Chapter Seventeen VI

I know not how it was—but, with the first glimpse of the building,
a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit.
I say insufferable; for the feeling was unrelieved by any of that
half-pleasurable, because poetic, sentiment with which the mind
usually receives even the sternest natural images of the desolate or terrible.
Edgar Allen Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher

While Janah and Nikko are entertaining our guests, I go downstairs. A monk is sitting on the loading dock eyeing a truck with two ghosts. I can barely hear the muffled screams of the LSD amphetamine combo cocktail Es Three and Four are enjoying. The interior of the van is black on black. They’re splayed, arms tied to one rack bolted to the van wall, legs to the other side, laying on the metal floor. No matter how violently they shake, there’s not a scrape or squeak. Chan appears, the monk leaves to circle the block and the blocks around the block.
“Open the truck, I’m giving them another dose,” Janah wants them freaked, and re-freaked by the time we drag them up to the apartment. If their hearts explode, oh well.
The interior reeks of urine, she’s in and out in thirty seconds. Yeah, it’s torture, plain and simple. We have twelve hours until the party starts and if we fail, the news gets worse.
My phone rings, it’s one of the Sensitives, “The Harlem River is about seven hundred feet wide. The M-19 grenade launcher has an accurate range of sixteen hundred yards. We found a spot near the river that has a bad vibe.”
“What about Randall Island?”
Jade, “Not so much cover, worse shot. Naturally there will have to be patrols there, but there are many better spots. In fact, we think we may have found one.”
I make a connection with Janah and Nikko, Jade says there’s a spot in the Bronx, by the river. They have a bad feeling about it. I’m going over. Nikko stays with you, Black keeps scanning until the Society’s people have checked every empty space in any building visible from the roof. Send the falcons to cover my back, you can mentally GPS me, the birds will find me easily enough.
Janah, Go for it, we’re really low on time. Anything even smells funny, kill it.
Janah is referring to the fact that mustard gas smells like rotting apples, to some like lilacs, garlic or horseradish. It’s not noxious or unpleasant, unless you get covered in it. I’m going across the Willis Avenue Bridge to sniff the wildlife.
I meet Jade and Jeremy a half hour later. We take a ride to the building that’s troubling them. It’s prewar, maybe pre-Civil war, old.
Janah is occupied with Ketamine and Sodium Pentothal, and making slow progress. Too slow.
She calls Chan, “I need you here. Let the monk watch the truck and Surveillance cover the perimeter. The pigeons are up there too, peeking in windows. If there’s something we need to know, David Li will call, I don’t want him down here. The birds can make the trip to the apartment in minutes.”
She returns to chatting with assholes. Whoever had chosen these men had chosen well. They have no identifiable family, war orphans likely, brought up by Al Qaeda or the Taliban or some other lunatic fringe, maybe the Tea Party. Getting them to talk isn’t impossible, but it might take longer than we have. In the past, we could take days to talk through a subject, and those weren’t committed fanatics. She’s going with plan B.
Chan arrives, Janah says, “I’m getting pieces, but it’s taking too long. I’ll take E One, you E Two. We’re going into their minds and do a careful and very painful rearrangement, exhausting for us, torturous for them. I’ve written down descriptions of people, a mother and sisters they don’t currently have, but soon will. We’re going to create them in their minds. Then I’m going to use the imaginary families to coerce the information we need.”
They go silent, close their eyes and pull out the energy stops. Light fills the room, Nikko has never seen such a thing. A hazy incandescent glow, like black light. The room temperature rises to over a hundred. The blindfolded and gagged men, taped to chairs now for eight hours, begin to twist their heads, mimicking a no, no, no. Sweat pours, then drops of blood. They shake violently, Nikko sees they are feverish, their heads not just warm, hot, that could mean brain damage. She realizes that their brains are being damaged, intentionally.
Janah lays a hand on Chan’s wrist. They turn down the volume. Janah rips off E One’s tape, and uses a clamp to pull the soaked towel in his mouth.
Janah, “You mother is not so old, your young sister is quite beautiful. Do you see them?”
He nods an affirmation, still shaking.
 “There are men, infidels, who specialize in rape and torture of women. They are most anxious to meet your family.”
E One has wide eyes, he can’t talk, still taped up, but it’s clear the implanted memory is there.
“Ready to chat, or shall I send the devils in for mom and sis? Naturally, they will have to be killed, can’t leave the whores just lying about, can we? The men  will use them repeatedly, then kill them slowly. They like it.”
E One starts talking. The idea of prayer, help from Allah doesn’t come to mind, the concept of Allah has been deleted from his mind.
E Two is chatting with Chan like they’re old friends. He has no memory, no history, only his recent activities remain in his mind..
Both of them tell similar stories. Approached by a man, given money and the key to an apartment. They were taught how to use the grenade launchers, where to point them, the lower three floors of the new building and all exit doors.
Janah, “Who was he?”
E One, “A man called the Colonel.”
“Where is he from, does he live here, what does he look like?”
E One provides a description, confirmed by E Two, tall, mustached, dressed in a suit. He is not Afghani. They’d been told where to meet him, a spot in Battery Park, he appeared as if out of the mist. He gave them instructions, they left.
Janah, “The other two men, carting the supplies up here?”
E Two, “We don’t know them. We were told to be here, what to do with the deliveries, and when. We didn’t ask questions, they supplied nothing but the boxes, we brought the weapons.”
Janah turns to Chan, “Please deliver the two in the truck. Hose them down, they must reek by now, put the clothes they have in the incinerator, put them in something simple, jogging stuff. The clothes will be there by the time you have them cleaned up. I’ll have someone take the truck and deliver us a new one. When you return, we go through the same routine with them, they might know more, or less. How’s your energy holding up?”
Chan shrugs, “Doesn’t matter. Job must be finished.”
Janah, “Okay. Let’s get to it.”
While Chan is dealing with the truck nuts, Janah calls for clothes, and a change of trucks, and she needs both yesterday. She explains that the first truck is full of filth, human waste. Take it to a crusher, make it small and recycle it.
By the time Chan has Three and Four hosed down, a panel van pulls in. The monk dresses the men in clean clothes. Filthy truck is doused with bleach, hosed out a second time and driven away. New truck backs in. The monk takes the key, whoever delivered it gets into a waiting car. Nobody exchanges a ‘hello.’ It isn’t a meet and greet, no name tags.
Now Three and Four are strapped to chairs. While Chan is occupied, Janah erases the minds of One and Two. Just like wiping out a hard drive, not only defragged, deconstructed. They have no personality, no self, no memories, tabula extra rasa. They are on the way to an institute in Mexico. They will sit in a chair and watch TV in Spanish, or stare at a wall. It won’t matter, Janah had not only removed all memory, she removed any capacity to make memories. Basically, she’d lobotomized them, with a difference. Lobotomy, in most cases, is used to make schizophrenics and those with more sever anxiety or hallucinatory disorders, calmer and more manageable. They can still function, mechanically, but have no psychotic episodes. Janah went beyond lobotomy. One and Two are no longer people in any sense. Just organisms, the living dead, like married couples.
Three and Four actually have a better description of the Colonel, they work for him directly. Janah skips any further use of drugs, goes directly to the brain. She and Chan erase all fear of the Colonel, all religious belief, any connection as compatriots to anyone involved in the plot. Simply put, she allows memory without structure or meaning. Without a belief structure, a self reference point, they become talking heads. Audio-visual reporters of their experiences; no different than a video recorder. It doesn’t care if the operator is filming the Academy Awards, a beheading, or the rape of a ten year old girl. It just digitizes the activity.
Janah tells Chan, “Erase these two, we have what they have, send them along with One and Two. I’m calling in our Colonel’s name to the Society, physical description and the location where Three and Four met him. I need to talk to Daphne and Nikko.”
I know you haven’t been following along, so tune in, I’m uploading megabytes of stuff.
She mentals the Colonel’s description, the location is a block from the building the Sensitives found. There are noises in the allegedly vacant building, movement, but no talk. No one had entered or exited. It’s a two story warehouse. Grimy windows on the second floor, painted over and boarded up ones on the first. Recessions are good for terrorists, lots of vacant space.
Mrs. Epstein calls, “Interesting news. Our Colonel is not a Muslim, not even Afghani or Arab. He’s a Russian mercenary. The others are Islamists, ready to destroy anything American by any means necessary. For them, this is just jihad junk. The Russian had access to the material, access is the wrong word, he stole it. He was paid a lot of money to supply the gas and weapons. That’s all he cares about. The flipping CIA thinks he’s a turned agent and has protected him. He gives them information on the activities of other jihadists, also for money.”
Janah, “So, like the Rabbi in Lucky Slevin, he lives on both sides of the fence, his grass is always greener.”
“You got it. Here’s the best outcome. Capture him, clean his brain, except for the what he provides on terrorist activity. His handlers will be downsized, his new handlers will be brought up to speed. They’ll feed him what they want him to know, which will basically be bullshit. The Muslims trust him, for now. I figure the CIA can dance him along for a few months, until his Islamic buddies figure out something isn’t right. All so called intelligence is full of lies, double and triple agents. So both the good guys and the bad guys understand that reports can be highly inaccurate. It will take a while before they realize he’s good for nothing. Then we don’t have to do anything. His friends overseas will do it for us.”
Janah, “Will do, presuming we don’t have to take extreme measures with him.”
Mrs. Epstein, “No loss, best get to work, eight hours to show time.”
They disconnect, Nikko and I heard the conversation. The Colonel is to be taken alive if possible, Janah will remove unnecessary, unwanted files, clear his registry and reboot him. The CIA will play him like a violin until the strings break, courtesy of the Muslims.
Nikko, “I lose the pleasure of killing him?”
“He’s got a half dozen religious dirt bags in there. They don’t get to go home, they don’t get rebooted, they get gone.”
Nikko, “When?”
“No time like the present. Janah, I need the reconnaissance from the birds. What can they see in the second floor windows, exactly, number of people, what the space looks like, where the materials are. I need Black to deal with the Colonel, Nishiko and I will deal with Allah’s asswipes.”
“Black’s on the way, bird update in a minute, hang on….”

Nikko and I are suited up, we double check weapons, already disguised, Nikko in her familiar white face death mask. I go with a tiger tattoo that runs from my temple to my jaw line, and purple eye shadow. Hair has a purple streak, and glitter. Nikko wears her headband, a black silk scarf. Today we'd chosen reflective sunglasses. I could have gone in blind, thanks to the owl I can see in the dark better than a night scope, and, if necessary, Nikko can see what I see. We only go to that in an emergency, it’s tricky. She sees it from my perspective, not hers. Guys running at me she would see as guys running at her, and guys running at her she would see as guys running at her, but through my eyes, she would see them, and herself. We’d worked on mentally compensating during our practice sessions, but it’s different when it’s dark and people are trying to kill you. Janah and I have it down cold, Nikko is still working at it.
Black appears, we’re set. These pukes will need a lot more than Allah.

Chapter Eighteen VI

I like Dostoyevsky’s beautifully written Crime and Punishment.
Despite my many crimes, I don’t feel Raskolnikov’s fear, or his guilt.

“Black, wait by the back exit. Just a sec, I want to talk to Janah, if Colonel Raskolnikov, whoever he is, gets out, I thought it would help to have a tracker.”
Can we get a Peregrine down here? If Colonel R decides to try and get away, and we miss him, I’d like the Peregrine to attack. Take an eye, slow him down. He’ll be armed, nothing Surveillance can deal with, and he’ll think he has CIA cover, so he’s likely to feel empowered to fire away.
Janah, On the way. I’ve got his photo,’ she looks at it, which means Nikko and I can see it, I’m sending it to David Li, he can let the falcon have a look. 
Nikko and I are going to Shaolin-Ninja our way to the roof. When we get there, I’m going to try and get a peek in a window. I knew I’d get to lower her from a wire sooner or later.

Black, “You gonna be okay, holding her?”
“Remember the owl, second trip?”
Black, “Ah, this is where the claws come in.”
“I could hold her up there all night thanks to that owl. Okay, to the back exit, Nikko and I are going climbing.”
Janah, The birds say it’s a big room, support pillars in the middle. Seven men, boxes with what they call machine death. There is a clear symbol for poisonous gas on several boxes. They are spread out across the middle of the warehouse, the boxes are open. One man is looking out the window at the fire escape, don’t use that.
I need the pigeons to drop a hook on the back side of the building. It will take two of them. They are to connect it silently to the ledge around the roof, the line will run up the windowless rear wall.

We walk around the building, hug the walls. Even from the second floor they can’t see us, the angle is wrong and the windows are grimy. From the building across the street, Surveillance can only see shapes. Black leans against the corner of the back wall, he can see both the ground floor rear exit and the fire escape on the right.
The birds come, pick up the hook and fly it up to the roof. I don’t hear it clank in place, David Li did a good job.
Tell David Li the pigeons performed perfectly,extra grain on me.
Nikko and I climb the wall, on the roof in seconds. The biggest peregrine falcon I ever laid eyes on sits on a corner ledge.
When we figure out what exit Raskolnikov is going to use, how can I redirect the falcon?
Janah, You don’t need to. When he senses the commotion he will circle the building. When he spots the Colonel, he takes care of business. David has instructed him. Don’t worry about the bird.
I hook Nikko into the harness, hold the wire and she starts head first down the wall. It isn’t far to the top of the window, I might have been able to do it holding her ankles. But, if something goes wrong, like a bad guy coming to check the roof, with the wire secured I can just let go.
Something goes wrong, the roof door creaks.
Roof door opening, gotta go.
I let go of the wire, I hear Nikko, I can see enough, everyone is busy, looks like a regular security check.
This, dear one, is our invitation to the party. Quit hanging out and get up here. I’ll take care of Door Boy.

The conversation happens as I’m on the move to the door. A rifle barrel pokes out, mistake, I grab it, angle it towards his feet in case he has his finger on the trigger. He does, but the downward motion is so quick, he doesn’t fire. If he had, he’d have shot himself.
I slit his throat with one swipe of my blade, quick, silent. I take the rifle, bend the barrel and toss the clip. Door Man is on his side, I drag him out of the way.
Nikko joins me.
“They’ll give him a few to check the roof, so what’s going on in there?”
Nikko, Assembly. Some of the launchers are loaded. If we screw up, one of them could fire grenades out the window just for spite, not worried about a target.”
Based on what Nikko saw, they aren’t long range RPGs, and I doubt they’re timed, which means they explode on impact. That means they have to break the windows, not fire through the glass. Even with a timer, the impact might set off one, then they gas themselves. I need bats, five hundred bats, like now.

Janah, On it. You want them right down the roof stairway and creating chaos in the warehouse.
Complete chaos, biting, hit the eyes, flying around everywhere. When Nikko and I are done, it will be feeding time.

 Nikko and I wait, I go to Black’s corner, write a note and drop it to him.
He reads it, nods up at me.
The note says, 'It’s going to get bat-shit crazy here in a few minutes.
And it does.
As bats pour down the stairway, it’s pandemonium inside, I’m down the stairs, serrated flick knife in one hand, shuriken in the other. Nikko follows, nunchucks tucked into her belt, katana over her back. Number One is right by the stairwell, trying to get up the steps, I kick him in the face, and plant a shuriken in his forehead. It went deep, he’ll twitch for a while, but he’s as good as dead.
Two others are headed towards us when they see their bomb buddy fall backwards. With the bats screaming around, it takes them a few seconds to process metal stars halfway into their foreheads. After that, a dozen bats begin feeding on the blood.
Two more stars fly, one from me, the other from Nikko. Three down, three to go, plus Raskolnikov. I hear a window break. I can see a big blond Slav crawling out onto the fire escape. Black and the falcon would be on him soon enough, he carries an AK-47 and has an automatic, looks like a Glock 23, in his waistband.
I fire a shuriken, catch him along the cheek, he turns but can’t see me, Nikko tries for him, but he’s out the window and down the fire escape, we have business to finish here.
Someone grabs me from behind, I turn my head 180, and the shock of it freezes him long enough for me to stomp down hard on his foot, throw my hands straight up and slip down out of his grip. I stab my pointed double serrated blade over my head and feel it sink, then I stand up and let the knife do its work.
I’d caught him low in the gut, the knife is still inside him, just under his sternum. I turn, slashing it to the side and his gut becomes guts, sliding from him to the floor.  Nikko is cracking Number Five’s forearm with a nunchuck, then with a second swipe, crushes his hand, he drops the gun. Her katana comes out, his head comes off, hits the floor, points west, not a good sign for his future in paradise.
The last terror-hole has a gun pointed at me, my eyes are glued to his finger, when he has the trigger back an eighth of an inch, I leap to the right, the gun fires, the bullet hits a wall, I start towards him. He keeps firing, keeps missing, he can’t believe he isn’t hitting a target five feet in front of him. Unfortunately for him, his confusion isn’t Nikko’s confusion, she separates his wrist from his arm, then runs the katana through one side, out the other. His hand/gun hits the floor, he stares stupidly, Nikko is aggravated that he’d taken a shot at me, she separates his lower leg from his upper leg at the knee. He topples over, bleeding out while the bats start pigging out. Don’t know where David found vampire bats, they’re the only ones that drink blood.
I look at Nikko, “Where in hell do you suppose David Li found this many vampire bats?”
She hugs me, “I didn’t know you could dodge bullets.”
“I didn’t either, but thanks to the owl and the eagle, I could see the bullet coming down the barrel. It was like time stopped. I hope it’s not something I have to practice too often.”
I hear Janah, Go help Black. I can’t see in his mind.
We race down the fire escape, for not much.
Black, “He came down, didn’t see me, rifle was locked and loaded though, then a huge bird came out of nowhere and took an eye right out of his socket. Needless to say he was distracted. All I had to do was grab the barrel and mess up his face. I got the rifle and the Glock. He’s empty otherwise.”
Blood and bloody goop drip from his empty eye socket, his nose won’t ever be much of a nose again. A van screeches up, the side slides open, Black dumps the big Russian on the floor. We get in, are driven to an empty house, the van backs in the drive. The house has a side entrance, the van stops alongside the door, it’s open. Black tosses Raskolnikov from the floor of the truck onto the kitchen floor of the house like he’s a bale of hay.
Black, “I know Janah wants him alive, but she didn’t say alive and pretty. So he might have gotten a few bruises and maybe cracked his collarbone.”
“Don’t worry about it. We don’t care if he gets turned back over to the CIA or not. He’s got a short half life. It won’t take his mercenary connections long to figure out the CIA is feeding him horseshit for breakfast and bullshit for lunch. But, since we’re here, we wait on Janah to delete certain files from his soft drive, then we let the spooks put him in harm’s way.”
Janah comes along a half hour later and goes to work.
A car pulls up for Black, he hugs us and gets in. When Janah is done, a van arrives for us, the van Raskolnikov rode is messy with his blood and DNA. It’s going to the bleach wash, then to the car crusher.
The dear Colonel will say anything the CIA tells him to, he has no memory of mercenary work, playing one side against the other. He’s only capable of parroting whatever he’s told. Whichever bad guys he draws, he’s toast. We have no biases, we think of the CIA as one set of bad guys and the Islamists as another, and the Mossad as a third, MI-5 as a fourth. We don’t like any of them, all criminals, all lying-ass punks or weasels, still clinging to the arcane notion that there are state secrets. Janah leaves Rossi an automaton, Black left him so it would be a while before he could say much anyway, one-eyed Cossack prick.
“Party’s already on, and nobody’s going to die, at least not from mustard gas. The buildings all around striking distance have been cleared. It will just be another gathering of the rich and pretentious, showing off their trophy wives, who will be showing off their Bvlgari, breasts and Botox.”
“Guess I don’t get to strut my stuff.”
“We’re going home. While champagne flows on the roof, I’m going to eat and to bed, Chan and I are exhausted.”
Our van comes equipped with a vinyl tarp on the floor, no seats, a few million disinfectant wipes, and a change of clothes. There’s a pail of bleach for us to drop in our chains, knives, shuriken and Nikko’s nunchucks. While they soak, we strip, wash Nikko’s katana, and put on monk’s robes. Hair washing and the rest of it will wait.
We take our weapons and scurry into the apartment from the rear entrance. The van disappears. Our clothes and shoes head for an incinerator, rolled up the vinyl tarp.
Janah calls Marconi’s, we shower, I go downstairs to pick up the delivery. We feast, Janah even has an extra glass of wine with Nikko, I have Perrier, pretentious, but, hey, I’m superficial, remember?
We take Janah, bleary eyed and moving slow, to toothbrush and toilet, then to bed. She tosses and turns for ten seconds. I curl up with Nikko, nobody moves until ten the next morning.

Chapter Nineteen VI

The more boring a child is, the more the parents receive adulation for being good parents — because they have a tame child-creature in their house.
"Ben Watson interviews Frank Zappa" October 1993 (Mojo Magazine)

We call the moms and Mrs. Epstein, beg off any visits until tomorrow. School is in session, Lacy is working. Janah will hook up with her at five for yoga, then Ning and I will make dinner. We’ll graze and enjoy the kids.
Until then, it’s just us, for R&R in the apartment.
I call Mini to let him know we’re okay while Janah rings Mrs. Fong.
Mini, “Hey Daph, Mo called, said the party went off without a hitch, also mentioned some guys in the Bronx, in a state of deceasedness.”
“Wow, wonder what happened?”
“There was also a load of handle with care material, very handle with care.”
“I trust it was handled with care.”
“I know it ain’t gonna stop you, but if you or your friends wind up with any aftershock, I want to know, like yesterday. You gotta a lot more friends now, solid friends. Word travels in our world. They know what went down last night wasn’t no accident, and that you guys are the reason there wasn’t no massacre. Our people are real New York. Yeah, some are criminal criminals; can’t get by in the straight world, but they’re protective about the city, particularly since the Trade Center thing.”
“We had lots of help, and some luck.”
Mini, “The problem, which may not be one, is that people know who did the clean-up. The ones I’m talking about would throw roses at your feet. But if they know….”
“Some others are not going to be very happy with us. We cost them a lot of money, bumped some of their friends, and crashed their party crashing. I get it.”
Mini, “You covered?”
“Like a quilt. It’s not us that I have to worry about.”
Mini, “Family. That’s part of the reason I’m calling. Everyone needs to go on a trip. In a different name, with additional coverage. You can do that?”
“I can do that. You wouldn’t be calling if someone hadn’t made threats, or at least implied retribution.”
“Make the trip arrangements, come to the diner tomorrow, in the afternoon when it’s slow. We’ll have a meet.”
“See you, and thanks.”
We click off.
Janah, on the phone with Mrs. Fong, gets a version of the same message. Some dipshit is leaking details to the jihad jack-offs. They are most annoyed that we out-jihaded them, like it’s my fault we get game better than Allah.
Janah, “Please call a family meeting at the condo. The Murakami’s we’ll visit separately, Lacy will be okay here. So, let’s see, the moms, dad, Black and Sonia, I don’t think they have a clue about Sonia’s dad. Mrs. Fong isn’t leaving town for any reason. I don’t think they can know about the Epsteins, but I’ll tell them and they can decide.”
Nikko, “And us?”
Janah, “We’re going to root this out and kill it.”
Nikko suppresses a grin.
I call the moms, say we’d had a change of plan and we’d see them this afternoon, “And make sure dad’s home.”
Janah calls Lacy, gives her a heads up.
Then she calls Mrs. Epstein, “I’ll be sending photos of rearranged family members. I need passports, ID, credit cards, bank accounts, the works.”
They hang up, Mrs. Epstein doesn’t need to be hit on the head with a mallet. There is trouble and the Society will help deal.
We go to the condo at three.
Sis, “What’s up?”
I give them the rundown, “Change your appearance, nothing drastic, travel arrangements will be made. You will be accompanied by monks you don’t know and don’t need to know and employees of Adrianna. These guys will look like what you’d expect, bulldozers in suits.”
Chris, “Why monks and bulldozers?”
“Monks will be invisible, if someone comes after you, They’ll be focused on bodyguards and blind to the monks.”
Kara, “I guess we find out where we’re going eventually.”
“Dress casually for travel, bring whatever, you’re flying private so baggage check in isn’t an issue. Don’t drag along too much, think of it as a shopping trip. When you get where you’re going, you’ll understand. Now, let’s get busy with makeup and hair dye so I can get the photos to Mrs. E. Decide what color you want, I have some of everything.”
We spend the next two hours coloring hair, applying makeup, and giving dad as much of a makeover as you can do with a guy. Non-prescription glasses, a fedora, color his brown hair with its tinges of grey, solid black. Janah shows him how to apply a bronzer to his face, and he would have to lose his dress shirts for a pullover and dark silk shirt, his slacks for jeans, and his slip on leather shoes for sneakers.
I photograph them, send the images to Mrs. Epstein. They leave day after tomorrow.
The Society has an account with Blue Sky, a private passenger jet firm. There aren’t any other passengers besides the monks. Arianna’s men will be at the arrival airport and the hotel.
They are flown to the Bahamas. The Ocean Club on Paradise Island. Two Ocean View suites, the hotel has only a hundred rooms, it isn’t a high rise mess, two stories.
Janah calls Mrs. Fong again, “Chan is taking Ning and the kids to the temple. They will be fine, what about the Shan family?”
Mrs. Fong, “You think old lady is a fool?”
Janah, “Just checking, I have to cover all the bases, you understand?”
“No trouble in Chinatown. I tell friends, no trouble, none. Not an argument. Peace only, or severe consequences. Also call all of Master Sylk’s young friends. I tell them anything out of ordinary, anything, they are to come to Fong, and send someone for Chan. They will watch. If a bird drops in a new location, I will know.”
“Excellent. We’ll be in touch.”
“Kill them all and be done with it.”
“It will be handled.”
They click off.
The next afternoon, Janah, Nikko and I are in the Village Diner storage room; it serves as a quiet meeting place for meetings that don’t happen.
Mini, “I got it on very good a-tority, that certain elements of the Islamic persuasion ain’t real happy with the outcome of your interference with their plan to gas a few hundred of New York’s upper class types.”
Janah, “And any idea who these disappointed people might be?”
“Yeah, a real good idea. There’s a, what do you call their churches?”
“Yeah. Anyway, in a mosque in Brooklyn there is reputed to be one of their preachers.…”
“Clerics, Imam, Mullah.’
“Yeah, one of those, who ain’t so friendly with the American way of life, particularly the New York way of life, in the upper class sense.”
“And who might this cleric be, and where is he likely to be found?”
Mini hands her a small envelope. In it is a picture of the cleric, and the address of his home and the mosque.
“Russian involvement?”
“Word has it, the Russian is independent. The Russian Mafia could give a shit. As a matter of fact, they ain’t too happy with the increased surveillance, and interruption of their flow of sex and drug traffic. Your Russian boy ain’t likely to make it to the next subway stop once he’s been debriefed by the Feds.”
“He’s blank. He can’t give anybody anything. I don’t like our side any better than their side. I don’t like ‘sides.’ They’re all criminals, just different team colors. The Russian wore the color of the day.”
“Okay, so the real problem is this preacher, the Mullah, whateva’.”
“What got this guy so jacked that he wanted to douse people with mustard gas?”
“Come on J, you already know.”
“Because the city didn’t want to put a mosque near ground zero.”
“That, other stuff, America corrupting Muslim girls, is that stupid or what?”
“All religion is fear and ignorance, but that’s beside the point right at the moment. We can go deal with the cleric and his immediate buddies. Then there’s more irate Islamists. That’s the problem with these things. Like whack-a-mole.”
“Is it a soft sell deal, or a Nikko kills everybody deal””
“I don’t know, won’t know until I’m in front of him. I’ll chat with him. When we’re done chatting, I’ll know if he’s got a life, or he doesn’t.”
Mini looks at Nikko, “Kiddo, sometimes you gotta stroke the tiger, not just bury it. I ain’t holdin’ out much hope for this crowd though.”
Nikko is a blank. I know she’s hoping some of the clerics associate dingbats might wander into the wrong neighborhood on their own.
“We still need to be on high alert, Nishiko. First, we have to capture the flag, then watch while Master J does her voodoo.”
Nikko is a stone, when she’s really aggravated, she shuts down.

Chapter Twenty VI

Two cars get family to the Ocean Club. The moms go straight to Marina Village, buy a couple of simple shifts each, bikinis, sandals, make-up, hats and sunscreen. Stuff for James, clothes, sandals, toiletries. He wisely stays in the suite with a dozen bottles of cold Kalik Gold, extra strength Bahamian beer, resting comfortably in the refrigerator. On the balcony reading, then wisely puts the book away, opens a beer and watches the ocean. He worries about us, then decides it would have been more worry if the family stayed in town.
While the moms plot dinner, tonight at the Dune, very pricey, very good, James remains relaxed on the balcony. Kara brings him a Glenlivet 18 on the rocks, they  enjoy the nothing, make love before dinner, meet Susan and Chris at eight in the restaurant.
While the family dines and drinks Cristal in Bermuda, Janah is in the meditation loft going over the plan, she wakes early the next morning and calls you know who.
“Mrs. E, good morning. I have need of a particularly crafty Surveillance team.”
“Where and who?”
Janah sends the photo of the Mullah and location of the mosque.
“I need to know his habits, and particularly, is he ever alone enough to pick up? We need to have a chat.”
Mrs. Epstein, “Back to you in a few, maybe less if the schedule is regular. Likely some of our friends are already familiar with his routine, we may not need much from Surveillance. His type generally have the FBI on their ass twenty four seven.”
Janah, “Ah, I hadn’t thought of that, duh, rather obvious.”
“I’ll have what they have in an hour, let me know if you want more.”
Janah clicks off, “Well we have an hour to kill, perhaps someone could jump me.”
Nikko and I clear her mind for the next hour, evaporate it actually. The website appears by magic, Janah’s at the computer. Nikko and I, well let’s say we don’t go to the computer. We don’t use any electronic devices whatsoever, all purely Grade A organic orgasmic. We’re into post lovemaking making out when Janah hops into bed.
“Taliban is another name for ‘student,’ I didn’t know that. Students that need to be sent to the principal’s office. The guy we’re checking out, Farzam, last name Noor Agha, has tangential relations with subordinates of Mullah Omar, the Afghani who started the Taliban. He’s thought to have had a heart attack, but those reports have been discounted. He’s also reported to have been turned against al Qaeda, nobody really knows what the heck these people think. They pledge allegiance depending on who they had tea with last.”
Nikko, “They’re religious, start with a lie, build on it with more lies. They get lied to, they lie, it’s a vicious circle of deception and counter deception. There is no honor in such things, on either side.”
Janah, “We don’t do politics for just that reason. Our government would lie to us to meet some agenda if we were stupid enough to believe them. I’m even taking the FBI data with a grain of salt, two grains.”
Janah calls Chan, “I need bird watchers, the birds watch the humans. I have a photo and a location.”
Half an hour later we’re on the roof, David Li surrounded by pigeons, a peregrine duo and two owls. Miraculously, he’d found a great horned owl living in the Ramble in Central Park, and a barn owl from who knows where.
The birds are sitting silently either on the rooftop itself, or the brick walls around the roof. David is silent, but it is evident he’s talking with them.
With a wave of his hand they take flight en mass, circle the roof, then towards Brooklyn.
Janah, “Chan, take your family to the temple. We will wait for word from our friends. I don’t trust the FBI. They may be right on, but I want my own surveillance, nothing is better than David’s friends for invisibility.”
A car comes, there will be no walking through Manhattan with the children, even with Chan, even surrounded by Shaolin. Farzam was willing to lob mustard gas all over the upper east side, Janah presumes blowing up an entire block to kill the Li family wouldn’t faze his non-existent conscience.
The temple remains guarded, although most people outside Chinatown don’t even know it’s there. Mrs. Fong has every asset at her disposal watching the streets. Kids are everywhere with cells, IPhones, BlackBerrys and any other android available.
The whole show gives Janah an insight about what to do next. She has Adrianna Palumbo’s men on the case, the birds, Mrs. Fong and Mini’s friends. She has so much weight, it’s going to pressure Farzam beyond endurance.
She calls him directly, and after dropping a few names, a voice says, “To whom do I owe this trouble?”
Janah, “Good. You recognize there is trouble. You hired the Russian for hardware, the plan didn’t work. I am the reason for that.”
“I have no time for the ramblings of a woman.”
“Outside, there are three SUVs, black, behind the mosque, at the rear exit there are three more. On each corner you will see men congregated. Various nationalities, none Muslim. You will need to meet with me, or they will never go away. You will rot in that building, never see your family, completely out of communication with the world. There will be no Homeland Security, no FBI. As soon as I hang up, you will not be able to reach a living soul except those trapped inside with you. The water will be cut off, the lights will go out. If you or anyone inside attempts to leave, they will die as dishonorable a death as can be devised, and their head will be sent to their children courtesy of Mullah Farzam. The families will be told you, Farzam, had them beheaded for disloyalty, for blasphemy, and their families will live in disgrace forever. Then we will come for you. Or, you can take a meeting with me. You have twenty seconds to decide, then the lights go out.”
Farzam mumbled something to an assistant, “You must give me the courtesy of verifying your story.”
Janah, “Ten seconds.”
She hears Farzam shouting, then, with two seconds left, he says, “Today, at six p.m.”
Janah establishes control, “Tomorrow at nine a.m. I have more pressing matters than you, Farzam. Enjoy your evening in darkness. Pray to your God for my goodwill.”
She hangs up, power is cut to the mosque, all communications blocked, cell signals jammed. There are two underground exits, they’re sealed. If they have candles and flashlights, so be it. The plumbing won’t work, neither the NYPD, nor emergency agencies will appear. The place is shut tighter than a frog’s ass.
Down in Paradise Island, it’s getting on ten p.m. The family is having drinks on the deck of the Dune Restaurant overlooking the beach.
Chris, “Why am I not worried? We’re here in a splendid resort, and our girls are….”
Susan doesn’t say anything, James replies, “What would be the point?”
Susan, “That’s kind of where I’m at. We were only going to be another nuisance if we stayed. Janah will figure out what to do and Daphne, Nikko and the others will do it. They don’t have us distracting them. They had to take on that job, saved who knows how many lives. They’ll call tomorrow, we’ll get an update. In the meantime, not to enjoy this would be to deny their effort to take us out of harm’s way.”
Chris, “Now I know why I’m not worried. I’ll demonstrate my appreciation later, let's see... a shot of Patron.”
Shots are poured, Kalik is poured, Chris and James go with the Bahamian Strong Black Stout. A toast to their girls, sip the Patron, followed by a swallow of the chosen beer. In an hour, everyone’s pleasantly swizzled.
Then off to the suites, and sweets.
In Manhattan, we’re up this morning at six. Locked and loaded for eight, and outside the mosque at eight-thirty.
Janah almost has to laugh, the place is so strapped down, between flights of birds, Mafioso’s, Shaolin disciples, men from Mini’s former life, and, surprising even Janah, Mini himself.
“You didn’t think I was gonna just call in an order? This is special delivery. It’s my city, no cocksucker threatens my girls in my city.”
Janah, “Thank you. How are the neighbors holding up?”
“All the crews been making personal visits. Turns out even the Muslim families around here don’t much like this guy. The ones who do were smart enough to lay low. Coupla’ disciples I heard called Sensitives, have been walking the neighborhood, and inside some of the buildings. They found a coupla’ hot spots, not fun hot spots, and I sent guys to do a little inquiry. They are sitting on the disgruntled as we speak. Somebody will eventually complain to the city, or the cops, though.”
Janah, “They’ll be respectfully stonewalled. If they call the media, we’ll have a problem, and the locals will soon want to get in the mosque for prayers.”
Mini, “You just pay attention, if you come out with so much as a broken fingernail, I’m gonna clean out the mosque and every asshole in it.”
Janah, “Handsome, you’d have to get in line behind Nishiko. She despises the whole male domination thing. Then to encourage young girls to blow themselves up for Allah, that’s way beyond her tolerance capacity.”
Mini, “Yeah, okay, but be careful anyway. These shitheels might blow up themselves and you to prove a point.”
Janah, “Well, that’s true, except, did you ever notice that the Mullah’s never kill themselves? Generosity I guess, letting others have all those virgins.”
Mini, “Fuck. You know, you’re right. No balls themselves, just send someone else out to die.”
Janah, “Like political and religious leaders everywhere. You notice any of our Generals or politicians dying for their country?”
Mini, “World’s fucked up isn’t it?’
Janah, “We can’t change the world. We can get this guy off his cloud though. And it’s nine, time to clean out the clerics.”

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