Bet you didn’t know even a wolf can face-palm.
“I won’t hear any arguments, no matter how foolish you think you job this week is,” Mother said as she sorted her prized gourds.
Peter sat heavily on a bag of barley in the corner of their tiny house. “It’s not that I think it’s foolish, it’s just that I’m needed helping raise the Tchialsky’s roof this week. Any of the young kids can watch the sheep and goats.”
Mother’s eyes sparkled when she found an especially plump gourd. “Must tell Lana about this one–it’s easily bigger than her stupid little squash from last week.”
Peter reclined on the grain bag.
“Peter, dear, I think we all know why are are taking the chore of watching the flock this week.”
“And why is that, mother?”
“Because of your airs. The priest saw you climbing to the top of the cross beam once, hooting like a Jew caught in the money jar.” She picked out another decent gourd. “Likely trying to get the girls to look at you again.”
“I am strong. That’s why I hold the damn crossbeam in place!”
“No such puffing-up language or vain glory in this house. Do you want to tempt the evil eye with such exaggeration?”
Peter stood. “No chance. All the evil eyes seem stuck in the faces of the Rashikov sisters!” He then ran, knowing his mother could fling a less-prized gourd at him immediately.
That night, terror struck the sheep’ and goats’ pens near Peter’s tiny watch hovel. Silver and black wolves had obviously scouted the place for days while youngsters watched the flocks. Despite the presence of a much older young man, Peter, they attacked.
Peter felt as though he’d been rooted to the ground for half an hour, but it was really only a few seconds before the wolves carried off the last of the bleating animals.
An entire winter’s worth of milk, cheese, and in some cases, needed fur. Every goat and lamb vanished.
Stunned, Peter started his deep night’s slog back toward the village. When he finally arrived, he knocked on the Mayor’s house.
His wife answered the door. She turned ashen at Peter’s face. “Ma’am, I’m so sorry, it happened so fast—but wolves took both the flocks.”
There was a heart-beat, then a great peal of laughter erupted from the woman. “Oh dear boy, you had me going there for a moment! Herbert, wake up, Peter’s got something to say!”
Peter couldn’t believe his ears. They didn’t believe him. They thought he was just playing for attention like a child. He backed away toward the snowy city square.
“WOLVES!” he bellowed. “Wolves took the flocks!”
Oh Christ, it’s always that Peter, always trying to draw attention to himself, the people thought. It was hardly wolf season to begin with anyway. One silly boy trying to get others’ attention is quite enough for this night.
His mother never even stirred.
Peter tried to bang on other houses; he tried screaming again in the city square.
Herbert, the mayor, listened to his wife’s story and peeked out the window: “Young folks will do anything for stupid attention these days. They’re all so selfish. You know what I’ll do: as punishment, I’m going to make Peter watch the animal flocks next week, too.”