The Great Wolf


The Great Wolf was before him. Its fur silver, touched by patches of frost and moonlight.

“Teach me to be like you,” he said. “Teach me the way of the lone wolf.”

The Great Wolf’s head cocked to one side as though it did not understand what the man asked.

Then, as the master had instructed, the man placed a rabbit at the wolf’s feet. He then waited. It was a very long time before the Great Wolf even sniffed the rabbit offered. All at once the man questioned his decisions. He thought of the home he had left behind. He remembered how his parents felt like sandpaper when they all slept in the same bed. He remembered that his father had to get out of bed three times every night like clockwork before he could get any sleep. After the third time, he always returned smelling of cigarettes and rain. It was always raining in his memory. His memory was so filled with rain that everything he could think of in his feeble mind was water-logged.

His wife had slept alone as a child, being that she was an orphan. They had once been told if they were ever to have any children of their own they must perform the act of love when it was not raining. For a year and a day, they had waited patiently, waking early in the morning. But it always rained. Sometimes it was a single drop of rain, on other days they rode in boats through the halls of their home. Some days, when they got home from work, the two sat on the couch, counting minutes until water seeped in through the walls or up through the floorboards.

The home had finally collapsed when he left, and his wife and parents were still inside when it had happened. Now and then the man gave a hopeful thought that his father had been outside smoking when the house collapsed, but it was not so. That was the last day he could remember, as though his mind was now too filled to take on any new information. One day he would empty his head of the water taking up the place of memory. The Great Wolf watched the man patiently. The man had traveled a long distance through willowwacks, stopping only to consult the master of the forest for directions to finding the Great Wolf. Further he had gone, deep into the mountains; he went along ancient roads that never saw a city.

The man felt compelled to sit, and he did. The Great Wolf stalked forward, its masses of muscle and fur rippling like moonlight on water.

He felt the heat of the creature’s breath, that dry heat that reminded him of a time when he traveled through Istanbul. The heat that carried with it the Turkish aroma of salt, sea, and roasted lamb and chicken. As the Great Wolf circled round him, he recalled a particular excursion to a mosque. He was not religious but he had wanted to take in the culture of the city. He was reminded of a woman he had seen; her eyes following him through the burka. He thought of this woman because of the way the Great Wolf stalked him; like the way she had stalked him, and then approached him. He had worn shorts that day, shorts that grazed his knees. There had been a question as to whether he should cover his legs. He had been permitted to enter without covering his legs.

The Great Wolf put its jaws to the man’s neck. He felt the sharp points, quivering with an electricity of force. He knew he must not be afraid. The Great Wolf’s tongue flicked across his neck. He was so lost in the memory of that trip that he didn’t even flinch when the Great Wolf snorted a blast of hot air, sending a wave through his hair. He thought of how the woman had the figure of his wife. Then the Great Wolf turned its head sharply, and his body was left without thought.

Kemal Onor completed this work during his graduate studies at Pine Manor College, under the guidance of faculty member Jedediah Berry. He also holds a BFA in writing from Johnson State College, where he worked closely with Jensen Beach.