The family that lived at the edge of the oak forest kept away from the town folks and rarely interacted with their neighbors. One of the townsfolk might catch a glimpse of one of the children talking to forest animals or see the children climbing trees. Sometimes in passing conversation some peculiar circumstance might be mentioned but in general everyone thought it best to mind their own business.
Mr. Wolfe and his wife took two walks per day, one at daybreak and the other just after the sun set and stars were beginning to pop out of the dark canopy of night. Some of the townspeople suggested that Mrs. Wolfe was an artist and Mr. Wolfe was a writer but no one bothered to ask or do any research. The guesses were true and they were well known in some circles. Mr. Wolfe was also a character actor appearing in many minor roles. In the big city their names were occasionally mentioned in the society pages but in their small town they were just normal people with abnormal children.
Mr. Wolfe owned a mom and pop mini mart five miles from their house and a mini storage facility next to town. Although many said the Wolfe family was rich the family was careful with their money and bought forest land which they donated to the U.S. Forest Service.
Things didn’t always go well for the family. Because the children had ongoing problems in school, Mrs. Wolfe, after teaching three years, decided to stay home and take care of the three boys and one daughter.
In their younger years the four children were hard to describe. They seemed to blend in with every kind of scenery or scene. When class pictures were taken the Wolfe children never were in focus or were hidden just out of the picture. Newcomers to the area might ask, “Where’s Johnny? Or where is Abigail?”
After a few days the newcomers didn’t ask anymore because the regulars would simply turn away glassy-eyed and ignore the question. It was said that Johnny and Abigail could hide in shadows or cracks in the walls. Of course that was nonsense, or at least it couldn’t be proven.
The two younger brothers, Justin and Phillip, were even harder to explain and even harder to ignore. Their movements were quick and their voices too loud for indoor activities and the Wolfe house couldn’t contain their restless activity.
Outdoors the children were at home, especially when they were in shady areas or partial darkness. When twilight drew near and nocturnal animals were shuffling about, the two boys became restless, energized and alert. On nights when the full moon swallowed up the sky, the two younger brothers roamed the countryside, and went racing about, carefree and wild.
Both smiled constantly, but if they felt threatened or saw someone bullied, their demeanor changed. The smiles changed to snarls and the fight was on. On several separate occasions bullies challenged Phillip and Justin but the battles were always short. A whirl of motion here, a snap and a growl, and the bullies were on their backs, pleading for mercy. Although it didn’t last long, peace reigned for awhile.
When they were in their twenties they appeared suave and sophisticated. All of them had been exposed to stage and cinema and were anxious to see if the thespian life was their calling.
Johnny and Abigail took small parts hoping the roles would expand. Justin and Phillip were not sure they wanted to be actors so they held back.
Justin learned a lot about himself while protecting others. After the first time he had come to someone’s defense, Justin wanted to be a deputy keeping law and order. In his opinion every person deserved equal treatment.
Phillip, the most unusual of the four, had special qualities. Everyone believed he had ESP because he had the uncanny ability to look at someone and know his next move. It was thought that Phillip could track any animal across rocky terrain or across bodies if water. Phillip knew his abilities but he let people think his powers were unlimited.
Once, during search party training exercises, Phillip demonstrated what he could do. It was recorded on film by a deputy and verified by several others.
“Philip bent low to the ground, took a quick sniff, tilted his head back and howled, long and blood-curdling. He then proceeded to track a mountain lion to its den.”
The Wolfe family had long been fans of the Theatre and claimed they had several well-known relatives, one of the most notable being Virginia Wolfe. Abigail had taken voice lessons and seemed destined to be a star but bright lights frightened her. Even after therapy she seemed blinded and unsure of herself. She was the first Wolfe to face disappointment in acting.
Johnny, the next in line, was accused of pawing several leading ladies. His chance to become a leading man was diminished. He was ruled out of future productions and became the second disappointment.
Justin seemed a shoo-in for the role of a leading man. Handsome and well-liked, Justin wanted to be the hero and win the lady’s heart. However, in his first role the leading man was a villain. In Little Red Riding Hood Justin wanted to transform the wolf into a good Wolfe. His request was turned down and he dropped out of acting to begin a career in law enforcement.
Phillip finally tried out for a part. He wasn’t trying to make it big, but merely get his foot in the door. He learned his lines quickly and easily. Becoming too involved was his major concern. Could he actually lose a stage fight or give up a fair maiden? It was difficult but he managed to stay out of trouble.
Around town, trouble seemed to haunt him. Usually he sat by himself, away from groups, just watching others and studying their mannerisms for future roles. One night he drifted into a small bar located just off the main part of town. He was sitting quietly on a stool sipping a margarita and listening to country songs. The band was good but not great. There was a change in rhythm and intensity when a lady with a bass guitar took charge. She was good. Phillip was impressed as her fingers danced across the strings and the music came alive. After a series of songs she stopped and beckoned to Phillip.
“I need a drink,” she said into the microphone. She leaned her guitar against the wall and out of harm’s way. “Are you going to buy this girl a drink?’ she asked as she sidled up to Phillip. Her gray eyes watched closely, measuring his slightest reaction.
“My pleasure,” he replied. “Bartender, give the lady whatever she’s been drinking. Just put it on my tab.”
He stood up and scooted his chair towards her. “Have a seat and rest your weary bones.”
It was evident to Phillip that men rarely treated her like a lady. She blushed and said, “I’m Kristine. I’m glad to meet you.”
Phillip got up slowly, extended his hand, and said dramatically, “I’m the Lone Wolfe, the only one fortunate enough to meet a beautiful lady like you.”
The bar was crowded and the room was warm. There were only a handful of women and the men were frustrated and growing meaner by the minute.
“It’s hot in here,” she announced. “I need cool air.” She fanned herself for effect and then started towards the door. Glancing at Phillip she asked, “Well, are you coming or not?”
The situation was strange and Phillip knew instinctively that something was wrong. The hair on the back of his neck had risen. Still, he was curious if this was a set-up.
“Of course, darling. It’s cool outside and the moon is full and beautiful. It’s something to howl about.”
“You’re just too funny,” Kristine said. “Now tell me who you are and what brings you here tonight.”
“Phillip. That’s my name. I just wanted to hear a good band and relax. It was a bonus when I saw you.”
She led him to the parking lot before she said quietly, “I think you’re a narc. We don’t like troublemakers around here.” She wouldn’t be alone and confronting him like that.
A slight sound caught Phillip’s attention. “I think we have company.”
In the shadows several men hurried towards them. Phillip mentally noted five men, all large and muscular.
Kristine moved away from him. “Goodbye, stranger. You should have stayed in the country.”
Phillip moved swiftly at the edge of moonlight, becoming both shadow and reflection. Phillip knocked the first two down easily with jabs to their throats. He was too fast and elusive. “Is this a ghost we’re trying to catch?” one man panted. He circled them, attacked, and destroyed their confidence. In short order he left them huddled in the middle of the parking lot, whimpering and shivering.
Phillip strolled through the door and sat down. He ordered a drink. Kristine stared at him in surprise.
Phillip raised his glass. “Here’s to you. When your friends recover tell them that not everyone is a pushover.”
Phillip’s reputation as a fighter led him to new roles. Before long he had several roles in martial arts films playing alongside Buck Morris and Mackie Shan.
I don’t think I’ll open any mail, answer the phone, or communicate with anyone, especially if it’s a relative. My house is full of relatives and I’m up to my ears with trouble. I think I’ll move. Don’t tell anyone. Perhaps this time I can stay hidden for awhile.
From the Tehachapi Mountains into the valley I drove at a steady but cautious pace because I was both excited and tired from the long journey. I was determined to remain positive as I passed brown sun-baked grass and dried up orchards. Town after town flew by, few of them thriving or prospering, and it shook my confidence.
What did I have to look forward to? I remembered the words of my brother. “There will be no rent . Just take care of the place. Everything is in tip-top shape. You won’t need anything.” Those promises were comforting as I prepared to collapse and relax when I finally stopped in the drive-way of my new home.
I had already inspected the house and grounds so when the moving van arrived, workers I had hired were ready to unload. Everything I had was unloaded with care in the hopes nothing was broken there.
While furniture was set up in designated locations I mused over discrepancies in what I expected and what was reality. The house was not in good shape. The exterior had recently been painted blue and looked nice but the interior needed some repair. The bathrooms were my biggest concern because minerals in the water had corroded the copper lines and the shower heads were plugged. The toilets were so rusted out they needed to be replaced. Throughout the house major cleaning was necessary along with minor repairs.
Outside, the yard was enormous and green. Then I saw the fruit trees and stared openmouthed. “This is a Garden of Eden!” I stated emphatically. There were peaches, nectarines, pomegranates, persimmons, oranges, grapes, pears, figs, and more. I thought, “This is where I can begin a new life.”
With over three acres of orchard and lawn the house had to have a name. “Green Acres” was a fitting name because I was from the city learning country life over again. It would be like the TV series and it would be fun.
During the first week I celebrated each time I emptied a box and put its contents away. The pile of empty boxes grew taller until one day I flattened them out and took them to the recycling center. I was trying to do my part in the recycling effort.
I planted a garden in my spare time. Hot days, warm nights and water brought rapid growth. Tomatoes, peppers, squash, cantaloupe, pumpkin, and watermelon were soon thriving. I eventually got a bumper crop of tomatoes but the rest of the produce? The rabbits and ground squirrels had their way. But that’s another story or two.