bored, you know?" Coyote said, an old grey fedora
pulled down low over his face, like he was trying to look like
old Humphrey Bogart. His ears twitched through the holes he'd
cut in the brim.
"So whatcha gonna do about it?" Iktome said, reaching a spidery
hand down into the bucket between them for another piece of
fried chicken. He found a thigh. "Only dark meat left. Huh."
"I dunno. I'm thinking maybe of running for President," Coyote
answered, gnawing the last bits of gristle from the chicken
leg. He eyed the bare bone, holding it between his thumb and
forefinger, then flicked it sharply through the air. The bone
struck Turtle--who'd been trying without success to right himself
for the past twenty minutes--upside the head, and sent him spinning
on his back.
"Coyote, please stop that," Turtle pleaded. "It's starting to
"Huh. Yeah. Sure thing," Coyote said, then threw a wing bone,
which hit Turtle and made him start spinning the other way.
"You really oughta stop torturing Turtle. Good shot, though,"
Iktome said, using a thin strip of willow bark to tie the cleaned
thigh bone to the rest of the skeletal chicken he'd reassembled.
He found an uneaten roll, used it to sop up the grease off his
hands, then squeezed a packet of honey over it before mashing
it into his mouth. "President, huh? That's big. Sure would be
"This is what I'm thinking. Bum a smoke?"
"Naw. Fresh out," Iktome said, patting the ragged pockets of
his threadbare overcoat.
"See? This is what I mean," Coyote said, jumping up onto the
overhanging bank, stressing his point with a jab of a chicken
leg. "The President never has to go without a smoke. Never."
"You sure about that?" Iktome fastened the last leg bone to
the thigh, and set the skeletal chicken down in the dry stream
bed. It started flopping around aimlessly. A wing fell off.
"Needs a head."
"Absolutely. It's a rule somewhere," Coyote said, leaning against
one of the tall pecan trees lining the stream bed. A breeze
rustled through the trees, branches heavy with ripening nuts
dipping low to the ground. Coyote stuck his nose up in the air,
whimpering with excitement. "Aha! Smell that?"
Iktome took a cautionary sniff. "The rendering plant?"
"Politics! Politics is on the wind!"
"Smells like the rendering plant to me."
"Pfft! What do you know? C'mon. Let's get my campaign in gear."
"What do you know?" Iktome said, slapping the dust out of his
faded jeans as he straightened.
"What's to know? You pull a sword from a stone and they give
you the brass ring," he said, hopping in place.
"Are we talking about the President of the United States?"
"Yeah, sure. Whichever. By the way, could I bum a smoke?" Coyote
asked, handing Iktome the chicken leg.
"Naw. Fresh out." Iktome tossed the gnawed-clean legbone over
his shoulder. It bonked Turtle on the head, sending him spinning
"Well? You get a ticket?" Iktome asked, not looking up from his Gameboy. "You was sure in there long enough."
"Naw. They were filled up. Both of them. Can you believe it?" Coyote said, plopping down beside Iktome on the bench in the lobby of the Federal Election Commission. "They told me I had to go to some kinda primary, then a convention."
"Okay, then. Let's do it." Iktome thumbed the game hard, and it answered with a satisfying explosion. "By the way, your fly's open."
"Hmm, so it is," Coyote mused, zipping up. "Can't go to a primary, or even a convention. They're already done with. Seems like an awful lot of nonsense to go through just to elect a president, but Monica said that's the way it's done."
"And Monica is?"
"The nice lady who helped me. She got plastic titties, you know."
"Naw, I didn't. Real plastic?"
"Well, I don't know if they was real plastic. They coulda been some kinda artificial plastic, you know."
"Yeah," Iktome agreed, nodding. "They got all kinds of things like that now. Monica, you say her name was?"
"Nice lady, that Monica. Real nice. You oughta get to know her. She said I'm pretty much shit outta luck, you know. Them's her words, not mine. Both the Democans and Republicrats done settled on their candidates. Ain't that something? And there's still a month left before elections." Coyote shook his head. "I can't even get my name on the ballot. Those things already been printed up."
"Ugh," Iktome grunted as the alien attackers finally got to his space ship. He tossed the Gameboy into the trash can beside the bench. "So what you gonna do?"
"I'm gonna be a write-in candidate. That's what Monica said to do. Nice lady, that Monica. She said she's gonna vote for me, you know. Write my name down on the ballot. Ain't that nice of her? She said I'd be needing to get a campaign manager, too. So I guess I will."
Iktome nodded. "Sounds like a plan."
"This is what I'm thinking. Bum a smoke?"
"Naw. Fresh out."
"As you can see, Mr. Coyote, I am well-acquainted with all the `inner workings' of Washington inside the beltway," Nora Rosolini said confidently, passing an unending stream of resume, references, clips and promo packages across the table to Coyote. She was clad in a navy blue power suit that could supply the energy needs of a Third World through the end of the millennium, and her spiraling, waist-length black hair was just as intimidating in its own right.
"Yes, yes I see," answered Coyote, glancing vacantly at each piece of paper in turn. Iktome sat back in a corner, intently working a cat's cradle with an old used strand of dental floss he'd found outside on the curb.
"If I may be blunt, Mr. Coyote, you're going to need all the exposure you can get. You have no name recognition. With my connections in Washington, I can not only guarantee you that, but nail down a dozen high-profile congressional endorsements as well," Rosolini continued. "No one thought Senator Orville Van de Castle's re-election bid could succeed. He trailed by fifteen, fifteen points on October 12. Guess who's campaign got him a ticket back to Washington?"
"Yours!" guessed Coyote.
"That's right! I'm the best there is, Mr. Coyote." She beamed. "Now, I'm not saying we can win this. There's just not enough time, and you don't have any constituent base. But with the right planning, presenting you as the `Washington outsider,' I'm fully confident we could capture fifteen to twenty percent of the popular vote and position you as the only legitimate challenger in the following election." She clasped her hands together on the table. "Now, do you have any questions?"
"Yeah, are those titties of yours real or plastic? Mind if I feel?"
"Okay, now. Sexual harassment suits aren't always bad. In this case, we could actually turn it to our advantage," said Kevin Roswell, the new campaign manager for the Coyote for President campaign. "Your biggest obstacle was name recognition, and this has certainly taken care of that."
"Yeah? Great. Anytime, just say the word," Coyote answered, grinning. Across the office, Iktome cursed softly and pulled a couple of pieces off his one-tenth scale popsicle-stick model of the Hindenburg that weren't sticking to their proper places. The starboard bow kept sagging, and refused to cooperate.
"Well, no. We don't want any more of that," Roswell said, mopping a bead of sweat from his brow. "Like I said, we've got a slight advantage now, but any more scandals would start to erode the support of our financial backers--which, I might add, we have precious few of so far. There's never been a Native American president, so we can play up that angle, but you can't win the White House on notoriety alone, Mr. Coyote. It takes lots of money."
The office phone rang. Iktome put down his popsicle sticks and answered.
"How much money do you think it costs to get a big set of plastic titties like Nora Rosolini's?" Coyote asked, gazing thoughtfully at the ceiling. "I mean, hers were real, but I'm thinking maybe every woman should have a set like that, you know? Maybe that'll be my campaign platform."
"No!" Roswell snapped, then regained his composure. "You absolutely cannot make that a campaign platform. And you can't talk about Ms. Rosolini's breasts, ever again. Not if you want to be president. If I'm going to be your campaign manager, you say only what I tell you to say, when I tell you to say it. Understand? No more sex scandals. We can't afford them."
"Hey, Coyote," Iktome called out, cradling the phone to his chest. "It's that Monica with the plastic titties. She wants to know why you don't return her calls no more."
"Now let me get this straight, Mr. Coyote," the young loan officer, George, said hesitantly, adjusting his tie. His suit was conservative grey, his nails neatly trimmed. "You want me to approve a one million dollar NASFIC Bank loan to you, without any credit history and no collateral?"
"Unless you think one million ain't enough?" Coyote offered helpfully. "Everyone tells me running for president's expensive, so I figure, you know, I gotta get me some money."
"Well, uh, I'm sorry. But I can't. Approve your loan, that is."
"You can't? I thought that's what banks was for."
"Yes, Mr. Coyote. You're right about that," George said apologetically. "But when we make loans, we have to have some certain the money will be paid back, you understand."
"Oh, that. Don't you worry none. When I'm president, I can pay you back all you want. Maybe give you people some nice government contracts, too."
"Well, that's the problem. What if you're not elected? Forgive me, but you don't have any kind of track record. You could just vanish, and we'd be out a million dollars. Don't get me wrong, Mr. Coyote. I like you. You're an outsider. Maybe that's what we need in Washington. I'm sure going to vote for you, but without some guarantee of payment, some collateral, my hands are tied."
Coyote's face fell. "I see. I really thought you was my friend." He sighed. "Then I guess I'm out of the president business. Unless... Naw, never mind."
"No, I couldn't. Long Ears is just too dear to me. You understand? I couldn't drag him into this. He's family."
"Who's this Long Ears? Mr. Coyote, I'm trying to help you. If you know of someone who could co-sign your loan--"
"Naw, he can't sign nothing." Coyote leaned back in his chair, and hollered over his shoulder, "Iktome! Bring in Long Ears!"
The office door swung open, and in rode Iktome on a fat, brown, thoroughly bewildered donkey. Iktome swung himself off Long Ears and leaned against the door, fully decked out in chaps, vest and a ten-gallon hat. "Hey, Coyote. Here's Long Ears. You ain't thinking of doing nothing crazy with him, like put him up for collateral or something?"
"Of course not," Coyote said, hopping up from his seat. "I could never do something like that to Long Ears."
"I don't see what difference it makes," George said, coming around his desk. "This donkey's worth, what? Fifty dollars? It may be worth a great deal to you in sentimental value..."
"Sentimental value? I'll show you sentimental value!" Coyote snorted, then hauled off and kicked the donkey squarely in the belly. Long Ears brayed and farted loudly, a thick clump of green falling from his hind end.
"Here. You tell me how sentimental this is," Coyote said, carefully picking a green bill out of the stinking pile and handing it to a reluctant George.
"Why, this... This is a fifty dollar bill!" George said in amazement, shaking some of the vilest clumps off it. "There must be five hundred dollars in that pile!"
"Yeah, I guess so. There's more where that came from. You wanna try?"
"Can I?" George kicked Long Ears in the belly, and another clump of greenbacks plopped onto the floor. Nostrils flaring, Long Ears glared at George.
"You see why Long Ears is so valuable to me. But he can only poop so much each day," Coyote explained sadly. "If I'm going to be president, I need a lot more money, and I need it now."
"You just wait right here," George said, waving Coyote back down into his seat. "This is the most amazing things I've ever seen. I'll have your paperwork ready in ten minutes."
George dashed out the office, the door swinging shut behind him. Iktome watched the manure slowly soaking into the carpet, then glanced over at Coyote. "So what happens when they find out you just laser copied all those fifties and shoved them up the donkey's butt?"
Coyote grinned. "Not my problem. But you gotta admit, the classics never go out of style."
World News Network political correspondent Holly Davenport stumbled out of the campaign tent, struggling to adjust her skirt and blouse. She pulled out a compact, grimaced at the flushed image in the mirror, and quickly tucked away half a dozen loose strands of red hair. Roswell scrambled up, and helped her back to the press area, casting frustrated glances back over his shoulder toward the tent.
"So? Did Coyote agree to an exclusive interview?" her cameraman asked as she rejoined him in front of the stage.
"We'll talk later," she snapped. "Here comes Coyote now."
Coyote stepped out of the tent, pausing only to zip his pants. He bounded up the stage, ignoring the irate Roswell, and grinned broadly at the vast throng gathered around the reflecting pool beneath the Washington Monument. He waved, and a roar of approval greeted him.
"Sorry--" he said into the microphone, but a squeal of feedback cut him off. "Sorry I'm running late," he began again, "but I had some urgent business I had to attend to." He blew Holly a kiss, adding a wink for good measure. "I'm glad you are here. All of you. You see, I wanna be president, and I need your help to do it."
The crowd cheered again.
"You know, them Washington folks said I was through when the Democans and Republicrats wouldn't let me go to their little debate. Fine. You folks showed them. They say I'm polling at something like twenty percent now. And that's without a vice president. Just think how that's gonna change now that I got me one. Lemme introduce you to my vice-presidential running mate... Whiskey Jack!"
A smattering of confused applause rose up from the crowd as Coyote continued to stand at the podium alone. Roswell, seated behind him, buried his face in his hands.
"No good," whispered Iktome from his seat beside Roswell, where he was busily working the New York Times crossword.
"What do you mean, no good?" answered Coyote, taken aback. "So what if I ain't seen him in years. That's what you look for in a good vice president."
"Maybe so, but he can't run. He's Canadian."
"Oh. You sure?"
"Are you Canadian?"
Iktome shook his head.
"It's just come to my attention that Whiskey Jack is Canadian," Coyote said into the mic. The crowd booed. "That's what I said. Let's have a big round of applause for my new running mate, Iktome!"
The crowd roared its approval. "Give 'em hell, Coyote!" someone shouted.
"I will! I will! Hell for everybody who needs it!" Coyote shouted into the mic. "Big plastic titties for all women! Equal rights for everyone from coyotes to--"
"Spiders," whispered Iktome.
"Spiders!" shouted Coyote. "The trouble with Washington is that there are too many politicians there that know what they're doing, and not enough spiders and coyotes. I say, let's send coyotes and spiders. Someone that's an outsider, someone that's not afraid of trying ideas that common sense rules out as idiotic. Someone who's not afraid of failure. Someone who's not afraid to look stupid on the world stage. That someone is me!"
The crowd screamed with delirium. A dozen people dove into the reflecting pool and began to splash around.
"Things'll change when I'm president. You'll see. All this campaigning makes me hungry, you know, but I gotta wait for my food to cook! No more! When I'm president, all farmers are gonna oven bake each and every seed they plant, so that every ear of corn, every potato, every bean will be fully cooked and ready to eat the instant it ripens. No more waiting!"
The crowd chewed on this a minute before concluding it was a sound theory, in principal.
"Next, I'd like to share with you some thoughts on urban renewal--"
"Stop right there!" a bitter, feminine voice shouted, and Coyote looked over see Monica climbing the steps to the stage. Nora Rosolini followed, along with two other women carrying large, covered boxes.
Roswell sprang up to the podium beside Coyote. "I thought you said you'd taken care of this little problem."
Coyote shrugged. "I thought I did. They all seemed satisfied last time I talked with them."
"From what I understand, there wasn't much talking involved," offered Iktome. Roswell grimaced.
"You think you're so clever, don't you Coyote?" said Monica. "You think you can have your fun, with no consequences, don't you?"
"Naw. This is just a misunderstanding, you know? If you just wait for me in my tent--"
"Oh, no you don't, Coyote. You're not weaseling out of this one. Not this time," snapped Rosolini. "I did some checking up on you, and found quite a few skeletons in your closet. Ladies?"
The other two women set the boxes onto the stage, opening them. Two enormous, green frogs hopped out, staring at Coyote accusingly.
"Heh. Didn't see this one coming," muttered Iktome.
"Recognize them, Coyote?" Rosolini said, snatching the mic from him. "You should, after the way you violated them. Listen to what the man you want to make president did to these frog women," Rosolini said, turning to the crowd. "He stole their vaginas!"
"Mmm hmm. I didn't think you knew about that," Rosolini taunted the crowd, nodding her head in victory. "These frog women had their womanhood stolen on a whim by Coyote, who used what he stole for his own selfish gratification."
Rosolini shoved the mic down at the frog women.
"It's true," one croaked.
"He did this to us," agreed the other. "Took it away. He did. No more whoopee."
"Ladies, good people," Coyote said, smoothly slipping the mic from Rosolini's fingers. "Yeah, I did it. I stole them both. But did I do it for fun? Naw. No, I did it for their own good.
"Stop and look around you. Women are repressed 'cause of their sex, you know? They buy and sell it on the streets, see, in dark alleys. That ain't no good. There's babies and diseases come from that." Coyote shuddered, taking a deep breath. "Now who was I to sit back and let this happen to frogs? So yeah, I did it, you know. 'Abstinence only.' It ain't hurt them none. Frogs can still lay eggs. They still got tadpoles swimming in ponds. I dunno. Maybe I was wrong." Coyote stopped, wiping away a tear. "Maybe... it'd be best if I don't try to be president no more."
"No!" the crowd shouted as one, then began to chant. "Co-Yo-Te! Co-Yo-Te!"
Coyote turned and gave a sly grin to Iktome, who returned it, having finished the crossword puzzle. Coyote waved him over, and they clasped hands in victory, waving at the crowd.
"Hey, Iktome. See that pretty blonde over there," whispered Coyote.
"Yeah. That's Jessica Mobley. Channel 10 news."
"I'm thinking she deserves an exclusive interview."
"Will you please stop that," Roswell said as Coyote hopped back into the open-roofed Cadillac. "I know you're excited, but do you have to run over to kiss every pretty woman that waves at you? There's a hundred thousand people here waving at you. For goodness sake, at least try to act presidential. We'll never get to your swearing-in at this rate."
"Plenty of time," laughed Coyote, springing out of the back seat to kiss a cluster of women pressing against the barricades, then dash back. "Mmm. That black-haired girl tasted like peaches. I love peaches, you know?." Coyote stood up and waved at Iktome in the following Cadillac.
"Well, from now on it's not going to be just peaches and women. There is the next four years to think about," Roswell pointed out.
"Oh. Yeah. Four years."
"We've got to start thinking about how to pass your proposals through congress, because it's not going to be easy. If you'd had a clear majority, that would've made things a lot easier, but forty-nine percent of the popular vote is hardly a mandate." Roswell shook his head. "I still don't get it. Your support cut across all demographics--even the religious right liked you sexual abstinence policies--but we lost the Native American vote. All of it. That two percent of the popular vote would've given us all the mandate we needed. I felt certain we had that sewn up, given your history with them."
Coyote didn't answer, instead frowning as the white dome of the Capitol Building grew steadily closer.
The brass band started in on another Sousa march, while soon-to-be-ex-President Hopkins slouched in this seat on the stage, pulling his coat tighter against the nipping wind. "Coyote! Now where'd he get to?" Roswell muttered as he weaved in between Secret Service agents and senators backstage. He spotted a brown-haired girl dressed entirely too skimpily for the weather, and decided her a likely candidate. "Have you seen Coyote?"
"Yeah, about five minutes ago," she answered with a giggle, pulling down on her miniskirt. "I'm Brittney. He told me to wait for him here. He personally examined me to see if I qualified for his new breast-implant initiative. Why's it so cold out here, anyway?"
"Listen, please. I've got Supreme Court justices and practically the entire congress waiting for him to show up for the swearing in. Did he say where he was going? Think! It's important."
"Chill out. Don't get all anal on me. He just said he was going to look for some smokes, is all."
"Coyote, don't you do this to me," Roswell growled. He turned, running right into a Secret Service agent.
"Mr. Roswell, thank goodness I've found you," the agent said. "We seem to have lost the vice president-elect. Have you seen Iktome?"
"So you ain't gonna miss not being vice president?" Coyote asked, shedding his tuxedo coat and tossing it into the dumpster.
"Naw. Like you said, four years is way too long a time. And politics is too dangerous. I read somewhere a bunch of crazy bankers done kicked the Democan's poor mascot to death. Can you believe it?" Iktome shook his head slowly as he spray-painted hump-backed, flute-playing Kokopelli petroglyphs over all the tagger markings on the alley walls. "Poor donkey."
"Some people," agreed Coyote, searching his pockets for something that wasn't there. "Say, can I bum a smoke?"
"Naw. Fresh out." The can sputtered, and Iktome shook it hard with his spidery arm. "Besides, I figure I oughta be heading home. The old lady's probably going to be pretty angry with me as it is. Been years since I checked in."
"You married?" Coyote asked with a start.
"Yeah, you know that. My old lady's the one that tricked you into thinking she was gonna cook your balls for dinner that time."
"Oh, yeah. I remember now. That was a good one." Coyote fell silent, watching Iktome coax the last drops of paint from the can, then toss it into the dumpster. "Iktome?"
"I'm bored, you know?"
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