Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/361480-Dont-Call-Him-Kenny
by Stormy
Rated: ASR · Short Story · Romance/Love · #361480
A story of a woman in love with a modern day knight in shining armor.

“Have no fear my young damsel in distress, your knight in shining armor has arrived.”

Dale walked into my office and tossed a pile of crisp white engineering drawings on my desk. He seemed quite pleased with himself today. There were few days when he wasn’t smitten with himself. He often bragged that he could walk on water. I had little doubt that he actually could if he so wished.

“You know what happened to the last guy who made a statement like that?” I asked.

“You had him beheaded?” Dale mused. He was always smiling. There were days when I was glad to see Dale and days when I didn’t care if I never saw the man again. He had a good sense of humor, but sometimes I wasn’t in the mood for laughing.

“Only a queen will ask to have a knight beheaded,” I said. “Did you know that?”

“What about the king?”

“The king would just have him killed. He wouldn’t specify a method.”

“If you say so,” said Dale pulling up a chair and making himself at home. “And how do you know so much about this medieval lore?”

“When I was a kid, a neighbor up the street read me stories about King Arthur and Lady Guinevere and loyal knights in shining armor mounted on gallant steeds. I’ve always been fascinated.”

I stopped suddenly. Childhood was a subject I usually avoided. Dale had probably had a wonderful childhood. Two parents who loved him and maybe a few siblings. Probably a dog that didn’t have to stay in a cold garage.

“I see,” said Dale. “So are you in search of a king or just a kingdom to conquer?”

“Do I look like the conquering type?” I asked. I removed the rubber band from the drawings and began to flip through the pile. There were a lot of drawings to look at. I hadn’t really planned on working the weekend. Especially not this weekend. I actually had plans for a change.

“You look like the type who would have others conquer and pillage for you, then take all the credit. I think you’d make a good queen. I’d say princess, but some women take offense at that.”

Dale had picked up the small pewter knight figurine that sat forever vigilant next to my computer speakers on the corner of my desk. People seemed to like to play with that one the best. He was an unfortunate decoy for the rest.

“Oh, Dale,” I said. “Not at all. I always give credit where credit is due.”

Dale gave me a rather serious look and our eyes locked for a second, then he focused his attention back on the tiny knight. Not much made Dale nervous, but he had to be in control at all times. Dale was one of those people who was very intelligent and highly unorthodox. He got results, but in a way that made most people feel uncomfortable. He was a risk taker. I was slightly attracted to his dangerous side and wayward personality, but that was as far as it went. There were millions of Dales in the world.

“Well that should be it,” Dale said walking the knight across the stack of drawings. “I think you have everything you need now.”

There were over a dozen knights in my office. I had started collecting them a few years ago. The pewter ones had the most detail but also had a few wooden and stone statues. A large iron knight acted as a doorstop.

The knight in Dale’s hand suddenly looked very small and helpless. Dale was making me nervous the way he tossed it around. Knights were to be treated with respect, but I said nothing.

“So what did happen to the last guy who made a statement like that?” Dale asked finally putting the knight back down.

“What?” I asked. I resisted the urge to move the knight back to his proper position. He was too near the speakers now. He needed to be alert at all times.

“When I walked in here proclaiming to be your long lost knight, you said something bad happened to the last one.” Dale was smiling again, but it was a fake smile this time.

I shook my head. “Nothing bad happened. He’s living happily ever after. The worst thing I ever did to him was put him on a pedestal.”

“Well I can safely say that no woman has ever put me on a pedestal. So the story has a happy ending then?”

I wanted Dale to leave now, but he clasped his hands behind his head and leaned back in the chair. He wasn’t going anywhere for awhile.

My office had become a refuge for him. Located in the farthest corner of the building, few people bothered to find me. Email and phone calls were easier. Dale would often hide in my office for hours. Sometimes we would talk, other times he would read the paper and be rather quiet. Most of the time I liked Dale, but right now, I wanted him to go. He had brought up a subject I discussed with few people and I was feeling a bit vulnerable.

“I hope so. It hasn’t actually ended yet.”

Dale’s face took on one of amused surprise and I realized I had made a mistake by starting the conversation up again. Had I just thanked him for the drawings, he would be gone now. Yet a part of me wanted the conversation to continue. As much as I kept up a wall of solitude, I also welcomed company. Some of my antisocial behavior was a charade for those who dared to come forth and affront me. Tension was what bonded me to certain individuals. With Dale there was an invisible line between us, a line that would never be crossed. We were both aware of it at all times.

“So the battle rages on?” Dale asked. The miniature knight was back in his hand again, He was holding it upside down looking at the soles of the tiny boots.

“What battle?” I asked. I could stand him torturing my knight no more. I reached out and opened my palm for the knight. Dale grinned and slowly placed the knight in my hand. I was sweating and my fingers trembled ever so slightly. A slight hint of discomfort filled the air, but it was not from the tension between Dale and me. I could handle people like Dale. His actions were easy to predict.

“Whatever battle your mystery knight is fighting for. Isn’t that what knights do? Once the battle is won, there is little need for them.”

“They can still stand guard. They are excellent at guarding. Some people always need rescuing.” I held the knight gently in my hand. It was warm from Dale’s manipulations.

“You can buy a dog to do that,” Dale said. “Knights don’t spend years honing their battle skills to just simply stand and guard. It’s a terrible waste of their talent.”

Dale had found a pencil on my desk and was rolling it back and forth. He had to be playing with something. Dale was a natural at distraction. I put the pewter knight down next to my keyboard and out of harms way. He could return to his lookout later.

“I suppose you’re right,” I said. He wasn’t right, but I was going to let him win this round. I had the home advantage. He needed to win a few rounds or he wouldn’t want to play any more. This was a game we were playing.

“So what’s this guy’s name?” Dale asked. He was showing no signs of getting ready to leave. He was enjoying the game.

“What guy I asked?” I could feel my heartbeat quicken and knew color was creeping into my face. I could stop the game if I wanted to. It was my game, after all. If Dale wasn’t going to play fair, I could have him removed. He was close to the line, the closest he had ever been, but I knew he wouldn’t step over it. He wouldn’t risk being taken out of the game permanently.

“My predecessor. The one who’s life you spared. The one living happily ever after high upon a pedestal.”

“Why do you care what his name is?” I asked. Dale was going to have to work hard for this point.

“I’m just wondering what knights these days go by. I haven’t met too many Lancelots or Galahads in my travels.”

I had to think. I had to defend my dear knight as he had undoubtedly defended me many times. His quest had become my quest and I would not let someone like Dale make a mockery of what we shared. What did Dale know about true love? What did he know about finding that one perfect person you have dreamed of all your life? What did he know about feeling so safe and secure with someone that nothing else in the world mattered?

“A name has little to do with the qualities of a knight. True knights are known by their renown. A knight earns a name through his actions and his pursuit of virtue. A knight’s name lives in the hearts of others who recognize and honor the noble man for his good name, not his given name. In this way, a knight earns the armor that will defend him when he falters.”

My heat was pounding now. But I was still in control of the game. I glanced at the tiny knight by my keyboard. His back was to me. Was he ashamed or was he watchful? It was hard to tell sometimes. I took in a deep breath and looked at Dale. His face was blank but he was about to come up with his next move. Rather than risk losing a point, he would choose something safe to say and hold his ground. The game was becoming more intense than he had prepared for.

“Fine, don’t tell me,” he said and glanced at his cell phone clipped to his belt. It was strangely silent today. It often chirped when Dale was in my office, but he rarely answered it. Today, he was hoping for a call, any call. A call would give him the opportunity to postpone the game.

I smiled at Dale, a small, quiet smile. We were both back where we belonged on our sides of the line. The tension was evaporating.

“His name is Ken,” I said.

“Ken?” Dale laughed, “as in Barbie and Ken. What kind of name is that for a knight?”

“You have a problem with Ken?” I asked. I put on the sternest face I could considering the circumstances. I was angry now, but that was good. Anger was an emotion I could draw energy from. Anger was what I needed. No one picked on Ken.

“Ken’s an OK name for your tax preparer, but it’s not exactly the name that comes to mind when I think of a guy in a suit of armor.” Dale yawned. Now that he was winning, he was bored. He was losing interest quickly.

“Today a knight must rely on the armor of his soul to defend himself.”

“Armor of his soul, that’s deep,” Dale said and yawned again. “How about Sir Ken, at least. Aren’t all knights called sir?”

“I sometimes call him sir.”

“And where is Sir Kenny now?” Dale was smiling a dumb, lazy smile. He knew he was going to win, he was coasting now. There was no reason to expend any more energy.

“Pursuing virtue, of course,” I replied. “Like a good knight.”

“Pursuing virtue? That’s it?”

“That’s what modern knights do. They seek to overcome temptations to do what is right. They strive for excellence even though it is always just beyond their grasp. Knights have to be more than just defenders to those in need. They have to be strong at all times, and also capable of courtesy and respect. Not just anyone can be a knight.”

Dale was nodding slowly and ran his fingers through his already mussed hair. He was thinking. “And why would any guy in his right mind want to live up to such expectations?”

“Love,” I said looking into Dale’s eyes. “They do it for love.”

“Love?” Dale asked? He hadn’t seen that one coming. “Oh, come on. That’s lame.”

“Love is the only thing that can influence a knight. It is his strengthening force. Love is what propels a knight to greatness.”

Dale was squirming now, just a little. His perfect white teeth worried at his lower lip. He ran his fingers through his hair again and sat up straight in the chair. He had no interest in love. He would declare the game a draw. There would be no winners today. “Your Kenny sounds like quite the guy.”

“Well, that’s the problem,” I said forming my hands and fingers into a crude pyramid.

“What’s the problem?”

“I really can’t lay claim to Ken.”

“What?” Dale squinted as if his eyes hurt.

“He goes home every evening to the waiting arms of another.” I sighed sadly.

“You’re knight is married?” Dale asked, his eyes shining again with slight interest.

“Yes.” I said and sighed again.

“I didn’t know knights could get married. Aren’t they kind of like priests?”

I shook my head.

Dale looked around the office. He was noticing all the tiny knights in their clever hiding places for the first time. You had to concentrate and look closely to see them. “Is this guy real or just some fairy tale you’re hoping will come true some day?”

“Ken is very real.” I opened the top desk drawer and picked up a photograph. I stared at it for a moment, then handed it to Dale.

“This is your knight?” He looked at me, then back at the photo. At least he was holding it by the edges.

“That’s him.” I reached out and retrieved the photo.

“And does Kenny know you have bestowed knightly qualities upon him?”

“Yes, he is aware of the situation.”

“I think you need more than a knight, my dear. No guy is worth putting on a pedestal, especially a married one.”

“This should be it, right? I asked, picking up the bundle of drawings. I did not need to explain my feelings for Ken to Dale. I knew he wouldn’t understand. He wouldn’t understand how comfortable I feel with Ken. How I cannot be so completely myself with anyone else. He wouldn’t understand because even I don’t understand. Love doesn't follow any rules: it follows the heart. Such a love, fleeting and tenuous, is a rare jewel indeed. A precious gift so few of us are privileged to share.

“That’s everything that was on your list.”

I put my hand on the stack as if to verify the information in some kind of psychic way. Dale stood up and checked his cell phone again. Had he won the game? He wasn’t so certain.

“OK my fair maiden, we’ll talk again.”

As Dale neared the door way, I stopped him. “One thing before you go, sir.”

“What’s that?” he asked. I hadn’t realized how tall Dale was. He had to duck to leave the room.

“Don’t call him Kenny.”

Dale let out a small chuckle. “OK, you got it. And don’t call me sir.”
© Copyright 2002 Stormy (stormfrog at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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