Catcher in the Riding Hood

If you really want to hear the whole goddamn story, I guess the first thing I should tell you is that my name is Little Red Riding Hood. That’s not my real name, but that’s what everybody calls me on account of I’m kinda little, and I often tend to wear a riding hood, which is red. It’s not the greatest nickname, I’ll admit, but you never get to pick out your own nickname. If I could’ve, I’d’ve picked something tougher, like “Ace” or “Spike” or something, but instead everyone calls me Little Red Riding Hood, like it’s just the cleverest goddamn nickname you ever heard. People in general aren’t too imaginative, I’ve found. My brother D.B. was pretty imaginative before he went to Hollywood to become a prostitute. He writes for the movies. I hate the goddamn movies. But I’m getting off the subject.

So one day my mom sent me skipping off to my grandma’s house with this basket of goodies. Old Grandma was feeling a little bit under the weather. She’s usually quite healthy for an old lady, but she was feeling a bit under the weather, so I was supposed to skip on over there with a basket of goodies, you know, to cheer her up. My mom is a pretty decent cook, especially with goodies, and I hadn’t seen old Grandma in a while so I didn’t mind going. But the thing is, old Grandma lives way the hell over on the other side of the goddamn forest, and old Mom & Dad don’t like me going through the forest by myself on account of I’m just a kid and all. So whenever I go to Grandma’s I have to skip all the way around the entire goddamn forest. To be honest, I’m not all that keen on skipping in the first place. I mean, I’ve got nothing against it, but I’m not all that fond of it either. So what I decided was, I’d just take a shortcut through the forest, and cut out the skipping crap altogether. Also, a lot of the creeps who live in our village get a real kick out of seeing me skip along in my red riding hood, and if you want to know the truth, I just wasn’t in the mood for it.

So I was strolling through the forest with my basket when I hear this voice say, “Hey, you! You, in the red riding hood!”

“Me?” I asked, like I expected there to be dozens of people in red riding hoods standing around in the forest. Sometimes I say the stupidest things. I mean, not all the time, but sometimes I really come out with a dumb sentence.

“Yeah, you.” says the voice, and then out of the foliage steps this wolf. Now to be honest, I’m not that crazy about wolves. I don’t hate them or anything, but at the same time, I’m not too crazy about them, if you know what I mean. “What’s your name, kid?” the wolf asked me.

“Goldilocks,” I said. I have this tendency to lie sometimes. I mean, I’m not pathological or anything, but sometimes I’ll start lying just for the hell of it. I was feeling uncomfortable as hell, but I tried not to let it show. Me and the wolf just shot the crap for awhile, then I said I had to get going off to Grandma’s. That basket was getting pretty heavy. I thought my goddamn arm was going to fall off. One thing about my mom’s goodies– they’re not exactly light. I mean, they taste good and all, but they can get a little heavy when you’re carrying a whole basket full and you get stuck shooting the crap with a wolf for half an hour. Maybe it wasn’t a half hour, but it seemed like a long time to stand around the forest talking to some wolf I never even met before, for Christ’s sake.

When I got to Grandma’s, I could tell right away something was wrong. For one thing, the door was unlocked and old Grandma tends to be real uptight about that sort of thing. I mean, she’s a sweet person, but she can be a real stickler about home security. You can’t blame her though, living by herself and all. Another thing I noticed was that the place was a little untidy. There were magazines on the floor. That may not sound like much of a mess, but if you knew my grandma… A few magazines on the floor at her house is like a huge pile of rotting fish carcasses at somebody else’s house. She’s quite a tidy person. I mean, whenever you come in, you have to wipe your feet, even if you just went out for a second to get her goddamn mail. I don’t mean to make her sound like a maniac or anything, but she can be quite set in her ways.

I started to get this creepy feeling like maybe she’d had a heart attack and I’d be the one to find the body. I didn’t know what the hell I’d do. Cover her up with a sheet, I guess. “Hey, grandma, it’s me,” I called out. Boy, I hoped she wasn’t dead. “I brought you a basket of goodies.”

“I’m in here, dear,” she called from the bedroom. That was a relief. She sounded hoarse as hell, though. Not like her normal self at all. I went on in, and boy did she look like crap. People don’t generally look all that great when they’re sick anyhow, and old people look even worse, but old Grandma looked like something the cat threw up. It was very off-putting. Usually whenever I’d visit Grandma, the first thing I’d do is give her a hug and a peck on the cheek, because older people seem to like getting hugs and pecks on the cheek. But that day I just wasn’t in the mood. She looked that crappy.

“Come closer, dear, so I can see you better,” she said in her terrible, scratchy voice.

“Uh, well, I ought to put these goodies away…”

“Oh, just toss those anywhere, and come give your grandmother a hug.” You remember how I mentioned grandma is uptight about certain things? Well, one of those is leaving food laying around. She was quite pathological about not leaving food out. I guess I hesitated, because she got a little impatient. “Come on over here, Goldilocks,” she said.

Goldilocks? I was just starting to put two and two together when I heard this Grandma-sounding voice from the closet, yelling “Run, Red Riding Hood, run for your life! It’s a wolf!”

Next thing I know there’s sheets and blankets flying through the air, I’m knocked down, and there’s that goddamn wolf right on top of me, breathing his stinking wolf breath in my face. “Hey, get off me, ya dumb boron!” I screamed. Yeah, I called him “a boron.” I was gonna say “dumb bastard” but then I remembered Grandma in the closet, and I didn’t want to curse in front of her, so I tried to change it to “moron” at the last second, but I didn’t quite make it.

Not that it was gonna make any difference, because that wolf wasn’t planning to get off me whether I cursed or not. What he was planning to do was chew my goddamn face off. I started screaming like a baby. I’m not proud of it, but that’s what I did. I often wish I were braver, but when it comes to actual physical confrontation, I’m actually quite yellow. I don’t know which was worse: screaming like a baby because my face was about to be chewed off, or having to smell that wolf’s breath. He had terminal halitosis. I’m not kidding.

Then suddenly, the wolf lets out a big yelp and takes off like his goddamn tail’s on fire. Turns out, this passing woodsman heard me crying like a goddamn two year old, ran over, and whacked the wolf a good one with his axe. Boy, did that wolf get out in a hurry. Nothing like getting chopped with an axe to send a wolf on his way. So Grandma was okay, I was pretty much okay, everything was fine except for my red riding hood which got ripped to pieces. I was out-growing it anyway, but still I would have liked to keep it. I can be quite sentimental sometimes.

Me and Grandma sat down with the woodsman, munched a goody or two, then he had to go chop down a tree or something so he left. As he was going, we shook hands, and I said I was glad to meet him, and for once in my goddamn life I actually meant it. People are always saying phony stuff like “Nice to meet you” when really they don’t give a damn if they ever see you again, and they wouldn’t remember you if they did. Or else, they only remember you because you always wear a red riding hood or something.

Of course, without my red riding hood, I’ll need a new nickname. I hope I can get people to call me “Ace” now, but probably they’ll just call me some stupid name, like “Skippy.” People are such borons.