[Editor's note: Parts 1 - 6 of The Kibitzer and the Kidd are available by clicking on "Kidd" or "Kibitzer" in the tag section. This is science fiction western with more than dollop of humor and satire.]
Al Wayne handed the Cough Drop Kidd a hot toddy. They were in Wayne’s private office off the mezzanine in the saloon.
Given the scuffed look of the saloon, this office was opulent with upholstered seats and an intricately carved fireplace mantel. There was no fire in the fireplace, and the Kidd wondered if it worked. Wayne assured him that it did, but that he rarely used it because it was an inefficient way to heat and added to the carbon footprint.
Wayne handed the Kidd a copy of his book, Global Warning. The Kidd wasn’t quite sure what to do, a warm drink in one hand and a cold tome in the other.
He laid the book on a side table by the chair, He was almost certain he heard the table sigh and mutter, “Oh, no, not another one.”
“Drink up,” Wayne said, raising his own drink to his lips and taking a sip. “It’s not often we get a toddy drinker in this town. It’s good to have a little sophistication every now and then.”
The Kidd didn’t think of himself as a sophisticate, only somebody with a sore throat from coughing too much.
“What about what the Kibitzer said. Is it true?”
“That Bonnie can whip up some mighty powerful cough drops. Sometimes a whiff of those apothecary fumes can make you say things you normally wouldn’t.”
“So, it’s not true?”
Wayne shrugged. “Many folk around here have claimed they’ve been struck by lightning and then resurrected some time later. I don’t put much stock in it myself.”
The smile on Wayne’s face didn’t ease the feeling of disquiet the Kidd felt rippling just under his skin. Particularly since it was at Wayne’s insistence that the Kibitzer had to sleep I the stable on the edge of town. Not that it was a large town, and a few of the buildings only had facades and nothing behind them. One or two had signs that read: “Coming soon,” but nothing else. At one point in their travels together, the Kidd had heard the Kibitzer use the term Potemkin Village and he wondered if this might be that. The name of this place was Potomac. But there was no river nearby.
“You haven’t touched your toddy.”
The Kidd quickly took a sip. It was tepid now, but still tasted amazingly good. He took a second, long sip.
“Now, I have a question for you, Mr. Kidd.”
Kidd smiled. He rarely heard anybody call him Mr. Kidd. Kidd or hey you was more likely. For the moment, he couldn’t remember what the Kibitzer called him. Probably nothing he wanted to repeat.
Kidd wasn’t his real name, at least not the real name his parents gave him. But he abandoned that name shortly after he abandoned them.
“My question is in your travels have you heard anyone mention or met anyone by the name of John Gore?”
At that moment, the floor-faced man barged into the room. He spotted The Kidd and curled his lip.
“Fire. There’s fire down at the livery.” He said it breathlessly, but not in a good breathless way.
The Kibitzer, the Kidd thought.
“Save my horses. My prize Walkers,” Wayne said.
Wayne was at the door, shoving the floor-faced man out in front of him.
The Kidd put down his toddy on the book and headed for the door.
“Don’t forget your book,” the table said.
The Kidd hesitated.
“Take it, fool,” the table said.
The Kidd snatched it from under the toddy. The cup tipped over and smashed against the floor. Breaking china and escaping toddy skittered and splashed about.
“Oh, Mr. Wayne’s going to be mad. That’s not eco-friendly.”
The Kidd didn’t hear the table. He was down the stairs and almost to the saloon’s swinging front doors when two dark figures stepped in front of him, blocking his way. The Kidd tried going around them, but they would have none of it.
(To be continued…)