story and illustration by Betty Ann Mussey, March 2001
© 2021 Brett S Mussey
This fantasy came about through childhood curiosity and memories from my son, Brett, and myself.
In 1929 at age 5 my family moved from Denver, CO to Estancia, NM, a small town inhabited by many interesting creatures. Among them were the horned toad, the roadrunner, and the coyote. When I was nine years old we moved to Albuquerque, NM. During World War II I met and married an Air Force officer. He retired and moved the family to San Antonio, TX when our son was ten years old.
One late afternoon I found Brett kneeling over a quite large wooden box. In it were eleven horned toads of various sizes. They seemed contented in their “temporary home”. Brett opened up a jar of red ants and soon they were lapping them up with their long tongues. Later he scooped out the sandy bottom for each and covered them up for the night. At least twice a day he rode his bicycle to gather the ants for his wee creatures. Within three or four weeks he released them in the area where he had found them.
It seems our families always loved and cherished our pets…dogs, cats, white rats, and mice. Brett also had a guinea pig he called George and several other rodent species such as hamsters and gerbils. For several years we bred registered English Pointer dogs and Siamese cats. There is no doubt in my mind that all creatures have the same emotions we humans possess…love, fear, grief, loneliness, boredom…just to name a few. Any animal will become mean, however, if it is mistreated through cruelty, abuse, or neglect.
There have been several Siamese cats named Shan we have owned since 1956. I read in an encyclopedia that the northern part of Siam was once called the Shan States. I had always thought it quite fitting that our Siamese males would be named Shan. One, our third Shan, we brought back from Japan who loved dogs but hated other cats! It was this particular Shan that shaped and influenced the succession of this name in Brett’s adult life. He has had two Siamese cats named Shan.
Once while visiting Albuquerque I found an old painting of a horned toad at an indoor flea market, which I gave to Brett at Christmas. Several times while shopping in the malls I would find other horned toad miniatures that I would give him. Then Brett started giving me roadrunner pictures or hangings or horned toad earrings. A couple of years ago I ordered from Wild West Collection and Endangered Species some beanbag stuffed critters, two horned toads and one roadrunner. I gave one of the horned toads to Brett and displayed mine in open view. I named the horned toad Hortense and the roadrunner Rhoda. Out of the blue I decided to write this fantasy and soon added Cody, the coyote. My only contact ever with a young coyote happened one day after school when two of my girlfriends and I were walking home. Helen remarked, “We have a new pet. It’s a coyote puppy.” As we arrived at Helen’s house, there it was in the backyard tied up with a rope. Suddenly it broke loose, knocked me flat on my back, and proceeded to lick my face until he or she was pulled away from me. Several months later I learned the young coyote was killed for invading a neighbor’s chicken coop. Perhaps our mutual affection on that long ago day gave reason to include the coyote to this tale of fantasy.
There is no doubt in my mind Brett’s role stimulated and encouraged my imagination. “Great!” he said. “I’ll edit it for you.” I would not want anyone else to do it. My daughter, Gail, and grandson, Greg, gave me a lot of encouraging words too.
The air smelled so fresh after a brief cloudburst. It was mid-morning on a New Mexico State highway. Rhoda, a young teenage roadrunner, paused a moment to enjoy the peace and quiet. Suddenly, she saw something move by the side of the road.
“What in the world is that?” she thought to herself.
As she approached, she saw four tiny little feet frantically waving in the air. Below them it lay helpless on its backside.
“You’re really in a pickle. Don’t worry. I’ll have turned over in a jiffy.”
No sooner said than done, the little horned toad covered with soggy sand replied most graciously, “Thank you for saving my life. My name is Hortense. I got separated from my family during the rain. I slipped and tumbled down the embankment. Well, you know the rest.”
All this time Rhoda diligently cleaned Hortense with her beak, wings, and tail. When she finished she stood back to admire her new little friend.
“You look great! I just love your perpetual smile.”
This definitely pleased shy, little Hortense’s ego.
Then Rhoda added, “Let’s move away from here and decide our next step. I’m not about to let you go alone. I’ve got it! I have a secret hide-a-way not far from here. Even though I’m somewhat of an extrovert, I still enjoy my privacy once in a while and a place to get my act together.”
Since they both were familiar in the surroundings, Rhoda asked Hortense to climb up under her wings for the ride. In no time they came to Rhoda’s hide-a-way. It was very cozy and furnished with several of her comfortable belongings. They began asking each other about their family life and discovered they had many things in common. Mainly, their survival and culture. Their clan-style togetherness reflected the essence of their lives in the pursuit of happiness.
Hortense commented, “We are safer in numbers.”
Rhoda agreed, “Birds of a feather flock together”. Then she proceeded to tell Hortense interesting tidbits about members of her immediate family.
She told of her teenage brother, Rodney, who is multi-talented with a unique personality. “He’s called the Cruiser. He loves to travel along-side cars on the highways. He had met up with a middle-aged couple, the two-legged giants, humans that is. They drive a truck and live nearby. They drive in for supplies quite often; usually together but sometimes one or the other. It is apparent they enjoy this pastime. The couple will whistle, wave their arms, and talk in a friendly manner. Once they had a flat tire and Rodney watched them from a distance. They changed the tire and drove home with Rodney following behind them. He learned where they lived. When he heard dogs barking though he decided that wasn’t a place to hang out.”
Then she mentioned her young orphaned cousin, Robert, nicknamed Bobby Beeper, who follows Rodney every chance he gets.
“Those two are very close. Occasionally, Rodney takes Bobby Beeper when he goes cruising. He learns fast. Actually, all of us enjoy this amusement along with other fun things we like to do. This is in no way competitive. There are no winners or losers. We cannot allow any kind of dissention to disrupt our natural harmony. It is one for all and all for one. We rely on our instincts and alertness to avoid our predators. We honor and respect our elders and take care of all their needs. There are so many melodious sounds to be heard day or night. We are endowed with this natural talent and have occasional festive performances and merrymaking. Some of us were practicing our vocal sounds and accidentally discovered we could make chords. We hope in time to have our first concert.”
Rhoda paused, “Now it’s your turn, Hortense. I’m anxious to hear about you, your family, and your lifestyle.”
Hortense began, “First, I must tell you how fascinating in what you have revealed. I think you will be very surprised that we have so many things in common even though we are definitely of different species. Our family is huge. I have my parents, many sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Also, grandparents, great grandparents and one great, great, grandmother who is called Henrietta. Everyone loves to hear her legends of yore. I don’t want to confuse you about my family. We’ll get back to them later.”
“Everything you said about your culture is identically parallel to ours. A few minor exceptions perhaps. There are no leaders. It’s like I said, ‘All for one and one for all’”.
Hortense was anxious to tell of the unique newcomers to their clan. They were similar to them only a different specie being considerably larger and have live births. “They had been captured and transported to this area. They call themselves Galahad and Guenevere. Their children’s names are Golly and Gee. They have proven to be a great asset to the clan in their wisdom including their knowledge of herbs and treating the sick.”
Perhaps all creatures speak in a universal language, act on instinct, and a supposed telepathic communication. One cannot see the air but can feel it. Acceptance of this might explain a divine purpose.
Hortense decided she should tell Rhoda more about her immediate family before they left. “My father’s name is Horace and my mother’s is Hilda. Several of my siblings are adults and have their own children so I will just name the ones who are still with us. I have two older sisters, Hillary and Hestor, and two older brothers, Henry and Homer. Then after me are Hogan, Helen, and Hildy. The little ones are so cute. I love looking after them. Oh, and let me assure you my family will welcome you with utmost gratitude and appreciation when they learn that you’ve saved my life. I do think we should leave though as we both undoubtedly have been missed.”
In agreement, Rhoda quickly put everything in its place with her tail whisking the ground as they backed out. When she returned it would show evidence of intruders if any prints were found. Out in the open, Rhoda knelt down and told Hortense to climb up under her wings for support on the short ride to Hortense’s home. When they arrived, Hortense called to her family, “Don’t be afraid. This is my friend Rhoda who saved my life.”
As the clan assembled with most awesome revelation, Rhoda knelt again for Hortense to dismount. Hortense’s parents moved in closer to greet their missing daughter and to give profound gratitude to Rhoda for her heroic deed. Before Rhoda could speak, the Grand Matriarch, Henrietta, stepped forward to eloquently express her praise to Rhoda for her gallant act of bravery and kindness. The whole clan joined in with jubilation. Rhoda modestly accepted their appreciation and thoughtfulness.
She thoughtfully replied, “Perhaps this is a new beginning of devoted friendship for both of our clans. I know we look very different but don’t opposites attract? For instance, you pass a total stranger…no eye contact…no smile…nothing. When it could be that a simple ‘Good Morning’ or ‘Have a nice day’ could make you feel so good inside! I do believe we were put on the planet to love and respect each other. My clan will be elated to hear of my new found friends.”
Next a “Bravo! Bravo!” rang out. It was the voices of the large reddish horned toad couple and their two children. Rhoda thought that they had to be Galahad, Guenevere, Golly, and Gee. A sound of “Bravo! Bravo!” echoed again from the entire clan.
“My family and I are new comers here. As you can see we look somewhat different. We have been graciously welcomed into their throng as part of the family. It is a wonderful feeling to belong.”
Rhoda mingled for a while then decided she should return to her own family. She explained, “I will bring an octet with me at high noon in three or four days. You will hear us before you see us. Our arrival will be in a vocal song.” She further added that there would be the eight besides her representing the musical scale. With fond farewells, Rhoda departed anxious to tell of the spectacular happenings of the day to her family. All of sudden it dawned on her, “If I related this in an excited manner they will think I’ve had a wild dream or been in the sun too long.” So she opted to return to her hide-a-way and get her act together.
Once there, she rested and assumed the strategy of a cool and calm manner to unfold her unusual story. This she knew would take patience and time to narrate such a long episode. Rhoda also knew she would not be missed until around dusk and it was barely mid-afternoon. Her kind had freedom to roam even alone most of the time. They were cunning and skillful in avoiding most dangerous predicaments. As she sauntered home she thought that she would just act normal until she could be alone with her parents and then casually mention, “Oh, by the way, I met a new friend this morning. Her name is Hortense.”
Her story was soon passed along to the entire clan. It went more smoothly than expected. On the third day, Rhoda, Rodney, and Bobby Beeper went for a short visit to see Hortense and her family to tell them they would return the next day with the six others of the octet. There was no question that Rodney and Bobby Beeper were to be on this first expedition. It was an important part of their education to experience.
Those who volunteered for the meeting the fourth day were Rhoda’s parents, Roland and Ronda, of course Rodney and Bobby Beeper, her grandparents, Roger and Rosie, and Uncle Roswell and Aunt Roxanne.
Rhoda woke up to a beautiful morning. The Sandia Mountains were aglow with the sun peeking through its ridges. They had had several meetings to discuss the “do’s” and “don’ts”. The “do’s” were easy: display proper and polite etiquette, plus their natural, congenial, friendly personalities. The “don’ts” were an order of extreme caution due to the difference in their sizes. They knew it would be impossible to mingle amongst their midst for fear of stepping on one to cause severe injury or even death. They designed a safety precaution to synchronize by kneeling after the introduction. Hortense’s clan was also designing safety measures to control any mishaps, especially with the young ones.
The nine roadrunners arrived at the designated time. With a hearty greeting, Hortense welcomed their guests. She and Rhoda introduced several of their own family and clan members. It was a most unusual and enjoyable day. Later, Rhoda suggested a short piggyback ride in the clearing for the adults. The first to come forward with much enthusiasm was the matriarch, Henrietta, for this excursion. Another was Uncle Roswell who told Galahad he had seen several of his kind many times in this area. The rides commenced. By doing this three times it would accommodate twenty-seven of Hortense’s clan. This was received with much gusto for all. Uncle Roswell had asked Galahad to ride with him in hopes of getting a few names of his family to identify in his query. He felt certain to be able to communicate with them. They were living in harmony but had never spoken.
Galahad eagerly obliged, “I’ve always believed we weren’t the only ones of our clan transported here at the same time. Actually, our captors were kind and tender to us. I figure we became somewhat apprehensive upon our release and scattered in different directions.” Galahad continued, “I have a sister called Galatea and her mate is Geronimo. Then, by mentioning their names, “Wow! It would be so great to see them again!”
Roswell smiled, “I’ll do the best I can. I’m excited about this too.”
On the first ride Guenevere rode with Roxanne and Henrietta with Rhoda. The grand old matriarch was so thrilled. “Never imagined anything this exciting would ever happen in my lifetime!”
The roadrunners had previously decided before their departure to give tribute to their hosts for their enjoyment and hospitality with a musical tune. After a few refrains, there was a new sound, a rhythmic beat, coming from the horned toads. As they improvised upon this rhapsody soon they swayed back and forth and waved their large, sharp, spiny projectiles from the back of their heads in a unified tempo. In the bright sunlight they had a sparkling glow as they swayed similar to thousands of sequins. All too soon it was time for the guests to return home. Rhoda gestured they would come back shortly to bring some of them to visit their home; perhaps in a week or so. With a fond farewell and thanks for their hospitality exchanged, the roadrunners departed. All were in a state of wondrous ecstasy.
Three days passed. Roswell and Roxanne, having found Galahad’s sister, Galatea and her mate, Geronimo, brought them to reunite. It was a most unexpected and happy occasion. Before leaving, Roswell explained, “We will leave you to visit for a few days and then return for the trip back for a gathering at our home.”
Rhoda came that same day to see Hortense. They went to Rhoda’s hide-a-way where they talked and shared their secret thoughts.
Rhoda confided, “Rodney and Bobby Beeper are spending some time observing the middle-aged couple. They seem receptive to their appearances. They laughed and talked sweetly to them.” A recent visit had taken place on the highway across from the couple’s home. All that is visible is the mailbox and dirt road leading to their adobe-styled home. Rodney and Bobby Beeper began having second thoughts about appearing at the couple’s home site. Cruising on the highways was a normal and acceptable pastime for the roadrunners. But to intrude on another’s privacy might create a real problem. What if the couple mentioned it to the folks in town? It might just backfire. So they scratched the idea, at least for a while.
“There is something else I need to tell you before your visit with our clan.” It concerned a young, lonely coyote the roadrunners had taken under their wings. He was still with them, growing and thriving. The first time he appeared he just sat there watching them. Then to keep their attention, he would chase his tail, roll over, anything to show his friendly manner. When he began to think his attempts were futile, he gave a soft mournful cry. The roadrunners realized then as he turned slowly to walk away totally dejected that he was in need of friends and help. They ran after him cooing and fluttering and took him under their wings. He has been with them ever since.
This young coyote was called Cronus who in Greek mythology was the son of Zeus. When he went to live amongst the roadrunners, he chose a simple name that he liked. Cody had left all the misery he had endured under the female pack leader, Cayna. She had grown to be a cruel tyrant. There was constant physical violence and loud snarling noises as long as Cody could remember. To him that was normal until he secretly watched the roadrunners’ happy way of life. His own mother had mysteriously disappeared. Several of his pack had left earlier usually with their mates or another member of the pack. Even the male packs had ceased to come around except the mangy lot who had been exiled from their own packs.
Cody was to learn of the strange disappearance of his mother long after he had been with the roadrunners. Cayna had killed and buried her. Cayna was always jealous of his mother. She knew his mother was much smarter and would have been a far better pack leader. She also plotted to kill Cronus but waited for an opportunity. Somehow Cody realized instinctively he would have to leave even before he found the roadrunners.
One day Cayna in her usual rage threatened the five remaining in the pack. “If you don’t do as I say, you will die and be buried just like Cronus’ mother!” So now they knew the truth. That very night they left with three children and Cayna’s remaining son. She had never been a mother to any of her children; never to even nurse them. Nor did she do anything but let them wait on her. This was a completely abnormal pack leader.
A coyote is one of numerous, carnivorous mammals related to the dog who usually hunt in packs. A coyote is also referred to as a prairie wolf. Legend is that the ancient Indians admired and respected them as comrades. Who knows, they may have even hunter together?
Cayna awakened and wondered what they brought back for her breakfast. She was ravenous. As she left her den she heard total silence. Usually when they hunted one or two would stay to watch over the children. Frantically, she ran about and called out for them. No one, no sound, answered her calls. She returned and crouched in front of her den. Her mind went from extreme anger to panic, fear, and self-pity. “What am I going to do? I can’t take care of myself. I’ve forgotten how to hunt for food.” Soon she felt nauseous along with dizziness and trembled involuntarily. “I’ve got to get hold of myself!” Then she remembered that there were herbs all around her to ease her pains. Edible plants as well. She began to feel much better. “I’m a pack leader and my survival depends on me. I’ll think about it tomorrow.” When darkness fell, she retreated to her den and gazed at a beautiful full moon. The sky was aglitter with brilliant stars. She felt an urge to howl at the peace and quietness she had never experienced before. Instead, she enjoyed the moment in silence.
In a few days with practice all her skills returned to her. She knew that she could not remain there much longer. “What if that mangy lot of thieves comes back? Or the males from my own pack?” She decided to take a new name and chose Chloe. “If I’m to have a new life, everything must change.” All that she could remember from her childhood was violence and extreme cruelty. When she became a pack leader she used those same evil ways. She could not forget finding Cronus’ mother dead from snakebite and burying her. Had she revealed her death they would have thought she killed her. Later, she would use her death as a threat to keep them in line. Chloe was doing a lot of soul searching as she had gazed at the moon and stars. It brought her inner peace and she vowed to rid her evil ways for kindness in a genuine loving manner.
A couple of days passed when suddenly she saw four coyotes approaching. They saw her too and gave a friendly greeting. “Hi, my name is Clovis. These are my sons, Carlsbad and Canyon. And this is our Cutie Pie. No relation but like one of the family.” Cutie Pie went directly up to Chloe. “So happy to meet you.” And gave her a tender hug and kiss. Chloe was so delighted. Never had she been given such affection. “My name is Chloe and you are most welcome! Please make yourselves at home. I’m alone now and certainly could enjoy your company.”
Clovis explained, “We are a free-styled, traveling family. So were my parents. To us, it is a happy and adventurous life. We’ve seen so much of this land. It is so vast. We call ourselves explorers. Our abode is wherever we are. It is a carefree, exciting life.”
A short distance away Cutie Pie and the two lads were frolicking and laughing and doing silly little antics. Clovis chuckled and so did Chloe to her surprise. Never had she seen or heard anything like this. It was a heartwarming sensation that she quickly embraced.
Someone yawned, then they all yawned. It was siesta time. Cutie Pie cuddled up to Chloe while the fellows found a spot nearby in the warm sun and gentle breeze. When they awakened, the fellows took off to bring back some food.
Again that evening as Clovis and Chloe were stargazing he said, “Since you are alone we would love to have you join us in our travels especially Cutie Pie who needs female companionship. She is already very taken with you.”
Chloe humbly spoke, “Thank you very much but I must first tell you of my sordid past.” And so she began to reveal all the details of her horrid life. The pack had suffered because of her cruel dominance.
“Chloe, you knew no other way in your life. This is all in your past. A bright and happy future awaits you. Actually, you had already began this transformation on your own and, yes, we still want you very much to go with us.”
Without hesitation Chloe replied, “Oh yes, and I will always be grateful to you for giving me this second chance.”
“You deserve it. I do think we should leave sometime tomorrow. We usually take it slowly the first few days and that will help you to get use to the new traveling life you will soon encounter.”
They left as the sun began to rise. A short time later, they came upon several roadrunners that gave them a friendly greeting. That seemed strange to them. So they reciprocated in a kindly gesture. As they came over a rise that evening, they saw the city of Albuquerque with its bright lights…billions of them. From there they detoured southwest and viewed an Indian Reservation called Isleta. It was stunning and unique to watch the tribe in their daily routine. From there they went their merry way knowing someday that they would return to this site.
Meanwhile, some of the horned toads had their visit with the roadrunners. Again, they all took delight in the music making. Galahad’s sister, Galatea, and Geronimo had decided to live with them. After all they were immediate family. Hortense and her visitors enjoyed the first meeting with Cody, the coyote. He was so gentle and well mannered. They crawled all over him; best grooming job he ever had. They even used their long tongues to clean his ears! He was intrigued with their musical sounds and joined in with a muffled sing along. These visits would continue when the weather permitted. Of course, Hortense and Rhoda would see each other more often. Several times they watched Rodney and Bobby Beeper go cruising. They pointed out where the middle-aged couple lived and heard them call each other Carole and Ray.
Cody continued to fill out and mature into an outstanding credit to his species. Something was missing however. The roadrunners had for some time encouraged him to experience life without any “apron strings”. That this was his home forever and that he should feel free to go and come as he pleased. He started going on many excursions learning new skills and developing his own natural instincts. He would be gone for several days. It especially pleased him at night to see the moon and brilliant stars. It gave him tranquility and confidence but still, something was missing. The very next morning he came upon a fresh water hole. As he lapped the cool water, he saw a very furry creature in the brush. As he quietly bent over this stranger, it yawned, stretched, and he gazed into the most beautiful blue eyes he had ever seen.
“Hi, guess I overslept a bit.”
Cody was momentarily speechless. She quickly shook her body and he could see her long ruff around her neck and bushy tail that curled over her back.
She quickly eased in, “Relax. My name is Cindy. I’m half coyote and my father is a domesticated dog breed called Siberian Husky. I’m the splitting image of him.”
Cody immediately apologized for creeping up on her but thought she might be in trouble or worse. She thanked him for his concern. They spent most of the day strolling in the area.
Cindy proceeded to tell Cody, “We are a fairly large pack but there are no pack leaders. We are united in almost perfect harmony. One can go and come as they please. My father, Sandy, was raised from a tiny puppy by a wealthy couple who own a large mountain estate further up in the Sandia Mountains. The couple are well known writers. They have a full staff that takes care of the place. Also, there is a Siamese cat called Shan and several riding horses. They are devoted friends.”
Cindy continued, “How my parents met I don’t really know. Never thought to ask. My mother’s name is Carla. My siblings are the only litter my parents have ever had. There are seven of us. Our father, Sandy, visits occasionally but always in the daytime. He can’t stay very long but is welcomed by all the pack. Everyone admires and respects him. He is kind and thoughtful. He brings us some of his old toys, especially balls. Once he brought an unopened box of Milk Bones that we all enjoyed. Carla and Sandy both knew they came from two entirely different worlds. So they created a little world all for themselves and their offspring. It was risky for Sandy in several ways. First, he loved his parents, Curt and Maria, and also the Siamese cat, Shan. It bothered him to think this was a sneaky pastime not worthy of his true feelings of love and loyalty. By eliminating the word ‘risk’ in exchange for ‘caution’, it gave him a greater sense of security. Also, he had discovered a shortcut to visit Carla’s den. It took less than fifteen minutes to get there. Things were looking better…much, much better!”
Cindy stood up and shook her massive fur, as did Cody. They walked over to the water hole and lapped the cool water. They aimlessly walked for a while. Soon they found a nice shady spot and Cindy said, “Now, it’s your turn, Cody. Tell me something about yourself.”
Shyly Cody spoke, “I was born into a very dysfunctional pack whose female leader was totally neurotic. My mother, Colleen, planned to leave when I became older. Don’t know whom my father was but I was always told he would come back someday. Things got worse. My mother disappeared and never returned. Eventually, I was taken in and raised by a flock of roadrunners. They taught me well. I’m still with them and always will be. They are my family.”
“Wow! That is so neat! Imagine…living with those sweet, adorable roadrunners. We share the same area and have a friendly relationship. It’s getting late. I must go home now! This was my first time alone here and I’d better not goof up.”
Hurriedly she said she would come back soon either with her mother or a couple of her siblings and spend the night. “So pleased to meet you, Cody. I think we have a lot in common. I can’t wait to tell Mom about our meeting. Hope to see you soon. Bye for now.”
Cody stood there with his mouth agape and watched a little cloud of dust follow her. He spent the night there and would continue his explorations with a sense of eagerness in his quest. Cindy would sneak into his thoughts now and then but he knew to keep an optimistic viewpoint on this matter.
An unusual revelation had occurred with the five remaining, mangy lot. It had become increasingly hazardous to rob the farms and ranches of their livestock. People were alerted by their guard dogs and came out shooting. On one particular night, the unseen owner was sitting on his porch with his guard dogs. Gunfire commenced within seconds. They retreated instantly. Later they discovered one was missing half of his tail. Another had five holes in his ear shaped like a star. All of them were badly grazed. When they had healed they thought it a divine omen representing the five of them in the star-shaped ear of their comrade. They made a solemn oath to mend their ways and become respectable. It was not easy, but they all tried very hard.
One day while attempting to forage for a meal a voice behind them asked, “Need some help, boys?” They turned to face an older lone prairie wolf. “Guess we’re a little rusty at this. Certainly could use some pointers for sure!”
In no time they were sharing a meal with the helpful stranger. He had observed the five holes in the one’s ear and now with the bright sunshine it lit up like a star. He also noticed the one with half a tail, but never asked about the obvious. He indeed was very articulate and charismatic and they admired him.
One of the five spoke, “Must tell you, uh, until recently, we were a pretty mangy lot and the scourge of the prairie.” Then they told the whole story of their past lives and their vows to change and atone their ways for goodness to all. The old stranger listened calmly then said, “You can call me Pappy if you’d like. That’s the name I’m known by. My real name is Peter.”
In the days that followed, they grew very close. It occurred to Pappy that this was more fun than living alone. “If they can change, so can I!” Little did he know they were thinking the same thing. That very day, Pappy suggested, “How would you like to call me Paw-Paw? I think of you as my five wonderful sons.” They readily agreed. “Now we are a family!” he said joyfully.
They too had chosen new names as they thought the silly nicknames they went by were fine for youngsters but not for “respectable adults.” Each told their new name to Paw-Paw.
“My name is Starr.”
“I am known as Woodrow.”
“Just call me Forest.”
Cody returned to the place where he had met Cindy ten days before. He left a trail of his scent especially in the direction of the dust whirls she had created when she left. In the early mornings he would scout around the area and soon discovered a remote cave entrance. Inside was a fairly large space. To his surprise he heard and smelled water cascading in the rocks. It was apparent the cave had never been used. What luck!
On the fourth day he saw a large cloud of dust coming towards him. It was Cindy and three others. He took off to greet them.
“Hi Cody! Good to see you again! This is my mother, Carla and my brothers, Charles and Chester.” They exchanged friendly salutations and spent most of the day discussing their family life. In no time they all felt very comfortable with each other.
Carla said, “Cody, I’m sorry we must go back in the morning. I have a feeling Sandy might come in. Why don’t you come with us?”
“Oh, yes, please come!” urged Cindy and her brothers. Without hesitation Cody agreed but explained it would have to be a short visit as he needed to return to his beloved roadrunner family. “They are no doubt expecting my return.”
As the dawn began to break they left. Cody noticed the landscape gradually changing as they ascended the slopes. Pine trees appeared and other plants that he had never seen filled the ground still wet from the dew. It was a beautiful sight, Cody thought.
“Well, here we are, Cody.”
Cindy led him to her family’s den. Her siblings came to greet them and meet Cindy’s new friend. Behind them was Sandy.
“Had a hunch you would come.” Sandy spoke. As Cindy and Sandy tenderly nestled each other, Cindy introduced Cody to her father and her other siblings. Cody was very impressed with this magnificent looking dog. Truly, Cindy looked just like him except he naturally was much larger. Sandy’s sky-blue eyes and the silver-gray and white of his fur were superb. His personality reflected an easy-going nature.
Carla noticed Cody glance around as if wondering where the others of her pack were. “Usually when we have a guest for the first time they will honor our privacy. Believe me, they are all around us but you can’t see them.”
All too soon, Sandy had to return home and Cody left soon after. They asked him to come back. He, in turn thanked them for their hospitality and, yes that he enjoyed meeting them and would visit again. Cody took his time, carefully surveying the land and its inhabitants. He was pleased to see roadrunners and horned toads about the land as he returned to the hidden cave to do more research in its possibilities. The next day he headed home to his beloved roadrunner family and gave a full account of his intriguing adventure with Cindy and her family. He was fully aware that he had a long way to go to become an experienced, well-adjusted coyote adult. Friendship exceeded any romantic notions. Besides, he would want both before he ever had a mate.
There were more increasing social activities and travel ventures with the horned toads and roadrunners. Several had gone to visit the place where Cindy and Cody had met. Also, Cody took Cindy along with her two brothers to meet his roadrunner family. Then there was the melodious music that filled the air with peace and content. A phenomenon of nature’s gift undetectable to its locale.
Cody continued many trips to visit Cindy and her family. He met their pack that welcomed him as one of their own. He asked permission to bring two of his roadrunners along on his next visit. “Any family or friend of yours is welcomed here any time. We consider you as our own!”
On his next trip, Cody brought Rodney and Bobby Beeper. Cindy’s father, Sandy, was already there.
“Well, well, well…look who’s here! It’s Pappy, the gay philosopher and his sons.” Sandy’s calm and patient nature complimented his practical wisdom and great sense of humor. Another redeeming quality was his listening to others. Sandy enjoyed seeing Pappy and sons again. He was also very intrigued with Rodney and Bobby Beeper. He stayed longer than he intended as he was having such a good time. Pappy and his sons, as well as, Cody and the two roadrunners spent the night. Cody was to learn many things on this trip, especially that the place where he and Cindy met was a stopover haven for travelers. No wonder it appeared uninhabited. It was a custom that travelers would keep it clean as they found it. Later the next day, Pappy, Cody, and their entourage returned to Travelers Haven. He showed them the hidden cave. Was it possible the waterfall was feeding the nice water hole they had used outside? Hmmm. Naturally, Cody scratched any ideas since he learned it was a traveler’s rest stopover.
Towards dusk, Starr and Taylor started rehearsing their newly discovered pantomime talents. Such comedians they were! When they finished Woodrow and Forest began to sing. They sounded like two violins to a beautiful melody. The fifth son, Vernon, had acquired all the aptitudes of Paw-Paw. This was a natural instinct to bring laughter, joy, and happiness to all creatures.
They left in the morning for Cody’s home with the roadrunners. Suddenly they heard music before sight of anyone. Cody excitedly said, “Great! The horned toads are here. You’re in for a real treat!” As they strolled into view Forest and Woodrow joined in with the others. The new sounds did not go unnoticed and continued for several refrains. Cody introduced Pappy and his five sons to his roadrunner family and their horned toad guests. He then asked Starr and Taylor, the comedians, to give a pantomimic comedy performance, which they were very pleased to do before a live audience. The laughter and joy was exhilarating. It was so funny!
Meanwhile, Clovis, Chloe, his sons, and Cutie Pie were exploring the southeastern land of the Manzana Mountains. Clovis abruptly announced, “We must leave at once! A miraculous event is about to occur close to where we met you, Chloe. It is something we wouldn’t want to miss. Believe me!” Clovis was endowed with a nature gift, extrasensory perception or ESP. His mother suffered from this gift too. That is why they traveled and never made permanent contact with their kind. Even so, it led her to an early demise. Clovis learned to cope with it by suppressing the bad images and concentrating on the good. “Why be a worrywart?” he always said. Soon they were on their way.
Clovis looked back to the day he had found Cutie Pie. It was obvious she had no memory. Nevertheless, she was a joy to all of them. One day she announced she had chosen a new name, “It shall be Celeste. Cutie Pie is a fine family pet name but not for one approaching adulthood. What do you think?” Chloe assuredly whispered, “It’s lovely. Just as you are.”
Other thoughts crossed Clovis’ mind. The Manzana Mountains would be an ideal place for a family to settle down. Time would tell. He was also having visions of his longtime friend, Pappy. He could see that Pappy would be there but with five other younger coyotes. “Good! Perhaps he’s no longer a lone prairie wolf.”
That evening they all gazed at a full moon and starlit sky. One star passed by in the direction to where they were going. They softly howled in joyful praise until it went out of sight. “Life is good. We have so much to be thankful for. All the creatures in this world.”
Carole and Ray aroused early on particular morning. It was still dark outside. They planned to have breakfast at their favorite café, take care of several errands, and do some shopping. They had bought a new car but kept the truck for work purposes. As they drove the car on the gravel road the sun began to shine brightly. Then something became aglitter with sparkles encased in a transparent oval-shaped bubble of considerable size directly in their view across the highway. A car drove by oblivious to this apparition.
“What the heck is that!”
Carole excitedly acknowledged, “Do you see what I see?”
Ray stopped the motor and for a few seconds they both sat looking this most unusual sight. Slowly, they walked towards this vision and began to hear music and see movement translating into meaningful words. As they drew closer the bubble had disappeared and they could plainly see several swaying horned toads. Others were under the wings of roadrunners and some were on the backs of coyotes. The music translated this message to Carole and Ray.
“Every living creature and plan on this earth are designed in the Divine Master Plan. One cannot exist without the other except in perfect harmony. The two of you are chosen in this secret awareness. This will gradually diminish in your human minds and seem like a dream or an old memory. We give homage to your sharing.”
The music stopped. Rodney and Bobby Beeper escorted Carole and Ray along with Hortense and Rhoda to greet the enchanting creatures. They mingled among them with tender, loving gestures in complete acceptance and understanding. They stood there as the enchanting creatures slowly departed until they were out of sight and in silence.
Ray finally said, “Carole, let’s go have brunch. I don’t know about you but I have this incredible hankering for enchiladas con huevos.”
“Great! Then we can go home to absorb what just happened and talk in our own privacy.”
Eventually everything connected. They would see Rodney and Bobby Beeper cruising along side them. They would talk and gesture to them in the same manner as always. Yes, indeed, life was good. In spite of many social and traumatic flaws, nature and all the enchanting creatures of the world would prevail forever and ever.