Since I was now working for Mrs. Titus exclusively, I wouldn’t be putting off any trip any longer than I had to. My exclusivity to Mrs. Titus began Friday, I made the serendipitous connection between Holly and Crystal on Saturday, and Sunday was spent locating the offices and the names of those running the Fantasy Factory. Oh, and I devoted myself to checking out more of Crystal Fortune’s film work.
Hey, I was just conducting research…
While Berkeley was only a five hour ride, my Harley isn’t great for trips beyond a hundred miles or so before my butt starts to protest. Besides, I would likely be spending a night or two in my search and require a change of clothes, so it would be ‘Old Blue’, the Crown Vic, for the trip.
As usual, Old Blue’s gas mileage sucked in comparison to the Harley, but Mrs. Titus would be getting billed for the expense. It was pretty likely that we’d just take most of it out in trade, though. Since the gas mileage sucked, maybe I’d get sucked to make up for it. Eh, not a bad trade-off in the long run.
I left my place at 4:30 am Monday morning. Even with taking the time for a decent breakfast on the road, I still made Berkeley before 10:00 am. By 10:10, I rolled up in front of a generic warehouse. A dingy green awning over a door drew my attention the name of the business within: GD Ventures, d.b.a. The Fantasy Factory. I guess their biggest fantasy was thinking this to be a high-end corporate office.
The GD Ventures was easy enough to interpret; the listed business owners were S. Gordon and B. Dare. Whether or not either one was there was a crapshoot, but I couldn’t locate a working phone number for the business to make sure. Just as well; I like surprises. Not.
I took Old Blue a little further down the street and parked it. No sense drawing too much attention until I was confident what I might be walking into. Likewise, I chose to leave my Glock in the Crown Vic. This would be as innocent and innocuous a visit as possible. A lot of porn operations still have ties to organized crime. If that were the case, and with my luck, they’d do a strip search just because I stuck my head in the door. Being found with a gun would raise a lot of eyebrows that I didn’t need.
I walked the better part of a block back to the door, only to find it locked, and with no hours posted. I peered through the glass at the dark and empty office inside. Hmm... maybe I was approaching this wrong. Maybe porn businesses only operate in the evening, like titty bars, and not on a Monday through Friday, 9-to-5 kind of schedule.
“Can I help you?” called a female voice.
I turned my head to find a brassy-haired woman, probably in her late forties and with a curvy figure of generous proportions, stepping up to me. At first glance, she didn’t appear to be overly graceful in her walk, likely due to feet that appeared too small for the weight they were supporting. I don’t mean that she was waddling like a drunken hippo, just that she seemed to sway with each step. But even then, there was a certain erotic quality in her stride. By the time we were face-to-face we were eye-to-eye, thanks to her 4-inch heels. In retrospect, those heels might have had a lot to do with her ungainly gait.
“Depends,” I replied. “Do you work here?”
“Depends,” she replied, sizing me up. “Are you a bill collector?”
“Then, yes. I work here. What can I do for you?”
“I was looking for a Mr. Gordon, or a Mr. Dare.”
She raised an eyebrow and looked me over again.
“Which one do you really want?”
Great. My crapshoot was still alive and well. With a fifty-fifty shot, I went with the first initial of GD Ventures.
“Mr. Gordon,” I said.
Judging by the look of relief that washed over the woman’s pretty face, I had stumbled on the right answer.
“Thank goodness,” she chuckled as she pulled a ring of keys from her purse. “I was beginning to lose my faith in good-looking men.”
I think that was intended as a compliment for me. “I’m, uh, glad I can help restore your faith.”
She looked me over again as she stuck a key into the door lock and grinned.
“Baby, you could restore a lot of things for me, given the chance.”
Sounded like another compliment. I was on a roll this morning. She opened the door and I followed her inside.
“Was Mr. Gordon expecting you this morning, Mr...?”
“Case,” I replied. “And, uh, no. I didn’t really make an appointment with Mr. Gordon.”
“So, you just drop in and expect him to drop everything for you?”
“No, no, of course not...” I glanced at the name plate on the desk. “... Colleen. No, I was just hoping for a few moments of his time, just a few questions is all.”
Colleen eyed me for a few more moments, apparently trying to size me up.
“You look pretty solid,” she said. “Work out? Diet?”
“I work out enough,” I said. “My diet pretty much consists of whatever ingredients are topping my pizza at the moment.”
Colleen let out a pretty hardy laugh. More of a guffaw, actually.
“You are different, Mr. Case,” she said. “If I may ask, how old are you?”
“Old enough to know better. Still too young to say ‘no’.”
“Eh, age is only a number,” I said with a shrug. “Mind over matter. If you don’t mind my age, it shouldn’t matter.”
A male voice sounded. “Age is everything in my business.”
I spun towards the voice, this time finding myself towering above a pudgy man in his late fifties, sporting large, Elvis-style sunglasses and a bad toupee. All he needed was the first name ‘Sid’ and the stereotypical image of a porn producer would be complete. He looked me over and stuck out a hand.
“I’m Saul Gordon.”
‘Saul’ would have been my second choice.
“Case,” was all I said, or got to say, as I shook Gordon’s clammy hand.
“You a drop-in?”
“Uh, yeah,” I replied, feeling confused.
“No portfolio?” He glanced over at Colleen. “You get a portfolio from Case, here?”
“No, sir,” she replied.
“I hate wasting my time, Case.” Gordon looked me over, sizing me up much as Colleen had done a few moments earlier. “Yeah... yeah, you got a certain... something, I guess. Let’s go into my office so you can show me the goods.”
I glanced over at Colleen, finding a surprised – or maybe impressed – expression on her face. Gordon walked past me and I figured I’d best follow. He threw open an office door and walked in, then went immediately around the desk and took a seat. With no chairs for a guest on my side of his desk, I walked up to it and remained standing.
“Okay,” he announced. “Off with the clothes.”