Monday, February 13, 2017

Preacher (Part 15)

     On Sunday, Bobby rode with me to the studio.  I introduced him to the cast and crew as simply "my friend Bobby," a man who understood film-making and was curious about the aspects of producing hardcore.  Everyone recognized him, of course.  He was being addressed as "Mr. DeNiro" and gave up after a while on saying, "Please, call me Bobby."  Our performers in the morning --- Trish, Sue, Jolene, Tex, and Stallion --- were fairly cowed.  Stallion especially, as he didn't hide his Hollywood aspirations.  The (kaff, kaff) plot of the morning loop was two couples, neighbors, (Sue and Tex, Jolene and Stallion) were in need of a house-sitter while they traveled, and were interviewing Trish for the job.  Through some unlikely revelations about each couple's romantic habits, the sex kicked in, Trish being passed around like a joint at a Cypress Hill concert.  I'd already told Bobby the "plots" in our loops were contrived bullshit, but the fact that we bothered at all put us ahead in the market.

     Bobby stayed on set for the morning loop, and watched the first half of the afternoon's work, cutting out during the smoke break.  The afternoon loop was a one-on-one, a woman (Gayla) seducing a Watchtower-hawking Jehovah's Witness who shows up at her door (Andy).  If the JWs turn out to be right, we were all bound for hell after that one.  At the end of the loop, Andy had the closing line of, "That's it!  I'm gonna join the Unitarians!"
    When he came down in the afternoon, Bobby said, "Okay, I sorta knew there was a more technical aspect to filming hardcore than people might think, but Jesus!  Your director kept calling for cuts, and at first I was thinking, 'Well, shit, they need a third camera.'  Then I realized, with all the different angles, you'd need, like, six cameras to shoot without interruptions.  And the actors and actresses, they really are acting.  They'd look like they were having the lay of a lifetime while the cameras were running, but as soon as they stopped, you'd think they were all in line at the DMV, that's how interested they looked during cuts.  And when 'action' was yelled again, they'd jump right back into it.
     "What amazes me is the guys.  To hell with the size of their dicks, how do they keep going for that long?  Keeping a hard-on for ninety minutes, and having it, uh, manipulated most of that time?  Then they all go out for a smoke, that tiny girl Dawn gets 'em up again, and they're off and running again.  And then!  The director calls cut and says, 'Time for the money shot, so-and-so, you first, you're getting a thirty count.'  And the guy comes on cue!  I can't even imagine having that sort of control over my dick, to just time my orgasm like that.
     "Although one thing I was kinda expecting, but didn't notice.  Um, it wasn't, uh, funky in there.  I figured with five people having sex for that long, it would, you know, sorta get a little whiffy in that sound stage.  Nope."
     I chuckled and said, "If you're right on top of the action, you'll notice the usual smells associated with sex.  But hygiene is job one for performers.  They don't want to be funky, and the people they're working with really, really don't want them to be funky.  Performers, especially in the afternoons, will show up early just to take another shower.  Sure, they took one that morning.  Fine, they're gonna be squeaky clean when the cameras roll.  Nobody wants to smell you, or taste you, okay?"
     Rather than drive back Sunday night, Bobby stayed one more night.  I had the feeling he was enjoying the eclectic selection of people he was spending time around.  While some were a bit awed by his presence, nobody was kissing his ass, which was probably a change from his day-to-day routine in Hollywood.  He was around people who would blend in with Hollywood locals as well as Black Muslims as a Billy Joel concert.
     Drummer intrigued him.  He'd asked Drummer if he'd ever had a career.  Drummer answered, "Sorta.  Worked for an outfit called Bellamy Pictures fer a while, way back when.  Started as a scenery painter, then some pansy took a liking to me and moved me into the board room, with no reason or rhyme.  The pansy left a week later, got caught foolin' around with a colored kid, underage, in his car.  Damn and shit, if I had a job title, nobody tole me what it was.  If I had something I was supposed to be getting done, I never knew it.  Every morning, I put on a suit, drove to the studios, went to my office, an' poured a drink or three.  Then I'd just....  Wander around, stickin' my nose in where it didn't belong.  Only thing is, I was one of the muckety-mucks, so nobody would tell me to get lost and let 'em work.  Shit, I"d throw my two cents in on any damn subject, they'd act like it was the word of God.  I started sayin' idiot things on purpose, and nobody would call me out on 'em.  Drove me crazy.  I got damn good pay fer doing nothing.  Hated it.  I was useless.  Damn and shit, that job was a test run fer me being a bum.  Least as a bum, I didn't look like I knew something."
     "You were in the offices as Bellamy Pictures?" exclaimed Bobby.  "What's your name?"
     "Drummer is good enough," was the answer, Drummer turning his head to close the subject.

     On Monday morning me, Bekka, Bobby, Terry, and Drummer piled into the Fleetwood and headed for the mansion.  Bobby got his BMW out of the garage, gave out handshakes and hugs, and took off.  Bekka was working a morning loop.  Terry was still at her side, Dawn now fluffing six days a week until things calmed down.  Drummer sat on the sofa in my office with another paperback, so quiet I'd forget he was there.  People would come in to say hi or talk about things, and not really notice his presence.  This rattled one of them.  Gayla showed up to vent and seek advice about her marriage.  She'd let Mark, her husband, know about her affair with Rio.
     She said, "I was sick of keeping it a secret.  Her and I weren't interfering with Mark's and mine love life, but I'm sick of the deception.  Mark's first reaction was woo hoo, three-way sex!  I told him I doubted Rio would go for that, and I didn't feel like re-enacting my work days at home for run.  I told him I still loved him and wanted to be his wife, but....  I needed this.  Being with Rio is different than anything I've ever had before.  So, he asked if I'd share Rio with him, one on one.  Jesus.
     "I said that was also highly unlikely.  He got all pouty and asked what I'd do if he started having an affair with someone from his job.  I told him, 'If you're honest with me about it, and the other woman doesn't try to take you away from me, I'll be okay.  Hopefully I'll get to meet her, like I want you to meet Rio.'  Then he gets snotty and says he'l just keep something like that to himself, it won't be any of my concern.  I told him that would be unfair, I was being honest with him, he should be honest with me.  He started going on about how my career was warping me, that now I'm into other women, so what would be next?  Would we be tying each other up and whipping each other and wearing leather masks when we had sex?  I told him that was bullshit, how would I get into that at all?  Not from working at Inana.
     "He tried to issue an ultimatum, that either Rio becomes part of our sex life --- together or separately --- or I had to break it off with her.  Otherwise, he'd move into the spare room, and we'd live like roommates.  And he'd start screwing his way through the staff of every Jack In The Box in Southern California.  You've seen Mark, he's a chubby guy with male pattern baldness, he's not about to start swinging.  But....  I don't know, maybe I should break things off with Rio.  But the longer we're together, the more I love her.  And it's not just the sex, either.  I don't know what to do."
     "You always fancied other wimmin?" came a screechy voice from the sofa.  Gayla jumped in surprise, she had no idea Drummer was back there.
     "Uh....  No.  It wasn't until I started working here that I realized I found women attractive."
     "You hadda," said Drummer.  "You just hid it from yourself, like a lotta people do.  The only real shame in that is people think they got to hide it at all.  Damn and shit, ain't ought to matter who you fancy, men or wimmin, so long as you ain't hurting anyone.  But you probably have fancied wimmen, and just kept it buried for whatever reason."
     "Who are you?" Gayla angrily asked.
     "I'm Drummer.  I'm a bum."
     Gayla gave me an annoyed and questioning look.  I told her, "He just summed it up.  He lives with Terry.  She's been staying at our place for several nights now, and Drummer didn't want to be alone in the apartment, so he's also staying at our place.
     "Gayla, I"m sorry, but I don't know what to tell you.  My first suggestion is to get thee and thine to a marriage counselor, one that considers polyamory a valid concept.  But you may have to choose between Mark and Rio.  Do you love Rio?  I mean, really love her?"
     She stared at my desk and said, "Fuck.  Fuck, fuck, fuck.  I don't know.  Dammit, I feel so hung up on her, but.....  Shit, is it just lust?  I like her, I care about her, but I don't know if I have a genuinely romantic passion for her."  She chuckled bitterly and shook her head.  "God dammit, Lenny, you're gonna make me really think this through, aren't you?"
     "I'm afraid I am.  Personally, either Mark or Rio is going to end up getting hurt.  If you don't think this through, really work out your feelings for both of them, you'll be hurt too, because you'll have made a decision you regret.  Oh, and personal advice?  Don't consult with a bottle of whiskey for advice.  You're only delaying the inevitability of having to think."
     Gayla stood up and said, "Okay.  I'm gonna consult with Ben & Jerry's instead.  See you tomorrow."
     After she left, I told Drummer, "Don't say a word about that."
     "A word about what?" asked Drummer with a crafty grin.
     Bekka and Terry came down for lunch.  We had the time, so we got in the Fleetwood with Triplet's on our mind.  Home to the best Ruben sandwiches in California.
     I'd made the U-turn at La Costa Ave. and was headed south.  Presently, Drummer stated.  "You got some bastard following you."
     He was in the shotgun seat.  I asked him how he'd come to this conclusion.  He jerked his thumb behind us and said, "There's a brown Monte Carlo back about two cars.  He was on the street, parked on our side, about a half block up when we left.  See him?"
     I checked my mirror, and sure enough, there was a brown Monte Carlo back there, keeping pace behind two other vehicles.  "Huh," I commented.  "Well, let's check this out."
     Passing the turn to get to Triplet's, I continued on to Leucadia Blvd. and turned right.  The Monte Carlo followed, still keeping his distance.  I made another right on Quail Gardens Dr., pointing north again.  About a quarter mile before Saxony Rd. is a residential street called Ravean Ct., a dead end street with a single cul-de-sac cutting into it.  I turned in.
     "This is a dead end," Bekka said with alarm.
     "Yes, I know," I replied.  I laid into the gas and shot up the street, then turned into the cul-de-sac, spinning it around and pointing back out.  I pulled to the curb, then sat and waited.  Sure enough, the Monte Carlo rolled up Ravean, passing the cul-de-sac without a glance.  They didn't know the area.  Less than a minute later, the Monte Carlo trundled back down the street, flummoxed by the dead end.  When they went past, I got in behind them.
    The Monte Carlo turned back out onto Quail Gardens and headed for Saxony Rd.  Once we were headed north on Saxony, the driver realized what was going on.  He laid into the gas, to my amusement: this was a standard 1970s dog.  Saxony Rd. has no cross-streets or driveways, it's just two-lane asphalt running along the side of the hill all the way back to La Costa Ave.  It's also not well-traveled, so I got into the oncoming lane and used my right front fender to bump the left rear of the Monte Carlo.  He swerved, but didn't spin.  I gave another tap, then dropped behind and bounced into his rear bumper.  The sound of his engine revving was evident, as the driver punched desperately on the gas, kicking it into passing gear.
     At La Costa Ave., the driver threw it into a right turn, nearly rolling, and bouncing into a car already occupying that space.  The Fleetwood, with its stiffer suspension, took the maneuver more gracefully, and I didn't tangle with any other cars.  La Costa Ave. is four lanes, but is also more heavily trafficked.  The Monte Carlo weaved through other cars, me staying with him.  After a few seconds, a figure appeared to be climbing out of the passenger side window.  The shotgun rider was living up to his name.  He was sitting on the window frame of the door and trying to get a bead on us with a shotgun.  I wasn't concerned: the bulletproof glass GM installs at the factory was capable of taking a 9mm round at ten feet.  I had new glass, and a shotgun blast from fifty feet would skip off the glass like rain water.
     The driver unloaded twice.  Instinctively, Drummer slid down in his seat, commenting, "The bastard's gonna blow out the windshield."
     "No he isn't," I assured him.  "I got bank glass all the way around."
     "Damn and shit."
     Behind me, Terry had rolled her window down, and was assuming the same position as the shotgun rider in the Monte Carlo.  Once up, she let off three shots.  One of them took out the back glass of the Chevy ghetto-roller, causing it to swerve wildly.  She put two more shots into the fleeing car, with no more effect.  We were approaching El Camino Real at a high rate, and with the lights against us.  The fleeing driver put the Monte Carlo onto the sidewalk to circumvent the stopped cars, turning south on El Camino.  I followed.  The shotgun rider disappeared back into the brown car.  Terry let loose with the last three shots in her clip, then slid down into the Fleetwood again.
     Demonstrating his lack of knowledge of the area, the Monte Carlo turned right on Levante St.  This led into a condo complex called La Costa Glen, and had no outlet, just a series of driveways.  We both blew past the unmanned security shack and towards the end of the T-bone intersection.  The Monte Carlo turned right and hit the gas.
     I'm not sure what the driver thought he was doing.  After another 120 feet the driveway tees off again.  On either side of the tee are parking shelters, and directly in front is a small micro-park, for people who get winded from having to walk the three hundred feet from their cars to their building.  The Monte Carlo barreled through this, and plunged down the side of the canyon, bouncing on the jogging trail, and becoming mired in the scrub after another fifty feet.
    I screeched to a halt at the micro-park.  Terry and I jumped out and began running for the edge of the canyon.  I already had my Beretta in my hand.  Looking down, we could see the Monte Carlo sitting in the brush.  Both of us began approaching, watching for any movement, dirt-surfing on our heels with our guns in front of us, ready to shoot.  We got twenty feet away and stopped.  I yelled, "You're covered!  Get the fuck out of the car, hands up and empty!"
     "I said to get out and get moving, now!" I continued.
     Five more seconds of silence, the a single shot.  Terry and I both threw ourselves onto our bellies.  Another several seconds, and another single shot.  Then, nothing.
     Terry and I looked at each other.  We began crawling towards the Monte Carlo, keeping our guns leveled and our profiles low.  I took the driver's side, Terry took the passenger side.  Both of us got up on our knees, pointing our guns into the passenger compartment.
     There were two men inside.  Both of them were missing the backs of their heads, grey matter splattered on the seats and roof.  The passenger was still holding a revolver in his hand, resting in his crotch.  Apparently the driver ate the gun, then the passenger took the gun and ate it too. Both men were white, in their fifties, dressed in Action Slacks and plain white dress shirts, no ties.  Both needed a shave. "What the fuckin' fuck," observed Terry.
     "Got me," I responded.  "Let's get back up this hill, we need a phone."

     Forty-five minutes later, the only one of us who wasn't bored and annoyed was Drummer.  He had his paperback with him, and was sitting in the passenger seat reading.  Bekka was sitting behind him, legs sticking out the door.  Terry and I leaned against the trunk of the Cadillac, watching the deputies hump up and down the side of the canyon, mill around in the micro-park, and generally give the impression they were actually doing something constructive.  All our pistols had been taken, in possession of a sergeant who was confirming out registrations and carry permits.  We'd been told to wait there by Detective Donner, my old friend.
     Finally he approached, in the company of another plainclothesman, who was introduced as Lieutenant Bernard Miller.  I stifled a laugh.  Barney Miller.  He even had the mustache.  Donner pointed to us, one at a time.  "This one is Leonard Schneider.  This one is Terry Patton.  Schneider's wife, Bekka, is sitting in the rear seat of the car.  There's a fourth party, who refuses to give his name."
     Terry smirked and said, "No he didn't.  You asked his name, he told you Drummer.  That's all he goes by."
     "We're really not in the mood for jokes," said Miller.
     "And he's not kidding.  He's Drummer.  It's the only name I've ever heard him use."
     "So let's go over this from the beginning again, Lenny," said Donner.  "We are highly curious how two men came to die sitting in their car in a canyon."
     "Beats hell out of me too," I answered.  "I've already covered how they were following us, then we followed them, then they shot at us, and Terry shot back.  Then they turned into the complex and ran down the canyon.  They waited a few minutes, and decided to kill themselves.  How they reached that decision is a mystery."
     "I like it better that they went into the canyon, got knocked unconscious, and you two went down and killed them, made it look like suicide.  So why did you kill them, Lenny?"
     I rolled my eyes  "Are we going to play this game yet again, Donner?  We do this every time we meet, almost.  I someone is dead in North County, Lenny Schneider killed them.  And I keep proving you wrong."  I gestured in the direction of the canyon.  "Terry and I are both carrying pistols with high velocity, firing hollow-point nine millimeter rounds.  If we'd done it, half their heads would be missing.  Try again."
     "I'm sure you used the revolver found in the passenger's hand," responded Donner.  "It came up stolen."
     "Where from?"
     "Taft, California."
     "Never been to Taft in my life," I said.  "I know where it is, but since I'm not an oil field worker, I've never cared to visit.  Try again."
     "So why were these men following you?" asked Miller.
     Terry answered for me.  "Because Becky fuckin' Page was in the car.  I know you know the troubles we've been having lately with this band of Bible-thumping psychos.  There are some people in the Southwest who have taken it into their minds to kill Becky Page, 'cos she's the fuckin' devil or something.  Do we need to cover that story, too?"
     "We're fully aware of the threats made against Bekka Schneider," grumbled Miller.  "Why a porn studio decided to set up shop around here, instead of LA like all the others, is a mystery to me."
     "Because it's a safe area," I answered.  "Hardly any crime at all."
     "I've had enough of this," said Miller.  "I'm gonna go talk to this old man again."
     "You can't stonewall us on this," Donner told me.  "You always try, and you have been lucky you've never been dragged in front of a judge and told to spill.  Give me answers."
     With an edge in my voice, I said, "Donner, I have. You know the same things I know.  Keep in mind that my wife's life is being threatened by religious extremists.  You think I like that, you think I've got something to gain by having her hurt?"
     "Depends," sneered Donner.  "How much life insurance do you have on her?"
     I gave a warm and insincere smile and said, "Gosh, Donner, it's been a long time since I've had to use this phrase, but I guess I'm overdue.  Fuck you, officer.  Get to work and figure out who those men are, who they're associated with, and what their plans were.  You're spinning your wheels talking to me.  Just because you don't like what I have to say doesn't mean I'm lying or holding anything back."
     A deputy came puffing up, covered in dust.  "Excuse me, detective, we got the trunk of the Chevrolet open.  Gold mine."
     Donner raised his eyebrows.  "Oh?"
     "Yes sir.  Six shotguns,four 30.06 hunting rifles, det cord, fuse, and what appears to be a brick of plastique.  Boxes of ammunition.  Oh, and the forensics guy says the exit wounds on the deceased are apropos for a .32 caliber round, like what was in the revolver found in the car."
     After a long pause, Donner said, "You've ID'ed the deceased?"
     "They both were in possession of California driver's licenses.  One is August Hench, of Twenty-Nine Palms.  The other is Oscar Maynard, of Landers.  We're running the names right now."
     "Tap the FBI for any info too," I suggested.  "All those guns?  They may be on a watch list."
     The deputy, who looked about my age, smiled and said, "Hey, good idea.  Thank you, sir."
     "Go get an ETA on the tow truck," Donner growled at the deputy.  The deputy hurried off.  Donner turned his attention to me.  "So.  You slithered out from under the hammer again, Lenny.  Do me a favor, and stay the hell inside Encinitas city limits.  The local law can deal with your bullshit."  He started to walk away.
     "Please tell the sergeant to finish with our sidearms," I said.  "We'd like to get going.  We haven't had lunch yet."
    Donner ignored me.  No big deal, I'd seen which car the sergeant was in.
     All of a sudden I heard Bekka exclaim, "You've gotta be kidding me!"
     Terry and I went around the side of the Cadillac.  Bekka was standing there.  So was Drummer.  So was Miller, who was putting cuffs on Drummer, who looked annoyed, but not upset.
     "What the fuck is this shit?" asked Terry.
     Miller said, "I've had it with this old nut.  He's coming back to the station, where we'll be fingerprinting him, then scouring the records for the prints.  The geezer won't tell me his name, I"m tired of this comedy routine, so he can sit on ice until he learns some manners."
     "Uh huh," I replied.  "You are aware that unless he is under arrest, he is under no obligation to provide you with any information at all, right?  Not having ID is not illegal.  Neither is using an alias."
     "Feel free to book him on any charge you want," said Bekka.  "We'll have a lawyer posting his bail before he's even in the holding cells downtown."
     With a malicious grin, Miller said, "No, he's not being charged with a crime.  He's being held by County Mental Health on a 5150.  Three day hold.  No lawyers, no judge, just the word from law enforcement that he seems to be unstable, and is possibly a risk to himself or others."
     I stared at Miller with my mouth ajar briefly, then said, "Detective Miller, you are digging yourself a hole you won't be able to get out of.  Take the cuffs off Drummer, and allow him to sit back down in the car."
     Drummer said, "Damn and shit, Lenny, don't worry about me.  They ain't had no luck shrinkin' my head yet."
     "You've been in the bin before?" asked Terry.
     "Couple times.  DTs.  Seein' shit.  Don't worry, anything over seventy-two hours they gotta give you a social worker, and you got the right to petition a judge to get out.  Let Matt Dillon here have his fun, I ain't worried.  Damn and shit, I kinda like the company in there.  You kin talk to one guy three different times during the day, and meet someone new each time."
     I smiled and calmly said, "Please, detective, provide great detail when you fill out your report.  I'll need the information."
     "What for?" Miller asked.
     "For when I sue the San Diego Sheriff's Department, and also Detective Bernard Miller, for abuse of power.  Using the mental health system in a punitive manner is definitely abuse.  So if you can tell me, how is Drummer a danger to himself and other?"
     "He is nonsensical when speaking.  He seems to be suffering amnesia.  He is unsteady on his feet, and is uncooperative when questioned by authorities."
     "Aw, Jesus fuckin' Christ," said Terry.  "That's a drunk tank bust, not a mental health hold."
     "Except he doesn't smell of alcohol and shows no signs of drug use," sneered Miller.  "He also seems confused about his own identity.  Maybe we can help him with that one, once we have him printed."
     "All right," said Bekka.  "How long before he's at CMH?"
     "Hard to say.  We need to print him, we need to process him, arrange transportation...."
     "Feed him," Terry enjoined.
     ".... and frisk him.  Probably around four to six hours.  Why?"
     "So we can keep him company.  If you hideous walking abuses of power delay things past visiting hours, we can still put money on his books and drop off some stuff, like cigarettes and something to read and clean clothes.  If Drummer is going to be illegally incarcerated by the County of San Diego, he will at least be comfortable."
     "Suit yourself.  Who is this man to you, anyway?"
     "The smartest man in Ocean Beach," Bekka replied.
     After another twenty minutes, Terry, Bekka, and I got our iron back.  Drummer had been whisked away, presumably to the sheriff's substation in Vista.  Triplet's didn't have any more appeal, so we just hit the drive-thru at Carl's Jr.
     Around six we went to the puzzle factory located in the Birdland neighborhood, near the probation department.  No one named "Drummer" had been admitted yet, so we couldn't put money on his books or drop anything off....  And we'd need to provide more than an alias.  We tried to patiently explain the individual in question would not provide any other name, which is why he'd been shanghai'ed by the Sheriff's Department.  Try in the morning, we were told.
     Running to the substation in Vista, we found Drummer parked in the front lobby.  We asked what was going on.
     "I dunno.  They tole me to wait, so I am.  Gotta piss, though."
     He wasn't cuffed to anything, so I told him to follow me.  We went through the swinging half-door, towards where the bathrooms were.  A deputy stopped us and asked where the hell we thought we were going.
     "The biffy," I replied.  "We both gotta go."
     He gave us a contemptuous wave, and we took care of business.  As we were walking out, Drummer started laughing.  "These boys are in for a bit of a surprise.  They picked up some hooker working Oceanside, trolling for jarheads."
     "What's the problem with her?" I asked.
     "It ain't a her.  That hooker's got an Adam's apple and hands bigger than mine.  Surprised me a bit, the man ain't a half-bad lookin' lady, but it's still a man.  Damn and shit, they might get him to the holding cells for the women's jail before they notice."
     We were just returning to where Drummer had been sitting when Detective Miller approached.  He looked highly un-amused.  "Where did you two go?" he asked.
     "We had to hit the head," said Drummer.  "Why, what did we miss?"
     "Your transportation is ready.  Maybe three days around the fruits and nuts will jar your memory loose, and you'll give us a real name."
     "What the hell is wrong with the name I have?"
     Miller ignored him and turned to me.  "Mr. Schneider, you will be interested to know the men in the Monte Carlo have interesting histories.  Both have ties to the apocalyptic Christian movement, the 'Praise the Lord and stockpile the ammunition' folks.  Both have records.  Oscar Maynard was picked up in 1980 for possession of stolen firearms, he had twelve government-property M-16s in the back seat of his car.  Nobody would have known about it if he'd fixed his headlight.  Five years in Club Fed.  August Hench was selling chunks of Montana land that he didn't own.  He claimed 'right of first possession' or some shit on a bunch of federal land, saying if the Feds didn't want it, it was his, because he said so.  Another Club Fed visitor, from '82 to '86.  Neither of them have their own Watch List file with the FBI, but they pop up as associates with a lot of people who are.  The tenor of the newsletter you shut down is about perfect for them.... Okay, was.  Both bodies had traces of powder on their hands, showing they were the ones who fired that gun into their own heads.  Now it begs the question of why the hell they were so scared they felt suicide was the only way out."
     "They weren't scared, they were zealots," I replied.  "They had the same mentality as a suicide bomber.  Their death would help forward a greater cause.  My guess is they had some secrets they worried about spilling if questioned by the police."
     Miller looked doubtful.  "A little far-fetched...."
     "Really?  Islam doesn't have the corner on religious wingnuts.  What about Jim Jones and the People's Temple?  What about Scientology, or the Unification Church?  Religious fervor is very capable of drowning out reason and sense.  The people we're discussing are Christian extremists who have declared a holy war, one with no prisoners.  So, why not eat a gun, to protect the greater good of the cause?  You'll be rewarded in heaven, you're sure of it."
     Rubbing his chin thoughtfully briefly, Miller changed the subject.  "I've noticed Detective Donner doesn't care for you.  Why is that?"
     Showing my teeth, I told him, "Detective Donner is a man who reaches conclusions very quickly and very easily, and holds fast to them.  He formed his opinion of me within fifteen seconds of first meeting me, and hasn't let go.  Donner thinks I'm a criminal, despite all evidence to the contrary.  I've had a lot of wild shit happen in my life, but none of it was of my doing.  The first time we met, my wife had nearly been stabbed to death.  Donner, for whatever reason, reached the conclusion that I was the one who did it, even though I made the 911 call.  He had zero evidence to support this conclusion, so I couldn't be arrested, but he refused to actually engage in a real investigation to find the perp.  I had to do it myself, and I brought the perp to Donner on a silver platter.  You'd think he'd be happy a crime had been solved.  Nope, he was pissed that I was innocent, beyond a doubt.
     "Donner doesn't just hate me.  He also hates my house, my cars, my video studio, my success, my relative fame....  Just everything about how I live.  To him, I'm a goon who should either be pushing a broom in a warehouse or locked up for various petty crimes.  So you'll have to ask him yourself."
     A deputy stepped up to us and gestured at Drummer.  "Hello, uh, Mr. Drummer.  I'm your driver. We're going to take a little ride, okay?  We're going to a place down in San Diego...."
     I cut off the deputy.  "He's being held on a 5150.  He's hypothetically nits, not an imbecile. Drop the patronizing tone."
     The uniform straightened up and tried to give me a withering glare.  "Who are you sir?"
     "I'm Lenny Schneider, a friend of Drummer's.  So what name is be being registered at CMH under, anyway?"
     "He'll be a John Doe.  Why?"
     "Because I'll be down to see him in the morning, and CMH actually wants to know the name of the person you're there to visit.  Drummer will need some money on his books, some clothes, cigarettes, stuff like that.  His seventy-two hours will not be ones of deprivation."
     Drummer and the deputy walked away.  Miller smirked at me and said, "There you go again, getting an attitude with someone in a uniform."
     "No, I got rude with a condescending prick.  The fact that he was wearing a uniform was irrelevant."
     "I'm going to be running across your name a lot, aren't I?"
    "Until my wife is safe, probably so."

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