Honestly Kid

by Daniel Damkoehler

 

premature fiction

Luke’s Last Friend

William tried to remem­ber the last time he had seen Luke. High school grad­u­a­tion? Did Luke even grad­u­ate? Yes, he remem­bered the way Luke smirked his way to the podi­um. To his own sur­prise, the smar­tass soc­cer jock had made it. And his adult life began the next day. No col­lege. Straight to work at the toma­to can­nery. William spent the first half of the sum­mer trav­el­ing with his Dad and the last six weeks before col­lege in that same can­nery. They had already fired Luke by the time they hired William.

William looked at the over­grown boy propped up on his porch and remem­bered the way Luke had always made him feel — small, wimpy, and worth­less, beat­ing him at every sport with­out try­ing, laugh­ing at the way he always tried to do the right thing, and teas­ing him for ever cry­ing. And now, he stood there expect­ing William to help him. He looked at him, wait­ed until Luke looked up and said, “I don’t owe you any­thing, Luke.”

Luke swal­lowed. He looked fright­ened, slip­ping under the sur­face and into a for­got­ten cur­rent of a wild, unfor­giv­ing riv­er. “Yeah, you do.”

Why? What for?”

Because of Tommy.”

You used to beat Tommy up. You picked on him all the time. On all of us, except when you need­ed more guys on your side of a soc­cer team.” William would nev­er admit out loud that he actu­al­ly enjoyed see­ing Luke so help­less.

But he stuck around. He didn’t have a chance with you and Greg. You guys were off doing your prep­pie thing. He thought he was my friend.”

We weren’t prep­pies.” William snapped.

Whatever.”

There aren’t any prep­pies in Brenlee.”

No shit. Took ya’ long enough to fig­ure it out.”

We just want­ed… to get out of here.” He won­dered why it mat­tered to him so much. Maybe because once he met some real prep­pies, he knew he would always be just a boy from dirt­bag Brenlee.

And now you’re back.” Luke meant and William heard, now you’re just like me. Stuck. A fail­ure in a failed place.

So what.”

We found him, Billy. And we looked at him. You and me. Not Greg or any oth­er ass­hole. We saw his body. Smelled his shit. Tried to make him move. Touched his throat.”

William saw his own hand go into that twist­ed heap of a per­son look­ing for a pulse and come up bloody. “Shuttup.”

Luke stood up from the porch rail­ing. He paced the porch and for the first time in his life didn’t tease Billy Loof for cry­ing. He stopped at the top of the steps down to the moss-stained red brick path to the dri­ve way. He turned around. “You gonna talk to him?”

What else?”

Whatever you want.”

I’ll talk to him. You just keep your shit togeth­er.”

What’s that mean?”

Don’t make me look like ass­hole.”

Too late.” Luke smiled and skip-stepped back­wards down the porch steps. “See ya’ Billy.” And quick­ly, before William could recon­sid­er, this old ghost hur­ried to his car and drove away.

See ya’.” William said into his hands.