Bekka and I cut out to help improve Goose's reading situation. Working on the premise that he would not be big into Danielle Steele or James Patterson (or People) we skipped the gift shop and headed to a liquor store we knew that had one hell of a news stand. We picked up copies of Iron Horse, Outlaw Biker, Cycle World, Car & Driver, Road & Track, Esquire, and Penthouse. Debate was had about whether to get him a copy of Hustler or Gallery, but we decided those would wreak havoc on his already low blood pressure.
We arrived back at Goose's room seconds before the end of visiting hours. Two nervous-looking nurses came in to let us all know we had to leave for the night. I asked about bringing in a VCR to hook up to his TV. Inana seemed to collect VCRs the way the floor of the back seat of the Falcon collected empty cigarette packs. The nurses couldn't provide an answer. They could think of nothing wrong with the idea, but had never run across anyone wanting to bother. I took a look at the back of the TV and assured them I would be back the next day with a playback unit and the correct cables, I'd make it work somehow. Bekka and I had shelves and shelves of movies, many of which were not pornographic.... Although we'd throw in a couple of Inana features, like "Dangerous Desires" and "Succubus." Goose could host screenings for all the ambulatory patients in his wing.
Heading out to the parking lot, Whistle suggested it was time for a beer or three. Sounded great to us. I invited them to the bar at the Seafarer, which would be quiet on a Tuesday night. Roach called Dawn and told her to meet us there, then led Mutt and Whistle towards the snazzy watering hole. Both Dawn and Roach were on a seafood kick, for health reasons. Dawn believed fish was good for the blood. Roach was sure it increased his sperm count. Such is the life of a porn stud. I'm hard pressed to think of any other jobs where the appearance of one's bodily fluids comes into play, or is judged by so many people.
We walked into the bar, pulled two tables together, and slumped down. Trish, while improving, was still in a tizzy worrying about her man. The three Angels just seemed vaguely depressed. Someone had filled one of the brethren full of lead, and it would be a while before true justice was served: a savage, sadistic beating. The bar was about half-full, and nobody screamed at our presence. Nonetheless, our waitress --- who surely recognized Bekka and me --- seemed rather skittish while taking our orders (five Budweisers, two Johnnie Walkers). We got our drinks and lit cigarettes.
Everyone was working on their second drink when a woman's voice behind us said, "Bekka? Lenny?" We turned, and there stood our neighbor Joan Keillor, unwillingly accompanied by her husband Grant. He was eyeing the Angels as though trying to stare down a scorpion, hoping nobody made any sudden movements. We gave Grant and Joan handshakes and hugs, and briefly introduced them to the others.
With his usual friendly demeanor, Roach said, "We got a couple extra chairs, have a seat."
"Yeah, park your carcass," said Mutt, sliding out a chair.
"Most kind of you," said Joan, and sat down. Grant had gone bug-eyed, but somehow managed to force his skeletal system to adapt to the contours of a chair. Joan was seated between Roach and Bekka, while Grant had landed between Mutt and Dawn.
"So, what's new around here?" asked Joan, all smiles. By my guess, she was working on her fifth Tom Collins, and was not drunk, but definitely feeling it.
Mutt answered her. "A friend of ours got shot this afternoon, and is laid up in the hospital. He'll live, and should recover okay, but still.... If we seem a bit subdued, that's why."
"Goodness! What happened?"
"He was working for me," I responded. "He works security for the studio, and we had a psycho rabid fan show up with a gun. The crazy bastard was going to eliminate any resistance in his quest to meet Becky Page and Skye Tyler face to face. I got my arm creased --- no biggie, like twelve stitches --- and managed to run the bastard down. So now one dude is in the hospital, and another is in jail. I don't think either one of them figured their day would end the way it did when they got up this morning."
Bekka said, "It was another creep who wanted to confess his love for me. Actually, me and Skye both, he decided he was in love with the two of us. He thought he could convince us to form a perfect little menage a trois, we'd live happily ever after. He could be the sex slave of two porn sluts. It's days like today that make me wish I'd stayed middle class and boring. I've never wanted to inspire such feelings among my fans, or anyone. It makes me sad that I am the root cause of tragedy."
"Shit, ain't your fault," said Whistle. "The dude was a psycho. If he hadn't worked up a big head of steam over you, it would have been over some other chick in porn, probably. Or some Hollywood broad. I seen your movies, and you're awesome. No wonder you're so popular. This motherfucker today was already a nut, and he just happened to to pick you to obsess over."
Joan put her hand on Bekka's arm. "Bekka, he's right. You truly are amazing in your movies, you're a fantastic actress, and in your, um, naughty scenes you make everything look so natural and beautiful. We've seen all your movies now, and I've loved them. It's strange to think, wow, here I am watching one of my neighbors.... You know.... but at the same time it feels like a normal thing. That's what it is. You make wild sex look totally natural, and intimate."
Roach said, "I've said it before, Bekka is capable of conveying emotion during her fuck scenes, where the viewer gets caught up in what's going on. I won't lie, it's a little intimidating to work opposite of her."
Looking at Roach, Joan said, "Oh, hey, I thought I recognized you! You played the lone scavenger in 'Succubus.' You're young! I was wondering though, how do they make you look so.... Big?"
"What do you mean?" asked Roach innocently.
"Okay, maybe Lenny might have the technical answer. Lenny, how do you get the guys', you know, things, to look so big? It it perspective, or angle, or special lenses?"
In a voice tight with tension and stress, Grant said, "Honey...."
I grinned at Joan and said, "You're asking why Roach's dick looks so big on screen."
"Exactly!" said Joan.
Both Bekka and Dawn burst out laughing and blurted, "Because it is!"
Suppressing giggles, Bekka said, "Roach here is blessed --- or cursed --- with a really huge penis. It's the sort of cock that some women would run screaming from, and others would step on their mother's heads to get access to. I've seen both reactions. When you see Roach's dick on screen, what you see is what you get. He's a big boy. All the girls at Inana learned to rehearse a bit with Roach so he's not causing them any undue pain or stress. There are no camera tricks, the boy just has one hell of a crank. God knows I've worked with it enough."
Joan looked at the nineteen year old next to her with slight awe, then said with you-can't-fool-me smile, "No way. There has to be some trick, I've never seen one like that in my life, not even when I was in college. You're funning me."
"What do you want us to do, prove it?"
Sighing, Bekka got up and stood next to Roach. She looked across the table and said, "Dawn, do you mind if I fluff your boyfriend? It'll make things go faster."
Dawn and Trish both giggled. Dawn said, "Go for it, girl. Make him bend steel."
Roach slid his chair out some and sighed. With a small smile, he said to Bekka, "You know, this is the last job in the world where I thought I'd be taking work home with me."
Bekka patted Roach on the shoulder and dropped to one knee, right next to him. She said, "This won't take long, just settling an argument. Whip it out, homeboy, lemme make it hard."
Roach pulled his soft dick out the fly of his pants. Bekka bent down and got it in her mouth, working away. Roach breathed slowly and deeply. Bekka, who had the oral ability to turn a Vienna sausage into a hot link, didn't need much time. Within thirty seconds Roach said, "I'm maxed," and leaned back slightly. Bekka leaned away and said to Joan, "Well?"
Joan looked down at Roach's lap. The look she got on her face was priceless. Her eyes swelled to saucer size, her eyebrows shot up to her scalp, and her mouth formed a perfect O. She made a long, slow gasp.
"Welcome to my working day," said Bekka.
Roach said, "This is different from my working day. Everybody is used to me or something, they could care less. I've never had anyone go catatonic on me.... Ma'am, are you all right?"
Joan finally looked up at Roach's face and said, "Can I.... Touch it?"
"Umm...." started Roach.
Dawn smirked across the table at Joan and said, "Sure, sweetie. Twenty bucks."
"Oh, for Christ sake, Joan," moaned Grant.
Joan took her purse off her shoulder, extracted her wallet, and pulled out a twenty, which she slapped down in front of Dawn. Dawn looked at the bill, then at Joan and said. "You get to handle it for one minute. No jacking, no sucking. That's my toy. Deal?"
"Deal," replied Joan. Dawn scooped up the twenty. I glanced at my watch.
Joan wrapped both hands around it and began.... exploring. She regained her look of amazement she'd had, and studied Roach's dick.
Whistle said, "Jesus Christ, Fucker, is your dick made of heroin? What the fuck?" Everyone except Joan and Grant burst out laughing. Bekka sat back down next to me, took a sip of her drink, and gave me a kiss.
Several moments passed in silence. I looked at my watch again and said, "And.... Time."
Roach removed Joan's hands and said, "I'm putting it away now. See? It is real. And it's only a dick, just a big one, nothing to get upset over. Why don't you go play with your husband's dick?"
Looking at Dawn, Joan said, "You and him.... Get together? You're a tiny thing! How do you even....?"
Dawn gave Joan a confident look and said, "I have many hidden talents. That dude there gets to know what some of them are. They're something I only share with those I love, okay? But I satisfy him, and he satisfies me. It's still just a dick."
Grant stood from the table and loudly announced, "We are going home now. Come on, Joan, you've had too much to drink, you're acting reckless. This was a little funny when it started, but just keeps getting more and more sick. Let's go."
"But I want to...." started Joan.
Bekka said, "Girl, go with your husband. You're being a bit manic. See, what just happened didn't mean a thing to anyone here. We were just allowing our jobs to spill over into our leisure time, and that is a rarity. You and Grant head home, maybe take a night swim to clear your head."
Catching on, Mutt said, "It's only a dick, lady. Go home."
Grant and Joan departed, heading swiftly out the door. Trish said, "Okay, that was really goddamn different. Becky, I heard about you measuring Fucker in front of Peewee and Cisco. Do you two pull shit like this all the time?"
Bekka responded, "Only when we need to make a point. With Peewee and Cisco, we needed to prove to them that our bodies are viewed in a very objective manner around a porn studio, and that what may appear to be raunchy behavior actually means nothing to those taking part. With that woman just now, well, she saw 'Succubus' and was amazed by Ro-- Fucker. I think she's got some undiscovered size queen in her. All we wanted to do do was prove that a big dick is still a dick, and so what. I didn't expect her to wig out the way she did. Yeah, she was way more fascinated than I ever would have expected. I figured she'd see it and get scared, go hide in the bathroom or something."
I said, "I don't measure up to Roach, but most men don't. Bekka has been dealing with big dicks her whole career, longer than I've known her. What they did just now doesn't bother me because Bekka and Fucker were in professional mode. The actions were meaningless. Bekka performed an act on Fucker that prompted a stimulus response. That's all there was. I'm confident enough to know that my wife is perfectly happy with my dick. I feel sorry for Grant right now, he's gotta be feeling all kinds of insecure."
"I wonder how the motherfucker who shot up Goose measures up," pondered Trish. "He's probably fuckin' tiny, and knows it. That's why he's gotta use a gun to get things done."
"I'm just glad that what went down did where and when it did," said Bekka. "That way, Goose had access to a full surgical suite, and IV antibiotics, and an anesthesiologist, and whole blood, and all the other little benefits of modern medicine."
"As opposed to what?" asked Mutt. "I'm confused."
I said, "As opposed to surgery being done on a kitchen table in someone's house. Being performed by a self-described 'freelance trauma surgeon' who learned his trade in Vietnam. No blood, no autoclave for instruments, the surgeon is just winging it when it comes to anesthesia, and he carries all his instruments around in gym bags. Okay, he is a licensed doctor in California, but that is constantly hanging by a thread because he's pretty reckless with his prescription pad. I had a hole blown in my left foot by a guy with a .380 revolver. Not only did I have to drive from San Diego to Los Angeles right afterwards, the treatment of my gunshot wound was exactly how I just described: a rather glib Vietnamese doctor who got his training in a fucking rice paddy, patching up gunshot soldiers. The guy is actually damn good, considering the limitations he works with. He'd probably be a damn millionaire if he had a legitimate practice."
Roach said, "Why didn't you just go to a regular hospital?"
"Because I had to take care of business, and the guy who shot me was one of the pieces of business. I've mentioned who I'm associated with. It was that kind of business. There was no way of going to a real hospital without the cops getting involved. ERs always report gunshot wounds. We didn't need the police up in our business, so my capo took care of it for me. He got the surgeon --- his name is Doctor Liu --- to come to his house at eleven at night so he could fix my foot. Well, it healed fine, so I shouldn't complain. The good doctor wrote me a prescription for a hundred Dilaudid to deal with the pain, about seventy-five more than any other doctor would have given me. But by God, the service was fast, private, and paid for by my capo."
"You could have stonewalled the cops," said Roach. "You could have just told them you were walking down the street when a shot came out of nowhere. What could they have said?"
"Except that I had to deliver someone to LA after being shot, the guy who shot me. I'd figured out how he was doing the family wrong, and it was up to me to bring him in. Going to a hospital would have meant letting him go, and we might not have been able to get him back again. Even with a hole in my foot, I had to take care of business. And to be frank, I didn't feel like dealing with an emergency room in Los Angeles in the middle of the night. My capo said he'd take care of things, and he did."
Mutt said, "Shit, you mafia types play rough, huh?"
I said, "In a way, we're like the Hell's Angels. We are fine with peace. But if you cross us, you will pay. The big difference is that when it comes down to it, the mafia is an umbrella for a bunch of business enterprises. They're illegal, but they're still business. Shit, if the Libertarians came into power, the mafia wouldn't know what to do. All of a sudden what had been criminal activity would now be legitimate business ventures. Drugs, prostitution, loan sharking, gambling.... Hey, it's all legal now. The mafia would have to play one lean and mean game to stay on top. Our guns would rust."
"So is the studio a mafia business?"
"Yes and no. Inana Productions is owned by a member of the mafia. However, it is run as a legitimate business. Inana doesn't launder money, we're not a front for prostitution, we don't warehouse drugs, we're totally clean. Fine with me. Heh, Inana is actually a source of great pride within the family. Not only is it massively successful, we're the one who turned the world's hottest Sicilian girl into a superstar. No, Inana is only mafia because of the associations the owner holds."
"And the mafia doesn't mind you hanging around us Hell's Angel dirtbags?" chuckled Whistle.
"No," I replied. "The family knows I have chosen my loyalties, and will stick with them. My capo was rather surprised that I was hanging around, but accepts my judgement when it comes to dealing with people. Having Angels working for Inana seemed like a perfect fit. Up until today, it was. Mutt, I totally understand if you want to no longer work with Inana. You guys signed up to be security, not targets in a shooting gallery. I can figure something else out."
Mutt shook his head. "We won't run. You've already had one shooting at the studios, it was a million to one that it would happen again. We managed to beat those odds. But now probability says it's even less likely to happen again. Don't worry, Spike ain't going anywhere, and I'll have somebody else there come Sunday, they'll replace Goose until he's ready to go back to work."
"I was thinking....." said Dawn. "Maybe what the studio needs is an ID card system. Everybody connected with Inana gets a special picture ID made. We'd just have to flash them at whoever is watching the door."
"We could do that at any Kinko's that takes passport photos," said Bekka. "Yeah, official IDs is a good idea."
I said, "I'm thinking about a one-way intercom system, a microphone near the outer entry and a speaker in my office. I'd be able to tell when a stranger has shown up just by the conversation. If I'd heard the exchange between Goose and David Schultz, I would have been out there a lot sooner, because I'd have known our gunman was lying through his teeth to Goose. He told Goose he was Skye Tyler's brother. Goose smelled bullshit right there, since Skye Tyler is not her real name. This clown actually did know her real name, god knows how. But Skye is an only child. If I'd been there, I could have called the bastard out on that. Me and Goose could have double-teamed the bastard."
Bekka and I went home and turned on TVs. I set up the VCR in the bedroom to record the news on Channel 39, and we would watch the Channel 8 news downstairs. We found we were the lead on both, and they were nearly identical content-wise. Channel 8 started off: "Adult video studio Inana Productions was the scene of another shooting today. Raymond Alfonzo has the story."
"For the second time in as many years, this quiet La Costa neighborhood was disturbed by the sound of gunfire. It took place at Inana Productions, the producer of breakthrough adult films such as 'Bewitched,' 'Temporary Pleasures,' and 'Succubus.' A fan, identified as David Schultz, used a gun in an attempt to enter the studio. He shot Baxter 'Goose' Long, a local Hell's Angel who had been hired by the studio as a guard. Inana C.O.O. Leonard Schneider returned fire, apprehending Schultz a mile away. Baxter Long was transported to Scripps Encinitas, where he spent three hours in surgery repairing his leg. According to both the sheriff's office and witnesses, the shooting was the act of a deranged fan, who wished to come in contact with Becky Page and Skye Tyler, Inana Production's two biggest stars. We spoke with Becky Page."
A disembodied voice asks, "Do you fear your fans?" And Becky Page replies, "I have a concealed carry permit for a Colt Defender, and I never leave the house without it. I can protect myself, and have in the past. Unfortunately, this is not the only obsessed fan I have.... I don't want to be obsessed over, and I don't want to be worshiped."
"We also spoke with studio head Leonard Schneider...."
And there I am saying, ".... we got this clown, who claims he only wanted to meet Becky Page and Skye Tyler.... He shot an unarmed man, totally unprovoked, then took a couple shots at me. Okay, he's a rabid fan. Still doesn't explain why he brought a gun, much less shot someone with it for no apparent reason...."
"We also spoke briefly with the shooter, David Schultz. We asked him why he had shot Long and attempted to shoot Schneider. He had this to say about Leonard Schneider...."
With slightly muddled audio, we see Schultz in the back of a sheriff's car saying, "I hate him, I wish I'd killed him. Then Becky would be free to do what she wants, she wouldn't have a scumbag like that dictating her every move. He's just trash."
Reporter Alfonzo says to the camera, "Becky Page and Leonard Schneider are married. In the world of Becky Page fandom, it is sometimes suggested that the marriage is either a sham or completely fake, also that Schneider sequesters Page from the public. Today at least, one fan learned how hard it really is to get an audience with Becky Page. Back to you in the studio."
The talking head said, "Inana has also been the scene of two other shootings in the past three years. In one, a disgruntled former employee shot studio co-owner Vinny Morelli, and was in turn shot by Leonard Schneider. In the other, an anti-pornography crusader gained entry to the studio armed with an AR-15 assault rifle. He was repelled by Schneider and Becky Page and arrested. Schneider was shot several times in the incident, but recovered from his wounds."
The second pile of clothing at the desk said, "Does this neighborhood have a homeowner's association? If they do, I know what will be discussed at the next meeting."
And the first one replied, "If they don't, I'll bet they're considering forming one."
I stood up from the sofa, walked into the kitchen, and began to chug-a-lug Johnnie Walker straight out of the bottle. It seemed like the only sensible response. Bekka walked up behind me, took away the bottle, and did the same thing.
Then we just stood in the kitchen and held each other for a long, long time.