Chapter One Hundred Six
Six weeks sails by, Chloe is nonstop TV. We rotate bodyguard duty, the twins, Nikko and Zi, I change up with one or the other. All the shows send limos for guests, they want to make sure they show. Then we sit around in a room until a producer comes along for Chloe. After taping, Chloe won’t just race for the limo and bolt. She visits fans waiting around outside the studio, that’s the bodyguard part.
Morning shows are live, late night tapes in the afternoon, around three thirty, and some tape two shows twice a week, three thirty and six p.m. Chloe spends about a half hour afterwards getting photo’d with whoever. We don’t allow crowding, she is between whichever two of us are there, the fan gets her photo with Chloe, it’s usually a girl. Then next up.
This afternoon, I’m standing to her left, Dasha is right, the crowd is orderly, there’s a ragtag line, but that’s how it always is. The girls who want the photo have to either take it Selfie style or have a friend do it, we don’t supply hands for pictures. Our job is to watch other people’s hands, not tie up our own.
Dasha, “Dahfoney, man ees coming, he haf hands folded under coat, sunglasses, brown shirt.”
“I see him, if there’s a problem, you take him, I shield Chloe.”
He’s four people back, then three, then two. He steps forward, hand comes from under jacket, knife, but from the side Dasha can’t see.
“Knife, take him out.”
Dasha steps in between Chloe and Asshole, I pull Chloe to the side away from the knife, take a quick look behind me, don’t want to find out Asshole had a pal, nothing but wall. She’s against it now, I’m in front of her.
Dasha has one hand on his knife wrist, she punches him in the throat with the other, sticks her knee hard between his legs. As he folds over choking, she twists to the side, pulls his elbow over her shoulder and snaps it. The knife clatters to the sidewalk. Phone videos are going like crazy. There is applause, then cops. Amaya has Chloe back inside the studio building, security guards have the door sealed.
Eddie McAllen, “Now what Daphne?”
“Knife attack by the psycho on the ground. Dasha handled it.”
His partner is handcuffing the attacker, despite an elbow that won’t work and must hurt like the devil.
“You gotta make a statement, you can keep it simple.”
I tell him what happened, it takes a little longer than the event itself.
Eddie, “Sorry about this, you and Dasha going to have to come down the station, blah blah, DA, blah blah.”
I laugh, “Officer McAllen, you’re such a boy scout. We’re the one percent, we won’t have to talk to anyone. Besides, he’s going to be a YouTube sensation in about ten minutes. Testimony will be nationwide, Chloe Sylk attacked outside NBC.”
He grins, “Yeah, guess so,” he turns to one of the crowd, “somebody show me the video please. I don’t want your camera, just let me see.”
A teen girl steps up, plays it.
Eddie, “Christ, Dasha demolished the putz.”
Dasha, “He ees to slash Vesnushki, he ees lucky to get off so easy.”
“Just a Russian nickname for Chloe.”
Eddie, “It’s Chloe in Russian?”
Dasha, “Nyet, frayculs.”
Eddie looks at me, I explain, “Vesnushki is Russian for freckles, Chloe has freckles, the twins call her Vesnushki.”
Eddie grins, “Chloe doesn’t mind?”
“Chloe doesn’t mind anything.”
Eddie, “I’ve watched her on the shows, she always seems so nice, and happy. It’s not just a pose for the interview then.”
“Nope, she’s the happiest girl on the planet. Why not? Amaya’s her girlfriend.”
Eddie, “Sheesh, Amaya would make a bulldog break it’s chain. How’s Janah, Nikko, the tribe?”
“Always good, the odd business, like today. Shame we have to do this stuff, but lots of people have it lots worse. You have to dodge people with weapons every day, at least we only have to do it once in a while.”
Eddie, “Cops are getting bad press these days.”
“Then be one of the good guys, protect yourself, but stay clean doing it. Cop gets angry, he screws up and a citizen dies that didn’t need to. Then the rest of you have to take heat for it. Cops should learn meditation. I guarantee you, Dasha’s heart rate stayed level, she wasn’t afraid so she didn’t get pissed. Cops overreact out of fear just like everybody overreacts out of fear.”
Eddie, “You may be on to something, I’ll give it a go, doubt most cops would think meditation would help.”
“You can be an example. When they ask how you stay so calm, then you explain.”
Eddie, “I’ll let you know if it works, anyway, got to go write reports, I know where to find you if we need anything else.”
The crowd has been pushed back while EMTs patched up the perp, he’s hauled off to the criminal ward someplace. Chloe and Amaya come out.
“You up to more photos?”
Chloe, “If the fans want, better not to scamper away like a scared rabbit.”
“Spoken like a kendo master,” which she is, “Hanshi will be proud.”
She stays another half hour, we dismissed the limo, Janah comes along in the Escalade.
“I could see the wrap up, good job protecting Chloe.”
“Thanks, Dasha spotted the guy, suspicious because he had both hands under a jacket. First, guys don’t much do the photo thing, and he didn’t look right, too old for that crowd.”
Amaya, “Dasha is splendid, I did not see a thing until she was breaking his arm. If he had cut Chloe….I do not wish to dwell on it.”
Chloe, “Wonder what he was thinking, why me?”
Janah, “I suspect he will be only too happy to tell his story. Unless he’s simply deranged, he must have known getting away would be a miracle. He wanted notoriety, not escape.”
Chapter One Hundred Seven
YouTube is near overwhelmed with views, it unfortunately included Dasha and me, made the local and national news. They released the name of the man, Drew Draper, nobody anyone knew much about. ‘Loner, quiet type’ say the few neighbors who paid him any attention. Standard sound bite for crazed slashers.
After a few zillion phone calls over three days, Janah and I go to the Village Diner this morning.
Mini and Chuck have retired, we bought the building to insure it remained a diner, we don’t have anything to do with running it. It’s leased at a livable rate to a couple of former inmates Mini recommended, Alfie and Jorge. They have sizable families, Alfie and two sons cook, Jorge and a rotating staff of sons and daughters from both families handle service, dishwashing, cashier. The menu didn’t change, no reason to screw with a clear success. Regulars stayed regular, tourists and visitors found a jewel of affordable all day dining.
Jorge, “Daphne, Janah, having lunch, breakfast?”
“I’m good with coffee and a, let’s see, a doughnut, chocolate glaze if there’s one. Janah would like green tea, eggs over easy, wheat toast, cottage fries.”
He calls the order back, “You did good with the Chloe thing. Sweet girl like that, what’s he got to attack her for?”
“Cops are still chatting with him but the gist is he’s a religious wing nut. Chloe is a lesbian, successful, stars in movies, has a fashion line that teen girls love. He says God told him to punish her for trying to turn young girls into lesbians. Strange, she doesn’t sell flannel shirts, or comfortable shoes, all the models are girly girls. If she’s converting girls, she’s doing a crummy job of it.”
“Asshole. I saw the video. Dasha didn’t miss a beat, smooth, punch kick twist break, bap, bap, bap. Tell Miss Chloe she don’t have to worry about a repeat, he won’t finish his time. He won’t finish his first month.”
“Chloe wouldn’t want anyone to get more time for offing the chump.”
Jorge smiles, “Not to worry, these things get handled by LWB guys, they don’t care about more time, they got all the time in the world.”
He means life without benefit, of parole, men who aren’t getting out of prison, not until they quit breathing anyway.
It won’t do any good to try and call it off, they see it as an obligation. We’ve gotten over a hundred inmates jobs, provided the money to start up a business, they repay us as they can, no interest. The business is theirs, not ours. Monks make regular visits to prison for dharma talks and meditation sessions. For better or worse, we have as many friends in prison as out. Not friends we see, or even know personally, friends all the same.
Alfie comes out of the kitchen, “Muchachas, muchachas chulas, very slick, Dasha is a pieza de trabajo, she must practice a lot.”
“She is a piece of work, and she does practice regularly. She’s got a right cross that could fell a heavyweight, and she’s no softie with her left.”
Alfie, “Wonder the dude can even talk.”
“He couldn’t until yesterday, now it’s kind of sandpaper raw. He had to write out stuff.”
“So he’s cooperating?”
“He’s over cooperating, can’t wait to get his manifesto out in the press. Cops aren’t cooperating, he’ll get some lawyer to post his stuff though. He’s a celebrity to some religious whackos.”
Alfie, “He’s got a few days to heal up, then he’s got a very short time left above ground. Got to cook, see ya soon muchachas.”
Back to the condo, Oceane and Cassie are in the endless pool, Sloane is racing around the roof, leaping the balance beam in front of Dasha doing walkovers. Daria comes out in a leotard, “Eloise and I are making robot.”
“What’s it going to do?”
“We will figure it out later, first make it move, respond to simple command. It will be on wheels, but we will make one that walks in steps, climb stairs. Rolling one will have arm to pick up and carry things, maybe two arms even.”
She walks over to the beam, Dasha hops off and goes to the uneven bars, I catch Sloane as she dashes by, “Spot Dasha.”
She zooms over to the bars. Dasha is pretty talented, but she misses occasionally. There’s a cushiony mat underneath, still better to have an extra set of arms if she flubs the landing.
Cassie and Oceane must be done, I hear the pool shut down, they come over with big towels, drying hair, then lay on recliners to air dry.
Amaya appears, “So this is where everyone is, I see the aliens remain both thought and clothing free.”
“Thought is overrated, all the trouble begins when somebody gets an idea.”
Janah, “Some ideas are good, Oceane nude for instance.”
Amaya, “That’s a lack of idea. But you are both correct. Most ideas are bad and create more problems than they solve. Some ideas are good, like the idea that lunch is coming on us and I see no preparations underway.”
“Cripes, is it noon already?”
“Dasha, what do we have for lunch?”
“Ees already in refrigerating. Cold cut, chizz slice, bean salad wiz fried tofu. I am for showering now, you will set table.”
So it is, sliced roast beef, ham, turkey, provolone and pepper cheeses, salad.
When Dasha reappears Amaya says, “Thank you Dasha. Daphne was selfishly lusting after Oceane, the rest of us can starve for all she cares.”
“Hah! Speaking of, I am writing this afternoon, stay out until tea.”
“Fans are clamoring for another Ultra Violet film. This will be Chloe’s finale for that genre and I am determined to make it even more splendid than the last. Matt Damon has agreed to reprise his role, although he will no longer be with the CIA. We shall have a bit of fun poking inept government agencies.”
“No, no more of that. It’s expensive and the permitting can be a nightmare. It is simpler in China, they love us, but I cannot film in Beijing, too filthy. South America is jam packed with gangs and corrupt police. I will find lots of people for Chloe to kill in the states. I think this one will not be about devious politicians and corporate chicanery. My initial take is someone is after Matt for revenge, the actual plot is still incubating and I must wrestle it out of my brain.”
“You going to use the twins?”
“Of course, they have their own fan base of twisted psychopaths. I have another idea, it will have to wait before I disclose, have not fully made up my mind.”
Nikko and Zi show up, “Home early, the businesses all failed?”
Nikko, “Not yet. We went to show faces and tell everyone what a great job they’re doing. And because of the great work, we don’t have much else to do. Figured it would be more productive to have a kendo session.”
Chloe, “Perfect, you in Daphne?”
“For kata and a match against each of you, then maybe Zi will consent to a bit of sparring. We don’t have to go violent, just a good workout.”
Zi, “Very well, I have a few notes to add to the business reports and email to reply to. Be done by the time you finish kendo.”
That sets up our afternoon, Dasha and Daria will be tired from gymnastics, Oceane and Cassie swam. A lazy afternoon for the four them.
“What’s on your plate Janah?”
“Calls to Society contacts and the temple. I’ll be busy until tea.”
Chapter One Hundred Eight
Chloe is done chatting up the late night talk show hosts and morning shows, the attack likely generated as much buzz as the TV circuit. Rather not have to fend of knife wielding maniacs just to pump box office.
Amaya, “He is a deranged dope, besides his lesbian talk, he assumed the movie pictured people in mental institutions as losers. In fact, our treatment of the patients was most sympathetic and compassionate. Turns out his mother was in such a place, I do not know how she was treated as a patient, in any case she is dead now.”
Chloe, “Is there a way to call off the dogs Janah? I don’t want him dead over a failed knife attack, despite the misguided intentions of inmates who feel protective.”
Janah, “Already done. I called Mini as soon as the rumors started, he visited Ryker’s and said that offing the guy was overkill and that we didn’t think it needed to go that far. Mini told them to blackball him, nobody will talk to him, no interaction, he’ll get crappy food when he gets it at all. No privileges, not so much as a library book. It will be as if he doesn’t exist.”
Chloe, “Good enough then. I know they feel they have to do something. Perhaps I’ll visit the prison and tell movie making stories.”
Amaya, “I think not.”
Janah, “Amaya, it’s actually a good idea. Daphne goes, nobody is going to mess with Chloe, Mini can go along too. He’s not young anymore, but he’s got respect from all quarters.”
Amaya, “You sure Chloe?”
“Yes, we’ll show them the newest flick, they can see it while it’s still in theaters.”
Amaya, “I’ll have a copy sent, guess we better find out what the set up is for showing movies so I can get the correct format.”
“I’ll ask Mini to find out when I call him, he’ll know who to ask.”
Eloise, “Just get the digital file, I can turn it into any other format.”
Amaya, “Will do tomorrow.”
A nice slow evening ensues, then bedtime. A few days of checking Dasha’s restaurants, two visits to the temple for Cassie to park in Tan’s hut and a talk by Janah to the monks on the nature of evil as ignorance. Before we know it, it’s premier day.
Sheesh, the usual gaggle of ‘celebrity’ reporters, Chloe smiles, is charming and complimentary, says nothing controversial, doesn’t provide any gossip garbage for them to turn into headline clickbait.
Then a half hour of fans and selfies, I wonder if there’s a teenage girl in America that doesn’t have a photo with Chloe. Dasha and Daria are alongside her, I’m behind off to the side out of photo view. Amaya is schmoozing a critic, Oceane and Cassie don’t like crowds and are at home with Nikko and Zi and our extended family. Since we have our own copy of the film the moms, Taylor, Lacy, James, Black and Sonia, Chan and Ning are at our place enjoying pizza, lasagna, osso bucco, a massive Italian salad from Marconi’s and Chloe’s movie in comfort without the throngs on the streets.
Amaya’s done it again, turned a script of tired clichés into sharp, snappy, crisp dialogue. At one point funny and sarcastic, then tender and touching, audiences love the emotional roller coaster. This film has action, psychological, not like the more physical Ultra Violets. Chloe is the shrewd psychologist, playing the game of trying to trick information out of an illegally detained patient and feeding bullshit to the agency that contracted her. She uses her kendo training, create or find the suki, the opening when an opponent is vulnerable to attack. She also used it to trick the opponent into thinking he’s found a suki moment where she is vulnerable. He discovers his error too late and she has him cold.
In the end, she’s gotten the innocent man released and the guilty agency dodging Congressional hearings. It’s all business, no love interest, male or female. Lots of discussion of what mental illness really is, and how little we generally either understand or can do about it.
Heading home is an hour long process, Chloe re-mobbed for pictures, the twins watching, I keep an eye on both she and Amaya. Janah and Eloise wait in the SUV and chat with the driver, our long time friend Angelo.
Finally in the car and on the way home
Chloe is re-re-mobbed by the family.
Susan, “That was a great flick, you looked so elegant on screen, we laughed through Dasha’s when she told the crusty old man who kept proposing to her, ‘I am not marry old man who thinks he ees Jesus Christ.’ Then we were sad when he died in the end, and laughing at the same time when his last words were to Dasha, ‘You’ve been a good wife,’ and the camera pans to her rolling her eyes.”
James, “Another triumph Amaya, congratulations.”
“We have to wait out the critics.”
Ning, “Any critic who doesn’t like that movie is one of the Crazy Peersons.”
Parents and extended family take off for home, we have the remaining food, drinkers have drinks, then time for bed. I notice Janah whispering to Sloane, who grins and goes up the steps to her room. Don’t know what she said, I wasn’t in her head, I was being hit on by Eloise for an assignation.
The house is quiet, girls in their rooms, some actually going to sleep. Janah and I refresh in the bathroom, we’re all hygiene freaks, have to be since we never know when one or another girl wants to play.
“Eloise wants to play, want me to go to her room?”
Janah, “No, I’ll pass by and tell her to come here. I have an appointment, expanding my horizons.”
“I thought Sloane looked pleased.”
Janah kisses me, “Here goes something,” she walks out the door, a minute later Eloise comes in, delightfully sans clothing, tiny thing, maybe five two and whip thin. She spends the next while covering every inch of my five ten, with delicious attention to the tingly spot. Then she orders me to lick her ball bearing hard tush, she loves analstim, gets Janah to pleasure it regularly.
Sleep in a near coma, wake up to the mouse snuggled in next to me. Up for necessities, then to the kitchen to crank out coffee and tea. Dasha comes along shortly after.
“What do we do for breakfast?”
“Toast, English muffin, scrahmbulled aig wiz maybe cream chiz, you will grill smoked sausage I get from deli yesterday. Ees fresh, not already cooked kind.”
“Great, I’ll throw in onions, red and yellow peppers, better get to chopping.”
Janah strolls by, I can’t remember if she left our room in nothing, or left her t-shirt in Sloane’s room.
Janah, “Well, I’m not a virgin anymore.”
“How was it?”
“I don’t want a man, but with Sloane, it’s a girl with a built in strap-on. I did the whole porn thing, sucked, she screwed me senseless, then I took it in my mouth again and got the creamy prize. I think Sloane was surprised.”
“And, if it’s not too much information, what did you think?”
Janah giggles mentally, “Suffice it to say I sucked her off again this morning.”
“My daughter is having a fair amount of top shelf sex. Oceane is a dream, then she gets you. Next time I’m going to be in your head, last night I was busy meeting Eloise’s numerous demands.”
“Been there, she’s pint sized, but succulently sensual. I track her down for a tush taste frequently.”
“She got it last night, but she was nice enough to spend a long while all over me first, only seemed right to give her what she likes best.”
“Breakfast up in thirty, tea is ready now.”
Chapter One Hundred Nine
Chloe, “This is wonderful, sausage with grilled onion and peppers. You used to make poorboys like this.”
“Been a while, maybe soon, it’s the same recipe, just not on French bread. Grill the pepper in butter first, add onions later so they don’t get mushy, sprinkling of cane sugar to sweeten, plop it over the sausage halves, add whatever level of spice you like.”
Nikko is sprinkling habanero powder over hers, then adds a pinch of Red Scorpion.
Amaya, “Nikko, I have no idea how you tolerate that scorpion pepper, and now you have the commies dumping molten lava on their food.”
Dasha sprinkles the Trinidad Moruga over her sausage, “Ees gud Eemaya, wake up tasting buds.”
“Immolate taste buds is more like it. You like it how you like it, Daphne, is there Okonomi or Tonkatsu sauce?”
“Forgot to set it out,” I get up to fetch it from the refrigerator. Okonomi is a fruit based sauce, similar in consistency to General Tso. If you add crushed red pepper, sesame and peanut oil to the Okonomi and heat it slowly you get a version of Tso, sweet but not cloyingly sweet, with a bite. Tonkatsu is also a thick dark sauce, sweeter than Okonomi. Overheat and the sugar burns, I know, I’ve done it.
Amaya, “I am almost sorry you discovered it, now I find myself adding one ot the other to almost every meat and vegetable dish. Chloe is addicted, which gives me a thought, if I put it on my succulence, Chloe will be all over me.”
Dasha, “Vesnushki does not haf to be over all of Eemaya, she ees over all of Vesnushki every moment anyway.”
We laugh, including Amaya, who says, “The socialist psycho has a point. Still once in a while I shall offer Vesnushki a treat and Tonkatsu my perfection.”
Nikko, “No family in the known universe has breakfast discussions of sex lubes they apply.”
Amaya, “Most families don’t have sex often enough to bother. Once kids come along, mommy loses interest.”
Cassie, “I came along and nobody lost interest.”
Nikko, “She has a point.”
“Actually, we seem to get worse, or better.”
Amaya, “Enough degeneracy, I need to check reviews, the Times Saturday paper is a joke, it’s just an early edition of the Sunday paper.”
We read all the papers online of course, why people still get pulp is a mystery to us, the stories are the same and you can skip the five bucks and the wads of inserts falling out all over the place.
Amaya reads, “Amaya’s done it again, The Analyst has a razor sharp script, Chloe Sylk owns the screen, and an additional delight, Dasha Kazakova in a new role without her twin, plays the most engaging and funny psychiatric nurse on the planet. She substitutes one patient’s meds with a placebo for a week and takes the drug herself, the outcome is both hysterical and enlightening. Matt Damon shines as the imprisoned patient, he and Chloe have superb screen chemistry, even in this out of character role for him. My main critique, the film wasn’t long enough, the two hours evaporated in what seemed like minutes. I did something I seldom do, hung out and sat through it again.”
Nikko, “Sounds like you have a winner.”
Amaya’s going through websites, “A couple mention Oscar winning performances, best actor, best supporting and screenplay, well, of course, I rewrote most of it.”
Chloe, “I hope you win, as for me, I’ve no idea what to say to a crowd at the awards.”
Amaya, “I shall tell you what to say, you will be the first recipient to be both intelligible, erudite and short.”
“See, it’s easy, she coaches you for television, Oscars are just more television.”
“I haven’t been nominated for anything yet.”
Amaya, “No, and my posturing aside, we don’t care about competing, particularly for a statue. However, should it happen, even a nomination, Chloe Sylk is always appreciative and gracious.”
Chloe smiles, “What would I do without you?”
Amaya, “No worry, you shall never be without me.”
Susan calls, I answer, “Hey Sis.”
“You’ve read the reviews?”
“Amaya read some to us.”
“I found four Oscar mentions from brand name critics.”
“Critics don’t vote.”
“I know that. And I know neither Amaya nor Chloe will make the slightest effort to gin up support.”
“Never happen, Chloe doesn’t really care, she’s been invited to the Oscars five years now and has never attended, probably why she won’t be nominated.”
“I didn’t know that, why not? Sounds right up Amaya’s alley.”
“It does, but Amaya talks more about attention than doing much to get it. Her work speaks for itself. Chloe’s been approached twice for TV pilots and declined, too much exposure and too much grind. A movie gets filmed, it’s done. TV is week after week, if it’s successful, year after year.”
“Isn’t like she needs money.”
“Hardly, she donated her take from the last couple of films to the Sylk Trust and didn’t have to pay income tax. Chloe Couture generates far more cash than she could possibly spend.”
“Isn’t that owned by Murakami Sylk?”
“That’s how Chloe wanted it. Frankly it made sense, we already have a gaggle of accountants and a structure, it’s a separate company, but wholly owned by Murakami Sylk. All our businesses are under that umbrella.”
“Except Amaya’s books.”
“It was separate but we started Amaya Publications in order to keep all the revenue going to her, not split with a publisher. She’s enough of a name not to need a distributor. ”
“Nikko’s a busy girl.”
“She’d go crazy without a full plate, and she depends on Zi and Daria, Sloane has taken an interest in the business side. Janah keeps up with the numbers just to keep her brain occupied.”
“Has Sloane made a decision?”
“About protein markers or the transition?”
“Not transitioning any time soon, she’s having too much fun being the only hard on in the family. Protein markers have begun, she’ll be forever seventeen.”
“I’m glad you talked us into it. We’d all brushed up against or over forty before Miyako discovered your markers, except Taylor, she’s thirty forever. It’s not hard to stay in shape at forty, if I was my years on Earth age, it would be a pain.”
“I live in a houseful of perpetual teenagers, I should be institutionalized by now.”
“They mature, they just don’t age, what’s up with Cassandra?”
“Sloane keeps her active, otherwise she’d watch TV or do nothing. Her nothing is different from our nothing.”
“In what way?”
“Oceane calls Cassie the creator of universes, we don’t know what it means, but it would certainly keep her occupied, universes are big things. Except maybe the quantum universe, but that’s still a lot of teensy things.”
“I used to think Janah was an anomaly, she’s poster child normal compared to the girls who came along later. Gotta go, startup meeting in an hour.”
We click off.
I grab another coffee, lonesome in here, everyone’s off someplace. I’ll think over lunch, we had a fat breakfast, maybe finger sandwiches, everybody likes those. I haven’t done fried cauliflower and mushrooms in a while, tonight’s appetizer. Cassie comes from down the hall, Amaya is with her, “I got Daphne II fixed up, hair nice and shiny silk, goes with silk pants and linen blouse.”
“New platforms too.”
“Not too platform, two inch heel, strap to keep her from flap, flap, flapping down the street. I cannot fathom why women do it, can they not hear themselves being annoying?”
“Don’t get me started on flip flops.”
“Eeeew, nasty things. Anyway, since Cassandra never objects to anything, I figured I could spiff up her wardrobe. Chloe said her aura is its usual brilliant blue, she is fine with it.
“Cass, you look beautiful, thank you Amaya. I have to go to the grocery, come along, I can show my daughter off.”
Cassie puts her hand on Amaya’s neck, pulls her head down and kisses her full on the lips. Not a lingering romantic kiss, a simple gesture of affection.
Amaya, “How sugary sweet,” she kisses Cassie’s forehead and strokes her hair.
“A bit of lip gloss perhaps, you will have shiny hair and lips.”
“You did her nails.”
“And toes,” her shoes cover them up, Amaya swipes gloss over Cassie’s lips, “Chloe said she favors fuschia, at least today, last week it was pink.”
“We’ll be maybe an hour.”
I’m pushing the cart towards the vegetable aisle, half dozen heads of cauliflower, another fifty white mushrooms, four boxes of Panko breadcrumbs. We may have some but I didn’t check. What else, ah, shredded parmesan. Meat counter for Boar’s Head roast beef, chipotle chicken, then two dozen eggs. Good thing Cassie came along, I’m out of hands.
Chapter One Hundred Ten
“Cassie, go find Oceane and tell her to come to lunch, Sloane, round up the others please.”
When they appear, Dasha has stacks of crust free mini sandwiches, roast beef, chicken and egg salad.
She points to piles, “These roast bif haf Okonomi or Tonkatsu sauce, these haf Musashi spicy mayo, cheeken ees already spice so Kewpie mayo, aig salad, salt and pepper cheeps, salt and veeniger cheeps here.”
Janah, “The egg salad is different, very good, what did you do?”
“I found a new method for boiling eggs. Eggs into boiling water, stir gently for a couple minutes to center the yolks. Boil exactly six minutes and forty seconds. Immediately transfer to ice cold water so they will quit cooking. People overcook the bejesus out of eggs. Peel in the icy water. The yolks are like poached eggs, partly liquid, but the whites are cooked. Chop for egg salad, I didn’t change the recipe, just the way I cook the eggs.”
Janah, “Keep the method, what do you think Oceane?”
“Better, creamy. Can you make breakfast eggs the same way?”
“Yes, call it poached in the shell. Bit of work to get them peeled for so many people.”
Nikko takes a half, “We can do it ourselves, wow, that is good, these sandwiches make egg salad gourmet. Take the other half Zi.”
“Next time we’ll make more, I thought I was doing them primarily for Janah and Oceane.”
Janah, “There’s enough to sample, after breakfast I hardly need much for lunch.”
“And we’re having a family favorite for dinner appetizers, friend mushrooms and cauliflower.”
Amaya, “That is it. I am walking all of Greenwich Village after lunch, I should weigh three hundred pounds living here.”
“You don’t biggie your portions, you’ll have a couple of mushrooms and a cauliflower floret.”
Janah, “I’ll have a half dozen of each to compensate.”
Amaya, “You ought to be a whale by now.”
“Janah’s brain chews up calories like a 747 burns fuel.
“Do not encourage the young to gorge. Chloe, put on your floppy hat and big sunglasses, I do not wish to be hounded by a thousand fans on our walk. Five miles ought to do it, then a long shower and rest before tea.”
I lean to Dasha, “I’ll clean up, go with them please.”
“Da, ees better,” she turns to Amaya, “I will take walk also.”
Amaya, “The Chief of Security will not let us out alone Chloe, we are beloved and must be protected.”
Chloe, “It’s not like I can carry my katana on the street, thank you Dasha.”
“Dobro pozhalovat, I can anyway enjoy crazy city. Maybe someone will provoke and I can put him een hospital, make a gud day for Dasha.”
Zi, “May I join in? I might prevent Dasha from actually killing anyone.”
Amaya, “Good idea, okay, suit up, train leaves in five. And no one is allowed to talk to me, I am ruminating on a new book and still have not decided what it is about.”
Oceane, “Your pencil will tell you what to write.”
Amaya, “Oceane, please return to this universe.”
I ask, “Have you tried it?”
“No, I stylishly apply gentle fingers to keyboard, it does not tell me anything, it just clicks. Moonbeam may get messages from her drawing pencils, I get clicks.”
“I’ll do a bit of calligraphy.”
Oceane, “Come to my room, we will make art, Cassie will join us and inspire.”
The four off to tour the Village and surrounds, five miles will take them over to the East Village, down to Grand St., back to Varick and up to 10th. The off kilter rectangle isn’t five miles, more like three and a half, so if she’s really doing five, they’ll have to circle some blocks along the way. A brisk pace is sixteen minutes a mile, but there are intersections. My guess is an hour and a half, maybe two. It’s one now, I gather my brushes, bottle of ink, join Oceane.
Cassie’s cross legged on the bed, staring off into space, paying no attention to us, simply content to be.
While I set up, a circle of pencils floats around Oceane, Cassie is engaged after all. Oceane reaches out a hand, one of the pencils floats to it.
“It wishes me to draw Cassandra.”
We don’t know if Oceane is applying her intention to the pencil or if the thing sends her messages.
“Cassie, put the pencils down, Oceane has the one she needs, they don’t need to be flying around over her head.”
Flying pencils make their way to the box.
I’m drawing Cassandra in kanji カサンドラ it would be pronounced ‘kasandora’ in Japanese.
“Cassie, do you mind if Amaya picks out your clothes?”
“She likes doing it. I am not my body. The man who held me prisoner thought he was controlling me, he was wrong. I don’t mind what happens, none of it happens to me.”
Sheesh, ten and already Nisargadatta.
“You are realized.”
“I am realization, as are you, Janah knows, she joins me in the bliss. You could, you are her, but you have other responsibilities. Chloe is with me, Oceane, the rest believe there is a world with persons in it.”
Janah tunes in, “Ask her why she likes pleasuring herself.”
“You pleasure yourself, use the toy I gave you, does it contradict?”
“The body needs to eat, breathe, process waste. My body does what my brain instructs, I have nothing to do with it. It does no harm in any case.”
Janah, “That answers that. She is what she is.”
A hundred and ten chapters and near a hundred fifty thousand words is enough for now. We’ll see you in XV soon enough.