In Gallup, Greed -- The Coyote Chapter
A coyote drifted by the front window, cautious, gray-gold, sniffing the dirt. The college campus surrounding Burro’s apartment lay quiet in the late morning. A gray cloud drifted by in the distance, foreshadowing the monsoon. Burro watched, and the cautious animal raised his eyes towards the cloud, and then turned towards Burro, as if to communicate the coming torrent. A coyote vision, Burro thought, based on intuition, evidence, and the inner workings of coyote genes.
He identified. Burro knew his own visions were part a creation of his genetically corrupted mind, his intuition, and real world evidence. As soon as Alice’s voice came over the phone this morning, Burro had felt a new hallucination wash over him.
“Hey, Burro. Mirage – you know – the woman Momma roomed with in Gallup? She thinks she killed her brother, Lonnie.”
He saw the money first, sprouting like weeds from a kitchen floor.
“They all started this gallery together: Mirage, Lonnie, and some friends. Lonnie gave a party – he did that all the time – with pizza and beer, that sort of thing. Mirage drank too much, blacked out, and apparently passed out in an alley outside Lonnie’s place. When she went back in the house, she found Lonnie dead.”
An open concept kitchen appeared, and the money sprouts grew more quickly, shedding large bills onto the carpet, the sofa, and the countertops. The room oozed money and shame. That’s how the vision felt – like money and shame. Burro steadied himself on his clean kitchen counter, as Mirage continued to explain the crime.
“Lonnie was in bed, Mirage says, stab wounds to his stomach. The police don’t suspect her or anything like that. There’s no weapon. All the gallery people were at the party, some others dropped by, so there’s no reason to think Mirage killed her brother. It’s just the blackout, I guess. It scares her that she might know something and not remember it.”
Brains oozed up out of the center of a large iron frying pan and began to scramble on the stovetop. Burro sensed confusion, damage, a lack of understanding, missing pieces of information – it was hard to express what he felt when he saw the brains oozing and frying in the money filled kitchen and dining area. The floors started to tilt.
“I sense confusion,” Burro spoke tightly into the phone.
“You have a vision?”
“It’s forming now.”
“Okay. That’s good, I think. Mirage wants to hire you and Cinnamon as private investigators to find out if she killed Lonnie. Or who killed Lonnie. Like that.”
“There’s money involved,” Burro edged out the words.
“Yeah. The artists ran a pretty successful gallery.”
Burro held the edge of the counter and, using his foot as a hook, pulled one of the metal chairs over to him and sat down.
“I’ll call Cinnamon.”
“We need to go today, Burro. You two were planning to go to Gallup anyway for another job, and Mirage was Momma’s friend. So it’s a good way to get to know her and find out what she knows about Momma.”
“Today,” Burro repeated faintly.
“Call me and let me know, okay?”
Burro placed his smart phone carefully on the counter. Money poured through the windows of the vision, busting out glass, invading every space, beneath the sofa, under the coffee table -- pushing open cabinet doors, covering every surface. And, still, the brains oozed and fried, overflowing the edge of the pan, as if the money fed the confusion, fed the loss of order and sanity.
Burro breathed, practiced bringing up pleasant memories. He thought of his childhood, reflecting back on the adobe house on the east side of Santa Fe where he grew up. He tried to visualize his mother, peeling green chile at a white porcelain sink. His mother was brown-eyed and slim. Both his parents were brown-eyed, actually, and Burro’s light hair and blue eyes were said to be the legacy of ancient blond ancestors from Europe.
Thinking of his mother at the sink, and his grandfather’s stories of bold blond ancestors, Burro’s breath returned to normal, his blood pressure lowered, and the brains and money slowed, transformed into a still life drawing. Burro picked up the phone to call Cinnamon. As it rang, he noticed the coyote, spooked by a sound, slip quickly into a row of juniper trees, gone in a second, a mirage of orange dust and gray clouds, like a trick of the mind.