Friday, June 24, 2016

Succubus (Part 8)

     On Monday, Angel caught me on the phone just before I stepped out for lunch.  "Things moving along?" he asked.
     "Moving well," I replied.  "The government of Imperial County is being very obliging of some punk that wants to use them as a backdrop for a fuck flick."
     "Excellent, very good," he said.  There was a pause and a chuckle, then he said, "Lenny, I would like you and Bekka to come up to the trattoria for dinner tonight.  This will be a business dinner, so I would prefer if Jane does not join you."

     Angel, my capo, did not invite people to dinner at the Italian restaurant he owned in Century City for idle chat.  Something was up.  I came right out and asked him.
     Another chuckle.  "Oh....  Business.  Seeing how we can make your new feature a success.  May I count on your presence?"
     That last question was code for, "You will be there, or suffer the consequences."  I said yes, and asked what time.
     "Be here at seven o'clock.  I want to show you something that will absolutely astound you.  Ciao." (*click*)
     I said ciao into a dead phone and hung up, then called Bekka at home.  She was piecing together costumes for the band of pirates.  The costumes would be a combination/patchwork of black leather and see-through material.  She had created a couple of what passed for skirts, using Jane as a mannequin.  The skirts were utility belts with delusions of grandeur.  The one uniform thing about the pirates we had decided upon was a hunting knife strapped to the right calf, all the female pirates would wear one.  There would be no commonality in footwear.  Some girls would be in engineers, some in Doc Martens, some in Chuck Taylors, some in "jungle jumper" surplus combat boots.
     "So what does Angel want?" asked Bekka.
     "Dunno," I said.  "But he asked if he could count on our presence, which is his way of saying it's mandatory, both of us.  I don't know why he phrases it as a question.  It's something to do with what I'm working on right now, I know that.  And Jane is not invited."
     "Hmm....  I hope he's not pulling the plug on our budget."
     "Bad news like that?  He'd tell me over the phone, not drag it out.  No, he's got something on his mind, and he's being damn cagey about it."
     Bekka said, "Remind me of the budget we have."
     "Somewhere between four and six million," I informed her.  "The deal Angel gave to me was we had a ceiling of six million.  Fine, I told him I expected to spend about four million.  He said that Steve and I would split every dollar we came in under that six million budget, which means if I make this feature for four mil, I get a free million dollars.  I figured I'd spend some of that on bonuses for my performers, and encourage Steve to do the same with his crew.  I located a helicopter service in El Centro that will charge $200 per hour of flight time, $65 an hour standby.  I think they normally do crop dusting.  No matter, I'll get my aerial shots, and for less money than I expected."
     "How about the RVs?" Bekka asked.  We'd decided we needed three RVs to act as mobile dressing rooms, lounges, a makeup studio, etc. for performers and crew, a place to retreat from the heat, and also as a way of transporting everyone.  I would have to rent a charter coach for the days the stunt drivers were there, getting them between their motel and the shoot locations.  La Mesa RV had the best overall rate so far --- I'd told them I wanted the biggest Class C motor homes they had --- at $235 a week each, plus twelve cents a mile.  I told them these things would be getting parked in the desert with the air conditioners on all day, so they'd need to service whatever they gave me beforehand.  Fine with them, they were just happy we weren't taking them into Mexico.  I explained all this to Bekka, who was relieved.
     She said, "You're going to have a total of, what, eighteen performers on some days?  Plus crew?  You got a lot of people to keep cool."
     "I know," I said.  "I'm buying a couple of those giant catering coolers to load up with ice and bottles of water and soda.  Every night after dinner I'll just go to the nearest Safeway or whatever and reload them.  I'll reload food, too.  Then me and Steve can review the day's rushes, make sure we got what we need.  Oh, and doing a security check on our site between when we leave and when the rent-a-cop shows up."
     "Rent-a-cop?" queried Bekka.
     "Oh yeah.  I'm hiring an armed guard to be out there from eight at night until six in the morning.  I figure eight is when the last of the crew will be headed out, including me.  If it's before eight, I'll hang around until the rent-a-cop gets there and drive one of the stunt vehicles back to the motel.  But no way am I leaving all those vehicles and all that equipment unattended.  It's worth the fourteen an hour it'll cost.  Hell, for that money I'm getting a guy in a uniform, with a gun, and an official vehicle.  Imperial County really is one broke-ass place.  When we change locations I'll meet him at the motel and ride out with him so he knows where to go.
     "So when do you rest, anyway?"
     I giggled into the phone.  "I don't, baby.  Naw, I'll be able to relax during the day while Steve is shooting.  I can slouch down in an RV and take it easy."
     "Bullshit," came Bekka's terse reply.  "Everyone, including Steve, will want your input and guidance about a thousand times an hour.  Plus I know you, you won't be able to resist watching a lot of the shooting.  You'll probably want to go up in that damn helicopter.  No, I'm helping you out, I'm helping you run errands at night."
     "Are you kidding?  You're the star of this flick, you've got to be rested so you look your best.  Remember, Jeanette and Pill have a lot of makeup to apply in the morning, and to a lot of people, plus costumes to put on.  Your day starts early if we're gonna start shooting at nine or so.  No, I'll be fine.  I'll have dope, I'll keep going."
     "You are not running on speed for three weeks straight.  How many hours of sleep were you planning on getting a night, pally?"
     "Um, three or four....  Hey, Dawn claims to have lived on less than that for years."
     Bekka audibly sighed down the line.  "Yeah, and not only is Dawn hopelessly addicted to meth, she's also as crazy as a shithouse rat, looney as a mule on a Ferris wheel.  You don't get to turn into a male version of Dawn."
     "I told you," I pleaded.  "I'll be able to rest during the day.  You know I'm superfluous on a live set.  Yeah, this will be a new experience for everyone, but these are smart people.  They won't need to come crying to me for answers every three minutes."
     "But they know you have a vision of how things should look, and will want to consult you to make sure you're not disappointed.  Those damn motor homes are going to be too noisy and busy for you to rest anyway.  Delegate, and get some damn rest at night."
     "Bekka, my lovely bride, at the moment I'm so hungry my stomach feels like there's a hedgehog living in it.  I'll be home around four, and we can head up to LA.  Give some money to Jane and tell her to take Lance out for dinner.  Just tell her it's a business meeting, don't mention we're headed to the trattoria, she'll be too disappointed.  We can continue beating this subject to death on the drive up, okay?"
     "Fine," Bekka grumbled.
     And we did continue discussing things on the way up to the trattoria.  Bekka was insistent that her husband risked burning himself out in a big way through lack of sleep and drugs.  Her husband insisted he would be fine, everyone has to suffer for their art, and it was only for three weeks.  Around and around we went, with no end in sight.
     We arrived at the trattoria, turning the Falcon in to the valets, to their undying joy.  We stepped into the restaurant nearly spot on seven.  Angel was hanging around in the foyer, waiting for us.  He gave me an Italian man-hug and a real one to Bekka, then asked, "So how's the Fellini of porn tonight?"
     Bekka said, "Cazzo testardo.  He thinks he can get away with three hours sleep a night, and just run on drugs twenty-one hours a day."  She went on to explain the situation I was in.
     Angel said, "That's easy.  Just hire a personal assistant for the duration of production.  All those errands, that running around, can be done by anybody.  Any damn fool can load a cooler and complete a shopping list, not to mention driving around in the desert with rent-a-cops.  A personal assistant will do everything but go to the can for you."
     I said, "Okay, great.  Where do I find one?"
     "I don't know if San Diego would have agencies or not.  Do you have any unemployed friends who don't have anything better to do for a few weeks?  Lay a couple grand a week on 'em, make it clear that they are to be at your beck and call, and put them in gear."
     "What about our new fluffer, Terry?" suggested Bekka.
     "Are you insane?" I responded.
     "What's wrong with Terry?"
     "She'll scare the mortal shit out of people."
     "Good," Bekka said.  "I knew she'd be useful."
     I said, "Darling, you're confusing me."
     "Look, Terry is gold standard biker bitch.  She is loud, crass, crude, foul-mouthed, lewd, a tweaker, possibly alcoholic, and ill-mannered.  She could be your perfect foil.  Whenever you want to be left alone, all you need to do is make it clear that to get to you, people have to go through Terry first.  She would be your own personal human pit bull.  And Terry's not stupid, she could run all the errands you need, we'd just loan her the Plymouth to drive.  Two grand a week?  I'd have to chloroform her to prevent her from sucking your dick."
     "Lemme think about it," I said.  "How are you, Angel?"
     Angel merely gave another of his odd giggles and said, "Come this way, I have someone I want you to meet."  We followed him out to the patio, towards a table....
     .... And stopped short when we there.  Bekka was already sitting there, sipping wine.  Or rather, not quite Bekka.  This version had longish hair with a mild wave to it, and had on just a bit of makeup, some mascara and lip gloss.  But it was frightening.  Angel had found Bekka's doppelganger.
     Angel said, "Bekka, Lenny, this is Reina Krylos.  Reina, this is Lenny and Bekka Schneider.."
     Reina stood and shook our hands.  Her and Bekka were giving each other wary looks.
     We sat.  "You are Becky Page, then," said Reina.  "People have told me I look like you, and I guess they're not far off the mark."
     Bekka said, "Yes....  Yes, it is a bit uncanny.  Tell me, are you Sicilian?"
     "No, Greek.  Second generation immigrant, my parents came over after the war."
     "Well, we're definitely a couple of Mediterranean girls, no doubt about that."
     "Reina is a stunt woman," explained Angel.  She performs and coordinates stunts, and is also a driver.  I have asked her, and she is amenable to having her hair cut like yours, Bekka.  As you may have noticed, she is slightly taller than you, but not by much, an inch or so."
     "How much has Angel told you about our production?" I asked.
     "What do you mean?" responded Reina.
     "You would be the stunt double for a porn star.  This is a hardcore porn film we're making.  A very ambitious one, but it's still a dirty picture when it comes down to it.  Will that bother you?  You'll always have your clothes on, you're not expected to perform like that."
     "Work is work.  Your films are highly thought of in Hollywood.  The studios don't understand how you do what you do, especially assuming you have the horribly low budgets that most adult films have.  No, I would find no shame in working on a Becky Page movie.  Angel said you need drivers.  Aren't you working with the same agency you used for the chase scene in 'Dangerous Desires?'  That was well done.  A friend of mine recommended I see it, he'd never seen either a chase or gun battle in porn before.  Was there a problem with the agency?"
     I laughed and put my hand over my face.  "Oh boy.  You're probably not going to like hearing this, but uh, there was no agency.  We did our own driving.  That was me behind the wheel of the Grand Am, and Bekka was driving the big black Plymouth.  That's her car, by the way.  But, well, we plotted out how we wanted the chase to go, gave it a couple test runs in our own cars late at night, then just went out and did it.  All the footage on the freeway was shot by a cameraman sitting in the bed of a pickup truck.  Me, Bekka, and our friend Gary just tore through traffic in the middle of the day, getting the footage we wanted."
     Reina was aghast.  "Are you saying you went out and shot a chase on a live freeway, no traffic breaks?  All those other vehicles were just....  Random citizens, not knowing what was going on?  Why did the CHP even allow this to happen?"
     "They didn't.  We didn't tell them we were doing it.  To be blunt, I doubt they would have given the permits or whatever to some punk making a fuck flick, so shooting it legally never would have happened to begin with."
     She stared at me briefly, then said, "You're insane.  You can't guerilla film high speed chases on urban freeways, that's insanity.  What speeds were you hitting?  I was thinking ninety-five."
     I shrugged.  "Ninety.  Bekka and I had rehearsed it late night a couple of times.  Then me, Bekka, Gary, whose pickup truck it was, the cameraman, and the director piled in the Plymouth and plotted things out, saying, 'Okay, when we reach this spot, everyone should be moving ninety.  We hold that speed until we reach such-and-such exit, then we back off to eighty, Gary jumps in the number three lane, Bekka and I close the gap, and Steve shoots from a different angle.  Then we go back and do it again, with the relative positions of the action vehicles and the pickup changed, so we shoot at different angles.'  It was a calculated risk."
     Reina said angrily, "No, it's a calculated risk when you're on a stretch of road surrounded by other professionals, people who know what's going on.  I don't care that you 'rehearsed' it, what you did was reckless insanity.  Why didn't you work with the CHP?  Why didn't you hire professionals?  Was it about the money?"
     "Well, to take those in order, first off, you'll hate my answer about why I didn't go to the CHP."
     "Amuse me," Reina said with acid in her voice.
     "To be frank, I looked into getting the support of the Highway Patrol, was appalled at all the hassle and paperwork involved, and decided I just didn't feel like bothering.  It was anarchist logic on my part, I could honestly see no positive result in having a government agency involved with what I wanted to accomplish."
     "I see.  You truly are the anarchist you appear to be.  And your decision to make a group suicide run on an active freeway with no professionals involved, was it poverty that made this decision?"
     I said, "At the time, money wasn't part of my decision-making process.  I just didn't think about the fact that in a high speed freeway chase scene, all those dozens of other vehicles are being driven by pros, they aren't just random dick-heads.  The idea of having those professionals on the road with me never struck me.  In retrospect, no, I didn't have the money for forty drivers and vehicles.  And it didn't matter anyway, since I didn't have the permission of the fucking CHP to do what I was doing anyway.
     "If it's any assurance to you, things are different this time around.  We've got some money to work with, and expect to blow plenty of it on drivers and stunts.  The terrain will be different, we're going to be on empty desert highway, two lane blacktop.  And we will have the support of the government of Imperial County, not to mention the assistance of the sheriffs.  They'll be blocking roads and controlling traffic, no civilians around at all.  Given the scope of what I'm trying to accomplish --- a sex-filled version of  'Road Warrior' --- there's no way I could engage in guerilla film-making with this one.  This is a legitimate exercise."
     "I see," said Reina.  "Where are your vehicles coming from?"
     "Are you familiar with the story line?" I asked.
     "Yes, I read your script over the weekend.  To be frank, if I wasn't so impressed with the script, I'd have left by now.  I do not wish to work with an anarchist or a madman."
     "You won't be.  Our cars will all be legal rolling stock, or at least start out that way.  They are being modified and tuned and inspected by two builders in San Diego, people who will both provide the aesthetics I want and safely operable vehicles.  Those cars are still being purchased.
     "As the stunt double for the pirate queen, I already have your vehicle chosen.  It's a 1972 Chevy Nova, 350 motor, slush-box tranny, and ostensibly set up for street racing.  It's a white trash staff car, with the ass end lifted and big fat tires in the rear.  When we're done with it, it's going to have a blower sticking out of the hood, a pipe-metal push bar on the nose, and no windshield.  As the pirate queen, you like to climb out on the hood while the vehicle is moving so you can stand there and get a better view of things."
     Reina asked, "And you're still rounding up hot rods to work with?"
     "Somewhat the opposite," I said.  My builders are purchasing cars like Hondas and Toyotas, cars that can be purchased used for $2500 to $3000.  These will be turned into the pirate raider vehicles.  Think about it: it's a resource-scarce dystopia they live in.  It only makes sense to have raid vehicles that are light, zippy, and efficient on fuel.  The pirate queen's car is ostentatious, but so is she.  The raid vehicles will also have push bars, and will be jacked up, with off-road tires.  The exhaust runs directly from the motors, out the front fenders.  They will be banged up and patched with random sheet metal.  And obscene comments will be painted on them, descriptors like 'Orgasm Addict' or 'Dick Junkie.'  Don't worry about the modifications, the basic running ability of these cars will not be affected.  They'll only look scary.  And I've already told them to have the speedometers calibrated.  I know having an accurate speed is important when plotting stunts."
     "Good.  You've put a lot of thought into what you're doing.  You hold writing and producing credits in your movies.  I know a producer has to keep track of a thousand details during production, so you must have both intelligence and organizational skills.  But neither one is a guarantee of your sanity.  I'll ask you again, are you insane?  You sometimes act it."
     Bekka said in her syrupy voice, "Don't call my husband insane....  Sweetie."
     Reina said, "I wonder about the both of you.  You ran a high speed chase scene through amateur drivers who didn't know what was going on, in the middle of the day, while thumbing your nose at the CHP.  To me, that's just crazy."
     "If it's any comfort, I doubt I'd ever try that again," I responded.  "Just from a legal standpoint, it was risky.  No, I figure I got away with it once, no sense in pushing my luck.  If I find myself in the same situation, I'll just amend the script and skip the chase completely."
     Silent all this time, Angel said, "Lenny is one of the most intelligent men I have ever met.  He is sharp, and he is creative.  He is also not one to make rash decisions.  As he said, it was planned and rehearsed.  And you yourself said you were impressed with the results."
    "But....  Well...." Reina stuttered.  "Yes, as film-making goes, it was a wonderful job.  Lenny and his director have fantastic cinematic skills.  But the actual act was crazy.  All it would have taken was one dipshit who'd drank his lunch, or one stupid woman putting on mascara in the rear view, or one asshole doing a crossword folded over the steering wheel....  Or all three together at the same time.  I avoid driving when I can, if I could, I'd take the bus everywhere."
     Bekka said, "You said you're a stunt driver, but it sounds like driving scares the shit out of you."
     "Hey, when I'm on a closed course with other professionals, I love it.  I have a blast.  It's driving around the general public that scares me.  People's brains fall out as soon as they get behind the wheel....  Or worse.  Some people act like their only reason for driving is to exact revenge on a world that did them wrong.  Other people treat it as such a mundane activity there's no reason why they should be bothered to pay any attention to what they're doing.  You've got the hot rod nuts...."
     Bekka and I both started laughing at this.  I looked over and even Angel was snickering into his fist.
     "What's so funny?" asked Reina.
     Angel answered for us.  "Well, Lenny and Bekka like their cars good and fast.  They own four, and three are out-and-out hot rods."
     "It's true," I said.  "You'll have to see what we drove tonight.  It's a '64 Ford Falcon with a four-barrel Holley and a supercharger.  We also have that black Plymouth Sport Fury, the one from 'Dangerous Desires,' that's got a 440 motor with the six-pack carbs.  Then there's the car we bought for our little girl Jane.  She needed something to get to high school in, and I found her a beautiful '71 Cutlass 442.  It'll leave black streaks for half a block.  And there's my Cadillac Fleetwood, brand new.  I'm friends with the dealership owner, and he had his shop modify it for me, I got the Police Interceptor package on the motor, dual exhaust, and anti-sway bars.  I guess everyone in our household likes the idea of being able to outrun anything that might come after us, or something."
     Reina said, "So you weren't scared while driving through traffic at ninety."
     "I was too busy paying attention to what I was doing to be scared.  I was keeping my eyes peeled for your friends the drunk, and the woman with the makeup, and the puzzle solver.  I was also watching for the mother changing her child's diaper on the seat next to her, and the klutz who just dropped a lit cigarette in his own lap, and of course the guy who's just found out his wife is cheating on him, and her lover drives a car just like mine.
     "I assume reckless incompetence in everyone on the road, and out-and-out malice from a good percentage of those.  That's why I keep everything I drive in top shape, and wear my seat belt everywhere I drive, including the goddamn car wash.  At the same time, I refuse to let the enjoyment I take out of driving be spoiled just because everyone else is a damn fool.  And a fast-moving target is harder to hit."
     "Perhaps you are not insane.  You just have a different perspective from me."  Reina sighed.  "Would you excuse me?  I would like to talk to Mr. Morelli outside for a moment.  Sir, would you join me?"
     The two stepped off the patio and towards the door.  A waiter approached, the first one since we'd arrived.  This must have been at Angel's insistence, as the service at the trattoria was spectacular.  Maybe Angel had told our waiter he didn't want any interruptions.  Now, he asked if he could get us anything to drink.  Bekka got a double Johnnie Walker over ice.  I hesitated and asked for a Coke.  Bekka gave me a strange look.
     I said, "Well, I've been making a bad impression.  No sense in her continuing to think I'm reckless.  If either of them ask, it's just my turn to be the designated driver."
     "Dammit, I need the drink," said Bekka.  "Not only has this been a stressful talk, and I'll slap her if she says you're crazy again, but it's uncomfortable meeting one's double.  My hair was just like hers when I was in high school."
     "You know, in all this time I've never asked.  When and how did you invent your haircut?"
     "My freshman year of college.  I discovered who Bettie Page was, which was a bit of a revelation: you didn't have to be blonde to be a sex bomb.  At first I just had the bangs, like Bettie Page, but I decided I also wanted a punky, rebel girl feel too, so I had the back chopped off and was shaved all the way up my neck.  It's comfortable, it requires minimal effort, and up until relatively recently it was unique.  Now, not so much.  Sometimes I think about changing it, but then I realize whatever else I did with my hair would be seized upon and copied too.  And this is actually called a Becky Page cut.  Hooray, I have something named after me, and it's not something unpleasant."
     "What would people be naming after you that was unpleasant?" I asked.
     "I dunno," said Bekka.  "A new venereal disease that only gets passed around on the seats in viewing booths of porn shops.  Becky Page Syndrome.  Symptoms are genital bleeding, orange-colored testicles, half second duration of orgasm, and your dick makes a whistling noise when you pee.  Or maybe Becky Page syndrome would just be the chafing you suffer from masturbating too often and too vigorously.  You complain to close friends that you're feeling all Paged out."
     "Nicky would say Becky Page syndrome is just like a Jesus complex, only with more girl-on-girl bisexual activity."
     Bekka snapped her fingers and said, "Bingo.  That's what Becky Page Syndrome is."
     "What is?" I asked.
     She said, "A sudden and irresistible urge in young women to sleep with their friends, where no interest in lesbian activity had existed before.  Symptoms include the purchase of Michelle Shocked records, tit-staring, orgasms lasting up to five minutes, and a vague sense of moral superiority over everyone you meet.  There is no cure, but the disease goes away on its own somewhere between one's junior year in college and shacking up with your first dude.  The only lasting effect is the slightly guilty realization that your best friend in high school made you come harder than any guy ever has, or probably ever will."
     Reina and Angel returned.  Reina gave a small smile and said, "If you will have me, I will be Becky Page's stunt double and the stunt coordinator for this movie.  Becky, who does your hair?  I want my cut to be as authentic as possible."
     Bekka grinned and said, "Please, call me Bekka.  I get my hair cut by a nice black lady named Winnie down in Encinitas.  It costs me twenty dollars, and you can feel free to walk in."
     Reina looked confused.  "Don't you have a stylist?"
     "I do.  Winnie.  She cuts my hair exactly how I want it.  I showed her a picture of Bettie Page, and she got my bangs perfect the first try.  Then I had her cut off all the length from the back and sides and shave my neck.  She's been giving me the same cut monthly for ten years now."
     I said, "We were just discussing how Bekka has a haircut named after her."
     "I'm confused now," said Reina.  "Is your name Bekka or Becky?"
     "My fault, I'm afraid," said Angel.  "I've been using both names, depending on context."
     Bekka said, "My real name is Bekka Schneider.  Bekka is the loving wife of Lenny Schneider, and a nice girl from North County San Diego.  Becky Page is my stage name.  Becky is the one who sucks and fucks in front of cameras, and is the wet dream du jour for many people."
     We were presented with menus at the same moment Bekka and I finished our respective drinks.  We both asked for the same again, Angel requesting scotch and soda, Reina asking for Pellegrino water.
     "Just drinking Cokes tonight, Lenny?" asked Angel.  "I'm surprised."
     "I'm driving," I explained.
     "Speaking of coke, what are your fatvorite drugs, Reina?" queried Bekka.  I gave her a closer look and realized Becky, her alter ego, was struggling to control Bekka.
     Angel leaned back in his chair and made a slitting motion against his throat.  Reina said, "I don't have any.  I rarely use anything.  I did a line of cocaine at a party a couple years ago, and that's tided me over since."  In a pointed voice she continued, "And what are yours, dear?"
     Bekka/Becky gave a wide smile and said, "Methamphetamine, Ecstasy, marijuana, cocaine, Johnnie Walker, Tecaté beer, nitrous oxide, Vicodin, and psilocybin mushrooms.  Not all at once, though.  That might make me a little confused."
     "Yes, that might.  Do you inflict yourself in these ways very often?"
     "No, absolutely not.  Why, I can't remember the last time I took mushrooms.  No really, I can't remember, it's all a colorful blur.  Drugs are unimportant to me, they're useful when I get tired of the pain of being human.  I don't search them out, they do seem to come to hand when they're most useful, though."
     I thought to myself, Of course she doesn't need to search for drugs.  She knows exactly where they are in the house, no searching involved.
     Reina said, "How about you, Lenny?"
     "Um, what she said," I replied.  "Nothing runs my life, I don't have the time."  (Angel rolled his eyes at this.)
     To Bekka/Becky, Reina said, "Are you going to be high on anything the next time we meet?"
     "Did you want me to be?" asked Bekka/Becky.
     "I'd prefer it if you weren't.  I'm hoping for a break from that sort of Hollywood bullshit."
     "You have no worries.  Odds are we'll be working the next time we see each other, and I don't work high."  (This time Angel really did roll his eyes.)  "No, you'll see me have a beer with dinner, and that will be it."
     Reina considered Bekka/Becky.  She said, "I'd always heard porn stars were party animals.  You may be confirming that rumor, but I can't get over the feeling you're yanking my chain."
     "Oh, I am," answered Bekka/Becky.  "But I tease out of affection.  Ask Lenny."
     "It's true," I said.  "If she sees me naked, she likes to point at my crotch and laugh."
     We ordered dinner and talked in a general way about previous Inana features, along with some of our past jobs.  At nineteen, in the hopes of having a career, Reina had taken a nine month EMT course and become an ambulance driver.  It was at this job she learned two things: automobiles are horribly efficient at killing people, and she was an adrenaline junkie.  She shifted from driving an ambulance to working as a med tech for Columbia studios, basically being the movie set version of a school nurse.  Naturally, this got her in contact with stunt men, who always needed something patched or wrapped.  She asked, and they taught her how to take a fall.  She became sort of a non-sexual groupie with the stunt men, learning the terms and the trade.  Then one day a unit director at Columbia needed a dark-haired woman to take a second story plunge into a decorative fountain.  Overhearing the unit director's frustrations, she volunteered.  The unit director threw caution to the wind, stuffed Reina into a costume, called for a second med tech to come out, and had an abusive husband throw a screaming Reina over a balcony.  Splash.  Perfect.  The second "Cut!" was called, the collected stunt men let out a loud cheer for that crazy medical broad.  She signed with an agency, studied driving techniques, and the rest is history.
     She was pretty much self-taught as a stunt driver.  She would go up to the giant lot at Dodgers Stadium in the early mornings and practice her drifts and reverse 180s in her own car.  She was comforted to learn that it wasn't just her: other stunt drivers absolutely hated driving home after work, because they'd be surrounded by "citizens," non-professional drivers.  She already knew that from driving the ambulance.  She got in trouble for yelling "Wake up, asshole!" over the P.A. at a driver in front of a school.  And she'd also be tailgated.  "People are grunting along, and here I come flying by with my gumballs and siren on, so they'd get behind me, using me to cut through traffic and run red lights.  I once checked my mirrors and realized I was pulling a train of four cars behind me at sixty on a surface street.  Idiots."
     Reina was amazed to learn Bekka had nine years under her belt as a porn star.  "So, this is what you've done your entire adult life?" Reina asked.
     "Since just after I turned twenty," said Bekka/Becky.  "A few lifetimes in this business.  It helps a lot that all this time, I've been with Inana.  At other studios, you get money.  You don't get treated well.  Inana has always treated their performers with respect.  I've always been able to handle the work for some reason, and you gotta admit, it's nice to live very comfortably while only working sixteen hour weeks.  And now I'm not just a star in porn, but in the real world, too.  That still blows me away.  I suck and fuck for a living, why am I signing autographs for high school girls?"
     We finished eating and went out to the valet kiosk for our cars.  The Falcon showed up first.  Reina smirked and rolled her eyes when she saw it.  To her, it was like someone handing a loaded gun to a monkey: somebody was going to get hurt, and blaming the monkey doesn't help.
     "Lenny, don't you dare burn rubber in my driveway!" yelled Angel as Bekka and I got in.  I pulled the knob for the supercharger, letting it spool up, and nudged the Falcon into the street.  Once I was in the lane I laid into the gas and popped the clutch.  The tires shrieked down Century Park West.  I looked in the rear view for Angel, to see what gestures he was making at me.  All I could see in the rear view was smoke.
     "Well, you were out of the driveway," said Bekka/Becky.

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