“How many suits do you own?” Jeff asked him.
“What?” Chris moved farther away from the tracks, beyond the rocks.
“You heard me, man.”
“Yeah, I heard you. It’s a stupid question—apropos of nothing, I’d say.”
“I just wanted to know.”
“Well, Jeff, Buddy, I’ll play. I have one suit.”
“Yeah, just one. Why do you question me? Either you think I’m mistaken, or I’m lying, right? Hey, pass me that canteen.” Chris took a long pull. The ice had melted, but the well water still tasted good.
“What I’m getting at is that we’re both one-suit guys. That’s what we have in common.”
“And here I thought it was that we both liked tall, quiet, dark-haired women.” Chris pointed to an abutment under the trestle up ahead. “Let’s sit over there in the shade a while.”
After they’d sat for five minutes, drinking water and dipping snuff, Jeff returned to his preoccupation. “What I mean is that one-suit guys wear them to weddings and funerals—that’s it. Have you ever had more than one suit?”
“Yeah,” Chris said, “I had five suits once.”
“Jeez, five? At the same time? What was that all about?”
“Way back, when I was young, I thought I might be somebody someday—like I’d have a real job, even a career. But that didn’t work out and I ended up being a one-suit guy, just like you.”
“What happened to all those suits?”
“I wore three of them out and the moths ate the other two.”
“So your suit is new.”
“No, I just save it for special occasions.”
Jeff spat the snuff and looked straight ahead, not at Chris. “So how do you feel about being a one-suit guy? I have to admit it’s worked out okay for me.”
Chris sat silently for a couple of minutes as if he hadn’t heard the question. Finally, he spoke. “It sure as hell beats not having any suit at all.”
Jeff looked at him, shaking his head. “You know something?”
“You’re a major piece of work.”