);

COYOTES by Dan Crawley

I find myself fading under ballooning khakis, a parachuting buttoned-down shirt. I let myself in Big Sis’s place through an open sliding glass door. Last time, I found a bundle of twenties in a kitchen cabinet drawer, next to the stove. I ripped out most of the blue paper from a pad on the counter, keeping a few twenties on top of the rubber-banded roll. This time, a million paper clips and batteries like polished coins and plastic measuring spoons litter the bottom of the drawer. I could weep four ounces.

Then I hear another’s weeping and I see Big Bro letting himself in the front door, his crying toddler in tow. My nephew is held like a football on his father’s hip, most likely adding to his uproar. Big Bro stares at my damp forehead, chin, and wonders, “How do you have a key?” I tell him I got an extra the same time he did, a lie. He wonders also, “So what are you doing here?” I tell him I’m retrieving money Big Sis owes me, another lie. He tells me, “I brought over this screaming meemie because I’ve got somewhere to go…for…something, something, and Big Sis is babysitting. Where are you, Big Sis?” I tell him she is not home from work yet, and I’ve got somewhere to go with the money owed to me, for something, something. “My somewhere is more important than your somewhere,” he points out. I can’t help but point out Big Bro’s clammy expression, too. So he points out also, “My something, something is more urgent than whatever your something, something is.” I tell him to gaze upon my shrunken sack of skin, trapped at the bottom of a desolate gulch, and beg for a few bucks. Big Bro tells me, “Someone with a high-powered, corner-office set up like you should have a bank vault full of money for your something, something.” I beg for forty bucks, which could work. Then Big Bro remembers, “I left my truck running.” I tell Big Bro I’m incapable of watching his son as he performs a flawless hand-off of the screaming meemie to the futon on his way out. I pace in tight circles. My hair bristles.

My nephew thrashes all over the futon, his yowl a loose fan belt. So I start yowling a pitiful wheeze. Down in a dried-out creek bed, a thicket of cholla cacti hemming me in. I can’t stay on my feet any longer and collapse onto the edge of the futon and curl up. Big Sis won’t even know I’m here. Just a pile of clothes left by her boyfriend. My nephew stands like a boozer and clutches my billowing shirt and yowls into my ear. Next comes the pounding. Both of us go silent. We hear Big Sis’s uproar on the other side of the door, “I don’t know how you coyotes got in, but I’ve called animal control and the cops to get you out.” My nephew growls. Now that I can do.

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