Honestly Kid

by Daniel Damkoehler


premature fiction

The Boy Who Stopped Breathing

Hernandez looked at his desk. He did­n’t want to leave. He did­n’t want to work. There was no more work to do today, any­way. Everything would hap­pen tomor­row.

Tomorrow he would have a coro­ner’s report and a report detail­ing all of the oth­er evi­dence from the crime scene. He would know what make of tires were on the vehi­cle that brought Gabriel to the orchard, he would know more about what mate­r­i­al the per­son used to cov­er his or her foot­prints (the inves­ti­ga­tors could iden­ti­fy pat­terns in the way the fine dust along the side of the dirt road had been moved around), he would know the size and like­ly shape of the knife used to slice through the boy’s throat and whether or not that cut had killed him, he would know how much blood the boy lost, what he ate last, and what kind of rope had burnt his small wrists.

Tomorrow he and two oth­er offi­cers would begin call­ing the par­ents of Gabriel’s class­mates. How well did your son or daugh­ter know Gabriel? Did you know Gabriel? What did you think of him? When was the last time you saw him? May we speak with your son or daugh­ter? Yes, you may be present, though we would pre­fer to inter­view him or her indi­vid­u­al­ly. If he was lucky, they would begin inter­view­ing the kids tomor­row.

Tomorrow the coun­ty would release a full state­ment to the press. He would receive a dozen or more phone calls and who knows how many emails request­ing a state­ment of his own. He would point them to anoth­er tomor­row and they would wait.

Tomorrow he would track down Gabriel’s par­ents, prob­a­bly in the evening, in plain clothes. Someone would help him find their house. Maybe one of the oth­er offi­cers. Maybe one of Gabriel’s friends or some­one like William. Maybe, though he doubt­ed it, they would find him. Everything they said would be off the record. He would not report them. He could­n’t. No one in Brenlee would ever trust him again, even the ones who said they were tired of all the ‘ille­gals.’

Tomorrow he would wake up grog­gy from the sleep­ing pill and shot of Jack Daniels he would need in order to sleep tonight.

Tomorrow he would call Theresa and tell her what hap­pened. She would be angry at first, com­ing off 24 hours at the hos­pi­tal, but she would under­stand. She would prob­a­bly wait to remind him that he should have stayed in San Jose. All of this would nev­er con­vince her that being togeth­er would be worth mov­ing to Brenlee.

Tomorrow maybe he would eat some­thing final­ly and stop think­ing of Gabriel’s open hand reach­ing across the dust and dirt of that orchard, reach­ing, he thought he knew, for him. And maybe tomor­row he would at last feel able to clear his throat and take the full deep clean breath that had elud­ed him since see­ing the body that was once a boy.