- Vol. 01
- Chapter 06
Image by Marcus Bastel
HOMERDaddy said in 1913 it got so hot birds died mid-flight, jus fell out the sky like black meteors.
Thud. Thud. Thud.
Daddy alus tole that story when someone new came in the bar, to see their eyes go wide at the power of nature. He liked telling stories. That’s why he had the TVs removed from the rooms, said folk should talk to each other. He was right too. When I was a kid, I remember the bar was alus full with customers talkin t’ each other, bout where they was from and where they was going.
Daddy tole them about the coyote too, how it had lost its ma and had been beggin by the roadside since it was a pup. He made sure to tell em not to feed it, that it needed to hunt for itself. No one listened though. That coyote got fat on Cheetos and salami. It use to waddle along like a Florida pensioner. Me and my twin brother Nate called him Homer.
Daddy bought us guns when we was eight years old, said a man should learn to hunt. He showed us how to clean and load and aim and he rigged up targets in the yard using cans left by customers. We’d spend every free moment firing at those targets. Sometimes the city folks’d watch and give us quarters for hitting em. Looking back, they must’ve thought we were freaks, little eight year old kids wielding rifles for their entertainment. It was about then that Ma got sick and Daddy was away at the hospital a lot. A big mean woman called Matilda looked after the motel and we spent most of our time outback with the targets.
Ma never came home.
HOMERAfter, Daddy banned customers from smokin in the bar. He still sold cigarettes. We were the only place you could buy anything for fifty mile, people wanted cigarettes and we needed the money. We sold em for three times the normal price and folks still bought em. Daddy tole em bout Ma when they complained and with a tear in his eye asked em to smoke outside, ‘for the sake of the boys.’
The motel was real popular that year and the coyote, Homer, was getting braver around people. He was coming nearer and nearer in search of hand-outs. One morning, up before anyone else, I found him sitting on the porch waiting for food like any dog. We looked each other in the eye, both static, and I didn’t know if he wanted to eat me or for me to pet him. He ran off when Daddy came out. Daddy went back inside and got my rifle then drove away in the car. Me an Nate sat on the porch for hours until we heard the shot. It thundered out across the heat and bounced back off the canyon walls.
I spent days crying for that coyote. Much more than I did for Ma - or Daddy.