Willie White Raven walked the desert carefully. The sun was going down, and the temperature was dropping. He wondered if he should make a camp for the night or press on until he reached some kind of civilization.
He decided to press on. He’d had a strange experience recently while sleeping under the stars, and for some reason he felt that the dream would repeat itself in such a way to cause him problems in the real world.
The Mojave Desert whispered on the wind, but Willie paid no attention to that. It was a sound he was used to hearing. The ring on his finger sparkled in the last rays of the sun. The coyote carved in the turquoise seemed to be laughing at its bearer.
Cory Ferris held a pistol in her hand, the muzzle of the firearm pointed at a convenience store clerk. The weathered, middle-aged woman dug into her register, fishing out money and placing it in a plastic bag.
The female outlaw waited for the bag to be filled, took the bag, smiled, and shot the clerk anyway. She shot the woman again as the wounded clerk slumped to the floor. She smiled for the camera behind the counter. Then she shot that, too.
Cory went out to the stolen Corvette she currently possessed. She got behind the wheel and drove off. Then she spotted a sparkle on the seat. It was a ring she had not noticed when she had taken the car. She placed the ring on her finger, admiring the diamond for a second before turning her attention back to the road.
Marlon Wells casually counted the raindrops while he waited for the test to finish. He arrived at just over a million as the timer beeped. He opened the small microwave and took out a square tray, smiling in quiet satisfaction.
He grabbed the telephone from its cradle, dialing the detectives waiting on the results while they tried to find other clues to link their suspect to the crime. “The test was positive,” Marlon said. “That should allow for a warrant to get samples from his living space for comparison.” He hung up and went back to work.
Willie White Raven felt something, a tugging on his sleeve by an unseen hand. Something was coming his way. He regarded his surroundings but saw only desert stretching for as far as he could see with only the night critters prowling loose on the sand. But he couldn’t shake the feeling.
Deciding that a change of direction was in order, he set off at a faster pace on a course for a watering hole five degrees to the left and ten miles south of his original goal. Something was going to happen, and he had to be ready for it when it did.
Cory Ferris drove into a filling station right at sundown. She was tired of the Corvette and wanted something else to drive for a while. She scanned the parking lot for a replacement, but a nondescript sedan and a highway patrol car were the only things present.
She smiled as she regarded the highway patrol car. Now that was something to make her life easier, if she had ever seen such a thing. She got out of the Corvette and headed for the door of the convenience store. Time for some new wheels.
Cory stepped inside the store to the jangling of a bell. The patrol officer, holding a cup of coffee in one hand, turned slightly to get a look at her. Cory brought her reloaded pistol up and shot the officer in the face, trying to keep spilled blood on her new shirt to a minimum. She pivoted smoothly and shot the clerk before he could claw his own pistol out from under the counter. She smiled in satisfaction.
In the bathroom shortly afterward, Cory Ferris examined herself in the mirror. She looked almost respectable, she thought.
She stepped out of the bathroom in the darkened store area. Taking a set of keys, she locked up behind herself as she left, then threw the keys away as far as she could. She opened the highway patrol car and drove away from the scene.
Cory had always wanted to be a police officer. Being a state trooper would have to do. She turned the radio on and headed down the highway.
Willie White Raven walked out of the desert and saw a convenience store along the road. He decided to stop and get a drink of water, and maybe see if anything had happened in the world while he was roaming the sands.
He noticed that the Open 24 Hours neon sign and the lights inside were off. He tried the door anyway and found it locked. “Closed,” he said to himself, knowing it was only nine o’clock.
Leaning against the glass, he placed his hands to block his reflection in the door, and he saw something that made invisible hackles rise. How does a shoe point up at a forty-five degree angle on its own?
Willie felt his body change as he wanted to get inside. He sprouted fiery fur as his face became definitely canine. His peaked ears twitched, and then he was inside the store in a burst of light. Why would somebody leave an almost naked man in the candy aisle?
“Hey, Marlon!” called Rudy Presser, coming into the lab. “We got some D.B.s out on 55. Rack it and pack it.”
“Right, Roo,” said Marlon Wells. “Let’s go.”
“Don’t call me that,” Presser said, grabbing his equipment and heading out.
Wells grabbed the two fresh bags he always kept and followed. After processing, he would reload the bags with fresh supplies before checking the evidence in and starting his preliminaries.
He was looking at some tremendous overtime here. A crime scene typically took hours to go over and check. So he was also looking at hitting the sack at four in the morning. Maybe if he divided the work, he could use his extremely quick eyes to finish the job while getting Rudy out of the way. He considered the thought on his way to the garage at Presser’s heels.
Cory Ferris frowned when she heard the radio call. Someone had found the bodies sooner than she expected. Time for a car change.
She saw a red sports car ahead and smiled. She had always wanted a Porsche. Cory flipped the siren and lights. The other driver sped up instead of stopping. That wasn’t very law-abiding. Cory laughed as she gave chase. A little excitement was all she needed to wrap up the night’s adventures.
Cory had the pedal all the way down to the floor. She laughed again as the other driver tried to pull away from her. She pulled her pistol as she switched lanes. It was time to teach these clowns about law and order.
She swept along, dogging the Porsche. She felt that the patrol car was flying ever faster after the runaway. Suddenly, she was beside the car, staring at the driver. He looked over, surprise on his face. She pulled the pistol’s trigger, watching the bullet hit where she aimed it.
The Porsche went off the road as the passenger tried to grab the wheel. The car flipped over when it hit the grass.
Cory slammed the brakes. She got out of the patrol car and walked to where the car had rolled to a stop. She moved around to the passenger side of the car, kneeling by the door. The passenger hung by his seat belt, pushed against the crushed roof. He looked over at the aimed pistol, his eyes wide.
“I might have let you live if you had stopped,” said Cory. “Now you get to be a hot dog.”
“What?” said the man, trying to reach for something.
“Crispy critter,” said Cory, placing a lighter against the underside of the car. She stepped back as flames licked up, and she walked away as fire began to consume the car.
A car rolled to a stop behind the trooper’s car. The elderly driver got out, asking if he could be of assistance. Cory Ferris smiled as she raised her pistol.
Five minutes later, she was driving away from the scene in the man’s El Dorado. He and his wife were left in the trooper’s car without money or identification.
Cory laughed loudly. Today was a good day. She had started with a pistol and five dollars. Now she had seven or eight hundred and a new car. Talk about free enterprise.
Willie White Raven flew in the sky, a fiery meteor against the stars. It had been a simple thing to report the bodies. He had hoped to find some clue to the murderer, but he hadn’t seen anything remotely like a trail.
A sudden flash at ground level drew his attention. He flew down to get a closer look. A car had flipped over and caught fire, and a highway patrol car was on the scene. Willie’s canine face frowned quizzically when he noticed the highway patrol officer seemed frozen behind the wheel of his car.
Willie landed behind the burning car. He gestured, and foam covered the car, snuffing the fire out as he covered it. Willie looked at the patrol car and saw that the trooper had a passenger, and the woman slumped against the door on that side.
“Hey!” shouted someone trapped in the burning vehicle. “Can anyone hear me?”
Willie leaned down in the passenger window. “Monster!” shouted the man when he saw the Coyote.
“Where?” said Willie, looking around. “Where?” He stopped and realized. “Oh, you mean me,” Willie said. “I guess I have to set the car on fire again, since you don’t like me.”
“I like you!” said the trapped passenger. “I like you. You’re my best friend. Just don’t eat me.”
“What happened, pal?” said Willie.
“This smokey tried to pull us. Richie ran. Then she shot him. The car rolled. Then she set the car on fire.”
“A woman?” said Willie, standing and taking a look at the highway car again. “Are you sure?”
“She said she was going to cook me because we made her mad,” said the man. “Called me a hot dog.”
“Be happy, mister hot dog,” said Willie, walking toward the parked car. “It looks like she killed someone else and left the scene.”
Willie examined two bodies in the car. They were an elderly couple. The man wore a suit and tie, and the woman wore a colorful summer dress. The murderer had stuffed the Smokey the Bear hat on top of the man’s head before leaving.
He knew the woman had taken the couple’s car from the absence of another vehicle and the turned-out pockets and emptied purse. He reached in and took the radio microphone off its hook. He clicked the speak button a couple of times before clearing his throat.
“Excuse me,” he said. “This is Unit 457. It has been abandoned on the highway north of Rosales. Please dispatch a medical unit to the scene. A man has been trapped in an overturned car here.”
“Who is this?” demanded the angry dispatcher.
“This is not a joke,” Willie said. “The officer is not present at the scene.”
“Who is this?” demanded the dispatcher.
“I could be Wile E. Coyote,” said Willie. “That’s unimportant. Just get someone down here.”