Pigli’s mouth was dry from all the talking so for the rest of the day he limited himself to thinking silently. Idiot. I bet she got 5 meals a day from her shepherd.
But to his exasperation, the silence was constantly interrupted by Cleo’s endless nagging and badgering and uselessly trying her teeth at his collarbone – at which point he would snap, and she would bounce off him weeping and moaning and just feeling ashamed and terribly sorry for herself. She wouldn’t leave his side and it was sundown already. So Pigli decided it was time to show who’s boss. He laid himself on his bed of leaves, sat up on his elbow, and asked:
‘Look…. Ah… What’s your name, anyway?’
‘It’s Cleo’, she said, defeated and horribly disappointed in herself. I can’t even get a wolf to take me seriously. I’m not even a decent meal. I must be cursed. Nothing I ever tried worked.
Pigli thought this name was even dumber than his own and rejoiced.
‘What’s this’, he insisted, ‘your mother’s worst revenge? Were you an unwanted child? I bet your childhood traumas are to be blamed for you behavior.’
‘If you must know’, and here Cleo drew her nose, ‘I come from a noble family, and my momma loved me very much. She had dreams of greatness for me. The name comes from Cleopatra. She was a powerful queen, you know.’
‘Yeah, yeah. She’s all over Discovery Channel. Good thing you don’t have her nose, too. That’d be the cherry on the cake.’
Whoops. Pigli had miscalculated a bit. His plan was backfiring.
‘None of your business. Just call me Boss. Because that’s what I am here in the woods. Even humans respect me.’
‘Is it adventurous up here, Boss? Are humans as afraid of you as sheep are?
‘Pha! Are they afraid of me? You bet they are! You should see it. I only need to howl and they all scram. It’s pathetic actually…’, Pigli said condescendingly, and blew a lock of hair out of his right eye.
‘Wow. I once wanted to be a wolf, you know…’
‘Are you going to cry again? Because if you are, I’m out of here. And I’m out of Kleenex, too. I stuffed it all in rabbit holes. But somehow they still managed to get out. Duplicated. I swear, I don’t get those creatures.’
‘Do you have brothers or sisters, Boss?’
This conversation was getting a bit too much on the soft side. So Pigli barked:
‘Enough confessions! Watch your tongue. I might still get hungry, you know. Go to sleep!’ he ordered. ‘I’m bored, it’s late, and I need my privacy. As soon as it’s dawn, scram. Don’t wake me!’
Cleo shrunk to a small ball of wool, coiled up, let out a long sigh and whispered:
During the night, a vicious thought had begun to form in Pigli’s twisted brain. He kept thinking that there must be a way he could turn this misfortune to his advantage, if he was smart enough. Yes, this might actually work! He awoke so happy that he was actually up before sunrise and feeling fresh and ready for the first day of the rest of his life.
‘Hey, Cleo, hey, wake up! Get up!’, Pigli said and began to shake Cleo vigorously.
‘Oh, mom, just five more minutes, mom, no, I don’t want to curl my hair this morning…!’, Cleo mumbled in her sleep.
‘Open your eyes, you fool, it’s me, the Boss. I call the shots here, remember?’
‘What is it?’, she jumped to her feet, terrified. ‘A bear?’
‘No bears around here. (Bears! He could almost laugh. Long extinct, honey.) Listen. What do you want most in life?’
‘Wake up I said!’, Pigli rolled his eyes and threw his head backwards in disapproval. ‘Listen to me. I have an idea. What is it you want most in life?’
‘Well, I don’t know anymore… I guess I always wanted recognition… but that’s all gone now, and honestly, I’m kind of tired, this whole emotional turmoil has taken its toll…’
‘Oh, shut up with that emotional crap. You wanted to hunt a wolf to be famous, right?’
‘What if I help you get that?’
‘Oh…, oh Boss, you would? You would? Oh, I knew wolves were a noble species.’
‘Yeah, yeah, yeah. Cut it out. Listen. I can help you but only if you help me, too.’
‘Sure, anything, Boss. Just name it. Sure. Wow, you would actually do that?’ And Cleo’s eyes were dampening with tears of gratitude.
‘Well, not if you cry. That just disgusts me. Get a grip, will you?’
‘Right. Right, Boss. Now, pray, do tell.’
(Cleo, the Shakespearean heroine…)
‘You are such a fake, you know that?!’, Pigli said shaking his head, and sighed in disbelief. ‘Anyway. Here’s the deal. You want to be famous. To return among your own kind and be a star. Well, I want to be among my own kind too. And seeing as the woods are empty, and I’m totally alone, going crazy out of my brain, and no decent food anywhere, I mean, I’m a vegetarian here. And not by choice, if you know what I mean…’
‘Wow, that’s bad.’
‘I know. So, what I want is to go where everybody else is, in a Zoo.’
‘In a Zoo???’, Cleo said with bulging eyes. ‘You would give up your freedom? Your pride?’
‘Who cares about that?’
‘Well, I do.’
‘Look, do you want to be famous or what? Must I remind you that you depend on my plan?’
‘Fine. But I must say I’m a little disappointed.’
‘That makes two of us. Gee! You think I’m excited about you?’
‘So what do I have to do?’
‘All you have to do is a little role-playing, you know, be a little theatrical, nothing out of your league. We’ll both go down to the flock, and, at the time of your choice, I will deliberately place my throat in your mouth. The press will come, there’s going to be interviews for you galore, you can give them your story, the works, I don’t care. As for me, I’m going to be so “badly hurt” that they’re going to have to check me into a Zoo, right? The way I see it, it’s your typical win-win situation. What do you say?’
Cleo’s eyes were glistening. She put her right hoof to her chest and said in tears:
‘I love you, Boss. You are a genius.’
(to be continued)