New Year Challenges
by Jack Scribe
Jim Weiss was honorably discharged from the Navy, moved to L.A. in mid-December and accepted our invitation to stay at the condo until he found something. The something was a small, furnished studio on Larrabee, conveniently not far from Billy Forrest's place in West Hollywood. Jim set up his new digs on January 2nd and started school at Cal State-Northridge as a freshman the following week.
During the holidays, Doug and I had a small dinner party for Jim that included Billy, Tom Feldman and Mark Connelly...as anticipated, the new acquaintances hit it off and I was sure they'd all become good friends. The only missing in action guys were Dave and Mike - they couldn't get up to L.A. because of a full schedule of activities with the young guy, Justin. But we promised to get together around Valentine's Day.
After a relatively quiet, early New Year's Eve dinner at our place with the DiMarco family, Doug and I snuggled, loved, and snoozed in the New Year. In addition to my classes and a feature film, I committed to a spring publicity tour for the movie in the can in New York, Toronto, London and Chicago. Except for the Oprah show taped during the week in Chicago, everything else would be handled around long weekends. Doug was occupied in post-production and editing American History X before moving on to his next project. 1998 would be busy for both of us.
On a Tuesday evening in late-January, Doug and I were watching the KTLA ten-o'clock evening news to get caught up on the happenings of the day. Because of his early studio schedule and my studies, we were usually in a deep slumber long before the regular 11:00 newscasts.
We were both in our briefs, stretched out on the sofa, as the newsreader came on the screen after a commercial.
"Another crime of violence, and possible hate, was evident tonight in West Hollywood. A young, adult man, in his early 20's was mugged by a group of unidentified men. It appears that they were definitely intent on wreaking damage on another human."
Both Doug and I immediately perked up.
"Holy shit, there's definitely something wrong going down," said Doug.
We watched as the remote TV cameras showed a street that was vaguely familiar. Looking closely, I realized that it was a back street leading to the Pavilions super market at Robertson and Santa Monica Boulevards.
"Here's Eric Spellman, on scene, with the details," the newsreader said as he tossed it to the remote reporter.
"Tonight a vicious attack on an unarmed man occurred on a quiet street in West Hollywood. Witnesses say that three men in their late 20's attacked the man. Eyewitness accounts say that the men jumped from their truck and attacked the victim for no apparent reason. According to accounts, the victim had been shopping at a local food market and was returning home. Witnesses also stated that another man, unidentified, was with the victim. However, the second man fought off the attackers and deflected any serious injury. He apparently reported the crime from his cell phone after the attackers ran to their pickup truck and sped away."
"This is a fucking gay bashing," I said, with anger in my voice, "what a crock. Here we are, about to end another century, and this shit is still going on." Suddenly the phone rang. I turned down the TV volume as I picked up the telephone. "Hello?"
"Oh, Christ, am I glad I caught you in. This is Billy Forrest. Have you seen the news about the bashing?" Billy was breathing heavily and sobbing.
"Yeah, as a matter of fact. Um, we're watching it right now." I gave Doug a questioning look and a raised eyebrow. I whispered, "Billy Forrest" to Doug.
"Don't panic, but the guy they attacked is Jim Weiss. They've taken him to Cedars-Sinai."
"Billy...oh, Christ...I'm so sorry. What can Doug or I do?" My gut started retracting. Doug's interest in the conversation perked up. "Babe, the victim on the news story is Jim Weiss. This is Billy," I said to Doug. He immediately went to the kitchen and another phone extension.
"At this point, pray. I'm at the hospital, and from what I can gather, Jim has a broken leg and some cracked ribs. Those assholes were using some sort of pipe...thank God they didn't go for his head. The doctors say that Jim is going to be okay...so, I guess that's good news. What a shitty situation."
"We're coming right down," Doug said from the extension. "How are you holding up?"
"I'm doing okay. But you guys don't have to come here. There's going to be press and a lot of nosy reporters." We both heard trepidation in his voice.
"Screw the press," I replied, "Jim's a friend of mine and he's Navy buddies with both of us. Let the press try to piss on the flag."
"Fuckin' A. We'll be at the hospital in 20 minutes, tops," added Doug.
"I appreciate that, guys," Billy said with a sigh of relief. "I'm the lone ranger and the only witness."
"You're the other guy that fought them off?" I asked, in wonder.
"As much as I could. I got their license plate number before they ran. I've given the sheriff's investigative team a complete description of those assholes."
"We'll be there soon, buddy," I said with an upbeat, louder tone. "The sheriffs department will do their job - we'll make sure." Although the L.A. county sheriffs department worked hard to maintain good relations with the gay community, I had no compunction about using political connections if that's what it took.
"Absolutely. These guys' who did in Jim are goin' to jail," Doug added, "and be bitches for the cellblock."
"Just so you know, I'm in a private room off Emergency that's tucked away from any paparazzi. Those guys can be like piranhas. "
"Hold down the fort, reinforcements are on the way. Bye."
We quickly threw on sweaters, jeans and topsiders and made a dash for the elevator and the Explorer.
Doug and I encountered light traffic and arrived 15 minutes later. Not knowing the area, we parked on a side street and approached the Emergency entrance. At this point it was 10:55 p.m. - the major L.A. TV channels with their satellite trucks clogged the streets and the reporters were posed for the prime 11:00 p.m. news. Within seconds I was recognized and suddenly hyper-bright lights were focused on us. I took a deep breath and motioned Doug to ease into the background as several news reporters from print and electronic media moved in my direction. 'Fuck,' I thought, 'Showtime is not in my favor tonight.' But I was determined to make lemonade out of these lemons.
"Brad Williams, would it be correct to assume that you're here because of tonight's attack in West Hollywood? Do you have any statement you want to make?" a member of the CBS2 reporting team asked me, rushing up, breathlessly, and shoving a mike in my face. It was 10:57 p.m.
"What is your connection, Brad, to this alleged hate crime?" asked the reporter from NBC4.
I nodded, held up my hand and smiled - not saying a word. 'I've got to organize my thoughts...fast,' I decided. Within moments, three other TV crews were in front of me. I was very aware that all the network-owned stations in L.A. would be digesting and editing this interview for possible network distribution and cable. 'ET and Access will smell blood if this isn't handled right.'
"Guys, I'll be happy to answer your questions," I said in a loud voice so everyone could hear. "Why don't we coordinate your reports so I don't have to repeat myself?" I looked at my watch and noted that it was coming up on the top of the hour. I glanced with a smile at the CBS2 reporter - he wasn't happy that his exclusive interview had evaporated.
"Brad, this is going to be the lead story for everyone. Can you bear with us for a few more minutes?" asked one of the news reporters.
"At 11:01 p.m., you've got three minutes. Okay? I'd appreciate one reporter at a time asking questions. You guys figure out the rotation." I saw all the crews nod affirmatively as the reporters listened intently into their earpieces. I was, for the first time, pulling celebrity rank. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Doug give me a thumbs-up as he entered the hospital.
As the appointed time was reached, I was literally blinded by the lights of the cameras. I vaguely recognized the reporters from the various stations as they started their intros on the live feed.
"Brad, how do you happen to be interested in the attack on this young man?" asked a reporter from NBC4.
"Aside from the barbaric nature of this crime, I'm here because the victim is a friend of mine. He and I served in the Navy together."
"Do you think this was a hate crime against a gay man, Mr. Williams," asked the KTLA guy.
"Eric Spellman, right?" I asked. He smiled and nodded. "It was the report on your early news program that got me down here. To answer your question, the sheriff will have to determine what the motive of this senseless attack was. Let's wait for their investigation to answer that question."
"Brad, how do you feel about your friend being found, beat up, in West Hollywood?" the reporter from ABC7 asked. 'This attractive black man is venturing into dark waters with his question,' Brent considered.
"The same as if I had a friend who was beat up in South Central. I take it, Sir, that if this was happening in Watts, you probably would not be covering this crime?" I asked with a sober straight face. Watts was the epicenter for the riots in the 60's, and, today, still plagued by racial unrest. "I'm coming to the aid of a friend and Navy buddy." From the nods of the reporter's heads, it appeared that everyone had gotten the message.
"Do you have any word on how the victim is surviving?" Fox11 was represented. I knew that this was probably being broadcast live up and down the West Coast - but too late to feed the East Coast markets.
"My buddy is suffering, I'm told, from a broken leg and ribs. Thank God that he didn't receive any other serious wounds. Guys, please ask your viewers to offer a prayer for a man who didn't deserve the attacks from these morons and cowards. This is a man who served his country, and now I'm going to visit my shipmate and friend. God bless."
I slowly looked at each camera and solemnly nodded before I left. I heard a low murmur of approval from the crews as I walked towards the entrance of the hospital. 'Maybe referring to Jim as a shipmate was laying it on rather thick,' I thought, 'but it's technically correct in Navy-speak.'
The reporters gave individual good wishes - a variation of Brad and Mr. Williams - into their microphones and returned to their cameras for a wrap-up.
"Mr. Williams, please follow me, and I'll lead you into the hospital." I looked up and saw a middle-aged woman, dressed in a subtle business dress, smiling with a hand gesture.
"Thank you," I replied.
Doug joined me as soon as I entered the building and, before the uniformed security force could intervene, I nodded that he belonged. It was the second time in a matter of minutes that I had used my celebrity status for an advantage, but felt I hadn't abused the privilege. 'Cedars-Sinai P.R. department functions like a finely honed engine,' I considered as we walked down the spotless hallway with the woman, 'but Billy and I, on a pecking order, are pretty small fry when you consider Liz, Rock, Marlon, etc., who have been treated here, also.'
"Mr. Forrest is in a private waiting area. If you will join him, I will arrange for your party to visit Mr. Weiss."
"How is Jim doing?" I asked as we stopped at a doorway.
"From what I can gather, Mr. Weiss is a very lucky man. His broken right fibula has been set and his ribs are being treated as part of a body cast. Not a pretty picture, Mr. Williams, but very routine. The attending physician said that all the body scans are negative and has just given his approval for visitors." She smiled as the door was opened. "By the way, Mr. Williams, I was very impressed at the way you handled the press."
"Had to be done. Thanks, for getting me away from that pack." I nodded, shook her hand and followed Doug into the private waiting area.
"Guys, thanks for coming," Billy Forrest said, as he stood. "I saw your interview just a few minutes ago and it was awesome."
Doug and I walked in and immediately went into a group hug with our pal.
"I understand that Jim has been treated and is covered in a ton of plaster?" I asked.
"He's up in one of the hospital wings, but I wanted to wait for you two to arrive so we could all go up together."
Billy looked very vulnerable at this point and I felt compelled to hold his right hand with both of mine as I said, "We'll do this together. Ready to roll?"
"Hell, yes," Doug replied in an upbeat manner. "Let's see how the little fucker is getting along."
The remark seemed to snap Billy back to a more even balance. He released himself from my hands and stood a little straighter. The P.R. lady showed no reaction and I figured she had been with many people when they were at their most vulnerable state. 'Probably has seen it all.'
She smiled and said, "Gentlemen, please follow me. Mr. Weiss is ready to receive visitors."
We were led to a remote, unmarked elevator. Once inside, we were whisked up to the 10th floor - everyone silently watched the numbers flash on the indicator panel.
"Can we all see Jim at the same time?" I asked.
"That's not a problem, Mr. Williams." The elevator door parted open and we exited by a nurse's station. Walking down a corridor, she continued, "However, I've been advised that you need to make the visit brief - no more than 10 minutes - in that Mr. Weiss needs rest."
We all noticed a uniformed L.A. county deputy sheriff at the door to Jim's room. The officer looked at us very intently and said to our P.R. escort, "I assume that these men have been cleared to be on this floor?"
"Yes, officer. They are friends. And Mr. Forrest is the witness to the attack."
The officer nodded, stepped aside and opened the door.
"Thanks, Ma'am," Doug said.
"I'll wait for you at the nurse's reception desk," she replied before departing.
We walked into the single-bed room. In addition to soft perimeter lighting, there was a glow coming from the wall-mounted TV. I grabbed the privacy curtain and pulled it back. Jim was hooked up to various wires and an IV. The digital monitors mounted on the wall indicated all the vital-sign readings. "Hey, buddy, ready for a few beers?" I asked with a smile.
"Brent, guys. What a fuckin' mess, huh? Thanks for coming," he said in a low voice. As expected, Jim's right leg was in a plaster cast and was suspended, partially in the air by a pulley device attached to the ceiling. A sheet covered his body cast. Except for some scrapes on his face, he appeared better than I had feared.
"Hey, babe," Billy said as he walked around to Jim's left side. Stroking Jim's hair, he continued, "We can't stay long. I wanted you to know that I gave the sheriff investigators the license plate number of their pickup truck and general descriptions of those assholes."
"Thanks," Jim replied as he forced himself into a small smile. "From all those homophobic things they were shouting, I'm pressing for this to be considered a hate crime. I have some bucks to hire a lawyer."
"Don't worry about that, bud. I'm going to call Tom Feldman. He and his dad are plugged into this town. Tom will know who to call."
Jim nodded - as much as he could - at the mention of Tom Feldman.
"Brent's right. Tom will know exactly what to do," Doug added.
"I really appreciate this visit. Guess this puts school on hold for a while," Jim said, with a wistful expression. "Oh, Brent, thanks for your comments on the news. I watched the interview and you putting your ass out there for me was fucking great."
"Nothing more needs to be said. You'd do the same for any of us." I reached over and lightly squeezed his shoulder. "How long will you be in this place?"
"Perhaps I can answer your questions," came a voice from the doorway. As heads turned a tall man in a white jacket with a clipboard walked into the room and towards the bed. "I'm Doctor Benjamin, the Orthopedic Resident."
"Doc, I'm Brent Williams in real life and the goofy-looking guy is Doug DiMarco. We were with Jim in the Navy. Billy Forrest is a close friend." I decided that close was the best term to use in describing Jim and Billy's relationship to a stranger.
"I saw your interview on the news. As they say in the Navy, 'well done'. Now let me give you a little rundown on your buddy." The doctor moved over to the bed and nodded to Jim. "We think Mr. Weiss is probably a very lucky man. The body cast you see is precautionary - there's an area near the spine that looks suspicious and we just want to make sure everything stays in alignment until the swelling goes down. An MRI will be performed first thing in the morning to determine if there's a problem. My guess is that he'll be just fine and we can replace the cast with a rib belt."
"Doc, I hope you're right. This body cast really will put a cramp on my love life," Jim replied with a sly grin. "Not to mention the tube that's jammed up my dick."
"Oh, I think that won't be a problem once you've started healing. The catheter will be removed once you are mobile, and the leg is in traction just for the night to make sure the broken fibula is in line for mending. If the leg looks good in the morning x-rays, we'll remove the traction."
"How long is Jim going to be in the hospital?" Billy asked.
"There are ifs to consider. The heart monitor is in place to make sure the heart wasn't bruised from that nasty blow to the chest. But if everything checks out - and I'm optimistic - then he'll be in the hospital about six days, tops. The challenge is that he'll be moving around in a wheelchair for a month to six weeks. I hope that where he lives is all on one floor?"
"He's going to be staying with me and the building's handicap compliant," Billy said while he grabbed Jim's hand. The unsaid physical statement of a relationship beyond being friends was very clear to all.
"Good, Billy. The only other thing is assistance getting in and out of the wheelchair to go to the bathroom. Later, you may need to help him become familiar with crutches."
"Never fear, I'm nurse Forrest at your service," Billy replied with a mock salute.
Everyone joined Billy in a well timed and much needed laugh.
Dr. Benjamin, who had played very straight up to now, chuckled, winked and patted me on my back. "Guys, that's about it for me," he said. "I wanted to stop in and give all of you the progress on your friend. With a little R 'n' R, Jim will be just fine. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a few more patients to see." The doctor shook hands with the guys and left the room.
"What the doc said is good news," Jim said to break the sudden silence.
"What about insurance?" Billy asked. "This is going to cost a mint."
"Probably one of the luckiest, and wisest, things I did was to take out a health and hospitalization insurance policy that was offered to any students registering at Cal State, Northridge - a special deal that Blue Cross has with the school. And to think I almost didn't take it to save $200 bucks a month. In fact, I just got my card in the mail."
"God must be watching over you," Doug said. "Depending on our schedule, at least one of us will check in with you each night. We gotta get that hot bod of yours back in shape," he added with a chuckle.
"That, I look forward to. See ya, Hon," Billy said, as he leaned down for a light kiss. We all waved as we left the room.
The deputy sheriff nodded as we filed out. "Mr. Forrest," he said as he stepped forward, "would it be convenient to go over to the sheriff's office in West Hollywood tomorrow morning for a line-up? We've picked up some suspects based on your information."
"I'm anxious to cooperate. Could we do it at 8:00 a.m.? I've got a class at ten that I can't miss."
"Shouldn't be a problem. You know the location?"
"Yep. I drive by the station almost every day," Billy replied. "Good night, deputy."
We returned to the reception area and were met by the same hospital P.R. representative. "Mr. Williams, Mr. Forrest, there are still some photographers outside. I suggest, since Mr. DiMarco is less recognizable, that he get your car and meet you two at our back underground private entrance."
"Sounds like a plan," I said. "Billy, you need a lift?"
"Yeah, I do. The EMS team was kind enough to let me ride in the ambulance."
"I'll be back in ten minutes to get your famous butts outta here," Doug answered with a wink.
The P.R. rep, two nurses, and Billy joined Doug and me in a laugh. 'God,' I thought, 'we need a laugh right now.'
After dropping Billy off at his apartment, we returned home and went to bed - pretty much spent from the excitement.
I had called Mike and Dave in San Diego from my cell phone on the drive back to the condo and gave them a capsulated version of the evening's events. They were planning to come up to L.A. to visit Jim this weekend and see if Mark Connelly and Tom Feldman could join us. Mike mentioned a new restaurant he'd like to check out and I told him that we'd handle the reservations. I smiled when he suggested the hot, new Spago in Beverly Hills - when I was attending UCLA, I had dined with friends at the original West Hollywood Spago.
"Babe, I'm too keyed up from tonight's activities," I whispered into Brent's ear. It was 12:30 a.m. and I was wired.
"I know what you mean. I was thinking about Jim and our Memphis days. The memories seem pretty distant at this point." Brent moved so that he faced me.
"It's only been a couple of years but I see your point. You, me...all of us." I shifted my body so that my leg wedged in between his thigh and crotch. My cock stirred as my knee came into contact with his ball sac.
"Ahhh, I think we've stumbled onto something to relax ourselves," Brent replied while bringing his hands up to my face. He navigated my head until we were nose to nose; lips to lips. By years of automatic reflex, our tongues hungrily searched for contact.
"Mmmm," was all I could utter as we locked on to each other and tongue-fucked. My fingers found their way to his pecs - his hard, taut nipples were too good of a target to pass up - as I rubbed my hard dick against his thigh.
"Doug," he said, pulling away, "We can find a better use for your hard cock than a little friction."
With little assistance, he moved my body up and over so that we were in perfect unison. His pumped up dick was dribbling pre-cum into his navel; my aching, swollen penis was parked by his ball sac.
"This is pure love...at its finest," I whispered as I rose to my knees and reached for the Wet. I uncapped the lube and dribbled it on both our dicks and my hand. Except to ease initial impact at his rosebud, he could accept me with minimal effort. This foreplay, by two men who knew each other's bodies intimately, was part of the lovemaking ritual.
"Like buttah," Brent replied with a chuckle.
He raised his legs and held them high while I took two fingers to explore his chute. He flexed his sphincter muscles with approval as I found his little acorn-shaped nut. I massaged his prostate just long enough to get his attention. 'Boy,' I reasoned, as he aggressively wiggled, 'did I get his attention'. "Close your eyes," I said. "The next thing you feel will not be my finger." I made sure that my cock was liberally coated with lube before I began entry. He instinctively relaxed and pushed out as my cock head entered the well-traveled path of our love. On other evenings, he would treat me accordingly.
"Oh, fuck, babe. This is great," Brent groaned as he twitched a little. "I remember the night we met. I never get tired of making love with you, champ." He opened his eyes and winked.
I slowly slid completely into his eager orifice. "Hold on. You're going to remember this night, too." My throbbing cock started moving in and out in a long-dicking pace that was paradise to my experienced partner and receiver. His legs moved down to my waist as I accelerated the motion.
"Ah, shit...urghh...give it to me, ohhh," Brent uttered.
I seriously began variations of entry, attempting to hit his nut frequently. When I felt him tensing, I momentarily parked in his ass. In those moments, I gently massaged his shoulders.
"Buddy, you're too tense," I said as I started plowing his butt hole.
We played this stop and wait edge game a couple of more times.
"Make this the real thing," Brent commanded. "I'm ready."
"Ready and able." I started up my piston motions and rammed deep inside until we both shot our semen in magnificent, mind-blowing climaxes. 'Thank God for soundproofing,' I thought, as we came...simultaneously.
After tidying up, we lay spooning together with my chest pressed against his back; my flaccid cock against his warm crack. My hand was absentmindedly rubbing his abdomen. "Brent, that was beautiful. Thank you," I said as I kissed his shoulder.
"Love you, always. We both needed that...although I'm still not tired," he said with a sigh. "Wanna talk?"
"Sure, Brent. Whazzup?"
"That business with Jim's bashing and me pussy-footing around my sexuality because of public image is the pits. Part of me wants to say fuck it, come out and let the cards fall where they may."
"You're unfortunately in a Catch 22 situation. Fact is, most of America would have second thoughts about the hottest new cinema heartthrob if he was known to suck dick." I added with a snicker, "Fans like their boys to be hetero. I don't see Brad Williams, cocksucker, selling many tickets."
"But at the same time, Monica what's-her-name can blow the President in the White House. Doesn't seem right," Brent replied as put his fingers around my nipple, "that I've got to sneak around to lick your weenie."
"Ouch," I yelled when he pinched...hard. "But that's the way it is...and you can suck my cock anytime you want to."
"It is a pretty nice dick." Brent kissed my neck and gently rubbed my nipples. "I guess that we need to stick to our long-term game plan. You become a great director and I get my law degree."
"Just to be a successful director will be good enough for a while." I shifted around a little and leaned on my elbows and added, "I want to pay for my share of our growing home." We had recently purchased the two-bedroom unit next to ours for more space and had received approval from the homeowner's association board to create a connection between the two condos.
"We've agreed not to go crazy spending," Brent remarked, "and I don't want to get tapped out."
"Even with the expansion, our finances are in great shape," I replied.
The design would create a gigantic master bedroom, bath and personal entertainment center. Over 4,000 square feet in the sky would give us plenty of growing space. The bedroom we were now in would become a large guest room. Construction was scheduled to start next month.
"You and I will be doing this film, starting in the summer. How far you thinking 'long-term'?" I asked.
Brent gently moved on his elbows so that we were facing each other and said, "As I said, when I finish law school - probably about five or six years. That's long-term enough."
"At the rate you're going, you'll be the hottest star in movies by then." I rose up and turned on a low-wattage bedside lamp. 'Might as well be able to see each other,' I thought, 'because it sounds like my baby is going to get all serious on me.'
He set up on the bed, crossed his legs and looked at me intently as I assumed a similar pose.
"And you'll be the hottest director. I've been thinking that, in our family, there should be room for only one person in this crazy show business. That person, lover, should be you. Once I pass the bar, I plan on retiring from the movies."
"Brent, you would be blowing away millions. That's a lot of bread." I was a little taken back that he was actually planning on such a bold move.
"How much do we really need? In addition to what we've already invested, we'll be socking a lot away over the next few years. By the time I change careers, we should be set forever."
"Good point," I replied. I knew Brent had made up his mind and it was my job to be supportive.
"I figure we'll still have enough to spend some bucks...like what we're planning to do with the condo...and have plenty to live very well." Brent took a deep breath and held my hand as he continued, "I'm okay - at this point - playing this little charade with the press for my career. But the idea of hiding in the Hollywood closet for a long time is not appealing. As we discussed, coming out at this point will grind my potential star into dust. Not many actors have survived and I'm not going to be a token 'out' gay actor. Look at that Rupert guy."
"You've really been thinking about this," I said as I squeezed his hand as a positive reinforcement of what he said. "I guess we have some serious planning to do."
"Absolutely, and I've got some pretty fuzzy ideas we can bounce around. In the meantime, shut off the light and snuggle with me. Morning will come soon enough."