Will enjoyed the comfort of the Pullman car, even if it was a bit dusty and humid. He took turns with Ty reading a chapter from ‘The Man in the Iron Mask’ that Maggie had borrowed them. Ty kept scowling at him from the opposing bench, impatient for his turn. Dock’s head bounced on his shoulder as he snored.
“We could take turns reading it aloud,” said Will.
“I don’t like reading out loud,” said Ty.
“Maybe you don’t want anyone to know you can’t read,” said Will.
“I read the whole Bible. Have you?”
“I reckon I’ve read most of it.” Will flipped through pages to the end of the chapter. “Five more to go.”
Ty grunted. “Reading aloud would make us seem normal like. I don’t figure you understand the importance of reputation, and in our business it should be right peculiar.”
Will scoffed. Ty was still pouting on account of him and doc not keeping their black hats and cloaks on in the railcar. “Our business? You mind telling me what we’re contracted at for this job we’re heading for?”
“Federal compensation, the man said.” Ty leaned forward. “Federal compensation.”
“Gol’ durn, Ty. We’ll be lucky if it pays for the train tickets.”
“Excuse me, sirs.” A young boy wobbled to Will’s side, held onto the seat, and clutched his bowler.
“How are you, young man?” said Will.
“Good, sir. Thank you.” He let go of the seat for a second then grabbed it again as the car swayed. “I would like to inquire, if it isn’t too intrusive, as to your occupation?”
“I’d love to tell you, kid,” said Ty. “But then I’d have to make you disappear.”
The boy’s cheeks blanched.
“Don’t listen to him,” said Will. “We’re, uh… We’re investigators.”
“I knew it!” the boy yelped. “You work for Pinkerton?”
“No, son,” said Ty. “We’re the Men in Black. We handle the cases too secret for the Pinkertons.”
Will rolled his eyes. “What’s your name, boy?”
“Well, Wallace. That gentleman snoozing there is a doctor and a true scientist.”
“You mean like animal husbandry?” asked the boy.
“And the like,” said Will. “He studies alchemy and the stars, as well.”
The boy’s eyes widened. “Wow. What are you?”
“Me?” said Will. “I’m a jack-of-all-trades.”
“A glorified gofer,” said Ty with a smirk.
“Maybe that, too,” said Will, smiling back. “But last job I was an acrobat.”
Wallace beamed.“What about him?” He pointed to Ty.
“He’s what I’d call a public relations man.”
“What’s a public relations man?” asked Wallace.
Doc snorted and lifted his head, trailing drool from Ty’s shoulder. “It’s another word for blowhard.”
Will laughed, and Ty scowled.
“It’s true,” said Doc.
“That’s about all I can tell you,” said Will. He moved to look the boy closely in the eyes. “It’s a secret though. So don’t tell anyone.”
Wallace shook his head and pursed his lips.
“Attaboy,” said Will.
Wallace teetered back to his seat.
“And the legend begins,” said Will.
“You done, yet?” said Ty.