You didn't have to be to psychic to know that Brigadier General Dean Hopgood was impressed by Bill Django's ability to make an army issue uniform look comfortable. He wore his jacket and boots like a second skin, he might have been in pajamas, or barefoot in jeans; both were easy to imagine. He was not exactly what had been expected when Hopgood had agreed to meet with him and discuss the New Earth Army Manual. He'd developed a growing interest in what this Django fellow had to say to him, had to present to the army, but he had come fully expecting a disappointment. That bright, summer afternoon, staring at the silky braid hanging over his shoulder and at the dramatic symbol painted between his eyes; the faint stirrings of excitement began again in Hopgood's stomach.
Django's shoulders were squared and his back was straight, he was unquestionably a military issue man; and yet his palms were open at his sides. Hopgood had read somewhere that this was sign of friendliness and relaxation, of figurative openness as well as literal. His mouth was not painted in a smile, but rather the tilt of his mouth seemed to be a permanent feature on his face. He found that he could not imagine the other man without the pleasant look about him. His eyes were relaxed and soft, and he rocked lightly back and forth on his toes as if dancing to some melody in his head. It made the general feel relaxed and at ease immediately, and he returned the slight smile with a toothy grin.
Hopgood's hand came out and stretched before him, testing the waters. "General Dean Hopgood," he offered, feeling this was appropriate for the casual business feeling the situation had thus inspired.
Django did not immediately take his hand, but if this put the general off he tried not to show it. Instead, Bill brought his hands to rest on the other man's shoulders, his eyes were laughing hysterically at some private joke. 'Did I already do something foolish? Should I have saluted?' he wondered vaguely, and then words were spoken. "Peace be with you, Dean." It didn't come across like some hippy statement. That would have effectively ended the meeting right there, despite his interest, Hopgood knew he didn't have time for the New Age radicals that were still popping up every now and then. In fact, if someone had suggested this might be how the meeting would start out, he might have dismissed the entire thing as a joke. Now, coming from the person in front of him, it sounded wavery and spiritual. Hearing the words was like being blessed by a priest in some way.
"And-" he struggled to think of something equally wise and sage-like to say, "-and, to you, too, friend." He settled on that at last, already chiding himself for trying to seem smarter than he was. "You've got a spell book that you want to show me, right?"
Django's smile grew broader, if that was at all possible, it was not sarcastic or offended, but somehow an extension of good will. He was a shaman all right, Hopgood decided that nothing else needed to be said, it was obvious that this man knew exactly what he was talking about. He was an extension of some other worldy being, perhaps of Mother Nature herself. "Not a spell book, it's just a guide."
"I'm sorry, Colonel Django, but a guide to what?"
Django's hands tightened amiably on the other man's shoulders, and he realized that they had been lingering there for an unnatural amount of time and drew them away cautiously. "To the human mind, to nature, and to the connection between the two," he seemed to consider his surroundings for a second, then added, "call me Bill, anyway."
Hopgood gestured with the sweep of one hand, an invitation. "I'm eager to hear more, Colonel- Bill, that is."
It was the start of a friendship that would inevitably do more harm then good, and as they sat together and talked of incredible possibilities, both men surely felt the hand of fate gently guiding them along, laughing all the while.