Chapter 4

Chapter 4

Divas & Deals

 

SATURDAY, JANUARY 18, 2003

NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CA 3:15 P.M.

Bill returned to his office. He didn’t normally schedule appointments for the weekend, but he had a once in a lifetime meeting that had to be attended to as soon as possible. He also rarely ever let himself get personal about any deal, but this particular opportunity would be an exception for him. As he walked in, his beleaguered receptionist Janet Doran was at her desk asleep. He crept past her into his office. She worked so hard during the week, he thought, she deserved a little down time, especially since he had called her in at the last minute to work on a weekend.

As he opened his office door, he saw one of the most gorgeous women he had ever seen. She had a perfect figure with long, smooth legs that led up to a beautifully slim waist wrapped in a tight mini skirt. Her chest was just perfect. Not too big, not too small. Her face was a work of art. She had a slender nose with red, ruby lips, and deep blue eyes. A flawless complexion all topped off with wavy, Strawberry Blonde hair. The only complaint Bill could think that anyone would have was that she was just little older than one would expect. Bill smirked slightly thinking about how many people would wonder what a perfect creature such as that would be doing in his presence. He walked around to his chair and plopped himself and his considerable girth into the small, creaky wooden chair and pulled himself up to the desk.

“Hello, Sasha.” He said with an impish glee. Sasha DuPre, once prominent actress and leading lady of stage and screen, looked at him with a stilted glance. Her eyes only half open. “How are you today?” She crossed her legs and set her elbow to rest on her bent knee.

“Let’s just make this quick. I’m only here because I promised my agent I’d do this one favor for him.” Bill leaned back in his chair, allowing the lower portion of his considerable gut to be exposed. Sasha turned her head away trying to block her eyes from the sight.

“Relax, honey. I know exactly why you’re here.”

“Honey!? How dare you,” She yelled in extreme outrage. “It is only because my agent has done so much for me that I agreed to do this! I will not tolerate being spoken to in that tone! I have performed on every stage between New York, and this cultureless wasteland. I don’t need this.” With that, Sasha got up and turned to leave.

“According to your sainted agent, you do need this. Badly,” Sasha stopped in her tracks. “You haven’t had a paying job in over ten years! I know all about your current financial situation and I’m quite aware of your resume Ms. DuPre, and I have nothing but respect for that track record. That’s why I asked for you in particular. You are truly one of the greatest actresses ever,” Sasha smiled slyly and then slowly turned to face Bill. He stood up and extended his arm to offer her to sit down again. She accepted. “That’s better. I’m your friend in all this. I just asked you to come by and listen to my proposal. Can you do that?” Bill asked. Sasha replied with a silent stare. Bill accepted. “Okay, as I’m sure you know, I have spent most of my career doing movies of the horror genre, but I’m looking to expand. I managed to find this great new script about a family torn apart by the mother’s self-destructive addiction to shoe shopping.”

“You have got to be kidding me.”

“Hold on, it may sound a little silly, but at least read the script. It is chalk full of drama and pathos and shit like that. It’ll rip out your heart and stomp it flat.” Bill pulled a script of the top drawer of his desk and handed it to Sasha. She leafed through a few pages.

“I don’t know. This reads more like a movie of the week kind of thing. Not really my caliber.”

“I just need something juicy to get into the festivals. It’s a low budget, quick shoot. Just a week. Two tops. I even have a great new actress lined up as your daughter. A kind of Reese Witherspoon type. A cute, bubbly blonde. The rest of the cast is still in the speculation stage.”

Sasha continued to read through the script when her face froze and she looked up at Bill. “Daughter?” She asked. “You want me to play a character that has a daughter?”

“Sure. You got a problem with that?”

“Yes, I do. I really don’t think anyone will take me for anyone’s mother.”

“Really?” Bill said with a light laugh. “Maybe no one’s told you this before, so let me be the first. I can read the odometer quite clearly.”

“Excuse me?” Sasha’s anger was growing.

“You’re old. I mean, by Hollywood standards. You’re still a knock out babe and all, but you’re just kind of showing your years. Especially when you wear stuff like that.” Bill said as he looked Sasha up and down.

“This is a designer exclusive.”

“Maybe, but it would have looked a hell of a lot better on you twenty years ago. Maybe you should try dressing your age.”

Sasha swallowed her rage and closed the script between her hands. She shut her eyes, counted to ten and then opened them again. She looked up at Bill and forced a smile.

“I’m going to have to think about this.”

“Okay, but I’m going to have to have an answer by the end of the day.”

“I’ll have to read more to consider this. I’ll be in touch with you later.” Sasha got up and turned to the door. As she was pulling it open, Bill walked up behind her.

“Listen, I could have gone to Streep or Sarandon with this. I’m doing you a favor and the money you get from this will get the IRS off your back.”

“Oh, please! There’s no way you would have gotten within a country mile of those two, or any other self-respecting actress, with this and you know it.” She said. Bill’s friendly facade faded away and he had a cold, disturbing expression on his face. Sasha found herself a bit scared by this.

“Yeah. You’re right. No serious actress with a viable career would ever consider this. I know that. Enter you. You’re on the skids, lady. Like I said, I’m doing you a favor with this, and you’d be doing me a favor too. You still pull some weight in Tinsel town, and in the right vehicle you could be back on top, but you gotta start at the bottom, and this is as bottom as it gets.” His eyes captured hers and they were held in an intense lock.

“I’ll think about it.” She said with a quiver of fear in her voice. Deep down, she knew Bill was completely right.

“Think fast.” Sasha fumbled with the knob and stumbled out the door. Janet was still asleep as Sasha made her exit.

Later that afternoon, Sasha had a fresh glass of bourbon in her hand when she answered the door. Her agent, Carl Bryman, stood there on her front stoop. His back hunched over, exposing his bald spot at the top of his head.

“Get in here, Carl!” Carl scurried in. He had heard the tone before and he knew he was in trouble again. “How could you do this to me? I’ve been nominated for awards! Honors! This can’t be happening. This can’t be my only option! Tell me there’s something else. Tell me!” She begged. She noticed Carl’s hunched position. “Look at me when I’m yelling at you!” She grabbed him by a small tuft of hair and pulled his head up. She could hear the crunching sound, over his scream, as his back straightened.

“There’s nothing else, Sasha! I’m sorry.” He said with deeply apologetic eyes. “I’ve been doing everything I can, but no one is interested in hiring you. It was just a lucky break I heard about this opportunity.” He said trying to get to the couch to lie down.

“That’s what you call this? An opportunity? Have you read this script? It’s trash! It’s the most contrived piece of drek I have ever had the misfortune of reading.” She said.

“It’s a paycheck. I hate to remind you, but you are just days away from possible jail time. Do you want that scandal? Because there’s nothing I can do for you if that happens. Look on the bright side; a lot of actresses who’ve been out to pasture for a while have had tremendous luck breaking back in through small cinema. Look at Debbie Reynolds. She had a new career after ‘Mother’.” Sasha slowly walked over to Carl, who was then on the couch with his arm stretched across his back, massaging the sore spot.

“I am not Debbie fuckin’ Reynolds! I’m too young to need a comeback this badly.”

“That may well be, but you need one nonetheless.” He felt very confident in talking to Sasha like that. He knew he was absolutely right and he knew that she knew it too. She just needed to come to accept it. He would normally run to pack for a trip to a safe house if he ever dared talk to her like that, but this time, right was on his side. He saw it in her eyes. He could see her anger flaring, but it soon cooled. She knew she had few options left her, after a disastrous career and personal life had left her broke and alone. There was no more hiding.

Sasha took a deep breath, gulped down her drink and went to her phone. She dialed Bill’s number. A bright, cheery voice answered.

“Kaslow Entertainment Unlimited. How may I direct your call?”

“Give me Kaslow.” As she waited for Bill, she thought about what she just said and realized it made his name sound like a deadly disease, appropriately enough.

“Sasha, love!” Bill’s voice came on as happy as any voice could sound.

“I’ll do it.” A tear formed in the corner of her left eye. She couldn’t hear it, but she had a feeling Bill, despite his size, was jumping up and down and doing cartwheels. So satisfied he had bested the grand diva.

“Fantastic! I’ll messenger the contract to you right now, and we can get the show on the road as early as Monday.”

“I thought you said you still had to acquire the rest of the cast.”

“I do, but I’ll have that all squared away soon enough. I’ll be in touch soon.” Without a word more, Sasha dropped the phone down on the cradle. She trudged over to a nearby leather chair and flopped down onto it.

“Is this what selling your soul feels like?”

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Chapter 3

Chapter 3

Dates & Denim

 

SATURDAY, JANUARY 18, 2003

SHERMAN OAKS, CA 12:57 P.M.

It was almost one. Cynthia was at the table in the diner next to her parents’ hotel waiting for them. She was nursing a glass of water wondering where they could have been. She had to turn the waitress away three times since she had been warned by her mother not to order without them. She finally saw them walking through the parking lot to the diner.

Her mother, Agnes, was dressed as the perfect tourist. She had a large Hollywood t-shirt on and wearing short pants with an image of Marilyn Monroe airbrushed on the left leg. She topped the whole ensemble off with a fanny pack that couldn’t stay in one place along her waist as it moved back and forth to the movement of her hips. Her father trailed behind wearing just a plain shirt and blue jeans. She watched through the window and noticed how perfect an extreme her father and mother were for each other. Her dad could barely stay awake for more than a couple hours while her mother was just a ball of energy. Cynthia had a theory that she must have been siphoning energy out of him. As they made their way across the asphalt, Mrs. Davis saw Cynthia at the booth and waved.

They both walked into the diner and made a B-line for Cynthia’s booth. They both slid in without a word and settled in their seats. Agnes sat up brightly lit as she stared at Cynthia with a mother’s adoring eyes.

“Oh, honey! It’s so good to see you again! It’s been so long.”

“Mom, I was home for the holidays.”

“But that was such a long time ago.”

“It was a month ago.”

“Oh, humor your mother! Besides, a week is too long when you’re away from your child. I don’t know why you insist on living here of all places. I mean, when your father and I got off the plane, we saw two men kissing! Kissing! Right there in public! I couldn’t believe it. And if I told you half the stories your Aunt Perdie tells me. I just don’t feel comfortable with you living here all by yourself.”

“Well, mom, I’m not alone.” Her mother perked up to this news.

“Oh really?”

“Jason lives right next door. You remember Jason?”

“Oh, him.” Agnes said, disappointed.

“Yes. Him.” Cynthia said with a hint of anger.

“Oh, honey. I love Jason. I do. He’s a very sweet boy, but I can tell he has no intentions as far as you’re concerned. Don’t waste your time. You need to find a man who is ready for commitment. You need someone who’s ready to be a husband and a father.”

“I don’t really.”

“Yes you do! You’re not getting any younger. The end of your child bearing years is within sight. I cannot allow you to live your life just so you end up with a whole list of regrets when you get to be my age.”

“I have no doubt. So, where’s this Douglas Smythe?”

“Oh, Ned’s boy. Well, we haven’t been able to reach him yet, but we left him a message on his answering machine with our room number. He knows we’re here, and I’m sure he’s as excited to see you as you are to see him.”

“I’ll bet.” Cynthia said under her breath. They sat for a moment with nothing to say. Trent had fallen asleep and was whistling through his nose. Agnes was reorganizing the condiments and menus on the table, and Cynthia was staring blankly out the window, wishing she was anyplace but there.

A cell phone began to ring. Cynthia looked around but didn’t see anyone answering. She noticed the ringing was coming from a nearby location. She listened and as best as she could tell, the sound was coming from right in front of her. Her mother.

“Mom?” She asked. “Is that your phone ringing?” Agnes thought a moment and then dove for the phone in her fanny pack.

“I forgot! I set up the call forwarding!”

Cynthia sat puzzled, wondering how her mother had become such an expert with cell phones, yet still couldn’t set the time on her VCR.

“Hello? Oh, Douglas! Yes, this is Mrs. Davis. Yes. We’re at a little diner at the Holiday Inn. Yes. That’s the one. Okay. See you in a bit, dear,” Agnes clicked off the phone and put it away. “That was Douglas. He’ll be here in a few minutes.”

“Mom! I thought this was just going to be a quick hi there and hello thing. I have things to do! I can’t sit here all day!” Cynthia barked as she checked her watch. She saw the day was quickly slipping away.

“I’m sorry, dear. Just be patient. Let’s just order some lunch. I’m sure he’ll be here in no time.”

Just as they were all finishing their lunches, Douglas finally walked in. Agnes saw him in the corner of her eye. She got up and started waving her arms wildly.

“Douglas! Over here!” Cynthia pulled her back down.

“Mom! Sit down! People are going to think you’re having a seizure.”

Douglas saw Agnes and started making his way over to their booth. Cynthia looked over and saw a tall, dark, and handsome man dressed in denim and wearing boots. He had a thick mustache covering his upper lip and sharply cropped dark brown hair.

“That’s Douglas?”

“Yes.” Douglas stopped at their table, towering over them like a giant.

“Hi.” He said in soft tone that betrayed his rugged look.

“Hi.” Cynthia said coyly, avoiding his eyes. Agnes smiled broadly. She turned to Trent and roused him from his coma-like nap.

“Come on honey, let’s leave these two alone.”

Cynthia’s father gave an inaudible grunt and got up as he was instructed.

“All right, now you two talk. Get to know each other. Cynthia. You be sure to call me tonight.” Agnes said as she forced her husband along. Cynthia leapt up from the table and caught up with her.

“Mom! What the hell is that!?”

“What do you mean dear?”

“Douglas is totally not my type!”

“He’s a very nice boy.”

“He’s killed at least three animals for that get up he’s wearing! He’s just some over pumped, macho freak!”

“I realize he may not be your cup of tea exactly, but a lot of girls would find him to be quite attractive. Just sit down with him and talk. Learn about him.” Agnes then turned and walked out to the parking lot, dragging her husband along with her. Cynthia retreated back to the table where Douglas was already seated.

“Hi, again.” Cynthia slid in across from Douglas and smiled weakly at his joke. She took a sip from her glass of water. Douglas tapped the tips of his fingers on the tabletop.

“So.” He started.

“So. Look, let’s be honest,” She began. “You aren’t my type and I’m sure I’m not your type. I don’t eat meat, I don’t wear animal skins and I am a regular contributor to public television. If it’s all the same to you, I’d like to just get up from here and call this a wash. Okay?”

“Well, I don’t think I like that. I’d prefer to stay.”

“What?”

“I’m not a vegetarian myself, but I respect it. I don’t wear animal skins either. These boots are imitation leather, and I also contribute to PBS. I have the tote bag to prove it,” Cynthia let a small giggle escaper her lips. “Now, your mother told me a bit about you, and I was really impressed by what she said. I came here today to find out more. I intend to do that, if you’re okay with that. Are you?” Cynthia sat back, looking at Douglas as though he had just sideswiped her.

“All right. We can stay.”

“Great. I guess we should get the boring ‘first date’ questions out of the way first, so where do you live?”

“Oh, Uh, I live in Van Nuys. Nice little apartment. You?”

“Hollywood. I’m not gay.” He said, as if by instinct.

“I didn’t say you were.”

“I know, it’s just, a lot of people think just because I live in Hollywood and I dress like a cowboy, I’m gay.”

“Oh, I didn’t think that. Although, the whole western motif should be rethought.”

“Well, I don’t dress like this on purpose. I just like denim. And I like my boots. They’re comfortable.”

“I can totally respect that.”

“Your mom said you were a massage therapist.”

“Yes. She’s terribly disappointed by it, but I like it. I make my own hours, and I can usually make a month’s worth of pay in a few days. By the way, it’s legitimate massage. Most of the time when I tell people what I do, they get strange ideas.”

“Not me. I’d never assume anything like that. I actually got a massage a few months ago. It was great. I had a lot of stress. It totally loosened me up.”

“Really? What do you do? For a living?”

“I’m in construction. In fact I just won a contract for a new shopping center in Sherman Oaks.”

“Congratulations.”

“Thanks,” Douglas noticed the strings of beads Cynthia was wearing. “Those are nice.” He said, pointing to her jewelry.

“Oh, thank you. I actually made these. They’re what I call Harmony Beads. Each one is painted with colors that are in tune with my aura and arranged for maximum harmonic convergence.” Cynthia noticed the look of confusion on Douglas’ face.

“I don’t understand much of any of that new age stuff. I just thought they were pretty, but all that other stuff sounds real impressive.” Cynthia smiled at his sweetness and found it increasingly difficult to stop smiling the more they talked.

They sat at the booth for another ten minutes talking and Cynthia found her initial opinion of Douglas dramatically changing.

“Listen,” Douglas blurted “I think we’ve done enough of the getting to know each other thing. Right now I think we need a little mental stimulation. Want to see if we can catch a movie?” Cynthia blanked. She checked her watch. It was just a little after three.

“I don’t know. You seem like a nice guy, but I wasn’t really planning on making this an all-day thing.”

“Neither was I, but you can’t really plan things like this, can you? Come on. What’s the harm? A movie. Haven’t you ever done anything spontaneous?”

“Yes, but I really don’t know you.”

“Do I look like some kind of freak or rapist?”

“No, but neither did Ted Bundy.”

“How about if we take separate cars?”

“You’re really fighting for this, aren’t you?”

“I can be very persistent.” Douglas said and then flashed his perfectly white teeth in a charming smile. Everything Cynthia believed was being challenged and she found herself unable to find any real reason to say no.

“Fine.” She said at last.

“Great!”

They both slid out and walked out of the diner. Cynthia followed behind Douglas in a total trance. She had never met a man who so personified masculinity and very much to her surprise, she was really digging it.

An hour or so later, Douglas and Cynthia were standing in line at one of many, many movie theaters that could be found in Burbank.

She enjoyed that part the most. They were squeezed in between the ropes that defined the lines for the ticket booth. The crowd was so thick, they were both crammed together tightly. She was enjoying the feeling of his body pressing to hers. She looked up at him to give him a little smile, only to discover he was looking down at her, also smiling. They were coming closer to the end of the line, when Douglas noticed a couple of guys standing off to the side. They were laughing and pointing in Cynthia’s direction. Douglas took immediate interest in the object of their amusement. Cynthia saw a primal spark appear in his eyes. He then suddenly jumped over the rope and strode over to the boys aggressively. Cynthia looked on in confusion.

“Excuse me gentlemen, but I couldn’t help but notice you seemed to be laughing at something. I would like to know what is so funny.” He said in a booming voice. He was so loud she could hear him quite clearly from her place in line. In fact it seemed everyone in the general vicinity could hear him as a small crowd was beginning to form. The two guys Douglas was barking at both looked to be in their early or mid-twenties with large, athletic builds. Frat boy types. They looked over Douglas’ shoulder at Cynthia.

“Man, that girl you’re with? What’s with all those beads?” The first guy chuckled.

“Her jewelry? What’s wrong with it? I think it looks nice.” He looked back over to Cynthia.

“Oh, my God!” The other thick necked thug chimed. “What is she? Some tree hugging witch freakoid?” Douglas’ eyes popped open and his neck turned red. Cynthia tried to make out what was going on from the line, as she didn’t want to lose their place. She was starting to worry if this would escalate into a fight. She hoped it wouldn’t.

The last thing she needed was to have to go to the emergency room on a first date. Besides, she didn’t want anything to happen to that beautiful face of Douglas’. Beauty was such a fragile thing, especially in men. One good punch could mar him forever but faster than she could blink, she saw Douglas throw a tight right and drop both frat boys at the same time with one punch. He calmly turned and rejoined her in line.

The whole crowd outside the theater seemed to freeze in time. Cynthia couldn’t take her gaze off of Douglas’ calm features. They stepped up to the ticket booth. Douglas was quick to pay for both tickets, and they proceeded into the theater, the whole time, an awed hush held the crowd. Cynthia looked around. She felt like Lois Lane on a date with Superman himself. She was surprising herself at how impressed she was over that blatant display of machismo. A dedicated believer in equal rights. Believing the age of the strong man and weak woman as antiquated as videotapes, she would normally abhor such behavior, but there was something in her that was so enjoying it. She felt like she was betraying some of her most deeply held beliefs, but at that moment, she didn’t care.

They sat in the back of the auditorium for the movie. He kept his large, muscled arm around her the whole time. She basked in his radiating warmth. She was so mesmerized; she could barely keep her mind on the action up on the screen. She kept sneaking quick glances at Douglas, noting how good he looked even in the dark.

After the movie was over, they stayed in their seats until the last of the audience had left. They just sat enjoying the music playing over the speakers.

“You know, that whole macho episode out front didn’t impress me.”

“I didn’t expect it to. I really wasn’t even planning on throwing a punch.”

“Then why did you?”

“They said something about you, and it was pretty nasty. I was brought up not to say such things about women, and when such things are said, action must be taken.”

“That seems awfully retro to me.”

“Maybe it is, but that’s what my parents taught me.”

“I just didn’t want you to think I enjoyed it or approved or anything.”

“Of course not.” Cynthia looked over Douglas’ shoulder and saw the theater staff lined up at the front of the auditorium waiting to start cleaning up.

“They’re going to throw us out soon. They have to clean up in here.”

“Then we’ve got a little time. I really didn’t expect for this to happen.”

“What?”

“Liking you so much. The moment I saw you, I just was floored. You aren’t like anyone I’ve ever known before.”

“I hope that’s a good thing.”

“It is,” He assured. “It definitely is.” He looked at her with a pensive gaze. “May I kiss you?” Cynthia was speechless. She had never been asked that before. She could only manage to nod and with that confirmation, Douglas raised her chin with his finger and slowly pressed his furry lip to her delicate mouth. Cynthia almost orgasmed at that moment.

She had never felt anything so warm and soft before. The hairs of his mustache gently tickled her face. His lips were just soft enough, just moist enough. His mouth almost completely enveloped her lower jaw. When he pulled away, she had to fight to catch her breath. She looked at him with glazed eyes and the look in his eyes was unmistakable. If she had never seen love before, she had seen it then. He smiled and took her shoulder and pulled her into his chest. They stayed like that even after the cleaning staff had begun to clean. They were careful not to disturb Douglas and Cynthia, and just cleaned around them.

Next Chapter

Okay. Forget it. I’m just going to do it. You’re getting the first five chapters. I just feel one chapter isn’t enough.

 

Chapter 2

Lunch & Dinner

 

SATURDAY, JANUARY 18, 2003

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA 12:16 P.M.

The sun beat down on the outdoor dining area of The Garden, a chic West Hollywood cafe, but no one seemed to mind. It was a rather cool day and everyone had sunglasses on anyway. Bill Kaslow, a fat yet vibrant looking man, was sitting at a small table with two chairs. He was wearing a large Hawaiian shirt and Beige knee-length cargo shorts with sandals. He was there waiting for Jason to arrive for their weekly meeting. He kept impatiently checking his watch. He checked his cell phone to make sure he hadn’t missed any calls. He hadn’t.

Just as he was about to reconcile to the fact he’d been stood up, he saw Jason running up the street.

“About damn time! I’ve been sitting here for a half hour!” He exclaimed as he stood.

“Sorry, Bill. I was a little…busy, this morning.” Jason offered. Bill sat back down and motioned for Jason to take his seat.

“I don’t know why you have to be late every weekend. We always have lunch here, always at the same time. You’d think you could just plan your hangovers better.”

Bill was quite a bit older than Jason and very set in his ways. He was an independent film producer who had taken a liking to Jason’s writing style. He was employing Jason on a part-time basis despite the fact he could not offer to pay him anything and was instead offering connections in the industry.

Jason gave Bill a quick scan but resisted the temptation to slam his wardrobe choices. The whole tourist refugee look was a fashion theme Jason rather abhorred but he kept quiet, since Bill was usually good enough to pay for the meal.

“Cynthia made me a few drinks last night.”

“You didn’t go out?”

“No. I didn’t even get home until eleven. It was nice actually. Just nice to lie down and sleep. No pressure.”

“You got drunk with your neighbor.”

“Either way, a refreshing change.”

Bill handed Jason a menu.

“Please choose quickly. I don’t have a lot of time today.”

“Geez, why don’t we just call off lunch then, if you’re in such a hurry?” Jason threw the menu down on the table. Bill looked at Jason with a remorseful expression.

“I’m sorry. I really am. It’s just been one of those weeks. I’ve just finished going over a ton of scripts and I’m trying to line up the next movie to shoot. I’m dealing with so many assholes; I think it’s rubbing off on me.” Jason slowly picked the menu back up.

“Starting a new production?”

“Yes. I’m really excited about this one. It’s my first attempt at high drama.”

“Really? What’s the story?”

“Oh, you know. The usual dramatic stuff. Sisters, Cancer. Dying. Crap like that.”

“Sounds like a real personal project.”

“Well, you know, I gotta start doing something to get into those festivals. Right now I’m a joke. Too many schlocky horror flicks. I need to tap into the Oscar crowd. It all bores me to tears, but we’re talkin’ money.” He said while rubbing his fingers together in the universal sign of money.

A young European looking waiter walked up to the table. He was dressed casual, same as the rest of the staff. He had very short cut offs, showing every line and sinew of his muscular legs and a black tank top doing the same service for his equally beautiful torso. His dark hair framed his head perfectly. He had gentle, soft features and full lips that just begged to be bit. Jason’s breathing sped up and he started to sweat. The waiter’s mouth opened and a deep, thick, commanding voice that betrayed his youthful appearance echoed out.

“Can I get you started with a drink or are you ready?” He asked. Jason was so mesmerized he didn’t realize he was the one the waiter was talking to. Bill came to the rescue.

“He’ll have the turkey salad, and I’ll have the French dip, please.” The waiter took his pen and scribbled down Bill’s instructions.

“Very good.” The waiter said. Jason could only focus on all the muscles in his arm moving, flexing with every pen stroke. The waiter left them with a cheery smile and went back inside. Bill started snapping his fingers in front of Jason’s face.

“Hello? Earth to Jason! Come back!” Bill said, trying to coax Jason back to the land of the living.

“Huh?”

“You zoned.”

“Sorry.”

“It’s okay. He was hot. I’m not gay, and I was kind of attracted myself.”

“I hate guys like that. Perfect body, perfect face. It’s not fair! No one person should be allowed to be that good looking. You have to either have a perfect body or face. It’s not fair when they get both. Probably has a big dick too.”

“Life isn’t fair. Don’t get so worked up.”

“I can’t help it. You’re straight, so you don’t care, but for a gay man, attraction is a little more complex. At once, I’m attracted to him and I want to have sex with him and at the same time, I’m jealous of how good he looks and I want to be him. I’d like a body like that. I work out. What’s wrong with me?”

“Apparently more than I thought before I ever met you. Don’t compare yourself, man. Whatever he’s got, he’s got. I bet there are things about you he’d be jealous of.”

“Oh, yeah. I’m sure he’d be real jealous of my big throbbing….brain. And don’t even start with that inner beauty crap. I wouldn’t mind a little more outer beauty.”

“What you need is to get laid. I thought you were about to jump him when he turned away,” Jason looked down avoiding eye contact. “How long has it been since your last…encounter?”

“A while.”

“Define a while for me. A month?” Jason shook his head. “Two months?” Jason shook his head again. “Three months? Good lord!”

“Not three months. Multiply that by four.” Jason confessed. Bill sat stunned. His mouth held open so long, his cigarette fell out.

“A year? A fuckin’ year!? You haven’t had sex in a year!?” Jason turned his head away, noticing a few heads turning in their direction.

“Jesus, Bill! Keep it down! A little discretion?”

“Sorry, sorry,” Bill calmed himself and lit a new cigarette. “Damn, Jason. How can you still be alive? I’d die if I went that long without a milking.” Jason closed his eyes, trying to banish that visual from his mind.

“I’m fine. I have plenty of lube and porn to keep me from hitting critical. Besides, I got a nibble on the personal ad I put on line.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. How pathetic is my life that an email from a total stranger qualifies as an event?”

“I’ll be praying for you. I mean that.”

“Thanks.” Just then, the hunky waiter returned with their food. He carried both dishes on a large tray, perfectly displaying his flexed pecs. Bill looked over and saw Jason having another attack. He came back to normal once the food was served.

Conversation over the meal was light. After the meal, Jason and Bill both sat back, soaking up the sun, listening to the new wave music playing on the cafe speakers and whatever pieces of conversation they could make out from the other tables. A new waiter, one not nearly as gorgeous as the first one, came and set down the check. As usual, Bill sprung up and pounced on it.

“I got it,” He said. They both got up and walked to the cashier. “Hey, Jay, why don’t you just go wait for me out front okay?”

Jason didn’t understand this odd request but he just nodded and walked out ahead of Bill. He stood out on the sidewalk for a good ten minutes before the hunky waiter came out and walked right up to Jason, looked him in the eyes, and planted the biggest, wettest kiss Jason had ever felt. Jason had enough presence of thought to feel the waiter’s body. He cupped his ass and ran his hands all over his body as fast as he could. The waiter broke away and smiled at Jason with a devilish smirk and then handed him a small piece of paper. He walked away without a word. Bill came stomping out shortly with a big grin on his round, sun burned face. They both started walking down the street.

“You’re welcome,” Jason looked over at Bill, puzzled. “The waiter. I sent him out there. I told him about you and he agreed to do me that little favor.”

“A favor? He only did that because you asked him to?!”

“Relax, buddy. It still felt good didn’t it?” Jason stopped for a moment.

“Yeah. It did feel good. It would have felt better if he had done it because he wanted to. You pay him?”

“Five bucks. It was a favor, besides, I felt bad. I had just screwed him on his tip.” Jason dug out the paper that was given to him and handed it to Bill.

“This must be the receipt then.” Bill took the paper and looked at it. He handed it back to Jason.

“I really think this one is for you.” Jason took it and looked at it. It was a phone number with the word ‘dinner’ written under it.

“You told him to do this right?” Bill silently shook his head. Jason smiled and almost squealed in glee. He knew Bill long enough to know when he didn’t say anything, he was telling the truth.

Let’s Try This.

Hey, this is an idea I had a long time ago and just have been too lazy to do until now. I am going to start posting chapters from my books here. I blogged all of Jason Of The Valley on MySpace back in the day and it got a considerable reaction. I think it’s time to try again with a larger audience. Also, I’d like to let you know that I began Free Book Friday (#freebookfriday) and every Friday I’ll be offering one of my novels for free. Which one this week? Who knows? Oh. Yeah. I do. But you’re going to have to wait. I’ll post here to let you know which one has been chosen. I figure it’s a great way to get a free book you can read if you have any down time over the coming weekend.

Anyway, let’s get the show on the road. This is the first chapter o f Jason Of The Valley. If you like and want to see more, let me know, otherwise I’ll post a different chapter from a different book next time. And if you like, be sure to share with others. Spread the joy! (btw the formatting of the novel doesn’t translate here, so apologies on that one.)

Chapter 1

Vodka & Nachos

 

FRIDAY, JANUARY 17, 2003

VAN NUYS, CA 9:13 P.M.

Jason Preston pushed through the security door leading to the courtyard of Terrace Lane Apartments in Van Nuys a little after nine in the evening. He walked past the planters in the courtyard that housed some overgrown plants that had oddly twisted trunks that seemed limp and weary, as though they were about to snap under their own weight. He looked at them and thought they were looking as tired as he felt.

As he approached his door with the little ‘9’ on it, he looked up and saw Cynthia Davis on her balcony above him putting up some bright, white lights.

“Hey! Cynth! What’s with the illumination?” Jason asked. Cynthia Davis, a pretty young girl with her strawberry blonde hair pulled tight in a long ponytail, looked down and smiled almost as brightly as the lights she was stringing up.

“I just thought I’d add a little something. Things just started looking a little drab lately. What do you think? Kind of like stars?” Jason looked up and examined them. They were plain white icicle lights. The kind that could be found strung along the ceilings of Italian restaurants.

“It’s nice. Kind of makes a dreamy effect.” He said as he looked up at the fine, white points of light above.

“Yeah, don’t they, though? They even make this place look magical. What are you doing home so late? Or is it early?” Jason laughed a bit at the notion of coming home early on a Friday night.

“Actually, it’s late. Just a lot of paperwork at the office. Cleaning up messes, late ads and what not.” Cynthia shrugged and let out a breathy sigh and went back to arranging her lights.

“You and your nine to five.”

“Sorry, we all can’t have the flexible hours of a massage therapist. It’s fine. Made a few hours of overtime. Desperately needed overtime.”

“Well, are you going out then?”

“Probably not. I’m too tired. I’m just gonna crash tonight.” Cynthia looked down at Jason in a disappointed frown.

“Oh.”

“Sorry. I’m just too tired. You can still go out. We’re not joined at the hip.”

“No, that’s okay. I didn’t want to go out especially anyway.”

“Fine, then.” Jason then turned to his door with his keys at the ready.

“Want to come up for a drink?” Cynthia asked. Jason stopped in his tracks. He craned his head back up to Cynthia.

“Did I not just say I’m tired?”

“Oh, come on! At least come up here for one drink. I just got a new bottle of vanilla vodka! Have to break it in,” Jason slumped his shoulders down. “You don’t have to get dressed up or anything. Just shower, throw on some sweats and get your ass up here!”

“Fine, fine. Give me a few minutes okay?” Cynthia grinned and danced back inside through her sliding glass door.

Jason knocked on Cynthia’s door exactly eight minutes later. She answered wearing a pastel colored jogging suit. He stood before her in a purple t-shirt, Novelty ‘Tootsie Roll’ lounge pants he had gotten at Target and socks.

“Come in, come in! I’ve been dying for a drink all day!”

“So, why didn’t you just have a drink?”

“Drink alone? Please. Then I’d have a problem.” Jason walked in. Her apartment was a chaotic tribute to new age and old Hollywood. Posters of old movies and dead stars littered her walls, with dream catchers in the window and sticks of incense and candles all over the place. She had a Sandalwood candle burning on her kitchen table where she led Jason and forced him down onto a seat.

“Just relax. I’m going to make you one of my specials.”

“Please, not too much okay? I’m not really in the mood to get drunk.”

“Did you have dinner?”

“No.” Cynthia walked over to her little white fridge and pulled it open. She instantly pulled out a large plastic bag and set it down in front of Jason.

“Some leftover nachos from the other night. I barely touched them. Feel free.”

“Thanks.”

“I told them I didn’t want any meat on them, but when I got home, it was like they just shredded a two pound steak right on top.”

Jason was barely listening as he dug into the heap of chips and guacamole and well-cooked steak. Cynthia was a devout Vegetarian, but she seemed to tolerate Jason’s never ending lust for meat. Cynthia looked at Jason with perverse curiosity as he devoured the nachos. He was like a lion on a freshly killed zebra.

“Easy! They’re not going anywhere.” Jason stopped for a moment.

“Sorry. I’m just really hungry. I barely had lunch and that was so long ago. I’ve been up and running around ever since. And today was a gym day too,” Cynthia sat down with Jason, with the Vodka bottle in hand and two glasses. She poured. “Straight up?”

“For now. Just to warm up. Looks like you could use a little jolt about now.” Jason took his glass. He swirled it watching the clear liquid inside very carefully. With a deep breath, he swallowed down the fluid. He shuddered violently almost instantly, coughing and choking.

“G-g-good. Real smooth.” He stuttered between heaving fits. Cynthia looked at him with sympathetic eyes.

“You are such a light weight. You need to drink more. Then you’d be able to handle it,” She said just as she gulped hers down as if it were air. “Not bad.”

“Just get me some soda for it. Please.”

“Sure thing, kiddo.” Cynthia got up and got a six-pack of cola out and put the cans on the table within reach. She poured more Vodka into the two glasses and passed one to Jason. He busied himself trying to drown the Vodka in soda.

“Okay,” He said, “What’s wrong?”

“What makes you think anything’s wrong?”

“Because you only have me up here for cocktails if there’s something wrong. So what is it?”

“My parents are coming in for a visit.”

“So? I thought you got along with your mom and dad.”

“I do. I do. It’s just they’re coming on a mission.”

“What?” Jason asked, raising an eyebrow because he knew that always made Cynthia laugh a little. This time was no exception.

“The never-ending crusade to make sure I won’t die alone. It’s a fix up visit.”

“Excuse me?”

“Mom thinks since I’m about to enter the big 3-0, it’s time I started thinking about marriage. She’s not satisfied with my dating style as it is now, so she went about finding a man for me. His name is Douglas Smythe. He’s the son of one of my dad’s friends.”

“So, they’re importing men for you now?”

“No, Douglas lives here in LA, but mom wouldn’t give me his number or address or anything. She insists on being the one to introduce us. It’s all about the credit for the match up for her. It’s her fondest dream to be there on my wedding day, telling everyone in the family how she brought me and my husband together. How she single handedly saved my life from the obscurity of old maid-hood.”

“God bless her.”

“Yes. So, we’re all going to meet and greet over lunch tomorrow. Which should be in twelve hours or so.”

“Well, at least you’ve some prospects.”

“What’s the matter? No one responding to your online ad?”

“No! It’s been two weeks. I put on the best picture I could find. I tried to be as clever and funny in my little write up as I could. There was one guy. We were emailing back and forth for a couple days, then I just gave him my number but he never called and I haven’t heard from him at all since. Other than that, it’s been zero. Every now and then I’ll get a wink or a nod from someone, but usually there’s something wrong with them. Too old, too scary. Too non-human. Am I a magnet for these freaks or what?” Cynthia put her hand on Jason’s head and stroked his soft hair gently.

“It’s not you, honey. It’s the world. You are a cute, sweet, adorable guy. Anyone would give anything in the world to be your boyfriend. You are a catch, plain and simple. Fuck ’em if they don’t see that. Right?”

“Yeah. It just seems everyone wants a thick muscled, model perfect stud. Anything less is rejected.”

“You are fine. Okay, you’re not cut like Abercrombie and Fitch models, but you’re not obese! You have a nice solid build, looks like. Perfect for cuddling. You always smell nice. If you weren’t gay, I’d jump you right now.”

“Oh, your mother would love that.”

“I’m sure she would. It would save her the trip of coming out here.” Jason laughed. He had met Cynthia’s mother once. She seemed to like him. She had no idea Jason was gay though, and Cynthia had no intention of telling her, as Cynthia’s mother was a very naive and sheltered person with simple, old fashioned values. The very idea of her daughter socializing with one of the homosexuals in the city of sin would just send her head first into the grave.

Jason noticed the clock on the wall. It read Eleven forty five.

“Okay, if that’s the big emergency, I think it’s safe to say it isn’t that harsh. I think I’m going to go to bed now.” As Jason got up, Cynthia grabbed him by the shoulder in protest.

“Just one more.” She pleaded. Jason looked into her eyes and lost all sense of better judgment.

“Fine. One more.”

Jason stumbled out of Cynthia’s apartment a few minutes shy of three. ‘One more’ had turned into six or seven more very potent cocktails. Cynthia had offered to let him sleep on the couch, but Jason preferred to sleep in his own bed.

She helped him down to his door where he struggled with the lock but made it in. It was dark and quiet as Jason walked in. Jason’s roommate, Ben Kollins, wasn’t home. One of the benefits of living with a porn star Jason thought.

Ben Kollins was something of a legend in the gay porn industry. He’d been in the biz for nearly ten years and seemed to only grow more popular as the years went by. He wasn’t getting as much work in the movies as he used to, but that was partly his choice. He made up for it with a blossoming go-go dancing career and he did a little escorting on the side as well. Jason wasn’t sure about living with someone like Ben, but after a week of living together, he realized he was just a regular person. In fact, he found many fringe benefits to having a roommate in the porn world. He was hardly ever home since he was so busy with his parties and dancing jobs. It was almost like living alone.

 Jason stumbled through the dark living room towards his room. He managed to navigate through the darkness without knocking over anything. He made it into his room and clumsily walked over some dirty clothes he had laying on the floor. Jason fell face down upon his twin bed. A sad little conviction that he would never share his bed with anyone ever. He turned over onto his back and looked up at the ceiling. He saw the light from the lamp outside his window shining in, creating shadows along his walls. His head began to spin and his stomach lurched but nothing came out. He relaxed a bit. He began to struggle to kick off his shoes. He felt the right one slip off at last and the left one came off a bit easier. He was about to sit up to take off his pants but decided anything beyond the shoes would be too advanced. He simply laid flat on his back, trying to focus on the ceiling but his head was spinning like a top.

His eyes began to focus and he looked over and saw his laptop laying on the floor. He sat up and reached for it, grabbing it by the little plastic handle in the back. He put it on his lap and flipped it open. The screen glowed with a white brilliance, lighting the entire room. The internet browser was already launched and ready to go. He just clicked and off he was. In the back of his mind he felt surfing the net in his condition would be a bad idea, but he was also too drunk to care.

He watched as the screens changed as it logged on. First the advertisements. Then the welcome page. Then more advertisements. He clicked through all those and clicked on the mail button, since the charming voice had alerted him that he did have mail. He could barely read the words, but he could tell the majority of his notes were just junk mail. A few forwarded jokes from his friends. He decided to read those in the morning. Then he saw something interesting. A response to his online ad. He opened it and read with amusement.

 

‘Hello’ it read. ‘I saw your profile online and I wanted to say hi. You’re really cute. I’m always looking to meet new people and you seem like the kind of person I’d like to know better. Here’s a link to my profile, read it and if you like what you see, email me back. Sorry but I don’t have a picture up yet, but I’ll send one soon. Hope to hear from you. Ian.’

 

Jason clicked on the link and tried to read what he could. He was twenty nine; his measurements didn’t appear to be abnormal. Not too skinny, not too heavy, he liked cats and seemed to be a real laid back guy. Jason wasn’t sure if it was the alcohol, but it would seem Ian was worthy of a reply at least. Jason clicked the reply button on his email and wrote as best he could that he liked Ian’s profile and would like to talk. By the time Jason had finished the sentence; he had totally lost consciousness and fell off the bed. He managed to drag himself back up. The computer had slid off his lap and had followed Jason to the floor. He picked it up and examined it. The message was still up and ready to be sent. He climbed back up onto the bed and after focusing his eyes on the screen, he clicked the send button. His message was sent successfully. With that, he shut down his computer, set it back down on the floor and stretched out onto his bed again. He soon fell asleep.

The next morning, Jason woke up tasting only his raw tongue in his mouth. He looked up and saw the morning sun was streaming into his bedroom. He then noticed the clock on the nightstand and noticed it was nearly noon. He saw his computer lying on the floor upside down. He couldn’t remember what had happened and just made a silent vow never to drink with Cynthia again. He grabbed his computer to see if he had been online. He saw that he had been. He logged on to see the damage he had done, or to see if he had wrangled any new nude pictures.

He checked the mail, but he saw no new pics sent to him, he did however notice a message with a subject line that read ‘RE: No Subject’. He clicked on it assuming to find a link to the latest, greatest website to see young, barely legal teens play with vegetables and vacuum cleaners. Instead he saw a real, honest to God message. A guy named Ian, who was talking to him as if they had spoken before. Jason checked his sent mail and was surprised to see an outgoing message to Ian that was sent the previous evening before he passed out. Jason was a bit amazed a reply had come as his note back to Ian could barely be defined as English. He was relieved that he hadn’t given out his phone number. Jason got up and felt a rush of blood race to his head. He stumbled back slightly and felt the world tilt. He suddenly felt a rumble shoot through his body and his mouth felt like it was filling with saliva. He bolted to the bathroom and dove for the toilet. It wasn’t long before he began realizing that Vodka and nachos did not mix.

Link

Valentine’s Day

Just a couple days away and we once more celebrate the day of love. I’m not feeling it so much this year as this year I find myself back in the single scene, but I don’t want to get into that. Instead, I’m trying to move forward and have chosen to turn a negative into a positive. I want to urge all who read this to check out my book ‘Jason Of The Valley’ for this special day. At its core, it is a love story and while it may not be the next ‘Gone With The Wind’ I think it’s a fairly adept modern take on relationships and dating, sprinkled with a healthy dose of sex and lust. It’s available both in print and digitally and if you like the first book, there are more volumes to read as well.

The characters aren’t like so many characters in other books of this nature. They aren’t perfect. They are flawed, real people who deal with the ups and downs of dating as most people would. They fall and seek the strength to get back up.

Celebrate this year with a little gift for yourself.

Spotlight: “Jason Of The Valley”

Jason_Of_The_Valley_Cover_for_Kindle

This week’s spotlight falls upon my first novel ‘Jason Of The Valley’.

This was officially my first published book and has been the cornerstone of my writing career. It so far has spawned three sequels with a fourth on the way. Promise.

It was born from my experiences of living in the San Fernando Valley. It starts off, I feel, at the point when I began feeling my independence and through the characters, I address issues such as dating, sex, fame, and relationships. It was a fun book to write, I admit.

I tried to just throw in a small bit of myself. Only 5% of it is based on my own life. The rest is all made up, although the following volumes have started to become more autobiographical.

The first book was actually written on a dare. My friend challenged me to write it because he thought I could only write screenplays. Three months later, I shoved that manuscript in his face and  he loved it. I’ve actually gathered quite a few glowing reviews for it from others as well. The book is rather gay centric, but I think there are parts that are rather universal no matter what your orientation is. In fact, I think there’s more straight sex in the first book than gay.

I have adapted this work into other forms, such as a feature script and a pilot script. I always thought this would work really well as a TV show. The pilot was under consideration at LOGO, but they passed because they claimed that they had a similar project in production, but that was 4 or 5 years ago and I haven’t seen anything from them yet.  I’m still working on that angle to this day. I just really believe in it and I can see it becoming a reality. I see it so clearly, it feels real.

So, if you’re reading this, go on over to Amazon.com and look up Jason K. Melby and buy a copy of JOV. I am certain if you read it to the end, you will love it.