Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Legend in His Own Mind-17

March, 1982

Dear Lázaro,

Don't be selling my signature to your platoon buddies just yet. Stardom has eluded me again. My big scene with Raul Julia has obviously ended up on the cutting room floor. And you can't even make me out in the dance number 'cause it was all shot with an overhead camera. I went to Grauman's Chinese full of expectations of seeing myself on a big screen at last. And all I came out with was a huge butter stain on my pants when I dropped the popcorn.

Then came "Night Shift." This one didn't even have a disco in it. Not a glimpse of my shiny shimmying could be seen.

I even missed out at the Diana Ross concert. Tovah and I went to the L.A. Forum to see The Supreme One and you know how when she sings "Reach Out and Touch" she goes through the audience. Well, she was two rows ahead of mine and I started brushing up my vocal chords.

This was going to be my moment of discovery. I would duet with Diana on a national TV special and have it made. I envisioned myself with a TV series like Tony Orlando and a Grammy winning duet with Donna Summer.

I started clearing my throat so I wouldn't sound phlegmy. She kept getting closer and closer. My Godsend in shiny rhinestones. Then suddenly she stopped. Gave a little tug to her microphone cable. The stupid thing wouldn't give. As I saw my angel of mercy sashay back to the stage, all shimmering lamé and billowing hair weave, I saw my whole life go up in flames.

Shot down before I could even get up. And to top it all off it rained when we got out of the concert.

See it never rains in Southern California. So I never bothered to fix my windshield wipers. The driver's side didn't work. Now I had to drive all the way back to Tovah's house with my hand out the window moving the wiper up and down to clear my windshield.

The only place you can see me is the televised Roller Games I skate in. The fun is fading fast, let me tell you. Somehow skating at sixty miles an hour into somebody's elbow is beginning to lose its luster. The big fights are fake, just like wrestling. But when you get knocked down on your butt, that's real. And it hurts!

I did find something to ease the pain. Eric. Number 52 for the Detroit Radiators. Big, burly, Irish guy. Reminds me of a truant officer at school. I had twisted my ankle at a game and afterwards he stayed in the locker room to show me a special way of bandaging where it doesn't restrict movement but still protects.

He started to massage my ankle before bandaging it and one thing lead to another know. We've been seeing a lot of each other. Schedules permitting. He's married and has three children back in Michigan. Told me he always knew he was gay but he was brought up a Roman Catholic and he knew that marriage was the only way of life for him.

I asked him, "So what are you doing with me? Committing adultery?"

He says, "I don't see it that way. I think two men share a very special bond that can never be shared by a man and a woman. It's a fraternal sort of thing. I'm not cheating on my wife. I would never be with another woman. That would be taking away from my wife. But what you and I have is something she and I can never have. So I'm not taking anything from her."

Was he serious or feeding me a line? Maybe he was feeding himself. All I know is, it felt really good to be with him. We always had a good time together and he took care of me on the road. It feels nice to be protected. He'd always massage me when we got back to the hotel room and prepare a warm bubble bath for me. Then he would rub these fragrant hot oils all over my body.

In the morning, he'd serve me breakfast in bed on this tray with a red rose and a white one. The colors of our teams. I don't know. I like him a lot. I miss him when he's not around. I'm beginning to become jealous of his wife. I think I want the kind of bond that they have.

April, 1982

Dear Lázaro,

I have just seen the movie "Making Love." I even risked going back to the Egyptian to see it. I think it's the first time I had ever seen two guys kissing on screen. It looked fake as hell but still it was there.

That's what I want to do with my life. I want to act in movies like that. Movies that tell our stories. Enough of straight people and their affairs.

Between the dancing and the Roller Derby, I really didn't have much time to take acting lessons. But acting is really representing life, wasn't it? I just had to go out and experience life.

So I spent the night at a transient hotel in downtown Los Angeles. All I experienced was fear. The look of all those bearded smelly men in the lobby. It was like taking a wrong turn down Delancey and ending up in the soup kitchens of The Bowery.

I couldn't sleep for fear of being eaten by bed bugs. The room was dank, with a single light bulb dangling precariously from a black chord. Peeling walls and yellowing windows. The toilet seat was so brown there was no way I was going to go anywhere near it.

I bolted the door and slid the bed right next to it so no one could crash into the room.

It was the most wonderful night of my life. I got to experience how another type of person lives and now I can recall it when I need to for a movie.

May, 1982

Dear Lázaro,

Something very disturbing happened to me last night and I don't know quite what. It was three o'clock in the morning and I got a phone call from Gary. He didn't tell me where he was or his number or anything. All he said was, "Your voice always cheers me up, my little ray of sunshine. I guess I wanted to hear it one last time." Then he hung up.

I called every major resort in Palm Springs this morning. No bartender by that name.

I have to find out what happened to him. What did he mean hear my voice one last time? Are you getting a creepy feeling?

The MGM Grand Hotel called this morning to tell me that I had the job in the "Hallelujah Hollywood " show. I don't want to go to Vegas until I find out what happened with Gary.

Do I sound crazed? You know how I hate mysteries.

By the way, congratulations on making corporal. Keep this up and soon you'll be admiral. Then maybe you can find out what happened to Gary.

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