“None of you never did.”
Waldreve waved a hand at his sons and then at the small white farm-
house perched in the middle of the brown lawn edged with Corella’s
“You never did know what I was talking about,” he said. “Now get me
one of the bitches out of there.”
Philip and Vance looked at one another. Then Vance took the ragged
hunting cap from his head and smoothed the thinning strands of blond
hair over his scalp.
“We could shoot one and get it out for you,” he said.
Waldreve licked his lips and tasted the green tang of the river again.
“No,” he said. “You drag me a live bitch out of there like I want.”
Vance replaced the cap on his head and prodded the dirt with the
end of the catchpole. A light sweat had broken across his face, and his
cheeks shone in the early sunlight. He had been a sickly child, Waldreve
remembered, prone to fevers and croup, and he looked sickly now, his
eyes still gunked with sleep and his shoulders bowed against the slight
morning chill that had risen off the grass.
“Go on,” said Waldreve. “I don’t have time to waste watching you
Vance shook his head. But then he picked the catchpole up and hoisted
it over his shoulder and opened the pen and went inside, closing the
door behind him.
The coyotes retreated under the lean-to, giving small yips and murmured growls. Their eyes were wild and afraid. All but the big male,
who was not afraid. He sat in the center of the pen, the coagulated blood
of the wound on his paw drying in the sun. His eyes were dark and
“Don’t let that sonuvabitch tear my ass off,” Vance said, moving slowly
along the edge of the fence.
Philip took the rifle off his shoulder and chambered a round and then
drew aim on the large coyote. “I won’t,” he said.
Vance moved to within a few paces of the lean-to, and the coyotes
began to snarl and bare their teeth at him. He took another step forward, and the entire pack burst forth from the shelter, making for the
other side of the pen in a boil of dust. He managed to lasso a female as
she darted past, her jaws snapping as she fought against the bite of the
noose, and then he levered the catchpole up and pressed her face into the
ground. She stilled, snorting and whining.