Passing Through

The bullet holes in her pack and the shoulder of her jacket told a story I didn’t want to know. Her being so hungry, ravenous you could say, and having dirty hands and matted
down hair you could see she’d been living rough. Had more hair about the face than most women, starting out light on her cheeks and getting redder as it went back. Bright black eyes, not like a regular person. Now you could ask about a tail and find out just how sharp that knife on her belt was. Find out how quick she was too. Damned quick I’d say, from the look of her. With troubles up north some people, especially people who were part something else were making their way south. Keeping to themselves. Being real quiet about it. I’d done that trip a couple or more years back, run across a few other folks who had too. For now, I’ll just buy her two more burgers with fries and be listening when fox-girl wants to talk.

She liked it when I called her Coyote, figured she was from someplace they still told
the Tricksters old stories. She was from no-place on the north west side of nothing, way up in Quebec. She said she hoped her two moms wouldn’t be worried. I thought she meant one thing, but then knew she was meaning was her human mom and her birth mom. There aren’t a lot of people up there. Two dozen trailers maybe, up on a big lake with nothing but forest for miles and miles. Some curious youngsters come out of the woods, and other kids get curious and want to go in. People take in each others children, their kid’s friends. Thats how bonds were made and families grew. I remember it too. Native kids, Quebecois, and forest kids, running like a little tribe. More winters you spend in the trailer more human your ways. Start speaking French and wearing clothes sometimes. Seeing if you liked the people part. Seeing how much you might miss the other.

Coyote was down to a few fries and a glass of ice when she asked if I knew a place she could stay. Better she asked than I offered. “Sure”, I said. “Sure maybe. Most likely you can stay with us awhile. I’ll check with my wife but most likely it’s okay.” Coyote smiled natural now, not afraid to show her teeth. My wife, Claire, got native blood, the daughter of a medicine man, so she recognized me right away when we meet. It was something else, the magic we had back then. Together the two of us pulling from both the earth and sky. She thought it was funny when I asked her to marry me. Man nor boy on that whole damned island was brave enough (or foolish enough) to ask her. We told her folks, and funny thing, they saw it as us being married was about the old ways. Spirit Worlds of man and nature combined. I know Claire misses them. I miss them too, and that way of life.

More than likely the girl staying on with us will be alright, but I’m not fool enough to be bringing home a bottomless pit of a dirty she-fox kid without asking. Couple of months maybe me and Claire be moving on anyway. Maybe out east to the coast, look for a job on a fishing boat. Be spring then and I’ll be going white to brown like I do every year. Leave before anybody starts asking questions. Your hair, your beard, they can go all white and people just think you’re getting old. It don’t work the other way. People start to ask. Yeah, dump the job, screw the boss, screw the rent too and leave. Won’t be first time I’ve been called a weasel.

Doug Mathewson