The music played, and the graduation caps flew in the air, to cheers. Those in the bleachers began standing up, to stretch their legs, if nothing else. A graduating class of 580 takes a while to get across a stage, one by one. Now everyone had their diplomas, and were ready to blow the Popsicle stand.
The seniors went in alphabetical order, stepping across the stage to shake hands with the principal and be handed their diplomas. There would be a wait before they reached the letter 'O' in the procession. We had quite a crew present to cheer Jane as she received her diploma: most of the Inana people, performers and crew who weren't working that afternoon, wanted to be there. Our presence was noticed. Most of the crowd were parents, obviously, and dressed rather formally. It was a very warm day, and the Inana girls had dresses accordingly. Their general attitude seemed to be, "I'm not the one crossing the stage, so my appearance doesn't matter." So, in the middle of all the suits and ties and blouses and skirts are about twelve or so women in short-shorts and tank tops, almost all of whom are in their mid-twenties and have the bodies one expects from a porn star. (The one exception was Sue, who was in her full goth-hooker regalia and makeup.)
Even without the variance in attire, we'd have been stared at anyway. Too many of the performers were easily recognizable at this point. Besides Becky Page, we had also Ella Belle (Elspeth), Skye Tyler (Ellen), Feather, Tawny Smith (Tawny), Roach, and Andy Sharpe (Andy). This last one, Andy, had pretty much become a full-time stud at Inana. He was a realtor by trade, and had worked at Inana part-time for several years. When things in the real estate market were lean, he'd call up and ask to be put on the board for some loops. Starting the previous October, he'd pretty much abandoned his real estate career to work at Inana full time. He was a skilled enough actor that having him in features was beneficial. Andy had solid roles in the last few features we'd produced. He and Roach were male porn studs who were recognized on the street at this point.
We also had a contingent of outlaw bikers in our group. Boss was there of course, all six foot seven and 260 pounds of him. A few of the Dago Hell's Angels made it, too: Fatso, Big Ugly, Roach of course,and Doobie had joined us, with their old ladies. Doobie's woman, Peaches, had driven down the day before with her friend Barbie. They were both Cal Poly students, but their year had ended a couple weeks earlier, so they had the free time. Peaches (real name Helen) had met Doobie at the H.A. Labor Day run the previous September in a Pismo Beach saloon named Baxter's. She'd shown up with some other Cal Poly students, all of them wanting to stare at the freak show. Her and Doobie had hit it off. In fact, the other girls with them had also hit it off with the Angels. Barbie (real name Racine) was a tiny Mexican girl, a lesbian from Whittier. She was enamored of Terry, who let her know that she didn't swing that way, but was happy to make friends. The other two girls they were with hooked up with a couple of the Fresno Angels. The four guys they'd arrived in Pismo Beach with were disgusted and horrified at this turn of events. Peaches and Doobie were doing the long-distance thing, making the relationship develop well. Now Peaches had gone from preppy to biker babe, judging by her appearance: boots, jeans, tight t-shirt, leather vest, and a jeweled headband. She'd introduced Doobie to her parents over Winter Break. They didn't drop dead on the spot, but came close.
The arrival of the outlaws --- four with H.A. colors on their denim vests --- caused a bit of trouble. Both security officers, plus a couple Carlsbad PD officers, were present for the graduation. Just the sound of the motorcycles attracted the attention of law enforcement. The outlaws were dismounting and lighting cigarettes in the lot when the security officers began hovering around. Then Terry showed up on "Eddie," her massively modified '85 Air Glide. It was even louder than the other putts, and even a bit flashier. The outlaws went to greet Terry, then began walking towards the football stadium. Ellen had been hanging around near the entrance, waiting for Boss, her current beau, with Elspeth and Jackie. They trotted up to greet the outlaw entourage.
When everyone got to the entrance, the security idiots stepped forward to block them and ask why they were there. "Ta see our friend Gator Bait git her diploma," boomed Boss with a smile. Ellen elaborated they were all there to see Jane Osborne graduate. Oh? Why is that? "Because Jane is a friend of ours," smiled Roach pointedly. "Pretty straightforward, really."
The two Carlsbad cops sere approaching, so Jackie sprinted off to where we were sitting. Jane was still hanging around with us, already in her cap and gown. Jackie retrieved her, Bekka, and me, in the hopes of smoothing the entrance of the bikers. We got back to find one of the Carlsbad cops saying, "We don't want you people here."
Jane stepped up to give Boss a hug, then looked at the cops and asked what the problem was. One of campus security saw Jane and muttered, "Oh, who else...." Jane said, "Hello, Starsky! Hello, Hutch! I see you've met some of my friends, they're here for the ceremony. Hey guys, let's go in, we've got a good chunk of bleachers sort of staked off for everybody. Let's go." She gestured with her arm, and everyone began following her in.
A Carlsbad cop said, "Hold it, hold it! We just said we don't want you people here."
Bekka slid up next to him and replied in her honey-smooth voice, "But the graduating student does want them here, not to mention all the student's friends who are already waiting at the bleachers. This being a public ceremony taking place on public property, there's next to nothing you can do to prevent them from attending, not without vastly overstepping your authority. And if you do, I will see to it the next eighteen months of your life is one long series of subpoenas, legal conferences, and court appearances. Am I clear?"
The cop looked at Bekka in mild shock and said, "Uh, Ms. Page?"
"Live and in the flesh."
"You're saying these are friends of yours?"
"Yes, they are," Bekka purred. "We have Big Ugly, Roach, Doobie, Boss, Fatso, Dawn, Terry, Betty, Peaches, and Ginger. Skye, the one with Boss, has been here for a while, she'been waiting for Boss to arrive. Now that you've been introduced, we'll go get seated." Now Bekka gestured with her arm, and we began moving again.
The cop walked alongside Bekka and said, "Are you sure you want.... these people here?"
"I'd like to hear you say why I wouldn't, without also slandering them."
We got to the bleachers. Everyone clambered up, shaking hands and hugging those already present, then taking seats. General conversation broke out, the cops and security being ignored completely. Jane finished getting hugs from the outlaws, then climbed down and walked over to the two security guards. She gave them a bright grin and said, "Starsky, Hutch, for two years you've tried to catch me doing something wrong, tried to get something on me. I've never broken a single rule at Carlsbad High. This will be my last day here, and I still won't have broken any rules." She gave them a smirk and said, "The two of you missed your calling. You should have been headwaiters at fancy restaurants." She went over to join the crowd of fellow graduates.
Our most recent feature, "Exploration," starred Tawny in her first lead role. By now, it was a given Inana's features would be reviewed in the Entertainment sections of the national magazines. It was a bit frightening: since 'Succubus,' every feature we released had been reviewed --- and very favorably --- in People, Us, Newsweek, Time, U.S. News, etc.... including screen shots of (clothed) performers put in. All the Inana girls had been interviewed by national press at this point, our stars more than once. Now these women, all known for both excellent thespian talent and an avid willingness to engage in hardcore sex on camera, were sitting in the bleachers at a high school in Carlsbad, California. An upper-middle-class town north of San Diego, a white-bread burg on the coast. Far from Hollywood. And they were there to see a student graduate.
The release before that was Feather's first lead role. She was already well known for her role as "Itsy" in "Succubus," where she'd been Becky Page's ("Lila") little shadow and shotgun rider. Her small size and appearance --- she was eighteen when she'd been in "Succubus" --- gave the impression she was the world's naughtiest fourteen year old girl. She also had two centerfolds in a Hustler-published magazine called "Barely Legal," plus supporting roles in every feature since. Feather had learned how to play guitar for her role as "Heather Hell" in "180 Strokes Per Minute," a tale about a young girl (Feather) who wants to be a rock star. Bekka also picked up some guitar, playing the Joan Jett-like mentor of the girl. Mallory and I had co-written the script.... Okay, we'd re-written it. Mallory had written a full script which I felt had a great plot, but needed a hell of a lot more punch. Her and I worked out serious restructuring, throwing in more humor and pathos, giving the story a more kinetic feeling. When we were finished, we were both happier with the end product.... And given the reviews and sales, we'd done well.
So here's a vast swarm of suburban parents in the bleachers outside Carlsbad High School, and us. The parents talked quietly with each other. The Inana people chatted and joked around, not being loud, exactly, but certainly more social and outgoing that others present. The idea of carrying a flask had started with me, I always had my thin metal container of Johnnie Walker tucked inside my jacket, undetectable from the outside. The idea of having a bit of alcohol available, regardless of where you were, seemed to make sense to many at Inana. We weren't alcoholics, but sometimes, well.... Being able to take a couple quick swallows of one's favorite fire water certainly helped a situation. On those days where everything is just going wrong, and nothing is cooperating, a belt could help preserve one's mental health better than a whole jar of Prozac. Everyone who carried a flask seemed to have a different taste in liquor, and kept their flasks loaded with top-shelf examples: Johnnie Walker, Glenfiddich, Gray Goose vodka, Dunsmuir whiskey, Kaluha,.... Over the course of the afternoon, flasks were surreptitiously removed from purses and jackets, to be passed around. Just a bit of a pick-me-up, not a real buzz. I'd handed out Smiley Ecstasy to everyone in the mood (all those present) in the parking lot, so no one was going to be getting sluggish, anyway.
Lance was walking with his class. With the decision made by his parents and the school district to have Lance engage in home study, he'd transferred back ---on paper, anyway --- to Carlsbad High. Technically, Lance was a Carlsbad High student, but he was only on campus about two hours a week: on Friday to drop off his completed work, then on Monday to get his new lessons. But as a Carlsbad High student (on paper) he would walk with his class. When the name "Lance Grisham" was boomed over the P.A., the polite clapping everyone did for all the graduates started.... But was also accompanied by loud hissing from a group occupying a lower corner of one set of bleachers. As Lance shook hands with with the principal, I heard Jackie's voice call, just loud enough to carry well, "Fuckin' rapist." Both Lance and the principal's heads swung in the direction of the voice, then aligned back to where they were. Lance got off the stage, but quick.
The Inana people had been taking smoke breaks in groups of two or three during the procession, trotting over to the edge of the stadium, puffing one down, then rejoining us. By the time the 'M' students were crossing the stage, everyone was present and waiting. Finally, the words "Jane Osborne" were boomed from the speakers. Our crew, about twenty-five people, went nuts. Everyone stood up and began stomping on the metal walkways, hooting, cheering, whistling, clapping, making as much noise as possible. It was by far the most exuberant response a graduate had received. Jane, for her part, had her graduation cap set far back on her head, so her blue mohawk would be jutting out the front. After she shook hands with the principal, she turned in our general direction, threw a Nixon-style double-handed peace sign, then blew a kiss. I swear I could see the principal shaking his head slightly. Well.... He was finally free of the punk rock sex bomb who had been disrupting the normal flow of things for nearly four semesters. The girl who would constantly challenge both her teachers and the administration, and in a way they could not fault her for. Jane would disagree with something, but instead of the usual teenage attitude and invective the faculty was used to, Jane would patiently debate them with reasoned statements and arguments. It was like arguing with William F. Buckley. Jane was calm, unflappable, and utterly unswerving in her assertions. And the damned blue-haired girl was legally emancipated, so the school couldn't call her parents to tell them to rein her in.
Finally, the last student crossed the stage. The principal made another short speech, welcoming the graduates into adulthood. "Pomp and Circumstance" started playing, the caps were thrown in the air, and that was that.. Everyone began flooding onto the field, desperately hoping to find the proper student before too long. The Inana crew dropped down onto the field, but stayed near the corner of the bleachers we'd been occupying. Jane found us quickly enough, and dashed over. She was picked up and swung around so many times in bear hugs I was surprised she didn't get motion sickness.
A somewhat diminutive older Italian gentleman in a sharp-looking suit approached, a smile on his face. Don Vito Ventimiglia, now-retired Don of the Southern California mafia and Jane's closest friend, was there. He'd called to say he would be there, but we'd never spotted him. Don Vito answered my query by explaining that due to traffic, he and his driver, Dino, were a bit late in arriving. There was no room anywhere near the Inana people, so he and Dino had hiked up the bleachers at the far end to watch the ceremony. When Jane saw him approach, she broke off the conversation she has having in mid-word and turned to him. Jane and Vito hugged each other for a long, long time. The Don had tears in his eyes when they broke apart. "Complimenti, il mio vero amore. Ci vediamo questa sera,"
"Thank you, Vito," Jane responded, tears in her own eyes. "I'll see you at the mansion. Be prepared to party very hard."
Jane's parents drifted up, to give their own hugs (much more restrained) and congratulations. The Inana people knew Jane was estranged from her parents, and simply gave polite smiles and nods to them. The basic facts of Jane's leaving home were known --- she'd been caught fooling around with a guy, and her parents threw her out --- but Jane had never let on about the abuse she suffered at the hands of her father, or her mother's drug habit. Inana folks just knew the relationship was very cool. Jane spoke with her parents for several minutes, then Newt and Joan made their exit. The obligation had been fulfilled, their presence was not needed.
Elspeth asked Jane about her parents. Why did they leave so quickly? What was their deal? Jane responded, "Thoreau said most men lead lives of quiet desperation. How quiet that desperation really is depends on how close you are to it, the desperation can be very noisy when you've got a ring-side seat. I witnessed the desperation of my parents for sixteen years. They know better than to pretend they're good parents. They also have the self-awareness and respect for me they won't pretend to be."
And who should glide up but vice principal Kendrick. My own interaction with Kendrick had happened on a couple occasions, the first (and biggest) was when Jane got in a fight with a football player shortly after starting at Carlsbad High. The jock had grabbed Jane's ass, called her a whore, and tried to grab at her tits. Jane responded in what I felt was a completely appropriate manner: she'd punched him in the face, then tried to claw the face off his skull. I'd been called to the school to hear what had happened, and when I did, asked Kendrick what the problem was: Jane had protected her honor. No, Bekka and I wouldn't be "punishing" Jane for fighting, she'd sit out her two days in detention, and that was that. In my eyes, Jane had done nothing wrong, she had defended herself, and her honor. And if the jock did his detention time on the track, I'd find out, and be back to have a personal chat with Kendrick. The man didn't care for Jane, and cared for Bekka and I even less.
And now, the behavioral thorn in his side for the last two years is standing surrounded by porn stars and Hell's Angels. I noticed one of the campus cops was sort of shadowing him. He stuck his hand out to Jane and said, "Ms. Osborne, you've completed your time here! What are your plans now?"
Looking directly into Kendrick's eyes, Jane replied, "What time frame would you like?"
"What do you mean?"
"All right, my plans for the next twelve hours involve partying extremely hard with my friends. Over the next four years, I will attend UC Berkeley, and be a Haas student. You're familiar with Haas?"
Kendrick gave a suspicious look and said, "Yes...."
"I've been accepted at Haas," Jane chirped at him. "I'm going to one of the most prestigious business schools in the country. and after that, well...."
"Please, continue Jane."
"Mr. Kendrick, would you agree that economic control can be more powerful than political control, in this day and age? Well.... By the time I'm thirty, you'll be seeing my name in the 'Economy' section of the newspapers. By the time I'm forty, I'll be routinely consulted for my opinions on world economic matters. And by the time I'm fifty, I will control much of the first world, manipulating both economies and governments like marionettes. The name 'Jane Osborne' will be spoken with a reverence, and a bit of extra breath. I'm going to make Warren Buffett look like a penny-stocks player from Fallbrook. Those are my plans."
The look Kendrick had changed from suspicion to trepidation. "Is that so...."
"Think of all the things I've done, just while a student at this school. I've never disrupted anything, but I've imposed my will, when I felt it was necessary. I reach my goals." She grinned up at her now-former vice principal. "Will you miss me?"
"I will miss having a consistent honor roll student," Kendrick said in a low voice. "I won't miss having a student who seemed to make a long-lasting project out of being disruptive."
Her mouth open in a caricature of shock, Jane said, "You're not referring to me, are you? You can't be. A disruptive student would have had far more disciplinary problems that I did. In fact, the only time the school found it necessary to discipline me was when I got in a fight, not long after I arrived here. How was I disruptive?"
His voice getting a bit quieter, Kendrick said, "You did it very carefully. You seemed to enjoy dancing around the edges of actually breaking the rules, while being careful to not cross the line. You may be happy to know you are the reason for district-wide changes in policy. A formal dress code will be in place. Students will be limited to two parking permits, period. Any grievances a student may have will be brought before the district, after school hours, not aired at whim in the offices here. Parental permission will be needed for a student to possess tobacco. When a student has finished their assigned work in a class, they will remain in the classroom, not be allowed to wander the halls or visit the smoking area...."
"Why are you waiting until after I'm gone to implement these rules?" Jane asked.
"Because...." Kendrick looked frustrated. "Because if we had implemented them, all the district would have done is give you and your.... guardians.... a new hobby, constantly filing challenges to the rules. Having met the adults you live with, I understand how your anarchistic attitude was cultivated. You and those two pornographers seem to revel in flouting any rules presented to you. The three of you have attitude problems."
I'd been half-listening to this from a few feet away, and now I stepped up next to Jane and said, "What's this about attitude problems?"
"Mr. Kendrick feels that you, Bekka, and myself have them," Jane said sweetly.
I smirked at Kendrick and said, "They haven't seemed to interfere with our lives. In fact, they probably have gotten all three of us where we are. If I didn't have attitude, my company would still be a tiny operation nobody cared about, instead of an entertainment powerhouse. Bekka's attitude made her into a star. And Jane's attitude has landed her at UCB, and admitted her into Haas Business School. People who always do what they're told rarely leave a mark on the world. I'd say our attitudes aren't a problem at all."
"You are someone who goes out of his way to defy authority," Kendrick said in a low, flat voice. "To be honest, I'm amazed your life isn't one of constant legal problems."
"Most 'authority' I've dealt with in my life has has been the self-appointed kind. I'm very respectful of authority, when that authority is supported by fact and reason. It's only when authority is arbitrary and self-serving that I challenge it. I choose my battles, I don't swing blindly at anything in my way. If I didn't have the attitude I do, I wouldn't be a millionaire at the age of twenty-four. Sorry, Kendrick, but blind obedience to the rules is the path to a meaningless existence."
I'm not sure what Kendrick hoped to gain from his hectoring. Maybe he didn't know, either. He stared at Jane, then me, then shook his head and walked off. Jane and I looked at each other and rolled our eyes.
The Inana girls were signing quite a few autographs. By the end of graduation, I'm sure no one present wasn't aware of our presence, and who we were. Suburban fathers would drift up, quietly ask for an autograph or three, then drift away again. The Inana girls did this politely, but didn't engage the autograph seekers, either. They gave off the body English that they were being mannerly, but writing their names down for fans was not the reason for their presence.
Jane's fellow smoking section denizens, the school losers and rejects and freaks in her class, came up to give Jane a hug and confirm: so, the party is on? We're gonna rage tonight? Jane confirmed that yes, the party was definitely on. They would't need to bring any of their own "supplies," either. Everything for a very enjoyable evening would be available, if you catch my drift. "Whoa.... Seriously?" You'd better believe it, Jane assured them.
We were having a serious blowout at the Inana mansion, starting at seven that night. All the Inana people (plus boyfriends and girlfriends) would be there, and a whole passel of Jane's fellow graduates, the punks and headbangers who'd befriended her over the last two years. There would also be a good contingent of computer club geeks and drama club dorks, along with some Hell's Angels and their old ladies, s few of the lowriders from Carlsbad High, Angel and Vinny and their wives, and Don Vito. Not to mention all the random friends Jane had made around the San Diego area in the last two years. Smiley, Jane's boyfriend, would be there of course.... And also Soda Pop, Jane's lover from the Riverside H.A. chapter. Smiley and Soda Pop knew of each other, and had both expressed acceptance of the other. Soda Pop had already told Jane, "Hey, it's his turf, and it's a big fuckin' day for him. I ain't gonna hang on you all night, you know? I'll be cool with him if he's cool with me."
The male punks and headbangers would see the crowd Jane was with and ask her quietly, Wow, is (Inana girl) gonna be at the party too? Jane would confirm that (Inana girl) had given an RSVP,, she was expected. "Whoa.... Oh my God, I'm gonna party with (Feather - Ella Belle - Skye Tyler - Becky Page - Tawny Smith - Gayla Goode - Jackie Chance - Trish Carezza - Missy Liscio - et cetera), this is gonna be so awesome." Jane would tell them to not get their hopes up too high, as most would probably be bringing their boyfriends, okay? "Yeah, but still...."
Jane's wardrobe for the party was simple: Doc Martens. Her cherry-red fourteen hole Docs. That was it. She saw absolutely no reason to wear anything else, it would be a warm night, this was a private event, and a decent percentage of attendees would be veterans of the porn industry, so nudity wouldn't be too shocking to them. Fine with us, Bekka and I had confirmed. There was a long-standing "clothing optional" policy for the pool and spas, and I knew the Inana girls would be getting in the water at some point, sans swimsuits. The only person I knew whose modesty would be impacted was Boss, and he'd already said he had to head straight to Needles after the graduation, to help sort out a problem with the pill-pressing station at the lab.
Back at home, Bekka observed, "This will be the first real blowout of a party I can think of at the mansion. That seems kind of weird, the place is almost designed for beg parties."
"What about when you had all the mafia wives down?" I asked.
"Okay, that was a big one.... But this party is gonna be wild, too, and with a younger demographic. Boys and girls, too, not just a bunch of dago broads between thirty and fifty-five. We did get a bit exuberant --- the Ecstasy I'd handed out, plus the alcohol saw to that --- but this will be a serious blowout."
"I've told people to check their attitudes at the door," Jane said. "I've let everybody know there's gonna be all kinds of people there, and any biases they have need to be set aside."
"The fact that we'll be handing out Ecstasy like earplugs at a Ministry concert will help," said Bekka.