Once again, on Sunday Bekka and I were early at the mansion. We wanted to make sure Angel was moving around, and to check the BBS for any gossip about Friday's signing. We walked in and went to the office, to find Angel already occupying my desk, staring at the screen of the Macintosh. He was reading a post on the BBS with rapt fascination. Looking up, Angel gave a crooked grin. He looked tired.
"Hey, Angel, reading the board?" I asked.
"Yeah. I started last night, with the intention of trying to catch up on all the posts put up in the last couple months or so. I fell asleep down here around four, and dragged myself upstairs. I woke up around ten and started reading again. Jesus Lenny, these people are insane, they're obsessed with Bekka...."
Bekka said, "No. They're obsessed with Becky Page. Becky is a different person than me. We share a body and a brain, but I am not Becky."
I said, "It's true. There is a definite split. In certain situations, like dealing with groups of fans, I'll look into Bekka's eyes and realize that I'm looking at a different woman, that Becky Page is piloting Bekka's body. I can call them up separately and get different responses to the same questions. I have two wives in one body."
"Fortunately, they do collaborate," Bekka continued. "Becky is the one who tells a group of Hell's Angels that she wants a hug from each of them before she leaves, and Bekka will concur. It's good PR and it will make them happy. Bekka handles signings for the most part, taking a bit of advice from Becky. At signings us girls have to remain detached from the fans. Becky would love to interact with them all, and give them hugs, but Bekka knows that is impossible, unless signings lasted for fourteen hours. Becky and Bekka rarely argue, thank God. Each one knows the other's skill set and lets the other one take charge, depending on the situation."
"So you're saying you have a split personality, dissociative disorder or whatever it's called?" asked Angel.
"No. Each one is fully aware of the other's thoughts. There are no blanks in memory, each is fully aware of the thoughts and actions of the other. Bekka is the super ego, and Becky is the alter ego. Bekka maintains ultimate veto power over decisions either one makes. But our interests, our methods of communication, and even our mannerisms are distinct from each other. Very, very few people would notice the differences. Lenny does, but that's because he knows Bekka so well.
"One example would be that Becky is an incorrigible voyeur. Despite our career, Becky loves watching people have sex. Bekka is unimpressed, but when the opportunity arises, allows Becky to come forward and enjoy the show. If it were up to Becky, we would have a lot more porn, from a lot more studios, in the house. We'd sit in on shoots all the time. Bekka knows how much time would be wasted on this pleasure, and since she holds veto power, it doesn't happen. Becky will always petition to indulge her voyeurism, but Bekka makes sure it won't interfere with other parts of our lives before saying yes."
Angel looked disturbed. "So you can jump back and forth between two personalities...."
I said, "Hey Angel, watch this." I looked Bekka in the face and loudly said, "Hey Becky!"
Bekka's eyes blinked and her face shifted, ever so slightly. "What's up, sweetie?" she said with a smile.
"On Tuesday, if you want, I'll tell Roach that we want to visit the bar again with him, if that's all right. Whenever is convenient for him. Is that cool?"
"I'd love it. I wanted to talk to the mamas last time and didn't get a chance. Now, those are women with a unique view of the world."
I looked over at Angel. He was staring at Bekka/Becky with a look of horror in his eyes. He said, "Her face.... Her smile...."
I said, "Tell Angel who you are."
Bekka/Becky grinned and said, "Becky Page, live and in the flesh. Angel knows who I am, we've known each other for years."
"Becky, go away, I want to talk to Bekka."
The eyes blinked, the face shifted. Bekka said, "Yeah, the bar will be fun. I don't know if I'd ever want to go without Roach, though. And talking with the mamas will make quite the anthropological study. Although I'm sure Becky just wants to hear these women share gross stories."
I turned to Angel and said, "Well? What do you think? I have two wives, apparently I'm a Mormon and never knew it."
Angel looked slightly ill. He said, "I need a fucking drink. Lenny, say there's alcohol in this house."
"Sorry man, I don't have my flask with me. You can ride with us and raid the mini bar if you want, or there's a liquor store up the street from the store today."
"How do you live with it? Bekka, how do you live with it?"
Bekka answered, "Pretty easily, actually. My mind is not fractured or fragmented. It's just that each ego grew increasingly strong and independent. The same mind is shared by two personas, one dominant but quiet, the other smaller, but brasher, more outgoing. And to answer in Lenny's stead, I've made it clear to him that no matter who is at the controls, he is loved. Bekka and Becky both passionately love their husband, would never do anything to hurt him. And I remind him that he is not shared, we are one."
"Being able to call Becky forward freaked me out at first," I said. "Then I realized, it was actually a convenience. I am able to get the unfiltered opinions of either one, on any subject."
"What are you going to do about it?" asked Angel.
Bekka asked, "What needs to be done about it?"
I said, "Angel, I know it's creepy at first, really disturbing, but you get used to it. At this point I'm comforted knowing they're both there. Bekka is there when I want intellectual stimulation, or to hold hands walking on the beach. Becky is there when I feel like partying until six a.m., or want a handjob while I drive. Since they are just different dimensions of the same person, they complement each other quite well."
"Maybe you should both go to a shrink," growled Angel. "Bekka, you've got a split personality, and Lenny, you don't see what the problem is."
"I said before, it is not a split personality," said Bekka. "I am not two separate people. It's just two aspects of the same personality that have become independent of each other. I do not argue with myself.... Although I will give Becky grief when she suggests an idea even she thinks is stupid. Bekka and Becky share the same taste in clothes, music, cars, motorcycles, sex, and husbands. They may be able to speak independently of each other, but they are still the same person."
"Bekka and Becky have switched places in front of you before, I'm sure," I said. "You never noticed before because you didn't know to look for it, and because it was still the same woman you'd always known, not a stranger. Okay, Bekka's feeling gutsy and rambunctious right now. That's how you wrote Becky off, just part of Bekka's personality. And that was correct, it is. Remember, Bekka is the super ego. She's the ultimate arbiter, the one who ultimately calls the shots. She is always in charge. It's just that there are situations, like being mobbed with fans at the mall, where Becky is so much better at handling things. So she will take the controls for a while. But Becky cannot assume the controls without Bekka's permission, not really."
"She's tried," said Bekka. "The first night Jane and Roach spent together, Becky wanted to go to Jane's room and convince her and him to let Becky watch. I told her, absolutely not. She tried to get my body out of bed and down the stairs. Remember, you commented on how fidgety I was. You wrote it off as an effect of the Ecstasy we took. No, that was me and Becky wrestling over the controls."
"This is all too scary," said Angel. "I can't believe you two are happy with your current situation, whatever you want to call it. You both need help."
I said, "Tell you what, Angel. On Wednesday you, Angela, Bekka, and me will have dinner at the trattoria. You are not allowed to breathe a word of any of this to Angela, total silence. On Wednesday, I guarantee you Angela won't notice a damn thing, but you will, because you know the tells, and so do I. All we have to do is start talking about sex, and Becky will be there. Or we could just go to the Galleria, where Bekka --- Becky --- will surely be recognized by fans, and approached. You will definitely see the change there. Heh, thought of another difference. Both Bekka and Becky swear at me in Italian when they're pissed off at me, but Becky really uses her hands to talk, like a Sicilian. She waves her arms and gestures when she gets going."
Just then the doorbell rang. I went to get it, and it was who I expected, Cisco and Peewee. They both looked a little under the weather.
"Come on in, you guys. Um, are you two okay?" I asked.
Peewee said, "We got into the Old Crow with our women last night. Thought I was gonna crack a rib from pukin' so hard."
"Lenny, you might have a cure-all on you," said Cisco. "Would you happen to have that glass pipe on you? And something to put in it?"
I grinned and said, "Let's go to my office."
Stepping in, I said to Angel, "You remember Peewee and Cisco. They got drunk last night, and now they're hung over. I am going to attempt to rectify the situation by administering drugs." I loaded the pipe, melted it in, and passed the pipe to Cisco. He hit and blew a big white cloud at the ceiling. He passed to Peewee, who hit.
"Okay, I can see a ray of sunshine," said Cisco.
The pipe went around a few times, Angel abstaining as always. After about our fourth hit, Bekka and I gestured to Peewee and Cisco that we were fine, for them to keep going if they wanted to. They wanted to. Angel sat on a task chair in the corner and observed them. No doubt he was concerned about the effects of a powerful stimulant on dangerous criminals. He didn't realize that a meth high actually makes the user feel with it, together, cool, a bit mellow. You're more sure of yourself, which is the primary reason I started taking the crap in high school.
Ellen and Rita came in, saying hi to everyone. Rita took in the two Angels and her eyes got wide. Now the bad bad men were abusing some esoteric drug before going to work, and Lenny was doing nothing to stop them. They finally passed the pipe back to me, saying it was dust. I melted a fresh load in, let it cool, and stuck it in my pocket.
Boss came in, announcing the limo was right behind him. He was running behind, for him. "Be glad we ain't gittin' on the 8," he said. "Goddamn zoo, dead stopped."
Peewee and Cisco gave Boss a strange look. "You're on a putt, just lane split. It's legal in California."
Boss gave a slightly embarrassed grin and said, "Well, there's a problem. Becuse of my height, I've got kind of a funny riding position. I ain't got noplace to put my legs. Long and short of it, if I lane split, I end up taking off rear view mirrors with my knees."
Cisco and Peewee both got looks on their faces like they were holding back farts. "You aren't kidding, are you?" asked Peewee.
"Nope. And go ahead an' laugh. It is pretty funny, I jist hate that it's me."
Cisco and Peewee broke into peals of laughter, leaning on each other on the sofa. Me, Bekka, and Angel were chuckling. Rita looked confused. Ellen said, " Baby, you didn't hurt yourself, did you?"
I answered the doorbell again. It was our limo driver, and I was happy. We had Harris back, a fireplug-like black guy with nerves of steel and the seeming ability to feed a bowling ball through a garden hose: he seemed to make his limo fit through spaces where there was no space. "Mr. Lenny!" he said. "Pleased to see you."
"Glad seeing you, Mr. Harris. Let me gather everybody up."
I went to the office and told everybody it was time to vacate, the limo was here. I locked up the office. I asked Peewee and Cisco if they just wanted to ride in the limo, considering their condition.
"I'm feeling great," said Cisco. "My putt is staying with me."
Peewee said, "Me too. Damn, that was some rocket fuel you got. Where's it from?"
I chuckled and said, "Hey Boss, where do I get my dope?"
Boss rotated his head and deadpanned, "From me."
"And what is it?"
"The goddamned best."
Peewee and Cisco nodded knowingly. One said, "Maybe we should talk a little business over the next couple weeks. It might be worth your while."
Boss asked, "Would you be representing yourself, or the club?"
"The club. I don't have a stake, I'd have to sell my putt to get one, and that still wouldn't be enough for the volume I want. Unless you are extremely trusting with fronts."
Boss said, "Lenny's about the only damn one who ever got fronts from me, and he'd make good on 'em ahead of schedule. Have Mutt gimme a call, I'll work with him if it's club business."
"You're moving volume, right?" asked Cisco.
Boss softly grinned. "My starting buy-in price is ten grand, and that's straight out of the lab. You tell me."
"We should discuss this someplace more private-like," said Peewee.
We pulled into the parking lot of the Smut 'N' Stuff on Balboa. Once again, the line was all the way up to Convoy St. Looking around, I was amazed: Terry's Nova was already there, sitting in a space. Since I believed the line had probably started growing around ten in the morning, I had no idea how she'd managed to swing that. She met us at the door.
When I asked, she explained, "Yeah, I been here since about eleven. I checked in with the guys here and told them who I was, and that I was going down to the Gun Range to work out. Dude, the fuckin' Gun Range has guns for rent! I rented a Beretta 92 like yours, bought some ammo, and paid for a lane. I went through about 200 rounds, with a ten-shot clip. I'm getting some better points. Check this shit out."
Everyone else headed through the store to the office. I followed Terry out to the Nova. She reached in the passenger side and pulled out a used paper target. Looking, I realized the ten-spot --- the bull's eye --- had seven holes in it. The other three were nines. I'd be lucky to do that from three feet away.
"That was my best one, so I saved it. Damn, I never knew shooting was so much fuckin' fun. They have weekly shoot-offs for amateurs, and the dude at the counter said I should definitely enter, with the points I get. Basically, I hung around the Gun Range and drank coffee and fired the gun and shot the shit with the clerks. They were like you, they couldn't believe I was new at this."
We went and caught up with everybody in the office. Angel had laid out coke, and the lines for Terry and me were the last two left. We snorted up. Angel drifted over to us and asked Terry, "Have you ever done any protection work before?"
"Oh, fuck no," replied Terry. "I was just as fuckin' confused as you are when they told me what they wanted me to do. Really, I think I can handle it. Lenny told me who I'm watching out for, and he ain't mentioned anything I can't take care of. Creeps and pissed off wives, fuckin' great. But Lenny said that for the most part I'd just be getting paid to hang out with Bekka all day, three or four days a week."
I said, "I've already told you her qualifications. Another one is that she won't be disgusted and offended by the way Bekka, Jane, and I live our lives. She will be a massive improvement over Nicky. He thought he had to clear a path for us when we were out in public. Terry won't be annoyed and panicked by small herds of Becky Page fans spotting us at the mall. Speaking of, Terry, do you play pinball?"
"Fuck yeah, I love pinball."
"Then we'll get along just fine. Bekka, Jane, and I go to the UTC mall on Thursday evenings, have dinner in the food court, then me and Bekka play pinball for a few hours. Jane just sort of hangs out, UTC is where she met Roach. Because of its proximity to Miramar Naval Air Base, the arcade always has groups of squids who are too young for the bars. They're massive Becky Page fans, and so Bekka does a lot of autographs for them. This freaked Nicky, hopefully it won't freak you. Those sailors are some damn mannerly dudes."
Terry said, "Wow, the mall. I ain't been to a mall since I don't know when." Quietly, she said, "Might not hurt me to go, I could buy some clothes. I don't need to look like a scooter tramp every fuckin' day of the year."
I called for attention, and said, "Okay, the layout here is pretty much identical to Friday's. Everybody take the same positions and do the same great jobs. Last time we were here, there were some headaches, we had a mess of stalker types hanging around. Keep your eyes peeled for people who are just sort of loitering. Tell them they either gotta go shopping, visit the viewing booths, or get lost. I don't know why, but the line here is either longer or slower than in Mira Mesa. This may mean that at seven o'clock, there will be disappointed fans still outside. The in-store security will do their best to run them off. We need to watch out for people trying to bum rush the door, to who knows what end. Also, this store seems to draw more creeps. Always keep one eye on the girls, and also follow your instincts. If you see a dude that looks sketchy to you, there's no reason why you can't be right at the tables while he's getting his signatures. We're security, we go where we damn please, and if you're getting vibes off some dude, feel free to keep your thumb on him until he leaves.
"Lastly, because of an incident last time, me, Boss, and Cisco will be going out to clear the parking lot just after seven. We want no one loitering in that lot, they're trespassing and I'll stand on their necks until the cops pick them up if that gets the point across. I don't want to have to engage in subterfuge and running just to get the girls in the limo. We'll be clearing the area, for our own piece of mind. Any questions?"
Peewee said, "Yeah, is it okay if we take ten minutes to run to the liquor store?"
Angel glanced at his watch and said, "We have twenty minutes to go. I'll run up with you, to get some water for the girls."
Rita raised her hand and said, "I actually have a question for Bekka. What you say to men who ask you to marry them? That happen to me twice yesterday."
The whole room laughed softly. Bekka said, "I'm lucky, I can point across the room at my husband. What you should do is just smile and say, 'Sorry, I'm seeing someone,' even if you aren't. If they want to have a debate about it, don't raise your hand, but call for Boss, who will get the guy moving on. And for God's sake, don't decide he's cute and take him up on the offer!" The whole room laughed.
Angel, Cisco, and Peewee took off for the liquor store. We were allowed to smoke in the office here, so everybody lit up one last time before the games started. I finished mine and went outside. Due to its routing, the line was about forty deep inside the store. I introduced myself to the line-minder and gave him the same spiel as yesterday: three at a time, don't let a big crowd gather around Becky, keep it moving, and if anyone wanted to play games, they'd have to play against me. Leaving him for the time being, I wandered into the office again and took off my denim. The store was warm with all those bodies in it. At the "Temporary Pleasures " signing I'd gone through the day with my jacket off and my shoulder holster visible. I figured it would make a good stupidity deterrent.
The three returned from the liquor store. Angel had Evian and Pellegrino for the girls, plus a Mountain Dew for me and a Sprite for himself. Cisco and Peewee bore one liter bottles of Coca Cola and also a Dr. Pepper for Terry. I loudly asked, "Any objections if we get this show on the road?" No one minded. "Then let's roll."
We went out, and the girls were greeted by applause. Everyone got in their places, and I told the line-minder to let the first through. Within five minutes I remembered why things moved slower at this store: everyone wanted to have a conversation with Becky Page. Boss gave up on his initial position and just stood a little off of Bekka, constantly having to get people to move on. Proposals for dinner and marriage flew thick and fast for both Bekka and Ellen. Except for about five loops, this was the first thing Rita had ever appeared in, so fans were unsure who she was. They got her signature, along with the other two, but seemed to be more polite than awed. Rita took this semi-rejection in good grace.
The first ejectee was some fraternity-looking clown who walked up to Ellen, bent down, and offered her $500 if she'd suck his dick. Ellen didn't believe her ears, and asked him to repeat it. He yelled, "I'll pay you to suck my dick, bitch!" loud enough it could be heard outside. Cisco was already moving by the time Ellen got her hand in the air. The frat-boy realized he had an angry Hell's Angel bearing down on him and attempted to flee.... Into the viewing booth area, which is a dead end. Realizing he was cornered, he yelled at Cisco, "Back off, man, I know karate!" and did a couple of kicks he'd learned from watching Bruce Lee Theater on TV. On the third kick Cisco grabbed the frat-boy's ankle and lifted it high in the air, dumping the frat-boy on his back. Cisco grabbed him by the belt and began dragging him towards the door, the frat-boy kicking and flailing the whole way. Boss opened the door, and Cisco dumped him outside. Through all this, the frat-boy never lost control of one thing: the videotape he'd just bought.
We had three more dick-wavers and two more grabbers. The dick-wavers had me confused. It wasn't just my eyes, the girls confirmed that all of these guys were totally limp when they whipped it out. It's hard enough to impress a porn star with your dick, but she can't even express an objective professional interest in something that's flaccid. What these guys were up to, I don't know. Peewee and Cisco got rid of them so fast the girls couldn't even say if they were circumcised or not.
This time, we managed to get through the crowd, no disappointed fans. At seven me, Boss, and Cisco went out to the parking lot. Harris was already sitting there, biding time. Also biding time were about eighteen twitchy-looking guys who were all keeping an eye on the limo and studiously ignoring each other. I idly wondered if they were all devoted to Becky Page, or if Skye Tyler (Ellen) would make a great runner-up prize. I walked forward and yelled, "Hey assholes! You're all loitering, and you're all trespassing. Get the fuck out of this lot and go home."
Thirty-six eyes jumped between me, Cisco, and Boss. They didn't seem to know what to think. They just knew that sooner or later, their goddess would emerge and head for the limo. And then they'd.... Well, they hadn't worked things out that far, but inspiration would strike. The stalkers seemed more confused than anything by the arrival of two outlaw bikers and a punk who was yelling about trespassing. Who ever heard of trespassing in a parking lot?
The stalkers just stood there. "How you wanna handle this?" asked Cisco.
I said, "Fuck it, I'm not in the mood to be diplomatic. Let's just bulldog 'em one by one and throw 'em into traffic."
Boss called, "Fine, we're draggin' ya out one at a time."
Cisco suddenly said, "Hang on, I gotta tie a lace." He turned around and knelt on one leg, tying a boot. While he was doing this, one of the stalkers scurried off, giving us a wide berth. A couple more fled. By the time Cisco was on both feet again, all the stalkers were trotting for the sidewalk, heading up the street. We hadn't even walked a step forward.
Boss said, "They done took off like spooked deer. What the fuck?"
It struck me. I slapped my forehead and said, "When Cisco was tying his boot, they saw the colors. They really were spooked. A Hell's Angel and his two friends coming after them, one on one? Say goodnight, Gracie, we'd just leave puddles of DNA, not even teeth. Very clever thinking, Cisco."
Cisco smiled lazily and said, "Well, on occasion a well-known reputation can actually save you a lot of work and effort and bother."