Tony’s Halloween: Late Home

It’s starting to gather down to dusk, the world smudging and blurring like a finger brushed charcoal painting. And still there’s no footsteps coming along the path and no key turning in the door. Where is he?

I try his phone again; still it goes to his insane
(Hey, hey, hey! Try again later!)
voicemail, and I leave another message. Ten seconds after I hang up, I’m at the window. When I open it, the chilled night air rushes to me like a cloying relative at a funeral, eager to console me with its coldness.

I slam the window closed. Pace back and forward, an animal
(wolf)
in a cage. Hating about what I’m doing, I’m about to dial the police when I hear footsteps outside, the crunch of gravel. I drop the phone and beat Gerry to the door, throwing it open and my arms around him before he’s more than a shape before me, almost screaming into his ear about much I was worried, where was he, what’s going on, what’s happened.

But his arms aren’t going around me in return, only hanging limp at his sides, and he’s not answering me. I take a step back and look at him, my husband of three months standing on the doorstep of our home as though he’s a stranger.

“Gerry?”

A thousand yard stare, no recognition. His new coat is torn and there’s something
(blood?)
on his shirt, smudged. His tie is gone.

“Gerry, honey, you’re scaring me. What’s happened, baby?”

I take his hand and pull him inside, trying to tell myself that the sticky wetness on his hand is not blood, no it’s not, not at all, no way, and that’s not the metallic coppery smelltaste of it making my nostrils flare.

Gerry moves forward enough so I can close the door behind him, and I slam a hand on the hall light, showering him with brightness.

He’s covered in it. Drying to burgundy and maroon, on his coat, his hands, his
(mouth!)
face and neck.

Still the stare doesn’t see me, even when I start to strip the clothes from his body, tearing the coat away, then the shirt, my hands growing sticky as I fumble across his muscles. No injuries; the blood isn’t his, anyway.

I’m not sure this is a good thing, but he still doesn’t answer me when I ask him what’s happened. Dear God, Gerry, have you
(killed someone?)
done something?

He’s down to his boxers when he finally moves, responding to the intimacy of my fingers if nothing else. He grabs my hands tight, finally breaks eye contact with the horizon and stares at me.

“Lou?”

My hand caresses his cheek, trying not to see the blood on his
(teeth)
face.

“Yes, it’s me. Talk to me, Gerry. What’s happened?”

He shakes his head, looking down at himself. “I did…something. I need…”

“Need what, baby? Come on. Let’s get you showered, okay? Cleaned up, get that
(evidence)
mess off you.”

“No. I need.” He inhales. “I need to see the news.”

I blink. It can’t be… “What? The news can wait, let’s -”

He squeezes my hands a little tighter, then releases them and turns towards the den. “No. The news. Right now.”

He shuffles out of his pants, kicking them away, putting a hand on the wall to balance, leaving a bright burgundy handprint on the cream wall.
(We painted that wall together, argued over the color, that was the only thing we argued over, the color, now look what he’s done)
But Gerry isn’t done leaving drying bloodstains over everything. He stumbles into the den and reaches across the white sofa, leaving a scream of red on the arm as he picks up his tablet. No doubt I’ll get the job of cleaning all this up before
(the police come with forensics)
the night is out.

Gerry falls into the sofa, scrolling with a stained finger, smearing it over the cream of the tablet in his hands. I open my mouth to ask what he’s looking for, but he raises his finger for quiet.

I settle for sitting next to him and watching him scroll. Zookeepers are puzzled about an apparent wolf attack on a bear yesterday โ€“ But he skims and reads past the story and several similar ones, dated about a month apart, stretching back three months or so. I realise he’s filtered the stories down to wolf and attack.

He shakes his head and drops the tablet on the end table. “Nothing. Nothing at all. Must be too early. Maybe they haven’t found him yet.”

“Found who?”

“I can’t…can’t…”

My slap on his cheek startles him back to some sort of sense. “Listen, Gerry, if you screwed up tonight, I need to know. Right now. Where’s the car?” I squeeze his shoulder tight enough for him to want to wriggle away, but I only tighten the grip. I’ve dealt with bigger
(animals)
men than Gerry.

“Chambers Park. That’s where it happened.”

What happened?” I need to hear him say it, then we can move forward. Maybe. I’ll come to what happens if we can’t get past this when I have to.

When Gerry hesitates, I slap him again, leaving a red welt on his cheek. He raises a hand to rub it, but I have his complete attention. He begins to speak.

“I was cutting across the park after work to get to the car. Such a beautiful sunset…I stood there to watch it settle in the ocean for a minute. People walking past, some of them watching the sunset with me. But then…then a man walked by. Nothing different about him…but…but. Oh, God, the smell. I can’t…can’t describe it. Most amazing thing…it’s the craziest thing I’ve ever felt. I wanted to chase after him and smell him more. Taste him. Lick the smell from his skin. God, it made…made me so horny. I’ve never felt so turned on in my life.”

I can see the memory stirring him through his boxers as he speaks, and I give him an intimate squeeze of encouragement. “Go on.”

“I started to follow him. It wasn’t hard…he was like…like a bright light in a dark room. Everyone else was grey, and he was bright yellow. And his smell just kept getting stronger and stronger. I had…I had to have him.”

He shudders in pleasure. My fingers haven’t left his boxers, and they continue their slow massage.

He closes his eyes and continues. “He turned into a secluded pathway. I knew where he was going, could trace his route…I dove into the bushes, onto all fours, snuffling along. It wasn’t like the movies…I mean, I didn’t turn into a wolf or anything…”

There’s the word I’m looking for. I lean over him and take the tablet while he talks. “Go on,” I prompt again, returning my fingers to his boxers.

“…I got ahead of him on the path. Oh, the smell of him, that aroma…” He stiffens as his desire increases. “I…jumped out…started to tear…to rip…oh, God, the smell of his blood drove me into a…a…frenzy. My mouth was on his throat. His throat, the pulse of him just under the surface, and…and I bit. I bit and I tore and he went down and I drank him down, drank the sweet blood, ripped open his ribcage with my fingers and ate…oh, Jesus, Louise, what are you doing?”

His recital has excited me and my hand has been moving faster. Unwillingly, I pull it back, needing to stay focused. I turn my attention back to the tablet and move away an inch. “I’m…I’m sorry, Gerry. I should have told you earlier.”

“Told me what?”

I bite my lip. “When we got married, the first night, our honeymoon. I…I bit you.”

“You…bit…me? You mean you’re a…?”

I show him the news story he skipped. Zookeepers are puzzled about a wolf attack on a bear yesterday. The wolf appears to have scaled a fifteen feet wall and to have torn out the throat of the bear, then escaped the same way.

“That was you?”

I nod. “I’m sorry. And the attack the month before. I try to attack wild animals. Zoo ones if I’m really…stuck. They are endangered, after all, most of them. The police don’t get as suspicious with wild animals.”

Things start to click together for him. “So every month, when you say you have that knitting circle, you’re…?”

I nod.

“When…when were you planning on telling me this?”

“Well, I didn’t think the stories about biting were true, you see. I did wait until we were married. It was either that or tear your throat out the first time I…smelled…you. The first time we were together…I nearly killed you while you slept.”

“I don’t…I don’t know what to say…”

I try to still my rising desire, the urge to bite and claw. But the scent of that drying blood is driving me wild, the thought of licking it from his body…

I snuggle closer to him and breathe into his ear, returning my hand to between his thighs. “That sensation you had as you…bit and…tore. Sweetie…you should try it when I’m beside you. Or beneath you. God, you smell so good right now.”

I should really be fetching the car and scrubbing the blood from the walls, but Gerry’s breathing accelerates and his voice slows, his eyes close and his head rolls back. “Oh, yeah…tell me more about that…ripping…and tearing…”

I decide that fetching the car can wait a while, after all.

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