I got back to the mansion and brought the food into the kitchen. "Hooray, Christmas dinner!" exclaimed Eddie.
"Huh?" said Jackie.
Eddie explained while balancing a pair of chopsticks on his nose, "Chinese food is the traditional Christmas meal for American Jews. The Chinese places are the only ones open that day, so that's what we eat." I officially liked Eddie. He was a clown and a ham, two things that worked well on the set of a porno movie. He would be serious when he needed to be, too. He was a welcome addition to my stable of male performers. Him having a huge dick didn't hurt things, either.
I grabbed my fried rice and sweet & sour pork and headed into my office. I ate for a while, then dialed Angel. He wasn't home, so I tried Vinny, who would be able to provide the same answers to my questions. He picked up on the third ring.
"Yeah?" he said tersely.
"Vinny, Lenny. Hey, I was wondering if it's possible to trace a license plate for me."
"Sure, we can do that. What's up?"
I explained to him about my new stalker, my road battle, and the fresh damage done to the Acura. He already knew about the murder on my front porch.
"So what do you plan to do with him?" asked Vinny.
"I just want to have a little chat, explain to him who he's up against, and why he's making bad decisions. I may do my talking while I punch him in the teeth with the nose of my Beretta, just to get the message across."
"You sure you don't want us to send down a couple of guys to take care of him? They'll explain things in no uncertain terms, and they're good at it."
"Naw, this is my mess. I'm not sure if this is another crusader, like the dude that shot me up, or an obsessed fan. It's just one guy though, so I don't see myself having a problem. I'll probably bring Bekka with me for support. She's trigger-happy, she'll make good back-up."
"Okay. Give me twenty-four hours to get you an address. And read out the situation before confronting the guy. You don't need any more holes in you."
I smiled. "Don't worry, this should just be a talk. I won't put myself in any undue risk."
Vinny said, "Fair enough. I'm gonna let Angel know what you're up to, and if he says to hold off, you do, capiche? We already got guys that handle these sort of situations, and he may want to leave it up to them."
"Yeah, but it's my studio that he's threatening."
"No, it's the family's studio. This is family business."
"I got it," I sighed.
"Look, you do a fantastic job of running Inana. You've put the place on top. We don't want to lose you to some fucking nut. Wait until you hear from Angel before you make any moves."
"Now give me that plate number, I'll get the ball rolling."
I read the plate number off to him. We said our goodbyes, him reiterating the need to wait on Angel's word before taking action. I finished my lunch and rejoined the cast in the living room, where they were waiting on me to start the next read-through. Elspeth and Eddie seemed to be cuddled up next to each other on the sofa, which made me a bit uncomfortable. I knew Eddie was single, but the last time I checked Elspeth had a man in her life, although I didn't know how seriously. Elspeth (playing a cop) had a fuck scene with Eddie, and I wondered if the two of them were going to spend some off-time "rehearsing." Everyone grabbed their scripts and we got down to business.
About halfway through Gina came in the room. "Lenny, there's some cop on the phone for you. He didn't want to leave a message," she said.
I said, "I'll take it in my office," and headed that direction. I pressed the button for the speaker phone and greeted whoever was on the other end.
"Mr. Schneider, this is Detective Kapinsky from the sheriff's department. We had lunch together the day your search warrant was served."
"Oh, hello Mr. Kapinsky. What can I do for you?"
He cleared his throat. "I wanted to let you know we got a name for that John Doe who was murdered at your place. He's a John Michael Bradshaw. The name mean anything to you?"
I said, "The last name does. That's the same name as the guy who shot me up a while back."
"Bingo. John and Julian Bradshaw were brothers. And as to who killed John, we don't have any fresh clues. But there's too much coincidence there. Whatever they were doing on your front steps at that hour, they were certainly up to no good. The murderer is still out there, and probably still has you on his mind. I just thought you should know, so you can take appropriate steps for your own security. Records show you have a concealed carry permit for a Beretta 92. I don't normally say this to civilians, but I suggest having it with you if you can."
"I'm wearing it right now. I use a shoulder holster, and it goes on every morning, as soon as I'm out of the shower."
Kapinsky said, "Records show your wife has two registered for concealed carry, a Colt and another Beretta. She have them with her?"
"Always," I said.
"Okay. I'm going to arrange for the deputies to cruise past your place a couple times a night, see if anything looks out of place."
I said, "Matter of fact, if they spot a beat-up Datsun 510 lurking around, they need to put a thumb on it. I've spotted it outside the mansion on a couple occasions. No clue if it's just a rabid fan, or somebody with something more malicious on his mind."
"I'll tell them to keep their eyes peeled. Talk to you later."
I hung up and pondered this news. Now there was no doubt as to what the two men were up to at 3:30 in the morning on my front steps. They weren't just burglars, they were there to finish what Julian Earl Bradshaw had started. Why they chose that time of day was beyond me. It was not well known that Bekka and I lived in the mansion, so they couldn't have been after us. Possibly to set up an ambush? Now identifying Tall Man was even more important.
Angel called me around 10:30 the next morning with the address. Everyone, including Bekka, was down at the costume shop being fitted. The clothes would be ready for us in two weeks. Angel laid into me for not telling him about my troubles sooner.
"What the hell, Lenny? You're part of the family, and the family takes care of its own. What do you think we're here for?"
"This is a problem I can solve just fine, Angel. It's just one guy. No need to call in the cavalry."
"Don't make me regret giving you this address."
"Regret in what way?" I asked.
"By getting yourself killed. We need you where you are, dammit. If you need to take someone out, that's your call. But don't you get hurt."
"Hopefully this will just be a talk with some idiot. I'll go out there, explain who he's up against, and be done with it. No problem."
"It better not be," said Angel. "Any major resistance, you fade out and we send in the professionals to take care of things."
"No problem," I repeated.
"Good. By the way, Man-Crush Studio [Angel's gay production company] wants to know when they can have Eddie back."
I laughed. "So far as I'm concerned, never. Eddie can act, he's hung, and he does a good fuck scene. I get the impression that Eddie is happier doing straight work anyway, and likes the shorter commute."
Angel laughed himself. "Okay, just asking."
"It's up to Eddie what he does. In a month when we're done with production on this feature, maybe he will want to go and pick up some money jerking off for them, I don't know. But I definitely want him available for our features. They'll have to find another big-dicked smartass Jew."
"I'll let them know. Call me later and let me know how it went with your pest."
"I can do that. Talk to you later, Angel."
"Good morning," (*click*)
I went and poured myself the last of the coffee and let Gina know I'd be out in the afternoon, after she had lunch. That was fine with her.
Bekka got home around noon. I told her I had my address and was planning on going down to settle the guy's hash that afternoon. She frowned at this.
"You're sick of hearing me say this, but I'm going with you," she said.
"Are you?" I asked.
"Funny thing, but I always seem to be useful on these little jaunts of yours. This is no different. We ride together, or I call Angel, get the address from him, and follow you."
"In what?" I asked. "The Acura is in the shop until tomorrow."
"I'll call a cab," Bekka insisted.
"All right, all right," I sighed. "When should we go visiting?"
"How about after dinner? We'll go to the Seafarer, make a night of it, maybe catch a movie afterwards."
"Leftover Chinese in the meantime?" I asked.
"Sounds good," said Bekka. I'll nuke us up a couple of plates."