Joshua Tree tortoise: The Revelation of the drug seeking reptile

It returned, this drug seeking but not addicted tortoise, just when I was sure I’d never see it again.

I know it could sound strange, but somehow I missed my little buddy with its fancy questions. I dig its style, and I know it digs my style. Besides, hiding in the desert, alone and lonely, abandoned by so called friends, I could appreciate a clever conversation with a reptile. Somehow I felt I could trust this creature.

‘So, you’ve ever been in love?’ the tortoise asked without greeting.

No, please, not that, not about her! I almost spoke these words aloud, but at the very last moment I managed to control my emotions. Nevertheless, how on Earth does it know? What the hell gave me away? Is it possible this reptile was a mean little snitch, sent to me wearing a wire?

The tortoise could have been wearing a wire

The tortoise could have been wearing a wire

‘Why?’ I asked, while checking my gun, just to be prepared. In a situation like I got myself into, I couldn’t afford the luxury of being unprepared.

The tortoise gave me one of its gazes, intense but also warm. In my former life I’d even call it ‘friendly’, but after all that had happened, I don’t believe in friendship anymore. I believe in God. And I believe she loves me. If those thugs didn’t eat her alive just yet.

‘Can I trust you?’ the tortoise asked, while staring at me with its black and yellow eyes.

‘Can I trust you?’ I replied, and at that moment, I just knew I’d scored another great point. I congratulated myself on that. But stay sharp, don’t lose your edge, no matter how smart you are.

‘I’m getting married,’ the tortoise said after digesting my little victory.

‘Well then, congrats I guess,’ saying that, I did my best not to think about her, kidnapped and maybe even… Stop, just stop right there! You’ll rescue her, even if you have to descend into hell and kill Satan with your bare hands!’

‘Congrats accepted,’ the tortoise replied with pride.

‘How did you two meet each other?’

The tortoise sighed.

‘I used to be a high-roller, you know, a casino whale like they say. I saw her in this damned Bellagio.’

‘Bellagio like in Oceans 11, 12 and 13?’ I asked the tortoise, to be certain I got it right.

‘Precisely. She’s an exotic dancer and a virgin. They forced her into marriage by torture. She’s had a child since then, a baby girl.’

‘And still a virgin? Then that must be the second case in human history. Not the same, but quite similar. Pretty unique.’

They kept the virgin at the Bellagio

They kept the virgin at the Bellagio

‘What do you mean?’ asked the tortoise, but I was too eager to learn his story.

‘Go on,’ I said, ‘never mind.’

‘Now she just can’t take it anymore. I have to rescue her,’ the tortoise said, spitting in the sand.
How strange. Here we are, me and this desert reptile, longing to rescue our respective beloveds! What bitter irony.

It stretched out a paw to me.

‘Here is her photo. She’s much better looking in real.’

I knew this filthy place, it was indeed the Bellagio. And this woman at a dance pole was pretty nice, by all standards.


Maybe it was the sun, maybe I was hallucinating: she looks just like my girl! Not that I think this exotic virgin actually is my girl, my love and my life, but the similarity is striking! It’s as if this woman with plenty of dollars tucked into her panties is her older sister… Or rather her…

It felt like lightning struck me right in the head. I could not speak, I could not breathe.

‘When did she give birth to her baby girl?’

‘Who?’ asked the tortoise.

Maybe the reptile was not that smart after all.

‘Your virgin-love. Which year?’

Shuddering with unbearable hope and fear, I waited for the desert tortoises’ answer, which would determine everything. At least for me.


Aleksandr Skorobogatov: press and reviews on the books

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