The girls and I got back to the preserve around 8:45, Terry and Jane leading the way on the Harleys. Again, the road leading up to the preserve entrance was lined with sheriff's and city police cars. We turned in at the entrance, only to be stopped by a deputy. He let Terry and Jane through, then gestured for me to roll down my window. I did so, and he leaned in.
"Do you have business here?" he asked.
"Breakfast," I replied.
"Are you a member of the Hell's Angels?"
He briefly gave me the usual cop stare, then walked back to where a second deputy was standing. The two of them conferred, both of them staring at me and Bekka through the windshield. Then he gestured for me to roll in.
"What the hell was that?" asked Bekka.
"Search me," I said. I gave it a bit of thought. "I'm gonna guess they're trying to keep random citizens out. They probably don't want the locals acting like tourists, coming to see the human zoo. I'd say we passed their litmus so far as looking like scumbags and criminals, we must belong here."
"The preserve is public property," noted Bekka. "They'll have a hard time keeping people out, if anyone wants to press the issue."
We got the the Dago chapter's area and parked, backing in. People were up and about, but looking a bit slow and groggy. Almost everyone had probably been up all night thanks to the dope we'd done the night before, but that would be wearing off. Between that and the huge amounts of beer everyone had certainly consumed, everybody would be feeling rather listless. We got out of the Falcon and met Jane and Terry. The four of us greeted those nearby and turned to walk to the chuck wagons, but were intercepted by Spike.
"Hey man," he said to me. "You got more of that dope? Everyone's feeling pretty burned out."
"No problem," I answered. "Just let us go get some breakfast, then I'll start setting people up in the Winnebago. Give us twenty minutes, and we'll be back." I paused briefly. "Is Fucker around? He might be able to help a bit, I'm not sure."
Spike nodded and jogged off towards the fire pit. He returned a couple moments later with Roach in tow. I asked Roach, "You bring shit with you this weekend?"
"Yep, I got some...."
"Do me a favor. I guess everybody's feeling pretty burnt out. We wanna get some breakfast right now, but if you could load the pipes and let everyone have a couple hits to clear out the cobwebs, I'll rail up everyone when we get back. Sound fair?"
That was fine with Roach. Bekka and I handed over the glass pipes. Roach spoke with Spike, telling him to pass the word around that a bit of an eye-opener would be available in the RV, and rails would be dispensed in about a half hour. The girls and I started walking to the chuck wagons.
Breakfast was a very good fritatta, fruit bowls, and rolls. Angels hovered around the huge coffee urns like flies over dogshit. One of the Fresno Angels we'd gotten high the night before jived over to where we were sitting, all smiles. "Hey folks," he said. "Damn and howdy, how y'all doing this morning? Jesus, that's some good shit you smoked with us last night, I still feel great. You got a line on it?"
I sighed inwardly and said, "Well, I suppose so...."
"We're not dealing, if that's what you're wondering," Bekka said.
"Okay, but if you could, y'know, set us up with a connection....." the Fresno Angel said.
I paused and said, "Remember, we're down in San Diego, which seems a bit of distance to travel to pick up shit. What sort of volume are you talking? The people I deal with only move large amounts."
"Pounds. I can get ounces from him, but that's a personal favor, we're friends and we used to be in business together. This stuff comes straight out of the lab, they only deal in pounds."
The Angel frowned. "Damn. I'm guessing about ten K buy-in?"
"On the nose," I told him.
"Don't suppose you'd be willing to middleman a deal for us? If he sells you ounces, just get a few from your guy, and we'll pick them up from you, we'd make it worth your while."
Bekka said forcefully, "No. Lenny used to be in business, and isn't going to start up again. I won't allow it. He'll arrange things, but my husband isn't going to start moving product again, not unless he wants to start sleeping alone."
I added, "Besides, I pick up ounces as personal, usually three at a time, so I'm not scoring very often. If I started asking for ounces all the time, my people would know I was back in business somehow, and would insist I pick up pounds. Like I said, them providing me with ounces is a personal favor. I wouldn't want to abuse the favor, you know?"
The Angel grumbled, "Well..... Shit. Ten grand buy-in, huh? We'd have to save our nickels for a while."
Bekka whispered in my ear, and I nodded. I said, "We have an idea. I'll talk to my guy and get in contact with one of his customers, someone who would be selling ounces, and hook you up with them. This'll probably take a bit of time, but I should be able to make it happen."
"Hey, that works. To me and the other guys you got high, traveling to pick up quality like you got would be worth it. We'd be able to start with picking up three or four ounces, and hopefully build from there."
"I'm a bit surprised," I said. "I thought there was plenty of good shit floating around in the Central Valley."
The Angel rolled his eyes. "Aw man. Yeah, a few years ago people had quality. I dunno what happened, there's rumors but no facts, but what we're getting these days is really damn cranky, the sort of shit that just makes you sweat and grind your teeth. I heard there were some lab busts, and the people who filled the vacuum are clowns, spic gangsters who don't know what they're doing and don't give a shit. No damn pride in their work, you know?"
The Fresno Angel wandered off to get more coffee, and I dug back into my breakfast. Five minutes later, another of the Fresno boys we'd smoked with was at our table. He wanted to congratulate us again on our quality, he felt great, and could we hook them up? Yeah, riding to San Diego to score is a bit of a trek, but for quality like that....
I cut him off. "I just had this conversation with another dude from Fresno, not five minutes ago. Talk to him. Hey hon, what was that guy's name?"
Bekka creased her brow and said, "I think that was Harpo."
"Okay, talk to Harpo, he'll tell you where I stand. The short version is that I'll help set up an arrangement, if I can, but then I step back, I don't have anything to do with anyone's business. I'm retired from that line of work, and my wife will leave me if I start up again, in any way. Considering who I'm married to, I don't want to lose my wife. Savvy?"
The Angel grinned and said, "Yeah, I see your side of it. Shit, sharing a bed with Becky Page? I'd keep my nose clean too, if she said to."
I handed him an Inana Productions business card and said, "Try to get a hold of me Tuesday through Friday, regular business hours. Let me know what you boys want to do, and we'll go from there. Fair enough?"
The Angel departed and we finished our food. Back at the Dago site, I told Spike and Mutt I'd start setting up lines in the Winnebago, like five at a time, so everyone could filter through and not all be trying to jam into the RV at once.
About forty-five minutes later, all the Dago Angels and their old ladies were sniffing, wincing, and in a much cheerier state of mind. So were about eight Angels from other chapters, who'd simply drifted over to say good morning and see what our plans were for the day. They were curious as to why everyone was sort of orbiting around the Winnebago with anxious expressions on their faces. When they learned the situation, they asked if there was any chance we could spare one, help a brother out here. No problem.
A bunch of Dago Angels were going to the beach, in the company of people from inland chapters for whom the ocean was a novelty. Everybody on the run would visit the beach at some point, but chapters from places like Reno, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Denver were the most eager. Pismo Beach is certainly more scenic than the beaches in San Diego, so our chapter was happy to visit, too.
Girls had thought to bring bathing suits. Guys, not so much. Swimming isn't high on the list of recreational activities for Hell's Angels, I guess. My girls had brought theirs, of course. Jane was grade A eye candy in her bikini, Angels seeing her gave up on manners and openly stared, at least until their old ladies gave them a whack on the arm. I'm sure Bekka disappointed many, as she was in her one-piece suit. A couple people asked why she wasn't showing more flesh, and she explained, "Trying to body surf wearing a fuck-me two piece is a stupid idea." A few Angels had brought trunks, but for the most part just hung around on the beach, digging the view and drinking beer. Angel women who were in bathing suits showed they didn't wear them often: goths only hope to be that pale. I did a bit of public service for these girls, by buying a few bottles of waterproof sunblock and passing them around.
Jane advocated for the use of sunblock to all the Angel women in bathing suits, cheerfully explaining how miserable they'd be for the next three or four days if they got sunburned, especially with their pallor. Jane's advice and assistance was accepted a bit coolly: here was a teenage girl with a body like a wet dream, and with the sort of tan usually seen on episodes of "Baywatch." Also, she had no tan lines, as less than two weeks earlier she'd been at a nudist resort in France. For eight days, she would get up in the morning, shower, put on her Doc Martens, and go out to play. Women who asked how she had eliminated tan lines were told the truth, to their disgust. Okay, here's a seventeen year old girl with an incredible body, who lives on the beach, drives a Cutlass 442, and is best friends with a seventy-eight year old man richer than a Rockefeller, who indulges her every whim. The little bitch is living the fantasy life of every post-pubescent white girl in the United States. I'm sure Jane had many terrible things wished upon her by many Angel women.
Those that went in the water didn't stay long. Bekka, an avid body surfer, stayed out only ten minutes. She explained, "There's a good break here, as you can see, but Jesus! That water is cold, way colder than at home." Her brief foray into the water made the other women feel better, they weren't just being winps. The few Angels who went in didn't get wet past their knees before returning to the beach, explaining to their friends, "No fuckin' way am I getting as deep as my balls, they'll fall off if I do." The other Angels briefly razzed them for their folly, then handed them a beer.
After a while, people wanted to explore a little. Some wanted to cruise, poking around the area, examining the back roads of San Luis Obisop County. Others wanted to explore the bars of Pismo Beach. About thirty bikes (plus the Falcon) thundered from the beach into "downtown" Pismo Beach. Bekka pulled into a public lot at Hinds and Cabrillo Hwy., and we began walking down the street, following the sounds of Harley motors. Parking was tight in the area, even on a motorcycle, so we kept coming across Angels anchoring their putts in any available space. A place called Baxter's seemed to be the current destination.
Boy, was it. A contingent of Angels from various chapters, about twenty of them and their old ladies, had been there for an hour already. They were fortifying themselves before heading out to cruise the area. (Yes, a brilliant idea. Get a beer buzz, then ride a motorcycle on unfamiliar roads.) The arrival of this new group was greeted with much shouting and howling. I took a look around the place, and saw there were maybe a dozen citizens, certainly locals, who were steadfastly refusing to be cowed by the presence of the Visigoths of the highway. There were two bartenders working. Over by the pool tables, Terry and Jane were in conversation with Riley, the Oakland chapter's Sargent-At-Arms. Jane had been served, she was sipping a bottle of Miller. Bekka and I got our own Millers and joined them.
The girls said hello, Riley gave a nod. He didn't smile, and looked like he'd forgotten how around fifth grade. No big surprise, Whistle, the Dago chapter's Sargent-At-Arms, always had an identical expression too. It must come with the territory. Terry and Riley were engaged in tech talk, debating spring and suspension set-ups, Terry explaining that with the massive speed her machine had, she knew she'd have to sacrifice a bit of comfort to keep the putt controllable.
"So why the hell did you build the thing to go so damn fast?" asked Riley. "Plan on putting it on a track on a regular basis?"
Terry gave a predatory grin and said, "Naw, I wanted something that would dust motherfuckers on crotch rockets. San Diego is full of fuckin' jock-boys on Ninjas who always think they can dust a putt. I wanna prove the little fuckers wrong. I figure when I'm feeling bored and ornery, I'll just cruise around SDSU for a while. I'll come across one of those fuckin' jocks quick enough, and he'll want to show off. I plan on ruining the motherfucker's week, you know? His fuckin' ego won't be able to handle getting blown away by a bitch on a putt."
I said, "I've ridden it, and Terry's putt is damn scary, it's a monster. Hell, she's let a few of the guys from Dago ride it, and they all came back saying, 'No way, that thing is too damn fast.' I don't know how Terry handles it, and it's her daily rider."
"That's your answer," Terry smirked at me. "I'm on the thing every fuckin' day, I've adjusted. Hey, I won't lie, when it was finished and I took it out for the first time, it scared the fuckin' shit outta me, too! I spent a little too much time leaving stop lights with the front wheel in the air, not even trying to. But I'm used to it now."
"I want to ride it," said Jane.
"No way. No fuckin' way. Sorry girl, it ain't gonna happen. When I've got dudes who've been riding twenty fuckin' years telling me my putt is a real bastard to control, I ain't lettin' a novice try to ride it."
Jane pouted, "But you let Lenny! He's been riding as long as I have."
"And Lenny is twice your size," Terry pointed out. "He can use his strength and weight to wrangle the bastard. Sorry Jane, but no fuckin' way are you getting in my saddle. Tell you what, I'll double-pack you sometime, and I'll show you what it can do, okay?"
Riley said to me, "Speaking of going fast, I heard somebody talking about your Falcon hot rod, and I wandered by to take a look. You really got a blower under that scoop?"
"We do. It's actually Becky's car, not mine, it's her daily driver. Standard 289 V8, Holley four barrel, the blower, beefier suspension and brakes, and geared for road racing. It's one quick beast, which is what Becky wanted. She's pretty hot behind the wheel, too. She learned how to do a reverse 180 and four wheel drifts while we were making the movie 'Succubus.' Me, I'm boring, I drive a late model Cadillac Fleetwood."
Bekka elbowed me and said, "Yeah, with the Police Interceptor package under the hood and dual exhaust. Lenny's bomb is a sleeper, it's much quicker than anyone would expect."
Terry started laughing. "Shit, my car has the opposite problem, it looks faster than it is! Okay, Riley, you saw 'Succubus,' right? You know the Nova Becky was driving in that movie? The studio sold it to me after we were done filming, 'cos I really needed some wheels. The fuckin' blower sticking out of the hood is real, and it works, but it's still just pushing a fuckin' small block 350, not the 427. And it's got a slush-box tranny. It only had to look fast for the movie. It ain't no fuckin' slouch, but I'm not about to get in any drags in it, either."
We were approached by three citizens, walking close together. They stopped in front of us. "Howdy," I said.
"You all have ten minutes to leave," said the one in front.
All five of us stared at him in vague confusion. "Why is that?" asked Bekka. "I didn't hear last call, it's the middle of the day."
"We don't want your kind here," came the reply. "You can go back to where you're staying and remain there until you go home again."
With her drop-a-motherfucker smile on her face, Terry said, "Huh. Really. So, what the fuck happens if we're still here in ten minutes?"
"We will clear you out forcibly. Do you understand?"
I put on a diplomatic smile and said, "Uh.... There's three of you. There's probably fifty Angels in this place right now, and more hanging around outside. Either all three of you vastly overestimate your pugilist skills, or you have Uzis and are planning to shoot us all. Which is it?"
"And what's your problem with us, anyway?" asked Jane. "Nobody's starting shit, everybody's just hanging around.... And spending lots of money at the bar."
The guy in front said, "We can have a large number of local citizens out front of this place in ten minutes, all we have to do is make a few phone calls. We're disgusted the county let you people gather in Pismo Beach at all. We can't do anything about you staying at the preserve, but we'll keep you out of our town. You are not welcome here."
Riley finally spoke. "You dick-head. Tell you what, go ask the local merchants how welcome we are. Go ask the bartender here what he's taken in so far today. I think you'll find a lot of people who are really fuckin' happy with all the money our club will spend this weekend. Now get lost. Are you telling everyone to leave individually, or are you going to announce it to the crowd?"
"We're passing the word on to groups of you people," said another one. We want to be sure we're taken seriously."
"That's a tall fuckin' order, dude," said Terry. "Face facts, you don't really cut it as vigilantes. I doubt any of your friends do, either. Chi-chi seaside towns in California don't really breed a lot of Charles Bronson clones. You motherfuckers are latching onto a really fuckin' stupid idea. Let it go, and go the fuck home. Try to start shit and watch what happens. Fuckin' idiots."
Bekka added, "I'll assume we're the first ones you've given this directive to. I base that assumption on the fact that the three of you have not been bodily thrown into the street. We have been very patient with you. I will reiterate what Terry here said, which is whatever plans you have, forget them. They will fail, and your day, or week, will go to hell. Go home, load your shotgun, and start doing a fucking perimeter march around your house or something. You're expecting a Viking raiding party, but there isn't one. What you will get is a mob of Vandals, if you stir shit up. Go home, and leave well enough alone."
All three vigilantes were staring, open-mouthed, at Bekka. I'd seen the look often enough to recognize it. They faces betrayed they realized Becky Page was in their presence. The third one finally said, "Are you Becky Page?"
"Live and in the flesh," Bekka responded. "Sorry, but I'm not in the mood to provide autographs at the moment."
"What on earth are you doing around.... these people?"
Looking at Bekka, it was obvious that she was in mafioso mode, and that Becky was at the controls. She replied, "Well, this is my husband, Lenny. This is Jane, my friend and roommate. This is Terry the Terror, who is both my friend and also my bodyguard. And this is Riley from Oakland. We only met last night, but he's demonstrated himself to be an intelligent and sensible man. Does that answer your question?"
The second vigilante said, "No, why are you around these bikers, the Hell's Angels? Did you know they'd be here this weekend?"
"Of course I did. I was invited to attend the run by the San Diego, or Dago, chapter. They're friends of ours, we spend a lot of time with the Dago Angels. The Labor Day run is a serious party, I wouldn't have missed it for the world. I've had a lot of fun so far, the party last night was a blast. It's interesting meeting members from other chapters, from all over the place. I'm glad I'm here. Does that answer your question?"
"Have you been safe?" the first vigilante asked.
All of us laughed, except Riley. He allowed his mouth to curl slightly at the corners, an approximation of a smile. "Safe as milk, darling," Bekka answered. "Why wouldn't I be?"
"Aren't you worried about being, you know, attacked? Assaulted?"
"Riley, would you like to cover this one?" Bekka smirked.
Riley said, "Okay, dick-head. Why the fuck do you think she's gonna get jumped by being on this run? First off, Dago chapter says Becky is a righteous chick, her and her friends are good people. That's good enough for the rest of us, she gets everybody's respect. Second, you've read the bullshit about gang rapes. It's crap. No Angel has been convicted of that shit. Third, you think she's in danger around us Angels? Shit, she's safer around us than she would be in a fuckin' frat house, you know? Those spoiled little rich brats would be trying to put a roofie in her drink. Those little motherfuckers are the rapists. So leave it out, dick-head. Nobody's gonna fuck with Becky, or her friends. Any other stupid questions?"
Terry added, "And if some drunk dude did try to get all fuckin' raunchy with Becky, shit, he's gotta get through both me and Lenny. We take care of Becky."
"You're her bodyguard?" sneered the third vigilante. "You're just some woman."
This prompted more laughter from us. I said, "A lot of people have discounted Terry because of her gender. They realize their mistake very quickly."
The first vigilante said, "Ms. Page, you should leave with us, we'll keep you safe. I can't believe your husband would be so irresponsible as to bring you to this.... event. And you believe this young woman can protect you if you're attacked by one of these hooligans? How? She's not big enough to hurt anyone, she's just some biker woman. You should leave, go home now."
In a cool voice, Bekka said, "Terry has done a good job of keeping me safe so far. That's why she has her job." Bekka paused and looked thoughtful, then said, "So you believe you could get past Terry?"
"I could throw her through the window from here," the third vigilante sneered. "She wouldn't stop me."
"How about this. Terry, if you're willing, I'd like to make a deal with these men. Whichever one feels he can take you down will try to attack me. I'll stand there....." Bekka indicated a spot in the path next to the pool tables. ".... He stands there, and you stand between us. If he puts his hands on me, Lenny and I will go back to our motel, pack, and head home. If you take him down, he and his friends drop their stupid plans for vigilante action here, or anywhere else in the area. They go home, and stay there until Tuesday morning. Gentlemen, are you agreeable with this little deal?"
"Wait a minute," said the first vigilante. "What sort of weapons does she have?"
Terry reached in her back pocket and extracted her Buck knife, setting it on the pool table. "That's all, dude. Shiving some motherfucker is kind of a last resort anyway."
The three vigilantes glanced at each other, then the first one said, "Sure. I think you're making a big mistake, Becky. But at least you'll be safe by going home."
The third one, the biggest, said, "I'll take care of this." He had a confident, wolf-like grin, he was looking forward to dropping some biker bitch.
The three of them got into position. The vigilante said to Terry, "You dumb bitch, there's no way you're taking me down." Terry just gave him a smile.
He walked forward quickly, a fist already cocked to throw at Terry. When he was close enough, he swung. Terry caught the fist and twisted the arm it was attached to, then grabbed the vigilante by the neck. She flipped him over her hip, dropping him to his knees. He yelled, "Goddamn bitch!" and sprung up at her, both hands out and aiming for Terry's neck. She side-stepped and grabbed an arm, sinking her other fist into the vigilante's gut. The air wheezed out of him. She pivoted him, then kicked his legs out from underneath him, putting the vigilante face-first onto the floor. The arm she was still holding got twisted up between his shoulder blades, and Terry landed on him with one knee in his lower back. He struggled, and Terry applied more pressure on his arm, causing him to bark in pain.
Terry leaned forward towards the vigilante's head and said, "Okay motherfucker, you're going to stay on the fuckin' floor until I tell you you're allowed to get up. Keep squirming like that and I'll dislocate your fuckin' shoulder. Try to get up, and I'll really hurt you. And I ain't no fuckin' bitch."
She let go of the arm and sprang to her feet. The vigilante started to get up, and Terry planted a boot on his neck. "What did I say, motherfucker? Stay down."
The other two vigilantes were aghast, pale with shock. Their friend had six inches and seventy pounds on the biker woman. She'd done what she said she would, and wasn't even breathing hard. They alternated between staring at Terry and their fallen comrade.
Bekka stepped forward and said, "Well, gentlemen. I will assume you are men of honor, and will keep with our agreement. Go home, now. Terry, let him up."
Terry took her boot off the vigilante's neck. He slowly got to his feet. The other two stood there flapping their lips, but not speaking. When their friend was standing up, they gave a few more horrified glances at Bekka and Terry, then quickly headed for the door, not looking back.
I realized the bar was nearly dead quiet, and every head was turned in our direction. I announced, "Nothing to see, no big deal. Just a little martial arts demonstration. All over with." People turned back to their beers and conversation.
Jane had a pleased look on her face. Riley was actually expressive. His mouth was open slightly, his eyebrows raised. He said to Terry, "Damn, woman. You got some chops. How'd you learn to do that shit?"
"Aw, I dated a martial arts freak for a while," said Terry, lighting a Camel. "He taught me a bunch of random shit, just different moves for getting someone the fuck out of your face, shit that would be useful in a bar brawl. I ain't no fuckin' black belt or nothing, it's just different moves I learned."
A few Angels came up and asked what the hell had happened. We briefed them as to what had gone down. When we finished, they were looking at Terry with amazement and respect. Riley said, "Tell ya what, I want this woman at my side in any punch-up I ever get into. Shit, she didn't even stop smiling, just dropped the asshole. He never put a hand on her."
A Riverside Angel with the odd name of "Lego" said, "Uh, I was gonna ask for Becky's autograph, but now I don't know if that's such a good idea!" Everyone laughed.
Bekka said, "I would be delighted to give you my autograph. What would you like me to sign?"
"In the past, I've signed gas tanks," smiled Bekka. "I have a Sharpie, would you like me to sign your tank?"
"Hey, awesome idea!" grinned Lego. "My putt is about halfway down the block, if that's okay...."
"Lead on. Do any of your friends want autographs? While I'm out there, I'll do their tanks too."
We all began to head for the door. Another Angel stopped Lego, asking what was going on. "Becky Page is gonna sign my gas tank! I'm so stoked!"
The other Angel said, "Hey Becky, would ya sign my putt too?"
All the Angels around this group overheard and began yelling, "Hey, sign my tank too!" "I want in on this action!" "Do it baby, please?" "I'll buy you a drink!"
And of course, all the other Angels around them heard what was going on. Soon the entire bar was yelling for Becky Page to sign their gas tanks. Bekka/Becky rolled her eyes, then gestured for me to get her up on my shoulders. I obliged. From up there, Bekka/Becky yelled, "Quiet, quiet! Gentlemen, let me have a word!" The bar grew relatively silent. "I'm guessing just about all of you would like your gas tanks signed. That's fine, I'm happy to do it. But so we're not walking up and down the street over and over, how about we start at one end, and work our way down. When we're at your putt, step forward and tell me who you are. Then we go to the next one, and so on. Do you gents mind following me around for a little while?"
"I'd follow you through a police station, Becky!" came a yell. The crowd laughed.
"All right. You're all parked along Cabrillo, right? We'll start at the north end, and work our way down. If you want, just wait at your bike, and I'll be along. Okay, let's go!"
I headed out the door with Bekka/Becky still on my shoulders. Terry positioned herself next to me, and we were followed by Riley and Jane. The Angels cheered and howled as we left and began walking up the sidewalk. Cars on the street came to a halt, as the drivers stared at a procession of fifty or so Hell's Angels, plus their old ladies, heading up the road. They were all loud, they looked like kids leaving school on the first day of summer, and they were following a dark-haired woman being carried aloft. Who knew what was in store, but the citizens were sure it wouldn't be good. Perhaps the looting was about to start, or the first official gang rape of the day was about to commence.
As we neared the end of the second block, Bekka/Becky had me turn to face the crowd. "Is there anyone parked past here?" she asked. Silence greeted her. "All right, whose machine is this?"
A younger Angel, not much older than Roach, pushed his way through the crowd. "That's mine, Becky!" he yelled.
I set Bekka/Becky down, and she said, "So what's your name, sweetie?"
"I'm Soda Pop."
Bekka/Becky bent down over the tank and wrote, "Hey, Soda Pop! XXX Kisses, Becky Page." How's that?" she asked the grinning Angel.
"Too fuckin' much! Thank you!"
"Now give me a hug." Bekka/Becky embraced the young Angel, who seemed both surprised and delighted. At first he had his arms loosely around Bekka/Becky, then tightened up and squeezed, the two having a nice long hug. The crowd had gone relatively silent at this, then began to cheer. They broke apart, and the look in the young Angel's eyes was one of pure bliss. "Thank you," he said softly.
And so it went. About half of the Angels realized there was no point in doing a glacial procession from bike to bike, and went to wait at their respective putts. I hadn't realized it, but many of the Angels had cameras with them, from Instamatics to Nikons. Fair enough, everybody brings a camera on vacation, right? Bekka/Becky obliged those with cameras snapshots. We did it like we had our first night at the Hi-Lo, Bekka/Becky straddling the putt, the Angel standing behind her with an arm around her. The tank would be signed, and the Angel would get a hug. The reactions to the hugs was amazing, the Angels would get expressions that were at first shocked, then would collapse into joy. I was wondering how many of them could even remember the last time a woman who wasn't either family or a sex partner had hugged them.
We were about halfway through when Pismo Beach PD pulled up, three cars, stopping in the lane. All three jumped out from behind the wheel, one saying in a loud officious voice, "What's going on here?"
"Just out for a pleasant stroll, officer!" came a voice. The crowd broke up.
Determining the focal point of the crowd, the cop aimed at where Bekka/Becky was scrawling on the tank of a vintage machine, its owner (a loose-boned dude named Hoosier from Seattle) having explained it was a '59 he'd spend over a year rebuilding. Arriving at where Bekka/Becky was standing, he drew up short. All these career hoodlums were focused on a dark-haired girl, who was writing on a motorcycle gas tank with a marker. He could find no logic in this. When Bekka/Becky straightened up, the cop said, "What is going on here?"
"Why, I'm signing this gentleman's gas tank," smiled Bekka/Becky.
"And the reason for this?"
"He asked me to. Excuse me one moment, I wish to give him a hug." And Bekka/Becky did so. "Safe riding, Hoosier," she said as they broke apart.
The cop glared at Bekka/Becky. He was being treated like a waiter who had interrupted a conversation. The other two cops had positioned themselves at either end of the crowd, watching for.... Who knows. Possibly the lighting of a Molotov cocktail, or forcible oral sex. The main cop said, "I want to know why this crowd has gathered, and what you are doing."
With a smile that suggested she was humoring a moron, Bekka/Becky said, "These gentlemen all wanted my autograph, and wanted it applied to the gas tanks of their motorcycles. I am obliging them, I like making my fans happy. Not so complicated, really."
"Just who are you?" asked the cop.
One of the old ladies yelled, "She's Becky Page, man! Don't you recognize her?"
Bekka/Becky nodded and said, "I'm Becky Page. If you're not familiar with me, I am an adult film performer who has had rather surprising mainstream success. These gentlemen are fans of mine."
The cop stared at her, recognition finally sinking in. He said, "Oh yes, now I recognize you. You've made several pornographic films that somehow became extremely popular. All right, now I know who you are, and why these.... people.... want your autograph. What are you doing here in the first place?"
"What do you mean?" asked Bekka/Becky with a smirk.
"To be frank, Ms. Page, you chose the wrong weekend to visit Pismo Beach. The Hell's Angels, these people, are having their annual rally here this weekend. There are Hell's Angels all over the area, and we can't keep an eye on all of them at once. We don't know what's going to happen. Why did you agree to sign autographs for these men, did they accost you? How did they find you?"
In a patronizing tone, Bekka/Becky replied, "I am attending the run this weekend as a guest of the San Diego chapter of the Hell's Angels. They are friends of mine. I was in the bar down the block with my husband and a few friends, and a Riverside Angel asked me to autograph his gas tank. Others overheard this, and also requested similar autographs. I am very aware of who I am surrounded by, members of the Hell's Angels motorcycle club from all over the West. You seem to assume this should bother me, for some reason."
In a low voice, the cop said, "It's not safe to be around these men! You're taking an incredible risk associating with them! Do you understand who the Hell's Angels are?"
Bekka/Becky dropped her smile and put on her mafioso face. She said, "I will reiterate, I'm here in Pismo Beach as a guest of the Dago chapter of the Angels, who are friends of mine. Pay attention. I'm not at risk being here, I am perfectly safe. These gentlemen, as associates of the Dago chapter, know I'm here as a guest. Why do you think they would harm me? Why do you think I'll be in some sort of danger?
"In a few hours, my husband and I will return to the Pismo Preserve, where the Angels are staying. We'll have dinner, then socialize. There will be live music tonight, and plenty of beer. I'm going to do the same things I do at any party, which is socialize, meet new people, joke around with friends, have a few drinks, and generally enjoy myself. And I will do this with no more concern for my safety than if I was at a shopping mall. You don't need to concern yourself with my safety, it's not at risk from anyone connected to the Hell's Angels motorcycle club. Now if you'll excuse me, I'd like to finish signing autographs, then go back in the bar for another beer. Pardon me."
Bekka/Becky stepped around the cop and to the next putt. Its owner was already waiting, leaning against the saddle. Bekka/Becky's face changed from mafioso to lottery winner, smiling at the waiting Angel. "Hi, sweetie, who are you?" she said.
The Angel answered, "Hi, Becky! I'm Stretch, Phoenix chapter. How you doing, beautiful?"
"Just lovely, thank you. I apologize for the delay, a local civil employee was quizzing me about why I'm here in Pismo Beach this weekend. He seemed to have some concerns for my safety. I'm not sure why."
Stretch from Phoenix kept his smile on his face and answered Bekka/Becky, but fixed a death stare on the cop, who was hovering behind her. He said, "I don't know why he'd think that either. Sounds like bullshit to me. Ain't nobody's gonna fuck you around on this run, anybody who did would get an ass-kicking like you wouldn't believe. Becky Page is a friend to all Angels."
Bekka/Becky bent down to sign the tank, then gave Stretch his hug, which he received gratefully. Stretch said, "Don't let 'em try to jerk you off, you know? Shit, can't an American citizen walk down the street anymore, without a cop riding their ass?"
"Yes, some law enforcement can get a little too enthusiastic, can't they?" said Bekka/Becky. "Thank you for your patience, Stretch. See you inside for another beer?"
"You bet, Becky. Later." Stretch gave another glare to the cop and stalked towards the bar.
Bekka/Becky moved on to the next bike, cheerfully greeting the owner. The cop gave up on her and decided to focus on me. He asked, "Who are you, fella? Some reason you're following this woman?"
"You bet," I replied. "She's my wife."
"Your...." The cop looked bewildered. "Okay, first off, you're telling me that Becky Page is married? To you? Even though she, uh, does what she does for a living? And if that's true, what were you thinking, bringing her here this weekend? Are you crazy?"
I put on my own patronizing smile and called over to Bekka/Becky. "Hey Becky, who am I?"
She stopped mid-signing and said, "You're my husband, Leonard Schneider, the man I love. Why?"
"This city employee was curious." To the cop I said, "Okay, now that's clear, right? To answer a couple other questions, I brought her here so we could hang out with friends of ours, who are members of the Hell's Angels motorcycle club. I'm pretty sure Becky covered that already. And my sanity is questioned constantly, but I don't let it bother me. I figure if I was truly nuts, I wouldn't have become a millionaire at the age of twenty-three, by making porn films starring my wife. So, anything else?"
In a lower voice, the cop said, "What do you mean? You make those movies your wife appears in?"
"I am the COO of Inana Productions, Becky's studio. I write and produce all of Inana's features, and Becky invariably has a lead or second lead position in them. Have you seen any of our movies? The last two were reviewed in People magazine."
"It doesn't bother you, having your wife, uh, performing in films like that?"
"It's what she was doing when we first met," I laughed. "Then we fell in love, and got married, and she continued on with her career. Why should it bother me? Look officer, my wife may fuck other men in front of a camera. It doesn't mean a thing to her or to me. But when she wants to make love, I'm the one she comes to. Get me?"
I could tell by the look in his eyes the cop had a lot of responses to that, but they were all based on his own personal morality, and he knew better than to air them in public, while on the job. He just stood there and glared at me. After a few ticks, I said, "So, it would seem you've had all your curiosities answered. There's nothing going on here, the neighborhood is peaceful, citizens and property are safe, no laws are being broken. Did you have any more questions?"
Suddenly the cop snapped. He yelled, "Yes! What the hell is wrong with you? You bring your wife to hang around a convention of hoodlums all damn weekend, you say she stars in dirty movies that you make and you don't care.... What is wrong with you? You say you're a millionaire? You look like some street thug from LA. Your wife is a professional whore, and you don't care? You both deserve anything that happens to you this weekend! You'll come crying to us when your wife the porn star is gang raped and you've been robbed of everything, won't you? You're some kind of sicko, that's all. You're sick."
The cop ran out of steam. Suddenly he looked around, so did I. We were surrounded by Hell's Angels, all silently listening to us (but especially him). Terry was right at the cop's side. She smiled up at him and said, "Gosh, officer. You're starting to run into some heavy slander. And in front of witnesses."
A grinning Angel, named Chico according to his denim, said, "Really now, officer. Do you always verbally abuse citizens, ones who have been totally cooperative with you and answered all your questions?"
Another Angel threw in, "You are charged with enforcing the law, officer. You don't get to insult people just because you don't like how they live their lives."
Someone's old lady piped up, "You know where morality is enforced by law? Iran."
The other two cops were at the edge of this little gathering, but had do reason to act. The Angels weren't crowding the cop, I was the only one being crowded. By him. One of the other cops said to the small group, "Let's break it up, you're blocking the sidewalk." The Angels sort of drifted to the wall of the building next to us, still plenty close to hear anything said. They stood there and gave small cunning smiles at the officers.
The third cop walked up to the one who had been upbraiding me and put his hand on his arm. He said, "Let's get rolling, there's no incident here. Come on Harry, you're not in complete control right now, lets' just drift, you'll only work yourself into trouble here."
I watched as my moral accuser with a badge shifted his eyes rapidly between me and the third cop. I kept as placid a look on my face as I could, blank as bread dough. My cop, Harry, blurted at his partner, "Let's at least run this bastard's name through the computers, maybe he's got outstanding warrants...."
"You know the chief wants those cells empty, we may be holding a whole lot of people by Monday. They'd just kick him loose in six hours. Forget it, let's go...."
Harry the cop turned his head at me and barked, "Stay out of this town, we don't need trash like you here. You hang around criminals, you're a criminal and a pimp, you pimp your wife, you're sick, nobody wants you here. I'd have all the trash like you six feet under if I could."
From against the wall, I heard Terry's voice say, "You don't know him at all, or his wife. I'm not sure what your issue is, officer, but you're way out of line right now. I suggest you apologize to Lenny for calling him a pimp, maybe he won't drag you into court for slander. He's got the witnesses to do it, all standing right here."
All three cops stared at Terry, who kept her drop-a-motherfucker smile on her face. The uninitiated would see a small grin, one of nonchalance. Anyone familiar with Terry knew that when she appeared to be relaxed and collected, it meant she was focusing, keeping every nerve aware, gathering her strength. When Terry appeared to be nonchalant and relaxed, she was at her most dangerous. The cops wouldn't know this, of course. They just saw a five foot six scooter tramp, one who was inserting her opinion where it wasn't needed. But they also knew she was right: Harry the cop was out of bounds, where people could hear him, and those people would love to cause trouble for a cop.
The cop holding Harry by the arm briefly made a face like he was swallowing turpentine, then quietly said to me, "I apologize for my partner here, he's been under a bit of stress recently, he lets his temper get away with him. We'll be going now. We don't expect any trouble from here, right? Good afternoon."
Harry started to speak, and the other cop said, "Shut up, Harry," and walked him to his patrol car. The other two cops looked at each other, I swear they rolled their eyes. Then they got in their respective vehicles. All three city cops took off, headed who knows where. Hopefully to get Harry medicated.
The Angels that had been hanging around began to drift back to the bar. Terry walked up to me and said, "Jesus fuckin' Christ, that oinker was around the bend. What the fuck set him off?"
I grinned and shook my head. "He asked me questions, which I answered truthfully, He didn't like the answers. You heard him. Bekka is a whore, I'm a pimp, I endanger the both of us by hanging around violent criminals like H.A.... It's obvious he views the Angels as Visigoths, a band of rapists and looters who destroy for fun. To him, I'm some reckless young punk who wants a thrill, and drags my wife along with me, even though I'm sure to get her raped. And I'll bet he sees both Bekka and me as perverts. We make porn, so we must be sexual deviants. Obviously I am, since my wife has sex with men who aren't me for money, and I don't mind. Really, I offend that cop's moral sensibilities, but that's not a crime, and that drives him crazy. He can't give me the punishment I deserve."
Terry started laughing. "Aw shit, could you imagine if he'd got all high and mighty with Bekka? She'd have ripped him a new one, and done it in a way that was totally above board. She's had enough practice in interviews getting her opinions across, her telling him about any aspect of her life would have made his head explode. 'Well officer, I'm bisexual, I'm married but support polyamory, I fuck for a living, my husband sleeps with other women besides me because I arranged it to happen, and I'm friends with people you believe to be unfit to walk among civilized folks. And there's nothing you can do about it, so get out of my face.' Speaking of, we gotta go catch up with the chick."
We walked down the block to where Bekka/Becky was signing a gas tank for a chubby Angel from Portland named Lumpy. I was glad she'd kept moving, the two of us together would have really snapped Harry the cop's mind. She gave Lumpy his hug, then turned to me. "Well!" she said. "Was there some conflict I didn't notice?"
"Only an internal one, in the head of that cop," I answered. "His moral views, and his opinions about what is right and wrong, aren't supported by law in California. I believe he's frustrated that he can't arrest people for being sleazy. It's not a crime for me to not care about what my wife does for a living, and no law is broken when the both of us spend time around people he views as cancers on society. I offend him, and there's nothing he can do about it, which is driving him insane."
"I hate to imagine his opinions of me," commented Bekka. "A career porn slut, one who befriends Hell's Angels. He'd probably have me chucked in a mental hospital, as I'm obviously self-destructive."
"He was calling Lenny a pimp and a criminal," said Terry. "I had to remind him he was saying these things in public, and that slander is something he could be sued for. Oh, and you're a whore."
"I prefer being a slut," Bekka/Becky responded. "Whores don't seem to have as much fun as sluts, they don't get to giggle very often."
Twenty minutes later the last gas tank had been signed, and we headed back for the bar. It was just me, Bekka (Becky had faded into the background), and Terry. I was curious about something, so I asked Bekka, "I haven't noticed Becky being at the controls much this weekend. It's like she hasn't been around much until this afternoon, and even then, Bekka seemed to be right alongside her. I figured you'd leave Becky in charge all damn weekend, she'd deal with drunken Hell's Angels better, not to mention providing fan service to those same Angels. What's going on?"
Bekka smiled and said, "Bekka and Becky have been collaborating all this time. Okay, you'd say that Bekka is the more sedate and graceful of the two, right? Becky would want to run around meeting everyone in every chapter, giving them all hugs, espousing her views on sexuality unprompted. Just by her behavior, Bekka demands to be treated like a lady. Giving off that vibe is a better thing on this run. Late at night when everyone is half tanked, there are going to be a few Angels who would like to get into the pants of Becky Page, and make fairly ham-handed attempts to do so. Having Becky at the controls would have given the impression all weekend that such a move could work. Bekka appears more reserved, gives off a bit of an ice queen feeling, which would make those drunk Angels think, 'Wow, she's not at all like she is in her movies. She wouldn't be any fun to bag.' So Bekka has been at the controls, but Becky has been standing right behind her, whispering advice in her ear."
Terry asked, "Uh.... Bekka, what the fuck are you talking about?"
So Bekka and I explained about what was going on in Bekka's head, how the super ego and the alter ego had developed two distinct personas, Bekka being the dominant (super) ego, Becky being the lesser (alter) ego. We elaborated on how Bekka was the reserved, mature one, and was the one who also had the final say on things, the ultimate arbiter. Becky was the one who wanted to party all night, brash and adventurous. Either one could be at the "controls" of Bekka's mind, taking charge when needed. Bekka dealt well with things like court appearances and business meetings, Becky could handle large crowds of fans spotting her at the mall, and unknown situations. We explained that I had learned how to call either ego forward, depending on whose opinion I wanted. Bekka held ultimate veto power over decisions, but Becky would always be able to throw her two cents in. It wasn't a split personality, it was simply two aspects of the same personality becoming so distinct they had begun to function independently of each other.
Terry stared at Bekka and said, "Holy fuckin' shit. It hasn't been my imagination."
"What do you mean?"asked Bekka.
"A lot of times, especially when we're out in public, I've gotten the feeling like two different people were talking and acting out of you. Like, when you and me are sitting in a restaurant, just kicking back, you're one person. But when we've gone to the mall and been mobbed by fans, you're another person completely. Your speech, how you move, your gestures, they're totally different. I kept telling myself I was fuckin' imagining things, you know? But Jesus fuck, I guess I wasn't. Fuck."
"It bothered the hell out of me at first," I said. "I was thinking, oh my God, my wife has dissociative disorder or whatever it's called, she has two completely different personalities. But Bekka explained to me that Bekka and Becky were the same person, they were fully aware of each other, and couldn't hide anything. It's like two people sharing a computer, all the information is there for either one to use. What they do with that information might be different, but it's still the same. And it's not hidden."
We went back in the bar. Jane had stuck with Riley all this time, which was fine with me. He was tough as nails, he was sober, and his own personal moral code wasn't about to let anything happen to a seventeen year old girl. They were playing a game of straight pool when we walked up, Riley watching Jane shoot with amazement and annoyance. Apparently Jane had been mopping the floor with Riley.
"She's an ace, a goddamn hustler," Riley growled. "She clears half the table at once. We gotta teach this little girl nine ball."
"She's a savant at pinball, too," I said.
Bending over to shoot, Jane said, "What can I say, I'm good at playing with balls."
"And you've just used up your one double entendre for the weekend," Bekka said. "I'm amazed no one has commented on the back of your leather so far."
Riley said, "I asked her about it. I was thinking, no way does it mean what I think it means. 'Machine Snatch?' She explained it, and I told her to come up with an alternative definition to tell people this weekend, any bullshit but what she really means. Jesus. I'm on a run, and I'm hanging around a teenage nympho pool shark."
"She's not a nympho, though," I said. "Jane has a turbocharged sex drive, but she's not compulsive, she doesn't sport-fuck."
"I'm far better than I used to be," Jane told Riley. "When I was fourteen, I may have qualified as a nymphomaniac. To me, boys were just penis life support systems. I seduced three of my teachers. I was getting As in my classes, but I did it anyway, just because. I'm a much safer person now that I'm in California, and with Lenny and Becky."
"Jesus," muttered Riley. "If either of my daughters was acting like that, I'd have the damn brat at a shrink so fast she'd get whiplash."
"You have children?" asked Bekka.
"Two daughters, sixteen and nineteen. The nineteen year old is attending Cal Poly, she's gonna be around tomorrow at the preserve. Good kid. Cal Poly is a high-powered school, and she got in on a scholarship. Shit, me and my old lady seriously did some scamming and wrangling to get her through school. No goddamn way was I sending my daughters to school in Oakland, and we couldn't afford private schools. But my sister lives in Berkeley proper, and their schools are good, so we told Berkeley Unified that my sister was their legal guardian, their dad was a Hell's Angel fuck-up. Found out later that, holy shit, me, my sister, and my wife could have all gone to jail for perjury for lying on those enrollment forms. But nobody caught on. The younger one is at Berkeley High, starting her junior year in a couple days. She's another smart one, she's also college-bound." Riley paused to rub his chin. "I'm glad my girls aren't gonna be anything like their parents."
Riley missed his shot, prompting a brief burst of profanity. Bekka said, "If she hasn't told you already, Jane is going to attend UC Berkeley, that's the goal, anyway. She's got the grades, and she has a, uh, benefactor who's going to pay her way all four years."
"Same guy who took her to Europe?" Riley asked. "She was telling me about her travels this summer."
"That's him, Don Vito Ventimiglia of Los Angeles. The Don is seventy-eight, but he and Jane are the best of friends. They make quite an unusual pair, as you can guess."
Jane said from the pool table, "Yeah, me and Vito really fuck with peoples' heads, I guess. We don't look like we should have anything to do with each other. We were telling people on our trip that I was his grand-niece, just to simplify matters. Otherwise people were assuming I was his paid play-toy, you know? It is kinda weird, I mean, Vito is probably one of the closest friends I've ever had in my life. We can talk to each other about anything. He doesn't think of me as a young girl, and I don't think of him as an old man. We're just Vito and Jane, we like riding our Sportsters through the Hollywood Hills together and hanging out at the beach. We're just really close friends, that's all. Fuck what other people think."
Jane finished clearing the solids, winning the game. "That's four in a fucking row she's beaten me," grumbled Riley, grabbing the ball rack and setting it on the table. "Okay girl, time to learn nine ball. You can start beating my ass at that game, too."
The young Angel named Soda Pop (from Berdoo) approached us, with a look not normally associated with Hell's Angels: one of shyness. He stepped up to Bekka and said, "Excuse me, Ms. Page? Becky? Can I ask you a question, if that's okay?"
"Ask away, sweetie," smiled Bekka.
"I was curious, uh, okay, you're here with the Dago chapter, they're your friends. How did you meet them? How did you hook up with Dago?"
Bekka explained about being introduced by Roach (Fucker), us hitting it off with everyone, spending more and more time hanging out with the Dago people. We were at the bar a couple times a week, and also would party with people too. Bekka said, "The Angels adapted to who I am, and what I do, much faster than most other people. To the Dago boys, I'm not Becky the porn star, I'm just Becky, and I happen to have a very strange job. I seem to have the same sense of humor as Hell's Angels, we also hold a lot of the same cynicism about the world. I like playing nine ball, and drinking Jack Daniels, and cracking jokes. I love my Sportster, but I'm not an avid rider like Angels are, it's just a part-time hobby. That's why I didn't ride up this weekend, me and Lenny felt like us riding would be a pose, like we're trying to be something we're not. He and I are anarchists, but we're not outlaws. But yes, the Dago Angels were much more accepting of me, and much sooner, than most people are."
"Too cool," said Soda Pop. "I guess you didn't buy the bullshit about what terrible people Hell's Angels are. You gave us a chance. That's really awesome of you."
"Well, like I said, I was friends with Fucker. Okay, Fucker is an Angel, but he's a good guy. Why wouldn't his brothers in the club also be good guys? No, I didn't give much credence to what I'd read about the Angels in the paper. It all seemed too over the top, too dramatic. That, and I wouldn't trust the local papers in San Diego to tell me the sky was blue. Tell me, how did you get the name Soda Pop?"
The young Angel held up his glass and said, "I don't drink. My fuckin' parents were alkys, everything about growing up was bullshit. I mean, I recognized what the problem was in our house by the time I was nine years old, and I swore I'd never touch a goddamn drop. I left home at fifteen and started picking pockets in Santa Monica and Venice, crashing where I could. A couple of Angels from the LA chapter had a house in Venice. They started letting me crash in their garage. They taught me how to ride, and also how to work on a putt. That was a big thing for me, I'd never thought about being interested in anything mechanical, but I really got into working on putts, and I was good at it.
"They had friends in the Berdoo chapter who owned a garage. The guys in Berdoo made me an offer: come turn wrenches for them, they'd give me a room in one of their houses, feed me, and pay me some too. Shit yeah, I'll take that offer. For the first time in my life, I was part of a household, they treated me like family, and in a good way. Of course I was hanging around the Berdoo chapter all the time, and I got known as this kid who could diagnose and repair a putt faster and better than anyone else. I saved up and got my own putt when I was eighteen, then the chapter told me, 'If you want in, we'll take you.' The fuckin' Hell's Angels are better family than I'd ever had, so I was in."
Soda Pop stared at the game of nine ball briefly and said, "You know what, Becky? You're the first woman to hug me that I wasn't having sex with, that I can remember. My fuckin' mom never hugged me, she hated that I was even there. Her and my dad hated me because they had to take care of me. They didn't want to be bothered, they hated that I had to be fed and have clothes and shit. They didn't smack me around too often, but they treated me like shit all the time. They never even smiled at me.
"Since I was around the Berdoo Angels all the time, I'd go to their parties. The chicks who would be there would see me and think, 'Hey, I'm gonna blow that kid's mind.' I lost my virginity when I was sixteen, in a booth in a bar in Fontana. Never knew who the chick was, I never saw her around again." Soda Pop stared at the pool table. "Yeah, Becky, you're the first woman I can think of who has hugged me just.... Because. You were just being nice. That was really cool of you. Thanks."
"You're very welcome, Soda Pop," said Bekka. "Would you like another?"
"Yeah," he grinned. "That would be awesome."
Bekka gave the young Angel another long, tight hug. When they broke apart, Soda Pop swallowed and blinked a few times, then said in a crackling voice, "Thank you, Becky, you are so fuckin' awesome." He looked at his boots a moment and said, "Uh, I gotta get back to the guys I'm with. I'll see you around, okay?"
"See you at dinner tonight," said Bekka. Soda Pop walked back to a table halfway across the room.
"I believe you've picked up another acolyte," I commented.
Bekka shrugged and said, "At least this one has a tangible reason. He didn't get hung up on video images. God, did everyone in H.A. have a fucked up childhood?"
"More often than not, I fear."
By 3:30 Baxter's was standing room only. There were five locals seated at the end of the bar, observing, keeping vague expressions on their faces. A group of Angels coming from the beach entered, their old ladies still in bathing suits, which caused much hooting and catcalls. The jukebox had a selection of Top 40 pop for the most part, so we'd heard "Bad to the Bone" by George Thorogood about eight times. Now understanding nine ball. Jane remained at the pool table, defeating all challengers, much to their dismay. Some underage punker girl, the little hottie who lives with Becky Page and her husband, was a shark. Some Angels, having watched their friends be defeated, offered to put up money when playing Jane. Her and the Angel would slap down a twenty each, giving the cash to Terry or Riley to hold while they played. Jane was up $140 by the time she finally lost a game, smilingly giving up the table to the victor. "I've created a fuckin' monster, haven't I?" Riley asked rhetorically, watching Jane pocket her cash.
At about 5:15 somebody yelled over the noise that the chuck wagon would be open in fifteen minutes, time for chow, let's roll. This sounded just goddamn great to everyone present, and the exodus began, the Angels and old ladies headed for their bikes. It seemed to be taken for granted that they would ride as a group, even the relatively short distance they were covering. The Angels would fire up and pull out, then sit there blocking the right lane of Cabrillo. Other motorists could just go the fuck around. Once it looked like everybody was on the street, they tightened up and took off. Jane and Terry were somewhere in the pack, the protocol of riding with the chapter not being applied.
Bekka and I were the last ones out. I looked around the now nearly-empty bar. Lots of spilled beer on the floor and tables, a few broken bottles, glasses everywhere, cigarette and cigar butts scattered. Still, no broken windows or structural damage. I paid off the bartender and asked what he thought.
"Good lord," he said. "Not even New Year's is like that. Those people sure can put away beer. I tell ya, I was worried about something happening all afternoon, like a fight or a woman getting attacked or my windows broke out. I'm glad nothing happened."
Bekka told him, "If a fight had broken out, it would have been a local starting shit. If two Angels are pissed enough at each other, they'll go outside to brawl, so there's more room and they aren't annoying people. No, the Angels aren't about to assault a woman in the middle of tha bar. What would have been more likely was some local talent deciding after nine drinks she wants to prove to a group of Angels that she can suck a golf ball through a garden hose, if you get me. They'd put her in a booth and take their turns. Not classy on anyone's part, but at least consensual. And the Angels know better than to play with broken plate glass."
"Are they gonna be back tonight?" the bartender asked nervously.
"Some, but not as many," I answered. "There's a party where we're camped tonight, live music and free kegs. Any H.A. coming down here want to get away from a crowd, the party is gonna be bedlam."
He asked our connection to the club, and we explained. He was another one who was amazed Bekka hadn't been raped yet. "I mean, a porn star, hanging around those folks? They're gonna make some assumptions, you know? They'll think she'll be making herself available."
"And both me and the entire Dago chapter will disabuse anyone of that idea," I said. "Becky has been treated very well so far, we've had more trouble with creeps at the mall."
We walked back to the Falcon. Bekka headed for the driver's door, then jerked to a halt and stared at the rear window. "Huh," she said.
I looked. In the lower left corner, a vinyl sticker had appeared. It was about three inches by five, and was the image of an ornate winged death's head: the Hell's Angels logo. Whoever had put it there meant for it to remain, they'd cleaned the glass before applying the sticker, and there were no air bubbles. Bekka and I looked at each other.
"Nice little souvenir," Bekka said.
I thought about it and said, "Or a marker. There's a good chance our car was recognized, and somebody wants to make it clear we're associated with the club. That could be very useful in certain situations. I doubt those stickers are for sale anywhere, H.A. doesn't use the logo to turn a dime."
We drove back to the preserve in relative silence, puzzling over this talisman.