Bekka got down to the business of putting out two more humongous lines of cocaine while I changed into a t-shirt that didn't have the word 'fuck' on it. No sense in annoying our fellow tourists without just cause.... Or if it would be really entertaining.
It was ten blocks to the landing, so we decided to just walk over. On the way we said hello to some of our temporary neighbors. One asked if we'd moved in to the area; we explained we were on our honeymoon and staying at a friend of our boss' house.
"Are you staying in number 159?" we were asked.
"That's the one," I confirmed.
The guy froze up on me. "I.... See. Planning on having parties then?"
"Um, no. We don't know anyone in Florida, not even the person who owns the house, so I'm not sure who we'd invite."
"You don't know the homeowner?"
"Like I said, he's a friend of our boss. The house, plus airfare and a rental car, were his wedding gift to us. Have there been blowouts there in the past?"
The man wasn't placated. "Yes, we've had trouble at that address. So you're not planning on a party."
"Who would we ask? Unless you want to come over for a drink sometime...."
"No thank you. And I'm holding you to your word about no parties. Good afternoon."
Walking away, I said to Bekka, "Now I'm dying of curiosity as to what's happened there. I bet we're the subject of neighborhood gossip until we leave."
Bekka said, "It makes me want to invite a crowd of random strangers over for free cocaine. By the way, you've got powder on your nose."
"Oh, fuckin' peachy," I said, wiping my nose vigorously. "You think our new neighbor noticed, has me pegged as just another party gladiator?"
"Let's see.... Punk rock t-shirt, bleached hair, Doc Martens.... You'd look unnatural if you didn't have evidence of drug abuse."
"C'mon, it's a pretty laid-back look for me. I mean, no bandannas or spikes, my denim is at home, and I haven't spiked my hair up in who knows how long. I look respectable."
"Yeah, you're Mr. Blackwell. Is this the place here?"
We had arrived at the landing for the tour boat. We got in the small line leading to the kiosk selling tickets. I stared over at the boat. "Look at that," I said, "they painted the boat beer colored."
"Maybe that's a good sign."
"I want a scotch and soda right now. A double. I've gotta take the edge off this wire."
"Are you nuts? I like feeling like this. Maybe you should have stuck with your speed, pally. This is some prime cocaine we've got a hold of, and you're bitching."
"I'm not bitching, I just wanna turn it down a notch. No more foot-long rails for me, thank you. This is fun, but the edginess is kind of a drag. Hup, it's our turn."
We stepped up to the window and I paid our admission, nearly throwing the bills on the ground from my jitteriness. I asked the cashier about an on-board bar, and was given a smile and a confirmation.
Bekka stuck her head in and asked, "Do they make blender drinks? You know, fancy shit?"
"They do, ma'am."
"Cool. I want something with a goddamn umbrella in it."
We walked up the gangplank and handed over the tickets we bought ninety seconds earlier. "Would you like a picture?" we were asked.
"Umm.... Sure. Where do we stand?"
We were pointed to the front of the boat, where a small crowd of couples had gathered to memorialize this event. We decided to come back after we'd had our drinks. For me at least, a drink was important right then.
We went below decks and found the bar. It was already crowded with middle-age tourists, getting an even bigger buzz than they probably showed up with. I elbowed a hole up to the rail and told the bartender, "Double scotch and soda and a fuzzy navel. You can guess whose is whose."
He looked at me with hooded eyes and said, "I'll need to see your I.D.s."
Me and Bekka dug for our driver's licenses and slapped them down on the counter. The bartender eyed them balefully and said, "California, huh?"
"Yeah, that's us."
"So why are you in Florida?"
"Of course you are." He went about the business of making our drinks.
"I don't think that man likes us," I told Bekka.
"He has us pegged as runners. Figures we've got luggage with false bottoms and we plan on loading in ten pounds of coke and moving it to California. We wouldn't be the first."
"You're being paranoid,' said Bekka.
"Me? I think it's funny. He's the paranoid one."
The bartender presented us with our drinks and demanded money. I paid him, with a forgettable tip. "We'll be back," I told him. He didn't look pleased.
We took our drinks up on deck and leaned on the rail, nursing them. I didn't want to replace my cocaine high with an alcohol buzz, I just wanted to sand the sharper edges off of it. Bekka was smiling vacantly at the shoreline.
"I've figured out what it is about this place that differs from California. Everything here is green, no matter where you look," she said.
"Well, they get this stuff called 'rain' around here, all year long. That would explain it."'
Our drinks finished, we walked around on the deck, being friendly to people. For the most part our friendliness was rejected: we were cut off.
"Do I have powder on my nose?" asked Bekka.
"Nope. How about me?"
You're clean. What is it with these people?"
"We're young, that's all. Fuck 'em. Let's go up to the bow to watch our progress, spot the number of idiots in rowboats we kill."
Bekka smiled at me. "I hope we take out a damn kayaker."
We ditched our cups in a can and went up front. The boat had just started to move at a glacial pace, easing up the canal towards the larger water and more canals. We passed houses much like ours and pleasure craft which seemed to dwarf the refabbed barge we were on. And we continued getting dirty looks from middle aged old bastards. Oh well, to hell with them. We'll probably end up with a table to ourselves.
I turned around to light a Marlboro and spotted a glimpse of sanity: Facing away from me was someone in a leather with the Exploited skull painted on the back. I nudged Bekka and pointed towards the itinerant punk rocker occupying the boat with us, and we wandered that direction. Closer inspection revealed her to be female, and one of a young age..
"Exploited fan, are you?" I asked in a friendly manner. "But why a leather in Florida, in spring?"
"Always gotta fly the colors," came a petulant response. I had her pegged at about fourteen, the perfect age for petulance.
"So what brings you to Florida?" asked Bekka.
"I haven't left Florida," the girl said. "My stupid parents refuse to leave the south when they go on vacation twice a year. We live in Gainesville, up in the panhandle, and we end up in fuckin' Georgia, or Alabama, or Arkansas. At least Florida is kind of cool. Are you locals?"
I told her, "No, we're from San Diego, California."
"Oh wow! I'd love to go to LA, or maybe San Francisco. Anything has gotta be better than stupid Gainesville. As soon as I turn eighteen I'm outta there."
"Gainesville is a college town," said Bekka, "how bad of a place can it can it be?"
The girl sneered. "It's all about football. And frats. Gainesville is shit, and I can't wait to leave. Oh, and my name's Jane."
"I'm Lenny, and this is Bekka. We're just doing the tourist thing on our honeymoon."
"Why would you ever want to leave California, especially for the stupid south?" asked Jane. "California has it all, why not just stay there?"
"We wanted to see for ourselves. You all have more water, for one. California is a desert, but nobody knows it thanks to the irrigation," said Bekka.
It's true. Florida has green, California has brown."
Jane said, "You two are on coke, huh?"
"How can you tell?"
"Your pupils are dilated and you both keep wiping your nose. I'll bet the bartender gave you the stink eye downstairs. Speaking of, could you score me a drink?"
I said, "Uhh.... I dunno if that's a good idea."
Bekka suggested, "Why don't you go get us another round of drinks. Jane, you like scotch and soda?"
"Just so long as it's strong."
"Perfect. Lenny, you set yours down and wander off. Jane here bombs down your drink and knocks the cup overboard.... Jane, you have any gum on you?"
"Lenny tells the bartender he lost his drink and gets his own back. Everybody's happy."
So I went below decks and asked for the same again --- the bartender not speaking to me at all at this point --- and I returned to the front rail, where we seemed to have the place to ourselves. I wandered up above to have a cigarette, burned it out, then went back down to exclaim, "What happened to my drink?"
"I knocked it overboard, I'm sorry," said Bekka.
"Guess I gotta get another." I went below decks to do just that, with no complaints from the bartender.
I returned to Jane and Bekka being accosted by an older couple, asking where Jane had wandered off to.
"I'ts a boat, mom, how far could I go? Um, these are my new friends, Bekka and Lenny. They's from California. They're on their honeymoon. Isn't that sweet?"
Mom said, "Then you're older than my daughter."
"Yes, but punk rock knows no age," I replied. "I saw her jacket and started a conversation. We mean no harm."
"I want you in eyesight, Janey! And no getting them to buy you drinks!" Mom and dad wandered off.
"Little late for that," giggled Bekka.
We stood at the rail and talked bands, occasionally pointing out the more ostentatious houses on the shore.
"Holy shit, said Bekka, "that's our house."
"So it is."
"You guys are staying there?" said Jane.
"Yeah. Our boss is a generous guy, and I guess he knows the person who owns the place, so he paid our air fare out here and got us a rental car. It's way more room than we need, but what the hell, we can spread out. If we argue, there's always a different room for one person to stay in. Plus there's the hot tub. And the boat."
So what do you guys do, anyway?"
"We're.... In the entertainment industry," I said.
Bekka added, "We do video production."
Jane said, "You're in porn."
"Okay, you got us. Just don't tell your parents. They already seem displeased with you hanging around people who are 21 and 26, no sense giving them a worse impression. Anyway, you never heard Victim's Family? Track down the album 'Voltage and Violets....."
Dinner was served on a private island with lots of animals on it, and signs advising everyone to not feed them. We were treated to the spectacle of a spider monkey jerking itself off. "See Bekka? You have that effect on everyone." She punched my arm.
The dinner bell rang and we got in line. The buffet was rather meat-heavy, but had a decent balance of food overall, and it was surprisingly good. I tried the roast beef and expected to be chewing it later that night, but it was just fine, melt in your mouth.
After we finished eating, Bekka asked me for the bindle. She wanted a re-charge for her high. "Save some for me," I told her.
"Me to," said Jane.
"Yeah, no" I said to Jane. "Feeding you a drink is bad enough, but the legal ramifications of giving coke to a fourteen year old are too ugly to think about. Besides, how would your parents act if you were geeking around the motel room at one in the morning? If you were eighteen, we'd share. At fourteen.... I don't want to spend my honeymoon in the Fort Lauderdale jail."
And in an act of reasonableness on her part, she said, "Okay, I see your side of it."
"In lieu of dope, have some music." I pulled my Victim's Family tape out of my Walkman and handed it to her. "One side is 'Voltage and Violets', the other is 'Things I Hate To Admit'. The second one is funkier, a lighter sound, but it still rocks."
"Too cool! Thank you!" exclaimed Jane. We've gotta exchange addresses." I gave her my Inana business card while she scribbled out her Gainesville address. She looked at my card, smirked, and said, "I knew you were in porn."
"Inana was a Sumerian goddess with an insatiable sex drive. I can add on and one."
"Well for chrissakes keep that hidden from your folks, Speaking of...."
Her parents walked up and asked if we'd had a good meal....And where was Bekka?
We assured the meal was perfectly satisfactory, and here comes Bekka now, sniffing like a hound. She cut it out when she saw we had company, handing off the bindle and pen to me under the table. I shoved them in my pocket for later use.
"And how were your meals?" Bekka asked.
"Excellent. We always enjoy taking this cruise. Did you eat well, Janey?"
"Of course. And you know I hate being called Janey," she frowned.
"How about Janelle?" suggested Bekka. "I got saddled with Bekka with two 'K's in it."
Jane brightened up. "Yeah. Janelle. I like it! It has a good musical sound to it. Mom, Dad, call me Janelle from now on. I like how it sounds.
Rolling her eyes, Mom said, "Oh for Pete's sake, Janey...."
"Janelle," Jane corrected. "Oh, and I have a new tape to listen to in the car on the way home. Lenny gave it to me. He says it's a combination of hardcore and jazz, so you guys might actually like it."
I threw in, "It may be a bit more harsh than you're used to, but the guitarist is a raging George Benson fan, and it shows in his playing style. Give it a shot."
"You seem to be taking a great interest in m m my daughter," said Dad.
"It's just mutual musical interest," I said. "I could be twelve and she could be thirty and we'd still hit it off. It's just how it works. Besides, your daughter is very smart. I'm sure she gets good grades."
"School is easy," said Jane/Janelle. "I'm bored half the time. I wanna get a scholarship to UCLA or UC Berkeley, so I keep my grades up." This was a kid with plans.
"Go for UCB," said Bekka. "The neighborhood around UCLA really sucks. You'll have more fun at Berkeley anyway."
"She has enough fun already," said dad. "Go on, tell them why you're here."
Jane/Janelle sighed and said, "I had a few friends over and things got out of hand, okay? That's all."
"Oh, I did that," said Bekka.
"Me too,"" I added. "I think it's part of the growing process."