Canis Latrans

by Levi Andrew Noe


Coyote Dances with the Prairie Dogs

No regrets. That’s what I always say. But that don’t mean I wouldn’t go back and change anything. In the past I was careless, cock-sure, and thought I was goddamn invincible. Send me back in time and I’d give myself a few warnings. Send me back in time and I’d a killed every last damn prairie dog on the planet. Rat bastards.

You want to know how I got to be like this, in this old fart-mouthed, saggy-balled human form? Well, it starts with a trick I pulled. Surprise, surprise.

You happened to catch me on a good day. A day when I feel like telling the truth. And so, since you ask, I’ll tell you the story that set this whole end of days, apocalypse shit-show into being. And I’ll also tell you from the get-go, which is very rare for me, that I ain’t blameless in this. I coulda done better. I coulda followed something other than my dick or my stomach for once. But goddamn! If ya got a problem with the way I was made, take it up with my creator. Lord knows I’ve tried.

Anyways, I might as well get on with the story. Everyone knows I’d try to talk the sun outta setting, but we ain’t got time for that. Sun’s already setting.

So there I was, back in the good ol’ days. Actually, shit, that wasn’t the good days, that was right when the good days was just getting the sour taste of piss on the back end. Time’s hard to reckon when you been around for millennia, and this whole sorry state of affairs has just started in the last few hundred years. So, let me start again.

There I was, back in the days when you could tell shit wasn’t quite right by the wafts of death and coal you’d get every now and again, but it wasn’t yet bad enough to call it a massacre, or a genocide. Some of us still underestimated the white man’s greed and his heartlessness. But we’ll get to that in another story. This is the story of how I facked myself by not killing every last shit-licking prairie dog in existence.

I was out walking about. Probably just came from a dance, or tricked some poor guy outta his whiskey, just another normal day. Then I see a soldier’s jacket hanging from a signpost at a crossroads. I saw that there uniform and I knew I just had to do something with it. Didn’t take me long till I came up with a plan, never did quite know where those ideas came from or why. After several thousand years, I still had the impulse control of a hound in a harem. One of the only things being one of you stinking puss sacks has taught me: a little restraint, a little humility. I guess you can teach an old Coyote new tricks.

So, I saw the uniform and I knew there was the great prairie dog village right nearby. And I also knew I was hungrier than a bear after winter. Oh yeah, and I remembered the last time I tried to get me a prairie dog feast and that sack-o-stink, the fackin’ skunk, stole my meal. I still owe that bastard, too. But anyways, what else could I do? I hung that uniform up on a stick and carried it to the prairie dog village like a flag. I got in and started shouting.

“Hey! Hey! Hey! Come out! Everyone. Your ol’ pal Coyote’s here and guess what? He’s done and gone killed all your enemies for ya. Took this uniform as a souvenir. You won’t have to be worrying about no soldiers comin’ in and takin’ your land and killin’ your people. So, what do you say? Let’s have ourselves a little dance in my honor!”

Stupid little bucktooth bastards didn’t even think twice about it. They was all set to sing and dance and eat their own shit in my name if I told them to. I told them to make a big ol’ fire. They kept bringing sticks and I kept shouting for more. We danced and danced. I had them singing hymns about my greatness and my power. It was one of the best dances I ever been to, come to think of it.

That went on for hours before I told them I was tired and needed to sleep. I made sure they kept on dancing, though, and kept building up that fire. While I pretended to go off and sleep, what I actually did was cover up all their holes so they wouldn’t be able to get back in. Dumb rodents never suspected a thing, probably woulda just thrown themselves on the fire if I told ‘em to. Ya ask me, an animal that stupid, only purpose is to be my dinner.

I came back a little while later, said I was all rested up. Then I started to show them how I killed all those soldiers. I picked up a big stick, started swinging it around, showing them all my best moves. I made to pretend like I was gonna hit ‘em, but just barely missed. Just messing with the little idiots. I had them all gathered closer and closer to the fire and then I let loose. I started smacking ‘em down, one by one. They tried to run back to their holes, but there weren’t no holes to run back to. It took a little time, but I thought I had killed all of them. Must’ve missed one, and that’s the little shit that sold me out. Day a reckoning’s comin’ for him soon. Let me tell you.

There I was, with a pile of prairie dogs and a big ol’ fire. I put those tasty little varmints into the coals, separating the juicy fat ones, from the little scrawny ones. It had been a long night, dawn wasn’t far off, so I took myself a good rest. Knowing that when I woke I’d have myself a feast.

And that shoulda been the end of that story. ‘Cept I missed one of them prairie dogs, and I wasn’t looking around to see who might be looking at me.


Coyote in Hospice

“When I get out of here,” he huffed, “First thing I’ll do is take a shit under the moon and howl till the stars shake. And ain’t nobody gonna wipe my ass.”

“Mr. LaTrans, Mr. LaTrans, please, just hold still. No one likes getting their ass wiped, but if you can’t do it yourself, someone has to do it for you.”

Meg loved her job, but it was things like this that made her question why. And in questioning this, she would begin to question her own sanity.

The feces was so encrusted that it was like trying to scrape graffiti off brick. But in some ways this work was better than his sponge baths, and his unapologetic erections.

“Ow!” Coyote howled, “When I get out of this body, I am coming straight for those fackin’ prairie dogs. Little rat bastard shit stains! I hate being human! You people are disgusting! Why I ever helped you and brought you fire is a mystery to me. Ungrateful, sorry sacks of skin.”

“Mr. LaTrans,” she gasped, “The more you move, the longer this is going to take.”

Coyote finally settled down and let Meg do her job. It was over in a few moments. Meg snapped off her gloves and threw them in the trash. They both sighed with relief and relaxed, Meg into a chair and Coyote into his bed.

“So what were you saying about prairie dogs?”

She handed him a glass of water. He took the straw and slurped with his mouth open, tried to lap at the water with his tongue.

“I’m gonna kill that fackin’ varmint,” his voice was a vicious growl. “Kill him and his whole goddamn family. Kill his whole clan. Might just wipe out every last little yippin’ bitch on the whole damn planet.”

“Wow, that’s harsh,” Meg was remembering why she loved her job. “Never met anyone who hated them so much. What did prairie dogs ever do to you?”

Coyote’s entire body clenched, his hands in tremors. Meg rose from her seat quickly, ready to deal with a seizure.

“Little bucktooth bitch stole my medicine,” Coyote spoke low, but there was blood on his breath. “Took my medicine, took my breath. Built a cage for me in this body. Made me human, like—like—this. This toothless sack of puss. This…”

Coyote’s anger was decomposing into despair and self-loathing faster than a fallen popsicle on July asphalt.

“Mr. LaTrans,” Meg softened, “Cain. Listen, you’re not a—”

“A rotting pile of meat? Don’t go all soft on me now, girlie. You tell it like it is, that’s why I like ya’. This body’s being torn asunder like a wake of vultures was picking at me. It’s coming fast, and it can’t come any faster.”

Meg tried to hide her face, buried her eyes in charts. It only took a moment for her to regain control, but that was a moment longer than she ever took.

“Well, I just want to make you as comfortable and happy as I can while you’re still with us. Don’t be so quick to run straight towards it. And let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.”

“Anything?” Coyote inquired.


Coyote didn’t let her finish.

“Go out now. I need a rabbit. Alive. A raven’s feather. And a prairie dog’s paw. We’ve got the water, and just a pinch of dirt. Oh yea, and then we need a fire.”

“Cain, I—”

“Go, girlie! Now! The eagle’s beak is opening. If I ain’t prepared when I go, that prairie pussy’s gonna take my medicine into the next world!”

Meg had never seen Mr. LaTrans like this, so convicted, so lucid.


Coyote looked at her with ages of trickery and wisdom in his eyes. Meg let out a gasp. She saw it. She knew.

“You gotta do this. One last thing for me. You’re the only one who can save me. Please.”

He fell faint, wheezing, gasping.

“Mr. LaTrans,” Meg put her hand on him. He did not respond.

“Cain…” She touched his face.

Meg’s heart beat and throbbed like a powwow. She stood up, stumbled about for keys, shoes, knife. She ran out of the house, leaving the door swinging wide.

Coyote peaked to make sure she was gone.

“Heh, heh,” he chuckled to himself, “I’ll get that rat bastard yet.”

Then he turned his head, his face soured.

“Damn. I shoulda had her write a list.”


Coyote’s List

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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2 Responses to “Canis Latrans”

  1. » Blog Archive » Canis Latrans: Coyote in Hospice Says:

    […] « Canis Latrans […]

  2. » Blog Archive » Canis Latrans: Coyote’s List Says:

    […] read it in the correct order […]

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