All the homework we can do is done, cameras are in place, monks around the school when it’s in session, two of our female monks are on the premises with Paladin all night. Patrolling monks include a couple of Sensitives, looking for anyone with bad intent. Zi and Chloe walk the blocks several times a day.
At tea the third day, Zi says, “Nothing, do you think whoever has spotted any of us?”
Janah, “Anything is possible. Sloane has met Abril, they did language lab together, Sloane speaks Japanese and passable Russian, a smattering of French. Abril is helping her with French. Even though she was born here, her first languages were both Spanish and English, French is her third, she’s fluent in Chinese, no Russian.”
“Anything related to her father come up?”
“She gets calls from him, she frequently lets it go to voicemail. She told Sloane her father is annoyingly persistent about moving to Argentina, she has zero interest.”
“She’s been in New York her whole life, her friends and school are her, her brothers and mom. If dad were really interested in her best interests, he’d leave it be.”
Amaya, ‘He is Latin, and a rancher, it is all tied up in macho. Rather think he would want the sons, do cowboy crap.”
Sloane, “Abril is beautiful, she’s got Chapman’s manners, he sees her as the graceful monarch of his little bovine fiefdom,” she giggles, “Abril is a vegetarian and can’t stand horses.”
Amaya, “Daddy is tone deaf then, what a putz.”
Two more days of nothing, then Sloane says Abril invited her to dinner at home.
“Sure, she warned me her brother will hit on me, but she said he’s not aggressive, just a horny seventeen.”
“How old is the other brother?”
“Um, fifteen, Abril a year under that.”
“Does she know you come equipped?”
“Hasn’t come up, but she may just be being polite. I still know some of the older girls, they might have said something.”
“How are you getting there.”
“Going after school tomorrow, she said her mom would drive me home but I told her I can get a taxi.”
Amaya, “You will call and I shall collect you, it is a straight shot up the West Side highway, I can be there in minutes.”
Plans made, we slip into dinner, night off for Dasha and me, everyone wants Marconi’s pizza.
We play a Poirot on Netflix, it’s the later series and the plotlines have deteriorated, David Suchet even looks tired of his character, Hastings, Inspector Japp and Miss Lemon have disappeared entirely.
“I’ve noticed a fair number of Poirot plots runs along the lines of earlier Sherlock Holmes stories.”
Amaya, “Agatha Christie was a well known semi-plagiarist. She even admitted as much, claiming that her early writing was greatly influenced by Conan Doyle’s detective.”
“Dang, thought I’d discovered something new.”
“It is commendable you noticed at all, most people do not notice when their hair is on fire.”
Our crew is tired, Nikko, Daria and Zi have been diligently pursuing our business interests, Dasha has made the rounds of her Down Home restaurants in the boroughs. Amaya drove her, I was busy with kitchen duty and housework. Chloe took half the condo, me the other, it’s a huge place and we like it pristine.
The others were monitoring cams and drones, no particularly difficult, except that to do it well you need to be intensely attentive. That’s why Oceane, Eloise and Cass are good at it. Eloise is a geek and predisposed to detail, Oceane is laser focused by nature. We need only tell Cass what the task is, she does it until we tell her to do something else.
Morning, breakfast and to our duties, the day slides by, Sloane calls.
“Leaving school with Abril and her mom. You tracking me?”
“Always, and Oceane is backing me up with the drone, there is no chance of you getting lost. Besides, Amaya has insisted we follow you to the condo, we’re actually down the block, I see the Sosa Mercedes now.”
“Cool. Leaving the building, I won’t wave and give you away.”
I see Sloane and Abril get into the back seat of a GLC similar to our own. The car pulls away, a left on Christopher Street to the West Side Highway, off at 79th Street to Riverside, up to 91st. At 91st just before Amsterdam, a van blocks the street. A second Ford sedan traps the Mercedes from behind, two men exit the truck and move alongside the Sosa Mercedes. I’m out of our car, Dasha right behind. Amaya pulls our car next to the Ford, so close it will be impossible for the drive to get in on that side. She jumps out runs to the passenger side and slices off the valve stems on the front and rear. Then she bolts to the van.
The two men are on each side of the Mercedes, one bashes the rear window and reaches in left-handed to unlock the door, he screams and tries to yank his arm away, no dice. He raises his right, there’s a gun. I’m behind him, grab his wrist with one owl claw hand and his neck with the other. His wrist snaps, the gun clatters to the street, I kick it under the car. I squeeze until his brain isn’t getting blood, he slumps to the sidewalk, or sort of, Sloane has his wrist in her mouth, wolf teeth have nearly bitten through.
“You can let go honey, he’s cooked.”
While Sloane was dismembering one, Dasha was pummeling two, poor slob had no chance, she has a right cross that could stop a cape buffalo. She also has no mercy, he turned with his Glock leveled at her, she grabbed the gun with one hand and broke his jaw with the other. When she twisted the gun away, she also stuck her thumb in his left eye. Two is weeping and screaming on the concrete. Dasha mercifully knees him on the temple, he’s quiet now.
Amaya was busying slicing rear wheel valve stems from the van. The driver jumped out, then seeing things were at best mayhem, jumped back in and tried to drive away with two flattening tires. Doesn’t work, Black punches through the driver’s side window straight to the jaw. Chan jumps on the hood, kicks out the windshield and pulls Three out over the steering wheel onto the hood, he’s pretty much a mess now.
Cops are everywhere.
A patrolman I don’t know comes over, he’s got cuffs out, “I’m taking everyone in until this is sorted out. You have the right…”
His radio crackles, “What is it, I’m making an arrest.”
Radio, “Hold up Moss, this is Junior, who you busting?”
He clicks the mike to reply, I say, “Hey Junior, it’s Daphne, Janah must have reached out for a big hunk.”
Cop, “Sarge, you know this lady?”
“Quite well, stand down on her people, I’m on the way.”
Cop looks at me, “Sorry Miss…”
“Sylk, Daphne Sylk, and you are Moss, nice to meet you.”
“I was just about to haul you in.”
“Wasn’t gonna happen, when Junior gets here, I’ll tell you what this is about. The short version is attempted kidnapping. The bad guys are needing medical attention.”
Patrolman Moss goes to the EMT van just pulling up.
Black comes over, “Sure glad you got me these gloves, saved me from cuts opening the window.”
I got him several pairs of my invention, his required a custom cut, his hands are the size of a skillet. They have titanium inserts over the knuckles and one that covers the palm heel. Chan has them too, but I doubt he uses them much, Chan can break a baseball bat with his bare fist.
“Don’t mention it, and don’t mention it to the cops, they could be perceived as a form of brass knuckles, which are illegal.”
Junior screeches up, wow, old home week, Jocelyn is with him.
“Jocelyn, how’s life on the mean streets honey?”
“Mostly behind a mean desk, it’s Detective Parsons now.”
“Congratulations, do you still get to shoot people?”
“Don’t be talkin’ shoot, public all over us ‘bout that stuff. Like I’m supposed to know what some dope’s intent is while he’s yellin’ and waving a weapon.”
Junior, “What’s the deal Daph?”
I explain the situation and the events leading up to it.
“And you thought it would be better to go it alone than involving the police?”
“Come on Junior. What are your folks supposed to do, follow around the Sosas on a hunch that the daughter might be kidnapped? How many extra cops you got for that duty?”
Junior frowns, “Point taken.”
“You still get to take the perps into a quiet room and pound them with phone books to extract the confession. Or you could give them to us, we work quick.”
Jocelyn laughs, “We don’t do that shit anymore, nobody has phone books, we still got rubber hoses though.”
Junior, “Interrogation techniques are more sophisticated now. We yell a lot.”
“If you say so. Anyway, the father lives in Argentina, he’s scheduled to fly to New Jersey tomorrow, I presume he thinks he’s taking his daughter home with him.”
Junior, “Don’t suppose you know the flight number?”
“Delta 1444, one thirty, Newark.”
Junior, “Jesus, you know the Powerball numbers too?”
“Sorry,” I briefly wonder if Oceane does but forgets to mention it.
Sloane comes over, she’s cleaned the blood off her face, some of it still on her shirt.
“Amaya is going to have a fit, that’s a Diane von Furstenberg
Simonia Silk Boho.”
Jocelyn, “What does that mean?”
“Two hundred fifty bucks in the trash.”
Sloane, “I bit him on the wrist.”
Junior, “You bit him?”
Sloane smiles, her front teeth are normal, but from the incisors back, they’re wolf teeth, pointy sharp.
Jocelyn, “Damn, you get those put in on purpose?”
“A friend made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.”
Junior, “Where’s Janah?”
“At home, it’s dangerous out here.”
Jocelyn, “Yeah, particularly with you and your pals loose. Who’s the two behemoths?”
“Black is the black one, but you’re a detective, probably figured that out right away. Chan is the Chinese guy, both are monks, priests actually.”
Junior, “Funny kinda priest.”
They go off to interview, we join Mrs. Sosa, or Bartlett, after the divorce she reverted to her maiden name. To avoid the hassle of name changes, the kids kept their father’s surname. Maybe not for long now.
Abril, “Sloane saved me, she’s got a vicious growl.”
“She has a thing about kidnappers.”
Ms. Bartlett, “I’m still shaking, God, my ex, I was always scared he’d stoop to this. He’s tried every kind of bribery, convinced I’ve brainwashed Abril into hating him. She doesn’t, or didn’t.”
Abril, “Scaring us to death is a lousy show of affection, he’s an asshole. I’m done talking to him. Those men had guns.”
Bartlett, “Now what, like if he tries again?”
“He’s got other problems for the time being. The punks are going to roll over on him.”
Bartlett, “They look Hispanic, he has loyal people, they pay a price for disloyalty.”
“It’s being handled. First, they’re being booked for an act of terrorism, rights get flushed. I know they may have vulnerable families at home, but the prospect of years in prison tends to loosen tongues. Second, Señor Sosa is going to be detained, for a long time.”
Abril, “How do you know that? He’s in Argentina, and he has lots of friends in the government.”
“Have to ask you to trust me. We figured this out, we stopped it. Your father is going to be a good boy, he’s going to leave you and your family alone.”
“I never want to hear from him again.”
“Not a problem. If I may ask, how will your brothers deal with it?”
Bartlett, “They don’t care, they don’t exist for him, only Abril. He has two sons by a mistress in Buenos Aries, one reason for the divorce.”
“Ah, clears that up.”
Abril, “Guess we call off dinner.”
Bartlett, “Dinner’s ordered, probably delivered by now, and I really need a drink,” she turns to me, “Can Sloane stay? I mean, if she wants.”
Sloane, “Great, we can shift to forget and find fun stuff to talk about. I’m kind of a mess though.”
Dasha, “Take my shirt, we can swap een car, I will just wear jacket, ees gud.”
They go off to change, naturally a crowd has gathered, cops still all over the place.
Sloane returns in a minute, “Better, feeling human again.”
Bartlett, “Whatever possessed you to bite him?”
“I must be part wolf, I didn’t even think about it, just did it.”
Black and Chan are done being interviewed, they come over.
Junior joins us, “Everybody go home, the press is on the way.”
Bartlett, “Will our names be…”
“No ma’am, alert New Yorkers prevented an attempted kidnapping, names must be withheld, blah, blah, blah.”
Satisfied, she, Abril and Sloane go to the car and leave for home.
“Junior, correction, alert citizens prevented a suspected act of terrorism, repeat after me.”
“Whaddya mean Sylk? These guys are Hispanic, not Muslim, no indication they belong to any terrorist organization so far.”
“I’m putting you ahead of the curve big man, by tomorrow, it will be an act of terrorism and you’ll appear to be in the know.”
Jocelyn intervenes, “Sarge, Sylk says terrorism, the story gonna be terrorism, just roll with it.”
Junior shrugs, “Suspected act of terrorism, what the flip, attempted kidnapping in daylight on a busy street, what else could it be?”
“Now you’re getting with it, I knew a savvy street cop like you would see it right off.”
Jocelyn, “Don’t be blowing his ass up, already got a half dozen admin bitches sucking up. Coffee, donuts, drink after work, I don’t know how he gets shit done with all the hoes after him.”
Junior, “Jocelyn, don’t besmirch my good name, I’m a reputable officer of the law, protectin’ and servin’ and all.”
“I think she was complimenting your prowess studley, you should thank her.”
Jocelyn laughs her throaty laugh, “I hope you wearin’ protection while you servin’ them bitches, who know where they been ‘fore they got to your black ass.”
I’m laughing until I cry, Black too, even Chan has a grin. Junior’s black, I still see a blush.
Back at the condo, no press, a few citizens with cell phones, the inevitable consequence of technology. We always change license plates on any surveillance activity, Amaya, Dasha and I were unrecognizable as ourselves. Black and Chan did what they could, overcoats, caps and sunglasses. They were in the neighborhood watching for assholes that might lurk around the Bartlett condo.
I told Chan to walk a few blocks down, we pick them up there, away from the scene and the curious. Now the family is having cocktails, Shaolin don’t drink alcohol, our cocktails are Coke Zero or club soda.
Sis is on the phone, “You disguised pretty well, but pictures of Sloane in a bloody blouse kind of gave it away.”
“Hope it didn’t create a panic.”
“I could see she wasn’t hurt, she was just standing there talking to another girl.”
“Abril. Her Argentine father thought the way to his daughter’s heart was to kidnap and take her back to Argentina. Since she didn’t want to go Argentina, we figured stopping it was in her best interest.”
“You had an army, Black and Chan were obvious since I know them, who else was out there?”
“Maybe thirty monks, not really sure, Chan organized it.”
“Lacy and Taylor say hello, the excitement has them buzzed, I suspect lively intimacies this evening. They’re already tongue swapping on the couch.”
“Makes me warm to envision it, I’m going to find someone to snuggle up to later, Dasha gets frenzied when she’s had a chance to clock someone. I hope she demands I attend to her tonight.”
“Lucky you, gotta go, my girlfriends have taken off for the bedroom,” she
Since Dasha and I were occupied, we didn’t make dinner, Chan’s wife Ning thoughtfully brought over a ton of Chinese. And another treat, Sonia is here. We’re gorging on hot and sour or won ton soup, Peking Duck, shrimp with garlic sauce, stir fried vegetables in Szechuan sauce followed by a vast selection ofChinesepastries. Yummy.
“Sonia, your husband clocked a bad guy right though the window of his van, then Chan destroyed the windshield and yanked the dope out right over the steering wheel, it was awesome.”
Ning, “Kidnapping young girl is not acceptable.”
“No, it isn’t. I thought we might be doing surveillance overkill, but changed my mind when we didn’t see the three men around Chapman’s. That meant they’d likely written off the school as a possibility.”
Nikko, “So they had to make the grab someplace else. Amaya wasn’t going to let Sloane go off with Bartlett without a tail. Even with Black and Chan covering the neighborhood.”
Black, “Good thing, if they make the attempt a few blocks sooner, we aen’t there. We had monks for three blocks around the condo, even Shaolin can’t cover all of Manhattan.”
“Eloise had a drones following Bartlett. Worst case, she and Oceane would have fired tranquilizer darts, the kidnappers wouldn’t know what hit them. Still, on busy Manhattan streets, there’s no guarantee of clean shots.”
Our visitors head for home, Sloane calls, “Hey mom, we’re done, can Amaya or someone get me?”
“On the way, stay inside until I call.”
Amaya’s in the shower, I look through her eyes, which are looking down on Dasha on her knees. You can imagine what that’s about. So much for my original thought.
Chloe is next to me, “Let’s get Sloane, then perhaps we can have our own shower.”
On the way back Sloane is going a hundred words a minute, “Abril got like fifty texts, we spent the whole time after dinner in her room replying. Her brothers are cute, and the older one did hit on me, politely. It was nice, except I don’t think they know I’m trans. Abril does, before we left her room she hugged me, gave me a soft kiss on the lips. She blushed and whispered that she was curious about the boy part. Then we kissed again, more intimately.”
Chloe, “How sweet.”
“She’s hot, long black hair like mom, eyes so dark they’re almost black. They give her a certain sensuality. Like a silent invitation.”
“She’s fourteen, our family starts young, but she’s not in our family.”
“Mom, I’m not going to do her, I think I might be the first person she’s kissed.”
“I was more thinking about her interest in the boy part.”
“Yeah, well, there’s that, but she can Google naked guys for that bit. I figure she was letting me know she knew, and it didn’t matter to her, that’s all.”
I drop it, she’s sounding sensible.
Back home she races up the steps, I hear the shower. Chloe and I go to her room for our own shower, then to her bed to continue the fun. After some oral give and take, she hands me a strap on.
“Do it slow until it’s time to go fast.”
I’m good at following instructions. If you haven’t had delicious sex with a famous film star and model, get out there and find one. No, you can’t borrow ours.
Morning comes, I’m still with Chloe, she still out for the count, I get up and go to my room.
Janah’s asleep, as is her companion Sloane. I quietly brush and flush, slip on a fresh shirt and slip out to the kitchen. Dasha is just starting coffee.
“Good morning angel, have a nice evening?”
“Eemaya ees always nice efning, she does everything, more than once,” she shifts to self talk, “anyway ees time for making breakfast, what do we haf?”
She rummages through the refrigerator, opens the pantry.
“I thought to get donuts, but we had pastries last night.”
“Nyet, we will haf protein breakfast, salmon feesh, Miso zoup, Tamagoyaki, vanilla almond quinoa wiz meelk.”
“What’s my assignment?”
“Miso ees ready for warming, set out feesh, ohnyon, capers, I will make Tamagoyaki egg, quinoa ees seemple.”
Coffee’s ready, we caffeinate while we prep. Our early birds appear, the business girls, Nikko, Zi and Daria. Two tea drinkers, Nikko alternates between coffee and tea, this morning it’s coffee.
Zi, “Wow, Miso starter and smoked salmon, yum.”
Dasha lays out a platter of Tamagoyaki and bowls of warm quinoa and milk.
Nikko, “Nice job Dasha, geez this is good.”
“You will be healthy girls and make us money een business so Eemaya can swap luxury cars every year and buy Neiman Whoever blouses for Sloane.”
Amaya sits, “And to get bloody the first time she wears it. In the trash it went.”
Janah, Chloe and Eloise arrive, Sloane zips past, “Going to get the girls.”
She’s down a minute later, “They were just moving, be down in a few, what do we have? Yay, salmon, and the rolled up eggs Dasha makes, what’s in the bowl?’
“Vanilla almond quinoa with milk, think of oatmeal.”
Sloane, “I eat anything, particularly when mom and Dasha make it. We had Italian at Mrs. Bartlett’s, I can’t remember the restaurant, but it was good, like Marconi’s. Rigatoni with meatballs, nice thick sauce, Italian salad, ciabatta and cannoli. We pigged.”
Ocean and Cass float in, they remembered to slip on a chemise, more likely Sloane reminded them by laying two out on the bed.
Oceane engages with the salmon, she says it was raised on a farm, then feeds Cassie a piece, they share a bowl of Miso soup.
Dasha gives them a plate with a half dozen rolls of Tamagoyaki and a small bowl of quinoa. Oceane and Cass don’t eat much, but they are healthy, toned, with soft rich hair, clear eyes and flawless skin. Must be doing something right.
The others are done, they go off to their day, Dasha and I clear and clean while the girls take their time over breakfast. Their time is not our time, there is no sense of finish this get to that. Of all of us, they are most unconstrained by duties, jobs, obligations, they have none.
Chan Master Baizhang Huaihai is quoted as saying ‘a day without work is a day without food.’
Rules and restrictions may be suitable for Zen, our Chan is more about throwing all that away to be free of restraint. We provide every material need for Oceane and Cassandra, with neither obligation nor responsibility are two of the most remarkable beings we know. And we know a truckload of remarkable human beings, not to mention other animals we’ve been privileged to meet.
Time to escape Manhattan for July and August, we’re heading to Canada. Sloane, Dasha and I go a few days early, Oceane and Cass travel with us. Dasha shipped frozen and canned food, we stop for perishables on the way in.
It’s a busy time for the monks who run the fishing guide service and guesthouse. They added four rooms to meet demand, additional houseboats, and expanded monk’s quarters for two more to help run the business. The guesthouse has a full time chef, Vicky, a monk who worked in our Chinatown kitchen. And Don, a monk from San Francisco who responded to Janah’s posting for the job in Canada.
It takes a certain temperament to be both a polite and friendly fishing guide and one of six monks snowed in during the winter. A winter with a significant amount of maintenance and repair to get ready for the next season.
We don’t want to tie up the staff to open our cabin and deliver the volume of food we need for twelve people over sixty days.
We have a private houseboat for leisurely fishing trips, and a powerboat to speed back and forth for grocery runs. Last year Amaya wanted a bigger boat to cruise the lake, thus the cabin cruiser.
“Francois, so good to see you, the others are busy no doubt.”
“Daphne, we can hardly catch a breath. Vicky is in the kitchen, she has sandwiches prepared, I have the things you sent loaded on your boat. Don, Jan and Charles are out with guests, Su Lin is in the guesthouse someplace.”
“We won’t disturb, just say hi and get moving. Lots to do to open the house and put away supplies. You were able to restock the wood?”
“Yes, I checked, it’s covered, nice and dry, ready for the fireplace. We ran the water and fired up the propane, there are no problems.”
“Thank you, the others will be here in two days, they can take the houseboat over.”
We go inside long enough to tell Su Line hello, and check in with Vicky.
“Hey Daphne, sandwiches are here, I know you want to get busy, it’s simple stuff, cold cuts on wheat bread. There is fresh fish in one of the coolers for dinner.”
“How do you like the job?”
“My dream life, cooking, a smaller group than the temple, but when the lodge is full it can run to twenty guests plus the six of us. I love the contrast, crazy busy for six or seven months, then a beautiful frozen silence for five. At the end of one season, I’m ready for the other.”
“Thank you for the sandwiches and organizing the deliveries. Hope we didn’t inconvenience much.”
“You gave all of us a life we could never have on our own ,a good business, complete autonomy to run it and wonderful stretches of solitude. It’s a Buddhist dream honey.”
We take off, I pilot the cruiser, Dasha the Stingray, Oceane and Cass ride with her, Sloane with me. After I’m re-familiarized, I turn the wheel over to Sloane, sit back and take in the view.
Twenty minutes of crystal blue lake, green forest until the tree line breaks and only the majestic rock of the mountain, snow still on the peaks.
Dock and unload, even with five of us it’s several trips back and forth until things are inside ready to be put away.
“Sloane, take the girls outside, Oceane will want to visit the fish. Dasha and I will deal with supplies.”
“Come on Cass, we can race the grounds, maybe a wolf will visit.”
Dasha self-chats, “Get frozen things een freezer, Dahfoney will put away cans, wash produce, Janah will find herbs, mushrooms and berries when she ees here. Sister will be here in two days only.”
I’m touched, the twins don’t like being apart any more than Janah and I. Until this trip, we’ve never actually spent a single day apart. We decided that if Dasha and Daria could do it, so should we.
I tap into her, “Here and stocking shelves, I feel like a grocery clerk. Dasha’s reminding herself that her sister will be here soon.”
Janah, “I’m reminding myself that I’ll be there soon. Soon as Amaya took you to the airport, I was wanting to see you. And we have to be physically together to merge into one.”
“Try the toys.”
“I started to, but Eloise showed up and made certain demands.”
“Which you readily acceded to.”
“Yep. Daria, Nikko and Zi were at the office, after Eloise was through with me, I refreshed and decided to comport myself nude on the couch and see what turned up.”
“Taylor turned up to visit Amaya, but when I answered the door nude, she made herself available to me first.”
“Then it occurred to me that Sis and Lacy were all alone. I showered, slipped into a t-shirt and platforms, walked the two blocks, then a couple extra. The t-shirt was butt length, I was being deliciously ogled.”
“You must have been steamy by the time you got to the condo.”
“Volcanic. Susan and Lacy caught on instantly, I did them both on the couch. Then they took turns with strap-ons. I took a long route home, tingling with erotic exhibitionistic pleasure the whole time.”
“You sure know how to kill time.”
She giggles, “Amaya says I’m a shameless slut. Tonight she’s going to make me demonstrate my slutness on her, in front of everyone.”
“When the mood hits, I’m helpless. I was dying to flash someone on my walk."
“Letting you loose, I don’t know if it’s a good or bad idea.”
“Unsupervised girl gone wild.”
“Made two teens happy anyway.”
“And me. I’m for a nap, got a busy evening ahead.”
We log off, good gravy. Janah’s always been exhibitionistic. At twelve or thirteen, if we were home with just Susan, Janah would go sans clothing. She liked Susan's eyes on her,such a tease.
Dasha, “You haf talk to Janah, must be sexy talk, you are flush.”
“Janah’s having one of her sensuality attacks.”
“Ah, she will make sex wiz everyone, lucky girls, Janah ees making happy time for them. We will go upstairs Dahfoney, you will make happy time for Dasha.”
Yay! And happy doesn’t begin to cover it.