Adam Kenworthy: “The Prowlers”

Back then, a town was still small enough to be called a town. This was back before the big river dried up. Before Dorothy left.

Back then I practiced law. I had my office on Main Street with a stenciled name plate on the door. In the mornings people would pass by my window on their way to the post office. They would wave. It was like that.

I smoked too much back then. Back then, people still smoked.

A woman named Lilly was my secretary. She was remarkable with a typewriter. She had very practical wrists. Sometimes she wore ribbons in her nestled blond hair. I would often wonder what it would be like to pull the end of one of those ribbons. What it would be like to hold her down.

Back then, men had thoughts like this.

I had many clients. They all had stories. This, you already know.

This story, this story went like this…

There was The Shepherd. He came to me one day and took off his hat. He had enormous hands. Hands that could bend steel.

I offered him a chair. His face had the sun built in.

-The wolves are at it again, he said.

-All night? I asked.

-Yes, he said.

This was how one figured things back then.

-You tell the Sheriff? I asked.

-Sheriff don’t know The Hills, he said.

I nodded.

-Wolves supposed to stay their side, he said.

-So I thought, I said.

-You got to set it right, he said.

-I know, I said.

Two boys had been carried off the year before we moved to town. I’d just opened my office when it all began. It was tough to be a new face in a new town. People never trust an outsider. It’s just how people are.

That night I setup camp in my pickup out by The Hills. Dorothy made me a warm thermos of coffee and some of her sweet rolls. I finished the bread too early. By dark it was only coffee and the moon.

They came down by the path, their slight frames dancing like shadows along a wall. I came out of the truck with my briefcase. They circled.

The old one came close. His snout was whipped with gray. He smiled with tough yellow teeth.

-You got nerve, he said.

-It’s my job, I said.

I put my briefcase on the hood. I rolled the combination and took out the Contract. I held it up high. A great howl rang out.

-This constitutes a breach of section three, subsection A, I said.

The old wolf smiled.

-My client means to hold you to it, I said.

-Your client’s a thief, he said.

-Regardless, I said.

-He hunts our pups, he snarled.

-You signed, I said, my heart digging deep in my chest.

-We can wait, he said, starting to crouch.

-I know, I said.

-What then? He asked.

-That’s not my place, I said.

He bowed his head and gathered the others.

Before he disappeared, he stopped and turned on his soft paws.

-Don’t stay too long, he said. That’s the mistake your people make.

Back then, I still believed a man’s word was as good as his signature on the dotted line. I was young. I was foolish.

Back then, there were still wolves in The Hills.

But this was a very long time ago.

Adam Kenworthy lives in Des Moines, Iowa.  He studied at the University of Iowa.

Leave a reply