posted by coyote
Nights, lately, we coyotes have spent on the move, too hot, too restless to sleep. At the end of one such, I dogtrotted to Nepean Point at sunrise. Near the base of Champlain's statue, I settled on my hind legs, panting a little, thinking to watch the shadows of the bridges shorten on the moving water.
"Nice view, isn't it?" said a near voice.
I was surprised. Not too many people actually see semi-mythical coyotes in this city. They usually dismiss us as figments of imagination. We encourage this, and in fact know a few small charms to help it along. This was an unusual person. I looked over my shoulder into a very tanned face with intelligent eyes.
"It is," I agreed, turning, taking in details of the man in the shade of the statue's plinth: clean copper-sand hair as dark and weatherbeaten as his skin, shabby-neat clothes, open book overturned beside him, indeterminate age, relaxed raffish air. In the growing brightness over his shoulder was Parliament Hill, clouds piling over it into a sky the same deep blue as his eyes.
"I like to catch the breeze off the river about this time of day," he offered.
"It's good," I agreed. "In this heat." I pointed my pointy nose into a scrap of moving air and sniffed gratefully.
"I like the heat," he said. "I spend six months a year cursing the cold."
Then, seeing I wasn't quite poised to flit, as we coyotes often are wont, he began to talk. He seemed have traveled and to know about minerals. He told stories about planting gardens in glacial sand deposits in the Arctic, of holding huge black onyxes in his hands, of illegally moiling for opals in the Australian outback, of diving for emeralds at the bases of South American waterfalls.
His current state suggested none had stayed in his hands, if ever he'd held them. He was obviously knowledgeable and intelligent, but there was hazy point in each story where the facts as I understood them seemed to drag their anchors and begin to drift.
It also might be that he was being completely truthful about the way he saw the world. I did not see fit to get into this. It might, I decided, seem a touch rich coming from a six-odd-millenia-old, semimythical talking dog. Who's not really from around these parts.
His stories had a humorous flair. He seemed serene about the wealth he did not have. He was amiable. I enjoyed his company. That was enough.
As the breeze died in the growing heat, I stood. He closed his book, placed it carefully into a battered pack, and uncoiled elegantly from the base of the statue. We walked companionably down the hill. At the bottom he wished me a very fine day. I wished him an equally fine day. He turned toward the Market, and I turned toward the alleys of Centretown.
It occurred to me as I re-entered the city's heated maze that many of the elite who sit in that fairy-tale Gothic-revival castle just across the bay, the one that had hovered over his shoulder while we spoke, probably wouldn't have much regard for my nameless new friend. I think that perhaps he wouldn't have much use for them, either...