Honestly Kid

by Daniel Damkoehler

 

premature fiction

Grady’s pt. 2

Adderley takes five packets of sugar from the holder at the end of the table. He lines them up evenly, holds their paper tops between the thumb and forefinger of his left hand and shakes all of the sugar to the bottom of the packets. Then he tears off the tops and dumps the contents into his mug of bitter brown coffee.

Oliveri shudders in response, clouding but not stirring his coffee with cream. He sets the empty plastic container in the middle of the table where it is soon joined by Adderley’s empty sugar packets and the intern’s two cream containers.

“Empty seat next.” Adderley’s spoon clinks against the inside of his coffee mug.

“Is there a paper there? Or an empty coffee mug?”

“Nope.”

“Okay.”

Adderley approaches his coffee as though it is Chateau Margeaux. He sips. He closes his eyes and ponders. He sips again and then he smiles.

“Well?”

“Mr. Nuñez.”

“Who?”

“He’s an older Mexican man. He always wears a nice straw cowboy hat and a plaid shirt. His shoulders are kind of bent. I think he’s Theresa’s landlord or something.” Theresa is Adderley’s weekend counterpart at The Brenlee News.

“Right. He’s a regular. Never says a thing.” Oliveri makes a mental note to ask Theresa about Nuñez. “Next to him is Maxon Cantwell, right?”

“Is he the old guy who sings the national anthem on Wagon Wheel Day?”

“That’s him.”

“He’s got good posture for an old guy.”

“Retired military.”

Adderley’s eyes dart from the counter to Oliveri and then he not-so-nonchalantly looks out the window at the construction site next door.

“What’s up?”

“Andy Currie is looking over at me.”

“Is he in uniform?”

“What?”

“Is he dressed for a fire?”

“Yes. I mean, no. He has his walkie talkie though and his Volunteer Firefighter cap is hanging on the coatrack.”

Oliveri calmly directs his intern. “Now, look back at me like we’re talking baseball now.”

Adderley looks across the table at Oliveri and sips his coffee. “Sorry. I thought he was going to make me laugh.”

“Yeah, Andy does have a knack for that.”

“He has the goofiest face. Sometimes.”

The door to Grady’s opens as Oliveri asks, “Who else?”

A little befuddled, Adderley answers as quickly as he can, “Another empty – on the corner there. Then Officer Hernandez and another empty-“

And everyone is interrupted by the loud new arrival, “Howdy fellas. What’s for breakfast back there Grady? Helluva day, am I right? Hey there, Mr. Langen. Preacher. Frankie. Batmaxon and El Robin. Andy Pandy and El Capitain. Busy day you got, Grady.”

As the new arrival runs through his Good Old Boy Routine, Oliveri speaks quietly to Adderley who looks a little frightened, “Perry Foltz, right? Hasn’t read the paper or heard the news.”

“I doubt he’d care. He’s in full shitkicker regalia too.” Adderley whispers over his coffee.

“Yeah, I can smell his boots over here. At least he’s working anyway.” Perry was a cowboy who arrived too late for a life on the range and spent most of his days drinking and talking rodeo at the local bars, unless one of the few remaining local ranchers had a little work to keep him sober. He was only two years older than Adderley but spoke with every man as an equal and perhaps because he took the responsibility and privilege of such an attitude with equanimity no one considered him precocious, only rough hewn and spirited.

The Good Old Boy Routine continues. “Well, hell fellas I’ll sit next to the Mexican. Shit, what’s the big deal.”

Adderley watches him take the corner seat between Andy and Hernandez as though he’s doing everyone a favor, but thinks he sees him looking genuinely pleased with his position.

From the kitchen, Grady says only “Perry.”

“Sorry, Grady. Gotta watch my language.” He half mumbles to the group.

Trying lamely to make light of the cowboy’s noisome entrance, Andy asks “How drunk are you Perry?”

“Not very, Andy. Not very at all.”

Hernandez slides Perry his copy of The Brenlee News. He glances at the headline and then tips his battered grey cowboy hat back and leans over to read the front page. Everyone is silent. The eggs and hashbrowns sizzle on the grill. The coffee maker drips. Ice falls in the ice machine. Perry leans back and removes his hat. Now unshielded from the flourescent lights, the dirt and sweat of the previous day or two of work become visible across his forehead and cheeks. Oliveri gives up the pretense of having Adderley do his looking for him and turns to see that what Andy thought was drink is clearly the giddiness of exhaustion now draining from the young man’s body. “Well, shit. What is this?”

No one answers. No one can look at Perry for more than a moment at a time. They gaze into their breakfasts or mugs of coffee instead of his red-rimmed eyes, slack mouth, and the tears racing without a sound to his chin. Hernandez gently takes back his paper and then steps behind the counter to pour the cowboy a coffee. Grady brings platters of eggs, pancakes, toast, hashbrowns, and bacon out to Oliveri and Adderley who know exactly where they are and who’s there with them.

2 Responses to “Grady’s pt. 2”

  1. Penner » January 2nd, 2007

    Have you ever tried to open five packets of sugar at once? Even three takes quite a bit of torque.

  2. dandam » January 6th, 2007

    He’s a sugar fiend! I’m tagging this post as ‘Raw’ and as I go through all of the posts checking them over, will tag the revised ones as ‘Cooked’.

    I’m considering ways to make Adderley’s sugar use both a little more believable and extreme.

    Thanks and keep on commenting on stuff like this!