Ellen is at the airport, “Welcome back honeys, no problems?”
Katja, “Nyet, no, easy, in Monday, out Tuesday and home. We are efficient social working persons.”
Ellen, “I’ll say.”
“Mani ees good?”
“Rockin’ along, she’s taking care of herself, only been a week since the operation. The anesthetic pump ran out a couple days ago, but she hasn’t complained, takes aspirin a couple times a day, that’s it. Sarah’s folks and Gerard are on for Saturday, better for Dr. Stevens, he’s off Sunday. I don’t think names ever came up, her mom’s name is Audra, he’s Ted.”
Katja, “What ees dinner, we haf breakfast at hotel, no lunch, plane does not haf food, but ees anyway direct flight.”
Ellen, “White beans with ham hocks. I didn’t make salad, we’ll have cheese and sesame flatbread for appetizers, Leidenheimer’s French warm and buttered with beans.”
Katja, “I am anticipating, you will also make sex wiz us tonight.”
Ellen, “I can do that.”
It’s good to have a plan.
Mani, “Welcome home, let me take the bag.”
Katja, “Nyet, you will not anyway take bag, six weeks, then you can take bag. Tomorrow, we haf delivery Fade-X. Sister will collect at our mail box.”
“What did you have to ship?”
“Money, diamonds, gold, three boxes.”
Mani, “Oh, for us?”
“Nyet, for Society, but we did not want to take on commercial flight wiz nosey TSA persons.”
Katya is in her office talking with Mrs. Pearson, “Good work. Send the cash and diamonds, we have the means to dispose of them. You will be credited with the contribution. Mrs. W will be four million richer, considering her prenup was a half million, she’s significantly better off. Keep the Eagles, a trust bonus, you could have kept it all, we would never know.”
Katya, “We have already money, but we appreciate the bonus. On a different matter. We have two other family members, they are qualified Social Workers. You do not want to send teams out more than every two months, we can provide another team if there is work.”
“Do they know what you’re doing?”
“In general. We have a separate business, conflict resolution. They have experience.”
Mrs. Pearson is no dummy, she understands they aren’t doing negotiations, “Good enough. Very occasionally, we also have targets who fail to follow the rules.”
Katya, “You will call me, target will not be anymore a problem.”
“Okay, and yes, we have lots of work, but we expand very slowly, we aren’t going to fix the world.”
“Nyet, and too many refocusings might bring unwanted attention, stories of vigilantes.”
“Exactly. We have systems in place to cover our enterprise, but staying out of the speculative press is essential, for us and for our contacts. You understand I’m sure, we never ever give up a contact.”
“Da, we have the same policy in our other business.”
“I’ll be in touch,” she clicks off.
Janah (Mrs. Pearson) tells her partner and intimate, Daphne (the second Mrs. Pearson) “We have another Social Skills team, and experienced advanced social work specialists. They have a sideline in what they call conflict resolution.”
Daphne grins, “In other words, if two people are in conflict, one way to resolve it is for one of the parties to be dead.”
“Yep. It’s perfectly logical. Two people are unhappy, in conflict. Common negotiation doesn’t work. They delete one of the principals. Now, instead of two unhappy people, there’s one happy person and one no longer capable of conflict.”
“Sounds like a better world to me.”
Janah giggles, “The strange people we come in contact with…”
“You might want to think about the people who come into contact with strange us.”
Ellen sticks her head in the office, “Tea’s up.”
Katya follows her to the living area, on platters is flatbread, smoked salmon, sharp cheddar and blue cheese brie.
Katja, “Blue chiz brie, we never haf before, ees good.”
“Then we will have again, I was fishing around for different cheeses and it caught my eye. We all like blue cheese in salads and burgers.”
Katya, “Society says we can keep the gold coins, and teams are credited any money they turn over to the Society. Maybe better accommodations, she didn’t say. And Ellen and Mani are officially Social Workers.”
Mani, “Yay!”
Ellen, “That’s cool.”
Katya, “We spoke of this before, but I will remind, this is not just point gun and shoot, walk away. This is torture. It is a little easier because you know why you are doing it, abuser, pedophile, sadist, but you still have to deliver the pain. Sister and I are immune, we do not care about these people. We will all go on the next job, then you will see. If it troubles you, do not anymore go, it is not required.”
Mani, “I don’t have any objection right at the moment, maybe it will be different when it’s real.”
Ellen, “We go, we see. Like you said, we know he’s an asshole, it’s not like random torture.”
Katja, “Sister and Katja will haf shower and rest until dinner, when ees?”
Ellen, “Say six thirty cocktails, dinner whenever.”
“Da, thanking you for tea,” she and Katya rise together, up the stairs, door closes.
Mani, “Think you can do it? I know we can’t know until it’s real, but…”
“Don’t mean to sound all macho, but I could beat an abuser to death with a hammer and take my sweet time doing it.”
Mani smiles, “If people knew what was in the brain of such a gorgeous girl..”
Ellen laughs, “Go lay down, rest your chest.”
“I feel fine.”
“Do it anyway, I’ll diddle you with the hand held.”
“Ooohhh, suddenly I feel an urgent need to relax.”
When Ellen appears, Mani’s stretched out on her bed, Ellen’s got the small bullet shaped toy. She clicks it on and gently buzzes, takes her time, it trails over, between soft lips. It isn’t designed for penetration, just to tingle the sensitive spot and surrounding area.
Ellen leans over, gently kissing just over the toy, Mani moans, then shivers deliciously. A deep sigh.
“You vibed me just right, thank you. Anything I can do for you?”
“Katja has instructed me to appear in their room tonight, I’m pretty sure I’ll be vibed senseless.”  


Saturday rolls in, Ellen’s prepping and cooking all day with a Mani assist. Jumbo shrimp cocktail appetizer, veal marsala, roasted vegetables, buttery stuffed baked potatoes with an optional topping of sour cream and caviar. Naturally there will be Leidenheimer’s crusty French bread to soak up rich marsala sauce. Three layer almond cake with buttercream frosting.
The doorbell, Sarah, mom and dad, Katya answers, “Good evening, welcome, I am Katya, this is my sister Katja.”
Audra, “So glad to meet you, my husband Ted.”
Dr. Stevens, “There cannot be two more identical twins in the world, Audra, look, eyes exactly the same color, exactly the same distance apart, exactly the same lips, nose, height, amazing.”
Audra, “Excuse my husband, he’s a bit autistic, notices everything.”
Katja, “Ees no mahter, we do not take personal, Dr. Stevens can say anything that ees coming to his mind, we do not offend.”
Ted, “No Dr. Stevens, Ted.”
“Da, okay Ted.”
Ellen, “What’s you pleasure, I have wine and Champagne open, we have about any harder stuff you want.”
Ted, “Scotch?”
“Highland Park okay?”
“Good Lord, that’s one of my favorites, how’d you..? Oh, stupid of me.”
Audra, “What?”
Ellen, “I asked Sarah.”
Audra laughs, “Duh me.”
“I understand you like bourbon, I stock Elijah Craig for myself, care to try it?”
“Absolutely, lots of ice, splash.”
Mani does cocktails, hands around the drinks, Audra takes a sip, “Oh my, amazing. I’ve been living with the homeless drinking Wild Turkey, never again. May I see the bottle?”
Mani brings it over, “Ted, this is twenty one year old bourbon, I was a baby when it was in a barrel.”
Ted, “Nice try, maybe a teenager.”
“No need to put too fine a point on it.”
“Unfortunately you may have to settle for twelve year old, this is the last of the twenty one I could find. Martin’s went on a hunt and managed to scare up three bottles. The twelve year is good, frankly I don’t notice much of a difference.”
“Good to know, I’ll make the switch.”
Doorbell again, Katja answers, “Gerard, come in, we are hafing cocktail drink, you will meet Audra and Ted Stevens, Sarah’s parents, this ees our friend Gerard. He leefs only a few blocks on Barracks St.”
Gerard, “My pleasure, I know of Mrs. Stevens' boutique, popular with the ladies who lunch I believe. And I have a few friends in the medical community who have mentioned the neurosurgeon who donates time to the emergency room, for which many are grateful.”
Ted, “It’s selfish, I’m keeping my hand in for cutting something besides brain. Trauma is always a challenge, bullets and knives never act the same.”
Audra, “Keep the blood and gore down Ted.”
Gerard, “Mrs. Stevens, I assure you, my sensibilities are not sensitive, I have a quiet life now, but it was not always so. Unfortunately, I have experienced my own share of violence and death. Not as a physician of course, in travels overseas.”
Audra, “Were you in the military, a journalist in a war zone?”
“Afraid not, no, no military service, not a reporter.”
Audra, “Well, then…”
Ted, “Audra, he can’t tell, so don’t ask.”
“Ah, don’t mean to pry.”
Gerard, “Of course not, you are showing an interest in a old man’s life. Dr. Stevens is, however, correct. Nice catch doctor.”
Audra, “I was explaining to the twins that Ted is mildly autistic, he’s over-tuned in. I frequently have no idea how he figures out what he figures out.”
Gerard, “Fascinating, then of course he has no objection to us ruminating on his, shall we say, condition?”
Ted, “Ruminate away, my daughter calls me ‘Absent Ted.’ I like her anyway, she runs too much.”
Gerard, “Yes, she’s a track star, Mani told me she had a personal best recently.”
Audra, “Yes, she said something about the zone, I have no idea what that means.”
Gerard, “I imagine the doctor has been in the zone, during surgery.”
Ted, “Have to be, too much thinking and I cut the wrong thing, and despite what anatomy books picture, very little inside a real body is obvious. It isn’t color coded.”
Audra, “The zone is when you don’t think?”
Gerard, “In a manner of speaking. One feels as though actions are effortless, there is no thought of what do I do next, it simply happens. If frequently occurs with people extremely well versed in the activity, could be running, any sport, surgery, mathematics. Writers experience it sometimes, the words just come, hours pass unnoticed.”
Audra, “Can’t say I’ve ever been in the zone at the boutique,” she laughs, “might be fun to effortlessly sell my most profitable items.”
Sarah, “Never happen, you don’t try to sell anything. You’d have to sell day in and out, over and over, eventually the words that spark a customer’s interest would just be there. You would read the customer in a glance, then help them see how marvelous it would be to own and wear the dress, blouse, accessory. The sale would be made before you opened your mouth, and you would know it.”
Audra, “Good Lord, is that possible?”
Gerard, “It happens every day. If you start tomorrow, maybe in ten years, maybe in three or four years, although it could easily happen next week as well.”
Audra, “You know, I should give it a go. I’ve sold things to women who, in my opinion, shouldn’t have bought it and not made suggestions on things they should. It seems dishonest both ways.”
Sarah, “Haven’t even finished the first drink and you’ve had an insight.”
“This bourbon is on my regular list, I imagine it’s pricey, yes?”
Sarah, “Ellen how much is the bourbon?”
“First one I got was one twenty, this one jumped to one forty, demand is high and supply is nil. They just released a twenty three year old, goes for two hundred per. Oh, and be careful, the new one and what you’re drinking is ninety proof, not eighty.”
Audra, “Sheesh, still, I can taste why it’s popular. Shames common shelf bourbon, even the better ones.”
Ellen, “Mani, freshen drinks and move everyone to the courtyard, there are nibbles out there already.”
Outside, Audra says, “What a lovely idea, mosquito netting canopy. I can see the sky without the insects.”
Mani, “The fans help too. We love being out here, but it’s swamp country and mosquitoes are a fact of life.”
Ellen expanded the patio table to seat everyone, there is low electric light, and a circle of smokeless candles around the canopy.
Gerard, “Their courtyard is enviable, minimalist and comfortable, like the house.”
Sarah, “The twins don’t care for antique nor for ultra modern. Wooden furniture, leather couches and chairs, we try to keep the clutter minimal.”
Gerard, “Mine is the opposite, I have far too many books and so many open at one time I have to page back to figure out what the topic is. Much of my furniture is older than I am.”
Sarah, “Katya says your house is exactly you, refined.”
“Oh, how nice of her.”
Ted, “How did girls so young get to this?”
Audra, “Excuse his lack of tact, please.”
Katja, “Ees no need for tactical. We make a business een Houston, get lucky, takes off. Seemple thing, donut shops. We add extra touch, sandwiches, cookie, brownie, very popular. Then we buy real estate, commercial place, one wiz donut shop, three others lease from us. Money comes een, we do not for a while spend much. Then we visit New Orleans Freench Quarter and sister ees want to leef here, so we buy house and Ellen remodels.”
Mani and Ellen bring out shrimp cocktails, pour Champagne, back to the kitchen.
Audra, “This is delicious.”
Gerard, “Will not be the first time you say it tonight, Ellen is a gourmet chef.”
“That’s what Sarah says every time she comes home from her weekend. Let me ask, Mani came along later, it was three when you moved here?”
Katya, “Yes, Mani came to work for us, we got a housekeeper, she got to get out of a dorm at New Orleans University.”
“So she’s a student.”
“Not anymore, we pay her for other things, she studies languages on her own. So much online, college is the most expensive way to learn, even a local university.”
Audra, “I see. I thought it was de rigueur for kids to go to college these days.”
Katja, “We make a beezness, Sabelin LLC. Investments, real estate, like that. Mani has her share, she ees not to need job for money.”
“Oh, I see, Sabelin, what’s it mean?”
Ted, “It’s an anagram for lesbian.”
Audra, “Ted!”
Katja, “Ees correct, Ellen thought of it, we are all anyway lazebian girl.”
“That much I knew, Sarah and all. I was happy for her to find pals. Her Catholic high school isn’t much for coming out.”
Katya, “She explained. New Orleans public schools are horrible, so it is either private or Catholic, both for safety and a good education. You are not religious people.”
Audra, “No, I was Catholic, Ted’s nothing. Ted’s reputation and the fact that we cough up a sizable donation in addition to tuition, keeps her in school. If I may ask, why does Katya have almost no accent, and Katja retains one?”
Ted, “So they can tell each other apart.”
Gerard and Audra laugh, Katja says, “Sister ees more mahter of fact, I am more sociable girl. People like accent, so I do not change much. Katya and I are close sister. We think same, walk same, sit same. Dr. Ted ees right, sometimes ees like I am Katya and she ees Katja. Accent keeps from confusing.”
Gerard, “Fascinating. I’ve seen you do the identical thing at the identical moment, turn to each other and appear to have a conversation without speaking. As if you are telepathic.”
Katya, “No mystery, we would be thinking anyway the same thing.”
Ted, “If they dressed identically, it would be like watching a mime in a mirror. Every neurologist I know would want you in their brain scanner. Be hilarious, two brains lighting up in the exact same spot at the exact same moment. They wouldn’t know what to make of it, but the papers would be flying to science journals. Don’t worry, your secret’s safe with me.”
Katja, “Good, we do not haf time to lie in machine wiz scientist looking at peecture they cannot understand. We will not answer one million questions or become experiment.”
Ellen, “Come on in folks, we’re ready to serve.”
The table can seat twelve, tonight there are eight. Mani pours rich Cabernet, she and Ellen pass plates of veal marsala, roasted vegetables are in platters as are stuffed baked potatoes. There are cups of sour cream, soft butter and caviar.
“The twins like sour cream and caviar, we thought you might like to try on your potato.”
Audra takes a taste, “Yum, what’s in these?”
“Mascarpone, and shredded extra sharp cheddar.”
“I have to try the caviar.”
Gerard, “Ellen, you surpass yourself, gourmet stuffed potatoes. The veal requires nothing more than a fork, marsala sauce is divine.”
“Thank you.”
Ted, “Audra, you need cooking lessons from Ellen.”
Audra laughs, “Honey, if it doesn’t come prepared from Whole Foods or Martin’s, I go for takeout. Cooking isn’t on my list,” she says to the others, “Ted is good with a grill, he does steaks, but I supply vegetable dishes from a store.”
Katja, “Sisters do no cook, we haf Ellen, Mani ees learning. Before, we always buy from store.”
Audra, “See Ted, you can always hire a chef.”
Ted, “Ellen isn’t cooking for anyone but these girls and the occasional guest. We’ll have to finagle an invitation more often. Next time, I’ll bring the scotch and bourbon.”
Ellen, “You’re on doc, and you don’t even have to bring it, none of us drink scotch, I’m the only bourbon drinker. At ninety proof, I’m usually one and done, move on to wine.”
A finale of Cognac and almond cake sends off guests mildly swizzed and well fed. 


Sunday passes quietly, Ellen made breakfast light, croissants and cut fruit with crème fraiche. They skip lunch and go for a walk, the French Quarter is nothing if not walkable.
Sarah, “Thanks for having my parents over, they were delighted. Mom knows a lot of people, only a few friends, dad has tons of colleagues, he doesn’t friend much.”
Katja, “Doctor ees busy, no time for chitting chat, and anyway, he ees too blunt for most people.”
Sarah, “You pegged him. He’s a great dad, I can tell or ask him anything. Everything is a fact or it isn’t, he doesn’t do beliefs. Mom may be the only woman on the planet who can handle him.”
Katya, “Mother is not needy cling on wife, always complaining about husband not at home.”
Sarah laughs, “No, not her style. She put energy into my stuff , then opened the boutique when I hit high school. I know girls with dysfunctional families, some days it seems like more than less. I’ve never heard my parents exchange a cross word.”
They park on the Moonwalk, a breeze blows over the Mississippi. Paddle wheelers haul tourists to Audubon Park, a few kids on Decatur across from Jackson Square doing acrobatics, hustling for tips.
Sarah, “Another five months of high school, then Tulane. Life kind of streaks by. I’m eighteen in a few months.”
Katja, “You are still for study linguistic, English?”
“Rethinking that, leaning towards Asian studies. I don’t really need a degree for a job, my parents would be happy to have me sponge off them forever. I’ll probably do graduate school, find a job teaching. I’m really not competitive, even my running isn’t competitive, I don’t see it that way.”
Mani, “Going to run track at college?”
Sarah, “I think so. My last race I was just over their 5K best by a couple seconds, and I’m good at 3K. It depends on required training time, number of meets, I don’t want it to be a career.”
Katya’s phone rings, Penny, “Need a conflict resolved.”
“Da, okay.”
“I’m sending the details usual channels.”
“Da, okay.”
“Always a pleasure.”
They tap off, Katya doesn’t explain, nobody asks.
This evening it’s cocktails, finger sandwiches and chips. All day cooking Saturday was enough for one weekend.
Sarah is staying over, after the light dinner, they finish off the almond cake. Sarah and Mani go upstairs to watch TV, or get up to fun girl things, or both.
Downstairs, Katya is in her office going over details from Penny, she comes out to the living area, Katja is fondling Ellen’s creamy smooth thighs, Ellen is kissing her neck.
Katya sits on the other side of Ellen, who turns and kisses her.
“We got work honey?”
“Policeman in Florida, two hundred contract.”
Ellen, “Wow, nice payday.”
“Risky project. Remember drug money we did not go after Florida?”
“Yeah, we took millions in Atlanta, but figured it would put Florida on alert. That was, what, year and a half ago?”
“So we will see if the money is still available. All four go, two for surveillance on cop, two for figuring out drug project. Both jobs are in Miami area.”
Ellen, “Geez, complex, what if one interferes with the other? Do the cop first, then maybe heat comes on the dealers. Steal from the dealer, maybe start a gang war, buncha cops start nosing around.”
“Not if we get the two close together. Cop is not a vice cop, he is a homicide detective. He might investigate drug killing, but he is not chasing around dealers every day. In any case, we go and see. If we have to pass on the dealer again we will at least know more about him.”
Katja, “Ees too bad we cannot get Society to scope out dealer.”
“If we ask for surveillance, then money is stolen and cop dead, we maybe have a problem with Mrs. Pearson.”
Ellen, “Call her and ask, see what their take is on drug dealers.”
“I already know. They say drugs are a fact of life, Society stays out unless gangs are also in other business, like child prostitution, or so violent they are killing innocents. Gangs killing each other does not matter to them.”
“When do we leave?”
“Penny says cop is violent, even more than regular cop. Rumor is he tortures suspects. I have an idea. I will call Blue Sky, tomorrow we fly to a private airport near Miami,” she goes to the office.
Katja has a different idea, it involves going down on Ellen. She kneels between trim glass slick legs and leans in to do her thing. In a few, Ellen’s soaring up the ramp, then over the top into free fall climax.
“Jaysus, it just gets better sweetie, anything I can do for you?”
Katja, “Sister will take care of Katja, I theenk Sarah might like a visit, she haf check you out all day.”
Ellen, “Sarah checks us all out, getting her girl on. I presume she and Mani at least took it easy. I’ll do a bed check and find out, night sweet thing.”
Ellen heads up the steps to Mani’s third floor bedroom, she opens the door to peek in, Mani’s asleep, Sarah is deliciously nude.
“Been waiting for you. I took care of my Thai treat, maybe you could…”
“No maybe ‘bout it.”
Downstairs, Katya returns, “You send Ellen to Sarah.”
“Da, what ees plan?”
“Ellen takes Sarah to school in the morning, we will pack , leave for the airport at nine thirty, flight is ten. Two hours. Lose an hour for time zone, we will be in for one. I booked the Mandarin Oriental, two bedroom suite, two SUVs, not big ones, Hyundai Santa Fe, not so noticeable as Tahoe or Navigator, easier to get around. Remember to pack license plate.”
Katja, “Already in the travel bag, Ellen keeps them stocked, only haf to add gun from safe.”
“Two Ruger rifles, Glock 19 for everyone, maybe 43 for Mani, more compact. Box of ammunition for each gun, spare magazines.”
“You expect to start war?”
“I hope we get the cop with one shot, and not much more to steal drug money, but we don’t know anything about the drug operation now. We may not do anything but execute cop and come home.”
Katja, “Okay, feenish Cognac, you will give me orgasm, then I will fuck you wiz strapping on toy.”
Katya’s face reveals nothing, but her sister knows what’s she’s thinking, and it’s succulently nasty.


Mani, “Geez, nice suite, view of the bay, lovely.”
Katya, “Mani and I will check out cop, Ellen, you and Katja find out if any of the old information is still good. I called Gerard, he is going to use his contacts for an update.”
Only lightly disguised, they are traveling under false identification after all. Licenses have a vague resemblance, nobody ever looks like their driver’s license. They look ordinary, no short skirts or tight tops, just loose jeans or pants, steel toe sneakers, bland pullovers. The work sneakers are to add something nasty if they have to kick anyone.
Ellen, “Think we look plain enough?”
Mani, “Hey, I have breasts, less plain than I was.”
“You are impossibly adorable, keep those seductive eyes under sunglasses little missy.”
Katya and Mani take one car and go north, Ellen and Katja head west. Katya called and asked for the detective, working a murder scene in fact. Dan McClusky, big Irish cop, red hair and face, fat. His partner is Franklin Davis, they’ve worked together five years after McClusky’s first partner had a heart attack and retired on disability. Penny sent her usual thorough details, required for any conflict resolution and especially for high profile ones. She doesn’t take contracts without photos, habits, where they work, and home address as a minimum. Any additional detail is helpful, make of car and plates, wife, kids. Professional associations, meetings or social events may open an opportunity to execute the contract. Also helps to avoid certain places, they won’t kill dad in front of the kids for instance. If it’s mom who wants dad dead, she will always want to create an alibi, be at granny’s or out of town with the children.
Katya clicks on the police scanner, in ten minutes they have a location, man shot in a residence. Katya drives to the neighborhood, Hispanic, a small no frills apartment complex. Patrol car light racks flashing, there’s an unmarked Crown Vic with a bubble light on the dash.
Katya drives alongside a mini-mart across the street, peers through binoculars.
“McClusky is talking to a man, doesn’t look like he is under arrest, just an interview. From the looks of it, the man saw nothing, or does not want to admit it. He is shaking his head no after every question.”
Mani’s job is to attend to the rest of the area, see if anyone is paying attention to the black Hyundai or approaching the car. So far so good, everyone’s focused on the action across the street.
Mani, “Whoever got shot has been taken away, no ambulance, no coroner.”
“We came in at the end, looks like routine questions, I do not think anyone has been arrested.”
Two people in clean suits come out of an apartment carrying evidence bags. They speak to McClusky and Davis, everyone swaps nods, the forensic team goes to their van and leaves. The detectives leave patrol cops to continue questioning bystanders and neighbors. They go in the apartment, free to snoop after the photo and fiber collection is complete. It must not be much, they’re out in ten minutes.
Katya, “Fat McClusky stuffs something in his pocket, small plastic bag, looks like marijuana.”
Mani, “Maybe he needs to relax, free dope is a cheap way to do it.”
“Time to follow, would be good to get tracker on their car, maybe they make a stop.”
Like she’s prescient, three blocks away McClusky and Davis pull in front of a panadería, a Mexican bakery. They both get out and go inside.
Mani, “Give me the tracker.”
Katya starts to take it out of the box, Mani says, “No, box too, I can use it.”
She hops out, scoots down the block. It’s an angle park, tail facing the street. She drops the case, leans over to pick it up, the tracker clunks into place under the rear bumper. She continues down three cars, then to the sidewalk and goes to the corner of the next block. Katya pulls alongside, Mani gets in.”
Katya, “Good job, smooth, looked just like you dropped a box, stoop to pick it up, walk away.”
“I wanted to be sure it wasn’t obvious, me behind the car sticking my hand underneath, could have dropped a coin or a dollar bill. Purse maybe, but we don’t carry purses much.”
“Nyet, something else to fool with, better to have jacket and pants with pockets. Men figured it out a long time ago. Why women buy stupidly expensive purse and have to keep track of it all the time, I do not understand.”
Mani, “Neither do men. It’s an affectation, another look at what I’ve got, which only has meaning to other women, men don’t know Coach from Walmart.”
Katya thinks back to the time when, as kids, they used women’s purse fetish to their advantage. Katya would ask a woman seated in a bookstore or a Starbucks a question, directions, anything. While distracted talking to Katya, Katja would snatch the purse and evaporate. They took cash and credit cards. They couldn’t suck cash out of an ATM without a pin, but they could run the card through a self checkout for the next few hours. It got them fed, shoes and clothes. Katya would only use the card once, then pitch it and they would get on the bus to a different part of town.
The two detectives come out with coffee cups and a bag, get in the car. It’s idle for a few minutes, Katya has it on the GPS and is keeping an eye on the rearview.
Crown Vic backs out, continues down the street, past Katya and Mani. She waits a minute, no reason for a close tail, all she has to do is follow the signal.
Katja is online, “Gerard called, gang ees same, los niños perdidos, the lost boys. Leader ees Francisco Calderon, who calls himself, el escorpión. He ees violent person, haf some stupid story about scorpion and frog.”
“I know it, full of himself asshole. What else?”
“He ees run beezness from a club, day and night bodyguard protection. Gerard says that Society knows of him, he ees keeller of innocent, wife, sister, fahmahley, to keep competition in line. They want him out of beezness.”
“I will talk to Pearson. Cops are screwing around, we found them at a crime scene but they do not have much interest in solving murder of Hispanic person. We will follow for a while, you check out club, just for location, maybe way in or out. Then to hotel.”

Katya tells Mani, “Sister and Ellen have good information from Gerard, I think we can do both projects this trip.”
Mani grins, “Cool…um. But how did you…wait, I know, I think I know. You and Katja are telepathic, you can see in her mind and she yours? Am I crazy?”
“Yes, but not about that, yes, we are the same, the same all the time. If I think it, so does sister. We are always together even when we are not.”
Mani, “Damn, does Ellen know?”
“Probably, she does not say.”
“So, it’s true in a way, Katja has an accent so you can tell each other apart.”
Katya, “At first, then we got good at mind talk, Katja keeps her accent to be charming.”
Mani giggles, “It works too. You don’t want to be charming?”
“Nyet, happy for sister to be cute Russian girl, she likes attention more than I do.”
They’re on a leisurely cruise around the precinct, then the two cops stop in front of a house. It’s in a lower middle neighborhood, the cars are a lot newer than the homes.
Katya, “Poor people will let home go to crap to buy shiny new car.”
Mani, “It’s true, why do they do that?”
“House is hard to finance, car is easy. They get ripped off on the interest rate, but all they care about is the monthly payment, can they swing it or no.”
“People aren’t very good with money are they?”
“No, not at all, credit card with high rate, car with high rate, then maybe payday loan or title loan. Never escape debt.”
“Another great reason to steal money and be rich.”
Davis comes out of the house, gets in the Vic and drives off.
Katya, “Why does one cop leave? This isn’t McClusky’s place, he doesn’t live in this precinct.”
Mani, “Want to check it out?”
“Yes. Go around back. I will pass by the front and the other side, see if we pick up anything. Take your Glock.”
They put on shoulder holsters, jackets over that, exit the Hyundai. Mani slips down the right side of the house, Katya crosses in front, curtains are closed. It’s late afternoon, overcast and hazy, a bit of cover.
Katya corners the house and walks down the left side, careful to check windows, one is open slightly, but the curtains are drawn. She hears a conversation.
Mani appears at the rear corner, Katya waves her forward, finger to her mouth  cautioning silence.
The voice is McClusky’s, “You gotta give up Jesús, you know he was the shooter.”
A tremulous voice, male, “I did not see him, a shot came, Eduardo fell, his chest full of blood. I heard someone run down the alley, I was no gonna chase and get shot too.”
“Fuck that, you know Jesús did it, he fucking told you he was gonna kill Eduardo.”
“Si, yes, he said it, but he said it a dozen times over the last year, he was pissed because Eduardo was with his girl, ex-girl. I kept telling the dude, she didn’t start with Eduardo until six months after she split, he don’ wanna believe it. Everyone tells him, Eduardo don’t even be around here when she split. Jesús is crazy loco, he gets pissed when people say that, we don’ wanna be the next…”
“Next what? See, you know he did it, why would you think you would be next unless you thought he did it?”
“I tol’ you man, I think he did it, but I didn’t see him do it.”
“This is how it is Manny. You step up and point him out, or I get serious, you have any idea what happens when I get serious?”
“I heard, but it comes to me taking a beating from you or getting murdered by Jesús, I take a beating. I been beat up before.”
“Let me explain douche bag. Your daughter, cute little thing, what’s she, ten?”
“Eleven, just a little girl.”
“A fine little girl, cute ass, pretty face. You roll over on Jesús, or I break in your kid, fuck her all night and the next day. If you help me get the conviction, maybe she stays a virgin until some punk spic comes along and she gives it up for him.”
The sound of a punch, a groan, another, “I can do this shit forever fuckhead. And still turn out your little girl, I know pimps, pay me big to sell her cherry ass to them. They don’t care if I broke her in first, she’ll be whoring on the perv-walk in a week.”
“I testify, you leave her alone.”
“That’s the deal.”
Katya, “Go to back door, I am going in window. If it isn’t already open, shoot it and go in. When the noise starts, I will taser cop, you knock out Manny person.”
Katya raises the window, the sash creaks a bit, but the window has been opened and closed a lot, it’s smooth enough. She boosts herself in, it’s a bedroom, the door is open to the living room where McClusky is working on Manny.
There’s a slight noise from the kitchen, a creak, Manny is too upset to notice, McClusky raises his head, sees Mani, “Who the fuck are you?”
Katya tasers him, McClusky jumps and freezes, he’s on the floor paralyzed.
Manny is watching the big cop, then he’s whapped on the temple by the butt of Mani’s Glock.
While Katya unplugs McClusky, then wraps him in picture wire, Mani checks the man for a pulse, bopping along fine. She leaves him unconscious on the floor and goes out the back door, down the side to retrieve the Hyundai.
Katya has McClusky wrapped in a rug, Mani has the SUV pulled around the side and backed up to the rear door. They push and pull the bulky package into the interior of the SUV, shut the hatch, Katya drives to the street, takes a left and they’re gone.

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