Chapter Thirteen

Formula One is Formula Fun! Like big, really quick go-karts. They turn on a hair, hug the road, it's almost impossible to take a curve too fast. We chase a Cadillac with a pro driver, gives us a sense of the next turn which can leap up on you before you know it. We've been around the track all four days, we're familiar with what comes next. Part of the point of the lead car is to help you understand that, if a big car can zing through the curve, your formula one can do it with ease. It's not like they're top heavy, I'm practically sitting on the concrete. The tires are fat, you could spin out, but with track that wide, flipping is almost impossible, it would have to be a crash with another car.
We must have done okay, the day is over and nobody's mangled, not even the cars.
Hal, "You guys have been a pleasure. Not many first timers will follow the lead car like that."
"We did take tactical, riding bumpers is part of it. We figured if the Cadillac could take the turn at speed, the little Mazda could do it at twice that."
Dan comes over with the twins, "Graduated with honors, they are now officially ready to bash bad guys out of the way, high speed escape, maneuvering around or blowing through blockades. When are you sending them for racing?"
"That's up to them."
Dasha, "Dan, we haf meeny business, property, restaurant, library, no only time to race around track een Arizona. We come to learn to crash car, Eemaya ees for driving race. Where ees Vesnushki?"
Dan, "Guess I got my answer, who is Veznush....what was it?"
"Vesnushki, Chloe's nickname, it's a Russian thing. Chloe's with Amaya, taking pictures with the other students and the staff.."
Dan, "I gotta get over there, I want my turn."
We walk over, I introduce Janah, Zi, Chloe. Eloise and Oceane, photos are clicked. One of the tactical students, an middle aged guy, not gone to seed, chiseled handsome, is on one knee in front of Dasha.
"Dasha, if you will run away with me, I'll buy you two Escalades and a Corvette."
"Freddie always make ridiculous. You haf nice wife and beeg house in Kahleefornia Caramel. We haf already Escalade Plahteenum, also Mercedes. Maybe Eemaya will buy Corvette car now. She ees always buy something."
Freddie is laughing, "I can't wait to tell my wife we live in Caramel, not Carmel. Dasha, you are a priceless gem. If you ever get into the executive protection business, call me. I worry about my daughters getting ready for college. I'd pay you and Daria well to drive them."
Dasha, "We haf no to make money. You will call eef daughters haf problem, we will feex."
Freddie, "What do you mean, fix?"
"Eef daughter haf keednaping, or ees bothered by some person, you will call us. There will be no anymore a problem."
Freddie studies her, "Okay, give me a number, just in case."
Dasha reels off one of our throwaway numbers, we keep a half dozen buy and fly phones. One call, one message, the phone disappears. If we call back, it's from another number.
We hit a sports bar and grill near the school. I sit at a table with Oceane, Zi, Nikko and Janah. Sports bars aren't our thing, but the guys have been really nice and we want to treat them to a couple rounds. I hear Amaya and Chloe swapping stories about film making for stories about race driving, Dasha and Daria get carded, but the licenses say twenty one so vodkas appear on the bar. Eloise gets carded at the table, same deal, she and Janah are having beer.
Oceane and Nikko are looking over the menu, discussing the relative merits of chicken fingers and buffalo wings in Japanese. Oceane pulls out her sketch pad and pencils something she was working on earlier at the track.
Hal comes over and pulls up a chair, "The young lady, Oceane, beautiful name, what is it?"
"French for ocean. She loves the ocean, any water really. When she came to us a name change was in order, she picked it herself."
Hal, "I have a granddaughter about her age, nine. Twists me around her finger like string. My daughter gives me grief about spoiling her, goes in one ear and out the other."
"We're the same, the twins came along when they were eight, Amaya and I do the most spoiling, but the rest of the family does it's share. It's hard to spoil Oceane, she doesn't ask for much. We got her one of those endless pools. There's little swimmable ocean near us, and Manhattan club pools tend to be crowded. Now she can swim all she wants right at home, Chloe started using it, the rest of us use it sometimes, Oceane is in every day."
Hal, "Good exercise, healthy stuff. My granddaughter has today's kids scheduled life. Always some after school thing, soccer is popular, she takes a music class, piano. Her mom is convinced it will make her a math genius or something. I go to all the soccer I can, when she's over to our place we don't schedule jack. Mostly she wants to see a movie, walk the mall. She's just happy there's no calendar on the wall mapping out her day."
I laugh, "Good for you, better for her."
"Oceane goes to school in Manhattan? Private, public?"
"Private," I skip the part about private meaning at home, "she has a more artistic temperament, oil paints and sketches."
"Yeah, I noticed the pad at the track, she's back at it now. Can I see? Or is she shy? Don't want to bug her about it."
"She doesn't bug," I tell Oceane, "Hal would like to see your sketch."
She hands the pad over, it's of the track, a Tahoe is pushing the rear bumper of a car blocking the road, profile of Dasha in the window.
"Geez, it looks like a photograph, how's she do that with a pencil? Can I show the guys?"
"Sure."
He takes the sketch pad over to the bar, I see them pass it around, Hal points to Oceane. She's oblivious, sips her Diet Coke and twirls a chicken finger in whatever flavor high fructose corn syrup they'd brought. I see them flip through the pages, other things she'd drawn while at the hotel, the view from the balcony, around the pool, Chloe and Zi in the drawings.
Now she's surrounded by Bondurant instructors, "Amazing, it looks like the Tahoe is 3D, and the pool, Chloe is exactly Chloe, I feel like I'm sitting across from her in a black and white world."
Oceane smiles politely, Nikko asks in Japanese, "Would it be okay to give it to them? I think they would like to have it."
Oceane is fine with it. Once she's done a drawing, it sits in a pile and disappears from her memory. I collect them though, keep them sealed and stored. She has no conception of her talent, since I'm a calligrapher, I have a feel for the quality of art, hers is remarkable.
Nikko tells them, "Oceane would like to give it to you."
Hal brightens, "That's great. I'm gonna get it framed, nobody's gonna believe it's a drawing, and nobody's really gonna believe it's by a young girl. Maybe, if it's okay, we can take a picture of her with it."
"What do you think Janah?"
"She has no living relatives, everybody she knew before us is dead."

They circle Oceane, who holds the drawing in front of her. Just faces and the drawing so I can zero in on it.
A couple of snaps, I e-mail the photos to Bondurant with a brief explanation of framing on acid free paper, non-reflecting glass and to keep it out of direct sunlight.
Time to move along, we say goodbyes, they thank Oceane, hugs and handshakes and off we go to the Fairmont. It's seven, quick showers, enough day. Room service, wine, sleep, plane leaves at eight thirty tomorrow morning.

Chapter Fourteen

Private flight to LaGuardia, four hours in the air, lose two in time zones, in the apartment for three thirty. Time to deconstruct, then tea. We sit around the new, larger, low table. Family gets any bigger we'll need two shifts.
Dasha, "What ees dinner Dahfoney?"
"Pizza I think, simple, we didn't have Italian on the trip. We need to unpack, I'll do that and you can make a grocery list. The weekend starts tomorrow, we'll be making dinner Saturday and Sunday. Enough eating out for a while."
We wind down into the evening, pizza, ravioli, cannoli for dessert, watch an episode of Lie To Me and to bed.
I'm up early, scoot over to the Doughnut Plant for a selection of fried flour and sugar, back to the apartment by seven thirty.
While we enjoy the luxury of high carbs and empty calories, I tell Dasha, "Taking a few of Oceane's sketches to Kara's gallery, we'll grocery shop after that. Then it's a day of nothing for me."
"Da, I haf beeg leest, Eemaya will drive us."
Amaya, "Call me when you're checking out, I'll pick you up."
"The Silverman Gallery opens at ten. Let's do this the other way round. Dasha and I will shop now, if we need a ride, I'll call. We'll take the tote bags, probably sufficient for a few blocks walk."
Dasha and I dress and off to the store, takes under an hour with two of us, but it's a fair amount of stuff with ten girls in the house. Amaya collects us, we get the groceries put away, I decide Oceane should go with us to the gallery. I find her in her room, on her bed sketch pad in hand. I look over her shoulder, she's drawing herself in the moment, nude girl on a bed.
"Nice work. I want you to come with us to the gallery, meet Candace Silverman, she may have questions for you. We'll leave in fifteen."
She smiles up at me, an acknowledgment she's still connected to the planet. Sets down her drawing and hops up to dress, a gauzy slip dress down to her knees, sandals. We have to get her the lightest clothes possible, she wears light cotton panties if we hand them to her, otherwise she goes without. Nature girl.
Amaya comes along, fixes her hair, black ribbon over her head tied underneath. She fusses with the arrangement until it hangs to her satisfaction. Inspects fingers and toes before she pulls on her socks and sneakers.
"I will do those nails this afternoon, happy you don't bite them, they need trimming and polish though."
Oceane, "Fingers are not for eating."
Amaya, "Most girls spend their youth in a state of anxiety, the common consequence is nail biting from nervous habit. I should know better in your case, you don't have an anxious bone in your body."
Oceane doesn't reply, hardly ever does unless it's a direct question, sometimes not even then. Anxiety is a foreign concept.
Downstairs, Dasha's waiting, "We will go now Dahfoney."
Amaya, "Not so fast Slavic slob," she recombs Dasha's hair, swipes lip gloss over her lips, unbuttons her blouse and fixes a misaligned button, "without me, you are a fashion tragedy."
Dasha knows perfectly well how to brush her hair in place, to apply lip gloss, certainly how to button a blouse. She leaves flaws so Amaya will fuss over her. When we go out and Amaya's not around, she's flawless. Tinkering with Dasha is a form of affection between them.
Amaya, "Now you are presentable," kisses Dasha's cheek, one for Oceane, we hit the streets.
Candace Silverman is Sarah Silverman's daughter. Sarah was Kara's original representative, since retired. Her daughter took over the gallery. Candace was a Chapman's student and discovered Kara's work when she saw a piece in the Chapman's entrance lobby. She told her mom about it, that was the start of a successful business relationship with the Silverman Gallery.
Candace, "Oceane, these are remarkable. Such detail, Daphne said they look like a photograph, she had that right. Can I keep this collection? I want to show it to a few people."
Oceane is studying a painting in the gallery, I reply for her, "Sure, I hoped you would like them as much as we do."
"I love them. I would like to ask a few questions, is that okay?"
"Oceane, join us back on Earth for a few minutes, Candace has a couple of questions."
Candace asks about inspiration, Oceane asks, "What is inspiration?"
Candace, "Why do you make the drawings?"
"They ask me to."
"Who asks you?"
"The paper, the pencils, they tell me what to do and I do it."
Candace looks at me, bemused, "Help me here."
"What you and I call inanimate objects are not inanimate to her, they have a life of their own. Her mind doesn't dwell on concepts, ideas. Everything she touches tells her something."
"Wait, she believes things talk to her?"
"It isn't a matter of belief. Her world is sights, sounds, touch, to a lesser degree scents and tastes. If she lived in a normal world, people would stick her in therapy simply because she relates to things in a way they can't understand."
Candace tilts her head, "But her art is so concrete, I would think she'd be more abstract."
"Perhaps a reason her sketches are so precise is that she sees what's exactly there."
Candace, "Okay...Oceane, can you tell me how you developed your style, learned this technique?"
Oceane smiles at her, head tilts slightly, no reply.
"Did she not understand the question, did I insult her?"
I grin, "She doesn't know how to be insulted. You won't get an answer because she's already answered. The pencils and paper tell her what they want her to do. She has no style or technique other than the ones her tools supply."
Oceane has wandered off to examine another painting, I see her not quite touching it, fingers trail along the piece millimeters from the surface.
Candace, "What's she doing, she knows not to touch the art I hope."
"She knows."
Oceane says to nobody in particular, "The person who did this is dead, he was not happy when he painted it."
Candace gasps, "How did she....the artist committed suicide a week ago. It was in the papers, guess she saw it."
I sidestep, Oceane doesn't follow news, "Perhaps."
Candace, "She also does oil?"
"Yes, we'd like an opinion about the sketches first. Maybe I'll bring around a couple of oils after that. It doesn't matter what the verdict is, it's curiosity on our part. Kara said she's only seen an example or two of this kind of pencil detail and one was in color, not black and while. Oceane is starting to experiment with color pencils, but they are sketches, not drawings, not actually of anything recognizable. She wants to get to know the colors first."
Candace, "They talk to her too?"
"Of course. The language is more complicated than black and white, she's still learning it. For now, her oils are abstract, not of anything. When the colors are ready to make an image, they'll let her know."
"You have the most delightfully strange family. You and Janah didn’t seem strange at school, but Chapmans was full of quirky girls. It took getting out of Chapmans rarefied atmosphere for me to understand how different it was."
"We need to get going, take your time, call when you have something and thanks for doing this. If anything is salable, we'll talk it over and decide what to do. Naturally, it will go through Silverman."
Candace, "Daphne, I can sell these in a heartbeat. An auction with a minimum bid is the way to go. All I'm doing is showing a few people to get an idea of what the minimum should be. Last question, should you decide to sell any, is Oceane available, I mean for people to meet at a showing?"
"If we tell her to. Not like an order, she prefers us to decide and she will happily do whatever that is. If I asked her, she'd only say, I don't know."
"Is she the most peculiar of your peculiar family?"
"Probably," she isn't, but I can hardly get into a group of women who don't age, talk to each other mentally, a couple who read auras, one who can mimic any voice spoken, sing any song exactly as the original singer did, one who can see time in frames, two who can remember anything at a glance, one who can see like an eagle, hear like an owl and do it in ultraviolet or infrared and another that can put together any kind of electronic device imaginable. Not to mention all the martial arts.

Chapter Fifteen

At home the rest of the day, lunch light, finger sandwiches, carrots, radishes and celery with an herbal cream cheese dip. Amaya makes good on her manicure and pedicure promise, Oceane sits quietly in some alternate atmosphere, gentle binaural tones play over her speakers.
Amaya finishes and comes downstairs, "That is the most internal human being on the planet. Not a word, sat still as a stone. When I went up, she had ditched her clothes, credit her for taking care, dress hung up, shoes put away. I asked why clothes bothered her, she said they don't feel right on her skin."
"Same thing she told me. She obviously sleeps on fabric, I asked why that didn't bother her, she said she doesn't move when she sleeps. As long at the clothes are light and soft, she's okay with it. In the winter she mostly stays inside. In Phoenix, she did what she needed to do, wore that micro bikini you bought for her, the rest of the day she stayed in the room. If we told her to wear jeans and a sweatshirt, she'd do it, but she likes it her way."
Amaya, "I bought her fleece for winter, cotton knee socks, the sheerest panties I could find. A bra is pointless."
"Then she'll be fine. She wouldn't complain about it anyway, but there's no reason to force her into denim or polyester. Maybe yoga pants."
Amaya, "Of course, duh, I should have thought of that. Like a soft, flexible second skin. I shall locate a pair Monday. What did Candace say?"
"Enthralled. We will eventually need to decide if we want to sell any. Candace said it would be better if she showed up at the auction, which she would if we ask her to. What do you think?"
Amaya, "Absolutely not! I do not appear at bookstores or do interviews, my books sell like crazy. The buyers are buying the art, not the artist. I am sure Candace recommended an auction, set the minimum bid and the buyers can bid or not. It might jack up the price a bit if she appeared, why do we care about that?"
Nikko, "I think it might raise the bids if she remains a mystery. We can do what Amaya does on her book jackets, a photograph, side shot or something, verify the artist is a talented child. Enhances the story."
Eloise, "Why not make a video of her drawing, show that at the auction, let it run on a loop? We can briefly show her from the side, then focus on her hands, the pencils and the pad."
Amaya, "Brilliant! The mouse is a genius, well done Eloise, that is precisely what we should do, presuming the decision is to sell."
I take a quickie vote, there are no objections, we can't think of a reason not to. The work is forgotten by Oceane as soon as she finishes it, might as well let someone enjoy it. Guess we wait to hear from Candace.
Tonight, Dasha has decided on filets, grilled trout for Oceane, creamed spinach and stuffed baked potato. Cocktail hour upon us, Amaya tends bar, I make a salad of chopped red cabbage with tahini dressing. She opens wine to let it inhale, I'm on the roof to grill steaks and the fish. Dasha puts the finishing touches on spinach and scalloped potatoes.
While we enjoy dinner, I tell Oceane, "We think, if the price is acceptable, we will sell some of your sketches. Candace asked if you would be able to show up at the auction, I told her you could, but we have decided it would be better to make a video of you drawing and send that instead. Do you have any thoughts about it?"
She smiles, takes a bite of fish.
"Amaya and Eloise will make a video, we think it will be interesting for people to see how you work. Is it okay with you?"
"I will be in a movie like Chloe."
"Yes, except you will be the only person in the movie and you don't have to say anything."
"The pencils and paper will tell me what to draw, they like that," she chews her fish, "delicate inside, crispy outside, buttery."
She's off on a sensory dinner voyage, movies and sketches evaporate, as if we'd had no conversation at all.
Janah, "She has photographic forget, two minutes ago doesn't exist."
Nikko, "Might be a better world if we all had photographic forget."
After dinner, clean up and a bit of TV, Dasha decides I need to join she and Daria in a threesome. As I climb the steps behind them, Janah trails Eloise up the stairs to her room. I pop into Nikko's head, she's in bed with, wait...Chloe? Interesting, I get online through Amaya, she's standing in front of Zi, who is removing her t-shirt, then they kiss. As I begin to enjoy Daria's tight smoothosity, through Amaya’s eyes I see Zi on her knees, kissing Amaya's legs, working her way up to the target zone.
Appears mix and match has reemerged in the household. For a while, girls had generally coupled, Eloise started floating around, I never did go exclusive. It wasn't a rule one way or the other.
At least for tonight, they're back to expanding horizons.

Chapter Sixteen

Morning, yikes, what a lovely night, double teamed by twins, then double teaming each twin. Yes, Dasha and Daria are intimates, twincest. Who cares? It isn't like they make babies. And yes, it’s as erotic as you imagine.
Dasha and I are in the kitchen, a languid Sunday brunch seems in order. We have croissants and cut fruit to hold them while we concoct a more elaborate offering.
Janah, "What's the brunch menu? I want to anticipate."
Dasha, "Appetizing wiz stuff artichoke, then smoking salmon wiz capers, chop aig and ohnyon bits, caviar blini, peel shrimp, Alaska crab claw, vegetable hot and sour zoup, hummus, Greek salad, garlic bread. Dessert ees chiz cake wiz topping, cherry, strawberry or sour crim."
Janah's a vegetarian, thus the addition of the soup, hummus and Greek salad.
Eloise, "What is Greek salad?"
Dasha, "Regular salad wiz feta chiz, olives, we use Boscoli meex, best one, no vinegar."
Eloise, "That's what you use when you make those New Orleans sandwiches."
"Muffuletta, yes, with salami, ham, mortadella, provolone and mozzarella. We've also used the ingredients to make pizza."
Zi, "I love those things, can we have the sandwich or pizza soon? You have me hungry for it."
"Sure, sometime this week."
Girls go off, Nikko and Zi on the couch watching Sunday TV talking heads with Janah. Chloe decides to swim,
Amaya joins her to sit on the roof and soak a bit of sun. While Chloe swims, Oceane and Amaya are on lounge chairs, Oceane draws, Amaya is reading a book out loud in French and acting the characters. I look though Amaya's eyes, see the book, which is all she's wearing, then over the top I spot Oceane, who's dressed only in a sketch pad.
Dasha and I are preparing artichoke, slow simmering the soup, the rest of it is wrapped in the refrigerator ready to go.
Chloe takes a break, Oceane swims, then to showers, downstairs we're laying out warm stuffed artichoke. Amaya pours wine and champagne. Dasha and Daria must have chilled vodka neat with caviar or they forfeit their heritage, Eloise joins them. Zi and I are prohibited intoxicants, perhaps prohibited is wrong, we voluntarily vowed to refrain as Shaolin priests.
Janah, "I am a stuffed artichoke junkie," she strips a leaf with her teeth, garlicy bread crumbs, olive oil, oregano, parsley, romano cheese, we make ours a bit spicy with a teeny slight dusting of habanero powder, creamy artichoke from the leaves in the mix with the stuffing, yum.
Oceane has never tasted it, she examines the leaf covered in stuffing, plops it in her mouth, her eyes sparkle. She reaches for another. We made four, they never last long.
Amaya slips a leaf through her lips, I want to be that leaf, "Those are sensual, more wine anyone?"
She fills glasses without waiting for replies, Dasha and I clear, then lay out smoked salmon with the aforementioned sides, water crackers, small bowls of caviar, sour cream and blini right off the griddle.
"This is meant to be a several hour brunch, it is not required you park at the table. Find a spot, watch TV, go to the roof, listen to music if you wish."
Don't have to tell Oceane twice, she’s going upstairs and outside. Dasha helps her with a plate of salmon, and two blini with sour cream and caviar, "Go up, I will bring you something to drink"
Janah, "That sounds rather nice, sunny and seventy five, I'm going too."
Universal agreement the roof is the place to be, "Just take your plates, Dasha and I will bring wine and fresh glasses."
Amaya, "What about you and Dasha?"
"We've been nibbling all morning, enjoy the weather."
Dasha and I bring a tray of decanted Beaujolais, bottle of Gosset in a champagne bucket, Perrier, she pours a glass for Oceane over a spritz of lemon.
Oceane smiles gently, "Bubbles," she cuts a piece of salmon, Dasha sprinkles chopped egg, a couple of capers and a teensy bit of minced onion.
Must meet with her approval, she goes through three slices in between bites of blini.
Nikko, "Eloise, are you working on anything new?"
Eloise, "Nothing new, Daria and I are trying to improve the drone. Extend battery life, make it lighter because of all the attachments. We switched to titanium, doesn't improve the weight much, but it is a lot stronger. They are pretty much indestructible now, even the rotors."
Nikko, "Are they Daphne proof?"
"Very funny," I'd wrecked a couple early on and Nikko loves poking me about it.
"These would have to be run over or shot. The video downloads license plate numbers, addresses and any images directly to security databases. Anything relevant pops up on your IPad or android screen. We should have the new generation ready in a couple of weeks."
Zi, "Eloise, that's amazing."
She blushes, "Daria does all the database synchronization, I just build the hardware."
Zi, "Daria, I have no idea when you have the time."
Daria, "I tell Susan what I want, she writes program, we try it, fix bugs, sometimes her code is more efficient, sometimes mine, most of the time we work on it together. She sends code, I look at it and think of a change, or she does. I get message from Brazil, Argentina, then London or some other place. She does work while they fly around the world."
Nikko, "I assume none of this can be intercepted."
Daria, "VPN, encrypted, code is code, but we send it in different chunks. They would have to intercept all of them, then break encryption, which is different for each bit."
Chloe, "What's a VPN?"
Daria, "Virtual private network, not connected to us. If they were able to piece together the code, they still wouldn't know where it came from or who sent it. The NSA has all the databases already, we aren't doing anything they, or the Chinese, or the Indians or any other government can't do. Now, Janah does not have to call a contact for information about a target, if they are in a digital file someplace we can get it ourselves."
Janah, "We're our own NSA."
Nikko, "What a world."

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