Chapter Five

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
 What the preacher really means:
God says I should take whatever I want, whenever I want it.


We’re in a downtown hotel in Little Rock Arkansas, not just any downtown hotel, the vaunted Peabody, famous for the duck march. Yes, ducks come out an elevator and parade into the lobby, really. I trust they don’t have bird flu. The ducks don’t so much march as run, it’s actually more of a duck race, maybe a double time march.
People gather to watch this, on purpose. It’s Arkansas, folks are easily amused.
We have a suite, and I must say for the price, the room is spectacular, the staff efficient and courteous, the food good. We see the ducks, feel no urgency, or even mild interest, in ever reliving the experience….quack.
The rest of Little Rock is forgettable, one could say, the essence of forgetability, the place that, when you leave, you instantly don’t recall being there. Gertrude Stein said of Oakland, ‘There’s no there, there.’ She clearly hadn’t visited Little Rock. Oakland is a cultural beehive, a Mecca of magic and mystery compared to Little Rock. In New York, more life happens in twenty minutes at Grand Central Station than happens in twenty years in Little Rock.
 Did I say it’s boring?
Anyway, we aren’t destined to observe the daily duck diaspora. We’re going to see a quack cracker preacher named JC, don’t laugh, never mind, go ahead and laugh, Tidwell, and his cousin Leroy (Luh-roy if you want to put a southern upper crust enunciation on it, we don’t.)
JC and Lee-Roy, as we call him, he hates Lee-Roy, reason enough to tag him with it, have trust funds in soybeans. The fund isn’t actually soybeans, the crop funds the trust. The two haven’t done an honest day’s work in their lives. They sponsored politicians, bought police departments, have hound dogs and black ‘servants,’ thump Bibles, and a mean streak a mile wide. While it occasionally streaks on the locals, it mostly streaks on wives and kids. The preaching part allows them their violence. Spare the rod, a woman shall serve and obey her husband, BBB, Bible Belt Bullshit.
Nikko was sick of them before we left New York. You can imagine how she feels just having to go to Arkansas, much less breathing the same deep fried air.
JC and Leroy have separate southern mansions, surrounded by several hundred acres of soybeans. The houses are two miles apart, long gravel tree lined drives, cut glass doors, chandeliers, oak floors, the whole Miss Scarlett thing. They aren’t Tara, but they try.
You will want to know what, exactly, these two are up to that requires our presence. Fair enough. JC is on wife four, Leroy on three. The first five had been moved on, one dead, the other four in various states of disrepair. They got no severance, weren’t paid to shut up about the abuse. They were warned, in the most direct possible way of the consequences of creating problems.
The dead one ignored the threat, wanted to testify. Not about her personal relationship with Jesus Christ, in court about her abusive husband JC. She had a boating accident in Hot Springs, the boat went up in flames, the second Mrs. Tidwell with it.
Hot Springs is a resort on a fake lake called Lake Hamilton, created by damming up the Ouachita River in 1932. It was wide open then, booze, gambling, prostitution. Chicago mob guys bought it, the necessary politicians and police, and went for vacations. When they got blown out, it became a resort-lite, full of bloated adults and their bloated children, and remains a greasy yellow mustard coated corn dog to this day. I understand at some point, like the fifties or sixties, a southern place to honeymoon was Hot Springs. Which led to the forgettably adolescent ‘Hot Springs tonight!’ chalked on the bridal pickup. Who says humor requires intelligence?
The most popular dish is deep fried anything, and the first rule of restaurant popularity is big plates piled up with food. If you ask a resident where to eat, they will tell you their favorite spot and cheerfully explain, ‘They give you a lot.’ Quantity, the secret cracker handshake of quality.
Guess it should come as no surprise that Shoney’s headquarters is in Tennessee, and Denny’s is in South Carolina. There’s a difference between all you can eat and all you should eat. In the South, all you can eat is all you should eat. Obesity rates down south testify to the consequences.
The Clintons are from Arkansas, which is its own message. He was a decent enough President, but as a man, well, he’s the poster child for the genetic mutant of trailer trash and education, recycled plastic in a suit. And they almost always become lawyers. But enough Arkansas civics, local color and trashing trailer trash.
JC has a church, a pretty big one, claims two thousand members. Leroy is the business end. He keeps an eye on the collection plates, counts the take, pays bills. Leroy doesn’t have much use for prayer and salvation, but he has lots of use for it as a business, so he mouths the platitudes, goes home, screws the help and beats his wife. Children are around, much to his annoyance. He’d managed to push off  three priors on the exes. The current wife popped out two more. He beat her for lying about birth control, although his cousin regularly preached against, and beat the kids for just showing up. He copped JC’s convenient Bible verse excuses for hitting his kids. The Bible as permission, read long enough and you can justify anything.
JC is a far more advanced abuser. He doesn’t hit his kids, he uses them for sexual gratification. His current wife is a twenty two year old airhead who likes fast cars, cocaine and very little clothing. While JC occupies himself with his teenage daughter, or the younger wives of his congregation, she occupies herself with his teenage sons. At least she has the cover that they aren’t blood related. One is sixteen, one all of fourteen. She’s hot, they’re hormonal, flame touches gasoline.
Nikko, “This has more deranged psychology than your dad and Dr. E could sort out.”
Janah, “Deviance at this level is simple evil. It’s beyond psychology. Anyway, I’m weary of psychological excuses, as are dad and Dr. E. People like this don’t need to be understood, they need to be stopped.”
Nikko, “I’m a trained stopper.”
“Yep. And our soybean Jesus crackers are fresh out of fun. Janah has a plan.”
Janah, “Between them, the targets have a dozen security people. A head of security for the church, the church is JC and Leroy, hires a rolling band of ex-jocks, failed cops and bouncers. Some move on, a core group stays. The benefits aren’t bad, fair number of church ladies to play with, the security chief owns a strip club. The club is the drop for drugs and a source of women they don’t need to pray with before they fuck.
The church is also a money launderer for drug dealers. The Society says the rake is substantial. The church takes no off-the-top percentage, it floats the cash through its bank account in the form of support for youth and foreign missions.”
Nikko, “You’re kidding.”
“Nope. There are a dozen halfway houses, orphanages, conveniently overseas, all with enough expenses to house every kid in a Ritz-Carlton and send them on a world cruise every year. JC was given a Man of the Year award for his church’s charitable outreach. Throw in foreign missionaries’ salaries, travel expenses, housing and alleged missionary work, you can flush though an almost unlimited amount of cash. Again, based on the amount of money, his missionaries ought to be doing God’s work out of Bentleys and handing cash, caviar and Cristal to the poor. Naturally the orphans and poor never see much real help. They get to attend a lot of church services though. Have to, or they don’t eat. Complain, don’t eat and get beat.”
Nikko, “I assume Leroy does a lot more than keep track of the church light bill.”
Janah, “They have QuickBooks and spreadsheets like everyone else. Leroy has a degree in accounting. He’s a jerk, not a stupid jerk. This is a slick operation, which we would have been happy to leave alone if they kept their hands off the kids. As far as we can tell, they don’t sell drugs to kids, they do a little aid work, they promise people heaven. It’s not our purview. We’re interested in the targets’ personal abuse of wives and children, whether theirs or under the care of the church. Why in hell they can’t hire twenty year old prostitutes, which are an abundant crop, I can’t explain other than the power of cruelty.”
Nikko, “What happens now?”
Janah, “I have two approaches. One is to out them right in church, have Daphne stop the sermon dead in the middle and detail JC and Leroy’s activities. We could be explicit enough to convince even the true believer.”
“Sounds like fun.”
Janah, “Yes, except we have to disguise deeply, run the risk of intervention by  security, which is not a big deal, except for a church full of people who don’t know what side to take. That easily leads to chaos and the risk of unnecessary injury.”
Nikko, “You’re right, too messy. So we get our targets alone, refocus and go home.”
Janah, “Seems best. I do want you two to go through their security like a katana through mist. I want all involved to grasp that there is no level of security good enough.”
Nikko’s lip raises just a hair, “A plan I can work with.”
Janah, “Without being incautious, disable only, at least the security team. They aren’t choirboys, but we have no evidence they’re using kids. If they play with the church ladies, that’s not our problem. How disabled is up for interpretation. Kill only to protect yourself or innocents. We’ve pressed the edges of our constraints, I immolated the Imam in New York, you guys have taken lives as well as body parts. I don’t want to make every operation deadly.”
“I’m certain the devious Japanese and I can cook up an appropriate approach.”
Janah, “Good, then fire up the grill.”

Chapter Six

Nikko and I study house plans, the grounds, the church. Based on our research, the church looks more interesting. JC, Leroy and the core security team meet there to go over accounts, collect dirty cash and distribute clean cash. Church security deals with the drug dealers, none of the drug transactions happen near the church, or near Little Rock for that matter. We aren’t interested in the dealers, growers or meth cooks, the Ozark mountain range provides ample coverage for producers. It’s forty seven thousand square miles, mostly in Arkansas and Missouri with bits into Oklahoma and Kansas. Hard to police, impossible when the police are handsomely paid to ignore drug producers and spend their time bullying speeders. Not to mention no dirty tiring hikes in the deep woods looking for dangerous guys with guns.
The physical church is mostly the sanctuary, with smaller rooms in an attached building for Sunday school and child care. There is a sizeable baptismal pool behind the altar. A bandstand, can’t have a church these days without more contemporary entertainment. Christian music is a huge market, and it isn’t traditional hymns that drive young churchgoers to the pews. White churches learned something from their black counterparts. Get people moving, they think they feel the spirit. Stories of feeling the spirit keep attendance high. More attendance, more money, and more attendance happens with hand clapping foot stomping rock and roll Jesus than ever happened with Rock of Ages Jesus. Hip Christ, who wants to make you happy and rich, not an angry depressing God.
The pews are traditional, padded for long sessions of preaching and conversion. Lots of hand waving at whatever it is congregants wave at during these ceremonies.
Lots of closed eyes, lots of praying for money, jobs, better health. That part hadn’t changed from old style churches. People don’t show as much interest in forgiveness for their sins as they show in God as an ATM, a black
Amex, a rich uncle enamored of his nieces and nephews.
“What a racket. Amaya could make a small fortune. Sing, act out her own plays about sin and redemption in a contemporary venue, promise people mansions and eternal life on the layaway plan. Pay a little each week until you die, then get your heavenly mansion and golden streets. Religion is a far better money machine than life insurance. Eventually insurance companies have to pay up, God never does.
Nikko, “Jesus Saves takes on a whole new meaning.”
“Do tell.”
Nikko, “The target and security team meet every Monday to count receipts from dealers. Leroy channels the money to various overseas missions the rest of the week and creates inflated expense and administrative costs. Monthly meetings are to divvy up laundered cash back to dealers.”
Janah, “More cash at the monthly meetings. There’s the usual donations, the dealer’s money gets mingled in with the church’s. But at the monthly meeting there’s the dirty money plus the laundered money. We should make the maximum dent possible. There’s no additional security at the monthly. The same security teams that bring the dirty cash deliver the baptized cash to the dealers.”
“Let’s see, the next monthly meeting is…”
Janah, “In two days. It’s why we came when we did. The takedown day I’d already figured out. I assumed we’d take them at the church offices, but I wanted you and Nikko to look over alternatives. That aside, I don’t want to be here a day longer than necessary.”
I look at Nikko, “How’d she slip this past us?”
“Don’t care. She planned it efficiently, I want out of this backwater cracker barrel asap.”
“I wonder if that’s why the call that hick restaurant chain Cracker Barrel? An inside joke on their typical customer.”
Incidentally, Cracker Barrel is headquartered in Tennessee, and like Denny’s and Shoney’s. Like the others, Cracker Barrel has its share of discrimination lawsuits.
Janah points to an office on the left side of the sanctuary, separate from the Sunday school rooms on the right side of the sanctuary. There’s a side exit from the sanctuary, down the hall to the parking lot, down the hall the other way to the office. Office windows are tinted and double paned, the parking lot vast. Ideal for two reasons, plenty of parking close to the church which becomes a wide expanse of emptiness that discourages sneaking around when church isn’t in session. Money meetings are daytime, but even at night the parking lot is aglow with halogen lamps. Three one hundred foot white crosses in the middle of the lot, additionally lit up with bright spotlights. At night it’s day out there.
Nikko, “So we go in through the church?”
Janah, “The entrance through the church involves a door from the sanctuary to a hallway, then a double door to the office. The double door is to insure quiet, allegedly while pastor JC is preparing his sermon or chatting with God. Although more than a few willowy young housewives also receive guidance in pastor’s office.”
Daphne, “How do you know that?”
Janah, “The Society has been listening from the most devilish little microphones planted in the wall alongside the baptismal pool, a wall shared by JC’s office. We don’t have video, but so far, every young woman who visits is required to kneel. The subsequent noises don’t sound like prayer. More like slurping and the consequent sexual release,” she giggles, “when it’s done, he says, ‘Drink ye all of it.’”
Nikko rolls her eyes in disbelief, “Oh, please.”
Janah, “Got it on tape.”
Nikko, “What do these women get out of it, what’s the point?”
Janah, “The point is to sin, to be everything they read about in their bible. When some women read Whore of Babylon, they get wet, not contrite. The cycle of sin, personified in sex, flush of the forbidden, guilt, contrition, then sin again, is addictive. You lead a life of Mrs. Goodwife, whiny kids, bible thumping husband, church, cook, church, kids, church, clean, repeat, it takes almost nothing to open them to something different, daring, illicit in their world. They don’t have to be encouraged, they offer themselves.”
“A future of soccer games, prayer meetings, bake sales and dwindling spousal sexual interest, I can’t blame them. They’re already in hell.”
Nikko, “I’d commit seppuku.”
Janah, “There you have it. It’s human nature to kick back against invented restrictions. Women kick back hardest for the obvious reason, they’re the most restricted.”
“Aren’t they submitting to a man all over again?”
Janah, “Not in their minds. They’re getting even for their husband’s lord and master crap. They see the hypocrisy of a man wanting her to be submissive, then being submissive himself to the preacher. Or to his father in heaven. I think they decide if they are going to be handmaidens, they’re going hand their maidenhood around like Halloween candy.”
“Back to the issue at hand. How do we get in?”
Nikko, “The Miracle of Sister Daphne’s gung fu.”
Janah, “You’re going to walk right in the door?”
“When I’m done with my boom bricks, there won’t be a door.”

Chapter Seven

We try to appreciate Little Rock, it can’t cooperate, so we opt to hang in the suite, workout-lite, watch movies and have intimacies. Sometimes we have to re-rent the movie because the sex starts part way through. We steer clear of restaurants and clubs. Room service is quite good. I can trash the culture and still enjoy southern cooking.
Late Sunday evening, the van is delivered, nicely pre-packed with our refocusing gear, nasty explosives and a few other oddities. Nikko and I change during the drive to God’s House. That’s the name, God’s House of Sanctification. Not that catchy, but it gets the point across. Whether you want absolution or justification, there’s a plan to suit every budget.
A spiritual car wash. God forgives you, dump your guilt and remorse. I don’t do guilt or remorse, eliminating the need to seek God’s forgiveness or approval. Be rather strange to pray for forgiveness for not wanting forgiveness, ‘Dear God.…...whatever.’
Janah drives past the church, Surveillance verifies it’s empty, the parking lot  ablaze in either halogen or God’s glory, perhaps halogen is how God displays his glory. The back side of the building is dark. She pulls alongside, Nikko and I climb on top of the van. We sling ropes and hooks over the roof , snake up and make ourselves comfortable for the night. Janah drives down the block, circles around to a wooded area and parks. Surveillance keeps an eye on her and the van, she has snacks, tea and blankets. Nikko and I sink into lotus and sit in no mind for the evening, check in with Janah once in a while, just a blink, then back to emptiness.
The sun comes up Monday, no surprises so far. We stay low on the roof, relieve ourselves on a pile of cat litter next to an air conditioner. When you haul cat litter up to a roof for your own use, you have a strange job.
I wonder how that would go over in an interview, ‘Tell me about a specific accomplishment of yours.’
‘Let’s see, oh, I invented a way to make hiding out all night more aesthetically pleasing.’
We drink bottled water and wait. I hear the first car at ten, then a rapid succession of other vehicles, trucks, growling motorcycles.
Janah, “JC and Leroy are in, there are eight in the security team, the usual number. The security detail does not appear to be armed. That is also the pattern, but it doesn’t mean somebody doesn’t have a gun stashed inside a jacket or boot. They’ve done this so much, they’re relaxed, not anticipating trouble. No point in coming armed to the teeth to see men you work with all the time.”
“Good. Guns are always dicey. I only need to feel the flattened top of my ear to remind me.”
Janah, “Both of you take care of yourselves. If I see it getting troublesome, I’ll put in an appearance. Go quick and dirty, get JC and Leroy under control. I’ll be outside in plenty of time.”
W slide down the rope to the back of the sanctuary. Nikko moves to the side of the building, near the parking lot entrance to JC’s office. We decided not to rely on kicking in doors, far more efficient and disconcerting to occupants to blow them open. Nikko packs a plug of C4 on her single door, I pack the outer door lock with C4, then mash a wad under the exterior door, wire them up.
“You clear?”
Nikko, “Clear.”
Click, BOOM!
Nikko and I sail shuriken before the smoke clears, she retreats, I stand at my shattered doorway and pop tranquilizer darts into everything that moves.
“Done, hit it.”
She barrels in, two of the security team have planted themselves behind the desk, avoiding shuriken and darts. They see me first, lunge. Nikko’s boot catches one on my left squarely in the most delicate part of the male anatomy, then she cracks his knee with a hard sidekick, folding it in a way a knee is not designed to fold. I tag my guy with a straight front snap kick to his jaw, stand him straight up. ‘That’s convenient,’ I think, ‘a whole torso right in front of me.’ I follow up with the other foot, heel deep in his gut. His cookies lose their cookies.
Nikko has Leroy, he’s groggy and glazed. I snag JC by the throat with owl claws and drag him out the door. He struggles, but his ringing ears and lack of air make it useless. Janah has the van backed up three feet from the door, she helps Nikko pitch them in while I round up currency. Two fat duffel bags worth. I stow the bags along with our guests. Nikko and I hop in, Janah drives us out to Highway 65. We relax into the hundred sixty mile drive north to Bull Shoals Lake. Numerous cabins dot the area, Transportation got us a secluded one.
It’s a shade over three hours, don’t want to speed. Our cabin is stocked with food and water for a couple of days. Nikko and I get JC and Leroy situated in one bedroom.
We set them up in the kitchen chairs, tied with picture wire. If you get into the kidnapping business, be wary of zip ties as restraints, there are ways to break out of them.
We strip them to their skivvies. There’s only so much of JC and Leroy a sane person wants to see. Janah starts in, has them boosted on meth with an LSD kicker. We can’t afford noise, they’re gagged, strapped into headphones connected to IPods. The acoustics are either animal sounds, screeching, metal against metal. It isn’t designed to make sense, it’s designed to disassociate the mind from reality.
Janah, “Let’s eat and rest. I want them cranked up for a good long time.”
We do shifts for the next twelve hours, then Janah brings Leroy down to see how things are on his end of the galaxy. He has no bearings, no landing zone. Elvis
left the building, Leroy left the solar system.  
Janah does what Janah does, makes fat JC and Leroy the new dull knives in the drawer. While she disassociates their former nasty selves and implants their new and simplified ones, the Society disassociates them from their money.
All the church accounts are emptied, the church property will be left for church members to do what they will. The family land will be sold to a developer, no more soybean mini-empire. All the real estate deals documented and dated as if JC and Leroy had been quietly working on them for some time. A carefully crafted story of how the two had run afoul of a particularly unfriendly drug cartel and decided to sell out. They completed the transactions, then disappeared. The Society has the money, their children will be provided for, current wives given a sufficient stipend and hustled out of town. Former wives receive additional settlements. The money comes through an attorney who can’t say where he acquired it, he doesn’t know. He was instructed via phone call, given a reasonable fee and directions on distribution.
It’s three weeks later, Janah takes a call from Mrs. Epstein, “Leroy was finally found talking to himself in a dive on the sorrier side of Shreveport, a sump hole called Bossier City. JC apparently got eaten by wolves, no one has seen him. The security team insightfully concluded there’s no point in being on a team with no money. They’re operating their drug business out of the strip club.”
Janah hangs up, “Job appears to be complete. Let’s finish what we were starting.”
I make final adjustments to the strap-on Nishiko is wearing, get it nice and wet, and she begins inflaming Janah’s libido. Things deteriorate splendidly from there.

Chapter Eight

Amaya, “Geez, what did you get up to last night? Never mind, I can guess. You do realize that your filthy behavior may create long term damage to my tender psyche? I mean, I could wind up a lez or something.”
“You should be so lucky. What do you want, scrambled, poached or fried?”
“Poached, fruit and yogurt as well.”
I sip coffee while she eats, then, “Janah tells me you’re in a groove at school, keeping up, and working on your art. I suppose I should follow the education part more closely. I just prefer the part where we enhance your beauty. Janah can enhance you mind.”
Amaya, “I work at the mind enhancement part, my play is to let you enhance my superficiality. I like my superficials. With you, I can express them, be preposterously uninhibitedly in love with myself. Must go, Lacy says being late is rude, and rude is crude, she stands, “check me over.”
I examine her outfit as she turns slowly, check shoes, hair, make tiny adjustments.
“You are splendid.”
Amaya bends over so I can slide lip gloss across her lips, straightens up, traces my nose with her finger, “True.”  
I have the best job, I have become Amaya’s confidant and, what? A volunteer handmaiden. As she intimated, she can be outrageously egomaniacal. With me, she can openly express anything, indulge her fascination with herself, receive undivided attention, her needs met, desires fulfilled.
Janah, “I see you have her right where she wants you.”
“Yep. I’d call her a spoiled brat, except she never does anything bratty.”
“How could she? You anticipate her every wish.”
“You don’t complain that I anticipate yours.”
“Touché, legs. Tea please.”
“May I request your lovely lingering tongue in my mouth.”

She obliges, and so do I.
Nishiko kisses me, then kisses me again, I’m always receptive to being kissed by my others. Her longs fingers trail across my tummy. She licks me on the neck and sits. I pour her coffee.
“Nikko and I are in the mood for havoc. Are you in the mood for repairing us afterwards?”
“I’m going to the temple, Chan is going with me. You guys can do whatever, I’ll be back at four or five to put you back together. Company?”
“Let’s keep it small. Nikko and I really do want to get rather serious. Maybe I’ll order out so we just have to heat and eat.”
“What about Amaya?”
“She prefers being with us. Miyako is her friend, but she’s still a kid. Amaya’s child left long ago, or, like us, was never there in the first place.”
Nikko, “Plus she wants you fawning over her every moment.”
“She does, and I do.”
Nikko, “Didn’t appear to hurt Janah any. And she is careful not to play one off against the other. I could never ask for a more respectful daughter.”
Janah smiles, “I’m off, don’t break anything substantial.”
Nikko and I are alone, just enjoying the morning, music plays softly, I’m reading the Times, Nikko is composing a poem that will eventually become one of Amaya’s songs.
Nikko, “I’m wanting a tough workout, but an aerobic one. Remember how we used to go one endless round, attack, retreat, back and forth until neither of us could stand and breath?”
“Very good. Here? The dojang?”
“Let’s go there, no classes.”
We let ourselves in, C-mom is in her office working on a book.
“C-mom! Slogging away on the text I see.”
“Yep. And I see you guys geared up for practice.”
“We haven’t done one of our long sessions in a while. We’re feeling the need to check our stamina, not so much our punching power.”
“You know, I haven’t done that lately either. Maybe I should….”
“Yeah, you should. Get a dobok. We’ll round robin until everybody collapses.”
“Well, my book....”
“Will be there when you’re done. You’ll have fresh ideas after your lungs explode. No excuses, last lesbian standing.”
“You are so on, prepare to dehydrate, queers.”
It’s fun, then less fun, then agony. We start out in a round robin, one sits, two fight, then we declare all out war, three on three, every woman for herself. We get knocked down, kicked, double teamed, finally nobody can stand.
“I think C-mom is on performance enhancing drugs.”
Chris says between gasps, “C-mom refuses to be embarrassed. But five more minutes and I would have succumbed, embarrassment or not.”
Nikko lies on the floor staring at the ceiling, unable to construct a coherent sentence.
We try to find oxygen for another ten minutes, I bring water, two bottles each.
Finally, when we can stand unaided, we slouch to the locker room, strip and stand under long showers until we’re less rubber legged, dry and dress. We leave together and walk, nice and slow, to the condo.
Sis, “Well, I see you’ve worn out my girl.”
I sit next to her, she’s in a tiny silk robe, I run my hand along her luscious thigh, “You’re looking scrumptious, what have you been doing?”
Sis, “I’m on a much stricter training regimen. I was feeling off, and I refuse to get older, so I pushed the accelerator. More classes where I work, not teach, I’m training at Kim’s, and I mean training, not waltzing lower ranks through their forms. Sparring with black belts, men and women before or after class. I’ve dropped eight pounds.”
“Sheesh, well, it shows. You’re all thoroughbredy sleek.”
“Thanks, feel racy too,” she leans over for a lingering kiss.
No, I’m not intimate with my mom, just flirty. She does get to jump Nikko once in a while. They have a game, Nikko visits to review investments, she does it in snug tiny shorts or a dress that’s essentially a t-shirt. Sis gets steamy sitting next to her, but Nikko only lets her look, maybe a kiss or two, then she leaves. After a few sessions of tempting torture, she gives it up and lets mom have her way. I like their play because Nikko is warm from teasing Sis and I get to cool her down.
Amaya’s home, Nikko’s hands are busy making my thighs tingle.
“You two are the worst possible influence. Such lust buckets,” she looks closer, “I see Nishiko has been disciplining you. You must have really been up to something perverted.”
“Nikko is attending to my well being, not being nasty in the way you suggest. And we’re pretty much always up to something perverted.”
Amaya laughs, “At least none of you are butch. I like my lesbrains girly.”
“Your lesbrains like to be girly. C-mom is as close to butch as we get, and she hardly qualifies. Lacy’s minor concession is short hair.”
Amaya, “You guys must not have understood the rules. There is supposed to be at least one butch for every two femmes, and there is supposed to be infighting and jealously about careers and girlfriends. You queers just give it up for any of the others and nobody cares who does who.”
 “Sharing is caring.”
Amaya, “You are the most shared woman on the planet.”
“Ooooh yeah. And boy, does it work for me. So what’ll it be? We’re doing afternoon protein. Toast and eggs, do you want bacon, grits, a waffle?”
Amaya, “One slice of toast , small portion of egg, spoonful of grits.”
In fifteen, I put it in front of her, Nikko has two crispy slices of bacon, there is cut fruit in a bowl.
Janah is next to Amaya, wearing a t-shirt that hits the tops of her thighs. Amaya rests her hand on Janah’s crossed leg.
“Janah has the softest skin covering the hardest muscle,” she runs her hand down Janah’s thigh, then turns to eat her second breakfast of the day.
“Interesting.”
Janah, “It was innocent enough, a little tease. She doesn’t mind talking about intimacy, and I get a small vibe that she actually wants to explore it. She likes that we’re hot, obviously not jealous, she sees herself as the hottest of the hot. We’re a benchmark for her to vault.”
“She continues to demonstrate her good taste.”

We move on to a careful examination of prospects for the rest of the day. They include lounging, watching a movie, lounging, eating, snuggling, grooming and music. We have the evening with no commitment, we do our part by not committing. I polish Amaya’s toes and fingers, Nikko cuddles with her and watches Black Swan while I do Janah’s nails and toes. I have a roll going so I do Nikko too.
Amaya makes a snack of raw vegetables, there is wine, champagne and a cheese board with crackers. She plays the shamisen, then she and Nikko sing. The performance ends with Amaya doing Hamlet’s soliloquy, followed by the opening lines from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, playing both George and Martha.
No, there’s no connection, it’s random material she plays around with. We are witnessing the development of an exquisite performance artist. She is putting together pieces, some will be discarded, something as yet unknown added.
“You work as hard on performance as I do in martial arts, and across a far broader spectrum.”
Amaya, “Yours might be harder for that reason. I have more options. Nothing really creative is simple. We all have to learn the technique, the choices within the medium we use, like painting, what color, what size, what do we want to say, how can it be most effectively said, or do we just go for beauty, no other statement?”
“Beauty is its own reward, like me, I am my own reward.”
Amaya throws a pillow at me, “The only person as egomaniacal as I, is you.”
“Royalty is not egomaniacal, it’s entitled, that’s why we get a title, entitled to a title.”
Amaya says to Nikko, “Daphne is deranged, I adore her for it.”
Nikko, “You love that she gives you anything your heart desires.”
Amaya brightens, “I am training her to anticipate my desires, so I do not have to even express them. A nod, a glance, a twist of my lip, a raised finger. She is a  quick study.”
Nikko, “You are incorrigible, creating incorrigibility. I have to do twice the work to keep the both of you even slightly reasonable.”
Amaya, “Reasonable is the road to mediocrity.”
Janah, “She has a point.”
Nikko, “Conceded. She still must do as I say.”
Amaya bats her eyes, takes Nikkos hand,  “Yes, mother.”
Nikko’s eyes narrow, then sees she means it, nods. She is satisfied.
Janah laughs out loud, Amaya asks me, “Okay what is it? You cannot leave me out just because you can read minds.”
“Fair enough. I was complaining that you were unreasonably gorgeous. Janah made fun of me when I said I could get an inferiority complex.”
Now Amaya laughs at me, “YOU? Oh puleeze. Good thing I know you are joking or I would tell you to get a grip.”
“My drama isn’t going anyplace, is it?”
Amaya, “Not even off off-Broadway.”
Nikko, “How are French lessons?”
Amaya is reading Sartre in the original, not only has to translate but discuss existentialism, in French. Janah doesn’t give a flip for existentialism, it’s to present the French in a difficult way, not just ordering crap in a restaurant or securing a hotel room. Any fool with a few lessons could stumble her way through that.
Amaya, “Oh my, it is hard enough to conjugate the verbs, then to discuss existentialism in the language. Is my whine good?’
“Not even Two Buck Chuck.”
Amaya stomps around, “Well, it was not like SHE,” pointing an elegant finger towards Janah, “was going to let me off,’ throws up her hands, “it is impossible to get away with slacking around here. I want to be at the top of my profession with no work. What is so difficult to grasp?”
She has back of one hand to her forehead, “Mother Nishiko, I feel a swoon coming on.”
Nikko, “Swoon next to the couch so you don’t hurt yourself.”
Amaya slips onto Nikko’s lap, “I would rather swoon on you,” she lays her head on Nikko’s shoulder, kisses her on the neck.
Nikko hugs her, “You are my love, a consummate actress, I almost believe you.”
Amaya giggles, “What good is being a bullshit artist if no one believes the bullshit?”
“It means you need more practice. When you can jerk around Nikko, you’ll be ready to start a hedge fund.”
Amaya, “What is a hedge fund?”
Nikko, “The penultimate bullshit. The best of the best, top of class, bottom of barrel.”
Amaya, “Ah, a goal to shoot for. I shall ask Susan to help me start a hedge fund. I can hack and hedge at the same time.”
“The girl is a monster, where’s my wooden stake?”
I’m standing in front of Amaya and Nikko, Amaya, “You are not allowed to hate me because I’m beautiful, Daphne,” she runs her hands along my thighs, “you still have two legs up on me.”
“For a while perhaps. You force me to work out harder to stay ahead. Eventually, I’ll have to surrender.”
Amaya, “Not with Susan’s genetics. However, know I am going to catch and surpass you.”
“I believe you, I’ll do my part and make you work for it.”
Amaya, “It is good to be White Queen, my subjects are loyal, and want only my happiness and well being. My Royal Highness is pleased.”

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