Monday, May 22, 2006

A short story. THE WOLF


Crowded elevator, crunched and crushed bodies, deadlines. I found my self-running towards all these things. Closing doors ahead of me, I had just enough time to squeeze in at the last second.
I had ninety minutes to make my taxi and get to Hotel Belaugio down in San Rafael. I was promised an exclusive if I made it in time. My boss’ were hell bent on capitalizing my success with another winning photo. I was still getting awards and honors, which I didn’t care so much about anymore, with my award-winning photo of the silver wolf. His face had taken up most of the front page of the Time cover.
I had a million things on my mind as I rushed from the sliding doors and across the crowded lobby. I weaved and dodged people coming in and out of the busy building. I saw my ride waiting for me… a miracle in itself. Ten steps, eight, and I would be on my way. I’d have at least forty minutes once I was there to formulate the ideas I had for this shoot.
Just as I made the revolving door, I slammed into a hard body. I dropped my notes and the backpack slumped off my arm. I bent to annoyingly pick it all up. I hadn’t even really noticed whom I had body checked, until my journal was being handed to me. I took it and rudely looked up to say “thank you”, when I was floored all over again. He was kneeling in front of me holding my camera bag. My hand was on the other side when I looked into those eyes. Those mesmerizing eyes. He took my breath away. He smiled as if he knew exactly what he was doing to me.
“Alex” he said offering me his name, and with my bag. It took me a moment to gather my wits about me.
“Christian…Christian Fontenot” I finally managed to say. He smiled that smile again. I couldn’t take my eyes off his face. I’d seen that face before. More accurately his eyes. There was something about his eyes.
“Have we met?” I asked stupidly. He laughed lightly. Brushing the hair off his forehead.
“Yes, we’ve met. Why don’t we go for a drink? You look like you might need one, Christian Fontenot.” He smiled that disarming smile, and I felt like I could follow him anywhere.
I blew off the cab and my exclusive and headed to the coffee shop with him. I kept staring at him. Which he didn’t seem to mind. I had to remember where I had met this man before; my body reacted as if it knew him intimately already. Or maybe it was wishful thinking.
While he was talking to the waitress, my mind began to wander back five months ago, when my life had changed, changed forever.

If I tried I could almost hear and see everything as it was that day. I could smell the woods and feel my own overwhelming fear. Just as if I was there once again. Lord knew I had dreamt about it a thousand times. I let my memory wander as he drank his coffee staring at me, into me.
~ ~ ~
The sounds of the woods were surrounding me in terrifying disarray. I was lost; I was running lost and scared deep in woods, surrounded by things that I couldn’t see nor things that only my imagination could fathom. I couldn’t see them, but I could hear. The baying and barking was getting closer as I ran panicked. And I ran for my very life.
The snarls and growls sounded as if they were right next to my head. I couldn’t breathe. My chest felt like it was going to explode. But, I couldn’t stop; they knew these woods better than I did, or ever could.
All I could think of as I ran, swinging around trees, jumping over fallen branches and sliding around rocks bigger than a grown man, was how stupid I was for being here in the first place. There wasn’t any amount of notoriety worth dying for. I had never realized this before. I had taken photos of some extremely dangerous things before. But how was I to know that this was going to be the most dangerous photo opt I was ever to experience. And I hadn’t even gotten the damn shots I wanted yet.
I stumbled and twisted my ankle about that time. I fell hard and rolled with a muffled scream. I frantically looked around for someplace to hide. No such luck. I had fallen and rolled into what looked like an alcove of rocks and rock face, it surrounded me on three sides, and they were at least nine or ten feet above me. And the forth was blocked by a fallen tree, about knee high which is what I had gone over. I held onto my ankle and tried to slide as far back as I could. I desperately needed to control my breathing. I knew that I was making too much noise. I could still hear them coming. I could sense them watching me as they looked down to me. I frantically searched my pockets and bag for something to defend myself. The only things I had were rolls of film, and my camera. Lot of help they were going to be. I closed my eyes for a second and said a quick prayer. The last prayer I was ever going to be allowed to say, I thought. I fought back the over powering fear. I knew they could smell my fear. Hell, if they couldn’t hear my chattering teeth it would be a miracle.
I opened my eyes when I felt gravel falling on me. I slowly looked up. Standing on top of the rock wall right over my head, maybe ten feet away was the alpha Wolf. The large male. His entire demeanor told me everything I didn’t want to know. He was pissed and I was about to die. He looked at me in a way that left nothing to my imagination as to what was about to become of me. My left hand was slowly moving inside of my camera bag that had been slung over my shoulder. I lay my hand on the camera and popped the lens cap off. I didn’t really have much of an idea how this would help me, but, it was the only chance I had.
A howl nearly caused me to piss myself. My breathing had ceased. I sat stock still, waiting for them to make a move. And I say them, because there were six or seven members of the pack, all black and gray, large and hungry. I was no match to any of them. Any one of them could kill me in an instant, or they could take there time and rip me to shreds just for the fun of it. And yes, from what I had seen of this bunch, they would have fun doing it.
Why the hell was I here? Why couldn’t I just have passed on this story? I didn’t know, and I suddenly thought of my mother. Would she ever know what had befallen her son? I hoped that she would be able to get over my death. I had three brothers to comfort her. She would be all right, my brother Shaun, for all of my twenty-four years had always wanted to be her favorite, and I bet he would be sucking up as soon as they got the word of my horrible death. SHIT, I was about to die, and I was thinking of my asshole brother. I suddenly was mad. I had the first clear thought, or any thought for that matter in what seemed like hours. I wasn’t going to die this way. Or at least I wasn’t about to just sit here and let these bastards kill me without a fight of some kind.
I pulled the camera out of my bag. The growls grew louder and more anxious. I knew it was coming.
“Ok, what? You just going to sit there and watch me till I die of boredom? Come on you bastards, you want a piece of me… COME AND GET IT!” I screamed at them at the top of my lungs and saw the leader move to make his jump down onto me. I raised the camera chest high and braced myself for his weight to pummel me. The howling was loud and nasty; the sounds of movements all around me were maddening. I couldn’t see all of them, but that didn’t really matter did it? I had the alpha wolf moving down on me, the others would take the cue from him. I saw him in slow motion, arching and stretching as he in slow motion came down off his perch. His body was stretched out and I could see his muscled and flawless body fall towards me. I closed my eyes and held my breath, my finger held fast on the camera button. I could hear the film clicking off. I thought at least maybe someone would see the last thing that I had seen. I felt him hit me, and the pain ripped through my chest and stomach as his body hit mine. I felt him hit and fall away. I was fighting and struggling the best I could with the wind knocked out me. But, he wasn’t on me. I opened my eyes frantically trying to catch my breath. I was still swinging the camera in front of me, my finger still holding down the button. The clicking was as loud as my pounding heart. He wasn’t coming at me as I had expected. He was rolling on the ground in a fight for his own life with another wolf. A large silver one. I watched as they rolled and fought. After what seemed like hours but was probably just moments, the alpha retreated. Another of the pack tried to make his move by coming down from the edge of his rock, only to be stared down by this huge silver beast. I was in shock. I lay there staring at him, one by one the pack left from the ridge above me, each more vocal than the last, till it was just he and I alone. I swallowed hard, waiting for his move to end this battle. I knew I was his prize for this showdown. He was now the alpha leader and he had claimed me for his own. I mumbled to myself, barely audible. “I’m his trophy… he’s gonna kill me now!” I felt so weak; I knew I wasn’t able to do anything now to stop him. I was too battered and hurt. Not that I could have stopped him if I was still in one piece.

He stared at me. He didn’t move for the longest time. He stood there just watching me. I didn’t dare take my eyes off of him. And I couldn’t have taken my eyes off of him if I had wanted to, His eyes mesmerized me. There was something different about this one. Different from all the others in the pack. Not only by his coloring, but also, by his demeanor and stance. There was just something about him I couldn’t figure out. I ran my hand over my chest and stomach, feeling broken ribs and torn flesh from the big alpha slamming into me.
He finally, slowly began to move towards me. I was shaking so bad that I couldn’t control it. He took one step then another towards me. He stopped three or feet in front of me. He lowered his head for a second. And when he raised his face to me. I saw the most beautiful set of eyes I had ever seen. He stared at me, into me. I felt him looking into my soul it seemed. I had never seen eyes like this before. Deep brown, speckles of green mixed in. Colors, wolves didn’t usually have, that much my muddled brain new.
He slowly moved to each side of me, I thought he was sizing me up. To see how much of a challenge I was to be. I was wrong. He stopped once again, and slowly moved back. He would move, then stop and look back.
Ok, I’ve seen enough old Lassie movies to know he wanted me to follow him. At least I prayed that’s what this was about. I did manage somehow to get up and follow him, limping and hobbled by my hurt ankle, and badly bruised and cut chest. I don’t remember how I got over the log, or how I even followed him all the way to the edge of civilization. I watched him, standing at the edge of a tree line watching me in return. I couldn’t understand why he was doing this. Why hadn’t he just killed me? Why didn’t he just let the other wolves do me in? I had no idea, none at all.
I could here human voices yelling my name. Obliviously I had missed my meet up time. I felt myself slip fully to the ground; I was barely crawling for the last hour. I lay on my stomach, watching the wolf watch me as he made his way back into the tree line.
I could then feel hands and arms grabbing hold of me, I was being helped away. I was in shock, and began to wonder if any of this had really happened, the way it actually had.
As I was being loaded into the truck, I looked up and saw the silver king watching me from a ridge above the tree line. I memorized his face. I don’t know why. I really don’t. But, that’s what I did. He then howled and disappeared over the back. My rescuers all turned to look but he was gone. No one had seen him but me. And I knew I would never see him again. When the film was developed while I was still in the hospital, there was the picture of the year. The face of the silver wolf. I had gotten the shot trying to defend myself from the first alpha male. I had taken the picture before I even knew the silver wolf was there in front of me, protecting me.
And now, here he was again sitting in front of me smiling at my confusion.
Those eyes baiting me to take him on. Eyes I had dreamt about, eyes that were burnt into my memory. I felt myself go weak. A feeling of welcome surrender passed over me.
He leaned forward covering my hand with his own and whispered…
“I’ve come to claim my trophy.” And he had.


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