Honestly Kid

by Daniel Damkoehler

 

premature fiction

Winchester Kady

Win kept his eyes shut and his body still last night, but he never truly slept. His mind kept working over minor details from the office, the growing collection of nagging pings and bangs coming from his car engine, the money his daughters needed in order to be teenagers, the attention his house needed in order to remain a house, and fueling it all, the anticipation of the the next day’s work.

And here it was, out in Brenlee, the town where his wife grew up. The whole reason he applied for his job with the county; so she could live closer to her ailing mother. A little Mexican boy.

Win didn’t hear his own molars grinding until he moved close to the folded over body, hoping it would spring up and run off with the foolish laughter of a kid’s stupid hoax. No movement. No laughter. Just that creaking friction under his ears. He squatted down and tried to breath. His eyes fell shut. Now, his body told him, now it is time to sleep and dream.

“Sir?” It was Hernandez, the only real officer Brenlee had. Why did he move here, anyway? The God-fearing types like his mother would say for this boy, now. And there was no doubt that this child was luckier in death to have such a good man attending him than he ever was in his small life. But all of this work, all the years of lost sleep, told Win Kady that there were no such plans for the innocent and the dead. They are always the victims or the benefactors of the decisions of the rest of us, the guilty living.

“Hernandez,” he said it with a deeper smoker’s rattle in his throat than usual. “Good work here.”

“Thank you, sir.”

Win stood and looked at Hernandez, a young fit, upright, light-skinned Hispanic, hardly more Mexican than himself, a pot-bellied middle-aged anglo-Irish gringo. Yet, this far north of the border, the lines between Spanish, native, and Mestiza are blurred by the complexities of language and the simplicity of racism. “I’ll be asking a lot of you for this case,” Win told him.
Hernandez looked down at his boots.

“Not just because you speak Spanish. Though that’s a factor. But mostly because we’re over worked and you’re the most competent officer in the immediate area.”

“What about Deputy–“

Win spat into the orchard. “Hell, I’ve known Chad Hoban since he was born. Nice kid. Couldn’t count the laces on his shoes without losing track.”

Hernandez shifted, but didn’t even smile. “Yessir.”

“We’ll give you a copy of the Coroner’s report.”

“Thank you, sir.”

Win looked down at the boy’s body again. “Goddamnit.” And he walked as quickly as he could into the orchard to throw up behind a tree.

Hernandez didn’t follow him, but after he finished asked, “Are you alright, sir? Can I get you something?”

Win tried to spit his mouth clean. “Call me Win.”

“Okay.”

“I’ll clear your extra hours with your boss. You hang around here a while. But not too close. Probably oughta take the day off when we’re done.” Hernandez cleared his throat and put the back of his hand to his lips, but Win Kady spoke before he could, “Fine don’t. But don’t pretend you can stand it. You don’t wanta end up wrapped too tight to sleep.” And the Chief County Inspector walked away into the orchard to smoke in private.