Away from the crowd. face hurts from smiling all day. Men's room: lavish and marble-chrome-shiny. Mirror: face is blank, all dolled-up, frustration concealer-covered.
Sweet Jesus, but this day is never-ending. wipe hands, lean against the door. Bad idea: someone walks through it, and there's me almost keeling over, reaching out randomly. Someone's arm: muscular, beefy. Snapped: "get your fucking hands off me--" before it's cut off. Teeth over tongue; stare-down, slitted eyes. fold.
"you're one of the--" beat. Spit out: "boyband."
won't answer, not that kind of statement-insult. Do it, anyway - good try, be polite. Smile. "JC. From *NSync." Stating the obvious; this poster-boy face is hardly unknown to the guy.
Snort. Shrug. Pause. make a move to leave. Notice I forgot to take my hand down. still clutching muscle and bone. Not a good i--
"Marshall Mathers, but I guess you'd know that."
Surprise. Blink. Peer into his face: Eminem, Marshall, Slim, whatever. Whoever. think: babyface. Copping that attitude because he got picked on in school.
Next thought: bet Justin really wants to be a white rapper like him. Also: where does the anger come from? - I'm not angry. Tired, annoyed, stuck in a bathroom with the great white dope. Move to leave.
"Excuse me--" but I'm cut off. hand hanging limp by my side: Eminem lifts his. Stop. I stop.
"no hard feelings?"
apology? Hardly. Gearing up for a fight? Somehow more appealing. "none." Might as well keep the fašade. Polite. Mr. Friendly. Making nice with the guy that spits in my face.
Out the door. Eminem stays inside. Hallway, crowded, small talk. "JC!" shake hands, move on.
Quiet corner. Champagne, more of it; look, honey, there's the hors d'oeuvres. Chris sidles up: "where'd you go?"
"men's room, dad--"
"be pissy, willya," and he's gone again. Flip, flip, flip, faces passing by, hey, JC, what's up, man, cool show, what is that you're wearing? congrats, my people will call your people, have you seen Justin? excuse me, excuse me.
haven't noticed before. Doing that now: the contempt shines through. Could they be more blatant? It's one of those days - everything's fake. And I used to be such a happy person.
Now there is Justin, Justin - Justin isn't liking it, either: megawatt smile's looking worn by now. sympathy? Not tonight. Diva.
Back down the hall, champagne rising to my head. Might have eaten something before, didn't feel like it, paying the price. More hands to shake. Take a breather, lean against the wall, look casual.
"fuckin' hate these fuckin' things," in my left ear. Startled, looking up. Him again. What the hell? "posers--"
"why--" snap that mouth shut before it talks out of turn. Breathe. He's standing too close. Lid on it, Chasez. "the job. it's my job."
"bet it is. Don't know why it's mine, though." Hint of a slur in the voice; the booze flows in rivers here. Images refuse to mesh: the ghetto is toned down. calling me a poser, Marshall? Lid. Now. should have had dinner. Hard to stop things from rising to the surface; buckets of expensive bubbly stuff make them spill over. Image: say the wrong thing, he might hit you. Not put off. Might almost make it worth a try. Getting there; he won't notice.
Give it a shot: subtle, loosen the pose, adjust jut of hip: Justin does this better. Come hither - diva! Doesn't follow through, though. Tease, tease, tease, look at me! Look at my pretty, pretty ass--
Small talk. The small talk brain is working, through Bollinger haze. Yadda yadda, how's the kid? Hayley, huh, see I do my homework. No, his name is Justin, the one with the curls, yeah, can rag on us, can't remember our names - "JC - what's that stand for?" - sound almost interested, not quite: see, that's one thing I do better. Bet you can't see what I'm thinking.
Getting some raised eyebrows - headline: Eminem and NSync: Mexican stand-off or burying the hatchet? - easy to ignore. Important to talk about industry, forget about music: he won't think it's the same. For people like us.
Cold eyes, but he's looking. Never see a boyband member before? Flirting: half a brain hoping his gaydar'll work, other half praying to god he doesn't have one.
Moving now, random hither-thither. "yo, my posse," first sign of the attitude. 'posse' - they tower over us. Non-plussed: "who the fuck?" fear is thrilling. They could tear me to shreds.
He's still talking: can't follow it. Mouth on autopilot, but I can see him looking. At my face. At the rest of me. Bet next year's Best Album he doesn't know he's doing it.
We're still civil. We're moving - crowd cleaves from him. I get looks: is he nuts? Maybe.
Outside - huh? He's been escorting: what am I, his date? Can't imagine he planned it.
Thinning crowd, patio, stairs, gravel walk. Security hovering somewhere just out of my line of sight.
Row of shiny cars parked in neat formation. Where are we? Can't remember whose bash this is. Industry. Lance would know. Someone told me, I know. It's gone.
He points out the one he came in. ghetto ride. His own? no. but it's white. Probably has a bar. Almost expecting him to invite me in for a drink. Uhuh. Work it harder, white boy. maybe time to call the game off.
Cold night; I'm hot enough in a tee. Got buzz, got heat to spare. Kick at the gravel, sway, and he catches me. Reflex, good boy. And he stops, stares, says, "what the fuck?"
Bingo! The radar pings, the flags go up, what's behind door number three?
Wait for it: narrowing eyes, defensive stance - quick, switch to offense. In his face, the dumbest idea of the day. "what are you talking to me for?"
... uhuh, yeah, it only takes a second to piss him off. Quick check around - didn't know he'd be this premeditated about it - and he grabs me. Fingers digging into my shoulders. Slam. Ahhhhhh. Car door; the handle takes a divot out of my lower back. Pain. I know what I look like when I hurt. same as I look when I just got laid.
That worked, worked, choosing the Gandhi way. He's not used to it. Thought I'd fight back? Cry? Yell for security? You don't know shit about shit, Marshall.
Turn the other cheek; bite my lip to keep from laughing in his face. Slam. He's swearing at me: unimportant. Important: he's covering me. Body. Close. He'll let me.
He can feel me, too. Freeze-frame. Ice-pick glare. Then: blink. Blink. What? Want some? Come get it.
Off me, two seconds, tear the car door open. Back. I take the opportunity to touch him. Suggestive. He can hurt me. Don't care.
He's not sober. I'm not sober. This makes us not sober. Us, falling into the car. Limo. Whatever. Leather seats. Stumble, fall, catch myself. How convenient. Slam! That was the door. I think we're alone now. out of control. Good.
Timeout. Deep breath. Think: recap - this is Marshall Mathers. Are you sure?
New train: Justin, baby? Eat this, bitch. (he'd never dare. Never never.)
Cinch: doing it. Deliciously depraved: sucking cock in the back of a limo. Moment there: chickening out, Marshall? I've got twice the balls you have, fucker.
Almost. Almost. He's thrumming like a wire. Scared, angry, restless, flighty, what? Fisting my hair, shirt, rude boy. like it. One time, just one time, I went down on Justin. he was polite. Never talks about it. This is better. This will be quiet, too. Loud here, though. See if I can make him scream?
Or explode: all over the place. Wipe my mouth. He looks shell-shocked. Lean against him, push my luck, push is, push it. Wanna cuddle? What, you don't kiss your groupies?
Short time, two full seconds, and he almost folds. Strokes my head. Two seconds, two and a half and--
ka-blam. Crackle of cartilage twisting. The push I needed. On the floor, lots of floor. Rush: I could-- I could-- always wondered; this I always wondered about - about myself. Strangeness, smarting nose, happy-happy dick. Don't wanna get up.
Check nose: not quite broken, thank you. You hit like a girl, Marshall. Look up at him. Look in his eye. He's about to throw another punch; better aimed this time. ooh, I'm scared.
Look at him. Lick at the blood running over my mouth. Grin through it.
See him turn pale. Who fucked who over, Marshall? Cheers.
He grabs me, shakes me, kicks me out. He's good at that; probably practices on the wife. Ex-wife. Uhuh.
Landing on my ass on the paved lot. Blood running down the back of my throat now. swallow. Swallow. Watch me, I'm a mess. car door's open: he's watching me blankly.
I'm still smiling; walk away without wiping the rest of the blood off my face.