A life of want–40 years of toxic relationships, cul-de-sac jobs, and just plain dogus ignoramus decisions—has made me pretty good at cartoon impressions. I can do Daffy and Bugs, Porky the P-P-P-Pig too. “Beep-beep!” I honk, because I know my father’s a fan.
“You like Road Runner?” he asks. “Smart bird. Agile bird. That bird’s top fit.” My father reveres Road Runner. “Beep-beep,” he says, which sounds nothing like the bird. “I’d be Road Runner—if I was, you know, a cartoon.”
Road Runner rips up the road, zig-zags into the cartoon desert. A feather lazes and lands on Coyote’s crestfallen soot-covered nose: a message to the dog that the naturally gifted always outrun the naturally thick.
Blown to smithereens, electrocuted, flattened by a boulder meant for his nemesis, Coyote crawls out of a Wile-E.-shaped X in the canyon floor. He unrolls himself and plumps, his cuts and contusions healed by the time he plans his next attack. He’s a miracle with limitless lives. His chagrin always curls to a grin.
And he’s never short on ingeniously ineffective plans. His reserves of can-do are inexhaustible, his understanding of aerodynamics and leverage commendably ill-informed. He’s Machiavelli with a tail or maybe just really hungry—Twain’s “living, breathing allegory of Want.”
“Not me,” I say. “I’d be Wile E.”
“Why?” My father’s face contorts in practiced disappointment though he’s been dead since May. “Coyote never wins. He’s his own worst enemy. All his stupid plans backfire. He’s a ridiculous clown. A farce!” He’s shouting now. “A waste of space. A laughingstock. He’s a fucking loser!”
“I know, Dad,” I say as I climb resolutely into yet another cannon and light the fuse. “But the artists always draw Wile E. another chance.”
Christopher Allen’s work appears in Indiana Review, Eclectica Magazine, Night Train, Literary Orphans and over a hundred other journals and anthologies. Read his book reviews in [PANK), The Lit Pub, Necessary Fiction and more. Originally from Tennessee, he now splits his time between Munich and Dublin. Allen is the managing editor of SmokeLong Quarterly and blogs HERE.
Read an interview with Christopher here.