Coyote Country

Flash Fiction

Remember what you were told about the proper greeting.  You must not look him directly in the eye.  You must not speak unless you are asked a direct question.  You must do what you are told.  This is very important.  Sometimes your mind wanders and you say what you are thinking.  You know this is true.  Listen.  You must do what you are told.

Flash Fiction by Sean Keck


You must make sure both lights are on by the back door before you knock.  If no light is on, no one is home.  If one light is on, he’s with somebody else.  Remember what you were told about the proper greeting.  You must not look him directly in the eye.  You must not speak unless you are asked a direct question.  You must do what you are told.  This is very important.  Sometimes your mind wanders and you say what you are thinking.  You know this is true.  Listen.  You must do what you are told.  You must not cry.  You must not complain.  You must not beg.  You have the papers?  You have the money?  Here is the food.  It is not much.  Some old bread and the last of the pickled onions.  But you should spread it out if you can.  You have a long walk before you get there.  Here is the beet juice.  No matter how hungry you are, do not drink it.  Do not.  You must not take a ride from anyone.  If you see a car coming, get off the road.  Stay in the woods until it’s gone.  If someone is going to catch you, swish the beet juice around in your mouth.  Spit and cough the way you were shown.  Shake and tremble like you can’t control your body.  This might save you.  If that doesn’t work, if a man catches you, you may have to do the other things.  Do not fight unless there is no other way.  If you fight, you will probably lose.  It will be worse then.  Keep the razor blade hidden in the sole of your shoe.  That is not a weapon.  If there is no escape, that is for you.  Now listen.  If you make it to the house, how many lights must be on before you knock?  You must make sure both lights are on by the back door before you knock.  You must do what the coyote says.  This is your only chance.


Sean Keck is Assistant Professor of English at Radford University, where he teaches American literature, creative writing, and film. His research explores literary encounters with other media (audio and film), with particular interest in representations of race and the environment. He has published articles in ESQ, The Mark Twain Annual, and The Wallace Stevens Journal. His fiction and poetry appear in Blue Earth Review, Concho River Review, Eclipse, Post Road, The Worcester Review, and others.

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