Matt knew that the cover of Hush-Hush wasn’t exactly what Metro had meant when they stipulated that he must be photographed, each week, with at least one starlet or up-and-coming actress. As the spotlight blinded both Tammy and him, he knew the studio would at least be happy that this hadn’t occurred the previous night when he had been with Pete Miller – doing a lot more than giggling at the haze surrounding the Christmas tree lights. Still, Metro wanted their stars to be clean-cut and all-American; relatable to the adoring public if only as an ideal to which everyone aspired, though no one ever reached.
Matt was less likely than most to ever reach that ideal. He had tried to fuck the fairy right out of himself by screwing all the available women in Weir – the town wasn’t what it had been when his Pa had settled there but he had still cowboy’ed up and slept with a good number of young, objectively attractive women. But some part of Matt had always known that he could have slept with all the women in Kansas, and he would still have been as queer as a three-dollar bill.
He needed to do anything he could to get back in Metro’s good graces, get back to building his career out here in the lights, but right this minute, he really needed to pay his bills. So when that asshole Sid Hudgeons called and promised him an easy hundred bucks – “Dress sharp kid, real sharp, and get those cock-sucking lips ready.” – Matt figured he’d done more for less. He’d slept with women to prove he wasn’t queer so he could suck a guy off to pay the bills. Hudgeons had even paid for his dinner and guaranteed that Matt wouldn’t show up in his magazine again. Free dinner, a couple of months rent, and never showing up in that rag again? Matt couldn’t really pass up this opportunity.
There was a bright side to this job, an opportunity. Matt comforted himself by the fact that he didn’t think he would have accepted the job without it. He would be meeting Hudgeons and the guy – Ellis, Hudgeons had called him – at a party on the set of Badge of Honor, so he hoped he could catch someone’s eye, get his Big Break and he could call this Hudgeons’ job off. He could already see his name on the screen: Badge of Honor … starring Brett Chase and Matt Reynolds.
He liked that. He’d come out here chasing fame, money, and power but found, when he was completely honest with himself, all he really wanted to do was act. He wanted the opportunity to be a different person any day of the week, put in an impossible situation but finding a way out, or at least a silver-lining. Reality so rarely presented anyone with an opportunity for a happy ending, or even a happy-right-now, that he couldn't resist the lure of being paid to embrace such a world. Matt recently realized he was chasing the Hollywood Dream as much for money and fame as for the insulating optimism that it sold, that he had bought into. This party, this job, this could be the beginning of everything for him.
He grabbed his keys and took one last look in the mirror, surprised to find a blinding grin staring back at him, before he walked out the door, feeling light-hearted for the first time in weeks.