I hadn’t talked to Coyote in a while, not about the blog anyway. He still hung around, looking over my shoulder when I was writing in that annoying way he has and harrumphing occasionally. In a more successful ploy to get my attention, he made me a drink – passionfruit juice mixed with an aromatic and evocative rum he knew I would recognize.
“So what do you think I should do?” I asked. The heat of the day stirred memories. Upstate New York wasn’t Saigon but it was doing its best.
“About what?” Coyote replied, settling into the chair next to me and holding out a bowl of cashews.
“Why can’t you ever just answer a simple question?” I asked irritably. But I took a handful of nuts.
“Because you do better when you answer your own,” he said, undisturbed. “So what’s the problem?”
“This rum isn’t from around here, is it?” I asked, holding the glass up to the softening sunlight.
“Nope,” he said, happily. “Brought it back in my suitcase.”
“Ah,” I said. remembering. We sat in silence. A sparrow headed for the feeder, saw us sitting there and wheeled away.
“So about the blog …” Coyote nudged.
“I used to write about writing and, well, you,” I said lazily.
“I miss that,” he smiled. “I played a starring role.”
“Handsome, too.” The rum was taking effect.
“And …” He was not that easily decoyed.
“I also wrote a ghost story in installments,” I said. “That was fun.”
“For you, maybe,” he said, eyeing me sideways.
“Hey!” I cried. “What was wrong with my ghost story in installments?”
“Too many in-jokes,” he said reaching for more cashews. “Go on, then.”
“Well, then I was going to Viet Nam, and then I was in Viet Nam, and now I am home from Viet Nam and I can’t get over it.”
The rum was making me chatty.
“What do you mean, you can’t get over it?” I didn’t even notice he was still asking all the questions. I leaned forward in my chair, energized.
“I keep thinking, well, that’s it, I had a nice vacation, and that’s what people do – they go on vacation and they get all full of themselves, posting pictures to show they were there, and then they go back to their normal lives, and I keep thinking I will do that, and then …”
“What?” He said, in that luring voice he gets when he thinks I might be close to something.
“Something happens,” I said, following the bait.
“Something?” he said.
“This whole thing with Viet Nam and Americans who grew up in the 60s,” I said, noticing how empty my glass was getting. “It’s not easy.”
“Wouldn’t be worth doing if it was,” Coyote said, taking the hint.
I didn’t move while he went back inside. The sparrow decided it was safe to come in for a snack.
“What do you want to do with the blog?” Coyote asked, reemerging and handing me another drink.
“That’s easy,” I said, admiring the color in the glass. “I write about stories and how they are made. The good ones are always about how what we see, what we want to see, what others want us to see, collides with what we can’t see, what we sense, what we don’t want to see, what is hidden or secret, even – maybe mostly – from ourselves.”
“Not easy to do,” Coyote said, settling back in his chair. “Sometimes people really want the story to go one way or another, have a happy ending.”
“I know,” I said, suddenly glum. “I’ve gotten in trouble because of that.”
“Good,” Coyote said. “You can’t make an omelette without ruffling feathers.”
“What?” I asked.
“Have some more cashews,” Coyote said.