weekly irregular dose of fabulous1 fiction
Week #28 - That Wolf Dream Again
Friday, 08 Aug 2008 22:12
When I first thought up the idea for this one I had in mind a far less silly tone, but it just didn't come out when I sat down to write. The ending is a bit rushed, I think, but that's how things go sometimes in the story-a-week business.
Interestingly, I read the wiki article on shih-tzus after the story was already mostly done, and it turns out they are one of the oldest dog breeds, and thus genetically closer to wolves than a lot of other dogs.
My family had a shih-tzu named Snoopy (he was given to us and came pre-named) and he lived to be almost 18 years old.
That Wolf Dream Again
"So I had that wolf dream again last night. That's four or fives nights in a row. I've lost count."
My hand lingered over the plastic cups of puddings while I decided between butterscotch and chocolate.
"Did you fall asleep on your couch with the Discovery channel on?" asked Marc. He took a chocolate pudding without any hesitation and put it on his cafeteria tray. I decided to grab butterscotch.
"Nope. I always have them in the wee hours. When I woke up from this one last night it was almost four."
We carried our trays to the table where Rachel was sitting.
"Tony's been dreaming about wolves," Marc said, grabbing a chair beside Rachel. I thought they might be sleeping together but hadn't asked either of them about it.
"Every night, the past few nights. I have no idea what my brain's trying to tell me."
Marc said, while pouring sugar into his coffee, "I'll tell you what it means — it means you aren't getting laid enough."
"That's pretty much your answer for everything," I pointed out.
"Think about it. A wolf is a lone hunter, chasing its prey, heart racing. It's totally about sex."
Rachel rolled her eyes. "Oh great metaphor. Wolves hunt in packs and they chase down animals that are old, sick or weak."
"Maybe Tony likes 'em old."
"It isn't about anything," I said to them.
One day, I'll learn not to talk with my coworkers about anything other than work stuff. Each time he passed by my cubicle that afternoon, Marc made a wolf howl noise.
The wolf howls in my dream that night sounded much more authentic. The setting was in the clearing of a forest. Trees and rocks, evergreens, all very boreal. I guess it was my campsite because while I had no tent, there was a blazing campfire in the centre. The light from the flames made all sorts of weird shadows at the ring of trees.
The howling grew louder and shapes were moving around the outskirts of my clearing. I had the sense that the setting of the dream was prehistoric. Nearby was the cave where I normally slept. I could be there in minutes if I were brave enough to run for it.
The howling turned to barking and I saw yellow eyes where the clearing gave way to trees.
I backed up until I could feel the fire against my back. One of the wolves stepped into the clearing. I've no idea how big wolves are in real life — the size of a large dog? This one seemed like it was the size of a horse. Its face was nearly level with mine.
I heard a yelping noise, looked down, and saw between my legs a wolf pup. It was flattened down in classic downward dog pose. It's shiny eyes were looking at its mother.
I woke up.
I woke up to the phone ringing, momentarily startled to find myself lying on my own futon. The cordless was on the coffee table and I had to roll almost onto my belly to be able to reach it without getting up.
"Stevey, it's your mother."
In the background, I could hear a dog yapping. I guessed it was probably Slim — named after General William Joseph Slim, who commanded Britain's 14th Army it the later stages of the World War Two. My father was a World War Two buff.
"Listen dear, I need you to look after Slim and Bernie for a few days. Your father and I need to fly down to Florida."
Bernie was named after General Bernard Montgomery, who won the Second Battle of El Alamein, an important early victory for the Allies. I liked to call the dog Monty, when mom wasn't in earshot.
"You guys were just down there two weeks ago."
"I know, but the bloody condo association is voting on a motion to replace Saturday night line dancing with a bingo night. It's a surprise vote. They just sent us an email about this morning. Do this for your mother, Stevey."
I didn't bother asking which option they were voting for.
"Why can't you take the dogs with you?"
"They were just on a plane. Flying stresses them out, so. We have a show coming up."
Mom and dad were dog breeders. It started off as a hobby for mom, but eventually blossomed into a full-time business. If you owned a Japanese Akita in Western Canada, chances are it came from my parents' puppy mill ;they hated when I called it that. When they retired a few years ago, they sold the business and kept two dogs, Slim and Bernie, my mom's two favourite shih-tzus.
I knew from history there was no way my mom's babies were going to spend even ten minutes in a kennel.
I was talking to Marc on the phone. Our cubicles were about a dozen rows apart but he still always used the phone.
"So we'll go out after work and grab some beers and —"
"Sorry dude," I told him, "I can't make it tonight."
"Got a date?"
"No, just some errands to take care of."
"Errands? Come on. Screw errands. You don't take errands over beers."
"Aren't you doing something with Rachel tonight?"
"Rachel? No, it's girls' night with her friends."
They were sleeping together! But I wanted to get out of the conversation with Marc so I explained to him about the shih-tzus and how they had to be walked right after work. Even then, it was pushing it. I had strict instructions; the dogs couldn't eat for an hour after their walk was finished (otherwise it's hard on their digestion) and they had to eat at least four hours before their bedtime to ensure they slept properly.
"So you're going to walk your mutts instead of having beers with me? This is what you're telling me?"
"They aren't mutts. They're purebreeds. Show dogs. The emperors of China kept them as pets." What was I saying?
Marc ended the call with a "Whatever, dude."
I was a few steps ahead of Slim and Bernie before I realized they'd stopped following me. I turned around and reached into my pocket for the Safeway bag I'd brought with me, thinking they'd stopped to do some business. But the two of them had plunked their butts down on the sidewalk, on the other side of the puddle I'd simply stepped over.
"C'mon guys. What's the problem."
I gave a little tug on their leashes. Slim whined a bit and they both stayed put.
"It's just a puddle. You can get your feet wet. You're dogs. You're hunters. Wolves aren't afraid to get their feet wet."
Mom had little rubber boots that she put on their paws when it was wet outside, but I hadn't been able to find them. I gave the leash another tug. Bernie tilted his head and looked at me with deep, brown eyes. I'm sure he was thinking, "Why are you doing this to us?"
"Your ancestors wouldn't have hesitated to run through a puddle. And they wouldn't have been caught dead wearing little doggie rubber boots."
Slim whimpered and hunkered down.
"Geez. You guys are named after war heroes. Generals."
We stared down each other for a while. Someone across the street doing yardwork stopped their raking to watch us. I sighed and picked them up, one under each arm, and carried them over the puddle. When I set them down on the other side, they barked happily and began prancing down the sidewalk.
The same dream: the forest, the clearing and the wolf howls. I knew safety was only a short dash through the forest but I also knew, after the dreaming the same dream so many times, that I was surrounded.
When the enormous wolf entered the clearing, I looked down. This time, at my feet, instead of a wolf cub were Slim and Bernie. They were wearing their rubber boots.
I took a step forward, to put myself between the wolf and the two shih-tzus. They started to whimper and cry. Keeping my eyes on the wolf (but avoiding eye contact), I knelt down and picked up my mom's dogs, in case I had to run for it. The wolf snarled and then said to me, "What have you done to us? We're wolves."
I thought it sort of sounded like Johnny Cash, which is odd because I don't even much care for his music.
I woke up to Slim sitting beside me on my bed, licking my face. This was how he let you know he had to go outside. My alarm clock read 3:27am.
I had another dream that night, this one closer to dawn. I had an overhead view, one that my brain had probably lifted from a nature program. I was high over a rocky plain at dusk, and over the stones and scrub a pack of wolves were chasing a small group of deer. One of the deer stumbled and the rest of them kept running.
My view swept downwards as the wolves caught up and surrounded the slowpoke deer. This is the part in the nature program where I usually changed the channel, but the dream kept going.
I was close enough to see the wide, terrified eyes of the deer. One of the wolves snarled and lept at the deer, only it wasn't a wolf, it was Slim. Bernie followed right after and the rest of the wolves charged in. I awoke just as the deer was disappearing under a pile of barking wolves.
The next morning, I knew what I had to do. After breakfast, I drove to one of the conservation areas with Bernie and Slim and led them into the forest away from the parking lot. While they were sniffling around with a nervous curiousity, I told them, "You're free! You're not meant to be pets. You're supposed to be wolves, running with your pals, hunting. We wrecked you guys when we domesticated you. It wasn't fair at all."
They looked at me, and I think they understood because they didn't follow me back to my car.
I think a family having a picnic found them a few hours later; Bernie and Slim have those tattooed barcodes inside their ears that identify them. You can't imagine how much shit I caught from my mom.
4 responses to "Week #28 - That Wolf Dream Again "
Erinn the Bold wrote:
Monday, 11 Aug 2008 07:01
I don't think they wanted to be free at all.
Anonymous Reader wrote:
Wednesday, 20 Aug 2008 07:40
I don't think those dogs would have lasted a day in the real wild.
Thursday, 04 Sep 2008 18:55
I'm catching up! I enjoyed this one but it does disturb me a bit that he'd let them loose - common sense says they definitely wouldn't last long.
Wednesday, 27 May 2009 14:12
I thought the ending of your story was just hilarious.