Read Coyote Blue Online

Authors: Christopher Moore

Tags: #Fairy Tales; Folk Tales; Legends & Mythology, #Cultural Heritage, #Literature: Folklore, #Mythology, #Indians of North America, #Action & Adventure, #Humorous, #Employees, #Fiction, #Popular American Fiction, #Fantasy, #Fairy Tales, #Coyote (Legendary character), #Folklore, #Insurance companies, #General, #Folklore & Mythology

Coyote Blue

Christopher Moore

Coyote Blue

CONTENTS

Chapter 1 – Life Will Find You Santa Barbara, California

Chapter 2 – Montana Medicine Drunk Crow Country, Montana

Chapter 3 – The Machines of Irony Bring Memory Santa Barbara

Chapter 4 – Moments Are Our Mentors Santa Barbara

Chapter 5 – The Gift of a Dream Crow Country – 1967

Chapter 6 – A Malady of Medicine Santa Barbara

Chapter 7 – The Children of the Large-Beaked Bird Crow Country – 1967

Chapter 8 – Meet the Muse, Mr. Lizard King Santa Barbara

Chapter 9 – Quitting Now Greatly Reduces the Chance of Visions Crow Country – 1967

Chapter 10 – Over Easy, Politically Correct Santa Barbara

Chapter 11 – The God, the Bad, and the Ugly Santa Barbara

Chapter 12 – Cruelly Turn the Steel-Belted Radials of Desire Crow Country – 1973

Chapter 13 – Forget What You Know Crow Country – 1973

Chapter 14 – Lies Have Lives of Their Own

Chapter 15 – Like God's Own Chocolate I'd Lick Her Shadow Off A Hot Sidewalk Santa Barbara

Chapter 16 – Live, Via the Spirit World Satellite Network Santa Barbara

Chapter 17 – A White Picket Fence Around Chaos Santa Barbara

Chapter 18 – Shadowphobia

Chapter 19 – Five Faces of Coyote Blue

Chapter 20 – Nevermore Santa Barbara

Chapter 21 – All Happy Families Santa Barbara

Chapter 22 – Sprinkling the Son of the Morning Star Santa Barbara

Chapter 23 – Pavlov's Dogs and the Rhinestone Turd Las Vegas

Chapter 24 – Coyote in Trickster Town Las Vegas

Chapter 25 – Wheels, Deals, and the Persistance of Visions Las Vegas

Chapter 26 – Hang with a Horse Theif, Wake Up Walking Las Vegas

Chapter 27 – Food, Gas, Enlightenment, Next Right King's Lake, Nevada

Chapter 28 – Hope Is Bulletproof, Truth Just Hard to Hit

Chapter 29 – Shifting

Chapter 30 – Like Flies

Chapter 31 – There Are No Orphans Among the Crow

Chapter 32 – A Doctorate in Deception

Chapter 33 – Doors

Chapter 34 – Let Slip the Dogs of Irony

Chapter 35 – Crazy Dogs Wishing to Die

Chapter 36 – There Ain't No Cure for Coyote Blue

END

Copyright 1994

ISBN: 0-380-72523-1

eVersion 4.0 / Notes at End

This book is dedicated to the Crow people.

Author's Note

The people in this book are all products of my imagination and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. While some of the places in this book do exist, I've changed them for my own purposes, and any resemblance to real places is just an oversight on my part. In short, the whole thing is a damnable lie and contains not a shred of truth.

Pronunciation

NOUN

When the word
coyote
refers to a canine animal it is pronounced KAI-YO-TEE.

PROPER NOUN

When
Coyote
refers to a character of human appearance, or in the name
Old Man Coyote
, it is pronounced KAI-YOTE.

ADJECTIVE

When
coyote
is used as a modifier, as in
coyote ugly
(if you wake up in bed with your arm under the head of someone who is
coyote ugly
, and you would gnaw it off rather than wake that person up), it is pronounced KAI-YO-TEE.

TITLE

The title of this book is pronounced KAI-YO-TEE BLEW. Readers who have a problem with pronunciation might want to read it silently the first time through. This is doubly important if you are reading this on an airplane.

Part 1 – Epiphany

Chapter 1 – Life Will Find You

Santa Barbara, California

While magic powder was sprinkled on the sidewalk outside, Samuel Hunter moved around his office like a machine, firing out phone calls, checking computer printouts, and barking orders to his secretary. It was how he began every business day: running in machine mode until he left for his first sales appointment and put on the right persona for the prospect.

People who knew Sam found him hardworking, intelligent, and even likable, which is exactly what he wanted them to find. He was confident and successful in business, but he wore his success with a humility that put people at ease. He was tall, lean, and quick with a smile, and people said he was as comfortable in a Savile Row suit before a boardroom of businessmen as he was lounging in jeans at Santa Barbara's wharf, trading stories and lies with the fishermen. In fact, the apparent ease with which Sam mastered his environment was the single disturbing quality people noticed in him. How was it that a guy could play so many roles so well, and never seem uncomfortable or out of place? Something was missing. It wasn't that he was a bad guy, it was just that you could never get close to him, you never got a feel for who he really was, which is exactly how Sam wanted it. He thought a show of desire, of passion, of anger even, would give him away, so he suppressed these emotions until he no longer felt them. His life was steady, level, and safe.

So it happened that on an autumn-soft sunny day, not two weeks after his thirty-fifth birthday, some twenty years after he had run away from home, Samuel Hunter stepped out of his office onto the sidewalk and was poleaxed by desire.

He saw a girl loading groceries into an old Datsun Z that was parked at the curb, and to the core of his being, Sam wanted her.

Later he would recall the details of her appearance – a line of muscle on a tan thigh, cutoff jeans, the undercurve of a breast showing below the half shirt, yellow hair tied up haphazardly, tendrils escaping to brush high cheekbones and wide brown eyes – but her effect on him now was like a long, oily saxophone note that started somewhere in that lizard part of the brain where the libido resides and resonated down his body to the tendons in his groin and back into his stomach to form a knot that nearly doubled him over.

"You want her?" The question came from beside him, a man's voice that startled him a bit, but not enough for him to tear his eyes from the girl.

The question came again. "You want her?"

Already off balance, Sam turned toward the voice, then stepped back in surprise. A young Indian man dressed in black buckskins fringed with red feathers sat on the sidewalk by the office door. While Sam tried to regain mental ground, the Indian dazzled a grin and pulled a long dagger from his belt.

"If you want her, go get her," he said. Then he flipped the dagger across the sidewalk into the front tire of the girl's car. There was a thud and a high squealing hiss as the air escaped the tire.

"What was that?" the girl said. She slammed the hatchback and moved to the front of the car.

Sam, in a panic, looked for the Indian, who had disappeared, and then for the knife, which had vanished as well. He turned and looked through the glass door into his outer office, but the Indian wasn't there either.

"I can't believe I manifested this," the girl said, staring at the flattened tire. "I've done it again. I've manifested failure."

Sam's confusion blossomed. "What
are
you talking about?"

The girl turned and looked at him for the first time, studied him for a second, then said, "Every time I get a job I manifest some kind of tragedy that ruins my chances of keeping it."

"But it's just a flat tire. You can't manifest a flat tire. I saw the guy that did this. It was…" Sam stopped himself. The Indian in black had triggered his fears of being found out, of going to prison. He didn't want to relive the shock. "It was probably some glass you picked up. You can't avoid that sort of thing."

"Why would I manifest glass in my tire?" The question was in earnest; she searched Sam's face for an answer. If he had one, he lost it in her eyes. He couldn't get a grip on how to react to any of this.

He said, "The Indian -"

"Do you have a phone?" she interrupted. "I have to call work and tell them I'll be late. I don't have a spare."

"I can give you a ride," Sam said, feeling stupidly proud of himself for being able to speak at all. "I was just leaving for an appointment. My car's around the corner."

"Would you do that? I have to go all the way to upper State Street."

Sam looked at his watch, out of habit only; he'd have driven her to Alaska if she had asked. "No problem," he said. "Follow me."

The girl grabbed a bundle of clothes from the Datsun and Sam led her around the corner to his Mercedes. He opened the door for her and tried not to watch her get in. Whenever he looked at her his mind went blank and he had to thrash around looking for what to do next. As he got in the car he caught a glimpse of her brown legs against the black leather seat and forgot for a moment where the ignition slot was. He stared at the dashboard and tried to calm himself, even as he was thinking,
This is an accident waiting to happen.

The girl said, "Do you think that the Germans make such good cars to atone for the Holocaust?"

"What?" He started to look at her, but instead turned his attention to the road. "No, I don't think so. Why do you ask?"

"It doesn't matter, I guess. I just thought it might bother them. I have a leather jacket that I can't wear anymore because when I have it on I have to drive miles out of my way to avoid going by cow pastures. Not that the cows would want it back – zippers are hard for them – but they have such beautiful eyes, it makes me feel bad. These seats are leather, aren't they?"

"Vinyl," Sam said. "A new kind of vinyl." He could smell her scent, a mix of jasmine and citrus, and it was making driving as difficult as following her conversation. He turned the air-conditioning on full and concentrated on timing the lights.

"I wish I had calf eyes – those long lashes." She pulled down the visor and looked in the vanity mirror, then bent over until her head was almost at the steering wheel and looked at Sam. He glanced at her and felt his breath catch in his throat as she smiled.

She said, "You have golden eyes. That's unusual for someone with such dark skin. Are you an Arab?"

"No, I'm… I don't know. I'm a mongrel, I guess."

"I never met a Mongrel before. I hear they were great horsemen, though. My mother used to read me mat poem: 'In Xanadu did Kublai Khan a stately pleasure dome decree…' I don't remember the rest. Someone told me that the Mongrels were like the bikers of their time."

"Who told you that?"

"This person who's a biker."

"Person?" Sam knew there was some reality to grab on to somewhere, a position from which he could regain control, if only he could get a straight answer.

"Do you know where the Tangerine Tree Cafe is on upper State? That's where I work."

"Just tell me a block or so before we get to it."

Even after twenty years Sam found it impossible to distinguish one area of Santa Barbara from another. Everything was the same: white stucco with red tile roofs. The city had been partially destroyed by an earthquake in 1925, and since then the city planners had required all commercial buildings to be built in the Spanish-Moorish style – they even dictated the shade of white that buildings were painted. The result was a beautifully consistent city with almost no distinctive landmarks. Sam usually spotted his destination just as he passed it.

"That was it back there," the girl said.

Sam pulled the car to the curb. "I'll go around the block."

She opened the car door. "That's okay, I can jump out here."

"No! I don't mind, really." He didn't want her to go. Not yet. But she was out of the car in an instant. She bent back in and offered her hand to shake.

"Thanks a lot. I work until four. I'll need a ride back to my car. See ya." And she was gone, leaving Sam with his hand still extended and the image of her cleavage burned onto his retinas.

He sat for a moment, trying to catch his breath, feeling disoriented, grateful, and a little relieved, as if he had looked up just in time to slam on the brakes and avoid a collision. He took his cigarettes from his jacket and shook one out of the pack, but when he reached for the lighter he noticed the bundle of clothes still lying on the seat. He grabbed the clothes, got out of the car, and headed down the street to the cafe.

The doors to the cafe were the big, heavy, hand-carved, pseudo-Spanish iron-banded variety common to almost all Santa Barbara restaurants, but once through them the decor was strictly Fifties Diner. Sam approached a gray-haired woman in a waitress uniform who was manning the cash register at the head of the long counter. He didn't see the girl.

"Excuse me," he said. "The girl that just came in here – the blonde – she left these in my car."

The woman looked him up and down and seemed surprised at his appearance. "Calliope?" she said, incredulously. Sam checked his tie for spots, his fly for altitude.

"I don't know her name. I just gave her a ride to work. She had a flat tire."

"Oh." The woman seemed relieved. "You didn't look like her type. She went to the back to change. I guess she won't get far without these." The woman took the clothes from him. "Did you want to speak to her?" she asked.

"No, I guess not. I guess I'll let her get to work."

"It's no problem, that other guy is waiting for her too." The woman nodded down the counter. Sam followed her gaze to where the Indian was sitting, smoking a cigarette and blowing the smoke in four directions with each drag. He looked up at Sam and grinned. Sam backed away from the counter and through the doors, tripping on the step down to the sidewalk, almost falling, but catching himself on the wrought-iron railing.

He leaned on the railing feeling as if he had just taken a hard shot to the jaw. He shook his head and tried to find some sort of order to what was happening. It could be some kind of setup; the girl and the Indian in it together. But how could they know who he was? How did the Indian get to the cafe so fast? And if it was blackmail, if they knew about the killing, then why be so sneaky about it?

As he climbed back into the Mercedes he tried to shake off the feeling of foreboding that was creeping over him like a night fog. He'd just met the most beautiful woman he had ever seen and shortly he would see her again. He had come to her rescue; what better first impression? Even if he hadn't planned it. The Indian was a coincidence. Life was good, right?

He started the car and put it into gear only to realize that he couldn't remember where he was going. There had been an appointment when he left the office. He drove several blocks trying to remember the appointment and who he was going to be when he got there. Finally he gave up and pressed the autodialer on his cellular phone. As the phone beeped through the numbers to his office it hit him: the source of his discomfort. The Indian had had golden eyes.

In the time it took for his secretary to answer, twenty years of his life, of denial and deception, was pulled away in a stinging black undertow, leaving him feeling helpless and afraid.

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