He wasn’t at all what I was expecting, so I started off behind the eight ball and ended up in heaven. That might have had something to do with what came later, when he uncorked and I gave him a little help. I was standing in the crowd at LAX, wearing my limousine livery, which I’d grown past feeling self-conscious in, and holding up my arrivals sign. The patches on the sleeves identified me as being with the film studio and that still had cachet in this town. I could always pretend it was a costume for a movie if I was feeling too servile. Luckily, I was built, with good hair and good teeth. So, I was wearing the livery well. The looks I was getting indicated I was looking just fine. Unfortunately, there weren’t many lookers of the right gender and age walking around LAX arrivals.
I was looking out over the crowd when I heard the voice.
“I think that’s me. Are you looking for Ethan Williams? I’m Ethan Williams.”
I brought my eye level down and saw him, pointing at the sign I was holding that had “Ethan Williams” written on it. I recognized him almost immediately. And, surprise, surprise, he was the right gender and age. This was going to be challenging. Behave yourself, I told myself.
I hadn’t connected the name I had been given and that was printed on the sign I had been holding up with a face I’d seen on the TV screen. You don’t get told names of people you’ve seen in a couple of TV commercials, and I’d seen this face before in TV commercials, which made sense of me being in the airport as his driver. He was just a kid, maybe fourteen. Did I mention being the right gender and age? But, with my interest in fourteen-year-old boys, maybe that was wishful thinking on my part. He did look like he was fourteen—and I had my experience, much to my peril, with boys that age. Luckily, this was LA and not Snob Hill in Boston.
“Oh, sorry. They just gave me a name,” I said, embarrassed. “They didn’t give me an ... an...”
“Age,” he said. “They didn’t tell you I would be a kid.”
“No, they didn’t.” A quick change of topic was in order if I didn’t want to get myself into trouble. “Your flight is late. And they’d originally told me you’d be here yesterday. Come, let’s go to baggage claim and pick up your bag. You have a bag, don’t you?”
I was off balance. Not only had I failed to see him, but he was a gorgeous boy—blond and blue eyed and with a great body for a fourteen-year-old—or I was taking him to be fourteen. A great body for a fourteen-year-old as far as I was concerned was short, but well-proportioned, with a trim torso and really, really narrow hips. That’s what I wanted him to be—fourteen. And the narrow hips part was of utmost importance. It was my special fetish—the image of splitting the difference with ... well, this wasn’t the place to start going into that.
He was standing there, in place, speaking adult to me from a boy’s body, as people parted the way to flow around us toward the baggage area. I hoped my fantasizing hadn’t caused me to miss any important information. I placed my hand on the small of his back to start guiding him in the direction we needed to walk, which was a thrill in itself. I wanted to arrange it so that I walked behind him far enough to check out his pert little buttocks on the move.
“Yesterday’s plane only made it as far as Denver,” Ethan was saying. “They took all of that kind of airplane—a Boeing 737, I think—out of the air, which left a shortage of planes. I had to stay there overnight. Then today’s plane was late taking off.”
I looked around before I started guiding him to baggage claim. “Is someone with you? You aren’t traveling alone, are you?”
“Yes. All alone. Neither of my parents could pull away from their jobs in New York. I’ve been working for five years. They’re used to me going to my auditions and shoots by myself.”
“For five years. Then you must be at least—”
“I’m fourteen,” he said. “I’ve mostly done commercials and some stage work. This is my first chance at film work out here in Hollywood.”
Fourteen. Bingo. I must remember not to salivate, I thought. And alone, moving with such confidence. And you know what they say about success in getting roles and the casting couch. It could be ... but again, I mustn’t make assumptions.
“Well, you’ve come almost too late for your appointment at the studio,” I said. “We’ll have to push the speed limit, and I think we’d better go straight to the studio. I can take you to your hotel to check in after your audition.” And, if you want, console you there if you don’t get the part, I was thinking. Once again, though, I knew I must not let my fantasies get away from me.
“Thanks ... Diego,” he said, leaning forward to look at my nametag.
“Yes. Diego Martinez, at your service,” I answered. “Baggage claim is this way.”
“What sort of name is Diego? And where did you get such a great tan?”
“The name’s Mexican,” I answered. “Hope that doesn’t turn you off.”
“Nope. It looks great on you.”
“And everyone out here has a tan, but Mexicans are often a little darker than others.”
“Great. Lead on Diego Martinez,” he said, giving me a sunny smile. God, he was gorgeous. Try to remember your place, I told myself, as I palmed his lower back to guide him in the right direction. He looked up at me and smiled, making no effort to pull away from the hand.
“How old are you, Diego?” he asked.
“Twenty-four, sir,” I answered, the “sir” coming out by habit from how I related to most of the movie people the studio had me driving around.
“And are you a movie star, Diego?” he asked, the smile staying in place.
“No, sir, I’m just driving for the studio.” But then, I was doing that hoping to be discovered, yes. And I’d been in the background of a couple of movies because I was around and heard about the cattle calls for extras—I’d been beach candy for some sand movies, as we called them—playing volleyball shirtless or beach running or weight lifting or something in the background. I had been determined to be good California background stud material. Of course I’d only made enough off the movie extra work to pay for the gym that helped me to maintain the physique that attracted the movie extra work, so, as long as I was on that gerbil wheel, I chauffeured for the stars and whoever else the studio wanted driven around LA.
“You should be in movies,” he answered as we hightailed it to baggage claim.
Was that some sort of signaling, I wondered. Here in LA it could be that. Could he be advertising at fourteen? That wouldn’t surprise me—the casting couch effect and all. Everyone out here on the West Coast was on the make, regardless of age—sexually as well as with career ambition. And there was a lot of male-male action. Truth be known, that was what had brought me here—that more than the possibility of getting into the movies. Well as much that as the possibility of getting into movies.
He wanted to sit up front in the limousine with me, and I appreciated the gesture, but I had to say, “Sorry, no can do it that way. Our rules are strict in driving the talent, and I would be reported at the studio gates if we did it that way. Just sit back and take in the sights.” At the same time I didn’t want to put him off if he was signaling interest. I didn’t want him to be lonely if he didn’t want to be.
“You don’t have to sit all the way in the back, if you don’t want to, though. We can talk; this isn’t against the rules as long as I pay attention to the driving. I can tell you a little bit about the town as we drive, if you want. I don’t have to close the window. You ever been to LA before?”
“No, I haven’t. I’ve lived on the East Coast all my life,” he said, as I loaded his bag in the trunk of the Caddie.
“I’ll see if I can work us over to Vine and then up to Hollywood Boulevard, and you will have gotten into the atmosphere of the place. We’re late, but that’s faster than taking the direct route.”
When we loaded up, bless him, he didn’t, as I had said he didn’t have to do, go all the way to the back. He sat up near the front seat in a seat facing the rear and I didn’t close the glass panels. As I drove, I pointed out the landmarks, and we each included little explorations of each other’s lives, and, more important, each other’s preferences and experience. We danced around the gay question, but close enough to it for both of us to understand what team we each were on. I never lost the thought that he might be interested. He said he’d never met a Hispanic guy before but that it didn’t put him off that I was—that is was more intriguing, as he put it.
“Are all of the Mexican guys like you hunky like you?”
Again the “maybe he’s signaling” thing. “Well, you’ll see a whole hell of a lot of them out here in California,” I said. “You can decide for yourself how good they look.”
“I think I’d like to get acquainted with them one by one—and to learn more about them,” he said, touching my shoulder from the seat behind me.
Now if that wasn’t a come-on line, I didn’t know what was. Either the kid was really naïve, or he was experienced, even at his young age—and a player. The casting couch effect? “Who are you supposed to see at the studio today?” I asked.
“A producer on a new TV show they’re putting together called, at least now, ‘On Point’—junior high school basketball teams. His name is, let me see...” He rummaged around in a back pack “ ... Scott Andrews.”
Oh, lord, I thought. Into the fire, speaking of casting couches. “Well, good luck with that,” I said. When he came out of that guy’s office, I’d probably know what the kid was interested in and what he’d do for it. I knew I was being jaded, but this was the land of “roll over and open your legs to get ahead.” I don’t know if it was the same way in New York City, but those were the playing rules out here. And Scott Andrews. Well, shit.
“That isn’t the only audition you’re on for, is it?” I asked. “They have you on the transportation roster for a couple of more days.”
“No, I’m auditioning for a sit com too—a comedy about a blended family. I’d really rather have that role, but I’m trying out for anything I can get while I’m out here.”
“Who do you audition with for that show?”
“Someone by the name of Buzz Clements,” he said, consulting the documents he had.
“He’s not so bad.” He’d fuck you in a moment too, I thought. But he isn’t as nasty about it as Andrews could get. Andrews used restraints and left marks.
“So, you’re driving me while I’m in Los Angeles?” the kid asked.
“As far as I know,” I answered. “Maybe and maybe not. I’m on duty tomorrow, but the transportation office hands out the assignments.” I’d love driving you into tomorrow, kid, was what I was thinking. But it wasn’t what I said. I’d sure like it if we got to a point where I could say that, though—drive you and drive you hard; split the difference between your slim hips and drive you hard.
He had a hand on my shoulder. Just the touchy-feely kind, or, again, was he signaling?
“And here we are, at the studio,” is what I actually said. “An hour later than your call time, but there wasn’t anything we could do about that. Someone will meet us at reception. Come back there after your audition is over and reception will track me down to take you to your hotel. If you don’t need me to take you to the hotel, I’ll take your bag there and they’ll have it at the desk when you check in.”
“Why wouldn’t I need you to drive me to the hotel?”
I didn’t want to tell him that if Andrews was seriously considering him for a part in a TV show, the boy probably was going to be dined, tied up, and fucked by Andrews as a condition for getting the part and that Andrews would drop him off at the hotel later—in well-used condition.
“These auditions can be complicated,” I answered. “You may not get out until late.” It was the best I could do in the way of an exclamation. If he was going to work out here, he was going to have to learn the rhythms of life out here—on his own.
Everything worked fine on check in—for a few minutes. Then it fell apart. I hadn’t made it into the drivers’ lounge until I saw Scott Andrews coming out of the elevator and his driver coming out of the lounge. Ethan Williams had been taken up in the elevators less than ten minutes before. Andrews had two kids with him, who I recognized as Joshua Rigglesman, a studio child actor, who’d appeared in a few sit coms already, and Jimmy Pop, a breakout girl’s heartthrob singer who was trying to branch out in the entertainment industry. Both boys were clinging to Andrews’s arm as they bustled out of the building and into a limo. I knew from scuttlebutt around the studio—and because I was in the market for fourteen-year-old boys myself—that both boys gave head and took cock to gain advantage. It seemed quite evident that the auditioning for the TV show had been narrowed to two candidates who were going to continue auditioning in Andrews’s bed.
A few minutes later, a dejected Ethan came down in the elevator. He looked down in the mouth. Obviously, I was up for another drive and no break.
“That didn’t take long,” I said as Ethan approached me.
“No audition. I was too late. They told me the producer had filled the role. Can they do that—bring me all the way out here and, because of bad plane connections, not even audition me? They’re the ones who provided the plane tickets.”
I didn’t think Andrews had totally made up his mind yet who was going to get the role, but I couldn’t disagree that it wasn’t going to be Ethan. I reached out and touched his arm. He didn’t shirk away. “Yeah, they have all the say in who gets cast. You have another crack at it tomorrow, though. You’re probably lucky in not being auditioned by Andrews.”
“Why?” Ethan asked, his face looking at his shoe tops.
“There’s a story on him. He’s really demanding of the boys he casts—boys your age, if you know what I mean.”
“That’s nothing new to me,” Ethan said.
So, maybe he knew what I meant. “Do you know what I meant, Ethan?”
“Yeah, I do. I don’t think anything’s different in Los Angeles than in New York in that way.”
“And you were prepared to... ?”
“I do what I have to do,” Ethan said, defiantly, looking up at me. There were tears in his eyes but a challenging look on his face.
So that was that. Maybe I could push it, though. “And you only do it when you have to to get ahead?”
“I do it when I want to do it,” he answered, still defiant, still looking at me directly.
Eureka ... maybe. I looked down again at those narrow, narrow hips.
“Do you want me to drive you right to the hotel and let you off?” I asked, rubbing his arm a bit with my hand. “Or would you like to see some of the area first? We could get some beer and sandwiches or something and go someplace where we could look out over the city.”
“I heard you can drive up to the Hollywood sign,” Ethan said.
“Sure, I can take you up there.”
“But I’m just fourteen. I don’t know about the beer.”
“Do you drink beer at home, Ethan?”
“It seems that you don’t feel restricted about a lot of things. I’ll stop and get some beer.”
“That’s fine with me,” Ethan answered.
“Is that all that’s fine with you, Ethan?” Boy, I was really fishing this hard, but my body was sending out signals that I really, really wanted a piece of this boy and he wasn’t sending out signals to the contrary.
“No, it’s not,” he answered, with that level stare at me.