"Hey, look over there," said Bekka, pointing down the bowling alley.
I looked. There were four guys wearing H.A. colors at one of the lanes. Closer inspection revealed them to be Cisco, Peewee, Fatso, and Hinge. There were four girls at the lane next to them, all obvious biker babes, although I didn't recognize any of them. No surprise there, Roach and I were considered anomalies because we brought our women with us to the bar. I glanced at Terry. She looked a bit disappointed, as basic math indicated there were no single Angels. Jane looked happy. She would be, Fatso was there. She liked the rail-thin, slightly older Angel for his relaxed, friendly demeanor, his brains, and his lack of lechery. We walked in that direction.
We stood on the dais above the lanes. Once Peewee had bowled his frame, Jane called, "Hey Fatso!" He spun to see who was calling his name, along with the others. He smiled and waved for us to come down. Upon seeing me, both Cisco and Peewee howled and charged at me full speed. I wasn't sure what to expect, so I just braced myself and waited.
They were happy to see me. They both tried to squash me with aggressive bear hugs at the same time. I told them I was happy to see them too, and, uh, what's up?
Cisco said, "Dude! Because of you we're working! Smut 'N' Stuff is hiring both of us as security and what they call 'loss prevention monitors.' Basically, we watch for shoplifters and keep the closet faggots from trying to fool around in the viewing booths. They liked how we handled things at their stores, so they called up your boss, that dude Angel, to see if we had anything going on. I'm just glad we gave him our full names and phone numbers, in case anything ever came up again. So now we're both pullin' full time, nine an hour, employee discount, and medical after three months. Fuckin' medical,dude. I'll finally be able to see a fuckin' dentist."
I considered this last bit of information. Medical insurance seemed like the sort of white bread concern Hell's Angels would never waste the energy on worrying about, relying on emergency rooms for their health needs. Then again, Peewee and Cisco both appeared to be in their early thirties, an age when the more mundane realities of life begin inflicting themselves on even the most rebellious of us. Bekka and I carried Kaiser Permanente cards, which we could afford on our own without the backing of an HMO. Between her being stabbed and my being shot, it had proved to be more than worth it.
The four of us were ushered over to meet girlfriends, all of them long term. Debra was with Cisco. Joan was with Peewee. Ginger was with Fatso. Claudia was with Hinge. Hands were shaken all around. All the Angels' girls seemed intrigued by the new arrivals, recognizing Bekka immediately. Jane and Terry were treated more warily: obviously, they couldn't be with the punk rocker, Becky's husband. (Little did they know.) Jane's teenage sex bomb look --- she was wearing her lucky patent leather bustier --- would probably have them on guard for a while, making sure Jane's wiles were not aimed at their men.
It looked like a busy night, but the lanes on either side of the Angels was unoccupied. Me and the girls went up to get shoes and rent a lane. After receiving my size twelves, the counterman told me there would be a wait on a lane, my name would be called when one was available.
I pointed and said, "What are you talking about? Twenty-two and twenty-five both look unused, put us on one of those."
The counterman rolled his eyes and said, "Yeah, well, there's Hell's Angels using twenty-three and twenty-four. I'm not putting anybody next to them, no way. I don't want no trouble."
"Yeah, I know there's Hell's Angels down there," I told him. "I know those guys. Hell, I hired a couple of them. Put us on twenty-two."
"You're no biker," the counterman said suspiciously.
"You're right, I'm not. But I've always gotten along with outlaws, and like I said, I know these guys. For Chrissake, the four of us drink at their bar all the time. Now put us on twenty-two. I'll pay ahead for ten games."
The counterman scowled, and caught the scowl of the three girls right back. "I don't want no trouble," he repeated, but went ahead and rang me up for the games.
As we selected balls, I said, "Don't tell the guys about that idiot. No sense in him getting hassled just because he's paranoid."
We went down to the lane, I punched names into the overhead display, and we started. All three lanes bowled slowly, as everyone socialized. Debra and Joan came over and thanked me personally for getting their men employed. Both worked at Kragen Auto Parts as cashiers and parts pullers. They'd been supporting Peewee and Cisco on seven bucks an hour, begging their managers for as many overtime hours as they could get. Between the gig with Inana and their new jobs, the pressure was off. Both expressed a mild interest in maybe, possibly, doing a bit of work for Inana. Not having it become a career, just knocking out a single loop every week each. $750 for four hours work? Who do they gotta kill?
Bekka and I gave them the usual lecture about Inana's hiring practices, that for a porn studio, we were a right pain in the ass to start working for. It wasn't just a mechanical suck and fuck session in front of the cameras, we wanted genuine performance. And how did Peewee and Cisco feel about this potential part time job?'
Joan and Debra looked at each other. Debra said, "Um, they're cool with it, just so long as we're not working with Fucker. That would be a little too weird for them."
"And that's a big problem," I said. "I cannot and will not segregate my performers like that. Sooner or later, you'd be partnered up with Fucker. That's just how it goes."
Bekka said, "We've talked about how objective things are on a porn set with Cisco and Peewee. Fucker is a total professional. He and I have performed together on several occasions, and it doesn't matter. Me, him, and my husband are all friends."
Joan said, "I get the impression that it's not so much that they know Fucker, it's that Fucker is a fellow Angel, you know?"
I rubbed my chin. "You're both saying you only feel like doing one loop a week? Okay. If you pass your interviews, I can steer you clear of any direct interaction with Roa-- Fucker. You might be on the same sound stage with him, but there would be no physical contact with him. That's the best I can say." I went to bowl my frame.
Bekka intercepted me on her way to bowl her own frame. She said, "They may call, they may not. They asked about the guys being there, and were disturbed when I laughed at them. I explained that 'closed set' means closed to everybody who isn't directly involved with production. We don't give a shit who their boyfriends are, nobody is on set except cast and crew. If they're worried about anything weird happening, they could talk to Terry, or Roach's girlfriend Dawn, both of whom are there eight hours a day. This mollified them some, but they still seem concerned."
I drifted back that way, and saw they had already collared Terry. I edged a little closer and could hear Terry saying, ".... Nothing like that at all. When they're working, it's all fuckin' business. They're all pros. Believe me, most of the time I ain't got fuckin' shit to do except sit there and watch what's going on, I'd notice anything funny like that." Terry noticed me and called me over. "Hey Lenny, these two are worried about you whoring performers out on set," she said with a laugh.
Putting my face in my hands, I said, "Oh Jesus. No. No. I don't have the time or the inclination to be running any hustles like that. Everything is strictly on the level, running a prostitution ring holds no appeal to me. It's your frame, girl."
Between games I went and got beers for everyone, Budweiser long-necks all around. During the initial quaffing, I cast a casual eye on the people around us. We were the source of interest for five lanes in either direction, everyone keeping half an eye on the thugs and criminals in the middle of the alley. I wasn't sure what was expected: perhaps a ball return to be set on fire, or a motorcycle to be ridden onto a lane, rubber squealing. I put them out of my mind. It was a mellow night.
Three games and three beers later, Bekka nudged me. I'd brought a bunch of the Ecstasy, why didn't we share it? I told her this was a capital idea, and handed her the bag. We pulled a hit each for ourselves, then Bekka began circulating, handing out pills. She commented later that nearly everyone waited until after they'd swallowed the damn things before asking what they were. They were happy with the answer. Everyone had received their Ecstasy and were about to return to play when Roach and Mutt walked up. Roach had Dawn in tow, and Mutt was with a café au lait colored girl I'd never seen before. She was willowy yet stacked, and strikingly beautiful. The noise level around our three lanes increased with their arrival.
Bekka approached them and said, "Ecstasy?" Roach and Dawn made gimme-gimme noises. Mutt looked at his and grinned gently. "So, you're just handing out free Ecstasy?" he asked.
"It costs us nothing, so yeah," I said. "This is some of Boss's stock. He shares his extras with us."
"Ah yes, there's the smiley face," said Mutt. "I've wondered about this stuff. Well, down the hatch." He dry-swallowed the pill, gesturing at his girlfriend to do the same. I briefly considered the two of them. Mutt was pushing forty, and had been shepherding around his band of losers for eight years at that point. The stress had weathered his face. To me it spoke volumes about his charisma that he was with this beauty. I was curious about how the two had met to begin with.
Mutt seemed to have read my mind. "Bubbles, this is Lenny, Becky, Jane, and Terry. This is Bubbles. She is proof that if you see a young lady standing by a broken car, you should always stop and offer her your assistance. Magic can happen. Bubbles, Lenny runs the studio you thought you might be interested in working for. I'm sure you recognize Becky."
I said to Bubbles, "Tell me, are you Brazilian?"
"Why yes, I am," she smiled at me in a familiar accent.
Terry chuckled and asked, "So do all Brazilian chicks have, like, really fuckin' huge amounts of hair? She's got as much hair as that chick Rio does."
"You know a girl named Rio?" asked Bubbles. "Where do you know her from? She lives in Leucadia, yes?"
"That's her," I said. "She works for me at Inana."
Bubbles found this hilarious, laughing long and loud while the rest of us looked confused. "Now I know why she would never tell me where she worked!" she cried.
"Why is that?" queried Bekka.
"Her father is an Episcopal bishop in Rio de Janeiro. I do not think he would be happy with her doing such things for a living!"
Mutt proposed it was time to go rent shoes. "I'm guessing we'll have to just squeeze on when you all start fresh games."
I leaned in and said, "Lane twenty-five is open. The dude at the counter is a bit of a fucko, he had the lanes on either side of Peewee and Fatso and everybody vacant, keeping those dirty Hell's Angels sequestered. Tell him you have it on good authority that twenty-five is vacant, and cough up."
"Got it." He, Roach, and the two girls went up to get shoes and a lane, then came down to find balls. Before they started, he and Roach went and retrieved beer. When they settled into their lane, the two retiree couples on twenty-six packed their bags, changed shoes, and took off.
About twenty minutes later, Bekka and I stepped out to the Falcon for a few hits off the glass pipe. We paused outside on our way back in to light cigarettes. Standing there, I heard a couple steelworker types talking. I caught one saying, ".... And now there's six of them, plus their women. They're all drinking beer, shit's gonna go to hell soon."
"So what do you suggest?" asked the other one.
"Divvy up pool cues from the game room an' clear 'em out. We can get rid of them."
I looked at Bekka, and saw the change: she shifted into Becky, and Becky looked a bit pissed. She walked up to the hardhats, me trailing behind.
"Excuse me," Becky said, "Are you speaking of the Hell's Angels?"
"What of it, missy?" asked the first one.
"I'm curious why you think attacking them would be a good idea."
The second one said, "This is a nice peaceful family bowling alley, and we'll keep it that way. We don't want them here."
Becky said, "You are incredibly stupid men. First of all, they've done nothing wrong. They're not even talking loud. They're here to bowl, just like everyone else, a nice quiet evening with their girlfriends. Other than the bullshit you've read in the paper, you have no reason to think they're going to cause a problem. Also, you think you're the first people to decide to ambush H.A.? You fucking idiots. They've got enough enemies that they always keep their eyes peeled. A herd of suburban yahoos armed with pool cues is not about to get the upper hand against them. You morons probably haven't been in a fight since high school. They would take you down, and then there would be trouble, because they'd assume the alley management had put you up to it.
"No, you cretins need to leave well enough alone. Leave them by themselves, and everything is great. Attack them and watch your night turn to shit."
"Just who the hell are you?"
"My name is Becky, and I'm a friend of theirs."
The jaw of the first one dropped. "Holy shit, you're Becky Page!"
"Live and in the flesh," said Becky.
"What are you hanging around those scumbags for?"
"Don't call them scumbags," Becky said coldly. "As I said, they're my friends. They have treated me with the utmost respect, to a man. I work with one of them, and have been under the protection of two of them. I consider them all men of honor, my personal experience with them could not let me treat them in any other way. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going back inside. Shall I tell my friends to watch out for you collective heads of knuckle, or shall I keep mum, because nothing is going to happen?"
The hardhats looked at each other. One said, "Look, so long as they don't start any shit, there won't be any trouble."
Becky smiled and said, "And they feel exactly the same way." We went in.
Walking down towards the lanes, I said in Becky's ear, "Becky, let me talk to Bekka." The eyes blinked, the face twitched ever so slightly, and Bekka was back.
I said, "Becky certainly was in control there for a few moments."
Bekka replied, "I called her into action. Becky was napping. But I knew she could impart our opinion on those zotico deficientes better than I could."
"I just realized.... Becky hasn't been around all evening. You're really that relaxed being around the Angels?"
"Around these guys? Oh yeah. With Cisco and Peewee, shit, how much time in how many porn shops were we together? Hinge and Fatso are really mellow dudes, for Angels. I think Mutt prides himself on keeping a level head. And, well, Roach is Roach. Now, if Short Nick and Dork were around, I'd be a little more on guard, but mostly for Jane's sake. But this is all cool tonight."
We returned to the lanes. After thirty minutes or so I noticed that conversations were quieter, yet at the same time more intense. Boyfriends and girlfriends were hanging all over each other. And everyone had wide, slightly manic smiles on their faces. The Ecstasy was working its magic.
An hour of bowling later someone said, "Goddamn, I feel great. We should go somewhere."
"Fuckin' Tahiti, man. That would rock."
Mutt found this hilarious. "Yeah, just put pontoons and paddle wheels on the putts, and take off. Hey Pint Size, lemme bum a smoke." Dawn handed him a cigarette.
"Let's go to the beach," suggested Ginger.
Hinge said, "On a Friday night? Fuck that for a bad story. Too many party animals, too many swabs, too many cops, not to mention the dicks from the shore patrol acting like civilians are in their domain. I don't wanna be around fuckin' people if we go."
"So where do we find deserted beach?"
I spoke up. "Up at my place in Encinitas. There's almost never anybody around at night."
"Won't the cops see the bikes parked in the lot and jam us up?" asked Terry.
"So we leave the bikes at the house and walk down. On the way there, I'll stop at a liquor store and get some beer. After we're done on the beach, we can watch the new movie, I've got my promo copies now. You all can tell me what you think of it."
"Fuckin' a," said Peewee. "Sounds like a plan."
We all dropped balls in the racks, then went en masse up to retrieve our boots and turn in shoes. Mutt couldn't resist bugging the counterman, saying, "This was a lot of fun! We're gonna come back here way more often!" The counterman didn't look happy with this news.
We took off from the bowling alley with much howling and gunning of motors. I took the lead, with Roach behind me in case we got separated somehow. Stopping at a liquor store so Terry and I could grab four cases of Budweiser, the Angels sat in the parking lot and idled, waiting for me. A couple got off their putts and ran into the store to buy smokes. When we pulled up at the house, I blocked the Fleetwood and the Cutlass, directing everyone to back down into the garage. Then Bekka, Jane, Terry and I hustled beer inside. The Angels waited for our return, and we walked down to the beach.
All of us walked in relative silence, the clomping of boots being the dominant sound. A mostly full moon was getting lower in the sky, a couple hours before it would set. We walked to the water's edge and stopped. The moon reflecting off the waves was beautiful. Everyone just stood in silence for a long long time, absorbed in the natural splendor of the sight of the ocean and the sound of crashing breakers. Nothing besides the water moved. After a long while someone breathed, "Fuckin' beautiful." Cigarettes were lit. It was time to go inside, drink a few beers, and watch a new movie. Everyone seemed comfortable with that.
The Angels loved "Succubus." They laughed at the right times, cheered at the right times, gasped at the right times. We had to pause the tape and explain that it wasn't really Bekka jumping from car to car at high speed, it was her stunt double, a near carbon copy of Bekka named Reina Crylos, who also coordinated all the driving action. They seemed a little let down by this news, preferring the idea of Becky Page being a modern, fearless Wonder Woman. They were heartened to learn, however, that Bekka did a lot of her own driving. And when the credits rolled, the living room filled with raucous cheers and applause. Everyone told Bekka how awesome she was, and Roach got his back slapped enough to inflict spinal damage. Cisco told him, "Damn Fucker, you weren't shittin' us when you said how much they ask out of you to work for them! You can act!"
Claudia said to Dawn, "Pint Size, you are one lucky woman. You live with that? Wow."
"Put in another one!" someone called. This was followed by cheers of agreement.
"What would you like to see?" I asked.
Mutt said, "Speaking personally, I know that Bubbles and I haven't seen your other recent one, the sequel to 'Bewitched.' Anyone object to that?"
As I dug out the tape and put it in, Bekka said, "This one has what is probably the most ambitious fuck scene to ever appear in porn. In fact, I'm sure of it."
"How so?" came a voice.
"Try to picture fifteen couples, including Fucker and Pint Size, all having at it in the middle of a street in Oceanside. That's what Lenny did. You've gotta see it."
We went through "Bewitched II," then followed it with "Dangerous Desires" (cool, another car chase), then put in "Temporary Pleasures." By the time the credits began to roll for the last one, most everyone was in a heavily reclined position, eyes only half open. It was getting light outside. Fatso muttered, "Lenny, man, you mind if I crash out here on the floor for a couple hours? I'm feeling burnt."
I said, "We've got three guest rooms, so some of you can get in a real bed if you want. I'll leave it up to you to determine who sleeps where."
"I'll give up my room," said Jane. "Roach, you and Dawn take my room. I'll be fine on the love seat."
"Me and Claudia will take the sofas," volunteered Hinge.
Terry said to Jane, "You sleep with Lenny and Bekka, I'll take the love seat. That cool?"
"Fine with me," said Jane.
Everyone began arranging themselves in their respective spots. Bekka, Jane and I headed up to the top floor and began stripping down.
"So was this a righteous evening?" asked Bekka as we hit the mattress.
"Yes, definitely a righteous evening," I agreed.