I was the last customer out of Circuit City, them locking the doors behind me. Whatever, they were happy with the money I'd spent. The big new TV would be delivered tomorrow afternoon. I had Jane's TV, VCR, stereo, and bolt-together entertainment center in the back of the Cadillac. I wanted to surprise her, so I headed for the new house to put everything together. The entertainment center went together first, using a provided Allen wrench. Then I struggled her TV up and hooked it up with the VCR, checking to make sure the cable worked. The stereo was put together last, me grabbing a cassette out of the car to check the sound. Fungo Mungo sounded fine.
I went downstairs to find an Audi pulling in next to the Fleetwood. I didn't recognize the car or the driver, so I stood and waited. Presently a white bread looking prick got out. For god's sake, he had a sweater tied around his neck. He looked at me and said, "May I help you?"
"I was gonna ask you the same question. Why are you parking in my garage?"
"I always park here," he snipped at me.
"Yeah, well, that's gonna change. You're in my garage. You can't leave your car there," I told him.
"Wait, are you saying this is your house?" he asked. Once again my appearance was flummoxing strangers.
"Damn right. Starting on Saturday, there will be three cars parking here. My Cadillac, a '70 Plymouth Sport Fury, and a '71 Cutlass 442. We drive American steel, and would just as soon not have the fog pitting up the chrome. Why did you think you could just leave your car under my house and not have anyone notice?"
"I've left my car on this lot for a long time. I parked on the old slab before construction started." He made it sound like I was at fault for building a house on the lot and depriving him of parking.
"Well, the parking gravy train is over. Get your car out from under my house."
He got snotty. "What if I don't?"
I hopped over the guard rail and got in his face. "Then it will need to be dragged out of here with a chain. You'll get to explain to your insurance company how you lost every tire, every piece of glass, and big chunks of your engine to vandals. Can you dig it, baby?"
"But I'll have to park at the beach lot!" he whined.
"And this is my problem how? By the way, I'm Lenny Schneider, and you are?"
His chin had lost its altitude. "G-Grant Keillor."
"Where do you live, Grant?"
"Two doors down, the yellow one."
I flashed an evil grin. "So what did you think would happen when the house was done?"
I whacked him on the shoulder, hard. "Contingencies, my man, always plan for them. This house is done and occupied as of Saturday. Stop by with your woman on Saturday night, we'll smoke some weed and drink scotch. Sound good?"
He opened the door to his Audi. "Just who are you?" he asked.
"I told you, I'm Lenny. I'm the criminal pornographer who owns this house. Stop by Saturday night and we'll get loaded, we're gonna be spending all that day moving our stuff in so we'll need the relaxation. Savvy?"
He fired up and pointed his car towards the public lot at the beach. His stupidity was amazing to me. It was either stupidity or arrogance, I wasn't sure which. I locked up the house and headed back to La Costa.
The move went smoothly. We packed and shuttled things over and unpacked, getting our stuff put away correctly, no left over boxes of junk. We were done by five, and hungry, so I had food delivered. We still had a whole storage unit full of our stuff, but it was stuff we'd lived without for the seven or so months we'd been in the mansion, so that would be an ongoing project.
Lance ate dinner and got a ride home from Jane. "Richard has decided he doesn't like it when I'm with you guys at night," he said. "Like you turn into vampires or something. Other than you smoking marijuana sometimes, it's not like you're keeping secrets from him. I keep telling him you're good people, but he doesn't want to hear it."
Jane returned and the three of us settled in front of our big new TV, debating on whether it was still too early to load the bong. What the hell, we'd had a long day. I was filling the bong with ice and water when the doorbell rang. Jane sprang down the stairs, and returned a few seconds later.
"There's some preppy at the door. Said his name is Grant. You know him?"
I smiled. "Yeah, that's one of our new neighbors. Invite him in."
Bekka sneered. "I've had bad luck with guys named Grant."
"Lightning can't strike twice," I assured her.
Grant came into the living room accompanied by an equally preppy-looking woman. Both of them were staring at Jane, with her blue hair and leather pants, as though she was a space alien. Introductions were made all around, the woman introducing herself as Joan, Grant's wife.
"Get you something to drink?" I offered. "We got Anchor Steam beer, gold tequila, and Johnnie Walker. We were getting ready to fire an ice water bong, if you wanna go that route."
"I'll take a beer," said Joan.
"Johnnie Walker please," said Grant.
Jane said, "Just beer for me right now. Can I have tequila later?"
"No problem, pet," I answered. I distributed drinks and set the weed and bong on the coffee table, available to anyone in the mood. Bekka decided she was in the mood and began loading the bowl, which Grant and Joan watched with fascination. Bekka pulled out her Bic and took a hit.
"So how long have you all lived in this neighborhood?" she asked through a lungful of smoke.
"About five years," Grant answered. "Joan is a real estate agent, and was able to get her hands on our place on the cheap. How about you, are you new to the area?"
"Let's see," I said. "Bekka here is an Encinitas native, I'm from Clairemont by way of El Cajon, and Jane is from Gainesville, Florida. She's our little swamp rat."
"Gator bait," corrected Jane, pulling on her beer.
"Yeah, gator bait, my mistake," I said. Bekka handed the bong to me and I put in a load. "Here, fire a bowl?" I asked Grant.
"No thank you," he said stuffily.
"I want to," said Joan, leaning forward. I passed her the bong and a lighter.
"Be careful with that stuff," advised Bekka. "It comes out of the Sierras. I don't know what it is about their weed, but it can jump up and bite you if you're not used to it. Let me know what you think."
"Oh, Joan," said Grant in his stuffy voice as she began firing the bowl.... And fell into a fit of coughing.
"Told you," said Bekka. "Go on, clear the bowl." With more coughing, Joan got through the bowl. She set the bong down on the coffee table.
"I haven't smoked since college. That stuff tastes heavy. Should I have another bowl?"
I told her, "Wait a few minutes and see how you feel. So Grant, what is it you do?"
"I'm an engineer for General Dynamics," he said.
"Is it fun?" asked Jane.
"I wouldn't call it fun, exactly, but it keeps me interested. And what is it that you do?"
"We make porn," said Bekka. "Well, Jane doesn't, she's a student, but Lenny is a producer and I perform."
"I'm sorry, you do what?" asked Grant.
"Make porn. Lenny runs a studio called Inana productions, and I'm a performer."
"That's what I thought you said.... Um, well, what's it like?"
I said, "It's fun, but it's hard work. We make good porn, and that takes a lot of time and energy. It's not just fucking in front of a camera."
Jane piped up with, "I want to make porn, but they won't let me." She reached for the bong and began loading it.
"That's really cool," murmured Joan. I looked at her and realized she had a happy glazed smile on her face and was slumped on the sofa cushions. She was definitely in high orbit. Our weed had claimed another victim. I reached across and plucked the lighter out of her hand and slid it across the coffee table to Jane. Joan didn't seem to notice.
Grant said to Jane, "So, uh, you said you're a student? Where? UCSD?"
"Carlsbad High," replied Jane. "I'm a junior."
"You're still in high school?"
"Yeah...." She coughed briefly and continued firing the bong.
Grant looked at me and said, "Aren't you two young to be parents? You both look like you're under thirty."
"Jane's not our kid," explained Bekka. "Like we said, she's from Gainesville. Her parents threw her out, she took the bus out here and hooked up with us. It was either live with us or end up turning tricks in LA. We give her a good home, she gets good grades and helps around the house. We're working out pretty well."
"I'm going to UC Berkeley when I graduate," said Jane, setting the bong down. I reached across and grabbed it, and began loading my own bowl.
"Sure you don't want one?" I asked Grant.
He gave me a dirty look. "You seem to have lobotomized my wife," he said, pointing at Joan. He was right. She sat calmly on the sofa looking blissed out. She finally giggled and reached for her beer, moving slowly.
Bekka and Jane looked at Joan and laughed. "Don't worry, she'll come down to a lower orbit in a little while. She'll be fine. I warned her, that stuff can really kick your ass if you're not used to it," Bekka said. "Who needs a refill? Grant, another scotch?"
"Well...." he hesitated. "One more, then I'm going to get her home."
"We can always jump start her," I said. "Hey Joan. Joan!"
She giggled at me. "Yeah?" she smiled.
"How'd you like a line of coke? It'll help clear the cobwebs out."
Grant was aghast. "Are you serious?"
Joan put her hand on my leg. "Sure," she murmured. "I haven't done coke in forever."
"For god's sake, Joan...." Grant groused.
Bekka said, "Jane, go grab the bag. I already know you want one."
"Fuck yeah!" said Jane, springing up and darting into the kitchen. Until we came up with a better stash spot, we had all our drugs in a kitchen drawer. We had more drawers than stuff to put in them. Jane pranced back out with a freezer bag full of white powder. She handed it to me.
"You want one, Grant?" I offered as I shoveled drugs onto the coffee table glass. "This is as clean as you'll find, fresh off the boat."
"No thank you," he said sourly. "Joan, are you really going to do that?"
"Sure," she giggled. "I used to have fun on coke."
"That's when you were still in college. You're an adult now."
Bekka smirked at Grant and said, "It's the weekend. Why not get blasted?"
I arranged four lines on the coffee table and rolled up a bill. I handed the tube off to Joan, who slid off the sofa, got her bearings, and did up one of the lines. The effect was near instantaneous. She sat upright with a perky look on her face, holding the tube straight out in front of her. "Holy.... Oh wow. Oh wow. Thank you, that's something else. Wow."
Grant sat there with a disgusted look on his face. He went from disgusted to horrified as Jane knelt down to do her line. "You do cocaine? You're just a kid!" he gasped.
Jane dropped the tube on the glass and gave him a smile. "Yeah, well, I had to grow up pretty fast. Besides, like Bekka said, it's the weekend. No harm, no foul. I stay off it during the week."
Joan said to Jane, "I love your hair. I wish I could have a color like that."
Jane offered, "I've got some dye. We could give you a few streaks, just enough for a really cool accent. We can put it in now and you just wash your hair later. You wanna do it?"
"Let me grab the aluminum foil and we'll go upstairs, you can see my room." The two jumped up and headed for the stairs, Jane stopping briefly in the kitchen to grab the foil. Grant sat there with his sour look on his face.
"Another scotch?" I offered.
"I think I'd better," he responded. "I'm not sure what to make of you. You say you're in the porn business, you've got a teenage girl with you, you got my wife high on drugs.... Is this your idea of hospitality?"
Bekka said, "I'm Sicilian, so I'm remiss in not offering you food. We'll be happy to order pizza if you want."
"The scotch will do me. I can't believe my wife is going to have blue hair."
"Just streaks, like Jane said. Sure you don't want a line? Maybe we'll convince you to get some color in your own hair."
"No thanks," said Grant as I handed him a fresh Johnnie Walker. "I can't help but wonder what kind of neighbors the three of you are going to make."
Bekka and I looked at each other. "We live quietly," I said.
"The most noise you'll have to contend with is Jane's hot rod, and even that is muffled okay," said Bekka. "She doesn't have glass packs."
Grant looked amazed. "That kid has her own car?" he asked.
"Well, technically it's ours, but it's hers to drive. She needed something to get to school in, and a friend of ours in Santee knew a guy unloading a '71 Cutlass 442 for a good price. We figured she may as well have something cool to drive."
"When you leave, check it out. It's the red one," I said.
Jane and Joan came dashing back downstairs, Joan with three large clumps of hair wrapped in foil. She landed in Grant's lap and squirmed.
"My hair is gonna look too cool!" said Joan to Grant. "Hey, I know how we can have fun while the dye sets. Let's go home...." She got her tongue in his ear.
Bekka smiled and said, "Carpe diem, pally."
Grant was no fool. He knocked back the rest of his scotch and said, "Okay, let's go home."
Joan leaped up and gave hugs to Jane, Bekka, and me. "Thanks for, um, everything!" she said. Her and Grant headed to the front door and went out.
"Let's go bowling," I suggested after they'd left. "I'm in favor of any sport you can play while drinking a beer and eating a hot dog."
"Sounds good," said Jane. "So what do you think of the new neighbors?"
"I don't think he likes us very much. I should learn my lesson about getting other men's wives high. It only leads to trouble."
"We got along well enough," Bekka said. "She's just more relaxed."
"Shall we bring coke along?" asked Jane. "I'll grab a seal."
"A capital idea," I said.