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.