Monday, February 13, 2017

Preacher (Part 1)

The location of Terry's first regional target competition was at the Riverside Co. fairgrounds.  She had quite a crew backing her up, we'd taken two vehicles.  Terry drove up in her Nova, with Gerald and an ex-street drunk named Drummer, who I'll explain in a minute.  The Fleetwood contained Bekka, Jane, and myself.  And a Berdoo Hell's Angel, a younger guy named Soda Pop, would be meeting us there....  Although his primary interest was Jane, who he'd met at the H.A. Labor Day run, not target shooting.

     Regarding Drummer: he'd been a fixture of Ocean Beach in San Diego for years.  A career alcoholic, he maintained a heavy vodka buzz during his waking hours, spare-changing on OB's main strip, hanging around Dog Beach, and wandering the streets of the area like a highly disorganized beat cop.  While he wasn't the sort to pass out and piss himself, his hygiene was atrocious, so he just plain smelled bad.  (Occasional forays into dumpsters in search of food added to the funk.)  He was around sixty-five, had a voice like a squeaky rasp working on sheet metal, and was the friggin' eyes and ears of the neighborhood.  He was surprisingly sharp and observant, considering his boozed-soaked brain.  Drummer didn't have a hell of a lot to do during the day, so he'd walk around.  The police assigned to the area probably dreamed of having Drummer's knowledge of what was going on, and with the detail Drummer had.
     Dawn, a fluffer at Inana Productions, had lived in Ocean Beach for over a year.  Her address was the license plate number on her '75 Oldsmobile.  Both being homeless, Dawn and Drummer had become acquainted, and ended up being good friends.  She introduced Bekka and I to him shortly after we'd rescued her from her bleak existence.  Later, Bekka and Terry ran across him again.  Terry was an OB resident, and was a bit distressed to learn just how much Drummer knew about her life: her motorcycle, her previous drug dealing, where she lived, who she hung out with.  Drummer assured Terry he had no interest in her, he knew the same sorts of things about almost anyone who had lived in the neighborhood more than a month.
     So Terry ended up making a deal with Drummer, which was if he got sober, he could live with her.  She had a spare room, she could easily afford to keep Drummer in food and cigarettes, and he would finally live indoors (and have access to a shower and laundry).   Drummer insisted on staying on the streets until he'd detoxed, then showed up at Terry's, what few possessions he had in a bindle.  He'd saved some clean clothes for that day.  Terry showed him to his new room.  The first thing he did was grab the clean clothes, a can of shaving cream and new disposable razor, and take a shower....  The first time in years he'd showered under hot water, and shaved using a mirror.  Drummer stepped out of the bathroom, clean and shaved, his hair combed.  He announced to Terry, "Well, hell.  All that work and I'm still ugly," and burst into tears.  Terry hugged him for a while.  Then she nuked up some leftover pasta for the both of them, took Drummer to a barber, then to Mervyn's, so Drummer could have clothes no one had ever worn before him.  He was sober just over a month when we all went to Riverside.  "In fer the long haul on the wagon this time," he'd rasped.   "Dried out in the past, but it never took.  Damn and shit, when you wake up in the morning and the first thing you see is a dumpster, bein' sober is damn tough.  I was dry, but how I was living was the same, so I'd crawl back in the bottle."
     There were about 350 cars clustered in the fairgrounds lot.  We parked and got out.  Jane immediately realized she could hear a Harley engine running back and forth in the aisles, so she had me put her on my shoulders for a better view.  Jane spotted the H.A. colors on the rider, waited until he was pointed back in our general direction, and began frantically waving her arms.  Sure enough, it was Soda Pop.  He rode up and anchored in a space.  Back on the ground, Jane ran to him and they embraced, followed by a long, deep kiss.
     Soda Pop was introduced to Drummer (who wasn't concerned about Soda Pop's fraternal associations) and we headed towards the entrance, following signs.  Terry went to check in and have her two pistols inspected.  One was her target pistol, an expensive .22 Beretta called a Target 87, and a Colt 1911, a huge .45 caliber pistol with the subtlety of a Abrams tank.  She carried this .45 for warming up:  forty rounds through that bastard, and the Target 87 felt as light and smooth as a Super Soaker.  The noise of the thing did tend to put off her fellow competitors, though.  There would be forty of them that day, competing in an elimination ladder.
     People milled around outside the large range, not wanting to land in the spectator bleachers until it was time.  Despite people whose hobby was guns, there were only a few rabid Second Amendment types around, as evidenced by their t-shirts.  I was sure NRA membership was common, though.  Our little group stood out, and we were gawked at.  Two punks, a Hell's Angel, what appeared to be a goth hooker, a computer geek, and a skinny older guy so weathered and grizzled it was a little disturbing.  Drummer was in slacks, an oxford shirt, Doc Marten boots (a gift from Bekka), and a Greek fisherman's hat.  The hat was filthy, torn, and had a pin on it reading "Reality Sucks."  It had been laundered, but still looked terrible.
     Gerald stepped inside to check out the range.  Fifty lanes, well lit, shared load tables to the rear.  A  bored looking deputy stood to one side.  Competitors would be assigned a lane at random, and begin prepping for competition.  There were cheap paper targets at each lane, so the shooters could run them out and begin warming up.  He saw Terry enter from one side, called and waved, and went to give her a kiss.  She would be in lane 18 to start.  She set down gun cases, ammo, and a bottle of Dr. Pepper on the load table and started loading clips.  Her appearance had attracted attention.  The other competitors all were dressed as Generic White People, the only exception being a guy in a t-shirt announcing that an armed society is a polite society.  Terry was a career biker bitch, looking the part.  And on this day, her appearance was even more jarring: instead of the usual Harley Davidson or Jack Daniels t-shirt, she'd borrowed Jane's lucky blue leather bustier, hoping the luck carried over.  An outlaw sex bomb with a gun.
     She sat down at the load table and smiled at the middle-aged man already there.  "Whassup?" she said, sticking a hand out, "Terry Patton, San Diego.  How's shit?"
      The man, a lumpy specimen in a golf shirt, looked at Terry with alarm.  There was no smoking allowed on the range, so Terry was chewing on an unlit Camel.  He took her hand with suspicion, and winced as they shook.  Terry shook hands like every other outlaw biker in the world, in that she tried to crush the hand of the other person into an hourglass shape.  It wasn't hostility, it's the way bikers shake hands with everyone.  The man took his hand back and said curtly, "Will Biggs.  Lancaster."
     "Done one of these fuckin' shoot-outs before?" asked Terry.  "I been entering these fuckin' weekly competitions at my range in Dago, and kicking ass, so everybody's telling me, 'Bitch, try a regional shoot, you're too fuckin' good not to.'  So here I am.  Any sorta fuckin' protocol I should know about?"
     Will stared briefly, then simply said, "No."
     "Any other chicks shooting today?   In Dago, it's usually just me and one other fuckin' chick named Peggy every week."
     "I don't know.  I doubt it."  Will paused and said in an acid manner, "There are separate ladies' competitions.  Why didn't you try to compete in one of those?"
     Terry chuckled and said, "Shit, I guess two reasons.  First, I didn't know they existed.  Second, I ain't kidding anyone and saying I'm a fuckin' lady."  She considered Will briefly.  "Okay, a fuckin' third reason.  Why have gender specific events?  I'd wanna shoot against both dudes and chicks, but if there's gonna be separation, I'd prefer competing against fuckin' guys.  I been knocking horns with dudes my whole fuckin' life, I'd wanna keep doing it with this shit."
     "There is no prohibition against women competing here.  If there was, you'd have not been entered at all.  However, protocol says people enter events based on their gender."
     "Okay.  So, there is some fuckin' protocol around here.  Hey, okay, I been in situations where I'm the only chick around before, I ain't gonna let if fuckin' bother me here.  So long as nobody's sweating me, I ain't worried."
     In a tight voice, Will said, "Your presence will be noticed.  Why are you dressed like that?"
     Frowning, Terry said, "Dressed like what?"
     "Your appearance.  This....  blue top you have on, the bandana...."
     "Aw, shit!" Terry laughed.  "Look, I been a scooter tramp since I was thirteen, so I'm always gonna look like a fuckin' scooter tramp.  The bustier is a lucky piece I borrowed from this crazy young chick, she's a fuckin' friend.  I'm hoping I get some fuckin' good luck wearing it.  Yeah, okay, it's a little low-cut.  Fuck it, they're only tits.  Half the fuckin' species has 'em."
     Will stonily walked up to his lane to start warming up.  Terry had three clips for the Colt loaded, and did the same.  The two spare clips got tucked into her cleavage.  The sharp boom of .45 caliber ammo rattled everyone on the range.  They all turned to look in Terry's direction.  With a scowl, Will stepped out of his lane and waited at the safety line for Terry to finish her clip, then placed a hand on her shoulder, common practice to get someone's attention on a range.  "What on earth are you doing?" he asked.
     Terry looked genuinely confused, as she was.  "Uh, warming up?  Why, whassup?"
     "What the hell are you firing?"
     "A Colt 1911.  It's a fuckin' .45, so yeah, it's a little loud.  But you get good at handling this motherfucker, you can fire anything.  After warming up with this, my fuckin' Beretta is as light as a feather."
     One of the range officials also came up to investigate.  Terry explained about the wrist strength using the .45 had given her, and her initial choice of target pistols.  "Aw, shit!" she laughed.  "I first learned how to shot with a fuckin' Beretta 92FS.  When I started entering the shoot-outs at my range, the only iron I owned was this fuckin' 1911, and I knew that wouldn't do.  But the fuckin' range rented pistols, including Beretta 92s.  So I entered my first three fuckin' contests with a big-ass nine millimeter cannon.  I was blowing people away, they couldn't figure out how the fuck I was getting the scores I was with fuckin' three dot sights.  I told 'em, fuck it, that's what I learned with, you know?"
     The official gestured at Terry's chest and said, "Do you always keep your clips there?"
     "Naw, usually I wear t-shirts.  But today's kinda fuckin' special for me, so I got a little fancy."
     An announcement over the PA said the shooting would start in five minutes.  Everyone headed for the bleachers.  All forty contestants would be firing at once to start.  Twenty would be eliminated, ties resolved by having the two contestants tied fire again, against each other.  The field would be whittled down like this, leaving one man standing.  At the quarter-final round, shooters would fire one at a time, to minimize distraction.
     As a spectator sport, it's lacking.  Of course, people watch golf on TV for some stupid reason, so I may be the wrong judge.  There would be a decent break between rounds, too.  Everyone in our little group went out for a smoke before the quarter-final.  Terry, a master of confidence, kept in the contest.... Until it was just her and another competitor.  The last round pitted her against a guy from Bakersfield, a man with a couple decades of experience.  Even at a distance, you could see his mouth open in shock when he realized who he was going against for the win.  Terry stepped towards him, hand out.  I could hear her saying with a big smile, "Whassup, chief?  Right on, let's throw some fuckin' lead."  The Bakersfield man shook her hand for a nanosecond, then stood in his lane.
     Final points: Terry, 93, Bakersfield guy, 94.  Very close.  Terry shook his hand and said, "Fuckin' awesome, dude."  Then she chuckled, "So the beers are on you tonight, right?"
     The Bakersfield guy got $1000 and a trophy, Terry received $500 and a smaller trophy, holding the prize aloft and bowing at the audience as they applauded.  I heard someone near me query what planet she had come from.  Another voice commented she looked like a character from "Blade Runner."  And some prick right next to me remarked, "Now there's a hooker with an unusual hobby."
     I leaned close to him and said, "Terry Patton is not a hooker, she's a bodyguard.  In fact, she's my wife's bodyguard.  Check yourself, Norbert."
     The prick gave me a querulous frown and said, "You know her?  Why does your wife have a bodyguard?"
    "Terry and I are very intimate, and my wife and I hired Terry because my wife has some rabid fans.  She's commonly known as Becky Page."  He had a blank look, so I continued, "You know who Becky Page is, right?"
    Norbert gave me a hood-lidded look and said, "Oh.  Yes.  The, uh, porn actress.  And you say you're married to her?"
     I nudged Bekka and said, "Hey hon, tell Norbert here who I am."
     Bekka leaned forward to look at Norbert, whose eyes widened when he saw her.  She said, "This is my husband, Lenny Schneider.  Hello, Norbert."
     "My name is Ronald," came the response.  "So your husband said the woman who took second place is your bodyguard?  Given your, uh, employment, she looks appropriate for the work."
     "Terry usually wears t-shirts, as he can't wear a bustier and a shoulder holster together.  But she is highly skilled as a guard, she's kept some very risky people away from me.  Terry is a dream.  She's very observant, adept at defense, has good intuition, and is not disruptive to my day.  She is almost always with me when I go out and Lenny's not around."
     Ronald said, "I imagine you would attract the disturbed, given what sort of movies you appear in.  The maladjusted and perverted are surely drawn to you."
     I showed him a lot of teeth and said, "It sounds like you're working your way up to insulting the woman I love.  Don't, you'll really hate the results.  Have you ever seen any of her movies?"
     "Absolutely not.  Pornography wrecks the mind, you become obsessed with sex.  Soon you're looking at stuff that is disgusting, because you're not taking any enjoyment from what you were first looking at...."
     "Define 'disgusting,'" cooed Bekka.
     "Um, bondage or S&M, or child pornography, or even worse things.  Illegal porn."
     With a mystified look, Bekka said, "I've heard that suggested before, but not by any sort of academic authority.  That makes no sense.  One's sexual interests would not change, even if the porn a person consumes had become tedious to them.  If you enjoy fairly standard straight porn, you're not going to develop a taste for sadomasochist material just because you're bored.  It would hold no more interest than gay porn would to a heterosexual."
     Ronald had developed a pious look, and now said, "Porn corrupts.  It is a distraction, it has no positive effect on society, and it warps those who look at it.  Pornography makes people wallow in base, decadent thoughts, they believe the everyday world should be like what they see in porn."
     "The same accusations could be made about a lot of things.  Video games, pop music, even mainstream movies.  Anything corrupts when the consumer begins to obsess over it.  And some people can be rather sexually impulsive with or without porn."
     "Hey, what are you guys talking about?" asked Jane.  "Sounds like you're on my turf."
     "This man has major issues with porn, and also appears to have issues with sex in general.  He feels both are going to be the downfall of society."
     Jane snickered and said to Ronald, "I have sex on my mind constantly.  If this was my ideal world, an average of four hours a day would be devoted to nothing but sucking and fucking with a compatible lover, or lovers.  Also, I'd be able to walk up to a cute boy and tell him I wanna fuck his brains out at the nearest opportunity, and not be labeled a slut.  I'm not a slut, I'm a libertine.  Shit, if I expressed and acted on every sexual thought I have during the day, all of Southern California would smell of cum, pussy, and Astroglide."
     "Jane has a very healthy libido," I grinned.
     "Jane could wear out Wilt Chamberlain," added Bekka.
     "She just plain fucked me stupid," threw in Soda Pop with a leer.
     "How old are you?" asked Ronald in amazement.  "You look like a teenager.  If I had a daughter and she tried to go out in public dressed like you, I'd paddle her, then lock her in her room."
     "I'm seventeen," chirped Jane.  "By the way, paddling your daughter would probably just give her a hangup for being spanked by her lovers.  My parents used to spank me, until I was fifteen.  Now I love having my ass smacked repeatedly when I fuck.  I'm not sure about how the nerves are connected, but being spanked used to get me soaking wet, starting at age twelve."
     Soda Pop gave Jane a crooked grin and said, "Okay, wow.  I was wondering why you were asking me to smack your ass when we were doing it doggy style.  Huh."
     "I like my ass smacked too," said Bekka.  "It's like an extra stimulation, an accent."
     Drummer threw in his own two cents.  "I been with women who was at Catholic school growin' up, they hadda deal with that shit all the time.  Teachers would bend 'em over the desk and wail away.  All them broads loved their butts bein' whacked when we'd screw.  Always wondered about that."
     Ronald took us all in wide-eyed, barked "You're all warped!" and began navigating his way off the bleachers.  We all shrugged, then began doing the same thing, heading for a snack stand outside at my suggestion.
     From the looks of things, this competition was also quite the social event, a way for target shooters of all skill levels to gather and gab.  Nobody was headed for their cars, everyone stood around, engaging in tech talk, debates, and gossip.  Waiting in line for sodas and munchies, I would overhear snippets of conversation, and a lot of it revolved around the woman who took second place.  Who was she?  She is ranked as a Novice, according to the roster, she's been shooting less than a year....  Yet she placed where she did.  Why is she dressed like that?  Why was she warming up with a large-caliber combat pistol?   Has anyone seen her before?
     Terry had a mental tracking device, which determined the exact location of Becky Page no matter how crowded an area.  She found us in the crowd without a problem.  "So fuckin' close!" she announced to us.  "Still, what the fuck, some of the fuckin' people I was up against are almost pros, they got fuckin' sponsorships and shit.  I thought I'd be dusted off by the second round, they've all been fuckin' shooters for years, and I'm a fuckin' novice still.  Yeah, I'm happy with second place.  Damn."
     We gave her hugs and admired the trophy.  She'd have to give it back before she left, so it could be inscribed.  The trophy and her $500 prize would be mailed.  She said the next regional competition was in five weeks, in Ventura.  Her registration form would be mailed to her automatically.  I gazed around and noticed there were plenty of folks looking at Terry with wonder.  After a couple minutes, people began drifting up to congratulate her, and probe as to who she was, where she came from, her competition history, and like that.  The only answer she gave that didn't raise eyebrows was the news she was from San Diego.  Nobody wanted to learn this sex bomb with a foul mouth had been shooting six months, and had only competed at a local shooting range against other hobbyists.
     Some prodded about her decision to wear a blue leather bustier.  Terry pulled Jane over, threw an arm around her neck, and said, "I borrowed it from this chick..  It's her fuckin' lucky bustier, and I wanted to borrow a little of that luck, y'know?  Besides, I didn't wanna be in a fuckin' t-shirt.  Hey, why not stand the fuck out a little?"
     A lucky bustier, very.... interesting, was the general response.
     "Hey, I got a lucky t-shirt, but the fuckin' thing has an obscenity on it, and I didn't want to fuck with people by wearing it."
     I.... see.
     After a few minutes, the Bakersfield guy came up and posed the standard questions to Terry.  As she answered, his face became more stiff, his mouth harder, his eyes cold.  He'd won, barely, over a woman --- a woman! --- who looked like a dominatrix on casual day.  She'd been shooting for less time than he'd been using the same razor cartridge for shaving in the mornings.  She swore, she'd had the same damn unlit cigarette in her mouth all day (including while shooting), and was now standing around with this motley assortment.  Oh, and she worked as a bodyguard for Becky Page, who's standing right there, with two punk rockers, a Hell's Angel, and a guy who looked like Methuselah's no-account brother.
     Several other competitors appeared, also curious about Terry.  The Bakersfield guy helped relate information.  After about five minutes, all the competitors were around Terry, earlier arrivals relaying her bio.  To a man, there seemed to be consternation.  This woman --- a woman! --- was upsetting the balance of things.   Eavesdropping on some conversation, it was clear these regional competitions had the same entrants over and over, the same men showing up wherever the events were.  Sort of like NASCAR racing, where you don't see new teams and drivers appearing very often.  So to sum up, Terry was a woman, an interloper into a tight-knit group, offensive in many ways, a novice.... And so obviously skilled she could not be ignored.
     One of the group asked Terry, "So do you plan on competing again?"
     "Oh, fuck yeah,"  Terry grinned.  "This was fun as fuck, it kicked ass.  I been up against the same bastards at my range in Dago for a while now, and they're getting too fuckin' easy to beat.  Shit, from what I heard, all you motherfuckers have been doing this for fuckin' years, some of you got sponsorships and shit.  Damn.  So fuck yeah, I guess Ventura is the next gig, I'm gonna be there.  Any of you going?"
     "Pretty much all of us," another shooter said.  "We've been competing for years."
     "Right on.  So any of you dudes ever do the state-wide or Western states events?  Shit, at that fuckin' level, is everybody a fuckin' pro, or at least sponsored?  That's how it sounds to me."
     Another voice said, "At those levels, everyone competing is trying to make a living as a marksman.  All of us are more than hobbyists, but we also have jobs.  Why, do you want to turn pro?"  There were a few chuckles.
      Terry rubbed her chin and said, "Well..... shit.  I dunno.  Not right now, I gotta get a few more shoot-outs under my fuckin' belt.  Also, I'm kinda committed to another gig, being Becky Page's bodyguard.  She's a friend, we're tight as fuck, and I ain't gonna fuck over a friend by leaving them in the lurch.  Her and her fuckin' husband are always telling me how hard it would be to fuckin' replace me.  No way am I ditching Becky.  If I do decide to move on, she's getting a shit-load of warning, you know?  It's one thing for me to not be available a couple days at a time, every now and then, but.... Fuck it, it ain't just a job.  Becky's my fuckin' friend, and you always get your friend's backs."
     "Is Becky Page under that many threats?" asked a voice.  The group of shooters laughed.
     "Kinda.  She's got some fuckin' fans that are seriously obsessed.  I get rid of dumb motherfuckers who want to get in her face.  Sometimes I'll need to put some fuckin' jackoff on the ground, you know?  I ain't seen any really heavy action yet.  Me and Becky both carry Colt Defenders concealed.  Shit, she's used hers on more than one occasion.  I've only had mine out of the holster at work to use as a fuckin' sap."  Terry laughed.  "Yeah, watch your asses, dudes!  Becky Page is a fuckin' pistol-packin' mama!"
     A derisive voice asked, "So how do you protect her?"
     Terry shrugged.  "I just bounce people the fuck off, you know?  I make it clear they gotta get through me, and I ain't letting that happen.  If shit gets fuckin' physical, I got some randon-ass martial  arts moves an old boyfriend taught me, the sorta fuckin' shit that can be useful in a bar brawl.  Yeah, Ive had to put people on the ground, on several occasions."
     "Are you in many bar fights?" was asked.  A bit more laughter.
     The sarcasm was detected, but Terry ignored it.  "Not any more.  I been a fuckin' scooter tramp since I was thirteen, so I've seen some major fuckin' punch-ups happen.  Fuckin' outlaw putt-monkeys don't back down, and they'll fuckin' drop anybody they don't recognize.  They don't give a fuck you're a chick, they'll put your lights out just because you ain't wearing their fuckin' colors.  But it's been probably eighteen months since I was in that sorta fuckin' bullshit.  I'm hanging around better people these days."
     A deep voice said, "So you're a woman, I'm guessing around five foot six and 115 pounds.  So who is it that you're beating up, junior high kids?" Laughter again.
     "Oh shit," I heard Bekka breathe.  I concurred.
     Terry's mouth shifted into its drop-a-motherfucker smile, and she cocked an eyebrow.  "Uh, no.  Full grown fuckin' dudes and shit.  Yeah, they're bigger than me.  So fuckin' what?  They need to get dropped, so I drop the dumb motherfuckers.  I stopped being scared of other people a long fuckin' time ago."
     "So do you think you can drop me?" the deep voice said.
     The smile got a bit sharper.  "You're just a fuckin' anonymous voice, I can't say.  Lemme see who the fuck you are.  But probably, yeah."
     A man stepped towards Terry.  He was about six foot two and 250 pounds, most of it muscle mass.  He was about forty years old, with a slightly graying crew cut.  His face was one of amusement and contempt.  Terry looked at him and said, "Oh, fuck yeah.  I could put you on the ground, no problem."
     The man said, "I'd love to see you try.  Listen woman, these competitions don't need dirty-mouthed biker chicks hanging around.  Go back to San Diego and find another hobby."
     "Or what?" Terry smiled.  Anyone who knew Terry understood her smile was a warning like a snake's rattle.
     "You may get proven wrong about how tough you are.  You should just leave.  And don't show up in Ventura, either."
     Bekka stepped forward to Terry and said in a clear voice, "Terry, this gentleman seems to have issues with you.  If you want, we could settle things like we did at the bar in Pismo Beach."
     "Sweet fuckin' idea," said Terry.  "I got the hunch he's just gonna be a fuckin' pebble in my boot if some boundaries don't get set.  You tell him what you got in mind."
     Stepping towards the muscle man and addressing him directly, Bekka said, "I have an idea, and it will involve me.  So, you don't believe Terry can drop you.  There are a lot of people who thought the same thing, and were proven to be, to use Terry's phrase, dumb motherfuckers.  Do you wish to be proven a dumb motherfucker, sir?  It could happen.  What I suggest is we go outside.  I will stand in one spot, Terry will stand several feet in front of me.  You will stand a ways off from Terry.  Your goal will be to put your hands on me.  I will remain in the same spot, I won't run.  If you reach me, Terry will stop entering these regional competitions.  They appear to have become de facto boy's clubs, a clique.  I'd expect this sort of scene to exist among high school cheerleaders, not grown men.
     "If Terry takes you down, you, sir, will not attend the Ventura event.  Lick your wounds, compete in the following event....  And accept the fact that a woman named Terry Patton will be there to compete.  The rest of you will also accept Terry's presence.  And concerted group effort to annoy or harass Terry will make me very, very angry, and I will see to it all your lives become much more untidy than they are now."
     "Are you threatening us?" came a voice.
     "I'm not making a threat, I'm stating a fucking fact.  So.  You, the gym bunny with the crew cut, do you accept this little arrangement?"
     "Fine with me," the muscle man replied.
     "Then please come outside with me and Terry.  In fact...."  Bekka stepped over to me and whispered in my ear.  I smiled, nodded, and gave consent.  Bekka stepped closer to the muscle man and said in a softer voice, "I'll sweeten the deal.  If you get past Terry, I'll go to your car with you and give you what might be the best blowjob you'll ever have.  I'll swallow, or you can come all over my face if you wish.  Would you like that?"
     The muscle man said, "I hope you have breath mints.  And a towel."
     A large group headed for the exit, consisting off the boy's club of shooters and our own collection.  Drummer was pooching his lips and frowning.  As we walked, he nudged me and said, "Damn and shit, I hope Terry knows what the hell she's doing.  That feller's got some brawn."
     I told him, "Terry will have to be dismembered before she'll let him get to Bekka."
     We went into a plaza area of the fairgrounds.  Bekka stood in one spot, Terry six or eight feet in front of her.  The muscle man stood fifteen feet away, giving Terry an ugly grin.  He called, "You ready, biker bim?"
     "Your fuckin' play, dude," Terry replied.  She'd finally lit the Camel in her mouth, it hung there while she gazed at the muscle man.  She looked as flustered as a Thorazine victim.
     The muscle man walked quickly towards her.  His right fist was ready, and when he was about six feet from Terry, he began to bring it up.  He got in range and began to swing the fist.  Terry stepped inside the swing and shot a karate punch into the muscle man's Adam's apple.  He made a garbling sound and grabbed at his throat with his other hand.  Terry stepped back slightly and punched his nose, with a long and powerful swing..  The muscle man squawked, and blood began pouring.
     He regrouped quickly.  Seeing Terry right there --- she was smirking at him --- he grabbed for her like she was a fumbled football.  She slid to one side, and grabbed at his opposite arm as he tried to grab at her.  His arm got twisted upwards, and Terry did a forward leg-sweep, dropping the muscle man on the ground.
     "Bitch!" he exclaimed, and came up at Terry like a wrestler.  She ducked below his arms, driving a shoulder into his abdomen.  Terry grabbed his belt at the back, lifted, and heaved upwards, throwing him over her head.  He landed crookedly on a shoulder.  It took him a moment to get up.  Then he bellowed and went for Terry, another fist swinging.  She grabbed a hold of the swinging arm with both hands and twisted.  The muscle man found himself being turned around, his arm torqued behind his back.  Terry let go with one hand, which reached around and got hold of his collar.  She flipped him face-first over her hip, following his fall and still bending the arm.  She landed on his lower back with one knee, the other foot flat on the pavement, the muscle man's arm twisted way up between his shoulder blades.  He struggled and grunted, and the arm was twisted higher, making him grunt with pain.
     Terry looked down at the back of the muscle man's head.  Her mouth still retained both its smile and her Camel.  She said calmly, "Look, you dumb motherfucker, first of all, I ain't no fuckin' bitch.  Also, you're gonna stay the fuck down here until I tell you you're allowed to move around.  Shit, the harder they come, the harder they fall...."
     She sprang to her feet.  The muscle man waited a few seconds, then made a move to start getting vertical.  Terry kicked him in the back of the head and planted the boot on the back of his neck, pushing him down again.  "I said to stay the fuck down.  Fuckin' dumbass."
     There was silence from the crowd.  The shooters gawked at their defeated comrade in mute shock.  It didn't take a lot of observation to see that the muscle man was easily the most in-shape of the group, not a small man in any way.  And this standard-sized woman had did what she said she would, drop him to the ground.  Not wanting another boot to the head, he stayed down.  The gawking shifted to Terry, who remained next to the muscle man.  She didn't say anything, just aimed her smile at the group of shooters.
     Drummer's voice croaked out, "Damn and shit, missy, you don't play spillikins, do ya?"
     Bekka addressed the group, saying, "Now you see why Terry is my bodyguard.  I'm very confident in her abilities to protect me from an assault by anything human, and most other life forms.  I will assume you are men of honor, and will stick with our agreement.  Terry, I'm sure that gentleman is tired of rubbing his nose in the asphalt, let him up, if you feel that's all right."
     Terry nudged the muscle man with a toe and said, "Hey man, get up."  When he was erect, he stared at Terry in near stupefaction.  She stared back with a vaguely curious look, then said, "Hey dude, if you wanna to to fuckin' Ventura, go ahead, I ain't gonna sweat it.  But you better stay the fuck out of my fact.  We've never met, okay?"
     The muscle man looked at the ground and silently nodded, then turned to his comrades.  Someone announced the need to retrieve gun cases, this sounded like a brilliant idea to everyone else.  They began migrating back towards the door to the range.  Our little group followed at a distance, Terry taking back her trophy and gun cases from Jane.  "Fuckin' A, dude," she commented.  "See, at this point I'm gonna be more fuckin' leery of some nervous little dork, a fuckin' pencil-neck who's running on nerves, not guts.  These big motherfuckers keep going down pretty easy."
     "Okay, I've seen you do that shit twice in two weeks now, Terror," said Soda Pop.  "Are you scared of anything at all?"
     Terry puzzled over this question and replied, "Uh....  Actually, no.  Or if I am, I ain't scared enough of it to let it bug me.  I've been in too much fuckin' shit at this point.  I've taken too many fuckin' fists and boots, I been knocked around too much, to give a fuck about whether it'll hurt if someone connects with me.  I ain't stupid, I still have fuckin' caution, some wariness, but....  Fuck it, I only worry about some motherfucker with a gun being faster on the draw than me.  Lenny, how many times you been shot now?"
    "Three," I answered.  "Angel says I've taken enough lead I'm now immune to ammo, but I don't want to test that idea."
     "The first time he was armed with a baseball bat and duct tape," said Bekka.  "The second time, he was shot by a man he considered a friend.  And the third time was when the zealot showed up at the studio, he had Gina as a hostage, so he had the drop on Lenny.  Bastard was also wearing Kevlar, Lenny kept shooting him, and it didn't do any good.  I only dropped him because I shot him in the chest at about a distance of five inches."
     "Damn," observed Soda Pop.  "You been through the wringer, huh?  Shot three different times, Jesus."
     "And shot at plenty of other times.  People were throwing lead at me almost constantly for a while," I told Soda Pop.
     "What the fuck were you up to?"
     "Well, the first time I was shot, I was fighting off a rapist who was attacking a friend of ours.  Um....  All the other times people have shot at me were business related.  And I'm not telling you any of those stories, it's none of your business, you'll be safer living in ignorance.  Okay?"
     Soda Pop nodded silently.  Being in H.A., whose members often have extralegal means of making money, he knew about keeping one's mouth shut.  We all wandered back into the range facility.  The shooters were scattered all over, talking with people.  I saw a few sign autographs, apparently they had some cachet at this level of target competition.
      Gerald sidled up next to me.  "Shooting, and firearms in general, are almost totally male- dominated pursuits," he said.  "It doesn't surprise me these events are almost completely free of women, and that the competitors have built a closed society for themselves.  Competing here, Terry would have alarmed the regulars just by her gender.  With her sense of style and, uh, methods of communication, I'm sure Terry completely offends them, gun buffs tend to be socially conservative.  If Bekka started entering shoot-outs, she'd be causing some serious concern, no matter now illogical that concern was."
     Terry came up to give Gerald a squeeze.  I commented, "You're basically gonna be a non-person around your fellow shooters from now on.  I'm guessing they're going to give you the silent treatment, act like you don't exist.  Fuck them, don't let them bug you."
     "Oh, I ain't gonna," Terry replied.  "Shit, I'm gonna be at these regional shoot-outs to compete, not get to be fuckin' buddies with people.  I want to place regularly, and just get some fuckin' mileage against shooters who take their shit real seriously.  And after that....  I dunno.  Dude, I gotta fuckin' take care of Bekka, you know?  She needs a fuckin' guard, and she's my friend, I ain't letting shit happen to her.  So I'm not gonna cut out to try and turn into a fuckin' pro shooter in a few years. Keeping the motherfuckers off Bekka is my fuckin' responsibility.  I got some purpose taking care of her, you know?  A lot more purpose than just throwing lead at the center of a fuckin' target."
     The muscle man reappeared.  His face was now clean, and he had a jacket on, zipped all the way up to cover his bloodied shirt.  I had a hunch the shooters had probably agreed to not discuss what was happening, it would have been too hard on their egos.  I kept half an eye on him for a while, then stopped bothering.  He was acting too far subdued  and quiet, the wound to his ego was a very deep cut.  He ignored us completely.  People kept approaching Terry to congratulate her on second place --- you're still a novice shooter? --- and I noticed Terry was speaking a little slowly.  It took me a second to figure out why: she was monitoring what she said, editing out all her usual profanity.  It seemed to be helping, folks would talk with her longer and be warmer with her.
     After a while, we all cut out.   Jane switched cars with Drummer, who wanted to ride in the Falcon, the same way a little kid would want to ride in it.  Soda Pop was following us, he would be spending the next two nights at our house, probably spending as much time as possible with his penis inside of Jane.  The vibe I was getting from them was an acceptance that a genuine relationship would not work ---- they just lived too far away from each other --- but would probably be lovers until they were old and gray.  They'd have relationships, probably marry, but still get together a couple times a year on the low-down.  They'd be each others dirty little secret, and love it.
     We went to Carlos Murphy's at the UTC mall for dinner, an incredibly mismatched group of friends at first glance.  When we were seated and ordered drinks, Drummer asked for a Coke with five jalapenos in it.  Nobody asked about this request, he had his reasons.  I noticed Drummer was more reserved now, but didn't seem to be suffering from the social awkwardness a lot of recovering alcoholics do.  They don't know how to communicate in social situations without a buzz.  Drummer wasn't as loud, and didn't ramble like he had, but still laughed and cracked jokes and took part in conversation.  The day before, Terry had told me he was still adjusting to normal living, in many ways.  She'd had to teach him how to operate the TV remote, the VCR, the microwave, and the answering machine.  The cell phone in the Falcon was amazing to him, it was a science fiction device come to life.

    Terry had been able to stop Drummer from feeling like a leech, because Terry was supporting him.  She told him that he was of retirement age anyway, so he could assume he was retired, and didn't have to worry about bills anymore.  She'd taken him shopping at the Point Loma Safeway, telling him to grab food he wanted, and to not look at the fuckin' price.  He had chosen microwave egg rolls and fixings for making deli sandwiches.  And milk, lots of milk.  Being able to buy a container of milk and not have to consume the entire thing felt like a luxury.  Everybody takes the fridge for granted.  To Drummer, it was something only the well-to-do had.  Terry's suspicion was that even when Drummer had a roof over his head in the past, it was probably a dump, a tenement apartment with no fridge, no water heater, broken stove, holes in the floor....  It was better than sleeping outside, and that was it.
     "I told Drummer that when he hits the fuckin' three month mark for sobriety, I'm gonna start flowing him some money to walk around with," Terry told me.  "That should be long enough he'll be able to fight the urge to spend any dough he has on booze.  But he should be able to grab some lunch or go to a fuckin' movie, you know?  He's still walking all over the fuckin' neighborhood every day.  Haw, he's clean, he's got decent clothes, his hair is cut and combed....  Fuckin' people don't recognize him now!  He ain't that local fuckin' smelly-ass drunk no more, he's just some old dude walking around.  He's had people he's seen for years ask if he's just moved into the neighborhood.
     "Really, I think he's having to adjust to normal fuckin' living.  Having someplace to go, and when you get there, you got fuckin' food in the fridge and cupboards.  The fuckin' lights work.  He can sit and watch TV and just fuckin' chill, you know?  He don't have to be worried about the fuckin' cops rousting him, nobody's telling him to move along, he's been sitting there too long.  He'll hit AA meetings about four times a week.  And every night when we're gonna crash, he says the same thing: 'Good night and God bless.  And I thank you again, missy.'"  Terry gave me a wet-eyed smile.  "And he really means it, too."
     "I think what you've done is wonderful," I told Terry.  "You've given him some peace, and comfort, and he should have those at his age.  Drummer is a genuinely good person, You've mentioned he's going to AA several times a week, does he talk about drinking much?"
     Terry smiled and said, "Oh, fuck yeah.  A few times we'd be sitting there watching TV, and out of the fuckin' blue he'd say, 'If I try to leave the apartment tonight, stop me,  Beat me up if you gotta.  If I leave, I'm gonna go panhandle up enough for a bottle, and I'll drink the damn thing.'  I told him hey, no problem, if he heads for the door I'll give him one motherfucker of a beating.  A lot of times he'll tell me over coffee in the morning that he'd woke up and felt around for his stash bottle, the amount of vodka he'd always save from the night before so he'd have something to start the day with.  Then he realizes he's in a real fuckin' bed, not on a sheet of fuckin cardboard, and decides he doesn't need a drink.  He's not cold, his back don't hurt from sleeping on concrete, he's not hung over, all is good, so fuck needing a drink."
     I stared at my Wendy O. Williams poster in silence, motionless.  Terry knew me well enough to know not bothering to speak, just wait until my thoughts landed and sorted themselves out.  I said to Terry, "Has he ever mentioned any kind of career in his past?  It's obvious he's got some brains, I doubt he just spent his life hopping from one menial job to the next."
     "Actually....  He's mentioned being in Hollywood in the Fifties.  Some fuckin' job at a movie studio, upper management type gig.  I asked him what he, you know, actually fuckin' did, and he just laughed and said he didn't have a clue either.  He says he got paid to wear a fuckin' suit, inhabit an office with a wet bar, and randomly wander around the lot, sticking his nose in wherever the fuck he felt like, then inserting his opinions on whatever he was looking at, no matter how idiotic or clueless.  He says the job is what turned him alky, pounding down liquor kept him from just fuckin' snapping.  Drummer says he had no job, they just paid him to be there.  Nobody ever gave him a fuckin' clue what they expected of him.  He'd started at the studio as a background painter, then claims some queer among the big-wigs decided he was cute, and gave him the promotion so Drummer would be in the executive offices.  Haw, Drummer was fuckin' eye candy for some Hollywood swish.  The queer left the next week, in a big way: he got caught sucking the dick of a thirteen year old black kid in his car.
     "Okay, you and me would find the position Drummer was in funny as fuck.  We're raking in ducats, we got our own office, and apparently we don't have a fuckin' soul to answer to.  We'd just fuck off and see how much shit we can pull for fun, keep track of how long it takes for some fuckin' dick-head to realize we're totally useless, but get paid major fuckin' green anyway.  Drummer's personal pride wouldn't let him feel that way.  He hated being useless, having no apparent fuckin' duties, and getting paid so much.  Really?  The way he talked about it, he started boozing it up to dull the fuckin' guilt he felt.  He saw himself as no better than some motherfucker who steals payroll money, he was taking money that could be used somewhere else.
     "Drummer told me one day he just didn't bother to go to the studio.  Why the fuck should he, he ain't doing anything.  And he never went back.  He was living in a tiny house in Baldwin Hills, the same place he lived in when he was just a fuckin' grunt at the studio.  After three weeks, his paychecks stopped showing up in the mail.   In a while, he ran out of savings and couldn't afford fuckin' rent, so he just walked the fuck away from his house, and took the train to San Diego, where he's been ever since.  He was already knocking back the booze when he was showing up to his job, and when he decided to stay home, he drank pretty much constantly.  He stayed plastered, so everything he was doing was just a blur.  In San Diego he took total suck-ass jobs, washing dishes or sweeping floors, and would get fuckin' fired 'cos he was drunk.  So, he gave up on even trying to pay for a fuckin' cheap hotel room downtown, headed for OB, started panhandling and sleeping in doorways, and the rest is fuckin' history."
     "So what's his real name?" I asked.
     Terry started laughing.  "Aw, shit!  No fuckin' clue.  Shit, he's just Drummer, you know?  Everybody knows who the fuck Drummer is, you don't need to peg him with a last name."
     "Hm," I frowned.  "I'd like to know his real name, and find out his history in Hollywood....."  I did more poster-staring.  "Terry.  If you can, get Drummer to come hang around the studio a couple days a week."
     Terry was eyeing me with one eyebrow way up and chewing her bottom lip.  She finally asked, "Dude, what the fuck do you have in mind?  You want a fuckin' career alcoholic's opinions on how fuckin' porn is made?"
     "From what you said, Drummer knows how to run things wrong at a studio.  I'll bet he formed a lot of opinions about how to run things right while he had his non-job.  You know shit works around here, everybody has a basic grasp of how everybody else's job is done.  I know you could operate a camera at this point, or work as a gaffer, or even perform.  All the performers could passably work as crew, if need be.  Drummer certainly picked up knowledge about all different sorts of aspects in producing a film.  So long as vodka hasn't blurred his memory too much, he'd observe us working on a sound stage and compare it to what he picked up at his studio.  Which studio is it?"
     "It was called Bellamy Pictures.  They're history now, but they had  major pull from, like, the fuckin' Twenties until the early Sixties.  A shitload of fuckin' major stars contracted with them at some point, they were big, totally legit back then."
     I sat in poster-gazing silence again, then said, "Terry sweetheart, I'm gonna chuck you out of the office, I'm taking off.  I'm going to the UCSD library, I wanna look some shit up.  Tell Bekka I'll be home around six."
     Terry gave me a kiss goodbye, and said, "Dude, I can totally hear the fuckin' gears in your skull cranking away at high speed.  I'd ask you what the fuck is up, but I've known you long enough to know you may not have any fuckin' idea either.  See you later, stud."
     I locked the office and headed for the car.

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