Honestly Kid

by Daniel Damkoehler


premature fiction

William’s Day

After Luke Bettis left, William gath­ered all his things from the porch and went inside. He took a show­er so he he would­n’t have to hear the phone if it rang again. He got out only after he had used all of the hot water. As he dressed he kept repeat­ing “Goddamnit” under his breath, over and over again. Looking at him­self in the mir­ror, same old blue jeans, plain black t‑shirt, too thick around the mid­dle, and hair with no direc­tion he said, “I’m not even sup­posed to be here.” He did­n’t know where he was sup­posed to be instead, but his par­en­t’s house in Brenlee, California, was cer­tain­ly not it.

He knew it would­n’t help, but he smoked anoth­er joint any­way. He want­ed to be con­fused. He ate a large bag of tor­tilla chips, drank a beer and fell asleep on the couch lis­ten­ing to Pablo Casals tak­ing care of Bach. The dig­i­tal clock on the TV cable box read 3:12 when the phone woke him from his nap. He did­n’t answer it. A few min­utes lat­er he went to his office to check his voice­mail. Three peo­ple had called, but none of them left mes­sages.

He real­ized now that he was just killing time before he went to talk to Hernandez and, not want­i­ng to do any­thing else, for the first time in six months he thought about call­ing Clara. Maybe just to prove how mis­er­able his life was, or maybe because they had once been friends and she might have some­thing use­ful to say. He would have to explain about Tommy though and that he could­n’t do. Not to her. Not now. And he relaized for the first time (would­n’t his ther­a­pist be hap­py to know?) that he could nev­er explain any­thing that mat­tered to Clara. Their rela­tion­ship was sim­ply too far gone.

He looked out the win­dow of his office and saw that the street was not as emp­ty as before. Now there were par­ents walk­ing chil­dren home from the school, a car or two pass­ing, and old peo­ple water­ing their lawns. He went to the kitchen to make cof­fee and wake his ass up before speak­ing with Hernandez. On his way to the kitchen he stopped at the hall clos­et. From the top shelf he took down an old card­board box which he took with him to the kitchen, set­ting it in the mid­dle of the kitchen table. He stared at it while he wait­ed for the cof­fee to brew.

What’s in the box?”

He jumped and looked to his left. Tamra stood in the kitchen door way. “Shit. You scared me.”

Sorry. You said last time to just let myself in.”

You said last time was the last time.”

Yeah.” She wore jeans and a loose but­ton down shirt, prob­a­bly an old men’s dress shirt. Her eyes looked tired from cry­ing.

I guess you heard about the kid.”

And so did you. Been med­icat­ing?”

How’d you guess?”

Stinks in this house.” She opened the win­dow over the kitchen sink and then the win­dow near the kitchen table.

Sorry.” He looked down at his feet. “Want some cof­fee?”

Tamra’s feet appeared right in front of his. “Decided to wake up, huh?”

I have to go talk to Hernandez.”

You going to look at me?”

He could smell her hair, prac­ti­cal­ly feel the warmth of her body she stood so close to him. He did not want her to move away. “I can see your feet.”

She wait­ed and then said, “William Loof, look at me.”

If I do that, I’m afraid what will hap­pen next.”

I’m not.” She put her arms around him and he looked up, drop­ping his arms from his chest so that he could hold her in return, stroking her hair and cry­ing into it.

I’m a wreck,” he whis­pered.

But a per­fect wreck.” She told him and for the first time all day, his mind began to race, try­ing to fig­ure out if this was com­fort, love, or some­thing else entire­ly.