My financial advisor suggested buying real estate because San Diego was quite a bargain, coming out of the early nineties real estate bust. We found a 3,200 square foot, spacious, 50-year-old three-bedroom home that an older gay couple had modernized recently. They were anxious to sell because of a nasty split up and accepted my first and final offer of $150,000. The purchase closed the end of January 1996, and I was now the owner of California real estate.
It was a two-story house on Monroe and Cleveland, just north of Hillcrest in an area called University Heights. This is an older San Diego neighborhood that, while mixed, is not quite as 'out there' as pink Hillcrest. And it was a short walking distance to Bourbon Street, a terrific gay bar with a fun group of all types and ages.
Brent was very happy with the financial arrangements I set up. He would handle the utilities, telephone and cable costs, while Mike and Doug would be responsible for the real estate taxes. A win-win situation for everyone.
I stayed on board the USS Stennis, Mike lived at the BOQ, and Brent resided in Transient Enlisted Housing until we could set up the new house to be habitable. In mid-February the movers from Minneapolis arrived with my household effects. Enough time had passed that I didn't feel uneasy about seeing my family's possessions. However, I temporarily placed everything in Bekins storage except bedroom furniture for two bedrooms, breakfast room furnishings and kitchen small wares. Brent suggested that plan so that any refurb I had in mind would be easier on the various trades' people working there. In a spending spree at Circuit City, we separately purchased computers and TVs for the bedrooms.
While the spacious kitchen area and bathrooms on both floors had been renovated with a tasteful, contemporary look, the rest of the interior was uninteresting. Fortunately, the former owners had invested in substantial landscaping and maintenance of the exteriors of the house, and one of the selling points was a large patio in the back yard with a gas grill.
In March, while reviewing the American Society of Interior Designers website, I found an interior designer, home-based in L.A. Bill McWhorter had done many projects in the San Diego area and the photos of his recent projects looked great. I called his office and made an appointment for us to visit the storage vault so he could have an idea of what could be used in an interior plan. On our first Saturday meeting, he picked me up and we drove to Bekins.
As I showed him the items in storage, Bill practically drooled at the Biedermeier furniture, antiques, and artwork.
"Do you have any idea what the art is worth?" Bill asked quietly in the stillness of the temperature-controlled storeroom. I had asked that everything be put in transient secured storage until a designer could evaluate the inventory.
"Well," I slowly answered, "Mom inherited some of the art- the Paul Klee, Modigliani and Kandinsky - and the furniture from an aunt years ago... before I was born. She bought most of the other art when I was a small boy. It's all stuff I grew up with. I think they were insured."
"That 'stuff', as you put it, is very valuable. All of it. My advice, Dave, is to have the art appraised by the La Jolla Museum of Art very soon. Whatever value they arrive at, add 10% and have the lot insured immediately."
"Really? What kind of numbers are you talking about?" I had never thought too much about these abstract oils; they had been hanging on our walls at home since I could remember.
"Conservatively, you're looking at three to five."
I raised an eyebrow. "Three to five what?"
"Million." He let that sink in for a moment. "I'm going to love creating some rooms around your art. But I strongly urge you to install a sophisticated security system for your home. The furniture and other antiques could add another two million."
'I knew that mom had her own money when she met dad. I just never thought that the two of them had such substantial assets, other than their investments,' I reflected, 'Guess I wasn't thinking too clearly at the time.'
Looking at Bill with a confident smile, I replied, "I'll handle that next week. Thanks." I also made a mental note to re-evaluate the insurance and art at Gull Lake. I added, "I have a couple of pieces of art in Minnesota that would be better suited here. Think about a look for the den and office that would be suitable for Native American subject art. I've got some photos and dimensions of the paintings back at the house."
"Let's go, then. I'm dying to find out what else you've got. This needs to be decided ASAP. I might as well lay everything out on the table and get the general feel of what I see happening. This art needs museum quality lighting. What I'm thinking of may add an additional $10,000 to the project. And the security system could be $8,000."
"Bill, I'll review the final estimate with you, but from what you've told me, It's all necessary. Let's just keep everything between ourselves. I don't want my partner, Mike, to be burdened by this."
This refurbishment was clearly part of my plan to start out fresh. Mike was to have equal say about the feel of our home. For continuity, Bill would also design Brent's bedroom.
"As soon as we agree on the project and design, I'll have my bank send you a check for a third of the proposal amount. Is that okay?"
"Dave, that's fine. Usually, there is another one-third 'progress payment' when the remodeling commences, and the final third upon completion."
Taking his hand, I shook it and smiled, saying, "It's a deal. But everything has to be done by July 1."
"Then I better get back to my office and start pulling together fabrics, colors and samples. Can we meet at your house next Saturday?"
"Yes. Mike and I will meet you and agree on everything, then. I set sail for a three month cruise the following week."
"We'll meet 10:00 a.m. next week, then?"
"Yes. And let me give you my financial advisor's name and contact numbers in Minneapolis. I don't want to talk about money in front of Mike." He nodded affirmatively as we left Bekins.
After getting into his red Mercedes coupe, he concluded by saying, "I've got a great feeling about this project. The design always reflects the client's personality and taste, not mine. You project a very powerful, lively image, and I'd guess Mike does the same. I'm going to capture that." I got in the passenger side and we were off to the house.
I was confident that the new upholstered furniture, carpets, wall colors, patio furniture, and window treatments would work with the furniture from St. Paul. The house was truly going to become a home. Poor Mike and Brent. I would be on a three-month cruise while the work was done. The ship was due to be back in port on 2 July and Mike was planning a housewarming party to double as my 22nd birthday celebration on the 4th.
Before leaving Memphis, I had been very upfront with Mike concerning the exact worth of my estate and dividend arrangements. It was more than I had originally realized and I didn't want to make the mistake, again, of not being upfront about the money. We agreed that the every day expenses would be shared equally. However, there would be unusual expenditures on occasion for which I would be responsible. The house and dcor costs headed that list.
It was Sunday evening and we were sitting at the kitchen table after dinner. Earlier, Mike and I had agreed with Bill on the design and new furnishings for the house.
"I'm glad that we've completed all the decisions on the place," I said positively. "The ship leaves port next week."
"Yeah, three whole months. I'll miss ya." Mike grabbed my hand and held it on the table. "But judging from the remodeling schedule, it will be a busy three months." Looking into my eyes wistfully, he continued, "I just wish that I could make more of a financial contribution to our home."
"The key word is 'our.' I have the resources to make it happen. And it is for us." With that, I retrieved a document from my backpack and gave it to Mike. "Check it out. We need to sign this with a notary soon."
Taking the legal-sized sheath of typed papers, he asked, "More surprises? What's this?" Turning the cover he started reading. Moments later, he looked up with a puzzled expression and said, "We're going to be equal partners in this place? Wow. Babe, that's generous. Too generous. I can't accept this. I..."
"No, Hon. It's nothing more than you and I partnering in this home equally. Think of it as an equity loan. If the real estate market does as well as I'm told it should, the value of our home will increase dramatically. If we ever sell, you can repay me the seventy-five grand from the appreciation of your half ownership."
"As long as we can do that, I accept. But I want that loan agreement in writing, because you are going to get paid back in the future...in full, with interest." Placing the document aside, he leaned over and whispered, "But I want to pay back something else tonight," Mike said as he gave my ear a tongue bath.
"You're not mad at me for doing this?" I asked as we both stood. I held him tightly and pressed my groin into his.
"When I feel that cobra of yours down in your pants stirring, matched only by your intelligence, good looks and honesty, how can I be anything but grateful for each day that we are in each other's lives?" We kissed passionately, our tongues sloppily dueling.
Catching some hot drool from the corner of his mouth, with my tongue, I said, "I love you, mister. Come on upstairs and 'Davey' will help me show you how much."
The move to San Diego was uneventful, but my friend Dave was full of surprises. He told me that he had some money from his inheritance and wanted to buy a house as an investment. We had never talked about his financial resources. However, after visiting the 'cabin' at Gull Lake, Minnesota, and daily observing his general demeanor, I gathered that money was not a problem. My total share of living expenses would not exceed $300 per month. Pretty fantastic for a guy who was now only getting one paycheck...from 'Uncle'.
I did take leave in early January to shoot the few scenes that were scheduled both at Fox Studios in Century City and the exterior shots in Mexico, for "Titanic." With my five lines playing opposite Kate Winslet, Sam arranged for my SAG card and name registration. There was already a Brent Williams. So, for my theater and film career, if there would be one, I was going to be called Brad Williams. However, to my old friends, I would always be Brent. That was the plan, anyway.
When word got out that Sam Barron represented me personally, it caused quite a stir within the Hollywood rumor mill. Dinner in mid-January with Sam, at the Hotel Bel-Air, after an easy studio shoot, was delightful and relaxed. Doug joined us. Just a comfortable evening with my partner and a friend. A very powerful friend. There was not a mention about the weekend escort contract last summer. That was history.
"Brent, I've been in touch with the director's office. Cameron is very impressed at the scenes you've completed," Sam said.
"That's great, babe," Doug joined in. "Sounds like you're off to a good start."
"In fact, he wants to add a few more scenes between you and Kate. I told him that it would have to be shot around your Navy schedule. He's fine with weekends. Probably sometime in March."
"Wow. I'm humbled. The first couple of days in the studio were pretty nerve racking. But I feel good about what I've done. Cameron seemed happy with the 'dailies'." The director, and sometimes the cast, usually viewed raw film footage of that day's work the end of each shooting day.
"By the time your next picture starts production this summer, there will be a positive buzz about you." Sam was beaming broadly. He continued, "I'll start some mentions about you in the trades and entertainment magazines next year, as 'Titanic' opens with pictures. Then, a character role on 'Friends', followed by a few TV movies. The movies for cable television usually have a six-month turn-around cycle. It's all timing. My office represents Mary Hart, so I'll get you in an "ET" feature at the same time. You'll be moving up here at the end of the year when you get out of the Navy?"
"Doug and I will be hunting for a place in the fall. Like my friend did in San Diego, we want to buy rather than rent. Something on the Westside, for sure. Maybe Hancock Park, if we can afford it."
"Boys, please consider security when you buy. You're going to be very popular once the film and TV exposure impact public interest. Trust me, I know where you're going. Brent, this is something you can't imagine now but a small handful of fans can be pretty ruthless in their adoration of a film star. There have been some unhappy incidents of stars being stalked. I suggest looking into buying a condo in one of the new high rises on Wilshire Boulevard."
"Yeah. A honeymoon cottage in the sky," Doug added with a laugh.
"Where are you living, Doug?" Sam asked with a sincere concern.
"I'm staying with the folks in the Fairfax area to hold down expenses until we buy. It's an easy commute to the studio. The promotion to a director's assistant will help out on the money."
"That should happen sometime in July. I also hear good things about the way you work, Doug," Sam offered. Coming from Sam Barron, that was high praise. "And don't worry about a down payment if you find something you both like. I can float you a loan."
As with Brent, Sam's interest in Doug did not go unnoticed in the industry. It was Power Play, 101. Brent and Doug were on the Hollywood Monopoly board. Boardwalk and Park Place, or bust. Correction. Make that Sunset and Vine.
The 'O' Club at North Island was Memphis, times ten. Coronado, a peninsula tip of real estate across the bay from San Diego where the base was located, was home to over 100 retired Admirals. 'Two-stars', like Clifton, were a dime a dozen. Although the building was unpretentious on the outside, the interiors were a time warp from another era. The 'O' Club was best described as 'country club, circa 1970', with a formality that was appealing to the older senior officers. The junior officers only went there for official parties. Fortunately, an annex by the south shoreline, in an isolated area of the base, had been transformed to a junior officer's hangout called JO's, as in Junior Officers. I smiled at the other possible meaning for the initials. It was a "get down and dirty" hangout for young party guys and no one above the rank of Lt. dared to venture into this commissioned meat market. Any single woman who arrived at the gate, requesting a pass for JO's, was granted immediate entry.
At our new home, Dave and I were together through the month of March. Knowing that we wouldn't see each other until July, we observed our last weekend as another milestone in our relationship. Brent was in L.A., conveniently.
After an excellent Saturday dinner at George's on the Cove in La Jolla, we returned to the house and retired to the master bedroom that had become our special place together, the temporary furniture layout notwithstanding.
"Babe, this is it for three months," I mentioned in soft tones while undressing. "That I'm going to miss you is an understatement."
"While I'm stranded on the Stennis with 3,000 horny sailors, what are you going to be doing?" he replied, stripping down to his briefs.
Walking over to Dave with not a stitch on, I moved my hand under the elastic of his briefs and gently squeezed his dick and balls. Feeling the heat radiating and his member stirring, I replied, "The same thing you're going to do. Jerk off - dumb ass." I slipped my finger further below his balls and into his pucker.
"Oh, Mr. Cole. I do believe you have ungentlemanly intentions towards me," he replied fluttering his eyelashes mockingly.
"Knock that 'Scarlet' shit off. I plan on screwing and tattooing you tonight, sailor," I said, forcibly yanking down his briefs that were then kicked off without hesitation.
Grabbing my hard cock, he started stroking, while nibbling on my pecs and nipples. "Dave, do you know how much I love you?" I sighed, as he moved in on my earlobe.
"How much, stud?" he asked in a very seductive manner.
"Enough to want your cherry." I reached down and squeezed his buttocks.
"That cherry went south some time ago. How about some good, old fashioned loving between two guys who never get tired of each other?"
"And never will." With that I guided my partner over to the bed and gently pushed him down before joining him. As we nuzzled face to face, I added, "I don't want to forget this moment." I brought my leg over his and embraced his body with full force. I felt Dave's cock throbbing...pushing into my groin.
"I want you in me. Fuck me with all your strength, Mike. I need to remember this night for a long time." With that, he crushed me with a smothering kiss. Slowly I moved on top, supporting my weight with strategically placed arms.
Reaching over to the lube, I squirted a shot on his hardness before liberally coating my cock. Now knowing my partner very well, I applied just enough lube at his backdoor to accelerate my movement in. After kissing the love of my life, I eased up, spread and raised his legs. "You ready?" I whispered. He closed his eyes and smiled while wrapping his legs around my waist.
To be part of the real filmmaking process was a long-time dream come true. As a production assistant, a lowly grunt in the filmmaking pecking order, I took shit from everyone until they knew that I wasn't going away. By the end of March, word slowly got around that I was a protg of Sam Barron. Suddenly, there were subtle signs of respect shown by the crew. Opinions were solicited. Favor was curried. My ass was kissed...a lot. Knowing how Hollywood worked, I took it all in stride. Rule of thumb number one: Don't say anything to anyone in confidence. If you do, it will come back to bite you big time.
Mom and dad thought of Brent as another son. Well, another son who slept with their real one. I was surprised at their accommodating attitude when Brent visited me. They understood that we shared a bed. Thank God they didn't know how many beds we had shared with each other and who knows how many others.
When we got back from dinner with Sam, mom and dad were still up. Arriving home, we entered the kitchen to find the lights low and light jazz music playing. Turning on more lights, we saw my parents on the couch, seriously making out. The lights startled them back to reality.
"Doug, turn those lights down," barked my dad. "It'll be a cold day in hell when a man can't get a little lovin' in his own house."
Turning off the lights, I called out "Sorry, dad. We're going upstairs." With that said, Brent and I gingerly found the stairway and went topside to my bedroom, silently snickering.
"Your folks are two real lovebirds. I now understand where your drive comes from."
"Just so you understand that my drive will be around for a long time. And my dick will be more than solid, lover."
"Show me how much," he replied licking his lips. After kicking off our shoes, we both pulled off our shirts and pants.
"I will in good time." After we simultaneously removed our briefs, I grabbed his shoulders and guided him over to my mattress. Easing him down, I smothered him with kisses after I joined him.
"Whatever you want to do, I'm into it. Rape and pillage me." He pulled me down for a kiss and added, "But whatever you do, let's keep it quiet. None of your moaning shit. I gotta be able to look your folks in the face in the morning."
"Scouts honor," I replied, leering at him. "And you gotta keep your trap shut too."
"How can I keep my trap shut with your hard dick in it, asshole," he replied with a confident smile.
Slowly, with my fingers, I started rubbing and massaging his hard pecs and nipples while reaching into his armpit area. As I leaned down, my mouth took over for my fingers. While I chewed and lapped, Brent groaned and said, "Can I put this session on my private account?"
Looking up, I replied, "Stud, this is on the house," with a wink. Moving lower, my tongue following the ridge of his six-pack, and I came to his belly button. After working around that area, my tongue found the treasure trail and explored the hairy surface briefly before coming up against a log in the road.
"Find something you like, Mr. Movie Director?"
"Yeah, and I think it'll make the final cut."
"Get me going," Brent whispered.
"I will. Tonight, you get the 'red carpet service' with a personalized Oscar. Ready?" I asked.
"I'm ready for the rest of our lives."
1 July rolled around and the house was miraculously in shape for Dave's return. While the fragrance of the place was definitely wet paint, the look was outstanding. The trades had executed Bill McWhorter's design skillfully.
Not that much was changed outside, but once you entered the front door, a vivid, contemporary, yet classic, dignity took hold. Bill McWhorter had thoughtfully prepared a portfolio that described each work of art and antique in detail. As a neophyte in art, I memorized Bill's notes to have a working knowledge of the artists and their accomplishments.
The living room's focus was the Paul Klee above the fireplace. The fabrics on the upholstery picked up on the colors in the painting. The Swenson antiques and furniture blended seamlessly with the new additions. On the opposite wall was the familiar Modigliani.
In the dining room, Bill had chosen a multi-lacquered red wall treatment to enhance the Kandinsky and accent the Biedermeier sideboard, table and chairs. The lighting consisted of wall-washers, artwork illumination from the ceiling, and pools of light over the table.
The den and office were a slight detour on the design curve. When Bill discovered that the home in Gull Lake housed two original paintings by Charles Russell, there was a cranial ejaculation on the spot. He also alerted the insurance firm to up the household valuation by another five million dollars. With dark brown ultra-suede walls as the background, the two oil paintings of this Western artist faced each other. A decidedly masculine flavor dominated the room with leather upholstery. The "L" shaped desk housed a new computer. On the third wall were Native American original art book sketches clustered in frames, along with small Hudson River-school paintings.
I took personal leave to meet the ship. While I couldn't run up to kiss my loved one on the pier, we would certainly pull each other into a stereotypically masculine hug. Kissing would come later - along with other things. Standing in civvies, I saw Dave in the distance as he disembarked, making his way down the gangway. He was anxiously looking into the crowd for a familiar face.
When our eyes zeroed in on each other from a distance, he burst into a big smile. I mouthed, "I love you." He mouthed the same signal. Moments later, he walked up and we hugged. It was a 'brotherly hug', but it created wood, nevertheless. As we were looking at each other, I said, "Welcome home, sailor. You ready to go home?"
"Yes, Sir. Home it is."
Mike and I sped home. When we arrived, I barely took the time to inspect the new renovations. That would come later. I remarked that "the place looks super," as we climbed the stairs. What was going to 'cum' was in the bedroom. I couldn't keep my hands off my lover as we undressed and dove into the bed. We both shot off within moments. The second time was more relaxed, but just as intense. And the third...well, it was gentle and loving.
My partner and I inaugurated the new master bedroom with the four David Hockney pool scene prints looking down on us from the walls. The pool reference was not lost on Mike as we made love.
After we showered and dressed, Mike and I walked through the house. I loved what the designer had accomplished in creating a home environment that blended Mike's and my personalities. Upon closer inspection, I realized that I treasured the art. 'It had meant so much to mom,' I thought, 'and this is more of a legacy than just an inheritance.'
The Fourth of July arrived and the first official party at Casa Swenson-Cole started on schedule: Margaritas and beer at 3:00 p.m....whoops, 1500. And it was a very exclusive invitation list: Mike, Brent, Doug, and me. The "Fab Four." Some day I would reveal to Mike the exact nature of our friends' original relationship. But not this year.
Sitting outside on the flagstone patio, we relished the relationship that had started precariously in Memphis and grew to a tight bond embracing four young men, who were each at the threshold of life-changing experiences.
"Before Mike starts the steaks, I want to make a toast to my friends." As I was standing, the rest of the group rose with their drinks in hand.
Walking over to me, Mike said, "Babe, I'm going to stand beside you...forever." He leaned in and kissed me on the cheek.
"Okay, guys. This will probably get all mushy but I want to say something. Out of a shitty conclusion to my 'real family' life, you have become the next best thing. I never thought, in a million years, that I could celebrate such closeness as we have tonight. None of you knew the crap I was going through when I arrived in Memphis." Turning to Mike, I continued, "That I could find such a wonderful anchor in my life is more that I dreamed possible. Thanks, buddy." I turned and kissed him. Passionately.
"Hey, get a room," Doug yelled in a joking fashion.
Releasing Mike, I replied with a grin, "If you haven't noticed, our room is next to yours, stud."
"Yeah, they have a twice-a-day sheet-changing service." There was collective laughter at Brent's throwaway line.
"Better than the way your sheets stand up in a corner on their own," Mike tossed in, with a wink.
"Ewww," everyone groaned.
"Bottom line, I love y'all. Brent, I hope that your new life as Brad Williams is successful. From what I've heard, you're going places. Doug...ditto. Remember us when you're rich and famous."
"We've got a long way to go," answered Doug.
Continuing, I said, "With two more years in this man's Navy, I've got plenty of options for the future. But I'm pretty sure I'll enroll in UCSD and go into pre-law. Mike and I have talked about his options. He's going to look for a restaurant management position in San Diego when he gets out. This will be our home for quite a while." With that I hoisted my glass as a signal for a toast.
After the guys drank a sip, Mike raised his glass higher to interject, "Before me stands the most important person in my life and our closest friends in the world. Here's to all of you."
"Cheers," was enthusiastically returned by everyone.
This ends the first volume.
Bill McWhorter is a real person. To view samples of his diverse interior design talents, go to his website: http://www.mcwhorterdesign.com/.