Coyote Love

The Man was certain the Coyote had just winked at him.

Not in a seductive manner, as that would have been outlandish, and would have led to too many questions best left unanswered.

No, this wink, which came after the Coyote had raised its bloodstained muzzle from its feast, was one of an inside joke. And given the conspiratorial nature of the Coyote’s delivery, it would have been perfectly reasonable for a casual observer to think that the Man was, in some way, in on the joke as well.

The Man, quite uneasy with the whole thing, decided to rub his eyes and pretend that the wink hadn’t happened. He regrouped and took aim back down his rifle scope across the snow-covered farmer’s field to where he had first spotted the Coyote, and saw that it had been cannibalizing another coyote, one clearly not in on the joke. The Man knew coyotes were hunters of opportunity, even if the opportunity involved one of their own. Though he would never admit as much, the Man understood such reasoning.

The Man had never liked coyotes. Even before they started winking at him.

Sneaky bastards, he liked to call them

Trickster gods, his late friend would counter.

That wasn’t the only, or most severe, disagreement they used to have.

The Man sighted in the possibly flirtatious—but definitely scheming—Coyote and had to admit that it was a handsome creature. Its shoulders were wide and its winter coat smooth and thick and free of mange. The Coyote seemed finished with its meal and, though it somehow seemed aware of the Man’s presence, it showed no inclination of disappearing into the nearby woods with a magician’s grace, as most coyotes would do once spotted.

And then, entirely unexpectedly and vaguely unnervingly, the Coyote trotted directly towards the Man, unbothered by the fact that a high-powered hunting rifle was zeroed in on its core. It moved casually, sniffing the air here and there as it came closer, pausing to keenly watch a pair of crows circle overhead who noisily squawked their apparent disapproval. The Coyote growled a rebuttal of sorts at the sky, and only resumed its path towards the Man once the crows had flown off.

The Coyote came to a stop on a small ridge halfway across the field, which was well within range for even a greenhorn shooter, let alone one with the Man’s experience. There, the Coyote looked straight at the Man with eyes so full of curiosity and fiendishness that they could have only belonged to a man.

And then it winked again. Of this the Man was now certain. It was a large and exaggerated wink that brought along a wide-open mouth, as if it was playing to a crowd on stage. This made the Man extremely uncomfortable and, right then and there, he decided to shoot the fucker. It would make a nice rug for his living room and perhaps some meat for the Wife.

The Coyote appeared to read the Man’s thoughts and turned broadside as if in agreement with the plan. When the Man paused at the impossibility of this, the Coyote threw an impatient look in his direction.

“Damn thing near wants to get shot,” the Man mumbled into the wind. He pulled the trigger to an explosion of gunpowder that hurled a bullet straight into the Coyote’s heart.

But nothing happened. At least not right away.

A moment later than the Man expected, the Coyote jumped. It jumped as if it had suddenly remembered its line. The Coyote stumbled forward, then backward, then forward again, in an overacted b-movie death scene. It stole a sideways glance to confirm it still had an audience, and then arched its head backwards and made a big show of collapsing into the pure white snow.

“Damn thing wants an Oscar”, the Man said to no one in particular.

He walked across the farmer’s field to the small ridge and nudged the lifeless corpse with his boot. Satisfied that it would wink no more, he claimed his poached spoil and threw it over his shoulder. The Man started back home and could have sworn he heard laughter, but, since he was alone, he assumed it must have just been the wind.


The man was asleep next to the Wife when he was woken by her little thin-haired mutt screeching from somewhere in the house. The Dog and the Wife had been a package deal, so he generally tried to avoid running it over on a best effort basis.

The Man, reluctantly getting up while cursing the Dog’s existence, found it whining at the back door. When he opened the door, it shot out into the cold blackness of the night, yapping away with its usual small dog confidence—an unearned confidence derived from somehow knowing that the Wife’s happiness was dependent on its own well-being, and that the Man’s love life was dependent on the Wife’s happiness.

The Man acknowledged these facts by grabbing his rifle, his winter coat, and following the dog outside. His eyes adjusted to the moonless night in time to see the shed door ajar and the Dog leveraging his way inside, though the man could have sworn he had properly closed up after cleaning and hanging the Coyote hide.

Inside, the Man flicked on the lights and noticed everything was as he had left it—save for two things. The first was the Coyote hide, which had somehow fallen from the drying line. The second was that the hide had a large, almost mocking grin, far more pronounced than the Man had thought he had sculpted during the tanning process.

The Dog did its best to intimidate the lifeless hide, combining a low growl with aggressive jutting to and fro, but tellingly, never coming closer than a few feet. Just as the Man was about to curse the Dog away, he could have sworn he caught a flash of brilliant white teeth from the direction of the hide. At the same time, the Dog let out a high-pitched whine and bolted out of the shed, leaving behind a thin trail of urine.

The Man allowed himself a satisfied grin as he gathered the hide and draped it back over the drying line, and, in yet another act he would forever keep to himself, he whispered “good job”, and patted the Coyote on its head.


A month later the Coyote hide had been dried and turned into a nice little rug, now placed before the fireplace with its white teeth grinning at anyone who walked into the living room. The Man warmed himself with an evening fire and a fresh bottle of whisky and appreciated his handiwork. In an unexpected but not unwelcomed surprise, the Dog now refused to enter the living room whereas before the Man would regularly find it sleeping in his recliner, and often refusing to move when prodded.

Soon though, the Dog wouldn’t stop whining from the doorway. He grinded the Man’s patience down to the point where he couldn’t control himself anymore—he leapt from his recliner to grab the mangy little dog by its throat, sex life be damned. But before he could squeeze his fingers tight, he heard the Wife’s car roll up in the driveway. The Man and the Dog exchanged a knowing look, one from the Man that said I was about to ring your neck, to which the Dog replied, perhaps naively, you don’t have the balls.

The Man returned to his recliner and after another couple of whiskies, he began fantasizing about where to bury the body, a fantasy he had previous and practical experience making into reality.

The Man awoke the following morning in the predawn darkness, had his typical burnt toast and black coffee, and drove to work listening to the morning radio show, all with the unshakeable feeling that something was amiss. He set aside his worry for the demands of his job at the mill, and it was only when he checked his phone messages eight hours later did he find out what had been missing from his morning routine: he had not only never let the Dog out for its morning piss, but he hadn’t even seen the little yappy mutt at all. 

According to the Wife’s uncontrollable sobs, the Dog was nowhere to be seen and she feared the worst. He was thankful she told him by phone, as she wouldn’t have appreciated the big smile across his face at hearing the news. A smile as big as the moon.

The Man rehearsed various empathetic responses on the drive home, but to no avail. The Wife greeted him at the doorstep and immediately accused him of some undefined manner of treachery. The only way to prove his innocence, according to the Wife, was to find her “beautiful angel of a dog.” 

He had to fight a great battle with his inner nature to refrain from explaining that he had never met this dog she was describing, and decided, or rather his sex life dictated, that he would perform a perfunctory search of the nearby woods. He would also make half-hearted phone calls to their nearest neighbours asking them to keep an eye out, but only if it wasn’t too much trouble, in a way that said he’d understand if it was.

Hours later and cold, tired, and with a failed search under his belt, depending on one’s definition, the Man returned home. He didn’t have to tell his wife he hadn’t found the Dog, the giant silent hole that should have been filled with pointless yapping spoke for itself. He went into the living room, now his bedroom, stoked the fire until it was ablaze and went to pour himself a well-earned nightcap. He was surprised to find the bottle empty, though he was certain he had had plenty left. He assumed he was mistaken and opened a new bottle over the roar of the fire and his wife’s tears, with the Coyote rug watching him silently from across the room with a smile. A smile as big as the moon.


A few weeks later, in the depth of winter, the Wife’s shoulder was still colder than all outdoors. She still hadn’t commented on him switching to the night shift, a shift known at the mill as the single man’s shift.

The Man returned home in the same predawn darkness in which he used to drive to work and made his burnt toast and black coffee. While sitting quietly so as not to wake the Wife, he was surprised to feel the warmth of her arms embrace him and the heat of her breath on his neck.

“Good morning, lover,” she purred. He cocked his head, and saw she was wearing a silk robe with a scandalously poorly tied knot protecting her innocence. She gave him a sensual kiss on his lips, grabbed his mug and glided across the kitchen. “Let me freshen that up and make you a proper breakfast. You must be starving.”

The Man was, but wondered why she thought so. He quickly became distracted as she pranced around the kitchen, letting a nipple slip loose with faux embarrassment, and later, a suggestive lean into the fridge. The Man had questions but kept his mouth shut, at least until breakfast was served and he was certain it wasn’t a trap. After breakfast, with the Wife glowing with a sensual vibe that he was not keen on ruining, he said he was going to get some sleep and began towards the living room.

“Don’t be silly” she giggled. “After last night, you’re more than welcome in my—excuse me—our marital bed.”

The Wife told him she was headed out for the day, but would be home for dinner, and suggested steak for a man of his grand appetites. A million questions raced through his mind, but he knew the dumbest thing he could do was ask any of them, so he nodded dumbfounded and went to bed with a growing apprehension in his stomach. A feeling he might have shared with his late friend.

The Man awoke hours later and the brief winter sun had already set, so there was darkness everywhere. He was caught off guard to hear the fire already crackling and called for his wife, but his calls went unanswered and the house felt strangely alien. The definite clinking of a whisky glass told him to grab his rifle, but this instinct was overpowered by a ghostly presence summoning him to the living room. There, the Man found shadows dancing across the walls, empty whisky bottles strewn across the floor, and a strange figure relaxing in his recliner.

“Pour you a whisky, friend?” The figure asked him. The Man’s eyes darted to the space before the fireplace, which was now empty. He looked back to the chair, and recognized the same fiendish eyes and blood-soaked muzzle first seen at across a farmer’s field. Over its heart was a hole, with blood staining the surrounding fur. The Coyote followed the Man’s eyes to the wound.

“Oh don’t worry about that. I’ve had worse. And no, I didn’t take it personally.” The Coyote smiled but this time the Man didn’t think of a shared inside joke, but one of which he was the butt. The Coyote stood, poured a whisky until the glass overflowed, and handed it to the Man, who accepted it for no other reason other than he desperately needed a drink. The Man squeezed his eyelids shut and downed the entirety of his drink, hoping that when he opened them again he would find himself back in bed, or at the very least in a mental hospital. Unfortunately he was still in his living room, getting his drink refilled by a supernatural coyote.

“What is this?” The Man asked as he studied the Coyote, who was now tending to the fire. The Coyote’s anamorphic body fit with the precision of a tailored suit, and the Man couldn’t help but notice his considerable manhood, if that was the proper term for such a thing, which was swinging freely to and fro.

“This is a damn fine whisky. I must say you have excellent taste in all your endeavours. All of them.” The Coyote turned and winked again, then added, “and there’s no need to thank me.”

“Thank you? For what?”

“For getting rid of your problem. I knew what you wanted and well, to be perfectly honest, I couldn’t stand the little fucker either.”

“The Dog?”

“Surprisingly delicious! Even better than eating your own” He finished off his whisky. “You know what I’m talking about.”

The Man avoided his gaze but had to ask. “You slept with my wife, didn’t you?” It was a question he had heard before, just not from his own lips.

“Repeatedly,” the Coyote raised his glass in cheers in a manner that was curiously beguiling, and the Man couldn’t help but think of an exiled aristocrat. The second drink went down faster than the first.

The Coyote stared at him, and the Man couldn’t help but feel a dangerous closeness, and saw in those fiendish eyes a terrible reflection of what he had thought, and what he had done. The stories told by his late friend came rushing back, stories about a kinship with the spirit world and more specifically, about coyotes and the trickster god. The Man now felt a certain calmness overtake him, a newfound confidence in that he now understood the nature of their relationship.

“You’re my spirit animal, aren’t you?” The Man asked.

The Coyote found this delicious, and threw his head back in wild, scathing laughter. “No, no, no sir. Not at all.” He couldn’t help but pause briefly at the unearned arrogance of man, “I’m a god. You’re my spirit animal.”

A dumbfounded expression fell across the Man, his eyes rolled back into his skull and his balance became unsteady. It was clear some truth inside him had broken. The Coyote stood amused, but overall, rather indifferent to the Man’s suffering, and came closer. So close that he could hear the Man’s heartbeat, one modelled after his own.

“I like it here. I think I might stay.”

“I don’t think I want you to,” the Man said quietly.

“Like I said,” the Coyote said, growing impatient. “I’m a god.” He opened his mouth and a terrible scream filled the night. The whisky glasses shattered in their hands and the fire abruptly snuffed itself out, plunging the room into darkness, save for the Coyote’s brilliant white teeth. The screaming intensified and his teeth grew sharper and sharper as they slowly and easily pierced the Man’s flesh, and his mouth grew larger and larger until it engulfed the Man and his vain cries of protest. Then the Coyote swallowed and the screaming stopped. With a puff and a flash the fire came back into existence as if it had never left, and a naked figure stood basking in its hot, lively glow.

The Coyote curved and flexed in his new form, working out the kinks as one does in a new suit. He moved to pour himself a new glass of whisky and waited patiently but eagerly for the Wife to return home.

When she did, the Coyote greeted her by the fire, naked with a whisky glass in hand, and gave her a wink. A wink that, had the Wife not been so happily distracted by his manhood swinging to and fro, she would have recognized as one of an inside joke.

January 2021