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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Penultimate Hustle: L.A. - Chapter 14

Chapter 14 – BFFs

The next day, the offices were again humming, despite the girls being away at the stores. Brad and Leo set up their desks, funky modern workstations that suited their style of work. Kiki babysat Dulce, and Janique always had someone to chat with in between bouts of planning and business calls.
Chris edited rough cuts of demo videos in preparation for their bid for distribution. He seemed happy enough, but it was obvious he'd rather be coding.
“We need to design the covers,” he told Janique.
“Do we?”
“I think so. Why leave it up to the distributors? Most porn covers are lame.”
“You're right, of course,” Janique said. “Chris, would you ever leave me?”
“What?”
“Do you think you would ever leave me?”
“No. Why would I?”
“I don't know. What if I cheated on you?”
“You wouldn't. I know you too well. Why are you asking me this?”
“I don't know. Things seem too perfect. I'm looking for the downside.”
He stood and took both of her hands in his own.
“Well, don't. I would never leave you. Unless...”
“Unless what?”
“Unless you wanted me to.”
“Are you serious?”
“If that's what would make you happiest.”
“Chris, that's terrible. And so sweet. That would never make me happy. What would you do?”
“Kill myself.”
Janique hugged him fiercely, shuddering.
“Don't say that! And never leave me, no matter what.”
“Okay. It was hypothetical. I do love you that much, though.”
“I just love you!” she said through a veil of silent tears.
“Best friends forever?”
“Forever.”
###
“Lee-oooh,” Janique said, standing in his office doorway.
“Yes?”
“I have a special project for you.”
“Say the word.”
“Please?”
“Heh. No, I mean, name it.”
“Oh”, Janique laughed, feeling silly. “Well, we're shipping off demo videos this week, and I want to design some tape covers with you. Can you do print work?”
“Sure. I could knock something together with Ghostscript.”
“What's that? Wait, don't tell me. You and Brad fill my head with too much technical stuff as it is. What do you need?”
“Well, I have the frame grabber for video. The film scanner is on order.”
“Don't we stock them in the store, Brad?”
“No. They're pretty high-end.”
“Then start. We have to stay ahead of the game.”
“Sure,” Brad said, and went back to coding.
“How's the BBS stuff going?”
“Good. We're getting that machine delivered today.”
“Excellent. Pizza for lunch?”
“That,” Leo said, “would be very cool.”
###
“Janique,” Janice said. The landlord called and asked why we're cutting holes in the building...”
“What? Heh. I'll check. I'm sure we have a good reason. How's the building purchase going?”
“Good. Payback and the attorneys are hashing out the details today. But you don't own it yet. We don't want to get tied up-”
“Speak for yourself.”
“-in litigation.”
“Push it through. I'll deal with the owners in person, if I have to. In the meantime, I'll see what's up with Natalia.”
“That might be a good idea...”
“Yes, mommy.”
Janice shuddered. “Please. Never call me that again.”
“Yes, Aunt Janice,” Janique said with a smile.
Natalia wasn't in her office, and when she tried the door to what she thought of as her and Chris's bedroom, it was locked. Hearing muffled sounds of activity inside, she knocked.
“Yes?” Natalia said, opening the door a crack.
“What's going on?”
“Work.”
“Can I see?”
“No. It's a surprise.”
“Aww. What's this about a hole in the wall?”
“Oh,” Natalia said. “We removed the windows.”
“Because...”
“Also a surprise.”
“Okay, then.” Janique said, laughing. “I love surprises. How are the other rooms going?”
“Good. I visited the 'Pee-Wee' show.”
“Also a surprise?”
“No, I can show you,” Natalia said, closing the door behind her.
They went to her office, and looked at the latest sketches, one of which showed a pale blue overstuffed recliner with big eyes.
“I love it!”
“Good. Because all of the furniture is already being built.”
“Very cool. We need to step it up. We're about to hire more talent.”
“Talent?”
“Whores.”
“Oh,” Natalia sniffed. “I'm glad I took six years of design so I could make whore pay. Did you know that the Greek word for actor is the same as the word for prostitute?”
“Hilarious. No, I didn't. But I love Greek. And French,” Janique said, raising her eyebrows a few times comically.
“I have work to do,” Natalia said, excusing herself.
In the nursery, Janique said, “Kiki, no one will play with me!”
“Poor baby. You can come play with us.”
She and Dulce had a Chutes and Ladders board set up on the floor.
“Not really my speed,” Janique said.
“How are you at role-playing?”
“Please don't rape me, mister,” Janique said in a frightened voice.
“Heh. I meant like Dungeons and Dragons.”
“How about Strip Poke Her?”

Kiki laughed. “We need a babysitter...”