Bearclaw makes a call and Mender gets into hot water...
Part Ten – Old Friends and New Enemies
He lost the tail, a pretty easy thing to do considering who it was. It was Angrif’s leg breaker, the one from the passenger seat, and Bearclaw escaped him with just a few twists and dodging on-coming traffic while crossing a busy street twice. After leaving the mansion he had the pair of Angrif’s crew drop him off at the corner of a street far away from Cam’s hopefully leaving the street preacher out of whatever it was he was in the middle of now. As the black sedan rolled away in one direction Bearclaw went the other heading east into town…two minutes later he looked over his shoulder to see the new shadow just behind in the crowd. Now, free of his shadow, Bearclaw needed to make a call. He stopped on the main boulevard in town, the one where the actors for the studios got their names engraved into large gold stars that were placed into the sidewalk every few steps. You could walk all along the strip and see them, some day Leetah would have her name on one of those gold stars Bearclaw thought spotting a pay phone. It was a status thing, something to throw around at dull parties, and something Leetah could care less about he thought walking over to the phone.
When he stopped by the phone and reached for a pocket that wasn’t there was when Bearclaw remembered he wasn’t wearing his old chinos. Cam had given him a pair of sweats to wear when he was brought in from the jail, a pair of sweats with no pockets and thus no change. He grumbled a bit at not having a damn dime to call his friend while looking around on the ground and phone for anything. All he got were cigarette butts, old dried gum, and few promising phone numbers for girls who go all the way on a first date. Bearclaw gave the phone stand a small kick and a curse knowing full well it didn’t help, but it sure felt good. He turned to look down the street wondering if he might be able to borrow the phone in some establishment, maybe do a little begging, but he didn’t see anything promising.
“Well…you’re a sight for sore eyes.”
The voice, its silky and husky vibrations, was like being thrown back into the past. Bearclaw knew who it was before he turned to see Khavi standing just a few steps away. The crowd parted to pass around her like she was nothing but a pole in the way, but Bearclaw knew everyone one of them took note of her. She was still drop-dead gorgeous tucked into a pair slacks and blouse that showed of her best ‘assets’. It may have been out of place to see a lady wearing slacks, but it would have been even more out of place for Khavi to be strutting around in a dress. One human took notice of her ‘walk’ as she ambled over to him, her dark hair primped high matching the latest style the ladies wore these days. She was dressed to the nines, ready to dine on your dime if you gave her the chance, and show you enough ‘fun’ it just might kill you.
“What’s a matter Bearclaw, cat got your tongue?” Kahvi smiled in that way that made you wonder just what the hell she was thinking.
“Nah,” he replied smiling back with his usual crooked grin, “I was just wondering what brings you back to town.”
“I finished looking around, came back for some fun, and look who I run into.”
That was Kahvi, never one to stay in one place too long. Even when they were all on the Palace, all the elves looking for a home, she didn’t seem to care. Whatever struck her mood, whatever grabbed her eye in that moment that was what Kahvi wanted to do, and you had better let her do it. When they landed back on Two-Moons and the High Ones, or the Elders now, decreed they would build the compound and live away from the humans Kahvi led the dissension against the decision. She wasn’t about to live in a mansion stuck behind closed doors sealed off from the world again like she was all those years they were in the Palace before coming back. No sir, she was going to see what this new Abode was all about. It took Hayken and his crew about ten minutes less time to outcast her then it did him.
“So that’s why I have this sudden need to lock up my wallet…and my cub.”
“Now you know I’m all done with Cutter…you on the other hand…” Kahvi purred so seductively Bearclaw felt it, like leaning up against a car motor.
“I’m not that fun to be around right now sweetheart, more like a weight.” He answered giving her the gentle, but definite brush off.
Kahvi leaned in a little closer and Bearclaw felt her breath on his neck. “Maybe later then, when the weight’s off and you feel up to it.”
Then something was being pressed into his hand as she kissed him dead on the lips. She was wearing a strong perfume, a scent that left him a little woozy as Bearclaw kept perfectly still letting Kahvi run to wherever she was going. He didn’t stop as she finished the kiss, his lips sticking to hers for just a brief moment before leaning away with that smile. For a second, just a blink, he could see Two-Spear standing there, and he knew why he never felt safe around the wild elf. Bearclaw watched her turn and walk down the street drawing the eyes of everyone and he knew she was enjoying every step. He looked down into his hand to see what Kahvi put there and just shook his head. A shiny dime twinkled back as he whispered.
“Too much like your father cub…so much it’s spooky…aw damn!”
Bearclaw turned around to the pay phone clutching the dime and trying to get the smell of Kahvi’s perfume out of his head. It might have taken awhile to get that sweet smell out of his nostrils, but after he saw the man standing at the phone now using it, well it didn’t take long for the scent to up and disappear. Maybe it was the look in his eyes, or the way he was standing with clenched fists, or just the growling that upset the human because he took one look at Bearclaw and hung up on the poor person he was talking too. As he beat it out of the general area the old wolf slipped the dime into the phone and told the operator with the nasally voice what number he wanted. The phone went silent then started ringing and after three squeals someone picked up.
“This is Joe. It’s your dime so speak up.”
A smile crossed the old wolf’s face as he felt the anger at not having a dime and then some twit using the phone fade away. “Hey Joe, how much would it cost for you to stand in my corner one more time?”
The phone was silent for a moment and Bearclaw could almost picture the face of the human on the other end, the smile growing there. “A hell-of-a-lot more then you can afford you hump!” The voice responded making Bearclaw laugh a little.
That was Joe or Joseph if you had the spine to call him that. He was the best damn cut man in the city. Every fight, every legitimate one, Bearclaw had him there just in case some lucky punch opened up a cut. Joe’s fingers could work magic with a needle and some thread, stitches so close and small there was a guarantee of no scar, hands almost as good as a real doctor. What few knew though were those hands also did the best safe cracking of anyone in the city. There wasn’t a lock Joe couldn’t pick, a tumbler on a combination wheel he didn’t feel fall, and no safety deposit box strong enough to put your valuables in. Joe was the last of the gentlemen bandits, never hurt anyone in any of his capers and never robbed someone who didn’t deserve it, which is why Bearclaw trusted him with his life.
“Damn straight on that one, listen…I need the box.”
The phone was silent again and Bearclaw could picture that smile turning into a thin line. “Why do you want the box? You looking to dig up the past or something Bear?”
“No, I’d leave the past right where it is if I had a choice…you know that.”
“Yeah…so whose asking about Two-Spear?”
Joe was pretty damn quick too, smarter than he looked. “Someone high up, rather leave his name out of this for your sake.”
“Must be someone pretty big to make you run for the box,” Joe countered.
“I’m more worried about what he was asking than what he can do. Can you meet me at the same spot downtown?”
The phone went silent one last time and Bearclaw wasn’t sure why but he had a good guess. “Down by Trolltown?”
“Yeah, on 5th, we’ll be safe.”
“The Trolls own 5th now Bear…” Joe replied dead panned.
“They do?” Bearclaw asked in shock.
“Yeah, and 6th and 7th too. The big green machine has a new motto…expand or die trying.”
“Good motto.” Bearclaw whistled looking around wondering who was running the show down in Trolltown these days, must be a mean SOB to take on the humans.
“I’ll meet you at the old spot at 4 with the box. I leave before it gets dark, understand? My mother didn’t raise a fool.” Joe offered.
Bearclaw laughed again. “I got you, see you there Joe.”
“See you Bear.”
He started to hang up the phone when suddenly the old wolf was speaking. “Hey Joe?”
“Yeah Bear,” the old cut man responded after a moment of silence.
“Same old Bearclaw,” Joe laughed hanging up the phone.
With the phone dead Bearclaw smiled a little larger and hung up receiver. He turned and started walking down the street with the crowd whistling a little tune. He’d get the letter and get rid of it before the Djun’s got their hands on it.
Two-Spear was no hero…and he wasn’t about to let someone make him into one.
“Is the daughter of the leader of the elves chicken?”
Ember’s eyes closed to slits as her brow furrowed with anger…or at least that’s what she wanted everyone at the table to think. “Always waiting for someone else to do the dirty work…guess you don’t want to mess up your hair.”
Teir and Dart laughed as did Mender once he knew his mate wasn’t upset. The group sat at a table at Korilla’s for lunch getting one of her famous burgers and fries. No one was sure why her food seemed to taste so much better than the other diners in town. The main dishes were even better than some of the spiffy restaurants that the ‘Rich and Famous’ visited. Some people said she used an ancient kind of Elvin magic to make the food taste better, a bitter rumor started by some of the chefs and owners of those spiffy restaurants Ember thought. She knew better this former chieftess, knew the real magic behind Korilla’s food was simply love. The Wavedancer lived to feed others, she did it for her tribe back at Crest Point, and she was doing it now for the city. The kitchen was Korilla’s home and her food her love to everyone.
“I’m a healer little Ember, fighting is below me.” Mender shot back mockingly acting like a certain elder that all knew.
“You know if Hayken ever catches you doing that he’s going to have you cast out.” Teir stated pointing his finger.
Mender though just waved him off. “Bah, I’m as much afraid of Hayken as I am of those Trolls.” The golden haired healer responded with a nod toward the counter.
There, standing by the cash register waiting for a box filled with sacks and sacks of food, was an old ‘friend’ of the elves…and yet so very different. This Troll was slimmer and taller and all around meaner looking than the ones who were left behind. He stood six foot two or three, chest muscles that his dark coat and black shirt could never hide rippled as he breathed, and rings sporting large gems of all colors sat on fingers that looked big enough to wrap around a human’s or elf’s head easily. His chino’s were handmade to fit around legs that could have passed as tree trunks and his feet were covered in patent leather wingtips that looked grotesquely large. Gone was the grey tint to the Troll’s skin too, a more greenish hue now that he probably didn’t venture underground to dig daily in a mine.
“The days of Picknose and his group are long gone Mender and the sooner you realize that the better.” Dart whispered watching the Troll carefully.
It was no secret the healer held little love for the Trolls and he had no problem stating it either, even using a nickname. “Don’t tell me you scared of the greenies too?”
“No, I’m not scared of these Trolls…I just respect them.” Dart answered putting a fry in his mouth.
“All right, I’ll give you the Trolls we left behind can’t be compared to Picknose and his group, but a troll is a troll is a troll, be it green or grey.”
When the elves took to the Palace and left the word of Two-Moons in search of ‘Home’ so long ago they had taken Picknose and some of his Trolls with them, but there were just as many who decide to stay on the Abode. They didn’t want to ride in the Palace again, ever. Once free of a life of serving the elves these Trolls had no intention of going back to one, ever. All the elves, from Timmain to Leetah to Kahvi to Skywise, thought they would never see them again but after the Palace landed for the last time, after the elves were greeted by just the humans, that’s when these Trolls came to visit…to stake their claim to this world. Timmain didn’t recognize a single one, Cutter felt a tinge of fear at the sight of them, and the others were ordered to give them distance. The years away had changed these Trolls, forced them to grow and adapt to a new world above ground, and given them a will no one knew existed.
“You can’t truss up this Troll Mender like you did old Picky. I don’t even think you would have a chance.” Teir said shaking his head.
“Bah, you pay for lunch while I see how tough these Trolls are!” Mender smiled jumping out of the booth and running for the door.
“Wait you idiot!” Ember yelped following her mate for the door trying to catch.
The Troll paid for the large box of food, put it under one arm, and started for the door. He passed Dart and Teir, both elves stepping to the side to let him pass, and as he did he shot them both a look with steel grey eyes that said they made the right choice. As Dart scrambled to get the money for lunch out of his pocket Teir walked to the door and watched the Troll approach a large black car.
“What’s going on?” Dart asked nervously.
“I don’t see Mender or Ember.” Teir answered.
As he watched and Dart paid the Troll opened the door to t he large black car and leaned in putting the box with the sacks of food inside. Teir should have seen it coming and not been shocked at what Mender was doing. The elf had a rash side which when around Ember seemed to just get bigger and bigger. He saw Mender walk up, yell something that he couldn’t make out, and hit the car with his hand. When the Troll stood back up that look on his face, the one Teir had stepped aside for looked worse. The Troll didn’t say a word, just stared at the crazy elf who hit the car again while yelling.
“Hurry up Dart!” Teir called.
Suddenly Ember appeared, the voice of responsibility for a change, grabbing Mender and trying to pull him back. It might have worked as the Troll didn’t move and the healer started to walk backwards. Teir breathed a small sigh of relief, but then the trap slammed shut. A second Troll came from somewhere, maybe the coffee shop down the street, and stuck a large pistol in Ember’s back forcing her back toward the car. That sighs of relief hung in Teir’s throat as he turned and tried to call for Dart, who had just finished paying the tab.
“They’re in trouble!”
Before Dart had a chance to finish paying…
Before Teir could turn and run out the door…
Ember and Mender and the Trolls were gone in a loud screech of loud tires.