Lee versus Li: Jeet Kune Do
January 8, 2017
From an inconspicuous corner in a coffee shop across the street from the bar where Wanda was working, Natasha watched the surveillance feed on her tablet and made a phone call to another resource. He answered on the first ring.
“Luis,” she stirred milk into her tea, keeping an eye on the other customers around her, “what did you find out about the street dealers?” Her tablet chimed as a new message popped up in the corner, overlaying a portion of the surveillance on the screen.
From ChemicalQueen: He’s decided to rip up the kitchen floor too. Help.
Luis took in a deep breathe. “So I was in the waiting room to see my acupuncturist, ‘cause I got this real serious carpal tunnel issue, you know? And surgery is way harsh on the body, Ninja Lady, and my body is like a temple and-”
Natasha typed quickly.
You could have stayed in the apartment.
You chose to live in another house older than electricity.
You bring this on yourself.
The response was immediate.
ChemicalQueen: Clearly I make poor life choices.
ChemicalQueen: Please help.
ChemicalQueen: He wants tile.
Tile is good for cleaning up blood.
“-homepathy. Which is why I raise my own herbal remedies. I mean, some of them have, like, an incidental monetary value, sure, but Martha says you gotta use fresh rosemary on roast chicken and she is no joke. That shit is the bomb. I will make it for you some time and you will be like, ‘damn, Luis’, and I’ll be all ‘that’s right’ ‘cause the proper balance is like a culinary and spiritual melding that effects your brain for real, girl. The mind is-”
From ChemicalQueen: That’s what he said! But it’s hard on my back.
Stop having sex on the floor.
ChemicalQueen: I wish. Too much baking while carrying the world’s chubbiest toddler.
But seriously, what do you think about hardwood?
On the screen, Wanda got a slap on her ass as her date headed to refresh their drinks. Her harsh whisper came in clearly through the comm, “Shchurnyy bastur! Ya zlamayu yoho ruku, yakshcho znovu torknetʹsya moyeyi dupy!”
Natasha muted her phone, letting Luis continue his report uninterrupted. “I told you to stretch properly first, Witch. You need to dodge, glide. If you break any of his fingers he won’t want to take you to bed.” Wanda was maintaining the slightly tipsy and coy expression they had practiced, but her body language screamed tension. Luckily the mark was distracted ordering his fifth shot of vodka.
From ChemicalQueen: He’s eyeing the family room now.
ChemicalQueen: HELP ME.
ChemicalQueen: If not now, then when I inevitably have to hide his dead body.
Hardwood can be expensive.
Dark shows scratches, light shows stains.
Also, pine is ugly.
Wanda tapped her fingers against her mouth so no one would see her talking into the comm and played with her phone.
“If I am such a terrible pot of honey, perhaps you should have taken point.”
Natasha flicked through a few different camera angles as Wanda found a seat. “I’ve had a few run ins with the Czechs, in another lifetime. Better not to take the chance someone might recognize me. Besides, Havel prefers his women a bit less…mature.”
“Khvoryy ebet,” Wanda spat, but that was the moment Havel returned with their drinks.
“It’s the same in Czech and Sokovian,” Natasha advised her quickly.
“Very bad words for such a pretty girl.” He was frowning.
“Oh,” Wanda pouted and gestured with her phone. “My friend Nina is out with a new boy and the things he asked her to do! I texted her she should come here instead. I am having much more fun.” Havel smiled and relaxed into the couch next to Wanda, ready to continue his efforts to talk her into going home with him.
Satisfied Wanda had things under control, Natasha unmuted her phone.
“-through the thick of it, you know what I’m sayin’? Prison can do that to you. Like me and my boy Scott. So they got this real deep bond, like sisters but not by blood, and they can just tell, you know? Like they know in their bones when something isn’t right with the other one. Like when my Uncle Bob knew my Dad was getting deported. So when Jesusa calls me and says, ‘Luis, my girl is going to make a comeback’ – she’s got the media by their metaphorical balls, I listen. I just wish I had bought more. My Omnimedia stock went through the roof, yo. So I feel like we have our own kind of bond, not like sisters, but maybe like cousins – once removed or something and-”
From ChemicalQueen: Cork?
Pros – Sound dampening.
Easy on back.
Cons – Gouges.
“Havel!” Wanda laughed and slapped at his shoulder. “You are so naughty!”
“But I am so good too, pretty girl. You just don’t know me well enough yet. Why don’t we go somewhere quieter where we can talk?”
Natasha quickly copied and pasted a link into her messenger.
Negotiated $200 off if you pick up.
ChemicalQueen: He thinks its too rustic.
ChemicalQueen: Says he wants…encaustic?
ChemicalQueen: One sec. GTS.
“Well, I don’t know.” Wanda was playing hard to get, just as she and Natasha had discussed. “I told my friend Nina I would be here all night.”
Natasha dropped a tip on the table and slid out of her chair, phone still up to her ear.
“-antique sideboard. But it turns out it’s called a Hoosier cabinet, like the basketball team. Which is pretty dope, and in mint condition it can go for like a couple grand, and this one has some serious sentimental value. And I am all about the history, you know? You gotta protect that deeper meaning. So I say to him-”
From ChemicalQueen: Jesus. Costs more than my degree.
ChemicalQueen: The stupid dog is just going to get mud on it.
ChemicalQueen: He grew up in a fucking tent.
ChemicalQueen: Thinks floors are clean as long as there aren’t any peanuts on them.
ChemicalQueen: He really wants this.
ChemicalQueen: Goddammit he’s giving me the eyes!!!
“Why don’t you tell her to meet us at my place?” Havel wrapped his arm around Wanda’s back. “We can order some food and talk. Make it a little party. You like Thai, or maybe sushi?”
“Okay, that – that sounds fun. Give me the address and I’ll text it to her.”
From ChemicalQueen: The EYES! That’s how I got Lila!
ChemicalQueen: He’s sticking out his lip!
ChemicalQueen: Save me!
ChemicalQueen: He’s flexing -you know what that does to my resolve.
ChemicalQueen: This is how he got me to marry him!
ChemicalQueen: And Nathaniel!
Natasha stepped out of the coffee shop and across the frozen slush in the street. She clipped on a bluetooth earpiece and slid her phone into her pocket. In her right ear was Wanda.
“Should Nina just text me or is there an intercom at your building?”
In her left ear was Luis. “-John Frieda. He got me a number for this guy that works in San Fran. Which is crazy, right, ‘cause it turns out he roomed with my second cousin in juvie on account of a misunderstanding regarding some Chinese cinema and-”
With her newly freed hand she pulled out a jimmy bar and with the other she opened a second message window on her tablet. She set it on the hood of an ostentatious yellow Hummer while she typed.
Go get the wood floor from Craigslist and I’ll babysit next Saturday overnight.
“Okay, Havel, I’m ready. You said you have a car here?” Wanda was standing up, putting on her thin leather jacket over a backless top. Excellent for catching sleezy men, not so good for January in Philadelphia.
From FarmerBrown: Two Saturdays.
Natasha was prepared to negotiate.
One overnight and an afternoon out with kids.
The lock popped up and she slipped a small electronic device under the steering column, blocking the alarm and gps signal. She grabbed the tablet and shut the drivers door.
FarmerBrown: Overnight, afternoon, and you watch the dog.
Natasha slipped into the backseat and relocked the vehicle.
Don’t push it. I know where you sleep.
The reply was immediate.
FamerBrown: Making an appointment to pick it up ASAP. Have a nice evening!
The tablet fit into a special pocket inside her coat and she crouched into the shadows, watching Wanda and the handsy Havel exit the bar and turn toward his vehicle. Idly, she wondered how Luis would do in a tear gas situation. The man had tremendous lung capacity.
“-just like the one her mother had when she was a little girl. So we swap recipes, she makes a mean snicker-doodle, and tells me her grandson has been real put out ‘cause this new Asian gang has been sellin’ on his turf. Some of his boys were roughed up and he needs to get some face back on the street. I tell her he needs to try some breathing techniques, you know, learn to actualize and meditate on the success he wants in the universe. And she says she don’t know about that, but that this Sunday shit the Asians are selling is like the crack cocaine of the new decade – know what I’m saying? And I agree and give her a plate of Dave’s meringue surprise bars, the surprise is completely medicinal, and she sends one of the neighbor kids around the corner to pick up some tabs for us. So I have a list of dealers in California and six samples of Sunday.”
Wanda was only a half block away, smiling, shivering, and telling Havel she would need something to warm her up. Natasha didn’t have much time.
“Definitely, Ninja Lady. And you know I am working it. I already left a message with Kurt’s sister’s ex-boyfriend and when-”
“Good work, Luis.” Natasha disconnected just as Havel opened the door for Wanda, letting his hand linger on her sparkly tights just below her mini skirt. When he got in, he was quick to turn over the engine and lean across the console with a slick smile.
“Now that we have some privacy-” He sucked in a sharp breath as Natasha’s knife pressed against the base of his skull. Natasha could never understand why Steve always looked so overworked. He just needed to learn to multitask better.