“Another day, another dollar,” sighed Heyes, pulling his horse to a halt “Or should I say another week another adventure. We hafta report to,” tapered fingers reached inside a gray wool jacket to pull forth a single sheet of paper, “…A typical Western Street; typical saloon at one end, typical sheriff’s office at the other, assorted typical Western extras creating typical Western atmosphere.”
“Nah,” Kid Curry fished a similar sheet from the depths of a dust spattered sheepskin. “We’re to go to,” the paper was held at a distance; squinting against the sun, “…A typical Mexican town square; typical taverna at one end; typical Alcade’s office at the other, assorted Hispanic-American…”
“‘S’what it says, Heyes – assorted Hispanic-American extras creatin’ a typical South of the border atmosphere.”
Under a tousled dark fringe a forehead furrowed. “Are you sure?”
“I can read!” indignated the Kid.
“Not without your lips moving,” muttered Heyes, sotto voce.
“You’re right, Kid. We’re reporting to different scenes. You know what this means? It’s an adventure where we’ve separated for some reason.”
“Awwww – They’re the worst!”
“Sure are. Bad things happen when we separate.” Pause. Slightly more relaxed tone, “Especially to you, Kid. Last time you were south of the border without me you got locked up for murder. The time before that you let Grace Turner hand you over to the law.”
“AND, I never get half the air time! Nowhere near. Even when we’re together I don’t get half the lines! I hafta stand and listen to you yakkin’ on…”
“Be fair, Kid. I’m the one with the silver tongue. You’re more of a man for action than words…”
“But at least when we’re together I’m in shot! When we’re apart – what do I get? Drivin’ dynamite through rocks while you mix with the foreign guest stars; or what about when you went back to Devil’s Hole? What the Sam Hill was I doin’?” A pair of blue eyes ruminated under a floppy brown brim. The Kid’s gruntle felt decidedly dissed. He shifted in the saddle. “Who wrote it?”
“This week’s adventure – if you can call the dang messes we end up in ‘adventures’ – who wrote it?”
Heyes checked his sheet. He held it in front of Kid and pointed to a name.
“Oh, sheesh! Not HER! I’m gonna spend half my time butt nekkid and the other half gettin’ beat up!” Brooding. “…And half my time’ll be half of dang all! You’ll be doin’ the plot!”
“Not the same without you, Kid.”
“Really?” Kid’s voice was gruff, but underneath was an edge of ‘Aw, shucks’.
“I miss the banter. I may get more lines without you, but,” a shrug, “…I shine brighter when you’re there for me to play off. It works better together.”
Two ex-outlaws studied their instructions. Two sets of eminently kissable lips pursed, thoughtfully. Well, two sets pursed and at least one was thoughtful. The other set could have stuck at ‘disgruntled’. Who knows?
“Kid?” Tentative starting remark.
“D’you ever get sick of Westerns – week after week? The posses, the brawling, the cows, the horses, the mud, the dust, the…”
“Yeah!” Kid’s response was eager. “I sometimes think if I hafta twirl that dang gun one more time, I’ll feed it to the writer sideways. If’n I hafta eat another dang plate of beans I’ll – I’ll…”
“I know what you do after a plate of beans, Kid. We share a room – remember.”
“And if I…HEY!” Scowling.
Apologetic smile from Heyes. “The point is,” he leaned forward in the saddle, “…D’you ever think,” the deep voice dropped to a conspiratorial whisper, “…Let’s go somewhere else?”
“Y’mean,” Kid checked over his shoulder for eavesdroppers, his voice too dropped, “…Ignore the call sheet?”
“Uh huh. What’s the worse they could do?”
“Beat us up worse next week,” said Kid, shielding a sensitive spot.
“They do that anyhow! They claim to love us and they STILL beat us up! I say,” Heyes moved in yet closer, “…Let’s take a week off! I’ve always wanted to go to…” Whispering.
Kid drew back. “Why?”
“I kinda fancy myself as a detective, Kid. I know they let me have a few ‘whodunnit’ stories – but I’d like to go do it properly. Want to come with me?”
Musing from the blue-eyed one.
“Thanks but no thanks. I’d just turn into some kinda ‘Watson’ feedin’ questions so you look smart. Nah! Where I’ve always wanted to go is…” More eager whispering.
“Yeah! Have you SEEN the stuff they get to play with? Makes my Schofield look like a pea-shooter!”
A grin from Heyes. “AND, I hear they hafta fix the costumes on them gals with double sided tape!”
Solemn shake of the head from Kid. “I’m givin’ up women. Nothin’ but trouble.”
Rightly sceptical “Uh huh?” from a rightly sceptical Heyes.
Pause. The partners exchanged a silent conversation. (Not the one set out above, obviously! THAT one wasn’t silent. At THIS point they exchanged a different silent conversation.)
“See you next week, Heyes,” smiled Kid, as he wheeled his horse around. “Enjoy yourself.”
“A word of advice, Kid,” grinned Heyes, digging his heels into the flanks of his mount, “…Don’t pick a red shirt!”
“And this is where the spare uniforms are kept, Crewman Jones. What colour would you like?”
“Huh?” With an effort Kid dragged his eyes upwards from a pair of lean and lovely sheer nylon clad thighs. He dragged them upwards about a foot. A cantilevered bosom heaved above a slender waist under a tightly fitting – Kid believed the correct (and apt) term was ‘scant’. Our iron willed hero made a herculean effort and dragged his eyes the remainder of the distance to the helpful Ensign’s false lashes. “Huh?” he repeated.
“What colour tunic would you like?” A smile of dazzling sweetness was bestowed on him by the pink frosted lips. The preposterous lashes lowered shyly. “You’d look very handsome in red, crewman.”
“I’ll take a red one,” gulped Kid.
“Is there some way I can help with your investigation, Lieutenant?”
“Er…” One hand was raised in a gesture of perplexity to press the forehead beneath tousled dark hair; the other, cigar clasped between the fingers, was raised aloft as if to summon inspiration. A puzzled look creased the affable features. Nothing creased the raincoat beyond its current state. Nothing could. It was already in a condition of total crumple. “Er – that’s very helpful of you Mister…?”
“Smith. Joshua Smith.”
“That’s real helpful of you, Mister Smith. But…” A bemused and endearing grin was directed at Heyes. “I hafta say – it confuses me. You’re not the murderer. The routine is, the murderer offers to help me…”
“And you thank ’em and say as soon as you’ve a suspect, they’ll be the first to know.” A second endearing grin, this one with dimples, was returned to the Lieutenant. “I love that line!” Serious face. A confiding arm was wrapped around the crumpled shoulders. “I was thinking more – for this one case only – how would you like a partner? A side-kick?”
“Well…” A rumpled thatch of hair was scratched. “Have you any experience of crime, Mister Smith?”
Heyes’ grin widened into a veritable Cheshire Cat beam.
Crewman Jones squared his shoulders, spread his booted feet apart and linked his hands together loosely behind his back in the approved stance. As soon as the call went up for two volunteer redshirts to go down to the surface with the Captain, the First Officer and a Ranking Guest Female filmed strictly through a soft focus lens, Kid had had stepped forward proudly. Now, while the loquacious Captain hammed it up in the foreground, he and his crimson clad buddy, Mister Leslie, waited for the adventure to begin.
Suddenly, strangers appeared. Greasy, grimy, aggressive, ‘character’ rather than ‘leading man’ features, dentally challenged. Kid identified them at once.
“Klingons!” over dramatised the Captain.
“Klingons!” chimed in the logical tones of the First Officer.
“Klingons!” gasped the heroine.
“A villain and two henchmen!” ad-libbed Kid. His phaser leapt into his hand. Unfortunately the unaccustomed lightness of the weapon meant it immediately leapt out of his hand and arched harmlessly into a polystyrene boulder.
Henchman two fired at the helpless fastest gun in the West. A second later Kid found himself sprawled face down beside an equally horizontal Mister Leslie. Sheesh, it felt familiar being bruised and in the dust!
“Same old, same old,” grunted Mister Leslie. “I hate bein’ a redshirt,”
“We know Harry Wagoner’s gotta be the murderer,” mused Heyes.
“The magician fella. The Great Santini.”
“Harry Wagoner’s another of his aliases, huh?” A small notebook was retrieved from an assortment of miscellaneous items inside a deep raincoat pocket. “I don’t seem to have that one, Mister Smith.”
“Er, it’s been a while since he used it,” hedged Heyes. “We know he’s the guilty party…”
“No question,” agreed the Lieutenant, “not only is he constantly offering explanations to the ‘just one more thing that’s bothering me’…”
“I love that line.”
“It’s not twelve months since I LAST had him locked up for murder! Let alone the time before that!”
Two detectives, both with tousled dark hair, endearing smiles, cigars and charm to spare, pondered on the vagaries of life which meant sheriffs, barkeeps, deputies AND murderers all seemed to circulate on some kind of continuous conveyor.
Kid Curry stared open-mouthed at the robed figures being piped aboard. He came out of the approved attention stance, broke ranks and pointed. Yammering sounds issued from the perfectly sculpted lips.
“Is there some problem, crewman?” enquired the First Officer, “…Your behaviour has become illogical.”
“That’s – that’s – Dontcha know who that IS?!”
“Affirmative. Those are my parents.”
A pair of bluer than blue-eyes (I hope you Curryettes are appreciating this!) started (metaphorically) from Kid’s head. “You’re the son of Jim Plummer an’ Sister Julia!” he gasped. “Sheesh! How the Sam Hill did that happen?”
A slanted eyebrow rose on the emotionless face. “Crewman Jones – report to sickbay.”
“The thing is,” mulled the Lieutenant, “…how do we make a charge stick? According to the witnesses Santini was handcuffed inside a cabinet and that cabinet was in full view of the Cabaret of Magic audience while the crime was committed. Meanwhile, the victim was behind a locked door.” Slow shake of the head. Self-deprecating grin. “Beats me how he coulda picked that lock.” The dishevelled one turned to his side-kick. “Mister Smith – Handcuffs? Lock-picking – maybe you could help me out with this?”
Heyes pushed back his hat and dropped his hands to his hips. The width of the grin dimpling the beautiful one had to be seen to be believed.
“Just relax, Crewman Jones,” smiled the nurse, pressing him back onto the faintly sparkling black pillow. “Doctor McCoy will be with you in a moment.”
“McCOY!” yelped Kid. He knew THAT name. Under his breath he muttered, “If she’s gotta hand in this story I’m gonna end up either butt nekkid or covered in bruises!”
The wearer of the crumpled raincoat turned to the wearer of the beat-up black hat. “That finger-print evidence you turned up, Mister Smith – that was great detective work!”
“Just applying something I read,” purred Heyes.
“Good work, Crewman Jones!” The Captain slapped Kid on the back, thus edging himself back into centre shot. “Who would have guessed Commodore Decker and Dr. Anne Mulhall were both such out and out…”
“Villains,” supplied Kid.
“I was making a dramatic pause,” reproved the classically trained one, with a frown. Kid hung his head. The approving smile returned. “This ship owes you a debt for making sure that pair ended in the brig, Jones. Is there any way…?”
Kid waited long enough to ensure this was not another dramatic pause, then gave a sheepish grin. “Well, sir, there is one thing…”
Five minutes later Kid was seated in THE chair. “Fire photon torpedoes!” he ordered, happily. “Make it so!”
“Santini won’t be bothering anyone for…”
“At least another season?” finished Heyes.
“Uh huh,” the cigar waved vaguely in the air. “Mister Smith, how would you like to come home with me? Join my wife and me for dinner.”
“You mean your wife really EXISTS?”
A pair of innocent dark eyes – no make that one innocent dark eye and a prosthesis – blinked. “Of course she exists! What did you think? That I only make up stories about her to get folk to talk?” Another grin. “No, Mister Smith. Not me. Oh no. I’m just not that silver-tongued!”
A Week Later
Two ex-outlaws rode companionably towards the next typical Western town.
“Just one more thing – how’d you enjoy your break, Kid?”
“It was an experience, Heyes – but not as we know it.”