Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Hollywood Unmurders

A fiction excerpt by Ray Rhamey

If the coyote ate me he would end up with a terminal case of indigestion, which is what he would deserve for chewing on a vampire kitty-cat chock full of the vampire virus. Unfortunately, by that time I wouldn't be in any condition to say gotcha. Although being undead isn't much of a life, I preferred holding on to what little I had.

If it had been a dog, I wouldn't have worried. Who worries about a creature that has devoted eons of evolution to mastering tail-wagging and drooling? But this guy was from a long line of finely tuned hunter-killers. And the word around Los Angeles was that coyotes had never met a cat they didn't like.

Crouched behind a scrub oak beneath the H in the HOLLYWOOD sign, I hadn't heard any movement from the direction of the O where I'd spotted him. Unluckily, when I ducked, he'd homed in on me. The full moon I'd been enjoying now felt like a spotlight. The scrub oak, three feet tall and about that wide, was no barrier to a determined coyote. I slunk low, belly to the ground, and peered beneath a branch.

He wasn't under the O anymore.


What would being chewed up do to my undead self? When the virus turned him into a vampire coyote, would I end up an immortal lump in his belly, giving “hairball” a whole new meaning? Disgusting. Not to mention really, really creepy.

I scanned the rocky chaparral in front of me, a holdout of the old desert in the middle of L.A.’s artificial lushness, and wished a real, climbable tree had sprung up within the last few minutes.

Something crackled behind me like a dry twig being stepped on. I whipped around and there he stood, gazing at me from four feet away. He was downwind, so I hadn't smelled him coming. I arched my back and puffed up the fur on my spine and tail, hoping to look dangerous and too big to mess with.

The coyote sat and licked his chops, no doubt considering what part of me to dine on first. So much for puffery. I throttled my fur back down and thought hard. Maybe the old slow-motion trick would work. You know, the one where a cat moves ve-e-e-e-ry slo-o-o-owly away so as not to provoke an attack. It works if you’re facing a bigger and nastier cat, but I had serious doubts about a hungry coyote.

He stretched his head forward and sniffed. I braced for a run, though I knew it was hopeless against his long legs. I might win the sprint, but, with no tree to climb, he'd catch me in the marathon that stretched between me and the nearest palm tree on the way back to Silver Lake, where Meg and I shared our apartment.

He stood and took a step closer. I was beyond tense, only seconds away from incoherent screeching and completely losing it to un-cat-like panic. I took a deep breath and focused on looking cool and indifferent, thinking maybe that would calm me down.

He leaned toward me and sniffed again.

I wasn't calming down.

I knew what he was picking up-­my personal feline aroma plus the coppery scent of blood that we vees emanate.

Another lick of his chops, languid this time, as if he were relishing the dining experience to come. He tasted my scent again with a deep inhale.

I began to understand what food feels like.

Then his blue eyes twinkled, he winked, and then he turned and walked away.



The wink brought on a severe case of jitters as I scrammed for home. Had he been toying with me? Was he skulking up ahead, ready to spring? I jumped at every sound and shied from every shadow.

The rustle of paws in dirt came from my left. There the coyote was, pacing me. I veered away from him, and he stayed with me. I edged his way, and he changed course to maintain our distance.

It stayed that way all the way back to Silver Lake. He followed me right into the apartment-house courtyard. I was darned glad that Meg always left our door open a crack when I went out so I could nose my way in.

When I was safely inside, I looked back. Just outside our door, the coyote eyed me. Meg’s footsteps approached behind me, and he shifted his gaze to her. I crouched and braced myself. Despite those gleaming fangs, if he tried to mess with my associate I would-­

He turned and trotted away, going around the swimming pool and up the stairs to the second level on the other side. The animal knew no fear.

I, however, knew great relief.


Tamela Buhrke said...

The picture of that cat is hilarious! I could truly imagine it being a vampire kitty.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Now I understand my own Katie Kitten better. She's a vampire kitty.

Dani said...

Loved it! I'll have to read the first book. Too much to hope there's also a love story in them?

Hopelessly hooked on romance.