Urban Coyote, Part 3
Dusk fell on an open desert highway, the sand painted blue as the sun began its daily trip home. Dust settled slowly; meandering down through the dry, hot air and taking its rightful place on the dirt road. Before the cloud, a red jeep sped by, and behind it, a dark-skinned man trekked through the heat. He wore loose leathers that may have once been tan, but had by now faded into a dull gray and carried an acoustic guitar on his back with a strap of beaded brown leather.
His black hair was pulled back, save for a lock that hung down the left side of his face, adorned with beads and held in a braid with a string of leather. A hide purse and drinking skin swung at his waist, alongside a tomahawk held in place with yet more natural-looking leather. Circular scars adorned the face of the man, around his odd, yellow eyes. Ahead of the man, the jeep crawled to a stop.
Skel expended no effort to close the distance between himself and the vehicle, and didn't even seem remotely concerned with getting a ride to begin with. Indeed, he afforded not even the slightest glance to the jeep as he passed. He paid no heed at all until a voice came from its driver side.
"Say, you need a ride?"
Skel paused for a mere moment, turning slowly to the voice and looking its owner square in the face. He stared for a long moment, smiling ever so slightly as the driver caught a glimpse of his face.
"I do not like the way you look at me, white man. But the day is hot, and I will pay you."
"Cool. Get in." The driver said, with a sideways look at his passenger.
Skel put his guitar in first, before climbing into the back seat and sitting down, both his eyes upon the two occupants of the front seat. The driver was on the short side and slightly over weight. His face was covered in stubble, and a single silver tooth glinted from his smile. His wiry companion had somewhat cramped, mousy features and looked nervously in the rearview at the newcomer.
"Cool guitar. Where'd ya get it?" The passenger asked, his nervousness anointing his voice.
"It was a gift." was Skel's reply.
"So, where ya headin'?" the driver asked in a gravelly voice, throwing the jeep into gear and pulling forward.
"West." Skel said, clearly avoiding conversation.
"Ya know, I don't think I like your attitude. You should be more grateful." The driver said, with the subtle hints of a threat in his voice.
"We coulda left you in the desert to rot." Said the smaller passenger.
"Perhaps that would be for the best." Was Skel's only reply.
"I think you might just be right." said the driver, with anger in his voice.
The jeep veered right; off the road and into the sand. The vehicle plowed its way through the dust and dirt with ease, and in a few moments, they were well out of sight from the road. The driver slammed on the brakes and put the jeep into park.
"Out, then." the driver barked.
Skel wordlessly moved his hand simultaneously to his guitar and the handle of his door, and made to leave, still lacking even the briefest hint of panic.
"Leave the guitar, and the purse." said the passenger, pulling a pistol from beneath his seat.
Skel eyed the gun with disgust, and made no move to alter his course. The driver side door flung open just as Skel made it to his feet, and the driver landed a punch square into the face of the Native American man, who fell sprawling.
"I suggest you listen." the driver said, his passenger steeping out of the car as well, gun in hand.
"I suggest you kill me." Skel said, gazing contemptuously at the two men.
"We'll get to that. Grab that skin, Rick. Let's see what chief here is drinking."
The skinny one, Rick, stepped toward Skel, whose hand flew to his tomahawk, but the driver kicked his hand and sent it flying into the sand. Rick bend down and pulled the skin from Skel's beaded leather belt and handed it to the driver.
"You don't want to do this." Skel said plainly, and the two men had a hearty laugh.
"Oh, I think we do, chief." the driver said, putting the skin to his lips and taking a long pull before handing it to the man named Rick, who drank likewise.
Skel shook his head, and rose to his feet, moving without fear to the jeep and pulling from it his guitar. He placed the strap over his shoulders and brought the instrument around to his front, plucking a few notes with his finger. Rick leveled the gun to the man's head.
"'The hell ya think you're doin'?" Rick asked, looking slightly amused.
"White men seem to learn as well as they listen. I warned you."
"What're ya talkin' about, ya crazy sumbitch?" The driver said.
"It's not quite a funeral without a song." Skel quipped, strumming a low, sorrowful melody on the guitar.
And, as if on cue, the driver began to choke and sputter, clutching at his throat. Blood issued forth from his mouth, as Rick turned with panic in his eye.
"Bobby? Bobby! What the hell!?" Rick exclaimed, frightened and confused.
He managed to turn to face Skel once more, before he gagged, his eyes wide in fear in recognition, as the blue orbs fell on the flask that was still clutched in his own hand. It fell to the ground alongside Bobby's fallen figure, followed shortly by the gun, and finally, Rick himself. Skel merely played on, smiling to himself as the sun finally fell to sleep beneath the edge of the world and the coyotes began to howl in the cold light of the rising moon.
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R.D. Ward is a dark fantasy writer and poet residing in Denton, Texas.
Labels: R.D. Ward