Thursday, July 21, 2005

Small Town Boys - Chapter 14

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
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13

In Between - 1992

“Eventually” turned out to be the next day after work. Donny got to the house just after six, changed into sweats and a tank top, and was in the kitchen making a sandwich to hold him until dinner – Mike had a late shoot – when the doorbell rang. It was Marty. He was dressed much as he was yesterday; slacks and a blazer seemed to be his uniform.

“Hi,” said Donny, somewhat surprised. “Mike’s not here.”

“I know. May I come in?”


They went into the living room. Marty took off his sunglasses, looked around to be sure they were alone, then looked at Donny seriously. “You’re living here?”

“Uh, yeah.”

“For how long?”

“’Bout three weeks.”

“Whose idea was it?”


“Not yours?”


Marty rocked on the balls of his feet as he absorbed this. Donny watched him carefully, getting a sense of what was about to come.

“So how did you two meet?”

“At the beach one afternoon in March. Say, can I get you something? Coke, beer, a glass of water? Anything.”

“No thanks,” Marty replied tersely. “Look, I have to tell you that I’m not wild about this.”

Donny was expecting that, so he nodded. “Yeah, I can imagine you’re probably not.”

“Are you an actor?”


“So, you’re not in the business?”

“Oh, hell no. Not at all.”

“Well, I don’t get it. What is there...I mean, what is it between you and Lance?”

“Well, I can’t speak for him, but I like being with him and he likes having me around.”

“And you’re sleeping with him.”

Donny knew that was coming, too. He wasn’t sure how he’d handle it – whether to tell him it was none of his fucking business what he and Mike did together, or just accept that Marty was going to ask it anyway and he should just answer it honestly. So he did. “Yeah, I am.”

Marty stared out the windows to the pool. After a moment he said, “You’re the one he took to Palm Springs.” It was not a question, and Donny said he was. Marty continued to stare out the windows. Donny knew that Marty was waiting for him to make the next move; to say something like, “Look, is there a problem?” at which he knew Marty would say “Yes.” So he waited him out. After what seemed like a geological age, Marty turned and gave him a little grin.

“Okay, I’ll make this as simple as possible. Lance doesn’t need any distraction from his work right now. He’s just landed a part in a series that could put him really out there, and he’s about to get a great part in a film that could cement his reputation for a very long time. Having you here...could make it tough for him to concentrate on what’s important. He needs this time alone. So I think it would be best for him if you were to leave.”

Donny nodded slowly. “Does Mike agree with you?”

“We discussed it.”

Donny remembered the conversation from yesterday. “Yeah, I know. But does he agree with you?”

Marty apparently wasn’t expecting this response. “One of the things I do for Lance is look out for him. I keep him out of dead-end roles in bad projects with directors that are going nowhere, and I keep him focused on things that are best for him. Sometimes that means telling him things he doesn’t want to hear, and sometimes that means telling him how to live his life.” Marty looked around the room. “I also should tell you that this house is leased in my name, so if you want to get technical, you’re living in my house.” He grinned broadly. “Look, I know you’re probably a nice guy and all that, and for what it’s worth, you’re a good-looking one, too. I can see why Lance would be attracted to you. But right now...” Marty shook his head, “he needs his space.”

“I’d like to talk to Mike first,” Donny said, trying with great effort to keep from either laughing out loud or shouting – he wasn’t sure which.

“There’s nothing to talk about. I’ll tell Lance that you’re gone.” He reached in his blazer pocket and pulled out a wallet. “Got a place to go to?”

“Beg pardon?”

Marty took some bills out of the wallet and offered them to Donny. “Here, check into a motel for the night until you get a place to stay, get settled, y’know.”

Donny was stunned. All he could gasp out was, “I have a place. I share a house over on... I have a job. I don’t need your money.” Donny could feel his legs start to tremble, and he suddenly remembered that the last time he hit someone other than Danny was in sixth grade when Stuart Tasker knocked him off his bike with a garden rake. Marty quickly put the money and his wallet away.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to imply...”

Donny didn’t hear the rest of the sentence. He strode out of the living room and into the bedroom. He flung open the closet, found his duffel, and had his clothes, both the clean and the stuff waiting for the laundry, packed in a few minutes. He found a piece of notepaper off the pad from Paramount Pictures, scrawled “Call me” on it and stuck it on the mirror over the dresser where he knew Mike would see it when he got home.

Marty remained in the living room, and when Donny came out carrying his duffel, he nodded approvingly. “I’m sure you understand. I’m only thinking of Lance.”

Donny tossed the house keys and the garage remote on the table. “Well, all I know is that it was Mike’s idea to have me move in, not mine. I don’t know who the fuck this Lance guy is that you keep talking about.” Donny didn’t wait for an answer but went out to the garage, backed the truck out, and drove out of the driveway, just narrowly missing taking off the side mirror of Marty’s Mercedes. He made it back to his house in time for dinner.

Mike called shortly after nine. “What the hell happened?”

“Ask Marty,” Donny replied simply.

“Marty? Don’t tell me he came over...”

“Yep. Told me you needed your space and that I was a distraction. He offered me three hundred bucks to go to a motel.”

“Son of a bitch!” The line went dead. Donny went back out to the living room. Eric raised an eyebrow.

“He’s pissed,” Donny told him.

“Yeah, I’ll bet,” Eric said. He had filled Eric in on the meeting with Marty over dinner. Eric’s response to the offer of money had been a low whistle. “Damn, Donny, you’re in the wrong business working for me. You should be out there hustling.”

“Now what?”

Donny sat on the couch and picked up the TV guide. “I don’t know. Wait and see, I guess, and check the eleven o’clock news for any shootings of a talent agent.”

Eric shook his head. “What an asshole. So what are you gonna do?”

“What can I do? Marty thinks I am some kind of hustler. No point in arguing with the guy.”

“Yeah, but what about Mike?”

Donny glanced at Eric. “We’ll figure out something.”

Eric said quietly, “Look, it’s none of my business, but how do you feel about him?”

“It’s okay,” Donny said. “I guess I love him.”

“Think it’s mutual?”

Donny remembered the blacked-out phone call. “Don’t know.”

An hour later the doorbell rang. Donny was in the kitchen washing the dinner dishes. Eric called from the front, “Hey, Donny.”

It was Mike. He was still in his work clothes – the Levi’s and a t-shirt with a Paramount logo that he wore before changing into costumes – and there was still hairspray in his hair. He had calmed down considerably and he was smiling when Donny came out from the kitchen drying his hands on a towel. “Hey,” Mike said shyly as he gave him a hug. He smelled of cigarette smoke and whiskey.


“Sorry to barge in this late, but...”

“Sure. Have you met Eric?”

“No, not formally. Hi, I’m Mike.” They shook hands.

“Eric McKay.”

“You’re the computer genius.”

“Well, so far I’m just messing around with them.”

Mike nodded. “Sounds good.”

Eric turned to Donny. “Let me finish up the dishes. Nice to meet you, Mike.”

“You too.”

Eric took the towel and left. Mike looked around the living room. “Nice place you have here.”

“Thanks. You want to...?” Donny indicated the couch, “or maybe out on the patio.”

“Patio’s fine.”

It was a quiet night. Mike leaned back in the folding chair next to the large flowerpot and lit a cigarette. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know Marty was going to come over today.”

“I know.”

“He can be a real prick.”

“I know. You want something to drink?”

“Got any beer?”

“Yeah. Coors or Oly?”


Donny got the beer. Eric was finishing up the dishes and made it a point to tell Donny he was going to his room when he was done.

Mike took a long pull on the beer and smiled a little. “He’s trying to look out for me.”

“He keeps calling you Lance.”

“Only to people he doesn’t know. Look, I ...”

Donny held up a hand. “Hey, I don’t want to get in the way of your career.”

“Fuck my career.”

“Nah, you don’t mean that.”

Mike took another sip and percolated up a soft burp. “I don’t know. People have this really fucked up idea about what life is like making TV shows and movies, like it’s some high art form or stuff. Most of the time you sit on your ass watching other people run around the set and yell at each other. Actors are just props with feet. It’s not theatre. It’s modeling.”

“Marty thinks you’re good at it.”

“Marty thinks anybody with a nice body, a big basket, and good teeth is the next fucking Laurence Olivier.” Mike ground out his cigarette. “Look, I know what Marty thinks, and I know what he’s worried about. It isn’t the show or the movie or me needing any fucking ‘space.’ He doesn’t want me ending up on the cover of the National Enquirer with ‘LANCE’S BOY TOY’ as the headline. He’s trying to protect my image as the macho studmuffin he thinks the world sees me as, and he thinks that any guy that gets close to me is gonna out me to the tabloids.”

“Does he think three hundred bucks would buy off a guy from the Enquirer?” Donny said.

“Oh, I almost slugged him over that. I asked him if he thought I was that dumb to pick up a guy that could be bought off for what he spends on a dinner at Spago. I came this close to firing him.”

“You did not.”

“Well, I thought about it.”

“No, you didn’t.”

“You’re right. But I did set him straight about you.”

“Yeah? What’d you tell him?”

“That you don’t give a shit about Hollywood, you have a steady job, you come from a good background, that small town boys are always honest and trustworthy, that you’re one hell of a good man to have around, and that I love you.”

Donny looked at Mike for a moment, their eyes holding each other. He smiled. “So what did he say to that?”

“What could he say? He said that we had to be very careful and that he had no problem with us being together. We just can’t live together.”

“I guess we can handle that,” Donny replied.

“Guess so.”

“Uh huh.”

After a moment Donny said, “Did you really tell him you love me?”

“Yeah, I did.”


“It’s true.” Mike was looking at him as if he expected a response.

Donny slowly smiled. “Love you, too. Want another beer?”

Mike left a few minutes later; he had an early call. “I’ll stop by tomorrow night. I’ll bring dinner – for everyone.” They hugged and Donny said, “You need a ride home?”

“One scotch and a beer? I’m good.” He kissed him good night and strode out to his car.

Donny knocked on Eric’s door. Eric looked at him expectantly.

Donny knew what he meant. “Yeah,” was all he said.

Eric grinned broadly. “No shit.”

“Yeah, he said it.”

“And you?”

“Yeah. Good night.”

“Good night.”



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