THE WOMAN AND THE WOLF
She pulled apart while I watched from a safe, short distance.
In the kitchen I did home work as a clock radio played Elton John and “Bennie and the Jets” got her swaying, her cigarette smoke an anorexic genie escaping through the spackled ceiling. She was just drunk then, but later the swaying would return, more a wobble, her unsteady sea-bound legs plodding unfamiliarly on this flat and dusty earth.
I was warned: the disease had a pattern, a cadence, an inevitable predictability. Nevertheless it unnerved and strangled me.
In time she shed every trace of loveliness, resorted to growling and staccato bursts of paranoia. Her eyes were stripped and raw, like a starved wolf’s.
In that same kitchen where she once fed me she bit down on my arm and would not release even as I screamed and punched and slammed her head against the refrigerator. Had Dad not been there she might have eaten me.
Yesterday when I visited she looked past me, warbling an undecipherable chant, summoning old friends and ghosts, addressing the coven, casting spells and cursing me to hell.
“But Mother,” I said, “isn’t it too late for that?”
The Delivery Man
Joe McGinniss Jr.