Monday, February 13, 2017

Preacher (Part 8)

     Heber, California is where the rest of the world imports its dust from.  It has to be, they're rolling in it there.  I followed Mike's directions into Heber and his grandpa's house on Parkyns Ave.  Jane and I waited in the Falcon while he trotted up to the door, let himself in, then strolled nonchalantly back out to the car, carrying some light blue paper.  He got in the car and handed it over.

     It was a cheaply-printed newsletter, about thirty-six pages.  It reminded me of punk fanzines put out by fourteen year old boys with journalistic ambitions.  Every page was graced by some image of an American flag.  The typesetting wasn't bad, but someone had added handwritten editorial comments in the margins.  The back had a cut-out form to subscribe: $72 for six months.  Someone was cashing in.
     Front and center on page one was a picture of Bekka, cut out of People magazine.  Devil horns had been drawn onto her head before the newsletter went to press.  I was just processing the first line of the article, "The Satanic temptress named Becky Page, a professional whore, has her sights aimed at...."  Then Mike whacked me on the arm and said, "Fire up and roll out, grandpa's car just turned onto the street."
     I got the Falcon in motion, passing a 1982 Caprice just a few doors away from the house we were leaving.  I thought the Caprice was pulling into the driveway, but a second glance in the rear view showed he'd simply made a three-point turn, and was now coming up from behind.  Very quickly.  He'd spotted us sitting right outside his house, and was curious about who we were, no doubt.  I pointed this out to Mike, who said, "Dude, don't let him get close enough to get your plate number.  He's got some buddy in the sheriff's department who will trace plates for him."
     "And this car is registered to Bekka Schneider, a.k.a. Becky Page.," I said.  "Right-o.  Drop your cocks and grab your socks."
     I punched the gas and shot up the street.  Heber is a quiet place on a Sunday evening, so turning left on to East Heber Rd. was simple enough.  Grandpa had figured out I was bolting, and laying into the gas himself.  Thanks to a heaving wreck of a '74 Plymouth in front of me, he was closing the gap.  I checked the oncoming lane and passed the Plymouth.... and so did Grandpa.  At the four-way stop sign at East Heber and South Dogwood Ave., I decided to forgo the formality of stopping and turned a bit early, rolling up the wide dirt shoulder and jumping back onto the pavement headed north on Dogwood.  Grandpa took the same route.  "He's a game old guy," I commented to Mike.
     "He's a bull-headed old prick," was the response.  "If you can, ditch him somehow."
     It was just over a mile to Interstate 8.  While still in third, I activated the supercharger and laid into the gas.  The added power pushed us back in our seats as the Falcon shot forward, hitting about ninety.  Okay, were were making distance on Grandpa, but the problem was we were the only damn thing around, and thus easy to spot.  Eventually we'd have to slow or stop, and Grandpa would close the gap again.  I mentioned this to Mike, who said, "Don't get on the freeway.  Keep going on Dogwood, then turn left onto a side street after about a half mile.  We should lose him in there."
     "Yeah, that's a barrio, grandpa would never follow us into there."
     We flew over I-8, dodging a couple slower vehicles.  Grandpa was game, but losing ground.  After another eight blocks, Mike said, "Turn left into any of these streets.  It's all a grid, we can get back out again."
     "How good is your grandpa's eyesight?" I asked.
     "Pretty damn good, actually."
     "Well, he knows we're in here somewhere.  I'm sure he could spot the bright blue thing a quarter mile ahead of him turning left."
     I rolled up Orange Ave. to Hope St., then turned north again.  On Brighton Ave I headed east again, watching for the brown Caprice front and rear.  I should have looked to the sides, too, since as we got to McCullom St. the bastard nearly t-boned me.  I jerked the wheel to the left, heading up McCullom, and reactivated the blower.  The Caprice followed gamely.  Turning on State St. towards the west, I was aware of something in the street a few blocks up, which I was approaching at about fifty.  Coming up on it, I realized that State St was blocked at Hope St....  And Hope was blocked as well, leaving only egress to the south.
     It took only a second to see a coronacion was happening.  Twelve year old girls in fancy white dresses, tables of gifts and food, strolling mariachi band, a portable barbecue pit, vendors, the whole nine yards for a Mexican street party.  There were already a couple barrachos passed out on the sidewalk, just outside the official party area.  Swearing, I stopped the car from bashing through the barriers on State St. by putting it into a ninety degree slide, nearly bumping an elote cart and vendor.  He glared at me and said, "Que tonto?"
     I pointed at the approaching Caprice and yelled, "La migra!  El Chevy marrón!  Quatro oficiales!"
     This was the magic phrase I'd needed to cause a bit of distraction.  I'd told the corn (elote) dealer that four officers from Immigration (la migra) were coming in the brown Chevy behind me.  The elote man simply yelled to the crowds, "Oye!  La migra, ahora!"  Wham.  People were scattering everywhere, all eager to either get relatives or themselves hidden.  I knocked the Falcon into reverse and shot south on Hope St. backwards until the next block, then yanked the wheel and pointed back out of the barrio.  A glance showed both the elote man and the mariachis were purposely obstructing the Caprice, preventing la migra from parking and beginning the warrant services.  Within five minutes, the all-clear would be called and the coronacion resumed as though nothing had happened.  I'd bought enough time to get lost and head back to the motel.
     Beside me, Mike was laughing.  "That probably scared the shit out of my grandpa.  I'm sure he saw all those people running and assumed he'd set off some sort of neighborhood gringo detector, and they were all coming to try and steal his car.  That's what he thinks every Mexican is gonna do, steal his car.  Ninety year old great grandmother of twelve?  Shit, is she Mexican?  Then according to Grandpa, the bitch is gonna try to steal his car."
     Back at the motel, we exchanged phone numbers with the four kids, and they took off.  I sat down to leaf through "The Western Dispatch," which according to a strip of text at the top of the page was the "voice of the Moral Militia in the savage West."  It was grim.  Generally, the text had been typeset into columns.... but the columns had been cut up and hand-laid (poorly) onto each page.  I'm not sure if there was an editorial position to leave misspellings and punctuation errors in, but Mike was right, an eighth grader who displayed this much incompetence with the English language would be held back a year.  The general tenor was the same as you'd find in anonymous white power literature, only instead of railing against "niggers" and "mongrels" the targets here were the "secular humanists," "liberal faiths" (Episcopals, Methodists, etc.), Democrats, "the liberal media,"  all "Godless" colleges and universities, "Satanic music" (any tunes more hep than Larry Welk) and the entertainment industry in general, Japanese cars, and any political views further to the left than Lyndon LaRouche.  One got the impression that the ideal world for these people would be like a rerun of "Leave It To Beaver," only instead of level-headed wisdom, Ward would be giving nightly beatings to Wally and The Beav with a Bible.  Solutions to the problems of the world ranged from picketing to organized telephone harassment, and on up to arson, assault, and "paramilitary action."
     And the main topic of this week's issue?  Becky Page.
     The main article, simply credited to "R.W.", was a litany of all Becky Page's goals and associations.  A Satanic harlot who wished to destroy all moral decency in America, Ms. Page would criminalize marriage, turn all youth into bisexual sluts (male and female), ban religious worship, bankrupt the country by diverting all funds into the production of pornography and rock & roll, and institute "free love" as a required basis of living.  It was stated she was a Socialist, a Satanist, a Wiccan, a defender of homosexuals and child molesters ("thousands of dollars donated to NAMBLA just this year"), an advocate of drug abuse (okay, fair enough), and a cheerleader for as much mindless sexual activity as possible, constantly, regardless of location, gender, or common sense.  Those who held onto their morality would be placed in re-education camps, where "their minds will be broken through the use of drugs and pornography, forced to copulate with strangers at all hours of the day and night.  Those who succumb to venereal disease or physical collapse will be destroyed like rabid dogs!"   And oh yeah, Becky Page was raised Catholic.  'Nuff said.
     The solutions?  Start with a brief campaign of picketing, harassment, stalking, and threats.  Next, burn "the filth-monger den named Inana Productions" to the ground.  If Becky Page still refuses to relocate to Tierra Del Fuego and shave her head, it will only take "a single man with a rifle and steady aim to rid our nation of this human cancer.  The only pity in this would be that a public lynching of Becky The Whore Page seems more appropriate."
     Reading over my shoulder, Jane said, "Hey, Bekka isn't a 'champion of licentious behavior.'  That's my gig.  I should have that put on a t-shirt."
     "Guess what, pet," I said.  "We're blowing this Popsicle stand at six tomorrow morning and heading home.  I want Angel to see this, and kick-start the family's best civil lawyers.  This thing is so loaded with libel and criminal threats it's almost funny.  What kind of sucks is there doesn't seem to be any formal connection to Jerry Fallwood or Crystal Chapel, other than licking Fallwood's ass.  I'm calling Ms. Fawcett at Channel 10 to let her know there's a whole new twist to the Becky Page saga, and we haven't been paranoid.  Also, the motherfuckers who are responsible for this goddamn rag are out of business, and possibly headed for jail.  You can't openly encourage people to commit murder, but this little screed sure does."
     I didn't know if Bekka was on the board to work that Monday (Angel would have done the scheduling) so I headed straight for the mansion, Jane and I arriving around 8:30.  I mentally marked off the cars parked on the street: nothing I didn't recognize.  Crew member vehicles, plus Rio's 380ZX, Vince's Acura, and Feather's Toyota.  No purple Sportster, either.  Angel's Maserati sat at the top of the driveway, next to the camera truck.
     We went in, waving hello to Goose, our security man.  My office was occupied: Angel sat at my desk with a very large coffee and a couple crullers on a napkin.  He was staring at the screen of the Mac, a glance showing it was displaying the Becky Page Fans BBS, with no post opened.  He turned to take us in, and gave me a frown.
     "Dammit, we told you to make yourself scarce, Lenny.  You're not doing yourself any favors hanging around here and stressing over Bekka's safety.  You're just gonna worry yourself into a straitjacket."
     "Yeah, well, I came across a little bit of business in El Centro that I figured you might be interested in.  You, our lawyers, the media, possibly law enforcement, a lot of people should take a gander at this."  I handed over the newsletter.  "Between the libels and the incitements to violence, whoever is putting this out is gonna...." I trailed off.
     Something had caught my eye. The newsletter had a bulk mail stamp, no surprise there, but I realized it was one for nonprofit companies and organizations.  Whoever was responsible for "The Western Dispatch" was incorporated as a not-for-profit.  Their identities now really intrigued me.
     "Job one for the day, Angel?" I stated.  "Find out who is responsible for publishing that newsletter.  We can drag them into court, or I'll just pay a visit to them myself.  Read the article, count the number of libels and and incitements and threats there are.  Then call your favorite civil lawyer and tell him he's got a new project.  By the way, how's things on the BBS?"
     "Far more sedate today, so far," said Angel.  "Business as usual.  So how did you come across this article?"
     "Long story.  I'm just glad I did.  Being able to put names to Moral Militia members would be damn nice, maybe we can have their subscription records subpoena'ed.  The address is a P.O. box in Merced.  No names anywhere, just initials.  But the newsletter is almost entirely submission-based, there's no such thing as a staff writer, I guess.  Anyway, read it and weep.  I came back because I found that, and it's damn important.  Is Bekka on the board today?"
     "No.  Her and Terry are out and about.  I have Dawn fluffing today, so Terry could be with Bekka."  Angel stared at me.  Then he said, "Okay, you've run your errand.  You and Jane go back to having fun.  See you in nine days."
     I stared back briefly and said, "We're going to get some breakfast, then we'll be back.  I want to hear your opinions of that newsletter, and also see what plan of action you think makes sense.  Then we'll go again.  I'll page Terry, and tell her to give Bekka a hug for me."
     "So where did you get this thing from, anyway?" asked Angel.
     "A chance encounter with a few high school kids.  One of them mentioned his grand-dad was a Moral Militia member, and subscribed to this publication, and was all het up about Becky Page.  Apparently grandpa gets most of his talking points from this little fanzine for shitheads.  The kid was actually willing to steal it from his grandpa's house for me.  Jane and I have both read it, and whoever puts it out really doesn't have a clue so far as what's not legal to print, or they don't give a shit.  It doesn't matter that no one in the employ of the publication was the one responsible for writing the damn article, the publication is responsible for it being printed.  Maybe check with the post office to get a lead on the nonprofit bulk mail permit.  Churches are about the only organizations that really qualify and need those permits."
     Jane and I went to Triplet's for breakfast.  I asked Jane what, if anything, she wanted to do on our break.  Both of us had sort of soured on the desert raider routine, things would get monotonous real quick.  After considering, Jane said, "Well....  I'd like to visit Magic Mountain, and see Ivanka and Ginny again, and hang around in Berkeley....  Oh, and also visit Dolly and her band."
     "Then that's what we will do," I told her.  "Jesus knows not having a plan sort of bollixed us up over the last few days....  Although I'm guessing, someone would have tipped us off to the existence of 'The Western Dispatch' sooner or later.  I don't plan on being back at the studio for more than a half hour when we get back.  Then we'll head to Magic Mountain."
     After we ate, we returned to the studio.  Angel had read the article, and was a rather busy boy.  He'd gotten a hold of a Cosa Nostra civil attorney and explained what was going on.  The attorney was given carte blanc to hire investigators, subpoena records, and generally make a lot of loud noise in trying to identify, then neuter, the publisher(s) of "The Western Dispatch."  The article, along with the editorial information, had been faxed up to the attorney.  Angel had read a few excerpts to him over the phone, and the attorney agreed that this was not protected speech, it was far out of the First Amendment umbrella.  And Angel, being a gentleman, admitted I was right in returning home once I'd found the newsletter, it would provide us with intel on the people most likely to harass, annoy, or threaten Bekka or the studio.  "I'm gonna have the fucking mooks responsible in court for so long, and so often, they may as well put a cot in the courthouse men's room and stay there, to save them time."
     We spoke to Bekka on the phone briefly.  She called us from Syko's house in La Mesa, she wanted to introduce him to Terry.  Syko also spoke with me.  "I got some judo mats, and I know some aikido and jujitsu, so me and Terror sparred a little.  Dios mio, you couldn't get a chingaso freight train past that chica!  She's as tenacious as a pit bull, and about at mean, too!"
     So Jane and I took off for Valencia.  We got a motel room, abused some drugs, and enjoyed being at Magic Mountain on a weekday in the off-season.  A good time was had by all.

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