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Three Tales of the Coyote


By Dean Webb and North America

The Joke

One day, Coyote decided to have some fun. He decided to die.

Woodpecker came by to pray over him and mourn him, and Coyote played tricks on Woodpecker. When Woodpecker tried to sing a song of mourning, Coyote rustled the bushes so loud, Woodpecker could not sing. When Woodpecker tried to dance a dance of mourning, Coyote pushed the wind so hard, Woodpecker could not dance. When Woodpecker tried to sit at Coyote's side through the night in vigil, Coyote kept the sun so high in the sky, Woodpecker could not hold a vigil.

Because Coyote was dead, Woodpecker never suspected him of all the mischief. Coyote laughed and laughed so much, the rocks started to giggle.

Woodpecker had never known rocks to chuckle, so he realized there must be something going on he couldn't see, some joke was being played on him. "Whoever it is, cut it out!" he said, "I'm trying to mourn the loss of my dear friend Coyote!"

Coyote spoke on the wind in a ghostly voice that was not his own. "He was never your friend! Go away!"

Woodpecker was startled by the voice, but did not fly away, even though he was afraid. "You lie! Coyote has always been my friend! His howling and my woodpecking fill the world with beautiful sound! We are brothers in noisemaking!"

Coyote did his best to keep from laughing. "You always annoyed people with your noise! You were both nuisances! You do not deserve peace!"

Woodpecker was alarmed by the voice, but did not fly away, even though he knew deep fear. "You are wrong! His song and my drumming were beautiful to many! Who cares if a few people can't take a joke! We always had a good laugh together, and taught others to laugh!"

Coyote was about to die a second time from suppressing the urge to laugh. "You say you laughed together, yet you do not laugh with him now! What kind of friend are you?"

Woodpecker was angered by the voice, and stood firmly, now that he knew indignation at false accusation. "I am a friend who mourns the passing over of my good friend Coyote. Now is not the time for laughter! You are a wicked and cruel thing to torment me so!"

Coyote did all he could to keep from bursting his spirit with mischievious guffawing. "You say it is not time for laughter? I say Coyote would want you laughing right now and you are foolish and miserable to not laugh with him now!"

Woodpecker became furious at the voice, and began to beat his wings in rage. "Coyote cannot laugh! He is dead!"

Coyote couldn't hold it in anymore. He became alive again and shouted out, "I am not dead, Woodpecker! You fell for my joke!" and then howled with wild peals of thunderous laughter.

Woodpecker was so frightened by seeing his friend Coyote return to life, he dropped dead on the spot.

Coyote finished laughing and tried to revive his friend, Woodpecker. Upon seeing Woodpecker had died, he sat on the ground and howled in grief.

Meanwhile, Woodpecker was getting ready to give Coyote a taste of his own medicine...

WE LEARN FROM THE STORY: Dead people can really mess with your head if you don't laugh along with them.

The Gift

One day, Coyote wanted something new to have. So he went to visit Woodpecker and Beaver and asked them to give him a gift.

"What should we give you?" asked Woodpecker.

"Why should we give you anything?" asked Beaver.

"I want you to answer Beaver's question first," said Woodpecker.

Coyote said, "You should give me something new because I have given you so much. I sing for you always and tell you stories and you listen to me and never tell me to be quiet, so you must like them."

"I never tell you to be quiet because you'd probably sing louder," said Beaver.

"Well, I do like your songs and stories," said Woodpecker, "so I suppose I shall give you something new."

"Great! I'd like a perfect brook in a perfect forest on a perfect mountain where I can live in joy and peace," said Coyote.

"I was thinking more of a clever arrangement of pine branches and oak leaves," said Woodpecker.

"That's not what I had in mind," said Coyote.

"How about we continue to listen to you and I'll try harder to appreciate your often-annoying style," said Beaver.

"What do you mean, 'annoying'? How is my storytelling annoying?" asked Coyote.

"You need to tighten your structure, avoid filler words, and try to use more expressive words in your vocabulary," said Beaver.

"I don't care," said Woodpecker, "I'll be happy to listen."

"Thanks to both of you," said Coyote, "I'll tell a story and I'll try and incorporate what Beaver talked about to improve the quality of my delivery."

"Sounds good," said Beaver.

"Sounds good," said Woodpecker.

And Coyote told them both a story and sang them both a song. Woodpecker loved them both and Beaver said they were better, but could still use some improvement. So Coyote told another story and sang another song and a good time was had by all.

WE LEARN FROM THE STORY: The greatest gifts you can give to an artist are being an attentive audience and offering constructive criticism, but offer criticism only when asked for by the artist.

The Dinner

One day, Bear was cooking a big dinner for all her friends. Everyone was invited: Coyote, Beaver, Woodpecker, Wolf, Cougar, Porcupine, Turkey, Turtle, Opossum, Spider, they were all coming.

Coyote was hungry, very hungry, and wanted to get extra food. He had a cunning plan. He sat at one end of the table and made sure there was an empty chair at the other end of the table.

Bear handed out food to Coyote first. Right after getting his food, Coyote dashed to the other end of the table to get a second helping of food. But Bear was running out of food and didn't have enough to give a full portion to Coyote after dishing food out to the rest.

"I seem to have come up short," said Bear.

"Oh that's all right," said Coyote, "I don't need very much. Just give me what's left and I'll be fine."

"Well, if it's all right with you..." said Bear and she gave the last of the food to Coyote, which was about half of what she gave everyone else.

Coyote ate his food very quickly, then got ready to go back to his first place at the table. He looked up and saw he wouldn't be able to do that. Bear had sat down to eat in Coyote's first place, as there was nowhere else to sit at the table. She was enjoying a full plate of food, of course.

Still hungry, Coyote asked if there was any more to eat.

"You mean you want dessert?" asked Bear.

"Yes! Dessert!" said Coyote.

"I don't make desserts," said Bear. "What you got is what you got."

Just then, Raccoon and Muskrat showed up late for dinner. "Did we miss anything?" asked Raccoon.

"Haven't eaten all day!" said Muskrat.

"You just missed dinner," said Bear. "We're fresh out of everything."

Raccoon and Muskrat looked around hungrily. Everyone else ignored their hungry looks and started talking. Coyote sang and told stores.

Raccoon and Muskrat left the big dinner and looked around the forest, the plain, the river, and the lake for more food. They found some cold fish near the lake and ate those.

Meanwhile, Bear was so thankful for Coyote's performance, she said if there was anything she had that he wanted, she would give it to him.

Coyote said, "How about fixing me something to eat. I didn't get enough at supper."

Bear smiled and made him a fresh, hot dinner.

WE LEARN FROM THE STORY: If you play games, it could backfire, but you can always make up for it later on if you're nice. If you show up late and leave early, you miss out on all the fun.