Our plan was that we didn't have a plan. We decided to jump over to Hwy. 1 at Santa Monica and follow the coast route until we got sick of ocean, then cut back to the 101.... Then back to the 1 again, and so on. We'd have no itinerary, simply stopping anywhere that seemed interesting and exploring until we were bored. If we were only making fifty miles a day, so be it.
The two days before we left my place was everything I didn't want it to be: a drug house. All my clients were doing their damndest to stock up as best they could, so I had people in and out constantly, picking up the largest quantities they could possibly afford, of both meth and MDMA. Some of them still bitched about my lack of availability for a whole two weeks: these tended to be my lower-quantity purchasers, who simply didn't have the cash to load up. Some of them were faced with the ugly specter of having to (*gasp*) work in my absence.
As it was, I had to re-up twice to keep up with demand, running out to a semi-remote address and pick up first a half-pound, then a full pound, not to mention 700 or so tablets of Ecstasy. If I'd been pulled over, I doubt they'd have bothered with a trial, simply chucking me straight in Folsom. There was no excuse for the amount of dope I had with me.
The people who were in favor of me taking a vacation were, surprisingly, my connections. They were fans of the products of the Harley Davidson Corporation, if you catch my drift, and big fans of hitting the road for the hell of it. They considered me "one smart son of a bitch," one not given to rash decisions, and told me, "Go out and have some fuckin' fun fer a while. You gotta have some greenbacks saved up, so you and that chick you're always hanging around with should go get some kicks on the highway." My second trip out I drove Bekka's car, to their joy and amazement. "Ya finally got some decent wheels, man! Right on!"
I broke the bad news that it was Bekka's, not mine, and they didn't know whether to be amused or depressed. "Yer broad got better wheels than you? C'mon, man...." I reminded them of my strategy of having a camouflaged vehicle --- no cop would look at my ten year old Honda and think, "There's a car with tens of thousands worth of drugs in it" --- and they grudgingly saw my point.
Bekka, meanwhile, was taking care of business at my place, exchanging money for large bags of pre-weighed and -counted stimulants. Of the seven guys she had to deal with, three tried to hustle her, much to her amusement. She reminded them that this was strictly business ("I don't know what happens when a person takes fourteen hits of Ecstasy in a day, but I could have found out," she told me later) and if they were so fucking interested, they could either leave their phone numbers with me, or buy one of her video tapes.
"Your.... Video tapes?"
"Yes, didn't Lenny tell you? I'm a performer in porn."
"Uhh.... No, he never said anything...." (And now the guys were unsure if they should be impressed or frightened.
"Yeah, I have sex anywhere between twelve and thirty times in a week at work. So ask yourself this: honestly, do you think you could impress me?"
"Hey! I.... Well...."
"You've got a couple weeks to mull it over, while Lenny and I are on our vacation."
"Wait, you're going on Lenny's vacation with him!?"
"Yes. Lenny impresses me." (She didn't say how I impressed her: I made her laugh, I was gentle, I followed instructions well....)
"Oh. Well.... You guys have a good time."
"Every intention of it, stud. We're gonna have a wonderful time." (It was true, we were both looking forward to visiting Hearst Castle, and body-surfing at Pismo Beach.)
Bekka's dad had never met me, and as I was spiriting away his twenty-six year old little girl, he wanted to. I was nervous, she was embarrassed. Adding to the tension was that I would be the first employee of Inana Productions he'd ever met, and his opinion of the company , despite years of soothing words on the part of both Bekka and her brother, was not high. This was a job for The Director, dammit, not the resident criminal. Even Rita the fluffer would make a better impression, she could blow him into submission.
My fault, really. I'd told her to keep an open line of communication with her father, no matter what. Bekka's Papa was not a fan of her career --- big surprise --- and there had been tension between them since her mother had died. Her father was under the impression that porn was something Bekka was doing to help pay for her Mama's medical expenses, and would be dropped when Mama got better.... Only Mama didn't get better. Papa would swing between "It's just a job" and "My daughter is a whore." She'd never know which opinion would greet her when she went to her father's house. I did know the odds were very high of him seeing me as one of the people responsible for exploiting his daughter, even if I was six years younger than Bekka.
I had already closed up my apartment (and hidden what drugs we weren't bringing with us); the general plan was to visit with her father, spend the night at her place, have lunch with Small Steve the next day, then drift northward on the 5/405 to Santa Monica, then cut over to Hwy. 1. Probably get as far as Ventura and get a room for the night there. After that, well, we weren't equipped for camping, so we'd probably hit motels as we came to them in the afternoon or early evening. Really, we were going to follow the muse, and cover as little or as much distance as we felt like. We'd decided Point Reyes, north of San Francisco, would be our destination and end spot. If we were running short on time, we'd jump over to I-5 and use the Falcon for what it was built for: I could cover the distance from Oakland to San Diego in ten hours, if need be. Including potty and meal breaks.
Bekka knocked on the door to her Papa's house --- a sign of the distance between them --- and he called her in. He was sitting in a serious "dad" recliner in the living room, but got up with a smile to hug his daughter.
Then his eyes caught mine. The temperature took a plunge in that house, but quick.
"So, you're the man my daughter will be traveling with?"
"Yes sir. My name is Lenny, Lenny Schneider." I held out a hand to shake; he hesitated just long enough to make me uncomfortable before shaking it. At least it was an honest shake, not a dead fish or a bone-crusher. Still, his tone and manner indicated that I was being tolerated, not welcomed.
Bekka picked up on her father's hostility and said in a voice dripping with saccharine, "Papa, Lenny here is one of my closest friends, both at work and off. It's why we decided to travel together. Lenny is several years younger than me, but is one of the most honorable men I've ever met in my life. I consider it a blessing he is my friend." The "So lay off, Pops" was unspoken but implied.
"And what do you do at the company you two work for?"
Thank god, a slow pitch. "I'm the still photographer, sir. I operate the Nikons."
"So you take pictures of my daughter nude."
Oh boy. "Yes, yes I do, along with many other performers at Inana."
"And do you enjoy your work?"
"Papa, you promised.... I'm not your little girl any more, I'm your adult daughter!"
"And I still see no reason why I shouldn't know something about this young man!"
I held up a hand to Bekka and said, "Very well. I''m twenty years old, born and raised in Clairemont, currently living in El Cajon.. My parents are both civil servants, working for the county. I didn't attend college out of conscious choice, I've never been to jail, and I've always enjoyed photography, both as an art and as a technical challenge, so working for Inana is a good fit."
"Satisfied Papa, or shall we get a blood sample?" asked Bekka in the same oversweetened tone.
Papa asked me, "Is your appearance a permanent thing?"
Enough of this, I thought. "A.... Permanent thing? I don't follow you, sir."
"The boots, the black jeans, the dyed hair: you look like a hoodlum, son."
"Papa, that is enough!" yelled Bekka.
I said, "Hey Bekka, does my mode of fashion make me look like a, uh.... What was the word again, sir?"
"You look like a hoodlum." He was a man with quite a bit of directionless aggression.
"Do I look like a hoodlum, Bekka? I thought I was just preventing light reflection when using the cameras. Every little bit counts in photography, and I'm afraid I've taken to dressing this way as a matter of course."
Back to her super-sweet voice, Bekka said, "You don't look like a hoodlum or a criminal or a thug or anything else bad, Lenny. I think you look just fine, even sexy."
Papa said, "Sexy. My daughter finds this.... kid..... to be sexy. Do you have designs on my girl?"
"That's an unfair question, sir. To say no is an insult to Bekka, and to say yes will offend you. I will not answer that, sir."
"You're a regular Eddie Haskell, aren't you? Always calling me 'sir'."
"I have no other way of addressing you. You have not introduced yourself, and calling you 'Papa' would be highly inappropriate. How would you like to be addressed.... Sir?"
"You can call me Mr. Luchessi. That will do."
Bekka said, "Or Antonio. That's what his friends call him."
"Anyone who works for that company is not my friend!"
"He has been nothing but civil to you, and you have been rude and hostile towards him, Papa. You promised you would give him a chance, and you gave him nothing but bullshit attitude! You've--- "
I cut her off. "Mr. Luchessi, if I may. I am twenty years old, so I cannot empathize. However, I am a man, so I can sympathize. You may not want to be my friend. I find that a bit disappointing, as we both care deeply about the same woman. However, I hope we can reach a state of civility, for the same reason. Please, for your daughter's sake, can we have a state of detente with each other? You care for Bekka, I care for Bekka. Let us try to get along, for her sake. I feel it would mean a lot for both her and me. Do you understand my position?"
Mr. Luchessi glared at me, then his face softened into a near-smile. He said, "You've got quite a tongue on you, kid."
"I have my moments, si--- Mr. Luchessi."
Driving back to Bekka's apartment, I asked a sniffling Bekka, "Has your dad always been that uptight meeting boys in your life?"
She cleared her throat and said, "No, not at all. It's all about you working for Inana. Shit, you'd think after six years he'd have adjusted, but he hasn't, not one bit. You're the first employee there that's actually met him in all this time."
"Seriously!? Not even any of the female performers you're friends with, like Jenna or Tawny or Rio? Why the hell not?"
Bekka sighed. "I was afraid....That they'd get the same sort of bullshit you did. Maybe not quite so hostile, but shit like him muttering about his house filling up with whores...."
"Ouch, indeed. Even when my mom was still alive, he'd have this passive-aggressive attitude towards my job. And when I made it clear I was gonna keep working for Inana, he was just plain pissed off. Yeah, I know a lot of it was just protectiveness, but still.... I mean, come on, I'm in my mid-twenties. You'd think if I was going to get damaged by the work, it would have happened by now." She looked over at me. "I'm proud of how you handled that. He was trying to pick a fight with you, and you wouldn't rise to the bait. Thank you."
"Yeah, well, brawling with my friend's dad didn't seem like the wisest of choices. I just figure he's a man who's still thinking of his adult daughter as his baby girl. Personally? It's his issue. Hopefully he'll get a bit of therapy and stop trying to infantilize his adult daughter."
We rode in silence for a while. Then Bekka said, "You know how we usually fuck when we spend the night together? Can we do something different?"
"Would you just hold me close? I just feel, like, lonely tonight. I need to be close to someone., you know?"
I smiled and held her hand. "Anything for a friend," I said.