Howl: A Mashup Story by Barbara Ardinger

Barbara ArdingerHowl!

For centuries, the wolves were the lords of the forests, ruling wisely and carefully culling the herds of the dumber animals, which actually helped to preserve many species. The wolf packs, led by their alpha females, worked to maintain the balance established by Great Mother Earth. But now a new predator was coming into the forests. Men were cutting down trees and making farms and towns and cities. They were forgetting the stewardship assigned to them by Great Mother Earth, upsetting the natural balance, making enemies of the wild creatures.


Something had to be done to save the wild places and the wild creatures. The great wolf packs called a World Parliament of Lupine Peoples, which met in a secret location in Mitteleuropa. The werewolves who attended had their own breakout session later in the week, but the men who cast wolf whistles at young women were chased away, as were all wolves in sheeps’ clothing and all wolves of Wall Street. Although there was some discussion about admitting the medieval English queens called she-wolves after a queen in one of Shakespeare’s plays (if you’re curious, it’s in Henry VI, Pt. 3), they were admitted because they were intelligent, brave, and cunning women. The Princess Lupa, stepmother of Romulus and Remus, was a special guest.

The opening session of the Parliament was called to order.“Elder Mother,” several wolves called out to the Alpha Lupa, “what are we to do about these persecutions? What are we to do about this new pogrom against us in Russia?”

“Yeah,” said the younger wolves. “It’s that damn boy again. Petrov Sergeyevich Prokofiev. Young Peter and his grandfather keep setting traps to capture our cousins. Don’t they realize we know their bird and that stupid duck are mere decoys?”

One of the more metropolitan wolves stood up. “Simple solution,” he said. “First thing, tell the orchestra to stop playing. If the music stops, the action stops. Tell the musicians to go to the New World. They’ll get better pay and benefits in New York.” The other wolves nodded. The metropolitan wolf went on. “I happen to know the cat. She’s really on our side, so all we have to do is find her a new home. Then we sneak up on the bird and the duck and invite them to lunch. While they’re roasting over the fire, we substitute puppets and tell the kid that wolves are smarter than he is. We convince Grandpa it’s time to retire and enjoy his pipe and his vodka. We tell Petrov to go to that famous ballet school in St. Petersburg. If he’s lucky, he can also learn to tapdance and go to Hollywood and co-star in RKO movies.”

The Lupine Peoples voted on this proposition, it passed, and it came to pass. Orchestras throughout the civilized world were augmented by highly talented Russian musicians and young Petrov (disguised as Fred Astaire) starred in Shall We Dance.

“There’s another villain always after us,” said a wolf sitting in the first row. “It’s that wretched girl. You know the one I mean.” They all knew. They all howled, and he went on. “She was wandering in the woods one day, and when she stopped my cousin to ask for directions to her granny’s house, he very politely set her on the right path. And you know what? The first thing she did was accuse him of stalking her and singing and singing about looking at his lunch.” The rest of the Lupine Peoples knew this, too. They howled again. Considerable discussion followed and a plan was decided.

You know this part of the story. The wolf beats Little Red to Granny’s house. Red finds someone in Granny’s bed. She comes closer. Is this really her grandmother? “Granny, what a deep voice you have.” “The better to greet you with.” “What big eyes you have.” “The better to see you with.” “What big hands you have.” “The better to hug you with.” “What a big mouth you have.” “The better to eat you with.” At which point the wolf jumps out of bed and swallows the girl up. A hunter comes by a little later and hears the wolf snoring and belching and farting. He thinks he also hears voices from inside the wolf. He rips the wolf’s belly open, and Red and Granny—strangely undigested—pop out and live happily ever after.

Little Red

That’s not the true story. After the World Parliament of Lupine Peoples adjourned, three of the stronger, wiser wolves went to France, where they hired a consulting detective to find Little Red, aka Le Petit Chaperon Rouge. (A chaperon is a big, fancy hat, here a red one.) The detective reported that Granny had retired to Aquae Sulis (Bath) in England for the healing waters there, and that Red was using her cottage for rendezvous with lumbermen. The wolves made an appointment to meet with her, but she didn’t show up. So they decided to go to Granny’s house and maybe hold a parlez-vous with her. What they didn’t know was that Red and several lumberman were lying in wait behind Granny’s cottage. Ambush! Red and the lumbermen, waving their axes, chased the three wolves round and round the little house. The wolf delegation finally escaped into the underbrush, where they howled until they were joined by wilder wolves. Thus augmented, the lupine force returned to Granny’s cottage. Red and her lumbermen tried to ambush them again, but the wolves, so to speak, outfoxed them. They cornered the girl and the lumbermen and made a circle around them and began growling and panting and slavering and slobbering and being generally scary-disgusting at them until the predators-turned-prey gave up. Red dropped her basket and the lumbermen held their hands in the air.

This was the signal for the Alpha Lupa to come forward. “Young lady,” she said, “do you realize how troublesome you have been? Lumbermen, do you realize how greedy you have become?” As the wolves sat in a closed (and still growling) circle around this parley, she continued. “Gentlemen, clear-cutting is a sin against nature. It deprives animals and birds of their homes and pollutes the land and the water. I suggest—no, I command you to stop clear-cutting. Take only what you need to build houses and furniture and use the scrap wood to make paper.” The lumbermen may have been greedy, but they knew when they were outflanked. They surrendered and signed the legal documents a well-dressed wolf who had just arrived presented to them. They were allowed to depart.

Now it was Little Red who was the center of attention. “Girl,” said the Alpha Lupa, “it’s time to grow up.” The wolves howled in agreement and licked their lips. “We’re not gonna eat you,” they assured her. “Dyed red fabric tastes awful! And you have no good meat on your bones.” The Alpha Lupa put on her judge’s robe. “I sentence you,” she said, “to probation, which will be five hundred years of work with wildlife organizations and animal rescue agencies. You have no choice. You will obey.” Red realized pretty fast how outnumbered she was. She nodded. “We want to be friends,” some of the wolves around her called out. “We have never hunted you, but you’ve been hunting us. All your “big bad wolf” stories are wrong, wrong, wrong.”

Red had to admit that they were right. From that day on, she was a model citizen who remembered to pray daily to Great Mother Earth and treated the wild ones with the respect they deserved, for she now understood that all creatures, whether they live in the cities or in the woods, are the children of Great Mother Earth. We are all kin.


Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D. (, is a published author and freelance editor. Her newest book is Secret Lives, a novel about grandmothers who do magic.  Her earlier nonfiction books include the daybook Pagan Every Day, Finding New Goddesses (a pun-filled parody of goddess encyclopedias), and Goddess Meditations.  When she can get away from the computer, she goes to the theater as often as possible—she loves musical theater and movies in which people sing and dance. She is also an active CERT (Community Emergency Rescue Team) volunteer and a member (and occasional secretary pro-tem) of a neighborhood organization that focuses on code enforcement and safety for citizens. She has been an AIDS emotional support volunteer and a literacy volunteer. She is an active member of the neopagan community and is well known for the rituals she creates and leads.

Categories: Fiction, Folklore, General, Literature

Tags: , ,

9 replies

  1. Stay tuned tomorrow for the moral of this story: Take only what you need. And take heed. xxx


  2. A great story. Wolves are amazing and wonderful creatures. I hadn’t thought about the environmental aspect of “fairy tales” but you are absolutely right that they do tell the story of human encroachment into the wild.


  3. Delightful! A very different (and happy) kind of Happy Ending. For more about wolves as keystone predator’s check out Cristina Eisenberg’s book The Wolf’s Tooth.


  4. As a bonus, if you click on the link in the title, you get the famous 1956 poem titled “Howl” by beat poet Allen Ginsberg. Ginsberg describes the nightmare he sees as society in the 1950s. It’s pretty scary. There’s also a semi-famous movie about Ginsberg and the obscenity trial his poetry led to. Here’s how the poem begins:

    I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness,
    starving hysterical naked,
    dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking
    for an angry fix,
    angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly
    connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,
    who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking
    in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating
    across the tops of cities contemplating jazz,


  5. And this just occurs to me: Women Who Run with the Wolves (1992) by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Another good book about “wild women.”


  6. A marvelous piece, and I think that you’re onto something! More of this writing, please!


  7. Barbara Hi
    I too have been writing about wolves in a manner similar (but not the same) as yours based on the true story of OR7. If you are curious or just interested and willing to give me some feedback, for better or for worse, I would be happy to send you the stories to read. I wrote them for the CWC (CA Writer Club) news letter originally and then they took on a life of their own.
    Anyhow ,thanks for your story which my editor forwarded to me. It was great and I enjoyed it immensely.
    Judith Shernock


  8. Love reading your stories, Barbara.


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