Chapter Fifty Seven
Janah, “You both know what’s on our minds, I’m presuming Daphne has filled in Amaya?”
Amaya, “Yes, and I agree, too busy.”
“We would have addressed this sooner, but Chris’ illness came up. Any attempt to rearrange then would have been impossible.”
Nikko, “Fridays at Hanshi’s can move to monthly. Daphne and I are both well trained in kendo and Amaya is geisha. Pouring more tea with my mother serves no purpose for training. They enjoy it, no reason not to move it to a monthly visit though.”
Janah, “That’s a start. Three Friday mornings a month is a decent pickup in time. For my part, I’m turning our schools entirely over to David. I’m going to withdraw from all aspects of the school including the Board. David can keep me posted, but I have enough temple duties without having to deal with school administrative matters.”
(An aside for those of you unfamiliar with our schools. As a consequence of our dealing with a couple of drug lords, we drained their very substantial bank accounts, bounced the cash around the world and it wound up under the auspices of the Shaolin Temple and the Sylk Foundation. It wasn’t chump change, over two hundred million US. Janah started two free schools in the Bronx, one for girls and one for boys. We have free full boarding for those who need it, and no fees or tuition for any student. Additional donations, via Mrs. Epstein and Mrs. Walker’s contacts, flow in regularly, including several corporate grants. The schools are flush, teacher compensation is the highest in the city, several are monks and require little compensation other than room, board a small stipend to cover clothes, a bit of walking around money. Monks don’t spend much, but it’s there if they wish to.
Janah continues, “That doesn’t free up an enormous chunk of time, most of the school administration has been handled by David anyway and the heads of both schools are monks. I’ve been loosening the reins, I’m letting them go entirely. For my Shaolin duties, I’m creating a temple administrative staff of two masters and two senior disciples. I will teach less frequently and remain as mostly ceremonial hostess for visitors. My work in the garden is not work, it’s down time.”
Nikko, “They won’t be coming to you for decisions when you’re there?”
“I’ll make it plain I am there to work with the plants. If I don’t answer questions, they’ll quit asking them. It’s up to me to create the space and the boundaries. They’ll catch on quickly enough. If someone is having a personal crisis, that’s different.”
“Nikko and I will practice more in conjunction with classes at the dojang. If we go in a couple of hours before class, we have time to beat each other up, practice free fighting and kendo. I don’t want to speak for Nishiko, but I think she’s done enough extra work with Kim and his black belts to back off that training.”
“Daphne and I have been at this for long enough that it makes sense to do only what it takes to keep our skills intact. We aren’t going to get better. The exception is qi, which seems to have no limit.”
Janah, “Not that we’ve found.”
“I don’t want to take more time from the property now. We have a roll going, I want to be on site, not more, but not less either.”
“Alright, unless there’s something else, I’m getting hungry. And I’d like a glass of champagne.”
Amaya pops and pours, I arrange light snacks, cut vegetables, crackers and nuts. Tonight is fried chicken, I decide on mashed potatoes, gravy, three bean salad. I open a box of lentil soup for Janah. I could make it myself but there are good organics that serve on short notice.
Janah, “Is there ice cream?”
“Always, hot fudge and whipped cream too.”
“Yay! Piggy time for Janah.”
Amaya, “Janah is easy to please.”
“Yep, tea, food, sex, she’s good to go.”
Chapter Fifty Eight
A bit of additional time is refreshing. More time with each other, right at the apartment. The dojang is easy walking distance, the condo less than three blocks. Taylor and Amaya shop, Taylor comes by the apartment for tea or dinner, often with Sis. Today, I’m at the condo visiting.
Susan, “I suppose you know Taylor has been staying over.”
“I catch her scent when I come in. How’s it working out?”
Susan, “Different than Chris and I. Taylor doesn’t like aggressive, she’s a sort of simmering passion, not a flaming one. Speaking of aggressive, different context, do you and Nikko still go at it?”
“Once in a while, we’ve slowed down. Nishiko got mellower as Amaya grew up. When Amaya and I became lovers, Nikko was silently relieved. There would be no outsider to deal with. We wouldn’t have cared if Amaya was straight, we assumed she would be. It would have meant being careful about who we are when the boyfriend was around. I would have been attracted to her nonetheless, just wouldn’t have done anything about it. I’ve been attracted to lots of girls, I don’t sleep with them, if they’re straight I don’t try to convert them.”
“But Amaya made it plain it was what she wanted.”
“Yep. She seduced me, didn’t take much seduction. We played the mistress-servant game, it was fun, let her have her way in a family of strong women. You trained her, with kickers from Chris and Lacy, turned her into a first class slutsky.”
“So you played along while she flexed her psychological muscles?”
“Good way to put it. Although I admit, playing subservient is fine with me, I like it.”
“I get it, Taylor seems to be adjusting.”
“She’s a flower, not a plant, a little like Amaya, although Amaya is stronger. Even though they’re a dozen years apart, Taylor gravitates to Amaya’s nurturing, not the other way around.”
“When you and Janah were first together, it took the adults time to figure out who was really the adult. We conceded that you were not children, everyone was an adult. You had a similar experience with Amaya.”
“Yes, different circumstances, similar outcome. We never treated Amaya like she was a victim. We talked about her former life factually. We refused to let any of it become an excuse to act out, become resentful or wrap herself in any cloak of victimhood. She talked about it for maybe a month, then less, then was caught up in creating herself. Janah didn’t give her much time to wallow around in self pity nor, to Amaya’s credit, did she try.”
Susan, “So she grew up quickly.”
“What there was of her childhood wasn’t very nice. We saw no point in starting her over in another childhood. Like reconstructing her at age ten. Janah decided to skip right to adolescent, then to adult. We treated her as if she was older. Amaya didn’t bat an eye, well, except to flirt.”
“Taylor was drifting into the party all night model thing. That’s how Chris met her. Chris got her off coke, she still went out, tried for aloof cool. She’s got the look. When she started hanging out here, the all nighters got infrequent, her calls for jobs picked up because she had her head together when she went to work. She’s untouchable in a photo shoot or runway walk. You offered the protein markers, she snapped that up, she always wondered why Amaya looked fifteen.”
“And you told her it is never to be mentioned.”
“She’s clear, said it herself, besides our caution she thinks nobody would believe her anyway.”
“Taylor is part of the family. Our family stays busy, so busy we have to prioritize. Dear Taylor is going to teach fashion and modeling at Chapmans, she just doesn’t know it yet.”
Sis screeches, “My God, what a perfect idea! Who thought that up? Had to be you, it wouldn’t occur to Janah or Nikko.”
“Didn’t occur to me either, it did to Amaya.”
“Just perfect. I wish Amaya was here so I could hug her. That girl is something. Taylor will be thrilled, she so wants to be wanted. I won’t say anything of course, when are you telling her?”
I’m silent for a bit, decide to see if Sis picks it up, “Amaya is telling her right now.”
“How do you know……, no, that can’t be it, you know because it was arranged for Amaya to ask her today.”
“I know that smile, you sneak. Amaya can mental can’t she? You know she is talking to Taylor right now because you can hear her.”
“Christ. What is it with you guys? Every miracle becomes another miracle. There was two as one, then three as one, now a fourth?”
“No. Just me, cause I’m sooo special.”
“Wait, you can mental Janah and Nikko, you can metal Amaya, but Amaya can’t mental Janah or Nikko?”
“Nope. Before you ask, I don’t know. Amaya discovered it, I didn’t try for anything. Janah thinks it has to do with strong intention, just like she found me. That’s as scientific as we have, not scientific at all.”
“You’ve worked out how to keep it from being confusing?”
“Yes. It doesn’t confuse Amaya, she can only hear me. Same with Janah and Nikko. I get two channels. At first it was a little like getting over-talk on a cell connection, where you hear snippets of some other call. We practiced, my brain sorted it out, brains are smart that way.”
“You are a strange beast. I couldn’t imagine a plain vanilla daughter.”
“I have good genetics, scion of a former housekeeper with barely a high school education who created a computer security empire from nothing. Glad you didn’t waste money on college.”
Susan, “I went to night school for tech. All I gave you was great legs.”
“And look how far they’ve taken me.”
Chapter Fifty Nine
Taylor is beaming when I get to the apartment, “I’m going to teach at Chapmans!”
“Maybe that’s what I’ll call the course. I don’t know anything about calculus, but it’s about motion and curves, which is modeling.”
Amaya, “That’s so smart. I like it. It’s going to be Chapmans favorite course. Any girl wants to learn to walk with confidence, and dress for the occasion, whatever the occasion. The makeup course alone will save girls from the makeup mishmash many of them fall into.”
“What did Lacy say?”
“Janah said she thinks it’s totally Chapmans, no different than teaching etiquette, which she considers a core course. Not everyone needs to know organic chemistry, everyone needs to know appropriate behavior.”
Taylor, “The Chemistry of Cosmetics. What do you think?”
“You are getting into this aren’t you?”
“You have no idea how good it feels to be able to share something I actually know about. I know it isn’t saving the earth or anything, still…”
“You’re saving the earth from fashion disaster. Based on what I see many women doing to themselves it ought to get government funding. When does class start?”
Taylor, “School begins in a month. I have until then to collect materials and outline a lesson plan. We’ll do makeup, fashion modeling, clothes and accessorizing. Parents should like the course because I’ll teach girls how to have a lot of looks with a few outfits. In my experience girls buy way too much and it does too little for them.”
“You’re going to have moms wanting to take the class.”
Amaya, “Moms hire me to shop with them. Taylor is going to take that on too.”
I look at Nikko, “They’ve been busy.”
“Daughter and Taylor had their heads together last night and all morning. Can you get them organized, perhaps a spreadsheet or timeline?”
“Love to. List everything you want to cover and your guess as to how long it each segment will take. It needn’t be perfect. I’ll show you how to create a calendar and timeline. Lacy will want to see all that, and you need to have it for the syllabus.”
Taylor, “What’s a syllabus?”
“A description of the course, a summary.”
“Ah, syllabus. I’ll remember that.”
“What are you going to call it, really?”
Amaya, “Be As Hot As Taylor Sylvan.”
“Thanks for the kind thought. I like the calculus idea, do you think it works, or is it dumb?”
“Runway Calculus and The Chemistry of Cosmetics have appeal, but not as course titles, subject titles perhaps. Or skip names associated with school subjects, no chemistry, no calculus. Still, I think the course name itself needs a bit of seriousness. It isn’t girl play at a slumber party. It is the more important business of intelligent shopping, dressing to suit the occasion and your personality. Presenting your best self. You will have to think it up. It’s your course. It should attract girls and let the parents know this isn’t playing dress up.”
“Okay, my job is cut out for me, course title, a syllabus, a list of topics and estimated time needed to cover each.”
“Yes, and as I said, don’t get all tied up in precision. The course will morph as it happens. What sounds like a good idea now may not work in class, or may take more or less time than you thought. You can’t know until you do it.”
Taylor and Amaya hustle off to her bedroom to make lists.
Nikko, “Still at Lacy’s. She mentaled me Lacy’s agreement for the course, I told Amaya and Taylor that it was a go. She and Lacy decided to have a yoga session.”
“Then I won’t tap into her now. If you go to the bedroom, I could tap into you. Call it part of our new relaxed work schedule.”
Nikko rises and heads to the bedroom, “When you are finished pleasing me, perhaps you will take a walk with me to the buildings. Be nice to get out and the women are going to be wrapped up in planning for the afternoon.”
“Disrobe and lay down, then don’t think. I’m going to make you see visions.”
Nikko follows my suggestion much to her immediate, extended and ultimate delight…and mine, she is sooo hot…everywhere. I know because that’s where I went.
It’s warm in the city, warm as in hot, I call for a car. The black town car is waiting at the door, driver opens the door, nice and cool inside, he has us at Fong’s in under fifteen. It isn’t far, it’s that Chinatown traffic is heavy, crowded with pedestrians and the side streets are narrow.
Mrs. Fong, “Ah, Shaolin and beautiful Nishiko. You come in private car, getting fancy for monk. You going to start putting on airs like old priests?”
“Hi, Mrs. Fong. Nope, it’s wicked hot and more efficient than waving down taxis. I have to admit, it’s convenient. Getting soft I guess.”
“Not likely. You want tea?”
“That would be nice, time to visit?”
“Come to office. Visit and work.”
Her office, behind the kitchen, is minimalist and small. Hardly reflects her net worth, Nikko knows what she owns, but isn’t privy to her bank accounts. The property we have a share in over a hundred million. It’s produced income for the family and Fong for years. Her other property Nikko estimates at two hundred million minimum. Fong spends almost nothing, never leaves Chinatown as far as we know.
She goes over numbers with Nikko, I sip tea and keep a close eye on Nishiko’s exquisite profile.
There’s nothing unusual in the reports, leak in a pipe that maintenance replaced, cooling system repair in one of the buildings, three new tenants bringing us to ninety-five percent occupancy. Nikko runs the numbers, lower rents and higher occupancy maximize cash flow, more maintenance comes with more tenants but the bottom line is even blacker, maybe I should take private cars all the time.
Nikko, “I’ll visit a few tenants and speak with maintenance. Is there anything else I need to know?”
Mrs. Fong, “Nothing in my notes. You run the buildings like watch, Mrs. Fong is relieved of many nuisances. I may live a few more months with time to enjoy my grandchildren.”
“You are required to live many more years, your grandchildren need you and I need your continued guidance. Dying is not permitted.”
Mrs. Fong almost smiles, “Thank you precious one. If you can tolerate priest, then I can put up with her as well. Good for her she found you. White Angel is well?”
“Janah is good and sends her regards. She’s visiting Susan with Lacy. We decided to cut back on our activities. Amaya takes our attention, and with Chris’ passing we want to make sure Susan is looked after.”
“So sad. Miss Chris too young to be taken from us. I will miss her good sense. I read her books, very exciting. Too bad there will be no more.”
“There’s good news about that. Amaya worked with Chris and is finishing the last book. She has all Chris’ notes and records, she may write more books in that style as well.”
Mrs. Fong brightens, “Then she will live on! And Mrs. Fong gets to read more adventures. I look forward to them.”
“I’ll tell Amaya that grandmother is expecting high standards to be maintained. She works well with, um…encouragement.”
“Girl is a jewel. You take care of her or Mrs. Fong will be most annoyed.”
“She has Daphne trained to anticipate her every need."
“Then priest is good for something at least. You have many responsibilities priest, White Angel, Amaya, your mother, your students and look after old Fong. You are not allowed to overlook any of them, it is your duty.”
She tries for stern, she almost makes it, misty eyes give her away, “Go now! No time for sentiment, work to do, do it!”
She stands, we kiss her, “Well, I have my future planned.”
Nikko, “She demonstrates her caring by her demands.”
“Like Hanshi. I don’t mind, I’m willing to be cared about any way they care to care.”
After visiting maintenance and a half dozen tenants, we take a ride all the way to midtown, I ask the driver, “Up Broadway to 73rd and take a right please.”
A few minutes later we’re in Alice’s Tea Cup, a smoked salmon sandwich for me and Alice’s BLT for Nikko, Pu Erh tea for us both.
I mental Janah, Need anything while we’re out?
On the way.
That’s all I need.
I check in with Amaya, she and Taylor are vibrating on her bed, Am I interrupting?
Amaya, We are doing a battery check. We did not do each other, well, we made out a little, then she spotted the tools in my nightstand, I made a suggestion, she seemed pleased. She seems really pleased right now. Come home, I need to be explored.
You came to the right place, exploration is my middle name.
I heard a giggle, then a gasp, I disconnect.
Nikko, “What’s Amaya up to?”
“She and Taylor are dissipating the charge on low tech electronics.”
“You are disgraceful.”
“Amaya doesn’t think so.”
“She decided to expand her horizons?”
“They are playing separately, but together. I couldn’t blame her if she wanted to take it further, Taylor is ultra-hot. I’d do her in a heartbeat, but they didn’t go there.”
“That’s because Amaya is a sensitive young lady, you, on the other hand, are a bona fide slut.”
“I should be disciplined.”
Nikko knows just the right thing to say, now I’m warming up. Having more free time is working out deliciously.