“You’re too early,” said the owner. “No one drinks until eleven.”
The oiler pointed to William, leaning over a dram of rye whiskey.
“What about him? He has a drink in his hand.”
“He’s a special case. Mind your own business. No booze ‘til eleven.”
“I’ve never met a special case before,” the oiler said to William. “What makes you so special?”
The oiler smelled of stale sweat and grease. His trousers and shirt were filthy with weeks’ worth of spilled oil. A tattoo peeking from beneath one rolled-up shirt cuff caught William’s attention. “Show me that.”
He gestured at the tattoo with his glass, sloshing rye onto the table.
“You’re wasting good whiskey,” the oiler said, dragging back a chair. “May I?”
William nodded and tapped the cuff of the oiler’s shirt. “Show me that.”