I pulled on boxers and ran downstairs, only to find her having moved the tin of cocaine and bag of speed to one side so she could Windex the glass of the coffee table, treating it as if it were no more than a couple of magazines.
"Um.... Hi!" I said, for lack of anything better. "I'm Lenny."
"I am Consuela. Do you have any laundry to do?"
"Um, no, not today. Where should we put it when we do?"
"In the hamper in the main bathroom. Shall I make the bed, or are you still sleeping?"
"Lemme go check."
I went upstairs to find Bekka sitting on the edge of the bed with a fearful look in her eyes. She was as rattled as I has been. "Are we busted?" she asked.
"No, she doesn't seem to care. If she's been cleaning this house for a while, I'm sure she's used to it."
"I'm showering then."
I went back downstairs and collected the drugs. "Look, I'm really sorry about that...."
She shrugged and said, "It does not bother me. It is something people do. Do you want me to make the bed?"
"Um, yes please."
"I will wait until someone is out of the shower." Then she went about the business of vacuuming an already clean floor and polishing clean counter tops.
I ran upstairs when I heard water stop running. Bekka said to me, "So are we busted?"
I held up my hands and said, "She could care less. I think she's seen it all before, and has been told to ignore such things. I put the drugs up in a cabinet, but I don't think it's really necessary. She's totally blasé. And she's getting one hell of a tip at the end of the week."
"To be on the safe side," said Bekka, "let's not sleep this late any more. She can have the house to herself and we can be out having fun."
"Let me shower, then let's drive around for a while. Let's get good and lost."
"Sounds like fun."
We waited until Consuela was upstairs cleaning the bathroom and making the bed before quickly pulling two lines of cocaine and loading the bindle with speed. Then we headed out, heading north.
Janelle continued to be right: everywhere we went we saw pawn shops, bail bondsmen, and porn shops. The porn shops intrigued us due to their size.... Like as big as a grocery store, if not bigger.
The first one we stopped in had an armed security guard at the door. We wandered a bit, reading titles, then asked the clerk if they had any titles from Inana Productions. He pointed us at a wall emblazoned with the word 'California.' Sure enough, a decent selection of our video was on display, including several of Bekka's tapes. Bekka picked up one, walked to the cashier, and smiling sweetly said, "Notice a resemblance?"
The cashier's jaw dropped. "Hey, that's you!"
"Becky Page, at your service!"
The cashier said, "Could you sign some of the boxes for me? Just pull the shrink-wrap off and sign 'em, and I'll re-wrap them."
"Yeah, not a problem."
So I shucked video boxes, Bekka signed them with a Sharpie, and the cashier re-wrapped them.... Adhering stickers that said "Signed" on them and upping the price five bucks.
"Thank you! Stuff produced in California always moves well, and this will make your line of videos really fly out."
"Glad to be of help, sweetie. Tell me, now come the porn shops around here are so big?"
"We just like to carry a good selection, plus a wide variety of novelties, like solid dolls and inflatables. Plus plenty of devices for women."
In the parking lot, I said, "Well, he didn't seem pissed we didn't buy anything. That's a positive."
Right next door was a pawn shop.... At least in name. It was more like a permanent jumble sale, with random crap littering aisles or racks. I asked the clerk if he had an electric bass and amp for sale. "No bass! No bass!" was the response. Not being in the market for a broken hair dryer or Walkman, we cut out.
Let's try the next porn shop....
This one was just as big, and seemed to specialize in toys and novelties. An army of solid dolls lined one wall in various heights. Dildos and vibrators graced every shelf, from the sublime to the monstrous. Racks of video took up the rear half of the store, with viewing booths at the back.. We searched, but couldn't find any Inana video. Oh well.
"Enough smut, time for food," said Bekka.. "Let's cruise around until we find someplace to eat. And not a Denny's either."
So we started wandering around North Fort Lauderdale seeking food. We finally came across a diner that seemed hygienic enough, so we stopped in..
We had the place to ourselves, which was nice. We could talk in private. We took seats at the counter and ordered Cokes and cheeseburgers. The cook and counterman was black and rotund. He asked, "That your car out there?"
"No, it's a rental. We're tourists."
"Where y'all from?"
"Damn! Livin' in California and comin' on vacation to Florida. What for you wanna do that?"
"We've already seen California. Florida is a new experience."
"So whadda ya think of it so far?"
"It's very green. We haven't seen much of it so far except for the canals."
"Whoo! You stayin' in that district!"
"It's our honeymoon and we have a generous boss. We're pretty poor ourselves."
The bell on the door rang and two young brothers, knucklehead types, came in and ordered sodas. We were getting the eye. One of them queried, "So is that your Crown Victoria sittin' outside?"
"Where you from, blood?"
"What choo doing down here?"
"Vacation." The counterman nodded at these answers.
The smaller of the two said, "What you say if we told you we takin' your car from you?"
I was getting pissed off. "I'd say you'd better have a really big fucking gun on you. Do you?"
The small guy pulled out a Raven .25. "This do?"
I laughed at him. "Sorry, too small. You shouldn't wash your guns in hot water, they shrink. Why don't you try with something worthwhile?"
"Gimme your keys, motherfucker."
I was fed up. It may have been a rental car, but it was my rental car, dammit, and I wasn't giving it up to a couple knuckleheads. I stood up from my stool and pulled up my shirt revealing the scar from where I'd been shot. I started screaming, "I been shot before, and by bigger shit than that! I don't give a fuck about you or your goddamn pop gun! Now fuck off and leave me alone! Why don't you throw down like a real man!?"
"Hey man, we just fuckin' with you. It's all cool...." They gulped their sodas and left without paying
The counterman looked at me and said, "White boy, you got some nerves, facing down some punk with a gun. You always been like that?"
I told him, "I developed an attitude delivering pizza. Not the first time someone's pointed a gun at me, and at one point someone fired. I'm still here. How's those burgers coming along?"
Back in the Crown Vic, Bekka rubbed my arm and said, "My hero."
"Well, I try to be. And in the same situation, you give up the car. You're not six foot and ugly, and you can't go into berserker mode like I can. Okay?
"Why didn't you just give up the keys?"
"They pissed me off. Why should a couple chumps take away a car I'm responsible for? To hell with them. Let them find some idiots from the Midwest to chew on. I don't give up so easy."
"They had a gun."
"Barely. That little .25 they had wouldn't have slowed me down. They may as well have thrown handfuls of gravel for all the difference that Raven would have made. Remember, I've been shot with a Beretta in the past and that didn't slow me down. Their pea-shooter wouldn't phase me at all. Excuse me a moment."
I pulled to the curb and vomited out the open door.
"Pardon me, the adrenaline caught up with me.. Feeling better now. Do you have a tissue?"
"You're right, you know. Wild shit always happens when I'm around."
"And I love you for it. It keeps me on my toes.."
After the events of the afternoon, we decided we could use some relaxation. Bekka ensconced me in the hot tub and brought me a Johnnie Walker over ice. More fun could wait until later in the evening.
We ate at the restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton on the beach, then began our crawl up the strip. There were more clubs we needed to hit, and dancers to make happy.
Our first stop was a biker dive, which made me happy. They'd be playing rock & roll, and I'd be able to relate to the locals a bit better. The doorman had a long-neck of Budweiser in one hand and demanded our I.D.s. He laughed when he saw we were from California.
"So what brings you out here?"
"We heard the strip clubs in Florida are the best in the world."
"You always bring your old lady with you?"
"She's my chaperone."
"Haw! Haw! Haw! C'mon in, brother."
We took a seat near the front and ordered beers. When in Rome. We watched the show for a while and stuffed ones into garters. After a while a blonde with amazingly large hair came over and introduced herself. "Hi, I'm Trina, who are you?"
"I'm Lenny, and this is Bekka."
Bekka said, "Here's twenty dollars to sit on his lap while I go to the bathroom. I don't want him wandering off."
Trina asked, "Is she protective?"
"Would we be at a strip club if she were?"
Bekka returned and made the same offer she'd made the previous night: would Trina like some Ecstasy? For free? No strings attached?
"I dunno, I've run into trouble with free drugs in the past. Can I trust you?"
"W'e'll sit here and nurse beers for a good forty-five minutes. If you get sick, your doorman will certainly beat the shit out of us. But it's good clean California 'E', and you can tell us what you think when it kicks in."
"Well.....Okay. Lay it on me."
Again, she washed it down with a swallow of my beer and went back on stage. Within a half hour her dancing was more energetic, and forty-five minutes later she came over and said, "I'm gonna give you the best lap dance of your life!" And proceeded to do just that. Bekka smirked at me the entire time..
In the middle of the lap dance the doorman came up and said, "So you're not collecting on lap dances any more? This ain't a fuckin' charity."
"He paid me earlier," she protested.
Bekka said, "Would you like the same payment?" She shook a pill out of the bottle and handed it to him.
"Th' fuck is this?"
"Methyl Dioxy Methamphetamine, more commonly known as Ecstasy," I explained. Puts some pep in your step and a smile on your face."
"It's really good," said Trina.
"Fuck it, I'll try anything once," and knocked it back
Forty minutes later we had a good beer buzz and a blissed-out doorman.