Monday, March 19, 2012

Writing: Howlers 2

Thought I'd share one more scene from "Howlers." This one pertaining to an older wolf who has been scarred by the world. This is Ben's uncle, a former school teacher who was fired for being a howler. Ben - an agoraphobic teenage wolf mentioned briefly in yesterday's scene - lives with him now. One more note about the tale: This was not written as a romance. It's a character study...on werewolves.

HOWLERS - Uncle Harry's Scene

Uncle Harry liked dusk the best. Few people were out and he could walk the town and stare it down, all in relative peace. He always ended up at the high school, of course. That was the capper. From there the night dissolved into regret. And no one could bottle regret like Harry. He had a wine cellar full of it.

The townsfolk had seen him taking to strolling that summer, when all the kids were being called in for dinner. When the streets were desolate and had their most ardent air of judgment, able to single out the sinners. He’d be seen standing, hands in pockets, just looking at the school. Ben told Aimee that sometimes, after Harry had returned from a walk, he was giddy. Like he was excited about something. It was strange for anyone to think of Uncle Harry giddy when he had always been so good at shitty.

He avoided the other wolves. Most were too flamboyant for him. Too open. Gone were the days when a howler had to hide his true self, afraid of disturbing the populace and being thrown into jail or worse. Yes, it was terrifying to be a wolf in Middle America in those years, but there was something alluring about all the secrecy. A sexy intrigue that the younger generations could never understand. Now the young howlers prowled openly, howled openly. They no longer had to stuff a sock in their mouths under the full moon as they lay wanting in their bedrooms. If they felt it, these days a wolf could howl in the middle of a classroom and not be chastised for it. At least, that’s how Harry had heard it was in the larger cities like New York or San Francisco. He had finally admitted – and it took years – that he was jealous of the progress that had been made in wolf rights. Jealous and ashamed. Ashamed that he hadn’t had the courage to be part of this great change in the nation. Now he watched as his nephew, Ben, was slowly stumbling down the same path as he.

He wanted to howl right there. Right in front of the blasted high school. He wanted to blow out its windows with his breath. He had the rage inside him. He wanted desperately to expel it; to be the Big Bad Wolf and decimate the memories those brick walls held.

There were so many different kinds of monsters in the world. He was one of the lesser ones. Lately, however, he had been feeling a restless energy that would not die.

“You could have been happy there.” A voice from the past lifted into the air with the fading sunlight.

“Alan,” Harry whispered, and with that word he knew he would need the sock tonight. Thinking about Alan always brought the howls on. Alan was the type of painful memory that begat a barb and a blush.

Harry answered to the wind, “I couldn’t go with you, Alan. I had built a life here. I had friends.”

“And they left you when we were discovered together. You were fired and your life blew away. You could have started new with me in San Diego.”

Harry shook his head in defeat. “I couldn’t… I couldn’t.”

And Alan was forbade to talk the rest of the night.

Still, such a memory! If only Alan hadn’t brushed Harry’s hair aside as he stole a kiss between classes – and if only Mrs. Gravy hadn’t been walking by at that very moment to see Harry’s pointed ears – things might have continued as deliciously secret for quite some time. But once Harry saw Adele Gravy, a gossiping hellcat if ever there was one, he knew his career was over. No parent wanted their child being taught by a howler in those days, let alone two of them in a relationship. He was let go without incident the very next day. Alan was decidedly less quiet about it (he trapped a pit bull in Mrs. Gravy’s office), but soon left as well.

Uncle Harry often wondered if he had fought for his job, if he and Alan had stayed together, would Ben have had an easier time of things? Perhaps that was the biggest tragedy of the whole situation; he had let his nephew down. He had let his kind down. He should have seen the change coming. Change always comes, and mostly it ends in progress. Mostly it’s for the better.

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