Chapter Fifty Three IV
Ladies and gentlemen good evening
You’ve seen that seeing is believing
Your ears and your eyes will be bleeding
Please check to see if you’re still breathing
Saliva, Ladies and Gentlemen
“Geez, I’m tired, it’s been a long day.”
Janah, “Yes, let’s hit a takeout pizza joint and get to the room.”
The four of us spread around the Hampton room, a large cheese, another large veggie. A movie called The Bank Job in the background. It’s okay, bit of a convoluted plot, some action, the guy from Transporter, Jason Statham, is in it.
Nikko, “What next?”
Janah, “We’re closest to the women’s camp. They’ll all be there early, before some wander off to town. Surveillance says two spent the day reading a palms, not much traffic. They counted three suckers. The other four women were out shoplifting. They like small stores, no department stores, too many cameras, detectors and undercover security. Small mom and pop places can’t afford all that, maybe a security camera. The women are all so heavily made up, videos are useless. They go in one at a time, avoids being linked together, one distracts the clerk, the other takes easy to sell stuff, expensive pen sets, junk jewelry, silver, gold if they can get to it. They sell it to nitwits who come to have their fortunes told, make up stories about antiques and previous rich owners fallen on hard times. Sometimes sold as a charms or talisman to women looking for reassurance.”
Nikko, “So what do we do with them?”
Janah, “They’ll get the picture when we’re done. We’re going in after the shoplifting crew leaves for the day. I’ll go first, Daphne will show up fifteen minutes later for a ‘reading’ from Madam Zonga Two. We’ll confront them individually.”
Chan, “The kids?”
Janah, “They’ll be taken for DNA sampling and matched against the database of stolen children. What happens after that is FBI business. Recovering a stolen child gives them plenty to crow about. Videos and photos from a mysterious source will demonstrate that the kids were with the Travelers. They’ll also get video of women both leaving the stores they stole from. While it’s true they’re disguised, the stolen merchandise will be evidence, convicting themselves of a series of thefts. Kidnapping may be harder to prove, but the DNA evidence will be unavoidable. They’ll try and claim they found the children abandoned. That might work for one, or even two, but five or six? Even juries aren’t that gullible.”
"I’m exhausted. Bed time.”
Chan goes to his room, we pile up, next thing we know it’s morning. We take our time, graze the Hampton breakfast. I’m fairly picky about food, while their stuff is hardly gourmet, I have nothing to complain about. It’s only eight, we don’t want to show up at the camp until ten. By then, the other women will have left in search of merchandise, the palm readers ready to to trade illusions for cash. The thought occurs it's exactly what churches do, nice symmetry to that.
There are six identical airstreams, not new, still well kept. Two have signs leaning against the side by the door. They both say the same thing, ‘God is in the miracle business. Knock and find the miracle He has for you.’ Janah knocks.
A woman opens to the door. Janah thinks her about forty, but she looks older. Miracles apparently come at a rather stiff price. About ten years worth.
“Welcome child. Praise God for your visit, I’m Anna,” she sticks out her hand. Big mistake.
Janah holds it, the woman feels an electric jolt, her eyes widen, not for long. She passes out on the floor. Janah hears scuffling. Nikko brushes past to the back of the trailer. There are three children under ten and two infants.
Nikko looks them over, “Take the babies, come with me.”
Janah joins her, “It’s okay. The lady had an accident. We need you outside while we get someone to tend to her.”
The kids peer into the front, see the woman collapsed on the floor. There is a boy, two girls an infant. They appear to be decently cared for, although one girl’s jaw is swollen. They need a hair washing. The clothes are kid standard Gap-free Wal-Mart, some of it looks hand me down.
Janah’s presence calms them, maybe the white haired girl is an angel. She’s not disguised, it’s a long way from Manhattan, nobody here is likely to try and find her.
Janah, “I was sent to help you. There is disease here, and we don’t want you to catch it. We’re going to take you to a hospital. People there will make sure you’re safe.”
The boy says, “We’re not supposed to leave camp.”
Janah, “I know. It’s okay. I will protect you.”
They don’t question, they appear relieved.
Janah, "Go with this lady. She will take you to a van, some nice people will take you to the doctor. I promise, everything will be okay.”
Nikko takes one infant, Janah the other, they follow the children out the door. A van pulls up. Two grandparent types greet the children, another woman straps the infants into car seats.
I’m still in the second ‘miracle’ trailer.
The woman prays for God’s guidance, my hand in hers, “Our Lord, bless us with your perfect wisdom, that we may see the way we are to go, to serve thy divine will.”
The woman looks up, my eyes are on her, entirely void, the woman shrinks back, “Thou art evil, there is no help for you here.”
I smile enigmatically, “I met a discount astrologer the other day. For ten bucks, she’ll tell you your future, but only for the next five minutes.”
The woman doesn’t get the joke, her fear radiates in waves, I catch stink of it, “I didn’t come here for help, I came here to help. To help remove the children you and your pals have stolen, return them to their parents.”
She’s not comprehending, “You would steal our children!! I think you may have more trouble on your hands than you think, Satan’s whore.”
My half smile turns flat black. I snap open the switchblade, the woman tries for tough, “You kill me, you’re going to face God’s wrath. Our menfolk, they know how to deal with a whore of Babylon!”
“I thought I was Satan’s whore.”
I lay the tip of the knife under the woman’s neck, draw a pinprick of blood, “I’m a very busy whore, got no time to pussyfoot around with the likes of you.”
I wrap her up in picture wire, stick a sock in her mouth, wrap that with tape, drag her behind the couch.
We have the kids from my visit. I see you have church lady all trussed up. Are there kids in there?
Two, an infant and a toddler. I’ll bring them out and help Chan with the rest of the trailers. There are four more someplace.
Chan is outside the trailer on the end. He nods at Janah.
Chan’s found them. I’m going inside with Nikko, Chan might be a bit intimidating. Call in the second van.
Ten minutes later, the kids are gone and we are gone, ten minutes after that, the FBI appears and take the women into custody. They are going to meet their buddies, the shoplifters and the three teenagers they have in training. They were busted by Kansas State police while exiting a store with stolen merchandise.
We drive to Tulsa, the hundred eighty miles takes just under three hours.
“Do we start in on the other six now or what?”
Janah, “Let’s check in, chill, you and Nishiko can round up food for tonight. The FBI has been instructed not to let anyone make any phone calls for twenty four hours. Our targets here won’t know squat about what happened in Wichita. By tomorrow afternoon, we’ll have our rip off artists out in the country wandering around naked as Adam. While we work tomorrow, the FBI gets the files on that crew, they’ll be doing the perp walk about the time we’re making their ‘menfolk’ invisible.”
“So we’ll be home by day after tomorrow?”
Janah, “Yep. But don’t get cocky. This second crew has shown more violent tendencies than the first. They’re younger, more likely to try and macho it out.”
Nikko, “Thank God. The last targets were boring. Daphne got to climb the ladder, too.”
Janah, “No sympathy for Nishiko. You took off a thumb and an ear with your new toy.”
Nikko, “I didn’t get to have any fun with the third two.”
“Don’t be greedy.”
Nikko lays her hand on my leg, “Nikko will find something to take her mind off her privations.”
“Dang, what a great idea!”
It takes an hour to get everyone properly orgasmed. Best hour we’d spent that day. Then we sleep.
We decide to take the men before they split up for work; work being a generous term for how they spend their days.
We go directly to their motel. It’s just daylight. God’s Travelers had spent the prior evening in one of the rooms killing a case of Bud and several bags of Taco Bell. I smell cheap salsa and chips when I get out of the van.
Nikko cuts the valve stems off the truck tires. Air hisses, and a minute later there are three sad sunken Dodge Rams six inches lower to the ground than they had been a minute earlier.
The early soft glow of daylight begins to creep up from the East.
Nikko, “The trucks have security systems. Rather than you breaking down the motel room doors, why don’t we bring our targets out here to play in the parking lot?”
“Janah, you need to be in the van. If we have to scramble, it needs to be ready to roll. If the three of us can’t handle six men, we need career counseling.”
Nikko unsheathes her katana and disappears between a coke machine and a junk food dispenser. I go to the second floor and stand by the railing. Chan smashes the window of one truck, the alarm goes off, he pops the hood and disconnects the battery. He does it the new fashioned way, rips it from its support and throws it through the windshield.
Two men appear from each room. They are groggy, then snap to when they see the condition of the truck.
“What in hell?”
They spot Chan leaning on the hood, he appears unconcerned about being seen or the damage he caused. That fact doesn’t register as suspicious with the men, a costly perception error.
“Boy, ya best be seein’ how fast ya can fly, or you’re in for a bad mornin'.”
Chan doesn’t move, much, he grabs one of the side mirrors and rips it off .
“Fucker must not speak English. You speaky English shithead?”
Chan cocks his head, “No such word as speaky. Sounds ignorant, are you stupid?”
To their amazement, and testimony they still aren’t thinking clearly, Chan starts walking towards them. One carries a bat, the others tools, hammer and a pry bar.
Bat Guy, “Titim gan éirí ort,” (May you fall without rising) the others nod their approval.
He takes a swing. Chan catches the bat just before it hits him, twists it out of the man’s hand, breaks it in half and drops the two pieces. One hand on the chest, Bat Guy is flying, backwards and out of control. He smashes against the motel wall.
Crowbar approaches, “This won’t be busted so easy, laddie. He swings hard, Chan steps in, takes the bar as if the man had simply handed it to him. He bends it in half, then twists it around itself. He tosses over his shoulder, through the already broken windshield, it lands harmlessly on the seat of the truck.
“Holy ghost. This piece o’shite is not normal. It’s gonna take all of us boys, let’s nail his arse to the cross.”
Since there are only five now, Bat Guy is out for the count, four still have weapons. Two hammers, a pipe wrench and a knife.
Hammer One raises his, mysteriously the hammer part separates from the handle and he swings only a small stick. Chan steps back, the handle drops past him, as it does, Hammer One’s hand comes off. One swipe of Nikko’s katana cut off the hammer head, the other removed his hand.
Hammer Two is in mid swing, Nikko’s katana catches him at the elbow; like baking soda, arm and hammer thud to the ground.
I drop down from the second floor, tap Pipe Wrench on the shoulder. He turns, still in shock from watching his buddies being ripped up like rag dolls.
I smile at him, “Fillean meal ar an meallaire,” (Evil returns to the evil doer) I snatch the wrench head, twist it out of his hand, flip it fat end up, crush his nose, then use it to crack his knee, hard. He keels over to the asphalt.
The last, Knife Man, is the biggest of the lot, really big.
This time I don’t smile, “Is fear rith maith ná drochsheasamh,” (A good run is better than a bad stand.)
Knife Man, “Canna leave me mates.”
“Well, don’t know about your mates. I gave you a shot, you can’t really run from me anyway. Just seemed like a pithy thing to say.”
Knife Man, “Brave enough with all these companions, one with a sword she knows how to use.”
“Put the sword up honey, everybody back up,” stare at him, “I guarantee it’s just you and me. Catch me if you can.”
Knife Man starts toward me, two steps, knife not in fighter’s mode, just pointed at me, swinging back and forth. The blade swings towards me, it’s like watching a freight train chugging uphill, so slow in Daphne time, I could have had lunch waiting for it to arrive.
I dart in, stick my folded knuckles in his throat, hard enough to make him pay attention, not hard enough to crush his windpipe. The knife pokes past my side,
His hand goes reflexively to his throat, “Not much power there, but ye got speed, I’ll grant ye that.”
“Thank you,” I side kick his solar plexus so hard he staggers back and falls flat on his ass.
Knife Man stands, slowly, he tries to hide it, but he leans forward, the pain in his upper abdomen sharp and deep.
He takes a breath, “May have spoken a wee bit too soon.”
“Best to test your assumptions, or you’ll frequently leap to stupid conclusions,” I step forward and plant a front kick under his jaw. Speed and steel toe do the job. His head flips back, I use the same leg to deliver a sharp side kick just above his kneecap, ‘Crack.’
Big Boy crumbles, on the asphalt moaning. His jaw is broken, his knee crushed. He’s cooked and shrink wrapped.
Janah sees the curtains crack, the boys not sure what’s happening, sure they want no part of it, “There are two boys, adolescents, hiding in room twenty-six. Ask Chan to bring them out.”
Chan pushes the door, then gives it a sharp nudge. It flies open. A van pulls up from nowhere, Chan gets the boys in. They would be delivered to the FBI later, after Janah had DNA swabs and a lock of hair. They’re old enough, fifteen, to be legitimate children of the Traveler’s. If Janah gets evidence otherwise, that would be returned with the boys and the FBI could sort it out. We find two more boys, someplace in the hormonal soup of sixteen to twenty.
They don’t put up any resistance, Janah wonders about their lack of concern for the badly injured men. She doesn’t have to wonder long, the youngest spits on Knife Man as he passes, no love lost here.
The van disappears into the early sunlight, a couple of guests are peering out from behind curtains, we disappear to a truck stop south of Tulsa for takeout coffee and rolls, then into a white Escalade with Indiana plates. We drive south to Dallas, about two hundred sixty miles to DFW. I drop my companions at the terminal, park the car in short term parking, leave the key under the mat and go to check in. We have first class tickets on a United flight to Newark. Nikko and I wander the terminal while Janah and Chan get something to eat. We have three hours to kill, kill them and board the plane. In another four hours, we are being driven back to the apartment in a hired car, after midnight when we get home.
Chapter Fifty Four IV
And also we talked about relationship,
the importance of human relationship without conflict.
That was also the deeper meaning of meditation.
J. Krishnamurti, The Wholeness of Life
This morning, we stop to see the moms before heading to Chinatown.
Susan is watching CNN.
“There’s a story about a minor crime wave in the mid-west. A group calling themselves God’s Travelers have been scamming and stealing from everyone and everything they could get next to. Used the pretext of prayer and Bible thumping to win over the church crowd. There were shots of cracked driveways, unfinished roofs, reports of theft from homes and businesses. Small business owners started coming forward with stories of two women and teens, going through their shops with sticky fingers. It was estimated over a forty people were taken for a ride in Kansas and Oklahoma.”
“What a world! Course, the church has been using Jesus to fleece money from suckers for centuries, so what’s new?”
Susan smiles, “Well these particular folks apparently were being followed by some less trusting souls. The FBI has traced several missing children to the group, and there were shots of tearful reunions with the real families. These Traveler assholes stole infants! Other children had been with them for several years, abducted and used as breeders.”
She looks at me innocently sipping coffee, “I might not have caught on, except for the part about a guy with a missing thumb, and another with a missing ear. Plus, six men found walking around buck naked in Kansas, sounded like a Janah scheme.”
“Any other clues about who might have surreptitiously traveled behind the Travelers?”
Sis, “If there are, nobody’s saying. The staties and the FBI say they can’t comment further, the investigation is ongoing, protection of the children, blah, blah. The list of charges runs from petty theft, fraud, child abuse and kidnapping. The only traveling the Travelers will be doing is from prison to court and back again. Due to the nature of the charges, no bail was set for any of the adults."
"I doubt it's the nature of a three year old to voluntarily leave his mother and join a group of trailer park assholes."
Sis, "Probably not. Like I said, some hits came up right away, some of these kids are older, and parents might not have given DNA samples. The police have to track down missing child reports, find the parents, match them up.”
“Seems a shame to give them a glimmer of hope, but find out their kid isn’t in the mix.”
Nikko, “It’s not a perfect world. Bad enough that the older children will be reunited with people they don’t remember as parents. Children who have been trained to steal and scam.”
Susan, “You did what you could. These dopes couldn’t keep doing what they were doing. Were you well disguised?”
“Janah talked to one woman and some of the children without much in the way of disguise, that was in Kansas. Nikko and I had our usual stuff, Chan is kind of hard to disguise, a cap and sunglasses had to do, I did paint a fake tattoo on his neck, hànzi with no meaning. None of us saw the Oklahoma women, we just supplied the evidence.”
Nikko, “Janah says these people weren’t typical Travelers. A splinter outfit that used the God connection. Travelers don’t much want attention. She thinks the chance of them finding us and wanting some kind of retribution is slim. Too much risk with no profit. Con artists are about tricking the gullible or lazy out of their money. They know we aren’t easy, and they sure know we aren’t suckers.”
Susan, “So you think you’ve heard the last of the Travelers?”
“Yes, but Nishiko hopes they show up. For the next while, blarney rapping Irishmen are going to get very closely scrutinized by the Japanese girl.”
C-mom appears, “Welcome home babies. Good to see you in shape, no cuts, bruises or gunshot wounds?”
“Nope, smooth as Sylk. Bad guys go to jail, good guys come home,” I pour Chris coffee and begin scrambling eggs.
“We have to go to Chinatown in a few, kiss K-mom and dad for us. Today’s going to be a long day, dinner this Saturday at our place, or do you have plans?”
Susan, “We do now. What should I bring?”
“C-mom, dad and K-mom. We’ll supply Ning and family, Lacy, maybe Black and Sonia.”
Lacy comes from the bedroom, “Good thing you included me or my feelings would have been demolished.”
“Did you really believe I couldn’t hear you and C-mom, uh, talking?”
Lacy blushes, “I have to get to school, I’m a respectable headmaster, try to remember that.”
Lacy, “No time, I’ll grab something from the school cafeteria, kiss me.”
We do and Lacy hustles out the door, Nikko and I following.
Susan recounts what she knows about the trip to Chris, who says, “Geez, Nikko just isn’t going to put up with assholes.”
Susan laughs at her, “And you are the soul of tolerance?”
Chris, “Compared to Nikko, I’m Buddha.”
“Guess you have a point, but a very stretched one. I’ve seen you in action, remember?”
“I haven’t removed any body parts.”
“Not counting teeth, and I recall you making more than one man’s testicles basically useless.”
“Technicalities. Nishiko is in a different class altogether, James and Kara must think we’re nuts.”
“James understands the psychology, Kara finds it interesting. I think she’s considering painting it. She mentioned a work she has in development she tentatively calls, Violent Beauty. Cool to be an inspiration for a Kiersted.”
Chris kisses her, “You are a work of art. She ought to paint one called Perfection.”
Kara comes down the stairs, “That one’s already in storage, not to be sold.”
Chris, “Good morning. So, now you have to call your conception of Susan something else, if you decide to paint her.”
Kara, “No, I did paint her, and it’s called Perfection. She posed for an hour a day for a week, I studied her. When I had the concept, I painted it. It’s one of my personal favorites, which is why it will belong to the girls one day.”
Chris, “Sis, you never said a word….of course, you wouldn’t. It would seem arrogant. Can I see it?”
Kara, “Up to Susan. It’s in the vault, she has a key.”
Chris, “That’s what I want for a present. Not the painting, to see the painting.”
Susan, “See why it’s so easy to be devoted to her. She lets me do anything I want and enjoys me doing it.”
Kara, “Your relationship has been a template for the girls. You do it without mind reading, but then Nikko does the same thing with Daphne. It really is beautiful.”
She smiles to herself, ‘These women, the girls, a constant reminder that there is such a thing as relationship without conflict. And that what most of humanity calls relationship is frequently just the opposite.”
Chapter Fifty Five IV
Life is easy.
Just show up
and follow the simple directions.
Mrs. Fong glows, “Come and sit with me beautiful White Angel and lovely Nishiko,” then glowers at me, “go and get tea Shaolin, and don’t take all day. White Angel has temple to run, Nishiko our property. You must go to herb shop, help old ones and sick babies until Janah can finish temple business. You won’t mind so much, everyone will bow and offer reverence. No reverence here, get tea!”
I bow and smile my way to the kitchen, “I got my day planned for me, that’s something.”
I bring a pot of long leaf oolong, soup for Janah, with a bowl of noodles and garlic sauce. Nikko might eat an entire noodle and a sip of Janah’s soup. At least she would drink two or three cups of tea.
Mrs. Fong, “Go now. People waiting, be useful. Janah to temple, Nishiko to building. Chan is nearby?”
Nikko, “Outside, examining the street. David Li is talking with his friends. If there’s a bad vibe, Chan will know.”
Mrs. Fong looks out of the wide window, “I not see Chan, or young David.”
Nikko, “That’s the idea.”
Mrs. Fong, “Good enough. David Li goes to temple, or to Ning Shan family?”
“Chan is taking him to Ning’s family after we get Janah stored. When she’s done, we go home.”
Mrs. Fong, “Call when you leave, fifteen minutes. Come here and pick up food. Janah and Chan will be hungry. Call lovely Ning and tell her no need to make dinner, Mrs. Fong will have dinner ready. She came with children twice while you traveled. Always with Shaolin, and Mrs. Fong’s helpers. No danger. Once came with Mama Shaolin and Ms. Chris. Safe, Shan family very safe. No one bothers.”
Janah kisses the old woman, “I brought you lotions. No need for one with your beauty, but they can’t hurt. Thank you for looking out for your family. I expect you to take care of us for many years, and we will take care of you when you get old.”
Mrs. Fong giggles as she always does when Janah compliments her, “Go to work, always full of baloney, at least nice baloney. Go to work, everyone go to work. Much to be done. Call me later, pick up dinner.”
Mrs. Fong takes the bag from Janah, she turns quickly and goes to her office behind the kitchen. She doesn’t want to shed happy tears in front of us, we might think she’s getting soft.
Soon Janah is in her office, me tending to the old and young ones at the herb shop, Nikko walks the family’s buildings and Chan instructs gung fu by letting students attempt to do him bodily harm. It isn’t working, and soon most of the class of disciples are laughing at themselves.
Chan isn’t showing off. He’s helping them understand that there are things the body and mind can do far beyond self imposed limitations. He learned from Janah and Tan, and he wants only that the monks learn not to assume something can or can’t be done. To find out. Some take longer than others to get past ego. It happens once in a while with a new disciple. Promoted, even knowing he is subject to an annual review, there can enter a sense of superiority, accomplishment. Most monks sit with their new feeling, taught not to suppress it, rather to recognize and examine it. They soon realize it is illusory, and only the beginning of a long process, there is nothing to achieve, rather much to release.
Some get caught up in their ability. Particularly the gifted ones, who have speed, strength or physical flexibility. Like a prodigy, who learns only to mimic, but never presses to go beyond that innate skill. Chan understands that, unlike his sister Daphne, they don’t always test themselves, move beyond, deal with the pain, take it to unfamiliar territory.
One such disciple is Gan Wei. He’s a Chinese genetic aberration. Huge, six four and two hundred seventy pounds. There is little stylish about his gung fu. He relies on superior strength, not technique. That isn’t particularly a problem, there are many roads to mind and body unity. Wei had been warned of ambition, and reminded that the ways of Shaolin can be slow and tedious. He nodded agreement, but he did not agree. He accepted what he saw as bowing and scraping to his instructors as a necessary inconvenience. He played along, until being promoted to disciple. His ambitious mind took over, and as he is nearing the end of his first year, he gets it in his head that showing his great strength will insure his continuation into year two.
Many of us, to our ultimate regret, let our thoughts run ahead into an imagined future; where our success is guaranteed and failure happens to someone else.
Disciple Wei says slyly, “Perhaps Master Chan will allow me to learn from him, if he is done toying with small monks.”
Chan opens his palm and invites Wei to face him.
Chan remains motionless, does not adopt any gung fu stance, does not so much as raise his hands. In her office, Janah senses a change in the atmosphere.
She walks silently between Chan and Wei, “I would very much appreciate the opportunity to learn from Disciple Wei. Master Chan, please take a seat with the others. Disciple Wei, be so kind as to demonstrate your skill. I will attempt to defend myself against your powerful gung fu.”
Wei, “It would be dishonorable for me to cause injury to the Abbess.”
Janah, “It is dishonorable for you to challenge Master Li, nodding to Chan. Honor is no longer an issue. Demonstrate your gung fu against me, or sit and be silent.”
Janah sees his anger, fueled by embarrassment. His ego torments him, he chooses ignorance.
Wei attacks, every blow strikes nothing, yet he feels as if he hit a thick wall of concrete; and, while creating no injury to his opponent, only injures himself. In under a minute, his hands are bloody, broken pulps. His feet bruised and swollen, even as he kicked what appears to the others as only air.
Janah raises her hand, the giant flies backward against the stone wall. Now five feet from him, she lays her hand out, fingers together, palm down; his nose cracks and blood drips down his lips. She flips her hand over, palm up, he rolls to his side, curls up into a sad giant fetal position, whimpering.
Janah speaks softly, but every disciple hears, “Wei, in your arrogance, you thought you could defeat Disciple Li. I tell you, you pain now is as nothing compared to what he could have done. You are forever banned from the temple, and from the Order of Shaolin. Leave now, while you can. Take yourself only, nothing here is yours.”
Wei stands, his nose bleeding, his hands will take weeks to heal, he can barely step on his swollen feet. The giant beast stumbles to the temple door, his head down; he has been crushed by a small woman who did not laid a hand on him. Two disciples open the door, Wei leaves, the huge door shuts behind him. No one will speak of this day again. To gossip about the power of the Abbess, even among themselves, would dishonor what they were privileged to witness. They file into the meditation hall and sit for four hours, contemplating the mystery, humbled and honored to be in such a place.
I followed the action. Man, that is one stupid mammajamma. Chan would have left him dead.
Janah, Probably not, in worse shape than I left him though. Nikko would have left him dead. You would have left him senseless. He came out better with me. Tell Mrs. Fong he has been expelled. Some of the monks will check him out from time to time. If he does anything remotely out of line in Chinatown, Mrs. Fong will see to it he’s never seen again. I seriously doubt he’ll try anything. We’ll be cautious, give Mini and the Jamaicans a description, and the security people at Chapman’s. Anything goes wrong, we’re going to know.
Got it. I’ll cover all the bases, Chan will tell Ning to be attentive.
Janah, Ning is to go no place without either Chan, or you or Nikko, until we get Wei out of the way.”
You’re going to make him leave? Ah, no, I see, Fong is going to make him leave He either goes back to China, or at least as far as San Francisco. You will tell the other temples who he is and that he has been banned. He’s going to have to get a day job.
Janah, And he will be warned it better be a righteous one, or I send Chan. We have rules, he agreed to them, he doesn’t get to disagree. Misuse of the skills is a death sentence in Shaolin.”
I take care of the instructions to the family, call Mrs. Fong. Instead of sending men he doesn't know, Nikko and I go see Wei in the hospital.
“You may have seen my friend Nikko around the temple."
Wei, nods, his eyes wary. I catch the scent of fear.
"You are afraid, that's wise. The samurai is not like the Abbess, she is not merciful. Mrs. Fong has decided it would be best for your recovery, and continued existence, for you to leave New York and move no closer than San Francisco, even better, China. Are you following me so far?”
Wei doesn’t move, but then again, most movement involves pain, understandable but irrelevant.
“I ask, you answer. I don’t care if it hurts.”
Wei nods affirmatively.
“Better. Here’s the rules. We are monitoring you. Find legitimate work, nothing illegal. Be a good boy and you get to function normally. Be a bad boy and I send Chan, or a really bad boy and I send Nikko, she will carve you like sashimi.”
I let the promise sink in, then, “If I ever see you, if I think I might have seen you, if I smell you, if I hear your name, along comes Chan, then Nikko. They will be the last thing you see. Do you understand?"
Wei, “I’m on the first plane to China. There is no place far enough from the Abbess. I was ignorant, thought only of my strength and full of myself. Please ask Master J to forgive me.”
I watch him closely, Janah is watching through my eyes.
He’s had it. We aren’t going to see him again. Word will go to all legitimate temples. He’s done, thank you girls. Now leave him, no more is necessary.
I say, “Keep your vow, live a long, honorable and prosperous life.”
Before Wei can respond, we’re out the door. In a week, Wei is on a plane to Beijing to be monitored for a year, then casually monitored by our numerous Chinese friends.
Nikko and I are alone in the apartment with Janah, Nikko asks, “You believe we have heard the last of him?”
Janah, “He was petrified, a second shock two days after his first. His brain has been changed. He’s going to spend his life in a normal job, out of sight as much as possible. China is good for him. He’s big, but many Chinese are big these days. He’ll get lost in one of their megacities, employed by someone who can use his strength, they’re always building something massive. His fighting and intimidation days are past.”
Nikko says nothing, I kiss her, then Janah, “If anyone’s interested in taking sexual advantage of me, I’m feeling most accommodating,” settling the matter of how to spend the rest of the evening.
Chapter Fifty Six IV
Chris and Susan are having date night, an occasional night out for a more upscale meal, perhaps a nightcap. Just the two of them. No dojang conversation, maybe a little family talk, mostly a time for Susan to catch up on Chris’ latest novel. It might not sound like a date, but to them it’s exactly that. Susan is interested in Chris’ work, for them to discuss it is fun. Chris likes formulating her stories out loud to Susan. Some date nights ended in tender lovemaking, the rest in furious lust. It depends on the mood of the moment, which is the only way to be, the only way we can be.
This night, the Old Homestead is bustling as usual.
Susan, “Did you decide where to send Jake for his next case?”
Chris, “My gay private eye is in Singapore, trying to find his vacationing assistant. She went with a casual boyfriend who has an import business. You remember, the business deal?”
Susan, “Sure, the supplier failed to make a delivery, pricing discrepancies, and Max, the boyfriend, was going to have a face to face. It was supposed to be a couple of days with the supplier, then a three day ride on the Eastern and Oriental Express. A few nights in Bangkok, fly home.”
Chris, “Yeah, but they never made it. They got on the train in Singapore, but didn’t get off the train in Bangkok. There are stops in between, and the train has one route. It’s a three day, two night trip with lots of scenery and five star accommodations, high end meals, white glove service.”
Susan, “So Jake’s going to find out what happened?”
They are interrupted by the maitre’d, “Excuse me Ms. Sylk, two men at the bar would like to buy you a bottle of champagne. I, didn’t, uh, explain.”
Mom and C-mom have known the maitre’d for years, he knows them as a couple and knows what their answer would be. But, it isn’t his place to explain that to the men.
Susan, “Tell them we are flattered by their offer and appreciate it, but we decline.”
The maitre’d says quietly, changing from his formal neutral restaurant host tone to the more familiar Queens resident they know him to be, “I don’t like these two mugs. I don’t know ‘em, they don’t feel right. They feel…like something stuck to the bottom of a shoe. You want me to ask them to move on, just say the woid. It’s ain’t a problem.”
Susan smiles politely, she’d noticed the two looking over earlier. Accustomed to being checked out, she paid no further attention, more interested in Chris’ story than two jokers at the bar.
“Thanks, Jimmy. Keep it simple for now. If they come over here, it will go easier on them if a couple of your guys stop them in their tracks and escort them to the street. If Chris gets aggravated, it will get messy.”
The maitre’d smiles, “Thank you ladies. I’ll deliver the reply,” back in polite maitre’d mode.
He approaches the men, they nod, Jimmy moves on. The man facing them says something to his buddy, who turns to look at Sis. He doesn’t look happy, stares for longer than necessary and turns his back to her. They pay for their drinks and leave.
Chris, “I didn’t want to look, they might think I gave a shit. What’s going on?”
Susan, “Gone. The one eyeing me was too Mr. Smiley. The other one looked snarky when Jimmy told them no, Mr. Unhappy. They weren’t thrilled at being turned down, Smiley wasn’t really smiling, like Janah describes a real smile. Just a fake smarmy one. But they paid up and hit the door.”
Chris, “Want to get a cab home, in case?”
Susan, “I want to walk off dinner. But we’ll pay attention. And we don’t go straight home.”
The Old Homestead is in the former meat packing district. For the longest, the only place open at night for blocks. It is one hundred and forty years in the making and still cranking out as good a steak as can be found in New York. Up until the late seventies, it was a lonely spot in the middle of warehouses and industrial businesses. At night, streets were dark and empty. Prime stalking grounds to prey on lost tourists. The restaurant was frequented by family, as in ‘the family.’ Lots of drive ins from Queens and Brooklyn. It wasn’t a mob hangout. It was a place where the upper end of the Mafia took their actual families for a big night out, birthdays for the kids, graduations, anniversaries. Then, in the eighties, what were warehouses shut for the night became residential, which bred restaurants, clubs and retail stores. The restaurant thrives and with the now active nightlife, you didn’t need a taxi to and from to avoid being mugged.
From Ninth Avenue, it’s less than a mile down Hudson to the Perry St. condo. Susan wants to be sure the men have moved on. She hadn’t liked what she’d seen of Mr. Unhappy.
Susan, “Let’s go to the Cubby Hole, have a nightcap, keep an eye out. Those two will stand out big time in there.”
“Not much of a walk, it’s practically on the way home. Besides, we’re nicely dressed, Cubby Hole is okay for jeans and a beer, but Hole is the right word. How about we go to Soho and have a drink at Balthazar’s? It’s crowded and appropriately pretentious. We go down Bleecker to Sixth, cut over on Spring. It’s a mile and a half.”
Susan, “Sounds good. And it’s all on busy streets.”
They pay, leave a fat tip, thank Jimmy.
“Youse keep an eye out. I know you ain’t no pushovers, but still.”
Susan, “We’re taking a walk, but Bleecker to Sixth, digest that monster filet you fed me, perfect as usual by the way. Then when we’ve stomped around enough, we’ll head home. It’s only ten, streets will be busy. Thanks, Jimmy.”
“Goodnight Ms. Susan, Ms. Chris, always a pleasure.”
They walk at a good clip, not hustling, not dawdling. Keep to the center of the sidewalk when possible, in twenty minutes they’re seated at the bar in eternally busy Balthazar’s. Susan has a fifteen dollar glass of Cabernet, Chris a shot of tequila and a draft. She sips the tequila, then a swallow of beer, skips the salt and lime. They are in animated conversation about what Chris’ character Jake might do to solve the dilemma of his missing assistant, in a country he’d never visited and no idea how to speak Chinese or Thai. The problem is that in either Singapore or Bangkok, finding English speakers isn’t a big deal. But the couple went missing along the train route. It’s possible they’re in the countryside. And Jake has no idea whether it’s Thai country or Chinese country.
Chris, “Anyway, Jake’s got to work out who might have been involved, why, and where the girl went missing. I’m researching the surrounding countryside, places the train slows down or stops, waiting for an idea.”
Susan, “I’ve got one. Let’s fly to Singapore, check out the town and take the train ride. Then we can spend a few days in Bangkok. Then I want to go to Japan, Kyoto, get a feel for Nikko’s homeland. I think a month off will be about right.”
Chris, “You’re fucking kidding,” she looks in Susan’s dark eyes….”no, you’re NOT! Shit, what a great idea. God, this is the best. When can we go?’
Susan, “That was hard. I’ll do the research, when I get a time, decent weather for the area, I’ll give you dates.”
Chris smiles, then sees that Susan is not so much frowning as just sort of neutral.
Chris, “What? You think of some reason it won’t work?”
Susan, “Don’t look around, just lean into me and listen, smile like we’re joking around.”
Chris doesn’t need an explanation, Susan spotted something and is telling her to be cool.
She leans into Susan’s right ear, Susan says, “Smiley and Unhappy are here. They’ve obviously followed us. One is coming to my left, the other to your right. Let them open the conversation, see what this is about,” Chris laughs, smiles, like Susan said something hilarious.
Smiley, “Hey Sammy, looka, it’s the broads from the Homestead, the snooty ones.”
Unhappy, “Yeah, snooty, dat’s a good woid. Uppity, like we ain’t good enough. Maybe cause we from Jersey.”
Smiley, “Whatsa matter ladies, Jersey not good enough for you?”
Chris has enough, “I’m from Jersey dipshit, it’s you that aren’t good enough for Jersey. You aren’t good enough to wipe up off the floor. Now move on, shitheel.”
Smiley touches Susan’s arm, “Your friend ain’t too polite.”
Susan, “Take your hand off me.”
Smiley goes stupid, he runs his hand down Susan’s arm and pats her thigh.
Chris stands, Unhappy puts his hand on her chest and shoves her, then he’s is wondering how his knee imploded,
Susan shoves her wineglass into Smiley’s face, it breaks. She has the stem and the coaster. She starts to stick the stem in his gut, decides it’s overkill, cracks her elbow hard against his temple and smashes his face against the wooden bar, kicks his knee sideways. He is on the floor demonstrating how to be unconscious.
Unhappy has a useless leg, Chris punches him in the sternum, as he gasps, she plasters her kneecap into his groin and gives him a hard shot with the heel of her palm underneath his chin. He flies up and back onto a table, scattering customers and dishes.
NYPD uniforms burst in, see two men badly busted up, one sleeping on the floor, the other across a table. A few customers vacate the premises during the action. The curious are now locked in the restaurant until the cops sort out the mayhem.
They question Chris and Susan, deciding whether to arrest them, when two detectives walk in, both of them known to me, and consequently Susan, from the Village Diner.
Detective Samuel, “What’s up Susan? Having a karate demonstration in Soho tonight?”
Susan smiles, “These two followed us from Old Homestead. You can call Jimmy. They wanted to buy us a bottle of booze, Jimmy came over and delivered the message, we declined. They left. Chris and I wanted to walk off dinner, so we schlepped over here to have a nightcap. Smiley and Unhappy, I don’t know names, apparently couldn’t take the idea that we weren’t impressed by their generosity. Smiley,” she nods to the one on the floor, “put his hand on me. I told him to remove it, he didn’t. There were consequences.”
Samuel calls Old Homestead, Jimmy confirms the story, “Those two assholes had the noive to follow them? Fuckers. Jersey huh? I’m gonna find out who these fucks are.”
Samuel, “Settle down, Jimmy. Susan and Chris put them down, way down. The EMS guys are hauling them off now. They aren’t going to leave the hospital for a while. The bartender backs up the story; these two appeared and accosted Susan and Chris. The customer next to her said she told him to take his hand off her, and that he didn’t. The bartender saw the other schmuck push Chris. That’s assault. We’re running the names down. The ladies are fine, they aren’t getting busted, it was simple self defense, we have stalking and intent to do bodily harm. The two dopes will be stuck in the tombs for a while.”
Jimmy, “Okay. Just unnerstand, I’m going to call Mini in the morning. He ain’t gonna be happy. But he’ll be more unhappy I don’t call him. These guys better hope they heal quick and get the fuck off this island and don’t never think about coming across the Washington, take the tunnels, or swim to Manhattan anytime ever.”
Samuel, “Fuck Jimmy. You call Mini and they might not get back to Jersey.”
Jimmy, “I got no choice, Sammy. Mini finds out I know the moms had trouble and I don’t go to him foist, I’ll be swimming to Jersey, maybe floating. Those women very politely declined the two pusses’ offer. Very politely. I delivered the message myself. There were no hard words, you know them, they sure as shit weren’t flirting with no guys.”
Samuel, “Okay. I’ll get Marsconi and Jocelyn to go see Mini tomorrow, early. I don’t need these two getting shived down the tombs for being stupid. They already get the shit kicked out of them. Tell Mini that. One guy has glass in his face, a broken knee and nose, and a concussion. The other has a knee that now works both ways, his balls crushed and a broken jaw. Let us sort it out. The women don’t have a scratch on them for Christ’s sake.”
Susan takes the phone from Samuel, “Hey Jimmy. Tell you what, Chris and I will go ever first thing and tell Mini ourselves, also that you wanted to call him and we insisted we’d pass that along. We’ll also be sure to explain you offered to have the two gentlemen removed, that you didn’t like them and we said to let it go. Fact is, we got to have some fun. Chris is kind of disappointed a patrol car is taking us home. She was hoping someone else would try to mug us walking back to the condo. Thanks for looking out for us. We won’t forget it.”
Jimmy seems pacified. Susan knows he isn’t exactly afraid of Mini, they’re friends in the underground network. It is more of a responsibility, that Jimmy inform a good connection that mutual friends had a bit of trouble. He knows Susan will follow up and make good but he’ll call Mini anyway, he would expect the same call if the thing had happened on Mini’s end. Professional courtesy.
I’m loving the recap, “Good show, Sis. You and C-mom brought performance art to the big deal Balthazar. I imagine it got the attention of the self indulgent crowd, which is most of the sissies in that joint.”
Susan, “It’s a pretentious meet and greet. New York is full of them. We live in Greenwich Village for God’s sake, what’s more ‘all that’ than that?”
“But you are all that. You’re why they have Greenwich Village in the first place. It’s all about you.”
Susan can’t help laughing, “And who knows every living soul, woman, man or beast in the area?”
“I have an geek mom and a street fighting other mom. Somebody has to know the neighbors.”
Chris, “Janah knows the neighbors, Nikko makes them keep their distance. Kara intentionally keeps a low profile, James is at the hospital all the time. So, I suppose you have a point. It’s you or nobody.”
“See, I’m the glue, Super glue, not Gorilla glue.”
Susan, “I thought this was supposed to be all about me, how did the attention get shifted to my little sister?”
“We’re going to the diner for lunch later. I’m glad you and C-mom went to see Mini early. He’s very protective of us, it’s good to keep him posted.’
Chris, “Jimmy called him late last night. By the time we got there this morning, Mini was checking on the guys. He might have a line on who they are by the time you get there.”
Janah, “He knows by now. He knew an hour after Jimmy called him. He just didn’t go into it with you.”
Susan, “Why not, we aren’t going after them? They did their thing, paid a pretty steep price. We’re done.”
Janah, “Susan, if these are two jerks from Jersey, nobodies who were out on the town, got their feelings hurt, that’s one thing. If they’re connected, Mini’s going to explain to whoever they’re connected to that they made a life changing mistake. And if whoever they’re connected to doesn’t understand that, then he’s making a life changing mistake.”
Susan stares at Janah, “Oh. Geez, did we start a war with this?”
Janah, “You didn’t start anything. You wanted to chat with your honey and two obnoxious jerks didn’t get the message and stalked you to Soho. You and C-mom finished what was poor judgment on their part. Relax. We’ll get the story. One way or the other, this is over.”
We go to the Village Diner around ten thirty. It’s after the breakfast crowd and before the lunch rush, Mini will have time to talk.
Janah goes in alone, Nikko and I jaw with the Jamaicans, Chuck spots her, nods his head to the back room. There are a dozen customers, mostly drinking coffee. She heads to the ladies, instead makes a right and into the storage room.
Come in the back door, Mini wants to meet with us, alone.
I say softly, in the general direction of Mighty Jim, “See anything unusual, go to Chuck.”
Mighty Jim gives the slightest nod. If anyone shows up at the diner that sets off their radar, Chuck would know in seconds. Mighty Jim doesn’t ask why. We want cover, the Jamaicans will provide it. After Nikko and I go in the service entrance, Chan appears. He sits in a back corner booth and Chuck brings him green tea and walks off. One of the cooks makes Chan an omelet, adds grilled vegetables and a stack of toast. There is no need to ask if a man his size is hungry. While Chan eats, we chat with Mini.
Mini, “Your moms new friends are mid-level management for the Scarlatti family in Jersey. The cheerful one, well, cheerful until Susan stuck a wine glass in his face, is Vinnie V, the Capo. The one they called Unhappy is Louie. He’s Vinnie’s enforcer. They were, fortunately, just hanging out, not working. Which means neither of them was carrying. Louie still woulda hadda weapon, he likes garrotes and blades. Miss Chris, she didn’t give him time to get to either of them.”
Janah, “So them being in Old Homestead was just bad luck?”
Mini, “And Jimmy didn’t recognize ‘em, because Smiley just made Capo. He’d been an associate, someone allowed around, but proving himself. Coupla years back, he made a big extortion score, and was given some more serious responsibility. Collections, running interference for the boss, jovial, but never said nuttin’, kept his mouth shut by keepin’ it runnin’.”
“Running his mouth about nothing.”
Mini, “Exactly. At first, he annoyed old man Scarlatti. But after the score, and his efficient handling of his new responsibilities, Scarlatti began to loosen up. Vinnie V was trusted because of his mouth. Louie did wet work and followed orders. Everybody was happy as a fresh glass of Chianti. One thing led to another, and Vinnie, Smiley, was made a Capo, with his own crew. He paid his tribute, on time and precisely. Scarlatti didn’t get to be an old Don by being stupid.”
“What was the point of drawing attention to themselves? They got politely turned down, there’s zillion women in New York, not to mention the strippers and prostitutes that must be easily available to a Capo and his sidekick.”
Janah, “Smiley has to be the type who figures he can talk anyone into anything. He was showing off for his buddy and got shot down. His ego got the better of him is my guess.”
Mini, “These guys all think they can take whateva they want. They don’t handle rejection so good, or I should say, they handle it with revenge. Vinnie got what he considered a public smack in the face. He couldn’t let go of it, particularly in front of Louie. Probably never coulda let go of it, Louie or no Louie.”
Janah, “So, where are we?”
Mini, “I hadda chat with Palumbo, he thinks you walk on water. He called Scarlatti. Scarlatti was already pissed one of his Capos made an ass of himself and drew attention. He don’t want no attention. Palumbo told him, anything should happen to the moms, or anyone related to the moms, or anyone in Manhattan for any reason, there would be a serious disturbance in business. And it wouldn’t go well, for either of ‘em. Scarlatti said there would be no repercussions from him, he guaranteed it personally. Palumbo thanked him for his good sense and that was that.”
Daphne, “So it’s over?’
Nikko, “I don’t think so.”
Janah, “Nikko must have a reason, you got any ideas, Mini?”
Mini smiles at Nikko, “She wasn’t born in the dark. I called Scarlatti myself.”
Daphne, “Who don’t you know, Mini?’
“Short list, particularly in the, uh, criminal element. Let’s say I did a little business with Scarlatti, a ways back. We ain’t pals, but I know him and he trusts me, with good reason.”
Janah, “So he told you more than he told Palumbo,” it isn’t a question.
Mini, “Yeah. He’s very embarrassed by the thing. Not that his guys got whipped, he likes that part. He’s embarrassed because Smiley let his dick do his thinking. Scarlatti don’t see the point. He said the same thing Daph brought up. They can have girls, good looking girls for free, no questions. They make a call, girl shows up, two or three if that’s what they want. But Vinnie, he had to have his chase, turn on his charm. The strippers don’t give a shit about no charm. They get paid, guys get laid.”
Janah, “His ego cost him serious pain.”
Mini, “Good. But not so good. See, Vinnie knows he’s out. That means Louie is out. Scarlatti told me what he didn’t want to tell Palumbo, he’s going to send them both to the bottom of the Hudson. From his point of view, it’s not a problem. He’s got lots of guys who want to be Capos. An another lots of guys who like being enforcers. Plenny interchangeable punks, like that plastic junk kids play with.”
Janah, “Legos. So Vinnie figures this out, he’s going to turn State’s evidence because if he keeps his mouth shut, he loses no matter what.”
Mini, “Yeah, geez, you oughta be in the crime business. You’d have these other guys out of the picture in a week. You could be the boss of all bosses.”
Daphne, “She’s got a family, some of whom are technically criminal.”
Mini grins, then gets serious, “Janah’s right, like that’s a surprise. Vinnie knows Scarlatti is going to deal with him, in a terminal way. He also knows if he shuts up, he goes to jail, for a relatively minor deal, stalking and assault. The assault charge might be hard to make stick, considering’ the outcome, but there was witnesses. And Jimmy will testify they made a play for the moms at the Homestead.”
Janah, “So he makes a deal to roll over on Scarlatti, go to witness protection. Any other option leaves him vulnerable, regardless of a few months in jail, or even probation.”
Mini, “He’s in a no win deal and he knows it. Scarlatti knows it too. He even suggested that if they didn’t make it to bail from the hospital, or even out of the hospital, he would consider it a favor.”
Janah, “So what now?’
Mini, “I fix it so they don’t get out of the hospital.”
“Okay? You’re going to let these putzes get offed for….,” I look at Nikko, who cocks her head, “Think about it Daph.”
“If these two go to Witness protection, the Feds spend a bundle to make a case against Scarlatti, who is old, and merely replaced by someone else. Then the government spends hundreds of thousands relocating and supporting these jokers, for an end result that improves nothing, except making the Feds look like big deal crime fighters.”
Nikko, “What else?”
“They get a hard on for revenge and go for the moms, which starts a war with Palumbo because Scarlatti didn’t take care of business when he should have.”
Nikko, “Shaolin is very wise.”
“Shaolin has an extra brain, a brainy brain.”
Nikko, “I only want your body, brain you can use as you see fit.”
Mini, “Rough life isn’t it, Daph?”
“I’m under a lot of pressure, they both expect me to be perfect.’
Mini, “You’ll manage. Don’t look here for no sympathy.’
“Actually, I do my best work under pressure.”
Janah, “Do you want us to do this? Don’t use up any favors. We can make them go from their hospital beds to the morgue before the sun comes up tomorrow.”
Mini, “I know. But it will put you immediately under suspicion. The cops know you don’t use no guns. Smiley and Unhappy are going to die the new fashioned way, before the sun comes up tomorrow.”
Nikko is alone with Susan early when the story comes over the local news.
The reporter stands at the entrance of a hospital, has the ‘grave situation’ face, “Two men suspected of being part of an underworld enterprise were executed in the criminal ward at this hospital on the East side of Manhattan. Circumstances are still unclear, the ward is restricted to medical personnel only, with a posted guard on the floor, and another who stays at the nurse’s station inside the ward. The two men were admitted only late the night before, after an altercation at a popular Soho restaurant.”
There is video of the hospital from the outside, no cameras are allowed in the hospital itself.
The reporter comes back on camera, “The ward was locked down, emergency stairwells were supposed to be locked, exits only, no entrance from the stairwell. I’m told that if the doors were opened for any reason, alarms go off, both at the nurse’s station, the ward entrance and the local police precinct a few blocks away. Police sources say no alarm sounded. Hospital staff and the NYPD are investigating, but as of yet have no leads and no witnesses. The names of the two men have not been officially released, but this reporter has discovered that one of the men is called Vinnie V, no last name and the other is Luigi ‘Louie’ Campezzi, both known associates of a New Jersey organized crime family headed by Sammy Scarlatti. We’ll continue to follow this story and update you on developments as they occur, stay tuned to Channel Two Live.”
The program cuts to a commercial.
Susan opens her mouth, stunned, looks up at Nikko, “You didn’t…..?’
Nikko, “We don’t use guns, I wouldn’t have let them die so quickly.”
Susan, “This is one of those things I should know as little about as possible, right?”
Nikko, “Less than that.”
Susan, “We never meant for it to balloon this way.”
“Those guys were criminals, one did hits, the other didn’t get made by helping the poor, he had to have whacked someone along the way to earn his stripes. The world is better off with them under it rather than on it.”
Susan shrugs, “I know it in my head, I’m okay, just sad. If they had minded their manners, they would be home today,”
“And somebody else would be dead next week.”