It was an unusually hard winter, where even the bears were reduced to eating porridge, so when I spotted Little Red Riding Hood strolling through the forest, basket in hand, I accosted her at once.
"Stand and deliver," I growled. I am, alas, addicted to late night movies.
"What do you mean?" Red smiled sweetly and batted her eyelashes.
"Give me the basket, or I'll eat you," I barked.
"Oh, no you won't." Red turned and sprinted down the path to Grandmother's house. That girl could run.
I turned tail and loped after her, but she slipped through Grandmother's front door ahead of me. I had my paw on the knob when the Hunter tapped me on the shoulder.
"What's going on here?" Hunter heaved his ax and swung, lodging it firmly in the front door of the house and narrowly missing my tail.
"I was simply enjoying a jog on a beautiful morning." But my attempt at a nonchalant attitude was spoiled by my need to open my mouth, stick out my tongue, and pant.
"He's lying." Red cracked the front door. "He tried to steal my pie."
I took the opportunity to body-slam the door. I tumbled in, followed by Hunter.
"Hey, Wolf, come on outside." Hunter grabbed me by the ruff. "No stealing Red's goodies."
"I'm hungry," I whined. "Even wolves have to eat." I rolled on my back and waved my paws in the air. Red would have scratched my belly, but Hunter held her back.
"I've got rats in the cellar," Grandmother offered as she stumped down the hall to join us. "They're all yours if you want them."
"I still think I should kill him," Hunter said.
"Nothing doing. I'm too damn old to catch my own rats." Grandmother shooed Hunter and Red out the door, then stumped down the hall to a small room with two chairs, a table, and an open fireplace. A large kettle hung from an iron rod over the fire. Flames licked the bottom of the pot. Grandmother grabbed a long wooden spoon and began to stir the contents.
"Uh, I could use a little pick-me-up. Otherwise I might pass out trying to catch rats."
"Nothing doing. Rats first, stew later."
So I ambled down to the basement to catch rats. After gorging myself on several of the largest, I returned upstairs to discover Grandmother asleep in a chair by the fire. I didn't want to wake her up, so I curled up on the hearth and fell asleep. I didn't even sample the stew.
That set the pattern of our days. Things were good. I ate rats and played whist or poker with Grandmother. At night, I'd sleep beside the fire or at the foot of Grandmother's bed. At the beginning of April, I ate her and ran off, but she was dead before I swallowed her, I swear it.