A Nose for Danger, part 1

Chapter 1

“Elephant walks into a bar.”

“Yeah, I know.” I downed my whiskey in one gulp and turned to face the ferret. “It’s a joke to you. But you haven’t seen the things I’ve seen. Sometimes I think,” I held up the shot glass appraisingly, “that Mr. Jack Daniels here is my only friend.”

“You got lots of friends,” the ferret said, looking around nervously. “But I don’t think you’ll find many of them here. This ain’t friendly territory.”

“That’s the way I like it,” I shrugged. “Keeps me on my toes. Don’t want to start getting lazy. Sam, hit me up with another double.”

“Hey, I know you’re the Smellephant and all, but aren’t you going a little fast with the rotgut tonight? Thought you were on a case.”

“Damn right I’m on a case. Otherwise why would I be hanging out with a ferret? No offense.”

“None taken.”

I looked appraisingly at the golden elixar before downing it. “Whisky helps me think. Anyway, there’s nowhere near enough JD in this bar to get me as drunk as I’d like.”

The ferret looked at me sorrowfully. He knew better than to mention the reason I’d want to get stinko. Or even to say her name in my presence. When somebody does that, what happens next is not pretty.

I tossed the drink back, knowing it wouldn’t do any good. It never does. “Well my friend, what’ve you got for me?”

The ferret looked around one more time, his eyes darting about in the darkness. He needn’t have bothered. I chose this bar for a reason. “Word on the street is,” he said, “the Tortoise is coming back.”

“How the hell would you know a thing like that? Tommy never tips his hand.”

“Cause a hare was found this morning. Iced.”

I shrugged. “You know how many hares there are in this town? No wonder, the way they multiply.”

“This wasn’t just a rabbit. This was Whiskers.”

“You’re kidding me. So the Tortoise finally caught up with the Hare. Damn. At this rate he’s going to control all the lettuce on the south side.”

“That’s kinda what I figured. You need anything else, boss?”

“Nah,” I said, paying him off. “You can go now. Me and Mr. Daniels here need to think this through.” I signaled again to the bartender.

When I was done, a few drinks later, I paid my tab and slipped out unnoticed. To anyone on the street I would look like an ordinary Joe — just another elephant wearing a fedora and a trench coat. But just to be safe I took the back alleys. I needed to be damned sure I wouldn’t be followed.

Not tonight anyway. I finally had a lead and I was going to make the most of it. That’s my job — just ask any little kid in this town: The Smellephant follows his nose.

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