Best Laid Plans
by Jack Ford
A graveside service seemed like a good plan at the time. I’d have Darlene cremated (it was cheaper than a casket), pay the cemetery maintenance guy ten bucks to dig the hole, then head on over to O’Riley’s bar to celebrate.
Slick, quick; no fuss, no muss.
But then it rains—not hard, but it’s December, and ice cold water’s running down my neck, freezing my toes, and I can’t feel my fingers. Been simpler to stuff her in a trash bag and leave her at the curb for the trash man.
I heft the cheap plastic urn in my hand. Four pounds of gray ash. $4.50 worth of burned up elements. More than Darlene was worth, I figure.
The cemetery guy’s bitching about it being too cold to dig a hole. I give the asshole another five. He quits complaining and keeps digging.
I’m thinking about the day I come home, found Darlene packed and gone, and I want a better life scrawled in lipstick on the wall over our bed. That’s all I get for ten years out of my life? Best ten years the bitch ever had, I figure.
Well, her better life lasted her less than twenty-four hours. A Mexican cleaning woman at a by-the-hour motel found the bodies of Darlene and her lover-man in bed; her long legs wrapped around him, both shot several times.
I smile. Karma’s a real bitch.
The digger’s stopped digging. “Hole’s deep enough,” he says.
Maybe it is, maybe it ain’t. All I’m caring about is sitting warm and dry down at O’Riley’s drinking Bushmills. “Deep enough for me,” I say.
“You gonna say any words?” His tone telling me he hopes not.
I think about some words. They don’t come easy. Darlene wasn’t much for listening when she was alive. I doubt her being dead has changed things. Still, she was my wife, so I probably should say something.
“She had nice tits,” I say, drop the urn into the hole, and head for my car.
I see the black Ford sedan parked under an oak tree. It’s not a surprise. Two guys in snap-brimmed Fedoras and rain slickers are waiting for me. Crowley and Hornsby. Two of West Memphis’ finest. They’ve arrested me a few of times, but they couldn’t make anything stick. I’m too smart.
Crowley’s got his gun out, letting it hang loose like it’s not really there. “You gonna give me any trouble?”
I turn around. I ain’t stupid either.
Hornsby cuffs me, snapping them too tight. It hurts, but I don’t let him know. He shoves me into the back seat, climbs in beside me. Crowley gets behind the wheel, keys the ignition.
As we’re driving out of the cemetery Crowley lights up a Pall Mall, and blows the smoke in my face.
“What made you think you could get away with it?” he asks.
It’s a good question, but I don’t have a good answer. I just shrug and say, “Seemed like a good plan at the time.”
Crowley snorts, and Hornsby laughs. I laugh, too.
Sometimes, I tell myself, things just don’t go as planned.
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Jack Ford is a retired General Motors Systems Analyst and has been writing since he was fourteen. He prefers short stories, and even more, flash fiction.
2 thoughts on “Best Laid Plans”
Tough and tight. Good read. AGB
More of an addendum than a reply. Reflecting on the story, it just occurred to me that the title is a triple entendre. Can’t help but wonder if intended or fortuitous. AGB