El Coyote del Rastro de Mulholland (The Coyote of Mulholland Trail)
By Rodger Jacobs
I’ll tell you something that’ll turn your head around. There are spirits of long-dead Chumash Indians all over the hills here. We see them quite often. They love to run and they’re very playful. One of them even helped me catch a rabbit once, which is what I wanted to tell you, about chasing the rabbit and biting that pup.
It had been a long day and I hadn’t had a thing to put in my stomach when I came across this rabbit. Plump and juicy, a lot of meat before you get to the bone. Just the way I like my rabbit. Trouble is all of us wanted this rabbit but she’d managed to outrun us every time. Tricky one and fast but I respect that.
She was resting on her thick hindquarters in a clump of dry brown manzanita when I caught her scent. I crouched down nice and low, considered the strategies available to me and, wouldn’t you know it, this bug gust of wind suddenly comes whipping through the canyon. That gets her little nose in the air and she gets a whiff of me and off she goes.
It was all rough and tumble down the hill. My chest was thumping so hard it ached. Something with a prickly stem stuck in my side and I let out a little yelp, which made the rabbit run even faster as she probably thought it was some kind of victory cry or something like that on my part. I’ve never seen a fat rabbit run that fast. She’ll become a legend around these parts, I can promise you that. Long after you and I are gone they’ll be telling tales about that one when the moon is full and the nights are long and mournful.
The trail forked but the rabbit strayed from the trail and headed straight for a clearing ahead. A human den. I’m tired of pondering why humans build their big dens so close to where we live and eat. Do it they do, I always say, no sense in wondering why. If I had to ponder why humans do half the things they do I’d never get any hunting accomplished.
I didn’t notice that I had hit my head on a rock outcropping until there was blood trickling into one of my eyes. But I kept going on. Nothing was going to keep me from that warm, fresh meat.
The rabbit scrambled across the lawn grass of the human den and found a trash can to hide behind. And standing next to the can is the meanest-looking yellow-haired human pup I’ve ever seen. If I had a pup like that one I would’ve eaten him at birth.
I think the rabbit collapsed – wouldn’t surprise me as fast as he was fleeing – because the human pup had a stick in his hand and he started poking it at the rabbit. The human pup didn’t see me so I hunkered down beneath a scruffy olive tree and quietly observed. There was a pain like fire in my lungs from the hard downhill chase but I kept myself from panting too loudly by meditating on the rabbit at rest and savoring the moment when the stupid human pup would go about its business and leave me to my supper.
What I saw next, I hate to admit, sent a chill of pity through my spine. Not only was the rabbit’s leg broke but a sharp edge of bone was poking through the skin, leaving the fur on her hindquarters matted with blood. Her breathing was fast and shallow. She was scared. And she had every reason to be.
The human pup took that stick he was holding and begin scraping the tip of it against a hard rock to sharpen it, to create an impaling device. You should have seen the way the human pup’s lips curled up over his teeth as he leaned over the helpless rabbit and began to poke it anew, prodding and sticking at the rabbit’s sore spot where the bone poked through.
Well, what you have done under those circumstances? I forgot my own pain and launched myself in the air with a growl that turned the human pup’s eyes into wide, terrified shapes. I leaped in, my teeth flashing, then leaped back out and stood my ground by the olive tree. I had taken a chunk out of the yellow-haired pup’s arm and I can honestly tell you it was one of the worst tasting things I’ve ever had. I spit it out.
After a strange delay where everything fell silent the pup suddenly let out a shriek and tears began running everywhere. He dropped the stick and ran back toward the human den, where no doubt more humans would be and pretty soon they’d be up here in the hills looking for me. They’d make a big deal about it. They always do.
I tossed a gaze at the rabbit and immediately lost my appetite. Don’t ask why, I just did. That’s when I ran back here, to tell you what happened down there in the human den. You’re new around here so you’ll do well to heed my advice when I tell you to find new hunting grounds for awhile. The humans can get very aggressive when you hurt one of theirs and they always have an unfair advantage with guns and steel traps that’ll tear your leg from the bone.
So follow your nose away from these hills for awhile. If you get lost, look for one of the Chumash spirits. They are always glad to help our kind against the human kind.
© 2004, Rodger Jacobs
All Rights Reserved