it was in the latter days of autumn that i met the man people would come to call simply "the wolf". his real name was john sykes, he was a citizen of this great nation, although few wished to recognize it. when we first came to know each other it was at a cocktail party at the university. he was quite drunk and had managed himself into a corner where the traffic of dress-ruffs and mirror-shined black wingtips was fairly low, slumping into his unbuttoned collar and mumbling to himself or to one of the rancorous children dodging through the crowd whom he had caught and taken to breathing whisky-soaked words upon. he was not so much a slob as a man of little compunction and fortified desires. he was neither obese nor slim, and was considered rather handsome to those who had seen him in passing, usually on the street, in fine attire and with a slight upturn to his grin. they did not know that he enjoyed killing and would later be dragged off by the police of this very city.

that night i found him there, quite incapacitated but very thankful and appropriate when i helped him to a cab. he gave me his card and told me to visit at some point, preferably a weekend when we could concentrate on the "truer matters of life". i slipped the card into my vest pocket and did not rediscover it until some time later, when i decided to meet the man again, curious as to his address, which placed him in the high-class hillside section of town. i donned my best blacks and was there on a saturday evening.

upon entering the antiroom of his villa i could hear distant music punctuated by raucous laughter eminating from somewhere deep in the rich folds and fumes that surrounded me. as i walked i noted persian tapestries and dark silks from the orient and various trophy skins from hottest africa. i had heard his name mentioned as a professor emeritus of the university, although that was as far as people would go before turning to different subjects, as if afraid to reveal some opinion of him that might indicate eligence or connection to him. i finally exitted onto a rather ornate patio, everywhere filled with a writhing swirl of people talking and consuming whatever they could get their hands on - drink, meat, thought, even skin, sunk in the darkened shadows of the thick ivy. quite a lusty scene, a regular bacchenal. i found him on an over-stuffed chaise lounge, without a jacket, mesmerizing a young woman in sea-foam green with his exotic, bloodshot eyes. i dared not rip either of them away from this seduction, but waited by the wall, sipping a sweet port and watching, watching. he soon crept up next to me and flopped a loose arm around my shoulders, saying how good it was that i came.

"you probably know most of the people," he started, not the least bit slured from drunkenness but with an impenetrable accent, whose origin i could only fathom to be a mix of every region on the planet, including atlantis and the lost city of gold. it took me a few moment to atune myself to his speach, aided by his gesticulations. "they don't normally act this way if you see them at the university or the market. quite incredible, really. and i barely know a one of them. but they know me... they've heard the stories."

"they look like they feel quite familiar here, though. you say they don't know you?" i threw out, hoping that i could perhaps unlock some door that would explain to me the lush scene before me. the city is quite gray normally, but here were the colors and life of fire.

"oh, they call me by name, offer me their cards and invite me to soires, but not a one look me in the eye when they do it. they hear things about me. my past, my hobbies, my love of wine and women. i do not apologize for my passions, and for this they find me a curiousity. where they have wonder and no substance they invent. you know they say my father was a satyr, my mother an unsuspecting tourist in the mediterranean. yah. quite incredible stories."

stumbling on this, i looked towards the doorway. "so, i see you've traveled. will you take me on a tour through your house?"

we left the clamour behind for the opulence of the interior, and he told me histories and grand tales of adventure and intregue, some of which sounded so fanciful that he may have dreamed them and then counted them as real. it didn't matter though... his brain was full and gushing to tell his stories. he said nobody will walk alone with him, and when they go about the halls they listen to him and nod, but he can catch fleeting glances of the emptiness in their eyes, and their controlled rush to return to the rest of the revelers. we came to a library where we sat for some time, discussing french literature and social philosophies, and he would often argue for the side of a theory that had lost the intellectual battle of acceptance. i came to understand that he had many thoughts about society, and not all of them congratulatory. "people are mostly wolves trussed up in tight britches," he said at one point. his bitterness gave his face a sharp look, and i could understand that people had turned him this way. the very things that flocked around him made him sick, like they soiled his truth.

"i've found something that they want, something that they will not allow themselves to have. i have become their medicine man of sorts, a leader who gives them a path to where they want to go, and they fear my control. that girl back there? i could make her live out here deepest passions if i wanted... she gave herself to me without even knowing it. if i can show everyone else their own perfect gardens from atop my pedastle, think of what i could do to her."

the look in his eyes frightened me, and he was lost in a dark realization. i excused myself for the night, thanking him for the tour and the talk and promising to come back. i myself was intriqued, not so much like the others, but more in him, in his inner vision that i could only imagine was some sort of wild conceptualization of the baseness of the world and its inhabitants. i couldn't help but to feel that he was, in a way, right about some of our fundamental drives, but to live completely in the hold of these ideas! it would drive one quite mad, or else turn inward and twist into something frighteningly attractive.

the next day i read in the paper that the daughter of the president of the university board was missing.


i really struggle with this and am not satisfied or convinced that it accomplishes my original intent. i wanted to reverse the em story, so that the man was ugly on the inside and quite handsome. the idea was to reverse some things while keeping others the same... the man discovers the monstrosity instead of the inner honorability.the narator is outside the rest, not outwardly subject to the same forces as the rest but taken by the same curiousity, twisted in his own way. i try to mention things that em doesn't - sex, money, to set him apart, but also deal with same issues of curiousity, disgust, also the reluctance to believe stories of extreme. he is untouchable because if some force. he has control, which merrick did not, and this is where i fear i have departed too far from the story. i end up trying to show how much people project onto other people their own fears and desires, such as people wanting to see the e.m. so as to not feel ugly themselves. i think this gets accross a bit differently here, and the corelation with the e.m. is weak. darn. i'm also not convinced by my own character... sykes is not truly evil... it's not a far jump from lush to killer, so it is not as much of a surpise as it is when we find out that the e.m. is really a good, kind guy. if i had it to do over again i would try a different angle, but i got too deep here to start again. in any case, i hope you enjoy what is here.

grendel's workshop