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.”