About Coyote Kate of Camden
Author: Julia Talbot
Word Count: 3800
Page Count (pdf):15
Date Published: May 4 2014 2nd ed
Publisher: Turtlehat Creatives
File Types available: pdf, epub, mobi
The old west town of Camden is in deep trouble when their children begin to disappear. Everyone knows it’s trickster coyotes stealing their kids, but nobody knows what to do. Except newspaper woman Ginny. She convinces the town to call on Coyote Kate, a notorious coyote trapper, who can get their children back. But will the town, or Ginny, be willing to pay Kate’s price?
“Well, I say we must do something! It has become an infestation. A plague, I vow,” the Mayor of Camden, Colorado finished his oration with a stabbing finger motion that made his starched shirtfront flap up into his red face. He smoothed it down and hooked his thumbs into his suspenders, surveying the assembled citizens at the town meeting and pursing his lips. “What say you?” he added.
Virginia Harrow wanted to say that with his round face and bald head he looked like nothing so much as a colicky baby, but she hid that thought and her smile, one gloved hand rising to cover her mouth and turn her laugh into a cough. Even when the occasion was dire, as this one was, Mayor Brady amused her to no end.
“We’ve tried traps and poison, too,” Chuck Weaver said, standing up, hat in his hands. Chuck ran the barbershop, which sat only two doors down from Ginny’s newspaper office. “But they just keep coming.”
“They” were coyotes. Wiley creatures, those dog-like coyotes, with their yellow eyes and their sly-smile muzzles. A whole passel of them had descended on Camden, swooping down on the outskirts of town and killing sheep, cattle, and the occasional guard dog. Nothing the town had tried had even made a dent in the coyote population.
“Yeah.” This from Nate Garrison, who owned the general store. “One of them even got into my stores out at the barn and ate half a month’s provisions. What are we to do?”
Ginny had an idea, one that she’d hesitated to mention ere now, knowing it would be unpopular at best, jeered at in the worst. Still, Camden seemed in desperate straits. Why, just last night a large yellow mongrel had tried to steal the widow Freemont’s daughter, right off their back porch.
She rose, smoothing her skirts and petticoats before clearing her throat. “Gentleman. If I may?”
Mayor Brady’s face screwed up like he’d sucked on a pickle. “Yes Miss Harrow?”
Damn the man for insisting on emphasizing the Miss. He always did, reminding her of her spinster status. Indeed, of her bluestocking status.
“How about Coyote Kate?”
Silence descended for nearly a full minute. Then the entire assembly burst into shouting, some people protesting vehemently, some agreeing just as vociferously. Finally the Mayor gained silence by pounding his gavel against the podium until wood chips flew.
“Coyote Kate,” he said, spittle beading in the corner of his mouth. “Is a myth. She does not exist.”
“That is entirely untrue, sir. Why, I have in my possession a letter from my newsprint counterpart in Lamar, Mister Edward Barrington, who swears by her services. He says that she may be contacted via his office. A telegram might even produce her help in a matter of two or three days.”
“And how much does she charge for her services, Miss Harrow?” asked James McPeak, the town’s only lawyer. “We are quite short in the city coffers.”
Ginny gave him her best withering look. “I imagine, Mister McPeak, that our children are more important than a fat town bankroll. I, for one, would be willing to help pay the woman, should she actually provide a real service.”
The noise level rose again, gradually, as people debated the merits of that, until one by one, farmers and rancher and miners all stood up to be counted as supporting Ginny’s idea.
“I’ll pay,” hollered old Red Stines, his voice cracked from too many years of breathing hard rock dust.
“Me too,” said Eamon Caskey, his Irish never so plain as when he shouted.
Finally so many people agreed that Mayor Brady was forced to take a vote. It passed in favor by a margin of three to one. Ginny would send that telegram tomorrow.