“Gol’ durn, Will. Just put it on, will you?” Ty had given Will a frock coat, dyed black, and a hat of the same color. “I got to muck out Maggie’s stables three months for these.” They stood inside a twenty by twenty-four foot wall tent, one of several lined up on the east side of the spaceship.
“Look here,” said Ty. He swept back his own coat and pretended to draw a gun, pointing his finger at Will.
“You getting a gun now?”
“Naw. Maybe. I don’t know. I’m just showing you the poise they give you.”
“Ain’t my way,” said Will.
“I know. It don’t have stains all over or that three-month-no-bath smell you enjoy, but they make a man look in control.”
“They make a man look like a bank robber. And the boots ain’t broke in.”
“You won’t have to wear them long,” said Ty. “Just long enough to meet the federals and demonstrate our posture.”
“You’re a deranged one, Ty.”
Ty planted his fists into his sides. “We found it.”
“Yeah, all right.”
After changing they stepped outside to watch for the federals. Sheriff Braniff supervised a compliment of guards, Cook sauntered about ‘observing’ for the state, and Doc cataloged an array of unrecognizable objects his crew had removed from the ship, laid out in orderly fashion upon stretches of rawhide.
Doc walked up and punched Ty in the jaw. “You think you’re my wife can tell me what to wear?” He had the same get-up on. Black duster over a black vest and trousers, boots and hat to match. “Mags hid my specs until I changed, the wretched woman.”
“Don’t disrespect Maggie,” said Ty.
“Like you know respect,” said Doc.
A whoop interrupted them and brought their attention to a party of riders approaching, about forty strong. They came to a stop in front of the gathering crowd. Three men dismounted, and a tall, lanky fellow, impeccably groomed, greeted them with a big smile.
“Marshal Roy Williams,” he said, extending his hand.
Cook beat Ty to it. “Deputy Lieutenant Governor Bernard Cook,” he said. “I’m—”
“Ty Colson.” Ty grabbed the marshal’s hand, then passed it on to Will. “Will Dobbs and I found this artifact.”
Roy leaned in. “Well, it is impressive. Can I get a closer look?”
“By all means,” said Ty. “Doc here’s our man of science. He can direct.”
Roy pointed his hand to a stocky, red-headed Irishman to his right. “This is Deputy Seamus McDonald. I’d like him to inspect your operations, if you don’t mind.”
“Absolutely,” said Ty. “Sheriff Braniff can help. He’s keeping the peace.” Ty hitched his mouth. “You know what, though. Cook is a state observer. Might be well suited to following your deputy around.”
“Grand,” said Roy.
Ty led Roy and a few of his men to the spaceship, keeping Will and Doc close. They examined the exterior, noting the coolness of the surface under the hot sun and marveling at the green-blue glow at one end. They looked inside, now with several chambers discovered, including one with what Doc surmised was a far advanced engine of some kind. Bizarre shapes and lights surrounded the driver’s harness, and Doc described the creature they’d found in it.
“This changes everything,” said Roy.
It was time for Ty to bring everything he’d contrived to roost. To impress with meaningful and earnest consequence the importance of their continued involvement.
“Everything and nothing,” said Ty. “It’s incumbent upon us to protect our ways from the overwhelming nature of it all.” He nodded at Will. “Ain’t it so.”
“I reckon we have plenty to guard agin,” said Will. “The world ain’t ready for this.”
“For us to set the way, we need to learn it from top to bottom,” said Ty. “We got three citizens what know how these things look, and that’s precious knowledge for proper custodials.”
Doc shook his spectacles at the federal’s nose. “We have to take great care that we regard these beings with respect and demand proper respect from them.”
Roy put his hand on Doc’s shoulder. “I am well impressed. And I laud your intentions and encourage you to continue. However, my friends, you should know that the president is sending a select team of experts to assume all activities.” He cocked his head and smirked. “You’ve got a nice little circle here. Maybe you can influence the officials’ virtue when they get here.”
They parted cordially. Roy headed back to the District, leaving Seamus and most of his men behind.
Ty spat. “Well. We’ve got purpose, anyways. Maybe we’ll obtain some good effects.”
“I expect our little club will do good works for a while,” said Doc. “But like most institutions, we’ll pass and others will follow, eventually taking it in some unforeseeable way.”
The president’s team arrived a few weeks later. Unexpectedly friendly, they kept Ty and his cohorts close, drawing upon what they’d learned. Ty wore his blacks every day, and Doc showed up from time to time with them, but Will returned to his dingies for the most part, except for the day Maggie came out with butterscotch pie and molasses stack cake.
The three of them feasted on the sweets as a federal messenger galloped in and addressed Seamus and Cook. Ty, Will, and Doc walked over to hear what was up, standing next to each other, their dusters flapping in the breeze.
“The president sends his regards,” said the messenger. “They’ve found another one in Oklahoma.”
“All right,” said Seamus. “Cook, set up a party.”
“Sir,” said the messenger. “The president sent for the Men in Black.”
Cook stared at him, unmistakeable irritation on his face. Ty resisted every fiber of his coil that wanted to jump, punch the air, and cheer.
“Now we’re getting there,” said Doc.
“My feet hurt,” said Will.