Title art by L.H. Grey. Featured art by Irene Langholm.
Listen to Suggested Audio
Marc Streitenfeld “Into The Fray”
“Once more into the fray. Into the last good fight I’ll ever know. Live and die on this day”
Little bleeders. I can hear them right now congregating outside my door, huffing and puffing. “Let me in little pig” is their suggestion and seldom have I felt quite so much like a walking bacon sandwich in the lean stakes. Quite what the wolves want with little old me (other than my crispy rinds and back fat), I haven’t the remotest inkle dinkle. I mean, it’s not as though I make a habit of venturing into their territory willy-nilly and, in my list of favorite land mammals, the wolf is right up there in the uppermost tier, proud as can be. So you’d think they’d cut me some slack right? Negative, they’ve likely got the ache over cats pipping them to the top spot; which makes me public enemy number one and, even more disconcertingly, dinner. I’ve tried to explain that I’d make a far more flavorsome entrée but all that did was accelerate my platter status. I never thought I’d utter these words out loud but I’ve never before desired to be a garden salad with such quiet desperation.
The very worst thing you can do is to trespass around the outskirts of their lair, particularly if the alpha gray is on perimeter duties that day. You see, there are few mammals quite so bloody-minded when it comes to guarding their homestead and, the very moment they’ve got you fixed in their furry crosshairs, it’s time to give grandmother a quick face time and tell her to activate dead bolts. Given that they traditionally hunt in packs, chances are, you’ll be snarfed down by sunset and shat back out by dawn. Unless you happen to possess a very particular set of skills, in which case, they’re looking at a full 48-hours of digestion. But make no mistake, they will find you, they will snatch you, and you will be getting your femur licked clean. Dogged would be the appropriate term and it’s no coincidence that domestic dogs hang photos of Kevin Costner in their kennels.
Speaking of which, we need to talk about Kevin. Did you find it bizarre that “Dances With Wolves” never spawned a sequel? Even more curiously, Costner went on to make “The Postman” just a few years later and that’s a canine nightmare just waiting to happen. Talk about punishment glutton. Now I’m not suggesting he’d have fared any better dancing with lions, but perhaps “The Scratch Post Man” would’ve flopped less decisively at the box office. You see, his career slump could’ve been prevented with a pocketful of catnip and a clockwork mouse. But no, that admittedly rather snazzy sheep’s clothing done a number on his agent and Kev always was a brazed harlot for lamb chops. And this is the thing about wolves; they’re canny little buggers and Cosplay happens to be one of their most treasured pursuits. It’s the shepherds I feel sorry for as flock detail becomes a far more dicey endeavor once the black sheep reveals its gray petticoat.
Listen, the last thing I wish to do is bad mouth such a fine and dignified specimen. Indeed, there’s no reason for those huffs and puffs as granny dearest couldn’t right swipe her Android in time thanks to her arthritic tree knots. At least her big bad visitor will wipe its paws on the front doormat before nuzzling into the old girl’s jugular. Alas, it all starts to go a tad skew-whiff once our old friend metaphor comes into play. You see, while their wardrobes do tend to resemble a butcher’s window, it’s not all roast legs of lamb with hasselback potatoes and apricot stuffing. Rather inconveniently, the human pelt also happens to provide a delightfully snug fit for the masquerade. Lana Turner once said that “a gentleman is simply a patient wolf” and some bastard cottoned on as wolves are everywhere you bloody look now. Worse still, they’ve all got smartphones. Some call ’em trolls; I call ’em out on their wolf shit the very second it drops to the snow. Fuckers.
This is where I dispute the term “trolling” as I skim read Three Billy Goats Gruff as a wee bairn and, at no point, did Peter Christen Asbjørnsen mention anything about global rampage. This was a far more intimate affair; over at the bridge of spies and a fair few clicks from prying eyes. Sly deception was the lame game of shame here, and while I appreciate internet trolls can be dab-hands at pulling the wool over our eyes for their own sickly kickers, things are regrettably no longer anywhere near as contained. I feast on your bones not, scout out what’s currently trending and follow the entrail trail. It’s a constant bloodbath. A real red dead gusher. The world has gone barking mad I tell you.
Heaven forbid any celebrity be implicated in unsavory activities as you’ll be torn to the bloodiest of ribbons before you can tweet #DustinHoffmanHasRapeyEyes. Just so there’s no confusion, there are a number of genuine sexual predators in the industry who very much deserve to be fed to the wolves for the vile acts they’ve committed. But Dustin? For real? Dude received his sexual graduation courtesy of Mrs. Robinson for crying out loud. You reckon he would have got his snout in her gusset if he’d have touched her inappropriately without her prior say so? No, he’d have been over her stocking tops with a carpet slipper before you could say “gimme ten bucks on Kramer and five on Kramer”. Turns out that small minds are also fickle minds. And this all reeks rather suspiciously of playground shenanigans. “Psst, Timmy Birdsworth has cooties and his breath smells like snow leopard shit dipped in goose fat… pass it on”. Gotta love those Chinese Whispers right? No actually I grew out of them the very moment they became hurtful.
Don’t even get me started on the tabloid media, paparazzi, politicians, me serving moguls, horrible bosses and all other strains of human rot stanking up our mental allotments with their putrid mulch. It’s not that they’re all crooked, indeed, I’d say Richard Branson has more than earned his hot air balloon ride. Little tip for you Richie boy – go easy on the sandbags next time. Did Phileus teach you nothing? Virgins aside, an unfair lion’s share of the above strains are wolf through and bloody through. Drip drip goes their poison, offshore go their banking details, and they take from us all when their lofty position states they should be giving shit back to their communities. Horribly general I know, but there’s little that bleeds my gums more than insincerity.
And this is the chief point I wish to make this day; whether I live or die couldn’t actually be more redundant to form. Wolves are still beasts of the most handsome order, regardless of any slaughtered lambs worn as truthless tunics by those with pants on fire. Furthermore, since I attained a level of sheer crystallization regarding how loud and proud I live my life, I’m no longer wary of the wolves. This isn’t to suggest I don’t construct my own enclave from down pillowcases and other creature comforts every time I settle for slumber, and yes, one side of the mattress is compact to the wall to afford additional citadel dimensions. But the place I’m snatched away to once the Sandman claims another 5 a.m. groupie is a far cry from wolves lair and doesn’t entail getting saddled with half a dozen dead men’s wallets. Thus I’m frightfully sorry to announce Mr. Big Bad Wolf sir that I’ve decided to live on this day. Then, when night falls and the murky moor mists come rolling in, well that’s what the rabbit hole’s for right?
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