Thursday, May 26, 2016

Mafioso (Part 1)

     Jane and I sat on a couple of high-backed chairs in the hall of Don Ventimiglia's Bel Air mansion, sharing an ashtray.  The hall was crowded with women, mafia wives, all gossiping with each other.  Jane and I mostly sat in silence, having run out of small talk to say to each other.  We didn't have much to say to the women present, either.  Introductions had been made, and that was it.  They already knew who I was anyway, I was the king of porn, the one with the drug habit.  Jane certainly intrigued them, but mutual attempts at conversation had gone nowhere.  There was no commonality: these women couldn't really relate to a blue-haired sixteen year old girl whose primary interests were (in no particular order) loud music, motorcycles, getting high on Ecstasy, and fucking.

     We were dressed to the tee.  Jane was in a slinky, formal-but-sexy basic black dress and pumps, both a first for her personal wardrobe.  Being accustomed to Doc Martens, she had spent a couple days teetering around on her new heels at school, adjusting to the height.  I was in a tailored $1200 dark grey pinstriped suit, the first full suit I had ever owned.  So I wouldn't be completely uncomfortable, I had an Inana Productions t-shirt on underneath it, and was wearing my steel-toe engineer boots.  I'd polished the boots, at least.  I still felt like a strategically-shaved monkey.
     Jane, myself, and the mafia wives were all waiting for a door to open.  This would mean the end of the initiation ceremony.  It was my wife Bekka's induction into La Cosa Nostra, her being the first ever official woman mafioso.  As one could guess, this was a big deal for the American mafia.  There were out of town guests from New York and Chicago, come to witness this event.  Lady mafioso?  Amazing.  Bekka's sponsorship by Don Vito Ventimiglia was also of note.  The Don was was a much-revered man, respected across the U.S., the man who ran all of Southern California and greatly influenced matters west of the Mississippi.  He was not a man known given to frivolity or novelty, if he felt the family would gain from having this woman on board, then his decision was respected.
     Not only was their new inductee a woman, it was also a woman that probably every man in the room had seen naked and in an act of coitus.  Bekka is a porn star, and probably the most popular porn star in the world.  Her success was break-out: People, Vanity Fair, Cosmopolitan, CBS News, and Time had all done features on Becky Page, Bekka's alter ego.  Generally, she was heralded as a post-feminist Wonder Woman, a feminine icon of sexual empowerment.  Some of her most vocal fans were girls between the ages of sixteen and twenty-four, who found strength in Becky Page's screen performances and public statements and behavior.  Becky Page felt that shaking hands was self-limiting, believing that people should hug each other tightly when they first meet.  "Hugging is simultaneous aggression and surrender," she would say.  "When you hug, you invade someone else's personal space, yet leave yourself completely open.  You can't hide and hug at the same time.  Just the sheer tactile feel of having another person pressed against you eliminates a lot of barriers between us as people."
     The men with whom Bekka was interacting with probably just thought of Bekka as That Hot Sicilian Girl, the one who makes hardcore porn their wives aren't offended by.  Bekka's Sicilian heritage was a driving factor in her being chosen as a member of the family, as well as appealing to the nationalist pride of those who just like seeing her naked.  I knew for a fact that seventy-eight year old Don Ventimiglia had her Penthouse centerfold up in his office, as well as a couple of her R-rated posters.  In his own words, he liked having a beautiful nude Sicilian girl looking down on him.  I couldn't blame him, the same beautiful Sicilian girl kept me sane, was the focus of my love in this world.
     A woman I'd been introduced to as Cheryl skipped up to me and asked, "Nervous?"  The glitter in her eye told me she'd been at the cocaine that had been going around.  Plenty of coke in that room.  I couldn't criticize, as me and Jane were both doubled on Ecstasy.  That had seemed like the sane course to pilot.  You can handle a lot without panicking when you're that high on Ecstasy, so we wouldn't be too alarmed by what happened in Bekka's absence.
     "A little," I replied.  "I don't like secrets."
     "Your wife will be fine," Cheryl assured me.  "She'll have a cut on her hand, but nothing really traumatic happens in the initiation.  Not anything I've ever heard about, anyway."
      Another woman horned in on the conversation.  "It's a lot of pomp and ceremony.  I'm not sure what does happen, exactly, but it's nothing weird.  Not really weird, anyway."
     "Then why is my wife's hand being cut?" I asked.
     "I think it's both a sign of sacrifice, and also of loyalty, like signifying that you'll be truly a part of the family," said the second woman.  "I wish they'd hurry up, I could use a drink.  So how does it feel, having a wife who's broken the glass ceiling in La Cosa Nostra?"
     I gave a small grin.  "Pretty damn good, actually.  I couldn't be more proud.  At the same time, I can't help but wonder what they'll have her doing.  I mean, I'm just an associate, but I've been in more than a few tense situations.  Hopefully Bekka isn't getting shot at with the same regularity that I was for a while."
     Cheryl said, "Your wife has a full career already, being the hottest Sicilian on the planet.  I doubt they will have her take on a lot of duties.  Me, I think this was a....  A ceremonial thing for Don Ventimiglia.  He's always been forward-thinking, and I think he wanted to have a woman become mafioso just to prove to the rest of the family, all over the country, that the world wouldn't end.  And from what I've heard, Bekka is the perfect candidate.  Is it true that she's killed for the family?"
     "It is," I said.  "When Vinny Morelli's wife Chrissy got kidnapped, it was put on us to get her back.  When we found her, she was doped to the teeth, so we got her in the back of the car and took off.  The kidnappers chased us, shooting.  I was the one driving, so Bekka shot back.  She killed the driver, and we got away."
     The second woman said, "Wait, I heard about that.  I heard you and Bekka stayed awake for a week, doing crank the whole time, while you hunted the woman down.  I heard you looked like ghouls, the living dead.  How much of that is true?"
     "It was five days, not a full week.  Yeah, from Friday until Tuesday we went through a huge amount of methamphetamine, but it seemed like there was no time to relax, we had to keep moving.  We probably looked pretty tore up, too.  We felt tore up.  Five nights with no sleep and damn little rest, you're not sane.  Shit gets weird.  You hallucinate.  Yeah, we were tweaking hard."
     "Have you killed for the family?"
     I chuckled and rolled my eyes.  "Yes, four times.  Plus two others that was just me out playing Batman, saving a woman I had a crush on from a snatch gang.  It's weird, five of the six times I've killed in my life have involved kidnapping, including my own.  Hell, Jane here was one of the victims."
     "It's true," Jane said.  I got grabbed by these Iron Curtain scumbags in the parking lot of my school, thrown in the trunk of their car and driven to a run-down factory by the Long Beach airport.  Lenny came and got me, along with Bekka."
     "And the members of the strike team," I reminded her.  "Don't give your uncles short shrift when it comes to having gotten you out in one piece."
     "Uncles?" asked the second woman.
     Jane said, "Yeah, Dougie, Rizzo, Angel, Rico, Mel....  They're my adoptive uncles, the guys from the strike force."
     I expanded, "Jane is the mascot for all the guys who do wet ops in Southern California, like a good luck charm.  They carry her picture with them, send Valentine's cards.  If either of you two have husbands whe do wet ops, and you see him giving Jane a hug and a kiss, don't panic.  It's just for good luck.  Right, Jane?"
     "Right," Jane replied.  "Except in the case of Rizzo.  I think Rizzo is pretty hot."
     The two women burst into laughter.  "Don't let that get  back to his wife!" Cheryl exclaimed.  "Little girl, she's aware that her husband is good looking, and has a jealous streak this wide.  I know you punker chicks are supposed to be pretty tough, but Maura, Rizzo's wife, would mop the floor with you.  Any interest you have in the men around here, you keep it inside that spiky blue head of yours.  There isn't a single man here that isn't tightly attached."
     Jane huffed and said, "Fine, I'll just have to go seduce Gaines (Don V.'s butler), then."
     This prompted more laughter.  The second woman said, "Oh, good luck with that, little girl.  I'd say Gaines is gay, but I don't think even that is true.  That would at least mean he had some sort of passion in his life.  No, I think Gaines is asexual, or non-sexual, or something.  Somehow the Don got a hold of a eunuch."
     Jane said, "Oh my god, eunuchs.  For me, I'd know I was in hell if I was surrounded by eunuchs.  Surrounded by men, and not a functioning cock among all of them."
     One of the women said, "Never hang out around coke freaks, then.  They all have the urge, but not the ability, totally limp.  Speaking of, would you two like to do some blow?  Prime stuff."
     Jane and I looked at each other, and I answered for the both of us.  "Maybe later.  We're both good and high on Ecstasy right now, so we're doing okay.  Besides, it's not a good idea to pile stimulant on top of stimulant.  Thank you, though."
     Cheryl suddenly started chuckling.  I asked for the source of the mirth, and she said, "Well, you're now married into the mob.  I just had the sudden image of you acting like a mafia wife....  You joining us girls when we go shopping or to lunch, showing up at our afternoon coffee get-togethers, gossiping on the phone with all of us.  You're lucky, you're still too young to be thinking about plastic surgery in an attempt to remain appealing to your spouse."
     I said, "Actually, I can think of one positive development if I started hanging around with mafia wives, something Bekka would appreciate.  I'd start dressing nicer than how I normally do.  At your encouragement, I'd start wearing clothes besides Ben Davis trousers and band t-shirts, along with my Doc Martens.  I'm sure that from your urging, I'd start looking more stylish."
     "You look just fine tonight," said the second woman.  "Although I just realized, you're wearing a pair of big Frankenstein boots."
     "You like how I look?  Thank you.  I'm wearing the only suit I own, and I haven't owned it that long.  In fact I only got it because of this event.  Bekka insisted that my ratty blue blazer with an Oxford shirt and my narrow ska-boy tie wouldn't cut it.  Me, right now I feel like a fraud being dressed like this.  This is not me, I'm a suburban white trash punk rocker.  I have no business wearing clothes that cost more than my first car.  You were wondering about the boots.  They're what I'd be wearing no matter what, a good comfortable broken-in pair of steel toed engineers.  I gave 'em a polish and I'm good to go."
     Cheryl said, "Yeah, you'd prefer to have your punker thing going on, right?  I'm surprised Bekka hasn't put her foot down, if you're always looking all punk rock."
     I shrugged.  "Bekka fell in love with a punk six years her junior.  She's used to me, and accepts me as I am.  Besides, me looking somewhat hardcore helps when we're dealing with obnoxious fans.  I can run them off easier looking like a scumbag than if I was dressed all preppy or whatever.  Besides, Bekka carries enough class and style for the both of us."
     "Um, I was wondering....  How did you two end up meeting and falling in love, anyway?  I don't know you two well, but what I do know, it seems like there's very little in common for you two."
     "I used witchcraft," I chuckled.  "Seriously?  We first met when I was the drug connection for Inana.  Then I got hired as the still photographer, and we started becoming close friends.  I won't lie, I had a serious crush on her.  Due to one thing an another, we spent a weekend in a motel together.  I confessed my crush, and Bekka explained that she'd been screwed over by every man she'd ever been exclusive with, so there was no way in hell she'd date me, we were too good of friends.  We could have all the sex we wanted, and kiss each other hello, and hold hands, but there would be no romance, because dammit, she said so.  I decided I was happier being a little disappointed and having Bekka in my life than pushing the issue and losing her completely.
     "Bekka came out and admitted that she loved me about six months after we started playing this we're-just-friends game.  We moved in together, then I proposed.  Marriage to her has been wonderful, we seem to complement each other well.  Like, I know when Bekka is upset with me when she starts talking to me in Italian.  Sorta like on 'I Love Lucy' when Ricky would start jabbering in Spanish at Lucy.  I don't think Desi Arnaz ever called Lucille Ball a fucking weasel in his native language, though.
     "The thing everyone always wonders about, Bekka's performance in porn, is such a non-issue that I'm sick of answering that one.  I always explain, making porn is what Bekka was doing when we first met.  It's what she was doing when we became friends, and fell in love, and moved in together, and got married.  It's just a job, it doesn't mean anything.  It's called performance for a reason.  I almost never watch her work, but that's out of the respect for the guys she's working with.  They're trying to convincingly get busy with Bekka, and here's her husband in the same room, with a fucking gun under one arm.  I make studs nervous: not only am I the boss, I'm the husband of that day's co-star."
     Jane said to Cheryl, "They have plenty in common.  They dig the same music a lot of the time, they like the same food --- Lenny and Bekka would live off of taqueria food, if left to their own devices --- they have the same taste in drugs, and cars, and sex.  Except when Bekka is cussing you in Italian, I've never heard the two of you yell at each other.  You two don't play games, you don't keep secrets, and you don't hide how you feel.  You communicate well.  I like to think I'm learning positive behaviors and traits from you two, so far as interacting with men goes."
     A door twenty feet away suddenly opened.  I could hear a low murmur of voices, then Gaines stepped out and stood by the side of the doorway, holding the door open.  Men began shuffling out.  I scanned their faces, looking for a hint as to the sort of mood that prevailed.  I recognized the facial expressions I was getting: it was the face of men leaving church on Sunday, after having just heard an interesting but not groundbreaking sermon.  I relaxed some, and waited for Bekka's appearance.
     And there she came, looking pleased but also rather shell-shocked.  In one hand she was clutching a napkin which was partially soaked with blood.  Angel was on one side of her, Don Ventimiglia on the other.  As they went past to locate their wives (or at least the women they were with) every man stopped to shake Bekka's hand and offer congratulations.  Bekka would offer a demure nod and smile, promising the opportunity to speak more over drinks and dinner.
     Bekka saw me standing there and moved quickly towards me, to collect a hug from both me and Jane.  I asked, "So, do you feel any different?"
     She said, "Yes.  I'm now part of an elite, a member of a very exclusive organization.  And I am the first woman to be a member, which puts me in a unique position.  It's up to me to prove that women can make as good of mafioso as men."
     "You already do," said the Don.  "As I will always remind you, you have brains, and you have balls, Bekka.  Those two things are the reasons why I chose to sponsor you.  I am sure that as the first made woman, you will handle your duties with intelligence and skill."
     "What will you have me doing?" Bekka asked.  "Suitcase runs, like Lenny was doing?"
     "For now, just keep being a brilliant performer," said Angel.  "Remember, Inana Productions is a family business.  You have helped to make Inana very successful.  Thus, you are helping make money for the family.  We---"
     Bekka said, "Aw, c'mon Angel.  It's Lenny who's making you rich.  Any bitch with an okay body and a minimum of acting skill could do what I do.  I'm totally replaceable...."
     "Bullshit," I said.  "You breathe life into the characters I write.  Look at Ursula the witch.  She could have come across as boring and neurotic, but you made her a striking and complex character.  Or Topaz, your character in 'Temporary Pleasures.'  Just about anybody else would have played her as a bitch, some middle management office drone.  You actually made her sexy.  Topaz came off as a sympathetic character, and it was you who made her so."
     "But you're the ones who creates and writes these characters to begin with.   If you were writing cardboard characters in plastic scenes, I'd have nothing to work with.  You're giving me too much credit as an actress, I don't create the characters, you do.  You create them, you write them, and then you refine them when you're coaching us all in rehearsal.  Shit, I'm just following instructions, anybody could do what I do."
     Jane stood between the two of us and put her hands on our chests.  She said, "Enough!  Lenny, Bekka, guess what?  You're both fucking brilliant, so shut up and take some of the credit for your own success.  Angel, Uncle Vito, I'm sorry about this.  They'll both stand here and denigrate their own abilities until the cows come home, refusing to believe they had anything to do with making such awesome movies.  It's the other person's doing.  Hopefully their director doesn't do this to himself."
     Angel said, "No, Small Steve is a joy to work with.  He has confidence without being egotistical.  He is someone else who has profited from Inana's success.  Lenny, I don't think I told you.  Steve is buying a house in San Clemente.  His credit was weak enough that I had to cosign for the property.  How come I never had to do that for you, when you built your place?"
     "A couple things," I said.  "First of all, Bekka's credit is strong.  She's bought a couple cars through financing, she's always kept her balances low on her credit cards, and she's been a stellar tenant.  My credit was really green, nothing either good or bad.  I had a checking account with a high balance and no overdrafts, and that was it.  Besides, you must have gotten calls from Wells Fargo trying to establish my income.  Both Bekka and I went round and round with them, trying to explain that porn is our career."
     Don Ventimiglia suddenly said, "Bekka, before I forget, I have a present for you.  Please come this way.  Lenny, Jane, you may join us also."
     We followed the Don through his massive sprawling mansion, thoroughly lost.  Then we were outside, next to what appeared to be a garage.  The Don led us through a door and hit a light switch.
     Bekka and I both gasped at what we saw.  Sitting there was a 1964 Ford Falcon hot rod, metallic blue in color.  At first and second glance, it was identical to the one we'd lost to a firebombing attack at our old complex.  The ass end was jacked up, just a little.  Goodyear rubber bulged at the fenders.  Bekka and I leaned on the glass, trying to get a better view inside.
     The Don chuckled and said, "It is not locked.  You may enter.  Do you like it?"
     Bekka said, "Don Vito, è bella."  She opened the driver's door and peered inside.  "How did you...."
     I went to the passenger side and stuck my head in.  It was bringing on a serious sense of deja vu.  Everywhere I looked, this machine was identical to the one we'd lost.  A Hurst pistol-grip shifter stuck out the top of the stick shift.  A Pioneer stereo lurked in the dashboard.  Roll bar, padded with black foam, caged the interior.  The front bench seat had been replaced with racing buckets, featuring four-point seat belt harnesses.  For god's sake, a duplicate of Bekka's St. Christopher medal dangled from the rear view.  All that was missing was a full ashtray and some taco stand wrappers floating around on the floor in back, and it would be identical to the one we'd lost.
     "Jesus Christ almighty," I said.  "Don, how did you do this?  It's uncanny, this thing is identical to our old one."
     "There are a couple differences," said the Don.  "For instance, you may have noticed the scoop on the hood."
     I took a look.  Sure enough, there was an intake scoop rising several inches above the hood surface.  It was painted the same blue as the rest of the car, so I wasn't surprised I didn't notice it right off.
     "Nifty," I said.  "I'll guess the previous owner thought it would look cool, never mind that 289 motor breathes just fine on its own."
     The Don said, "No, it is there for a reason.  Bekka, pop the hood and I will show you."
     Bekka and I got out as the Don raised the hood.  Looking in, lots of chromed engine parts glinted back at us.  The big difference, however, was the inclusion of a supercharger to the motor.  The hood scoop was a requirement, to make room for the damn thing.  My mouth was open in amazement.
     "I know of your love of hot rods.  I know the two of you loved your old Falcon in particular.  I hope this one brings you the same joy your old one did, maybe even more.  The supercharger was my idea.  I have had Dino take me out in it, onto Pacific Coast Highway, to see what it could do.  Bekka, Lenny, with the supercharger running, this car is fast as blazes."
     Bekka said, "There are details in this car that are identical to the old Falcon, things you would have no way of knowing.  How did you pull that off?"
     Grinning, the Don said, "I picked the brain of Boss.  He is a man with a keen eye for anything with a motor, and he remembered your car quite well.  Boss was quite an aid in helping me accomplish  what I wanted to."
     "He never said  a word to us," I complained.
     "I impressed upon him the need to be circumspect.  After all, this was meant to be a surprise."
     "Well, it worked," said Bekka.  "I am surprised, I am amazed, I am shocked....  And I thank you, Don.  It is beautiful.  May I start it up?"
     "Absolutely," said the Don.  "The keys are in the glove box."
     Bekka and I got back in the Falcon, Bekka at the wheel.  I handed her the keys.  She keyed the ignition, the cold engine catching within three seconds.  We sat there listening to the small V8 burble at us.  It was a familiar sound to the two of us.  The Don leaned down by the window and said, "Once the engine is warm, why don't you take it for a spin?  You may let me know if I was successful in replicating your old car."
     "Hey, what about me?" asked Jane.
     "You can ride in it when we go home," I said.  "This first ride needs to be me and Bekka alone.  We had a lot of special times in our old Falcon, and Uncle Vito is helping us bring them back.  Don, where is the switch for the supercharger?"
     "Down low on the shifter stalk," the Don replied.  "The supercharger seems to be most effective above sixty-five MPH, it will push you back into your seat.  Are you going to get on the freeway right now?  That is the place to experiment with the supercharger."
     "What the hell, why not," said Bekka.  "We'll jump on the 405 at Sunset and run over the pass, then come back.  We won't be long."
     Bekka trundled us down the driveway and through the gate.  Turning on to Stone Canyon Rd., she leaned on the gas and slipped the clutch.  The rear end of the car slid sideways with a scream of rubber.  She bombed down Stone Canyon Rd, testing the suspension on the curves.  We stayed glued to the pavement.  Once we reached Sunset Blvd. she backed off briefly, cruising along at median speed.  At the short J-shaped freeway on-ramp, Bekka muttered, "Let's flog this beast," and laid into the throttle.  We shot up what merge lane there was, having to back off to merge.  Bekka worked her way left and opened up the throttle a bit.  "Here goes nothing," she said, fingering the control for the supercharger.  She activated it.  We heard a whirring noise kick in, and then were pushed back into our seats as the car accelerated like a jet plane.
     "So how's it driving?" I asked.
     "It handles as well as the old one, if anything a little tighter.  And the supercharger is something else.  You felt the acceleration, like a 747 on takeoff.  My god, that wonderful old man replaced something we loved with something just like it, only better.  And Jane is probably not going to like hearing this, but she doesn't get to drive this thing, not anytime soon.  I don't know if she even knows how to drive a clutch."
     We went as far north as Victory Blvd. and turned around.  Bekka and I pulled a Chinese fire drill while waiting for the ramp light to change, so I could have a turn at the wheel.  I launched up the ramp, pleased with how the car responded to input.  Once I was merged and over in the left lanes, I activated the supercharger and hit the gas at the same time.  I reflected that this particular car may have the correct name, Falcon.  It wanted to take flight.
     "Gauges, we need better gauges in this thing," I commented.  "The stock speedometer pegs out at 120, and there is no tachometer.  Plus water temperature, oil pressure, and voltage.  I refuse to rely on idiot lights in a vehicle this powerful."
     "I want the tach mounted out on the hood," said Bekka.  "There are other hot rods where they placed them like that, I just can't remember which ones.  But it keeps your eyes forward towards the road, not pointed down at the dashboard."
     I slammed through traffic at 115 MPH, then jumped back off the freeway at Sunset.  Pulling back in front of the gates, I alarmed the two hired-for-the-night valets.  They didn't seem to remember my departure minutes earlier, and were loath to accept the car, or even let me in.
     "I'm sorry sir, but this is a private event," I was told by the one who didn't look like he smoked his breakfast in a bong.
     I said, "Yes, I know, I've already been in once.  Sitting shotgun here is the guest of honor.  Rip me off a parking stub and anchor this beast for me."
     "Sir, I can't let you in here."
     I got out of the car and faced up to the valet.  He was shy four inches, thirty pounds, and a lot of attitude.  I told him, "Dude, you're awful scrawny to be working as a bouncer."
     He had his book of valet stubs tucked under one arm.  I grabbed it, opened it up, and ripped a set out.  I shoved my copy in my pocket, wrote down the plate number in the correct space, and handed him back the book.  I said, "Your options are open at this point.  You can park this car like any other car here tonight.  You can call the cops and report it as an abandoned vehicle.  You could rent it out to a Laotian family as a motor home.  Or, you can set fire to it, as an offering to Ba'al.  I recommend just parking the damn thing.  If you really want to find me, go to the front door and tell them to page Mr. Schneider.  Follow me?"
     Bekka and I walked back in on the same path we'd driven out on.  Don V., Angel, and Jane were standing around awaiting our return, puffing on various forms of nicotine.  Angel looked alarmed at our arrival on foot, barking, "Where the hell's the car?"
     "Being parked by the valets," I said.  At least I hope so.  They seem confused by it, but they also strike me as the types who can't' handle the plot twists in an episode of 'Married: With Children.'"
     "What is your opinion of your new Falcon?" asked Don Ventimiglia.
     "Love it," said Bekka.  "Handles tight, quick off the line, fast as hell....  Don, I can't even tell you how happy I am right now.  I have a Falcon back.  Thank you so much."
     I said, "I don't know where you got it from, and I don't know who did your wrenching, but that damn thing is bolted together as tight as a brand new car.  No squeaks, no rattles, it's perfect.  We're doing one thing to it, which is to install gauges.  A hood-mounted tachometer, a speedometer calibrated up to 160, plus oil and water and electric.  Can't rely on the idiot lights in something that powerful."
     "Can I drive it home tonight?" asked Jane.
     Bekka and I glanced at each other.  Bekka said, "Uh....  You'll only be in that car as a passenger, pet.  Like I was saying before, Falcon hot rods hold a special place in Lenny's and mine hearts.  You know we're generous with our vehicles, but this one is for us only.  Besides, do you even know how to drive a stick?"
     "No....  But I could learn real quick, I'll bet."
     "You will have to be satisfied with being a passenger in the Falcon.  And don't take it personally, nobody except us and our mechanic ever gets to drive that beast.  Don Ventimiglia, what can you tell me of the vehicle's history?"
     The Don rubbed his chin and said, "You are the third owner, not including myself.  The original owners babied the car, keeping it as new as they could until the death of the husband in 1986.  The car was sold at an estate sale for $250, with 68,000 miles on the odometer.  The lucky new owner put it in storage, intending to sell it for a massive mark-up in the future.  He had some poor business luck and had to get rid of most of his toys, including the Falcon.  I picked it up from him and got a hold of Boss, asking what I needed to do with it to turn it into a hot rod.  He gave the project to a friend of his, who did all the improvements and modifications: road racing transmission, mechanically sound engine, completely reassembled and tuned suspension.  Boss gave me the details for things that would identify the Falcon as yours --- like the Saint Christopher medal Bekka hung from the rear view, and the paint color --- and I went to work on the car up here, having it painted, new wheels and tires, a stereo installed, and all the other details.  I enjoyed myself greatly.  And I hope you two enjoy yourselves, now that it is complete."
     "Is it faster than the Cutlass?" asked Jane.
     Bekka grinned widely and said, "That's a good question, pet.  We'll have to go out on PCH some late night and determine which is faster.  What do you think, dear?"
     I said, "I think it will be damn close.  Both have advantages and disadvantages.  It might be that the only way to end the argument is to install a supercharger on the Cutlass and call it the winner."
     Jane put off a cunning smile and said, "Ooh.  The Cutlass would be even more of a boy magnet than it is right now."
     "Forget it, Jane.  Come on, let's go get a drink."

1 comment:

  1. After all the shit that goes on in a normal week, I am looking forward to sitting down this afternoon and reading this.