Okay, from the top then, right? My name is Hans Mikloff and I was raised by wolves. So I’m like an orphan, yeah, or something never knew my parents you know, okay? I didn’t meet my first human I think until maybe like when I was five or something I’m not sure now maybe I was even older like seven even perhaps maybe but but here’s what those first people who met me when I met them the humans I mean the first time told me about my life until that point; I’m sorry I did mean to say up to that point, yeah? I was meaning to have the meaning be focused on a past tense meaning of the word. Okay-right-o so up until that point of my life the combination assimilation amalgamation maybe really hits the whole combo, you know what I’m saying and so I am no way concerned disquieted worried or troubled now you could and even should tell me ne t’inquiete pas because I’m not, I’m good, I’m cool, chill, I’m good, you get me so I’m good we’re good, to say what I mean to say in the descriptive sense of bringing to up the now what was then then but is no longer then as it is very much now now.

I was born in the Black Hills. I was born somewhere in the Black Hills. I was born somewhere in the Black Hills which do happen to not be an island unto themselves meaning they, which being physical space means they likewise occupy space within time, are physically located in the United States of America state of South Dakota but I remember when I was like maybe five, probably sometime near when the humans found me, and dude listen this is my first memory, okay? Yeah? Okay, do you understand the meaning of the deep reach? I am going back way back here. To the recesses of my memory bank here and there is times I’s done think that do I’s remember these thingses as an actual experiential reality or am I filling in gaps created naturally by second hand witnesses to these things meaning not me but those telling, recalling, recollecting even like recolting maize en le sud de France, toujours et tous les temps, these things in storyform to me might be producing some unintended distortions of my actual lived experience and yet I am remembering the false picture instead of what I really thought at the time the very things I cannot for the life of me know with certainty if I do or do not remember myself?

I do remember Mommis and the pack. I think this is pure. We were out hunting I mean out prowling looking for food the sun was setting and it was just so beautiful and Mommis is howling and so we do too, all of us, even me, and I mean I know the Black Hills are in South Dakota now but then it was like this is all of existence, you know? Like head that direction and fall off the face of the earth eventua—

“If I can stop you for a moment,” the man in the suit with the glasses and the notepad says. “Mommis? Who is that?”

“The Alpha Female, the Mom. She was like my mom for my early years, okay, yeah?”

“How did you know to call her that? Was this some type of language you and the pack held in common? Did they teach you this?”

I laugh. “No, dude, what are you talking about? I can’t talk to wolves. I’m a person.”

“Yes,” the man says, writing something down and clearing his throat. “But you just said you did not have any human contact until anywhere from five to seven years old. Correct?”

I nod. I spit. A beautiful brown stream of tobacco juice into a practically empty can of Billy Bubble Cola. The coke is brown and so too the dip juice. Imagine drinking that mix, not knowing where the coke begins and where the tobacco ends, and vice versa, not knowing because you had forgotten that this quarter of Billy Bubble was not in fact 100% soda but a consolidation of two things don’t mix, chile. Kinda like the time me and the boys were out by the shallow creek swimming in the summer sun and Bill-William’s momma had packed us all lunches with 12oz. apple juice bottles; for every erdy erdda-buddy everybody. I had finished my apple juice and it finished me and I had to go and there was my empty bottle. Only in hindsight, seeing Bill-William on all fours vomiting while we laughed, did I realize that there were better options than the one I had chosen so impetuously thanks and y’all come back now to internal pressures of the highest necessity.

“Well then,” the man says, “how would you be able to call the Alpha Female ‘Mommis’ if, due to complete isolation from people and language, you had no concept of a ‘mother’ ?”

“I see,” I say. “This is the movie title I gave her later. It’s like, what’s the word, nausea? The overrated book by Jean-Claude Smart my Daddis made me read sometime post-pick up and long past post-renetry humnificated normativeilization. I’ll tell you one thing that guy had right amidst a bunch of total misses though dude, dude, dude, da-dude, dude-bro. You know his whole thing about life sucks because you—the very existentialist I that you, me, and we all are, are, capital R flip it backwards and head to Yekaterinburg I bet my bottom dollar you’ll be hum-singing Ya, Ya, Ya in no time with that one—are always being forced to adapt your realty to a larger reality enforcing its weight upon yours? You know: you want to walk in precisely that exact straight line but cannot and never will be able to because there is a tree blocking your desired route; you’re quite astute so y’all’ruh-dee know ya picked a route where you can keep mute playing an imaginary flute while—whilst, sorry, whilst—imaginary people scoot, croot, boot-scootin shuffle all the long drawn day. But so with the path, the route I mean, the route and the tree you have to cede your reality to the tree; you edit your path, doc, you make way and walk around it and in doing so it is not you that has conquered but you who has been conquered—by the tree. It has assumed primacy as you are a part of its larger reality, not the other way around. This is genius, this little insight I think, because you ever notice how much, I mean yeah, how often, how often celebrities do this to the quote unquote common people they would never dare call that but call them far worse in their icy pride and behind closed doors contempt. Yeah. Yeah watch some kind of TV show were the host slash hostess has a featured segment or something consisting of a bunch of input from the quote unqoutes. Same thing happens every time. The squealing and giddy quote unquotes think they’re the star, think in their fifteen minutes of fame et cetera that people actually care and yet what they usually are is some kind of butt of a joke, or some kind of endtip of a pandering whatever meant only to reinforce this one ironclad rule: the celebrity is the Tree, the quote unquote is you, the everyman. Your only purpose on the show is to serve. You’re not a star, you’re a servant, a pawn in the larger Tree’s big time money making machine raking in more and more while you play the fool; but gladly, and unawares, and for both: but of course just like with the course you’ve set out using only the compass in your hand points, points, points….”

“You had said nausea. You mean nostalgia?”



“Due North!!!!”

“You had said nausea, allow me to repeat. And please, please can we stay on track? You meant to say nostalgia, yes?”

“What’s that?”

“When a person looks back fondly on some memory of the past, cherishes it, might even want to return to that moment or place. It’s an extreme sentimentality, a pleasurably painful longing for the past.”

“You’s didn’t have to define it,” I say. “I wasmess-nin witu, kid.”

The man says nothing.

I nod. “Right. Yes. Yeah, that’s what it’s like with Mommis and the pack. Then, I guess if I’m following your question, then I didn’t like have any idea that her name was Mommis or didn’t even know anything like you said. But I do remember that sunset in the Black Hills— that then it felt like the Black Hills were all the world to be, sea to sea, yeah, if even just you and me could be, to be not to be a bee and gather hone…ee; alone with nothing but the bar…ee…as in zee. You know we’d still a be free…as in nothin, don’t need it, don’t even need the mic-plop, son— and all of us howling.”

“So what happened next, when you met the humans?”

“I don’t remember how I met the humans too well and I mean like in details and that kind of thing. I remember me and the Mommis and the pack howling at the sunset in the Black Hills like really well, you know? But though but meeting the humans it was I don’t know, yeah?, it kind of just happened one day I don’t know, yeah. Maybe I was seven, like I said. So but so but so yeah but anyways these people, yeah, but I think like three or five of them or something found me out there out in the Black Hills and but they made me come into town with them, yeah, and—

“To Rapid City?”

“Yes. And like one of the first things these people did was take me to this big white rock with these huge faces carved into it—

“Mount Rushmore.”

“Yes’i’confess. They like took me there and the guy who must have been the Alpha Male of the pack, this big fat ugly big huge fat guy with I mean like a triple XL water balloon stomach, he sets me in front of the faces and he starts speaking like some type of caveman and like saying while he’s pointing ‘This is you. You man. You no wolf.’ And I’m looking at this guy and getting like super angry, you know? I’m thinking to myself, I’m not an idiot you stupid dumbass—

“That’s what you were thinking? That he’s an idiot and a dumbass?”

“No, c’mon. No, I didn’t know any words then, obviously. C’mon. Be real, yeah? Be deal, yeah? Be the Real McCoy, na-hot surm knock off imitation toy-yeah? You know what I mean. And all though and although although it was just like super humiliating I do remember being like yeah treated that type of way. With maximal driveforce hyper-condescension.”

“I see,” the man says. He is now scribbling furiously. I want to grab the pen out of his fingers and break it in half. How much longer do I have to do this BS?

“How did it make you feel?” he asks.


“Everything. Leaving the Mommis and the pack, transitioning from, from basically a wild animal to a person.”

“I did miss suckling the Mommis for a while.”

The man nods, licking his lips.

I continue. “Yeah, wolf milk is super tasty. I’ve totally ‘transitioned’ as you put it, or however else you want to put it with all your fancy psychiatrist speak and all that. I’ve transitioned now but that’s one of the few leftover vestiges from my time in the wild: this intense craving for wolf milk that I sometimes get. You want to ponder the famished werewolf? Find me at one A.M. hard-hankering for wolf-milk and ready to howl at the moon and brother, you’ll understand desire up and down a streetcar line a couple hundred times over.”

“Let me stop you. Why, if you are capable of speaking like a polished, educated person do you choose not to? Of course I’d remove many of the idiosyncratic expressions you enjoy sprinkling throughout your speech but, nonetheless, the polished framework is readily visible.”

“What, perchance, yeah I do mean dollars to donuts in the fullest possible sense, do you, could you, would you wood could a woodchuck chuck cluck’achuckin’ mean?”

“In that last response you answered, normal, for lack of a better word. Not insane stream of consciousness babbling on with sentences that make no sense, ‘like’ every second word, calling me ‘bro’ or ‘dude.’ ”

“My ready, set, go trafficking in American kitsch and hidden yet obvious old-time movie references, things both annoying and a-economical, nonsense piled on top of itself and always juste pour rire, even if with heavy-plumbed philosophical undercurrents present in spades…you call that polished and educated?”

The man says nothing. He looks at me. He looks down. He scribbles once more.

“I don’t know how to answer that question, bro,” I say. “I feel like that’s a clown question, bro. Every time we have a session you tell me to be myself, to ‘relax,’ let the feelings come out naturally. So I do. How do you want me to talk? Hmm, yes doctor. Quite observant of you to notice what should be an obvious developmental retardation to Broca’s region, the left frontal lobe as you know, the speech center in my brain, in light of the fact that for the first five years of my life I had no contact with humans whatsoever. Putting aside the fact of me having attended college and now holding employment, the very definition of a fully functioning adult, what is even more remarkable is that I can speak at all, considering that the formative years of infancy are critically important to a child acquiring language skills, the brain as sponge, so to speak. Is that what you want dude I mean what do you want? Why do I talk like what I want to I don’t know because I feel like it okay I can do what I want and even you told me to to do that.”

“Fair enough. What happened after contact with the humans?”

“They put me in foster care. You know this. Why are you asking me this?”

“It’s important. This is our final session and I firmly believe in a complete debriefing before deciding that you are free to go. You have passed every test. This is the final step. A long formality, and I apologize, but I do believe this is important. I call it ‘full personality ownership acknowledgement.’ You need to be able to articulate and own your own story. Once you can do that, you’re done. So, please continue.”

I sigh. “I need to take a piss. Can I step out for a second?”

(eleven minutes later)

“They put me,” I start to say before he cuts me off.

“I’m sorry,” he says, putting down his notepad. “It seems I have to answer the call of nature myself.”

“You’re metamorphotransformifying into a wolf?”

He laughs. “No, I, I’ll be right back.”

“I don’t understand. Why do you have go bro if you aren’t playing with the transspecies-metamorphosis a little bit?”

“It’s an expression. I have to go to the bathroom.”

“You have to go wild, then?”



“I’ll be right back,” he says a final time before running off at quite the brisk pace.

(Thirty-two minutes later)

“Back to your question dude, bro, I mean the final step you were saying about what you were saying called full personality ownership acknowledgement. Okay, yeah? Yeah? Okay, so they put me in foster care. As you know, but as I’ll tell you, again for the hundredth time, my father, Daddis, he came and adopted—

“Why do you do that?”


“Add ‘is’ to mom and dad?”

“Why do you wear brown shoes with a black belt? Why do you not know how to tie a tie properly? I was born in the like verifiable wild, remember? Your outfit, especially the red jacket with the yellow dress shirt and yellow pants and the hot pink tie, I mean that looks like shit.”

“Fair enough. Continue.”

“Daddis adopted me when I was ten years old. I was homeschooled until age sixteen whereupon I matriculated into introductory courses at East Southwestern South Northeastern West North American University of the Arts and Logic.”

“Describe ESSNWNAU-AL for me.”

“The school itself or my time there?”

“The latter.”

“Why not just say ‘your time there’?”

“Your time there.”

“Best six years of my life. Wonderful. I don’t know what more to say. I think that sometimes the best things in our lives, those things we hold most dear, are best left alone. Talked about in the fewest words possible, if at all. Sometimes no words will do.”

The man starts scribbling. “Hey, that’s trademarked, you bastard. Don’t try stealing that quote, that ‘thought,’ for your work.”

He laughs. “ESSNWNAU-AL gave you your current career now, yes?”

“Yes. My final project investigated various theories and techniques of job coaching and that’s, of course and you know, that’s now what I do. I’m a job coach.”

“Describe the process. Job coaching. Describe your work.”

“I coach people on how to get a job.”

“More detail.”

“Some loser calls me up. Then starts like baby-back bitching because ‘I’m a failure can’t find work no talent no skills’ that kind of thing wants me to like be his Daddis, or even the Mommis providing the wolf milk, metaphorically speaking you know?, wants me to help him, or her I’m not sexist note that, like make his CV and identify his/her strengths and downplay the weaknesses which believe you me I shit you not there’s plenty to go around usually and then basically hold their little sweet hand as we go job to job until finally some person, a prospective employer, is feeling like ‘I want to pay it forward be a good guy help society and clichés like that’ and give this poor person a job and then they get a job and I’m like a success and I feel like personally rewarded by the whole experience in that these people had like nothing to do beforehand weren’t in no way at all contributing to the workforce or society and I help them go and do that.”

“I sense some condescension in your voice towards your clients.”




“I think there might be some underlying residual anger that still needs to be addressed.”

“Are we done yet?’

“Almost. Let’s try to crack this nut, together, okay?”

“Crack the nut?”

“The anger.”

“Why would you imagine anger as a nut?”

“It’s just an expression.”

“Poor choice, in my opinion.”

“I was sensing some serious condescension towards your clients, that’s all.”


“ ‘No,’ can you elaborate?”

“No means no. Yes means yes. Anything more is, is what—

“Sounds like a religious maxim. Are you religious?”

“How would I be religious? I was raised by wolves, bro.”

“Your father’s not religious? Your adopted father.”

“Daddis? No, he’s not.”

“And you’re not either?’


“Yes, you are religious?

“Yes as in ‘correct,’ that no, no I am not religious.”

Then man nods and writes.

“Do you mind if I change the subject to something totally enveloping just about all my brain synapses right now?” I ask.

The man nods and writes. He has not stopped writing for a while now.

“People,” I say, “are either artists or robots. The latter group is compromised of probably ninety-nine point two to ninety-nine point four percent of our contemporary society. And I mean even, and especially, the ‘artists’ in this group who are anything but and I don’t even think they can be called pseudo-artists or even given slivers of legitimacy by saying they or their works hint at art or is/are/can be/contain seeds of some type or kind/genus of invitation to even the most base level of rudimentary speculation in this general direction. Let’s work it from the top’on down. The highest ‘artists’ amongst the robots—the well paid, well reviewed actors, the popular musicians, the trendy and complex, haha bro complex that always gets me doubled over, writers, et cetera—these are the Prime Posers of the Robotic class. They’re just so so just like I described because they’re always completely enslaved to the whims of the consumerist idiopolis and the puppet masters pulling the strings above, certainly just as vapid as the idiopolis but smart enough—Q.v.: unscrupulous enough?—to exploit the living daylights out of the idiopolis, those all too well known grinning idiots all to happy to fork over all their earnings. It’s such an American form of tit for tat, such a gloriously capitalistic circus of the imbeciles; I mean, Doctor, what I’m saying, I’m saying this: The puppet masters are 100% robot in being of that robotic class of money worshipping slaving day into night to make more money and seeing nothing else and so they could care less that the Prime Posers are 100% ‘artist’ and have no actual talent, they don’t care, not because they don’t like art or whatever, no, they don’t care because sadly enough but true they don’t understand what art is. Do you understand, Doctor? Do you feel me bro, yeah? To say ‘they can’t appreciate real art,’ is false false false false alarm bells and whistles false false false faux pas false dead wrong, dude dude dude. No, they don’t even know that art is real, that art, is. Trying to get a Puppet Master Money Worshipping Robot to understand art is akin to trying to explain string theory to a giraffe. And so, so back to what I was saying: The Puppets don’t care that the Posers have no talent because in the end all that matters is getting paid, and, guess what?, luckily for everyone the idiopolis, in etymological perfection, have as much an understanding of art as the Puppets and the Posers and so are so so crazy happy, even tellement content, to keep forking over the money so long as the usual, normal and banal plots and effects and stock characters or melodies are there and theirs for the taking like the one and same theories behind why what used to be called ‘junk food’ still plays to packed houses night after night; by packed houses I of course mean packed hands to stuffed mouths to heavily backlogged intestinal tracts.”

Then man keeps writing, he has been writing the whole way through, and, without stopping the note taking he asks, “So what is art then? Who is a real artist?”

“This isn’t difficult,” I say. “The true artist is the one who sincerely tries to find and present the truth. That’s it. The greatest fault of the Prime Posers is that they have a veritable minefield of no-go zones. Take religion for example. Now, I’m completely irreligious, an atheist as we’ve just established, so please don’t take why I’m going to say as a defense of religion. I have no interest in defending the matter. But I will say this: why do the Posers, especially those who claim to be religious themselves—this of course always meaning something like what used to be said, ‘spiritual not religious,’ meaning of course ‘I’m a bona fide baby back bitch invertebrate talking about zero backbone baby back extra soft swirled bitch’ who in my heart of hearts believe nada but will say anything to anyone at anytime to try and keep the idiolpolis money forking coming along and if not that then well who doesn’t want to fit in and sometimes in some places you fit in better being even hyper-nominally ‘religious’—never bring a real representation of religion into their works? It’s a no-go zone. It will turn people off which in turn will harm the product—and as robots this is their very essence: production and profit— which in turn will harm the whole raison d’etre. D’accord-Bro, yeah, bro, yeah? They always no-go zone baby back bitch soft pedal everything. ‘Daring comedy’ always has tons of no-go zones; no, we can make fun of this list of people, 1-17, but don’t touch numbers 18 through 22. And so the greatest artistic tragedy of the Posers and the Puppet patrons who fund—and edit!!!—their work is that’s it’s the antithesis of the definition I just gave you. Art is the search for truth and they just give you lies. They will bake lies into lies sprinkling bigger lies onto more lies telling you that this comedian or this artist is avant-garde or, or pick your phrase, but really they’re sold-out slaves to the idiocracy and their Puppet Masters and just keep peddling the latest vapidity for the idiocracy’s own self-demised though wonderfully oblivious cobbled stones onto fiery pits of sulfur auto-demolition.”

“But, Hans,” the man says, no longer scribbling, no longer even holding the notepad. “This— ‘sold-out slaves to the idiocracy and the their Puppet Masters peddling the latest vapidity for the idiocracy’s own self-demise auto-demolition’ as you put it—seems to be a good working definition of ESSNWNAU-AL, no?”

I laugh. It’s a long and hearty laugh and it feels very good because I haven’t laughed like this in a while. “Doctor, you see this apple I’m holding?” (I’m not actually holding an apple) “You see this apple in my left hand? Can you guess what is in my right? An orange, you think? Robot-idiot. It’s a miniature windmill, a figurine. But of course, yes, the apple and the windmill are one and the same, we could definitely paste together a ‘working definition’ as you said of both that would take care of both one and the same.”

“…” (the doctor/man looks genuinely puzzled. He’s even stroking his chin)

“No,” I say, “no, ESSNWNAU-AL and society at large could not be more different. Please, I mean, please tell me that you actually have read Schliemann’s last letter. You have, right, yeah? The whole point of ESSNWNAU-AL is to mimic society’s entire destructive Puppet-Poser-Idiocract edifice but only so as to find a cure. You see, that’s the difference. Puppet-Poser-Idiocract society doesn’t know that it is sick. They are okay keeping relaxed and carrying forward, going on, onto the abyss of self-destruction within a nice vanilla flavored scoop of mental and spiritual degeneration. But we see the cure! We have the cure! We try to help. And how? That you don’t yet see proves your membership in the robotic idiocracy. But here’s how, one final time, doctor: we mime the whole Puppet-Poser-Idiocract method the one difference being that we are consciously creating useless products with the hope, the slim hope, that some idiocract will purchase one of these and, holding it in his hands, perhaps just awake form his slumber and think ‘why did I buy this?,’ and then ‘what am I doing with my life?, because is this useless product a fair representation of my useless life to date within this useless society,?’ and finally, maybe, he or she will begin to search for the road to redemption. That’s it. It goes like that, one at a time until maybe some tipping point can be reached and a vast cure normalized. Because ESSNWNAU-AL is unafraid to speak the truth, and if not to speak it to search for it with insatiable and indefatigable effort, ESSNWNAU-AL is the very cradle of true artists in our modern society.”

“…” (he is stroke-a-loking that chin, now with a writing utsenil).

I check my phone for the time. Too long. Time to papa we papa, papa we up and out, papa we out. “Hey, speaking of job coaching, you know, taking what we had just talked about back there back to a few moments ago, yeah?, I’m meeting a client in less than an hour. Can we wrap this up, please?”

The man exhales. He nods. “Yes. You are free to go, Hans.” He stands up and extends his hand.

I shake it.

“Congratulations. You have completed all your requirements with me. There are some

forms on my desk that you need to sign. You are free to go.”



About the Author

Author of a novel entitled The Holdout, Adelaide Books (2018). The first chapter of another novel, Job Search, published in Eclectica Magazine’s July/August 2017 issue. Short fiction has appeared in Wilderness House Literary Review, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, The Southern Distinctive, PILGRIM, Adelaide Literary Magazine, RumbleFish Press, Five on the Fifth, and on The Short Humour Site. Holder of a PhD in history; academic articles in Religious and Sacred Poetry, North Alabama Historical Review, The Polish Review, and Idaho Magazine with a piece forthcoming in The Catholic Historical Review. Trilingual: English, Polish, French. Played baseball in college, professionally in Europe, and for the Polish National Team.


Photo by 3Dinaani from Pixabay