Underneath the Moon
By Jeff Baker
Greg Toliver stepped off his front porch into the light from the rising full Moon.
“Here, boy! Bryan! Come on, boy!” he said whistling. “Dammit!”
They’d loved the short cartoon of the guy going after his boyfriend when he turned into a wolf under the Moon, but it was no fun when it happened for real. It hadn’t happened in a while, though. It was probably all the stress, usually Bryan kept it under control, but not tonight.
Greg going through chemotherapy had been rough on both of them, but Bryan had been the tough one. Always there, always encouraging. Driving him back and forth to his doctor’s. Not objecting when Greg had come back from the store with a six pack of beer and gotten drunk after he was told he had cancer. At least everything was looking pretty good after six months; the chemo seemed to be working. But all the worry had probably built up on Bryan and when the Moon rose that evening, zingo! He was a big, yellow-gray wolf. He’d pushed open the door and out he went.
Bryan had changed several times when they had first gotten together; he explained that it was just a matter of willpower to keep the wolf in check. Nothing dangerous, but a wolf in a neighborhood was still a wolf.
“C’mon, Bryan, dammit!” Greg wondered how much intelligence Bryan had this time. Usually when he willed the change, he kept his faculties but with a wolf’s instincts, he’d explained to Greg. Changing totally involuntarily like this probably meant the wolf had largely taken over.
But he’s still Bryan, Greg thought. He’s stressed, he’s scared, and he’s overwhelmed. What does Bryan do when he feels like that?
Greg unlocked the side door to the old wooden garage detached from the bungalow they rented. There was a doggie door on the side, just like the one on the back door just in case he was locked-out when he changed, voluntarily or involuntarily. When the full Moon did it, Bryan was a wolf for the night. Greg shut the door and listened. He heard a panting. Greg bent down under the vintage car Bryan was restoring. He always came out here to relax. Usually in coveralls, not fur. He squinted in the dim light. Bryan, the yellow-gray wolf was lying down beside the rear tire under the car, head on his forepaws, eyes looking up, glittering in the light.
“Hey, Bryan,” Greg said. “It’s okay, buddy! I know you’re stressed-out, but everything’s all right. What with everything that’s been going down this past year I’m surprised both of us haven’t turned into animals. Hey, come over here, okay? Come on?”
Bryan the wolf whimpered.
“Awwwww! I know, buddy! C’mon. This floor is cold, let’s go inside where it’s warm and I have leftover meatloaf. C’mon. C’mon. Atta boy.”
Bryan crawled over to Greg and nuzzled his face as Greg rubbed his fur.
After a few minutes, Greg stood up. “C’mon, Bryan.” The wolf wagged his tail as he followed Greg out the side door.
The Moon was high in the sky and Bryan’s belly was full of the slices of leftover meatloaf as he sat on the sofa next to Greg, head resting in Greg’s lap as the soft sound of their breathing and snoring filled the room.