Chapter Twenty Five IV

Females sometimes kill and eat their counterparts
after mating in a macabre behavior that gave the insect its name.
Black widows are solitary year-round except during this violent mating ritual.

Marsconi doesn’t know Janah is involved, not yet. His offhand, ‘this would take a Janah,’ was overheard by one of Mo’s friends. Mo is the Mayor’s bodyguard, labeled an executive assistant. He called an associate that happened to be a Society contact. She called Mrs. Epstein.
In order to avoid confusing the issue of Janah’s involvement, Marsconi is unaware of the Society’s existence, she calls him directly.
“Hi Mike, this is Janah. I’m interested in this black widow case you’re handling. I may be able to help, if you are agreeable of course.”
“For you, I’m agreeable. What do you know, or need to know?”
“I had occasion to check you out on video. You happened to be interviewing the very lady herself.”
“How in hell did you….never mind, stupid question, I don’t want to know, do I?”
“Can’t imagine why you would. Here’s my two cents. She’s lying, at the very least about one murder. She was not in the galley when lucky hubbie number three fell off the boat. She’s not upset by any of the deaths, she’s a very skilled liar and she’s going to find another fool and kill him. All the bodies were cremated, except the last one. It’s in the morgue awaiting a decision on the investigation I understand.”
“The autopsy confirmed a heroin overdose. He was an addict, the record is clear on that. We have nothing to show she injected him, only his prints on the syringe and the plastic bag the drug was in. Of course, she could have used any syringe, or worn surgical gloves.”
“You’ve released her.”
“Hand nothing to hold her on. The insurance company will do more investigation before they cough up any policy money, she gets a substantial inheritance besides the insurance, three million I think. The insurance is another million. I have to say, it’s hard to work up much sympathy for a guy who marries a woman with her history.”
Janah, “People often feel they have special judgment or insight others lack. It’s one reason depressed people are in many ways more realistic. They don’t have misguided optimism.”
“Any optimism, misguided or otherwise, that I can find something to nail Jacobs with?’
“Let me think it over. It will take a while for her to dig up a new husband to bury. In the meantime, I’ll keep an eye on her. I’m thinking she may change her pattern."
“What so you mean?"
“The accidental death of the husband thing is wearing out. This was four. It will be difficult to find a new husband at this point. Maybe she gets lucky, but she’s in the news now, not in a good way. I think she’s far more likely to off the next one before he becomes a husband. Money is not the motivation.”
Marsconi, “What? Then what in hell is?”
Janah, “Attention. Enough to get her suspected, investigated, and in the press. It’s all about the razor’s edge thrill. For her, the money is only a happy coincidence.”
“Jesus Christ, it’s not for the money. How in hell did you figure that out, are you sure?”
“Sure enough to call you. I think the first husband dies under weird circumstances, she gets questions from the cops. How did her husband just ski off the edge of a cliff? Conveniently no one else was on that part of the slope. The ski boundary was marked but it was snowing and hard to see. I can’t figure how she gets him to ski off a cliff, pushing him is rather bizarre, he was a decent sized guy. I suppose she could have whacked him with a ski pole. At any rate, she gets a dopamine buzz from the excitement. Nothing else can replace it, so she goes in search of a similar thrill, and gets it.”
“Man, that’s cold, I’ve investigated killing for money, revenge, anger and jealousy. I’ve even seen murder done for the thrill of killing. I’ve never seen murder done for the thrill of being suspected.”
“Chasing down the drowning, with a cremated body, is a dead end. It’s the main thing I have her lying about, and my testimony about it isn’t going to fly anyway. I don’t have any other suggestions at the moment. In a way, I guess I’m making it frustrating for you.”
“I’m already frustrated. I can’t follow this woman around the rest of my life, I got other cases. Unlike the cop movies, life’s too short for me to obsess about cases I can’t make.”
“I need a favor. Nothing active, you can move on to your more promising investigations. The favor is, this conversation never happened.”
“What conversation?”
Janah, “If anything should turn up, you’ll hear from me.”
Marsconi, “This woman is dangerous….what am I saying? You got friends that make her look like a happy puppy. Maybe I should warn her to be careful of you.”
Janah laughs, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
They hang up.
"Marsconi seems to think you have questionable associates."
Janah, "Marsconi’s right."
“I don’t see a plan in that brain.”
“Even you can’t see what isn’t there. I need to think.”
“Nikko and I are going to beat each other up for a while, you need us to go to the gym?”
“No, I’ll go to the meditation loft and disappear. The sound of you throwing each other around is soothing. Once I drift off, I won’t hear anything anyway.”
I turn to Nikko, “Let’s have fun with pain, Janah needs to think.”
Nikko blinks, giddy with anticipation.

Twenty Six IV

Smack, snack, sex, sleep, scrabble, sex, sing...simple
Nikko Murakami

Nikko and I are on the mat recovering, drinking water and trying to get strained wrists and ankles into a semblance of working order. Janah comes down from the loft,
“Strip and one of you get on the massage table. Maybe working on you will help something come to mind on the Jacobs thing.”
Nikko limps to the table. Janah slathers her with liniment, pushes and prods the muscles for half an hour. She does the same for me then herds us into the shower. While we scrub, she sits in the tub and bubbles. I make a light supper, pasta salad, grill a dozen jumbo shrimp for Nikko and me. Janah has champagne, Nikko red wine, I sip a Coke Zero and we sprawl on the mat for an hour of television, accompanied by dark chocolate brownies and vanilla bean ice cream.
Janah, “I think making love to you both might help loosen my mind and release some ideas. Nikko first, then my other.”
I occupy Nikko’s face and lips while Janah occupies everything else, Nikko has a lovely tension releasing orgasm. Janah switches to me, and, within a few minutes, I’m tension free as well.
“Nothing yet?”
Janah, “Blank as the village idiot. Maybe if you two double teamed me, something would happen.”
Many things happen in the next thirty minutes, none of them produce a way to deal with Mrs. Jacobs.
Janah, “Dang, I thought the Three Ms, meditation, massage and multiple orgasms, would pop open my brain. I must be missing something.”
Nikko comes out of the bathroom wearing a strap on Janah is particularly fond of, “Mistress can work on your brain, I’ll pop open the rest of you.”
Janah sighs, “Industrious Japanese genius.”
She hasn’t formulated a plan for Jacobs by the time we curl up. Still, the sincere effort to stimulate creativity has at least put everyone into a cheery cathartic catatonia.
It’s Saturday, Nikko and I are in the kitchen, I’m creating a breakfast extravaganza, just because. Nikko is helping by covering my neck and face with random kisses, hands busy exploring, just because. I go to my other’s mind and get her stirring, Nikko follows up by bringing Janah a cup of tea. Ten minutes later we’re around the table, big plate of red and yellow pepper scrambled eggs, bowl of cheese grits, fresh strawberries with crème fraiche and fluffy mega biscuits.
Lacy opens the door, “Yum, timing is everything.”
She kisses us, I pour her a cup of coffee, and the four of us have an eat-a-thon for the next half hour, with occasional interruptions for small talk.
Lacy and Nikko clean up, freshen drinks, Lacy asks, “Anything interesting going on?”
Janah tells her about Jacobs.
Lacy, “Man, that’s been all over the news. No mention of you guys.”
“Janah just got involved yesterday, with the understanding we aren’t involved. She’s tried to come up with an elegant solution that doesn’t require dropping Jacobs into shark infested waters. Nothing yet.”
Lacy, “You tried the usual stimulants?”
Daphne, “Nikko even brought out the big gun.”
“Geez, she really is drawing a blank.”
They go to Lacy’s for yoga, Nikko and I occupy ourselves with manicures and pedicures, call Ning, then Nikko calls Susan and invites the family over for dinner. James and Kara are going out with friends, Susan says she and Chris would show at seven with wine. Eight for dinner, plus the two kids.
Nikko and Ning to the store, return around one, put the groceries away. Janah is on the couch with the baby, Chan sitting on the floor playing a video game with David.
Janah holds the baby out to Nikko. She takes her, nestles in the corner of the couch and begins to sing softly. David turns off the game, his memory of Nikko’s songs still captivates him, he sits next to her on the couch, lays his head in her lap and looks up at his beautiful aunt. Chan stays cross legged on the floor, joined by Janah. Ning and I chop vegetables. The apartment is quiet, except for Nikko’s soft song. The ballad of the brave Samurai she first sang for David in the Canadian forest two years earlier, and many times since. When that one ended, Nikko goes straight into a musical poem she constructed in honor of Miyako Shan Li. Ning insisted on a Japanese name, which means beautiful night child, then Shan, which is her maiden name which coincidentally is ‘mountain’ in Chinese. She managed to honor Nikko, and name the baby after the beautiful night on the mountain in Canada where Miyako was conceived.

Twenty Seven IV

I’m serving dinner, the chatter is chaotic. Chan and little David are up against six females randomly discussing, work, schools, training, the two children, and updates on the Epsteins, Ning’s family and Nikko’s mom and dad. That lasts through dinner and dessert.
I update the family on the Jacobs story.
“I think she’s finally come up with a plan.”
Chris, “Good thing. Does it involve Nikko and I going to explain the consequences of bad behavior to her.”
Janah, “I was almost there. I’ve found something interesting I want to try. It will take time and a bit of dramatics. I think in about three months, we can break Mrs. Jacobs of her obsessive need for attention.’
Susan, “How?’
Janah, “By giving her what she wants.”
Chris, “Ohhhh, that’s good, that’s very good. You are so bad…that’s so good.”
Ning, “You’re going to stalk her?”
Janah, “Sort of, yes. I’m going to get her apartment bugged, I’m going to have her followed and photographed. She’s getting some of it now, while she’s still news. But she’ll eventually slip back into press obscurity.”
Lacy, ‘You’re not going to do it like paparazzi?”
 “No, I’m not putting her life on Facebook, she’ll just get a fringe of nut-jobs who think she’s just dandy candy. I’m going to feed it back directly to her until she’s sick of it.”
Chris, “How are you going to get all this?”
“Better if you don’t know.”
Susan, “I’m for that.”
“I will need you for tech work, video editing, and a hack or two.”
Susan, “Let me know what and when.”
“A mother daughter project of dubious legality.”
Susan, “There’s nothing dubious, it’s illegal.”
“Such rigid thinking. When sites we visit slap cookies all over our hard drive, nobody thinks anything about it. I see us as Mrs. Jacobs’ cookie monsters. We are going to empower her to make significantly gentler life decisions about the life spans of the men in her life, lifely speaking.”
“Well, now that you’ve explained it.
Six weeks later, Susan and I are in her office, splicing and dicing Kendra Jacobs daily activities. Kendra doesn’t ramble on to herself when she’s alone, but, like most of us, she says enough out loud to get a lot of material over six weeks.
We have tons of video of Kendra’s normal daily activity, the Society’s people follow her around, surreptitiously making her star of her own show. Kendra walking to the coffee shop and voiced over tiny snippets of Kendra talking to herself in the apartment. The revised video shows Kendra ordering a drink from the kid behind the counter, then her voice says, ‘stupid fucking cops’ then the conversation continues, ‘that’ll be four fifty seven ma’am, out of five.’ She gets her change, drops it in the tip jar, her voice says, ‘not now,’ then she collects her drink and leaves the store.
Later in the video, she’s shopping in a shoe store, the clerk brings out a box, then, just a flash, she’s sitting nude, then she’s just trying on the shoes as normal.
Susan took a snippet of video of Kendra at the vanity of her condo and slipped it in the shoe store video. She removed all the context, there is nothing in the frame indicating Kendra was at her own vanity.
We send her an e-mail with a link, the e-mail is from an address in the name of her first husband.
Kendra logs on to her computer, checks her e-mail. Janah is watching her. She spots the one from her long deceased husband, she hesitates, the microphone picks up her voice, “E-mail from a dead man.”
She opens it, reads the note, ‘I’m watching over you.’ She clicks the link and sits stupefied by a video of her in a coffee shop and shoe store.
“What did I say ‘stupid fucking cop’ for? I don’t remember saying that.”
She watches, fascinated.
“What was that! It looked like I was naked for a second???”
When the video finishes, it disappears. There’s not only no video, there’s no copy of the e-mail.
“What the hell….?”
It’s like a dream. She checks the trash file, nothing, she logs off and logs on again, nothing.
“Where did it go, it can’t just disappear like that? Can it?”
She wonders if she just imagined it, “No, I saw it. I just frigging saw it.”
Janah thinks, ‘Before long, she’ll be hearing herself say the same things in a different context.’
By collecting six weeks of material from inside and outside Jacobs’ apartment, we insure it will be a while before the woman grasps that her apartment is bugged. By using flashes of video of Jacobs’ face and body, nothing related to the apartment, and snippets of self talk, then attaching them to completely different contexts, Janah thinks she might never catch on. We see ourselves in a scene, we hear ourselves say something, our brain associates what we see with what we say. It’s not going to mentally reach back for self talk from weeks earlier. (unless you’re hyperthymesian, see Book I Chapter Twenty Six)
It takes two weeks for Jacobs to call her lawyer. He thinks she might be losing it. She tries forwarding him one of the e-mails before she opened it, but it disappears in cyberspace.
He has a better idea, “Next time, call me before you open it, then I’ll come over and we’ll look at it from your machine.’
The problem is she doesn’t get any more e-mails from dead husbands. She gets text messages, opens a couple, different versions of the same story. She calls her lawyer again, but the texts disappear, nothing to show him.
“Kendra, you have to stop this. If you need my attention, let’s just go for a drink, or dinner. Maybe you need professional help, a doctor, I know several good ones.”
“Fuck you, asshole,” she hangs up on him.
She starts getting e-mails again, unable to resist, she opens them. Everyplace she goes, it seems she is recorded, and she says strange things, out of context. She notices there is no reaction from whoever she’s talking to, like she’d never said it. ‘Why is that?’ she wonders. Who is doing this? And what do they want?’ The idea that it is actually dead husbands seems ridiculous, but she knows people who go to astrologers, fortune tellers and palm readers. She’d always thought it baloney. Now she doesn’t know what to think.
Kendra obliterated any tolerance of her friends by the time the fourth husband died. Her husband’s friends who attended the memorial service barely spoke to her. With the exception of a dozen or so murder groupies, she’s completely alone in a city of millions. She gets an e-mail replay of her movements every week. It’s accurate, but doesn’t seem to be in order. She remembers going to the dry cleaners, then for coffee, but in the video it’s just the opposite.
In the video she says, just after handing the clothes to the woman behind the counter, ‘the fuckers are fucking dead, they don’t send fucking e-mails.’
The woman doesn’t change expression, only says the clothes will be ready day after tomorrow.
She couldn’t have really said that, but it was her voice. She’d said some version of that phrase a dozen times in the last four weeks, at home, to herself she thought.
‘Am I starting to blurt out things in public?’ Panicky. Then, ‘But nobody reacts to these stupid things I say. How can someone be getting my thoughts onto a video of my daily life?’
She starts racing through the apartment, looking for hidden recorders, cameras, turned her television set to the wall, closes her laptop, cranks up the sound system and plays music. She’d seen the movies, turn up the volume to mask any conversation. She vows never to talk to herself, at least not out loud.

Chapter Twenty Eight IV

Keep it dark
Keith Richards

Janah, “People talk to themselves, but they frequently don’t remember saying it out loud. I’m using the disconnect to mess with her mind. She’s getting a clue, maybe figuring out she’s bugged.”
Chris, “I need to listen to myself. What do I say when I’m talking to myself, Susan? Do you even notice?”
“It’s mostly when you’re writing. Simple stuff, you might say, ‘This plot line makes no sense,’ or ‘what the hell did I name the second thief?’ then you’ll try to rattle off some names.
“Thanks to you, it gets figured out. Susan said I had a guy named Monty changed to Marty two pages later. Rather than go back and look, I think I’ve remembered accurately.”
“We do that all the time. We remember left turns as right, cold days as colder than they were, keys in the drawer, not on the counter, and over time we remember incidents that didn’t happen at all, ones we only dreamed. The brain thinks it’s a memory of an actual event. Then there’s all the stuff we just forget. Except Ange Blanc. She remembers what happened, and she doesn’t forget unless she wants to.”
Chris, “Wait, you can forget on purpose?”
Janah, “Well, I can erase, so, yes, I guess I can forget on purpose. I have to check with Daphne first, in case she wants to remember.”
Susan, “Wait….if you delete a memory, it goes out of Daphne’s brain too?”
I answer, “Let’s see, Sis, how to explain? If it’s something that I did, or happened to me, then she can’t erase it, it kind of goes into the recycle bin. If it’s something I let her do the remembering about, and then she erases it, I can’t retrieve it. So she asks me if I want this or that information. If I do, and she doesn’t, then she downloads it into my head. It mostly goes the other way. She keeps the information, the data, I keep the sensory skills.”
Susan, “Cripes, you two are too strange; I don’t even want to think about thinking about that, where were we?”
Janah, “And when we do remember things, we often remember them in the context of ourselves then, not now. A childhood home we return to twenty years later looks tiny compared to our remembered view when we moved at age five. The house didn’t shrink, we grew.”
Nikko, “This is all very intellectual and highbrow, how long do we play with the Jacobs woman?”
Janah, “You sound more like Daphne every day, ‘get to the point, get to the point.’
Nikko, “Domo….so, get to the point.”
Janah laughs, “Geez…two more weeks, then I call her. We pulled the bugs, there’s nothing to find. Our external listening devices give us more than enough fresh material, and I wanted the cameras out of there before we start anything.”
Nikko, “I’ll be glad to be done with her. I don’t even have to do all the digital fixes Sis and Daphne do and I’m still tired of this woman. Apart from killing her husbands, she’s incredibly boring.”
Janah shrugs, “Perhaps she is. I’d say right now she’s keeping a low profile for obvious reasons, plus the confusion of someone out there who seems to know her very dreams.
Jacobs starts staying at home. She gets deliveries when she can and barely peeks out of her doorway otherwise. The Society still monitors the sounds in her apartment via external listening devices. Despite her vow, she’s talking to herself even more. She paces, rambles, tries to watch television, read, she can’t focus for more than ten minutes, then she’s up again, jabbering, talking to her dead husbands.
It’s an unexpected development. Essentially we’re collecting a confession, although the comments are disjointed, she reveals a few details of the murders.
Janah mostly guessed correctly, she hadn’t murdered the first husband, he missed a turn skiing too fast and sailed out into space before crashing to the rocks below. But the excitement of even short lived suspicion by the police led her to kill number two by adding potassium chloride to his IV drip during the small hours of the morning. She’d simply hidden in the restroom until things got quiet, done the deed and skipped down the stairwell and out of the front door. She hadn’t seen a soul, dressed in scrubs, little green cap and all.
Number three got drunk on the boat, she smashed his head against the boom and helped him over the side, made sure he floated face down long enough to drown. Then, true to her story, she went to the galley and made lunch for two, brought it up to the deck and ‘discovered’ the horrible accident. She even laughs as she recounts events to herself, ‘Good thing I didn’t eat the lunch,’ realizing her story wouldn’t make much sense if she had.
Number four was easy. He’d returned to his heroin habit, shot himself up. In his stupor, she double juiced him and he was dead in minutes. She incinerated the syringe she’d used, left the one he used in plain sight. Despite Marsconi’s suspicions, there was no place to go with the investigation. Husband was an addict, he overdosed.
Janah has enough detail, even a taped ‘confession,’ and nothing legal to do with it.
She’s concocted a more adventuresome approach.

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