Chapter Sixty One IV
Madness is a special form of the spirit and clings to all teachings and philosophies, but even more to daily life, since life itself is full of craziness and at bottom utterly illogical.
Man strives for reason only so far that he can make rules for himself. Life itself has no rules. That is its mystery and its unknown law. What you call knowledge is an attempt to impose something comprehensible on life.
Carl Jung, Liber Novus
We stop for a chat with the Jamaicans, nothing unusual, no one asking questions, business is good. We cross the street to the Village Diner.
Chuck, “Ah, the girls. I’m seeing hungry girls, not just a coffee and tea visit.”
Janah, “You got it. Please ask Mini to make whatever he’s in the mood for, usual drinks.”
Chuck, “Coming up,” he moves off in his abnormally quick way, years of practice getting the order and delivering it to the customer fresh, hot or cold, as ordered.
I take my Coke and go to chat with two transit cops I know, we tell clean and dirty jokes to each other, I get a month’s worth of subway adventures. When Mini brings the food, I excuse myself and join Janah and Nikko, Mini sits next to Janah.
“You got that curiosity look you get. Which means you gotta question for me.”
“Good thing I don’t have to keep secrets from you. Yes, in fact, I have several questions, none of which I ever asked.”
Mini, “I never heard no questions. We sat here and shot the breeze about old times. When you and Daph was kids hanging out here.”
“What can you find out about who runs biker gangs along the Gulf Coast?”
Mini, “You want to know about bikers? Geez, they drink beer, eat meth, and ride around on stupid looking hogs. They ain’t got shit on your average Mexican crew. No discipline.”
“Not the gangs, we know who they are. We want to know who’s running them. They extort or sell product, then pass along tribute up the line, to six lieutenants, two Capos, then one guy. Like Mel Gibson’s character Porter, in Payback, maybe Daphne’s favorite movie, Porter asks, 'Who makes the decisions? and the guy he’s talking to says, Well, a committee would make the decision in this case...
Porter says, 'One man... you go high enough you always come to one man... who?'
Janah, “We know who that is, what we don’t know if he’s where the buck stops? We think so, but if we go down there to clean up this act, we want to clean up all the act. If he’s got obligations further up, it hasn’t surfaced. We’ve, uh, compromised his communications, he doesn’t appear to report anyplace. Can you find out, without creating even a ripple of suspicion on the surface?”
Mini, “I love that. Compromised his communications. You should work for the NSA, except you don’t work for nobody. You mean you have his phones tapped, his place bugged and his network mapped out.”
“Like that, yeah.”
Mini, “I’ll ask around, don’t worry, I know who to ask…and how. Your boy won’t know diddly. You come here in say three days max. I’m gonna tell you who his granny was, where she came from and who her high school sweetheart was and when he knocked her up.”
“It was nice reminiscing with you Mini, and thanks for the superb lunch.”
Mini looks over the plates, everything is gone, like they had been vacuumed, “Did you get enough? I could bring dessert.”
Janah, “You brought plenty. We just eat a lot. Nishiko had an entire egg. Somebody else inhaled the rest, Daphne maybe.”
“Three days, I want to check my sources, and then check my checks. I ain’t letting my girls go no place in the dark.”
We pay the tab, leave for the apartment. Nikko stops at the cart and Mr. Vitali makes her a dog with kimchi with a bottle of cold green tea, we sit on the curb while Nikko eats the volcanic mixture and downs the bottle of tea.
“That’s stuff is hotter than molten steel. You aren’t even sweating.”
Nikko, “Good for immune system, and makes Nikko horny.”
“Can I get you another?”
Nikko kind of smiles, “Let’s go home. I think a lot of relaxation is in order. This job has a bad feeling about it.”
“You think we should pull out?”
Nikko looks at me like I’m the idiot child, “And miss the fun? I have the feeling it’s going to be messy and difficult. A bad feeling is good.”
“Sounds inscrutably oriental, probably over my head.”
We spend the afternoon doing lesbian sex things, repeatedly. Unlike guy sex, girl sex isn’t over with the first orgasm. That’s just the warm-up, there are two, three or four orgasmic orgasms that can follow...if you know what you’re doing. We know.
Starting the next morning, Nikko and I do our mixed routine for three days, temple, building, light training. Janah stays at the apartment, thinking over the targets and the job. She spends an hour on yoga, a half hour walking around on her hands, even up and down the stairs to the meditation loft. That’s the worst. It requires perfect balance, one hand on one step, the other moving to the next, push herself up, or let herself down with the one hand, balance on the step, move to the next. Her shoulders and arms scream for mercy at the end.
By the time we return, Janah’s got gel packs across her shoulders, drinking a concoction of liquid protein, freeze-dried powdered berries from Nutri-Fruit, Chia seeds and vanilla yogurt blended with ice cubes. It’s something I made up that Nikko will sip on. Besides having very few calories, it tastes good, high protein and antioxidants, minimal carbs and cools down your body after a grueling workout.
“Got a plan, I haven’t felt anything?”
Janah, “I’m in roux mode.”
That means, in Cajun cooking terminology, “First you make a roux.”
What that means is, whether it’s gumbo, grits and grillades, bisque, or almost any other Cajun concoction involving a brown base, roux is the base. A good roux is a long term tedious project. It consists of oil, preferably lard or bacon grease or butter and flour, cook it slowly over very low heat; very slooowwly, or it will burn and be instantly useless. It may take thirty minutes, depending on the chef’s skill, and it has to be stirred constantly. Too brown, and it’s dead, too light and it’s glop. Done right, it makes the dish. When I make gumbo, I make a veggie version with butter and flour for Janah, she gets okra gumbo with firm tofu. The rest of us have shrimp and crab with okra. It doesn’t bother me that it takes forever, I’m the girl who spends ten minutes slow cooking scrambled eggs and consider that rushing it. Standing in front of a hot stove stirring stuff is my meditation.
“Let’s go to the diner, let’s see, it’s eleven now, clean up, do hair things, take your time. Maybe give each other a manicure. I’ll shower when you’re done, I want the gel packs to sit for a while longer and I don’t want to go to the diner until one or one thirty. Lunch rush will be gone by then. After I talk to Mini, I’ll finalize a plan. Tomorrow, we bring in Chan and see if he has anything to add.”
Nikko and I head off for a long shower, hair washing and drying, swap a buff and clear polish manicure. By the time we’re dressed, it’s quarter to two. We head for the diner.
Janah, “Nikko, please check in with the Jamaicans, then meet us inside.”
Nikko drifts over to the table and nods at Quiet Man. He shakes his head, nothing to report, she blinks, turns and comes across the street to the diner. Chuck brings over tea and coffee, then Mini rumbles out of the kitchen and slides in next to Janah. Chuck brings a grilled veggie sandwich, turkey and ham for Nikko and me, a stack of fries and the diner’s crispy dill pickle slices. Nikko covers her end of the sandwich with Tabasco Habanero sauce, I open my side for a couple of shakes. You like hot? Buy some, use sparingly until you grow up.
Mini, “Afternoon, ladies. The name is Kazuo Nakamura, his Capos are Mikio Inoue, drugs, and Nobu Yoshida, extortion.”
Nikko, “Kyoto men.”
Daphne, “How do you know that?”
“All Kyoto surnames. My father may know of them.”
Janah, “All Japanese, that’s interesting. The lieutenants are Japanese?”
Mini, “I don’t have the lieutenants’names, too suspicious to ask for more information. I do know they’re all Japanese, and all ninja.”
“Let me get this in my mind. Three Japanese from Kyoto, at least family names from Kyoto, have six ninjas controlling six biker gangs of skinheads? That doesn’t even make sense.”
Mini, “I collect information, making sense of it is Janah’s job.”
Janah, “Thank you Mini, you did great, better even. In fact, it is beginning to clear up now. We’ll be out of town for a bit. If I need more, I’ll call, but I think you’ve solved my problem.”
Mini shrugs, “What did I solve?”
Nikko, “Her problem.”
“Okay, I get it, it’s all I need to know.”
Nikko, “See, life is simple. Don’t make simple complicated.”
Mini makes his way back to the kitchen, “Get busy cleaning up, this place is a mess. I want to see my face shining on the floor and in every pot….NOW!!!”
The staff keeps doing what they were doing, Mini is just letting them know he’s back.
Chuck comes over, “Anything else, girls?”
I takes the check, “Nothing, Mini just solved Janah’s most recent problem, we’re completely content.”
“He did? Good for him, he’s well connected and reliable.”
“And handsome, don’t forget handsome.”
Chuck laughs, “Don’t get carried away, pretty he ain’t.”
We leave, Chuck goes to the kitchen, “Janah says you solved her problem, care to tell me what you solved?’
Mini, “Frick if I know. I gave her information that didn’t make much sense, she said I solved her problem. It’s Janah, who knows how that mind works?”
“Nobody but Daphne. She said you were handsome, so I know she’s got a vastly different perspective on things.”
Mini, “Sounds like she has a poifect prospective.”
Chuck walks away. He respects his partner, and he loves us, but he thinks we’re some strange mammajammas. He’s right.
Chapter Sixty Two IV
Sometimes we just lay around the apartment
like Louisiana alligators buried in the shaded swamp.
Notwithstanding our torpor, it doesn’t pay to irritate the gators.
Nikko, “Since Daphne already knows how Mini solved the problem, mind letting me in on the solution?”
Janah, “Chan will be over in a minute, I’ll bring him up to date and then suggest a solution. We’ll do what we usually do, work it over and see if there’s a better way, add or subtract anything.”
A knock on the door, “It’s open,”
Chan sits next to Janah on the mat. Janah brings him up to date on the nature of the refocusing.
She asks if he has any thoughts on the solution, he’s quiet for a minute, then, “This is one we work from the bottom up.”
Janah, “Exactly, my brother. Is it getting clearer now, Nishiko?”
Nikko’s eyes glisten, this is going to be more fun than she’d anticipated,
“Perfectly. Bikers first, lieutenants, then capos, then boss. We get to refocus one biker gang at a time, six gangs, how many members in a gang?”
Janah, “We don’t know exactly, but likely a dozen in the core, the ones who count. More than that gets difficult to manage, there’s always a loose cannon in gangs. This isn’t an old guys' Harley club. More members mean more management problems.”
Chan, “Once we do the first group, the others will be on guard? Or do they keep some distance from each other?”
Janah, “The Society is double checking, initial impression is they don’t cross paths much.”
“If we go for the boss and Capos, the lieutenants will simply rearrange and take over. If we do the lieutenants, there will be some disarray for a while because the links in the chain are broken. The bikers might start getting their macho on.”
Janah, “Daphne’s hit on something. If we break the links in the middle, communication breaks down between the bikers and the Capos. Then handling the bikers may be easier. Obviously they’ll start thinking one of the other gangs is making a play, but it won’t take too long for them to sort out that an outside party has cut communication lines.”
She calls Mrs. Epstein, “Look for a list of ingredients needed to make a stew, contact me when you have the recipe.”
Janah, “Now nothing to do but figure out what we want for dinner.”
Chan, “Ning will be over later, she’s doing everything. Insists sisters rest, she knows there is work.”
He leaves, four thirty, time to chill. I cue up Ironman, which we hadn't seen, and we lay motionless across the mat watching Robert Downey invent impossible things, then kill people with them.
At six-thirty, the phone rings, it’s Ning. Janah listens, “They’re on the way, Daph, would you get the table arranged?”
Nikko stands, “I should ask father to discreetly inquire about Kyoto names?”
“His information might prove most useful. The Society doesn’t reach to Japan.”
Ning prepared a huge pot of Kung Pao chicken, using the traditional Schezuan version, the key ingredient Schezuan peppercorns, with mock duck and tofu instead of chicken. Ingredients marinate all day in oil, ginger, rice wine vinegar and soy sauce. She added water to cornstarch, thickening the sauce after she seared the peanuts and peppers in my big cast iron pot, a much used inheritance from Ms. Alva. There is brown rice on the side. Ning adds extra vegetables besides shallots, green, red, yellow peppers, water chestnuts, snow peas and chopped broccoli.
An extra treat of fried cauliflower with parmesan sprinkled on top for an appetizer, one of our many favorites.
After dinner, I blend vanilla and chocolate ice cream, milk and malt mix in the blender, top the malts with whipped cream, stick in straws and everyone watches a boxing match on Pay Per View, Mayweather - Mosley. It’s clear Mayweather won, and the cards had it all his way.
The Li family heads to their apartment, I rinse and pile the dishes in the dishwasher. By the time I brush and flush, Nikko and Janah are dead to the world, I’m asleep moments later.
In the morning I tap into my other, Everyone was tired last night, so nobody asked the obvious question.
Janah, “ou mean how does it make sense for a Japanese gang to be ordering around six biker gangs?
Yeah, you going to explain it? Or does it matter?
It’s really too simple to require much explanation.
Maybe for you.
Okay, besides, Mrs. Epstein will ask if the others don’t, unless it appears obvious to her as well.
I’m mentaling Janah while making breakfast, she’s still in bed. Nikko is starting to stir, unusual for her to wake later than me. While they shower Nikko nibbles her a delightful orgasm while Janah leans against the shower wall.
Well, at least somebody got their cookies crumbled.
“’ll take care of you later, right now, food.
Come and get it while you’re hot.
Soft scrambled eggs, waffles, crispy bacon for Nikko, grits with butter and heavy cream, mixed fruit. Nikko goes beyond her four strips of bacon, includes a hefty spoonful of egg, another of grits and an entire piece of fruit.
There is a knock on the door, Janah goes to the bedroom to put on something more substantial than nothing, she appears in a monk’s robe and returns to her breakfast.
Chan sits and I put a plateful of everything on front of him.
Chan, “Ning made breakfast an hour ago.”
“All those calories are gone, have some fresh calories.”
Chan never has trouble eating, all the muscle burns calories supporting all the muscle.
He asks, “It didn’t come up last night, so I’ll ask now. Why would bikers deal with Japanese, particularly as bosses.”
Janah, “I don’t know for sure, I think I have a pretty good idea. Japanese men are easy to recognize. But people have certain expectations of bikers, true or not. The Japanese figure nobody is going to believe that the biker crowd is going to report to Japanese employers. My guess is the Japanese sold them on the idea that no one would make a connection either upstream or downstream. The bikers could pretend to be working for themselves, and I suspect one gang is suspicious of another. The lieutenants keep the gangs in line, and separated. I think those sneaky Orientals have done a sales job on the biker leaders. I also think that, being ninja, it gives them a mystery and panache the bikers think is cool.”
She asks Nikko, “How am I doing?”
Nikko blinks, “Sneaky Orientals no doubt removed a head or two to prove a point. Once the bikers saw a demonstration, they decided making money was better than being dead.”
Chan, “Ah so.”
Nikko throws a spoon at him, he snatches it midflight and sets it down gently next to his plate.
She almost grins, Chan catches the humor in her eyes, she in his. Chan would only tease his beloved Japanese sister, who sings poems to his children and is teaching his daughter both a third language and remarkable parkour skills.
Nikko, “One too many sneaky Orientals at breakfast.”
Janah, “Maybe three too many, your sister has Japanese blood, and her mother has even more. I’m the one who has to keep her round eyes open.”
The laughter is universal for once, even Nikko giggles.
Chan, “It is good to see my sister laugh, I promise to tell no one she can actually smile, although she can’t help herself around Miyako.”
Nikko, “Too hard, even for Nikko. She is my delight.”
Chan helps clear the dishes, I pour fresh black tea and we sit around the table to discuss the coming days.
Janah, “Mrs. Epstein will have complete files for us by the time we hit the coast. My thought is to fly to Atlanta and drive down in two cars. It’s under four hundred miles from Atlanta to Mobile. A hundred fifty from Mobile to New Orleans, almost six hundred from New Orleans to Corpus Christi Texas. A hundred miles from Mobile, east, to Destin Florida.”
Nikko, “So, eight hundred miles plus from Corpus to Destin.”
Janah, “That’s about it. Directly from Corpus to Destin is shorter by a bit, you don't have to dip down to New Orleans if you use I-12. We may fly to Houston first. I need more information from the Society. The boss is located in Florida, not even the coast. He stays away from the actual area of operations. He’s in Orlando, with a summer home clean over in San Francisco. One of the Capos lives in New Orleans, the other in a small community east of Destin called Seaside, a tourist and retirement community. Quiet, nothing like New Orleans. He moves up to a condo in Atlanta during the hottest part of the summer and rents in Orlando or Miami in the coldest stretch of winter. But he prefers to stick to Seaside. One likes city life, the other more quiet.”
Chan, “I presume the lieutenants have to stay on the move, keeping order, making collections, deal with disputes and insure there is not too much skimming.”
Janah, “The Society is nailing down the contact locations, we’ll see if we need them, or if it makes more sense to hit them where they live.”
“I doubt there’s much skim, the lieutenants supply the drugs, they get paid up front. They know what the weekly extortion payments are. The only holes are new small business owners. They are intimidated into payments and the bikers maybe don’t report the money for a while.”
Nikko, “That would be a lot of risk for a small reward. The Japanese are following the bikers, they just don’t know it. If a couple of bikers extort an unknown and don’t pass along the payment, they lose their heads. The lieutenants don’t mind, they make an example and keep the others in line.”
Janah, “And the bikers have it good. A reliable source of drugs to sell, legal support for any problems, run more upscale prostitutes, also provided by the lieutenants. They would be stupid to buck a profitable simple system for bit more income. Maybe some of them are that dumb, but I suspect they get caught quickly.”
“Such a violent group.”
Nikko, “You mean like us.”
“Well, yeah, but we don’t do it for money.”
“Said the girl who became a multimillionaire stealing from drug lords.”
Chapter Sixty Three IV
Life is not recountable,
and it seems extraordinary that men have spent
all the centuries that we know anything about,
determined to tell what cannot be told…
Javier Marias, Your Face Tomorrow, Fever and Spear
The phone rings around two, “Time for tea and snacks, say three thirty?”
Janah, “We’ll be there.”
“See you soon.”
The phone conversations with Mrs. Epstein are usually abbreviated and without referential content. Common phones are far too easy to tap, and tracing via GPS is getting simpler by the day. During refocusings, Janah only speaks to the Society by special Iridium satellite phones, even then there are a variety of code words for car changes, hotels, suspect locations and special equipment, including the various drug concoctions Janah uses to gain target cooperation. Computer messages are routed through a variety of worldwide locations and encrypted every step of the way.
Susan spent time hacking the network, fix cell locations or monitor e-mails. So far, she’d only found one hole, plugged it and hasn’t been able to hack it since. If Sis can't get in, it isn't getting hacked.
I’m rather insulted that nobody is trying to monitor us, where have all the secret agents gone? But our range is expanding, there’s a widening body of individuals and groups with grudges. So far, though, the people we’d dealt with weren’t tech savvy, my dream of being Mission Impossible XXIX will have to wait.
We’re seated in Dr. Epstein’s office, sipping tea, enjoying finger sandwiches, cookies and petit fours.
“This is too good. Can we come over for tea every day?”
Mrs. Epstein, “I wish. Life has far too much for you to do, unfortunately.”
Janah, “Speaking of which….”
“We have the home bases of all six gangs located, names and photos. We have photos of the lieutenants and Mikio Inoue, Capo one, Nobu Yoshida, Capo two, and Kazuo Nakamura, top of the food chain.”
“Okay, from now on its C1, C2 and B. Then L1 through L6. If I understand this correctly, and it’s me so I must, they don’t call themselves Capos and Lieutenants, so the references won’t mean anything to them if they get wind of us.”
Janah, “We don’t call her Ms. Humility for nothing.”
Mrs. Epstein, “I don’t want her humble, I want her confident and capable.”
“That won’t be a problem.”
Janah rolls her eyes, “Let’s go to the movies.”
We spend the next hour watching the Ls meet with gang leaders, Surveillance did their usual extraordinary work, shots are clear, even in the twilight or at night, the A/V equipment is military grade. The biker leaders range from skinhead young men, to long haired greybeards, the similarities are leather and tattoos. They aren’t trying for invisibility, rather going for intimidation.
After we watch, Janah asks, “Any thoughts on the Japanese, Nishiko?”
Nikko, “The Ls, suits like Japanese salarymen, hair’s different from the average office worker, longer. The common thread in this group is that they’re razor thin and clearly fit. The look like versions of a Japanese Bruce Lee. They walk the walk, best to assume they’re dangerous.”
Janah, “What about the others?”
Nikko, “C1 and C2 look like ordinary Japanese bosses, older, not gone to seed, but heftier. The Ls show them respect, more an imitation of respect. The Boss is unsmiling, clearly serious and demanding. The Cs are deferential, almost obsequious.”
“Explain about the Ls.”
Nikko, “They clearly talk among themselves, although they are supposed to keep a certain distance. You saw them bow, but not low, barely a tilt of the head. They met with the Cs separately, so we never see them as a group, but I’ll bet my sword they talk frequently, and not respectfully, about the Cs and the Boss. The bikers mean nothing to them, macho posturing fool tools for collection and delivery. L4 is not quite the same. He gave more deference to his Capo. Depending on the view one takes, he’s either the most reliable or the least.”
Janah, “I concur. Although I saw a slight difference in L6.”
Nikko, “Observant round eye. L6 plays the middle. He has the brains not to raise his Capo’s suspicion, or of the other Ls. If the Capos and boss disappear, L6 will take over. He has his eye on bigger things, and slyly waits for his moment.”
Sly, to Nikko, is a compliment, not an insult. It’s quiet in the room. Everyone can feel Janah’s wheels turning. She’s pondering whether it makes more sense to deal with him first or last.
Ten minutes pass, Janah in a kind of trance, we wait. Janah blinks.
“Let’s run through the photos.”
It takes another hour to view all the shots, there are three hundred pictures, in every city, roadside rest stops, restaurants. Several snaps of homes of the Cs and the Boss. Favored hotels of the Ls, the hangouts of the bikers.
Janah, “Since the videos and photos are dated, we have a feel for the routines, when drugs and money are exchanged, when extortion payments are made. The Ls meet their biker contacts twice a month, they deliver the Capos’ cut immediately. The Capos each deliver a third of their take to the boss.”
Daphne, “So if it’s a hundred thousand total, fifty per Capo, then they send sixteen thousand and change to the boss, he gets his thirty three or thirty four thousand, they keep theirs. Wonder why he doesn’t take half?”
Nikko, “Gives the Cs more incentive to cut him out. It’s not the Japanese way. The Boss wants deference and respect. The money is good and he doesn’t do anything dangerous. Plus, I’m certain all expenses are eaten by the Capo’s down. They front the money for drug buys, they deal with legal problems, payoffs to the cops and judges.”
Janah, “I need to go home and think.”
We say our goodbyes. At home, Janah goes to the meditation loft. Nikko and I walk two blocks to see the moms.
Susan opens the door, “Can I help you? You must be new around here.”
“Sarcasm will get you ignored. We have to travel, and it’s going to take some time.”
Chris, “My babies!” She hugs us, “Sit down, I’ll make the coffee, want anything to eat?”
“Coffee’s good, make it like you mean it, we’ve just had tea with the Epsteins, which means high tea, baby sandwiches, cakes, the works. It was good, too. Nikko nearly ate something, but settled for several cups of tea. Janah, Chan and I made up for her.”
Susan, “Sounds normal, including the thing we don’t know you’re doing.”
“We’re going on a long retreat, maybe month. Chan would very much appreciate it if the moms looked in on Ning, visited the Murakamis, and Mrs. Fong. You’ll get a retreat update from time to time from Mrs. Epstein. I get restless after two weeks away, so we may be back sooner.”
Susan nods, Chris says nothing. If it’s a month long and Chan is going, the meaning is clear.
I gaze into the air, they see the tender smile I smile when Janah is in my head, “Oh, just got a note from the boss, Black is going too.”
Susan frowns, I say, “No pouting. Look at it this way, you have a reason to see Sonia.”
Susan, “Silver lining surrounds dark cloud.”
“You sound like a misfortune cookie.”
Susan, “I’ll get over it. It’s mostly my selfishness, Nishiko will be gone for a month. My hair will likely be a mass of knots when she gets back.”
“Lacy will straighten out your hair, curl your toes, too.”
Chris laughs, “Such talk, and from a Shaolin priest!”
“I never said I was a good Shaolin priest. David is a good Shaolin priest, like Master Hue. Black, Chan and I are just mediocre. The schools are fine. Paul Winstrom and Mingzhu Wei has them running like quantum clocks. The RSGs might appreciate a visit, but family obligations first. Are we overburdening you with stuff?”
Chris, “My schedule is my own. Sis has client obligations, how soon are you leaving?’
Susan, “Everything will be taken care of, where do you think you got your organization genes?”
Nikko, “Can we take everyone to dinner? Moms, Lacy, Dr. Svensson? It will be good to go out and get caught up on everyone else, not bland talk about retreats.”
“Splendid. If Sis will pick a place, we’ll meet everyone there later. Might as well have a mini blowout before sitting in meditation for a month.”
Susan and Chris look at each other, say exactly the same thing at exactly the same moment, “Old Homestead.”
C-mom calls Jimmy.
Chapter Sixty Four IV
Are you regular stupid, or biggie size?
“Lieutenant 2 lives in an apartment in the north of Houston. Houston is spread out all over the place, six hundred square miles, not counting suburbs. It’s like a cancer that just keeps acquiring new territory. He’s at least forty five miles from the biker’s hangout, and it’s still Houston. That’s almost creepy.”
Janah, “You live in a city with eight million people in a area the size of some of Houston’s neighborhoods, and there are six million living here.”
“That’s because we grew UP, not OUT. No wonder people there are fat, they drive everyplace. Look at the Google map, it’s all interstate this or that. I bet there’s not a decent deli in the entire town.”
Nikko, “If Mistress is done complaining, can we rest? I want to take out L2 tomorrow morning. Big deal ninja. This is my turf, you can have fun with bikers. Does Master J approve?”
Janah, “How could I refuse?. It would be insulting my favorite dominatrix.”
Nikko, ‘Good, then it's settled. Now Nikko goes to rest. Everyone should rest, Nikko plans to watch while you handle the bikers. Of course, there are twelve, so I may have to insert myself, but I prefer to observe my brothers and Daphne deal with only twelve men. Nikko will keep an eye on Master J.”
Black, “Sounds like a plan, I’m tired. Let’s get to the sack, “ he asks Janah, “What time we need to hit it?”
Janah, “Early. I don’t want L2 wandering off, even though Surveillance is monitoring him. The main problem is traffic, so Daphne, please get the cars for six a.m. Let’s get through town and catch him before he hits the street. Surveillance says he’s a night guy, seldom leaves the apartment before noon. I have a plan for Nikko to rouse him earlier, chat with him in Japanese or, more likely, in kendo.”
It’s quarter to seven in the morning, quick stop at Starbuck’s, two cars are down the block facing each other. Black and me in one, Janah, Nikko and Chan in the other.
It’s one of those gated places, high end. Surveillance has his apartment number, it takes Chan about five seconds to crack the lock on the gate, he follows Nikko into the complex. They find L2’s car.
Nikko calls his cell phone, he’s either asleep or he lets the voice mail pickup.
She leaves a message in Japanese, “Ninja boy. I’m waiting for you,” there is a loud sound, glass breaking, “that was your front windshield,” again the sound of metal twisting, “that was your hood being removed. Come to your car and bring your katana. Bring anything else, you won’t make it to the parking lot.”
She disconnects, Chan goes to the man’s apartment and makes himself invisible. The apartments have only front doors, Chan doubts he’ll crawl out a window.
Ten minutes later, a slim Japanese man in sweats comes out silently, looks around cautiously. He can look for a hundred years, he isn’t going to spot Chan.
Nikko knows either the man would appear, or that Chan would return. If Chan showed up, it meant the guy had a gun and Chan had painfully disarmed him.
But L2 appears, sword in hand, hadn’t bothered with sheathing it, rather rude she thinks. He is angry and anxious to find out about his expensive BMW. He’s really pissed when he sees the windshield shattered and the hood lying on the ground next to his formerly pristine wheels. He scans the lot, neither anxious nor fearful. But Nikko can see he’s not just being in the moment either. He has been left a message in well spoken Japanese by someone who knows him as a ninja. He isn’t afraid, he’s annoyed…’good enough’ Nikko thinks. She steps into the light of the underground lot, her katana sheathed, his in his hand, dangling at his side.
He raises his sword, Nikko unsheathes hers and is in fighting position before he grasps that she moved at all.
Her eyes seem to suck light out of the air, but he is no novice, it means he understands the one he faces isn’t either. It also makes him understand that, by revealing herself, she has one intention, to leave him dead, or die.
L2, “What is your purpose? I just want to know out of curiosity, before I take your head.”
Nikko, “Extortion from innocents. Dishonor has consequences. Today is the day you face them.”
L2, “Is it really worth your death?”
Nikko’s blade flashes, toying with him, she makes a long cut, not deep, from his abdomen to his right tit, he looks at his own blood soaking his shirt, astonished.
Nikko, “You going to talk me to death?”
He slashes, chops and stabs, hits several support posts and somebody’s Honda, but not Nikko. With every swing of his blade, he mysteriously earns another cut. She’s dicing him like a vegetable, he’s never witnessed such talent, he never heard of such talent.
He has two choices, be sliced to death or go for the kill. He screams, raises his katana for a hard down stroke. He never gets to the down part, his head hits the cement first, his body crumples next to it. Nikko flicks the blood off her blade with a quick twist of wrist, wipes the blade on his pant leg, she and Chan stroll calmly out the front gate, into the car.
Janah drives away. Black and I follow a hundred yards behind. Back though Houston, Janah pulls into a shopping center, I drive up one floor of the multi layer lot.
We leave the cars, keys under mats, walk to cars on different floors. We drive south to visit the extortion bikers.
There’s no rush. We stop for a real breakfast, just an Ihop on the west loop, but on our way, acceptable for omelets, French toast and waffles. We have garden omelets that are quite good, an order of French toast, a Belgian waffle, buttermilk pancakes. Not the Village Diner, but then, what is?
It’s midmorning, we have to deal with the bikers by noon, then get back to the hotel. Janah would decide then whether to travel to New Orleans or wait. It depends on injuries, and if there’s any cleanup.
The bikers congregate around six or six thirty each evening to turn in the extortion take. During the day, they stalk their prey in pairs.
Threatening immigrant families in south Texas is virtually risk free. Complaints to the police are duly noted, then thrown into a file, file thirteen. Down here, they don't want immigrants. they want real ‘muricans.
You know, the ancestors of the white Euro trash that landed on Plymouth Rock four hundred years ago. The ones who subsequently tried to annihilate the Native Americans. The Native Americans waited patiently and are now quietly sucking the Social Security checks out of the hands of real ‘murican grandmothers dropping quarters or swiping credit cards into endless rows of slot machines at reservation casinos across America. What goes around comes around.
Today, Surveillance reports three groups of two working, the other six members hadn’t made an appearance at their dump bar hangout. Janah gets the GPS targeted, she, Chan and Nikko drive to a hotel owned by an Indian family, from New Delhi, not New Mexico. Today, when you say 'Indian' in America, you gotta specify. Probably drives the good ol' boys nuts.
Black and I drive to a second location twenty miles away, a small grocery run by a Cambodian husband and wife. Where they came from, paying bribes is part of life, and better than their parents suffered under the Pol Pot genocide. We don’t think they need to pay bribes at all, nor suffer the indignities of biker trash pushing them around.
Chan and Nikko exit the car as the bikers are exiting the small twenty room motel. Nikko is next to the two chopped hogs parked side by side. As the two men, in full leather chain and tattoo regalia approach, she kicks the motorcycle nearest her and it falls over on the one parked next to it. Then, as the bikers stop, trying to grasp what they are seeing, she opens the gas tanks and throws a burning rag onto one. A small burst of flame, then an explosion. The enraged bikers draw Glocks from the back of their jeans, and raise them to….nothing. The girl disappears, they failed to notice the man behind them.
She appears alongside, “Roasted hog.”
The men turn simultaneously, guns in hand. Then one hand is on the ground, still holding the gun, the second man feels his kidney erupt while his weapon disappears. He turns to face a massive Chinese. He watches open mouthed as his Glock is crushed into a ball of useless metal, then watches as it meets his head with a squishy thud, dead before he hits the pavement. Handless is staring blankly at his missing body part. Before the shock wears off and the pain hits, he’s impaled on Nikko’s sword. She kicks him in the chest and the sword comes out as his body sails back on the still burning bikes.
Nikko mumbles, “Roasted pig on roasted hog.”
Chan goes for the car while Nikko impassively watches as the body goes up in flames. She steps close enough to burn the blood from her katana, wipes it down on the other biker’s vest. She sheathes it and gets into the car when Janah and Chan pull up.
A few miles cross-town, Black enters a convenience store, I go around the back, the biker’s cycles are parked there; I slash the tires with my serrated blade, then gouge the gas tanks with the point. Gasoline drips. I’m not going to light them up, not yet anyway.
I can hear the bikers demanding payment. They hear the ding of the bell when the door opens, but there is no one there. They stare at the door for a minute, not comprehending, then back to the business at hand.
The man has paid before, still he is resisting, “Why bother small business? We barely pay bills, why don’t you steal money from rich people?”
Biker One grabs the man’s wife, holds his big arm around her throat and lifts her enough to make her stand on tiptoes, “The money chink, or I choke her out and still take the money. We’ve been through all this before, dumbass.”
The man looks at his wife, she is wide eyed, terrorized.
I come in the front door, “Hey boys, are those your bikes out back? You’re going to need to call a cab, somebody trashed them.”
The bikers glare at me, one says, “And how would you know that, bitch?”
I let my jaw drop, cock my head like he’s a bit dim; roll my eyes, “Because I did it…….dumbass.”
The biker holding the woman reaches behind him. Before he gets the gun drawn, Black has one massive hand on his neck and the other on his wrist. One squeeze, a hard squeeze, radius and ulna crush against each other, the gun clatters to the floor. Black kicks it behind the counter. He uses his now free hand to grasp the biker’s arm still holding the woman, presses his thumb deep into the side of the biker’s elbow, his arm goes numb, the woman falls away. Black picks him up by the neck and throws him across the store, he lands with a heavy thud in front of a display of junk food..
Biker one is reaching for his weapon, I stick my knife in his hand, take the gun, throw it behind the counter, it lands next to the other one.
Black’s new buddy is climbing off the floor, rubbing his neck, his bad arm hangs by his side, his other hand holds a flick knife, “Fucking nigger, I’m gonna cut your black balls, then snap your neck when I shove them down your throat.”
I look at Black, “I think he’s profiling you.”
Black smiles, says nothing. He’s directly in front of the biker, a big guy, thick, with a paunch from a long career of guzzling cheap beer. The biker takes a swipe with the knife.
Black, “You need to learn better knife fighting skills, here let me show you, he reaches out his hand, I throw him my blade. Black catches it by the handle despite his eyes never leaving his opponent.
Black holds the knife blade down, not the blade out--point it at you, style the biker used, “See, pointing your pig sticker at me is easy to dodge, and it’s useless to you for defense. I’ll show you,” he steps to the man, “stick me.”
The biker sneers, takes a jab, Black uses his knife to block the jab, which, because of the blade position, also cuts the bikers forearm. Blood gushes.
Black says slowly, “Thus endeth the lesson,” and uses his knife to slash the biker’s throat. He falls backwards, a blood angel on the floor.
I face the leftover, his hand bleeds, drips blood on the floor. He reaches for me, “I’ll kill you, bitch.”
“Such language,” I break his knee with a kick he never sees, crush his jaw with my elbow and use the heel of my hand to drive his sternum into his heart.
He hits the floor, eyes open, stares at me, his eyes slowly shut.
“Vulgarity is deadly,” I say to no one in particular.
We leave the store, the Cambodian couple hasn’t said a word.
I turn to them, “Call the cops, tell them what happened. You won’t be in any trouble, I guarantee it. They will come, take out this trash and disappear. It will be like it never happened.”
The man is shaking, his wife staring at the two dead men, “Police not believe us, we will be arrested, put in prison.”
“No, you won’t. Someone will be watching. The police will ask a few questions, then you will never see them again. Answer honesty, do not be afraid.”
The man looks into my dark eyes, he calms down. His wife says something in Khmer, the man nods.
She’d told him, “We can trust these people, we will do as we are told. Everything will be fine, and we pay no more money.”
I look up at the security camera, go around the counter, see the machine, it’s not running.
The woman says, in English, “It’s no problem, they make us turn it off when they come here, half the time my husband forgets to turn it on anyway. Go now, we are in your debt, we will not forget.”
Chan, Nikko and Janah make the fifty miles to the biker hangout, a shack of a bar on a strip of blacktop nobody uses. There are the usual pool tables, cheap whiskey and beer in cans, yuck! They should be eliminated just for poor taste. Drinking beer all day is bad enough, drinking it out of a can is inexcusable.
While they work, Black and I track down the last two extortion terrorists. Surveillance has them doing a pickup at a dry cleaning operation in west Houston in half an hour. This time we would be there first. In the meantime….
Chan is emptying five gallon can of gas around the bikes. Janah is on the fender of the rental car, hair temporary dark cherry red, big Ray Bans, jeans and black leather gloves.
Nikko is in her working garb, titanium knee caps, hard soled steel toe boots and leather gloves that cover her knuckles with titanium. Her braided hair behind her head, her face painted geisha white, with red drops that look like tears of blood running down her cheeks.
Chan also wears a watch cap on his bald head, sunglasses like Janah, the rest of him was XXXX long sleeve t-shirt, jeans, and black leather Converse steel toe sneakers. The t-shirt is long enough to hang to the middle of his thighs, despite all the Xs, it stretches over his thick chest.
Chan lifts one of the hogs and throws it through the front door, right as Nikko tosses a match on the gasoline. Then he stacks one bike on top of the other, finishing as a half dozen men blast through the front door.
“Get that fucker!” One of the men screams stupidly. It hasn’t occurred to them than a guy big enough to throw a six hundred pound motorcycle through a door might take a bit more dealing with than ‘get that fucker'. That's what drinking piss water out of a can will do for you…dain bramage. Chan hefts up the last bike, turns like a discus thrower and sails into the first four bikers. Two are pinned under the bike, one dead, the other dying. Two crawl slowly out, the ones on the end, caught by the tires, cut and bruised but functional.
The other two are drawing weapons. The first loses his hand to Nikko’s katana, the second his head. Handless is staring at his gun, on the ground with his hand, the stump of his wrist drips blood on it.
He turns to see the last thing he’ll ever see, a white face with tears of blood. Nikko shoves the sword in his abdomen, just below his sternum, and with a quick triangular cut, disembowels him.
The two leftovers have no guns. They pull out knives, flick them open and begin circling Chan. They swipe and jab, nothing hits anything. It is as if the Asian is an illusion. Which, after Chan and Janah had taken over their brains, is exactly that, there, not there, no, there, nowhere.
Nikko joins Janah leaning on the car fender, “I love to watch little brother work.”
Janah is focused, they watch as the men grow more frustrated, one jabs the knife toward Chan’s head, he takes the biker’s wrist, twists and snaps it, the knife falls harmlessly to the ground. Chan snaps his elbow for good measure.
The last man surrenders, drops his knife and holds up his hands, “I’m a dead man. Just make it quick s’all I ask.”
Chan does nothing, Janah walks up, “Find a bike that works and ride. Ride to the far side of the pines, to California. You will be watched. Get a job, shut up and live. No more gangs, no more dope or banger bullshit. If your dog craps in the park, you pick it up and throw it away. Anything, anything at all, and he comes,” nodding to Chan, “you can guess the rest. Understood, Chucky?”
“How do you know my….?”
He stops when Janah cocks her head, “I know when you were born, I know where you live, I know here you went to school and your mama’s name, I know your shoe size. And if you don’t follow the rules to the letter, I know when and how you will die.”
He begins to pull up the stacked bikes, finds his, one of the ones still functional if somewhat less flashy than a half hour earlier. He cranks it and hits the blacktop.
Nikko, “Think we’ll see him again?”
Janah, “Surveillance will monitor him. If he steps out of line, someone, not us, will compost him.”
While Janah and her crew are making their way though Houston traffic to the hotel, I’m chatting up the two bikers who walked through the door of the Hisong Cleaners.
“Where’s the old lady runs this shop?”
“She’s not here today. She said two punk suck dicks were stealing money from her and she was tired of it. I promised her I’d speak with them and she would never see them again.”
Biker One, “Just get the old lady, cunt, maybe you won’t get hurt.”
A voice comes from behind them, “Name ain’t cunt. Now you...you my bitches, cunts.”
They turn to look at the hulk of a man that is standing directly behind them, before they can draw weapons, Black cracks their heads together, I’m over the counter and have their guns in hand before they hit the floor. Black drags them around the counter and into the back of the store, hidden by racks of dry cleaned clothes hanging in plastic bags.
I pop one of my ammonia caps under the nose of one biker, he flinches, I stick it into his nostril, he gags and his eyes open. Black has him by the arms, I leave the cap in his nose. If tears are an indication, he ain’t happy.
I wave another as yet unbroken cap in front of him, “Skip the tough guy shit or I’ll stick this cap in your other nostril and you can die of ammonia poisoning, or you may just go blind, with permanent lung damage as a kicker. Dying sounds better frankly.”
He gags, the ammonia already burning his lungs, “Had enough? Just nod, I don’t want to hear the sound of your redneck voice.”
He nods, I tell Black, “Let him go.”
Black releases his arms, the biker yanks the cap out of his nose, looks at me all hostility, I shake my head, “Don’t even think it….I’ll take your eyes. Just drop it in your lap.”
The biker coughs for a minute, breathing is shallow, he settles down, “What the fuck you want? A piece? It ain’t mine to give. The guy we split with is a death dealing ninja motherfucker. He ain’t gonna rest until you both are sliced into strips of beef jerky.”
I smile, “That would be a slim dude, long hair, Japanese with a BMW? A snake tattoo runs up his arm?”
“You know him? Then you must know what he’s capable of. I roll over for you, he takes my head. You gonna kill me any deader?”
“Up to you. See, Ninja Boy got overwrought and lost his head this morning. He isn’t going to fuck with anyone, not in this life.”
Biker looks dubious, “I seen him take out two of my crew, both armed, both prison hard. You tellin’ me he’s toast?”
“With the crust cut off. Of the twelve of you, everyone is in Harley Hell, except you, one guy at the shack, and your friend here. Now, what I need to know is simple, a one word answer, live….or die?”
He mouth works, open, shut, open, “Live.”
“And are you willing to follow some simple direction to do it, or shall I go back to the ammonia?” I show him a handful of caps.
“Fuck, I’d crawl through ground glass. What’s the deal?”
“You and your girlfriend here,” I nod to the still unconscious biker, “go away. Very far away. Mexico, the moon, I don’t care. You get straight, you get real work, you never, ever, extort, deal or steal. Lose the gang colors. Ride your bikes, show up for real jobs, or starve to death. No more tough guy, no more weapons, no more living off anyone’s work but your own.”
Biker, “Deal, if the ninja is dead, we’re outta here.”
“Read the paper, watch the news. That should satisfy you. If it doesn’t, I really don’t give a crap. You and fat boy over there will be monitored and occasionally reminded. Don’t look for anyone, you won’t see them. If you get the urge for excitement, try bungee jumping. If you fuck up, I will personally see to it you bungee jump off a bridge without the bungee. Are you keeping up?”
Biker, “I got it.”
“Keep it. You don’t ever want to see me again,”
I use another cap to wake up the unconscious biker. He’s dazed, still incoherent. I keep after it until he’s reasonably clear.
“I’m not going to explain to you what I explained to you buddy. He’ll do that. Get your shit together and ride, and keep riding for a very long time. Along the way, you can think over your new careers. Now go, before I change my mind and shorten your lifespan to immediate.”
Biker Two is mystified, but glances at his friend, who says, “Let’s go man. The game’s over and we’re getting’ out alive. Just ride, I’ll explain later.”
Black picks up the second man by the neck and flies him out the door, he looks at the first one, “Need help?”
His hands go up, “No dude, I got it, I got it all.”
They fire up and ride.
As we walk to the car, Black asks, “Nikko really take the guy’s head off?”
“Come on, Black, that guy was dead when he went to bed last night. It just took until this morning for him to realize it. Nikko is samurai. She’s not about to let a rogue ninja dishonor her tradition. All the Ls are going to die. As modern as she is, she’s tightly bound to her tradition. She’s going to take every one of them, by herself, no regret, no remorse.”
Black, “What if one of them is better, or just gets lucky?’
“Then she will die.”
“You wouldn’t step in?”
“Depends on the situation. I won’t do anything to cause her to dishonor a straightforward match. Now, should one of her opponents make the mistake of using anything but a traditional weapon, sword, knife, nunchucks, staff or shuriken, then I will intervene. No guns…nothing, shall I say, modern. Chan wouldn’t allow it anyway, even if you or I weren’t there. Don’t even get started on Janah, she’d melt the opponent’s brain to plasma. But she won’t interfere with traditional combat.”
Black, “You got some strange rules.”
“Like you wouldn’t be insulted if I stepped in while you were going toe to toe with an opponent or two on a level field.’
Black, “Point taken.”