Waldreve chewed a piece of ham. He’d hardly spoken since coming
inside, and now he looked beyond the table to watch the window as it
slowly blacked with evening.
“Why’d you do it that way?” Corella asked. “You could have shot her
first,” she said. “That’s the way you always did it before.”
Waldreve shook his head. “That wouldn’t have worked,” he grunted.
His boys looked at him. Philip stopped buttering a wedge of cornbread and ran his tongue around inside his mouth and swallowed.
“What do you mean, Pop?” he asked.
“That big coyote is what I mean.” Waldreve nodded to the window
and the world beyond it. “I had to show him he was beat and that I was
what beat him.”
Corella furrowed her brow at him. She placed both her hands on the
table beside her plate and tapped her bright nails against the varnished
“He wouldn’t have known it if I’d shot her. He don’t register that kind
of thing,” Waldreve said. He closed his eyes for what seemed a long time
and then opened them again. “A gun, I mean. He only understands a
Corella sighed. “You don’t make any sense to me,” she said. “Those
coyotes took some of your calves, but now you’ve trapped them and it
ought to be over, but it’s not. And with your heart the way it is.” She
tossed her head back and forth. “You’re not a young man anymore, and
it needs to be over.”
Waldreve laughed, a short, gruff noise that sounded like a broken-off
“Even when I’m dead it won’t be over,” he said. “But that don’t matter
because I’m going to live forever.” He leaned forward, a smile burning
across his cheeks. “I am never going to die.”
His family gawked at him. Lightning flashed outside, and a few
moments later a steady roll of thunder drummed against the window.
“Storm blowing in,” said Philip. He scratched the blue stubble under
his chin and fixed his stare on a corner of the kitchen. “We could use the
Corella sighed again and began stacking the dinner plates. “Maybe
it’ll wash some of the nonsense off this place,” she said. She rose from the
table and took the dishes to the sink and ran the faucet, and the water
splashed into the basin. Shortly, Philip and Vance excused themselves to
retreat to their rooms.