Chapter Twenty Nine
At afternoon tea Janah says, "We got to help a friend in a dicey situation, reporter got a headline with help from an anonymous source, good work Daria."
Daria, "My pleasure."
"Gee, where'd that come from, she usually just blinks."
Janah, "Sounds like Amaya."
Dasha, "Eemaya says Reetz Charlieton haf all employee say 'my pleasure' when guest ask for anything. She ees teach us to be gracial."
Amaya, "Ritz Carleton, and I am teaching you to be gracious."
I kiss Dasha, "You are the most gracial person I know, next to Amaya, she's the pinnacle of graciality."
Chloe and Janah giggle, Amaya huffs, "Sheesh. Daphne, kindly do not encourage the philistine."
Daria, "My pleasure, you are most welcome, is everything satisfactory, how may I help you, do not hesitate to ask."
We crack up, even Amaya laughs, "I am proud of Daria's progress, I have a lifetime of frustration with her evil twin's macabre humor and her pal Dahfoney egging her on. Twins and Eloise, up to your room, I have new outfits for you and I want to show you ways you can put them together."
Dasha, "Eemaya makes Eloise also dress beautiful."
"Eloise can wear her rags in the workshop, no more last century boots, I threw them out, nasty things. If she wants to dress like a punk rocker in the house, it is not my concern. Outside, she can still dress edgy, elegant edgy, courtesy of moi. Now, upstairs."
The girls know it's pointless to resist, Amaya is a bulldozer when she wants something. The twins accept what comes along, to the extent they feel gratitude, they appreciate Amaya. Once Eloise saw herself in Amaya's selections, she was at first mystified, as if she was seeing another person. She's still introverted with everyone else, not so much with us. Her sexual awakening, then her style awakening didn't make her extroverted, but she's an adorable, stylish introvert.
Dasha, "Eemaya make Eloise hold head up, not anymore stare at floor. Now she wear Eemaya's peeking clothes, she stare in mirror, turn this way, turn that way, bad as Eemaya always in love with mirror self."
Amaya, "Our mirrors are the luckiest inanimate objects in the world, when they reflect us, they come to life."
Dasha, "At least Eloise no kissing herself in mirror like Eemaya."
We laugh again, Amaya is gorgeous, knows it, makes no excuse for being self-enamored. Chloe loves Amaya's self adoration, it excites her to see Amaya get turned admiring herself, inevitably leading to steamy sexual intimacy.
Chloe, "I wish she would spend more time at it, I get the best payoff."
Amaya, "See, it is not for me, it is for Vesnushki, hardly my fault she finds me as irresistible as I find me."
Nikko, "Criminey, go upstairs and dress the Barbies, I need a bullshit break."
The girls head to the twins' room, I feel Dasha in my head, "Dahfoney, you will make meatloaf, ees already in refrigerator to cook. Brown gravy wiz mash potato, I haf also vegetarian loaf for Janah. You will think of vegetable, maybe creamy spinach, everyone likes. I don't think of dessert already."
"We have several kinds of Hagen Daz, boxes of Enstrom almond toffee, they'll be fine with that."
I clean up after tea, Chloe checks movies and TV programs for later, Janah goes to our room, then comes down again dressed in nothing. I thought I'd felt an exhibitionist vibe, but we were joking around about girls and their mirrors.
The family is not habituated to Janah's proclivity, they enjoy it. Janah likes it when everyone is dressed except her. She sits next to Zi, kisses her, then Nikko, slides off the sofa, joins Chloe on the mat and does a make out with her for a while.
Amaya and the girls come down, "I see Janah is allowing us to enjoy her smooth self."
"It came over her after the mirror discussion, I have no idea what the relationship is, but she's in nude mood for the time being."
"Suits me, she's delicious, Chloe is happy Janah decided to go on display."
Dasha, "We will make for dinner now Dahfoney, Janah can play with girls."
We move to the kitchen, Eloise sits next to Janah, now lying on her tummy, head on one of the throw pillows. A slim hand explores the tight tush, down one leg, up the other, Janah rolls to her back, Eloise leans in for a kiss, then several, delicate long fingers tease Janah's nipples.
Dasha and I are occupied, Amaya comes in for bartender duties, serves drink of choice, Janah sips champagne with her back against the couch, Eloise on one side Chloe on the other with their vodkas. Since we had snacks with tea, we skip nibbles, the meatloaf needs forty more minutes, Dasha is making creamed spinach, brown gravy ready to heat.
They gather around the table, Zi says, "Yum such tasty gravy, just right on mashed potatoes, I snitched a slice of the veg meatloaf, it's great Dasha."
Janah, "Sure is, may I have wine Daphne?"
I pour a glass, reward myself with a lascivious squeeze of her breast, notice Eloise's hand roaming Janah's crossed leg.
After dinner, we watch the second Hunger Games flick, they nibble Enstrom's, which goes quite nicely with tangy Cabernet.
Dasha, "Moovey ees okay, better than anyway first one."
"I thought so too, still over the top, the garish city and people in whack costumes. Made a zillion bucks, somebody likes it."
Our evening is drawing to a close, Janah pops in my head, "Sleep with the twins tonight, Eloise has a plan for me, I have several for her."
In bed, I take a peek in Janah's head, discover it between Eloise's trim thighs, I hear her kittenish mews, I tune out. Since I'm lying in between the twins, they decide to double team me. Ooooh, if you've never been done by hardbody twins, you have my deepest sympathy. Then, as I take another peek through Janah's eyes, I see Eloise, strapped up and drilling Janah to nirvana. It's all I have time for, Daria is straddling my face, bent over while Dasha attends to her tush. Eventually we all explode, melt into the sheets and quiver, I briefly wonder if there's a secret ingredient in Enstrom's, or maybe it's just the chocolate.
Chapter Thirty XII
Sex, sleep, repeat, some routines are quite lovely. Eloise is grinning like the village idiot, sits next to Janah but stares at her plate. It was her first foray beyond the twins and me. Janah's in a t-shirt this morning, guess the show's over until the next showing. Janah's play apparently got everyone in the mood, it's quiet around the table, Zi refills Nikko coffee, adds a gentle bite to her shoulder, lingering afterglow of intimacy.
Amaya, "Must be marijuana in the biscuits, everyone is in the calm zone this morning."
Dasha, "We make sex with Dahfoney until midnight, Daria says all girls haf sex aura still."
Chloe smiles, "She's right, there's enough pink lavender at the table to start a gay nightclub"
Amaya, "I am working on the next book until lunch, Chloe is going to visit Hanshi. He wants to see if she's been slacking and she has to make tea for Ari."
Chloe, "That's the easy part, we do enough tea ceremony here I can perform it in my sleep. Hopefully I can demonstrate enough good technique in kendo so he doesn't growl too much."
Nikko, "We practice all the time, you'll be fine. Besides, he never growls at you, that's reserved for Daphne. In your case, it's Ari who picks apart your tea ceremony. She's going to make you sing and dance, play an instrument, then she will say it's acceptable for a gaijin."
Chloe giggles, "True, worth it though. She makes Miso soup, we have fish and rice, perhaps she will do tempura today. I appreciate her taking time, with the Japanese grocery they built, life is busy at your parents’ house."
"My mother likes to be busy. Anyway, she has given over daily operations to her employees, she mostly oversees things. Still, she's in the store most of the day. It's good for her. Speaking of which, Zi, we have things to do. I'm taking one car to the office, we have to go to Brooklyn and the Bronx. Daria, are you coming?"
Daria, "Nyet, we have I think a problem in Bronx.
Nikko, "What's the problem in the Bronx, you mean Down Home?"
"I notice last week receipts lower, not a lot, maybe normal business fluctuation. Also, fresh food orders are also lower, but if sales down, so is food order. This week same thing, not right."
"What about Brooklyn and Queens?"
"Normal business pattern."
Dasha, "Dahfoney, you will take us to Down Home restaurants today."
"Okay, Janah, you're here with Eloise and Amaya?"
"Yes, I have lots to do, bit of temple admin, Society calls, we have Surveillance on something, I need to follow up with them today. We'll take a walk to the diner for lunch, or get something from Mr. Vitali."
"Ask Susan to go, Amaya and Eloise aren't fighters, I need you covered. If she can't make it, get Mini to send food over and stay in the apartment."
Janah, "Will do."
My security policy is Janah goes nowhere without one of the martial artists, Daria counts since she can melt people with her mind, and Dasha can kick a hole in a steel door. The twins have both been trained by the owl and have hands that can bend steel pipe. Janah is her own protection, but I don't care, she goes out, it's with extra security.
While the others do what they do, the twins and I tour our restaurants. Brooklyn and Queens are spotless, foods fresh, the plates are as pristine as the photos over the order desk. The Bronx, our newest, has work to do.
Daria corners Della, the manager, "Floor is dirty, table tops not cleared, French bread is a day old. No more orders today, close when last customer leaves."
Dasha's in the kitchen, "No more orders today. Throw out what is left, all of it. Restaurant is closed for now. We will reopen, not tomorrow, soon."
She's in the walk in refrigerator, some things are expired or near it, "Take all food in refrigerator to dumpster trash," she heads for the freezer.
"Meat is freezer burn, not packaged properly, empty it, everything."
The cooks are hustling back and forth with plastic bins full of food, the pots and pans are emptied and stacked for the dishwasher. Daria fires the manager, who protests only long enough to catch her blank stare. She leaves, the last customer hits the door, Dasha locks it and turns over the sign from open to closed.
Daria, "Cooks come to front," they do, she says, "What is the problem?"
Teddy, slim black man, here from prison after he thought an armed robbery was a good idea, says, "Miss Della, she wants to make more money, so she keep stuff too long, don't have the extra help to keep the front clean, we short one kitchen staff, the cleaning slides."
Daria, "You don't say anything? Call me or Dasha?"
Teddy look sheepish, "Miss Della done fired people, good people. We," he looks to the other two," don't wan wind up the same. We felons, ain't gonna get no legit job. Anyway, she say she talked about it to you, you wanted to make more money."
Dasha, "When did it start?"
Brandon, "Soon as you hit the door last time, she lay off two guys and the other woman, Winona. They did they job, customers happy. Della be scarfin' tips too. Customers been wonderin' what's goin on, Della say she had to let people go, say Miss Daria said to do it, sames she tol us."
Daria, "If fired staff is still wanting to work, call them and get them back in. Tomorrow is cleaning day, I will reorder food after freezer and refrigerator are clean. We will work today, then we will come back tomorrow, be here early. Daphne will make a sign for door, we apologize for recent problem, we will reopen soon with the standards you have come to expect, like that, okay Daphne?"
"I'm on it," I go to find paper and a sharpie. I can make a simple, legible, sign, I’m a calligraphy master after all, ought to be able to hand print a notice.
While I tape it to the door, the others finish emptying the kitchen, Dasha is clearing and cleaning tables. I find a mop and bucket and start on the floors. We get as far as clean floors and tables, the cooks and Daria are mopping the kitchen floor and scrubbing pots.
Janah, "Do you need us to come over?"
"No, not tonight, we made progress. Tomorrow we'll have most of the staff back, couldn't get one guy, left a message. Dasha can spend time replacing the food, we'll finish up the rest. It wasn't long enough to be a total disaster, just not up to Dasha's requirements. We could have had health department problems with the past date food, but it was only a couple of days, nobody is going to get sick. I don't know what got into Della."
Janah, "Personal problems maybe, some people just have a mercenary heart, they don't need a reason."
"We'll see you around seven, seven thirty."
We put a wrap on it, place looks much better. It was near time for closing when we got here, our Down Homes close at three. A few people walked by and read the sign, peered in the window and walked on. Daria didn't kill anyone, good enough.
Chapter Thirty One
We're having dinner, it's already eight, but we made a good start at the restaurant.
Nikko, "Good catch Daria, with all the things you have going, it could have easily slipped by until Dasha's regular visit."
Daria, "I should have looked closer the first week, Dasha could have gone over and seen the problem right away."
"You caught it in plenty of time, with all of our property, things get sidelined or overlooked. Besides, you've been working with Eloise on helpful technology, and you got the assignment to look into the poker scam."
Chloe, "Daria, you did wonderfully, there are too many things perhaps."
Janah, "Chloe is right, we have to fix that. The restaurants are ours, not like our fronting money for inmates to open businesses. The restaurants take more oversight than we can handle. I want to suggest we hire someone to be, what, a utility person for the three Down Homes. Ultra Violet is different, we have a quality manager, and it's a less than mile from here. Dasha can take a short walk and see what's what every few days. If we hire someone for the Down Homes, visit one a day in rotation, help with short staff, shuffle employees around if needed, oversee conditions, I think it makes sense. I have no idea what we should pay, Nikko can figure that out with Zi and Daria. Nikko, is it doable?"
"The Down Homes aren't a gold mine, but they aren't chicken feed either. A sort of ombudsman for the three places can work. It isn't really a full time job. The managers can call him or her if they need something, he makes one physical visit a day. We provide a checklist, he enters the data in a phone or netbook, Daria and I get it. It's not a twenty hour a week job."
"I think we ask Black. He's got the time and the ability. He runs a gung fu center that has classes mostly at night, he helps out with some of the training at the temple. He might like something different."
Janah, "What do we pay, Nikko?"
Nikko, "Twenty hours a week, or less, at twenty five an hour is five hundred a week. Black is on Sonia's medical, but he can also have access to our clinics if he wants. We give him transportation. I know he likes the motorcycle we gave him, but he may need something more like an SUV to haul staff or groceries. He can park it in our Brooklyn building when he doesn't need it."
Janah, "I want to do more for them that that. He’s on call for our work after all, and he never asks for anything."
Nikko, "He got several million when we cleaned out drug dealers, he’s hardly hurting. And he likes the work, he’d be disappointed if he wasn’t included. They have a nice house already. If you just want to be generous, fine, but Black doesn’t need money."
Janah, "Daphne, call him tomorrow and ask. We’ll provide the SUV and insurance for it, it’s his for personal use as well. Be sure to tell him we want those restaurants to run like a quantum clock in a clean room. Salary him at forty thousand. He has no responsibility for accounting, we still get the numbers daily. Dasha will take him through the Brooklyn site, they're all identical. She shows him details about food, ordering, our quality policies. She and Daphne will prepare a check list and stick it on an IPad or something. "
I made the call this morning, "I talked to Black, he’s glad to take on the job, says he’s being overpaid.”
Dasha and I make the rounds of the restaurants, talk to the managers. Black's salary doesn't come out of their profits, we explain that it is to help them juggle staffing, maintenance and the odd grocery runs if they need it. Everything comes by delivery, but sometimes they need extra bread, butter, shortening, all kinds of things. Now, instead of sending an employee out and being short staffed, they call Black and he works it out.
Daria is explaining, "Don't call him for a dozen eggs. If it takes more than half an hour, or requires a truck, then call Black. Use your judgment, he's not in the restaurant, he's got to leave where ever he is, drive around, get what you need and bring it. If you need something right away, have the grocery deliver it. If it can wait until tomorrow, then maybe use Black. Call him with all maintenance problems, he will decide how to proceed. His primary job is quality control, both food quality and cleanliness. Queens and Brooklyn have had no issues, we've fixed the Bronx. Black is here at no cost to you to make sure you don't get overwhelmed, he can fill in as a cook, operate the register."
The managers aren't dumb, they know he's also there to protect our investment, Daria points out that protecting our investment also protects their jobs and their end of the profits. We replace the vacant manager slot in the Bronx with one of the employees Della let go. She's got enough experience to handle the day to day, so far so good.
Chapter Thirty Two
We're around the tea table, Janah, "Black’s working with Dasha and Daphne to get the routine under his belt."
"Black is a good guy, the managers aren't threatened, they're better off. He's met all the employees, he knows the menu, he and Sonia get lunch at the Brooklyn location regularly. We'll spend a day with him tomorrow, then let him run with it. He can call Dasha or me if anything comes up."
Nikko, "Alright, sounds like this is resolved. You will be happy to know it hasn't occurred to me to buy anything else. Enough is enough for ownership, we continue to grow our property management business. One company using us sold their building and the insurance company that bought it has their own management. We did get a chance to meet with their people, the good news is they don't manage anything but their own property. They sent us a new client already and should be a good source of referrals. Since I'm not buying more for us, the management company can expand. Zi has more news."
Zi, "You recall the contact we made when the Chinese businessmen visited the temple a few years ago?"
"Yes, Yuan Chang, I recall. You got the job managing his buildings."
"Not at first. He tried a cheaper manager, that lasted a year, then he contacted us. Since then, he's noticed the explosion in Silicon Valley, and anticipates a good market in San Francisco. He's closed on two properties there and is looking for a third. He would like us to take over management."
"We going to open up a west coast office?"
"We don't want to turn him down. He's offering a good deal on space in one of his buildings, and he'll build it out to our specification. We shouldn't turn away this chance."
Janah, "How do you want to handle it?"
Nikko, "Zi and I need to be there for at least six months, put a team in place. We plan to relocate some of our people, find others in San Francisco. If there are Shaolin with business degrees who want to come on board, that would be helpful. If not, it's a buyer's market for MBAs. We just need to hire them, get them on task and monitor."
"How do you run New York?"
Nikko, "Daria will only do what she does now, no more. Zi and I will fly back and forth as needed. When we're set, then Daria goes to San Francisco for introductions, get familiar with the place. Depending on how it develops, one or all three of us may need to be there from time to time, we don't need to move there. It's a connected world. We get revenue and expense numbers daily, these will just come from San Francisco. There's video-conferencing, e-mail, texts and plain old phone calls. Apart from our habit of physically walking the property, it doesn't matter from our standpoint where the building is located. Inside of a year, we'll have a west coast manager we can trust to do it our way."
"Try not to hire a Shadow, we already have the twins."
They laugh, it's no insult to Daria and Dasha, they know their place with us is highly valued, secure, and that they are the center of our family. The twins are un-insultable anyway.
Dasha stares up at me, "Dahfoney, when sister go to San Francisco for beezness, I will also go. I will watch and help. You will tell Meeny Dasha and Daria are to work only fahmahly beezness now."
"Thank you Dasha. I know you enjoy the diner, but it will help us more to have you in our business than two days at the diner. Mini's cooks know the recipes, it will be fine."
Nikko, "Then we'll start taking Dasha with us when we go to the office. You’re going to lose your kitchen pal some days."
"I’ll figure it out."
Chloe, "Amaya and I can also help with day to day grocery, which fell on Dasha and Daphne. I hope it will help a little."
"It will help a lot. When you're here, one of you make sure Eloise and Daria eat lunch, they'll skip it if we don't haul it up to the workshop."
Amaya, "They will drag their butts down to the kitchen when I call and they will eat what is in front of them. Daphne's not going to shuttle lunch up to you two all the time, nor will Chloe and I. Get it, Daria, Eloise?"
Daria, "My pleasure, how can I assist you, is everything satisfactory, please do not hesitate to call with any requests, we are happy to be of service."
Eloise giggles, we laugh, Amaya gives Daria the death stare, then kisses her, "See, I have trained them to perfection. It is impossible to tell which is more miraculous, making people believe Chloe knows something about fashion or making people believe the twins are normal. I did not stoop to making Frankenstein out of body parts, I made three Frankensteins into gorgeous, fashionable, intelligent women. Clearly I am a Goddess."
Dasha, "Eemaya, you make fashionable only, Vesnushki, Daria and Dasha already beautiful before you, Daria haf already photograph brain, Vesnushki ees already peerfect happy person.
Get off Eemaya airhead cloud and make us vodka now."
Amaya tries indignation, but even her performance artist soul can't pull it off, we're laughing, she starts giggling behind her hand, "I need a more gullible audience, bunch of Buddhists and two laser-focused psychopaths are a challenge even for my unsurpassed abilities."
Dasha, "Apply unsyruped ability to make cocktail. Dahfoney, we will haf pizza tonight and you will peek a gud moovie."
Janah has tears in her eyes, even Nikko is grinning, Amaya is whipping up drinks, I find a phone, then surf movie options with Eloise and Chloe. I realize our crew has never seen the Coen Brothers cult classic The Big Lebowski.