Sunday, September 2, 2007

Thirty Five

Amalia, Diana and Macy took lunch to the men and they enjoyed a picnic in the cool of an aspen grove. Coyote ate impatiently, returning his gaze again and again to the irrigation system. It consisted of a series of hollowed-out logs cradled on tripods, sloping from a stream to a holding tank, from which the water could be released into the garden and animal troughs.

"It's an obvious concept," he said. "The only hard part is making the joints tight enough that we don't lose any water. These drip. Not much, but I know we can make it better."

"You'll think of a way," Will said.

"I like the way you redesigned the support over the soft ground near the water source," Miguel added. "You learned a lot from your bridge-building adventure."

"That was fun." His eyes lit up. "Do you need any bridges around here? Macy and I could probably stay a little longer if. . ."

"No, we're okay on bridges," Miguel assured him.

"Build him one, anyway," Macy said. "I don't mind staying longer. I like it here."

But Coyote and Macy had promised Harley they would be back in two weeks, and if they didn't leave soon there would be no time to stop along the way and inquire about railway jobs. Early the next morning Coyote saddled their horses and Will helped him pack Macy's books and the bags of food Amalia had prepared for their journey.

"It shouldn't be hard to get a message to me up here if you move base camp before mid-September," Will reminded him. "If you can get a rider to either Cobre or Jonasville. . ."

"Yeah, I know. The radio operators will take it from there. But don’t worry. You'll have no trouble finding us. We'll be busy this fall."

"Good. It'll make the time until Christmas go by faster."

"Yes, you'll miss her," Coyote said, suddenly walking away. "I'll be back in a minute. Forgot something."

When they were ready to leave, Macy threw her arms around Diana and Amalia by turns, sniffling.

"It's okay," Amalia reassured her. "You can come back any time."

"And you can come with me to get Diana in December if you want," Will offered.

Macy nodded. "I'd like that. Then I can return these books in person."

Coyote remained silent throughout this exchange, but finally he approached Diana to shake her hand. He flinched at her touch, but then smiled in a sad sort of way and hugged her as tightly as he dared. "Thanks for being such a good friend to me and my girl," he whispered. "I'll never forget you."

Diana felt a current of shock run through her. He knew she wasn’t going back. What else did he know? "Please don't tell," she whispered. "I'll come and see you if I can."

Coyote drew back slightly. "That would be weird." He said the words aloud, without thinking. When the others looked at him curiously, he shrugged as if to ask what did they expect, since they all knew he was crazy. He met Diana's eyes briefly, then turned away. "Good-bye, Diana."

After they had ridden down the hill and were lost to sight among the trees, Will turned to her. "What was all that between you and Coyote?"

"Oh, just him being Coyote."

"He's a strange one," Amalia agreed.

1 comment:

Alice Audrey said...

But Will knows there's always a reason behind Coyote's strangeness. I was wondering if he'd give her away.