The cop was on the smallish side of average with short, dark hair and a thick, black mustache. He was wearing a skintight, short-sleeve, light-blue, button-front shirt with a silver badge on the chest and navy blue, skintight, polyester uniform pants. There was a raven perched on his shoulder peering up at me.
"Who the hell told you how to get here?" he demanded.
"N-no one told me," I stammered nervously. I'd never been greeted like this before. Who the hell was this guy?
"Hmmm...," he said, taking a step back and bending to look directly into Amy's face. She still had her eyes closed. "You can open your eyes, little girl," he said. She opened her eyes and was startled to see this strange policeman staring at her. She started to step backwards.
"No!" I yelled loudly, pulling her arm a bit too roughly to keep her from moving back at all. She stumbled forward a bit and almost collided with the cop, but he snapped up and thrust his hands onto her shoulders to catch her. In the commotion the raven cawed loudly and leapt into the air, flying to light on the roof ridge of a nearby house and calm its ruffled nerves.
"Careful there, breather. You'll have her arm out," said the cop, bending to look her in the face again, his hands still on her shoulders. "Are you okay, miss?" he asked, smiling a huge, toothy grin under his mustache. "Let's move a little further in to talk," he said, slipping his arm around her shoulder and leading her a few steps away from the edge of town. She held tightly to my hand, so I followed them.
"Hey, I'm sorry," I said to her, squeezing her hand. "If you had stepped back any farther I would have lost you." She just looked over at me with a blank, bewildered look.
The cop led us into the light of the nearest lamppost and then slipped his hand off of Amy's shoulder and snapped around to peer at us again. "All right now, you two, why the hell are you here?" His accent was hard to place, but there was something very familiar about him. His movements were a little exaggerated, almost flamboyant. His nose and toothy overbite stuck out in a way that I was sure I had seen before.
"Do I know you? Have we met?" I asked.
He leaned in and peered at my face. "No, I don't believe we've met," he said.
"Well where's the sheriff?" I asked?
"I am the sheriff," he replied, with a strong emphasis on the word "I".
"What happened to Sheriff Wayne?" I asked.
The question surprised the odd sheriff, and he put a hand to his chin like The Thinker and considered me for a long pause. "Who are you?" he asked, finally.
"My name is Simon," I replied, "Simon Sayer." I held out a hand to shake, but he just glanced down at it and back up again.
"Well, I've never heard of you, Simon Sayer, but you've obviously been here before. What brings you here now?"
"Just business," I replied drawing my hand back and putting it into the pocket of my jacket. "Where's Sheriff Wayne?"
"What sort of business?"
"You didn't answer my question," I observed.
"We have that in common, it seems." He smiled.
"Am I required to tell you my business, Sheriff?" I asked, trying to sound as friendly as possible. "I've never observed that requirement here before. Have things changed so much here?"
His smile faded a little, and I could see a little tension pass from him as he arrived a decision. "No, of course," he sighed. "Your business is your business, as long as you don't cause any trouble." He took a pen and small notepad from his front pocket. "Simon Sayer, you said?" he asked, making a note of some sort.
"And your name, my dear," he smiled at Amy.
"Amy," she replied.
He made a quick note and, with a flourish, snapped the notepad closed and thrust it and the pen into his shirt pocket. "Well, Amy Montagne," he said, sweeping his arms wide in the dramatic gesture of a sales model, "welcome to Aphter. I am called Sheriff Mercury, but you can call me Freddie."