Bible Man was interesting. The gray streaked beard, the glittering eyes, the sense of purpose that you only get when you are truly freaking insane. He was a keeper. The other two flanking him had drank from the same kool-aide. Hell, Bible Man probably brewed and dispensed it for the community. I grinned at him. Much to my delight he grinned back. I call it a grin. The reality was we had just shown each other our teeth in a socially acceptable kind of way. The two guys with him, and every man I had seen so far had a beard if they could grow one. You saw a lot of beards nowadays. Ricky had one. Loco tried to have one but he was not from the first class beard growing limb of the old genetic tree. Me? I shaved. I wasn't good at it but I would rather scrape and cut myself than have a beard. Plus Night didn't like them. So I told her I shaved for her and reaped the benefits whenever I could which sure as hell wasn't much lately.
Bible Man focused me by starting the conversational ball rolling "What do you want?" It was spoken in a half confrontational, half curious tone. I could understand that. I replied with "So you guys Amish?"
"No." He seemed insulted that I asked him that. "Amish don't carry guns." was his reply. I thought about it for a few beats and said "Oh, I guess that is why we haven't see any." He didn't like how the conversation was proceeding, I saw that plain as day on his face, probably because it wasn't going the way he had planned. He tried again. "Why are you here?"
"Because it is on the road we are following." I kept a stone face when I answered him. I was starting to enjoy this and I decided to see how long I could continue. Plus it sounded mystical I thought. A guy like Bible Man should be ale to appreciate that.
The guy on his right decided to jump in. He said "Brother Thomas means what do you want from us?" Brother Thomas looked at him and snarled at him "I will ask the questions here Elder Bob." As he did I saw a bit more of Bro Tom appear and I decided I didn't like him. Not that I wasn't already prejudiced against the entire Crackin Christy subset of American Christianity. Brother Tom decided to try another tack "So...join us inside, we can provide clean cold water for you to drink, and we can talk." He went for a warm smile. I smiled back and said "Why thank you Bro."
We headed for the two story building that the watchman had his post on. Brother Tom and I fell into step together and everyone trailed along after us. Behind me I could hear Elder Bob trying to chat Loco up and failing miserably. Especially after Elder Bob told him "We have beans we can trade. I know you people love them." Brother Tom heard it too and said "You don't look like traders. Outside of beans we don't have much to trade." I could tell by the way he emphasized "don't have much" that he was planning on kicking Elder Bob's ass when he got him alone.
"No, we are not traders. Rather we are an advance party for people who might be interested in trading with you." I told him as we came to the double doors that lead inside the building. It looked like it had been a post office at one time. The wall was cracked in places from the impact of multiple rounds and the glass in the doors had been replaced by plywood with strips of metal to reinforce it. "Brother Tom saw me taking it in and said "Yes. We had our share of troubles. Tell me more about this group that you say is following you."