I was surprised to see Frank Zimmerman at Mario's memorial service - not because there was anything surprising in a old-time powerful movie mogul appearing in Hollywood at services for a major motion picture producer, but because Zimmerman was as old as the Cascades and had been a recluse for a couple of decades. I would have been less surprised to hear that he had predeceased Mario by several years. And then I was more surprised when he stopped beside me on his way to being wheeled to his limousine and asked me if I would go for a drink with him, and, having been told I was actually on my way straight to the airport to fly back to New York, volunteered to give me a lift to LAX.
'It was good to see you at Mario's service,' Zimmerman said when we were nestled in the backseat of his limo and on our way to the airport.
'I almost didn't come,' I said. 'But then I thought 'what the hell.''
'It must have been painful to have to stay in the background as you did,' Zimmerman said. 'You were so much a part of Mario's life.'
So, he knew, I thought. It seemed like half of the movie industry knew that Mario and I had been lovers for fifteen years. But that was some time ago.
'His family,' I said tersely. And I would normally have left it like that, but Zimmerman seemed to want more and I hadn't figured out why he was paying this special attention to me - the offer of a social meeting from such a lofty recluse and the ride to the airport. So I finished it off. 'Family had become very important to Mario. That's what ended us and sent me to New York.'
'But you ended it amicably and Mario was instrumental in establishing your career, wasn't he?' Zimmerman said. He didn't say it accusingly, though, and there was a sparkle in his eye when he said it.
'Yes, yes, he did,' I admitted.
And that was the basic truth. I probably would not have become a major Broadway producer without Mario DiLane in my life. I'd been just another hunky small-town wonder seeking fame in Hollywood when Mario picked me out of an audition dance line for an eminently forgettable musical he was filming in the years where the big band musicals were the bread and butter of the movie industry. I didn't get cast, but I did get fucked on the casting couch and then got so much more.
I was young and naïve and blond and the typical Midwest small town hunk whose head had been turned by constant comments that 'you should be in films.' I was so narcissistic and taken with myself in those days that I hadn't come in tune with my sexuality at all - my eyes were turned to the floodlights, and it was only later, thinking back on it, that I realized I had blithely passed by hundreds of offers and passes by male and female alike. They seemed to think I was holding myself aloof, which they found all the more alluring, when, in fact, I just was oblivious to the possibilities.
I didn't wake up until Mario had me in his studio lot trailer, bright eyed at having been singled out of the dance line and invited for a private interview, and stripped down in what I thought was a normal part of the process to determine my suitability for a role in his film. Before I knew it, I was on my back on his studio couch, and he was sucking my cock to my quick, nervous ejaculation and then covered my body with his nakedness and rocked me, his hard cock rubbing up and down on my belly, while he put his lips to my ears and whispered how nice I was. All of this I was interpreting as my opening to being cast in his movie, and I wanted it so badly, that I gave no objections when he forced my thighs apart and started fingering my ass.
He had his dick inside my rim before he realized, from my reaction, that I was a virgin. After that he took it slowly and was gentle with me. But he fucked me nonetheless. I hardly remember the pain of the first breaching. What I remember is how he worshipped my body as he stripped my innocence away. Upon learning I was a virgin, he had pulled away from his half sheathing inside me and told me that my first time would be all the better for what he was going to do - that he trusted that I was clean and was declaring that he was, and that he wanted what we were doing to be based on trust.
Then he stripped the condom off his cock and reentered me and fucked me bareback. The difference was incredible. It was skin on skin now, the foreskin of his uncircumcised cock rippling across my innocent, undulating ass channel walls. I fell apart, and my hips started a rolling gyration and I was sobbing and moaning and groaning. And Mario lost control too and plunged to the depths and start pumping me in long, strong strokes.
He fucked me for hours, resting between assaults and cuddling me and rocking me back and forth until he hardened again and then whispering that he was sorry but he couldn't help himself, he'd turn me to a new position and fuck me again. When we both were totally exhausted, he kissed me and then whispered that he loved me and never wanted to let me go. And he didn't let me go for the next decade and a half.
I didn't get a role in his picture, but he made me one of his assistants and taught me the skills that enabled me, once he had molded me, to stand out in the profession.
'And he loved you, I'm sure you know that,' Zimmerman said in a low voice.
'I never questioned that,' I said. 'And I respect his choice.'
'Well, he wanted me to make sure you realized that.'
'You?' I said in surprise. Why would Mario have asked Zimmerman to do this.
Zimmerman smiled again. 'I meant it when I told you I knew how hard it was for you to stay in the shadows back there at the memorial service,' he said. 'And I know it was hard for you, because it was equally hard for me.'
'Yes. You see I loved Mario as well and as totally and for as long as he loved you.'
'You and Mario were lovers?' I was in shock. I never had suspected.
'Yes, what Mario did for you I had already done for him.'
Zimmerman had his hand on my knee, and his eyes were glazed over with tears. 'Could you do an old man a deep favor?'
I was silent, my head hanging, the revelation of Mario's earlier life blowing me away.
'Mario loved you and I loved Mario, and I need to feel close to Mario just now. Could you? . . . Would you? . . . let me make love to you just one time.'
I lifted my head, my shock deepening now. His mottled, wrinkled hand was nearly at my crotch.
'Oh, I don't mean fuck you,' he said and then he gave a dry laugh. 'I'm years beyond being able to do that now. But I still can suck.'
I didn't realize I had been holding my breath as I was. But I let it out in one long, ragged release, and I just nodded and lay back in the cushy limousine seat, as Frank Zimmerman unzipped my pants, gently extracted my cock, and gave me one of the most expert, slow, arousing, and satisfying blow jobs that I'd ever received.
The last thing Zimmerman said to me before I got out of his limo at the airport was, 'Don't let the cycle end.' I had no idea at the time what he meant by that.
I was still mellow and thinking of how good a lover Mario had been while I was sitting in the departure lounge of my LAX flight back to New York.
I think I sensed his presence before I saw him. I looked up and saw him gliding across the departure area and over to the window where he flipped open a cell phone and spoke to someone on it in hushed tones. I got the impression that the phone call hadn't ended well and had left him sad. He was achingly beautiful, and I immediately discerned in the erect way he carried himself and in the way that he seemed to glide across the room that he was a professional dancer. And from the slight swing in his hips as he moved, my impression was also that he was accessible.
It was probably because of what I'd just been through during my short visit to Los Angeles that focused me on the young man. He was slightly over six feet, giving the impression he was even taller than he was because of the majestic why he carried himself. He was a designer's delight. His light brown hair with blond highlights was trim, and his clothes screamed of good design when most of the other passengers around him were flying sloven. He was so slim that there probably wasn't an ounce of fat on him, and although he had all of the right curves in his apparent muscle tone, he was by no means overdeveloped or even developed to a commanding presence. His presence was commanding in other, sensual ways, though - although my own impression of that might have been formed because I'd very recently been fully satisfyingly sucked dry - but it was not in the sense of male domination - more a sense of what he could give.
His trousers were a trim gray-white cotton of perfect fit and he was wearing a gray and white horizontal strip designer T-shirt with a straight-line neckline. Even his loafers were slim and stylish. None of this was overstated; he was just the perfect clothes horse. His chin and lower cheeks were covered in a two-day stubbling that looked like it had been groomed just before he made his entrance in the departure lounge.
He didn't smile, and the aura about him spoke of a melancholy that set me to speculating what possibly could be wrong.
I lost track of him in the boarding process, but within a hour of being in the air, I couldn't control my mind, which had fixated on the young man, and I left my first-class seat and worked myself back into the coach section until I found him. He was sitting in a three-seat section all by himself, his legs pulled up on the seat beside him, which only a flexible dancer could do - and look as well as he did in doing it - and pull it off and his head set back into the seat back and his eyes closed. He looked as sad as he had in the departure lounge.
'I'm sorry if I'm intruding,' I said quietly so as not to disturb the passengers around him - and there were only a smattering of them on this day; the flight was miraculously underbooked. It was midweek, with no big crowd-gathering events apparently going on in either L.A. or New York. 'I couldn't help but recognize another dancer.'
He opened his eyes in surprise. They were a fetching hazel in color. But the whites of his eyes had a red tinge to them, as if he'd been privately crying.
'Yes, I'm a dancer,' he said. 'How could you tell?'
'It was in the way you carry yourself,' I said. 'I've been a dancer and worked with them for years. I think I can pick one out of the crowd without a doubt. Do you mind if I sit here for a few moments.'
'No. That's OK, I guess,' he said. But he said it more in a tone of politeness than a welcoming of the company.
'You seem sad,' I said after I sat down in the aisle seat. 'And I'm a little sad myself. I came out from New York just to attend the memorial service of an old, dear friend. I hope you haven't had the same experience. You are much too young to start losing dear friends.'
'It's a loss. But of a dream, not of a friend,' he answered.
'Oh, I'm sorry to hear that,' I responded. 'I won't pry further. I'll go on back to my seat now. I think I'm just relieved that it wasn't caused by losing someone who meant a great deal to you.'
'Oh, no, nothing like that,' he said, opening to me a bit now. 'I came out to Hollywood with hopes of a career out here, and it hasn't happened. I ran out of funds and now have to return to New York with my tail between my legs. I made the mistake of burning bridges when I came out here. Now I don't think I can even reclaim what I had in New York.'
It must of have been the recent sex, but my first reaction to his remark was that he had a very nice tail indeed - not too bulbous and certainly not flat; nicely proportioned with fetching hollows at the hips - and held high on his body. And I further thought that I had something I'd like to insert between his legs. I hadn't felt this sexually attracted to anyone in years.
I remained back there in coach for the remainder of the flight with no awkward pauses or silences - or further signals from the young man, whose name was Ben Brighton - that would prompt my leaving him. He slowly told me his whole life story and the shows he'd danced in in New York and all of the crappy temporary jobs he had taken in L.A. while waiting for his big break.
In turn, he asked me about my family, but strangely he didn't ask me what I did for a living or pursue the opening I'd given him of having been a dancer and working with dancers. And I didn't volunteer the information - or even my last name, because, if he had worked in the New York theater, he would recognize my name instantly. I think even then I knew there was a possibility of something happening between us, and I didn't want it to be on the basis of what I could do for him professionally. Another reason I thought something was building was that when he asked about family, I told him I was gay. I certainly didn't usually trot that out voluntarily on my first meeting with strangers, although I didn't bother to try to hide it either.
When we got to New York, our bags came down the chute in baggage claim almost simultaneously, and I impetuously asked him if he wanted a ride anywhere. I had a car waiting for me and I could see my driver standing by it in the taxi lane outside the terminal window.
'Yes, thanks, that would be nice,' he answ 'ered in a small voice.
'Where can I take you?' I asked.
'Anywhere you want,' was his quiet response.
I held him close to me in my bed, both of us naked, and him lying still. I was encircling his shoulders with one arm, him on his back and me stretched along his body on my side, one of my legs possessively covering one of his thighs, holding him down and close into me. I let my hand glide all over his beautiful, perfectly formed young body until I centered on his half-hard cock, and then I slowly stroked him to completion, as he sighed and undulated under my attentions, being held in close check by my encasing arm and leg.
Then I turned him on his belly and prepared his ass and straddled his hips and slow fucked him until his second ejaculation and my first. I told him I was clean and that he had the option and he said he was clean too and wanted to feel me, so I didn't use a condom. I wanted this to be a matter of trust and commitment from the very beginning. And the act of sex on his sweet body dredged up the memory of my first taking by Mario DiLane, and the joy of filling this young man with my hot semen was as satisfying to me as when Mario first did that for me - and I could tell by Ben's sighs and moans that it was fully satisfying for him as well.
* * * *
Such were my memories twelve years later as I lay in the hospital under a death threat that I dare not tell my lover of.
When Ben visited me, we discussed only the future and what he was doing as the head dance master for various Broadway musicals - a position he had attained with his talent, to be sure, but also through the mentoring I had given him over the dozen years of our life together. After he had told me that he wouldn't leave my bed after our first fucking unless I told him to do so, I let him know who I was and of the doors I could open if his talent was worthy. I told him he could live with me regardless, but that I would make a bald assessment of what he could do professionally and would help him attain his potential - but not push him beyond his potential. I had seen too many careers and lives collapse from overextension by some well-meaning mentor.
It turned out that there were no upward limits to his talent and creativity and that, after my initial help and mentoring, he soared on his own flight. I knew that his future in the entertainment industry would far surpass what I had accomplished, and I didn't begrudge him that. Because I loved him. I loved him with every inch of my being.
Perhaps he one day would realize just how much I had loved him, although I would not be the one who told him.
In this vein, he not only told me of what he was working on and the gossip around Broadway that we both thrived on, but he also told me of the new, young male dancer he had discovered and who he was helping getting established. He waxed enthusiastically about Peter Crofton for some moments before he seemed to realize what he was revealing to me and changed the subject.
But I already knew that he and Peter were lovers. I'd known he had turned to Peter for solace not long after my cancer had been revealed and I broke off our sexual intimacy because it was just too painful for me to endure.
I knew of all of this and of how Ben was taking Peter under his wing and mentoring him in the theater arts. I knew this because it hadn't been Ben who had discovered Peter and his talent - it had been me. Peter was my gift to Ben, my attempt to continue the cycle of love and commitment and mentoring that I myself had been part of and had benefited from. It was the greatest parting gift I knew of that I could give not only to Ben but also to my art. I had been part of a long chain of extraordinary entertainment talent arising and nourished from the satisfaction of the sexual release and commitment of successive elements of the cycle.
It didn't really matter to me if Ben realized it now. In time he would. And by then he would have already fulfilled his contribution to the cycle. And now I understood what Frank Zimmerman meant all those years ago when he told me to keep the cycle going.