Sunday, March 18, 2012

Writing: Howlers

I have been working and re-working a werewolf story for the past couple of years. I had high hopes at the beginning, but it just never came together. It's easy to see similarities between werewolves and gay people, but I was just clobbering readers over the head...and without really meaning to. Finally, I realized the story as a whole would never see the light of day. Yet there are some decent scenes. I thought I'd share one of those scenes with you today.

From "Howlers": Blake is the once popular kid who has come back from college to his hometown on the eve of his high school's demolition. He's accepted that he's a howler now, and this has put him at odds with those who once saw him as the Golden Boy. Hal is a feral wolf who Blake plays around with. They are up on the hills above town partying with other wolves and a few open-minded "normal" kids.


It took a few days, but Blake finally convinced Regina Maria to come to Breakers Point with him and Aimee Jean. Aimee, on the other paw, didn’t need any convincing at all. (“Sure. Nothing else to do.”) Besides, she’d been there before. But Regina, with her staunch outlook on set social cliques, didn’t at first want to be seen heading up the hill with a howler and the town’s resident Daria.

“Who’s going to see ya?” Blake asked. “It’ll be night, and you’ll have a good time. Better than hanging out here in town or swinging on that tree. Be bad, just this once.”

Regina gave in eventually, citing that it was true she was getting a bit bored with her parents. And so three mismatched souls went up the hill one evening. Sounds like a nursery rhyme, but this is no kid’s tale.

“You sure you don’t wanna come?” Blake had said to Ben earlier in the day. His visits were becoming frequent, if short. Uncle Harry was pleased.

But Ben declined the invite.

All the way up the hill Blake carried on two separate conversations with both Aimee and Regina. The two girls themselves didn’t say a word to each other. Aimee walked easy-like, her arms swinging at her side, her rainbow skull cap ever fixed to her head, and Regina walked arms folded and uncomfortable, as if she was holding in her guts.

Hal Andrews, that swarthy flirt and mutt, swaggered over to Blake and the girls when they mounted the hill.

“Hey Blake.” Hal eyed Mr All-America as if he were a meal. “What did you bring for us?”

Blake smiled playfully. “What’s up, Hal?” It was clear to the girls that there was a history between the two. It would have been clear to a woodchuck. “This is Aimee, and this is Gina.”

A small group of wolves was gathered in a pack under the trees, and they went quiet. A few couplings and smaller groups dotted the surroundings. Not everyone was a wolf, but they all eyed the girls – especially Regina – with some unease until Hal offered her a beer. She took it with a polite smile, her condescending manner still very much in tact.

They sat under Blake’s favorite tree, the one over-looking the town with limbs like frantic, frightened appendages. Hal lay on his side, propped up by his arm, his dark hair tussling with his long lashes, his tongue playing obscenities with the beer bottle while he looked at Blake.

“Ladies.” Hal refocused his attention. “I’ve seen you both around.”

“I don’t remember ever seeing you,” Regina stated, trying to regain her air of superiority. She was taking furious gulps of beer.

“I dropped out of school years ago. Live here in the hills now. Sometimes I’ll take up in one of the old warehouses. I get down…Get down to town every now and then.” He glanced to Blake again. “I can’t seem to assimilate as well as our wolfen stud here.”

“It’s not a matter of assimilation,” Aimee chimed in. “It’s decimation: Avoid East Madison at all costs. It’ll decimate your soul.”

Hal got it and he said so. “I like this sheep.”

“I’m no sheep, lamb chops,” she said, taking a drink.

“Town isn’t that bad,” defended the queen.

“Well, it wouldn’t be for you, would it?” Hal said. The growl in his throat was more fierce when he said this.

Before the pretty princess could respond to this apparent insult, the rumble of three-wheelers roared up the hill accompanied by careless and drunken hoots and hollers. Town ruffians are always embarrassing, but they’re even more so when they try and imitate a wolf’s cry. The scattered pack of true wolves and those guests they had with them stood and readied themselves for another wolf bashing. Hal and Blake joined the main group. Aimee stayed where she was. Regina crawled off to watch from the shadows of the trees. The ruffians made up of a group of six or seven.

“Fuckin’ howlers!” they cried.

“Have some meat,” one yelled, throwing an animal carcass at the group.

The two three wheelers made circles around the pack, trying to find the weakest of the lot. They chose a particularly awkward-looking young wolf to make sport of, tearing at his clothes as they repeatedly zipped past him. When another howler would try to protect the skinny little fellow they would nearly be run over. After a couple of savage passes, the young wolf was tired and dizzy, and it didn’t take much to make him fall on his face.

At last, one of the wheeled bullies screamed “Road kill!” and charged his vehicle at the defeated howler who now lay nearly naked on the ground. The driver might have succeeded in killing the poor guy if Blake hadn’t stepped in. He reached into the wheelie, pulling the driver out with brute strength. The wheelie careened sideways amidst the screaming of the two other occupants.

Blake threw the driver to the ground and gave one smashing blow to his face. Blood sprayed like a fountain from a broken nose. Blake roared into the driver’s face, bearing his teeth, and the driver screamed at the sight of the massive canines.

“Don’t eat me!” he pleaded.

The two other occupants of the wheelie had quickly climbed from the flipped vehicle and ran down the hill after the other wheelie which had raced away at the first sign of danger. Ruffians, it is widely known, are cowards at heart. Many of them are caved wolves themselves.

The driver screamed again at the profuse amount of blood his face was gushing, and jumped to his feet, running after his friends. Blake howled to the moon and it echoed through the town. The other howlers took up the chorus, and six young men of East Madison, thinking a pack of wolves was leased upon them, shit their pants as they ran or rode away.

The skinny, awkward howler was helped up by the pack, given a jacket and a beer, and welcomed to the big fireside like a hero. Soon, comfortable laughter could be heard on Breakers Point once more.

When Blake and Hal rejoined Aimee where they had left her they did not immediately see Regina. Aimee nodded sideways to the trees and took a drink of beer.

“You can come out, Gina,” Blake said. “Everything’s fine.”

“Yeah,” said Hal. “You don’t have to worry about anyone recognizing you now.”

Regina came from the shadow. “I wasn’t worried about that.” Indignation, pure indignation.

“And Blake’s not gonna eat you either.” Hal tossed her a cynical glance as he took up another beer. “He’s all filled up on road kill.”

“I don’t like you very much!”

He just stared at her until she finally sat down closer to Aimee Jean than she had ever done in school. “I don’t understand,” she whispered. “Why would those boys treat that kid like that?”

Things had settled down now. The night was once again quiet.

“Because he’s a wolf,” Blake said, positioning himself in a comfortable lean against Hal’s chest. “There are all kinds of reasons people come up with to not like someone else. Most of those reasons have nothing to do with anything real. It’s about superiority.”

Regina refused to look at Hal. “There’s a difference between thinking something and hurting someone,” she said.

“Is there?” Hal said. “Does your daddy tell you that? Whose god says so?”

“It’s all God’s doing in the first place,” Aimee interjected.

“How?” Regina seemed not so much shocked as interested.

“He’s hands-off, you see.” She scratched an itch behind her left ear under her skull cap. “He watches everything with apathy. He’s been there for so long – forever – that he gets bored very easily. I think he enjoys the strife. That’s what’s gonna get him destroyed in the end. He’s strifing himself right out of existence. People wonder how a god could allow all this shit to go down, and after a while, after all these lunatic preachers can’t give them any solid answers, they just stop believing in God.”

“What do you think of that, Aimee?” Blake asked.

“I say good riddance. If there is a god, I’m gonna beat the asshole up when I finally meet him.”

“Like I said, I like this sheep.” Hal smirked.

Aimee stretched out a leg and kicked him in the foot. “I ain’t no sheep.”

“Well, it’s a very sad theory, Aimee,” Regina said. “Why has everything gotten so sad? So depressing? Why can’t it be like it was?”

“Be like it was for who?”

“For all of us!”

“Well, that would be perfect, wouldn’t it?” Blake smiled. “And there are very few moments that are perfect.”

She nodded as she sipped at her beer and a single tear fell from her eyes.

“A howl at midnight is perfect.” Hal’s voice seemed less inclined to spite for the first time. He watched Regina as she sniffed.

“Dancing naked around a bonfire is perfect,” Blake said. He leaned in and bit Hal’s bottom lip.

“Raaaahr,” Hal agreed.

Regina laughed, her head still bent to her beer.

“A bike ride through the empty halls of East Madison High is pretty perfect,” Aimee admitted.

“What’s perfect for you, Gina?” Blake asked.

She waited a moment. “I don’t know anymore.”


  1. Give it some time and some distance...You'll see.

  2. The writing was good but there wasn't enough happening that i could see, no perceivable plot unfolding. It's almost like one of those scenes you ask yourself if you really really need it to further the story. Maybe it is and it just isn't visible to me since I haven't read anything else, that's obviously a call you have to make. But if you just wanted opinion on your writing craft, it was good. Your dialog and tags flowed well. Another reason it may have been hard for me to get into this scene is the lack of point of view, the omniscient voice. If you could find a character to tell this scene through, it would make it feel more real. For me anyway.

  3. Thank you :-) I write in the omniscient voice quite a bit. I know not a lot of writers do that anymore, but I'm comfortable with it. Of late, I have started writing POV. My novel GALLEY PROOF, published in January, was written in first person.