Time to really celebrate. But first I have to see Nicky Beat and his girlfriend Alice at the Canterbury to help rent an apartment. At $100 a month, I can certainly afford it. The location is right off Hollywood Blvd. I’m not looking for luxury. I can visit Jake for that. Which reminds me of our meeting that night to discuss the movie’s score. Would Jack’s jealousy raise its hateful head when they meet. I’ll warn Jake that Jack is only there for the night; he can be discreet. Will Jack sense my real feelings towards him because he is back in my heart? All I can do is navigate the still but dangerous waters of cheating. The truth is my success in Hollywood depends on my sexual attraction to almost everyone I meet. I need to not become one of the typical players I see around me.
As we drive down Cahuenga Blvd, I sense Jack examining why I suddenly became so quiet. He slowly expands the trust that allows him to sense my true feelings.
“So much has changed,” he complains, “in just the few weeks we’ve been separated. Will you ever come back to Harvard?”
“We have finals in two weeks. I’ll be there for Christmas and the St Paul’s Choir performance. And don’t we want to be in Miami for the holidays?”
He smiles, knowing I’m not lying. Trust is powerful. Then it bites you on the butt. Jace reassures me that the truth will out, so why delay the inevitable. Jack’s expression changes when he realizes I’m struggling with something to do with us. I give him a smile and our hearts are one, at least until the next crisis.
Nicky is glad to see me. He is really friendly, happy to meet my band mate. Finding out that I’ve been the Mower band’s drummer, he insists he give me a lesson on the Pearl set he has in their one room apartment.
“You can play drums here?” I ask.
He flexes and assures me no one complains. Jack claims he needs the lesson, as he has to take my place on the Mower drums. While they bang away, Alice leads me to the manager’s office. Without the Chola makeup, she looks normal and quite striking.
“You like Latinas,” she notices.
“I still love my first girlfriend from when I was 14.”
“You’re still together?”
“No. She lives in the Bronx. I finally realized my best friend there was pining for her but he would never say anything that would ruin our friendship.”
“Sounds like junior high.”
“By that time, we were in high school. I knew a long distance relationship is doomed. I told them both to get over me. They kissed right there in front of me. It was so innocent. Now they’ll be married before I see them again.”
“You set up your girlfriend with your best friend?”
“He was the kid next door.”
“In the Bronx?”
“Well, down the block.”
“Ei, miyo, que lactimas.”
“Si, estoy un pendayo.”
Alice introduces me to the manager, who looks harried and none too anxious to oblige anyone. Alice assures her that I have a job and I am reliable. She says I’m 21. The Canterbury is a big square, white, five-story apartment building. The hallway carpets are tattered and lead down dingy, narrow corridors. The room she shows is on the third floor with one window looking across at a similar room in the opposite wing. The bathroom has a ventilation window that opens on a narrow shaft leading down to the basement and up to the roof. It is furnished with a Murphy bed that folds out from a wall, a couch and a table with four chairs. There’s a walk-in kitchen with stove and refrigerator. The bathroom has a tub with a shower curtain. My own place – a first. I’m ecstatic and write her a check for $200, first and last month’s rent.
“Let me know when you’re moving out,” the manager says, stoically accepting I’m just passing through.
I know Jack is not that happy for me, fearing I’ll never return to Harvard. I ask Jace to tell him we’ll all inaugurate the bed together. He smiles at me once Jace makes the suggestion. I thank Alice and Nicky for all their help.
“Are you getting a phone?” Nicky asks.
“Why not?” I’m floating on air.
“Think we could use it sometime.”
“Why not?” I’m oblivious to excess phone charges. I become their new best friend.
We literally run down the hall to my new room, stripping off our shirts in the hallway and everything else once we’re behind a closed-door. Jace is struggling with the Murphy bed. Ghostly muscles are not up to the task. It doesn’t take long working together to get it down. Our dicks display complete readiness to go at each other. I’m the center of a three-way fuck sandwich. Murphy is showing its age with groaning, squeaky springs . We roll from one side to the other, so Jack and Jace alternate being on top. Jace nears his typical rush to climax without slowing down. He ignores my messages for Jack, blinded by his own orgasm. I try to reach Jack myself.
I laughed. “You’re next, then.”
I squeeze and hold rigid for Jace as he explodes inside me. He falls off my back. I roll him to his stomach and position Jack on top to fuck him. I remain deep inside Jack, riding his fucking rhythm into Jace. I run my fingers through Jack’s longish hair, pulling and massaging his scalp as I thrust into him. Jace’s face is smothered by a pillow, pretending he can’t breathe with both of us on top of him. I roll us sideways, with Jace taking a fake gasp for air. I laugh at his efforts to not seem dead.
“Why are you laughing?” Jack demands without missing a beat on Jace’s ass.
It’s too macabre to explain, so I quicken my strokes into him. My dick twists back and the first spurt erupts. Jack is right behind me (actually I’m right behind and in him) as we both come simultaneously. Murphy stops squeaking and groaning. I want to fall asleep but know we need to shower. There are no towels. In fact, there’s nothing there but a dirty mattress. Time to hit Sears, ‘where David Bowie shops.’ It is in East Hollywood near Sunset and Western. Jack goes crazy on the BankAmericard, insisting it is a house-warming gift.
“From the Homecoming Queen,” I joke.
All three of us sing ‘Daydream Believer,’ right there in the store.
Nobody stops to listen to our impromptu concert. Shopping is serious business at Sears. Riding back in the Wreck, Jack cuddles next to me while Jace perches on top of the back seat, waving at everyone, as if anyone can see him. We carry up all the supplies and set up the apartment, inviting Nicky and Alice to be our first visitors. They ooh and ah about how nice we made it. Naturally we all need to go eat.
“Two Guys,” I announce. I feel totally at home with my own pizza hangout, a block away. Nicky makes me order three pizzas and takes one home for ‘later.’ He’s not a ‘one day at a time’ guy. Also, he isn’t a pot guy, so no post-pizza joint. We do finish off several pitchers of beer. No one is carded.
Then I remember I’m to meet Jake that night for dinner. I use a pay phone to call him and explain that my ‘college roommate’ has shown up and we reschedule. I feel badly that I treat him as second best for that night. Jack’s renewed ability to read my feelings makes him suspicious.
“He’s composing the movie score. We were to have dinner tonight.”
“Should I be jealous,” Jack instantly loses access to my heart. Nicky and Alice seem confused about Jack and me, the straight orgy king.
“He’s 42. You’re in better shape.”
There will be more questions later.
“Is that a problem?”
“I never knew anyone gay,” he confesses.
“You’re in a Hollywood band and know no one who’s gay?”
“Ya can’t be in a punk band if you’re a fag.”
“There’s rules about being a punk?”
“Yeah. No muscles, no money, and no homo tendencies.”
“Must be an exclusive club.”
“We have our standards.”
“That why old Safety Pin seems so conflicted?”
“You mean Bobby Pyn. He’s just a high school kid. He does seem confused with all those ugly chicks who follow him around.”
“We call them fag hags. It’s a sure sign.”
“He don’t like you,” Nicky gossips.
“Let’s get more pizza,” Nicky changes the subject.
“What about the one you set aside?” I ask.
“That’s for later.”
We pig out again with more pitchers of beer.
Walking back to the Canterbury, Nicky asks if we were going to Punk night at the Starwood. “Wouldn’t miss it,” I claim.
“Give us a ride in that convertible.”
“Don’t call it that. It’s a 50’s classic.” Nicky is into classic cars.
“No. It’s a Rent-a-Wreck. I Love the Wreck.”
“Have you filled it up yet?”
“I just put in $10 worth every once in a while.”
“Let it get down to empty. It’s got a 30-gallon tank. The dumb gas jockeys will only charge you $10 over what the pump says. Saves ya $10 every time.”
Gas has recently jumped to over a dollar per gallon. The old pumps only show a max of $9.99. When you pump more than 10 gallons, they add $10 to the reading. Nicky reminds me of Joey hustling in the City, except he does not do drugs.
“Don’t leave it with the top down. Yer gonna get robbed.”
“Ain’t nothin’ in it.”
“That’s not the problem.” He jump into the driver’s side. Fiddling under the steering wheel, he has it started in under 15 seconds.
“Hop in,” and we take off with Nicky driving. We pull into the Starwood parking lot. It’s early. The bouncers recognized Nicky, so we can park in the lot. It doesn’t feel safe now, leaving it anywhere, so we hang out in the car. It reminds me of our southern road trip at the road houses. I half expect Iggy to show up on a stolen motorbike. Other punks come over and hang out. I share more of Jimmy’s joints. Nicky doesn’t seem to mind, even though he refuses to partake. John and Dix Denney arrive, giving me the evil eye. The long stare is not just their stage act. Nicky explains that I am‘cool,’ even if I screwed over the band about the movie. The brothers smoke my pot and leave. Gerber has been with them, but she stays, taking an instant liking to Jack.
“I have a boyfriend,” he exclaims when she tried to stick her hand down his pants.
“Well, he ain’t around now,” she continues to pester him.
“Untrue. He’s sitting next to me.”
She has the body of a twelve-year-old with tits.
“He’s all mine tonight. He’s flying back to Boston tomorrow,” I demur. Jack looks surprised about his early exit.
“How’s that working out?”
“Jill complains that no one can read them, including Minehan.”
“I really have to work, Jack. I’m under suspicion for being gay there. You saw how that played out with Miller.”
“You want me to leave,” he whines more.
“She’s right,” Nicky agrees. He and Alice go inside as well. We follow them and get in for free with reentry stamps. While they go upstairs, I take Jack into the Disco side. The Paramount secretaries are there and surround us. They remember Jack as another of Joan Jett’s friends. He turns on the charm. We have five girls dancing with us. I take the youngest looking secretary over to Rodney who is DJing as usual. He’s glad to play Runaways songs for her, insisting she come up and chose the tracks to play. ‘Cherry Bomb’ gets everyone out on the dance floor.
‘Queens of Noise’ scares all the disco dollies away with its heavy metal overtones. We drag the girls to the live stage area. They scream and try to run away when they see the art/punk band making noise on stage. We convince them to come up to the balcony where we order pitchers of beer. They all have IDs; nobody asks us. Nicky and Alice come over, impressed that we lured straight girls to sit with us.
“They’re our fan club from Paramount,” Jack brags.
“You have a band?” Nicky is clueless.
“Sure. We backed up Liza Minnelli and Elton John at the Troubadour last summer. Joan Jett played with us. These girls love Joan.
“That explains everything,” Alice comments. Joan has a reputation.
I kid Alice in Spanish that she’s too much for straight girls.
“Pense que yo esse una puta?”
“Esse una chola.”
“Si. Yo soy del este de LA.”
“Me gusta tu moda.”
“Me gusta tu espanol.
“No gusta las gringas?”
“Si, no me gusta.”
One of the girls is upset knowing we’re talking about them.
“It’s not fair speaking Spanish,” she complains.
“?No este normal en El Ay? Solamente chesme, perdonne me.”
All the girls look disgusted. They get up and go back to the disco side.
Alice and I laugh. Jack looks distressed.
Nicky asks, “What just happened.”
“Culture shock,” Alice explains.
“So, why are you gay,” Alice asked. “You seem to be babe magnets.”
Nicky isn’t interested in our answer, going to find the Denney brothers.
“We have good taste,” Jack smoothly practices his charm. Alice beams. She is stunning when she smiles, which she only does about once a week.
“You should be in a band,” I remark.
“Gonna put me in the movies, also?” she mocks me. “And, I have a band already.”
“You want an audition? What’s the band’s name.”
“We just call ourselves the Bags until we find a better one, And no, we don’t play covers.”
“Good for you. You want to play here.”
“Better to play the Whiskey on Sunday afternoons. Too many joke bands here.”
“The Bags are serious? I’ll get Tony to book you there.”
“Our guitarist does the booking. He’s older. And he’s gay, too. You interested in him?”
“We have each other. When we were in our Glitter phase, we started fagging off on stage. We had a gay posse following us.”
“You had groupies?”
“We told them we had each other and they should go for themselves.”
“Gays are such sluts,” she observes.
A new band comes on stage. Alice gets excited.
“That’s the Zeroes. They’re from San Diego. They’re all Mexicanos.”
We all ran down and stand at the front of the stage. They open with ‘Don’t Push Me Around’, all classic rock chords, like the Ramones. It’s high energy but not too fast.
Jack and I start pushing each other around. Alice is in high heels, but it doesn’t stop her from pushing with us. At first the people around us move back, only to be shoved forward by those behind them. It becomes chaotic, until Nicky shows up to reclaim Alice. He is a classic pogo-er, tall and athletic. Some order is restored as we no longer are shoving anyone in our way. Jack and I join arms and pogo together. Alice takes off her shoes so she can jump up too but soon is knocking people’s heads with her stiletto heels. No one confronts Alice with Nicky there to defend her. The Zeroes have a short set, apparently recently formed. No one cares that they aren’t Anglos. I figure everyone in San Diego must be Mexican.
After they finish, we follow them upstairs to the green room. All six of us are chattering away in Spanish. Jack and I are criticized for sounding Puerto Rican. When they find out we are from Miami, they complimented us for not sounding Cuban. Alice is in ethnic heaven. Nicky gets bored and wanders away again. Jimmy shows up with two pitchers of beer plus he pulls out a joint. The opening band remains standoffish until they smell dope. We all revert to Spanglish, the language of the stoned.
“Jimmy, my man. Meet Alice, the leader of the Bags,” I introduce her.
“Hola, Bag Lady,” Jimmy can’t help himself.
“Get Tony to book the Bags for a Sunday afternoon.”
“No problemo,” Jimmy exhausts his Spanish knowledge.
“He has to talk with Craig, our guitarist,” she reminds me.
“He’s gay,” I tell Jimmy.
“Then I’ll handle it. Gay’s my way for fun and play.”
“My brother’s gay,” Robert Lopez from the Zeroes wants into our exclusive gay club.
“We’ll make it all-gay all-day at the Whiskey,” Jimmy decides. “Any other gay bands?”
“They’re from Frisco, just gay poseurs,” Jimmy already knows. He takes out another joint after the other band moves back to their corner of the green room, fearful of catching the gay.
Pot trumps plotting the gay takeover of the punk scene. The show is over and everyone piles into the Wreck, driving down Santa Monica a few blocks to Oki Dog. Pot plus pogo equals punks with the munchies. No one pays. Jack has never received charity before. His standards are slipping. We sit in the Wreck renewing our vows to each other – a Santa Monica Blvd. engagement. He vows to no longer be jealous of me and I vow to always keep him in my heart. He even admits that he misses Minehan. I tell him that isn’t enough to make me jealous. Nicky comes over and congratulates us on our Hollywood engagement. He tells Jack to buy everyone more Oki Dogs. Jack is happy to comply, getting over the guilt of receiving undeserved charity. Nicky eats three. The four of us drive back to the Canterbury, all sitting up front. Jack makes me promise to spend Thanksgiving in Miami with him. It’s in two days. I haven’t been back since my escape from the Everglades. Jace is excited about a reunion with Tommy. Jack gets jealous and I call off our engagement. We need to grow up more, I agree with my better self.
Our engagement lasted twenty minutes, another Hollywood break-up.