Sixty Five

After showers and change into dresses, it’s dinner at Paulette’s. Open with cocktails, then shrimp and fried green tomatoes. Bottle of cabernet accompanies filet mignon with cracked pepper butter crème sauce and mashed potatoes, and sautéed Grouper filet with lemon dill crème fraiche.
Mani, “This is good, fish was just right, tangy sweet sauce.”
Katja, “Ees nice restaurant, not so expensive.”
Ellen, “I’m full, skipping dessert.”
Mani, “Me too.”
Katja, “Then time to pay check and go to room.”
An hour later, there are four lithe lovelies playing swap the girl. At the end of the second hour, everyone has had everyone every way they can be had.
Mani stares at the ceiling, “That was awesome, taken by three girls at once, I’m still vibrating,” she turns to her side, “oh, no wonder,” she clicks off a still running toy underneath her, giggles, “I wonder where this was last?”
It’s past midnight, Ellen and Katja go to Ellen’s suite, Mani with Katya. All sleep hard and deep.
In the morning, Katja and Ellen show up, “We ordered coffee and tea, should be up in a bit,” knock on the door, ‘room service.’
“Or right away,” she lets the man in, signs the tab and gives him five bucks on top of the charge they stick on for room service.
“What’s the plan?”
Katya, “No reason to stay two more nights, I will change flight to tomorrow, leave maybe at ten. Today we can take a ride and check out the city, find a spot for lunch. Memphis is supposed to be a barbeque town.”
Ellen, “Sounds good, catch any news?”
“Nyet, we slept late.”
Katya, “We can return the Altima today, do that first.”
Car returned, they’re in the Tahoe, Katya’s been searching the web, “We should go to Central Barbeque for lunch, then to Beale Street tonight for music.”
Ellen, “Sounds like a plan.”
By twelve thirty, they’re at a table in the busy restaurant, it’s a ribs joint, no fine dining, better than. Two ribs plates, two pulled pork sandwiches, slice things in half and share. Shiner Bocks all around, barbeque without beer is a travesty. They card Mani, she’s only seventeen and looks fourteen, but the ID says twenty one, so she gets a beer.
Ellen, “Man this is so good, sweet tangy sauce, nice mix of crunchy crust and tender meat.”
Mani, “Good call Katya, this is a treat, gourmet soul food.”
Need a second beer along the way, a third to finish up. Napkins full of barbeque sauce, a quick trip to wash up then back in the Tahoe.
Ellen, “Suppose we just enjoy fancy hotel rooms this afternoon? We slept in, but I’m feeling nap-ish after beer and barbeque.”
Katja, “Da, good, me too.”
Ellen tips the housekeeper to replace towels and leave a few extras in both rooms, then go away. Katya snags Ellen and they go to Ellen’s suite. Soon as they go, Mani strips and straddles Katja.
“Want something sweet to eat?”
Katja rolls her onto the couch, Mani spreads her legs. Katja skips prelims and goes straight for the main course. Fifteen minutes of slow simmer, a minute of rapid boil and Mani dings like a Tibetan singing bowl.
Katja rolls her over and pulls her butt up, Mani slides her knees under her thinking, ‘Oh God, she’s going to kill me if she tongues my tush.’
Which is exactly what happens, including a second little death for Mani. Katja sits up and crosses her legs, Mani is stretched out on her tummy still moaning, a shiver runs down her leg.
“You killed me, death by orgasm, it’s a good day to die, thank you.”
“Dobro pozhalovat, now you will get me vodka shot, then find strapping on machine and fuck me.”
Mani pours a healthy shot in a glass and takes it to Katja. Then she goes off to the bedroom to find the appropriate toy, Katja comes in, sits on the bed then lays back.
Mani is strapped up, cute little Asian sexy with an eight inch latex cock. Thin layer of lube, climbs on the bed and gets busy.
She fucks Katja eight ways from Sunday, gratified by enthusiastic gasps, groans and demands for more. She delivers until Katja surrenders.
Gasping for air, “You haf fuck brain out, eef I have one more climatic I will go into shock and be happiest dead girl ever. Leetle girl ees talented wiz beeg dick toy.”
Mani smiles at the ceiling. Big dick toy also vibrates on her end of it, she’s buzzed off a couple times herself working Katja to mind mush.
“This thing is great, a toy that can multitask.”
“Haf you fuck sister wiz that one?”
“When we are home, you will go to her one night when I am wiz Ellen. Take dick machine, fuck her senseless, she will luf. Then she will leek your pussy until you cannot anymore stand another orgasm. You will be like butter on hot plate.”
Mani giggles, “Thanks for the idea. I didn’t know I liked working this thing so much. I may try out for Fucker-in-Chief .”
Tea time comes around, Ellen and Katya appear, Mani has strong black tea with pieces of dark chocolate and cookies from the snack selection in the room.
Katja, “Mani haf fuck Katja senseless. She ees expert wiz beeg dick toy.”
Ellen turns to Mani, “You like being on top.”
Mani, “I like making Katja squirm and moan, figure to make the rest of you beg for more as well. My Asian power trip,” she laughs at herself.
They dress in low casual, no hot girl stuff, and ride to Beale Street. It’s near eight, crowd’s gathering on the busy strip. They have a beer, listen to music, move on to the next place, same thing. They want to soak up the atmosphere, and they don’t want to stay anyplace long enough to have the guys muster enough courage to come around.
Ellen, “I see why it’s popular, all the clubs in one place. The single crowd can shop for love with one parking spot. Lotta tourist types, like us I spose.”
Katja, “Ees nice area, not so much like Bourbon Street wiz stripping club or trashy bar.”
Ellen, “No, New Orleans could learn a bit from Memphis. The strip clubs in the Quarter are nasty.”
They try a half dozen bars, the area seems secure, people just milling around having fun, it’s about eleven.
Katya, “Enough, music is okay, not great.”
Mani, “And we learned we don’t need to vacation in Memphis.”
An hour later, Katja and Katya are curled together in one suite, Ellen and Mani in the other. Twelve hours after that, landing at Lakefront in New Orleans.

Sixty Six

Ellen, “Glad it was a short trip, fifty grand, expenses ran almost ten, the private jet thing runs to money.”
Katya, “Better than big airport and crazy fat people stuffing into little seats.”
“Oh I’m not complaining, we got over forty after expenses, ten thousand each for two days work, a day really, nice hotel, great food and super sex. Hell, I’da paid for the damn thing myself. Did you ever see anything on the guy we offed?”
Katya, “Nyet, Penny will know, she checks the news.”
Katya calls her, “Conflict resolved.”
Penny, “No shit, good job. On another subject, I noticed people are curious about a married guy found outside a no tell motel at eight o’clock at night with his pockets emptied.”
“People get up to all kinds of trouble.”
“They surely do. I’m just about to leave to collect a package.”
Katya clicks off, “Penny is collecting the rest of our money, she will send overnight.”
Ellen, “And Mani gets her first payday, whatcha gonna do with ten grand sweetie?”
Mani, “Can I pool it with your stuff? Ellen says Katya invests the extra money, I don’t know anything about that.”
Katya, “If you wish. I think you should take a couple thousand for your own bank account. Have extra cash for yourself.”
“Okay, except I never spend anything now, you guys pay for everything and give me a salary.”
Katja, “You earn money, like now, unpack us, put clothes away, do laundry wash, Ellen will put away gun. We clean gun right away every time.”
Mani, “I know, I did it myself while she watched. I’m learning the trade.”
Katja, “And we will go to Houston next week, you will practice on range, learn to shoot Glock and rifle.”
She unpacks suitcases, put away shoes, cosmetics and toiletries, sex toys, clothes go downstairs to the laundry room.
Katya, “We will have fight time.”
Mani, “Can I try?”
One slave quarter room has been converted to the gym, martial arts mat covers the entire floor. It works great, feet slide but falls are cushioned. The mats come in precut squares that fit together like puzzle pieces.
Katya and Katja go at it, then Ellen and Mani. They use MMA training gloves, padded but not giant cushiony boxing gloves. Get hit, you feel it. They wear headgear and mouthpieces, lightweight chest protector.
Ellen, “Use full force on me, I’m going to use half shots with you until you get toughened up. It took us several months to withstand a full punch. Kicks go at half speed, we don’t need broken ribs. The idea is to take some pain and keep going, get used to the actual movement of a punch or kick. You want it to be automatic when you need it.”
They bounce around, Mani has taken kickboxing, she’s more than reasonably tuned up. But those classes use more padding than the girls have here.
They switch up opponents, by the end each has sparred with the other three. Nobody got a bloody nose, no cuts today, bruises here and there. Thighs take a pounding even with half speed kicks. Kicks to the head look impressive, but in a street fight it’s a bad idea. The skull is hard and the bones of the foot are brittle and small. One head kick is effective, a sharp spinning kick with the heel can crack jawbone and teeth, even knock out an opponent.  
An hour and a half of full contact three minute rounds leaves them sweat soaked exhausted.
Mani’s on the floor catching her breath, her last round was Katja and Katja doesn’t take prisoners. The final right cross nearly took Mani’s head off.
“You will maybe keep hands up next time, block ees as eemportant as punch.”
Mani, “Tell me about it, I saw stars,” she eases her head around in a slow circle.
Katya, “You did well, did not waste time in kickboxing class.”
“No, they were pretty serious. It wasn’t easy. I was going to look for a place when I moved to New Orleans, but I wanted to stay focused my first year in college. Coming here happened, I don’t need a class now, I can get beat up where I live.”
They strip, dump sweaty things in the laundry room and lay on the floor with frozen gel packs on bashed muscles.
Mani, “Those things work, pain is gone.”
Ellen, “It’s kinda temporary, but it will reduce bruising. I like to get the spot good and frozen. We only go at it this hard once a month, we aren’t training for ultimate fighting.”
A half hour of chill, Katja says, “After showering, ees maybe time for tea, also today, cracker and chizz.”
Mani, “I’m on it, soon as I get clean,” she heads to her room, the others to theirs. Showered and in comfortable t-shirts, they take tea in the courtyard.
Katja, “What ees chizz?”
Ellen, “Wicked River XXX sharp. The other is one of their buttery cheeses, mellow and sweet. And tonight we are having fried shrimp and oyster poor boys, purple cabbage slaw with tahini dressing. I figure that’s enough. I do have pastries from Croissant D'Or, cherry tarts or napoleons.”
Mani, “Goody, does anyone need anything? I could use an hour or so of Japanese.”
Ellen says in Japanese, “Then we will speak Japanese through dinner.”
They are gaining fluency, have to stop and ask Katya for clues, the brain that doesn’t forget. They aren’t trying to be Japanese, just learn the three hundred or so most common words. To get by in any language, you only need a basic vocabulary to plug together understandable sentences.
They chat about hotel rooms, menus, money and a few more ominous phrases concerning conflict resolution. The idea is to be able to talk strategy even if someone is in earshot. The odds of a random citizen speaking Japanese is miniscule.
Cocktails, Ellen starts frying and a half hour later it’s cold Sapporo, seafood
po-boys on crusty toasted Leidenheimer’s, with condiment of choice, primarily ketchup and a healthy dose of Tabasco habanero. There is also sliced tomato, crispy bread and butter pickle slices to stack on the shrimp and oysters.
Katya, “Good you do not make fries with these, it would be too much.”
Ellen, “I never understood fries with poor boys, way too heavy. Chips yes, not fries. I didn’t add chips tonight, I had fair amount of shrimp and oysters.”
Katja, “Ees really good,” she’s dragging an oyster through ketchup with horseradish and Tabasco; it’s hard to get food too spicy for the twins.
Mani, “I like horseradish, dash of Tabasco.”
Katja pours another Sapporo, “Good reason to haf more beer,” she squishes a lemon slice over the glass, then over a half dozen oysters.
Ellen, “Glad we did the sparring, everyone was hungry. Wondered if I had too much.”
The oysters are gone, about a dozen fried shrimp left, “I can warm these tomorrow for something. Stick ‘em on a salad.”
Katja, “Good, I am done, overdone but no mahter. What ees moovey?”
Mani, “I found A Dangerous Method on Amazon. About Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and the start of psychotherapy. Want to give it a try?”
Katja, “Why not? We are all psycho, maybe we will get cured.”
Laughter, they have no intention of getting cured, where’s the fun in that?

Sixty Seven

A few days in Houston, Mani’s first time, “Nice house, comfortable.”
Ellen, “It serves, the twins wanted to splurge in New Orleans this place is more functionality. I think Katya will ultimately sell it, she’s happier in New Orleans.”
They drive to the donut shops, introduce Mani, Katja does her routine inspection.
Mani has a bite of pistachio glaze, “Ohmygod, this is the best donut I’ve ever tasted. How do you get it so light inside? There is not a hint of grease.”
Ellen, “Katja won’t use anything but the best ingredients, best flour, butter, yeast, everything. There are strict mixing procedures, frying temperature and cooking time. They don’t float around in oil very long and drain on a wire rack, excess drips right off.”
Mani, “It sure shows,” she leans into Ellen and whispers, “and where do they get these girls?”
Ellen smiles, “Katya is practical, not PC. People like pretty girls, they chat up the customer, smile, make people feel good. She could probably charge twice as much and still do good business. In fact she bumped prices a little, about a quarter a donut. Didn’t change sales volume at all and she makes more money.”
Mani, “They’re so young, how did they get such a grasp of business. I know it’s just a donut shop, but still, and she handles the investments for all of you too. And there’s a commercial property here and the rental in New Orleans.”
“Katya’s a brain, if she reads it, she owns it. They’re self educated, Katya says it’s called autodidact, self taught. I swear Katya could teach herself brain surgery off YouTube.”
Mani, “They didn’t go to school?”
“Not after third grade, maybe it was fourth, and that was in Russia and Belarus. I don’t know how grades work there.
“But they came to America with someone, they didn’t get them in school?”
“Now you’re in don’t need to know territory. I don’t know much of it. Way I look at it is I got a real good life. I don’t need to know what I don’t need to know, hell, I don’t want to know what I don’t need to know.”
Mani, “They’re amazing. Katya knows all the numbers for all the shops, I see her looking at sales at the close of every day. If something’s off, or unusual, she’s on the phone with the manager.”
Ellen, “It’s usually something small, they had to buy something they ran out of that didn’t come from the usual supplier. They have leeway to spend cash for emergencies, but Katya always questions it when they do. If she doesn’t, she figures it gets out of control, people assume if they don’t have to answer for it they can keep it up. Katya won’t let it get to that and they know it.”
Mani, “Lucky for me New Orleans resonated with Katya.”
“Lucky for me, I got you to play with.”
Katya, “This is last stop, we can go home, tomorrow to the range. Mani, range is not for talking about, employees do not know of any range. You will not tell anyone here or in New Orleans, okay?”
Mani, “Of course. I don’t know many people to tell anyway, but I get it. No range.”
“Da, okay. Ellen, we will have Mexican tonight, no point in bringing food to the house to cook.”
“Sounds good to me. We should go to Teo Mexican Café. They have great stuff, parrilladas, I can taste the ribs and grilled shrimp now.”
Mani, “What’s parrilladas?”
“A combo of three or four different meats, like chicken, beef, sausage, and shrimp, grilled and slightly blackened, served on a bed of sautéed onions and green peppers.”
Mani, “Wow, when’s dinner?”
Katja, “We haf already shot past tea, we can go to the house, refresh, then to restaurant. Tonight, no vodka, margarita instead.”
Ellen, Uh oh, who’s gonna be designated driver?”
Katya, “Taxi.”
Ellen, “Dang, good thought, have ourselves a little tequila blowout.”
Mani, “Never had a margarita.”
“Then sip slow, it’s not vodka. It’ll have sugary stuff and that can make for a bad hangover. Normally, we have one large, then change to beer, maybe a tequila shot on the side. Better head the next day.”
Two hours later they’re at a table with large frozen top shelf margaritas and nibbling on chips and salsa. They all get carded, but their license lies the right age.
Ellen, “Up to you, but I’d skip appetizers. When they bring out the entrée, you’ll see why.”
Mani, “I’m the trainee here, just order and I’ll eat, and this drink is amazing, my first hard stuff.”
They place the order, next up is Dos Equis lager and shots of Herradura Silver, plate of lime and salt. Ellen goes through the routine, pinch of salt, tequila, bite of lime.
“Some people shoot it, we sip, follow with beer.”
Mani tries it, shivers, coughs, grins, “O-fuckin-le, damn that’s neat.”
Entrees show up, they got two varieties in two person size. Grilled shrimp, beef and chicken fajitas, sausages, bbq beef ribs, bed of grilled onions and peppers.
Mani, “I see why no appetizer, how we going to eat all this?”
“It’s the kind of stuff that doggie bags well, we can have it for breakfast. You can wrap up the beef or chicken in the tortillas for a fajita, or just knife and fork it without the tortilla.”
Mani, “I’ll try chicken in a tortilla, onions, some of the sauce.”
They prefer poblana sauce, peppers, red onions, garlic, wine and cream. Katja likes pico de gallo, so there’s an order of that. Mani stacks it all neatly on the big tortilla fold and roll it up, takes a bite.
“Good God, how wonderful, I’m throwing caution out the door, have to do extra wind sprints or something.”
Ellen, “That’s the spirit,” she finishes off her tequila and waves the waiter over for another round, “nother round of beer too, please.”
The evening deteriorates splendidly from there. They get home at ten thirty, no doggie bag, wasn’t enough left. They’re giggling, not exactly stumbling, but they wouldn’t want to have to do the drunk dance for a cop. Ellen pays the taxi and they fall, almost, into the house.
Mani, “Toothbrush, pee, bed.”
Everyone else is in the same condition, brush, flush, crash.

Sixty Eight

Ellen shows Mani how to hold the Smith & Wesson M&P22 for target shooting, two hands, sight in, squeeze trigger. It’s light enough, zip for recoil, good for small hands like Mani’s. Target’s ten yards away, she hits it northeast of center.
“Good, take your time, use up the magazine. We’re just working on the feel of it, get used to the recoil.”
Katja and Katya are using Ruger Mini-Mag rifles at fifty, then a hundred yards. They are good enough at a hundred for their work, cluster a small circle in the center of the target from a straight up standing position. Later they’ll work at distance with the weapon supported on the bench behind them.
Mani finishes the clip, “So far so good, didn’t drop it at least.”
“Now, one handed, firm grip. Go slow, squeeze the trigger, don’t jerk it.”
She reloads, fires a round, bullet smacks the paper high, “Oops, got to keep it steady.”
“It’s different with one hand, but most kills are from a few feet, not ten yards. You’re gonna hit the target. But better to make it clean, one shot to the brain. We aren’t trying to torture, we aren’t mad at them. He’s an end to a payday and a little entertainment.”
Mani does three more magaziness, “My hand is shaking.”
“Take a break and massage it out, you’ll get used to it. And learn to shoot left handed, at least to hit something at twenty five yards. Your right gets hurt, you’re stuck.”
They take a break after an hour, a light lunch of bread and cheese, then to the Ruger.
While Ellen sights in five hundred yard targets, Katya goes over the rifle with Mani. First round is from the supported position behind the bench. The small rifle has no significant recoil, with first class sights, hitting something at fifty or a hundred yards is simple. There’s no drop at that distance, the sight does all the work, just point and pull.
Katja, “You haf the idea. We shoot rifle to stay in training, Ellen is first rifle girl, she ees best shot at distance. We will not take work over five hundred yards, do not haf rifle for it, or experience, not for single shot kill.”
Mani, “Ever do a job that required distance?”
“One, but less than a hundred yards, maybe seventy or eighty.”
They used rifles to pick off members of a drug cartel and stole a hundred million of their cash.
Mani, “Where was that?....wait, no, I don’t want to know, sorry I asked.”
Katja, “No need for sorry, you figured out mistake right away. I wouldn’t anyway tell you. Penny does not know Katja, Ellen or Mani, not even Katya, she uses different name. Ellen does not know about jobs before she came wiz us, you do not know about anything before you are wiz us. Ees best way, don’t know, can’t say.”
Mani, “Got it. And I need to clean the rifles.”
“We all clean rifle, then pack up and go to Houston, enough already today. One more treep tomorrow, then New Orleans for Thursday.”
Dinner is at home that evening, pickup fried chicken, coleslaw, mac and cheese.
Ellen, “Katya, did you decide to sell or rent this place?”
“Nyet. We come to Houston every month, better to have a place. Shooting range house isn’t equipped for living in and is fifty miles from Houston anyway.”
Ellen tells Mani, “We did that on purpose, so we weren’t associated with guns. As you saw, the place has no neighbors close enough to hear gunshots. Once we take targets down and lock the barn, it doesn’t look like a range, we don’t keep weapons there.”
Next day is practice in the barn with popups and the star target. The eight inch steel plates are held in place by spring tension so when a plate is struck it’s flipped backwards. The imbalance causes the star to rotate.
Mani, “That’s neat. And I can actually hit moving stuff, well, some of the time.”
“At first we didn’t hit much either, but we kept after it and now we’re pretty good. More than good enough for what we do.”
Mani, “I’d say so, knock off all five plates in five quick shots.”
Ellen, “From a reasonable distance, we get worse over thirty or forty yards. Eight inch plates start to look kinda small. We’ll get there.”
An hour of practice, tea and coffee break, work with the other hand for a few rounds.
Mani tries out the Glock, it’s got more kick, Ellen makes her shoot it two handed, then one handed for the last.
Mani, “That’s a lot different than the little one.”
Ellen, “Still, you did okay, there’s holes in the paper where they’re supposed to be.”
Katya, “Enough for me.”
Ellen, “Yeah, if we can’t hit a guy from five feet by now we oughta hang up our spurs.”
Mani, “I’m done,” she’s flexing fingers and shaking out her hands.
Drive to the house is an hour, it’s still only mid afternoon, the phone rings.
Penny, “You want to take a pro bono, Vika?”
Katya, “What is conflict?”
“Woman I know, more like a casual acquaintance, comes into the bar once in a while. I’m helping Eddie out, pour beer, keep the place neat, stock the inventory, just hanging out mostly. People in bars talk, dump their junk. Sometimes they wish someone was dead, just beer talk, but not always. They even ask how to hire someone. I tell ‘em I have no idea but I think Eddie might know somebody. If they get serious, they ask Eddie, he says he’ll ask around. Few days later he gives them my number.”
“They do not figure out it is you?”
“No, I kinda husk up my voice for work calls, add some Texas twang I don’t have. Don’t have a girly voice anyway, some people think I’m a guy.”
“So what is conflict?”
“Oh, yeah, got sidetracked. This woman comes in, bitchin’ about a stalker. Typical story, ex boyfriend can’t get the ex part in his head. Nasty dude, threatening her, ignores the restraining order, lurking around. Beat shit out of the new boyfriend, who hit the road real quick. Ex shows up at her house, in her house last time. Just busted the back door window and unlocked the door. All smarmy nice for five minutes, then in a rage. She has a daughter, he makes insinuations, woman is scared for her, scared for herself.”
“She can pay, we resolve conflict.”
“Well, that’s the thing. This is a working class woman, cleans hotel rooms, shit job, who knows what in hell’s on the sheets. Point is, lives hand to mouth. She never asked about a hit. She wants him to give it up, go away. Will you help her? I never offered her anything but an ear, she don’t know from Vika.”
Katya thinks it over, “I will call later,” clicks off.
She tells the others what the call was about.
Mani, “Assholes. Lucky for me some drug deal got Elton out of my life. I had no idea who to ask for help.”
Ellen, “Look, the job’s in Houston, we’re here anyway. If you want, I’ll find the prick and baseball bat his ass until he gets right.”
Katya, “We kill for money, not for bad boyfriend,” ignoring Elton, who they did kill, “bad boyfriend gets lesson, hard lesson.”
Katja, “He will see us and live.”
Katya, “He will not see anyone he will ever see again. Wig, hat, face paint, sunglass, common clothes, and he has no idea who we are. Woman has no idea, Penny only knows Vika. Twins will not be twins and we will be gone from Houston the next day.”
She calls Penny, “Who and where?”
Penny, “She was real anxious to tell me about him, I didn’t much have to ask her anything. He’s a low life, small time car thief, deals meth and oxy when he gets his hands on enough. Sort of a free range criminal. Nothing big, isn’t part of a gang. He likes working alone and is tough enough to discourage interference. She’s seen him beat up guys bigger than he is. He’s not a huge guy, five ten maybe, lean, wiry, mean.”
“Name, location.”
“His name is CJ, CJ Drake. I have an address, at least where she thinks he is. Pay by the week fleabag on the northwest side. Thompson something or other, out on Airline by Helms Rd. It isn’t a place you’re likely to find on Google. He drives a pickup of course, Ford Ranger of course, 2005, faded dark gray, dented passenger door and confederate flag decal on the tailgate. That’s what I got.”
Katya clicks off, Penny looks at her dead phone and laughs.

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