Dusk drifting to dark, they drove from the redwood grove back to Mariposa. A ghostly coyote looked down from a parallel ridge at the loving couple. In the car he tuned the radio to another preaching rant and felt that otherness which comes from being far from home. Connected, comfortable and still in that drenched happy place with each other, they passed silently through the darkening stone valleys leading out of the park.
That morning they’d missed Michael’s soufflé at their welcoming yet claustrophobic B&B. Michael’s wife was not impressed when their delay had caused it to collapse, much like her own estimation of the happy couple who’d been dancing and drinking tequila the night before in a cowboy shoot’em up bar. They giggled and asked politely for forgiveness and coffee, it was faux remorse but they needed the coffee which they drank with the humming birds in the garden. They heard Michael chopping in the shed and he was glad this was their last day in Mariposa.
Arm around her waist or holding her hand, they had wandered through huge shaded places, laughing at the “do not touch” californiication on a thousand year old tree. Even at Mirror Lake where unusually, the mosquitoes chose him over her, they still petted as they had done since landing in San Jose, emptying from a DC9 with a happy gospel choir, with whom they lit up together on the tarmac, continuing to smoke while the hysterical attendant shouted at them. Dionne Warwick sang Burt Baccarah in his head, his eyes fought a loosing battle against the west coast white light and the sun warmed his back.
First it was her scarlet ribbon flashing in a Dunnes Stores display window and like that beating crimson red wing in Michael’s garden, it caught him dead, that exquisite movement, the turn and flicker and later the probing delicate tongue. He thought again about the lonely coyote, and wondered about his solitary existence, his search for sustenance and love.