Chapter Forty Five IV
Sometimes, people just have to have it ugly.
Lunch is simple, I don’t want everyone full of carbs and slow thinking. There’s stir fried sesame tofu and mixed vegetables, a rich garlic sauce, with enough chili pepper to make everyone pay attention. I have coffee and enough oolong tea to keep even Janah satisfied.
Black, “What’s the plan, when do we start, how long will it take, how many Shaolin do we need? Or you just gonna sick Nikko on them and they all disappear?”
Janah, “We’re going to see Gamba first. I don’t want the Shaolin involved. However, they can monitor the exterior areas and the roof of the building. If the targets attempt to escape, they can deal with them. Nobody gets out.”
Black, “Well, since I know you aren’t going to kill them all, what happens?”
Janah, “I knock on his door. I tell him I have a proposal from Palumbo. He’s going to let us in.”
Black, “You’re sure of that?”
Janah smiles at him.
Black, “Okay we get in the room, there’s Gamba and a half dozen bad guys, maybe more. What do we bring? Their teeth are armed to the teeth.”
Janah, “Your skill, shuriken, they won’t find those, they will be looking for guns. Daphne and Nikko are going with katana, but they sneak in after us, invisibly. I’ll explain to Gamba that the Palumbo family is off limits, and further explain that killing anyone he chooses is off limits. If there is the slightest hint of a threat, do what you do. I don’t expect you to let them get the guns drawn, much less fired.”
Black, ‘What if Gamba himself attacks?’
Janah smiles, “Please bring the teapot to me.”
Black feels an energy surge that pushes him back against his chair. He’s big, six five, two fifty. He’s like a small child weighed down by a block of granite. He can see, talk, hear, but he can’t move.
“Point taken,” he finally says, “your time with Master Tan was not wasted.”
Janah, “We’re going to arrange a visit by representatives of Mr. Palumbo, to negotiate a settlement. Gamba will say there is no negotiation. Our contact will say that they are sure that Gamba will find the offer most suitable, and request a meeting at any place Gamba suggests, at any time. That will reassure him. It will be part of the deal that the messenger will be accompanied by two people, who will not be armed. He’ll laugh when we show up with two guys carrying nothing.”
Black, “Where will Daphne and Nikko be?”
Janah arranges the meeting. It’s not like a drug kingpin has his time rigidly scheduled. Mostly Gamba spends the day with a gaggle of women and a few of his buddies. In his eyes, he is God. God keeps his own schedule. We’ll see him tomorrow.
His primary place of business is a large office behind a bar that serves as both a front and a barrier to anyone trying to muscle their way in. Closed during the day, his men lounge around shooting pool or the shit, or both, depending on their mood and the combination of pharmaceuticals they ingest. Through the bar, and upstairs is Gamba’s domain. He isn’t into drugs. He has a glass of wine maybe, no serious alcohol, no coke, no nothing. He figured out early how stupid his product made people. It allows him to control them. He wasn’t about to put himself in the same position.
Janah and her two assistants are allowed into the bar. Gamba’s men search, Chan and Black are just large men in big sunglasses in a roomful of large men with sunglasses. Patted down, the men miss the thin, dollar coin size titanium shuriken stuck to their forearms and chests. Titanium is as strong as steel, but 45% lighter, and in its unalloyed form, has extreme rigidity. The shuriken are razor sharp at the points.
They are escorted to Gamba’s private office, half the second floor, the other half is open, storage, booze, bar stuff, cleaning supplies. Leather sofas surround the walls. Women of various nationalities lounged on them. There are a half dozen men between Janah and Gamba.
Gamba, “You think these two men, big as they are, can deal with a belly full of nine millimeters?”
Janah, “Why would I think such a thing?”
Gamba smiles, he seems satisfied. He doesn’t realize that Janah means shooting either Black or Chan would be almost impossible and, if successful, only irritate them. It doesn’t seem like the time to get into technicalities.
While Gamba is preening, Nikko and I are scaling the wall behind the bar. I have a glass cutter and tape, but the window isn’t locked. Up a floor with no fire escape, I assume they didn’t see the point, or had simply overlooked it. We drop into the storage area, slide along the wall. From my vantage point, I can see a man just outside the door to Gamba’s office. His door isn’t closed, I can both see inside and see what Janah is seeing and hearing.
Janah, “You are a busy man, with many responsibilities,” she looks around at the disinterested group of whores Gamba keeps around for his amusement, “I, in my way, have a rather busy schedule of my own. Shall we get down to business?”
“You are quite an attractive young woman. Perhaps we should have a drink, some wine, get to know each other.” Gamba counters.
“I know more about you than I want to. You are merely a type of vermin, good only for creating misery and not worth knowing. We share nothing.”
She is intentionally taunting him, and it’s working.
“Bitch, you think you can come into my house and throw this shit at me? You got a deal from Palumbo. Better get it out fast, or you won’t ever see the outside of this room. Fuck you think you fooling with?”
Janah, “If you think I’m fooling, it is you who are the fool.”
Gamba turns to his men, “Take this bitch, the nigger and the chink and make an example of them. Mail them to Palumbo in a bag, that dago fuck.”
Black and Chan have four of the men stuck in the forehead with shuriken before they can reach for their weapons. Nikko and I appear, katana drawn, two men are on the floor with missing hands. The one outside Gamba’s door is dead, victim of Nikko’s sword. One tries to get to his gun with his remaining hand, no go, too slow. The other lies staring at his non-hand, I pull the Glock from inside his belt, then kick him in the head, lights off.
Chan breaks the leg of one, crushes the hand of the other. He removes their weapons, pockets the clips and empties the chamber, tosses the guns to the floor. Black kicks one guy hard in the nuts, he passes out, the other gets a right cross so fast teeth fly. Black takes his weapon.
Gamba is shocked at the efficiency, how the two women breeched his security he can’t process, but he has the presence of mind to reach for the twenty-two automatic he keeps tucked behind his back. Somehow, though, his hand won’t move. He can’t move. He wants to move, he’s pissed, livid, but his body takes no direction from his mind. The white haired girl stands in front of him, observing, there is no emotion, no fear. Gamba, for the first time, feels the nausea of something incomprehensible.
There are four women on the couches, three are stuck in the shock of what they’d witnessed. The fourth, however, reaches for yet another Glock from the side of the couch cushion. She raises the pistol towards Janah, but never fires, mostly because four shrunken hit her, two in the face, one in the neck and another in the hand holding the gun. Nikko beheads her; the head falls to one side, the gun drops to the other.
The three other women scream.
Nikko holds her katana against one screaming woman’s throat, “Shut up.”
She slides the edge gently against the woman’s dark neck, a thin line of blood appears, the women silent, trembling.
Gamba still frozen, a plaster cast of himself. The women look around, as if waiting for reinforcements. There had been men downstairs, they must have heard something, at the very least the screams. But there is nothing.
Janah turns her attention to Gamba, “From now until the end of time and the day after, anytime you think of Palumbo, his family, me or anyone connected to me, your body will feel as if you are burning alive. You will pray for death, but it will not come. No amount of drugs, voodoo or therapy will overcome the pain. You will not sleep, it will burn your lungs to breathe. You are originally from Nigeria. Go back within a week. Never return.”
She has one final proof for Gamba, then she would allow him freedom to move, “Take out your gun.”
Gamba takes the small pistol from behind his back, he could only let it sit in his hand lying on his leg.
“Put your left foot on the table.”
“You no longer control your life, you belong to me. As a reminder that young girls are not to be turned into prostitutes, shoot your toe off.”
Gamba puts his foot up on the desk and the barrel against the toe of his left foot. He hesitates only a moment, looks at Janah and pulls the trigger. Blood seeps out of his mutilated shoe. He lays the gun on the table, Janah takes it, removes the clip and empties the chamber. She throws the gun in a bag along with the other weapons in Chan’s new collection.
The women are petrified, the men passed out from blood loss or Black’s whack on the head.
“Take the women out, I want a word with him alone.”
Black turns to them, “You heard her, up and to the next room,” he and Chan follow them out, make them sit on the floor and wait.
Janah quizzes Gamba on a matter of money, there’s always more cash than they can process into banks, no doubt much is moved out of the country.
After she gets the details, Janah releases him, the events he witnessed after she had taken control of his mind, he saw as a dream, he felt nothing, not even the pain of shooting his own toe. Now it all floods in. He shouts, he trembles, staring at his foot in the realization that she caused him to do this thing to himself. That her people had, with a couple of swords and a few throwing stars had not only neutralized, but taken apart six armed men, well used to drawing and firing their weapons, a woman hiding her own pistol, and Gamba himself.
The reason for her visit goes through his mind, Palumbo. As he thinks of the name, his brain tells him his body is in flames, it feels like his skin is melting.
Writhing in agony, he falls to the floor screaming, “Put it out, put the fire out, I’m burning to death.”
We leave him on the floor, go down the stairs into the club. Ten men are lined up against a wall, all tied head to toe.
“Our friends have been busy.”
A bag of weapons is on a pool table. Janah asks Chan to make the whole collection find its way to the bottom of the East River. It won’t stop the gun trade. Americans are far too stupid for that. It will keep these guns from any further murder.
‘Do what you can do, and walk away,’ Janah thinks. If she turned them in, they would be stolen from the police property evidence and used as backups, throw downs or resold to fresh new criminals.
Black, “The Shaolin were exemplary in their silence and efficiency. I called Master Kahn and gave him a general description of the problem. I could feel his attention and focus when I talked to him. I would be surprised if he hadn’t overseen the actual work himself.”
I say, “He was here, in person.”
Black, “That nose, sheesh.”
Nikko, “She has the scent of a bloodhound and can tell if anyone she’s ever known had been in a room. Each person has a pheromone unique to themselves. The average human can’t tell, not sensitive enough. Daphne can do it and can do it in reverse. If someone she doesn’t know had been there, and she comes across them later, she will know it’s the same person.”
Chapter Forty Six IV
Janah, “Going to be payday in this. There are safes here, and in the basement. Gamba thought I should have the combinations. Let’s empty them.”
After they unload six safes, Black says, “There’s a lot of money in those bags.”
Janah, “I estimate twelve million. Five of us, two point four million each. And there’s a warehouse four blocks over where they count and wrap it. We’re going to help ourselves to that too.”
Twenty minutes later, we’re parked down the street from an industrial block of buildings. Welders, a scrap dealer, some sort of manufacturing facility, and a stand alone on the back side. That’s the spot.
Nikko, “Got a couple of guys outside, nobody on the roof.”
“Too conspicuous to have someone patrolling the roof. Be a billboard advertising ‘illegal activity here’.”
Janah, “Is there access from the roof?”
Nikko, “Let me back further down, better angle,” she reverses a half block, “nope, nothing sticking up.”
“There’s a fire escape on the next building, hang on.”
I go down the street hop up the fire escape, back to the car, “Flat, only an air conditioning unit. Must use ladders when they need to do anything up there.”
Chan, “Black and I will remove guards, then inside to see what’s what.”
“You need to figure out what to do about the security camera over the door. Start busting up guards in front and they see it inside, we’ll never get in.”
Black, “Good thing you spotted it, it’s white like the building, sort of blends in.”
Janah, “Need a few ideas, even one idea.”
“If Black can get them looking at him, I can get to the camera.”
Black, “Then they gonna see it go down.”
“Yep, and someone is going to open the door to investigate.”
Nikko, “They’re going to have weapons inside, likely automatic ones, and we don’t know how many more guards.”
Chan, “One of the outside ones will tell me.”
Janah, “While you subdue them, Nikko will drive the SUV across the door enough to block the view from the street. It will look like a delivery or pickup.”
Black exits and heads up the block, Nikko drives to the other side, Chan and I get out. We ease down the block until we see Black coming, near enough to strike up a conversation. It’s tricky, he wants to be close enough to talk, but out of range of the camera.
“Yo, I came with a message from Gamba.”
Guard One, “Who is Gamba?”
“Your boss, or I should say, your former boss. Gamba is not just the leader of the Dead Niggas, he is a dead nigga.”
They look at each other, take a few steps towards Black, “How you know dis? We don’t know you, never seen you aroun’.”
I’m racing towards the building, Chan keeps going toward the men, their backs to him. I leap, plant one foot on the building and use it for a boost. One hand stretches and snags the camera. Sucker is drilled into the concrete block. I’m hanging on, use my other hand to twist the mechanism until the lens is pointed skyward. I keep twisting until I hear a snap. The lens faces the building at an angle now and I’m pretty sure I busted the gear. I drop to the ground.
Nikko pulls across the doorway, Guard One is face down on the asphalt. Guard Two is telling Chan the setup inside. Like Gamba with Janah, he can’t help but talk, his mind isn’t his own now. Chan holds his neck, the man passes out next to his partner.
Chan, “Three inside, automatic weapons. There are the counters, but they aren’t armed, they aren’t anything but naked. This is just money, cocaine is packaged elsewhere.”
Just then, the door cracks open, a voice, “Wilson, cameras screwed up, what the…”
Black yanks on the door, grabs the man by the throat with his left and smashes him against the inside wall. His weapon is uselessly hanging across his back. Guess it looked cool that way, seems stupid now. Two knuckles of Blacks’ massive fist crack the man in the temple. He sinks to the floor. I take the gun, empty the clip and the chambered round.
The place looks like a common warehouse. Chan leads us through a maze of stacked boxes, light comes from the rear.
Chan, “They do the count in there.”
There’s a wall of fence and a door in the middle. I assume it’s usually locked, but they left it open when the guard went to find out about the camera. Two men, rifles slung across backs, are peering into a video screen, fiddling with controls of a camera that isn’t going to work again. Black and Chan, silent Shaolin monks, are on them before anyone notices.
Janah, “We have everyone taped up out here, we dragged the outside guys inside. I see things are under control.”
“Yes, got to deal with the women.”
There’s a frenzy of curiosity, some fear, who are we, are we going to slaughter everyone?
“Ladies, be cool, everyone speak English?”
One says, “You bite off beeg problem girl. You know whose place this is?”
“I’ll worry about that. None of you will be hurt, we aren’t here to kill anyone. Just need to make a small withdrawal and we’ll be on our way. What’s in the boxes outside?”
Janah, “Transportation is delivering a panel van. Nikko and I will load up the SUV and take it home. You can load the van. Keep someone at the door, we don’t know who brings the cash or what the schedule is.”
I got to the front, help with the last couple of boxes that will fit, they take off. Ten minutes later a black nothing van pulls up, trailed by a sedan. Van driver gets out, gets in the sedan, it drives away.
We load the van, Black takes the passenger seat, Chan squeezes in the remaining space, I have a thought and go back to where the women are.
“Ladies, Gamba is as good as dead, his main men are also permanently incapacitated. If you were to take some of the remaining cash, and there’s a lot of it, you can disappear. I’d do it quickly, before the next delivery or pickup happens. You must know the schedule. Good luck.”
I have no idea what they decide to do, we’re in the condo doing our own count.
Black, “Near fifty million, plus the twelve. What do we do with it?”
Janah, “Split it. Five of us in, five way split.”
Black and Chan are deconstructing the bit of disguise they used. Watch cap for Chan, ball cap for Black, big sunglasses. Black washes off a fake scar I’d stuck on his face, Chan does the same for the fake tattoo hànzi I painted on his neck.
“Leave the caps and glasses, I’ll get rid of them, what about the guns?”
Chan, “Black and I will dispose of them if we can borrow the car.”
Janah, “Good, and Black, after you drop off Chan, just take the car home, we’ll collect it or get Transportation to do it.”
Black, “No need, I’ll drop it back here, subway is simple to Brooklyn, probably get home faster too.”
Janah, Nikko and I are having tea, “Out of the blue millionaires, dang.”
Chapter Forty Seven IV
Janah, “Despite a veneer of graciousness, Carlos will be equally violent. The Society says he is more cautious than Gamba, who relied on firepower. I’ll take a different approach. Everyone just go with the flow. When the action starts, you’ll know what to do.”
Carlos will see only limited protection, same as Gamba. Since his hombres are loaded to the neck with guns and ammunition, he would see the two large men and two strange women as some sort of affectation. As if Janah expected their presence to intimidate him. That would be his second mistake. His first mistake is to take a meeting with Janah at all, but he has no way of knowing what she wants, and he is a confident curious man.
The compound is well guarded. Janah dresses in her usual antique fabric Geminola long dress and shawl. Her hair is black, her blue eyes covered with dark contact lenses. She resembles a Spanish noblewoman. We don’t bring katana. We don’t want the obvious association between the visit to Gamba and the second visit to Carlos, none of us appear to be armed. Nikko and I use the same general stage makeup, but leave our hair loose, mine streaked in white, Nikko’s in red, but side to side. Her hair looks like a stack of alternating red and black casino chips, a zodiac-like symbol tattooed on her face. It isn’t anything, I just drew a made-up hànzi on her cheek. I have a jagged scar down one cheek to my neck, black lipstick. We have our gloves and chains that appear to be only jewelry. Janah has long stick-on fingernails, painted black.
Carlos appears, intrigued by the presence of three women, the simple elegance surrounding Janah, and the dispassionate detached aura of the other two. The men he considered of no consequence. They had no weapons, they were large, but not impervious to bullets. He is casual and gracious, unlike his counterpart Gamba.
“Senorita, welcome to my home. I am Carlos, and you are..."
Janah, "Senorita Marias, Luisa."
Carlos, “Please, step inside, I have refreshments prepared, I am most anxious to hear what your concern is regarding Senor Palumbo and his associates.”
Janah, “You, Senor Toledo Vargas, have breeding, and are well mannered, unlike your competitor Gamba and his unfortunately named Dead Niggas.”
Carlos, “Gracias, Senorita Marias. I am honored to be visited by such an elegant young woman, and her cadre of associates. One can’t be too careful in these ugly times. As you see, I am not without resources myself.”
Janah, “It’s good to do business with an astute and intelligent man.”
Carlos, “Bueno. Then you must also realize that I cannot simply allow Mr. Palumbo to ignore my requests for his cooperation. And I will do what is necessary to insure his cooperation.”
Janah smiles, “You are a man of significant power and wealth, she runs off a list of his accounts, and an estimate of his net worth that was in tenths of a percent of the actual value. Carlos’ eyes widen, enough let Janah know she has his full attention.
“Even if I had such wealth, what does that have to do with my demand for Palumbo’s assistance?”
She cocks her head, as if she is talking to a small child, “Everything. I am asking you to guarantee Palumbo and his family’s health and long life. It is not so hard for a man in your position to buy his own politicians. Palumbo is retired, his family’s interests in no way conflict with yours. What is the point of threats against their lives?”
Palumbo. “If I never demonstrate my power, it serves no purpose. Currently, certain competitors of mine and I have reached a tenuous kind of peace. But he is a perpetual threat over my head, Palumbo’s disgrace will help him understand he is no match for Carlos Andres Toledo Vargas.”
Janah, “And if I guarantee you there is no longer a threat from Gamba?”
Carlos laughs, “Your guarantee is worthless. You, two men and two women, guarantee no further interference from Gamba? You waste my time, Senorita Marias.”
Janah, “May I suggest your sources check on Gamba, and see if my word is good. Then have your accountant review your financial statements. You will find they have been reduced by exactly ten percent. You will attempt to trace the missing funds. You will find it impossible. You will then naturally instruct your people to change the accounts, move the funds to new locations. Despite that, when you check your accounts the next day, you will find an additional ten percent missing. Then you will call me at this number,” she places a card in front of him, “either you will agree to forget you ever knew the name Palumbo or, by the next day, you will have nothing. I will remove your green card status in the United States, and that of all your men. Then US Immigration will come and you’ll be sent penniless to Bogotá, where I understand several former associates would like to speak with you regarding the disappearance of family members and friends.”
Carlos laughs, it is hollow, Janah sees his moment of fear, she is quiet spoken and confident in the home of a well protected powerful man. He wonders why she has any interest in this, and why take such a gamble?
Carlos, “Palumbo is getting desperate. He no longer has his army, reduced to sending women. It is dishonorable to send women to take such risks. He must have offered a great deal of money.”
Janah doesn’t reply.
He is incapable of understanding his dilemma, “You expect me to buy such a fantasy? That you are remotely capable of carrying out your threat? What other miracles can you produce, senorita?”
She closes her eyes, in a few seconds, Carlos’ wine glad starts to vibrate, then it explodes in his hand. He’s splattered with wine, his face cut with shattered glass. His genetic predilections take over.
“You are a bruja, a witch! You think I am some superstitious Mexican pig? You think I will fall for parlor tricks when hundreds of millions of dollars are involved? You will have to do much more than break a wine glass, bruja.”
Janah looks in his eyes, he tries to close them, can’t. They begin to bleed, blood runs from his eyes, from his nose. Then his ears. The men in the room are at first frozen, then reach for weapons. Shuriken fly, Nikko’s chain slices one’s face in half, then she wraps it around his wrist. My necklace takes the thumb of the other. Guns clatter to the floor. Black’s massive fist crushes the face of a third man while his other wraps around the Glock, Black breaks his wrist. Chan pushes the remaining one, sending him completely across the fifteen foot room and into a bookcase, which collapses around him. He hadn’t even gotten his weapon out.
Carlos cringes behind his big desk. He tries for a gun in the drawer. He can’t pull it open. The harder he yanks, the more blood runs down his face. His white shirt stained crimson.
Janah, “If you are still not satisfied, I can make it far worse. I expect to hear from you in no less than twenty four hours. Adios, senor.”
Chan gathers the guns in the room and puts them in a leather satchel. As before, when we leave, there are a dozen men tied up, packed like sardines in a can on the lawn. Chan takes another satchel of weapons. He will drown them in the East River with the first batch.
Carlos calls the next day, “Bruja, you have cost me millions. Carlos does not cringe in the corner as Gamba the black one. In fact, I’ve confirmed you have removed my competitor for me. That changes nothing, particularly since you have humiliated me in my own home.”
“If one may point out, I did nothing but ask a simple favor. It was your pathetic macho that brought this trouble.”
“You continue to insult me. Bruja, you have your resources, I have mine. I have many millions more, and I will make you, and your family, pay for my inconvenience. I do not believe you can so easily trace my accounts. Not to mention the money that is in cash, in a very safe place. Prepare yourself. I do not yet know who you are, but I will. Palumbo himself will tell me or I will slaughter one of his beloved grandchildren every week until he does. He has them well protected for now, but they cannot hide forever. When I find them, there will be no mercy.”
“As you wish. So far, you have paid a small, almost painless price. You have changed my mind.”
“So you begin to see reason?”
Janah, “Yes, I see you determined to destroy yourself, so I will not give you any more time, tomorrow you will be a hunted pauper.”
Carlos, “We shall see, bruja, we shall see.”
The Society knows where he keeps his cash, a vault in a warehouse near LaGuardia. That night, the warehouse security is breached, guards all unconscious thanks to my dart rifle and Chan’s silent silencing of the rest. We blow the vault open, take the cash. It takes a dozen monks half the night, stacks of cash to be packaged and moved to the temple.
Carlos’ other accounts are emptied, he’s dry as moon dust.
This time Janah doesn’t wait for his call, she dials his direct cell number from one of her throwaway phones, “Your green card status is revoked, as are all of your men who aren’t already illegals. You are penniless, your credit cards will be declined. You will be expedited to Bogotá before the week is passed. The sound I hear in the background is Immigration at your door. Your former Bogotá associates, many of whom have suffered at your hands, are welcoming your return. You have, at most, a week to live.”
Carlos has no time to reply, Janah hears the crash of a door and, “Hands over your head! On your knees, now!”
She disconnects. Instead of Carlos accepting the loss of a few million dollars he would never have missed, he signed his own death warrant. He would not make it from the steps of the plane to the terminal of the Bogotá airport.
Gamba might, if he didn’t lose his mind first, make it back to selling drugs, but in Nigeria. He would be forever shaken, any thought of the Palumbo family, the girl or her associates would sear his body in white heat. At least, that’s what his brain would tell him, it was the same pain, without the physical injury. It didn’t matter that he saw no physical injury, he felt it, worse, because the pain was there with no visible cause. He will appear to be insane, someone would likely take him out and step up to take his business. Janah won’t interfere unless the drug business moves to killing innocents. She doubted it. The men around Gamba have seen things beyond comprehension. There is plenty enough money in selling drugs, they don’t need the strange white girl and her friends in their lives again.
We enter the Village Diner a couple of days after Carlos had been flown to Bogotá, then shot a dozen times as he came down the steps from the jet that brought him. He never actually set foot on Columbian soil, or even the concrete tarmac of the airport.
Mini, “I know you went in disguised, and I know nobody can lay a finger on you. But your people are well known in certain beneath the radar communities. I got guys all over the state calling me. All over the state correctional facilities that is. The story of two of the most powerful drug gangs the city taken down by three women and two guys didn’t take long to get to that network.”
Janah, “Well, we had help. I’m more concerned that we are known at all. Disguising ourselves has, apparently little value in New York. I suppose that should have been obvious. I did it primarily to throw Gamba and Carlos off the scent until we had it figured out. Do you think there will be retaliation from associates down the food chain? I need to protect my family and friends.”
Mini, “I wouldn’t think too hard about it. Your reputation with certain elements of the incarcerated has risen to the level of goddess. Many of these guys had friends and family either brutalized or murdered by Gamba or Carlos. The word is out. Anyone so much as thinks about retaliation is a dead man. Besides, you gave others the opportunity to move in. The drug business isn’t going away. It was largely monopolized by two gangs. The rest of the gangs see their chance. They’ve seen what you can do, and they have the additional incentive of clear warnings from serious people. Sell to adults, sell by adults. No murder of innocents. Any other outcome will be dealt with in a terminal manner.”
“It’s a strange feeling. The admiration of these men. They are who they are, most will be on the other side of the law for the rest of their lives. But, apart from personal self protection, they aren’t consciousless killers. I’m on the other side of the law a fair amount of the time. I presume they understand, if they cross the line and it comes to our attention, they don’t catch a break.”
Mini, “Already made clear. The ones directly affected, they won’t forget. You can call on them for anything, they would never refuse. Even the ones who want to go straight when they get out.”
“I would never put them in jeopardy of being sent back to prison. I respect those who have seen the light. We have access to a substantial amount of cash to help put them on their feet. Carlos had a ton of money and securities. It now belongs to us and accounts controlled by the temple. Part of that money will go to helping men women, you think have it together when they get out, to establish legitimate businesses. The kinds where they don’t have to grovel to some boss who knows they’ve been in prison. Chuck took you for what he saw, now you have a piece of a smoothly running profitable diner. We can do similar things for former prisoners who want to make a life, support their families and move on from their mistakes.”
Mini, “You really got the assets to do that? You have any idea how much future crime you can prevent by getting these men into their own legit business?”
“Carlos had millions. Now, not even his life. We’re going to use his money to help men who want out of the cycle of low life jobs, and the temptation of giving up and falling back into old habits. They don’t have to sign any papers, they don’t have to shuck and jive for some boss who wants to take advantage. They can start a garage, a laundry, a cab service, anything they can already do or can learn to do. There’s only one rule, stay legitimate.”
“I got a couple guys getting out next week, can do anything with a set of tools somebody needs doing. Small fix ups, home repairs, add a room. They would be perfect. I know them, they don’t want no more of the joint.”
“If they need a license of some kind, call me. Otherwise, just give Nikko an estimate of the cash they need to get started. I will need your help, they trust you. Can you find time to keep an eye on them? Just long enough to know they’re minding their manners, or aren’t being harassed by old friends to do illegal favors?”
Mini looks insulted, “You tink I’m gonna let some airhead get by on your good nature?”
Janah laughs, “Never. It’s more being sure you have the time to check up. If you need any help, I have a small very effective army of monks who will be happy to fill in. It might be fairly simple if it was one or two people. But you have a business to run. It’s partly selfishness on my part, I need you here to keep me fed.”
“I get it. You’re right, I can’t be everyplace.”
“And the monks can be anyplace, unnoticed, even unseen. So don’t think twice. You need them, call me or Chan. Frankly, they enjoy a break from the routine. It’s good training for them to be out on the street unnoticed, you’d be doing the temple a favor.”
“I neva’ thought about it like that. It’s a good idea. I’ll check up occasionally, but they won’t think I’m sticking my nose in all the time. Just one thing. If the monks smell a problem, I got to know first. I want these guys to unnerstand they gotta walk the line. I ain’t gonna let them embarrass me, my rep is part of that line. I know what you’re thinking. I won’t do no physical damage. But I gotta be the guy gives them a talking to. ”
Mini nods, “This is a good thing you’re doing. We ain’t gonna screw up.”
J“Anything gets broke, we can fix it together. Let’s see if we can get some people to have a different outlook on life. That’s all I’m going for, not miracles. Sooner or later, one of them will get caught with his pecker out. I guarantee, you’ll get first shot at reminding him of his obligations. But it’s a two strike deal, a mistake is a mistake. We aren’t dealing with perfect people. A second problem, we pull our support and walk.”
“You’re more generous than me. I wasn’t going to give them the one strike.”
“I’ll leave that up to you. If it’s innocent enough, or they get some threats from former associates for instance, let me know, we’ll fix it. If it’s just a guy jerking us off, then do what you need to do. He’s back on his own.”
Mini stands, “I gotta cook. You look hungry. I’ll get something out in a minute.”
Mini leaves to fix Janah and I something to eat. A stack of toasty brown grilled cheese sandwiches and grilled vegetables shows up a few minutes later. I have a Diet Coke, Nikko and Janah drink a second pot of green tea. We empty the plates, take a walk around the Village, nobody leaps out of cars, nobody pulls any weapons, a good day.
Chapter Forty Eight IV
Don’t be needy, it’s lame, don’t have expectations
that other people ought to explain themselves to you.
We’re visiting the moms, Janah, “Monks will be around for a while, maybe two weeks. You won’t know, do your normal stuff. We won’t be hearing from one target, the other doesn’t exist anymore. Don’t ask. We are not likely to be bothered by former associates. Still, pay attention.”
Chris, “Neither of them goes anyplace without me.”
Sis, “You act like I’ve never taken a martial arts lesson. If I can take Nikko’s punishment, what’s somebody else going to do?’
Chris, “I’m not being insulting, I’m being careful.”
Kara, “I don’t mind being escorted at all. I’ll make sure Chris is with me if I go out.”
“If Chris is out, call me, I’ll come along or send Chan.”
Sis, “Have you eaten, nobody’s made a move to the fridge. You must have been to see Mini. He’s been involved in some way. Tell me I’m right, I love being right.”
Janah, “You’re right, and yes, you’re actually right twice. He fed us and he had a small role, mostly informational. Which reminds me. The Shaolin and our new entity will be doing some investing. Do you think you can find time to organize a portfolio? We will need to keep a few million in Treasuries, but the rest can be allocated by you and Nikko. Mrs. Fong should be consulted as a courtesy. She will be happy, she no longer needs to donate to the Shaolin.”
Sis, “Keep a few million in Treasuries? What’s a few million? How much am I looking to invest otherwise?”
Janah, “In the neighborhood of two hundred million. The money is from one of the targets, the one who won’t need it any longer. The rest is from the other target, who had nowhere near as much, but has officially been relieved of his cash as well. We’ve decided that some of the money will set up parolees that Mini thinks can be given the opportunity to start a legitimate business. Nikko can oversee distribution of the funds. Chan and Black got a substantial sum, they asked if you and the others would invest it.”
“The other good news is you don’t need to support us any longer.”
Susan, “We didn’t mind that part. Janah mentioned a new entity, what new entity?”
“The Sylk Trust, a 501c3 for educational purposes.”
Susan, “When did that happen?”
When we donated twenty million dollars to it.”
Janah continues, “What we really want are two schools for exceptional kids who can’t afford Chapmans. One for boys and one for girls, not coeducational. Grades first through eighth. Some of the girls may gravitate to Chapmans.”
Sis, “Who is going to run the schools?”
Janah, “Lacy is overseeing planning, I’ve asked David to return from Asia and work with Black and Sonia. We’ll get lots of qualified teaching applicants, the pay will be excellent, and we’re planning to use Lacy’s approach of a combination of online, webcasts and small classes. Some of the teaching labor is free, there are several monks with extraordinary math and science skills.”
Chris, “You talked David into returning to the US?”
Janah, “Chan told him what we were doing and that it would be most helpful to have him involved. David is a pure scholar. He will be immersed in his element. He saw the fit immediately.”
Janah, “School will begin each day with martial arts training. Not fighting, but mind body awareness, breakfast and take on more difficult subjects first. Math, technology skills, sciences. Naturally there will be literature and writing. Part of the afternoons will be devoted to nature and discussion. David will rotate around to classes and talk about human issues common across the globe. He’s the Director of Academics, there will be Heads of School as well, disciples from the temple, one male, one female. Further details are in the incubation stage until David arrives.”
Chris, “How many kids?”
Janah, “Kind of depends on who shows up. We’ll be prepared for a hundred total, small. David says we should start with first through fourth, add fifth when the fourth graders move up until we get to eighth. Mrs. Epstein and Mrs. Fong are looking for real estate. We have to do it out of the city. Real estate is expensive, and there’s not enough green space in town. I’m thinking the outer edges of the Bronx, but I’m leaving that up to them.”
Chris, “Where will these kids come from?”
Janah, “The Society is doing the work of identifying prospective students. This is not going to be an easy school, either to get in or to stay in. We’ll board some of the kids. There will be faculty housing as well. It will be like the temple. Everyone lives together.”
Chris, “Geez. You’re already running the temple. How are you going to do all this?”
Janah, “Hire good people and let them do their jobs. It’s not a Buddhist school, or a monastery, it’s a school for bright kids, some of whom are bored by the slow pace of their classes.”
Sis, “The city doesn’t object, aren’t there a pile of regulations?”
Janah, “The Mayor is on board, the Society will cut through any red tape. This is easy stuff, hire Mrs. Walker’s law firm to fill out the forms, open a school. It’s a benefit of having the cash and connections. We’re not buying favors, it’s just that we don’t have to raise funds to get things done by professionals.”
Kara, “What about teachers’ unions, that kind of stuff?”
Janah, “It’s a private school with free first class education for poor students. We’ll be paying at a scale higher than public schools. We’ll have teachers lined up to get in.”
Kara, “Who’s going to make the hiring decisions?”
Janah, “I have a good friend who has some experience as a Head of School, and I have a bit of eclectic knowledge about a variety of subjects. I doubt we’ll get tricked by unqualified instructors.”
Chris, “I doubt they will be able to answer some of the questions you will ask about their own specialties. And they won’t get past Lacy regarding their teaching credentials.”
Janah, “I hope it doesn’t get to that. They have to submit resumes and certificates. The Society will find out more about them than they remember about themselves. I really won’t have to ask much of anything. Mostly I want to read them for sincerity and intent. Based on their salaries, they will have to commit to extra time with individual students when necessary. No excuses. Just like if the student doesn’t put in the work, a teacher who doesn’t will also have to find a different place to hang out.”
Sis, “Do you need us for anything to get started, besides enrollment documentation, tech stuff? Lacy has all that, I just need to put it on the school’s letterhead. You’ll need a website of course.”
Janah, “I’m waiting for David to formally name it, we aren’t putting our names on it.”
Susan, “I’ll call Lacy and we can plot out the necessary technology. Maybe I should compensate her.”
“I’m sure she’ll think of some appropriate compensation.”
Susan, “I hope she wants a lot of compensation. Plus bonuses and options.”
Kara, “I’m surrounded by horny lesbrains.”
“Is that news?’
Susan, “For instance, I’ve been working with Chris and Lacy on derivatives.”
Kara, “What do you mean, like financial derivatives? We used to do a bit of that when I was in the business. Back then it was just typical stock options. It got much more complicated after I left that world and the math geniuses helped collapse the financial system.”
Susan, “No, not that. A derivative is using one thing to serve the purpose of something else that you would normally use. It’s designed to leverage, get more bang for the buck, which, in our case, I mean quite literally.”
Kara, “Tell me more.”
Susan, “You would be surprised how much fun you can have with a certain type of feather duster, or an ultra soft toothbrush. Then there are various combinations of ice and a hair dryer, particularly combinations of ice, a hair dryer and acupuncture needles. Or ashes from burning incense, candle wax and coconut oil. We are becoming the MacGuyver’s of sexual stimulation. Do you have any idea what it’s like to have one side your labia warm and the other cold, or a chilled clit? Or having it brushed very slowly by the aforementioned brush, sometimes dipped in warm oil, or after being soaked in ice water?”
Kara, “Actually, no, I don’t.”
Kara jumps up, “I’ve gotten an idea for the most erotic painting. I’ve got to go girls, the studio beckons. Oh Lord, this is going to be my most fun painting ever. When James comes home, tell him what happened. He’ll understand if I sleep in the studio.”Janah, “Will do. See you…..eventually.”