The Coyote and Changeling CongregationsAn enchantress in fine-spun webs of paradise, she pressed the wheel on the Bic lighter, “Burn witch burn!” she whispered. The piles of sticks and leaves smoldered for a moment before the first tongues of flame appeared. “Burn by the bond of blood and sky, burn!” she chanted as she fingered the inverted pentacle hanging around her slender neck.
***The yellow streak had flashed near the outer edge of the Sorghum field, a brief flash of eyes and yellow fur. “Damn Coyote!” the reverend had cursed.
The shadows outside the tiny two bedroom cottage were the depth of ebony glass and indigo stain. The light from the front porch cast a delirious silhouette against the edge of the wavering stalks of Sorghum. The reverend grabbed a 22. Cal rifle from its perch near the fireplace as he moved toward the front door. “Damn coyote!” he said again.
The reverend crossed himself and went out onto the wood slated path leading to the edge of the yard. Lifting his arms he took aim at the silhouette of what he believed to be a coyote. The rifle fired a sharp popping report as fire lit the end of the barrel. “Got Ya!” he said excitedly.
***The woman spoke, “For crimes against the tribe, burn witch burn, for crimes against the… “ the scarlet haired beauty intoned, “ …tribe, burn witch burn, like the chafe in the field burn for your crime!” the reverend fought his bonds, tethered in tight knots to the stake. He watched as the flames overpowered the pile of kindling, as the heat reddened his cheeks.
***The coyote lay dead near the edge of the field , “Got ya!” he said again as he walked over to the dead animal. A rush of summer wind excited the reverends thinning hair and the dominion of the Sorghum in waves of perfumed supplication. The coyote lay still, restrained in death by the 22. Slug.
The reverend wrinkled his brow and closed his fist in reflexive oneness with the passions of understood boundaries and the caste of the farmer.
***The fire advanced in slow defeating waves of heat. “Burn witch, burn!” the woman sang, “For yer crimes against god and man!” the small crowd led by the insane enthusiasm of the woman moved in slow troding circles around the reverend , “Burn!” they chanted. The reverend thought About the calm balance between the lives of the entitled favor and those who found the will to move forward. He had inspired congregations and the seed of a generation with his sermons. “By the light of distant survival, give me the strength lord!” he whispered to himself.
***The coyote had changed, it had gone from yellow cur, fur and fangs to the limp figure of a young boy. “By god!” he gasped, “How?” He would have sworn the shape was a coyote. He picked the boy up, the spring of youth, and carried him to the tall sway of an ancient oak. Placing the boy gently on the cool earth he prayed.
***He prayed as the flames neared his feet and as the small crowd began to howl in wild screeches and whooping barks, as they grew fangs and fur, padding in concentric loping circles around the flames. He prayed for rescue.
***They had appeared from the vague shadows of the sorghum field and they had bound him. “Witch,” they had yelled “Witch!” as they lead him away to the clearing in the neighboring wood. “Burn him,” the woman had screamed to the others, “Burn him!”
They continued to howl, half coyote half human, nostrils flared in anger. The reverend inhaled a lungful of smoke and coughed. “Please god….” he moaned in desperation. The way of angels and monsters permeated the air as they mourned the child with the life of the man and the pinnacle of an angry tribe. They danced and cursed the man, finally returning to the wilds of their secret existence.
The reverend felt the first tongues of flame against his patent leather soles. “Save me… “ he whispered to the empty clearing and the darkness of a shadowy horizon. ‘Save me!” The sky rumbled and in an instant the source of life, life for the seed, the blossom of a sated harvest rained down smothering the flames and drenching the dry earth with mercy.
The reverend was rescued from his perch on the stake the following day by local police. They questioned the reverend and in the end he lied, owing the creatures the life of a young boy.