NEW FEATURE ALERT!
Alright, everyone, I'm going rogue. You see, I was advised awhile ago by a friend, a friend who practices the law mind you, not to share any original writing with you guys here at the blog because someone could jack it and create something successful and not pay me. And I understand their point, that could happen. But then I thought about it and realized that if someone did that, it would truly be the most exiting thing to ever happen to me. And then I realized that exciting things don't happen to me.
quite a lot more than I do now. In fact, based on all the old papers with half-stories or character lists I had in just one of my several memory boxes, I either wanted to be a novelist or a schizophrenic when I grew up. I wonder why did I ever stop writing?
Oh, I know, life happened...
Anyway, even if it's not for publication, sometimes it's fun just to jot down a story that's stuck in your head. Or is that just me? Or is that just schizophrenia? Oh who am I kidding, I would be symptomatic by now if I was truly crazy. Moving on. Consider the new original fiction feature The Serial your early holiday gift! You're Welcome!
Now, let me explain further... Okay, I'm assuming you guys know what serials are, right? If not, serials are short original stories that people put on the web, and used to put in old timey newspapers and magazines. Sometimes the stories were just one-offs, but most of the time, the stories were connected like a soap opera with each installment advancing the story somewhat. That's the way my serial works and I do hope you read each installment to get the scoop on what happens next. Okay, before we start it, how about I tell you a little about what the story is about.
The official blog serial is called "New York City Boys."
It's simple enough, no? Basically, it's a soapy tale about a group of gay men who all live in Manhattan and are on the chase for fortune, fame, excitement, and sex, natch. There will be twists, turns, drama, and comedy, or everything you'd want in a good serial. I literally came up with the story and characters like this month and I wrote the first chapter in a sitting. It's not perfect but it is just for you guys, something frothy to read while noshing at the computer. Enjoy! Feel free to tell me what you think in the comments! Who's your favorite character? Who do you love to hate? What do you think will happen next? Did I use a word incorrectly? I do that sometimes... So do talk!
Alright, let's begin...
(p.s. don't forget to click the read more link for the rest of the story; language not appropes for kids!)
New York City Boys
Chapter One – The End is the Beginning
However, being awake in his cramped Chelsea apartment at six felt decidedly less glamorous for Jon, although the shouting from the blind homeless man three stories below could be mistaken for paparazzi if one wanted to play the home game. This six was because he had received a text from Joe Joe the night prior that the suits from Vision Media, owners of Version as well as a few gay and other niche market magazines, wanted to meet with Version's staff of 40 to discuss the changing publishing climate. Joe Joe, the guy whose job it was to basically cast hot men in photo shoots, sent Jon, and everyone else for that matter, a text that read "WE ALL TO LOSE JOBS TOMM SRSLY!!! SHOW UP EARLY & MAYBE SAVE URS!!!!!!" Jon had watched that Diane Sawyer special about poverty's ills out of the corner of his eye knowing that one day, this day would come. Jon's plan: Shower. Shave. Shave again. Choose most responsible ensemble. Leave. Hopefully not return 30 minutes later in tears with the Department of Labor’s Web site queued on his iPhone.
"Why are you awake," Erik asked with bed sheets roped around his legs like pythons.
Jon turned off the faucet and stepped out of the bathroom nude, his amber-colored skin glowing in a mix of rising sun, fading streetlight, and florescent bathroom overhead. Previously, Jon paused to think if bringing up his African-American and Jewish mixed race heritage would do him any good in saving his job, but realized that he probably could only use that ticket once and it’s what he suspected got him in in the first place.
"I have to go in early today because they may be firing people," Jon began. "I can't be the guy they cross off a list because he didn't even bother to go into the office that day."
"Well, if they're gonna fire you anyway, what's the point of going in," Erik asked and for the first time Jon bristled.
"I really don't have time for questions right now."
The rickety door to the bathroom shut as Jon progressed to making himself appear more employable. Erik slinked out of bed, gently pushing the sheets off his legs, and stood. The breeze from the couple of paces to the bathroom door was cold against Erik's naked frame. He pushed open the bathroom door and pressed against Jon's backside as the space inside the bathroom could barely hold the two of them anyway.
Erik wormed his hands across Jon's chest and began kissing his neck, his tongue slowly licking up to his hairline and back down to the base of his back. Jon, aroused but also visibly annoyed, kept shaving wishing his Lady Gillette was a blade the better for stopping a horned up boyfriend. Jon loved Erik, a Korean-American, out-of-work actor with something of a gambling problem to which he ignored. Jon loved their $1,900 a month walk-up that Erik contributed exactly $350 a month for the privilege of living there, which Jon also ignored. It wasn't like this life was a problem even on Tuesday or Wednesday of that week, but now's there’s a Thursday meeting and now he wants to have sex.
"Why don't you let me spread you out on the bed and finishing shaving you everywhere..."
Jon interrupted, "When I say that I don’t have time for this, what I mean is that I don’t have time for this, Erik. What am I gonna do if I lose my job? What are we gonna do if I lose my job? Remember Diane Sawyer holding up that black baby in the shelter while the mother shook so hard from the sobbing they had to lay her on the ground. That was in the Bronx, which need I remind you is like 25 minutes away. Black babies. Shelters. Sobbing. Poverty is not a joke."
Erik stepped back. "Thank you for killing my erection. I'm going back to sleep."
Tears were the most common, second were file boxes and mail crates on the tops of desks. After the sound of those who were crying had faded, the silence was most noticeable with empty desks strewn through the workspace and black computer screens acting as tombstones for former employees. Jon stepped off the elevator on the 11th floor at Version's offices in Penn Plaza and took a moment to note the change in the workplace's composition. Gone was the busy playpen for thin gay men with outsize personalities and too much hair writing about celebrity antics and creating travel guides to Ibiza for the summer. The place was desolate, and Jon could feel that sinking lump in his throat travel lower.
"You're here!" Cassandra shouted from across the office while the few still waiting around for their very special meetings poked their heads up from their hands. She bounded across the aisle to the elevator, tear stains dotting her Michael Kors blouse. Cassandra was the administrative assistant who handled filing and gossip.
"I was looking for you! They just fired Joe Joe. He was furious, you should have seen it. He cursed out everyone and stole everything he could get his hands on from the sample closet. They're talking to Pete now, he's one of the sales reps, and then they want to see me. Jon, I don't know what I'll do without this job. I can't go back to Tuscon," Cassandra bellowed.
Jon was stunned, "I can't believe Press is firing people like this."
Cassandra flustered, "Preston isn't firing people. They fired him! And you should've seen that too. They had to have police escort him out. He threw a shit storm and vowed to bring Andrew down."
"The new owner, one of them at least. Haven't you heard?"
"Cassie, I just stepped off the elevator."
That was enough for Cassandra. She pulled Jon aside to the empty visitor couch, previously used for drinks and discussion other days, and filled Jon in completely. Vision was out as owner. Kay & McLeod was in. Kay & McLeod owned a few small national arts magazines, a radio station in Boston, and some Web sites even smaller still. Get this, Cassandra said, one of the co-owners was named Andrew Kirshner.
"And he's our age. He's 31 or 32, I think," she remembered. "And he appointed himself editor-in-chief. He's the one firing everybody. Well, he's not doing it himself. He has this snivelly little henchman do it. The whole thing is too sordid."
Jon was beyond puzzled not only by the shake-up but also by the fact that a 31 year old, someone three years older than he, could have a controlling stake in a media organization, even a small one. A conference room door then opened and Pete stormed out muttering "bullshit" under his breath. Cassandra clutched Jon's hand, which only made him more nervous. The snivelly little man was walking toward the pair. Cassandra nearly crushed Jon's hand upon his approach.
The man stopped at Jon's feet. "Mr. Kirshner would like to see you."
"Marcus, if you could leave us alone for a few," Andrew Kirshner ordered as the snivelly man backed out of the conference room closing the door behind him. Jon had been in this room only two days before, pitching a story about following gay celebs to their hometowns for the holidays to be published in the December issue. He knew Lance Bass' agent. This is not where he thought he'd be, particularly with someone like Andrew Kirshner sitting on a conference table in front of his face.
Cassandra began to describe Andrew Kirshner to him but most of her words did not do him justice. He was tall, athletically built, a sandy brown thicket of hair falling over the pink and ruddy skin on his face with eyes a hazel color that matched his hair. His torso was long as were his limbs but there was a neatness about the package: everything symmetrical, in its place. His clothes were shabbily expensive, but had Savile Row tailoring. It was evident that Andrew Kirshner was not a man who was unfamiliar with money. He understood how to project that quiet confidence of someone who doesn't need any of this, from his Patek Philippe watch down to his Cole Haan loafers. Now Jon was pissed. He was about to get fired by a man who could give him his entire year's pay in cash after close of business. Jon just stayed calm, moped his brow, and straightened his tie. The tie wasn't even his. It was from Erik, and Erik only had it because it was a prop he stole from a movie set where he played a Japanese business man.
"You don't remember me, do you?" Andrew asked, voice cool and silky like patchouli oil.
Jon sat up, "I don't think I..."
"You interviewed me once for an article about gay entrepreneurs about three or four years ago. It was really short and you ended up not using any of my quotes," Andrew narrated.
Jon could literally feel himself shit his pants.
Andrew finished, "...I guess I wasn't that interesting."
"No," Jon screamed, surprisingly loudly. "Sorry, I mean you were interesting. I probably just didn't have space to include..."
"Then do you remember me?"
"Um, vaguely," said Jon searching his brain and only finding "No" as an answer. Of all the devastatingly handsome, gay millionaires to forget-
Andrew hopped off the table and paced. "That's okay. I liked you when I met you, and I remembered you. I've actually been following your career. I guess you could say I'm a fan of yours."
"And if you let me stay," Jon pleaded not above getting on his hands and knees. "I know I can produce the kind of..."
Andrew laughed clear and strong. "Jon, I'm not going to fire you."
Andrew laughed a quick and more nasal laugh a second time. "No, you're actually the only one of Press's old people I'm going to keep..."
When Andrew nodded, Jon, overwhelmed with relief, leapt from his seat hands on his head. "Oh my God, thank you!" he exclaimed. Something about the twinkle of pleasure in Andrew's eye made Jon rush to him and embrace him in a feverish hug. Lasting only seconds, Andrew had managed to place his hand on the back of Jon's head as he was near to him. Suddenly, Andrew's hand thrust Jon's face forward and Jon could feel the warmth of Andrew's lips on his own. Jon swirled in Andrew's sweet musky smell, the gentle force of his hands separating the hairs on his neck, his tongue tickling the tip of his. Andrew's other hand had traveled to the small of Jon's back and he was being held like a boyfriend. Until he remembered where he was, what was happening, and that he was obviously momentarily incapacitated. That's when Jon pulled away violently.
"What the fuck are you doing?" Jon yelled.
Andrew grabbed onto his hand and wouldn't let go. "Aren't you happy?" he asked.
Jon chortled, "I didn't think my happiness and your tongue were available for trade."
"Seriously, what in the h-hell is going..."
Andrew advanced forward still holding onto Jon's quivering hand, desperately looking to evacuate. Face to face with Jon, Andrew began, "Listen, I like you. I liked you when I first met you, and I like you now. I think you're talented and I am sexually attracted to you. You could say I'm the kind of man who goes after what he wants."
Jon finally released his hand. "The New York State Penal Code has a term for that. It's called rape."
"I came on too strong..."
"You listen," snapped Jon. "I'm extremely grateful you are letting me keep my job and I'm even flattered that you remember me and like me as much as you say you do. But if those two opinions of yours inter-cross... If you are only keeping me so that I'll sleep with you first of all, I have a boyfriend, whom I love. Second of all, I could sue you for sexual harra..."
"You know how I know you won't?" Andrew asked. "Because you kissed back."
Jon, still flabbergasted thought if he did kiss back. He certainly didn't mean to. "Let's start over. If we're going to work together, this kind of thing can't happen again. You can't kiss me. You can't just kiss people because you want to. Does that make sense?"
"So, um, thank you for my job and unless there was something you needed..." Jon was backing toward the conference room door.
A little defeated, Andrew leaned against the table and reached into his blazer inside pocket pulling out a tan business card. "No, you're done for today. I have more people to fire. Don't show up here tomorrow. I'll call you about your job. In the meantime, here is my card with my personal number. Call me, for anything you can think of."
Jon took the card barely holding on to its buffed edges. What was going on, he thought. Was his job in fact safe? Would Aston Kutcher jump out from under the desk with a camera in hand? Who was this man and what did he want?
Jon opened the door whispering "thank you" before closing it behind him.
"What happened!?" Cassandra shouted at Jon now on the other side of the door.
Staring at her and Version's other former employees, Jon was speechless, knowing what would become of them and knowing how much they'd hate him if they knew what had just happened and how he did nothing to stop it.
A champagne bottle cork flew out of sight as Macks held the bottle away from himself so as not to spill its contents all over his skinny jeans. Jon still had Andrew's card in his hands and was staring at it like the answer key.
Macks laughed, "But you still have a job! Let's celebrate!" Macks skated two flutes across the bar of a dive that wasn't technically open yet. Macks had gotten them in through a connection with the owner he didn't explain. "Drink!"
Macks and Jon had been friends since Jon's two month stint at the Fashion Institute of Technology before he transferred to NYU to write. Macks stayed and was now working on his debut fashion line and spending the money proffered to him by a wealthy admirer for the creation of that line to fund the lifestyle to which he had become accustomed.
"It's 11 o'clock in the morning."
"Drink," Macks ordered pouring his glass full. "It'll help you think about this whole thing clearer."
"I cannot start drinking... Is that Cristal?"
Macks smiled, "Only the best!"
"Please tell me this is not coming out of your work money. Champagne is not an acceptable business expense," Jon noted.
"Do you want to invest in my fashion line?"
"We just talked business. This is now a business expense. Drink!" Macks leaned against the bar and began to think aloud. "What if he met you and has been madly in love with you ever since and took over the magazine you worked for just so he could be close with you instead of using the phone book? Describe him again... No wait!"
Macks slid his BlackBerry from his back pocket to get a picture of Andrew Kirshner himself. After a minute, during which time Jon began drinking some of that champagne, Macks kicked Jon hard in the shin.
"I like Erik well enough but you need to fuck this man immediately!"
Jon wasn't drunk when he returned home near nightfall after a day of champagne and conversation with Macks, but he was very close. He was still rattled too by the things in his life that were once so certain. Therefore, the sight of Erik half-asleep on the couch with Judge Judy in the background was the warm blanket Jon needed to feel comfortable again. Jon slipped his shoes off and curled next to Erik on the couch, the room growing darker as the sun dropped below the nearby tenements. Erik rustled awake.
"I take it you're not fired because you look happy," he grumbled. "You also smell boozy so maybe you did get fired."
"I'm fine. We're fine," Jon said climbing on top of Erik like a jungle gym. He slid his hands under Erik's shirt and pinched his nipples while landing a kiss on his lips. "Let's be fine together."
Erik closed his eyes. "You're drunk. Sleep it off with me."
Jon stood, jittery. "I don't want to sleep. Baby, let's go do something..."
Jon's cell phone rang. When he went to answer it, Erik fell asleep again.
"It's Andrew. I'm downstairs. Come downstairs."
Downstairs, Andrew was leaning against a Jaguar Roadster with a sly smile on his face. Jon approached.
"What are you doing here?" Jon questioned.
"I wanted to apologize for kissing you earlier."
"But I don't want to apologize for why I kissed you. I am attracted to you..."
"But that will not affect our business relationship. You still work for Version and I am still your editor. I won't cross that line again."
"That's good to hear."
Andrew scraped the toe of his loafer into the ground. "I just want to know one thing. This boyfriend of your, Erik Marr is his name, right? You love him? He's not a very good actor, you know. I mean he's passable..."
Jon walked up so Andrew had no where else to look but his face. "Who are you?" Jon whispered. "And why do you care so much?"
"I told you," responded Andrew. "I'm a big fan."
As Andrew wrapped up his visit with Jon in Chelsea, a troupe of fire trucks raced down Central Park West on the Upper West Side. A three-bedroom co-op in a pre-war building had gone up in flames. The apartment's owner: Andrew Kirshner.
TO BE CONTINUED...