Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Small Town Boys - Chapter 45

The Tale of the Tape

“What did you tell her about me?” Marc asked when they were back on the freeway.

“Pretty much everything,” Donny said, steering with his knees while he unwrapped the candy bar.

“Jesus,” Marc replied, staring out the window.

“Look, one way or the other she’s gonna know about you and your past and what you did with Jeremy Dixon. Better she knows about it now rather than read about it in the tabloids.”

“I guess you’re right.”

Two cars – Trish’s red Mercedes and a brown Toyota – were parked in front of his house. Trish got out of her car and a woman and a man got out of the other. Donny recognized Minza – she was short with Mediterranean features and narrow glasses – and they shook hands. The man was introduced as Duncan. He was tall and thin with blond streaks in his hair and delicate features, and he was wearing a purple shirt and narrow trousers with tassel loafers. Some people just radiate “gay,” Donny thought.

He introduced Marc to Trish, and she introduced Minza and Duncan as “old friends.” Duncan smiled primly and cast a cruising eye over Donny and Marc as they went into the house. Donny offered drinks and then they went out to the patio.

“Place looks nice,” Minza said. “Funny how you ended up with it.”

“Yeah,” Donny. “Funny how things like that work out.”

After a little bit of small talk, through which Marc sat silently, Trish put out her cigarette and looked at Marc. “So,” she said, “you’re the guy who wants the dirt on Jeremy Dixon.”

Marc shifted in his seat. “Well, I already have the dirt,” he said softly. “I just want to know if anybody else has it...and...”

“And what you can do with it before he does something to you.”


Trish nodded and looked at Minza and Duncan. “Well, thanks to the P.A. underground, it just so happens there is something.” She grinned broadly.

“The what?” Donny said.

“Production assistants’ underground,” said Duncan. He indicated himself and Minza. “That’s us. We’re the invisible people on the movie sets; the ones who get the coffee, the ones who make sure the stars get from their trailers to the set, the ones who get their dry cleaning, pick up their brats from day care, take the dogs for a walk and scoop up the turds.” Duncan affected a Southern accent. “We’s the he’p, Miz Scarlett.”

“Which means,” Minza said, “we know everything. We know who’s on what meds, who’s banging who, and what famous macho star likes to get fluffed between shots so he looks like he’s packing the big one.”

“Fluffed?” said Donny.

“I’ll explain it later,” Trish said. “Anyway, both Duncan and Minza have worked on productions with Jeremy, and both of them know that he likes, on occasion, to hang out with guys.”

“And she means hang out,” said Minza. “As in pull out their cocks and play with it.”

Marc looked at Duncan. “Did he do it with you?”

Duncan laughed; it was a high-pitched, almost feminine giggle. “Oh God no. I’m not his type. He likes ‘em buff and butch, and,” he indicated his frame with a wave of his hand, “I’m neither, honey. You’re more his type.” Duncan giggled again. “And he is not my type, just for the record.”

Donny asked, “So you know people that have slept with him?”

“A few.”

“Who are they?”

Minza and Duncan exchanged glances. “Well,” Minza said hesitantly, “the problem is that if we tell you and word gets out that we told you, we’d never work again. And as much as I love being paid a hundred bucks a day to clean up after someone else or do their laundry...”

“Or spend hours a day photocopying scripts or standing out in the street stopping traffic while you shoot the same scene over and over again,” Duncan inserted.

“...Right,” said Minza. “As much as we hate it, we don’t want to screw it up.”

“So you won’t tell us,” Donny said. He looked at Trish for help, but she was nodding in agreement.

“Even if we gave you names and phone numbers,” Minza said, “it doesn’t do you any good. They’ll deny it, and then where will you be? And they’ll figure out who told you.”

“So,” Marc said, “we’re right back where we started.” He shook his head and started to get up. “C’mon, Donny; drop me off at the office so I can get my car and go home.”

“Hold it,” said Trish. “We’ve got more.”

“Like what?”

Trish lit another cigarette and blew the smoke out like she was doing a scene in a movie. “Think about it. What’s the one thing that would completely ruin Jeremy Dixon’s clean-cut sex symbol image; the one thing that would get every movie he’s ever made yanked out off the shelves at Blockbuster and throw up picket lines at every opening of every new film he ever made, assuming that he could ever make another movie again?” Trish raised an eyebrow.

Marc thought for a moment, and then slowly widened his eyes. “You’re kidding.”

Trish grinned broadly. “Nope.”

“Holy shit,” breathed Marc.

“What?” said Donny, completely mystified.

Marc looked at Donny. “Porn.”


Trish nodded. “Porn. And not just any porn...” She raised her eyebrow again.

“Oh my God,” said Marc.

“What?” said Donny again.

“Gay porn,” said Trish.

Donny looked at Duncan and Minza who were nodding and smiling. “I have a friend,” Duncan said archly, “who has a friend, who, aside from being one of the best set decorators in Hollywood for the last forty years, has the most amazing collection of classic pornography in the world. I’m talking first-rate stuff – not that shit they make on VHS in the Valley – that goes back to as long as there has been photography, and books and art that go even further back than that, including some Japanese prints and a copy of the Kama Sutra that dates back to the nineteenth century.” Duncan paused for a moment. “It just so happens that one of his little gems is a film called Batter Up. It was made about ten years ago by a couple of guys who were just goofing around, having some fun with some hot young guys one summer, and guess who one of those guys is.”

“Jeremy Dixon,” said Donny, and Duncan touched his finger with his nose in the classic Charades signal to indicate he was on the nose.

“And,” said Trish, opening her voluminous purse and pulling out a VHS cassette box, “Duncan’s friend was kind enough to run us off a copy. You have a VCR, I presume?”

They went into the living room and Donny turned on the TV and VCR.

“The only problem,” Duncan said, “is that of course his name isn’t on it and the quality isn’t all that great. These guys weren’t Frank Capra...”

“I don’t think Frank Capra made porn,” Minza said dryly.

“Well, if he did it would be Capra-porn,” retorted Duncan.

“You’ve seen it?” Marc asked.

“No,” Duncan admitted, “but I got a blow-by-blow description.”

Minza snorted. “Very funny.”

Donny put the tape in and punched Play on the remote. The screen went blank, then a grainy, jumpy picture of a baseball stadium came on. It was clearly stock footage of Yankee Stadium with the shots of the crowd and close ups of famous batters and pitchers. The sound was tinny with crowd noise and electric organ music, and once or twice the image jumped and scrolled as the VCR’s tracking mechanism adjusted the image. There were no opening credits.

“That’s just the establishing shot,” Duncan said.

The scene changed to the dugout and showed a row of ballplayers, all of them young and well-built, sitting on the bench wearing baseball uniforms. They acted as if they were watching the game, and it became clear from the dialogue that their team was winning. The camera cut to a shot of someone hitting a home run, then back to the dugout where all the men jumped up, whooped and hollered, and some hugged each other. None of them was Jeremy.

“Go team,” said Duncan, and Trish shushed him.

The action cut to a locker room – established by showing a couple of old gym lockers and a bench against a green wall – where three or four of the players were in various stages of getting undressed. Bits of dialogue – “way to go guys!” and “yea, team!” – was heard. The camera zoomed in on one of the players as he pulled off his shirt, revealing a muscular chest and six-pack, and waited as he pulled off his pants and his jockstrap, revealing his large cock, already half-erect.

“Whoa,” said Trish approvingly.

The camera pulled back and another equally well-built player came in. Some dialogue ensued along the lines of “Hey, buddy, you played a really good game. You really know how to swing that bat,” to which the stripped guy responded by grasping his cock and saying something like, “Thanks, buddy. How’d you like to play a little more?” Some rhythmic music heavy on the bass and sounding like leftover disco from 1970’s came on and the action got down to the business of what the film was all about.

Donny watched with a mixture of fascination and amusement. He had once seen a porn flick when he was in high school at a senior-year bash at Larry Thompson’s house and Larry ran some on his Dad’s ancient Bell & Howell in the basement. It had been straight stuff with big-bosomed women having sex with guys, and he and his friends had laughed most of the way through it, and Donny remembered that he didn’t find it especially arousing. This time, watching two guys engage in sex didn’t have the filmmaker’s desired result on him either.

The scene then shifted to a motel room and the same two men were going at it on the bed in a variety of positions until, after a few moments and some close up shots of a variety of body parts and quick cuts to the facial expressions, another voice was heard off-stage saying, “Hey, can anyone join the party or is it just for guys with big meat?” Donny recognized it as Jeremy’s voice.

“My God, that is Jeremy,” said Duncan, and they all leaned forward to watch as the new guy entered the frame. He was naked as he approached the bed, but all that was seen was his back, and the camera zoomed in on his ass. He got on the bed and the other guys went after him. The camera switched to close-ups and the screen was filled with a tangle of arms, legs, mouths, and cocks. The music became driving, the groaning got louder with the occasional “Oh yeah man suck it” and other ad libs, and finally they were treated to a series of cum shots accompanied by shouts and moans. Then the camera pulled back to reveal the two original actors kissing as the film faded to black.

Donny hit the Pause button. “Okay,” Donny said, “those are really good shots of his back and his ass, but where’s his face?”

“There’s gotta be more,” said Duncan, and Donny pushed Play again. The scene shifted to a Greyhound bus going by, then an interior of the bus with two different players, one black and one Latino, sleeping next to each other. It soon became a scene where they were engaging in sex with much the same action as before and the same music. Then suddenly the screen cut to black, then the electronic snow of a blank tape.

“That’s it?” said Donny, pushing the Fast Forward button. The screen jumped and scrolled, but it was still snow. This went on for a few moments before Donny hit Stop. “Where’s the rest of it?” he said.

“There’s supposed to be a scene where he gets into the showers with another guy with his face and everything,” said Duncan.

Donny pressed Fast Forward to the end of the tape. Nothing but snow. “Shit,” he said angrily. “This isn’t any good. We never saw his face.”

“Well this sucks,” said Trish, “and not in a good way.”

“You heard his voice,” said Duncan petulantly.

“Well, he could say it was dubbed in or it was someone else,” said Minza. “But unless run a voice-print analysis on it or something, it’s useless.”

“Well, I’m sorry. The guy swears that it’s Jeremy Dixon. You heard his voice.”

“Does anyone else have the tape?” said Trish.

“It was never released,” said Duncan. “Right after he made it, Jeremy signed with CAA and they tried to get all the copies from the guys who made it. Obviously they missed one. Or part of one.”

Marc took the remote from Donny and started to rewind the tape.

“Well, other than that one scene where we see his back,” Donny said, “we’ve got nothing, and I don’t think we can prove it was him by showing just his ass. Shit.”

“Hold it,” said Marc.

“What?” said Donny.

“Hang on.”

The movie was in rapid rewind now, the action on the screen now a surrealistic high-speed series of jumps and cuts and split-second shots of the boys on the bus in engaging in comical rapid-fire sex in reverse. Then suddenly they were back in the motel room, going back furiously through the cum shots and back to the montage of close-ups. Marc punched Pause and the screen froze in a blurry dance of lines and squiggles. He backed it up frame by frame, the action jerking and jumping as the tape went back until Marc stopped it on one frame. The electronic static fizzled on the screen like stop-motion lightning, and the resolution was grainy, but it was clearly a man performing oral sex on another man. Marc pushed the Zoom button, and the picture enlarged to fill the entire screen with nothing but half an erection – the other half was out of the frame – a trimmed patch of pubic hair, and the surrounding square inches of skin. There was a small dark patch of color by the base of his cock in a shape that resembled a small bird with its wings spread.

“There,” Marc said triumphantly, putting the remote on the coffee table. “We’ve got him.”

“What?” said Trish.

“That tattoo,” said Marc, pointing at the screen. “It’s a hummingbird carrying a flower. A rose, actually. That’s Jeremy’s tattoo, and that’s Jeremy’s dick. I’ve seen them both up close and personal.”

Duncan was peering closely at the screen. “There’s some printing under it,” he said, “but the picture’s too grainy; I can’t read it.”

“It says ‘Rubythroat,’” said Marc. “He never said why, but that’s what it says.”

“You’re sure?” said Trish.

Marc chuckled. “No doubt. I’ve been there.”

“How many other people know he has that tattoo?” Trish asked.

Minza and Duncan looked at each other and shrugged. “I’ve never seen it,” said Duncan, “and I helped him get dressed a few times. I’ve seen him in his underwear; you can’t see it – and believe me, I checked him out thoroughly.”

“The only people who would know it’s there,” Marc said, “are those of us who have seen him fully naked and with a trim. I’d say that narrows the field considerably.”

“What about your friend?” Donny said to Duncan. “Has he told anyone?”

“Oh, no,” Duncan replied. “He likes his job. He’s very good about keeping secrets.”

“So why is he letting us have the tape?”

“I collect watches,” Duncan explained. “I have a 1930’s Mickey Mouse that he’s crazy about and so I’m trading him that for this and the promise that no one will ever know where it came from.”

“They won’t,” said Marc. “That I promise you.” He was ejecting the tape from the VCR. He put it back into the box and gazed at it thoughtfully.

Minza and Duncan left together; they both had early calls to work. “Another street location in the middle of suburbia,” sighed Duncan. “Never go any place fun.”

“Like where?” asked Donny.

“West Hollywood, Malibu, even Venice would be better than some dreary side street in Whittier or Anaheim. A whole day shot for five minutes of cops and robbers.”

Minza slung her purse over her shoulder. “I get to spend tomorrow running off the re-writes.”

“How many pages?” asked Donny.

“Who knows. Last week it was an average of ten pages a day. C’mon, Dunkie, I’ll buy you a Diet Coke.”

“Nice to meet you,” Donny said to Duncan as they went to the front door. “And thanks for giving up your watch.”

Duncan shrugged. “It doesn’t run and I have two others just like it. Besides, it’s worth it just to see that bastard Jeremy get it. And not in a good way.” He pecked Trish on the cheek. “See you later, babycakes. I’ll call you.”

Minza waved goodbye and Donny closed the door. They went back out to the patio and Donny lit a cigarette.

“So,” Trish said, “you’ve got him by the short hairs.”

“Literally,” added Marc.

Trish snorted. “So what are you going to do now?”

Donny blew out a long stream of smoke and grinned.

“Okay,” she said. “Surprise me.”

“Count on it.”

As she walked to her car, she said, “So, what are you going to do with the tape?”

Marc said, “It’s going into a safe deposit box at the bank after it’s sealed in an envelope and notarized.”

“Good plan,” Trish replied. “And good luck. You’re gonna need it.”

Donny drove Marc to the office to get his car.

“So when’s your meeting with Jeremy?”

“Gina’s gonna let me know.”

“What are you gonna wear?”

“I dunno; my regular outfit, I guess.” He had a navy blue blazer that he had bought shortly after the office had moved and he wore it and blue shirt, a dark red tie, and a pair of pressed khakis to important meetings. He had last worn it to the annual meeting.

Marc shook his head. “Not good enough. You’re going to a meeting with people who pay a grand for a suit. You can’t show up looking like you bought your clothes at J.C. Penney’s.”

“Well, I don’t think Brooks Brothers is open this late on a Sunday,” Donny replied.

Marc shook his head. “Even if they were, with your build you’re gonna have trouble getting fitted there unless they tailor it. Guys who shop there who have a forty-eight inch chest usually don’t have a thirty-two inch waist. There’s a big-and-tall shop nearby, though. They should be able to fit you off the rack. We’ll go tomorrow during lunch. We’ll get you some nice slacks and shoes, too; make you look the part.”

“When did you learn so much about fashion?” Donny said. Marc always wore a coat and tie to work even when everyone else settled for slacks and shirts without ties.

Marc smiled a little. “One of my regular clients was a real clothes horse, and when he wasn’t taking them off to get laid, he taught me something about nice clothes.”

They pulled into the parking garage. Marc’s car was the only one there except for the security guard’s. He started to open the door but then stopped, leaned over and kissed Donny. “Thanks,” he whispered, “for everything this weekend. Thanks for listening and....” He bit his lip and kissed Donny again. Then he got out, grabbed his bag from the back seat, and slammed the door. “See you in the morning,” he said, and tossed his bag into his car.

It was dark by the time Donny got home. He microwaved some burritos and booted up his computer. It didn’t take him long to come up with three abstracts of upcoming episodes for Small Town Boys; he had already outlined them in his head during the walk back yesterday afternoon and during the drive home. He printed them out and put them in a folder and left it by the backdoor with his car keys.


The salesman at the big and tall clothing shop looked like a linebacker for the Rams, but he knew clothes and was able to find a charcoal grey suit coat that fit Donny around the chest, wasn’t too long in the sleeves, and was as well-tailored and current as anything Marc wore. “I get guys like you all the time,” he rumbled. “You’re easy to fit in the jacket department; it’s the shirts that drive guys like you crazy. No one seems to make ‘em the right size in the shoulders and neck in proportion to the waist.” But he was able to find two oxford shirts – one blue and one white with faint pinstripes – in Donny’s size, and a pair of wool slacks that fit his waist. For the shoes they went to the store where Marc bought his, and they came back to the office after an hour and a half having spent just under five hundred dollars.

“I don’t think I’ve spent that much on clothes put together in my life,” Donny said.

“Better start,” said Marc, “if you plan on making Hollywood your other job. You’ve outgrown that scruffy farm boy look.”

“Huh,” said Donny. “Mike called me a ‘muscle-bound goof.’”

“Whatever. When’s the meeting?”

“At three tomorrow,” Donny replied, waving the pink message slip that Lily had left on his desk while they were out. “Did you take care of the tape?”

“First thing.”

“Where is it?”

“Like I said, in a safe deposit box at a bank. And I’m not telling you which bank, either. But trust me, it’s safe. What about you? Are you ready?”

Donny picked up the folder with the abstracts and handed them to Marc. He read through them and handed them back. “Yeah,” said Marc, “that should get his attention.”

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