Honestly Kid

by Daniel Damkoehler

 

premature fiction

An Empty Morning

The phone rang six times before Bergoyan answered. “Hello?” Irritated and grog­gy, the old man’s voice was dry leaves against rust.

Bergoyan?”

Yes? This is Phillip Bergoyan.”

This is Oliveri. Charlie Oliveri.”

Yes.”

Oliveri wait­ed. He didn’t want to kill the for­mal­i­ties him­self, just to let them die in a long pause. They with­ered and he spoke, “I have some news.”

Please.”

There’s been anoth­er boy killed.”

Through the receiv­er, Oliveri could hear some­thing catch in the man’s throat before he replied, “The same way?”

Same way.”

I’m sor­ry. I had hoped–” Old man Bergoyan trailed off lost in a thou­sand hopes too small and impor­tant to name.

I know. I know.” Charlie Oliveri shift­ed back into his desk chair and watched the dark­ness of ear­ly morn­ing over Brenlee through his office win­dows. “Also. By coin­ci­dence or maybe not, I had a vis­it from a lawyer last night.”

Oh?”

From Sacramento.” He read the name of the firm from the papers on his desk. “Finster, Windham, & Marshall.” He wait­ed for that to sink in.

The Boone boy?”

That’s right. They didn’t give me the details, but he died up in Folsom Prison yes­ter­day.”

Yes. Yes.”

You okay?”

No, but that doesn’t mat­ter.” The old man sound­ed angry.

Hey, Phil-”

I had hoped to be dead before any of this hap­pened again, Charlie.”

Oliveri bit back a dozen cru­el ways he could have answered the man’s self-pity. “I deliv­ered your let­ter to the inves­ti­gat­ing offi­cer. He’s a good man. Name of Hernandez.”

Mexican?” Oliveri didn’t answer. “That’s good.”

Well, he’ll prob­a­bly be get­ting in touch with you soon enough.”

Will he? They will let him?”

I don’t know the sit­u­a­tion or him all that well, but I get the feel­ing he does what he wants.”

There was a long pause filled with the blank mod­u­lat­ing hum of the open line between the two men. Finally, Oliveri spoke, “Why did you wait, Phil?”

I… it couldn’t be touched, Charlie. But now… maybe…”

What?”

I should go. You have a paper…”

Maybe what, Phil?”

Thank you, Charlie. Good morn­ing.” And the old man dis­con­nect­ed.

Oliveri almost called him right back. He put the phone in the its cra­dle and looked at the emp­ty streets of Brenlee and the des­o­late rail yards. The only word he could find to describe this morn­ing was ‘hol­low’, so inex­act and vague, yet so per­fect­ly apt. A thick black three col­umn head­line: Brenlee Morning Feels Hollow.