Arena Stage Ch. 07bysr71plt©
Dress rehearsal for Defiance was exhausting—for me, at least, since I had to dance in it. But I'm sure it was nerve-wracking for Masters and Handelsman, too, because this was their last crack at making it right before the drama critics descended on them. They were so pumped up on reviewing and celebrating and agonizing over minutia on the production that they went straight to Handelsman's yacht, the Boxoffice, in the yacht basin near the theater. And Masters told me I had to come along.
Before we left the theater, I called the Gangplank restaurant, which was close to closing time, and cajoled them into preparing a late supper to send over to the yacht for the two men. I myself wasn't hungry. I was just exhausted. And after I'd accepted the meals at the gangplank and taken them into the salon, where the two men barely noticed they were even there they were so animated and excited, I first, sat back into the cushions of the curved bench lining the fan tail of the yacht and then I brought my legs up onto the cushion, stretched out, and gave myself up to sleep.
I couldn't go to sleep, though. I was exhausted beyond sleep. I shut my eyes tightly and tried controlled breathing, but it just didn't happen. It was both a bad thing and a good thing that I couldn't go to sleep. First came the bad thing.
Masters and Handelsman must have assumed I'd gone to sleep, because they made no attempt to moderate their discussion.
"So, you've done it, have you?" Handelsman said.
"Yes, the apartment's sold and I'm having the clothes sent up to your place in Connecticut," Masters said.
My ears perked up. I hadn't heard anything about this—I'd found he was trying to sell his apartment—no, our apartment. I lived there too.
"And you're sure you're done with it?" Handelsman said.
"Yes," I heard Masters speak. "I didn't much care for it anyway. As long as I had Lawrence for those earlier plays—and Sean now—the attention was pleasant, but those empty years between the time Lawrence died and I took on Sean were frustrating. I'm happy done with it. Your invitation to come live out my days with you couldn't have come at a better time."
"And to think that no one in the theater ever knew who was writing your plays."
"That was part of the pleasant part," Masters said. And then he laughed. "Such a joke on all those pompous theater people."
"Including me," Handelsman said.
"Oh, no, never including you, Lenny. You were special. There's never been anyone like you."
"And Sean?" Handelsman said, followed by his own life. "What will we do with sweet young Sean up in Connecticut?"
"Oh, I'm sure we'll think of something," Masters answered. His voice suddenly sounded husky, though, and I opened my eyes, lifted my head, and peered into the salon through the window. The two were sitting close together and Handelsman had one hand inserted in Masters's shirt front and the other was stroking Masters's cock.
"Shall we retire to the cabin?" Handelsman said in a hoarse voice.
"Yes, I think so," Handelsman answered.
"And Sean, shall we wake him and take him with us?"
"Later," Masters answered. And then they both rose and, laughing and joking, embraced and entered the corridor leading back to the cabins.
I could hardly wait for them to be gone. I was suddenly alert and believed if I didn't get off the yacht and away instantly, I would begin to hyperventilate. My whole world was shattering. What a complete bastard Masters was.
I slipped off the yacht and loped blindly up the grassy embankment. I had to find Gil. I needed Gil—now more than ever before. Where could he be. One place was a good bet—adding to his escape fund. I started walking briskly toward the elevated Southwest Freeway, both what I had just heard and the brisk evening breeze making so much clear to me now.
* * * *
"Am I interrupting anything?"
I turned and was surprised to see Sean standing next to me at the bar in the Bachelor Pad gay club. He looked more like his favorite uncle had just died than that he been part of an almost-flawless dress rehearsal for a production we had all been slaving on for months.
"What's the matter, Sean?" I asked. "You look sorta like shit."
"I said, am I interrupting anything, Gil," he repeated. His eyes were flashing and his nostrils were flaring and he looked like he was thinking of picking a fight with me.
"Just a drink, Sean," I answered. "I haven't been in here for any other purpose since before we took that car ride up to Great Falls. I wouldn't do that to you." I reached out and put my hand on his forearm. He was trembling like a high-strung race horse.
"Sorry, Gill," he whispered and he just short of collapsed on the stool next to me. "I've just . . . I can't . . . oh, shit."
"Come, let's go back to the townhouse," I said. "We'll have privacy there and you can tell me what the matter is."
But when we got back to the townhouse, Sean didn't speak. He was at me like a bitch in heat, crawling up my leg and rubbing his chest against mine, and unzipping my jeans and digging for my cock.
I decided, without any trouble, that talk could come later, and I picked him up in my arms and mounted the stairs and gently laid him on the bed. He moaned as I undressed him and cried out as I knelt between his legs and started making love to his cock and balls and hole and not stopping, not letting up, until he had given me what I wanted. Then I stood and held his legs out wide by the ankles and mounted him and rode him hard and deep to my own ejaculation.
We were stretched out on the bed, in an embrace, when he broke down and started to cry.
"What is it, Sean," I whispered. "What has you worked up. The play is great. Your dancing was great. It made me harden right up. I'm glad you came looking for me to fix that."
This didn't brighten him up a bit. I never was much of a comedian.
"Come on, you can tell me."
"A sham, all a sham," Sean whispered. I was relieved that I'd started him talking about it.
"What was a sham?"
"Masters. Just a big fake."
I laughed. I couldn't help it. "Of course he is. That was always apparent."
"You don't understand, Gil," he said. "He didn't write any of those great plays. The guy he had living with him before, Lawrence, the guy who was killed in the automobile accident a couple of years before Masters hired me—to write his plays for him. I can see that now, he hired me just to write his plays for him. This Lawrence guy was the one who wrote his earlier plays. The only plays Masters wrote himself were the ones that didn't work."
"Doesn't surprise me," I answered. "But speaking of plays, Sean. I read your latest one. It's brilliant. It's gonna be a hit."
"Thanks, Gil, I needed to hear that," Sean said. He said up beside me and leaned his face down to mine and we kissed. When he rose back from the kiss, he looked more in control now, and the sadness had evaporated from his eyes.
"And I overheard him and Handelsman talking on the yacht. They are going to Handelsman's place in Connecticut after this. They are moving us to Connecticut."
"Ain't no way I'm fuckin' movin' to Connecticut," I muttered.
"And Masters is giving up the sham of writing plays. He said he'd never been interested in that anyway—in living off the playwrighting talents of others. He's just a big fraud. And he's retiring to Connecticut to live with Handelsman. What are we going to do, Gil?"
"Didn't you hear me?" I said. "There's no fucking way I'm going to Connecticut."
"Or you either, if you are thinking straight," I continued. "What held in you thrall to Masters, Sean? You said you loved him. What about him did you love?"
He sat there, looking confused. Then his face cleared. "I loved him because he was the lion of the theater," Sean said. "Because of his writing talent. Because I believed in his writing talent."
"Which is what, Sean?"
"All a shame," Sean whispered.
"Exactly. Can you hear your lion go meow now?"
For the first time that evening Sean laughed. And it was a good, throaty laugh. I guess I wasn't as much a loss as comic as I thought I was.
"And what do you need Masters for now, Sean?"
"Did you hear and understand what I said about your play script? It's great. It's a winner. I've been working with Handelsman in the theater long enough to know a winner when I read one. We could take it to Broadway. But I suggest we take it to the West Coast. We both said that's where we'd go if we could follow our dream. There's work and a life for us both out there—together if you'll have me."
Sean wasn't slow in giving me a definitive answer on that. He rolled me to my back and mounted my pelvis, holding my cock as he descended on it, and he fucked my cock until he'd come on my belly and I'd reciprocated deep inside him.
"Pack quickly," I whispered when our breathing had returned to normal again and we lay in each other's embrace. "We can be out of here and on our way in a half an hour."
"The play," he murmured, and I was pleased to hear the regret in his voice. "And your escape fund."
"You were right about my escape fund," I said, with a low laugh. "I've had more than enough money saved for some time. I just needed a greater reason to leave than to stay. You're my reason. And, as far as the play, what do they do when someone's sick one night?"
"We can adjust the dances for one, or even two, missing," Sean answered.
"So, you're sick," I said. "Permanently sick. Sick of walking behind Masters and Handelsman and cleaning their asses for them. I mean, what's the fucking play mean to you now? Other than that you wrote it. It's tainted by Masters's shit. You've got another play here that will launch you out of his shadow. What's the play Defiance to us now, other than a symbol of our own defiance—of us sticking it back at Masters and Handelsman at last?"
"Nothing. Nothing, I guess." Sean answered. And there was none of the indecision in his voice that came out in his words. That had been my one worry. That, knowing Defiance was more his play than Masters's—much more—that maybe he couldn't just leave it, even knowing we were done here. That we'd been done here for some time, just wallowing in a rut.
"Let's us get out of here, then." I was up already and half way to the shower.
"In what, Gil?" Sean said, with a laugh. "We're both city boys in the city. Are we going to try to hitch across the country."
"Nope, we're going in my new Mustang," I said. And I grinned. This may be the first inkling that Sean would have that this plan wasn't all that impromptu. He had fallen into my own already-formed plans perfectly. "Not a new Mustang, but mine—ours—now. Bought it off the technician guy. Hoped you'd relent and let me fuck you in it one day. And maybe you will. It's a long way by road to L.A. from D.C. How's that sound, Sean?"
"Best offer I've had all day. So long Arena Stage."