I had a degree of fame at the party. Not only was I "the guy who made 'Bewitched' at twenty-two," I was also "Becky Page's husband" and "the dude who went and rescued Lois Ayres." I firmly stuck with my police version of the whole story, dismissing the idea that there was any heroism involved. Whatever, I'd still shot one of the abductors in the middle of the convention. That gave me a lot of caché as a tough guy around there.
I got two more job offers hanging around the bar, drinking enough that the alcohol actually began to fight through the Ecstasy I'd taken. Both were from production companies smaller than Inana, who wanted to expand and generate features. They figured if Inana could pull it off, so could they. They were both a little confused: they thought Bewitched was the first feature we'd ever done. No, we'd done Wedding Party and Bad Babysitter already, so I'd gotten some practice at writing and producing before tackling Bewitched. Also we never would have guessed Bewitched would take off like it did. We knew we'd made a good feature, but didn't know it would strike such a chord with critics and viewers. We woke up one morning to find everyone loved us (and Bewitched), declaring us geniuses, the vanguard in a new era of adult movies. Loops were dead, some were declaring, a resurgence of adult features, and genuinely creative ones --- not the cheese that came out in the '70s --- would be the rule.
Which I knew to be bullshit. Sometimes you just want to jerk off, and that's what loops were for. No thought required. What I suggested to the gentlemen approaching me at the party was that they cultivate their own stars, decide which of their performers was truly talented and promote her. And actually write scripts for their loops, as short as they might be. Then consider taking the plunge into a full feature, after you've got a good stable of acting talent waiting. I had actually inherited a lot of good talent, in the forms of Bekka, Tawny, Ellen, Rio, Chip, Dale, and Vince. The last three were dumb as posts, but dammit, they could act.
Larry from Vivid made another overture so far as me jumping ship. He offered to help set me up in a place in LA, and keep my weekends free so that I could be with my wife in my own home. I smilingly refused, telling him I was having too much fun helping Inana grow. I gave him the same advice I gave the other two, about promoting stars. We argued about that, him saying Bekka's celebrity was a fluke.
"The public wants variety in its pussy. You have to admit, Becky has a unique look, and that got latched onto. You can't just pick a random performer and make her into a star."
"You can if she can act," I replied. "Look at 'Bewitched.' Becky, as Ursula, only has two fuck scenes, and one of those is a girl/girl. Granted, she's got a few nude shots, but still. Becky broke out with 'Bewitched' because she genuinely engaged the audience, she really lit up the screen in every scene she was in. It didn't hurt that the reviewers loved her in our two previous features."
Larry said, "And see, that's why I want you with Vivid. Her role wouldn't have been shit if someone hadn't written that good role. Please, prove me wrong about star power. Come up here on a one-year contract, find the girls you think are profitable, and create good features for them to be in. After that year is up, we'll talk. If you hate it, you can go back to San Diego."
"Back to what?" I asked. "I wouldn't have a job. Dude, it's hard to explain. I have a personal commitment to Inana. I can't break it off, I would be upsetting too many people. Inana is home. It's not about money or comfort, it's about the personal trust quite a few people have placed in me to run and grow Inana into an industry powerhouse. I can't break that trust."
Larry opened his mouth to yell, then shut it. He said, "Okay. I'll let this go for the time being. You have my card, you can call me whenever you feel like. I'm gonna take a piss, then come back and see how many girls are topless on the dance floor by now. Talk to you later, Lenny." He shook my hand and walked off.
The entire time I had been sitting at the bar, random girls had been walking up to me, saying, "Hi, Lenny!" and giving me a hug. I'd checked with Larry and he didn't know who they were. I looked around. Bekka's position was easy to spot, she was like a dust devil going through the party. Everybody was happy to see Becky Page was there to have fun. And she was. I figured it out around the fifteenth hug. Bekka was still dispersing hits of Ecstasy, and was telling the price of the free hits to all female recipients: see the punk rocker at the bar? Go hug him, his name is Lenny.
I walked through the crowd on the dance floor, straight to the DJ booth. I collared the DJ and requested "Don't Argue" by Cabaret Voltaire, serious dance floor fodder. He gave me the thumbs up and set it on the turntable, ready and waiting. Then I located Bekka --- a crowd around her --- and grabbed her arm, dragging her onto the dance floor.
"What the hell, pally," she said. "You scared the shit out of me. I thought you were security, carting me off for handing out all these hits. You done at the bar?"
"I'm not done with the bar, but I'm done being there. They still have Johnnie Walker left, and I've spent most of this party turning down large offers of money so that I'll stay loyal to Inana. I turned down $9500 a month and a free apartment just so I wouldn't disappoint Angel. So I take it you got more people high?"
"Yeah. I've pretty much guaranteed that there will be a large hardcore of partiers who won't leave until they're thrown out. You've been getting your hugs, right?"
"Don't Argue" started, and I began grooving. Bekka joined in. Looking around, I saw why Larry was eager to watch the dancing. There were at least ten girls out on the floor with no tops on. A boob man's heaven. Bekka picked up on the vibe and began unbuttoning her blouse. I stopped her, gesturing at her left hip. Her getting topless would have exposed her waist holster, the Colt Defender hanging out for all to see. It was warm in that room, but I still was keeping my jacket buttoned because of my LAPD-loathed Beretta under my arm. Don't know why I bothered, as everyone knew I had a gun. I hadn't dropped the guy in the aisle with a slingshot. Still, good manners dictated.
"Don't Argue" ended, and was followed by "Sex, Money, Freaks," the next track. I glanced up and saw the DJ booth was empty. The DJ must have known this album well enough to recognize that all of side one was serious fodder, food for feet. He'd gone to use the can and grab a drink. Hey, that was fine with me, I could keep to going through the whole album.
Bekka rolled her eyes and reached behind herself with both hands. She unhooked her bra and did the "pull your bra off through a sleeve" routine so many women are good at. She hung the bra over my shoulder and unbuttoned her see-through blouse, letting it hang. That allowed her to expose herself, without giving exposure to her Colt. She grooved along with the music.
Sure enough, the DJ let the entire album side play through. Bekka and I were sweating, and needed drinks. Especially me. I needed to numb the memories of my evening, having killed two men. We headed to the bar and found space, leaning on the bar top and ordering Coronas. The guy next to us had been there the entire time I'd been at the bar, and it showed.
"Saaay," he said, "You're Becky Page!"
"That's me," she replied. "And you are?"
"I'm Carmen Kowolski, I run Two-Time Video. Hottest thing out there right now, we're number one. God damn, I'm talking to Becky Page with her tits out! This is a good moment in time. So you wanna make good money, girl? Fuck those idiots you work for now, come and make video with me. I'll treat you good, you'll be on top of the world."
"So I should stop working with my own husband in favor of doing loops for a company I've never heard of?" Bekka asked in a cool manner.
"Husband?" declared Carmen. "What husband, you're single, says so in all the magazines. Don't lie to me, bitch."
"Did you just say 'bitch' to my wife?" I asked. "Kowolski, it's time for you to start running. You're gonna walk funny with this bottle up your ass."
Carmen looked at me and said, "Fuck you, ugly, stay out of this. I'm talkin' to her."
I said to Bekka, "Excuse me for a moment, dear." Bekka got out of the way, knowing what was coming next. I grabbed Carmen by the neck and punched him in the jaw, twice. He hollered both times. I spun him around and grabbed his wrist, which I twisted between his shoulder blades and began marching him out to the doors. When we reached them I put my foot on his ass and pistoned him outside. I looked at the surprised security dude and said, "This man is drunk. Don't let him in here again. He needs to go sleep it off."
I went back inside, where Bekka was waiting with fresh beers for each of us. She suggested we go be social, she'd introduce me to the new friends she'd made. Fine with me, I like people. We hadn't moved far when we came across a cluster of folks heading toward the bar. They were from a booth we'd handed out hits to earlier in the evening, and were feeling fantastic. One of the girls shimmied up to me and asked, "So you really saved Lois Ayres from kidnappers? You shot a guy here at the convention?"
"Um, yeah," I answered. "I found Ms. Ayres after they'd cut her loose. I knew they were in the neighborhood, and I was cruising around looking for their car. And I shot the guy after he shot at me. No avoiding it. They were taking Lois, and I wanted to stop them."
"Wooow. How come you had a gun with you?"
"I always have a gun with me. So does Becky. They've come in useful."
"Should I get a gun?" she asked me.
I smiled and said, "I have no idea how you live your life, so I can't say. If you find yourself in situations where people are trying to kill you, then it's not a bad idea. Otherwise, you've just got that much less room in your purse."
"Where is your gun?"
I opened my jacket and pointed at the butt of my Beretta. Her eyes got big. She reached for it, and I blocked her off, buttoning my jacket again.
"I shouldn't have a gun," she suddenly announced. "I get too pissed off at people on the freeway when I'm driving."
"It's good you have that self-awareness," I said. "No, you shouldn't get a gun if you think you'd be motivated by temper into using it. I've pointed my gun in anger once in my life, when I caught Bekka--- Becky cheating on me. I aimed it at the man she was with. I had to do a little soul-searching for a while afterwards."
"Have you ever cheated on her?" the girl asked, wide-eyed.
"Not exactly," I explained. "I have two lovers besides Becky, both of whom were arranged by her. My own wife found me other women to fool around with. She figures that she spends her days fucking, I should be able to, too. It's an interesting situation we have."
Bekka and I stayed at the party until four. Between all the people we'd given Ecstasy to and the large amounts of cocaine around, things were still going strong when we left. Since it was a private event, the bar didn't close. Despite the drugs, I was tired: I'd had an eventful evening, and my brain wanted to shut down and regroup for a while. We walked back to the motel, me singing "Borrowed Time" by the Bad Town Boys over and over as we did. We hit the room and stripped down, gratefully crawling into bed. I set our alarm call and we were out before the room was all the way dark.
We hit the shower and got dressed, heading straight for the convention center. Angel had promised to round up donuts for the morning, so we checked in and headed straight for the lounge to get coffee, then to the booth. Angel had come through. I grabbed an apple fritter and checked out the booth. Half an hour to go, and we were ready to rock. Bekka and I decided to to pay a visit to the Vivid booths, see how they were doing. We got to the first one and I was practically tackled by Larry.
"Buddy, I've got twenty girls who are dragging ass. You got any more of those pills? I'll give you anything you want, I'll pay street price for them, please help me out here," he rabbited at me.
"Dude, don't panic," I said. "I got plenty. Let's start handing them out. There's no guests on the floor, so we can disperse them without anyone over our shoulders."
Bekka said, "How about you buy lunch for the Inana booth? Chinese? That sound fair enough? I'll check with the concierge for a local place that delivers."
Larry looked relieved. "Hey, no problem there. There's a place not too far away that's got good food, we ordered from them last year. What time did you want to eat?"
"I guess about 1:30," I said.
"I'll stop by your booth around 12:30 and get orders. And tell your scam artist to not worry, I'll leave him alone. You ready?"
We were ready. Bekka handed out pills and the both of us collected hugs. Most of the girls weren't used to being high on a methamphetamine products, and hadn't really slept. They needed relief, more than coffee (or cocaine) would provide, and were happy to dose again. I suggested to them that they have a few drinks when they got home that night, maybe smoke some weed if they had it. We had brought a few joints, but that vibe was not what was called for, not when it came to dealing with throngs of horny fanboys. Being up, and sharp, was the ticket. We handed Ecstasy to the last of the girls just as the welcome announcement came over the P.A. system. Bekka and I looked at each other and ran back to the Inana booth.
Bekka checked her makeup. I cued up Bad Babysitter on the VCR. Bud and Lou entered the booth, and had caught a fashion clue since the day before: they were in normal sport coats and dress shirts. Vince and Chip trotted in and dived for the donuts. The girls stood around the edges of the booth, inviting passersby to come in, have a snack, and watch a movie. Best features in the convention, right here, playing all day, including Bewitched. Yes, that's us, would you like to meet Becky Page? Becky honey, there's a man here to see you. Me? My name is Sue, I'm new with Inana. Watch for me in our loops.
I got cornered by three Bewitched fans and quizzed over Ursula's motivations. I explained to them, as I had before, that Ursula didn't have any goals: Ursula was insane, and didn't process the long-term effects of what she was doing. She simply wanted to do it, consequences be damned.
"But the first time we see Ursula, she's sitting in her throne masturbating," said one of the fans. "Surely she created the spells out of self-interest."
One of the others said, "But man, she never uses them for her own enjoyment. Okay, twice. She could have created an army of sex slaves if she wanted to."
I said, "Ursula never uses her spells for her own pleasure. In that girl/girl scene with the other witch from her coven --- who's here today, by the way --- all she's doing is proving herself right, that her spells do work, and not even other witches are immune to them, they're that powerful. And her two-on-one scene, that wasn't her being motivated by lust, but her trying to regain control of her spells. It finally occurred to her what insanity she had unleashed on the world, and wanted to see if it could be collected, neutralized. Then she tells her other coven members that her spell can be contained, but won't tell them how. They figure it out anyway.
"So far as Ursula masturbating at the beginning goes, well, people have been doing that to entertain themselves since we evolved as a species. Dudes, I was pandering. Remember, this is a porn film we're discussing. Becky only had two fuck scenes, and one was a girl/girl. We had to work Becky into the mix a bit more, and that seemed like a good way of doing it. If it's any comfort to you Becky Page fans, that was a real orgasm. She didn't fake it."
The third guy asked suspiciously, "How do you know?"
I laughed and said, "Three reasons. First, I asked her to give me a real one. Second, she told me afterwards she came like a waterfall. And third, I'm married to her, and would have spotted a fake one. Hard to fool your own husband when it comes to that sort of thing."
All three guys made "wow" faces at the same time.
I asked them, "So how nobody ever asks me about 'Dangerous Desires'? I know people buy that one, and I had a blast making it."
The second guy said, "Oh, hey, I loved 'Dangerous Desires,' great movie. But there's no questions about it. There are so many doors left open by 'Bewitched,' you know? I mean, I'm at a porn convention, and I've just spent the last ten or fifteen minutes talking to some dude, instead of hanging around booth babes. Man, you wrote a movie that fascinates. And it's hot. Man, you made a porno movie that people will watch over and over because it makes them think, you know?"
"Well.... Thanks. I'm glad everyone enjoys the damn thing so much. I had a blast making it."
"Are you really married to Becky Page?" asked the third one.
"Sure am," I said. "Her real name is Bekka Schneider, you can go ask her."
"What's it like?"
I smiled and said, "It's heaven. I married a wonderful woman. No asking her out to dinner, okay? She'll turn you down and I'll have to pistol-whip you."
The three sensed the interview was at an end and got up to check the racks. All three grabbed copies of Young Becky. Two went over and accosted Bekka, I could tell by their gestures towards me they were asking about her marital status. I grinned, and tapped Angel on the shoulder to let him know I was going to hit the lounge for some coffee and a smoke. Everything was stocked up.
I went into the lounge carrying another fritter, pulled some coffee, and flopped down on a sofa. Within arm's reach there was an ashtray. I needed this. Excluding the actual act of sleep, I felt like I'd been moving around since the previous morning.... Because I had been. I lit a Marlboro and chewed my fritter, staring blankly at the industrial coffee table in front of me. Someone had inscribed the line RW SUCKS DONKEY COCK on it. I suspected that RW was the culprit for this bit of graffiti. My eyes crossed and I fell backwards, methamphetamine be damned. Ten minutes of silence. I wished I was home with the bong close to hand, Jane sitting in my lap and working on my neck. That's how a Sunday should be spent, with a teenage nympho massaging you and your wife putting in an order to Leucadia Pizza for their pasta cheese shells, salad, and plenty of garlic bread. I'd give up cigarettes for their garlic bread, just chew that shit all day instead of smokes. That's where I should be, not in this shrine to adult video, explaining the details of a porno movie I'd written to people that didn't get that when the beans hit the pan, it was still a fuck flick.
I was startled out of my stupor by bouncing on the cushion next to me. I looked over and there was a tiny object I'd come to know as Joann grabbing me by the collars and saying, "Come on, don't start lagging now! Wake up!"
I sat up and nodded. Grabbed the vial out of my front pocket and dumped speed onto the table, arranging it into a line with my pinky. A pen came out of my jacket pocket, which I dismantled and used to snort up my line. All this was watched by Joann, who was at first amazed, then disgruntled.
"That wasn't coke," she said.
"No. That was speed, or meth, or crank, or whatever you call it in Los Angeles. It's how I get through the day. You know, I just did a line around ten this morning, and here I am dozing off. Hi, I'm an addict. How are you?"
Joann looked cowed. "You really use that stuff?" she asked.
I chuckled in her direction, lighting another cigarette. "Use, hell. I'm addicted to it. Can't get through the day without it. So is my wife. We're junkies for amphetamine. Why do you ask?"
She wrinkled her nose. "I've tried that stuff a couple times, and the initial high was great, but then.... I was going into a third day with no sleep, I'd totally rearranged my apartment twice, I couldn't focus on anything. I wanted to hide under my bed because I thought people were outside. That stuff drove me crazy. And you say you use it every day?"
"Me and my wife, yeah," I said. "Did you want a line?"
Joann leaped up on the couch as though I'd shove a funnel up her nose and give it forcefully. "Oh god no. I just.... I can't believe you...." She held up her hands to her face, to block off the drug's effect.
"Is there somebody you wanted to talk to?" I asked.
Her mouth still muffled by her hands, she said, "No. I just want to go back to my booth. I'm sure you're a cool guy, but.... I just can't...."
"That's fine," I replied. "I'm just here relaxing a little bit. You do what's right."
"I just watched you snort a whole bunch of that stuff, and now you're gonna relax? You're crazy. I always heard punk rockers were crazy, but you take the cake, buddy. Yeah. You relax. I gotta get going." Joann sprung up off the sofa and aimed for the door, lit cigarette still in her mouth.
I straightened up, with the intention of aiming for the door myself. I was interrupted by this idea by the arrival of Bekka, who saw me and settled on my lap. I didn't mind. She didn't have a bong, though. Too bad.
"I think we've caused enough chaos here, don't you think?" she asked. "We've still got over a hundred hits left. Best to leave well enough alone. We'll race that to the finish line and see how we total out, shall we?"
I said, "Our achievements are but the sounds of an owl in a mouse's dreams. We will have left our mark, the marks themselves gouging into the flesh of our victims. No one can erase the marks we have left. Hail to us. We will have added numbers and come up with a negative sum. Our scars will never be erased, will they? We're rapists."
Bekka smiled down at me and said, "I wouldn't go quite that far. But we'll have left our mark. Two days tweaking on Ecstasy? We'll have left a permanent mark, one that no one can erase. We destroy, in our own way. Gouges left in brains, the mark left by psychic sadists. Maybe we are rapists, just not in a physical way."
"We'll have left markers, stones to block the pathway. People will stare at the high water mark we've left and wonder how it got there, and why it's so high. We will have imprinted on too many people to have not left a mark. That's why I say we are rapists. No one will recover from meeting us."
Bekka kissed me and said, "You're sick, and I love it. Did you rape anyone today? Anyone I should know about?"
I said, "Well, you know that little chick I got blown by yesterday? The one you threatened to beat the shit out of? She is highly bothered by my drug habit. She ran out of here after watching me snort a line. Go figure. I didn't try to fuck with her head, she did it on her own. The idea of meth scares her."
"Jane would insist she's not a warrior. Dammit, I am. Hand over your vial, I need a jump start. You want one?"
"Just did one. You go ahead." I pulled out my speed and handed it over.
Bekka did up a medium line and lit a cigarette. I sat and watched her smoke, her pupils dilated. She said, "I got asked about a sequel to 'Bewitched.' What do you think, could we pull it off?"
"Probably. I'd have to think about that one, I wouldn't want it to be too derivative of the original. God knows the fans can't get enough of Ursula. This is the first time I've interacted with serious fans of the movie, and I'm amazed at how engaged people are with it. We created a monster."
Bekka said, "Create the monster's offspring soon, before Ursula's ass gets any fatter. I need to start running again. So when I get my tits done, should I go up a couple sizes?"
"Hell no," I said. "You don't have to worry about boob jobs or ass reductions for a while, so stop worrying about them now. You look great, and I can find a lot of people who agree with me. You're fine."
Crushing out her cigarette, Bekka said, "We should probably get back to the booth. Angel may think we took off, and we're running for home."
I stood and stretched. "Yeah. I'm sure there's dudes hanging around waiting to ask me more questions about Ursula's psychology. Let's go."
We went back to the booth, where fans waited on the arrival of Becky Page. I fired up the VCR and leaned on the counter by Gina. Bekka signed autographs and talked with the adoring mob. The other girls did the same. Gina sold a steady stream of cassettes. No way would we make it till close with what we had.
Overall, it was a satisfying weekend. I couldn't wait to find out how Jane had occupied herself in our absence.