Monday, November 10, 2008

Blood is Thicker than Water: Chip Hyland to the Rescue

The blond frontiersman threw his poke hand face down on the table, placed his hat on at a jaunty angle, and walked toward the booth purposefully. Later we would learn this step typified Mr. Hyland’s attitude in life: don’t put it off, just finish it. Chip Hyland recognized ladies in distress when he saw them. “’Scuse me, I believe that you may be harassin’ these ladies.”

“These, sir,” Henry spoke, “are no ladies. Now, why don’t you mind your business and return to your card game?”

“I don’t imagine I know how you folks run your business down here,” Hyland said, “but back where I come from, any female gets a sight of respect. Now, mister, you’d better let go of her arm.”

Claude sized up his opponent, and in true New Orleans fashion, was too headstrong to be intimidated. “Before we settle this unpleasantly, you might follow my friend’s advice. Return to your poker, cowboy. This is none of your business.”

Chip touched his hat and Abigail saw how enormous his hands were. “I reckon you’re right,” he said to Claude. “So I’ll make it my business. Ma’am?”

Abigail fluttered her lashes at him. “Yes?”

“My name is William Hyland. I’d be obliged if you’d call me Chip like the rest of my friends do. Can I help you and the other lady?”

“I’d be much obliged, Chip. I’m Abigail Raintree. My friends call me Abby.”

“Well, Miss Raintree, now that I know you, I’ll be happy to take care of this yahoo for you.”

“That would be most kind, Mr. Hyland.”

Chip returned his attention to Claude, who was befuddled by this exchange. “This is my friend, Miss Raintree,” Chip said. “Since she is my friend, I figure you’d best be getting your hand off her, or I’ll have to do something you and your friend would regret.”

Claude threw Abby’s arm down and stepped out of the booth. He must have been intimidated by Hyland’s size, but he faced the man. “Do you wish to duel?” he asked.

“Nope,” replied Hyland. “That’s illegal. I just want to punch your face in.” Hyland swung his massive fist under the man’s jaw, and Claude crumpled to the floor. Then Hyland reeled to face Henry.

Henry was not as disposed to talking as Claude had been. Henry had removed a knife from somewhere, and, stepping away from Juliet, circled Hyland in a half crouch, ready to spring. The knife flashed through the air. Hyland feinted and blocked the knife arm. He then brought a hammer-like fist into Henry’s midsection. Henry dropped the knife and doubled over. Hyland slammed both his hands down on Henry’s skull and the man was down.

Chip straightened his tie and retrieved his hat from the floor where it had fallen. Abby was helping Julie, who muttered that she felt ill, up from the table.

“Are you ladies hurt?” Hyland asked solicitously.

“Thanks to you, Mr. Hyland,” Abby said, “we are not. My companion appears to be the worse for our experience. Could you please help us home?”

Between the two of them, Abby and Hyland managed to get Juliet through the streets to our rooms. If any vampires observed their walk home, they left them unmolested. Mr. Hyland would have given even the undead pause, I am sure. Of course, it was impossible for Abby to take Juliet upstairs alone, so once again Abby enlisted Chip’s aid, requesting silence so they could avoid waking me. Such fortune was not destined for my niece that night, since I had waited up.

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