Honestly Kid

by Daniel Damkoehler


premature fiction

At The Station

“Is it true?” Dennis Plaster heard his 68 year old father’s tired gravelbed voice coming from his own mouth. A mind blurring ache had taken up residence in his skull, he could feel the odd shade of yellow that surrounded the large black and blue bruise in his chest, but all that felt natural and ordinary on top of the waves of nausea he’d been riding since seeing Mose Brenlee’s body.

“Doesn’t matter. What court is going to take the last words of a disturbed old fireman who entered a home illegally to lay in wait for an opportunity to kill its resident and then attacked a police officer with a fire hydrant before blowing off his own head?” Win Kady‘s body filled up half of Hernandez’s office and his personality filled up all the parts left between Plaster and Hernandez.

The two Brenlee officers sat, Hernandez behind his desk and Plaster in a chair near the wall so he he could lean his head back and put an ice pack betwen the back of his skull and the white sheetrock, keeping his hands down and arms still so that his chest would maintain only a dull throb.

A photo copy of Mose Brenlee’s letter to his family was spread out on Hernandez’s desk. They had bagged the original and put with the other evidence, including the knife Hernandez had found at the canal that morning. Win Kady would take it all to the county lab.

“We’ll need to verify that it is Mose’s handwriting…” The other two looked at Hernandez and he shifted a little in seat. His pants were dry now but not comfortable and they smelled of the algae and mud of the canal. He had spent three hours at Andy Currie’s farm with the county crime scene team, Plaster, and later, Win Kady. Andy Currie was on duty at the firehouse and did not show when called. Currie said he trusted them and would rather not see his old friend that way on his own land. Hernandez had spoken to Currie himself, the man sounded genuine.

“You going to question Andy?”

“If he’ll co-operate.”

“But if it’s true…” Plaster’s chest hurt as he tried to get in on things between Kady and Hernandez.

“If it’s true,” Kady answered, “then we’ll get him.”

Hernandez thought about the old truck he saw through the narrow crack between the locked doors of Currie’s barn. “We checked the scene and Currie looks clean.” He thought about the shadows of that barn and it’s cement floor (an expensive luxury) and the dry thin ditch behind it where water had drained off that floor into the orchard not so many hours before they came to find Mose. They had no cause to force entry into the barn and he wanted to do this by the book. It had to be by the book.

“What about the kids?” Plaster managed to ask calmly without breathing deep enough to hurt his chest.

“And Mr. Sneed too…” Hernandez added. “I know. I don’t want Currie to know that we know all that. I want him to think we’re looking past him.”

“He’ll hear rumors about he kids.”

“Let him. If he asks, act a little surprised that he’s heard anything. Let him think we’re pretty well sure he’s a good old boy.”

Win Kady nodded and took out his pipe and started packing it with cherry tobacco. “If Sneed talks to anyone, the good old boys aren’t gonna like it.”

“Yeah. Talk and rumors. I know. But I’m not going to let this go on that long.” Hernandez wasn’t looking at either of them. Maybe it was the ice and aspirin doing its job, but Plaster thought he felt the room cool a bit. Win Kady seemed to shrink and his personality took up no more room than his small wooden pipe. Before long Win motioned to the door with his pack of matches and moved his bulk through it, down the hall, and out the back door of the station so he could smoke.

Some minutes later Hernandez broke the silence with one word, quietly, meant for no one, and Plaster doubted he actually heard it, “Ghosts.”