Angela and I departed for our motel around midnight. Bekka was happy for the company but finally had to plead exhaustion. No surprise there, given what she'd been through that day. I considered crashing out in one of the chairs, but Bekka called that silly: there was nothing I could accomplish by being there all night, I'd be back in the morning, and hopefully we'd all have had a good night's rest.
Arriving at the motel, Angela and I went to the office to pick up our keys. I was carrying everything that Angela had with her: a suitcase, a smaller case, and a garment bag which seemed to be stuffed full. I got everything into the room, complaining that Angela lived the stereotype when it came to women and packing for travel.
"Would you care for a drink, Lenny? As it happens I have a pint of Johnnie Walker in my suitcase," said Angela.
"Sure, lemme go get some ice," I said, and aimed out the door.
When I returned Angela had changed out of her day's clothes and into a pair of shiny, slinky-looking pajamas. They were flattering. She poured us both strong drinks using the glasses from the bathroom. I fired up the TV just to add some noise to the room. We clinked glasses and took sips.
After our second drink Angela produced a bag of cocaine and chopped us each out a line. I sat on the edge of the bed and riffed on the cheesy old movie playing on channel six, adding extra dialogue and commentary. Angela found this to be hilarious and hooted with laughter while I riffed.
When I finished my fourth drink I decided it was time for bed, if not well past. Angela gave me a big hug and a kiss on the mouth.... At the end of which she slipped me some tongue. Oh boy, I'm playing with fire now. I kissed her back and slid my hand up her hip to her chest, cupping the left one.
Then I broke off.
Angela looked confused. I told her, "Look, you're really groovy and you kiss fantastic, but I know where we'd be headed and I don't want to go there. I don't want to hurt Bekka that way, and I don't believe you want to hurt Angel that way. After Bekka cheated on me, I promised myself that I would never engage in the same sort of betrayal with her. Hell, you know what happened, you can understand where I'm coming from.
"Besides, you're married to a jealous man. He's already worked up about you being down here with me to begin with, how do you think he'd react if he found out you and I were exchanging dental records? He'd flip, and he'd reach for his gun. One or both of us would disappear, no doubt about it."
Angela knelt in the center of the bed. She said, "I know you're right. I cannot help myself. You have intrigued me from the first time I laid eyes on you. That, and you make me laugh, which is an aphrodisiac for any woman."
She slid to the edge of the bed and looked up at me. "Remember, you do not have to sleep alone if you do not wish. I would very much enjoy your company."
I could feel myself going pink. I said, "I'm really flattered and all, and like I said, I think you're really groovy. But there are too many practical and emotional pitfalls involved with us hooking up. We'd destroy our marriages, not to mention the massive guilt complex I'd suffer from. Hell, Bekka called you the night I caught her with our cameraman, you know the frame of mind she was in. I'd just do the same thing, at least until Angel shot me."
She gave me a teasing look and said, "You know, women don't like men who are always right about things."
"Oh, I know. I pretend to be dumb for Bekka's benefit all the time. Goodnight." With that I went out and headed towards my own room, all by myself.
I was up at eight the next morning, with the intention of getting business taken care of early so I could spend all day with Bekka. My first call was to the property manager at our complex.
"Hello Bobby, this is Leonard Schneider in unit fourteen. I'm assuming you heard what happened yesterday?"
Bobby sounded confused. "I didn't get in until late last night. Why, what happened?"
"Bekka was nearly stabbed to death. She's in the ICU at Scripps Hospital right now."
"My God!" exclaimed Bobby.
"What I was calling about," I continued, "is finding what carpet place you use, so I can match the style. The carpet in our living room is ruined, and I'm happy to just call Crime Scene Cleaners and the carpet place and have them sort everything out."
"How did the carpet get ruined?" asked Bobby.
I explained, "Seven pints of human blood. Bekka nearly bled out where she lay after catching the knife to her chest. The carpet is soaked."
"Look, don't worry about a thing. I'll take care of all of this. You don't have a thing to worry about, I'll deal with getting the carpet taken care of." For some reason, Bobby sounded slightly panicked. Oh well, if he felt like doing my job for me....
My next call was to Angel. I wasn't about to kid myself and think I would get any work done while Bekka was in the hospital. I wanted to see if either he or Vinny would be willing to take over Inana for three days, until Bekka was comfortably ensconced at home.
Angel volunteered to come down, which was fine by me. Having him around would pretty much guarantee Angela would have to be on her best manners. Her revelation about having a long-term interest in me still blew me away. I don't regard myself as particularly ugly, I was healthily thin, and I have good manners.... It's always a complete corker to learn some woman considers me physically desirable. I don't see it, myself.
I showered, dressed, and headed out the door for our house. I wanted to take care of Squeak and see if there was anything I could do to help Bobby. As it happened, he had plunged forward into the work, lifting the old carpet and cutting it off for the guys from Carpeteria. Stopping to wipe his brow, Bobby told me the new carpet would be in by five that night, and yes, he'd appreciate the help getting the old carpet to the dumpster.
I filled Squeak's water bowl and automatic feeder, then headed back to the motel to collect Angela. We'd agreed the night before that we'd just carpool to the hospital, as soon as I took care of my business.
"Your husband will be joining us," I told her as we drove.
"Coming down to run Inana?"
"Exactly. He'll also act a deterrent against stupid decisions on my part," I said.
"Look, about last night...." Angela started to say.
I held up a hand. "Don't worry about it. To keep things simple in our respective marriages, I suggest we act as though those kisses never happened. And any interest we have in each other should get filed away under 'A Nice Thought' and left there, undisturbed."
"And do you have an interest in me?" she asked demurely.
"Angela, you are a beautiful woman. No straight male would not have an interest in you. My curiosity is piqued by your stated interest in me."
Angela smiled and said, "I cannot lie. I've always been turned on by the skateboard punks on Hollywood Boulevard. They seemed so tough and so brave, utterly fearless. Then when you were recruited by Angel, it was like having a fantasy come to life, even if you didn't ride a skateboard. Then I got to know you and found you were intelligent and funny, which I wasn't expecting at all. It's been hard on me, being attracted to you.
"But you are right. Just as you cannot hurt your friend Angel, I cannot hurt my friend Bekka. And neither of us wish to wound our spouse. In retrospect, I'm glad we stopped at two kisses and you copping a brief feel last night. I think we would not have been happy when we woke up this morning if we'd spent the night together."
"Exactly," I said. "And look at it this way: with us never having fooled around, the fantasy sex will always be fantastic!" Angela laughed. "By the way, we've been sitting in the parking lot for a few minutes now. Why don't we go and see if Bekka is awake?"
Bekka was awake. In fact, she'd had breakfast at her own insistence, reportedly wolfing down scrambled eggs, toast, and a fruit cup. No surprise: given all the blood she'd lost, her body needed fuel to generate fresh blood.
I continued my new-found tradition of bursting into tears every time I saw her. I bent down to hug her and she embraced me weakly, her oxygen hose getting tangled around my neck chain. Angela waited patiently for her own hug. Then we sat.
"Well, at least you have the whole room to yourself," I observed.
Bekka said, "Actually, there is someone over there. I'm not sure if they're out of it on drugs or in a persistent vegetative state or what. But they never move around, they make no noise, and they don't take meals."
"So what is your prognosis?" asked Angela.
"No clue," Bekka replied. "They took a blood draw from me around six this morning and I'm supposed to see the doctor at some point before lunch. I don't feel so bad except for being so damn tired, so I'm hoping they say I can go home this afternoon."
"Doubt it," I said. "They had to put your right lung back together like a jigsaw puzzle. They want to make sure it's working right before kicking you loose. It's gonna be a couple days."
"Dammit Lenny, get me out of here," my wife muttered to me. "There's only so many naps a person can take out of boredom. Just 'cos I'm tired doesn't mean I'm sleepy. Come on, use your mob ties to spring me."
"Just be glad Dr. Liu wasn't the one working on you this time. The way you bled out you would have died on Angel's dining room table while he was still sewing. Mob ties aren't a cure-all. Good for gunshot wounds, bad for massive trauma."
I shifted in my chair. My ass was falling asleep. "How much of the attack do you remember?" I asked. "Do you remember anything about the attacker?"
As if on cue Lieutenant Donner walked in and introduced himself to Bekka. He stood at the foot of the bed and asked her what I just had. Bekka said, "I know for a fact the dude had a black ski mask on. My memories are blurry, but not that blurry. I'd at least have a flesh-shaped area where his face would be. I can even see the eye holes in the mask. Beyond that, though, I don't remember anything of the attack. I know I got messed up pretty bad but I don't remember feeling anything, not the fists or the knife. It's just blank."
"You're not trying to protect anyone, are you?" he asked, sending a pointed glare my way.
"What? No," replied Bekka. "I take it by that little glance you think Lenny had something to do with it. Forget that, okay? If Lenny was gonna get rid of me he'd just tell me about the women he's fucked at work. I'd be gone in a hot second. No, you're not going to be able to go with the easy answers this time around."
"And has Lenny often had sex with his coworkers?" Donner asked.
It was Angela's turn to snort and laugh derisively. "You cannot call many of those women coworkers of Lenny's. It is an insult to Lenny to do so. No, those women use their bodies to gain favor, be it political or financial."
"Where do you work, Lenny?"
"I run Inana Productions up in La Costa. It's a video production company, generating original titles weekly."
Bekka spoke up. "It's a porn production company. That's why he would have the opportunity to fuck so many different women."
"Which I don't want to, because I'm married," I threw in. Bekka beamed at me.
"And who else in this room works in adult film?" asked Donner.
Angela said, "I am a retired performer. I still seem to watch plenty of it, though."
Bekka said, "I'm a current performer.... At least I hope I still am. It all depends on how much scar tissue is visible, and whether plastic surgery can take care of the problem. Then I can go back to sucking and fucking in front of cameras."
I volunteered, "My job is real boring. I'm the guy who sends out invoices and signs the checks. Sure, I get to interview potential porno queens, but even that can get boring, when you're working on your tenth interviewee of the afternoon and there's still six left and you realize the girl you're talking to needs a hint to spell her own name correctly. Then it's a drag."
Lieutenant Donner said, "Okay, that's all the information I need for now. Bekka, please call me at Encinitas PD should you start to recall things more clearly. Good morning."
"So he thinks you're the one who tried to off me?" asked Bekka. "Now I know why you gave him the cold shoulder."
"Yeah, well, it was the first thing out of his mouth to me. Asking why I'd just stabbed the woman who I'd just finished placing in an ambulance. That and I get the impression he's dummy-chucking people, acting simple so people underestimate him. No. You don't become a lieutenant for any PD if you're a moron."
"Do you think he's going to investigate Inana?" suggested Angela.
"Naw," I said. "First of all, he has an unsolved attempted murder he needs to take care of. He doesn't have time for vice busts. Besides, Inana is pure as the driven snow. We have no complaints, no busts, no legal age challenges, no nothin'. We're clean."
Bekka said, "And with eight showers scattered around the mansion, we intend to stay that way."