Honestly Kid

by Daniel Damkoehler


premature fiction

Hell Once And For All

Pickem Sneed’s mind felt claustrophobic. The boy. The trees. Pruning to be done. Sheriff and police officer’s questions. Mable – a man has to protect his wife and family, doesn’t he? That poor boy and his small strong hands. Like his grandson, who’s job it is to deal with this now. But he doesn’t know. He’ll make the same mistakes. And he’s got orchards to tend to, a family of his own and everything else. And fracturing what room remained in his mind for peace and rest were the dark lines of a pattern that formed a face. The face of a man that hadn’t aged in his mind these 20 years. Where was he yesterday? Dead. Still dead. And the old man awoke.
Pickem hadn’t made it from his recliner in the living room to his bed last night. It happened, but not often, so he wasn’t too confused when he woke up and didn’t see Mabel’s face half buried in a pillow next to his own. Instead, he saw his reading glasses reflecting light coming through a living room window. The first dim light of the day opening the orchard and falling to this house. His home. Under his reading glasses, a copy of last weekend’s paper, but he hadn’t been reading that when he dozed off, he’d been fighting sleep as he read and re-read a paragraph of a true story about a man who tried to bring the Bible to China. Mabel said it was as good as The Good Earth. It wasn’t, but it passed the time.

He thinks he should call his son Kenny. He might be at the Fire Station, but he should try his house first. Kenny would know what’s going on. He would know what to do. And what to say if they asked about the other boy, the one from before. But what about the man? And that fella in prison? Pickem closes his eyes and tries to take a breath, clear his mind, and break out of this bad dream. The morning sun stretches across the carpeting and up the arm of his chair, warming his fingers. He can’t see a way out, trapped by things that never should have happened. Surely he must be dead already and all this some elaborate trick of the devil to steer him to hell once and for all.