Beware the Cape – Epilogue

Moons pass her quickly now.  Jezzibelle, four decades past her wolf story, stares at 16 year old granddaughter.  She has bestowed a red velvet cape.  A shadow of the one her Grandmother gave her.  Every facial feature, every long flowing blonde hair, every bit of her former shape confronts her.

Heidi looks at the red cape and pushes her chocolate eyes to her adoring Grandmother.  “It’s beautiful!  I’ve never felt such soft fabric.  It’s my favorite color, too!!”

“You’ll be the center of attention everywhere you go, my darling.  Wear it well. Head high, hair slightly covered.  I had one once.  It was back when I was your age.  I was the littlest one.  It was my first piece of new clothing.  I wore beautifully repaired hand me downs.  But beware, the attention has a price.  You need to be careful of what people want from you.” She looks down at her former self in marvel.

“I know your story!  I can’t believe that was you.  You are not the wild type!  You are old and slow.  I think of how you most have looked when you were my age.  But your eyes are much bigger.  Your eyes are much bigger.  And they say you had a sharp tongue.  I see none of those in me.” Heidi smiles an innocent smile, that hides secrets.  Grandmothers know the smile well.

“Remember child.  I moved here to start a new life. I was once much like you.  As once I stand here now, soon you shall be in my place.  The secrets come out in the wash. Now, little one, it’s time to open the shop for the day.  Put on your red cape, Le Pettit Chaperon Rouge Chocolate shop waits for no one!”  Grandmother doesn’t promise her the house or the business.

The trail of breadcrumbs starts here…


The Wolf –  Beware the Red Cape

The grass at the edge of the woods offers places to stalk prey.  But the wolf isn’t hunting.  His attention is on the bulk of a human called the Huntsman.  His black hair like flowing coal.  His eyes locked on the wolf’s friend Jezzibelle.  The both of them watch a dance of youth through wildflowers.  Her hair slowly emerges like a yellow bloom as she moves.  The Huntsman hold his ground while being drawn in at the same time.

“Humans are so hard to figure out.  They stay at the edges and expect to meet in the center together somehow.  It looks like one of them will get what they want, he always does.”  The wolf sighs.  He has seen enough.

The wolf sees a rabbit hop into the woods.  His mouth forms a snarl.  Small rabbit is a tender nugget.  He starts a silent trot.  The bunny works his way down a wide path. He’s is unaware of the shadow moving closer.  The wolf gets close enough to taste the bunny.  The favorite part of hunting know the moment of the kill is at hand.  Your hand.  As his smile gets too large to open his mouth the bunny makes a sudden right.  Hopping graceful at lightning speed.  The wolf sits back and can only watch as the bunny disappears into the woods.

His belly growls.  Hunger is a constant companion for the wolf.  The is never a meal to turn down.  His thoughts of the girl have gone away.  The Huntsman has him concerned.  If he stalks her.  Then he knows the wolf.  Wolves don’t let anyone follow them.  It time to do something about the might hunter.  But first, the stomach needs an easy meal.

The wolf trots down the center of the wide path.  Filtered sunlight come and go across the way.  Dark patches require a little more attention.  Someone maybe be waiting for him to eat them.  Alas, nothing turns up.  Until a clearing catches his eye, a same patch of grass  leads to a couple Black Walnut trees and a hickory.  A small cabin rests under them.  Rock faces and  brown wood mix with old plaster.  The roof has a few patches of moss and grass growing on it.  The wolf has been here before.  He was welcome visitor at one time.

He cautiously approaches the cabin.  Slinking along the wood side of the grass, he circles the cabin three times.  The are no sounds inside or outside.  His meal might be right here.  His slow approach to the front door is straight foward.  The door is the only way in or out.

He tries the latch on the door.  A simple catch any nose could lift does just fine.  The door lets in light severally lacking inside.  A wide beam rushes in the foot wide opening.  It crosses a wooden block table, a ladder back chair, part of a fireplace, before crashing into the far wall, only to bounce back on to an elderly woman.   The solitary figure lifts up just enough to notice.  Eyeglasses reflect sparkles of light.  

The wolf walks in and sits just inside the door.  He looks about the old cabin.  It’s dark.  He lets his eyes adjust as he takes in the view.  The cabin is a lost hour of time.  The cast iron ware has layers of carbon.  The wood furniture worn to fit particular bodies over the years.  The fabric making curtains were feed bags of long lost animals raised under sapling trees.  The simple plain large room just big enough to hold a lifetime of memories.

“You have come for me, Mr Wolf?  I was hoping it was my granddaughter.  She is due.  Well, overdue as always!  Matters little to you I am sure.  Be quick about it!  Are you the one that ate from my table?!  Now come to consume me?  I’m a tough gristle filled woman.  No tenderness to savor.”  She doesn’t feel the need to rise up much.  She coughs the tired cough of old age.

“It’s just business.  We are here to clean up after the world.  No malice!  No hostility! I remember your kindness.  Our pack never stole one chicken from you. Can I bring you something first?” The wolf stays in place next to the door.  His ears focused outside.  He is keenly aware he got here first.  But unaware of who all is still coming.

“You are too kind…’before I eat you…do you need something?’ I could not be dinner to a more polite and socially graced beast.”  Her cough breaks up her words. “No, I have waited for death for weeks on end.  His scythe used to harvest those more ready to meet their demise.  I’m hungry and feeble.”

“Very well.  Death doesn’t make the house calls he used to.  His thrill is in those who are unaware that he sat at their table, drank their wine, smoked their tobacco before he cut them down.  He take them in their prime or in the crib.  Sorry, it is the scavenger for the elderly.” The wolf slowly creeps up to her bedside.  There is a moment when his heart sinks.  His hollow stomach pushes it back in place. 

His face enlongates.  Great yellow fangs come forward.  His eyes once lively and chocolate brown, blacken and hollow.  The hair on his nape jumps upright by a full inch.  His forelimb muscles tighten to reveal strength few see twice.  His game is to pounce.  He lands on her chest staring straight through her soul by way of her eyes.

“My rod and staff comfort me.  I fear not…” Grandmother never gets to finish.

The wolf drags her out of bed.  Her pulls her limp body outside into the yard.  She deserves dignified end.  Not the slowly death she was lingering for.

He makes quick work of her trying to make his get away sooner rather than later.  He belly is calming.  His spirit starts to lift.  It’s far better not to know your meal. His right hind leg feels a burning sensation.  Pain, burning pain erupts into the muscle.  His legs kick him instinctively into motion.  He can’t run like he wants to.  He turns to see the Huntsman.  His bow a long line across him, arrow notched ready for flight.  A red cape trying to stay out of the way behind him. The arrow sails next to him.  Better not be here for another.  He turns to run.  The second and third catch him in to left leg.  He is hobbled.  If he can make the woods, he can bite the son of a bitch on the way out.

The Huntsman jogs across the field.  He makes haste closing on the wounded animal.  His axe is out.  His favorite part is the kill.  This is special.  He seen the wolf with Jezzibelle before she went into the meadow.  The wolf had played her.  He would gut that mangy piece of vermin for this.

The wolf hears the feet coming.  He knows his end is here.  Just get him close enough to wound the hunter.  Noble death at least.  His chance comes and he barrel rolls with the hunter feet away.  His fangs snatch at air.  The Huntsman drops the axe across his belly slicing him collar to groin.  In a collapsing mass, entrails of grandmother are revealed.  The Huntsman rears back at the sight.  He turns to an approaching Jezzibelle.

Her face is compact and she is crying.  Her eyes much like a raccoon.  Her hair no longer glowing and the red cape has fallen back to a streamer.  She has yet to see the worst of it.

“Grandmother is gone!!  She is gone!  What did you do?  The wolf did this because of you….”  Her words fail as reality shows her fears do make life true. “How am I supposed to explain this?  I mean if we don’t…. She is still alive!  Go get someone!  Who do we get for this?”

Her meltdown has just began.  

The trail of breadcrumbs starts here…

The Huntsman- Beware the Red Cape

“Little girl!  You are a long way from the village and that wolf isn’t the type of friend you need.” His dark hair shines a halo on his wavy black hair.  He places his crossbow into a back sling.  Flexing some exaggerated biceps for emphasis.  His smile wide framed by beard and mustache.  Dark eyes show clear from a hundred yards.  The most up close hundred yards ever.

“Am not so little, mister hunter!”  The dancer draws upright with an arch to her back to best show him where she has grown up.  “I have few choices in escorts.  What is a girl to do in a dark woods?!  I came to the field to gather flowers for my grandmother.  You are far too burly for flower gathering.  You would break them to bits.”  

Jezzibelle holds her ground.  The man should come to her.  She crosses her arms in an effort to separate the bodice a touch more.  She pulls back to hood of her cape.  Blonde long wavy locks spill out.  A glow catches her.

The Huntsman sighs quietly. “A woman would meet me halfway!  I might be able to walk you to your grandmother’s but I have things to kill.  People need to eat and the jingle of coin makes my heart almost as happy as the gorgeous smile you wear.  But my eyes grow weary of statues.”

She steps forward a dozen times.  She brakes her stride to pick a few Black Eyed Susans. “You aren’t pricing flowers!  If you want to help me…. You could go off and kill something quicker that way.” Her eyes size him up as he approaches her.

He keeps eyes forward while snaring a handful of Queen Anne’s Lace and Coneflowers in perfect stride.   His eyes return the favor of seeing what he’s up against.  “Two bottles of wine for such a small person.  Am I intruding on another rondezvous?  Maybe your interlude has another man…. Hate to be in the way.”

“Oh there’s no one else.  I mean what makes you think I’m sharing the wine with someone.  Grandmother needs to feel better, after all.  She’s sick and all.”  Her sudden answer slowly ends.  Her interest in what he might do grows faster than her thought of making him keep his hands and arms elsewhere.  He is so much bigger up close.  Her heart sputters at being a woman for his taking.  Her head spins back to her basket.  There is an audible snap in the breaking of eye contact. “Maybe….I could spare a bottle to share.  But only if your a gentleman.  I don’t want you to have the wrong idea of me.  I have a good family to think of.”

“You get what, you get little girl.  No more! No less! So either open the wine, or we walk you to….that house under the Black Walnuts and Hickories.  Your choice.”  His eyes actually burn on her skin.  He knows she is young and easy to lead astray with a touch of wine.

“Stop looking at me like that!  I’m not a piece of meat.  If I were, you’d kill me with that crossbow or axe.  I’ll share my wine but only if we go right after its drank.”  She pops the cork out of the stubby bottle.  Her eyes take a drink in as she tastes dandelion wine.  

The Huntsman grabs the bottle so both hands stay on together.  Her smile turns smirk and a little coy.  After her third drink she raises on her toes to taste second hand wine on his lips.  His embrace swallows her whole.  Large coarse hands kneed her like clay.   His kiss takes away her breath as she fails to fight for its return.  Her heart explodes.  She loses her vertical world falling like a sack of flour.  The dull thud muffled by rustling clothes being freed.  In a faint glimpse of innocence she peeps “wait, I’m not sure about this.”

He burns through her paper resistance.  Lust proves stronger again and again.  Her body both given and taken.  The warmth of the Sun cool in comparison to the Huntsman.  Her world swings wildly.

Reality crashes through.  She sees him standing above her.  So much larger now.  Her body strongly colder by the instant.  His smile has shifted to more pride than anything.

“You said we need to make haste to grandmother’s house.  Let’s straight you up a bit.  You look like you got tossed a bit.”  He puts out his right hand to help her up and finishes off the dandelion wine.

The trial of breadcrumbs starts here…

Beware the Red Cape – Into the Woods

Jezzibelle takes the basket outside.  The wood frame house clusters with twenty others.  A handful of trees and a split rail fence make an acre plot.  Gardens, chickens and outbuildings fill the space.   She loosens the strings that draw her bodice tight to her neck.  Her red velvet cape makes her special.  The blonde locks shows her off to the world.

“Mama, I’m off!  I’ll be back by evening.” She sings like a bird taking flight. 

The woods lay across a open field.   It stretches several hundred yards.  Her pace fleeing is brisk.  Almost suddenly,  wheat fields turn to weeds and shrubs, then tall trees heading for the skies. The dark woods hold wide paths.  But what lies of the path can prove troubling. 

“Jezzibelle! Oh, Jezzi!” The pale wolf runs up to her and then jumps into grass at wood’s edge. “I can see you!  Can you see me?”

“I hate your game!  I’m busy today.   Must go to grandmother’s house. No time for you, Mr Wolf.”  She dismisses him, but keeps a weary eye on his direction. 

“She’s still sick.  Sick people don’t eat much.  Pinch new off some of that…Smoked Beef!  Oh? Please…just a taste.  Ok, just toss a bit of bread.  I’d hate to have my belly think friendship is over rated. A wolf is a wolf, little one.”  The wolf counters.
“No! I gave you some chicken last time. You were going to walk me there!  Remember?!  I’ll just see if the Huntsman can help a maiden.  He won’t threaten to eat me!”  She raises her nose to the sky and turns away from him.

“Easy my little dear!  Just trying to get a treat.  You better be careful of the Huntsman.   He’ll do much worse things to a fine little girl in these dark woods.  Your grandmother would approve.  The family talks about you and your parents already.  Grandmother was friendly to the wolf pack once.  Say? Are you getting her place when she dies?  We’ll be neighbors.   More reason to help your wolf friend.” The wolf pushes her to the side of the path by walking against her.  “You want to go into the field and pick some flowers for grandmother.  It’ll cheer her up. Of course, I could help get that house quicker for you.   A nice wine with an old geezer…just a thought.”

“Be gone you beast!  Not yet! Not yet!  She’s still my grandmother. My dream of being there alone…Someday.   Be gone beast!  Take some bread.  You’re right about the flowers.   Queen Ann’s Lace and Black Eyed Susan and Coneflowers.” She waves him off, then throws a chunk of bread behind her.

A secluded field hides like a treasure chest.  Nature’s gems sparkle in the Sun. She dances out into the light.  Her arms spread and like a bee buzzes from flower to flower. She hums a ditty.  Her moves become more exaggerated.  The rush of freedom is like a drug. Her movement stops on a dime.

The Huntsman is staring.  His smile is overly friendly.  A brawny man twice her size with wide shoulders, black shagging hair and rough beard longs at her.  The stare is returned in hearts.

Trouble is the purest, simple flower on a vine with thousands of thorns that will produce a million seeds.

Part 1

Beware the Red Cape – The Beginning 

“Jezzibelle! Jezzibelle! Where are you?”  Mama calls out.  

She washes her hands with lye soap as she looks out the open window.  Mama is nervous about sending the girl off alone.  She is of age now, but so easily swayed from her chores.  Mama knows the family trait to do the easy gains runs deep in her.  But Mama’s love can cure all ills.  Her Mama told her the way to be.  It’s that figure Jezzibelle is developing she is more concerned with. 

Her own Mama has not responded to the traditional cures.  Leaches have proved ineffective to her maladies.  Herbal wraps have made her skin glow in the palest of white, lacking the rudiness of life.  Charcoal chunks have pasted through her without taking the problem with them.

Mama shuffles through bottles of homemade wine.  Dandelion wine, it’s pale yellow color and gentle flavor would be prefect for a picnic.  Today it’s a message to get well.  A smoked chunk of beef rests inside a burlap sack.  Two half pieces of bread complete the basket.  A single sage smudge stick wrapped inside kept out and bugs.

“Where is that girl?  I shouldn’t trust her.  My Mama isn’t getting better since Jezzibelle has taken over the role of care taker.  I hope Jezzibelle isn’t a burden to her.  Mama loves her so.  The red cape of velvet came from her grandmother.  It gave her a certain glow of vibrant womanhood at the young age.  And I remember being that age….The day Derrick came to the farm…I could careless he was so much older.  There are men waiting to get a hold of her.  Her uncles tell me how much she would fetch us.  Maybe the men know best.  It’s a lot of money.  She will need someone to keep her well.”  Mama reflects on the regrets of life and what future her daughter will be strattled with.

“Mama, what is it.  I was playing with Mindy’s dog.  He’s so cute.  I wish we could have that dog.  He keeps the ghastly beasts from the forest at bay.  Please, could we get one! I really think it would be best.  They haven’t lost a single chicken in months. And I would…” Jezzibelle tries to plead her case.

“Enough child!  You know what I need from you.  Take that basket to grandmother!  She hasn’t been by.  She still bed ridden.  You must take care of her for me.  I packed it well.  It’s early.  The field and woods will be cool.  Make haste child.  If it gets too warm the animals will smell the food.  They will stalk you, and steal the food.  Those ugly old wolves might hunt you too.  Take your cape!  Grandmother will only recognize you in it.  Her vision was really poor last week.”  Mama is nervous and shaking.  “Don’t you snoop around her corners!  She will hear you!  She doesn’t like snoops.  You may get her home one day.”

“Mama, I love grandmother.  Will she be ok?  I fear she’ll die.  I’ll never have her long enough. I want her to know my babies.  I don’t want to live there without her.” Jezzibelle kicks at her feet and tries to avoid her mother’s gaze.  

“Stay on the path!  Don’t stop to talk to anyone!  There are strangers who might want this food or try to take you away.  A pretty girl like you needs to be careful around strangers.” Mama warns her.

“You worry too much, Mama.  I’ll be fine.  I have seen a few people in my trips.  They know me now.  They will help me.”  Jezzibelle puts her hand on Mama’s arm.

Mama looks at her with a mix of unsure feelings and hope. Her heart lends itself to worrying about one thing at a time.