Mine is a hard road, but I travel it faithfully, for my calling is just and true. I am meant to travel from the largest city to the tiniest hamlet and offer my services to any who might need them. Forever I shall roam these roads, righting wrongs, helping the helpless, and wooing damsels, armed with nothing more than my wits, my gut, my faithful squire Frankie, and Rosie, our trusty Buick Skylark.
For I am Sir Alfred Quick, knight errant.
“Hark!” I say, pointing ahead to a shining spot down the road through the crystal windscreen. “What yonder?”
Next to me, valiantly piloting Rosie like the true sailor he is, Frankie peers deeply in the direction I am pointing
“What, the Hardee’s?”
“Yes, yes! The Hardees!” I say, infusing my tone with the jubilant praise my squire so rightly deserves. “Let us steer ourselves in such direction! This will be a place where we can slake multiple thirsts: we shall surely find someone who needs help in this nestled community, and of course such victuals that will fill our empty stomachs!”
“Yeah, man, sounds good,” Frankie says. “Only, you mind if we stop at the Taco Bell next door instead? I could totally do a Mexican Pizza.”
I look at Frankie in astonishment. “A Mexican Pizza, you say? Why, I’ve never heard of such a wonderous thing! Are the Italians aware that their creation has been taken by another country and, though I do assume, improved upon?”
Frankie shakes his head in a way that tosses his locks in every direction. “I’m pretty sure both Mexican pizzas and regular pizzas are American foods. I don’t know what the Italians think.”
“A mystery! We must do research, my good boy! The next time we are in such a place to do so, of course.”
My squire is quite the enthusiastic lad! Ever since the day I met him, standing next to the entrance of the Fifth Interstate with his thumb out and a poorly scrawled sign, he has been my constant companion. Never complaining, always ready for a new challenge! And he seems to have a supernatural sense at finding people who need our help.
Indeed, as he parks our trusty Rosie in the parking lot between the two inns, I can see through the windows that there are far more people in the Taco Bell than the Hardees. Which means far more people who might need my services. Yes, today is a good day!
“What ho, madam!” I call as we enter through the glass doors. The young woman, as pretty as a painted picture in her turquoise shirt and matching visor, stares at me in wonder. It is a reaction I am quite used to, I assure you. It is a sad statement of today’s world that I appear to be the only knight errant traveling the wilds.
“Welcome to Taco Bell,” she says in a voice perfectly made to match her soft brown eyes, her shiny brown hair pulled into the most perfect pony tail, and her perfect shape, which of course did not need description as all women come in the most perfect shape. I wished to serenade her, to shower her with all of the descriptors of her beauty she so rightly deserves. But Frankie has recently informed me that women today find this ‘off-putting and a little fucking sketchy,’ so I keep my admirations to myself. No woman shall ever find Sir Alfred Quick ‘sketchy!’
“My dear Gloria,” I say, reading the stately nametag affixed to her polo. “I have been told my by Squire Frankie that I simply must try this Mexican Pizza. But I am unsure as to what else I shall have. Do you, perchance, have a menu?”
Gloria wordlessly points up above her head. Such an efficient woman! I had expected a paper menu I may hold, but the words hanging above her head are big enough for me to read and filled with such wonderous things the names of which have never graced my ears!
“Franke? What is a…cha-luhp-a?”
“Chalupa, man, long u. Why don’t you let me order? I’ll get a bunch of stuff for you to try?”
“Excellent idea, lad, excellent idea! You are far more knowledgeable of this place of tacos and bells.”
While Frankie and Gloria discuss the finer details of our upcoming meal I allow my eyes to gently scan the dining room. Beautiful, such shades of blues and pinks blending together as though a master artist had designed this room! And filled with half a dozen of people. Surely one of them would need something from a knight errant.
“Tell me, Gloria,” I say while Frankie deals with the payment machine. “We are travelers of the world, looking to help whoever and however we can. Is there anyone here in this inn who could use a hand?”
Gloria fixes those gorgeous eyes on me I almost melt on the spot.
“Help with what?”
“With whatever!” I say, raising my hands to indicate that I could help with the entire inn, if need be. “I am Sir Alfred Quick, knight errant, and I am dedicated to helping anyone who comes to me with any problem, if I can. And I rarely can’t.”
“I don’t know. No one’s here I know,” she says, looking around the dining room. “Order’s up.”
As I pick up the tray with our delectable-looking food, I overheard Gloria and Frankie talking.
“Your grandpa’s weird.”
“Yeah, I guess. He’s also really cool, though. Last week we spent an entire day hunting down this dude’s lost puppies. Dude was so happy when we came back he threw up.”
It is only after we are halfway through our midday meal – the chalupa was so scrumptious Frankie had to stop me from immediately ordering a second – when one of the other patrons of the inn approaches our table. She is a woman with the most perfect shape and face. A baby sits on her hip and she is holding the hand of another young child.
“I heard you say you do odd jobs?” she asks.
“My dear woman, I do all sorts of jobs, whether one would consider them outside societal norms or not.”
She glances between me and Frankie.
“He says yes.”
“Well, I don’t know if this is the sort of thing you do, but I got a family of raccoons living in my crawlspace. Animal control won’t come out because they say they’re not dangerous and no one else will come out because they say they are dangerous. I don’t even want them dead. I just want them living somewhere else.”
“Racoons! Living in an crawlspace! Such an adventure I don’t think I’ve ever had. What about you, Frankie?”
“We moved squirrels out of a lady’s attic a couple of months ago, that’s similar,” he says. By his tone I can tell he is not downplaying the exciting afternoon that now lies ahead of us, but only assuring this woman that we are indeed capable of moving small, energetic mammals out of human habitation.
The woman shifts the weight of the baby on her hip as the look of relief fades. “What do you charge?”
Frankie gives me a look and I stop. He has warned me in the past that offering my knightly services for free will only make people suspicious. I did not believe him at first, but he has spoken the truth: ever since I started charging even a paltry amount I have had fewer people turn down my services. It is insanity! But I do what I must to help people.
“How many raccoons?” Frankie asks.
“It’s a family. So two large ones, and I think three small ones. I think. They don’t come out much.”
“How about this: a hundred bucks for all of them, or fifty bucks and dinner when we’re done?”
The woman smiles at us. “I make a good casserole?”
“My good woman!” I say, putting a hand to my chest. “The day I turn down a casserole is the day I’m dead! What say you, my squire?”
Frankie gives me that devilish grin of his. “I say we’re hunting raccoons.”
“Huzzah!” I say.
“Huzzah!” Frankie repeats.
“Huzzah!” comes from the child at the woman’s side.
These are the moments I truly cherish. The moment where a knight errant has once again discovered his purpose. The light in the woman’s face is truly payment enough, but Frankie is correct that most motels do not accept happiness as payment. Such a shame.