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.