Amaya, “I had a friend inna business, years ago, Sandra Solano. I lost touch, I’m trying to find her. She hadda a sister named Theresa, so I looked you up, I hope I got the right person.”
Theresa, “Who did you say you are?”
“Oh, sorry, I didn’t. We was in the personal services business, like professional escorts. Theresa’s a real looker, done a very good business. We hadda lotta laughs, I just wanna see if I could track her down, have a drink, you know. Nothin’ serious.”
“You know her from the life, huh? Yeah, she was in the business for a while. Got married.”
“Oh, well she probably don’t want nothin’ to do with me then.”
“Got married to the wrong man, like most hookers. I’m in the business honey, except not as messed up as Sandra. Now she’s just punishing herself.”
“He beats her, like a pimp?”
“He doesn’t pimp her, but he beats the crap out of her. She asks for it, yelling, in his face about nothing, whining. He gets tired of it real quick, she takes her licks, she wants her goddamn licks. She’s fucked up.”
“Oh, geez, sorry to hear it. Girls I know, this business, it messes with your mind.”
“Her mind was fucked before she became a whore.”
“Oh. You’re her sister, I suppose you’d know.”
“Yeah, I do know. I suggest you forget Sandra. She’s done. She wants what she’s got. Leave it.”
“Honey, I know too many girls gotta worlda hurt. I got no need to reacquaint with one more. We was drinkin’ buddies, I never knew much about her life….before. Most girls in our business had bad shit happen before they was whores. I done heard all them stories.”
“You heard the one about the girl that decided it would be fun to fuck both her older and younger brother?”
“Um, I heard about girls got raped by their dads or brothers. My own brother used to come in to my room and do me, least until I was old enough to cut him. He never come around after that. But I was done, gave up tryin’ to be good, got bad instead.”
“No, not that. The story where a twelve year old girl seduces her fourteen year old brother and her ten year old brother. And kept at it until she was fifteen, then moved on to a thirteen year old cousin and two nephews, twelve and thirteen. The girl who had one of ‘em in her room every afternoon, until mom threw her out.”
“Aw honey, I’m real sorry to hear that. She never said nothin’ bout any of that shit. Well, I’ll skip trying to find her, got enough friends with fucked up lives. Don’t need no more.”
“Yeah, you best stay clear of her. She’s trouble and looking for more trouble.”
Amaya, “Thanks, Theresa. Good luck.”
She hangs up.
“That was enlightening, where’d you get the cracker accent?”
“Ah, of course.”
Janah, “I don’t know what the Society wants me to do with this. She’s only hurting herself, out of some fouled up psychology, guilty about her young life, guilty about her life in the life, marries a guy and provokes him into punishing her. Maybe she’s punishing him, too. Making him an abuser with her persistent provocation.”
Nikko, “Sounds like a pass.”
Janah, “Yes, it does. Daphne, please call Mrs. Epstein, give her the replay of Amaya’s call. She’ll see it doesn’t fit our parameters. These two want to be miserable, let them have at it.”
I deliver the message to Mrs. Epstein, the Society will drop it. The abuse is clear enough, however, the interplay of two very confused personalities doesn’t fall within our parameters.
“I suggest Nishiko and I do some self created suffering. Nikko, what will it be kendo, gung fu, taekwondo or mixed mayhem?”
“Kendo for an hour, to soften you up. Then you can revenge yourself in mixed sparring.”
Amaya, “I want to watch.”
Janah, “Me too. Let’s take it to the dojang. Amaya and I can work out, yoga a bit while you two kendo. Then we can relax and be stunning while you beat the crap out of each other. After that we’ll put you back together.”
Twenty minutes later we’re opening the dojang, nice and empty, beautiful polished wooden floors, polished by thousands of feet doing millions of repetitions of poomse, sparring, demonstrations.
Nikko slaps me silly with the bokken. Her kendo seems to improve exponentially, mine only arithmetically. We sand the bokken, then prepare for mixed martial arts. Janah and Amaya join us, sit cross legged on the edge of the mat.
Nikko and I practice compassion. Compassion for our family, and for the abused. That compassion requires dispassion regarding each other on the training floor. Nikko comes with a full frontal attack, kicks high and low, she blasts my ribs, her foot smacks my jaw more than once, her heel into my gut. Her workout is to keep at it, my workout is to keep her from killing me. After fifteen minutes, much longer than any street fight, she is panting lying flat on the mat, I’m doubled over on my knees.
Janah asks Amaya, “Which one do you want?”
“Daphne will take more skill, I need the work, can I try putting her back together? You can fill in the parts I need help with.”
Janah nods, she turns to Nikko, primarily a job of reenergizing her, and Amaya works on my bruises, sprains and knots. After an hour she is exhausted.
Amaya, “I need to recharge, yoga, weights and qi application have drained my battery. Can we eat soon?”
Janah, “Pretty much what I was thinking. Let’s shower, go home and veg. How does pizza night sound?”
“Good with me.”
Nikko dips her head in agreement, about all the energy she has. They move to the shower, I give Marconi’s a call, go to shower. We dry hair, dress, fold up sweaty workout gear in a gym bag and go home.
While Janah starts laundry, I heat the oven, put the pizzas in for crisping crust.
We eat quietly, tired from the workouts, it’s pressing eight thirty.
Amaya, “Shall I select a movie, I have an urge to watch more action.”
Janah, “Good with me.”
Nikko and I clear up, Janah and Amaya search for a movie. We discover we’d never watched Brad and Angelina do Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
Amaya, I sense you formulating a devious plan.
Those are the best kind.
Amaya, Does it involve my erotic stimulation?
Amaya and I all over each other for the next hour. As we lay wrapped, kissing softly, I feel my brain pop.
Amaya looks at me, eyes big, It is happening?
Yes, the beginning of merging, precious one.
Her eyes well up, then tears trickle; I lick them from her cheeks, kiss her delicate face a hundred times. She scrunches even closer, one long intimate kiss and we fall away.
The week drifts by uneventfully. We do the usual, temple obligations, Nikko’s property work, Amaya working on a play. She isn’t going to perform publically anymore. She writes plays in order to create characters, write dialogue then act out the parts. Some of the stories will find their way into her books. The point, as she explains, is in case she needs to present a persona in our jobs, even to use her unique voice to make a target think she's a man, or afraid, or threatening. Her ability to range over octaves might come in handy as a distraction, or to confuse a target. Her languages allow her to sound like a Japanese male, a French homosexual, an irate Irish female, more.
Excepting her vocal range and perfect pitch, these skills didn’t fall in her lap. She works them. We would hear a woman, clearly irritated, frustrated or mad, blasting out of her bedroom, then another in Japanese. Sounds of men arguing, reverberate around the apartment, one with a Midwest American accent, another in Brooklynese, a third from Alabama. A Russian policeman, a Cockney worker, an elderly woman with a thick German accent, no nuance of sound escapes her. I wonder if I’m living in an international spy thriller.
The phone rings, Janah answers, listens, disconnects.
“We have work, girls. Saddle up, out of town, plan for a week.”
Amaya, “Five or seven?”
Janah, “Plan for seven. And check the website, we’re flying private, we can take our stuff with us.
“Moderate, no cold weather gear. We’re going to Arizona, Grand Canyon area. It’s only May, we’ll likely be in seventy degree weather in Flagstaff, but it may be as high as ninety at the canyon. We’re going to a place called Supai, the Navajo Reservation.”
Amaya, “Wow, what’s going on there?”
“Methamphetamine production. The Indians aren’t manufacturing it, some of them are leasing property or covering for Mexican producers. The land is vast, plenty of nooks and crannies to hide in, the money is good.”
Nikko, “I thought we didn’t care about druggies.”
“We do when they sell to children. The Havasupai, some of them, have been convinced that the meth is being sold on other Indian reservations, or in Vegas and LA. And it’s pretty much true. The problem for us is, it’s being sold to children, the Havasupai, Hopi, Paiute and Hualapai tribes are all affected. One of the Havasupai council members finally got fed up. Apparently intratribal alliances shift all over the place, intertribal alliances are almost non-existent. The ones making money leasing land want the money.”
Nikko, “How does it work, I don’t understand.”
“Mexican men romance Native American women. They turn them on to meth, give it to them free. Once they’re addicted, which is quickly, the freebies end, they have to sell the product or themselves to feed their habit. Teens get on it, even elementary school kids. It’s a mess.”
“I still don’t understand, are the women just stupid?”
“I have no clue.”
Amaya, “Regardless, it is unforgiveable.”
Nikko, “Good reason to go out there and not forgive them in the harshest possible terms.”
“I have the baddest ass mom on the planet, the hottest girlfriend and the most brilliant teacher. I must be even more spectacular than I think I am.”
“I’m not sure that’s possible.”
Amaya giggles, it’s good to have an appreciative lover to be screwy for.
Nikko, “Why isn’t the government doing anything?”
“Complications of Indian relations. The reservation is a sovereign nation. The tribal police are virtually nonexistent, they haul in drunks, break up fights, that’s about it. It’s a perfect spot for drug production.”
“Who is behind this, the Mexicans must have a boss.”
“The Society is looking into it. Their source was vague, doesn’t want to get himself dead. It didn’t take much investigation to see the extent of the damage, Surveillance got pictures, scabbed up, teeth rotted, wasted away photos are not a pretty sight.”
Nikko, “I suppose it isn’t PC, but what is it with the tribes? They want to decimate their own people? They get to open up casinos, take the white man’s money hand over fist, they can use and profit from the minerals on their land any way they see fit. Why do they have so much drug addiction and poverty?”
“Good question. Indian casinos took in twenty six billion dollars in 2011, with little state and no federal taxes on those earnings. Individual Native Americans pay tax if the casino income is distributed to them. Despite that, they have the highest poverty rate of any ethnic group in America. People blame the government, but that isn’t it.”
Amaya, “Then what is it?”
“Theories only. Some say they fail because they don’t own the land individually, it belongs to the reservation. But as a group, they overwhelmingly oppose individual ownership. I find it hard to accept that they want to be sovereign nations and complain they don’t get treated as Americans. I fail to see how they have it both ways. They want American benefits and safety nets, but don’t want to enter the mainstream culture. In my opinion, their leaders have failed them. The top dogs rake off the benefits, they could give a damn about the impoverished. It’s manifested in the very thing we’re taking on. Four girls from completely different cultures are going to take on meth producers the tribes could drive out in a few days. That’s an indictment they should be embarrassed to accept. But there it is. Frankly, it’s no different than the Imam, the priest, government, or the authority of any culture letting the poor die rather than spread the wealth. If you are a so-called leader, spreading the wealth isn’t good for your longevity. The rich will have you replaced if you can’t keep the poor from rising up and killing them.”
Amaya, “So, we are going because no one else will stand for the children?”
“You stood for me, time for me to pay back.”
“She gets it.”
A select group of Mexicans and Indians are in for mucho heap big trouble.
Janah, “Daphne, please call Chan and Black and tell them to meet us in Flagstaff in three days, The Inn at 410, rooms are booked in their traveling names. Flights and tickets are on the website. We’ll be there three nights, Black and Chan one. Then we go to Supai.”
We settle into The Inn at 410, lovely suites, Southwest and Sunflower Fields, just splendid. No hotel feel, a Jacuzzi in the Southwest, Janah will like that. Amaya and I take the Sunflower Fields. The boys, men, but we still call them the boys, will be in day after tomorrow. We plan to have a night of hanging out, haven’t seen Black in a while. Then an SUV to Supai.
We unpack necessities, the rest stacked in a corner until we leave, take a walk through downtown Flagstaff. It’s small, quaint without being cutesy. Touring downtown takes about thirty minutes. We find a coffee shop, have tea and cappuccino, walk some more, find the local ‘famous’ Fratelli pizza joint and order a couple of veggies to go. The Inn has an elaborate breakfast, and afternoon snacks, no lunch or dinner service. We buy two bottles of red wine, a couple of champagnes, vodka, water and a few Coke Zeroes. Then in the room watching Meryl Streep channel Margaret Thatcher, grazing on excellent pizza, Amaya enjoying vodka rocks, J and Nikko Cabernet, me with my Zero. One of my Shaolin vows is to avoid intoxicants, thus I remain booze free. I’m a little flexible, a sip of wine, taste of Janah’s champagne is hardly intoxicating. Our evening is fun, we don’t plan, we don’t think about the job.
We’re zipped from a day of travel, we’d walked a few miles to get the travel kinks out, the wine and pizza finishes us off.
Still, we are in a hotel of sorts, even better, the rooms beautifully appointed, which has a wonderfully magical effect on libidos. While Nikko enjoys being ravished by Master J in Southwest, I enjoyed being ravished by the White Queen in Sunflower. We drift into relaxed silent sleep.
Breakfast delightfully, it is quite lovely, the offerings are:
Baked Apple Custard French Toast
Hash Brown Pie
Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes
Fluffy egg scramble with fontina cheese, asparagus, and Portobello mushrooms
We sample everything, and they do a great job, if you’re in Flagstaff, spend your nights here just to wake up to the breakfast.
A drive to Walnut Creek National Monument, not too far from Flagstaff. While it has its historical importance, I’d advise you to pass unless you’re into Native American archeology in a big way. Apparently, seven hundred years ago, some tribe decided it would be cool to carve out homes in the sides of cliffs. They did, and then had climb up and down those cliffs to forage for food and grow crops, which don’t do so well in rock on the side of a barren mountain. Since exterior lighting and handrails weren’t available, one wonders how many children they lost over the edge. I suppose they were safe from predators, no mountain lion would be stupid enough to try and hunt on a sheer cliffside. I began to get an inkling as to why the current tribes didn’t shut down meth production that is killing their children right on their own sovereign lands. Thick as a brick comes to mind.
Janah, “Well it wasn’t a big deal, one has to wonder why they lived there at all. I don’t want to go where my mind is headed.”
Nikko, “You mean that the Indians aren’t the brightest stars in the sky. I’d have to agree.”
Janah, “Yes. I’m not connecting the wide open opportunity with the lack of achievement, the dropout rate, or the addiction statistics. The poverty rate of the Navajo in Arizona is well over forty percent. Whether it’s educational failure, alcohol or drugs, they’re off the charts. I don’t care how much the Federal Government jacked them around in 1850, they’ve had plenty of time and resources to recover, but they don’t. They built their first casino here in 2008, doesn’t appear to have fixed much. And it doesn’t explain why, despite millions of visitors, they have little in the way of hotels, restaurants, entertainment and other tourist revenue. We have no experience with Native American culture, perhaps there’s a dynamic I don’t yet understand.”
Nikko, “My guess is the dynamic is the dynamic that pervades the planet. The tribe is seen from the outside as a unified body. But within, there are factions, all fighting for power. There is no internal harmony, only internal confusion. The Indians are no different than any other religious or governmental institution. A veneer of cohesiveness, under which is a miasma of sickness, infection and confusion. Look at Iraq, Syria, once the strong arm dictator is gone, tribal power grabs kick in. Our government doesn’t ever get it. It was the same in China before Sun Yat-sen. Even he had a touch and go rule. It took the Communists to get all the warlords in line. You can’t just waltz in a declare democracy to ancient cultures with tribal indoctrination.”
Amaya, “Nishiko is spot on.”
Janah, “I’m afraid so, dear one.”
When we return from Walnut Creek, it’s near time for dinner. Quick showers and we meet to discuss dinner plans.
Janah, “I’d don’t feel like getting dressed to go out,” we’re all in t-shirts and nothing.
Nikko looks up from her netbook, “I think I found something to eat.”
The three of us burst into laughter.
Nikko even smiles, “You are all incorrigible nymphomaniacs.”
Amaya, “Lucky for you, Nishiko.”
Nikko ignores her, “Criollo isn’t far, here’s the menu,” turns the screen for us to examine.
Nikko calls, Amaya and I fetch, and soon we are having shrimp & grits with smoked pork, roasted poblano chile and corn, butternut squash, black beans, jack cheese, tomato polenta, warm goat cheese vinaigrette, and saffron corn cream. Finally, an order of grilled eggplant with roasted campari tomatoes, goat mozzarella, quinoa cake, and pasilla broth.
Janah, “Good Lord, that was lovely. I’m a nicely stuffed little piggy.”
Black and Chan arrive, get situated, we meet in Janah’s suite for a short recap of Society surveillance.
Black, “You have names of Indians leasing land to guys they know are making meth, and the locations and descriptions of the guys who cook the meth. Who are we refocusing?”
Janah, “Everyone. We can’t deal with the landowners until we’ve dealt with the meth guys. The Indian could throw them off the land, but he risks being made an example. These producers are cranking out a lot of crank. Big money. The product not only gets pushed to other tribes, most finds its way to LA, Las Vegas and a fair number of potholes in between.”
Chan, “Once we eliminate one, what might the others do?”
Janah, “I’m figuring they get suspicious of another gang or the tribes. While there is confusion, I want to take out as many sites as we can.”
Black, “How many labs?”
“Six, a couple of guys in an RV doing the cooking at each site.”
“What's the current security?”
“Almost zero, nobody comes around asking questions, tribal cops are lazy and comfortable.”
“You have an idea of how to go about it?”
“I think we start at the middle, work back to the beginning, finish at the end. The end is the dealers, the beginning are the production people, the middle is supply, the guys who deliver the ingredients and take the finished product. We know who transports and we know who deals. The production people are out of touch until the delivery guys show up. We disrupt the distribution network, then close down production.”
Chan is flipping though Surveillance reports, “Only four people, two who pick up finished product and resupply, and two who take the finished product to a network of dealers.”
“If we take out the four in one day, we have a window before the cartel figures out something’s wrong, at least a day or two. If we can destroy the six sites in twenty four hours, they’re out of business before they know they’re out of business.”
Nikko, “After which we deal with the cartel boss and the Indians who are leasing the land.”
Janah, “Do we have enough firepower, the places are pretty far apart, long drive over desert roads.”
Black, “It's a stretch to think we can move quickly enough to deal with six production sites in twenty four hours.”
Janah brightens, “Brilliant. Yes, I see it now. Daphne, please call the Society. Looks like we get another couple of days here before we go north.”