When the Moon Hits Your Eye
The Wolfman needed a haircut. He was all brambly and rumbled and disheveled and it wasn’t even “that time of the month.” It wouldn’t do.
It isn’t altogether easy to get a haircut if you are the Wolfman, you know. You can’t just stroll in off the street and sit in a chair and tell a barber or a stylist that you’d like something new and edgy. It doesn’t work like that.
Especially if you’ve been more wolf than man since, oh, who knows how long?
The Wolfman searched his memory. Surely he’d grown up with human brothers, brothers who all chased after the one with the ball to end up in a snarling, snapping, laughing mass on the ground? Or did they have tails and stand-up ears and sharp, white teeth even then? Had he snuggled up with them alongside their mother’s warm flank, burrowed into a den inside the musky earth?
He’d had a date with the lady across the hall last night. Hadn’t he? He seemed to remember an itchy sweater, hairy hands on a fork, a big dish of what was it – something with noodles, the mesmerizing flicker of candles on the table. Was that all he remembered? Did he remember hot blood, clattering dishes, leaping across the street all shiny with rain and slick with reflected light, running in great bounds and laughing, howling with laughter?
Or maybe thinking such thoughts was merely a way to reconcile the grass stains and the mud and the blood all down the front of his favorite shirt. Was it his favorite shirt? Did he have favorite clothing?
The Wolfman contemplated his appearance in the mirror—cracked—over the sink. Perhaps a haircut and a manicure, both. His nails (claws) looked a bit ragged, too. Somewhere in there was a man. Beneath all the hair, the paws, the pointed teeth, the nose that could smell, even from the third floor, that the neighbor’s Airedale bitch was in heat, underneath all that was a man, surely?
The Wolfman stepped out onto the sidewalk. He couldn’t remember where he’d left his car. He’d walk. He’d find a place with low lights and bleary-eyed women. The night was young.
Red and Blue
Halloween night so of course no one is surprised to see ghosts.
This part of the street is shut down to motor traffic and if you’ve bought tickets, you can trick-or-treat at the bars for specialty shooters and mixed drinks that smoke. If you don’t have tickets, you can spend your money but it’s not the same. I should have stayed home. My heart isn’t in it, it’s all wrong this year. The college kids, they keep getting younger, I keep staying the same.
I see my reflection in the double glass doors of the Underground. I look mysterious in the glassy reflection, you can see streetlights through my torso. I pose, tilting my head coquettishly. I don’t feel like going in. I’m out of tickets, have been for a while now. Money too.
A police siren wails nearby, a couple streets over I guess. People are saying there was a car-versus-pedestrian.
I’m surprised to see Denny across the street, it’s been a long time. He’s even more surprised to see me. He half waves, uncertain. He moves his head like a bird of prey, looking around like he’s just noticed something. I step into the street. The oncoming car doesn’t honk, doesn’t hit brakes at all, it’s like the driver hasn’t even seen me. Denny flinches, throws up his hands. I’m standing next to him when he opens his eyes again.
He looks at me closely. He looks back in the direction of the splashing red and blue lights, visible through the alley. He looks down at his body, at the sidewalk.
“No way, man,” Denny says. “No way.”
It takes getting used to.
A Fine Trade
“You can click those things together until Hell freezes over, but they won’t get you home,” the shop owner says.
I’m embarrassed to have been caught trying. The ruby-red slippers appeared way too small when I first lifted them from the spangled dresser. As soon as they were in my hands, the urge to try them on was so strong I was sure they were enchanted—and as if they were, they seemed to stretch to a size I might wear. So of course I tried them on, and of course I had to click my heels together. I didn’t say the magic words, maybe that was the problem.
I have a momentary panic when the left shoe doesn’t want to come off at first.
“Doesn’t matter,” I say, “I don’t want to go home, I want to go to Cozumel.”
Do I want to go to Cozumel? The farthest I’ve been from Missouri is Florida.
“They hurt my feet,” the shop owner says.
I put the ruby-red slippers back on the spangled dresser.
“But they seem to fit you,” he says. “Short-sighted not to think about a way you can always get home when you need to.”
“You just said they won’t get me home.”
“You must not need to get home. Otherwise, they’d have worked within the first few clicks. It doesn’t take 40, you know. Keep browsing, see what else I’ve got. Name’s ‘Stoffolees, if you have any questions.”
“Is that Greek?” I tend to ask stupid questions.
The shop owner gives me a wicked smile. He’s a dead-ringer for the lawn gargoyle out in front of the store. “Maybe you have something to sell,” he says, raising an inquiring eyebrow. Something flutters in my throat and I have an irrational fear it’s my soul.
“Magnificent,” Stoffolees says, and totters away up the aisle, his feet tiny enough to be goat hooves and I wonder why I’ve come in here when I have somewhere else to be, and why this odd, old man makes me feel like I should hide my head under the covers somewhere.
In the end, I buy a calligraphy set that comes with a small vial of blood-red ink. “Try it out,” the weird little man urges me, “write your name here in this guest book.”
Ivy Faust, I write. The shop owner, Stoffolees, whoever, beams and pats me on the back and congratulates me on a fine trade, and says he’ll see me soon. It’s only as I get into my car do I realize I’ve given him no money, and feel a nascent flutter of fear that I’m missing something important.
Epiphany Ferrell lives on the edge of the Shawnee Forest in Southern Illinois. Her stories appear in more than 50 journals and anthologies, including Ghost Parachute, Dream Noir, Best Microfiction, and other places. She is a two-time Pushcart nominee, and the 2020 Prime Number Magazine Flash Fiction Prize recipient. She’s on Facebook and Twitter, and at epiphanyferrell.com.