Urban Coyote, Part 2
A howl pierced the dark night that encompassed the small building with bars on the windows. Dust blew in swirls here and there around the police cruiser and the weather-beaten pick-up truck parked in front of the building. Between the two vehicles, a lone coyote raced back and forth, every now and again howling up into the dark.
“G’damn coyotes.” Sheriff Winston said, staring out of the front window.
The sheriff was a large man, over six feet and top-heavy. It was clear he left most of the real work to his underlings. His button up shirt was a bit to tight in the waist, but no one dared a mocking word. They knew his reputation.
“Anyway.” The sheriff continued. “So, I searched their car and found about half an ounce of grass. And there you have it. Now they’re in the holding cell and we’re as high as the full moon out there!”
The sheriff ended his anecdote with a deep, booming laugh, and the nervous laugh of his younger deputy joined the chorus. The deputy was nearly a perfect opposite of the sheriff, he was nearly as tall, but he was thin and lithe, and was obviously accustomed to working hard. The sheriff stamped what was left of what they were smoking and exhaled thick fumes.
“Who else we got back there?” the deputy asked, knowing it would soon be time for the sheriff to leave.
“Some injun feller. And an odd one he is. I found him asleep in the desert, covered in blood. Says his name is Skel Not a lick of ID or nothin’. He had that pipe, tomahawk, and guitar over there. I’ll probably be transferrin’ him to county tomorrow. G’night, Wallace. And stay out of that pot!”
The sheriff laughed as he opened the door and stepped outside. Deputy Wallace smiled until the door was closed, and then narrowed his eyes in contempt before pulling more marijuana from the bag in the desk drawer.
Moonlight shone through barred windows, creating a grate-like shadow on the floor. Right in the center of the marred circle of moonlight, sat Skel. He was clad in loose leather pants and a vest that seemed to match, both a dull gray. His hair was black, long, and unrestrained. His eyes opened slowly to reveal yellow irises, and he watched a shadow move upon the floor close to the edge of his cell.
“What’d they get you for?” came a voice from the cell next to his.
“Taking what is mine.” Answered Skel, his eyes still following the shape on the floor.
“Did he steal from you, too? The sheriff here stole our weed and locked us up. He was back here taunting us with a joint earlier. Before they brought you in.”
“Your people will never understand the way of silence. This you must learn.” Skel retorted as he crawled on his hands and knees to the edge of his cell, where he smiled at the eight-legged shadow, reaching a hand from the bars. “Thank you, Iktome.”
Smoke curled from a hand-rolled cigarette between the deputy’s index and middle fingers, and a smile crossed his face as he narrowed his eyes at the small, ancient television that sat on the corner of the desk. He laughed heartily, the high-pitched sound bouncing off of the walls and coming back to him.
He heard another howl from outside, and his laugh quickly became a cry of terror, and he jumped to his feet, clutching his chest and breathing hard. He put the joint out and crossed the room, peeking through the blinds.
“G’damn coyotes.” He said in a perfect imitation of the sheriff.
He flung the door open and peered outside. He stood in the door frame for a moment before another scream came from his lips, as what he saw was burned into his eyes. The sheriff’s corpse, bloody and ragged, surrounded by a group of coyotes ripping him limb from limb.
He slammed the door closed behind him and closed his eyes, attempting to catch his breath. Then he heard a long, low, sorrowful note erupt from in front of him, and he opened his eyes to see the man that the sheriff had told him about sitting casually on his desk, with a guitar in his hands.
“When your people do leave our land, I think you can leave the guitar.” The man said as plainly as if he were commenting on the weather, as he struck another sorrowful note.
“What are you doing out of your cell?” the deputy asked, panic in his voice as he reached for his gun.
“You will not kill me. Do not fool yourself.” Skel said, continuing his guitar playing.
“What do you want?” the deputy asked.
“That is a long list. I would start with you paying attention to the fate of your leader. Know that such a fate will find you one day, if you continue on his path.” Skel said, hopping down from the desk and putting his pipe and tomahawk into a beaded leather bag that lay by his things. He pulled the bag of compressed plant matter from the desk before him and placed it in the bag as well, and slung it and the guitar over his shoulder.
“I can’t let you leave.” The deputy said shakily, pulling his gun.
“You will not kill me. I have told you this all ready.”
“Look, pal. You don’t know what I will do! You don’t kn-“ the deputy was cut short as he cried out in pain.
He fell to his knees, dropping his gun to clutch his shoulder, where a large spider scampered over his hand on its way to the bag that Skel had slung over his shoulder.
“Thank you, once more, Iktome. Do you see? White men doubt even what they are told in truth.” Skel said, laughing before fixing his yellow eyes on the fallen deputy. “I told you that you would not kill me. And I will not kill you, and you will not die. But I warn you, change your ways.”
The native-American man walked back to where his former cell was and jangled the keys at the pair of young boys who were in the cell beside him. He took the bag of marijuana from his bag and threw it through the bars, followed by the keys.
“Show me you have learned the way of silence, and speak nothing of what you have seen.”
The dumbfounded boys watched with open mouths as the man’s soft footfalls faded into a whisper, drowned out by the sound of coyotes coming from outside the walls.
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R.D. Ward is a dark fantasy writer and poet residing in Denton, Texas.
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