"So lets's explore this island some," suggested Bekka. "See what there is to see."
Janellle said, "Not much. Peacocks and caged animals. Lots of monkey that like to jerk off at you."
"Be like a day at work," muttered Bekka.
You really do work in porn, don't you? What's it like?"
Bekka said, "It's hard work and it's kind of messy. Sometimes it's fun. Mostly hard work, though. I don't recommend it as a career, or even a way to pick up extra cash. It takes a certain personality type to do the work. Heh, I've been at it for seven years, so I don't know what that says about me."
I told Janelle, "I work an administrative position, so I watch a lot of it, but I'm never in front of the camera. I'm too busy taking care of paperwork to have any fun."
"I could do porn," chirped Janelle.
"And every week," I told her, "I meet a couple dozen girls who think the same thing. They back out when they realize just how much work is involved. It's not just fucking in front of a camera."
Bekka threw in, "Can you act? Can you follow stage directions? Can you deal with having sex with guys you don't know while stone sober? Like Lenny said, it's work, and hard work at that."
With standard fourteen year old petulance, Janelle said, "I could handle it."
"Then wait four years, come out to California, and give it a go. Grow your hair out, too. Lois Ayres is the only one to get away with short hair, and she's been around for years."
We walked along, observing the various fauna, most of whom were caged. "I'd like to set them all free," said Janelle.
"But they're totally domesticated. They'd die," I said.
"I"d come to the island and feed them every day."
"Hup, here come your parents. Ix-nay on the orn-pay," Bekka said.
Janelle's parents had been availing themselves of the bar on the island, and it showed. They had another couple with them, who introduced themselves as the Kesslers of Macon, Georgia. Mr. Kessler said, "Y'know in Macon, you can go to jail just for lookin' like that, haw haw!"
"I'll be sure to avoid Georgia, sir," I told him.
"Aw hell, you'd git along in Atlanta or Athens, but anywhere else they'd have you pegged as some kinda faggot!"
"Not a faggot, just a Californian," I replied.
"Me too," said Bekka.
Janelle added, "And in four years, so will I."
"Oh, Janey!" said Janelle's mom.
"I told you, Mom, I'm gonna go by Janelle now. I like how it sounds, and I'm glad Bekka suggested it for me."
I excused myself from this riveting dialogue to use the bathroom and do up whatever cocaine Bekka hadn't done. She had split what was there --- kind of her--- so I broke it up into reasonable chunks and snorted it up, feeling the the icicle rats run up my nose. Then I went and retrieved two more drinks for me and Bekka.
I returned to a slightly tense conversation. Mr. Kessler was expounding on the evils of California.
"I've been there, and it's nothin' but a bunch of freaks and weirdos! I go, take care of business, and leave again! That's the state that ought to secede, lemme tell ya."
"There's a flaw in your reasoning," I told him. "California is the sixth largest economy in the world. Not in the U.S., but the whole world. Imagine what would happen if California did secede. The rest of the U.S. would collapse financially.
"And so far as freaks go, uh, wasn't the movie 'Deliverance' set in Georgia? Now there were some class A freaks shown in that movie, and they were all hired locally. Total inbred mutants." I took a sip off my scotch and soda.
"Ya can't judge an entire state on the backwoods yokels," Mr. Kessler growled.
"And you can't judge a state on the eccentrics you see in downtown LA or San Francisco. And at least we don't inbreed in California."
"Why you...." He began to step towards me, so I stepped forward too, handing my drink off to Janelle. He had weight on me, but I doubted he'd been in a real punch-up since grade school.
His wife and Janelle's dad grabbed him by the arms before anything could happen. I'd kept a passive look on my face the entire time, at total Roy Scheider expression. They hustled him off to the bar so he could relax. Janelle's mom held back.
"Some friends you meet, Jane. Picking fights with strangers!"
I said, "It's an old phrase, but he started it. Talking smack about my home state for no reason? To hell with him. I'm sure he's a nice guy when he's sober. When he's been in a bar, well.... Besides, he came up on me, not the other way around. I don't run, even if it means taking a beating."
"Yeah mom, that guy was totally the instigator."
"Mind your own business, Janelle, and wait here for me." She disappeared into the bar.
"Um....Both your parents seem pretty tanked. Who's driving?" I asked.
"I am,' said Janelle.
"Yeah, I've been doing this since I was twelve. I know where I'm going, it's just a few blocks, so it's not a big deal."
"Okay! I officially vote the south to be a strange place," I said. "I can't wait to see what we find when we go exploring in that big Ford Angel rented for us. Maybe we'll find some sanity in the form of a strip bar or two to hole up in."
"There's plenty of those," said Janelle. "Strip clubs, porn shops, pawn shops, and bail bondsmen. They're everywhere in Fort Lauderdale. Orlando, too.."
"Hey, we can rate the local talent. See if any of 'em want to relocate to southern California."
The boarding whistle blew, and we wandered toward the gangplank, laughing about the possibility of smuggling off one of the caged spider monkeys. We decided against the idea: there were already enough people on that boat who hated us to not increase the number. We got a scrap of paper from the bursar and wrote down Janelle's address ("Hopefully my parents won't trash it." "That's illegal.").
We inquired about getting our picture taken (with Janelle) and was given the go: wait at the bow and he'd be along momentarily. Bekka queried about any more cocaine left, to which I replied in the negative. Janelle pouted that we hadn't shared.
"Um, hello! Jail time! Major felony!" I told her.
A guy with the world's largest camera came bounding up. "So, all three of you, then? Are you family?"
"You could say that."
He took the shot and asked, "How many prints would you like?"
"Make it six. Janelle, you wanted one, right?"
"Hell yeah. The first vacation where I've met cool people, and I want proof."
"When do we pick them up?"
"You can pick them up in the morning, or we can mail them."
"Mail one to this address" --- I read off Janelle's address --- "and we'll pick up the rest tomorrow. That kosher?"
That was dandy with him. He pointed the way towards the gangplank.
"Well, that was different," said Bekka as we walked home. "The night is young, wanna go for a drive?"
"Sure, we'll go for a run along the beach, see what there is to see."
"Yeah, but I'm sticking with the meth. That coke is doing funny things to me. I want a straight wire."
"I'm bringing the Ecstasy with us in case we meet some new friends."
"Ever the pragmatist, you."
We got home and railed up some speed, then fired up the Ford and headed out Seven Isles Drive to East Las Olas, which took us to the drag along the beach. We immediately noticed what Janelle had meant about the strip clubs: one right after the other.
I said, "We know how they do it in San Francisco, shall we explore these? For research purposes?"
"Absolutely. Who gets the first lap dance?"
I hit an empty parking spot and we dodged traffic across the street.
What first struck me was there was no cover charge. You just walked right in. A waitress came and got your drink orders (we stuck with beer) and you sat and enjoyed the show.... Until one of the dancers slithered over and offered you a lap dance.
Bekka laid a twenty on the dancer and told her to sit on my lap until she got back from the bathroom. An interesting way of making friends.
"So," I said, "what's new?"
""Oh, this is the same ol', same ol'."
"You often get paid to guard people's husbands?"
"You and her are married? You have kind of an open relationship?"
"You could say that. We work in porn. She has sex with five to eight guys a week, while I"m in the office balancing the books and interviewing prospective performers."
"That's too wild. It don't bug you at all?"
"It's what she was doing when we met, why should it bother me now.?"
Bekka returned to the table and without any further ado, asked the dancer, "So, do you like to get high?"
"Depends on what."
The girl wigged out. "You have real Ecstasy? No way.... Is it the real deal?"
"Tell you what. We'll stay here for forty-five minutes, long enough for it to kick in. If you're not happy, we'll give you forty bucks. Fair deal? That way you know we're not poisoning you."
"Too cool! Lemme try it!"
Bekka pulled a tablet out of the bottle and handed it to her. The dancer washed it down with a swallow of my beer and got back on stage.
"Let's get all the dancers high," I suggested.
"Screw that," said Bekka. "There's a lot of clubs on this street. Let's make one dancer each happy at each club. Whoever is nicest to us first gets a hit.."
"I'm switching to soda. I gotta drive," I said. "That, and the beers are probably ten bucks in this clip joint."
Forty-five minutes later the dancer shimmied to our table and said, "Too cool! Um, can you sell me a few of those?"
I told her, "I don't sell drugs. If you liked that, I'll give you a few...."
"Seriously? You're getting the mother of all lap dances.... That is if your wife doesn't mind."
"Ride 'em, cowgirl," said Bekka.
So we did the same routine in the next club, and the next, and the next, and the next.. Whichever dancer was nicest to us first got a free hit of Ecstasy. Some were suspicious at being handed an unknown drug, but we promised to stick around until it started to kick in.... And then they were happy. With a last call time of 4 a.m. the girls could use the energy. I got "free" lap dances all night.
After a while, burnout began to set in. We'd been up for about thirty-nine hours, and moving around the entire time. No sense in getting too weird, and we wanted to have as much fun as possible. Time to find our way home and get some sleep.