Billy the Kid


"Drrr -- bang! You're dead!" shrieked the oldest of the kids. "I got you, Mark!"

"No you didn't, that's the wall you shot. Pretend I dived behind it, and you missed!"

"And then, I've got the tank to blast you with! BOOM! BOOM!..."

Inside the car, Bodie smiled and shook his head, as the children raced around the patch of grass the council laughingly called a recreation ground. The swings were bust, the see-saw long rotten away, and the roundabout had been broken for months, so the youngsters amused themselves in time-honored fashion with their best toy -- their imagination.

On stake-out, Bodie found you had plenty of time to think -- to remember things -- even to plan sometimes... He slid a sidelong glance at his partner, whose eyes were scanning the target house... yeah, plans, for you tonight, sunshine...MY imagination's working well.

One of the children was whining, jet-style, as he came in on a strafing run and blitzed his best mate's tanks, only to be gunned down by Mark's anti-aircraft gun...

Noisy buggers, thought Bodie. Playing war games now, with bazookas and S.M.G.s -- when I was a kid, it was Cowboys and Indians...And he allowed himself the luxury of remembering other streets, dockside in Liverpool, where the cowboys all wore shorts, and the indians yelled with Scouse accents. Yeah, remember those days, Bodie grinned wryly, with my six-guns stuck in my pockets, because me mam couldn't afford to buy holsters for them.

The thought of what he must have looked like, six years old, big for his age, and bullying the littler kids into being his gang of desperados...Billy Bodie, as Billy the Kid...

He laughed aloud.

Doyle turned his head lazily. "What's up?"

Bodie wrinkled his nose. "Nothing, mate." Well, not yet at any rate: afterwards, maybe... "Just thinking, that's all."

"Don't strain yourself," teased Doyle, settling back to watch the house. His eyes had a sort of far-away look.

Bodie noticed and was curious. "Penny for 'em, Ray?"

Doyle smiled fondly. "Was just thinking of when I was a kid. I used to play Cowboys and Indians when I was their age."

"Bet you were a right little tearaway," Bodie remarked drily.

"Nah, not me. I was the sheriff," laughed Doyle. "Worked out that he always survived to fight another day, and usually got the girl at the end, too." He arched an eyebrow at Bodie teasingly...

Yeah, thought Bodie, you WOULD...

Bodie remembered the day he had been told what happened to William Bonney. That had been the turning-point for him. From then on, he wanted to be a good guy and live to fight another day -- that was when things had really started to matter to him...

Abruptly, Bodie turned to face his partner.

"Ray, do you know who got Billy the Kid in the end?"

Doyle grinned and slid a well-practiced hand up Bodie's leg to his groin.

"Yeah, I did, sunshine. Who d'you think always played Pat Garrett?"

-- THE END --
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