Chapter Eighty Nine X
Jackson’s car pulls up. I wait for him to knock, but open the door right away, he steps in.
I’m in something similar to Daria, miniscule shorts, long sleeved t-shirt, don’t need him seeing my brands. I close the door and lean against it, let him take in the vision.
Jackson, “Wow, and wow. Darlene, you got legs and legs, wow.”
Jackson, “I love,” he steps to me, stops, “a kiss?”
He’s gentler this time, hold his arms around me but skips the butt grab, no roaming hands.
“Much. I like to go slow usually, I thought it over, a little faster won’t hurt anything, will it?”
Jackson, “I’ll go any speed suits you, Darlene,” his eyes scan the territory.
“We might have to go a little slow, Janette’s daughter is here,” he frowns, “but I think you might not be too disappointed, she asked about the handsome sheriff. Janette’s gone overnight,” I take his arm and lean in conspiratorially, “Fran is at the age where she’s feeling frisky, she’s a bit of a tease, you know, a show off.”
He visibly perks up, this may work out better than he ever dreamed.
“Fran, our sheriff is here….to take care of us,” I give Jackson a smarmy smile.
He’s grinning like the lottery’s come his way.
Dasha comes around the corner. She’d wearing ha half t-shirt, platforms and a skirt that’s basically a ribbon around her waist. She stops, let’s the psycho’s heart race. She’s not made up young like Daria, enough to add a year. Dark eyes, red lipstick, earrings, a black ribbon choker, hair parted to the side. The t-shirt is cut to just below her breasts, and chopped around the neck revealing a lot of shoulder.
She steps up to Jackson, takes his hand and shakes it, hold on to it, “Big hands, I know what that means,” she meets his eyes, her tongue touches her upper lip.
I think Jackson is about to cry.
Dasha moves to the couch, twirls around, the skit flares out, Jackson makes a heart stopping discovery, she’s panty free. His pants bulge. Dasha sits on the edge of the couch, crosses one leg high and slow over the other.
I lean in to Jackson’s ear, “Told you she’s a tease, drives her mother crazy, but I kind of like it. You don’t object to a girl who also appreciates girls, do you?”
Jackson, “I got a real open mind,” his eyes never leave Dasha’s legs, she leans back on the couch, the skirt rises to glory, then past, straight to bliss.
She cocks one leg out a bit, cripes, now I’m getting hot flashes. I reach to Jackson’s bulge, squeeze gently, “I see you have an appreciation of the finer things.”
Jackson, “Uh, yeah, the finest things.”
“How about a drink, ease into the evening, bourbon good?”
Jackson, “On the rocks.”
I leave him to enjoy the view, pour his drink, a glass of white for myself and Dasha, bring the drinks on a tray and hand them out. I sit on one side of Dasha, Jackson takes the other. I set my wine on the end table, lay my hand on Dasha’s thigh and let it roam slowly.
“She has such succulent legs, and only me to appreciate them. She deserves an expanded her fan club, don’t you think, Sheriff?”
I lean over and kiss her, we tongue swap, my hand moves lower, I think Jackson may get off before he finishes his drink. He watches, takes a long pull. I play with Dasha.
He reaches over to stroke the hard thigh, hand moves up towards mine, “Darlin’ you are one f…..” his eyes glaze and he passes out.
I must have forgotten to mention the additional tweak to his cocktail.
When he comes to, we’re more suitably dressed and Jackson is more suitably wired to a chair with a sock in his mouth and duct tape over that. I sparkle his brain with an ammonia cap.
He pops up, not far up, his wrists strain against the picture wire, he grimaces, his ankles are tightly bound to the legs of the chair, shoes and socks off, wire cuts into his shins. We wait silently for him to get up to speed and let fear creep in.
We have him facing a blank wall in the basement, halogen bulb in his face. Janah has a Luer-Lok in the back of his hand, all set for the syringe. We’re all behind him, I rip off the tape and pull the sock out of his mouth. He’s facing a wall, it’s dark in the room, Janah and Daria are here, he doesn’t know that.
I do the talking, “JK, awake now, ready to chat?”
Jackson is groggy, still mean, trying to find his voice, “You’n sum seerus shit.”
I laugh gently, “Let me recap. You are wired to a chair, with a device in your arm through which I can administer any damn thing I want straight to your heart, then to your brain. Would you care to reconsider just who is in serious shit?”
“You gonna kill me, get ‘er done.”
“I’m not going to kill you, I’m going to get answers.”
“You forgettin’ my car is right outside?”
“Just where I want it. Nobody is going to bother us with Sheriff Psycho here, are they? You have folks well trained in your little spot on the map. They’ll just assume you’ve made another sexual conquest and be happy you are too tied up to terrorize them. Hmmm, tied up, maybe I should just tell your citizens you’re tied up and they can come air out their grievances. ”
He’s got to think that over, it’s not sounding good, he tries for a bluff, “Them people owe me, I’ve done ‘em lotsa favors, loaned ‘em money, got their kids off, might not go like you thinkin’.”
Daria and Janah have lots of tasty bits in their heads from their chat with Felicia, “Let’s see, I could invite the Trembleys, you made a video of dad having sex with his daughter. Or the Harvey family, remember how you made the ten year old girl and her mom suck off her fourteen year old brother. Or the dads of several Popper High coeds you filmed performing a variety of porn, then pay you bribes to keep it private.”
“Bullshit, you been fed a line of crap.”
“That’s funny, cause I got it all from Felicia, she even has photos, and a couple of bad porn flicks, including her going down on some of those same girls, and a couple of elementary school girls. Should I invite those dads and moms over to our little party?”
It’s beginning to stink in his sewer mind, things are not going well. Still, he’s not altogether helpless. He tries for mind control, and he’s not bad. The atmosphere starts to get hazy, I feel like I’m on a boat in high seas, the room pitches back and forth, oops, bad idea JK.
Daria steps behind Jackson, a forefinger on each temple shorts him out, zap!!
Ouch! That must have hurt.
Before he can reset, I have ammonia under his nose, ammonia’s a nasty jolt, enough of it can cause serious breathing problems, or worse, like dead worse.
He’s blurry, then awake enough, “Nice try JK, not good enough though. Your mind control is BB gun, mine is military grade. I can fry your head faster than a microwave, don’t get cute again or your brain will be water free, like sawdust.”
Jackson loses his veneer of cool, “What the fuck do you want!”
“You are going to tell me where every piece of video, photos or any other nasty evidence you’ve collected is located. Then I’m going to locate it. If I’m convinced it’s a complete inventory, you get to resign and move on. If I’m not, you get the sawdust brain. What’s it gonna be?”
Jackson, “Fuck you, I can take your shit.”
“Let’s see, shall we?”
Daria steps forward, I tap into her mind, “No, not yet. I want what he’s got, if you fry him, we might not find everything. You and Janah take over with the pharmaceuticals. When you have him under control, Dasha and I will go to his place and see what we can grab.”
I blindfold him, leave the halogen on so they can see to work. We leave Janah and Daria to do their thing, go upstairs to make tea and nibbles. Jackson isn’t that remarkably skilled at mind control. His capacity comes from a combination of hypnosis and mental manipulation. So while he is able to create sensations, turn down inhibitions, cause dizziness, even hallucinations, to get full control he needs his victim hypnotized. To be hypnotized you have to be susceptible and, if not agreeable, at least not resistant.
He uses a combination of intimidation and his mind skill to get people off kilter and uninhibited, not much different than getting them drunk or high. Then hypnotism to act whatever role he wants them to play. When he’s done, he wants the victims to know what happened, he has the video of their induced depravity. They don’t know what other families he’s used, nobody is going to talk about it facing threat of public exposure, particularly the ones who had their kids coerced. The final insult is extortion to keep him from publicly posting the porn. In effect, the actors pay him for their humiliation, doubly humiliating.
Why doesn’t some mom or dad just off him? People think about it of course. But thinking about murder and committing it are not the same thing. It’s a fact that even police officers, in exchanging gunfire, miss far more than they hit. Real life isn’t Dirty Harry.
Still, Jackson’s got some skill, it may take Janah a bit longer to get in his head, even with pharmaceutical intervention
Dasha and I return with cups of tea and finger sandwiches, we eat while Jackson goes on a hallucinogenic tour of an alternate universe. She shows Daria how to feed more chemical nightmare in without blanking him out so much he can’t provide us any useful information.
This method is an alternative to simple torture. For instance, I could have started taking bits of finger until he got chatty. Depending on the end result Janah wants, we go that way sometimes, other times like this.
“You have decided to leave him intact physically but slightly above vegetable mentally.”
“Yes. I think he would get past physical dysfunction but still use his brain to manipulate. I want to get the manipulate part gone. Part two is, if I only go that far, he’s still a psycho. I’m concerned he would resort to more direct violence to meet his need for sadistic humiliation.”
“Why not just off him?”
“I thought about it. Apart from Shadows, which he isn’t really, I want us to use the termination option as little as possible. If I can get him harmless it’s a better example for the twins.”
Janah has her ways, I’ve learned to go with it. She is me and me her, I could have answered the questions before I asked, but it helps her to use a sounding board, me or Nikko usually.
Nikko taps in momentarily, “If he’s going to be plant life, make him a weed.”
“He won’t have much range, most likely homeless.”
Amaya checks in, “The girls went above and beyond the call, letting the pervs have ‘almost.’
“You did a great job with their acting. They went from their normal dead flat to typical adolescents, to Lolitas in the space of hours.”
Amaya, “Actually, they are easy to work with. I would like to chalk it up to my coaching skill, but they do not bring any prior personality to the task. Nothing interferes with what I show them, they just absorb and do not shade it with their own personality. I still cannot put a clear handle on them, sociopathic, autistic, Asperger’s, from what I know of the disorders, which is not a lot, they have some aspects of each.”
“Janah doesn’t know either, but she doesn’t buy into the idea that there are clean definitions to that stuff anyway.”
Amaya, “Time to get Chloe dressed, dinner’s in an hour, you will be home soon?”
“Day after tomorrow if it goes well. The target is going to take a while, then Dasha and I have to clean out his video records.”
Amaya, “I will do something special for your return, think happy thoughts. Here’s a preview,” she stands on front of her mirror, in her nothing.
“If I could reach through the mirror, I’d make you feel really good for a really long time.”
Amaya grins and signs off.
Interesting way to kill time while I wait for Jackson to marinate. Daria disconnects the syringe, replaces it with another, this one will wind down his freak out and bring him to dazed unfocused awareness. Then she will start chatting.
What drugs are we using now? You will recall we upgraded David Li’s herbal workspace to a more formal laboratory. After all these years, David has distilled, combined and concocted a variety of compounds more targeted to specific effects than the normal course of drugs, like LSD, Ketamine, sodium pentothal, amphetamines and barbiturates. Janah can now create hallucinations with or without a racing heart or pounding blood pressure. She can control heart rates, from near exploding to near dead. Cooperation drugs, similar chemically to pentothal, remove inhibition, reluctance, or suspicion. How they will work with the psychos, particularly one like Jackson with his mind control kicker, we are going to find out. We haven’t had the opportunity to use them on Shadows yet.
How does David test them? On us, of course, a low dose version. Only Janah, Chan or me, although he will test them himself with Manolo or Janah present. It’s risky, but that’s the price. A monk who has his relationship with the animal world isn’t going to subject them to his tests. Besides, they don’t experience consciousness the way we do, there is no good way to gauge the extent of efficacy. So his lab rats walk upright and can report on exactly what they felt.
Janah grinds Jackson down, by ten o’clock, he’s spilled what we need to know. It’s dark, I take his keys, I make sure the neighborhood is still, ease out to his car. Dasha follows in our car, she parks between the trees that border the road, gets in Jackson’s with me. We drive to his place, a plain wood and stucco two bedroom set back off the road, not a neighborhood, I’m guessing it’s a couple of acres bordered by a plain rail fence. No pets, only a small light over the door, no one to see us enter.
We know where to look, his small safe has a key, not a combination. I take his computer, all the paper, an external hard drive and a handful of thumbs from his safe. There is nothing else. We wear latex gloves, no prints in the car or house, I leave the keys, close the door. We walk a quarter mile down the road to our car.
Back in our house, I tap into the drive, load up the videos. There are two dozen, child-child sex, child-adult sex, some of them are obviously family. Another half dozen are Felicia with teen girls and two younger, look to be eight or nine. Oops, one of Tricia and five men, one of which is her husband. Sucks one while a second fucks her, they round robin until the moment of truth, pull out and jizz in her mouth, she’s a swallower. The end of the video shows her smiling into the camera. I wonder if she gossips about herself?
Jackson clearly wanted the videos for extortion and to relive the humiliation, he isn’t in any of them. Daria pulled the information from the girl that Jackson had sex with several of them, he was smart enough not to film himself doing it.
The finale is making Jackson dysfunctionally dumb. The Society is cleaning out his bank accounts, he isn’t rich, the extortion was for power. None of the blackmailed could afford big money. He might have had grander plans for the future, move to a bigger town, expand his universe of victims, but there’s no evidence he’s planning to leave. It’s nearly two when the work is completed.
What had Janah and Daria done with Felicia? Daria zapped her brain, wiped out any memory of who she is, she’s fresh as a newborn. Janah injected her with a hypnotic and left her with a revulsion of girl sex, sex in general, nudity overall. Felicia is officially a memory zombie, one that can barely stand seeing herself naked, much less anyone else. How the town put together Felicia and Jackson’s disappearance might give them a lot to chat about for a while, then it will be a speculative mystery. One complicated by women who moved in for five days and moved out again. If Officer Benson said anything about our conversation pre his vacation, it would only make him the subject of suspicion rather than a welcome change to take over the department, restock it and find his eventual replacement.
A van pulls up, we load Jackson, I see Felicia slumped on the rear floor. Once they’re well out of town, the Society is taking Jackson to Los Angeles, nice weather, big homeless community, lost in the crowd. Felicia will be wandering around Mexico City with no idea how she got there. Maybe she can clean hotel rooms or pick fruit in a sort of immigration revenge.
We sleep until ten, pack our stuff and drive. Switch cars in Montgomery, drive to Birmingham and check into Hampton. Janah and Daria need more rest, they sleep while Dasha and I round up pizza and drinks. A simple dinner, watch a movie, then to bed. The next morning a private jet takes us to LaGuardia and by two we are in our apartment.
Amaya hugs the twins, “Splendido, you dears are my penultimate works of art, next to me in perfection.”
Dasha, “I make man get hard one, men are seemple, I show body, they lose mind.”
Amaya, “And Daria made the fat cop lose hers.”
Daria says nothing, picks up her bag and goes to her room.
Chloe, “I’m going to take her temperature. I’m guessing she’s okay, but it’s hard to tell.”
Chloe flows off behind Daria, between talking and her aura, we’ll know soon enough if the trip had an unknown adverse effect.
Dasha, “Dahfoney, ees not to worry about sister. Daria likes learning drugs and feex asshole cop.”
“Good enough, Chloe still wants to check on her. This work can be discouraging, the things people do.”
“What ees discourage, Dahfoney?”
“Disappointment, when you want people to be decent and they aren’t, for example.”
Dasha thinks about this, then, “We haf no expect people to be decent, no discourage.”
Janah, “You’re the one who likes to say ‘live in hope, die in despair,’ theirs is just the negative version.”
“There’s a point.”
“See, Dahfoney ees like us, just happy face kind. We do not know happy, so we do not know unhappy.”
Amaya, “I can see how that can be, I cannot do it, or if I could, I do not know if I would want to.”
“Vesnushki ees always happy, her nature. Eemaya is always happy, but she like to make beeg dramatic unhappy. Dahfoney is mostly happy, sometimes not. Janah is happy, but feel feelings of people too much to be always happy. Nikko is happy with fahmahley, not happy with asshole persons. Zi is happy for life, unhappy for people who are not happy for life. Daria and Dasha are not happy or unhappy.”
“Sounds like we’ve covered all the bases.”
“People are deeferent, why is meesterie?”
That explains that.
“Shall we have tea and forget about assholes and differences?”
So we do.
Chloe, Amaya and Nikko take us away with music, poetry and songs, I do the ceremony this time, kimono and all, we have thick tea, sweets, thin tea, it is a three hour extravaganza of just us, a step out of time, no threats, no whack cops, no world outside ourselves. At the end, we are fully retrofitted, calm, quiet, serene.
Susan calls, “Everything ok?”
“We had a three hour tea ceremony, it is as if nothing happened.”
Susan, “Good. I’ll be over for breakfast with Taylor and Lacy. No talk of the work.”
“See you then, make it eight.”
Chapter Ninety One
Dasha and I lay out the breakfast spread, pancakes, bacon, ham, Dasha’s scrahmbulled with crim chizz, cut cantaloupe, strawberries and raspberries with crème fraiche.
Taylor, “This is sooo good, thank you Dasha and Daphne.”
Lacy, “Double ditto.”
“It’s a pleasure to see everyone enjoy.”
Dasha and I start clearing dishes, refresh coffee and tea, while we rinse and stack, the conversation moves to Amaya’s movie.
Susan, “I see the movie comes out this weekend, limited release here in New York and Los Angeles.”
Amaya, “Childers is an indie director, he has a following for his action flicks, but he’s not Scorsese or Eastwood. He has to build a word of mouth, he only got New York because of Chloe.”
Chloe, “I hope people understand it’s only a bit part.”
Amaya, “We have no idea what the final cut looks like, do not know how much they kept of either of us.”
Susan, “Well, we’re all going to see it opening day.”
Chloe, “Oh my, is that a good idea?”
“Your fans will be expecting you, dear one. It’s not like he had a premiere, the first day is the premiere. He didn’t even do a pre-screening for critics.”
Amaya, “He told me it would create more initial vibe. Nobody knows what to expect, he is a new director for the work, Chris’ films used different directors. I took his offer because I like his earlier work. They are the right mix of action, real life action, not endless car chases, the dialogue is true to the book, the hero gets beat up, he limps around for a few days, not mysteriously healed overnight.”
Nikko, “The hero is gay, how did he get around the sex scenes?”
“By sticking to my method in the book, limited description, I am not writing porn, I write action and mystery with a few gay characters. The sex is implied, and I do not use smarmy terms like man meat, pussy, dick or tits. The audience is tolerant of gay, they do not want to see anal sex, even implied, on the screen. I do not have it in the text either.”
Chloe laughs, Amaya says, “I know, but just because I like it personally has nothing to do with my readers. Readers might be more accepting, I cannot fathom them enjoying a man screwing a man in the butt on screen.”
Taylor, “Girls get more of a pass, it’s a toy when it’s lesbian, you never see it on screen except in porn.”
Dasha, “Dahfoney, we will make chee, then roof .”
“It’s chilly, wear warmers.”
Dasha, “Da. You will wrap me.”
Taylor, “You guys have an interesting shorthand.”
Lacy, “They do that all the time. I’ve heard conversations where I’ve no clue what they’re talking about.”
“It’s nice, straight to the point. If you were around all the time, you’d learn the language. I have the benefit if total immersion.”
Susan stands, “And I have the benefit of a day job, time to go to it.”
Lacy, “Me too, school awaits.
Taylor, “Amaya, are you up for a walk? Anyone else? It’s cold, at least not windy, I want some things from Bliss.”
Chloe, “Nikko and I are scheduled for kendo.”
Zi, “I would love a walk.”
Janah, “I’ve got calls to make, follow up on our trip.”
Everyone has a plan, Daria has been quiet, but that’s normal. Susan and Lacy leave, Chloe and Nikko go to suit up, then Amaya, Taylor and Zi are out the door. Bliss won’t open for an hour, they’ll get a good slog in first, shop, maybe wind up someplace for lunch.
An hour of qi with both girls, then ankle and wrist wraps, long sleeve leotards, leg warmers, sweatshirt, and to the roof, Daria joins us. While Dasha does balance beam, tumbling and uneven bars, Daria and I bounce around the parkour course, then handstands and hand walking with Dasha.
A solid hour and we take our trembling shoulders and vibrating legs inside, strip off the clothes and hit the showers, the twins to their room, me to mine.
Janah is at her desk in our room, schmoozing with one of our Society contacts, then a report on another wife beater, she types in what she’s being told, it goes simultaneously to a Social Director who will find the nearest Surveillance team to check out the story. Surveillance will report back giving the Social Director enough to proceed, dig deeper, or drop the case. Dig deeper means the Society puts additional resources into play, tap the phone, monitor internet use, dig around financials. We’ll have any prior arrest records before Surveillance even begins. Sometimes suspects have been busted, sometimes not. We’re not the justice system, they’re guilty until we don’t come up with anything of substance. That seldom happens, there are so many of these jokers we don’t have to create them, they practically advertise.
I’m drying off when Janah disconnects, “Looks like somebody goes to Utah soon.”
Janah, “Nope, we just got home, I sent it to San Francisco, the team there is good for this. A guy who used to do UFC and a female boxer from an abusive relationship. They’ve shown discipline, done orderly refocusings, no overkill. One target had serious injuries, he pulled a knife and went macho. Our girl got cut, then she crushed his sternum with her fist, her partner added a very badly separated shoulder and a knee that will never work again.”
“You’re satisfied it was called for.”
Janah, “If someone cut you, Nikko would terminate them. The San Fran team was gentler.”
“I’m feeling you gearing up for lunch, want to go to the diner or stay home?”
Janah, “I’d like to get out.”
“Check with Nikko, I’ll tap in to the others, see who wants to join us.”
It’s unanimous, and a half hour later, eight of us are in the Village Diner watching Chuck plunk down coffee, Coke Zero, green tea. He’s served us so many times, there’s no need to place orders.
Then I hear Mini booming from the kitchen, “Do I need a veg dish?”
Chuck, “Yeah, Janah’s here, everyone’s here.”
Mini peers out the pass thru, “I got it covered.”
Veg chili for Janah, a cold weather favorite, a blue cheese burger for Dasha and me, Daria and Chloe share a huge omelet, chock full of vegetables, side of fries and grilled ham, Nikko gets a double order of crispy bacon and an egg white omelet. A lot of food for Nishiko.
We dig in, Mini comes over, “How’s the burger, Dasha?”
She blinks up at him, “Gud.”
Mini, “Better than a New Yorker review! I gotta put that on the menu, ‘Dasha says the bleu chizz burger at the Village Diner is gud.’ I’ll have a line out the door.”
“You get a line out the door already.”
“Still, it don’t hurt to get a expert opinion. Did I do the onions just right?”
Dasha, “Mine are better.”
Mini’s large laugh explodes, “I neva gotta worry Dasha’s bs-ing me. Why are yours better?’
“We caramel in buhter, no oil.”
Mini, “I’m on it, from now on, caramelize onions in butter.”
“And no too much, not mooshy, kreesp, but still sweet.”
“When you’re finished, you come to the kitchen and show me, okay?’
And when she’s done with bleu chizz burger, she does. Chunk of butter in the skillet, coarse chopped onion, low medium heat, keep stirring, before they go opaque, out of the skillet. There’s the hint of sweet but a nice crunch and the bite of onion left.
Mini tastes, “Kid, you got the touch. You wanna come here and cook?”
“I never think of it. I will talk to Dahfoney.”
Mini, “Let’s go see.”
They come back, Mini says, “Kids’ right, her grilled onion tastes like heaven. I asked her to come around and cook, she can do breakfast, or lunch, see how she likes it, whattaya think? Said she hadda talk to you.”
“Let us talk it over.”
Mini, “I’m serious Dasha, it ain’t no jokin’ around.”
He lumbers off.
“Well, you have an opinion?”
“No opeenyon, I will cook here, it will be gud. But when work, I go, no cook.”
“Mini won’t care. Let’s do it this way. You have to get a Health Department clearance, we can handle that, then they will show you as on payroll, but we don’t need the pay. You come here and learn what Mini can teach, you make some stuff, they have no cost.”
“You feex. I cook.”
Guess I could have said that in the first place.
Chapter Ninety Two
This evening we’re lined up at the box office, there’s a crowd, enough to fill the small theater. A stir when Chloe appears, but it’s New York and people need to appear blasé, it’s part of the attitude. She gets some nods, stares, a girl asks to take her picture. The ice is broken, more phones come out, Chloe just makes it to a seat in time.
Amaya, “Criminey, you would think the author would get some attention.”
“You are practically in disguise. If you wanted attention, you would have it.”
Amaya, “If they kept some of the dance, I will get quite enough; besides, Chloe is equally deserving and she does not mind endless photos and questions.”
The story remains true to the book, three cases, one just wrapping, another on hold, a third just beginning. Our hero discovers a link between the one on hold and the third, and he further realizes he’s had sex with the man he’s been hired to follow. The client suspects the boyfriend of cheating, then the boyfriend winds up dead and Frankie, who plays Francis Falcón, Amaya’s gay PI, finds himself a suspect hounded by a sadistic gay bashing cop. In the end, Francis exonerates himself, the killer is never in doubt, it is the client. Francis also manages to get the cop busted for extortion and murder.
I think the movie is good, I’m biased of course, but the dialogue is crisp, cliché free except when it conforms to the character. Amaya did a great job of keeping the action believable and the story made sense. Francis is a blend of honor and vice, like real life, the acting isn’t wooden, his humor sardonic, and the story moves along without a bunch of meaningless filler, no chase scenes, no fifteen seconds of staring into the dark night of the soul, no meaningless lengthy shots of scenery to fill frames.
The dance scene is everything Childers filmed, Amaya flipping kills it. New York audiences aren’t shy, the howls of ‘do it baby, look at that,’ whistling and applause make it surreal. The scene of Amaya in the dressing room with Sondra Taylor drives the crowd to a minor frenzy. It isn’t long and the action picks up quickly, the audience settles down.
Amaya, “That was weirdly exhilarating, seeing myself on screen in nothing.”
“Exhilarated the audience to near hyperventilation.”
Chloe is in the last third, her fans, some girls who dragged along parents or older siblings in order to get into the R rated flick, screech like the extras in the movie. I hear a flutter of whispering, different versions of, ‘Chloe is here, like here in the theater, is that cool, or what? No way, where?’ Heads turn to search, fingers point.
The movies ends, amazing applause. Outside, Chloe is not exactly mobbed, but enthusiastically surrounded, then people recognize Amaya. While we wait for them, I hear people in line for the next showing asking about the movie and what’s all the fuss about. The exiting audience has a one up, they saw the film with both Amaya and Chloe in the theater, make the most of bragging rights. Our mini celebrities spend an hour of photos together and with fans. Nikko, Zi and I keep a cautious eye on things, but the people are just having fun, nothing threatening or even obnoxious.
I spot a guy taking to Amaya with a recorder, a film critic from the nature of the conversation, getting an extra slant on the movie. Amaya reiterates how Childers stayed true to the book, how she accidentally wound up doing the dance scene. The critic appears to like this tidbit and if Amaya can’t charm a guy, he’s a zombie.
We pile into our waiting rides, tonight requires two SUVs, rather than try and go to a restaurant, we return to the apartment. Dasha and I have a light buffet prepared, Kara and Lacy are making drinks, pouring wine, conversations overlap in a buzz of excitement.
Amaya is talking with James, Kara and Lacy, “Was Chloe not gorgeous? She is the world’s most photogenic human.”
Kara, “I should think you may both wind up with acting offers, at least you should in my view.”
Lacy, “I’ll say. The Chapmans girls are going to go ballistic. You may have to sneak out of the building for a while.”
Amaya, “I must admit, seeing me up there is unworldly. It’s not like acting in a play. I’m on stage, but I cannot see me onstage. Even if I look at me through Daphne’s eyes, I am still normal size, not thirteen feet tall.”
James, “Not to be too prurient, but how did filming the dressing room scene feel, at the time, and now that you’ve seen it in the movie?”
“At the time, I was just concerned with getting my bit right. It was no different than any performance art I do. I focus on what needs expression. For that scene, I became the girl who enjoyed being hit on by Sondra. It is not me, I am the character, not Amaya playing the character. It was easier than my normal work, I don’t have to play a lesbian, I am one.”
Lacy, “Were you nervous, about being critiqued?”
Amaya, “I knew the dance was good, so, no, I was nervous about the reception of the movie and how Chloe was seen in it.”
Kara, “That obviously turned out well.”
“Yes. As Chloe says, she does not consider herself to be anyone’s role model. Still, she does not want to have her adolescent and younger fans to be presented with a racier Chloe. She would never do the dance or dressing room scenes, for instance.”
James, “Her part was short and harmless.”
“Childers did a good job of keeping it incidental, something that happened in the course of Frankie’s day. Chloe plays Chloe, and the scene is unrelated to the plot. Childers wanted to have her name attached, she is good for box office. He was careful to emphasize her role as a cameo appearance.”
“And from her standpoint, it’s no different than lending her name and presence to any product.”
“Same thing. She makes the clothes look great, and her face captivates, which is a bonus for the ads. People stop on the page, even if they are not initially drawn to the outfit. If Chloe wears it, it must be fashionable.”
After eating, Dasha and Daria disappear to their room, Susan says, “The girls disappeared quickly.”
“Enough social interaction, outside with the crowd, sitting in a packed theater. Dasha might have hung out, but Daria comes first, second and third in her list of priorities. Daria’s getting better at it though. You didn’t notice, it was busy after the movie, but they retreated to the SUV as soon as we got out.”
Susan, “I thought she would have wanted to look out for Chloe.”
“They did, from the car, no distractions of people milling around. If something looked troublesome, they would have been all over it. You have to remember, they can see through my eyes in addition to watching through their own. In the car, it was no different than having a video and audio monitor focused on the scene.”
Susan, “How did my tech geek self wind up with such a strange daughter and her strange family?”
“Some people are just lucky.”