Man And Wolf

Man sits down at a corner table at a tavern, Wolf comes over and sits down next to him.

“You know what you need to do, right?”says Wolf.

Man looks over at Wolf. He’s seen the animal before, but up until now, Wolf has never said anything to him.

Says Wolf a second time, “You know what you need to do, right?”

“I’m sorry,” says Man. “Do I know you?”

The waitress gives him a funny look as she deposits a glass of beer on the table and then walks away.

“Really?” Wolf leans in closer to Man. “Are we really doing this? Are you trying to say you don’t know what I am?”

“You’re a wolf,” says Man.

“Right,” says Wolf. “So stupid. Look, short story is I’m a sacrament. You know what’s a sacrament?”

“Outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual grace?” The catechism surfaces from memory unbidden. “So I should call you Grace?”

“Don’t be ridiculous. Do I look like a Grace to you? Besides, I’m a product of your imagination, so you ought to know I’m male.”

“If you’re my imagination, then you can be a male wolf named Grace. I dub thee Sir Grace.” Man raises his beer glass in mock salute. “Salut, Sir Grace.”

“This is not the time for levity. You know I can rip your throat out, right?” Wolf snarls to reveal long jagged teeth. Man blanches.

“No disrespect,” Man says.

“Now that we’ve settled that,” Wolf says, “You’ll answer the question. You know what to do, right?”

The serrated knife on Man’s belt heats up. He removes it from the sheath but the heat causes him to drop the knife on the table. Man struggles to breathe, his chest grows tight. How could he go through with it? These were innocent people, his friends. He couldn’t do it, couldn’t take up the knife and do what needed to be done. Man lowers his eyes in shame.

“So weak,” Wolf says. “You force my hand.” A whirlwind of teeth and fur tear through the tavern, breaking furniture and bones, rending flesh, blood and beer spattering the walls and floor, leaving Man alone, the eye of the storm.