Tag Archives: Coyotes

“Mange” – Fiction by Cyndisa Coles-Harris

Wild_coyoteMysterious coyotes & ominous heat lightning inhabit “Mange,” Cyndisa Coles-Harris‘ surreal, semi-apocalyptic tale from our Summer 2016 issue.

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SKINNY COYOTE, WILD WITH MANGE, won’t stop rubbing up against the northwest corner of this house’s foundation.  She leaves rucked tufts of red-silver hair, scabs caught at the edge where the siding meets the cinderblock.

Some nights there’s heat lightning over Lake Los Angeles.  Heat lightning has no color and makes no sound.  You see the light, and you feel a fraction of a second’s gap in the air around you.  Time and the possibility of breathing; that’s where the thunder is.  No sound, but there’s a crack in time and in the air.  I stand out on the back porch and watch the clouds strobe, and I kick the loose hair free of the house’s northwest corner.

And sometimes I think that coyote is Cinderella or Snow White or anyway is somehow enchanted, is trying to set me up for something.  I should collect her hair and spin it on a spinning wheel.  I should stock up on silver bullets.  Something.

In this season, I let my backyard hose drip under the last living Joshua tree day and night.  I feel like I have to.  I didn’t kill the rest, I didn’t make the ungodly heat, I didn’t make my own tree the last one.  It’s only, I’ve been here long enough that I feel responsible somehow.

Once, in a September as hot as this one but years ago, I saw a roadrunner loping circles along the shoulder of the highway, staggering.  Out of its mind, that bird, dying of thirst.  If the coyote is Snow White, then I could’ve called a dying roadrunner the prince, except that these things happened in the wrong order.  The roadrunner stumbled in and out of my life ages ago, before all the rest of the desert died of the heat, long before the coyote started leaving clumps of her filthy hair at the corner of my house.  So I never thought to call that bird a prince.  I missed my chance, missed half the myth.

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I watch cartoons when the aerial is working.  Often it doesn’t; something in the weather out here sends noise down the wire to the screen, so it snows most days.  Not outside, not ever; this place was always desert, even before the drought.  But it snows on the screen.  Cable out here is expensive, I can’t pay bills with coyote hair.  But like I say, the problem with the aerial is atmospheric.  I’ve learned that if the television is working by noon, then there’ll be heat lightning at night, so it’s useful for guessing the weather, at least.  And when I can, I watch cartoons.

There’s just the one station, and they show cartoons.  Only the coyote and roadrunner.  There are six or seven of these manic short films, and they play on a loop.  Cliff, slingshot, TNT, poor coyote, over and over.  Either the station only broadcasts those six, seven cartoons on a loop, or else it airs more and different things, but if so it’s one hell of a coincidence: always coyote and roadrunner playing when the snow stops and the screen functions.

Then at night there’s heat lighting, and every flash brings that silent gasp of thunder.  Always, the moment, and then the moment’s gone and there’s sound and space again.

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