Friday, August 5, 2016

Angels (Part 12)

     On the Monday of the fifth week after the release of "Succubus," Angel called me to let me know how well Small Steve and I had kept to budget.  Roughly, we had spent just under $4.5 million on production.  Our budget max was $6 million.  As per our agreement, Steve and I would be splitting the amount saved under that $6 million cap.  The end result was we were each getting $750,000 bonuses.

     Steve and I had already discussed the matter.  We felt it was only fair that our windfall be shared among cast and crew.  Each of us would keep $250,000 for ourselves and divide up the remaining $500,000, him giving bonuses to the crew (plus Reina Crylos, our stunt coordinator), while I did the same for the performers.  Everyone from each camp would receive an equal amount.  Due to the smaller number, the crew would be getting larger bonuses than the cast....  But at the same time, performers tended to get sales-based bonuses out of Angel, while the crew did not.  Crew also had a lower pay scale.  We would explain to everyone that this was a unique situation, to not count on this kind of windfall out of every movie.  Nonetheless, cool, huh?  Now go have fun.
     I would be pulling an additional $25,000 out of my own money as a bonus to Terry, who had worked as my personal assistant during our time in the desert and had done a stellar job, a real trouper.  Since Terry was a twenty-four carat biker bitch, people discounted her intelligence: her swearing, her dialogue, her sense of humor, and her personal style made people assume she wasn't terribly bright.  A big mistake.  Terry could remember details of a conversation that had taken place five days earlier to settle a conflict.  Daily she reminded me of minutiae I needed to attend to, stuff that had fallen out of my own brain.  She kept notes so nothing would be forgotten.  And her pit bull-like loyalty to me made her the perfect foil.  If I needed to have an undisturbed meeting with Small Steve, Terry would station herself outside the door of the RV we were in, arms crossed, and run off anyone looking for us until we opened that damn door ourselves.  She would have happily stonewalled the cops if they'd shown up.  I believe cast and crew were all terrified of her, but that was fine.  It saved a lot of time that would have been wasted arguing with her, on any subject.  What she would do with her newfound wealth was a mystery to me.  She loved her '72 Nova and Harley-Davidson, and they were both paid for.  She'd already paid me back the money she'd owed me.  Who knows, maybe she would exercise her brand loyalty and buy stock in Anheuser–Busch, the parent company of Budweiser, her favorite beverage (and how).
     "Wow, $225,000 just for completing a damn porno film under budget," commented Bekka, sitting in my lap in my office.  "What should we do with it?"
     I replied, "Well, we're already years ahead on paying off the house, we love what we drive, and we don't have the time to take a snazzy vacation.  I'm at a loss too.  Um, invest it....  Somehow?  We've already got $100,000 tied up in IRAs, maybe drop the same amount?  I don't want to get into anything riskier than mutual funds, though.  No stock market, no real estate, no futures."
     Bekka gave a tired laugh.  "Jesus Lenny, you're going to force me to think like an adult, aren't you?  Well, I'd like some of it to go to Jane.  Give her ten grand worth of traveler's checks so she can have fun in Europe this summer, and put another $50,000 in a savings account for when she goes to college.  Mad money.  With interest, she would have....  About $1,400 extra spending cash per month, on top of whatever Vito gives her to play with.  She'll probably be the richest punk on campus."
     I laughed at this.  "Yeah.  She won't have to spot for beer, she'll just buy an interest in a liquor store.  Tell me, you have the ability to do math in your head quite well.  Does Becky have the same ability?"
     "No.  Not how you mean, anyway.  If Becky is at the controls, she would have to consult with me for the answer to a math problem more complex than balancing a checkbook.  She would answer, but it would take longer, because she is coming to me with the problem.  Becky doesn't have the mental discipline to do math in her head.  She'd be good as me in a spelling bee, though."
     "What does Becky think we should do with the money?"
     Bekka smiled demurely.  "Would you like to ask her?"
     "Sure," I said.  "Let me talk to her."
     Bekka's eyes blinked and her face slightly shifted....  Then I got a familiar smile.  Becky was in control now.  She said, "Dammit, we're having fun with some of it.  Some for Jane, like Bekka said, drop $25,000 into Roth IRAs, $25,000 into getting the house paid off that much further, but keep the rest available for anything fun we feel like doing.  Let's see....  Yeah, $115,000 will pay for a lot of really awesome long weekends down in Ensenada, or up in San Francisco.  Yeah, going to The City would work great.  Fly up on Friday afternoon, party all weekend, fly home Monday."
     "$65,000 would also buy a lot of fun.  You don't think we should put more of it into savings and the house?"
     "Not the way Angel has been giving us bonuses.  Don't forget, pally, he just sent you $200,000 a month ago for 'Stroke of Luck.'  That one is continuing to sell like crazy, and 'Succubus' is going to also shoot the moon, I can't wait to see the sales figures for that one.  At the rate we're going, we'll have the house paid off in a year.  Then all our spare loot can go towards retirement savings.  Oh, I was wondering, any ideas for a new feature?"
     I answered, "A couple.  The first would be a comedy-drama about a woman whose long-term live-in boyfriend cheats on her.  They break up, and she goes on a personal journey of self-discovery.  She's never really worked out her own sexual identity, so she starts to make up for lost time.  She seduces the kid who mows her lawn.  She tries personal ads, she tries hanging around a dyke bar.  Sometimes the results are funny.  I'm not sure how it all will be resolved, but she will be happy at the end, and no, she doesn't get back together with her ex.  I'm not sure if I want Becky Page playing the lead or not.  If not, Becky would have a second lead, like in a best friend role.  Maybe give the lead to Tawny, she's paid her dues, God knows.
     "The second idea is really embryonic right now.  What I'm thinking is....  Okay, you know how they'll show people with an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other?  I'm seeing Skye Tyler as an angel, and Becky Page as a devil.  They're full size, and they follow around a woman, probably Ella Belle, giving her advice.  The angel and the devil argue a lot, obviously.  Like, the woman is at the mall and sees a cute guy.  The angel says, 'Oh, he looks like a nice boy.'  Of course the devil says, 'You should go offer to suck his dick' or something equally crass.  And the angel and devil are having an affair.  They can also break out into reality, which really causes problems.  And I want to license the use of the song 'Uncontrollable Urge' by Devo to use in this one.  I think it will fit.  So that's what I've got so far."
     Becky said, "The second one sounds like a lot of fun.  There's some great potential there.  Would I have horns?"
     "Absolutely.  Good ones, too, not just crappy things that clip onto your head.  I'm sure Jeanette would know how to pull off realistic devil horns."
     "Speaking of horn...."  Becky smiled and squirmed in my lap.  "I know how to celebrate the windfall."
     "Do tell," I said.
     "A fat line of coke each, then you fuck me like a slut across your desk."
     "A capital idea."

     "Lenny, you haven't taken your week off yet," Angel said over the phone.
     I said, "No, I'm still waiting to resolve my security concerns here at the studio.  Hint hint, Angel."
     He sighed.  "You still feel that hiring Hell's Angels would be a good move?  They'd do the job?"
     "I think they'd be perfect for it.  The local Angels love us.  They'd actually have some personal pride involved with protecting the studio.  Having them around would mean having dudes who know everyone, and also know how to think cunning, could spot anomalies much more quickly than some straight-laced goof in a uniform would.  Angels are perfect.
     "I priced out rent-a-cop services.  Okay, a single unarmed guard would be a little cheaper for us than what I'm offering the Angels.  But there are problems with that.  To a regular rent-a-cop, we're just another assignment, they could care less.  They wouldn't have the sense of personal commitment the Angels would.  Also, a regular guard has been trained to do one thing: if in doubt, call the real cops.  A guard is going to avoid any interaction or conflict like the plague, and God forbid there's any physical conflict, they're afraid of getting fired and sued, in that order.  A Hell's Angel will grab an interloper by the neck and throw them in the street without a second thought.  If the interloper wants to go crying to the cops about assault, an Angel will just stonewall the cops with a smile on their face.  Never saw that dude before in my life, officer, no idea what he's talking about.
     "Okay, we could pay the extra dough for an armed guard, but far too many of those assholes are disgraced ex-cops.  Violent drunks, dudes who showed up to testify in court reeking of whiskey and insisting that he only beat the shit out of the kid because he was a nigger from Encanto, not just for being a nigger in general.  They're also the type of dudes that would have their personal morality infringed upon by the job assignment, you know?  To them, they'd be guarding a whorehouse.  No, Mutt will set me up with a couple dudes who will take the work seriously and do their jobs well.  $200 a day, six days a week, that's not shabby for what is being asked of them."
     Angel said, "Okay Lenny, okay.  Those two we had doing security at the signings worked out well.  Why not just get those two back?"
     "They're gainfully employed now," I reminded him.  "They got gigs as loss prevention officers and general security with Smut 'N' Stuff down here.  If I have your approval, I can call Mutt and have a couple guys here to interview tomorrow.  I'll stick around for the first week they're on, then take my vacation."
     "Make it happen.  I want the studio secure, and I want you to take your damn time off, get some air in that golden brain of yours.  We're moving 180,000 copies a week of 'Succubus,' and it doesn't seem to be slowing down.  I've licensed the movie to be shown in European theaters, regular cineplex movie houses.  They're installing video projectors just to show 'Succubus.'"
     "Amazing," I commented.
     "So you let that genius mind of yours rest," said Angel.  "You get this security issue resolved, then you spend a week relaxing, no work.  Capiche?"
     "As a matter of fact, I've got a couple ideas right now for the next---"
     "I don't want to hear it.  Make some notes to yourself over the next week, then you don't think about work at all for seven days.  Solve the problems at hand, then relax.  By a week from Monday, I want you as far away from that studio as possible, relaxing and enjoying yourself.  Okay? Speaking of security, how is that girl Terry working out of Bekka?"
     I said, "A dream.  She really gets it, you know?  She's not personally offended by how Bekka and Jane and I live our lives.  Tell me, is Nicky really in Bakersfield?"
     "He is," said Angel.  "The Don cut him a deal.  He stays in Bakersfield for six months, drops the steroids, and develops a better attitude.  If he doesn't, he stays there.  If he's improved, he can come back to LA and join the strike squad.  Better money and better surroundings, and he'll always have someone to answer to.  But Don Ventimiglia was royally pissed at him.  Nobody offends or insults Jane, no matter what her behavior is like.  She could screw the full lineup of the Raiders in one afternoon and the Don would excuse her, and anyone calling her slutty would get offed.  He loves that girl, unconditionally.  Anyway, I'm gonna sign off now, okay?"
     "Ciao, Lenny."
     "Ciao, Angel."  (*click*)
     I called Mutt and let him know our plans were a go.  He already had two guys in mind:  Spike, and an Angel I'd not met before named Goose.  The latter was aptly named, he had a neck like a Masai warrior.  Both were happy with the money they'd be seeing out of part-time gigs, and weren't leches, they would be fine seeing porn stars in various states of undress while inside the mansion.  All of us worked through the week, the Angels getting to recognize faces.  Anyone showing up they didn't know, irregulars like Andy or Tex, would simply be escorted in and have their identity confirmed by one of the regulars.
     I'd decided how to spend my off time.  On Friday I went out to Santee and picked up three ounces of meth, weighed into one ounce bags.  On Sunday I called Crystal in Camptonville to let her know I'd be traveling, and would she mind if I spent a few nights at her house?  I'd make it worth her while.
     Crystal said, "Dude, I'll have the cash for an eighth of your shit, somehow.  If you could bring that I'd be so stoked."
     "Actually, I was just going to give you an ounce in exchange for use of your sofa for three or four nights.  Does that sound fair?"
     "An ounce?" she shrieked.  "Damn, I could go into business for myself!  Oh my god, you're in San Diego, right?  What I could make....  Let's see, the Subaru gets thirty miles to the gallon, I could make runs down there....  How much is an ounce of your shit?  $1200?  Are you shitting me, are you serious?  A whole ounce?"
     "I pay an $900 for an ounce.  And I don't deal.  You want to pick up ounces through me, that's fine, but it's a favor, not business.  Why, are you going to go into business?"
     "Oh my God....  Not even stepping on it, I could clear some serious bank out of an ounce from you, your stuff is prime.  Hold on, sixteen times eighty....  Keeping a teen out for myself, I'd make $300!  Cutting it down a little, I'd make even more, just mix in an eighth of crushed Mannitol...."
     "Getting a little ahead of yourself, aren't you?" I asked.  "I just figured you'd have something to get high on for a while."
     Crystal said, "No, this will work, hold on, I'm doing some math....  Uh....  Fuck!  Lenny!  You said you were going to give me an ounce?  Front me another one, and I'll let you come all over my face any time you feel like while you're visiting.  I can make this work, even cut, your stuff kicks ass....  Oh fuck me, if I turn around two ounces in grams, I'll be ahead then, I'd be able to re-up from you...."
     I squinted.  "One second, back up.  What's this about me coming on your face?
     I could hear Crystal sneering down the phone.  "Come on, you're gonna be the first guy in my life that hasn't wanted to come on my face?"
     I said, "Maybe you have that sort of face, I'll have to take a closer look when I see you again.  But no, I'm the exception to the rule.  First of all, I already have a face to come all over if I want to, my wife's.  Second, after you've seen that done three or four thousand times, the thrill wears off.  You realize just how goddamn weird that little hangup is.  How about I just bring you a second ounce, call it an early Christmas present, and leave it at that?"
     There was a pause.  Then Crystal said, "Dude....  You bring me two ounces for free, you'll have to lock yourself in your car to keep me from sucking your dick as thanks.  When are you gonna be up here?"
     "Monday.  And I know you are now officially looking forward to seeing me, so I'll head straight to your place.  I'll get there around five, you and me and Mojo can get dinner at the bar.  Hell, bring your mom and stepdad too, I like them.  I know they think the bar is expensive, but fuck it, you wouldn't believe the budget I have for partying over those seven days.  I'd tell you, but it would sound like I'm bragging."
     "Now you got me curious," Crystal chuckled.
     "I've got $25,000 to blow, and gambling bores the shit out of me.  I have all this bread and all this time, I have no idea what to do with it."
     "That's easy.  Buy me a car."
     I pondered this idea.  I said, "Tell you what, you and Hank put your heads together and each of you find something you like for five grand each.  You and Hank are both getting newer cars.  And be practical, I will call veto if you decide you want some white trash Bel Air you found for cheap.  I want both of you to have cars that always start when you turn the key, okay?"
     "You serious?" asked Crystal.
     "Yeah.  Call it a six grand cap on each car, that should get you both behind the wheels of decent running vehicles.  I'll see you Monday around five.  Tuesday you, me, and Hank go buy new cars.  I'd make the same offer to Cheetah, but I know he loves that '60 Chevy truck of his.  But go, get off the phone with me and let Hank know whassup, that you both need to find vehicles you like by Monday night.  Okay?"
     "Jesus.  You're giving me two ounces of shit, and you're buying me a car....  And you don't want my mouth or my pussy.  If I hadn't seen you in action before, I'd say you're just yanking my chain, getting my hopes up for your own amusement.  Sure you don't want to marry me?  You treat me better than my ex, better than any man I've ever had.  I'll have the guest room all set up for you, okay?"
     I sighed.  "Yeah, sounds good.  And remember I'm already happily married, and to a fairly jealous woman.  I have lovers besides her, but they have all been arranged through her.  So are you serious about going into business?"
     "Hell yes," said Crystal.  "God, getting a hold of your shit at $900 an ounce?  Compared to what we get around here, cutting in an eighth won't make a damn difference, I'll have people lining up at the door.  I figure I can make midnight shots down to San Diego, pick up on a Sunday or Monday, and keep rotating through stuff.  I can blow through two ounces a week, easy."
     We said our goodbyes and I hung up.  I stared at the phone for a minute, then called Santee, where Chet was minding the store.  I told him I needed to pick something up, a legit amount, and would be out there in an hour or so.  I locked up my office and headed out, letting Gina know I would be gone on a personal errand.  Driving into Mira Mesa, I stopped at Smut 'N' Stuff and blew $200 on a good triple beam scale.  Then I jammed out to Santee and picked up a pound of dope, much to Chet's surprise.  "Going back in business?" he asked.
     "Helping someone else break in.  It's an experiment, to see if someone can pull it off or not.  If they can, I'll have a new customer for you, I'd just as soon stay clear of it.  I know her, I trust her, and I'll make it clear that there is no such thing as a front, especially at that volume.  She'll be coming up from NorCal, and she is duly impressed with this product.  I've had the dope they've got where she is, it's garbage, the most poisonous crank you can imagine.  At the least, this is a mission of mercy for all the tweakers where she is."
     "Where's he from?" asked Chet.
     "The Sierras," I answered.  "I figure this chick can turn around a pound in ounces real damn quick, be up six grand, and just keep making runs down here on her own.  If things pan out, I'll introduce you, Gary, and Boss to her and you can just do business directly.  That remains to be seen, she might be too big of a tweaker to handle business, so I'll run interference until she proves she's reliable."
     "And what are you getting out of this?"
     I chuckled.  "A room to sleep in for five nights.  She lives in the middle of a damn national forest, gorgeous country, and I'm due a week's vacation.  I'll go up to her place and play tourist while she takes care of business.  I'll do some hiking, learn my Gold Rush history, and get porn out of my head for a week."
     "And Bekka don't mind this little arrangement?" grinned Chet.
     "Nope.  Even if this chick didn't have Hep C, she's such a psychological viper's nest there's no way in hell I'd mix with her like that.  I'm just staying at her place, that's all.  She's good people, but kinda fucked up."
     "And she wants to come all the way down here to score?  Why doesn't she go someplace more local?  Where is she?"
     "A tiny town called Camptonville," I explained.  "It's northeast of Sacramento."
     Chet said, "Shit, she should be able to score what she wants in Sac, or Stockton.  Even going into Oakland would be quicker than coming all the way down here."
     "Except she doesn't have a connection up there, and is highly enamored of your quality.  What I saw the couple times I've been up there is a lot of pretty damn foul bathtub crank, the sort of shit that just makes you grit your teeth and sweat a lot.  I know she'll have no problem getting rid of your stuff, it's more a matter of how quickly she does it.  Also it's a matter of how greedy she is.  Me, I wouldn't talk less than an ounce with anyone, $1000 each.  Decent profit, simple turnaround, and able to re-up damn quick.  Fewer fuckin' people knowing you're in business, too.  This chick may decide to move quarter ounces at $300 each.  I'll give her my advice, but whether she takes it is another matter.  I'll keep an eye on her behavior, and if I decide she looks like a bust I won't hook you up.  In fact I'll sever all ties with her, I don't need the headache and I don't owe her anything."
     "Who is this chick anyway?" asked Chet.
     I ran my fingers through my hair and said, "I met her on vacation a while back.  She's, like, the only punk rocker for miles around.  I met her and her space cadet of a sister through another dude I met, a hillbilly I rescued from the side of the road.  Keep in mind this area is all national forest, Camptonville makes Alpine look like a bustling metropolis.  Everybody knows everyone else, including their business, for better or worse.  Anyway, the two girls were looking to score a couple twenty bags, and I obliged them out of what I had with me.  This chick Crystal bangs her dope, and freaked out at my quality.  Every time I talk to her, she begs me to score for her.  I figure if I can set her up in business, she'll be self-sufficient and won't need me to pick shit up for her anymore.
     "How long are you giving her to pay you back?"
     "She isn't.  This is a gift.  She's getting a pound of dope, a new triple-beam scale, and a lot of friendly advice.  I'll be around for about five days, after that she paddles or dies.  And like I said, if I think she's a bust I'll forget I ever knew her."
     "Jesus," said Chet, running his hands through his hair.  "All that for some chick you ain't even sleepin' with.  Come on, what are you getting out of it?"
     I shrugged.  "Like I said, a place to stay for a few nights.  Maybe this is just a social experiment on my part.  I want to see if this chick can actually handle responsibility or not.  She's always talked about how she could clean up if she had a steady line on my dope, now she'll get to find out.  Besides, she's living on SSI and drives a shitbox Subaru, she could use the extra dough.  Hopefully she doesn't blow her opportunity and does all right for herself."

     I took the Falcon again on Monday.  While flashier than the Cadillac, I was less of a visual anomaly in it: Bekka said my punk rock ass looked totally out of place in the Fleetwood, like I'd just stolen it.  Cops might be contemptuous of me when they saw me driving the Falcon, but they wouldn't be suspicious.  Working under the premise that if a cop was searching my car I was fucked anyway, I went to no great effort to hide the pound of meth, tucking it under the spare tire and calling it done.
     Ten or so hours of driving (including forty minutes for lunch, and fuel) I pulled up to Crystal and Mojo's house.  I was an hour early, but doubted Crystal would mind.  Mojo answered the knock on the door, beaming her beatific smile at me and silently gesturing me inside.  She led me to a room, where Crystal was making a bed.  Mojo wandered off, presumably to go stare at things.
     "Is it five already?" asked Crystal.
     "Nope, I'm early," I replied.  "I didn't think you'd mind.  Um, tell me, how good is Mojo at keeping secrets?  She's not gonna be blabbing to everyone that you're in business, is she?"
     "Does she ever blab about anything?  I guess the biggest concern with her is that she seems incapable of telling a fib, for any reason.  If somebody asked her if I was holding, she'd tell the truth.  Why?"
     I told Crystal, "Come out to the car.  I've got something to show you."
     We went out to where the Falcon was anchored, and I got in the trunk.  Lifting the spare out of the way, I grabbed the two bags of dope: the pound bag, and an ounce I was giving to her for sampling.  I had an ounce on me for personal use, and another ounce to give to Hank and Cheetah.  Seeing the pound bag, Crystal's face bounced between shock and disbelief.  I grabbed the scale (still in the box) and handed it to her.
     She pointed at the pound bag and said, "Is that....  Real?"
     I said, "It is.  That is 453 grams, or one pound.  Also there's this ounce bag for sampling out prospective clients.  You said you wanted to go into business, and I'm providing that ability.  I'm giving you seventeen ounces of good product and a new Ohaus triple-beam scale.  While I have some advice and opinions about how you should handle things, ultimately it's up to you to see if things work.  If they do, and I'm not concerned about you being a walking bust, I will introduce you to my connection and the two of you can handle business directly.  He won't move less than a pound at a time, he only provides me with ounces because we're friends.
     "My advice?  Split that pound down into sixteen ounces, and sell nothing smaller.  Get a hold of every dealer you know and tell them you're sitting on quality product right now.  Give 'em a sample, and tell 'em the buy-in price, $1000.  Sell it all at that price, uncut, and you'll be up $6000, not a bad profit.  You can come to San Diego, re-up, and get a motel, not have to turn straight around and go home again.  Wholesaling is the way to go, you deal with fewer people, and they're presumably business-minded."
     Crystal looked slightly pained.  "I'll try to get rid of amounts that size....  Most of the people I know are just moving quarters and grams, so a half ounce would be a pretty big purchase for them.  I'd probably have people asking for partial fronts...."
     I told her, "That is up to you.  You know these people, and can use your best judgement depending on the individual.  I used to sometimes get fronts, but I was an exception.  There had been a couple situations where I had proven myself painfully scrupulous, so they figured I was worth the risk.  Given the product you have, these people are going to want to continue to do business with you, so I doubt anyone would be of a mind to screw you over.  Don't cut the product, and keep prices reasonable, you'll still be turning a good profit.
     "How much will I need to re-up?" asked Crystal.
     "Ten grand.  Industry standard," I said.  "One thing you'll want to consider investing in is a decent safe.  Even if you have to pay somebody to do it, have it anchored someplace out of sight, like in a closet. Having your cash and product secure is more relaxing than having to hide stuff all over the house."
     I had the ounce bag in my left hand, and was gesticulating with it as I spoke.  I realized Crystal's eyes were following my hand like a cat watching a fly buzz around a room.  She finally said, "Let's get inside.  I want to hit that smaller bag.  I hit something this morning, but....  I dunno, it got me wound up but didn't get me high.  Fuck me."
     I said, "Hit off either bag.  Going by dealer rules, the big bag is 5.5 grams over.  My guys weigh to an honest pound, 453.5 grams.  A dealer pound is only 448 grams, or twenty-eight grams per ounce.  If I remember correctly, an ounce is 28.35 grams.  Everyone loses that third of a gram.  You'll find it's the same stuff you've had before.  Want me to chop out a line for Mojo?"
     "Yeah, that'd be great."  Crystal walked into the kitchen and set everything on the table, then stared at it.  She said, "My brain is not processing that I am in possession of over a pound of awesome shit, that I've got some dude setting me up in business for free and he's not trying to stick his dick up my ass or something.  Um, if I haven't said it yet, thank you.  Let me go hit, and maybe all this will sink in.  Here, use this picture to chop out Mojo's line."
     Crystal disappeared in the direction of the bathroom.  I pulled the new Ohaus scale out of the box and quickly assembled it, then dropped a nickel onto the tray and slid the bottom bar.  Five grams, right where it should be, perfect.  I chopped out two lines and carried the picture into the living room, where I could hear a TV.  Mojo was there, transfixed by Ren & Stimpy.  I got her attention, then handed her the drug-laden picture.  Reaching in my wallet, I grabbed a bill and rolled it up, then handed it off.  Mojo snorted up one of the lines and then stared at the bill, a hundred.  She said, "Thank you.  Are you rich?"
     I laughed, and snorted my line.  I said, "I don't know if I'm rich or not.  I'm fairly wealthy, I'm comfortable, and I can't think of anything I want which I can't afford.  Why do you ask, Mojo?"
     Mojo sniffed and said, "Crystal said you are rich.  She seemed worried you were."
     "Why would she be worried if I was rich?"
     "Because she said it meant you were crazy.  She wants to know why you're so generous.  You give us money and drugs and cigarettes and buy us dinner, just because.  She thought you were going to ask her to be with you.  Now she thinks you're going to ask it of me.  She thinks you want to take one of us to San Diego and put us in an apartment and give us money and have sex with us a lot."
     "She thinks I want a mistress," I observed.
     Mojo did her teeth-rattling nodding and said, "Yes, that's what she called it."  She eyed me curiously.  "Why would you take one of us away like that?  Crystal used to talk a lot about how she wanted sex with you, and was upset you wouldn't.  If you want, I'll have sex with you.  You don't need to take me away to San Diego to do that.  But I know Crystal would be mad if we did."
     "Not gonna happen.  I'm married, I love my wife, and I'm not going to betray her by having sex with you, or Crystal, or anyone else.  No, I'm not looking for a mistress, either.  Dammit, I told her the first time we met that I share my stuff because I've got a ton of it, and I run into people who don't have much at all....  Like you two.  Did Crystal tell you I'm going to get a newer car for you two?"
     "Yes.  That was one of the times she told me you wanted sex with her but wouldn't admit it.  But she said you're doing the same thing for our friend Hank, and you don't want sex with Hank, right?"
     "Who's having sex with Hank?" Crystal's voice said from behind us.  She came into the living room with a huge smile on her face.  She'd changed clothes into a leather mini, fishnets, domme boots, a bondage belt, and a wife-beater with no bra.  Every teenage punk rock boy within two hundred miles got an instant hard-on, and had no idea why.  It was obvious she'd hit large, at least .30 gram.  Her pupils were massively dilated, and she seemed unable to hold still, like her bones had turned to gel and she needed to constantly adjust her muscular system to remain upright.
     Mojo said, "I was asking Lenny if he wants to have sex with Hank.  Lenny is buying both you and Hank a car, and you said Lenny wanted sex with you because of it."
     Crystal snapped, "Shut up, you fucking fry-brain."  To me she gave a wobbly smile and said, "Hey, I was just doing some free association out loud.  I know you and Becky are tight.  You gotta admit though, it's one hell of a random gift."
     I decided to let it slide for the time being.  I asked, "So, have you and Hank located vehicles?"
     "We have!  We'll be going to a lot in Yuba City called Geweke [pron. Give-A-Key], we found two three year old Ford Tauruses, the SHO models, the sporty ones.  They're only three years old.  They're $6200 each, but we figured even our shitty trade-ins will be worth a few hundred, and get the price below your ceiling.  Is that cool?"
     I assured her that was fine, and why didn't we go visit Hank and Cheetah?  "Let me put away that stuff in the kitchen," Crystal said.  "I'll hide it up in my closet."
     "Hide what in your closet?" asked Mojo.
     "Nothing, Mojo, none of your concern.  Don't worry your smooth little brain about it.
     We headed out to go visiting.

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