This is Chapter 30 of the "Queer Identities" series.
The narrator is Rexford Walcott, and features Justin
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Just a quiet afternoon in West Hollywood. Los Angeles, July 2003.
Disclaimer: This is for fun, not profit.
"My phone's on vibrate for you,
Electroclash is karaoke too.
I tried to dance Britney Spears,
I guess I'm getting on in years.
My phone's on vibrate for you,
God knows what all these new drugs do.
I guess to have no more fears
But still I always end up in tears."
Top of the world!
That's from some movie. Can't recall which one. Old film. Black and white. But it fits.
Top of the world!
Nice seat. Nice view. Some writers have offices. Everett Garfield, my collaborator on my latest article, has an office across from the Beverly Center. And a secretary. And a personal assistant. Of course, he's been on the staff of 'Vanity Fair' for twelve years, so he can afford an office.
But I like a looser style. I like to be on the street, as it were. Down with the people. Mixing it up.
Actually, I'm on the terrace, which is even better. Watching the passing parade. A coffeeshop in West Hollywood with a clear view of Santa Monica Boulevard is just the ticket. I'm close to Beverly Hills, close to Hollywood, close to all the studios, and, even more importantly, close to the bars and clubs on Sunset and environs where all the pretty people of Los Angeles go to get into trouble.
Everyone knows where to find me -- my contacts, my friends, even my enemies. And my subjects. I can keep track of everyone and everything from here. All I need is my mobile phone, my laptop, my camera, and plenty of coffee to keep me fueled.
And speaking of coffee...
"Yes, Luv, I'll have a triple latte. Thanks."
New waitress. Cute girl. Nice arse. Very nice. I think I'll give her a generous gratuity. That's the way I'm feeling. Magnanimous. Especially today.
Beautiful day. Yes. Quite beautiful.
"Thanks, Luv. Ta. Rexford Walcott is the name, but you may call me Rex. Why, yes, I am British. Oh, you wouldn't have heard of it. Tiny place. Thetford. A mere spot on the map, as my old mum used to say. But I went to school in London. And I live here in Los Angeles now."
I love playing the Brit card. Americans, provincial snobs that they are, are so impressed by anything British. That makes it easy. So very easy.
Yes, very nice arse. And big tits, too.
"Why don't you give me your number, Luv. I'll ring you up and we can go out for a bite. What's your name? Kimberly. Lovely name. Oh, you're an actress. What a coincidence. I'm an entertainment journalist. I've written for numerous publications. I have a piece coming out in 'Vanity Fair' tomorrow."
Another aspiring actress. Yawn. I hope I don't have to look at her headshots or any of that chuff. But it might be worth a glance if I get to see those tits afterwards. More than just the tits.
"Yes, 'Vanity Fair.'"
That impresses even this little waitress -- I mean aspiring actress. 'Vanity Fair.' The sound of it trips off the tongue.
This will be the making of me. No more hiding in bushes, trying to catch some closeted soap star sneaking out of his boyfriend's apartment in the middle of the night. No more waiting outside of the gate of some third-rate rock star who has bolted from his umpteen stint in rehab. No more being just one more faceless stringer, trying to get another picture, another quote, from Tom Cruise or Simone Merle.
'Vanity Fair' -- that means class.
That means having a press pass and going to the front of the line. That means an automatic invitation to the party after the Oscars. That means contact. Real contact. And contact is everything.
"Oh, I've been writing for them a while." That's a bit of an exaggeration, but how's she to know that? "Fine organization. Wonderful group of writers."
Actually, the fact that my name is on the piece at all is a frigging miracle. I heard that Ev Garfield was working on a story about Ron Rosenblum and I called and -- er -- offered my services to him. I already had a backlog of material on both Rosenblum and his boyfriend, Brian Kinney, from when I was trailing them last year for 'The Sun.' I was able to make a slight killing after Kinney's outing scandal and then Rosenblum's death, but Kinney's been lying low recently -- first in rehab and then out in that damned desert. Losing my contact on the set was a bitch -- that driver was an idiot! But que sera, sera, as they say.
This is better. Bigger. I already have another assignment for a piece on Jimmy Hardy. I'll have to tread lightly with that one. Hardy is difficult. People love him. Adore him, even. By that I mean the fans. Not the people in Hollywood. Most of them know he's a two-faced phony. But when someone is beloved you must be careful. Fans don't want their bubble burst. They don't want to know that their favorite star is a crackhead, or beats his wife, or secretly chases after tranny hookers.
Fans don't want their dreams shattered.
That's why Kinney is an ideal subject. He's not well-known enough to be beloved. He's young and talented and extremely good-looking, so he has that in his favor. But he's also new. That makes him vulnerable. Fans aren't invested in him. At least not yet.
And he's a cocksucker. That also makes him vulnerable.
But Jimmy Hardy... If only Ev Garfield hadn't cut out all my material on Kinney and Jimmy Hardy! That was good stuff! But Ev was too fearful of losing his contacts. Too fearful of Terra Nova and Howard Sheldon.
Well, in my own piece I can write what I want. I'm not afraid of Hardy or his studio.
I'm not afraid of anything!
Top of the world!
"Yes, Kimberly Luv, I'd adore one of those pastries. Yes, the one with the custard. Put it on my tab, that's a dear."
Writing for 'Vanity Fair' will mean a steady paycheck. No more scrambling around, living by my wits, depending on tips from packing attendants and maids and drivers and security guards for my information. People will come to me. They will be eager to speak.
I'd love to get an interview with Mrs. Jimmy Hardy. Yes, the regal and distant Tess. She doesn't usually give interviews unless they are connected with one of her charities. But she's divorcing Hardy. That's always a sad time. So, so sad. She might want to talk. Unburden herself. I could offer her a forum to get her side of the story out. Lend a shoulder for her to cry on.
She will be lonely now. She might want to vent about her husband.
And about Brian Kinney.
That fellow certainly is everywhere these days! The number of men in this town who have had sex with him is mind-boggling. He must never sleep! And if my contacts in Pittsburgh -- dreadful place, by the way -- are to be believed, he has fucked every gay man -- and quite a number of straight ones -- between the ages of 15 and 65 within a fifty mile radius of the center of town!
Thank God I'm straight.
Yes, thank God.
That Kimberly -- she's looking better and better. Perhaps tonight...
"Excuse me? Mr. Walcott?"
I look up and see the last person I expected on this bright and lovely day.
The blond. The boytoy. Kinney's boytoy.
"Well, well, well -- to what to I owe the pleasure of a visit by you, Mr. Taylor?"
He stares at me. His eyes are very blue. Like little blue lasers. He thinks he can intimidate me. That's a laugh!
"You know why I'm here," he says.
"Oh, then have a seat." I pull out the chair next to me. "I'm glad you have come to your senses. I'll pay you a retainer of $100 weekly in exchange for general information about anyone you know, but if you have a really tasty tidbit, I'll pay you a bonus. $200, $500, even more if the information leads to a major scoop. Anything on Mr. Kinney, of course, is good, but you also know Jimmy Hardy. Any inside information on his divorce is golden. Or his secret sex life. I'm sure you know what I mean. And Diane Rhys, too. I believe you're also a friend of hers. Tell me -- is it true she was a high-priced call girl at Madame Renée's brothel in Westwood back in the day? I'm sure she has confided in you. Is that why she and Mr. Kinney are such good friends? They have that tawdry background in common."
He's very still, his hands clenched tightly into fists.
"Do you know what a miserable fucking piece of shit you are?" he says.
"On the contrary," I say, leaning back in my chair. "I'm a simple man, doing my job. And doing it very well, I might add. That's why everyone in town is talking about my article. And I mean everyone. In fact, that's all they are talking out. And it doesn't even come out until tomorrow. Word of mouth -- that's the secret. Everyone loves gossip. Except that my article on Mr. Rosenblum and Mr. Kinney isn't gossip. It's journalism. It's fact."
"It's bullshit," he states. "Complete horseshit!"
"Make up your mind, Mr. Taylor. Bull or horse? Both are large grazing animals, but not the same at all. And their shit is rather different as well. I know. I grew up in the country and can tell the difference between a bull and a horse."
"Shut the hell up!" he yells. "What is wrong with you? Why are you doing this to Brian? Why are you doing this to us?"
Now everyone in the place is looking this way. Good. I don't have a live audience very often. I like being a star. The center of attention. For a change.
"I'm not doing anything to you, Mr. Taylor, or to your boyfriend. I'm simply a reporter. I report facts. If your lover hadn't been a naughty boy in the past there would nothing for me to convey to my readers. But he has been a naughty boy, hasn't he? And you should know. You have been hurt by him not once, but many times. Just as he hurt Ron Rosenblum. Cheated on him. Betrayed him. Perhaps even killed him. How do you know he won't do the same to you? You're young. You think you can change him. But a leopard will not change his spots -- and neither will Brian Kinney."
The boy's face goes purple with rage. "You don't know anything about Brian! I love him and he loves me! He's made mistakes, but so did Ron. Big mistakes! But Brian never meant to hurt anyone. Not Ron, not me, not anyone! In fact, he saved my life. He even won an award -- the Gay Hero Award -- for saving me when I was bashed!"
"Oh," I say. "I thought he neglected to save you. He was right there when that fellow, that other student, hit you in the head with a baseball bat, isn't that true? That must have been ever so unpleasant. But Mr. Kinney stood by and let it happen, according to what I've read. He watched you being injured and didn't bother to stop your attacker. Perhaps he was afraid of being hurt himself. Afraid of getting his pretty face smashed by that bat. Which is sad, considering it was his fault that you two were flaunting yourselves at that school dance, making that young fellow so angry. The judge must have thought so, or he wouldn't have let your attacker get off with no jail time and a few hours of community service. See, Mr. Taylor? I've done my homework."
"You haven't done shit!" he retorts.
"And I believe a gay writer named Howard Bellweather -- a very well-respected man, I might add -- thought so too. What did he write? Something about Brian Kinney harming you even more than your schoolmate. So true, that. First, taking advantage of an underage boy, and then allowing him to be attacked."
"That's a fucking lie!" he steams. "Bellweather and that fucking judge and all of those people weren't there! They don't know what happened! Brian ran to stop Chris Hobbs, but he was too far away! He saved Hobbs from killing me!"
"Whatever you wish to believe," I turn away and wave to the little waitress. Kimberly. "I need a refill, Luv. And ask my friend here if he wishes anything. A coffee, perhaps, Mr. Taylor? My treat."
"So hostile," I sigh. "Of course, damaged people often defend their abusers. It's a classic example of denial. Besides, you depend on him for support, don't you? He pays for your clothes and lodging and food and school fees. All in exchange for your loyalty. And your sexual favors. I'm not into men -- or little boys -- but you must be quite a talented piece of ass, Mr. Taylor, for Brian Kinney to keep you around. Because he's fucked thousands. Really. It's an impressive number. But he keeps coming back to you. I'll give you credit for that much. He's a sexual addict, of course, as well as a drug addict and an alcoholic, so perhaps he can't help himself that he's so promiscuous. But I'd be careful if I were you. I'd be afraid of AIDS. From the research I've done it seems he's not infected with the HIV virus -- yet. But he will be eventually if he keeps up such a pace. It's unavoidable. So sad if he were to take you down with him in his inevitable fall."
The boy blinks. He's still so young. And so stupid. Pity what delusion will do.
"Why do you hate Brian? Tell me! Are you jealous of his success? His fame? Did you hit on him and have him reject you? Is that it? Are you a closet queen trying to get even?"
"Me? A closet queen? That's the funniest thing I've heard all day!" I laugh. "I don't do men. I'm strictly a woman's man. If you want to talk about closet queens, give me some information about your boyfriend and Jimmy Hardy. Or your boyfriend and Peter Bridges. But me? No. I am interested in Brian Kinney because he's a good story. The rise of a star sells a lot of newsprint, but the fall of one sells even more. And Brian Kinney's star was born to take a long, hard fall. That's my interest in him."
"You're the liar," he says. "The way you twist things, the way you make things seem all turned around from the way they really happened. You have no idea about me and Brian. You have no idea about anyone! All you want to do is destroy people because you're nothing yourself. And you can't stand to see someone who is successful. Like Brian. Can't stand to see people live their lives. Can't you just leave people alone! Leave us alone!"
"Sorry, my lad," I say. Kimberly brings my refill. "Thanks, Luv. I'm sure you'll remember the way I like it next time."
"Of course, Mr. Walcott," she flutters. She glances at Justin Taylor. "But if you two gentlemen could keep it down? Please? The manager doesn't want any trouble."
"He doesn't want trouble?" Taylor pipes up. "Then he should tell this rotten sack of shit to get lost and never come back!"
"My friend is upset," I explain to Kimberly. "His boyfriend is in the middle of a rather nasty scandal and he's afraid of losing his meal ticket."
"My meal ticket?" he repeats.
"Yes. Brian Kinney knows a lot about leeching off other men, as he did off Ron Rosenblum -- until the man died. And he's teaching you the same thing. To be a little whore, just like he is."
I admit that I don't see it coming. I should have. He's short and not at all pumped up, but he's an angry little bastard. A sucker punch in the mouth is what I should have been expecting.
And that's how I find myself on the ground, with my fresh latte all over my new shirt.
"Oh! Mr. Walcott!" Kimberly wails. Everyone in the cofeeshop is on their feet, looking to see what will happen next.
"I say! There was no call for violence!"
"Get up!" Taylor urges. He actually has his fists up, like he thinks he's Oscar de la Hoya. It's laughable.
"That was a luck punch," I point out. "Now go home before I summon the authorities."
"Get up!" he cries. "Be a fucking man! Or are you afraid of getting knocked out by a little faggot?"
"You couldn't knock me out if you brought an army of your fluffy little poofter mates to help you, Mr. Taylor." I get to my feet slowly.
"Wanna bet?" he spits. Two men step forward and grab his arms, holding him back.
The manger elbows his way through the throng. "What's going on here?"
"No harm done," I say. "A slight disagreement."
"I'm going to kill this motherfucker!" says Taylor, struggling against the men. "I want everyone here to know that! This guy is a lying, sneaking, lousy piece of shit. And if he takes one step in my direction, I'll punch him again!"
"That's enough! Please leave!" the manager orders the boy. "Or I'll call the police!"
"Go ahead, call them!" he says smugly. "But I bet Mr. Piss-in-His-Pants Walcott doesn't want the cops to come. Because he doesn't want his tabloid buddies to know that a fag half his size kicked his ass. And I'll do it again, too, the first chance I get!"
"I said there was no harm done," I tell the manager. "I'm not injured. Hardly a scratch. See?" I point to my face. But the truth is that my jaw is aching and I can taste blood. That little son of a bitch! And my back doesn't feel well, either. I landed right on my hipbone and that smarts! "This young gentleman has a personal grudge against me and he's immature enough to act upon it."
"Fuck you!" he shouts.
"Are you going to leave?" The manager is a big man. Another waiter, a hulking Latino, comes out and backs up the manager. "I don't want any trouble here!"
Justin Taylor shakes himself, adjusting his shirt. "I'm going. But I better not see you again, Walcott. Ever! Stay away from Brian! I mean it!" He stops and then reaches into his pocket, taking out his mobile phone. "Hi, Brian. Yeah, I had it on vibrate. Oh, nothing. Just driving around. Yeah, I'll be home shortly. I love you. Bye."
"Daddy's calling," I say. "Time to run home like a good boy."
But Taylor only glares at me. He takes one step forward.
"Break it up!" warns the manager.
"Okay. I'm going," says the lad sullenly. "Remember what I said, Walcott. You'll be sorry for writing that article! I mean it!"
"I'm so terrified." I sit back down in my chair. "Absolutely terrified. Can't you tell?"
"You like ruining people." His voice is suddenly softer. "I feel sorry for you. Nothing means anything to you. No one is important. Nothing has any value. That's tragic."
"Your boyfriend's career," I return with a laugh. "That's the tragic thing."
He shakes his head and walks away, off the terrace and down Santa Monica Boulevard.
The manager and Kimberly can't do enough for me after that. They bring me a fresh triple latte and another pastry. On the house, of course. I'm sure I'll get free food and good service here from now on. A slight punch in the face is worth that. And Kimberly -- I know she'll be congenial when I call her tonight. Very congenial. Those tits. Lovely!
I settle back in my chair, watching the passing parade.
Everything back to normal.
I take out my mobile and check through my numbers. I find the one I need.
"Hello? Lt. Xavier? Rexford Walcott here. No, I'm not looking for information today. I need you to do something for me. I want to swear out a complaint. Someone has assaulted me. Yes, I can get a doctor's report. Yes, I have been injured and it's quite painful."
Xavier is one of my best contacts in the LAPD. He owes me a favor. A number of favors, actually.
"I was attacked at a coffeeshop on Santa Monica and I have witnesses. His name? Justin Taylor of 253 Creekside Canyon in Beverly Hills. Got that? Good. I'll come right down and sign a complaint. Thanks ever so, Lieutenant."
Justin Taylor will be sorry he decided to fuck with Rex Walcott.
Silly little poof.
He'll find out.
"My phone's on vibrate for you,
But still I never ever feel from you.
Pinocchio's now a boy
who wants to turn back into a toy.
So call me,
Call me the morning, call me in the night.
So call me,
Call me anytime you like.
My phone's on vibrate
For you, for you."
©Gaedhal, January 2009.
Posted January 6, 2009.