Honestly Kid

by Daniel Damkoehler

 

premature fiction

Todo es…

“Is Gabriel really dead?”

“I’m afraid so.”

“Have you seen him?”

“No.”

“Then you don’t know for sure.”

“Sick today, huh?”

“No. Not really.”

“Didn’t go to school, though.”

“Am I in trouble?”

“No.”

“It’s against the law to skip school.”

“Not today.”

“Why?”

Plaster didn’t answer. He didn’t make a sound.

“Because of Gabriel. Right?”

“Yep.”

“Did they find his body?”

“Yes. Yes, they did.”

The tarp shifted and then something metal under it. Mac Taylor had moved away, further under the workbench. Neither of them spoke for a long time. Then Plaster offered, “It’s kinda nice in here.”

“No, it’s not.”

“It’s cool anyway.”

“You mean like cooler than outside?”

“Yeah.”

“I guess. It gets hot in summer.”

“I bet.”

Mac started tapping something against the dirt floor. Something metal. “What killed him?”

Plaster didn’t hesitate. “A knife, probably.”

“You don’t know?” The tapping remained steady.

“Not for sure. Not yet. We’re looking into it.”

“So, you guys don’t know shit.” Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Only a little harder now.

Plaster caught half a chuckle. “A little more than that, anyway.”

“Right.” Tap. Tap. No break in the rhythm. Tap. Tap.

He liked this kid more and more. He played with nothing to lose. “What don’t we know?”

“Who killed him? How they did it. Where they did it. Why they did it. Shit. All that shit. Todo es chingado, seƱor.” Almost banging.

You got that right, kid. Plaster waited and then started with the only question on the questionnaire that made any sense to him given the situation, “Where did you see Gabriel last?”

“By the canal. Over by that old windmill that doesn’t work.” Faster now, but not so hard. Tap. Tap.

“What were you doing over there?”

His answer started strong, but devolved quickly into a mumble. “Riding my bike. Messing around and stuff…” The tapping switched from metal against dirt to metal against metal.

“Stealing sprinkler heads.”

The tapping stopped.

“Is that what you and Gabriel were doing there, Mac? Stealing?”

“No.”

“Come on. Don’t lie to me.”

“We weren’t stealing. Not the other day.”

“The day before yesterday?”

“Yeah.”

“What were you doing?”

Just above a mumble, “checking things out and stuff.”

“What? Checking what out?”

“The house and stuff.”

“What stuff?”

“The house and this barn thing.”

“By the windmill?”

“Yeah.”

Plaster waited for more, but it didn’t come. “You two shouldn’t have been over there.”

Mac Taylor finally poked his head out from under the blue tarp. He had dark, curly hair all in a mess. He was still in his pajamas. “We didn’t take anything.”

“What did you see?”

The boy watched Plaster, looked into his face trying to tell him something, but only letting out a pre-verbal “uhhhh.” Tears swelled his eyes and he began blinking, blinking and squinting. “Uhhhhh…”

Plaster crouched down, to try to put the boy at ease. “What was it, Mac?”

And the boy bolted from the shed into his house and went straight to his mother who was watching from a window in the rear utility room of her house. It didn’t take a genius to know the boy was crying and wouldn’t have much to say until his mother calmed him down. Plaster checked his watch. Not quite 11:45. He needed to talk to Hernandez. This wasn’t enough for a warrant, but certainly worth a look around. Kids shouldn’t be this freaked out. Cops shouldn’t have this many simple questions unanswered.