“I don’t know how Stephen King does it,” I said, looking up from my notebook.

“Does what?” Coyote asked. He was mixing a drink. I’m not sure what was in it but the bottle he was using had a faint green tinge. At least from where I was sitting.

“Keep writing all those scary stories that everybody loves so much,” I said, eyeing the bottle.

“Well, I didn’t think much of Cujo,” he said, looking through the liquor cabinet for something else.

“Oh?” I wondered why there was only one glass.

“Lacked subtlety,” he said, opening the fridge. “Do we have any limes?” 

“In the fruit drawer,” I answered. “Where they always are.”

“Mmm,” he said. “So what are you curious about – the fact that he keeps coming up with new stories?” He pulled a knife from the block.

“No,” I said, wondering why he needed such a big knife. “No, it’s that they are all scary. Really scary, by all accounts.”

“‘By all accounts’? Haven’t you read them?” He sliced the lime with one stroke.

“No,” I said. “Are you making that for yourself?”

“I thought you might like it,” he said.

“Well, I might, if I only knew what was in it.” Maybe I hadn’t been reading Stephen King but I knew a plot line when I saw one.

“I’m just playing,” he said. “With flavors. So if you haven’t read any of his books, what are you curious about? Seems like scary stories are just good stories with a particular twist. No reason he shouldn’t be able to turn them out as quickly as any popular novelist.”

“It’s not that,” I said. I couldn’t quite see what he was putting into the shaker. His shoulder blocked my view.

“Well, what then?”

“It’s that he spends so much time with horror. Don’t you think that would make him kind of … twisted? Or at least mildly weird?”

Coyote was pouring in some ice.

“Who says he’s not?” He raised his voice a little over the ice sound.

“Well, that’s just it,” I said. “That’s why I can’t seem to make my story scary. I’m afraid if I do, I mean really do a good job of it, I’ll get mildly weird, too.”

“And your point would be …?” He was pouring his concoction into a glass.

“What if I got weird – for the sake of my story, of course – and couldn’t come back?”

“Well, of course you could come back.” He put away his bottles.

“But I’m thinking,” I couldn’t take my eyes off the glass, glowing a little on the counter, “this is why people like to read scary stories. They can go into that strange space but they know they will come out of it by page 287. But I’m the author. I might just write my way in and forget how to write my way out.”

Coyote looked sympathetic. He picked up the glass and brought it over to me.

“Here,” he said. “Try this.”