Which One Wins?
The day that I met my husband he was walking his dogs in one of the many plazas in old Savannah. I was struck by his beauty and theirs—all of them were wolfishly handsome, muscular beasts with a raw vigor that stopped me completely in my tracks. I stopped, I stared, and then as they were about to walk past, I finally found my composure and was able to smile charmingly and comment, “Oh my, what beautiful dogs you have…” Tentatively, I reached towards them as their master jokingly said, “go ahead, they won’t bite, they’ve been fed today.” I reached out my hand and immediately fell in love as the two of them nuzzled and licked me and then sat back to get a good petting.
“What are their names,” I asked while continuing to give the dogs a massage. He hesitantly replied, “Fuego and Aire—that means fire and air in Spanish.” Anticipating my next question he continued, “they are a rare breed of domesticated wolf. I found them in a remote Andean village when I was trekking through South America in 1999. They’re litter mates and are inseparable. One can not live without the other but they are polar opposites—thus the names, fire and air.” “Wow,” I said, feeling like a bit of dumb ass with an inferiority complex in the face of such a good looking, cultured man with such exotic pets. But then I thought, fire needs air, but does air need fire?
“My name is Seth, and you?” he asked. “I’m Bella.” “That you are.” He replied. I blushingly accepted the complement while wiping the sweat off my brow that had started to accumulate in the sultry afternoon. “Hey, you look hot, why don’t we go have a drink and cool off a little?” he asked. I quickly replied, “yeah, that sounds great.” So off we walked heading towards the nearest watering hole.
“Where to?” I asked. There are countless bars, coffee shops, and restaurants down in the historic quarter. I was curious as to which place he would choose. Would he be the juice bar type—super health conscious and fit, or would he be the sophisticated espresso kind of guy, even in the face of such heat, ordering a glass of water along with his cup, or maybe an ice coffee instead, or was he up for a cocktail already, after all, it was Saturday afternoon. Either way, I could hang. In the end, he opted for none of the above and chose a homestyle diner, with a few outside tables….“How about Rudy’s?” he replied. “Sounds great,” I beamed. This was phenomenal. Here I was with the most handsome beasts on the planet getting ready to have a nice glass of iced tea with lemon on a lazy southern day.
We talked for hours about anything and everything. He was surprisingly open with me, professing that he had fed his demons for too long and that he was ready to settle down. Since he opened up to me, I figured I would share with him as well. I felt an uncanny kinship with him. So, I told him of my vices, too. It is not uncommon for a college town or any town, for that matter, to hold its share of illicit pleasures. Not that cigarettes with cocktails, bong hits before class, or bumps to get through finals were all that bad…But, I was ready to transcend to another “adult” level, after all I was in grad school now and ready to get on with my life, find a mate, a job, a mortgage, get insured, have a child, and surround it all with a white picket fence. No more swingin’ singles bar scenes. I was already tired of watching the new freshman batch of hemp-attired, skinny, tanned, vegan, aspiring hippies roll into town every August. It made me feel tired to see their braless perky tits smile at me through their thin t-shirts, knowing that my perky days were down to the wire. I yearned to meet the man of my dreams who would settle down with me and in that instant Seth was the man. He like Jimmy Buffet, I liked Jimmy Buffet. We both had had it with the single scene. Our parents were alcoholics. So, we were both dysfunctional, adult children of alcoholics, parrot heads ready to settle down. Perfect.
He walked me home that night and gave me the sweetest kiss. It was magic, pure and simple. He had cast a spell over me…As of that night he became my official suitor. He called every day after that, left notes and flowers, we dated on weekends and soon he started sleeping over. I saw less and less of his dogs, but didn’t think much of it. I just assumed that I was his pet now.
In three months time, I became his fiancé. And during that time, true to our desires, we had both “settled” down into a comfortable routine of romantic dinners, movies, and sex. We figured that we were spending so much time together, that one of us should save on rent. And even though he was always at my place, since Seth’s place was bigger and had the fenced in yard for the dogs, I moved in there.
From that point, our relationship officially became co-dependent. We were inseparable. There was no Seth-time or me-time. It was our time. I couldn’t think for myself or about myself. It was fortunate that it was during summer break or my grades would have plummeted. And since it was time to start working on my thesis. I was about to get my self into a serious stressed-out funk. While Seth was at work. Instead of working on my thesis, I decorated his house, slowly unpacked my boxes, organized our closets, and made myself a merry little homemaker. I became obsessed to the point of buying the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook and began making my man meatloaf and scalloped potatoes. I desperately needed him to love me.
In addition to my other self-imposed domestic duties, I also became keeper of his domesticated wolves, or dogs, as I liked to call them. When I started caring for them, I was shocked at how thin Fuego had become. I asked Seth about it, and he said that he had been sick with stomach problems. He said that he had taken him to the vet, and was instructed to feed him very, very small portions. It seemed strange to me that he was having stomach problems because when I fed him, he wolfed his food down without hesitation and begged for more.
Besides wondering what was happening to his dog, I wondered what was happening to me. Wasn’t this exactly what I had longed for? A man to love, to live with, a mate to build my picket fence…But instead of feeling the love, hope, joy and peace that I thought would come of this union I began to feel greedy for all of Seth’s time, angry at him when I didn’t have his complete attention, angry at myself for the inferiority that I began feeling while watching him excel at his architecture firm while I did nothing to stimulate my mind except read Betty Crocker. In three months times I had changed from the witty, thin grad student into a plump homemaker with no goals. My thesis was now Seth; my homework was his dinner. My goal was to feed my man and his beasts--hoping that my mother’s old saying that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach was true.
Seth didn’t seem to notice how much I had changed. We had settled into a routine. I had begun to incorporate a little marijuana in my day to help with the cleaning and organizing of our house, then I would cook and eat when the munchies sat in. When Seth came home at five it was cocktail time. We added cigarettes to that. Then it would be time to eat. He would be so pleased with the meals that I had prepared for him. So much so, that he gluttonously ate plate after plate. Our eyes would be glassed over with our eating and drinking. But we were not celebrating life anymore as we had before. There was no joy, it was as if we were in a coma. After the meal, I would clean up while Seth went through his brief case, organizing and preparing for the next day. We would then go to bed. On the weekends the routine was pretty much the same except cocktail hour started earlier, we would also walk the dogs and then throw in an afternoon of kinky sex.
While I was nurturing the dog, Fuego back to health what was left of my romance soured. And, inadvertently by spending so much time with Fuego, I began to neglect Aire. I still fed her, but less and less and began giving Fuego bigger and bigger portions. He thrived, gaining a lot of weight in a couple of weeks. It was during this time that I noticed Seth’s behaviour becoming more and more erratic. He worked like a man possessed. He started to verbally abuse me, but my self-esteem had already fallen so low that I took it and I started to feel like Aire, his neglected dog. The verbal abuse soon turned into physical abuse.
The first time he hit me was during one of our kinky sex episodes. I saw his eyes turn red, and it was then that I knew there was a demon inside him. Only I had no idea that I was the one who was feeding it.
The next day I was beside myself with terror, I did not know how to get out. Should I just leave? Should I take the dogs, would he begin to beat them in my absence? In an effort to find something, some answers about who this demon man was that I had fallen in love with and committed to marry, I started rifling through his photographs and journals.
I found a journal marked 1999 and I began to read of his trek in South America. A piece of paper unfurled itself out of the diary and fell to the ground. And there was the answer. A story of two wolves. It read:
A wise old Indian is telling his grandson about a fight that is going on inside himself. He said it is between two wolves. One is evil: Gluttony, anger, greed, lies, ego…The other is good: Joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility…The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “which wolf wins?” The old Indian simply replied, “The one I feed…”
There it was, I had been feeding his demons for him. So, I was responsible. Or was I? Without further hesitation, I went to my dresser and got out the little Beringer pistol that I had inherited from my grandmother, went out the back door, and shot Fuego dead. It hurt to watch him fall to the ground, bleed, and die. But I had to save my man from his demons.
Feedback ????: How/where could I develop more dialogue? Which parts need to be eliminated? Too much description in some places? How could I liven up the flow/pace? I would like to make it a bit more "fairy tale esque" along the lines of magical realism--any suggestions?