Janah, “I want in her apartment, we wait until she leaves, break in and see what’s what.”
“The tracker will warn us when she’s headed home.”
“Which is fine, we can take her at the apartment. Keep things tidy even if she isn’t.”
Lunch comes and goes, the GPS doesn’t kick in, it sends a message when the car moves. Cass clicks on the remote. Oh cripes, I forgot to change the channel, there’s another evangelist hawking God credits by railing against hommasexals and Planned Parenthood.
Nikko goes over and changes the channel, it’s a Spanish soap. It does appear the glory days of big breasted women with big hair, big hips and fiery red lips plotting to snag rich men are gone. The casts are all beautiful people with nothing to do but connive while circling each other like cannibalistic hyenas.
“Practice your Spanish .”
Oceane translates the dialogue for Cass, a vapid nothing of sniping, preposterous plots, jealousy, greed, even incest. Modern day Game of Thrones en Español.
Sloane is laughing, “Our family doesn’t have enough interpersonal drama, maybe if we spoke Spanish things would liven up. Amaya could construct a storyline, Zi secretly has a baby, Nikko has a bad run in business and we’re broke until she earns it all back and more. Janah runs off with a Mormon cowboy and occupies a federal building to protest not getting free grazing land.”
“Janah Bundy sounds weird.”
“I’ve got it, she could be the first lesbian rancher fighting the government to reclaim our constitutional freedoms. My subplot is to be a moody, psychologically disturbed transgender girl with a penis. The most popular boy at school falls in love with me, he doesn’t know about the boy part. Meanwhile, I’m doing his cheerleader girlfriend he thinks is saving her virginity for marriage.”
Amaya, “Sloane may have a future in soap.”
“Amaya says you have potential as a soap screenwriter.”
“There you go, expert opinion, I’ll jump into it when life gets boring.”
Janah, “The tracker is talking.”
So it is, the dot moves slowly away from the apartment complex.
“Let’s get in gear, both cars, when we get to the apartment, Oceane can fly the drone to wherever Carlson is. Sloane, tranquilizer darts and an Oblivion. We may need to take her before she gets home.”
Nikko, “You are determined to spoil my fun.”
“You can beat me up sparring when we get home.”
The inside of Carlson’s apartment is slightly cleaner than the interior of her car. It reeks of cigarettes, we’ll need to be sanitized when this is done.
“Janah, keep an eye on the drone feed,” Oceane is operating, Cass next to her paying no attention.
The rest of us scour the place looking for the obvious, computers, video, photos, anything that might be used to blackmail someone.
Nikko, “There’s a video setup in one room, bed, blank walls, lighting stand, the neatest room in the place. A basic selection of restraints, a few toys, some S&M crap. A laptop connected to the video camera and a digital camera for stills.”
“Then let’s find the videos, she must store them someplace, most obvious is on the computer itself, but she’s bound to have them backed up.”
After running the password cracker, Carlson lacks imagination, hotbitch is neither exclusive nor secure, we find three.
Nikko, “Must be more, but we didn’t find any thumb drives or any other externals.”
“She’s got a cloud account with Amazon.”
Amazon doesn’t require anything but a minimum six letter password, guess what she uses?
I type in hotbitch and I’m in, geez.
“Must be thirty or forty videos in there.”
We shuffle through the content, as Oceane predicted, women are twenty five to thirty five, all polished and preserved. Of the ones we skim, half are a woman going down on Carlson, the others are two or three black studs, chiseled, muscular and otherwise well endowed, doing the victim du jour. Typical porn, one fucks, one gets sucked, they rotate around ending up jizzing on her face and in her mouth.
I find two with women in restraints being whipped by Carlson dressed up as a dominatrix. The blood is real. Oh crikey, one video has a woman in a bathtub nude getting pissed on by two guys.
Each vid is labeled with a name, address, phone number and email. In her docs files there’s a list with the same names, including husband’s name and where he works. Lots of MDs, lawyers and business owners.
Janah, “Take the laptop and cameras, change her password. Have Daria search for bank accounts, bitcoin accounts if she can find them, although I doubt there are any. She can take minds, the women would just hand her the money. Skip the bitcoin thing.”
Zi, “It’s not about money anyway, she likes humiliating them, making them pay for their humiliation is just more humiliation.”
“She posted several to xHamster, the ones with the men, the dom stuff was too real even for a porn site.”
Nikko, “Bitch has been busy.”
Janah, “Bitch is coming our way.”
“Sloane, take the girls, Janah, the laptop and cameras and evaporate. If Nikko Zi and I can’t handle one Shadow, we need to do more pushups.”
Sloane, “But mom…”
Nikko, “You got your bite of the pie yesterday, scram. If she comes out of the house alone, it means we’re all dead, Oceane can dart her.”
We make ourselves comfortable, by standing around, sitting anyplace seems unsanitary.
Nikko, “Get to the far bedroom, if she smells Shaolin, it’s just more problematical.”
Zi, “She’s no slouch Nikko.”
“Then qi me up while we wait.”
Zi and I go down the hall, when Carlson comes in maybe we’ll be out of her sensitivity range.
I’ve got my phone on, the tracker has her a block away, then in her parking space. I hear the door open.
“Who the fuck are you?”
“Fat chance, you gonna kill me with a fuckin’ sword, hah!”
Zi and I are channeling qi to Nikko, but it won’t work forever, not against a powerful Shadow.
I’m looking through Nikko’s eyes, it’s a stalemate, Carlson can’t get a strike in, Nikko can’t move her katana. They look like statues.
I nod to Zi, “Stalemate, we need to get in there.”
Zi and I appear, Carlson is shocked and pissed, an interesting combo.
“Two fucking monks, where’s the robes bitches?”
“Dry cleaning, been a long week.”
“Going to get worse now.”
Have to say, she gives it a go, stuff flies across the room, we dodge. She’s busting up her crib, just not us. A metal vase zings toward Nikko, her katana makes it two half vases. I dodge a kitchen knife, Zi a few dirty dishes. We’re closing in.
Carlson did it dumb, she’s spread her energy over too many targets. She makes a fatal mistake.
In her zeal to take at least one Shaolin, she comes for me with a furious burst of qi shots. I dodge most, take a couple. To her credit, they aren’t kiddie licks, but I’m not about to let her know it. I see her final push, a hard flow of pure energy backed by hatred right at my head.
I full split, the wall behind me explodes, there’s a flash of steel, Nikko takes her head.
We’re back at the hotel.
Sloane, “Mom, you got banged up.”
“I’ll live. If I didn’t let Nikko have her shot, she’d have done worse to me when we got home.”
Sloane turns to Nishiko and growls.
“Save it wolf girl, I keep your mother in shape. Besides, she extracts her price, I wind up as battered as she does.”
Sloane licks my cheek, “You need a shower, you taste like cigarette smoke, we all stink of it. Come on Cass, Oceane, time for a hot shower and burn our clothes.”
“Stick them in the garbage bags, we’ll wash them at home. We leave in three hours, no point in hanging here, we can be at the condo before seven.”
Dasha’s in my head, “Do not eat on plane, haf instead cocktail. I haf dinner when you are here. Meatloaf, brown gravy, mashed, creamy corn, garden burger loaf for Janah and Oceane. Also devil cake wiz buhter crim frosting.”
“Thank you my angel, see you in a few,” she drops off.
I replay the menu.
Janah, “Cool, so much to anticipate. I told Blue Sky just wine and a bit of cheese and crackers. Figured we could get pizza at home, Dasha upgraded that significantly.”
We steam shower, double bag nasty work clothes, head for the airport. Blue Sky has us at Teterboro for six fifteen, Amaya has the Tahoe tonight, the Mercedes GLC is a bit tight for eight, a drone and luggage.
Hugs for all, kisses for Dasha, we sit enjoy the simple delicious food.
Amaya, “The work went smoothly enough, except for Daphne’s bruises.”
Janah, “We have experience, Shadows are used to things going their way, being in control. We have skills and techniques to shove their abilities aside, particularly when we surprise them. They don’t improvise well.”
Nikko, “Lack of practice, like you said, they usually control, they are the surpriser, not the surprised. It’s no different than Society work, targets are used to bullying, people are afraid of them. We show up, neither afraid nor unprepared. The advantage is instantly ours.”
Chloe, “I know it was harder in the beginning. I was saved from Shadows, and Daphne, Nikko and Zi had a much tougher time of it then.”
“We were learning. Some Shadows are novices and simple to deal with. The experienced ones are significantly more difficult, we figured out using ourselves as Shaolin to distract, to be sneakier and the drones made the work a lot safer. We aren’t trying to demonstrate bravery under fire, we don’t award medals and ribbons.”
Eloise, “We ordered the parts for the robot, it’s a specialty job, good thing we own a drone factory. It would have been two hundred grand or more for the first prototype and that’s just the exoskeleton.”
Sloane, “What’s an exoskeleton?”
“The part you see, head, body, arms, legs. I have no idea what code that complicated would cost. Chips are the cheapest part.”
“One bot does everything?”
“That’s what we’re shooting for. Daria and Susan scaled back for the first model. Code will have bugs. If we built a complete bot the first go, figuring out where the bugs are would take forever. The first one will do simple clean and dust, later make beds, do laundry. Then we go for clearing dishes, get them in the dishwashers, hand wash pots. Finally to make and serve coffee and tea.”
Amaya, “How long do I have to wait for coffee service?”
Daria, “Depends on other work, travel, time at the office. We cannot work on the bot all day every day. I think two or three years.”
“No problem, we don’t age and I have my Daphne bot to haul coffee.”
Dasha, “Sister will make Eemaya bot to sit around giving orders all day and telling
everyone how peerfect she ees.”
We laugh, Amaya huffs, “Subversive Slav, I may start letting go out in your Slob Slav selections, people will think you are homeless.”
“You will never allow, anyway sisters are used to being compliment by peersons. We say Eemaya makes our dressing.”
Amaya’s turn to laugh, “They likely think you are obsessed with salads. No matter, you attempt to credit me is enough.”
“Now we will haf devil cake wiz buhterry crim frosting, we celebrate two dead Shadow asshole peersons. Pour vodka Eemaya, we will toast Nikko, Dahfoney, Zi, Sloane, Janah, Oceane and Cassandra.”
“Smert' dlya teni!” (death to shadows)
“Smert' dlya teni!”
If you can’t take blunt, don’t have Russian twins.
We wind up having cake over an episode of Wire in the Blood, a 2002 production based on novels by Val McDermid. The protagonist is a brilliant eccentric psychologist that helps cops track down serial killers. Naturally it’s BBC stuff, American TV has difficulty conceptualizing quality.
Amaya, “That was quite good, how many seasons did it run?”
“Six I think. There was supposed to be an American adaptation, but it was announced a year and a half ago, I haven’t heard anymore about it though, probably killed off.”
“I need another vehicle for Chloe. We are done with Ultra Violet and Twice as Dead. For the moment I am bereft of ideas. However, we are due in Tokyo in a month, I have preparation for that to soak up time. We will need bodyguards, perhaps the twins.”
Daria, “We are not able, Arizona, Canada, now the robot, Dasha cannot go unless I do. Call Katya. They cannot have guns in Japan, but they are effective as guards anyway.”
Amaya, “Brilliant. I shall speak to them tomorrow.”
Dasha’s phone dings, it’s Katja.
“Da,” she listens, “da, okay,” she shifts to Russian, they go back and forth for a while, Dasha clicks off.
“All of them want to go, you will haf five bodygirls.”
Amaya, “Splendid, what a coincidence. What did she call about? Or is it any of my business?”
“She wanted us to come to New Orleans, I told them to come here for a few days before you go to Japan.”
Janah, “Hmmm, succulent Ellen, hope we can get to her before Amaya corners her.”
“She’ll have her in Tokyo for a couple of weeks. There’s still twins, Mani and Sarah to play with.”
“True, maybe they should come for more than a few days.”
Clear dishes and plates, girls go off to bedrooms. I see Sloane whispering in Janah’s ear, Janah smiles.
“I’ll be occupied tonight, Sloane has made the most salacious suggestions.”
“Enjoy, maybe I’ll break out a toy and be in your mind.”
Dasha slips her hand between my legs, “Dahfoney, you will come and make sisters feel gud, then we will fuck you wiz strapping on machine.”
Janah giggles while she goes up the steps, Sloane behind her admiring the luscious.
Must have been a mix and match night, Chloe comes to breakfast with Oceane and Cass, when I checked Amaya’s brain she was getting out of the shower with Nikko, Eloise and Zi come from the bedroom she shares with Nikko.
Since we had a fairly sizable dinner, Dasha and I go with scrambled, grits and toast this morning. Business girls need to head to the office, I’ve got a stack of crummy clothes to deal with from our Shadow adventure. Can’t say when the robot helper will be ready, there’s always dusting to be done, sheets to be changed, bathrooms to be shined up.
Next thing I know it’s tea time, where did the day go?
Janah, “We went lunch free today, what’s on the menu tonight?”
“Veg macaroni and cheese, fried chicken for the carnivores, jalapeno cornbread, mixed green starter salad. I haven’t done dessert, we ate most of the cake last night, Sloane finished it off earlier today.”
Dasha, “I am for feexing apple cherry crumble, seemple and everyone likes. We haf Ben and Jerry vanilla to add.”
Janah, “Yay, best restaurant in the city is in my own home.”
Girls circle the low table, we’re having a mini tea ceremony. A cup of thick tea with shortbread cookies, then thin with Chloe on the flute.
We do tea in silence today, after a soothing performance on the flute, Nikko plays shamisen.
We move to discussion time, the spot between the end of tea and the start of cocktails.
Nikko, “Our businesses didn’t disappear while we were away, things are running smoothly. Katya’s property is cranking out a healthy income, they are getting quite wealthy down South.”
Amaya, “You, Daria and Zi spend half the time we’re away on the phone or doing numbers. I would be surprised to find out Murakami Sylk disappeared.”
Nikko shrugs, “We like it, and the managers need to talk to us. They have relative autonomy, but they are good about keeping us informed.”
Zi, “They want Nikko’s input and they know Daria has memorized the flow of cash in and out. She has a question, she’s on the phone.”
Nikko, “We’ve had inquiries about franchising Dasha’s Down Home. If we don’t kill franchisees on fees, they can make a nice income and along with fees we get a percentage of gross sales. What do you think Dasha?”
“I haf no anymore time to check out restaurants. Black does a good job, but he ees one peerson, we are out of town much more now, how will it work?”
“We set up another corporation for franchises, it won’t include the original restaurants. All the recipes are proprietary, the franchises have to follow strict formulas. My suggestions is to hire monks for franchise management. Janah can track down some MBAs, or I can get referrals from our current staff. We start very slowly in the Northeast, New York, Pennsylvania, if it works, Connecticut, then we see.”
Dasha, “Everything ees fresh, how do we ship?”
“We don’t, it’s all local buying. A selling point, nothing frozen, supports local farmers. We don’t do organic now and I’ve no mind to start. Franchisees must live where they have a restaurant, the only out of towners are the people we employ on our end. Your bit is to be the face, Amaya, if she will, can create short ads, maybe you visiting a new location, talking with the local suppliers. It emphasizes that while Down Home is a chain, the local community is important to us.”
Amaya, “I will make her flipping famous. She’s already a film star, better yet, both of them. Two Russian girls jumped neck deep into American culture, southern comfort. One does the numbers, the other created the recipes. How can it fail? I shall work on scripts while we are flying to Japan. Feed me any and all details.”
Nikko, “You have time, we probably won’t have much until you return, but you can conceptualize. We have to set up a new corporation, find and train franchise management. I suggest we ask Black to take over as CEO, at least a long as it takes to get traction.”
Janah, “I’ll get busy tomorrow, Daphne and Dasha will call Black and talk it over.”
I add my bit, “Black would never turn us down, besides, who better to run the thing? He’s been running the four we have for several years now.”
Nikko, “Since Dasha agrees, we’ll call our lawyers and start the filings. We make our attorneys and accountants happy, more billings for them.”
“What are our legal and accounting bills now?”
“Don’t ask. I should probably bring it all inside, but that’s more employees, more space, more insurance. The people we’ve used have been solid citizens and they keep fees reasonable due to our loyalty.”
Daria, “And the accountants are virtually handed our tax filings, they don’t have much to do but sign off. Audits run more than tax filings, but our systems keep the IRS happy.”
Janah, “Nikko can’t stand still.”
“In the genome, steady growth, diversification, like our family.”
“I don’t know where we’d put any more girls, but the diversification of intimate partners we have is fun.”
“Speaking of, did Ocean and Cassie join in last night?”
“Nope, just Sloane, had the fun stick all to myself.”
“I was talking about Sloane.”
The next couple of weeks breeze by, then Katya and her posse fly in. Amaya and I collect them from Teterboro.
Ellen, “Blue Sky is always good, small stretch of bumps but that’s not their fault. Pilot was quick to find a different altitude, it was smooth from then on. I am so wired about going to Japan.”
Amaya, “We appreciate you making yourselves available. I got one extra first class seat on our flight, the other four have a first on United, it gets in an hour later. We have cars to take us to the hotel, the Mandarin Oriental, suites of course. Since there’s an odd number, we have Ellen, Sarah and Ellen together, is that okay?”
Ellen, “Long as I can sneak over to your place.”
Amaya, “We will work something out.”
“Katya, Katja, Ellen, Sarah, Mani, welcome to New York. Light lunch is ready, smoked salmon, caviar and the accessories, chopped egg, onion, capers, lemon slices. Tonight we go to Ultra Violet and pig.”
Sarah, “Cool, hey Sloane, how my fav tannie sex toy?”
“How many trannie sex toys you have?”
“One, but you’d be my favorite if I had others. Oceane, Cassandra, wow, two ethereal dolls,” she slides over for a kiss.
“Let’s get luggage parked. Cass is with Oceane, that’s one room for the twins. Chloe will bunk with Amaya, so her room for two of you, the holdout gets me in Sloane’s room, Sloane will take my spot with Janah. Beds are, however, flexible. If you decide to hook up, sleep where you hook.”
Mani, “Hey Eloise, how’s the genius? Dasha told Katja you’re making robots.”
“First one, the parts just arrived. We start assembly tomorrow. Might have something by the time you return from Japan.”
There’s a burst of Russian near the bar, vodka shots poured, caviar and salmon consumed.
We dawdle away the afternoon with jazz playing low, then tea. I do a full bore tea ceremony while Amaya and Chloe entertain with music and dance. I would have invited Sis, Lacy and Taylor, but they’re in Greece doing Greek stuff and trying to singlehandedly revive the economy. Janah’s parents, James and Kara, went with them.
Ellen, “Wonderful performance, we do tea at home, but no talented geishas to entertain. Gerard says hello by the way and wants to know when you’re coming to New Orleans.”
“Soon, it’s September, you’re in Japan ten days, how about Christmas? Is the weather decent then?”
“Weather is a total mash-up in the winter. Could be chilly, it will rain, but it will always rain in New Orleans. We stay in for New Year’s, too many drunks in a city full of drunks already. Come a few days before Christmas and bail before New Year’s.”
“I know you get out of town for Mardi Gras, we’ll be in Arizona, come out and play. Gun range might have a little snow, but it’s useable, doesn’t snow that often a nd two or three inches when it does..”
Ellen, “Sound good Katya?”
“Sure, we usually go to Houston for Mardi Gras, Arizona is better.”
“Then it’s settled, we’ll firm up dates later.”
Everyone goes off to prep for dinner, we regroup at six thirty, drinker have a drink, we walk to Ultra Violet.
Mariella, “Daphne, Dasha, the whole crew and more crew. Your room is ready, Astrid will take drink orders, Dasha has already planned the menu. Fried veggies will be out shortly, enjoy.”
Dasha has us with seafood gumbo, crawfish bisque, fried catfish, stewed okra and tomatoes, creamed spinach, French bread, followed by choice of banana or bread pudding. Janah and Oceane get a vegetable pot pie along with the other veg dishes.
Janah, “Who created the pot pie, it’s amazing.”
Dasha, “Basic cream sauce, wiz veg broth base. The crust was created by our pastry chef, buttery flakey.”
“Sure is, is this a regular menu item?”
“Tonight ees taste test, we add a tureen free wiz orders, they can rate on the touch screens. If customers like, it will make the menu. You haf entrée size, we may also make appetizer.”
“If they don’t like it, there’s something wrong with them, Oceane agrees with me.”
She’s scraping the final bit and feeding it to Cass, a sure sign of approval, she’d never give Cassie something she didn’t care for.
Ellen, “Can you spare me a bite Janah?”
Ellen takes a forkful, “Oh that’s making the menu at our house, if Dasha will share the recipe. It’s all vegetables, still with a crunch, a light coating of sauce, not a swimming pool, sweet with a bite, the scent of truffles.”
“Da, I will send recipe, sauce ees easy, vegetables grill only slightly. Use any vegetable combination you like. Pastry takes time, maybe an hour start to feenish, knead, wait, let it rise, like that. Better to leaf overnight, then make crust. You know to cook crust first, add warm vegetables and sauce, then lay uncooked pastry over top to feenish een oven.”
“Got it. Throw that down with a nicely charred filet and you’ve got a hell of a meal.”
A mix of banana and bread pudding comes out. Doesn’t matter which one they take, we share bites.
Mani, “Actual banana slices in the pudding, I thought that was a lost ingredient.”
Ellen, “Be like apple pie with only applesauce.”
“None of us are raisin fans, so we get ours without. The menu offers both and the without has a slight lead. Also whiskey sauce or no whiskey sauce. Whiskey sauce is the leader, you’re having the praline sauce version, which is the vanilla sauce version with pecans.”
Amaya, “I need to walk the length of Manhattan, but I shall settle for the five blocks home and a Cognac nightcap.”
Ellen, “Perfect, like you sweetie.”
Amaya grins, one hookup settled.