A silver moon slung low in the night sky and gray shapes moved beneath it, long blunt muzzles raised upwards. Howling pierced the air and small animals took fright, scuttling away into the undergrowth.
‘That’s better lads, but you need to really open those throats – show you mean business.’ The Wolf looked round his pack, sniffing the night air. ‘I don’t see Victor?’
The young wolves snickered amongst themselves, nose-pushing and play-biting until one said, ‘Think he’s sorting out leaves and bilberries for his supper.’
Another said, ‘when we were out savaging sheep. Yay!’
‘That does it! No son of mine eats that rubbish when there’s good, fresh meat to be had,’ and he padded into the den on hard, purposeful paws.
Victor’s mother was giving her youngest son a good talking to. ‘Darling, I know you’re not like the others, but at least eat some lamb heart along with the leaves, just for me?’
Inside the den, Victor wrinkled his beautiful aquiline nose, moved his paws delicately among the detritus of bones, rotting flesh and a small squirming thing being played with by the very youngest cub. And knew that it was time to go.
He was sad to leave his family, but most of all his mother who’d shielded him. He knew he wasn’t like his brothers. Now, tired and exhausted he came at last to a cottage. Sinking down, he placed his muzzle on his front paws, and fell asleep.
‘Oh my Gawd, what have we here?’ Granny towered over him in patent leather high heels. ‘I need to escape before my bossy little granddaughter, Marigold gets here, but I can’t leave you like this. Come on in.’ She shooed him into the cottage. ‘Looks as though you could do with a kip, my sweetheart,’ Granny said. ‘Just pop into bed – you can wear me pure satin nightgown to be comfy – look lovely against your fur.’
‘What about your granddaughter – won’t she be frightened, to see a Wolf in bed instead of Granny? I mean, it looks really inviting, but I wouldn’t want . ..’
‘Don’t you fret about that, son,’ Granny said decisively,’ time I got me own back for all those sodding banana loaves she keeps bringing me.’
‘Sounds delicious,’ Wolf said politely,’ and promptly fell asleep till morning.
The sound of heavy boots clomping into the cottage woke Victor from deep sleep. The slip and slither of satin sliding across his legs had given him the sweetest of dreams, and he was not as prepared as he should have been for the inquisition which now assaulted him. A girl with spiky black hair and a red cloak was leaning over the bed staring at him in an unfriendly manner.
‘Hey Gran – what’s with the eyes? They’re a sort of funny green.’
‘My dear, not quite so close, your breath’s a little ripe, garlic I think?’
‘And your nose has gone all pointy and sharp.’
‘You’re very personal, I must have a word with your mother.’
‘And oh boy those nashers! Are you using Brillo pads or what? They’re so cool!’
‘Thankfully you’ve just redeemed yourself in time,’ said Wolf, although he’d no intention of eating this obnoxious little girl, as he didn’t want to get blood on his lovely new nightgown. After they’d eaten the banana loaf which Victor found greatly to his liking, he and Marigold had a long talk.
‘Gran won’t be back for ages once she’s in town, so stay round awhile. I so dig your fur,’ Marigold said, stroking the smooth pelt which varied in colour from almost pure white through shades of blond, cream and ochre.
‘And you can do as much of that as you like, young lady.’ Victor was changing his mind about Marigold, who seemed to have far better taste than he’d credited her with. Further searches in the food cupboard revealed twenty-four more banana bread loaves in varying stages of putrefaction, so Victor sent Marigold out into the forest to gather crab-apples, mushrooms and any other tasty berries she could find. Later, he changed into a red silk negligee with lace trimming, and a rather convenient pair of black French knickers, and they lolled in front of the cottage fire swopping life histories and playing cards. ‘Won’t your mother worry where you are?’ Victor imagined a search party who may not be as amenable to his presence.
‘Nah, think I’ve been eaten by a wolf, and only too glad to see the back of me. She’s in with a load of bossy women called Christabel, Emmeline and Silvia. Spend their time arguing, being cross and making placards.’
Soft spring days passed; Victor taught Marigold Gin Rummy and Poker, Marigold trimmed and painted Victor’s nails a beautiful vermilion red. They replaced Granny’s dingy nets with swags of Laura Ashley. Little lambs nestled in front of the fire, wearing matching gingham bootees and suckling on warmed bottles of milk. ‘Guilt is a terrible thing,’ Victor admonished scornful Marigold as he wiped a droplet of milk from one of the lamb’s noses. ‘I have a great moral debt to all the sheep over the years whose clothing we Wolves have borrowed.’
‘Yeah, yeah, shut up and deal. You owe me too,’ said Marigold.
Visitors came to the cottage lured by smells of simmering truffles in brandy, and were offered delicious dishes of young sorrel leaves with cream washed down with crisp white wine. They returned, bringing friends, mistresses, lovers. A young woodcutter came by – ‘he’s got a big chopper,’ Marigold said, and was cuffed by Victor who offered him a job as Maitre d and bouncer. By then they’d turned Granny’s spare room into one for ‘overnight guests’ – Victor would not tolerate brothel.
But much as he enjoyed it, Victor yearned for more. He moved to Paris, changed his name to Virgine and opened his Michelin star restaurant. You’ve probably heard of Virginia Wolf?
Eileen Dickson would LOVE to be a flaneur, but there was too much work ethic when young.
She works for Victim Support, bad-tempered when not writing but distrusts this source.
Written one novel, writing next, co-published three collections of short stories with
Jeeve Publishing www.jeevestories.co.uk. Optimistic.