Honestly Kid

by Daniel Damkoehler

 

premature fiction

Blind Initiative

Did Plaster know too much or not enough to be frightened?

He parked his car on the canal bank next to the orchard surrounding the old farm house and radioed in to Winnie at the station.

“You shouldn’t be out there,” she told him. She would know. Born and raised in Brenlee.

“I won’t be long.” Plaster thought her concern was over the time he would lose, that he wouldn’t be back in time to meet up with Hernandez.

“Dennis,” most of the emotion that ever came through these radio conversations came through in pauses and Winnie floated a long one here before continuing quietly, “we could use you here.”

“I’ll be back in twenty minutes, okay? Over.”

“Twenty minutes. Over.”

Did Dennis Plaster, not quite thirty years old, have any idea what really drew him to this place?

He found no walkway, driveway, or other entrance into the property, as though the owner had buried the house deep inside the orchard and given up on it. The decrepit windmill, a rusty, otherwise useless landmark, served as the only means of orientation.

He noticed as he walked into the orchard that the ground was not quite level and ran down at a gentle grade toward in the direction of the windmill and presumably the house. Most land along the canal banks had been at least partly graded to allow for flood irrigation, but here the owner had chosen to use sprinklers instead. He didn’t have to go far into the orchard before he felt completely hidden by the great ancient looking walnut trees still in full leaf and their nuts not yet harvested. “Smells old,” Dennis mumbled to himself. And it did.

What did Officer Plaster want to find in that orchard?

He didn’t like the house. Small and oddly shaped, someone had added a porch onto the front and a windowless room to one side. It looked used but not quite occupied. There was a barn, or more accurately, a large shed, nearby, but Dennis wanted to start with the house. The barn felt like a needless delay. He would have to take on the house sooner or later anyway.

The porch complained about his weight with sharp crack and a hundred tiny creaks. Dennis expected no better. When he knocked on the wood frame of the screenless screen door it, in turn, knocked on the door frame behind it. No one answered any of these knocks. “Hello?” he called out. No answer.

Dennis looked back at the barn and around the side of the house before deciding to go in. No warrant. No cause.

Before his eyes could adjust to dark interior, a light, a hot light, hit him. He didn’t have time to call out and hardly time to raise his hands to his face before his lungs lost their air and his feet the ground. If there had been enough porch behind him to support the full length of his body maybe he would not have lost consciousness, but as it was, he flew across that shallow porch, the back of his head skipping down the worn wood steps to the hard dry ground. In his senses last slippery moments of use his face felt hot, his stomach heavy and cold, and breathing impossible. He saw nothing. Not the one who had done this to him, not the eaves of the broken down house, and not even the hot sun in the dry blue sky.