Mountain Dogs

Vuk, a man with a background no two villagers could agree on, ran the cafe in the small mountain town.

Vuk, which in Serbian means wolf, was from the Balkans, the forested area, pi11225919_10153392362649866_1486448036_ncking plums in the summer, and clearing brandy glasses from the scuffed wooden tables of the town cafe in the wintertime. He was often teased, especially on nights of a full moon, where he might suck down too much, until he was aslant. And when he drank enough he’d been known to howl.

They told him he was an orphan and that he had been brought up by the village, he was everyone’s child. The truth was on a snowy night many years ago a gathering of wolves dropped a wicker basket on the doorstep of the cafe and setup a caterwauling until sleepy humans stumbled out to investigate.

Thus the boy was named Vuk, thus the nipper was raised a ward of the cafe. Vuk would grow up to be grateful and resentful, affectionate yet dangerous. The old cafe owner, who would one day die a nightmare end of attrition as he lost limbs to diabetes until he was a stump in a wheelchair, he loved the lad. He had Vuk parade him around in his rusty rickety chair. Vuk was strong and easily rolled the old man up and down dale. He could shove that recalcitrant chair through knee-high mud.

No one guessed it was anything but an accident when the wheelchair plus occupant was discovered at the bottom of a steep slope of poplar trees. In a heap, in sulfuric rotting leaves, no one ever noticed the puncture marks on the old man’s neck.

There was speculation naturally, cautious whisperings, but no one had any proof. They continued to patronize the cafe and treated Vuk with respectful trepidation.

I’m from a land of vampires and wolf dogs.

Živeli Vuk!