As I sped past, I spotted Freddy lying on the side of the road. I knew I wanted him at first sight. So I quickly pulled off and performed a double U-ey. Fortunately highway traffic was sparse. I backed up to him and stepped to the rear of the truck, lowered the tailgate, threw the tarp to one side and turned to admire Freddy. He lay there in all his glory…a youngish, coyote. Struck by a vehicle, a bone protruded from his rib cage, his jaw askew, eyes half closed; he was young and still. I put on my gloves, grabbed him by the hind legs and pulled him from the ground. He was still fresh; there was no sickening sound of gore-glued hide pulling away and exposing a hollowed out torso full of maggots. I was thankful.
I pulled Freddy toward the back of my pickup, placed one knee, then the other on the tailgate and stood up, still holding his hind legs. As I was doing so a city cop pulled up behind me with his lights flashing. I was so thankful he did not apply his siren. Continuing with my task I heaved Freddy into the bed of the truck, and stood there making sure to keep my hands in unsuspicious, predictable places as the officer exited the vehicle. “Sir! What do you have there?“
I’d met him a month before in town when I blew my horn at him for not being aggressive enough in performing a left-hand turn onto the highway. “Coyote…them’s good eat’n!“, I tried my best to play to the groundlings.
“You can’t stop here sir!”, the cop explained. “Didn’t you see the signs back there? ’No parking within 80 feet of the road.’ ”
“Yeah, sure, always wondered what those were all about so I stopped to take a closer look at’m.“
This cop was aggressive. Every time I saw him he had someone pulled over. Typically he drove a dark blue unmarked police vehicle and he worked it hard. He had given me a warning for using my horn earlier. He looked not too longingly at the coyote I had harvested and ask, “What are you going to do with it?”
“I’m going to mount him. Take him home, let the maggots eat their fill and then clean 'im up, glue the bones back together and mount him…ya know…put him on display.”
He looked amused, “OK,…fine…just understand you can’t be stopping here.” I knew there was really no problem; he just wanted to make contact with a “normal” person.
“Sure I understand, I just wish people would stop hitting these guys and luring me into stopping for 'em. Next week it’ll be a havelina. Trouble is, those pigs are stinky from the get-go.” I stepped off the truck bed.
“So, you’re going to mount him?” he sounded incredulous.
“Yeah, and put him into a real-life crouch with a kangaroo-rat as the target.” I was dreaming big now.
“OK sir, good luck...be careful pulling out.” he advised as he returned to his cruiser.
I quickly gave Freddy a respectful tarp covering and pulled onto the road. As I gained speed another coyote crossed the highway a few hundred yards ahead. “Oh, wow! Wouldn't it be great to have a pair?”