“Maybe it is a fool’s errand” said Thayne as he puffed his slumbering cigarillo back into life, “but I know there’s gold in these here hills.”
“Got something to prove huh?” asked the man beside him, grinning with a mess of brown, misshapen teeth.
“You could say that” Thayne replied as he casually directed his gaze over to the burlesque singer performing at the other end of the saloon.
“Yeah, thought so. Young whipper-snapper comes in from outa town, strolls in like he owns the place, definitely got somethin’ to prove. So what is it? Wanna make a name for yourself, that it? Get yourself some money and get yourself a fancy woman?”
Thayne smiled, looked his dishevelled drinking companion in the eye. “Don’t miss nothin’ do you?”
The man sported an even wider grin. “Well, when you’ve been around here long as I have, you tend to notice things. F’r instance,” he said as he gestured with his shot glass in the direction of a group of miners who were playing cards, whores draped over their shoulders or sat on their laps, “see those men over there? They’ve been here for three months, barely got enough gold to see ‘em by. They won’t be here much longer, a couple of months and they’ll be on their way. You won’t be here for long either, mark my words.” He winked at Thayne, knocked back his liquor.
“Hmm” Thayne replied, stroking the gristle on his chin. “Well, I think that perhaps they were just mining the wrong hole.” He smiled again, picked up his own glass, swallowed the contents and set it back down on the bar loudly enough that the barkeep heard him and poured another shot of bourbon.
“You don’t say?” the other man replied with a guffaw. “You goin’ to mine some holes son?”
“That’d be about right. Say, who’s the big cheese around here?”
“The big cheese? You mean the Sherriff or the person who tells him what to do?”
“Well, Sherriff Bronson’s the law around here. Straight as an arrow, doesn’t take shit from nobody. There again Avery’s got his fingers in damn near every pie in town, owns the livery and the store what with the money he’s made from his ranch. Makes a fair bit from the gold mines as well.”
“What kind of character is he?”
“Well, he’s polite like but you don’t wanna mess with him or any of his boys.”
“Fair enough. So where do I go to get a permit?”
“For what? Mining?”
“’Mongst other things” replied Thayne, grinning as he knocked back another shot. He know that gold mining was okay for the short term, just till he got his bearings.
The real money was in liquor, gambling and whores.