Seeing Red in Moscow: Wendy Joseph cries wolf!

Ahhh Literati!

Our contest continues, this time with an entry from Wendy Josephkovitch (or thereabouts) Wendy is one of the rare writers who actually reads her work as well as she writes, and her most recently published novel is sending tremors where none previously existed due to the drama with which she imbues the spoken word. The Witch’s Hand–the thinking person’s sword and sorcery–is available on Amazon books.

The red that I refer to is not a communist plot, but a plot never-the-less. Here is Wendy Joseph’s entry into our contest and attempt to win fame and five hundred bucks.  Remember, each entry must include the phrase “I swear, it’s not too late.”


by Wendy Joseph


From the Email Correspondence Of Illustrator Neurosa Coloritch


May 8, 2001

To Ms. Delay:

Is this to be a book with an illustration on every one of the thirty-two pages? Do you wish my award-winning stone ground color style, or the new one I am experimenting with, a combination of acid water color wash, kerosene, and acrylic, which is then computer enhanced? If so, it will be a world premiere use of it, which my analyst tells me would be just the thing to help pull me out of the depression caused by my recent separation from my lover of three months, whom I took to take me out of the depression caused by my third divorce and the death of my longtime feline companion, Genghis. Also, is this a standard telling of Ms. Hood and the Wolf, or are we going to tell it from the Wolf’s point of view? This is essential for me to know, if I am to do the illustrations properly.

Yours sincerely,


May 14, 2001

Dear Ms. Delay,

When is the deadline for the first sketches for Red Riding Hood? How graphic do you want them re. the wolf eating Granny? I personally do not think children should be sheltered from such things, as I grew up on my grandmother’s tales of fleeing the Cossacks in the snow, with wolves howling in the distance, and am none the worse for it.

But I must know the deadline, as my therapist tells me any kind of uncertainty in these matters puts undue pressure on my creative capacities, and may result in a complete shutdown of my ability to produce anything. Last year this had dire consequences, as while an editor waffled between my most superior drawings and those of an inferior artist, I suffered a complete breakdown and was hospitalized for two weeks.

I cannot tell you how bad the food was, and fear that I may have been a guinea pig in some new drug testing, but my memory of that time is not clear. Thank the Goddess, I survived, but certainly cannot recommend the Tukwila Aromatherapy and Psychiatric Treatment Center for anything other than a nice view (if you like heights, which terrify me) and decent parking.

Do let me know about Little Red. I always thought she should have seen through the wolf’s disguise right away, but maybe she was a little slow. Was she retarded? Or perhaps she had a vision problem. Would you like to have me show her with a white cane? This might explain her problem with recognizing the wolf. I do not think a guide dog would be a good idea, as aside from my fear of dogs due to being severely barked at by one as a child, the dog would most certainly sniff out the wolf as they entered Granny’s house.

I must go now. Mention of dogs has triggered a flashback, and I need to see my therapist.



May 18, 2001

Dear Ms. Delay,

I would like to know if we are using the Grimm’s original Red Riding Hood. If so, I would be delighted, as it is full of violence (the wolf eats both Granny and Red, has them cut out of his stomach while he is still alive but asleep, and dies by having stones put into his stomach as a replacement).

My therapist says illustrating this would be just the thing to act as a cathartic for my latest trauma, a series of truly horrendous nightmares, including getting trapped in a train wreck while racing to get out of China during the Sino-Japanese War, standing on an aircraft carrier flight deck while fire-breathing dragons landed, and drowning in a bowl of Jello.

My therapist (did I tell you he is related to Fellini?) says these were probably set off by my new lover’s rejecting my idea that he pose as Prometheus Bound for my envisioned set of Greek tragic stories, which I plan to show next spring in a one-woman show entitled “Scourgings, Gougings and the Death of Mythological Ideals.” You are all, of course, invited.

I need to know ASAP about the Grimm illustrations, if I am to make my show deadline. I swear it’s not too late; if you can get me word by midnight of the full moon on Tuesday, I will be able to complete both projects on time and with my usual grotesque verve that has often drawn favorable comparisons to Tim Burton’s cinematic visuals.

If not, my therapist tells me it will have dire consequences. I shudder and tremble to think of the personal cost; I am, after all, human, and one can only take so much before deciding between the razor blade, the gun, or lethal injection–or perhaps I shall simply leap in front of a train, a la Anna Karenina.

Yours in angst,



May 22, 2001

To Ms.Delay,

I cannot tell you how delighted I am that we will be using this uncensored version of Red Riding Hood. I so look forward to doing the illustrations. When would you like the 32 thumbnail sketches? I can have them done in two weeks. My therapist says this is just the thing to keep me going during my current condition of agoraphobia, probably brought on by the voices coming from the trees outside.



36 thoughts on “Seeing Red in Moscow: Wendy Joseph cries wolf!

  1. Salvatore Buttaci says:

    A clever story by an excellent author! Mucho bueno, Wendy! (I would’ve said it in Russian but the words for some reason escape me).

      • Salvatore Buttaci says:

        I did! Back in the 1930’s I was a professed first cousin of Josef Stalin, but when he started killing his relatives I chose instead to be a cousin of Abraham Lincoln. A forger my dad knew in 1905 (he was a baker of Russian rye bread) gave me papers to leave Moscow in the middle of the night while my ex-cousin Joe was retiring for the night. Luckily I made it out of there. I did meet a fellow in my escape who flashed a Venezuelan visa, but his photo was that of a Russian grandmother so they shoved the visa down his throat and then shot him. I’ve been a US citizen since 1936 and I love it here.

        • wendyjoseph says:

          Was it 1933, the year the US recognized the USSR? If so, did you happen to run into Harpo Marx, who was the first American artist to tour the Soviet Union after we recognized it? He had a little problem trying to play the harp with frozen fingers, though.

          • Salvatore Buttaci says:

            Speaking of cousins, Wendy, Harpo was a first cousin of Karl Marx; in fact, it was Harpo who proofread Das Kapital for Karl while honking away on his horn. When Karl found typos in his manuscript that went undetected by Harpo he fired him and hired a second cousin, his second cousin Feodor who had a hard time pronouncing TH. He too got fired and immigrated to the US where they both joined a traveling Russian circus called Barnum, Stalin, Lenin, and Trotsky. Harpo and Feodor were in charge of cleaning the elephant stalls, but when their work started piling up on them, they quit and became movie ushers.

          • Salvatore Buttaci says:

            Of course the Harpo Saga is true! Didn’t we all read it in Pravda? What we don’t read about are the countless other Moscovites who bit the dust during Stalin’s Purge. For example, the color-blind Georg Kornondakov who was arrested for marching with the White Army instead of the Red One. He once confided in Harpo that he’d wish someone would come up with a Gray Army so he’d know where to march. Harpo told him gray had been taken already back in the 1860s America and they lost to the Blue Army. “Enough already!” said Kornondakov. “You’re making me color-crazy!”

          • wendyjoseph says:

            I have a first edition of Harpo’s autobiography, Harpo Speaks, and inside were two things. One was a genuine four leaf clover, and the other was a clipping of the eulogy Hedda Hopper wrote when Harpo died in 1964. It ended, “Whoever holds first chair in the harp section Up There will have to move over.”

          • Salvatore Buttaci says:

            I hate to harp on this, but Marx, whose original surname was Markolinski, was way a Hedda Hopper when it came to yule agies, having once written a pamphlet briefly circulated called “Das Kapitain” about Harpo’s years in the Russian navy. Trotsky had a copy clutched in his hand when the red squad came to Mexico and assassinated him in 1940.

  2. Michael Stang says:

    I for one cannot yet believe that this site is up and running again, like the train pulling into the station, filling up with passengers, and leaving when moments ago the place was bombed. Old faces, old voices as if they never skipped a beat. Amazing!
    One of the delights I missed the most was the writing. Oh how I remember Wendy’s. I would shake in my boots to read her stuff. Now, i’m doing it again. This skipper of a story had me going as if I was reading a script by Woody Allen. I call the beats laughing struts. The rhythm is perfect.
    Good show.

  3. Kristy Webster says:

    Oh my god, this is brilliant! So clever, so darkly and bitingly hilarious. I especially love this passage: “Do let me know about Little Red. I always thought she should have seen
    through the wolf’s disguise right away, but maybe she was a little slow.
    Was she retarded? Or perhaps she had a vision problem.” Hahahahaha! SO damn good!

      • Michael Stang says:

        Gonna have to think this over. I, for one, always went with the fairytale. Sweetness and light always shocked by evil at first, but then along comes sweetness and light, and the story is cool. Could it be sexy Red needs to steal the glasses off my man Wolf’s eyes? Say it ain’t so, Joe.

  4. Tiffany Monique says:

    I love the fact that this is so in keeping with the creepy crawling gore of the Harvest and October season. Still there is a coolness to the story that makes me 1. truly like and appreciate the nature of (maybe even love) Neurosa, 2. feel sorry for Neurosa and 3.want to see the paintings she has been commissioned to create, barring any major mental meltdowns on her creative 405. I am going to dress like Little Red Riding Hood, with this flavor, for the costume party I am going to at the end of the month… Thank you for the inspiration. I would so like to hear this read aloud.

    • wendyjoseph says:

      Tiffany, you gotta be kidding! I inspired your Halloween costume? Relieved you chose Red instead of Prometheus Bound.

      • Tiffany Monique says:

        Wanted to go on the record… I couldn’t get the fabric for a cool hood, so I went as the Mad Hatter for Halloween, but you must know I still have to laugh when I read this, and then I laugh (yes, again) at the uber-dark-mental-gallows humor… Some would call it emo, but I would call it melodramatically hilarious!

  5. Diane Cresswell says:

    Wow Wendy this one really takes you in and I love it!!! The one-sided letters are a work of art. Imaginative, revealing, entertaining, and enjoyable. Perfect.

  6. Sheri Strobaugh says:

    Wendy, this was so dark and clever. I was so anxious to read more! Excellent writing! This is the first story I have read for this contest…and am excited to read more. Hoping to enter also but still have a cast on for another week or so. Thanks again for inspiring me…

  7. Chuck Chuckerson says:

    razor blade, the gun, or lethal injection–or perhaps I shall simply leap in front of a train

    Not options I myself have considered, but I am glad Neurosa is continuing to produce art during her ongoing psychological turmoil. All the best artists suffer. Not that I’d ever want to work with her, though! Quiet a character.

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