Coyote Grins - Donald Powell

Coyote is stirred from sleep by the rust colored Chevy truck gunning to life. He pulls himself reluctantly awake from a sweet dream of manzanita scent, shade, and clear water. He has been waiting for that truck to leave for a goddamned hour.

He waits for his frayed ears to message him the fact that the truck is well and truly gone then he ambles down from the tree covered hill to the chain link fence that skirts the householders' property. Coyote eyes the gate and grins, as much his shrunken, pissed off belly will let him. The fat old human loves his liquor more than his land and the place is turning to shit. The gate has two latches, the upper latch now hangs loose and useless. Coyote nuzzles the lower latch with his graying snout and pushes the gate open with one of his paws.

Coyote lopes through the gate, prancing like a show pony at his cleverness. He makes his way towards the old dung-colored bloodhound lying miserable in the shade of the fat man's building. Coyote tosses the old dog a glance, a nod of the head in acknowledgement. Coyote knows that if the old bloodhound was even half of what he normally was he wouldn't be lying there in the red dirt and shade but would beyond doubt be attempting to rip Coyote's throat out or break his spine with his large jaws. Coyote is a world class gloater, but he feels nothing for the old, sick dog but pity.

Coyote stops before the two matching metal bowls. He attacks the water first; he's thirsty as hell. He laps at the water with his spotted tongue, splashes it over his snout and front paws. Coyote reflects on how humans stupidly complicate life when it's really pretty simple. Water when you're thirsty, food when you are hungry, sex when you're horny, and a safe, warm place to sleep at night. He sniffs the processed food with annoyance; there is not even the hint of real meat or a raw egg to grant the stuff the patina of edibility. But Coyote is hungry, so he sets to the task, eating quickly, remembering back to better meals, with real meat and real bone.

After Coyote finishes he lets out a belch and pads over to the bloodhound. No wonder you're sick old man, eating crap like that everyday. The bloodhound stinks of impending death, his bloodshot eyes speak of the suffering he's been tasked with. Coyote leans in close to him, don't worry old man, it's a journey we all make. Coyote chants a few words over the bloodhound, reminds him that death is just the beginning and that soon he will be young and strong and able to kill Coyotes again. Once Coyote knew Magicks that would have sucked the cancer out of the dog, and send it out dissipated and powerless to the four winds. But such powers have left Coyote; he unremembered them long ago.

Coyote jogs over to the humans' back porch. One last task and the most important of all. Coyote lifts his leg and sends a jet of piss down unto the porch, then haunches down and produces a steaming pile of scat. Quite inspired, he thinks. That's when he hears the shotgun being pumped for action.

The fat old man's mate stands a few feet away from the bloodhound, shakily holding a shotgun. Coyote grins. I'm about twelve kinds of dead. As if answering Coyote's thoughts, the old woman levels the gun at him. The bloodhound chooses that moment to lunge up at her, barking and baring his teeth. Coyote springs into motion and darts towards the gate. From the corner of his eye he sees the old woman shunt the sick dog aside. Coyote runs faster. He feels his heart may burst. He feels his legs alone are spinning the earth. He is through the gate and half way up the hill when he hears the shotgun blast. He swerves. Buckshot tears into his haunch, and sends bark exploding from a pine tree next to him. But he keeps running. Flesh wound only, thanks old dog.

Later that night, Coyote finds a leaf-strewn place to rest beneath an uprooted tree. Before sleep he spends an hour pulling buckshot from his upper leg. Stupid, arrogant buffoon. You shouldn't have left that gift. But if he didn't do things like that he wouldn't be Coyote. Coyote settles into sleep, warm, full-bellied and only slightly wounded. He grins. Today was a good day.

- END -

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