ONLINE RESEARCH was a mixed bag. I found the most insane conspiracy theories, essays, and propositions, which I could then use to incite heated debate on my radio show. Not just flat earth but cubed
earth, or strawberry-ice-cream-eating aliens living at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, or a pseudoscientific study claiming that vampire strippers make more in tips than mortal strippers because of their hypnotic powers. (Vampire strippers? Really? And could I get one on the show for an interview?) Or I could click through useless links for hours and feel like I’ve wasted a day.
Sometimes, I typed in my search request and found treasure.
The image currently on my screen was a photograph of a statue called the Capitoline Wolf
. The sculpture showed a rather primitive-looking wolf with stylized, patterned fur; a glaring, snarling expression; and a couple of human babies suckling at rows of impressively bulging nipples. Housed in a museum in Rome, the age of the wolf portion of the statue was under some debate. Historically, it had been assumed that it was old—pre-Roman, Etruscan even, because of its stocky shape and decidedly nonclassical features. Roman writers even made reference to a famous statue of a wolf that symbolized the founding of Rome. But modern dating techniques established the statue’s origin in the late medieval period. The babies—fat and cherubic, in Renaissance detail—had obviously been added later, in the fifteenth century. Wherever it came from, whenever it was made, the statue depicted the legend of the founding of Rome: the she-wolf who discovered the abandoned brothers, Romulus and Remus, and saved their lives. They went on to found the great city of Rome. The statue was so iconic that copies of it could be found all over the world.
That was the official, published, accepted story of the Capitoline Wolf.
However, I had my own ideas. Other details about the statue intrigued me. For example, the wolf wasn’t life size, but it was a bit larger than a female wolf living in that part of the world would be. An average female wolf would weigh about seventy-five pounds, give or take ten pounds. A wolf the size of this statue might weigh, oh, a hundred-ten pounds or so. The weight of a small woman.
Shape-shifters obeyed the law of conservation of mass. A two-hundred-pound man becomes a two-hundred-pound wolf. Hundred-and-thirty-pound me becomes a hundred-thirty-pound wolf. A two-hundred-pound were-bear becomes—a really small bear. I’d never actually seen a were-bear in bear form, so I didn’t know what that looked like. Whether I wanted
to see what that looked like depended on the temperament of the bear. When I read about the Capitoline Wolf,
learned about the dimensions of the statue, made a mental comparison to the werewolves I’d met in both human and wolf form, my heart beat a little quicker. My journalistic instincts
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