Day 26, TINSEL RAIN NaNoWriMo: 53511/60000.

Got more work done than I expected. Which is nice. Dinner went well, too.

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“So this is the famous Tom Vargas,” Howie Rowan said as the party hubbubbed around us. In contrast with everybody else, his formal wear looked Badlands-derived: polished boots, black denim pants and jacket, cotton shirt, and a black Stetson. Oh, and a bolo tie. He was tall and slim enough to pull the thing off,too. “So pleased you could join us.”

“Yeah,” I replied. “I even brought my nose along. No thanks to that jackass you sent to collect it. How are his ribs, anyway?”

“Wouldn’t know, tell truthful,” Rowan replied. He shrugged. “He ain’t with my outfit no more.”

“He have time to pass on my message?”

“And what message would that be, Mr. Vargas?”

“That the rules are different, here.”

That got a laugh. An actual, genuine laugh. “No, they’re not. They’re the same rules as everywhere else. You can do whatever you can get away with, and when you’re on top? You can get away with a lot. I just didn’t figure you’d be too hard to just squash. My sincere apologies for the insult.”

“Well, that’s refreshing,” I said as I pulled out a cigarette. “Unless you mind?” A lot of foreigners still got this taboo about tobacco. I don’t know why: the stuff’s been safe for centuries.

“Feel free,” Rowan said. “Do I look like a Mormon?”

I looked him up and down. “Not particularly.” I didn’t offer him a smoke, but unfortunately he probably knew enough about Shamuses by now to realize me not offering him one wasn’t an insult.