Jane was at home in Encinitas by seven p.m. Friday, much to our joy. The flight from Oakland to San Diego was easy, as was the cab ride up to Encinitas.... Almost. "White cab drivers are starting to piss me off," she grumbled into her bottle of Anchor Steam.
"Please, unpack that statement," said Bekka.
"Ugh! I call for a cab in Berkeley, or flag one down in the City, and if the driver is a Middle Eastern dude, I get in, give him the destination, and away we go. If the driver is white, he'll be all, 'You have the fare, right?' Duh, if I didn't have the fare, I wouldn't be getting in the cab, stupid. I've had some of them demand to hand over cash before they'll move! The fucking white cab drivers assume that a punk rocker is gonna ditch them on the fare. The Arabs and Afghanis and Egyptians don't give the mohawk a second thought.
"When I landed, I walked to the taxi line and got in the first cab. The fucking Archie Bunker at the wheel looks at me and asks where to, I tell him, '816 Neptune Street in Encinitas.' He says, 'That's a pricey ride.' Yeah, I know, I've done it before, it's gonna be over fifty bucks, and I tell him so. The asshole asks to see some money, so I held up some twenties. Then he says, "I'll hold that until we're at your address,' and reaches back and tries to grab the money out of my hand!
"I told him, 'Fuck you, now you know I have cash, so let's roll.' He says he won't go anywhere unless I give him $100 to hold until we're in Encinitas, I told him to go fuck himself with a brick, I'll get in the cab behind us. I grabbed my bag and started getting out, and he starts spazzing on me. 'You take the first cab in line, and that's me!' No, I'll take the first cab whose driver doesn't treat me like a thief, fuck you Lumpy. I got in the next cab, and the Sikh at the wheel didn't give me a second glance. I told him where I wanted to go, and the only thing he asked me is if I minded giving him directions once we were off the freeway in Encinitas. I tipped him twenty."
We headed out the door, headed to meet Feather and her little sister Glee at Evelyn's for dinner. Bekka had actually thought ahead and made reservations for eight o'clock, a wise choice, since there was no doubt Feather and Glee would be carded. Feather would be getting carded when she was in her thirties.
It was easy to spot the two of them when we pulled into the lot at Evelyn's. Both were posing outside the front door waiting for us, smoking cigarettes. Feather's platinum blonde hair was about two and a half inches long, short enough to spike, but long enough to lay down. She had a total of ten earrings, plus a (studio-approved) gold hoop in one nostril. Her little sister's hair was fire engine red, and much shorter and choppier than the last time I'd seen it. She had also gained rings in her ears, one nostril, and one lip.
Feather was nineteen, Glee was fifteen. Together with sixteen year old Fang up in LA, the three had started a band: Feather - guitar, Fang - bass, Glee - vocals, and a Roland TR-606 drum machine. They had practice space in a sea container sitting in the lot of a tow service in Santa Monica. Feather and Glee would drive up on Friday afternoons and the three of them would spend the weekend partying and making a hell of a lot of noise. Their main influence was Big Black, but their songs were faster. Also, young Glee had a talent for both disturbing lyrics and a wide vocal "range." She shrieked, she growled, she graveled the lyrics like a chainsaw through granite. Add to this Glee's penchant for jumping around as though trying to pantomime the lyrics, she was quite the kinetic front for the band.
The first thing Feather and Glee did after hugs was hand Bekka, Jane, and myself cassette tapes. The J card was black with red lettering and simply said, "GASH - 6 Song Demo." The inside listed the tracks and credits, plus a P.O. box in Santa Monica for contacting the band. Feather said, "This is the result of what we did with Corolla a couple weeks ago. It was kind of interesting trying to find an agreement on what sounded best. Corolla figured we'd use her home studio, but we were concerned we'd lose a lot of the power we get playing in our metal box. What we did was lay the drum, bass, and guitar tracks at Corolla's, then we went to the practice space and Corolla recorded Glee inside, with her listening to the tracks on a headphone. We're pretty happy."
As anticipated, our arrival was greeted with concern by the other patrons. Here comes four punk rockers, three female, and..... Oh my goodness, that's Becky Page. Strolling in like they own the place. There was more consternation when Bekka and I were recognized by the hostess --- eat anywhere on a regular basis for five years, they'll remember you --- and we were all shown to our table.
Once we had our drinks, Feather said to Jane, "So, you and I are going to be lezzing out tomorrow afternoon,"
"We'll be pretending to, anyway, a three-way with Roach," Jane grinned back. "Sue and I are having a straight girl-girl scene in the morning. What are your feelings on the subject?"
"It's a little complicated," Feather said with a frown. "I, uh, enjoy the physical aspect of being with another girl, no matter who's doing what. At the same time, I can't imagine feeling any sort of romantic attachment to another girl, so I"m kind of loath to call myself bisexual. I'd never even pursue even a physical relationship with another girl, just for fun.
"Another problem is that.... I'm doing the scene with you. We were pretty tight friends in my senior year of high school, and I'm afraid us being together, even on a sound stage, is gonna have a rather incestuous vibe to it."
After a bit of consideration, Jane replied, "Okay, let me get something out of the way. I always thought you were hot when we were in school. I never let on, because I wasn't even getting the tiniest blip on my gay-dar from you. It didn't seem worth bringing up, I"d have just made you uncomfortable. That said, don't worry. I'm still a novice, and this will be my first girl-girl scene on camera, but I'll be professional. We're just two performers doing a scene. I could be anyone, okay?"
"Oh, hey, you don't need to freeze up on me. Like I said, I like the physical aspects of being with another girl, I'm not gonna be faking anything, okay? You don't need to either. No air-rubbing, no fake tongue work, let's make this real. I just need to remind myself this isn't my old friend Jane from high school this is.... What was the screen name you chose?"
"Debbie LaLaurie," said Jane with a gleam in her eye.
"How did you choose the name?" asked Feather. "Is there a story behind it?"
"Oh yes. Delphine LaLaurie is generally viewed as the first female serial killer in the United States. She was a rich woman from New Orleans in the early 1800s. Her mansion caught fire, and those responding found her attic had seven slaves she had been torturing. When slaves died from their torture, she buried them in the backyard. She managed to escape her outraged neighbors and split for Paris." Catching Feather's wide-eyed look, she continued, "It was either that or Annie Fugate."
"Dare we ask?" piped up Glee.
Jane elaborated, "Caril Anne Fugate was Charles Starkweather's thirteen year old girlfriend. Her parents were the first victims of their spree. You know who Charles Starkweather was, right?"
"I do," answered Feather, shaking her head with a bitter chuckle.
"Who is he?" asked, Glee.
"I'll tell you later, sissy. You'll ruin your appetite if I tell you now."
Both scenes went very well, Jane again amazing those present with her aggression and energy. Calm Steve, who was the director for the "Duane and Dolly" series, commented to me later, "If we put Jane and Melissa in a three-way, they'd probably kill the poor bastard they were working with. It's one thing to show enthusiasm, but those two can be maniacal."
Melissa, a.k.a. "Melissa Delogo," was hanging around waiting for the end of the day's shoot. Her, Sue, and Gabrielle were going to get dinner and hit a bar that evening. commiserating on the current lack of romance in their lives. They had the same problem all girls in porn do: when meeting guys and revealing their careers, guys would either be put off completely, or far too enthusiastic. The first group would assume they were self-destructive drug addicts, the second assumed that life with them would be one long porn trope. They were being superstitious and going to a Del Mar bar called the Paddock to drink. This was where Jolene ("Missy Liscio") had met her beau eighteen months ago: he was successful, understanding of Jolene's career, and a gentleman. Maybe they could find three more just like him.
Feather was headed out to pick up Glee and drive up to LA for band practice. Bekka offered, "The three of us could be your wing men, if you'd like. It worked out okay for Jolene."
That worked for the three of them. We all had dinner at a Cantonese place in Cardiff, then headed for the Paddock. I'd agreed to lay off the booze, so we could all car pool in the Fleetwood. If need be, I could deposit people at home at the end of the night and leave their cars in Oceanside.
Over dinner, the girls quizzed Jane on how school was going. She was having a relatively easy time with her classes. She wasn't skating, like in high school, but she was on top of things, getting As on quizzes. Regarding her classes at Haas School of Business, Jane announced, "The more I learn about the stock market, the less happy I am that it's the barometer for America's financial health. The stock markets --- all of them --- are in the hands of panicky dimwits. The markets inflate to stupid sizes, and when the correction finally comes, it's the end of the fucking world. No, it's a correction. Anyone here know about the Holland tulip mania?"
Everyone confessed their ignorance. Jane continued, "Starting in the early 1600s, the tulip bulb market began to grow in Europe, and damn fast. Tulips were considered a luxury item in Europe --- they're indigenous to Turkey --- and the Dutch were the first to harvest them domestically, and also create fancy new hybrids. The reproductive cycle for tulips is kind of slow, so a futures market sprang up, with investors buying the rights to tulip bulbs that didn't exist yet. By the time of the crash, single bulbs --- or the shares representing them --- would be worth hundreds of florins each. For perspective, a skilled laborer might earn 150 florins a year.
"Finally, in 1637, it seemed to collectively dawn on everyone, 'Holy shit, these are just flowers, they're not actually worth anything. They grow and look pretty, and that's it. So everybody began bailing out of the market at once, causing prices to plummet. All these people who had been worth a fortune on paper were back where they started from.... or worse, if they'd gone into debt based on their paper worth.
"These days, tulip mania isn't considered a true economic bubble. It only dealt with a single commodity, and those investing weren't a large enough cross-section of society to have a heavy national impact. But it's a great example of how a market can be inflated far beyond its real worth, and how people can get their asses handed to them by investing. Except for one company, I will never own stock in any business at all."
"Who is that?" asked Gabrielle.
"Intel," Jane replied. "Intel trades on NASDAQ, they make computer processors, hardware. They're already a solid company. My hunch is they're going to explode between now and the millennium. Home computers are going to stop being the domain of dorks, and become as common at TVs in homes. The World Wide Web will drive demand. Intel are pioneers of processors that keep getting smaller, faster, and more efficient. They're already a market leader. It's the market itself that's going to explode."
I noted, "Jane bought $25.000 worth on Intel stock in August. The worth keeps rising, slowly but surely."
"And I don't check the worth daily. I have to keep my eye on the market in general just because of my classes, but for me, this is a long haul investment. I don't give a shit about dips. I am very confident that in eight years, Intel stock is going to be worth a hell of a lot more than it is now. The ride may be a bit bumpy, but big deal."
I got one of the last spaces in the parking log of the Paddock. Jane and I were our usual punk rock eyesores, Bekka and Sue had their goth-hooker look rocking, and the other girls were sleek and fashionable, sexy but not sleazy. Once inside, we slid two tables together and ordered. I sat at one end while the single-and-searching girls debated strategy. The plan: hang around at the bar, fairly close to one another, but not engaging in conversation. They would look bored, and available. They'd see what happened after that.
Evidently interaction with a member of the opposite sex was a team effort, as the booths and tables seemed segregated by gender. There was room at the bar for the three girls to lounge and give the impression of disinterest in the other two. Ah, here come two would-be suitors, leaving two friends at a table. They both approached Melissa (who wasn't in her Baptist Librarian dress, like usual) and inaudibly introduced themselves. There was brief chat, Melissa finally gesturing at Gabrielle and Sue. Both of them looked a bit concerned. Sue had the usual vague menace all decked-out goths have, and Gabrielle was in possession of large amounts of melanin. In a place like Del Mar, there's enough uber-rich closet racists around to gimp things some. Gabrielle didn't sound, talk, act, smile, gesture, inflect, or dress "black." She looked and sounded like the Valley Girl she was. (I once asked her to name her favorite jazz musician. After thinking, she said, "Chuck Mangione." Oh boy.)
I already had dismissed the chances of these first suitors, as they looked like recently-graduated frat bros. They were dressed better, but they still had that vibe about them. There was a couple minutes talk, then the bros wandered back towards their table, looking cowed. However, not more than thirty seconds passed before three yuppies swaggered up. Pillars of business, with hair like plastic and suspenders holding their business casual slacks up. Their initial ruse was to act as though they all needed fresh drinks.... A blatant lie, the Paddock had fantastic table service. All three paired off and began talking to the girls. And talking, and talking, and talking. Actual conversation was inaudible, but their mouths kept running nearly nonstop. All three girls were getting that "This can't be happening" look, so I decided to monkey-wrench the routine.
Gabrielle saw me approaching and loudly declared, "Oh, hey Lenny!" The other two chimed in. The yuppies turned to see who was being addressed, and didn't look pleased. One of them recognized me, he nudged his buddy and whispered something, which was passed on. Melissa craned up to kiss my cheek and said, "Hey, this is John, Jacques, and Josh. They're real estate brokers."
I restrained myself and didn't crush any hands while shaking with them. One of them (Josh?) said, "You're Lenny Schneider, you run Inana Films. Quite a feat for your age."
Shrugging, I replied, "Actually, at this point the business ops are in someone else's hands. The owner said he wanted me to do nothing except be creative, so I'm not crunching the numbers any longer. Now I crunch words and sentences and plots, plus acting as producer."
"What brings you around here?" asked Jacques.
"Pure altruism. I'm with five young ladies who wanted to have a few drinks. My Cadillac seats six, so I'm the chauffeur. I'm sticky with watery American beer, and that's it. So I've seen you've met three of my girls...."
Josh answered, "We recognized Susan Black, but we're not familiar with Melissa Delogo or Gigi.... no last name."
"She is Gigi," I grinned. There's only one of her, so that's all that is needed. So, real estate broker-age-ing. Is it fun?"
"It has its elements of entertainment," said John with a patronizing tone. "Almost no naked women at our jobs."
With a diplomatic grin, I stated, "To be honest, I have no idea what the difference is between a real estate agent and a broker. Is there a difference? Enlighten me."
Jacques seemed to catch my diplomacy and answered with good will, "There is a difference. Brokers have continued their education past where agents stop. They understand more about real estate law and the ethics of the business. A broker has to pass a license exam more in-depth than an agent's exam. Brokers can engage in business independently, while agents have to be under the supervision of brokers."
Here's a freebie," added Josh. "'Realtor' is a formal title. Realtors are members of the National Association of Realtors. They've agreed to abide by the organization's standards and code of ethics."
Sue said, "Isn't there a basic set of standards and ethics to be an agent straight out the gate? One would like to assume that their agent isn't a thief or a racist, basic shit like that."
"One would hope," answered John. "The NAR holds its members to the standards and ethics. Think of it like the ASE certification mechanics may have. A mechanic without the certification may be just as good, but you're guaranteed the ASE mechanic is competent."
"Does commercial real estate have a higher number of independent brokers working in the field?" I asked. "When Inana was buying the---"
"HEY!" came a voice to my back. "You bastard, you asshole! Imma kick your ass!"
Pivoting to see the source of this outburst, I recognized two men standing about eight feet away. We'd met once before at the Paddock. The larger specimen was Richard Roswell, an heir to a fortune in aluminum. The smaller one was his lawyer. The last time we'd met, Roswell had propositioned Bekka, offering her a relative fortune to spend the night with him. I didn't appreciate my wife being called a prostitute, and physically demonstrated my displeasure. The upshot was Mr. Roswell announced his intention to use his super-mega-mondo-judo powers to kick my ass in the parking lot. Instead, I remained unscathed. He was the one headed for an ER, as I'd snapped his elbow over one leg and given him a concusssion. He was drunk then. He was drunk now. And the bar was a lot fuller.
I gave a tiny smile and said, "Hello, Mr. Roswell. Hello, shyster. How are you this evening?"
"Doin' great now," Roswell stated. "Now I got some plans for the night, I"m gonna crush some faggot-ass punk rock porn maker with a slut wife into dust. I'll give you five seconds to run like the pussy you are."
Over my laughter, I responded, "We went through this exact tame shit the last time we met. I'll give you the same advice as before, which is to return to your seat, sir. What has changed since a year and a half ago?"
"He's been mastering a whole new martial art," the shyster threw in. "He's heavy into aikido now."
"That's nice. So, uh, now does he intend to drop me? Aikido is a piss-poor offensive art."
Roswell boasted, "The first swing you take at me will be your last. I'll drop you, and I'll make sure you stay dropped."
Jacques didn't like this distraction. He said, "See here, who are you? Why are your threatening this man?"
"I'm Richard Roswell," came the drunken pompous reply. "This asshole here got the drop on me a while back, and he plays dirty. Fuckin' scumbag. He threw his hands at me...."
"After you offered to pay my wife for sex," I inserted. "Never call another man's wife a prostitute, even obliquely. You deserved that slap."
"Your wife is a fuckin' whore," Roswell shot back, so I punched him in the face, a decent blow.
Roswell's head snapped back and he nearly lost his balance. He sputtered and crowed, "Bastard!"
I rolled my eyes and said, "Are we going in the parking lot again?"
"I'm gonna kill you, you fuckin' faggot!" he yelled.
"I'll take that as a yes. Come on, stupid." I began walking towards the front door, trailing the three girls and the brokers. In fact, quite a few people began heading that direction, including Roswell and his shyster. We'd have an audience this time.
I paused outside to light a cigarette and then drifted into the empty area of the lot. Then I stood there, waiting on Roswell. He walked over to a brand new Mercedes and theatrically doffed his jacket, then approached me, his feet wide as he walked. I stood and smoked. "I'll give you one chance to run like a pussy," he told me.
I twitched my shoulders and said, "Heard it before. Do your worst, homeboy."
Roswell approached me, his hands already in position to attempt a judo grab. I watched his approach. When he was four feet away, I flicked my cigarette in his face. He waved his hands to deflect it, and I used the distraction to punch him in the eye, hard. He squawked and backed away, squeezing his hit eye shut. "In aikido, you need an offensive maneuver to react to. I just gave you one. What was wrong with it?"
Roswell bellowed and charged me, his rage overcoming his training. I bobbed my head out from the path of a fist, then put my own left fist into his gut. He wheezed and started to double. I stepped forward to work on his head, but he realized what was happening and threw himself backwards. I stayed where I was. He gurgled at me, "I bet you don't have the fuckin' balls to just swing straight at me. Go 'head, try and punch me in the face again."
"Okay. Step on up." I said it as calmly as if he'd offered a stick of gum.
He stomped up until he was three feet from me. He said, "Come on, you fa---" and I punched him in the face again. Just one shot, this time to his other eye. I heard someone in the crowd comment, "Damn, that is one fast right he's got."
Holding his freshly injured eye, Roswell stood about eight feet away, growling and panting.. He looked like he was trying to come up with a strategy. I stood with my hands in my pockets, waiting patiently. A voice from the crowd said loudly, "Buddy, just give it up." Other voices agreed.
An idea had been hatched. Roswell suddenly plunged a hand in a pocket, emerging holding a ring of keys. He got one, I believe the Mercedes key, into his fist, holding the metal between his knuckles. An old and somewhat effective strategy when caught unarmed. He charged me again, raising the key-spiked fist to swing. When he was close and swinging, I got my left foot behind me and leaned way back, out of harm's way. I pistoned my right foot into Roswell's knee. He began falling as I straightened, and I drove my left fist into his right ear. Once he was on the ground, I shuffled about six feet away, calmly watching and waiting.
Another anonymous voice called to Roswell, "Bub, you're not getting any better. Drop it." Another said, "He's just gonna keep doing that to you. He knows how to fight, you don't."
For my own position, I stated, "Richard --- Dick --- this is getting old. Go back inside and sit at your table again. I'll ignore you, and you ignore me. But I'm really starting to get annoyed."
Roswell slowly got to his feet. After he did, he looked at me with hate and started to say, "You goddamn ---"
"Don't start, Richard," I stated loudly. "I've held my temper, don't piss me off."
"... goddamn faggot porn queer pimp, you're fucking wife's a whore, I'm gonna finish you goddamn piece of shit...."
Now he was doing an unsteady Frankenstein walk towards me. I figured I'd rung his bell when I punched him in the ear. He had both fists balled, one still containing the long key. That was the second iteration I'd heard of "your wife is a whore" from his mouth, so I was a bit steamed. Also, I remembered an old adage about animals being twice as dangerous when they're injured.
This time Roswell shot out his left hand to try and grab my jacket, followed immediately by his right fist looking to perforate my head with the clenched key. I knocked his left just out of line and dodged my head back, just far enough. I could feel the wind as his fist went past. His momentum and lack of equilibrium made his whole body pivot slightly away from me. I took that gap and drilled him in the nose. It began pouring blood immediately, Roswell howling in pain. He grabbed his face with both hands, backing slightly. His feet were still wide apart, so I went for the shortcut and kicked him in the balls like his crotch was sitting in a stand on the thirty yard line. He sharply drew in air, then doubled over.... but he was still standing. I kicked him in the face, then pushed him over with my other foot. Roswell laid there holding various painful parts of his body, making a strange croaking noise. I stood above him and said clearly, "I told you to not piss me off. I told you to let it drop. Now look. Mr. Roswell, you're kind of a fuckin' idiot." I saw the shyster standing like a mannequin, staring at his fallen buddy, and called, "Hey, Mr. Lawyer. Get his nibs into his car, and drive him home. He needs a rest."
Several guys were coming over to tell me that, wow, you just kept dropping him, it was obvious he was way more worked up but you came out on top, how did you do that? I answered, "It's actually real simple. Okay, Roswell was feeling far more aggro and keyed up. That meant he wasn't looking at his situation objectively. I remained calm, and I was able to see exactly how he would be approaching me, every time." I smirked and continued, "It also helps that my confidence comes from having been dropped on more than a few occasions, taking an ass-kicking. Roswell puts incredible faith in martial arts disciplines, specifically judo and aikido. Judo is very formalized in competition, it has nothing to do with a real street fight. Aikido is a nice idea, but it's also limited. The idea behind aikido is you use an aggressor's energy against him. In practice, aidido only teaches you how to defend yourself from very specific types of attack.
"Roswell seemed to have a mental blind spot. He deluded himself into thinking that I would make an offensive move identical to the ones he'd trained to counteract in aikido. Well.... Aidido doesn't have a response to a fast right to the face. I doubt they cover someone swinging a broken beer bottle, a baseball bat, or a kick to the yarbles. You heard the dude tell me to try and punch him in the face.... so I did, and I did it the same way I"d already punched him twice tonight. Personally? Anyone who thinks they're bad-ass because they're a black belt in whatever hasn't come across a veteran Hell's Angel, or a bartender where Hell's Angels drink. It's the dudes with scar tissue all over their knuckles who are gonna come out ahead against a black belt. Fighting, street fighting, is mean and ugly and vicious, there are no rules. You drop whoever's opposing you, period. And you're not gonna shake his fucking hand afterwards."
"So how did you learn to fight?" asked one guy.
I chuckled and raised my eyes skyward. "By being a complete asshole. That's the most honest and accurate answer I can give you. When you're living in a way where breakfast is three beers and a line of speed, you're selling dope for a living, and you really dig the adrenaline rush you get from a bar fight, you're not living healthy. You're an asshole. I'm still kind of an asshole, just a little bit, but I'm way more mellow than I used to be, five years ago."
The same guy said, "No, what I mean is, um, how would I learn now to, uh....."
Bekka's tinkling laughter sprang up from beside me. She told the dude, "I know how. There's a bar in National City called the Hi-Lo. Start going in there about three times a week, sit at the bar, order a drink, and start loudly talking about what pieces of shit Harley Davidson motorcycles are. The first person to walk up and tell you to shut your fucking mouth is your sensei for the night. Argue with him, When he finally swings on you, do your best to counter-attack, block, and get your own licks in.
"When you regain consciousness, drive to the ER to check for concussion. Once the concussion is gone, go back to the Hi-Lo and do the same thing. When it finally works out that you're still standing up and your sensei is on the floor, you've learned how to be a good brawler."
A couple of the guys looked confused, the others chuckled nervously and explained that the Hi-Lo is the bar the San Diego chapter of the Hell's Angels hang out at, they're always there. One of them exclaimed, "That's right, you hired some of those guys to work as security guards at your studios. How did that go? It didn't work out for the promoters who put on the Altamont Rolling Stones show."
I said pointedly, "Well, first off, I don't pay my employees in beer. In fact, sobriety is a requirement. It's worked out very well. Twice now I've had HA take bullets while protecting the studio in La Costa, these guys really are as tough as they're rumored to be. Also, they're not dummies, they're got the same brains as anyone else. They're observant, they're quick, they can be diplomatic but also won't put up with any bullshit, and they're dependable. They have a lot of personal pride in working for Inana."
"Why is that?" one of the dudes asked.
"A couple things. First, they're all rabid Becky Page fans, they love Becky, and Becky loves them. When we met the Dago chapter, we went in with no front. We didn't try to be anything we're not, and we treated people in a natural way. Hey, they're a bunch of friends hanging around in a bar. The fact that Becky was obviously not slumming or treating them like zoo animals meant a lot to them. Becky can give as good as she takes when the jokes and ribbing start flying, and they love her for it.
"So there's that, plus when I talked to the chapter prez, I told him I wanted HA working for me specifically because they're tough as hell, and I believed they had the brains for the job. The Angels aren't used to people coming up and making a natural assumption of intelligence. There was also sheer pragmatism. At this point, Inana Productions has ten Hell's Angels as employees, each earning $600 a week before taxes...."
Bekka threw in, "Nine Angels, plus Mama Bev."
"Near as dammit," I replied. "She may not have a patch, but she's HA."
"Who?" asked someone.
Bekka and I both laughed. "Mama Bev," I answered. "In outlaw culture, a 'mama' is essentially a concubine, a woman who's available to any club member who's feeling the itch. Mama Bev is around 310 pounds and has a face like a pit bull. However, the Angels say she is a virtuoso on the meat whistle, if you catch my drift. Mama Bev could suck the black off a bowling ball. Hey, if you're horny enough, that's a damn useful thing to have around."
All the dudes chuckled at this glimpse into outlaw culture. One asked, "So she works for you as a security guard?"
"Yeah. She mans the security shack at the front gate of our Oceanside studio. She sits in there with her Winstons and cans of Tab, grilling anyone who pulls up to the gate. She's got a checklist of visitors, and all Inana employees have pass stickers on their windshields, so they just get waved in. If she needs to use the can, or it's near lunchtime, she gets on the intercom and ---"
There was suddenly a roar of engine. Out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of movement, shiny metal pointed towards us. I shoved Bekka towards the parked cars and grabbed the arm of the guy I was next to, swinging him in the same direction. Then I made my own dive for safety.
The late model Mercedes didn't clip us. However, it did knock one dude roughly to the asphalt. Another went onto the hood, then rolled off near the driveway. Both men groaned with pain from the impact. I realized Richard Roswell and his shyster had been sitting in their car all that time. Either Roswell or the shyster saw me and Bekka standing there, and decided they'd even the score. No luck, they'd taken out two innocent bystanders. Me and the dude I'd thrown ran for the one at the driveway, Bekka and the other two went to check on the first one.
The one by the driveway was pulling in air, hissing through his teeth. "Where do you hurt?" I asked.
"Agghh... Right hip, he hit me hard right there..... Also left shoulder and.... neck.... God damn this hurts...."
"Okay. Don't try to move, in case your hip is cracked. Your back is okay?"
"Yeah.... When I fell off the hood, I.... ow shit.... I landed on my shoulder and neck..... Fuck..... I can move my head okay...."
"Don't worry, we'll have the meatwagon here in a couple minutes. Stay still. Do you smoke?"
I lit s Marlboro and gave it to him. "There, that'll give you something to think about, if nothing else. Don't move, just chill." I took off my jacket and rolled it up, then put it under the dude's head as a pillow. He thanked me. The guy I was with was frowning at my left armpit. Oh yeah, my Beretta was now exposed. I told him, "If you know any of my history, you know why it's there. And yes, it's legal. Just the same, do me a favor, Go in the bar and check to see if anyone has called 911 yet. If not, call. I'm gonna simplify my life by tucking this in my trunk." I slipped of the shoulder holster and jogged to the Cadillac, returning in thirty seconds.
Bekka approached me quickly. "That guy took a solid shot. He says his ribs and his back hurt. We told him to stay still, no shifting. How's this gentleman?"
"Bashed in the hip, hard. Neck and shoulder pain on the left side, from falling off the car."
Staring out blankly at the street with her Sicilian Death Glare in place, she stated flatly, "That motherfucker. That goddamn motherfucker. I don't give a fuck how rich he is, he's not skating on this. Vehicular manslaughter or whatever, hit and run.... You don't purposely mow down pedestrians in a parking lot."
My injured dude said, "Who is that guy? I guess yo know him....."
"His name is Richard Roswell," I replied. "He's a...."
Despite his pain, the dude chuckled. "Oh, shit. Lives in Rancho Santa Fe, right? Me too. I've never met him, but.... ow, shit.... everybody knows who he is. He wants a change in the neighborhood, he buys it. We.... aggh..... circulate through resident representatives all the time, 'cos they keep getting bribed by.... shit..... the bastard. There's such a thing.... oww..... as too much money. Roswell has it."
"He's always had money, hasn't he?" Bekka asked.
"Yeah. He's an heir."
She chuckled and continued, "Well.... Lenny and I don't have nearly as much money as Richard Roswell, but we also grew up farily poor. We know how to live poor. If we lost all our money, it wouldn't be the end of the world, we've lived like that already. So if it takes every fucking penny we have to lock up Richard fucking Roswell for a while, we'll spend it. Make bank on that, pally."
The injured dude turned his had a bit to look at Bekka. He smiled and said, "Yeah.... I've heard Becky Page has some serious chutzpah.... I believe you...."