Part of a chapter I removed from my WIP because I didn't feel it did enough to advance the plot. The setting is a post-apocalyptic, low-tech desert Southwest, where drought, diseases and civil war are ongoing. Will is the only person in this scene not using a code name. They young women selected names based on what sounded cool from the little bit they could read on old billboards and ads.
Will found Tiffany and Ikea in the shade of a tree, mending arrows. A few feet away, two solar cookers shone in the afternoon sun. "What's for dinner?" he asked, sitting across from the girls and picking up an arrow.
"Put that down unless you plan on fixing it," Ikea said.
Will took a closer look. The fletching was frayed, so he took out his knife and got to work. "So what's for dinner?" he asked again.
"Beans," said Tiffany. "And hominy."
"Well, later we're going to look for something we can make a salad with," Ikea offered. "And Galileo is keeping an eye out for game while he's on watch. But--" she held an arrow shaft at eye level, checking that it was straight. "I figure if we just assume it'll be beans and hominy, then if it's something better we'll be pleasantly surprised."
"Which is better than being unpleasantly disappointed," her sister added.
"I suppose so." Will rummaged among the feathers and selected a straight-looking one with tight barbs. He held it against the shaft, frowned, and then set to work splitting and trimming it.
"So did Coyote get to see his train?" Ikea asked.
"Yeah. And it made him happy, even though he didn't get to derail it or blow it up."
The girls exchanged bemused, knowing looks.
"I just wish I understood why, if he likes trains so much, he feels like he has to destroy them. It doesn't make sense."
"Macy says the train has something to do with how he lost his parents, but she doesn't know any details."
He checked the trimmed feather against the shaft again and reached for the pot of glue. "Well, he's the new guy, so I suppose if he doesn't get himself killed, we'll find out eventually."
"Macy says she’s going to ask."
"Why? So she can harass him about it?"
Ikea looked at Will in surprise. "She wouldn't do that. She likes him."
"Could've fooled me. I know she likes his money, but she only fights with him the rest of the time."
"It's just their way."
"Like showing how much you like trains by destroying them?"
The girls fell silent and Will turned to see Coyote walking toward them across the patchy grass. He threw himself onto the ground beside their stack of arrows. "So what are we doing for fun this afternoon?"
"Fixing arrows," Will said. "Or making new ones if you prefer."
Coyote looked at the arrow in Will's hand, scowled and rolled over on his back, pillowing his head in his clasped fingers. "It's too nice a day to work," he said, closing his eyes against the sun. "We did some hard riding yesterday. This is a good afternoon to take a nap."
The others looked at him in dismay. "You took a nap just the other day," Will pointed out. "There'll be plenty of time for sleeping, even with taking our turns on watch."
“I've got other plans for tonight," Coyote said. "I need to get my rest now."
"What are you planning on doing tonight?" Ikea asked cautiously.
Coyote mumbled something without bothering to open his eyes.
"Did you check with Galileo?"
"I ain't no little kid who has to ask permission for everything."
"But we're soldiers," Will said. "We have to work together. And that means telling each other what we're doing and making sacrifices for the group, and --"
Coyote sat up. "And aren't you one to talk? Who found who sneaking around in the woods without permission a couple nights ago?" He got to his feet. "If anyone needs me for something important, wake me up. Otherwise I'll see you at dinner."
After he had gone, the three looked at each other in confusion. "Think we should say something to Galileo?" Ikea asked.
"We can figure this out ourselves," Will said. "We'll look like a bunch of tattling kids if we go running to Galileo every time Coyote acts weird."
"And he acts weird all the time," Tiffany agreed. "We'll keep an eye on him and see if we can figure out what he's up to."
Ikea selected a feather from the pile and squinted at it. Okay," she sighed. "But I sure hope it's not something dangerous. You never know with him."