Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Chrissie (Part 4)

     "What time is it?" asked Bekka.
     "Just about midnight," I replied.
     "Seems later."
     "That's just your body rebelling.  We've gone over a day and a half with no sleep, and we've been moving around almost all that time.  At least we were able to lie down for a few hours at Vinny and Chrissie's place."

     We were driving slowly in the general direction of Encino.  We weren't sure what we should do for a place to sleep that night, me suggesting a motel, Bekka wanting to use one of the several guest rooms at Angel's place.  We'd already called him and told him we had been constructive.  And we had something to show him that would make him sick.

     We rolled along Santa Monica Blvd. to the 405, and when we hit the freeway I let loose with the Falcon. By the time we passed the Getty museum we were holding 110 mph, me dodging through traffic like a manic video game.  One that could be expensive if I made a mistake.
     "Go baby go!" yelled Bekka.  Her thrill from these high speed runs bordered on the erotic for her.  Even though the Falcon was technically "her" car, I always drove when we'd do such psycho speed runs like this.
     Other than nearly taking out some clown in an old Datsun at the Ventura Blvd.ramps, it was a tension-free run.  We went as far as Devonshire St.before doubling back and hooking onto the 101, jumping off at the first exit and heading up the hill.  As always, Angel was smoking a cigarette in the driveway when we pulled up.  He had a shell shocked look on his face.
     "Hey Angel, what's the scoop around here?" I asked.
     "How about you go first, and I'll say something if you're giving me useless information," he suggested.  Fine with me.
     "Okay, first we met up with Mikey.  He was a bit loath to talk at first, but I showed him my Beretta and he opened up, somewhat grudgingly.  Apparently they grab women quite often.  Mikey acts as a sort of way station, picking up women from the cab driver in the shadow of the Getty museum and taking them back to his place in Hollywood, where some other guy comes and takes them off his hands.  Chrissie wasn't targeted because she's a mafioso's wife.  It was a just plain terrible chance of fate.
     "This here--- "  I held up the photo box  " ---came from the Sex Shack.  Pricey, too.... Like a hundred sixty bucks or so, I'll have check my receipt.  Never, ever let Vinny see those.  Shit, I'm not comfortable showing them to you."
     Angel opened the box and began thumbing through photos.  He became both pale and angry at the same time.  After a minute he dropped them back into the box., shaking his head as if trying to get water out of his ear.  He said, "You're right.  Vinny should not see those.  Now I have my own show and tell to do."
     He trotted back to his office, returning momentarily with a sheet of fax paper.  This one was from the same people as before, only now they weren't putting in photos.  Instead, this one read in big block letters.


     "That showed up  around 11:15," Angel said.  "He still hasn't sent another message.  I was thinking we could do like they do in the movies, and have the payment actually be scrap paper.  Meanwhile, we've got people planted all over the drop spot dressed like tourists or winos or whatever.  What do you think?"
     Bekka said, "Do you know anyone on the east coast?  The mob used to make quite a bit of money off kidnapping.  Maybe you could talk to a couple of the old guys about how it works.  They might be able to give advice on how to best round these assholes up."
     "Yeah, I could even find a few retired old war horses from back east out here.  You'd be amazed at the number of Witness Protection folks that are in San Diego."
     I stretched and rubbed my back against the corner of the wall.  "Hey Angel, can I make myself a drink?"
     "Go ahead, Lenny.  Bekka, would you like anything?"  She shook her head.
     I came back with my Johnnie Walker.... Which Bekka practically snatched out of my hand and downed in four seconds.  She gave off a quiet belch and wandered past me, heading for the living room.   Angel watched all this with amazement.
     "Hey Angel, can I have another drink?  Please?" I sniveled at him.
     "Absolutely," he said.  "It's nice to know someone who understands that Johnnie Walker is supposed to be sipped, not chug-a-lugged."
     "Yeah, that was like watching a snake putting down a mouse.  Just open the jaws and gulp!"

     We were in finishing watching a spaghetti western on channel 13, winding up to go to bed,  the fax machine went off.  Angel ran down the hall to see what the latest missive was.
     It wasn't good news.  It read,

     "Oh God, I hope I didn't get Mikey killed," I muttered and handed the fax off to Bekka.  She studied it and then carefully placed it on the coffee table with the other three.
     "And what the hell is a 'game of cheese', anyway?" queried Bekka.
     "I think he meant to write the word 'chess', but was hungry or something and got distracted," I told Bekka.  "Who knows, maybe we'll find him and can ask him ourselves.  There's a lot I want to say to this man," I told Bekka.
     "You better find him.  Don't think we don't want the responsible parties fingered," said Angel.
     "I thought y'all wanted Chrissie back, full stop,"  I  asked Angel.
     "Maybe I wasn't clear enough.  We want both.  We want Chrissie returned safe and sound, and we want the finger put on these scumbags.  So you have two guns now?"
     "Actually, Bekka does.  Wanna show it to him, sweetie?"
     "Yeah, no problem," she said, and got off the sofa with a grunt.  She retrieved her purse from the entryway and walked back into the living room, digging through it and muttering to herself.  She grabbed the pistol and handed it to Angel, who cracked it open.
     "Not bad," he  said, squinting through the barrel.  "Charter Arms five shot, .38 caliber, this is one of their police guns.  I wonder how the scumbag you took it from got a hold of it."
     "Probably took it off a drunk cop.  There's plenty of drunks in the world, and plenty of cops, but it's really a mess when those two  coincide," I opined, knocking off the last of my Johnnie Walker.  "Alcoholism is rampant in police jurisdictions, and it's like nobody gives a shit.  Hell I'd prefer that the cops hit a bong a few times on each shift, instead of going through a pint of whatever over the course of the evening.
     "Although....  It should be noted that plenty of cops take drugs.  They are famous, at least in San Diego, for seizing ten pounds of marijuana and only having six pounds show up as evidence at the trial.  Same with powders,  they'll seize eight ounces and four of that will somehow magically disappear from the evidence room.  People being found guilty of dealing speed have stood up in court --- it doesn't matter if it's a gram or a pound, it's all still a felony --- and said, 'Your honor, somebody's ripping you guys off.  I had a half pound of dope, yet only four ounces showed up in court.  That's four ounces y'all somehow lost track of....  And why the hell is that sheriff's deputy over there shaking like that?'  Nobody ever listens to them, though."  I shook my head.
     Angel smiled at me and said, "Tell me Lenny, do you ever argue with yourself?"
     "Absolutely.  I have regular conversations with myself, too.  Some days it's the only way to have sensible conversation, you dig?"
     Bekka announced, "I'm hungry.  Let's go into  Van Nuys and find an open fast food place.  Preferably one that sells milkshakes.  Who's up for that?  My treat.  Damn I'm hungry."
     "Of course you're hungry.  It's been since, what, two in the afternoon since we ate?  God, I just realized how hungry I am, too.  You in, Angel?"
     "Yeah.  Lemme just grab a jacket and tell Angela I'll be out of the house, and to not panic when we come in again."  A few moments later he was out on the patio, lighting a cigarette along with us.

     I dropped the Falcon over the hill and down onto Ventura Blvd., then onto Van Nuys Blvd.  We had a selection to choose from.  We ended up going with Taco Bell, running next door to Burger King for shakes.  Yes, we ate like kings.... Really pathetic kings, but kings nonetheless.  It was warm enough that we could just sit down outside and watch people cruising around, out for a drive but not going anywhere, as restless as us, but not for the same reasons.  We watched a squadron of a good thirty Harley Davidsons go past, their exhaust seeping into every pore.  Bekka and I stood on the sidewalk and cheered and pumped our fists, much to Angel's embarrassment.
     "Are you kids done now?" he asked after all the putts had gone past.
     "With our meals, or with cheering on a club who's out at this hour?" said Bekka.
     "With cheering on the bikers, dear." Angel responded.
     "Nope, I'll always cheer on a club with good looking bikes.  Why do you ask, Angel?"
     "Because I feel like I'm with two little kids, both of whom are just so happy to see the vroom vrooms, okay?  You like the things so much, why don't you  own one?"
     Bekka and I looked at each other, pondering this inadvertent piece of advice.  "Oh, we will.  In fact, now I know what we can do with our Thursday evening.  We can go compare and contrast various models of Harley," said Bekka.
     I responded with, "Naw, let's make a Harley our second motorcycle.  First we buy something simple, like a Honda CB 500.  We learn and gain confidence on a little light bike, you know?"
     "Aw, c'mon, I was just getting swept away on the fantasy of being a motorcycle ridin' hellbeast, you know?"
     I grinned and said back, "So are we getting two, or should I get used to having a passenger on the back when I ride?"
     Bekka retorted, "Damn right we're getting two.  I'll get a Sportster, and you can get a burly old soft tail.  You can let your hair grow really  long and stringy, you can quit shaving, we can park our bikes in the living room, you can drink Miller Genuine Draft from the can all day....  We'll be the neighbors everyone fears most.  We'll be white trash and proud of it."
     "So you'd be okay with me growing out a big mountain man beard?  You'd still love me?"
     "Of course I'd still love you.  I'd never kiss you again, but I'd still love you."
     I yelled to Angel, "Are you hearing this?  Are you listening to the abuse I take?"
     Angel replied, "No. Just....  No.  The very thought of  you with a biker beard is too frightening to consider.  After you two  buy your Harleys, you're already gonna walk around like you each have a fourteen inch dick.  And Lenny with a biker beard.  That would be so wrong in so many ways."
     "But right in so many others!" said Bekka.  She had found the lid off a five gallon bucket and we were using it like a Frisbee.  From the smell of it, there was no question it had contained pickles during its working life.
     I checked my watch.  It was a quarter to five in the morning, later than I expected.  Dandy, I thought, I'm entering the "time warp" phase of amphetamine abuse.  That's when time either moves much too quick or much too slowly, and you're never quite sure, so you find yourself staring at your watch for minutes at a time, hoping the rhythm syncs up with you.  It never does, not until you put down the drugs and get some damn sleep.
     Angel and Bekka were sitting at a bench, smoking cigarettes.  I walked up to them and said, "Hey kids, ready to  go home now.  Anyone want another shake?  Speak now, or forever hold your piss."
     They were ready.  They wandered to the car, both of them twisting and stretching.  Angel gave off a yawn which stretched his face to twice its normal size.  "Damn buddy!  Hoping to catch moths like that?" I prodded.
     "No, flies.  They're chewier," he responded.
     "Ew, gross!" said Bekka.
     "I personally refuse to take an 'ew gross' from a woman who once sat in our living room expounding on her ability to suss out another woman's diet by the texture and viscosity of their menstrual fluid."  I told Bekka.
     "Ew, gross!," said Angel.  "You're not kidding, are you Lenny?"
     "Nope.  And we were eating pizza at the time.  Such lovely imagery: one woman chasing down another woman's sanitary napkin, then playing with it to determine fluid thickness and slipperiness.  Fantastic dinnertime conversation, lemme tell ya."
     Bekka said, "Hey, menstruating is one of those things that happen so the species can continue on.  I've heard what childbirth is like.  Men are all wusses, if men were the ones who had babies the species would die out."
      I told her, "Hey.  If men were the ones who had babies, homosexuality would be considered an art form.  At least in the first world."


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