Life Will Find You
While magic powder was sprinkled on the sidewalk outside, Samuel Hunter moved around his office like a machine, firing out phone calls, checking computer printouts, and barking orders to his secretary. It was how he began every business day: running in machine mode until he left for his first sales appointment and put on the right persona for the prospect.
People who knew Sam found him hardworking, intelligent, and even likable, which is exactly what he wanted them to find. He was confident and successful in business, but he wore his success with a humility that put people at ease. He was tall, lean, and quick with a smile, and people said he was as comfortable in a Savile Row suit before a boardroom of businessmen as he was lounging in jeans at Santa Barbara's wharf, trading stories and lies with the fishermen. In fact, the apparent ease with which Sam mastered his environment was the single disturbing quality people noticed in him. How was it that a guy could play so many roles so well, and never seem uncomfortable or out of place? Something was missing. It wasn't that he was a bad guy, it was just that you could never get close to him, you never got a feel for who he really was, which is exactly how Sam wanted it. He thought a show of desire, of passion, of anger even, would give him away, so he suppressed these emotions until he no longer felt them. His life was steady, level, and safe.
So it happened that on an autumn-soft sunny day, not two weeks after his thirty-fifth birthday, some twenty years after he had run away from home, Samuel Hunter stepped out of his office onto the sidewalk and was poleaxed by desire.
He saw a girl loading groceries into an old Datsun Z that was parked at the curb, and to the core of his being, Sam wanted her.
Later he would recall the details of her appearance -- a line of muscle on a tan thigh, cutoff jeans, the undercurve of a breast showing below the half shirt, yellow hair tied up haphazardly, tendrils escaping to brush high cheekbones and wide brown eyes -- but her effect on him now was like a long, oily saxophone note that started somewhere in that lizard part of the brain where the libido resides and resonated down his body to the tendons in his groin and back into his stomach to form a knot that nearly doubled him over.
"You want her?" The question came from beside him, a man's voice that startled him a bit, but not enough for him to tear his eyes from the girl.
The question came again. "You want her?"
Already off balance, Sam turned toward the voice, then stepped back in surprise. A young Indian man dressed in black buckskins fringed with red feathers sat on the sidewalk by the office door. While Sam tried to regain mental ground, the Indian dazzled a grin and pulled a long dagger from his belt.
"If you want her, go get her," he said. Then he flipped the dagger across the sidewalk into the front tire of the girls car. There was a thud and a high squealing hiss as the air escaped the tire.
"What was that?" the girl said. She slammed the hatchback and moved to the front of the car.
Sam, in a panic, looked for the Indian, who had disapeared, and then for the knife, which had vanished as well. He turned and looked through the glass door into his outer office, but the Indian wasnt there either.
"I cant believe I manifested this," the girl said, staring at the flattened tire. "I've done it again. I've manifested failure. "
Sam's confusion blossomed. "What are you talking about?"
The girl turned and looked at him for the first time, studied him for a second, then said, "Every time I get a job I manifest some kind of tragedy that ruins my chances of keeping it."
"But it's just a flat tire. You cant manifest a flat tire. I saw the guy that did this. It was . . . " Sam stopped himself. The Indian in black had triggered his fears of being found out, of going to prison. He didn't want to relive the shock. "It was probably some glass you picked up. You can't avoid that sort of thing."
"Why would I manifest glass in my tire?" The question was in earnest; she searched Sams face for an answer. If he had one, he lost it in her eyes. He couldn't get a grip on how to react to any of this.
He said, "The Indian--"
"Do you have a phone?" she interrupted. "I have to call work and tell them I'll be late. I dont have a spare."
"I can give you a ride," Sam said, feeling stupidly proud of himself for being able to speak at all. "I was just leaving for an appointment. My car's around the comer."
"Would you do that? I have to go all the way to upper State Street. "
Sam looked at his watch, out of habit only; he'd have driven her to Alaska if she had asked. "No problem," he said. "Follow me."
The girl grabbed a bundle of clothes from the Datsun and Sam led her around the corner to his Mercedes. He opened the door for her and tried not to watch her get in. Whenever he looked at her his mind went blank and he had to thrash around looking for what to do next.
The foregoing is excerpted from Coyote Blue by Christopher Moore. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022