I greeted the Townies, presented them with my R-P license. The younger of the women, a pleasant looking lady with thick blonde hair, wrinkled her nose in distaste when she saw the -P part of my license.
“A Privateer,” she sniffed. “I guess we don’t rate a full Regulator this month, William.” She simpered at the oldest of the men, and I mentally revised the “pleasant looking” assessment to “vapid cow that I hated.” I smiled genially at all of them anyway. It mattered little if they were dissatisfied by my presence, I was what they were getting.
“Well, Miss Marshall,” I said politely, “the Regulators have had their hands full lately, it is a big country after all. But I assure you I am thoroughly trained and quite experienced.”
She twitched when I said her name, as if I shouldn’t have known that, and gave a sickly smile. I turned my attention to the rest of the group, a nondescript younger man, another nondescript older man, an older woman, and the clear Patriarch of Elko, the aforementioned William. I nodded politely to all of them and said, “If you could be so kind as to direct me to the nearest spare room, I’ll get cleaned up and we can start Hearings around noon.”
The Patriarch gave a grin that shouldn’t have had quite so many teeth. “Of course, darlin’,” he boomed. Let me show you to the hotel, run by my own sweet wife.”
He draped a meaty arm over my shoulder, and I shot a warning glance at Ahab. Do not bite, it said. He shifted restlessly, undecided, then finally settled for an ear-splitting bray. William, whose last name was Carter, jumped a foot in the air at the unexpected sound, and I neatly moved two feet to the right, well out of meaty-arm range. Ahab trotted up to me and received extra special ear scratches.
“Such a good boy,” I whispered.