Honestly Kid

by Daniel Damkoehler

 

premature fiction

Luke Bettis

First off, I did­n’t do it. I don’t need none of that. I’m a screw up, but I’m not some kin­da sicko. They’re gonna say all kinds of bull­shit about my record and what­ev­er, but I did­n’t do it.”

Do what?”

Luke looked up from the place where the stuc­co met the cement floor of the porch. “Nobody told you?”

Told me what?” William drank from his cof­fee mug, hop­ing it would clear his head.

This morn­ing. Early. They found a boy killed out in an orchard just out­side of town.”

Who’s orchard?”

How the fuck do I know? It was out just over that lit­tle canal where Wesley crashed his motor­cy­cle that time.” He waved his hand in the gen­er­al direc­tion of the Brenlee Irrigation District canal that used to be the north­west bor­der of town.

The twist in William’s stom­ach made his hands feel week and he tried to casu­al­ly put down his cof­fee mug before he dropped it. “A kid from around here?”

Yeah. A Mexican kid. About ten years old.” Luke looked out at William’s yard. Neither off them spoke for a long time. Then mat­ter-of-fact­ly, he said “You need to mow your lawn.”

That’s not the same place as Tommy.” A half-heart­ed dis­missal.

It’s close enough. Nothin’s that far apart around here, any­way.”

It’s dif­fer­ent.”

Luke Bettis looked at William. He want­ed to hit him. “If it was, Billy, you would­n’t have to say so.”

William shook his head, avoid­ing Luke, “Dude. It’s dif­fer­ent.”

He took three quick steps towards William to stand right in front of him. “Look at me you god­damned col­lege edu­cat­ed ston­er. Look at me.”

William looked up at Luke.

It’s the same thing as Tommy.”

Tommy was­n’t Mexican.”

Luke growled from the back of throat, “I’ll kick your ass, Billy.”

Okay.”

Luke walked back across the porch. He leaned against the stuc­co rail­ing and crossed his arms across his chest.

What makes you think they’ll come after you?”

Same thing that made ’em go after Mike Boone. He was an ex-con who hung around town messin’ with peo­ple.”

Your role mod­el.”

Not by choice.”

William sighed to hide a laugh.

Luke shift­ed his feet. “I know what you think, but it’s not…” He could nev­er say he did­n’t feel in con­trol of his own life and maybe that was the prob­lem.

It’s dif­fer­ent now. Different cops. And I think they have to let the coun­ty deal with it.”

It don’t feel dif­fer­ent. Hell, some kid lets the air out­ta some old lady’s tires and they pick me up or come to my house.” He looked and sound­ed hon­est­ly mys­ti­fied at the idea of being any­one’s prime sus­pect. To have heard him tell it, a per­son might even have thought Luke had nev­er dipped into the till at the local liquor store. Never tried to burn down his moth­er’s house for the insur­ance mon­ey. Never held an elder­ly cou­ple at shot­gun point in their home in order to steal their per­son­al sav­ings and Cadillac.

So, what do you want me to do about it?”

Talk to that cop you know.”

Hernandez?”

Tell him about Tommy. Tell him I would­n’t do that to any kid. Not after the way we found him that day.”