Usual disclaimers apply.

Kid Quixote

Heyes knew he shouldn't eavesdrop but sometimes the Kid went too far. What in tarnation did he think he was doing – drawing such attention to himself? The whole day had been a disaster, just one damned thing after another. First Silky hadn't shown with the money he owed them and then the hotel had been full. The reason for Shrevetown's lack of beds had soon become patently clear. Just a little matter of a Texas Rangers' reunion . . . and Silky had neglected to tell them.

Heyes scowled. Trust Silky to choose the one town on the border to be hosting such an outlandish thing. If he was more of a suspicious man, he might suspect a nefarious purpose. Nefarious. Heyes rolled the word around on his tongue and decided he rather liked it. He'd recently read it in a book by Charles Dickens and saved it up to baffle the Kid.

Kid. Which neatly returned him to the subject in question and brought a frown back to his face. Just when they needed to keep their heads down, the Kid had to go and play hero. Heyes sighed out loud. When Kid got a notion into his head, he could be the most downright stubborn . . . the most ornery . . .

Heyes was brought to mind of another book. Don Quixote, that was it. The Kid was sometimes like Don Quixote, tilting his six-gun at imaginary windmills and a sucker for anything that walked with a wiggle. Mind you, it tended to go both ways. Heyes had never seen anything quite like it. From the moment he'd entered the mortal world and opened those big blue eyes, the women-folk had plum adored Jed Curry.

And that was the root of the problem today. In-front of the whole, darn town. In-front of the Sheriff and a dozen Texas Rangers, Kid Quixote had come across a windmill. Well, Heyes sighed heavily again. It hadn't been so much of a windmill, more of a runaway buckboard. And of course, a fair maiden had been crossing the street right in its very path.

Next thing Heyes knew, the Kid was gone. Just like that, in the blink of an eye. In a flurry of speed and melodramatic heroics, he was in the street pushing her clear. It still made Heyes sickly to think of it. All those crashing hooves and splintering wood. When he'd plucked up the courage to open his eyes, his worst fears had been confirmed. Kid Quixote had saved the damsel all right, but the windmill had fallen down around his ears.

So much for remaining anonymous. May as well have struck up the band. All the fussing and screaming made Heyes cringe to think of it - and then there was the newspaper man. That had given him a nasty shock and probably knocked years off his life. What with all the flash-bulbs and excitement, Heyes had received quite a fright.

And where was the Man of La Mancha - or rather the man of Devil's Hole?

Trust Kid to sleep right through it, Heyes wondered if he did it on purpose. That way, he got out of any consequences and left Heyes to clear up the mess. Probably did do it on purpose, Heyes pondered, disgruntledly. Figured if he looked all pale and bruised-up, it might just get him off the hook. And he certainly had looked pale and bruised. Sort of bluish in colour, round the lips. Typical Kid to play up to the crowd and attract all the female attention. A knight in shining armour – Heyes gave a snort of disgust.

'What good was a suit of shining armour if 'said' knight got it covered in dents?'

"Mister Smith?"

Damnation – he'd been thinking too hard. Kid was always grumbling and going on to him about that. He'd almost missed what the Doc had been saying; good thing the Kid hadn't seen it. He would never live it down.

" . . . awake now, but very sleepy. Suffering from a mild concussion. No excitement or exertion now, he needs a good night's rest."

Well, it could have been worse. Heyes sucked in his breath and prepared to deliver a stern lecture. There would be no more tilting at windmills. No more taking of unnecessary risks. It was time Kid discarded these darn fool notions of chivalry which might get him killed one day. Heyes was full of self-righteous purpose as he marched into the dimly-lit room. Kid had to learn it was downright selfish. He couldn't always rely on Heyes to bail him out.

"Thaddeus, it's time you and me had a talk . . ."

Typical. It was typical. The Kid was lying peacefully asleep. Heyes could see he was still cultivating the pale and interesting look, no doubt for the benefit of the yellow-haired nurse who'd been assisting the Doc with him earlier. The purple bruises helped, of course. She'd soon be eating out of his hand. Heyes looked longingly at the over-stuffed chair. He was suddenly, utterly exhausted. He sat down by the bedside and watched the Kid breathe. The lecture could wait until morning. He pulled up the blankets in case Kid felt cold. Kid hated cold, he was always complaining . . .

Kid Quixote, the knight in tarnished armour. Did that mean he was Sancho Panza? It figured. If it wasn't for his savvy with people and money, Kid and him would be starved or dead by now. Heyes felt his eyelids slipping; he laid his head down on the side of the bed. All this tilting at windmills could get pretty tiring . . . a body shouldn't have to do it alone . . .

The End.

Lisa Paris – 2005