The wolf looked out across the snow covered field. The virgin blanket of white bathed in the blue glow of twilight. There was something sacred in the stillness. The green branches of the pine trees peeked out from beneath their burden of overstuffed puffy cold cotton; the breeze carrying little drifts of crystalline flakes slowly and silently to the ground.
All was peaceful here.
The vast expanse of field and trees swept to the horizon uninterrupted. No bird sang. Nothing disturbed the tranquility of the azure silence. Even the wind moved in calm reverence.
The wolf breathed it all in. There was so little time. Such a fleeting moment of serenity. But he would carry it within him when he was forced to return to the noise, the cruelty, the weight of the other world. Where he would retake his human form.
Grandma would be asleep on the velvet soft puma colored couch. The radio pressed to her ear, the gin and tonic on the coffee table next to the ash tray of burned out Virginia Slims.
Mother would be lying on the bed, a washcloth over her forehead, an empty bottle of fiorinal spilled on to the night table.
Father was gone. But the wolf knew he would be able to visit him soon. Brother was with him. His only true friend in the whole world. His pal who would coo him when he woke up screaming in the night. The bulwark who stood beside him during the attacks, when mother would shout and swing and cry and curse. The wolf often wondered if mother was right and he was "just like his god damned bastard father". But mother would repent and cry and kiss and all would be forgiven. She would clean the apartment and scrub the floor in her dirty nighty, sometimes hiked up above her hips revealing things the wolf tried to forget.
Sister would be in her room listening to records, posing in the mirror, dreaming of boys or of becoming a model. But she didn't seem to like being around men. Not since she was thirteen and her eyes had grown wide with tears, fear, and distrust. But he could relate. Sometimes he didn't like being alone with men either. Especially the doctor. The doctor with his snapping latex gloves and his Vaseline fingers; the way he would hold him down and tell him to "juuust relaaax". He didn't like that. It hurt and made him feel trapped and suffocated. But it happened every time.
Sometimes sister would play with him. The game where she was the mommy and he was the daddy and she would get on top of him and ride him like a horsey. He didn't understand why mother had become hysterical when she found out about the game. It felt good to be close to someone.
A bird caught the wolf's eye. He watched it make its way through the snow, carefully stepping among the branches of the bushes. Its feathers reminded him of the little girl who lived next door. Her candy ribbon strawberry blond hair was so thin, like the down of a bird's feathers. He remembered when he had run from the house, not able to stand the pain anymore. He saw her there and knew that finally he could be the one in control, he could stand over her and shout, he could hold her head between his clawed fingers and shriek into her innocent helpless face.
She had cried. And in her tears he felt a shame greater than any that had ever been inflicted upon him.
He was the monster.
Her little trembling form looking up at him in fear filled him with a self loathing he would never forget. He knew how she felt because he had felt that way his entire life. And in that moment he swore that he would not be like the monsters that tormented him. He would not be his mother.
He hated them all.
He would be a different kind of monster.
The vicious animals of the school yard would be the first to understand, the day they beat up his best friend for being better than they were at sports. He loathed the time imprisoned in the barbed wire, iron barred, fenced institution they called school. It was more like a zoo. How could the animals be so big? They had been held back so many grades that their bestial bodies swelled beyond any hope of resistance.
"Yo yo yo...le' me hol' yo' chocolate milk. Yo yo le' me hol' yo' lunch money.
Crack. The fist would come down.
"Yo yo wus up white nigga."
"Yous a preppy ass white nigga bitch! Did you jus' step on my funky fresh white Reeboks?"
"Yo yo check it."
They held his crying friend down and pointed to the exposed skin of his thigh just below his shorts.
"Yo kiss it white nigga or we gonna fuck him up mo'"
The wolf didn't know what to do.
"Yo muthafucka kiss it bitch!"
The wolf leaned over and kissed his friend's thigh.
"Ohhh shit! Daaamn! White nigga a faggot! Oh shit muthafucka like dick! Wus up faggot?!"
He plotted to make them pay.
The teachers didn't help. They were paragons of bureaucratic incompetence and paralysis, whatever care they once had, drowned in a sea of overcrowded classrooms. One day the wolf was at the urinal when he heard a shout from the ogre teacher.
"Everyone out of the bathroom!"
The savages had been abusing bathroom time to "break dance" in the halls. He wanted to leave but he couldn't stop mid stream. Then he felt the great, giant, clammy, fat ogre hands wrap around his throat from behind. He was lifted off his feet, pants falling to his ankles, and thrown out of the bathroom, sprawling on the tiled hallway floor.
No one helped. No one ever helped.
Except one teacher. She took a special liking to the wolf. She was soft and sweet and kind. She made him feel safe. And she liked to play games. The same games as his sister. He had to promise to keep that a secret. He was good at keeping secrets.
He pulled his pants up as the savages laughed.
He saw them again in the hallway at the end of the day. Three of them surrounded him. They pulled off his back pack and threw it on the ground. They pushed him.
"Whachyou gonna do white nigga?"
Crack. The fist hit him square in the sternum. But the wolf didn't move. He just stood there staring at his assailant ignoring the pain.
*I'm going to kill you* he thought.
An image of Darth Vader popped into his head, crushing the throat of a rebel soldier.
*I'm going to leave here, and I'm going to come back and I'm going to burn this whole fucking place to the ground. I'm going to make you scream.*
The bully blinked. It was like he heard the wolf's thoughts. He looked at him with an expression the wolf had never seen on the boy.
Something had been conveyed. Something in the wolf's eyes had flickered. He was not like the other children. He had within him that which the bullies could only imitate in mockery; a burning rage, so pure, so furious, so beautiful, so bright, so intense, that his heart was bursting to let it out.
And the bully sensed it.
*help me let it out* he pleaded with his eyes. *I can't hold it in anymore*
The savages walked away. They never bothered the wolf again.
Mother continued to take him on auditions. She would adjust his collar and fix his hair after licking her fingers. She would smile expectantly after each audition, eager for the potential revenue stream it would bring. He had been supporting the family since he was eight.
"How'd it go?!" She would ask jubilantly, her expression turning to disgust if the wolf wasn't sure.
Every day after school packed into the "E" train to the city. The crowd crushing him close as the doors made the "bung-bung" sound and locked him into the claustrophobic prison of bodies.
One day in the park mother told him that if he didn't book a job soon they would have to go back to Maine and live on welfare again and "everyone will laugh at us". The wolf wouldn't let that happen. He wasn't a kid anymore. He had a responsibility to his family. She handed him a set of dog tags that she had specially made for him.
"What are these?" He had asked.
"These are just in case you get kidnapped and murdered. They'll be able to identify your body."
That made sense. After all, there was no safety in this world.
*But they'll never kidnap me. I won't let them. I'm going so far away that no one will ever catch me. Not you, not the doctor, not the teachers, not the savages...no one.*
A crow cawed breaking the silence. The blue light was gone. It was getting dark. The wolf turned away ready to resume his life as a little boy, and started to trudge through the snow back to the noise, back to the pain,
...back to reality
Copyright © 2017 Short Stories by Christopher Daniel Barnes - All Rights Reserved.