The Funniest Thing

This my body, Marshall tells himself. He is thinking in the idiom of the hit man and the deer hunter, not the priest. He pokes a toe at the lifeless form, drawing no response. Casualty of impact. Still life with tread marks. King of the road. Feeling somehow obliged, he kneels to check the pulse.

But here's a surprise. When he touches the body he feels canvas, not flesh, and his fingers leave soft impressions. As in a sandbag. Marshall flips the body over. No body at all. Sandbags on a lath frame, dressed in junkman's clothes. The bag face has no features except a big grin, painted on in red. A sign, a joke; a meaning here, but what?

Across the road the coyote flashes his usual silent smile.