Whelpless No More
True-to-life coulda-been-but-wasn’t inspiration for this story here.
Silence filled the car.
Though right beside him, Lizzy was far, far away. She gazed out the window, her thoughts were neither on the bright full moon above nor on the dark forests running alongside the road beneath, Rather, they were nowhere in particular. In the place of conscious thoughts instead were emotions, plenty of emotions. Anger, remorse, disappointment, shame, and yet, even a lingering hope.
Randy focused all of his energies on safely steering home, through deep woods that surrounded the city. Though somewhat new to marriage, he knew well enough to not interrupt his wife’s thoughts. But he also was consumed with thoughts of his own — thoughts betrayed by his unyielding grip on the wheel.
The couple had just learned from their doctor that they would not be able to become parents. Like the silence in the car, the void of a child in their family would likely not ever be filled.
“Stop the car!” Lizzy shouted suddenly. “Pull off! I saw something!”
Randy overreacted to his wife’s plea and nearly careened into the ditch. He managed to keep control, and with her added guidance, pulled on to the gravel shoulder, then backed slowly toward what appeared to be a cardboard box at the side of the road. He followed his wife as she sprang from the car toward the item.
In the thick light of a yellow-orange moon that had just topped the treeline of the surrounding forest, Randy got a glimpse of the contents of the box: a small puppy clawed and scratched at the tall, stiff sides of the box. In some spots, wet with slobber and gnawed through, he’d made quite a dent. A few more minutes at the task and he likely would have made his escape.
The dog was rough looking; its fur was matted and uneven; in some places it was bare to pink skin. It — he — seemed feral, and alternated between growls and whimpers as it considered the couple looking down on him in the red glow of the car’s tail lights.
“He’s helpless, darling! We have to take him with us!” Lizzy exclaimed. She cautiously approached the whelp. The man sighed and arched his back in a long stretch, buying time to think. He knew the dog — the idea — was a substitute for the hole his wife felt in her heart; a way for her to assuage her maternal longings. He knew this instantly, and he didn’t like it — he didn’t like dogs and he already didn’t like this mangy mutt. But he knew, even as his wife tried to befriend the troubled pup, that he’d say yes. And no matter how much trouble it might give them, he knew she’d love just like it was a child.
She looked up at her husband, and a broad smile flooded her face as he nodded his reluctant assent.
“We’re going to adopt him! We’re gonna call him Wolfgang!” she exclaimed excitedly, before shouting “Ouch!” as the precious thing clamped hard onto her outstretched fingers with its already-long baby canines.
“Of course we are,” Randy said, with good-hearted derision. He scooped the pup up into a blanket from the trunk and loaded it on to the seat between them.
Though now filled with excitement and noise instead of pain and silence, the rest of the car ride home was really no better than the beginning. At least, according to Randy. Wide awake and ready to play — or fight or kill; it all seemed the same — Wolfgang incessantly gnawed and chewed on the man’s arms and even his legs, which almost sent the car into oncoming traffic as Randy panicked in response.
Fed up, he placed the pup in the back seat, where it howled, whined and growled to be just 18 inches farther up — on the same row with the rest of his new family. For safety’s sake, Lizzy complied with Randy’s insistence that the whelp stay in the back seat, and consoled herself — and tried to console the pup — by longingly, lovingly admiring him over the seat back.
Once home, the man tried to find something for little Wolfie to eat. Milk didn’t work — neither cold nor warm — nor did peanut butter, although the tyrant did manage to get it all over itself and roll around on the tile floor before Randy could stop it. As he cleaned up the mess, the growling beast tore into Randy’s ankles and shins, which gave the man an idea. He went to the refrigerator and pulled out a butcher’s wrap containing two-minute steaks. He tore open the paper envelope and pulled off a corner of the raw meat. Wolfgang pulled up short and whined and howled as his red eyes pointed like lasers on the meat. Randy dropped the morsel, which Wolfie easily caught and swallowed before returning to his begging and whining position, all in a single, smooth motion.
“No wonder someone ditched this thing,” Randy thought to himself. “Who could afford to keep it around?”
Soon, the dog’s hunger was satiated, but despite the late hour, he remained energetic — and troublesome. The couple went to bed, but Wolfgang wouldn’t sleep; he clammered and clawed at his cardboard prison in the corner of their bedroom, and whimpered between long, earthy, somber howls into the air. It seemed as though he was trying to get to the full moon shining through the sheer curtains and on to the carpeted floor around him. Even Lizzy, who adored everything the pup did, was soon tired of the display, and, well, just tired. She implored her husband to solve the problem, adding “nicely!” to the request. She knew that without such a warning, there was a chance his solution might involve a return trip to the side of the road.
Wolfie didn’t travel that far; instead, he and his box moved to the confines of the garage, where he could try his darnedest to annoy and keep awake the tandem bicycle or the electric lawnmower. Although Lizzy and Randy could still hear the whelp’s wails through the walls, it was much muffled, and soon enough, both were deep asleep, in recovery from their big day.
“Randy, what is that?” Lizzy gripped her husband’s arm — hard — and shook it violently. “Someone’s crying!” She was wide awake and sitting up where seconds ago she’d been soundly resting. “That’s a baby crying!. It sounds hurt and helpless. Go check!” she barked.
“There’s no baby crying,” Randy murmured, still asleep — and trying hard to stay that way. “It’s that little pup you picked up last night.” He tried to roll over to continue his sleep, but his wife’s foot in his back and the subsequent hard plop as his stiff body hit the cold floor caused him to fully wake up.
Randy shuffled out of the room, with Lizzy following closely behind. As they approached the garage, the sounds got louder. He opened the door slowly, and as the sounds of — yes indeed baby cries! — built to a crescendo, he looked back at his wife. Together, they peered in.
Little Wolfgang was still in the box where they’d left the pup. But instead of a canine sitting there, they discovered a pudgy, pink baby boy. The red-eyed child lay nestled in a box now lined in thick, glossy black fur from an overnight molt. His wails stopped as he saw the couple, and he gave a coo and a giggle in response to the stunned looks on their faces.
“We adopted …” Lizzy started to say.
“A baby … werewolf …” Randy finished.