Monday morning found us at the offices of Carlsbad High School. Sunday had been spent in a state of chemical frenzy. We went out for a relatively early breakfast at IHOP, then returned to the penthouse to hit the bong and watch porn, Bekka and I explaining what was going on through every step. Jane took all this in with fascination, asking for explanations at the turn of scenes. She was particularly curious about the identity of some of the male performers.
Bekka and I broke down the scenes as best we could. We explained that what was happening on the screen did not reflect what happened in real life. This was a disappointment to our pet, who had an enthusiastic appreciation for what appeared on video.
Our viewing over, we suggested Ecstasy and a bout in the spa. Bekka went through her swimsuits and chose a couple that weren't too naughty. Jane tried them on and was happy with them. Pills eaten, we grabbed some beers and headed down to the pool area.
"This place is outrageous!" declared Jane, looking out over the pool. "Why do you guys want to move?"
"Privacy, and the ability to live in our own place," I explained. "This mansion is owned by my bosses, and they could do anything they like with it. My capo could throw me out tomorrow morning, and I couldn't say a thing about it. Our beach house will be our own. Well, ours and the bank's."
"Still.... What a groovy place to live."
Bekka said, "Oh, we know. It's also where we work, which sucks. Getting woken up in the morning by someone wanting answers to business questions is a drag. They know all they have to do is walk up the stairs and pound on the door."
We passed a half hour in relative silence, all of us mellowing under the heat and forced air of the spa. Jane broke the silence by asking, "Can I watch you two fuck?"
"Say what?" I asked.
Jane leaned an arm up on the coping of the spa. "I just think it would be really cool right now to see you two have sex. Is that bad?"
I cleared my throat and said, "Well, you just finished watching Bekka get fucked by two guys. My own fucking remains undocumented. Why do you want to watch us get busy?"
"I just think it would be fun to watch."
Bekka said, "Maybe you can sneak in our room unnoticed and witness what we do, but we're not putting on a show for you. What I do with Lenny is private, and I'm keeping it that way. That privacy is what I value in our relationship. If I wanted other people to know what we get up to, we'd put it on tape and sell it. Do you understand me?"
"Yeah.... But this drug has fucking on my mind," said Jane. "I don't know what to do about it."
"Go to your room and masturbate a couple times," I suggested.
She perked right up and said, "Okay!" She jumped out of the spa and quickly toweled off, then went inside.
Once we were alone, I said, "So we're living with a sixteen year old horn-dog."
"I've noticed. So do you want to fuck?"
"Naw. I'd feel like we were cheating her."
We left the Fury in the visitor's lot at the school and made our way towards the administration building. Various signs warned us that all visitors must check in at the office. We found the right door and went in, leaning on the counter. A plain woman approached us warily, eyeing the two punks and a trendy who were now in her domain.
"May I help you?" she asked.
"Yeah, we're here to see about enrollment," I said. Gesturing at Jane, I continued, "She needs to get back in school."
"You should see Mr. Gray," she said, and motioned us back behind the counter. She led us through a warren of cubicles, stopping us at one far back in the room. She stepped in and said to the occupant, "There are some people here to see about getting enrolled."
A bowl-faced man with a tragic comb-over stepped from behind his desk and invited us in. There were only two chairs available, so I stood. Mr. Gray sat back down behind his desk and said, "Welcome. So, you need to enroll? The school year has already started. Where were you attending school last?"
"Gainesville High, in Gainesville Florida," volunteered Jane.
"And you've moved out here?" asked Gray.
"And these are your parents? Or family?"
Jane smiled and said, "No, they're just friends. I'm staying with them."
"Do you have your transcripts from your old school?"
I said, "We should have those by the end of the week, providing her father doesn't flake out on us. We just wanted to get the ball rolling now."
Gray looked doubtful. "Well, we can start the transfer paperwork now I guess. You say you're not family? What is your relation to Miss, uh...."
"Osborne, Jane Osborne," said Jane. "Like I said, they're just friends. They're helping me out and letting me stay with them. I had to leave home."
"Under what circumstances?" Gray asked.
"My parents and I had a fight, and they threw me out. I had some money, so I jumped on a Greyhound and came to California. I knew Lenny and Bekka here, and they were kind enough to put me up."
Gray frowned. "So you're a runaway."
"More of a throwaway," said Bekka. "She didn't leave home voluntarily."
I said, "Her parents know where she is, and are in the process of having her legally emancipated. We should have that paperwork by the end of the week. Yeah, it's a little complicated, but we want to see her finish school."
"This is an unusual situation," said Gray, continuing his frown. "While it's admirable that Jane here wants to finish school, we don't have the mechanisms in place to register a runaway as a student. Who are you two, anyway?"
"I'm Lenny Schneider, and this is my wife Bekka. We met Jane in Florida on our honeymoon, and continued a correspondence. When she left home, she had the choice of either finding us or heading for LA and being on the streets. I'm glad she chose to find us."
Bekka said, "Once she's legally emancipated, she can sign herself into school. That's one of the advantages of emancipation, being able to sign contracts. So what can we do to get the ball rolling?"
"I'm familiar with emancipation," said Gray. "I'm used to seeing it used by minors to get out of school, not in. Mr. Schneider, are you going to be her guardian?"
"Informally, yes," I said. "Jane will be living with us. But as an emancipated teenager, Jane will take care of her own business affairs."
"Do you really feel this is the best course of action? Shouldn't she be at home?"
"I can't go home," said Jane. "My parents don't want me there."
Gray sighed. "I probably shouldn't be doing this, but I will give you the forms to enroll you. You can fill them out at your leisure. After that, there's not much I can do until you have your transcripts and emancipation papers. Come back when you have them and we can get you enrolled. You'll be starting late, so you'll have to play catch-up in your classes. What grade should you be entering?"
"I should be entering my junior year. Do I need to test in or something?"
"No, your transcripts will point us in the right direction. Do you have any questions?"
"Yeah, do you guys have a girl's volleyball team? I'd like to join."
For the first time, Gray smiled. "Yes we do. I'm assuming you played back home?"
Jane said, "Gainesville is no longer my home, but yes, I played for my school there. I'd like to play here, too."
Gray asked, "Do you think you'll have a hard time catching up? You'll be starting in classes at least three weeks behind everyone else."
"If they're teaching from the textbook, I should be able to catch up, no problem. As long as they can provide any extra material they use I'll be okay. School has always been really easy for me."
"I'm glad you have confidence. I don't suppose there is any way I could speak with your parents?"
"If you don't mind calling Florida, knock yourself out. They're both at work right now, you wanna call my mom?"
"That would be fine," Gray said.
"The number is (352) 555-7634, ask for Joan Osborne."
Mr. Gray dialed the number and asked for Jane's mom. When she picked up, he said, "Hello, Mrs. Osborne? My name is Herschel Gray and I'm an administrator at Carlsbad High School in Carlsbad, California. I'm here with your daughter.... Yes, she's fine.... No, there's no trouble here, she's trying to enroll in our school. She's here with a couple she says she's living with, who aren't her legal guardians. You may need to fill out some forms.... They mentioned the emancipation.... I see.... Okay.... Well, we'll have to wait until she has those papers. Did you want to speak with her? Alright...."
He handed off the phone to Jane. "Hello, Mom? No, I'm doing fine, I'm living with my friends Lenny and Bekka, and one of their requirements is that I attend school.... What? No, I'm not. I'm too young.... They won't let me.... Mom! I can't believe you.... Would you like to talk to Lenny? Fine, here...."
The phone was handed off to me. I said, "Good afternoon."
An icy voice replied, "You're the Lenny my daughter is living with?"
"Yeah, that's me."
"You're the pornographer."
"Well, I'm a pornographer. There's plenty out there."
"What plans do you have for my daughter?"
I pondered this a moment. "Well, keeping her safe, keeping her healthy, making sure she finishes school, and having her be happy. Would you like to make any requests of me and Bekka?"
The ice got turned up higher. "I don't want her working for you," she said.
"Never gonna happen," I replied. "My lawyer isn't that good. I don't think anyone's is."
"Well, if you don't mind having a wild child living under your roof, then I have no objections to this arrangement. My husband is filing the emancipation today, and we'll send it out via FedEx as per your request. Is she causing trouble?"
"Your daughter has been the model of good behavior. My personal goal for her is to make sure she keeps her grades high enough to get a scholarship to UC Berkeley when she graduates. Will you and your husband come out here for her high school graduation?"
"Possibly. You're assuming she'll reach that goal."
"I plan on it. You seem unsure."
"My daughter is too easily distracted by boys. I hope you can keep her in line until she graduates."
"I'll do what I can. Your husband is also getting her school transcripts today, correct? They want them here."
"Yes he is. Now if you'll pardon me, I've been on a personal call at work for far too long, I must go."
"Tell Jane I love her, goodbye." (*click*)
I handed back the phone to Gray, who hung it up. "Your mom says she loves you," I told Jane.
"Hooray for her. She asked you if I'd be working for you?"
"She did," I sighed.
"She seemed to take it for granted," grumbled Jane.
Bekka said, "But there's no way in hell you could work for us, not without a lot of people facing prison time."
Gray interjected, "I seem to be missing something here. What is this about Jane working for you, and prison?"
I steeled myself and said, "I run an adult video production company. Jane's mom seems convinced I'm going to put Jane in my videos. That would be blatantly illegal, she's not eighteen yet. That, and I don't encourage my friends to do the work anyway, it can be a drag."
"In the interests of honesty, I'm a performer," said Bekka. "Even if Jane were of legal age, I would discourage her from the work. It takes a certain personality to make adult video, and Jane is too sweet for it."
"I.... See." said Gray. "You're telling me that the two of you are pornographers?"
"If you wish to use that term, yes."
"And you don't see a problem with a teenage girl living with you?"
"We don't take our work home with us," I said.
Gray reinstalled his frown. "I'm not sure I'm happy with the idea of a child being exposed to that lifestyle."
Bekka said, "We plan on keeping our business well and far away from Jane."
"They're giving me a good home," Jane said. "If it weren't for them, I'd probably be on the streets in LA."
"And think about what happens to runaway teenage girls in LA, no matter how good their intentions," I said.
"All right," said Gray. "I believe you're being sincere. Let me get the enrollment forms for you. Fill it out and return it with your transcripts and the papers of emancipation. With the emancipation, Jane will essentially be enrolling herself in school. Where do you all live?"
"La Costa," I said.
"Will Jane be using the bus to get here?"
"Actually, she's licensed, so I figured we'd just pick up a car for her. Will she need a parking permit?"
"You're going to buy her a car?" Gray exclaimed.
"Well, nothing new, but something reliable. We'll pick up a Toyota that's not too old, something like that."
"You can afford such an outlay?" he asked.
I smiled. "I've been successful in a competitive business. I am paid well."
"I see. Well, let me get you the enrollment forms." He scooted out of the cubicle and left us alone.
I said to Jane, "Whatever you do, don't let it be known that you're living in a damn porn studio. We'll be out of there in five weeks and it won't matter then, but for now give the impression that our work and home are two separate places."
Jane said, "But you guys have been totally discreet so far."
"You haven't been there for a work day yet."
Mr. Gray returned with the forms. "When shall I expect to see you back?"
"Within a week, so long as Jane's parents are cooperative in getting us the needed paperwork."
"Can we walk around campus a little bit?" Jane asked. "Just to see what it's like?"
Gray smiled and said, "I will give you a brief tour. Come this way."
He led us outside and showed us around: the library, the science wing, the liberal arts wing, the cafeteria, the gym, the sports fields. While we were walking a bell went off and the hallway we were in began to fill up with students. We attracted attention just by our appearance. Gray asked Jane, "Do you plan on keeping your hair that color?"
Jane said, "I've had blue hair since seventh grade."
"Surely there are other punk rockers around," said Bekka.
Gray looked stressed. "Yes, there are some others. They tend to spend most of their time in the smoking area. I don't hold out much hope for them. What sort of success can they expect with their appearance and their attitudes?"
I grinned at him and said, "Well, I run a million dollar business. You didn't think this was my natural hair color, did you?"
He gave me a sickly smile and said, "You're in an unusual line of work."
"Fair enough. But don't discount the punks. They tend to be bright, they're just disaffected. Cultivate them, you'll be surprised."
"Is there a drama club?" asked Jane.
Gray replied, "Yes there is, and an ambitious one. Last year they tackled 'Macbeth.'"
"Cool. I hope I'm not too late to hook up with them."
I commented, "This looks like one hell of a big school. What's your student population here?"
"1800," Gray answered. "We cover a lot of area."
"Wow," said Jane, "they were talking about creating a second campus at my old school when the population reached 900."
"Any problems here?" I asked.
"Any form of gang warfare, rampant drug use, violent cliques, that sort of thing."
Gray said, "Nothing that isn't controlled. We don't have gang trouble here, the different cliques aren't hostile with each other, and we have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to illegal drugs."
"That's a little harsh," Bekka said. "One mistake and someone's life could get fucked up badly."
"They can go to the continuation school," said Gray snippily. "We do our best to maintain a drug free campus. The rules, and the consequences for breaking them, are spelled out plainly. We also discourage the use of profanity."
A second bell sounded and the hallway was almost instantly empty. Gray led us back to the front of the school and the parking lot. He said, "Well, we'll see how all this works out."
"You don't sound too enthusiastic," said Bekka.
"This is a highly unusual situation. We have an independent sixteen year old girl living with a couple in a disreputable business, a girl from the other side of the country. Her parents have rejected her, and she's found shelter with.... you two. Even disregarding the legal implications, there are a lot of things that can go wrong."
Jane turned to Gray with fire in her eyes. "You know what?" she said. "I'm going to do something that will probably really piss you off. I intend on making the honor roll every full semester that I'm here. And I've decided that this is the school I'm going to get my high school diploma from. I was considering just getting my GED, but nah. I'm gonna walk with a graduating class. I'll show you what a swamp rat runaway and her porn star guardians can do."
Gray was taken aback by this. He stuttered a couple times, then finally said, "Well, I wish you the best of luck, young lady. I'll see you all soon." He hurried back into the office building.
Getting in the Fury, I said, "Well, that's one administrator who's going to remember you, no matter what."
"Fine with me," said Jane. "I meant what I said about hitting the honor roll, too. I always made it back in Gainesville without even trying, and I doubt California schools are that much harder. And screw them if they think what you do for a living makes you bad people."
"True enough," said Bekka. "If we were sleazy rotten people, would we have been here at all?"
"So now what?" I asked. "That was our act of responsibility for the day."
"How about we head for LA?" suggested Bekka. "We can take Jane to lunch at the trattoria, we can go shopping on Melrose, and we can drive through Hollywood and show her what happens to runaway teenage girls."
"Sounds like a plan. Jane, you like Italian food?"
"Sure do," she chirped. "Is that what we're having for lunch?"
"Bingo. We're going to a restaurant owned by Lenny's capo. Very exclusive place. Eating there is one of the benefits of being associated with the family."
"So am I gonna become a mafia member too?" Jane asked.
I said, "No. You're not Italian, you're a woman, and you're too young anyways. You don't join the mafia, they choose you. Since I'm not Italian, all I'll ever be is an associate of the family. I'm still in for life. Do you really want to make that sort of life-long commitment?"
"I guess not.... But look at you guys! You're rich!"
Bekka laughed and said, "We're doing well. That's the result of luck and hard work and talent. Both Lenny and I are, in our own ways, talented at making porn that people want to see. If we were just phoning it in at our jobs, we would not be as successful as we are." Bekka paused. "Over time, you will meet other people associated with the family, friends of ours. You can decide then how rich we are. You can also decide on the quality of people they are."
Jane smirked and said, "So do I get to start carrying a gun?"
"Do I get a nickname, like Jane 'Gator Bait' Osborne?"
"Can I run a stable of prostitutes?"