Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Just A Day At Work (Part 7)

Rita and I rolled south on I-5.  She had a relaxed look on her face, a combination of four drinks and the personal satisfaction of a couple jobs well done.  She was vaguely fascinated by my little Honda CVCC.  Given the social culture she was born, raised, and lived in, something that small was a complete anomaly.... And she was used to taking shit for driving her Toyota beater.
My Honda was not a beater.  While not an attractive vehicle, it was kept running well: given the light aluminum blocks CVCCs had, I ran Mobil One oil through it and kept the coolant topped off religiously.  I maintained it almost obsessively, getting it tuned every fifteen thousand miles, keeping the tires rotated, having the transmission and clutch inspected at set intervals (along with the brakes).... My little CVCC wasn't about to leave me stranded.

Is there.... Yeah, there is a car there.
No one ever noticed it, which was fine with me.
It was a habit I'd picked up a couple years earlier.  I was being paid to drive from a trailer out in the desert near Needles to a home in Santee (east county San Diego).  I had no spare tire on those runs: the well where the spare went was full of Folger's coffee cans, packed with methamphetamine.  And I was on a time limit: they knew exactly how long it took to make the drive, holding the speed limit. I had a twenty-minute window for my arrival time in Santee.  Too fast, and I'd get chewed out and possibly lose the gig: speeding meant the risk of getting pulled over and jeopardizing the delivery.  Too slow, and I'd have to sit in a living room with a large gentleman who was holding a gun in one hand while all the product was weighed out.... The assumption being that if I was late, I'd stopped and pulled out product for my own use and interests.  They knew the weight of what had left Needles, and the weight had better be the same in Santee.
I had to sit in the living room once.  There had been a bad wreck on I-15, so I sat, and sat, and sat, waiting for CHP to open the road.  I burned up my twenty minutes, plus another twenty-five.
 Oh. Fuck.
I backed into the garage, they pulled the door shut, and we pulled out the cans.  They informed me how late I was, and to wait in the living room with "Gary."  Gary and I talked and swapped jokes and laughed,  Gary holding an Army .45 on me the whole time.  The safety was on, resting under his thumb.
Gary asked, "I gotta know.  We pay you okay, right?  Yer gettin' good cash, plus we give you enough dope that you could unload  for some decent cash --- if you were goin' through it, you'd be all kinds of fucked up.  So why you drive that goofy-ass car, anyway?  Why not pick up a good rod?"
I smiled  and said, "Camouflage.  Yeah, it's goofy-looking, and that's the idea.  No cop in the world is gonna look at that car and think, 'he's got twelve pounds of dope in in there.'  Them coke runners from LA  are stupid, driving those eighty grand Mercedes out to Vegas.  Doesn't matter what they drive, they still stick out like a turd in a punch bowl."
In 1987, the world's most boring car... which was how I likedt it.
(Mine was battleship grey; I'd lose it it parking lots.)
Gary nodded.  "You got a point there."  He smiled wider and said, "Shit, you got the right idea!  Ain't nobody will think you're holding in that goofy little thing!"
 " Oh, something else.  It okay if we go to the car real quick?"
That was fine with Gary --- he had the Army .45, after all --- and I popped the hatch.  The odor of brake fluid wafted up.
"I'm gonna guess," I said, "your other drivers had nineteen air fresheners hanging all over the place, trying to cover up the smell of the meth.  That's stupid.  All that does is tell Johnny Law you've got a smell you're trying to cover up.  So, I soaked down the board over the spare tire with brake fluid.... A smell you could expect to find in a car.  They may think I'm a spaz for spilling brake fluid, but it won't raise any suspicions, either.  They just think I'm kind of an idiot for not capping a bottle correctly, but they don't think I'm trying to hid another smell.  See?  There's a helf-empty bottle right there," I said, pointing at a corner of the cargo area.
Gary stared at me blankly for several moments, then smiled.  "Jesus shit," he said, "you thought all this through!  Mind if I show this to the guys?"
I said he was was welcome, and I had another idea, one which would keep me from having a .45 pointed at me nearly as often.  I wanted to share that one with everybody so they'd alll have the idea in their heads.
After about a half hour, two other gentlemen came in and informed us their weight showed my delivery --- twelve pounds --- was a half-gram over, which could be written off as scale imperfection.  (They used very expensive scales, but it's not a perfect universe.)  They handed me my payment, $600 and two ounces of lab-fresh meth, said they'd need a driver in six days, and did I want to do the run.  Sure, I said, why wouldn't I?
I shared an idea with them, as they were all there, and they could share it with their associates in Needles: use candle wax to seal the can lids.  That way there'd be no way of tampering with the cans without it showing.  They'd be secure in their deliveries arriving untouched, and I wouldn't have the time constraint: I could get some lunch if I felt like it, and just use a pay phone to let them know where I was.
They all looked at each other with raised eyebrows.  "Goddamn.  Shit, that makes a lotta fuckin' sense!  Chet, grab an empty can fer a minute."
So I showed them how and where to dribble candle wax, keeping their shipments tamper-free.   They were duly impressed --- "Knew we did the right thing gettin' you as a driver, you can do some thinkin'!" --- and my runs had less stress to them.  And I could hit a drive-through for a burger and shake if I wanted (they expanded my time window to over an hour, "In case you git hungry or you find some pussy hitch-hikin', haw haw!")

I explained all this to Rita as I drove:  given how geeky my car looked, it was the last thing any cop would look at and say, "There goes someone with $100,000 worth of drugs."  And at the same time, it wasn't going to break down and leave me stranded with a shipment tucked away in one hidey-hole or another.
"Look at it this way.  You've had your Toyota break down on you?  You had to bum a ride?"
"Were they driving a scrape [low rider]?"
"Sí, mi hermano.  He's got a '72 Cutlass, cut real nice."
"Yeah, five bucks says he got pulled over in La Costa.  They wasted a half hour of his time before they cut him loose."
Rita spun towards me.  "How'd you know?"
"Pffft, I know fuckin' cops," I said, lighting a cigarette.  "A town like La Costa?  Pardon the language, but in La Costa, they don't see some guy giving his sister a ride to work, they see some fuckin' beaner.... Period.  Probably scouting houses to burglarize.  That is how a cop's brain works.  In La Costa?  Not white?  Then you're up to no good."

We rode in silence for a while, Rita vaguely depressed about the state of race relations in a town with a Spanish name, and within an hour of the Mexican border.  And I couldn't blame her one bit.
To distract her, I brought up her favorite subject.  "So, um, how did it go with the director this afternoon?"
She perked up.  "Oh man.  Before I found him, I took off my bra and unbuttoned my blouse, and tied it, you know, Daisy Duke style.  I found him in the office.
"He was sitting there stabbing at a pad of paper with a pen.  When I walked in, he looks at me and says, 'I'm firing the bitch.  Block my car like that?  She's gone.'  I told him, 'Everybody, they're just worried about you.  They don't want you to smoke, and they don't want you to be unhappy.'  I told him, 'Don't worry about the shoot, they're doing it right now.  Steve, el pequeño, he knows what to do, and él lo está haciendo bien.'"
"That last bit, did that mean 'He's doing good'?"
"Yes.  I'm sorry.  Anyway, he keeps muttering about how if the shoot is bad, he'll wake up with his kneecaps missing, so I walked behind him and began massaging his shoulders, telling him no, no, it's going fine, Steve is a professional.  Then I sort of got in front of him and sat down on his lap, facing him.  He started to say something and I shushed him and kept rubbing his shoulders from the front.  After a couple of minutes I undid my blouse, took his hand, and put it on the left one, and gave him a smile.  He started playing with mis pechos, and finally smiled.  After a few minutes --- I kinda acted it up, pretending his touch was driving me crazy --- I slid off his lap, undid his pants, and, well, went to work on him.  I took a good long time, partially because I wanted him to finish hard, partially so ustedes fueron capaces de trabajar.  Him and the Steve I was with at the restaurant, they both needed the release, desperately.  The director, I try to have him hold off, to give you all more time, but.... Just, no way.  He was trying to hold back too, because he was so happy, but it had been too long."  She giggled.  "After he came, he told me he loved me and wanted to marry me!"
"Did you say yes?"  I asked, only half-kidding.
"I just giggled and gave him a kiss, and told him I'd go get a towel.  He didn't say anything else about it."
"Well, you do have that effect on men, from what I've heard."
She gave me a look of mild surprise.  "I've never sucked you, have I?"
"Uhh, no...."
She smiled and said, "Well.... When we get to mi casa...."
I told her, "Rita, I would love it.  Your reputation precedes you.  You are a goddess among women, with the power to melt men's minds.  But I am fuckin' exhausted, girl.  I'd fall asleep less than halfway through.... If I made it that far.  Besides, a white guy sitting in a car in Logan Heights getting his dick sucked by a hot Mexican chica?  Honey, I'm too young to die.  I've never been to La Paz, I've never taken mescaline, and I've never made love to Lois Ayres.  The first vatos who saw us wouldn't even say anything, they'd just blow me away."
She sighed and said, "You have a point."  She knew I wasn't exaggerating: some white guy playing tonsil-hockey with one of las homegirls would not be tolerated: especially a crazy-looking punk rock white guy.  Obviously she had either been drugged or I had her under the power of a Satanic spell.
"How tired are you?"  Rita asked.
"Pretty damn tired," I replied.  I wasn't lying.... And the idea of doing more speed practically nauseated me.  Not because I'd done huge amounts that day, but the knowledge that doing more would keep me up longer than I wanted to be:  a feeling I rated somewhere between driving with my mother in the car, and masturbating with 40-grit sandpaper.  (Actually, between the two, I'd take the sandpaper: a sheet of 40-grit wouldn't gasp and shriek, "You're going too fast!" if I did 37 in a 35 zone.)
"Then please, use my sofa for the night," Rita said.  "You keep me from getting a DUI, I'll keep you from crashing your car.  Please."
I thought about heading home.  Another twenty-five minutes of driving, my own bed.... All the messages on my answering machine, messages from people who wanted to pick up product, regardless of what time it was....
"I will.  Thank you," I told Rita.  "I do have a couple questions, though."
"Our street is safe, your car will be fine," said Rita.
"No, it's not that.  Um.... You live with your mother, right?"
"Sí, y mi hermano," she replied.
"Umm.... Do they know exactly what it is you do for a living?  Basically, what's our cover story?  Okay, I work with you, but what do we do?"
She giggled again, and blushed a bit under her beautiful cafe au lait skin.  "We do video production.  Weddings, children's recitals, graduations, you know."
"Was today a wedding?"
"Sí, y más grandé.  A big one."
"Okay, that's fine.  I just don't want you telling your mom about the lovely wedding the Johnson's had, and I'm talking about the Goldstein bar mitzvah."
"Oh, yeah, lots of trouble there."

We arrived at her house just shy of 11:00, about three hours later than she usually got home.  Her mother was not upset, exactly, but wanted to know why she was so late and what the hell this.... white.... thing.... was doing on the sofa.  They conducted their discussion in a different room, out of good manners.  My limited Spanish caught that the shoot had run very late, we had all gone out to dinner afterwards, and her car had a dead battery and was sitting in La Costa, waiting for a jump start tomorrow.  The strange pale object?  One of the crew members, who had been kind enough to drive her all the way home, but was exhausted, it would be dangerous for him to continue driving, mama, he will be fast asleep on the sofa within moments.  He is an artist, that's why he looks like that.
I'd have to remember that excuse.
Mama went back to bed.  Rita appeared bearing a blanket and a couple pillows.
"You goddess, you," I said as she set them down on the sofa.
A question had been on my mind for much of the day.  "Rita, tell me.  I know you're not slutty, but you do have a reputation for.... Well, some would say you give the best head on the planet.  No, this is not a request.  I was wondering, after you said the director proposed to you, well..... Do you get a lot of requests like that?  Not marriage per se, but just having dudes get really hung up on you, they decide they're in love.  Does it happen often?"
She sat, frowning and chewing her bottom lip for a short while.  Finally she responded, "Not often, yet far too much.  I don't have many guys get hung up on me, but when they do, mierda!  One guy, he was sending flowers every other day, another was calling a dozen times a day, cursing at mi madre if I wasn't home.  Another one --- I made the mistake of telling him what I did for a living --- sent me an airline ticket and an admission pass to some place in Florida; I looked the place up and it was, like, a swinger's resort.  He included a letter saying he'd been there before and we'd be 'entering the gates of heaven' by going.  No, no, no!  I want men one at a time, sabes?  He sent me their brochure, and it looked like one of our six-on-six shoots, only everyone was kinda pale and flabby.  He thought I'd wanna get it on with a few of these guys at once!  I'm not so slutty!"  She paused, and said, "Okay, maybe I'm a little slutty...."
I asked, "Why do you say that?"
She said, "Well, I do like to chupa la polla.... But you know that."  She frowned and chewed her lip again.  "¿Quién sabe?  I have to date a guy for a while before I'll fuck him, and that's not prudery, it's just a trust thing.  I mean, if I'm at a dance club and I meet a guy, I think he's cute and fun and he seems like a good guy, I have no problem just straight-up saying, 'I like you, can we go to your car so I can suck you off?'  I know, my attitude towards sucking cock is different from everyone else's.  To me, it's just fun, a way of saying 'I like you' or 'You seem stressed, I can help you relax' or 'Here, have a little gift from me.'  Yes, it's sexual, but so what?  Like you and Bekk----"
Her eyes got huge and she clamped both hands over her mouth.
I said with a smile, "Yes?  Me and Bekka.... What?"
Practically cringing like an abused dog, she said, "I, ah, watched you two today.  Both times.  The second time, when you came.... Wow!  I was jealous of Bekka, getting all that cum!
"She's why I haven't tried to talk you into letting me suck you.  I don't know if something romantic will develop between you two, but something's gonna happen, and I don't want to mess it up just 'cos I think you're a good guy, and I feel like sucking you.
"You and Bekka were using sex the way I think it should be used more often: as a source of stress release, and just plain fun between two people who have basic trust in each other.  But.... I just got a vibe, watching you two, that it was more than release, that something real could happen."
"Maybe so but--- look, this is off the record, you can't share this with anyone, okay?"
"Bekka just --- and I mean just --- broke up with her boyfriend.  He turned out to be the sort of jerk that the female performers hate dating, he just hid it for a while, then started trying to work it into their fun time."
"¿Cómo es eso?"
"Like, trying to talk her into doing anal, and giving her a facial without warning.... Basically, trying to get her to act like she's at work, and enjoys every second of it.  C'mon, the performers do what they do because they're getting paid to, not because they like it.  It'd be like some total stranger walking up to you and saying, 'So, I hear you're a fluffer.  Suck my dick.'  You said yourself you've gotta at least like the guy."
"Okay, lo entiendo."
"Okay.  So that first time her and I were fooling around?  And we didn't get to finish?  I asked her if we could finish later, and she got real gun-shy.  So I said, 'Let's wait three days and see how we feel.  If it still sounds like a good idea, let's go for it, and if not, oh well.'  Here's something else you need to keep secret: I've got a crush on Bekka.  Big time.  She said she needed to sort some things out, and I'm hoping she does, because I don't wanna just fuck her, I wanna hold her.  I want to see what it's like to wake up with her in my arms, you know?"
Rita smiled.... Then sniffled.  A tear ran down her cheek.  "Your secret is safe with me," she said.  "Lenny, you're not scary at all.  You are a good, good man.  Any woman would be lucky to have you in her life."
She stretched and yawned.  "We've got work in the morning, like usual.  Ready for sleep?"
"Oh yeah."
"I see you in the morning, good man."  She turned out the lights.

Something sharp poked me in the neck.  Instinct told me: do not swat at it.  Don't even move.
I opened my eyes.  A young guy with greasy hair falling in his face was standing above me holding one hell of a knife.  For lack of a better response, I said, "Good morning."
"Who the fuck are you?" was the reply.  My conclusion was that I was in a different world, where such statements are a perfectly common way of greeting people.
Still remaining stock-still, I calmly told Greasy, "Hello, I'm Lenny.  I will assume you are Rita's brother.  I drove her home last night, and was feeling exhausted, so she kindly offered the couch for the night.  Are we all together on this so far?"
"Yeah, I'm Rita's brother.  I'm Hector," he said, switching the knife to his left hand so we could shake hands.
We shook.  I said, "Again, I'm Lenny.  Um, can I ask a favor?"
"Sure, what's up?"
"Suppose you put the knife away?  We know each other now, you know why I'm here, and I'm unarmed.  I mean no harm to anyone here, Rita is a friend."
He looked down to his left hand and seemed truly surprised to find the large knife in it.  "Oh shit!  Sorry.  It's just.... Logan Heights ain't as bad as people think, but you still gotta kind of watch yourself.  With Rita y mi mama here, I wanted to check you out, sabes qué?  We had people come in before: one guy looking to steal --- see that dent over the light switch?"  He pointed at a caved-in section of wall next to the front door.  "I had to bash him, you know?  Another time, some dude, some crazy, came in and just fell asleep on the floor.  Didn't have to bash him, I just threw him out.  He kept calling for his wife, wanting to know where his wife was.  He was sure this was his house."  He'd returned the knife to the kitchen, and was now in the process of buttoning up a uniform shirt and combing his hair into a standard-issue pompadour.
"What time is it?" I asked.
He glanced at his watch.  "'Bout 5:40.  I gotta get to work."
"Where's work?"
"ROHR down in Chula Vista."  He smiled proudly and said, "I'm union.  Good pay, good benefits.... I can take care of Rita y Mama, you know?  I gotta work hard, but it means something.  Nobody in my family will ever have to pay for groceries with fuckin' food stamps, not as long as I'm alive."  He said this with a tone of conviction, a tone that made me believe him.  He'd spend his days pushing cars up the Laurel Street hill, by hand, before his family would want badly enough to take government assistance.
"Right on," I told him.  "Rita says you have a hell of a car.... A '72 Cutlass, I believe?"
His face brightened like a stage light.  "Oh yeah!  My baby!  Wanna see her?"
I told him I'd be honored; he motioned for me to follow him.  We went outside to a small detached garage next to the house.  He unlocked two padlocks the size of grapefruits, one on each side of the garage door.  He said, "Gimme a hand," gesturing at one side of the door.  We lifted together, and I understood why he asked for help: the door weighed a ton.  By way of explanation, he told me, "I reinforced the door with metal plating.  Nobody's getting in here with their foot or an axe.... Or hell, even another car!" he laughed.  "I'm still trying to get the counter-balance right, so it's not such a bastard to open.  I can get it open by myself, but the help is appreciated.."
He hit a wall switch and we walked in.  The lighting was appropriate for working on cars.... Hell, you could perform dental surgery in there.
I looked around, and was duly impressed.  The floor was swept, all the tools were hanging where they belonged, there was a mid-size compressor against the back wall with various hoses neatly coiled on the wall next to it and heads hung in a row next to them,  a waist-high tool chest sat next to the work bench.  The work bench was the only sign of "clutter:"  bottles of motor oil and oil filters sitting at one end.  Three filters: apparently he planned to spend an upcoming Saturday changing oil on his, Rita's and Mama's cars.  (Mama's car was an old Vista Cruiser station wagon, which, if Hector had anything to do with it, probably made no noise whatsoever when it was running.
And in the center of the garage was Hector's pride and joy, his 1972 Cutlass.  (NOTE: This photo is a street rod version of a '72, one with the 442 motor.  I couldn't  find any pictures of that year Cutlass that were lowriders and hadn't been donked.  This was 1988, donks wouldn't exist for years.... And there are those of us who wish they'd never come into existence at all.)  His choice in vehicles was interesting:  generally, lowriders tended to be vehicles with a degree of comfort pre-built into them.  Large four-door Caprices and LTDs and Buicks.  The Cutlass, especially with the 442 engine (which he had) was designed as a road-rod.  A timed race between Hector's Cutlass and Bekka's Falcon would not be unfair; their design purpose was the same.
The Cutlass crouched on the ground, Hector having dropped the hydraulics after parking it the night before.  Hector smiled, got in, fired up, and feathered the throttle a couple times.  That convinced me I was in the presence of a schizophrenic.  Yes, the Cutlass had the tiny chain steering wheel and loads of fluffy upholstery  and wire spoke wheels and, of course, the hydraulics.... But it put out a roar you'd expect from some redneck street-racer's car.  I took a second glance and realized that while he did have wire spokes, they were also tall, and the tires were meant to handle some serious action.  Too crazy: a lowrider that could haul ass.  I asked him about it.
"I took it for a run out I-8 one time.  Dropped the nose some, raised up the butt, got out past Alpine, and opened up.  Once I hit Imperial County, I really gave it the juice.  It could hold 135 well; above that, the front end wanted to lift, so I'd have to back off."
"Does the modification to the suspension --- you know, for the hydraulics --- does that affect how it handles?"
Hector chuckled, "Not on mine.  I'll never snap my frame hopping, either.  I got double shocks up front, and I welded about five hundred damn pounds of steel support onto the frame.  Check it."
He manipulated a couple switches on the dashboard.  First the rear, then the front end stood up at attention.  He began hitting one of the switches in a rhythm, starting slow at first, then moving quicker.
The front began raising and lowering quickly, gaining momentum, until it began catching air.... First an inch or two, then higher, and higher, and higher.... Until the nose of the Cutlass was jumping a foot and a half off the ground.  Inside, Hector had an expression of pure pleasure on his face.
He brought the car back down to earth a bit slowly, reducing the jumps until he could cut the hydraulics completely.  I stepped up to the window and told him, with all honesty, "That.... Was fuckin' cool!"
"Yeah, a good hop is the bomb," he replied.  He glanced at his watch and said, "Damn, I gotta roll or I'll be late.  Can you do me a favor?"
"Sure, what's up?"
"Just lock up the garage doors after I'm out, okay?"
"Yeah, no problem."  We shook hands, he backed out onto the street, and took off.  He covered the two blocks to the first stop sign in about six seconds, without laying down rubber.  Then he dropped the hydraulics, front and back, to about half-mast, and took off at a smooth, mellow rate.  I struggled the door shut and locked it back up.

After a very satisfying breakfast (I'd had Christmas dinners with less food)  Rita and I started the trek back up to La Costa.  We'd left early and traffic was light, so we were there a good forty minutes early.  My plan was to talk to the director about Steve The No Longer An Asshole before things started happening.  Rita said she had to "get ready," which I didn't understand: what does a fluffer do to prepare for work?  Down breath mints?  Jaw exercises?
Our plans came to a screeching halt when we turned onto the street the mansion was on and saw that Rita's Toyota was missing.
¡Chingada!  ¡Mi coche!" She yelled.  The car had barely stopped and she was out of it, running for the front door and the phone.  She ran into the director, who was confused by her panic: he had no reason to think she hadn't driven home the night before.  She explained to him (twice: once in her excited mixture of English and Spanish, and a second time in a language he understood).  (Most everybody, even Chip and Dale, had enough basic Spanish skills to pick up the gist of what she was saying when she lapsed into her "Spanglish."  It may as well have been Mandarin Chinese, so far as the director was concerned.)
Her natural
assumption was the car had been stolen.  A call to the police changed that: it had been towed away as an abandoned vehicle.  Apparently some asshole dog-fucker piece of shit cocksucking douchebag dickless cunt-sore of a neighbor (was that enough abuse?  I can add more) figured that anything as ugly as her Toyota just Didn't Belong There, and called the police to have them tow it away....
.... Which was completely illegal.  There's a 72 hour window between the call-in and when they can actually pull the car.  La Costa PD came out, hooked up, and took it away.
NEVER fuck with the vehicle of an employee in the
adult entertainment industry, no matter how much
you feel it's depreciating property values just by
it's very presence. (1981 Toyota Tercel)
In one of those times when everyone's loyalty to the director is affirmed, he told Rita, "Don't worry about this, I'll take care of this.  Lenny, I need you to get the names of the chief of police, the mayor, and the city attorney of La Costa.  I'll be on the phone in the office."
I went to the phone in the kitchen, and using a kid's voice, called city hall and told them I was working on a "school project" and needed the names mentioned.  I had them within seconds.
Back in the office, the director was talking to The People In L.A.:".... She's a good employee, and she shouldn't have to put up with shit like this, no matter what her car looks like.  Ah, got 'em now...."  He read off the names I'd collected.  "Okay, great.  I'll bring you a few of those yellow pills [my Ecstasy] next time I'm up.  Call when you know something."
"So, what's the word?" I asked.
"They'll take care of it.  Hey, I haven't put the drugs out for the day, and my ass is dragging.  I don''t suppose you...."
"No sweat," I told him, and went about the business of putting out three lines from my personal stash in my wallet.
"Who's the third one for?" he asked.
"Ah, yes.  God, I wanna marry that girl."
I opted for the safest comment, which was none at all.

Breakfast of really horrible champions.
I crushed, chopped, lined up, and rolled a twenty into a tube.  There's a way of rolling a bill so that it stays rolled: you fold over one corner, then tuck it in the end after you roll it.  For some reason, this absolutely amazes people.  The director wanted to see how it was done, so I unrolled the bill, showed him the fold, re-rolled it, and showed him the tuck.  He felt it was a fantastic idea.... And I suppose it is, you don't have to keep the bill held in a death-grip when passing it around.... But c'mon, it's not like I'd invented penicillin.
The phone rang just as the director was bending over to do his line.  It was The People In L.A.  The director listened briefly, then said, "Under an hour?  That should be okay.  Even if we're filming, our location is far enough away from the door that them ringing the bell shouldn't get picked up by the mikes.  So what was their excuse?"  He listened for a minute.  "Yeah, no shit.  What a tool."  More listening.  "Actually, I could take care of that sort of thing here.  I, uh, know a guy.  Clever, smart, and good at revenge."  More listening.  "Naw, nothing like that, we don't wanna make the news, and it would.  I'll have to ask him.  Okay, thanks again, I'll bring some of those up for you in the next day or so."
The director went to the door and called for Rita.  She came trotting down the hall, the bouncing making us two jaded bastards grow half-smiles and partial wood.
"Your car will be here in under an hour," the director said.  Rita squealed with delight, and launched herself into his arms.  "¡Esto es maravilloso! ¿Cómo lo hiciste?"
"In summary, 'Marvelous, how did you do it?'  Am I close, Rita?"
"Sí, bueno.  So, cómo, cómo?"
The director begged, "Rita, please...!"
"I got a hold of the people in L.A. and explained to them what was going on, that the city had towed an employee's car without cause or even within the allotted time, they told me to wait.  Presumably they called who they know at city hall, got it straightened out, and a tow truck will be bringing your car back in just a little while.  They're even filling the gas tank as an apology."
"Wow, that's great!"  Rita skipped down the hall to wait for the tow truck.
I stared at the director.  "So...."
"Yes, Lenny?"
"A person, or persons, in Los Angeles, has the political pull in La Costa to not only get that vehicle release accomplished, but for free.... And incredibly quickly.... And, out of the goodness of their hearts, are filling Rita's tank for her."
"That's about it, yeah."
"And this political pull is held by a person, or persons, who don't even know the names of the mayor, chief of police, or city attorney.  Doesn't know their names, but can get things done lightning fast, over a relatively trivial matter like a car being towed."
"I'm amazed.  I really am."
"Lenny?  Stick with being amazed.  Don't progress to curiosity."
"I really don't want to know, do I?"
"Not even a little.  Unless you want to work for Inana Productions for the rest of your life, whether you like it or not."
"Tell me.... Is the pay good, at least?"
"Oh, it's fantastic.  So are the perks.  There's about ten restaurants in L.A. I can walk into without a penny in my pocket, eat well, and the untipped staff are delighted to see me.  You wouldn't believe the discount I got on my RX-7; it was a steal.  If I felt like investing in commercial property, there are a few different firms I can visit and talk to, and they'll find me a property that generates incredible return, for the price of a two-bedroom house in Inglewood.  Again, a steal."
I flapped my mouth a couple times, then said, "I'm sorry, there was a bunch of trucks going by, I didn't hear a thing you said since 'It's fantastic.'  Please, don't waste your time repeating yourself, we're just a couple guys talking about how awesome it is to work around naked women all day."
He simultaneously smiled and glared at me.  "You know what, Lenny?  I've got a problem.  I'm so used to being around stupid people, or at best of average intelligence, that I don't know what to do when I come across someone with a few brains rattling around in their head.  I forget they're smart, and I'll talk about whatever comes to mind..... And a smart guy can figure out what I'm talking about.  That's bad.  Or it can be.  I've always figured smart people should be rewarded for their intelligence."
I stared at him briefly, and said, "I don't care what anyone says, Lois Ayres looks hot with that short haircut of hers."
"No more having to drive wind-up toys for cars."
"No, I disagree.  Seka does too many two-on-one scenes.  That gets boring."
"Not being a fucking speed dealer from East County."
"Christy Canyon?  She'll always have a draw.  Even when she's sixty."
The director leaned forward in his chair and started to yell, "Look, I've got----"  And then he stopped.  He sat silent for a full minute; I stared at him blankly the whole time.

He briefly stared at the ceiling, then looked back at me.  "You know what, Lenny?  You are smart.  You're kind of a genius.... And genius shouldn't be interfered with.  By anyone."
I grinned and said,  "I'm sorry, did you say something?  We were talking about Rita getting her car back, and then
I sort of spaced out.  No clue what we've been discussing.  Must be all those drugs I take, they're making me simple....  Not stupid, mind you.  But people can say things to me and what they say simply never absorbs into my brain.  It's like the conversation never happened at all....  You know?"
The director stood up, crossed to me, and clapped a friendly hand on my shoulder.  "I couldn't say.  I know you're damn good with a camera, though.  Speaking of, it's time to get to work.  Grab your cameras and load up, Lenny."  We could hear people rattling around down the hall in the kitchen: the Steves, going over their cameras, like soldiers with their rifles before battle.
"No problem, boss," I replied, and headed for the garage to grab film.


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