Chapter Thirty Three
The brothers hang at a house in Queens, mom's house, must be millennials. I call Black.
"After you check it out, let me know if you need any of us."
Black, "Not for a quiet word with two guys, if the word gets noisy, then we'll see. I'm going to do a drive by, sniff around the place. Be in touch."
Nothing to do until there's something to do, I decide to vacuum and dust. Considering the size of our place, that'll kill the rest of the day.
Before I know it, it's four thirty, tea time downsized for three.
Janah, "Nothing from Black?"
"He was just going to do a peeping Shaolin. Figure a way to get them alone."
Janah, "He can't follow them around all day. I should have gotten Surveillance to see if they follow a routine."
"Black and Chan will get it handled, don't start micromanaging now, it's not your style."
Janah, "The whole thing seems rather...not weird, unnecessary. Why do these skinheads need to screw around with ex-cons that just want to go straight. The people Mini chooses aren't violent criminals, they were in prison for burglary, larceny, move stolen merchandise, car thieves, nobody was in for as much as simple battery, armed robbery, no drug dealers. Wait...I just answered my own question, didn't I?"
"Yes, they're exactly the people you want to hold merchandise, launder cash or park drugs. The skinheads do their own assault and battery, they don't outsource it."
Sloane, "Why do they call them skinheads?"
"Shaved heads, or at least very short hair. They have versions all over the world, well, Europe and America. They think white people are the only people, everyone else is out to get white people. Neo-nazis are new versions of the Third Reich, Hitler's Germany."
"We read about that in class, World War II. Strange that they joined up with the Japanese."
"The Japanese are insular, Japan is for Japanese people, they had the same attitude as the Germans, racial purity. They had it wrong. Different races came about because of genetic impurity. If evolution worked like a computer, there would be no races. All humans came from the same ancestors, race developed along the way. It's thought that climate has the most to do with skin color, more sun, warmer climate, darker skin which protects against cancer. People with light skin in sunny climates died off sooner. Humans were spread around the planet in isolated groups, so they tended to look like the people closest to them. The human brain evolved to be wary of people who look different. They would steal your food, take your women, so you killed them. That brain bias remains inside people today. In a very real way, skinheads can't help themselves. And that exhausts my knowledge of the subject."
Sloane, "If they can't help it, why are we going to punish them?"
"Because actions have consequences. Just because someone can't control their impulse to do harm doesn't mean they get a pass to do harm. You can't help your physical situation, born with boy parts, but in every other way a girl. You have to endure the situation until we can get it fixed. I think your difference brings you unique gifts, you see the world and people differently, a different perspective. Some people in your situation wallow in self pity, feel intensely frustrated or depressed, the world hasn't treated them fairly. The person who thinks something is wrong with you can't help themselves, it doesn't make it right or fair, it makes them narrow and ignorant. They pay a price for their bias. You decided to make the best of it, have a broad, intelligent view. You're better off. Did I just wander off topic and make a speech?"
Sloane, "I don't know, it sounded good to me."
Janah giggles, "Your mother's train of thought runs on crooked tracks. Not crooked like wrong, just a lot of twists on the way to the point. A little like Oceane, what she says has relevance to the topic, some only tangentially relevant. Their brains make obscure connections."
Sloane, "Oceane is cool, I'm strange, Oceane makes me look normal."
"Something in her switched off when she was abused as a child. She handled it by detachment, her body was there, her mind far away. Master Tan did the same thing, maybe not due to abuse, he never mentioned anything like that. But he could separate his mind from his body and its physical surroundings whenever he chose."
Sloane, "Maybe Oceane is a Shaolin mystic."
Janah, "I don't know about Shaolin, she's mystical though."
We talk right through tea and into dinner, a knock on the door, it's the parents, Taylor and Lacy.
"Come in, geez, we got into a discussion over tea and the time disappeared. Janah will get drinks, I need to fire up the grill, we're doing burgers, baked beans and fries. Dessert is frozen custard. We have vanilla with rainbow confetti and chocolate with malt."
Hugs around for Sloane. She has loads of grandparents, James and Kara, the Murakamis, Susan, Lacy. Taylor is younger, more of an aunt maybe. After we pop champagne, I go upstairs to grill burgers, then take them down to stay warm in the oven while I fry fries. Sloane and I lay things out on the counter, they can build their burger and add the sides they want. We park around the table with refreshed wine and beer.
James, "Place seems empty, when do the others get in?"
"Day after tomorrow. They didn't want to give up all the new toys. We have Formula One cars and the most popular thing is racing go karts, go figure."
Janah, "They're simple to operate, no shifting, just press the accelerator and go. Amaya and Dasha favor the Formula Ones though."
Lacy, "I looked up the cars, they seem pretty big."
"We have Mazdas, they're smaller than the current versions, much cheaper. We don't plan to enter the circuit. I got them because Amaya and Dasha had so much fun when they went to Bondurant."
Lacy, "Sloane, Mattie told me you did really well on the exit test. It's been a while since they had a freshman go to a self managed curriculum for their sophomore year."
Sloane, "I just found out, I have to think about what to do next year. I'm going to add Japanese to my Russian, Dasha and Daria have me pretty fluent in everyday conversation, and I can read Cryllic okay."
Susan, "You have to learn a whole new alphabet, like you did in Russian."
Sloane, "Maybe, I’m going for conversational. We have Nikko, Amaya and Chloe who know the kanji, I’ll so simple things, signs, read a menu, leave it at that. The language lab at Chapmans is great and they have a dozen Japanese students. For the rest of it, I'm still thinking over options. Susan and Daria know hacking, they don't really teach hacking at school, they do coding. I like the plants, when Daria gets home we're going to do the spring garden on the roof."
"The temple has an extensive garden. Maybe you could go to the temple and learn from David Li and Manolo."
Sloane, "Really! I could do that?"
"I know the abbess pretty well, I can pull strings."
Janah, "David is always happy for helpers. And you get two for one, botany and chemistry."
Sloane, "Great, Japanese, botany, chemistry and code. Is that enough?"
Lacy, "Yes, they are all complicated subjects. You will have quite enough to do, particularly in light of the time you spend traveling."
Sloane, "Man I have an awesome life."
I set out the container of custard and bowls, we construct our combinations and settle around the table again.
Taylor, "This stuff is so creamy, I'll have to do extra spin tomorrow. We're going back to St. Martin's next week, I don't want to overflow my bikini."
Susan, "We took six trips overseas in two years, and with country hops, my passport is running out of pages."
Janah, "I'm remembering, London, Paris, Marseilles, Switzerland, Sweden, Germany, Spain, Greece twice, Tokyo and Kyoto, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Rio, four trips to St. Martin's and three to the house in Canada. You skipped Beijing."
Taylor, "Too polluted."
Lacy, "And we played and screeched like tweens at a pop concert. We do tourist things, deep culture only occasionally. Google makes finding great restaurants simple. The trips are for fun, not to become foodies, wine snobs or museum crawlers. We managed to avoid any and all cathedrals. We did do Munich during Oktoberfest, that was bizarre. Germans may be precise and efficient, they're also ear splittingly loud."
Susan, "The Teutonic blonds made up for it. And not all of them interested in barrel chested men wearing lederhosen."
Sloane giggles, "I know what that means."
Kara, "Considering your family, lesbians can't be a mystery."
Sloane, "Hardly. I'm the only girl with a real penis in the whole group, all the rest have plastic ones."
Chapter Thirty Four
Yay! Family's back.
Amaya, "You lonesome without me?"
Amaya, "As is obvious, who would not be, the space girl maybe. Although since you were not around, she had the sense to come to me for intimate solace. I made sure she was solaced as solace can be. She has gotten shameless in the sack, Daphne has nymphocized her. Thank you for that."
"I'd like to take credit, she's gotten pretty frisky on her own."
Oceane, "I have sex with movie stars."
"All of them? At the same time?"
"Chloe one afternoon, another night Dasha and Daria, Eloise too, four girls in bed. We slept together, like kittens."
Amaya, "Cute, all curled up."
"No, we licked each other, like kittens."
We laugh, Amaya, "Good misdirection, you had us in one place, then moved us to another."
It's tea time, we sit cross legged around the low table, Chloe says, "I think Danika and Su were kind of sad to see us go."
Nikko, "Su said so, at least to Zi."
"We should have them in Canada this summer, they'd like that. They can close up the house for a month, everything is automated, we can check on it from Canada."
Chloe, "Good idea, they will be happy to be included."
"Anything on restaurant space?"
Nikko, "I found a few spots, we don't own anything in Harlem, nothing suitable downtown. We lease in Queens and the Bronx, own the building in Brooklyn. I think we lease the space, we have enough property as it is."
"I wonder, since we're going to live a very long time, and the seas are going to rise, shouldn't we sell? I mean sometime before it's obvious that lots of the city will be worthless?"
Nikko, "Not a bad point, the thing is, none of our property is near enough to water to be directly affected. Maybe one piece on the east side near Chinatown. The question is, how do rising seas impact the value of unaffected property? That depends on how many companies abandon New York and how the sea level affects tunnels and bridges. At the moment, real estate in New York is selling at ultra premium prices. The future value is a guessing game."
Janah, "Maybe we should lighten up."
Nikko, "I can't put the money anyplace else that generates the revenue we get on the property. We got a some of it free, inherited it. Things we bought we've owned long enough to see the values rise with the recovery. If I go to cash, we either buy into a sky high stock market or get nothing in bond yields. Think of it this way, if the ocean floods all of Manhattan two hundred years from now, we will have received at least twenty times today's value in cash flow. If they flood, we collect on the insurance."
"Sounds like a non decision."
Janah, "Well, we aired it out and the decision is to keep padding. What about the restaurants? Do I get Mini to go on an inmate hunt?"
Dasha, "I will talk to Black, he may haf idea. Eef no, then talk to Mini. Daria and I will go to see what Nikko found. Not to look in window, to see what ees around, gud shops or junk. Also, corner ees better, more people pass."
Nikko, "Speaking of Black, how's the Nazi project?"
"Chan got bored and knocked on the front door today. Razor answered, Chan said he was greeted with, 'Fuck you want chink?' Just then, Black walked in the back door, it was wide open. Mama Hitler was in the kitchen, he was greeted with a shout, 'Nick, a nigger just broke in, get the gun and pop his black ass.'
Zi, "Wow, nice family."
"Black clocked mom, the brilliant fuehrer came barreling in Glock first, Black took it and broke his nose with the grip. Razor had no chance, Chan had him unconscious two seconds after the door opened."
Amaya, "What did Black tell them?"
Janah, "They used our technique, wired the family to chairs. Duct tape big mouth mom, Black said she was worse than her offspring. He explained that the gentlemen they were harassing to provide back door contraband support were not to be harassed anymore. There was some tough talk, 'there's a lotta us and two of you, whyn't the ex cons standing up, some kinda pussies,' junk like that. Chan twisted the Glock into pieces, collected a couple of AR-15s and two more handguns, turned them into scrap. Black said, 'Just think of what he could do to you, and your fat dog ugly momma.'
Chloe, "Got their attention."
"Yes. Black told them he knew it wouldn't look good for them to just order the underlings to back off. He suggested they make it appear to be their decision, like they decided on their own that the hassle wasn't worth it, that they might actually be unreliable and run to the cops. Razor wanted to argue, 'ain't takin' no advice from a nigger,' Chan levitated momma's ashtray and slammed it into Razor's chest, cracked his sternum. Nick suddenly had an epiphany. Black made it plain that one contact, even passing by on the street, constituted a violation. He told Nick, 'Keep your boys in line, you'll do fine. Goosestep in the wrong direction, you'll never have another erection,' said he hated using such crappy poetry, but he figured Nick wouldn't get anything more subtle. They left with one final demonstration, Chan touched momma on the neck and she passed out cold. He tapped Razor on the side of his head and he shook so hard the wire cut into his wrists. When he stopped shaking, Black told them, 'If he touches your heart, it stops beating.' They left, now we see."
"I called Angelo, he'll tell the others. If a skinhead comes around, they are to call us. Then we get serious."
Nikko, "We ought to break them up anyway."
Janah, "Doesn't really come under our rules. We don't chase around petty thieves, or even common drug dealers. They made the mistake of harassing working guys who are in a crappy position if they fight back. Angelo had to do his own persuading to keep them from doing just that. I don't want them back in jail trying to macho it out with skinheads."
"Yeah, who's going to drive us, do our remodeling, dry clean our stuff?"
Nikko, "I almost hope they screw it up, I could use a workout."
Zi, "We sparred with Danika and Su several times."
Nikko, "That's not the same as beating up skinheads. Although Danika is a handful. I stupidly said she could use qi. After she threw me across the floor the third time, I asked her to dial it down. She's still trouble without it."
Chapter Thirty Five
Now that the girls are home, we take Sloane to Ultra Violet for her graduation celebration. At Chapmans, when a girl passes the basic exams, no matter how old she is, or what grade she's in, that's essentially high school graduation. Girls stay on because going to college at fourteen or fifteen is a drag. Better to pursue an individualized course of study at Chapmans, then go to college ahead of the curve. Sloane will be fourteen plus when she starts next year, her studious nature pushed her far enough to pass the exam. It's a version of an SAT or ACT, more difficult than any high school exit exam, it also includes the foreign language the girl has chosen to study, and the code writing section. The test is three hours in the morning and three in the afternoon, and the girls don't get advance notice. When they get to school, Maddie tells them it's test day, that's it. One advantage, no time to build up test anxiety for a month. Janah took it seventh grade, she was twelve. I didn't take it until I was fifteen and they didn't have coding then. Plus I struggled with the foreign language part, my Chinese wasn't that fluent then.
None of us went to college, Janah and I entered the college of Shaolin, Nikko came along, she didn't go to college. By the time we started adding family, we were rich and our family additions had no need of degrees. We've saved a fair number of kids along the way. We took in a few as wards, Amaya, Chloe, the twins, then Sloane. All of them had different abusive child exploitation experiences. If that's why they're lesbians, okay, Janah says it's primarily nature, not nurture. Doesn't matter, they're all happy. Sloane is a question mark, even to herself, but she's my adopted daughter, her ultimate sexual orientation has nothing to do with me. I'm a lesbian, doesn't mean I think all girls should be.
Ultra Violet is it's Friday night busy self. We park in our private room, we own the place and it's better than taking up eleven spaces in the main dining room.
Mariella manages Ultra Violet for us, "Welcome, been a while since we've seen you."
Dasha, "We are in Arizona over the winter, I haf a racing car and dirty bike, ride all over property with Daria," she shows Mariella photos on her phone she took of the bikes and cars.
"Good Lord, the things you get up to, isn't that dangerous?"
Dasha, "Ees no fun without danger. Eemaya ees best driver, but I beat her at kart. She will not get so dirty to ride motorcycle."|
Amaya, "No thank you, it's quite grimy enough in the go karts, Formula One is far more stylish, which is why I excel."
Mariella, "Drinks are on the way, and fried veg appetizers. I understand this is a celebration for Sloane, perhaps one of you can slip her a taste of champagne, Daphne keeps a case of Gosset here. Busy night, Stella and Alice will take care of you, I need to monitor the guest flow," she leaves to keep the flow flowing.
Nikko, "She does a splendid job, the place is packed."
Daria, "We see from the numbers, the place is always packed."
Our server arrives with the champagne, pops the cork and pours. Even though Zi and I don't drink, the rest suck up the first bottle.
Stella, "Shall I open another?"
"Sure, just stick it in the bucket, we can self pour."
Alice shows up with plates of fried mushrooms, cauliflower and broccoli. Nice and crispy outside, sprinkled with Reggiano.
Janah, "I love this stuff, I could make it dinner."
"Then you'd miss the macaroni and cheese."
"I'll make room."
We offer a toast to Sloane, she sips champagne, she has a glass at home, champagne or wine. She's good with one, it hasn't started her on vodka shots or methamphetamine.
Sloane, "Are we going to Canada this summer?"
"We go every summer."
"Good, I love it there, I want to spend the night at the top of the mountain."
"I've never done it either, guess I'm overdue."
Amaya, "I shall stick to my creature comforts, Amaya does not sleep in the dirt."
Chloe, "Maybe I'll go."
Amaya, "Certainly not. You have commitments, films, commercials. A broken leg rock climbing the falls is out of the question."
"Hadn't planned on breaking my leg."
"You know what I mean. You shall stay with me and I will make you feel as if you are not just on a filthy mountain, but in the clouds above."
Chloe grins, "Sorry Sloane, you can send me some photos."
Sloane giggles, "Sure thing. Mom will take me."
Dasha, "I will go up also, maybe Daria, what about Eloise?"
Eloise, "I'll look at photos with Chloe and Amaya."
Nikko, "Agreed, I enjoy the cabin and hiking, but no overnight on a frozen mountain top. Once we had to park on a mountain to sneak up on a cabin of psychos. It was damp and cold. At least I got to beat up a freak dyke."
Sloane, "What were they doing?"
"I'll explain later, it's not a happy story, tonight we celebrate your graduation."
Alice comes along and takes drink orders, "The Mayor is having dinner, saw you come in, he asked if you have a moment."
"Sure, be along in a sec, where is he?"
Alice, "Twenty six."
Sloane, "The Mayor? Like of New York? Really?"
"I think he's the only Mayor I know."
I go to find hizzoner.
"Daphne!" he stands, "Great to see you. You been out saving the planet, or is Nikko just buying all of it?"
I laugh, "She said we've reached our property limit. You know we expanded to San Francisco?"
"Yeah, I heard that. You aren't abandoning us are you?"
"Never, New York is our home, what a question," I don't mention Janah's mention of California.
He smiles, "I gotta ulterior motive in asking for you, first, meet my wife Catherine, and my kids, Donnie and Denise, this is my friend, Daphne Sylk."
Catherine, "Pleasure to finally meet you."
"Pleasure's mine, kids are beautiful. I should say, handsome and beautiful. Good thing they took after their mom."
Catherine is black, coffee with cream, Mr. Mayor is white. He gets bonus points from us for his good judgment. She is lovely.
She says, "I feel kind of tacky asking this, but Denise is a huge fan of Chloe Sylk, she spotted her in your party, would it be possible..."
"Chloe loves her fans, she'd be disappointed to miss meeting one. Tell you what, suppose I take her back to our table, avoid a big production out here?"
Denise, "Like, really? Mom, can I?"
Catherine looks at me, "Are you sure it's no imposition?"
"Come on, she’ll love it."
Donnie, "Can I come?"
Catherine, "Oh gosh, I don't know, they're in the middle of dinner."
"No worries, I see you guys are finished, everybody come, I'll get Alice to hold our entrees for a bit."
I snag her on the way, "Keep our stuff for a bit, kids want to visit with Chloe."
I introduce the family, while Denise is peppering Chloe with questions, Catherine says, "Family, you all related?"
"No, not biologically, we all live together."
"But there are, what, eleven?"
Mayor, "Cath, they gotta condo in the Village big as Gracie Mansion. I never been there, but it's the top floor of Chapmans School, must be ten thousand square feet."
"We also added rooms on the roof, the whole place is perhaps twice that."
Mayor, "Wait...that's the author, Amaya, she lives with you?"
"They all do."
"Cripes, I've read the books and seen the movies, you named this place for the movie, and the twins, they're in the flippin' movies too."
"Amaya will be glad you're a fan," I turn to her, "His Honor is one of your fans, dear one."
Amaya, "Then he is a man of excellent taste, please, sit, have a glass of champagne, or perhaps a drink. Both of you, Daphne will have someone bring us some chairs."
Catherine, "We couldn't...I mean..."
Amaya smiles, "How can I not offer a distinguished reader a cocktail?"
Chairs arrive, they order a nightcap, it's not like they're driving, there's a guy outside that does that.
Chloe is being photographed with Donnie, then Denise, then both of them together. Donnie is fifteen or so, clearly in love. Denise is twelve and all giggles as Chloe tells them filmmaking stories.
Mayor, "Amaya, how do you come up with the plots? I mean, your books and films aren't repetitive. Dialogue is always fresh, not recycled."
"By sweat and tears. I have extra motivators. When I took over the Chris Fischer mysteries, I owed it to her memory not to botch it. When I write for Chloe, well, she is my love, I am obliged to make her look smart and savvy. Her actual nature is joy. Given the nature of the stories, she can be some of that, but has to adopt an edgier side as well. I do not want her vicious, just multi-layered."
Mayor, "And what about the twins? One is hilarious, they both have snappy sarcastic patter, but there's no sense they have any feeling about it."
Amaya, "The twins are harder edged, but you will notice they do not operate out of anger. To them, assassination is their job. Chloe acts in defense of herself and others. The twins do not care about defending others, but do it when it serves their purpose. Their purpose is to get paid. Chloe is a compassionate samurai. The twins are psychopaths."
Catherine, "They should run a corporation."
Amaya grins, "They do. Dasha is responsible for the menu here. Daria runs the books. Dasha also created the Down Homes we have in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx."
Mayor, "I been there, best banana pudding on the planet. The fried chicken will break your heart."
Catherine, "Been holding out on me? You better drag my butt there soon buster."
Mayor, "We happened on it when I was campaigning, now I go whenever I'm in the boroughs. Best way to mingle with the real people of New York, not investment bankers."
Denise comes running, "Look mom, I have pictures with Chloe, she says she will post them on her page if you say it's okay. You have to say it's okay. Donnie will have all the girls at school after him when they see him with Chloe Sylk."
Catherine glances at her husband, he says, "They get snapped at political events, it ain't like nobody knows who they are."
She looks to Chloe and nods, Donnie gives her a high five.
Catherine, "Thank you so much, we really must get out of your hair. If you get time, come have dinner with us at Gracie. It isn't as fun as this, but we can put together some mean steaks."
"You called it. Eleven is a lot at one time though."
Catherine, "Honey, we do twenty five, forty. Eleven is like intimate."
"His Honor knows how to reach us, we would be delighted."
Chapter Thirty Six
School year over, we hang in the city until July, then time to get from sticky heat to cool mountain air. Dasha, Daria and Eloise left a few days early to set up the house, Nikko and Zi go to San Francisco for a couple of weeks and will join us in Canada afterwards.
Francois, "Welcome, Dasha is on the way to collect you. They have the houseboat docked and she's coming in the powerboat," I see the boat rocketing across the lake.
She found a Russell 262, big enough, twenty one footer, lots of seating, gets us to the house in twenty minutes.
"Nice boat, runs like a rocket."
Dasha, "Haf plenty of seats, gud for cruising lake. Houseboat is gud for leisure feeshing and haf more features, kitchen, refrigerating, even sleep on it."
"This will be fun, we haven't really explored much of the lake."
We're at the house, the girls have done a splendid job, beds made, all the utilities functioning, it's so good to be someplace cool and quiet.
Dasha, "Lunch ees ready, sandwich, cheeps, beer ees cold, plenty of Sapporo, Amstel, also white wine."
Janah, "Great, I'm hungry."
"They fed us on the plane."
Janah, "Your point is?"
Janah has an appetite like Great Dane, her mom is Scandinavian, maybe there's a connection.
Dasha prepared a variety of finger sandwiches, turkey, ham, roast beef, egg salad, fried tofu. Janah is our only pure vegetarian, but Oceane generally sticks to veg or seafood.
“We haf cherry quinoa, I add to toorkey or ham also. Janah, you will try wiz tofu, ees gud and healthy also.”
Janah bites her sandwich, “Remarkable Dasha, what made you think of it?”
“We sometimes add cherry preserve to toorkey, also warm over ham. Quinoa ees crunchy but does not haf strong flavor, so I meex up to see what happens. High een protein wiz fiber.”
“It adds a nice crunch, tofu is boring without some sort of additive, this is perfect.”
Our waterbaby is on the dock, I bring her a selection of sandwiches, dab of coleslaw a few chips and a glass of wine.
"This place is beautiful, what is it?"
Oceane doesn't retain much, she's been here six or seven times, it's always new to her.
"Our house in Canada. You've been here before, it will start to come back to you."
"This is where we talk to animals," she's facing the water but says, "they are coming from the woods to greet us."
I turn, sure enough, there's a grey wolf, a bear lingers on the edge of the woods, two squirrels natter on the big rock, looking for Janah I guess. The animals are not always the same, their life spans are shorter. But the stories of humans who understand get passed on by parents and the children come to see.
Oceane, "The wolf wants to see Sloane."
I walk to the house, "Sloane, your pal is looking for you, Janah, you have guests on the rock."
They come outside, Janah goes over to visit with squirrels, Sloane to the dock where the wolf is lying next to Oceane.
Sloane strokes his head, scratches behind his ears. The animal rolls to his side, she strokes the flank. The atmosphere is stillness, only the chatter of squirrels, the bear has moved next to the big rock, I walk over.
The big boy rises on his hind legs and plop his paws on my shoulders. Cripes, he weighs a ton. I stroke the side of his massive head, he huffs a greeting, releases me and returns to all fours.
"Your friend David Li will be here in a week or so. He is much grown since you last saw him."
The huge beast actually nods his understanding, I sit with him, in communion, there's nothing to say, just being is good.
A few minutes later, he plods off, he'll be back when David Li comes, the boy, man now, who understands.
I look up and see the eagle circling. She's checking on us, will visit when she decides to, right now, it's reconnaissance, to see if it's really us. If the owl is around, he may make an appearance one evening.
Amaya and Chloe are on the porch, I go up to join them.
Chloe, "It is always breathtaking, to see how they commune with us."
"Janah broke the barriers, then David Li, in between the eagle and owl decided I was worth teaching. The wolf took to Sloane right away. None of them will hurt us, they are particularly protective of Sloane and Oceane. They don't mind beating up on me in the least."
Amaya, "They know who can take it and who needs protection. I do not write about it intentionally. My stuff is not so esoteric or, I dislike the term, science fiction. Science is science, fiction is made up. This place is for the animals, they do not need people. From their perspective, the sooner humans obliterate themselves, the better."
"Hopefully we go before they do."
The afternoon slips away, Chloe makes tea and we sip on the porch with cookies. Nobody feels the need to talk. We watch the sun disappear until the evening chill sets in. Inside, girls go off to shower, Dasha the diligent has started a fire in the fireplace.
"Thank you for preparing, what can I do to help with dinner?"
Dasha, "I haf burger een refrigerator, saving steaks for when Nikko comes, she ees steak favorite. You will grill burger, I have fries cut, also tomato, grill onion and mushroom. Janah haf garden burger, ees also in refrigerator."
I kiss her, "Where are Daria and Eloise?"
"Making sex now, before working on idea for drone."
"Maybe you could join Janah and me this evening, you deserve some special attention and it will be our pleasure to see that you get it."
Dasha turns to her stove, "Dahfoney and Janah like to make sexy time wiz Dasha, we will feel gud."
We sure will.
During dinner, Sloane asks, "Why is the world so unequal? I mean, we have tons of money, other people are rich like us, others seem to be living month to month, even more day to day."
"You want to take that one Janah?"
Daria, "People inherit money, like Janah and Daphne, or have businesses like we do, businesses that bring in much more than we spend. That money stacks up, we invest it in property, the stock and bond markets. Eventually it goes up. We don't have to do anything, no time or labor cost, it just multiplies on its own. Amaya makes a lot of money in films, but she has the luxury of financing by us. Someone who puts in as much labor as she does, but cannot get the project financed, makes nothing. And they are out the money they might have earned doing something else."
Sloane, "So having money makes having more money simple."
"That's it. People who live from paycheck to paycheck, have little or no extra money to invest. They might put some in a retirement plan, but it winds up as only enough to supplement whatever other retirement income they have, social security for instance. When people retire, it is the end of work, but not the end of expenses. They have to budget out the money they have to pay for daily life. If we never did any work at all, we would still be rich, and we cannot spend what our investments make every year. Not without buying so much we would never get a chance to use it."
I add, "We can pay for gourmet food, the highest prices, but we can only eat so much of it. Only wear so many clothes, only use so much electricity."
"And we have another rich luxury, money to have solar power in all our homes, so we pay almost nothing for electricity. We had an initial cost, but here and in New York, solar has paid for itself many times over. In Arizona, Nikko estimates it will take maybe three more years at most. So other people have big utility bills, we don't, even though we can afford big utility bills. Being rich lets us afford to cut expenses when other people can’t."
Dasha, "Ees okay, Eemaya spends it."
Amaya, "And when did you go out in tattered clothing, or miss a styling appointment? Beauty is our gift to the planet, a way to return some of our wealth, to private jet companies, luxury car makers, contractors, Russian distilleries and fine restaurants. We are the world's leading consumers, trickling down, nay, pouring down our largesse on the masses."
Dasha rolls her eyes.
Sloane, "So rich people can't help getting richer?"
Janah, "If they make ten percent a year on the money, it doubles every seven years, and again seven years later. A million invested is two million in seven years and four million in fourteen. In that time, they did nothing. That's what happens with us."
Sloane, "But you give away a lot."
"We do, Janah thinks we might do more, create a school just for immigrant kids, year round boarding. It won't fix the border problem, but it will help a little, maybe encourage others to try it. Again, we have a luxury, the Shaolin. We can supply qualified teachers for a fraction of the cost of hiring regular teachers. They work for room and board plus a small stipend. Like the ranches, we cover medical and dental at no cost to them. When they travel, we pay for it. The Shaolin and the Sylk Trust are tax free entities. They money they earn on investment has no federal, state or local income tax, which allows us to invest more in education. We also get a tax deduction for contributions to the Trust."
Daria, "Another way money makes more money. The Sylk Trust owns the land the ranches are on. In general, it goes up in value, which means the Trust value grows. It isn't spendable cash unless we sell a ranch, we have no plans to do that. They are still assets in the Trust."
Dasha, "Plus, all fahmahley ees work at something, real estate, books and movie, commercial and model, even Oceane sells painting. Dahfoney sells calligraphy paint sometimes, but she ees busy taking care of us. Also stealing from drug lord and other target persons."
Sloane, "I don't do anything."
"You do what you need to do, get an education. Later your job will show up. Janah and I just went to school when we were fourteen, all the way past twenty one while we were in the temple. The temple was our college, like Zi. Nikko, Daria and Dasha got their version of college in business. Chloe and Amaya in fine arts and fun arts. You may decide to go to a formal university, or do something else."
Dasha, "Oceane college ees University of Mars."
Amaya laughs, we all do, Oceane asks, "What is Mars?"
"The next planet Earth. The US spends billions to send toy trucks up there to find out Mars has rocks they already knew about before they spent the money."
Sloane, "Why would they do that?"
"The ways of Congress are simple, usually it has to do with making money for corporations. The rover was assembled at the NASA Jet Propulsion lab, but the parts were made by various companies like Lockheed."
Sloane, "We talked about the rovers in school. Aside from the tech to get them there, they don't seem to have discovered much."