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Stomach Problems

Thursday, September 3, 2020


It’s a terrible thing to be ruled by one’s appetite; having to spend every waking moment wondering what—if anything—is for lunch; sniffing the air for dinner suggestions; and howling in the dark over the emptiness of one’s stomach. Worse, people hate me for the very thing I can never control.

Perhaps they attack me for what they fear to find in themselves. It disgusts them. I disgust—and frighten—them.

I freely confess to having a big appetite; but, no matter how much they preach about moderation and a healthy diet, I still can’t stop myself from eating everything I get the chance to sink my teeth into. You think fat-shaming is bad?

Try being a wolf.

Life is brutal and unfair in a world over-run with judgmental humans. At best, they mistrust me and regard me as some sort of evil monster. At worst—well I don’t like to think too much about that.

It’s depressing, so let’s change the subject. 

I must tell you about my day. I was sniffing about in the forest, as I always do, when a delicious aroma wafted my way. It was rich and buttery, accented with toasted nuts, vanilla, and—if I was not mistaken—just a hint of spice. Maybe nutmeg? Cinnamon? But that was just the dessert menu! I could also smell an entrée. One of my all-time favorites.

Little girl.

I could hardly believe my good fortune! I carefully crept upwind—so I wouldn’t miss any of those mouth-watering scents. And, before you ask, my mouth did water—the fur around my muzzle was soaking wet. Not foaming-at-the mouth wet, mind you, but wet enough to arouse suspicion in anyone so inclined. I judiciously wiped my muzzle with both paws, and stepped into the path before her.

She was startled, at first—but when I spoke to her, she relaxed. It’s not often that one encounters a suave and congenial forest creature. I could see that she found me almost as charming as I find myself. She told me that she was on her way to visit her Gammy, who wasn’t feeling well. She felt her grandmother could use some cheering up. I complimented her on her kind concern for the old woman—all while thinking the little girl would make a tasty snack.

“You know…” I suggested, “I’ll bet your grandmother would love a bunch of forget-me-nots. I saw a patch of them blooming not far from here.” Seeing how appropriate my recommendation was, she smiled, thanked me, and left to gather the flowers.

Humans are always going on and on about how clever foxes are. You would think that no other members of the dog family had any smarts. C’mon people—we’re not all like your stupid inbred purse puppies. I planned ahead, to maximize my rewards. Rather than eating the little girl (and the fragrant cake in her basket) right away, I figured I could eat her grandmother first—and have the rest for dessert!

As soon as she turned the corner of the path, I took off the other way. I boundied through the woods, making a beeline to her grandmother’s cottage. Once there, I paused at the edge of the clearing to catch my breath. I crept up to the door, low, so I wouldn’t be seen from the ivy-covered cottage’s little windows. I knocked lightly on the front door.

No response.

I knocked again, a little harder.

No Response.

I pounded loudly.

“Who’s there?” came a cracked voice from deep inside the tiny house.

Using my best falsetto, I answered, “It’s me, Gammy—Little Red Riding Hood. I’ve come to visit you.”


I repeated my lie—louder, this time, which was difficult because I was afraid my falsetto would break under the strain. It didn’t. A little old lady, dressed in a flowered nightshirt and matching cap, opened the door. Before she had a chance to see that I was not her favorite grandchild, and slam the door, I burst through, knocking over some furniture and knickknacks in the process. 

I ripped off her clothes and gobbled her up. 

She was okay—a bit dry and stringy for my taste, but I was hungry enough not to mind.

Next, I had to prepare for the next part of the day’s menu plan. I straightened up the room, sweeping a couple of broken Hummel figurines into the fireplace ashes. I put on the nightshirt and cap, drew the blinds so the room would be dark, and climbed into the bed. I was still warm. Nice.

I was dozing comfortably when I heard a faint knocking sound.

I didn’t respond.

The knocking came again, a little louder.

I didn’t respond.

The knocking came again, much louder this time.

“Who’s there?” I asked, using my best—slightly cracked—falsetto voice.

From behind the old oaken door came the reply, “It’s me, Gammy—Little Red Riding Hood. I’ve come to visit you.”

“The door’s open, dear—come on in.”

From under the covers, I could see her silhouette in the doorway. She couldn’t see me, at first, but her eyes gradually adjusted to the cottage’s dim light. She then began making comments about my distinctly ungrandmotherlike appearance. I managed, in my sweetest falsetto, to allay her fears. At least I was able to do so up to the point where she said, “My what big teeth you have, Grammy!” That was getting too close to home.

 I leapt from under the faded quilt and wolfed her down (you see what I did there?). She was, exactly as anticipated, tender sweet, and delicious. I put a pot of water on the stove for tea. When it was ready, I enjoyed a leisurely dessert, savoring every last crumb of the cake from the girl’s basket. My belly filled, and my mind well-pleased by the day’s successes, I decided to take a nap in grannie’s feather bed.

I was just drifting off to dreamland—where fat juicy sheep bounded, one after another, into my waiting jaws—when I was roused by a loud banging at the door. Noiselessly creeping to the window, I peered through a gap in the still-drawn curtains. Outside, to my utter dismay, a large, muscular woodsman stood, poised to break down the door. In one clenched fist he held a large, scary, and very sharp, axe.

The rest of the story is too painful to retell.

This story is excerpted from Backstories: As retold by Gary Allen, available in two formats:


©2020 Gary Allen



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