Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Bodyguard (Part 6)

     The signing only ran a few minutes over, and we had no disappointed fans.  Back in the limo, back to the mansion, then home.  We were there a few minutes before eight.
     Going upstairs, we found we already had company.  Roach, the mohawked punk with the unfortunate skin, was ensconced on our love seat, an Anchor Steam in one hand.  Jane was on a sofa, also holding a beer.  Temporary Pleasures was playing on the TV.  Jane got up and gave us each a hug.  "So how did it go today?" she asked.

     I said, "Some tweaked out motherfucker was going to attack Elspeth with a knife.  He hadn't slept for a week and was convinced that Elspeth was Satan.  Me and Boss bulldogged him before he could hurt anyone.  He's off to the funny farm.  Beyond that, absolutely nothing of interest happened today."
     "I had nine marriage proposals," Bekka said.  "And everyone wanted to to take me out to dinner.  Where were these guys when I was twenty?  I was hungry then, I'd have entire checks eaten up by paying for my mom's medication and treatments."
     "How did you get out of that hole?" asked Jane.
     "I convinced my boss to let me work more.  There were weeks when there were no loops I didn't appear in.  Even taking out time for makeup, performing in porn for eight or ten hours is grueling work.  I don't know, maybe my current fame and fortune are payback for all that hard work when I was younger.  I'm not sure if I'd do it all over again.  I was sore a lot of the time.  We'd wrap at the end of the day, and I'd realize that it hurt to walk.  And I'd get up the next morning and do it all over again."
     Nicky had his eyes laser-locked on Roach, who was sitting on the love seat sipping his beer.  Roach didn't pay Nicky any mind, he was staring slack-jawed at Bekka again.  I had Roach pegged as another young fan, one who still didn't quite believe he was in the presence of Becky Page.  Roach finally felt Nicky's stare, and gave him a nod in greeting.
     Nicky asked, "So do you work?  Looking like that?"
     Roach answered, "Yeah, I got a gig at an auto dismantler down in National City.  They're really shady, half of what I take apart is probably hot.  That, and I take part of my pay in drugs.  They've got a lab on the lot, they're probably knocking out four pounds of good meth per week."
     Nicky glowered.  Another rabid Becky Page fan, and this one a speedfreak.  He asked, "So what brings you here tonight?"
     Before Roach could answer, Jane said, "Leave him alone, Nicky.  He's my guest.  He gets to try Ecstasy for the first time tonight.  We're going bowling, remember?"
     Roach said, "I don't understand how you're connected to Jane and Becky and her husband.  Sir."
     "I am Becky Page's bodyguard," answered Nicky.  "I keep trash from bouncing into her.  Any trash that does bounce into her, I wad up and dispose of.  Get me?"
     Bekka returned from the kitchen, where she'd retrieved beers for me and her, plus four hits of the Ecstasy.  She already knew Nicky would refuse the offer.  She said, "We still haven't decided whether we want a full time bodyguard or not.  This is an experiment, and it may fail."
     Nicky said, "From what I've seen you spend too much time getting crowded by the nut cases you call your fans.  I can help give you some breathing room."
     Bekka said, "My fans love me, and I love them back.  If I am out in public and am not either eating or playing pinball, I am happy to interact with them.  They seem to love me unconditionally, so it would be heartless and callous of me to reject them.  They feel genuinely fulfilled from just a hug and a bit of talk.  I will not deny them."
     "You're practically a Christ figure to them," Nicky commented.  "Everybody, come get a blessing from Becky Page the savior.  So what's it like to be worshiped?"
     "Overwhelming," Bekka candidly answered.  "I have never claimed to be anything more than a porn slut with decent acting talent, but a whole cult of personality has sprung up around me.  Like we were saying before, people watch my movies and see great meaning and messages in them, stuff we never intended.  I have never wanted to be any kind of social revolutionary, but that's' how I'm viewed.  Becky Page, post-feminist icon and sexual crusader.  And the scary thing is, people believe I live up to my hype.  People ask for my advice or opinions, I give them answers honestly and openly.  Heh, maybe that's what it is, a celebrity who provides straight answers is a revolutionary concept.  Okay everyone, drop your pills.  We'll have another beer, then let's go bowling."
     "There's five of us, what car shall we take?" asked Jane.  "Everybody pile into the Cadillac?"
     Nicky said, "We'll take two cars.  Becky will ride with me in my Lincoln, you three can ride in whatever you want.  That way the woman I'm supposed to be protecting isn't with a driver who's on drugs."
     Jane rolled her eyes and said, "Ecstasy doesn't hit you like that.  Hell, I've driven and ridden my motorcycle while high plenty of times."
     "That doesn't comfort me.  You're all reckless."
     I distributed fresh beers, Nicky actually accepting one, and settled into the sofas to watch the rest of Temporary Pleasures.  Bekka asked Roach, "So what do you think of it so far?"
     Roach answered, "It's great!  It's funny and really sexy at the same time.  You guys did an awesome job of making fun of yuppies."
     The video restarted.  I noticed that during fuck scenes, Nicky would get an embarrassed look on his face and stare at his beer bottle.  We already knew he thought porn poisoned the mind, maybe he was uncomfortable watching it with women.  During one of the scenes near the end of the movie, he finally blurted to Jane, "You're sixteen.  Why are you watching this?  You shouldn't be here."
     Jane gave him her you're-an-idiot look and said, "I've seen all their other features, why would I skip this one?  I've already seen it a few times, a benefit of getting promo copies before release.  You have to admit it's funny as hell, and that was their goal.  I love Vince New's character, the White-Out addicted VP.  Too classic."
     "So you watch their movies all the time."
     "Oh yeah.  I love 'Rocker Girls,' it's the best thing they ever did, personally.  Sex and punk rock all in one place.  'Bewitched' is my second favorite, and 'Bad Babysitter' and 'Dangerous Desires' are tied for third."
     I interjected, "Remember, Angel has insisted that you see 'Bewitched.'  We'll do that tomorrow.  We'll watch it, and if you have questions we'll hit Pause and answer them.  Remember, you'll be watching it with the producer and star."
     "I can't wait," said Nicky, rolling his eyes.
     After the video ended, we went down to the cars and headed out, Bekka riding with Nicky.  Jane, Roach, and I took the Sport Fury.  We left after Nicky and Bekka, but when we arrived at the bowling alley in Clairemont Mesa, they weren't there.  We stood around the front and waited.  "Maybe Bekka needed to stop for cigarettes," suggested Jane.
     Ten minutes later they showed up.  Nicky looked highly agitated, Bekka looked pissed.  She jabbed her thumb at him and said,, "He's piss poor at taking verbal directions.  Nearly every time I told him to turn, he ignored me.  When we ended up in some residential neighborhood, I finally made him pull over and took the wheel myself.  It was like I wasn't speaking at all when I told him where to go."
     Nicky made no comment.  I had a hunch: he was the sort of man who would ignore any instructions given to him by a woman while he was at the wheel.  I wondered what he would have done if Bekka hadn't forced him to stop.  Possibly wander aimlessly and hope for the bowling alley to appear on the horizon.
     We went in, got our shoes, found our lane, and selected balls.  Before starting the first game, we hit up the snack bar for hot dogs, nachos, and beer.  Bekka, Nicky, and I hadn't eaten, and needed something.  Bekka and I could rely on the appetite-suppressing power of meth and Ecstasy to ignore our hunger, while Nicky just had to deal with it.  Jane had taken Roach to the Leucadia Deli for dinner.
     As we settled into our lane, I asked Roach, "So, you get paid in drugs at your job?  That must make filing your taxes a lot of fun."
     Roach answered, "I get some cash and some drugs, it's an under-the-table job.  I keep some for myself and sell some of it.  What's a drag is that my dad knows how I get paid, so he's always hitting me up for lines when he can't score or is broke.  He knows I always have shit, so him and mom take advantage of that."
     I said, "I can't even conceive of having my parents bugging me for dope.  Too wild."
     "Yeah, I guess most people don't have to deal with their own folks being $300 in the hole to them for dope.  They've tried dealing themselves, but never really got ahead doing it.  They'd snort too much of the profit.  They weren't organized."
     Bekka chimed in, "We started smoking ours a little while ago. Smoking it, a little goes a long way, and I like the high better.  Do you ever smoke?"
     Roach replied, "No.  Having to run around carrying tinfoil with you would make it a drag."
     "Tinfoil?" I said.  "We just use a pipe."
     "Maybe between games we can go out to the car and have a few puffs," suggested Bekka.  "Let me know what you think of our Ecstasy."
     "It's starting to come on, I think," said Roach.  "I'm feeling sort of speedy, and I'm in a really good mood."
     We started bowling.  Nicky, weightlifter that he was, absolutely shot the ball down the lane.  It didn't help, his aim was mediocre.  No big deal, so was ours.  Four frames in, Jane got the first strike of the night.  We all applauded, and she did a little shimmy while waiting at the ball return.  Pretty good bowling for someone wearing a corseted bustier.
     Around the seventh frame I realized we had an audience.  Three headbanger chicks were standing behind us, intently watching the game.  I gave them a vague wave, which they responded to.  They began talking among themselves quietly.  I sat back down.  A few moments later I was tapped on the shoulder.  One girl, sent as an emissary, wanted to talk to me.
     "Excuse me," she said.  "That's not Becky Page you're bowling with, is it?"
     "Actually, it is," I replied.  "Why do you ask?"
     "Do you thing she'd be bugged if we talked with her for a few?  We're big fans."
     I looked forward.  Bekka was just walking forward to play.  I told the girl, "Wait until she bowls her frame, then just ask her, she won't bite, and she likes meeting fans."
     The girl, around eighteen, considered the back view of the porn star gliding up the lane and said, "What's she doing here, anyway?"
     "Um, bowling?" I replied.
     "No, I mean.....  You'd think she'd be out partying hard on a Friday night, having fun, not hanging around a stupid bowling alley in Clairemont."
     "Well, she had a tiring and stressful day.  Besides, we are partying.  Except for the muscle-bound guy over there giving me the stink-eye, we're all dosed on Ecstasy.  The dude with the mohawk?  That's Roach, and this is his first experience with the drug.  Something fun and relaxing is about right for the first time you take the drug, so taking Roach bowling made sense.  Ah, here she is.  Bekka...!"
     Bekka came over.  "What's up, sweetie?" she asked.
     "This young lady has a question for you," I said.
     The girl stood up from where she'd been crouching next to me and said, "Hi!  Oh my god, you really are Becky Page, aren't you?  Um, me and my friends back there are really big fans of your stuff, and um, we just wanted to meet you.  If that's okay."
     Bekka beamed a warm smile.  Her eyes told me that she was having her first good rush from the Ecstasy.  She said, "That's just fine.  Bring your friends down here."
     The girl called to her friends, "Hey bitches!" and gestured with her arm.  The other two girls began moving to the steps as quickly as they could in tight jeans and cheap fuck-me pumps from Payless.  Nicky noticed the two girls hurrying towards us, and the one already there, and drifted up close.
     The new girls arrived and stood in front of Bekka, eager as puppies.  The first one said, "Um, I'm Bonnie, this is Lauren, and this is Rachel.  We're massive fans of yours."
     Nicky stepped forward and said, "Look, Miss Page is here to relax and bowl a few games.  She doesn't need---"
     Bekka cut him off.  "Nicky, sweetie, I am relaxed, and I'm capable of bowling and carrying on a conversation at the same time.  My body does not currently need guarding.  Now if you really wanted to be wonderful, you could go to the snack bar and get four Cokes.  No, eight, one for everybody.  I'm sure you ladies will agree, it's always nice when people share their Coke.  Am I right?"
     The three girls laughed at this bit of wit.  Nicky stood there looking steamed.  In a sarcastic tone, he said, "Is there anything else?"
     Bekka said, "Yes.  Relax.  Or when we get home, I'm going to duct-tape the bong to your face and make you relax."  The girls snickered.
     "I'll be in the bar after we finish this game," Nicky seethed.  "And it's my turn.  I'll get your drinks in a minute."  He stomped up to the lane.  Sent the ball shooting down.  Left a 7-10 split standing.  Screamed a profanity at the standing pins.
     Bekka said, "Why don't we have a seat?  We can talk about anything you want.  Before I forget, let me make introductions, as it were.  This is my husband Lenny.  The blue-haired girl over there is our roommate Jane, and that's her friend Roach.  And of course there's Nicky, the gentleman who will be getting our drinks."
     "Who is he?" asked Rachel.  "He looked pissed off that you were talking to us."
     "It's a long story," sighed Bekka.  "In a nutshell, he is a bodyguard who has been foisted upon me by my studio.  He hates how I live, he hates how I act, he hates how I think.  He really hates that I love my fans as much as they love me, and I'm happy to show it.  We have different ideas about what his job entails.  So, what would you like to talk about?"
     This question flummoxed the three girls.  They desperately glanced at each other.  Lauren finally said, "Uhh....  How did you get started in porn?"
     Bekka smiled and said, "Oh, that's not the happiest of stories.  My mother was sick with leukemia.  To help take care of her and pay her medical bills, I needed a job with short hours and extremely good pay.  I didn't want to start dealing, hooking is dangerous and unpredictable, and I had no qualifications as a contract killer.  I saw an ad in the Reader...."
     "Lenny, your frame!" called Jane.  I got up and played, picking up a spare, to the applause of Jane and Roach.
     "So what is Nicky pissed off about now?" asked Jane.
     "He feels that Bekka doesn't let him do his job," I explained.  "She figured that if he wanted to be useful, he could go get Cokes for everybody.  That amused him even less.  Bekka is rapping with fans, and you know he hates that.  So Roach, how you feeling right now?"
     Roach grinned and said, "I feel fucking awesome!  I wanna go run a marathon naked.  Or skydiving.  Yeah, skydiving naked.  That would be helluv rad."
     I said, "I dunno, you might get windburn in unhappy places."
     Jane said, "I wish Nicky would eat a hit and lighten up."
     "Nicky is one of those people who fears being out of control.  He thinks Ecstasy will make him lose control of himself.  What the hell, Gator Bait, you're always talking about how Ecstasy is a warrior's drug, and how all mafioso are warriors.  Lay that spiel on him, maybe you can talk him into it.  Point out that none of us are out of control."
     I wandered back over to where Bekka and the girls were sitting.  Bekka saw me coming, held her hand out towards me, and said, "And I'm lucky enough to have this man writing and producing my movies.  He really does write me wonderful roles to play."
     I said, "And that springs out of my larger goal, which is to make porno movies that actually are enjoyable as movies.  I could never figure out why porn features always sucked.  Why shouldn't they be good all the way through?  Why can't they entertain?  Old school producers would probably tell you, 'Oh, the budgets are small, and you can't find talented actors and actresses who will do hardcore.'  Bullshit.  I'm a punk, I'm used to getting things done with no money.  And as far as performers go, you just have to keep looking.  I keep finding genuine talent.  And I treat them right, so they stick around.
     "Everybody acts like I'm some sort of great visionary, and that's bullshit.  My only vision was to make adult features that are actually fun to watch all the way through, not just for the fucking."
     Bonnie said, "Wow, you two are, like, a really great creative team, huh?"
     "Actually, we don't really work together at all," said Bekka.  "Lenny writes his scripts alone.  It's very rare for him to be on a live set, too.  He helps round out performances during rehearsals and blocking, but it's the director who's helping shape my character.  When we're making a feature, our paths mostly cross at lunch.  Hell, the director treats Lenny like an errand boy on a live set.  Pisses me off."
     Lauren said, "Becky?  Can I ask you a personal question?"
     "Be my guest," said Bekka.
     "Do you, uh, like girls?  Like, in real life?  I know you get together with girls in your movies, but do you also like girls in reality?"
     Bekka answered, "Yes I do.  I notice, and appreciate, sexy women.  A nice rack makes me interested.  Hell, Rachel, I've been admiring yours since you got here."
     All three girls giggled.  Rachel said, "Oh wow, Becky Page likes my tits!  That is too cool!"
     Continuing, Bekka said, "At the same time, I would never act upon it, because I'm married.  I will never betray my husband.  I did once, and hated myself for it.  But yes, I am attracted to women.  Why do you ask?"
     The three glanced back and forth at each other.  Lauren finally said, "Can I tell her?  She'll be cool with it."  She cleared her throat and said, "Um, the three of us pair off with each other sometimes and have fun.  All of us like boys, but....  I dunno, for me, being with Bonnie or Rachel feels really pure, really right.  I'd go crazy if I didn't have them."
     Bonnie said, "I'm totally hooked on these two.  I need them."
     Rachel grinned and said, "These two bitches rock me.  I need them too."
     Lauren continued, "But....  At the same time, we feel like weirdos.  We know everybody around us would freak out if we said anything.  Is there something wrong with us?"
     "No, not at all," said Bekka.  "The three of you are in love.  It's common enough that there is a term for it, polyamory.  Multiple loves.  We are all capable of feeling romantic love for more than one person at a time.  In this culture, it takes a degree of bravery to do so and be open about it.  We're supposed to only have one lover at a time.  Personally, I think it's beautiful that the three of you love each other, and freely share your intimacy.  I hope you always have each other in your lives, until the grave.  Never stop loving each other.  Can I hug you?"
     Bekka and the three girls stood up.  Bekka gave each one a long, tight hug.  As she was doing so, I heard a voice behind me mutter, "This shit again."  I turned and Nicky was standing there, holding a tray full of sodas.  He waited until she was done, then said, "Your drinks, Miss Page," set them down on the table, and went to sit and scowl at the scoreboard.
     It was Bekka's frame, and had been for a while.  She went and bowled, then came back and sat down.  She asked, "Out of curiosity, do the three of you ever all have fun together at once?"
     Rachel said, "We've tried, but it doesn't work that great.  How do you do it?  You make it look so easy."
     Bekka laughed and said, "It's like stunt driving.  It's best left to the professionals."
     "The reason I brought it up," said Lauren, "is that it's because of you that we're, you know, so close.  We never would have admitted we were interested if it weren't for you."
     "Her and vodka," said Rachel.
     Bonnie said shyly, "I'd thought about it before, I guess everybody does, but it was because of you I had the courage to try."
     "So what did I do that helped break down the barriers?" asked Bekka.
     Lauren said, "I think for all of us, it's the scenes you do with other chicks in 'Bewitched' and 'Rocker Girls.'  You look so....  Confident.  It's like you're saying, 'See?  It's cool if you like chicks as well as guys, it's okay like that.'"
     "Do you all have boyfriends?" Bekka asked.
     More glancing around.  Bonnie said, "No.  Not since last summer.  The guy I was with joined the army, Rachel's boyfriend moved up with his mom in Olympia, and Lauren's cheated on her at a party.  Do you think we should have boyfriends?"
     Bekka sighed.  "I think....  You three should do what feels right, and what feels natural.  If you're not interested in having a boyfriend, don't have one.  You're all living proof of just how fluid sexuality is.  It's not a black-or-white thing, either boys or girls.  Just take things as they come.  Each of you knows that you have the love of the other two, so cherish that."
     Rachel said, "My thing is, it just feels so much better with them."  In a softer voice, she said, "They both make me come my brains out."
     "No surprise there," said Bekka.  "Sex is always better when you have an emotional connection with the other person.  Look at the amount of sex I have, and with the variety of people.  But Lenny is the man I love, and he loves me, and he makes me come so hard I can't feel my legs."
     "What do you think of this?" Lauren asked me.  "Are we just three crazy dyke stoner bitches?"
     "No," I replied.  "You're three young women who are discovering yourselves, and along the way you discovered each other.  You're going with what works.  Like Becky said, I hope the three of you love each other until the end, no matter where life takes you.  And I think I need to bowl my frame."
     I got up and headed for the ball return.  I looked over and Jane was crouched in front of where Nicky was sitting, talking in an earnest manner.  Roach was sitting at Nicky's side, nodding in agreement.  Nicky was rolling his eyes and shaking his head.  Evidently the campaign to get Nicky high wasn't going too well.  I picked up another spare.  I slowly walked past where the three were, and could hear Jane going on about, "You are a warrior, like all mafioso.  You are unflinching.  You would have nothing to fear...."
     Returning to Bekka and the three girls, I found them laughing.  "What's up?" I asked.
     Bekka said, "I was just telling them about great head injuries in the porn world, and why you never film a fuck scene in a room with a hardwood floor."
     "Bekka, should we get them high?" I asked.
     "Why not?" she replied.  Looking at the three, she asked, "Have you taken Ecstasy before?"
     Bonnie said, "I was given something that I was told was Ecstasy.  It just made me jittery and gave me a headache."
     I pulled the bag of pills out of my jacket and opened it up.  I held the bag out in front of the three and said, "Each of you take one, then enjoy the next eight hours."
     All three of them grabbed for their sodas, then sat staring at the pills in their hands.  Lauren said, "What will it do?"
     "It will give your brain an hours-long orgasm," I replied.  "You will function just perfectly, but you will be in love with the world.  And the world will be your oyster."
     Rachel picked hers up and stared at it.  She said, "Holy shit, I've heard of this stuff!  Smiley, right?"
     "That's the stuff," I agreed.
     She immediately popped it in her mouth and sucked on her soda.  "Take it, bitches, this stuff is supposed to totally rule!  We'll party till dawn."
     Bekka said, "Of course, there is the matter of payment."
     All three girls suddenly registered shock on their faces.  "Uh, payment?" asked Bonnie.
     "Yes.  I want another hug from each of you.  Especially Rachel.  Woof, but those things are nice."
     Three stoner chicks all launched themselves at Bekka before she even had a chance to stand up.  She got up and collected hugs.  Rachel was last.  With a crafty grin, she reached up inside her Black Sabbath t-shirt and pulled her bra down over her boobs.  Then she grabbed Bekka's hand and shoved it up her shirt.
     Bekka took her hand back and said, "Wait, this should be done right."  She licked the thumb and forefinger of each hand, then shoved both hands up Rachel's shirt and began manipulating.  Rachel's jaw dropped and her eyes got huge.  In a shuddering voice, she said, "I'm getting felt up by Becky Page and it is so awesome...."  Bonnie and Lauren looked on in surprise and delight.
     In the middle of her ministrations, Bekka suddenly said, "It's a little late to ask, but you are over eighteen, right?"
     "Yesss...." came the reply.
     Bonnie said, "Bitch, I can hear you getting wet!"
     Nicky walked up and said, "I'm gonna be in the bar oh Christ I don't wanna know."  He stomped off.  All four girls burst into laughter.
     Bekka removed her hands, a small smile creasing her lips.  She kissed Rachel on the forehead and said, "There, feeling better?"
     Rachel was wild-eyed.  "Bitch, you lit my fuse.  I've gotta go off.  Bitches, I know what I want to do with the rest of the night."
     "And with the drugs you took, you'll be just in the mood for it," I said.  "Ecstasy is the perfect drug for marathon sex.  Go on, do it until you're all dehydrated.  You have someplace to go?"
     "Yeah, Bonnie's house.  It's just her and her dad, and he works the graveyard shift down at Rohr Manufacturing in Chula Vista.  He'll be gone by eleven, and we'll have the house to ourselves."
     Jane and Roach wandered over.  Jane said, "C'mon, let's play another game.  I'm feeling hot.  So Bekka, I see you made some new friends."
     Bekka said, "Yes, I have.  Lauren, Rachel, Bonnie, this is Jane and Roach.  Jane lives with me and Lenny."
     Hands were shaken all around and everybody said "Whassup?" to each other.  Bonnie studied Jane and asked, "Hey, how old are you?"
     "I'm sixteen," Jane answered.
     "And you live with Becky?  How come you don't live with your parents?"
     "My parents are back in Gainesville.  They threw me out.  I came out here and hooked up with Lenny and Bekka, and they let me live with them so long as I went to school and got good grades.  I'm what is called a legally emancipated minor, it's sort of like getting a divorce from your parents.  Lenny and Bekka take good care of me, and I stay out of trouble."
     Bekka lit a cigarette and said, "Jane, be a dear and go pay up for a few more games on our lane."
     "No problem," said Jane.  "Come on, Roach, I could stand more nachos."
     Lauren said, "Listen, um, I think we're gonna take off.  We'll go back to Bonnie's and see how the drugs treat us.  Thank you so much for talking to us.  Uh, could I get your phone number?"
     "Not yet, no," said Bekka.  "However, I will happily take yours.  Is that all right?"
     "Sure, that's great," said Lauren.  She wrote seven digits down on the back of a scorecard and handed it to Bekka, who tucked it in her purse.  All three girls got one last hug, and a kiss, from Bekka.  When it was her turn, Rachel leaned forward and whispered something in Bekka's ear.  Bekka said out loud, "I'm very flattered, but no.  I'm married.  I'm sure you'll still have a good evening, though."
     The three clacked on their high heels back to the stairs.  When they reached the top, they held a quick confab.  Bonnie yelled, "Hey, Becky!"  When Bekka was looking in their direction, the three yelled in unison, "Bitch, you rule!"  Bekka smiled and blew a kiss.
     I told Bekka, "I'm gonna go check on Nicky.  If he wants to power-drink, fine, just so long as he gives up his car keys to me.  I'll see what his mood is."
     "That's fine," said Bekka.  "I'm going to watch the people next to us bowl for a while.  They all own their own balls, so they take the game seriously.  Maybe I can pick up some pointers."
     I went up the steps to the terrace and into the bar.  Nicky was there, with his foot up on the rail and a Long Island iced tea in one hand.  He saw me and said, "So, how's our savior?  She still preaching to her acolytes?  Or feeling them up?"
     "No, those girls have taken off.  They were fans, it's no big deal."
     Nicky grimaced and said, "Actually, it is a big deal.  Mr. Morelli brought me down here to do a job, and the person I'm supposed to be doing it for won't let me do it.  Becky --- Bekka --- says all I need to do is keep the creeps off of her.  Yeah, well, all her fucking fans are creeps.  They're nuts.  They're all obsessed with her, they act like Becky fucking Page is the second coming of Christ.  And she indulges them, like she can hand out blessings.
     "And what's really out of line are these young girls who want to play at being dykes, and got the idea from Becky Page.  They should be fooling around with guys, not each other.  But Becky encourages them, telling them it's okay if they do that.  These girls say they're still interested in guys, but I wonder if they're less interested now than they used to be.  It's like Becky Page is building her own little army of teenage half-dykes.  If I had a teenage daughter, I wouldn't want her anywhere near Becky Page."
     I chuckled.  "The Becky Page Army," I said.  "Conquering the world through sexual aggression.  Battlefields littered with condoms and empty Astroglide bottles.  Their banner would be a pair of crotchless panties.  You'd only be able to see footage of the war on pay-per-view channels.  And soldiers from the opposition would be volunteering to become prisoners of war."
     "Laugh all you want," said Nicky.  "She may not think so, but your wife is a damn cult leader.  How can I keep her safe from crazed fans when all her fans are crazed, they're all zealots.  And she indulges them."
     I said, "Look.  We're gonna bowl some more.  If you want to, you can come down and bowl and keep an eye on things.  Sorry we've made your job so boring, but Bekka likes meeting her fans, and likes to interact with them.  Maybe if you hang out in the background, you can get a better feel for what her fans are like.  Or, you can stay here and drink.  That's fine, my only request is if you do that, you give me your keys.  Me or Bekka or Jane can pilot you and your Lincoln back home."
     "No way am I letting that little blue-haired girl drive my car!" Nicky declared.
     "Actually, she's an excellent driver," I replied.  "She started driving when she was twelve, thanks to her parents' habit of getting drunk in restaurants.  They'd give the keys to her, and have her get them home."
     Nicky sighed.  "Look, lemme have one more Long Island, then I'll come down.  You three can bowl, I'll be the scorekeeper and keep an eye on Miss Savior as best as I can.  But the way she is with her fans, I swear it's like Russian roulette.  I'm supposed to prevent bad things from happening to her, but I can't if she lets them get so close to her.  Fucking hugging them, it's ridiculous.  So were those three tonight happy with their consultation with the oracle?"
     "Overjoyed.  And you know what, Nicky?  They were headed off to one of their houses so the three of them could have sex together all at once.  They'll try anyway, the positioning is a bit awkward."
     Nicky gave me a dull stare.  He said, "Give me fifteen minutes, I'll be down.  Go keep an eye on your wife, make sure she's not playing with used hypodermic needles or something."
     "Whatever, Nicky," I said, and left the bar.

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