The Shawbost Kid crossed the moor on a Shetland Pony with no name.
(What was a Shetland Pony doing on Lewis? It swam, OK? Stop asking questions.)
Barely conscious, bleeding and shirtless he kept one eye peeping open so that he would be sure to guide The
Shetland Pony With No Name into the part of town favoured by the Ladies Of The Night, who he hoped would still be up as Dawn touched the sleepy town, probing slowly, gradually into its most secret crevices. Down by the already busy harbour, a hauling-crane reached up to its fullest height.
Men were chasing The Shawbost Kid, men with guns, men in whose bellies burned the righteous fury of those sworn to uphold the Law in these wild and Western Isles. One of them had a white hat. Others of them didn’t. He needed a refuge, a place where someone would risk their lives to hide him, and if, in that refuge, he could have as many bosoms as possible pressed around his attractively wounded head, he was sure that that would help too.
The only trouble was, in order to get to that part of town, he had to go right through the part of town favoured by the Old Knitting Ladies Of The Mid-Morning. These ancient women would sit and knit on their doorsteps from about a quarter past nine ’til when Neighbours came on the telly. They would talk of purling and the old ways. Sometimes they would sing in eerie voices and their quick hands were mere blurs on their flashing needles.
Although it was Dawn, The Shawbost Kid didn’t want to risk alerting any rogue knitters, knitting outwith the usual hours. He knew they would take him in and look after him well, but he really, really wanted to seek his desperate refuge with the Ladies Of The Night instead. So he rode up into an alley, leapt off The Shetland Pony With No Name and tied Tesco bags around her hooves with the rustic twine he always had to hand. Together they padded back into the winding street.
Slumped, gashed and goosebumpy but still somewhat sexily, our bare-chested hero and his mysterious steed, rode their way through the Knitting District, the sharp clops of hoof on pavement muffled by the plasticy crackle of unhappily non-biodegradable shopping receptacles.
At last they reached the neat, well-kept houses on the street of the Ladies Of The Night.
“Please, still be up! Please please please!” thought the Shawbost Kid fervently.
He rode up that winding hill of transacted love in the sexiest, most heroic way any Shawbost man ever could, bleeding, broken, and clearly – to anyone with half a brain – in need of the tender ministrations of pretty ladies.
Damn! The Tesco bags.
He leapt off and removed them behind a sudden convenient peat-stack. He rode back on down the hill, this time the clippety clops of hooves ringing out sharply against the tarmacadam.
Gritting his teeth, he turned the Shetland Pony With No Name and they plodded slowly back up the hill. This time he moaned and whimpered as loudly as he could, peering out from beneath his hat-brim for any sign of movement.
Not a door opened, nor a curtain twitched. This was getting ridiculous.
The Shawbost Kid didn’t have time for this. He needed water offered to his cracked lips and he needed it now, dammit! Also, he needed tender injunctions to eat delicious soup, the soft brush of perfumed bosom on his rough, grateful cheek, and the solicitious, revivifying massage of capable hands on his bits and pieces.
But most of all, he needed a jumper. It was colder than a nun’s nipple out here and he’d always been chesty as a boy growing up. Being chesty isn’t sexy for an outlaw on the open moors. Look, at Seamus “Catarrh” MacLeod, the Holy Terror of Barvas. He never got laid. Besides, fugitives from justice couldn’t risk imperilling their safety by going into the villages to buy cough-drops. And it wasn’t cool to ambush the shop-van on the way back to town either. People’s grannies relied on that shop-van and he sure wasn’t the kind of asshole outlaw who approved of inconveniencing people’s grannies. Leave that to the Hearadhs.
Man and inscrutable mount turned and headed back down the hill for a final sweep-through. If this didn’t work he was going to have to go back to the knitters and some of them had 3-hair warts and reminded him of his great-auntie Etta. He shuddered. But his pursuers would be here soon. So, flopping around in his saddle, wailing and shrieking his agonies to the street, he gave this last performance his all.
“Hey, I’m not bad at this! ” thought The Shawbost Kid .”Maybe, if I gave up my wild rebellious ways, I could get a gig on the stage or screen!” But he thought he remembered hearing that actors don’t get laid a lot, so he banished that thought quickly with a flea in its ear.
On and on he wailed, he even gnashed his teeth which isn’t as loud as it sounds and so he quit that in favour of some more wailing and carrying on.
And then… right at the bottom of the hill, a trim little yellow door with roses all around started to open.
“Pssst! Quick, over here, I can’t risk being seen!” The whisper was low and urgent.
The Shawbost Kid needed no further encouragement. Sliding brokenly, wincing and exhausted, he dismounted his unfathomable mare, who looked somehow as if she had seen this all before – in other towns, with other outlaws – and limped, foot dragging dramatically, over to the yellow door.
A hand pulled him inside and, too late, The Shawbost Kid realised his mistake. For the hand that pulled him was not slender and soft, nor was it plump and warm. This hand was broad and black hairs curled from it like his mammy’s wire-wool pot scrubber. He should have known! He should have guessed from the naughty garden gnomes that frolicked around the polished step! With a last glance as he was dragged inside he could see now just how naughty these gnomes were being. He should have noticed the alphabetically ordered pots of common kitchen herbs lined neatly up under the windows! He should have spotted the tiny (but oh so there, oh so very there) little rainbow flag in the bottom corner of the window!
The Shawbost Kid swallowed hard as the full realization came upon him. He had somehow managed to be rescued by the one and only Laddie Of The Night in all of Stornoway.
“Oh, wait! Wait!” he protested in the floral hall as the door shut behind him.
“Wait!, I’ve made a mistake. Look, hey, I think you guys are great, right, and I fully support you and your right to have your marriages fully recognized under UK law, I mean my cousin’s a gay and I played with him my whole life…I mean I didn’t play with him that way, I mean not like that, wink wink… God and Christ, no! No winking…I mean…Look, I reeeeaaally appreciate you saving my life and all but the thing is I’m really feeling much better now and my pursuers probably won’t be along for a whiley yet. So you know, if I limp quickly I’ll probably be safe enough to make it to the holy sanctuary of the church around the corner.
Just then, a great clatter of hooves resounded from the street outside. Through the top square of the charming 9-pane window, he saw a white hat. Shit.
“God, It’s always the same with you straighters” said the Laddie, a towering, beautiful, oiled Adonis standing in the hall with nothing but a Nigella Lawson apron on and spatula in his hand.
“Why would you imagine for a minute that I’d be interested in seducing you? I mean, look at the state of you, man! You stink! Just because I’m gay doesn’t mean I want to shag everything walking around with a willy in the Outer Hebrides, you know. I have standards like everybody else. I mean, I bet the reason you’re up here is that you didn’t want to be rescued by any lady older than 70 who has wiry three-hair warts, am I right?
The Shawbost Kid looked down at his wellies, and mumbled a sheepish “Yes”. He should feel relieved right? Yet, why was he wishing he had shaved that morning? Why was he so strangely miffed that this man, who was frankly, feckin’ gorgeous (even Chuck Norris would have to admit that) didn’t think he was even a wee bit cute?
The clatter in the street stopped suddenly…footsteps outside the little yellow door. Suddenly the door exploded inwards, splintering ahead of the foot that followed it.
The Laddie grabbed the Shawbost Kid to his burnished chest, shielding him by turning away from the door, and kissed him, kissed him like The Shawbost Kid had never been kissed before. Through the shattered door-frame, the embarrassed lawmen looked at the embracing pair – the huge Laddie hiding most of the Kid with his broad, muscular back – and they coughed a little. And again. And then cleared their throats a little more loudly, chestiness being an attribute in their line of work.
“Um. Excuse us, like. We’re just checking the neighbourhood for a desperate outlaw. Sorry about the door and that. Can’t be too careful you see. You wouldn’t have happened to see such a desperado this morning, sir…would you?
Laddie and The Kid continued in their passionate snog, seemingly oblivious to the awkward, shuffling defenders of justice peering in from the garden.
“Righty-ho! then,” said the man in the White Hat with excessive joviality. “I can see you’re busy – got to keep the wheels of commerce rolling, eh? Ahahahaha. Nice to see a young man up and at work so early. Look, we’ll just leave our card here and, you know, if you should…Jesus!”
Our Saviour was brought into the conversation right then on account of The Shawbost Kid’s hand moving down from the lean, muscular waist to cup the taut buttocks of the Laddie Of The Night.
“Umpff, let’s go lads, there’s nothing more we can accomplish here.”
And, calling back something garbled about sending a receipt for the damage to the station, the hard-riding, weather-beaten lawmen of Lewis beat the speediest retreat from the little cottage since 1973 when Sidney Wetherbottom of Little Chipping, Yorkshire, pulled out of Janice Cuddieswick just as Thomas Cuddieswick strode through the bedroom door – widely regarded as the speediest retreat beat by anyone, ever, in the British Isles.
Releasing The Kid with an involuntary shudder, The Laddie said to him, “Well, that was close! Go back there into the kitchen and I’ll make you some breakfast. You can lie low for a day but then you’re out, dyahear? Gone.”
And turning at the end of the hall, the glowing, handsome Laddie Of The Night, looked back curiously at the dazed, slightly swaying Shawbost Kid and said, “You know that’s one hell of a grip you’ve got with your right hand there, cowboy. My tush is going to be black and blue for a week!”
The Shawbost Kid looked at his hands. They were shaking. Frowning, confused, he touched his hand to his lips. Then he sat down and took off his wellie boots.