Over the weekend we cruised around looking at apartments. On Sunday Jolene found her dream: a one bedroom cottage behind another house in Solana Beach, two blocks from the beach. The best part was the rent, which was only $400 a month. The elderly couple who lived in the main house just liked the idea of having a neighbor that close, someone they could yell to if there was an emergency. They didn't mind taking cash for the first month's rent and deposit, Jolene explaining that she was very recently separated from her husband and still needed to open a checking account of her own. At Bekka's suggestion, she told the couple that she "worked in video production" and left it at that.
Bekka and I were out of furniture to give away. Roach and Dawn had taken most everything we had, and what little was left went to Starvation Army. We went up to Oceanside and priced things out at Goodwill and an odd lots store. Less than $800 would get her everything she needed except the bed. She would buy that new and high quality, even if it meant sleeping on her couch for a check or two. We agreed that Monday, after she "officially" became an Inana girl, we'd rent a U-Haul and pick up her furniture. Bekka and Jolene would go out later and shop for all the little things, like towels and dish soap and toilet paper.
As we headed to U-Haul on Monday afternoon, I asked Jolene, "So have you given any more thought to my offer?"
"Which offer was that?" she asked.
"I want to buy your car. Or borrow and modify it. Either way, it would be Bekka's flagship car, what our pirate queen drives. She needs something badass that really stands out."
"What kind of modifications are we talking about?" asked Jolene.
Thinking, I said, "A supercharger for one. I want a blower standing out of the hood. A pop-off racing steering wheel. A big steel push bar up front. A couple KC off-road lights mounted on the roof. And in keeping with the pirate queen's problem with men, the word 'succubus' painted across the driver's side of the car. Oh, and the windshield is gone. The driver and passenger wear goggles or sunglasses. This allows the pirate queen to exit the car by climbing straight out onto the hood. From there she can jump on the roof and address her band of thieves. During pursuits she will abandon the wheel to the passenger while the car is still moving, so she can ride standing on the hood. She will also jump onto other close-by vehicles in an attempt to get closer to the action."
Bekka told Jolene, "I won't be doing this shit. A stunt double will. Someone dressed like the pirate queen with a Becky Page haircut can hood-surf at eighty miles per hour."
"I'm sure we can find you a passable female stunt double. We'll pay her extra for the haircut, if she wants. That's Angel's bailiwick, he's taking care of all stunt people."
Jolene said, "I can't believe you're making a porno movie with stunts in it."
I answered, "Well, we've made hardcore porn with magic, and special effects, and satire, and shootouts, and car chases. Having stunts feels perfectly natural, we need them to make this feature work. You said you saw 'Dangerous Desires' in your motel room, that had a car chase and two gun battles. You still need to see 'Bad Babysitter,' 'Bewitched,' 'Rocker Girls,' and 'Temporary Pleasures.' Then you'll be caught up with all the decent features Inana has released."
"You forgot 'Lust Instructor' and 'Wedding Party,'" said Bekka.
"No, I'd like to forget them, but I can't. They have my name on them. Okay, neither one really sucks, but I consider both to be learning experiences. I didn't really know what I was doing yet. You and Tawny were the only saving graces in either one. How either of you managed to pull performances out of the flat drab scripts I wrote is beyond me."
"Considering you were thrown into the deep end of movie producing and writing, left to paddle or die, you did really damn good. Besides, the budgets on both were a joke. Neither one cost over $200,000, a damn pittance."
Jolene suddenly said, "Lenny, I'll be happy to sell you the Nova. I have no attachment to it. I also have no clue as to what it's worth. Obviously the money you pay me for it will go into buying a new car...."
I felt the switches click in my head. I said, "Jolene, how would you like to have a brand new Cadillac? Would some model of Caddy satisfy you?"
"What the hell are you talking about?"
From behind me, Bekka said, "You've got one of your cunning stunts in mind, Lenny. Spill it."
"It's real simple," I told them. "Jolene is now an Inana girl, right? That means her credit is golden with Rico Carelli. We take her up to Anaheim to go car shopping. She buys directly out of Rico's stock, no factory custom work. She uses the Nova as a trade-in, and I'll loan her money if Rico wants more than the Nova is worth. Jolene gets a Cadillac, and I buy the Nova from Rico. I've got my stunt car, Jolene has something brand new to drive, and Rico makes friends with another porno queen. Everybody's happy."
"You think Rico will go for this?" asked Bekka.
"Don't see why he wouldn't. He won't be saddled with a trade-in he couldn't give away, and sells another car to Inana. I'll bring him some Ecstasy, like always."
Jolene said, "My credit is light but good. Do you think they'll accept me?"
"They'll accept you just by dint of being an Inana girl. Sue had no credit whatsoever and she got in a new Sedan De Ville."
"What, are you friends with one of the salesmen?"
I laughed and said, "No, I'm friends with the owner of the dealership. Rico Carelli of Carelli Cadillac in Anaheim is a good mate. He's a gentleman, but he still loves meeting the Inana girls, and would like to see every one of them driving one of his land yachts. He has a taste for Ecstasy, and I have an unlimited supply of the crap, so I'll bring him twenty or fifty pills whenever I go up there. So what kind of Cadillac do you want?"
Jolene stuttered and said, "Uh, I don't really know Cadillacs that well. How many kinds are there?"
"Let's see, there's the Fleetwood, the Brougham, the Coupe de Ville, the Sedan de Ville, the Seville.... I'm sure I'm missing a few. None are small, and all are luxurious. They carry you in comfort."
"I'll want to check them all out, and probably test drive the different ones, too."
Bekka said, "We'll have Rico's undivided attention. Dress like a porn star, you'll make his week."
We picked up the truck and went to various stores, loading it with furniture. Once we got everything out of the truck and into the house, Bekka suggested we drive down to Levitz. Her and I could loan Jolene the money for a decent bed, payable back when she started working four loops a week. And it was a when, not an if. We got the bed back to Jolene's new place, set it up, and raced back to the U-Haul lot before they closed. Then we went to Evelyn's for dinner, satisfied with the day.
Wednesday we got eight calls about the video camera job. Three were useless: their total experience with "professional video equipment" was fucking around with a consumer-level video cam and successfully programming a VCR. Two said no thanks when I elaborated that "adult video" meant hardcore porn. One hung up when I made it clear that he would never, ever be in front of the cameras. One simply wanted to let me know I was bound for hell for making such trash. And one was a kid about twenty who had learned video at Mesa college, but was finding no openings at local TV stations. I invited him up for a talk.
"Hey, are you looking for more than one camera operator by any chance? I've got a friend who's in the same boat as me, she could use the work. I don't know if she'd be bugged shooting porn or not, though. If she's willing, can I bring her along?"
I told him that we did in fact need two operators and to assure his friend that beyond the fact that she would be shooting people having sex, she would find nothing disturbing about being in an adult studio. They should be here by eight a.m. Thursday to be interviewed by the directors. Shooting porn was different from shooting a news show, but they would learn on the job.
I finished my script and faxed it up to Vinny in Encino for proofing and editing. Angel got a copy too. Vinny would courier down an edited and typed script, which would be copied and distributed to everyone involved.... And for this movie, that meant everyone. I needed to get a hold of the automotive anarchists I knew: Dutch, Mitch, Boss, and possibly Roach. He and Dutch, being punks, would innately understand tothe style I wanted. With his junkyard connections, Roach might be a good lead on running beaters that could be modified in the manner we wanted. Including the Nova, I was counting on a need of at least fourteen vehicles: the Nova and five more zippy war wagons the pirates used for raiding, an old moving van used to carry loot and also as the pirate queen's lair, a stake bed stocked with hardware and equipment (welding rig, compressor) used as a service truck. The lone scavenger needed a hot rod of some type, I was considering a mutated Honda CRX, lifted and with off road tires. The other vehicles would be what the victims of the pirate raiders drove, and could be fairly simple. And I'd need to talk to the DMV about what sort of registration and operation variances I could get on the damn things, so we wouldn't need to hire car carriers to get all our iron into Imperial County.
Sue and Bekka were splitting duty on costume design, and having a ball. They were using a surprising amount of re-purposed bondage gear. Bekka's costume came together first, and looked fantastic. I reminded them we needed two: one for Becky Page, and one for Becky's stunt double. The lone scavenger would be in leather pants with a lot of pockets, engineers, a leather jacket, and a Raiders jersey. The overall look for the rest of the female pirates would be skimpy, short, revealing, and graced with various weapons, knives and pistols, strapped on. The male concubines would be kept barefoot so they couldn't run away.
Thursday morning our would-be video people arrived. Both Steves were waiting for them, each spiriting one off to play Twenty Questions about their knowledge of cameras. Satisfied with their answers, the Steves escorted them into my office and gave a thumbs up: both of them (Rich and Sally) had the technical skills and knowledge needed for the job. It was up to me to figure out if they could hack making porn.
I said, "If you want the jobs, they're yours. You work three days a week, get $200 a day, and you'll be independent contractors so it's up to you to pay taxes. You're here from eight in the morning until five or so at night, with an hour or so for lunch. I guess the next question is if either of you are bothered by being around naked people."
They looked at each other and shrugged. I continued, "How about watching other people having sex, in all its glorious methods and forms? And keep in mind you'll be up close to the action."
Sally said, "We're not expected to, y'know, take part, are we?"
I chuckled. "Not at all. You don't even untie your shoelaces. The reason I ask is because we've found people are a lot more squeamish than they think they are. You are right next to the sight, sound and smells of people sucking and fucking for a few hours at a time. People get bothered. What I'd like you to do today, if you can, is sit in on a shoot this morning, so you can see exactly how a porn loop is made. I'll buy you lunch afterward and you can let me know if you can hack the job."
That sounded fine to them, so I sent them upstairs for some basic orientation. After they left, it occurred to me that I was forgetting something, and it was important.
I was forgetting two somethings. Shit. I could guarantee that neither Mickey or Dawn felt like working six day weeks.
I got on the phone to the Union and Tribune and placed a fresh help wanted ad in each paper, which I had read as follows: "Boom Mike Operator needed. Will train. Dull work, mediocre pay, but you work around naked women. Three days/wk., $200/day. Contact Inana Productions...." and the phone number.
What to do about getting a second fluffer had me stumped. At about 8:45 people began arriving, including Rita. I collared her and asked, "Tell me babe, does anyone down in your hood know what you've been doing for a living?"
She nodded and said, "A few close friends, yes."
"Any chance any of them would be interested in the work? I need a second fluffer two days a week, and am not sure where to look for one."
Rita giggled. "Oh, my friends I tell? They say is trabajo terrible, that it is bad for me, I will get sick. I say no, all these men are healthy, but they no believe. No, I can think of no one who would take my old job for any amount of money. If you need, I will do, but I prefer being in front of las cámaras."
I sighed. "Okay, thanks girl. I'll try to not need you to fluff anymore."
Venturing outside, I watched more cars roll in, including Dawn. When she came up the driveway I said, "Good morning, sunshine! Wanna go smoke a bowl in my office? I need to talk to you."
She perked right up at the offer to smoke a bowl. We went in my office and I closed the door. After we each had a few hits I cut to the chase: out of all the people she knew in Ocean Beach, would she know of any who would like to do her job two days a week?
Dawn thought. "Well, there are some scary alcoholics that would leap at the chance of a grand a week, but they're truly frightening to look at. Um.... Yeah. A biker bitch named Terry. She's a little crazy, though. She lives on SSI and dealing shit. She'd be game for making that kind of money doing what I do. Terry is a mama, so you'd always want to keep up on her blood tests."
"What does she look like?" I asked. "She doesn't have to be beautiful like you, but she can't be a total monkey-face, either."
"She's okay looking. She's a few years older than me. If she put on makeup, she'd look nice. For $500 a day, maybe she will."
"Any chance she has a phone?"
This suggestion amused Dawn. "We'll have to go down there and talk with her. I honestly have no idea how she'll react to the job offer. She may think it's awesome, or throw us out. Whatever."
I said, "Okay, let's roll down there tonight after dinner, you and me. I don't want her to think we're trying to crowd her by bringing Bekka and Roach."
"Actually, I'd like them to come with. We can go to this bar I know that'll serve Roach. And I want to show off my car and my friends to people, do a little bragging. I'll go up to her apartment and tell her I got some money, so we can hit the bar with my friends. The quickest way to her heart is through a bottle of beer."
"That works. It's been a long time since I've been drinking in a place as sketchy as Ocean Beach."
We parked on a block of two- and three-story apartment buildings, eight and twelve unit places built in the Thirties. Everybody piled out. Dawn walked into the entryway of one building and pushed a button. There was no voice over an intercom, just the buzzing of the door being unlatched. Dawn swung the door open. Before she went up, I asked her what apartment Terry was in.
"2-D," Dawn responded. "Why?"
"So if you disappear, I know where to find you. If the two of you start tweaking together, and blow us off, leave us out here, we're gonna just walk to that bar and call a cab."
"You worry about nothing. As soon as she hears 'free beer,' she'll head down. Back in a few."
The four of us lit cigarettes and waited. Miracle of miracles, Dawn returned two minutes later with a standard-issue scooter tramp with her: long dark hair covered with a bandana, Harley-Davidson t-shirt, leather vest, black jeans, and boots. Dawn was saying to her, ".... There it is right there. Can you believe it's the same car?"
The scooter tramp squinted at the Oldsmobile and said, "Holy fuckin' shit, girl. And you said it runs right now, too? How the fuck much did that set you back?"
"It was a gift from my boss here. He hated that my car was in such bad shape, so he paid for it himself. It took two weeks for everything to get done, so him and his wife loaned me one of their cars."
"What the fuck, Little Bit? How many fuckin' cars do they have?"
"Um, four," said Dawn. "Three awesome hot rods and a Cadillac. All their cars are cherry, too. Oh, and they've got three Sportsters, one stock and two custom. You'd love Bekka's, it's this gorgeous purple thing. Anyway, this is Lenny, Bekka, Roach, and Jane. Everybody, this is Terry."
Hands were shaken all around. Terry shook hands like a dude. She said, "So we're gonna go have some fuckin' beers, huh? Let's go, we can walk."
We began trudging up the block in a clump, Dawn and Terry leading the way. They gossiped about various neighborhood denizens, mostly with Terry filling Dawn in on the latest shenanigans in the area. The bar was on the next street and over one block, so we were there in record time. We dragged two tables together and sat down. A harassed-looking waitress came over and took our orders, not giving Roach or Jane a second look as they each requested Miller. I asked for Anchor Steam and got a blank look. What the hell, I wasn't driving, so I had a double Johnnie Walker. So did Bekka. Terry and Dawn got Budweiser.
Terry suddenly locked on Bekka and said, "I know you. I know you. Where the fuck do I know you from?"
"She's Becky Page," Jane said helpfully.
"Jesus fuckin' Christ, that's right! You make those really awesome fuck films. I love that one, 'Dangerous' something, the one with the awesome car chase. Was that filmed here in San Diego? It looked familiar as fuck when you were on the freeway."
Nudging Dawn, Terry said, "So Little Bit, you're working and making ducats. You're hanging around with Becky fuckin' Page. What are you doing?"
Dawn replied, "I work for Lenny. Lenny runs Inana Productions. Inana Productions is the company that releases all of Becky Page's movies."
Terry looked at me and said, "So you make porn? Fuckin' wild. So there's money to be had filming people busting nut all day? What the fuck, how does that work? And are you gonna tell me that Little Bit is a fuckin' porn star now?"
"No, I'm the fluff girl. I get paid to mostly sit around and read and occasionally suck some dick."
Bekka elaborated, "The fluffer's job is to get the guys in front of the camera hard and keep them hard. Right before a scene starts Dawn whips some skull on the guy, or guys, who'll be performing. She doesn't have anything to do unless a cut in the action lasts a while and the guy's dick starts to go soft. Then Dawn sucks the guy's dick some more, just enough to keep him hard, not enough to get him off. When the scene starts again, Dawn goes back to reading her book or magazine. It takes about two and a half hours to shoot a scene, and Dawn will have a dick in her mouth for maybe five minutes of that time."
Terry burst out with laughter. "You got one weird fuckin' job, Little Bit! How much does that shit pay?"
"I get $500 a day, and I work four days a week," said Dawn. "Before taxes, I make eight grand a month, basically. The studio is going to start shooting a lot more now, like six days a week. Terry, would you like a job? You'll get a grand a week just to suck a little dick and watch other people have sex."
"Are you serious? You want to pay me five-fuckin'-hundred bucks a day just for huffing choad? What's the catch?"
"There is no catch, except for the boredom. Fluff girls are, like, the support staff for the men on a porn set. We keep them ready to work."
Terry chugged down the rest of her beer, whacked the bottle on the table, and said, "Where the fuck do I sign? I want in on this shit."
I said, "You'll need to go to our lab for a blood test. We check everyone weekly for STDs, Hepatitis A through C, and HIV/AIDS. So long as you're healthy, we'll have you working in about a week and a half. You'd work Sundays and Mondays from 8:45 a.m.to about 5:00 p.m. There's an hour or so for lunch. We're a pretty relaxed group, but everybody does their job, does it well, and on time. Do you have wheels?"
"Hey, I ain't had a nut with a dude for fuckin' months. What the fuck do I need to be tested for? I ain't sick and it don't hurt when I pee."
"Everybody gets the tests weekly, no matter what they've been up to," said Dawn. "I was freaked out by it at first, but now it's just part of my week. It's nothing personal, and it's no big deal. Get your draw done on Friday morning, pick up your results Monday morning and turn 'em in to Lenny. As long as everything is negative, you work."
"As long as you have a reliable way of getting up into North County three days a week, you're golden," I said. Do you have a car?"
Terry looked distressed. "Wait, where the fuck do I have to get to?"
"The studios are in La Costa, and the lab is in Oceanside. You'd be working Sundays and Mondays. You'll need to get up to Oceanside on Fridays for your blood draw. Sundays you go straight to the studios. Monday morning you go into Oceanside, pick up your lab results, then head to the studios to work and turn in your results. Does that work?"
"A grand a week, for two days work? I'll fuckin' figure something out." Terry snapped her fingers. "Yeah, there's some dudes from the Mongols that live across the street from me. If I flowed 'em a fuckin' twenty for gas, they'll get me where I need to be. How close to the fuckin' freeway is your place? I can always just thumb the fuck home."
Dawn said, "I'll help you with rides as best I can. If you can get to the studio, I'll drive you home. And in a few weeks you'd have the money to get some wheels, something that runs anyway."
Brightening, Terry exclaimed, "Holy fuckin' shit, if I save up, I'll be able to get a putt in a couple months! That will fuckin' rock!"
Roach snickered into his fist and said, "I can get you on something damn nice for $1000, if you don't mind riding hot iron. The people I know even get counterfeit DMV stickers, you'll look registered."
Terry took in Roach, slightly wide-eyed. "You from Linda Vista?" she asked.
"Your old man 'Boxer' Willis?"
After a hesitation, Roach said, "Yeah."
She glared and said, "Motherfucker owes me for shit."
Roach laughed at this. "Yeah, me too. What's he into you for?"
Smirking, Roach pulled out his wallet and slid five twenties across the table to Terry. He said, "My dad is into me for three. Yeah, fronting to him is a bad idea, he won't even pay off his own son. Welp, now he's into me for $400, so far as I'm concerned. I'll just get a pickup truck, go over when he's not home, and hold all his tools for ransom at my place. I stopped being afraid of him when I was fifteen, he'll come up with my money when he realizes I've got $3,000 worth of hand and air tools of his. If he doesn't cough up, hell, I can use all that stuff. I'll take his compressor, too."
"No fuckin' love lost between you and your old man," said Terry.
"Then you won't mind that I think he's a fuckin' asshole."
"Not at all," said Roach. "He's not one of my favorite people.... Although I learned a lot from him, in a roundabout way. I learned that whatever my father did, I should do the opposite, because his schemes and plans would always go to shit. It was kinda hard, but I came to terms with the fact that my father is just some stupid-ass tweaker."
Terry looked around the table and said, "Speakin' of tweakin', you guys wanna rail up?"
This idea was met with favor, Jane abstaining, as it was a school night. Terry pulled a quarter bag out from somewhere and ripped it open, dumping the contents on the heavily-shellacked table. She crushed it up with a Bic, then scraped it into five lines with a Blockbuster card. I casually looked around while she did this. We were being ignored by the other customers. The waitress saw what was happening, rolled her eyes disapprovingly, and pointedly turned her back on us. Bekka rolled up a bill and set it on the table. We all took turns snorting up. It wasn't bad, a cranky odor, but not harsh or poisonous. We finished and I waved to the waitress for another round.
"So how many dudes do I, uh, work with every day?" asked Terry. "Fifteen? Twenty?"
Bekka laughed and said, "More like two to six. Mind you, you might be servicing three at once sometimes, they just crowd around you and you just do your best to take care of them."
"So what are these dudes like, anyway? Are they clean?"
"They're all in their twenties except Roach here, who's nineteen. Clean cut. And yeah, they're clean, hygiene is a big thing around a studio. You won't be dealing with guys who stink or taste bad. We've got eight showers in the studios, and some guys will show up to work early just so they can take another shower. We're some clean people. And obviously they've all had their blood tests."
Terry asked, "So all these guys got big dicks?"
"They're all fairly well-hung," said Bekka. "We've got two real monsters, one of whom is sitting at this table. Eddie The Jew tops out at over nine inches, and Roach here is packing eight inches, and is pretty wide on top of it. Of our four anal queens, two simply refuse to work with Roach, he's just too big. And Roach is a gentleman, he doesn't think it's fun to wreck women. But Tawny and Gayla both saw Roach when he was hard and said, 'No way, he just won't fit.' Sue and Donna will take him, though. Brave girls, they are."
With a wide smile, Terry said, "Holy fuck. Dude, I wanna see it."
Cocking an eyebrow, Roach said, "What do you want me to do, stand up and drop my pants?"
"Naw, just get it hard and whip it the fuck out where you are. I'll climb under the fuckin' table and take a look."
Roach was sitting between Dawn and Jane. Both girls pivoted towards Roach and reached for his lap. Jane shot daggers with her eyes at Dawn and said in a low voice, "I'll take care of it." Dawn caught the look and gave a shaky smile, saying, "Hey, no problem Jane, go for it."
Reaching down, Roach unzipped his pants and pulled it out. Jane continued working, saying, "I've missed this thing. You need to stop by the house more often."
"And it's missed you," said Roach. "Thank you. Okay, ready."
Terry crawled under the table, then moments later yelled, "Jesus H. fuck! Motherfucker, how do you walk with that thing?"
Roach's eyes suddenly widened slightly and he audibly drew in air. Then he slid backwards in his chair and said, "That's enough of that, I'm not at work."
"I just thought I'd give you my resumé," said Terry's voice from under the table.
The waitress began approaching. Roach was fully exposed, sitting away from the table. Jane squeaked and threw herself into Roach's lap, covering him up. Unfortunately, her sitting in his lap bent him in an unfortunate manner. His eyes shot open, he paled, and quietly said, "Oww...."
I said to Jane, "Don't you dare damage that thing. It's worth a lot of money to me."
The waitress said, "Is everything all right here?"
"Actually, we could stand another round, thank you," I averred.
"Why is that young woman under the table?"
"I, uh, think she lost a contact lens."
Red-faced, Terry placed herself back in her chair. "Dropped my Chap-Stick, see?" she said, holding up a small black plastic tube. The waitress made a "Hmph" noise and went to get our drinks.
"Jumping Jesus on a fuckin' pogo stick," said Terry. "Are all the dudes as big as him?"
Bekka said, "No. Like I said, there's one guy who's actually longer. The other guys are well built, but not like Roach. Him and Eddie The Jew are our two monster cocks."
"Fuck, I'm not sure if I'm disappointed or relieved. If Dawn can help me with transpo for the first couple weeks, you got a.... What the fuck will I be called again?"
"A fluff girl, or fluffer," I answered. "I'll give you the address of the clinic in Oceanside so you can get your blood tests. If your results are clean, you can start working in about ten days."
"Saturday morning, I'll come pick you up," Dawn told Terry. "The lab is open half days on Saturdays, you can get your blood draw, and we'll go get some breakfast. Recruit somebody to drive you around on Tuesday. You'll pick up your results and bring them to Lenny. If you're getting a biker to ride you around, I'll loan you some money to bribe him, forty bones should keep one of those bastards from the Mongols happy. Assuming your results are clear, I'm sure they will be, confirm with Lenny that you'll be working Sunday and Monday. If you can get up to the studio, I'll get you home, and again, I'll loan you money to pay for the rides."
I said, "Checks are normally issued on Tuesdays. Until your transportation problems are solved, I'll do you a favor and write out your check Monday after five, that way you don't have to worry about getting to the studios on Tuesday for your money. Don't tell anyone I'm doing that for you, though. You think these Mongols will come through for you? If we take you on, you will be an integral part of how we run things, we'll be counting on you to be at work at the right time. Will this be an issue?"
Terry sucked on her beer and said, "Don't worry, even if I have to carjack some white bread motherfucker, I'll be at work on time. The Mongols are okay dudes. I'll explain the situation to them and make it clear they can't be blowing me off. If they do, I won't be blowing them. Whoever agrees to be my fuckin' ride might want to hang around and watch, even."
I laughed in her face. "No. Not happening. Inana has closed sets, period. I'm not running a goddamn peep show. Whoever gives you a ride drops you off and leaves, they don't get to hang around. It's a damn video studio, not a social club. And anyone on a set has business there, a job to do. You ever been on a film set before?"
She looked a little cowed. "No," she said.
"Okay, rule one. When you hear 'Action!' yelled, you shut up and stay still. No noise, no movement. Directors hate it when they have to start over because somebody coughed or spoke. Rule two, if you're there, that means you have a job to do. You may have large amounts of time between the moments you are called on to do your job, but when your time comes, you'd better be ready...."
Bekka chimed in with, "Rule three, nobody gives a fuck about your personal problems. Save that shit for lunch. On an active set, you have no life outside of that sound stage. You don't eat, you don't sleep. That sound stage is the entirety of your existence. Lenny said lunch was one hour, for crew it's closer to ninety minutes, except for our makeup artist. You need it. Let's say your car is making funny noises and your boyfriend is tired of you sucking dick for a living and there was no water in your building that morning. The moment you step onto that sound stage, all that has ceased to exist. You do your job, and you do it like a pro. You got problems? It's not that we don't love you, it's that we don't care. You save that shit for lunch break. If your car got impounded, Lenny will happily loan you $500 to get it back during lunch, but won't give you a fucking penny while those cameras are running. Am I clear?"
Bekka's little speech seemed to have sunk in. Terry said, straight-faced, "I understand."
"Good. I think the time is right for a round of tequila."
We stayed in the bar for a couple more hours. The waitress told us when we requested a round of Jack with a beer back that our tab was approaching a hundred dollars. I handed her $300 and said to keep them flowing our direction. She gave a cursory nod and headed in the direction of the register, presumably to grab a counterfeit detection pen.
After a couple rounds of novelties, we settled back into our normal routines. Dawn was right, Terry was a beer junkie, preferring Budweiser over anything else available, no matter who was paying. Not wanting to get shitfaced, Bekka and I nursed our Johnnie Walkers. And Jane shifted from Miller to Wild Turkey.
Roach got up to use the can. When he came back, Jane planted herself in his lap in a very territorial manner. Dawn took this in and said, "I'm sorry, are you two, uh, connected?"
Jane sipped at her Wild Turkey and grinned. "Nope. But Ah found him first, woman. Y'all kin do what ya like, but Ah'm stakin' a claim."
Dawn muttered into her beer, "I don't put a claim on him. I don't date men. But he's my friend. We have fun together sometimes. I like sucking dick, and he likes getting his dick sucked. I'd hope this doesn't jam you up in any way."
Jane reached over and put a hand on Dawn's shoulder. She said, "Aw hail girl, if you're helpin' him sleep better at night, that's fine with me. But you don't git him to yourself. Ain't y'all fuckin'?"
"No. We're just friends. If he wanted a comfort fuck out of me, I'd be fine with that. But I get off just fine sucking his dick, and I get off that he gets off. Does that make sense?"
"Shee-it, girl, you love him," said Jane. "In fact you love him more than me. Ah think Roach is one hell of a man, and mah god he can fuck me senseless, but Ah got a boy in mah life. Roach is a sweetie, and god damn but he's a champion in bed, but Ah don't love him. You do, don't lie, girl."
After we were finished drinking, we walked back to Terry's. I offered to smoke a bowl to offset all the booze we'd consumed, which was greeted happily. We went up to Terry's apartment. The outstanding features of her place were the black light posters and the Harley frame sitting in one corner. "I've got that much, and every chance I get, I'll add more pieces," said Terry. "Guess I'll be able to add to it soon."
Dawn dropped me, Bekka, and Jane off at home. Jane said as she shuffled up the stairs, "Ah done made a mistake, gittin' this buzzed on a school night. Ah might call mahself in sick in the mornin'."
Bekka said, "Sorry girl, you get to suffer through your mistakes, just like any adult would have to. We treat you like an adult, so you're gonna deal with the results of your decisions. You wanted to spend two hours drinking Wild Turkey, which means you'll be hung over in the morning. Tough shit. Get to class and do your work. If you stay home to nurse your hangover tomorrow, we're gonna treat you like a kid. That means you lose your car keys, you lose your allowance, and there's no way in hell you and Lance get to spend time in your room with the door closed. And we aren't giving you coke to ease the pain, either. You just have to deal."
I said, "In a way, this is a positive lesson. Most people don't learn this shit until they're in college. Like a lot of things, you're learning this one early in life. When you're in college, you'll know better, which will be reflected in your grade point average. And I'll give you a small line of coke at lunch so you can get through drama and volleyball. Okay?"
Jane put her arms out and hugged us both in a swaying manner. "Mah adults kin be real motherfuckers, but Ah love 'em both. G'nite."
And that night, Dawn crawled into bed with Roach and asked him to make love to her. Not fuck her, not have sex with her, but to make love. Jane had hit the nail on the head: Dawn had it bad for Roach. She had never felt this way about any man before, no one. Roach was the most caring, selfless, generous, loving man she had ever encountered. Dawn was in love with him, and freely admitted to being terrified by the feeling. She didn't do romance, she didn't like men, her view of sex was objective and anonymous.... But here was this guy who made her feel special, like a princess, with everything he did. A suburban punk four years younger than her. Just seeing him made her smile. Roach made her heart go pitter-pat, and that had never happened before in her life. Roach made her feel. She had never felt before.
Roach gathered her into his arm and said, "My god. Dawn, you are the most beautiful woman I have ever met. I don't.... You really want to be with me? I'm a fucking male prostitute, I'm white trash, I'm not much of anything. I don't know what I can offer you."
Through her tears, Dawn said, "You already give me everything I want. You show how much you care just by being with me, accepting me. I want you, totally. Be with me. And I want you, bad."
And when they finished, Dawn curled up against Roach and peacefully slept for over six hours, longer than she'd slept at once in years. She had to get dressed and run for her car so she wouldn't be late for work.