The Golden Parrot
“Kid, Kid! Up ahead there’s a cabin, and there’s no smoke coming from the chimney; we may be in luck.”
“About time,” rasped the Kid before he doubled over in another coughing spell that left him too weak and spent to do more than stay on his horse.
Heyes motioned for the Kid to stay in the shadows cast by the setting sun while he crept up to the cabin to make sure it was empty. After ensuring it was, he entered and hurriedly came back to the door to signal to the Kid to bring the horses and come in. The Kid entered and flung himself on the bed in the corner, finally giving in to the cold that had been plaguing him since they had had to run from an overly observant sheriff two days earlier.
“Kid …” Heyes began.
“Don’t fuss; it’s just a cold. I’ll be fine once I warm up and get some sleep,” growled the Kid without opening his eyes.
Heyes looked at him, noting his flushed cheeks and red nose, then busied himself with starting a fire and exploring the small space inside.
“Hey, look! It’s well stocked. This must be a line cabin for some ranch. Let me make us something to eat.” He bustled over to examine the supply of cans, noted the barrel of flour, and began to assemble a supper.
Shortly thereafter, coming inside from seeing to the horses, he stopped to make sure supper was ready, and then gently shook the Kid. “Kid, I’ve got some beans and things for us to eat, try to get something down.”
“Lemme sleep; not hungry,” mumbled the Kid.
“You not hungry! I don’t believe it. Now get up!” Heyes commanded in his best leader’s voice.
The Kid rolled over and struggled to his feet. He knew from experience that Heyes would never leave him alone until he was satisfied that the Kid was taken care of, and he didn’t have the energy to fight him at the moment. After a few mouthfuls he swallowed the food more easily, although he declined any of Heyes’ coffee with a grimace.
“Thanks, Heyes, I do feel better. I just need to sleep.”
“Sure, Kid. Go ahead and lay down. Say did I ever tell you about the golden parrot?”
The Kid sighed. “No; that some saloon you been to without me?”
Heyes laughed, “No, the golden parrot is a great treasure. It is said to be made of gold and covered in precious stones, worth a fortune. But no one has ever seen it, except one man...”
At that point a snore interrupted him. He smiled and began to clean up and get settled for the night.
The next morning, the Kid didn’t seem as feverish as he had the night before, but he growled without fully gaining consciousness when Heyes tried to wake him up for breakfast. Heyes looked at him then left him a bowl of canned peaches, a plate of biscuits, the rest of the coffee, and a note explaining that he was out taking care of chores.
As Heyes entered the cabin in mid-afternoon, he heard the familiar click of a gun. “It’s just me, Kid.”
“Where have you been? I went to get up to go find you, but you hid my boots.”
“Didn’t want you wasting your strength. Your boots are on the porch. Now relax, and I’ll make us some rabbit fricassee for supper.”
“Where’d you get a rabbit?”
“I can shoot, you know,” exclaimed Heyes indignantly.
“Yeah, but you talk too much, scare the game away. That’s it; you probably talked it to death.”
“Glad you’re feeling better.”
“Just get me my dang boots so I can go take care of business!”
“No need to get proddy. Here.”
That little exertion tired the Kid enough that, upon his return, he was willing to sit quietly while Heyes made supper.
After supper they played a couple of hands of blackjack before the Kid’s yawns made it impossible to go on.
“Would you go to bed?” growled Heyes.
“I’m not… YAWN… Oh all right,”
Once he was settled back down in the bed, he looked over at his partner. “Did you tell me somethin’ about some yella bird last night, Heyes?”
“The golden parrot.”
“Well, like I told you last night, it’s a priceless statue made of gold and encrusted with gems. Only one man has ever seen it.”
“Who? Oh, the guy who made it I guess.”
“No, Kid. Okay one other person has seen it.”
“So if only these two people have seen it, how do you know about it?”
“It’s famous, Kid, a legend, like the lost city of gold.”
“Which is it Heyes a bird or a city?”
“Sheesh. I said it was a parrot, not a city. I was just saying the golden parrot was a legend like the city… Oh, never mind.”
“You’re the one who mentioned some lost city. If it’s lost how does anyone know it exists?”
“The city…” Heyes ran his hand through his hair. “Look, do you want to hear about the golden parrot or don’t you?”
“Sure, Heyes, go ahead I got nothin’ else to do ‘cept sleep.”
“Okay, so there have been stories of the golden parrot for ages, but no one had seen it. Or at least no one who had seen it had lived to tell the tale.”
“I thought you said there was one guy who had seen it, and he must have lived. There had to have been at least one who lived, or there wouldn’t be any stories about it. Maybe two people saw it and one died.”
“Well you ain’t makin’ any sense, Heyes,” the Kid grumbled, his eyes closing.
“So the stories about the golden parrot came from the man who had made it.”
“Well that’s dumb; what’s he doin’ talkin’ about it? Somebody might steal it from him if it was really made outta gold.”
“Would you stop interrupting?”
“No need to get proddy, Heyes. Sheesh.”
“The man who made the parrot talked too much, and it was stolen. After that the stories grew up about the golden bird covered in gems. But no one knew what had become of it…”
A snore interrupted him. Exasperated he glared at the sleeping Kid, his gaze softening as he watched.
The following morning, the Kid woke up to have breakfast with Heyes.
“How you feeling, Kid?”
“Much better. I can even drink your coffee. We should head on out today; you never know when the owner might show”
Heyes looked at him. He was looking much better, but he was still a little pale, his eyes still runny.
“Let’s stay one more day. While we’re here we might as well mend the tack. Maybe I’ll do some more hunting today and get us some fresh meat.”
The Kid, who was still tired, although he wasn’t about to admit it to Heyes, agreed readily.
He spent the day working on the tack, while Heyes hunted them up some supper – finally returning with a duck.
After supper they played a few more hands of blackjack, then the Kid, tired from his exertions that day, decided to go to bed.
“You gonna tell me what happened to the bird?”
“The duck? I shot it, what did you think happened to it?”
“No, that silly pelican you been tellin’ me about.”
“Parrot, Kid, a golden parrot.”
“Yeah that. So what happened to it?”
“Well I told you last night that it was stolen.”
“Yeah and no one ever saw it again.”
“Anyway, the thief wasn’t the one who saw it and lived. He died and no one knew where he hid the parrot. That is until the dread pirate Roberts found it…”
“Robert? Who ever heard of a pirate named Robert? They have names like Blackbeard, and Captain Blood, and such -- not Robert!”
“Kid! I said don’t interrupt. The pirate’s name is Roberts not Robert and he’s the most feared pirate in the world. That’s why they call him the dread pirate Roberts.”
“Roberts, might as well call him somethin’ real dumb like Westley, for all the dread that name creates. If he’s so famous, how come I never heard of him?”
“You never heard of the golden parrot either. And no one would fear the dread pirate Westley.” He stopped and glared at the Kid, who was lying back with his eyes closed and, possibly, a slight smirk about his mouth.
“Anyway, the dread pirate Roberts was the most feared pirate to roam the seven seas…”
“Are there really only seven seas, Heyes? What are they? I remember hearin’ about that in school and always wondered.”
“Yeah there are only seven. I think. You really want to know what they are? Well there’s the Caribbean – that’s by Florida, and the Mediterranean – that’s in Europe, and the, the … It don’t matter none, Kid. Stop interrupting!”
He heard a sound from the Kid that might have been an apology and might have been a snort. He ignored it.
“So the pirate,” he carefully did not say the name, “heard the stories about the golden parrot and determined that he would move heaven and earth to find it…”
A gentle snore once again interrupted the flow. He stared in amazement at the Kid, sleeping peacefully, and muttered to himself, before giving up and going to bed.
The next day was clear and warmer than it had been. They packed up, cleaned the cabin, and left.
After they had been riding for several hours, the Kid called out, “Heyes, you ever goin’ to finish that story you were tellin’ me?”
“What story, Kid?”
“About the golden parrot..”
“No? Oh, come on; at least tell me what it is.”
Heyes looked back and studied the Kid through narrowed eyes. He noted the twinkle in the Kid’s eyes and his easy breathing. He thought about the past few days and sighed.
“What is the golden parrot, Kid? It’s the, uh, stuff dreams are made of.”