The Coyote continues…
I will state once again for the record: this is a work of fiction. The story may be “true” but the narrator is not a real person….
Three days after the coyotes appeared in the pre-dawn forest, another coyote appears.. this time as my morning coffee card. It is the 16th of December and I am planning to drive into town to get supplies for the Winter Solstice. I have gone almost six weeks now without my favorite indulgences; I want them to be on hand when the moment comes. I don’t have to pick up weed because it is going to be delivered here tomorrow; but I have to get coffee, alcohol and ice cream… I also have to go to the bank.
“Are you sure you want to go?” questions Ms.B.? “I have to go into town tomorrow anyway. I could just do your errands then.” She is aware of the coyote’s appearance as my morning card and she fully understands the implications.
“I refuse to let a card game change my behavior,” I answer, “I’m not afraid of any coyote. I’m going to town.”
It’s only seven or eight miles to town. But it is seven or eight miles over a small mountain and the temperature is hovering around 20 degrees (-3 C.). I’m not realistically going to bike it. I will take Ms. B.’s car. We live together now in Paradise. Moved in last August. Before here, we lived in a small apartment in town. Now we have 20 acres of pathways through a forest, a small pond and a beautiful house perched on a hillside overlooking a valley. Our residency here is temporary but it is a temporary whole year. I am creating a small waterfall into the pond to pay the rent while the homeowners live in their California home for a year. It’s a very good deal for all the interested parties.
The only problem with living out here in Paradise is that I have been driving a lot. And that is kind of a big problem. I still don’t technically own a motor vehicle but I use Ms. B.’s car so much that I might as well. That fact torments me somewhat psychologically. I really don’t like driving motor vehicles for so many reasons… I know that bicycle riding over the mountain all the time is physically difficult and perhaps not the safest of journeys. But it is certainly not impossible. For many years I rode over that same damn mountain on my way to work every single day. I’m older now but I certainly can do it. But I choose not to do it. I make excuses, tell myself stories, invent rationales. I want to do it. But I don’t. I have firmly resolved to return to bike riding next Spring. No more will I just use Ms.B.’s car all the time. A man of principle must stick to his principles. But not yet. It’s only 20 degrees out there. So I will take her car today. Even though I got the coyote with my morning coffee.
Of course the coyote is not likely to pull the same trick twice. He showed up in the form of an authoritarian little police man harassing me about my unlicensed status the first time. But he might also appear in the form of a lawyer, or a business executive, or a con man, or a even a broken down machine. My story about the cop is just a symbolic representation of the coyote concept. The real world played a trick upon my carefully created illusion. It won’t play the same trick today but no doubt my illusions are in for some shattering…
As I drive into town, my brain is thinking about all this stuff. My paranoid self double checks the inspection sticker and all the lights before I drive away. Everything is fine. Nothing to worry about. If I just drive safely and legally they will never have a reason to pull me over. Of course I see cops at every intersection. I can hear the coyote laughing in the background of my consciousness. There is nothing to worry about. Everything is fine. It’s just a silly card game. The coyote is not real. I will not be pulled over…
But really, everything is not fine. That’s the whole point. I shouldn’t be driving. I should be riding my bicycle. I love riding my bicycle. I really don’t like driving automobiles. I don’t like using fossil fuels. It feels somehow wrong. The pollution, the isolation from nature and the imposition on nature. I’d rather be riding my bicycle even though it’s only twenty degrees… Yeah right. Who are you kidding? You are just afraid of the cops because you got the coyote. Enough of your purity with the fossil fuels. It’s 20 damn degrees out there. Of course you don’t want to be on your bike in this shit. You have to learn to be a realist… Look, there’s another cop. But no, he’s not going to pull you over…. If I am going to be a realist and drive automobiles, shouldn’t I be a realist and get a proper driver’s license? But that is the whole point. It’s the principle of the thing. You don’t want to drive. You want to bike. You can’t let the government decide for you…. By choosing to not have a license, you are making a statement of will that you are a cyclist and not a motorist…. Even if you don’t live up to that statement on a day to day basis at least you have the proper paperwork of a non-driver…. Damn it. Next time I’m definitely taking my bike.
I make it safely into town and I don’t get pulled over. I go to the bank and the grocery store. I buy myself some coffee and ice cream. I can hardly wait to indulge… But no, a few more days. The Winter Solstice this year is at 11:21 am on Friday, December 21. That is the moment when I will re-embrace my indulgences again. Coffee and Ice cream…. Yum yum yum. I don’t even realize how much I really enjoy them until I give them up for six weeks each year. My friend, “the Saint of Nick”, says my annual cleansing ritual is just re-constituted Catholicism and there might be just a wee bit of truth in such an assessment. I may have abandon my childhood religion intellectually, but some of its power still grips me subconsciously. My cleanse is like an alternative Lent. It wasn’t intended that way. It was intended to help with Winter depression and it really has helped with that. But after so many years of practice, I can certainly see the spiritual side to it all. Most religions have some sort of fasting ritual as part of their yearly cycle of events. There is a reason why so many millions of people have gone along with such rituals for so many thousands of years. It is good for your soul to exercise your will. To give up something you want is to actively reject the “selfish instinct.”
But damn… I can smell the coffee through the package… Mmmmmm. Wait… Five more days. After the grocery store, I go to the liquor store. Alcohol is part of my cleanse too, but it is not really much of a big deal because I hardly drink any alcohol anymore. Many many moons ago, when I prowled the bars after dark, whiskey and beer made regular appearances in my bloodstream. But I lost too many beautiful mornings to hangovers and grew weary of the noticeable harmful side-effects so I more or less stopped drinking. I will still have an occasional social glass of wine or beer or even a whiskey, but I would never drink on my own to “enjoy some alcohol.” I’d rather smoke weed and drink coffee. Nevertheless, alcohol is still included in my annual cleanse because it was such a big indulgence in my past.
For my Winter Solstice moment, I want to get some Bailey’s to add to my coffee. Actually, the Irish Cream will contain sugar as well as alcohol and thus satisfy two of the four indulgences all by itself. The liquor store, however, is insane. Apparently, the approaching Consumer Capitalist Holiday of Christmas is driving everyone to drink. Holy shit! Howling coyotes! The place is a madhouse. I consider leaving and coming back another time. But the Solstice is almost here and later in the week will be even closer to Christmas. If I’m gonna get booze for my celebration, I have to do it now. I wade through the crowds to find the shelf with the Irish Cream. There is Bailey’s and the other “Irish Cream”. Ingredients look the same. Bailey’s is twice the price. What is the secret? Do I want high quality for my sacred ritual? Is it all just marketing? Why pay extra for good advertising? I don’t know… I grab the cheap stuff and stand in line…
The line goes on forever. The wait takes a long time. It feels like a traffic jam… A humanity jam… in a liquor store. How depressing. It seems a symbol of our times. Wall to wall bottles of booze and swarms of people crawling though the aisles with outstretched arms. Am I one of these people? Some of them have full shopping carts and much determination. Some of them look crazed… almost zombie like. But I, too, have a bottle of the precious liquid. And I too am willing to wait patiently in line to pass over pieces of an illusion in exchange for the right to consume it. Is this my coyote moment? The realization is like a punch to the gut…. I am a consumer in a capitalist economy. Aaaaauuuugh! I have a very strong urge to howl and make a run for the exit with my bottle in hand. But then, something very strange happens.
SMASH! It seems as if I see it happen before it happens. The two incidents are not rationally related but they occur simultaneously. I am looking right at a guy standing in line at the register a few places ahead of me. He has a small child in his arms and he is handing over money to the cashier and receiving a bag with three bottles of wine. I am watching him… and inside my mind, I want to howl like a coyote and run for the door… but then, all of a sudden his plastic bag breaks and the three bottles go crashing to the ground. It almost seems to happen in slow motion. Did I somehow cause this to happen? No silly; it was the coyote. I am not the coyote… Or am I?
This, of course, startles me back to reality and I abandon my plan to run for the exit howling. It also delays progress at checkout because they have to clean up the mess and run to fetch the guy three new bottles. But they eventually get it sorted and I am permitted to hand over my own green pieces of paper in exchange for the right to possess and consume the precious liquid I have in my hands. I exit liquor store with a bottle and head back over the mountain towards home. On the return trip, the mountain is steeper. I’m glad to be driving and not biking it now with a bottle in hand…. But still, I don’t want to be a driver. I will absolutely, positively, start biking again next Spring.
Ms. B. and the little one are there to greet me upon my return to Paradise. “Any sign of coyotes?” She asks.
“They messed things up at the liquor store a little but nothing too serious,” I answer, “and I successfully obtained all the necessary treats for Friday’s celebration. We are now fully stocked on coffee, booze and ice cream. If X brings the gold tomorrow like he promised, all will be good to go for the big moment.”
Just as I make this statement, however, I hear the sound of coyotes howling…. It is my cell phone ringing. It is a call from X. He is a friend of mine… sort of… who occasionally promises to get me really good weed. Truthfully, I don’t know him very well. And he is not my regular weed guy. He’s a little weird but he’s always kind and he tells good stories. He seems like an interesting character who I would like to know better. A couple days ago, he called me up. He was very excited to tell me that he was getting a little shipment of Malawi Gold this week and he was going to share some with me. Since Malawi gold happens to be my very favorite kind of marijuana in the whole wide world, I too was rather excited by this news. But I was doubtful. I’ve never seen real Malawi gold in the states. I’ve heard rumors and seen imitators but not the real thing. Believe you me, I spent a month in Malawi, I know the real deal when I see and smell it. My friend X, he promised me, he assured me. He was so certain he was getting the real Malawi Gold that he wanted to bring it to my house and present it himself so that he could see my expression upon beholding it. He was also curious to see our fancy new digs. So I gave him the gps coordinates and he plugged me into his map. He said he would be here Tuesday, which is now tomorrow, in the late afternoon. I was hoping to have some gold in time for my Winter Solstice moment. But now that my phone is ringing, I am doubtful.
“Bad news dude,” he says when I put the phone to my ear.
“No gold, huh,” I say dejectedly.
“Oh no,” he says, “there’s gold all right. And plenty of it. The sweetest, finest, tastiest golden goodness you ever did see, taste, touch, smell or feel. And I will be happy to give you some absolutely gratis… as a token of our friendship now and into the future. But I can’t bring it to your house. My pain killers aren’t working and my back is acting up. I don’t believe I will be getting out of bed for at least several days. I’m definitely not driving seven miles in an automobile. You will have to come by my place if you want to get your gold.”
“Oh….okay..” I say, “I understand, no problem. I will stop by your place sometime this week. So you hurt your back huh, I throw mine out once in a while too. Have you tried a chiropractor?”
“Chiropractors don’t work for me,” he says, “I’ve had eleven surgeries. I’m permanently disabled. Five years ago, I broke my neck and back in three places. My life has been a nightmare of pain ever since. Sometimes it’s okay… almost bearable but sometimes it’s so bad I can’t even get out of bed… Like right now.”
“Oh my god, that’s horrible,” I say. ” I’m so sorry. I didn’t know. How did it happen? Was it an accident of some kind?”
“It was an accident all right,” he says, “I was riding over Franklin mountain on my bicycle when some lady in a minivan swerved on a curve and plowed right into me…. Stop by my place to get the gold and I will tell you the whole crazy story…”
And I could hear the sound of the coyotes howling in the background as X hung up the phone. Owooooooo!
To be continued…