Thomas Doty – Storyteller
Coyote and Doctor Doggerel
Coyote and I saunter into Klamath Falls for the big poetry show: Doctor Doggerel, popular cowboy poet and former large animal veterinarian. Coyote didn't want to go, but I insisted.
"A tidbit of culture will be good for you," I say.
In the theater, Coyote glances sheepishly around. He starts to fidget. "There's a lot of ranchers in here," he says.
"What's wrong with that?" I ask
"Cowpokes make me nervous. They like us coyotes far less than we like their sheep."
Now the house lights dim. Now the spotlight circles the lip of the stage. In a booming of applause, the great doctor of verse bellies up to the podium.
As Doctor Doggerel starts his sing-song, Coyote feels sick. At first he thinks it's his pet tapeworms he keeps in his stomach. Maybe they're having a verbal joust. But as the good doctor croons, "Every cowboy needs a stout pickup and a good dog and a good woman," Coyote is dead-sure his nerves have convinced his stomach into flip-flops.
"Ohhhhh," moans Coyote, and a dozen ten gallon hats turn his way.
"Ohhhhh ... ohhhhh...."
Doctor Doggerel halts in mid-ditty. He stares through the funnel of light and spots the culprit. In a semi-polite voice aimed at me, he says, "So, friend, is your dog all right?"
"I think he's nervous around all these people," I say.
"Well," says Doctor Doggerel. "I'm a former large animal vet, you know, and he sounds sick to me. When's the last time you had him wormed?"
Coyote leaps out of his chair. "I'm not sick!" he snaps. "And I don't need your advice. I'm not a dog. I'm not even a former large animal. I'm Coyote, and I'm less fond of doggerel than sheep!"
In a flash, Coyote zigzags toward the exit like he's being shot at. In Coyote's mind, every cowboy eye aimed at him might as well be staring down a rifle barrel. He disappears into the night, and doesn't stop dodging bullets until he's out of town, over the first ridge, and into the sunset. I follow Coyote, relieved to be out of the hot seat.
Out in the sage, Coyote's tapeworms start shouting for mutton. He steers toward the first sheep ranch in sight. He's happy to be away from the vet and back in the saddle.
Edition 1.0 (February, 2012).
Drawings & Photo by Thomas Doty.
Website © 1997- by Thomas Doty.