On Saturday two men whom I vaguely recognized but did not know showed up at my door at eight a.m.
This was not a good hour for me on a Saturday, particularly this Saturday. The day before Bekka and I had received a three month eviction notice from the property owners. Between the stabbings and the police and the strange hours we kept and the car blowing up we were a detriment to the complex. They were rather polite about it, but we seemed to draw chaos to ourselves, and that was a threat to both the solitude of our neighbors and the well being of their townhouse. We had to go. Three months should be plenty of time for us to locate and move into a new place.
Bekka and I had stayed up late, listening to MDC and railing at the fates. And doing too many drugs. By three a.m.I'd reached a conclusion.
"Look, we could just move into the mansion...."
"I know that," said Bekka.
"..... But we both know we'd hate it. Maybe it's time to take the plunge and buy a place. A condo, or a beach house. We've got the money, the income, and the credit. Let's start looking around for a permanent home."
I shrugged. "Shit, I dunno. We'll start by checking out those 'homes for sale' magazines they have by the exit of the Safeway. Then we contact a realtor. We explain to the realtor the crunch we're under, maybe they'll have something where escrow fell through and we can pick up the pieces."
We went to bed around 5:30 with a new goal in mind: become homeowners.
Anyway, here are these two guys in their forties on my porch at way too early of an hour. They're wearing golf shirts, slacks, and tasseled loafers. I know I've seen them before, but I can't place where. I squinted out at them and simply said, "Yeah?"
"Lenny! Lenny the punk!" exclaimed the thinner of the two. "How the hell you doing? Haven't seen you since that big party Vinny and Chrissie threw in Encino."
That was the hint I needed. These were fellow mafioso, a couple made men used to the machinations of the family. We'd been introduced by Angel at the party. Now if I could just remember their names....
"Um, c'mon in," I said. "I'll get some coffee going. I have to apologize, I don't remember your names. Who are you?"
The thin one said, "I'm Bud."
The shorter heavyset one declared, "I'm Lou."
"I'll try to remember those," I said. "I'm sorry, but I'm running on very little sleep, so if I seem confused, that's why. I got some bad news yesterday. So to what do I owe this honor?"
"What bad news?" asked Lou.
"Aw, I found out we're being evicted. We've got three months to get out."
"That sucks," said Bud.
"Yeah." I began rattling around in the kitchen, putting together the coffee pot. I asked, "So, uh, what brings you by?"
Bud smiled, "Us? We're on vacation. We thought we'd stick our heads in and say howdy, take a little time off from staring at young girls on the beach and deep sea fishing. That, and Angel said you were having some trouble, so I thought we'd see if we could help."
This froze me. "I thought the family wasn't willing to help out."
Lou said, "Yeah, but we've got people threatening an associate, and that won't do. The family can't help out with your friend Boss, but they'll help with you. Bombing that hot rod of yours was a rotten trick. The people who did it need to learn a lesson."
"There's a lot less of them to worry about," I told the gentlemen. "They blew up their own clubhouse a few days ago, nine were killed, and I think a dozen are still in the hospital. Boss rode by their bar a couple days ago and there were only three bikes out front, at nine at night. They've been shattered pretty bad.... But they still destroyed the Falcon, even after their ranks were decimated."
"Wonder why they didn't come after you directly," said Bud.
"My guess is they don't know which unit is ours, and are human enough to not just randomly bomb townhouses in the hopes they get one right. Ah, by the way, how did you guys get in here this morning?"
Lou smiled and pulled two thin pieces of metal out of his pocket, tossing them in the air. "The lock on your pedestrian gate is a pushover. Didn't take me three seconds to get in."
"So anyway, Lenny," said Bud, "what needs to be done?"
I held my hands up. "I don't have a clue. Our goal is to simply be left alone: me, Bekka, and Boss. We could care less about the club or what they're up to. We don't give a shit about justice, we just want peace and quiet. And whether the family likes it or not, Boss is part of the package. Our involvement with Boss is the reason the Falcon was destroyed. We're intertwined."
Lou said, "Officially, the family does not care about Lenny The Punk's hassles with a motorcycle gang in San Diego. Unofficially, many of us feel that you have had a rough time of it ever since you became an associate. Wild shit always seems to happen when you're around, through no fault of your own. I mean, I don't think anyone else can say that their wife has killed for the family besides you. No one else nearly got kidnapped doing a paperwork delivery. No one else's wife nearly died thanks to a closet faggot who wanted to protect the man he loved. And despite all this, you still run Inana like a champ, cranking out good material and turning a profit. You're generally considered to be a good egg, and if members of the family can help alleviate some of the stress in your life, we will. So. What can we do to help?"
I shook my head like a dog and said, "I have no fuckin' idea. Figure out some way of convincing the Hellbound to lay off, lick their wounds, and find some other way of amusing themselves. Okay, so the family does not care about them trying to take over Boss's meth labs. Fine. But the end result of any show of force that points back to me will be that Boss will get left alone, too. In their heads, we're connected, and we are. Me, Bekka, and Boss are kind of a team."
Bud leaned forward. "Would it be safe to say that all your actions have been defensive so far?"
I sat on the arm of the love seat, listening to the coffee bubble. "That's a fair assessment. Our whole goal was to protect Boss. Now we're protecting Boss and ourselves."
"Then it's time to go on the offensive," said Lou, clapping his hands together.
"How so?" I asked.
"We don't have a fucking clue. But it gives us something to think about besides teenage girls in bikinis," said Bud.
Lou asked, "So where's this bar they hang around at?"
I told him, "It's on El Cajon Boulevard. I can show you on a map, it's called the Alley Cat. The place is just a dive they took over, mostly due to its proximity to prostitution along that strip."
"What, these guys are way into hookers?" asked Lou.
"As a source of income," I explained.
The coffee was ready, so I grabbed three mugs and filled them, calling out to see who wanted cream and sugar. In the kitchen I realized that all this conversation had taken place with me wearing nothing but boxer shorts that reeked of sex. I excused myself after handing out the mugs, pulling on jeans and a Faith No More t-shirt. I rejoined my guests and we continued our banter.
"Well, I think I know where we'll go for drinks tonight," said Bud. "We'll get a feel for the place and its inhabitants. They got a pool table?"
"They sure do," I confirmed. "You're gonna go play billiards with those guys?"
"Against whoever's playing. It'll be a good opportunity to eavesdrop."
Just then Bekka wandered into the room, wakened by the voices and the smell of coffee. She yawned into the back of her hand, clad in a tank top and thong underwear. I could tell by their faces just how happy this made Bud and Lou. They began applauding.
Lou cried, "Hooray! Our favorite porno queen! Hey Bekka, how you doing? Come make a dirty old man happy and give me a hug."
"Suck my dick," Bekka replied. "Who are you guys?"
"I'm Lou and this is Bud. We met you at Vinny and Chrissie's party months back. C'mon, we did coke together!"
Bekka frowned at the two of them. She said, "Oh yeah. You, you're the one who asked me how attached I was to my wedding band, and Bud kept trying to feed me drinks. Small wonder the two of you are working in conjunction. S'matter, Hollywood running short on underage hookers right now?"
I stood and faced the two of them. "Is this true?" I asked.
They cowered slightly. "Honest Lenny, we didn't know she was with you until later," said Bud. "We left her alone after that."
"Well.... Okay." I sat back down. I doubted I was the only angry husband these two had ever faced, but the others probably hadn't been fellow members of the family. In a moment of clarity I saw how guns can turn domestic disputes into bloodbaths. Given my foul mood and overall loopiness, I wouldn't have hesitated to point my Beretta at them and ask for an explanation as to what Bekka had alluded to.
Bekka went to get some coffee. If Bud and Lou stared any harder her butt would have caught fire. I returned to the subject at hand.
"So you think you'll learn something by going to that bar? For chrissakes don't let on as to who you are, or that you know me. That'd poison things real quick."
Lou said, "We're just gonna have some drinks, shoot some pool, and keep our ears open. It's a simple way of getting information. We'll just be two guys who stopped in a bar."
"That works," I said. "And dig this, if things get hostile beat a quick retreat. Those guys have an 'all on one' policy when it comes to fighting. They'll swarm you."
"Got it." Lou drained the last of his coffee, as did Bud. They stood to leave. "Okay Lenny, we'll call you tonight and let you know what we've learned. You two have a good morning. Oh, and Bekka, we both love your videos! See ya." Out they went.
"Well, that wasn't how I expected to start my morning," said Bekka, going for a refill. "I swear, if you turn into a perv like them when you're in your forties I'm having you neutered."
"Just be glad they didn't show up at the mansion mid-week. They'd have snapped and started humping the furniture."
"So you think they'll get anything done? I've written them off as clowns."
I held my hands up. "I don't know, they must be good for something, otherwise the family would have carted them off to El Centro or Bakersfield. Call me an optimist, but my hunch is that they can be professional when they need to."
Through the open door I watched them amble up the walkway towards the exit, a couple guys in early middle age who gave every impression of taking life as a joke. They got in an E class Mercedes parked just outside the gate. Easygoing, quick to smile, quick to laugh, not too concerned with anything. I decided that I'd just met the two most dangerous men in the Southern California mafia. They couldn't be anything else.
Not five minutes passed before we had another visitor, in the form of Lieutenant Donner. He knocked on the door loudly, leaning against the frame.
When I opened the door he said, "You know, Lenny, you can kid my patrolmen but you can't kid me. How about you telling me who you think blew up that Ford shitbox of yours so I can get some work done."
"Nice to see you too, Donner," I said. "I was surprised you weren't here for the festivities. Your patronizing attitude and useless questions would have rounded out the morning. So what can I do for you?"
"Just what I asked. Tell me who blew up your car."
"I don't know."
He rubbed his mustache with a thumb. "So you said, and I didn't believe you then, either. What makes you so stubborn?"
"You're confusing obstinacy with ignorance," I told him. "I'm none too happy about losing the Falcon, and my wife is heartbroken. Don't you think I'd say something if I had any idea?"
Donner frowned. He said, "If you had some ulterior motive, damn right you'd keep it a secret. Just like the people who shot at your friend. You want to find them yourself."
I laughed at him.
He scowled again and changed the subject. "So with your hot rod gone, you and Bekka are stuck sharing your little Jap car, I suppose."
"No, we've already replaced the Falcon. You walked right past it.," I said, pointing at the Fury.
He spun and stared at where I was pointing, then walked over and strolled around it as if he couldn't make up his mind whether it was a mirage or not. I grinned over at him.
"It's a 1970 Plymouth Sport Fury, and in my experience with it, it eats up the road like you wouldn't believe. It's Bekka's new daily driver. Pretty, ain't she?"
Donner walked back over to where I was standing. "Just how the hell did you get a hold of a different car so quickly, anyway? You can't have collected from the insurance company already."
I expanded my grin. "That right there was a gift. Our friend Boss picked it up for us out of the goodness of his heart. He was sad to hear of our loss."
"So that damn biker just went out and bought you a new hot rod."
"And gave it to you, no strings attached."
"You got it. We're tight."
"How do you know it isn't stolen?" Donner exclaimed.
I laughed again. "I think they would have mentioned that to us at the DMV when we did the transfer of title on Monday. They're picky about that shit."
"I'm telling my patrolmen to watch for this car," he steamed. "You go one mile an hour over the speed limit and you get pulled in on a reckless driving charge."
"Does that go for Bekka as well? After all, it's her car."
I sighed and said, "It's been a while since I've said it, but it applies here: fuck you, officer. Go chew on somebody who's breaking the law for a while. Me and Bekka are clean."
"So you claim. I don't believe it." Donner began stalking back to his station wagon.
As he drove off, Bekka came up behind me. "What did he want?" she asked.
"Aw, just the usual bullshit I've come to expect from the lieutenant. Mind your driving while you're in Encinitas, he plans on siccing his uniforms on us."
She rubbed up against me. "Let's go back to bed until noon."
"Are we going to do any sleeping?"