I decided to do something other than a movie review for this post. That ‘something’ is putting myself out there with a short story that I wrote. I hope that you like it; be nice if you don’t.
Thanks to my wife, Phyllis, for putting the idea in my head.
Big thanks to Alex Laybourne for his patience in reading the drafts and his editorial advice. If you like it, thank him. If not, then blame me.
Thanks to Eric S. Brown for proving that you can keep it clean and still tell a story.
ANKLE BITES-A WEREWOLF TAIL
Hello. My name is Steven Mayall. I am a werewolf. Prepare to die.
I’ve always wanted to say that. You probably don’t believe that I’m a werewolf. The usual werewolves that you read about have names like Lupo or Luna. They are not real. I am.
There are two things that you should know about me as they will tie in to how I came to be in this situation. The first is that I have been a security guard for the better part of 15 years. I have guarded offices, shopping malls, a hospital and even a graveyard, the latter of which was the most fun. That transient may not have believed in apparitions on his way into Oakwood Cemetery but I can damn sure guarantee that he believed in them as he made a swift retreat out of it.
The second and perhaps most important aspect of me is that I have a short fuse, a hair trigger-anger management issues. The slightest thing can set me off; alarm doesn’t go off making me late for work-rage; burn my tongue on hot coffee-rage; trip over the dog-rage; internet is down-rage. Granted, I have learned to control it in recent years but I can tell you that I have lost friendships and severed relationships over the years. I’ve been married for seven years now and my wife has seen first-hand my outbursts and surprisingly has stayed by my side. I still debate whether she has the patience of a saint or is simply stupid. One thing for certain is that she has no idea that I’m a werewolf. I make sure to be far away from home on the nights of the change. She is better off thinking that I am working, getting drunk in a bar or having an affair than to know the truth.
I am certain that my occupation and my dysfunction converged on that fateful night that I was bitten and my life took a savage and hirsute turn. I got a last-minute plea from my boss asking if I would fill in for one of our guards, an 18 year-old stoner who had called in sick a half hour before his shift would begin. If there was an award given to the most clueless shmuck on the planet my boss would win hands down. All he had to do was realize that it was a Friday night and this kid decided he’d rather get high with his friends than earn a paycheck and realize this brain-dead punk was jerking him around.
The job was at a construction site on the outskirts of town. I would be guarding two bulldozers and a backhoe and was required to do a sweep of the area every hour. I got there at 5 o’clock. At six o’clock the moon was on the rise and by 7:15 it was dark with the exception of a trio of streetlights on the side of the road just off to the left of my post. I had made two sweeps-at 6 and 7 o’clock and all was well. At eight o’clock my life changed forever.
I told you about the streetlights, did I not? They do an excellent job of illuminating the place at night. That is all except for the back area of where I have to patrol on an hourly basis. I know I said I was filling in but that doesn’t mean that this was my first day at this post. That pothead is the guard here on my days off; which pisses me off even more knowing that I’m working while he’s toking, playing video games and or jerking off. I digress. Let me get on with the story.
On my eight o’clock rounds I had already patrolled the area illuminated by the streetlights and as I made my way to the dark section I flipped the switch on my flashlight and got nothing. I slapped it against my hand like you see people do in the movies and got sore palms for my trouble. As much as the light wasn’t shining on the flashlight the temperature gauge in my brain was on the rise and any second I was going to blow a gasket. I told you the smallest things could set me off and this was one of those small things. I let out a wave of shouts and curses. Every variation and combination of fecal or sexual expletives escaped from my mouth and turned the air blue and as I was just getting my second wind to let loose another wave of profanities I heard of all things a low, rumbling growl just off to the left of me.
Two things occurred at that moment. The first was that I turned my head to the left to try to see the source of the growl coming from the darkness. I never completed the turn because the second thing was that the source of that growl hit me like a ton of bricks simultaneously knocking the wind out of me and to the ground. I put up my hands in defense but the thing still managed to claw at me until finally biting me hard in the neck and climbing off me to run back into the darkness as I lie there scratched, bloody and bitten. I wondered, strangely enough, whether my outburst had drawn this thing to me. Then I lost consciousness.
I woke up in room 237 of the Sisters of Mercy Hospital. My wife was leaning over me, smiling. Her clothes were wrinkled and when she leaned in to kiss me I could smell her stale breath. Finding this odd knowing Amy the way I do I put two and two together and knew that she had been by my bed the entire time I was out. She’s devoted. I kissed her full on the lips despite her halitosis.
Amy told me that my boss was the one who found me. He came by the post after I failed to check in. I could feel the pressure of something around my neck and reached up to feel a large bandage covering over half of it where that ‘thing’ had bitten me. I asked Amy how long I had been in the hospital.
“I’ve spent three days in this room?”
“No, you’ve only been in here for two days.”
The woman should have been a dentist.
“What about before that?”
“You were in ICU for a day.”
“I was there for a day?”
“Why was I in ICU for only a day?”
“I suppose it’s because you got better. They sedated you to help you sleep and put you in here.”
My mind began to process all of this. This creature attacked me, clawing furrows in my shoulders, chest and my left arm. It bit me on the neck before taking off and leaving me to bleed out and I was only in intensive care for one damned day?
“Were you here when they brought me in, Amy?”
“No, only since you were moved to this room.”
So much for her being here the entire time, I thought.
“So you didn’t see my wounds?”
“I only saw the one on your neck, Steven.”
I was getting irritated. “You didn’t see the scratches-the claw marks?”
“What scratches? What claw marks?”
I looked dead at her to see if she was yanking my chain. She wasn’t. She was dead serious. I looked at my left arm. It was healed. I pulled down the front of my hospital gown and looked at my chest. It was healed. With Amy to help me I pulled the bandage off my neck and used her compact to look at the wound. Only there was no wound.
It was healed, completely; just like the others.
Rapid healing was only one of the many benefits of my ‘condition’. There were others; my senses were heightened. I could hear a person’s heartbeat in the next room. I could smell their sweat and detect if it was from exertion, or fear. I could see things in the dark from a hundred yards that a normal person couldn’t see from half that distance in broad daylight. My taste buds danced across every grain of salt, savored every seasoning and swam happily in the juices of the succulent steaks, ribs, chicken and pork that I consumed like a man obsessed. And sex? Let’s talk about sex. My sense of touch was so attuned that my penis felt as if a million tiny fingers were caressing it each time my wife covered it with her mouth or gently slid her tongue up and down the shaft. My condition had its benefits, indeed!
Benefits aside, any moron who has ever watched a Viagra commercial knows that there are bound to be side effects to balance out the equation. When the days drew closer to the to the change I found myself aching to go outside where I would urinate upon a favorite tree and chase away the doves and pigeons that would light on my grass. If Amy missed the trash can, as she often did, I would retrieve the object and bring it back to her to try again. I also grew a deep-seated hatred for the mailman and before he would even set foot on our porch I would lash out at him with obscenities. It got so bad that Amy had to meet him down the block to receive our mail. Repairmen, meter readers, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Girl Scouts all suffered the same abuse. This was what being a werewolf was all about and to think I haven’t even killed anyone. I’m working up to it. In fact I have just the right person all picked out.
One month before I’m bitten, Amy is spending the weekend at her sister’s house, mentioning something to me about a quilting bee as she was on her way out the door. Amy is into that arts and crafts spinster shit; it’s as if she can’t wait to be an old lady. Fine by me since it leaves me with the house and the weekend all to myself. I look at my watch: 10:36. That means Murphy’s will be hopping. The night is starry and I forgo driving to walk the short distance to the club.
I pay the cover and I step into the heart of Murphy’s. I scan the place from one side to the other looking for anyone I might know but there are no familiar faces here. Then, on my second scan I see her standing there in a circle with her friends. I pay for a pitcher of Coors light and look for a table close enough to watch her and far enough not to seem creepy.
Her long red hair shines radiantly. Her green eyes dance like ballerinas as she smiles and laughs with full, red lips and the whitest and purest of teeth. She wears a black dress over a figure that can only be described as exquisite. It covers just enough before stopping to reveal legs that would bring a dancer to tears with their graceful perfection. Elegant black heels complete this masterpiece. I love Amy with all of my heart but all I want right now is to have the courage to ask for one dance with this woman. I just want the chance to prove to myself that someone of my status could approach someone of her beauty.
I sit there sipping beer and gaining courage. I see my chance and walk over to her.
She looks at me with those eyes and my bravado begins to fade.
Her voice is crystal as she utters that single syllable.
“I noticed you when I came in and I’ve been thinking of how I wanted to say this to you.”
“Say what to me?”
“That you are the most beautiful woman I have ever laid eyes on and would you honor me with one dance?”
Her eyes sparkle and there is a hint of a smile on her lips.
“You’re saying that you want one dance with me?
“Can I ask you a question, what’s was your name again?”
“I haven’t told you my name. It’s Steven, uh, Steve.”
“Well, Steven, uh, Steve. Why would I want to dance with someone as insignificant and below average as you?”
I stand there as they stare at me, grinning, giggling. The damage done they turn away from me and back to their conversation.
I think to myself, “Beautiful woman makes you feel like dog vomit in front of her friends-rage.” I walked out of Murphy’s and headed for home seeing red.
I am at Murphy’s again. Ginger is there, also; she doesn’t see me. Why should she? I’m insignificant and below average, remember? She’s going to find out that I am much more than that.
She leaves the club at midnight with a guy named Trevor, a douchebag with a popped collar. I follow them to his place and watch as they go inside and lock the door. Soon, a light comes on in what I can only assume is his bedroom. I wait outside for her and for two hours my ears are assaulted by the sounds of their coital fervor. I didn’t have to be a werewolf to hear this; cats under my window at night have made sounds more passionate than the cacophony that Ginger and Trevor made while fornicating that night.
She leaves his place and I blend into the shadows just in case she looks my way; she doesn’t. She makes her way up the sidewalk and I let her get further away before letting the change come over me. Transformed, I begin to follow her again. My wolf would catch up to her with ease. I am nearly ten feet and closing in fast behind her when, as I steel myself to pounce a low growl escapes my throat and she turns around and begins at first to laugh and then picks me up and tries to pet me.
I am nearing the end of this story and I suppose now would be a good time to mention to you that as a human I am a mere three feet, two inches tall. When I am a werewolf I resemble less a wolf than I do an angry brown terrier. I snapped at Ginger’s face and she dropped me, startled. My leap made its mark this time and I dug into her throat and ripped it from her neck. I chewed it up and swallowed it as she collapsed dead to the ground with a look of dumb surprise on her face. After that I started on her ankles, working my way up.