Honestly Kid

by Daniel Damkoehler


premature fiction


When Hernandez returned to the car he looked for the peach, but it was gone. He didn’t feel any more at ease than when he first saw it. He closed eyes and pushed out a big sigh. His day had started with a schedule. A plan. Simple. Purpose built and purpose driven. Now…

Andy Currie…

The old man might be, hell, must be, senile. But he said he would testify. Against a neighbor, a boy he had watched grow up with his own. Maybe a visit with Ken Sneed would be a good idea. How reliable and healthy is Pickem Sneed (will he last the year or more it takes the courts to bring something like this to trial, even if there is anything real to link Currie (Brenlee’s favorite goofball volunteer firefighter) to this thing)? And Ken was in the letter. The letter.

Hernandez reached into the box of evidence and removed the letter from Phillip Bergoyan that Charlie Oliveri had delivered to him the evening before. He hadn’t entered it in as evidence yet. He wasn’t sure he would need to. It didn’t prove a thing. He opened the letter. There was Ken Sneed’s name. No mention of Andy Currie.

He could follow the whole thing up later with little worry about what he might find except for that stupid cowboy this morning… not so stupid. He knows something about Ken and Andy, but I’ll have to hold him for a night or two before he’ll say anything. Scare him. Call him into my office tonight and just stare at him for a few minutes and lock him up again. He’ll spill what he knows. Wants to talk, just wants to be made to talk.

Officer Hernandez returned the letter to its envelope and put it back in the box of evidence. He looked at his watch. The student and parent interviews would be well under way over at the school. His guys could handle it, but he should be there. After that, he would track down Ken Sneed.

He drove away on the access road in order to trace the steps of the person who brought Gabriel Velasquez’s body here. With the windows down he soaked in the smell of the peaches as he drove through the orchard. It was a narrow but smooth road, so his foot went instinctively to the brake when he heard something rattle and shift in the seat next to him. He didn’t stop the car, but only shook his head and smiled at his own tension. When it rattled again, he looked over at the evidence box half frightened at what he might see and half certain a field mouse must have found its way into the car and then the box. Just the evidence and Bergoyan’s letter balanced on top.

At the end of the orchard he would have to take the car up the short steep climb to the canal bank or turn down the last row of trees in order to reach a paved road. He caught himself wondering what Andy would do. What would the person who brought Gabriel Velasquez’s body here do? Two worn tire ruts angled up the embankment a little to his right. He gunned the engine of the old chevy police car and it made it up, bottoming out as it crested the bank.

The dirt canal bank ran for about a mile and a half before sloping down to connect with the road that ran behind Pickem Sneed’s orchard. Stopped at that intersection, Hernandez heard more noise from the box of evidence and, reacting to the sudden noise, looked over. He regretted his own instincts because there on top of the letter and all of the plastic bagged bits of Gabriel’s schoolboy desk detritus he saw a tarnished knife, flakes of its own rust adrift in a streak of blood along the dull blade.