Poppa stopped at the door and sniffed. A low growl sounded in the back of his throat.
“She’s been here again.”
Momma stepped close to him and took a deep breath, she could smell her too.
“Now, don’t lose your cool. Let’s just step back and call the police.”
“The police? Because they were so helpful last time?
Poppa growled again just thinking about it. The insulting questions. The nasty insinuations. “Why would a sweet thing like that stalk you?” “Are you sure that you aren’t somehow encouraging her to be here?” and the worst, “We noticed the bathroom hadn’t been disturbed, I guess it’s not really a woods theme?”
Momma patted his back, “They will have to see that it’s a problem.”
“They only see what they want to.”
Poppa stepped slowly in to the house, “Junior stay back here with your mother. I’m going to make sure she’s gone.” He wasn’t worried about their safety. Nobody messed with Momma when she was guarding her boy.
He started in the kitchen. The first time it had happened she had come in here. That was the time they blamed themselves. Dinner was supposed to be a lovely stew that Momma had spent all day cooking. They had decided to take a quick walk before dinner to give it time to cool off enough to eat. When they got home they found that Junior’s bowl was completely empty and both his and Momma’s had been tampered with. But they couldn’t remember if they had locked the door when they left. In fact they were pretty certain they hadn’t. They lived far out on the edge of Town, nobody usually bothered them out here. But that was before. When they felt safe. And really all that had happened was someone ate some of their food. Momma had a good heart, she said that if they had come in to eat they must have really needed it. And nothing else had been disturbed so it was fine. They still dumped what was left, no sense risking it, and had ordered in a pizza. But that had only been the first time. Now even good hearted Momma was at the end of her patience.
He sniffed around the kitchen, she had been in here, but hadn’t stayed. But she had been in his house again. Touching his things. What did she do this time? He knew it would be something. She was a nasty piece of work.
Poppa stopped for a moment to compose himself. It wouldn’t do him any good to get any angrier than he already was. Right now his first priority was making sure the house was clear. Then he and Momma would talk about moving. Again. He hated to go. They had found this house when their old neighborhood had become a battle zone between that clan of pigs and their landlord. Poppa had sensed that things might go badly if they kept escalating their battles so sadly he had put their house on the market. He was ahead of the curve. He had been able to sell that old brick house that they had loved so much. And they got out just ahead of the complete collapse of the market. They had talked about moving to Momma’s home town in Alaska. He wasn’t sure about that. Though he could grow a thick coat as well as the next guy he really didn’t like the cold that much. So they had decided just to move a little farther out of Town. Live on the edge of the woods. Where it was safer. Ha! Safer…He didn’t like thinking about moving his family again.
What was wrong with the world today? Just a few months ago he had read about the slaughter of an old school chum of Momma’s. He had been eviscerated. Slit from throat to belly. Violent. Cruel. And of course the media reported it (at first) as if he had been the violent one. His killer would have gotten away with too if there hadn’t been security footage found at her grandmother’s house showing that “sweet little girl” collaborating with her much too old for her lover. Killing Granny over the inheritance and blaming their neighbor. Prejudice prevailing. Of course HE would be the guilty one, HE was a wolf after all! We know what they are like. Meanwhile sweet little girls are never looked at twice. Though we all know that sweet little girls grow up to be vicious witches living in candy houses. But NOBODY wants to talk about it. It’s so much easier to blame the wolves. It made his fur crawl.
He went in to the living room. His lip curled and he bared his teeth when he looked at Junior’s brand new chair. The one they had to buy when she had busted up his old one the second time she broke in. That was the time he had called the police. The King’s Guard had shown up and done a perfunctory search. Not trusting his sense of smell. Not believing that they were the victims of a crime and that they even knew who it was that harassing them. They had gone to her house to question her but all she had to do was toss her little blonde curls and bat her big blue eyes and they were certain she was innocent. How could someone so sweet even break Junior’s chair? Wasn’t it more likely that Poppa had lost him temper and broken it himself? They completely ignored the hungry smile she gave to Junior when she thought no one was looking. She was a wrong one, that one. But of course the King’s Guard didn’t believe him. What did he expect? They hadn’t even bothered to look in to his cousin Humpty’s death. Called it suicide. Wouldn’t hear that he might have been pushed. Poor guy, no justice, in pieces. He was a good egg, too.
He looked around the living room. A low growl rumbled in his throat. She had been in here. She had sat in all of the chairs. Again. Taunting them. Mocking them. He looked closer at Junior’s new chair. Was that a scratch in the arm? His lips pulled back and he snarled; she had carved in the arm of the chair GL+BB=TLF He knew if he showed this to the police they would say Junior had done it. Even though he would NEVER call himself that. It had been kindergarten since anyone else had.
Momma heard the warning growl, “Are you okay, dear?” she called out.
“Fine. Stay there. Let me check upstairs.”
He started with their bedroom. The scent was stronger here. She had been in their room. And recently. He looked at their bed and froze…she had been in their bed. The comforter was messed up and the decorative pillows Momma insisted on arranging just so had been moved. He placed a giant paw on the bed took a deep breath. How dare she? She had been here. In his room. Violating what should be the safest of spaces in his house. Taking a deep breath he caught the scent trail again and moved, knowing where it would lead him. Trying to tamp down anger, fear, and disgust as he moved down the hallway toward Junior’s room. The scent strong now. His nose quivering….
He opened the door to see the window open and the curtains fluttering. He could see the edge of the emergency fire escape ladder hooked to the sill. He loped quickly to the window and caught site of her running down the path. He growled a warning after her and heard the returning giggle on the wind. He turned around and saw that she had been sleeping in Junior’s bed. Just waiting for them to get home. He fell to the floor and put his head in his paws and tried to keep from sobbing. What if he hadn’t realized she had been here, what if Junior had been surprised by her? Momma and Junior came running upstairs in response to his last growl. They found him still sitting on the floor. Rocking back and forth. The family wrapped their arms around each other and whispered “it will be all right” over and over.
They put the house on the market the next day.
Alaska wouldn’t be so bad after all.