Crystal's second bukakke loop went smoothly. All the mooks we'd had before, including our own studs, were happy to help again. When you're essentially being paid $75 and lunch to briefly be fellated, then knock one off while aiming at a stationary woman's face, that's not too bad of a way to kill three hours on a Saturday. Crystal was attached to the fence with two pairs of handcuffs, so that her arms were spread wide. I figured out a way to add some spice to the loop and also satisfy Crystal's urge to blow me. Before she was cuffed, I shouldered a camera, then stood in front of Crystal, aiming the camera down. She pulled my dick out, and away we went. It was left unexplained why one of her "slaves" would be receiving oral sex, but none of the others were. Screw it, we'd find some cockamamie excuse and work it into a future loop. I was Crystal's first deposit of the day.
Angel was amused and intrigued by this side project Bekka and I had taken on. He wanted us to complete two more, then release all four scenes as a single cassette, "The Adventures of Cum-Crazy Crystal." The packaging would announce loudly, "Produced and directed by Becky Page!" Angel was all in favor of Inana releasing unrepentant, gutter-level hardcore filth, showing we were capable of rolling with the raunchiest when we wanted.
Bekka had sent up the rough cut of the new video by courier for Angel's perusal on Tuesday. He called me and said, "Dammit Lenny, I can't remember the last time I got a hard-on watching porn, it's probably been years. If Angela hadn't been watching with me, I would have whacked one off watching this video. Bekka has made some high-powered smut."
"What was Angela's opinion?" I asked.
"She was rather appalled, said it was irredeemable filth. I told her, that's the idea. She can't believe Bekka would produce something like that."
We added a bit of silliness to the end. A wide face-on shot shows Crystal, drenched in seminal fluid and still cuffed to the fence. A few of her "slave boys" walk back and forth past her, drinking beer. She calls out, "Hey, somebody hand me a beer, too!" One of the mooks uncaps an Anchor Steam and places it in her hand.... Which is still cuffed to the fence. She tries to stretch and crane to get at the beer, then yells, "Oh, very funny. Very funny! Cuff keys, please! Somebody!" The mooks collectively laugh, one approaches jingling a key ring.
Cut to her with one arm now free, swigging beer. She looks at the camera, rolls her eyes, and grumbles, "Men." Then she sets the beer down, swipes a finger across her cheek, and sucks on it. She smiles into the camera and says, "Mmm. Men." Fade to black.
Over pizza and beer afterwards, Terry told me I had competition for her heart. Gerald, a fellow target shooter, and her had been spending more and more time together, each of them at the other's place nearly every night. I'd met him once briefly. He struck me as highly intelligent, relaxed, and a nebbish. He and Terry certainly made an odd pair, it struck me that many people would assume Gerald was Terry's parole officer, as Gerald had the sense of style of a civil servant and Terry was, well, Terry. Her own fashion sense had actually gotten a bit more outlandish. She had decided that Jane's leather bustiers were "totally fuckin' kick-ass" and had bought a few. Now she didn't just look like a biker bitch, but a dominatrix biker bitch.
"Yeah, me and Gerald have everybody at the fuckin' range completely thrown," she told me. "Gerald has been around the Gun Range for eons, and he knows guns like an Eskimo knows snow. Now him and me are doing everything but sharing clothes, and nobody gets it. Well, shit. Gerald was the first motherfucker there to actually start a conversation with me. We started having a couple beers together after the Wednesday shoot-out, and it just kinda grew. He's a really quiet guy, people think he's kind of a geek, but the better I got to know him, the more I realized he's a really cool dude. And he's fuckin' cute. So I decided to take the plunge and bag him one night, and things have been fuckin' awesome ever since. Looks can be deceiving, you know? You'd never guess that not only is Gerald one hung motherfucker, he is very capable of fucking me stupid, he's awesome in bed. On a personal level, we both really click, you know?"
"Terry, I am very happy for you," I said. "Lord knows, no one is ever going to think Gerald is another outlaw. Besides guns, what other common interests do you two have?"
"Besides fucking?" grinned Terry. "We've read a lot of the same books, we both love The Simpsons, our favorite food is that Mongolian stir-fry place on College Avenue, we're both pretty much apolitical, and we can just sit and talk about anything for hours. I'm gonna teach him how to ride a putt, and he's gonna bite the bullet and get rid of the shitbox Omni he's been driving for years. I let him drive the Nova, and he realized how nice it is to drive a car with some balls to it."
"Tell you what. When you're going to stat training him on a motorcycle, borrow one of the Sportsers from us. Trying to learn on your machine would be really intimidating, it's about as heavy as a Harley gets, and is way too powerful. You told me yourself that there are Dago Angels who think your putt is just too damn fast, if they're scared of your machine, there's no way Gerald will be able to master it, as a total novice."
"Yeah, good point. Shit, I first learned on this goofy little 75cc dirt bike an outlaw I knew had, when I was thirteen. I learned how to shift, how to balance between using the front and rear brakes, and just generally adjusting to something with two wheels and an engine. Yeah, if I can borrow Jane's fuckin' putt, the one that's still dead stock, that would be great. Thanks, Lenny."
"No problem. Again, I'm very happy for you."
Terry waited a few ticks, then quietly said, "It's so fuckin' awesome. I got a man who looks happy when he sees me. I swear, all the fuckin' scooter trash I dated would look at me with an expression that said, 'What does the bitch want now?' when I'd walk in. Speaking of outlaws, Gerald knows I'm tight with the Dago Angels, but I know outlaws make him nervous. At some point he's gotta come to the Hi-Lo with me, I spend too much of my fuckin' time there, and I really want to share my whole life with Gerald. When I do take him down, could we sorta make it a double date? Me, him, you, and Bekka? He doesn't really know you, but he'll just be more relaxed if he has someone to talk to besides me and the Angels."
I grinned at this. "Yeah, meeting the brothers for the first time isn't the most relaxing way of spending an evening. Sure, let me know when you want to go down."
On Monday Angel called me and told me Bekka and I had to pack bags, we would be traveling on Friday afternoon. "You're being pressed back into service, for a little while anyway. This will be kind of like the suitcase runs out of LAX, only further distance and more comfortable travel. You two will be muling a suitcase full of Smiley to Seattle. Pick up the case from Vinny's restaurant, then to to the Burbank airport. You'll be taking a charter jet up to Sea-Tac, and getting straight in to a limo, which will take you to the Sheraton in downtown Seattle. Your drop will be staying in a room, and it's a straight drop, you're not bringing anything back with you."
"Okay, sounds like there will be fewer opportunities for anyone to shoot at me, if nothing else. Can I trust the people doing my transpo?"
"It will be an Elite Charter jet, and the guy at the controls is a wise guy. The dude at the wheel of the fucking limo will be a wise guy. You may not know them, but they know you, and Bekka. About the only weak spots in this transfer are you driving from Beverley Hills to Burbank, then walking from the limo to the hotel room. And there will be two sets of eyes keeping a watch out for anything suspicious, yours and Bekka's. You'll be carrying 40,000 hits, a hell of a big shipment, and we wanted to keep things as tight as possible, from start to finish. Anyway, do the drop, say goodbye, and go back down to the lobby to check in, you'll have a room reserved in your name. In the morning, you go home the same ways you arrived. Real simple."
"Damn, 40,000 hits to a single wholesaler?" I exclaimed. "What's the story?"
"Half of it is staying in Washington State, the other half is going into Vancouver. We've got a good safe way to move product into Canada, nearly risk-free, and the Canadian market is pleading for Smiley. The fucking RCMP, or whoever controls the border, have always been tight-asses, they'll nail some poor bastard for having a roach in his ashtray. With us having a safe route into Vancouver, we'll end the drought in at least that part of Canada. Shit, you get to places like Saskatchewan or Winnipeg, fucking Smiley goes for $70 Canadian per hit, it's as outrageously priced as in the European market.
"Anyway, the guy you're dropping with isn't part of the family, but we've done business with him for years, so we trust him. Endeavors he starts are relatively low risk, no matter what they're doing. He takes his time and sets things up to be as foolproof as possible. Like, he may have spent eighteen months setting up our route into Vancouver, but now that it's set, it will be safe and reliable for a long goddamn time, a breeze. He's had his fingers in a shitload of pies over the years, but he's never even had a jaywalking ticket, you know?"
"Hey, great. Everything sounds solid, no ghetto gangsters deciding they're gonna get one over on La Cosa Nostra. I like this. You got the times and places I'll need?"
"Tomorrow. Elite needs to file the flight plan first, which will determine what time things are happening at each end. And the name of your pilot is Mickey Traviana, you know him?"
I scratched at my brain. The name sounded vaguely familiar. "The name rings a bell, like we were introduced at a party once, and our paths have had no chance to cross again, our respective businesses would never interact. Good pilot?"
"Both F-14s and B-52s in Vietnam, then flying jumbo jets for United. The family extended its hand to him about eight years ago. He was like you, he wanted to remain friendly with the family, but making the commitment felt a bit intimidating. We pointed out that we truly desired his skills as a pilot, he would be in a low-risk position, not prone to any adventure. And if he worked for the family, his retirement would be a damn sight more comfortable than if he kept hauling tourists for United. He's in a very large class of made men, guys who the family recruited for their skills at a relatively mundane task. They can spend their lives with La Cosa Nostra and never once hold a gun, they'd just never be in a situation where it was needed. The family's fucking accountants are made men, they have to be. When the hell was the last time you heard of an accountant having shooting trouble?"
With a dark chuckle, I said, "Yeah. That would be as rare as repeated gunplay at a porn studio. No way could that ever happen."
Angel snorted into the phone. "Listen smartass, you're a fucking bullet magnet, and that's not the fault of the family. If you worked as a dog walker, you'd have shooting trouble in your life. I don't know if you dishonored your patron saint, or if you have bad karma from a previous life, or what. But you're like the fucking Bermuda Triangle. If weird shit is gonna go down, it's gonna go down around you, no matter where you are or what you're doing."
"Hey, my life has been relatively sedate for a while," I pointed out. "A few small incidents, but nothing to worry about."
"And that worries me a bit," replied Angel. "It may mean you're overdue, you know?"
"On Friday, I'll locate a practitioner of Wicca somewhere between Beverley Hills and Burbank, and have the suitcase scanned for bad spiritual health. Bekka will get Jesus on our side...."
"Don't blaspheme," chuckled Angel.
".... I'll wear my lucky boxers, we'll capture a leprechaun, I'll have the Fleetwood blessed by a Shinto priest, Bekka will wear her favorite set of devil horns, and we'll be on the lookout for four leaf clover. And I'll still have the spare clip for my Beretta in an easy-to-reach pocket, just in case."
"Just try to not piss off any wizards between now and Friday, that's all I ask. I'll call you tomorrow. Ciao."
This was Bekka's second assignment from the family. While it had more pizazz than being the translator for visiting Italians, the logistics were such that we were pretty airtight. I figured if anyone threatened the shipment, they must have received inside information, somehow. If this was the case, whoever did the leaking would certainly become fish food. We would only be gone overnight, so we packed what we'd both need into a single small suitcase. We loaded Squeak's automatic feeder, locked the doors, and headed out.
Up in Beverley Hills, I anchored the Fleetwood in the loading area behind the restaurant, much to the annoyance of the parking valets. One came trotting up the driveway after us.
"You can't leave your car here, sir," he sniffed as Bekka and I got out, eyeballing Bekka's devil horns.
"Yes I can," I answered. "It won't be here long, and I'm here on business. I'm headed in to see Vinny, so if you want to confirm my assertion that my car is exactly where it belongs, you can talk to him yourself."
"We are on a schedule, excuse us," said Bekka, and we headed for the back door.
The valet followed us in, but faded out when he saw Vinny giving me an Italian man-hug. The boss was not a touchy-feely kind of guy, so if I was greeted in such a manner, it meant Vinny and I were on very good terms. "So what have you kids been up to?" Vinny asked.
"Befriending dykes in Minneapolis," responded Bekka.
Vinny fixed a questioning look on Bekka, then grinned and said, "You know what? I'll just take that at face value. By the way, nice horns, Tootsie. They look disturbingly natural."
"Thank you, Vinny. This is my favorite pair, they look like real bone."
"Becky Page is gonna start another fashion trend, ain't she?" Vinny laughed. "You've already got half the broads in LA with short bangs and see-through blouses, showing off their red bras."
He lifted a Samsonite onto his desk and popped it open. It was packed with shrink-wrapped light yellow pills, a thousand per packet. We quickly counted the forty packets to have mutual assurance I would have what I needed, and the Samsonite got clicked closed again. I lifted the suitcase, caught a bit off-guard by the weight. That much Ecstasy in one place had some serious gravity to it.
"So we're expanding our territory? How can we do that? I was under the impression that production was maxed out, and everything coming out of the lab was spoken for."
"Not expansion," said Vinny. "More like redistribution. Okay, half of this is going into Canada, right? Canada had been getting Smiley, but getting it across the border was a damn headache, and the people doing the transportation were small-time operators, unorganized, no backup. The supply was really unreliable, which constantly caused shortages, which drove the retail price through the roof, to a level where people stopped buying, it was just too fucking much of a luxury. We've got a safe pipeline into the country, and we've got distribution organized, too. Yeah, we put some people out of business, but they weren't running a tight ship. Fuckin' hippies duct-taping lots of a thousand to their car's gas tank, then aiming for the border crossing and hoping the guards had already bagged their quota of flower children for the day.
"Basically, we leaned on the distributors in the Northwest and told 'em that if they were moving product to anyone who had the stated goal of getting it into Canada, the distributors were to drop them as clients. We'd handle things ourselves. A couple distributors got a bit snotty, and we had to remind them of who they were dealing with, but otherwise everyone got the hint. Now the Canadians will have Smiley arriving in large lots, and on a schedule. The Canadians will be dealing with business people, not hairy dipshits in 1974 Volvos, guys too dumb to air out their cars after smoking eight joints while aimed at the border. We didn't really run anybody out of business, 'cos the people who are now out of the picture were just amateurs to begin with. They'll go back to trimming bud in Humboldt, none the worse for wear."
Vinny chopped us out lines of coke. We snorted up, then I hefted the suitcase and we went out. I kept an inventory of the vehicles in my rear view mirror, watching for anything that seemed to be shadowing us. On the Ventura Freeway, I realized that there had been a 1987 Honda Accord within my line of sight practically since we'd left the restaurant. In a casual voice, I told Bekka, "We're not pressed for time, and I've been seeing the same car in my mirror for too damn long. I'm getting off the freeway."
Bekka swung around to look out the rear window. "What am I looking for?" she asked.
"A blue Accord, about four years old," I answered.
"Got him." She unbuckled her seat belt so she could kneel on her seat, looking backwards.
I exited the freeway on Vineland, heading towards Magnolia. The Accord did too. Rolling up Vineland, I opened it up some. The Accord stuck with me. I said to Bekka, "Sit back in your seat and put your belt back on. I'll be cranking this sucker up in a minute."
Waiting to make a right turn onto Magnolia, I tried to make out the interior of the Accord, try to see how many people were inside. Just two, okay. When I got up to the line, I waited for a gap in cross traffic that was too small to be polite, and juiced the Fleetwood into the gap. The guy I'd cut off blared his horn. Another glance in the mirror showed the Accord had also made the right, and was now working like hell to get back on my bumper again. I muttered, "Our blessed mother of acceleration, don't fail me now," and stomped on the gas pedal.
The car reacted in a way utterly unexpected from Cadillac Fleetwoods, which was to rare back a bit and begin bolting at high speed, gaining rapidly. My Fleetwood had been purchased from a wise guy named Rico Carellli, owner of Carelli Cadillac of Anaheim. Rico was very solicitous to me, getting what I wanted in my car. The Police Interceptor package was under the hood, making it as powerful as a cop's pursuit vehicle. Rico had also installed dual exhaust, which removed a large amount of restriction from the engine. Anti-sway bars got bolted on, which tightened handling without sacrificing the smooth ride. And, since I was a bullet magnet, bulletproof glass all the way around and armored body panels. The end result was that I had a car which looked like it was owned by a well-to-do retiree, and had the handling and acceleration of a hot rod Dodge Charger.
Traffic was loose enough that I was able to slalom through other cars, some of which honked in protest of my high rate of speed. The Accord was game, but losing ground. I needed to turn left on North Hollywood Way in order to get to the airport. I approached the intersection running right along the curb, cranking towards the red light. A quick glance showed the southbound lanes of North Hollywood Way were momentarily empty, so I spun the wheel and stabbed the brakes, sending the Fleetwood sliding sideways into the intersection. Then I jumped on the gas, pointing the car north and on the wrong side of the road. As I began to rocket up North Hollywood Way, I heard the sound of sheet metal and sheet metal impacting at high speed. The mirror showed a blue Accord with a Chevy S-10 pickup truck embedded in its right side, both of them out of commission. I played dodge 'ems with a few panicked motorists who weren't expecting a giant black thing to be coming towards them. Then I swung the wheel to the right, hopping the center island and getting back on the correct side of the road.
"Well played, Mr. Andretti," commented Bekka.
"Shucks, weren't nothin'," I replied. "Try me on a hard one sometime."
The Fleetwood was rolling at a median speed, utterly anonymous on the road. Just some old fart's car. We turned left on Vanowen and aimed at the entrance for private aircraft. I rolled slowly past the row of low buildings fronting the parking lot, spotting the Elite Charter sign. The Fleetwood was anchored in a space, the trunk was opened, and we grabbed our stuff, me with our cargo. We stepped out of the sticky yellow Los Angeles air into Elite's business counter and lounge area.
The gent at the counter was giving us a look of genuine curiosity, confused as to why a punk rocker and what appeared to be a death-obsessed hooker --- who had devil horns sticking out of her head --- would be here at all, much less looking like they expected to get things done. I gave him a nod and said, "Lenny Schneider, charter for Sea-Tac. I believe we're scheduled to take off in about a half hour."
The gent checked his departure manifest and looked surprised. "Yes sir, you should take off on time, no delays on our end. Coffee is over there, if you wish some while you wait." He briefly fixated on Bekka, and added, "I love your horns, Ms. Page."
I gave him a gravelly chuckle, and Bekka and I went to slouch on one of the sofas, keeping our luggage with us. I reached in my jacket and extracted my flask, taking a few quick swallows. I handed off to Bekka, who did the same. She recapped it and handed it back. We sat and smoked, waiting for the scotch to work its way into our blood streams and dissolve the adrenaline. Once I could feel it working, I got up and headed for the pay phones.
I called Angel to let him know we were at the airport, and that I'd had someone who was highly interested in me follow me from Beverley Hills. "Someone knew who I was, and what I was doing," I told Angel. "No doubt in my mind they were looking to hijack the shipment."
Angel didn't immediately respond, instead making a low growling noise into the phone. He finally said, "Someone got wise. My personal project for the day is gonna be to find out who, and how. Then I'm getting rid of him. Make it real fucking clear to his friends what happens when they fuck with us."
We signed off, just in time for me to hear my name being paged. Our plane was ready and waiting. Bekka and I grabbed our stuff and headed out the back door, where we were smilingly escorted across the tarmac and up the stairs of a Lear. Our pilot Mickey greeted us with a handshake and said to have a seat and belt in, we'd be in the air shortly.
The next week I was reading the LA Times (I only read either of San Diego's local papers when I felt in need of a dose of despair) and found this on the front page: "Grisly Murder In Santa Monica." A body had been found on the Santa Monica pier. The grisly aspect was that the body was found in three separate gym bags, various pieces mixed among the three. Fingerprints and dental records identified the body as belonging to Baxter "Biff" Adams, former (and how) resident of West Hollywood, most recently employed at Big Vinny's California Cuisine, a tony bistro on Wilshire. Biff had been a valet attendant. His house mate said that Biff hadn't been home for three days prior, and his disappearance had been reported to the police. Well, they'd found their man.
Safe to assume Angel had found his leak. I never asked him about it, I figured if he felt like discussing the matter, he'd do so of his own volition.