The wolf and the Red

3 min


Look at you, an innocent face concealing the slyness within! You sit before me, biting into your marmalade smeared bread with relish, while the bloodied and hacked wolf howls at the moon.

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 I am telling them yours. They said the wolf was born in disrepute, and so the village decided 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 laid your honeytrap, make sure he thought you meant well. 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 be a surplus. But he rejected your advances, the simpleton wolf. Did 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, I have kept your secrets. I confess, for a long time, I was just as enthralled by your pert features and delicious curves, as many before me. But of late, the ugliness concealed behind the red hood has become difficult to overlook.

Do you remember, some years ago, you loved catching fireflies in mason jars? Their captivity thrilled you, didn’t it? Their fear as the life gradually ebbed out of them fed your dark soul. But such 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, a part of the fathomless darkness of the universe? Or do you have something against wolves?

Hunting this wolf had been your savage pleasure, I know! I had seen the way your face flushed when you prettied yourself before you left the house to meet him. He had genuinely cared for you, and that made his pain more intense, your chase more personal. More seductive.

And thus, 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 comely sight she made, with her doe like eyes and curly bob, when she snuck in my hut every 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, tremors wreck my body. Her shrieks from last evening fill my memories. I had finished my chores and was ready to retire. She came up behind me, 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. But I am all alone. 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.

***

Pic courtesy : Unsplash

 


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