Kitty Goes to War Page 34

“Good luck to you. Now, moving on.” I was trying to pick relevant calls, questions that would help Tyler and Walters with situations they might run into, answers that would help them cope. So far so good. I hoped they were listening.

“Hi, I have a question about getting along with other werewolves and things?”

“All right, bring it on.”

“I’ve got this situation, I’ve never heard of anything like it. It must be kind of strange, but it seems to be working out.” He was male, young sounding. Either inexperienced or embarrassed—a true-confessions kind of call.

“What’s going on?” I said.

“Okay, so I’m a werewolf. And I met this girl—she’s a were-tiger. How cool is that?”

“That’s pretty cool.”

“We decided to move in with this other couple—they’re were-leopards.”

“What was that line about dogs and cats, living together? Sounds a little wild, literally. You all get along?”

“Yeah, we seem to. We all go out on full-moon nights together. And I bring along my friends—a couple of werewolves. We’re not a pack or anything, it just works out.”

“Well, that’s just great,” I said, wondering what the real story was, because I didn’t get happy stories like this too often. “So what’s your question?”

“Is there a name for something like this? You know—werewolves have packs. Were-lions have prides. But what are we? My girlfriend wants to call us a collective, but that doesn’t sound cool enough.”

“Collective or a zoo?” I said.

“Come on, there’s got to be some kind of technical term.”

“How about ‘roommates.’ Why make it any more complicated? Let’s take another call.”

I clicked the line on as I greeted the next caller. Instead of the usual enthusiastic answer, I got a deep sigh, and I braced for the heavy-duty confession that would inevitably follow. People only sighed like that when they had real problems and no one else to talk to. It was difficult, but it was also the reason I’d started the show in the first place—so people like this would have someone to talk to.

“Hi, Kitty,” he said. “I’m not even sure why I called. I just… I just have to tell someone what happened.”

“That’s what I’m here for. Just take your time.” I tried to sound comforting and authoritative. It was all an act, but it seemed to fool people—they kept asking me for advice. One of these days, everyone was going to see right through it.

“I want to talk about my brother,” he said, speaking quickly, as though he wanted to get it out before he changed his mind. “He was a park ranger and was attacked by a werewolf while working in the back country. He killed himself a few months later. He couldn’t live with it, he couldn’t stand it, so he found a silver bullet and shot himself.”

I closed my eyes and rubbed my forehead against a sudden headache. I hated this. I wanted to reach out and hug him, but I also wanted to scream. At least radio—the microphone—gave me a shield. A mask to hide behind.

“I’m so sorry,” I said. “That’s very difficult.” I sounded so trite.

“I keep wondering—could he have gotten help? Is there anything I could have done to help him? Did he have an alternative?”

I tried to sound professional, as if I had the ability—or even the right—to serve as someone’s therapist. “I’m guessing that since he was attacked in the wild, he was never brought into a pack. He didn’t have anyone to tell him what had happened to him or help him adjust. In my experience, it’s difficult for someone like that to recover and achieve any kind of stability. Sometimes they do, or sometimes they run away. I don’t know if anyone could have helped your brother. There isn’t a standard procedure for this. He must have felt very alone.” That was what happened—you felt alone, lost, paranoid, helpless. The rage and violence followed.

My caller said, “I’m the only person he ever told about what had happened. And I’m glad he told me, because at least I know why. At least it makes a little bit of sense. I try to tell myself it’s better this way. He was so afraid of hurting someone. Isn’t this better than him hurting someone?”

It must have seemed like the responsible thing to do. He must have thought he was saving more than he was losing. I imagined all that despair. It made me think of Tyler and Walters, lurking in their hospital room.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I like to think there’s always a choice. I can’t put myself in your brother’s shoes. But you’re right, he probably didn’t see any other way out.”

“I wish… I just want anyone who’s listening to your show, anyone who’s thinking they don’t have another way out, who thinks that’s a solution—try to get help. Try to find someone, anyone, to help. Don’t give up. Because me—my family—we’ll never be the same. I don’t know that he thought about that.” I didn’t know how he could say all this without sobbing.

“Thank you very much for calling. And again, I’m so sorry. Good luck to you and your family.”

He clicked off without saying good-bye. I wasn’t surprised. I hoped he’d gotten some comfort out of sharing the story and his grief.

“All right, let’s take a break for station ID, and I’ll take more calls when we get back to The Midnight Hour.” I looked at Matt through the booth window. He nodded—he’d already cued up the announcements. He must have known what was going through my mind. I pulled off my headphones and scratched my scalp. I still had half the show to get through, and I had to get back to being positive.

Somehow, I managed.

Chapter 14

TWO DAYS before the next full moon, I met with Dr. Shumacher to discuss her patients. She sat behind her desk, looking harried, her hair slipping from its bun, gray shadows under her eyes. She kept glancing at the pages on her clipboard as if they would start speaking, telling her what to do.

“Tuesday’s full-moon night,” I said. I sat across from her, staring her down, playing a dominance game and putting her on edge. “I’d like to give them the chance to get out, with my pack.”

She blinked at me. “Do you really think they’re ready for that?”

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