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Six weeks later....The Falcon is fired up around one a.m., the whump-whump-whump of the exhaust a telltale heartbeat that a strange beast has come alive. A beast that can be controlled, barely, an animal powerful enough to challenge one's ability to control it at all. Bekka and I are going for a short drive. We may die. That may be part of the reason we do it. We leave her apartment complex in Encinitas and get on I-5 south, starting off mellow, and slowly opening it up until by the time we're around Solana Beach, we're holding 90 mph.
I'm at the wheel. For these runs, I'm always at the wheel. Bekka is a talented driver and could handle the run as well as me.... But her self-confidence is lacking, despite my encouragement. No matter, I've become nearly addicted to these jaunts. The realization one night that I was holding 125 mph on I-805, swerving through traffic like the world's most dangerous and expensive video game, the realization that I had an erection while doing this dance of insanity was proof for me that I was truly a mutant, a creature with mis-assembled parts, a thing that wants to breed with a car, that wants to fuck every stretch of roadway in the state of California.
For Bekka, late-night, high-speed freeway runs with me at the wheel were a thrill for her that was also bordering on sexual.... Booming down I-5 to the I-805 split at 95 or 100, jumping onto the Hwy. 52 connector ramp from 805 at way too high of a speed, hearing the tires howl all the way around the ramp as I steered with the gas pedal as much as the steering wheel, hoping no debris would break my drift and send us spinning into the rail.... And Bekka sitting shotgun with her lips parted and her tongue on her teeth, quietly muttering, "Yessss...." as I did the drift.
Down onto the 52 and I put it wide open, covering the 52's short distance in a blur at 135 mph, simply weaving gently through any other cars out at that hour, being honked at by those incapable of achieving my speed. Damn psycho, they thought. Gonna kill himself in that souped-up old thing. Never a cop around when you need one.
Another drift as we got back on the I-5 northbound, starting the completion of the triangle we'd driven. Mount Soledad a black shadow to our left; I wondered if I knew anyone up there, fucking in the parking lot under the big-ass cross. The City of San Diego had been fighting for years with the ACLU over the city's sponsorship/maintenance over that giant reconstruction of an ancient Roman torture device, the city playing a shell game over whose land it really was and who took care of the park-like area around the cross. To the city, it was an important landmark. To me, it was a place where an untold number of unwanted pregnancies happened, while listening to Def Leppard.
Our own musical selection for these runs was always the same: the song "Ultimate Sacrifice" by the English Dogs. Played over and over again. Bekka liked more mellow stuff, like the Descendants and the Wipers. She had little use for hardcore.... Except for this song, under these circumstances.
Up past UCSD and holding around 120 mph --- I need to back off soon --- I look over at Bekka. Her lips are still parted, and now her teeth are clenched, her eyes too wide.... More than the speed we did up before leaving would cause. Her lips flex open and shut, as if slowly speaking. It could be a prayer or a dare, uttered to no one in the car.
I finally place her expression. She is, in some form, in a state of orgasm.
I back down to median traffic speed approaching Sorrento Valley. I-5 and I-805 merge together here; for about two miles, the freeway is six to ten lanes across. For some reason, this prompts the dumber among us to open it up. The CHP knows this, and will sit at the merge, two to four of them, watching for speeders. It's been like that for as long as I've been licensed, yet drivers still enter the merge at 80 mph and, one mile later, are on the shoulder handing over their license and registration and insurance papers. I always considered anyone getting cited through that stretch a complete halfwit.
I start to to open it back up at the Del Mar/Via de la Valle ramp, watching the on-ramp for doofuses in BMWs and other kraut iron cutting across three lanes because they've decided the cars in front of them aren't moving quick enough. Invariably I hit the horn to wake up some yuppie dog-fucker in an Audi who's trying to take the number two lane from the number five. Bekka has given me permission to tap anyone trying to bully us. I've done it once: dirty little prick in a 5-Series BMW decided he needed to occupy a lane already occupied by a 1964 Falcon moving 95 mph, the scumbag purposely pointed at us. I refused to flinch, and gave him a bump on his left rear fender.
He fishtailed about four times --- more due to his panic than anything else* --- and aimed for the right shoulder. When he saw we weren't stopping (so that he could whine and pule at us while exchanging insurance information), he gassed it to try to catch us. Hit and run! Vehicular damage! Desecration of an overpriced Nazi shitbox! A Del Mar-dwellin' honky got his feewings hurt!
Bekka and I discussed it for about nine seconds and agreed that dusting him off would be the best move, this being several years before the ubiquity of cell phones. He had a fairly powerful kraut box designed to handle the road at high speed, while we had a '64 Falcon hot rod also set up for road handling. He had advanced technology on his side, but we had the advantage of pure brutal American horsepower and a driver who was used to doing this sort of thing, for fun.
He gave it a good try. He managed to hang on, anywhere from two hundred yards to a quarter-mile back: he refused to take the same risks I did while slaloming through traffic. He quit when he realized we'd taken the Oceanside Blvd. exit east, then turned back south on El Camino Real, west on Carlsbad Village Drive back towards I-5.... Hitting triple digits on Oceanside and El Camino, and drifting the Falcon sideways to make all three right turns. He was outranked on the surface streets, either unwilling or incapable of performing the heel-toe throttle and brake controlling necessary to handle the traffic at high speed: dragging the rear tires to avoid collisions, jumping from fourth to second and taking the opposite side of the street for a block or two. He gave up, realizing he couldn't drive like I could: a mixture of skill and suicidal insanity, having enough confidence in my own abilities to pull off those maneuvers.
On Carlsbad Village Drive, I was checking the mirrors constantly, having to back off due to the curves. I took the I-5 South ramp at commuter speed, eyeing the ramp in my mirrors for as long as it stayed in view. Bekka had kept her neck craned behind us since we'd left the freeway, giving me status on his location.
"Any sign?" I asked.
"He's gone. We dusted him," Bekka said. With a smile, she patted the dashboard and said, "Good girl, good girl!"
She slipped one shoulder and arm out of the four-point harness and leaned forward onto the dash, as if napping or trying to hug the car. Her expression was as blank as a broken TV screen. Then she gave me a feral smile and said, "I have lots of adrenaline. Do you need any? I have plenty."
"No thanks, I got a load of my own."
"Right now I don't know whether to scream or come."
"Why not come till you scream?" I suggested.
"But that's your job. Please, roll down your window and cover your right ear," she said.
"Okee-dokey." I did so, and she let out a scream that probably frightened dogs in Riverside; it lasted twenty seconds without her taking a breath.
Actual contact only happened once. All others, and I swear every single one was driving kraut iron, backed off when they realized they were challenging a large chunk of American steel, something that would go straight through them on impact. But Del Mar, being the town that it is, always spawned these sort of challenges to the Falcon.
Bekka, being more familiar with Del Mar than me, had no compunction about waving her .38 out the window at local drivers. I put the nix on that; too many heavy-duty law problems could arise from shooting out tires of people who annoyed you. "Aw, c'mon, these are dumb-fuck yuppie-ass honky assholes. They need guns pointed at them every now and then, so they learn some humility."
"You think having their fenders challenged at 85 mph by a dark blue Falcon doesn't make them soil themselves? Dunno If you've been paying attention, but people dodge this thing like it was a cop car. Gun play would plant us both in jail; someone would get the plate."
*There is a maneuver used by law enforcement and the Secret Service called "Spin And Pin," which involves getting up to a rear corner of a vehicle and simply turning into it. This causes the suspect vehicle to spin out due to lack of traction; the cops or SS follow the spin of the vehicle and pin it against the Jersey barrier. At this point the cops will invariably jump out of their cars and begin firing, even if the pursuit was over a warrant for unpaid parking tickets.... But hey, that's what cops are good for: murdering people and getting away scot-free because they're the ones with badges. Due to my own experiences and observations of police officers, I've reached the age of forty-six and still use the word "pig" as an epithet for law enforcement.
Given the proliferation of vehicles with front wheel drive, I have no idea if the maneuver still works.
Lew asked, "So who's this chick that's taking up all your time these days?"
"She's a friend from my day job," I said, staring intently into the middle distance.
"Dude! Yer in the pants of a porno chick!? Fucking awesome!"
"Look, we're friends, okay? And yeah, we're sleeping with each other off and on, but it's the friendship part that is topping the list, ya get? We get along good, we got trust, and that's a tight commodity in that biz. Like, real trust, you don't gotta think 'cos you know, right?"
Lew shrugged and said, "Prolly just as well, with you having a gee-friend already."
I gave him a glare and asked, "Who's that? Where is she? When I meet her?"
"That hot older chick, the kink babe. Yer bondage slave."
I started laughing. "Oh hell no! She hates relationships! You told her we were dating, she'd throw you through a wall!"
"So what's the problem with her?"
"Well, even ignoring her hatred of romantic relationships, there's the age difference. That, and she got more kink than I do. She likes some heavy-duty shit that I told her I won't fuckin' do. A straight up no. I ain't gonna seriously whip her, and I ain't gonna pretend I hate her when we fuck. You know?"
Lew cocked his eyebrows at me. "Pretending you.... Hate her? That just shot past, man."
I held up my hands in an "I dunno" gesture. "It's verbal --- so far --- but it's still a no-go. I can't fuck somebody while yelling how they're a fucking cunt, only good for getting fucked and sucking cum, worthless slut, and on and on. Me, I fuck people because I like them. I told her I can't and won't cross that line.... I mean, 's one of the basics of kink, setting up boundaries and limits beforehand, so there's no misunderstandings or hurt feelings. She accepted it and said she understood where I was coming from, but I still think she was a bit disappointed. Like the whipping thing: I'll happily spank her with my hand, and I'll use my belt on her to a degree, but I'm not leaving no welts. That's just.... To me? If you need that sorta treatment to get off sexually, it's time to go see a shrink, personally. I didn't tell her that, but still.... Too extreme, no way."
Lew scratched at his neck. "Yeah, that's.... Whoa. No and nyet on that. Dude." He chuckled. "'Member when we were at your place and she was there, and she tied up Tiny?" [Note: "Tiny" is a nickname loaded with irony.]
I laughed. "Hey, he dared her. I didn't expect her to go full domme on him, either. I think she scared the shit outta him!"
Lew frowned and said, "Yeah, 'bout that. She sub or domme?"
"Definitely sub. She can pull off domme because she's had to teach people.... Like me. I wasn't into that at all until I met her."
"Hey, wait a minute, whassa big whoop about your age difference? Yeah, eight years is a gap, but yer just dating...."
"Um.... Try twenty-one years. I'm twenty, she's forty-one."
"Too true, man. Just how it is. And I figure whatever's happened in the longer span of time she's been around than me that made her hate relationships, I ain't fuckin' gonna try to argue about it."
"Damn. Damn and a half. Don't take this wrong, I mean nuttin', but I hope whoever I'm with when I'm that age is even half that hot."
"No hurt taken, chief. Hell, I agree with you."
Lew and I finished our beers at the same time. He got up to replace them and turn the record over. I asked, "Lew, want me to tap another?"
"Yea---- Naw. Naw, I'm good. I got my day job tomorrow, so decent sleep is the smart monkey move."
"Point taken," I said, rolling up my bag of personal and stashing it in my jacket. "Same song here."
Lew handed me my beer as G.B.H's second album began coming out of the speakers. "So, you got two girls you're 'just friends' with, and I seem to remember a third. What about her?"
I covered my face with my hands. "Jumpin' Henry J, I'm just a member of her harem. We can go out and have fun together, but she can't even spell 'monogamy.' Hurts a bit, too fun to quit."
Lew began chuckling again. "Lenny.... You an eighteen carat sap. Three women who want your schwanz: just pussy, no responsibility, no pressure, no commitment...."
I continued for him: ".... No one to hold your hand, no one to wake up next to, no one to hold when you're down.... Get it? I guess Bekka is the closest to that, actually. We are dating, sorta, we don't call it that. She got hurt, bad, a few too many times, so she killroys away from openly stating, 'We're dating.' It's fucked up being a woman in porn trying to have a normal love life. Dudes go ga-ga 'cos wow, they're on a date with a girl who fucks and sucks in front of a camera.... Not thinking about the girls do most of that shit 'cos that's how they butter their bread, not 'cos they get hot and wet from it. You usually date other people in the business, since you don't have to explain a million details.... Like how in their real lives, they want to take it slow and easy when they fuckin', they don't want a third fuckin' person to join in, they may not like it in the ass --- and that's a whole 'nother can of fish --- and no, they really, really don't want a dude firing off a load in their face. I already knew that, so when Bekka and I first started getting together, I was happy to let her be the pace car. She can fuck and have fun for once.
"But anybody watching us? Shit, they'd assume we're a couple. People who are 'just friends' don't hold hands walking down the street. They don't kiss each other 'hello'. And they don't fuck as much as we do, to be blunt. It's like with Bekka, so long as we don't call it dating, or use the words 'boyfriend' and 'girlfriend' to refer to each other, she's safe. She can't get hurt 'cos I'm 'just a friend.' What I'd really like to do?"
"What's that?" Lew asked quietly.
"Somehow.... End her hurt. Cut it off. Not even so I could be all, 'Hah, she's mine now!' or any of that shit. I just know she got hurt, and it never went away, and I wish I could do something about it besides provide orgasms and MDMA and silly jokes." I sighed. "She asked me once if I had a crush on her; I told her up front honest, 'Damn right.' She cracked the ceiling: cussing at me, daring me to hit her, just.... Outta her tree. She figured I'd end up hurting her if we dated, so she had to get the first blow in. I reminded her that i'd have made a move already if it was so important to me, it was obvious she always hurt, and I'd rather keep her as a friend and have my heart broke a little than date her, fuck it up, and break her heart a lot. She cried for half an hour while I held her.
"Then we ate microwave popcorn, drank sodas, and watched pay-per-view porn on the TV. We killed the sound and added our own dialogue. We were in a motel."
Lew held out his bottle. I looked confused.
"Cheers," he finally said, and we clinked bottles.
"What are we toasting?" I asked.
"Whatever woman gets you willingly nailed to the floor with her high heel. She will have drawn a fucking straight flush when it comes to men, 'cos you treat women good without putting up with bullshit. If she don't believe she won, she can come ask me. I seen how you treat women: you don't get walked on, but you're...." He grasped for the word. ".... Gracious. You treat women well without gettin' played for a sucker." Lew stretched. "And on that ding, Imma throw you out. I gotta get sleep."
"Good point. I gotta go play with cameras tomorrow. Thanks for listening to my bullshit."
"Anytime, brah." We shook hands in a rather complicated manner, and I made my exit.
So Bekka and I are in the Safeway in Encinitas doing some grocery shopping. It's a Monday, so my new pager is silent, mercifully. Pagers: the status symbol for dealers in the 1980s, as big of a ball and chain as any cellular device is these days, only smart phones don't require you carry change with you all the time to communicate with whoever's dialed your number. (See, back then, there were these public devices called "pay phones," and--- oh, never mind.)
The pager was Bekka's idea. She hated that I was was losing business because we spent so much time together, and invariably in her neck of the woods. Taking care of business meant driving from Encinitas to El Cajon --- not a short run --- checking messages, weighing up, and waiting for my customers to come by to pick up. Between the gig at Inana Productions and the time I spent with Bekka, I'd lost several customers. I wasn't reliable enough anymore, they said. I couldn't argue with them.
So, I got the pager and created a stash spot in the trunk of the Honda. The stash spot held a small duffel bag with a half pound of speed weighed into quarter and half ounce bags, plus about 120 hits of MDMA, and some small Zip-Locs for the 'E'. I'd get a page, call them back, we'd agree on a place to meet (preferably their home: I practically insisted on it, and not a parking lot of a 7-11), and I'd drive down to take care of business. With the large amount of drugs in the car, my driving improved greatly: no turn or lane-change went un-signaled, I held median traffic speed assiduously, and I was the model of good manners on the road. And I drove a car so dorky no cop on the road would give me a second glance.
The cart is getting loaded. In fact, we may need a second one. Bekka's attitude is that shopping is something to do all at once, stocking up for a month or six weeks at a time. If it's any hint, we have both vehicles here to make sure there's room to carry everything. The back seat of the Honda has two full-size camping coolers in the back, waiting to be filled. It's not that Bekka hates shopping, but it's more of a force of habit. She grew up fairly poor --- a trip to Jack In The Box was a luxury --- and had started helping her mom in the kitchen as soon as she could reach the stove top. When her mom got sick, she took over kitchen duties, otherwise her dad and brother would have lived on frozen pizza and Gatorade. In the last three years of her mom's life, she was either bedridden or in hospice, so Bekka was cooking three meals a day: a full breakfast for Dad and James (no cold cereal served here) and a couple eggs for Mom.
Mom was something of a pioneer for medical marijuana: smoking up killed nausea and increased appetite. They tried it, successfully, to get her mom to eat. Then they tried it for a chemo session: four or five good puffs before leaving the house, then a few more puffs right in the parking lot of the hospital afterwards. Bekka stood outside the car smoking a cigarette while Mom smoked her bowl. When Bekka got back in, her mom turned to her and said, "You know, I'm feeling a bit hungry. Do we have the money to get something to eat somewhere? Someplace that has good milkshakes?"
Bekka looked at her brother (who was in the back seat), then at Mom, and brother and sister burst into tears and tried to hug their mom at the same time. They were used to having to stop every three minutes on the way home so Mom could throw up.... And now, Mom has just had her chemotherapy treatment and wants lunch. Bekka told me at one point that was the moment she returned to faith and began to pray again: the Lord had provided a plant, a lousy, funny-smelling, unattractive plant, that was capable of making her mother feel well
"We can go anywhere you like, Mom. You want to go to Bob's Big Boy?" Bekka offered, wiping away tears.
"Oh! That sounds wonderful, dear! But can we afford it?"
"Of course, Mama. You know I have that sales job now, and I'm doing great at it." She shot a stabbing look at her brother, a "Don't you say a fuckin' word" look. Mama didn't know how her daughter was really making a living.
So they went to Bob's, where Mama had her milkshake.... Along with a cheeseburger, fries, and a small side salad. And then wanted to stop for a couple Heath bars for later, dessert for dinner (after firing the bowl again). Seeing her mother eat with gusto was so touching, for both siblings, they each went to hide in the bathroom to cry. James had a dude ask him if everything was okay, and his response confused the dude: "My mother's eating (*sniffle*)!"
She had outed herself as to how she was making so much bank to her brother first, then her father. James had been pretty mellow about it; his only concern/objection was that she not get hurt: "Anybody gives you shit, anybody threatens you, tries to push you into doing something you don't want, Beks, you better tell me. I will ruin their day." She took James to watch a shoot (that she would NOT be in) so that he would relax, and not be subconsciously planning the shotgun murders of her co-workers. He met the director and crew and performers, and came away with a much better attitude about her work. These were not evil monsters, drugging helpless women into performing horrible sex acts involving multiple men and several iguanas, but just.... People. Perfectly nice folks involved in one of the more bizarre facets of the entertainment industry. Being twenty, he had the expected response from shaking hands and talking to so many naked women --- they hadn't even started the actual shoot yet --- so he spent quite a bit of time with his hands over his crotch until one of the girls told him, "I'm an egotist, so please say that's because of me," while pointing downwards. James turned bright red; Bekka said, "Denise, stop embarrassing my brother!" Denise replied, "I'm trying to put him at ease! It's a porn shoot, I'd fuckin' well hope we're arousing spectators!"
"So you're Bekka's little brother," said Denise. "Come to see the den of iniquity which she's been drawn into?"
"Yeah, well, I just wanna make sure she's safe here, you know?" responded James.
"Safe as milk, dear, safe as houses," Denise replied. Denise was British as baked beans on toast for breakfast.
She took James by the hand and said, "Come along, I'll introduce you around," and had him meet the director, the camera guys, the then-still photographer, and various performers, all of whom greeted him with a smile and a handshake, speaking the praises, in a prudent way, of his sister. (James worked construction, it showed in his physique, and greeting someone with a comment like, "Damn, your sister could suck the chrome off a bumper!" would be just a bit unhealthy. As in, eight weeks of eating all meals through a straw unhealthy.) Shooting started and James and Bekka sat on the sidelines, as it were, watching the action. During the cuts Bekka would explain the mechanics of what they just watched.
She also had to explain a running joke. At cuts, sometimes, usually a male performer would yell, "Turn it off, turn it off!" to the amusement of others. Bekka explained it was a line from the George C. Scott movie Hardcore, about a man searching for his missing daughter in the porn industry. The movie reflects the adult film industry in the '80s as well as the "It's A Small World" ride at Disneyland reflects the mechanics of the United Nations.
They stayed through lunch, with both Denise and Bekka explaining the business and psychological ends of things to James. As Bekka drove James home, she asked, "So, sick of watching people get naked and fuck yet?"
James replied, "You know, it's weird. Bein' around all those hot naked women, well...."
"Got you going?"
"Yeah.... But that's the weird part. Only for a while. Then it was just, 'Oh, a good-looking woman is talking to me, that's nice,' even after watching them having sex. I actually felt kinda embarrassed because I did have clothes on, like I didn't fit in."
"I can see that. Auditioning is hardest. It's just you, a performer, and the crew and director. And you gotta do it stone sober. I won't lie, there's drugs around, but when you audition, you can't partake. They want to see if you can perform stone cold sober. If you can't, they pay you for the day and wish you good luck.
"Shit, they've had all sorts of crap happen with girls, and guys, auditioning. A few girls showed up tanked, totally drunk.... And they'd driven themselves! Girls saying, 'Yeah, just a minute' while they finish their joint in the driveway. The worst was some chick disappearing into the bathroom right before the start. Three minutes later they hear a 'clunk', so they pick the lock and see what the problem is. She'd shot up 'H' and hit too big, and passed out, the clunk being her head hitting the cabinets across from the toilet she was sitting on."
"So how did you do?" asked James.
"Just fine." Several moments passed. Bekka asked, "Is that really information you want from your sister, Jimmy?"
"Oh. Yeah. Never mind."
They rode in silence for a while. James suddenly asked, "That girl Denise, um, does she have a boyfriend?"
Bekka nearly wrecked the car, she was laughing so hard. "I don't know, I haven't checked this week!" Her laughing continued. "Yes, wasn't she nice to you, so friendly and attentive? I probably shouldn't tell you this, but I kept you from getting laid at the lunch break. Sorry, but it was necessary."
"What the fuck, sis! I'm twenty now, I don't need you watching my back!"
"I know that, and I normally don't. If you two had met at a party and I was there, I'd have been thinking, 'Fuck her cross-eyed, little bro! Go for it!' But we're on a shoot. You're not on our blood test roster. You would have been caught with her --- it always happens --- and the afternoon shoot would have been blown. Because of Denise's lack of self-control, everyone would have lost a half a day's pay, because anyone scripted to interact with Denise could not and would not. We all get weekly blood tests. No test, no work. Do I need to list the reasons why we have the blood tests, or are you smart enough to figure that out on your own? You could be pure as the driven snow, but if you're not on our test roster, you are considered a risk not worth taking.
"And in case you're wondering, no, you and Denise using a condom wouldn't have counted. Condoms leak and spill and rip. Still too much risk. Anyone dating a performer is strongly pressured to also get a blood test: hell, the studio will pay for it, get them on the roster, we just want all performers to be healthy. It would put a real dent in business if the local news stations were broadcasting, 'Local pornographic film producers Inana Productions had a setback this week, as three of their cast tested positive for HIV....' Shit, people would be afraid to touch the video boxes."
Bekka put a hand on James' shoulder. "Look, little bro, you're a good guy, and you're a gentleman. I could auction you off among the female performers, and make a ton of money, even with the age difference between you and some of them.... Like Denise, she's twenty-nine. It's not like I'm discouraging you from ever dating anyone in the adult film industry, it's just.... It won't be what you think. Almost all those girls would rather be snuggled than fucked when they get off work." Bekka sighed. "Look, I'll ask Denise if she's genuinely interested in you, or if she just wanted a lunchtime bang. If she really likes you, and doesn't have a problem with your age, and doesn't mind you're the brother of a fellow performer, then I'll set up an appointment for a blood test and exchange phone numbers for you two. Kosher?"
"Kosher. Thanks, sis."
"No problem. And I know how to ruin sex with her for you, too."
"The whole time you're fucking her, you'll be thinking, 'My sister arranged this for me.'"
"Bekka! God dammit!"
(Note: The real-life "Denise" did date the younger brother of a fellow performer, for about six weeks. Then she promptly cheated on him. This was viewed as an unforgivable offense: given the tight-knit atmosphere at "Inana Productions," such a betrayal couldn't be ignored. The hostility towards "Denise" was palpable: if she walked into a room, everyone stopped talking and glared at her until she left. Ads for Pacer's and Dirty Dan's kept showing up in her small locker. She finally took the hint and went to work at a strip club.)
Dad's conversation was less fun, as one might guess. Imagine a twenty-two year old girl telling her father, "Um, Daddy? That high-paying sales job I said I got, the one that's been paying for Mama's medication and hospital trips? I lied, I'm having fairly wild sex with both men and women in front of cameras. I perform in porn videos, and I'm good at it. That's how I can afford my nice apartment and new car and the medication. I'm guessing you probably don't want to see one of the video tapes."
Bekka and James double-teamed their father, Bekka breaking the news to him, James explaining he'd met the people she worked with and they were salt of the earth, genuinely decent people, there was nothing to fear, Bekka telling Papa that yes, this was an unusual career choice (and one she'd dropped out of college to take, besides taking care of Mama), also explaining it was a job which was paying very well and allowed her to help with their mother, James telling Papa he'd met her boss and he was a good man.... And that should anything happen to make Bekka unhappy, he (James) would make sure the boss was even unhappier (the phrases "paid-up health insurance" and "never eating solid food again" coming into play). Bekka told him the studio was very health-conscious, and to please not think of it as your little girl having sex with strangers for money --- she knew everyone, after all --- but as a job in a strange niche of the entertainment industry, in which his adult daughter performed. And ultimately, this was about Taking Care Of Mama. Even with the health insurance, leukemia is an expensive disease to have. By working in the "adult film industry" (Bekka and James had assiduously avoided the word "porn") Bekka would have the time to take care of Mama, and have the money for pricey medications and procedures.
Papa.... Did not hit the roof.
Papa sat with his hands clasped behind his neck, in total silence, for a minute or so.
He then asked Bekka for a cigarette. "But Papa, you haven't smoked since----- "
"But I would like to take a walk, and having a cigarette while I walk seems like the thing to do," he replied. "In fact, I'd like two cigarettes. Please."
"No problem, Papa," said Bekka, and retrieved them from her purse. They were Benson & Hedges Deluxe Lights, so he at least wouldn't get sick from them.
James asked, "Where are you going, Dad?"
"Just around the block." Bekka and James looked at each other. "Around the block" would take about twenty-five minutes.
Bekka intercepted him at the door. "Papa, please remember. I'm always going to be your little girl, and I love you. Okay?"
"I love you too, Beks. And you are my little girl. That's why this is......" He shook his head and went out the door.
Papa returned an hour later. He explained he'd done two trips around the block, and talked to a couple neighbors about how Mama was doing. He hadn't discussed his daughter's new career in show business.
There was ringing silence in the house; Mama was asleep. Sleeping was one of her favorite activities recently, which the doctors said was fine: it meant she wasn't in pain and able to relax.
Papa hung up his hat and sat in his chair in the living room, staring at a TV that wasn't on.
Bekka came in and knelt by the side of his chair.
"Papa, please don't hate me. Please don't think less of me. Really, I'm doing a natural activity and getting paid well, so I can help with Mama and you. Please don't think about it.... I just have an unusual job. I can't rationalize or intellectualize what I do. All I can say is that as a practical matter, I couldn't be doing better. You and Mama raised James and me, now I can help you two."
Without moving his head, Papa asked, "Do you enjoy the work?"
There was a long pause. Bekka finally said, "Yes. But not for the reasons people may think. That part is actually kind of boring."
"So what is there to enjoy?"
"It's like.... A very relaxed, lighthearted environment. The people I work with are good people, the types who stop on the side of the freeway when they see someone with a flat tire. My boss is a kind, gentle man who treats us all with respect. We laugh a lot, we make jokes, we go out for dinner together. So yes, I do enjoy working there."
Papa finally turned to look at his daughter. "I guess that's all I can ask for, really. I know why you're doing this; I see it as an act of love and sacrifice. And if anything, I love you more for it. I may find what you're doing frightening and wrong, but you are sacrificing yourself for the health of your mother. There is no fault or dishonor in that."
Bekka asked, "Why do you find it frightening?"
Papa said, "You're in a scary, dangerous industry. Back a few years there was a movie called 'Hardcore' with Geo---- "
Bekka started laughing, she couldn't help herself. "Oh yes! I know the movie, Papa, I've seen it! 'Hardcore' is a running joke where I work!"
Papa frowned. "Why is it a joke?"
"Because it has no basis in reality. Yes, things were.... sleazier back in the 1970s, but still, that movie was.... Okay, seeing 'Hardcore' and thinking you understand the adult film industry would be like watching 'Star Wars' and assuming you now understand the Space Shuttle program. There is no commonality, at all. I mean, James kind of threatened the director when he met him, saying that nothing should ever make me unhappy. In 'Hardcore', James would have been dragged into an alley and shot. My director shook James' hand and told him not to worry, happy performers are good performers, and if I had anything I wanted to discuss I knew he would listen. And that's true, Papa. My director really is a decent guy, everybody gets along with him."
Papa gave his daughter a blankly wounded stare. "Would your mother get along with him?"
Bekka glared back and said, "Yes. She would. She would not know what his job is, but yes."
Papa rubbed his temples and said, "How do we tell this to your mother?"
"We don't. James and I have already talked about it, and there's no reason for Mama to not think I'm in sales. We'd very much prefer it to stay like that. A choice between fibbing to Mama and breaking her heart? No contest, Papa. I'm in sales. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. Please, Papa: I beg you to do the same."
He shook his head. "It would hurt your mother, wondering where she'd gone wrong, why you'd do this to yourself, how you could---- "
Bekka stood up in front of her father, a firestorm ready to crash to earth. "Do not start. Just.... Don't. Don't second-guess what Mama might think, and don't you fucking dare project your own thoughts and misgivings on her, do you understand? You're going to hate hearing this, Papa: if I can make money with my body, enough money to live comfortably, but more importantly make sure you and Mama are comfortable, and hopefully help Mama survive through her disease, then I'm goddamn well gonna do it. I don't feel the slightest bit of guilt or moral conflict doing what I do, and I will not be judged morally by anyone who doesn't answer to the name Christ the Savior.... And even then I want Him to show me some fuckin' I.D. before I trust Him. If you want to judge me, Papa, well, the Kendalls across the street have a swimming pool. Let's see you take a walk."
"You will not speak to me like that, young lady!"
"Papa, it's too late, I already did. Are my cigarettes still in my purse?"
"Yes...." he fumed.
"Thank you. I'll need those and some tissue, as I plan on getting some Olympic-level crying done while I walk. And Papa, I love you with all my heart. I'll be back."
Bekka walked through the house, trying to remember where her mother kept the small purse-size packets of tissue. As she did, she heard her mother's voice calling to her.
"Are you okay, Mama?" she asked, hurrying to her parents' room.
"Are you fighting with your father?"
Bekka smiled and said, "We were just pretending. We were reliving when I was fifteen."
Her mother chuckled and said, "Oh, don't remind me...."
"Can I get anything for you?"
"Actually, my stomach is very upset [Translation: I think I'm gonna puke my guts out.], so could you bring me my little pipe?"
"Sure, Mama. How are you fixed on fixin's?"
"A little low, I'm afraid. Could you.... Call your friend...?"
"Not a problem, Mama."
"Thank you, Beks. I don't know what I'd do without you."
"I don't know what I'd do without you, Mama," Bekka said, and bent down to hug her mother. There wasn't much to hug, with the leukemia and chemo both stealing her mother away. Hopefully, her Mama would smoke up a fat bowl and get the munchies for fast food. Bekka would drive to Alabama if her mother wanted her to, to pick up fried chicken from someplace her mother remembered from childhood. Fried chicken, biscuits and gravy, calorie packing foods. Fuck you, California, thought Bekka, my mom needs to gain some damn weight, not get fed a fucking salad.
Bekka looked up and realized she was leaning against the wall of the kitchen, silently crying. She'd learned that skill the first day her mother had been diagnosed.
She went to the living room and got her mom's weed-pipe and Bic lighter.
"I think," I quietly announced, "we've picked up a creeper," I told Bekka.
"Yeah. He's at the other end of every aisle we're on, reading labels, and his cart isn't getting any fuller. Imma try something. Go back a couple aisles and turn up, I'll be at the other end."
Bekka turned the cart around and went back, then turned up. I waited until I couldn't see her, then ran as quietly as possible in engineer boots to the other end of the aisle. I walked in near silence to the aisle where Bekka was....
.... And so was the creeper. With my absence, he was much closer to her now. He was pretending to read a package of light bulbs, his eyes shifting constantly towards Bekka. He never noticed me, until I got right up to him and said, "Hi!".... Then threw my left arm around his neck, grabbing my wrist and applying a lot of pressure. He started struggling so I squeezed more.
I whispered in his ear, "Struggle, and I snap your neck. Yell, and I snap your neck. Now walk." I half-dragged him down the aisle to where Bekka was staring at us.... First in shock, then in annoyance.
"Oh, shit!" she cried. "Lenny, you been picking through dumpsters? Why else would you be carrying garbage like that?
"You know him?" I asked.
"Lenny, meet Melvin the fucking asshole. Melvin the fucking asshole, meet Lenny."
"Martin!" protested the red-faced thing I was holding.
Bekka said, "According to the state of California, you're Melvin. I rarely submit to authorities lower than Christ our Lord, but you're a special case, Melvin. Aren't you happy?"
"Can you please let go of me? I can't breathe well like this," pleaded Melvin/Martin.
"Melvin? Seriously? What, were your parents rabid MAD Magazine fans or something?" I asked, letting him go.
He stood there wheezing, and then quietly said, "Yes. I hate them for it."
"Don't blame ya. I think you can sue for that sort of shit in California."
"Really?" He looked hopeful.
"I think so," I told him. "By the way, stay right there. I think I need to put you back in a headlock, because you've been stalking us and I want to know what the fuck your problem is."
Bekka answered. "Bad pennies and ex-boyfriends, they always turn up again."
"Okay, I know, generally speaking, who he is. Now, what's his problem?" Melvin was trying to back away from us, so I shouldered him into the display of motor oil. He couldn't move without making a load of noise and mess.
"You got the floor, Melvin," said Bekka.
"Look, I saw you shopping, and I wanted to say hi. That's all," he said.
"But you didn't. You went into Creepy Stalker Mode, which set off my Scumbag Antenna, and resulted in you getting dragged down here. How's your throat and neck?" I asked.
"Mmm, I gotta work on my technique more then. I hate sloppy work, especially when it's my own. Perhaps you've provide me with an excuse for more practice," I told Melvin.
"He's kidding, right?" Melvin asked Bekka.
"No clue. He has good self-control, but he's also very protective of me."
Melvin pouted, "Oh, I guess this is your new boyfriend. And hey! I tried to protect you!"
Bekka said, "Oh, we're not dating, not at all. Are we, Lenny?"
"Nope. Just friends." We then spent ten seconds deep-kissing for the benefit of Melvin's confusion and ire. "See?" I said. "Just friends is all we are. Close friends, admittedly, but still...."
"We're just friends who french in the middle of supermarkets," explained Bekka.
"And fuck, quite a bit. Not in supermarkets, though."
"Although I did suck you off in line at Jack In The Box that one time, remember?"
"Oh yes, and there was the time I rubbed one out for you while waiting in line at the bank's drive-up window."
"Basically, Melvin, our friendship does focus quite a bit on inducing orgasm in the other person, and with complete disregard to where we are. I mean, we do other, more normal stuff together, like going out to eat or playing mini golf without it having a competitive edge to it," said Bekka.
I had to ask. "Wait a minute. Who the hell over the age of nine gets competitive while playing mini-fuckin'-golf?"
"Melvin, meet Lenny. Lenny, meet Melvin," sighed Bekka.
I cocked my eyebrows and looked at Melvin. "C'mon, man, this is where you get indignant and say, 'She's full of shit, dude! She's just talkin' trash 'cos we're exes and this is how you talk to exes!' .... Right?"
Melvin examined his shoes.
"Oh shit," I ad-libbed. Dare I even ask about the going-out-to-eat situation that was alluded to?"
"For a thug, you've got quite a vocabulary," said Melvin. Whatever happened in the restaurant must've been bad, since he was trying to distract from it by picking a fight with me. I gave him a big smile and said, "We'll come back to that little jab. So what happened in the restaurant?" I directed this at Bekka.
Bekka rolled her eyes back so far I thought she'd fracture her skull. "People expect passable service at a Denny's. At nicer places, people expect good service. At four star restaurants, people expect excellent service. Captain Entitlement expected a nice place to chew up his food for him, regurgitate in into his mouth like a bird. And there wasn't enough ice in his water. Then there was too much ice in his water. Then he accused them of using canned green beans. Loudly. And to top it off, he accused them of overcharging us. He made the waiter and the manager get a menu so the three of them could itemize the fucking bill. When we left, you could hear the staff applauding inside."
"That place has always had it in for me!" Melvin loudly protested.
"That place has always had it in for me!" Melvin loudly protested.
"Always?" I asked. "So why do you keep going back?"
Bekka answered, "He can't.... And neither can I! He got us both blackballed 'cos of his attitude."
"Jesus, Bekka, " I said. "No wonder you've stopped dating men."
Melvin went into Righteous Indignation Mode on us. "Oh yeah? So you two aren't dating, huh?"
"Not at all."
"We just hang around a lot."
"And get high on MDMA and go for walks on the beach, holding hands."
"Oh, and we do fuck a lot. Quite a bit, really."
"I get off on it when he comes on my face."
"She loves it when I make her come with my mouth."
"But no, we aren't dating. I'm avoiding the dating scene. Me and Lenny are just friends. That's all."
"Yeah, we just like to hang out together, party, whatever. I mean, we're grocery shopping, would you call this a date?" I reached down and grabbed Bekka by the head, and aimed my tongue down her throat. She responded in kind, while also wrapping one leg around mine and grinding her pubic bone against the leg. When we broke apart I wiped my mouth and said, "No, we aren't dating, because we said so. Bekka is gun-shy of dating --- and I see why --- and I value our friendship too much to push the issue. Why ruin the friendship because I want something she doesn't?"
Melvin was steaming. I think it was the bit about coming on her face.... Which she did like, in the right mood and on her own terms. If she asked me to, I would, but I never brought it up myself: it was never that big a deal to me (after seeing three or four thousand facials, the jolly you got from them goes away, and you plant in your own mind: "Isn't that just kinda weird?") so if she wanted that to happen, hey, glad to oblige, but it never had any real thrill for me.
For a lot of men, though, coming on a girl's face is almost an obsession. They would skip all other aspects of sex: no foreplay, no making out no oral, no intercourse.... Just jacking it and then shooting a load on the girl's face, unaided. It's all they really cared about. I used to blame contemporary porn, until I saw some of the old Tijuana Bibles (pornographic eight-page comics) and sure as shit they had girls taking a load back then in the 1930s. I'd love to see some pornography from back then, to see if it shows up there, too.
But with Melvin, it came down to that fact that I got to and apparently he didn't. My guess was that he pestered her about it, which with Bekka would have the opposite effect. That was probably when he began to actively hate me.... A circumstance I could do nothing about, and didn't care about, either.
His anger and hatred for me, naturally, manifested itself in him lashing out at Bekka. That was really dumb on his part. I'd mentioned in an earlier chapter Tawny's ability to hit people with razor-sharp, poison-coated verbal barbs. Bekka was no slouch herself, and although her and I were Just Friends, I was rather protective of her, and would protect her two-fold: I could sling my own barbs, and while Melvin was lighter than me, he was close enough to my size I'd have no regrets about throwing him through a display of Hormel products, picking him up, and doing the same to a giant pyramid of Dennison's chili.
"So what's the appeal with this guy, Bekka?" he sneered. "I never thought you went for goons."
"Oh, that's me, a-yup. I'm also a criminal, a drug-dealing thug from East County. But what's the difference. It's not like we're dating or anything."
Bekka said, "Well, when he's not beating people up for his own amusement, he does have a soft side, so that's one aspect. His hard side is also nice: he's got a cock like a wiffle ball bat. And he can keep it hard for hours."
"Yeah, that's it. She's only using me for my body. All the friendship stuff? That's just to keep me distracted. Really, all she needs is a few bright shiny objects, but she hasn't figured that out yet. I broke her TV once because she put on a cassette of her own porn, I got confused, and tried to fuck the TV. Took hours getting the glass shards out of my dick. Almost lost my hard-on, too."
Melvin continued, "Oh, I can see you using guys for their bodies and nothing else. Why shouldn't I think this guy is just a simpleton with a big dick? That's all that's important to you, right?"
Bekka smiled and said, "A big dick being all that's important to me? You can't say that. After all, we dated for three months. But maybe it was just pity."
"Maybe it was just comedy," I suggested.
"Maybe it was my own insecurity, Melvin. Would it make you happy to hear that? I met an intelligent guy who wasn't in the industry, and initially seemed fun to be around? I was lonely and, dare I say, desperate enough to accept your overtures?"
"I've been a terrible influence on her, Mel." ("Do NOT call me Mel!" was interjected.) "Because of me, she takes drugs for fun --- "
"Instead of strictly for business purposes, like before."
" --- has found that sexual impulsiveness can be a blast, she swears more, she speaks her mind, and she know's it's okay to look out for number one, you know? She doesn't need to take care of little lost puppies with dumb names and entitlement issues. Shit Mel, you're a bigger thug than me: I've never been thrown out of a restaurant in my life."
"You know, I've had it with you!" Melvin yelled. "I want to have a conversation with a woman I used to love --- " This prompted hoots of laughter from Bekka " --- and all you do is interject your bullshit. Why don't you shut up and leave us alone?"
"First of all, Mel, you haven't talked. All you've done is bitch. Second, I speak when I please. And lastly.... Bekka, you want to be left alone with this guy?"
"Shit no. I want you right here, Lenny. I don't trust his stability."
I told Melvin, "What it comes down to is, if you don't act like a creep, I won't feel the need to talk, I'll just stand here. I give it thirty seconds."
Melvin gave me what he hoped was a withering glare, then boldly strode forward. Or drunkenly sloshed through mud, take your pick.
"Umm.... Where to start. Bekka, I'm really glad I happened to run into you here tonight" (Bekka stifled a snicker) "and, well, I'm gonna come out and say it: I still have feelings for you, very deep feelings. I know you like your work, but I also think you can do better, you don't have to degrade yourself to earn a living, engaging in humiliating sex acts just to pay rent. You could get a regular job, we could live together, you wouldn't find yourself hanging around goons and criminals and calling them friends, and you could be happy again. We could leave here, right now, and you could start a whole new life. We should start this now, so let's go."
Bekka stared at him straight-faced. Then like a glacier coming apart in slow motion, her face began to disintegrate.... First a smirk, then a smile, then a chuckle, and culminating in Bekka loudly cackling with laughter, holding her stomach, bent at the waist over what was the best comedy routine she'd heard in years. For his part Melvin smiled weakly, as if waiting for her to say, "Okay, got that out of my system, let's go." With the weak smile still on his face, Melvin said, "So.... Is that a positive laugh?" Bekka laughed even harder at that.
She finally caught her breath, wiped her eyes, looked at Melvin, and said, "Melvin, you are the fucking king of all dipshits! I'm gonna take your bullshit in order, okay?
"First of all, you didn't bump into me, Lenny dragged you down here because he thought you were a creeper. You could have walked up at any point like a normal fuckin' person and said hi, but no! You were waiting for Lenny to go away for whatever reason. And that, my pally pal pal, is goddamn creepy.
"Next. You didn't get it before, you still don't. I like doing porn. I'm not being humiliated, no one's abusing me, and I make a shit-ton more money than you do. 'S'matter, short on rent this month and thought I'd make a good roomie? Yeah, I'd be an ATM with a pussy, just like last time!"
"I can loan him some cash, if you say he's good for it," I said, pulling the nine grand or so out of my jacket I'd grossed on Friday and Saturday. Even in hundreds, it's still a big wad. Melvin stared bug-eyed at the wad, then at me.
"What? I told you I was a criminal."
Bekka told me, "Put it away. Melvin here will go to his grave three dollars short.
"Anyway, no fucking way am I giving up my career because you don't like it and you think you love me. Anybody that loved me would know that performing in porn is part of who I am, you fuckhead! By the way, besides being a criminal, Lenny here is also our still photographer. He's shined more light up my pussy than my gynecologist. If you want, he can get you some stills to beat off to.
"Speaking of Lenny, consider yourself lucky. He's an ex-bouncer with a speed habit and a short temper. Being dragged down the aisle by your head is him playing gentle. And you're still so stupid as to insult him to his face. I mean, this is the sort of thinking that made me leave you to begin with: you're so unbelievably arrogant you think nothing will ever hurt you, even when it's right next to you." She looked pointedly at me, and I winked at him.
"So after insulting me, my career, and my friends, I'm supposed to leave my nice apartment, the one with the pool and spa and gated parking and gym room, and move into that two room box on the beach? Tell me, what color is the sky on your planet?"
Melvin's face collapsed briefly: I believe he honestly thought his little speech would work. Then he turned to anger, and turned to me.
"Are you proud of yourself!?" he yelled at me. "She didn't used to be like this!"
Bekka scoffed. "When we got together, I was mourning the death of my mother. Funny thing, losing someone you love doesn't make you the most outgoing person in the world. It makes you feel lonely, and alone. You showed interest in me, you pretended to not be bugged by my career, and you pretended you cared about me. Not my money, not my drugs --- "
"Welcome to my world," I muttered.
" --- but in Bekka, the girl who sucks and fucks in front of cameras and likes it, and aches from the loss of her mother. Asshole, you had me fooled!"
"You're fooling yourself! You're around scumbags like this, and you think you're tough, that you can make your dirty movies and they won't hurt you! You're probably on drugs, right now!
Bekka said, "Yep, sure am, sunshine. So what drugs do you want me to be on? I'll pretend for your sake, so you can carry around your self-righteous hard-on for the rest of the night. Go on, name one."
Melvin said, "Heroin."
"Nope. Try again."
"We have a winner! We did a line before leaving the house! Funny, I remember you having a taste for the stuff yourself."
"I gave up that garbage."
"Oh! You don't use it anymore, so now it's garbage! Interesting rationale. Anyway, go on, guess another drug."
"Hey, you're batting .500, not bad. Although I took two puffs, and Lenny didn't take any. He almost never smokes. Anyway, guess another drug."
"You're doing good! Although none tonight. We stayed pretty high most of the weekend, though, eating hit after hit after hit...."
Melvin turned on me again. "So is this how you get all your women? Get them high as shit and convince them you're awesome, that they can't do any better?"
I told him, "No, it's way more complicated than that. I start off by supplying speed and MDMA to small porn studios, and after about five months I use my psychic mojo powers to get their still photographer to quit, leaving them in the lurch. The studio takes me on even though I have no professional experience as a photographer, but they like my work well enough to hire me permanently. Over five months or so a performer I have a passing acquaintance with, one who uses the drugs I'm still supplying, her and I slowly become friends. We hang around more, our friendship grows.
"Eventually a mutual sexual attraction manifests itself, and right on the patio of the place we work, during a shoot. After discussing our respective issues, we end up spending the weekend in the Days Inn right here in town. I manage to hurt her terribly, and vice versa, but our friendship is strong enough to survive it, and actually makes it stronger, and we understand each other better. We agree to avoid any romantic pitfalls, but have as much fun together as we possibly can.
"You have to admit, not only is it a horribly convoluted scheme, but as a destroyer of lives, I really suck at it. I'd be better off holing up in Tijuana hotels with a few hookers and a load of MDMA, just go straight for the serious decadence. Hell, ya busy this week? You can help."
Melvin sputtered. Just plain sputtered. Then he finally spat out "FUCK YOU!" at me and literally ran out of the store, abandoning his cart.
Bekka and I watched him sprint away. Through the glass, we could just barely make him out getting into a beat down old SAAB. Then he was gone.
Bekka held my hand, and said, "Lenny? Please sit down with me."
"What, here on the floor?"
"Ah, what the hell."
Other shoppers and even employees went past, all of them ignoring us. The tile was hard and cold on my ass. It made me realize I don't have much shit to complain about.
"Lenny, let's go for a run tonight."
"One of our fast runs?"
"One of the incredibly dangerous high-speed runs where we nearly tangle with another car at 130 mph every time we do it, not to mention drifting ramps an double the posted limit?"
"Yeah. One of the runs where we could die."
I thought about it for a minute and said, "Yeah, okay.