I took my Valium when we got home. To pass the evening, I pulled two Mel Brooks movies, "Blazing Saddles" and "Young Frankenstein." I burned through three fat bong loads and drank milk straight from the carton, laughing at jokes I'd heard thirty times before. I dozed off near the end of "Young Frankenstein," and was only vaguely aware of being helped up to bed by the girls. I stayed asleep until 9:30 the next morning, when Bekka woke me up with a kiss.
She sat on the side of the bed and said, "You know I'm not really good at being a bossy wife...."
I told her, "You try sometimes, but when you do, you're yelling at me in Italian, so I have no clue what you're trying to be bossy about. I pick up when you're cussing me, and that's it."
"Guess what. I have made some arrangements, juggled a few things, and the next eleven days of your life are planned out.... Sort of. You're taking a bit of time off. While I won't forbid you from thinking about work, I will forbid you from having a worry in your head about me or the studio. For the next eleven days, there is no man named the Reverend Jerry Fallwood. There is no Moral Militia, there is no press, there's just mindless fun for you."
I stared at Bekka and said, "Okay, you've got a cunning stunt planned. You're telling me to not worry about the woman I love, but unless you're going to forcibly dose me with Thorazine, that ain't gonna happen. Unpack it, woman, what arrangements have you made?"
Bekka said, "You won't worry about me or my safety because you won't need to. I will be better protected than Steve Young on a fourth and inches play. First: Angel is coming down. He'll be staying in the penthouse at the studio, and will manage all business-related concerns. Second: in your absence, Terry will be staying here, in a guest room. I will have twenty-four hour protection. She'll be bringing Drummer with her, too. Whenever I am out in public, I will have both Terry and Angel with me, one on each side. Third: you will have company while you travel. Jane is taking next week off of school, she'll be getting her study plans for the week from her teachers today, so she won't miss anything. I have already instructed her that one of her main duties is to make you come --- and well --- a minimum of four times a day. How she does so is left to your discretion.
"And five: I have far more protection at my disposal than one would imagine. President Mutt called this morning. It seems the Dago Hell's Angels do watch the TV news. Word of my being targeted by Fallwood has spread through the chapter, and also through the LA, Riverside, Berdoo, Fresno, Oakland, Frisco, and Sacramento chapters. By Mutt's estimate, I currently have about 180 of the toughest bastards on the planet at my beck and call. If I feel it is necessary, all I have to do is call Mutt and tell him I need my own personal strike force. Every fucking HA in the state will drop what they're doing, head to wherever I am, and do anything I tell them to.
"And on a gentler note, I logged onto the Becky Page Fans BBS earlier. The board is foaming at the mouth with rage at Fallwood, the computer nerds of the area are mobilized.... For what it's worth. I called Syko to ask his view of things, and he said he's been getting private messages from board members offering their hacking services to take down Fallwood. He says it's creepy, we're talking about serious geek wizards, binary cowboys, offering all sorts of incredibly devious and destructive plans to utterly wreck Reverend Fallwood's life and ministry. One guy said he could 'take out' Fallwood's TV satellite in ten minutes, turn it into an orbiting lump. Another offered to hack the Crystal Ministries banking, so that all donations made by credit card are re-routed into the coffers of GLAAD. And of course, have his 800 number redirected to a phone sex line. Honestly? The band of hackers on the BBS are far more frightening than the Angels. Syko knows them all, and has been in contact with them. They've promised to not launch any electronic attacks without his go-ahead, and he told them he'd seek my go-ahead first.
"Lenny, I am currently in a position to stage a coup against the country of Brazil if I wanted, and pull it off. Between HA and the geeks, I could annex Baja, rename it 'Beckyland,' and have a spot in the UN within three weeks. I am so well-protected, on so many fronts, it's almost disturbing. And you're not going to give any of this a bit of thought, because you're going to be cruising around in the Falcon somewhere, listening to your Ornette Coleman tapes and having your dick sucked by Jane all day. Am I clear?"
After a bit more staring, I said, "All right. You're right, I do need to decompress, and for longer than just one night. Two things, though. I will be calling you to check in every damn night, and that is not up for debate. Also, if Jane is going to be my personal orgasm dispensing unit, I'm going to insist she look the part."
Bekka smirked and cocked an eyebrow. "Um, she already does."
"Naw, she's gonna get the chance to look slutty while she's with me. Whatever she's wearing is going to meet the bare legal minimum to qualify as clothes. I'll take her shopping at Berlin Wall tonight, with the instructions she's to choose the tiniest, sleaziest items from their bondage and fetish gear. I won't lie, dear: while Jane is with me, she is going to look like the most shameless, craven teenage fuck toy to ever walk the earth."
"How come you've never asked me to look like that?" Bekka queried. She was actually pouting a little.
I told her, "You and Jane both have class and style. However, Jane will put hers on the back burner, in favor of blatant shock value. She revels in causing simultaneous horror and titillation. While you don't mind shocking people, your preferred method is sharing your thoughts, making statements. Besides, think about it. If you went out wearing a skin-tight half shirt, no bra, leather micro-skirt, black velvet gloves, and domme boots, people would just say, 'Well, she's a porn star, of course she looks like a sleaze.' With Jane, I will reiterate: she's going to look like the teenage fuck toy she is apparently going to be.
"And no, Jane won't be blowing me while I drive. If I want some action at the wheel, I'll have her jerk me off. But,getting sucked off while I drive lost a lot of its appeal when I was nineteen. Let's just say that one pothole can really ruin a guy's day in that situation."
Bekka frowned, then her eyes got big. "Oh..... Oh. Ouch. Yes, I believe I understand. Hopefully she didn't draw blood."
"No, but I could see the teeth marks for a month. So, anyway. I'm being exiled from my wife and home for eleven days. I'm not going to visit Crystal, she'll have a jealous fit if I have Jane with me. Huh.... So where should I head?"
"Spend at least part of your time in small towns in the Central Valley, where Jane's presence in a diner will prompt calls to the police from outraged citizens. What the fuck, use Jane as a cathartic tool. You already know your wife offends the sensibilities of Evangelicals. Offend the easily offended on a personal, one-on-one level. You'll get the personal touch missing from Fallwood's TV show and hate mail."
I snickered. "Actually, the desert would be more fun. We'll wander through all those tiny isolated towns out in Imperial County, then jump up to the Mojave Desert, maybe with a stop in Palm Springs. Jane will always have a huge hunting knife strapped to one thigh, I'll leave my jacket off and my holster on. We'll never take our sunglasses off, no matter what. In places like Heber and Coachella and Morongo Valley, we'll give the locals a rattle. We'll look like the vanguard for an invasion of road pirates, like from 'Succubus.....'" I trailed off.
Bekka frowned, "Darling, are you still with us?"
I stopped chewing my tongue and said, "Yeah.... Sort of. I think I've found the subject matter for consideration while I'm traveling, and I can bounce ideas off Jane. A sequel to 'Succubus.' There's got to be a way to pull it off, have the canon of the first movie flow into a new story, and one that would involve all the original characters. How about.... Shit, no, that won't work.... Uh...."
"If you're going to do that, your first call should be to Mitch in Lakeside. He's been sitting on all the stunt vehicles, so he can auction them off as famous movie cars. I'll assume we'd need them again...."
"Some of them, I'm not sure. The only idea I really have is that there should be a 'Succubus II,' and that's it. I'm going to let that fester in the back of my brain for now. One last thing. My exile does not start until after dinner tonight. I want to make a few calls, I want to talk to Angel and Syko and Terry.and Mutt. Is that kosher?"
That was fine with Bekka. I finally got out of bed (my bladder was at critical mass), smoked my morning bowl of meth, and headed downstairs for a bagel and coffee. Then I got on the phone, Mutt first.
He confirmed what Bekka had said. HA all over the state, and even further out, thought that fuckin' holy roller Jerry Fallwood was pushing his luck, talking shit about a righteous chick like Becky Page. None of them fuckin' yahoos from the Moral Militia would harm a hair on Becky's head, not without some serious repercussions. Obviously, the Dago chapter would be the initial Emergency Response Unit, but every Angel in the state would ride nonstop to get to Dago, if it seemed necessary. Mutt said, "Shit, Becky and Terror can just spend more time around the Hi-Lo. Nobody's gonna dare fuck with her there."
Next, Angel. Bekka had told him I was getting too stressed over the whole Moral Militia thing, and she feared for my safety and stability. He was the one to suggest I take an exile: there were no issues or projects that needed anything more than a steady hand on the tiller. So, Angel would take his own working vacation, enjoying the relative easy pace of North County San Diego. (Plus, he had a crush on four of my Inana girls at once, and could get some ogling in.)
Terry wasn't home, so I hit her pager and waited a few. She called me back from the Gun Range, her favorite hangout besides my living room. She confidently assured me that any dumb fuckin' motherfuckers who tried to fuck with Bekka would be put on the fuckin' ground, toot sweet. What I wanted to hear. "So you've basically been forced to take some fuckin' time off, huh?" she asked.
"Yes. I'm going to be jotting down random script ideas, but I won't be doing any real writing or editing. Also, it's sort of a vacation from Bekka. I realized this morning I've been real jumpy lately, since that first goddamn Jerry Fallwood broadcast. Every stranger is a threat, you know? Not a potential threat, but a real one."
"Yeah, check your fuckin' head for a while. You said you're bringing Gator Bait with you? Have her huff your choad about a half dozen times a day, you'll feel better right away."
Last was Syko, real name Ray. He was the sysop for the San Diego computer bulletin board 'Becky Page Fans,' a rather geeky Becky Page fan club. Back then, you had to actually understand both the machines and their operating systems at least a little to get anything done.... Or log onto a BBS. Modems were still cradles you set the hand-pieces of telephones in, to connect with another computer. The "Internet" was a rather arcane project undertaken by the defense industry and some universities. Syko ran the BBS off a PC 386, 16 megs RAM, a whopping half-gigabyte hard drive, and connected to a second phone line. He himself was a short, muscly, barrel-chested Mexican who worked as a UNIX programmer. He worked from home, which saved the the company money and allowed him to work whenever he wanted, at any time of the day or night. Every time we spoke, he would remind me that I was the luckiest man in the world, I'd managed to steal Becky Page's heart, taking her off the market in a big way. "Damn, hermano, not only are you married to the hottest woman in the world, she's so hung up on you it ain't funny. Be thankful."
Syko sounded wired up when I called. He said, "Chit, man, the freakin' board has been blowing up since about 6:45 last night, and ain't slowing down! People are seriously worked up. I can handle twenty separate incoming hits at once, and some 'manos been having to re-dial two or three times to get through! There's gotta be 400 fresh posts since last night at this point, and every single chingaso one is calling for Jerry Fallwood's head. Chit, if you need a posse, just start reading posts, and take notes. You got a lotta people volunteering to do chit like act as bodyguards or perimeter patrols on your place, they put up their real names and phone numbers, they're all saying, 'Hey Becky, I got your back, gimme a ring.' I checked the incoming logs, I been getting people hitting the board from Arizona, Texas, Wyoming, all over. It's crazy."
I actually had a lump in my throat. It hit me that there were hundreds and hundreds of random people from all over, whose only real connection was an interest in computers and a love of Becky Page. But they seemed to be massing, and were willing to commit serious felonies to protect the object of their love, and damage those responsible for threatening that object. They were smart, they were savvy, and apparently had a whole lot more balls than people would give computer geeks for having.
I said, "Man.... Ray.... You have no idea how fucking touched I feel right now. Dude, you know who I was on the phone with fifteen minutes ago? The president of the San Diego chapter of the Hell's Angels. Every damn HA in the state is ready to do.... I'm not sure what, exactly, but the club has made it clear they'll bust their asses in a big way to keep my wife safe. Now I've got every silicon jockey in San Diego promising they'll bust ass, too. It's a little overwhelming.... Finding out there are thousands of people in the country who hate my wife was hard. But finding all the folks who love her, and are willing to do so much to....." I trailed, off, I was choked up.
"Hey Lenny.... 'Mano.... Don't think about it too hard, okay. Just know you and Bekka got some friends, you got people watching your back. You doing okay?"
"No, not really. Ray, I've been so fucking on edge lately. Bekka and the owner of the studio are exiling me from my own home until I get my head together. Me and Jane are going on a road trip for a week and a half, we're leaving tomorrow. Terry, Bekka's bodyguard, will be living in the house with her in my absence, and Angel will be staying at the studio. Me taking a trip was Bekka's idea, really, and I know she's right, but..... It feels like she's telling me to fuck off when she needs my help the most, you know? Right now the words that keep running through my head are, 'Drink more scotch.' It's still before noon, so I won't, but I feel like I'm redundant. Like I can't protect my own wife, and she doesn't want me to try."
"Aw, dude. No, don't think that way. Um.... Look, Bekka talked to me earlier. From what she said, you wouldn't be able to help her, because you'd be in fuckin' jail, you'd tee off on some puto and end up in slam, and she'd really be alone, you know? Take the time off, clear your head. You got los hermanos from the board watching Bekka's back, and yours too, okay?" Syko paused. "Sounds like Bekka is trying to protect her husband, you know? If you worrying about that pendejo Fallwood is starting to mess things up inside your skull, she wants you to not be messed up. Take the time off, you'll feel better, and you'll be back at her side soon. Sin problema, hermano."
I was sitting at the kitchen table with the stash drawer on the chair next to me. There were two boxes of freezer bags on the table, of two different sizes. Grab a small bag, drop in a couple handfuls of Smiley Ecstasy. Grab a large bag, chuck in about a quarter pound of marijuana. Small bag: half ounce of cocaine. Large bag: fifty or so Whippets canisters, plus a balloon and the inflation doo-hickey. Full ounce of meth. Large bag: a couple ounces of psilocybin mushrooms.
Bekka observed this and said, "You realize I'm sending you on this vacation to try and preserve your mental health, not ream your skull out."
"I don't want to be caught short, now do I? Besides, I figured we'll be sharing with people we meet." The stash finished, I put it all into a small duffel bag.
"Ah, Hunter Thompson logic. Fair enough. Yes, you and Jane can do a 'Fear And Loathing' routine while you're gone. Too bad we don't own a red convertible. Just.... Remember to sleep and eat every now and then."