Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Bodyguard (Part 4)

     At precisely four the doorbell rang.  I got up to get it.  Bekka was upstairs working, and Angel was flopped on the sofa reading an old issue of Maximum Rock 'N' Roll. He had a face that expressed total incredulousness.  As an expression of a culture, MRR was like hieroglyphs, enlightening but completely foreign.  Angel would later confess to a morbid curiosity with the magazine.  Seeing people expound so passionately on totally alien subjects fascinated him.
     I opened the door to Nicky's less than happy face.  "I knew it was you," he said. "I recognized the building.  The fuck is this, some kind of a joke?  You put the Don up to this?  You notice I am not laughing, I am not amused."
     I said, "You have been asked to bodyguard a woman named Becky Page for seventy-two hours, right?  You're in the right spot.  She's upstairs right now, but she should be back within half an hour."
      "I know who the fuck Becky Page is," said Nicky, stepping inside at my gesture.  "So you're saying saying this is where she makes her fuck movies?  And she works for you?"
     "You could put it that way.  Simpler to say she is my wife, I am her husband, and I write and produce movies for her to star in.  This is a family-owned studio, surely you  must have heard something about both me and Inana Productions."
     "I ignore all that crap.  Especially about what you do.  Porn is poison to the brain, it'll cut you down in your prime if you let it."
     I grinned at this. "I produce it, Bekka stars in it.  What problems and bad habits we have are unrelated to porn in any way.  Come into my office."
     We stepped into my office, where Angel barely looked up from his magazine.  Nicky looked at Angel, then startled and said, "M-Mr. Morelli!  What are you doing here, sir?"
     Angel sat up and put down the magazine.  He said, "Hello Nicky.  Thank you for coming down.  I'm here looking in on my investment, and to help out a couple friends.  With Bekka's popularity comes obsessed weirdos, people who harass and annoy.  I wished to alleviate this problem for her, and that is why you are here."
     "And who are your friends, sir?" Nicky asked nervously.
     "Well, Bekka of course, and Lenny.  Who else would I mean?"
     Nicky burst out, "This guy?  He's the one who hid Don Ventimiglia away for four days!  Are you aware of the hell he put people through?  This guy's a scumbag!"
     Angel regarded Nicky coldly.  "The Don came to Lenny and his family and asked for shelter.  Lenny provided it.  He acted in an honorable manner, obliging a powerful and venerated man, obliging the Don his wishes, which were to be left alone by the family and have fun.  I was angry too, when I found out, but if I'd been in his shoes, I would have done the same thing for Don V.  And do not call my friends scumbags.  Are you sure you're up for this task?  You aren't just clearing a path for two or three people, you must discern between Bekka's true fans and those who would stalk her, capture her.  You know, creeps.  You get rid of the creeps, you let the fans in.  Can you differentiate?"
     "I, uh, I guess so.  No problem.  Tell me, how do you two know each other?"
     Angel said, "I own this studio, Inana Productions.  Lenny here was an employee, our still photographer.  When our last head guy went crazy, I promoted Lenny into the head position.  I'd been observing him, and felt his intelligence, mixed with his initiative, were well suited to running the place for me.  I was also the one to draft him into cosa nostra.  I felt he may spark life into a rather staid organization.  I was right, he arranged  for the mafia to enter into the Ecstasy trade, where our product is the most sought after around.  Over drinks, over cocaine, and just through good companionship we have come to respect each other, and regard each other as true friends.  Through his genius, he has made me very rich, and I in turn have directed money back to him.  We have...."
     Nicky interrupted.  "I have to ask, in what way is he a genius?"
     "Lenny writes and produces the world's best pornography.  Between him, his pool of acting talent, and his director, they make porno films that are genuinely engaging as movies, real entertainment.  He arouses and entertains at the same time, something no other porn film has been able to do.  And he does this on budgets of under $400,000 and three weeks production time.  Surely you've seen 'Bewitched?'  That was the real break-through movie.
     "No sir, I haven't.  Porn clouds your thinking."
     I chuckled at this.  Angel looked surprised, then said, "I insist that you see 'Bewitched.'  It is a movie that will make you think, truly stimulate your mind.  And it's fun as hell.  The big difference with what Lenny does versus other porn studios is that in his movies the sex is part of the natural flow of the narrative, intrinsic to the plot.  In other people's stuff the sex feels tacked on, added for the sake of itself.  So you'll watch one of Lenny's movies and suddenly realize you're watching an incredible amount of really hot sex, but it never feels like a separate event from the rest of the movie.  Lenny, how many movies have you written and produced for me so far?"
     I said, "Umm....  Six or seven.  Let me go over them real quick.  Okay, 'Lust Instructor,' 'Wedding Party,' 'Bad Babysitter,' 'Bewitched,' 'Rocker Girls,' 'Dangerous Desires,' and 'Temporary Pleasures."  So seven so far....  Although on three I had co-writers.  The first two Vinny and I wrote together, and 'Temporary Pleasures' was mostly Eddie Steinberg, coming up with all the great laughs. I created the framework and structure, he filled in all the empty spots with really juicy satire.  Right now I'm working on the sequel to 'Bewitched,' it's gonna be a fun one, and that reminds me, Angel.  I'd like a budget cap of $500,000 for 'Bewitched II' so that we don't skimp on special effects.  It's gonna be more than just fireballs and zaps and lighting across the screen this time.  Is five hundred okay?"
     Angel said, "Hell, make it six, and that's as an advisory.  On this one, what you want, you get.  Once we get word out about our sequel, the excitement will only build.  People are gonna be thrilled, like 'Empire Strikes Back' thrilled.  I have no doubt you're gonna build another blockbuster."
     I unplugged the back line and put in the cord from the Macintosh.  Angel and Nicky stared at the computer as it made its modem noises.  The Becky Page Fans BBS came up.  I called Angel over so he could have a look.  The most recent was only three minutes old, the header reading, "I hate cynics."  The message was, "I got into a discussion with my Communications instructor over when a celebrity's popularity is justified or not.  I used Becky as an example of valid celebrity, and he laughed!  He said Becky will never be valid because all she does is porn.  Well DUH.  I pointed out that she does really brilliant porn, and had he ever seen any of it?  He says he's seen porn before, he doesn't need to see Becky's.  Damn that's like saying you've never heard Mozart, but you did once hear someone play a piano, so what's the difference?  I don't think I can respect this man any more -- I'll find out in a couple days, I'm loaning him a couple tapes, so he can see why one of his (gasp) female students is so hung up on a porn star.  We'll see."
     Another one simply stated, "party???" and read, "i want to organize a big party like the la mesa one but i dont know where to start.  it would be on my street in clairemont, id expect about the same no. of people, id have kegs and bbqs going and hopefully becky! would show up.  advice please."
     There were several replies to this, the advice saying things like "Contact your city PD and tell them you want to block off a street on such-and-such date," "Have keg-minders to keep the kids out of the beer," "Porta-potties are essential," and "Let the neighbors know."  One respondent said, "Something like the La Mesa party is once in a lifetime.  Becky has better shit to do than hang around with computer nerds in the suburbs.  As much as I'd love to see her again (and get another hug) I'm not holding my breath for her to show up at another block party full of geeky fans."
     I read quickly through the gossip, the usual claims that Becky was going to go mainstream with her acting.   In a twist on this theme, one claimed that Becky had a fantastic singing voice, but wasn't going to become a pop star: she was going to go into opera.  Start in the choir for the San Diego Opera, and work her way up.  I chuckled at this, then invited Angel to have a seat at my desk.  I showed him how to navigate around on the board and left him to it.  Sticking my hand in my pocket, I grabbed the meth pipe and stepped into the hallway to take a few hits.
     Nicky followed me.  He watched me heating the bowl, and said, "Okay, some kind of drugs.  What?"
     I moved the lighter away and replied, "It's speed.  Or crank, or meth, or crystal, or tweak, or dope, or shit.  Methamphetamine is the legal name."
     "And you can smoke it?"
     "Yeah.  Watch."  I got good smoke going and started taking a hit.  When I was maxed out, I blew a plume at the ceiling.  Nicky looked at the white cloud in amazement.
     "It doesn't have an odor," he pointed out.  "How is that possible?  I've heard about the garbage that goes into making that shit."
     "I don't do bathtub crank," I said.  "What I get is of pharmaceutical quality.  Keeps you going, too.  You wanna hit?"
     "Fuck no," Nicky said.  "I don't want to die, even if you do."
     Just then Bekka came down the stairs and turned into the hallway towards the office wearing her kimono robe.  She saw me standing there, saw what I had in my hand, and smiled.  "Just what I'm in the mood for, darling."  She briefly examined Nicky, six feet of muscle in an Italian suit, and said, "Hello, you must be Nicky.  I'm Bekka.  Apparently I'm the one who needs minding, even though Lenny has been doing a good job of it.  He can't always be with me, so I understand Angel's concern.  So I guess we'll see how this goes."
     Nicky  said, "Ma'am, is your name Becky or Bekka?  I'm confused."
     "Please call me Bekka, that's my real name.  The public knows me as Becky Page, a twenty-two year old porno queen who is the darling of the smut world, teenage girls, and horny post-feminists.  Becky Page is an icon, a symbol of powerful feminine sexuality, a woman strong enough to ask for what she wants from her lovers.  It goes without saying that Becky is bisexual."
     Bekka began taking a hit off the pipe.  Nicky said, "You do that stuff too?"
     She was busy, so I answered in her stead.  "Evidently so.  We just recently started smoking it.  We've been snorting our dope for years, but considering how much the stuff burns when you snort it, we figure we should give our sinuses a rest.  It's a better high when you smoke it, too."
     Bekka blew a plume gently towards the ceiling.  "And it makes such pretty white clouds, too," she declared to Nicky.  "Lenny babe, let me take a couple more hits, then I simply must go up and shower.  I smell of dick from head to foot."
     Nicky rolled his eyes at this announcement, watching Bekka suspiciously as she hit the pipe again.  I stepped in the office to see how Angel was doing.  He was engrossed in the computer, reading posts on the board.  He looked up at me and said, "My god, Lenny, these people are obsessed with Bekka.  They're all crazy."
     "It's not Bekka, it's Becky Page they're ga-ga over.  Good people though.  We went to a block party that was being thrown for members of this BBS, and Bekka did nothing but sign autographs, talk, and hug people for four hours straight.  To them, Becky Page is like a post-feminist Wonder Woman come to life.  A highly oversexed Wonder Woman.  Becky Page embodies strength and coolness."
     Bekka stepped into the office and handed me the pipe.  "Best to reload it," she said.  "Nicky is mystified why we're not coughing up blood right now.  I'm off to shower, back in just a few."  She trotted off.
     Nicky came in and said, "Mr. Morelli, I'm surprised you're not bothered by those two using drugs the way they do.  You're not bothered?"
     Angel said, "Yes, I am bothered.  Lenny and Bekka are both addicts, I worry about them.  But they have been using the same drug for as long as I have known them.  They have merely changed their means of ingestion.  And they have no faults which can be blamed on their use of crank.  Their lives are orderly, they are in good health, they do not live as if enslaved.  I can only criticize their addiction for being an addiction."
     "Hey Nicky, do you play pinball?  'Cos that's what's on the docket for tonight.  Mall food and pinball."
     "I can't remember the last time I played pinball," sneered Nicky.
     I said, "Well, it's a big arcade they got.  You'll find something to occupy your time."
     Ten minutes later Bekka was back down, fully clothed and ready to go.  I'd already melted a fresh bowl into the pipe, and I handed it off to her.  She took a hit and gave it back, saying, "Let's take a few more hits once we're home, then leave it alone.  We'll be high enough for the night."
     I rolled the pipe up in a bandana I'd folded for precisely that reason and shoved it in my pocket.  I said, "Okay Nicky, you'll be following us home.  We'll ride mellow so you don't lose us.  If we do get separated, the address is 816 Neptune St., just south of the beach parking lot.  When we get home you get to meet Jane, the girl who lives with us.  You'll be in a room next to hers for the next three nights.  Angel, what are your plans?"
     "I'm going to keep reading for a while," Angel said.  "This is too fascinating.  I'll go out for some dinner in a while, and sleep in the penthouse again.  I want to be there for the signing tomorrow, so I'll want to be rested.  Hint hint, Lenny and Bekka."
     Bekka, Nicky and I stepped outside and into the driveway.  The bikes sat waiting, helmets dangling from handlebars.  Nicky stared as we zipped up our leathers, pulled on gloves, and got helmets in place.  "Jesus, do you two do anything that isn't gonna kill you?" he asked.''
     Bekka chuckled.  "We've both had so many attempts made on our lives that we're inured to the idea of death.  We should be dead, but we're not.  Sometimes I wonder if we're immortals."
     I realized that both Gayla and Rio were still at the studio.  I needed to see Rio, I had her $400 in cash for her.  On the second floor I checked the main sound stage.  Both Steves and Mickey were wrapping up equipment.  The next sound stage down had a slightly open door.  I could hear panting.  Stepping in the door revealed the sight of Rio flat on her back, legs spread wide.  Gayla was between Rio's thighs, licking, sucking, fingering.  Both of them gazed up at me as I entered.
     "Hi, Lenny," said Gayla.  "I've decided I like women as well as men.  I think Rio is really hot, and she's allowing me to indulge myself."
     Rio said, "I'm in heaven right now.  She keeps making me come.  Oh god...."  She gasped as Gayla clamped her mouth back over Rio's pussy.
     I walked over and handed Rio her money.  She said to Gayla, "Bitch, I'm taking you out for dinner and drinks, okay?  I just got paid."
     Gayla lifted her head and replied, "Cool.  I just need to call my husband, tell him I've got plans.  We'll call it a business dinner."
     "That works.  Your turn."  Rio sat up and grabbed Gayla by the shoulders.  She pushed her backwards, then went face-first into Gayla's pussy.  Gayla moaned her appreciation.
     I smirked, wished the two of them a good evening, and went out.  Apparently Gayla was working through any shyness she may have had,  putting her wants and desires up front.  It was as if her inner libertine was coming  out to play.  Well, this was a good a place as any to sexually explore.  If nothing else, she would know that any partners she chose would be healthy.
     Nicky had brought his car, a new Lincoln Continental, to the foot of the driveway.  Bekka and I putted down and into the street.  Nicky fell in behind us.  We kept it mellow, making sure to not rocket away when leaving stoplights.  When we got home I waved Nicky up next to me.
     I said, "Wait until we get the bikes parked, then park so you're blocking the Lincoln and the Cutlass.  We'll take the Plymouth when we leave again."  I rolled the Sportster into its space, Bekka doing the same thing on the other side of the Cutlass.  Nicky cut the Lincoln in sharply, getting the car inside our driveway.  Better parallel parking than I expected from a Los Angeles driver.
     "Grab your stuff and come on up," I said, gesturing.  Nicky followed me and Bekka up into the house.  When we got to the living room, we found Jane sitting on the floor in front of the coffee table.  Her favorite porno movie, Rocker Girls, played on the TV.  She smiled and waved at us, and stared at Nicky.  There was undisguised lust in her eyes.
     "Hey," Jane said.  "Just knocking out my homework before we head to the mall, that way we're not staring at the clock.  Who's your friend?"
     "Jane, meet Nicky," said Bekka.  "Nicky, meet Jane.  he's going to be my bodyguard for the next few days, to see if I want to take one on permanently.  He'll be sleeping in one of the guest rooms on your floor, so make sure the spare bathroom is clean."
     "Right next door to me, huh?  Okay."  Jane's smile was far too wide.
     "Get that out of your head right now, Gator Bait," I said.  "There's a chance he may not want horny little girls crawling into his bed in the middle of the night."  Jane stuck her tongue out at me.
     Nicky had been staring at Jane like she was a space alien ever since coming up the stairs.  He now asked, "How old are you, girl?"
     "I'm sixteen," said Jane.  "But I've done a lot of growing up.  You'd be pleasantly surprised."
     "Jane...." Bekka said in a warning tone.
     Nicky glared at Jane and slowly shook his head.  He said, "I know what is on your mind, and you can forget about it.  You shouldn't be thinking like that at your age to begin with.  Assume I'm married, assume I'm queer, whatever.  But get me out of your mind.  I know exactly who you are, you're the mascot for our direct strike team.  Those are not people I would want pissed off at me."
     Jane made a huffing sound and said, "Okay, I'll leave you alone.  Still gonna stare at you, though.  You make good eye candy."
     "Come on, girl, let's go hit the mall.  Get your shoes on," I said.
     I piloted us in the Sport Fury towards the UTC mall.  I parked and we headed through.  When we reached the center plaza three of us landed on a bench and lit cigarettes.  Nicky remained standing, his head rotating around.  Presently three teenage girls walked past.  One glanced in Bekka's direction, gasped, and stopped.  Her two friends stopped to see what was the matter and also gasped.  The first one said, "Oh my god, are you really Becky Page?"
     And Nicky is inserting himself between the girls and Bekka, saying, "Yeah, it's her, move along."  Bekka gave Nicky a shove to one side.  She said, "Relax Nicky, they're just fans.  I'm happy to spend a minute with them.  You girls wish me no ill will, right?"
     A second girl said, "No way.  I think you're awesome.  Um, could I get your autograph?"  The other two girls made "me too" noises.  Book bags were dropped and paper was produced.  Bekka pulled out her Sharpie and began doing autographs, getting names from the girls as she went along.  As she finished each one, she would hug the girl, to their great joy.  They were being hugged by the Wonder Woman of porn!  A real embrace!
     When all three were done, Bekka gave them an appraising stare.  She said, "So how did you three come to be familiar with my media?  To be frank, you all look too young to be watching my videos."
     The third girl said, "My parents have all your movies.  They're cool with us watching them, so we'll, you know, um, understand how sex works.  My mom said she didn't want me watching any other porn besides the stuff you've done.  Your movies are so cool, they're so fun.  You are so awesome as Ursula the witch."
     "Or as the bartender in 'Rocker Girls,' " said the first one.
     "Do you like hanging out in the mall?" asked the second girl.
     Bekka replied, "I like to periodically get dinner from the gourmet burger place, then spend the evening playing pinball with my husband and my friend Jane, here."
     "Hi," said me and Jane simultaneously.  We stuck out our hands to shake.
     "Don't you hug?" asked the third girl.  "Hug me instead."
     I said, "Yeah, no problem.  Um, why?"
     "I learned from watching Becky just how important physical contact is between people.  Holding another person close is simultaneous control and submission.  When you hug someone, you are truly an equal with them.  And it feels good, rubbing against somebody."
     Bekka gaped at the girl.  "How did you get that out of my videos?" she asked.
     The girl said, "My big sister explained it to me.  She's in college.  She also said I'm at the right age to start my sexual exploration."  The girl got a bit pink.  "Um, the three of us fool around together.  At some point each of us has made the other two reach orgasm.  We all like guys, but um, we have fun together, as girls.  I mean, you fool with girls.  It's okay, right?"
     Bekka flapped her jaw, then calmly said, "That is just fine.  I think it's beautiful that the three of you have such trust and caring in your friendship.  Go for it, keep having fun together.  Tell me, do you all fool with boys?"
     The girls looked at each other.  The second one said, "Um, not really, no.  Should we?  It feels like a big deal to me."
     "If you're not comfortable with it, don't do it.  Wait until you are comfortable.  But you don't owe it to anyone, not a boy, and not yourself.  When it's time, it will feel right, and you will cherish the experience.  But don't try to rush it, your time will happen on its own."'
     "That's cool, thank you," said the first girl.  "Um, how old were you when you first, you know, did it with a guy?"
     "I was eighteen and out of high school," said Bekka. "I had played around with boys, and I knew how a dick worked, but my virginity lasted until after I graduated.  I waited until it felt right."
     "Wooow," said all three girls.
     "And with that, my lovelies, I'm going to bid you adieu," said Bekka.  "I'm hungry and am craving a fancy cheeseburger.  I'm here about once a week, and always around this time.  Check for me in the arcade, I love pinball.  I'll be playing either Xenon or High Speed.  Good afternoon, girls.  Go have some fun."
     "Bye, Becky!"  "Thanks for talking to us."  "Becky, you rule, you're so awesome."  The three girls continued on their way.  We stood and began sauntering towards the food court.'
     Nicky said, "Jesus Christ.  You really don't want me to do my job, do you?  You don't want a bodyguard at all."
     Bekka said, "I want someone who can help keep creeps and stalkers at bay.  I'm fine interacting with my fans.  Those aren't the only teenage girls who are hung up on Becky Page."
     "That's another thing.  Those girls are maybe sixteen.  And you're giving them sex advice?  Telling them to lez out together, but to wait on boys?   You got that backwards."
     Bekka glared at Nicky  and said, "No, I got that right.  When they explore with each other, they also explore themselves.  When they decide to try sex with boys, they'll be very much in tune with their own bodies, and can help the boys be better lovers.  It's a win/win situation.  Besides, those three already are 'lezzing out together.'  More power to them.  I wasn't aware that my girl/girl scenes carried so much resonance, that I was inspiring young women to try other young women.  Wild."
     "Wild?" exclaimed Nicky.  "You're encouraging teenage girls to turn into dykes.  Do you secretly hate straight dudes or something?"
     "Oh brother.  No, I don't secretly hate straight men.  I think my husband would have noticed that sort of twist in my psyche by now.  And they're not turning into dykes, they're experimenting.  Most girls try it in college.  These three just started earlier.  You heard them say they're attracted to boys, they just don't feel ready for fucking yet.  Don't worry, they will."
     "So are you always so friendly with your fans?  You wasted five minutes signing autographs and jawing with them.  All it got you was even  hungrier.  Do you gotta make everyone happy?"
     Shrugging, Bekka said, "My fans love me dearly.  It would be selfish of me if I didn't give some of that love back.  And those brave enough to walk up and speak to me deserve a reward.  They get autographs and hugs.  I'm sure I have plenty of fans who have let me go past because they didn't want to be a bother."
     "They are a bother," said Nicky.  "They're delaying you from doing what you want.  Do you think you owe them something?"
     "Like I said, my fans love me.  I should show them I love them back.  And so far as delaying me goes, we're at a shopping mall.  Wasting time is what malls are good for.  If I had an appointment or reservation, I would have told them so and kept moving.  But we were having a leisurely smoke, no place to be, so why not make some fans extremely happy and converse with them briefly?  I'll bet Madonna never shoots the shit with her fans.  They're probably lucky if she looks at them when she speaks."
     "Oh, so you're better than Madonna?" asked Nicky.
     "She's way better," said Jane.  "She's way sexier, she's smarter, and her art makes people think.  Madonna ain't got shit on Becky Page."
     Bekka and I got in line at the gourmet burger place.  Jane went off to the barbecue hut, and Nicky said he was going to wander a bit, see what struck him.  He pointed to some empty tables in a corner and said, "Go sit there.  Nobody can come up from behind you there."
     The kid who handed out the orders was positively vibrating with excitement as he passed us our burgers and fries.  He said, "Thank you, Ms. Page!  I hope you enjoy your meal!  Please come again soon!"
     Bekka grinned and said, "You know my name, but I don't know yours.  What's your name, sweetie?"
     The kid swallowed and said, "It's Justin."
     "Would you like an autograph, Justin?"
     "That would be so rad," Justin sweated.
     Bekka said, "Let me get some of my dinner in me and I'll get you an autograph.  Back in a few.."
     Bekka and I launched into our burgers.  Bekka took a place mat off a tray and wrote with her Sharpie, "Thanks for dinner, Justin!  XXX  Kisses, Becky Page."  She carried it back up to the Pick Up Orders window and slid it over to Justin, who picked it up with shaking hands and a manic grin.  Justin grasped his courage and said, "Ms. Page, you're the most beautiful woman I've ever seen.  And you're even more beautiful in person.  Please come back anytime."
     Bekka said, "Aw, I'm flattered.  Thank you so much.  You have a nice night."
     We were mostly done when Nicky joined us.  He had corn dogs and a salad.  "Quiet with you guys?" he asked.
     "Very quiet," said Bekka.  "I signed an autograph for our server, and was told how beautiful I am.  That's always nice to hear."
     I said, "I tell her that all the time, that she's the most beautiful woman in the world.  In return she complains about the size of her ass.  I tell her that if we travel, and all Sicilian girls are as hot as her, I won't be held responsible for my actions."
     "Wait, you're Sicilian?" queried Nicky.
     "A hundred percent," answered Bekka.
     "Okay, that much is true," Nicky said, scratching his head.  "There's some dumb rumor going around that Don Ventimiglia is gonna have a woman become mafioso.  Induct her, do the whole ceremony, and make her a made man....  Or woman.  One version says it's supposed to be you.  Wild, huh?"
     Bekka had a wide grin on her face.  "Oh Nicky, my dear boy.  The rumors are true, and it is me the Don will be inducting.  You can check with the Don, or ask Angel Morelli.  You seem bothered by this news."
     "Women mafioso?" Nicky cried.  "It's never happened before.  What about tradition?  Next they'll be letting blue-eyed mutts like Lenny in as full members.  No, the mafia has always functioned just fine without any women.  I mean, what do you have to offer the family?  Business acumen?  Connections?  Street smarts?"
     "I've got twenty pound balls," said Bekka, sucking down the last of her Pepsi.  "Tempered steel, just like Lenny's.  I've killed for the family.  I think on my feet.  And I can stare down a gun and not panic."
     "You better have steel balls.  Cosa Nostra is no game, don't expect anyone to soft pedal for you."
     "Wouldn't expect them to.  It's time to go play some games.  Will you join us, or are you going to find your own amusement?"
     Nicky said, "I'll play a game near yours, so I can keep an eye on you.  I'll try to spot the stalkers you're so worried about."
     We went in the arcade to find that High Speed was not in use.  We dropped quarters on the glass and in the slot, firing up the machine.  A small band of sailors was whooping it up a few machines down.  They suddenly became quiet.  I looked over to them to see them all gawking at Bekka.  Of the six, one guy had the stones to come over and say, "Excuse me, ma'am, are you Becky Page?"
     "That I am," Bekka smiled.  What can I do for you, sailor?"
     He hadn't thought that far ahead.  "Oh, um....  I wanted to let you know we're all really big fans of yours, and uh, we're happy to see you here, um, could I get your autograph?"
     "Sure, sweetie.  What do you want me to sign?"
     "Oh!  Uhh...."
     "Why don't you go and get a place mat off a tray," said Bekka, "and I'll sign that.  You seem awful nervous.  Why don't you let me give you a hug, so you can relax.  Okay?"
     Bekka held her arms out.  Still nervous, the sailor stepped into her arms.  They embraced tightly for ten seconds, then released.  There had been a collective gasp from his friends when they first went into their clinch, all of them drop-jawed at the sight of their comrade hugging Becky Page.
     Stepping back with a huge grin, the lone sailor said, "Wow, I feel great now!  Thank you so much, ma'am!  I'll be back with something to write on."  He sprinted out of the arcade into the food court.
     The game forgotten, the sailors nervously edged towards us.  A tall black one said, "Excuse me, ma'am, but why did you hug our buddy?"
     Bekka gave a charming smile and said, "He was nervous and I wanted him to be relaxed.  A hug is a good way of helping someone relax."
     "Really?  I'm feeling kind of nervous too, ma'am."  His buddies cracked up.
     Bekka said, "Uh huh.  If you want to hug me because you want to hug me, tell me that.  There's all sorts of reasons to hug.  If you're feeling lonely and miss a woman's embrace, tell me that.  If you're just horny and want to feel Becky Page's tits against your chest, tell me that.  But don't bullshit me about why you want to hug me.  So, Stretch, why do you want a hug?"
     The tall black sailor said, "You nailed it.  You nailed it.  I miss my girl.  Feelin' a female in my arms will cheer me up."  Bekka held her arms wide, and then the two of them had a good long hug.  At the end, the sailor looked truly touched.
     Another sailor stepped up to Bekka.  She asked him why he wanted a hug.  He answered, "So I can say I've hugged one of the hottest women in the world!  Becky, you sizzle!"  Bekka laughed and gave him his hug.
     The last three sailors got their hugs, too.  Their reasons were lonely, homesick, and horny.  The first sailor waited patiently for the hugs to end, waiting for his autograph.  Bekka turned to him and said, "What's your name, sweetie?"
     "Yeoman Gerald Spinoza, ma'am," the sailor replied.
     "You go by Jerry?" asked Bekka.
     "Yes ma'am, my friends call me Jerry."
     Bekka wrote, "Dear Jerry: Thank you for the hug, stud!  XXX  Kisses, Becky Page."  She handed the place mat back to G. Spinoza and said, "There you go.  And here, this is for being first and bravest.."  She gave him a kiss, turning his mouth dark red and his face pink.
     The sailors began shuffling out of the arcade.  Movie times were mentioned.  I heard the tall black sailor say, "Damn, but Becky Page really is one hell of a woman."
     Nicky shuffled up and said, "I watched your love-in.  None of them got fresh, right?"
     Bekka said, "They were all gentlemen.  They were all nervous, I could feel their tension when I hugged them.  But they were nothing to worry about, just squids from Miramar.  They're all under twenty-one, otherwise they'd be hanging around a bar, and not an arcade.  They love me.  I provide diversion from the monotony of their daily grind.  Getting a hug from Becky Page made them happier than they'd probably even admit to, but they all have something to brag about for the next few weeks.  Nicky, I'm sorry you've been so bored.  If one of them had been a creep, I would have called for you....  Actually, I would have called for Lenny, out of force of habit, but I'm sure you would have jumped in too.  Don't worry, at the signing tomorrow I'm sure we'll have creeps and stalkers a-plenty."
     Jane walked up with another kid in tow.  He had a face pockmarked from acne and a mohawk.  He was practically drooling on his boots, his mouth was open so wide as he stared at Bekka.  Jane said, "Hey Bekka, Lenny.  This is Roach, he's from Linda Vista.   He didn't believe me when I told him I knew Becky Page.  Now he owes me a pack of Newports.  Hey Bekka, can I take Ecstasy tonight?  Please?  Roach has never had it before."
     Bekka considered Jane and Roach, before saying, "It's a school night, so no.  Tomorrow isn't a school night.  Why don't you invite him up tomorrow?  We'll get high and go bowling.  Roach, do you have a car?"
     Roach answered, "Yeah, a '78 Mustang.  It runs, that's what I can say about it."
     "How old are you, Roach?" I asked.
     "I'm nineteen."
     "Will your parents mind if you stay out all night?  Ecstasy gives you a lot of energy, and you can't sleep while you're high," said Bekka.
     Roach said, "They probably won't even notice.  Um, Ms..Page, I don't mean to spaz out on you, but I am such a huge fan you wouldn't even believe it.  'Rocker Girls' is the best movie ever made, it's so awesome, I really like your other ones too.  Meeting you in person is just blowing my mind...."
     "Well, tomorrow around eight we'll all take Ecstasy together and see where the evening takes us," said Bekka.  "Whatever we decide to do, we'll have fun.  And lucky you, you get to take drugs with Becky Page, right?"
     "Too cool," Roach grinned.
     Nicky stuck his nose in.  "Aren't you two on drugs all the time as it is?  What drugs are you taking tomorrow that will be so damn special?"
     "We'll be taking Ecstasy," I said.  "You will be joining us, right?"
     "No.  Somebody has to be capable of driving a car and hiding the kitchen knives, trying to talk people down from freakouts."
     I chuckled.  "Wow, far out man.  You really don't have a clue, do you?  Have you ever met somebody who's heard of someone who has taken Ecstasy?  MDMA, or Ecstasy, brings on euphoria, confidence, increased energy, and a feeling of being connected to the universe.  You fall in love very easily on Ecstasy, you want to be emotionally and physically involved with everyone you meet.  Ecstasy has brought about more bi-curious behavior than ten thousand glory holes could.  The high lasts eight to ten hours, at which point you eat some breakfast and nap for a few hours.  Then you're back on track.  Relax Nicky, we've eaten a ton of this stuff.  Roach is new to it, but he'll have Jane's guidance."
     Nicky sighed, "Oh, so you give hard drugs to a teenage girl."
     "It saves me the trouble of stealing them," snapped Jane.  "Really Nicklaus, you're too much.  When I was admiring your body earlier, I don't know how I missed the stick up your ass.  Don't concern yourself with how I relax on weekdays, or party on weekends.  You'd probably just be frightened.  Me, I'm a warrior.  I can handle anything the world throws at me."
     Jingling his quarters, Nicky said, "I've been given the assignment of keeping Becky Page safe.  Unfortunately, she seems to constantly be doing things that put her at risk.  The drugs, the fans, the motorcycle, the hugging of strangers.  In this situation, I don't know how I'm supposed to accomplish my task.  The person I'm supposed to protect is constantly trying to hurt herself."
     "You'll have action tomorrow," Bekka said.  "The creeps will come out of the woodwork for this event.  We'll have dangerous psycho fans hanging around.  Sorting them apart from dudes who are just socially maladjusted is a bit of a challenge, but you talk to them for a minute and you learn where they're coming from.  We're talking about dudes who would try to convince Becky Page of their love by tying her up in their attic and drugging her.  And every single one of them is convinced that they are the only person who truly loves Becky, and thus are the only one entitled to her love.  All they need to do is be alone with Becky, by any means."
     "So how have you dealt with them in the past?" asked Nicky.
     I said, "They're a new development, so far as I'm concerned.  I guess the good news is they aren't organized.  Every stalker hates every other stalker.  They're not about to cooperate to accomplish a goal.  The downside is that means you have thirty different individuals doing thirty different things to try and get to Becky.  Hard to keep track of.  In the past, me and my friend Boss did the security.  If a dude got creepy, the girl would raise her hand, and we'd chuck the creep out.  Now, anyone asking Becky --- or any of the other girls --- out to dinner is suspect.  I get a lot of hate.  Creep asks Becky out, Becky refuses.  She points out her husband, the punk thug, as the reason for the refusal.  Creep refuses to accept that Becky is married.  I have to escort the creep away to keep the line moving.  The creep vows that he will show his love for Becky, soon.  I fear how."
     Bekka said, "Yeah, dinner alone with me is the Rosetta Stone for my stalkers.  I'm not sure what they would say if left alone with Becky, but it is some earth-shattering information, presumably.  I could be wrong.  It could be that they all believe they can sob and whine their way into Becky's heart, nagging her into falling in love."
     I said, "Yeah Nicky, tomorrow will definitely be fun."

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