Chapter Twenty Nine
Janah, “I see you explored the mysteries of Soho.”
“Small mysteries only, Amaya thinks Soho overrated, never takes clients there. We got a couple pairs of jeans for the kids and two pairs of shoes, not particularly expensive. She’s going to take them to mid-town and surrounds for their fall and winter stuff. I’m sure she can jack up the spending then.”
Janah, “Since we uncovered Dmitri. The Society is giving us the cash they managed to peel out of his accounts, if he had cash or gold stashed at his home, we didn’t have time to look for it. They took what Rose had. It will be in trust for the kids who won’t be going back to their families. Some of it will be used for the ones who do, they will need medical or psychiatric treatment. The Society will see they get good therapists, not psychobabble dopes interested in keeping the kid in sessions forever.”
“Good enough, what did the Rose count finally come out to?”
“A shade over four million, they can sell the house for a million, the house where the kids were kept for three hundred grand, the bordello may be another million, it’s a big place.”
“Dmitri have much?”
Janah, “Fifteen, they found he had a significant drug business on the side.”
“Sheesh, it just keeps stacking up.”
Janah, “I want to talk to our investment girl about that. I think we should buy a place, not here, in the west, where the kids from these situations can live. I can send monks, they can have a farm, horses, chickens, home school, between the internet and the monks, they’ll be as well educated as anyplace else, probably better. We send them through college if they want to go. What do you think?”
“I only think the same thing you think, so does Nishiko. It’s a great idea, we have to be out of it, of course.”
“We’ll run it through the temple, it will be a Shaolin program. I’m thinking close to the mountains, the kids learn to ski, camp, white water raft, the whole schmear.”
While Janah and I have been talking, Chloe and Amaya have the girls touring the temple. Meditation is in progress, Janah is going to talk to the monks.
“Amaya, bring the girls to the meditation hall, take seats in back, Janah has a short talk for the monks, then we’ll go home, please call for a car, it’s already six thirty, I don’t want to walk back.”
By the time Janah and I enter the meditation hall, the girls are seated cross legged on pillows. Janah walks to the front, the brass bell rings, meditation is over. From my spot on her left, it’s easy to tell the monks are pleased to see their Abbess.
Janah, “Monks of Shaolin, I apologize for my absence, there is much work out in the world, it is our duty to attend to it, relieve suffering, aid the innocent. Your education, the hours you spend on gung fu, are not just for exercise. If it is not used to relieve suffering, it has no meaning.
I have a short announcement. Our temple is undertaking a new project. As many of you know, there are people in the world who abuse children, both personal violence and for sexual gratification. All of it is ignorance, and we meditate for an end to their ignorance. That is not enough. We must also remove the innocent and insure the abuser is not free to abuse again. Not every monk is suited to such work, it is not required. There is other, equally valuable work, to care for, educate and nurture the abused child. We cannot free them only to abandon them, our temple has resources and we are obliged to help. Therefore, we will be providing a place for children of abuse, to be safe, cared for, educated. We have not yet decided where, it will be in the west, a place with lots of land, a farm, horses, as self sufficient as we can make it. I am asking that disciples with three or more years in the temple, or any masters so inclined, to consider this opportunity. You will be required to set an example, teach, work hard on the farm, watch over young hearts and minds. Do not concern yourself if you know nothing of crops or animals. You will be taught. We need your dedication, your compassionate spirit. Disciples considering the priesthood may apply as well. It does not affect your advancement, it will not speed it up or slow it down. A minimum one year commitment is required, monks may choose to stay on subsequently, return to the temple or elsewhere in the world. For now, that’s all I can say, it’s all I know. We will talk of it again in a month. In the meantime, if you have questions, put them on the website, if you wish to commit, there will be a place on the site to sign on. If you have suggestions, please make them. Thank you for your diligence and patience.”
She stands and bows, we leave the hall, a car is waiting. I call Marconi’s on the way to pick up Nikko and Zi. The pizza is waiting when we get to Chapmans.
Nell, the Paladin Security guard on duty, says, “Delivery for you, smells great.”
“Hi Nell, there’s an everything in the stack for you guys, enjoy,” I pull out the box and leave it for them, there are always two security guards at the school, a couple of slices helps move the shift along.
We’re having pizza around the table, Dasha and Daria like pepperoni, there’s a veg, and one with mushroom and anchovies. Dasha takes a slice of that, decides anchovies are a good thing, she likes caviar after all.
“I could put caviar on the pizza, what do you think?”
I fetch the jar, she takes a fork and dumps a small pile on a slice of her pepperoni, takes a bite, “Gud.”
Janah, “Nino’s in mid-town sells a caviar pizza for a thousand dollars.”
“It has six different gourmet caviars, has to be ordered twenty four hours in advance. He says the caviar is almost nine hundred of the cost.”
“Guess he uses the primo kind. I’ll settle for ours, I get this from Amazon, Season brand capelin caviar, sometimes I go to Zabar’s.”
Nikko, “I understand the Shaolin are buying a, what, ranch, farm?”
Janah, “I haven’t figured it out exactly, I need to talk to Mrs. Epstein. We got a lot of cash from the last job and we don’t need it for anything. Since we shouldn’t be directly involved, I thought the Shaolin could take some of the money and buy or build a place for kids we rescue with no family to return to. I think near the mountains, Rockies, there would be a farm for edibles, perhaps horses, chickens, semi self-sustaining. Kids can get caught up in work, taking care of animals, and proceed with their education out of the glare of abused child and all the treatments and therapies. Monks will run it, good training for them, everyone works, has responsibilities, when they are ready we send them to college or a vocational school.”
Zi, “That’s a good idea, are there enough kids?”
“If there are six or seven, that’s a start. That’s why I want to talk to Mrs. Epstein, I don’t know how many they’re juggling now. The Shaolin accounts are using only part of the annual earnings, the principal just sits there, our own money is absurd, it needs to be doing something useful.”
Nikko shifts to mental, “How much came from Dmitri?”
Janah, “Almost fifteen. The Society thinks we should have it, we uncovered him and dealt with him, they got the money from Rose to help defray expenses for the other kids. I’m keeping four for Dasha and Daria, you can invest that in something, a million or so to the Sylk Trust, the rest to the Shaolin account. I’m sure we can set up for two million, that leaves an eight mil operating budget.”
Nikko, “That’s healthy, it won’t last forever though.”
“There will be more work, we’ll be draining accounts from targets we haven’t met yet. The Shaolin need to put their cash to work in something besides investments, we don’t need a bigger temple, I don’t want to create another one. The Society is sitting on money as well and it will be children the Society rescues that will benefit. They’re spending money now while the kids are in a holding pattern of foster care. This is no more expensive and far less complicated.”
Chloe and Amaya get the girls into sleep shirts, they pile on the mat to watch television, propped up on pillows in a line of four, Amaya, Dasha, Daria, Chloe, some animated princess movie for our four princesses.
It’s only nine, Janah calls Mrs. Epstein, “Not too late?”
Mrs. Epstein, “Not at all. Bernie has retired to his office for a cigar, I’m sitting with him enjoying a glass of wine.”
Janah outlines her idea, Mrs. Epstein says, “Just the other evening, we had a conference call with our counterparts to discuss the children. We’re still dealing with some of the ones from California, Arizona and now Texas. We aren’t happy with all the foster homes, and it is burdensome tracking them. I presume you figured this out.”
Janah, “It was pretty obvious, but I had never asked how the process was going. So you think this may be a help?”
“It’s a tremendous help, perhaps even the solution. What we have now won’t be the end. Your thoughts of only six or seven is off by three times.”
“There are twenty kids still being shuffled around?”
“More, some of the foster homes are suitable, but I’d prefer to have all the kids in better environments and with some sense of permanent. They are not prime choices for adoption, they have the constant shuffle of foster care.”
Janah, “The Shaolin will buy the property and build or remodel, Dmitri is paying for that and we think maybe six to eight million will be left over for operating. There is no cost to monks but room and board, some spending money, it will be Shaolin property, no tax.”
Mrs. Epstein, “Operating expenses are not a problem. Do you want us to find a place?”
“Your connections are better than mine, and we need to know what, if any, legal paperwork needs to be done, state inspections, approvals, blah, blah.”
“We’ll cut through that. Are you ready to move on it?”
“Let me check the Shaolin site, I gave them time to think it over, I hope some are interested, hang on.”
Janah taps away, one of the monks added the page for Janah’s proposal, there was a sign up page, and already a list.
“Embarrassment of riches, either our monks can’t wait to get out of the temple, or they just like the idea.”
Mrs. Epstein laughs, “Well, they don’t voluntarily leave, so they must like the life, I suspect it is out of regard for their Abbess and the clear value of the work. This is a splendid opportunity to apply Buddhism in actual practice and much to experience they can’t in Manhattan.”
“I just hope we have some experienced monks left.”
“They can’t all go at once, you can rotate them, everyone gets a shot, but no requirement to stay on forever.”
“That was part of my pitch, it’s a one year commitment, they can return or stay. I figure for twenty kids, we need at least six monks, I have three years worth on the list and we haven’t contacted the ones out of the temple, there are hundreds after all this time.”
Mrs. Epstein, “I’ll get started tomorrow, property off the grid but not miles from nowhere, mountain country with fertile land. We’ll handle legals, the details of operation are yours.”
“When can you travel?”
“If it’s a two or three person job, anytime, I can also send Chan or Black, or both. Chloe, Amaya and Daphne need to be with the girls until they’ve settled in. I don’t go anywhere without Daphne, so I stay too.”
“There will be a couple of items on the site soon, check in tomorrow or the next.”
They click off, the girls are asleep on the floor, Amaya mentals, “Daph, just bring us a blanket, the mats are comfortable enough, I don’t want to wake them.”
I bring a big comforter, Chloe and Amaya take turns doing bathroom things then settle back in.
Janah and I lay in bed, I put thoughts in her head, “Think I might get lucky tonight?”
“I think of it as me getting lucky,” she slides between my legs, does what she does, does it well, I do my part, have a lovely lesgasm and float in a sea of dopamine.
Chapter Thirty One
We’re up early, Janah reviews the Society website while I crank up caffeinated beverages, I look over to see a little blond head peeking over Amaya, Dasha pops up, goes to the bathroom, I hear tooth brushing, good for her.
Then she’s at my side, “What for ees break-fast?”
“What would you like, how about pancakes?”
“Pahncakes are what?”
“Take this tea to Janah, come and make your own, I’ll get the mix.”
She takes the cup to Janah, gets a kiss on the cheek and a thank you, back to me. She pulls over a stool, climbs up. I measure out mix in a big bowl, explain how much milk and how many eggs. I hand her the measuring cup.
“Okay, this is a two cup measuring cup, see, it says one cup, then the line for two. It’s marked by quarter cups, one forth, one half, you see?”
“That’s yes in Russian, yes?”
“Da, yes,” when she says it, it sounds like yayus, I love her accent, she pronounces my name Dahfoney, long ‘o’, like oh.
“See how many eggs for two cups of mix? Two. We will make three cups of mix. If we use two eggs for two cups,” I’m using my fingers to count, “and we make one more cup, then we need one more egg.”
We go through the process like that, one cup of milk for two cups of mix, so one half cup of milk for one cup of mix. She can do the numbers well enough, it’s reading the English off the box I’m working on.
She adds the extra cup of mix, the milk, cracks the three eggs into the mixture like a pro, no language barrier in egg breaking.
Finally, I take a half stick of butter and put it in the mix, “Butter will make the pancakes fluffier,” I’m pushing my hands together trying to give her an idea of fluffy.
I give her two knives, “Cut the butter into small bits and stir it in.
She slices, stirs, I’m frying ham in one skillet, pork sausage in the other. Nikko pours herself a cup of coffee, Zi is getting tea, pours cups for the others. The griddles are hot, we can make eight pancakes at a time, I have the oven warm to hold them until we’re done.
“I’ll ladle out the first pancake, then you make others the same size.”
I’ve noticed how intensely the girls watch, Dasha is focused like we’re handling plutonium.
I point to the griddle, “One, two three, then four more on the next griddle.”
She gets the size right, doesn’t spill a drop of batter.
I hand her the spatula and a platter, “They will go on this.”
She asks, “Turn like blini?”
She blinks at me, “Yayus.”
I hear Janah giggle.
I point to the pancake, “Little bubbles, almost ready to turn,” I do a flipping motion.
I take her hand with the spatula, guide it under the pancake, lift it just enough to see the color, “Brown, see? Okay turn.”
She flips the pancake, the others are ready, flips those, we stare at them together, she slides the spatula under one, takes a peek, not there yet, I go back to ham and sausage, turn sausages, flip the ham. She has the first cakes off and is carefully spooning out batter for the next round. I slide the platter into the oven.
She’s caught on to the process, and by the time I have the table set, warm maple and cane syrup, a platter of ham and sausage, she sets the platter of pancakes on the table.
Chloe and Amaya demonstrate the art of syrup, not to drown the cakes, dig in.
Zi, “Thank you Dasha, these are good, light and fluffy.”
Dasha, “Buhter ees fluffy.”
Janah explains, Zi says, “I was wondering.”
Chloe, “Vesnushki is very happy, perfect pancakes, Dasha, blagodaryu vas.”(Thank you)
“Dobro pozhalovatʹ.” (You are welcome.)
Nikko, “I got thank you and you’re welcome, what is vesnushki?”
Nikko, “Better than freckles.”
Janah is laughing, “When did this happen?”
“When we were on the roof, Amaya called Chloe freckles, Daria changed it. We are under orders to stick with the adjusted nomenclature.”
Daria, “What is nomenclature?”
Daria, serious as always, “How is spelled?”
Janah corrects, to nomen-clachure.
Daria, “Ees no pronounce like spell?”
Janah, “No, many English words are like that, but so are Russian words, vesnushki for instance is vez nosh key uh.”
Daria goes back to sausage.
I tell Dasha, pointing to the empty platter, “Your pancakes were a hit.”
Dasha, “Why hit pancakes?”
Amaya laughs, “No dear one, hit means they like them. Like a song is a hit record.”
Daria translates, Dasha says, “English strange.”
Janah, “Da, English strange.”
We’ve wiped out breakfast, I stand to clear plates, Dasha starts helping, “I wash.”
“I’m happy to help.”
Dasha looks up, a serious young lady, “I wash, you go,” she starts collecting plates and cups and stacking them on the counter
Amaya steps in, “Dasha, rinse here,” she rinses a plate,” put it in here,” opens the dishwasher,” this does the cleaning,” she points to plates, cups, silverware, the mixing bowl and measuring cups, “these in here,” she points to the griddle, and skillets, “These no, wash in the sink.”
Amaya takes out the dishwasher soap, “This one,” pointing to the box, “is for this,” she pours the cups full of the crystals, “This one,” she picks up the dish liquid, “is for the sink. Never put this one, in the dishwasher,” points to the liquid, then to the dishwasher, with a no-no wave of her finger.
Dasha nods, busies herself with rinsing and stacking dishes in the washer, Amaya helps her get the stuff assorted properly, then closes the door and shows her what buttons to press. Dasha has a handle on the wash in the sink part, Amaya leaves her alone.
Daria is on the couch with Chloe, “Dasha likes cooking, clean. You will see.”
Chloe, “So does Daphne. With our big family, it is nice of her to help, Daphne does all the cooking.”
“Read English now.”
Chloe sets her up on the laptop, they start in on street signs, directions, headlines in newspapers, Daria soaks it up for an hour.
“Enough, I will help sister.”
Chloe vacates her spot for Dasha, the soft voices of the twins float through the apartment, hesitant English, Russian explanation, more English. I watch from the dining table, they are so gentle with each other, Dasha isn’t frustrated with being corrected, Daria isn’t annoyed that Dasha takes longer than she does.
Janah, “Reminds me of something.”
“Da, I remember learning algebra, you would explain and repeat as often as it took.”
“And you didn’t boil over at mistakes.”
“Well, I got to sit close to you while we did it, I probably made mistakes on purpose.”
Janah giggles, “And I probably took longer to explain that necessary. And like us, they are lost in their world of each other. They look so much alike, like a girl in a mirror.”
Chapter Thirty Two
Janah, “We have a simple job south of Chicago, Joliet, less than forty miles from the Midway airport. Mommy’s new boyfriend has decided her daughter is available for his pleasure.”
Nikko, “How old is the daughter?”
Janah, “Twelve, a good student, active at school, then mommy gets a boyfriend. Six months later, the girl’s dropped out of cheerleading, lost weight, the once active, well groomed and engaged girl is disengaged and in a sleepwalk. School contacted mom, mom says it’s a hormone thing to leave her, mom, alone, she’s got enough on her hands with a moody girl at home. No expressed concern for the child, all about mom’s aggravation.”
“And what does Surveillance have?”
“Boyfriend is feeding mom’s habit and taking advantage of the girl. He’s a dope dealing punk, lot of cash from his enterprise, thinks he’s a big swinging dick. Mother started out with a minor coke habit, now it’s major. She’s jacked up most of the time, if her daughter keeps him around to supply her habit, it’s all she cares about.”
“How soon can I leave?”
“Who else, Zi, Black, Chan?”
Nikko is incredulous, “One shithead? I fly in, deal with the target, I fly out, don’t need a hotel.”
Janah, “We do these things in pairs at the minimum, no solo social work. Decide who you want with you.”
Zi, “I will go.”
“Book the flight, it’s crappy Southwest, but at least they’re efficient.”
Nikko, “Not a problem, I’ll call Transportation, we’re gone on the first available.”
“Make sure Surveillance knows where he is. You can use your own judgment on how to handle him.”
Nikko’s lip curls, our boy is in for a rotten day.
Besides the abuse, it’s the sheer arrogance of these assholes that irritates Nikko, as if they are entitled, like a punk despot who starves the people to keep himself in caviar and Cristal.
Surveillance is on top of it, Nikko finds him leaning against a wall at the front of a dead end alley, couple of heavies around, barrio types, fat guy, mashed up fat face, leather baseball cap, skinny guy, black shifty eyes, cranked up probably, prison tats and a pussy goatee, cigarette dangles from his lips.
The target is tall, angular, shiny shirt, hair pulled back, leather jacket, sunglasses, fat gold chain around his neck, chunky gold bracelet, pointy black boots; typical movie badass look.
Nikko, “Christ, not even Amaya could help these pukes, do they really think that looks sharp, or sexy?”
Zi, “What I know about fashion you can put in a small box. They get ideas from television. We going to deal on the street?”
Nikko, “Absolutely, I want the homies to see him fall.”
Nikko and Zi carry ceramic shuriken and ceramic flick knives, can’t be boarding planes with cold steel serrated edges. TSA might get lucky and spot them.
Nikko, “I’m taking a shot at our guy, deal with the first to interfere.”
Zi, “We going to refocus them too?”
Nikko, “No, just take them out of the picture.”
They split up, Nikko approaches, Zi is coming from the other direction, they don’t see her.
Nikko’s spotted by the three, she names them Weasel, Tub, Slick.
Weasel, “Ola chica, you come to meet some cool Latinos, you come to the right spot.”
Nikko hates being hit on when she’s in a good mood, today it’s fuel for her fire. She strides past them, into the alley, down about halfway and turns. Slick and his buds walk towards her, curious as to what the tall slim woman is doing. They can’t tell nationality, Zi and Nikko have on watch caps and sunglasses; Nikko takes out a roll of bills. She has their complete attention.
Slick faces her, “Wha ju want? Ju think I got something to sell, or ju just wanna make a donation?”
His pals think he’s hilarious, Nikko sticks her titanium covered knee in his groin, when he folds, she cracks him hard on the jaw with the heel of her hand. She and Zi are both wearing my invention, leather gloves with titanium caps sewn in over the knuckles and the heel of the palm, very hard, protect the hand, injure the opponent, don’t leave prints.
Weasel steps in, Nikko turns so fast he stops still, too bad, her fist smashes his nose, her second fist takes a couple of teeth. A shuriken to the back of his neck courtesy of Zi and he’s face flat on the asphalt.
Tub gets his head together, probably obsessing about lunch, Zi starts to fly a shuriken, decides to screw with him first, “Hey Tub, you, fat boy, I got something for you.”
He turns around to see yet another tall slim woman, he blinks stupidly, fat on the brain.
Nikko’s in front of Slick so fast he doesn’t grasp she’d moved, he’s trying to process his painful nuts and bashed jaw. A few kids appear at the front of the alley, wary, they know Slick carries.
He reaches under his leather jacket for the thing they’re wary of, Nikko’s knife is at his throat, his arm stays under the coat, he’s still.
“Slick, take your hand out, if I see anything in it, you are dead where you stand.”
He half smirks, but his hand comes out empty. Nikko reaches in, presses the blade closer to his throat, uses her free hand to ease the gun out. She stands back, pops the clip, ejects the bullet from the chamber and slams Slick across the jaw with the butt.
Slick is holding his doubly whacked jaw, line of blood drips from his mouth.
Slick spits, “Wha ju want chica?”
“To kill the fuck out of you. But I’ve decided to make it worse. I’ll keep it brief. You’ve been abusing a twelve year old girl, her name is Marilia. Don’t bother with bullshit, I know it’s a fact. You aren’t going to continue, you aren’t going to be able to continue.
“So ju gonna cut me, what?”
Nikko puts her knife away, “Nope, you and I are going to dance until one of us can’t dance anymore.”
She steps back, Slick smiles, he goes to a standard back stance, his hands up, open, martial arts style. Nikko sees an added benefit she hadn’t considered, Slick is a karate punk.
During Nikko’s set up, Zi begins to rumba with Tub. He hasn’t lost weight, he has lost teeth, so a little weight. Zi is motionless, her side to him, he got his dental work when her spinning kick landed and smashed his blubbery face. He stalks forward, when his right foot is planted and he steps with his left, his three hundred pounds is resting on one straight leg. Zi hits his thigh hard, right above the kneecap, now his knee works both ways and Tub is helpless, melts like a stick of butter on a sweltering afternoon. Zi whips another spinning kick, her heel crushes his jaw, he blinks up at her, eyes glaze, he falls face first, hits concrete, a wet smush!
Slick bounces like he’s sparring in a ring, Nikko stares at his ridiculous posturing, he comes forward with a couple of front kicks, she sidesteps both, the last earns him a painful shin when she down-punches it. He shifts to a common front stance, she sighs as the dope actually tries a knife hand chop to her neck.
She catches his hand mid-flight, twists it over, knee smashes elbow, now Slick has an arm that works both ways, or I should say, won’t work either way.
She skips forward, elbow meets his sternum, he staggers back, she leaps high and snaps the heel of her boot through his collarbone as she descends. Right arm broken, left collarbone snapped, Slick is done displaying his martial arts prowess. Three hard knees in his groin. Splat! Splat! Splat! With each blow, he bounces up and down so fast his sunglasses fall off.
Janah and I are laughing, following the action through Nikko’s eyes, he looks like a cartoon character, Sproing! Sproing! Sproing!
She kicks him in the chest, he flies backwards and is flat on his back as she walks up to him. His sexual activity days are likely over, to make sure, she crushes her heel deep into his abdomen just above the cock. Yeowch, bet that hurts. I’m pretty sure he’ll be peeing through a catheter from now on.
Two guys turn in the alley, agitated with guns drawn. Nikko and Zi melt behind a dumpster, bullets clang off the metal. They come deeper into the alley, cautious. Zi pings a shuriken off the opposite wall, the guns fire at nothing. She zips a shuriken, zip, then another, zip, one man down. The other is looking at the dumpster, hesitant to move forward and if he retreats, he’s next. Zi pokes her head out from behind the dumpster, the gun fires, misses. Nikko pops up over the dumpster, her ceramic blade flies and buries itself in his chest. She stands over him, grabs the blade and wipes it on his shirt. The audience evaporated when the shooting started. Zi and Nikko exit the alley, take a right, then a left, climb into the rental and drive to Midway.
While Slick, Tub, Weasel and the two extras were being rearranged, people visited mother and daughter. Although the Society policy is to check in with the innocents first, make sure they will leave, it wouldn’t work here. Mom is always strung out, she would never have left voluntarily. They’re taken from the house and relocated to another city. The Society couldn’t leave them, Slick will want to take his anger out on somebody. We don’t know the girl’s feeling towards her mother, but her immediate sexual abuse problem is gone. The Society will try to get mom in treatment, likely the child will be taken away, hardly a tragedy for her.