Blind Items excerpt #2

July 28, 2011

Rey and I did not see eye to eye on interior decorating, which was something I got a an earful about during a brief interlude when Rey was having the top floor of his house re-done. I decided to let him stay with me, meaning he slummed it by camping out on the futon in my living room. It was a mod furniture special with a lime-green cover on the mattress. I liked things that were clean and modern and brightly colored. Rey’s house was more muted and decorated in what I thought of as “pricey cheap,” furniture he paid full price for at high-end shops but that looked like it could have been bought at a thrift store.

Anyway, he’d told me on many occasions that he thought my futon couch was maybe the ugliest thing he’d ever set eyes on, so I was somewhat surprised to find him asleep on it when I came in one afternoon. He’d kept his keys from when he’d stayed with me in case of emergency, which usually meant that he just let himself in if he was coming to see me instead of knocking like a normal person.

I stood over him for a moment, and he slowly opened his eyes. I said, “Don’t you have those overstuffed monstrosities in your own house for use at nap time?”

Rey rubbed his eyes and sat up. “Oh, sure,” he said, “but I thought what I really needed was an unsatisfying nap and some back pain. What the hell is this stuffed with, Styrofoam?”

“To what do I owe this pleasure?”

“I wanted your advice on something.”

I sat and draped an arm over the back of the futon. I flicked at an errant lock of Rey’s hair with the tip of my finger. “Don’t do it,” I said.

“You don’t even know what I’m going to ask yet.”

“No, but I recognize that expression on your face. That’s the look you get when you’re going to ask my opinion on something but already know I won’t approve. I’m saving us time, see.”

“You and the high horse. I don’t know where you get off judging me, like you’re so righteous. You’re so afraid of anything bad happening that you don’t ever take any risks anymore.”

I tried not to get too defensive, primarily because I didn’t want him to know that he was kind of right. “I take risks,” I said.

“No, you don’t. I talked to Allie. She said you hardly ever go out anymore because you’re still avoiding Aaron.”

Geez Louise, why was everyone so obsessed with this? “I’m not avoiding Aaron.”

“If you’re not going to the places where you and Aaron used to hang out because you’re afraid of running into him, you’re avoiding Aaron.”

“I prefer to think of it as giving us both space.”

“So it’s true.”

I shrugged. Okay, so maybe I was avoiding Aaron. But there were armed conflicts that had more peaceful resolutions than our relationship. I deserved some slack. I tried to sound casual. “Maybe. It’s probably better for my soul if I spend less time in gay bars. I’m not a twenty-two-year-old twink anymore.”

Rey pursed his lips, looking skeptical.

“Look, I know that what happened is for the best, but Aaron and I were together for more than a year, so I think I deserve a little bit of time to mourn. But you did not come here to pester me about Aaron. Stop stalling. What do you need advice about?”

Rey rolled his eyes. “I need a date for the show’s premiere.”

I put a hand on his chest and batted my eyelashes. “And you’re asking me? Honey, I’m flattered.”

“No, you idiot. A female date.”

“I think I could pull off looking like a woman. I have a very pretty face. The right wig, a stuffed bra. What do you think?”

Rey laughed. I preened.

“If you were a foot shorter, maybe,” he said. “I hate to do this to you, man, but I’m not bringing you to the premiere.”

“Boo.”

“What do you think of me asking Allie?”

That was not something I liked one bit. “Aren’t there any aspiring starlets whose hearts you can break? The last time you went out with one of my friends, she stopped talking to me.”

“She moved to Virginia for a job.”

“Still. I like Allie. I want to keep her. She has a little bit of a crush on you as it is. You know I love you, but you, my friend, have a terrible track record with women. You going out with her… that can only end badly.”

“Fine. Maybe I’ll ask one of my costars.”

“Good.”

There was a pause. “How’d the interview with Jonathan go?”

“It went okay. I’m not allowed to print anything good, but it went okay.”

“What do you mean, you aren’t allowed to print anything good?”

I shifted on the couch. “I got him to tell me that he disagrees with his father on social issues, specifically on that whole banning-gays-from-the-country thing, but he told me he doesn’t want to get caught publicly disagreeing with the Senator. He just wanted me to know.”

“Right. Did you tell him you’re gay?”

“Not in so many words.”

Rey raised his eyebrows. “What does that mean?”

“I showed him one of my Forum columns, but I didn’t say anything else on the matter. Not that it’s a big secret, of course.”

He sighed. “Probably he put together that the Forum is lefty propaganda and didn’t want to piss you off. Or he read your column and figured you are not in favor of Uncle Richard’s stance on stripping you of more of your rights.”

“Or he wants something else.” I raised an eyebrow. I hadn’t let myself entertain the possibility that he could possibly want me, but there it was.

Rey understood. “Wishful thinking.”

“On whose part?”

He rolled his eyes. “I still think you’re wrong about Jonathan. He’s not gay. I’d know.”

“You didn’t know I’m gay until I told you. Actually, I don’t think you really knew until you walked in on me having sex with Jake Monaghan back when we roomed together.”

Rey winced. “We were young. I didn’t know anything back then.”

“Well, anyway, I’m writing a really tame article and Wade’s going to hate it. So I must somehow reconcile the fact that your cousin came off as nice and sweet but kind of boring with the fact that if I don’t turn in an interesting story, Wade will never hire me for a feature story again.”

“There isn’t always a story.”

I stood to motion Rey out of the apartment. “That’s not the problem here. The problem is that there is a story here, but Jonathan won’t let me tell it.”

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