Kitty Goes to War Page 33

I considered laying it all out anyway. But I imagined Stafford could do worse than serve me with a libel suit. And I worried that he would take it out on Tyler and Walters. So I played nice. I really wanted to run the interview because it had some good stuff in it. Not only about lycanthropy and coping with being a werewolf under awful circumstances, but about the experience of being a soldier and trying to come home.

Tyler explained, “Everybody tells you coming home is tough—you don’t expect it to be easy. But you’re still not ready for it. You think you can handle it. But it’s like your mind is still back there. Your body is here, but you can’t stop thinking about what happened there, the things you saw, what you did. And nobody here really gets it. You try to fit in, but you get this feeling you’re never going to fit in again. So why bother trying? You put being a werewolf on top of that—it’s like I’m living in a different world. How am I supposed to deal with that? You keep asking me what I want to do—but I can’t imagine what I’m going to do next week much less any kind of future.”

Even though I couldn’t run the edited interview, Tyler and Walters gave me the idea to anchor the rest of the show. The opening and theme song—CCR’s “Bad Moon Rising”—ran, and I dove right in.

“Tonight, it’s the werewolf help line: if you’re a werewolf, or know a werewolf, what’s your story? Any problems you want to talk about, advice you want to share, tonight’s your night. You see, I met a couple of folks this week, werewolves who need help and who are trying to find their feet, and I want them to hear how we do it in these parts, and that it is possible to survive. They may not be listening, but just in case they are, this show’s for them.” I hoped they were listening. I asked Shumacher to give them a radio, Internet access for the streaming version, anything.

“First caller, you’re on the air.”

“Hi, Kitty, thanks so much for taking my call, I’ve been listening to you since forever.”

“Thank you. What’s your question?” The monitor said this was Mark from Los Angeles. Nothing in his voice sounded funky.

“Okay, so, I’m a werewolf. And I’m not really part of a pack, but I know some other werewolves in the area and we try to look out for each other, you know?”

“That’s great,” I said. “The world would be a better place if we looked out for each other a little more. Go on.”

“I wanted to ask you about a problem—well, it’s not really a problem yet, but I always worry about it. It makes me crazy sometimes, worrying about it. Like, what if it’s a full moon night and I can’t get out of the city to shape-shift and hunt? So far I’ve managed it, but what if I can’t someday? I have nightmares about getting stuck in a traffic jam, and shifting in my car. Or just losing it before I can get to open space. Am I worrying for nothing? Is there something I can do to keep this from happening? What if it does happen?”

I could hear his anxiety, and an undertone of embarrassment, as if he thought no one else worried about this kind of thing. I tried to reassure him. “It’s a legitimate concern. Especially living in a big urban area—you never know what’s going to happen. But you can take precautions, like giving yourself plenty of time to get out of town.”

“But what if you get stuck? People must get stuck sometimes. What do you do? Have you ever gotten stuck?”

I had, but only because of events totally outside my control. I wasn’t going to bring up those messes. “I’ve never been in a situation I couldn’t handle. The problem with getting stuck is, our wolf sides really want to get out and run. So while you could lock yourself in your house, werewolves are pretty good about breaking out, even scratching through doors and breaking windows. You need a really solid room or cage to prevent that from happening. I know that some werewolves have built cages in their houses for just such emergencies, if they’re close to shifting and don’t have time to get into the wild. Another thing that helps is having fresh meat on hand. If the werewolf has a big juicy rump roast to gnaw on, he calms down and stays put. Does any of this advice sound useful, Mark?”

“Yeah… yeah. It makes sense.”

“Having coping strategies in place can reduce a lot of anxiety.”

“Yeah, I can see that. I may never use a cage in the basement, but just knowing it’s there would help. Thanks, Kitty.”

“And thanks for your call. If any of my listeners out there have other good coping strategies, I’d love to hear about it. Next caller, please.” I shifted in my swivel chair and leaned toward the mic.

“Hello, yes. Oh my gosh, am I really on?”

“Yes, you’re really on,” I said, amused. “What’s your question?”

“Um, well. Do you have any advice about telling your family that you’re a werewolf? It’s not something that ever comes up in regular conversation. And, well, I just don’t know how to bring it up with my parents.”

“I get this question pretty often. There isn’t a good, right answer because everyone’s situation is different. Have you been a werewolf for a while, or is this a recent thing?”

“Oh, it’s been a couple of years. But that’s just it. I’m finally comfortable with it, I think. And it feels awful keeping this big secret from my family. It’s eating me up. But I’m scared to tell them, I don’t know how they’ll react.”

“Here’s the advice I usually give: truth isn’t always the best policy in cases like this, if it’s likely to upset your family and they wouldn’t understand. But you might consider that they’ve already guessed that something’s going on, and they might be worried about you. If that’s the situation, it might actually be a relief for them to hear the truth.”

“That’s it!” she said. “That’s it exactly. My mom’s been asking all these questions, and I have to keep dodging. She must think I’m on drugs or something.”

“And next to that how bad is being a werewolf? If you do decide to tell your family, you might also give them as much information as you can, like copies of magazine articles, or even my own book, Underneath the Skin.” Shameless plugs never hurt anyone

“Okay. I’ll have to think about it. But cool. That helps.”

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