Chapter Twenty Nine V
Chance jolts the harmony of conscious belief; relief from this dissonance is gained by imposing order over chaos, weaving a fabric of cause and effect out of a jumbled coincidence of random events. The mind accepts and emphasizes those coincidences which reaffirm the perceived order of the universe, ignores and forgets inconsistent data.
David McFadden, Dept. of Economics UC Berkeley
Janah, “What’s everyone up for today? I’d like to spend the day with Daphne and Nikko, work on mentaling for a while. Would we be insulting anyone if we disappeared into the woods for a few hours? There’s a patch of meadow about a mile out, in the direction we caught up to the hunters. It will be a beautiful place to sit and practice.”
Susan, “When did the breakthrough come?”
“During our visit to San Francisco. We were practicing qi skills. Nikko connected something I mentaled Janah. It’s still choppy. She hears us, but is still learning to transmit clearly.”
Susan says to Nikko, “It was painful for the girls at first.”
Chris, “I want to attempt the climb up the falls, anyone else game?”
Ning, “I’ll make lunch, moms and Lacy can rock climb. Husband will teach his children and Ning will meditate on the joys of her life.”
Lacy, “If Chris and Sis will get our gear together, I’ll help Ning.”
Plans made, we pack lunch and head east. It takes a bit longer for the others to get organized, but soon after they’re on the west trail up the mountain. Chan offers to carry Miyako, who is having none of it. She hops from rock to rock when she can.
Ning, “Janah said it is a challenging climb, not anything you are used to at this altitude.”
Chris, “Don’t worry. We’re beginners. We may go so slow we’ll bore ourselves to death, nobody here has anything to prove.”
They relax for a time and watch David Li’s friends begin to gather around. Ning parks on a big rock overlooking the pool at the bottom of the falls, finding her own silence.
The moms and Lacy begin their ascent.
Three miles away, Janah, Nikko and I are seated along the edge of a splendid meadow, wildflowers an explosion of color across the landscape.
Janah, “Next time, we have to bring K-mom. She will be completely inspired by the magnificent color.”
“Too bad she and dad couldn’t make it this trip. But we have to come back next spring, at least for a full week, no, two, and insist that she come. Our descriptions don’t do this scene justice.”
Nikko, “Dr. Roberts, too, will find inspiration.….change…scene...”
“Yes, he does need a change of scenery. Every conference he goes to is just another big hotel in another big city.”
Janah, “Our enthusiasm for her to come will persuade them.”
Nikko, “I am curious to see what it…. to her art.”
Janah, “Your transmission is getting clearer. We’re making progress.”
Nikko, “Let’s….read out….ake me…work…arder.”
“Good idea. Let’s try twenty yards in a triangle.”
While Nikko is pushing herself to transmit more clearly, Chris, Susan and Lacy are pushing themselves up a steep rock wall. Chris takes the lead, Lacy in between, Susan last. The wall isn’t so sheer as to require being roped together. But it’s steep enough and offers plenty of challenge.
Chris stops, breathing heavily, “Geez, I feel like an old lady, I’m huffing like a freight train, I thought I was in shape.”
Susan, twenty feet below says, between deep breaths, “You are in shape for sea level and taekwondo. Get your butt up the hill, I’m tired of dodging the rocks you break loose.”
Chris, “I’m moving, we’re better than half way.”
Ning is silent, cross-legged staring into the pool. Chan stands near as Miyako sails off one of the big rocks and flips onto her feet, then backwards, then forwards, then he teaches her to roll as she hits the hard ground. Her Aunt Nikko has taught her well. She has no fear of sailing through the air, landing on her feet after a flip, or on her hands and rolling backwards or forwards. After a time she tires, content to wander on the edge of the pool or explore the flowers. She falls asleep in the shade of the bolder she’d spent the morning launching herself from. David Li curls up near his sister. Chan eats and watches over his family. He can see the moms nearing the top of the cliff, Chris now climbing over the crest.
“Criminey,” Chris heaves as she pulls Lacy up, then Susan, “now that was a workout.”
Lacy plops down, Susan bends over hands on her knees, breathing deep and slow. Chris leans back against the slab of rock. The river, more a shallow creek really, maybe thirty feet wide, knee deep, runs past them in a rush over the edge.
Susan pulls off her shoes and sticks her feet in the icy water, “Awww Jesus, that feels soooo good.”
“Seems like a lot more than a hundred feet. I wonder how deep the pool is, seems easier just to jump from here than climb back down.”
“Janah said the pool is twenty feet deep, but you’d have to hit the spot about three feet out from where the waterfall hits. That would be simple enough, but remember, the water is still near freezing down there.
‘”Oh, I have no intention of doing it. It would be a heck of a lot quicker than climbing back down. And going down doesn’t look much easier than going up.”
Lacy, “I won’t have any trouble sleeping tonight.”
Sis laughs, “You don’t have any trouble sleeping anyway. Give you an orgasm and you’re out for the count.”
Lacy, “One reason I keep a drawer full of toys. When my sex partners aren’t available,” she adopts a Scarface accent, “ I say hello to my leetle friends.”
They enjoy the view for an hour, refreshed, the three women begin the descent. It’s harder than it looks, and they find themselves more likely to slip or skid. Halfway down, Chris, dislodges a rock, her foot slips and she tumbles, landing with a thump sideways against a bolder. Lacy and Sis make their way down, find her groaning against the bolder, conscious at least. Chan had seen the fall. He scrambles up in half the time it had taken the moms. Chris has a few scrapes, a cut on her elbow and a fat bruise on her left rib cage. Chan pokes it gently, nothing broken.
Susan, “How do we get her down?”
Chris, “I can make it. It’s just bruised ribs, the rest of it is nothing.”
Chan, “Lacy and Susan first. Chris will follow me, we will go slowly. I don’t want loose rocks coming at us from above, better if you two go to the bottom first.
Susan, “But what if she can’t hold on?”
Chan, “Then I will hold on for both. While you descend, I will make the ribs cold. It will be fine, no problems.”
Chris, “See, no problems. Now get going, I’ll see you in a few minutes.”
Susan and Lacy are at the bottom in another twenty minutes. It takes Chan twice that to lead Chris down.
After another hour’s rest, they pack up and hike back to the cabin.
Were already there, I hear them coming, “Someone is hurt, I think it’s C-mom. Her walk is heavy, and slow.”
Janah, “Make a place for her on floor, and build a fire. It’s getting chilly out. I’ll fetch the medicines.”
After showers, there are three women stretched out in front of the fire in shorts and t-shirts, Nikko and I work on stiff legs, Janah applies iodine to Chris’ scrapes then bandages. Two frozen gel packs on the bruised ribs, Chris lays on her uninjured side. Janah alternates gel packs for an hour, Chris not quite asleep, not fully awake. Lacy and Susan recount the story, weary and hungry.
I heat vegetable soup and we eat around the fire. Chris’ purple ribs turn a light pink, the bruising has subsided.
Chris, “That’s nothing short of a miracle,” looking down at her rapidly healing injury.
Janah, “Good thing you know how to fall and roll or you might have had to have Chan carry you down the hill.”
“The rock I was braced against just popped loose, my foot went out with it and gravity did the rest.”
Miyako, “Aunt Daphne would have just flown down.”
“That’s telling ‘em baby. Isn’t she just the smartest thing?”
Susan rolls her eyes, “Fortunately, I know she is also smarter than that.”
I laugh, pick up Miyako, “Time for flying girls to go to bed, Aunt Daphne is tired and I see sleepy eyes in beautiful Miyako.”
Miyako yawns, and lays her head on my shoulder. I take her to bed, cover her and return to the living room.
Aunt Daphne wasn’t fudging, “If no one needs anything, I’m checking out. Working all day with Nikko has my brain fried.”
Lacy, “Yes, I’ll wait until breakfast to hear how the mentaling went. It must have done something, I don’t recall seeing you three so wasted from a day of just sitting. Obviously there is much more than just sitting.”
Janah, “One more coat of liniment for C-mom and we’re done. Everyone will smell like the woods and camphor. At least there won’t be any runny noses.”
We head to the bedrooms. After brush and flush, no one moves a sore body or brain for eight hours.
Next morning, I make breakfast with Ning while Nikko plays with the kids in front of the fireplace. Janah is still sleeping, and the moms show no signs of life. Chan is out on the dock.
Nikko and I practice simple mentaling.
“You slept well.”
“I slept like the dead.”
“How’s the head?’
“No pain, not like yesterday. There’s still a throb when I transmit.”
Switch to regular talk, “You spent most of yesterday working in transmission. It will take months. It took J and I over a year to get clear. Then another year for subtleties. Then several years to become one mind in totality. Good thing you’re patient.”
“Your hands look better, not like claws.”
“While we worked yesterday, I stretched them, twisted the fingers. It helped. Janah pads in, “Tea, lots of tea, and sugar, lots of sugar.”
I hand her a mug of green with yerba mate and five chunks of cane sugar.
“This retreat is going to need some actual retreat time. You know, where we aren’t actually doing much.”
Nikko, “Today Nikko sits on the dock, watch moms fish, no climbing, no work please.”
David Li meets a moose, several families of marmosets and squirrels, a falcon pair and a hawk. He rides into the woods on the moose’s back, they make a mile circle and he drops David off near his mother. In the meantime Miyako climbs every tree in the vicinity, and makes short leaps from branch to branch. Occasionally she misjudges and comes crashing to the ground, skinned up, Ning dabs it with a wet towel, gives her a drink of water, then back up again.
The fish are abundant, crappie, walleye and trout. The moms finally start releasing them, plenty enough for dinner and breakfast. They eat lunch and, instead of fishing, walk along the perimeter of the lake.
Susan, “Where are Daphne and Nikko?”
Ning, “They headed deeper into the forest. I think Daphne wanted to look for more edibles, also burdock, and gentian. She likes the bitter taste for her soups. I suspect tonight, along with fish, we will have herb soup, and she is inventing new teas as well. She found chicory root the other day, ground it up and toasted it. That’s the extra strong flavor you’ve been getting in the coffee. She says it lowers blood sugar and reduces inflammation.”
At that moment, Nikko and I aren’t exactly looking for plants. We’d filled a couple of bags with plants, now sit together under, a tree, just to relax. One kiss leads to another. Then we’re naked under the tree, exploring a different bit of wildlife.
Chapter Thirty V
Miyako is becoming a young parkour expert, although she doesn’t realize she’s participating in a sport of any kind.
Janah calls her a traceuse, French for a female participant. Traceuses, men are traceurs, say that parkour also influences their thought processes by enhancing self-confidence and critical-thinking skills that allow them to overcome everyday physical and mental obstacles. It’s derived from the French verb tracer, which may mean to trace, but also means ‘to go fast.’
Nikko creates a story, a brother and his sister, a traceuse. When they grow up they track the ignorant ones, help the helpless.
Miyako, “Aunt Nishiko is telling us our future brother.”
David Li, “Perhaps she is, my sister. Our destiny is not much in our hands, mostly circumstances and luck. That is later, now is now.”
Miyako, “Do you not wish to know your destiny now?”
David Li, “Why?”
Miyako and her brother stare out to the mountain across the lake. She is coming to understand even as a child, perhaps because she is a child, plans are fine, but no amount of planning can deal with the unknown. And if a thing is known, then there is nothing to plan for, or I should say the plan becomes obvious.
The moms trudge into the house, looking for warm showers and big glasses of full bodied cabernet. Ning toasts bread with snippets of cheese, fills bowls with berries, dusts them with cane sugar for dessert. I grill a pan of mushrooms with olive oil, set out a bowl of grated parmesan and another of nuts. That will hold them until I get the fish sizzling. With that, I’m adding fried potatoes and soup from the plant concoctions I’d been boiling.
Lacy, “God the shower felt good. Now a big glass of red and Ning’s snack bar. And fresh fried fish for dinner. Can we just live up here forever? I could sell the school.”
“You would go nuts without the craziness of Chapmans.”
Lacy, “Of course, and you three would go crazy without the temple, the diner and the Jamaicans. Plus the Epsteins, and the work.”
“And the cart guy, and MOMA, Master Kim, Black and Sonia and the RSGs.”
Chris, “I guess that means we’re going back home.”
Janah is just in from another galaxy, or all the galaxies, or the outer edge beyond galaxies, “Food would be good, and tea please, Daphne. Jasmine if there’s any left. What a day! I’d love to tell you where I was, but I was everywhere, so it would take too long, and I was nowhere, so there is nothing to tell.”
Miyako, “What does she mean, Aunt Nikko?”
“When you fly, are you on the branch you left?”
“And before you land, are you on the branch you are headed to?”
Miyako, “No, I’m just in the air.”
Nikko, “And how does it feel, when you are just in the air?”
Miyako is thoughtful, then said, “I am weightless, and totally free.”
Nikko, “That’s where Janah spent the day.”
Miyako is silent, she curls up against Nikko.
After dinner, we take in the infinite star show, strung out along the porch. Nikko, Janah and I go to the dock and sit cross legged next to each other. Lacy and the moms on the steps, Chan and Ning together, Miyako and David Li on a blanket in front of them, quickly asleep. Ning covers them with a second blanket and snuggles in next to her husband.
Susan gasps, hand to her mouth. On the dock, there is one body sitting cross legged, not three.
Chris, “Yes, I see it. My mind doesn’t want to believe it. But my eyes see one person.”
Lacy bites her lip gently, holds Susan’s hand, “How little we understand.”
They hear Chan say softly behind them, “Two as one, three as one, all are one.”
Chapter Thirty One V
Mrs. Epstein, “My goodness. I thought you were on retreat. Now Daphne has this new skill and eagle sight and the moms are rock climbing, and Miyako is doing, what’s that French thing?”
Mrs. Epstein, “Bernie, have you heard about this business of leaping around from banisters, to walls, benches in the park, everything is an obstacle to be hurdled? Have I got it right?”
Janah nods, Dr. Epstein, “The emergency room gets its share of players. Usually broken arms, or cracked elbows. But there are a fair share of knee injuries, a broken ankle now and again. It’s not deadly, except the extreme players. They like to leap from building to building. Occasionally they don’t make it.”
Mrs. Epstein, “How far can one fall before the body can’t take the impact?”
Janah, “Velocity is the square root of two gh. Time is the square root of two h divided by g. where h is the height, the distance the object falls, and g is the gravitational acceleration, which is 32 feet/sec/sec. From these formulas, an object would take 1.8 seconds to fall 51 feet, and would be traveling 57 feet per second or 40 miles per hour when it hits. Enough to kill you, naturally depending on age, how you land, what you land on. A pile of garbage in a dumpster might cushion the impact, but it might also impale you on a broken mop handle. Forty feet onto concrete, the answer is obvious.”
Dr. Epstein, “Yes, everything depends on the angle of impact, what they land on, both the surface and what body part.”
Mrs. Epstein, “And people do this on purpose?”
Janah, “Nikko and Daphne care for and respect the other. They also beat the bejesus out of each other regularly. Miyako gets her dopamine kick from the risk. It’s how she’s built. She has a form of Daphne’s natural proprioception and fearlessness. To deny her this would be like denying Daphne martial arts.”
Dr. Epstein, “Martha, you send your most beloved girls out on missions to deal with psychopaths, wouldn’t spend too much time fretting over Chan’s child. Besides, if he thought there was a problem, it wouldn’t happen.”
Janah, “I’m sure Ning wishes she’d taken up piano or chess, maybe gymnastics. She might get tired of it. If she gets a significant injury, then she’ll have to find something else to do. She’s a proficient linguist already. She knows English, Chinese, significant Japanese and is bugging me to teach her Spanish. I don’t have the time, she can go to Chapmans language lab, and lots of the students speak Spanish.”
Mrs. Epstein, “Crimminy, how old is she, five?”
Janah, “Nearly six. It’s a good time to be learning languages. A terrible time to be risking a head injury. Chan watches, and her brother David acts like he isn’t paying attention but when she stumbles, he’s there as quickly as Chan. She wears a bicycle helmet and elbow guards. Although she spent part of her time at the retreat falling out of trees. We went through a lot of iodine, band aids and gel packs.”
Mrs. Epstein, “Sounds like your everyday life.”
“There was lots of time just taking in nature. It was a good blend of calm and exhaustion.”
“And are you ready for a new challenge?”
“Always. By the way… ” Janah explains that Nikko was mentaling now as well.
Dr. Epstein, “I suspect it’s far more complicated than when you and Daphne were young, more pliable minds.”
“Yes. Fortunately, Nikko has a vast capacity for the tedious. She’s been training for a long time. She is required to keep her promise to Daphne.”
Mrs. Epstein, “Which is?”
“She must take it slowly and speak up if she is tired, just like Daphne made Manolo promise. We could tell of course, but she doesn’t press. When she has had enough, she says so.”
Dr. Epstein, “I hope to understand this one day.”
“It’s almost more fun not understanding. If we found out we have unique little nodules on our prefrontal cortex, or an fMRI revealed the cingulate gyrus was active, but the amygdala not, what would we really know? Obviously some part of the brain is processing.”
“Still, James and I spend hours trying to figure it out. But that’s our fun.”
Mrs. Epstein, “I’m delighted everyone is enjoying themselves. There’s a problem to be handled. When do you want to begin?”
Chapter Thirty Two V
Mrs. Epstein, “How would you like a trip to Phoenix?”
Janah, “Well, It’s freezing in Manhattan, got to be a little warmer in Phoenix.”
Mrs. Epstein, “This one may take a while, the protagonist in our little dilemma is unknown to us.”
“Sounds like a replay of Dallas.”
Mrs. Epstein, “Yes, raping lesbians for Jesus. This one is different, no evidence of rape. Not sure of the motivation. We’re frankly not sure of much of anything.”
Janah, “Let’s stick with what you are sure of, then move on from there.”
“There are six missing children over the course of eighteen months. Four girls and two boys. There appears to be no connection between any of the children. There was no custody problem, no divorced parent who may have taken any of them. The children simply vanished.”
Janah, “Why Phoenix? I presume they were all from the area, one common thread.”
Mrs. Epstein, “Yes. But Phoenix isn’t exactly located conveniently in one ten square mile spot, it’s a muddle of suburbs, spread out over miles. New York City is four hundred seventy square miles, Phoenix is near twelve hundred. New York has just under twenty eight thousand people per square mile, Phoenix has two hundred fifty. Their tallest building is only forty stories, a dwarf compared to Manhattan. They grew out, not up.”
Janah, “So, Phoenix is a starting point, but the children have disappeared in a wide swath of cities, suburbs and desert.”
Mrs. Epstein, “Exactly. Draw a two hundred mile circle around Phoenix and you encompass the area where the children disappeared.”
Janah, “And you have some reason to believe they are all related?”
Mrs. Epstein, “Four of the children are between twelve and fourteen, two girls, eight and ten. All of them went to public schools, none of the parents are rich or particularly well connected. All of the families are, were, intact, both parents at home, four families have two working parents, two have one, those have stay at home moms. The girls and one boy are Caucasian, one boy half Latino, mom is from El Salvador.”
Janah, “Then where’s the thread? The Society must have come up with some commonality by now, and where are the police?”
Mrs. Epstein smiled, “Stumbling around. Different jurisdictions, same state. The state police have taken over the case, the sheriff in Maricopa county, the bulk of the territory, is busy hassling Hispanics and issuing speeding citations over the miles of highways. There’s no evidence, no theme, no bodies, no regularity. Of course other children have disappeared during this time. Most of those were custody battles, one was taken by a known sex offender; he has alibis for the times it is believed the other children disappeared.”
Janah, “So the cops have overlooked something, or consider the pattern to be coincidental, there are long lists of missing kids. There’s bound to be some pattern. The Society knows that too, so there must be something else, or we wouldn’t be sending Social Work resources out to Phoenix.”
Mrs. Epstein, “We looked into the matter. All the children have two siblings, one of each sex. That means there’s a boy and a girl left in each family. One younger and one older. There is no identifiable pattern to whether the brother or the sister is the older or younger sibling. In each case, the child taken is the middle child.”
“So the family had to have children with a combination of kids at least one of which was younger than eight, and another of which is older than fourteen., with either, in birth order, GGB, BGG, GBB, or BBG. We can rule out GGG, BBB, BGB and GBG.”
Mrs. Epstein, “Very good. And there are no families with more than three children, and, to make it more interesting, no families with step-children. Both parents are the biological parents.”
Janah, “That’s dicey, up to a quarter of kids are not really the children of both parents. Mom fooled around, a kid came along, she kept it to herself, but it isn’t really daddy’s child. That’s just an aside, obviously the parents involved either were truly birth parents or daddy’s in the dark. So how many families in a one hundred mile radius of Phoenix meet the criteria?”
Mrs. Epstein, “That, my dear, is exactly what we are trying to determine.”
Nikko, “If you haven’t figured it out yet, how did the bad guy figure it out? That’s a lot of stalking. He must have access to some kind of database.”
Mrs. Epstein, “Of course. And that’s how we’re going to find him.”
Janah, “Broadly speaking, about thirty five percent of households have biological children under eighteen. Around seven percent have three children. So with a million households, that’s three hundred fifty thousand with a child, and twenty four thousand with three kids.”
Nikko, “Of that number, how many have exactly three children, which have at least one boy and one girl as the oldest and the youngest?
Janah, “If we say that there are eight possible combinations of children, there are only four of the eight that qualify. It’s oversimplification but based on all this general math, we have one half of twenty four thousand, twelve thousand families with three children in the right birth order. If we are right about our age range, then the total is less than twelve thousand, still a lot.”
Nikko, “Why can’t the cops get all this information? Including who has access to it?”
Janah, “What would they do with thousands of names? Our abductor has to find three children families, with a boy and a girl at the long and short end, then abduct the middle child. He’s either got access to a very detailed database, or he’s got an enormous amount of time to follow eight to fourteen year old children around and checkout their siblings.”
Nikko, “No way. We’re looking for someone in the system, the census bureau, an actuary, insurance, social services.”
Mrs. Epstein, “Or someone very high up in the food chain who can ask for all sorts of arcane data with impunity. I mean, who asks for all families with the parameters we’re looking at and doesn’t raise suspicion?”
Janah, “Besides the bureaucrats, only academics. For instance, a social psychologist claiming to be doing research on larger families, or middle children. He, or she, wouldn’t have to specifically ask for the ages and sex of the children. Once they had the data, if there were names included, then it’s just the tedium of finding families that meet the parameters. That narrows down the following around. Sooner or later, they come up with what they’re looking for. Still, that doesn’t help much. The police no doubt know, or will soon figure out the same thing we have. Someone asking for names and other personal data would instantly make himself suspicious.”
“Maybe they use Facebook.”
Janah, “You know, Daph, that’s not a bad idea. Create a Facebook account and see if there’s a group that talks about being the middle child.
Mrs. Epstein, “Okay, we’re making progress. The Society can track down the people who are most likely to have access to the data. We can do it more quietly than the authorities. If someone in an official capacity starts asking questions, it could drive our target to ground.”
Janah, “Yes, and he’s clearly got patience. It’s six abductions over eighteen months. Maybe there are some we don’t know about. But considering the complications of his search, it is more likely it’s just taking time to find the right mix. An almost more important question is obvious.”
Nikko, “Yeah. Why a middle child with a brother and a sister on either side?
It might be simpler to examine the psychology of that than to track him from the data.”
“I think we let Janah worry about the why, and the Society worry about who the likely targets are. You and I will worry about how to slice and dice this asshole when we find him.”
Nikko, “You have, as usual, organized and simplified the problem. Master J and Society will figure out who, then Daphne and Nikko will compost him.”
Mrs. Epstein, “Then let’s get busy.”
Janah wants to mull it over, bring her questions and observations to her father and Dr. Epstein. In the meantime, maybe the Society can narrow down the possibilities, hopefully under a couple dozen. Then it would be legwork to find out which of them couldn’t have done it, leaving the ones who could. Not an easy task, but getting manageable.
This is the part Janah likes, why would someone go to all this trouble? Abducting eight to fourteen year olds isn’t that hard. In a town like Phoenix, surrounded by miles of desert, disposing of bodies is fairly easy. Picking out middle children in families with three children, limiting that to children with older and younger siblings, one of each gender, that is some curious psychology. What would drive someone to be that specific?
And who has access to that data.? Social workers have data from families who are in the social services system for one reason or another. No missing children fell in that group.
“Well, there’s thirty four hundred results for middle child on Facebook, several groups, the biggest with twelve hundred members. Ask Mrs. Epstein to find out if the missing kids have Facebook accounts, or if their siblings do. There seems to be a fair amount of whining about being the middle child based on a cursory look through Facebook and other sites. I’m wondering if our boy has tapped into this reservoir, maybe not through Facebook, but some chat room or networking site.”
Janah, “Most of the verifiable research doesn’t support a middle child syndrome, that the one in the middle is left out, overlooked or otherwise seen as lesser. Other research appears to be the ‘finding what we look for’ kind, not very reliable.”
Nikko, “That doesn’t mean that the kid doesn’t latch onto it as an excuse to be resentful or manipulate.”
Janah, “Good point. And that opens up the possibility of someone infiltrating these groups. He doesn’t really need to know much, where they live, or where they go to school. There are lots of ways to figure out who is who. Asking the kid what his dad does for a living, or mom, or their hobbies, what kind of car they have. It could sound like innocent conversation, but give our abductor enough information to locate the kid he’s looking for.”
“Okay, the Society can play around in Facebook and create a middle child persona in the Phoenix area. See if anyone turns up to be a ‘friend.’ They can also unleash their folks to see if there’s anything like a specialist who deals in insecure middle children, a psychologist, psychiatrist, some other sort of therapist, a self esteem or life coach, some crap like that. In a metro area of four million, there must be a wad of people who do that sort of thing.”
Janah, “Good idea. Let’s let them start there and see if any common threads or names appear. A therapist who abducted kids that were referred to him would be incredibly stupid.”
Nikko, “Lots of people are incredibly stupid, like most of the people we refocus.”
Janah shrugs, “Can’t argue with that.”