Levi saw the little clock on the nightstand mocking him. 3:18am. He and Damien had kissed—oh, how they had kissed—for hours, kissing and slowly disrobing—and oh, wasn’t that the best foreplay ever?—as the Previews, Coming Attractions and the “Get Snacks in Our Lobby” message before the Feature Presentation that was their lovemaking began playing. And that Feature Presentation, “Surreal Sex with a Star” was another marathon session. “My God Who I Don’t Believe In,” Levi thought, “Thank you!”
Damien was without doubt the best lover he had ever had–not that Levi ever ranked people in such a dehumanizing way (although Mike Randolph from college was definitely bottom of the list) and not that he had had so many lovers or partners that there would be intrigue about who even made the Top 40. He hadn’t even had forty so the list wouldn’t have been as long as that week’s top singles on the Billboard chart. Promiscuity had never held much appeal to him; he was more the Relationship Gay who, on occasion—and usually in a manic mood—played the part of an adventurous, aspiring Bad Boy. But, even then, he recoiled from sex as sport. The last time he had put on his Bad Boy persona, he had ended up in a Kings Street condo where the man he had met—without any invitation from Levi– removed his own pants and boxers, lay across Levi’s knees, and told Levi to spank him. After a few mild pats, being unable to actually spank the powdery-white office job-flat buttocks of a 40-something stuck in his Frat Boy Past, Levi laughed his way out the door, apologizing as he left that. . . he just couldn’t.
No, he wasn’t one to jump into bed all that often with men he had just met. Barry had been—though no strings attached—his blow up doll of a boyfriend. When they needed someone, they had each other, even though no love lay between them. Just a lot of boredom, thanks to Barry’s never-ending sagas like “The Cup Lid Wasn’t Secured Enough” or that old thriller, “So I Kept Hearing This Sound Coming From the Dryer”.
So as Levi lay awake, unable to sleep without his Klonopin and Lamictal and Lithium and those other pills he took but couldn’t pronounce, he could only look about him and wonder. . .had he lost his mind?
Really. . .had he lost his mind? Was he actually in bed with former Oscar nominee Damien Lanchester? The same Damien Lanchester who was currently splashed across Los Angeles in tower-high billboards, dressed as a hunky, young (okay, youngish but really hunky middle-aged) Santa Claus in an upcoming CGI origin story? He had to have had a nervous breakdown, right? Maybe he had taken an accidental second dose of everything—he had already almost done that once before. Maybe he just went crazy and was hallucinating, having a fever dream in which he had gay sex with a Hollywood hunk? This couldn’t be real. He must be homocinating?
But, no. . .he could not move because Damien had a leg thrown across his own, an arm under his neck. And his chin stubble was really–Really!–scratching the top of Levi’s head. To stir would be to wake him. So, no, Damien was really there—that was his chest hair against Levi’s cheek, the foreground to the digital clock in the background. That was Damien’s soft breathing in the air. His hardness against Levi’s body. This was real, but as surreal as real could be. He was in a bedroom that looked like it could have been designed and shot for Architectural Digest, except for the two naked men in the tossled bed where bedsheets had come undone and parts of the mattress been exposed as they humiliated the bed in their tryst. Conde Nast-picture perfect the room was, except for the clothing that was strewn all over, removed and vigorously thrown as if it caused offense who cared where, pants there and over there, socks all over the room, underwear here and down there where it wouldn’t be found until the next time the housekeeper dusted and found Mister Lanchester’s little skivvies beneath the bureau. And the lights of Los Angeles, little dots of light in the blackness, in full view via the enormously wide, floor-to-ceiling windows looking out.
He lay as still as he could, not to wake him. And as much as he hated that he could not sleep and was as hungry for his medication as he was for a secret cigarette and a drink of cool water, he also lay there and enjoyed every moment, even his arm that had long ago fallen asleep and was probably purple now because Damien had fallen asleep atop it. The pin pricks had stopped a while back. If it was really as dead as it felt, Levi thought, this night made amputation worth it.
In the morning, after they had showered, had breakfast in Damien’s room—and after Damien had spent some time with Track—they had sex again. And after that, and with Damien needing to get to a studio to begin the barrage of press interviews to promote Santa Claus: Christmas Warrior by noon, Damien arranged with the nanny to get Track to another part of the house so that ‘Mister Lee’ could be snuck out.
“Not,” Damien assured him, “That he won’t eventually see you here in the morning coming out of his Daddy’s room and having breakfast with us in the kitchen.”
That was an interesting point and one that calmed Levi somewhat. Still not all that sure he hadn’t indeed lost his mind, it was reassuring to know that Damien—at least in his words—did not perceive what had happened the night before and again that morning as a one-time thing. Levi hated the idea that this was a one-and-done; he hated knowing that he would anxiously await a call from Damien and, most likely, eventually come to the realization that he’d not only never see him again without buying a movie ticket, the phone calls promised would never come and the relationship his mind had reluctantly begun to fantasize about as they lay in bed, as they suffocated on each other’s kisses, as they ate breakfast in bathrobes on the terrace off his bedroom–overlooking the canyon cliffs and trees and rooftops of homes below them–would never materialize. He knew that Damien really did have a movie to promote—Hell, they passed a billboard for it at Hollywood and LaBrea—but he feared this also allowed Damien an opportunity to “forget” him, to conveniently leave what had happened between them as a pre-blockbuster independent while his major blockbuster film hit movie screens.
“I’ll be going to New York tomorrow for three days, doing a morning show each day, some radio and print interviews and The View and The Tonight Show. I drew the line at Andy Cohen, though,” he explained. “But when I get back. . .I’d like us to get together.”
“Absolutely.” Levi flashed him a sweet smile, belying his belief that he would never be this close to this man again. “I’d like that.”
“I would, too,” Damien said as his SUV plunged deeper and deeper into the bowels of the Hollywood and Highland parking garage, down to the bottom level, where Levi’s car was parked from the day before. “How late can I call you?”
“What do you mean?”
“When I’m in New York. If I called you at, say, midnight here, is that too late?”
Well, that was unnecessary, Levi thought. Acting like he’d actually call.
“You can call me anytime. If I’m sleeping, the ringer is off so. . .don’t worry about what time it is. I’d talk to you anytime.” Levi smiled at him and, as Damien pulled up to Levi’s car—which seemed to ask, “Where have you been? I’ve been worried!”—Damien told him, “I am going to call, you know.”
“I believe you.”
“No you don’t.”
“No. . .I don’t,” Levi laughed. “So. . .prove me wrong.”
Damien grabbed his face with two hands and kissed him, one of his soft kisses that grew deeper and more urgent and seemed to last forever.
“You have no idea how wrong you are,” Damien told him.
After they said their goodbyes, kissed a few more times, and then went their separate ways—Damien to Paramount for an Entertainment Tonight interview, Levi to his car—an anxious feeling to get home possessed him. He had to take some pills—he had now missed his evening, bedtime, and morning doses—and get some sleep. He hated the idea of sleeping through a day off, especially as he had planned on climbing up to the top of Mt. Lee—no relation—previously. But, the night before and the morning had been worth the disruption to his schedule. If only, he thought sadly, it didn’t have to be over.
After sitting dejectedly in his Mustang for a while, he turned the ignition and roared it to life. Slowly he pulled out of his parking space, telling himself to realize that whatever world he had just experienced over the past night and morning, it was a world he would never see again. Well-known actors—out of the closet or not—do not date men who work in retail when they were surrounded by other actors far more attractive and better off financially than the manager of a child’s toy store. It simply was–like Levi–crazy.
By the time he pulled out of the garage, daylight exploding around him, and raced through the light at Johnnie Grant Way, this resolve seemed firm and set. He would never hear from Damien again and he would have to be fine with that. One can not change the unchangeable.
But when he got to the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue, where he was stuck in the ever-present morning traffic, he heard his phone vibrating.
““Hey there. This date we’ve been on for the past fourteen hours or so? It doesn’t have to end. Let’s pick it up tonight, on the phone. I’ll call once I’m settled into the hotel. Until then, I’m sending some virtual kisses your way.”
This was followed by another text: “This is Damien, by the way. If you’ve forgotten me already, I’m that good-looking hunk you slept next to last night. The one who can’t wait to fall asleep with you again.”
A car horn blared at him as he read the text messages a fifth time and he threw his phone onto the passenger seat and jumped on the gas pedal to go through the green light now turning yellow.
Hope and happiness as he hadn’t known in. . .a long time. . .if ever. . .flowed through him.
Damien Lanchester was not playing around.
Damien Lanchester wanted to see him again.
Most importantly. . .Damien Lanchester did not use emojis or acronyms.
And that last, like nothing else, made Levi shout happily, “Thank God–he uses full words in text messages!”