A House of Sticks

For the prequel “House of Straw” click here.

Harold was a wolf.

He thought like a wolf, smiled like a wolf. And, ate like a wolf.

“You keep eating like that, you’ll end up pig-chow before you know it.”

Harold shrugged with his mouth full. His wife sighed. He swallowed.

“Sorry,” Harold muttered, scooping the last of his breakfast into his mouth.

Harold leaned back and took a breath, his food settling.

“Where are you off to today?”
Harold scratched under his arm. He sighed. “Another eviction.”

“A pig?”

Harold nodded.

“Be careful.”

Harold nodded, not listening. He got up from the table and brought his dishes to the sink.

“Good boy,” his wife said.

Harold rolled his eyes and went for his coat.

 

An hour later Harold stood in front of a screen door.

He looked around. Sticks are better than straw, he thought.

“Hello!” he called through the screen door.

“Yeah, yeah,” a voice called. Heavy footsteps approached. A round soggy nose pressed into the screen door.

“Harold?”

“Yeah.”

“Shit.”

“Sorry, Francis.”

The pig on the other side of the door grunted.

“It’s my brother you know.”

“Regardless, I—“

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” Francis muttered.

“You got to be out by the end of the week.”

“Yeah,” Francis sighed, “yeah. We’ll have to go to our brother’s”

Harold picked at something in his ear. He held out the form.

“I’m going to need you to sign, Francis.”

“Yeah, sure, let’s have it.” Francis cracked the door. Harold slipped through the clipboard of papers. They came back out, smudged but signed.

“Will you’re brother be able to support you?”

Francis shrugged. “If he isn’t, we’ll just eat Fredrick.”

“Kidding,” he added, seeing Harold’s face. “I know you don’t, you know, participate.”

“To each’s own.”

Harold waited for another minute, trying to think of something empathetic to say. Eventually he gave up.

“I’ve got to be off, Francis.”

“Yeah, yeah. Right, you go. Thanks, or well, no, not thanks. But, you know…”

Harold nodded. He turned and stepped back toward the road.

TO BE CONTINUED…

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