Q: Do you mean to say that between good and evil, there is no wall?
S: There is no wall because there is no good and evil.
In every concrete situation, there is only the necessary and the unnecessary.
The needful is right, the needless is wrong.
Q: Who decides?
S: The situation decides.
Every situation is a challenge which demands the right response.
When the response is right, the challenge is met and the problem ceases.
If the response is wrong, the challenge is not met and the problem remains unresolved.
Your unsolved problems, that is what constitutes your karma.
Solve them rightly and be free.
Nisargadatta, I Am That
We’re on Bank Street, it’s twilight on a Sunday, no one is around. A van pulls up next to us. Two men get out.
I glance at Nikko, she moves in front of Janah, I step in front of Nikko, facing the two men. They look military, no uniform, casual slacks, open collar shirts, sport jackets. I can see the bulge under the first one’s arm, another on the hip of the second. They aren’t reaching for them.
“It’s Tom and Jerry, right?”
I point to the first one, “You’re Tom….the cat. Yes, I see it now, Tom the cat. The other one’s the mouse….Jerry. He looks mousey.”
Tom, “Cute aren’t you?”
“Better than cute Tom, hot. Waaaay too hot for you. The mouse, well, he’s not a factor.”
Tom, “We heard about your smart mouth, and we heard you think you got fighting skill. Me and my friend have dealt with a lot of people who think they have skills. Martial arts class ain’t fighting. Don’t play out of your league honey, you’ll just get hurt.”
I shrug, “No point in playing out of my league.”
They visibly relax, Jerry smiles, “Good, you’re being sensible. We’ve come for the white haired girl. She needs to tell us where Mrs. Frolich is. She cooperates, she won’t be hurt.”
“You’re half right Jerry, she won’t be hurt.”
Tom, “The mouth again. Back off, we need to get moving.”
I brighten up, smile at Tom, “Moving? You like to dance? I like to dance. Two white guys, probably have to keep it simple.”
Nikko, “I’m bored. I want to see you dance.”
Tom looks over at Jerry, shakes his head. Jerry shrugs.
“Follow along boys, we’ll do the hokey pokey. Ready?”
I start singing, “You put your right foot in,” extend my foot, tap my toe, “you take your right foot out,” shift it behind me, “you put your right foot in,” I kick Tom between the legs, “and you shake it all about.”
Tom crumbles to the pavement, gagging. Jerry stupidly staring, trying to process what happened; his partner is hunched over, kneeling on the concrete. He hadn’t seen the kick. His mind can’t process the sequence, girl singing, partner on the ground.
“You do the hokey pokey and your turn yourself around,” hips swaying gently as I circle, edging closer to Jerry, he looks up blankly, I smile, opened my palm to the choking Tom, “That’s what it’s all about.”
Jerry reaches for his weapon.
“You put your left foot in,” I kick him in the chest, he slams hard against the van, “you take your left foot out,” I step back, then forward, “you put your left foot in,” a crescent kick, my heel hard across his jaw, “and you shake it all about.”
Jerry is drooling blood, his jaw sags on one side, a tooth dribbles out. I reach over and pull out the gun, toss it to Nikko.
Tom is still on his knees, his hand moves under his coat. Nikko’s foot flashes, he flips backwards, the gun falls out of his holster and clatters on the pavement. She picks it up and sticks both weapons in her belt. She stares down at him, he doesn’t stare back.
Meanwhile, my hips circle in front of Jerry as I turn slowly, arms up, wrists twisting, singing, “You do the hokey pokey and your turn yourself around,” my straightened fingertips dig deep in his solar plexus, “that’s what it’s all about.”
Jerry folds forward, my elbow whaps his temple. The mouse is unconscious before he kisses the sidewalk.
Janah, “You see those hips? Man, I’m so going to jump her when we get home.”
Nikko, “I’ll help.”
Later, in bed, after Nikko and Janah had devoured my body and dissolved my brain, Janah lies back contentedly on the pillow.
She sings softly, “That’s what it’s all about.”
The hard thing about crime fiction is, if you can think of it,
someone’s already done it, or worse.
I’m sitting with Sis the next morning at the condo, Nikko is brushing Susan’s hair.
Susan, “What brings you out? I usually get to flirt with Nikko alone while we pretend to discuss business.”
“We need to give you guys a heads up. There’s a problem.”
Susan, “I’m listening,” her demeanor changes, she goes left brain.
“Two guys tried to get to Janah last night, on Bank Street, when we were walking home. Obviously, everyone’s okay. Well, we’re okay. The two mugs from the cartoon channel will have to adjust to altered physical realities.”
Susan’s eyes blaze, “Christ on the cross!”
She’s silent for a moment, “I guess we knew this was inevitable. Assholes. C-mom is going to go berserk. I hope you find out who these dickweeds are before she does. There Will Be Blood gonna be more than a movie title. You couldn’t call the cops of course.”
“Too much nosing around, we don’t need the attention. They wanted just Janah; it doesn’t appear that they understand us or they would have tried to get us both. I felt positively rejected. I was forced to take out my self esteem issues on them.”
Susan, “They hospitalized, or…?”
“Not dead. Nikko watched Janah in case there were others. She put the finishing touch on one. Those deliciously elegant legs are dangerous. If Nikko had dealt with them alone……”
Chris rounds the corner from the bedroom, “Who did Nikko kill?”
I retell the story for Chris.
Chris is livid, “Frolich? Who is Mrs. Frolich? Oh, I get it. Janah helped her get out of something, crummy marriage is my guess. Now hubby is handling the rejection badly.”
“That’s the condensed version. The monkeys for hire tried to get to Janah. Convince her to give up the location of the ex-wife. Thing is, she doesn’t know. She told the Frolich woman to go someplace safe, far enough out of town to make calling hotels too much trouble. she got a buy and fly cell phone, the Society could track her through that if she stayed on long enough. Hubby isn’t that sophisticated. If he was, he wouldn’t be trying to snatch Janah.”
Chris fumes, “I’ll kill him, then Nikko can kill him. I was here first, and I’m older. The children have to wait their turn.”
“Essentially, we need to talk him down, and out. Get over his control issues. This wasn’t a Society gig. Janah was being Janah and the Frolich woman unloaded a story of a rich Wall St. husband with bizarre and illegal sexual interests.”
Susan, “How bizarre?”
“He made a ton of money relatively young, trading for a Wall Street outfit. He got booted from his firm when the trading went bad. Unfortunately, he personally didn’t lose anything, prior years of huge bonuses had left him deep in the chips. It's the attraction of Wall St., reap the rewards when your guesses work out, no cost when they don't. If you made twenty or thirty million over a few years, then get fired, do you really get all torn up about it?"
Susan, "Hardly. It always seems like there's another job, they start a hedge fund, find new algorithms to lose money."
"Our guy is apparently just hanging out. Too much time on his hands, too much coke. He was always on the edge sexually, a little S&M, hire high end girls to come over and do him and his wife. He started turning his wife over to young studs so he could watch. Then girls to tie her up, make her service them, just good old free style sex play. She admitted going along at first. Then the girls got younger, dropped beneath the legal cutoff. She started to back off, then they’d get coked up and she would lose it again. When it got to the point that he was watching her take three or four guys in a row, go down on thirteen and fourteen year old girls while they whipped her, she came out of the fog and decided to bail. She told Janah it started out as adult play, an occasional tap with a riding crop or some other mild leather sex. The more coke, the further out the fun got until the fun was over, the mean and creepy came in.”
Chris, “Wow. Some of that is like the stuff I make up for my books. Creepy on two levels. I’m not an idiot, I know worse happens. I know women in that game. I see young girls in clubs, they can’t be eighteen. Hell, they dress up to look like they’re thirteen. Some of the dykes have no conscience about it. They figure if the kid wants it, they’re glad to help break her in. I’ve called the cops when I’ve seen underage in clubs. Problem is, Sis and I go out maybe every couple of months. Who calls cops all the other nights?”
Susan, “Obviously nobody or the girls wouldn’t come around. Most people have no idea how incredibly nasty teenage girls can get. Their moms know, they were nasty teenage girls once. They see themselves in their daughters, and they don’t want their husbands to know, they try and control their kids. It only works marginally well with some of them.”
“One of the girls Janah knows said her mom is pimping her out for five thousand a night. She thinks it's cool. Her mom split the money with her. She said her end just crossed the quarter of a million mark.”
Chris, “No flipping way! Get out. That’s a hundred, what, dates? She’s done this a hundred times?”
“Yeah. Started at twelve, fourteen now. It’s not a hundred guys, four or five regular men or couples. She takes pride in her desirability. Dresses like they want, cutie young adolescent, dress up or slutty teen, Goth, prim and proper and everything in between. She’s learned to inhabit the role and her clients, as she calls them, love it. They take her on skiing vacations, to the Hamptons, even Europe once. They pay big time for travel. Twenty-thousand a day, first class air or private jet, the whole schmear. She said they don’t bat an eye.”
Susan, “What happened to you guys? You, Janah and Nikko weren’t so obsessed with sex or money, or power for that matter.”
“I had Janah and, before that, moms who talked about everything with me. Nikko, I don’t know.”
Nikko, “Not interested, too busy. I was a proper young lady until Daphne came along and turned me into a slut for her body.”
Susan says loftily, “Daphne should be ashamed of herself.”
Then she silently admires Nikko’s long legs crossed tantalizingly alongside her own, lusciously bare in a pair of tiny cotton shorts. Susan rests her hand on Nikko’s smooth thigh, “I’ll make it up to you if you allow me..”
Nikko scoots closer, her hand on Susan’s and whispers in her ear. Susan blushes slightly.
Chris laughs, “Care to share what she said?”
Susan smiles slyly, “Nope.”
“If all the horny lesbrains can come back to earth, we have to get back to the apartment and formulate a strategy to permanently discourage Mr. Frolich.
Chris, “What exactly did Janah do?”
“Gave her a plan to get out of town, hole up and file for a divorce. There’s a prenup, she gets a fair amount of money, five million. He doesn’t want to pay, and, if he gets her back under his control, he’ll make sure she stays drugged up at the least. What she’s scared of is an intentional overdose and he gets to play bereaved husband. Janah’s in touch with her, she’s getting a lawyer, things will be in motion soon enough. He must have been having her followed, saw her with Janah. They tracked her back to either here or the apartment. It wouldn’t take much, it’s not like we hide.”
Chris, “If she was being followed, how did she get away?”
“She wasn’t being followed when she was supposed to be home. She got up in the middle of the night, we met her, got her in a cab. We put her on a train to Philadelphia, took a plane from there to we don’t know where. She hasn’t been bothered.”
Chris, “Good. Then they found you, do they know us?”
“We really don’t know. They had guns. We have them now, and they’re going to be healing for a while. Getting more guns won’t be a problem, it’s America, guns are like grains of sand. Maybe they’ll disappear, but let’s not be dumb. For now, you guys keep a close eye on each other, and K-mom in particular. Lacy and Ning are safe where they are.
Susan, “Go home and get thus guy dealt with. We can wait it out. If the Frolich woman gets the divorce and the money, there’s no point in trying to get Janah to say where she is.”
“Unless he or the bozos wants revenge, we made them look pretty stupid. In any case, we’re going to get in his face one way or another before the sun goes down tomorrow.”
Chris, “You know where he lives of course. Wife give you a key?”
“Actually, yes. Chan’s going in case we need the human wrecking ball to demolish the building.”
Chris, “Who stays with Janah?”
“Me. Nikko’s going to see Frolich with Chan. I couldn’t argue. She wants to play with her little brother.”
Susan looks at Nikko, “If anything happens to you….”
Nikko stares....blank intensity.
Susan, “Geez, never mind. You’ll kill him with your eyes. Chan and Nikko, who’s going to do the talking?”
I laugh, “We kind of expect just having them show up will clear up his thinking.”
Chris, “Either that or a heart attack. Whatever works. If anyone calls in sick, I get to go.”
“We thought about asking you. We don’t know how much the two dopes know about the family. We need you and Sis to take care of each other, K-mom and dad. We also don’t know how far Frolich is willing to go, Tom and Jerry’s feelings got mangled, they aren’t likely to forget.”
Therefore will I also deal in fury:
mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity:
and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice,
yet will I not hear them.
Proverbs 8:18, The Bible, King James Version
Nikko walks into the building lobby wearing an impossibly short skirt and chattering away in broken English to the doorman. Chan floats by like a ghost. He presses the elevator button, when the door opens, Nikko giggles like an idiot schoolgirl and scoots towards the elevator with a heavily accented comment about needing to see honorable aunt for help with ‘Engrish ressons.’ Her hand to her mouth, giggling incessantly, she bends over to pick up her dropped book. The doorman’s mind is overtaken by the slip of while panty and the long, long length of thigh between the bottom of her skirt and the top of her knee socks. His brain melts and drips down into his pants, he doesn’t even acknowledge the next three residents who pass. Then UPS shows up and the whole incident is on pause while he sorts out packages.
Frolich’s lock has been changed, it’s obviously new, and an additional deadbolt, the key useless. Worried his wife would try and get in when he wasn’t around, maybe worried about the girls who beat crap out of his goons.
It isn’t much of an inconvenience, Chan twists the doorknob until it comes off, then pushes the heel of his hand against the deadbolt, shattering the frame. The door flies open and bangs the wall.
On the sofa is a young man, maybe nineteen, smoothly muscled swimmer type, and a girl clearly on the south side of fifteen. Frolich is in front of them with a video camera, the boy is wearing only an erection, the girl on her knees nothing; her head pops up, a wet cock waves under her chin. They both screech and run to the back of the condo. Our target tries to join them. Chan is on him before he takes the second step, picks him up by the neck and throws him on the sofa. Unlike the other two, Frolich is dressed, slacks, a silk shirt, sandals.
Chan stands over him, like a obelisk of solid titanium, Nikko goes to find the other two. Won’t do for them to start making calls. They’d locked the bedroom door, she kicks, it blows open. They’re sitting on the bed, still naked, the guy is holding the young girl protectively. She credits him for that.
He says, in a nervous high pitched voice, “What do you want. We’re just hired help. We don’t live here, we don’t have any money. What do you want? Don’t hurt us. We don’t know anything, we’re just hired help.”
He isn’t quite babbling, getting there. The girl is blank, staring at Nikko with big scared eyes.
Nikko, “Get dressed. You’re going to disappear. You will not be hurt. Keep your mouths shut and no one will know you were here. Get dressed and wait. Do not come out. I’ll get you gone in a few minutes, if you come out to interfere, there’ll be a problem.”
The boy is relieved, “No problems. We get dressed and sit until you tell us to go.”
Nikko doesn’t respond, she doesn’t see a phone, she takes the girl’s purse, there’s a cell in it. She checks the guy’s clothes for a cell, nothing but a wallet. She takes it.
“You get purse and wallet when you leave, get dressed, don’t be stupid…,” she shuts the door and returns to the living room.
Frolich manages attitude, “What do you want? What’s this about? You want money? What? I don’t keep a lot of money here, I’ll give you what I have, I’ll give you my credit cards.”
“You know Tom and Jerry?”
Frolich is bewildered, “Who? Tom and Jerry, who are Tom and Jerry?”
“Cat and mouse. You hire cat and mouse to kidnap girl.”
Nikko accents her English sometimes. It’s intimidating to Caucasians. She speaks better English than he does; he doesn’t know that.
Frolich gives it a shot, “You’re insane, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Nikko breaks his nose with her foot, stands impassively while he bleeds all over his Tommy Bahamas.
Frolich is laid back against his cream colored leather couch, blood dripping down over his lips and chin. Reality creeps in.
“We know real names, both ready to testify. You think you worth long jail time? Not so stupid.”
She tells him their names, and where they are.
Frolich tries to pretty it up, “Okay, fuck, okay. I wanted to buy her off. I wasn’t going to hurt anyone. I wanted to find out where my wife is, that’s all. Just so I could talk things over with her. I wasn’t mad, I just wanted to know where my wife is. I still do. I really love her and I want to work it out.”
He is looking at a girl in a miniscule plaid skirt and knee socks, who returns his plaintive gaze with an expression that not only holds no sympathy, it seems to suck sympathy out of the air. What he sees and what he feels won’t match up in his brain. It’s like watching an optical illusion, one view is youthful innocence, the other, dark emptiness. Just to her left is a living block of granite, motionless. It doesn’t breathe, doesn’t blink.
All he sees next is a flash of panty before a hard heel crushes his testicles. If he hadn’t been on a soft couch, he’d be a girl. He screams.
Nikko waits until his sobs subside, “Try again. You have two ass-licks follow wife, then girl. Want to continue to function? Without nurse to help you on and off toilet? I wonder. Worth, say, five million dollars?”
Frolich, “Bitch didn’t earn five million dollars.”
Nikko raises her knee, Frolich cringes, “Okay, okay, no more, fuck it. Okay, I pay the prenup, you go away.”
“I never go away. You pay, you leave her alone. You leave girl alone. You leave every motherfucker on planet alone. You want to pay for sex, you get adults. Pay all you want. You bring kids, I make you eunuch. You know eunuch? No balls. I feed your balls to pit bull while you watch. Clear?”
Frolich stares at her, “I said I’d pay the cunt.”
Nikko flat hands his ear, pops his eardrum, he screams again, the pain is blinding.
“One ear left. Maybe I fix that one. You leave girl alone, no kids, leave woman alone. For being stupid, you pay five million more. What you like, deaf and dumb, or just dumb?”
Chan picks up a solid ceramic gargoyle off the table, Frolich jerks, “That thing’s worth twenty thousand dollars!”
Chan turns it into powder.
“You give woman ten million, or I give him your hand, then other hand, then feet.”
Frolich eyes widen, he holds his hands close to his chest, he is whimpering, “Yes, yes, okay, Jesus, ten million. I’ll pay her, I’ll pay her, anything. I need to go to the hospital, please. God my head is killing me, please.”
He is crying, completely broken. She goes to the bedroom, the two others are dressed.
Nikko, “Go, evaporate. No trouble unless you get stupid, then police, questions, juvenile detention for you,” she looks at the girl.
Then at the boy, “My friend outside, he will come for you, lots of pain, then you go to jail for sex with minor.”
The boy, “We are so gone, we’re invisible. Thank you. You don’t ever see us again.”
She throws the girl her purse, keeps the cell phone, gives the boy his wallet minus his ID, leaves the money; he has no credit cards. They beat a path to the elevator. There is only grief in it for them to talk. Too many questions about why they were there, underage girl would get tattooed on the boy and Frolich. The girl would get into a juvenile court nightmare. Far better to walk away quietly and forget Frolich exists.
Nikko ties Frolich to his curtain cords. She explains his situation.
“We know names of boy and young girl,” she has the girl’s cell and waves the boy’s driver’s license under Frolich’s nose, “We know names of men you hired to kidnap white haired girl. We know where you live and we watch until money is paid. Don’t pay, go to prison with no balls. Many boyfriends in prison, you learn to suck cock and take it in ass every day. When we tag you as pedophile, prison becomes permanent hell. Ten million cheap.”
“I’ll pay, I’ll pay, just let me get some help.”
He could pull the curtain rods down with a little effort and get to a phone. It’s good, they only need time to get to the elevator. He isn’t going to call anyone except a doctor. What’s he going to complain about, and to whom? He’d hired the two guys, the crazy girl knows who they are. He had an underage prostitute in his apartment, with an nineteen year old twink. There is no upside to arguing. He’d pay and shut up, anything to avoid Nikko’s graphically accurate prison scenario.
Janah calls the Frolich woman, explains that her husband is going to cooperate. She doesn’t mention any increase in the money, or any other details.
“What happened? I got a frantic phone call from Eddie, my husband. My lawyer told me not to talk to him, so I had my lawyer call the lawyer my husband used for the prenup. An hour later I get a call from saying he wants to pay me ten million to go away. That’s twice the prenup! What’s it about? Eddie’s not generous, he’s sure as hell not just being nice.”
Janah, “Someone helped him see reason, you don’t need to know anything else. I suggest if you need a new soul mate when this is done, try to pick from a different litter.”
Mrs. Frolich, “I’ve had enough bizarre. I won’t need someone for money, I took the drugs to make him happy and shut down my mind. All that has to change, like my name. I’m out of New York, to someplace small and completely forgettable. Before I disappear, what can I do for you, Janah? You saved my sanity, and likely my life. I don’t know what he might have done. I want to pay you something. I’m getting the prenup and a five million dollar kicker for whatever you did. Tell me what I can do.”
“There’s a Shaolin Temple in Chinatown. They do a lot of good work. I guarantee you not a cent of the money will be wasted. The Abbot is Master Sung. Make a donation in any amount you wish.”
“You got it, and thank you.”
The I is the result of the world, the you is the result of the world.
And to the man who sees this deeply with a profound insight, there is no you or I.
Therefore that profound insight is compassion - which is intelligence.
And the intelligence says: If you want a result I can't give it to you,
I am not the product of a result.
Compassion says: This state is not a result, therefore there is no cause.
J. Krishnamurti, The Wholeness of Life
A month passes, we’re back to a familiar routine of mildly chaotic. Nikko has the buildings running on autopilot. Despite that, she is diligence itself, twice a week to her office and walk the property, there are the odd calls during the day, questions by tenants, inquiries by potential ones. Chan accompanies, he admires his Japanese sister, their temperaments similar. They say little to one another, talking a fog that obscures understanding.
Janah and I spend our time in the temple, both teaching. I cook, teach cooking and gung fu. She tutors academic subjects, math, chemistry, biology and Chinese. She works with Hue in the gardens and spends lots of time in qi with old Tan. Sometimes she sits all night in his room, me outside the door asleep until time for early meditation. I go down through the bamboo, past the garden, to the meditation hall. Janah stays with Tan. He will die soon, at a time of his choosing. He trained three students in his old age when he had almost given up finding even one. The white haired master would continue, and who knows how many more might learn. He is transmitting to Janah everything he’d learned over ninety years of qi training. Tan is one hundred and six years old by Master Sung’s reckoning. Maybe a year or two one way or the other. It’s not important, time is irrelevant.
Janah’s mind is strong enough to receive all of it now. She emptied her brain of vast amounts of data, created billions of new neural connections. She is the indescribable infinite. She is nothing the rest of us aren’t. We are all that indescribable infinite. The difference is that she burned away the impurities, thoughts that we are this or that, or that we are conscious entities, or that we are entities. Her being has no form, although she is a person, a body and a mind to others who live in the belief that only what they perceive is real. Perception is not reality, only a reproduction, interpreted by a conditioned mind and incomplete.
In that conscious body form, she is the repository of Tan’s training. Her qi can attract or repel. With it, she can heal or kill. Of course, it’s Janah. There would be no killing, not without extreme provocation. And she would not do parlor tricks, although it would be simple for her. She has no need to gather attention, there are minds to open, to guide as best as she can. Guide away from the abject terror some feel, and point towards the sense of benediction she so clearly understands.
One morning, after meditation and breakfast, Master Sung asks Janah if she would see him before heading up to Hue’s gardens.
After they are seated in one of the small study rooms, Sung says, “We have received a donation for which it appears you are responsible.”
Janah says nothing, smiles at Master Sung and cocks her head slightly.
Sung, “A check came in from an anonymous source. A cashier’s check made out to the temple. There was a note attached, ‘In the name of Janah Svensson, who brought me from darkness into the light and healed my heart, with my deepest gratitude.’ Do you know what this is about?”
Janah nods a yes.
“Do you know the amount of the gift?”
She shakes her head no.
“We are deeply grateful for your thoughtfulness.”
She nods again.
Sung, “Can you say how you were able to help? You need not answer, it is only an old man’s curiosity.”
“She was troubled by her own behavior, and had lost her way. Over several conversations, she was able to see another way. I did little. I listened, questioned gently, as the Shaolin have taught.”
“Perhaps a bit more than simple listening.”
“We opened a door for her, she walked through. She left the path of suffering and is finding her true Buddha nature. She offered compensation, I suggested an alternative.”
“You acted according to your Buddha nature,” he hands her the check. It is for one million dollars.
Janah, “Her generosity will feed many monks for many years. I will meditate in gratitude for the gift she has bestowed.”
“And we will meditate on the compassion you constantly bestow, on us, the earth, and all sentient beings.”
He stands, bows deeply and leaves. She remains seated, lost for a time in the bliss. An hour later, she rises and heads up to Hue and her beloved plants.
“Dang, you have to start talking to more mistreated housewives. Nikko is almost going to smile when I tell her the result of her genius demand that Frolich double the prenup. Maybe she’d have given a gift anyway, I doubt she’d have gone to a million. I don’t know, perhaps.”
“Tell Nikko anyway. She deserves to almost smile, and Chan will love it that his sister had a hand in such generosity.”
“Maybe both of them will smile.”
“Don’t get carried away. Live in hope…”
“Die in despair. I’ll check in later Ange, I’ve got twenty disciples to instruct. Tell Hue and the herbs hi for me.”
Janah continues on her way to the garden. Hue is in his shed, adding a pummeled mixture of herbs to a boiling pot of water.
She sniffs, “Ah, Master Sylk’s favorite liniment. She thanks you every day for adding the lavender and vanilla. She says it is relaxing just to inhale. It makes up for the heat of the peppers that create blood flow and ease the pain. All the martial artists at home go through nearly a gallon a month, then all the patients at my little back room in Chinatown.”
Hue, “Master Chris is kind to sell it at her school. We make a nice income from her and Master Kim. It pays for itself several times over and has purchased many additional pots and burners, expanded the garden and upgraded the greenhouse for our medicine factory. We have become a Shaolin profit center! Even the herb book makes money, which you and Master Sylk’s mother were so kind to translate and publish.”
“Your herb book is the most complete compendium of medicinal plants and herbal remedies on the planet, not to mention the Shaolin version, which must remain in the temple and available only to a few. I hope to spend my retirement days adding to your encyclopedia. If it could be so now, I would spend all my time working here, lost in the plants and the preparations. There is no place on earth more beautiful to me.”
Hue, “You are understanding the stories the plants tell now as well, yes?”
“I’ve learned the fundamentals of the language. They laugh at my accent and stumbling misunderstanding. The bees are getting clearer as well. Daphne loves to listen in on our conversations, she laughs at me as much as they do. Sometimes she catches what they say before I do, she catches the nuances of tone and vibration which I still miss. I understand better when she is here and not occupied. It has to do with the acuity of her hearing, she has far more range in her ear than I have in mine. Some of the sounds they make are frequencies beyond my auditory capacity. I am learning to grasp the meaning by what I can hear and filling in the blank spots.”
"That’s how I learned. One day we may understand how Master Sylk can hear the plants thorough you while she is elsewhere and you are here. Of course, I am thinking of two, when there is only one. Master Sylk is not elsewhere, she is here, and you are here and elsewhere with Master Sylk. Good thing I don’t have to explain it to anyone. Gave up trying to explain to myself.”
“Old man, someone who talks to plants, insects and birds doesn’t have any trouble grasping two as one. You were first to see it years ago. You knew we were coming before we got here, and although you never said it, I suspect you knew what we are as well.”
Hue acts shocked, “Not my doing! Pigeons are notorious gossips. They followed you from Perry Street and flew into my garden. They strutted around teasing me that they had important information and if I fed them grain, they might be inclined to tell me great secrets. I would have given them a treat anyway, and they would have told me without a treat, they can’t help themselves, they love to talk. It’s just our game. That’s when I heard about a white haired girl and her friend who always had something tasty for them when they left their sleeping place. They said the two talk incessantly without words, and often they alternated their very being between one another. They were very cocky about it, said that people couldn’t see the one they could. They always laugh at how much of the world people can’t see.”
Janah, “I am coming to understand how simple we are in their eyes. How ignorant, and how uncaring. They actually feel sad for us when we destroy their habitats, and pity us when we kill them. We perceive almost everything in the world in reverse. We are in control of nothing, we have the illusion of control only. There are universes opening and closing all around us, of which we haven’t the slightest awareness. The plants, animals and insects think we are an insane species. Given what we do to each other and our home, Earth, they have a point.”
Hue, “You have been attending, and the universe is revealing itself to you. All minds are born completely open, and we immediately proceed to close them. Yours has never closed. And you have passed beyond mind, beyond consciousness, into pure awareness, now beyond even that. You and old Tan, he would be in his glory if he felt the need for such a thing.”
“Desire is merely another passing observation for him, to be recognized and ignored. He has done it for so long, the observation and ignoring is instantaneous. As he teaches, the desire will arise, as thoughts arise, beyond our control, a part of consciousness. It is the recognition that consciousness is but a ripple on the surface, that our desires are insignificant, which enables the other to be. The only desire worth anything is to merge with the infinite, and that one cannot be gained with effort, only intention.”
Hue, “Yes, only through negation, see the false and discard it. Your mother has understood it in her art. She takes out everything that isn’t the painting, and throws it away. She throws away entire paintings where impurities have crept in. She has no attachment, she paints in no mind, and what she retains is perfect.”
Janah smiles. The old man had seen only one piece, one she gave to the temple. It is called Compassion. The others, Sung, Hue, Zhang and Chu were greatly moved when she presented it to them. Kara had not told them what she had named it. When they saw it, tears came. They turned in unison and bowed to Kara.
Sung said only, “It is perfect compassion. We are honored to receive this stunning reminder of our purpose.”
Janah recalled Kara asking, “Did you tell them the name of the painting? I only told the family at home, did Susan mention it to Daphne?”
“They did not know a name. They saw what was in your heart when you painted it. To them it was obvious.”
Kara had looked at her daughter bewildered, then comprehending, “My God. No wonder you and Daphne want to be there all the time. It’s an extension of you and her isn’t it? Perfect communion.”
“Which is how you painted us when you did Two As One.”