Honestly Kid

by Daniel Damkoehler

 

premature fiction

Dirty Work

“How do you know?”

“What?”

Neither William nor Hernandez had spoken in the last half hour as they sat drinking beer and watching the Giants struggle against an old pitcher from Chicago who had no business doing so well.

“How do you know?” Hernandez asked again.

William looked at him, but Hernandez’s eyes remained directed at the TV. “How do I know what?”

“How do you know it’s the same guy? How does Oliveri know? How does everyone know so damned much about this murder?”

William had never been interrogated before and it made him uncomfortable. He went to the kitchen for another beer and answered lamely across the formica bar separating the small kitchen from the living room. “People talk.”

Another Giants batter struck out and Hernandez turned off the TV. “They talk about the details of a body they haven’t even seen?”

“They don’t need the details, the general gist is enough. The details might slow ’em down.”

“You mean ‘us’. ‘Slow us down.'”

William wanted to leave. “So, it’s an ‘us and them’ thing now?”

“No, it’s a ‘all of you and me’ thing now.”

“Take it easy, man. You know it’s not that way.”

“Sure it is.”

“Then why did I come over here? Why did Oliveri? You sound like Luke Bettis.”

“At least his ass makes sense to me.”

“What’s that mean?”

“He wants to keep his dumb white ass outta jail. I can respect self-preservation. What do you guys want?”

William gulped down more beer. “We wanta do the right thing. To get whoever–“

“Bullshit.”

“–did this to this kid.”

“Bullshit. Bullshit.”

“Why else would we come here and tell you about Mike Boone and Tommy?”

“If you gave a shit about Boone and Tommy you would have spoken up a long time ago and so would this old newspaper man with his goddamned letter. Everybody wanted things quiet. You all just wanted it to go away.”

“Some of us couldn’t speak up. I was a kid-“

“You’re not now.” Hernandez finished his beer and continued quietly. “And now you want somebody to do your dirty work.”

William looked at Hernandez who was looking seriously down the neck of his beer bottle. He put on his best redneck accent and squirted a sip from his beer bottle the way a good redneck does before making a prounouncement. “Well, ya’ know what they say don’t ya’? There’s nothin’ like a Mexican for dirty work.” And then he waited, suddenly worried that Hernandez wouldn’t get the joke.

“Asshole,” Hernandez said into his bottle. And he smiled and shook his head, “That’s too close to the truth, bro.” He chuckled and looked over at William.

“It’s not funny. That’s why it’s funny.”

And Hernandez finally laughed hard. Too hard. “This fucking sucks. This is the worst goddamned day…”