Darlington, Western Australia
Evolve, Devolve, Revolve Competition Entry
The boy awoke to another howl in the night. Another pack of wolves was in the fields again. He wondered if it would have been Florence again, she used to howl like a wolf to lure him out of the house. She was always daring, and would come to see him at night, though his father caught her the last time and he hadn’t seen her since. They were but fifteen, but he felt his love for her was strong. He would always remember the curve of her smile when she first saw him and he would smirk back, like he was partaking in a guilty pleasure. She was such a free spirit and he really admired that. He often wondered whenever he heard the howls of wolves, if it was her. He had to really train his ears to listen for it, but lately he begun to get a little lax. She wouldn’t come again, he thought to himself. Not after the fear his father had put in her. He saw the light flicker on in his parent’s room, and a flurry of movement as his father’s heavy footsteps would move to the cupboard to grab his shotgun to shoot the wolves or at least scare them. He looked out the window, and saw the light sprawl out where his father smacked open the door and started yelling at them like a madman. His lantern was waving to and fro as he moved with his familiar uneven gait, most likely still drunk from the night before, as he shuffled out into the field. He shot a few rounds into the air upon recognising that he couldn’t even see them, let alone catch them. The boy heard whimpering, and assumed that they must have moved off into the woods. He wished his dad could have killed one of them; maybe he could have kept its pelt and made something out of it, like the American Indians would have. His dad didn’t like him idolising them, however. He said ‘It wasn’t any kinda’ thing to be a savage’ and just spat out his chewable tobacco as he always did.
The next morning he helped his dad check the damage the wolves had done. Three sheep got killed, but the wolves must not have had enough time to retrieve the body and bring it back to their burrow. They took the bodies in, sheered the wool off of them, skinned them, and cut them up for meat. The boy knew they would get a nice dinner after all of it. His father was in a bad mood now, however and when he was in a bad mood he would drink even more than he usually did. Hours later, after a time yelling at the boy’s mother, drunk and stupid, his dad brought out his prized revolver. It was one of the original Colts, with its long barrel and intricate swirling designs decorating it. He set up some old cans to shoot, nearly falling over one of the fence poles as he did so. He came back, holding it up to the boy’s face, forcing him to admire it.
‘Ya know, boy?’ he said, ‘I bought this here gun from a true wordsmith. He was saying all kinds a’ fancy things about it …’ drunk and swaying he waved his arms and did a terrible accent: ‘This revolving revolver is one amazing machine. It’s a true evolution that can be used from revolution to resolution, whether your involved or absolved, it will protect you against tyranny or infamy and prevent injury or protect liberty. Step right up, gentlemen!’
He swayed a little more and after a moment, he bowed, realising that it was quite impressive that he managed that “tongue twister” of a sentence at all. He placed the revolver in the boy’s hand.
‘Go on boy, take a few shots. It’ll wipe that frown right off yer face …’
The boy aimed the revolver and shot a can off the fence. The gun almost popped his shoulder out it kicked so hard. His father clapped his hands and hit him hard on his back.
‘Well now … you ain’t so useless after all … see? It’s fun ain’t it?’
The boy took another shot, and his father spoke again. ‘Ya not still sore about that girl not comin’ around anymore ain’t ya?’ The boy said nothing and took another shot, taking down another one of the cans.
Later that night, after a large sheep stew, the boy went to bed. His father, for some reason, gave the revolver to him. Perhaps he was sentimental in his drunken haze, because usually he wouldn’t let the boy touch it. He secretly liked having it under his pillow, but he often checked to see if he hadn’t accidentally cocked it. He checked it three or four times, and ended up putting it on his bedside table before he went to sleep because he was so anxious about it. In the middle of the night there was the howling of wolves again. There were a few howls, but then the boy perked up. It sounded like a different howl, and after what felt like a long time with the ebb and flow of doubt and certainty, he knew it was her. His father didn’t wake up, perhaps because he was as drunk as humanly possible before he collapsed into bed, or perhaps her howl was just quiet enough for him not to hear it but either way, the boy got out of bed and lit a lamp to go and see her, leaving the revolver sitting delicately on his bedside table.
He walked slowly through the dead of darkness, his dim lamp only illuminating perhaps ten feet or so of the paddock. He called her name softly in the dark.
‘Florence? Are you there, Florence?’
He saw a shadow approach, but as it emerged into the light, it wasn’t his lover, but a wolf, smaller than the others, with a quieter howl. The boy reached for the revolver, but it wasn’t on him. He had left it behind. He heard the patter of movement, and three more wolves appeared out of the darkness, in front and behind him and in a sudden, dreadful moment, they were upon the boy and he died alone and in darkness as the lamp smashed upon the green hillside. The revolver still sat delicately on his bedside table and his father didn’t even stir in his sleep.
Bio: Adrian tells us that he wrote this story quickly to submit it in time for the competition, and says it gave him a great opportunity to play around with some words at the same time. It is a tragic story, but Adrian hopes you all enjoy this piece.