I'm so glad that Justin volunteered to pick up Thomas from the airport, because I'm still a little hung over. It's never been this bad - I drink, get drunk, go to sleep, and wake up with the worst headache. I had to find out the hard way that Cristal and Bacardi is a powerful combination. If it weren't for Lance, I'd probably still be stranded out at Joey's place.
"So, are you glad that Thomas is in town?"
"Yes I am," I reply to Lance's query. "I haven't seen my baby in two weeks, and I can't wait to wrap my arms around him."
"Yeah. We'll have to do something together while he's in town."
"Most definitely. You haven't got to spend as much time with Thomas as Justin or me. You need to get even more acquainted with your client."
"I know. But, as much as you talk about him, I almost feel like I've grown up with him."
Lance suddenly gets quiet.
"Lance, what's up?"
"Well, I was just curious about something."
"Well, I umm... I wanted to know..."
"Stop being shy, Lansten."
"Well... how is it with Thomas?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean... being that he's black..."
Hmmmm. Since we've been together, I haven't thought about race much. I can see with my eyes that he's black, but it hasn't been a real issue. I hope that it isn't an issue for Lance. I don't think Lance is prejudiced, but I don't know what he's been exposed to over in Mississippi.
"Lance, do you have a problem with me and Thomas?"
"Yes I do. Well, I just hope that you're not rushing things, you know? You guys only known each other for a month."
And, he's black -- but Lance isn't saying that.
about the fact that he's black?"
As I think back on this conversation, I think that I've been misunderstood. I don't have a problem with JC dating Thomas because he's black. I have a problem with JC dating Thomas because he's not ME!!! I know that the guys sometimes make jokes about Mississippi being backwards, but I don't hold a lot of those backwards attitudes that are associated with my home state.
I will admit that I haven't had much exposure to people of color growing up, but I never thought of black people or anyone else as less than me. I mean, I would hear an ignorant comment here and there, but my parents raised me to respect everyone, regardless of color.
"JC, I don't have a problem with his race. It's just that I don't want this to end up badly. You're my bandmate, and he's my newest client. If this doesn't work out, it could get really tense for me."
"After all, do you think I'd manage someone that I didn't like?" It's true; I do like him, despite his relationship with JC.
"I'm sorry, man. It's just that I didn't know where you were coming from, you know?"
I want to be pissed off at his presumption, but I can't get mad at him.
* * *
and I are walking to the front door of his house, we see Justin's Porsche
pull into the driveway. He speeds up the door and honk. Justin
is grinning his infamous "Timberlake smile," while Thomas is bracing himself
for the complete stop that Justin makes.
JC unlocks the door and runs to the car.
Thomas and Justin both get out.
Thomas shouts as they collide into each other. I turn away -- I can
feel tears forming in my eyes as they hug.
Thomas and JC walk up to the door arm-in-arm as Justin follows with Thomas's stuff.
"Lance, what's up, man?" Thomas says as he leaves JC's side to give me a bear hug.
After he releases me, and I catch my breath, I managed to say, "I'm glad to see you, but I think you're happier to see me."
and I had to laugh at his laughter. Thomas has one of the most animated
laughs I've ever heard. It's almost like Michael Jackson's "hee-hee"
laugh he does on his older songs.
Thomas throws his arm around me as we walk inside. Justin sat the suitcase and leather bag by the door as JC walked toward the kitchen.
"Does anyone want anything to drink?"
"How about some CranGrape?" Justin says.
head to the kitchen. Justin's juice is sitting on the counter.
We see JC popping some ibuprofen and chasing it with a glass of water.
is too good. I have to fuck with him.
JC looks hung over. His hair is a total mess -- he looks like he threw a mop on his head. His clothes are slept in. And, his skin reeks of alcohol. He really must've done it up last night.
"So... Justin tells me that you got your drunk on last night."
"Yeah, man. We were listening to Jagged Edge last night. Then Joey suggests that we try what they did in the song -- mix Cristal and Bacardi. So, we mixed this Cris and the Bacardi, and learned that it was a ruthless combination."
"Oh shit." Sean, Dontae, and I had to try it for ourselves also. I was hung over for about three days, and almost missed my recording session with Ludacris. That shit ain't no joke.
"Yeah. So I'm kinda in bad shape."
"Not as bad as Joey though. He threw up ½ the morning," Lance said.
I look over at Lance. His clothes are slept in, but he doesn't look nearly as bad as JC.
"Lance, weren't you drinking, too?"
"Oh, I only drank beer last night. I was drunk, but I don't have a hangover."
"What about AJ and Howie?"
"AJ was fine -- he stayed with the orange juice all night. But, Howie, Britney, Chris, Joey, and our friend over there," he said as he pointed to JC, "wanted to experiment -- and they're all hurting now."
AJ and Howie? "Who's AJ and Howie?"
"AJ and Howie are two of the guys that you're working with next week," Lance replied.
"How did you know I was working with...?"
"I'm your manager, remember? I know all your moves for the next six months. I even know things about you're schedule that you don't know yet."
"You're working with Backstreet?" JC said.
"Yeah. When I sent my music demo to Jive..."
"...They sent copies to us, Backstreet, and a couple other artists," Justin finished.
"But, I didn't know that you and Backstreet hung out."
"Yeah," said Lance. " We're not as bad as the media hype. Most of us get along well. The only two who seems a bit distant are Kevin and Brian. But, it's probably because they're married and very religious."
"And, I know that Kevin's uneasy around me," JC added.
I can assume why; I just hope it doesn't pose a problem between Kevin and myself. But, this reminds me -- doesn't Lance have something to tell me?
"Lance," I said, "don't you have something to tell me?
Lance stares at me blankly.
"Lance, you do have something to tell him. Now, tell him," Justin demands.
"I'll tell him later."
"You should tell him now, especially since he already knows."
Lance's eyes get wide as saucers. He looks toward me for confirmation; I nod.
"Don't get mad," I said. "You should know that I don't mind. After all, we're kinda like family."
"Shit, Justin," JC said. "You sure do have a big mouth."
"Josh, please don't say anything," I said. I am a little irritated that he didn't tell me, especially since we go together and he was the first one to know."
"I think I'm heading on out, Lance said, as he shot out of the kitchen.
I get up from my stool and follow him.
sooooo embarrassed. I can't believe Justin outed me like that.
I know that he and Thomas are fast friends, but he could've waited for
me to tell Thomas for myself, if I ever decided to tell him.
Well, I probably would've told him eventually. But, now he knows -- how will this affect our working and personal relationship?
Thomas catches me at JC's front door.
"Lance, don't leave."
"I have to go think."
"Don't be mad or embarrassed or sad about this. I don't care."
I turn around to face Thomas. "You don't care about having a gay manager?"
"You're gay? I thought Justin was talking about your new pool?"
SHIT. I feel the blood leave my face.
"I'm kidding, Lance -- don't freak on me. I'm cool with it. I mean, we have to stick together. And, I think you've forgotten about my status."
Thomas had me scared shitless.
"Plus," Thomas starts, "I have someone else to talk to about hot guys."
Thomas sits down on the bench in JC's foyer. "Yeah, like... Tom Cruise."
I join him. "Yeah, he is good-looking. But, I met him once -- he's an asshole."
"Well, not in my fantasies. The only asshole there is the one I'm stuffing."
laugh out loud. Thomas is a NUT.
Justin and JC walk out into the foyer. They stare at us and start grinning.
"So, is everything cool," JC asks.
all good," Thomas and I say in unison, as we rise and give each other Alaska-sized
To Be Continued...
notes: I was going to add more, but I decided to end Part 9 on
a mushy note.
I'd also like to send a shout-out to "email@example.com," "firstname.lastname@example.org," "email@example.com,"and "firstname.lastname@example.org". I appreciate your comments, and whether you know it or not, you've motivated me to continue with this tale.
And, I also wanted to recommend some stories that I like -- Alone/Together (by D S), Lance's Story (by Jim Higgins), My New Life (by Midwest James), The Love That We Have (Dannii Ree), and Lance's Search (by BJ Gay.com_Member). I will recommend others as I read them.