Bliss Ch. 00byeric05©
DISCLAIMER: You are about to read a story that is strictly fan-FICTION, in no way represents true accounts and is by no means intended to harm or disrespect the persons depicted. I do not- nor do I wish to imply- that I know Mr. Gyllenhaal, his private life or his sexual preferences. This is true as well of all other celebrities mentioned throughout the story.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: I owe a tremendous debt to the creator of 'Jake's Merry Band of Men', George66, who lit a spark that set fire to my imagination. His encouragement and support of this sequel was invaluable.
The celebrities were busy "rubbing elbows" as they called while the other guests tried to sneak their way into the conversations of the rich and famous. It was Carrie Fisher's annual Christmas party and she'd invited a vast assortment of A, B, and even D-listers along with the occasional common folk. Among the A-lister's was bright young star Jake Gyllenhaal, dressed in a suffocating black tuxedo and trying his best to enjoy himself. All he had to do was put in a little face time, shake some hands, mingle a little and than he could be on his way. Reese was currently on her way back from visiting her parents in Tennessee and he wanted to get back to the house before she arrived.
'Fa la la la la... La la la la
Deck the halls... With boughs of holly... Fa la la la la'
The old Christmas music, that had initially been quite pleasant sounding, was now verging on downright irritating. Jake scratched his finely trimmed beard; he was well groomed for the occasion—although his dark brown hair was longer, rather shaggier, than usual due his latest role in up-coming The Prince of Persia epic. While he'd become used to wearing hats in public, tonight he'd managed to slick it back well enough so that it complemented his thick brows and blue eyes. Gripping his glass of crystal champagne Jake spotted a cluster of somewhat-familiar studio heads laughing around a small serving table. He took a deep breath and walked over.
"Gyllenhaal," one of the men exclaimed, "Merry Christmas!" They all exchanged more or less warm greetings. It wasn't Jake's favorite crowd but it beat floating around the crowded great room aimlessly. As the three older men began to resume their conversation, Jake smiled politely to mask familiar feelings of desperation. He quickly reminded himself to think like an anthropologist. I'm not one of them. I can still work in Hollywood and not be one of them. The three men began to resume their conversation; "So Melissa and I have decided to go the Hybrid route from now on. Plus, don't we all have to set an example for the little people."
This was Karl Bronx, studio boss of Screen Gems and very into "setting examples" for other people. Jake secretly despised the man and found it hard to look his wife in the eye.
"Hybrids? Those space-ship looking contraptions?" inquired Jonathan Dish, the eldest of the three, and head of the 20th Century Fox back lot. "I just don't understand the fuss. Since when did our city become the spokesperson for environmental protection?"
Only since people started to take notice of global warming, Jake thought, wishing he had the guts to say it out loud. Jonathan was one of those off-putting corporate sharks, a tall, elaborately made-up man who dressed for a different generation— yet still drove a slick jaguar— and often looked down upon the far left. No matter how many hints Jake dropped to the contrary, Dish refused to believe that, where it really counted, the majority of "his" town actually consisted of bleeding heart liberals. Every encounter Jake had with the man left him determined to set the semi-coddler straight, and every time he chickened out. Jake hated how pompously the man sounded while judging others as if didn't regularly hire hookers to piss on him while he called them Master; an industry rumor that Jake found both amusing and surprisingly plausible.
"Well, because we're expected to spread the wealth. And you know, 'take steps to preserve the environment for future generations,'" Karl answered sarcastically. "If we don't Greenfarm will be all over our asses."
Uh, that's be Greenpeace, Jake thought impatiently. Why was it that these so called-liberal, California environmental-conscious elites couldn't even remember the names of such critical organizations as GreenPeace, GLAAD, the ACLU... hell, even PETA.
"Or Al Gore," chuckled Paramount producer Mark White. A big, raspy-voiced man who often alluded to drinking to much wine the night before, and thus was one of Jake's favorites at these kind of social events. Sometimes, if no one else was around— and always being mindful of the paparazzi— the two of them would sneak a cigarette outback, trading puffs like teenagers and making subversive comments about the utter shallowness of their industry. However, when in the company of men like Jonathan Dish and Karl Bronx, Mark would immediately turn back into one of them. "I just give monthly donations," he said with a shrug.
Of course you do, Jake thought sadly. There was no easier way to avoid risking your liberal credentials then just writing out a check for some small charity and not even thinking twice about it. People who actually cared did more; like get involved, spread awareness and yes, donate or raise some money— especially considering the state of the economy.
"What about you, Gyllenhaal?" It took Jake a moment to realize that Mark was talking to him. "Huh, sorry?"
"Charity, fundraising...?" Mark asked while refilling his wine glass. Jake glanced down at his own drink before boldly looking up across the table at Karl and Jonathan. "Well, I was part of that toys-for-tots fundraiser, it being the holidays and all."
"Oh yes, of course. How wonderful. My wife contributed to that too you know," Karl said happily. Meanwhile Jonathan's face remained unimpressed.
"And, well, I've done some volunteer work for Greenpeace, GLAAD, and stuff at the hospital," Jake continued, "but it's been rather difficult lately what with commuting back and forth to Europe for shooting."
All the men's faces looked genuinely impressed... with the exception of Jonathan, of course, whose expression had gone from skeptical to shocked to resentful all within a few seconds. "Well isn't that sweet," he responded with an undercurrent of sarcasm before looking back at the two older men, "Gentlemen, would you excuse me, I have some mingling to attend to."
Jake sighed inwardly as he watched the man go; marveling at how much the industry's reputation could improve if it weren't for men like Jonathan Dish.
"So, Jake..." Karl began while reaching across the table to snatch up a napkin full of shrimp, "GLAAD. Now that's for the homeless kids, right?"
'Fa la la la la... La la la la
Deck the halls... With boughs of holly... Fa la la la la'
Having had his share of conversing with politically moderate, middle-aged studio sharks, Jake eventually managed to pry himself away and disappear into a sea of mostly half-drunk Los Angelinos. Pushing his way carefully through, exchanging a few nods, waves and "Hey-good-to-see-you-Merry-Christmases'", Jake glanced around for a less crowded place to take a breather. Yet everywhere he turned he found a cluster of people either chatting, half-dancing to the endless Christmas tunes blaring from the candy-cane decorated speakers or staring drunkenly up at the ceiling's diamond chandelier. Eventually, he spotted a pair of couches near the staircase that led up to Carrie Fisher's "strictly-off-limits" upstairs bedroom. The couches were jet-black leather and only one was currently being occupied by... Jake stepped closer; Debra DeWitt. He breathed a sigh of relief. Debra was new in tinsel-town, her jaw-dropping appearance having helped secure her a supporting role on a new ABC sitcom. She and Jake had originally met at a fundraiser hosted by Jennifer Aniston where Jake had instantly taken to her refreshingly sweet, unjaded personality.
"Debra?" he asked, sitting down on the opposite coach. The actress, barley twenty-four with long brunette hair glanced up from the cellular device in her lap.
"Jake!" she beamed. They exchanged a hug over the glass coffee table dividing the two couches. "Merry Christmas! I didn't know you were coming to this."
"Yeah well, Carrie Fisher and my family go way back. Thought I'd be polite to make an appearance."
"Gottcha," she smiled. "You look... swell." She cursed herself inwardly; 'swell'? Jesus, Debra. But than again Jake's infectious smile, his tall muscular body and puppy-dog eyes— their blue glow— could be quite distracting... not to mention make her knees go wobbly. She cleared her throat, "So, are Maggie and Peter doing well?"
Before Jake could even reply, he heard a loud, bellowing voice from the middle of the great room; "Gyllenhaal? Oh my god, it is you!"
Jake looked up and shuddered inwardly as he watched Zak Hart push through a cluster of guests. He was holding a glass of champagne in both hands with a puffy cotton Santa hat on top his head— oddly enough, it actually seemed to complement his freshly alcohol-stained tuxedo.
"Evening, Zackary. Merry Christmas," Jake smiled, trying to remain polite and composed.
"Ho ho ho!" he bellowed in response before taking a large gulp from his glass and than spreading his legs wide, leaning back into the couch. Both Jake and Debra exchanged dubious looks. Zak set one of the champagne glasses down before reaching up to yank off the Santa hat, hair underneath a total mess. Tossing Jake a mischievous look, Zak put his hand up inside the hat as if it were a puppet.
"Oh Jaaaake... this remind you of anything," he teased before proceeding to rub his Santa-hat clad fist along his crotch.
Debra squirmed disapprovingly as Jake rolled his eyes, "Shit, you know something..." he moaned to Debra, "both Santa hats and cowboy hats will never be the same for me. Ever."
Debra giggled in response. God, he's gorgeous.
"Now, now, I'm sure this fine young lady—" Zak gestured at her questioningly.
"Debra. Debra DeWitt," she answered.
"Right uh, Deb here I'm sure, would love to see you ditch that fancy-pansy tux..." Zak turned to wave the hat at Jake, "get buck naked and shake that tiny ass of yours for her—with this on your dick of course," Zak cackled. "Am I right or what?"
Debra blushed as Jake swept a hand through his hair and let out a heavy sigh. Fortunately, Zak quickly lost interest in the Santa Hat and tossed it over his shoulder while taking another swing of champagne.
"Ahhh, I'm just fuckin with you, Gyllenhaal." He leaned back into the firm leather, "So dude, how the hell are you?" Jake gave him a forced smile. Zackary Hart was a twenty-three-year-old model-turned-actor whose genetic makeup consisted of a peculiar hybrid; L.A. cool mixed with rude frat-boyishness, occasionally shifting into catty fag all while sporting a physical appearance not unlike that of Zak Efron. He's good looks had helped land him a few minor roles on several episodes of HBO's hottest new series'—the fact that his uncle worked high up on the primetime television latter surely had nothing to do with it. The only reason Jake continued to pay him even the slightest bit of attention was that he wanted to keep his ears open for any possible positions for Austin Nichols; his dear old friend had been suffering through quite a rough spell since HBO had pulled the plug on John from Cincinnati. Unfortunately, all Zak ever seemed to discuss was the misfortune of other celebrities or his up-coming guest appearance on the new season of NIP/TUCK.
"Well," Jake replied, "things have been a little crazy. London is great though. Hey, did you get a chance to watch those last couple episodes of John from Cincinnati I sent?"
"Oh... yea, the one with Austin what's-his-name. Uh I though they were really, really... you know," Zak said, snatching yet another champagne glass from a tray-holding waiter, "...okay, but Jake, my god they was dumb and," then bristling, he complained, "they made Grey's Anatomy look like the fuckin Sopranos."
"Nah. That's a little harsh... the script did have some real subversive humor in it. Overall, I thought it was actually a clever take on dysfunctional families and coming-of-age," Jake explained, shifting slightly to put more space between Zak and himself on the sofa. "Anyway, I liked it and as for Austin... come on, he did fine— especially when you consider how clichéd that role has become."
Debra was mulling this over thoughtfully as Zak, sprawled out lazily while taking up nearly a third of the couch, yawned dismissively.
"Fine, Jake?" he called out while eyeing his champagne funnel. "The dude couldn't act his way out of a paper bag."
Jake leaned forward to grab his own champagne glass, exchanging a shrug with Debra from across the table. "Shit, Zak. What do you have against Austin Nichols?"
"Guess," he moaned and dollowed it with a "loser" so loud that both Jake and Debra flinched.
"So um, Jake..." Debra intervened, trying to change the subject as she could tell Austin was a friend of Jakes, and the latter was obviously not taking to hearing his friend bad-mouthed, "what have you been up to beside filming in London?"
Jake opened his mouth to reply but before he could Zak hissed and said blithely, "Busy fucking Reese Witherspoon, god, don't you watch the news." Zak than cackled and elbowed Jake, causing the young star to nearly spill his drink, "Wedding bells are ringing. Ain't that right, "Gyllenspoon"?"
"Uh, well," Jake cleared his throat while dabbing at a wet spot on his suit jacket, "...you shouldn't always believe everything you read, my friend."
Zak looked at him skeptically—like Jake's was lying through his teeth—but choose not to pursue the matter and instead said, "Fuck. I should call Monica."
He turns back to sink deeper into the couch, now facing Debra. "This chick I'm dating. Smokin hot but still kinda of bitchy, and—" and in the same sentence, without changing tone— "you look really familiar."
He pointed his index finger at Debra, as if genuinely noticing her for the first time, "Did you go to USC?" I think I met you at Blue Lounge, didn't I? With Richey?"
Debra shook her head while Jake glanced down at his watch. 12:36. Shit.
"Well, maybe not with Richey, but definitely at Blue Lounge." Debra just stared as if he was from Mars while Zak continued drolly, undulating his head around before pausing to stare intently ahead. "You know, Blue Lounge. Anyway, Blue Lounge sucks balls now. It's terrible. Went to a Golden Globes after-party there, you know for HBO. Oh, my God, please."
"I've, uh, actually been avoiding flashy parties lately," Debra said suddenly. "This is the first one I've been to in mouths. I guess it's just... I feel so violated after... all the cameras and paparazzi everywhere. I, uh, googled myself awhile back—big mistake, I know," she quickly added off both actor's expressions, "and I came across the most... obscene pictures of my head photo-shopped onto the body of this... S&M porn queen or something. Uhh," she finished with a shutter. "It was so gross."
Jake nodded sympathetically. Zak just stared, "Did she have a hot body?"
Debra shot him a glare but otherwise ignored the comment, "You know what was even worse?"
Jake raised his eyebrows, encouragingly. "The comments people wrote below the picture," she whispered. "Just... completely disgusting. I felt like—"
"Oh please," Zak moaned. "You spend years trying to get a break in this town so that the public will actually give a shit about you. Then," he sat up chuckling, "then you flip out when someone sees you as a sex symbol. Honey, you need a thick skin in this industry."
"Excuse me?" Debra spoke irritably.
Zak sighed heavily and set his glass down on the tabletop. "Look. You, uh, well you belong to the public now, sweet heart. Pretty much anything goes..." he explained, holding his hand out like a queen offering gossipy information. "People are gonna take nasty picture of you, make nasty pictures of you, write nasty shit about you and... pretty soon, well, your gonna start to actually wish for more."
She glared at him, "What is that supposed to mean?"
"It means any press is good press. If someone makes up a rumor that your, like, anorexic or something, it shows you've actually kinda made it."
"Thanks, but I'm not anorexic," Debra responded flatly, getting a lit chuckle out of Jake.
"Hey you guys, I'm being serious here. Fuck, you think I enjoy all those gay rumors and slash floating around the web about me and Michael C. Hall?"
Jake and Debra exchanged brief but significant looks that went unnoticed by their oblivious friend. "But at least it means I'm like, you know, on the public radar."
"Yea well, when people hear my name, I want them to think of a respected thespian," Debra declared.
Zak let out a shrill cackle, tossing his head back dramatically, "Oh baby, you've been in this town, what, a whole mouth and already you expect people to look at you like Meryl Streep?" Zak shook his finger. "Ah, awe. With a body like yours honey, it's gonna be Debra the leszy before Debra the thesy. Ha!"
"You're a prick," she spat.
"Hey, come on Debra, he's just messing with you."
Zak turned to round on Jake. "Oh, please Gyllenhaal. Don't think that I didn't see those paparazzi shots of you free-balling it around New York."
Debra watched Jake blush before turning his face away, suddenly fascinated with his champagne flute.
"Oh, you two kill me. First rule of stardom people; when you become a Hollywood celebrity, you sell your soul to the public... and they can do whatever the hell they want with yea," Zak continued to lecture, "but don't fret Debbie, the paydays make all the pain go away."
"It's Debra" she glared at him.
"You know... there actually might be some truth to this," Jake admitted after slowly taking this all it, "For the amount of money we make can't we live with a little public scrutiny. Those paparazzi pictures do help keep our names in print—but kids... kids should fuckin always be off limits from the paps. Always," Jake stated thinking of his new nephew... not to mention Reese's own two children.
"And cars..." Jake continued, "they should make some kinda new law; 'no paparazzi shots of celebs inside moving vehicles can be published.' It's just too fuckin dangerous for the driver, you know."
"Uh, good luck getting that one passed, Gyllenhaal," Zak said with unmasked sarcasm.
Jake was getting ready to announce his leave when Debra rekindled the conversation; "So, um, how, how do you two know each other?"
"Oh, god," Zak began, moaning as if he falsely remembered something utterly embarrassing, "we met at um, oh god, at the premiere for James what's-his-face's comedy in 2002, wait no maybe, 2004? Huh." He turned to give Jake a playful punch in shoulder. "You were still chasing after Kiki remember."
"Come on man, don't bring Kirsten..."
"Listen, that bitch broke this guy's heart you know," Zak, continued, ignoring Jake to fully face Debra. "She thought she was all, like, "above it". Then," he pounded the couch with his left hand grinning, "awe then, Jake goes and stars in two hit movies. Wins a fucking Oscar nomination. And... ends up dating the new queen of Hollywood. Oww, that's gotta hurt," Zak laughed. "You ever met Kristen," he added looking at Debra. "Uh, no. Not yet," she cast a sympathetic look over at a sullen Jake, "but I hear she's not that bad."
"I mean... the rehab thing was just sad, really—"
"Bitch is washed-up! Guess Spidy 4 is out," Zak pulled an I-phone out of his pocket, suddenly bored.