Chapter Nine VI
Ultimately, there is no absolute safety,
only guts and luck.
We don’t want to fly from LAX or Burbank, too close to Malibu. Yes, LA is a huge place, and we have no reason to think anyone is looking for us, but we take the precaution anyway. We drive to Phoenix in a rental Transportation delivered to the Malibu Inn. It’s a six hour haul, we park the rental in the short term lot, head to the taxi line and take a cab to a Hampton Inn near the airport. It’s a bland night, we eat a delivery pizza, watch TV, wind down from the ugliness.
The early flight is five hours, Janah reads, On Being Certain, by Dr. Robert Burton, a neurologist, which further confirms her observation that people feel far more in control than they ought. Nishiko and I watch a movie and practice mentaling, she’s come along wonderfully.
Nikko, “Master J is usually reluctant to kill outright, this she must have seen differently. I cannot read her thoughts as well as you. Why was this time different?”
“Janah looked into the mess of his brain. Unlike other minds she’s rearranged, this one was badly incoherent. She felt the risk of leaving him alive was too great. Even broke and short a few frontal cortex functions, in other words, making him stupid, like she did with one of the Capos in New Orleans, she did not see a clear way to rid him of his compulsion. Borderline personalities are usually just a pain in the ass, sometimes they even outgrow it, or at least settle down. It’s never ‘cured,’ they just seen to get tired of fighting with everyone.”
Nikko, “This one had other, more treacherous layers.”
“Right. His psychosis could reappear. Psychotics don’t have to be smart. He could have broken at any time, even with her mental adjustment. She’s not going to make the mistake she made with Fourth, that error resulted in a young boy’s skull getting cracked. Black ultimately had to put him down.”
“Didn’t hurt my feelings any. I wouldn’t have bothered with the dragged out confession. Just sliced him until he bled out, the pig.”
“I know. But if it gets around that Sherry had been involved with him, then that Sherry had a relationship with Rose….”
“Ah. His doctored up video confession takes any heat off her.”
“Yes, even though she has an alibi for the time he was murdered, the police might have thought she hired out the killing. Then she’d been seen with us. They don’t know jack about us, but one might presume we had been contracted to take out Pressie. We were pretty visible in Venice, and Jimmy and Jose know we were looking into the thing, and we asked a lot of questions.”
“There’s no body, they will sell his home, his car, his money evaporated. Surveillance removed everything personal from the house, and a cleaning team came in and scrubbed the place.”
“He’s been dumped in the Pacific, not so much as a toenail will wash up. Prescott didn’t have a life, no real friends, just a weekly housekeeper. She’ll be told the house was sold, end of story. Janah doubts there will be so much as a missing persons report filed, nobody to file it.”
We hit New York at three p.m. Our tools are being shipped separately, the TSA has a nasty habit of sneaking through your checked luggage, and it wouldn’t do for them to find steel toe boots, shuriken, four serious knives, one a switchblade.
Janah, “Okay, we’ve done for a while. Mrs. Epstein is exploring new projects, but they can wait until we’ve gotten our lives back into a more orderly chaos. I told her no work for three weeks. That means you two can go to class, or beat hell out of each other for sixteen days, then five days of light stuff before we work again. Got it?”
Next kendo session, Hanshi Murakami takes about an eye blink to notice we hadn’t much chance to practice, “No good. Movement is tentative, and disorganized. Go slowly, you have been working on other matters. You must back up, let your mind go, and your muscle memory be refreshed. First kata, tai chi style. Begin.”
Hanshi is on his game, making the movements in slo-mo, forces the brain to focus. We do it for an hour, then he lets us go half speed, then more kata for half an hour.
“Enough for today. At home, bokken every day.”
It isn’t a request, we bow and leave. Hanshi smiles as he kneels before his altar. His students hadn’t been all that rusty, actually no rust had accumulated at all, only a small hesitancy. He wanted to see if we would be obedient, or ask a lot of fool questions about what we were doing wrong. We passed the test we didn’t know we were taking.
“You don’t think Hanshi is displeased?”
Nikko, “No, he is happy. We were cautious at the start, he used the opportunity to see if we would follow instructions. We did.”
“Master Kim does that. I should have caught on, he gets the student to concentrate by implying there is a technique problem. He wants to see if they follow direction, not make an issue of it. It takes a calm temperament, to see what the Master is pointing towards, and not get in a snit.”
Nikko, “It’s like Chan moving around our Parkour course on the roof. Miyako and I never get a chance to get used to the course, the brain must remain attentive, while the body carries out its instructions, and it has to happen faster than thinking about it, or, slam! Right onto the roof. We can’t afford to think in a channel, or with blinders. Routine is fine for brushing your teeth I suppose. Even then, a change of method avoids setting the mind in concrete.”
“Maybe I should start brushing my teeth left handed.”
Nikko, “Why not?”
Why not indeed.
At the apartment, changed into gi, we go to the Chapman’s gym. It’s empty, Nikko and I spar freestyle. I start by letting Nishiko bang on me. Then I clock her across the jaw with my foot, not the heel, I don’t want to break it, but she gets a nice bloody lip. She licks it and smiles. She front kicks me across the mat, I spin and take her legs out from underneath her, then a sharp jab to the ribs with my other foot on her way down. She gets up slowly, hunched over, I take a step forward because I thought she might have a cracked rib. The snake cracks me instead, with her fist across my jaw, then has the nerve to give me a hell of an elbow strike in the gut.
As I bend into it, hurts like a bitch, I see she is preparing a down strike to my collarbone. I slide back just in time for it to sail by and back fist her on the temple. Lights out.
I gel pack her rib while she’s still unconscious, then my jaw. She comes to in a couple of minutes, we sit silently. Janah walks in.
“Jesus, can either of you stand?”
My gut hurts, but I stand, Nikko has more trouble, “I think I busted a rib.”
Chan picks her up, slowly, carries her cradle-like to the elevator and we wind up on the floor in the apartment.
Janah and Chan work on us for two hours straight, a record. We are frozen, heated, refrozen and reheated. Cuts seal, bruises start to evaporate. Janah isn’t dragging Nikko out for an x-ray, she decides the rib is at most fractured, not broken. She Ace bandages then tapes, Nikko lays on the floor head propped on a pillow.
Ning comes over with soup and a grilled vegetable platter, we have ice cream, watch The Adjustment Bureau, then Nikko and I fall asleep on the mat. Janah covers us with a big blanket and goes to bed. She’s exhausted from so much qi application. The apartment smells of herbs and liniment. I don’t know who dreamed what, I dreamed exactly nothing until eight thirty the next morning.
Janah, “Both of you drink a few gallons of water today. Make sure, then double check there’s no blood in your urine. If everything is clear by noon, we can go for a walk this afternoon. I want those muscles in motion, not freezing up in knots.”
My jaw aches, not too much, Nikko is mobile, Janah unwraps, ices her again, then works her qi magic for a half hour while they drink tea and I fix a light breakfast.
We dress, head to Chinatown.
Janah, “You did well yesterday. A very rough pounding, I’d like to fuss, but I admire the extent you are willing to go to stay sharp, and tough. Most people couldn’t do anything like it.”
“Most people don’t have the mobile nurse and infirmary we have. You and Chan did remarkable work, and our internal qi made the difference in being able to absorb the pain versus tapping out.”
Janah, “And that’s why we’re going to the temple after a visit with Mrs. Fong. Both of you are going to Tan’s hut and sit like stone Buddhas for the rest of the day. Remember, it’s letting go, the energy will come. Do not seek. You can’t grow the skill while using it.”
We’ve made it to Fong’s, “Nishiko is in pain, and Shaolin has a slight swelling on her jaw, they did this to each other.”
Janah, “You haven’t lost your eyesight my friend.”
Mrs. Fong, “Old lady has seen many wounded warriors. Sit, have tea, I know you have business at the temple, but you can take a few minutes,” she calls back to the kitchen, “bring tea, and something good for these girls. Won Ton soup, shrimp, vegetables in garlic sauce.”
She turns to Nikko, “Any you will eat Nishiko, not a piece of snow pea and pot of tea. You must have nourishment.”
Nikko, “Hai, honorable grandmother.”
Chapter Ten VI
Dying people lie too, wish they had worked less,
been nicer, opened an orphanage for kittens.
If you really want to do something, you do it,
you don’t save it for a sound bite.
Nikko is at Mrs. Fong’s office, going over rental details, renewals, new tenant applications. Due to the solvency of our group of owners, Mrs. Fong and the families, the mortgage interest is low. It allows Mrs. Fong to stay just under market for comparable space, keeping the building ninety-five percent occupied. Cash flow is good, maintenance light. Property taxes are high, runs over eleven percent, but that’s the city. She’d achieved the ten percent cap rate early and it stayed that way. After depreciation, the seven percent return earned after the mortgage interest, is tax free. We have the commensurate risk of personal ownership, in return we get significantly higher returns than on any municipal bond. On fifty million dollars worth of building, the partnership splits three and a half million a year. Eventually there would be a major expense, so Nikko keeps a reserve which correlates to the depreciation. You get to take depreciation, but it's a Trojan Horse. Eventually you spend the money on upgrades and repairs, and get a significantly lowered basis on sale of the property. That means more capital gain tax, irrelevant to us, we aren't selling. We’ll eventually pay off the mortgage and keep all of the cash flow. The property will be throwing off cash to family members who aren't born yet. We have first right to buy Mrs. Fong out should she decide to sell her interest, that is legalese. She isn’t selling, and has already arranged to leave us her share of the building in her will. Nikko is also being paid to manage more of Mrs. Fong’s personal properties, she’s getting older and Nikko’s help in taking daily operational problems off her back is worth a lot. Nikko is bumping up on two hundred thousand a year and cheap at that price.
Sis earns two million a year on average, Chris’ book sales and taekwondo classes brings in two hundred thousand, not counting advances, which varies, but she cranks out a book every eight to ten months. Mrs. Walker is negotiating movie rights for one of the novels. She told C-mom it would be no less than half a million, she’d also get royalties on every drop of theater gross, not net, and a percentage of any ancillary sales, including games, toys, DVDs and streaming video or downloads. The producers screamed, Mrs. Walker said they were free to walk if they didn’t care for the terms. Our immediate family’s net worth is near a hundred million, fifty percent of which is liquid, stocks and bonds, the rest is real estate. The building that houses Chris’ school, the condo, Kara’s unsold art she leaks out once a year isn’t counted in that total.
In part, it accumulates because we really don’t spend much. Sis bought the remaining condo in her building, it was converted into additional space for Kara, and offices for Susan and Chris. Now Sis owns the first, second and fourth floor floors, the third belongs to James and Kara. She works from home. So does Chris on her books as do Kara and dad. I call Janah’s father dad, my own disappeared before I was born.
There is no need to build an endowment for Janah’s schools, they’re fat, with money from the temple, and millions we’d ‘recycled’ from the Columbian a couple of years earlier. Chapman’s has a hundred million dollar endowment, a building Lacy owns free and clear, tuitions and donations rolling in. Private schools have tuition, but donations are tax deductible. So the game is simple. Parents pay tuition, but are required to ‘give’ another stipend as a donation. They get a write off, the school gets more money for endowment or capital improvements. Upgraded computers, state of the art facilities, funds to pay adjunct professors for specialty studies.
Money makes money. Now, money works for us, we don’t work for money. I thinks it’s all bizarre and mystical. But it allows me to buy the most interesting weapons, and plenty of time to master them. Nikko started collecting ancient katana, primarily though contacts her dad has in Japan. She stores them with Kara’s collection. Millions in unique art, one kind for sensitivity, another for insensitivity. Kara combined the juxtaposition by painting a work she called Katana. It didn’t look anything like a sword, it looked like the aftermath. Three dimensional death, horrible and beautiful, one of her more incredible, incredible pieces.
She gave it to Nikko and me. We brought it to Nikko’s father. It hangs in his private studio. He meditates on it every day, an honor beyond any honor that could come from a public display.
Kara isn’t sentimental, but she sat in her studio for three days, silent, in appreciation both of the reverence with which the work was received, and
that Nikko and I had, if I may say so, selflessly given it up to the man who had agreed to teach us an incredible art at a level we could learn nowhere else.
We’d only been back two weeks, Nikko and I work on staying sharp, but we include having to deal with Chan, which is a workout unique in itself. He’s like punching the Washington Monument. But it does allow us to become familiar with dealing with an un-dealable element, one that could throw us around like stuffed toys.
Chan tells Janah one afternoon, “Only Master Sylk can actually break past my wall of qi to strike. Her speed is unfathomable. As fast as Nishiko is, I can redirect her arm or leg. When Daphne is on her game, she can make contact, like a neutrino passes through our bodies, her leg or fist passes untouched by my wall.”
Janah, “I didn’t know she could do that. I’m going to have to keep a closer eye on that girl. She cause any pain?”
Chan, “I feel it, but so far, no broken bones.”
Janah thinks it over, “This is fun, I have no idea how it works. Have you thrown her using qi only?’
Chan, “Yes, but I think she’s letting me do it.”
Janah, “That would be her, she wants to know how things feel. I stay out of her mind when she’s practicing, like she stays out of mine when I’m into a problem. I’m going to experiment. I’ll tell Daphne she has to avoid the force of your energy. We’ll see what happens.”
Janah gathers us on the roof , “Daphne, Chan is going to direct his qi, to try and knock you down. You job is to dodge it.”
We set up plywood panels against the balance beam, if there’s an impact, it will register, Chan and I face each other from about twenty paces, like gunfighters.
I can’t resist, “Fill your hand, pilgrim.”
Janah giggles, Chan’s hand comes up and I slide right, the plywood thunks just to my left. Chan has six shots according to Janah’s setup. I follow his eyes, slide right again, another impression to my left, I slide left, back and forth unit he’d tried six times. There are six thunks, I’m unthunked. When I turn to Janah, Chan can’t resist, I feel a shock in my left arm.
Chan, “What would Master Kim say?”
He has me, “Pay attention.”
Chan moves in ten paces, six more dents, I keep my eye on him this time, until he says, “No more cheap shots. You have done well.”
We are arm’s length, that is to say, if I reached out and Chan reached out, our fingers would have touched. He misses four times, by millimeters, gets my side on the third, my chest on the sixth.
Chan shrugs, “Two hits out of eighteen. Good thing you are you, or I’d be embarrassed.”
Janah, “I was in her head, it’s not a guessing game. The statistics bear it out. She’s ‘seeing’ a combination of your eye movements and your hand. If you had on sunglasses, the hit rate would have been higher, but she would have actually not just seen, but ‘heard’ your hand move. Something to remember.”
Nikko, “I want to try.”
Janah looks at Chan, he shrugs a ‘Why not?’
From twenty paces he gets her half the time, from ten eighty percent, for arms length, he nails her six for six. These are not powerful blows, she won’t have anything like a bruise, it’s like being tapped with static electricity.
Janah, “If you come across a Dark One, take their eyes if you can. They will start in with their other senses, hearing, scent, vibration, but it will take a moment, and they will be in pain. Don’t screw around. From sheer speed and reflex, Daphne can get through Chan’s energy wall, and can dodge his attack by paying the kind of attention only she can pay. Not only was she born ultra sensitive, she has been trained by the owl and the eagle. Even then, you saw she can be caught off guard. If there’s an attack by one skilled, you won’t have time to think, kill them.”
Chapter Eleven VI
I don’t care if it rains or freezes
long as I got my plastic Jesus
ridin’ on the dashboard of my car
Goin’ ninety, I ain’t scary
Cause I got the Virgin Mary
Assurin’ me that I won’t go to Hell.
Plastic Jesus, Ed Rush and George Cromarty
This morning, we make another visit to see Mrs. Fong, “Come and pick up dinner tonight. Chan will be hungry, and the children must be fed. There will be food for everyone. A driver will be here to take you home. Too much to carry after a long day.”
Janah kisses her, “You are too good to us, we are most grateful.”
Mrs. Fong turns away, she does not want to show weakness, glistening eyes reveal her, “Go now, work. Don’t sit around restaurant all day being lazy. Nishiko must come tomorrow, there are business matters to discuss, but not today. Come early, nine o’clock. We have things to do, now go. Old lady has many responsibilities, no time for sentimental gossip.”
We bow and leave. The rest of the afternoon spent as planned. Before I go into no mind, I feel Janah head to the herb shop. Nikko's body is next to me, she is elsewhere.
A long day, we’re back at the apartment, the moms and Lacy play Scrabble, Nikko sits with David Li and Miyako watching, of all things, a UFC pay per view.
Janah and I are in the spare room talking to dad.
James, “How’s the brain? I know you were in Santa Monica and Malibu. The moms don’t and haven’t made any connection. The story is local, it didn’t make national news.”
Dad was updated by the Epsteins. His job is to see if any residual conscience or psychological problems linger. The Society has its Social Skills teams, called Social Workers, evaluated regularly. Any sign of stress, or guilt, or unnecessary violence would get them pulled. Killing is acceptable, just not killing for killing’s sake.
James, “So what happened to Prescott?”
Janah, “I worked on him for nearly two days. The tangle of his brain was such that I couldn’t guarantee any amount of rearranging would keep him from continued violence. The choice was to be rid of him, or leave him worse off than dead. I did him a favor.”
James, “How are you with it, not the logic, the thing itself.”
Janah, “The ugly parts are the things I have to do to get them talking. Hallucinations, racing heart, blinding light or absolute darkness. It’s torture. We were kinder at his death. He was out of it, felt nothing. Based on what he did to the girl, I was tempted to drive around Malibu while he had a chat with Nikko.”
James, “Then you did show compassion of a sort. I talked to Joan Wayne, as a professional. Her comment was, ‘His victim was the worst I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen almost everything. I wanted to perform a pre-mortem autopsy on him, a very long autopsy. I could have kept him alive for days. Fortunately for him, he has disappeared, his body, his life on paper, is as if he never existed,’ that told me what I needed to know. ”
“Dad, he was the scum you find under the scum. Nikko doesn’t care about killing, but she follows orders. I don’t have an urge one way or the other, Janah usually tries to avoid it. In this case, Prescott was dead as a human being long before we got to him.”
James, “That’s what I wanted to hear. I’ll report you found a unique circumstance and had no reasonable choice. Frankly, Bernie said I needn’t bother with the debrief. Soon as he heard details, I think he would have done a pre-mortem autopsy himself. It wasn’t a Society job, but you are Society Social Workers, so you understand the need for questions.”
“We don’t mind. It’s good to talk it out. When we take on work outside the Society, we use the same guidelines. Like the warden said in Cool Hand Luke, ‘He wants it, he gets it.’ Context was different but there are similarities.”
James laughs, “When in hell did you stumble on that movie? I don’t think you were born when it was made.”
“It’s a great flick, Nikko loves it. Guy who just won’t play the game.”
Chapter Twelve VI
The likelihood of two events occurring is never more likely than of a single event.
Politicians, futurologists, stock analysts, seek an image of the future that best represents their model of the dynamics of the present.
This leads to detailed scenarios that are internally coherent and even appear more likely than less detailed forecasts which are, in fact, more probable.
As the amount of detail in a scenario increases, its probability can only decrease steadily, while its representativeness and apparent likelihood may increase.
Judgment Under Uncertainty, Kahneman and Tversky
Nikko is on the couch reading The Cabinet of Curiosities, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, I'm across from her with a Reacher novel by Lee Child.
Lee Child is really author Jim Grant. Grant is a British thriller writer. Grant's younger brother, Andrew Grant, uses the pen name Lincoln Child.
Janah found this out easily enough on yahoo answers. Why is it important? I have no idea, except the curiosity that Andrew and Jim Grant seem like perfectly reasonable names to me, so I don’t grasp the point of pennames.
Janah, “Pennames are usually used to either hide an identity, not necessarily to hide, but to separate types of genres the author may use, or to make the writer look gender neutral, sometimes to remain personally anonymous. In the case of your guys, they didn’t make much of an effort to seek anonymity, I guess they had their reasons.”
“My approach is to tell our story with our real names, and use a ghost writer to put it on paper.”
“It’s a bit more convoluted than that. You are a character, like the rest of us. The author is in a dream, like Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass. Everything is upside down.”
“That’s the idea. People believe that they are an independent entity, and they have something called ‘will’ that directs their intention. You have pointed out that will, in the everyday sense, doesn’t exist. Things happen and we react to what happens based on our brain seeing a pattern it recognizes or is confused by one it doesn’t. In that case, it imposes an order that may or may not be real. Somewhere in there, the prefrontal cortex evolved with a sense of self, a doer, which does nothing but what the brain instructs it to do, based on conditioning and memory.”
“So, you are saying that, for all anyone really knows, the author of our story is merely repeating what you tell him, even though you appear as a character in a book.”
“Yes, in reality, I’m the author of our story, he just types what I tell him.”
Nikko, “Can I have some quiet? I’m trying to follow a plotline.”
“Sheesh, some people have no appreciation for the exquisite intricacy of my thought.”
“Daphinity is based on superficiality.”
“Yes, but deep, intricate superficiality.”
Nikko, “Kindly be silently superficial.”
“I haven’t said a word aloud.”
“Mental blabber is still blabber.”
“How come when I read, you don’t confuse what you’re reading with what I’m reading?”
Nikko, “If I go into your mind, I can. If I stay out, it doesn’t interfere.”
“Then why not tune us out when we mental?”
“I don’t know. Probably because it’s you speaking, even though silently. When you’re reading, it isn’t you speaking.”
Janah, “I’m going to have to think this over.”
“Then do it by yourself. You start in with Daphne, it spills over into my brain.”
“That doesn’t make sense.”
“Making sense is thought, and thought is fragmented, technically nothing makes sense since it’s all incomplete.”
Janah, “She’s got you there.”
“Got me where?”
“Dangling like a puppet between sense and nonsense.”
“I’m like Alice, ‘If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what it is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?’”
Nikko and I return to our books, Janah up to the meditation loft to do who knows what. I could follow along in her head, but I’m at the part where Reacher is getting ready to take a couple of guys apart, the stuff I like. He tends to do a lot of thinking, which can go on for pages. Normally that bores me, but some of it is for plot development, so, whatcha gonna do? Janah could read the book flipping the pages, then recite the dialogue on page fifty-six word for word. Creepy. I can do it if I use her brain, but there’s more to reading a book than collecting information. Pacing is part of the enjoyment.
Nikko’s book is about New York, a hundred year old serial killer and a spooky, very smart FBI Special Agent. He’s like Janah in some ways. Rich, full of arcane details, sophisticated. Janah can be sophisticated when she chooses. She doesn’t choose it very often, it's a short step from deft, charming sophistication to ponderous, obnoxious pretension. We are our own Cabinet of Curiosities.
After reading about fictional fighting, Nikko and I have the same thought, and fifteen minutes later, we are whacking at each other with bokken.
Just as Janah comes down from the loft, the phone rings. This time it isn’t Mrs. Epstein, it’s Mo, the Mayor’s bodyguard.
“A friend would appreciate the courtesy of you meeting with me at the office in your building.”
“Your time is his time.”
“Then an hour.”
The phone clicks off.
Janah, “Get up, showered, dressed and you have half an hour to do it.”
Janah calls Chan, “I need you invisible in the parking lot of our office. If anyone follows our visitor and his friend, who will come in the usual entrance, keep them on ice until we’re done. If no one shows, good. Hit the light either way.”
The phone clicks off again. The ‘light’ is a switch buried in the wall of the parking lot under the building. Four of us know where it is, and three will be in the office that doesn’t exist, Chan is the fourth. If the light stays green in the office, everything is clear. If the light goes red, we stay in the office until the green light comes on, or five minutes passes. If it’s on after five minutes, Nikko or I go through another exit to uncover the difficulty.
We arrive ten minutes early, no mean feat to go from beat up to beautiful in thirty minutes.
“You always get the easy part.”
Janah giggles, “Why do you think I have you two? Do I look like I want to be bruised and battered?”
On the minute, Mo knocks three times, then a single knock. The green light remains on, Janah opens the door.
Janah, “Afternoon, Mo. Tea, coffee, soft drink, water, something stronger?”
Mo bows, “Coffee, please.”
There are three chairs and a small couch, Janah takes a chair as does Mo, Nikko and I the couch. A small table in the middle for cups, no food, this isn’t a social call.
Janah, “May I save you some explanation?”
Mo opens his mouth, realizes, shuts it and nods.
Janah, “There’s an event coming up, big new building on the East side, near Harlem River Drive. Ribbon cutting, speech, tour of the building. Part office, part luxury condo. There’s a gala on the rooftop. You have reason to believe somebody’s going to crash the party. As in crash, boom, bang. Changing the date doesn’t help, the owner wants to get his tenants moved in and start collecting rent, besides, whoever is trying to create chaos can just wait out the new date. You need people around the Mayor who look like people who might hang out with the Mayor and the wealthy attendees, many of whom have put down significant cash to buy a condo or rent commercial space. How am I doing?”
Mo, “Too well. I mean the event is no secret, it’s been announced for a couple of months. The other stuff.”
Janah, “Well, you can relax on one point, it isn’t us. We don’t blow up innocent people, even if they’re rich. We’d have to blow ourselves up. That won’t work for us, we don’t strap on bombs, and as enticing as seventy-two virgins might be, I hope I don’t look that stupid.”
Mo almost grins, “I don’t know who your sources are, you aren’t going to tell me.”
Janah, “On this, my source is me. New York’s big bucks list, politicians, bunch of A players. I’m also well aware of the fact that a few zillion plainclothes, feds and even some non-uniform military will be stationed around the site. There will be helicopters, and satellites, even a drone. There will be men on every floor, covering all the entrances and exits, everyone will walk through a metal detector. I hope you have a lot of them, there’ll be enough jewelry to empty Harry Winston.”
Mo, “Maybe you should get an invitation.”
Janah, “Already got one. Our attorney did the legal work.”
Mo shakes his head, “Mayor’s gonna love this story, he already thinks you walk on water. You’ve already figured out when and why, the question is, how?”
Janah, “I don’t know…yet.”
Mo, “This thing is in two weeks. We call it off and word gets around why, I got a severely pissed off developer, a friend of City Hall, and angry tenants, likely to vacate their leases and sue on top of it. Lots of people have already sold condos, or started packing up their businesses, let their current leases lapse. It’s a no win, in a city that stays on edge already.”
“I presume it’s occurred to you that the people behind it could just wait until everyone moved in, then done the deed. Just as much, perhaps more, death and destruction.”
Mo, “I wondered. It almost seems more logical.”
Janah, “But the Mayor and a bunch of politicians wouldn’t be dead.”
Mo, “That occurred to me.”
Janah, “It appears we’ve stumbled into a motive. The extra dead are primarily collateral damage. If the Mayor and the politicos back off, some fabricated excuse, but the building still goes, the conclusion is obvious, and not good.”
Mo, “It does unfixable damage. The press would have a field day speculating as to why the politicians suddenly decided they needed to prepare their reelection campaigns all on the same night.”
Janah, “Lovely. A win-win for the bad guys, a lose-lose for everyone else.”
Mo, “Will you come?”
Janah, “Wouldn’t miss it.”
Mo, “What do you need?”
Janah, “Unlimited access to the building starting tomorrow. Inspector for the insurance company, or some vague city department. Just inform the Mayor, I’ll handle getting the credentials. His name won’t come up.”
Mo is silent, then, “I’m not gonna ask.”
Janah, “Got no answer I can give.”
Mo finishes his coffee, “Thank you. For now, I’ll tell the Mayor you’re looking into it, and that you and your girls will be at the opening.”
Janah, “There’ll be another, maybe two. Men, one that resembles you, one that would block you view of the Statue of Liberty if he stood in front of you in Battery Park.”
Mo, “That big?”