[Selected by Wiglaff magazine as one of the best 50 short short stories published in 2011.]
Where do they find these animals? The halt and the lame, the half-blind, the
parboiled, the skeptical showered in the alkaloid mud of a corral hammered slant behind
T. Murphy’s Snowmobile Shop. A fat pair of jacks, Arnold and Rooster, appear to be
twins. One has a roached mane. The other dandles fetlocks as curly as Buffalo Bill
Cody’s bleached mustache. Little Tom Petsch, the farrier, claims they can carry a load.
“Dead broke,” he says. “Climb a hill like a cat.” Little Tom owes back taxes to the
county, has a fetish for German handguns. He doesn’t believe he knows me. I suss
out the truss-hipped jenny that is said to come from Arizona where working the Grand
Canyon separates the wheat from the dog food. She’s as narrow as a mill race, the color
of wet Absaroka Mountain scree. She looks hungry for something. Her pumpjack head
primes the bony lever of her neck. I see how the tendons in her forelegs have been pin-
fired, a piss-poor job of it too. Futile. She’ll never tread the straight path again. The
wind looses its wet lash across the spine of Carter Mountain. The jenny works her lips
around stalks of cold, icy air. Her belly is salted with the eggs of absconded flies. I read
the spackle of her scattered scars as indebted starlight, as ash.