Lives are never straight lines: there’s no one point we can look to and say, ‘this is where it all went wrong.’ I’d like to have one of those but people who know he would probably say my life is fine or has always been going wrong. Strangers might point to right now, when I find myself in the middle of a turf war I hadn’t even known about. That would probably be a lie though, since I only noticed the frenzy of howls by the time I was at the bottom of the McDonalds dumpster at the corner of Fourth and Cameron.
I’d been in it for almost an hour, working my way through nuggets, fish and finally to a dead pigeon. I probably should have sensed two werewolves having a growlfest before that point but it was a really good pigeon: four days dead, marinated by fries and gravy, the bones almost at a consistency of chocolate. It was the best meal I’d found in four days and it’s easy to get lost in the taste of good food, up to a point.
The point, for me, included scenting both werewolves at either end of the alleyway. Neither had caught my scent: I’d been in the dumpster long enough to blend into it, and I tried to be quiet in dumpsters so people didn’t notice me in them and run screaming. The local police really don’t like me and I don’t want to give them more reasons not to. So I’d been eating quietly, lost in food, and the howls jolted me out of it. They were low howls, the kind that vibrate through bones and flesh rather than split the air. I had no idea if that was a wolf thing or a werewolf thing and just kept mouse-still.
I was strong and tough, but ending up with a pissed or hurt werewolf in the same dumpster as me would pretty much be like someone tossing a normal person into an industrial blender set onto ‘aggravated mulch’ or something. I didn’t even eat the last leg of the pigeon, just kept still as the werewolves impacted like cars. Growls and snarls and whines cut through the air as they tore into each other, bones and flesh shattering and healing between movement. Both were male, one older by at least twenty years. Maybe. I can tell how old a person is by sniffing them, but werewolves are monsters as well and heal so fast that for all I know they might not even age like humans do.
I wasn’t about to look at check. And definitely not about to ask. They were related: brothers, parent and kid fighting? No idea. They didn’t talk, just tore into each other again and again. One was faster, smaller, healed quicker: the older one, probably, the other was bigger and stronger, not healing quite as quick but the bone of them was more fluid, the shifts in healing and changing more controlled. I bit back a whine at the thought of what their bones would taste like.
I think the fight lasted a minute. It felt longer, but the younger werewolf broke away first and fled. He’d expected a faster fight, uncertainty creeping into his scent. And if I could smell that, the other werewolf definitely could. I had no idea who’d win the next time they fought, less desire to ever find out. The older werewolf whined softly to himself as his wounds healed a final time, bones shattering and remaking themselves as he took on human form. His clothing must have changed with him, because I head the ring of a cell phone closer to the dumpster than I’d have liked.“It’s me. I won. He should be home by breakfast.” There was a pause. “I don’t know who is going to win the next time, love. I’m running low on tricks.” He sounded tired, and the phone snapped off as the werewolf walked away.