We continue with more stories from my collection 24 Exposures, which was written around the turn of the century.
Afterwards, Myron played the guilty angle, telling Doug, “Don’t tell my wife, okay? Don’t tell anyone.” Doug agreed that it would be their little secret and Myron told him it was pretty enjoyable, even if it was… weird.
“But not that weird, right?” Doug said as he hunted for his underwear, pulled them on.
“I don’t know.” Myron put on his best puzzled look. Doug got dressed, shook Myron’s hand and headed out for the front door. Myron followed, let Doug out. “See you Monday,” Doug said.
“Yeah, Monday,” Myron told him before he closed the door, trying to look baffled. As soon as he’d shut the door, he looked to the heavens, pumped a fist in triumph and let out a quiet but heartfelt, “Yes!”
* * *
Doug was a domino. Myron knew full well that he wouldn’t keep things completely secret, but that was all for the better. The guys started approaching him differently, spending more time talking to him, seeming a little more relaxed around him. He knew they knew he was a Six-Pack Mary, queer on beer, and so he upped the ante by acting even straighter, referring to his wife as frequently as possible. By this point, all it took was a whispered comment on late Friday afternoon. “My wife’s out of town, I’m bored.” Sure enough, that would lure one or another of them over and by now, at least in the sack, Myron was venturing the vague comment, “I don’t know, maybe I’m bisexual or something.” He’d even let Doug try to fuck him, but stopped him almost immediately even though Myron wanted it. That was a Big Event to be worked up to, dangled like a beautiful carrot at the end of a very long stick.
Within six weeks, he’d had all of them. All of them except Max. But Joyce hadn’t had him, either. Joyce was mousy, but not unattractive. She was around Myron’s age, but that kind of thing didn’t seem to matter as much to straight boys. Of course it didn’t. Unlike gay men, well, young gay men, it was difficult for straight guys to get laid. It was the law of supply and demand, and so even women in their late thirties still had the supply and got the demand.
Truth to tell, Myron couldn’t get Max out of his head, especially not after that night at the theatre. The kid was hung like an ox and he did have a swimmer’s build, and he seemed so unselfconscious, strutting around naked for a good fifteen minutes. Too bad about Christine. No one ever figured out why she freaked and ran, and then she sailed her car off Mulholland Drive the next morning. It was bizarre, and her accident was the topic of conversation on Monday, putting a damper on much discussion of Max’s performance, except for general comments that he was a very good actor.
That had been months ago, and Myron was getting it at least twice a week, but he still wasn’t happy, because whom he wanted to get and who he was getting were two different things. He was actually getting bored with Chris and Billy and the other Chris and Cary and Doug, even though Billy gave the best head he’d ever had and Doug had a perfect ass and both Chris’s were little hellcats in the sack and Cary was so sweet and gentle that Myron sometimes let him sleep in his arms until morning. He contemplated giving up the whole straight routine. Why not? The hard part was the conquest. Get there once, getting there again was easy.
Except, he couldn’t get there, not even once, with Max. There were rumors that Max had a girlfriend now, even though no one had met her. But he said he was dating some actress, a girl he’d met at an audition for Equus. He didn’t get the part, but he got her and stopped showing up at the random after-hours events. And out of all the boys, he was the one who stopped by Myron’s desk to chat the least often.
Then, one Friday afternoon, Max was excitedly telling everyone he’d just gotten cast in the lead of a new play at some theatre in the Valley, opening in six weeks. He was practically floating as he told Myron the news.
“You get naked in this one?” Myron asked.
“Nah,” Max said. “This time, I’m the only one who doesn’t.” And he walked away, Myron superimposing the vivid memory on that jean-clad ass. Out of all of them, Max was the hottest, and he just kept getting hotter, the little fucker.
And it was a Tuesday, four weeks later, when Max stopped at Myron’s desk, looking concerned. Myron asked him what was wrong.
“Oh, this damn play,” Max said. “I’m having a hell of a time memorizing all the lines, and my girlfriend is in a show of her own right now, so she doesn’t have time to help.”
“You need somebody to help you learn?” Myron asked, hoping he didn’t sound too eager.
“Oh, I couldn’t ask you to do that, Ron. It’s a huge part.”
It sure as hell was, Myron thought to himself. Then, “No problem. Hey, my wife is out of town, what else have I got to do?”
“Is she ever in town?” Max asked.
“Not often enough,” Myron said.
“Yeah, I hear you,” Max said. “My girlfriend is always at rehearsal, or doing a show, I hardly see her that much anymore. Hey, I don’t have rehearsal tonight, you want to come over after work, run lines?”
Myron almost shouted, “Fuck, yeah,” but instead uttered a subdued “Sure.” Max nodded, wrote down the address, an apartment in the Little Moscow section of West Hollywood. “See you around six?” Max asked, then rolled his cart away as Myron nodded.
* * *
Myron was waiting on the landing as Max came up the steps, grocery bag in his arms. He handed it to Myron as he pulled out his keys, apologized for being late. The bag held two six-packs and a bag of chips.
The apartment was a studio, bedroom separated from the living room by a low wall. The only attempt at decor was a large poster of a Vargas girl, taped to the wall above the bed. Max gestured to the kitchen, which was barely big enough for a fridge, stove and counter. “You can put that there, help yourself. I’m going to change.”
Myron nodded, set down the bag and pulled out a beer, then went to the sofa and sat. It faced the bed, and Max had already taken off his dress shirt and T-shirt, hung them up. With his back to Myron, he took off his jeans, carefully folded them and put them on a hanger.
“So, I’m playing this kid who gets molested by a priest,” he explained as he casually took off his underwear, tossed them into a laundry basket, then put on a pair of gym shorts and a tank top. “Well, not exactly molested, more like seduced.” He turned around, walked to the sofa, grabbing a beer and the chips on the way. “And the big scene, like I told you, damn is it hard. Monologue, monologue, monologue, one after another.”
He picked up a manuscript, handed it to Myron open to a page. “So you must be playing Jimmy?” Myron asked.
“And you’re Father Ralph,” Max explained as he sat down.
“Do I just start reading?” Myron asked.
“Yeah, let me know if I get any lines wrong.”
“Uh… okay.” Myron was nervous, more over having to attempt to act than anything else. Max had such a natural way about him that it was hard to be nervous. Myron read.
“‘I’ve noticed you’re not like the other boys, Jimmy,’” and Myron thought to himself, “That’s for sure.”
Max recited from memory, “Yeah, I hate sports, I like opera and I’m not an asshole — “
“Right, sorry. ‘I like opera and I’m not a total asshole.’ Damn. ‘Total asshole…’ Got it. You want to start that again?”
“‘I’ve noticed you’re not like the other boys, Jimmy.’”
“‘Yeah, I hate sports, I like opera and I’m not a total asshole. What’s your point, father?’”
“‘Is there anything you want to tell me, son?’”
And the scene progressed, and it was one monologue after another. Even though Myron was no theatre critic, he didn’t think it was particularly well-written, but Max was amazing despite the clunkiness of the lines. And he knew most of them, only stumbling once or twice, his eyes focused right on Myron’s as he said them. Those incredible green eyes, drilling to Myron’s soul.
“‘There are many reasons I became a priest,’” Myron read some time later. “‘My family expected it of me, for one thing. And I wanted to do it, preach God’s word and minister to people who are… troubled. You’re troubled, aren’t you, son?’”
There was a long pause in the script, which Max took, leaning toward Myron. “‘Isn’t everyone?’” he replied as Jimmy.
“‘But troubled in a particular way,’” Myron went on. “‘You don’t have to lie to me, Jimmy. I know exactly what’s in your heart.’”
“‘Yeah, father? What’s that?’”
Myron looked at the script, at the stage direction. “Father Ralph suddenly grabs Jimmy’s neck, forces a kiss on him.” He stared at the words, looked up at Max, went, “Uh…”
“Yeah, that part. I’ve got no problem with it, because it’s, well, it’s what the character does, it’s just acting, part of the game. Well, okay, he gets it done to him, except I’ve never done that on stage before. We haven’t rehearsed this scene yet. I think the director is waiting until I’m more comfortable with the actor playing Father Ralph…”
“Oh,” Myron said. Max got up, brought them each another beer — their third — sat down again, closer this time.
“You did a good job reading, by the way,” he said as he unscrewed the top, took a chug.
“Thanks,” Myron said, doing the same. “You’re a very good actor. Especially in that last play, you did an amazing job.”
“Thanks. Hey, was everything… you know, okay in that play?”
“It was a little long, but — “
“I mean me. You know, when I was… that whole monologue at the top of act two. I was really worried about doing that.”
“Being naked, you mean?”
“Yeah. But my voice coach told me that no one is really an actor until they’ve been naked on stage, so I figured I’d get it out of the way. I guess, I’m just wondering, nothing looked funny, you know, physically, did it?”
“No, everything looked… fine. I guess.”
Max nodded, looked away nervously. “Look, um, I don’t know how to ask this, but it’s really important, for this show, I mean…” He paused, took a sip of beer, staring at the floor. “We’ve known each other a while now, and I feel really… comfortable with you. Would it be too much to ask…?”
Myron stared at him, heart racing. “Wh-what do you mean?” he said, voice almost cracking.
“It’s really weird kissing a strange guy but I want the moment to be real, so would you mind rehearsing that part with me?” He looked back at Myron, face turned coyly upward, mouth curled in an uncertain half-frown.
“You mean… kiss you?”
“It’s just a play, but I’d feel better getting used to it with someone I trust, you know?”
Myron hoped the raging hard-on in his pants wasn’t too obvious. He tried to play it cool, looked at the script, shaking his head, taking his time. “Well, I’m no actor. It’s kind of…”
“Weird, huh? Okay, bad idea I guess. Sorry I — “
“Hey, if it’ll help you do your job, I guess…”
“I… what the hell.”
Max smiled. “Thanks. Take it from your last line, then.”
Myron inhaled, nodded, then looked at the script. “‘But troubled in a particular way,’” he read. “‘You don’t have to lie to me, Jimmy. I know exactly what’s in your heart.’”
“‘Yeah, father? What’s that?’” Max responded as Jimmy, leaning close to Myron. And then Myron leaned forward, very slowly, brought his lips to Max’s and in an instant they were all over each other, tongues slithering in sync, hands pulling them tighter together, reaching under clothes, Max practically on top of Myron now. They went at it for a good four or five minutes, and then Max gently pulled away, grinned, looked at the floor.
“You know,” he said, “In the play… I mean, not on stage or anything, but… Jimmy and the priest do it, and, I’m kind of a method actor.”
“And it’s a good method,” Myron said, standing and taking Max by the hand. As they walked to the bed, the script fell to the floor, flopping open on the way. Myron noticed that the rest of the pages were blank, but didn’t say anything. He just smiled as they fell on the bed and continued the scene. As Max pulled off his shirt and lay down next to him, Myron couldn’t help but ask.
“You don’t have a girlfriend, do you?”
“And you don’t have a wife,” Max smiled. “But let’s just let that be our little secret, shall we?”
Myron laughed, then went in for another kiss and felt himself passing out of Chapel Perilous and grasping at last the Holy Grail as the curtain went down on his long performance and he returned, finally, to his real life.
* * *