Friday, August 5, 2016

Angels (Part 5)

     Bekka and I stuck around for another forty-five minutes.  Our first signing was the next day, and we wanted our rest.  With our departure, the Angels decided to move up to the front of the stage, so they could shove dollar bills in garters.  I noticed that they drank steadily, but slowly.  They also stuck with watery, low-powered beer like Budweiser and Coors Light.  No spirits.  They would also occasionally get up and avail themselves of the bowls of chips and pretzels sitting on the bar.  Thinking about it, this made sense to me.  Not only were they drinking off their turf, when they left they would have to ride motorcycles on urban freeways at night.  Doing so with a good buzz was a bad idea.

     Terry said she was going to stick around for a while longer.  She followed us out to say goodnight and confessed that she wanted to find out if Spike or John-Boy were attached or not.  "I wouldn't mind hooking up with an Angel," she said.
     "I thought you had something going with the Mongols," I said.
     "Some of them live across from me, and I party with them sometimes, but I ain't affiliated with them.  And I'm not mentioning to these guys that I know them, either."
     "Tensions?" asked Bekka.
     Terry nodded.  "Not a war, but they don't get along.  The thing is, the Mongols claim the utmost respect for every Angel in the state....  Except for these assholes here in San Diego, who are always throwing their weight around, muscling in on turf.  I doubt San Diego H.A.'s opinion of the local Mongols is much higher."
     We stood and briefly admired the putts parked out front.  Terry noted that besides Roach's machine, two of the others were set up for double-packing.  "I wonder where Dawn is tonight," said Bekka.
     Terry said, "Tonight was probably a chapter meeting.  No guests at those."
     "You know, it would be damn uncomfortable for a random citizen to wander into the Hi-Lo on any given night.  Doing so on the night of a chapter meeting would cause them to run like hell."
     "Oh, they'd never have a meeting at their bar," said Terry.  "They'd never discuss business somewhere public.  A chapter will have the meeting at their clubhouse.  If they don't have a clubhouse, they'll find members who live in houses, not apartments, and meet there.  Depending on the number of members, they'll hold the meeting in the living room or backyard.  But meetings are members only, so Dawn is at home.  I'll have to explain to her to not feel neglected.  Roach is a greenhorn, and is expected to be available, to be out in public so anyone who wants to can talk to him.  They won't expect him to be at the bar every damn night after a while."
     We walked to the Falcon.  Terry began brushing her hair in the reflection of a side window.  "Wish I had some damn makeup," she said.
     Bekka offered, "You can use my mascara and lipstick."
     While Terry applied makeup, Bekka asked, "So, gonna talk about work with them?"
     "Probably some, even if it's just me and Roach gossiping.  Of course, that's assuming Roach isn't busy charming the shit out of every dancer in the place.  That boy really is a stud, he loves women, and he impresses the hell out of them."
     I said, "Talk about what it was like being out in the desert making a movie.  That should keep them interested."
     "Do I look okay?" asked Terry.
     "You're fine," said Bekka.  "Go knock 'em dead."
     "Thanks for everything, guys.  Goodnight."

     We got to the mansion around 1:30 the next afternoon so I could check messages.  Nothing of interest.  I fired up the Macintosh and logged into the Becky Page Fans BBS, to see if anything was new.  Out of curiosity, I rolled back to where HogPilot --- Dork --- had posted.  He had responded to Bekka, sort of.
     "Oh, so Becky Page herself hangs around on this BBS?  Yeah right.  If you pull my left leg, you'll hear Christmas music.  Fuck off, clown."
     I showed this to Bekka, who smiled and said, "May I sit in your chair a moment?  I want to use the keyboard."
     She sat down and began clicking away.  I read over her shoulder when she finished.  Her response was, "You ride a Dyna Glide with a blue and red tank,  you have thick glasses, you like teenage girls, and your breath stinks.  Would you like to tell me again who I'm not?  Kisses, Becky."
     "Well, that should fuck with his head," I commented.
     At 1:45 I heard Harleys in the driveway.  I stepped outside, and sure enough, Cisco and Peewee had arrived.  "We didn't want to be late," said Peewee.
     They were still peeling off their gloves when another putt came rumbling up.  Boss had arrived.  As always, he got to the top of the driveway, turned his motorcycle around, and backed it through the archway, across the small patio, leaving it by the front door.  I said to Peewee and Cisco, "You guys know Boss?"
     Cisco said, "Yeah, we know him.  Don't know if he knows us, but we know him."
     Boss walked out the archway and took in the two Hell's Angels staring up at him.  He stuck his hand out and said hello; introductions were made.  The vibe I got was one of guarded trust.  We had a job to do, we would be working together, and Lenny had said the other parties were righteous.  I'd made it clear to Cisco and Peewee that Boss and I had experience at the task ahead, so they could ask us questions.
     Peewee said, "So we're bouncing, huh?"
     Boss replied, "Yeah, it's real simple.  If a girl's hand goes up, the guy in front of her leaves, we march him out.  We're not knocking heads, we're just ejecting them.  If somebody takes a swing at you, that's another matter, go ahead and drop 'em.  Beyond that, though, I don't care what somebody says about your mother, just get 'em out the door, that's all."
     Cisco asked, "How many, uh, interactions do we expect to have?"
     "Depends on where we are.  Today, there may be one or two idiots.  Last time we were at this store, there was just one, but it was a motherfucker with a knife, some tweaked out sumbitch.  Lenny and I grabbed him, then held him in a back office for the cops.  Fuckin' tweaker hadn't slept for eight days, and thought one of the girls was Satan.  He was gonna kill Satan.  Dipshit.
     "Fresno was the worst, we had to get eleven people out the door, all of 'em Messicans.  They seemed to think the girls were hookers, and would proposition them with what little English they knew.  I knew it was gonna be a fun day when we had two girls raising their hands at the same time.  Least them Messicans are little fellers, me and Lenny just grabbed one each and tossed.  But then again, in Long Beach we had three stores to work, and didn't have to get a single person out at any of the three.  Them sailors mind their manners, I guess."
     "Are we the only security?" asked Peewee.
     Boss said, "Yes and no.  There'll be four other dudes there, but they're just Smut 'N' Stuff employees picking up some extra hours.  They're there more for crowd control and spottin' shoplifters.  We're there specifically for the security and comfort of the girls.  I'm sure if somethin' ugly broke out they'd jump in and lend a hand, but they take care of the crowd, we take care of the girls."
     Cisco said, "I know Lenny here is married to Becky Page.  Either of the other two girls single?"
     Boss gave a tiny smile that meant he wasn't amused at all, and said, "Well, I'm dating Ellen --- Skye Tyler to you --- and I don't know about Rita.  You know, Lenny?"
     I said, "Not a clue.  Rita, Rita Vison, is a sweet Mexican girl who's been with Inana for a few years, but just started performing.  'Bewitched II' is her first feature, and she's been a hit.  I know that she doesn't tell many people what she does for a living where she lives.  I guess in barrio culture, being a porn star is no better than being a hooker.  She's a homegirl, but also is pretty contemptuous of lowrider culture.  She listens to 91X and goes dancing at trendy white clubs when she goes out.  Totally up in the air if she's dating anyone or not.  That's not why you're here, anyway."
     Cisco shrugged and said, "Just curious, just curious."
     "Hey Lenny, is Angel gonna be around?" asked Boss.
     "Yeah," I answered.  "He'll meet us at the store.  He'll be here tomorrow, then be at the Balboa store on Sunday.  Smut 'N' Stuff wanted to do that store on Sunday so they're not pissing off the neighbors again."
     Ellen and Rita arrived within sixty seconds of each other, with the limo showing up two minutes later.  Introductions were made, the Angels being mannerly.  The girls went inside to say hi to Bekka and grab a soda.  When the limo pulled up, I went inside to tell the girls it was time to saddle up, and who wanted Ecstasy?  The offer was accepted by all three, who were also running with the valid assumption that excellent cocaine would be available at the store beforehand and during the break.  The girls, Boss, and myself all got in the limo, and the Angels fell in formation behind us.
     As we rolled, Rita looked at me and said, "Lenny?  Hell's Angels?  Really?"
     Boss snickered, and I said, "Yep.  We needed more security, and they're right for the job."
     Rita said, "Ay.  I know their bar, the Hi-Lo on National Avenue.  It was a cholo bar.  Then one day, the Angels show up, all of them.  For over a month, nothing but fights, fights, fights.  Los cholos finally give up, now los Hell's Angels have the place.  Too scary."
     Bekka said, "Huh.  Didn't know that.  Me and Lenny have actually been to the Hi-Lo, and met a bunch of Angels.  We were a guest of Roach."
     "Porqué you go there?"
     "It would seem I'm quite popular with the Angels, they're big fans.  And as a new member of the club, Roach wanted to do a little bragging, show off that he was friends of Becky Page.  Everyone was quite nice, for the most part.  I posed sitting on top of a lot of motorcycles, and didn't pay for a drink all night.  We had a good time."
     Rita queried, "Roach is sweet, why he want to be a Hell's Angel?  They bad, bad men."
     I said, "Actually, they recruited him.  Roach grew up in outlaw culture, his parents are bikers.  He says he knew he'd hold a patch with some club sooner or later, and was surprised when the Angels approached him.  But for an outlaw, having H.A. telling you they want you to join is incredible flattery.  Roach knew he'd be with a club, and now he's with the biggest and best."
     "Don't you worry none about these boys," said Boss.  "They'll do what I tell them, and they ain't about to start any shit.  They're here to do a job, that's all."
     "They've taken their gig seriously so far," I pointed out.
     We arrived at the store in Mira Mesa to find it was a mob scene, just like last time.  The line of fans went out the door, wrapped around the building, went through the parking lot, and ran out onto Miramar Rd.  When the limo pulled up in front of the doors, Cisco and Peewee went around, hopped the curb, and anchored against the wall of the building.  As we were getting out, a Smut 'N' Stuff employee was approaching the two, to tell them they couldn't park their bikes there.  He approached with trepidation, he'd seen the patches on the backs of their denims.  I jogged over and cut him off.
     I told the Smut 'N' Stuff worker, "It's okay, they're with us.  They're part of the security team for the girls.  Look, I know there are no parking spots left, and they're here to work.  You wouldn't want them to have to park those bikes on Miramar Road, would you?"
     The clerk said, "Well....  I guess not...."
     I gently whacked him on the arm and said, "There ya go.  They're not hurting anyone parking there.  You know if Angel Morelli is inside already?"
     "Yes, Mr. Morelli is here, he arrived about ten minutes ago."
     "Great.  We're gonna have one quick smoke, then we'll be in, okay?"
     I joined the little cluster on the sidewalk.  Everyone had cigarettes in their mouths.  Looking over at the line of fans, I saw plenty of people staring, but none of them moved to approach us.  The three girls were surrounded by three bikers and a punk, a formidable obstacle.  After we finished our smokes, I led everyone into the store and straight to the office.  I knocked on the door, which was opened a crack.  Angel peered out at me, then he swung the door open and invited us all in.
     I introduced Peewee and Cisco to Angel.  He was cordial enough with them, although he kept throwing glances my way.  I had told him I was bringing more security with me, but I hadn't said who.  After a minute of random chat, Angel invited everyone, girls first, over to the desk for a line of coke, already laid out.  I did mine last.  Me and Bekka huddled in a corner with the glass pipe.  After a few minutes Angel approached and said in a low voice, "Fucking Hell's Angels, Lenny?  You're kidding me...."
     Bekka said, "They're good guys."  I handed her the pipe.
     "Angel, I've interviewed them, and I've talked with their chapter president.  They're taking this seriously, they're great for this gig.  Cisco and Peewee are tough, they're not dummies, and they are looking forward to getting paid $200 a day to stand around in porn shops.  They'll do what me and Boss say, Boss especially, they know who he is and respect him.  Don't worry about a thing."
     "How the hell did you find them?" Angel asked.
     I said, "Well, you know my newest stud, Roach?  The kid?  They recruited him, he's a member now.  He invited me and Bekka down to their bar.  Roach was showing off a bit, sort of bragging that he was friends with Becky Page.  Angel, those guys are massive fans of both Becky and our movies in general.  We hung around for a few hours, Bekka signing lots of autographs and posing for lots of pictures.  Everyone was exercising perfect manners all night.  Bekka had a brainwave and told them to have their president call me.  I told him I needed a couple guys, and why, and he said he'd hook me up.  He did."
     "So now you owe a favor to the Hell's Angels."
     "No.  If anything, Mutt, their president, probably thinks he owes me.  Because of me, he's got two of his members who were unemployed getting a little money rolling in, at least for a couple weeks.  Peewee and Cisco are grateful to Mutt for the referral, and Mutt is grateful to me for helping out a couple of the brothers.  It's all good, a mutually beneficial situation."
     Bekka handed me the pipe and said, "I'm fully aware of the reputation the Hell's Angels have.  But I also know Roach is a friend, and wouldn't put us in a bad situation.  Angel, these guys were perfect gentlemen.  I posed for pictures on a lot of motorcycles, and they were ecstatic.  Hell, I wish more of my fans were like them.  Yeah, reporters from the Union-Tribune would be shocked to learn I wasn't raped and Lenny wasn't beaten up, but it wasn't like that at all.  They're fans, they're cool with us.  Lenny and I are probably going to go down and hang out with them again.  They're good people."
     Angel said, "Lenny, if they don't work out---"
     I cut him off.  "If they don't work out, I call Mutt and get them replaced with guys who will.  And Cisco and Peewee will probably get an ass-kicking for screwing over Inana like that.  Don't worry.  There is no situation to worry about."
     "All right, all right," Angel said, putting up his hands.  "I've trusted your judgement in the past, and things have always worked out.  Look, it's a quarter of right now.  If it's all right with the girls, I wouldn't mind getting this show rolling early."
     "Fine with me," said Bekka.  Angel went over to speak with Ellen and Rita.
     "Amazing," I said.  "You'd think that a career criminal would see the wisdom of hiring other career criminals to take care of a job."
     Bekka giggled.  "Yes, but the career criminals we hired aren't wearing Italian suits and have funny nicknames.  And they carry Buck knives instead of Berettas."
     "I'm just glad Angel didn't ask me what their real names are.  I don't have a goddamn clue; it somehow felt rude to ask.  If it doesn't come up, I'll ask them by the time we're in Long Beach."
     "Should we tell him the kid nicknamed Roach now has another nickname, and the new one is even better?"
     I said, "I'll leave that one up to you, he'll take it better from you.  I probably should warn Roach that I'm not crediting him as 'Fucker' in any of the videos.  Having a credit of 'Roach' is bad enough."
     The door to the office burst open and Terry sprung in.  "Fuckin' a, I'm not late, am I?" she asked the room.  She was out of breath.
     "You're just in time," I said.  "You okay?"
     "I had to park a half fuckin' mile down Miramar Road.  The lot here is full, and there's fuckin' cars lined up all the way down the street.  I ran here, hoping I wasn't too late."
     "Let me introduce you to a few people, then we're gonna start."  I walked her over to where Cisco and Peewee were passing the time with Boss and made introductions.  I said, "Terry is Becky Page's personal protection, she'll be right behind Becky.  She'll assist in any major problems, though."
     Peewee said, "So is there anything you won't hire us outlaw scumbags to do?"  Him and Cisco burst into laughter.
     I looked over, and confirmed what I thought I'd caught out of the corner of my eye: Angel had been staring slack-jawed at Terry since she came in.  I walked her to him and introduced her, explaining that she was going to be Bekka's part-time bodyguard.
     "Pleased to meetcha, sir," said Terry, still getting her breath back.
     Angel got his mouth in a more dignified position and said, "And where did Lenny find you?"
     "In Ocean Beach.  I'm friends with Dawn, the fluff girl."
     I said, "Terry also fluffs two days a week, Sunday and Monday.  Angel, do you think a lawyer would be of any use in helping Terry get her concealed carry permit?"
     "Unless you're planning on suing the county if they turn down the application, no," Angel said.  "If San Diego is like LA, no one else can be in the room with you during the interview.  And they bust you for perjury if you lie on the application forms."
     "Duly noted," I said.  "Shall we get going?"
     "Terry, be a dear and give me a whistle."  Terry stuck a couple fingers in her mouth and shattered the air in the office.
     I said in a loud voice, "Okay, let's do this.  Girls, head straight for the tables, any order you feel like, it makes no difference.  Terry, follow Bekka and stand a few feet back from wherever she lands.  She is your responsibility.  Cisco, Peewee, stand to the opposite side of where the line starts.  You keep your eyes on the girls.  If a hand goes up, you know what to do, just don't hurt 'em.  Boss, sort of hover between the doors and the middle of the room.  You can also watch the girls, and also keep your eyes and ears peeled for any conflicts starting between fans in line.  If guys are taking too long, wanting a conversation, give 'em a tap and move them along.  I'm gonna be at the head of the line, watching for trouble in that direction, and enforcing the instructions of the line-minder.  They don't get to crowd him.  Okay?  Let's go make a bunch of chronic masturbators happy."
     I opened the office door and everyone began to file out.  As soon as the girls appeared, applause broke out from the people in line.  Beside me, Angel leaned into my ear and asked, "Lenny?  What should I do?"
     "Go relax in the office.  We've got this locked up, stomped down, and bleeding from every orifice.  Or go outside and glad-hand random people in line, PR work.  Let them know the girls are looking lovely, and ask them if they're looking forward to the new release.  Maybe get a feel for how many are here for the new release, versus just because Becky Page or Sky Tyler are appearing.  Hell, go to the deli one strip mall down and get bottled water for the girls."
     Angel gave me a crooked grin and said, "You've been doing this long enough that you're starting to get cocky."
     I gave him my own crooked smile and replied, "Gee, I wonder who I learned that from?"
     I introduced myself to the line-minder and gave him instructions.  "Let them through three at a time.  There will always be a back-up in front of Becky, don't let it get more than five deep, and hold the line until it's down to one or two.  The monstrous guy over there will hustle people along if they're taking too long, trying to chat up the girls.  Anybody that wants to push you around has to push me around first, and I don't push around easily.  You ready?"
     I looked over to see everyone giving me expectant looks.  I said in a clear voice, "Okay, let's do this."  The line-minder let the first three through, who naturally all aimed at Bekka.  He let three more through, who dispersed among the three tables.  And so we were off.

     Four hours later the last fan walked away with his signed copy of "Bewitched II."  At spot on seven I'd stationed Peewee out front to shoo off late arrivals.  The girls sat back in their chairs, massaging their writing hands.  I checked with the cashier: they'd started the day with 350 copies of "Bewitched II," there were now twenty-nine left, probably not enough to get them through the next day.  The girls stood and stretched, everyone was walking around in small circles to stretch their legs, including me.  It finally occurred to us that our jobs were finished, we didn't have to stay in our assigned areas.  We all headed for the door so we could smoke.  I gave Cisco, Peewee, and Terry their $200 each, plus an extra twenty, telling them to go home and order a pizza.  They could take off for home straight from the store.  They smiled with genuine gratitude, Terry giving me a kiss.  Cisco and Peewee confirmed: two o'clock Sunday at the mansion, we'd be playing the same game again, only in Kearney Mesa.  "Spot on," I said.  "See you there."
     There was just enough action to keep us from getting bored and complacent.  Both Ellen and Rita had guys walk up to their tables and wordlessly pull their dicks out.  No clue what they were trying to accomplish, perhaps they hoped the girls would start sucking on them, out of force of habit.  No such luck.  Both times, Ellen and Rita raised their hands, Peewee and Cisco grabbed the guys and threw them out the front door, dicks still hanging out.  (In retrospect, I'm amazed we didn't get more of this sort of behavior.)  One dude got his signatures from Ellen and Bekka, then stopped in front or Rita, looked at her, and reached out and grabbed a boob.  Rita simultaneously raised her hand and punched the guy in the face.  Cisco, who had seen it happen, strode over, grabbed the guy by the wrist, and yelled, "Motherfucker, I ought to break your fingers!"  Then he just stared into the dude's face for about five seconds.  The dude's bottom lip began to quiver.  Cisco spun him around and quick-marched him out the door.
     Something I noticed was that both Cisco and Peewee would routinely slowly turn in a circle where they were standing.  At first I thought they were just stretching their legs, then it struck me: they were showing the colors.  A clever move.  From the front, they looked like any other outlaw bikers.  But then people would take a gander at the backs of their jackets, reading "Hells Angels/San Diego" with the winged death's head in the center, and come to the obvious conclusion that these were the worst people to possibly fuck around with.  Only misery awaited.
     Even Terry saw a bit of action.  A guy was giving Bekka the usual spiel about how he loved her, that they should be together, yadda yadda.  Boss was just starting to wander his way to get him to move on when the guy grabbed Bekka by the shoulders and started to lean forward to kiss her.  Terry stepped up, grabbed him by the throat, and threw.  I swear the guy got some loft.  He landed on his ass.  Boss picked him up under the arms and disposed of him, giving a wink to Terry as he dragged the guy out.  Terry winked back.
     Angel took my advice on all three suggestions.  He started off by going outside to the line and approaching people at random, saying, "Hi, I'm Angel Morelli, the owner of Inana Productions.  Are you looking forward to seeing the new feature?"
     Everybody was, of course, and Angel would continue on.  "So, are you a Becky Page fan?  Are you looking forward to seeing her?  All three girls are looking lovely today, Becky, Skye, and Rita.  Oh, Rita?  She's a new addition to our little family, beautiful, talented, and very sexy.  She has two scenes in 'Bewitched II,' you won't be disappointed, she's stunning.  So what is your favorite movie of ours so far...?"  And on like that, just engaging people, keeping them distracted from the hours-long line they were in.  After an hour or so, Angel walked to the deli and bought three bottles each of Evian and Perrier.  He delivered these to the girls, who were grateful.  Then he disappeared into the office for ninety minutes, exiting to go outside and glad-hand some more.
     As Boss and I watched Peewee and Cisco pull into traffic, Boss said, "Them boys are all right.  They were right on top of things, and they weren't tryin' to rough nobody up."
     "Were you expecting them to?" I asked.
     Boss said, "Shit, the Angels have the reputation of bein' top dog, the baddest motherfuckers on the planet.  Sometimes they feel like they gotta prove it.  They gotta let people know they're there, too.  You notice they kept turning their backs on the line?  They just had to flash the colors, let people know H.A. is around."
     "Yeah, I was wondering about that."
     Bekka walked up and tugged at my sleeve.  She wanted the pipe.  I was just reaching in my pocket when some schlub wanders out of the parking lot and jerks to a stop in front of Bekka.  His face brightened, and he said, "Holy shit, you're Becky Page, aren't you?"
     "Yes, that's me," Bekka smiled.
     "Could I get your autograph?" the schlub asked.
     Bekka stared at him in silence for a few seconds, then said, "I will kiss you full on the mouth if you will forget about having me sign an autograph.  No tongue action, but I will kiss you on the mouth."
     "Umm...." said the schlub.
     "I'll even let you grab my butt for a couple seconds, how's that?  Just no more autographs.  I hate the sight of my own name at this point.  I just want to abuse drugs, then go home and have dinner.  No more fucking autographs...."
     I tapped the schlub on the shoulder and said, "She's had a long day."
     "What?" said the schlub.
     I pointed up at the advertising marquee on the top of the building, which read "BEWITCHED II OUT NOW -- BECKY PAGE / SKYE TYLER LIVE TODAY."  I said, "She really does just want to abuse drugs and have dinner at this point.  Get me?"
     We both looked over to Bekka.  She was staring down at the cigarette between her fingers as though she had no idea where it had come from, or what it was for.  The schlub said, "Um, I'm going to go inside now.  I hope she's okay."  He began walking toward the door again.
     Bekka yelled, "I want drugs and I want dinner, in that order!  Is that too fucking much to ask for?"
     The schlub increased his pace to a trot.  I handed the pipe to Bekka.  She thanked me.
     I said, "I think we upset that man."
     Bekka replied, "Good, I'm glad I can still upset people.  When I was a kid I could do it by taking all my clothes off.  These days I do that, and people just want to hand me money."
     "Go abuse drugs, dear," I told her.
     "Back in a jiffy."  She aimed for the doors of the porn shop, where she got five dollars worth of tokens and locked herself in a viewing booth to get high on methamphetamine.

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