Honestly Kid

by Daniel Damkoehler

 

premature fiction

Grady’s pt. 3

Adderley whis­pers over a fork full of drip­ping, syrup sod­den pan­cakes, “He’s still cry­ing.”

Oliveri replies qui­et­ly, ignor­ing his intern’s whis­per, “Yeh. He’s in pret­ty bad shape.” He loads the cor­ner of his wheat toast with egg and leans over to take a bite before it all ends up back on his plate.

Chew. Gulp. Chew. “Why?”

A sip of cof­fee and the mem­o­ry of his wife’s patient face remind­ing him to be more patient and kind than he thought wise. “He’s exhaust­ed, Adderley. And…”

What?”

I don’t know. Maybe there’s more to Perry than we thought.” And they con­tin­ue eat­ing in silence.

From the front of the din­er the sound of Grady ring­ing up one of the cus­tomers and then Perry clear, loud, and sharp, “You son of a bitch.”

Mr. Buedall, the well dressed real estate agent replies a lit­tle shocked, “What?”

Oliveri turns around in time to see Perry step­ping back off his stool. “I called you a son of a bitch. Maybe you ough­ta clean the shit out of your ears before you sit down to break­fast, ass­hole.”

Above the grum­blings and come on Perrys pass­ing along the break­fast counter, Buedall says “I think you have me con­fused with some one else, friend.”

I ain’t your friend. You’re the devel­op­er, right? Real Estate man? Bue-dall.”

Yes.”

Then I say you’re a son of a bitch, ass­hole.”

It was a threat and every­one wants to know what Buedall will do about it. Maybe if Oliveri could see the split sec­ond of pan­ic in the realtor’s eyes as he sizes up the sit­u­a­tion — three city coun­cil mem­bers includ­ing him­self, a large German man to his right behind the counter, a Brenlee city cop behind Perry, and a Volunteer Fireman between them — he would hear some­thing besides sure­ness in his slow, care­ful reply. “I’m not the one cov­ered in shit, cow­boy.”

Perry looks down at his own boots and stomps his right one so that pieces of dried mud and shit fall over the linoleum tile. When he looks up again, Oliveri sees the floures­cent light glis­ten­ing against the streaks of tears on the cowboy’s cheeks, betray­ing some­thing painful behind the broad smile he wears. “You’re fun­ny. Ain’t he fun­ny, Andy?”

Andy says noth­ing, only puts up his open hand. The Volunteer fire­man is as clean and fresh-faced as Perry is dirty and tired. His jeans and his pale yel­low golf shirt look new. There is lit­tle of note about Andy Currie. Oliveri has nev­er both­ered to fig­ure out why and how Andy is in Brenlee in the first place, but like most peo­ple he feels gen­er­al­ly glad he is around. Andy fits here.

And then Perry’s boots shuf­fle quick­ly against the floor as he pre­pares to run at Buedall. Andy stands in his way, putting his hands on the cowboy’s chest. Oliveri catch­es Hernandez’s face out of the cor­ner of his eye as it hap­pens. He looks like some­one who has cho­sen incor­rect­ly in a game of three card monte.
Perry yells, “Don’t you fuckin’ touch me Andy.”

Easy Perry. Relax.”

Fuck you.” And Perry hits Andy with an upper­cut to the gut and then comes down hard with more elbow than fist across the taller man’s face as he bends over in reac­tion to the blow to his stom­ach. Perry could push him aside and go for Buedall, but instead he rears back in order to kick Andy’s legs out from under him. As the Volunteer Fireman goes down, Perry doesn’t seem entire­ly sur­prised to feel Hernandez grab his arms from behind and shove him against the counter.

Good work, Hernandez.” Buedall doesn’t both­er to hide his relief. Oliveri smiled.

Get him out of here.” Grady is tru­ly dis­gust­ed.

Before Andy can get up and before any­one can say or do any­thing more, Hernandez push­es the cow­boy toward the door. As they pass the reg­is­ter, Perry twists around with a strength that sur­pris­es Hernandez. He lurch­es toward Buedall, “Just ’cause I didn’t get to hit ya’, don’t think I like ya’. Asshole.” And he spits in the realtor’s face.

Hernandez yanks him away hard, push­ing him into and through the door before the real­tor can return the favor.

When Andy returns to his seat to take an ice pack from Grady, Perry is in the back of the squad car laugh­ing or cry­ing, it’s hard to tell which from inside. Hernandez returns. He leaves mon­ey near the reg­is­ter and tells the restau­rant, “If any­one wants to press charges just come on down to the sta­tion lat­er and fill out a report. Meanwhile, I’ll lock him up until he sleeps this off.”

It is Andy’s voice that stops him on his way out, man­gling his words past the tow­el full of ice on his face, “He isn’t drunk.”

Hernandez turns and looks at the Volunteer Fireman. Another man would reach for words and maybe suc­ceed in putting all these men at ease. Hernandez didn’t have those words. Not today, any­way. But Andy sees into the officer’s eyes. They catch him off guard and he looks away. Hernandez leaves the din­er and takes Perry, laugh­ing, cry­ing, or both into the police sta­tion.