New York City Boys
Chapter Four - The Lucky and the Unlucky
(Revisit Chapters One, Two, and Three)
On a night train from Philadelphia to New York, Jon Wanamaker and Andrew Kirshner dozed in shifts. Light sporadically filled the car as the train passed track signals through the dark Pennsylvania landscape. Jon was awake. Through the corner of his eye, Jon was admiring how the snug fit of Andrew's cashmere sweater showed off the curve of his chest. Andrew rustled.
"Was I snoring?" he asked, wiping an eye.
Jon jerked up, "No. No, not at all. I was just daydreaming, or I guess, night dreaming."
Andrew grimaced, "I'm sorry about the train. I can't fly. I'm terribly afraid of heights. And I'm sorry again for making you come all the way out to Philadelphia on such short notice. I just knew Preston would try something, although you have proven to be my little secret weapon against him."
After possibly burning down Andrew's apartment and definitely trying to convince Jon to spy on Andrew, Preston's latest method of Complete Andrew Kirshner Annihilation was convincing the former owners of Version Magazine to rescind their sale of the magazine to Andrew. It almost worked except Andrew was able to convince Vision Media, the former owners, that the sale was in their best interest. Jon helped with that convincing, or at least that's what he hoped he did.
"I don't know what I did," Jon admitted. "But I'm glad I could help save the magazine, and my job, of course."
"You were wonderful," Andrew said, exiting his seat across from Jon and taking the seat directly next to him.
Although their train ride would take less than four hours, Andrew insisted they be seated in a closed sleeper car, for privacy. He had turned all the lights off in the car while they dozed but, although he and Jon were now awake, he let the fading outside light shield them in a fog of blackness.
Andrew's voice was low, barely a whisper. "I know that things have been strange for you recently and I know it's my fault..."
"Oh no, Andrew..."
"No, no, I know, it's been less than ideal. You're a journalist and for two weeks, all you've been doing is following me around while I try to save this magazine or my apartment or whatever else goes up in flames. But I promise you that I will have this rag up and running and you will have a real place there," Andrew said somehow working his hand on Jon's thigh during the speech. "You are important to me, and I know that you aren't happy right now..."
"Let me make you happy, Jon..."
Before he finished pronouncing the last syllable of his sentence, Andrew had Jon in a kiss, one hand on the back of Jon's head, one stroking his thigh. Unlike their first kiss, Jon hung on for longer than he probably should have but he blamed the slow, hypnotic rumble of the train, the inescapable darkness, and Andrew's pungent Tom Ford cologne. Jon grabbed a hold of Andrew's tie and pulled him closer. Andrew lunged his tongue deeper until he realized Jon wasn't using his tie to pull him closer, but as leverage to push him back.
Jon didn't say anything. He just moved his face in the opposite direction and exhaled. All he could sense was the heat from Andrew's hand on his leg and the pressure of his body against his side. All he could smell was musk.
It was dizzying.
"Andrew, I came out to Philly with you for probably no reason. I abandoned my boyfriend for you for probably no reason, and you just kissed me again although I told you before not to kiss me for only reasons you understand," Jon whispered. "Now it's your turn to do something for me."
"Tell me about your family."
Andrew lost the color in his face.
"I read the article about your father in New York Magazine," Jon started. "Is all that accurate or am I missing any details?"
Erik was in the back of a taxi at the same time Jon and Andrew traveled back toward Manhattan. He was curled into a ball in the backseat tears streaming down his face in small rivers. The Peruvian cab driver kept tapping on the plastic partition behind his head to find out if his passenger was alright.
"I'm fine. Twenty-second and Eighth," Erik said, repeating his destination, before curling back into a ball and crying some more. He had been in midtown earlier in the day for an audition, then to a game of poker with friends, then to an off-track betting location on Broadway. He had lost all of the $2,200 that Jon had given him in the morning to deposit in the bank to cover their rent.
Jon had started becoming annoyed that Andrew paid him in cash for the past two weeks but Erik knew that Jon may not be able to forgive this once he returned to the city. It's why he couldn't bring himself to sit upright in the cab and stop crying. It was all gone. All except the twenty-dollar bill Erik hoped would cover a cab ride thirty blocks southward.
Andrew returned to his side of the train car and crossed his arms. Then, he started laughing in a bitter sort of way.
"You really have been around me for too long," he said. "Did you just extort me for information about my family?"
Jon sat up eager to make his intentions known more clearly. "Listen, honestly, that's not what I meant. I just... I mean, that article... That article is insane. Your father sounds like quite a character and I just wanted to know if any of that stuff is true. The kiss has nothing to do with it except that I feel that it would go a long way toward me not getting angry about the fact that you blatantly ignored me when I asked you not to kiss me again by telling me anything and everything about your family. And begin."
Andrew was silent.
"I just thought it was curious that your father is now gay and he just came out last summer and you've never mentioned him so I just wanted to know if any of the article was true or if it was..."
Andrew cleared his throat. "I get it. You read an article, and it was a well-written article. I'm not taking away anything from the article, but I think that people forget, and not just you but everyone, that when you read a profile about a family for instance and it's exciting and interesting that those events in that article happened to people. Happened to me. So naturally, I don't have the same relationship to it as you do."
Jon was silent.
Jon's cell phone was vibrating, but he dare not answer it. Andrew uncrossed his arms. "For the most part, the article is true," he began. "When I came out to my parents after college, my father was... not supportive, we'll say. Then, less than ten years later, he tells me that he's divorcing my mother after 30 years because he's gay and he is moving to Fire Island to be with my godfather, Seymour. So you could say, I have a problem with him now."
Jon kept hitting the silent button on his phone because there was no way he was interrupting Andrew now.
"The article played it up, I think," finished Andrew. "But the bones are true."
Jon looked down at his cell phone and saw it was vibrating again.
"Sorry, I don't mean to interrupt you, I just want to know who is calling me like 40 times" Jon said, phone pressed to his ear. "Hello?"
"Jon, it's Macks," said Macks from inside a noisy bar somewhere in the East Village. "Bear with me hun, I'm a little drunk." It was a Wednesday night.
"Macks, what is...?" Jon started.
"This morning at breakfast when I told you everything was alright between me and Dominick, well that was kinda a lie, and I don't want to lie. I really don't so I had to call you and tell you that Diego keeps calling me. You know, Diego, the model. Calling me for sex is why he's calling. He's calling for sex with me."
Macks was yelling over music at the bar so loudly that Andrew could hear everything Macks was saying even with Jon's cell phone against his ear.
Macks continued, "But I don't want to cheat on Dominick. And I haven't cheated. I mean Diego did give me a handjob last month but first of all, it was a handjob and second of all, it was in my office and thirdly, it was before Dominick and I were really serious, so it doesn't count. And I felt bad because you were telling me how you weren't fucking Andrew although sometimes Erik pissed you off enough for you to just give in and do it already and I thought to myself 'Wow, that's great that he can be so committed, to one person, you know.' So I wanted to be honest back to you."
Jon was mortified. "Thanks Macks, I will have to call you back later."
"But Diego keeps calling me!" Macks screamed. "He's calling me now! He wants to fuck me so hard and he's so pretty and clearly, I have a low tolerance. But Dominick is so British. Jon, help me! Jon?"
"Don't fuck Diego," Jon said in as quiet a way as possible. "I'll call you when I'm back in the city."
"You're not back yet!?"
"Bye." Jon hung up the phone to find Andrew red-faced and smirking. Jon threw his phone down on the seat and moped his brow. There was an extended silence between the two before Andrew finally spoke up.
"Can I ask you one thing?"
Jon nodded shyly.
"How'd my picture look? In the article with my dad, how'd I look in the picture?"
Jon smiled, "You looked nice. Very handsome."
At the apartment, Erik kept replaying his awful day. He had dressed well for the audition. It was for a play about a group of friends reuniting for a high school reunion and secrets coming out in the reunion. It was play written and performed over and over again Off-Broadway alone, but it was work and Erik knew he could sleepwalk this part and pay off some of the money he owed.
Jon fixed his tie earlier that morning and said "You look great. Very handsome." He had prepared a short Neil LaBute monologue that showed his range. Everything was supposed to work out, but when Erik got to the theater and finally to the small, hot audition room, things fell apart.
The director said he was overdressed. He restarted his monologue twice, first because he forgot a line and second because the director had to leave the room.
Just when he picked up some momentum, one of the producers asked him to stop and do some dialogue from the play itself, which was wooden and made Erik sound wooden. It didn't matter anyway because in the middle, Erik received the dreaded "Thank you for coming in" and was ushered out of the room by an assistant. The job wouldn't even matter if he could just get some money, not even a lot of money, which is when he remembered his friend's weekly poker night. When that failed, he remembered he was near his usual OTB. Jon was in a rush in the morning and trusted him, Erik thought.
Jon handed him the envelope and said "I'll be gone all day to do this work thing in Philly, but you have to deposit that money today because I just gave Mrs. Castellanos the rent check..." Erik broke down again and couldn't keep himself from staring out of the apartment's front window, looking for the cab that would drop Jon back at the apartment or the slow footsteps of any one of the bookies to whom he owed a total of $67,000.
If Jon knew Macks was going to get drunk and shoot his mouth off with Andrew in earshot, he would have never encouraged Macks to pair his Eggs Benedict with a glass of Riesling for their breakfast at Pastis that morning. At the time, Jon didn't realize Macks would continue drinking for the rest of the day. Also, at the time, Jon's nose was buried in his copy of New York Magazine. So intrigued by his reading material, even Macks had to get up from his seat to read over Jon's shoulder just so he could discover what was holding Jon's attention so well.
"'The Two Mr. Kirshners,'" Macks announced, repeating the name of the article's title. "For someone who doesn't want to sleep with him, you sure are doing a lot of reading up on Andrew."
Jon lifted his nose. "No, no, it's not like that. The article is just really, really good."
"Give me deets."
"Basically, Andrew's father is a crazy person. He was married to Andrew's mother but this says that he's gay and living with some man named Seymour on Fire Island..."
"...And that he's jealous of Andrew's success with his business because he's gay and Andrew's father, whose name is Arthur if that's not confusing enough, was never able to be truly himself when he was first getting his own business off the ground because he had to be in the closet because it was the seventies and people weren't so tolerant. Now the two of them bicker all the time."
"They look happy in that picture together," Macks noted.
Jon put the magazine down. "Isn't it wild that we actually like know someone who has a full feature article about them in a magazine? And I haven't been the one to interview them?"
Macks took a bite of his eggs, "Yes it is, but your French Toast is getting cold."
Jon paused and pursed his lips. "I'm sorry," he said. "I've been distracted. So how are things going with you and Moneypenny?"
"Moneypenny is a girl and things with me and Dominick are fine," Macks said taking a long sip of his wine. "Smooth sailing."
"That's good to hear," Jon said pausing.
Macks rolled his eyes, "Oh just finish telling me what's in the article?"
"Thank God! Alright, so it also says that Andrew..."
Across town that morning, Preston Everett was also enjoying the same article Jon was reading and thought to himself that maybe he was going about his plan all wrong. Maybe Mr. Kirshner Senior would better know his son's fatal flaws than any company would. Preston closed the magazine when his boyfriend, George, entered the room.
These plans were better left a secret for now.
Monday, March 22, 2010
New York City Boys