Still Life with Coyote (Excerpt)
[Switches on the tape recorder] Let’s get started. How did you end up living here?

[Sighs] Everyone starts with that question. What do you expect, some sob story about getting nabbed in a trap, breaking a leg, having it heal crooked, some shit like that? What makes you think I didn’t choose to live here, huh? Don’t you think, hey, maybe a coyote gets tired of dumpster diving, stealing from hen coops, racing cattle ranchers for his life? Look, see that dish in the corner? Food dish. For me. Got my name on it and everything. Not my actual name, of course. Name the old lady calls me. Still means it’s mine, no one’s gonna steal it from me, fight me for it, I can take my time eating it. It’s good stuff, fresh, no carrion, no flies on it hardly at all. No having to sniff it round for poison. I like it here, OK? Get the picture?

What do you like about it?

The food, like I said. Got sleek, living here, not starving. Got some padding on my bones now. Look in a mirror-that's one of the interesting things about this place, mirrors-look in a mirror, can't see my ribs no more. And it's warm in here, even when I can see snow through them windows. Look out and laugh, ha ha! Stupid snow, can't get me! Sometimes, it gets maybe even a bit too warm. That's something, ain't it? You live through the prairie winters round here, you get to appreciate being too warm.

So you'd say you're comfortable here.

What exactly you implying, buster? You saying I'm soft? Let me tell you something, nobody messes with me. Nobody! They all know what they'll get, messing with me. See these teeth, buck-o? See these claws? That's what they'll get. Stupid bear, too. Thought he was so big. Messed with me, got what was coming to him. You think about that real good before you start telling folks I've gone soft. "Comfortable." Ha!

Anyone "messed with you" recently, since you've been here?

Not much they ain't. I got a reputation, me, nobody comes round here looking for trouble. Old lady's got a reputation, too....

This has been an excerpt from the Friday Fictionette for September 4, 2015. Patrons can download the full-length fictionette (883 words) from Patreon in PDF or MP3 format depending on their pledge tier.

Cover art incorporates public domain images as follows: Photo of hotel interior by GregoryButler at, and "Coyote in Grand Teton" from the U.S. National Park Service.