"What do you mean, 'Three more dead'?"
Simon Chase smacked the trembling man
With the back of his hand.
"That's nine men in just one week
And thirteen overall!
What caused the death of these men?"
The blow had knocked the stunned man
Into a stack of barrels.
With one hand he rubbed his jaw;
With the other he pushed himself
To a sitting position.
"The same thing as the others,"
He mumbled. "Mangled by a wolf."
"PREPOSTEROUS!" Chase exclaimed.
"A dozen people would have seen a wolf that size
And hunted it down by now!
There has to be another explanation!"
"I wish the news were better, Mr. Chase,
But the wounds were unmistakable.
Constable Garrett found the bodies
And Dr. Fenn confirmed it.
I spied on their investigation;
They're both confused,
But have no other explanation.
No animal can tear a man's neck
Quite the way a wolf can."
"It makes no sense!" Chase raged.
He stomped around the storage room
Behind the tobacconist shop
That served as his hideout.
He rounded on his informant:
"So, what do they intend?"
The man spoke slowly, cautiously:
"Garrett says that men are searching,
Have been searching, several days.
They find no sign that wolves are hunting
Here; and as you say, a wolf that large
Would surely have been seen…
Yet it has not.
The search continues."
Chase glared with slitted eyes
At something only he could see
While stroking his goatee –
A thoughtful pose more suited to
A satyr than a man.
"I want it found," he said at last.
"I want it killed. Tell the men
To bring the carcass here.
I want to burn it with my own hands."
The trembling man's eyes
Grew wide with terror. "Br-bring it here?
Are you sure, Mr. Chase? Even dead…"
Again the back of Chase's hand
Found the man's jaw. "Do I stutter?
This beast has cost me many men,
Strong men whose skills are not
So easily replaced. Perhaps I sound
The superstitious peasant, but –
If I were such – I could believe
This 'wolf' has chosen me specifically as prey.
I'll suffer no one, man or beast,
To ruin all my plans. I want it DEAD!"
"Yes, sir!" the bandit stammered.
And after peeking through the back door,
Making sure the way was clear,
He went in search of Chase's other men –
The killers yet to meet this hungry beast –
And organize a hunt.