Honestly Kid

by Daniel Damkoehler


premature fiction

Drying Off

By the time Hernandez gets back to his squad car, the lower half of his pants are dry. He bags the knife he found in the canal gate as evidence. He makes notes for the report he will have to file on its discovery, trying to come up with a plausible explanation for the way he found it as he does.

Investigating likely routes into the Sneed farm by suspect or suspects or any who may have aided in the mutilation and later placement of the Gabriel Velasquez’s body… likely route to the body’s ultimate location would have taken the driver of the vehicle through the orchard – backtracking this route, came to canal bank… there, stopped car to look for tire tracks up or down the bank that might resemble those truck tire tracks found near victim… walked canal service road in search and stopped at irrigation gate (get number) where something caught my eye…

Something caught my eye? Better come up with something better than that for court.

At this point, Brenlee’s mid-day siren goes off. Noon. His schedule is completely blown. This whole side trip to the Sneed’s and the swim in the canal has used up his morning. He puts his notebook aside, buttons his uniform (deciding not to tuck it into the still wet waistband of his pants) and straps on his belt with radio, flashlight, small first aid kit, and gun. He puts on his shoes and takes a last look around the immediate area. This must be where the killer came down from the canal access road.

He pulls the car up the steep embankment, bottoming out, but making it and drives to the irrigation gate where he found the knife. It’s number is just barely legible in the cement box, 092 B.I.D. Hernandez jots down the number in his notes and drives along the canal bank until it intersects with Quarry Road. He wonders if he should continue along the canal bank or turn right and head back into town to put on a dry pair of pants.

He picks up the radio to check in with Winnie when he hears a loud, slightly muddled sounding, pop – a shotgun. A few hundred yards in front of him, a small flock of mud swallows swirls up into the sky heading to his right and away from the direction of the shot. The squad car clunks into Drive and rolls down the easy grade to Quarry road. Down on the back top road for a brief moment he feels how low the valley really is, earth and all her creatures at the mercy of the tallest things here, the trees. We are held in their shadow. He drives quickly up the grade on the other side of the road to rise up those few feet of the embankment and regain some semblance of command over the area. Proceeding cautiously, Hernandez reminds himself that, technically, firing a gun is no crime out here on the edge of town. Farmers do it all the time, ridding themselves of squirrels, skunks, and unwanted birds.

His squad car rounds a bend in the canal, turning in the direction of an old, defunct metal windmill poking up out of the orchards to his left. He hardly notices the windmill because parked there on the access road in front of him is one of Brenlee’s two other squad cars. He speeds over to the car, but before he can radio in his position, overhears Plaster’s call in to Winnie. It’s a 914s. Suicide.

Then another of today’s strange thoughts, none of them coming in ways he is familiar or comfortable with thinking, passes into Hernandez’s mind: Too much blood runs for this water.