Coyote, Coyote
Dennis James Sweeney

Coyote, dressed as a beggar, sat outside Roadrunner's office holding a smudged plastic cup by its handle. Roadrunner's generosity was famous: Coyote knew he wouldn't resist the chance to show his kindness on the stage of the city streets. He cackled. His plan was foolproof.

When Roadrunner came out at the end of the day, he paused, smiled at Coyote, and pulled a brown bag from within his overcoat. "This is a bag of money," Roadrunner said. "Here." Coyote took the brown bag greedily. His ruse had worked. He stood as if to hug Roadrunner, although he planned in seconds to bite his flesh and feast on the toned sinews within.

Suddenly, two police officers rushed up as if out of nowhere and took Coyote underneath the arms. "What do you have in that bag?" one of them asked. "Looks like crack to me," said the other one, opening it up. They dragged him off to the waiting cruiser and threw him inside. Neither of them even bothered to keep his head from banging the doorframe.

Without money or social capital, Coyote was condemned to spend the rest of his life in jail, reading the shitty novels that used bookstores could not sell. A month after his sentence, Roadrunner visited him and made as if to apologize for the mix-up. "That was my crack pocket, not my money pocket," Roadrunner said, smirking. "It's terrible. They feel so much alike."

Then Roadrunner pushed a half-empty pack of cigarettes across the counter. Coyote, upon looking inside, spat at Roadrunner. His gob of saliva hit the glass between them and made a tiny storm within the fog. Roadrunner looked sadly at Coyote, shaking his head and breathing a deep sigh. Coyote, looking inside the pack of cigarettes a second time, pocketed them, stood, and kicked his chair. "Run, you fat fuck!" he shouted as a guard pushed him to the floor and cuffed him. "Run, you giant fucking bird!"

As Coyote screamed, Roadrunner approached the exit to the visiting room. The sign on the door said, "Please limit your visiting time to forty-five minutes." Roadrunner looked at his watch. It had been fifteen. Outside, his convertible waited along with the sun of a spring day. With a measure of relief, Roadrunner walked through the prison door into the light.

Dennis James Sweeney lives in Corvallis, Oregon. He has work in or coming from Mid-American Review, alice blue, Fiction Southeast and others.

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