My freedom is all I have left….
Her words cut me to the bone.
Almost as if I were in a trance, I slowly uncocked the hammer on the .38 before opening up the cylinder, dumping out the bullets onto the countertop and setting the gun down in a drawer in front of me. A show of good faith on my part.
The wolf-girl still looked fairly young, but not so young that I felt the need to ask if I should call her parents or admonish her that it’s a school night. Very late teens or very early 20s if I had to guess.
For some reason, I was 99% certain that this bluster and bravado about attacking and raping me after breaking in was just that- all talk.
“All right- so now that you’re here, what do you think is going to happen?” I ask.
“I….I’m not sure, I was hoping you could let me…maybe…stay….here…” she trails off. I notice that her tone and posture have shifted dramatically now.
Kicking her out- at least right then and there- would’ve been a waste of time, since she seemed like the kind who no doubt could find a way to let herself back in if she really wanted to.
“OK…..fine.” I say after letting out an exasperated sigh. “I’ll let you spend the night…”
“Really?” My unwelcome guest’s tail was starting to wag.
“But don’t you try anything…” I snap at her tersely. “And I doubt you need me to tell you this, but you’re a friggin’ mess.”
I wasn’t saying that for the sake of being mean, just pointing out the obvious.
“You can sleep on the couch.” I continue. “But before you do, why don’t you go ahead and take a shower?”
“O-Okay.” Her ears perked up a little, although I wasn’t sure if it was because of the prospect of a roof over her head for the night or a hot shower.
“This way…” I said, leading her down the hall to my bathroom and opening the door. My bathroom was small, but fairly clean considering it’s near exclusive use by a bachelor.
She seemed to look a little apprehensive until I turned on the water and soon enough warm water was jetting out of the showerhead.
“Towels are here and there’s shampoo and soaps in there.” I tell her a little loudly over the running water as I point to the cupboard underneath the sink.
My wolfy visitor says nothing but nods quietly.
“I’ll go ahead and give you some privacy, but let me know if you need anything.”
As I head to the bathroom’s door and turn around to close it behind me, I can see that she hasn’t even bothered waiting for me to leave before undressing. Her back is to me as she gives me an indifferent glance over her shoulder after taking off her top- an old faded maroon flannel shirt covered in stains.
Far from being attractive or alluring, I can see how malnourished and scrawny she is under the filthy, baggy clothes. And while not as fresh as the ones on her face, I could make out a series of claw marks that went down the left side of her back and tapered off before stopping just shy of her waist.
My first thought was that my uninvited guest really could use something to eat and as the shower continued running, I began rummaging through the pantry and fridge.
Crackers, barbecue sauce, pasta, cookies, salad dressing, some cereal.
Maybe I’m overthinking things, but what’s the harm of letting her shower and have a bite to eat before sending her on her way? I ask myself.
I check the fridge for something quick and easy to make. Eggs? Nope. Bacon? Nope. Frozen take-home pizza? Nope. All of that would take way too long to cook given the time of day.
She seems to be taking awhile, but then again, I have no idea when her last chance to take a shower was, so this was most likely a rare treat for her to savor instead of rush through.
I head back to the bathroom, ready to knock on the door and ask if everything was okay. However, before I can put my knuckles to the door’s wooden paneling I hear something over the loud hiss of running water. It almost sounds like….a subdued howl and…..moaning?
Oh lordy…..it seems as though the tales of these mamono’s accelerated libido are definitely NOT mere exaggerations. On the one hand (pardon the expression), masturbating in a guest’s shower is considered poor form. However, if she’s doing what I think she’s doing in there, that means less energy she’ll have if she ever decides to make good on her initial threat to rape me.
With the shower still running, I pull a comforter out of the linen closet and leave it on the sofa for my nocturnal lupine visitor.
After what seems like an hour, the shower stops running. I get up from the living room and cautiously rap on the door.
“Hey…you decent?” I call out through the door.
“Just a minute.” she calls out.
I give her a moment before cracking the door and peering through it. She looks like she’s mostly dry and has a blue towel wrapped around herself.
“Need something?” she asks nervously.
“Yeah- I wanted to check on something.” I said as I walked in and opened up the medicine cabinet, grabbing some gauze pads and a bottle of iodine. “Go ahead and have a seat…”
She looked perplexed for a moment until she looked around and saw the toilet next to her with the lid down.
My lupine visitor then held up her finger as if to caution me or say wait a sec. Before I knew it, she was ferociously shaking her head and tail. Parts of me were now coated with a fine mist of shower water, now liberated from the werewolf’s shaggy mane and tail.
“Sorry- force of habit.” she says before she hesitatntly took a seat, her tail poking out from the towel behind her.
“OK….I just wanna take a look at those gashes on your face.” I explain as I get down on my haunches and cup her cheek. As I get closer to the werewolf, it feels as though she’s burning up. Then again, she had just gotten out of a hot shower after twenty minutes.
It looked as though the cuts on her cheek had been healing up all right, but if she had been on the street this whole time, there was a pretty good risk of infection.
“Y’know….I never got your name…” I tell her as I look into her eyes.
“T-talia…” she says in a surprisingly meek voice.
“That’s a beautiful name.” I hear myself say absently. She says nothing, but shyly looks away from me. “I guess you can call me Joseph.”
“How did you get these?” I ask her after a lengthy, awkward pause.
She’s now looking directly at me with a pained expression on her face, as though I had just slapped her.
“I…..I had a falling out with the alpha of my pack.” she says quietly. Talia continues, a bitter edge to her voice. “The runt of the litter stood up to her one times too many, so…..she decided to give me a little something to remember her by as a going-away present.”
“I-I’m sorry, Talia.”
“It’s all right….skanky, nasty, toxic water under the bridge that’s slated for demolition.” she says a little unconvincingly.
“OK…this might sting a little bit.” I say as I hold some gauze up to the open mouth of the bottle of iodine I got out of the medicine cabinet before I begin pressing the pad up against her cuts, brushing gently at first. She winces a little bit, but otherwise doesn’t seem particularly bothered. After pressing a little more firmly, I check the gauze pad- satisfied that there’s no dirt or grit along there. Then again, the petite werewolf did just spend the last 20+ minutes taking a hot, steamy shower.
“Joseph?” she asks suddenly.
The wolf says nothing, but reaches out and tears a few squares of toilet paper off of the roll next to her. With my face still pretty close to hers, she none too gently grabs the back of my head and begins wiping away at my nose with the squares of toilet paper.
“Sorry- you had a booger getting ready to jump ship and it was distracting as hell.”
I pull away awkwardly from the diminutive wolf, not quite ready to have Cause of death: Embarrassment written out on my death certificate.
“If I knew I’d have company at this hour, I would’ve freshened up.” I say defensively.
The self-satisfied smirk on the werewolf’s face vanished as her stomach began to rumble like a passing freight train in the confines of the small bathroom.
“C’mon…” I sigh. “Let’s see if I we can get you a bite to eat.”
Ultimately it was cereal that had won the day. It didn’t take too much time and effort to prepare a bowl for my clearly hungry late night visitor. “Why is the milk green?” she asked after a few moments.
“The milk is supposed to turn green. It’s Lucky Charms from St Patrick’s day.”
“You know it’s almost June, right?”
“Well shit…there goes my three star Michelin rating”
“Have you tried saying this?” I fire back. “Oh hey- thank you for taking me in, letting me shower and giving me food with no strings attached, Mister! That was super nice of you to do that instead of calling the cops after I broke in and threatened you in the middle of the night!“
One of her hands held on to the cereal bowl, but the scrappy werewolf held up her free paw in a mock I surrender gesture as I did a poor job of mimicking her in a cracking falsetto.
“OK….let’s talk sleeping arrangements.” I said as she finished up her cereal.
I jerk my thumb towards the next room, pointing at the sofa with the comforter folded up on top of it. “You sleep on the sofa.”
Watching the wolf-girl finish up her cereal, I groggily mumble “G’nite” as I gather up the empty .38 and shuffle off to bed, leaving my unwelcome lupine visitor to her own devices. I closed the door and slipped into bed for a few hours of fitful, restless sleep.
I get up and look at the glaring red digits on the alarm clock.
Shit! I’ll have less than 20 minutes to get dressed and ready for work- which is a good 35 minute commute this time of day. Not even enough time to brew a pot of coffee.
Fucking wolfy has been in my house only a few hours and is throwing my life into disarray. I throw on some clean work clothes and stick my head into the living room. Sure enough, the now-clean werewolf is a motionless, sleepy lump on the sofa.
“Hmm?” she asks sleepily.
“I gotta get going to work. You can grab a bite to eat on your way out if you want, but take the housekey and lock up behind you, OK?” I instruct her.
“Mmmm….you’re not having breakfast?”
“No- I gotta get going to work…”
“Well, OK then….” she said, rolling over and going back to sleep.
I’m wondering how much of what I told her even registered as I pull my housekey off of the keychain and leave it on the counter.
There was an overturned truck closing two lanes on the northbound 51, so it turns out I wasn’t the only one at the freight yard who was late to work. Overturned truck and diesel spill seemed to be so much more plausible for my tardiness than “breaking and entering werewolf”- plus three other company drivers arrived around the same time I did.
Aside from my uncharacteristic tardiness, it seemed like just another work day, and I had almost forgotten about my gatecrasher until I got home.
The door was unlocked.
“Welcome home!” Talia calls out cheerfully as I walk through the door later on that afternoon.
Looks as though someone slept through my numerous and not-so-subtle hints about getting the fuck out of Dodge.
Clearly she was playing dumb when it came to my hint about showing herself out that day. I didn’t say anything, but I shot her a look that said “What are you still doing here?“.
“Aww….what’s with the grumpy expression, Mister Grouchy-pants?” she teases. “I made dinner for the two of us.”
“You did?” I arch an eyebrow. She’s trying to get on my good side now, but there’s no way in hell I’m keeping her around just because she figured out how to warm up a pot of Campbell’s soup or microwave a Swanson’s TV dinner.
She says nothing but nods eagerly, clasping my right hand with both of her paws and leading me into the kitchen. Sure enough, there’s two place settings at the table along with a pitcher of iced tea and a large bowl. After getting a closer look, I see that it’s bowtie pasta- only it’s cooler than room temperature.
“What do we have here?” I ask as I sit down, getting a closer look at our dinner.
“Pasta salad with oil and vinegar and parmesan.” she announces proudly as she takes a seat on the opposite end of the table from me.
I take my spoon and dish some of the pasta salad onto my plate. It’s quite zesty and tasty- much better than the sad array of bachelor chow I had sitting around. But a thought occurs to me.
“Hey- where did you get the ingredients for this?” I ask suddenly
“Oh…most of it was just laying around in your pantry.”
“Yeah- I just boiled up an unopened thing of that pasta that I found in the pantry and tossed it with some Italian dressing and those little cheese packets.”
That was pretty resourceful of her, I had to admit. At first, I wasn’t sure where she got the cheese from, but then I remembered that I had a bunch of those tiny little parmesan packets from Pazzuri’s pizza they gave me every time I ordered a pie from them. She certainly had made good use of the sparse ingredients available.
Another thing that occurs to me is that the girl’s hands are literally covered in fur. But I look around at the pasta salad- both in the bigger bowl and the portion on my plate.
Not a single hair. To me, that was almost as impressive as the dinner itself. This girl clearly was doing something right. I must’ve had a big, goofy grin on my face as I’m getting ready to help myself to seconds, because Talia’s now looking at me.
“What’s so funny?” she asks me self-consciously.
“This is pretty good.” I say, pointing to my dish. “I was just wondering…..you sure you’re not part kikimora?” I ask.
“You’re the one who was peeking in on me when I was showering- did you see any feathers?” she playfully chides me.
“Not my fault you couldn’t wait until I left the room before undressing.” I shoot back. “But no…I didn’t see any feathers.”
“There’s your answer….” she says with a little smirk as she has another forkful of pasta salad.
“Still, I didn’t know you could cook.”
“I…I don’t have much experience, actually. Just trial and error. But I couldn’t help but think about food when I was out on the street and diving through dumpsters for my next meal.” she looks up from her plate “There’s been nights when I’ve dreamed of something like this.”
An idea occurs to me, although it’s not without risk.
“If I went ahead and did the shopping for the ingredients, do you think you could keep on making dinner for the two of us?”
She doesn’t say anything right away and it seems like she’s giving it some thought. However, I can hear a distant and faded thumping before I realize that it’s her wagging tail brushing up against her chair. What I’m asking of her seems to be sinking in.
“You mean you want me to stay?” she asks, not doing much to conceal her excitement.
“Well…if you keep cooking this good, yeah.”
“Really!?” her eyes light up.
I nod quietly.
“I…it’s kinda nice having a roof over my head and not having to worry about where my next meal will come from.” she reasons before getting up to reach across the table.
“It’s a deal!” she says as I find myself shaking her paw.
Not only did I come home to have dinner waiting for me, but I noticed that we finished nice and early. There was still plenty of daylight left when a thought occurred to me.
I went out to the garage- the mechanical garage door opener hadn’t worked in awhile and instead of parking my truck in the garage, I was using the space as a plus sized storage closet. The place was a mess, but I still knew roughly where nearly everything was. After some minimal searching I found what I was looking for- a Louisville Slugger and a sleeve of baseballs.
“Hey Talia?” I call out.
The wolf girl is idly thumbing through one of my truck trader catalogs with the news on in the background as she looks up. I toss her something I found in the garage- my old high school baseball jersey.
“C’mon….go ahead and get changed. We’ll go for a walk.”
She looked a little alarmed to see the bat slung lazily over my shoulder, which struck me as odd since she hardly batted an eyelash when I had a loaded gun pointed directly at her the other night. Still, after a few moments she changed into the jersey and an extra pair of shorts I had laying around.
“What is this place?”
I reckon the old diamond was maybe a half mile from my place as the crow tengu flies, but to get their by foot or by car was a little less straightforward, since the old access road curved around in order to avoid some private property.
The place hadn’t seen much use since the local Little League team managed to successfully raise funds for a newer facility on the other side of town a year ago, leaving this old diamond to fall into disrepair and be slowly reclaimed by the elements. I look around at the diamond- on its last legs, yet still seemingly so full of life before I recite something from memory.
“Baseball is the president tossing out the first ball of the season and a scrubby schoolboy playing catch with his dad on a Mississippi farm.
A tall, thin old man waving a scorecard from the corner of his dugout.
And so is the big, fat guy with a bulbous nose running home one of his 714 home runs.”
Talia is looking at me, perplexed.
“What are you talking about?”
“That’s Ernie Harwell……back in the late 20th century, he was a radio announcer for the Detroit Tigers and went into the Baseball Hall of Fame as a broadcaster.” I explain. “His induction speech was this tribute to baseball and what the game meant to him, but it really resonated with so many other people…coaches, players, fans…”. Truth be told, the speech was somewhere on my old tablet’s playlist along with Vin Scully’s call of Hank Aaron’s 715th home run.
“Are you that scrubby schoolboy playing catch with his dad?” she grins, a little fang sticking out.
“I guess I was. Some of my happiest memories as a kid were my dad throwing BP to me each night in the summer until it was getting dark…” I tell her. “Helps that we lived right next to the High School’s baseball field.”
“You must really like baseball…..”
“Of course! There’s no clock- you just gotta do what you can to get you and your teammates across home plate and get the other guys out 27 times. There’s no other game like it.” I tell her as I drop a fluorescent orange frisbee where home plate should be before we head out to the pitcher’s mound. “And the rules are different with each field. No two fields are the same- we have little diamonds like this and big league ballparks where the rafters and catwalks are considered in play.”
Once at the mound, I drop the sleeve of balls onto the mound and turn so that the two of us are facing the backstop.
“All right, Talia. What I want you to do is throw it my way towards the backstop.” I begin. “For now, the goal isn’t to strike me out or anything , so just try and toss it over the frisbee here and give me something to hit.”
“Okay.” she said a little uncertainly.
I sauntered back to home plate with the bat, turn around and get into my batter’s stance. I go ahead and nod and the petite werewolf tosses underhand an arcing ball.
Talia’s pitch died an unceremonious death some five feet shy of the frisbee that was improvised home plate and just kind of rolled maybe another foot. I look down at her first offering as it sat motionless.
“Hey! Give me a break! I’m new at this.” Talia said defensively.
“Doesn’t matter! That was terrible and you should be ashamed of yourself!” I taunt.
“I’m beginning to understand why you live by yourself.” she said.
“Be quiet and throw another pitch.”
She does as I say. A big fat hanging ephus pitch, begging to get clobbered with my Louisville Slugger. I salivate at the prospect of watching it soar into the sky as I lean back and begin my swing.
Except I connect with nothing but air as Talia’s pitch thumps to the ground behind me.
“Was that supposed to happen?” she giggles as I try regaining my balance from my follow through.
“Less talking and more pitching!” I shoot back.
Another deceptively slow ephus pitch delivered underhand.
She doesn’t need me to tell her to throw again.
The next one connects solidly, but goes foul up the first base line.
Talia looks like she’s getting the hang of it when she delivers the next pitch.
“Nice!” I chuckle out loud as the ball is scalded to shallow right, presumably past an imaginary first baseman for a single. The sensation of the lumber in my hand connecting with something solid feels almost cathartic as I watch the ball roll to a halt in right field with no outfielder around to scoop it up. It certainly has been awhile. It occurs to me that I’m one of the few batters out there who would stand around in the batters’ box admiring a single.
The next three pitches offered up by Talia connected, but went up through where all but the most incompetent shortstops could’ve easily fielded it. Those were all of the baseballs from the little sleeve I gave Talia, but I remembered her wobbly first pitch that fell way short of the frisbee serving as home plate. I also see that it’s starting to get dark out and figure we should wrap things up here, since the little diamond had no lighting, even when it was at its peak.
Scooping up the ball, I tossed it back to Talia.
“Last one, all right?” I ask her as she tries catching it by clasping two hands against her torso, only to drop it. However, she nods quietly as she scoops the ball up from the mound.
I smile as the wolf girl seems to be taking her time and is staring at me. Despite seemingly knowing next to nothing about the game of baseball, she seems to have immediately picked up some of the prototypical quirks and mannerisms of so many pitchers.
One more underhanded slow pitch.
“Whooooo……get on outta here, baby!” I whoop as I watch the ball take flight and soar over the rusty-but-intact chain link fence at dead center field
Talia’s ears drooped a little- it was as though she came out of the bullpen and gave up the game-winning home run in Game 7 of the World Series. I belatedly realize it sounds like I’m taunting my lupine housemate as I’m admiring the homer.
“Hey….good job, Talia.” I tell her as she steps off the mound. “Tell you what- how about I gather up all the balls I hit on the infield and you can go track down that last one?”
“All right.” the wolf-girl said quietly before she loped towards the chain link fence.
After sauntering around the infield for a bit, I still had two more baseballs to put in the sleeve when I looked up and saw Talia approaching to me. At first, I was expecting her to tell me that she couldn’t find it, but she promptly tosses me a baseball.
“That was quick.” I observe as I inspect the ball. It’s too new to be a forgotten ball that had been sitting there neglected from back when the field was used regularly.
“I could smell it….” Talia explained. “It had just a hint of burnt wood on it….”
“Really?” I ask. I remember some big league hitters saying that if they hit the ball hard enough and in just the right spot, they could catch a whiff of charred wood. But then again, if she could track me down by just a little bit of my saliva from the straw on a drink I gave her, she could probably smell burnt wood from my bat making contact with her pitch.
As we head home, I tell Talia that I have an old tablet she could use to look up recipes if she needed. The screen was cracked, but aside from that it still worked reasonably well. Once we’re in, I take a shower and head off to bed early, determined to show up to work on time if not early to avoid the wrath of my supervisors and dispatchers for being tardy again.
I dry off and brush my teeth before heading to bed. As I’m drifting off to sleep, I hear the water running and figure Talia is showering before she tucks in for the night on the sofa. If I’m serious about her staying here in exchange for helping out with the cooking and cleaning, it occurs to me that I’ll need to get her some new clothes and probably a haircut. There’s also the guest room that I was using to store stuff….if she’s going to help out, there’s no reason she can’t sleep there instead of on the sofa.
Shit I sigh. Plenty of time to worry about it tomorrow.
The following day, I got home the same time as I usually do and walked through the front door. Talia wasn’t there to greet me, but I heard music coming from the kitchen. I didn’t recognize it right away, only that it was uptempo guitar and drums. After playing Name that Tune with myself for a moment or two, I recognized the song as Sinead O’Connor’s Mandinka. Except the bald, bellicose Irish musician wasn’t the only voice that was singing the lyrics.
I imagine Talia’s ears normally would’ve been good enough for her to pick up me walking into the kitchen, but she obviously couldn’t hear me over the music.
Sure enough, there she is, merrily bopping along as best she can to the tempo of the music and singing along as she’s chopping vegetables and stirring something in a pan. The petite werewolf actually looks like she’s having fun.
I’m dancing the seven veils
Want you to pick up my scarf
See how the black moon fades?
Soon I can give you my heart
I don’t know no shame
I feel no pain.
I can’t see the flame…..
But I do knoooooowww…..
I honestly forgot that O’Connor came pretty close to howling in this song, and sure enough Talia was howling along with gusto. Which was why I felt a little bad for what I was going to do next- but only a little.
Having made it this far into my kitchen undetected by my new werewolf housemate I could see that the song was playing on an older tablet I had with a cracked screen that I had pretty much discarded for my smartphone. That meant it was easier for me to find the ‘PAUSE’ button.
The music went silent, but Talia seemed oblivious at first.
“I dooooooooooooo knoooooooooowwwwww……” the wolf-girl howled boisterously, her pointed ears pressed almost flat against her head before realizing she was performing solo. Turning around she almost jumps through the ceiling upon seeing me there.
“Ah! Damn it, Joseph! What the hell are you doing!?” the startled werewolf yelped.
“Hey there Talia….you didn’t tell me you’d be treating me to dinner AND a show.”
“Just how many Sinead O’Connor songs do you have on there, anyways?” Talia huffs.
“Th-that’s not important.” I say indignantly. “What’s on the menu tonight?”
“A knuckle sandwich if you keep doing that shit…” she says.
“That’s not very nice….” I mock pout.
“OK, you big crybaby. I found some boneless pork chops in the back of your freezer. They’ve been out thawing all day.”
“Oooh….they probably got freezer burn pretty bad.” I surmise just because I can’t recall the last time I brought home pork chops.
“Yeah….but I cut them into little strips and had them sautéing in a garlic sauce, so we’re having stir-fry.”
“It’s a work in progress…..” she cautioned me.
Although she cautioned me that it might not turn out so well, the garlic pork stir fry and long grain rice she whipped up was quite good. In all likelihood, I would’ve thrown out the frozen meat once I got around to cleaning out the freezer. So far this arrangement with her was paying dividends.
A few nights later, after I finally made good on my promise to get Talia some more groceries and fresh ingredients to work with, we have dinner and went out to the abandoned little baseball diamond in the park where Talia pitched batting practice for me again. It’s been awhile since I was at the pinnacle of my high school paying career, and I had taken to jokingly calling the BP Talia was pitching me “Doubles Derby” instead of “Home Run Derby”. Still, there’s something almost therapeutic and cathartic about the feel of wood connecting with the ball and watching it soar. My lupine housemate didn’t quite understand the allure, but didn’t seem to mind joining me and tossing batting practice to me, either.
Talia quickly gathered up the baseballs I’ve smacked around and it looks as though we’ll be back home well before sunset. However, as we’re still a few hundred feet from my place on a residential road, a police car pulls up next to us. As I’m wondering what’s going on, a lanky older cop with salt and pepper hair gets out of the drivers’ side.
“Good evening sir…” he says to me. “How are you tonight?”
I glance over at Talia- her tail seemed to have scooched between her legs and her ears were drooping.
“Doing all right, I guess. Can I help you with something?”
“Seems we got a complaint about a resident in this neighborhood bringing a werewolf prostitute home.” he began to say. “You wouldn’t happen to know anything about that would you?” he asks, his eyes darting from me to Talia.
Poor Talia looked as though she was trembling as I was being questioned by the patrolman. I could only guess that her dealings with police while living on the streets were far from pleasant.
I wasn’t quite sure how to answer his question. I mean- telling the truth would’ve made things much worse for Talia.
“Well gosh golly gee whiz- don’t know anything about a prostitute, officer. This nice young lady here broke into my place in the middle of the night and threatened to rape me this week. But she’s been staying with me ever since then, so it’s all good…”
Nope- that shit ain’t gonna fly.
I paused. And of course, the longer I paused, the more suspicious he became. I was about ready to tell him “I was just taking a nice leisurely stroll with my wife, officer.” when I heard the patrol car’s passenger door open up.
It was a good thing I held my tongue, since out of the passenger side of the marked Dodge Charger cruiser stepped a statuesque redhead in uniform, only I noticed that she had reptilian claws and a tail. As she slipped her baton into a loop along her belt, it dawned on me the that our little quiet suburban police department had hired themselves a salamander. If I told her human partner that me and Talia were husband and wife, she no doubt would have seen through that right away.
“You there- can I talk to you for a minute?” she asked Talia. My driver’s license says I’m 6’1, but as Officer Salamander walked past, I could see she was easily six inches taller than me. Her tone wasn’t particularly threatening, but she was quite the imposing figure- especially compared to Talia who stood at barely five feet tall.
“Y-yes?” Talia asked nervously as she looked up at the uniformed salamander. I tried to reassure the petite werewolf by giving her shoulder a gentle squeeze.
“How long have you been in this neighborhood?”
“I…..I’ve been staying here for a few days now.” the werewolf tells the salamander policewoman nervously.
“Really now? Doing what?” the human cop asks her.
“Would you believe she’s my nutritionist?” I chime in, hoping the two would buy it.
“Is that so?” the salamander asks me.
“Yeah…and damn if I didn’t think I hired a Kikimora to prepare my meals. Believe me officer, they’re THAT good.”
“So what’s on the menu tonight?” she asks.
“Oh…we already ate tonight and we’re just heading back home after a little post-dinner stroll.”
“That’s not what I asked….” she said in a tone that indicated she didn’t appreciate me answering questions she was asking Talia.
Talia found her voice and steadied herself as the salamander slowly began circling her.
“We had a zesty lime chicken breast infused with tequila, garlic and habanero peppers with some baby red potatoes.” she said as if she was a waitress reading off a menu selection at an upscale restaurant with the salamander being a notoriously harsh critic.
“Sounds pretty good, wolfy. ” the salamander said from behind her. “You been doing this for long?”
“No officer- I’m just starting out.”
“Well then- keep up the good work….” she said to Talia. The Salamander then quietly nodded to her partner. “We’re all set here. She’s no prostitute, that’s for sure…in fact, I can’t detect any spirit energy on her.”
The human cop tipped his cap to the two of us, but not before I caught a glimpse of Talia’s hands flying to her mouth, unsuccessfully stifling an embarrassed yelp as she began to blush furiously.
“Thank you for your time- you two have a pleasant evening.” he said as he and the salamander turn and head back to the patrol car.
“You too, officers.” I said as I’m ready to turn and head home. My eyes linger on the salamander’s relatively snug uniform and her tail as she makes her way back to the Charger. As I’m taking in the sight, I can feel a small elbow none too gently poking at my sides. Instead of heaving a sigh of relief at our uneventful encounter with the local constabulary, the short werewolf is glaring at me.
“Quit staring at her ass, you perv!” Talia scolds me as the cruiser’s doors slam shut.
“What? I thought her tail was smoldering…..talk about a hot piece of ass.”
Talia says nothing, but expresses her disdain for my pun by rolling her eyes and letting out an exasperated sigh. Yet I felt like pressing my luck.
“Gotta admit- that’s a nice rack.” I said, nodding my head at the patrol car that was pulling away
“Joseph!” she hisses, none-too-gently smacking my shoulder.
“What? I’m just saying that was a nice rack they had for the shotgun in there…”
Talia simply glares at me.
“Oh Jesus…..don’t tell me that you’re actually jealous, Talia.”
“No! Of course not…” she says, looking down despondently at her chest. “Wh-what would I even do with giant holstaur udders like that anyway?”
It belatedly occurs to me that the salamander policewoman just outed Talia as a virgin as the two of us turn and head home.