Friday, February 26, 2021

Coyote Summer Tour and Giveaway

 


Coyote Summer
by Laura Koerber
Genre: Magical Realism, Coming of Age


Ben O’Rourke, his best friend Clint, and their classmate Claire were supposed to grow up to be wealthy, prominent people like their parents. They were private school kids, raised in the belief that they were obliged to turn expensive educations into prestigious positions in society. Actually, more than that. They were entitled to prestigious positions—at the top.

Clint had done that by winning his dad’s seat in Congress. Benny didn’t know anything about Claire, except she’d never married and she still lived in Camden. Right there in Clint’s district.

Ben was nervous. His voice had to reach across the Rocky Mountains, across the Great Plains, and all the way to Wisconsin. And it had to reach across nearly forty years and who-knows-what changes and pain as well. Did it mean anything that Claire never got married? Girls who went to Saint Anne’s were brought up to get married.

As the phone rang, Ben’s memory returned to the past…and the two girls who’d rerouted his life the summer before college. An assault on Claire right after their high school graduation had led Ben to struggle with right, wrong, and his place in society; while his first love, Puppy, taught him there was much more to life than a prep school upbringing…maybe even things that floated beyond the realm of human understanding.



   Every star in heaven was out that night. Every single star from the brightest and most glaring to the softest and faintest. Together they made interwoven skeins, almost like smoke but shiny, in an arc across the blackness of the universe. I carefully tilted back my head and looked up. Amazing, I thought. Stars all over. Some were lone rangers, sparkling in solitary splendor while others gathered in groups and patterns and sparkled together like choral singers. Others were so far away and so faint that they were like silvery dust. I thought maybe somewhere out there intelligent life was looking down here at me. Me, the fuckup. 

     I had no idea how I was going to get home. I was out in the boonies somewhere, sitting in a ditch by a gravel road that obviously didn’t get much traffic after dark. I couldn’t see much, but I had the impression of trees on the far side of the road and a pasture on the near side, an impression based mostly on smell. The near side smelled of damp grass and manure and the far side smelled like the ravine behind my house: leaves, bark, moss, dirt. I saw no lights which meant there was no farm nearby or, at least, not one with anyone up late. The one bit of good news was that most of my spewing had gone all over the inside of the Mustang and not on me. I had some puke on my sleeve from wiping my face and some on my knees from I don’t know how, but my chest was clean of vomit. And my hair. So at least I wouldn’t be covered with puke when I found someone to help me. But I probably stank from the skunk weed and the cigarettes. Icky. 

     I negotiated my way very carefully out of the roadside ditch mostly by crawling. Once I felt the gravel under my hands, I carefully hoisted myself upright again and stood swaying, but balanced, until I felt more or less stable. Then I started to walk. I had to go slowly because the road was rising and falling beneath my feet, and my toes kept catching on the gravel. My knees were as wobbly as Jello. I was aware of my bones, my joints, and my head bobbin’ along at the end of my neck. I had to conserve my energy, too, because it was going to be a long walk home. 

     But it felt good to be upright and to have enough control to move. It actually felt good to shamble along. And I liked the clean, cool feel of the night air sliding by my hot forehead and sighing in and out of my burnt lungs. The air, scents, stars, and blackness all mixed together around me and inside me, healing me. All I had to do was keep moving and I’d be okay and I would never, ever screw myself up with too much booze again. And then I saw the coyote.



Laura started off life as an artist. Even in early elementary school she could draw with near-photo realism. She liked to tell herself stories while driving, or doing boring tasks such as housework, but never thought of herself as a writer. That is, until she got involved in the rescue of an abused dog. Her first book, a collection of short stories entitled The Dog Thief, made the Kirkus Review list of one hundred best indy publications and set her on a course of writing. With one exception, her subsequent novels are in the genre of fantasy, though four have themes relating to current events, and three are also dystopias. Wild Hare, the story of a half/man-half/nature spirit and his feud with the local civic powers also made the Kirkus Review “best of” list. The exception, I Once Was Lost But Now Am Found, is the nonfiction account of the largest dog rescue in the US to succeed without help of local authorities. Laura is a retired teacher and lives on an island in Puget Sound with her husband; her one-eyed cat; and her elderly, disabled and chronically grumpy shih tzu. She is volunteers at a rescue for unadoptable cats.





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