STEPHANIE     HUGHES

Freelance Writer & Journalist

Wolves of New York

     Hooper ran through the dark streets, the wind combing through his hair. His bright eyes frantically darted in random directions as he kept near the steaming gutter. His heart was pounding in his chest, thudding between two burning lungs.


     Hooper couldn’t help but feel so alive on a mostly lifeless street.


     This city was the breeding ground of juvenile delinquency, heroin, and the shaking cold metal in the hands of those who may as well have the power of God – feeling large as they strolled the city deciding who lives and who dies. It left a bitter taste in his mouth. What made him feel all the more cold was how much he could relate to those people. He was those people. It was at the back of his mind, like a person who denied what they saw before them in a mirror.


     The sound of shattered glass up ahead brought Hooper to a halt as he pricked up his ears for a moment. He snorted and veered into an alley, altering his originally planned course. Fog crept out of the grates of sewers and off the heavy machinery rising up against graffiti stained walls. Posters littered the walls as trash and newspapers holding hoaxes and lies littered the ground. Rats squealing with surprise as he made his entrance. Effortlessly cutting through the fog as he ran – his peculiar shadow was casted against the wall – the shadow he did not dare glance at. The shadow that perfectly described his personality.


     Instead, he decided to keep his eyes before him, taking note of the disgust that he ran through. Green lights, spilled trash, a splattered and dried brown substance that Hooper knew better than anyone what it could be, the most racially disturbing messages embedded into the wall, rusted tin signs, puddles of God knows what – the place reminded him of a trashy eighties movie. And yet, no other place made him feel more at home. That was another thought that unsettled his skin: how at-home this place made him feel.


     Only one person clouded the mind of Hooper – one so well known on these streets. The one he visited more frequently than he would admit – something he felt that he had to do – something he owed. A low growl sounded off in the base of his throat as he summoned the strength in his legs that sprung himself upward onto the fire escape.


     In a flash, his black shadow changed.


     In a flash, he was different.


     Gripping onto the rusted, out dated fire escape ladder, Hooper took the time to look at his hands, hands he would give anything to rid himself of. They were the canvas of many gouts of blood – colouring him a murderer. His digits twitched, adjusting to their unfamiliar design. The criminal sighed and started up the ladder. He continued forward, each strife to a higher bar bringing a pang of guilt to his stomach. He was not proud of the life he lived. Hell had a special place just for him. Beyond repentance, he accepted the fate that drew out before him. He accepted the sight of the bottomless void expanding before his wretched character. He could not feel anything about it. He was beyond all sense.


     He came to a final sturdy landing, his toes curling in between the gaps of the grate below him. They were cold to the touch. The gaze of the troubled man crossed the window before him. When he saw that troubled gaze, he knew he had once again crawled to the right place. Adjusting his leather jacket and jeans which he struggled to keep on his body as he ran, he forced the window open with a sickening shriek that would raise the hair, curl the fingers, and disturb the skin of any mortal listening. The room was dark but certainly not vacant. He hoisted himself on the window sill, but did not dare to enter the room. The familiar scent filled his nostrils as a stirring came about the room. A light flicked on.

     “Good morning detective,” he said almost in a bitter whisper.

     The bare chested man yawned, stretched and glanced at his microwave. 4:33 AM. He returned his gaze to the silhouette of the man before him.

     “Good night.”

     Hooper heaved a sigh.

     “I know it's not the best time.”

     “No time besides now really is. How's the underworld been treating ya?”

     The criminal winced as he rubbed his stomach.

     “Causing some indigestion as we speak.”

     “I see that,” he pointed to his own chin, “you got a little 'serial killer' right here.”

     Hooper chuckled as he wiped the blood that had been dripping from his chin.

     “Pedophile, actually, thanks for noticing.”

      A thought must've popped into the mind of the detective, his relaxed expression suddenly went stern.

     “Doesn't mean I approve of your methods.”

     The criminal shook his head.

     “You know it's not like that, you know I can't stop this.”

     He listened as he poured fresh coffee into a mug adding cream, sugar – every little necessity. He turned back towards the window and leaned against the counter.

     “I know. I just find it odd that you go after the same class of people I go after.”

     Hooper said nothing. His nose twitched and a breeze tugged at his hair.

     There was a moment of silence as the detective nodded. His face held sympathy for him. This criminal was undeserving of pathos in any form, but it couldn’t be helped. The detective had done his job for many years and he was still unable to label evil quite right. He wasn’t sure if it was a person or an action, an entity or the predominant reality.

     There was no why, reason or cause for it.

     It just was.

     The detective thought about Hooper often – feared as much as he was respected in the dark depths of the city. He thought about what possessed him – if not the devil himself – to commit his vain acts a vigilance. Hunting down scum was his own way of apologizing to society. He even had his own nick name given to him by what he still considers to be the norms of society for the deeds that his nightly form had made him do. The “Black Wolf of New York”. Cops couldn't stop him back in the day, they certainly can't stop him now. No one thought of him as a hero, as a tragic being, as a man who means to right his wrongs. They were all disgusted by him.

     No sympathy for the devil.

     “Why don't you come in and sit down?”

     Hooper shifted uncomfortably where he sat, resisting an urge.

     “No Goodman, I don't think I can do that without coating your walls in your own blood.”

     Detective Goodman's stomach knotted. He put it a little more morbidly than it need be. No decency came with being the most indecent creature.

     “Goodman… I regret-”

     “Hooper-”

     “No...” he was unable to meet his eyes, “I really can't tell you how much I regret... regret that night.”

     He regretted, but he never apologized. Being a creature of the night meant never having to say you’re sorry.

     Goodman stared at the reflection in his coffee, there – a black, black face staring back. That's when the words began to sink in, seeping into every last nerve. Eyebrows pulled together, he glared at the ring on the end table beside the couch. The moon's light left an innocent shine on the diamond, glittering as it told him stories he had heard before. Hooper looked at it too, a nasty feeling squirming around in the pit of his stomach. That was what the human half of him felt – the civilized half. His other half had his heart racing, his mouth watering, his mind narrowed in on the thrill of the chase. A sudden craving to sink his teeth into his prey as he revisited the memory of raking his claws across the naked chest of Mrs. Goodman, running down her stomach. His jaws locked on her throat when she tried to scream, soaking the snow white sheets in a crimson red. He could feel the warmth of the blood splattered on his chin, chest, arms – everywhere.

     The red and the white. Oh how Goodman remembered the red and the white.

     “You have a little crazy in your eye,” said the detective.

     The once chocolate brown eyes of Hooper had flared into the brightest yellow that pierced his soul every time they rested on him. The eyes of the creature of the night. Brought on by a simple thought. Hooper blinked a couple times to adjust them back to their normal state. He sighed.

     “I regret it still. Nothing I do will do anything, but you should know I regret.”

     All that was heard at the moment were the sounds of New York, the yelling of distant conflicts, the shrieks of startled women, smashing bottles, the disturbing post-paid love sounds muffled by closed curtains. Every single thing that made this city what it was. All that was missing was his own participation.

     “Tell me this, Hooper... just how lonely is the Black Wolf of New York?”

      Hooper had always been one to receive the strangest questions, but never one like this. He knew exactly what Goodman was trying to ask, but it came from a sullen abyss. He owed him an answer. It was what he could do. The least he could do.

     “Very.”

     “And that's why you could never understand how it feels, that's why you keep regretting. You assume that it's the worst thing that can happen to a person.”

     He was puzzled.

     “What are you talking about?”

     “Let me tell you something about Jane: I wasn't the only one to have eyes for her. She was quite a busy person if you know what I mean.”

     “Christ, Goodman -”

     “Listen, because whatever the hell you're going through must be a million times worse than what you put me through. You can't even hold down a relationship. Not then, not now. But it's not your fault, I would know.”

      Goodman flashed Hooper a new set of eyes, stunning him. Cold light gray eyes. He froze at the sudden change. He was confused, he could have sworn Jane was the only one whom he had locked jaws on. He was unclear – his life was one big giant hangover – always regretting the night before.         Goodman grinned a devilish grin and simply shrugged.

      “All I can say is save some room on the streets, my friend.”

      Hooper didn't know what to think, but he was sure that he had started something huge. This sudden change in Goodman disturbed him. Goodman didn't seem to be a “Good Man” any longer.

      “You feel bad about what you did because you know that there's no law that can restrain you. You're truly above it all, aren't you?”

      “You know I don't want to be.”

      Goodman chuckled.

      “It's been a week and already I'm worse than you. Devoured twenty-six whores. Twenty-six. Reminded me of Jane – all of them.”

      The full moon rested in the sky. Goodman turned away from the sight and towards the smiling picture of him and Jane, in the days when he had sported a buzz cut and their love was true. Or, at least he had been naïve enough to believe that. When Goodman had been a hero in the concrete jungle chasing down scum like Hooper and coming home to a gorgeous blonde whom he swore was loyal to him. A person who always brightened his day. He was a cowboy with a flame.

      He was forced to dismiss it, looking back into the bright yellow eyes of his former arch nemesis who now took on the appearance of something less than human. He sat still in mysterious black fur coat covered by a leather jacket and jeans that did not fit this new body. He stared blankly – yet – with intensity. Goodman was lost in the eyes of the Black Wolf, the most feared creature of the night to streak the streets of New York.

     “Be seeing you, Hooper,” Goodman said in a murmur, eyes locked in awe.

     Without a sound, Hooper turned away and slipped off into the pre-dawn light. Goodman himself stepped towards the window catching only a glimpse of his silhouette dancing along the dirty alley wall in some sort of twisted shadow play. He looked at the light skimming along the edges of the skyscrapers before him. Goodman didn't realize how long Hooper had been there for, but everyone was waking up. He often wondered what kind of life did Hooper take on during the day. He scratched the back of his neck, leaned against the side of the window frame, and took a sip of his coffee before pondering. Licking the coffee-stache from his upper lip, he glanced at the clock, not able to care less whether or not he was late for work. As the sun struggled its way into the sky, one thought was clear to him:

      As the new dawn fades, so do the wolves of New York.


Stephanie Hughes

October 4th, 2009