Words by Christopher Rife
Illustration by Ann-Marie Preiner
In the communal bathroom
on the fourth floor you can sometimes
hear Werewolf Joe whistling off-key
melodies by Warren Zevon
while he shaves. Wiping steam
from the mirror, he hopes no one
comes in. He goes through the emotions
he knows. Scowling is a crowd favorite.
What kind of phobia are you having
today, Joe? He is powerfully
careful not to touch the hand rails
or other passengers. He tells people
he is going to the East Side of Chicago
to see if he can stop himself from drowning.
But what could be bought or sold
for a chance to behave such an ugliness?
Werewolf Joe considers his cage
while reheating leftover pasta.
He dreams of being an astronaut,
leaving paw prints on the moon.
But small spaces make him nervous
and he was never good at math.
Joe chews slowly, trying not
to bite through his cheek. ◥