The Woman and the Coyote

            A woman was once walking through the forest, when she came upon a coyote stuck in a trap. Earlier, she thought she had heard the wrangling of chains and a ghostly whimper off in the distance, whispering through the woods, but she wasn’t so sure. When she first spotted the four-legged canine, as she topped a rooty hill occluded by trees, the coyote had its eyes cast downwards, but before it even seemed able to see her, it cleared its throat, and with a concealed smile, readied to speak.

            “Oh, you poor thing! How dreadful that device is, fastened to your leg,” the woman exclaimed. Looking down at the slightly rusted iron teeth, she felt a shudder pass through her body. Caught in the ghastly trap as it was, the coyote would certainly die a cruel death, and so she wanted to help it in some way, but felt too nervous to approach such a wide, toothy grin. Despite the wariness coyotes have of humans in general, she did not want to risk getting bit. Hence, she wasn’t sure what to do, but then the coyote spoke.

            “If you help me out of this trap with your thumbs, I will grant you the one thing you desire most.”

            “And how will I know you will keep your word once free?” she queried in reply.

            “Ah yes, we coyotes can be a wily bunch, as you very well know,” it cackled and recalled, “but here, take the tip of my tail, my most prized possession, second only to my wit. Return it to me only once I satisfy my promise to you.” And with that, the coyote chewed off the black end of its tail and laid it at the foot of the woman. “You can blindfold me too with your scarf if you please, but only if you remember to remove it once you have freed me, and then I will see to your greatest desire, whatever it may be.” And with that, the coyote closed its eyes and mouth, then laid down as well as it could.

            Despite her nerves, the woman mustered up enough courage to blindfold the fusty creature, before scooping up the tip of its tail and putting it in her dress pocket. She then approached the iron trap from the rear, and with her hands at either end of the torturous apparatus, applied just enough pressure to unfetter the coyote from its prison, who removed its leg quietly and sat still without a fuss, waiting for her to undo the blindfold before speaking again.

            “Thank you, dear woman. Now, what is it that you desire more than anything else?”

            She thought of money, power, fame, men, status, beauty, food, children, respect, and sex, but all she could say was, “Contentment.”

            “And what is contentment but to desire nothing? It is yours already!” the coyote yelped. And with that, the furry ruffian scampered off with a laugh.

            “You oaf!” she shouted after him. “Contentment is satisfaction, not the absence of desire. What about our bargain?”

            Once out of sight, an ethereal voice sounded off in the distance, “It’s yours already! You can keep the tail!”