And now, my good friend, because you have been frank with me, because you will understand, because, after God, you are next with me, I am going to tell you something that has truth in it.
Faces we see, hearts are hidden.
Perhaps, you will recall it when you are among strangers. Puess. I am able to tell you this because the prickly pear tuna knows best about the pecks of the hungry Roadrunner.
Once, in the desert land of the Southwest, where it is said there are ten thousand peaks, walked a simple man. His skin was dark and swarthy and his hair was jet black and his eyes were like charcoal. He was a simpatico, a nice guy.
He simply believed. When the priest said “This is the flesh of Christ” and he held up the bread, our simpatico believed it was the flesh of Christ. When the priest said, “This is the blood of Christ” and held up the challis of wine, he believed it was the blood of Christ. Such a man is rare in these times.
He was treading his way down a simple dirt path through the avalanche of cactus and mesquite when he heard a sound.
“Pssssssss.” He stopped and cocked his head.
“Pssssssss. Over here.” It was a snake caught under a rock.
“Hey, you, Push this rock off my back or I am going to die under here.”
The simpatico gave the rock a shove and the snake was free. The snake gave out a long hiss and moved very close to the man.
“I was under that rock a long time and I am hungry. I am going to eat you.”
The simpatico stood with fear and surprise in the desolate desert. He said, “That is not just. That is not fair. I saved your life and, like a good Christian, you should do as you have been done by.”
The snake chuckled and rattled his tail, “You idiot. Haven’t you heard: good is rewarded with evil.” “That simply can’t be,” our hero cried, “That just can’t be.” The snake laughed a horrible and sinister laugh and rose to strike when the simpatico said, “Let us find a judge and ask him what is true.”
“Well,” said the snake and he was very irritated, “Alright. OK. Everyone knows it’s true. So let’s hurry because I am hungry.”
And they headed out into the bleakness of the desert.
The snake kept very close to the simpatico. They came upon a burro. The simpatico put the question to him, “Is good rewarded with evil.”
The burro did not hesitate. “Yes. A good deed is always repaid with an evil one. Look at me. Everyday of my life, I worked for my master. I worked when there was little to eat. I worked when it was cold or hot. I worked without complaint and always steady although not very fast. It is my way. And what happened. Now I am old and weak and my back is swayed and covered with sores from the packsaddle. My master turned me out to the desert to starve. When I try to go to the feed trough, he beats me away with a stick.
“Woe, woe, woe is me. No, no, no, I must agree. Good is repaid with evil.” The snake immediately coiled and prepared to strike. “I told you everyone knows it. I am hungry.”
But the simpatico lamented, “This man is biased. He is no judge. We must find another.”
The snake said, “Will you never learn what everyone knows as true. Alright, one more but this is it.”
They went on through the desolate desert till they came upon an ox. He was lying down and chewing his cud. His bones were sticking out and it was obvious that he was starving. The simpatico put the same question to him. “I can only tell you what has happened to me. My whole life I worked for my master. I pulled his sled. I plowed his field. I worked, worked, worked. I answered every ‘gee and haw’. For what? He turned me out to the pasture to fatten me up. Was it my reward to a lifetime of service? Oh no. I heard him talking to his wife about how he would butcher me to make jerky of my meat and soup of my bones. So I ran off to the desert but now I can hardly stand under my own weight I am so weak. Take pity, take pity on a poor one. I must agree that good is rewarded with evil.
Complaint, complaint, I heard upon a day, cried the simpatico. These judges are biased.
You are stupid and I am hungry, said the snake and he coiled to strike. Just then our hero saw a coyote on the hill. He quickly said “The coyote is very smart and he will know. Let’s ask him. “
The snake grumbled under his hiss, “OK. He is known for being wise.” And the snake asked the question.
The coyote look at the man and saw the fear in his eyes. He looked at snake and saw his greed. He scratched behind his ear a wicked flea and said to the snake, “I am going to have to see just how the rock was place on your back before I can say for sure whether good is reward with evil.” Well, this was very irritating to the snake. He was so hungry but he agreed. So they went back to the rock and put the rock on the back of the snake just exactly like it was before.
“Is this how it was?” asked the coyote.
The snake groaned, “Yessssss.”
Then, the coyote looked very wise and pronounced, “If good is rewarded with evil, then you just got yours.” And then the coyote lay on the ground and he laughed and laughed and laughed.
The simpatico was so relieved. A peace filled his heart. He felt like a huge stone had been lifted from his own back. He was so appreciative. He kept saying, “Thank you. Thank you. What can I do for you?”
Finally the coyote stopped laughing and said, “Well, I do get hungry.”
The simpatico said, “Listen, you come to my ranch and I will feed you a hen every day. You saved my life. It is least I can do.”
Now, he had two fierce dogs who hated coyotes and a wife who was even fiercer.”
Anyway, the simpatico told the coyote, “You will have to wait in the brush away from the ranch and I will bring you a fine, plump hen.”
This went on for many days. Finally, the coyote said, “My appetite needs some help. Was there any mescal to drink so I could wash the hen down?” So he brought a hen and a bottle of mescal.
Then the coyote said the mescal had increased his appetite so much that he needed two hens.
The simpatico said, “I think you are getting carried away with this.”
The coyote said, “I saved your life. What is that worth?”
So the simpatico reluctantly agreed and brought two hens and a bottle of mescal every day.
Then the coyote said, “I will need another bottle of mescal because the second hen is sticking in my throat.” Now the simpatico brought two hens and two bottles of mescal.
No sooner had the simpatico agreed than the coyote wanted three hens because the mescal had increased his appetite so.
Then, of course, he needed another bottle of mescal.
The simpatico again agreed reluctantly and brought the coyote everyday three hens and three bottles of mescal.
After all, the coyote saved his life and he owned him everything.
Then one day, he was coming out of the chicken coup with three hens in three sacks when his wife caught him. She took one look and saw he had her three hens and said, “So you are the one who is taking my hens. Why?” And he slowly began telling her, “I am giving the hens to the coyote…” but he never finish because she went into a raging fit.
“What,” she screamed, “You imbecile. These are my best hens. I wondered where they went.” And she broke into diatribe that berated him as stupid and ignorant idiot. She grabs the sack of hens.
Well, he stormed into the house and reached under the counter for the mescals. He took a long drink straight out of one of the bottles. He thought to himself, “I am the man of the house and I am going to make the decisions here.” His courage came from the bottle.
In the mean time, the wife traded the hen in one sack with the two fierce dogs.
After his courage had grown, he stormed out of the house, grabbed the sacks and said, “I am the man of the house. I will make the decisions here.” And he headed off into the brush.
Well the coyote had grown particularly hungry that day waiting for his usual meal.
The simpatico said, “For saving my life, you deserve what I have brought.”
The coyote’s mouth was watering and his stomach was growling.
He gave him the first bottle of mescal. He opened the sack and the coyote swallowed the hen, feathers and all.
He gave whoop, “Ahooooooooo”
The coyote drank the second bottle of mescal. Then the second sack with the fat hen. He gave whoop and a yip,
“Ahooooooo. Yip. Yip Yip. Yip.”
Then the third bottle of mescal. He was having a little trouble standing straight. His eyes were blurry. But he yelled with a slur, “The final feast. Bring it on” He gave a little stagger.
The simpatico opened the sack and out sprang the two fierce dogs who easily caught the drunken coyote and nipped out chunks of his skin and hair. The coyote barely made away with his life.
So, today, on the hilltops of the country side, when you hear the coyote howling at the full moon, he is answering the question, “Is good rewarded with evil?”
The coyote howls, “Ahooooooooooo. Yip yip yip yip. It is the custom.”