Coyote Canyon was a dusty, dirty little town smack in the middle of the desert, nestled quietly near the end of some salmon pink hills known as the Coyote Range. It was a little bigger than a one horse town, rumor having it there were three nags living in the area. The wind blew in more visitors than the rocky trail that ran through the middle of town invited in. Everything there was dusty, dirty and mean looking, but none was grimier or slimier than the local sheriff, "Sam the Rattler".
He had folks shivering at the sound of his tail as it rat-a-tat-tatted all over town. Sam used to be an ordinary rattlesnake living in the desert on the outskirts of town. He minded his own business and ate the odd neighbor, just like any other snake. He had no dream of being a sheriff or running a town. He dreamt of eating everyone in town, but that’s about as far as it went. I guess that sheriff’s badge had other plans, because it seemed to be waiting for him in Coyote Canyon as he slithered around in the hot sand.
As time went by Sam got bigger and bigger as the local population got less and less. Sam’s appetite was a little too hardy for the neighbor’s liking. It seemed like there wasn’t anyone or anything that he wouldn’t eat. Folks told of a time when he swallowed a jackrabbit so big, that the fat old snake had to lie around in the sand, not moving, for days. The lump in his belly was so darned heavy he couldn’t budge. The only neighbors that were safe from his appetite were the Armadillo Cowboys that lived at the Rock Hard Ranch, a mile or two down the road. They were too big to swallow, too tough to chew and too rubbery to digest. And they seemed to be smarter than most folk. They conjured up some real interestin’ gizmos and contraptions. Nothing could get at those “armor-dillos”.
News of Sam and his ever increasing appetite spread into Coyote Canyon and folks started locking their doors and windows at night. The last thing you’d want to happen is wake up in the morning and find your aunt Sarah in the middle of a big old rattler. So, as everyone was worrying about being eaten by Sam, a pack of cunning coyotes in the nearby hills got the ideas that the timing was perfect for them to go take over the town.
After all, who better to run Coyote Canyon than a pack of cagey coyotes? At sunrise the pack quietly padded into town. They were five desperados with fangs bared and their ears back looking mean and nasty and ready for trouble. One by one they took over the local saloon, the general store, the barbershop and the blacksmith’s without taking a bite out of a single person. It was like letting a fox into a hen house. The coyotes had a great old time eating the townsfolk’s food, drinking their sodas and dancing with their women. Their behavior was downright shameful!
One night, as the coyotes lay sleeping on the saloon floor tuckered out from too much two-steppin’, a town meeting was held. The townsfolk had about enough of the coyotes and wanted to run them out of Coyote Canyon. The only ones brave enough to come forward were the three nags, Sadie, Laura-Lee and Sundown. They thought for sure with their size, strength, big hooves and expertise in "nagging" they could scare just about anyone out of town. The next morning, the coyotes woke up to three big mares hovering above them at the bar. Sadie stepped on one of their tails with her front hoof and sent him off yelping and squealing. Laura-Lee kicked one of the biggest coyotes right out of the saloon doors, down the street past the general store. That mean old coyote was branded with a hoof print on his behind for life. Then Sundown, the big bay mare, started in on the rest of the pack with some nagging about how, since they had taken over the town, things were falling apart … fences needed mending… roof needed fixing… chores not done… and on and on and on until sundown. That nag came by her name honestly and lived up to it well that day. Folks thought it was some of the best darn nagging she had ever done. The next morning, the coyotes were still there. Seems they were a lot tougher than anyone thought.
A second meeting was called and somehow, out of desperation, "Sam the Rattler’s" name came up. It seemed logical that if you want to scare away someone big and nasty, that you needed someone even bigger and nastier. Sam was that for sure, and his appetite had grown big enough that he might be able to eat a coyote or two. Who knows, maybe he could eat the whole pack. The only problem was, who was going to fetch Sam? Anyone that went too close to his hole was sure enough eaten. After a lot of humming and hawing, Katie the kangaroo rat came up with a darned good idea. She said they should go get the Armadillo Cowboys to fetch Sam. The Armadillos were the only folks Sam couldn’t put his mouth around. There wasn’t anything fierce enough or tough enough to scare them. They were darned near invincible with those armor-like plates across them.
Everyone agreed, so Katie quietly hopped out the back door out of the coyote’s sight and set off across the hot desert sand. She came upon Dilly the Kid, Wyatt Dirt and Rock Holiday, the best of the Armadillo Cowboys. They were three of the dustiest, dirtiest, biggest armadillos this side of New York City. It looked like someone stuffed them into their boots. Their hats were so darned big, you could barley see their face, except for the long nose poking out. But when they smiled, you could see they were good folk.
a rickety old jalopy that had a few too many spare parts, full of lasso
ropes, some of biggest sling shots you ever did see and a bunch of new
fangled Armadillo contraptions. They were practicing their roping with
a few stray jackrabbits. They had lassos that twirled in the air, like
a tornado, just kicking up the dust and picking up anything in its path.
Never seen anything like it! "Howdy Miss Katie" Dilly hollered
through the dust and wind. "What brings you out these ways this
fine day?" "Townsfolk need your help something awful. We’ve
been taken over by a pack of five of the meanest, nastiest, bad mannered,
horrible dancers in the west. We’ve tried everything to get rid
of these coyotes but we can’t clear
The three armadillos strode on over to the big old hole in the ground that was feared by every mouse, lizard and creature in the desert. Sam was sleeping inside, hiding from the hot morning sun. He heard some serious stomping of heavy feet above him and woke him up meaner than a bear out of hibernation. He stuck his head above the ground and found himself staring at twelve dusty cowboy boots. "Howdy, you big, ugly rattler, who are you eating today?" grinned Dilly the Kid. Sam was a little agitated and hissed angrily "Your ssss… sssss… sister and she’s sss… sss …scrumptious." "Look you old buzzard face, we didn’t come here for a fight. We came here for your help" snarled Wyatt Dirt. "Coyote Canyon has been taken over by a pack of mean coyotes and folks figure that you’re the only big, mean and ugly enough to scare them away," he finished.
what makes you think I’d want to help you sss… ssss…
silly… sss… sss… shelled cowboys?" "Well,
we figure you owe them a favor or two considering you’ve eaten
half of their relatives. Besides, it gives you a chance to go after
one of the biggest meals you’ve ever had. Doesn’t a couple
of coyotes on a bun sound darn tasty to you?" asked Rock Holiday.
Sam thought for a moment and decided maybe it was about time he stretched
his appetite to include something bigger. "Let’s sss…
sss… scadaddle boy and go rustle up a couple of coyotes for lunch."
Besides they were armed and ready with their six shooters- big old rifles filled with rocks and nasty old bugs that could sting through the hide of an elephant. All of the townsfolk gathered around to watch, hardly able to breathe with all the excitement. The armadillos and Sam formed a straight line about twenty feet in front of the coyotes. They just stood staring down at the coyotes, not moving or even blinking. The coyotes started laughing and howling thinking these boys were just plumb chicken. They made jokes about the cowboy’s boots and said their momma was a cow and yelled “arm-moo-dillo!” They said Sam was so fat he looked like he’d swallowed the stagecoach. Then they got closer and closer and started kicking dust in his face.
Sam and the cowboys didn’t budge, not even an inch. Then the coyotes took out their six shooters and aimed for the Cowboys, with bugs and rocks flying all over the place. Billy the Bumble bee flew out first and aimed right for Wyatt, but he had never tried to sting an “armor-dillo”. He hit the bony plates and bounced off so hard he flew right into the middle of the next week! When the rocks started hitting, they ricocheted off those hard bony bellies all over town. Windows were breaking; women were hiding and the men folks just stood in amazement.
The coyotes were having so much fun they got foolish and careless. They loved all the mess and screaming. They had never fought cowboys like this. This was the best fun ever. “Hey ya’ll what you boys made of?” they howled at the Armadillos. They loaded up more bugs and more rocks and laughed and hollered as they saw a Danny the Dragon Fly get stuck in the armor. He was right smack on top of Dilly’s belly, just buzzing and flappin’.
Before they knew it, the coyotes laughed and stumbled around so much, they found themselves sitting right in front of Sam and the Armadillos, laughing and scratching without a care in the world. Sam looked to his left and then to his right and then gave the signal to Wyatt Dirt. Wyatt smoked them with some skunk gas, smacked them with the snake bite bullets, and belted them, with bees from their sling shots.
Then before you could say leaping lizards, two coyotes had been swallowed whole. Well, you’ve never heard such yelping and howling as what came out of the other three coyotes. They went downright crazy. The three Armadillos reached behind their backs, pulled out their time defying lassos and swung them above their heads. On the count of three, they had them roped and hog-tied. They tied them to a hitching post and put a sign on each of their backs, "Monday’s lunch", "Wednesday’s lunch", and "Friday’s dinner." They figured it would take Sam at least a couple of days between meals that big. Vinnie the Vulture flew overhead looking for leftovers, swooping down to smell the Coyotes. He figured he would just follow the Armadillos around from here on in, and there would be pickins’ for sure.
So the town was saved and Sam had his meals planned for a week. Sam was made local sheriff and the Armadillos appointed as his deputies. They had become the town heroes. Those good old boys showed them that a little “smarts” and a tough skin can win any battle. They opened up a new saloon called the Armor-dillo Cowboy Club and everyone drank cactus cocktails telling their tales. A deal was made between Sam and the townsfolk from that day forward, "no more eating the local folks or their relatives, but anyone that broke the law or threatened Coyote Canyon was fair game". That way, the town would always be safe and Sam would always be full. And the Armor-dillos?… well they lived to become true legends of the west, a breed of the toughest old boys you ever did see. They traveled from town to town in their dusty boots leaving a trail of footprints that made even the nastiest boys quiver with dread.