The next morning I called Boss to let him know what had transpired over the last couple of days. Like me, he hoped the Hellbound would keep their (rather coerced) word and leave us all alone.
"I tell ya Lenny, knowin' there's people out there who wanna kill ya really shits in your gas tank. I've hardly touched any dope in the past week, but you'd never guess by how I've been living. I haven't slept a full night's sleep in who knows how long, I ain't eating right, my face is breaking out.... Brother, I'm a wreck."
I told him, "Well, go do some grocery shopping, pick up some Clearasil, and get a bottle of Jack Daniels and get a buzz on with Chet and Gary, because you're allowed to relax now. In an indirect way, the mafia has your back. If the Hellbound come after you, it's like they're coming after us. We just gotta get them to aim at me and Bekka, and the hammer will fall on that club. You have no worries."
"Okay, if you won't worry, I won't. Hey, you wanna go out to the desert today? The new Airstreams are showing up and going onto slabs."
"Sorry, I've got work. Maybe me and Bekka can go out over the weekend."
"Sounds good. I kin show you how to run a meth lab, maybe convince you to leave that business you're in for something honest, haw!"
"I always got Cs in high school science class."
"Yeah, but doin' this, you're learning how to make money! That's the big difference."
"I'll think it over. Anyway, I've got a few girls coming in for interviews this morning, so I should sign off."
"Right on," Boss said. A brief pause. "You really think it's over with?"
I inserted my own pause. "I really do. We made it crystal clear that them monkeying around with us would be a suicide run on their part."
"Okay. Is it okay with you if I still call you in the mornings for a few days?"
"That's fine, Boss. No problem."
"Thanks for everything."
"It's what friends are for. Later."
Bekka found something in the real estate listings that intrigued us both: an empty lot. Not just any empty lot, but one overlooking the beach from a low bluff, and right in Encinitas. It would seem that there had been a house there in the past, but it had burned to the ground and for whatever reasons, the owner couldn't or wouldn't rebuild. Starting from scratch and building a home we both liked had a lot of appeal.
We drove over with the realtor, a Ms. Keyes, and admired the view. "Yeah, the entire west side of this place is going to be glass," Bekka said. I asked about height limitations on the building: the slab for the original home was still there, and it didn't have a big footprint.
The realtor told me, "You can build out to the lot line, that will give you some extra room. As far as height goes, I believe the limit is forty-eight feet, or four stories. Basically you can go as tall as those townhouses at the end of the street. You'd be able to have parking plus three stories of living space."
"What about utilities?" asked Bekka.
"This--- " the realtor tapped her foot on a round cap in the cement " ---is your sewer line. That over there is your water line. The gas line is right there," she said, pointing. "Your phone, electricity, and cable all just have to have the wires run from the lines."
"Is there anything about the property we should know about?" I asked.
"You mean, like are the neighbors unrepentant white trash, or is this actually an old Indian burial site?" she smiled. "No, that's the nice thing about buying land: what you see is what you get, really."
Bekka said, "As you can guess, we need to discuss this further before making a decision, but building our own home has a lot of appeal. Would you like us to drive you back to your office, or would you like some dinner?"
"Thank you for the offer, I do have some things to take care of at the office, but I could stand a bite. Tell me, what kind of car is it, anyway?"
I spoke up. "It's a 1970 Plymouth Sport Fury. It's Bekka's daily driver. Me, I drive an Acura to work."
The realtor said, "You're sure you wouldn't mind parking it at the beach every night? All that chrome?"
"Naw, you just apply some of that chrome protectant stuff and you're good," I said. "We're already living in Encinitas, so we get ocean fog on a routine basis."
Over dinner, the realtor asked, "So how did you plan on financing? You'll be borrowing the money for both the land and for building the house."
"Through our bank," I said. We've got the savings, we've got the good credit, we've got the income, and we've got excellent references, people who will back up the loan with their own property if need be. We're well connected."
"And what do you two do for a living?"
"We're in porn," said Bekka. "I'm a performer, Lenny is the C.O.O. for the studio. It's a lucrative field to be in."
"I.... See. And you both feel you have job stability?" the realtor asked.
"Absolutely," I said. "Bekka has been a performer for seven years, and is at the point where she gets recognized on the street. Me, I've learned all the ins and outs of administrating a studio to where I could go anywhere in the industry and land a job. But we're both happy with where we're at. It's a studio that I make sure turns a profit, the owners love me, we're both having fun.... Yeah, I'd say we're stable."
While we were having coffee the realtor announced she needed to make a phone call and excused herself. Bekka and I immediately began to confer.
"I think we should take it," I said. "Even if we somehow bungle getting the house built, we'd still be sitting on beachfront property, which would just be worth more and more every year."
"Good point," said Bekka. "But let's not bungle the house. We already knew we'd be living in the mansion for a while, we knew that when we decided we were buying a place. Being stuck there for a year will suck."
"Yeah, I know. God, listen to us, bitching about having to live in a mansion."
"A mansion we work in. While we'll save gas money on our commute, we're probably going to sacrifice a lot of our privacy."
I said, "So as soon as the lot hits escrow, we start hunting down a good architect, one that listens to us and knows beach properties. What the hell, I'll pick the brains of the property managers at those townhouses down the street, find out who they used. That's an architect that knows how to arrange things vertically."
"So have we decided? We're buying the lot?" asked Bekka.
"I think we are," I replied. "When she comes back, we'll let the realtor know of our decision."
The realtor positively squealed with joy when we imparted our news. "I'm so happy for the both of you! We can go to my office and start on the paperwork. I hope you two aren't too averse to paperwork, because you'll be seeing a lot of it between now and when you move in to your completed house."
"You'd be surprised at the amount of legal forms that go into producing porn," I told her.
"You'll have to explain it sometime," she said.
Two days later Lieutenant Donner stopped by, keeping tabs on me, seeing if I had anything new to tell him about the Falcon being blown up. I didn't.
"We were just about to head out for some dinner, officer. Care to join us?" I offered.
"No thanks, Lenny. Still gonna hold out on me about who blew your hot rod up, huh?"
I shrugged. "I don't have any choice, because I don't have any information. Like I've said before, you're confusing ignorance with obstinacy. Besides, don't you think I'd tell you if I knew who did it?"
Donner showed me his teeth and said, "If you had something to gain by holding out, you would. I don't know what you'd gain, but you'd somehow be trying to profit from the explosion. Get your insurance money yet?"
I said, "Yeah, and we're petitioning for more. The insurance company is treating it like an old car, not the custom machine it was. I'm just glad Bekka is happy with her Plymouth. She'll always drive hot rods, and I want her to like the one she's in."
"That's right, your biker friend bought that black shitbox for her, didn't he?"
"Yeah. Oh, speaking of buying things, I have news for you."
Donner squinted. "Oh yeah?"
"Big news," I said. "Bekka and I are going to be property owners right here in Encinitas."
He scoffed, "Oh, picking up a condo someplace?"
"No, we're buying an open beachfront lot over on Neptune St. We're going to build our own place."
Donner found this hilarious. "Okay, you're telling me you can get a hold of one of the few remaining lots anywhere in Encinitas --- I know how much they cost --- and you're going to build a custom home on it. You're full of shit, Lenny."
"My bank and the realtors don't seem to think so."
He went slightly drop-jawed. "You're serious."
"Oh yeah," I confirmed.
"And how are you paying for all this? From what you get making porn?"
"How else?" I asked.
He slapped the stucco next to the door. "Dammit Lenny, I know you're into something crooked, and I'm gonna figure out what. Little scumbags like you don't get the money for beachfront property just by making dirty movies."
Bekka came up from behind me. "Actually lieutenant, Lenny is in the mafia. That's why we live so comfortable."
"Thank you Bekka," Donner said. "I'll keep that in mind."
"No, it's true," I told him. "Why do you think I have a concealed carry permit? Where would I get the money for real estate deals in this town?"
Donner sighed. "Okay, we've reached the point where there's no hope of getting a serious answer out of either of you. Good night, Bekka. Get lost, Lenny." He began stomping back to his station wagon.
"Fuck you, officer," we chorused at him. Then we got Squeak off the walkway and went to dinner.
And seven weeks later Bekka and I became property owners.