My Life As A Gay Man – The Series: 1969, My Days in L.A. and Jordan, Part 4
The spring semester was coming to an end – my last semester of classroom courses – after that, all I had was my thesis. By then, I had moved to a nice garden apartment studio off Melrose in Hollyweird; a place on a ground floor would be easier for Jordan I thought. But those last weeks were so busy, it seemed we never had a chance to connect, or, at least Jordan never had, and I naively blamed it on school work. Remember I was all of 22 and had not yet gone through the Gay School of Hard Knocks.
All this time, I never spoke to Reese who still hadn’t really nodded more than a few “hi – byes” to me at school.
As the last major project for the semester, my drama class would be producing a student play – mine. “Sorrowful Thunder” was a one act-er about a World War I doughboy who comes back after his disfiguring death by mustard gas to review his youth with the people in his life who counted. Sure it had a heavy anti-war theme, but peacenik shit sold. I had left the juiciest role for myself, that of the doughboy who you actually never see and who “talks” from the “trenches,” the floor, front stage, until the climactic scene when the spotlight hits him and you see him in all his disfigurement and pain. Reese and I hadn’t spoken much since the Halloween party but she was chosen to play my mother and we warmed up a bit to one another, at least in practice.
Bernie Katz, one of the rich kids in the cast who lived in Beverly Hills – his father was a big time TV producer for some sit-com that got canned the following season – offered to host an author/cast party at his parent’s place – they, of course, were conveniently out of town. And Bernie was a brother; we had run into one another a few times at The Stables.
With no car, I had no way to get to the party, but Reese offered to give me a ride.
“You’re still pissed, aren’t you, I didn’t pair off with that guy,” I said as we drove over, figuring this would be as good a time as any to clear the air.
“Don’t worry about it. You know, there’s always another pretty little boy just waiting around the corner.”
“So how’s Jordan doing?” I asked, careful not to show too much interest.
“You’ll have a chance to ask him yourself, “she replied smugly. “I brought him over to Bernie’s before the show.”
And there in the den, already drunk or high or both, were Jordan and Bernie.
I wasn’t about to wear my devastation on my sleeve, either to them or Reese whose sardonic glare told me she had known all about Jordan and me. Instead, I turned around, took a deep breath, and walked into the living room and a sea of fags and their faghags.
I was hoping that when Jordan finally hobbled over to me, alone, he would apologize or explain or do something to ease my pain. But he didn’t.
“That’s the way it is,” he muttered emotionless.
“You mean Bernie can take that nine incher of yours up his ass with no problem,” I replied, still trying to keep my cool. “Or is it his daddy’s money that gets you hard?”
“Maybe both,” said Jordan, and as he turned away, apparently to go back to Bernie who was standing at the edge of room waiting impatiently for him to finish his treatise with me, I did probably the nastiest thing I would ever do in my life.
I tripped him.
The room went numb as Jordan fell over like a theater flat being razed. I don’t remember much what happened next. Some guy I think punched me out, next thing I was in a cab going back to my apartment.
I never saw Reese and Jordan again.
The last time I saw Tommie, bags and boxes of garbage were steeped high outside his apartment door. On the top, in a crumpled ball, was his match cover collection. Broker than me, he had eaten shit and called the boss of his beauty shop in West Virginia and asked for his old job back. He said he was glad he hadn’t given his winter jacket away to the thrift shop.
By now I was living on Campbell’s soup. The last thing I wanted was to return to Jersey and my possessive parents, but with no car and no money to buy one with, it was next to impossible to find a job. I had worked since moving to Hollywood at the Broadway Department store on Hollywood Boulevard, just a few blocks from Grauman’s, in the gift wrapping department. Even after I got my degree that February, my boss, a motherly type straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting, was willing to keep me on as long as I wanted. Here I was with two degrees, wrapping other people’s shit in the windowless basement of the store for minimum wage.
Then came the earthquake of January of ’71, strong enough to break windows and twist pipes in Hollywood and bring down a hospital in the Valley, and I realized God had made my decision for me. A week later I was on a plane back to Newark Airport.
Many years later, when I was already a successful health care public relations and marketing executive, I ran into Terry Fallon, the guy who had played my father in my little one acter, at a PR conference at the Waldorf. He was now some big shit at Dow Chemical after years in LA and he filled me in on what had happened.
Reese had ended up marrying one of her clients who used her as a beard til she divorced him after ten years and moved to Hawaii.
And as for Jordan, the first furry love of my gay life, he died just a few years after our time together of uremic poisoning, probably from his infected stumps that he never gave a chance to heal.
He was 29.
Wednesday – George, my humpy hairy Arab-American and life partner who I’ve betrayed thousands of times.