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.