either.
Still making excuses, he went on, "I guess I don't hang out with anyone any more. I mean, anyone but you, Johnny. We have different interests from other sheep now, you and me. All they worry about is whether the grass is greener in the Dale, or at the Pond, or up by Big Rock Point. That and whether they are pleasing the Shepherd. Hmmmph. What did the Shepherd ever do specifically for me?" Timothy asked with sudden heat.
“Nothing!” He answered his own question fiercely. “Nothing.”
# Chapter 10
For a couple of fun filled days, Timothy and Johnny shared the skin in their private spot at the cave where no one would see them. They practiced doing wolf-ly things together. Timothy kept thinking of becoming a full-time wolf. He decided to bring it up again to see if Johnny was ready to support him.
“Wouldn’t it be great to go out into the Outside World, Johnny?” Timothy asked watching for a reaction out of the corner of his eye. “I’d like to go and see all the things I’ve heard about, but when I do, I’m going as a wolf. That way, everyone will be afraid of me and I can go anywhere I want and do anything I want. I’ll have a great time.”
“Gosh Timmy, would you be going all alone?” Johnny looked sad, but then, “Gee, I could go with you. We can take turns wearing the skin. Then, we’d both be safe out there.” Johnny was almost pathetically eager to go with his friend.
“No, I don’t think so Johnny. I’d need to be in the wolf skin all the time. I’d..., I mean, we'd be in danger if we both didn’t look and act like a wolf the whole time.” Timothy could see that Johnny didn't like his answer very much. “Come on, Johnny. You know it’s true. We'd really be in danger whenever either of us was out there without the skin on. Why anything may come by and decide to eat us.”
“Well,” Johnny said sulkily looking at the ground. “What if I got my own skin? Then I could be as big and bah'd a wolf as you. Then we could go together. Right, Timmy?”
Timothy felt like he was on the spot. “Well, sure. But where are you going to get another skin?” He had a sudden bad thought. “And don’t be thinking about sneaking my skin. It’s mine Johnny, finders’ keepers. Get your own skin.” Suddenly, being the only one who had a skin was important to Timothy. That and going into the Outside World all alone.
Looking over at Johnny, Timothy saw that his friend was frowning heavily. The awkward silence let Timothy know he had probably gone too far. Only feeling part guilty he thought, Sheep-gone it! I still need Johnny's help to tie on the skin. I'll need him until I can learn to do it completely by myself.
“You know,” Timothy suggested to Johnny in a softer more helpful voice. “I bet there is another skin in the Shepherd’s tent. He’s got to have wiped out tons of real wolves around here for years. I bet there are plenty in there somewhere.” He could see Johnny brighten. “But, we need to make sure it's safe out there in the Outside World first. I’ll go out as a wolf and you look for another skin. After a bit, I’ll come back. Then we can both go back out together. What do you say?”
Johnny grinned, “Promise you’ll come back for me?” He asked eagerly, but then he frowned. “Once you have everything you want, what’s to make you want to come back?”
Timothy suddenly felt worried. Johnny had always believed him before. No matter what he’d told him. I've got to soften him up. I can’t afford to have him not be with me on this, he thought. He decided to act hurt.
“Oh Wow. Don’t you trust me, Johnny?” Timothy thought fast. “You’re my best friend in the whole world. I just have to come back for you.” That was what Johnny apparently wanted to hear. It perked him up so much that he whistled and sang the whole time he was tying the wolf skin onto Timothy. As he did, Timothy wondered if he really intended to come back or not. “It may not be convenient when I'm out there having fun. I guess I can worry about it later,” he told himself.
As they finished, Johnny began to look melancholy again. “Gee, Timmy. How are you going to eat out there?”
“Food is everywhere. We’re sheep, remember? I just have to eat when no one can see me.”
“Oh, yeah,” Johnny said. “I knew that.” He thought a bit and then said, “But won’t you be scared? I mean, with all the bad things out there?”
“Nah! I’m going to be disguised as a wolf. Why, I can even hang out with other wolves if I want to.”
“Wow! Really? Hang out with real wolves?”
“Yeah. Where else would be safer than in a pack of wolves? Everyone is afraid of them. That’s where I’d be safest”, he declared, certain of the truth of his statement. “I bet they have nothing but lots of fun all the time.”
“You could howl and yip at the moon as late as you wanted.” Johnny chimed in excitedly. “No one could tell you when to go to bed.”
“No one will tell me anything anymore. This is going to be great. Wolves aren’t scared of anything. Why, I could go anywhere I wanted dressed up in this skin,” Timmy declared.
“Wow.” Johnny said. The hero worship was so thick you could cut it with a sharp horn. Timmy was enjoying every minute of it. He was really considering the idea more and more solidly now, but then Johnny said wistfully, “Too bad it’s just a dream. We couldn’t really go. I mean really. What would the Shepherd think?”
Timothy stared at Johnny a minute, shocked out of his daydream of adventure and glory. “Well... Sure we can. I mean... Oh, I don’t know,” he admitted honestly this one time. “Maybe not.” But the thought of traveling up the Mountain, actually out in the Outside World, had latched onto him and he couldn’t shake it.
“But maybe so, too,” Timothy heard himself asserting. “I mean there’s no need to hurry about leaving. I’ve got lots of time. And there's a lot to do here first. Yep,” he confidently told Johnny. “No need to move too quickly, I’ll go when I’m ready. Here, Johnny. Help me out of this thing and we'll try it on you again.” It was time to start making sure Johnny is committed, he thought.
Timothy’s parents were less and less happy with all the wolf sightings going on. Sheep were seeing wolves all over the Meadow now. One day alone there were reported sightings of the wolf in the Low Meadow in the morning, six places in the Mid-Meadows through the afternoon, and twice more in new locations in the evening. This occurred on a day Timothy and Johnny had both “taken a rest” from using the skin.
“Why, there must be dozens of wolves out there now. They’ve seen so many,” his mother worried. “Old Wilbur knows of at least fifteen sightings of wolves just recently. You shouldn’t be out by yourself, Timothy. There is no telling when something seriously bad is going to happen to one of the Flock. I don’t want it to be you.”
“Oh, Mom!” Timothy exclaimed exasperated. “Nothing is going to happen to me.”
Especially, he added to himself, since I am the one playing wolf.
“Now, Timmy,” his father cut in. “Don’t argue with your mother or I’ll whack you in your mutton chops.”
“Yes, Sir,” Timothy muttered.
“I don’t want you going out by yourself anymore,” his mother declared. “It’s just not safe.”
“What? That’s not fair! I am old enough to go where I want by myself. I’m over two. In fact, I’m practically three,” Timothy argued in spite of only being a bit over two, and in spite of his father’s warning. As usual though, his Dad didn’t pay any more attention to him.
“I don’t care, Timmy. Unless you are with a friend, I don’t want you out of our sight.” His mom said firmly. It was clear that as far as she was concerned, the matter was closed. Timothy thought about her new rule sulkily.
Then he brightened. Of course! Johnny can go with me whenever I want to go out. He’s in on my plan now anyway, so he can come over and I’ll take off with him. Once I’m out of sight, I can do whatever I want. I’ll just need to meet back up with Johnny before I go home.
Putting on a contrite face, Timothy said, “OK, mom. I’ll make sure that I go with a friend from now on. I promise,” he added to make sure she believed him. He was almost beside himself when it took another full day before Johnny finally came looking for him at home.
“Hey, Timmy. Where have you been?” he called cheerfully as he strolled up.
“Am I glad to see you,” Timothy grinned in relief. “Mom decided with the wolf being seen all about, that I can’t go out alone anymore. I can only go if I go with a friend. But you’re here now, so come on, let’s go.” The words just tumbled out of Timothy.
“But, Timmy. You’re the...” Johnny started to say.
Timothy cut him off quickly since he saw his mom ambling up. “Oh. Hi, Mom. Johnny wants me to go out and play,” he cheerfully spouted quickly.
“Hi, Mrs. Sheep,” Johnny said dutifully.
“Hi, Johnny,” she replied.
“Can I go? Johnny and I’ll be together and we won’t stray.”
His mother frowned. “Well, there haven’t been any new reports of anyone seeing a wolf today, but...” She sighed. “OK. Just be careful. You hear me? Come home wagging your tails behind you, you hear?” She yelled the last after him. Timothy had already taken off with Johnny trailing behind and looking a little bewildered.
“Sure, Mom,” Timothy called back over his shoulder. “Whooo weee,” he shouted and kicked up his hooves and pranced a bit. “Wooly booger! Am I glad to finally get out! Come on, Johnny,” he called and began to run for their secret cave. He couldn’t wait to put the skin back on again. He only felt good now when he had it on. “I wish I could keep that skin on forever,” he lamented. “I wish I were a real wolf.”