Honestly Kid

by Daniel Damkoehler

 

premature fiction

Maria’s Story Pt.2

When she finally went inside after rolling Kenneth Sneed on his side so he wouldn’t die in his sleep on her front lawn, Neto was sitting on the couch near the front door.

“You heard that?” She asked him.

“Maria, what’s going on?”

“Neto, I told you to go to bed.”

“Does he know who did this?”

“Forget you heard anything, mijo.”

He shook his head. “This is no good, Maria.”

“I know. So, don’t say anything. I don’t need you hurt too.”

“What’s this about?”

“I don’t know, Neto.” And she walked into the kitchen to end the conversation.

Neto started to follow his sister, but turned to look through the screen door at the man passed out on her lawn. A rich man who lived poor. The kind of man their father had worked for his whole life. A gringo with all the power it takes to drive on other people’s lawns drunk and pass out and have no one say anything about it, but no one, not even his own children, trusted or liked in him. He went to Maria. She was sitting at the kitchen table with a cold cup of coffee.

“Trying to stay awake for something?” He smiled.

She didn’t quite look at him, but she didn’t ignore him either. “I’m afraid, Neto.”

“Of him.” He nodded his chin towards the front lawn.

Her eyebrows went up. She was surprised at her own answer. “No, not him.”

“What?”

“Maybe what I’ll dream. Sleeping anyway. Maybe what I’ll wake up to.”

Neto went to the fridge and settled on a can of beer and some chicken.

“How can you eat that now?”

“How can you drink that now?”

“You’re gross.”

“You’re weird.”

They glanced at one another and almost smiled. It wasn’t affinity or resemblance that gave them comfort in being brother and sister, but all the routine ways they drove one another nuts. “You know what I think?” He asked her.

“What?”

Neto wasn’t smiling anymore. He gulped down some beer and let out a quiet belch. “I think you oughta tell the cops this guy knows something.”

She looked at him, but did not reply.

“He knows something. He should say it in court, you know. It ain’t right, him keeping it to himself.”

“That’s up to him, Neto. I’m not telling him what to say. You know what he is.”

“I know.”

“Don’t you say anything either. That’s just trouble. Big trouble. Trot gets in trouble. I get in trouble. And he,” she pointed to the front lawn, “hates trouble. You get it?”

“I get it. I get it.” He ate and drank and then wrapped up what was left of the chicken and put it back in the fridge. Before he closed the door, he sighed, staring into the only light source in the room. He grabbed another beer. He knew he needed it if he was going to get back to sleep tonight. He closed the fridge and turned to look at his sister. She seemed thin, weak in a way he’d never seen. Something had broken in the only person besides his mother that he trusted and loved without reservation. He wanted to scream at her to get better, but knew that wouldn’t do a thing. He chewed his lip and stared with her out her kitchen window at the dark trees crouched together under the night.

“Maria, you do what you think is right. But Tomas won’t rest in peace if the person who killed him goes free. It doesn’t matter if you’re afraid of that man out there or not. His spirit, your little boy, won’t know the difference. His soul won’t sleep.” He didn’t wait for her answer, but went back to bed, knowing he wouldn’t rest either, not his body and never his soul with his sister’s now so damaged.