Officer Hogsworth and Officer Hamlin on break, idle cruiser purring in an urbanscape of tenements and malnourished scrub.
Wolftown. All the big baddies. Plywood windows. Furry figures clinging to shadow, gold-eying the pork-po.
“All’s I’m sayin, it’s a nasty habit,” says Hogsworth to his partner, snout going twitch twitch.
Hamlin ogles his sandwich, dribbles a dollop of mayo on his greasy trousers. “Who don’t like bacon?”
“S’unnatural. Makin’ me sick trapped in this car with y’ass.”
“Ain’t nobody doesn’t like bacon, jus’ see.”
Hamlin leans out the driver’s side window, flaps half a sandwich like a race track flag. “Hey, howlers. Come get some. Free dinner. That’s the type of dinner you all prefer, right?”
No takers, just some shuffling movement next to a broken concrete stoop.
Hamlin spies a wolf down the way, young one, dark gray snout lowered, striding all casual like “don’t notice me.”
The officer whistles, pulls his cap up. “You! Lil’ howler! Come over ‘ere a minute.”
Young wolf does a double take, sort of half-steps as though he might still make an escape.
Hamlin waves a hoof, real impatient. “Fuckin’ kid’s actin’ real skittish,” he stage whispers to his partner, who, for his part, just sighs and pulls his cap low.
To the wolf, Hamlin says, “You like bacon, don’t you, howler? Juicy, streaky bacon. That make you go Pavlov?”
Young Wolf looks like he’s just been asked the most difficult math problem, unsolvable arithmetic.
“Should I speak slower, howler?”
“Please don’t call me that, officer.” Young wolf keeps his lips loose over his teeth, no threat. It makes his words sound blunted.
“‘Please don’t’…you serious right now? Hoggie, you hearin’ this? Howler has opinions.”
“I don’t mean any disrespect, sir.”
Hamlin plops his wet sandwich on the dash, steps out of the car.
Officer Hogsworth straightens up, then follows.
“Paws on the car.”
“What did I—“
“Get the fuck against the car and spread those furry ass legs.”
Young Wolf obliges. He ensures his tail stays curled down and his chest light.
Folks in the tenements take note. Someone shouts “Fuck you, porkie!” From a broken window arcs an empty bottle of Red Riding. It smashes at Hamlin’s feet. Wolves of black, white, and grey, of ages pup to bearded, slam out of swinging doors and slink from around corners.
The air is humid with danger.
Young Wolf must sense this, the path leading deeper into the wood: back-up gets called, billy clubs go thwack, blood courses in the gutters. Young Wolf has the air to make it stop, a voice like a bellows.
He takes a deep breath, a shouting breath, a chest-of-thunder breath—
“He’s huffing!” Officer Hogsworth cries, panicked.
Pop, pop, pop. The gun sizzles in Officer Hamlin’s hooves, three holes drilled in Young Wolf’s burgeoning breast.
Under the silent stares of those assembled, there is but one sound: a hiss of air, young wolf’s final puff, expiated helplessly from the crimson ground.
ISAAC MENUZA is an author of speculative fiction and horror. He lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife, three children, and whatever slimy critters his son detains for temporary imprisonment. Find him on Twitter @Imenuza and at isaacmenuza.com.