Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Small Town Boys - Chapter 17

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
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16

After Dinner – 1992

Donny drove straight from the restaurant to Mike’s house. After he got over the initial realization that his dinner with Paul Jeffries had been planned out with Mike’s blessing, he had driven through traffic seething at the little old lady in the big Cadillac who was going thirty miles an hour in the fast lane. By the time he’d gotten across town to Mike’s neighborhood he had settled down to a firm resolve to ask why, after almost six months of sleeping with him, living together, and talking about buying a house together, he felt the need to find out what his intentions were. You could have asked, y’know.

Mike wasn’t home yet when Donny pulled up in front. The lights were on, but he knew that was from the automatic timer; the real sign he was there would have been the light on over the sink in the kitchen. He waited in his truck, this time not caring if a cop gave him the once-over.

He didn’t have long to wait; maybe five minutes passed before Mike pulled in the driveway. Donny met him in the garage.

“Hey, good to see you,” Mike said, giving him a quick hug once the garage door had closed. “I was gonna call and see if you wanted to come over, but here you are.”


They went into the kitchen. Mike tossed his keys on the table and glanced at the mail the housekeeper had left. “So, how’s it going?”

“Not bad.”

“Good. You want something to eat? I’m starving.” He looked in the cupboard and pulled out a box of Rice-A- Roni.

Donny was watching him to see if this was an act. If it was, he wasn’t interested in playing along. “No, I already ate.”

“Oh, okay. Well, I was gonna warm up a piece of chicken.” He got out the frying pan, set it on the stove, and then came over and rubbed his knuckles on Donny’s chest. “’Course, that can wait if you’ve got something else in mind.” He grinned.

For a split-second Donny thought about batting his hand away, but knew that would be melodramatic. Instead he just grinned back. “Sure,” he replied. “Oh, hey...Paul Jeffries says hi.”

Mike looked at him quickly and raised his eyebrows. “Yeah? Where’d you see him?”

“He invited me out to dinner tonight,” Donny said evenly.


“But you knew that.”

Mike paused a long time before he answered, but Donny stared at him and finally he shrugged. “It was Marty’s idea.”

“But you went along with it.”

Mike nodded and went to the refrigerator. He got a beer. “You want one?”

“No. Thanks.”

Mike opened the beer and took a long drink. Donny watched him, then said, “How come?”

“First, you gotta know it wasn’t my idea. Marty has been freaked out that I’ve finally met someone, and he’s been on my ass to get me to tell him all about you and what’s going on between us. So a couple of weeks ago when I got tired of listening to him, I told him to ask you himself. Well, he didn’t like that idea – I think the last time you guys talked it wasn’t the best of times, y’know? So I said fine, get someone else. Just leave me the fuck out of it. I didn’t want to be in on it, and honest to God I forgot all about it. I thought I’d called his bluff. But last night he told me that he’d talked to Paul Jeffries and that he was gonna ask you to dinner. Just a nice quiet dinner and ... aw, shit, Donny, it sounds worse than it was, believe me. I’m sorry.” He looked at him guiltily. “You’re pissed.”

“You could have told me.”

“Yeah, I should have.”

“So what was it, some kind of test?”

Mike shook his head. “Jesus, sometimes I hate this business. Everybody gets all puckered up worrying about who’s hot and who’s not and who’s fucking who. Everybody’s gotta find a way in.”

Donny thought of Marc. He remembered the postcard in his back pocket and almost pulled it out to show Mike, but thought better of it. “That’s what Paul thought.”


“He wanted to know what my plans were. Like in the business. Like I wanted to be an actor. He said everybody wanted to know who I was.”

“What’d you tell him?”

“What’d you think I told him?”

“I dunno. What are your plans?”

“You’re kidding, right?”

Mike scowled. “Hell, I don’t know, Donny. Suddenly everyone’s talking about you.”

“That’s what Paul said.”


“Well, what?”

“Well...” Mike gestured in the air like he was waiting for an answer.

Donny stared at him. “You can’t be fucking serious,” he finally said.

“Well, I don’t know, Donny. It’s happened before.”

“To you?”

“No. But it has.”

“So, you think this whole thing – going back to the day on the beach – was some plan of mine to meet you, fuck you, move in with you, and fall in love with you just so I could horn in on your fame and fortune and become some big Hollywood star? Like I really wanted to go through all of that so I could....?” He couldn’t think of a polite way of saying “turn into some insecure mass of self-doubt and paranoia,” so he just let it hang there. Mike didn’t say anything. Donny shook his head. “Look, Mike. Did it ever occur to you – or Marty – that I might just like you because I like you? I don’t give a shit about what you do for a living, and if that’s what you think, then...Jesus, you’ve been out here too long.”

Mike nodded slowly. “Okay,” he whispered.

He made his dinner. The kitchen was silent except for the hiss and spatter of the skillet. Mike set his plate on the table. “Sure you don’t want some? There’s plenty.”

“Nah, thanks,” replied Donny. He stretched and suddenly felt very tired. The stress of the roll-out of Pelican, the dinner with Paul and the aftermath all came crashing down on him. “I’m beat. Think I’ll head on home.” He got up from the table.

“You don’t want to hang around for just a little while? Watch some TV? Cuddle?”

Donny shook his head. “Not tonight.” To show he wasn’t storming off he squeezed Mike’s shoulder and nuzzled his ear. “I’ll see you tomorrow night.”

“Okay.” Mike went with him to the door and they hugged.

“G’night,” Donny said. “Call you tomorrow.”

“’Kay,” Mike said. “Love you.”

“You too.”

Donny was fast asleep when his phone rang, and he jolted awake, completely disoriented. At first he grabbed the clock radio, then caught the phone on the third ring.




A gasping sob, then “Donny...?”

“Yeah. Who is this?”

“Oh, shit Donny. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean it. I’m so fucking sorry.”

“Mike?” Donny was fully awake now.

There was another long sob, then a thud as the receiver on the other end hit the carpet. Off in the distance he heard a long series of moaning sobs with an occasional “fuck” and mumbled curses thrown in. Finally a scuffling sound, then the receiver was picked up again. “Donny? You there?”

“Yeah, I’m here. Mike, what’s wrong?”

“Oh Donny I love you so much I’d do anything for you. I’ll quit the fucking show. I’ll work at Ralph’s bagging groceries for old Mexican women. I’ll tell Marty to take his jealous ass and go fuck himself.” He sounded like he had the night he’d called from the hotel in Washington; definitely very drunk. He made a series of gulping sounds. “You love me, don’t you?”

“Yeah, of course I do.”

“I wanted you to stay tonight.”

“I know. But I was really tired.”

“You were pissed at me. It wasn’t my idea. You gotta believe me.”

“I know.”

“You know that.”


“Okay. So are you coming over tonight?”

Donny looked at the clock. It was a little after one a.m. “Now?”


“I can’t, Mike. It’s too late.”

“Too late?” He sounded panicked. “Whaddaya mean it’s too late?”

“It’s one o’clock in the morning. We both gotta be at work in seven hours.”

“Oh. Yeah. I thought you meant it was too late for us...y’know...like we were...y’know...over.” He was on the verge of crying again.

“No, Mike. It’s just too late tonight. I’ll come over tomorrow night.”



“’Cause I love you.”

“I love you too.”

“I really mean it.”

“I know you do.”

“And not just because you have a nice dick.”

“I know.”

“’Cause you do.”


“You like mine?”

“Uh huh. It’s very nice.” Before Mike could reply, Donny added, “Mike, I’ll be over as soon as I can tomorrow night, okay? You need to get some sleep.”

“I know. I’m doing a goddamn love scene tomorrow with this chick and I gotta be on top o’ my game to act like I really give a rat’s ass about porking her.”

“Go to sleep, Mike.”

“Okay.” He gushed a long sigh into the phone. “Fuck, Donny, I really love you so much. I’ll see you tomorrow night, okay?”

“Okay. Good night.”


Donny waited for Mike to hang up the phone. When it didn’t happen for a few moments, he said, “Mike?” No reply, but he could hear shuffling around and in the distance Mike mumbling to himself, then the distinct sound of him using the toilet. He’d just forgotten to hang up the phone. Donny hung up his phone, went to the bathroom, came back, and picked up the phone again. He got a dial tone. He hit the redial button and got a busy signal. He went back to bed, but it took him a good fifteen minutes to go back to sleep.



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