Lunch with Coyote
I had been studying capoeira for about two-and-a-half months when I suffered a minor, but annoying knee injury. For those who aren't familiar with it, capoeira is a very active, acrobatic martial art. Most of the attacks are kicks, and much of the movement involves spinning, cartwheeling and such like. In short, it's very physically demanding. A knee injury, even a minor one, had the potential to sideline me for a week or more while it healed. I had been going to class consistently twice a week, and really did not relish the thought of having to start skipping class, setting back both my training and my conditioning.
To add insult to injury, I didn't even hurt myself playing capoeira. I took a bad step on a slope while playing miniature golf.
Anyway, I was limping my way through a grocery store the day after the injury, seeking lunch before heading off to play Changeling. As I passed the deli area trying to decide on a sandwich, I felt a head poke up and a familiar voice say, "Chicken?" Coyote had noticed the pile of fried chicken under the heat lamp, and since I was going to eat soon anyway, he wanted to throw in his two cents.
"Actually, I was thinking of a turkey sandwich maybe." I responded mentally.
"But . . . chicken!" I had to smile at that. It was a simple argument, mostly because he didn't see any competition between the two. How could I possibly want turkey when there was chicken? It occurred to me that I had not had any chicken on Coyote's behalf recently, so I indulged him and ordered about a half-dozen pieces. He began dancing around happily, and suggesting possible side dishes.
I didn't need the side dishes, but his dancing around reminded me: he's a healer. "You know," I interrupted his dance, "as long as you're going to hang around while I eat chicken for you, you could at least heal my leg."
He stopped and stared at me with a smile. My knee immediately felt better. I'd never actually asked anything of him before, and I think it surprised him. "Sure," he said with a big grin. "But if I'm going to heal you I want to eat the chicken myself."
By that I knew he meant invocation (or if you prefer, "channeling" or "possession"). I had never invoked Coyote before, but felt that I had a pretty good relationship with him. Still, I had to think about it for a minute.
"Okay," I told him. "Here's the deal. I'll let you come through and eat the chicken and you heal my leg in time for me to play capoeira on Monday."
"Okay," he agreed cheerfully. He could hardly wait while we went to a little outdoor place (well, a bench by the sidewalk, anyway) near the site of the game to make a picnic out of it.
That I hadn't been sitting thirty seconds when my bottle of orange juice fell to the sidewalk and shattered may have just been an accident. Coyote and I hadn't discussed beverages and if he did it he didn't admit to it.
I didn't make a complex ritual out of the invocation. He was chomping at the bit to get going, so I just took a deep breath, relaxed, and let it happen.
Coyote took a deep breath and looked around at the apartment complex surrounding us and the blue sky before smiling at my girlfriend (a Coyote priestess in her own right. In fact, she took advantage of the opportunity to give Coyote a little kiss before he left) and snatching the first piece of chicken from the bag. With a big, silly grin he sniffed at it before tearing off the first bite. Deciding it was perfect he used his foreteeth to methodically strip all the flesh from the chicken leg. He examined it for a moment to make sure he'd gotten it all before letting it fall and moving on to the next piece.
He was on the third piece when the yellowjackets showed up, drawn by the spilt orange juice and the fried chicken. Coyote would have none of that. He narrowed one eye and turned slowly to glare at them. Shaking a finger at them for emphasis he said, "You stay away from my chicken. It's *my* chicken. You can have the orange juice." The yellowjackets did not immediately comply and Coyote wanted to chase them away.
"No, Coyote!" I yelled within my own head. "I know that story! You don't need to retell it for me this way!" My girlfriend verbally echoed the sentiment, reminding him that he'd already had an adventure with bees and didn't need another one.
I was relieved that our words appeared to placate him. He settled back in his seat and went back to the chicken, though he did keep an eye on the yellowjackets.
And he did enjoy that chicken. He ate slowly, dragging it out and making sure he got every tiny piece of the meat, simply dropping the finished bones to land where they might.
I think he was on his last piece when a couple of my friends drove by. They were arriving at the apartment complex for the Changeling game as well. Coyote wanted to run over and say hello. He particularly wanted to play a joke on one of them (another who reveres Coyote, even having a coyote skull which I believe is part of an altar).
"No, Coyote!" I yelled again from within. "You're just here to eat chicken, remember? If you want to play a joke on him you have to leave me first. That wasn't part of the agreement!"
He humphed a bit that I didn't let him have fun, but let it go and finished the chicken. He also got his paws good and greasy, though he made sure to lick them clean before her left. (I'm told they even looked rather like paws, the way my fingers and thumbs were held in pretty tightly and curled slightly.) He was pretty good about leaving afterwards. He tried to drum up an excuse or two to stick around, but didn't object when I stuck to my guns.
He was well enough behaved that I ate more chicken for him that night, chicken strips this time, even letting him come through to eat one of them. He took advantage of that by drinking most of my soda and letting out a loud belch that might have been embarrassing if I'd been anywhere but Arbys.
The knee felt a bit better on Sunday, but it still hurt and felt weak. On Monday, it was better, but I still had to be gentle with it because it would tweak easily. I spent the day wondering what to do, whether to go to class and possibly really injure myself or stay home. I considered going to just watch so I could learn even if I couldn't participate. I wasn't thrilled with finding myself in this position. I finally decided to go to class and decide what to do when I got there.
Sure enough, by the time I reached the door my knee felt fine. I decided to take the class and my knee was perfect. It's been fine ever since, giving me no further problems. Sometimes I think the delay was his little joke on me. Sometimes I think he was just busy doing Coyote things and just healed it under the deadline instead of doing it in advance. Of course, it could also be that he just thought that the deadline was when I wanted it, so that was when he gave it to me.
I guess the reason doesn't really matter though. When all is said and done, he healed my leg and I'm still playing capoeira.
Four Winds Bar