Authors: Jason Starr
“Okay, so someday he’ll have Jonas,” Simon said. “He’ll have another werewolf to feel a bond with. What does he need us for?”
“For Michael, having Jonas wasn’t enough,” Volker said. “He wanted a pack of men to share the bond of the wolf with, and he wanted Jonas to have a pack someday as well, so Jonas wouldn’t have to live his life in fear of loneliness. I understood this desire, as it is the nature of the wolf to want a pack, but for most of my life I thought it was impossible, as I knew it was impossible for the blood of the wolf to be passed along outside our family to a group of strange men.
“Then, just several years ago, after we closed the brewery for good, Michael went to Canada and spent a winter with a pack of wild wolves in a forest in Saskatchewan. When he returned I knew something had changed. He had a look in his eyes, a new darkness I had never seen before. He spent hours at the brewery in Brooklyn. I knew something was happening there, but I had no idea what. Then one day he announced he had created a beer that could turn men into wolves. I didn’t believe him at first. I thought he had gone mad in Canada and was inventing stories. Then he had a few men drink the beer, but it didn’t work—when Michael bit them, they died. But then he perfected the formula and had you and the others drink it.”
Simon was shaking his head. “Okay, okay, look,” he said. “I’ve been going along with you on this, I mean I’ve been listening to what you have to say. I’m willing to believe you’re a hundred forty-one years old and a wolf bit your father, and I’m even willing to believe that Michael is a Nazi werewolf serial killer. But now you’re saying
that a pack of wolves in Saskatchewan told Michael how to make the beer that he gave to all of us, that turned us into werewolves?”
“You’d be surprised what secrets you can learn from wolves.” Volker held Simon’s gaze for a few moments, and then suddenly he was looking around anxiously. “We must go now. There’re people everywhere now.”
When Simon sniffed he couldn’t detect any human scents, but he was willing to take Volker’s word for it.
“Wait, I need to know more,” Simon said. “Why us? I mean of all the guys in Manhattan he could have had in his pack, why me, Charlie, and Ramon? Why were we chosen?”
“I don’t have that answer; only Michael does,” Volker said. “But he must’ve seen something in each of you, perhaps a weakness he could exploit and use for his own gain. Michael does nothing that is not for his own gain.” Volker looked behind him—Simon still couldn’t detect any scents—then said, “I told you all of this so you would understand properly what is at stake. The others were bitten directly, so he’ll have a great influence on them; he’ll teach them to enjoy the craving as much as he does. Before long, there will be mayhem, and many innocent people will die, unless Michael dies first.”
“I knew this was what you wanted, and the answer’s no,” Simon said. “I’m not a killer.”
“You’ve killed already,” Volker said. “You have the craving.”
“That was different. That was self-defense.”
“If you kill Michael you’ll be defending many, many lives. I don’t have the strength or I would kill him myself. Despite our bond, I know it’s time for my son to die.”
“Look, the answer’s no, okay?” Simon said. “I was already a suspect in three murders thanks to Michael, and now I’m trying to get my life back together, not get in any deeper than I already am. I
appreciate you taking the time to talk to me and help me, but I’ll figure this out on my own.”
“You won’t survive on your own,” Volker said. “It’s impossible. Either Michael will kill you or you’ll kill someone you love. You don’t know how to control the craving yet.”
“Look,” Simon said. “I’m all for you teaching me how to control the craving or whatever you want to call it. We can meet up here at a regular time and you can give me lessons or training, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to go kill somebody.”
“Do you want a chance to be human again?”
Now Simon could smell a human—the park worker who’d come by before. The scent was faint, but getting stronger. Simon said, “What’re you talking about?”
“When the beer didn’t work correctly the first few times, Michael created another beer, a remedy beer that he said could correct the effect of the other beer.”
“I thought you said there’s no cure for this,” Simon said.
“Not a cure, a remedy,” Volker said. “Michael told me he experimented with it once and it worked—it reversed the symptoms of the
and effectively removed the
serum from the subject’s blood. I suspect he also adds new ingredients, perhaps an exotic grain, during the steeping process. You see, when it comes to beer making, Michael is a genius. Now I’m not certain the remedy would work on you, since you have already been bitten and are a full
now, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t. Perhaps you would need to take it in a larger quantity.”
Simon still had a lot of questions, but the park worker’s scent was getting stronger, so he asked the most important one: “Okay, so how do I get this remedy?”
“It’s at the brewery, I’m sure,” Volker said. “I’m sure he has a
quantity of the beer itself, but he should at least have the recipe. I think you would learn to enjoy your life as
; it is so much more satisfying than a life as human, and you won’t want to abandon it. But if you want to be human again, I believe you can.”
“So you’re saying I can go to the brewery, take this remedy, and that’s it, my problems will be solved.”
“No,” Volker said. “Michael would certainly kill you if you took the remedy, and as a human you would be defenseless. Michael won’t let you live with his secrets and risk revealing his pack, and you’ll be unable to hide from him. You saw how easily I tracked you. Well, Michael is even better at it than I am. And he won’t just kill you—he’ll kill your entire family just for his pleasure.”
“Okay, I get it, I get it,” Simon said. “So what use is a remedy if I can’t take it?”
“You can take it
you kill Michael,” Volker said. “Return to him, tell him you are ready to join his pack. Tell him you made a mistake and you want him to teach you the way of the wolf. You must be convincing. When he trusts you, you can find an opportunity to get the remedy.”
“So basically you’re telling me I have to get the Wicked Witch’s broomstick,” Simon said.
Volker didn’t seem to understand.
“Whatever,” Simon said. “So how’m I supposed to convince Michael I’m on his side? The last time I saw him we were trying to rip each other’s heads apart.”
“It won’t be easy,” Volker said. “He will be suspicious, but you can do it, and then you will have access to the remedy.”
“And what about Charlie and Ramon?” Simon said. “What do you expect me to do, kill them too?”
Volker considered this, then said, “Perhaps you can persuade
them to take the remedy as well. It will be difficult because they were bitten directly by Michael and they both seem to be enjoying the life of the wolf very much. They may resist, but it is important to remember that when Michael is dead you will be their leader. You will have the power over them; you will be in control.”
Volker was walking away through the woods.
“Wait, how can I find you again?” Simon asked.
“I can find you,” Volker said, “that’s more important.”
“Wait a second!”
But Volker had already zipped away through the trees and was gone.
Simon turned and saw the park worker facing him, hands on his hips.
“Who’re you talking to?” the guy asked.
“Sorry, sorry,” Simon said as he hurried away.
tephen Tyler looked nothing like Steven Tyler. Not that Alison really expected that a PI would look like a rock star, but that was the image she’d had in her head. But this Stephen Tyler was Vijay’s age, fortyish, and preppy-looking with wavy blond hair and a very tan face. He was in a red pinstriped shirt tucked into beige slacks. The office was another surprise. It was a normal office building, but the office itself was a big space, divided into cubicles, and his “office” was one of the cubicles. Vijay had said Tyler owned “a big detective agency,” hadn’t he?
Tyler invited Alison into the cramped space that had barely enough room for a small desk, then told her to wait a second and returned with a chair for her to sit in that he’d borrowed from another office.
“Sorry it’s a little messy,” he said, pushing a few boxes out of the way with his foot so there was room for the chair. “Actually I just moved here.”
“Really?” Alison said. “Where did you move from?”
“Oh, just the other side of this office,” Tyler said, smiling. “Yeah, it was a little tight over there, so it’s great to be able to spread out a little.”
Alison looked around at the space, which was probably about ten square feet. Meanwhile, Tyler sat at his desk, moving some more boxes off the desk onto the floor.
“I’m just a little surprised,” Alison said. “Vijay said you owned a large agency.”
pretty large,” he said. “I have twelve people working for me, and I’m looking to hire a couple more. Most detective work is done from home nowadays. It’s not Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe running around in fedoras anymore, it’s a bunch of geeks in their underwear on their Macs. So you said on the phone you work with Vijay?”
Alison fought off an image of Vijay kissing her, their hands in each other’s hair, and said, “Yes, we’re, um, colleagues.”
“Are you a doctor too?”
They hadn’t discussed her profession when they spoke on the phone, and now Tyler seemed intrigued, maybe because he thought he could get away with charging a wealthy doctor more?
“No, I work in pharmaceutical sales,” Alison said. “Vijay is one of my clients.”
“Oh, okay, I get it,” Tyler said. “Like Grace.”
“Grace?” Alison was confused.
“Vijay’s ex,” Tyler said.
Alison didn’t know why she’d blocked this out. She knew Grace
was Vijay’s ex-wife. She just didn’t know she had also worked in pharmaceutical sales. Why hadn’t Vijay ever mentioned that?
“That’s right, Grace, of course,” she said.
“Well, I don’t know what Vijay told you about me,” Tyler said, “but I’m not your ordinary PI. I took a sort of unorthodox route to detective work. I have a master’s in psychology from the New School. I worked in forensic psychology for a few years, then got into the investigation biz. So what I’m saying is I have a unique understanding into the psyche of my clients. In other words, I’m sympathetic to what you’re going through. I get it.”
Alison already had her own therapist and a marriage counselor. The last thing she needed was more therapy.
“Thank you,” she said. “I appreciate this, but I really don’t need any emotional support. I just want to find out if my husband’s cheating on me.”
“You don’t mean
,” Tyler said.
“Honesty is the most important thing in a detective-client relationship,” he said. “Eighty percent of women who come in here who suspect their husbands are cheating turn out to be right. Unfortunately that’s just the way it is, and in my experience it’s best to be up front and honest about that reality. I know how difficult divorce can be, coming to terms that your marriage is over.”
So much for not having another therapist.
“Well, I think the jury is still out on this case,” Alison said. “My husband’s behavior has been pretty, well, unusual, but I don’t know for sure he’s cheating.”
“Unusual how?” Tyler asked.
After taking a full breath for energy, Alison explained how Simon
had lost his job and then started acting strange until he finally claimed he’d become a werewolf. Tyler absorbed it all, until she mentioned the word
, and then he started laughing.
“Sorry, I shouldn’t laugh,” he said, “it’s wrong. I mean, I know this is a traumatic situation for you.” Tyler tried to maintain a serious expression, and then laughter burst out again. “Sorry, I’m really sorry. I mean, it’s just you think you’ve heard everything and then…” He laughed again. “I’m really truly sorry.”
“No, go ahead and laugh,” Alison said. “I know how funny it could seem if it’s happening to someone else. If I were you I’d probably be laughing too. Everyone thinks it’s funny, even the police.”
“Police?” Tyler wasn’t laughing now.
“Simon had an incident yesterday morning,” Alison said. “I guess you could call it a breakdown. Anyway, we had a fight afterward and he left the apartment and I haven’t seen him since.”
She left out the part about how she’d threatened him with a large knife, figuring this was a detail that didn’t really matter.
“You have any idea where he went?” Tyler asked.
Alison shook her head. “He texted me yesterday, but I didn’t respond. I guess he’s in the city somewhere. I mean, he had to sleep somewhere, so it’s either a hotel or at someone’s apartment.”
was purposely full of accusation and bitterness.