The next day we got a call from Ivanka up in San Francisco. We talked to her and Ginny weekly, invariably on Wednesday nights. She had news for us, though.
"Last night we went to Slim's and saw a butch band called Chromewagon. They do a love song for Bekka called 'Heavy Petting Becky' that is the tops. Bekka, you have many lesbians who want you up here, from the reaction of the audience. I bought a tape, and it has that song on it. Shall I send you the tape?"
"Actually, can you find out if they're playing again anytime soon?" I asked. "If they've got a gig anytime between the fifteenth and New Years, we'll come up and see them. We'll have some down time, and Jane will be out of school for winter break. We'll make a road trip out of it, we'll visit some. How about that?"'
Ivanka squeaked and said, "That would be wonderful! I miss you both, and I shall meet Jane!" She called off the phone, "Ginny! Please bring me concert listings!" Into the phone, she said, "Hold on, I can tell you in a moment...."
There was a pause filled with the rustling of paper. Then Ivanka declared, "Yes, Chromewagon is playing on the 22nd at a place called 924 Gilman in Berkeley. It is all-ages, so Jane will be able to enter. Lenny, are you truly going to visit?"
"Unless Bekka has better plans, I don't see why not," I said. "And I'm sure Jane would love to explore San Francisco some."
"But the date, it is so close to Christmas. Won't coming up here disturb your plans for Christmas?" Ivanka asked sadly.
"We don't have any plans. We decided around our house to pretty much opt out of Christmas this year. We're doing stockings and that's it. We sent out cards and presents to our families, but we don't have a tree, we didn't put up lights, we're just giving it a miss. No plans to interrupt."
Just because we were only doing stockings didn't mean I didn't have some fun while shopping. Bekka was getting a diamond tennis bracelet, and Jane was getting a sterling silver death's head ring with rubies in the eyes I'd had custom made for her. Each of them were getting $300 gift certificates to their favorite stores, Berlin Wall for Bekka, Record Center for Jane. I'd had an origami artist fold up the certificates into animal shapes. Both received a load of Godiva chocolates, plus nuts and snacks. Jane got a Game Boy, Bekka getting a promise to install a cell phone in the Plymouth. And I'd gone to to the Space Theater in Balboa Park and got them both psychedelic tops, tops built with science. Something for them to play with when high.
"When will you come up?" asked Ivanka.
I pondered this. "How about.... We leave early in the morning on the 21st, check into a motel, and meet for dinner? We'll meet up at your place and go from there. Do you remember the name of the motel we were staying at when we were up there? I'll call them and get a room reserved for a few nights."
"It was the Sunset," Bekka prompted.
"Yes, the Sunset," said Ivanka. "This is wonderful, I cannot wait to see you and to meet Jane. Would you like to speak with Ginny?"
"Sure. Put her on."
The phone was set down, then Ginny picked it up. "Hello?"
I said, "Hey Ginny, it's Lenny and Bekka, down in San Diego. We're gonna come up and visit, and see the band Chromewagon. What are they like?"
Ginny said, "They're dyke-rock. High energy stuff. The singer has a crush on Bekka, or should I say Becky, and lets it be known. They're fun. They're partiers, too, at least that's their reputation, but if they are they don't get too trashed to play before a show. Bring them some of that Ecstasy you have, they'll love you for it. Actually, the singer will probably be ecstatic just to meet Bekka."
Bekka said, "Maybe I'll get a free t-shirt out of the bargain. Or a tape."
"From the way she talks, you might have a dyke bicycle messenger trying to stow away in the trunk of your car. It's like she knows you're straight, but doesn't care. You're her pet fantasy."
"How do you think she'll react to meeting Becky's husband?" I asked.
Ginny chuckled. "Dismay, no doubt. But she'll have to deal with it if you introduce yourselves to her when you come up. If you're gonna see her at Gilman St., you're gonna be surrounded by kids. I guess you've got that teenage girl living with you now, so she'll blend right in. Let me see.... Yeah, they're playing with Tribe Eight, Spitboy, and Dirt Bike Gang. The audience will be made up of dykes, feminists, and high school kids, by my prediction. Shit, I think that place is run by high school kids."
"Sounds like an interesting scene," I said. "I'm guessing there is no bar."
"Nope, just sodas and candy bars and lots of free condoms. I'm gonna sign off, I never got to shower after work. Want to talk to Ivanka some more?"
"Put her on," said Bekka. "Have a good night, Ginny."
Ivanka picked up. "So you are truly coming to visit? You will come see us?"
"Sure we are."
"Hurrah!" Ivanka squealed. "You shall see this band with us and have fun! I look forward to you! Week and two days I shall see my friends!"
"We can't wait, girl," I said. "I'm gonna get going, okay? I've got to break the news to Jane that she now has plans for Christmas. I think she was planning on spending it with her boyfriend's family."
"Yes, I must go too. Ginny is in the shower, and I am going to dry her off. It is a.... Ritual? Do I say that right? A ritual we do, one person dries the other off after they shower. She dries me after I shower, often early in the morning when I have been at work. It is a kindness we share."
"That's sweet," Bekka and I said together. I continued, "Me and Bekka, we share the shower. It's how we start every day. We have fun."
"Call me on Wednesday again, tell me of your week. I am so happy, I will see my friends again! Good night!" And with that Ivanka hung up the phone.
I hung up and headed up the stairs. Jane was lying on her bed reading, the Exploited playing on her stereo. She noticed me in the doorway, smiled, put her book aside, and held her arms out to me. I climbed on top of her and gave her a passionate kiss. She responded, pulling me close. I broke off the kiss.
"We officially have plans for the holiday," I announced. "We're making a trip up to San Francisco to see our friends Ivanka and Ginny, and to see a band called Chromewagon play. It's gonna be at an all-ages club in Berkeley, so you'll be able to get in without any hitches. Sound good?"
"Sounds great," cooed Jane. "You said an all-ages club? In Berkeley? Is it 924 Gilman?"
"That's the place, yeah. Maximum Rock & Roll has written about the place, haven't they? I didn't pay too much attention."
"Oh wow, I've wanted to visit the place for a while. Gilman St. was started by people from MRR as a nonprofit nightclub for all ages. It's, like, the only club in the world run by the fans themselves. They're all volunteers, except for their security. You'll really dig the place. And we're gonna spend time in San Francisco, too?"
"Yeah. We can go exploring. Wear your Docs, we'll be doing a lot of walking. You didn't have plans, did you?"
Jane rubbed her hand on my chest and said, "Nothing special. Lance invited me --- us --- to his house on Christmas day. He thought our boycott of Christmas sounded really depressing, and wanted us to have someplace to be, you know?"
I laughed at this. "Yeah, spending Christmas with Detective Ross. That really warms the cockles of my heart. Did he check with his folks before making that offer?"
"It was his mom's idea. Having me over, anyway. Lance pointed out how rude it would be to exclude you two. I don't know what she thought you guys would do. Hide in your coffins all day and slaughter a virgin once the sun is down, or something. I think Ross has communicated to Lance's mom that you're a couple of evil people who are exploiting an innocent little girl. Yeah, right."
I rolled off her and lay on my back next to her. "We've never been her favorite people. But I see your point. The good detective probably shares his opinions of us with his wife, so she probably thinks you're a teen prostitute that Bekka and I control. Hell, he'd love to get a statutory rape charge on me, put me in Corcoran or Susanville for a few years. Seize everything we own, and ship you back to Florida. No, I'm afraid Ross has poisoned his wife against us.... Although there would be a bit of sick pleasure in dropping by to wish the family a merry Christmas, see what the reaction is. They home tomorrow?"
"I guess," said Jane. "They're all home in the evenings, and Lance didn't mention any plans."
"I'm headed to the mall tomorrow. Lance's family is getting the most monstrous, decadent gift basket Hickory Farms offers. The three of us will drop by to say hello tomorrow after their dinner is finished. Who knows, maybe a little more time around us will convince Lance's mom we're not evil."
Jane rolled over on top of me and said, "That could help. Anything that helps his mom think you're not a couple of monsters is a good thing. She doesn't understand why I'm so devoted to you, and so defensive. I've tried to tell her, in so many words, that you're both wonderful to me and I love you both. Obviously I can't tell her, 'Lenny makes me come my brains out on a regular basis,' I know that. Nobody gets told about that. But I wish she would take some things at face value. I'm gator bait from Florida who was taken in by a wonderful couple in California, now I'm a student at a normal high school living in a normal house. I'm not hiding anything except for the things that might get people hurt, you know?"
She slid up me, positioning herself so that our noses were millimeters away. "Hey Lenny, make out with me," she requested. She gave me a gentle kiss.
"Sorry, but I'm with Bekka tonight," I told her. "She wants some private time."
Jane pouted at me. "I just wanna make out some," she protested.
I rubbed her back and said, "There is no such thing as just making out with you. You'll get fired up, and you'll want more. You'll want me to fuck you, and it's Bekka's turn tonight."
"I can control myself."
"No you can't."
She wriggled against me and gave me a pleading look. "Please?"
I sighed. "Okay, we can make out for a little while. But when your hand heads for my dick, I'm out. We're just having some PG fun, okay?"
"That's fine," Jane said, and got her tongue in my mouth. She was a good girl.... For about ten minutes, then she couldn't hold back and slid her hand down to my crotch.
I moved her hand and said, "If I make you come, will you leave me alone? Be a good girl?"
She smiled and said, "Okay."
"Drop your pants, fuck toy."
She rolled off of me and slithered out of her leather pants and undies. "What are you going to do?" she asked.
"Go down on you," I replied. "I know my little fuck toy likes that, and I can take her breath away by doing that."
I got my head between Jane's thighs and went to work, to her screeching joy. Bekka came up to see what the ruckus was about, and stood at the side of the bed watching us. After Jane's third orgasm she dropped her panties and pulled her skirt up, then got on the bed. "My turn now," she said. "Jane spoils you, she comes too easily. You gotta work at this pussy. C'mon, make me come."
I shifted to the left and began going down on my wife, to her gasping joy. Within three minutes she was coming. I switched my attentions back to Jane, bringing her off again. Then back to Bekka. And so the late afternoon and early evening went, until I finally suggested that dammit, I was hungry and my jaw was starting to get sore. Let's go hit the restaurant for some dinner. Bekka and Jane reflected and agreed, food was a good idea. They hiked up their underwear and we took off for Carlos Murphy's at the mall.
After we ate I insisted on finding the Hickory Farms store so I could by a gift package for Detective Ross and his family. A big fancy one, something they'd be snacking on in May. What the hell, it was sausage and cheese, it would keep forever. I chose right: it set me back $220 and took the three of us to cart out to the trunk of the Cadillac. If Hickory Farms sold it, there was some in this package. A honky gourmand's dream. We loaded it in the trunk of the Fleetwood.
"So when should I deliver this package?" I asked.
"No time like the present," said Jane. "They'll all be home and it's early enough we won't be disturbing anyone. Let's go over now."
I tossed the keys to Jane. "You drive, you know where we're headed. Yeah, let's go confuse Detective Ross by being neighborly."
Jane got us back to Encinitas and pulled up in front of a standard suburban home in a neighborhood off El Camino Real. Lance's mom's minivan sat in the driveway, next to a city-issued Crown Victoria. We got out and retrieved food from the trunk. Heading up the walkway, Bekka muttered, "Here goes nothin'."
We ring the bell and the daughter answers the door. She looks mystified at our presence, even with Jane standing front and center. Jane can't be that much of a mystery to her. She's been an audio witness to too many of Jane and Lance's makeout sessions, keeping quiet while Lance got his mack on in his room. She smiles at us and waves at the living room, signalling her step-dad to come to the door. Ross joins the conglomeration at the door, spying us. He simply asked, "What do you want?"
Jane answered for me, saying, "We brought you some Christmas munchies, Mr. Ross. Where would you like us to set them?"
Lance and his mom appeared in the doorway, Lance looking delighted, his mom looking shocked. Lance stepped forward and gave Jane a hug, saying, "Hey honey, what are you doing here?"
"We come bearing goodies," said Jane. "Lenny wanted to get something for the house, and went a little nuts at the Hickory Farms store at UTC. Where should we put it all?"
"Please, come this way, it can go in the kitchen," said Lance's mom. She led us into the house.
We went in the kitchen and set things on the table, boxes of meat and cheese and cakes and assorted snacks. Mrs. Ross stared at the boxes and said, "That's a lot of food."
I said, "Well, you've got a lot of sausage and cheese there, and that stuff keeps forever. Plus mustards and desserts, a bunch of different stuff. Enjoy."
Haley, Lance's sister, stuck her head in and asked, "Summer sausage?"
"Got you covered. I just don't know which box they're in."
Haley snaked a hand in and grabbed a box. "Ooh, this one has cheese logs! Let me grab a knife and the crackers."
Mrs. Ross grabbed the box away and said, "Don't be greedy."
Ross's voice came to us from behind. "Lenny, Bekka, I'd like to talk to you in the living room. Come this way. Please."
Jane followed us as we went to the living room. When we got there, Ross noticed her and said, "Jane, I want to talk to these two alone for a couple minutes. Please wait in the kitchen." Jane got an angry scowl on her face, but did as she was told.
"Got her trained real well, do you?" Ross commented. "She follows you like a puppy. Protective, too. Makes me wonder about the other tricks you've probably taught her."
I said, "So you're still convinced that we whore her out, are you? That idea's still running around in your head?"
Bekka said in her syrupy-sweet voice, "Detective Ross, this is the holidays. Surely you didn't want to talk to us alone just to insult us."
Ross rubbed his chin and said, "I want to know what you're trying to accomplish."
"I hit my big accomplishment over the summer," I said. "I produced a porn video that's proved to be more popular than a lot of Hollywood blockbusters. Now the world wants more out of me. What other accomplishments should we speak of?"
"No, what do you hope to gain with this play tonight? Showing up with all that food?"
"I just felt like doing something nice for your house, that's all. It was spur of the moment."
"A gift from our house to yours," said Bekka.
"Don't try to ingratiate yourselves to us," said Ross. "You know I have you figured out. The only reason I don't forbid Lance from seeing her is Vicky won't allow me to. She thinks Jane is a sweet little girl with a rough exterior. Who knows, maybe she's right. Me, I know Jane is no little girl. Don't lie, I know you know her and Lance are having sex. Maybe Vicky can turn a blind eye to some sort of punk rock hooker seducing her son, but I can't. In a way, I'm glad. He may as well learn from a pro."
"Back to insults, are we?" I asked. "Listen Ross, our two houses are intertwined for the duration of Jane and Lance's dating. Me, I wish nothing but happiness for the both of them. Dammit, take off the badge for a while and relax. This is a friendly visit."
Ross scowled. "I'll take off my badge when you two are locked away. I know that girl is being sexually abused, I'm trained in how to spot it. She lives too nice, and a punk like you couldn't afford it with a normal job. I think you're her pimp."
"Don't you ever call me a pimp," I breathed. "You know exactly what I do for a living. I've been successful at it. I produced the best-selling adult movie of all time. Some of that money trickled down to me. Jane lives the life she does, and has the things she has, because we can afford to indulge her. She's our girl to raise, and there's no reason why she shouldn't have cool stuff. You're right, I don't have a normal job. But it's a legal one, and I've got the records to prove it. You've got questions, I'll give you the phone number of my lawyer, and you can examine my records until your eyes cross. Me and Bekka are clean."
Bekka sighed. "You're right, partially. Jane has been sexually abused in the past. We're helping her work through it, and get rid of a lot of behaviors she learned. She is no longer promiscuous, and despite your assumptions, she doesn't earn money for Lenny and I. You're barking down an empty rabbit hole, Ross. You need to let that subject drop."
"So what was your goal in coming here tonight?" asked Ross. "You think you can pay me off?"
I laughed. "I give you more credit than accepting snacks as a payoff. If I was going to try to bribe you, I'd make it worth your while. But I'm not going to bribe you, because I'm not doing anything wrong. You can think what you want about Jane and us, but ultimately you're just wasting your own time. Now come on, they're opening a cheese log in the kitchen."
"Your rich inner life is affecting your view of the world," said Bekka in her syrupy voice. "Why don't we go have a snack?"
As we headed towards the kitchen I saw a shadow dart in that direction. Jane had been eavesdropping on our little discussion. She greeted Ross with a look of distilled hatred on her face. Lance distracted her with a hug and a cheese-covered cracker. She hugged him back and took the cracker, but did not look mollified.
"So what did you have to discuss about me? I heard my name being used an awful lot," said Jane. "Or should I guess the subject matter?"
Vicky said, "Really dear, Jane and her friends are here for a visit. Surely you aren't talking about unpleasant things off work."
Showing too many teeth, Jane said, "Your husband believes I'm a prostitute, and that Lenny and Bekka are my pimps. It's a load of bullshit."
"Jane, language. Surely you'd tell us if you were in some sort of trouble?"
"If I was in trouble, I'd talk to Lenny and Bekka first. They're my guardians, unofficially. And I'm not in any trouble because of them, either. It's the detective's trip, not mine. I don't know why he decided to dream up things about me."
"A mystery to us too," I sighed.
Lance said to Jane, "You'd tell me if you had problems, right?"
Jane seethed, "The only problem I have is a local cop who has a vendetta against a couple people I love. Sweetie, step out front with me, I need some fresh air." She pulled her pack of Newports out of her sleeve and headed towards the door, to Vicky's tut-tutting as the two teens went outside.
"I don't know why you allow her to smoke," said Vicky.
Bekka said, "A few reasons. First, she already smoked when we hooked up. Second, it would be mighty hypocritical of us to demand she not smoke when we do. And last, she's had a lot of stress in her life, and smoking is a symptom of stress. In the short term at least, there are a lot of worse things she could be doing compared to smoking. Maybe when she goes to college she'll quit, she'll find there's a lot of pressure to not smoke at a place like Berkeley."
"Do you really believe you can send her to Berkeley?" asked Ross.
"In a heartbeat," I said. "She's got the grades for it, and a friend of ours said he'll pay her way. With her doing her last two years of high school at Carlsbad, she'll meet the residency requirements to get in. She's a shoo-in."
"You said a friend of yours is going to pay her tuition to Berkeley?"
"Tuition, board, and living expenses, plus some mad money." It was true. Don Ventimiglia had promised Jane he would cover all costs for her to go to college. His only demand being that she get decent grades. She was a grand-niece that he never had.
Ross scoffed. "You've got some generous friends."
I smiled at him. "Generous and rich. I hang around successful men. This one wants Jane to be a success as a student, and is willing to pay for it. A school like Berkeley has pedigree, and that's where Jane wants to go, so Berkeley it is."
"So what does your rich friend get out of the deal?"
"A hug. Two hugs, actually. One at her high school graduation, and one when she gets her college diploma. Me and Vito have helped each other out in the past, and Jane is like a granddaughter to him, so this is something he's happy to do."
Ross scowled some more. "So who is your friend? Does he have a name?"
I said, "Yeah, Vito Ventimiglia, he's a successful businessman up in LA."
Ross punched his fist into his hand. "I know that name. He's a mobster. So you're telling me that not only are you friends with a mobster, but he's going to pay for Jane to go to college?"
"Hey, Vito is a legitimate businessman," I shot back. "He's a cool guy, we've had fun together. And he's never been indicted for anything."
"You know, Lenny, I half-believe you," said Ross with a sour grin. "I almost fully believe you. But then common sense tells me that this is part of your little fantasy about being in the mafia. I suppose stranger things have happened than Don Vito Ventimiglia befriending some punk from San Diego. I just haven't seen any of them."
Jane and Lance came back in. I said to Jane, "Hey, who's your favorite uncle?"
"Uncle Vito!" Jane replied.
"And what's he doing for you when you graduate high school?"
"Sending me to college."
I turned back to Ross. "There you have it. My associations aren't imaginary. Hell, you can meet him yourself in a year and a half, he'll be down for Jane's graduation. The man is always welcome in my house."
Vicky and Haley had been watching our exchange like a tennis match. Ross glared and said, "I'll look forward to that. Knowing you, Lenny, hanging around a mob boss probably would seem like the pinnacle of cool."
I said, "The thing is, Ross, you don't know me at all. You had preconceived notions planted in your head by Donner, and you've stuck with them. Come on, how much trouble have I had since I moved into my new house?"
Ross chuckled derisively. "Please, Lenny. The first time we met was because of a dead woman on your property. The next time we met you'd shot a man down in the street...."
"A man that was trying to kill Bekka and me," I pointed out.
"And I know your history. I know about the stabbing, the firebombing, the shooting at your studio, Bekka going to jail for her gun. Maybe I'm wrong about you two and Jane. I doubt it. All I know is you're trouble looking for a place to happen, and I don't want it happening in my town. You can make your dirty movies up there in La Costa, you're on county land there. You bring one camera into Encinitas and I'll bust you for pandering and production of obscene materials. I don't think there's a dollar that's too low for you to try to scoop up. But I want quiet in this town, do you get me?"
"So do I," I replied. "I live here."
Vicky stood up from the table and said, "Enough of this. Lenny, Bekka, Jane, I thank you most sincerely for your gift. We'll be snacking for a while, from the looks of it. It's getting close to bedtime, I'm going to have to put you out. I'm glad to see the three of you looking well. Take care of yourselves."
I tucked one last cracker and cheese in my mouth and the three of us headed for the door. Lance followed us out so he could get a curbside hug from Jane. He said, "You and my stepdad had it out, huh?"
I replied, "Just the continuation of a dialogue we've been holding since we first met. He hates us, he hates our cars, he hates our money.... I don't know what to do to convince him that we're clean. Hell, even the IRS loves me, that's how straight I am. Like Jane said, it's his trip."
"Who's this guy Uncle Vito?" asked Lance. "Jane's mentioned him before."
I said, "Um, he's a friend from LA. He's an older dude that I met through some business associates. He's a really good guy, you'd like him."
"And he's gonna pay Jane's way through college?"
"That's what he's promised us. He's made some good investments over the years, he lives in Bel Air, he is definitely in the position to pay for four years of college for someone."
Lance leaned on the roof of the Cadillac. He asked, "Are you guys really associated with the mafia? That's been driving my stepdad nuts for a while now."
Bekka smiled and said, "Yes, we are. Including Jane, she's their mascot, and Don Ventimiglia loves her to death. Lance, we have mafia ties. We can't lie to you."
Jane threw in, "I've got a whole bunch of new uncles now."
Lance looked less shocked than I'd expected. "So is that why you guys are rich?"
I cleared my throat and said, "I've earned every penny I've made. Inana is a success. I earn a healthy salary so long as I keep cranking out porn people want to see. We're still selling thousands of copies of 'Bewitched' every week. My ties have helped, but I've worked for what I have. Got me?"
"How popular is 'Bewitched', anyway?" asked Lance.
Bekka laughed. "What 'Star Wars' did for cinema, 'Bewitched' has done for porn. It's a breakthrough. Never before has a porn flick generated so much attention. We've sold over a million copies of it just by mail order. That doesn't count all the copies sold in adult book stores --- another million or so there --- or the number of copies out on rental. Or being copied and passed around. We broke bigger than 'Deep Throat' and are continuing to gain. 'Bewitched' is something that happens once in a lifetime, and it happened to Lenny when he was twenty-two. Your stepdad wonders why Lenny is rich, and I can get the figures and facts why that's true. We made a blockbuster, and everyone loves us."
The door of the house swung open and a masculine voice called, "It's time to go to bed. Come in."
Lance leaned over the roof of the Fleetwood and said, "Over two million copies so far? That's too cool. You deserve it, it's an awesome movie. I gotta go in. Jane, lemme get one last hug from you...."
Jane stepped forward and swung Lance into her arms. "Hey, Shakespeare palooka, I'll see you in school, okay? Sweet dreams. Think about the things I could be doing to you alone in your room."
Even by the glare of the street light, Lance looked a little pink. "I'll, uh, keep those in mind!" he said, and darted up the walkway.
I fired up the Fleetwood and pointed towards home. As we rolled, Bekka pointed out, "We're good at creating chaos, aren't we? We go to drop off a Christmas gift and we have a cop barking down our necks. What gives with that?"
"That man is working my last nerve," announced Jane as we rolled. "I heard what he had to say about me and about you guys, and I'm sick of it. He really would throw the book at you if he found out we fool around, wouldn't he?"
"In a heartbeat," Bekka replied. "Now you understand why it's such a secret. There's just a few people who know about us: Eddie, Elspeth, and Sue. We have to keep it that way."
I said, "Well, hopefully the family will enjoy the food. Haley was happy about it, that's for sure. I'm still amused that Ross thought we were trying to buy him off. It takes more than a Hickory Farms gift basket to buy a cop. I should call Angel and ask what the going rate is these days."