Saturday, June 25, 2005

Small Town Boys - Chapter 11

I was in the middle of writing this chapter when I stopped working on this novel in 2001. I know exactly where I was in the narrative when I stopped. When I picked it up again I did not make any changes to what I'd already written in this chapter except for several corrections of typos and punctuation. Here's a challenge for you, dear reader: see if you can spot the point where I stopped and where I picked up four years later.

Chapter 1
Chapter 2, Part 1
Chapter 2, Part 2
Chapter 2, Part 3
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10

The Question – 1992

“Just drop me at the curb and get going.”

Donny saw an opening between a minivan and a Hertz shuttle and cut into the inside lane. A skycap sauntered over to them, but Danny was already pulling his bag out of the back. He leaned in and grabbed Donny’s arm. “Thanks for everything, twin. I’ll call you when I get there.”

“Okay. Got everything?”

“Yeah. Take care,” Danny replied. “Say thanks to Eric, too. He’s a good guy.”

“I know.” He looked into Danny’s eyes and they locked gazes for a second. The message flashed between them and they both nodded. Danny shut the door, waved, and darted between the milling passengers and stacks of luggage at the skycap counter. One last look and he was gone. For a moment, Donny stared after him, then clunked the truck into gear and made his way out, back to the freeway, and to the office. He buried himself in work, skipped lunch, and went home without going to the gym. Danny called while he was eating a sandwich.

“Made it back, twin.”

“I guess so. Thanks for coming.”

“We should do it again.”


“You’re coming to graduation next year.”

“Damn right.”

“I’ll see you before then.”

Eric came home around six. He pulled a box of Banquet frozen chicken out of the freezer and turned on the oven. “You want some of this?” he asked Donny.

Donny rinsed off his sandwich plate and put away the bread and bologna. “No thanks.”

“Suit yourself. There’ll be plenty of leftovers.”

Donny went into the living room, scanned the TV guide, and saw nothing of interest. He went to his bedroom and piled the laundry on the still-unmade bed. Eric was whistling in the kitchen, rattling cookie sheets, making noise. “Dammit,” Donny muttered to himself. He grabbed the laundry basket and went out to the garage, threw in the clothes, and slammed the lid down.

“Your phone’s ringing,” Eric shouted from the kitchen.

It was Mike. He was sober, and said nothing about the previous night’s call, and Donny didn’t say anything either. The shooting was going slowly…the weather wasn’t cooperating, and some of the crew was slower than expected. He would be home Saturday morning, so come over.

“Okay, sounds good,” said Donny.

“Yeah. See ya.”

He went back to the living room, thumbed through the TV guide again, and settled on a rerun of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Eric brought in his plate of chicken and canned corn and watched it with him. They didn’t talk. Donny caught himself glancing over at Eric every so often. At the next commercial he got up for a beer. “You want one?” he offered.

“Great, thanks.”

Donny handed him the bottle. Eric took a swig and said, “Heard from your brother? Get back okay?”

“Yeah. All’s well.”

They watched the rest of the movie in silence, and Donny went to bed.

Saturday afternoon Donny pulled up at Mike’s house and saw several other cars parked out front. Curious, he went to the back door by the garage. The door was open and he could hear voices inside. He knocked and called out, “Hello?”

Mike came to the door and pushed it open. He was wearing a Capitol Hill baseball cap and had a beer. “There you are!” he laughed, pulled Donny inside and gave him a hug. “Damn, I missed you,” he whispered. “Come on inside and meet some of the other people in the show.”

Several people were standing around in the kitchen. Two women were pulling groceries out of shopping bags, and a short man who bore a striking resemblance to Steven Spielberg was uncorking a bottle of wine. Mike introduced the women: Minza and Audrey were production assistants, and the man was Harry, one of the sound engineers. Donny was introduced as a “friend from back home.” They were all very nice and Harry, after a grimacing grunt, got the cork out and shook Donny’s hand.

“Get you something?” said Mike, and Donny took a beer. Minza and Audrey started to make a salad, asking where all the utensils were. Mike pulled out bowls and spices and then indicated, with a quick nod of the head, for Donny to follow him out to the pool area.

“We decided somewhere over Kansas that we needed a good old-fashioned cookout tonight, and since I have the place…. You don’t mind.”

“No, it’s cool.”

Mike glanced at him and flashed a quick grin. “Just hangin’ out with the gang. It’ll be fun. And they’ll all blaze outta here in time for us to…” He nudged Donny and winked.

“If you say so.”

“I’ll chase’em outta here with a shovel if I have to.”

Donny was about to reply when the doorbell clanged and more people came in. Mike went back inside. Donny sipped his beer and stayed out by the pool, watching some leaves drift into the skimmer before following Mike.

By six-thirty twenty people were sitting in various places around the house and pool, all talking and laughing, drinking and smoking. Donny had met all of them and quickly forgot their names, except for Rory Donovan, the lead in the series that he remembered from movies and TV. He was quiet, well dressed, and seemed a little aloof. When Mike introduced him to Donny, they shook hands, and Donny saw the automatic smile and nod, and he knew that five minutes later, Rory wouldn’t remember him.

Mike laughed and smoked and drank with them, then took over the grille and made hamburgers and vegetable shish kabobs for the vegetarians. Donny listened to some of the conversations, but it was all about TV and movies and studios and agents and production: things he knew nothing about. He got a plateful of food and went out to the patio to the umbrella table. He ate alone. Jimmy Buffett music was playing somewhere.

It got dark and the lights came on in the pool. He started his third or fourth beer and decided that this was fine – Mike was having fun with his friends, the food was good, and it was a Saturday night. It wasn’t like they were married or something.

After a while he got up and wandered back inside. The smoke from the grille had drifted into the house, but he also detected the faint scent of pot. He took his plate into the kitchen, passing Mike in the doorway.

“Hey, where you been?”

“Out by the pool.”

“Get enough to eat?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.”

“Did you meet everyone?”

“Yeah, I did.”

“Aren’t they great?”

“Uh huh.”

Mike glanced around and then whispered, “Look, they’re all gonna be heading out real soon, I promise.”

“It’s okay, Mike.”

“Man, I’m really really ready to get you alone.” Donny heard the same edge in his voice that he’d heard the night he’d called drunk. He looked in his eyes. They were bloodshot and glassy. “You ready for it?” Mike whispered, his breath smoky.

Donny nodded, and Mike furtively patted his crotch. No one was watching them, anyway.

By ten o’clock the party was over. Minza stayed behind to help clean the kitchen and collect the stray glasses. The housekeeper would be there in the morning. As soon as Mike said goodnight to Minza and closed the front door, he made his way out to the pool. Donny was on one of the chaises, nearly asleep. Mike came upon him silently, then whispered, “Hey.”

Donny opened his eyes. Mike was standing over him, swaying a little. He patted his shoulder. “C’mon.”


“Uh...the bedroom? Like I’ve been waiting for like who-knows-how-long, and I’ll bet you have too.”

Donny followed him and they collapsed together on the bed. Mike pulled his shirt off, struggling a little, then kicked off his shoes. He grinned at Donny. “Okay, your turn.”

Donny complied, then looked at Mike. “Y’know what...I’m really tired. I don’t think I can....”

Mike stared at him for a moment. “Yeah – y’know, me too.” He glanced down at his crotch. “I mean, you’re really hot, but tonight I think Big Jim wants the night off.”

“’Big Jim?’”

“Yeah,” Mike said sheepishly.

“You have a name for your dick?”

“Doesn’t everyone? Don’t you?”

“Uh...I call mine ‘my dick.’”

“Oh. Okay.” Mike stood up, shucked off his shorts, pulled back the covers, and patted the pillows. “Why don’t you just sleep over? You’ve had way too much to drink.”

“Yeah, okay.” Donny got undressed down to his briefs and got in bed. Mike slid in next to him and turned out the light.

“This is nice,” Mike said softly in the darkness. “Just sleeping together is nice. We don’t always have to have sex, y’know.”

“Yeah,” agreed Donny. “And not like the other night.”

He felt Mike sit up. “Huh?”

“The other night. Monday night when you called me. Remember?”

There was a long silence. “Monday night?”

“Yes. You called me from the hotel. You were pretty explicit in not only what you wanted to do, but you even gave me a demonstration.”

The light came on and Donny saw Mike staring at him with a mixture of wonder and just plain puzzlement. “I gave you a demonstration?”

Donny mimed jerking off. “You remember.”

“I remember calling you on Tuesday because it was going slowly and I wanted to tell you to meet me here tonight. But...I called you Monday night? And I...?” He too mimed jerking off.


“You’re making it up.”

“I have a witness.”

“A witness.”

“Danny was in the room. You were loud enough on the phone that he could hear you.”

Again Mike stared, this time across the room at the large-screen TV as if somehow the answer was there. “Jesus,” he muttered. “I remember getting to the hotel and checking in. I remember having room service. I remember getting the call sheet and Tony calling me to remind me to wear my black shoes. Tony is the costume guy. I remember...watching TV and having a couple of drinks...” His voice drifted off.

“Then what?” Donny prompted.

“I don’t know. I went to sleep, I guess. I woke up the next morning and got dressed and did the shoots and everything. I had a little hangover, but I chalked it up to jet lag. I jerked off over the phone to you?”

Donny nodded. “Yeah.”

“Well, how was it?”

“You sounded like you enjoyed it.”

“Oh, well...if I’m going to do it and not remember it...I’m glad it was good. How was it for you?”

“Uh, not so good. But I’m not into phone sex.”

“Oh. Did your brother like it?”

“Not his thing, either.”

“Hm.” Mike turned out the light and settled back down into the pillows. He pulled Donny to him to cuddle for a bit. “Sorry.”

“It’s okay. Just next time, I’d rather be there.”

“I don’t normally black out.”

“That’s good to know.”

Donny drifted off to sleep a little later. He decided that if Mike didn’t remember the phone call he wouldn’t remember the part about “I love you.”

It was barely light the next morning when Donny felt Mike caressing his shoulder. He responded, and they made up for the night before. They went back to sleep until the sun was fully streaming in through the windows. Mike got up and padded into the kitchen to make coffee. Donny joined him.

As Mike poured his coffee, he said offhandedly, “How’d you like to move in here?”

Donny was so surprised all he could do was stare, which Mike took as reluctance. “Well, that was a dumb thing to say, I guess.”

“Uh... well, no. I mean, no, it wasn’t a dumb thing. I mean....” Donny didn’t know what he meant.

“You don’t have to decide right now.” Mike said. “Think about it, that’s all. You’ve got a lease on that place you’re in now, right?”

The lease was in Eric’s name since he had the ready cash for the deposit, and it made things easier if one of them got a chance to move out. Like now.

“Yeah, but.... Okay. I’ll think about it.”

“Good. Look, I gotta go out for a while, but stick around. Let’s just hang out when I get back. We don’t really do that a lot. There’s English muffins in the fridge.”

Mike took a shower then left for an interview with a freelancer for TV Guide, so as he ate breakfast, thoughts raced through Donny’s mind. Sharing a house with someone as a lover would be a new and exciting experience, especially someone who was on the verge of being a celebrity. It also occurred to him that the rent on this place – even if he paid just half of it – would be more than the house he shared with Eric and Rob... probably as much as the whole place. But he knew Mike knew how much he made; he’d been upfront about it when they were talking once about housing costs. Would he expect him to pay half the rent and utilities? And what would he tell his parents? “Hey, Mom and Dad, I’ve moved into a house with an actor who likes to have sex with me.” He couldn’t imagine that phone call.

Neither could he imagine what Danny would say. Yes, he could. “Jesus, twin.”

“Well, we spend a lot of time together as it is.”

“Yeah, but that’s like going steady. Living together is like getting married.”


“So how much do you know about this guy? Does he have any other guys he hangs out with?”


“You know that for a fact.”

“Well, he’s never mentioned anyone else. And he’s so busy he hardly gets to see me except a couple of times a week.”

“So he says. You’ve heard about those Hollywood types.”

“Mike’s not Hollywood.”

“What about the other night when he called you from Washington. He was so shitfaced he doesn’t even remember calling you.”

“Once. And he didn’t get like that when we were in Palm Springs.”

“You know that you’ll never be able to go anywhere with him. You won’t even be able to go out to dinner together, and if he has friends over, you’ll be just another guest. What the hell kind of life will you have? You’re not gonna be just living with Mike, you’re gonna be living with Lance Michaels.”

Mike came back just before noon.

“How’d it go?” Donny asked.

Mike shrugged. “Just another bunch of questions about the show. I think they’re getting all these interviews on background so when the show takes off – if it does – they can pull them out and boost the profile. All they wanted to know was how it was like to work with a screen legend like Rory Donovan. So, did you eat?”

They sat on the patio reading the paper. Donny decided to wait until Mike brought up the idea of living together; maybe he’d thought better of it in the cold light of day. Finally Mike put down the paper and said, “So, whaddaya think?”


“Moving in here.”

Donny lit a cigarette. “How much is the rent on this place?”

Mike shrugged. “What difference does that make? Someone in Marty’s office pays it.”

“Well, if I’m gonna live here...”

Mike waved the words away like they were smoke. “Not an issue.”

Donny shook his head. “I can’t live here for nothing.”

“Why not? If you were my wife I wouldn’t ask you to pay rent.”

“Oh, is that what this is? A marriage proposal?”

Mike looked at him with a small grin. “I guess it is.”

Donny blew out a long stream of smoke. In the few seconds it took to exhale he re-ran some of the reservations he had, plus a few more. What was he like to live with? What was he like when he was tired or bored? The drunken phone call – was that a sign of something? What about Eric and Rob? They were counting on him to help keep up his end of the rent. And what about the times when he just liked being alone, not doing anything, not having to be expected to do something? Mike was a nice guy and they came from the same background, and he obviously felt something more for him than just being a fuck-buddy...but how did he really feel about him? He took a drag on his cigarette and gave Mike back the small grin. He started to speak but Mike beat him to it.

“You want to think about it, don’tcha. I dropped it on you. I’m sorry...but I’m that way sometimes.”

“Yeah,” Donny said, grateful to have an opening. “I do want to think about it. It’s ...” he stumbled for the words, then smiled again, “it’s a lot to think about.”

Mike patted him on the arm. “Take your time. You let me know. It’s just...I like having you around. How about some lunch?”

Mike went in to make some sandwiches, and it occurred to Donny that even someone like Mike, who spent his days surrounded by people looking at him, could be lonely, too.



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