Friday, August 5, 2016

Angels (Part 10)

     Three weeks later, the reviews for "Succubus" came out.

     Adult Video News:  "Inana, stop it already!  We give!  Hardcore porn is not supposed to be this much fun all at once!
     "Inana Productions has done it, yet again, with 'Succubus.'  A Mad Max-style road drama, this feature follows Becky Page as the pirate queen of a band of insane female raiders preying on post-apocalypse scavengers, stealing goods, fuel....  And men.  Page's pirate queen, Lila, has a problem: sex with her causes men to lose their minds.  She finally meets her match in the Lone Scavenger (played by young newcomer 'Roach').  Will love blossom?  Or will the Lone Scavenger escape?  Either way, the chase is on.
     "Our sources tell us creative team Steve Stillman (director) and Lenny Schneider (producer/writer) spent a month in the desert of Imperial County getting this one right.  No expense was spared, we don't want to know what the budget was.  No matter, it was worth it.  Cinematically, 'Succubus' is stunning.  As porn, it is breathtaking.  Then again, we'd expect nothing less from these two.
     "We hate hinting at the ending, but we must.  The last six minutes of this feature prove that you can have hardcore sex portraying genuine love.  This final scene proves what a fantastic performer Becky Page really is, her and the Lone Scavenger expressing their love for each other --- in a very direct way --- and having it work on screen.  You will feel a lump in both your pants and your throat.  It's that beautiful.  And the scenery is incredible.
     "We should be tired of saying it, but we're not: this is another classic from Inana Productions.  Reserve your copy now, you'll regret it if you don't.  This is another winner."
     Hustler:  "Once again, we're kissing the ass of Inana Productions.  We can't help it, they've made another monster of a movie.  We'll stop when they stop.
     "'Succubus' is a lavish, 'Road Warrior'-like tale about Lila the Pirate Queen (who else but Becky Page?) and her band of loony female marauders, out terrorizing a post-apocalyptic world.  The sexy road pirates steal what they want, including men.  The men are given the choice of backbreaking menial labor, or sex.  (You can probably guess at the normal choice.)  But life is not all roses for Lila: sex with her is so intense it drives men insane after one night, leaving Page's poor pussy un-fucked.
     "The pirate band captures the Lone Scavenger, played by punk rock youngster 'Roach.'  After a wild night with Lila, his brains remain intact.  Lila tells him he will live in luxury, if he stays with her.  He has other ideas and escapes, sending the Pirate Queen and her band tearing across the desert to capture him again.
     "Fantastic cinematography and great action set this one apart from every other fuck flick ever made.  The band of road pirates are played as hilariously nutso by all your favorite Inana girls, including three new faces: punky 'Pill,' sultry Missy Liscio, and youngster 'Feather,' who proves good things come in small packages.  Rumor has it that Feather was barely eighteen when she took on her role as 'Itsy,' Lila's pet.  With her anaconda-like abilities, you'll want to keep your eyes open for Feather.  As always, the performances are flawless.  Even the customized vehicles deserve a hand.
     "Like usual, director Steve Stillman's fuck scenes are stellar, top notch.  If you have a favorite Inana girl, you won't be disappointed, all of them take a good turn here.  As the star, Page has three scenes, the final one being one of the hottest things we've ever seen in our lives....  And since we're talking about Becky Page here, that's saying something.  And there is an ersatz girl-on-girl orgy, shot on the bank of a river, which is just plain fun.
     "Given how ambitious this project was, we'd be willing to bet the budget for 'Succubus' was far higher than any other adult feature ever made.  It was worth it.  'Succubus' is gold, all the way through.  Reserve a copy now, you'll be happy you did."
     Club:  "Inana Productions, when will you leave us alone?  No single studio should be allowed to deliver this much enjoyment.  'Succubus,' their newest venture, is yet again a bold step for adult film-making, combining action, humor, and Inana's patented raw sex.  And once again, it works wonderfully.
     "It's a post-Armageddon dystopia, where the mobile survive best and longest.  Such a world has predators, in the form of Lila the Pirate Queen (Becky Page) and her band of woman road-pirates.  They waylay the apocalypse survivors, stealing what they please.  This includes men, who can choose between doing grinding chores or sexually pleasing the pirates.  After a few days they are set free.
     "The Pirate Queen cannot take part in the fun very often, not without risking a mutiny.  Sex with her causes insanity, turning men into gibbering idiots....  She is a succubus, she destroys men with sex.  Then one day, the pirates come across the Lone Scavenger, a mohawked young survivor in a hot rod Mustang.  They chase and capture him, giving him as a prize to Lila.  Only this time, Lila does not break her new toy.  She offers him wealth and luxury in exchange for his freedom.  He chooses to escape, and the chase is on.
     "Obvious parallels can be drawn between 'Succubus' and 'Road Warrior.'  Fine with us.  We're not used to seeing this quality of film-making in porn, ever.  Every detail was looked after, from locations to costumes to the pirate vehicles.  For God's sake, this movie has aerial shots!  And the performances are classic, with the members of the pirate band being played out with humorous lunacy.  Watch for VERY young newcomer 'Feather' as Itsy, the Pirate Queen's sidekick (and sex toy).
     "The sex is all we've come to expect from Inana: frequent, energetic, lovingly filmed, and involving.  Steve Stillman surely suffered for his art, shooting all that awesome sucking and fucking under the hot desert sun.  The results are worth it, this movie is visually stunning and hot, hot, hot.
     "Producer Lenny Schneider must again be congratulated on his vision and willingness to take chances.  His gambles keep paying off with fantastically entertaining hardcore porn.  This is another keeper, get your copy ASAP."
     People:  "This is new territory for us.  Never before has this magazine reviewed an adult, XXX film.  However, given that Becky Page is the lead, and the ambitious nature of the project, we felt we should put in our opinion.
     'Succubus' is a 'Road Warrior'-esque action movie, following the exploits of road pirate queen Lila (Page) and her crew of zany raiders.  Page is the succubus in the title: she destroys the minds of men when she has sex with them, turning them into shambling wrecks.  Her pirate crew kidnap men for their own use.  Page finally meets her match in a young scavenger: he survives a night with her with his faculties intact.  However, he doesn't want to be the prize of a warrior princess, he wants his freedom, and escapes.  The road pirates give chase.
     "This movie was shot entirely on video, a common practice in porn.  Nonetheless, this is a lavish, well-executed film: they got everything right.  It should be noted here that the ages of both cast and crew are all between eighteen and thirty-three, producer Lenny Schneider being just twenty-three.  There is a lot of talent on display, both in front of and behind the cameras....  Far more than we would expect from a crew this young, much less with their roots in porn.
     "Do not forget: this is hardcore pornography we're reviewing.  The explicit sex scenes are frequent and detailed.  This is not a video you will find at Blockbuster, you'll need to go into the 'Adults Only' section of your local video store to find this one.  We still feel it is worth the visit.  Inana Productions, the studio that gave us 'Bewitched' and 'Temporary Pleasures,' has hit another high mark for adult entertainment.  Make sure the kids are in bed, then you and yours put this video on.  No one expects hardcore porn to be this entertaining or well-executed, but it is.  Indulge your more base desires and rent this one today."

     Hustler corporate called today.  They want to do two centerfold shoots: yet another one of Bekka for Hustler, and one of Feather for Barely Legal.  I told them I'd let both girls know, and collected phone numbers and contact names.  I was fairly sure Bekka would say yes, as it was both good fan service and good pay for two days of still photo work.  I was positive that Feather, the little exhibitionist, would say yes, too.  Feather's fourteen year old sister is living with her now, and she wants to make sure they're as comfortable as possible.  Feather bought a three year old Toyota with part of her money from "Succubus," and in six months wants to go shopping with me for a Cadillac.  She'll get her Cadillac, she's a girl who sticks with her plans.
     It's two weeks later and me, Bekka, and Terry are walking through the University Town Center mall.  Terry is wearing a flannel shirt with the sleeves hacked off, it's better at concealing her shoulder holster and Colt Defender than her leather vest.  Me, I'm feeling a little cocky.  I'm $200,000 richer than I'd started off the day.  Angel sent me a cashiers check in that amount via courier, just a small thank you, a bit of "job well done" money for the movie "Bewitched II," which is literally selling faster than we can run off copies.  Terry asks me what I'm gonna do with all that fuckin' dough.  I tell her, "Save a little longer and buy the town of Poway."
     "What the fuck would you do with Poway?" she asked.
     "Well, rule it like a shah, obviously," I say.  "There's got to be something to do with a town full of greasy hicks.  I'd outlaw rodeo, first off.  I have no objections to pro rodeo, I just feel like pissing off my citizens.  Also, I'd close every liquor store found stocking Corona in their 'Imported Beers' section.  That shit's just Budweiser in a clear bottle."
     We entered the large edifice that contains the ice rink (down below), the food court, and the arcade.  I hand a twenty to Terry and tell her to do what she likes for dinner, we'd meet her at a group of tables we always used.  Bekka and I headed for the gyros stand, ordered, waited, and got our food.  When we got to the tables, we found two of them already occupied by swabs from Miramar, still in their fatigues.  Odd.  We grabbed an empty table and dug in.  Terry soon joined us bearing a couple hot links and a salad.
     I picked up on the nudging, pointing, and whispering among the sailors fairly quickly.  They'd spotted Becky Page, sitting with a punk and a biker babe.  Finally an emissary approached our table.  He said, "You're really Becky Page, aren't you?"
     "I am," Bekka said through a mouthful of slaw.
     "Me and my buddies are big fans of yours, huge fans, um, we were wondering---"
     Bekka cut him off.  "I will be delighted to join you at your table, in about five minutes.  Wait while I finish eating, then I'll be happy to meet all of you."
     "She likes her dinner uninterrupted," I said with a pointed voice.  Terry simply gazed at him, straight-faced.
     The sailor returned to his table, and we were....  Observed, for the next five minutes while Bekka ate.  Jane appeared, bearing a barbecue sandwich and home fries.  She had wanted to finish her homework before hitting the mall, simply catching up to us.  Her presence was duly noted by the swabs, them curious about the blue-haired teen giving everyone at our table a kiss in greeting before starting her meal, me and Bekka being kissed very deeply.  A teenage girl in a leather jacket who gets to put her tongue in Becky Page's mouth, amazing.
     Bekka finished her gyro, smiled at me, and softly said, "Becky will handle this, I'm not in the mood."  She swung out of her seat and over to the two swab-occupied tables, where she planted her butt on the top of a seat back, feet on the seat itself, so she could observe her audience.
     "So, you wanted to meet me," Becky said.  "What's up, boys?  I'm guessing you're all here from Miramar, why are you still in fatigues?"
     One young squid, who looked Filipino, said, "We're on a four hour break from training, and we wanted something to eat besides mess food.  We just, y'know, piled in a couple cars and came over here."
     "And what are you learning to do?"
     There was a brief pause, then one sailor who still had a pair of noise-cancelling headphones around his neck said, "Ma'am, we're learning how to get planes off a flight deck.  That's all we can tell you."
     Becky clapped her hands together and said, "Good!  I keep a lot of secrets myself.  So have you boys seen the latest movie yet?"
     A different swab said, "You mean 'Succubus'?  I think we've all got it on order from the, uh, local video place near Miramar.  There's a two week wait to purchase, and a month wait to rent.  Nobody has copies of it, we've checked around."
     I spoke up, saying, "And I apologize for that.  We literally have every major duplication and packaging plant on the West Coast under contract right now, they're cranking them out, but demand is outranking supply by a long shot.  We weren't expecting volume to be this big in the first few weeks."
     Jane said, "That explains the sign I saw in the window of Jupiter Video on the way here.  It just said, 'Pre-order 'Succubus' now!  Don't wait!'  Shit, you did it again, Lenny."
     One of the swabs gestured at Jane and asked Becky, "Who is she, anyway?"
     Becky laughed loudly at this question.  She motioned Jane over to join her and said, "This is Jane.  She is a friend, a lover, and a roommate of Lenny's and mine.  Don't tell anyone about the 'lover' part though, as she's still underage."
     "On my eighteenth birthday, the three of us are going to Mission Beach, standing on the boardwalk, and doing nothing but making out all day," said Jane.  "I'll finally be able to publicly display how much I love these two, you know?"
     There was nervous chuckling from the sailors.  One asked, "How old are you now?"
     "I turned seventeen last week.  I'm finishing up my junior year of high school, on the honor roll, thank you very muuuch."
     The sailors digested this with their mouths slightly open.  While they did, Becky said, "To complete the introductions, this is my husband Lenny, and my friend Terry.  She is also my personal protection, my bodyguard.  So if any of you were contemplating attacking me, you'd have to go through Terry first."
     I grinned at the group.  Terry stood up, said, "Whassup, squids?" and parted the front of her flannel, revealing both her impressive rack under a tight Jack Daniels t-shirt and her shoulder holster, holding the Colt Defender.  "Mind your fuckin' manners, boys," she said.
     The sailors went goggle-eyed when they saw the butt of the Colt.  "You carry a gun?" somebody asked.
     Becky laughed.  The four of us glanced at each other.  I opened my jacket, displaying my Beretta.  Becky lifted her blouse, revealing her own Colt.  And Jane pulled her tiny pocket rod out of her pants, holding the minuscule Beretta in her palm.  We displayed them briefly, then made them disappear again.  The swabs stared in silence.   Becky said, "Darlings, we're all armed.  I can't imagine leaving the house without my Colt on my waist."
     "How come you all have guns?" asked a sailor.
     "Because people have tried to kill us in the past," answered Becky.  "Lenny has been shot three times in his life, and is married to a celebrity.  I have been stabbed, and had a man break into the studio with the idea of murdering me on his mind.  Jane has been the victim of a kidnapping.  I can't speak for Terry....  Terry, has anyone ever tried to kill you?"
     "Not directly, no," Terry replied.  "Not like how you're talking about.  A gun ain't about to help you when you're riding bitch on a putt and realize the motherfucker at the controls is way more drunk than you thought.  Naw, no one has ever tried to kill me on purpose.  I carry my piece for your sake, Bekka."
     "Don't you worry about getting busted for having them?" asked the swab with the headphones.
     "Excluding Jane, we are all legally carrying concealed," said Becky.  "For reference sake, Lenny has a Beretta 92FS, both Terry and I carry Colt Defenders, and Jane has a purse gun made by Beretta, a six shot with better muzzle velocity than one would guess.  All of our pistols are loaded with hollow-point nine mm. ammunition, which means we'll blow a hole in anything we hit.  Obviously Lenny carries the real cannon among the three of us, his 92 will drop anything.  But enough about guns, did you boys have some questions for me?"
     There was brief silence, then one sailor said, "Um....  Do you like the new movie?"
     Becky said, "Oh, we're overjoyed with it.  Lots of action, lots of adventure, and lots of good sex.  We proved you can mix action with erotica and have a good result.  We suffered out there in the desert for nearly a month, but it was worth it, the results made it worthwhile.  Tell you what, you're all in the same crew, right?"
     They assured they were.
     "Lenny, go get in the trunk of the Falcon and grab a promo copy.  When you're off-duty, you can all see the new one.  You'll still want to get the copies you ordered, since I'm sure you'll want to watch this in private at your first opportunity. That, and the promo copies don't have the booklet and liner notes.  But you'll at least get a good grasp of what we accomplished."
     It should be noted that after the credit roll at the end of the feature was done, we also had a section called "Video Notes," which was a graffiti-wall-like collection of factoids, gossip, and comments.  All the cars used were listed.  The Special Thanks were here.  One blurb read, "Feather claims she did not fake orgasm at any point during the making of this film.  We believe her, the naughty little thing."  Another said, "Crystal, has your sister recovered from watching us shoot the scene at the waterfall yet?"  Another: "Special thanks to the Denny's on Imperial Ave. in El Centro.  Your food is still only mediocre, but you were always friendly with the groups of perverts who kept coming in at all hours of the day and night."  Another: "Don't worry Gayla, we won't tell your husband that you weren't faking it with Rio.  Err.... Oops."  And, "Special thanks to H. Colson and the people of Gilmore Camp, CA.  We'd especially like to thank the wives of Gilmore Camp for not running us off at gunpoint when they saw what was going on."
     "Is Skye Tyler in this one?" asked a voice.
     "She is, two turns, one straight and one girl-girl.  If you have a favorite Inana girl, she's in this one at least once.  A few newcomers, too.  The reviewers seem to be nuts for a young girl named Feather, just eighteen she is, but quite the dynamo.  She's my sidekick in this movie....  Well, you'll see.  Lenny, go get a video, Terry can keep an eye on me.  No need to sit there looking worried.."
     I went out, shot across the mall, got in the trunk of the Falcon, and extracted a copy of "Succubus."  Trotting across the mall, I heard voices saying to each other, "She's really inside?....  I saw her.... Let's go check it out....."
     I sprinted for the food court.  Arriving at the tables, I said, "Hey, Becky dear, we're gonna get pummeled in a minute or so.  Your presence has been noticed."
     Becky looked at the sailors and said, "You all want autographs, right?  Best I do them now, hand me things to write on....  What's your name, darling?  Alf?  No problem, here you go...."
     Bekka/Becky began knocking out autographs for the sailors as quickly as possible.  I looked at the doors and there was a virtual crest of people descending all at once.  The people in the lead spotted our little grouping and began heading that way.  Terry jumped up, ran forward and put out her arms.
     "Hey hey HEY!" Terry yelled.  "You're all here to see Becky, right?  Calm the fuck down, and get in a line.  She ain't eatin', she ain't playin' pinball, so she'll be happy to meet you.  But she hates being crowded, okay?  Just calm the fuck down, you'll all meet her, no sweat.  Wait here, right where I'm fuckin' standing.  You stay here, and you'll all get your turn."
     And we did things like we had in La Mesa, sort of.  Jane stayed with Bekka/Becky as back-up security.  Terry and I minded the line.  Bekka/Becky would call "Okay," and we'd let the next person through.  The person leaving would go out, bearing a signed piece of paper and a delighted grin.  Sometimes they would have tears in their eyes.  Bekka/Becky would allow them enough time to express their feelings, which was what most of them wanted, Becky Page had become important parts their lives.  The emotion they felt when meeting Becky Page was indescribable.  They loved Becky, and --- through the power of videotape --- felt that Becky loved them.  To hug her, to feel this woman actually physically pressed upon them, was too much for many of them to handle, and they burst into tears.  Becky was Wonder Woman, she was their goddess, she transcended all they understood.  Becky Page was their hope for a better world.  Becky Page truly was the light in their life.
     It didn't take long for this love fest to be brought to the attention of mall security.  A couple chumps in uniform marched up and asked just what was going on here.  First they asked it of Bekka/Becky, who simply explained that she was signing autographs for a few fans, nothing wrong there, right?  They walked up to me and asked me what I was doing.
     "Keeping my wife from getting crushed by her fans," I explained.
     "You've arranged a reception line in the food court," I was told.
     "Not on purpose," said Terry.  "It's just how shit has worked out, you know?"
     I pointed out, "Look.  There were two choices.  Either her and I corralled people and got them organized, or have them mobbing my wife all at once.  With the latter, there would have been injuries, okay?"  I paused to let the next fan past.  "We didn't plan on this, we just wanted to eat dinner and play some pinball.  But it's the way things have worked out.  If you wanna get somebody here and help mind the line, that'd be just spiffy, personally."
     The rent-a-cop pulled out his walkie-talkie and stepped towards the doors to speak privately.  Terry and I continued letting fans through.  After a few minutes a second security guard appeared.  The two conferred, and the second stationed himself about two-thirds of the way down the line.  The first security guard came up to me and said, "Okay, Gibson there will help keep people in order.  The office isn't too happy about this, but I explained that it's a situation that developed on its own, no planning.  This wasn't planned, right?"
     I told him, "Becky and I are here every Thursday.  We're predictable.  Why there's a crowd of fans all here at once has me mystified.  To be frank, this is not why we come here, we just want some dinner and some pinball with a couple friends.  Yeah, we expect to sign a few autographs, but that's usually just for a handful of sailors, dudes from Miramar, and they're eager but sedate.  We did not anticipate getting mobbed like this."
     The rent-a-cop said, "Maybe Ms. Page could consider coming a bit more incognito.  Everyone will have a quieter evening if she did."
     "This is the second time this has happened.  Weird, too, all these fans look like they're the same age, like college students....  Hang on a second...."  I turned to the guy at the front of the line.  "Hey man, do you know these people you're in line with?"
     "Well, kinda," he responded.  "We were all on the bus together."
     "What bus?" I asked.
     "On Thursdays, SDSU runs a few buses from campus to the mall in the afternoon.  It's a chance for those of us without cars to get off campus for a few hours.  It's so cool that Becky Page is here at the same time.  So are you her bodyguard?"
     "Husband, actually.  Her real bodyguard is this woman here," I said, pointing at Terry.  "The girl with blue hair is our friend and roommate.  Anybody gets fresh, she'll bulldog them long enough for Terry to escort them out, you know?  So....  Every Thursday a passel of SDSU students come to the mall, all at once.  Good to know...."
     Terry suddenly beamed and called, "Hey Roach!  Spike!  Dickhead!  Little Bit!  The fuck you doing here?"
     I turned, and sure enough three Hell's Angels are walking our way, grins on full, plus Dawn.  Dickhead, Dawn, and Spike got brief embraces, while Roach --- the Valentino he was --- got a good hug.  I looked over at the rent-a-cops to see them with looks of panic on their faces.  They'd seen the colors, and were highly disturbed.  One was already talking into his radio.  The students looked nervous but hopeful: wow, some serious adventure might happen today.
     Roach asked me, "What the hell is going on?  This wasn't scheduled, was it?"
     I replied, "Oh, hell no.  We're here at the same time as a bunch of SDSU students, and they all freaked when they found out Bekka was here.  Me and Terry got them organized, so now it's like an impromptu signing.  The fans go up one at a time, get a signature, a couple moments to talk, and a hug.  Mall security freaked when they saw what was going on, but me, Terry, and Jane had everyone corralled, so it was no big deal.  We've had this happen a couple times before, and it's always been peaceful.  So what brings you guys here?"
     "Dinner and Skee-Ball.  We were arguing about where to get dinner, and I said, 'Fuck it, the food court at UTC has something for everybody, let's go there.'  And Dickhead claims to be a fucking wizard at Skee-Ball, says he can get enough tickets with five bucks of play to win one of the big plush toys for his girlfriend, every time.  I wanna see this happen.  And Pint Size says she's hungry for one of the barbecue sandwiches from Rowdy's, so here we are.  All right if we say hi to Bekka real quick?"
     I glanced over at Terry.  Without taking here eyes off the line, she said, "Yeah, but just say hi, don't hang out.  We wanna get rid of these turkeys so we can enjoy our evening, you know?"  She smiled at the first turkey in line and said, "You don't mind waiting just a minute while some personal friends of Becky's say hello, do you?"
     The student eyed Terry, and the Hell's Angels.  He looked like a corn-fed out-of-state student, a Midwest escapee, the type who was still mystified by Southern California "culture."  He nodded hard enough to give himself whiplash and said, "No, that's fine, let her see her friends!"
     The most recent customer stepped away, a pixie-ish girl who had tears in her eyes and a signed place mat in her hands.  She stopped in front of me and said, "You're her husband?"
     "Yep, that's me," I said.  "Becky Page's husband."
     "You are...."  She sobbed.  "You're such a lucky man.  To experience that amount of love, every day.... It must be overwhelming.  I asked her to come home with me, I want to be with her so much, and she told me that she saves herself for you.  Does she fall asleep in your arms?"
     "She does," I assured.
     "Can I hug you?" asked the pixie.  "I just hugged Becky, so I know what you experience, and now I want to feel what she experiences."
     I put my arms out and she stepped into them, and we embraced.  Dawn had witnessed this behavior before --- at the mall, in fact --- but Terry and the Angels were a bit dumbfounded.  They accepted Bekka's popularity as what was due for any celebrity, but had never thought about why her fans were so enamored, or how deeply.  I figured I'd explain Becky Page's goddess-like status to Roach, and he could explain it to the Angels.  I had a hunch he'd do a better job explaining than I would.
     The pixie broke away, kissed my cheek, and trotted off deeper into the food court.  Spike looked at me and said, "What the fuck was that?"
     "That was a very dedicated fan of Becky Page," I replied.  "Many of her fans feel as though she has directly impacted their lives, giving them guidance and sharing her love.  She really is an icon for a lot of people, someone with almost mythic strengths and abilities.  And somehow they picked this up from watching dirty movies she's appeared in.  Go, give her a quick hello, then get some dinner.  Hopefully by the time you're done eating, we'll have finished with all this, and we can all go hit the arcade stress-free."
     Terry had let the corn-fed kid through, and was now holding a different student.  Corn-fed came back our direction and stopped.  "Are you guys really Hell's Angels?" he asked, wide-eyed.
     "Nobody wears the colors if they aren't," growled Dickhead  "Not for long, anyway."
     "I never knew you guys really existed.  Wow."
     This cracked the Angels up.  "Where are you from?" asked Roach.
     Corn-fed looked slightly embarrassed.  "Wichita, Kansas.  I got a scholarship out here."
     Spike smiled and rested a glove-clad hand on Corn-fed's shoulder.  "Yeah, we exist.  And we're probably both better and worse of people than you've ever heard.  So what do you think of California so far?"
     The kid relaxed slightly and said, "It's way different than I ever would have guessed.  I mean, people out here do what they feel like doing, they're totally open about things.  Like Becky.  I'd knew what porn was, but I'd never seen any until my dorm-mate showed me 'Bewitched' and 'Rocker Girls.'  In Kansas, people would be afraid of Becky, she'd probably be in jail or something.  Out here, she can do what she wants and people love her for it.  I love Becky, I learned a lot from her."
     "What did you learn?" I asked.
     "I learned that, well, sex is part of the natural flow of life, and to not be afraid of it.  I'm not afraid of girls anymore.  When I first got out here, I felt really, uh, intimidated.  Becky showed me that girls aren't these alien beings, and they have a lot of the same desires, you know?  Now I have a girlfriend.  And my parents would hate to learn this, but not only am I not a virgin anymore, I don't mind a bit.  God didn't strike me down for having sex before marriage.  I might still be a dorky guy from Wichita, but I'm not afraid of the world any more, and I got that from Becky.  She's incredible.  She totally hugged me.  My girlfriend is gonna wig out when I tell her I met Becky Page.  We're pooling our money to buy a copy of the new movie."
     Roach laughed, "If God struck people down for sex before marriage, California would be neck deep in corpses.  Listen, I don't think God minds premarital sex.  I think he minds sex that is heartless, void of feeling.  You shouldn't be using another person, just selfishly getting off.  Come on guys, let's say hi to Becky."
     Young Mr. Corn-fed looked at me and said, "I guess we're just lucky to be here the same day Becky is doing a signing, huh?  What's the event?"
     I replied, "Well, the event is that Becky wanted dinner and to play some pinball.  This wasn't scheduled at all, just pure chance of fate that she's here the same time as a good section of her demographic of fans.  Becky is always happy to sign autographs so long as she isn't being crowded.  That's why me and Terry here got all you mooks organized into a tidy, single file line.  That way everybody's happy."
     "Wow....  My girlfriend almost went to see Becky when she was doing a signing at, um, an adult book store, but we couldn't figure out how to get there by bus, and my girlfriend's Women's Studies instructor was telling her it was a bad idea.  The instructor likes Becky Page, she just thought we shouldn't go to the book store."
     I laughed and said, "Lemme guess.  You were going to go to Smut 'N' Stuff on Balboa for the 'Bewitched II' release signing?"
     "Yeah, how'd you know?"
     "You gave me enough clues.  Naw, you would have hated it, but probably not for the reasons the instructor had in mind.  These informal little signings?  Maybe fifty fans, so Becky takes a little time to share a few words with the fans, sign an autograph, and give a hug.  At a big video signing, there'll be at least a few hundred dudes lined up for signatures.  You barely have a chance to say hi before we're ushering you along to the next table.  If I was a fan, there's no way I'd show up to more than one signing in my life.  They're a drag, unless you're desperate for the autographs, a serious collector.  So what was the Women's Studies instructor's beef with you going to the signing?"
     Corn-fed said, "Two things.  First of all, she said my girlfriend would be really uncomfortable there....  She used the phrase 'sausage fest' to describe the place.  Second, she considers adult book stores to be hostile to women."
     "Well, the first one is true," I chuckled.  "The Becky Page demographic is not fairly represented at signings.  Look at the line here, an even split of dudes and chicks, right?  Shit, at a signing there may be four girls all damn day.  I don't know why, but video release signings are all guys.  We know that's not representative of Becky's fans, we just have to read our fan mail.  So yeah, your girlfriend would have been stuck waiting in line for a couple hours surrounded by horny, rabid connoisseurs of hardcore porn.  Just as a visual anomaly she would have attracted attention.  I don't think a single dude would have said anything to her, but she'd have been stared at so much she'd have been creeped the fuck out.
     "I'll take issue with her opinion of adult book stores, having worked in one.  The Smut 'N' Stuff chain here in San Diego have clean, safe, well-lit stores with excellent staff and a wide selection of products.  Remember, these stores exist to sell masturbation tools.  Well, men look at porn, and women read porn.  A book store will have magazines and videos for the men, toys --- vibrators and dildos --- for the women.  Both genders love to masturbate, but at some point in history it was decided that nice ladies don't do things like that.  Bullshit.  But the result is that at this point, a woman in an adult book store is presumed to be in a state of heat, not just run-of-the-mill horny like all the guys there.  Adult book stores would love to have more women shopping at them instead of shopping for their toys out of the Xandria catalogue.
     "It's not the stores that are hostile towards women, it's the hardcore patrons.  And it's not hostility, exactly, it's more confusion.  Let's face it, too many of those dudes are kinda lacking in social graces, they don't really know how to talk to girls.  Seeing a woman in a book store short-circuits their brain, because here's a woman who is essentially admitting, 'I'm horny, and I'm gonna do something about it, by myself.'  So the dudes will start staring, or drifting closer, generally being creepy.  I'd scatter them constantly when I worked for Smut 'N' Stuff.  A few women would drift in --- safety in numbers --- and start browsing, so as the floor-walker I'd go over and introduce myself, crack a joke, and let them know I was there if they needed anything.  The women would relax, and the creeps would go back to bending up the corners of the magazines.
     "But see?  Adult book stores would love women customers.  If they were hostile to women, why would they be carrying devices specifically designed for women to begin with?  I'd say the solution is to hire more female clerks, but the problem with that is too often, we gotta bounce people, threaten them, throw our weight around.  Answer honestly, how would your girlfriend handle the situation of some six foot two asshole standing at the magazine racks with his dick out, jacking it?  How does she throw him out?
     "One idea that has been bounced around is a weekly 'Ladies' Night,' where the store hires a woman to act as a hostess and sales rep.  Once a week she does an open sort of demo session --- not literally --- with all the products, so women can check out the merchandise, see what they like, without feeling rushed or pressured.  That would help get women initially in and spending, and also give them the impression that hey, this is a safe place to be after all.  Shit, there's a small chain in San Francisco called Good Vibrations where it's always Ladies' Night, entire stores devoted to nothing but women's sex toys and accoutrements.  For women, that's gotta beat the shit out of ordering from a catalog and hoping you get what you want."
     Corn-fed looked a little cowed by my speechifying.  He asked, "So, you uh, you think a lot about people, you know, getting themselves off?"
     I answered, "It's how I've made a living since I was nineteen.  Watch this....  Hey Becky!"
     Bekka/Becky paused her conversation and called back, "What's up, babe?"
     "Who am I, and what do I do?"
     "You're my husband, Lenny Schneider.  "You're C.O.O. of Inana Productions, and you write and produce all their features."
     "Thank you, hon," I said, and turned back to Corn-fed.  "See?  I have become quite rich exploiting the human urge to masturbate.  Given its constant and universal prevalence, I wish the social taboo against masturbation would go away, I'd finally be viewed as a legitimate businessman.  Restaurants and airplanes could have Wanking and Non-Wanking sections.  And the makers of Astroglide would finally receive the Nobel Peace Prize they so richly deserve."
     "Wow, you're really married to Becky Page?" asked Corn-fed.  "What's that like?"
     I laughed at this rather broad question.  I said, "I will simply say it is wonderful.  I am married to a woman I am madly in love with, and her to me."
     "How do you know when you're in love?"
     "Oh boy.  That's like being asked to describe how orgasm feels, dude.  Words don't begin to do the job.  Why do you ask?"
     Corn-fed said, "Sometimes I worry that I'm with my girlfriend because I'm afraid of being alone.  That, and the fooling around...."
     I responded, "Do you two have fun together?  You get along well?  Is the sex good?  Do you smile when you think about her?  Do you care about her, and want her to be happy?"
     He considered, and said, "Yeah, to all of those."
     "Then you got love in your life, man.  Don't second-guess yourself like that.  You love her.  It may not be earth-shaking, all-consuming love that holds you for a lifetime, but it is love, and that counts.  Shit, you're what, eighteen?  You're just starting out.  Enjoy her, and yourself.  Remember to show her you care.  You can buy her a rose, or just make her come on the spur of the moment.  Love is something you practice, and get better at.  You two could drift apart by the middle of next semester, or you could both decide this is the person you want to share the rest of your life with.  There's no telling.  But enjoy love in the here and now, and let the chips fall where they may."
     "How did you come to realize you loved Becky?"
     I considered this.  "It was the realization that there would be a hole in my life, in the shape of her, if I didn't have her as part of my life.  A wound that never healed.  I'd had girlfriends and lovers, and had gotten over it when we grew apart.  I didn't think I'd be able to recover from losing Becky.  It was scary, she was in love with me for a long time before she admitted it.  She'd been fucked over in so many relationships that admitting she loved me scared the shit out of her, she was sure I'd fuck her over too.  We said we were just friends, but we were friends who spent a lot of time fucking, and had the keys to each other's cars and apartments, and held hands a lot, and knew each other's deepest secrets.
     "She knew I loved her the whole time she was stonewalling me, because I'd told her.  After six months of this pantomime we were doing, she told me she loved me.  Within two weeks we were living together.  Within a month I'd proposed.  We're each other's heroin, or oxygen, or insulin, or something.  Each of us need the other to live.  That's how bad we've got it."
     Young Corn-fed said, "And see, I feel like a jerk because I don't feel that way about my girlfriend.  Like I'm loyal to her because she was my first time, y'know...."
     "And what did I say before?  Not all love is life-changing.  And it doesn't happen all at once, either.  Me and Becky really were just friends, for several months, before anything happened between us.  There are degrees to love.  Hell, at your age, the fact that you're not head over heels in love is probably for the best.  Love is a skill, and you need to work at that skill.  Nobody's expecting you to spend the rest of your life with a girl you're dating in your freshman year of college."
     "Except my parents," muttered Corn-fed.  "Honestly?  I mentioned my girlfriend once, in one letter, and they've already got the church reserved for just after my graduation.  It's like they can't conceive of people dating for fun, not even in college.  Heh, and they're really gonna hate it when I tell them I'm staying in California when I graduate.  Coming out here for college was like finding out you're not going blind, your glasses are just dirty.  In California I can do anything I feel like, and be whoever I want to be.  In Wichita I'd end up spending my life at Cessna or Beechcraft or Boeing.  I don't give a shit about airplanes.  I'd drive a Ford and sit at a desk and have a fat wife and eat fucking tuna hot dish on Wednesdays.  Out here, I'm gonna own a BMW.  I'll eat at restaurants from countries I can't even find on a map.  I'm gonna build a faster computer processor, something that will revolutionize the industry.  And my wife will be hot."
     He paused for breath, then started again.  "Wichita is 1,299 feet above sea level.  The highest point in Wichita is the Epic Center, a whole twenty-two stories.  You can see for miles up there, but there's nothing to see, just more damn prairie.  You get to 1,624 feet in Wichita, and you're maxed out.  In California, you can climb Mount Whitney and not max out until you hit 14,505 feet.  I can't live in a flat place anymore, I have to be someplace where there's a more interesting view than the horizon.  I'm staying put,and to hell with my parents."
     "This has been on your mind a while," I said.
     "Since the third day I arrived.  A friend of my dorm-mate's came to take him to the beach, and asked if I wanted to come along.  We went to Mission Beach.  I'm standing there in chinos and penny loafers and a golf shirt, a total dork, just some pasty loser from the Midwest.  But I smelled that air and saw the people and heard all the noise, and decided I was in the right place."
     "So is there any draw to Wichita besides the aircraft industry?  Is there good money there?" I asked.
     Corn-fed smirked.  "Are you a native Californian?  You are?  You'll love this.  You can buy a perfectly nice house in Wichita for seventy grand, or about half what the same place would cost in San Diego.  I don't think anybody's dream is to live in Wichita, unless you're a test pilot.  But the cost of living is low, crime isn't bad, and let's face it, it's a pretty white town."
     "What about the schools?"
     "Oh shit.  Kansas is as bad as Texas when it comes to high school football.  We were using ten year old textbooks, but the gridiron got brand new sod every year.  I sat next to a halfback in English, and he was flummoxed by 'Garfield' cartoons, too many big words.  But his GPA was somehow miraculously high enough to make the cut for the team.  Something was screwed up with the wiring in the library, and the lights in the whole place would flicker constantly.  That took a month to fix.  The water heater for the spa in the locker room went down, and that was fixed before the end of practice.  So really, I guess it all depends on what you expect out of your schools.  Entertainment or education."
     I said, "Yeah, the jocks don't rule in California, at least not as a cultural thing.  So do they have drugs in Wichita?"
     "Well, yeah," said Corn-fed.  "I mean, they're around, but there's not a big epidemic of them.  In Wichita, it makes the TV news if the cops bust somebody with two pounds of marijuana.  I don't think that would even make the police blotter out here."
     "What are your personal feelings about drugs?"
     "Um....  I've smoked pot a few times, that was fun.  I've never done anything else, though.  That was after I got out here.  My dorm-mate is a partyer, he gets out of class Friday afternoon and I don't see him again until Sunday night.  He'll brag about doing meth or coke, or tell me about taking acid and hanging out with the homeless in Balboa Park all night.  He doesn't party during the week, at least."
     "Wait here."  I gestured to Terry to hold the line while I talked with Bekka/Becky.  When the most recent acolyte departed, I stepped up and told her I needed two hits of Ecstasy.  She gave me a Becky smile and handed them right over.  I folded them in an Inana Productions business card and brought them back to Corn-fed.
     "Here," I said, handing him the card and pills.  "Right there are three things.  Two hits of Ecstasy and my business card.  The hits are so you and your girlfriend can have ten hours of serious fun at your next chance.  The card is so you know who I am, and I'm not just some psycho out poisoning people.  You wanted to know what love felt like, well, I can give you a chemical approximation.  You and your girlfriend take the pills at lunch on Saturday, then take the bus to the beach, or hike Mission Gorge, or just start walking up El Cajon Boulevard and see how far you'll get, you'll have plenty of energy.  Ecstasy is not exactly a trip, but it is an experience, and one that is beautiful when shared.  Enjoy your day."
     Corn-fed said, "Ecstasy, huh?  My dorm-mate is always trying to get some, but he says the good stuff is really expensive, twenty-five bucks or something.  I'll trust you that you're not trying to kill me....  Is this any good?"
     "The best.  Don't tell your roomie you have it, or he'll hound you.  Afterwards, you can tell him that Becky Page gave you Smiley Ecstasy for free, and tell him about your day.  You'll have him one-upped for a while."
     "Well....  It sounds better than our usual Saturday routine, which is my girlfriend pleading with seniors to buy us beer, then getting a buzz in the canyon.  So what does Ecstasy do?"
     I explained, "It brings on energy, confidence, strong euphoria, mental dexterity, and a feeling of being connected with the universe.  Like, life makes sense now, and it's a beautiful thing, and why did you never notice before?  The effects of the drug wear off, but the observations you make will stay with you, and still have rational meaning.  Like I said, it's an experience.  Becky and I take it on weekends to clear our minds."
     It suddenly struck me that there were two people left waiting to see Bekka/Becky....  And then one.  The girl leaving the table stopped at us and said to Corn-fed, "Were you waiting on me all this time?"
     "No, I got talking to this guy here.  This is Becky Page's husband," said Corn-fed.
     "Ohmigawd!" shrieked the girl.  "You're the producer and writer!  Your movies are fully awesome, how do you come up with them?"
     I said, "Seriously?  I bat around bullshit.  I dream up stories that would work well with a heavy subtext of sex, write an outline, and think up cool things to happen.  Then I link the cool things together in a sensible order, re-write the damn thing several times, and call it done.  And don't ask me to explain what I do as a producer, because I don't know what I do either."
     "Could I get your autograph?  Put it here on this sheet, there's room.  I'm actually kinda bummed you're married, I'm kind of an adventurist and I think it would be fun to spend the night with you.  Becky Page made me realize I shouldn't be afraid of bold first steps.  Thank you!  Come on, I still haven't eaten, let's go get some pizza."  She grabbed Corn-fed by the arm and pranced off, tugging him along.  He desperately waved goodbye at me.
     Bekka/Becky was completely unencumbered.  She lit a cigarette and waved Terry and I over, saying, "Whew!  Being a confessor is a tough gig.  It's amazing how I've touched lives without even meaning to.  Funny, I don't recall being in that big a need of a hero when I was in college."
     "Well, shit, you didn't exist yet," said Terry.  "You're the first chance a lot of people have ever had at having a hero.  Nobody cut the fuckin' mustard before you came along.  Becky Page fulfills a lot of dreams, in a lot of ways.  You're really the ideal woman to a lot of these motherfuckers.  You are the ubermensch."
     "The ubermensch votes for going to Carlos Murphy's for shots, then coming back here and beating on pinball machines.  Shall we get the Angels?"
     "Nah.  We'll be back quick enough."
     We headed to the bar, in need of a drink or five.

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