“You’re into town early, brother.” The fellow lounged just inside the gate of a paddock, apparently associated with the nearby rhamshackled inn. “What brings you to Bellhaven so early?”
Iamerge stopped and looked at the fellow. “Well, I’m looking for somebody. A business matter. . .”
“Business? Well, then you’ve met your man. Why, I’m the mayor of Rat Town.”
“Sure sure, this ain’t Fish Town, this ain’t the Square, this ain’t the Hill, it’s Rat Town.” The man chuckled to himself, “Truth is t’was rats voted me mayor, so it ain’t rit down or noth’n. Still, you ask anybody who’s the mayor of Rat Town and they’ll say old Jim is.
“Yes, well good to meet you. . .”
“Jim, Jim Cooper is my name. I make my way, sure I do. I know what’s what, and who, that I do. If you need know’n you talk to old Jim. You ask anyone who the mayor of Rat Town is, they’ll tell you, old Jim is, sure enough.
“I’ll remember your honor.”
Cooper laughed at that and jumped to his feet, “I like you. Most of them brothers don’t want noth’n to do with old Jim, but you ain’t no brother at all are you?”
Iamerge whirled on the man who was standing in the gate now, not lounging, on his guard, “Why do you say that?”
Cooper laughed again, “Well you can take the monk out of the habit, but you can’t take the habits out of the man. Most of your brothers cut the front of their hair off. You look like nobody cut your hair for awhile.” Cooper’s chuckle lost its humor, “No brother’d have much to do with old Jim, but that don’t mean we in town don’t know their worth. You aren’t likely to find no friend around here if you did them ill. So how’d you come dressed like a brother to Bellhaven lad, and don’t try to tell Jim no tale.”
“I’m looking for a man, just looking for him,” Iamerge stepped back toward the center of the street.
“Now that’s not what I asked,” And Jim Cooper, or whoever he was, moved after, staying closer than Iamerge liked.
“I’m staying with the brothers, with Gospels,” He said, defensively. There was a rumbling, but Iamerge’s attention was on old Jim, who moved like a fighter and not that old either. The rumbling sound was louder, drawing his attention, He saw horses and men bearing down, and in that moment Cooper had a fist full of Iamerge’s garment and was yanking him into the paddock.