Robby and one of his best friends, Paul Wilkins, were doing their homework in Robby's room. Since he had the same first name as Paul Wilson, Hary's boyfriend Robby had started calling him Wil and now everybody called him that. Robby thought briefly of his little brother Teddy, he was usually home by this time, since it was almost four thirty. Lately he had been walking home with the Ronson twins. They were in his first grade class at school and he often stayed over at their house to play for a while.
Normally both Robby and Wil would have left their homework till the end of the weekend. Wil was spending the entire weekend and he would be going to school directly from Robby's house on Monday morning, so they wanted to get it out of the way. That way they wouldn't have to do it on Sunday.
Gary Wilson, who was also one of Robby's best friends, would have joined them, but his Aunt was having a baby and his mother was babysitting her other children. Since it was a large brood, there being six of them, she had told Gary that she would give him twenty dollars if he would help her with the kids, for the weekend. Gary being a capitalist through and through, had agreed instantly, even though he regretted missing the sleepover.
Both Robby and Wil, though not as interested in money as Gary, had agreed that he couldn't miss out on that opportunity. Eleven-year-olds didn't often have the opportunity to make twenty dollars in one weekend. Robby occasionally babysat for his younger brother Teddy. It was never for more than a few hours and he didn't get paid. He had no interest in babysitting somebody else's kids, the very idea made him shudder.
Mrs. Peters, who was a cousin, generally came in after school and she was actually Teddy's babysitter. Robby's mother knew that he needed to do his homework after school and couldn't do that and babysit Teddy at the same time. She also made supper for the boys, Robby's culinary talents being nonexistent. He was all right when just heating things in the microwave, but anything that had to do with using the stove threw him for a loop.
The boys heard the phone ring and after a few moments Mrs. Peters, called from downstairs, “Robby, trouble!”
There was urgency in Mrs. Peters' voice and the boys ran downstairs. She told him, “That was Mrs. Ronson on the phone, she said the twins and Teddy were outside playing hide and seek. She called them in for some milk and cookies and the twins said that Teddy disappeared, but they were so distracted by the puppy that they found, that they forgot all about Teddy. They said the puppy had white fur and blue eyes.”
Robby said with alarm, “Oh, oh. He's six and a half and he's finally started learning how to control his changes. He was probably hiding and knowing Teddy he would have thought that changing would be the perfect way to hide. That's how you begin to control the change, you wish to be a puppy, concentrating very hard and then suddenly you are. He loves playing with kids as a puppy so he probably didn't even realize what he had done. Changing into a puppy is one thing, but to change back, you need some coaching from an older werewolf to help you. So when he tried to change back and couldn't, he probably panicked.”
Robby said thoughtfully, “The Ronsons only live a quarter of a mile from here, but in puppy form, Teddy's never been anywhere alone, except for our back yard. There's all kinds of scents around, but Teddy is most familiar with mine, so he probably followed it. Since he's not barking at the door, he probably headed back towards the school.”
Mrs. Peters said, “I can't get in touch with your mother, she's in court and she thought it would be at least six or six-thirty before she finished her testimony. She was pretty annoyed with Judge Kaufman. She said that he's scheduled for his vacation beginning at the end of next week, so he's been keeping court in session late, trying to make sure this case is over by then. Paul has the annual examination by the auditors at the bank so he can't get away either. I'll call Ted and have him look around, but I think you should go over to Mrs. Ronson's and see if you can find his scent. I'll stay here, in case he ends up finding his way home.
She pointed at Wil, saying, “I'd let Wil do it but Teddy still doesn't know him well enough yet and he might not trust him.” she took a cell phone out of her pocket. “Here, take my phone. If you find him or can't find him quickly, give me a call and I'll have to get in touch with your mother and see if she can get away from court.”
Robby said, calmly but underlying anxiety was apparent in his voice. “Come on, Wil, you're about to walk a dog. Mrs. Peters' brother, is the Animal Control officer in town, which makes it handy for us werewolves, but there's no knowing where we'll have to go, so it's a good idea, to have a leash and collar. And here they are.”
He handed a fancy leash and collar to Wil. Robby gave a little grin despite the gravity of the situation, as he said, "If you've got an expensive leash and collar, they don't bother to look at the tags to see if one's a license. Don't buckle the collar too tight, I hate tight collars. I'll lead the way and don't worry, I won't take off on you.” Robby also packed some of Teddy's clothes and a couple of towels in a backpack and handed that to Wil.
At the Ronson's Robby easily found Teddy's human scent. As he had figured Teddy had finally learned how to change, since he found his puppy scent as well, which was completely different. He followed it and indeed, it headed for the school, but it turned off at a point, where a few days before Robby, had gone into the bushes, having to pee too badly to wait until he got home.
To Robby, where he had stopped to pee, still very fresh, was the smell of urine, for werewolves it lingered for a considerable length of time. At one time, like dogs and wolves, they had used urine to mark their territory, though in wolf form, not in human form.
Teddy had contributed his urine to the scent and then had gone deeper into the woods. It was quite a substantial wooded area. It was over a mile before you came to open land and the first farms. Teddy's scent was fresh, only a few minutes old, but soon it was joined by the scent of three boys.
The scent was familiar to Robby, so they were from this area, but it wasn't any of the boys that he knew by sight and he was worried because Teddy's scent had taken on a definite fear tinge. He moved much faster, the scents were so fresh that he knew he wouldn't lose it now. Wil hurried, realizing that Robby was anxious for some reason.
They soon came to a clearing, Robby stopped at the edge and lay down and Wil crouched beside him. Robby was furious at what he saw and he was finding it hard to control his instincts. There were three boys in the clearing and Robby recognized them all from school. Nolan Armstead, was his age, but was only in fifth grade having failed a year and he was bigger than Robby, a couple of inches taller and ten pounds heavier. He was accompanied by two smaller boys, Ricky Anders and David Simpson both nine and they had Teddy tied up.
Not just with a rope around his neck, but they had his legs tied together and a belt around his jaws like a muzzle and they were laughing and joking around, while Teddy whined miserably. Robby growled, very low and then backed away, Wil followed him.
Robby changed back into a boy, he was shaking with anger and Wil stepped back when he looked into his eyes, even knowing that the rage wasn't directed at him. Robby took a dozen deep breaths. He unbuckled the collar from around his neck and handed it to Wil, who put it and the leash in his pocket.
Robby took the cell phone out of his pocket, his hands still shaking slightly. He dialed his home number and when Mrs. Peters answered, he spoke quietly, but his voice frightened Wil even more than his obvious anger had done. “Mrs. Peters, I've found Teddy. Three boys have him and they've got him all trussed up.”
“Is he all right, Robby?” she asked anxiously.
Robby nodded, saying, “Yes, they haven't done anything to him yet, aside from tying him up, but the way they act they were going to. One of them is Nolan Armstead and I'll see how he likes being a bully after I get through with him. The others are Ricky Anders and David Simpson. I know the parents of both of them believe in corporal punishment. I'm going to give them each the choice of accepting a dozen strokes from a switch or being turned over to their parents.”
“Robby.” Mrs. Peters said.
“Yes, Mrs. Peters.” asked Robby.
She said earnestly, “Control your anger. Hitting in the stomach, is easier on the hands and don't kick him in the nuts too hard, you don't want to cause any permanent damage!”
Robby giggled, he couldn't help it and some of his anger dissipated. He told her, “Okay, Mrs. Peters, just one and I didn't intend to use my fists anyway, slaps will hurt almost as much and be more humiliating, yet won't cause as much damage.”
She said approvingly, “Good, you're thinking. As for Ricky and David, I've been a babysitter to both. Tell them from me, that they'd better accept the punishment that you offer them. They've never seen their parents as mad as this would make them. Have fun.”
Robby had held the cell phone so that Wil, who heard the conversation, said with a little wonder, “Are all werewolves as bloody minded as you two are?”
Robby laughed again, relaxing a little more. He said gravely, “Wil, animal instincts aren't that far beneath the surface for human beings, for werewolves it's even closer. For most of our history, we have been outside the bounds of the law. We lived by the old Biblical saying, 'An eye for an eye' for thousands of years. We have become more civilized in the more recent past, but in some respects we are still outside human law.” He looked at Wil, consideringly; there was no censure in those large brown eyes. He trusted Wil, more than he had ever trusted anyone except for his parents.
Robby took a big risk. He said soberly, “Perhaps you should know this about me, I have killed, Wil. The child molester they found dead last Halloween attributed to a dog attack, that was me. I stood looking down at him and I felt no regret, no remorse, for what I did. He was getting away with something despicable. When he kidnapped Teddy and me, I decided to go by Werewolf Law, rather than human law and I ended his life. If I find myself in similar circumstances, I undoubtedly will do the same.”
There was still no censure in those brown eyes and Robby knew their friendship had withstood the ultimate test. Wil said, “Gypsys have been outcasts for many years as well, we too have been outside the law of other humans and we too have evolved our own laws which we follow, how could I blame you for doing the same?”
When Robby and Wil walked into the clearing, Nolan came to his feet and Ricky and David got up ready to run. Robby pointed at them, saying sternly, “I know you from school. If you run I'll tell your parents and Mrs. Peters told me that if they hear about this, you've never seen them as mad as you'll see them this time.”
There was fear on their face, but Robby felt no sympathy as David, slightly younger, lost control of his bladder and wet his pants. Wil went over to Teddy and began untying him.
Robby walked up to Nolan and from a distance of eighteen inches stared at the slightly larger boy. Nolan was sweating and there was fear in his eyes. He was mesmerized. Realizing that Nolan wasn't going to do anything, Robby slapped him. Nolan still didn't move, so Robby slapped him with the other hand. Nolan just stood there staring at the ground.
Robby looked at him with disgust. He knew Nolan had been in plenty of fights, but they had always been with much smaller boys. Obviously he didn't intend to move, counting on Robby's reputation, of not getting involved in fights and hoping that was the extent of what would happen to him.
Under normal circumstances, he would have been right. Robby would just have let him go, but these weren't normal circumstances. Nolan had at least frightened his very much loved younger brother and had obviously planned on doing much more. Carefully, judging the force behind the blow, Robby kicked Nolan in the balls. With a squeal of pain, Nolan went to his knees, holding his groin.
Ignoring the bully, Robby moved toward the younger boys. Afraid, they moved closer together. Robby stood looking at them, staring at them out of angry green eyes. They began fidgeting and then trembling under his glare. He said softly, “Don't worry I don't intend to beat you up.”
He let them relax for a moment and then hit them hard with his voice, “I intend to do much, much worse.”
The two little boys looked at each with fear, then Ricky finally gathered up the nerve to ask the question. “Worse?” he asked in a trembling voice.
Robby told them harshly, “You're better than he is, He's basically a bully and a coward. I gave him a kick in the nuts. In a little while, he'll feel well enough to get up and go home. In a couple hours, there'll only be a little soreness to remind him. You're a couple of nice little kids who did something stupid. You got involved with a bully and you did something very cruel. I know both of your brothers; one's in my class and the other was on my Little League team. They wouldn't approve of what you did and were planning to do, would they?”
The two boys shook their heads. Robby told them, “All right, I've got a proposal for you, which leaves your parents out of it completely. I give you each a dozen strokes on your bare bottoms with a switch, for a start.”
“For a start?” gulped David.
Robby said solemnly, “As I said I know your brothers and I know you both share a room with them. I know that the punishment system is set up the same way in both homes. Not surprising since your mothers are cousins. Therefore, I know your brothers are allowed to give you a slippering if they think you deserve it. Up to a dozen on your bare bottom with a soft soled slipper. True?”
The two little boys looked at each other apprehensively, then nodded. Robby told them, “Well if you agree to the first part, I intend to talk to your brothers and suggest you get a dozen on at least two occasions over the next couple of weeks. That way you get a reminder and it stays between your brothers, Wil and I and you. Any other way and I go to your parents and I know that not only will you get a whipping, but you'll get grounded as well.”
Robby said seriously, “Oh one more thing,” and he put his finger on Ricky's nose. “I know you saw David wet his pants. Well I imagine you were pretty close to doing the same thing. Your brother says you sometimes have a big mouth and you might casually say that you saw him do it, not mentioning where it happened. However your brother also said, despite your occasional big mouth, you can keep secrets. Consider this a secret.”
head jerked up and down in a nod. Robby said, “You have until Mr.
Bully over there leaves, to decide.” He strolled away and left them
to talk it over.
With Nolan gone, Robby looked at the two little boys and reluctantly they nodded. Robby took out his pocketknife and handed it to Ricky. “Go pick out a couple of switches.” The two boys began looking and after a few minutes returned with two of them. Robby made them peel them as well.
Half an hour later, the two little boys were heading for home with sore bottoms and crying a little. Robby hadn't hit very hard and he knew that the slipperings that they would receive from their irate brothers over the next two weeks would be much worse.
Teddy, who had been watching from the sidelines, began frisking around Robby and Wil, yapping his satisfaction. Robby looked down at him and said, “Now, let's see if we get you turned back into a boy.”
He changed into wolf form and immediately Teddy began saying, *Robby, being able to change is nice, but I want to be able to do it both ways. How do I do it?*
Robby told him gravely, *When you change into a wolf, you just have to wish for it to happen and that helps you to concentrate and makes it easy. To change back into a human is much harder. You can't just wish for it to happen, you have to concentrate hard, especially the first time, after that each time you change it gets easier and easier.*
Robby told him sternly, *Now, lie down, it's impossible when you're running around! Good! Now think of yourself as a boy. I know it's hard at your age, but try!*
It took almost twenty minutes, with Robby giving constant instructions and encouragement, before Teddy finally changed back into a boy. He was wringing wet from sweat, as Robby knew he would be, remembering his own first change. He stripped him down and toweled him vigorously before dressing him again in the clothes he had brought.
In Robby's arms Teddy stared into his older brother's eyes his own eyes shining with pride. “Gee, Robby I finally managed to change. It's, it's.” he fell silent, his six year old mind not able to think of words that would be adequate.
“Yeah, I know, it's awesome little brother.” Robby said hugging Teddy.
“I'm glad you punished those boys. They were mean. Robby,” Teddy asked, “Would you ever do that to me?”
Robby stared at the little boy in his arms, green eyes on blue. “Do you think they deserved it?” he asked.
Teddy nodded vigorously, “Yes, they did.”
Robby asked, “If you did something like they did, would you deserve to be punished?” Teddy thought about it for a few minutes, then reluctantly nodded his head. Robby said with amusement, “Then if I were in charge of you, I would punish you and in fact if you think about it, when I've been in charge of you, I have punished you. Last week when I sat with you for the evening and you were bad, I turned off the television and wouldn't let you watch the video we rented.”
He said seriously, “But their parents punish them physically, so that's what they understand. I don't know if it's right or wrong, but that's the way it is. Mom doesn't believe in corporal punishment, so the punishment for you is different. I would probably take away your television privileges like I did last week or your video games or not allow you to play with the Ronson twins for a while, something you really like doing.”
“I swat you on the bottom at times, but that's just to show that I love you, just like when I tickle you, or wrestle with you. Do you understand?” Robby asked.
“Yes,” Teddy nodded and then very shyly, almost in a whisper, “Robby, I love you a whole lot too.”
Robby nodded hugging Teddy a little more tightly for a moment, then saying solemnly, “Okay, lets go home and the next few times you want to change make sure there's an older werewolf around to help you change back and I'm definitely not going to carry you home, so you'll have to walk. You weigh more than half of what I do and I don't have the strength to carry you for long. So down boy, down.”
Robby let him down to the ground and taking him by the hand and putting his arm around Wil's shoulders, he said, “Mission accomplished. Let's go home.
Robby said, “Okay, Eric, I'm glad you agree, I suggested one other thing to Jerry that I didn't think to mention to your brother. Forbid David to see Nolan. You agree? Good! Bye, see you tomorrow in class.” He hung up the phone and looked at his Mother and Wil, Teddy being in bed. “They both agree, but I'm afraid David's in for a much rougher time than Ricky.”
“Oh, why?” asked Hary.
He said soberly, “Oh, I didn't know it, but their dog died just six months ago. They've been thinking of getting a new one. If their parents had found out what David did, there's no way they would have gotten another, so he's not very happy with David at the moment. I think David's going to have a sore bottom a few times over the next couple of weeks.”