Sunday, September 17, 2006

Looking for Clues

Well, it wasn't too hard to kick Brad and Ray out of Scot's apartment. They weren't paying rent! Why Scott didn't kick them out earlier, I'll never know. But Brad was such a smooth talker, and always the life of the party, so his charms could be pretty hard to resist. Brad and Ray moved into Patrick's place off Irving, by the cemetery. Patrick, tall and beautiful, with long curly blonde hair, was studying at the Art Institute, and had moved in temporarily with Steve after Jody and I left. Steve brought him over one day to introduce us, a few months earlier. Patrick was gay and new to the city, and Steve wanted us to take him under our wings, thinking we would hit it off. We all fell instantly in love with him and his sweet, genuine personality, but he didn't seem like someone who needed any help; he with his worldly air and his fresh-off-the-Milan-runway look. We introduced him to all our friends, and told him the cool clubs to go to. He and John seemed to especially hit it off.
You remember John, right? He was the 'skirt guy' from Berlin, who we had finally met and became friends with. Brad wormed John's secret out of him one day, something we all wondered about, by asking him why he always had money, but was never seen going to work. He came home and told us the shocking news.
"You'll never guess who is an 'escort'!" He said. He opened up a gay weekly, and pointed to an ad.
"Does this phone number look familiar? Brian, get your phone book out, and look up John."
"Oh my God!" We gasped, when we saw the numbers match up.
"This is a BIG secret. You can't tell anyone!" Brad said.
I was in a quandary. Do I tell Patrick or not? Would I want someone to tell me if the guy I was dating was an escort? (Yes!) I decided that John would probably tell Patrick himself. Mainly because John, it seemed to me, wasn't ashamed of his 'job'. Brad told John I knew his secret, one day while we were hanging out at John's place, and had a long talk about it. He said it started out with one guy asking if he would have sex with him for a hundred bucks, and this guy had some lonely friends with deep pockets.
"It's easy, and I make a lot of money doing it, so why should I stop?" He said.
And John worshipped Breakfast at Tiffany's, and adopted many of Holly Golightly's habits for his own: He put a mirror and lipstick in his mail box, but not cologne, cause the mailman always took it; his apartment was sparsely furnished, he had a cat named 'Cat', and often talked about landing a 'rich husband'. Another reason I didn't tell Patrick about John was because I had faith Patrick would 'have some questions' about John's mysterious lifestyle.

Soon after Jody and I moved back into our old apartment, Karen came over with an invitation for me.
"A friend of mine is an understudy for Cats, and some rich fan is throwing a party for the cast at his apartment, and I want you to come with me and Greg."
I really had no interest in Cats, mainly because Kip, our horrible ex-roommate, was such an avid fan, and had tons of Cats crap cluttering up our place, and liked to brag about being there on Broadway opening night, and liking the show before everyone else did. But I was very interested in going to such a glamorous event. I decided to go for an understated look for the party, as opposed to a super-punk one, and wore the black and white herringbone pants I made, a black turtle-neck with a vintage blazer, a few well placed brooches, and two dozen noisy bangles.
We drove over to Fullerton and Clark, on a cold and rainy November night, parked by the grocery store where Tower Records is now, and walked to the party on Lake Shore Drive.
It was an old apartment building, built around 1900 or so, and the lobby was rehabbed and modern, but the host's ('Jim') apartment had definitely seen better days. His mother moved in around 1930, and decorated it in the style of the time, and decided that was gonna hold them over for the next fifty years. Faded linoleum, chipped paint, creaky wood floors, and the musty smell of old rugs and curtains surrounded the priceless artwork and 18th century antiques in their large, dark, labyrnthine apartment. Despite it's tony address, this place was only a few notches better than the hovel I lived in.
We were the first to arrive, and were greeted by a manservant, who told us to help ourselves to what ever we wanted. We asked for a tour, and about a half hour later, the host came out of some hiding place to give us one. 'Jim' was an quiet, older man, about 60, with a youthfulness that betrayed his pathos. This looks like a guy with a lot of secrets, I thought to myself.
He walked up to us and looked me up and down like I was going to rob him or something, and asked if we were in Cats.
"No, we're just friends of friends", I said with a smile.
"Then, why are you here?" He asked.
"Umm, we're friends of someone in the cast? Here's the invitation." We said, feeling less sure of ourselves.
"Oh. I see." He said.
Karen and Greg, with their model good looks and dancer's bodies, escaped his scrutiny.
He told us most of the house was off limits, cause his mother was old and ill and still living there, and walked us through the sitting rooms, dining room and kitchen, pointing out a few antiques as we walked. He quickly disappeared when the doorbell started ringing.
I, of course, imagined his mother as a 'Mrs. Havisham', languishing in a wedding gown and an oxygen mask, and I desperately wanted a peek, but the manservant was flying all over that party, and would pop up in weird places, as if the apartment was riddled with secret passages, so I decided not to risk it.
Karen had warned me most of the cast hadn't decided if they were going to show up or not. About half of them did, and huddled in a clump in the corner, ignoring everyone. I guess 'Jim' hosted parties like this before, for the actors in the productions he liked, and had a bit of a reputation for being a little odd. He was living up to that reputation so far...
It was a sign of a hit show back then; getting one of his parties.
Karen, Greg and I busied ourselves by studying the wonderful artwork, and grabbing the manservant whenever we could, to fill us in on some piece of furniture that caught our eye. The host and the manservant were obviously sleeping together. We had hushed conversations as to what was going on with them, the run-down apartment, and if there really was a sick old woman locked away in a bedroom.
Our surroundings were much more interesting to us than the actors were, until they started playing the piano and singing some songs. 'Jim' had a huge helium tank in the living room, and, oddly, not a balloon in sight. The cast took turns inhaling the helium, and singing Kate Bush songs. That was pretty funny, so we decided to stay a little longer. But the actors quickly grew bored, and left after an hour, and us as well.

A few days later, a sobbing Patrick rings my bell, wanting to talk to me. Oh shit, I think to myself. It turns out John hadn't told him anything, he wasn't curious about John's lack of a job, and Brad had said to him: "I think it's great that you are dating John, and you don't mind he's an escort." Needless to say, he did mind, and was furious at me for not telling him, when I knew all along. I told him I thought John's 'secret' wasn't so secret, and that he and everyone else had known it. Many drinks and many tears later, he forgave me, and went home.
I was already nervous about John and Brad's frienship, cause John's soul spoke to mine the moment we met, and said STAY AWAY, so I got more worried when I heard how badly John was taking his and Patrick's horrible break-up. I was also nervous because Brad has large lazy and self-destructive streaks, and I didn't want him to go John's route. John medicated his pain with acid back then , and he and Brad spent weeks terrorizing the North Side, and me at the salon, while tripping their brains out, and doing God knows what else. I was secretly jealous of them at how they could throw themselves with such a committed, unabashed abandon into their drugged-out escapism, and often contemplated joining them, but I knew if I threw myself into that life like they did, there would be no turning back, and it would get very ugly.

A couple years later, Greg read a story in the paper, and called to tell me the manservant from the party bludgeoned 'Jim' to death, and went to prison. I never found out what had pushed him over the edge, and made him murder 'Jim' like that, but I have a feeling the fight may have been about him not wanting to move out...


David said...

John? Brad? Ringo? I'm confused already. We had the guy who played the fat old cat come to Paradise all of the time and he was treated like royalty. A really hot latin chhubby chaser dated him for a while. He was a coke whore and the fat cat had lot of it apparently.

Anonymous said...

I want to know more about The Murderous Manservant and Jim. How Sunset Blvdey!

Sarah, who hates "Hairspray"