I was standing in the back yard with a cigarette and a full cup of beer, enjoying the peaceful wiry feeling of a good Ecstasy high. A girl with frizzy blue dreadlocks drifted up, seeming to consider me from several yards away. I nodded in greeting, which she took as a sign of tacit approval, and came up to me.
"You are so definitely Lenny Schneider," she grinned. "I'd heard people say it was you, but then I heard you unload on Martin. Oh my God. I read Variety, and I'd seen some of the quotes attributed to you and thought, 'No way.' I figured it was stuff some writer at Variety had made up, put words in your mouth. Now I know it was you. Wow. You don't hide your feelings well, do you?"
I thought about this observation and answered, "No. Not really. In my personal life, there's no point in trying, because my wife reads me like s street map. And in general, I've always felt it's better to make your position clear, on any subject, instead of worrying about hurting someone's feewings, you know? I'm not one of those 'Everyone is entitled to my opinion' jackoffs, a loudmouth, but.... Well, shit. The bicycle warrior inside was saying things that were transparently idiotic, and acting like they were God's own wisdom. Wrong. Question everything, especially your own ideas. Fuck dogma, fuck holding the party line, fuck ideology. He was saying stupid things, so I pointed out why they were stupid. He got bugged and was about to unleash a runny spray of rhetoric at me, and I shut him down. Basically, I engaged in the conversational version of a blitzkrieg play in football."
"Is that why you said what you did all those times in Variety?" the girl asked, a mild smirk on her lips.
"Not exactly. All the times my ranting has been quoted in Variety, it's been in response to reporters showing up at the studio and saying, 'So-and-so of Such-And-Such studio has said that Inana Productions releases filth camouflaged as valid entertainment, and writer/producer Lenny Schneider is a criminal thug who has no business in the entertainment industry. Would you like to respond, Mr. Schneider?'
"Yeah, sure I do. I'd tell the reporters exactly what was on my mind when they told me what so-and-so said about me and my studio. I think he's just another industry leech with his name on a door who's all butt-hurt because the viewing public is spending their money on my videos, not movie tickets. So-and-so is organic proof that an entire town can collectively suffer from a psychological form of gonorrhea, along with the normal version, He wants to nitpick and critique my features, fine, that's his prerogative. Me, I wouldn't waste my energy doing that with the lame garbage his studio pukes out at a cost of $120 million a throw. So-and-so thinks I have no place in the entertainment industry? Why the fuck would I think I need his permission? All I gotta do is look at my bank balance and read my mail to know that whatever it is I'm doing, it's entertaining the hell out of people, and they pay me to do it. Yeah, I'll never learn the secret handshake at the big studios. That doesn't bother me a bit, I figure I'd need a shot of penicillin afterwards.
"The entire Hollywood machine is archaic, bloated, wasteful, sleazy, poisonous, venereally contagious, and a sham. Everyone in the big offices of the big studios should all kill themselves. They serve no real purpose or use, and the psychic pain they suffer at their private awareness of just how horrible of human beings they are must be unbearable. So-and-so, kill yourself, but for once, do the right thing and be standing in the bathtub when you do, so it's easier to clean up when you're done."
The dreadlocks girl laughed. "Yeah. Then so-and-so, and all his friends in the industry, would yell about how Lenny Schneider has no right to talk like that about them, he's made powerful enemies in the industry, all that stuff."
"Exactly. They'd say that like I'm supposed to care, or something. Their assumption, for a long time, has been that I'll eventually want to leave Inana and go mainstream, work in Hollywood. Fuck that shit. If I was gonna work in Hollywood, it would be me walking down the street in hot pants and a halter top, offering to blow drunk tourists for twenty dollars. I'd do that before I'd work at a major studio. It's a little hard to bug me by telling me I won't be hired, when I have no intention of applying to begin with."
"Something that always amused me was how Stanley Jaffe always acts like he's getting in a sick burn by reminding people you're from San Diego.... Like it's some horrible place with lots of rendering plants, teenage mothers, drug addicts dying in the streets, and child molestation...."
"You're describing Modesto, actually," I interjected.
"... and so obviously, since you're from a different part of Southern California, you'll never amount to anything. He treats it like it's some kind of major insult, but if it is, it's only in Jaffe's mind. Like saying, 'Oh, she drives a Toyota!' and acting like that proves what kind of person 'she' is. Totally disconnected from common sense."
I had to chuckle. "I suspect Jaffe holds a low opinion of San Diego, just for not being LA. I talk shit about San Diego myself. It's a glorified military tank town. It's socially conservative, it's kind of a cultural wasteland, far too many of its residents are Archie Bunker Republicans, city government is practically a kleptocracy, the cops are bigoted and racist, if there was ever a central plan for growth someone wiped their ass with it.... I could continue, even criticizing the weather."
Confused, the dreadlocks girl said, "I thought San Diego had great weather."
"San Diego doesn't have weather at all!" I shouted. "It's like living in an office building! It's never cold, it's never hot, it never rains except for a few times a year. Oy vey, the few days a year it rains, it's literally the first thing they talk about on the local news. Literally. 'It rained today!' And they have to report the fifty thousand people who were in auto accidents because of it. No, San Diego has non-weather. At least I live at the beach, so it gets foggy and chilly sometimes, as a distraction."
I stood and waited for a response or comment, but the dreadlocks girl was staring with intense curiosity into my face, like she was reading tea leaves. I waited in silence. Finally she said, "You don't like my dreadlocks."
This threw me. "What? Why do you say that?"
"Because you keep looking at them, and when you do, you give a contemptuous eye-roll."
"Uh..... Sorry. If I am doing that, it's a totally subconscious thing.... And now that I think about it, I know why my subconscious might do that."
"Please, explain," the girl said.
"Who else are known for having dreadlocks? The Rastafarians. I hate the Rastafarians."
She reacted as if I'd used the word "niggers" instead of Rastafarians. "Why the hell do you hate the Rastafarians?" she asked, challenge in her voice.
"How much do you know about the Rastafarians?" I asked.
"Um..... They smoke loads of weed and listen to reggae, and they think an Ethiopian political leader was the second coming of Christ. What else about them?"
"Well, they're racist, wife-beating, queer-bashing, xenophobic, violent criminal goons," I explained. "Rastafarians are the black version of the Christian Identity movement. Both have the same world views and bigotries. The only difference between the two, deep down, is the hair and the amount of melanin. Jah can suck my dick."
The dreadlocks girl was now looking at me with surprise. "You're serious, aren't you?
"Oh yeah," I answered. "Fuck their weed and groovy jam music, Rastafarians --- the real ones --- are as useless as any cross-burning illiterate cracker from Alabama. Their joints may be fat, but their minds are narrow."
"Wow." The girl suddenly became lost in thought. "Um, maybe I dodged a bullet a couple years ago. I was at the Sunsplash Festival, and got talking to a Rasta, accent and all. He kept telling me how he wanted me to go back to Jamaica with him, I'd live like a queen, all this other stuff, putting the moves on me, you know?" She snickered. "I was interested, I can't lie. But I went to get a drink, and when I got back, he was being arrested. He had outstanding warrants for --- get this --- dealing cocaine."
"No, that makes sense," I countered. "The Rastas deal whatever drugs they can make the biggest profit from. If you'd gone to Jamaica with him, your life would be hell. Rastas like dating and living with white women, 'cos they don't mind punching and slapping them into subservience.... Or, sometimes to just blow off a little steam. You'd be living in a fucking shack with no running water and a violent asshole as your only company. I mentioned their racism. You'd have been a perfect example. A Rasta has no compunction about treating a white girl like a punching bag, a sex toy, and even a concubine for his friends, because, shit, it's just some pale bitch, mon. You had the Lord on your side that day, toots." I let a few ticks go by and said, "Shit, where are my manners? You want a hit of Smiley Ecstasy, gratis? We've been handing them out tonight."
She giggled. "Your friend Jane gave me one already. Thanks, though." She eyed me with curiosity again. "Actually, I was going to offer something to you."
She stepped right up close to me, grabbed my hand, and shoved it under her t-shirt. She was braless, and it did feel like one heck of a nice boob. I looked at her and said, "But that would leave you with one, like an Amazon."
It took her a second to catch up with this quip, but then she started laughing. I took my hand back. She smiled and said, "Okay, let's try a different tack. I'd like you to come up to my room, so I can show you my etchings."
"Uh huh. Sorry, but I'm married." She had a look like she was formulating a response to that, so I continued, "And if you respond with any variation of, 'But look who you're married to!' I'll be committing an act of misogynist violence."
The girl nodded slowly. Then she asked, "Have you always been faithful to Becky?"
"No, but yes. Jane, the girl with the blue mohawk, is a lover. The thing is, Becky --- Bekka --- was the one who arranged it. Jane has had a crush on me since she was fourteen, and didn't hide it. Jane also has the sex drive of an army of Wilt Chamberlain clones. Bekka felt bad about a couple things. First, she didn't like that she spent her work days in various acts of coitus, while I was down in the office slogging through paperwork. Then, when we'd get home, I'd be up for a bit of fun, and she'd turn me down. She'd just plain be too sore."
I made a hinting tilt to my eyebrows and said, "Think about how porn studs are built. Think about what Bekka had been doing all damn day."
The penny dropped for the girl. Here eyes and mouth formed perfect Os. "Oh..... Ohhh. Oh.... my. Okay." She looked at the ground and said, "The poor girl."
"Anyway, she hated that her job was making her refuse her own husband on occasion. She felt she had the opportunity for intercourse all day, so dammit, I should too. She talked to Jane, then both of them talked to me. I agreed to try it, and it was very nice. Different from what Bekka and I did together, you know? Jane has always been an off and on thing, but we'd always be available for each other. We had to keep it a secret, because Jane was underage, she was sixteen when we started. You'd never have guessed it, though." I sighed. "Really? If I went to your room with you, I'd be cheating on both Bekka and Jane, I'd be hurting two people. I love them both, and I won't do that." I paused, then said, "I have to ask. What the hell is so appealing about an ugly misanthropic smut peddler like me?"
With one of those amused, men-are-idiots looks, she said, "A couple things. First, you're not ugly, and I like punk rock boys. And..... Total honesty? I wanted to find out what Becky Page experienced when she was with the man she has repeatedly professed her love for. I wanted to get laid like Becky Page, when Becky Page wants to get laid. See?" More quietly, she said, "Um, I also figured that any man who was capable of satisfying Becky Page had to be one hell of a stud, you know?"
I laughed at this and replied, "I don't think of myself as a stud. Maybe a cornice, or a cross-bar."
Again she was a second or two behind on the uptake, but she did giggle. "You're definitely a writer, you love to play with words," the girl observed. "I need another beer, let's go in."
I looked around the room as we stood at the kegs. Up to one side, by the front windows, Kristen and Jane seemed to be simultaneously having a perfectly normal conversation and shove their hands down each other's pants. Interesting strategy: since their voices and faces were normal, you wouldn't really notice what they were doing to each other unless you looked closely. Jane saw me watching, nudged Kristen, and they separated to walk over to me.
The girl was positively smirking When Jane stepped up, the girl said, "You're aware you have a very faithful man here, right?"
"Oh, absolutely," Jane replied, utterly lacking in guile.
"He can't say the same of you, it would seem."
The fire ignited in Jane's eyes. Her voice was steady, but had an edge. "Why can't he say that of me? We're not dating, we're lovers, and Lenny is aware of all my lovers. He knows Kristen and I have the hots for each other. So you want to pursue your line of inquiry, girly?"
The girl got a haughty look. "You're a freshman, right?"
"Bingo. And you?"
"I'm a junior." She resumed her smirk. "I swear, freshmen all have a eureka moment with their genitals the moment Mom and Dad drive away from the dorm to head home."
Now Jane was keeping her eyes fixed on the girl, staring her down. Like a Hell's Angel would. She replied, "My eureka moment came at the age of twelve, thanks to my own father. He's probably why I'm the horny psychotic I am. A loose cannon." A few ticks passed, and Jane continued, "You're starting to work my nerves, girly. What business is it of yours, what I do with my pussy, and who with?"
The Hell's Angel stare-down was working. The girl averted her eyes to the floor and said, "Um, sorry, I was being presumptuous. I, uh, I didn't know the whole story."
Jane's eyes lost the fire, and she said in a more gentle voice, "I see you've made friends with Lenny."
Now staring fixedly at the floor, the girl said, "Yeah. Just friends, that's all."
"That seems to bother you. Did you have some designs?"
"Yes, I did. Lenny Schneider is an honorable man. He won't go behind anyone's back. Not yours, not his wife's. I don't think they build many models like him these days."
Jane smiled more warmly. "No, running across a stray Lenny is a rare event." To me, she said, "I take it you had a proposition made to you?"
"I did," I replied. "And pet, you know goddamned well what my response would be."
"So, call Bekka."
"You heard me," Jane said breezily. "She knows you're up here partying.... And she knows you're partying with me.... And what a bad influence I can be. When Kristen and I were alone in her room, we called Bekka back to, uh, see how much play time Kristen and I could have with you. Bekka said to take all the time we wanted, it's fine with her. We wanted it to be a surprise, that's why we threw you out of the room. Now it would seem Tina Trent D'Arby here also wants a test drive. My my, Lenny, you're up to your neck in gash tonight. Personally, you should ride her hard and put her away wet...."
"I don't even know her fucking name!" I stated loudly.
"It's Rinny," the girl said. She seemed to be keeping a rather diplomatic expression on her face, rather unsure how to handle what seemed to be transpiring.
Kristen said, "You live up on the third floor, right? I've seen you, but we've never crossed paths. Hi, I'm Kristen."
Rinny shook hands with Kristen and asked, "So.... You two have.... plans with Lenny later?"
"Lenny and Jane have a room at the Marriott by the Berkeley marina. I expressed an interest in Lenny, uh, and asked Jane if she'd share. She said it was contingent upon Becky's approval. So, we told Lenny to wait outside my room and called her, for the second time. She basically told us to rock his world."
"Did you and Jane already know each other?"
"Nope!" said Jane. "We just met tonight. Within three minutes of me and Lenny arriving, in fact. Lenny had a page from Bekka...." She stressed the name. "... and Lenny needed to find someone willing to let him make a long distance call."
"I was so freaked out," asserted Kristen. "Lenny and Bekka talk for a bit, then Lenny calls me over, he just says his wife wants to talk to me. The next thing I know, I'm on the phone with Becky Page! At first I was thinking it was a prank, but then Becky --- Bekka --- said, 'If you're a fan, you've read my interviews, so you've seen pictures of me with my husband. Does the man in your room look familiar?' Oh my God, she was right. We talked for a bit, and I told her I'd outed myself as a bisexual largely because of her. She asked if I was single, and if so, would I like a female lover? Uh, yeah! She basically set up Jane and me over the phone. When Lenny was talking to Bekka again, I mentioned that I thought Lenny was hot, too. Jane is all, 'Hey, the three of us can have a little private party at our hotel tonight, if you're up for it.' I've never been in a three-way before, but it sounded bitchin' to me. So, Jane got permission from Bekka. She knew Lenny wouldn't go along with it unless Bekka gave her blessing."
Rinny looked a bit nervous. "So.... all I have to do is ask Becky frigging Page for permission to fool around with her husband. Becky Page, the female Prometheus of sex. The woman who carries a gun, drives a hot rod, and is known for taking on four armed gunmen single-handed. That Becky Page."
"Instantly gain her respect by calling her Bekka," suggested Jane. "Want her number?" Jane suddenly looked at me, wild-eyed. "Lenny, here's a hypothetical. You and Rinny have some fun in her room for an hour or so. You come back down, we hang out a bit more, then head for the hotel. Do you think you'll be ready for action at that point? If you have doubts, say so now, because I'm going to claim seniority and tell Rinny she's taking a rain check. I want you too bad, I've been going crazy without my master around to service."
"I'll bet the two of us can be very encouraging," giggled Kristen.
I shrugged. "Yeah, sure. You know I can recover pretty quick, I always have with you and Bekka, when the three of us would be together." I turned to Rinny with an embarrassed smile. "This is getting a little weird. I feel like I'm being passed around like a joint at a Phish concert. Does this bother you?"
She was wide-eyed but smiling. "This is definitely weird.... but I'm cool with it. Like I told you, I want the experience Becky Page --- sorry, Bekka --- has, when she wants some thrills with her husband. I sorta feel like this will be a one-time-only chance at it. Jane, Kristen, we have to exchange information. Considering we're all going to be sharing the same man, I don't want you two being strangers, you know? You either, Lenny."
My brain felt like it was bouncing around in my skull like a racquet ball. I announced, "Look. I'm willing to be the neighborhood slut tonight, that's fine. Rinny, I'm looking forward to feeling the left one, too. I'm going out front for a smoke. Tell Bekka that yes, I'm fine with all this, and no, Jane is not pressuring me. Not much, anyway."
Jane pulled an old ATM receipt out of her purse and wrote down our home number on it then gave it to Rinny. "Here, go call Bekka. If she's asleep, she won't have been asleep long. Call her Bekka, not Becky, and state the situation clearly and concisely, don't hem and haw. You're asking her permission to fuck her husband, not borrow money. Explain who you are, how and where you met Lenny and me, and why you're interested in Lenny. Don't worry, the only wrong answer as to why you're interested is you want to purposely infect him with HIV, or trap him in a paternity suit. And yes, both Lenny and I are aware of your desires."
Rinny trotted for the stairs, a nervous smile on her lips. I headed for the front door, to go smoke outside. Kristen and Jane began molesting each other again.
Stepping outside, I was vaguely amused to see two cop cars parked in the red zone in front of the co-op. One Berkeley PD, one UCPD, the campus cops. Three officers were out of their vehicles, standing and chatting. They didn't seem to have any real purpose for being there, just cooling their heels. I installed my Tom Bodett face, one of nonchalance and honesty, lit a Marlboro, and sort of drifted up onto the sidewalk, easing over to where they stood. When I was ten feet away, one of them noticed me and gave a nod, acknowledging my presence. "Evening, officers," I said.
"Good evening, sir," said the BPD officer. "What brings you by tonight?"
"The party, the live music," I replied. Holding up the cigarette, I continued, "No smoking indoors. Just out for another small dose of cancer."
"Did you have a question for us?" asked one of the UC cops. He had a bit more suspicion in his voice.
"Me? No. I sort of pace when I smoke, no real direction. I just happened to come this way. Was there a problem here? I wasn't expecting to see the police outside."
With a hood-lidded look, the other UC cop said, "The parties here can get out of hand. We wanted to keep an eye on things, make sure thee's no problems."
"Heck, none at all," I assured him. "You can see and hear that it's pretty mellow. The music is over with, it's just a load of students hanging around and being social."
"Are you a student?
"Oh, heck no. I run a video production company down near San Diego. But a girl I kinda raised through her teenage years is a student at UCB. Heck, she's a Haas student. I couldn't be prouder of the girl."
"What's her name?" asked the first UC cop. "What year of school is she in?"
I smiled and said, "Jane Osborne. O-S-B-O-R-N-E. She's a freshman. Lives in that private residence hall over on Dwight, near Ellsworth."
The UC cop absorbed this, then got into the UCPD car and got on the radio. The door was closed and the window was up, so I couldn't hear what he was saying. I drifted a little closer to the other two cops, being friendly. "So, any trouble tonight? People behaving?"
"Nothing unusual," the Berkeley cop said.
I snapped my fingers. "I'm kinda surprised to see you here, hanging out. Isn't this Rush
Week for all the fraternity houses? You'd think there'd be a whole lotta dumb things happening at that end of town."
The UC cop was actually trying to suppress a smile, and the BPD cop openly laughed. He said, "Yeah, there's been a few dumb things happening tonight."
"Well heck, spill the beans!" I said brightly.
The UC cop gave in to the urge to chuckle. "Sir, let's just say there have been a few examples of inexperienced drinkers making poor choices. I'll never understand why, after eleven beers, nineteen year old males have an urge to disrobe in public. We've had three of those incidents so far tonight."
I laughed. "Did they at least remember where they'd left their clothes?"
"Two of them did. The other could not, or would not, remember. He also was confrontational and combative. He'll be a guest of the city tonight. The other two saw the errors in their decisions, got dressed, and allowed themselves to be driven to their residences. They promise to stay inside, we promise to leave things as they are, no detention, no mention of the incident to the school."
"An admirable strategy, sir," I said. "No sense making a federal case out of it, when some kid turned into an idiot for a while."
The cop sitting in the patrol vehicle opened the door and addressed me. "Do you know the name of Ms. Osborne's roommate, sir?"
"I do. Kaitlyn Dalton-Hires. The 'Dalton' and 'Hires' are hyphenated. Uh, why?"
The cop pretended he hadn't heard, immediately closing the door. I was now very curious.
The Berkeley cop, a far more easygoing feller, chuckled and nudged me on the arm. "Are you familiar with Berkeley's Fraternity Row area?'
"Not intimately, no, but I've been through it," I answered.
Still chuckling, he said, "Every damn year, it seems like some sort of mass psychosis, or mass hallucination, hits the entire area. Last year, all the girls at the sorority houses were convinced they were being stalked by bikers, Hell's Angels or whatever. They'd call to report their house was being watched by Hell's Angels, they kept riding back and forth in front of the house. We'd go out, no sign of anybody. The closest we got was some kid on a Honda 500, a member of the Jewish fraternity, who was going up and down Channing, looking for a place to park. This year,it's either crack addicts or Satanists targeting fraternity members, jumping them, and yanking their teeth out with pliers! And it's not happening in Berkeley, but in San Francisco or Oakland. Some of the frat brothers will be out late, and get jumped. Somebody will tell us about an incident like this happening, but they can't remember which fraternity, or the names of the victims, or even what city the attack happened in."
"Amazing," I commented. "You'd think other students would notice classmates that were suddenly unable to eat corn on the cob."
"Well, all the frat brothers are staying close to home, no more partying over in the big city. Being anywhere inside the Oakland city limits after dark is viewed as suicidal. And next year, they'll find some other invisible attackers to panic about."
The door to the UC cop car opened, and the officer got out. He walked up to me. "You said you're Jane Osborne's legal guardian?"
"Not legally, no. Jane was emancipated when she was sixteen, in the state of Florida. She lived with my wife and I while she finished high school. We were the ones who looked after her, though, took care of her. Why, what's up?"
Looking down at his notes, the cop said, "It would seem that on two occasions so far this year, Ms. Dalton-Hires has attempted to file restraining orders on Ms. Osborne. There are two problems with this. First, Ms. Dalton-Hires refuses to vacate the room her and Ms. Osborne shares. The other one is.... To be frank, the complaints Ms. Dalton-Hires makes against Ms. Osborne are nothing more than bitchiness. You can't file a TRO on someone because you think they are, if I may quote: 'Totally gross and sick,' 'A total pervert,' 'Is a weirdo and all her friends are weirdos,' and 'Is disgusting white trash.' Ms. Dalton-Hires requests the paperwork to file the TRO and, in the space for describing the reason for the filing, writes in comments like that." The cop started giggling, and couldn't stop. "None of those things are recognized as civil or criminal offenses, but I'm sure you knew that. So, does Ms. Osborne match any of those descriptions?"
I started giggling too. "No, not really. Admittedly, Jane is easy to spot. There's not a lot of other freshmen on campus with blue mohawks and leather bustiers. Jane has her own sense of style. Kaitlyn was raised in a gated community in Irvine, down in Orange County. She attended private prep schools, her family had a maid and a cook.... Kaitlyn is very sheltered, let's put it that way. Jane was thrown out by her parents when she was sixteen, and rode Greyhound from Gainesgville, Florida out to San Diego. We were the only people she knew in California, so she looked us up. We're glad she did, she had pretty much resigned herself to being a teenage prostitute in Hollywood on the bus ride out here. Jane has seen a lot in life, and that has matured because of it. Kaitlyn was essentially raised in a bubble, everything was done for her. She had never used a washer and dryer, or even a microwave!"
I laughed a little harder. "Maybe Jane should file a TRO on Kaitlyn. Jane's reasons will be 'elitist,' 'spoiled,' ' anal retentive,' 'a complete upper-class snob,' and 'entitled.'"
The other UC cop said with s amile, "Given the attitudes of some of these kids, maybe 'entitled' should be a legal construct. Hey, let's roll Piedmont, Warring, and Channing, see if anyone is prone on the sidewalks. It's all quiet here." They all shook my hand, got in their respective vehicles, and took off.
When I went back inside, there was a game of Four Square going on in the main lounge, with an enthusiastic audience. I found Jane, Kristen, and Rinny all standing together. Sidling up next to Jane, I said, "I have some news for you, regarding your roomie. It would seem that twice now, Kaitlyn has gone to the UCPD station and tried to file restraining orders on you. The problem is, you haven't done anything wrong. She fills out the request, and where they ask shy she wants a TRO on you, she writes in her usual complaints about you, that you're gross and a pervert and white trash and a weirdo and blah blah blah. Also, it's hard to enforce a restraining order when you share a room with the other person. Is Kaitlyn really that dumb?"
Jane sighed and rolled her eyes. "No, but she is that childish and petulant. Who knows? Maybe she gets a bit of catharsis out by filing the damn things."
"I hope she never goes into politics. It's the sort of thing an opponent could dig up and say, 'Look at these! The bitch was nuttier than a cheese log when she was in college.'"
Rinny noticed I was there and drifted up next to me, and right against me. She was smiling widely and her eyes were too big. "I spoke with your lovely wife. I'm allowed to show you my etchings, un-escorted." She gave up on all subtlety and slid her hand up and down my crotch, saying "Mine! Mine mine mine mine mine mine mine!"
Jane put a hand on Rinny's shoulder and squeezed, rather hard. "Yours, temporarily. For an hour or so. Remember that, girly. You can't get too hung up on him. He lives in San Diego, and he belongs to another. If you think you're gonna develop a hang-up, you'd better say so now and back out."
"I'm cool, don't worry," Rinny smiled. To me, she said, "Shall we?"
"Lead on, girl." She grabbed my hand and we walked towards a different set of stairs than I'd used before.
As we went up the stairs, I asked, "Just how big is this damn place? How many people live here?"
"92 residents. I know, the interior design is crazy. It's like a combination of the Winchester Mystery House and a Tardis."
"Apt description." I let a few ticks pass. "So, are you always this randy, or is it the Ecstasy, or has it just been a while since you've had a piece?"
Rinny thought, then answered, "Partly the drugs. Mostly because I haven't been with a guy since last spring. I had a steady boyfriend, totally monogamous. He was a Junior. He decided he wanted to do the whole stereotypical Spring Break routine, even though it's the sort of thing we both used to make fun of. He went to Cabo San Lucas. Before he left, I told him that I'd prefer he didn't fool around, but if he did, it was okay. Just be honest about it, and play safe, you know?
"He comes home on Monday. He tells me what it was like, and I asked him if he'd gotten laid. 'Oh, no honey, all those girls were total sorority bitches, no way would I have scored there.' Friday I have stabbing pains in my abdomen and my box is oozing. Off to the clinic, to learn I'd picked up a particularly nasty version of gonorrhea, it took a series of antibiotic shots plus oral antibiotics to get rid of. Naturally I'm just a little peeved with my boyfriend, but now I know why he'd been blowing me off all week. It's weird, can you be a carrier of VD and not have symptoms?"
"No. But venereal diseases have incubation periods before you're symptomatic, like three or four days. In those three or four days, you can pass it on quite easily, and not know you're doing it. So your boyfriend could have contracted it Friday or Saturday and unknowingly passed it on to you."
"Okay. So, I confronted him, and asked why he'd lied to me. I'd told him, 'If you do get together with someone, fine, just be honest about it. I'll be a little bugged at first, but I'll get over it in a half hour. I'd rather you be honest. And remember, stay safe.' So he wasn't honest, and he couldn't be bothered to pull a fucking jimmy hat on.... And then had the guts to try and get defensive! 'See, I knew you'd be upset if I told you.' Yeah buddy, but you also geve me VD, so you didn't keep your promise to be safe, either. So that was that. I felt betrayed enough and hurt enough to have no interest in dating for the rest of the school year. Over the summer, I was back at my parents' house in Lake Forest, where.... Do you know Lake Forest?"
"No. It's in Orange County, that's what I know."
Rinny sighed. "Um, look, deep down I'm a spoiled little rich bitch. My parents have money, I got a new car for my sixteenth birthday, school is paid for, the whole nine yards. My parents are pretty progressive-minded, but.... Oh my God. We had neighbors telling my parents they should have me put in a psychiatric facility. Obviously, anyone who looked like I did must be nuts. All through high school, I had one boyfriend. Nobody wanted to date the weird girl. I knew I was leaving Lake Forest for college right after high school, and I also knew it's a big wide world, where people wouldn't think I was a freak just because of my boots and dreadlocks. But anyway, I didn't date anyone over the summer, either. So.... I'm sorry, I've just used 980 words to tell you I haven't been laid since spring. I'll shut up now. We're at my door anyway."
She let us in. The odor of the room indicated she liked her weed. The decor suggested she was a rave girl, a dance floor brat, with a bit of interest in reggae. I congratulated her on the lava lamps and kinetic sparkle-light projector, throwing a moving pattern of colored lights against a black-painted wall. We stood there looking at each other, she finally said, "So...."
"Penny for your thoughts," I said.
Rinny sighed and muttered, "I think I know how a guy feels the first time he hires a prostitute. Okay, I think you're hot, and I actually do know a bit about you, but I'm still not sure how to proceed. Were you nervous when you hired your first hooker?"
This question had me boggled. I chuckled and said told her, "I've paid for sex one time in my life, and even that didn't work out." Briefly I encapsulated my tale of being high on mushrooms in Tijuana at a strip club, paying a twenty for head, then bursting into hysterical laughter in the middle, insulting the girl into leaving. "No, I've never hired hookers. During my dry spells, well, shit. That's why I have my left hand. I can do that for free, safely. No, for a lot of reasons, hiring prostitutes never had appeal at any point. In fact, I'd say the majority of men in the world will also never use hookers, at most maybe once or twice. Why are you assuming we do?"
"'Cos of my dad, and my uncles, and my friends' dads from high school," Rinny replied. "It just seemed like something guys do, or did when they were younger. Um, my dad liked to do sex stuff my mom wouldn't do. So every now and then, my dad would spend the night in Anaheim or LA, so he could hire a hooker who would do that stuff with him. My parents acted like it was no big deal. My uncles were single, so they'd travel to Thailand a couple times a year so they could party, you know?"
I absorbed this information. "Huh. Um.... Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but I suspect your uncles have a bit of a deeper bend to them than they let on, if they're traveling all the way to Bangkok. They might like their ladies young. Really, really young. Follow me?"
After a couple seconds, the Clue Bus pulled into Rinny's station. She said, "Oh. Oh.... Eww." Then she sighed and said, "Okay, this line of conversation isn't helping." She gave me a pleading look. "So.... how do we do this?"
With my warmest smile, I stepped up to her and put my hands on her shoulders. "Why don't we start simple? May I kiss you?"
"Yes," Rinny said, relief in her voice. "That's a good idea."
So I kissed her. And we went from there.