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!