Chapter Thirty Seven

Tea time, light snacks, Amaya sings, Chloe plays the flute, something in Japanese, which I don’t speak, but Janah does so I listen in her mind for a bit, then decide it’s better to concentrate on the flow of her song and the clarity of her voice than to grasp lyrics. Nikko plays shamisen, and Amaya flute while Chloe dances. A lovely hour of beauty and grace.
Daria and Eloise steal back up to the workshop, must be building a Starship, Dasha goes with them to take a look. I set the steaks out, I prefer grill them at room temperature than cold from the refrigerator, but they say on a zillion degree grill it makes no difference. Lay out potatoes, cook the spinach, then go for my cobbler.
It’s a common enough recipe, I don’t have any magic tricks, butter, flour, Splenda instead of sugar, baking powder, an egg, nutmeg instead of cinnamon, vanilla. I decide to add chopped walnuts, toast those for ten minutes, then mix, drizzle the dough around evenly. It will settle into the mix and spread when it’s cooked. I’ll add a crunchy granola top layer near the end, then brown it a tad.
Nothing much to do for the next half hour, I flip through the Sunday Times online. Dasha comes down the stairs.
“They have the fleet ready?”
Dasha, “One only, not feenish yet, Dahfoney, beeg project. Eloise ees figure weight problem and whether to put dart gun on top or bottom. How to make five or seex darts for drone, not one only.”
“Sounds complicated.”
Dasha, “Da, then maybe bahlancing problem, they wheel feex. Daria and Eloise same, like to have problem, eenteresting for them. Enough for that, I will make creamy speenach now.”
I keep paging through the paper, then Amaya appears, “Cocktail hour, Dasha, want vodka?”
Dasha, “Da. For Daria also, she ees coming now.”
Amaya makes chilled martinis, no vermouth, just vodka, ice in the shaker, get it good and cold into stainless steel martini glasses she keeps in the freezer. She’s laid out the additions, bitters, cocktail onions, pimento stuffed queen olives. Our drinkers all like vodka, with varying taste in flavorings.
Amaya, “ I also bought orange bitters in addition to Angostura and Peychaud’s, less bite, nice mildly orange flavor.”
“You guys are getting to be vodka connoisseurs.”
Amaya, “Except for Daria, she wants hers from freezer to shot glass. She alternates between Russian Standard Platinum and Tito’s handmade, which is made from corn, not wheat. My preference is both, Daria says Russian standard has better umami.”
Umami is mouth appeal, what the Japanese call pleasant savory taste. There are four tastes, sweet, sour, salt, bitter, many chefs call umami the fifth. It’s why we add MSG to food. Everything else we call taste is actually smell, you don’t taste roast beef, you smell it, same with garlic, all the herbs, anything.
Dasha, “Dahfoney, ees time to microwave potato.”
I poke them with a fork to keep them from exploding, when they’re cooked, put them in the oven to crisp the skins after coating them with olive oil, sea salt, parsley and garlic. The family is gathered around the table with wine or various vodka cocktails.
I start chopping romaine, dress with parmesan, lemon juice, olive oil, egg, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and black pepper, anchovies on the side to accommodate Janah, the house vegetarian. Put the mix in the refrigerator to stay chilled. Croutons available to add on serving. Take out the cobbler, sprinkle the top with granola, back in the oven for ten. Then on to grilling filets.
They enjoy salad while I finish the steaks, Dasha has grilled a vegetable mix for Janah to add to her potato, we have the usual lineup of, chives, sour cream , butter and caviar to dress up the potatoes. Then, finally, time to eat. There are two bottles of wine open Cabernet and Chianti, help yourself.
Zi, “Dasha, Daphne, these meals just get better, thank you for yet another amazing dinner.”
Dasha, “Cooking ees relax.”
“She’s right, it’s our meditation.”
Chloe, “Then meditate as much as you would like. I feel exactly as one should feel after such a meal, perfectly mellow.”
“I suggest you agree on a movie, refresh wine or drinks while we clean up. Later we have a cobbler I think you’ll enjoy.”
Janah, “There’s a flick called Girls Against Boys that sounds rather up our alley.”
Halfway though, I have cherry apple cobbler and vanilla bean ice cream set out. The girls cue up to get their combo preference and back to the flat screen to finish watching girls whack bad boys.
The movie is pretty bad, doesn’t take any brainpower to follow, Janah and I mental, “Have you given any more thought to the business of Daria seeing thing in slo-mo, and backwards?”
Janah, “Some people have vision that works that way, it’s a neurological problem frequently causes by lesions, Akinetopsia,  inability to see motion despite normal spatial acuity, flicker detection, stereo and color vision. They have visual space perception and can identify shapes, objects, and faces. It’s like they see only a picture at a time. So, for instance, if they pour a cup of coffee, they tend to overfill it, or they see a bus down the street but they don’t see it moving.”
“Sounds dangerous.”
“Some people learn to adjust by listening, or interpret people in different positions from one sighting to the next as motion.”
“Daria doesn’t have trouble navigating.”

Janah, “No, she may have a version of the problem, but not as described in the literature.”
“Does it happen all at once, or is it progressive?”
“Both, sometimes all at once, like a lesion, sometimes in Alzheimer’s patients. I’m not too worried about that in Daria’s case, she says she can make it happen, it doesn’t just happen to her out of the blue.”
“What is it good for?”

Janah, “She can reexamine an incident. Play it backwards and look at it like a photograph, a version of what people call photographic memory. I can remember details as well, but I don’t see things frame by frame while it’s happening like she does. And I have to sweep the room visually to recall details of it. She is recording what she sees like a camera that can focus on every part of the room equally.”
“Sheesh, she could run out of memory, couldn’t she?”
“If we don’t make an effort to recall it, it gets overwritten or fades.”
“Good thing, you have any idea how much stuff you’ve read?”

Janah, “Too much. I meditate, in part, to slow down my brain, otherwise it’s an information junkie constantly in search of a fix.”
Janah and I are on one side of the couch, she has one foot propped on the seat, the other on the floor. Her little robe is parted just at the point of fascination, I slide my hand along her thigh and let it rest atop that fascination, her leg cocks over to the side.
Janah, “You’re warming me.”
“Suppose I give you a different kind of fix when the movie’s over?”

Janah, “That would be lovely”
“I have just the equipment for the task.”


Chapter Thirty Eight

After Janah’s third or fourth orgasm, the final with a toy from behind, she goes to the bathroom to freshen. The door cracks open, and a tiny sylph scoots under the covers, then over me, then down me. Kisses on my legs, I feel her face and hands up against my thighs, a gentle bite to the inside on one leg, then a tongue tasting.
Janah returns, “I see you have a mouse, should I…?”
“I don’t think she cares if you’re here, she knew you were in here in the first place. Maybe she likes it.”

Janah, “Good, I can enjoy the late show.”
Eloise has the covers down, she’s as naked as we are, her tongue makes contact  and sends me off to fairyland, sugar plums and a dreamy climax.
She straddles one thigh, I feel her slick lubrication, hips ride my leg, she leans forward, wraps her legs around, slips her tongue in my mouth. I feel slim legs clamp and grind, hands clutch my hair, passionate kiss, then she looks in my eyes while she gasps, gasps, gasps and shudders, a little leaf in a self created hurricane.
I’m blanketed by her, feel her tongue lick my lips, a small bite on my earlobe and a whisper, almost a breath only, “Couldn’t sleep for fantasizing,” she kisses me on the lips, rolls off and sits on the edge of the bed.
Both small hands run slowly down one leg and up the other, she stands and leaves.
Janah, “You have a sex disciple, earlier today, again tonight.”
“I’m up to it.”

Janah, “So I noticed. She could have stayed with us.”
“I think she likes being with Daria and Dasha, although it’s handy that we have an adjoining door. She can slip in anytime.”

Janah, “I like watching girls do you, you’re so willingly responsive.”
“It’s important to offer encouragement.”

Janah giggles, we cuddle and drift away.
It’s Monday, which for me is like any other day unless we’re traveling. We do, however, have working girls who need to be breakfasted. Today, Dasha and I offer biscuits, ham and sausage, poached eggs, mixed berries with a choice of vanilla yogurt or Chantilly crème.
Dasha spoons caviar on her eggs, looks tasty, I sprinkle mine, it is tasty.
“What are you guys up to today?”
Daria, “Check business accounting, four new tenants for property management company will take most of the day. Eloise will go to condo and check servers, and the new auto system.”
“Must be fine or Kara would have called.”
Nikko, “Janah are you going to the temple?”
Janah, “I think not, I have admin stuff, but I can do it from here.”
Amaya, “I am updating Vesnushki’s fan page, she has to read through her comments and talk to Mayumi about photos submitted by fans. That will suck up the morning. I have a phone conference about the movie at two. By the way, Nikko, Mayumi and Katsumi have been doing this for nothing, I think compensation is in order. Chloe and I will pay them, I’m letting you know since you handle the disbursements.”
Nikko, “What do you want to pay them?”
Amaya, “I think a subsidy of twenty thousand a year, each, will be warmly received. I want to bonus them for their work to date, fifty thousand between the two.”
Nikko, “Tell them they will get a 1099 and will be paying tax.”
Amaya, “Will do, I’ll e-mail you their bank information.”
Girls scoot off to their responsibilities, Dasha and I will spend the morning scouring the kitchen, then foraging for a simple lunch.
“Dasha, check refrigerator and pantry so we don’t duplicate, if we need to we can make a grocery run. There’s lunch, tea and dinner tonight, breakfast in the morning.”
Dasha, “Tonight Marconi, no cooking. I will make bleu chizz burghers for lunch, garden bleu chizz for Janah, with cheeps and peekel. For tea, we will make no flour chocolate cookie.”
“So you need ground sirloin, do we have bleu cheese?”
“Da. Need cocoa powder, powder shugar, chop almond, ohnyon, mushroom, Crustini bun for burgher.”
“Got it.”
I go online to the supermarket, order what we need, it will be delivered in an hour. New York is great, they’ll bring you anything you want, right to your door. In our case, as far as Chapman’s security, they call us and we collect it.
I gather sheets and towels for laundry while Dasha starts scrubbing, polishing and wiping down in the kitchen. We like our workspace spotless and organized. After I have both washers going, I join in and we have the place pristine in another hour.
Security calls, downstairs to collect the delivery, then Dasha and I vacuum and dust the common areas of our apartment, individual rooms are mostly handled by the occupants. Amaya is fussy, she can be found regularly stripping beds in the twins’ room and scouring their bathroom. Dasha is good about neat; Daria and Eloise would live like the homeless if we left it up to them. Zi takes care of her and Nikko’s room, I do Janah’s and mine. Janah generally does our laundry. Our philosophy is if something needs doing, do it. We cut Daria and Eloise slack because they are grinding out neat technology for us, it’s not like they spend the day downloading music and texting friends.
We gather for lunch, Chloe has a burger rave, “God these are so good, mushrooms and onion mixed in the burger, bleu cheese on top, simple pleasures.”
Amaya, “Simple for you, you do not cook squat, do you even know how to operate the grill?”
Chloe smiles, “Let’s see, the last time I saw you cooking was….”
Amaya, “Touché, Vesnushki, it is out of our kindness and compassion. Daphne and the Russian thug enjoy it, we would only deprive them of happiness.”
Janah, “You are becoming Buddhist, Amaya.”
Amaya, “I am a student of Buddhism Beyond, Daphinity, enlightened self absorption.”
Janah, “There’s something in that, Daphne said a long time ago that doing away with the self is still about the self.”
Amaya, “Exactly. May as well face up, there is no such thing as selflessness. Ultimately, we do what we do out of self gratification, all other alleged motivations are rationalization.”
“Cold, girl.”
Amaya, “Oh please, Daphne, you know it is true.”
Janah, “What about the woman who jumps in the freezing lake to save a child she doesn’t know?”
Amaya, “Instinct, she is in before she has thought about it. And for that matter, what about all the other people standing around that do not jump?”
Janah giggles, “That’s a point.”
Dasha, “Eemaya not jump in lake, get wet like drowning rat.”
Amaya, “My dear Slavic socialist, one never knows how one will react, we can say we would do this or that, then completely contradict ourselves at the moment of truth.”
“She’s right, Dasha, we only think we can predict ourselves in advance. Sometimes we act as we predict, but when something comes along life threatening, the brain pushes our predictions aside and takes over. Decisions are made we never get a chance to think about. Has to be that way, thinking takes too long.”
Dasha, “Da, Dasha ees understanding. Now I will clean table and make no flour cookie, predeect fahmahley will enjoy at tea.”
We laugh, Amaya says, “That is too easy, those things are super good,” she kisses Dasha, “now I have to prepare for my conference call. We are finalizing production dates and budgets, thank you both, burgers were as I would have predicted, splendid.”
She leaves, I ask Daria, “Things okay at the condo?”
Daria, “Eloise says it works, Kara calls it her command center. She is making picture.”
“She’s painting a picture about the system?”
Daria, “Da, is called Techno-Girl, she paint for Eloise.”
“What did you think, Eloise?”
In her near whisper, she says, “I didn’t know what to think, or to say, I cried.”
“Best thing you could have said.”
Kara has already done an abstract 3D portrait of the twins, an amazing overlay of one identical face over another, an illusion, from one angle you see one face on top then the other on top from a slightly different angle. It was displayed at one of her showings and she drew offers north of a million dollars. It isn’t for sale, but it jacked up the prices for the ones that were. Now it’s in the girls’ room, the only art hanging on the one eggshell wall, the rest of the walls are art, painted by Lacy on two, the fourth is my hanshi calligraphy, 雙胞胎, twins.
We go off to our respective projects, I deal with clean up, Dasha mixes the batter for flourless chocolate cookies, adds toasted almond slivers to the mix and plops them out on the pan lined with parchment paper, sets the timer, nothing to do but wait.

Chapter Thirty Nine

 “Get your film kicked off?”
Amaya, “Yes, we go to California in a month, I hope everyone can make it, we always have fun out there.”
Janah, “I like Santa Monica, particularly Shutters, you have dates?”
Amaya, “Posted them on the family site.”
Janah mentals Nikko, Nikko replies, “We can go for a week, then Zi and I need to get back.”
Janah asks the twins, “You guys want to go?”
Dasha, “Da, Cahleefornia ees gud,” she checks in with Daria, who is with Nikko.
Dasha, “What about Eloise?”
Janah, “She is welcome of course, she is family, would you like to go, Eloise?”
She nods a yes, smiling, I don’t think she’d been out of New York until our last trip and that was work.
Amaya, “Bring the drone, it will be fun to fly over Venice Beach.”
Janah, “I’ll make travel arrangements.”
We go off to shower and prepare for tea, Daria, Nikko and Zi arrive, deconstruct from their professional outfits to more comfortable t-shirts, the rest of us already in the comfort zone.
We gather around the low table, Dasha’s cookies the centerpiece, Nikko says, “Daria caught two errors in bookkeeping, nothing illegal or earth shattering, other than that, everything is in order. We accepted three tenants, our research found the other to be a lawsuit prone deadbeat, he’s out. So, we’re going to California again?”
Amaya, “Nikko has invested ten million of the family’s money into our movie.”
“How’s the payback work?”
Nikko, “The biggest problem is movies that are never completed, go over budget and the money runs out. Childers will come in at budget, his reputation is good on that. Everyone is salaried, except Childers, who gets points, a percentage of profit. The theater gets forty five percent of the ticket price, we get the rest. We pay production costs, any advertising, ten percent for distribution out of our end. Boiled down, the film has to gross twenty five million for us to break even. The last one was done on a smaller budget and did twenty in ticket sales, plus Netflix, Amazon and cable. The backers did well.  I think this is a decent opening for us. We have some cost savings, Amaya got paid for the rights last time, we don’t have that cost, we’d just be paying ourselves.”
Amaya, “We will make money. I put an enormous amount of creative energy into the project, it is a good story, clean, understandable, energetic and entertaining. Plus I made Chloe look good, her fans will carry the ticket sales.”
Nikko, “I decided to use our money to get a firsthand look at how it works, a few millions things can go wrong on any production. Despite Amaya’s optimism, I may get an expensive education.”
Looks like we’re in the movie business, at least for Amaya’s work. This one has Chloe as a feature character, I have no idea who the other actors are. Childers likes to work with relative unknowns, Chloe is the closest thing to a star he’s used. And I’ve read Amaya’s book, there’s no need for complicated sets, blown up cars or buildings, no special effects whiz to pay. Her books are based on straightforward characterization, a combination of funny comments, sassy characters. The bad guys even have a sense of humor. The plot moves along, plenty of realistic action, Chloe won’t be flying through the air doing triple flips or healing from injuries in half a day. She’s not playing a lesbian, there’s no love interest, she’s a strong independent woman, trained in kendo, she doesn’t cringe in the corner while a guy fights off the baddies to protect her. She saves him, couple of cops who aren’t sure whose side they’re on until Chloe pulls their fat out of the fire.
I ask, “Can we go for a PG this time? There’s a fair amount of blood, but little profanity and only implied sex, a PG makes it easier for Chloe’s fan base to get in. With an R, they have to buy a ticket for some Disney crap and sneak in to our flick. That’s fine, but now that we get paid on ticket sales, someone else gets the sale, we get the audience.”
Amaya, “I have already told Childers we go PG.”
“Guess I should have known, but it didn’t come up.”
Nikko, “No, it’s a good question, Amaya and I were kicking around revenue and it popped in our heads to remind Childers that his ticket sales would explode if Chloe’s fans flocked to the movie. The only ads we’re running are on Facebook, Mayumi will have trailers and stills on Chloe’s page, both on Facebook, YouTube and Google+. Any fan who snaps themselves with a ticket will get posted on her page and two lucky fans will be flown to New York to spend a day at one of her photo shoots. Photos of that will also be posted on her pages.”
“That is a cool idea.”
Amaya, “Of course it is, I thought of it.”
Nikko, “We also start to compensate Mayumi and Katsumi for their work on the fan page. They’ve done it for fun, but volumes are high, we really need to cover their time.”
Chloe, “They dress up the pages, follow me around on shoots, get comments from other models and the photographers.”
“They say nice things?”
Amaya, “They realize her reach and that their mug and name will appear on her pages. They are happy to be interviewed, and Chloe always gushes about their work, we link to their other shoots, give them free exposure.”
“Dang, that’s slick.”
Nikko, “We learned it from Susan. She’s always sending along her overflow to other consultants, singing their praises. She’s made a ton of money doing it because she didn’t do it for money.”
(Dear Intelligent Reader, do absorb that lesson.)
Mrs. Epstein calls, “Hello Daphne, how are you and your family?”
“Hi, Mrs. Epstein, doing great. Lots of work, Janah is really busy with the Society. You are well I trust.”
Mrs. Epstein, “ About as well as someone my age can expect. I’m calling to update you on Bernie.”
Uh oh, we talk to Mrs. E every week, and know that Dr. Epstein is fading fast, her calling us isn’t good news.
She continues, “He has perhaps a week, but his doctors tell me anytime really. He’s out of it most of the time, and he has a morphine drip he can control when he wakes. It’s time he uses it for more than pain.”
“Not until we come and see him.”
Mrs. Epstein, “That’s why I’m calling, he wants to see his girls once more before…”
“When is good?”
Mrs. Epstein, “Tomorrow, I think just you, Janah and Nishiko.”
“Gosh, Susan is going to be sad, she’s still in Europe.”
Mrs. Epstein, “Can’t be helped, she had no way of knowing he would slip this rapidly and Bernie wouldn’t want her to interrupt her plans. Actually, he’s enjoyed her travelogue, she sends along such beautiful pictures and cute video of she and Taylor.”
“They are due back next week.”
Mrs. Epstein, “Then don’t spoil her last week, I’ve already told James to let it go until they return. Come over around ten.”
“See you then.”
Janah, “We knew that call was coming.”
“Yep, still sad, he and dad go back a thousand years, we’ve known them for over twenty. Wonder what Mrs. E will do?”
Janah, “Don’t know, married for sixty years, she’s in her eighties, he spent a fair amount of time at the hospital, she has friends, but they are her age now and many have passed away. She’s going to need a nurse soon enough.”
“Maybe Eloise should automate her place.”
Janah, “Good idea, at least partially, and she needs to be connected to us, maybe cameras, I don’t know. Bad things tend to happen to the elderly in the bathroom and we can’t be sticking cameras in there. If it gets down to it, you and I will stay with her. A nurse is fine for medical and personal care, but they aren’t exactly friends.”
“Good by me. Wonder if we should let the others go to Los Angeles and we stay here.”
Janah, “She’s not that near her time unless there’s something undiagnosed. You can tell if she’s ill, check her tomorrow just in case. Anyway, Susan will be back, she and Kara will look after her.”
And so it goes, we have an ordinary night, don’t get into Dr. Epstein, let the family have its cocktails, enjoy Marconi’s Italian and each other.

Chapter Forty

Janah, Nikko and I are around Dr. Epstein’s bed, he’s pale, a shell of himself, in pain, determined to have one final word with us, “We’ve had a long run girls, all still girls, the rest of us deteriorating into old age. You’ve given your father and me many hours of interesting conversation, never close to an explanation. We decided no explanation was far more fun than scientific rigmarole. Ted Jensen retired and still calls James about the mystery”
Janah, “Dad always said Dr. Jenson was an artist with a scalpel, he’s saved thousands of minds.”
Dr, Epstein, “He was, but brain surgery is close work, age is its enemy. He spent his last couple of years in the operating room letting younger surgeons do the cutting, he suggested where to cut.”
Janah, “The Society is busy, your work is ongoing and will continue.”
Dr. Epstein, “I know it’s a dose of vigilante, but I never regretted it, not once. We relieved a lot of suffering, a psychiatrist’s highest calling in my opinion.”
Janah, “And we have children, many now adults, happy and enjoying life as a consequence, four of which live with us. Many more out in the world, or healing in our ranches and schools, all due to your initiative many years ago.”
Dr. Epstein, “After we met you and Daphne, Martha pressed me on following though with the frustrations of our friends, too many children abused, too many women, right here in our vaunted self satisfied America. I love many things about our country, but the weight of the abused, with so little support, I had to do something.”
Janah, “And you did. There will always be more than we can fix, to do nothing is inexcusable.”
Dr. Epstein, “Girls, you have been the pinnacle of my intellectual life, I have only meager ways of thanking you. I have not met the intellectual challenge of your capabilities, but I have damned sure enjoyed contemplating them,” he winces, this short conversation has been a struggle, “it is time.”
We kiss his cheek, stroke his brow, he clicks his morphine feed, he will be gone soon, we shed our tears, even Nikko.
Mrs. Epstein, “He wanted you to be here when he passed, he asked me to tell you he would like Daphne to offer blessings.”
She holds his hand, I offer lengthy prayers in thankfulness for his life and joy in his rebirth, the heart monitor flat lines.
Mrs. Epstein, “Thank you, Daphne, it is finished.”
She weeps, not bawling, his passing is not unanticipated.
Mrs. Epstein, “Ah, such a good life we had together. My favorite part of the day was Bernie and I in his office, his cigar, our glasses of wine, talking, listening to the symphonies.”
“You can do what Susan and I do, we talks to C-mom all the time, can hear her answer in her mind as if she’s standing right there. I’m in the ethernet with Ms. Alva frequently, and Master Tan.”
Mrs. Epstein, “I hadn’t thought of that. Sixty years, I know what he will say. That’s good. I’m certain to keep bending his ear, seeing him nod, puff his cigar, make a cogent observation. I’ll need to call the funeral people. We will have a small memorial dinner after your mother returns, he wanted to be cremated immediately. I’m not doing any kind of funeral, people tend to be kind, so they attend, but no one really wants to. I’ve been to too many and didn’t relish going to any.”
Janah, “Shall I call?”
Mrs. Epstein, “Thank you, dear. The information is by the phone on the desk.”
Janah calls, returns, “This afternoon before three, funeral home handles the death certificate, do you want to attend the cremation?”
Mrs. Epstein, “Gosh, I don’t know. The people I knew well had burials, I knew a few people that did cremations, but not well enough to get details. Do you know what happens?”
Janah, “Some people have ceremonies, a final view of the deceased. Other than that, you watch them slide the coffin into the chamber, close the door and they turn it on. The ashes go back to the funeral home and the urn is prepared for delivery.”
Mrs. Epstein, “I asked him what I should do with the ashes, he said to toss them in the East River. I’m going to spread then around at our upstate home I think, the gardens. Bernie would like the idea that he’s pushing up the daisies.”
We laugh, “Sounds like Dr. Epstein.”
Mrs. Epstein, “Which reminds me, I am going to spend the bulk of my final years up there. I have friends, bunch of old biddies like me, widows all. I’m going to have my wine, play bridge and dig around in the garden. Never could keep the thing up in the past, Bernie preferred being in town.”
It is near noon, I’m wondering if she feels like something to eat, no way to find out but to ask, “Can I get you something to eat, I doubt you did much for breakfast.”
Mrs. Epstein, “Perhaps something more like tea, pastries, cookies, not a meal.”
“Who do you use, specialty deli, grocery?”
“Food Emporium delivers.”
“Ah, yes, I can order online, I’ll take care of it.”
I order cookies, pastry and sandwiches, make coffee and tea for the wait.
Mrs. Epstein has something else on her mind, “Bernie and I decided a long time ago to make a donation to the Sylk Trust, on one of our deaths, the rest after the other. I don’t need a substantial amount of money, homes are long paid for. Bernie left a million dollar bequest to the hospital, and a million to James and Kara, the rest of his estate goes to your Trust.”
“Good gosh, Mrs. E, that is incredibly generous, thank you.”
Mrs. Epstein, “We know you support the ranches, and have the two free schools, four kids you have taken in, not children any longer, but still. We have no family other than you and your parents. The initial bequest will be twenty million. I am also asking Nikko to take over the management of my accounts and a request a favor.”
“Of course.”
“I need someone to look after the condo, make sure the fees are paid every month. I don’t want to be dealing with that. And the usual, utility bills, maintenance items. Is that any burden?”
“Not a bit, it is our pleasure to be asked.”
Mrs. Epstein, “I don’t know how long I’ll keep it. Naturally it’s part of me, so many years here. But those were with Bernie, and all of you. Now, it’s going to be a big empty place most of the time. I want to retain it until I see if settling in upstate is what I really want. I may find myself back here more than I think. The fees are enormous and the property tax is not insignificant. It occurred to me to donate the condo to the Trust now. You will be stuck with the fees however. But looked at another way, since I’m leaving you whatever I have, the fees are coming out of your future bequest anyway.”
The delivery arrives, I go to fetch it, get it on the table and we relocate to the kitchen. Pick up the thread of the conversation.
“Do you think the other owners will object, isn’t there some form of group approval?”
Mrs. Epstein, “I’ve already inquired, gave them the documentation for your Trust to validate its legitimacy. I’m hardly an unknown quantity, they know I wouldn’t donate it to just anyone and that part of the deal is that it remain residential. Anyone you sell it to will have to pass the Board. Your lawyers, Walker&Walker, are not unknown to them, several owners have used them, so you have the right attorneys. Mrs. Walker passed away, who are the living partners?”
Janah, “Plaisance, Cantrell and Whitman, a list of other partners. The place has gotten pretty big, fifty attorneys. Not counting Los Angeles, San Francisco and London. I think that’s another thirty or forty. We use them for Amaya’s work as well as our own. There were twelve when we started with them.”
I’m glad to see Mrs. Epstein eat, I’d gotten a selection of wraps, roast beef, turkey tuna and ham, three cheese for Janah, coleslaw, chips. Mixed cookies and brownies. More than we’d eat, but she might have visitors later.
Mrs. Epstein, “The Board dreamed up a few difficulties, they have to, other tenants will poke around asking questions. I got that handled when I said the head of the Trust was a Chapman’s graduate and one of the Sylk Trust board members graduated from there and another is one of your lawyers. The owner of the penthouse condo has a daughter at Chapmans. He put your Trust together with you, said his daughter would kill him if he gave us any trouble. Went into the whole business of the RSGs, that Amaya graduated from Chapmans, and that Daphne and Nikko still teach taekwondo classes there. Then someone else asked if that was Amaya the author and when I said yes, they wanted to issue a welcome letter right then.”
“Must mean there are no Shadows on the board.”
Mrs. Epstein actually laughs, “My, it is good to laugh, thank you dear.”
Twenty minutes later the funeral home people show up, Mrs. Epstein goes to the bedroom alone for five minutes, then they handle matters smoothly and efficiently.
Janah and Nikko continue with Mrs. E, I deal with bedroom linens and a general spruce up of the room.
I come out with the sheets, “Mrs. Epstein, do you want these washed, or….”
She thinks for a second, “Well, I think dispose of them.”
I find a trash bag, stuff in the sheets and pillow case, go out to the trash chute and send them to a landfill someplace.
When I return, Janah and Nikko are standing, time to go, Mrs. Epstein will want personal time. She’s not needy or despondent, she is well prepared for this and, given the inevitability, perhaps relieved. Her husband’s suffering is over and he went when he chose to go.

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