Hollis Seamon

"Annus Mirabilis" was originally published in The Nebraska Review, Winter 2002.

It's a form of fiction I call "Urban Magic Realism."

Annus Mirabilis

The Wolf
At first, there weren’t any wolves in the neighborhood. Well, maybe there were wolf pups. Wolves in training, so to speak. But they weren’t particularly ravenous. They were just punks. Teenage boys. One of them, named Robby, lived in the house on the other side of Viv’s. (Other meaning the opposite from the house where Amanda lived and played her music.) Robby didn’t go to school much. No, Robby and two of his punky friends hung out in the old wooden shed behind Robby’s house, where their comings and goings were perfectly visible to Vivian, from her kitchen window. Now that she was home in the mornings, humming happily and kneading dough at the table near the window, she saw Robby and the other punks daily. Did they think that they were invisible, that they’d escaped the eyes of all adults, all authorities, all the grown-ups who thought that boys should go to school? No! They weren’t stupid boys, only willfully and stubbornly ignorant. No, they knew that Vivian could see them. And they could see that she didn’t care. They could see that she was harmless, a crazy woman who read to the neighborhood nutsos on her porch. A weirdo. Hell, she waved from her window, smiling at them. They kept their dope in the shed; they smoked it without worry, letting its fragrance fill the autumn air, drifting over the back yards, as once the smell of burning leaves had done, when backyard leaf fires were still allowed. Once, even, Robby came to Vivian’s door and asked if she had any lighter fluid. They wanted to cook hot dogs, Robby said, on the grill in the shed. But they couldn’t get the coals to catch. Vivian had said, sure, sure she had lighter fluid and she’d handed it over. Why not? Vivian was happy these days. She was well-fucked and well-fed and free. She wanted everyone to be the same and she didn’t care if boys went to school or not. She thought they were good enough boys. Sly, a little stupid, but not bad. Surely not.
And, truly, they didn’t start out as wolves. But there were all those long days in a shed, nothing to do. Boredom. The beginnings of cold weather, as late October brought down the leaves and scattered them on cold morning breath. Where would these pup-punks go, when the shed dripped with icicles? Where would they harbor then? Would they have to give in? Go to school, for the sake of radiators? Find a cave, grow fur?
Well, almost. Because on the morning of November 8—a Wednesday, the day the Prince had gone to court, to be taken, he’d said happily, for everything he owned—Vivian looked out her window and saw that the boys had found a leader. She raised her eyes from the lovely brown dough—whole wheat today—on the bread board, and saw a new boy in the yard. An older boy, lean as a rail. His hair slicked behind his ears. A boy who walked with a limp, hunched against the cold. A boy whose cheeks were gray with stubble. Vivian felt a chill run up her back. She leaned toward the window, her face close to the cold pane.
The older boy—we might as well just call him the Wolf, since you’ve already guessed who he is—had disappeared into the shed.

Selected Works

short story excerpt
Title story in anthology "The Strange History of Suzanne LaFleshe" (The Feminist Press, Fall 2003.)

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