Chapter Thirty Three
The absurdity of the movie and its insane characters appeals to our stitched together family. It's a bit of slapstick, not so much as to interfere with the verbal jousting that's our preferred form of humor. Under the Coen's guidance, it's at the edge of sensibility, not too much over. The Coens wrote the script with Jeff Dowd, who was the original Dude, an independent film maker.
At breakfast, Chloe says, "That was a funny film, I must be on another planet, I'd never heard of it."
"It was first run when you were barely past toddler, still on that soybean farm with the deranged sister and father, no TV, certainly no movies. Nobody else in our family had seen it either, just Janah and me years ago, I kind of forgot about it. It was fun to see it again."
Amaya, "The Coen adaptation of No Country for Old Men was just the opposite, savage and brutal throughout, only the darkest humor, so dark it got lost in scary, a coin toss for your life? Imagine."
Dasha, "Dahfoney, you will find No Old Men Country, we will watch maybe Sahturday night, haf buffet, cocktail."
"Great, prepare to freak, Anton Chigur is an awesome character."
Nikko, "It's just going to give the twins ideas."
I laugh, "As opposed to the samurai and her katana?"
Nikko, "That's a point, anyway I like the movie.."
Amaya, "Good, now I am all pumped to see it again. We shall have a long version tea ceremony in the afternoon, then cocktails, then a splendid buffet spiced by an engrossing, brutal, nerve wracking moral tale, so says Rotten Tomatoes. It won Best Picture, plus four other Oscars, and a host of other awards.."
Zi, "Do you want to come with us to the office today, Dasha?"
Amaya, "Then you and Daria get upstairs, I will make you professionally perfect."
And so she does. The twins come down in snug sheath skirts, black, cut to the knee, Marni closed toe slip-ons, black of course. Silk blouses, grey for Daria with a darker grey wool jacket, purple for Dasha with a black lambskin short waist jacket.
Zi, "Wow, beautiful, look Nikko."
Dasha, "Eemaya says we must make top look for beezness. Murakami Sylk ees top office for elephant style, so we haf to be also elephant."
I nearly spray my mouthful of coffee all over them, Chloe looks mystified.
Amaya, "Elegant...ell-eh-gant, sheesh, it is not a zoo, it is an office, an ell-eh-gant one."
Chloe giggles, "Sometimes it's a circus around here."
We laugh, Amaya looks at Dasha, "Say it commie, elegant."
Amaya, "No Russian, not eleghatnee, elegant."
Dasha rolls her eyes, "Ellagunt."
Amaya, "Close enough for an English as a non-language student, thank you. And do not come back disheveled, I better not see a single scuff on those five hundred dollar shoes."
Nikko, "Five hun...criminey, let's get a move on."
Amaya, "They were on sale, down from eight hundred, practically free," she kisses each of the twins, "and you make them even more eleghantnee."
Out they go to do whatever it is that Nikko and Zi do. I don't know squat from property management, guess this evening will be interesting, recap of Dasha's first day in our real estate world. I'm going to stay out of her head, and Daria's, and Nikko's. I have five women who can mental me, some days I have no idea who I am, or even where.
I'm cleaning up breakfast dishes, then hand wash my skillets, we used Ms. Alva's cast iron today. I inherited them over twenty years ago, and she used them for sixty. Like me, cast iron doesn’t die, just gets better with age. These pots and pans could find their way into the twenty second century. Maybe we're cast iron, I'll ask Janah to look into it.
She’s in the exercise room doing yoga with Chloe, I hear the click of Amaya's keyboard. She writes a couple of paragraphs, then stares at them for however long it takes to rewrite, reword or just delete. Then more taps and repeat. After she has a chapter, she reads it aloud, adopts any character voices, then rewrites again. If you didn't know, you would think someone was getting murdered in her room, or yelling at a boyfriend, or there was a drunken Irishman hanging out. Amaya can reproduce any voice, male or female, with accents from around the world and the variances of dialect across the United States.
Today I hear an effete faux intellectual whining about the lack of attention he's getting from his boyfriend, 'One would think Roscoe would appreciate my patience with his brutish behavior. I keep him from sounding like an ignorant Philistine, shore up his intellectual insufficiencies and what do I get in return, nothing, not a flicker of gratitude.'
Another voice drifts out of her room, this one female, Midwestern, 'You could toss him out, he's not the only fish in the sea.'
Effete, 'He's the fish with the most stunning cock I've ever seen, a magnificent work of art. God, it makes me shiver just to contemplate,' I hear Amaya, "Maybe, 'I shiver in contemplation,' more succinct."
I'm laughing, Amaya has almost no graphic sex in her novels, it's mostly implied, but her dialogue around the subject is direct and uncomplicated.
Amaya, Readers of my work don't want complicated, they want action, laughs and insight. I provide those in abundance. I need a better analogy than the trite fish in the sea.
Then star in the sky, grain of sand on the beach are out. How about double entendre, perhaps cock on the walk?
Amaya, Brilliant, let's see, 'he's not the only cock on the walk,' then, 'he has the most beautiful cock of the all cocks on the walk I've seen, and I've seen my share.' Then Midwest says, 'Your share? Dear brother, I recall in high school you sucked a hundred cocks in a hundred days.' Then I play with it from here, it's brother sister banter on a side issue in the story. Thank you Daphne.
Good to have a small role in Amaya's literary efforts, back to housekeeping.
Chapter Thirty Four
Lunchtime rolls around, chicken salad, chips and coleslaw. I wander up to the workshop to find Eloise. Despite Amaya's demand that they come down when called, I'm curious as to what she's working on.
She looks up when I come in, turns off the grinder, "Is it lunch already? I didn't hear anyone on the intercom."
How she could hear anyone with the grinder screeching I decide to ignore, "What are you working on?"
"More rocket tubes, we have thirty or so, but I need Daria to finish coding the voice activation for the drones. There are always workarounds between the code and the hardware, I've taken the hardware as far as I can."
"She'll get to it, the drone capability is already amazing, you and Daria work well together."
"It's all fun for me, Daria doesn't exactly have fun, but I know she likes doing it. She's something, I'm cursing to the machinery when I can't get it right, Daria never ever gets frustrated."
"Frustration's not in her emotional range, time for you to have fun with chicken salad, come downstairs and eat something."
She pulls off her work gloves, pile of metal shavings on the floor, she cranks up the industrial vac and they disappear, she goes to wash her hands then we join Janah, Amaya and Chloe at the table.
Amaya, "What is going on in the workshop, you are not going to incinerate us are you?"
Eloise, "Not today, maybe when Daria gets the code done. Today I'm just grinding rocket tubes."
Janah, "I wonder how many families in Manhattan discuss grinding rocket tubes over lunch?"
"Not many, it's more a Middle Eastern conversation, winding up with one of the kids strapping explosives to themselves."
Amaya, "Eeeww, you are too gruesome Daphne."
"Uh huh, and how many people died today in the new book you're writing?"
"Only one, and she wasn't blown up, killed a more civilized way, a power drill through her forehead."
Macabre discussion doesn't disturb lunch, we're a family of women who kill people occasionally, maim them frequently. When you've sliced off some slime's finger, or taken a head with a katana, chit chat about a fictional death by power drill is acceptable luncheon conversation.
Janah, "I don't suppose Dasha has murdered anyone at the office."
"Nikko would have mentaled. I haven't been following, they need to focus and it will give them something to talk about when they get home."
Janah, "'m in for a short zone out after lunch, if you have time, maybe you can help me relax.
After I deal with dishes, I go up to our room, Janah is stretched nude on the bed, fingers doing self stim. I kneel between her legs and finish what she'd started, rewarded with a soft orgasmic groan of pleasure.
"Lotion my leg."
I straddle the lovely tight thigh, already lubed from my efforts. My eyes close, I watch Janah watching me get off on her lusciousness, then I'm squeezing my legs together when the tsunami hits. Shiver. I lay with her while we drift, merge for a bit in a post climax twilight.
It's gotten around to tea ceremony, four thirty, everyone home, our business women changed out of their 'elephant' outfits and into silk t-shirts or robes. Chloe and Amaya don't kimono, do entertain, one song from Amaya and a flute solo by Chloe.
Girls wander off to rest, read or projects, although after a quick peek in Dasha's head, she, Daria and Eloise have wandered off to sex play. I tune out, sit at the table and conjure up a dinner plan.
Janah, "No cooking, I'll take a walk to the deli with you and we can forage there."
Three roast chickens and vegetable lasagna later, we're back in the apartment. I cut up the chicken into individual pieces, lay them on two pans for warming along with the lasagna. We bought purple cabbage coleslaw with tahini dressing, I stick it in the refrigerator, easy dinner.
Amaya bartends, we sit around the couches and mat while dinner heats, she asks, "How did Dasha's first day as a real estate mogul go?"
Zi, "She was pretty quiet, just observing, I could tell she was mentaling Daria. They weren't playing around, the auras were focused."
"What color is focused?"
Zi, "Red, no, not red, maroon, there was an occasional blink of white, like distant lightening flash. That was Dasha catching a concept after Daria's explanation. I could guess what the explanations involved from the general topic of conversation we were having, in general, not specifics."
Chloe, "Do you remember what it, they, were, Dasha?"
Dasha, "Sister explain cost effective, then explain that Nikko does not do always most cost effective. She ees more to do it well, not anyway cheep. Nikko says effective ees not cheep."
Zi, "She was also a great deal of help in landing a client. He is a Russian and was hammering away at the rates we charge. Dasha and Daria hammered away at him, basically a version of cost effectiveness."
Amaya, "What did you tell him?"
Dasha, "He was complain about price, on and on about this company or that charge less for same job. Sister says nothing, but she tells me in head to talk in Russian, I tell him, 'Kogda den'gi govorit , pravda derzhit rot na zamke.' He laugh, we make deal."
Amaya, "What the heck does that mean?"
"When money speaks, truth keeps his mouth shut."
We laugh, I ask, "And how did that apply?"
Dasha, "I am telling him he ees full of it. We know rates of all property manager. None as low as he say. Also, most have cutting corner, sloppy, not enough staff."
Dang, first day on the job and she's snagged a client.
Chapter Thirty Five
Saturday, time to chill and regroup. Since Dasha and I are doing a full scale buffet dinner, I make a run to Doughnut Plant early enough to avoid the inevitable lines.
When I return, Dasha is up, coffee and tea is on, the girls are wandering in as the scent of fresh brewed Lavazza fills the apartment. If you haven't tried it, get some. We use espresso roast in a drip pot, regular delivery from Amazon. Then we spoiled the coffee drinkers with foamed milk, simple enough with a milk frother, don't bother with the steam from an espresso maker. Just get the milk hot, not quite to a boil, then whip it with the frother until it's about doubled in volume. Here's the trick, don't pour it in the coffee right away, let it rest for a full minute. The liquid milk drains off the bubbles and the froth is much richer. I add a sprinkling of French Vanilla Powder to the milk before I foam it. Yummy.
Amaya, "Doughnut Plant, you are Satanic Sylk."
"Dasha has cut fruit, fresh pineapple, cantaloupe, strawberries and blueberries with crème fraîche."
"Great, more calories, oh well, it is entirely too savory to pass on, God loves Doughnut Plant."
Chloe comes in, "Yay! Daphne went to Doughnut Plant, my secret wish came true. And some angel made fresh fruit, thank you Dasha."
Java Joe's sells the doughnuts and it's just around the corner, but the selection is limited. The options at the main store are fabulous and worth the trip across the Village, it's just two miles, and in a taxi at six thirty on a Saturday morning, a fifteen or twenty minute round trip.
Janah, "Wow, what to do, start with a doughnut, then fruit, or fruit first? I'll have both at the same time, problem solved."
Nikko, "You should weigh a ton."
"Haven't gained a pound in twenty years of Daphne’s food and selected sweets. Enjoy your doughnut, life is to be savored."
Dasha and Daria are having no trouble savoring, our sprite Eloise is working her way through one of the square glaze stuffed with vanilla crème.
Janah, "What's for dinner?"
Nikko, "Only you would ask that question after finishing off two doughnuts and a bowl of fruit submerged in crème fraîche."
Dasha, "We will haf Mexican buffet, flank steak fajitas wiz grill vegetable, guacamole, refry bean, nacho wiz chiz, jalapeno, ohnyon, chop tomato, flan for dessert."
Zi, "Is it dinner yet?"
"Soon enough, while we graze the buffet, we will also watch No Country for Old Men. Drinkers will enjoy cold Asahi or Sapporo and a side of Patron. The chefs take no responsibility for what happens as a result. By the way, there will be no lunch served, so load up now, you can reload at dinner."
Janah, "I'll sneak an extra doughnut to keep me fortified until then, it will go perfectly with afternoon tea."
"Good, I went overkill on doughnuts, two and a half dozen for nine girls, but it was hard to decide that early in the morning, so I loaded up."
Janah, "There won't be much left by three o'clock, not to worry."
Full of dough and ready to go, the family spreads out to their various interests. Daria and Eloise to you know where, Janah to a laptop, Nikko and Chloe to kendo, Dasha, Zi and I spend an hour on the roof with gymnastics and parkour, Amaya yogas while we bounce around. Janah comes up and joins Amaya for another half hour.
Nikko and Chloe appear and join us, Janah says, "We will be traveling soon. I don't know how many of us or for how long, waiting on Surveillance."
Amaya, "Who is up to bad stuff?"
"Group of fundamentalist Christians, home schooled kids, extreme discipline, arranged marriage. It's beyond common abusive religious behavior, forced prayer sessions, beat with a belt or a paddle, locked in a room for days. That evolved to extensive involuntary fasting, essentially starving children, broken bones, burns, scalding water, sadistic torture justified by Old Testament bullshit."
Nikko, "How many people involved?"
"Appears to be two families, live next door to each other. They belonged to a church that advocates strict parental discipline, but they were kicked out for going too far."
Zi, "What possesses people to rise to this cruelty with their own children?"
Janah, "I was willing to chalk it up to a highly selective interpretation of the Bible. It's not that, they like it."
Amaya, "Why aren't they caught up in social services?"
"First, no problem has been reported to any agency. We found out because one of our links heard about them from a member of the church. We have contacts in the worst of the fundamentalist groups, essentially spies. They play the game, keep their ears and eyes open. We didn't have an agent in this particular church. She heard about it when there was an anti-abortion rally, casual talk with a member of the church. Our source set the hook when she asked the woman about discipline problems with children, that led to a discussion of how far to go, which led to information about people who crossed the line."
Zi, "That was lucky."
Janah, "Not entirely. We coach our contacts on ingratiating themselves, then asking for guidance on disciplinary practices. The approach is non-threatening, they never accuse, just the opposite, they pretend to be supportive of strict discipline, just not sure how to go about it."
Amaya, "Slick, how many of these people have they outed?"
"Over the last three years, maybe a dozen. None rose to the level we're talking about here."
Chloe, "So the Society didn't do anything?"
"We sent our Social Workers to visit mom and dad. Children now attend regular school, no more physical or psychological abuse. Some parents still go to church, kids are not required to participate."
Amaya, "How do you enforce that? Do they explain that to the children?"
"The kids don't know from us, all they know is mom and dad had a change of heart. We explain to parents they can have a change of heart, or we would change their heart for them. Social Workers give them a demo, usually involving removal of an appendage as a permanent reminder, although one particular intransigent was actually nailed to a cross. They didn't hang him on it, just left it lying on the floor, but dad still has two holes in his hand and ankles that don't work well anymore, they used railroad spikes."
Chloe, "Sheesh, that's hard."
"He hit the girl daily, just to do it, frequently tied her to a cross and let her hang there all day. Said it would bring her close to Jesus. That’s crap, he liked inflicting the pain. The Social Workers decided if he thought it was good to hang his daughter from a cross, he might enjoy being nailed to one, get really close to Jesus."
Chloe, "So then they must be monitored."
"We employ traditional reminders, anonymous phone calls, note on the car, mystery e-mail. One threatened to kill his children, he's not around anymore, mom abandoned the kids, we took them to one of the ranches. They live a real life now, happy to be out of hell."
Chloe, "You've been busy."
"That's my role, Social Workers have leeway to use physical persuasion, but not to kill without approval unless they or innocents are in a lethal situation. I was contacted about the one threatening to kill his children, after hearing details, house full of guns, he'd killed the pets in front of the kids, I gave the go ahead."
Zi, "Could Social Workers turn on you if they somehow got caught."
"They don't know who or where I am, I don't deal directly with them. Every Social Skills team has a Society contact. That contact only knows Mrs. Pearson, I’ve never met them except on the phone. I get called for extreme circumstances, make a decision, it goes back to Social Skills. We may be the most efficient organization in the world, and with workers who have no idea who is who or where they are.
(We use Social Worker and Social Skills interchangeably, it's the same people.)
Chapter Thirty Six
Time for our Mexican buffet and death in the desert. They begin with nachos and cold Asahi, our hard liquor drinkers add a side of Patron tequila, a shot glass to sip along with the beer. Asahi is a uniquely dry Japanese beer, tart, and goes well with Mexican food. I have Sapporo as well, I don’t drink, Shaolin vows, but drinkers tell me after an Asahi, they need something less sharp, thus Sapporo. We like spice, chopped jalapenos, powdered habanero sprinkled over the nachos, gooey cheese, chopped onion, red and yellow peppers, guacamole and sour cream on the side.
Chloe, "Yum, this is perfect, my mouth burns just enough for an Asahi fire extinguisher."
Nikko, "Pass the Red Tail, please."
Amaya, "Nishiko has no taste buds, if I used more than a tiny dash of that flaming powder, my head would explode."
"She's always been the spice girl, Tabasco, Tabasco habanero, then I discovered Arizona Spice powdered habanero, I like it too, but I'm a novice compared to Nikko. Red Tail Scorpion is a new addition, the hottest known pepper on the planet, Trinidad Moruga. Powdered death. Even Nikko uses a trace amount."
Dasha, "Dahfoney, pass Patron, ees also time to grill flank for fajita. You will do steak, I will grill vegetable."
We start the main course, big tortillas warming, refried beans simmer on the stove, more chopped onion. Janah will have veg and bean burrito, everyone else is a carnivore.
They queue up the movie, pause it while they construct fajitas.
We spend the next hours watching mayhem, stolen money, stolen again, the relentless Anton Chigurh, Tommy Lee Jones playing the character he always plays, matter of fact, resigned to the screwed up way of it. It takes us over three hours, we take breaks to refresh drinks, one more fajita, another spoon of beans. Why people go to a theater mystifies me. You can't pause the flick to do a bathroom break, reload your plate or open another beer. Even worse, you can't have Dasha nestled into you while you watch it.
Dasha, "Chigurh ees like Daria and Dasha."
Janah, Bit of self insight going on there.
They is who they is. We kill people, and we frequently take their money.
Janah, There's that.
You've likely caught on to the dissonance of our lives by now. Murdering Buddhists, not much way to sugar coat it. On the other hand, and there's always another hand (unless Nikko's involved, then there's frequently one less hand clapping, but I digress) your life, my life, the girl over there’s life, is full of inconsistencies. There's only one class of consistent human, the dead. The rest of us still above ground are a mass of contradictions, which is why I have to laugh when people go on about the 'real' them. The real you is the one that's doing whatever you're doing right now. Soon, there will be some other real you, different from the real 'you' you are right this minute.
Which is why wedding vows are so ridiculous, with no more meaning than a politician's promises. I should write a reality blog, but I don't have the time and nobody's interested in reality anyway.
Dasha and I clean up, everyone wanders off to their rooms, next thing I'm sliding into bed next to Janah.
"Nobody asked, where are the disciples of discipline located?"
"Suburb of Chattanooga, called Hixson, it's about eight miles from the middle of Chattanooga. We won't suffer much, there's one luxury hotel, the Chattanoogan, looks nice on the website."
"Decided who's going?"
"Waiting on Surveillance. It's only two families, they live next to each other. Both two parent families, three boys and two girls between them. I should have the reports by Monday, they've been tapped and we have listening devices, kids don't go online, cell phones only for parents. It seems the children can go to the other house, they don't get out much except for that. All I know for the moment."
We're sleepy, snuggle in and fade until morning.