When I left Sam, he was still poring over a stack of birth records and old papers. He told me it would take a while to sort out, and that was fine with me. I had an appointment to keep, one that might just get me some answers. Or might get me killed. You never know.
Turtle Town isn’t the friendliest place, at least not when you’re an elephant with a nose for danger. As I walked down its narrow twisting streets, I could feel all eyes on me. For the first time since I’d handed over my gun, I missed the feel of it in my pocket. These streets held unwanted memories, and with every step those memories were coming back. I turned up the collar of my trench coat. It was a cold night, and I had a feeling it was about to get colder.
When I finally got to the old Tortoise Shell, I tried to slip in quietly, but that wasn’t going to happen. The moment I stepped through the door, all conversation stopped dead. The bartender took one look at me and silently gestured to a booth in the back. The feeling in the room when I made my way through the bar was definitely not hugs and kisses. But I figured I was safe. If Tommy had wanted me dead, I wouldn’t have gotten this far.
“Smellephant!” Tommy’s rich accented voice rang out, and as I slipped into the booth, I could hear conversation gradually resume. If Tommy wanted me there, nobody was going to argue. Nobody ever argued with Tommy.
“It’s been a while,” I said quietly.
His face broke out into a broad grin. “Too long my friend. I am old Russian tortoise, ok so I know, I am keeping all day in the shell and I hide.”
He gestured to the samovar on the table between us. I’m not much of a tea drinker, but this wasn’t the time to argue. “I’m listening.”
“So what tortoise thinking all day in that shell? I’m thinking, I tell you, I’m liking this Smellephant. I got news, I should share with my old friend, yes?”
I took a sip of tea, wishing it was Jack Daniels. “Yes,” I said. Maybe I was about to get some answers.