Coyote Trail

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Chapter 22: What the Coyote Said

As the sun rose higher into the sky and began to bring warmth to the new day, the Coyote Bandits were pushing their horses hard. It was mid-morning when the riders held up at the crest of a sandy rise. Before them the dry, rolling landscape stretched from horizon to horizon.

“We need to hold up for just a little bit an’ let the ponies rest.” Edgar said as he swung down from his saddle. He reached for his canteen, took a long drink and gazed out over the landscape before him.

“Can you see the coyote?” asked Hank, straining his eyes in search of the mysterious creature that had guided them so far. The animal had run inexhaustibly, seeming to glide over the landscape like some ghostly apparition.

“Sometimes you can see him and sometimes you can’t.” Clayton replied. “I suppose it depends on whether he wants to be seen or not.”

Duggan scanned the area again.

“Well, I can’t see him.” He said.

Clay leaned on his saddle-horn.

“Maybe you can’t see him, but he can see you!”

Hank’s face reflected his skepticism.

“What are you talkin’ about?”

“Old man Coyote, he can play tricks on a man because he can see through him!” Clay explained. “He can see what’s in a man’s head and what’s in his heart. He can see some things that even the man himself, can not see.”

Duggan shook his head in disbelief.

“You talk as if that coyote was some kind of supernatural being.”

Clay looked at a loss.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“A ghost, a spirit, a disembodied entity.”

“Call it what you will.” Clay said with a wave of his hand, “I tell you that he can see through you, mister Hank Duggan!”

“Oh really?” Hank replied in a mocking tone. “So you’re saying that the coyote speaks to you and tells you all about me huh?”

Clayton just stared at him and didn’t respond. Sometimes the whites could be so arrogant, thinking they knew so much when in truth, they knew so little.

“Well then, why don’t you tell me something that Mr. Coyote told you?” Duggan challenged. “Let’s see if he knows what he’s talkin’ about.”

Edgar, who had been silent up to then, turned to his brother.

“He doesn’t understand.” he said. “You waste your time.”

Clayton stared off for a moment in thought and there was silence as Hank and Edgar waited for him to say something. Finally, the half-breed turned and looked Duggan straight in the eyes.

“He told me that when you were a young child, you and your father both watched as an eagle landed on the moon!”

Duggan’s eyes widened and his jaw dropped.

The vision came to his mind as if it were recorded on videotape. He recalled the day back in 1969 when he and his father sat together in their living room and watched the first lunar landing on television. He remembered with crystal clarity, the voice of Neil Armstrong as the astronaut announced; ‘Mission Control; the Eagle has landed!’

Clayton gave a knowing glance over at his brother and then turned back to Hank.

“I can see by the look on your face that it is true.” He said.

Hank Duggan was stunned.

The half-breed continued. “Coyote told me that you are a man who has yet to be born. He said your past is in the future and your future is in the past! He said you are from a different world and you know something amigo?” he said with a knowing grin, “I am made to believe that you’re not what you say you are!”

Hank sat dumbfounded in his saddle, not knowing what to say because he couldn’t believe what he was hearing! Could Clayton Big Thunder actually possess some extraordinary psychic ability? How else could he know what he knew? The only person he had shared his secret with had been Ellie.

Ellie!

Suddenly he remembered Ellie and everything else became irrelevant! Duggan snapped right out of his state of bewilderment.

“We can talk about that later.” he said. “Ellie’s in danger an’ we’re just sittin’ here wastin’ time!”

“He’s right.” Edgar replied as he swung back up in his saddle. “You can show off some more later little brother!”

“Hold on a minute.” Clay said as he stood in his stirrups and gazed back in the direction from which they had come.

“What is it?” asked Edgar.

“Somebody’s comin’ our way!” Clay replied. He pointed to a tiny dust cloud far away in the distance. “I’d say there’s maybe four or five riders back there. It could be Ransom.”

Edgar strained his eyes and picked up the cloud of dust. He looked away and then back again. It was still there, still coming on.

“I’d say they’re only a few hours behind us.”

“Are you sure?” Hank asked.

“Just you take our word for it.” replied Clay.

“The longer we set still, the closer whoever it is gets!” Edgar said as he reined his horse around. “Let’s move!”

The three took off at a gallop.

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