Mrs. Rudleigh came and Skelton put her in the forward chair. Rudleigh followed in squeaking bright deck shoes and sat aft, swiveling about in the chair with an executive's preoccupation.
"Captain," Rudleigh began. Men like Rudleigh believed in giving credit to the qualified. If an 8-year-old were running the skiff, Rudleigh would call him "Captain" without irony; it was a credit to his class. "Captain, are we going to bonefish?" Mrs. Rudleigh was putting zinc oxide on her thin nose and on the actual edges of her precise cheekbones. She was a thin pretty woman of 40 who you could see had a proclivity for hysterics, slow burns and slapping.
"We have a good tide for bonefish."
"Well, Missus Rudleigh and I have had a good deal of bonefishing in Yucat�n and we were wondering if it mightn't be an awfully long shot to fish for permit...."
Skelton knew it was being put to him; finding permit—big pompano—was a guide's hallmark. He didn't particularly have a permit tide. "I can find permit," he said though, finishing a sequence Rudleigh started with the word "Captain."
Faron Carter strolled up. He knew the Rudleighs, had guided them himself, and they greeted each other. "You're in good hands," he said to them, tilting his head toward Skelton. "Boy's a regular fish hawk." He returned his head to the perpendicular.
"Where are your people, Cart?" Skelton asked to change the subject.
"They been partying, I guess. Man said he'd be late. Shortens my day."
Skelton choked the engine and started it. He let it idle for a few minutes and then freed up his lines. The canal leading away from the dock wandered around lazily, a lead-green gloss like pavement.
"Ought to find some bonefish in the Snipes on this incoming water," Carter said. Skelton looked at him a moment.