The coyote – its fur matted, drool trickling from its mouth – crept forward out of the gully’s tall grass toward the unattended toddler in the sandbox. Lester leaned back in his new lawn chair, sipped his beer and watched the scene unfold.
He glanced disdainfully at the child – she was named Katie or Kaitlyn or something like that – as she used a green plastic shovel to throw sand and dirt randomly from the box, which sat in the unfenced backyard. Lester saw her mother grab a cell phone and enter the house some minutes before, leaving the girl alone. Her hair was long and matted, and she wore only a diaper.
The coyote skulked closer, camouflaging himself in the shade of an old maple that stood at the back of the yard. Lester yawned and scratched his stomach through a white sleeveless t-shirt. He looked towards the neighbor’s backdoor. No movement.
He turned his attention back to the coyote, which had made his way to within twenty feet of the child, and was crouched, preparing to lunge. Lester took another look at the neighbor’s back door – still no movement – and sighed. He stood and walked towards the animal, waving his arm and yelling.
“Back off! Git!” The beast stopped and looked up in time to dodge the beer bottle thrown at him. “Git outta here!” As Lester approached nearer, the coyote turned and slowly trotted away.
The mother came out to investigate the noise, cell phone at her ear. She made it onto her porch just in time to see the coyote disappear into the gully. The phone dropped to the ground; her hands covering her mouth as she gasped.
Lester turned away from the coyote and caught the woman’s eye. “It’s about time you got out here. Start watching your goddam kid!” She stared quietly, mouth still open as he stomped back towards his own yard. He opened his screen door, and before going in, turned back towards the woman, who had finally ran over and picked up her child.
“You owe me a freakin’ beer!” He walked inside, slamming the door behind him.