Honestly Kid

by Daniel Damkoehler

 

premature fiction

Empty Hands

Perry Foltz had stretched out on the nar­row stain­less steel bench in the cor­ner of the cell. They had tak­en his shit­kick­ers from him and his hat. His dirty white socks had holes in the heels. A hat-shaped impres­sion kept his hair from look­ing entire­ly unruly. He hummed a tune that didn’t quite hang togeth­er.

Officer Plaster approached the hold­ing cell of the Brenlee city police sta­tion qui­et­ly, the last smile at his part­ing words with Vice Principle Schmidt only now fad­ing. “Hey there, Perry.”

Perry moved his fore­arm off his eyes and raised his head to see who was speak­ing. “Well, hey there Dennis. Come to work over the pris­on­er, eh?”

Sure. I think we got our­selves a big catch this time. Regular John Dillinger.”

Who’s that?”

Bank rob­ber.”

Perry laughed. “Yeah. Can’t ya see my fan­cy clothes? And all the women cryin’ for me out front?”

Seriously though, Perry, I won­der if I could ask you a few things.”

Perry was still lay­ing down, only just rais­ing his head to reply to Plaster, “The big guy was there the whole time. He saw me do the whole thing. No ques­tions to ask.”

Not about why you’re in here. About a farm around town here. Somebody described it to me, but I don’t know where it is. You grew up here and I fig­ure you might help me place it.” This was a lie. He could find it. He want­ed to know who owned it.

Somebody in trou­ble?”

No.” Before Perry could ask any­thing more, Plaster went on, “It has a wind­mill that doesn’t work. Metal. They use sprin­klers to irri­gate their orchard.”

Perry pushed him­self up on the bench and leaned against the cin­der block wall, his legs still stretched out before him. His smirk was gone.

There’s an old house there. Back from the road.”

Perry turned his head and looked down at the floor of the cell. There was noth­ing there he didn’t know about already. Painted cement formed to a shal­low angle down to a round drain. “I know the place.” He said to the floor, but loud enough so Plaster could hear him.

Good. Just where is that?”

Out on Quarry Road. You know my grand­pa told me that used to be called Dredger Road ’cause there was an old gold dredger out the end of it before they start­ed up that quar­ry in the fifties.”

Near the canal?”

Perry looked up. “Yeah, that house you want’s clos­er to the canal than the road. You’ll see that wind­mill from a mile off in just about any direc­tion-” Perry cut him­self off and squint­ed over at Plaster. “You wan­ta know some­thin’ else. You know where the fuck it is. Whaddya wan­ta know, Dennis?”

Plaster leaned on the cross bar of the cell, his hands and fore­arms inside with Perry. “Who owns it? Who lives there?”

Perry leaned back as though try­ing to fall back through the cin­der blocks behind him. “No sir. Whyn’t you go look it up, Dennis? I got noth­in’ to do with what­ev­er…”

Twice before Dennis Plaster had seen the kind of fear now stran­gling the life and humor out of Perry Foltz, both times the peo­ple who were so very afraid were strapped to emer­gency gur­neys and no one at the scene had the temer­i­ty to tell them ‘every­thing will be all right.’ So, now, with Perry Foltz, Plaster didn’t pre­tend. “Look, Perry, you’re right I could go look it up, but you’re here now and you know.”

No, I don’t.”

Yeah, you do. Look, tell me and if any­one asks, I’ll tell them I looked it up.”

Perry hands had fall­en open in his lap and he stared into them. “No. No, you tell ‘em if they ask. You tell ‘em it was me. Who’s gonna ask, right? But you tell Andy Currie, I know it’s his land. He don’t live there. I don’t know the man who does, but it’s a man and Andy knows him. Man’s lived there a long long time. It’s Andy Currie’s land though.”

Thanks, Perry.” Plaster wait­ed a moment and then decid­ed to leave this mis­placed cow­boy count­ing his own fin­gers.

Hey, Dennis.”

Yeah.”

Don’t go out there on yer own, right?”

Why’s that, Perry?”

Just don’t s’all. You take some­body. Maybe yer boss or some­body.”

Sure, Perry. Sure.”