By Chris James
Steve's Deal seemed to fly across the ocean with the stiff breeze blowing in off her starboard quarter. Dennis was stretched out on the forward deck, but even he had his fingers laced through the hand holds on the forward hatch.
Steve was pushing it, thrilled at the breakneck speed and the steep rake of his boat. Tim sat back calmly on the stern bench with Dale at his side, a little less calm and quite unsure if this young captain was going to flip the boat.
"Is he always this aggressive?" Dale asked.
"Only for the first hour, he'll calm down once he gets it out of his system," Tim replied.
"Ted was like that too, always full throttle."
"Then your son is a changed man, Dale...I'm sure you've noticed."
Dale had been relieved to see a man near his own age when they arrived at the marina. Ted had said it was Steve's boat and that they had sailed with him a few times already. He recognized the actor, the face was well known. But then Tim had explained his role with Steve as a bodyguard and mentor in the martial arts. Dale was all for adult supervision and Tim seemed like a responsible person.
And true to his statement Steve eventually eased off with a laugh and the boat took on an even keel as they headed south in a long curving arc towards Redondo Beach and a lunch date at Lou E. Luey's near the harbor marina. Tim had promised them some excellent Mexican food and by now Ted understood that the man knew every good restaurant in the valley.
Ted stood beside the wheel with Steve while the men sat only a few feet behind them. Dennis was probably asleep by now; the past week had worn him out. He was also glad that his father had taken an immediate liking to Tim, maybe it was the Ferrari.
"The first splash of publicity hits the papers tomorrow, you ready for that?" Ted asked.
"Looking forward to it," Steve said. "My name hasn't been in the news for so long I'm afraid my fans will think I joined a monastery. So you excited about this birthday?"
"I guess, but if you had asked me six months ago I would have said I couldn't wait. I have to put on a brave smile tomorrow. I know Dennis has gone out of his way to make this a big celebration." Then Ted laughed. "At least he didn't rent out the Hollywood Bowl."
"He wouldn't dare, not for something this special. Have you ever heard about the Blue Plate?"
"Completely unfamiliar, I don't even know where it is," Ted said.
"Beverly Hills. It's very homey, but one of the best restaurants in town. They have a great chef, Tim knows him," Steve said.
"Tim knows everyone, or haven't you noticed?"
"I like your father, a handsome man."
Ted nodded. "He is that, but I'm afraid he's been lonely since the divorce. I don't even know if he's looking for another relationship, but I intend to find out. "
Steve smiled. "You have the time..." And the navigation program beeped at Steve. "Time to change course."
They came about and were soon headed back towards shore. Ted managed to rouse Dennis before he turned red as a lobster.
"So any comments?" Dennis asked.
"Nothing about us," Ted replied.
They had been concerned that Ted's father would question the sleeping arrangements in the condo when he was shown the guest room. But the master bedroom had a king sized bed which allowed Ted and Dennis at least some appearance of only sharing the space during the visit.
The marina in Redondo Beach was a large affair and they lowered the sails as they came up on the outer breakwater. Steve kept to the wheel as Tim and Dennis manned the sails, Ted slid onto the stern bench beside his father and they watched.
"Dennis looks tired, is Jim Curry working you guys too hard?"
Ted smiled. "No, not too hard. Involved is a better word, it's a real challenge. But then the whole company runs the rat race, he has a good team of people."
"I'm glad you have some good friends here, Steve seems like a responsible young man. It must be hard for him."
"He enjoys it," Ted said. "Steve has been performing for almost ten years, it's in his blood. But when Tim took over his security and began the martial arts I think Steve really came alive."
"I guess he needs someone to watch out for him," Dale said.
"Oh yeah, Steve has a lot of fans. He said some of them would leave packages on his doorstep and freak out his parents. I think the police got tired of responding so they had to move."
"Yeah, that would do it for me too. So Tim now has to follow Steve around everywhere?"
"Not always, mostly for the recreational or social things," Ted said. "Steve's regular guard is Tommy, a huge guy, ex-Navy Seal...he's a nice man but scary looking."
"I'm just glad that's not your fate," Dale said. He placed a hand on Ted's shoulder. "Tomorrow is a special day for you. Your mother called me the other day. She said to wish you a Happy Birthday."
"I...I didn't know you two were still talking."
"We do...occasionally. You are her son, and I have Kathy to worry about."
"Is everything all right?" Ted asked.
"They're fine, she was concerned about you."
"I was planning to call her tomorrow, just to check up on things," Ted said.
He felt his father squeeze his shoulder with affection. "You should do that."
"And what about you, Dad? Are things really fine with you?"
"I think so...but let's talk about that later, okay?"
Lunch was everything Tim said it would be. Ted figured Redondo Beach wasn't that far from Culver City by car, and it would be worth the drive to come back here. He spent some time looking at his father, wondering what could be said between them.
The relationship with Dennis was something he really wanted to reveal. It was a source of his strength and he wanted his father to know that. But perhaps after the birthday would be a better time. Nothing had to be said at the moment.
The return trip took no time at all since they were only ten miles south of the home base marina. They followed the coast north and watched the big jets coming in over the ocean to Los Angeles International. They would split up at the marina since Steve had something else to do in the afternoon.
"We'll see you tomorrow night," Steve said before they parted.
"I'm counting on it," Ted said, and they hugged.
Ted drove them north on the coast highway from Marina Del Ray. It was only two o'clock and they had made no real plans for the evening.
"So, Dad...is there anything you'd like to see?" Ted asked.
"What do you usually do for entertainment?" Dale asked.
"Sleep," Dennis said, and they all laughed.
"I've never been to Disneyland."
"Come to think of it, neither have we," Dennis said. "Is it too late in the day?"
"We could have dinner there and watch the fireworks," Ted said.
"Oh...fireworks...I love fireworks," Dennis said.
"The park is off the 5 in Anaheim, think you can get us there?" Ted said.
"Of course, that's easy."
"Hold on, Dad. With Dennis navigating we'll get there...eventually."
"We need to change, Ted...I feel cruddy," Dale said.
There were two showers in the condo and while his father and Dennis cleaned up Ted called the office.
"Hi Stephanie, how's the day going?" Ted asked.
"Usual chaos...I thought you had the day off?" She replied.
"I do. We were thinking of going to Disneyland, does Jim have any deals with them?"
"Oh, that sounds like fun. Sure, before you buy tickets go see the box office manager, his name is Dolan...do you have your ID?"
"Yes, will that get us discounts?"
"It might get you comps, depends on how crowded they are today. But its summer and might not be so bad."
"You guys have fun, see ya Monday."
Ted took his shower and they left, arriving in Anaheim an hour later. Steve Dolan was a nice guy and glad to see someone from Curry Productions. After the usual 'what are you guys doing these days?' chat he handed over three complimentary tickets with a smile. Ted took the man's business card and promised him opening night seats for Come Next Tuesday.
This was a normal game in Hollywood, and in most theaters around the country. Swapping tickets, no matter what the value, was a perk in the business. Dolan would bring his kids to the movie and they would get to see the stars as they became one of the smiling faces in the audience on one of the television entertainment programs.
Ted's father was amazed because they had just saved over two hundred dollars. "This is great, dinner is on me," Dale said.
They went straight for the rides, as Dennis knew they would. Something about being a Cavanaugh made Ted and his father addicted to speed and thrills. The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean...they had to stand in line for all of them, but it wasn't that bad.
All that was followed by dinner in a nice restaurant off Main Street and then they walked back outside to see the fireworks. The Fantasyland Castle was all lit up and the bursts of colorful explosions just added to the pleasant mixture.
Ted sat on a bench between Dennis and his father.
"This is real fine," Dale said. "I'm glad we had the time to come here...it's a family moment I won't forget for a long time."
"I just wish you weren't in that big old house alone," Ted said.
"Don't feel guilty; you're in pursuit of a dream. I'm dating a wonderful lady now, you know her...Janice Matthews."
"From the club? I know Janice...um, Mrs. Matthews."
"She's not a Mrs. any more, we ran into one another at a singles night," Dale said.
"She's pretty...way to go, Dad."
"When you left I had to do something. I couldn't just sit around the house and listen to Mamasita get on my case. Janice and I are going to Las Vegas in a few weeks."
"You don't mean to get married?"
"No...we've never discussed that. It feels strange, I haven't dated since graduating college, and that was with your mother." Dale sighed. "I...well I don't know how to bring this up, maybe you do."
"Bring up what?" Ted asked.
Dale looked up as the finale to the fireworks display began. Amidst the thunder of dozens of explosions he smiled. "Your partner...Dennis."
Oh My God, Ted thought...he knows?
"Don't look so surprised...I've known for quite a while. But you're my only son and I waited for you to become comfortable enough about talking to me, and then you left to come here. I tell myself every day what a lucky man I am to have a wonderful son like you, and if this is your choice then so be it. I love you, Ted...and I probably love Dennis too."
Ted had tears in his eyes as he threw his arms around his father's neck. "I'll always love you...you're the best. But how did you know?"
"Parents just seem to know...at least if they love their kids enough to care. But you made it easy. I woke up early one morning last year and thought to look in on you...Dennis was sleeping beside you cradled in your arms. I think you made a great choice, he's everything you need."
Dennis had heard most of the conversation and sat stunned until Dale reached out his arm and placed a hand on Dennis' shoulder.
"I feel like I have two sons now...this is how family should be," Dale said. He looked over at Dennis and smiled. "Shall we go home, boys?"
The traffic on the 5 wasn't as bad going up into the city as it had been coming down, but Ted drove carefully. He had to focus on the road, there were so many thoughts spinning around in his head. There were things he wanted to say, to ask...but that would wait until they were back at the condo.
"Does Mom know?" Ted asked after they got back.
"She does...and so does Janice. As you might imagine I had my doubts and some concerns, Janice put that all to rest. Her younger brother is gay and her parents joined this support organization. Now he's a successful architect and she's very proud of him.
"So I had to tell her, to ask what it all means and she let me have it with both barrels," Dale laughed. "It's who you are that matters, not who you love...although in this case I think you did the right thing. I imagine many of your friends know."
"They do and all the important ones are supportive," Ted said.
"I think Dennis is still shocked, I'm sorry," Dale said.
"No...well, yeah, this all came out of nowhere. But Ted and I have been together for three years and I can't think of a better time in my life," Dennis said. "Thanks for your support."
"Then I take it your parents don't know," Dale said.
"They do not, but they will soon, thanks to you."
"Does Kathy know?" Ted asked.
"She does not...and I don't think anyone is going to tell her," Dale said. "Your sister has her own issues..." The phone rang and Dennis got up to answer it.
"Dennis...just the man I wanted to talk to," Steve said. "I have a favor to ask, can I bring a friend tomorrow night...actually it might be two."
Dennis thought a moment and then smiled. "Sure, a couple of people haven't responded so I'm sure there'll be room. I thought you were coming with Tim?"
"I am, but two others just popped up on the radar this afternoon. I'd like to keep it a surprise, especially if Jim is planning to be there," Steve said.
"Oh he is. I just hope he doesn't wear that clown outfit."
"Good to go...so seven o'clock at the Blue Plate, we'll see you then." And Steve hung up before Dennis had the chance to thank him for the sailing excursion. I wonder who he's bringing, Dennis thought?
They stayed up talking until midnight at which point Dale gave Ted a kiss and a most welcome happy birthday hug, and then they all went to bed. It had been a long day in the sun which would sap the energy of anyone.
"My mother always joked that I was an easy birth which should have served as a warning that I would be difficult to raise." Ted said as they lay in darkness. "On the other hand, being the first, Kathy was a difficult birth...and look what happened with her. Now I really want to talk with my mom about us."
Dennis sighed. "Should we take a couple of days and drive back?"
"I won't have any time the next few months, and neither will you."
"I don't have a role in your film's development and my job on this one is almost at an end. I have no idea what Jim has in mind for me to do," Dennis said.
"Then I would suggest you ask him if the time is right to enroll at UCLA. At least go talk to them, get an advisor."
"I can't see me taking more than a few classes, not if I plan to stay on with Jim," Dennis said. "Besides I was going to take a year off and wait for you to catch up."
Ted propped himself up on one elbow and laid a hand on Dennis' chest. They had agreed to no sexual activity with Ted's father in the guest bedroom, but Ted often used affection to make his point.
"The whole time I was trying to figure out just where I wanted to go after high school and all the possibilities that college might bring led me to one conclusion. If you're smart enough, aggressive enough and make your case to the right people then you can write your own program of study.
"The film department at UCLA must be in awe of Jim Curry, he's one of their biggest success stories. So you go make an appointment with the Dean of that school. Sit down and explain what you want, see what they can do for you.
"Think about it, the Dean might even wonder if you are going to be the next Jim Curry. Imagine what it would be like to boast the likes of two famous directors out of their school. I would think they might be agreeable and work something out between their academic needs and your work schedule."
"Um...okay. That was quite a speech," Dennis said.
Ted's fingers moved up Dennis' chest and closed on a small clump of hair, which he promptly yanked.
"Oww...what was that for?"
Ted smiled. "I just want you to know that whatever we do it's going to be painful, but you'll always have me beside you."
"I love you too."
Dennis had made all the arrangements for the birthday party weeks before, and he had the best help in town. Jim had offered Nina's excellent assistance, and she had turned out to be a wiz at getting things done. Dennis could only imagine what she had done to get their reservation at one of the most popular restaurants in town.
Nina had encouraged him to send out the invitations in the first week of July and they used Jim's address for the replies. In all, twenty replies had come back with only six sending their regrets. Dennis was pleased to note that there would be as much star power in that private dining room as there was on Hollywood Boulevard at the Oscar's.
The relationship Dennis and Ted had forged with some of these famous people was a genuine friendship. Many of them were already in town working and would have to make time in their busy schedule to attend, but that's what friend's did, and Ted would have the time of his life.
For his part Ted knew better than to quiz Dennis about the guest list, he would let it be a surprise. He was just glad that his father would finally be able to meet the good people in his life. His father had always been supportive, but with this new found knowledge of the gay life that Ted was going to lead there were bound to be concerns. Tonight that would all be laid to rest.
They went to Venice Beach for breakfast, followed by a lot of walking and some beach time. Standing out on the end of the fishing pier, Dale could look back towards the city covered in a smoggy haze.
"It sure doesn't look healthy, does it?" He said.
"Looks worse from up at Tim's place in the hills," Dennis said.
"You've been to his home?"
"Several times," Ted said. "His father ran Triton Studios, Tim has a wealthy family."
"Seems like everyone you know is in this film industry," Dale said.
"So far that's about the size of it," Ted replied. "It's a fast moving crowd and a hard working one. But Dennis and I are not going to become players in any of the games you might read about."
Dale laughed and clapped a hand on Ted's shoulder. "I've never worried about that, you're too smart for that nonsense."
Ted could tell that Dennis was more agitated as the afternoon waned, but they returned to the condo and relaxed. Ted allowed his father to sit down and read the script for Come Next Tuesday. It was a difficult task with all the handwritten changes and there would not be a final edition available for at least a few weeks. But finally it was time to clean up and get dressed.
"I hope you didn't tell anyone to bring a present," Ted said from under the spray of the shower.
Dennis smiled at his reflection in the mirror as he ran a razor across his chin. "Nope, I said nothing about gifts. I imagine everyone will bring something, silly stuff perhaps. You don't really need anything."
"That's true...I just hope none of it is embarrassing."
"Uh oh," Dennis laughed. "Considering some of the people we know that's a given."
By six they were dressed and ready. Dennis took a few pictures of Ted with his father and then set the timer on the camera for a group shot. At six-thirty the phone rang, their ride had arrived. The limo which sat out front of the condo was only the first of many surprises Ted would have that evening.
The Blue Plate was off Beverly Boulevard and was reached by a circular driveway off the adjacent parking lot. There were a few people waiting out front and Dennis could only imagine what they were thinking since many of their guests had already arrived. It was just after seven when the car let them out.
"Is there a private dining room?" Dale asked.
"Absolutely," Dennis said, and nothing more.
The restaurant had a generous lobby with the main dining rooms off one side and the private rooms on the other. Ted smiled when he saw Tommy standing outside a set of double doors.
"Tommy, so good to see you," Ted said.
The man smiled. "And a Happy Birthday to you, Ted."
Ted almost laughed at his father's reaction to the big man, but they shook hands and Tommy opened the door. There were several dozen people milling about inside, some standing in groups and others seated at the long banquet table. Everyone looked up and began to applaud as Ted came through the door.
A huge buffet table was spread along one side of the room, and a small army of servers were ready to carve and serve dinner. A table at the front of the room held a three tiered birthday cake. Big enough for the eighteen candles which decorated the surface. There were also some wrapped gift boxes, fortunately nothing huge. Thank God for Nina, Dennis thought, she had done all this.
The faces were all turned their way, smiling happy faces. Some of them Ted had not seen in quite a while, others he saw every day. He set out to greet them all, beginning with Taffy Borden. They had spent hours together when she had directed Dennis' acting debut at Cabot in The Mousetrap...that had all seemed so long ago.
Barry was there with Mike from Sony Studios, but Ted was surprised to see Brenda Nichols who gave him a hug. Wasn't she was supposed to be off in England shooting a film? The men pressed forward, Vince and John, Mike and Jim. But beside Jim stood another man and Ted's mind registered the shock, it was Hank Dobbs. How had Dennis arranged that?
Ted could see Steve and Tim standing with two others outside the closed circle, but Jim and Mike stepped aside to reveal the one person they knew Ted would want to see.
"Hello, Dear," Betty said.
"Betty...how wonderful," Ted replied, and gave her a warm and sincere hug.
Betty Compton had befriended Dennis during that first gathering in Lake Tahoe and the aging film star had taken a special interest in Ted over the following years. The last time they were together she had been in a wheelchair, but now she looked quite well. She held a cane for support, and the ever present Macy was close at hand to watch over her. The moment brought tears to Ted's eyes.
Dennis laid a hand on Ted's shoulder. "She's sitting beside you for dinner; you need to go greet the other guests."
Ted shook hands with Hank Dobbs and thanked him for coming. "Jim said I had to be here," Hank said. "We'll be seeing a lot more of one another."
Steve gave him a hug and then stood back to let Ted look at the young man standing beside him.
Ted smiled. "I know that face, you're Mark Harrison."
"Guilty as charged," Mark laughed. "And this is Brian."
They shook hands and Ted suddenly realized he had abandoned his father. He turned to look and saw his dad standing with Dennis watching the gathering.
"Excuse me, I'm sorry...I just left my father standing there."
"We have plenty of time to get acquainted," Mark said.
Ted returned to his father and began to introduce him around. Normally his father was not overwhelmed at meeting people, but this was an exceptional crowd and Dale seemed almost humble. He shook hands with one and all, and like Ted he smiled at Betty.
Macy had placed her at the table and Betty smiled up at Dale, holding his hand with affection. "You have a wonderful son, Mr. Cavanaugh...a most remarkable young man."
"Please, its Dale...and thank you, I can only agree."
Ted was shown to the head of the table and the others found their places along either side. Two wine stewards made the rounds and didn't bat an eyelash when filling the glasses of the four underage drinkers at the table. Betty sat to Ted's right with Dale beside her, and to the left sat Dennis and Taffy. But before anyone could say anything Ted stood up and smiled.
"My great thanks to all of you for coming tonight...I had no idea...I am so fortunate to have such good friends..." Ted sat down before he could cry, overwhelmed by the feelings. And now Jim stood up.
"I think what Ted was trying to say is that friends give meaning to life. This is the first time we have come together, the new and the old friends. Some of us see Ted every day at work and these past few months he has inspired us to do our best. I may be his boss but I am also his friend. Happy Birthday, my friend...and I believe dinner is served."
The seating had allowed several small groups to form. Barry was talking to Steve and Mark, while Tim and Brian were deep in private conversation. Jim and Hank were eating and laughing with Brenda and Mike Stone, while John Moore and Vince sat quietly listening. But at his end of the table Ted ate dinner while watching Betty and his father, quite sure that they were talking about him.
The whole event gave Ted such a warm feeling, or was it the wine? Most of these people were very busy in life, and yet they had taken the time to come here and celebrate his birthday. Mark must have just returned from Japan and Ted wanted to ask him about the experience...and about Brian who looked to be about Barry's age. He had never considered having an older man in his life, but he could see how Steve had become attracted to Tim, perhaps it was the same for Mark.
He could see Jim and Hank together, what had he meant by seeing a lot more of each other? There was that secret script Jim was hiding from everyone, would he become involved in that? A hand came down on Ted's and he looked up to see Betty staring at him.
"Are you daydreaming, dear?" She asked.
"Just a little," Ted replied, and then he smiled. "I have some new friends in my life."
"I see that," Betty said. "Jim told me the blond boy, Steve, is in his new film. Is that the one you're working on?"
"Yes, we're developing a very intelligent cast."
"That other boy, Mark...I remember seeing him and Steve together on television."
"I saw that show too," Ted said. "He just returned from filming in Japan. You wouldn't happen to know what Jim and Hank are hatching down there at the other end of the table, would you."
"No, dear...Jim is always so secretive, but he'll tell you when he's ready. So tell me about your adventures in Hollywood so far."
It was a chance to share what he had seen and what he was thinking, so Ted knew his father and Taffy would listen in. The conversation lasted through the end of the meal and the removal of the dinner dishes. Then the wine stewards returned with fluted glasses and popped the corks on several bottle of champagne. It was good thing that Ted wasn't driving.
It was Dennis' turn to stand and offer a toast. "To Ted, who with this birthday reminds us that youth is fleeting and we will spend the rest of our days trying to recapture the young moments of our lives. To old friends, and new...I don't imagine there has been this much star power in one room since the last Mike Stone cookout."
There was laughter at that. "But none of you came because fame and fortune has been kind to your careers, you came to honor Ted. He's been a part of my life for the past three years, and yet I can't remember a time when I've ever been prouder of him and more willing to call him my partner in life. Thank you, Ted."
The glasses were raised and the toast drunk as Ted stood up and gave Dennis a hug, that brought the applause.
"Cake...we must have cake," Jim yelled, and they all began to sing the Happy Birthday song. Two waiters lit the candles and carried the cake table over. Ted took a deep breath and blew out the cluster of flames on the top tier, and then a waiter handed Ted a knife.
After the first slice the waiters took over, placing pieces of the cake on plates and delivering them to the guests. Ice cream was served in small silver cups, and the champagne bottles left at hand.
"Presents...he must have presents," Jim called out.
And what silly gifts most of them where. A Mickey Mouse hat with the words 'Assistant to the Big Cheese' emblazoned across the front. A sign for the doorknob of his office that said: 'Do Not Disturb, Production Assistant in Crisis.'
But the not so silly gifts were wonderful. A book on Hollywood films with a golden bookmark on page eighty-three that marked the photo showing Betty Compton as a young star. She had autographed it: 'To Ted, with all the love in the world, Betty.'
Jim gave Ted a blue satin jacket with the name 'Come Next Tuesday' emblazoned across the back and Curry Studios Production Staff and his name on the front.
"Hey, I want one of those," Barry said.
Jim smiled. "All in good time, that one is just the first."
Steve and Mark were the first guests to beg off, and Ted understood. Mark and Brian had flown in to LAX at four that afternoon, just in time for the party. But the jet lag showed on their faces and they needed to rest.
"Why don't you come up to the house tomorrow and bring your father," Tim suggested. "We'll cook out, swim, and I'll make sure everyone is on their best behavior."
Ted nodded. "We can do that...and tell everyone to just be themselves, my dad knows about Dennis now."
"Oh? Well, that should be an interesting story," Tim replied. "Anytime after two will be fine, I guess you need to bring bathing suits."
"Nope, dad swims nude at home...he's full of surprises."
Tim laughed. "Okay, then come as you will. Thanks for inviting us." And he gave Ted a hug.
It didn't take long for the party to start looking like the after-Christmas gathering Mike Stone hosted in Lake Tahoe. The table had been cleared, and although some still drank wine, most were now drinking coffee or tea.
It seems Betty and Macy had come into town that morning and were staying with Jim for the night. She again made her offer for a visit.
"You must come see me in Santa Barbara this fall. We have a lovely view of the ocean and the gardens are delightful at that time of year. If you're afraid of being bored my neighbor has horses you can ride. Just tell Jim you need a few days off."
"It sounds wonderful...we'd love to come, if we can get the time. I'm afraid this fall is going to be a very busy time for Ted since the filming starts in January," Dennis said.
"Ted has school commitments as well," Dale said. "And Dennis said something about UCLA."
"I know some people at their film school, in fact you do too," Betty said.
Taffy laughed. "Okay, I confess...I'm teaching a directing class there in the theatre department."
"Do you know the Dean?" Dennis asked.
"Margaret Black, an excellent administrator...and a friend. I'll be sure to introduce you," Taffy said.
And then the hour became late and Ted could see the weariness in Betty's eyes, Jim's too for that matter. No matter what their fall schedule, Ted knew they would have to make time to visit her. There was a good deal of affection shared before she left, even Dale caught the feelings.
"What a special lady," Dale said as they left the restaurant and walked back out to the limo. "She reminds me of my mother."
Ted had never met his grandmother; she was gone before he was born. Perhaps that was part of the attraction to Betty.
"She's a grand woman," Ted said. "Unlike many performers she doesn't have a selfish outlook on life. I caught on to that right away."
"I'm very impressed with your friends," Dale said. "They all seem very genuine."
I love all my friends, Ted thought as he lay in bed, but none more than the young man who lay beside him. Dennis had given him a good dose of affection and then promptly fell asleep. The party had been so wonderful, so personal, and Dennis had done a fine job of bringing all those people together.
Ted couldn't wait to wear his new jacket to work on Monday, providing it wasn't a hundred degrees outside. The gifts he had received had been perfect, nothing so outrageous that he would feel obligated to anyone. Even Dennis had kept his promise; he had given no gift as requested.
There was nothing Dennis could give that would mean more than what they shared on a daily basis. No trinket could surpass the love, and so there had been none. Perhaps when California finally settled the debate about men getting married Ted would ask for a ring. There would be nothing left; no other desire would make him happier.
It was enough to make him smile as sleep eluded him. Turning eighteen was an important milestone since now he could grasp life with both hands and call it his own. He owed so much to Dennis, but there were other commitments as well. He would no longer be considered a boy, and yet he'd felt like an adult for some time. Perhaps Jim was responsible for that.
Jim had given him an opportunity, and with it had come the valuable people who now surrounded him. Barry could have felt threatened by Ted's position, but instead he had embraced the partnership which could only help them both succeed. Barry would soon move up in the ranks and become an important figure in the industry. Ted would do everything he could to assure that.
And then there was Steve...and now Mark. Together they were the new generation, the ones who could remake the industry. Somehow Ted knew they were going to make a difference to his life. The future was a puzzle and yet it seemed all the pieces were now on the table, he just had to figure out how to use them.
Dennis was sure that Ted was going to create something grand in the next few years, perhaps a screenplay. He wasn't sure how, there was little enough time to ponder what he was doing now. There was a sea of ideas floating around out there, perhaps Dennis was right.
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