The first time he found me walking quickly up a driveway to a swanky condo I simply had no business entering. He was a scrawny little fucker with oversized ears pointed straight up to the smoggy sky, on constant alert. His fur was wiry and coarse, the same color the water in the sink is when I wash my hands after a late night oil painting session. It was 2:00 AM. Maybe even later. My phone had died on the way over so I wasn’t quite sure. I had a habit then of not keeping my phone charged. I’ve gotten better about it since, if only because I like to know what time it is.

          That coyote was smaller than my dog, but I have no doubt that he would win if a fight between the two of them were ever to ensue. He had seen some shit. I could just tell. I guess it could have been a female – I didn’t ask – but I’m going to call him a ‘he’ for the purpose of this story. I’ve always had an affinity for male creatures anyway.

          So, there I was, walking up that earthquake-cracked and oil-stained driveway sometime around 2:00 AM on a Wednesday to have sex with a complete stranger, and for some reason this little coyote decided to follow me. He was walking beside me for awhile, brushing up against my leg. For the first ten minutes of our relationship I thought he was a stray dog.

           “Hey buddy”, I kept saying. “Go home buddy. Where do you live?”

          Only once I got into the dim yellow light of the driveway, I realized my new friend was certainly no stray dog. The tall and sandy-haired stranger was standing in his foyer as I walked up his steep drive. He must been doing quite well for himself. In my experience, only rich people had driveways that steep. Mine was perfectly level. The moment the motion-sensored light came on, the stranger shouted down to me. It was as if I were his minion, or a mere one time visitor to his castle. I had come from a far away land. Perhaps he would advise me how best to cross the moat.

          “There’s a coyote next to you!”

          He pronounced coyote the obnoxious way, with ‘oat’ as the second syllable. The way I would expect someone from Texas or Missouri to say it. He wasn’t from either of those places. He was from New Jersey just like all of the worst things are. Every man I’d ever slept with from New Jersey had fucked me. No pun intended.

           I should have stayed with that scrawny coyote even at the risk of rabies. Rabies might’ve killed me quicker and more painlessly than that handsome stranger and those of his kind eventually would.

           Once inside, my suspicions were confirmed. There was a god damned chandelier. A garganchuan, crystal-encrusted chandelier hanging in a presumably single man’s entry way. Ladies, if you walk into a bachelor pad and the first thing you see is a chandelier worth more than your car, run in the other direction even if there are coyotes. This chandelier was the type which serves no purpose at all other than to notify visitors of one’s wealth. I had seen a lot of chandeliers of that sort since moving to Los Angeles, but none quite as extravagant and sparkly as his. Big chandeliers like that are never indicators of the beautiful love story or even the great sex to follow. And yes, of course, the sex was great.

           For the record, I was not always this way. I was not always willing to drive all the way from West Hollywood to Echo Park after a few too many Coors Lights to have unprotected sex with someone who flattered me juuuust enough in a twelve minute conversation on Tinder. I was in love once. From the outside looking in it was probably disgusting. Sure, it may be hard to picture now. But it’s true. I slept with the same man every single night. I let him see me without makeup. We laughed and we played. I called him ‘honey bear’ and he called me ‘cookie’, never once with a trace of shame on my part or his. We wrestled and had pillow fights and gave each other deep tissue massages for fuck’s sake. I used his toothbrush once when I forgot mine at home (sorry, Jerry Seinfeld). I thoroughly enjoyed waking up quietly and cooking him breakfast so that the smell of extra crispy bacon would slowly stir him awake. We took long showers together in which we would always argue about the water temperature and we scrubbed each others backs on a nightly basis. He popped my zits. I ironed his shirts. I was one hundred percent myself around him and that notion both completely terrified and absolutely delighted me all at once. I was done. I never saw another man when I was with him. They did not exist. There was a time not long ago when I could not imagine what being attracted to another might even feel like, let alone having multiple orgasms from one.

          So before you are so quick to judge, this lifestyle was not my first choice. I would genuinlely always choose the back scrubs and pillow fights, the lack of makeup and the overwhelming scent of practically-burnt bacon, the visits at work, the wilted flowers and cards with misspelled sentiments, the stupid emojis in text messages laden with grammatical errors, the missing out on my precious time alone, the sharing the last bite of cheesecake, the instant photos with filters to make us look like something we most certainly were not, the tags in the admittedly ridiculous “woman-crush-Wednesday” and “man-crush-Monday” posts, the cliché trips to local museums, and the naked crying in the bathtub, smudged black makeup running down my face with him by my side comforting me – over feeling so cheap, sad, and dirty. Even still, I will forever choose cheap, sad, and dirty over feeling nothing at all.

          I escaped the coyote, and together the stranger and I watched him skitter away. He stopped once in the middle of the driveway to look back at us. I could swear I felt him lock his refletant yellow eyes with my boring human ones.

          The stranger wasted no time in “getting to know me”. His calloused hands were promptly on my Taco-Bell-sponsored waist before he even asked me how I was. It dawned on me then how silly we are for constantly asking that dreaded question: “How are you?” to fuck buddies, acquaintances, and complete strangers when we don’t actually care how they’re doing at all. I realized then that I didn’t care that he didn’t care because neither did I. I allowed him to continue to touch me in whichever ways he wanted for a little bit before asking him the question I really wanted an honest answer to: where the whiskey was.

           The strange man’s kitchen was impressive. Uncharacteristically clean for a bachelor pad, with updated appliances and a motherfucking herb garden on the counter. I wondered how he’d gotten so wealthy. I didn’t know what he did for a living, which was odd for L.A. It is typically the first question people ask one another here. This one didn’t strike me as a trust fund baby but he didn’t seem much like a film industry type either. Handsome but stupid. Surely too stupid to have earned that much money on his own. In the end, it didn’t really matter. Financial stability is not sexually transferable after all.

          Three glasses of Irish whiskey on the rocks and I would have stopped him and made him use a condom, but pouring that damned fourth and touching it to my lips might as well have been the same as me consciously consenting to him fucking me unprotected. There was no foreplay. There was no kissing. There never was. I had fucked several men since the break up but had not mouth-kissed a single one of them. I’m not sure if that was my issue or the men I was so carefully choosing, but either way I found it increasingly difficult to recall what the sensation of touching someones teeth with my tongue might feel like.

         The journey to the stranger’s bedroom was a whirlwind. His place was large with several unnecessary rooms and the bedroom in which we ended up was far, far away from the kitchen where our rendezvous had begun, but I can’t remember a thing about what the halls looked like or even if there were stairs.

         His bed was large, soft and white with the type of thick and heavy comforters you could lose your iPhone in. There was nothing taped or nailed to the ivory walls. There were no books, no dresser. No lamp, no nightstand. No clock, no decorations, no clothes piled on the ground or in a laundry bin. No windows. There wasn’t even a scent. Come on, everyone’s room has a scent. Did anyone live here? Maybe one of the other bedrooms was where he slept and this was just the room he brought random women in to fuck them. This was not the first time that night that everything inside of me told me to stand up and just leave right then. But shit, I didn’t even know if I’d be able to find my way back to the front door.

         He was courteous enough to help undress me at least. Some weren’t. My boots and bra had been carelessly abandoned in the kitchen. That particular bra was expensive and cute. I hoped I’d be able to recover it upon my departure so that some other stranger might have the prividlege of slipping it off of me one day, perhaps more gently than this one had. His lips met my collar bone immediately upon our arrival in the stark room and continued moving lower, but never became aquainted with any part of my face. My hips writhed, not from passion or anticipation but from nervousness. I had no idea what I was nervous about. It wouldn’t be my first one night stand. But that’s just it – that was exactly what felt different. I knew before it even began that it was a one night stand. This fuckstick had no intentions of ever speaking to me again after that night. I was more likely to see the coyote again. That’s why we’re here now I suppose. Most everyone fucks a total stranger at least once in their life. But not everybody gets to meet the same coyote twice.

          It must have been five in the morning by the time I left his place. My small one-hundred-and-two-pound frame had consumed twice the amount of whiskey he had, yet the stranger seemed much more drunk and disoriented than I was. He was beginning to drift off to sleep after cumming inside of me three glorious times when I finally snuck out, not before rescuing every article of clothing and accessory belonging to me.

         For first time sex, it was great. Almost as if he’d done it before. He knew just the right ways to touch me, cared that I got off too, and had a Pringles-can-sized dick. He had no trouble keeping it up either, even after drinking. He lasted as long as I wanted him to, and was able to get hard again not long after cumming. Sex is important to me. A man is only as great as he is in bed. My ex and I had an incredible sex life. It only got better and better as our fights got worse and worse. Unfortunately I don’t get to have that anymore. So now, I get sex where and when I can. That drowsy Wednesday I happened to get it from a stranger with too much money and not enough whiskey in a pretentious condo in Echo Park with a big ass chandeleir inside. I did not feel shame for what I had done, but walking back down the same steep drive I had walked up a few hours earlier, I’d already forgotten how good the sex had been. I wondered where my little coyote was and what he was up to.

          The second and last time I encountered the coyote in Echo Park, I was inebriated and crossing a busy street without looking both ways. If I wasn’t going to bother using condoms with perfect strangers, why should I? A man I had slept with several times but whose last name I couldn’t recall and I were walking to the third or fourth bar of the evening, some spot I had never been to before. Apparently it was an old cop bar and there was a documentary on Netflix about it. I made it a note to check that out later. I can’t remember what the name of that documentary is. A lot has happened between then and now. The coyote once again seemed like a stray at first. The two of us realized at the exact same time that it wasn’t. I silently wondered to myself if it was the same coyote I had seen weeks earlier, just blocks away in the handsome strangers driveway. My gut told me it was but I was skeptical then. I know better now.

          The small, scrappy, taupe creature seemed much more interested in me than in my tall, handsome partner. He told me not to get too close. “Those things are vicious!” warned my ‘friend’. But this time, I wasn’t going to let the little fella get away without delivering his undoubtedly important message to me. After my sexual encounter in the same neighborhood a couple of weeks prior had left me feeling gross, I had forced most of the details of that night (aside from the extravagent chandelier, of course. I can still remember now exactly how many crystals it was encrusted with, if you care to know) out of my mind, but the memory of the ki-oh-tee had remained vivid.

           The critter came up to me and brushed up against my leg, just as his brethren had, while my frightened fuck buddy groaned and backed away. He threatened to go on to the bar without me. It was nearly last call.

          “Go ahead” I spoke softly, so as not to startle my four-legged buddy.

           I wasn’t scared of him even if I should have been. I have an affinity for not being afraid of things that can easily hurt me. It is a curse more than a gift most of the time.

           I was suddenly overcome with an overwhelming urge to pet the meek animal. I knew how wrong it was. I had learned from a young age how to treat wildlife. You are definitely not supposed to pet them even if they come up to you, no matter how frickin’ adorable they are. But with my friends gone and no one else to see or judge, with the moon as our only lightsource and those damned yellow eyes which positively refused to look away from me, I had to reach down and feel him. It was no longer a choice. There’s no other way to explain it. When I did so, he did not move an inch. I thought this is it. I knew I might get snapped at. I was fully aware that other coyotes might be in the bushes and would jump out, ready to attack at my slightest touch of their comrad. I took a deep breath and lightly, slowly brushed my hand over his coarse head. His eyes immediately began to shut. They were usually open so wide that he looked eerily different with them closed. He scooted closer, his entire thin, stiff body now nestled between my calves. He trusted me and he wanted me to know it. But why? I hardly trusted myself.

           Next, something remarkable – which I still do not understand and do not expect you to either – happened to me. Touching the coyote like that had somehow caused me to experience a phenomenon I didn’t even believe in: an out of body experience. Suddenly, my body no longer existed to me but only my mind, watching my every move from afar. Almost as if I were watching a film, I watched intently as I consentually fucked stranger after stranger, voluntarily deep throated dick after dick, each time going home feeling blank and dissatisfied. These scenes were playing on a screen behind my eyes and I had no control over the remote. The volume was turned up all the way. There was no mute button. I heard myself quietly crying myself to sleep after a particularly damaging encounter with a stranger. The strangers in these scenes were not strangers I had slept with in real life, but they may as well have been the sandy haired stranger with the big chandelier or any that had come (inside of me) before him. That was the first time I had ever even considered that I felt used after having empty sex. All that time, I’d thought I was the one using men for sex because I wouldn’t give them any type of commitment. I wouldn’t go on dates with them even if they asked. I had deemed myself emotionally unavailable.

           It was hard to watch myself like that. If a friend of mine lacked respect for herself the way I clearly seemed to in those scenes, it would make me very sad indeed. I would surely talk to her about it. I would notify her of her grandoise beauty and enormous value to this world. I would urge her to perhaps masturbate more and learn to only sleep with men who treated her like a human being and not a plaything. If she had to sleep with strangers once in awhile, I would force her to always use protection. I would make that bitch get a birth control perscription and then, and only then, I would hug her and hold her and force her to talk to me about whatever it was that was hurting her inside so badly that she was trying to cure by having lots of sex with lots of different partners. That was when I realized that I did have a friend like that who needed me to do just those things. Her name was Myself.

           I can’t say if I was dreaming, drunk, dehydrated, or what, but I was certainly dizzy. I watched these scenes of this person I had gradually become but barely recognized making bad decisions for what seemed like hours. There was no end to the foreign film I had been forced to watch. No closure. The last thing I remember watching was a bigger-boobed version of myself showering off after yet another promiscuity-filled night. Then everything went black.

           I don’t remember falling down or sitting on the ground intentionally, but once it was all over, I was sitting cross-legged in the middle of the street with a dead coyote curled up in my lap.

          I think it is of importance to mention that I do not believe in fate. I don’t believe in a higher power. I do not know what happened to me that night. There is probably a reasonable explanation, I just haven’t come up with one yet. But then again, I don’t think I need to. Although it is a nice thought that the coyote was sent to deliver a message to me, I don’t think that’s true. I don’t believe it possible that he was put on this earth by some creator to open my eyes and teach me to love myself again. But I will tell you one thing: I have not had empty sex since. And now, when I find myself with an attractive man in Echo Park, I always demand to be kissed.