This morning I found Wol lurking among the bushes. I wasn’t glad to see her at the side of the road hiding among brown weeds and dying lanzones seedlings.
Wol is no beauty. Her facial features reminded me of a horse that once kicked me on the arm. Her eyes protruded from their sockets, as if they regret being part of her anatomy. She has a severe underbite – a row of cracked teeth poised precariously on her lower jaw and stuck out from her gray lips… a demented homeowner’s picket fence. She waddled when she walked, an odd gait that raised her right hip with each swing of her leg. Her hair was the color of moldy straw, and was often caked with the detritus of dead things that she came across in her walks. She loved rolling over roadkill, cow dung, and other highly pungent canine eau de parfum.
She might get hit by a passing motorcycle (or, worse, a careering dump truck carrying fresh produce from the farms a little way yonder our house) that’s why I wasn’t happy seeing her today. Anyway, it wasn’t usual for her to be out roaming by the road. Usually, she just sat at the shed where we parked our motorcycles, contented with harassing the cats or playing catch-the-tail-of-the-clueless-dog. But something must have pulled her to investigate her surroundings. I tried shooing her off. Her attention was somewhere else though… took no notice of me at all as I backed my motorcycle that Tata parked earlier at the roadside.
Wol looked alert, protruding eyes more ready to pop out of the sockets any minute, nostrils flared in interest, ears cocked in the direction of the road that wound its way farther up the mountain. Then, as I made a first unsuccessful attempt at kick starting the motorcycle to life (which just sputtered and belched thick smoke from the antediluvian engine), I saw something huge and brown barreling down from the direction where Wol was looking.
The brown blur quickly became the hulking shape of a great
wolf dog. It was as big as a baby killer whale. A baby killer whale with four legs that ended in claws that I only see on When Animals Attack specials. Its hackles bristled and its mouth was wide open, displaying an awesome collection of knife-sharp teeth. It was headed my way.
I tried starting the motorcycle again. And again. And again. But the engine only gave a helpless sputter. Someone in my head was yammering omigod, omigod… you’re gonna die… you’re gonna be eaten by a werewolf… no one will find your remains… they will bury an empty casket… omigod…hope it does not have rabies…hope it’s vegetarian…
Canis familiaris humongous was now just three feet away from where I stood trapped on the motorcycle that – Fate would have it – also didn’t have a kickstand.
[Random thoughts at this point: If I just let the bike go and run, I might damage the motorcycle and do without transport to Camp for several weeks until I could find money for repairs (that’s it if I were still alive by then). But can I outrun the werewolf? Wouldn’t it magically transform into a hunky guy who has great disdain for t-shirts? Would I see winged people playing with harps when I die? Which funeral parlor provides the best service?]
The beast closed in, and I could already hear the rumblings from its mighty chest.
I braced for the worst. Being mauled by a wild animal on a lonely forest road is stuff from which nightmares come.
Inches away from me now… I could see the strands of the creature’s bristling fur. Then, without changing speed, the big
monster dog veered away from me and headed towards Wol. I braced my heart against the certainty that my dog will be brutally murdered this morning. But the mauling that I expected and dreaded didn’t happen. When the dog saw Wol, his snarl transformed into a goofy smile, his hackles became smooth fur, and his powerful tail wagged like a deranged flag waver took possession of it.
Wol pretended to ignore the now obviously smitten stray and walked daintily out of the withered bushes. She looked my way and seemed to wink and say, “Coast’s clear, mum… the eagle has landed,” or some such blather.
The motorcycle’s engine mercifully came to life on my next attack on the kick starter. As I clanked down from that lonely mountain road, I saw the big dog running to and fro in front of my Wol, enticing her to play.