On the porch.  With a drink and an Ybor City cigar.

You listen to me, now, you’ll be fine, just fine.  Listen here.

I know about him.  He come from out west, California.  Gonna make it.  Big time.  Could write.  Wrote all kinds of stories.  Sure was gonna make it.  

Things don’t always work the way we think they gonna work.  Things change, some for better.  Not always.

Now he live out what we used to call Osgood Point.  Call it Clam Bayou now.  

Like I say, things change.  

Folks’ll laugh when I tell ‘em that.  They say, who can live out that-a-way, ‘mongst the snakes an’ fire ants an’ spiders an’ fruit rats an’ Lord know what else.  He can.  He do.  Say it ain’t that big a place, an’ that’s true.  He can hide.  Go on out there, see yourself.  Get on your canoe.  Get on that brackish water, you tell me you can see ten feet past the tree line.

He’s there.  Somewhere.  Waiting.

‘Course he moves around at night.  That’s when he… well, does what it is he do.  Plenty of places to move at night in this place.  Slide through that water, not make a noise.   

More back alleys in this town we know what to do with.  He’ll scamper down one of those.  Jump a eight foot fence like nothin’.  Skip across a road faster than you can blink.

They say it’s coyotes eat those small dogs or your ol’ housecat that got out.  

Coyotes ain’t been down these parts in years an’ years, friend.  No, sir.  

Like I say, I know some about him, but it aint’ right to use his name, who… what he is now.  So I jus’ call him Coyote.  No kinda name for a man, but I’d be lyin’ if I didn’t say it only seem proper.

‘Course, what happened to him in L.A., shouldn’t happen to no man.

A dark room in a dark house near Agoura Hills, off the Mulholland Highway.     

Two figures in the doorway, a broken figure behind them.  Smokey voices.

Throw him in the room with the others.  Shouldn’t take long.  He looks hungry.

The front porch.  The drink.  The burning cigar.

What they did to him was only the start.  It was what he had to do to get out made him different.  

He ain’t like us.  

What they say… irregular.

A cold shudder on a warm night.  Silence.

How he got from there to here is a story for another time.

Now he he keeps to himself, mostly.  Gets cold, he finds somewhere warm.  Gets hungry, he finds some food.  

See somethin’ he don’t like, though, well.  He gonna get something done about it.  Had this boy up the north part of town, speeding around, running drugs.  Damn near killled a little boy, left him crippled.  Police figure he skipped town, couldn’t find nothin’ but his car.  Call it a case of missing persons.

Ol’ boy older’n me down that apartment complex, hurt those little children?  Didn’t read about no police arrestin’ him, did you?  He’s what they call a ‘missing persons’, too.  Same with that ‘missing person’ lady who hit those two college lovebirds with her car, drove off.    
I expect someday they dredge up some old bones down there in the bayou.  But it’ll be long after we’re all passed.     

‘Course, for most folk, it’s all jus’ talk.

You all enjoy our fair little city.  You be safe.  You be good.  You do that.  You do right, an’ if you hear something rustle in the trees, well…


…least you don’t have to worry about no coyotes.

A car, nice.  Late, the smell of liquor, Marlboros, and awkwardness.      
Should I apologize again?

“I’m sorry, I am.  It’s just that I’m not feeling very good, and I really have a long week.”  

I’m not that sorry.  This guy is a douche and when I get to Kelly’s apartment, I’m going to call Abigail and ask her what the fuck is the deal with setting me up with this guy.  

I liked the car at least.  Mercedes, very nice.  Sporty.  But the minute I shook his hand I could smell the smoke.  I even asked him if he smoked in the email the other day, and he was, like, yeah, but only when I party.  I didn’t think this was a party.  I thought it was a blind date.  

Dinner was good, Italian at Pia’s.  He was pissed we didn’t go to La Fogata, but I really like Pia’s, and goddamit, he said I could choose anything.  

Actually, I think he was pissed about coming down from Old Northeast and not dragging me back that way, at least to downtown St. Pete.  I don’t care.  

No response.  Now he’s not even looking at me anymore.  We are in front of Kelly’s apartment, under the tree that hangs down, dark, in the corner of the lot.  I wasn’t keen on him picking me up in front of my house — just didn’t feel comfortable with him knowing exactly where I live, though I guess it wouldn’t have been too hard to figure out.  Besides, I want to dish with Kelly on how it went.  She practically insisted on it.  At least there’ll be plenty of material.

Really, I don’t feel very good.  In fact, I feel pretty sick.  

Wait… something is not right.  

My arms aren’t moving though I’m trying to reach for the door handle.  Shit.  

His look.  It’s off.  He’s saying something, but I don’t hear it.  Just ringing in my ears.  What does he think he’s doing?  He’s leaning over the seat, over the shifter.  I can feel his hot breath, a shitty combination of lasagna and cigarettes and too much wine.  He’s got his arm on my throat.  

Still, the only thing scaring me more than being crushed into my seat is the dark, heavy shadow I see pouring through his window.  Looks like a coyote.

© 2013 by Benjamin J. Kirby
All rights reserved.

Originally published at terribleminds for a flash fiction challenge.