Chapter Fifty Three
Eloise is demonstrating the spy pen, I stand across the room, talk in a normal voice, move around a bit. The rest of them are huddled around IPads watching me.
Nikko, “Eloise, that’s amazing. Crystal clear, it’s like she’s on a phone, and it records at the same time?”
Eloise just nods a yes, Dasha says, “Ees can be seen live, also download to computer, send file on e-mail. She ees working on voice analytical. Eef person haf been recorded on phone or leesening device, you will know it ees same person. Also makes location on GPS, you will look on Google and see Dahfoney ees in apartment.”
We check it out, “Good Lord. So it will track as well?”
Zi, “Amazing, Eloise is a genius.”
Eloise, “Daria thought to include tracking.”
Zi, “Two geniuses.”
Dasha, “They will make device in necklace, seemple, just put cheep in, um, Daira what ees kulon?” (prn. koh-loan)
“Da, pendant, can be also put in anything.”
Janah, “What’s the battery life?”
Daria, “Two hours, allow hour and a half to be sure. Varies by temperature, tracking use extra power.”
Janah, “Hour and a half is plenty.”
“How about a ring?”
Dasha looks at Eloise, she nods, “Da, we make ring for everyone, gud.”
“Janah, should she patent this?”
Janah, “It’s up to Eloise and Daria. The patent brings attention though.”
Daria, “No. If someone makes it, we don’t care. Not to sell.”
Dasha, “Ees no point, we haf money already everywhere.”
We laugh, it’s true. If we made a few million on the patent, it wouldn’t mean much and our stuff would be out there for some military or corporate schlep. For all we know, they can do much of this anyway.
Amaya, “You guys are splendid, I shall design the perfect necklace and ring for each of us, as soon as Eloise tells me how big the case has to be. We can’t all walk around with the same black box around our necks and fingers.”
She goes off with Daria and Eloise to get dimensions. Amaya will have one made to test, then a separate design for each of us.
Janah, “I need a few hours at the temple, Daphne.”
“Dasha, you want to come along? Or stay here with Daria?”
Dasha, “Sister ees spend day in workshop, I go wiz you.”
Amaya returns, “I need to see a jeweler, do you want me to drop you off?”
Nikko, “Zi and I as well, time to do actual work.”
The six of us pile in the Escalade, Amaya takes Nikko and Zi to the office, drops us at the temple, she and Chloe go off to one of her jewelry contacts. If it has to do with clothes, accessories or makeup, she knows everyone worth knowing.
While Janah administrates whatever it is she needs to administrate, Dasha and I happily spend time in the kitchen. Armando smiles when he spots us.
“Welcome, I was just plotting lunch, have any thoughts?”
Dasha, “You haf enough garden burgher?”
Dasha, “We will make garden meatloaf, what vegetable?”
Armando, “Potatoes, let’s see, cabbage, carrots, not much else, we get a delivery tomorrow.”
Dasha, “No ees problem. We make meatloaf, you haf breadcrumbs, or day old bread, aig?”
Dasha, “Gud. Shred cabbage and carrot, we will haf coleslaw wiz special dressing, Dahfoney, ees vegetarian stock?”
“Yes, they always have that frozen, ready to heat.”
Dasha, “Gud, you will make gravy, we need crush garlic and mushroom, ohnyon. Eef no haf, call and get. Worcestershire?”
Armando, “I’ll get mushrooms and more onion, we have garlic.”
Armando, “No, chopped in a jar.”
Dasha, “Fresh only, lots.”
Armando grins, “I’m on it.”
He pulls out his cell, makes his order, I start shredding cabbage and carrots, Dasha is mashing garden burgers together with breadcrumbs and eggs, salt, pepper, cayenne, Worcestershire. She’ll let it sit until the mushrooms, onion and garlic show up.
Armando takes out four gallons of stock and sets it in a big pot to heat. We will create vegetarian brown gravy for the meatloaf, stuffed with mushrooms, onion and garlic, side of mashed potatoes. Our coleslaw will have tahini dressing, olive oil, lemon juice, honey, tahini, a paste made from sesame seeds, it’s really good. We’ll offer toasted buttery French bread.
Monks file into the dining hall, tables are set, meals are eaten in silence, but it doesn’t take much to see the food is being savored and appreciated. Dasha moves along the benches, refilling empty bowls, I follow with the teapot. Many of our monks are young, kids through teens. They work hard, long hours, nutritious calories are essential for their mental and physical development.
When they leave for the hour of rest before hard gung fu, the food has disappeared, all of it. Nothing to scrape into the trash, just rinse the plates, pans and pots.
Dasha, “We make gud lunch, Dahfoney.”
“You created it, there are a hundred happy monks because you showed up.”
Dasha, “Ees gud to cook. We don’t get to eat. You will take me to Fong’s, now we haf lunch.”
I laugh, I hadn’t thought of it, she’s right, in all the prep and serve, we hadn’t eaten anything.
Ning, “Daphne, Dasha, good to see you, Chan tells me you are busier than ever.”
“We rearrange schedules to create more time and it gets sucked away. If we didn’t have the cabin in Canada, we’d never take a break. No point in complaining, we do it to ourselves.”
Ning, “I love being busy. With two restaurants, I don’t have to think about how to fill my days. Our upscale place is making good money, and the people we employ from your temple are absolute whizzes at keeping thing running smoothly. I go over there a couple of times a week, just to watch the flow, Chan and I treat ourselves and eat there once a week.”
“We’ve been a few dozen times, never a bad meal. If you survive three or four years in Manhattan, you have something people like. The classical music addition was a stroke of genius.”
Ning, “One of the wait staff is a student at Julliard. He suggested it. We bought a piano, he sings operatic selections, a gorgeous tenor voice. Then a trio appeared. The students get performance experience and a little money, the customers love it. We stay booked for weeks. Saturday is impossible.”
“Do you want to expand?”
Ning, “Daphne, part of me wants to, clearly there’s a demand, the other part of me says I’m as busy as a human needs to be.”
“Between Chapmans and the temple, I bet we can pull together chefs, a staff and you already have musicians. Nikko is always looking for investments. If you approve it, I’ll mention it to her. You don’t have to do much of anything, just make sure the standards are high. Give you another place to dine out.”
Ning smiles, “You should do it. Tell you what. Instead of highbrow, go lowbrow. Dasha can create the menu, instead of opera, have jazz and blues, not sophisticated jazz, fusion or Dixieland. I’ll offer my two cents, but I don’t need another job. What do you think?”
“I think Dasha has to decide.”
Chapter Fifty Four
We’re at tea in the apartment, I’ve covered the discussion we had with Ning. I know enough to know we don’t want to be on the operating side of the restaurant business, restaurant life is crazy and we’re fresh out of time.
“Dasha and I will create the menu. The place needs to be far away enough from the Village Diner that we don’t cannibalize their business. Our thought is to have lunch and dinner. Lunch is sandwiches only, po-boys, fries, chips, sound system music, not a live performance. Dinner is down home, the kinds of things we make here or Dasha does at the diner. The only gimmick is live entertainment, but fun stuff, Dixieland, blues. Not a floor show, it’s just happening while people eat. No extra charge for entertainment, no stage, just musicians in a corner doing their thing. Good food, attractively presented, table cloths, linen napkins, a blend of elegance and ease.”
“It can work. The premise is to let the highbrow who can pay get a taste of lowbrow without actually mingling with the lowbrow. Given the masses of middle and far easterners sucking up real estate here, all wanting a taste of Americana, I think we’ve stumbled onto a good concept. Plus, we can bury a lot of cash in the place. Given Janah and Daphne’s ability to find piles of cash in Society work, we can use the outlet.”
Janah, “Any other thoughts, observations?”
Amaya, “Sounds like fun. I think we go ahead.”
Daria, “We will make ordering automate. Customer gets android menu. We have record of order, check totals while customer orders. Customer can’t say he didn’t order something, or bill is wrong. He swipes card, done.”
Nikko, “Great. One hassle avoided already.”
Amaya, “What if they have questions?”
Daria, “Still have wait staff, answer question, but simplify order, no mistake. Order cocktail, wine, everything on the device. We will have also a place they can make comments, future reservations.”
Nikko, “That will work, particularly with the crowd we want to attract. Technology and personal service. What if we don’t do tips, just pay the staff a decent wage?”
“Will that work?”
Nikko, “Actually, it’s simpler. We can’t be accused of withholding tips, waiters can’t sneak cash from the table and not report it. If a customer wants to leave a cash tip anyway, that’s their choice, but the menu should say no tipping.”
Janah, “It’s sounding like a go ahead, so go ahead. Geez, projects never end around here.”
Zi, “Nishiko and I like to be busy. We’ll scope out locations starting tomorrow, Dasha and Daphne can put together a menu, Amaya can design the décor if she is so inclined.”
Amaya, “I have three motifs in mind, we will have the coolest atmosphere in Manhattan, guaranteed. Chloe, tomorrow, you and I go shopping for tables, chairs, flatware, plates, glasses. We are going to be busy bees for the next few weeks.”
And so we are. Two refocusings intervene, Dasha, Janah and I handle them. Just white trash taking out their hostility on wives. One over in east Texas, craphead on a ranch, physically abusive, land poor. We sold it, gave the money to his wife along with her divorce decree, relocated her and her son elsewhere. Former daddy is still in recovery.
Dasha did the next, similar story, poorer guy near Tulsa. If you ever feel the need to go to Tulsa, don’t. Gives dull a new meaning. Dasha wanted to take on one Dawson Hill, nasty denizen of trailer lot twenty six. The trailer was surrounded by others, couldn’t refocus him there, so we caught up to him at his hangout, a sleaze roadhouse, two thirds empty at five in the afternoon. I caught the manager, bouncer and bartender, explained that Dawson would be ‘needin an asswhippin,’ in the parlance.
The bouncer was already too familiar with Dawson, the manager objected until I showed him pictures of the wife and child. Black eye, busted nose, the girl with belt marks red across her back and buttocks. He shrugged a go ahead, we went ahead.
I made an announcement, “Some of you know a coward in here likes to beat crap out of his wife. We take extreme exception to that, we’re going to fix it. Sit back and enjoy the show, don’t interfere, or I’ll interfere with your interference. These are called shuriken, they can be quite painful.”
Janah proceeded to zip a half dozen into a support post, I zinged three more right in a row into the front edge of the bar.
“We have a bunch of them, kindly don’t make us demonstrate on you. Don’t touch any phones, don’t get up, we’ll be done in a minute. Dawson, meet my associate, Francesca.”
Francesca is Dasha, of course. She’s got her very own working outfit, leather gloves with titanium knuckles, steel toe boots, knee braces of hinged titanium. We aren’t trying to give the target a level playing field, we just want him leveled.
Dawson laughed, “You wantin’ what zackly?”
“You take on Francesca. Beat her, you walk.”
Dawson, “Are you crazy? I ain’t fightin’ no little girl.”
“Your wife is little, don’t seem to mind wailing on her. Got you whipping your ten year old with a belt, you sadistic shit. She’s got welts all down her back and butt.”
The crowd started rumbling.
Dawson looked around, sensed hostility, he got up to leave, I pushed him back, “Fight the girl or we’ll just beat you where you stand.”
Dasha walked up and cracked him with a right cross, followed up with a stiff shot to the gut. Dawson was officially paying attention.
He rushed her, stupid, she front kicked him, his forward momentum only made it worse. Before he hit the floor, she shifted feet and side kicked him in the ribs. He slammed into the bar. He recovered slowly, he was clearly hurting, adrenalin kicked in, he snatched a wooden barstool and started towards Dasha.
I threw Dasha my nunchaka, as he swung the stool to smash her, she shattered it, started the nunchaka spinning and broke his jaw. Then rolled it in an arc behind her, over her shoulder and down onto his collarbone.
Dawson hit the floor, he was pretty much a mess.
I walked over, grabbed him by the hair and pulled his head back, “Here’s the deal shitkicker. Your wife and child are gone. We have folks all around to keep an eye on you. One fight, a hard word, maybe even a mean stare at any living being of any kind, we come back with a bad attitude. You will not get a fair fight next time, you won’t see us coming.”
The crowd is dead silent, “Folks, it’s been a pleasure. You did well. If you have any doubts about Dawson’s downfall, here’s the pictures, ” I leave them on a tabletop.
That’s the condensed version, we flew back yesterday, now we’re up making breakfast.
Chloe hugs Dasha, “You did well, dear one. Daria said he never even touched you.”
Dasha, “He ees only used to street fight, not keek like we know. I practice noonchuk wiz Dahfoney. Gud enough to break stool, break man, seemple. You will haf pahncake now Vesnushki.”
Chloe, “Yummy, are there eggs today?”
Dasha, “We will make like you want, scrahmbulled, over easy, poach.”
Chloe, “I love poached eggs, is it too much trouble?”
Our girls wander in, we have our pancake egg production line going, slices of grilled ham today, with a glaze of cane syrup and the tiniest dusting of clove.
Amaya, “We have the restaurant interior, décor, everything on the website. You can see how it’s going to look before you see it live.”
Nikko, “Build out is almost finished, staff is hired, entertainment arranged. Dasha and Daphne will need to train the cooks and we’ll have a friends and family test night, maybe a second and third. We need to do both the lunch menu and the dinner menu.”
“We plan a week for training, the staff can eat its own cooking. All the recipes and exact instructions are on the restaurant’s internal site. Eloise has two flat screen monitors the chefs can follow until they have it down. The kitchen is on video, not only is it recorded, but it plays live in the restaurant. We want customers to see the cleanliness and fresh preparation. Plus, we think familiarity with the cooks will create loyalty. Normally customers only see some of the wait staff. Having their chef wave at them from the kitchen, hold up a finished plate, makes it a more vibrant experience. Kind of like being at home, or at least a part of things.”
Janah, “I’m looking at the site now. It’s total tech, looks like something Apple would design when Jobs was around.”
Amaya, “I went for dichotomy. Down home food, fun music, in an upscale, sleek environment. It was too simplistic to make it look like a country restaurant, like that has never been done. I was not going for Cracker Barrel cornpone.”
I take a look, “Wow, chrome, glass, black laminate, crisp while linen, modern stainless steel utensils. Are those acrylic glasses?”
Amaya, “Yes, sturdier than glass, looks more modern. The flatware is Dansk, nothing extra, no filigree, a clean sleek utensil.”
Nikko, “We have a modestly priced wine list, not extensive but first quality. To keep things simple, beer is only on tap, a dozen selections, no common labels, half dozen microbrews. Liquor is all top shelf, doesn’t matter what they order, cocktails are eight bucks, a stellar price for Manhattan. Beer and wine is six a glass. No wine is more than forty a bottle. We marked up thirty percent over retail, a bargain.”
Janah, “Does it make any money?”
Nikko, “Depends on volume. A half full lunch crowd and a half full dinner, we scrimp by. Once the place gets to three quarters, we’re black. It also depends on table turns, but we aren’t rushing customers, it isn’t a diner. We kept dessert simple. Handmade ice cream, apple, cherry, peach cobbler, banana pudding, like a down home place would have. No New York cheesecake, no fancy sundaes, no death by chocolate.”
“What are we calling it?”
Amaya, “ I have two ideas. The first is Dasha’s Down Home, which spells out the nature of the food. I have another idea though. I think we introduce a dichotomy. Miss Alva and Dasha’s recipes on the plate, but given the sleek modern environment, perhaps the name should suggest that.”
Dasha, “I prefer not haf name on restaurant, what ees other name?”
Amaya, “What if we name it after our film Ultra Violet? It has nothing to do with the food of course, but if we high tech the environment, the paradox might be intriguing. High tech environment, low tech food.”
Chapter Fifty Five
We do three family and extended family dinners and lunches before we open. That only after we’d tasted everything ourselves. The family dinners included the usual suspects, Susan and Taylor, Kara and James, Lacy, Ning, Chan and Miyako, Master Kim, Mini, Chuck, Black and Sonia, Mr. Vitali came one night, Dominic Marconi, Jocelyn and Detective Marsconi, Angelo and his wife Angela. The Murakamis came one evening, and we invited our law firm, the accountants, and all the staff at Murakami Sylk, our property management company. Dasha watched every detail of food prep, no complaints. We know the food is good, the dinners were to give the wait staff a chance to wait on customers and get familiar with the technology. Amaya has them in black pants, ivory long sleeve shirts, black shoes. We provide the clothes. They smile, welcome the diner, don’t introduce themselves like they and the customer are best pals. Every customer’s name is either sir or ma’am. We had no trouble rounding up cooks, staff or management. Everyone gets a meal on their shift, all employees have medical insurance. If we turn a profit, they participate.
Our manager came courtesy of Ning, the assistant manager of the restaurant Ning opened on the East side. She earned an MBA while working there, has hiring and firing authority, we aren’t going to manage from afar. Except for Dasha’s oversight of the kitchen and Daria’s check on the books, we aren’t going to manage at all. That first month, Dasha’s in the place every lunch, every dinner, I hang with her, Eloise and Daria are around monitoring the ordering system.
We had immediate requests for lunch deliveries, some substantial, begged off as too new and no staff to handle it. The real reason is we don’t want quality to suffer while food sits around in styrofoam while a meeting drones on. That’s not our fault, but people connect cold food or deconstructed sandwiches with the name on the carton, not a position we want to be in. You want our stuff, you get it here.
We make money the first month. A miracle? Well, I’m fudging a little. It helps when you don’t have bank loans or investors to pay. Nikko called the money she’d put up a sunk cost, operating profit is the profit, we aren’t repaying ourselves. We own the property, don’t lease it, everything inside is paid for. That means food, booze, salary, benefits and taxes out, revenue from sales in. If there’s more revenue than expense, we call that a return on investment.
Since we can depreciate the improvements and the building itself, the cash flow to us is essentially tax free.
That is not how to maximize return in the restaurant business. Normally, you lease everything, the lease is deductible, if the place fails, the LLC that owns the name declares bankruptcy, lick your wounds, go home. Nikko doesn’t like not owning. The building isn’t going anyplace, we spent a bundle on build out, commercial kitchens cost, and Amaya didn’t scrimp on décor. The thing is, what we spent doesn’t chew up our current annual income. The whole thing cost us ten million. We make far more than that in a year on our other investments. We think the money is better utilized giving people work and diners good meals at fair prices than it is sitting around a brokerage account stacking up more money we can’t spend.
We’re having family tea, Nikko is covering numbers, “If sales continue at the early pace, we annualize two percent on our investment. That’s not counting any appreciation in the building. The two is tax free and we’ve provided over two dozen jobs with benefits. I could feasibly renovate the floor above for more space. First, obviously, I want to see if we’re just a new thing that wears off, or if the place has legs for a marathon. Second, we may not want more business. Places that run full run more efficiently. No need to make a thing of it now, we should be open at least a year before even seriously considering any expansion plans.”
Amaya, “Eloise and Daria are to be congratulated for their tech contribution. I wondered at first if people would be put off by tapping screens. Turns out, I was wrong, they love the idea of playing with touch screens to order. They see not only a written description but the food itself. And it comes out just like it looks on the screen.”
“That’s Dasha’s doing. She watched every plate that went out of the kitchen. If it didn’t look right, she turned the waiter around and they reconstructed the whole thing.”
Dasha, “A few, not about food, wine sometimes off. Serve many bottle, sometimes not gud. Mariella (our manager) give wine upgrade free, doesn’t charge, customer happy, ees no problem. Even customer write on Yelp how seemple to feex, gave us great comment.”
Nikko, “Any complaint gets an immediate fix, an upgrade, an adjustment to the bill. Mariella has dealt with chronic complainers looking for a free lunch. She knows when to favor the customer, 99% of the time, and when to tell the 1% to take a hike.”
Janah, “Amaya, thank you for the splendid layout, uniforms, utensils, even with ultra modern decor, the place feels warm and welcoming, the music is splendid. Nikko, what support does Mariella need?”
Nikko, “She’s hiring an assistant, we run seven days, lunch and dinner, I don’t want her in there all that time. Her workload is lightened since she doesn’t deal with inventory or the books, Daria does that and much of it is automated. It also helps that we don’t take cash. Most restaurants like cash, most of it never gets reported, just disappears to the owner’s pocket. With our system, the customer swipes a card, the IPad informs him of his charges as dinner moves along. Split bills are easier, if two couples dine and each couple wants separate checks, they order separately. If a few customers tip extra in cash, that can’t much be helped.”
Daria, “And if card declined, we know before we serve them anything. We explain they are not pay in advance, they are pay as they go, and avoid surprise of big check at the end. Sometimes grumble, too bad, we give good bargain in food, drink atmosphere. They don’t like, go someplace else.”
Nikko, “All the policies are on the website, click on a straightforward agreement when they reserve. Once they show up, they have no excuses. We also explain our employee packages on the site. It’s up there under the guise of attracting applicants, but it is displayed so that anyone reserving will read about our pay structure, free uniforms, meal program, medical and dental benefits.”
Daria, “Customer say they try our restaurant because of how we treat employees, come back because food is good. We will be always popular, maybe not with other restaurants with lousy pay and no benefits.”
I laugh, “Can’t make everyone happy, how is the music received? I’ve been in a lot, from what I’ve seen the customers like it.”
Nikko, “Mariella says they are rather flabbergasted that they get such quality performances, no charge. Another draw on our site mentions the musicians, who is playing when. We pay them decently, they get experience. We don’t have them onstage all night. They do a song or two, let the diners enjoy the food, another couple of pieces. It allows for people to enjoy their companions, not a constant background of music. And we make sure they keep the decibel level acceptable. The music is not to interfere with the dining, there’s no requirement to stop talking.”
Dasha, “When Deexieland ees play, everyone get up from table and do second line all around restaurant, wave napkin in air, they make happy. Everyone ees laugh, relax.”
Daria, “Next week, we put live stream of music on website.”
Nikko, “That is brilliant, who thought that up?”
Daria, “Eloise, she likes Dixieland music. She does good second line, has umbrella like French Quarter musician. Everyone follow her around restaurant. All staff second line, cooks come out, like party. One night, band go out on street, Eloise lead everyone up and down block with umbrella, then back to restaurant. Crowd outside applause, dance.”
Nikko is silent, we all are, what an incredible thing, in flipping Manhattan, uptight capital of the universe. Who’da thought?
Daria, “Next Sunday, we have a special jazz brunch, Harlem gospel choir, Dixieland. Sold already out, local TV is also coming.”
Nikko has her chin resting on her palm, “Amazing, you girls are just amazing.”
Chapter Fifty Six
And so it went. The jazz brunch got a dazzling review from the NBC affiliate, reservations poured in. People can’t get to the Sunday event for three months, there are no open tables for dinner other nights for four weeks, then only because we don’t take reservations out any further, except for Sunday. There are no reservations for lunch, but the site, which is also available as an app, posts updated wait times.
Three weeks later, we have another discussion.
Nikko, “Do you want to expand upstairs as a holding room? Dinner’s not so much a problem because of reservations. Some guests have lots of time for lunch, tourists, retired people, students. I don’t want to get into lunch reservations, but we could, in addition to posting our estimated wait times, offer a place to sit, we can have music up there. Close it down after lunch.”
“You going to have a bar?”
Nikko, “Maybe a wine bar, couple of draft beers, not cocktails. I don’t want people willing to wait an hour sloshed when they got to a table. I don’t really want tables, maybe Amaya can think of how to set it up.”
Amaya, “Like a hotel lobby, we will call it The Lobby at Ultra Violet. Think of Mrs. Epsteins main room before we converted to the library. Comfortable leather chairs, sofa, love seats, coffee and end tables. Streamline choices, a few wines by the glass, a couple of beers. Easy bar to handle, we do not serve, let them go to the bar, then find a spot to sit. Make it clear when an open seat is available, it is available to anyone, like a bus or the subway. We can encourage it, make a friend at The Lobby at Ultra Violet.
Janah, “Just don’t tell Daphne, she’ll be up there all day.”
Nikko, “Any other thoughts?”
Mariella is with us today, she says, “Sometimes reservations run behind. We don’t force people to leave. Can we consider keeping the Lobby open at night?”
Nikko, “Can’t think of a reason not to, better than having people milling around the entrance. Can we require a reservation to be allowed up there? Our prices are good for wine and beer, it will turn into an open bar, then we have the same problem.”
Mariella, “Should have said that, it was my intention in the first place.”
Nikko, “Okay, if there’s nothing else, Amaya can go shopping, when she’s decided on the ambiance, I’ll call the city and our contractor.”
Amaya, “Tomorrow morning I need to get in and take a look at the space, dimensions, where support columns are, think over where the bar goes. Once I have that, Chloe and I will shop, I dream up colors and wall coverings. Are there restrooms up there?”
Nikko, “Yes, but they need to be ripped out and expanded. Plumbing probably needs expansion and overhaul as well. We’ll need dishwashers and sinks for the bar. The dishwashers downstairs run all day as it is.”
Amaya, “Okay, we shall need a closed space for that, not a problem, it will take extra plumbing as well.”
Nikko, “If you give me a general design, the architect will get the right scales. Our contractor is excellent, his subs are mostly our inmate friends. Guess we’re spending another million or so.”
Amaya, “Furniture won’t be too bad, I am buying for utility, no fabrics, no carpets, people will spill wine and beer, it has to be easy to clean. Same acrylic glasses, no breakage.”
Mariella, “No finger food I hope. Salty stuff encourages more drinks.”
Nikko, “I don’t see the need. It’s not a bar as such, it’s a comfortable waiting room. I don’t care if they don’t order drinks at all. Personally, I don’t care for open bowls of pretzels and nuts. People dig their hands in them, who knows where they’ve been.”
Mariella laughs, “Good, simple and sanitary. And I want them hungry when they get downstairs.”
Off we go again, our projects have a way of self expanding, but we get to hire a few more staff, good to add jobs. Plenty of NYU students looking to make a few bucks, particularly when it includes a free meal.
Zi and I do a day in and out refocusing just outside of Washington, across the line in Virginia. One of the horsey set, you know, the people who do dressage, jumpers, have ‘dinnah pahties’ with the horsey crowd they run with, occasional politician whose wife or kid is infatuated with horses.
Our target thinks immigrant daughters are created for his sexual pleasure. He made the mistake of offering one of his young ‘treats’ to the wrong man who had, innocently, said one of the young girls serving drinks was quite lovely. Our then drunk target thought he had an in to a State Department contact. Oops. If you’re abusing young girls, best to keep it to yourself, particularly when you’ve been knocking back Turkey on the rocks.
The mid-level State guy mentioned it to a colleague, who took it to the Society. They went to work and in two weeks had the goods on Horsey’s predilection for young Hispanic girls.
Zi and I took a private flight to Virginia, drove to Horsey’s horse-a-rama, called him out in front of his stable hands. Confronted with irrefutable evidence, he folded. That was after he folded into Zi’s rather sharp kick to his gut, followed by a second to his jaw. I left video and audio with his crew. We returned that afternoon, he was perp rolling by the six o’clock news. Rolling because he couldn’t perp walk. Two persons unknown had confronted Horsey in the stables, worked him over and left the evidence behind. From what I saw of Horsey, in a wheelchair, the stable crew clearly continued what we’d started. Of course, they didn’t mention that part, we got the credit for his black eyes, broken leg, busted ribs and mangled groin. Oh well.
Janah, “I followed, Zi didn’t do any of that.”
“Nope, two kicks and a conversation only. Don’t care, no point in the workers getting tagged. He deserved it.”
Dasha is at the restaurant, we order Empire Szechuan for dinner, watch TV, I stay up until she, Daria and Eloise roll in at eleven. Tired puppies.
Chloe comes along, we take the clothes, they get hot showers and towel dry hair. By the time we have them situated in bed it’s near quarter to twelve and the girls are asleep before we douse the lights.
Chloe, “They need a break.”
“Yeah. Tomorrow, no restaurant. Mariella needs to take over. I’m going to occupy Dasha, send Daria and Eloise to the workshop to invent nuclear fusion or whatever. We didn’t get into this to manage restaurants.”
Chloe smiles, “They are only watching out for our investment, I think if you give them permission to return to a normal life, they will be happy.”
“You’re right, should have thought of that myself. Got distracted by horse manure.”
Chloe laughs softly, “Goodnight Daphne.”