The Wolf and The Red

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Look at you, an innocent face concealing the slyness within! Do you really feel nothing as you bite into your marmalade smeared bread with relish, while the wolf howls at the full moon, bloodied and hacked by their dull blades.

Don’t you loathe yourself when you see your reflection? Don’t your meticulously painted, subtly highlighted yet emotionless eyes terrify you?

Someone had once recounted to me his tale, the way yours is being now retold. They said the wolf was born in disrepute, and so they had to banish him and his pater away from their respectable settlement; yet keep him close on the fringes in case the need arose.

He kept to himself, until you decided to chase him.  You sashayed into his hut day in and day out, with your carefully chalked plan. If your business eventually lead to seductive liaisons, that would only be a surplus. But he rejected your advances, the simpleton wolf. Did at least the rejection sting? Is that why you drugged his meat and ensured he met the vicious end at the hands of the villagers?

For so many years, the likes of me have kept your secrets. You enthralled me, just like you enthralled them with your pert features and delicious curves. But of late, the ugliness concealed behind the red hood has become difficult to overlook.

Do you remember, some years ago, you caught fireflies in mason jars? Their captivity thrilled you, didn’t it? Their pain and fear fed your soul. But those pithy creatures do not satiate you anymore, for now you need bigger bodies to drain life out of. Their tangible pain thrills you. Everything else is but the by-product.

Were you always this way? Or do you have something against wolves?

Hunting this wolf had been your one savage pleasure. Your face flushed when you left to meet him. He had genuinely cared for you, and that made his pain more intense. More, personal.

More seductive.

And hence, the gentle wolf, who lived all these years on the fringes of the woods, tonight lays bleeding and forgotten in the dark, wondering where it all went wrong.

***

It’s been excruciating hours, that I have been laying in this ditch, exsanguinated and in wait. In the beginning, the foolish me was sure she would come and explain. She would tell them that it had all been a mistake. Then I hoped she would come. After all, she had been my only friend in years. Since a last few hours, I pray for someone to get me just a few gulps of water.

This moment, I am begging God to hurry and grant me death.

What a beautiful sight she made, with doe like eyes and curly bob, as she snuck in my hut for the umpteenth time.

“Oh, wolf, what huge paws you have.”

“To carve out the wood, my dear.”

“Oh, wolf, what a big mouth you have.”

“To hold all the nails while I hammer.”

I should have never let her inside my house. My heart.

“Oh, wolf, you are not like other boys in the village. Will you be my friend?”

Why did I believe her?

“Oh wolf, My old cot is broken, will you make a wooden bed for me?”

I should have known better. I had decades to learn from the mistake of my pater.

Then all of a sudden, her shrieks from last evening fill my memories. I had just finished my chores and was ready to retire. She caught me by my scruff and nuzzled by my ear.

“It is late Red, this is no time for a Mädchen to loiter near the woods.”

Oh, wolf, I am in so much trouble.”

“What happened?”

“That old coot of the woodcutter claims I owe him money. He threatened to visit me by night, to teach me a lesson. The village folks believe he is some saint embodiment, but…”

I stood stiff, reluctant to be a part of this dispute, yet worried about her.

“I am so sorry, Wolf. I shouldn’t have dragged you in this matter. Can I at least stay here for a few hours? Here I got us supper. Have these pickled meats. I swear I will leave by nightfall unless you want me to stay.”

The voice had been too coy, for an angelic face. I should have known then.

The next thing I remember, I was on the bed I had carved out for her, unable to move. To speak.

My fogged brain filled with dread as I saw her scratch her own face and run out, shrieking for help.

Then the blows rained on me, followed by blunt axe strikes. They carried my broken body out of my house and dumped me in a ditch. My house, that they set on fire, burnt brighter than the full moon in the sky that night.

 

 

 

***

There comes your accomplice, that scrooge wood-cutter you are in cahoots with. You collect your bounty as you hand over the deed for the land on which the wolf lived.

Unable to break away my gaze, I am forced to watch as your high-pitched laugh fills the house.

The diamonds in your hand reflect off the mirror, and I am momentarily blinded.

Was it all just about this? A piece of land? A low life lost? Or do you simply enjoy toying with your prey?

I will never know. He will never know.

They will never know.

***

Never trust a stranger-friend,

No one knows how it will end,

As you are pretty, so be wise,

Wolf may lurk in every guise.

 

-Charles Perrault, The little red riding hood, 1969.

***

 

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