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?