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.