The wolves among us sure feel confident in themselves, don’t they? Right up to the moment we plunge the butcher knife deep into their guts. They’re always licking their lips and leering at us lustfully when they think we aren’t looking. Either masquerading as people we trust like our fathers or grandmothers, or else forever threatening to huff and to puff and to blow our houses down if they didn’t get their way. Little did they know how good their wolf meat tastes to us after its been thoroughly roasted on a spit. A delicacy not to be missed.
Well, ideally. For they managed to screw up even that small pleasure from time to time. Some wolves never got anything right.
Here’s an example. I once met a wolf who coveted my eyes. Not as a platonic ideal, mind you, but as in, he wanted to rip my eyes out of their sockets and display them over the mantlepiece like some elementary school trophy. He had been like this since the first day I had met him, when I was out in the village gathering flowers. It was pathetic, really, the way he would slobber over my eyes all the time.
He denied it, of course, and tried to sweettalk me out of my suspicions. He would always go on and on about how I had these big blue beautiful sparking eyes and how they blazed with the fixity of diamonds– how I shouldn’t let them go to waste living in a no nothing village like this. That I should go to the big city where my eyes could gaze and be gazed upon, thereby sharing my gifts with the world. It was only then that my eyes could be properly appreciated.
He cared about these things because he was a soft-hearted wolf, he said. He was a kind of patron of the eyes, of all things marvelous. He didn’t want my eyes going to waste here, wherever here was. It was imperative that I escaped the obscurity of the village, he said. It was too constricting and too limiting for a little, talented girl like me.
But, what about the dangers of the woods, I asked him sheepishly. I was already considering the best way to cook him. Maybe with some lemon and some butter, and adding some sriracha for good measure.
He said that although the journey through the woods was a long and arduous one, it was well worth the effort to get to proper civilization. Besides, he knew some short cuts and some other useful secrets about the woods that he was more than willing to divulge to a stranger like me for nothing in return. Presumably, this was all out of his virtuous admiration for my eyes and out of the kindness of his own heart. He even tried on a variation of his puppy dog eyes, which, as you can imagine, on a wolf like him looked very silly, indeed.
Of course, I knew it was all crap. The kindness of his heart, a wolf saying that! Did he really take me for such a stupid, sentimental fool? I knew that the moment he lured me away from the village and into the woods he would fall upon me, snap my neck, and take my eyes for himself. He’d eat me to boot, the scoundrel.
He’d try again and again to get me to go with him, growing ever presumptuous and more annoying. It is a sad fact of life that I’ve never met a wolf who knew how to accept no for an answer. And this one, with his big brown eyes staring into mine, was no exception. He would have to be mine for supper or else he’d never leave me alone. Letting him live was now out of the question.
Nom nom nom nom nom, I thought, looking at him. At least, I would get a tasty treat out of this.
So, I eventually told him, sure, I’d go with him into the woods. But first, I had to find some way to sneak out of my grandma’s house at night. It had to be at night, because my grandma would never let me go otherwise. He asked if my grandma was a heavy sleeper. And I answered him that, yes, she was, and that she probably wouldn’t wake up even if Armageddon came to the house.
He asked what the problem was if my grandmother was such a heavy sleeper that I could easily sneak out at night. I answered that I was too afraid of the dark to sneak out on my own. If only there was someone who could accompany me so I didn’t have to be alone. At this, I saw excitement gleam in his wolfish eyes.
Gallantly, he offered to meet me at my grandma’s house. We would then sneak out together, he said, and he would serve as my escort. I thanked him for his decency, and told him to come meet me in my grandma’s house just after midnight. I’d leave the living room window open so he could get in, I said. Once the plan was finalized, my having informed him how to get into my room without disturbing grandma, he left with a spring in his step and a fly in his bonnet, or however the expression goes.
I immediately went to grandma’s house and got to work. I only had a limited amount of time. I grabbed some yarn, a sowing needle, and two bright blue jewels that I had fished up from the bottom of the sea. I started fashioning them together. I quickly wove these materials into the double of a little girl, approximately my size, with two beautiful blue eyes that glittered in the dark. I tucked my inanimate twin into my bed, hid in the depths of my old dresser with my trusty knife in hand, and waited.
I watched my twin with all the intensity of an independent director making their first feature film with a big, multinational studio. The eyes twinkled back at me, conspiratorial in our shared secret. I waited and waited, the lights going out, the world growing dark outside, and the clocks striking twelve. Still I waited, breathing so lightly and so quietly that my body hardly made a sound.
Thirteen minutes after midnight, I heard something heavy and shaggy vault through the open window and drop into the living room. There was the patter of paws scurrying across the living room floor, followed by the flicking of a switch and a soft light coming on in the hall. There was the moaning of floorboards and the groaning of my bedroom door as something slinked up and pushed it back, finding it unlocked. A faint wolfen shadow appeared and blotted out the thin hallway light. It stretched far across the bedroom floor, groping for the figure in the bed.
The wolf entered my room, and whispered not to be afraid; that he was here, and that I would be kept safe. When he received no response, he entreated again and crept closer to the bed. He assured me that there was nothing to worry about and to come out of bed quick. There wasn’t time to waste, so I should be a good girl and come with him. I saw his swollen pink tongue rub up against the tips of his sharp yellowed teeth as he growled this. His jaws were curled into a twisted smile and I could hear the hot panting of his breath. I could even smell him too, the vile, filthy beast. Obviously, there was no response from the bed.
With only more silence to greet him, and no movement to speak of, he crept closer and closer to the bed until he was looming right over it, ogling down at my inanimate twin. He started muttering something that I couldn’t hear. Dribbles of saliva sprinkled the bed as he lifted a corner of the cover with a clawed paw. He tilted his snout down towards the two sparkling blue jewels and shuddered in ecstasy. His big brown eyes stared into the jewels. The better to see them with, I guess. His other paw reached out for those blue faux-eyes, yearning to touch them and take them for his own….
He was so fixated on those blue eyes of his that he never noticed me emerging from the depths of the dresser and stealing up behind him with my knife raised in my hand. There was only the sound of a feeble whimper as I thrust the knife through the back of his hairy neck. With the jewels before him and my own glinting eyes behind him, there was nothing he could do. A few more stabs and he was dead.
I roasted him up in the fireplace that night, eager for a post-midnight hour snack. He sizzled in the heat and toasted well. After several minutes, I grabbed a nice hunk of well-done flesh and took a big bite.
I threw down the meat in disgust and reached for the sriracha. Alas, he was tougher, leaner than I had anticipated, and I quickly realized that no amount of seasoning or dressing or damn well anything would ever salvage the unsavory taste of this wolf. He had hardly been worth the effort or the mess. I lamented not having fattened him up in advance, and cursed him for his lack of juiciness and succulence– his general lack of courtesy for those who would be eating him for supper.
That was the problem with wolves: even in death they could still disappoint you. And the one thing they were good for… well, this wolf blew it.
Argh! They really are the worst.
Peter Szuban work in libraries and have an MA in English from Western University and an MI from the University of Toronto. He currently lives in Toronto and enjoys certain gothic sensibilities.