The L Word : Behind the Scenes

The L Word Bette Porter Tina Kennard


9 Comments

The New Mothers of Invention – Touch Tones #12

Bette Close Up profile anticipation

Dallas, Texas – In a Hospital Corridor Near a Stairwell – Bette

I should’ve known better, but when has that old adage ever saved any fool from themselves? So now, here I am hanging out in the hallway being Alice and Shane’s lookout.

Tina has disappeared for the moment, wanting nothing at all to do with this plan, and as she walked away over her shoulder she threw back a look that was meant to wilt my resolve, but her heart wasn’t really it in, and I can take a lot, lot worse.

It’s always amazed me how life can appear to be moving in one direction, as certain as an ice floe, and then slide off a cliff you never saw coming. I wonder if that’s how Jodie feels, three weeks away from me?

And who was she in the mystifying game of cat and mouse Tina and I played with relish against each other? Strange as it sounds, because she truly hates my guts right now, Jodie was both the curse and the cure that changed my Fate. As I was disappearing over the horizon line, Tina woke up from the sleepwalking state of believing that dating around West Hollywood was the way to the Well of Happiness.

A folly of hangovers ten thousand before her had tried.

Bette_Tina_looking ahead, Powersuit

Art saved me.

There was a painting that hung in The Provocations show, and I had walked by it everyday for months, but when I call it up now – the image of The Wraith of Temptations’ canvas – I can see her face of duality.  Half vixen and the other half, not chaste, but one of serene delight – I finally have a whole picture of myself, in a way I’ve never had before.

I am both bliss and the hungry complications of human nature.

I know this deeply when Tina is sleeping next me.  Lying on my back, staring up at the ceiling I’ve edged right up to the duality of myself.  When the night outside is especially windy, and the chaotic reflections from my pool flash wildly across my ceiling, they entrance me.  The lavender scent of our sheets, her sometimes still sticky on my fingers, leads me to imagine myself as healed and golden, and not quite real.  In these transcendent moments, Tina has a body of quicksilver, and I can’t tear my eyes away from her beauty and nakedness.

I feel it as deeply as my own skeleton of interlocking bones.  Something terrible has been swept away from us, and Hell has been avoided.

SheBarKiss

As much as I detest Dawn Denbo, and to a lesser degree, My Girlfriend Cindy, I will always have reverence for the magic that happened in the SheBar, even though it was mostly my tongue that led me all the way Home.

It’s a well known fact, I had realized after Alice made me sit down, and read all the comments about me on her blog, that Tina and I are an Internet “kissing sensation”.

WITH FOLLOWERS.

“Is this one from the SheBar’s security cameras? This is unbelievable to me! Who the fuck posts all these things?” I had nearly spilled my beer all over the computer when the long tortured video of me, bereft of even a single word, had shown me desperately rolling my lips with Tina’s until finally my mind had broken.

It was then she had whispered, “Don’t, Babe. Please don’t cry anymore.” But still I hadn’t stopped, or maybe it was that I didn’t really believe her until she’d answered all my hows and whys with the only words I’d needed to hear, “Because I love you.”

Only then, did my breath return to my lungs, and my heart to its rightful place inside my chest, and finally her hand over its too fast beating, she had whispered in my ear, “Take me home, Bette. I’m ready to go.”

I feel it. The way the pieces that shattered have come back smooth and knowing their place, and how there’s a profound kind of peace in that.

In New Mexico, I’d seen it again most recently, when something old, and very fierce, had burned through my Mother, and her friend, Mary Windhorse’s eyes. When rape and attempted murder didn’t defeat them, they became Mothers of Re-Invention. It’s what we do.

Women transform.

Bette_Tina CU Atlanta Kiss

“How did this one get out on the Internet?  Jenny has cameras in my house! I’ve sworn to Tina they’re in here.”

Alice had convinced me Jenny was not to blame for this one, but Dana’s bizarre selection of wife material, the marketing girl with the thick thighs, Tonya-what’s-her-name, had probably snapped this one night when she was over.

What it all stacks up to, the Internet revelry about us when we kiss, is that we make women’s knees go weak when we get lost in each other.  And infamous or not, I’m just like every other lost and confused lovesick idiot, but perhaps with better shoes, and a permanent tan.  My thanks always to my black ancestors, who kindly tinted me so nicely.

Fourteen days and five hours later, after Gloria deftly coaxed us all the way across the studio stage to the delights of a cheering crowd, I’d have to be blind and dumb not to see that my soon-to-be-wife of forever is not pleased with me at the moment. Her aggravated arrival puts the sudden brakes on my windmill of thoughts.

Tina verticle arguing Brazil

“My guess is this is so illegal. Have you even considered we might all end up in jail?” Tina stomps up to me.

“I’m innocent!” I throw my hands up to show — I’m clean of most recently committed crimes. “I was standing there one minute, same as you, and it all happened, so fast.”

“But you didn’t try to stop it.” Tina points out as she blows away a piece of hair that has fallen across her eyes.

“What would you’ve had me do? Stick my leg out, and trip the old lady as she made for the door?” I consider walking away toward the elevator, but wisely I stay put. “What if she has osteoporosis? Then, what? We all pitch in tomorrow with our bone marrow?

Tina puts her hand on her hip to tell me: The Game’s Up. “Look me in the eyes, and swear to me – poor bone density was why you didn’t stop her.”

I paste a thoughtful, compassionate look on my face, but Tina sees right through me. “T, bone marrow harvesting hurts like a sonuvabitch, Baby. You really don’t want any part of that.”  I lean over and kiss her lightly on the lips, and then another kiss, and then we’re fine.

“I honestly don’t know sometimes why I put up with you,” but Tina squeezes my hand, as she says it.

I press the elevator button down for the Lobby. “I’m thinking whiskey first, then a ribeye, you?”

dallas steakhouse cowboy bar

The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar – Alice

Real Girls with big hair, I’m not accustomed to.  Drag Queens, check.  But thirtysomething women, who actually teased their hair way up high before driving over here to drink all night – not so much.  Take Miss Laredo over there, who’s throwing her head back in peals of laughter, as if the brunette next to her has just told her the funniest joke in the world. I want some of that, shellacked finishes and all.

Life has been too sad, and far too weird lately with Tasha, who likes things regimented and marching forward with nice, neat squared off edges. I’m an oval person, and I’ve never met a hard angle that didn’t upset and later, offend me. I blame it all on Shane’s dying mother, who’s looking more and more slightly green around the gills, as the one who ignited my heroic sense of carpe diem – Texas style.

“Bette, I’ll buy the first round if you’ll come with me to the bar. Help me carry back our cocktails.” Her knee high cowboy boots, and sly smile are the perfect commodities I need to obliterate my urban footwear, Jewish ancestry, and catch me a much-needed date for the evening.

“Single malt or bourbon?” Bette calls back to Tina, as I lead her away.

Shane_Med_bluegreen bckgrd

The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar – Shane

It’s true. I haven’t thought this whole thing through in all the ways I should have with my mother.

I forgave her leaving me for months with our neighbors, who finally put me into foster care, saving me from their teenage son, who looked like he was going to hop on me, and not get off.  Wrestling, he liked to call it.

I’m strangely bent when it comes to sex.  Turning hand job tricks on Sunset Blvd was my first chosen source of income when I blew into town. That, I realize, says something about me. Words like gender bender, and the hard rubber cocks I strapped on and slid down the tight legs of my jeans were things I never knew existed before I stuck my hand out, and hitchhiked myself as far away as I could get from the Great State of Texas. And now, I’m home.

My mother, who looks like she might be in need of a plastic bucket to vomit in, is reaching in her purse and taking out medicine and I hope not bad pills. Whatever they are, she’s washing them down with Coca-Cola, and Tina’s watching, too, as the pills disappear by the handful.

Tina’s eyes meet mine for a moment, as she sips her drink, and leans closer into Bette. They love each, it’s so obvious, and my mother looks beautiful, but dying – ever so slowly.

“Shane, should you be drinking tonight?” Tina looks at me with a warning. “Aren’t they taking tissue from your liver tomorrow to test for a good match?”

“What does testing my DNA, and something called gene panels, have to do with alcohol?” I punctuate with a swig of my Lone Star beer.

Alice barks a laugh, “You may be the only person in LA who’s never been to a 12 step meeting.

“I haven’t,” Bette offers proudly, “Although Kit’s invited me plenty of times.”

“Do what you want, I say,” my mother chimes in with what I can see on Tina’s face is registering as the kind of guardian she might have been had she stayed around, had a thousand things gone differently, had she not been a drug addict all my life.

“So, let me get you all straight, because my daughter’s postcards are usually just a few lines scrawled. You’re the ones she has breakfast with every morning? What does that make you? A book club, a coffee klatch, some kind of women’s group?”

Alice cocks her head up and stares into the antler chandelier above our table. “This is hardly the 50’s. Do you know anything about Shane’s, uh-mm, life?”

Antler Chandelier - Dallas

The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar – Tina

“Bette,” I whisper, as the waitress hands around menus that are printed on the backs of Wild West Wanted Dead or Alive posters.

“They had the greatest outlaw names,” Bette says admiring the old photo of “Deadeye” Rick Malloy. “Look at this guy, damn! He’d scare me to death if he walked in here right now.”

“Most of them had syphilis, and the spirochetes had corkscrewed through them.” Alice taps the side of her head. “Swiss cheese. Gooey, mushy brains, if you can imagine.”

Sue Ellen looks a bit more ill, then a shiver jumps up her shoulders.

“Bette,” I repeat again, digging into her with my elbow.

“What, Baby? What?”

I whisper in a low voice very near her ear.  “Do you remember the Xanax and Valium pills I keep for whenever we have an earthquake?”

“Ah, ah, of course I do, but I certainly don’t have any.  What’s wrong? Are you suddenly nervous?”

“I’m not nervous, at all, but they’re both blue, but Valium can also be yellow.”

“And grass is green.  All good to know, but did you get a look at the size of that Porterhouse that just went by?!”

“You probably can’t eat, can you Mom?” Shane peers over her Wanted Dead or Alive poster.

Alice offers her medical advice. “My mother, who has the maternal instincts of a spider, would prescribe you Chicken Soup. It’s the Jewish cure all for anything.”

“But not Hitler,” says Sue Ellen, “Do you all really believe there was a holocaust?”

“What!?” Bette shouts way too forcefully.

Sue Ellen stares back at Bette. “Pee-ah-zec-ee, that ain’t Irish, sweetheart. I know from whence I speak.”

Alice, to her credit is taking none of this seriously, and she begins to smile, “Does everyone in your family have a double name, Sue Ellen? And how’d you escape Virginia and North Carolina without one, Tina?”

Shane leans across the table to Bette. “Guys, I can’t eat a whole one of these monster steaks, maybe, I am a little worried about the tests tomorrow.”

Alice comforts her, “Drink some milk, Shane, that will coat your stomach.”

“She can make up her own mind what to eat. I think that should be plenty obvious.” Sue Ellen snorts, and lolls her head back against the soft red leather banquette. “What do you know about it, anyway? Milk.”

“Pasteurized, or unpasteurized, or straight out of the teets? I freelanced for one of the farm co-ops back when everybody was on about making their own yogurt. You can’t stump me when it comes to dairy.”

”Right.” Shane says quickly. ”Mother, let’s go back to your room.”

Sue Ellen waves a Wanted Dead or Alive poster back at her daughter. ”Don’t-cha mean, Death Row? And here you are, after twenty years back in Texas, taking me to dinner with your LA friends, hiding their unnatural attraction for each other with lipstick and fake wedding rings.”  She looks disgusted as she stares at Alice, avoiding Bette’s and my eyes. ”You must think I’m blind. Trust me, I’m not.”

With a dead-eye lock into Shane’s, Bette tosses back her whiskey in one long disappearing swallow. “This is fucking ridiculous, and this has got to stop.”

“Tourette’s, maybe?” Shane looks oddly hopeful.

I shake my head, “Well, I’m just stunned she didn’t know.”

“Know what?” Sue Ellen leans in on her elbows.

“Something very hard to write on a postcard.” Shane defends herself.

Then, the waitress arrives. Thank God.

dead or alive poster

The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar – Bette

The ample chested blonde waitress leans so far down, and comes so close to my face, that I can’t help myself so, I smile.

“I know what I want,” Alice begins.

As I lean in closer to Tina, I hold up the menu to hide my face. “We don’t have to sit through this bullshit, Baby. Just say the word, and I’ll take you out of here.”

“She’s hopped up on something. Remember when I was asking you about blue pills?”

“I just know about Heroin, Kit’s drug of choice, if you don’t count Tequila, Rum, Gin, Vodka…”

“I get it, Bette, but something’s very wrong with her.”

“She’s a bigot, that’s mostly what’s wrong with her!” My attention flips back to the D cup waitress. “I’m going straight to the beef, no salad, no spinach, just a baked potato and straight to business with the steak, but I am definitely ordering another drink. What are you doing, T?”

“If Alice’s ever left California, and landed in a flyover state, she’s heard it all before, but I didn’t see this coming,”

“And Shane’s not, Out?” I begin to laugh. “Absolutely, so ridiculous.”

“Babe, have you forgotten that you didn’t exactly get on so well when this happened with your father?” That stops her laughter, and I wish I could take it back. Then, my phone rings.

“Hey, sweetheart, it’s Momma T. Are you all tucked in?”

“Who’s that calling during dinnertime?” Sue Ellen starts up again.

Alice flips through our family pictures on her iPhone, and  leans over to Sue Ellen, “Oh, and the fake straight women? They have a baby girl together. A cute little brown one. Wanna see?”

_____________

Part Three of this tale I hope you’re enjoying will post soon.

Love to hear from you, if you’d like to drop a comment.

Blackbird

(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i[‘GoogleAnalyticsObject’]=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){
(i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o),
m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m)
})(window,document,’script’,’//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js’,’ga’);

ga(‘create’, ‘UA-67208475-1’, ‘auto’);
ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’);


18 Comments

#5 Touch Tones: The Kiss – Tina Kennard L Word

Bette_Tina Season 5 06kiss

On Stage – Tina

As the crowd around us chants, “Kiss! Kiss! Kiss her!” I wonder how to begin this final part of our performance. The moment our lips meet and the cameras start recording pictures of us will fly out of here and begin their own fanciful journey.

Whether she’ll ever admit to it or not Bette has loved being in front of all these cameras and people slowly seducing me with her marriage proposal and waiting on me now to consummate it with a kiss. Her dark eyes just beyond the planes of diamonds are streaked with gold this afternoon as she lifts my ring to her lips and waits for me.

I want our magical interweaving to happen again. I want the feeling of being held tightly by her strong and confining arms to return. I am tired and so weary of flailing without her.

Possession

What I haven’t decided about is the way she eroticizes her need for possession of me – an agreement we made one night long ago born out of a jealousy that shook me so deeply when she took me there I knew she was the kind of lover I’d always wanted but had never found.

Possession had appeared within our first year of being together and soon I wanted those needs of hers that searched me tirelessly to do it with an unending intensity and finally with greater and greater explosions of love. It was stark and revealing and our ultimate dynamic interplay. And now that she knows my secret I’m unsure if I can be that lover with her anymore.

I must have allowed the seals to be finally broken. It was along the way of fighting to get her back after losing her to Jodie that made me remember those things about my sister and myself. And when I feel into the hidden places they are wary of touch and trust, and I worry about Bette’s searching for me one night and finding me there.

Before meeting her eleven years ago I would have never conceived of this moment. Driving past the gates of Paramount back then I would’ve never imagined that one day in the future, several miles away playing happily at a daycare, would be our child. Or that farther beyond where I’m standing on stage would be the sets to a movie I’m producing, much less a film about lesbians.

Was she always in the matrix of people I would meet? As those lines drew themselves darker the more I explored finding intimacy were all my possibilities inevitably leading to this deeply hued and scored place that has become our history together?

Negotiation

Since we joined Gloria Bette has played to her stage presence flawlessly. To my awe she reached out and immediately touched the crowd with her anticipation and desire. I’m the one who’s been nearly motionless on stage, encircled by winds of emotion and memory.

The endings and beginnings between lovers fill this moment between us. Our kiss waits before coming into existence. A crowd surrounding us chanting for the consummation that moves us from partner to fiancée and says in an electrifying leap: “Yes!” to becoming her wife. I know I must reach over to her and accept her love for me. Then kiss, and jump, and trust, and fall with her. Always the last strap to unleash has been mine before being encircled and possessed and loosened of everything that has kept her separate from me.

Can I do it again? Survive the intensity of a life with her? I wonder as her eyes begin to flash the question that lies between us: What do you want to do, Tina? What do you want to do?

”I want you to kiss me.” I say as I lean into her and we begin with a hint of the hunger for what we have, and for what we’ve always guarded, and for what we nearly destroyed.

 

Backstage – Tina

As I hold Bette’s hand and we wave one last goodbye to the crowd she leans over and whispers, “My mind is blown, Tina. Truly fucking blown. I thought I’d lost you for a minute there. You were really starting to frighten me.”

“You have a talent for this, Babe. I don’t know what happened to me. I froze up on stage.”

“Except at the very end.” Bette sends me a sly wink. “You were selling it at the end, T.”

I squeeze her hand to follow me as the stage manager parts the curtain to let us pass. “You know we’re not quite done yet though, don’t you?” I point to the Press waiting backstage with Claire.

“I see that now.” Bette’s voice tightens a bit.

“Just a little longer and then I can meet you at home.”

“Dinner?” She asks as Claire motions for us to join her near the bar.

“Babysitter?” I answer.

I hear Kit’s voice a little below a shout. “What in the world is going on with you two people?” She vents then breaks into a huge smile before she hugs us both. “I knew you two could do it.”

“We needed a good beacon at times.” I say with a sigh.

“All I know is there’s a mule somewhere to thank for kicking you both in the head.” Kit blusters as she holds out her hand to me. “Now, let me see this ring. Just like the rest of Lil Sis’ understatements at lunch it wasn’t described worth a damn to me either.” Kit shoots Bette a cross look.

I lift my ring up to show Kit who nods her head “Now this is what I’m talking about. I’m so proud of you.” Her disapproval vanishes as she smiles at Bette and asks, “When’s the wedding?”

“Oooff.” Bette exhales. “We don’t know. We keep getting asked that, too.” She looks over at me with a slightly worried look.

“We’re going to have to answer it again and again in a minute.” I nod toward Claire and the reporters. “We have to go, Kit.”

“Can you start without me? I want to talk to my sister for a minute more.” Bette says.

“Sure. I’ll begin with the movie and Kit, thank you for coming, and thank you for all you do for Angelica.”

“Lemme just say I’m glad you’re back, and anytime about Baby Girl, you know that.” Kit sends me off with a big smile.

Bette catches my arm as I walk away. “Should we make up a date? I mean is it that important?” She looks worried.

“Eventually it’s important, but for now I can answer it for the reporters. I’ll tell them we’re setting the date in a week or two and it’s definitely after the movie finishes shooting.”

“Got it.” Bette nods and turns back to Kit.

Kit_Bette big smiles_ seated

Backstage – Bette

“Daddy always held out the hope you’d get married. That man wanted to walk you down an aisle,” Kit says.

“And same sex marriage was not what he had in mind.” I stress as we sit down.

“You felt you had to wait, didn’t you?” Kit asks putting it together.

I tilt my head toward Tina. “I told myself I didn’t care what he thought when we planned for the baby but she said let’s wait on California, and on and on. But by the end of Daddy’s last visit before he got sick he was making her mentally disappear even while she was still in the room.” I wipe my hand in front of my eyes to illustrate his magic trick. “Maddening! And it was going to be very difficult to marry her until he changed.”

“Tell me you’ve seen Mt. Rushmore and The Pyramids and tell me they’ve changed much over time.” Kit shakes her head in wonder at my unreal perspective.

“No, you’re right. I know, I know. She barely tolerated him not tolerating her. It would have been too much to throw Daddy as a log on the fire of why I never brought it up again. Then she left me, so the point was really moot after that.”

“Moot? That’s a little far south of what you got yourselves into but I see it now.” Kit adds thoughtfully, “And it had to be her. We all knew that.”

I smile as we watch Tina talking to the Press and Claire standing watchfully by her. “Gloria said something so interesting to me a few minutes ago.” I whisper to Kit as a friend from my days at the CAC approaches. “That Daddy’s in a different place about me and Tina now.”

“You can dream.” Kit says and shoots me a skeptical look.

“Listen, before this old friend of mine gets here I wanted to tell you more at lunch. I got a call from a woman in New Mexico late last Friday afternoon, Mary Windhorse was – is her name. She said my mother came to Daddy’s memorial,” I say to Kit’s utter astonishment. “And that she’s been in WitSec this whole time.”

“Hold on, hold on, hold on!” Kit waves her hand to slow me down.

“That and I need a babysitter and then I have to leave.” I finish in a rush before I bite my lip and wince that I’m sorry.

“Uh-huh. Tell you what, I got Baby Girl for tonight, but you and me?” Kit wags her finger between us. “We’re going to have a serious talk real soon. You can bet on that.”

Bette_Agent Porter Laughing at Table

 

Bette’s House – Bette

 

I did enjoy the brief after party backstage. I didn’t mind being the brunt of a few well-placed, “Bette Porter marrying” jokes coming from friends of mine who, frankly I was astonished to see there. But then on more than one occasion I had to mentally remind myself – the people who came did so because of Gloria’s politics and if not disastrously handled – the politics that should be in the movie.

I mean really, how can you separate the two? Any exploration into a tightly knit community’s sexual escapades becomes on the one hand, political and apparently on the other, dysfunctional and insane if Jenny’s telling it. But her bi-sexual awakenings and Tina’s counterpoint descent back into them were about power and status, and maneuvering and manipulation, and adding my own worst to their pile of sins – madness and blood thirst. Ergo: Politics.

After a few jokes at my expense and other subtle reminders from Tina I was able to keep in mind that my friends and hundreds of others had come today to honor the signing into law of “our” statewide freedom to marry. It had been a worrisome campaign all the way up to the final vote and that is no doubt is why so many people were there – to let off steam and cheer on something that had been a battle hard to win.

California really should have been the beachhead for the whole country and yet, we had such rocky and spasmodic beginnings. For all those reasons when I finally got my head around the big picture it began to sink in why Claire had created the rally and how truly brilliant it was to have us on stage.

Now, if everyone would just forget about my three minutes of fame I’d like my life to get back to normal where I can be happy with my family and perhaps find myself whistling again. As I steady the groceries in my arms and unlock my front door I realize how little conception I have of what normal for me and Tina really looks like.

I turn the water on in the sink and dump the vegetables from the market in to wash them. The red and yellow peppers bob back up at me, dinner at home with my soon to be wife would be normal.

“Wife,” I say out loud.

I’m not sure I’m the wife, too, though. I need to think about that. There’s something about two wives unless you’re Mormon that feels strange to me, but partner I had liked. I get we are moving away from that, but “partners” had a jostling feeling to it and a, “you and me against the world” kind of vibe. I’d always liked it and it had felt right – a duo, a united front, our relationship that was outside the law. Now things have changed.

“Hi, this is my wife, Bette Porter.” I say out loud and then decide I need a drink.

I take down the Scotch and pour a short glass. The sounds of this new re-phrasing I can’t quite tune my ear to. I roll the warm Scotch around in my mouth before I swallow it.

“Hello. I’m Bette Porter, Tina Kennard’s spouse.” I try out a husky, whiskey laced greeting on the floating bell peppers.

I like the sound of that. Sexually very neutral but attached. And why for the love of God am I having gender confusion about Tina, again? That business with two mothers for the baby when Tina was so clearly the breastfeeding all important one drove me to such turmoil only a steady diet of breast milk could set me right most nights.

I pour another finger of Scotch in my glass and think about those sweet milky days. I don’t know. Does one wife suck the other wife’s breast while she’s nursing? For the life of me that sounds like something only lovers do. I swallow more whiskey and wince as it burns me.

Okay, so wife’s more of a public name that happens with marriage vows and everything else stays the same, or does it? I look around the house and realize it could use fresh flowers. I walk out into the garden in the early evening light to find my clippers.

 

Post Press conference shot, Tina,Shane, Jenny

Outside Bette’s House – Tina

“What are you searching for?” Shane asks me as we pull up in front of Bette’s house and she sees me digging through my purse again.

“My keys. I have to unlock the front door. We’re here and thank you so much for the ride.”

“I have your keys, remember?” Shane takes them out of her pocket and dangles them in front of my face.

“No, you were right to take them away. Note to self: No tequila shots on an empty stomach before 8 PM.”

“Forget about that. You had a lot to celebrate and then some. I’d be smashed, too, if I didn’t have a headache from the smog out where I had to work all day.”

“We’ll get you on set soon enough. Ooops! I’ve lost my keys again.” I say as I bend over and search the floor to find them. I hear Shane’s door opening and then her walking to mine.

“Turn on your phone and use it like a flashlight. There they are.” Shane says as she leans into her car and picks up my keys for me. “You’re a mess. Put your arm around my neck so I can get you home.”

“Home.” I say as I look over Shane’s shoulder to the front of Bette’s house. “I live here again now. Back next door to you.”

“And I welcome you back to the neighborhood.” Shane laughs and puts her arm around my waist. “Okay, step one, two, three and nice going. All good?” She asks as she presses the doorbell and I fumble more with my keys.

“You liked Jodie, didn’t you?” I ask as I lean against the door to wait for Bette. “Are you pissed at me at all?”

“You’re kidding, right?” Shane rubs her face in wonder.

“No, I wasn’t.”

“You realize that for years and years I looked at you guys as the head of our family. We had holidays together and birthdays together and when you broke up?” Shane looks away and squints her eyes as she thinks. “It took away from me – and God knows what it did to you – but it took away from me a foundation and it made me sometimes really sad.”

I put my hand on her shoulder. “You told me once how it made you feel at Christmastime and a little about your stays in foster homes.”

“I’m not alone in that. Most foster kids don’t talk about how weird holidays were with hand me down gifts no one else wanted that were wrapped up anonymously for you.” Shane takes out a cigarette. “In a word: It sucked.”

“Do you ever hear from your mother?” I ask.

“Occasionally a postcard from Texas.” Shane exhales some smoke and smiles. “Always something she knows I’d like. You know, an old timey cowgirl picture postcard, or a joke with a giant jackrabbit with horns. We grow ‘em big in Texas type of thing.” Shane laughs.

“I don’t know where she is. Trust me. She’s expecting me.” I say as I press the doorbell again.

“I’m just glad Bette didn’t hang herself a year ago. I was such a fucked up friend. Carmen and all.” Shane ends with a few concentrated smoke rings that drift away slowly. “I wasn’t around to help much.”

“I don’t know what I’m thinking. Here, you can see to do the key or should I just call her?” I dig back into my purse before dropping my phone with a clatter.

“Clumsy. I get clumsy when I drink, thus the good idea not to let me drive.” I lean down to pick up my phone and my head whooshes as the blood rushes to it. I put my hand on Shane’s leg to steady my balance.

“Hey, let’s sit on the steps for a minute.” She says as she guides me down next to her. “Is everything, okay? Or did you just get carried away after the party moved to Nikki’s penthouse and the shots came out?”

“I should never do shots on an empty stomach, Shane.” I reiterate my dilemma.

“I find them very hard to avoid but whatever works for you. I’m just glad you’re back, shitfaced or not. You know?” Shane puts her arm around me and looks me steadily in the eyes.

I roll my head back toward the house. “You know I insisted we redecorate the bedroom. I mean, fuck it, Shane. God knows how many women have been in that bed since I left.”

Shane laughs and says, “You’d be surprised. They’re weren’t that many.”

“Well, anyway she agreed without blinking that she’d throw the bed out and that led to a very good prop we could use in that business with Jenny.” I nod toward their house. “So, gratefully all that happened in a hurry and quickly became less about who all’s been in there.”

“I don’t think the hot Senator ever even saw this place.” Shane says as she looks behind us to Bette’s front door.

“Surely she had enough sense to not bring the co-eds here.” I add with a slight snort.

“Bette, Bette, Bette.” Shane shakes her head.

“You see why we had to burn the mattress. We’re getting married for Christ sake!”

“Got it. You needed a new bed. I hope when they delivered it this afternoon they brought lamps, too, because Bette flew into some kind of “chewing the scenery” rage in there for awhile with her remodeling.” Shane laughs at her recent memory.

“My hope is she lights candles everywhere tonight.” I nudge Shane a little. “I mean look at the ring she gave me.” I hold out my hand. “And maybe they’re already lit and she’s waiting on me.”

Shane and I look back at the door as Bette opens it. Holding a vase of red and dark blue flowers she smiles down at us. “I thought I heard voices. Don’t you want to come in?”

I stand up and steady myself on the handrail as a frown flashes across Bette’s face. “Oh,” she says as she quickly hands the flowers to Shane and scoops me up. “I see the party continued after I left.” She smiles at me.

“And may it continue longer.” Shane says as she puts the vase down and waves goodbye from the porch.

 

 

Bette On top tongue kiss

Bedroom – Tina

The new soft sheets she peels back from the bed have the scent of lavender and it settles around me as she presses me deeper into the mattress.

There are candles, there are flowers and there is a very intense feeling of her kissing me now. The room isn’t spinning too much I realize as I let go and feel her long lick up my neck before she kisses me again.

“I want you before dinner. Is that crazy?” Bette asks an inch from my lips.

“Not tonight it isn’t.” I say as she teases my breast with her tongue.

“I remembered your milk earlier.” She says twisting my nipple. A look of lust rises between us and I feel my head rush.

“You want it tonight, don’t you?”

She closes her eyes and sucks my breast and doesn’t answer me for a long time.

“I just went back there. Very beautiful, very nice.” Bette looks up from my breast finally. “How are you feeling, Baby?” She asks.

“Would you laugh at me if I told you, dreamy?”

She smiles as she kisses me down my belly. “Maybe a little.”

I sigh when I feel her tongue hard then soft circling around me.

She pushes open my legs and I wrap them around her back.

Not known for ever accomplishing a “quickie” she surprises me at how intensely she drives me toward that edge. I feel her amplifying all the right places and staying there just long enough to make me ache for her to return.

I know this one. She sets out an array of pulses and then joins them all together in one nice long ending that turns afterwards into a much longer, pleasurable plateau where I can begin again. I will never tire of this I realize as her incredible tongue begins to lick inside me.

 

wolf_onRidge

Instincts

After bringing Tina her dinner on a tray and then rubbing her back with the lotion we love so much from Wales we had agreed – the new bed and its fresh, soft sheets were perfect. Tina lies across my chest now and barely traces her hand along my arm as I read a short love poem of Rumi’s I found.

“You look so different in glasses, Bette.” Tina says as I finish the last verse.

“Just wait. You’re younger than I am. It’ll happen to you.”

“The poem was beautiful. Rumi’s images spin around so much sometimes though. But I’m sobering up now.” Tina laughs at herself.

“Well, Sufis love their swirling dervishes as you know.” I answer as I turn the pages of the book.

“Whirling dervishes, Bette.”

“That’s what I said.” I look over the rim of my glasses at Tina.

“My mistake.” Tina smiles as she hugs me to her. “Babe, I’m closing my eyes, okay. Read on. Read out loud to me if you’d like but I’m drifting.”

One hour later –

While Tina drifted into sleep next to me I had stared up at the ceiling and relived my last several days of intense recalibrations. Over and over again my mind had drifted pleasurably from Tina and Angelica in Malibu, to the kiss on stage, and then back again to the phone call about my mother.

My mind had succumbed to a tangled dream fraught with desperate hunting and I had awakened watchful with a taste of the wind in my mouth. I had slipped out of bed and in the dining room opened my computer.

For the last half-hour I’ve searched the Internet for major crimes in Philadelphia that occurred the week my mother disappeared from my life completely.

When I found the Gambino’s I knew I had found the mafia.

Gambino FoggySt Hit

 

 

_____________

I hope you enjoyed Chapter Five, The Kiss. Chapter Six of Touch Tones, The L Word inspired Season 7 will post shortly.

Thank you for reading and let me know if you enjoyed the story.

 

Blackbird

 

 

Bette Porter Tina Kennard love scene, Bette Porter Tina Kennard love scene, Bette Porter Tina Kennard love scene, Bette Porter Tina Kennard love scene, Bette Porter Tina Kennard love scene,

 

 

 

 


14 Comments

#4 Touch Tones: Kryptonite

Kit_Bette big smiles_ seated

Soundstage – Kit – 3PM

As I hurry behind the taillights of a limousine I’m nearly out of breath by the time I finally get inside the party. I do a quick 360 to look around me. Good Lord, when Bette came to see me earlier with news she was marrying Tina, and at three o’clock they were telling everybody, she didn’t describe anything like the size of this place. Not a word was mentioned about the scale of this venue, the movie stars I see standing by the side of the stage, or the hundreds of people all waving rainbow flags at one another. Little announcement, my ass. Sometimes I need a lie detector and a seatbelt to roll with these people.

Their sudden rises in altitude followed by their equally dramatic falls is what my sister and her friends do best. That or resemble a mangled freight train burning up at the crossroads. And unless I’ve just snapped out of a three-year coma, Bette and Tina act most days like they hate each other.

You blink and you can miss a year around here.

Coma or not, and daily it remains debatable if I’m losing my mind, I do know that my sister and Tina are crazy about their child, and as parents they’ll always be loving and unconventional. And every bit of that is good news to me. You just never know how some folks are going to be with their kids.

Just look at us. The human race is so fucked up. Eon after eon dumbass folk keep doing the same stupid things. And I’m plenty self-destructive. I’ll cop to that. Once, if you played me a real good sad song I’d finish the bottle with you. Fuck, who said anything about tomorrow?

When Bette was still young I had hit the road for the R&B Clubs between Kansas City, Detroit and Chicago. It was selfish of me, I admit it. But I swear to God I couldn’t take another second of Daddy’s stodginess. So, I left Bette motherless to grow up with the Methodists, and The Ten Commandments, and our overbearing father. I know it was complicated for her still brokenhearted over losing her mom. I saw it with my own eyes whenever I did drift back home.

And then for better or worse it became just how she was. Bette approached every one of her romantic relationships saddled with our Daddy’s wandering eye. Like the gallery owner she became she acquired the next one and then the next – each woman more interesting than the one before.

And that went on for years when finally after going through women like popcorn at a movie Tina had miraculously stayed. And it wasn’t too long after that I began to notice something: Tina was Bette’s Kryptonite.

At first I thought it was amusing as hell, and I had hidden behind faked fits of coughing just to cover over my trails. After a screed of over amped righteousness Bette would begin to feel the whammy of Tina’s Kryptonite. It was a switch only Tina had, and thank God, she wasn’t afraid to use it.

They’d exchange a look and something I never found the words for would pass between them. Then, they’d kiss each other like nobody’s business – whether anybody else was around them or not.

Someone really should sell tickets to this shit.

Bette_GREAT Kiss_Handbehind her headKiss

Limousine – Tina – 3 PM

I take another swallow of the brandy Claire poured me a moment ago. I know she hopes it will ease the gnawing uneasiness I can’t seem to shake. A nervousness that feels old, and clingy, and just won’t go away.

Maybe it’s because I haven’t had to manage Bette’s nerves that I’m feeling aware of my own so fragile and jangled. Until we drove inside the soundstage, and Bette got a look at the so-called, “wedding announcement” surprise Claire had in store for her, Bette had been uncommonly calm.

This staged event, in what I hope is not an overreaching of Claire’s, is brilliant from a PR point of view. My movie, our wedding announcement, historic gay marriage legislation, and the feminist icon, Gloria Steinem, all rolled into one. If I can get my shit together Bette and I will look nothing like the spoofs and impersonations of us in the movie. But now, even though I’m the one who started it, I’m finding it practically impossible to leave the bubble of this limousine.

What if I go up on stage with Bette and take her beautiful ring? Then like having a baby, something that was life changing and forever with her, it makes me lose my mind all over again?

Until recently, my life saving grace has always been my extraordinary ability to compartmentalize. In a box way, way down was where I’d kept the memories of those nights with my sister. When the seal to my secrets had been broken I’d fainted and whacked my head against the side of The Fortune Teller’s table.

I remember the last card I had drawn and turned over to her.

 

TheChariot

 

The Chariot

“There will come a time very soon with you, and the one you love, when neither of you can look away anymore,” the Gypsy had said. “You’ll know it because you’ll feel a great tension and a hundred things will be swirling around you.” And then, she had looked across at me with a warning. “To go forward together this is the moment for your union, Tina, and you can’t miss it.”

I let out an audible sigh inside the limousine and finish the last of my drink.

 

Bette_sincere_studio w:brother

I tune back into the conversation going on around me and hear Claire employing a well-placed piece of leverage with Bette who’s been having her own version of, “Do I stay or do I go?”

I smile at her reaction to Gloria’s personal message. With her on the stage with us, and Bette’s father looking down from a wiser place, Melvyn will absolutely bless this union of ours.

“God! She is so fucking right!” Bette exclaims before kissing me and throwing open the limo door.

Camera flashes temporarily blind me. There’s so much more I want to say.

Alice_Lesbo Land

Engagement Announcement – Alice in Lesbo Land – 3:05 pm

“Hey everybody! Whew! You’ll have to excuse me while I catch my breath. I’ve been running because the press conference for Les Girls,” I stop and pant a little as I point off to camera right, “we just shot for you outside. Now, we’ve set up again in a completely different spot. We’re actually coming to you from inside the big soundstage where shooting for the lesbian themed feature movie, Les Girls, began today. That’s right! The producer, Tina Kennard, confirmed that with me earlier.”

I stop and take a quick sip of water. “And so the excitement continues people because just wait for what I’ve got for you next.”

A beat in time passes before I continue. “Is Gloria Steinem someone you might like to hear comments from? About gay rights and human rights, and California’s freedom to marry legislation?” I shake my fists in a cheer.

Claire Vertical DarkGrey dress

Off camera Claire sends a signal for my attention. “Max is going to walk around with the camera and show you guys the movie sets and the crowd that’s gathered, and I’ll be back in a flash.” I unclip my mic and Claire whispers in my ear.

“I’ve been told they want to stop and talk to you before anyone else. As a thanks for what you did at Jenny’s yesterday, they insist that you are first.” Claire winks at me.

“Finally! And double friggin’ finally someone believes I can keep a secret.” I exhale with great relief.

“Okay, Alice. Bear in mind they have spent a considerable amount of money setting this into play, and the last thing they need is for this to go sideways.” Claire gives me her, “sexy but still plotting moves ahead” smile.

“But I’m still vetting you, Alice. What are your questions? Two minutes and two questions is what you get on their way to the stage.” Claire punctuates her fingers in a V for my two questions.

TinaBarebackKiss

Between the Limo and the Rope Line – Tina – 3:06 pm

“Babe, does my hand feel too sweaty for you?” I slow my pace and pull Bette back a little from walking toward the crowd.

“Warmer than usual more than anything, but I already know you’re nervous, T.” Bette whispers back through her unwavering smile.

“Do you remember how when I was trying to get pregnant? You would come home after work and sex me up?”

“Sex you up? Oh for the love of God, Tina, really? Are you fucking serious? You’re going to put that in my mind as we head into this thing.” She flashes me a stunned look.

“Well, it’s when we should’ve gotten married, Bette. I should’ve flown to Boston with you like you asked, and not been stubborn about it.”

“Maybe, but we’re doing it finally, and I hope really soon.”

I tug on her arm a little more to slow her down again. “Babe, I need to focus on something other than all these people looking at me. You stand in front of a classroom or a big lecture hall three times a week.”

“Trust me. This really couldn’t be more different.” Bette answers almost in a hiss.

“You have to kiss me like you would on those afternoons, Bette, because I can’t take another step without you.” I squeeze her hand and put her arm around me. “I love you so much, and also I’m a little afraid.”

Bette_Tina Early KIss for flashback

“About marrying me?” Bette asks with an anxiety that creeps in at the corners of her eyes.

“We are going to do it, aren’t we? I mean nothing is going to stop us. Is there?” I ask her.

“No, Baby, nothing is going to stop us,” she whispers before our lips meet and we fly back through the years.

Bette_Laughing studio brother

Engagement Announcement – Alice – 3:06 PM

We all have Rock star fantasies I realize as I watch Bette and Tina step out of their limousine and wave to the crowd. As camera flashes flicker on their faces I know I’d like to be exiting a limo right about now, and taking the stage with Gloria Steinem and her lovely smile. As I push Max with our camera toward Bette and Tina making their turn for the stage, I can absolutely picture it.

“You guys! What’s happening? I was out there at the press conference stage with the camera waiting for you.”

“Change of plans. Claire texted you and all the Press,” Tina answers as the crowd pushes closer. “Everything is moving a little fast for us right now, Alice.”

“Well, I can see that!”

“Hey, Max, are you guys rolling?” Bette asks and he nods that we are.

She turns up the wattage of her smile and holds Tina even closer. “Hello! Everybody we’re joining Alice in Lesbo Land inside the soundstage of Les Girls. I’m Bette Porter, Dean of Arts at California University, and this is Tina Kennard, the movie’s producer. I’m sure you’ve heard about her and the movie, Les Girls, from Alice.” Bette smiles as she looks at Tina.

“Tina’s my fiancée! And we’ve been invited by Alice to make a little Lesbo Land history and announce our wedding engagement to you before anyone else knows about it.” Bette shoots the camera an intriguing look.

Bette turns to Tina again. “Tina’s surprised me with a special guest. The pretty amazing Gloria Steinem is here!”

“Because I know how much you like surprises.” Tina beams back convincingly. “Gloria’s waiting for us, Babe.”

“Alice, no time for questions right now, but come on stage with us.” Bette reaches over and hugs me.

I honestly don’t know what to say to them at this moment so I stammer finally, “I really love you guys.”

Gloria.2 red curtain stage

Stage – Bette – 3:08 PM

As Tina and I wait in the wings by the stairs Gloria begins her speech.

“You know we may feel sometimes that good things take too long in coming. That we wait all too often and far too long for the meaningful changes we work so hard for. That’s so true, isn’t it? We do get weary of waiting, don’t we?” Gloria asks a crowd that responds with whoops and whistles.

She continues, “And yet we can never lose sight of days and moments like this one when we can all come together in celebration of something that’s so right! Legalizing same sex marriages in the State of California!” Gloria’s voice rises as the crowd rejoices and cheers.

“How many couples here this afternoon will get married now that you can?” Gloria asks as the crowd’s noise begins to die down. Then, a unifying cheer comes up as fifty couples raise their hands clasped together. Gloria turns to me and Tina and opens her arms in a warm welcome.

“Bette Porter and Tina Kennard, everyone!” Gloria signals our introductions. “Really great to see you both, and what an exciting day for you, Tina. Your movie sounds like a winner and now you can marry your longtime partner, Bette.” Gloria shakes Tina’s hand and then puts her arm around my waist.

“Bette’s father and I met during the Civil Rights Movement. We did some good behind the scenes work together back then.” Gloria nods at me.

“Daddy was very fond of you, Gloria.” I say not having the slightest idea if it’s true.

“Thank you for having us on stage with you.” I continue. “I was at Tina’s press conference, and I’m so excited for her. And now here you are!” I throw out my hands to present Gloria again to the crowd.

A wave of applause comes back to me. “They tell me that while you’re in town this afternoon you’ve volunteered to help me with something.” I intro our segue.

“As an old friend of your father’s, I’ll do anything I can to help you.” Gloria smiles at me and Tina.

I reach into my jacket pocket and take out the red leather Cartier box with Tina’s engagement ring. I crack it open so only Gloria and the people closest behind her can get a peek inside. She raises her eyebrows and mimes her approval. A collective swell of anticipation sweeps back to us as Tina acts her part – shielding her eyes from the ring, and playfully looking away.

“Tina,” I say seriously to draw her attention back to me while I hide the ring behind my back. “I know as Les Girls’ producer this is a wonderful day for you and the talented cast and crew of people you’ve assembled. And I want to say to you, and Gloria, and everyone out there that I’m so proud of you, and all you’ve done, and will do with your life, and your talent.”

Tina looks shy for a moment and the room grows quieter and much more still. I flash the ring in its box out at the audience again and they cheer me on. Taking a step closer to Tina I show her the ring inside.

“I bought this engagement ring for you, Baby. You do know that I love you with all my heart, don’t you?” I ask with the first catch of tightness and emotion in my voice.

Tina nods her head. I see the love she has for me in her eyes. “Then will you say, “Yes,” that you’ll marry me?” I take her left hand and I slip the ring on her finger. Her chin begins to quiver.

Gloria steps closer to us. “So beautiful, both of you,” she says softly. “And where your father is now, Bette, I’m sure is a place of greater wisdom, and that he’s happy for you both. Especially so for you, Bette.”

“I believe you. I think, I can even feel it.” I whisper back to her then raise my voice. “But Gloria and everybody wait! Tina hasn’t answered me yet.”

I look out at the hundreds of people who now begin to hold their collective breath. Max pans his camera slowly over the crowd. Me, them, Alice, Gloria, the mice that I’m sure live in here somewhere – we all take a deep breath and wait for Tina.

Her chin quivers a second or two more before she lifts up her ring to the crowd and says to me, “Yes, Bette Porter! I absolutely will!”

I send out a big smile of relief, and the crowd celebrates with me. “Kiss! Kiss! Kiss her!” They begin to chant and Gloria nods that she agrees. It just has to be.

I hold Tina close and whisper in her ear. “Baby, you start. Whatever kind of kiss you want I’ll follow. But for the love of God, don’t show them how much we both want a babysitter and to get the hell out of here.”

 

Chapter 5 of TOUCH TONES, the L Word inspired Season 7 will follow shortly. Thank you for reading and let me know how you liked this story.

Thanks always to Jacky at LesFan who hosts us there! You can follow them @LesFan.

@ModernLWord  has a hilarious Twitter feed.

@thelword_FPAGE & @foreverthelword each have great pics, links and amusing thoughts.
You can follow me @Blackbird_Write


19 Comments

#3 Touch Tones: The Ringer

 

Claire_with The Ringer
Sunday Night – The Sunset Grill

As I walk into the grill on Sunset I brush off the last bits of dust still clinging to me from my trip to the storage unit with Shane. Phase One of Claire’s plan is in motion and I hope to God she knows what the fuck she’s doing.

Before she notices my entrance I lean backwards slightly to stretch my muscles. After fighting with my unwieldy mattress and its swaying back and forth between me and Shane my back all the way up to my neck feels achy and tight. Shane was helpful and her body is very long, but it definitely took all my muscle to wrangle my bed into the van and then back out again. The door behind me opens and I step aside and hear Tina’s voice.

”So, how did it go after I left?” Tina asks as she slips her arm through mine.

”I counted to thirty at the bottom of the pool and as I was dripping into the house I caught Jenny out of the corner of my eye at her window. They definitely heard us.”

”And to think we used to talk to each other that way every day.” Tina sighs as she leads me to the meet the clean cut young man sitting in the booth with Claire.

”Bette, this is Josh Stanley from E News,” Claire introduces the reason I’m not under the head of a shower right now. ”Josh is also a blogger for Gay WeHo and PrideLA.com. We’ve worked on a few special projects together.”

”Special projects.” I repeat back with a lilting wonder if that’s PR code for Gay and Lesbian.

A waiter appears at the table. Tina looks at the chalkboard specials on the wall. ”Bette, what are you having?”

”We’re going to be here that long?”

”Babe, I’m hungry. Do you want anything?”

”Okay, Linguini and a glass of Chianti, really good Chianti.” The waiter nods. As Claire and Josh place their orders I whisper to Tina, ”Who is this guy? Can we trust him? I thought we were keeping a very tight ring around this plan.”

”Bette, you can absolutely trust him.” Claire says I suppose hearing me with her third ear. ”And what’s more we don’t want to try this without his help.”


13 Comments

#2 Touch Tones: The Handler

PR consultant for Tina

Malibu – Cocktail party – Bette

As Claire joins our impromptu announcement party, Helena and Shane do a slow orbit and rearrange themselves around her. Shane becomes a cool, attentive bartender while Helena finds the artwork nearest to the bar to feign interest in. Alice, always the extrovert, shakes Claire’s hand, and patters on about celebrities, and publicity as Claire nods and sips her champagne. The moment Alice stops to take a breath Claire’s attention drifts over to me. She extends her hand.
Bette_Tina_Happy_at restaurant

“So, this is who all the fuss is about. You.” Claire shoots me a look, letting me know she’s heard I can be the capital “T” in Trouble.

“Claire, Bette and I got engaged last night.” Tina beams at me again, then back to Claire.

“Bette Porter.” I shake Claire’s hand with something slightly warmer than my Dean Porter grip. “So happy you could join us, on such short notice.” I recall my delicious, but interrupted afternoon nap.

“Congratulations, to both of you.” Claire smiles genuinely. Then, straight to business. “But I gather some people might see this announcement as a time to burn you to the ground?”

I frown at the thought.

She looks at me. “Or is that too strongly phrased for you, Bette?”

“The situation is this,” Tina takes over. “The writer of the movie I’m producing for Shaolin Studios – that used to be Helena’s studio – well, that’s a long story. But parts of the movie – for your ears only – resemble parts of all of our lives.” Tina sweeps her hand to include everyone in the room. “And Bette and I are Jenny’s neighbors.”

I look down into my glass. “And we fought sometimes.”

“Did you hit each other?”

“God no!”

“That’s good to know, but there must be something you’re adamant about keeping buried.”

“It can’t be that daunting, can it?” I shout. “To give two people back their fucking privacy!” I throw my hands up in the air. “That’s all I want! Things back the way they were.”

Tina sends me a disbelieving stare.

Quickly, I try to course correct. “No! I take that back. Not the way they were.”

Claire looks confused.

Alice, sensing her moment, motions Claire over to a seating area. “You’re looking for a plan, right?”

Alice and Shane sitting livingroom

“Go on.” Claire sits across the couch from Alice and focuses on Shane. “Help me get the lay of the land.  What’d you think about your roommate? Do Bette and Tina have a problem with Jenny?”

“Well, there was that thing she did with Sounder, he died.” Shane offers.

Puzzled, Tina looks at me. “Died? Next door?”

I shrug. News to me. Then, I get furious. “How can Jenny know everything about us, and we remain clueless about even the smallest things?”

“He wasn’t small,” Shane adds.

I point my finger at Tina, “See! Now she’s back to men. Again! What do we know?! Nothing!”

Shane finishes her beer. “The dog, whatshisname, Jenny buried him in the flower bed.”

Tina’s mouth drops open slightly. All I can do is shake my head.

Alice rolls her eyes impatiently. “Aren’t we getting off topic? Maybe just a teeny bit?”

“Very far off.” Tina takes back the floor. “Claire, I’m the film’s producer and our studio PR people …”

“I know them, Byron and Sally.”

Tina presses her hands against her chest, and looks completely earnest. “And I like them both, I do. I’m just not getting good advice, or support from them.  I think they know the press are after any gossip or tidbits surrounding the cast or creators of Hollywood’s first big budget, lesbian movie, but I don’t get the feeling they’re working at all to protect me — only the stars, mainly Nikki Stephens.”

Claire adds it up. “And you got this very beautiful engagement ring last night, the press are showing up en masse on Monday afternoon. I get the timetable on all that completely, but what I’m missing is – what you two did, that you’re so embarrassed about?”

Alice butts in. “I suggest you start with how much fucking around you both did, and end with Angelica’s full blown custody battle.”

And with that outed, my eyes sail up to the ceiling.

“Anyone need a drink?” Shane pops up from the couch.

“God! Yes!” Helena answers for us all, and leaps to her feet.
Helena_HairLong_headcocked

But I look straight back into Claire’s eyes.” I had an affair – for like four days – and then Tina went off with her for awhile.” I point accusingly at Helena, who’s hovering by the bar. “Then Tina left her, thank God! Came to her senses, came home to me. Then, we had the baby we’d had planned for years.” I motion behind me down the hall. “She’s sleeping now, big day at the beach. Our daughter’s almost three.”

“I’m her Earth Mother.” Alice adds proudly and shows Claire a picture of Angelica. Claire flips through Alice’s phone.

Tina bites her lip. “Then, under the delusions of postpartum I had the crazy idea – I would be happier with a man, instead of Bette.”

Hearing Tina say it, still makes me mad.  “And at that point I went to WalMart, bought a six inch Bowie knife, and planned out — to the last detail — exactly how I was going to murder the guy.”

Claire studies me carefully. “Is that in the movie?”

No, Tina shakes her head.

Claire appears to calculate our sins so far. There’s cheating, but no slapping each other around. Well, there was that one time. There’s homicidal thoughts, at least on my end. There’s a hard to conceive baby that finally came, and a mostly dried up ocean of bitter feelings about who would’ve been a better parent to Angelica. The Court’s choice being: a sometimes bi-leaning toward gay film producer, or an outspoken, dyed in the wool, lesbian university dean.

And all of it sounds so stupid, and yet, if layered with sexy-sounding twists and turns, we could run for weeks — even months — as movie magazine headlines.

Suddenly, I feel sad and guilty, but mostly, ashamed all over again.

Alice wags her finger at me and Tina, “But the way they armed themselves for their child custody battle, you’d have thought oil royalties and Beverly Hills real estate was at stake.”

Joyce

“Joyce Wishnia sanely talked us down from that ledge,” I add.

Claire looks at me and Tina. “And why is all this is in the movie?”

“Excellent question!” I look at Tina. “Is it? Is Angelica’s custody battle in there, too? And weren’t you trying to get Bev and Nina renamed?”

“Those are her character’s names?” Claire looks astonished.

Tina answers, “It’s almost like….”

“She did it on purpose!” I fume.  “Are you kidding!”

“Why would a writer do such a thing?  On so many levels, it just seems wrong.” Claire looks at Shane and Alice for answers. Finding only shrugs she looks back at me. “What’d you think, Bette?”

“Me?” I leave the couch for the martini shaker. “She’s obsessed with us. Her life’s a constant wreck of ‘straight girl turning gay’ experimentation,  and she’s miserable. She can’t find love, and never will find love because she’s still at the stage of thinking: Fucking a lot means Love.”  I down half my drink and refill it. “She doesn’t have the first clue what it means to be with somebody.”

Then, I feel a gear, deep inside me shift, and I articulate much more calmly. “Jenny knows I deeply love, Tina. She knows we’ve always been in love with each other. She saw, apparently through her fucking windows, how torn apart we were for years.”

Then, Tina begins to cry.

“Would you excuse us for a moment?” I pick up two glasses, crook the neck of a champagne bottle between my fingers, and open the French doors to the deck. “T, put on a sweater and walk outside with me for a minute.”

“Excuse us, please, just for a second.” Tina follows me out to the deck.

Malibu Waves Night

The Beach – Saturday night – Bette

As I open the French doors nearest the ocean, Tina pulls her sweater tightly around her. Silently we walk down the steps to the beach. The sounds of the surf and the cool breezes coming off the sea revive me momentarily.

“I need to talk to you.” We simultaneously admit the same urgency.

Tina loops her arm around my waist and we walk closer to the water. “I’ll go first if that’s okay?” I nod in agreement as she continues. “I know I emotionally left you at least twice, and during some really, really shitty times for you, Bette.”

“It doesn’t excuse what I did though.”

“No, but I understand it, now. When I went temporarily nuts after the baby came, I didn’t come to you, either. I thought I needed someone else.”

“How could we have been so stupid?”

“Over and over.” Tina shakes her head.

“You know what?” I ask.

“What?”

“We have to get Jenny, and her dreadful characters away from us. I mean, for Christ sake we’ve spent enough time in hell, haven’t we?” I pour us each a glass of champagne. “I want to marry you, and be happy. That’s all I want. And I know we can make that happen.” I clink glasses with hers and take a delicious, long cold swallow.

Tina turns toward the ocean and leans back against me. I wrap my arms around her. “I love you so much right this minute,” Tina says. “Please promise me that if I ever go insane again you’ll be just as crazy? And lose your mind, and fight for me to come home? Will you promise me that?”

“A pledge to go bat shit? I can manage that.” I laugh with her. “I think you can count me in, T.”

“What should we do, Babe? You’ve just heard the recounting of what fucking assholes we can be.”

“But you know, Tina, it’s Jenny’s version that makes me want to eat broken glass. The way her story reads we sound so pathetic. Bev and Nina lack that heart wrenching pathos we had going.” I pull at my chest, and speak louder so the wind can’t whip my words away so quickly.

“I mean, that’s what made me so fucking miserable. So much so, that even though you were the cause of it,” I kiss her neck. “All I wanted was to be back in your arms.”

Ouroborous

“Like the Ouroborous.”

“Exactly, the Ouroborous.” I kiss her neck some more, and wrap my arms around her. “There was an inescapable nature to it. But I’ll never do it again.”

“Me either. Dating alone was enough of a penalty for being such a bitch to you.”

“T, you want to know what mine was?” I laugh as we turn to walk back to the beach house and our guests.

“Come clean, Bette. It’s only fair, don’t you think?”

“Jodie Lerner kissed like a Labrador retriever.” I laugh sadly. “I kid you not. Kissing her was unbelievably bad.”

“Babe, I find that astonishing.” Tina shakes her head. “How could anyone fuck up a kiss with you? You’re like The Kissing Grail.”

“Oh, well, that’s kind of you. But it must be us, and not just me, because I swear to God it was like slurping from a dog’s water bowl.”

“Okay, I’ve heard enough explanation! I honestly only halfway liked her, and she’s wasn’t into Angelica at all, was she?”

“Tiny bit. But she’s very hung up on herself. Very preachy, too.”

“Well, that was doomed not to work then.” Tina smiles at me as I push open the door.

“Oh, good. You guys are back. It’s time for a toast.” Alice says as she pops open a bottle of Veuve Clicquot.

Alice_Lesbo Land

Sunday – 6 pm – Alice

As I pull up to the curb in front of Bette’s house. I hope that after a day or two – and hopefully while the movie is still hot and on everyone’s mind – that Bette will to do a podcast with me, and that both of them will answer my growing list of burning questions.  Well, I am their wedding planner after all! But that interesting bit of news is still under wraps until Claire says, “Go.”

I see Bette out in front of her house wrestling with a long garden hose. “I know we’re suppose to be digging up our gardens and putting in freaky looking rocks that resemble meteorites instead of wasting water on plants, but I can’t stand it any longer. Everything is dying.” Bette turns on the nozzle spray and a halo of small rainbows appear as she waters her roses. Jenny comes into view for a moment next door in her window.

“Did you come to swim?”

“Sure, if that’s okay but I wanted to ask you about scheduling a podcast with me. How about tomorrow, Wednesday at the latest.” I follow Bette around the side of her house where we see more withering roses that need watering.  Next door, I hear a window slide open. “Are you alone?” I ask.

“Tina’s not dropped Angelica off, yet.” Bette jerks her head toward Jenny’s. “But she’s home. No idea where Shane is.”

“Special offer. I’ll buy you lunch at The Planet, and you do a quick podcast with me for my new blog.”

“Alice! How many times do I have to tell you! I’m not doing a fucking podcast with you, and talking about me and Tina and Jenny’s fucking movie. I’m furious about all of it. So, absolutely, no!”

Bette points her finger toward Jenny’s living room. “She can go fuck herself. And you,” she says as her finger suddenly stabs me back a step, then two, “and you are about to cross the line with me, Alice.”

“Well, Jesus! We’re friends for God’s sake! And it’s a movie kinda about all of us.” I raise my voice, and argue back with Bette. “You know that I’m trying to make Our Chart and Lesbo Land into something great and “Alice in Lesbo Land” is in need of a lot of hits. Please.” I plead my case.

“Is Jenny doing an interview with you tomorrow? Are you actually promoting that poorly conceived bullshit of hers?” Bette fumes at me. “That really pisses me off, Alice. Don’t give that bitch an audience for her hack job on all of us.”

Bette drums a jet stream against the glass of one of Jenny’s windows. “Have you lost your fucking mind, Alice? I think you should come back another time to swim. Just give me a break. Tina is coming over with Angelica at any moment. I’m tired. I have a headache, and a child to feed. Just go. Go somewhere else.”

Jenny Best White backgrd

Jenny’s House – Alice

After a few knocks I pace back and forth on Jenny’s small porch, and I wait for her to open the door. “Where’s Shane, Jenny? I really need to talk to her. And do you have a glass of water?” I push past her inside, and head for the kitchen. Through Jenny’s open windows I can see Bette continuing to water her garden.

“What’s wrong, Alice?” Jenny hands me a cold bottle from the fridge. “You’re hyperventilating.”

“What’s wrong is fucking Bette Porter. That’s what’s wrong.” I fume at Jenny. “I mean, I think everyone in your movie should be in a podcast with me. Why not try to make it fun? I mean it’s a movie for crying out loud! Entertainment! Hello?”

“She hates me doesn’t she? I think they both do.” Jenny rises up on her tip toes, and looks past me to Bette in her garden. “Tina tries to fake it with me at work, but I think she hates me, too.” Jenny pouts a little.

“Tina just pulled up.” I tell Jenny, as I hear a car door slam. We watch Tina walk into Bette’s living room. Geez, from here you really can see nearly everything that goes on over there.

“Don’t tell me you left her at The Planet again.” I hear Bette complaining to Tina.

“I had some shopping to do, and Kit was glad to see her.”

“Listen, my phone blew up an hour ago with interview requests about your fucking movie. I thought you were taking care of all that.” Bette walks out by her pool with a container of fertilizer. “Alice was just over here, too. Wanting a podcast! Listen! Tell everybody to leave me alone!”

“Ignore the calls. Just do what you always do.”

“Oh? And what’s that exactly?” Bette looks up at Tina as she measures plant food for her flowers.

“I know you have a problem with what I do for a living, and more specifically with Jenny’s fucking movie, but it’s my job, Bette. And it’s paying half of Angelica’s pre-K tuition at that place you insisted on in Beverly Hills – that costs a fucking fortune.”

“Oh, please, Tina. Not the money thing again.” Bette walks away from her. “So bourgeois, so bourgeois.”

“Bette, don’t talk to me like that.” Tina warns. “And listen, after the press conference at five I’m having drinks with a group from WME. The new VPs from Endeavor are flying into town. So, I need you to watch Angelica.

“Sounds tedious. All those William Morris types do is sell flesh. It’s repulsive to me.”

“Bette, can you be more fucking elitist? Jenny should have captured more of this snarky side of your personality instead of …” Tina stops as Bette dumps a gallon of fertilizer on her garden and falls backwards into her pool. Waves and bubbles break the surface above her and the red bucket bobs, and then begins to sink in the pool.

Tina waits for a ten seconds, then some more as Bette sits on the bottom.

“Jesus!” Tina exclaims and then storms back inside the house.

Jenny rolls her eyes up and says, “Ooops. But seriously, nothing new.”

“I’m texting Shane, now. I really need someone to drink with me tonight. Tasha is on some weekend long scrimmage training, or something or other.”

Jenny and I watch as Tina drives away, and slowly Bette walks across her patio dripping wet and then disappears inside her house.

Text from Alice to Shane:
“Where R U? I’m thirsty.”

Text from Shane to Alice:
“Burbank.”

Text from Alice to Shane:
“Why? Nvrmind.”

Text from Shane to Alice:
“Long story.”

Text from Alice to Shane:
“K. Call later.”

I jerk my head up when I hear a crash coming from inside Bette’s house. Jenny and I look at each other as Bette yells, “Fuck!”

“Yeah, right. Well, Alice about my interview with you tomorrow.” Jenny skips into her front room, and drapes herself dramatically across the couch. “My agents will have this special area roped off for me after the studio’s presser is over, so, can we do ours maybe, after they all leave?”

“You mean me last?” I squint at her ever so slightly. “How many are you doing tomorrow?”

“Maybe four maybe eight, not sure.” Jenny says as she twirls her hair.

“Uh huh.” I peer out to the garden apartment where Max lives. “I guess I can talk to Max, and see how long he can hang out with the camera. So, we’ll shoot your statements from the stage and then cut in your interview.”

“I’m not speaking on the stage. It’s a studio event and just Aaron and Tina are giving remarks. You know how studios are about writers. They treat us like shit, Alice.”

“Uh huh. Shitty enough so you bought a Porsche.” I walk over to the window. “Okay, finally!  Wait. What? Shane’s pulling up in some kind of moving van?” I watch as Shane trots up to Bette’s front door.

“What the fuck! I’m dying for alcohol over here.”

Jenny motions to the refrigerator, “There’s some wine in there, and a bottle of rum on top of the refrigerator. It’s Max’s, but go ahead.”

I take down the rum and put ice cubes and lime in a glass. “What the hell are they doing?” I ask as Jenny and I watch Bette and Shane struggle to push her king sized mattress and box springs into a moving van. With a mighty heave from Bette her bed finally slides into the truck. They disappear back inside.

“God, I never thought of that.” Jenny says as she goes over to her computer, and begins to type. I sip my drink and wait for the next phase of the unfolding show next door. Absorbed, Jenny taps away on her keyboard.

I hear a second crash and then more glass breaking as Bette throws the pieces of her bedside lamps into the trash bin, winks up at me, and walks back inside.

Text from Alice to Shane:
“WTF is going on? I’m @ur house watching Bette destroy her bedroom. What r u doing over there?”

“Tell Alice to mind her own Goddamn business.” I hear Bette calling through the windows, as she drops her blinds one by one around her living room. And before the last one falls she glares through the glass at me and says, “It’s called redecorating, Alice.”

“Wow.” Jenny looks up at me, her eyes somewhat glassy. “Their love nest is really no more. I know it’s a cliche but I have to make it a U-Haul.”

“Of course, you do.” I say before I swallow the rest of my drink and head for the door.

__________

Following very soon will be Chapter 3 of _TOUCH TONES_ The L Word inspired Season 7.

@ModernLWord is a very amusing Twitter Feed. I mean laugh out loud funny.

@thelword_FPAGE is another site for photos, news and other amusements.

 

#TheLWord, #tinakennard, #betteporter, The L Word Bette Porter, Tina Kennard, The L Word Bette Porter, The L Word Bette Porter, Tina Kennard,


16 Comments

#1 Touch Tones: After Midnight

Malibu Coastline_Night
 Malibu – After Midnight – Bette
 The moonlight casts a pale glow as it filters through the bedroom windows that overlook the Pacific.  I can count the beats of the tide as it steadily comes ashore.  My mind drifts out into the darkness of the dunes and then beyond them to feel between the waves.  Every moment a swell then a downward roll – my breath in sync with Tina’s, as she lies quietly on my shoulder.  I exhale a long sigh of relief.  An hour ago in front of the fire she had said she would marry me.

“Bette?” She stirs on my shoulder.

“Yes, right here.” I answer her the way I always do when I’ve flown off to the ceiling, and she gently calls me back.

Then, she catches my gaze with diamonds that flash. “I just opened my eyes, and there’s a beautiful ring from you on my finger.”

I hold her tighter to me for a moment.

“I can’t really believe it’s there.” Tina plays it back and forth on her finger.

“Baby, are you at all disappointed? I had planned to ask you to marry me so differently.  I don’t know what got into me.” I kiss the top of her head. “I just blurted it out in the middle of an orgasm.”

“Well, it wasn’t how I’d ever pictured you doing it. That I can promise you.”

“Do you want me to do it again?  Fly us somewhere? I’ll hold you in my arms, and ask you again on a mountain top?  I just can’t jump out of a plane.” I thread my hand through hers across my chest. “The dinner, the wine, the fire were all so perfect.”

Tina strokes my chest and settles back against my shoulder.  “Swept away?  But, in case you dream something else up, I’m keeping the ring. You’re not getting it back in the meantime.”
CartierRingStoryImage

Tina studies the ring on her finger.  “I was raised to want one of the these, you know, and for years I told myself I didn’t, but now I realize I’ve wanted to be married to you for a long time.”  Slowly, she kisses me.

Bette_Tina_in Bed_talking Story picture

“Really? Because it would be so embarrassing to return it.”

“Relax. You don’t have to.” Tina kisses my lips, again. “Did you have a date and a place in mind, Bette?”

“Hm.” I look in her eyes and wonder if I should know these answers. “I might.” I frown very slightly, as I try to think. “Why? T, do you?

“Not yet, mind if I think about it?”

“Be my guest.” I kiss her with a loving sense of my relief buried inside it.

Tina_Bette In bed Tina kissing Bette

Her leg slides between mine. “I’ve missed kissing you,” Tina says as she settles on top of me.

“You have no idea.” I moan, wanting her again.

“Have you given any thought to telling our friends?”

“Hm.” I kiss her longer and halfway think about our announcement. “Maybe. What thoughts do you have about it?”

“I see. This is another one of your big picture moves. One you’ll sort out the details of later?”

“Would that be so bad?” I ask and hope to God it’s not.

Tina stares at me for a second. “Bette, do not explode.” She places her finger across my lips. “Would you mind if I asked the advice of a PR consultant? I mentioned it at dinner. The hungry gossip writers are gnawing at the edges of Les Girls for anything that will drop out, and that means something like this.”

“Even if we have Alice abducted?” I offer.

Tina smiles at me. “Even with Alice abducted people are going to see this.”  She wiggles her ring in front of my eyes. “This is your timing after all.”

“Stories about us…hmm, will they help that fruitcake Jenny’s movie? Probably will, won’t they?”

Tina lets out a sigh. “It’s my movie, too. Everyone seems to forget that until it’s time to yell at someone. The best way to manage the press is to have someone get ahead of it, and craft a message about our engagement that is interesting to a point, but respects our privacy.

“Tina, if a media consultant will get the nauseating confusion of Bev and Nina away from us then, of course, I trust you to make the right call.”

A flash of aggravation sweeps across Tina’s face. “And frankly, that’s giving Jenny too much credit! She just journaled our lives and absorbed our most dismal moments like a nasty little black sponge that sat in a kitchen window next door to us.”

“I know you’re being paid to turn the most pathetic moments of our lives into a movie, but I can’t pretend to be happy about it.”

“Please don’t get pissed off.” She strokes the sides of my face.  “You’ve created such a beautiful evening for us.”  Her kiss rolls slowly across my lips, and up I float to the ceiling with the blue tones of midnight, wondering if we’ll make love again.

heart-shaped pancakes

Beach House – Saturday morning – Tina

As I lie back in bed with the coffee Bette and Angelica brought me a few minutes ago, I listen to a conversation between them occurring down the hall.

“You know I’ve brought you breakfast in bed many a morning, Angelica, and now we’re almost ready to take this tray into your Momma T for her turn.”

I hear more pans rattling, and finally the clink of china, and very soon Bette appears in the doorway with two red lacquered Chinese breakfast trays. Angelica runs from beside her, and climbs steadily up into the bed to sit with me.

“From us!”

I sprinkle the heart-shaped pancakes with blueberries and pour maple syrup over them, as Bette stretches her long body, and yawns contently next to me.

I’ve tried to block out so many regrets, and try not to think about the missing years, but one thought lingers with me this morning.  Is this the first time we’ve ever done this since our baby, now a small child was born?  Lazed around in bed on Saturday morning eating pancakes?

Bette leans in for a syrupy bite. “Very lucky finding the heart-shaped pancake maker in the kitchen. It determined everything.”

“I would’ve been just as happy with one of your famous omelets.”

“Baby, my Saturday morning omelets for you are about,” she lowers her voice to a whisper, “seduction. Hearts with syrup are from your family”  Bette points out the window to the seashore. “They mean we leave the bedroom today.”

“I’ll be ready for the beach, when you both are.” I make another baby pancake bite for Angelica.

“An article I read said when you make a list of things you want to do, and change don’t overload yourself with really hard things. With that advice I wrote, ‘Learn how to cook on my list’.”

“That I still am coming to grips with.”

“But you see how good I am it, don’t you?”  She smiles as she tastes a pancake. “You see, with cooking it’s planned out. It’s timing, it’s strategy. Oh, and most of all,” she points to the blueberry covered heart shaped pancakes, “it’s presentation. All things I’m very good at.”

“I’ve missed this, Babe.  Missed you.”

She takes a long sip of coffee but it doesn’t hide the emotion in her voice. “There were so many bad things happening.  So many things I had no idea how to stop.” Her eyes drift out over the ocean.

I reach over Angelica’s head and stroke the side of Bette’s cheek.  She turns back from gazing out at the sea and looks at me with so much love in her eyes.

Malibu_;iquor store

Four hours later – Bette

Tina shook me awake from my pleasant post luncheon nap, pushed me under the shower, pulled me out again, and sent me up the coast a mile to the liquor store. Apparently, we’re having a cocktail party in an hour. Jesus! I was only asleep for ninety minutes at most!  When did we decide to throw a party? We didn’t.

My cart squeaks along the vibrantly colored aisles of Malibu Mike’s Liquor Store, and Frank Sinatra croons a romantic tune through the speakers. Row after row of bottles, their sherbert colored labels next to the blood red waxed necks, make me feel woozy for a moment. I stop my cart in front of shelves of vodka, and stare across at the clear but mind-altering liquid, and contemplate: How quickly things change.

Last weekend I was in Big Bear being tossed into a freezing lake, and wishing I could take the nail gun, I saw in Michelangelo’s mudroom, to everyone – including myself. I cannot reconcile the vast dimensional shift, so I put two bottles of Absolut vodka in my cart instead.

Aside from the hangover I know I’ll have tomorrow, the thought of getting a little drunk tonight begins to amuse me as I drive back down the coast. I inhale the rich sea air. If Tina wants to announce our good news, and share part of our evening with our friends, I should be happy about it, and then suddenly I am.

Charlie's Angels spoof

“Where’s Tina? I felt summoned, man.”  Shane looks around the beach house.  “And I have plans at ten, but I’m cool for a few hours. What’s up?” She leans into the refrigerator in search of a beer.

I open my mouth to speak, but Alice cuts in, “There’s no broken furniture, no bruises, no one’s crying –  I’m curious, too.” Alice shoots me a quizzical look.

“Helena is anyone – I don’t know – maybe like the Feds looking for you? What are you out on bail, an escapee?”

She smiles obliquely.  “There was money exchanged, and I’m somewhat reformed.”

I laugh to myself and sip my martini.  Before she got sent away Helena was a very good spy for me with news of Tina visiting a Gypsy Fortune Teller, or buying a vibrator in my absence, and speak of the devil.

Tina sweeps into the room, picks up the martini I made for her, and leans into me for a kiss.

Bette_Tina_Happy_at restaurant

Alice stops talking, Helena turns away from a Warhol print on the wall, and Shane looks up from stoking the fire, when they see us so happily back together. Then, with a lovely sense of fanfare, Tina holds out her left hand, and shows off her engagement ring.

“I have literally dreamed of this night! I know that sounds stalkery and crazy.” Alice picks up the martini shaker, and gives herself one last good splash.

“Congratulations, guys.” Shane puts her arm across my shoulder as Helena joins us to admire Tina’s ring.

“It is so beautiful, Tina.” Helena shoots me a sly smile.

“I’m marrying her as soon as I can.”

“Whoa, wait a minute!” Alice looks at Tina. “Not as soon as you can.” Then, back to me again. “Bette, there are plans to be made.”

Shane and I walk over to the fireplace together, and lean against the mantel. “This is right for both of you, especially you.”

“You saw too many of my close calls.” Shane nods her head and looks away into the fire.  “I am so ready.” I look behind at Tina smiling at me over Alice’s shoulder as they embrace.

The doorbell rings, and Shane leaves to let our next guest in.  “You’re expecting Kit, right?”

PR consultant for Tina

“Hi. Tina called me.”  A blonde woman standing in the doorway smiles at Shane and past her into the room where she catches my eye. “I was on my way out to a party, but Tina begged me to stop by. Something about she’d make it worth my while, and you’d uncork my favorite champagne?”

“So not Kit.” Shane walks backwards away from the door. “Come in, and I can definitely help you with that drink. I’m Shane, by the way.”

“Tina?” I look at her for answers.

“Everybody, this is Claire Reilly, and she’s here to help us.” Tina raises up two fingers to count them off. “First, she’s going to blaze a clear trail from one side of our wedding announcement, all the way to the other. And two,” Tina points her second finger toward me, “Claire’s being given whatever access I can provide to keep an eye on Jenny Schecter should she try to leak anything and steal our moment.”

Alice looks skeptical. “The press conference announcing the first day of shooting is Monday, right? That’s two days from now.”

Claire takes a flute of champagne from Shane. “My father did press relations for the Clinton’s when I was young, and I started out handling rock musicians.”

Leaning against the mantel, I begin to form a picture of what’s ahead.  “Well, just wait until you meet, Jenny Schecter.” .

_________________

Stay tuned for more of my L Word inspired vision of Season 7.
The story collection preceding this one, _WeHo: Behind the Scenes_, has the chapter, “Malibu” that this story, “After Midnight” comes immediately after. “Touch Tones” picks up immediately after I finished the last chapter in WeHo.

@ModernLWord is a very amusing Twitter Feed. I mean laugh out loud funny.

@thelword_FPAGE is another site for photos, news and other amusements.


9 Comments

Fit for Battle – Bette Porter and Tina Kennard

Bette_XtrmCU_B&W

Bette’s Office – Bette

“Tina, I need a goddamn name.” I pace back and forth behind my desk and shout into my cell phone. “Tell your publicity people I’m coming over there and ripping every goddamn tattoo I see off their fucking arms until they help me get those pictures off the Internet.”

I hear James’ voice on the intercom. “Bette, it’s that reporter again from the gay press in Austin.”

“Why don’t your PR people care? Gossip bloggers are framing Lez Girls as a lesbian wrestling movie with me as its star!” I vent in disbelief.

I slap the button on my desk phone. “James! For tenth Goddamn time tell him to fuck off!”

I continue my tirade with Tina. “Just because you’re unrecognizable face down in that woman’s crotch you and your movie aren’t exposed? That’s actually Shaolin’s position?” I ask incredulously.

“At least you had your shirt on.” Tina says over the phone.

“What? As if that matters!” I stop dead in my tracks and look at the phone in disbelief. “Tina, okay, sorry I’m shouting. You just cannot believe the looks I’m getting around here! First, it was the fucking snickers and leers when Jenny’s book came out. Now this! So much worse,” I say inconsolably, “much, much worse.”

“I know it looks bad for a dean, for you. I don’t know what to say.”

Outside my office the phone rings again.  James engages our intercom. I beat him to the punch. “James, if it’s that She Beast bottom feeder from TMZ calling back tell her I’m on my over there with the lawyer who ruined her fucking father!”

“Bette, it’s Joyce Wishnia. She says she put Phyllis on the plane to Chicago. Do you want me to take a message?” James asks.

“God! No! James, find when and where I can meet her today, tonight, anywhere, anytime. Just get me a meeting with Joyce!”

“Bette, what are you doing with Joyce?” Tina asks with a note of suspicion in her tone. Little wonder, Joyce was either our hammer or the nails into each other before we came to our senses.

“What do you mean? Of course, I’m paying her to get the photos of me off the internet! Tina, are you not aware that I’m smack in the middle of a major fundraising campaign? The timing couldn’t be worse. It just couldn’t be worse.” I sigh wretchedly .

“I didn’t see anyone else at the club, did you?” Tina asks.

“I saw no one else while we were there except, Alice.” I stop pacing as a clammy chill creeps up my spine. “Tina,” I ask deadly serious, “Alice wouldn’t, would she?”

“Noooo! I can’t imagine it, Bette. And don’t call her up and accuse her, or even ask. There’s something called metadata linked to everything posted. Ask Joyce’s forensic guys. They’ll know what it is and how to understand it.”

“Well, I know what it means in Latin. It means “beyond the facts” and if it can lead me straight to the little motherfucker that’s doing this then it’ll be supra-data.” I lean over my desk and make a note, “metadata” and then stash it in my purse.

“Bette, I’m walking into a meeting, the first Table Read with the cast, and of course, Jenny’s here.”

“Does Kate come to things like that?” Bette asks forgetting her other concerns for the moment.

“Kate’s not here.”

“Good. Goddamn this mess. Okay, okay, bye.”

Tina_Phone_ArmLifted_Movietrailers

 

Shaolin Studio Back Lot – Tina

As I hang up the phone with Bette I see how many text messages and emails I’ve got to answer. Things are starting to pile up on me and it worries me that Angelica has had nothing but stressed out Moms for the last few days. Oh, I’m so fucking kidding myself. It’s been for her whole short life! It never stops and for the next thirty-three days of production I can’t see myself being chilled out anytime soon. Maybe when Bette goes to Big Bear with Jodie. Maybe then I’ll have a day with Angelica and can swim and lie out by the pool. Even two hours would be welcome. Just two hours of not being around nearly hysterical, overly stressed, head-tripping women. Jenny has taken me over and beyond my limit.

I see one of my texts is from her new assistant, Adele, who’ll be worth her weight in gold if she’ll keep Jenny from disrupting my life even more.

“Pls U be there in 15 with Jenny. C U South Lot conference room.” I text Adele as I walk down the long line of production trailers and nod and wave good morning to the growing numbers in our movie crew. I think about Bette taking off soon for Big Bear. A weekend trip I do and don’t want her to take.

I couldn’t believe my luck when she told me over the phone yesterday that she was staying in a house built by Jodie’s best friend, Michelangelo, whose sobriquet had gotten on Bette’s nerves already. And it should because – and I didn’t tell her – but I’ve met the apish grinning, Michelangelo before. There can’t be two of them, even in Los Angeles.

It was years ago when I lived in Santa Monica and he used to bounce into the arts center off Michigan Ave when he was in town. His facile friendly way and cheesy anti-urbane manner of speaking Bette will see through and hate on sight. And if he’s still not bathing regularly that wind will waft unpleasantly around her, too. I laugh to myself. Bette has a nightmare weekend ahead of her and just when she could use some clean mountain air and a few good long walks along with all the other things we used to do whenever we went up there. Nope, instead she’s got Michelangelo and Jodie.

I hop up the three short steps into an unassigned production trailer and kneel down to check the small fridge for cold water. It’s unseasonably hot and it feels like earthquake weather. Even thinking that makes me nervous. I push the thoughts of tremors and wanting a Xanax from my mind.

big bear

I take a long sip of cool water and scroll through my messages. In Big Bear we always stayed in log houses with incredible views from the master suite’s bedroom windows. I shake my head and smile at the memory. It was late one afternoon way up a mountain pass, miles away from easy restaurant take out, when I first realized Bette had no idea how to cook.

We’d been lazing by the fire drinking wine when my stomach had growled.

“Did you like the omelet I made you for breakfast? Say the word and I’ll make you another one for dinner.” It was then I realized: If I didn’t want more eggs I was done for.

I sit down on the couch inside the empty trailer and put my head in my hands. How many times can I fall in love with her? Two, three, or four times? And which one is this? Two or three? Or is it the same one and now my head is clearer? Or is it?

The sharp edges of the trailer’s counter tops catch my attention and my Gypsy scar itches. I rub it against the cushions behind me. Going in and out of trailers all day long I can’t help myself. I think about Allsweld. And wouldn’t you know it? Nikki Stevens, the film’s star? A dead fucking ringer for my long dead cousin, Lucy. It’s just right in my face again and again all day long. But I had to cast Nikki. There was no way around it. Every time I look at her I control my urge to vomit. I let out a jagged sigh. Bette doesn’t know about Nikki either.

I remember a time during a winter holiday that I had lied to Bette about my jagged scar. We were by the fire on quilts and Indian blankets in that incredible big log house up on Big Bear. And it’s not that she hadn’t mentioned it as she’d licked past before, but I’d always been quick to deflect the need for an answer with a sigh or a lick of my own, but that afternoon – with the stillness around us, the quiet mountain air outside dampened by the snowfall, the long stream of delicious red wine she had poured into crystal goblets – she had lulled and enraptured me. I’d hesitated when she’d asked.

I remember deeply loving her, and the fire, and her body everywhere all over me and so warm against my skin. I’d almost told her the truth but that horrible story – it would have completely broken our beautiful moment. That’s what that cursed scar does. It kidnaps me.

I’d distracted her and fed her grapes and told her I loved her until I’d put the bowl away and had shown her instead.

Bette_passion in bed. Story image

 

I don’t mind a good blow-by-blow recap after a particularly great night in bed. Maybe finish off the wine and get in the mood all over again. And she’s absolutely used it with great effect to do exactly that. But every once in awhile she’ll become obsessed with talking about orgasms. I don’t know what the fuck gets into her. But more than once I’ve had to blow out the candles and put the pillow over my head and yell, “Quit! I can’t talk about this anymore. You’re wearing my fucking mind out!”

And now, in my first movie in a long time I’ve got Nikki Stevens who’ll forever remind me of Lucy’s death and now, Bette knows almost everything.

I wonder if I know all her secrets? Oh God, I don’t want to hear anything else, swallow anything I can’t take. It’s as if this next time with her if we ever do try again feels mined with dynamite and front loaded with angst and what’s beneath it all – the dark potential has dawned on her, too. I see it in her eyes all the time now: The fear that if we ever fail each other again how could we continue on as a family?

Devastation.

I’ve been there. I know how it feels when we hate each other. One of us would have to move and far, far away and that would be a disaster for Angelica. A snow globe image suddenly pops into my head of us frozen in time. My mind shakes it and a blizzard swirls around us. For just a few minutes more I want to remember the snowfall at Big Bear, the snaps and fizz of the fire, and her body all over me.

Joyce’s Office – Bette

I sit across from her polished wooden desk. “Are those little red T Rex dinosaurs on your tie, Joyce? That’s a little aggressive even for you, don’t you think?”

“T Rex? No, I don’t think so. Kangaroos, little tiny kangaroos I think Phyllis said. She just gave it to me earlier before she flew off to Chicago.” Joyce flips the yellow gold tie back down to her chest. “And she knows about the hot oil wrestling pictures, Bette.” Joyce shakes her head, sad for me.

“And what have you thought of? How can we stop this?”

Her voice gets cautious and serious. “Well, I made some calls on the way back from the airport and there’s the long way, that’s the legal way -all the ‘i’s’ dotted and all the rest to end up in court and sue them for lots of money – that’s if they have any.”

“And?”

“And there’s an article in this magazine you might want to read to yourself while I pour us a drink.”

I open the Tech Today magazine and see a note, “Hacker. Very fast. $6000 everything wiped clean” and a phone number. I let out a lilting whistle at the price. I don’t have time for a second job! Christ! My expenses are endless stairs to a roof I can eventually jump off as a broken woman!

“If you want to read the magazine Bette take it with you and here’s a phone. Only use it to call. If you don’t want to “read” the magazine put it back on my desk and I’ll explain our route through the courts. Meanwhile your picture stays up.”

“This is your best Scotch, Joyce. What other fees aren’t you telling me?”

“Bette, we’re just having a drink together. I’m in love. Your constant missteps for some reason this afternoon amuse the hell out of me, and I want you to kick your heels off and tell me how lucky I am to be madly in love with your boss, Vice-Chancellor Phyllis Kroll.” Joyce leans back in her leather chair and drinks deeply.

“I can do that for you, Joyce.”

 

Bette_hairBackSmilingAtCamera

“Thanks, Bette, and you’re coming to my party for Phyllis tomorrow night, I hope?”

“Yes, Kit’s planned a beautiful party. Great big flower arrangements, all of Phyllis’ favorites and we’re all coming – even Alice.”

“That’s no surprise. Alice, I take it, hates to be left out. But I gotta hand it to her, I heard how she handled Phyllis’ whimpering, crying husband.”

“The one you were suing for her but now you’re not?”

“That’s the one! And all because of you, Bette. Never took you for a matchmaker, though. Don’t know why. Well, actually I do.”

“What do you mean?”

“Take a long end of the dusty trail drink with me, Bette.” Joyce winks and waits as I lift my glass. I swallow a burning stream of Scotch and feel the tingle and buzz along little arcs of nerves under my eyes.

“What you and Tina had was a match, Bette. You saw it, but it was my job to break you into a million pieces and take the money from your bank. You should have hired me first!”

“Between my recent trip to New York and Angelica’s tuition, now these pictures of me all over the web! I’m looking at a second mortgage all of a sudden.”

“If you were single? Bette, I know you want them down but…” Joyce looks at me with amazement and then whistles, “Has your phone been ringing off the hook all day?”

“Journalists or the barest definition of the word. I’m not answering any numbers I don’t recognize.” I look at my phone and see forty-three missed calls and way over fifty percentage from LA area codes.

“I’ll bet you a thousand dollars right this minute if you play your voice messages that over half of them are going to be women with all kinds of other questions and trouble for you.” She tops off our drinks and winks at me as she spins around her computer screen with a picture of me leaning over an oil slicked blonde in a gold bikini taking pleasure in twisting her wrists back in pain.

Joyce slaps an affirming smack against her desk. “As I said, Bette, you amuse the hell of me this afternoon. Everyone of those women who called you.” Joyce lets out a huge and boisterous laugh. “They want you and will fucking beg you tie them up. Thank God for you Bette! I’m in such a fantastic mood!”

_____________________

The next chapter is titled, The Lucky Ones. Bette goes to Big Bear with Jodie and dreams of escaping. Kit is robbed at The Planet and Bette arrives home. At the SheBar opening she and Tina have a powerful reuniting moment.

 

Drop a comment if you wish. We love hearing from our readers. It’s easy to do here or on Twitter @Blackbird_Write.

We have a great FB page, too. http://www.facebook.com/lwordbehindthescenes

More Bette Porter, Tina Kennard, L Word stories coming soon.