Chapter Thirty Seven VIII
I supply an assortment of crackers, cheeses, nuts and fresh raw vegetables, then deep fry button mushrooms and cauliflower in a mixture of flour and Panko breadcrumbs, arrange them on a platter and sprinkle with finely grated parmesan. I figure the assortment will do for dinner. There is ice cream, brownies and fudge if anyone wants a sugar kicker.
We spread out on the couch, loveseat, and our cushiony leather chairs, everyone has a side table for plates and glasses.
Nikko, “You haven’t made fried mushrooms and cauliflower in a long time. I’d forgotten how good it is.”
Zi, “Daphne, this is incredible. Where did this idea come from?”
“My cooking teacher, Miss Alva, from long ago, when I was a kid.”
I tell the short version, the others know the story of the old woman who took Sis and I off the street when I was an infant. She gave us a room, took care of me while Susan worked as a housekeeper and attended classes in computer science at night. She may have saved our lives, and surely saved me from being snatched from Susan by some dimwit social worker.
Zi, “The universe provides what we need, at the moment we need it.”
“Sure did for us.”
“Lacy, Janah has told me much about Chapmans, your school for unusually talented girls. They have such glowing stories about the school, Daphne naturally fell right in with the atmosphere.”
“Daphne helped create the atmosphere. Those days, wow. Janah tutoring, Daphne and Zipper creating mayhem, the rise of the RSGs, who still rule the school. We’re on second generation girls, a few legacies.”
“What is legacy?”
“The children of parents who attended Chapmans. In some schools legacies get preferential admissions. At Chapmans, we love to take legacies, but they have to meet the same standards as anyone else, some unique or extraordinary skill or talent. It can be athletic, intellectual, musical or dramatic. We specialize in girls for whom a normal school is too slow and restrictive.”
“And there are many of these girls?”
“Depends on what many means. There are more than I can accept as students. We have waiting lists in every grade. If a girl isn’t at Chapmans by the time she’s a freshman, the chance of getting in is near zero. Sometimes, in high school, a girl will have some home or other personal problem that makes it necessary to take her out of our school. Students on the waiting lists might find a slot. But we’re not going to take any girl who can’t adapt to our standards. We allow a great deal of autonomy. They must have the self control and personal discipline to progress, we don’t supply it.”
Zi, “Nor does Janah. Everything is provided for a student’s success. Everything but coddling. The student must seize the gifts or they are dismissed.”
Janah, “I saw what happened with Lacy’s system, it works for the right student. The Shaolin learned a thousand years ago, students progress at different rates, and one student who seems a bit slow, blossoms in a year, through diligence and the guidance of his instructors. In that we are a bit different from Chapmans. Lacy has a not insignificant cost structure. She can’t afford to have a student taking a year or longer to develop.”
Lacy gets the replay of Zi’s young life, then we chat in a more desultory way about this and that. Amaya sings, Nikko plays the shamisen, Amaya dances.
“Such talent. How delightful to live here, surrounded by the Chapmans students, Chan and Ning, Lacy, a truly wonderful life.”
Lacy, “Frequently amazing. And I have to get some sleep so I can deal with a hundred amazing young ladies tomorrow,” she leaves for her place down the hall.
“Your friend is so tiny, and lovely, she is a dancer, yes?”
Janah, “Quite a good one. She and Amaya practice together at least once a week. Amaya would like more, life keeps getting in the way.”
“Perhaps I should be getting home myself.”
“It’s getting late. I’ll text Sis and tell her we’ve kidnapped you for the evening.”
Zi gets a hint of a smile, she’s enjoying her new friends.
Janah, “Daph, will you get Zi set up”’
One couch is a Tempur-pedic sofa sleeper, folds out to a very comfortable bed. I fetch the linens, make it up, bring two pillows.
Zi, “Wow, I’m going to be spoiled, this bed is deliciously comfortable.”
“We use the Tempur-pedic mattresses for our beds, didn’t take long to get hooked.”
We bid our goodnights, Amaya and I cuddle and kiss, no playtime tonight, she drifts off to sleep, I read for an hour, then scrunch into her and fall away.
This morning, five scantily clad women sit around the table eating scrambled eggs with cream cheese, toasty, crunchy wheat bread, fruit, grits and bacon. Zi reaches over and takes two strips of crisp bacon.
“So good. So many years of vegetarian food, this is a treat.”
“Guess I’ll be buying more bacon.”
Janah, “Appears so. After this morning, I think you sealed the deal.”
Amaya, “Can she move in with us?”
“We need this project out of the way, she may be out of the temple soon. You do not know that, precious one.”
Amaya gives me a mental wink, “Know what?”
Susan calls, “Taylor and I have errands today, can we have our bodyguard back?”
“What time do you want her there, and you’ve arranged a car, or shall I do it?”
Susan, “Hadn’t planned on anything but taxis.”
“Spoil yourself, you’re flipping rich, spend it like a rockstar.”
Susan, “Ten thirty good? I’m thinking the day, until four anyway. We’ll pick her up.”
“Where you guys headed?”
Susan, “Meeting with Mrs. Walker at eleven, legal matters, investment review with Mrs. Epstein over lunch at her place, I’ll cover anything new with Nikko later. Taylor has general shopping, personal items, she hasn’t been in a boutique in nearly two weeks, she’s suffering withdrawal.”
“Cripes, she spends half her life changing clothes, and she goes to boutiques in between?”
Susan, “That’s the designer’s stuff, this is her stuff.”
“You going to tolerate clothes shopping?”
Susan, “It’s Taylor. Watching her do anything is my meditation.”
“Ah, Taylor is to you what Amaya is to me, dopamine and oxytocin, on which I happily overdose.”
“We’ll be there in a bit.”
Amaya, “I heard, it is nine thirty, plenty of time.”
“Sis is always punctual.”
Amaya, “Zi, you are working at ten thirty, I will arrange you, Daphne will deal with dishes.”
Zi is visual heartbreak in forty five. A short silk skirt, open toe lace up ankle boots, wide rainbow belt and one of our, there is no ‘my’ anymore, snug black pullover, three silver rings. Her luxurious hair parted on one side, hangs past her shoulders, shimmering nicely.
I shimmer nicely.
Amaya, “Hot, yes?”
“White hot in black.”
Amaya goes back to her closet, returns with a three button ruby red lambskin jacket, “This, I think, completes the look.”
Zi, “Amaya has the knack for this.”
We laugh, Janah says, “Amaya is the Grandmaster of fashion elegance.”
“So I’ve discovered.”
Chapter Thirty Eight VIII
Security, “Car here for Zi.”
“Thank you, Jennifer.”
Zi and I take the elevator down, Susan, “Holy Cripes! What did Amaya do to our monk? She’s adorable.”
Zi colors slightly, “Amaya is most skilled.”
Taylor, “Look Zi, you aren’t supposed to look better than the model. I may never work again.”
Zi, “No worries, mate. Modeling is not in Zi’s future.”
“That’s a relief. Although I’m doing only selected work from now on, time to wind down. Amaya and I have other more interesting interests. If I blow though my savings, she’s promised to support me.”
Susan, “You’re making money with her now. I don’t think your savings will be touched in the foreseeable future. You can become my kept woman in any case.”
Zi slips into the car, “From what I’ve learned Taylor, I wouldn’t lose any sleep over money.”
“It’s nice to be reassured. If I wasn’t having so much fun with Amaya, I’d drop everything and start being kept right away.”
She kisses Susan, “Yours to keep.”
“Ladies, have a fun, and safe, day. When you finish, stay for dinner. Ning and I will, no, Ning’s at the restaurant. We’ll go to Fong’s.”
Susan, “Yum. I’ll call when we’re finished, we’ll probably just meet you there.”
I go back upstairs, Amaya, “Goody, Fong’s. No food for me until dinner.”
Nikko looks to me, “We need to work.”
I look to Janah, “Go for it. Amaya and I are into Balzac for a hour or so, then yoga and gymnastics. We’ll all be ravenous for dinner.”
It’s a plan. Nikko and I go to the dojang, a long session of forms, Qi dummy, then we spar. I stay away from kicks to her head, make her wear head gear. She bludgeons me ruthlessly, nearly breaks a rib, cracks her fist across my jaw, followed by a kick to the gut that sends me up, back and down.
When she comes to finish me off with a kick to the side of my head, I grab her foot by the ball and ankle, and twist, sweep my ankle through her other leg and splat her onto the mat. I hook my leg over her knee and work her lower leg up in the counter direction. She taps out. Leg lock is very effective if you get the angle and leverage right. Nobody wants a blown out knee.
We stand, bow to each other and hobble off to the shower. Then, instead of going home, we qi each other rather than interrupt Janah and Amaya. We stay over an hour, cold, warm, energy flowing back and forth. We could have done ourselves, but there’s no fun in that. Still nude, we sit cross legged on towels and go to no mind. Then we’re in each other’s mind, then a shift in the light, a brilliant white-blue, and the brain pop! that accompanies a deeper merging, motionless for another hour.
It’s getting on to time for the dojang to open, we dress and about to leave, just as Roberta Pinter is going to open up.
“Hey Ro, we just finished, you need anything before we go?”
Roberta, “Nope, rank tests are Saturday, you, Susan and Nikko are judging, yes?”
“We’ll be here. How many are testing?”
Roberta, “It’s advanced tests, blue belt and up, so forty. Five are testing for black, Five more from second to fifth.”
“Finally, is Matilda pumped?” Matilda is testing for her fifth degree, a Master.
Roberta, “She’s excited. She knows her stuff, she’s ready.”
“See you Saturday.”
Walking to the apartment, I tune in to Amaya, she and Janah are tumbling across the mat. They look nice and worn out, sweat glistens on flushed skin.
They sit drinking water when Nikko and I arrive, cooling down.
Amaya, “Bring me a dry towel, Daphne, this one is cooked.”
I use it to dry her back, neck, beads on her forehead, “Geez, you guys must have gone at it.”
Janah, “She wouldn’t quit, we had a non-competitive competition, follow the tumbler. We went back and forth across the mat two dozen times, and that after an aggressive yoga session. I need to soak.”
I go to make bubbles, by the time it’s filled and the temperature right, Janah is rehydrated and climbs in. Amaya’s in the shower, Nikko reading on the couch. Just as Janah finishes, my phone rings.
Susan, “We’re done, we’re already in Soho.”
“We need an hour, then we’ll be down. No problems obviously”
“Legal, business and girl stuff all went smoothly. Good thing we have the car, the trunk is full.”
“Ooooh, can’t wait to see.”
We leave a little late, just over an hour, they’re having wine with Ning, we appear at seven fifteen, Nikko has a little limp.
Susan, “My angel, what did Daphne do? Sit here dear one.”
“Don’t spend a second worrying about my nearly dislocated jaw, it’s starting to loosen up.”
“We had a deepening today, you were occupied.”
Janah, “Ah, I wondered about the glow. Now it’s clear.”
We finish a magnificent meal, lots of hugs for Ning, Susan and Taylor take one car back the condo, the four of us take the other to the apartment
I mental Amaya, “Nikko and I had another merging today.”
Amaya, “I felt it. She will want both of you with her tonight. I am certain I can entertain Zi.”
Amaya, “I plan on entertaining her by entertaining her, songs, poetry, shamisen, flute, not sex.”
Chapter Thirty Nine
Our night goes deliciously, more intimate than sex. We bundle up in bed, Janah and I on each side of Nikko in the middle. We swap kisses for a while, then become one. The soft white-blue light, dancing shadows, pinpoints of light sparkle, loss of self reference, no self to reference.
The lights fade, just afterglow, we fall asleep simultaneously, wake up at the same moment.
“Does this mean we all have to pee at the same time?”
Nishiko giggles, something she never does, she says, “Uh, oh, becoming Janah is turning Nishiko into giddy schoolgirl.”
Janah, “Your laughter is adorable.”
I do bathroom things, go off to make hot caffeine. Zi is on the couch, meditating, one eye pops open.
“Good morning, Zi, Amaya’s awake, we’ll have breakfast soon.”
Zi, “I’ll bring her coffee.”
Janah and Nikko are sitting on the bed, cup of tea, “Everyone hungry?”
Janah, “You’ve done enough, let’s go to the diner. Just throw on jeans. Is Taylor working today?”
“Nope, not so as to need protection. She’s coming here at ten thirty for class at Chapmans, they have a moms’ class at three,” I mental Amaya the plan.
In thirty we’re out the door and a few blocks later, at the Jamaicans table.
Juju, “Janah, you and DeSeelk gonna take up all de beautiful girls in Manhattan.”
Amaya never went out in ‘throw on some jeans,’ and she’d made sure Zi had the full advantage of her fashion touch. They wear jeans, hip hugger skinnys, snug pullovers that make it to just beneath the ribs, leaving breathtaking mini-waistlines as either their contribution to a better world or global warming. I notice my diamond string earrings dangling sparkly from Zi’s earlobes and vintage Lucite laminate bracelets on her wrist. Brilliant mosaic bracelets by Martha Collins on Amaya. I feel practically invisible. Fortunately, I’d taken Janah’s jeans suggestion an extra step by dressing in a schoolgirl denim mini instead. Finished up in a light halter top and short black leather jacket.
Amaya, “Juju, this is our friend Zi. She sees something she likes, you give it to her. I’ll be around to pay you.”
Juju, “As Miss Amaya wishes,” he looks at Zi, nods towards Amaya, “dis one, she picks only de best, we have a special table, Night Rain collection, sell out all de’ time.”
Zi, “She and her friend Taylor have the most incredible eye for colors, textures and fit. I just have to stand there and she creates me.”
Juju glows his big Jamaican smile, “She only accepts de’ finest canvas for her personal creations. Wit’ you, she don’ have to work so hard.”
“How sweet, thank you , Juju. Mighty Jim, Quiet Man, Timothy, I hope to see you often.”
Timothy, “You gonna be wit’ DeSeelk, you see us all de’ time.”
We move across the street, my hearing picks up Juju through the street noise, “Dem’ girls, a paradox, look elegant and innocent, cut de’ bad man t’roat before he blink.”
He has our number.
Mini, “Hey girls, geez, crowd’s growing. This one eats vegetarian, or regular?”
“Let me introduce Zi. She’s a recovering carnivore, still only Janah as veg. She is, um, helping Susan and Taylor for a month. We’ve had some bad vibes, she’s from the temple, but nobody knows that, you understand?”
Mini doesn’t need to agree, he understands, “Zi, anything happens, you include me on the phone tree. Daph, you put my cell in her contact list, like, before you leave here, or there’s gonna be another bad vibe.”
I hug him, “Honey, it’s already there, under Hunk.”
Mini grins, a smiling bulldog, “Food’ll be up in a sec.”
Three booths down are two street cops I know, “Hey Sol, Frankie, how’s life on the mean streets?”
They give me the once over I’m looking for, then a second over, which earns them bonus points.
Sol, “Christ, Daphne. How come I keep gettin’ older and you don’t age a second? I know you, what, five six years, and neither you, Janah or Nikko look any different than the day we met.”
Since I can’t explain how we don’t age, I offer nonsense, “It’s a girl thing, Sol. A few gallons of lotion a month.”
Frankie, “I gotta get some of that.”
“It’s not the lotion Frankie, it’s us applying it to each other that makes it work.”
Sol groans, “Now I ain’t gonna be able to concentrate the rest of the shift, I’m gonna be cuffing a perp wit’ that vision in my head.”
“Nikko uses handcuffs, too. She must have cop genes.”
Frankie’s turn to groan, “God, Daphne, between that skirt and your innuendos, I think you might be disturbing my peace.”
I stick my hands out, “You going to cuff me, big boy?”
Mini, “Food’s up, Daphne, you done heating Sol and Frankie’s libidos?”
I kiss the cops, “Doing my part to improve police morale, Mini.”
Mini, “They get any more improvement, they ain’t gonna be able to stand up straight.”
I remain just long enough for them to get one last lingering look, turn to Mini who is watching them watch me, “See, now my morale has been boosted as well, I’m feeling all self-esteemy.”
Mini, “Go eat, maybe these two mutts won’t cool off before your food does.”
I go to the booth, in eyeshot of the cops, who watch me walk over, I sit, then take my time shifting one leg, then the other under the table. Then cross my legs…slowly.
They get up to leave, pass the table, Frankie says, “My favorite color is now sky blue,” he winks at me.
I’m wearing very sheer light blue panties.
Sol acknowledges the others, “Ladies, always a pleasure.”
He gets four brilliant smiles, Nikko is surveying the customers and the street outside. Girl never loses her focus.
On their way out I hear Sol say, “Good thing Nikko’s not a criminal, I might have to retire.”
Frankie, “You’re safe, she only kills bad guys.”
We do kill something, the bulk of the day walking around, skip lunch, stop for cappuccino and share a couple of apple and cherry tarts. Then back to the apartment.
On the way, Susan calls, “Where are you?”
“Down the block from the condo.”
Susan, “Come up and get the stuff we bought for Zi yesterday.”
While Zi collects a couple of skirts, tops and a pair of Sketchers, the others are on the couch chatting with Taylor. We want to get home, bid our goodbyes and hit the street.
Zi and I are outside first, Janah and Amaya busy collecting kisses, Zi says, “Susan and you are submissive, she a more gentle one, you like more aggressive humiliation I think.”
“Count on a Sensitive to pick up the vibe. And you?”
“Nikko is your physical dominatrix, Amaya your psychological, not that the two are completely separate, but Amaya would never hit you. My sexual nature is unformed, I have little experience. As time goes by, I want to experiment, try on different roles.”
“That’s essentially what we did. Nikko doesn’t just enjoy beating me up, she enjoys beating anyone up. What she likes with me is my enjoyment of it. Amaya loves to order me around, I love being her subservient servant. We fit together hand in glove with it, role play heightens intimacy.”
“Of course, you are HER servant, almost a possession.”
I smile at Zi, “When we play, there’s no almost.”
Zi kisses me, warmly, right on the street, people passing, I hear one guy tell his companion, “I think I’m going to have a heart attack, Go, they’re hot.”
Extreme auditory capacity has its advantages.
Amaya and Janah come out, Amaya bouncing down the stairs, leaps into my arms, another long kiss, the same guy says, “Shit on a shingle, I’m dying here.”
“That is for being the hottest slave in the Galaxy. I am your White Queen, it is good for you to worship me and know your place.”
“Thank you, angel. I am most fortunate, belonging to you is pure pleasure.”
“See, I told you it is good for you. I am the best thing ever, yes?”
“You already know, in my mind much of the time, reading my thoughts.”
Zi, “Daphne brings you infinite pleasure.”
“She is infinite everything,” Amaya glows like a halogen lamp.
Janah takes Zi’s arm, we start out.
We decide to caffeinate, go to Java Joe’s for a takeout, walk a block down Waverly to Washington Square Park and people watch.
Amaya, “God, Daphne, watching things through your eyes is electric. Everything is crisp, HD3D. And there are always colors I did not know existed, and the auras around people, happy, sad, anxious, depressed, clueless.”
As a Sensitive, Zi doesn’t grasp our mental conversation, but she touches on the idea we are having one.
Zi, “There is energy flowing between Amaya and Daphne. Then frequently between Janah and Daphne, or Nikko.”
“Shall we explain?”
Janah, “Let Amaya give it a go.”
“Amaya, we’ve decided to let you explain us to Zi.”
Mentaling happens in milliseconds, Zi doesn’t notice any time pass between her comment and Amaya’s reply, “Some in the temple have figured out that Daphne and Janah can communicate without words.”
Zi, “Yes, but we do not speak of it.”
“And that is the right thing to do, nothing. However, as you are here now, and a Sensitive, I can offer a more comprehensive explanation.”
Zi’s eyes brighten, naturally curious.
“Long ago, Daphne and Janah discovered that they can see into each other’s mind. They had to work at it, at first. Over time, it became instantaneous. But they do not only know what the other is thinking. They see though each other’s eyes, hear what the other hears, they can share tastes and touch if they wish, They do not feel the other’s physical pain, good thing, Daphne is always getting beat up. But they know the other is in pain, from any distance. If Janah is in the temple, Daphne can be here in the park and see everything Janah sees, and vice versa.?”
Zi smiles out into the distance, as if she had an epiphany, “It clears up so much. Their perfect communication, their synchronicity, total communion.”
She turns to me, “It must be extraordinarily beautiful.”
“Description is impossible.”
“Of course, words cannot cover such a mystery.”
“Then Nikko came along. After a time, she began to be absorbed into the two as one. And after much practice, is now as Janah and Daphne.”
Zi, “Such a thing is consciousness and life. We take things for granted, what we can do and what we think we can’t.”
“Then I was rescued by the three, and came to live with them. Daphne and I are now able to do what Janah, Daphne and Nikko can do. It is only shared between us. I can be in Daphne’s mind, she in mine, but I am not in Janah or Nikko’s. How our brains keep all that straight is unknown. The gifts are so glorious, we do not question how.”
“I should think not. In fact, I wonder if pursing answers would be counterproductive.”
“That is what Janah says. She cautions effortless intention. Open ourselves via intention, but do not chase a goal. It was pretty subtle to me at first, Daphne helped keep me on track.”
“None of it applies to the others.”
“No. So far, just the four of us. Janah and Daphne are close to Chan and Black, but there has been no mental communication between them. They have lives beyond us. Janah thinks it would be far too complicated for them to be part of the mentaling.”
“Particularly the intimacies among girls.”
Amaya laughs, “Yes, Ning and Sonia are very understanding of the connection of Janah and Daphne to their husbands. But that would be over the top.”
“Thank you for opening my eyes. I am privileged to be included in the circle. I have much on which to meditate.”
She doesn’t have to pledge allegiance, no one on Earth would discover the bond from Zi’s lips, she is Shaolin. Death is preferable to breaking such a confidence.
Janah, “And now, let’s not investigate, or question, just be here, now, together in the park on this splendid day.”
And for the next two hours, we are. People wander by, check us out, perhaps wonder if we are mimes, perfectly still. I probably should have put out a basket for tips, except being worth a few hundred million, it seems excessive.
Janah, “What’s for dinner, legs.”
“Where did all the lust go?”
“If you don’t feed me, I may not have the energy for a proper orgasm.”
“Hah! Like that’s ever happened, you could get off on bread and water.”
Janah giggles, “Conceded, still doesn’t answer my question.”
“For you, fried tofu, a four cheese mushroom omelet, cheese grits and biscuits. It’s dinner, but you’re feeling breakfasty. As a matter of fact, I’m feeling the same myself, so I’ll make if for all of us.”
Janah, “Up, girls, Daphne has a dinner plan, we’re having breakfast again.”
Zi, “Whatever Daphne makes is good. We have the best kitchen of any temple anywhere, not that I’ve been to all of them, I’ve been told so by masters from all over the world.”
“All my work, and pizza turns out to be the favorite dish.”
Zi, “You invented the pizzas, and you are responsible for us having a pizza oven at all. Modesty doesn’t suit you, Daphne. Our kitchen and its reputation is entirely your doing.”
“Thank you,” a snappy rejoinder seems inappropriate.
Janah, “Are we ready to move along?”
We are, and we rise as one, walk to the condo.