Welcome back to the otherworldly world I dwell in. If you’ve waded through previous books, you are familiar with the family tree, the Shaolin Temple, the Society and Shadows.
We have morphed into primarily Shadow Hunters, the refocusing work of the Society Janah funnels out to other teams. The Society abuses abusers. Ones who seem to slip the judicial net, ignore restraining orders or find a new fool to torment. Abuse can be physical violence, sexual violence, child abuse, extreme neglect or physical punishment. We don’t consent to the ridiculous assumption parents have a right to deliver pain as a way to discipline children.
The rule for Society work is no killing, excepting when the team or an innocent is in mortal danger. Assassination aside, teams can use a level of force that assures the abuser will be a good boy going forward, we monitor targets, remind them. If they break the rules, the Society may approve a more terminal solution. A couple of select teams are sent for wet work, beating up abusers is one thing, taking a life is a different mindset and we don’t want to give our regular refocusing teams that mindset. (Refocusing means changing the target’s perspective, focus away from abuse, towards no violence to anyone, ever.) We call our teams Social Workers in the Social Skills department. The terms are interchangeable.
Social Workers speak to targets in the language they understand, pain. Does that make us abusers? Of course, abusers of abusers, kind of like Dexter, serial killer of serial killers. Yes, we’re vigilantes in every sense of the word.
Shadows are different from common abusers, broken psychopaths with the ability to take a mind at will. They are too much for normal Society teams. Talented ones cannot only take a mind, but can use qi and telekinesis to throw energy or objects. Shadows despise the Shaolin and will kill one at any opportunity. They can sense us as our Sensitives can sense them. Shaolin who aren’t Sensitives have been murdered for no reason other than hatred born of fear, all hatred is born of fear.
Janah and I learned, actually had transmitted to us, extensive qi skills from Master Tan. Tan, fussy and cantankerous, years ago returned to the Void. Brain to brain transmission is dangerous and painful, success is a long process, the brain has to be challenged, stretched, but slowly, tai chi, not a sprint. Shadows learn, but greed makes them reach for more sooner and the mind breaks. They lose all sense of empathy or sympathy. That doesn’t mean they can’t continue to develop more advanced skills, skills that make them extremely dangerous. A psychopath has no conscience and will manipulate you to get what he wants. A Shadow has no need to manipulate, he takes your mind and you give him what he wants. A psychopath’s psychopath.
Shadows can be male or female, one of the most powerful we’ve encountered was a woman. Now she’s ashes, Janah blew her up in a mind to mind qi battle. Shadows also tend to the perverse, we’ll explore that later.
Cassandra is the latest addition to our family. She was held prisoner, at least to the extent the Shadow who took her as an infant never let her go further than a high walled backyard. She couldn’t use computers, watch TV or read books. She wasn’t abused physically or sexually. The Shadow used her as a doll, to dress as he wished, to obey every command, never question. When he was done playing dolls, she could only remain in her room except when she was allowed to swim. Swimming kept her lithe, slim, tight, the Shadow wanted a young Barbie, not a plus sized one.
A part time housekeeper managed to teach her a bit of math, counting, addition, subtraction, a little multiplication and division. Mostly by explaining cooking and ingredients, a cup, half cup, teaspoon, tablespoon, a pound of meat, six ounces of water.
So much time to not know, to not learn, not to be biased by what other people told her, allowed her to turn inward. She became her own guru so to speak. Ultimately, we are all our own guru, but we don’t know it because our heads are filled with concepts packed into them by parents, teachers and media. Out of her adversity came clarity, she lives in the Absolute, the ground of all being. What gurus like Nisargadatta speak of, that most people cannot step off the treadmill of fear and desire to discover.
Janah and I met in person at age twelve, after two years of meeting mentally. Since then, we have never spent a day physically apart even though we can be in each other’s mind at any moment. Nikko Murakami joined us several years later, then Amaya, Chloe, Zi, Dasha and Daria, Eloise, Oceane, Sloane and Cass came along over time. Except for Eloise and Zi, they were all rescued from child sellers, abusive parents or Shadows.
Cassie is thirteen now, the only one of us that’s continuing to age. Years ago, we discovered unique protein markers in Janah’s and my blood. We weren’t aging and we didn’t know why. We thought it might be our merging, but it was DNA, not a protein, and RNA, which is.
Janah and I found ourselves becoming one being, we started as part her, part me. Then we had a final merge, essentially we are one person in two bodies, with two brains. We can merge at will, but are not perpetually in that state, be confusing and scare the bejesus out of most folks. Then we discovered that the DNA, a nucleic acid, and our other life extension enzymes could be isolated and injected into other people. Now, none of our extended family ages. People outside the family who have known Janah and I for a long time are perplexed, they get older, we don’t. But people also move, or we lose track of them, or they pass away. Anyone we meet thinks they are meeting twenty five year old women, or in the case of our rescues, fifteen to sixteen year olds. In years on Earth, Janah and I are forty something. Except we’re not.
I warned you, our world is otherworldly.
Janah comes from her office to mine, the kitchen. Dasha and I are preparing dinner, or preparing to prepare dinner. Amaya is pouring wine and making cocktails. Girls are gathering for libation of preference, with bowls of assorted mixed nuts to crunch. When we’re at our Greenwich Village home, we like routine. Breakfast together, tea in the afternoon, cocktails and dinner together. Much of our life is far more chaotic, routine is good.
Janah, “What’s for dinner?”
“Filet mignon with marchand de vin, hand cut fries, skin on, sautéed root vegetables preceded by tomato bisque soup. Dasha made Ghirardelli brownies with chopped almonds and Ben and Jerry’s vanilla ice cream to accompany.”
Chloe, “Ooohhh, I’m starved, no lunch, the shoot ran long.”
Chloe is our resident fame dame. A fashion model, then film star, a complete creation of Amaya. Chloe has morphed into an industry, along with modeling and movies there is Chloe Couture, online distinctive clothing and accessories. Girls, women now, we met in Japan design the clothes, once Amaya approves, they hit the website and orders flood in.
It’s a cool site, visitors can upload a full body photo, add height, weight and physical measurements, select an item and see what it looks like on them. It does not retain pictures, customer privacy is absolute. It happily allows for the benefit of no inventory. Clothes aren’t made until the customer orders and pays, shipping is free.
Amaya wrote three bestselling novels around Ultra Violet, a fearless girl samurai and expert with the katana. Chloe is that girl, and is a 5th dan kendoka.
She is also a major draw in Japan, speaks fluent Japanese and spends several weeks there with Amaya doing commercials and TV appearances.
Chloe could care less about fashion, Amaya is obsessed. Chloe would leave the condo in ragged jeans and a sweatshirt. Amaya does not allow ragged jeans or sweatshirts, for any of us. We relent for a simple reason, her selections are exquisite. Not always expensive, that’s not her thing. She can pull together sharp, fashionable looks from an H&M.
Dasha has the soup just warming, she’ll serve when I take the filets up to the roof to grill. I have a ridiculously expensive gas grill, Lynx 54inch with enough gadgets to operate a nuclear submarine. It does, however, work magnificently. Sloane and I haul the steaks upstairs. At least everyone likes them medium rare, well, Nikko likes hers bloodier, it comes off a couple minutes sooner.
Sloane is my adopted daughter. we took her from an abusive father. She’s a tranny, a beautiful whip slim girl with a penis. Daddy had issues, he abandoned her. She takes girl hormones, it didn’t take much, she was clearly more girl than boy. And she was considering the full transition, but Oceane found uses for the penis. It’s strange, all of us are lesbians, but once Oceane broke the code, a girl with a built in strap on, Sloane decided to keep the original equipment. Janah subsequently surprised me , she decided to have a go with Sloane. She found a girl with a cock scintillating. And she surprised herself, she likes the mouthful of creamy surprise at the end. Go figure.
As she explains, “I don’t want a man, bunch of body hair, beard stubble and rough skin, but that specific part on Sloane is a fun stick. When Oceane joins us, I get the plus of her willowy wonder straddling my face while Sloane bangs my brains out. It’s enticingly erotic.”
Sloane’s not Thai, but Thai Ladyboys are a popular industry. Must be something to it, people come in all kinds of hormonal packages.
After steak, brownies and ice cream, girls head in varied directions, a few of us in the main room to watch an episode of Justified. The condo has expanded over the years. First two bedrooms my mom paid to build out on the fourth floor of Chapman’s School for Girls. Lacy Chapman had the only other space on the floor, ours was just bare wooden floor and open space.
We made the kitchen, dining room and living area one extra spacious room. A bedroom for Janah and I, another for Nikko. Nikko wound up sleeping with us much of the time. We built an apartment for Chan Li and his wife Ning in the empty space between our place and Lacy’s. Then they had kids, David Li and Miyako, and Mrs. Fong passed away. Ning took over running her enormously successful restaurant in Chinatown.
Not to over confuse, Mrs. Fong was a dear old fussbudget, not a mere restaurant owner, but the repository of all information running through the closed Chinese community. She was also worth hundreds of millions. She left all of it to Janah and I. We were flabbergasted. Our parents were wealthy, we never wanted for anything, then we’re multi-millionaires, about half of it in Manhattan real estate and the rest in stocks and bonds. Nikko worked for her for years and got property management training directly from Mrs. Fong.
We gave the restaurant to Chan and Ning, there are three floors, so we remodeled the third for living quarters, eventually Ning expanded the second into more restaurant.
That gave us the space above Chapmans to expand bedrooms for Amaya and Chloe. Then Dasha and Daria came to us. We built a bedroom on the roof, then another for Janah and I, one for Oceane, one for Sloane, Zi and Nikko took our original bedroom.
Lacy moved in with my mom and Taylor, which gave us space for Amaya’s office and, most recently, a bedroom for Cassie. At the latest insane Manhattan real estate prices, Nikko estimates our place at fifty million. Doesn’t matter, we aren’t selling.
We also bought the entire Chapman’s building from Lacy years ago, she got an above market price and now travels the world with my mom Susan and her pal Taylor.
Over the years of refocusings, we managed to steal hundreds of millions from drug dealers, the big ones, with warehouses so stacked with cash they can’t keep up with the laundering. We generously relieved them of the burden.
With Nikko’s attentive eye to detail, our collection of real estate, property we own and a commercial property management company, stocks, bonds, film production company, drone manufacturing facility and a few restaurants, our net worth recently crossed four billion dollars. We are stupid rich. And despite giving a lot away, wealth just grows. We give away much of our interest and dividends but the principal just gets fatter. And cash flow from operating businesses keeps flooding our accounts. We may need to build an ark.
Anyway, Justified comes to a close, Raylan does what Raylan does, shoots or threatens to shoot people, Dewey Crowe remains the most singularly stupid character on any show anywhere, reality TV excepted maybe. Just what I’ve gleaned from the news, I’ve never actually watched a reality program. I understand there’s one about people who make duck calls. Quack.
What the rest get up to I don’t know, I get up to clearing up with Dasha, then to brush and flush and collapse into a coma until morning.
Sunlight creep along the edges of the curtain, I blink awake, one of our blond Russian nesting dolls is standing next to the bed.
“You will get up Dahfoney, we haf already coffee and tea, time to make breakfast now.”
She turns and walks off, talking to herself, ‘Nikko, Zi and sister haf to go to office and make more money for us. I will haf eggs to order, hash brown, also beescuit…’
She’s down the stairs and out of range. I get up and do morning ablutions, scoot downstairs for my instructions.
“Dahfoney, you will cook bacon, also garden burghur for Oceana and Janah. I haf already beescuit een oven.”
She’s prepping the griddle with butter to fry eggs. There’s an actual diner style commercial grill for meats, eggs and omelets, pancakes, anything that cooks on a flat hot surface. So much family a common stove and burners doesn’t cut it. Girls start to show up, it’s seven thirty, Nikko, Daria and Zi will be at the office for nine.
Amaya comes in, “Coffee, I need to get my blood going, still have not landed on a story. So much has been done, books are just versions of books already written.”
Dasha, “Eemaya ees always think of something. Idea will come, beescuit ees fresh from oven, let it sit a minute, ees hot and will crumble eef you cut it.”
Chloe shows up, “Yay, fat biscuits and bacon.”
Amaya, “You should be a tub, beanpole.”
Sloane races in, “I’m starved.”
Amaya, “You ate a massive dinner last night.”
“What’s that got to do with this morning?”
Janah arrives, “Society doesn’t have a spare Social Work team and we have a bad dad terrorizing his wife and kids. Who wants to go to Oklahoma City?”
Nikko, “When does it need to happen?”
“Mom’s on board, we have arranged a place for them to disappear. The man is an angry vet, Iraq. It isn’t ptsd, he was an asshole before he went off to kill people. He was a hair’s breadth from a dishonorable discharge except his daddy’s a major. To answer the question, sooner the better. I booked a Blue Sky for one o’clock today, just a matter of who’s going to be on it.”
Nikko, “Not us, we have several tenant meetings this week, important ones. I need Zi to read them and Daria to intimidate the lawyers.”
Sloane, “I want to go.”
Dasha, “Short treep, I will go, sister ees anyway busy.”
“I haven’t done a refocusing since a good long time, Janah, we can go with Sloane and Dasha.”
Amaya, “And who feeds us?”
Chloe laughs, “You are so spoiled. Eloise and I know how to get to the deli, you can keep an eye on Oceane and Cassie for the half hour it will take.”
Dasha, “One day only, we will be back tomorrow Eemaya. You can go on one day diet eef you are to worry about already peerfect figure.”
Amaya grins, “So true, everyone wants to be me, but I already have the job.”
“Sloane, find Oceane and Cassie, they need to eat.”
Sloane takes a bite of bacon, zooms up the steps, a minute passes, she zooms back down, “On the way, Cass slept with Oceane last night. We sat on the roof for an hour and Cassie was practically asleep. I just carried her to Oceane’s bed.”
They’re both in gauzy chemises, looking at once angelic and esoteric.
Oceane is a close to an example of anoesis as is possible. She lives in a world of feeling and sensation.
Cassie lives on Pluto, or everywhere if you believe her. Nisargadatta said he, his real Self, exists in a permanent state of bliss, the ground of being where nothing happens and everything happens. He also said we’re all there with him, but we don’t know our true selves and wrongly believe the thought that we are a person, a body and a mind. According to him, we do not come from anywhere, do not go anyplace. Various teachers, gurus, have said versions of the same thing. They were usually from India. If you know anything about India, you know sanitation, order and rules are pretty much are nonexistent. In moments of cynicism, I sometimes think that living in so much squalor would encourage the belief that none of it is real.
Cassie didn’t come from India, nor does she speak of past lives or anything religious. She was the property of a Shadow, at least that’s what he thought until we killed him.
It’s an interesting dichotomy. If Nisargadatta and Cassie are right, then what’s the rush to find realization in this life? People are born and die. According to him, we were the ground of being before, are eternal and the ground of being after. Given that forever is a fairly long time, a life of eighty or so years is barely a flicker.
Since Nisargadatta isn’t around anymore, I decide to ask Cassandra.
“You are correct, realization is inevitable. People are already awake in any case, just don’t know it. The sooner they are rid of the idea of a person and a body, the sooner they quit being part of the problem and become what they actually are, the solution.”
That’s a good answer.
Flight is three and a half, pick up an hour to Central time, we arrive at three thirty. On the drive from the airport to the hotel, Janah’s reeling off a few wiki facts about Oklahoma City, “Six hundred thousand plus, oil and gas, home of Hobby Lobby and Sonic Drive-Ins. The resurgence of oil brought prosperity, the subsequent declines have dug into that. There’s a big Air Force base with twenty seven thousand people employed.”
Sloane, “I know what Sonic is, what’s Hobby Lobby?”
“Arts and crafts supplies for people with a lot of time on their hands. The owners are also fundamentalist religious. They won a Supreme Court case about birth control, as in not having to pay for it for employees.”
“Why should they have to pay for someone’s birth control?”
“Lots of companies do. I didn’t get it either. Birth control is cheap. We don’t care about religion, except that some people with the man in the sky delusion want to tell everyone else how to be.”
“We’re going to tell someone how to be.”
I laugh, Dasha says, “He ees beating up wife and kids, he does not know how to be civilize person. We will give him civilizating and blood.”
In case you’re new to us, Dasha and her twin Daria are Russian-Belarusian. We took them from a child seller in Houston, they were eight or nine. They are identical as photocopies. Daria speaks with almost no accent, Dasha retains hers. They say they do it to tell each other apart, that’s how identical they are. Actually, Daria is less sociable, Dasha more so. She figured out her accent charms people, especially me, so she keeps it, although she can speak the King’s English if she chooses.
Check into the Ambassador, it’s owned by Marriott, the rooms are upscale business common. It’s a busy place, we can be anonymous. Janah has insanely pure white hair, so she’s temp colored mouse brown for the job. We are in relaxed jeans, pullovers and Converse steel toe sneakers. Nobody would suspect we flew in on a private jet.
We have oversize travel sunglasses, when we get to the target, we’ll be anonymously hoodied or watch capped.
Sloane and Dasha go to their room to freshen up, Janah and I do the same in ours, right next door. There’s a microwave, good, I boil water and make tea.
Sloane and Dasha appear, Janah discusses details.
“Former Corporal Michael Manus lives in a standard ranch, his wife is a self employed bookkeeper, freshly minted accounting degree. They got married young, had the kids, he was deployed. His wife told the Minders that he was seldom happy, a general bully but not so much with her and the children at first. It was a progression with the usual litany of tears, apologies and promises. He went from slaps for her and spankings for the children, to punches for her and belts on the kids. If she threatened to take the kids and go, it got worse.”
I add, “It was particularly humiliating because he’d strap one or the other child in front of the rest, kids were out of school a lot.”
Sloane, “Nobody caught on?”
“If they did, they didn’t say anything. A doctor reported the suspected abuse to someone in our network. He said in Bible thumping Oklahoma, reporting whippings was a waste of time. And Manus is a vet, he gets a lot of slack in a military town.”
Janah, “Surveillance has been monitoring him and the family. We have our own evidence, plus the testimony of the woman.”
Long ago, when the Epsteins ran the Society, they learned the hard way that refocusing a target first, then going to the abused after didn’t always play out. Some refused to relocate. They now approach the abused first and get agreement beforehand. Mostly, they’re scared, don’t know who we are and are suspicious. We put them in touch with other rescued women who confirm new jobs, different cities, and the abuser never comes around. We monitor for a year. If they get in touch with the target after that, we don’t know and we wouldn’t do anything about it if we did. She doesn’t get a second chance, which we make clear from the outset.”
Dasha, “Where ees target? We can do him tonight?”
“If he follows the pattern, he will be at a roadhouse by five thirty. He goes every day after work. He’s a truck driver for one of the oil companies, shuffling tools and supplies to various locations. Unfortunately for his family, not so much overnight, which means he’s home most nights. Surveillance has him hauling stuff to an office near a well site.”
“We going to take him at the bar?”
We’d done it before, beating crap out of an asshole in front of his acquaintances is particularly effective.
“This is a pretty big place, not just a dozen hardcore who might enjoy watching him get whipped. Somebody’s going to use a phone, either to video us or to call cops. Besides, it’s an Okie roadhouse, bound to be country and western music. I didn’t come here to punish myself. His wife and kids left earlier today, we can do him at home. He’ll be pissed because he doesn’t know where they are.”
Dasha, “He goes home when?”
“Surveillance says he drinks for an hour or so, usually home for seven or seven thirty. He’s a beer guy, had a lot of practice and doesn’t sloppy drunk. Three or four beers, bullshits the barmaid and leaves. Other than her, nobody hangs with him, been in fights over nothing before. Again, it’s Oklahoma, people cut him slack because he’s a vet. Like veterans have a free pass to be jerks. He didn’t even see much fighting, he drove trucks in the army, drives trucks now.”
Relax in our rooms until six fifteen, then to the Manus manse, red brick single story, chain link fence, dirt driveway to a two vehicle carport. Naturally, Michael has a pickup.
Janah and Dasha drive down the block while I show Sloane how to pick the absurdly simple Home Depot crap securing his door. Dasha comes along a minute later, Janah’s monitoring the house form the SUV.
Seven twenty Michael unlocks his door, the house is dark, he’s yelling into a phone, “Where the fuck are you? No goddamn dinner, house dark, where’s the kids? I better get a call with a real fucking good explanation bitch.”
He flips it closed, not an android guy. He doesn’t know the phone isn’t with his wife. In fact, it’s in a dumpster, sim card gone, battery dwindling next to an empty pizza box.
“Fucking fuck she think she’s doing?”
Manus comes through the kitchen, beer in hand, flips on the light in the den. Heads to the remote in a big flat screen when he notices someone in his favorite chair, me.
“Hello Michael Manus, I’m from Mars and I’m here to help you.”
I do look a little strange, my head is covered in a burka, I hope to give him Iraq flashbacks, but he didn’t really see much fighting.
“Fuck are you, where’s my family, some kind of terrorist shit?”
He turns towards a closet, no doubt looking for the gun we’d helpfully removed. He yanks it open, reaches for the top shelf, hand pats the empty surface. He turns back to me, except he doesn’t quite make it.
Dasha nails him with her brutal right cross, more brutal with my invention, leather gloves with titanium caps over the knuckles and a piece along the heel of the palm. Hit with that generally breaks something.
I also had some interesting knee protection made years ago. Again, titanium, with layers that allow the knee to bend normally, but don’t protect it from a blow to the kneecap. I got the idea while boiling lobster, it works just like the shell covering the tail. Sloane sends a hard knee right to the man part. Manus is somewhat less manly, on his knees, gasping for air, it hurts when he inhales. At least he doesn’t puke.
Dasha sends a steel toe right under his chin, man that’s gotta hurt. Teeth crunch, blood runs.
As you no doubt know, the real world isn’t like movies. Guys don’t take hard punches then deliver hard punches, then take more hard punches and the fight continues for ten minutes. Even full of adrenaline, things start to hurt or just won’t work, in his case he still hasn’t recovered from Sloane’s knee.
They drag him up to a kitchen chair, he’s groggy and in no condition to resist Sloane wraps picture wire around his wrists. He gets feisty when she goes to do his ankles, but Dasha’s serrated blade to his eyeball settles him down.
“Michael, I’m on an asshole jihad, it keeps me busy, lot of abusers in the land of the free.”
“Aboose? What fugging aboose?”
His mouth isn’t working too well, “Beating kids with a belt, drawing blood, punching your woman.”
“Right ta disspline my kids how I wanna,” he spits a tooth, it bounces on the shitty Berber carpet.
“Not anymore. I’m taking away your rights, you have only obligations. You have the obligation to remain silent, there will be no attorney, I’m your court of law, your judge and jury. I won’t ask if you understand, I don’t care if you understand.”
“Fugg you wan?”
“A margherita pizza with anchovies….oh, you mean from you? Here’s how this goes. Your wife and kids are gone, you are divorced, custody is just another right you don’t have. Am I going too fast?”
“Bullshit,” which sounds like buhshid coming from his mangled mouth, “thas umpossibu.”
Dasha breaks his nose, “Shut up,” after a howl, he does.
“Papers are on your bed. Sold her car, she has another one now, in a different part of the world. We’d take your money but you don’t have any. Here’s the rules. You don’t strike anyone in anger ever, somebody hits you, you walk away. If we spot you with a gun, I come back and make you eat it. Get in a fight, hook up with a woman, we come for you. You will be monitored, you will know we’re watching. Move and we follow, we have unlimited resources, a lot of people hate abusers, they’re happy to help. You can keep the house, it’s mortgaged and seconded and needs a fair amount of repair, including a roof. I’d love to stay and chat, but busy-busy, got to go.”
Sloane twists and with her wolf speed, sticks her steel toe in his ribcage, I hear it crack.
Dasha goes to take a finger, “He’s had it, leave the rest of him intact. Although more blood could only improve this carpet.”
She clips the wire on his wrists, by the time he unwraps his ankles, we’ll be history. Janah’s in the SUV down the block. Dasha and Sloane leave from the back door, I go out the front, cut the valve stems off his tires and turn left up the street while the air whooshes out. They pick me up a block down.
Janah, “That went well.”
“They don’t know we’re coming, or in his case, there already. He had no chance to do anything dramatic. You heard the speech, Dasha and Sloane were relatively restrained.”
They had both been beaten as children, Sloane for being a girl with boy parts. Dasha and her sister taking it from their mother, too stupid to know what jewels she had, only absorbed in herself. Angry for being saddled with twins, broke and a husband dead from fighting Chechens in yet another pointless war.
Janah, “Sloane, how did it go for you?”
“I’m part wolf, his pain is nothing to me.”
Like me with the owl and eagle years ago, Sloane connected to a wolf at our Canadian Rockies home. He gave her his speed and balance, she can run near forty miles an hour for a burst of a hundred yards or so and do it in six seconds. She also has wolf teeth, pointy and sharp. The average man can muster a couple hundred pounds of bite force, women less. Sloane can do four hundred and if she’s wound up it can go to a thousand. If need be, she could snap a man’s thigh bone.
Janah, “Your chat made me want a pizza.”
“There’s a place called Louie’s just down from the hotel. Dasha and I will fetch. Stop someplace where we can pick up wine and vodka.”
Oklahoma is restrictive about liquor, it’s sold from state regulated stores. 3.2 beer or lower you can get at the supermarket, noting else. The good news is there are a fair number of stores. We find one, bottle of Russian Standard for Dasha, cabernet for Janah and Sloane, Perrier for me. I took a vow as a Shaolin to refrain from intoxicants, I don’t count my girl intoxicants.
By nine, Janah and I are having veg pizza, I forgo anchovies for Janah’s sake. Dasha got a burger, Sloane chicken fingers. They swap half a burger for half the fingers while a forgettable TV movie plays as background noise.
Since Daria and Dasha can mental me, as can Amaya and Nikko, the crowd at home already knows the outcome of our trip.
Amaya wants to know what time tomorrow?”
Janah, “Leave here at nine, Teterboro at one thirty.”
Mentaling is spooky action at a distance. Dasha and Daria could be in Japan and talk to me in New York, we see what the other sees, hear what the other hears. It takes some getting used to, who is seeing what, but your brain is amazing and can do much more than you know. I’m the main mental conduit, I can mental Janah, Nikko, the twins and Amaya. Nikko only Janah and me, Amaya only me, the twins only me. The rest of the girls don’t mental.
You have to be willing to forego privacy, your co-mentalers can be in your head anytime. Our solution is to pop in if we want to connect, if the other girl is involved in more private matters, we pop out.
If Sloane and Dasha got up to anything it didn’t register in my head, Janah and I crashed, up at seven, in New York as promised.