“You got a name?” Sklarr asked, trying to figure out which of the man’s eyes he should be addressing. He pulled his hand slowly from beneath his coat and rested it around a half empty glass of whiskey on the table.
“The name is Treadlow, Doug Treadlow.” He gestured to a chair opposite Sklarr’s. “May I?”
Sklarr eyed the big-bladed knife hanging from Treadlow’s web gear, then shifted his eyes slowly to the Strack riot pistol hanging from a clip on one of the chest straps. “What are you, some sort of gunslinger?” Sklarr asked without inviting Treadlow to take a seat. “We don’t get too many strangers down here unless they’re looking to get their boots dirty.”
Treadlow chuckled nervously and licked his lips. Moving a hand slowly and deliberately up to a pocket on his vest, he pulled out a package of cigarettes and lighter. He shook one smoke halfway out of the pack and held it out toward Sklarr. “Cingy?” he asked.
Sklarr stared at him a couple of seconds. “Sing-ee?” he grunted. Sklarr narrowed his eyes. He’d heard of this man Treadlow, and the name had been associated with Miller. Finally he said, “Sure, why not?” and took the offered smoke, or sing-ee as the tracker pronounced it. “Sit down.”
Treadlow leaned across the table and struck his lighter under Sklarr’s cigarette. He then turned the chair around and straddled it before shaking out a smoke for himself. After lighting it he took a long drag and blew it toward the low ceiling. “Thanks,” he said. “This wasn’t the easiest place to find.”
“It wasn’t? I don’t know how you could miss it. It’s like a pothole in the only road leading to hell.” Sklarr laughed at his own joke and waved a hand at a skinny, haggard-looking waitress near the crowded bar. “Whiskey,” he barked. “Bring a bottle and another glass.” Directing his attention back to Treadlow he asked, “You’re a tracker if I’m not mistaken, am I right?”
“You are right, sir,” Treadlow answered. “And I understand you are too, of sorts. That’s why I’m here in this shithole.”