Honestly Kid

by Daniel Damkoehler


premature fiction

No Trouble

Bergoyan invit­ed William into the kitchen where he made more cof­fee and a sin­gle soft-boiled egg on unbut­tered toast. When the cof­fee was ready, he brought out a bot­tle of Jameson’s Whiskey to “help the cof­fee.” William did not decline when offered. After he ate his egg, the old man returned to the sto­ry of Tommy’s moth­er as though break­fast were mere­ly a com­pli­cat­ed paran­the­ses, “She went miss­ing, you know.”

No.” Somehow, maybe it was the whiskey, William was­n’t thrown by the non-sequiter.

After they found Tommy. Once she was cleared, she left town. No one knew where.”

Why did she come to you?”

She knew some­thing. She went to see Boone in jail and he sent her to me.”

What hap­pened?” William could­n’t help feel­ing that the old man was now secret­ly delight­ed he’d shown up to hear his sto­ry.

He raised his bushy grey eye­brows with more than innu­en­do, “She told me her secrets.”

What secrets?”

She told me about Tommy’s father. Not the man whose name he wore at your school — this Coates char­ac­ter — but his real father.”

Who was that?”

Your friend Tommy was a Sneed.” He made the name sound almost like roy­al­ty.

A what?”

He was Trot Sneed’s son. She had had Tomas two years before she mar­ried Albert Coates. She moved away from Brenlee before the preg­nan­cy showed with­out a word to her true love, but Trot knew any­way. Eight years lat­er, after Coates left her, she moved back to Brenlee with her son and no mon­ey. Nowhere to go. Her fam­i­ly had dis­owned her when she got preg­nant. She found Trot.”

Did he help her?”

He was mar­ried, but yes, he found her a house, a job, gave her mon­ey… His wife Sherri knew noth­ing about it. No one in his fam­i­ly was to know any­thing at all. Especially his father. Ken Sneed want­ed no trou­ble with his heirs. That’s how she told it. ‘No trou­ble.’ He meant no Mexicans — or any­one else inter­est­ing I imag­ine. Trot and Maria had split because of Ken, but Trot did­n’t know that.”

What?” William began to won­der if the old man’s sto­ry would be inter­rupt­ed by a soap com­mer­cial. He poured more cof­fee for him­self and an equal por­tion of Jameson’s to help.

The old man smiled with noth­ing like delight, “Kenny Sneed sent Maria Batista away with a thou­sand dol­lars and the strong sug­ges­tion she abort. He scared her fam­i­ly into dis­own­ing her and they moved too. He swore he would ruin them. Get her father fired from the can­nery. Have her broth­ers and sis­ters expelled from school — he was on the school board then.”

Didn’t he know she came back?”

Of course, but he thought the dan­ger of Trot mar­ry­ing a Mexican had passed and he did­n’t care about Tomas as long as Maria made ‘no trou­ble.’ Oh yes, he came to her house and warned her away as reg­u­lar­ly as he got drunk. Once a week. For three years, Maria kept Trot’s father’s vis­its a secret from her old love.”

And vice ver­sa.”

Ah, smart boy. Yes, Trot still loved Maria, still came to her in the after­noons, but he did­n’t know Tomas was his son. Not at first.”

That would mean trou­ble.”

And it did.” Bergoyan fin­ished his cof­fee and whiskey and his eyes fell to his formi­ca kitchen table, but he did­n’t see it, instead the old man looked at an anx­i­ety or pain not his own, some­thing so pow­er­ful and yet so close to invis­i­ble that it drove its own­er mad. “Maria’s secrets…” he whis­pered and William would­n’t let him­self guess what he meant now.