Chapter Sixty Nine IV
Janah asks the guys to pack up and drive to the condo the Society rented in Seaside. It’s a six hour drive, we will show up tomorrow.
Janah, “I’ll check in when we’re done with the extortion bikers. Drugs in New Orleans are a never ending river, there is no point in chasing down one drug selling biker gang.”
Black, “Sure you don’t want us around?”
Janah, “Where we’re going, a giant black man and a massive Chinese one would be too memorable. We’re going to deal with these guys in front of other people. I know you can be invisible until needed, but if you were needed, it would be an advertisement. There are three of us and only eight of them. Cakewalk.”
The eight remaining toads hang out across Lake Pontchartrain, a sub-suburban nightmare called Madisonville; located on the Tchefuncte River, near Mandeville and Covington at the end of the Pontchartrain Causeway north of New Orleans. Both places, essentially one place, are full of white people escaping the minority population of New Orleans and its abysmal joke of a school system. Double Rs, Republican and racist.
The drunks that populate the Madisonville area think the bikers are cool. They both suck up to and fear them. Madisonville people are into boats, sailboats, power boats and house boats. Idiotic as golfers, except where golfers only want women on the course who drive the beer carts, boaters want women on board, big tit topless and moronic preferred. Stupidity is a bumper crop in the area. There are plenty of takers, everyone is divorced at least once, and the ones who aren’t may as well be.
Janah, “Our problem is that the remaining extortion bikers hang out in regular bars, not exclusively biker bars. There are innocents. Stupid innocents, but stupidity isn’t illegal. So how do we separate the bikers from the other dummies?”
Nikko, “I have a plan. We’ll need the Society to jam the cell phones. It won’t stop them making video, but it will keep them from calling or texting.”
Nikko and I are in fighting gear, knee caps, soft snug leather gloves, with titanium caps over our knuckles. Using a bare fist to someone’s hard head is a lesson in broken fist. Whether we use a rabbit punch or a fist, somebody is going to feel the pain; we don’t get so much as a bruise.
Nikko wears her headscarf, katana across her back, face painted geisha white, this time with a thin black zigzag down one cheek, red down the other.
Her long hair hangs over each shoulder.
I opt for a watch cap, black, hair braided and tucked down the back of my shirt. I have a fake scar on my left cheek and a henna hànzi tattoo Janah picked, 婊子, slang for bitch. We wear steel toe boots, pockets filled with shuriken.
Janah is a brown mouse, eyes with opaque green contacts, black eyeliner and purple eye shadow. Nondescript, baggy jeans, reveal nothing of her curvy butt and legs. She uses her latex fingertip trick, no prints. An extra precaution, she has Converse steel toe sneakers.
It’s Wednesday, the night to search for the best boat offer for the weekend. The bar is busy, three quarters full. The best looking of the women have gotten their hookup with the string of incompetent doctors, shyster lawyers and the endless stream of contractors. Everyone selling a home improvement job to whoever will listen. The rest of the sleazebags are jiving oil well prospects to one another.
Janah’s inside. The bikers are playing pool, drinking Bud from cans, the flotsam that hangs around the river talks bullshit to big tit women trying too hard to relive their disco days, or to each other about ‘doing deals.’ The tits sag with the neckline, whoever has the mascara franchise is rich.
Janah, God, this place is loser hell. The atmosphere reeks of failure and desperate pretension, and they fail miserably at the pretense. Get those bikes torched, I’m the youngest woman left in this place. Even as hoochied down as I’m dressed, somebody’s bound to notice. I don’t want to have to make go away talk with these dopes.
We had to wait until a woman drove off with lover boy. We have the tanks open, cut the fuel lines, gas is leaking nicely. Wait….okay….go for the bikers, then deal with the bartenders.
Janah runs to the pool table, “Dudes,” she said breathlessly, “somebody is outside, fooling around with your bikes. You need to check them out, man. They’re are up to some bad shit.”
The bikers look at her, she said it loudly enough to get through to beer saturated brains, bystanders head to the door, blocking it momentarily.
Nikko waits for my signal, I nod. Nikko throws a match on the nearest bike and backs against the entrance to the bar, me on the other side.
Janah runs to the bar, “You two! You need to come here,’ she cocks her finger at the bartenders. The mini explosions of gas tanks reverberates through paper thin walls.
The one closest to her steps over, “The fuck’s going on?”
Before Janah can answer she sees the second one reaching for a phone, she sails a shuriken into the back of his hand, then a second into his chest. He drops the phone, tends to the matter at hand in his hand. In another minute, he’ll pass out.
The first one reaches under the bar, Janah grabs his wrist, squeezes, “Don’t.”
His free hand comes up with a pistol, she crushes the wrist, painfully distracting him long enough for her to punch him in the windpipe and snatch the pistol. He gags and falls to the greasy floor behind the bar. She removes magazine, clears the chamber, hops over the bar and whaps him upside the head with the grip. He joins his pal, unconscious in the bar slop.
She turns her attention to the crowd, pushed, pulled and punched out of the way of the eight bikers. Nobody notices the bartenders, the show is outside. The crowd is torn between beating a hasty exit from what would surely be only grief, either police grief, or shit from the bikers' hard questioning....who did what?
Many of them gather on the other side of the street, near the river, far enough away from the heat and light to quietly disappear if events take a bad turn.
The bikers shove their way through the few locals left at the door, staring at a hog roast. Gas tanks pop, only small bursts since we’d cut the fuel lines, most of the gas is spread out under the bikes. At his point, you could barely see the motorcycles, just flames and the stink of burning plastic and rubber. The smoke is inky black, with no breeze, it rises above the flames.
Six bikers emerge, then Nikko’s katana takes the seventh’s leg off at the knee, she knocks him cold with the tsuka.
Number eight comes out with a gun drawn. Bad move, my sword takes his arm at the elbow, the forearm drops to the ground with the gun still in it. I step on the now dead wrist, take the gun, eject the magazine, throw it in the river, throw the gun at the back of the head of the biker nearest me. He falls face forward, skull cracked, unconscious, but alive.
The bikers turn around when the screams of their dismembered buddies register over burning bikes. There are five left.
Janah moves out the door to the edge of the crowd on the right. She scans to see if any help going to be offered. The gawkers are too fascinated by the entire scene to do anything but stand slack jawed. Two have cell phones out. Janah has shuriken, but waits to see if the jamming is working. She gets her answer when both callers stare blankly at their useless phones. She makes her way around the crowd, looking for more cells taking pictures, videos or making calls. She finds one, takes the phone and crushes it, then stomps it in the ground, “Hey, that’s my…,” she cracks him hard in the nose, then a swift knee to the nuts. He loses interest in digital photography.
I’m six feet away from Nikko, the bikers staring at two tall women, standing casually in front of them. We’d sheathed our swords, it registered that their buddies had lost limbs due to the samurai who faced them. Their boss is ninja, they misread us for his representatives.
“Fuck’s the problem. We paid our end. The next cut isn’t for a week. You trashed our shit for what?”
Obviously, they haven’t heard about L4 and the other bikers yet.
Janah, Talk to Nikko in Japanese, it’ll reinforce the idea that you’re from L4, they don’t know he’s toast. Then explain that you two are taking over. That’ll piss them off and we can finish this. I’m working the crowd, I’m cool, keeping the picture takers occupied.
I tell Nikko in Japanese. The locals barely speak the King’s English, much less Japanese. Nikko says nothing.
I address the bikers, scan them for guns, my hand full of shuriken, “We’ve decided we can do a better job than you, keep our half, split between two, not ten. Good deal for us. You’re out, boys, go home,” I glance briefly at the burning rubble, “guess you’ll have to walk.”
“Walk fuck, bitch.”
“Butch, Frankie, somebody help, we’re bleeding out over here,” the guy I’d disarmed, surgically speaking.
The five left are enraged and confused, just where we want them, two charge Nikko, three come at me. Janah pulverized two more cell phones and a couple of kneecaps, she hums a shuriken across the flames and lands it in the hand of another photographer, the phone drops. Janah walks the perimeter and crushes it underfoot. A woman grabs her arm, fortyish, chunky, big tits pushed up with a nasty spotted cleavage visible under her too tight halter top.
Janah thinks, ‘God almighty, these poor slobs have gone to seed early,’ she punches the woman hard in the gut that spills out from under the top and over her overstuffed jeans. She drops like a one sixty sack of pork fat. A knee to the nose, anesthetic-free cosmetic surgery can only be an improvement.
While Janah parties with the locals, Nikko leaps into the air so high she’s able to stick a boot in both biker’s faces. One earns a badly mashed nose, the other a few front teeth.
I stand stone still while the three try to jump me simultaneously. I right kick the middle one hard in the chest, he staggers back, use my left foot to roundhouse the one on my left in the jaw. The tip of my steel toe makes it a most unpleasant encounter. The big one on my right I save for a palm heel strike to his sternum, then my elbow down strike cracks his collarbone.
The middle guy is up and at me, his face flushed, mad and embarrassed.
He has knife, about a four inch blade, I reach behind my back and unsheathe the katana, “Gee, mine’s bigger than yours.”
He throws the knife, I catch it by the handle and flip it back into his chest, Wow, synchronicity, a stuck pig in front of his roasting hog.
He sinks to his knees, stares up at me …in shock. The one with the broken jaw staggers towards me, but his heart isn’t in it. I credit him for the effort.
“Slow down my man. You aren’t doing any damage here, and if you come closer, I’ll take your head. Just sit and enjoy the campfire.”
Blood drips from his mouth, he sits, I join him, “Let’s watch the show,” I nod towards Nikko and her two new friends.
Missing Teeth is wiry and quick, Busted Nose muscular, thick chest and biceps, long greasy hair.
Missing Teeth whips a chain from around his waist, Busted Nose puts up his fists, Nikko’s katana rests in the sheath behind her back. It won’t be a fight if she unleashes it.
Teeth, "Gonna feel some pain from the chain, don’t care about no ninja shit,” he swings it in figure eights in front of him.
Nikko unhooks the chain around her biceps, Teeth never sees it. As the figure eight of his swing reaches her top left, she whips her chain through his so fast it cuts it in two, then she swipes Nose across the knuckles of his left fist, swings the chain in a circle, down, then over, then across his right fist. She breaks the small bones across the back of his hand. She spins so fast the chain is a blur, cuts Nose’s nose in half. Chain flows to the left arm of Teeth, wraps around his arm, she yanks him forward and smashes his windpipe with her elbow.
All the bad boys are cooked, not as overdone as their bikes, but the fight is gone.
Janah, I’m going for the car, explain the rules while Nikko disappears, then join us and we’re out of here. I can see flashing lights a mile down the road, but they’re going at a crawl.
“Okay boys, here’s the deal. No more extortion, no more beating anybody for any reason. Well, yourselves excluded, wail on each other all you want. We’re watching. We found you and we will be on your ass as long as you suck air. If we have to do this again you’ll have more missing body parts than your buddies. I personally guarantee you won’t have arms to push your legless torso down Decatur on a rolling cart.”
I look each one in the eyes while I speak, low and slow, “Do NOT make me repeat myself. There’s only one answer, you have no hope against us. The other girl could take all of you by herself, blindfolded. The cops and EMT’s are coming. You’ll live. You will not live your old lives. Gotta go. Eat a lot of oxy and pray you never see us again.”
I disappear on the other side of the flames, the crowd that’s left parts. There’s actually applause. Everyone moves to cars and boats. Nobody wants to be interviewed all night by cops. By the time the half dozen cop cars and two ambulances arrive, we’re across the bridge and parked in the darkness behind a closed convenience store. Janah eases the car from behind the store, lights off. She flips them on a half mile down the two lane road. Nobody in front, nothing follows.
Chapter Seventy IV
When your fear cometh as desolation,
and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind;
when distress and anguish cometh upon you.
Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer;
they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me.
Proverbs 1:27-28, King James Version
Janah swaps the car in Slidell, just before the Mississippi state line. An Escalade, a cooler of water and tea, sandwiches, and the key to a room at the hotel. We drive as far as the Beau Rivage in Biloxi, deconstructing our working look along the way, in our suite before two a.m. “Dang, Transportation thinks of everything. Man, I love those guys.”
Janah, “They want us back in one piece. Social Work teams are hard to find.”
We shower, leave blood stained work clothes in trash bags in the SUV. During the night, Transportation will remove it and replace it with a different one. No DNA, no hair fibers, no prints in the unlikely event anyone followed us through Louisiana, a car change in Slidell then to the hotel in Mississippi. Probably ridiculous overkill, we want as much anonymity as feasible. I think Janah is working on an invisibility cloak in her spare time.
We curl up, exhausted, and fall into a dreamless sleep until nearly ten, “Wow, we slept and slept. I can’t remember going past eight before.”
Janah, “We aren’t late nighters, most of the time we’re in bed by eleven.”
“I must have missed my party girl genes.”
Call down for straightforward breakfast of omelets, grits and waffles, coffee and green tea. It’s a casino hotel, there is no night and day. The food is up in twenty minutes, by quarter after twelve we’re in the Escalade to Seaside Florida.
I park in a slot next to the condo, Chan hauls in bags while we recount our adventures in Madisonville the night before.
Black, “Sounds like you had things under control from the start.”
Janah, “These are not the brightest bulbs on the tree. The crowd in the bar was so full of bullcrap it smelled like a stockyard. Once Nikko torched the bikes, the crowd was mesmerized, the bikers dumb as stumps. They’re used to intimidating. People see leather vests, gloves with the fingers cut off, chains, they get all wet in the pants. Bunch of women past expiration date, guys all gone to seed. They think a few bikers hanging around is sexy.”
Black, “L5&6 have gotten word that there’s a new crew in town. The bikers here don’t deal much with the other gangs; for security purposes, they keep the leash short. When no money came in from Houston, they started to get suspicious, checked around and found they have two dead lieutenants in Houston, one gone missing in New Orleans, and one dead in Baton Rouge.”
Janah, “Okay, they have their guard up, maybe even go to ground. Doesn’t matter, Surveillance will know where they are.”
Black, “How we gonna do this? I still haven’t played with my sisters.”
“Don’t know yet. I couldn’t let you and Chan go to Madisonville. Too hard to disguise either of you and there were witnesses. Perhaps it can work here. I’m going to find out who’s where tomorrow. Right now, I’m thinking of sending you, Daphne and me to deal with the bikers. Chan and Nikko will go for L6. Nikko will call him out, Chan’s there to deal with any help.”
Nikko, “What happens to the Capos?”
“Today, the Capos and the Boss are being picked clean financially. They own nothing, they have no money, their passports or visas have been revoked and the Immigration people have them under detention as illegal aliens. We’ll never see them. They will have no idea what train wreck happened to their lives. One day they were rich, full of piss and vinegar, the next in terrorist holding cells, eventually shipped to Japan with nothing.”
Nikko, “Can’t they prove they existed, friends, utility records, places they bought stuff with credit cards?”
Janah, “Chalked up to fake or stolen cards. In the world of government, motor vehicle registration, driver’s licenses, passports, they don’t exist. In the world of banking, checking accounts, safety deposit boxes, financial statements and tax returns, they don’t exist. In the US, you got no money or ID, you don’t exist.”
Chan is making a fork levitate, he snaps his wrist and it sticks straight into the floor.
Janah, “Good thing it’s carpeted. The owner might take exception if you stuck it in the wall.”
How’s he do that? I haven’t seen you do that.
I never thought to try it. Chan spends hours doing things with his mind. I prefer to spend my free time making your toes curl.
I grin, Nikko is looking at me, “Nasty girls.”
Black, “What are you talking about? Never mind, you aren’t going to tell me. How’s Chan do that?”
Janah, “Come on, Black.”
“I didn’t realize he’d taken qi that far.”
“He can get into other people’s minds, dude. You’ve seen him throw a man against a wall without touching him. How hard can it be to move a fork?”
Black, “Hope he don’t take it in his head to start tossing kitchen knives around.”
The fork comes out of the carpet and lands flat on the table between Black’s hands.
Black, “I got the point first time, Chan.”
Chan, “Chan did not move fork.”
Black sees Janah’s innocent smile, “Oh, geez.”
I hug him from behind, “Don’t sweat. They won’t clonk you on the head with a flying can of soup. Janah uses it around the apartment to keep in practice. Fortunately mostly tennis balls. Nikko and I have to be on guard all the time, or we get clocked by a flying tennis ball from some otherwise empty area of the room.”
Black, “Get out.”
Janah, “The fun’s going out of it. They catch most of them, even when I sail them from behind. Now, it’s just for practice. Keeps them environmentally aware.”
It’s approaching eight thirty, sun long gone. Black makes pasta drizzled with olive oil and grated parmesan, pan fried fish, chilled romaine with bleu cheese. Chan and I are washing up plates when the Iridium phone dings, Janah clicks on, listens, clicks off.
“Well, well. How very convenient. Both L5 and L6 are having a meet. And both biker gangs are there. Time to work boys and girls. Gather up your toys, it’s an hour’s drive.”
Black’s hair is close cut, not shaved, but under a half inch. Chan keeps his head shaved. Nikko and I braid each other, while Janah covers hers with spray on purple, a black stripe down the middle. She fits black Eye Kandy contacts, black lipstick, brows and eyeliner. A snug studded dog collar around her neck, jeans, Converse steel toe sneakers and a purple and white tie dyed long sleeve pullover.
Nikko and I, usual gear, we’ll face paint each other closer to the destination.
The guys do straight dark pants, boots, black t-shirts and watch caps. An hour later, we’re in the Escalade, parked down the street from L6’s home south of Panama City.
Janah, “Daphne and Chan, I’ve studied the satellite photos and Surveillance shots, the place is gated, electric fence all around. Don’t touch it. We’ll bust in the front gate, they’re expecting us anyway. For now, reconnoiter the grounds, let us know what’s going on.”
Chan and I leave, walk down the block, rumbling Harleys approach from either side of the street as we near the house. The bikes stop, engines running, but the noise abates, just a low growl in the darkness.
“You lost?” one of the bikers asks.
I walk up to him flirtatiously, “You have a big one,” I purr, looking at the cycle.
He gets a half grin, “And you look like you’re ready for a Halloween party.”
My face is streaked red and black, lips black, lightly tinted sunglasses.
Chan approaches the second biker, who appears to be frozen.
I clock my man hard in the windpipe, he gags and falls off the bike, which topples over onto his leg, he tries to yell, but his voice won’t work, it’s more like a gagging cough. I walk around the bike, kick him hard on the side of his head, lights out. I turn off the bike and leave him resting under it.
Chan’s quarry comes to, Chan grabs an arm in one hand, the biker’s long hair in the other. He crushes the forearm, a gun clatters to the cement. Just as he starts to howl, Chan’s oversized fist meets biker’s face. Everything breaks, he sails backwards off the bike.
Chan throws his body against the electric fence, which explodes in sparks and smoke. He’s cooked for a couple hours minimum. The entire perimeter of the house lights up like a Christmas display of white halogen. I shut off the second bike. We leave them on the empty street.
There is no longer any reason to survey the house, everything is plain as day. Two dozen bikers are patrolling the grounds, guns drawn. Chan and I return to the SUV. Janah backs into a grove of palmettos.
Janah, “Well, we’ve been formally introduced.”
I pull out my air rifle, load the darts and put an extra handful in my jacket pocket.
Black, “What now?”
Chapter Seventy One IV
Janah, “Black, you and Daphne go around back. The excitement is in the front, for the time being they’ll have most of their people there. They’re armed, likely assault rifles will appear. Put down anything that moves. Your shuriken are laced with a sedative, but will take a minute to kick in. And go for exposed skin, the denim and leather may interfere with effectiveness. Chan, Nikko and I will handle the front. I’ll check in with Daphne when we have it secured. They’ll head to the house once they see some of their buddies starting to drop for no apparent reason. We’ll figure out the next step then, it’s improvise from here on.”
The SUV empties. Black and I make our way through the trees, get in sight of the fence, but stay well inside the darkness.
There are nine guys in the back. That leaves fifteen in front or inside. L6 and L5 inside no doubt. L6 is the cautious one. I wouldn’t preclude a panic room. We can count bikes and bodies, that will tell us if we’ve dealt with all the bikers. We can’t assume there are no other bodyguards though.
Janah relays my message to her crew. They begin dropping the ones closest to the fence line, aiming at faces and hands holding weapons. A few minutes later, six men lay passed out, the others too far away for shuriken.
I take four with the air rifle, the narrow bullets coated with the same powerful narcotic as the shuriken. Black downs three more with shuriken, the two remaining flee to the house. They pop off several shots in the general direction of the back fence, wood snaps around us.
Chan is at the front gate, gives it a push and it snaps as if there is no chain or two inch deadbolt. The gate flies open, he backs into the darkness.
Random gunfire towards the gate, then a gravelly voice, “You’re shooting air assholes. No more noise unless you see a target. Back up to the edge of the house. We can see anyone approaching, it’s like a sunny day out there.”
Another voice, “What if they have guns, we’re like fish in a barrel out here?”
“Don’t be stupid, if they had guns, you’d all be dead by now. Our men were attacked by samurai. If you want to keep your eyes open, then keep your eyes open and shut the fuck up.”
There is silence, men backing to the house, heads turning in every direction. Beyond the perimeter of light, nothing.
Got a plan? Don’t feel anything noodling around in your head.
Nothing yet, I’m working on it. Everyone hold until I decide.
I tell Black, “We’re awaiting further instruction.”
Black, “Sooner or later, we need inside, starting with this fence.”
I tap the fence with my chain, nothing, a good sign. The fence isn’t separately wired, after Chan shorted it out with the help of the biker, the whole thing is now just a wrought iron fence, not an electrified wrought iron fence.
“Feel like showing me your muscles?”
Black smiles, he feels the top of one spiked picket and runs his finger along the part that connects to the rails, “It’s screwed on, Phillips head.”
I have a Leatherman Charge TTI, a superb titanium multifunction tool, “Try this.”
Black, “Jesus, what doesn’t this thing have?”
“An IPhone and a laser guided cruise missile. Other than that, about everything you’d need in a tool.”
Black looks it over, opens the Phillips screwdriver and begins. A rail comes off, then a second.
“Make a hell of a spear.”
I relay Black’s discovery to Janah, who says, I don’t have the screwdriver.
You got Chan.
A few seconds later, Janah has her own spear, Nikko her katana, Chan has Chan. They are locked and loaded.
There are twenty four bikes on this side of the pool. I’m going to light them up. There's also a propane tank on the side of the utility shed, there’ll be a big bang. Have Chan pull the power from the utility pole, make sure he doesn’t electrocute himself doing it. If he javelins one of the rails though the transformer, that ought to do it. The bad guys will be drawn to the back of the house. There are at least thirteen left, eleven bikers, two Ls. Maybe a partridge in a pear tree. You guys make your way closer to the front after the fireworks start and the lights go out, start to deal. Black and I will do our thing back here, meet you in the living room.
Janah, We’re on it.
I turn to Black, “I smell blood, how are you?”
Black, “Grazed on the arm, it’s nothing.”
“Let me see.”
Black, “Can’t see crap out here.”
"You mean you can't see crap out here," Black pulls the shirt over his head, there is a slight wound on his upper left arm. I pour iodine on it, Dermabond, a gauze pad, wrap it with duct tape.
Black, “Is there anything you don’t carry?”
Daphne, “You or Chan, too big. But if Nikko, Janah or I take a hit, we each have some quickie meds. Want a Lidocaine patch stuck on it?”
Black, “No, it’s cool. I can move my arm, no blood, that Dermabond stuff is amazing,” he pulls on his shirt. What now?”
“Be sure to get cover when I pop the propane tank. I’m going to let the gas leak for a bit, but there’s no guarantee that it won’t just go off when I shoot a hole in it.”
Black, “That air gun going to even make a dent?”
“The air gun will put one of these darts through a two inch plank, I’ve done it. But it likely won’t make the tank blow. I’m going to throw a flare on it and the bikes. We going to have a hell of a bonfire.”
The bikes are lined up neatly in two rows of twelve on the side of the pool nearest me and Black. I take the air gun, bullets look like darts without feathers, these cased in titanium, remove the empty magazine and pop in afresh one. Each magazine carries six bullets, I’d used one, have another three in my pocket.
I bust the gas tanks on the bikes at the corners, then two in the middle. The scent of leaking gasoline fills the air. I ping a dart at the propane tank, it sticks in the side, but there is no way to tell if it created a leak. My owl eyes notice the copper tubing that runs to the regulator. I stick a dart in it, hear the sound of escaping gas. I ding the tank twice more, one bullet makes it through, the hiss of more gas. Black and I back deeper into the palmettos.
Janah, We smell the gas on this side.
Yeah, I’m about to blow up the place. When you hear it, Chan does his javelin thing. Then use your judgment about moving in on the house. Black and I will circle to the side on your left. Try not to shove your spear into me.
Janah, We’re ready. Nikko wants to charge the house and kill everyone, so before crazy samurai takes it on herself, make everything go boom.
I ease to the fence, pop open a flare and strike one end against the other like a giant match. I hear the ping and snap of bullets around me. I throw the burning end over the fence high in the air, use every bit of speed I have to get deep into the trees and hit the dirt next to Black. A whoosh! A big whoosh, the sky is on fire, another explosion a second later. The lights go out in the house. Shards of metal are zinging into the trees all around us. Some rain down, a large chunk of propane tank clips a branch and thuds down next to me. The backyard is lit up by burning bikes, the propane gone. Gas tanks began to explode, but the fragments don’t spread far, other bikes are in the way, the pool splashes with sizzling motorcycle parts.
Black and I go through the hole in the fence, using smoke and flames for cover we move to the right, back into darkness, then approach the house. Thank you owl, I can see in the house with her night vision, bodies glow amber. I spot most of the men peering out back windows at their melting cycles. I pick off four men with the air rifle. That leaves seven bikers.
The Ls are nowhere in sight. The panic room idea begins to look like a reality. Janah and Nikko are behind the columns that support the front balcony. Chan blasts the front door and rolls in a smoke bomb, then a flash grenade. I do the same thing at the same moment through the widow. The house echoes the flash grenades, deafening the men inside, smoke fills the first floor. The remaining seven bikers are shooting out the windows, hitting nothing but trees and air.
A voice shouts, “You’re wasting ammo shitheads.”
He’s wasting his breath, nobody inside can hear anything but ringing in their ears. Tear gas follows, canisters through every window on the ground floor and a half dozen through the upstairs windows.
The bikers stumble out of the back door, coughing and hacking. Then either anesthetized or knocked cold, depending on whether they met a shuriken, Black or Chan’s fist. Anesthetized likely feels better. Janah, Nikko and I zip wire around ankles and wrists, wrap up mouths with duct tape. When they finally wake up, they’ll be hog tied and deep fried. Black and Chan search out the hiding place of the Ls.
Janah, Nikko and I take posts outside, triangulating the house, Black and Chan go through the rooms. A stairway leads up to the attic. Inside the attic, a wall. A solid steel door so tightly fitted Chan almost misses it. Bingo.
There is no handle, the door opens inwards, hinged on the other side, once closed and locked, can only be opened from the inside. The seals are tight. Tear gas, smoke proof. There are likely oxygen canisters inside, but there has to be ventilation. That means it opens someplace.
Black goes downstairs, calls to Janah, she appears next to him, “Panic room, like you thought. My guess is there’s an exit to the roof or somebody could just burn down the house.”
Janah, “Or an interior slide to a tunnel that exits on the other side of the fence. Surveillance is covering the exterior grounds. If the moles pop up, they’ll be spotted. L6 was careful, but a tunnel is a lot of trouble to build and maintain in this climate. The soil is loose, mushy a few feet down, it rains a lot. I’m going with a roof exit. If he wanted the aggravation of a tunnel, he’d have put the panic room below ground, or at least on the first floor. Torch the house around the panic room. Either the whole thing slams into the ground floor or our targets exit. I’d wait them out on the roof, but it won’t be long before the police are here, too much lit up night sky. Neighbors are two miles away, but they’ll get curious eventually. I need to call Mrs. Epstein.”
I heard the conversation and go to find Nikko, “Janah expects our ninjas to be roof crawling soon. You haven’t had much fun tonight. I got to dart guys and blow up stuff. All you got was tossing a few shuriken. So, Ls 5 and 6 belong to you. Nobody will intervene unless they cheat.”
Nikko, “Most considerate. I will repay you, several times.”
Nishiko finds the most delightful ways to express her appreciation.
Janah, “If you two are finished with innuendo, keep an eye on the roof please.”
“You betta recanize, girl. You think a roach goin’ crawl cross that roof and I won’t know?”
Janah giggles, I tingle…she still does that to me.
Black and Chan come alongside Janah. Flames begin to lick the side of the house outside the windows on the second floor, underneath the panic room in the attic. I’m atop the utility shed, what’s left after the propane tank blew up, Cool, a lid just popped up that fit so well with the roof, it looked like roof. One roach out, second roach out.
An aluminum chain ladder unfolds down one side of the house. Two men scurry down. They’re nimble, no hesitancy, katana strapped across both backs, they’re dressed in black.
Janah, Chan, Black and I sit cross legged in a big semi-circle, twenty feet or so from the bottom of the ladder. Black and Chan at either end, J and me the middle of the arch. Nikko stands halfway between us and the ladder.
Ls 5 and 6 come down facing the wall and don’t spot us until they hit the ground and turn. While only their eyes are visible, I can see the shock register, read their minds, ‘Who are these people? Three women and two guys had taken out biker gangs and ninjas from Corpus Christi to Florida? In a matter of days?’
L6, “Where are the rest?”
I help turn on the light, “The rest? The rest of what? You think we need more than ourselves to deal with a few dozen cockroaches? Your exterminator faces you. You may die like men, with your katana. Both of you must face the samurai. To make it fair, you should both attack. She’s far too good for just one, as has been amply demonstrated.”
L5, “And you’ll just sit and watch her to die?”
“Listen up, ninjerk. Draw your swords and bear the consequences.”
L6 throws something powdery at Nikko, it stops as if it hit an invisible wall. L5 begins to fire shuriken, Nikko twists her head and body, the stars fly off to nothing. Janah and Chan have her wall-papered with qi.
“Yo! Idiots. I said swords, ka-TA-na, am I speaking slowly enough? God, you guys are sooo stupid.”
Ls 5 and 6 finally get it. Any other tricks or weapons are useless, “And if we kill the girl?’
“You are free to go.”
L6, the savvy one asks, “What is your guarantee?”
I pull my sleeves up, raise my arms.
L6, “Shaolin. Shaolin and a samurai, what’s the world coming to?”
He says to his comrade, “The Shaolin has spoken, she is a priest. If we kill the samurai, we can go, she will honor her word.”
L5 grins, draws his sword, L6 follows, they circle Nikko, who, so far, hadn’t moved, blinked or breathed.
L5, more impulsive, makes the initial attack, dead on slashing sideways, trying to get her to move towards L6. She doesn’t take the bait, slides into him and slices him across the knee, deeply enough to slow him down. Nikko isn’t about to end the show early.
L6 seizes what he thinks an advantage, her back to him, he holds his katana high and comes down hard, Nikko spins, her sword clashes against his and drives it to the side, she cuts down and slices his right ear clean to the skull, blood boils from the side of his head.
Maybe she thinks he’s Van Gogh.
Janah, Man she’s good. I love the excellence of her action.
And she’s good with her sword too.
Janah, Well….there’s that.
Nikko leaps so high, even I’m impressed. L5 had taken a cut at her waist, he sliced air, she wasn’t there. She’s above him, slices his nose in half, spins and catches L6’s sword a half inch from her neck, twists her katana around his and pokes him in his left eye with the tip, then takes his hand at the wrist. His ninja days have drawn to a close, he’s on the ground, one ear, one eye, one hand. What IS the sound of one hand clapping?
L5 screams, down cuts hard, Nikko takes a slash across her elbow, a quarter inch deep, bloody. She smiles, she lets him thrust and parry, comes into him when she’s supposed to back away, slides sideways when she’s supposed to attack. Each slash of her sword opens an new cut. He’s bleeding from every limb, his torso and a gash across his cheek. He howls in anger, which means fear, comes at her, she removes his head with a cross cut he never feels. The body falls forward, head rolls to one side, eyes stare into the void.
L6 kneels, looks up at Nishiko, “I have lived as a rogue. Despite my dishonor, kindly grant me an honorable death.”
Nikko nods, moves behind him. He takes his short sword, meditates for a time, impales himself in the gut and yanks the blade sideways, Nikko takes his head. She bows slightly, not granting him the honor of a full bow, but the recognition that he has died more honorably than he lived.
A half dozen trucks screech up, two fire trucks, men get out in hazmat suits. Down the road, sirens wail, lights flash, the crowd of EMTs, cops and the fire department is stopped a mile from the scene. They are informed a hazardous waste unit of a federal agency is handling the burn, spraying so much water it seems like they’d been instructed to wash away anything recognizable as evidence.
The local police captain was instructed to turn the investigation over to an unexplained sub-agency of the Department of Homeland Security. A team of official looking vans, trucks and the two fire trucks arrived before the locals, guys with DHS jackets, FBI caps, DEA, ICE, maybe even the CIA and the DOD, every acronym known to man.
A huge black commando, in camo gear with a Major’s rank, thanks the locals for their assistance and says his ‘team’ has the scene locked down. They are all legitimate, well sort of. They are all military, impersonating the other three letter tribes, under orders to bag the bodies and take them to a place to be turned into dust.
They are Special Forces combat teams. They get orders, they follow them, go home. The local authorities are so far out of their league they have no idea what the game is. And, truth be told, the local captain is happy to be relieved of the mess. As far as he knows, an empty house burned down due to a faulty propane tank. There are serious questions about what materials were being stored there. The local authorities do the usual moaning and groaning, the lower level guys are happy to be sent home. What had looked like a long night turned into a ride in a truck. No mess to clean up, no burned bodies to be bagged, no next of kin to notify.
Chapter Seventy Two IV
The stupid man always says he is going to become clever.
He sits working, struggling to become; he never stops,
he never says, 'I am stupid.'
So his action, which is based on idea, is not action at all.
J. Krishnamurti, The First and Last Freedom
Our crew drives to the condo, we smell smoked, in wood, burned rubber and gasoline. Eau de Conflagration. On the way we stop at a cheap motel, park next to a Lincoln Navigator. There are keys to two rooms, inside the rooms are large contractor waste bags, changes of clothes, jeans and t-shirts, sneakers, socks. The men shower and change in one, the three of us in the other. We clean and bleach our weapons. An hour later, we’re on the road in the Navigator.
Finally at the Seaside condo, deli sandwiches, pizza, bottled water, green tea and Coke Zero, my preferred beverage. There is no talk, no recap, no sense of achievement. We killed men, injured many others.
Kazuo Nakamura, the boss, Mikio Inoue and Nobu Yoshida, the two Capos, have their lives, just not their former lives, no identities and no money. The Society has made them nonentities, illegally in the country, ultimately deported penniless to Japan.
Even if they piece together bits of information, to what agency do they complain about samurai dismantling their extortion and drug operation?
Janah, “I’ve had it and I did the least work, everyone needs rest. Tomorrow, we’ll hang out and walk the beach, shed the death, then day after, we go home. It will be good to be with the family. I think one day of nothing is in order first. But if anyone wants to return tomorrow, it can be arranged.”
Black, “I’ll wait, I think it’s for the best, one full day to clear the stink, I still smell greasy smoke.”
This morning we linger in bed, I rouse myself at nine to make tea and coffee, Chan is on the porch cross legged, Black busy doing what I had come to do. I kiss his cheek, get tea for Janah and Nikko and bring it to them, return to the kitchen for coffee and start breaking eggs, crumbling feta and chopping fresh spinach.
Black already has a box of grits in a big pot, buttering a whole loaf of bread under the stoves’ broiler while I whisk two dozen eggs, stir fry the spinach just a bit to soften it, then add the drained spinach and feta to the cooking eggs. He does the toast in my Southern style, pats of butter on top, browned in the broiler, soft on bottom. Try it, it’s really neat. There's blackberry and Mayhaw jelly. Mayhaw is a seedy small fruit grown in Georgia. The jelly has no seeds, but has a sweet and slightly tart flavor.
Finally, there is nothing. Zero. We’d eaten twenty four eggs, a pound of fresh spinach, a box of crumbled Feta, grits and a loaf of wheat bread.
Janah, “I’m love some company for a walk down the beach.”
Black, “Cool. Let’s do it.”
In an hour we’re two miles down the shoreline. It isn’t an exercise walk, it’s a chill walk. We stop in between beach houses and condos, nothing for a hundred yards either way, sit in a circle on the sand, I have bottles of water in a backpack.
Black, “You kept them cold?’
I open the bag, half full of frozen gel packs, “Cold is better, water-wise anyway.”
We sit silently for a half hour, then another, the sun peaks then arcs slowly west.
Walking back to the condo, we pass a beachside restaurant and bar, Janah turns up the beach, “Need a restroom break.”
The men do men things, the women, woman things, we meet at the bar. I get a Diet Coke, Janah a club soda with lime, same for Chan and Nikko. Black chugs a plain Coke and orders a second.
Janah, Uh, oh.
Oh please, you know this going to be fun. She isn’t going to start a bar fight down the beach from where we’re staying.
A beach turd has floated down the bar, sits next to Nikko, Beach Turd says, “I got this thing for Asian chicks. Never dated one, never met one as hot as you.”
Nikko stares at him like he’s a virus, one she is considering removing from the planet before it infects the human race. Beach Turd can only see black, not a whisper of emotion, he makes a bad guess.
“You speak English? I don’t know no foreign shit”
Nikko says, in Japanese, “You don’t know any shit.”
Beach Turd smiles, he’s a little drunk, not catching the nuance. It is saves him a lot of pain. Nikko hates this kind of sleazy bullshit, but she’ll let him lose interest instead of hospitalizing him. It’s a bad idea to create extraneous attention when we work.
Beach Turd starts to open his mouth, a shadow crosses his vision. Black is directly in front of him. He looks up at the largest human being he’s ever seen, his mouth opens, then shuts.
Black, “Best shit you said all day, cracker, you don’t know, and you don’t want to know. Now slide on down the bar, even better, slide on outta here.”
Beach Turd gets real sober, real fast. He keeps some dignity by moving to the end of the bar, but he finishes his beer quickly, drops a five on the bar and hits the street.
The bartender comes up, “Thanks, man. That scum bucket is in here every damn day, always hits on a girl, always turns them off, never catches on.”
Black, “My friends are just trying to chill at the beach. We’re all pals from college, Utah State. Out of the clear blue, we decided to revisit old times someplace we’d never been. Someplace nice and quiet. Up until this dude, that’s exactly what it’s been. You don’t have to worry, we weren’t going to break him or the furniture.”
The bartender laughs, “I wish you would have. I just work here, it’s not my place. Property’s owned by an old lady, been here since they started making sand, the building is leased by a guy who runs the restaurant and bar. Made my day to see that bag of crap gone. He’s bad for business. I’ve had good paying partying customers hit the door because he’s poking at the girls.”
“Then tell him he’s not welcome here anymore. You don’t have to take all comers you know, not if they’re causing grief.”
Bartender, “He’s the old lady’s grandson. Guy who leases the joint is between the devil and the deep blue.”
Black, “Then he’s got to show some cojones. Tell the old woman he’s not renewing if the grandkid shows up again. If she won’t cooperate, then you live with fewer tips, or move on.”
Bartender, “I’ll pass along the message. Been thinking about moving on anyway. I’ve hung because the owner is a nice enough guy, treats his employees well, this place is packed at night during the season, runs from late spring to early fall. Fortunately, the dope doesn’t show up atnight, usually trashed by late afternoon.”
Black, “Well, maybe the night money makes up for the day money, none of my business anyway.”
Bartender, “No sweat, we’re just talking, you have a point. Like you said, the night money’s good. I’m still going to press the owner to nag the old woman. Maybe if he explains the dope’s stink is rubbing off on her, she’ll see the light.”
Black, “I like it. Hope it works, next time we’re in town, we’ll stop and see if there’s been any changes.”
Everyone is finished with their drinks, we leave on the beach side, walk back to the condo. Beach Turd is nowhere in sight. There are no cops, uniform or otherwise. I unwrap cold cuts, cheese, crackers and nuts, we have a light lunch and go off for showers and naps.
Late afternoon nothing, watch the sunset on the ocean, dinner at Bud & Alleys, emphasis on seafood but Nikko is able to get a tasty ribeye almost cooked. She likes steak charred and bloody, a reflection of her fighting persona. The rest of us share crab cakes, grilled tilefish, seared scallops, Janah has roasted beets with kale, curly endive lettuce, red onions,
toasted walnuts, sugarcane vinaigrette and goat cheese. There are additional veg sides with our dishes, she has tastes of those as well. It’s not New Orleans, but nothing is badly done and most of it quite good.