The shooting in the club was as stressful as I imagined, and came out great.
Herding around seventy beer-buzzed punk rockers was a challenge, even before noon. We needed to give the impression of a thick crowd, so we moved them from the front of the club to the back as we saw fit. My performers were feeling intimidated at first --- I'd told the extras to come in their party clothes --- and were nervous about being around that many punks at once, but soon struck up conversations and relaxed.
We shot Chip and Rio's fuck scene on the stage while the Heywoods played, and it came out fantastic. The lead singer, dressed in a torn and filthy cheerleader's outfit, began hollering at the two, "You fuck, fuck, fuck, all day long! It's all you fucking know! Fine, fuck on my stage, see if I care! Fuck to this! 1-2-3-4...." And they launched into their next number. The footage of a girl with a violent blue haircut in a ruined cheerleader's uniform berating a couple while they screwed doggy style on the edge of a stage was priceless.
Death Scent played over a blowjob scene shot at the back of the club. We kept the extras circulating, giving the impression of a busy bar. Elspeth's mohawk, fanned up six inches and two inches wide, gave a good view of the action.
We filmed our dialogue scenes the second day while Crisis played. Mickey was sure he was getting good levels from the boom mike, so we didn't worry about having to dub in voices.
On Wednesday I had fifteen extras return for the bar scenes. This time the bar was open, with an actual barmaid working. I made it clear that the beer was still free, but if anyone wanted spirits they'd have to pay for them. It was a race to see what finished first, the filming or the last keg. For music, I put the Dwarves on the sound system, playing the same tape over and over. Bekka (playing a barmaid) thought the Dwarves were brilliant, as did I, while they frightened everyone else except for the Diver's Club barmaid, who also owned the record.
I felt bad about lying to the owner, as we allowed the extras to stick around for the fuck scene on the bar, Bekka taking on Eddie and Jackie at the same time. They stayed quiet, applauded at the end, and commented on how making porn was nothing like they thought it would be. The rest of our sex would be taking place in the sound stages back at the mansion. We still had some dialogue to shoot, but that would wait until Monday. After we wrapped and cleaned up, I wished everyone an enjoyable long weekend. I tipped Pill ten hits of Ecstasy, for which she was grateful. She'd been working by the light of a garage lamp clipped to a wall stud, and had been a trouper over the three days.
Monday is when things got bad.
The doorbell rang around ten in the morning. From down the hall I could hear Gina's chair squeak as she got up to get the door. And a few moments later I heard her call "Lenny!" in a funny quavering voice.
I got up to see what was the matter. Gina stood at the end of the hallway with a man dressed in camouflage and army boots. And he had an AR-15 jammed into Gina's neck, holding her by the hair. Instinctively my right hand started for the inside of my jacket, where my Beretta resided. I cut it off, as that would only get Gina killed.
"May I help you?" I asked, for lack of anything better to say.
"I want the harlots," was his reply.
"No harlots here, man," I told him. I made a perfect target in the hallway.
"You are the ones," he said. "You produce the sin, the filth. I am here to end it. This is your day of reckoning."
I swallowed and said, "It's me you want. I'm responsible for the filth. Let her go and you can do what you want with me." I mentally calculated who was up on the sound stage: both Steves, Mickey, Rita, Jeanette, Pill, plus Bekka, Elspeth, Jackie, Chip, and Eddie. The last five wouldn't have any clothes on right now.
I leaned against the wall and said, "Talk to me. What do you want? Let her go, she just works here."
"I am here to destroy sinners. I shall end your offense."
"Well then start with me," I told him. "She just answers the phones around here, she hasn't sinned."
He threw Gina to the floor and swung the rifle up towards me. I got my gun in my hand, but he was already pulling the trigger. Three bullets caught me below the left shoulder, sharp hammers knocking into me. I got the Beretta out and fired three times into his body, right in the target area. He stumbled backwards and stayed upright, not bleeding as I'd have expected. He growled, "You can't kill an angel." Then he stalked back out of the hallway.
My left arm was dead, numb to the fingertips. I got off the floor and stumbled after him. He was heading up the stairs towards the sound stages. I put four more rounds into his back. He fell forward.... Then stood back up again. Body armor, I thought. What a cheater. His trust in God to protect him only extended so far.
He turned and casually fanned the AR-15 in my general direction. Two more rounds caught me in my left leg, dropping me on the stairs. He continued upwards....
Bekka came around the end of the wall, naked as a babe except for her Colt Defender. She took a quarter second to assess the situation and fired four times into the attacker's chest, at near point-blank range. He pitched backwards, letting go of the rifle and falling down the stairs. Bekka dove forward, grabbing the rifle and pitching it into the living room. I managed to scramble forward and launch myself on top of him. He was reaching for a pocket so I shot him in the arm.
Bekka knelt on his neck, yelling, "Motherfucker, you shot my husband. I should kill you now," and punching him repeatedly in the head with the barrel of the Colt. I reached into the pocket he was after and pulled out a revolver, which I threw down with the AR-15. He lay still, but he wasn't fooling me.
I yelled out, "Gina! Call 911!"
"I already have!" came the reply.
"They still on the phone?"
"We'll need an ambulance, I'm not in such great shape." The mansion spun around me as I lay there trying to pin the attacker. Bekka, in the meantime, kept bashing her Colt into the attacker's skull, screaming that she was going to kill him. Maybe he was terrified: he had a naked woman with a gun kneeling on him, telling him he was going to die for what he'd done. I thought crazily, right now this dude's living out someone's wet dream.
Small Steve crept out and looked at the situation. I stared up at him and said, "Did we at least catch you at a good stopping spot? Because the shoot is over for the day, this place will be crawling with cops in a minute." Behind him Elspeth appeared, holding Bekka's tiny Beretta. She'd taken the time to pull on panties and a blouse.
Elspeth said, "Bekka, I hope you don't mind, I went through your purse for your other gun."
"You know how to use it?" asked Bekka.
"I'm from Texas."
I was starting to pass out from shock and blood loss, the adrenaline not being enough to keep me conscious. I said to Bekka, "If I fade away keep him covered. I'm not feeling too good." I could hear sirens quickly approaching.
The first sheriffs came in with guns drawn, which they immediately pointed at Bekka. "Not me, you assholes, the guy I'm kneeling on!" she cried. She stood up and relinquished her Colt. I rolled off the guy and lay there on the stairs, finally aware of just how much pain I was in.
The deputies took one look at me and got on the radio to tell the ambulance to hurry the hell up. One of them accidentally kicked me in the left shoulder while lifting the attacker off the stairs and I bleated with pain. They had him cuffed despite the hole I'd blown in his arm, believing the naked girl when she told them that he was very dangerous indeed.
Two ambulances arrived --- one for me, one for the attacker --- and I was situated on a back board, then lifted onto a gurney. Despite my pain, all I could think of was all the things I needed to take care of: calling Crime Scene Cleaners, rescheduling the shoots for the week, paperwork sitting on my desk, calming down my performers. I'd need to bring in a specialist company to repair the damage done to the marble and tile in the entryway and on the stairs. Bekka, still nude, stood next to the gurney saying she'd see me at the hospital, I'd be fine.
As they wheeled me out a deputy was escorting Bekka upstairs so she could get some clothes on. Then they had me in the back of the ambulance and a mask was put over my face and a needle went in my arm and everything faded to grey, then black.
When I woke up, the first thing I was aware of was how thirsty I was. I could barely get my tongue off the roof of my mouth. The second thing was a stuttering hissing sound coming from my right. I looked towards the sound and saw Bekka with a paper towel to her face, wiping her eyes. I managed to crack my jaws open and said, "We've got to stop meeting each other like this."
She came out of her chair and put her arms around me, avoiding my left shoulder. She sniffled and said, "Welcome back, baby."
"So where am I?" I asked.
"You're at Scripps. You were in surgery for four hours, otherwise you'd have lost the use of your left arm. Your leg is just a flesh wound, it's not a big deal, but the bullets tore up your tendons and shit in your shoulder. They said another inch lower and you'd have been a goner, it would have hit your heart. I'm just glad to have you back."
"Where's the bastard that shot me?" I asked.
"In another room, under armed guard. In fact, you've got a guard at your door too. They're still not sure if he was acting alone or not, so they're being cautious with you."
Through the door I could see the legs of someone in tan uniform pants sitting in a chair. He shifted, stood up, and came into the room.
"You're conscious," he said. "I'll let Detective Donner know."
"Wait a minute," I said. "Detective Donner? From Encinitas?"
"Yes," he replied, and went out. Bekka shrugged at me.
The monument to male pattern baldness that I knew as Lieutenant Donner walked into the room, a smile creasing his face. He looked pleased to see me, if for no other reason I couldn't get up and walk away from him. I couldn't wait to hear what he had to say.
"Lenny! Trouble does follow you around, doesn't it?"
"So it would seem," I said. "Congratulations on your promotion.... But aren't you out of your jurisdiction?"
"I work for the sheriff's office now. The promotion was part of the deal. No, you're in my jurisdiction no matter where you are in the county now. So tell me, what did you do that made that man shoot you?"
"I made porn."
Donner looked surprised. "That's all?"
"I'm assuming you interviewed him, or someone has. He came to kill my performers. By the way he talked, he's a religious nut, has read over Leviticus too many times and decided to destroy some sinners."
Donner pulled out a micro-cassette recorder and said, "If you're up to it, I'd like you to tell me what happened."
I gave him an overview, filling in details as I saw fit. I asked, "Tell me Donner, was he wearing Kevlar?"
"That he was. You two pumped quite a bit of lead at him, and the only shot that connected was the one in his arm. You're lucky in one way: that assault rifle wasn't set up for full auto. He had three full clips with him, and could have just sprayed bullets anywhere he wanted."
"How are my performers? Are they all okay?"
Donner rubbed his nose. "They're a bit rattled, as one would expect. Some guy named Steve Stillman was managing things when I was at the mansion. Listen, I've gotta see about transferring the prisoner down to the main jail, if the doctors will let me. And you're not done being interviewed, all three news stations are here, plus the paper, waiting to see you. You're a celebrity. I'll talk to you soon, Lenny." And with that he went out.
Bekka sighed and said, "I'll take care of the press as best I can if you want. Can I get you anything?"
I said, "Yeah, something to drink. If you can, smuggle up some Mountain Dew for me."
"You got it, babe." She gave me a kiss and went out. A nurse came in a few moments later with a cup full of ice chips.
"How are you feeling?" asked the nurse.
"Sore but okay. When can I leave? I have a lot of business to take care of."
"You'll be here for a couple of days, to make sure they got all the bleeding stopped. You took four units of blood before surgery, and a couple more during."
Bekka returned with my Mountain Dew a half hour later. She looked peeved. "I swear, they all ask the same things over and over," she said.
"Like what?" I asked.
"Oh, they wanted to know if we would continue to produce video. Absolutely, I told them. We won't be bullied. Not one of them asked how you were doing."
"They know I'm alive, and that's good enough. They also presumably know that I'm not crippled, like Larry Flynt, so that takes the pressure off. I can't wait to explain all this to my parents."
Bekka said, "I've already talked to them. They were horrified, like I expected them to be. They'll be by to visit."
I sighed and said, "I'll be sure to load up on painkillers beforehand. Who knows what their reaction will be to this."
"This may be cynical of me, but I doubt they'll say anything new. And you can point out the number of lives you saved by having your Beretta with you."
"Do you mind if I close my eyes for a few minutes? I'm feeling tired."
"I know exactly how you feel. I'll be right here, I've got a book."
I shut my eyes and slept. For about ten minutes. Then there was a disturbance in the hallway. I looked over questioningly to Bekka.
"I'm not positive, but I think I hear Angel's voice," she said.
And she was right. On Bekka's call, he had come down from Los Angeles to see me and help take care of things. The confrontation was between him and the deputy at my door, the deputy refusing to let him in. Angel was having none of it. Bekka went out to try and smooth things over.
Angel came in grumbling about county employees and tugging at his collar. He looked down at me and said, "So Lenny, how's my favorite bullet magnet?" Upon him saying this, Bekka burst into tears and sank in her chair. He went over to comfort her.
"I'm sorry Bekka," he said, "it was just a joke."
"There's too much truth to it," she sobbed.
I said, "But nothing can kill me, or you. Remember?"
"Right now what I need is a drink and a line of anything."
Angel pulled a vial out of his pocket and handed it to Bekka. "Here, go in the bathroom with that for a minute," he said. She headed in.
Angel put his chin in his hand and said, "My God, Lenny. Tell me what happened."
I gave him the whole scene, with a bit more detail than I'd provided to Donner. Bekka came out of the john in the middle and filled in her own information: hearing the shots, grabbing her gun and charging out the door of the sound stage naked. Plugging the guy in the chest and being horrified when he didn't start bleeding. Talking to the deputies, still naked. Getting all the other performers calmed down and letting them know what happened.
Angel took all this in and then said, "What needs doing?"
"Get me the hell out of here," I told him.
Bekka said, "You took five bullets today. They're not letting you go for a little while. Angel and I can handle business."
"Fine," I said. "First of all, find out when the mansion stops being a crime scene so we can get back to work. Second, call Crime Scene Cleaners to put things right. Third, make sure none of our performers have jumped ship in a panic. Fourth, sit down with Small Steve and rework what remains of the shooting schedule. That's what comes to mind. I know I'm forgetting things right now, so if you two have any ideas, let me know."
"I own the mansion, so the cops have to talk to me," said Angel. "All of this can wait until tomorrow. In the meantime, you rest. I'm down here for several days. Even after they release you, I want you to take it easy. Capiche?"
"If you insist," I said.
"I do. Any questions I have, I know where to find you. Right now, I have to get something to eat. Can I smuggle any food in for you?"
"Yeah, go to Triplets and get me one of their Reuben sandwiches with onion rings. Bekka, you want something?"
"I'll hit the vending machines downstairs later or something. I have no appetite right now."
"Okay, I'll be back in a while, kids," said Angel. "I'm going to swing by the mansion and see what I can learn. Talk to you soon."
Bekka came and sat on the edge of the hospital bed. "I just did a fat line of coke and I'm still feeling melancholy. Tell me, Lenny, are we always going to be around guns? Having people shoot at us, and shooting back?"
I sighed and closed my eyes. "It's gotta end at some point."
She gingerly laid down at my side, careful to not press against me. "I sure hope so," she said.