At this point, it’s been roughly two weeks since Sportcoat shot Deems. It is a Wednesday, and Sportcoat is spending his time with Mrs. Elefante, helping her with her garden and gathering herbs. Together, they go to an empty lot in search of pokeweed that Mrs. Elefante insists will help her heart. Eventually, they accomplish their goal and Sportcoat takes Mrs. Elefante home.
Although a lot happens in the novel, it all takes place over the course of a few weeks. Here, Sportcoat is doing what he does best—helping out a member of his community with her plants. It is in these moments that Sportcoat is at his most endearing—and shows the most potential for redemption.
When they return, Mrs. Elefante is weary and needs to lie down, so she leaves Sportcoat with instructions for the rest of what she needs done. Sportcoat finishes up his work. As he’s getting ready to leave, he spots Elefante, whom he doesn’t know. Sportcoat explains his presence to Elefante, and then Elefante introduces himself to Sportcoat. At first, Sportcoat is taken aback. Although he didn’t recognize Elefante, his reputation precedes him, and Sportcoat is amazed, albeit nervous, to be in the presence of a genuine mobster. He looks forward to sharing the story when he returns home.
This is the first meeting between the novel’s two main characters, which occurs in a flashback. Elefante and Sportcoat come from two different worlds; Sportcoat is the neighborhood alcoholic, while Elefante is a major player in the city’s criminal underworld. Nevertheless, the two of them have one important thing in common, even though they haven’t figured out what it is yet.
To thank Sportcoat for helping his mother, Elefante attempts to give Sportcoat money for his work. However, Sportcoat rejects it. He tells Elefante that his mother already paid him enough and that he already feels thankful that Elefante returned Hettie’s body to him. Elefante gives up his attempt to pay Sportcoat and the old deacon turns to leave. As a way of saying goodbye, Sportcoat says, “I hope God holds you in the palm of His hand,” which catches Elefante’s attention. He asks Sportcoat for the origin of the saying and questions him about his role as a deacon at Five Ends Church.
This passage presents both Sportcoat and Elefante at their best. Both men do their best to express gratitude for each other. Ultimately, though, it is Sportcoat that does Elefante the bigger favor by mentioning the motto of the Five Ends Church. The motto is the same phrase that Elefante’s father used in a letter to the Governor regarding the Venus.
Sportcoat tells him that the saying is painted across the top of the mural at the church, and it is something that the members of the congregation often say. At first, Sportcoat is excited to tell Elefante about the church because he thinks he is interested in it for spiritual reasons. However, he becomes more skeptical as their conversation drags on. Nonetheless, the two men depart on good terms. Sportcoat feels he has a story to tell, and Elefante thinks he might be one step closer to solving the mystery of the missing Venus.
This is a semi-comical passage that finds Sportcoat completely oblivious to what Elefante is actually after. Although Elefante has yet to discover what the connection is, he now knows that the Five Ends Church has something to do with the location of the missing Venus.