Paw fell in line with paw on the cold-brittled leaf littered trackless hillside until the Wolf found a long concrete stair case and descended.

Claws and rough pads scraped the weathered surface.

Human scent markings littered each step downward.

Here urine, there discarded coffee, a trace of perfume on the railing, crumbs of fast food littered pell-mell.

His ears pricked at a sound coming from above him on the stairs. He shifted to face the direction it came from.

Breath frosted on the air, eyes penetrated the half-light, and the Wolf slunk off into the brush.

Joe the Yinzer, drunk, ambled down the stairs, bladder full of piss, back home after a night at the tavern up on Murray.

“Goddamn fuckin’ Pabst burrs.”

He muttered through wizened features.

He passed down the next flight of stairs somehow managing to not crack his skull.

Pressing his gut against the rusted railing, his gnarled and knotted fingers searched for his fly.

“That fuggin’ toothless bitch didn’ want nunna this.”

But his hands didn’t finish undoing the zipper.

His urinated-in-his-pants eyes locked into the ferocious yellow gaze of an apex predator.

A growl deeper than any pit bull.

“Fuggggg this shit!” and old Joe the Yinzer beat, fleet of feet, a beeline for the avenue.

He hit the street yelling, “There’s a motherfuggin’ big ass mad dog on the gaddamn hill!”


Her scent lingered long in the subconscious, unknown to the Man, but known to the Wolf.

The Wolf wended along the steep overgrowths behind and among the ramshackle brick houses. His thick tawny coat muffled the crisp clear sounds of branches catching and rattling in the dark.

The hour drew near midnight when the Wolf had reached Second Avenue on the flats approaching the Monongahela River.

Slinking from shadow to shadow, the streetlights old or broken, older and abandoned houses screened the Wolf from casual observation.

The world burned in a muted sepia palate highlighted in subdued yellows and blues.

A group of five Negro youths passed along Second Avenue, eeking and ooking; none managed to see the hulking 200-pound monster lurking in a cellar doorway.

Eyes burning yellow, he let them pass.

He sniffed the air, following the scent of the prey he sought, a thing that haunted the Wolf on the level of instinct.

It only stirred a blackness in the beast’s heart.

A few cars passing saw him, slowed, then sped back up.

None were sure of what they saw.

The scent grew strong as he cut over the green way and crept up on a dead end street in a gentrified area.

Her face, her smile, the ethereal timbre of her deceptive words, the twinkle of her deceptive eyes.

But in the end it was always “her, her, her.”

That nubile body in those low rise jeans.

Pleasure and happiness unreal, deferred, denied.

A relationship, too much demand.

Just by unhappy fate, their paths crossed two decades later.

The Wolf’s breath misted the algid night air.

Tucked away in a renovated colonial-style house was the object of his desire.

Hidden in the shroud of the night, he dashed through the snow.

A motion activated light switched on; the Wolf rounded to the backyard and made for the tree-line.

And sat motionless watching the house, sharp ears peeled for sounds within, nose prying information from the air.

A backyard flood lit up.

He could hear voices approaching the back door.

“…look at this some kind of large dog…”

“…a German Shepherd?”

“I don’t know, I caught a glimpse on the camera.”

Two feminine voices, an upward inflection of wonder in their speech.

A cute younger mulatta, pageboy haircut, in sweats, opened the back door.

She had a bowl of dry dog food she was rattling.

He ambled over, slow, casual, a put on air of wariness sheltering in shadow.

“C’mere doggo, come,” she called.

The mulatta caught her breath as he bolted at her.

Snarl on his lips.

He cleared the backyard in two bounds.

Jaws sprung open.

On the last leap, he clamped down on the mulatta’s left tit.

He could smell his unrequited love on her.

Teeth sheered through the succulent flesh, cleaving and ripping in a single swipe.

Snapping again, he tore into her right underboob.

Her eyes watered in pain; she let a weak and shocked wail.

The strong scents of blood and urine filled his nose.

It soaked through her sweatpants.

A yippie little dog yapped inside.

The object of his heart’s bitterness called from deeper in the house, “What is it! What is it! Teresa?”

Then he saw her: Megan. She must have dropped the alt style, a few more creases in her face, but yeah, it was her. Same body, same ugly look on her face when she was displeased.

Or surprised.

Paws on Teresa’s gushing chest, he alighted from the moaning woman and stalked towards Megan.

That same athletic body all the boys wanted.

So tasty, so succulent, so raw.

She sprang for the hallway, leaving her lover sprawled on the chilling floor.

He stalked along.

A door slammed shut, a lock was engaged, its echo rung off tiled walls.

The bathroom.

The Wolf examined the yipping thing in the crate.

A little Jack Russell terrier barking his stout little heart out.

The Wolf lifted his leg and let loose redolent piss, soaking the trapped pupper.

The terrier let out a high-pitched whimper.

He squeezed his bladder hard.

Good to the last drop.

At the bathroom door, the Wolf paused silent and still.

Teresa had fallen silent.

The dog curled in the corner of his crate, shivering and wetting himself in fear.

The acrid tang of fear filled the air in the house.

Its bouquet painted a picture in the Wolf’s mind replete in neon glints and blackened undertones.

It flowed out from beneath the bathroom door.

No cheap rental hollow core doors here.

He jumped paws first at the doorknob.

The catch tore free of the door frame and a hair dryer flew at his head, smashing to bits on the wall behind him.

The solid pine door slammed off the back wall.

His teeth sunk into her calf.

The bang of the door, her tight ass slamming in the floor, the crunch of tooth on bone; salty offal filled his mouth.

The Wolf wrenched at her leg, releasing his grip, and in a lunging bite seized the inside of her thigh, still slim, white, and spare of blemish.

He gnawed his way towards that bearded clam; gashes freed a torrent of blood, painting the tiles a dark hue.

The Wolf exploded into even greater fury, gnashing, rivening, chomping, and gorging by degrees the tenderer flesh.

Megan vomited all over herself; her bowels turned to slush and gushed forth.

She passed out.

Her thrashing stopped.

The Wolf, now with the fun over, stopped.

Sauntering into the couple’s bedroom, he hopped up on their fancy four poster bed, sniffing—scents telling a tale of shared warmth but no loving—and shit a massive load on top of the duvet.


The Wolf loped, dashed, and pranced back along Second Avenue; snowflakes danced in the bitter wind that blew off the Monongahela. The lights of the South Side and Downtown burned in the distance. He crossed over the river on the Hotel Metal Bridge; its dark metal trusses and electric glow embraced him.

He scanned the scene as he mounted the stairs to the pedestrian bridge, his nose and ears forewarning him.

The Wolf narrowed his eyes at the electric glare coiling his haunches.

And then…

…burst into a mad gallop.

The few Pitt students heading to the South Side were too drunk and high to process what ran past them.

Some swore later that the beast let out a deep braying, which faded into a harsh laughter.

But before anyone could get their cameras on it.

It was gone into the shadows of the riverfront trail.


Sometime later among the knots of merrymakers on East Carson Street in the South Side, the Man walked alone, a smile on his face, his eyes drinking in the young women on display around him.

The Man sat in Mario’s; the Man drank, slow and deliberate, savoring the heady beer taste and salty copper of blood mixing in his mouth.

Soon, last call rolled around and people filtered out slowly.

The Man hit the sidewalk.

Each step felt lighter than the last.

And for the first time after last call, the Man felt happy.


For all installments of “The Night Swallows the Heart,” click here.

Previous installments:

  1. Part 1