PECOS BILL AND THE WILLFUL COYOTE
By William C. White
From Story (1943)
THE GREAT LEGENDARY cowboy of Texas, Pecos Bill, used to sing of himself,
Oh, I’m wild and woolly
And full of fleas,
Ain’t never been curried
Below the knees.
I’m a wild she-wolf
From Bitter Creek
And it’s my night
No one of the many stories tells precisely what happened to him at the end of his career. They don’t tell because no one knows except Panhandle Pete who was there and he wouldn’t talk until just recently.
Here, for the first time, is Pete’s story.
There were a lot of things Pecos Bill used to like, Pete says, and liquor and women and the smell of sagebrush and the way the prairie looked in spring and shooting and riding and singing and the taste of beef broiled over a little outdoor fire were just a few of the things he liked. But I guess what he liked best was hunting coyotes. Ever since he’d been a small boy he’d chased coyotes, trapped coyotes, shot coyotes, thrown rocks at coyotes, and run them ragged on foot until they dropped, with their tongues hanging out. “They’re smart animules,” Bill always said. “It’s a test of a man’s intelligence to out-think ‘em.”
As Bill got older and his wind wasn’t so good any more he had to give up chasing coyotes, that is, until Baby came along.
Kate and I met at the Pilsen for supper on my twentysecond birthday. It was May, and unseasonably hot. I’d opened my tie. Even before looking at the dinner menu, we ordered a bottle of Mumm’s and a dozen oysters apiece. Rudi made a sly remark when he brought the oysters on platters of ice. They were freshly opened and smelled of the sea. I’d heard people joke about oysters being aphrodisiac but never considered it anything but a myth–the kind of idea they still had in the old country.
We squeezed on lemon, added dabs of horseradish, slid the oysters into our mouths, and then rinsed the shells with champagne and drank the salty, cold juice.