You’re hunting for unicorns at the bar when Jack London walks in
Your wolf wife starts eying Jack London.
You start eying Jack London.
You say: You know he only wrote White Fang, he’s not the same as White Fang.
She says: I'm aware, tapping her front paw.
You sip the dregs of a cheap gin,
a drop of dead juniper burning its ghost on your tongue.
At the bar, you see he's drinking scotch.
Of course, you think.
And you check your pockets for scotch money.
You look back at your wife.
So? She asks with her eyes.
You shrug: We have a problem.
She rolls her eyes,
then folds her arms.
You order another cheap gin,
at the last second turning toward Jack.
Hey, are you-
Busy? He looks to you with the scotch at his lips.
He finishes it off and slams it on the table.
You jump a little.
Look, I know what's going on here.
You turn completely around to face him.
Happens all the time.
He blinks his yellow eyes.
I'm flattered, really.
You scratch your head with your wolf arm: So-
But I'm chasing other tail tonight.
Jack pours another scotch, slams it on the bartop
and walks over to a pack of wolf girls trying to leave a table of loud frat boys.
He bears his white fanged grin and they smile all open mouthed and giddy,
wrapping their arms around his. He looks back at you still sitting at the bar
and winks as they walk away into a sleepless night.
For a second your eyes grow wide and you worry your wife is with them,
but she is at the bar on your other side. She puts her hand on your knee.
She's ordered a bottle of scotch and, before you can object,
she's holding a glass of it in front of your face.
You hold her amber gaze a moment,
then take the glass.
Fucking writers, you mumble as you tip back the scotch.
Shards of peat and sea foam lodge into your throat from that first sip.
And she pours you another.
By the seventh glass, the burn is the burn of a soft fire,
and your faces are so close they make the silhouette of an hourglass.
You have no idea what you've been talking about,
but every word has been perfect.
Every word a story that hasn't yet been written.
The bar is closing and you take the empty bottle home as a trophy,
falling asleep half naked in the den tangled up in each other.
Eventually your hand relaxes, the bottle rolling away and stopping at the wall.
Your wolf arm is still wide awake and it howls at the yellow moon,
four distant howls echoing in return.
Daniel Warner is the author of Woke (Ghost City Press).