One Hundred One

Time to go to Chicago. The lovely psycho couple, Jorge and Melinda, have managed to avoid retribution in jail primarily because they’re kept in their respective cells.
Zoe C made flight arrangements, we’re going just southwest of metro Chicago, to Joliet. 
McKenzie, “I will go.”
Zoe C looks at me, I look at Natalie, “What do you think?”
“Doesn’t matter what I think, McKenzie has her mind on something and she’s decided you need her along.”
So that’s decided. Nat packs her a case, brings us to the airport. Blue Sky made a car reservation, a Tahoe will be waiting when the plane pulls up.
While Zoe C and McKenzie board, Natalie takes my arm, “You know what’s on my mind.”
“McKenzie is our first priority. She’s not out for a private plane ride, she doesn’t care about that, she’d rather be home with her friends. There’s some connection she’s made and wants to verify, or she thinks she can pick up clues if she’s there. Anyone takes a run at her, one of us will take them out, no question. Plus she has her own energy source. Screwing around with her could be painful to deadly.”
Nat nods, “I know, and it must be important, she’d never leave Zelda or the kids without a really good reason.”
We hug, a tender kiss, not a make-out, we don’t do public displays of affection. I board, through the window watch Natalie climb in the Hyundai and head for home.
Four hour flight, two time zones, arrive at three Central. McKenzie and I play Go, I even almost won. Zoe C reads for a bit, they give us fresh pastries and veg omelets, then we’re descending.
She’s booked us at Homewood Suites. Two bedroom suites have separate living and sleeping areas, fully-equipped kitchen with full size refrigerator, microwave, 2-burner stove and dishwasher. Full bath in both bedrooms. Three flat screen TVs, internet access and two phones with voice mail we won't use. Hot breakfast seven days a week we will use and evening cocktails which we won't.
Zoe C, “Looks as advertised, clean, spacious, full kitchen and refrigerator is handy.”
We stopped at a supermarket and picked up various easy to deal with groceries, couple bottles of red and Russian Standard vodka from a liquor store. It’s pressing five when we get settled. 
McKenzie parks at the dining table and opens her laptop, she didn’t get to play the market today, I glance over her shoulder, she’s got a map of the Chicago area, including Joliet. She’ll have the roads and neighborhoods memorized in a half hour or so. With our phones and GPS it’s not much necessary, she just likes to have things in her head.
Zoe C, “How do we find the Russians and Salvadorans, the top layer?”
“I was hoping you had a suggestion.”
She gives me the evil eye.
“I have contacts following the case. In fact, I need to get on the website.”
McKenzie stands, “McKenzie is done,” she goes to the couch and clicks on the TV.
Her laptop is our already, I log onto the site, a message, ‘target tried for a deal by revealing who they sold the girl to…Slavic female, middle age, told him her name was Tatiana, which is about as fake as it gets…at least it eliminates the Salvadorans… back with any new developments.’
Zoe C is reading over my shoulder, “Excellent, now, where the fuck are the Russians?”
McKenzie is watching CNN, no sound, she can’t stand the talking heads any more than the rest of us, “Russian gang, Chicago. Dmitri Tarkov, brother Alexi, Vladimir Petrov, Radovan Lelikov,  Leonid Semenov, former KGB or Russian military.”
Zoe C, “I’m not going to ask.”
“No need, now we find out where they are, any thoughts McKenzie?”
“Wheeling and Buffalo Grove.”
“Never heard of them.”
“Wheeling one hour, fifty point four miles via fifty three north and I three fifty five north.”
“Good, and Buffalo Grove?”
“Fifty eight point seven miles, one hour, I eighty east to I three fifty five north, I two ninety west and fifty three north to Lake Cook road in Palatine Township. Lake Cook road east exit from fifty three spur. Buffalo Grove to Wheeling eight minutes, three point eight miles via Northgate Parkway and Lake Cook road.”
“Thank you McKenzie.”
I take out the cold cuts we bought, smear a bit of olive oil mayo and brown mustard on wheat bread. Layer turkey slices, cut the crusts and then halve the sandwiches. Open multi grain pita chips and announce our elaborate dinner.
I bring the plate of sandwiches and the bowl of chips over to the couch, we surround Mac and eat while global idiocy unfolds silently on the flat screen.
Zoe C, “You know my next question.”
“I go, alone, and ask questions, you and Mac stay in the Tahoe, you can follow in my head. Enough disguise so as not to be useful on any CCTV.”
McKenzie flips the channels until she finds Westworld on HBO. I’ve never seen it but I understand it’s about people with too much money and not much productive to do. They sign up and do ugly things with robots that look human. I presume a diversion for the wealthy when they get tired of abusing real humans.
A half hour later, McKenzie clicks the channel, “Boring.”
Zoe C laughs, “I was thinking the same thing,” she gets up to make us a couple of vodka rocks, not boring, gives McKenzie a glass of wine, not much wine, mostly seltzer.
Mac goes to her room, comes back with a DVD set, the whole Wire in the Blood series. She loads it on the laptop and we sip drinks and watch Dr. Tony Hill speculate on the mystery serial killer’s motives, psychology and sexual inadequacies.
As it ends, Mac says, “Men who can’t get sex become serial killers.”
I laugh, “Well, only on TV. In real life men with sexual problems seldom become killers.”
“Take Viagra.”
Zoe C giggles, “How do you know about Viagra?”
“TV.”
Time for vigilantes to rest, tomorrow could be trouble.

One Hundred Two

After breakfast, we spend the morning driving sixty miles to Wheeling and over to Buffalo Grove. An hour and a half and we’ve determined that you can’t tell one from the other. 
Stop for lunch at the Jazz Café, a Russian-Ukranian restaurant in Wheeling. We have borscht, the beet and carrot soup, Buzhenina, cold marinated pork shoulder. Chicken Tabaka, chicken under a brick, removed the backbone so the chicken lays flat, seasoned with paprika, carrot, garlic, turmeric, chili peppers and onion. Into a hot cast iron skillet with another cast iron skillet on top to weigh the flattened chicken down. It comes out crispy outside, flavorful and tender inside.
I wait until I’ve paid the check to ask questions. When the waiter returns I ask if he’s ever heard of Dmitri or Alexi Tarkov. All I get is a quick head shake ‘no’ and he hustles off. 
Zoe C, “Curious, he’s chatty every time he brings dishes, but all of a sudden he goes mute.”
McKenzie, “He knows Tarkov.”
“What did you see?”
“Fear.”
That’s a start.
We try one Russian oriented business after another, bakery, jewelry store,  specialty supermarket, hair and nail salon, in or around Wheeling and Buffalo Grove.
McKenzie, “Fear everywhere.”
Zoe C, “What now?”
“Someone, likely a few someones, have kicked the story of a man asking about Tarkov up the chain. Like Mac says, the name is known, well known…and they aren’t willing to admit it. The Tarkovs aren’t well liked, impossible to like people you fear. We’ve chewed up the day and it’s an hour back to the hotel.”
It’s seven when we arrive, a little stiff and sluggish after so much drive, stop, ask the question, repeat for four hours. Hot shower feels great, we meet up in the living area which includes the kitchen and a dining table.
Zoe C, “Maybe Tarkov doesn’t care who asks questions, particularly a man, woman and a little girl. We should have worn black leather jackets, boots and those head wraps bikers wear.” 
After the Russian lunch, we’re happy to spread deli chicken with hummus, then roll up the slices to make finger sized bites. A few crackers, Jarlsberg, glass of wine and we’re set for an evening of Dr. Tony Hill fending off yet another vicious serial killer, one who kills to impress the well known clinical psychologist and embarrass the police.
Zoe C has checked in with Elle and Mickey, I’ve swapped a couple of texts with Natalie. Mickey said Zelda roams the house in the morning looking for Mac, then to my room then downstairs to flop down and groan when she can’t find us. Mickey pays her extra attention, explains that McKenzie is still traveling to help find a missing girl. They take long hikes to chew up the day.
McKenzie is not a night owl, if she’s still up and about after ten, it’s unusual. Zoe C and I aren’t far behind her. While we’re pretty cool customers, we’re not oblivious to the fact that we’re stirring the hornet’s nest. Getting stung is a possibility if not an inevitability.
Rest, breakfast, out on the streets to find anyone who can give us a clue where Tarkov lives or hangs out. I figure we approached enough Russian businesses, maybe if we just stay visible, our target will roll up on us. And for that to happen, better if we stop someplace and wait rather than aimless driving.
Zoe C, “Coffee shop two blocks, not a brand name, nothing to indicate Russian, which may mean zip. We had a Russian lunch at a place called the Jazz Café.”
I turn into Coffee Café, café must be a popular tag for food service.
Inside it’s about the size of a common Starbucks. The coffee is either standard brewed, or espresso, no lattes or cappuccinos, nothing frozen with fake Italian names. Suits us, we never order any sugar saturated anything.
They have a nice selection of pastries, I buy four turnovers, two cherry, two raspberry, two regular coffees, Mac wants green tea. My seat faces the street, I sip, Zoe C and Mac nibble bites of turnover.
“These are good Chef, actual fruit inside, not a little smear of raspberry inside a mound of dough.”
I take a cherry, cut it in half, she’s right. I decide to down the other half to be thorough in my assessment.
“You guys can rock, paper, scissors the last one.”
Zoe C, “That’s guy stuff,” she cuts the remaining cherry in half, “this is how civilized girls do it.”
I look up towards the door when the little bell dings. A man comes in, not as tall as me, but six feet and change, thick, shirt unbuttoned a couple from the top. Chest hair like a jungle under his shirt. At least he’s not wearing gold chains and doesn’t sport an outsized ring. Oops, he couldn’t resist a clunky gold bracelet…tacky. Hair is short, almost military, just a frosting of grey. I make him to be fifty.
The clerks behind the counter have evaporated, I doubt it’s coincidence.
He pulls a chair out and sits.
“Somebody invite you to join us?”
“No invitation necessary. You have been asking for Tarkov, I am Tarkov.”
“Dmitri or Alexi?”
His head tilts to the door, “Brother Alexi ees haffing a smoke,” this one is grinning but not a friendly grin, more a self satisfied one.”
“Mind answering a question or two? Obviously I’m not the cops, or any other agency, only a concerned citizen.”
“And what do you think I can help with?”
“A girl was sold to a Russian woman who called herself Tatiana. Stepfather, who did the selling, is Jorge, Velasquez last name.”
“And why would I know anything about such a travesty?”
“Maybe you don’t, but I doubt much is going on in your part of town that you don’t know about.”
He nods, “Ees true enough. These Jorge, he ees the one arrested for beating young boy, for killing him?”
“See. You are on top of things Chicago.”
He thinks for a bit, cocks his head, “Maybe girl ees better off, Jorge or the woman might haf keeled her also. Maybe this Tatiana did girl beeg favor.”
“Maybe she did, and if you can point me in her direction, I can see for myself. It looks righteous, I’m gone.”
“Why do I accommodate you? Nobody cares what you think, besides, you haf already girl,” he nods towards McKenzie, “and beautiful girlfriend. Maybe better not to be greedy.”
“Help me out on this, later, maybe I can help you. I’m sure you and your brother are tough guys, and have a few tough guys on the payroll. Maybe sometimes, you want something to happen, something you don’t want your immediate hierarchy of tough guys involved in, don’t even want to risk sacrificing one of your pawns. You call me, we talk it over.”
“You play chess?”
“Of course, all thoughtful and intelligent men play chess, even thoughtful and intelligent women. The young lady plays a pretty mean game too.”
He looks at McKenzie, “Father says you play chess. Come to my house, we will play,” he shifts his gaze to me, “not to worry, Tarkov brothers don’t mind doing what is necessary for business, but we do not stoop to hurting little girls. Come in an hour, lunch provided. In the meantime, I will find out about this Tatiana. If she is in the area, even if Tatiana is fake name, Dmitri will find out. One last question, curiosity only, why do you care about little girl you don’t know?”
“Children are not for sale, not in my world. I don’t care if they are girls imported here from overseas, or girls snatched off the street, or any other damn thing. In my world, assholes don’t get off beating children, certainly not selling them into prostitution.”
“Jorge and his woman, I forget the name, they are in jail awaiting trial, yes?”
“Yes.”
“If something should happen, some unfortunate circumstance while they are in jail, or later, when they are in prison…”
“I would be happy to show my appreciation. If they die, they die, but I’m more in favor of a few years of misery first.”
Tarkov actually smiles, looks at Zoe C, “This is a man worth knowing,” he scribbles an address on a napkin, “an hour…and don’t worry, no tricks, Tarkov brothers are not pushovers, we are not monsters either.”
I nod, “Understood, thank you.”

One Hundred Three

Tarkov has a nice place, iron fence all around, not a mega mansion, maybe four or five thousand square feet, two story, pool.
The interior is tastefully decorated, well, I’m being generous. It doesn’t look like a Trump gold gilded glitter palace, the entrance hall chandelier is way too big with over the top crystal.  We pass a room with a pool table that appears to have never been used, then on to a bigger room, fat fireplace takes up half a wall, real logs cracking away. A stack of wood big enough to add a room.
Dmitri, “My brother Alexi will join us for lunch, in the meantime what can Victor bring you to drink?”
“McKenzie drinks water or club soda, bit of lemon or lime if you have it. I’m good with coffee or tea, strong black, Russian style.”
Tarkov grins, Zoe C says, “Same please.”
Victor, about the size of a Saturn rocket, lumbers off, one assumes he knows Tarkov’s preferences.
Tarkov, “Chess reveals character, cautious, aggressive, passive or confused. Let’s have a game, then I would request a game with the young lady, if permitted.”
“Up to her.”
He takes a black pawn and a white one, hands behind his back, then fists out front, I tap the left, white. I make the first move.
Thirty two minutes later he mates my king, I use my finger to topple the old boy to the side, reach out and shake Tarkov’s hand.
“You are a cautious player with hints of aggressiveness, but not much. It was a good game.”
He re-sets the board, this time he gives the pawns to McKenzie, he taps white, the game begins.
Tarkov lasts twenty two minutes.
Dmitri, “A prodigy, how wonderful. She makes moves I’ve never seen before and puts her pieces in what looks at first to be dangerous, even foolhardy. Then she goes for the kill.”
Victor returns, “Lunch is served sir.”
We stand, I take McKenzie’s hand, she doesn’t like being touched, family excepted. We don’t do much cuddly with her, Natalie a bit. The rest of us are allowed to kiss a cheek.
Zoe C knows what to do, she takes Tarkov’s arm and we move to the dining room. The table could seat eight comfortably, I assume it can be expanded but I doubt Tarkov has dinner parties.
Dmitri, “And here is Alexi. Brother, meet Molly (we are faking names, Molly is McKenzie) Anne and David.”
Alexi, “My pleasure, welcome to our home.”
“It is a grand home too.”
“Spasibo.”
“Dobro pozhalovat.”
Brother’s eyes widen a bit, smiles, “You speak the language.”
 “I’m a novice, Molly is fluent.”
Dmitri, “Of course, a chess prodigy and fluent in Russian. Alexi, she trounced me at chess.”
“Ty pozvolil yey pobedit?” (You let her win?)
“Nyet.”  
Alexi cocks his head but says nothing. He’s a thick man, not thick in the head, built like a refrigerator with black hair down to his collar. I look at his hands, they’ve been busy doing hard things. The skin is thick, particularly along the sides of his hands and his knuckles aren’t exactly golf balls, but close enough.
Lunch has a Russian accent, smoked salmon and the accompaniments, caviar and blini. The entrée is grilled fish, has the look and feel of trout, a vegetable medley and potatoes. 
“My compliments to your chef, the fish is splendid.”
Zoe C, “And Beluga caviar, superb.”
Alexi, “You know caviar?”
“Just enough to believe I know something, hardly an expert or even knowledgeable amateur.”
“Dmitri tells me you are looking for a woman who may be called Tatiana, but in any case, one who paid to take a child.”
“Yes, and we don’t presume the child is better or worse off. We want to find out.”
Alexi’s head bounces in affirmation, “Of course. Do you believe we had anything to do with it?”
“We have no reason to presume anything. Our researches told us you and Dmitri have a firm grip on certain segments of the Russian community in and around Chicago.”
“We keep order, settle disputes, the Russian people love to argue, good enough except when it gets violent. Then the police feel compelled to stick their noses in.”
McKenzie, “People are afraid of you.”
Dmitri grins, “Who told you that little one?”
“Nobody.”
He looks at me, “She always that direct?”
“That’s her polite side, direct is more like a straight razor.”
He nods, “Like when she annihilated me at chess.”
“Like that.”
“You don’t think she should respect her elders?”
McKenzie, “Uvazheniye zarabotano deystviyami, a ne vozrastom.”
Alexi, “A good Russian proverb, respect is earned by actions, not age. The girl is not a child.”
“No, young, but not a child.”
Dmitri, “If you will meet us tomorrow, probably only me, Alexi has many business obligations if you will forgive him, I may have something useful for you. Word will go out this afternoon. I would be surprised if nothing surfaces by this time tomorrow.”
“Thank you, spasiba, and thank you for the excellent lunch.”
Alexi, “You never mentioned where you live.”
“No, we didn’t.”
There’s a bit of silence, Dmitri, “A cautious man, rightly so, brilliant young child, beautiful companion, you are correct to keep things, what do they say? Close to the vest.”
“This is the link to an encrypted website. Type a message of any length.”
Dmitri, “I hear we Russians are breaking encrypted phones, email and websites.”
“True. First they need the Tor link, then try and track the server locations, which are all over the world, they have no idea where it came from or to whom it was sent. Hackers are far more interested in corporate or government sites, they would spend hours, days even, tracking our site, then breaking the encryption. I’m not worried about it, if the site is hacked I get lots of red-line warnings. More importantly, it self-destructs.”
“You lose your data though.”
“Backed up in our own encrypted servers in another part of the world.”
He nods, “As I said, you are a cautious man.”
We part company, he will text when he has something. We accomplished half the job, Jorge and Melinda are facing a long, painful time in prison and not a friend in sight.
Nothing to do but return to the hotel and wait. We’re easy to amuse, Zoe C  can park herself with a book for hours. McKenzie and I will have a few games of Go and chess, until she gets tired of killing me. Then she’ll resort to reading every online science article she can find, she’s subscribed to ten or twelve.
At four thirty Natalie does a Facetime call with McKenzie, for about a minute, Mac is not a phone call girl. She hands the phone to me.
“Hey, good to see you, even if it’s only been a day and a half. We made solid contacts, might have the project completed by tomorrow.”
“We’re plugging along with business, Zelda makes her house tour looking for the rest of her family. Mickey and Burma keep her company all day. She’ll have more company tomorrow, I found a Great Dane pup, female, fawn coloring and I’m not having the ears clipped.”
“Is Zackary excited?”
“I left it until I could find the right dog. We’ll all take a ride tomorrow and collect her.”
“Think of a name, or waiting?”
“Zack’s decision, I’d go with Claire for Claire Danes, the bipolar weirdo in Homeland. She’s a fine actress.”
I laugh, “Sounds right to me, but the dog is for Zack mostly. He should decide unless he goes with something silly.”
“Mickey won’t let that happen. She’ll tell him our big dogs are too dignified for goofy names.”
“How’s he doing?”
“He’s the happiest kid in Malibu, lots of land to walk, good friends to walk it with, a pool. Mickey invented a game, she got a wooden pole, four feet, maybe an inch diameter. She circles Zack and taps him. He’s learning to sense where she is and where the pole is going. Of course they just started, he’s pretty terrible, but he laughs when she tags him.”
“I suggest you get him a pole, see if he can learn to deflect hers.”
“That’s a cool idea, I’ll bring it up.”
Zoe C talks to Mickey and Zack, I stick my face in and wave, then I see Zelda’s head followed by her nose sniffing the phone. When I say ‘hello Zelda’, she cocks her head back and forth and huffs a harrumph. Then Mick holds Burma up, I tell her hello as well, she lifts her paw and eases it ever so gently down to the screen. I tap back. She leaps out of Mickey’s arms, onto Zelda’s back launches herself and races to her cat tree and disappears inside. One of the others will have to continue the hide and seek.

One Hundred Four

We have a quiet, uneventful, evening. Picked up fried chicken, mac and cheese and coleslaw, watched another Wire in the Blood. McKenzie likes the dead bodies and forensic descriptions.
Then bed, then up for a new day. Breakfast at the buffet, at ten we head out for a long walk, thirty minutes out, turn around and head back. Just as we approach the hotel lot, my phone dings.
“It’s Dmitri, I have the information you are looking for.” 
“We’ll be up in an hour, name a place.”
He gives me the address of a coffee shop, one that appears to be out of his territorial bounds, it’s not a Russian anything, best I can tell the owners are Italian.
We click off, “Load up, meeting Dmitri in an hour.”
One the way up, I ask McKenzie a question I should have put to her yesterday, “What do you think of Dmitri and his brother?”
“Not bad men, not good, they told us the truth.”
“So we can trust them.”
She’s busy murdering some poor online chess player, “Until we can’t ….. checkmate.”
The screen goes dark, she clicks the tablet off. She doesn’t comment on the game, in another minute she’ll forget she played one.
I spot Tarkov’s car, nice, a Beemer, near the top of the line and a couple years old.
He gets up and waves, pulls out a chair for Zoe C, another for McKenzie, I have to deal with my own.
Dmitri, “Pastries here are excellent, the coffee is good, not brown water. He waves at the counter, a platter of half dozen treats, turnovers, cinnamon roll the size of a compact car, croissants, warm, flakey buttery.
“They are good, coffee too,” I wave my cup at him, a sort of incomplete toast.
He admires Zoe C’s long ballerina legs but he doesn’t stare, nor make any complimentary or crude comment. I give him a point for gentlemanly behavior.
“My friends go deep in the Russian community.”
“I should think so, Vladimir Petrov, Radovan Lelikov,  Leonid Semenov, former KGB or Russian military, no rank lower than Major. Not men to be ignored or certainly not intimidated.”
He smiles, “Someone did excellent homework.”
I flip my thumb towards Zoe C, “She’s good, maybe as good as Russian hackers.”
He smiles, “Crazy world, every government thinking it has secrets while they dig into secrets of every other country. If one can do it, everyone can, there are no secrets except what each government is doing to exploit its people and hide where all the money goes.”
“Cynic after my own heart.”
“The girl is with a well off Russian family, mother a doctor, pediatrician in fact. Father owns a commercial bakery that makes much of the bread you see in local stores. I have a few photos…” he takes out an IPhone.
“It’s her, our contacts sent photos taken by social services. They visited the home, if you can call it that, and they take pictures for evidence of abuse or not.”
“They weren’t sealed? I thought that was common practice.”
I shrug.
“You do have extensive contacts.”
I shrug again.
“Then as you can see, she is healthy and happy, a few bad days, to be expected.”
I look to McKenzie, “Can you tell anything from the photo?”
“No, but this man,” she nods to Tarkov, “is telling the truth.”
“Good enough for me.”
Tarkov, “How does she know?”
“She knows.”
“Human lie detector, now wonder she’s so good at chess, fascinating,” he looks to McKenzie, “you should pay poker, wipe everyone out.”
“You have been generous with your time, and your connections, we are most appreciative. If I can be of service, you know how to reach me.”
We part company, return to the hotel.
Zoe C, “We can fly out in two hours, four in the air, gain two time zones, touchdown LAX at three thirty.”
“Book it.”
And so it goes. Zoe C told Elle not to fight the traffic, we take an Uber to a Malibu hotel. Don’t want anyone knowing our home location that doesn’t have to. Elle is there in the Hyundai to collect us.
“Good trip then.”
“Yep, brought misery down on the targets, didn’t have to shoot anyone, didn’t even have to beat anyone up, the girl is in good hands.”
Zoe C, “Chef, we need something with more size than the Hyundai. It’s great for making the big grocery trips, but now we have seven people and two giant dogs.”
“I thought the Great Dane was a pup.”
“Cute, tell me that in a year.”
“Any ideas?”
“Elle and I will shop and let you know. I do know minivans actually have more cargo space than SUVs.”
“Yeah, but they’re minivans. Get something with good visibility, max window tint, big ass engine.”
Home. Pass Zelda’s sniff test, Burma races around her, the pup is underneath Zelda peeking out at us.
Zoe C leans over and picks her up, “Awwww, perfectly adorable. How’s the early going, no fights?”
Mickey giggles, “Burma plays, Cilia swats at her gently, rolls to her side and Burma curls in against her when she’s tired.”
“Where did Cilia come from.”
Zackary, “From Cecilia, which in Latin means blinded, kind of appropriate.”
I have to hand it to the boy, he doesn’t play blind victim, doesn’t complain and makes his own blind jokes, “Have you seen my new puppy? I haven’t.”
Mickey, “And she loves being outside. We got her own bowls, Burma drinks from whatever bowl has water in it, and sometimes she sneaks a food pellet and scampers up the cat tree. You can hear her in there crunching.”
“Zelda doesn’t mind?”
“Zelda doesn’t mind anything, she’s trés  cool.”
“French?”
“Elle and I are learning, simple things, we don’t expect to be moving to France or anything.”
Over the next few days we rock along as normal, then Zoe C and I go off to pick up our shiny new Ford Expedition Max, Platinum of course, Zoe C wanted all the bling. Seventy five grand.

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