This is Chapter 8 of the "Queer Identities" series.
The narrator is Brian Kinney, and features Justin Taylor, Jimmy Hardy, Diane Rhys, Hilly Nussbaum, Avi Massarky, Dorian Folco, Clint Eastwood,Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: A dinner party in the desert. Arizona, May 2003.
Disclaimer: You know the drill. This is for fun, not profit. Enjoy.
"If you want a lover, I'll do anything you ask me to.
And if you want another kind of love, I'll wear that mask for you.
If you want a partner, take my hand.
Or if you want to strike me down in anger, here I stand.
I'm your man.
If you want a boxer, I will step into the ring for you.
And if you want a doctor, I'll examine every inch of you.
If you want a driver, climb inside.
Or if you want to take me for a ride, you can.
I'm your man..."
I start walking Trooper back down to the corral, hoping that the stifling hot weather will deter Jimmy from following me. Jimmy isn't the kind of guy to break a sweat unless he has money riding on it.
Unfortunately, I'm wrong.
"Come on, Bri!" Jimmy whines. "Wait up a minute!"
I keep walking. Jimmy catches up and falls into step beside me.
"Bet you're surprised to see me here, Bri."
Trooper snorts. I couldn't have said it better myself.
"Hilly said he was coming to see you and I graciously offered my jet to bring him down. Because I'm that kind of guy." Jimmy smirks. "So I decided to tag along. Princess Di pushed her way into it, but I figured what the hey? She wanted to see Baby Blue. No skin off my ass -- know what I mean?"
I glance sideways at Jimmy, trying not to roll my eyes. He doesn't even seem to be aware that Diane is having an affair -- if that's what you call it -- with Dorian. But then Jimmy isn't aware of much that doesn't impact him directly. And I'll be fucked if I'm going to play the game and make chitchat with him.
"Come on, Bri," Jimmy prods. "Aren't you happy to see me?" Then he lowers his voice -- God knows why, because there's no one else around. "You look fucking amazing. Do you know that? I mean, you always look good, but there's something about the whole macho cowboy thing. Ron really knew what he was doing when he wanted to put you in a Western. I bet he used to get hard thinking about it. Did he ever tell you that? I mean, about his fantasies and shit like that?"
That fucking tears it. I stop short and Trooper, startled, shies away, shaking his head. Jimmy jumps back, thinking the horse is freaking out.
"Do you ever know when to keep your trap shut, Jimmy?" I ask pointedly. "Or have you been so indulged by Tess and Lew and the studio and your personal assistants and other assorted ass-kissers in this business that you no longer know when enough is fucking enough? That you no longer understand the meaning of the word 'boundary'? Or of the phrase 'Go away and leave me the fuck alone'? But I'll try it one more time and maybe you'll finally get it: Go away and leave me the fuck alone!"
Jimmy screws up his face in an attempt to look contrite. Instead he only looks constipated. "I'm sorry I mentioned Ron. And I shouldn't have asked about that fantasy stuff. I know that was crossing the line."
I look at him with disgust. "You'll never get it, will you? A sledgehammer to the head wouldn't even do it." And I start to walk again.
But Jimmy keeps trotting along with me. "Bri, we need to talk. Seriously."
"No, actually, we don't. Seriously."
"Tess is causing me problems over the divorce. She's making some unreasonable demands. She's threatening to limit my access to Annie. We're supposed to have joint custody, but Annie is going to be living with Tess most of the time. You know that Tess can make my life a living hell if she wants to. She told me she doesn't want you staying with me in Malibu, especially if Annie is there. And she doesn't want us to be seen together in public. I mean, as a couple. I told her it was none of her business, but she seems to think Annie would be hurt by any kind of gossip about us. I think that's bullshit, but you know Tess. She's a bitch about things like that!"
"Well, then I guess you won't have anything to worry about, Jimmy. Because I'm not planning to stay with you at your place in Malibu or anywhere else with you. And we won't be seen in public as a couple because we aren't a couple. And we're not going to BE a couple. Not now and not any time in the future. I'm with Justin and I'm staying with Justin. Any 'relationship' we have is, frankly, a figment of your warped imagination. That said, if I were you I would get into your limo, have your driver take you back to Tucson, and fly your jet back to L.A. immediately. Or sooner."
Jimmy smiles sheepishly. "I know you're still mad at me, Bri. That little scene after the Oscars was... um... uncomfortable. I know it caused some trouble between you and Baby Blue. And it was the last straw for Tess. But, hey! Shit happens, right? Lew and Howie were all in my face when I told them I wanted to come out in 'People' or even 'Time' -- a cover story, of course! Lew said it would ruin my career and Howie told me I was fucking nuts. But what they're really concerned about is how it would impact the release of 'Crash Course.' Then that idiot Chuckie Ranger got arrested with the tranny blowing him. That was pretty funny! Serves the homophobic bastard right! Now anything I say is going to look classy compared to that. Because I'm a class act! You and me, Bri -- both class acts!"
Jimmy just keeps talking. It's as if he believes that if he stops talking he will cease to exist. Like a shark that has to keep moving or die.
The thing about Jimmy is that he's not used to anyone saying no to him. He's been a star for so long -- 20 years -- that being surrounded by Yes Men is the norm. Yes, Jimmy, that sounds wonderful! Of course, Jimmy, whatever you want! Certainly, Jimmy, you're the boss/the king/the Most Powerful Actor in Show Business/America's Boy Next Door. Blah blah blah! Ad nauseam.
However, recently people have been saying no to Jimmy Hardy. His wife. His agent. Howie Sheldon and Terra Nova Studio. And me -- whatever the fuck I am. Or was. And Jimmy doesn't like it. He can't deal with it. Running up against a brick wall frustrates him and mystifies him.
"Come on, Bri! This is Jimmy! Don't tune me out!" He realizes that I'm not going to cave in. That I'm barely even listening to him. And there's a desperate tone to his voice that I've rarely heard before. "Please, Bri!"
We reach the corral and Lee, one of the younger wranglers, takes Trooper. Lee does a double take when he sees Jimmy Hardy standing there, but then he recovers and nods at him. I tend to forget just how famous Jimmy is, even among people who work in the business. Jimmy grins at the guy, charming him as he does everyone. "That Jimmy Hardy!" he'll tell all his pals. "What a great guy! Just like a regular person, too!"
Sure. A regular person. My fucking ass!
We walk back up to my trailer in silence.
"So, Bri," Jimmy finally says when we're almost there. "What am I supposed to do now? I mean -- what the fuck do I do? Tess has already given me the old heave-ho. Ron is dead. And now you..." He pauses dramatically, his face a tragic mask. Jimmy isn't a two-time Academy Award winner for nothing. "You're rejecting me, too. After all I've done for you! You never would have gotten the part of Bobby if it hadn't been for me! I made certain that Ross Preston would run away with his tail between his legs because I wanted YOU and nobody else! And this is what I get in return? This is how you treat me? That's bullshit, Bri! Complete bullshit!"
Jimmy is shouting now. Some tech guys, a few of the wardrobe people, and various odd crew members have come out of their trailers and tents and are staring in fascination as America's Boy Next Door has a meltdown in the middle of camp.
"Jimmy, tone it down. You need to get a grip on yourself," I warn, lowering my own voice. "This isn't the time or the place to talk about this." Especially when gossip is the number one leisure activity on a remote location. That much I've already learned.
"I love you, Bri!" Jimmy yells defiantly. "And you told me that you loved me, too! I broke up my marriage for you! And now you want to screw me over! Well, fuck you!"
"You know that's a lie," I tell him, trying not to sink to Jimmy's level and have a screaming match with him. "You know I've never said anything like that!"
His face turns bright red. Jimmy Hardy denied is Jimmy Hardy having a temper tantrum worthy of a two-year-old. "Fuck you!" he screams again. "FUCK YOU!"
And suddenly Diane is there. And Justin, too, along with Avi, the assistant go-fer or whatever he is. Justin comes up to me and touches my arm, as if reassuring himself that I'm still there. Yes, I'm here. For what that's worth.
Diane goes over to Jimmy and speaks to him softly, like she'd soothe a hysterical child. Her voice is too hushed for me to hear what she's saying, but whatever it is, it works. Jimmy quiets down. She takes Jimmy's hand. Then Avi leads Diane and Jimmy in the direction of Dorian's trailer, which is on the other side of camp. Dorian isn't going to be happy about this. No one is going to happy about this situation, but in the end I'm afraid Jimmy is the one who's going to lose out.
"What's going to happen now?" Justin asks.
"No fucking clue," I reply. And that's the truth.
"Um... Brian?" says another voice.
I turn around. Hilly is standing there in his wilted suit, looking miserable. I'd completely forgotten that he's here. Or that he's the reason Jimmy is here. I guess I should be angry at Hilly, but it's not really his fault. Once Jimmy sets his mind to do something, he's like a tornado that mows down everything in its path. But I'm not about to let myself -- or Justin, for that matter -- get flattened by him.
"You have some papers for me to sign," I state simply.
"Yes." Hill looks relieved that I'm ready to do business. Now he's on solid ground. Dealing with movie stars in the middle of career-killing meltdowns is not part of his job. At least it's not supposed to be. Poor bastard!
"Let's go in my trailer and I'll sign them. Then you can get back home. All right?"
"All right," says Hilly. Then he adds, "Thank God."
If only it were that easy. Because he's not home free. Not yet.
None of us are.
I come out of the shower and Justin is waiting with a towel.
"Ah, the personal assistant all ready to personally assist me," I say with a leer. Then I notice that he's changed into a clean shirt. "But you aren't exactly undressed for the job."
"Avi was just here. We're expected at dinner with Dorian, Diane, and Clint. And Jimmy, of course. Avi said we should go over around 7:30 for cocktails."
Great. A cocktail party in the fucking desert. "I don't do cocktails," I remind him.
"I know." Justin shakes his head. "We could blow it off..."
"Sounds like a plan." I drop my towel. "You can start by blowing me right here."
Justin ignores me and continues. "...but Avi made it sound like a command more than an invitation. And with both Jimmy AND Clint there..."
"Shit," I say. "I thought I made it pretty clear to Jimmy that he's here on a fool's errand. He should be on his way back to Malibu as we speak."
Justin gazes at me pityingly. "Did you really think he'd give up that easily?"
"No," I admit. "But I thought my innate charm and powers of persuasion would do the trick."
"It's your 'innate charm' that got you into this mess with Jimmy in the first place," Justin points out. "That and your 9-inch dick."
"Leave it to you to get to the heart of the matter." I open the tiny closet in the bedroom, looking for something to wear. I back up two inches and bump my aching legs against the bedframe. "Goddamn it! This fucking trailer is going to kill me!"
"You better not be cursing it yet, Brian," Justin says. "We haven't even been living here a week. We still have a long, long way to go on this shoot."
"I know. I'm just frustrated!" But my biggest frustration isn't the size of this bedroom. It isn't anything in the trailer. In fact, if we could stay cocooned in the trailer for the next month I think I could survive fairly well.
I finally select a pair of white seersucker Marc Jacob pants and a light green Versace shirt. Something cool. Because I have a feeling it's going to get hot at dinner -- and I don't mean the weather!
We're almost ready to walk over when there's a knock on the door.
"That must be Avi, reminding us to get a move on," says Justin, going to the door.
"Hiya, Baby Blue! It's time for din-din!" And Jimmy elbows his way inside.
"I thought you were already over there, Jimmy. Or else safely locked away in a closet in Dorian's trailer."
"Dorian shoved me off on one of his AD's," Jimmy grumbles. "Nick Something. I think Dori and Princess Di wanted to get down and dirty while I cooled my heels! Now, I ask you -- is that hospitable? And good old Nick's trailer is a dump! It's half the size of this one and messy as hell! I think I'll sleep in here tonight." He sits down on the built-in sofa as if to test it out. "This looks pretty comfy!"
"You'll be even more comfortable if you go home," Justin pronounces, crossing his arms in front of his chest. "Then you can sleep in your own bed!"
But Jimmy only grins. But it's not a friendly grin. It's more like a painful, scary grimace. "Aw, what fun is that, Baby Blue?"
"This isn't a vacation resort," I tell him bluntly. "This is a film set. We're working here. You ought to know that better than anyone."
"All work and no play makes Brian a Crabby Appleton!" Jimmy retorts. "And I ought to know THAT better than anyone!"
Jesus. I think Jimmy is finally fucking losing it. "Give it up, Jimmy."
"You first, Bri."
"It's time to go to Dorian's dinner," I state. "You realize he's only doing this because of you, don't you?"
"Everywhere I go is a party! So we'll 'Party Hardy'! Get it?" Jimmy laughs insanely at his own lame joke.
Justin cuts me a look that says, he really is crazy, isn't he? And I can only nod.
Outside the trailer Hilly is slumped in a lawn chair. He jumps up when he sees us and follows us to the catering tent. "One of the drivers said he'd take me to Tucson after we eat. Then I can get a flight back to L.A. first thing in the morning."
I turn to Jimmy. "I thought your limo was going to take Hilly to the airport so he could fly back tonight?"
Jimmy shrugs. "I might need that car this evening. In case we decide to go out somewhere."
Im-fucking-possible! "Jimmy, we're in the middle of the goddamn desert! The nearest town consists of three stores, a pizza place, and a Mexican restaurant. It's not like we're going out clubbing after dinner!"
"We might want to drive around the desert," Jimmy suggests. "We could look for UFO's. Don't they have UFO's out here somewhere?"
"That's Roswell. It's in New Mexico. This is Arizona." Justin rolls his eyes.
"Arizona, New Mexico -- what's the difference?" Jimmy chortles. "It's all cactuses!"
"I'm sorry about this," I say to Hilly. "I'll make certain you get home tomorrow morning even if Justin and I have to drive you to Tucson ourselves."
"Don't worry about it, Brian," Hilly replies. "It's part of my job to shlep out to where the client is." He smiles weakly. "A little inconvenience is no big deal. I called my wife and explained the situation to her. And she understands. At least she said that she understands."
I pat Hilly on the shoulder. "I'll write her a note if she doesn't believe it. That should get you off the hook."
"And I'll write one, too!" Jimmy pipes up.
"I appreciate the offer," Hilly says to Jimmy through gritted teeth. "But it's not necessary."
When we get to the tent it's already buzzing with activity. I see Nick and Rowan downing shots with another of the AD's, while the heads of Make-Up, Wardrobe, and the Art Director are sipping Cosmos. Some people from catering are putting food on a buffet table, which is covered with white linen and lit with candles.
"There are a lot more people here than I thought there'd be," says Justin. "Avi made it sound like it would just be Dorian and a few of the actors."
"Apparently word got out that Dorian was throwing the soiree of the season. Let's find a dark corner. I'd like to eat and get the hell out of here as quickly as possible."
Justin and I spot a quiet table and we grab a couple of bottles of water from the bar. Hilly follows us. Thankfully, Jimmy disappears for the time being.
"Brian, I know this is none of my business, but what's up with Jimmy?" Hilly asks. "I know he's a little... off sometimes, but I've never known him to be such a shmuck. Why would he promise to bring me down here and take me back and then leave me high and dry?"
What can I tell Hilly? He's my business manager, not my therapist. Although I think even Julius Gorowitz would be hard pressed to know what's going on in Jimmy Hardy's screwed up head at this moment.
"He's having a rough time lately." That sounds good. And it's also true. "Without Tess he's a loose cannon. And ever since Ron died he's been fixated on making me his new 'best friend.'" Justin makes a scoffing sound and I kick him under the table. "But I can't put my own life on hold in order to cater to Jimmy's whims. So he's bit... um... aimless right now."
"Aimless isn't the word for it," Justin mutters.
"Can it, twerp," I warn. "Or I'll tie your balls in a knot."
"Promises, promises," Justin sighs.
"I don't get it," says Hilly. "I thought all those crazy rumors about Jimmy Hardy being in love with you were a bunch of hooey. But it's true, isn't it? Jesus! I thought Jimmy was the straightest guy in town!" Hilly peers at me closely. "What is it about you, Brian? Should I be worried?"
"No, Hilly," I reassure him. "You have nothing to worry about." Right -- as if! "And Jimmy IS straight. He's only a bit confused. You know how some of these big stars get. He's lonely and needy and he thinks that I can cure that. But I can't. And the sooner Jimmy realizes that, the better." Jesus! Now I sound like Sylvia, with all the buzzwords and psycho-babble. But with Jimmy, it fits.
Hilly shakes his head slowly. "Good luck with that, Brian. Because you're going to need it!"
People begin to gravitate to the buffet table. "Excuse me, fellows," says Hilly, getting up. "But I'm starving!" And he bolts for the food.
"What are we going to do about Jimmy?" asks Justin. "He's not going to leave unless we put him in a laundry bag and have him carried away!"
"If that's what it takes," I reply. "You get the bag, I'll put him in it."
"What did he say to you when you walked down to the corral?"
"The usual. Crazy shit. Frankly, I think Jimmy is about ready to implode. Now that Tess is out of the picture there's nothing to keep him from making a complete ass of himself -- and dragging me along with him!"
"Shit," Justin whispers.
And that's when Dorian comes over. He's dressed like he's going to dinner in London or Rome, from his Prada boots to his Gucci ascot. In other words, he looks vaguely ridiculous in a tent in the Arizona desert.
Dorian clears his throat like he's about to make a speech. "Brian, I have a bit of a dilemma. Jimmy has requested that you sit next to him at the main table. But then Clint also commanded that you sit with him. So you can see that I have a slight problem keeping both of them happy."
"There's actually no problem at all," I say, leaning back. "Because I'll be sitting right here in this cozy little corner. Me and Justin and Hilly. If you and Diane want to join us, pull up a folding chair."
Dorian looks tragic. "Please, Brian! It's only for dinner! You wouldn't want me to lose face in front of Clint, would you? And none of us want Jimmy to make a scene."
Jimmy making a scene. How bad can it be? I look at Justin and he shakes his head. Yeah, it could be pretty bad. Especially in Jimmy's state of mind. "I think you better do it," says Justin. "Then maybe Jimmy will leave."
"Faint hope," Dorian sighs. "But please do, Brian."
So I pick up my bottle of water and follow Dorian to a table set up at the very back of the tent. Clint is already there, Diane on his left side. She gives me a little wave and I lean over and give her a quick kiss. Then I sit my ass on the chair to Clint's right. And a moment later Jimmy slides into the seat on my other side.
"Did you miss me, Bri?" Jimmy smirks. But I ignore him.
"Dorian whipped up quite a spread here on short notice. You should have some of the roast beef, Brian," says Clint, motioning to one of the catering staff to come over. "It's pretty good."
"Yeah, that would be fine." I ask the waiter to bring me a plate with some roast beef and salad. "But no potatoes. And no gravy. Thanks."
"You gotta eat more than that, Brian," says Clint. "Don't you have Cowboy Camp tomorrow? You need to fuel up to keep up your strength."
"Brian likes to look after his girlish figure," Jimmy says. I note that his own plate is almost empty, but he's swilling quite a lot of Johnny Walker, straight from the bottle. I have an overwhelming urge to grab his Scotch and take a long, hard drink. But I stop myself. Count to ten. Wait. Let the feeling pass. And it does pass. That's one of the exercises Sylvia taught us in Group. I guess rehab was good for something after all.
"He looks okay to me," Clint sniffs. "And I don't see anything 'girlish' about him, Hardy. Can't say the same about you, though."
Jimmy bristles. He's vain about his so-called athletic skills, which consist mainly of beating overweight agents and other flunkies at tennis. "I'm in great shape!" he boasts. "I bet I could beat your ass on the tennis court, Clint! You should come over to the house some Sunday and give me a game." Jimmy has obviously forgotten that he no longer has a tennis court because he no longer lives at his big house in Beverly Hills. That's where Tess and Annie are living, while Jimmy is in his Malibu hideaway.
"I'm almost 73 years old," Clint says in that slow, breathy, dangerous voice. "But I can kick your ass any day of the week at anything, Hardy. And don't you forget that. This is MY set and this is MY picture. And Brian is MY co-star. And I don't appreciate you coming here for the purpose of causing trouble."
"I didn't come here to cause trouble," Jimmy growls. All of his happy-go-lucky America's Boy Next Door persona has vanished now, replaced by the ruthless Jimmy that lurks underneath it. "I came here to see my pal. Not that it's any of your fucking business, Clint."
"Everything on this set is my business," Clint states. "I think it's pretty clear that Brian doesn't want you showing up here without an invitation -- and I'll concur with that. So I think that as soon as you finish your bottle, you had better get that ass into your limo, drive back to Tucson, and then fly home. And I mean tonight."
Jimmy glares at Clint. "Fuck you, Eastwood!"
"Don't even think about it," Clint answers. And he stares back at Jimmy. That's a look no man wants to see -- Clint Eastwood staring you down.
And Jimmy cracks. I can almost hear something breaking inside of him.
"Brian!" Jimmy turns to me, pleadingly. "Help me out here! You and me, right, buddy? Right, Bri?"
"I think you better leave, Jimmy," I say firmly. "You don't belong here. You know that."
Jimmy recoils as if I hit him. "But Bri... You and me," he repeats. "You and me."
"There's no 'you and me.' There never was." I have to look away. "It was just a fuck." I lower my voice, but I know Clint can hear me. And if he thinks less of me from now on, that's just the chance I'll have to take. "There was Ron and me, and then Justin and me. That's all it's ever been. And now that things are back on track with Justin I'm not going to do anything to fuck it up. Even if that means cutting you loose completely. We made a great movie together and we... we had a few good times. But it was never anything more than that. So go home, Jimmy. Get your life in order. And move on."
"Fuck you, too, Bri," Jimmy says softly. But then he leaps to his feet, calling as much attention to himself as he can. "Fuck you! It's over between us! That's IT! If you want to suck up to Eastwood, go ahead! But I don't think he's buying what you're selling! And I do mean selling, Bri! Because everyone knows what you are! Everyone! That's how you played Ron and that's how you played me. And your esteemed director, Mr. Folco, too. Everybody's had a piece of you! But I'm not playing that game anymore. I'm finished with you! Fucking finished! Do you hear me, Bri? Do you?"
While Jimmy is ranting Dorian goes over and takes his arm, leading him out of the tent. The whole place has gone silent, listening as Jimmy keeps up the tirade even as he and Dorian walk away. I see Hilly go running after them. Probably hoping to catch a ride back to L.A.
I feel a light touch on my arm and I turn. Justin has slipped into the chair Jimmy just vacated. He looks at me. He doesn't need to say a fucking thing.
Clint picks up Jimmy's bottle of Johnny Walker and hands it to one of the waiters. "Can you get rid of this, please? And bring us all some more water. It's hot as a crotch in this tent." Clint leans back in his chair, a slight smile on his face. "I'm looking forward to starting our scenes next week, Brian. You want to get together with Dorian over the weekend to talk about a few things? I'm not big on rehearsing -- I like my acting to be spontaneous -- but it would be good if we were on the same page, don't you think? I always like to be on the same page with my co-stars."
"Me, too," I say. I know the relief is evident in my voice, but I don't give a fuck. Because it's all going to be fine now. "On the same page is good for me, too."
"Ah, the moon's too bright, the chain's too tight,
The beast won't go to sleep.
I've been running through these promises to you that I made and could not keep.
But a man never got a lover back, not by begging on his knees.
Or I'd crawl to you, baby, and I'd fall at your feet.
And I'd howl at your beauty like a dog in heat.
And I'd claw at your heart. And I'd tear at your sheet.
I'd say please, please.
I'm your man.
And if you've got to sleep a moment on the road, I will steer for you.
And if you want to work the street alone, I'll disappear for you.
If you want a father for your child, or only want to walk with me
a while across the sand,
I'm your man."
Continue on to "Included".
©Gaedhal, May 2007.
Posted May 20, 2007.