Canis Latrans: Coyote’s List

by Levi Andrew Noe

read it in the correct order

 

The list raced through her head. Water—they had that—a pinch of dirt, that’s everywhere. But where was she going to get a live rabbit or a feather—of what kind of bird? And she needed the paw of a prairie dog. She did not want to think of where she was going to get that, not yet. First, the rabbit.

Meg looked up pet stores on her phone. Furry Fiesta was the closest, just three miles away. At a stop light, she finally had a chance to think. What the hell was she doing? She had done plenty of strange things for patients. For Glenda, she had dressed up like Dorothy and brought in her ex-boyfriend to play the cowardly lion. For Paul, she had crooned him to sleep nightly in her best off-tune Doris Day impression—she had learned the artist’s entire discography. What she was doing now was beyond crazy, beyond any reasonable scope of her job as a hospice caregiver.

But there was something in the old man’s eyes, crazy as all this was, she almost believed him. Or at the very least, it seemed like he believed himself. And so, she walked through the doors of Furry Fiesta.

The pet shop smelled like fermenting piss and cockatoo crap and the shriek of birds summoned monsoons of migraines.

“You got a rabbit?” Meg asked.

“Sure, what kind you want?”

The pet shop guy wore a white t-shirt with yellow sweat stained armpits and looked like he curled up in a cage with the lizards after closing shop.

“I don’t know—just a rabbit.”

“We got mini Rexs, dwarf Hotots, Holland lops and one Netherland dwarf.”

He spoke like he was talking about his favorite Playboy playmates and Meg tried not to cringe.

“Just a rabbit. The cheapest one.”

The man frowned, muttering under his breath. He sulked toward the rabbit cages and came back with a tiny virgin white rabbit with black rimmed eyes that made it look like it was wearing mascara.

“You got a cage?” he asked like he already knew the answer.

“I—sure. Just give me the rabbit.”

Meg paid and got back into her LeSabre, the rabbit in the passenger seat. What was next on the list? A feather? Of what? Something black, that was the image she had in her head. Blackbird? Crow? She drove around scanning power lines and trees, windows down, even though the blistering New Mexico sun was turning her car into an inferno.

Meg screeched, crossed two lanes of traffics and nearly drove straight into the desert when she heard the discordant caws. And then she saw the dark birds in a distant tree.

The bunny bounced, seizing over the pockmarked washboard dirt road. She came to the tree, a lone cottonwood beside a parched creek. She scanned the ground, assuming that where there were birds there were feathers. And…bingo. One crow feather, or were they ravens, blackbirds? What the hell was the difference?

She ran back to her car, of course, painted in bird droppings. Now, the prairie dog. She actually had to consider where she’d find a paw. It wasn’t the same as a rabbit’s foot. She looked at the poor creature beside her with pity. She started to back up, no room to turn around. It was slow going but she was almost out when she felt a resounding thump through her old Buick. Ordinarily she’d chalk it up to yet another stubborn New Mexican rock, but this felt pretty damn big. And the old girl was barely getting by on her ancient struts. Meg decided she should check it out, just to be safe. She circled around to the passenger side and—

“Well, I’ll be damned.”

She had run over a prairie dog. She weighed out her options: carry back the carcass, oozing intestines, or… She reached into the car and got her pocketknife.

“One prairie dog paw comin’ up!” she said to the rabbit, who was catatonic with fright.

When she burst back into Mr. LaTrans’ apartment at the assisted living center with an armful of carnage and soon to be carnage, she barely suppressed the primal scream that bubbled up inside her.

“What the—!?”

Cain LaTrans had the bedsheets thrown off him, obliviously nude, shuffling his age-spotted shoulders to Iggy Azalea

“What? Girl can spit,” he stopped mid-side-step. “I mean…Oh, ow, Ohhhh, Meg!”

Meg threw the bunny on the bed and shoved the severed prairie dog paw in his face.

“Aw, save it, you old hack. I should’ve known. Fool me once…”

“Wait, what’s this?” he ignored her. “You mean, you actually did it!? Well Woo-fackin-hoo! And good goddamn! Now we can have ourselves a ceremony!”

“You’re still gonna carry on with this shit?” Meg fumed.

“Water! Get it in a cup and go scoop up some dirt. I got a lighter for the fire. And—what’s this? Puh! It’s a crow feather. But it’ll have to do. Get a bowl for the rabbit blood, too!”

Coyote chanted in a forgotten tongue over “Murda Bizness.” He laboriously turned his body toward each corner of the apartment. Prairie dog paw in his mouth, crow feather in the left hand and the rabbit, hanging by the scruff of its neck in his right. He looked like a wild thing, a hidden power pouring through him.

“We’re gonna git that fackin prairie dog yet.”

 

 

 

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