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 The Laughing Stranger

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The Laughing Stranger
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PostSubject: The Laughing Stranger   Thu 05 Sep 2013, 17:42

The dark study was lit by a single globular oil lamp that cast the room into stark relief, illuminating the old attorney as he bent close over his work, his pen strokes quick and hurried. A solitary window was open as wide as possible, allowing in a cool evening breeze that stirred the room and made the papers on his desk rustle to life, as if they were vying for attention, striving to get to top of the heap. In one corner of the room lounged a man, and it was hard to say if he appeared or if he had simply always been there, unnoticed. The stranger's coat was grey with trail dust, and his boots were worn and spackled with red clay. A battered once-white cowboy hat was angled low over the stranger's face, screening his eyes from view. The old lawyer hardly looked up from his disorderly pile of case notes and a grin flashed across the traveler's tan-darkened face.

"Hello, John; wait, where are my manners? John, esquire." The traveler gave an exaggerated bow. "It is esquire, now, isn't it? Aren't we moving up in the world?"

The alderman sighed and steepled his hands. "I would appreciate if you would just tell me what can I do for you, you miserable jackal." His tone was even, almost joking, but he could not stop the slight hint of a grimace from tugging at the corners of his mouth.

The stranger just laughed and sauntered up to the desk. With one fluid movement he unscrewed the top of the lamp, giving himself access to the small, open flame. The lawyer looked up at his visitor and saw that the stranger was smiling. He always hated it when his courtroom opponents smiled.

The stranger fished a single roughly-rolled coffin nail from his pocket and lit it in the exposed lamp. He gave it a contemplative drag before turning toward the lawyer, who grudgingly met his visitor's gaze.

The stranger's eyes were weird and yellow, the color of fool's gold.

"I own some land out west, John, and I want to offload it."

"I'm a lawyer, not some two-bit empresario. I have no interest in buying or selling any of your land."

"I didn't say I'm looking to sell, my litigious friend. I want to give it away." The stranger reached into the mound of case files and flipped over one at random, revealing what appeared to be a hastily-drawn map of the Republic. The stranger indicated a location in the far west with an impatient tap of the finger. His hands looked as if he had never done an honest day's work in his life.

"It is here, out past Commancheria, between the Pecos and the Devil's River."
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PostSubject: Re: The Laughing Stranger   Mon 23 Sep 2013, 17:29

The old adviser looked at where the stranger was pointing before shrugging dismissively. "Even if someone made it that far out to stake a claim, they wouldn't last long, what with the Comanche, Lipan and the Mexicans."

"I didn't say the land I was giving away was safe, John." The cowboy gave an exasperated snort. "All I need you to do is grant me some... legal legitimacy. You write out the deed, and, say, five nice letters of writ, and I'll call it even between us."

John looked up, scrutinizing his odd companion. "What is this all about, Outsider? What's your game?"
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