Non-Fiction

Astra Whitton

The first time you meet the wolf he follows you for six blocks. Like a hesitant stray dog he lingers a few meters behind, scurrying away when cars pass. Trapped in a Coles, you watch him stalk back and forth outside, waiting for you to come out. Just when you’re finally convinced he has turned his tail and left, you leave, and he slinks back, trailing you.

 

Up close his skin is heavily pitted, acne scars only partially hidden by his sunglasses and football cap.

     “Come back to my house. We’ll make a movie. I want you to wear this.” He shoves a frilly red thong in your face.

 

How many ‘No thank-you’s’ does he require? That day it takes seven, and you pay them to him like it’s the only currency you have.

 

The next time you see the wolf he races right past you, panting hard as he jogs in his black activewear. He quickly pulls out his cock, grinning at you like he's just landed the punchline to a sensational joke. The cheeky mutt. You find it almost comical, until your parents make you report it to the police. You have to describe his penis to the male police officer in excruciating detail.

 

     “Do you remember if he was circumcised?”

 

When you meet the wolf again you greet him readily. Don your thick-skinned-quick-tongued armour when you see him coming. You still think his bark is worse than his bite.

 

Rarely does the wolf make an appearance when there’s a man by your side, but sharing another woman’s company is equivalent to blooding his senses. Your friend Claudia doesn't know the wolf so well. She drags you both between his jaws when she tells a drunk man on the tram what she studies.

 

     “Journalism, huh?” The wolf replies, his breath reeking of dark spirits.

He points to you.

 

     “I would have picked her as the one in front of a camera and you as the one with the brains.”

 

You marvel. What a rare talent the wolf has. Twisting an insult into a compliment. But all pretences are dropped when you refuse to tell him where you live.

 

    “You know the thing about women?” the wolf slurs to the young man next to him.

 

     “Women are like piñatas. You can beat the shit out of them, and eventually the truth will come out”.

 

They howl laughing, the wolf and the young man. And although the young man’s laugh seems forced, his teeth look sharp and pointed just the same.

 

At your local health clinic you make an appointment with a wolf.

 

     “Let me guess,” he drawls as you close the door. “You’re here for a pap smear.”

 

You tell him that you don't need one. You only need another prescription.

 

     “Are you sure?” he asks, hunching closer like you are whispering to each other in the stall of a church confessional.

 

You can tell he is judging you, your short skirt, your bright red nail polish. He leans down further, looking you right in the eyes. The wolf can be condescending too.

 

     “Be honest, are you really sure you don't need one?”

The last time you see the wolf you are closing the cafe with your supervisor, David. The same, diffident David who shares your taste in Netflix and dark humour. 

David has surprised you with a Christmas present two years in a row. When David asks you to do a job, he always whispers, “… and then kill them all,” afterwards to make you smile.

 

As you open the door to take the recycling out the wolf rushes inside the empty shop.

 

     “The door is open so the cafe is open. I’m not leaving until I can buy a coffee.” He blusters, all drunken confidence, sweat and a thick Irish accent.

 

You know drunk men, know what they need to hear in order to see reason. Let them think that you’re on their side, that you are their friend. Choose your words wisely.

 

     “Sorry. I’d love to help but I’ve closed the till.”

 

     “Really?”

 

     “Yeah. I have to get home.”

 

The wolf stirs, struggling awake from under the man’s intoxicated stupor.

 

He pauses, “Is it just you here?”

 

Hearing voices, David pops his head out of the office.

 

     “No. Me and my supervisor.”

 

The wolf assesses David. He registers a short Chinese man in glasses, with fine dark hair combed back from his forehead.  

 

   “That guy?” He scoffs. “That guy is your supervisor!?”

 

David is by your side now.

 

     “Yeah. Look, you really have to leave, I’m going to miss the last tram.”

Poor choice of words.

 

     “Where is home then? No wait…I bet I can guess where you live.”

 

What are the odds that the wolf can guess where you live?

 

He gets it on the third try.

 

     “I guessed it, didn’t I? You live in Brunswick!” The wolf is chuffed with himself. He is licking his chops, he is patting himself on the back. He is getting excited. Then the wolf runs his hand down your side, letting it rest a few centimetres below the small of your back.

 

     “Forget the tram. I can give you a ride there.”
 

David stands less than a meter away, doing nothing, saying nothing. His face is frozen with his mouth slightly agape, like a small, stupid fish gulping for air. You are consumed with a terrible, illogical fury at David, at the uselessness of him, standing and watching this unfold. Just look at his stiff ironed shirt, the lame way it’s tucked into this pants. See his scrawniness, his soft hands held awkwardly at his sides.

 

In this moment you want to spit curses at David. You hate him for being this way, for not being what you want right now, for not being a real man. You wish he had rougher hands, sharper teeth.

 

Only later do you realise that you should have been wishing for claws of your own.

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