Testosterone: A Novel

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"A tour de force, part noirish suspense novel and part grim satire of compulsive gay male sexuality,as despondent as a Jim Thompson yarn in which the narrator is killed on the last page. It is as compelling as good Thompson too."-Booklist

A satirical, hysterical, horicic rocked fueled trek around LA in pursuit of the most unlucky ex-lover in history. Or maybe hes a psychotic. Or maybe the narrator is. Either way, someone is going to die.

James ...

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Overview

"A tour de force, part noirish suspense novel and part grim satire of compulsive gay male sexuality,as despondent as a Jim Thompson yarn in which the narrator is killed on the last page. It is as compelling as good Thompson too."-Booklist

A satirical, hysterical, horicic rocked fueled trek around LA in pursuit of the most unlucky ex-lover in history. Or maybe hes a psychotic. Or maybe the narrator is. Either way, someone is going to die.

James Robert Baker is the author of five other novels: Testosterone, Boy Wonder, Fuel Injected Dreams, Adrenaline and Right Wing (published on the Internet). Baker was a filmmaker whose underground film Mouse Klub Konfidential, about a Mouseketeer turned gay-bondage filmmaker, is credited with driving Michael Medved away from filmmaking. On November 5, 1997, he committed suicide.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Controversial gay cult author/filmmaker Baker (Tim & Pete) committed suicide in 1997, but left behind this previously unpublished novel, an amalgam of inner torment, sexual addiction, lost love and angry retribution. Revised, edited and updated for prime time, the novel consists of the transcripts of tapes dictated by harried protagonist Dean Seagrave describing a tumultuous, frenetic Los Angeles odyssey. In the middle of the night, Seagrave's house is set on fire, sending him on a quest to find the guilty party. But he already suspects the culprit is his missing lover, Pablo, who went out for cigarettes one day and never returned. Hopped up on drugs and rage, and carrying a Glock, Seagrave embarks on a hunt to find (and murder) his errant boyfriend, starting with random visits to mutual friends. His search turns violent when he happens first upon Pablo's best friend, Calvin, a wheelchair-bound AIDS victim, and then upon Pablo's terrified mother, and attempts to physically shake answers out of each of them. As his search progresses, Seagrave finds a series of sinister clues to Pablo's mysterious past: a home video of a missing, mutilated pet; a secret apartment stocked with bondage equipment; and evidence that Pablo has ties to a demonic cult. Still, it's never clear quite what is true and what isn't, and by the time the tale builds up to its ultra-violent, surrealistic conclusion, Seagrave has proved himself a wholly untrustworthy narrator. Baker is adept at generating suspense, and he exhibits a sharp wit when ruminating on gay culture. But the tape-transcript device is tired, and reading Baker's high-strung prose style is often like eavesdropping on an overcaffeinated cell-phone conversation. Still, this is a fitting if flawed valedictory effort. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
From The Critics
Genius and madness can be very close. Or so says Dan Seagrave, the fictional voice in Baker's Testosterone. As the title suggests, the work is aggressive, edgy, and definitely male dominated, revealing a life fueled by love and obsession.In the preface to the work, Baker states that what follows is the transcript of audiotapes that were sent to him by his friend Dan Seagrave. Recording his thoughts and actions as they occur, Seagrave is creating a "living novel." He has recently lost his home to a fire that he believes was set by his former lover, and is driving around Los Angeles seeking a visceral catharsis. "I'm a no-bullshit guy, and one angry queer, so don't f___ with me because I'm on a mission." His mission is to track down Pablo Ortega, the man who captured his heart and soul through his raw sexuality and psychological prowess. While hunting down his obsession, Seagrave comes into contact with several of Pablo's former lovers whose own idiosyncrasies, and experiences with Ortega, are fitting for a Quentin Tarantino film—tough, raw, and bloody. Seagrave is horrified to learn of Pablo's sexual addiction, his work for the Chilean secret police torturing people, and his involvement in the cult of Palo Mayombe. Pablo's involvement in the cult includes kidnapping household pets for ritual sacrifice, which makes Seagrave wonder about the disappearance of his own dog. This quest ends with the purchase of a machete, a cooler placed in his front seat, and a chance encounter with Pablo Ortega. Through his pacing and vivid descriptions, Baker, the cult author of Tim & Pete and Adrenaline, has created a vibrant and virile work detailing a man's downward descent into dementia. It is never quite clear what is reality or the product of an obsessed and disturbed mind. This last novel of Baker's, a posthumous release, will be well-scrutinized by fans hoping for a hint at what caused Baker to take his life on November 5, 1997. Although the genius can be assigned, it's not at all clear if the madness is Baker's own. For the most part, the only clues embedded within the work point to Baker's perceptions of anonymous sex, body image, and the historical impact of AIDS.
Kevin Killian
His (Baker) final book is fascinating from beginning to end, but there is no way out.
Lambda Book Report
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781555837143
  • Publisher: Alyson Publications
  • Publication date: 8/13/2001
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 5.64 (w) x 8.48 (h) x 0.52 (d)

Read an Excerpt



Chapter One


TAPE 1


Hey, Jim. By the time you hear this, I'll be dead. Just kidding. But you're probably wondering what this is. One thing it's not is what you were expecting: a tape of the Bad Religion show at the Palace. I missed that, as it turned out. A lot's been going on.

    I'll tell what this is, on one level anyway. An experiment. A novel, a living novel, spoken directly onto tape. Without all the tedious typing and editing, and agents, publishers, printers, before the book-on-tape version. I'm skipping all that. And it's a living novel because it's taking place right now as I speak it. I mean, I don't know exactly what's going to happen. I don't know how each scene is going to unfold. But I do have a very rough sense of the narrative. I know the premise, you could say. I know the fundamental thrust of this thing. But I'm not going to spill it. I need to build my case first, so you don't think I've flipped out. In the meantime, I don't want to shoot too soon.

    I'll tell you this much: I'm out looking for action, some very serious action, today. I'm seeking catharsis, a visceral catharsis—that's what I'm up to right now. I'm a no-bullshit guy, and one angry queer, so don't fuck with me because I'm on a mission. Attention all breeders: You'd better part for me like the Red fucking Sea, because I'm plenty pissed off, and if you get in my way, I'll ram your rear end and squash your little baby.

    In fact, I'm in the car now, as you can no doubt tell. But if you're listening closely, you may already know that it's not my car.It's not my throaty '66 GTO. It's a Hertz rental car. A purposefully nondescript mouse-gray Nissan Maxima. At first they were going to give me a Sentra. Till I mentioned Nicole [Brown Simpson] and got a free upgrade.

    I miss the power of my GTO. But I wrapped that around a sycamore almost two months ago. I wasn't drunk, in case you're wondering. I hadn't had a thing to drink, and I wasn't on drugs. I was spaced out and angry, I guess, and a few other things, maybe not paying attention. This happened on Old Canyon Road, on a stretch I know well. I mean, I know automatically where to slow down, but for some reason I didn't. Except it's not for some reason, like I don't know what the reason is. I know, I remember, exactly what I was thinking about when I drove off the road. I was thinking about Pablo Ortega. Remembering how much I liked to wrap my lips around his fat brown uncut cock. Then my lips became my car and his cock became the sycamore tree.

    I broke the windshield with my head and got a pretty bad whiplash. Had to wear a brace for six weeks. That's why I still hadn't cleared the brush around my house, which I usually do in April. Not that it would have made any difference. Except it would have made it more obvious the fire was set intentionally.

    It happened in the middle of the night two weeks ago Thursday. I haven't been sleeping well; that's all that saved me. I tend to wake up a lot in the night. And sometimes I get up, smoke a cigarette to calm down again. Which is strange in that it's something that Pablo also does. So sometimes when I'd be doing that, smoking a cigarette in the dead of the night, I'd think about Pablo, doing the same thing at the same time somewhere else, thinking about me. So it gave me this strange sense of connection. Except that night he wasn't that far away. He wasn't across town somewhere, I'm convinced of that. I was smoking a cigarette in the bedroom, looking out at the moon through the eucalyptus trees, when I smelled the smoke downstairs. Saw the flames. I grabbed my pants; that was all. I saved nothing from the workroom. It was too late for that. It was three in the morning, so nobody saw the flames or called. By the time I got to the first yuppie house on Saddle Peak Road and woke them up, my house was completely engulfed in flames. Five units arrived within twenty minutes. But there was nothing left to save.

    The fire inspector said a cigarette started it. Someone flicked a cigarette from a car. He tried to blame me for not clearing the brush. Like it was an accident. Carelessness, that is, instead of deliberate arson. I argued with him about this, but he kept insisting it wasn't arson. He got defensive, like I was questioning his expertise. I asked what the cigarette brand was—if he'd said Kools, that would've cinched it—but he wouldn't tell me. I let it go at that point. I didn't need evidence. I already knew what I was going to do. I was going to kill Pablo. I'd known that for several weeks before the fire. The fire just convinced me that if I didn't kill him, he'd kill me. He'd just tried.

    I tried to minimize the impact of the fire in my mind. Most of what was lost, the original artwork, was in a sense sentimental. Most of it's been published. It's out there, it still exists in the world. So it was like losing the original cels of Fantasia or something when dozens of prints are still in distribution. I kept using that analogy so I wouldn't feel raped and butt-fucked and lobotomized. But I think that finally I was beyond a certain kind of anger. Which is good. It's given me clarity, resolve. To just do what needs to be done.

    A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. I can never remember who said that. Clint Eastwood? Liberace? Margaret Thatcher? Maybe all three.

    I've been staying at Charlie's, sleeping on the sofa. He's back in New York now. I've had the place to myself for the last three days. Which has been good. It's given me a chance to prepare for today. Without sneaking around. Or having Charlie try to talk me out of it.

    In a way, I'm still numb. About the fire, I mean. I keep thinking of things that were lost. Specific books. The books—that's the main thing I can't replace. Fifteen years of books, many out of print now. That's where it starts to feel like a lobotomy. But the main loss, the crucial loss, was my new work in progress. Which was actually almost finished. My new graphic novel, even though I hate that term now, Testosterone. Which I think, which I know, was the best thing I've done so far. By far, the most autobiographical. I don't like to think of art as therapy, as you know. I mean, that's insulting, condescending. And irritating because it's not completely untrue. And Testosterone was, in a certain respect, a kind of "working out" of feelings about things that happened with Pablo. Not that it was literal. I don't like these terms like "surreal" or "magical realism." But I would say "magical paranoia." That's the term that occurred to me at one point, though I'd never use it in an interview. I wouldn't want to be stuck with it or have to explain what it meant. But it felt right as a description of the mood I was trying to create and, in fact, created. I've tried telling myself that: that I did the work, I performed the exorcism, and that it can't be undone even though the work itself is lost. But here's the problem: It feels undone. Or as if, perhaps, it was always an incomplete exorcism, a failed exorcism. Which I think in a sense it was. Because this story of evil magic has been incredibly ongoing. I mean, even though Pablo and I "broke up" over a year ago, new information keeps coming to light, new curses, new spells. I keep finding little hex packets hidden in my psyche, and this was going on even as I drew Testosterone. Some of this new material I worked in as I went. But at a certain point you have to freeze things, you have to say "Enough." Except the Pablo material wouldn't stay put. It kept growing like a lethal virus creeping over the edge of the petri dish. So even as I finished Testosterone and savored a sense of artistic accomplishment, I knew that in another very real and important way, it was already spiritually dated.

    I'm on PCH right now, incidentally, heading north toward the Malibu. I don't know why I just said that—the Malibu—except it sounds pretentious, affected, and that amuses me, and I need some amusement right now. But here's the real point. I'm passing the Tuna Canyon turnoff ... right now. So there's a kind of geo-verbal synchronicity in my telling you about the burning love house now. That's how I think of it. I think of that X song. Do you remember that X song, "Burning House of Love"? That was Pablo's favorite group from his teenage years. He was nostalgic about it. He had memories. Just like Sean Young in Blade Runner. Music, I think, was our one meeting ground, besides sex. But in that song, if you remember, John Doe is obsessed. He's broken up with Exene or something, and she's got a new boyfriend and he's jealous, and he talks about going for a drive to "burn your love house down." It's a good song. I'm nostalgic for it. For the time when it made sense. When I was just obsessed.

    It's funny. Pablo had to drive this way a lot. On the way out to see his new boyfriend or victim. Which is where I'm going right now. Out to Decker Canyon, to see this poor sucker Brice. So all the time I was looking for him in all these other strange parts of L.A., he was still over here on the Westside. He was still on this highway. So it would've been convenient for him to start the fire.

    I know he did it. Payback for what I did to his mother. In a way it's still jolting, though. I expected a reaction when I roughed up his mother. That's why I did it. To smoke him out. But I didn't expect him to burn my house down in the dead of night, to try and kill me. It's crazy, but I didn't expect him to want to kill me. That's left over from the period where he was the coolly rational figure and I was cast in the role of spurned psycho. That was the first thing he did to me.

    That's one of the things that still pisses me off. The idea that anyone did something to me, let alone this stupid beaner with no sense of humor. I'm just not into being a victim. I'm not a masochist. Maybe he thought I was. Except I'd rather think I was just trusting. I'd hate to think that it all boils down to sadists and victims. But one of the things Pablo did to me is he's got me thinking that way.

    He's not stupid, incidentally. I probably already mentioned that. I know the version you got of the whole thing was sketchy. Dean has a new boyfriend, they're in love, it's intense, then they fight, have some problems, break up. Something like that. The official summarized version. But I know I'd often emphasize his intelligence as a kind of reassurance to my fellow Anglo friends. Like: He's Latino, but he doesn't have an accent (like your typical dumb beaner). Born in refined, Eurocentric Chile (not cruddy scumbucket Mexico), but a U.S. citizen. And above all a doctor, a brilliant research scientist. Later, after we "broke up," when I talked about his lack of humor, his inability to laugh, I'd say: "It's not that he wasn't intelligent, he was very intelligent...." Which is true. He was, is. He's also a ghoul and a sadist. But here's the thing, here's the sick part. He thinks that's cool. He's a kind of guy who'd be hard to insult that way. If you called him a vampire, he'd take it as a compliment. He'd say, "I warned you," and then he'd work in the term "emotional serial killer." That was the actual warning. He didn't say, "I'm an emotional serial killer." It was slightly more oblique. What he said was, "Calvin," this odious queen best friend of his, "Calvin attracts emotional serial killers, and he thinks I might be one too. But we had this big talk about it, and I convinced him I'm not. That when I break up with someone, I always explain why it's not working out. I don't just dump them brutally the way these guys always dump Calvin." It was something like that, those aren't the exact words. But at this point we'd been going together for maybe a month and I felt smug. I mean, I felt like it was working, I didn't see it as a warning, even when he said, "Be careful, watch out." I mean, he actually said that. But it seemed weirdly charming or antic or something, like he was striking this ironic "dangerous" pose. Which is an odd thing about Pablo. He could strike these strange poses that I secretly thought of as woefully ridiculous. The equivalent of Maria Montez saying, "I know many men say I am cruel." Not that Pablo talks like she does with a campy accent. He has his own pose-defeating speech pattern, which in his case evokes a very unexotic image of a Latino youth in flared jeans watching Suzi Quatro on Happy Days circa 1974 in a middle-class house in Granada Hills. That Roseanne thing, although a lot of people do it now: Saying goes instead of said. "So Calvin goes, `Pablo, guys just realize you're someone worth having ...' And I go: `Calvin ...'" Which kind of drives me up the wall in a way. Because it sounds stupid, it sounds lowlife and Valley. Of course, I'm six years older than Pablo, part of the last generation that still says said.

    Another time he struck a pose like that, with this riff in a restaurant, this Casanova love-god riff. "When guys look at me," he said across the table, "they think of one thing: sex." I laughed, which pissed him off. He said, "What are you laughing at?" I don't remember what I said, but I didn't say, "You." I didn't say that, but I got the point across. Except I wasn't laughing at him in some mean, put-down way. God knows, I thought of sex when I looked at him. I just wanted us to laugh. Which, with Pablo, was wanting the impossible.

    I mean, he couldn't laugh. He couldn't, in the same way that mutes can't talk. I noticed this early on, of course, and he commented on it before I could. Like he was aware that he never laughed, but he didn't really offer an explanation. I just accepted it at first as an odd personality tic. And to be blunt, it didn't really matter a whole lot when the fucking was as good as it was. But it was strange, and it seems strange now, since humor is so important to me, since I'm essentially a satirist, that I'd get involved with someone who never laughed at all.

    Except he did once, actually. Just once. At a trailer for some piece-of-shit Bette Midler movie. We'd gone to the New Beverly to see The Long Goodbye, and even before the trailers we'd been sitting there discussing different films. This was pretty early in our relationship, and just from talking about different films, I'd started to feel somewhat disturbed, since everything I liked Pablo hated and vice versa. So I guessed correctly that he wasn't going to care for The Long Goodbye, which is one of my all-time favorite films. But I was thinking: Hey, it would be dull if everyone agreed. And anyway, who cares when the fucking's so good? And then this trailer came on for that total dog of a movie with Bette Midler and Woody Allen, the one where he carries the surfboard around the shopping mall—I'm blocking the title—and suddenly, with zero warning, Pablo let out this quick but hideous wet shriek. I mean, a shriek, which to me is not sexy. Queens shriek, queens shriek at Bette Midler movies. But Pablo's not a queen. He doesn't act or speak at all effeminately. Not that he's off at the other extreme into some hard posturing machismo number. He just has this kind of natural, maybe jocklike masculine demeanor, so this shriek came as a real shock. And I kind of thought: Well, if that's what his laugh sounds like, maybe it's just as well ...

    But here's another explanation, one this therapist I was seeing for a while thought of. Bob, this psychologist. With long silver hair. Actually, he looked a lot like Twin Peaks Bob. You kept expecting him to hop over the couch or something. But Bob said, when I mentioned Pablo's inability to laugh, "Was there anything wrong with his teeth?" And suddenly it hit me: Yes, I think Pablo's front teeth may be slightly crooked. Not in a way that I ever noticed that much, or that anyone would find objectionable, but maybe he was self-conscious about it. It was dark in the movie theater the one time he cut loose. I don't know what the point is, but I forgave Pablo a lot. I mean, physically. He wasn't perfect, but who is? Still, I may have transformed him because the sex was so good. Or because I was in love with him.

    Which is not to say that he isn't hot. It's kind of true that when you look at him, it's hard not to think of sex. His body is OK. I mean by that he's not all built up, which I find repulsive anyway, that muscle-queen look. He's got a good body is what I'm saying. And a really hot face. Except it seems weird, even now, to reduce him to the physical. To say, hot bod, nice butt, juicy uncut cock, hot face, like Andy Garcia. Even if it's true, which it is.

    Andy Garcia. He can play Pablo when this becomes a big Hollywood movie. Of course, I'll be played by William Petersen. Eight Million Ways to Live and Die in L.A.

    Andy Garcia was a big reference point in Testosterone. In one section especially, that was drawn from Internal Affairs. I was the Richard Gere character there. But instead of beating Andy up in an elevator, I fucked him. Instead of telling him I fucked his wife in the ass, I fucked him in the ass. Instead of his wife going crazy, he did. That was a strange film, though. This twisted competition between two guys who should've been fucking. Kind of like this is now.

    It's difficult, I think, with two male-identified men. It might have been a lot easier if Pablo had been a cha-cha boy, a little mambo queen. But he looked like Andy Garcia with a beatnik goatee. Which is strange, that's become such a massive cliché now. Goatees. I don't know if Pablo was a trendsetter or if it came out of an older Latino tradition. Like a cholo goatee. Or if it's all part of the same thing now, since all this Latino stuff is really in. But to me, at the time, the goatee signified "bohemian."

    At first, the first night we met, I didn't realize he was Latino. I mean, it was dark, I couldn't see him that well, and the first label I put on him was "student". Since he said he was taking a break from working on his paper. He looked like a student, black Levi's, faded Concrete Blonde T-shirt. This was at the beach in Ocean Park, the cruising beach. Most people don't know that's where I met him. After we were going together, once we'd become boyfriends, I didn't feel like telling people we met at a sleazy pickup spot and went back to his place for sex like cheap tricks. So I'd say we met through friends at a party or something. I don't know why now I felt embarrassed, exactly. It's not like my friends are that prissy, with one or two exceptions. I guess I just didn't want people leering or smirking.

    But that's where it happened. At the beach, which was strange. Because I hadn't gone down there much for years. I mean, back in the seventies, the early eighties, I used to. When I lived in Venice I'd go down there a lot. I'd walk down there at night, fool around, get sucked off. Stop at Muni's Liquor on my way home, snag a pint of Häagen-Dazs. That's not all I did in those days. I had boyfriends, fuck buddies, sex-and-dinner dates, a wife and kids at one point—just kidding. But it was one of the things I did a lot.

    Then I moved out of Venice in '84, moved up the coast to Tuna Canyon, became this hermit. I mean, I still had my friends, like you, but I went through some really long periods of celibacy. I don't talk about this a lot. It makes people too crazy. Gay people, I mean. Gay men. Especially in those days, in the mid eighties, I learned to keep my mouth shut. There was so much hysteria, denial: I'm not going to stop having sex. How many times did I hear people say that, essentially out of the blue? Not that I'd suggested they should. I didn't care what other people did. If they wanted to go out and eat twenty strange butts a night, my feeling was: Hey, bon appetit. But for me, for a long time, the idea of actual sex, as opposed to jack-off fantasies, seemed contaminated.

(Continues ...)

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First Chapter

1

Hey, Jim. By the time you hear this, I'll be dead. Just kidding. But you're probably wondering what this is. One thing it's not is what you were expecting: a tape of the Bad Religion show at the Palace. I missed that, as it turned out. A lot's been going on.
I'll tell what this is, on one level anyway. An experiment. A novel, a living novel, spoken directly onto tape. Without all the tedious typing and editing, and agents, publishers, printers, before the book-on-tape version. I'm skipping all that. And it's a living novel because it's taking place right now as I speak it. I mean, I don't know exactly what's going to happen. I don't know how each scene is going to unfold. But I do have a very rough sense of the narrative. I know the premise, you could say. I know the fundamental thrust of this thing. But I'm not going to spill it. I need to build my case first, so you don't think I've flipped out. In the meantime, I don't want to shoot too soon.
I'll tell you this much: I'm out looking for action, some very serious action, today. I'm seeking catharsis, a visceral catharsis-that's what I'm up to right now. I'm a no-bullshit guy, and one angry queer, so don't fuck with me because I'm on a mission. Attention all breeders: You'd better part for me like the Red fucking Sea, because I'm plenty pissed-off, and if you get in my way, I'll ram your rear-end and squash your little baby.
In fact, I'm in the car now, as you can no doubt tell. But if you're listening closely, you may already know that it's not my car. It's not my throaty '66 GTO. It's a Hertz rental car. A purposefully nondescript mouse-gray Nissan Maxima. At first they were going to give me a Sentra. Till I mentioned Nicole [Brown Simpson] and got a free upgrade.
I miss the power of my GTO. But I wrapped that around a sycamore almost two months ago. I wasn't drunk, in case you're wondering. I hadn't had a thing to drink, and I wasn't on drugs. I was spaced out and angry, I guess, and a few other things, maybe not paying attention. This happened on Old Canyon Road, on a stretch I know well. I mean, I know automatically where to slow down, but for some reason I didn't. Except it's not for some reason, like I don't know what the reason is. I know, I remember, exactly what I was thinking about when I drove off the road. I was thinking about Pablo Ortega. Remembering how much I liked to wrap my lips around his fat brown uncut cock. Then my lips became my car and his cock became the sycamore tree.
I broke the windshield with my head and got a pretty bad whiplash. Had to wear a brace for six weeks. That's why I still hadn't cleared the brush around my house, which I usually do in April. Not that it would have made any difference. Except it would have made it more obvious the fire was set intentionally.
It happened in the middle of the night, two weeks ago Thursday. I haven't been sleeping well, that's all that saved me. I tend to wake up a lot in the night. And sometimes I get up, smoke a cigarette to calm down again. Which is strange, in that it's something that Pablo also does. So sometimes when I'd be doing that, smoking a cigarette in the dead of the night, I'd think about Pablo, doing the same thing at the same time somewhere else, thinking about me. So it gave me this strange sense of connection. Except that night he wasn't that far away. He wasn't across town somewhere, I'm convinced of that. I was smoking a cigarette in the bedroom, looking out at the moon through the eucalyptus trees, when I smelled the smoke downstairs. Saw the flames. I grabbed my pants, that was all. I saved nothing from the work room. It was too late for that. It was three in the morning, so nobody saw the flames or called. By the time I got to the first yuppie house on Saddle Peak Road and woke them up, my house was completely engulfed in flames. Five units arrived within twenty minutes. But there was nothing left to save.
The fire inspector said a cigarette started it. Someone flicked a cigarette from a car. He tried to blame me for not clearing the brush. Like it was an accident. Carelessness, that is, instead of deliberate arson. I argued with him about this, but he kept insisting it wasn't arson. He got defensive, like I was questioning his expertise. I asked what the cigarette brand was-if he'd said Kools that would've cinched it-but he wouldn't tell me. I let it go at that point. I didn't need evidence. I already knew what I was going to do. I was going to kill Pablo. I'd known that for several weeks before the fire. The fire just convinced me that if I didn't kill him, he'd kill me. He'd just tried.
I tried to minimize the impact of the fire in my mind. Most of what was lost, the original art work, was in a sense sentimental. Most of it's been published. It's out there, it still exists in the world. So it was like losing the original cels of Fantasia or something, when dozens of prints are still in distribution. I kept using that analogy so I wouldn't feel raped and buttfucked and lobotomized. But I think that finally I was beyond a certain kind of anger. Which is good. It's given me clarity, resolve. To just do what needs to be done.
A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. I can never remember who said that. Clint Eastwood? Liberace? Margaret Thatcher? Maybe all three.
I've been staying at Charlie's, sleeping on the sofa. He's back in New York now. I've had the place to myself for the last three days. Which has been good. It's given me a chance to prepare for today. Without sneaking around. Or having Charlie try to talk me out of it.
In a way, I'm still numb. About the fire, I mean. I keep thinking of things that were lost. Specific books. The books-that's the main thing I can't replace. Fifteen years of books, many out of print now. That's where it starts to feel like a lobotomy. But the main loss, the crucial loss, was my new work-in-progress. Which was actually almost finished. My new graphic novel, even though I hate that term now, Testosterone. Which I think, which I know, was the best thing I've done so far. By far, the most autobiographical. I don't like to think of art as therapy, as you know. I mean, that's insulting, condescending. And irritating because it's not completely untrue. And Testosterone was, in a certain respect, a kind of "working out" of feelings about things that happened with Pablo. Not that it was literal. I don't like these terms like "surreal," or "magical realism." But I would say "magical paranoia." That's the term that occurred to me at one point, though I'd never use it in an interview. I wouldn't want to be stuck with it, or have to explain what it meant. But it felt right as a description of the mood I was trying to create, and in fact, created. I've tried telling myself that: that I did the work, I performed the exorcism, and that it can't be undone even though the work itself is lost. But here's the problem: it feels undone. Or as if, perhaps, it was always an incomplete exorcism, a failed exorcism. Which I think in a sense it was. Because this story of evil magic has been incredibly on-going. I mean, even though Pablo and I "broke up" over a year ago, new information keeps coming to light, new curses, new spells. I keep finding little hex packets hidden in my psyche, and this was going on even as I drew Testosterone. Some of this new material I worked in as I went. But at a certain point you have to freeze things, you have to say "Enough." Except the Pablo material wouldn't stay put. It kept growing like a lethal virus creeping over the edge of the petri dish. So even as I finished Testosterone, and savored a sense of artistic accomplishment, I knew that in another very real and important way, it was already spiritually dated.
I'm on PCH right now, incidentally, heading north toward the Malibu. I don't know why I just said that-the Malibu-except it sounds pretentious, affected, and that amuses me, and I need some amusement right now. But here's the real point. I'm passing the Tuna Canyon turn-off...right now. So there's a kind of geo-verbal synchronicity in my telling you about the burning love house now. That's how I think of it. I think of that X song. Do you remember that X song, "Burning House of Love"? That was Pablo's favorite group from his teenage years. He was nostalgic about it. He had memories. Just like Sean Young in Blade Runner. Music, I think, was our one meeting ground, besides sex. But in that song, if you remember, John Doe is obsessed. He's broken up with Exene or something, and she's got a new boyfriend and he's jealous, and he talks about going for a drive to "burn your love house down." It's a good song. I'm nostalgic for it. For the time when it made sense. When I was just obsessed.
It's funny. Pablo had to drive this way a lot. On the way out to see his new boyfriend or victim. Which is where I'm going right now. Out to Decker Canyon, to see this poor sucker Brice. So all the time I was looking for him in all these other strange parts of L.A., he was still over here on the Westside. He was still on this highway. So it would've been convenient for him to start the fire.
I know he did it. Payback for what I did to his mother. In a way it's still jolting though. I expected a reaction when I roughed up his mother. That's why I did it. To smoke him out. But I didn't expect him to burn my house down in the dead of night, to try and kill me. It's crazy, but I didn't expect him to want to kill me. That's left over from the period where he was the coolly rational figure and I was cast in the role of spurned psycho. That was the first thing he did to me.
That's one of the things that still pisses me off. The idea that anyone did something to me, let alone this stupid beaner with no sense of humor. I'm just not into being a victim. I'm not a masochist. Maybe he thought I was. Except I'd rather think I was just trusting. I'd hate to think that it all boils down to sadists and victims. But one of the things Pablo did to me is he's got me thinking that way.
He's not stupid, incidentally. I probably already mentioned that. I know the version you got of the whole thing was sketchy. Dean has a new boyfriend, they're in love, it's intense, then they fight, have some problems, break up. Something like that. The official summarized version. But I know I'd often emphasize his intelligence as a kind of reassurance to my fellow Anglo friends. Like: he's Latino, but he doesn't have an accent (like your typical dumb beaner). Born in refined, Eurocentric Chile (not cruddy scumbucket Mexico), but a U.S. citizen. And above all a doctor, a brilliant research scientist. Later, after we "broke up," when I talked about his lack of humor, his inability to laugh, I'd say: "It's not that he wasn't intelligent, he was very intelligent...." Which is true. He was, is. He's also a ghoul and a sadist. But here's the thing, here's the sick part. He thinks that's cool. He's a kind of guy who'd be hard to insult that way. If you called him a vampire, he'd take it as a compliment. He'd say, "I warned you," and then he'd work in the term "emotional serial killer." That was the actual warning. He didn't say, "I'm an emotional serial killer." It was slightly more oblique. What he said was, "Calvin," this odious queen best friend of his, "Calvin attracts emotional serial killers, and he thinks I might be one, too. But we had this big talk about it and I convinced him I'm not. That when I break up with someone, I always explain why it's not working out. I don't just dump them brutally the way these guys always dump Calvin." It was something like that, those aren't the exact words. But at this point, we'd been going together for maybe a month and I felt smug. I mean, I felt like it was working, I didn't see it as a warning, even when he said, "Be careful, watch out." I mean, he actually said that. But it seemed weirdly charming or antic or something, like he was striking this ironic "dangerous" pose. Which is an odd thing about Pablo. He could strike these strange poses that I secretly thought of as woefully ridiculous. The equivalent of Maria Montez saying, "I know many men say I am cruel." Not that Pablo talks like she does with a campy accent. He has his own pose-defeating speech pattern, which in his case evokes a very unexotic image of a Latino youth in flared jeans watching Suzy Quatro on Happy Days circa 1974 in a middle-class house in Granada Hills. That Roseanne thing, although a lot of people do it now: Saying goes instead of said. "So Calvin goes, 'Pablo, guys just realize you're someone worth having....' And I go: 'Calvin....'" Which kind of drives me up the wall in a way. Because it sounds stupid, it sounds low-life and Valley. Of course, I'm six years older than Pablo, part of the last generation that still says said.
Another time he struck a pose like that, with this riff in a restaurant, this Casanova love-god riff. "When guys look at me," he said across the table, "they think of one thing: Sex." I laughed, which pissed him off. He said, "What are you laughing at?" I don't remember what I said, but I didn't say, "You." I didn't say that, but I got the point across. Except I wasn't laughing at him in some mean, put-down way. God knows, I thought of sex when I looked at him. I just wanted us to laugh. Which, with Pablo, was wanting the impossible.
I mean, he couldn't laugh. He couldn't, in the same way that mutes can't talk. I noticed this early on, of course, and he commented on it before I could. Like he was aware that he never laughed, but he didn't really offer an explanation. I just accepted it at first as an odd personality tic. And to be blunt, it didn't really matter a whole lot when the fucking was as good as it was. But it was strange, and it seems strange now, since humor is so important to me, since I'm essentially a satirist, that I'd get involved with someone who never laughed at all.
Except he did once, actually. Just once. At a trailer for some piece-of-shit Bette Midler movie. We'd gone to the New Beverly to see The Long Goodbye, and even before the trailers we'd been sitting there discussing different films. This was pretty early in our relationship, and just from talking about different films, I'd started to feel somewhat disturbed, since everything I liked Pablo hated and vice versa. So I guessed correctly that he wasn't going to care for The Long Goodbye, which is one of my all-time favorite films. But I was thinking: Hey, it would be dull if everyone agreed. And anyway, who cares when the fucking's so good? And then this trailer came on for that total dog of a movie with Bette Midler and Woody Allen, the one where he carries the surfboard around the shopping mall-I'm blocking the title-and suddenly, with zero warning, Pablo let out this quick but hideous wet shriek. I mean, a shriek, which to me is not sexy. Queens shriek, queens shriek at Bette Midler movies. But Pablo's not a queen. He doesn't act or speak at all effeminately. Not that he's off at the other extreme into some hard posturing machismo number. He just has this kind of natural, maybe jock-like masculine demeanor, so this shriek came as a real shock. And I kind of thought: Well, if that's what his laugh sounds like, maybe it's just as well....
But here's another explanation, one this therapist I was seeing for a while thought of. Bob, this psychologist. With long silver hair. Actually, he looked a lot like Twin Peaks Bob. You kept expecting him to hop over the couch or something. But Bob said, when I mentioned Pablo's inability to laugh, "Was there anything wrong with his teeth?" And suddenly it hit me: Yes, I think Pablo's front teeth may be slightly crooked. Not in a way that I ever noticed that much, or that anyone would find objectionable, but maybe he was self-conscious about it. It was dark in the movie theater the one time he cut loose. I don't know what the point is, but I forgave Pablo a lot. I mean, physically. He wasn't perfect, but who is? Still, I may have transformed him, because the sex was so good. Or because I was in love with him.
Which is not to say that he isn't hot. It's kind of true that when you look at him, it's hard not to think of sex. His body is okay. I mean by that he's not all built-up, which I find repulsive anyway, that muscle-queen look. He's got a good body is what I'm saying. And a really hot face. Except it seems weird, even now, to reduce him to the physical. To say, hot bod, nice butt, juicy uncut cock, hot face, like Andy Garcia. Even if it's true, which it is.
Andy Garcia. He can play Pablo when this becomes a big Hollywood movie. Of course, I'll be played by William Petersen. Eight Million Ways to Live and Die in L.A.
Andy Garcia was a big reference point in Testosterone. In one section especially, that was drawn from Internal Affairs. I was the Richard Gere character there. But instead of beating Andy up in an elevator, I fucked him. Instead of telling him I fucked his wife in the ass, I fucked him in the ass. Instead of his wife going crazy, he did. That was a strange film, though. This twisted competition between two guys who should've been fucking. Kind of like this is now.
It's difficult, I think, with two male-identified men. It might have been a lot easier if Pablo had been a cha-cha boy, a little mambo queen. But he looked like Andy Garcia with a beatnik goatee. Which is strange, that's become such a massive cliché now. Goatees. I don't know if Pablo was a trend-setter, or if it came out of an older Latino tradition. Like a cholo goatee. Or if it's all part of the same thing now, since all this Latino stuff is really in. But to me, at the time, the goatee signified "bohemian."
At first, the first night we met, I didn't realize he was Latino. I mean, it was dark, I couldn't see him that well, and the first label I put on him was "student". Since he said he was taking a break from working on his paper. He looked like a student, black Levi's, faded Concrete Blonde T-shirt. This was at the beach in Ocean Park, the cruising beach. Most people don't know that's where I met him. After we were going together, once we'd become boyfriends, I didn't feel like telling people we met at a sleazy pick-up spot and went back to his place for sex like cheap tricks. So I'd say we met through friends at a party or something. I don't know why now I felt embarrassed exactly. It's not like my friends are that prissy, with one or two exceptions. I guess I just didn't want people leering or smirking.
But that's where it happened. At the beach, which was strange. Because I hadn't gone down there much for years. I mean, back in the seventies, the early eighties, I used to. When I lived in Venice I'd go down there a lot. I'd walk down there at night, fool around, get sucked off. Stop at Muni's Liquor on my way home, snag a pint of Haagen Dasz. That's not all I did in those days. I had boyfriends, fuck buddies, sex-and-dinner dates, a wife and kids at one point-just kidding. But it was one of things I did a lot.
Then I moved out of Venice in '84, moved up the coast to Tuna Canyon, became this hermit. I mean, I still had my friends, like you, but I went through some really long periods of celibacy. I don't talk about this a lot. It makes people too crazy. Gay people, I mean. Gay men. Especially in those days, in the mid-eighties, I learned to keep my mouth shut. There was so much hysteria, denial: I'm not going to stop having sex. How many times did I hear people say that, essentially out of the blue? Not that I'd suggested they should. I didn't care what other people did. If they wanted to go out and eat twenty strange butts a night, my feeling was: Hey, bon appetit. But for me, for a long time, the idea of actual sex, as opposed to jack-off fantasies, seemed contaminated.
But know what? That period really bores me now-the empty years, I mean-so I'm not going to bore you by doing "Confessions of a Celibate." The whole point is, I went for a long time without getting much-out of choice. And I'm not really sorry now, since that may be why I'm negative. That, in fact, is the one good thing that's happened in the last year. Finally taking the test and coming up negative. Not that it's changed as much as I thought it would.
But here's the real point. Right before I met Pablo, I'd been rediscovering sex. I mean, there'd been the thing with Rich the year before. He seems really hapless and well-intentioned now, incidentally. But after that blew up, I started hitting different cruising spots. The park a few times, but mostly the beach. Like a safe-sex version of the old days. Jack-off scenes. And, to be honest, a few times I let guys blow me, though not to the point of coming, and I wouldn't blow them. I was still playing this game where I thought most of the time: I probably don't have it. Which was good in a way, as it turned out, since I didn't.
But I was starting to feel that I was maybe getting re-addicted to anonymous sex. I mean, during the celibate period I liked to think that I was on a kind of fast. I saw myself as damaged, or emotionally shut down, from all the anonymous sex of the pre-AIDS era. So I thought by being celibate I was putting some distance between myself and all that, somehow "getting ready" for something more meaningful. So when I started going to the beach again, I saw myself slipping back, regressing. So when I met Pablo, and that started up and looked serious, and we agreed to be monogamous, I had this great sense of relief that I'd been saved from the now-deadly patterns of the past.
He said he was negative. While we were talking there that first night at the beach, before we went back to his place. He'd invited me, I guess, and I was hesitating. Thinking that I kind of just wanted to get sucked off at the beach, no muss, no fuss. That's the truth of it. He said, "I don't want to twist your arm." Then I said something about only being into safe things. That's when he said he'd just tested negative.
For some reason that unlocked my libido. When we got back to his place, I mean. This place in Venice where he was house-sitting. He started blowing me and I blew him. And I wasn't afraid, since I knew he was negative. Rich and I never blew each other, since he also hadn't taken the test.
So for the first time in ten years I wasn't terrified on some level. Pablo was blowing me, but he didn't seem that worried. I liked that too, his attitude. The fact that he really liked sex. I felt like: Okay, finally, I can relax and do what I've wanted to do for the last ten years. Because I really like sex, too. I like a nice juicy cock in my mouth as much as the next man, especially when you don't have to worry about death. And most of all, more than anything, I love to fuck butt. Pablo claimed the first night that he didn't like to get fucked. But he did. He just wasn't going to give me everything right away.
It's funny. That first night at the beach, Pablo approached me. Which I thought about later when Twin Peaks Bob said, "Vampires always make the first move." Said this without knowing how or where I met Pablo, since I censored that. Didn't want to "explain" gay cruising to Bob. But that's how it happened. I'd seen Pablo get out of this Saab he was driving and go over and sit down on the grass. It was actually this park, this small park, by the beach. He asked me once later if I would've approached him. Like he wanted to know my first impression, if I'd been attracted to him. I told him the truth, kind of, that I probably wouldn't have, that something about him intimidated me. He had this air of easy self-assurance that made me feel nervous in comparison, and the Saab had stuck-up yuppie connotations. But the real truth is that even when we talked I wasn't that attracted to him. He was good-looking, but he didn't really galvanize me. He wasn't somebody I had to have or else. But once we had sex I was hooked. And the more we did it, the more hooked I got.
It could have been just a one-night stand. I'm still not sure why it wasn't. But after we had sex we talked for a while. He asked me what I did and when I told him, he said, "Oh, right. My friend Calvin is really into all that." Meaning comic books, graphic novels, 'zines. He mentioned another friend of his, a CalArts graduate, an ex-boyfriend who was an artist. This turned out to be Mark Spivey. But he made it sound like he knew a lot of artists and art world people, even though he himself was a scientist. He was vague on that point. He mentioned Cal-Tech in a way that that made it sound like he taught there, or did research there, but had taken a sabbatical to write a major research paper. He had a part-time job with the county, he said, but he wasn't specific. He was house-sitting in Venice, he said, because his apartment building in the Wilshire District was being renovated and the noise made it hard for him to work there. I asked him what his research paper was about and he said, "Well, it's pretty technical. But it has to do with the way HIV affects the brain." He talked about it in more detail until I saw that he was right, it was essentially beyond me in terms of neurobiological jargon.
But I liked the idea that he was a scientist, instead of another artist or a writer, or some kind of volatile, paranoid creative person, like Rich. Or me. I thought of Janice, who was always having these fucked-up affairs with other artists, who'd get crazy and competitive and all that. Until she finally settled down with an astronomer. I saw Pablo and me as a similar case of opposites complementing each other.
Pablo seemed like a scientist. I mean, his personality, that kind of dry intelligence. What I see now is that Pablo is by far more WASP than I am. Which I think is intentional. As if to succeed in the Anglo science world he's cultivated this cool, dispassionate approach. While I'm just the opposite. Having come from this tight-assed WASP Republican background, I've tried to be more like the stereotype of Latins. Spontaneous, expressive: Get those emotions out. So it's strange, because with Pablo all those stereotypes were reversed. I was the volatile hothead, he was the cool customer. Which is not to say he doesn't have a temper. He just knows how to hold it in. It took me a while to see this for some reason. I think his brown skin fooled me at first, so I didn't realize how much he was really like my father.
I'm passing Zuma Beach now. It's not much farther. Brice is up on Decker Canyon Road. He's not expecting me, but I think he'll still be there. I called right before I left Charlie's. When he answered, I hung up. He's embarrassed and I don't blame him.
See, this is what happened. I ran into Pablo and Brice about three months ago at El Coyote and I lost it. I was there with Charlie. We were going to a movie. Charlie's been a great friend though all this, incidentally. So we were just leaving and Pablo and Brice were coming in, and at first I wasn't sure it was him. I mean, my mind's been doing this number on all these different guys with goatees now, which has been driving me crazy, since I'm constantly seeing guys who look at first glance like Pablo. Then I saw the hairline scar over his eyebrow and knew it was him. I had half a second where I could've just kept walking, but I knew I'd be a pussy for the rest of my life if I did. So I blew and tried to grab Pablo. I said, "You fucking piece of slime." But Pablo jumped back and then Charlie grabbed me. So then I said to this Brice guy, who kind of looks like an innocent-eyed young Keith Carradine, "Run!" I actually said this. I said, "Run for your life! This guy's a fucking vampire. He'll suck your heart out of your throat."
Pablo said, "You need help." Which completely set me off again. Since that's the whole way he's tried to position me, like I'm the one with the problem.
So I said, "What I need is your fucking head in a box of ice, motherfucker!" Which comes from Testosterone, this allusion to Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia, which I knew that he got, since he knows I have a thing about that film-even though he's only into Bette Midler movies or those crappy South American films based on Gabriel Garcia Marquez stories.
That was basically it. The manager was coming over, and Charlie pulled me out the door, but I remember Brice's wide-eyed horrified look, no doubt wondering on some level if he should heed my warning. So I kind of wished I'd been less over-the-top and psycho and therefore easy to dismiss since, believe it or not, I really was thinking of Brice.
So Charlie got me out to the car and we left, even though at that point I'd been looking for Pablo for months. But my conscious intention had just been to talk to him, to get some sense of closure, to at least get some clue as to what had happened from his side. And obviously that had been blown, so it seemed right to go. But later I kicked myself, that Charlie had been there, that I'd missed my chance to smash Pablo's fucking face through the plate-glass window.
Then, about a week before my house burned down, I got this message from Brice on my machine. He sounded very drunk and he said, "I just want you to know you were right about Pablo. I should've listened. He made me think you were crazy, but I don't think you are now. I'm really sorry I didn't listen. I think I know what you're going through."
He also said his name, just his first name, but he didn't leave a number. So it took me a while to find out his last name and look up the number. But when I called him back, he claimed he couldn't remember calling me, which is possibly true. Then he shut down, blew me off, which I can understand, since I might be the one person who knows how badly he got hurt. A part of me doesn't want to disturb him. But, if certain people are right about certain things, he may be in a lot more danger than he knows.
Okay, I'm coming to Decker Canyon now. It's coming up here pretty quick. I'm curious in a way to see how it happened. How Pablo dumped him. It seems to happen different ways. Like he tailors it to the individual for maximum cruelty and long-term devastation.
Here's how he did it to me. It was a Friday night at my place in Tuna Canyon. Pablo was going to spend the weekend. We'd just eaten dinner. We were going to watch Tie Me Up/Tie Me Down. But first we were laying on the bed, still dressed, but kind of making out. The part I always remember is how he had a hard-on. Even though he knew just what he was going to do. Which was this. He suddenly rolled back and said, "Shit. I forgot to stop and get cigarettes." Which of course was a drag, since it's a six mile drive down to the liquor store. But he sits up and starts pulling on his shoes.
So I decide to do some more work while he's gone. Figuring he'll be gone about a half hour. I get caught up in what I'm doing, and the next thing I know it's an hour later. So I'm worried for a second, since you know what the road is like. Except then I notice that his knapsack isn't there, which he always brings when he stays over. I realize that tonight he never brought it in.
So I have this feeling, even though we've been getting along. I mean, we had some strange fights, which I'll get into later, but at this point nothing seems to be wrong. But on a hunch I call his number in Venice. I can't believe it, but the phone's been disconnected. So that's when I know what's up. Except I still can't quite believe it. I think maybe I'm being paranoid, so I drive down to the liquor store on PCH. He could've had car trouble. But of course he's not there. So I drive to the house in Venice, this bungalow on Rialto. The house is dark. But I can look in the windows, since the curtains have been taken down, and see that it's empty. I drove back by a week or so later and found out the guy he'd supposedly been house-sitting for was not in Europe but had actually died of AIDS. Pablo was just doing some realtor a favor. I called his work number at the Medical Examiner's Office downtown and got a secretary who told me he no longer worked there. She claimed not to know where he was, and when I asked why he'd quit, she said, "I'm not at liberty to talk discuss the circumstances of Dr. Ortega's termination." So I didn't know what the fuck was going on. I tried to reach him at Cal-Tech, where he'd supposedly been researching this paper he was writing. But I struck out completely there.
Since then I've gone through about a thousand different emotions, but for a long time I was just in shock. I mean, naturally I tried to figure out what I'd done, since clearly he was mad at me. Like he'd been mad at me for a while, but kept it to himself. Knowing he was going to be leaving the place in Venice on a certain date, maybe he'd figured it was easier to disappear than have a big breaking-up scene, which admittedly could have become heated. Like I say, we did have some fights. I don't mean I ever hit him, or that he ever hit me. They weren't physical fights in that sense, except we kind of wrestled a few times.
The first time anything like that happened was at this restaurant, this Spanish place in Santa Monica, where he threw a glass of water in my face and I flipped and chased him outside and up the alley, where I grabbed him against a chain-link fence and fucked him in the ass. I mean, that's what happened. I yanked down his jeans and spit in my hand to lubricate my cock and fucked him in the ass without a rubber. The first time I'd done that in years. Fucked some guy raw in the butt without a rubber. So I mean, it put me away. His butt was so tight and spit is not the best lubricant, so I felt like I was tearing him up and I liked it. I liked it a lot and so did he. He was going crazy, groaning in pain/pleasure. And it was all I could do to pull out before I came, but I did. Even though it kind of freaked me out later, realizing he wouldn't have cared if I'd come up his ass, even though he didn't know my status.
Fuck, this is crazy. I'm getting a hard-on right now, just remembering that night.
But the point is this. Yes, there was a point. That's basically what our fights, what all our fights, were like. We'd always ended up fucking. Which disturbed me initially, then I didn't care. The truth is, there's a part of me that would still like to fuck Pablo again right now today. I can still run this fantasy, which I ran for a long time, that I'd find him and we'd have this big fight but end up fucking. I really wish like anything it could be like that, but I don't have access to that kind of magic. I know too much now and there's no going back. The sex part of our relationship is over.
I'm on Decker Road now, incidentally. This is a strange area. Dry brush, a few scattered houses here and there. You know who else lives up here? John Lilly. You have to be a weirdo to live up here. It's very remote. I'm looking for the address now. On the mailboxes. Fourteen, fifteen. Okay, this must be it. Hmm. Strange. Okay, I'm stopping here. There's a dirt road leading back to a trailer in some eucalyptus trees. An old Peugeot out front. I guess Brice is home. Okay, here I am. I wonder if he's seen me yet. This is sad, man. I see myself in this guy. This whole hermit trip. I guess Pablo likes them vulnerable.
Okay, I'll be back in a while. Or maybe real soon if he freaks out. That's why I'm not taking the Walkman. I should, but I'm not callous enough to play sleazebag reporter and surreptitiously record him. I'm being invasive enough as it is.

***

Okay, I'm back. Let me get out of here, in case he's watching from the window. Don't want him to think I'm talking to myself. Not that it matters. He still thinks I'm crazy. Let me turn around here in John Lilly's driveway. There's a dolphin on the mailbox. Must be his place.
So anyway. That was an odd scene. Poor fucking guy. He's hurting. I mean, he's one lonesome cowboy. Which is what he is, I think. A literal cowboy. Okay, maybe a ranch hand. He does something like that up around here somewhere, with horses. He's from Arizona. Tucson, I think. He's not stupid though. I'll tell you what he is. He's a fucking doll. Sandy hair, blue eyes. Shit, I'm starting to sound like some old auntie. It's true though. He triggered something from my distant past. Like from when I was twenty and trying to be straight but still getting crushes on different guys. Not that I was tempted to relive the past. Even though at one point I had a chance to.
So at first I had this kind of creepy feeling. Walking up to the trailer, where the door's standing open. There's this dry wind blowing, rustling the eucalyptus trees. A serious Chinatown feeling. Like I'm going to find this ineffably beautiful young man in there with flies buzzing over him, his wrists slit or something. Then I see him standing in the door in his underwear, eating a burrito. He's taller than I remembered from El Coyote, bigger. He freezes with a mouthful of beans.
I say, "Hi, look. I don't want to bother you, but I really need to talk to you."
I can see that he recognizes me. He swallows and says, "Yeah, okay. I had a feeling you'd track me down eventually."
So I go into the trailer and we sit at the table, this yellow formica table, and he offers me a drink of Jack Daniel's, which I accept. He adds some to the Coke he's drinking with his burrito. He looks like he drank most of the bottle the night before. He's still in his jockey shorts. The way he's sitting, leaning back with one foot up on his seat, I can see his crotch, the shape of his dick. I know that he knows this. I try to stay focused on his eyes, his face. He's growing a goatee.
He says, "Pablo showed me one of your comic books. The one about speed freaks. I Was a Teenage Speed Freak." He forces a smile. "Funny but strange."
I say, "Yeah, I know. So what else did Pablo tell you about me?"
He looks at me. "Do you really want to hear all that?"
I say, "He told you I was crazy, right?"
He says, "Yeah, he said that. He said it started out okay, then you got possessive."
"Did he say how it ended?"
Brice nods.
I say, "What did he tell you?"
"He said he tried to end it cleanly, but you flipped out. He said you kept calling him, threatening to kill yourself if he didn't come back to you."
Well, this seriously pisses me off. I mean, I feel myself going into this rage state, with the heartbeat, adrenaline, the whole bit. And I really don't want to get into that yet. I'm going to need all that later. I don't want to burn up all my fuel sitting in a trailer. So I just say, "That's not how it happened," as calmly as I can. And tell him how it happened, how Pablo stepped out for cigarettes.
He kinds of smiles and pours himself a straight shot and says, "Well, at least you were still mo-bile, pardner." He doesn't talk with a twang, incidentally. But he uses corny phrases that kind of indicate his background.
I ask him what he means about mobility. And he smiles, and says kind of sheepishly, "Well, you know, we got into some stuff."
I say, no, I don't know, what stuff?
He says, "Well, you know. With rope. He liked to be tied up. I guess you know that, though, right? You guys musta done that too, right?"
I say, "Not really." And I already feel this kind of weird sick envy. Since for some reason, I used to have thoughts about tying up Pablo. I mean, it's the kind of stray fantasy I've had, which I've never really done, of tying some guy up and fucking him. And I thought about it with Pablo, but I never really brought it up. So for a second I have this crazy idea that maybe if I had done that, if we'd gotten into that, I could've kept him. Like maybe he'd just been getting sexually bored. Except obviously that wasn't true, since he'd gotten into that with Brice and dumped him anyway.
I feel like I'm entering a kind of creepily vicarious or voyeuristic mode, but I still have to ask: "So what do you mean? You'd tie him to the bed?"
"Oh, no. He liked it standing up." Brice looks out the window. "Right out there. To the tree. He liked to be raped. Man, he'd go crazy. You can still see his come stains all over the tree bark. Christ Almighty, I sure loved to watch that big evil uncut dick of his shoot."
"I know," I tell him. "The next best thing to watching them fire that big fucking cannon they lugged across Spain in The Pride and the Passion." I know he won't get the reference. He's too young and it's too obscure. But I get it.
He says, "Well, who am I trying to kid? The sex was a factor. Didn't have much else in common. Guess you know how that is. Man oh man, did he love to get fucked."
I'm trying not to notice that he's getting a hard-on. "So you just tied him up?"
"Oh, no, man. No, he liked to switch off. He liked to tie my hands behind my back and push me down to my knees. Wave that big brown dick in my face, make me beg for it. You know."
"Right."
"It was strange at first," he says. "Before Pablo, I'd always been pretty vanilla. That scares me sometimes."
"What do you mean?"
Suddenly, he gets up and says, "Damn, I forgot my medication."
For a second I kind of shit, thinking it's going to be Crixivan or AZT or something. But he gets this pill bottle-and I'm trying not to notice this semi-erection in his jockey shorts-and as he takes out a capsule, he says, "Prozac, man. For my depression. I hope all that shit they say isn't true. Don't want to flip out and kill a bunch of people."
He tosses the pill back with a hit of Jack D.
"So were you guys having safe sex?" I say.
He shrugs and sits down again. "No need to. Both negative."
Another threadbare illusion bites the dust. Even though I know all about Pablo now, I'd still wanted to believe the unsafe sex we had, the un-rubberized fucking, was somehow unique to us and special.
I say, "So what is it that you're scared about?"
He says, "What do you mean?"
I say, "You said you were scared."
He says, "I don't remember that. I'm not scared. I'm not scared of anything. I'm fearless."
He's getting drunk. And I get this sense that he's a violent drunk. So I'm running out of time. I say, "So what happened? How did you guys finally break up?"
He says, "Break up? Who says we broke up?"
I say, "Well, you did, I guess. In your message on my machine." But for a second I'm confused, wondering if in fact they've made up, if they're seeing each other again.
He pours another drink, offers me one, which I accept. My second, his sixth. He says, "I'll tell you what happened. We drove up to this ranch in Agoura. A place my boss-my ex-boss-owns. The place was for sale, nobody around. Barn, stables, corral. This was a Saturday, hot. He tied me to a fence post. Right out in the sun. I was sweating. Then he tore off my shirt, pants, pulled off my boots, everything. Stripped me bare. Rougher than he'd ever been, not that I minded. Then he fucked me, fucked me good. The next thing I knew, I heard the car starting up. Then I was eatin' dust. I thought at first it was part of the game. A new wrinkle. But he didn't come back. Not that day, not that night, not the next day. He'd tied the ropes tight. I couldn't get loose. The boss came by on Monday, with some real estate people, a woman in a blue dress. By then I'd pissed and shit all down my legs. So he fired me. But here's the part that makes me feel like I'm sick: The only part I didn't like was the sunburn."
So I'm kind of dazed and kind of appalled. And completely caught off guard when suddenly, without warning, he starts to cry. These big, wrenching, chest-heaving sobs. He covers his face with his hands. I think about comforting him, but I get this sense that if I touch him, he'll turn violent. I mean, this guy's really schizzy. I know it's time to go, so I say, "Look, I really need to talk to Pablo. I'm not mad at him anymore, I just need to clarify things. I need a sense of closure. Can you tell me where he is?"
He wipes tears from his face and says, "I don't know where he is. But if I did, I wouldn't tell you. I know what kinda closure you got in mind."
I say, "No, really. I'm not mad any more. That's the point. I think it would be good for both of us if we have a moment of mutual forgiveness."
He says, "Man, don't try and bullshit me. I can see what you're up to in your eyes. You're crazy as a bed bug. You're crazier than me."
I start to get mad again. I say, "Look, don't fuck with me. I just want to know where he is."
Brice says, "I don't know where he is. But I would like to fuck with you. Tender-like, if that's what you want. You can kiss away these tears."
I'm not sure if he's being serious or sarcastic. Both, I guess. But I say, "I don't think that would be a good idea."
He says, "Then get the hell out of here. If you don't want to fuck, then what's the point in talking? I'm wasting my time on you."
I'm not offended. The guy's drunk, he's hurting. Basically this naive kid who got in way over his head.
On the way to the door my heart kind of stops when I notice this leash and collar and an empty stainless steel bowl.
I say, "You've got a dog?"
He says, "Used to. He died a while back."
I say, "I'm sorry. I know how that is. I lost one too. A while back."
I look at him and I can tell he doesn't have a clue. I decide to leave him in the dark. I'm walking down the driveway when he calls to me from the trailer door: "I'm warning you. You do anything to him before he comes back to me, I'm gonna come after you."
So. I'm back on PCH now, heading south, back to town. A good stretch of narrative road. Not too many stop lights or arbitrary text breaks. It's a beautiful day. Hot. Coming up on Zuma again. Tanned youth. Missed the beach traffic, that was good. It's about noon. Highway's clogged going the other way.
Lifeguard. There's something I could've worked into Testosterone. A Lifeguard variation. A positive, utopian fantasy, the film's dynamic homoeroticized. Not that it wasn't already, imagistically. Who could forget Sam Elliot's hairy dad chest in perpetual close proximity to Parker Stevenson's smooth boyish one. Hey, I know. I'm reading in. But that could've worked. In Testosterone, I mean. I'd be Sam. With my faithful, young, smooth, brown-skinned fellow lifeguard/slave Andy Garcia. Except actually Andy Garcia has a hairy chest and I don't. Oh well, that's the thing about drawing and computer art, as opposed to old-fashioned film. You can shuffle around all sort of attributes.
Anyway, I'm trying to digest this. What just happened with Brice. Mostly this new information. I mean, the bondage stuff. It doesn't surprise me. Not at all. Not now. In fact, I had this crazy theory at one point that after what happened with me, Pablo probably kissed off "romantic" sex forever, and went straight into S/M. That if I really wanted to find him, I should start hitting the leather bars. And the thing is, most of my hunches about Pablo, my worst gut suspicions, have turned out to be true.
Like the tearoom thing. I mean, it's funny. Pablo didn't present himself as some sort of virgin exactly, who could? In fact, the first night, he made some remark about being surprised he'd tested negative since "I'm such a whore." Which at the time seemed almost charming. Or something. Or I just didn't care. I guess that was it. Knowing he was negative, I didn't care what he'd done: it suddenly didn't matter. Who was I to judge anyone anyway?
But later he did create this impression of serial monogamy. Of having an aversion to scenes of mass sleaze. Like he told me he'd gone to that place, the Saint, in New York in his student days. Some vile disco/bathhouse that old New York sleaze queens are still wistful about, the three or four still alive anyway. But he made a point of saying, "Of course, I just danced. I didn't go upstairs." Right. I'll bet he had a dime in his purse, too, and was home by eleven. But at the time I believed him. Or did I?
One night we were going to get together and he called and canceled. Said he had to work on his paper. Fine. I went to a movie with Charlie. But afterward, I guiltily drove by the beach, the cruising beach where we'd met, to see if Pablo's car was there. I had no reason to be suspicious. That's why I felt guilty. I felt I was getting obsessed, getting paranoid. Well, his car wasn't there, but other cars were. And there were guys going into the tearoom. And I thought: What would I do if his car was there, if I walked into the tearoom and caught him? Then I thought: Oh, man, you're flipping out. You have a sick mind. He's not into that. Try and be a little trusting. If anyone's not into tearooms, it's Pablo.
Then, about two months after Pablo disappeared, I ran into Mark Spivey on the Venice boardwalk. This is a major scene, by the way. This was the true turning point.
I didn't really know Mark that well. I know him better now. That's where I'm headed, incidentally. Right now. I'm going to talk to Mark to see if he's heard anything.
So I knew Mark slightly. He'd been in Venice a long time, we had mutual friends. I'd been to a few of his shows. I like his work. And I'd realized that he was the "Mark" Pablo had gone with. The Mark who'd become "obsessed" with him, according to Pablo. The first time I put that together and said, "Oh, right. I know Mark," Pablo looked shaken. I know why now. He didn't want Mark and me comparing notes. He didn't want me talking to a previous victim. But at the time I thought he was just embarrassed, so I made a point of emphasizing that I didn't know Mark that well.
So Mark stops me on the boardwalk and at first it's just small talk. Then he says, "You know, I almost called you a while back. I heard you were going with Pablo Ortega."
I say, "Yeah, I was. But we broke up."
And Mark says, "Well, you know, I actually tracked down your number, but then I hesitated. I wasn't sure if I should interfere. If I should warn you or not."
I say, "Warn me about what?"
He says, "Well, Pablo is an emotional serial killer. He sets guys up, and as soon as they let their guard down, he eviscerates them." He says, "Are you okay?"
I say, "Yeah, I'm fine. We just broke up. It just didn't work out. It wasn't that messy though."
Mark says, "Well, you're lucky. You're very lucky. He ax-murdered me. I mean, it was crazy. Really like a serial killer. We went together for about three months. We were close, it was intense, that's the way I am. Together every night. We fucked every night. And I guess I don't have to tell you what the sex was like. Then one night he turned on me, in this totally unprovoked psycho way. Like a different personality or something. I'll never forget the look in his eyes. Like an animal honing in for the kill. That's what he did. Verbally. I can't even tell you what he said, it's too vile. Because I'd told him things, personal things, painful things from childhood. Things you should really only tell a therapist, I guess. But I trusted him. He'd told me similar things about himself. Assuming any of it, or anything he ever said, was true. But he was out to kill me that night, verbally. If words can kill, and I think they can. He said things about my body. Look, I know I'm a few pounds overweight. But it wasn't just that. He expressed such loathing, such revulsion and disgust. Which didn't equate with the way we'd had sex. I know I turned him on. Why would he fake it? He had no motive. So it didn't equate."
Mark went on in this calm tone of voice, which was kind of deceptive. I mean, later I wished I'd stopped him. I wished I'd said: Mark, I don't want to hear this, I can't handle this. But at the time I didn't realize what he was doing. That he was turning me into the instrument of his revenge. Of course, I couldn't react honestly, since I was already lying. Trying to act like nothing was wrong, like Pablo and I had had this mature, mutually-agreed-upon break-up. So I just stood there, listening. And another thing: Mark's not a queen. He has this easy-going blond boyish thing, kind of David Lynch crossed with Eric Fischl. So he didn't seem like some obviously bitter jilted queen launching a bitch attack. Even though I tried to tell myself later that's what had been going on.
He said, he kind of tossed off, "Of course, at first he stopped the tearooms."
And I thought: The what? The fucking what?
"At first," Mark said, "he was counting the days. He got up to twenty-three days, then he stopped mentioning it. So that's when I knew he was doing it again."
I said, "You think he was into tearooms?"
Mark said, "Look, he knew it was a problem for him. I'll give him credit for that. That's why he went to SCA [Sexual Compulsives Anonymous]. Look, I was in no position to judge him. God knows, I'm probably a sex addict myself-if I wanted to give myself that label. I mean, I have no doubt that's where I picked up you-know-what."
Well, by this point I'm shitting. I'm shitting right there on the boardwalk. He's telling me that Pablo is a tearoom queen. He's telling me that probably while I thought we were being monogamous Pablo was coming in with some other guy's spit on his crank, with God knows what in his mouth when I kissed him. If that's not fucked enough, Mark's also telling me he's got HIV, and I know beyond any doubt that Pablo must have at the very least chowed down innumerable times on Mark's crank. So of course I'm even wondering if Pablo was lying about his status. Or, charitably, if he might have snagged the virus from Mark, but it just hadn't shown up on the test yet. So I'm shitting. I'm standing there imploding.
Mark says at one point about Pablo's tearoom behavior, "He claimed he was mostly a voyeur." Of course, that makes me feel much better. As long as he was mostly a voyeur. Just sniffing around the urinals, eyeing other men's peters. Or taking in the view through the peep holes. Only very rarely actually wrapping his lips around a stranger's smegma-coated prod.
Mark tells me Pablo liked the action at UCLA. Mark had gone to art school there and one day he stopped by the campus with Pablo. "Before I could introduce him to several old friends, they were all going, 'Oh, yes. We know Pablo.' With knowing leers. Like every tearoom queen on campus has fooled around with Pablo. Imagine how I felt. I hate to admit this, but I thought we were in love."
I was very understanding. But stated again that it hadn't really been that bad for me. That I'd just realized at a certain point that Pablo and I had nothing in common, except the sex, which was admittedly pretty good, but obviously not enough to sustain a relationship. So it seemed best if we went our separate ways. I don't know if Mark really bought this or not.
As soon as I got to my car, I blew. Pounding the steering wheel, the whole bit. Look, I'm a hothead. I have a temper, that's no secret. But this time I got mad-and stayed mad. And this was something I'd never experienced before. This sustained level of rage. This thing of wanting to kill someone. Not just for a few minutes, but over a period of days and weeks. Because that's what I wanted to do. I lived on rage through the month of September, till it started to make me physically sick.
So that was the turning point, talking to Mark. Which in one way was good. At least I could stop blaming myself, scouring my brain to figure out what I'd done to make Pablo mad at me, to drive him away. But the down side was this. I didn't feel better knowing he'd done it before. I felt like a woman who'd gone out with Ted Bundy and thought he was a super guy. I felt like a chump. I hadn't done anything. It wasn't my fault. But the question remained: Why had he picked me? Was I putting out something I didn't know about? Was there a sign stuck on my back that said "Easy Prey"?
So that was the turning point. Up to then I'd been rational. I'd been confused, I'd been hurt, I'd been a lot of things, but not homicidal. I'd been where Brice is now, although I hate to admit it. But I had the same fantasies. That Pablo would miss me, that he'd call or just show up. I'd open the door, and he'd have tears in his eyes. "Dean, I'm so sorry. I just got scared, that's all." That kind of shit. I'd started seeing Twin Peaks Bob. I'd been trying to figure out what I'd done wrong.
Now, thanks to Mark, I just felt like a chump, the chump of the century, which is something I'm not into. Maybe some people get off on feeling like a chump, but I'm not one of them. I mean, part of it was the cheating, the idea that he'd been having these tearoom trysts behind my back. Because even though he was on leave, he'd still go out to Cal-Tech to do research, where he could take a "study break." And, of course, there were places much closer. I knew some of them. Look, I can't say I've never had tearoom sex, that I've never been sucked off through a glory hole. But I was never a total fiend about it, and I haven't gone to tearooms for a really long time, not since AIDS. And it was never my arena of choice, so to speak.
But the point is this: We were supposed to be monogamous. I mean, we'd discussed it, we had a formal agreement. Which is supposed to mean something, I think, even to two gay men. Right? I mean, I hate to bring up anything as old-fashioned as ethics or morals or fidelity in relation to two gay men, but I'll risk it. Especially now. I mean it's not just a question of a slight, charming peccadillo, we're talking about life and death. So I'm thinking that Pablo's probably killed me. That I probably got AIDS because my goddamn boyfriend was a secret fucking sleazy little scumbag beaner tearoom queen. Except, of course, I don't know for certain that I have it, since at this point I haven't taken the test yet. So I think about taking it and it pisses me off that I waited till now, since if I come up positive now, there'll be no way to know for certain that I got it from Pablo. Because if I could tell for certain that he gave it to me, I'd have nothing to lose, so I'd definitely kill him.
Of course, I'm ultimately still hoping that he's really negative despite whatever sleazy shit he's done. But I feel like my whole life is riding on whether he's in fact "mostly a voyeur" on his sojourns through the Ortonian netherworld of overflowing toilets and grim men with boners. So I still want to kill him.
I talk to Twin Peaks Bob about this. Which is strange, since he's straight. I mean, the whole thing, talking to him about what happened with Pablo, which is the whole reason I went to him in the first place. Jack had gone to see him once, and said he was cool, not homophobic. Which I guess was true. He had other gay patients. I saw a slim young queen in his waiting room once. But you know how it is with straight people. No matter how opened-minded they are, you have a feeling that at a certain point they're going to think: My God, if I have to hear any more of this fag shit I'm going to start screaming. Screaming in a masculine way, of course. A John Wayne scream. Bob did admit once that back in the sixties he'd had the "arrogance" to think he could cure homosexuals. Glad you got over that arrogance, Bob. Or learned how much more money you could make by listening to fags talk about their fucked-up relationships and pretending you think all that sick shit is normal. I mean, you always have this feeling he's going to say to his girlfriend, "Man, this one fruit patient I've got now...."
So why I did keep going to this guy? I don't know, except he wasn't all bad, despite the way I just trashed him. He made some interesting connections between Pablo and my father. ACA [Adult Children of Alcoholics] stuff, I guess, but I won't get into all that now. You know the line. Withholding father. So you keep seeking Dad's approval from similar withholding men. That's it right there basically. He could've said that the first session and saved me hundreds of dollars.
Except it wasn't cheap insight I was after. I needed to blow off steam. And Bob was good for that. I mean, I could talk about wanting to kill Pablo and he wouldn't get all weird and antsy the way some prissy gay shrink might. At least that's how I figured it. Not that all gay shrinks are prissy. But here's the problem with Bob. I think I might have gotten into trying to prove something. Like: Okay, I may be gay, but I'm as violent as any straight guy. Something like that. I ain't no nellie-bell, I wanna kill mah ex-boyfriend! Not that I didn't have those feelings all on my own, before I saw Bob. And I'm not sure how much he really cooled me out. Not that he said, "Do it," or anything. He usually tried to make light of it, or treat it as a joke. Like we'd got to the point where we could joke about it, humor as a sign of returning mental health. So I joked about it. But still wanted to do it.
That was the worst period, though. That whole period last fall. Because at that point all I knew about was Pablo's tearoom stuff, his sex addict stuff, the presumed infidelity, and that he'd eviscerated others before me. I knew there were others, even before Mark. Mark had mentioned that. But I didn't know any more yet. I didn't want to know. I knew why I was mad, it seemed understandable, but I was still at the point where I wanted to put it behind me. I didn't want this fucked-up affair to rule me for the rest of my life. Or make me scared to ever trust anyone again. I mean, I've seen that happen. Where people just give up. Jay is like that. I don't know the details. But someone broke his heart about, Jesus, ten years ago. And look at him now. I mean, I like Jay, which is the point. That's why I think it's a shame. He got fat, turned himself into this celibate slug who only lives in his mind, through his art. It's sad. He wasn't bad-looking, in the old days. But he's given up. He's two years younger than me, so I don't think age is a factor. Unless he has different standards or values than me. I mean, he threw in the towel, he surrendered to male spinsterhood, at the ripe old peaked-out age of twenty-six.
So I was trying to "process" all this. I hate that word, that's Charlie's word, and I'm not even sure if I believe in the whole concept of "processing" experiences. I think it may turn you into a bar of Velveeta. What I mean is I see people processing the same things again and again fo r years, for decades. So I wonder if that happened to me. Was I getting out of my anger at Pablo by talking about it? Or getting deeper into it? Was it becoming my new identity? The one who is angry at Pablo. The one who wants to kill Pablo. Pablo Killer, qu'est-ce que c'est? It's Talking Heads weekend. But I'm joking now. I'm trying to be witty and I'm not even sure why. I'm passing the Malibu Colony now.
So where was I? Oh right, it's last fall and I'm trying to get over Pablo. Release my rage. So I can move on. So the last thing I need is any new information, or evidence. So I really don't want to see Mark again. This is the period where I was blaming Mark. Feeling set-up to do his dirty work or something. Except I have to say this. These homicidal feelings I had, this wanting to kill Pablo, were just that: feelings. I mean, I wanted to, I fantasized. Not elaborately, not cold-bloodedly. But I'd think if I saw him I'd do this or that. Shove his face through a window, cut his jugular vein on the glass. Bash his head against the floor again and again till his skull cracked like Nicholas Cage did to that guy in Wild at Heart. Things like that. Big cathartic rage situations, like crimes of passion. But I wasn't looking for him at this point. I wasn't getting a weapon.
But here's why that was such a bad period. Because the more I stayed mad, the longer it went on, the more it seemed like there was something wrong with me. So in spite of what he'd done, I began to think: I should be over this by now. It's been five, then six months. I should be over this. Any sane, normal person would be over this by now. Movie stars get divorced and remarry six weeks later. What's wrong with me? Why I am still thinking about this piece-of-shit scumbag beaner?
This was before I fully realized just how he'd set me up. I was naive about certain things, I bought into certain cultural myths, especially that Fatal Attraction version of obsession. I mean, I've been on the receiving end of that. You know, the thing that happened with Ray, years ago. Back then I thought of Play Misty For Me. I was Clint and he was Jessica. You know that story. It got pretty crazy, like the night he lay down in front of my car. But it blew over. We're friendly now.
But I didn't really identify with the other side of that equation. I mean, I had problems with that movie, with Fatal Attraction, on a metaphoric level. Seeing Glenn Close as libido or something, in opposition to the insipid nuclear family. I mean, it's a very reactionary film, the same way fifties sci-fi and horror films were. The big thing about the threatened family.
But in terms of the main dynamic, I identified with Michael Douglas. Thinking of Ray, no doubt, at that point. Thinking how Ray had been like what's-her-name, Alex. Although Ray never boiled my bunny. Or poured acid on my car, he just lay down in front of it. But the point is this: I've had some strange relationships, and they haven't all ended on polite, cordial notes. But I don't have some big history of getting all obsessed with people in a big psycho way, like Glenn Close. So when Twin Peaks Bob mentioned that film, when he made that allusion, it kind of stopped me in my tracks. Because of course I realized that's what was going on. Somehow, when I wasn't looking, I'd become Glenn Close.
Which to be blunt I found very mortifying, which is not something I'm into. I'm sure some people are, in a city the size of Los Angeles. They probably run ads: "Into heavy mortification." But I would never run that ad, because that's not me. So I was glad I was keeping my mouth shut. With my friends, I mean. Except Charlie. He was the one person, besides Twin Peaks Bob, I really talked to. But even with Charlie I put up a certain front. He was glad I was seeing a therapist, he'd strongly recommended it, so I acted like I was getting all better.
But I felt like Glenn Close. Which was scary and awful. And it didn't really help much, it didn't give me much relief, when I began to see that was what Pablo wanted. He'd positioned me to feel like Glenn Close. He wanted me to feel like some obsessed psycho. That was the game he'd been playing all along. My big mistake was this: I didn't see it as a game. I wasn't playing a game. I was trying to be honest and open.
But I thought about all this-

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2005

    GREAT READING

    This book is recommended for everyone to read, no matter what your age, sex, nationality or sexual preference is. It's a harrowing story about a man who in trying to locate his 'missing' lover continually finds things out about himself and his personality. This is a real page-turner that you will not want to put down. Great reading for the summer months or if you go on vacation. It will make you think that not everyone in that resort you're in isn't there just to have a good time and relax.

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