Fiction

Bad Mr Wolfe

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‘Is there something wrong Mrs Hood?’ I had unloaded the ivy-clad logs into to the lean-to shed and was returning to the pick-up to fish out the invoice.

    ‘It’s Ginger. She took some cake over to Mom’s house this afternoon. She should have been back by now.’

    ‘Have you phoned your Mother?’

    ‘That’s what’s so weird, she’s not picking up. Would you mind dropping in Cubby? It’ll be dark soon, Ginger ought to stay the night with Mom.’

 

A crow would have taken five minutes to get to her mother’s house, but the metalled track snaked through the woods that encircled the razor-wired grounds of the Loup Hall Asylum.

    It was dark by the time my tyres crunched the gravel outside old Mrs Hood’s cottage. There was something wrong. By now her fire should have been lit and the light in her kitchen should have illuminated the cottage garden.

    A blood-curdling scream filled the night air.

    I rushed to the front door, smashing the lock with the butt of my chainsaw. As I ran down the hall, there were sounds of a struggle coming from the kitchen. I forced opened the door. There in front of me was the shape of Mrs Hood grappling with the door of the old larder.

    ‘Are you alright Mrs Hood?’

    The woman’s face was covered, but I caught a glimpse of long grey nasal hairs. It was so sad, because the old dear had been a looker in her time. A queen of Broadway, whose face had adorned the glossy magazines covers of my youth.  Second glances seemed to be more akin to morbid fascination now, as she wiped her wet nose with her sleeve.  Blood red eyes looked through the gap in her scarf.

     ‘I’m fine.’ Her voice was gruff. ‘Go away.’ My heart went out to her. That pretty voice from those wonderful 1960s musicals had been reduced to this. Still, that’s cigarettes for you.

    ‘I thought I heard a scream.’

    ‘Burnt m’self getting something out of the oven; that’s all.’

    A large haunch of meat filled the roasting pan. ‘Venison?’ I asked.

    'I said beat it punk.’

    ‘Sorry Mrs Hood, but your daughter asked me to drop in. She was worried. Has Ginger been to visit you?’ There was a thump from the other side of the larder door.

    ‘What’s in there?’ I said.

    ‘Oh silly me,’ growled the old woman,  ‘I’ll let the dog out of there in a minute. Now go. The girl left five minutes ago, why don’t you give her a lift home. She can’t have got far.’

 

As I made my way back on to the track, red and blue flashing lights blocked my way.

    ‘Howdy Mr Wood,’ said Sergeant Mills.

    ‘Hi Andy. Somit up?’

    ‘Breakout from the asylum. Hector Wolfe, the Minnesota Cannibal, cut his way through the wire.’

    ‘What was he committed for?’

    ‘He eats people, that’s what cannibals do.’

    ‘I’m worried about Little Ginger Hood. She’s gone missing, you haven’t seen her?’

    ‘No. Hopefully she’ll be OK with Hector Wolfe, he likes to eat the elderly. Says they taste better and he likes the chewy bits.’

    ‘Well Old Mrs Hood is OK. I’ve just left her.’

    ‘Wonderful singer. I’ve got all the LPs. She’s still got that voice you know. She sang for us at Holly’s wedding.’ Andy gazed at the full moon. ‘She wasn’t able to eat anything we’d prepared for the wedding feast though. What with her being a vegetarian.’

    ‘What’s one of those?’

    ‘She don’t eat meat.’

    ‘What?’ Something felt wrong, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. ‘Not even venison?’

    ‘That’s the last thing the star of Bambi: the Stage Show would eat.’

    ‘Well she must have changed her ways, she’s cooking a large haunch at this very moment.’

 

Andy was in that house before I’d put two and two together. It wasn’t Mrs Hood in the kitchen, it was Hector Wolfe. By the time I got back to the house, Wolfe was holding Ginger by the neck. A carving knife at her throat.

    ‘Keep back,’ he told Andy, ‘or the girl gets it.’ I took my chance. Pulled the cord on my chain saw. Surprised, Wolfe released the girl. She ran towards the policeman. Wolfe charged at me with the knife.

    I’m not quite sure how it happened. It was a reflex I think. Wolfe’s head lay blinking on the gravel, while the rest of his body slumped to the ground.

 

*

 

The police detective finished reading the statement.

    ‘It all seems a bit far fetched to me.’

    ‘It’s the truth sir,’ said Cubby Wood, shuffling his huge arse on the hard bench.

    ‘And you maintain that the girl was taken away by this mystery policeman?’ said the detective.

    ‘Sure.’

    ‘There’s no Sergent Andrew Mills based here.’

    ‘Maybe I got the name wrong.’

    The door opened and a uniformed officer handed the detective an ancient buff folder.

    ‘Thanks officer,’ he looked down at the open folder, and skimmed through the top page of yellowed paper. ‘Hector Wolfe must have been a strong Eighty year old to do what you said he did.’

    ‘Yeap. He was sir.’

    ‘How long have you worked in these wood?’

    ‘A while.’

    ‘Since you were a boy?’

    ‘Maybe.’

    ‘Since your father was put away in Loupe Hall?’

    ‘I don’t know what you mean?’

    ‘It’s Cubby Wolfe, not Wood, isn’t it?’ The woodsman sat there, saying nothing. ‘You cut the fence and freed your father. You went to the cottage together.’

    A muscle in Cubby’s face twitched.

    ‘Mr Wolfe, what happened to Ginger?’ Cubby licked a drop of blood from one of his canines. He was saying nothing.