Dances With Coyotes

No matter how good kissing Aaron Morris had felt, his faithful coyote sidekick was too high-maintenance to justify the risk….

Fantastic Companions

ed. by Julie Czerneda
Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2005

“The thing I liked best…was the skillful way Native American legend was woven together with modern life…. [T]his heartwarming story of affection and belonging is well worth reading more than once.”

Tangent Online

 Read an Excerpt….

“This was a gathering place even before the white man came,” Aaron said quietly, leaning lightly against the little wall. “The river people called it Wah-gwin-gwin–place of rushing water.”

“It’s–extraordinary.” There should have been a better word, but my senses were too highly wound for me to come up with it. The wave-cooled breeze tickled mischievously below my hemline, which ran from several inches below one knee to several inches above the other–but at the same time, the air between me and Aaron pulsed with magnetic intensity. My subconscious had just time to whisper like calls to like before the attraction drew us together, my lips meeting his as his arms encircled my shoulders, tentatively at first but then with careful firmness.

All too soon, lack of oxygen–and practice–forced us to break the kiss. “I think,” Aaron said in a dazed tone, “that I’ve been very, very lucky.”

“That makes two of us,” I replied, only slightly less muzzily.

“But it is not luck,” said a third voice, rumbling out of the darkness, “if it results from wisdom and good judgment rather than from pure chance.” We both whirled, detaching ourselves from each other’s arms, as a coyote nearly the size of a Volkswagen Beetle trotted noiselessly out of the trees, its tail flicking back and forth while moonlight shimmered against its silver-gray fur.

Aaron was first to recover his wits. “Koyoda Speelyi!”

“At your service,” replied the giant talking coyote, nodding at both of us in turn, “and pleased to be so. You have done very well.”

My eyes–all I could seem to move reliably just then–flicked from the coyote to Aaron and back again. “Wait a second,” I said, my voice gaining strength word by word. “You called it–him–Koyoda something-or-other. Who is he, and what’s going on here?”

Koyoda Speelyi,” said Aaron, his voice a tangle of emotions I couldn’t decipher. “Most stories now told or written down call him only Coyote or Trickster, but the oldest tales of the Klickitat–my people–name him truly. He is the voice and the will of Sahale Tyee, the Great Spirit, in the world below.”