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What Crow Would Say ...

Those Coyotes Go Back To School Print E-mail
Written by Munro Sickafoose   

Grandfather and Grandmother Coyote were getting sick of it. All of their children's children and their children's children were getting lazy.

"These lies they tell," said Grandfather Coyote, "are so transparent you can see right through them."

"That's right," said Grandmother Coyote, "and their shape shifting skills are ludicrous. Hardly more than smoke and mirrors."

"Why in my day, we really shifted shape. We really became what we pretended to be. None of this Hollywood special effects nonsense!" agreed Grandfather.

"Time to go back to school!" exclaimed Grandmother.

And so it was that Grandfather and Grandmother called a meeting of all the Coyotes.

Poor Little Rich Girl Coyote was there. Tall Stranger in Black Coyote was there. The Lesbian Cowgirl Car-Thief Coyotes and the Coyote-Who-Didn't-Want-To-Be-Coyote were there. The Smilin' Zen Coyote was there. Laughing Whirlwind Coyote, the Horny Nun Coyote, Murderous Poet Coyote, Teen Angel Coyote, Loveable Coyote, Swiss Chocolate Coyote, Big-hearted Coyote, Gorgeous Ballerina Coyote, River Coyote, Funky White Girl Coyote, Blues Mamma Coyote, Soft-Spoken Coyote, Hard Luck Coyote, Three-Toed Coyote, Bad Pun Coyote, Pimp Coyote, Red Baby Coyote, Gay Cabarello Coyote, Healing Chakra Coyote, Librarian Coyote, Songwriter Coyote, Hollywood Special Effects Coyote, Sweet Little Innocent Coyote, Fearful Coyote….. whew! Well, all the coyotes were there.

"It has come to our attention," said Grandfather to the gathering, "that your Coyote skills are sorely lacking! As Elders of the Coyote Clan, we think you are bringing a bad name to the Clan."

"Indeed," said Grandmother. "People think you're cute. They stick pink and blue coyotes with little kerchiefs around their necks on their refrigerators. They give cuddly Coyote dolls to their babies. Coyotes are no longer respected as Tricksters, nor feared as troublemakers."

"It's a disgrace!" exclaimed Grandfather. "I've had enough! For the next four days, all of you are going to learn how be Coyotes again. You're going to learn how to play dead, tell lies, shift your shapes and steal for your own pleasure and gain. You've been getting soft, and I'm going to make sure you remember how to be proper Coyotes! Today, I want you to go somewhere and play dead."

Several of the Coyotes rolled their eyes. Not a few yawned discreetly. (But discreetly, nonetheless. Grandfather could still turn you into something nasty if he wanted.) They all nodded politely, sniffed around each other a bit and took off. Most of them found a nice soft spot, curled up and went to sleep.

The next day, Grandfather and Grandmother gathered all the Coyote Clan together again.

"Tell us your stories about playing dead," they asked. No one spoke up.

Grandmother pointed to the Pimp Coyote. "How about you, Pimp Coyote? Tell us how you played dead."

Pimp Coyote hemmed and hawed and finally allowed as how he found a nice soft spot and curled up and gone to sleep, and how that was kind of like playing dead, and besides, it was what he wanted to do since he'd had a very late night of it the night before. Professionally speaking, of course.

Grandfather's hackles rose and his growl was deep and frightful. He looked around the circle. Everybody cringed. "Lazy good for nothings! Hardly a one of you played dead. How can you be proper coyotes if you can't play dead? Let me show you how it's done."

Grandfather flopped over and went still. He didn't move for a long time. Pretty soon he started to stink real bad. Sweet Angel Coyote went over and nudged him with a paw. An ear fell off. He was starting to rot. A voice came from the carcass saying, "That's how you play dead, you sissies!"

Grandmother spoke. "Today your task is to shift your shape and pretend to be something you aren't. We want you to go into the city and shift your shape so well that no one will know you are coyotes. Then come back and tell us your story."

There was a little more enthusiasm in the air as the coyotes left for the city. This might even be fun. That dead trick had certainly been impressive. Maybe they could learn something from the old man and woman after all. Coyote Clan descended on the unsuspecting city. They were everywhere. Laughing Whirlwind Coyote pretended to be a prostitute. Pimp Coyote pretended to be a nice Jewish boy. Tall Stranger in Black Coyote pretended to be a doctor, and actually helped some woman give birth in a taxi. Murderous Poet Coyote turned himself into a priest, snuck into a church and heard confessions all day long, forgiving people of the most heinous sins. Teen Angel Coyote became a chain-smoking, whiskey-voiced waitress and hung out at the truck stop cock-teasing truck-drivers. Blues Mama Coyote turned herself into a lilac bush and just smelled good. Coyote-Who-Didn't-Want-To-Be-Coyote pretended to be Wolf. And those are just a few of the stories that were told at the end of the day.

"Pretty good," said Grandfather Coyote when all had finished with their tales. "There may be hope for you yet. I was in the city all day long, watching you. Most of you are good shape shifters, you just need a little more practice."

" If you were watching us, how come we never saw you?" asked Sweet Little Innocent Coyote.

"Because I had no shape," said Grandfather. "Without a shape, how could you see me?"

Sweet Little Innocent Coyote's eyes went big. "Wow! No shape. I never thought of that."

"Well, duh.." muttered Hollywood Special Effects Coyote. (But real quietly, since he had the hots for Sweet Little Innocent Coyote and didn't want to mess up his chances of getting in her pants.)

"What's next?" asked Funky White Girl Coyote.

"Yeah, what's next?" asked all the coyotes. Today had been fun. They were looking forward to making more trouble

"Tomorrow," said Grandfather with a wicked smile, " you get to steal."

"Really?" said Sweet Little Innocent Coyote. "Wow!"

Hollywood Special Effects Coyote just rolled his eyes.

The next day, all the coyotes were up before dawn, stealing. Cars went for joyrides and got left in strange places with the engines running and the radios all mysteriously playing Elvis songs, no matter what the station was tuned to. Flowerpots disappeared from doorsteps. Kisses were stolen. Attention diverted. Merchants defrauded. Virgins deflowered and stolen food devoured. And not an alarm went off. Not a policeman was called. An extremely successful day, thought the coyotes as they gathered in camp, congratulating themselves on their exploits.

Grandmother Coyote, though, was very, very angry. "Someone stole our dinner!" she howled. "One of you worthless curs took the fish I was going to prepare tonight!"

She paced furiously in front of the gathering. "Which one of you did it? I'll have your hide for a rug!" No one spoke. Grandmother would indeed have their hide, and it would be a long time before they came back from that particular death.

"Calm down, Mother," said Grandfather. "It was a brilliant theft, after all. Who ever took that fish was a master thief. It disappeared right in front of your eyes, right from the kitchen table. They should be congratulated as the best coyote of all."

"Hah!" snapped Grandmother. "It was your favorite… rainbow trout! There'll be no tasty dinner for you, you old fool."

"What? Trout?" Grandfather turned his steely gaze on the assembly. "Someone has gone too far. Brilliant theft or no, I want trout for dinner. Whoever took that damn fish had better return it!"

All the coyotes glanced at each other suspiciously. Someone had taken the fish, and now Grandfather and Grandmother had no dinner. Whoever had taken that fish was really in for it. There was a very long silence.

Grandmother and Grandfather Coyote had a whispered conversation, and then Grandmother spoke, saying, "What we want is the fish back. I won't take the hide of the thief, and whoever took that fish will be remembered as the best thief of all for as long as we Coyotes tell stories in our councils."

"You have our word," said Grandfather. There was a short silence, and then a chorus of voices sang out all at once.

"I took it," said Murderous Poet Coyote.

"I took it," said Poor Little Rich Girl Coyote.

"I took it," said Hollywood Special Effects Coyote, who was still hoping to impress Sweet Little Innocent Coyote and get in her pants.

The voices came fast and furious. "I took it." "NO, I took it." "It was me." "Liars! I took it!" "You couldn't steal candy from a baby!" "I took it! I'm the best thief." In a matter of seconds, the coyotes were all nipping and snarling at each other. It looked like a serious brawl was going to break out.

"ENOUGH!" roared Grandfather with his medicine voice. (Which sounded like lightning striking and was impossible to ignore.) There was instant silence.

"There's an easy way to settle this. Whoever took that fish, bring it back here. NOW!"

The coyotes scattered, each of them thinking the same thing: What a liar those other coyotes are. I took that fish. It's in my camp, and I'll show those sorry lying sons of dogs (which is a great insult to a coyote) who really is the best thief.

And each coyote went back to their camp, and got the fish they had stolen, and brought it back. Pretty soon there was an enormous pile of fish in front of Grandmother and Grandfather Coyote, and they were all looking at each other in amazement.

"How can this be?" Grandmother whispered to Grandfather. "There was only one fish. Now there's enough to feed everyone."

"I don't know," replied Grandfather softly. "It's a mystery to me."

Murderous Poet Coyote spoke. "Grandmother, I really did take the fish. You turned your back for just a second to get some water, and I snatched it away, quick as a wink, silent as dust."

"That's exactly how I stole it," said Swiss Chocolate Coyote.

"And I," said Sweet Little Innocent Coyote, who was now no longer quite so innocent, but was still as sweet as ever.

"And I," said Blues Mamma Coyote.

As they each spoke, it became apparent that the same thing had happened to every one of them.

"Were you playing a trick on us, Grandmother?" asked Laughing Whirlwind Coyote.

"No," said Grandmother. "There really was just one fish."

"I hate to admit it, but we're just as astonished as you are," added Grandfather. "It's a Mystery."

"What do we do now?" someone asked.

"That's easy," said Grandfather. "We have a Party!"

Those Coyotes partied all night long. They feasted on trout until their bellies looked like melons. The moon came up and they yipped and howled. Then Big-hearted Coyote, Gorgeous Ballerina Coyote, River Coyote, Funky White Girl Coyote, Horny Nun Coyote, and Blues Mamma Coyote tuned up their drums and fiddles and their voices and got the music going.

Murderous Poet Coyote and Laughing Whirlwind Coyote danced until the moon went down.

Hollywood Special Effects Coyote finally managed to talk Sweet Little Innocent Coyote into going into the bushes with him, and found out that not only was she not as innocent as he had thought, but also much much sweeter. (They married forever and had many pups together and became Grandfather and Grandmother themselves in time.)

Loveable Coyote and Swiss Chocolate Coyote played cards all night, and Swiss Chocolate Coyote lost his tail and one ear. Soft-Spoken Coyote, Hard Luck Coyote, and Three-Toed Coyote talked philosophy and astrology until Three-Toed and Hard Luck got in an argument over the effects of the rising sign on karmic destiny, and had to be pulled apart before they killed each other.

Bad Pun Coyote and Pimp Coyote sat up telling stories. Red Baby Coyote and Gay Cabarello Coyote and Healing Chakra Coyote and Librarian Coyote and Songwriter Coyote and… well, I won't tell you what they did, nor some of the others, but it was a great party, and it lasted all night.

Grandfather and Grandmother Coyote watched over it for a long time, then they strolled off to bed, unnoticed by the revelers, where they curled up under the crescent moon and dreamt of each other.

Late the next morning, with not a few hangovers and not a few bumps and blushes and giggles, they convened again.

"One last day we are together," said Grandfather. "One last day, and then you must go back out into the world, hopefully as better coyotes than before. Today is the day to tell lies. I want you to go and live a lie, or tell a lie, or make up a lie, and then come back and lie to us."

"I cannot tell a lie," giggled Loveable Coyote.

"Liar," said Three-Toed Coyote.

"Shush!" snarled Murderous Poet Coyote, who had the worst hangover of all.

Well, I can only tell you that some lies got told. And some truths, but since they were presented as lies, no one believed them. Or did they? There were some real tall tales and fantastic stories told, but you had to be there. Or did you?

When it came time to say goodbye, some of the coyotes were already gone. Grandfather and Grandmother were a little sad to see the Clan go, but as Grandfather said later, "It's crazy enough being a coyote without having them underfoot all the time."

The Coyote Clan went back out into the world and started lying and stealing and shape-shifting again. They were a little better at it than before; so Grandmother and Grandfather Coyote reckoned their refresher course had been something of a success.

"But they could still be better," growled Grandfather to Grandmother. "Too much trouble of the wrong kind in the World today. Too much trouble and not enough Magical Mischief."

"They'll do just fine," said Grandmother. "Just fine. After all, it's in their blood."

And she smiled her most mischievous smile.

The End.

Copyright © 2000 Munro Sickafoose


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Those Coyotes Go Back To School
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