Honestly Kid

by Daniel Damkoehler


premature fiction

William Drives North To Brenlee

He had made a pil­grim­age to see a guru — a Sears plaid shirt and grey chi­no wear­ing Armenian, a whiskey-breathed old new­pa­per­man, him­self more sub­ject to the whims of chance than a mas­ter of divin­ing the fate of humankind. What the old man told him was entire­ly clear and William couldn’t believe it.

But, then again, William Loof didn’t believe much of any­thing any more. He didn’t believe peo­ple were basi­cal­ly good or that things all work out for the best. He didn’t believe the infi­nite pro­ceed­ed with any sense of inten­tion or guid­ance. He didn’t believe in the way he loved or the way oth­ers loved him. He didn’t believe the words from the old man’s mouth even as he knew them to be true.

William drove his his dead mother’s car north along high­way 99 feel­ing the dull knife edge of this deep inter­nal con­tra­dic­tion: his con­sis­tent fail­ure to believe what he knew to be true. Learning to dwell on this edge had filled his parent’s life with mean­ing. The truth made lit­tle sense and seemed to offer no redemp­tion, while belief dan­gled a vision of hope and a healthy feel­ing of clar­i­ty. If he could only rec­on­cile the two, bring his belief in line with the truth, then per­haps he could break free of all that kept him com­ing back to Brenlee, he could avoid life’s many twist­ed routes that he returned him to the safe­ty of his own fail­ures. Didn’t that mean fig­ur­ing out Brenlee? Impossible. A fool’s errand, but, then again, what oth­er kind did he have?