Honestly Kid

by Daniel Damkoehler


premature fiction


Sherri Sneed came to the aid of her community in this time of crisis. She arranged for the churches to open their Sunday School rooms for after school activities and day care, called parents to let them know that they had some place safe to take their children, called Mrs. Schmidt to make sure that that Mexican cop had arranged for an officer to be present at the end of the school day, and then called Manuel over at Tia Sophia’s (Brenlee’s only Mexican restaurant) to make sure those people took care of their own and brought food to the boy’s family.

Sherri’s two children were old enough now – Tanya, 16 and Jared, 17 – to take on their measure of responsibility. She wrote notes asking that the high school allow them to leave school early today to that they could help provide after school day care for elementary school children of working parents.

After everything that happened, how could she sleep? Besides, there was no sign of her husband, so there was no one there to calm her down. Hell, who wants to be calm anyway? Come to think of it, Trot doesn’t calm her, he depresses her, coming off so good. He’s Mr. Solid, a walking tree or something. Yeah, she can see it now, Trot is a tree his grandfather planted. She feels more now, sees more, than she has in years. It is all so clear. And she didn’t even need any blow.

Of course Andy called. He even stopped by. Too sweet for his own good. The dumb asshole. Still, he does what she asks and answers whenever she called which is more than she can say for her father-in-law. Ken will play along, even if he doesn’t know he’s playing. She could almost feel bad for him, like playing poker with a retard or something, except Ken’s no retard and he’s made her life hell. Kept her from seeing, from feeling, from doing anything. Now he’ll dance for her instead of the other way around.

Not long after Sherri hears Brenlee’s mid-day siren in the distance, she hears another siren, an ambulance or… police car? No. That’s an ambulance. She closes her eyes and sees the white and orange box on wheels cutting through town and then through the orchards, but it sounds as though it’s turning away and then she loses it. A heart attack or something, but who lives over that way besides Andy? Plenty of people are further out… plenty of people.

It’s clear to her what she must do now, who she must contact in this moment, one of the young ones, the boy from outside who went away and came back. He’s young enough, but big enough and easy enough. Always so nice. An easy boy his whole life. She keys in William Loof’s phone number, it rings twice and a woman answers.

She hangs up. A fly taps against her kitchen window, unable to see the window which it will die hitting. Fucking kitchen. Fucking table and chairs, pots and pans, refrigerator, oven, microwave, over-size deep freeze, and that goddamned clock and this sonofabitch phone. And that fucking fly and piece of shit window. With less effort than she expects, Sherri Sneed rips the phone from the wall and throws it through that window. The fly escapes into the silent shadowy walnut orchard that steals her every victory from her, but she knows she will die fighting it and is, in every way, exhilarated.