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.”