The Bewildered Coyote

by Ruth Z Deming


Once all of America was wilderness land. Now we are encroaching upon the land of the wolves, the deer, the coyote and other wild animals.


In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, license plates are only required on the rear of the vehicle. A metallic grey Nissan traveled quickly down Old York Road toward the Upper Moreland Township Library. The blue bag in the back seat held a dozen books to return: Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, short stories by Sean O’Faolain, Ulysses by James Joyce, Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson and a few Atlantics that were being snuck through the metal drop-box as the owner could not bear throwing out perfectly good magazines.

Let the library decide what to do with them. Coyotes, Connie Greenbaum had read, were losing their land, as were the deer, the beaver, the hedgehogs. Humankind were taking over. Neighbors had reported collisions on the street with deer who stood befuddled – antlers twisting this way and that – as they crashed into automobiles and trucks.

“What are they,” they must have thought. And, of course, these animals have brains and do indeed think. But not like we do.

Plop, plop, plop, went the books and magazines into the book drop. Clutching her car keys, Connie entered the library – in earlier days, a turnstile barred the way – but now she could walk straight inside and search for the books she had reserved. They were up front, ensconced with a rubber band, and she carried them with one muscled arm to the front desk. Footprints, yellow, directed the patrons where to stand in line so that no dread diseases would be transmitted. Masks were not required.

“Can’t wait,” she thought, to get home and start reading. At her age, she was semi-retired from working with the elderly. She would sit outside on her covered porch and begin with “What every woman should know about the Stock Market.” It was a lark, of course, as Mrs. Dalloway might have said, and she knew she would never be rich enough to donate to her favorite charities – The Michael J. Fox Parkinson’s Foundation, The Lupus Foundation – a friend’s mother died of this auto-immune disease, and of course The Multiple Myeloma Society. A beloved friend just died in hospice from this wasting disease.

Good God! What was that animal quaking and trembling as Connie hurried home. She tapped on her brakes to alert cars behind her that an animal – a coyote – was isolated across the street from a Hair Cuttery. If only she could pop it inside her car. That would never work. He would tear her piece by piece in his hysteria to escape.

They were magnificent animals, canines, from the wolf family, but the wolves hunt in packs. Coyotes are solitary. When she arrived home to her yellow rancher, she ran inside and dialed 911. “What is your emergency?” asked the dispatcher. “Never mind,” she said. “I dialed the wrong number.”

Connie clutched her hands together. Make it back to your forest home, little coyote. Make it back home.

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