Honestly Kid

by Daniel Damkoehler

 

premature fiction

Ballast

His only dream was an aggressive slideshow full of images of the day behind him and imagined scenes of the day ahead. It repeated itself with subtle variations throughout the night. By 4:30 AM Hernandez felt more tired than he had when he went to bed four hours earlier. He sat on the edge of the bed. He pushed his fingers through his hair and leaned his forehead into the palms of his hands.

“Unplug man. You gotta unplug.” He whispered to himself. He felt dry and heavy. He staggered to the bathroom hoping a shower might wash his brain into focus. It didn’t.

He dressed in his newest uniform, double checking everything because he knew he couldn’t be trusted. In the living room he realized he had not holstered his weapon. He found it on his nightstand near the alarm clock and a picture of Theresa. She would hate that, he thought. Frustrated with himself he stood up straight and took a deep breath, eyes closed and hands at his sides.

What would make this better? How could he sleep finally? Breathe easily? Feel at some kind of peace with the world? Why was he here? Why was he in this uniform with a gun on his hip? He didn’t really believe that catching the person who killed the boy would answer all or any of these questions.

He looked at himself in the mirror one more time and then down at his picture of Theresa. He pulled his gun case out from under his bed and kneeling down, unlocked and opened it. He took out his ankle holster and strapped the small Beretta Tomcat to his ankle, pulling down his pants to conceal it. He had tried to give it to Theresa two years ago, but she had refused it. He kept it. Only firing it once every few months, just to remember how it felt, which was light and basically reliable, but strictly for backup. Bringing it is an act of desperation, but it makes him feel better. He has ballast.

The right side of his mouth bends into a smile and even though he feels a headache coming on, he feels clear all of a sudden. He knows how to start this day. Where to go and who to talk to and maybe, he thinks, even what that old man who ran the paper was up to.