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.