"Guess who I talked to today," Bekka greeted me as I walked through the door.
"No clue," I said.
"Ivanka," she told me. "Her and her girlfriend are coming to San Diego on a vacation in a couple weeks. Ivanka owns a car now. We were a bad influence on her: she bought a 1967 Mercury Cougar."
"Sweet. Stock, or is it rodded?"
"She didn't say. I told her they could stay with us."
I frowned. "In three weeks we pack this entire townhouse into boxes, put it in storage, and move into the mansion. Are they going to stay there with us? And are they cool with that? As nice of a place as it is, it's still a porn studio."
"Shit! I forgot about that," said Bekka, stamping her foot. "Why don't we move our bedroom furniture into one of the spare rooms on the third floor? Up there they'll have the same privacy we do."
"That could work," I said. "I'm afraid we're not going to be the best hosts anyway. I've got work, and you'll be busy blocking and rehearsing the dialogue scenes for 'Bewitched.' During the week, they'll get us in the evenings and that's it."
"Well, they plan on doing the whole tourist thing anyway, so it should work out okay. They're gonna spend a few days north of here, so they can do Disneyland and Hollywood. Hey, why don't you just knock me off the cast of 'Bewitched'? If I just do fuck scenes I'll have more free time."
Bewitched was our latest feature. This was an exciting project, as we'd budgeted for special effects. Generally, the plot was about a sexy witch who casts "love hexes" on people, sometimes without their knowledge. Hijinks ensue. We'd have our A-team in on this one: even the people doing fuck scenes would have some dialogue. With her black hair, acting ability, and box office draw, Bekka was a shoo-in to play the witch. In fact my bosses insisted she get the role.
I said to Bekka, "No way. Not only are you too valuable to not have in a marquee position, Angel and Vinny made it clear they want you in the lead. Your highly marketable face and body are going to be right on top in this one."
It should be noted that Bekka, my wife, is Inana Productions' most valuable commodity. She can act, so she gets lead or second lead in features and featurettes. She's gorgeous, so she's a hit with viewers. Her Bettie Page-style bangs and short black hair make her instantly recognizable. And two photo spreads --- one in Gallery, one in Hustler --- catapulted both Bekka and Inana into the forefront of many peoples' minds. After that issue of Hustler, you could practically hear Inana's bank account growing fatter.
Bekka said, "Okay. God knows I don't want to disappoint Angel and Vinny." She giggled. "And it should be a fun role to perform, too."
"Atta girl. And I thought of a solution to our quandary."
"We move into the mansion early. We can move the stuff we need over in one night, then spend our nights packing for the movers. We'll be done by the time Ivanka and her girlfriend get here."
"That does make sense," Bekka pondered. "That reminds me, the bank called and we're officially in escrow now for the property. The lot should be ours in four weeks if nothing goes wrong."
"Excellent," I said. "Remember, no news is good news from here on in."
"So, let's go raid Safeway for empty boxes and get this over with."
Two weeks later we were up in the big soundstage on the second floor of the mansion blocking a scene with Bekka and Rio. Rio was another witch who was accusing Bekka of abusing her powers. Naturally, this culminated in a girl/girl scene. I had a script in my hand, and Small Steve and I were working out the most natural flow of movement leading up to the sex. We'd be blocking that, too, after we had the dialogue laid out. Faintly, I heard the doorbell ring downstairs: it could only be Ivanka and her girlfriend (whose name I still didn't know). I ran down to get the door.
I opened the door and a Romanian striptease dancer launched herself into my arms. I hugged her back and spun her around on the porch. This was viewed with amusement by a girl with inch-long hair wearing bicycle shorts and a Spandex sports bra. She had the physique one would expect of someone who spends forty hours a week on a bicycle in San Francisco.
I set down Ivanka and said, "How's my favorite dirty dancer? Who's your friend here?"
The butch girl stuck out her hand and said, "Hi, I'm Ginny. You must be Lenny." We shook hands.
"Come on in," I said, "you can watch us do blocking for our newest feature." I led them through the downstairs and up to the second floor.
"So you guys make porn films?" asked Ginny.
"Sure do. Don't worry, everyone has their clothes on today."
"You ever do lesbian stuff?"
"As a matter of fact, we're blocking out a girl/girl scene right now. I'm not sure if it counts, since we're going for a straight male audience, but the performers are pretty hot. One of 'em is my wife, though, so I'm fairly biased."
We walked into the soundstage. Vince and a girl named Elspeth were leaning against the far wall, watching and waiting to block their scene with Bekka. They were playing an incompatible couple who were consulting with Bekka for "help." Bekka and Rio were just about to start blocking their sex scene.
I let Small Steve do most of the timing and arrangements, throwing in a few suggestions about position and making notes in my script. The penultimate position for the two of them was a sixty-nine on the floor. Rio, giving into her magic-induced lust, pushed Bekka onto the ground and goes down on her briefly before assuming a sixty-nine. I told Rio, "When you get on top of Bekka, try to do it in one fast and smooth movement. Can you do that?"
"Lemme try," said Rio. She got back in front of Bekka, then slid forward and pivoted in one motion so she was straddling Bekka's face. "How's that?" she asked.
"Perfect. Just what I wanted," I told her.
"Okay, let's take twenty, then block Elspeth and Vince's scene. Got a minute, Lenny?" Small Steve asked.
"Sure, what's up?"
He smiled and said, "We can start shooting Tuesday. Blocking took less time than I thought, everyone seems to have their lines down, we just need to block Ellen and Roy's fuck scene, plus that last two-on-one with Bekka, and we can get those done Monday morning. We'll get a good weekend in."
"Perfect. After this blocking, let's finalize our shooting schedule, and I'll get on the phone to let people know when they perform. I'm glad for the full weekend, I've got friends in from out of town."
Meanwhile, Bekka and Rio were practicing Rio's "throwing" Bekka onto the floor, on her back. Bekka was trying to land as gracefully as possible: we'd made it clear that this was an act of aggression and lust, not violence. Bekka didn't seem to have noticed the arrival of our guests.
After a few more throws, I interrupted them and said, "Hey Bekka, look who's here" and pointed to where the girls were standing. Bekka squealed and threw herself at Ivanka. They hugged tightly, then Ivanka introduced her to Ginny.
Bekka said, "We've got enough time to show you around the mansion. Let's start with the pool."
"I've got to go in the office and put my holster back on," I said. "I'll meet you guys outside."
We went downstairs and I ducked into my office, getting my shoulder holster and Beretta off the desk and putting them back on. When I rejoined the girls outside, Ginny looked shocked. In fact, "shocked" would be an understatement.
"Why.... Why do you have a gun on you?" she asked.
Bekka caught her shocked look and said, "It's no big deal. Hell, I'm wearing one too." She unbuttoned the lower half of her blouse and pulled out her Colt from her waist holster. Ginny was aghast.
"Why the hell do you guys carry guns?" she asked.
Ivanka said, "I understand Bekka's wish to carry one. I told you of when she was attacked. I would want to be able to protect myself too."
"And I have the bad habit of being shot at," I said. "My bosses call me a bullet magnet."
Ginny exclaimed, "Your bosses don't mind you carrying a gun at work? Who the hell are your bosses, anyway?"
"They're mafioso, and they expect me to wear a gun. Personal protection is a big deal with them."
"So this studio is owned by the mafia?"
"It's owned by members of the mafia, and --- I know this is a cliché --- it's a legitimate business. These guys play it straight, for the most part. Shit, I'm an associate. I'm in for life."
"And I'm a mafia wife," said Bekka. "With all the perks that go along with it."
Ginny said, "You guys have got to be joking. No way is this real. You're just a couple of gun nuts with active imaginations."
"I have an idea," I said. "Bekka, why don't you take these two to lunch with Angela and Chrissy tomorrow? You all can get blasted on cocaine and they can learn about what life is like as a mafia wife."
"An excellent idea," said Bekka, "and I have one of my own. Ginny, guns make you nervous. Is this due to a bad experience, or you're just not used to being around them?"
Ginny said, "I've.... never been around them."
"I used to feel the same way. I hated the fact that Lenny wore one. Then I got used to it, and now I have my own. Such is life in the mafia. But what I was thinking was, why don't we go to the range on Sunday and the two of you can learn to shoot? We'll give you basic safety lessons and you can both learn how to correctly use a pistol of any size. Could you deal with that?"
Ginny stared at the ground, then smirked and said, "Sure, I'll try anything once."
Ivanka smiled and said, "We shall have fun! This shall be a new experience for the both of us!"
I said, "In the meantime, we're burning time and I haven't had a cigarette yet." I pulled my Marlboros out of my shirt pocket and lit up. Bekka grabbed one of mine too, and we walked out to the street where a Cougar hot rod sat at the curb. We retrieved luggage from the trunk and made our way back up the driveway.
"That looks like a hell of a car," I said to Ivanka. "How'd you pick it up?"
"Ever since driving your Falcon, I knew I wanted a big fast American car. The Cougar was being sold by the father of a friend, and was mechanically sound, so I bought it."
"You'll have to let me take it for a spin. Right now I can show you guys to your room. Do you want to continue watching scenes being blocked?"
That sounded like fun to them, so we dropped off the luggage and went back down to the second floor. Small Steve was waiting on me and Bekka. I promised to show off our penthouse to Ivanka and Ginny when we finished, before we went out to dinner.
Scripts in hand, Bekka, Elspeth, and Vince took their starting places. Small Steve began putting them through their movements as they went through their lines. I made notes and threw in a few suggestions of my own, mostly for Elspeth, who would be as expressionless as Roy Scheider if it was left up to her. ("You're exasperated with your man right now, show it on your face.") Ivanka and Ginny sat against the wall, learning about the magic of movie making. We went through the scene four times, fine-tuning the movement as we did. Vince and Elspeth's fuck scene would be taking place elsewhere, in a sound stage set up like a living room, so we weren't concerned with that blocking today.... In fact, it had already been done. Bekka got through her lines without consulting her script, the professional that she was.
After a final and flawless run-through, we told Vince and Elspeth to go enjoy a long weekend, and to be back at the mansion at eight o'clock on Tuesday morning. Almost all the dialogue scenes took place in what was supposed to be Bekka the witch's "shop," and our stage hands would put the final touches on it over the weekend. Small Steve and I went down to my office to finalize our shoot schedule so I could call our performers and tell them when to be at the mansion. Bekka took the girls upstairs, introduced them to Squeak, and showed off our living quarters while I worked the phone.
Calls made, I went upstairs and suggested that it was time for dinner. I suggested we hit the bong first, which was greeted with enthusiasm by all three girls. I grabbed the bong and the weed and joined them in the conversation pit, loading the bowl and passing it to Ivanka first. She fired through it and handed it back, commenting that a bong was something she always meant to purchase but never got around to, so using one was a bit of a luxury. I reloaded and gave it to Ginny, who smoked through the bowl and complimented me on the quality of my weed.
"It comes out of the Sierras, courtesy of my capo's wife. She smokes, and her husband wanted to make sure she is getting the best. They buy in bulk, so Angela shares with us."
The bong went around a couple times, then we went downstairs.
"Whose car should we take?" asked Bekka.
"We shall take mine," said Ivanka. "I know Lenny wishes to drive it, and he knows where we are going. That, and the marijuana has me very high, so I would not be comfortable operating a car right now. Here are the keys, Lenny."
We got in and I pointed us down to the chop house. I tried to keep it as mellow as possible, which was difficult: that Cougar was a serious slingshot. I could have had fun in that thing for hours.
We arrived at the chop house, and it occurred to me that I hadn't asked an important question. "Ginny, you're not a vegetarian, are you?"
She looked up from nuzzling Ivanka's neck and said, "Nope."
"Okay, good. This place has the best pork ribs in Southern California."
"Sounds great," said Ginny, and returned to her nuzzling.
I said, "Um, we're here at the restaurant now...."
"Sorry. Good weed makes me horny," she giggled.
Bekka said, "If that's the case, why don't Lenny and I switch rooms with you tonight? That way you can use our water bed."
"That sounds fun," panted Ivanka.
"Then come on, let's go get fortified."
It was early enough that we were seated immediately. We placed our drink orders, three Tecatés and a double Johnnie Walker for me.
Ginny looked over to me and said, "So, you're in the mob."
I assured her it was true.
"What's it like?"
Bekka laughed and said, "It's definitely added adventure to our lives, that's for sure."
Bekka and I looked at each other. I said, "Well.... There was the time a fellow soldier's wife was kidnapped, and it was up to us to find her."
"Really. What happened?"
"Oh jeez. The morning after a big party we dropped off Chrissy, Vinny's wife, at the Safeway in Van Nuys. She got snatched by her cab driver, drugged, used for bondage photos, and held for ransom. It was up to us to find her because the family saw it as us being responsible for her. You asked why we wear guns, and that whole scene is an example why. We spent a lot of time pointing guns at people --- I had my Beretta, and Bekka had her Banker's Special --- in order to convince them they needed to share information with us. We tracked Chrissy down to an apartment in Hollywood and performed the extraction. They shot at us, Bekka shot back while I drove."
"Keep a secret?" said Bekka.
"What's that?" asked Ginny.
"I killed a man on Santa Monica Boulevard that day. After we rescued Chrissy they chased us and shot out our back glass in the Falcon I had. I got in the back seat and fired at them, and connected. It was them or us, it couldn't be helped."
I expanded, "Chrissy was out like a light through all of this. They'd loaded her up on heroin, and she was off in la-la land. We finally get back to my capo's house, where her husband is waiting. Here's his wife, unconscious, naked, and covered in glass shards. We got her inside and called a doctor we knew who does house calls, who made sure she was okay."
Bekka said, "Don't forget, your friend Mikey was cuffed to the water heater through all of this."
"Oh yeah, it turned out a childhood friend was involved in the snatch racket, so I ended up having to grab him for information. Shit, he's lucky Vinny didn't just kill him after they were done squeezing him for info. He's led a charmed life, he should be dead three times over."
"Meanwhile, Lenny and I didn't sleep for, like, five days. We were running on speed the entire time, and we were too busy to rest. We ended up talking to the don on our last day and he told people later that we looked like a couple vampires."
"We got that ten grand from him for a job well done though. That was nice."
"My God," said Ginny.
"So there's that," I said. "I've also had things go wrong in the course of my duties. Like we said before, my capo Angel calls me a bullet magnet."
Ginny asked, "So what do you do for the mafia?"
"Besides running Inana? I make deliveries. A suitcase will arrive at LAX with my name on it, I pick it up and deliver it to the address I've been given. I got shot at on a couple occasions when I first started."
Bekka said, "I was pissed. Those jobs are supposed to be stress free. Instead, his Acura is developing more holes than a sieve. Is there any glass you haven't had to replace on your car?"
"Yeah, the driver's window. That's just as well, since you'd be a widow if they'd taken that one out." I sighed. "In a way I've been lucky. I've only been shot twice in my life, and one of those was when Ivanka was attacked."
Ginny regarded me appraisingly. "Either you live in a separate universe where action movies are real, or you two are the most talented liars I've ever come across."
Ivanka bristled at this. "I believe them. I have told you of them rescuing me from the hotel, how we first met. Also of saving us on the highway with his driving, and him taking care of the robber at the diner on Lombard Street. Things happen to Lenny."
Bekka spoke up, "You can get this stuff verified tomorrow at lunch. We'll be eating with Lenny's capo's wife and the woman who was kidnapped. And this may bother you, but they have guns too. Angela usually has three on her: waist, ankle, and purse."
Ginny asked, "So we'll be having lunch with mafia members tomorrow?"
"With the wives of mafia members," corrected Bekka. "We'll also be doing coke. I don't know if you like coke or not, but this is as clean as you'll find."
The waitress came over with fresh drinks and to take our order for dinner. Once she'd gone, I said to Ginny, "I have a feeling that each of us thinks the other is nuts for doing what we do for a living."
"How so?" she asked.
"You think I'm nuts for having a job where I need to wear a gun. I think you're nuts for riding a bicycle through downtown San Francisco day in and day out. I found just driving in that town to be a challenge, and I was in a hot rod sort of like Ivanka's."
"Where is the Falcon? I did not see it," said Ivanka.
"It was blown up by bikers," replied Bekka.
"Oh?" Ginny rolled her eyes.
I said, "Yeah, we got in a conflict with a now-defunct local club. They blew up the Falcon as a warning. That black one that was in the driveway? That's the replacement."
"And I suppose you broke up the gang," said Ginny.
"No, they did it to themselves, playing with explosives. Hard to stay together when a third of your membership is dead and another third is crippled. These guys were after a friend of ours and we were trying to help out. They didn't like that."
"Speaking of," said Bekka, "do you like Ecstasy, Ginny? We've got some gold standard stuff at home and that would be fun to do on Monday."
"Sure, I like Ecstasy," she said. "Been a while since I've had anything good."
"You'll be impressed with this. It's straight from the lab."
"Why do you say that?"
"We watched it being made," I said.
Ginny smiled and said, "So you get your weed and cocaine from the mafia, and you know who makes your Ecstasy. Got a good line on any meth?"
I smiled back. "It's a little late in the day for that, but I'll be happy to chop you a line in the morning, if you'd like. That sound okay?"
"Beats the hell out of coffee." She paused. "Ivanka said you were interesting people. I'm still not sure if you're both king-hell liars or not, but I'll find out how true some of your stories are tomorrow, I guess. So far I've certainly been entertained."
Bekka said, "We only bullshit as a strategy. We have no reason to bullshit you."
Ginny held up her beer and said, "Well, here's to my new friends, the mafia member gun freaks. Cheers."
Bekka and I held up our own drinks. "Cheers," we said.