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Short Fiction: “Plan Be”



I met Troy and Clay at the Palomino, thinking they were chain-fighting bikers from Barstow. Over a beer, they explained (with pride) that they’d cleaned up and were now machinists out near the Speedway.

Not brothers, certainly not gay, they’re men cut from the same sheet metal. They took a shine to me, and over another beer, said in unison, “Why don’t you come back and meet our wife?”

With all the rumors around of polygamous Mormons, my ears pricked up at that phrase, “our wife,” and I felt an anthropological imperative to investigate.

Let’s call the trailer park the Thunder Eagle … rusted cars, American flags, sun faded plastic flowers and pitbulls (theirs is scruffy caramel named Rufus).

Their “wife” turned out to be Serena, a curvy, no-nonsense Latina with a scar under her left ear, who made the best carne asada. It seemed to be just as they’d said — not a seedy ménage a trois, but some new and strangely hopeful improvisation on the American family. We watched Extreme Cage Fighting, and I explained how Rufus’ skin condition could be treated without drugs. They grew so cordial as to suggest, “There’s a trailer for sale. You could move in here!”

“I’d be worried about my new car,” I confessed.

“Oh, we’ll make sure that’s OK. Just don’t do Serena.”

You see? Never judge a pit bull by its scabs. There’s plenty of kindness in weird strangers — and everyone needs a Plan B.