Thirteen

We decide that take out chicken sounds appealing. Zoe C and Elle shag the fried from Popeye’s along with coleslaw. When they return, I drain the excess mayo through a strainer until I guesstimate half of it is down the drain. Then into the refrigerator to chill. Tepid coleslaw is a national tragedy. 
Cocktails while I arrange the chicken on a baking pan and slip it in the oven to keep it warm. Just before we serve, I’ll turn on the broiler and crisp the skin, a job that requires careful attention, blackened fried chicken sounds terrible.
The kids are somewhere wandering the property with the dogs, I think Burma went along this time, she didn’t pounce on me from her cat tree when I passed.
We’re milking the close of a perfect day on the patio, ice old vodka in hand. I’m an on the rocks with an olive, so is Natalie. Elle and Zoe C add Trader Joe’s hundred percent cranberry juice, it gives the cocktail a tart bite like real cranberries, not the sweet stuff made from concentrate.
Elle, “How did we luck out with such amazing kids?”
Zoe C, “In McKenzie’s case, she wasn’t wanted because her parents thought autism was some sort of imperfection. Mickey had a similar parental difficulty, she is transgender. Her mother, a druggie, couldn’t cope and a gang was sniffing around looking to use the child to make money, the ugly way.”
“And Zak came along, from an aunt of yours. She took in a six year old boy, blind from birth. His birth parents gave him up for adoption, they couldn’t cope. The soon to be adoptive parents were killed in a plane crash, private plane. You brought the boy home. Those people never knew what they missed.”
“I wonder, would the children be who they are if they weren’t together? And here they have a near unrestricted life, we don’t make them pursue anything, but they teach each other or learn on their own.”
Elle, “That’s it! You and Chef made this happen, or made it possible, then Natalie and things fell into place. I don’t care if it was intention or coincidence, I am so grateful to be part of it.”
Natalie, “Have to adore Elle, she’s the happiest person on the planet, she wakes up with a smile and keeps it lit until she goes to bed.”
“Zoe C and Natalie make me smile, sometimes both at once.”
I laugh, Elle is a gorgeous trip, good to Zoe C who adores her and that admiration is equally reciprocated. 
The kids come along, stop to rinse off the dusty dogs, Burma leaps into the pool, swims from one side to the other and climbs out. Mickey rinses her under the shower so the chlorine washes out. I know, cats allegedly don’t like water. They forgot to tell Burma. Actually, several breeds of cat like water, the Burmese is one of them.
Zackary comes over, “Whoever was fooling around the fence hasn’t returned, the dogs sniffed around but there was nothing new and the ground wasn’t disturbed.”
“I still want the spots, when are they coming Zoe C?”
“Tomorrow actually. I’m having them direct the beams to the fence, not the house. We can see both sides of course, but they won’t light up the property so as to attract attention from the highway.”
“Good enough. Kids, you’ll need to stay inside while the lighting people are here, we don’t know them. Stay out of the pool, wear clothes, walk the dogs wherever the installers aren’t, up the mountain when they’re down and vice versa, got it?”
They don’t need to be leashed, neither the Dane or the Mastiff would run over to investigate the workers and leave the kids unguarded. 
I’d prefer we never have outsiders on the property but that’s not always possible. Zoe C will have checked them inside and out. We live in a mega mansion on a mountain in Malibu. While we aren’t art collectors, and nobody cares much about jewelry, certainly not expensive stuff, outsiders don’t know that. They assume a house like ours is full of high art, sculptures other crapola we’d never buy. I doubt burglars would haul off McKenzie’s extensive collection of Cruset cookware, or her Kyocera ceramic and Viking kitchen knives. I suppose they might go for my Bentley or Zoe’s NSX, but they’re in a locked garage with their own alarm systems.
We have safes for guns and cash, hidden room behind my walk in closet that takes a code to open, then the combination to open the safe in the unlikely event they find the room.
Still, remaining vigilant is required, we don’t care about stuff, the girls and the kids are what matters. Yeah, I know, I drive a two hundred grand car, Zoe C has an NSX and Nat drives an Acura RLX, I suppose we care about some stuff.
McKenzie is playing chess with Zackary, Mickey is doing laps. She’s guarded by Zelda and Cilia sitting halfway in the water on the pool steps. Crazy Burma back and forth on the deck, following as Mickey motors back and forth.
Elle, “Burma is something, the most sociable critter I’ve ever seen, particularly for a cat.”
“She likes her family, and you’re right, she’s quite the little show off. McKenzie says everything springs from one source, there’s no difference in Reality between our animals and us.”
“Should I leap on your shoulders from the top of the cat tree?”
“I can think of worse things and few better ones.”
Zoe C, “The workers are here, waiting at the gate.”
“Get Mickey out of the pool, I’ll go over and talk to them.”
I’m back in thirty, “You gave them clear instructions. Each light is individually solar powered with adjustable motion sensitivity. And they’ll be placed inside the second fence. I suppose someone could shoot out a light but they can’t reach it to grab or bash with anything. Since they don’t come on unless there’s a detectable motion, the whole yard won’t be lit up, so we’re fairly invisible from the highway.”
Zoe C, “Except for the doorways which are lit at night, the exterior house lights come on if there’s an intruder in the yard. They light up the patch where the motion was detected. If he moves to the dark, another light comes on. We can follow on the video screens, an intruder can’t get away unless he manages to clear the fence before Zelda or Cilia are on him.”
“Tell the kids to stay inside except when they need to let the dogs out, then remind them to use the side opposite where the workers are. I think it’s optimistic to think they’ll be done today, there’s a lot of fence.”
Natalie comes along, “Zak’s playing chess against the Master? She’s already crazy good and he’s blind.”
“How’s he doing?”
“Well, to be accurate, she coaches him a little, his chessboard memory is getting better though. It’s not really a competition, Mac is helping him expand his data storage capacity, she remembers everything automatically, Zak has to make an effort.”
“He get frustrated?”
“Zak? You know better than that, he’s the kid version of Elle, always a smile.”
Time to check the website, there’s a message from Chief Deputy.
‘Unclear on how it went down, not asking you to tell me. Just happy the puke was put out of service. The woman left alive was hospitalized for a couple of days, she remembers nothing. Interesting hole in the suspect’s hand, and the coroner says his brain appeared to be electrocuted from the inside. How’s that happen? You aren’t going to say, understood. The coroner called it an aggressive stroke, we left it at that. We never figured out what all the clocks were for, something you may not know either, but I suspect otherwise. One more thing I don’t need to know.’
I reply out of courtesy, just don’t tell him anything, ‘Glad it’s over and glad one victim walked away, clearly better that she has no memory of the event. We have had some contact with others who apparently can grab a victim’s attention and get in their heads. Never understood how they do it, some form of hypnosis maybe, perhaps how your suspect pulled it off. Regret the victims that disappeared before we got involved, sad for the families. Thanks for your assistance with the media, we can’t work with reporters pointing cams and microphones.’
I send, close the site. People will come up with explanations that suit the circumstances, believe they know what happened and why. It’s a human foible, the need to construct reasons even when there aren’t any.

Fourteen

Fence lighting is complete. The boss told me he’s seen a few fence fortresses, it is SoCal, there are rich and famous people. Often the public thinks they have a right to nose around as if buying a ticket to a movie makes them pals with the star. He said ours was one of the better designs, although he wondered about the inside fence with the curving rails. I told him we had a free range cat and we didn’t want outside critters in or the cat out. 
It’s about tea time, I go to the kitchen and start prep, not sure where Mac is, the stock market closed three hours ago. 
Zoe C comes along, “The lights look good, inconspicuous at least in the daytime.”
“You hired good people. What’s doing?”
“I was reading, Natalie made an obscene suggestion to Elle, they went up two hours ago giggling like eighth graders. Maybe they just swapped makeup secrets.”
I laugh, “Natalie is as smitten with her as you are, Elle is a force of nature, particularly when she’s au natural.” 
“Admire your restraint, most men would have taken a shot by now, even though she’s a lez.”
“Nope, if Elle wants to try the opposite sex, she’ll have to say so, at least to me. Not going to start harassing my friends, our put together family. She loves showing it off, even to me, but I never got a vibe for anything else.”
Zoe C grins, “Elle’s more free form than you think.”
“Like I said, if I make a move, she might feel…obliged, I don’t want that.”
“You always think of us first, Elle’s right, we stumbled into a perfect place to have a family and pursue our interests. Which completes the circle, our interests are this family.”
Mickey comes racing up, “Make a note, flipping Zackary beat me at chess, a first. We never bet McKenzie.”
“Mac has unique skills sweet, God can’t beat Mac at chess.”
And along comes the freckled wonder, “Steaks in the refrigerator, Chef will make spinach and baked, McKenzie will grill.”
Zoe C, “Yum, big meal, light appetizers?”
“Caviar, toasted rounds, baguettes in the bread box.”
“Should have figured, she sent me to the bakery for baguettes. I also got a devil’s food cake with white frosting.”
Mickey, “Yay! Another good night coming.”
Zackary, “Dogs are fed, can we go up the mountain?”
“Sure, workers are gone.”
“Come on Zelda, Cilia, let’s get moving.”
Mickey goes with, Burma scoots in behind. Our animals love the space, a zillion acres of rock, trees and shrubbery. No grass, it’s a mountain, not a prairie.
Nat and Elle appear, they look relaxed.
Natalie, “Black tea please, Elle?”
“Green.”
I set them up, today’s tea is on the fly, normally we sit together and chat, the lighting installation forced a bit of routine alteration. It’s after five, closing in on quarter to six.
Nat, “What’s dinner? You’re cutting baguettes into rounds, I suspect caviar.”
“And sour cream, then steak and baked, fried cauliflower and mushrooms. Zoe C snagged a devil’s food cake while she was at Louisa’s.”
“Zoe C is a genius…and hot.”
Zoe C smiles, kisses her, “Thank you.”
Mickey comes running in, she’s holding her head, a bit of blood trickles down her cheek. She’s not crying, but she’s close.
Zoe C envelops her, “Did you fall? What happened, where are the others?”
I bring a warm wet towel, hand it to Zoe C, she gently cleans the area, a big welt and a cut. I’m smelling a problem, and it stinks.
Zak races in, “Kids with slingshots, they could have killed Mickey, is she okay?”
He’s so pissed he’s shaking.
“Yes, where’s the dogs?”
McKenzie races out the door and disappears.
“Fuck,” turn to Zoe C, “get her iced up,” I hustle behind McKenzie.
She goes for the gate, Zelda and Cilia come alongside. Mac enters the code and opens the gate, the dogs speed past, don’t recall either one moving so quickly. 
Two teen boys, they’re laughing, one shooting rocks across the fence at nothing.
They aren’t young teen, more like eighteen. One sees Cilia bounding down the hill.
“Crack that fucking monster in the face,” he yells.
Mac says in Japanese, “Sutoppu!”
Both dogs stop on a dime.
Teen One, “I can still hit that damn mutt from here, keep ‘em quiet or they get what that girl got,” they laugh.
Fucks must be high, a Mastiff, a Great Dane, and a six four man bearing down on them.
When I get close enough to scare them, they go for stupid, “Back off fucker, I got more than a slingshot.”
Teen Two has his slingshot loaded, pulled back and pointing at me, Teen One pulls a knife, little pussy flick knife but it can still cut.
McKenzie comes alongside me, then we walk together to the boys. Teen Two pulls the sling back farther, I keep moving.
“I warned you dumbass,” he lets the rock fly.
Mac waves her hand and the rock disintegrates in the air. The two idiots don’t get it.
“Must have been cracked, no prob, I got another.”
In the excitement, they don’t notice that the dogs have them surrounded, McKenzie says, “Kyapuchā,” the dogs are on them, lucky for the morons Mac said capture not kill.
Cilia has Teen One by the arm, his knife is in his other hand, he raises it to stab her, I hit him so hard he staggers back and bounces off the hood of his pickup truck. I take the knife, break the blade and stick the pieces in my pocket.
Teen Two is on the ground crying, “Get the dog, get the dog, it’s gonna kill me.”
I take his slingshot and break it smack in the middle of the U. I’m miles from just irritated, little Mickey, sugar sweet, not a mean bone in her body. If the thing had been made of steel I still could have snapped it.
I pick him up by the hair, conveniently long and shaggy. The heel of my hand removes half of his front teeth, then my knee turns his nuts into penis butter. I leave him on the ground puking.
Teen One is on his back trying to get up but Cilia has both paws on his emaciated chest and her snout so close to his eyes I doubt he can see anything else. She’s growling, low and ominous.
Mac is next to Cilia, she’s a blank, she’s always a blank, if she’s mad, not even God could tell. Well, until she swipes his cheeks with her finger, a cut straight across from one ear to another. Not enough to kill, enough to leave a scar, his screech rattles my eardrums.
McKenzie turns her attention to Teen Two, the one who hit Mickey with a rock. His fresh cut runs from his forehead, down his nose, across his lips to his chin. 
I pick up One with one hand, Two with the other, “Get lost before I change my mind and toss you both in the ocean five miles out. Bleeding like that, sure to meet hungry sharks. I have your IDs, photo of the truck and the license plate. Show up again, things will be much worse. If cops show up, you tried to kill one of my children, I took exception, particularly when you threatened me and another of my kids on my property.”
Two can’t talk, One says, mumbles actually, “My license…” he holds out his hand.
“Fuck off, maybe I’ll mail it to you. Give me your phones.”
He starts to object, Zelda raises up, thumps her paws on his chest, snaps at his bloody face. 
“I said phones.”
Couple of expensive androids, this will be fun, I toss them on the dirt, my number fourteen heel turns them into dust. The boys decide to shut up.
“Get in the truck and disappear.”
They shuffle to the doors, Two is still sniffling, small cuts on the face bleed a lot, they won’t die from them. One is going to need a mouthful of orthodontics.
Close the gate, back to the house, I recap for the others while I peek under the gel pack. Mickey has a purple knot near her temple that Zoe C has iced to reduce swelling.
McKenzie takes a look, she sits next to Mickey, pushes the gel pack off and lays her hand on the knot.
A few minutes later she removes her hand, no knot, just a mild pink circle. She strokes it with her fingertips, we watch even that disappear.
Zoe C, “Geez, does it still hurt Mickey?”
Mickey taps it gingerly, then presses her finger on the now nothing spot, “All better, thank you McKenzie.”
“Qi.”
Mickey giggles, “You are a miracle.”
“Not a miracle, Qi,” her serious demeanor never changes, “McKenzie is tired now,” she gets up and goes to her room, Zelda right behind her.
Zoe C, “Stand up slowly Mick, just in case you get dizzy.”
She eases up to a sitting position, “So far so good,” she stands, rolls her neck around, “McKenzie is amazing, I have to check on her now, the Qi thing tires her.”
Up the steps. When she doesn’t come down in ten, Zoe C goes up, then she comes down again.
“She has Mac wrapped up, they’re both asleep.”

Fifteen

Elle shares dinner duties, I’ll grill the steaks after a large vodka, my anger slowly ebbs.
Zoe C, “You wanted to whack them both.”
“I sure did, I’ll bet she approached them, waved or something, smiled for sure.”
Zak, “That’s exactly what she did, I mean, I didn’t see the smile, but I felt it. What was the point, she’s a little girl?”
“Some people are evil and full of pain. They lash out at the first available target, like people in the news, the ones who torture their children out of hate or a massively misguided sense of parental discipline, which is just another kid of hate.”
Zak, “I’ve been on the wrong side of that, so has Mickey.”
My heart trembles. Here, they know only caring and compassion, nothing like their former lives. Yes, we do violent things, but only to violent people. If the philosophical dissonance doesn’t suit some people, too fucking bad.
Mickey and McKenzie show just as we’re serving, I make them plates, we eat in silence. Burma climbs on Mickey, paws around her neck, Natalie weeps.
Mickey, “It was scary Natalie, but it’s okay now, McKenzie and Zoe C fixed me right up.”
Natalie, “I’m so glad you guys do your education here, not in public school, or even a toney private thing. McKenzie can’t go, she’s not suited to a classroom. Zak can’t see, except glimpses through Mickey’s eyes, which would be bizarre in school.”
Zackary, “And Mickey has the whole trans bathroom thing, even in California. We don’t want school, don’t need it, learning what we want to learn is a lot better. Besides, where am I going to get better friends than the ones I have here, including Cilia, Zelda and the crazy cat.”
Nobody answers because he’s right, and we have zero intention of shipping our kids off to the mess of so called education, to schools that resemble prisons.
Crisis passed, the mood lightens, Mac picks a show, another episode of The Dog, a Russian series starring a German Shepherd and a cast off cop whose specialty is getting beat up. I find it acceptable, hardly TV perfection, but watchable. Our dogs love it, for the show they sit upright and stare at the screen, heads flop left and right, an occasional groan out of Zelda, Cilia doesn’t comment.
After the show we take a cake break, refresh cocktails and resettle to watch The Fall on Netflix. The kids love it, the bad guy serial killer is well played by I forget who, but he does creepy like he was born creepy. The lead, Gillian Anderson, looks one step shy of losing it, but she presses on trying to nail the nasty.
Time for sleep, quite enough excitement for the day, maybe several days, maybe forever. You can’t know how you’ll react to something so obnoxious and unnecessary. McKenzie and I may get the Noble Peace Prize for restraint.
I’m in the office after breakfast, Mac is here following her Bloomberg, I hear keyboard clicks occasionally, don’t interrupt her focus with questions. 
Our website has a query, ‘Whoever this is, if you’re for real I have a problem and no one will listen. My son is always angry, expelled from his high school for threatening behavior. He has issues with a couple of other kids, claims he was bullied but I question that, sounded to me more like teenage posturing. He had a casual girlfriend, but she dumped him, said he was getting weird. He has guns, or access to them, his father’s. His sole entertainment is going off to shoot, his dad thinks that’s just great. Am I the only one who can see where this is headed?’
I reply, ‘We are for real, and it sounds like you have a legitimate concern. Send details, names, your address, if your son drives, what car and license plate. Name of his (former) school and any classmates you know that may be friends of his.’
No immediate reply, but the message was sent late last night, it could be a while.
Zoe C, “We going to beat up an angry teen?”
“Mac and I beat up two yesterday.”
“There’s a point. Message sent late last night, you don’t take the phone to bed do you?”
My phone dings when we get a message on the site, “No, I can save the world and end human suffering better after a good sleep.”
“Sounds sensible. Since we have to wait on her reply, how about a session of Krav?”
At our gym, Elle is already making the circuit of the weight machine, one of the single unit bits with all the options. She works it, sweaty and breathing hard.
She smiles, always, “Come to watch me torture myself?”
“To torture each other.”
Zoe C leaps on my back and strangles me, the fun begins.
We go hard for a half hour, Krav is about technique, do the moves over and over until you can do them backwards and upside down. Of course, none of these exact attack-response moves will occur on the street, but they’ll be close enough, there are only so many ways to punch, kick or choke. Essentially Krav is about exploiting opportunities, an arm extended too long, break the elbow, throat exposed, drive knuckles into it, crack a knee, stay doggedly relentless until the opponent is down and out. 
We can’t do any of that for real, but we can approximate. Then the throws and falls, learning to land without injury. When it’s automatic, we don’t have to think, brains and muscle memor will take care of business.
Zoe C gets airlifted and thunks to the mat, she lays back, “I think you’ve had enough Chef.”
Mickey and Zak came in earlier and watched, Zak through Mickey’s eyes.
Zackary, “Our turn.”
I’d taught them a few Krav techniques, they’re little kids and no match for a grownup in a straight on fight. They do, however, know the vitals, balls, throat, eyes. If the assailant loses an eye, even if it’s a kid that stuck a finger in it, he’s not continuing, he’s done. Throat and nuts buy time to run away, there is no loss in leaving the scene, that’s pointless macho crap.
Zak, for a blind kid, is uncanny. Their sparring looks like two sighted opponents going at it. Mickey is two years older than Zak, and she’s transgender, she has more muscle than most girls her age. Zak holds his own, even two years younger he’s as tall as Mickey, he’s going to be like me, I’m six four, he may surpass me in a few years.
Zoe C and Elle are sitting next to me, Zoe C says, “Zak’s progress is near miraculous, he’s flipping blind, I couldn’t make it across the room blind.”
“One advantage is he’s blind from birth, it’s the only view of the world he’s ever had. But it’s more than that, he’s determined. He wants to be an integral part of this family, do what we do yes, but more, to add, not be constantly looked after.”
Zoe C, “Come on Elle, we need a shower. Any idea what’s lunch Chef?”
“Good question, I haven’t seen McKenzie since I left the office, maybe she’s on it.”
I get up to see, Mac is stirring something, “That lunch or dinner?”
“Lunch, black bean soup with grilled ham and cornbread.”
“Perfect, I’m getting a shower, be down in a bit.”
After a lovely hot then cold drench, I return to the kitchen. It’s quarter after twelve, Natalie and the kids are playing Go on the kitchen island. All of them are teamed up against McKenzie who appears to be trouncing them despite dealing with beans and cornbread.
Natalie, “She is unreal, wiped us out, but I learned something.”
“What?”
“Never play that kid for money.”
Mickey and Zak laugh, McKenzie cuts hunks of cornbread, butters the top, slice in half, butter the middle. We make clarified butter, rich and nutty, no refrigeration, it stays creamy soft.
Zoe C and Elle appear, “Outside or in?”
“It’s warm today, eighties, and the main course is hot soup.”
“In then, what does everyone want to drink, iced tea, Diet Coke or water?”
Coke is the universal choice, I put bottles of lemon and cranberry juice out, some of us like to add one or the other or both to flavor the Coke.

Sixteen

Reply message from the woman regarding her angry son supplies names, his and the alleged bullies, he does drive, but doesn’t have his own car. She sent the make, model and plates for her husband’s and hers in case. Also her address and the high school he attends. She also mentioned that she hoped the messages are secure, volunteered she only knows computers from her job, an emergency room nurse. I didn’t ask what her husband did, it seems irrelevant. The teen has a social media tag, shootingstar…well ain’t that just precious?
Zoe C finds him on Instagram, videos of him shooting his dad’s AR with a thirty round magazine and a Glock, a big one, G-17 that shoots nines. He also shows off the thirty one round extended magazine.
He’s a slight kid, bushy curly black hair, he wears a headband, black, and black frame dweeb eyeglasses. I’m guessing he’s five eight, maybe brushing five nine, not a dwarf but no defensive lineman.
There’s video of him cleaning the weapons with a constant patter like he can’t get enough of himself talking. His sign off is, ‘I’m locked and loaded, don’t fuck with me, I will stand my ground.’
Zoe C, “Maybe he can’t get a hearing at school, this is his alter ego, the one who wants to believe he’s a man among men.”
“What he is, is a school shooter waiting to happen. His mother is on the right track.”
“Wait, he’s in Arizona? Glendale? That where Bondurant is.”
Zoe C, Elle and I have been down a few times to take Tactical Executive Protection courses, how to drive under attack so to speak. I’ve been twice, but Zoe C and Elle have been a half dozen times, alternating tactical with an oval race course. They never warmed to the Formula One sessions. They like going flat out.
Natalie comes in, “What’s doing?”
“We’re off to spy on a teenager who’s angry and absorbed with guns. His mom can’t get anyone’s attention, you know, cops don’t want to get involved because there’s been no crime…yet. They prefer to ignore it until a few schoolchildren have been massacred. The boy’s father thinks he’s just ducky, crack shot, can disassemble and assemble his Glock blindfolded. His own father son militia.”
Natalie, “I’m no fan of cops, but they can hardly arrest him for making videos, has he made any threats?”
“Mom says he’s volcanic about certain kids at school, dad insists it’s common high school macho. The problem is obvious, dad lets the boy have unrestricted access to his guns.”
“Jaysus, is he deluded…never mind, of course he is. What now?”
“Now Zoe C and I drive to Glendale and snoop. We’ll rent an SUV, not any of our cars, getting a car and hotel room with a Cayman Islands shell corp keeps us anonymous. Our credit cards can be traced to nowhere.”
“Need anyone else?”
“No, let McKenzie have a break, everyone stays here. You and Elle have plenty to do, but be sure to enjoy three kids who aren’t angry at anyone.”
“Not a problem, I have a business that keeps expanding, I’m taking two to four calls a day, either a company that was to explore joining us, or investors who want a piece. That doesn’t count the calls from managers of the businesses we own.”
“I should have asked, what’s the book value now?”
She grins, “A billion two…as in two hundred million.”
Zoe C, “Well damn Nat, we should have celebrated crossing the billion mark.”
“I was waiting to see if it stayed there, I’m satisfied now that it will.”
“Then we’ll do something when we return, McKenzie Group deserves a celebration.”
Nat named her company after, who else, her adopted daughter,. I’m an investor but none of the other investors or the companies in the group know McKenzie, or that a McKenzie has anything to do with the company. 
Zoe C, “The drive to Glendale is six hours Chef. We take planes when we go for Bondurant training.”
“True, ok, book us, and a hotel nearby, driving around Phoenix is a pain.”
She makes reservations, “Plane ready for nine tomorrow, Springhill Suites with connecting rooms, Tahoe.”
Afternoon tea has come and gone, it’s approaching cocktails. In the kitchen McKenzie is stirring something, I come alongside, “What can I do?”
“Simple tonight, fajitas with pulled pork, peppers and onions, guacamole, sour cream, refried beans.”
“Good, then we can do buffet style.”
Natalie appears, kisses McKenzie on the cheek, takes a seat at the kitchen island, “I see the big tortillas, must be fajita night.”
“Our stock trader added nineteen hundred to the pile.”
McKenzie, “One thousand nine hundred thirty three.”
Nat smiles, “Accuracy is good.”
Today the weather turned, just enough for it to be pleasant outside, the sun has near set and the breeze off the ocean is delicious. Fajitas seem like a frozen margarita thing, I made a big blender’s worth, salted the rims and hand them out to adults. Another blender of virgin margaritas for the kids.
Elle, “I have a question McKenzie, about the nonduality thing.”
No reply, Elle giggles, “I didn’t ask the question, did I?”
McKenzie seldom answers implied questions, we have to actually put a question.
“You say there is an energy, energy that holds the entire universe, or allows the universe to arise and us with it. Is that the energy from the big bang?”
Mac, “The energy was there before, beyond appearances or events is Chi, which is permanent, that knows nothing of time nor of past or future. All past and future are already in it. It is your face before your parents were born and your face after your body dies.
“A mystery then.”
Mac, “Where do body and mind come from?
“The course of life, evolution.
Mac, “What drives life, the universe itself?”
Elle scrunches her lips, “Energy?”
“Chi, life force, which connects everything the source of everything. You are connected to it, plugged in, but not only passively receiving, you are also the source, you cannot be separated from it, nor it from you.”
“So I can do the things you do, read auras, heal, hurt, if I tune into the Chi? Wait, wrong question, can we access Chi the way you appear to?”
“To force it out of greed makes Shadows, they partially understand Chi, but misapply it. Chi does not separate or identify, there is no right or wrong in the real world, only ignorance.”
Elle, “Damn, the battery powers only, it does not discriminate.”
“All the world’s suffering arises from discrimination, separation, tribalism, authority, borders and nations.”
Zoe C gets in my head, ‘Mac is thirteen….thirteen, the precipice of adolescence, how did she come to this?’
‘She’s never distracted for one thing, once she gloms onto a subject, she follows the thread to the end. She’s also immune to other people’s emotions, hell, she’s immune to her emotions.’
‘That’s kind of what I mean, Chef. When she talks about nonduality, it’s on the border of woo-woo spirituality. The rest of her mental life is almost pure rationality.’
‘Then maybe her woo-woo is rational, she appears to be quite clear about it in her own mind.’
‘I hadn’t thought of it that way.’
‘In her world, we’re doing the woo-woo, pretending our illusions, our dualities, are real.’
‘Thirteen, good lord.’


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