This story is by Loring Felix and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
Werewolves Don’t Eat Salad
Everybody knows that old joke, “A werewolf walk into a bar…”
Only a handful of old-timers remember when that wasn’t just a joke.
This one starts a little differently, and it’s not a joke.
Not yet anyway.
* * *
A werewolf walks into my restaurant. I have no clue he’s a werewolf—but I will soon enough.
Big guy, long hair, handsome. Not too muscly but strong. Walks through my front door a little before three in the afternoon. We don’t officially open for dinner until four, but even my own rules have never stopped me from taking someone’s money. So, of course, I let the guy in.
This time of day, it’s just the hostess and myself out front. The cooks and waiters who pull double shifts are in back eating whatever free food they can get their hands on. And I let them.
I’m greedy, but I’m not a total dick.
The big guy flashes his toothy grin at the hostess and says, “Excuse me miss, do you offer raw proteins on your menu?”
Katie’s not the smartest pup in the pound, but she’s better on the computer than I am. And she’s hot, so I keep her around.
Anyway, I’m watching from the little hole of a window that separates the open kitchen from the dining room. I can almost see the wheels of Katie’s mind spinning, trying to decide if the guy with the big teeth is just pulling her leg.
Katie says, “We have all kinds of salads on the menu sir. You can add any number of proteins from a long list of menu items.”
I could be wrong, but the guy’s teeth seem to be getting longer.
With a frustrated sigh, he says, “Can I get any of those proteins raw, and preferably without the salad?”
Katie turns her head and catches my eye. I shrug, as if to say, “Sure.” After all, it’s my restaurant. If I wanna serve raw chicken, I can.
We’re in the heart of South Central Los Angeles, so, I see all kinds of freak-show shit every day, but when Mr. Big Teeth drops down on all-fours, I about pee myself. The sound of joints cracking and popping reaches my ears. Legs bend backwards, shoulders slump and smooth out. His entire body contorts into angles God never intended. The once handsome face extends into a long, snarling snout.
Katie’s big, blue, innocent eyes, bulge out of her head. She lets out the loudest scream I’ve ever heard. Then, she faints.
The man/dog/wolf whatever the hell he is, lopes around the side of the hostess stand, completely ignoring Katie. Sharp long nails scrape the tile floor, his huge head sways to and fro. He stops at the base of the pick-up window and looks up at me with what I can only describe as “pleading eyes,” then sits back on his haunches like a good dog.
I lean out the window and my tall chef’s hat catches the top of the opening. It falls from my head and lands on the man-dog, covering his left eye. Can’t say how, but it stays on, skewed to one side like my cooks try to wear.
I almost tell the thing to straighten out his fucking hat, but self-preservation kicks in, and I shut my mouth.
A long, low, growl starts in the back of the wolf’s throat, gaining momentum. I know if I don’t think of something fast, I’ll be the new salad addition on the menu. I reach behind me and my hand falls on a chef’s knife. I’m good with knives, but not with dogs. So, I grab the cowboy ribeye off the counter instead—the cowboy’s a big steak with a bone—and gingerly stretch my arm out over the precipice.
I feel like I’m ten again—feeding time at the shark tank. The trainers calling for volunteers—my mom forcing my little hand into the air.
The wolf slowly stretches to his full height, his enormous head filling the window, his rotten breath bringing tears to my eyes.
And the hat’s still on his head.
My hands shake, beads of sweat run down the sides of my face as I hold the steak before me, “How about a big steak little doggie?
I’m an idiot and I know it, but it’s the first thing that comes to mind.
He smiles. If you can call a huge dog displaying the largest set of canine’s I’ve ever seen, smiling.
Then, he nods.
I drop the steak on the counter and step back, burning my hands on the flat-top grill behind me. He grabs the twenty-two-ounce steak with his incisors, leaving long canine’s sticking out the sides of the meat. He tilts his head back, and the hat finally falls off.
I’m afraid if I laugh, I’ll never stop.
It’s so quiet I hear the paper hat float through the air and touch down on the tile floor. Then, chomp, chomp, and the steak’s gone. He licks his dog-lips, drops down on all fours, and trots past the unconscious hostess. Stopping at the front door, he sits back. Obviously, waiting to be let out.
“Let him out Katie!” I yell. “Let-the-fucking-dog-out!”
Katie doesn’t move. I hope she’s not dead.
I jump through the opening in the pick-up window and hustle to the door, giving the wolf a wide berth. Opening the front door, I look to my left. There’s a long line of wolves, sitting on their haunches, lining the sidewalk. Waiting.
I know I don’t have enough steak for them all.
My wolf walks out, stops at the head of the queue, gives me one last dog-smile, and lets out an ear-piercing howl. One I’ll never forget.
* * *
His pack devoured a good portion of South Central Los Angles that day.
Thank god, they never came back.
But I did cover my ass.
22oz Cowboy Ribeye: Grilled or RAW. With or without salad. $42.50