The bright red F-450 dually blasting Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ came a little too fast into the gravel lot of the small country store that also served meat-and-three vegetable plates at lunchtime. Close to two dozen men were standing around lowered tailgates and sitting in the cabs of trucks parked in the shade, eating. A few looked up but most were focused on generous portions of chicken and dumplings, collards, and okra when the bright red truck skidded to a stop near the ice cooler near the door.
Trent opened his door and jumped down from the cab. His beard was thick and well-coiffed and he wore a navy blue t-shirt with the words “Consider Yourself Challenged” in white block letters on the front.
“Fuck!” he said. “This isn’t the Everglades. Better get in some push-ups.”
Screened from the others by his large truck, he did some quick stretches followed by light calisthenics then walked around the back of the dually toward the door.
“How’s that fricassee today, boys?” he said congenially while remembering to project total alpha as he passed the strangers and wondered which one was the alpha of the group. “Might have to try some before I leave.”
As before, a few looked up and stared while most continued eating and talking.
“What you haul with that dually?” asked one man wearing a “Bowhunters Do It At Full Draw” tee shirt asked. Trent stopped mid-stride and turned away from the door and addressed the man.
“Hey! I have a bow, too,” Trent remarked. “Don’t have it with me right now but I got some pics right here on the phone.”
“That the four wheel drive with the manual hubs?” another man asked, nodding at Trent’s truck. Still another asked, “Four-fifty turbo?”
“All of the above,” Trent shouted in answer to all of the questions, then added, “killer sound system, too. You guys ever listen to Journey? I’ve been thinking of playing them next time I walk out on stage at a show.”
“Yeah? You in a band?” one young man in an orange cap asked. “You play any Jason Aldean?”
“No, not a musician,” Trent answered. “I’m a men’s coach.”
“Oh yeah?” the young man asked. “High school or college? You that new defensive backs coach for Georgia?”
“No,” said Trent, “I mean, I do coach a kids’ swim team. But my main gig is online masculinity coaching. One of the manosphere’s most challenging.”
At that the young man grew silent and stared back at Trent. A few of the other men who had been listening just looked at each other and shrugged.
“The fuck is that?” asked the bowhunter.
Trent smiled. “I’m glad you asked,” he said. “Basically I spread the good news about masculinity. It’s okay to be a man today even though society is working against you. Well, I’m helping to change that, to change the West by helping men solve their problems, challenge them to be better. Like, just yesterday I helped a man in my online community deal with how to handle a wife who’s cheating on him.”
“Throw the whore out,” said a man at the back of the group. “That’s what I did. Then I fucked her step-mama and her cousin.” They all laughed. “But not at the same time,” he clarified.
“Haha,” Trent laughed uneasily. “Well you gotta do what you gotta do, right?”
At that, the men quit listening and went back to eating and Trent went looking for the men’s room.
“Ok I’ll be seeing you boys,” he said a few minutes later on his way back to his truck. He climbed in and the big diesel engine chugged to life.
The men eating in the shade had finished their lunches and were now filing by the trash can and dropping their styrofoam plates and plastic forks. They could hear Don’t Stop Believin’ as Trent pulled out even though his windows were up.
“The fuck is ‘online man spears’?” the bowhunter asked.
The young man in the orange cap shrugged. “Some gay ass shit, you ask me.”
The rest of the group nodded in agreement as they headed back to the job site.