After lunch we got our girl/girl scenes in the can. This time the whole (male) population of Gilmore Camp was right on the sidelines to watch the action. Generally, they seemed more amazed than aroused. Colson had locked up the store so he wouldn't miss a minute of fun, standing in awe as he watched Bekka and Feather (named Itsy, due to her diminutive size) make out and sixty-nine at the water's edge. Feather was Bekka's shotgun rider in the Nova. I had a latent guilty realization: Feather might be eighteen, but she was still in high school. Or should be, anyway....
I asked her about it as she got dressed outside one of the RVs. She said, "Yeah, I got my GED. I tested out."
"But you only had a couple more months until you graduate," I said.
"And as soon as I'm home, I'm moving out of my parents' house. I'm getting a two bedroom someplace, buying a running car, working as many days as you'll allow me, and working on getting my little sister out of that house too. I don't want to be there, and she shouldn't be there."
"What's going on?" I asked.
Feather busied herself lacing her Doc Martens.
"What's up?" I pressed.
"It's my dad," she said. "He's getting worse, and he's getting weirder. All he does is beat off to porn all damn day, I don't even know the last time he went to his office. I can't have friends over because he'll be in the living room with his dick in his hand. A few weeks ago I woke up in the middle of the night and he's standing in my doorway, jerking it. I yelled at him to fuck off and go to bed, and he just stood there a minute. I turned on my light and grabbed my knife, and he sort of wandered off. I stuck my head out in the hall to make sure he didn't go to my sister's room. I told my mom about it in the morning, and she just poured more Southern Comfort in her coffee and said he must have been sleepwalking. Yeah, right.
"So I'm leaving and I'm taking my little sister with me, come hell or high water. I'm gonna flow money to my mom so they can at least make the mortgage payments on the house, but I can't be there any more. If I have to, I'll call fuckin' CPS and tell them what my sister's home life is like, and that I'm in a position to take care of her...."
I said, "Try to avoid that route. CPS will want to know what you do for a living, and they won't be happy with your answer. Your sister could end up in some foster home."
Feather stood and lit a cigarette. "Yeah, I guess that should be a last resort. Save up and get a lawyer on my side before I mix with CPS. I guess they don't wanna hear that a fourteen year old girl would be living with her eighteen year old porn star sister. Whatever, at this point my mom's so numb she'd agree to anything. So, that's my fucking life. How's yours?"
"Oh.... Outside of work, fairly sedate."
"Are you fucking Jane?"
I froze up. "Why do you ask?"
Feather chuckled. "Women's intuition. Jane gets a look in her eye whenever she talks about you. If you're not fucking her, she wishes you were."
"Look, it's a little weird," I sighed. "Yes, Jane and I are lovers. We have Bekka's full blessing, too. Jane and I are kind of sporadic --- after all, she has Lance, too --- but her and I do get together. In her own words, Lance is still a boy, and she likes to be with a man. I guess I make the cut."
"Given how oversexed Jane is, it's probably good she has you to turn to. Otherwise she'd be running around chasing anything with a dick and a heartbeat. I swear, Jane is even hornier than most of the guys I know."
We returned to where we had sequestered the other vehicles, everybody got behind the wheel of something, and we rolled out towards Slab City. Before we took off, Mitch, Dutch, Terry, and I ran around with pliers and baling wire, attaching license plates to the backs of cars. These vehicles attracted attention, we would be on relatively populated highway, and I wanted no interactions with the CHP. Fifteen miles from our destination, one of the Hondas got a flat. Fortunately, all the equipment in the flatbed actually worked, so Mitch and Dutch pulled the wheel, fired up the gas-powered compressor, put in a plug patch, and we were on our merry way.
Terry was ecstatic driving the Nova, missing windshield and all. We pulled into Slab City, she pulled onto one of the horizontal slabs and spun a donut. Admiring her handiwork, I saw she had drawn a perfect circle of rubber onto the concrete. I congratulated her on her skill.
She said, "Shit, I learned how to do that when I was fuckin' fifteen. So you're really gonna sell me this bomb for a grand?"
I said, "That, and the cost of the glass. Tell you what, call around to auto glass places in El Centro and find one that can provide the windshield on the day we take off. I'll front you the money. It's probably gonna be custom work, so they'll need the time to get it. You get up, get it installed, and catch up with us in San Diego. Don't forget, we got a dinner that night."
"Yeah, no problem," Terry said. She muttered, "I wish I could spend that first night home with you."
I kissed her forehead and said, "My wife is looking forward to being home, too. Maybe if you ask her real nice you can borrow me sometime over that next week."
Our scenery guys, Green and Campbell, had everything arranged. Tarps covered with random things that a post-apocalyptic consumer might want were laid out in haphazard rows: canned food, tools, ammunition, books, and even some produce. With the extras, the denizens of Slab City, wandering around it would appear to be an anarchistic swap meet. The general extras were getting forty dollar Chevron gas cards as payment, with a half dozen getting $100 for pretending to be "merchants," crouching in front of the tarps and calling out what they had to offer. The four prop vehicles were in position. Shot from the correct angles, it would give the appearance of a semi-bustling bazaar, an ode to Armageddon capitalism. I would be auctioning off the prop vehicles after the shoot was over, bids starting at ten dollars. They ran, they were street legal, they were just ugly as hell and we had no use for them.
With all the road covered, we were later than normal getting back to the motels. Some headed straight out looking for dinner, others wanted to relax in their rooms for a while. At this point I was sure there was no item on either the diner's or Denny's menu that had not been ordered at least once, including grits. The diner had a smaller menu, but was considered to be better food than Denny's. No surprise there. Some would have been happy with the microwave burritos from Circle K, others were threatening mutiny by driving back to San Diego for a decent meal. I appeased many by locating a decent Italian place and throwing pizza parties by the Villa pool on Sundays.
Jolene, Terry, Bekka and I went to the diner for supper. Being from the Central Valley, Jolene was used to unrepentant white trash, and wasn't bothered by Terry's behavior and appearance the way many other Inana people were. Bekka was right, she made the perfect foil: if I wanted to be left alone, Terry would deflect anyone coming to see me by deadpanning, "Unless somebody's on fire, he wants to be left the fuck alone. Come back later." People would not press or argue with her. I pondered if she would make a good bodyguard for Bekka.
Over dinner, Jolene told me, "I've been thinking about it for a few days now. I need to contact my husband. Do you mind if I run up the phone bill in my room?"
"What brought this on?" asked Bekka.
"Just.... I've been away seven weeks now, I'm settling into my job, and we have business to take care of. I've been sending him postcards about every week, just saying I'm alive and well. I may as well let him know where I'm living and how I'm earning a living. Christ, my job still trips me out some, when I tell him I'm doing porn, it may break his brain. The letter I left him when I split enumerated why I could no longer be with him, I just want to update him on how I'm doing and remind him I don't hate him, but I can no longer be with him. Lenny, Bekka, would you be there when I make the call? I may need the moral support."
Bekka and I agreed. After we finished eating, Terry took off to do the nightly restock at Von's, and the three of us headed for Jolene's room. She had one of the doubles. Bekka and I sat on the end of a bed while she dialed, tapping a cigarette on the motel room desk. Someone answered.
"Hello? May I speak with Garland, please? This is his wife.... Hello Garland, this is Jolene.... At the moment, in a motel room in El Centro. I'm making a movie, I'm working for an adult video production company called Inana. You know who Becky Page is, right? This is her studio.... Yes I am.... I'm in front of the cameras, I'm a porn star now.... Both me and the studio are in San Diego.... Quite well.... It's called 'Succubus,' and should be released in about ten weeks. Obviously, you'll have to go to one of the porn shops in the Valley to get it, nobody in Grass Valley carries triple-X video. It's a very ambitious project, a lot of fun, like a sexy 'Road Warrior.' In fact, both me and the Nova have roles in it, I sold the Nova to the studio and they modified it, put in a supercharger and a big metal pipe for the front bumper....
"Garland, I took it because I knew it would piss you off. Not very mature on my part, but that damn car was such a sticking point with us, I felt I had to. Now it's out of our lives.... Actually no, it's being bought by a studio employee after we're done.... Sorry Garland, but them's the breaks.... In fact, my boss is in the room with me right now, hold on."
Jolene covered the mouthpiece and said, "Lenny, my husband says he wants the Nova back."
I considered briefly and said, "No. Legally, everything was on the up and up in how I came into possession of it. I've promised it to Terry, who needs wheels and will be very happy driving it. Tell him sorry, but no."
"He says sorry, but no. The girl who's getting it needs the car.... Actually, you've spoken with him before. He was a guest at the Best Western, he was showing me his cell phone, and I called you. You wanted to race him in his hot rod. He gave me his business card, so when I got to San Diego, I looked him up.... Yeah, the punk rocker.... No he isn't, and it wouldn't matter if he was. He's married, and faithful to his wife. By the way, who was that who answered the phone?... Well, good, I hope she's treating you well. You know her from work?... Just curious, I'm glad you seem to be moving on.... I'll ask, hold on."
Jolene asked me, "Do you mind speaking with my husband? If he starts being an asshole, just give the phone back to me."
"No problem," I said, taking the handset. "Hello, this is Lenny Schneider."
There was a pause, then, "You're the punker Jolene met at her job. I don't know what you said or did to her, but she started getting weird after she met you. Then she leaves me, and ends up working for you. You got my wife, and you got my Chevy. What kinda asshole are you?"
"How did she get weird?" I asked.
"She just.... She started trying to tell me what to do when we were in bed together, you know? Complaining about my, y'know, performance. Insisting that I, uh, lick her. Shit like that. Now she says she's making porn. What the hell did you do to her?"
"You got me. When we met, I spoke honestly and openly about my job, and about my wife. I'm married to Becky Page. I was candid about the porn industry and about my own love life. I have a feeling she already had something simmering inside her, and I just woke it up."
Changing gears abruptly, Garland said, "I want my Chevy back."
I said, "Sorry, but no can do. My personal assistant Terry is buying it from the studio when we're all wrapped up shooting. She's a biker chick, so she actually wants a Harley, but the Nova will keep her mobile and happy until she can get one. Maybe after she gets her motorcycle, she'll want to sell the car. If that happens, I'll be happy to let you know, and you can buy it back."
"No, you just give me the goddamn thing," snarled Garland. "It was mine."
I chuckled into the phone. "Legally speaking, it was Jolene's. It went through two DMV transactions in the space of three days, and I'm sure they would have said if something was fishy. Maybe you can buy it back in about six months. It may be a collector's item by then, a famous movie car."
"I want my car!"
"Damn dude, you sound more upset about losing your car than your wife. Sorry, we're still using the car, and it has a new owner when we wrap. Be happy, I was just gonna junk it afterwards."
"Lemme talk to Jolene."
I handed the phone over, Jolene spoke, and paused. Then she started laughing.
"Oh Garland, you're too funny," Jolene said. "The answer is no. I don't owe you any favors, I'm not about to steal a car for you.... Actually no, it went to a dealership first. I used it as a trade-in for a brand new Cadillac Seville. Lenny and the owner of the Cadillac dealership are friends, so the dealership turned around and sold it to the studio. That way I got my Seville with no hassles, and the studio got the hot rod they needed.... Quite easily. I'm getting $7500 for the two and a half weeks I'm out here in the desert, and I earn between $2250 and $3000 a week the rest of the time. That's before taxes.... I have long days while we make this movie, but when we're back in the studio, I work maybe eighteen hours a week.... Apparently I'm quite good at it.... No, I'm not.... Shut up, Garland, you'll just have to buy my videos if you want to find out. I'll be showing up in a series called 'Naughty Novices' as well as a couple scenes in this movie.... No, we're not discussing this. It's just a job, and nothing we never did.... So get a catalog! Lenny, what's the address to request a catalog from?"
"Have him send two bucks to Catalogs, Inana Productions, PO box 3046, Van Nuys, cee-ay, 91401. If he's looking for anything you'd be in, though, he'd be better off going to the biggest porn shop he can find and searching for the most recent 'Naughty Novices' releases. You also show up in the 'California Erotica' series. There is, unfortunately, a four month lag between the catalogs and our newest releases. Or he can just mail a check for $32.95 and request a pre-order of the new movie. It's called 'Succubus,' he'd get his video in about ten weeks."
Jolene said, "Did you catch that? Well grab a pencil, I'll give you that address again." Jolene recited the address, slowly. "Got it? Good. Look, Garland, when I'm back home we need to discuss how we're going to proceed. A no-fault divorce is fine with me, we don't have any real property to divide up.... No, Garland.... Garland, this isn't a whim, and it isn't temporary. We are finished as a couple. I am not.... No, absolutely not. I'm building my own life down here. You should be too, you already have a woman with you, you're.... No Garland, forget it. I will call you when I'm home, goodnight, Garland."
She lit another cigarette and swiveled in her chair. Her eyes looked slightly damp but her voice was clear and steady as she said, "He misses the sex, and he misses the car. He's confused by why I left, but doesn't seem to actually miss me for me. One of the girls from the finance department at work seems to have taken pity on him, and is keeping him company. I wonder what she'll think when she's being asked to balance his checkbook for him."
"He did seem rather upset about the Nova," I said.
"Yes. He told me I should steal it and bring it back to him. Maybe it was unfair of me to take it, but it represented so many things wrong with our relationship that I had to. If he'd been a drug addict I'd have taken his dope, to see which he missed more. Now I know." And Jolene started crying.
Bekka coaxed her out of the chair and onto the bed. We both squeezed her. After she slowed down a little, Jolene said, "I may not have loved him, but I did have affection, and I really tried to make it work. I kept our day-to-day and month-to-month lives in order, without a bit of help from him. I didn't have a husband, I had a son."
I said, "Well, you're free and clear of him now. You can pursue better men. Did you call any of the guys we met bar-hopping?"
"Yes, the guy we met at the last bar, the one that works at the racetrack. We've talked a few times. I should call him and send greetings from the metropolis that is El Centro."
"A capital idea," said Bekka. "So what's he like?"
Jolene replied, "Mature, which I appreciate. He's thirty-five, married briefly once, no kids. Very calm, a pulse rate of about twelve, you know? Um, he got married when he was twenty and in the Navy. He shipped out for ten months, and when he got back his wife was six months pregnant. That ended that. He loves horses, wishes he'd been a smaller guy so he could have been a jockey. What else, he drives an MG, loves Chinese food, and uh, I asked him if he's hung. He said he's 'better than average.' I can work with that."
"I need to get across the street for the nightly powwow," I said. "Meet you in our room, hon?"
Bekka said to Jolene, "You feel like being social? We'll walk down and get some beer and go up to Roach's room, his place is party central."
Jolene said, "Yeah, that sounds good. I'll have a few beers, then come down and talk dirty to Glenn on the phone for a while, see if I can raise his blood pressure some."
To me, Bekka said, "Go up to Roach's room, that's where I'll be. Okay?"
"Righto," I said. "Talk to you in a while."
I went across the street to the Travelodge and into the meeting room. Everyone was there. Small Steve had lugged down the playback unit so we could all skim through today's video. We watched both camera angles of the arrival at the water, then the scene between Bekka and Tawny. Both looked great. We skipped through both tapes of the playing-in-the-water, agreeing there was more than enough usable material. Same for the girl-girl shots, with the exception of a few: to his embarrassment, Steve was getting good footage of his own shadow in a few places. No big deal, we had plenty of material to work with.
Tomorrow would be a short day, which was fine with everyone. We would start late and wrap early, remaining at Slab City for no more than two hours. We were showing the pirates browsing and haggling, plus a short dialogue scene with Jolene and Pill. So long as we didn't have the extras (the Slab City denizens) staring at the cameras, we would get through the shots quickly. After that, we would be shuttling the vehicles over to BLM land between Highway 78 and the river, where we'd be shooting our fuck scenes: lots of privacy, scenic, and simple enough to get to, although a distance: about an hour and twenty minutes between Slab City and where we'd bivouac, and about the same to the motels in El Centro. I would explain to everyone, especially Terry, about the signs that say DIP. They'll turn your drive into a rollercoaster ride at speed. Hit them fast enough, and you'll catch air. Cowboy actor Tom Mix was killed hitting an Arizona DIP at high speed, a suitcase flew up and bashed him in the head.
Terry was just arriving when I stepped out of the Travelodge. I helped her distribute food among the three RVs, then we headed up to Roach's room. On the landing of the stairwell, Terry grabbed me by the collar, pulled me close, and got her tongue in my mouth. I responded. She said, "I wanna find out what the fuck it's like to wake up next to you."
I said, "Don't worry, I don't start the day with a massive gas attack."
"You get morning wood?"
"Cool. I'll put that motherfucker to good use," smiled Terry.
I shrugged. "Talk to Bekka. You're definitely appealing to my inner slut, but it's contingent on her approval, like everything else. She'll be in Roach's room."
We were greeted warmly as we stepped in. Stallion had nothing to do the next day, and was taking advantage of this by getting a decent buzz. "Hey Lenny!" he called, waving his beer.
I grabbed a Miller and walked over. "Hey Stallion, what's up?"
"So this one is gonna be big, right?"
I laughed. "Given what we're spending on it, I sure hope so. I'm in big trouble if it's not."
"Cool," said Stallion. "I hope it breaks loose. Dude, I can't lie. I wanna go to Hollywood. I figure that our movies are big enough and respected enough that having my name in the credits will help, right?"
"Oh, absolutely," I nodded.
"Cos I think I'm ready for the major leagues. I think I could be.... The next Tom Cruise!"
"Well, you're already taller, that helps."
Stallion said, "I figure all I gotta do is make a demo tape of me in alla speaking roles I've had, get signed up with an agent or agency, and then wait for the phone to start ringing. Don't worry, I'll try to not leave you guys high and dry, I won't take a powder."
I felt like telling him, Dude, all I'd have to do is go back to the same beach I found you on and find another. It should take about an hour. Bring Dawn or Terry along so we can check dick sizes.
"Willya miss me when I'm gone?" Stallion asked.
I gave the most sincere smile I could and said, "Your absence will be felt, I'm sure. I'm gonna go give Bekka a kiss, okay?"
Bekka and I gave each other a hug and a kiss. She said, "So, you're spending the night with Terry?"
Raising an eyebrow, I said, "You tell me."
"Fine with me. You'll make her happy."
"I'm talking with Bekka right now, right?" I asked. "I don't want Becky making this choice."
Bekka said, "The two of us consulted. Yes, I am Bekka, and I'm fine with it. Becky suggested that maybe the three of us should just share a bed and have some fun, but I pointed out that the vibe I get from Terry is that she would be very hostile to me propositioning her like that. I don't think Terry is homophobic, but I also think she is aggressively straight. I wouldn't want to just lie there watching you two fuck."
"You've told her your decision?"
"Yes. She's rather pleased, and very deferential to me. She kept asking, 'You sure? 'Cos I don't want you pissed at me.' I assured her that so long as she wasn't trying to convince you to leave me or any other suicidal gestures on her part, she had my blessing. One thing though, it's definitely not just physical with her, she has a serious crush. That does concern me a bit."
I said, "Maybe you, me, Jane, and her should join one of those illegal Mormon sects."
This was greeted with guffaws. "Oh shit no. Give up cigarettes and alcohol? No birth control? Living in Utah? No thank you. Besides, I'm sure the church elders would object to what Jane and I get up to sometimes. And Terry would set people's heads on fire just trying to construct one of her normal sentences."
Five foot six worth of scooter tramp landed on my back and kissed my neck. "Ready to go to my room?" asked Terry.
"Let me have more beer, then we'll go over," I said.
Terry slid off of me and said to Bekka, "Can I give you a hug?"
Bekka consented, and the two embraced. Terry said, "You are such an awesome fuckin' friend, letting me borrow your most prized possession like this. You are just too cool. I can't thank you enough."
"So long as you make him happy, you'll make me happy," said Bekka. "And no damage, or you don't get your deposit back."
An earlier thought struck me, and I excused Bekka and myself. We stepped outside. "What's up?" asked Bekka.
I proposed, "Just as a loose idea, what would you think of having Terry as your bodyguard? You know Angel still wants you to have one, and generally speaking, I think she'd be a good fit."
Bekka looked surprised at this idea. "Wow. I can see positives and negatives in that. What are your thoughts?"
"Terry considers you a friend, so she would be protective of you. I know she's tough, and given how platonically enamored of you she is, she'd deck a grizzly bear if she thought the bear had it in for you. Since she would be getting hired on as a bodyguard for the famous Becky Page, she'd have a fighting chance of receiving a concealed carry permit. Even if her app was rejected, she could start carrying a nice big hunting knife on her belt. Shit, would you fuck with a chick like her waving a big-ass blade around? And if we organized our lives a little, she wouldn't have to be full time, she wouldn't need to live with us. We'd just always go shopping on certain days, go to the mall certain days, go bowling or drinking certain days. And she's more with it than Nicky, she wouldn't see a threat in every fan that approaches you. You, and Becky, could interact with fans all you want, she'd just stand to one side, smile, and keep an eye on people. She's smart enough for the job, and would love the income. What do you think?"
Rubbing her chin, Bekka said, "It could work. I especially like the idea of her not living with us, to me that's always been overkill, I'm not George Bush. So, like, Tuesdays would be my shopping and errands day, Thursdays would be mall day, Friday or Saturday we go out to party. That could work. I'd hope she gets her concealed carry permit though, you know my phobia of knives."
"Exactly," I said. "She could even keep fluffing. I think she'd handle the job quite well, she strikes me as being utterly fearless. And you'd never see the blade, it would always be sheathed on her belt. If she had it out, it's because a major situation has arisen. Your blade phobia would be outweighed by the fact that some creep or psychotic wife is coming after you."
"Should we talk to her? The first signing for 'Bewitched II' is in three weeks, maybe call that her audition for the job. Make sure she keeps her cool in a crowd of fans, can interact with fans in a more positive way than Nicky did, and can spot trouble. She can get pointers from Boss. If we think she'd work, she'll be my bodyguard three or four days a week. And yeah, Angel will be thrilled."
"Yeah, let's tell her our idea." I stuck my head inside and called for Terry to join us.
We quickly outlined our thoughts. Terry's eyes went huge with amazement. She was even more amazed when I told her we'd want her to have a gun and C.C. permit for it.
"Are you fuckin' serious?" Terry asked. "You really want me to be Becky Page's fuckin' armed guard."
I said, "Yeah. There's no legal barriers for you owning a gun, is there?"
"No.... But I don't know fuck-all about guns."
"We can teach you. I carry my Beretta 92, Bekka carries her Colt Defender, Jane carries a tiny pocket rod also made by Beretta. We'll teach you safe handling, cleaning, and shooting."
Bekka said, "Personally, you'd want something like my Colt. You could wear it where you like, it's the right size for your hands, it handles smoother than Jane's piece, and it's not a cannon like Lenny's."
"Can I see your Colt?" asked Terry.
Reaching under her t-shirt, Bekka pulled out her Colt. She dropped out the clip and racked the slide to make sure the chamber was clear. She handed it to Terry, saying, "Rule one. Treat every gun like a loaded gun, until you yourself have checked it. Push here, and pull the slide back.... See? Empty chamber."
Terry held the gun in a serviceable grip and sighted down into the parking lot. Bekka reached over and grabbed Terry's index finger. "Rule two. Keep you finger outside the trigger guard until you're ready to fire. Hollywood is responsible for a lot of bad behavior. Rule three, keep your safety on until it's time to shoot. Slide your thumb up. Feel that? Press it down and the safety is off. Pull the hammer back, and you're ready."
A simple click as Terry dry-fired. Bekka explained, "With the clip in, the gun would push a fresh round into the chamber and be ready to be fired again. This is an eight shot. Since it's empty, you'll need to thumb back the hammer to dry fire again. Try it." Another click. "Good, you hold steady pulling the trigger, you don't jerk. When we get home, we'll have to take you shooting some evening."
Terry looked surprised. "You drive way the fuck out into the desert to shoot at night?"
"No, not at all. There's a range we frequent on Balboa Avenue that's open until ten. Nice place. Good people, decent price for practice ammo, guns and supplies for sale, even a coffee bar. We like it there, we usually go on Sundays and blaze through a couple hundred rounds of ammo. You'd be at work on Sundays, but we can go whenever."
Terry rubbed at her temples. She said, "This is one fuck of a pile of responsibility you want me to take on, you know? What would you pay me?"
I said, "$500 a day. Your hours would be different, and probably a little longer, but you wouldn't be as bored. Really, 99.9% of the time, it would amount to you getting paid to hang out with Becky Page all day or evening. Not a big deal at all. On rare occasion, you'll have to get in somebody's face. And you could still work as a fluff girl."
"Hey, if somebody's fucking with Bekka, then I'll take 'em the fuck out if I need to. Not a prob. Let me think about this, okay?"
Bekka took her Colt back, slid in the clip, re-holstered it, and the three of us went back inside. A couple beers later, Terry proposed that it was time to head across to her room, in fact she was sure of it. I gave Bekka a goodnight hug and kiss, and Terry and I headed down to Bekka's and mine room so I could grab some clean clothes for the morning. When we got in, the message light on the phone was blinking. I called the front desk to see who it was.
"Yes Mr. Schneider, a Mr. Morelli called you at 8:05 this evening. He requests that you call him, and said you have the number."
"You better believe it, thanks a lot," I said. I dialed Angel's home.
"Lenny!" Angel greeted me. "I have incredible news, so far as advertising goes. Hold onto your hat: I have approval to buy ad time on Fox Network channels, and they're debating whether we could run a national ad. Their only stipulation is that the ads run after ten at night. Fair enough. Lenny, I have my editors already assembling a fifteen second spot for 'Bewitched II.' They'll get some sexy voiceover work done on it, ba-da-bing, we're on TV! San Diego, LA, Fresno, San Francisco, Sacramento, Reno, Vegas, Eureka, they've all agreed to do business with us! Our ads will run between the end of the local news and the beginning of Arsenio Hall. Do you realize the number of homes that will see this ad?"
"A metric shitload," I replied. "I take it the other networks turned you down?"
Angel sighed. "Yeah. The reps I talked to knew exactly who Inana Productions was, and said no way, not even late night, and no local affiliates would be allowed to sell us air time. Still, we've broken a barrier here. I'll be setting up contracts with every duplication and packaging plant on the West Coast tomorrow, we'll need them all cranking out copies of the movie."
"When do the ads start running?" I asked.
"Three weeks, coinciding with the release. I'll approve the the final version of the ad on Friday and mail out the copies to the stations. They'll review it for content, but I told the editing crew to keep it very tasteful, barely hinting that it's hardcore porn. The voiceover script uses the word 'adult' a lot. Drama for adults, adult fantasy, available at adult retailers. In the next version, you think Bekka would mind coming up here and doing a voiceover as Ursula?"
"I don't see that being a problem. She's good with scripts, she could knock it out in an hour, then we'll go get some lunch."
Angel said, "What's eating at my stomach is the timing of the release and the reviews. The reviews will only be out a week before the release, I'm hoping that's enough gap time."
I assured him, "I'm sure it'll be fine. We'll be fresh in people's minds. And I have the same review anxiety I always get. Intellectually I know I made a good feature. Emotionally, I'm frightened that I'm just self-delusional and the critics will just think it's derivative crap, me picking the bones of my first real success."
"Oh shit, Lenny. That would be like saying 'Empire Strikes Back' was derivative of 'Star Wars' because they were both set in space. You had much-loved characters engaging in whole new adventures. It's longer than the first, the editors held it to 117 minutes instead of the ninety-four the original took up, but there's also a lot more going on. Nobody will insist it needs an intermission. You'll see for yourself, your promo copies should be waiting for you at the studio. Let me know if you need more."
Terry was standing in the doorway of the room, smoking a cigarette and giving me curious looks. I signaled to her that it would just be a few more moments. I said, "Listen Angel, that's fantastic. I can't wait to see the ad. I'm gonna get going now, okay?"
Angel chortled. "Bekka is getting impatient with you?"
"Uh, something like that, yeah. Ciao, Angel."
"Ciao, Lenny." (*click*)
"What the fuck was that?" asked Terry.
"That was my boss, the owner of Inana Productions," I explained. "He was sharing the news that we've hit another first, shattered another paradigm. Ours will be the first hardcore porn movies to have ads run on broadcast TV. Fox Network is allowing its affiliates to run ads for 'Bewitched II.' He's already signed with stations in California and Nevada, presumably Oregon and Washington are next. Personally, I think the further east he gets, the harder it will be to persuade affiliates to carry the ad, but still.... Amazing. Hardcore porn, advertised on TV, between the ads for McDonald's and fucking Pop-Tarts."
"This is good news, right?"
"Then come back to my room with me and we can celebrate," smiled Terry.
"I can do that," I replied.