Trapper's Glen

Will he find her in the glen, or will he find something else there, something dark and primal? 
Old man Tallup might know, but he mostly speaks in riddles and myth, not the kind of language that private detective Charlie Marsh is used to.

“How can you be sure what is real and what is not? Are you sure coyote’s don’t talk in the real world?”  The old man took a long, slow drag on his cigarette. “Maybe they’re just silent in your dreams.”

Charlie waved away an errant ring of smoke. “I’m not sure of anything lately.”

“Don’t go tying yourself in knots now, Mr. Marsh. Some say I’m just full of shit.” 

“You wanna hear a story, Charlie?”

“Is it a true story?”

“Some say it is, some don’t.”

“What’s it about?”

“This place. The things that watch us from the edges of the forest.”

“What things?”

The old man ignored his question, blowing a few more smoke rings into the night air. “Some time ago when the stars could still be seen in every direction, and this place wasn’t on a map, a white man came to the glen. He had the idea that it would be the perfect place to raise sheep, what with the green grass between the mountains and the cold water from the springs.” He leaned back in his rocking chair and looked up at the sky. “So he staked his claim, and built him a little house, and put up a fence…as such men are wont to do. But the coyote knows nothing of fences, nor does he care to know. He goes wherever he can and feeds as is his way.”

Charlie interrupted, “the sheep?”

The old man gave him a wry smile. “So you’ve heard this story?”

“Sorry, no. Please go on.”

The old man took another drag from his cigarette, pulling it closer to extinction, letting the ash fall into his lap. “So the man isn’t happy about the coyotes, and their eating habits so he decides to gather up some friends, and set a trap for them. Now, you know the river at the edge of the forest?

“The McKenzie?”

The old man nodded. “Yes, but that’s not what my people called it.”

“What did they call it?”

The old man ignored him again. “Well, the river runs wild where the glen meets it, and the mountains are too steep and the soil at their bases is too loose to go anywhere but across when pressed. So the man lets his sheep out of the fence just when the sun is starting its descent behind the mountains. Naturally the coyotes can’t resist the chance, and they come out of the trees and sneak up on the sheep, but the men are there, waiting in the barn on their horses, and just as the first coyote makes his kill, the men burst out of the barn and ride toward the coyotes. They flank them and run them hard toward the river, shooting as many as they can until their rifles are empty.”

The old man shook his head.

“So the men killed all of the coyotes?”

“Almost.” He stubbed his cigarette on the arm of his chair, little wisps of smoke rose and mingled with the misty air. “When the coyotes reached the river, some of them stopped and stood their ground, too afraid to cross, a few scrambled toward the mountains, but the loose soil slowed them down and they were trampled by horses or shot by a couple of men who had managed to reload. A few of the coyotes even risked the river, but were swept away, howling and gurgling and pawing at the white water.”

Charlie started to ask another question, but the old man held up a hand.

“Now one of those coyotes made it across by sheer force of will, sheer instinct, or maybe a desire to live to fight another day. The coyote ambled up the bank, shook himself off, and turned around. He stared right into the faces of the men, and let out the most blood curdling howl any man had ever heard. The men were so stunned, and maybe a little surprised that he had actually made it across, that they just stared back. They didn’t fire another shot, and the coyote disappeared into the forest.” He put the stubbed cigarette in the chest pocket of his worn-out flannel shirt. “Now, some say that the coyote still watches the glen from the edge of the trees waiting for his chance, waiting to take back what is his. Some say the coyote is responsible for the killings.”

“And the others?”

“Well, like I said, others say I’m just full of shit, but maybe, just maybe the coyote has something to do with that girl of yours. Maybe she was alone in the glen.”


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