We spent the night at the Best Western in Encinitas. Breakfast was bagels, coffee, and speed. We hurried back to the mansion around 8:30, fearing what might have gone wrong in the night. Squeak had stayed inside our penthouse instead of having his usual run of the mansion. Paranoia was the rule of the day....
.... Which wasn't assuaged by the presence of a strange car in the driveway. I could see the silhouette of someone's head through the back glass. I directed Bekka to the right side of the car, me taking the left. The windows were down. I gestured for Bekka to get her Colt out, we would brace the driver together. I stuck my Beretta into his neck, which woke him up.
His eyes sprang open when he realized there were two guns pointed at him. Whoever he was, we definitely had the drop on him. I said, "Talk it up, bud, and don't move around. You're covered."
He croaked, "I just came to see Becky, honest."
"I'm right here," Bekka said.
The guy turned towards her voice. His jaw dropped when he saw her leaning in the window, her Colt leveled at him. "Becky?" he said.
"That's me," she replied. "And you are?"
"I'm Matt. Matt Jameson. Becky, I love you." He reached onto the floor of the back seat and pulled up a bunch of red roses.
Bekka sighed and holstered her Colt. "Come on inside. I need more coffee before I can deal with this."
We ushered Matt through the front door and into the media room. I went about the business of setting up the coffee pot while Bekka got her roses in water. I stepped into where Matt was sitting and asked him, "So where do you live, Matt?"
"Seattle. I work for a software company there."
"You're far from home. What brings you down here? Business?"
"No. I came to see Becky."
Bekka joined us and asked, "What did you want to see me about?"
Matt said, "I think I'm in love with you. I have all your movies, and all the magazines you've been in. I just wanted to meet you, and tell you how I feel."
Bekka smiled warmly and said, "That's really sweet, and I'm flattered, but I'm already married. And I love my husband."
"Who's your husband?" he asked.
"He's the guy who was shoving a gun in your neck a few minutes ago, and who is now waiting for the coffee to finish so he can serve us."
"You're really married? But.... Your profile in Hustler said you were single."
Bekka sighed again. "They also said I was twenty-two. I'm twenty-eight. They make all that stuff up, they go with whatever sounds good."
"It's no real surprise. All pornography is a lie. What happens on the screen isn't much like what happens in real life. Personally, real life is better. I have to ask, what did you want to accomplish by meeting me?"
"It sounds funny, but I wanted to sweep you off your feet," said Matt. "I had a dream that I was able to talk you into coming back to Seattle with me, and being with me. It didn't seem too far-fetched when I was making my plans." He sniffled briefly.
Bekka sat down on the sofa next to him and placed a hand on his shoulder. "But Matt, you based your dreams on two dimensional images. Lenny, if it's all right with you, I'd like to talk with Matt out on the patio. Matt, will you join me?"
"Sure." He grabbed his coffee and followed Bekka out.
They sat outside for fifteen or twenty minutes. When they came in they set their mugs on the counter, and Bekka hugged Matt.
"So you got what I said? You just need to remember that the dreams that come true happen in three dimensions. Okay?"
Matt nodded, a grim smile on his face. "Yeah. I understand. Thanks for talking to me."
I stuck my hand out to him, saying, "By the way, I'm Lenny. Sorry about the gun earlier. We're just real security conscious here."
"Thanks." He paused. "You've got a hell of a wife."
"I think so too."
I walked him back to his car, where we shook hands again. He backed out of the driveway and drove slowly back down the street. I stood and watched him go, then went back inside for more coffee.
"So what did you say to him?" I asked Bekka as I poured.
She wiped her eyes and said, "I told him he was falling in love with an illusion, and that doesn't work. I told him what my job is really like. And I thanked him for being a fan. He seems like a nice guy. He just ended up getting hung up on a porn star, and obsessed long enough that he tricked himself into thinking things would go his way if he met me. Hopefully he'll meet a real person and fall in love with them. Heh, I can't help but wonder if Seka and Christy Canyon go through this."
"They probably have," I said. "They both certainly receive a lot of marriage proposals, by mail if nothing else."
"I've gotten a few of those. If you'd told me two years ago that I'd inspire such devotion just by fucking on camera I'd have laughed in your face." Bekka walked in the kitchen and reloaded her coffee mug.
"Do you think what you said will stick?"
"I think so. I pointed out that what he'd done was create an entire persona of me in his mind. Naturally he's a huge fan of 'Bewitched,' and was surprised to learn I'm not into witchcraft. Matt Jameson of Seattle is a nice guy who convinced himself that his fantasies were real, that's all."
I smiled. "And you got roses out of the deal. I never do that."
Bekka smiled back. "Maybe you should. It was a sweet gesture, even if it was from a delusional bastard."
"Hopefully we don't have more like him."
"In a way, I'm surprised we haven't had more. The location of this place is practically public knowledge at this point. If a guy from Seattle can find us, there's nothing to stop locals from showing up, bearing roses."
I told her, "We'll just have to point guns at them too."
Bekka smirked and said, "I hope not. I don't like throwing down on people who are unarmed."
"Did he ask about the guns?"
"No. I guess he wrote it off as a uniquely Southern Californian personality fillip. After all, we shoot at each other from our cars."
"Don't remind me."
Today was our first "real" read-through of the new script. All those concerned gathered in the living room, sodas and smokes at the ready. The fresh roses on the coffee table were commented upon, and we were honest about where they came from. There was surprise all around.
Donna said, "So basically, you interacted with your first stalker."
Bekka shook her head. "He wasn't a stalker, per se. He was just a nice guy from Seattle who let his fantasies run away with him. There was no malice on his part."
"You just described a stalker."
"Look, Lenny and I both talked to him, and made it clear that I have no room in my life for him. He'll go visit Sea World and head back for Seattle. I'm not worried about him. I've gotten fan mail that was much more disturbing."
Donna shuddered. "Can I expect this?"
"It took me years to reach this stage," Bekka said. "I think you have to spread your legs in a few magazines before the stalkers show up. As it is, you're playing a murderer in this movie, so it's hard to say how much fans will identify with you."
Rio said to Donna, "The fan mail is more disturbing. Fans share their fantasies with you --- about you --- in vivid detail. You haven't lived until you've had some guy write to tell you that he wants you to shit in his mouth."
"You really get letters like that?"
"On occasion. Fortunately, it's mostly just dudes fawning over you. And the other fantasy letters are more straightforward, like something out of the Penthouse Forum letters."
I said, "Donna, you have a marquee position in this movie. I'm putting a lot of trust in you that you can pull it off, by the way. You're a novice with a second lead position. If this one does well, you'll have your own fan mail."
"I promise I won't disappoint," Donna said.
"It sucks that the girls are the ones who get all the fan mail," said Eddie. "C'mon, there's gotta be women watching these videos too."
Elspeth said, "Oh please Eddie. You're packing nine inches. Women in the real world don't want that. It's fun to play with, but I take it because I'm getting paid to, not because I like it."
"Nine inches?" Donna gasped.
"You wanna see?" said Eddie.
I said, "Now you know why I don't use Eddie for screen testing performers. And Eddie, if you pull that thing out in the middle of a read-through I'll set it on fire." I flicked my Zippo at him.
Bekka said to Donna, "Don't worry, Eddie is a gentleman. You show him your limits and he'll stick with them. He's no bruiser."
"Sometimes I feel like I should have stuck with doing solo scenes for the gay studios," Eddie grumbled.
"But then you wouldn't be able to play street hustlers in detective movies," I pointed out. "Besides, I'm pretty sure our money's better."
"How do we get fan mail?" asked Donna. "I don't want to give out my home address on a video box."
Bekka explained, "It all comes to the studio address. We sort it and distribute it from here. You'll have a box for your mail in Gina's office."
"How much do we get?"
"I couldn't tell you. After 'Bewitched' and my Penthouse shoot, I was getting thirty pieces a day. Elspeth wasn't even in a marquee position, and she was getting five or ten. It depends as much on how well the movie does as it does on how hot the viewers find you."
"Do you respond to it all?" Donna asked.
"I read it all. I respond to anyone who writes to me from a military address. They get a quick note and a couple signed photos."
"Mighty patriotic of you," laughed Jackie.
"Thank you. I figure they need it," replied Bekka.
Elspeth asked, "So how did this dude this morning know where to come? The mansion address isn't public."
I said, "It sort of is, it's just not very convenient. You have to go to the county administration building and look us up in the business records. Every business has to provide a physical address, you can't use a P.O. box. I figure this guy got in town yesterday and knew what to do. He works for a software company, he can't be an idiot. Doing a records search is how our protesters knew where to be."
"Any sign of them?" asked Vince.
"No, and after I got shot, they disappeared. I doubt they'll be back. There will be suspicion on them for encouraging terrorist activity if they do. The sheriffs will be right on top of them. But enough of this, let's do this read-through."
The read-through went swimmingly. It was obvious all the performers had studied their scripts, as they put inflection and intensity into their reading. I considered myself blessed at having landed Donna, as she acted well with her voice, bringing life to the script. Eddie, who was playing a scumbag, read his lines with a weasely whine that made you want to put your hand over your wallet. We would be having a lot of fun with this one.
We got through it and compared notes. Dale, as our detective, wanted to know if I would spring for a beard trimmer, so that he would have a permanent five o'clock shadow. I liked the idea and said yes.
We broke for lunch. Chinese food was agreed upon, so I passed around the menu, took requests, and called in the order to a Chinese place by the Safeway. I hopped in the Fury and headed that direction.
I pulled in the Safeway parking lot and found a space. Went in, picked up the order, and headed back to the car. I was walking through the lot when I spotted a familiar vehicle.
It was a Datsun 510. All four fenders were crumpled. The tail lights were shattered.
I put the food in the Fury and grabbed a Sharpie and a pad of post-it notes, then snaked my way back towards the Datsun, approaching from the rear. There was no one inside. I jotted down the plate number and considered my options. We both had guns, and knew it. This was not the time or place for a confrontation: I didn't want everyone's lunch to get cold, and the parking lot of a supermarket is the wrong place for a shootout. So I wrote GO HOME on another post-it and stuck it to the crossbar of his steering wheel. The only thing of note on the inside was a New King James Bible sitting on the passenger seat, and a lot of fast food trash on the floor. I jogged back to the Fury and headed for home.
I hoped Angel and Vinny had connections inside the DMV, so I could finally run the bastard to ground. I wanted him.