by Nicole Clevenger

When his Uncle Lonnie died, Peter Dragon was getting a blowjob from Angelina Jolie.

Not the Angelina Jolie, but a young wanna-be starlet look-alike eager to make a good impression on a particular Hollywood producer. Another girl fresh off the bus from Idaho or the capital of Where-The- Fuck-Ever, looking to put in a little extra audition time on her knees behind his desk. He hadn't been the one to suggest it, but he felt confident that Jesus himself wouldn't have been able to refuse such an offer emerging from those swollen lips.

Lips which, as it turned out, wrapped nicely around his own swollen body part. It wasn't difficult at all to pretend it really was Jolie's mouth doing all those clever things to his delighted dick, especially with his eyes half closed. Those lips were as soft as he'd imagined (as if he were the only person in that town to ever whack off to a "borrowed" headshot in the privacy of his own home), and that thing she was doing with her tongue could teach Wendy a thing or -

Oh, yeah, Angie... bet you like that better than Billy FreakyBob Thor- oh, christ... yeah, Angie baby...

One of the most beautiful women in Hollywood on her knees in his office. One of the women at the top of nearly everyone's Lust List sucking Peter Dragon's dick like it was the next best thing to Oscar gold, and he was so close, right at the edge watching her mouth sliding over his skin with that familiar tingle growing in his balls as her head bobbed up and down over his lap faster faster until he couldn't hold back another fucking second and -

- some asshole started pounding at his door.

The startled girl jerked away, cracking the back of her head against the desk as he came. Good fucking thing he'd had the foresight to take off his pants, or he'd be sending Stuart on an emergency trip to the dry cleaners about now. He opened a bottom drawer to reveal an almost-full box of Kleenex, rushing to clean up before the (soon to be fired) asshole still knocking outside ending up putting a fist through the locked door.

"I'm coming, goddammit," he snarled. The girl on the floor snickered, rubbing the back of her bruised skull. Peter shot her a sour look, and she shut up as he pulled on his pants. The frantic knocking, however, continued.

He zipped his fly and gave his tie a straightening tug before opening the door to DragonFire's Vice President of Production. Had he been paying more attention, he would've noticed the alarming pallor of Stuart's face under the flush across his cheeks. Actually - had he been paying more attention - he would've noticed other things, too. Like the way Stuart was breathing heavily, as if he'd been running through the offices. The way his other hand - the one not caught in the knocking act - was clenching and unclenching, shaking. The fact that Stuart's tie was undone, his collar open, in the middle of work in the middle of the afternoon.

Peter wasn't paying more attention. He was too busy being furious.

"This better be important, Stuart," he said, crossing back to the desk and leaving Stuart to close the door behind himself. "This better be Drew Barrymore Standing Over Tom Green's Body with a Gorey Hatchet fucking important, because -"


For a moment his mouth stuck half-open, silenced in mid-sentence by his name. Not that the other man had said it, but the way he had said it. Quiet. Firm. Very un-Stuart like.

Peter's eyebrows rose as he turned back toward the other man. "Stuart?" he asked, making the two syllables stretch with more than a little sarcasm.

"Peter, maybe you should sit down."

His eyes reflexively went the direction Stuart indicated, the plush guest chair that he'd dropped a full inch lower than his own on the other side of the desk. Not enough for anyone to notice, not consciously - just another tiny play in the grand scheme of the big Hollywood game. He never sat in that chair.

He looked back to Stuart. "And maybe you should stop saying my name and tell me what the fuck is going on." He started to turn away. So what if there was some headache to be dealt with, some End of the World problem they needed him to solve. He was still pissed at the shattering of a perfectly good fantasy. And a fantastic fucking blowjob.

"Peter... Lonnie's dead."

He froze. Every inch of him, inside and out, just stopped for a moment.

He heard himself growl the words before he realized he was even moving his lips. "That isn't funny, you little prick."

"God, do you really think I'd -" A pause, a breath. Somewhere just behind his shoulder. "It's not a joke - Lonnie's dead. I...I'm sorry."

Sorry. Sorry, sorry... The word bounced around the inside of his brain, bulldozing through any attempts to shape a coherent thought. Echoing until it nearly had a rhythm of its own. Sorry sorry sorry Sorry sorry... Dead.


He was reaching for the edge of the desk, but couldn't seem to find it with his fingertips even though he knew it was right there. Like some kind of sick optical illusion pretending at solidity, his fingers swiped twice for the hard wood and managed to miss both times. Then someone grabbed his arm, and the world narrowed to the pressure of a hand on his bicep. His eyes fell, focused. Stuart's hand.

Stuart's hand, steering him into that chair. And damn if he didn't notice the extra inch he had to bend to sit down, even as he let himself be guided. Stupid fucking chair. He tried to get up, an aborted half-motion stopped by Stuart's hand on his shoulder. Stupid fucking hand.

Peter slapped the offending hand away. "Don't you fucking touch me, Stuart."

Stuart moved like he was going to put the hand back where it had been, but then dropped his arm. And, with that simple action, all the anger drained out of Peter like water circling down the drain.

"What happened?" he asked. Quietly, eyes on the carpet. Afraid to know the answer, even as he sat there thinking that none of this could possibly be real. Afraid to know the answer, because that just might make all this real. Might even somehow make it worse. Everything felt so still, as if even the air in the room had congealed into a sticky solid mass.

His ears were ringing faintly, and it was annoying as hell.

He could tell that Stuart was shifting his weight just by watching the tips of his shoes, and he could almost picture the look on the other man's face. Almost, because nothing was coming through very clearly at the moment. Even Lonnie's face, when he tried to focus on it in his mind, was distorted. An image just out of focus, blurry in whichever spot he picked to look. Unexpectedly, he found himself with the desire - the need - to go find Lonnie and look at him, to commit his face to memory. It was a want so suddenly tangible that it felt like a lump in his throat; Peter had no choice but to swallow hard when it suddenly occurred to him that he couldn't. Never again.

Because Lonnie was Dead.

Stuart was still shifting. "Someone's on their way up... a police officer... to tell -"

That brought his head up fast; it seemed as if not all the anger was gone after all. "Goddammit, Stuart, I don't want to hear what happened from some fucking cop. Just tell me. You. Now."

Stuart wouldn't look him in the eye. The floor, the ceiling, the window... but not him. "Well, uh... He was sleeping on the couch downstairs - or, at least, they thought he was sleeping..."

"Here? He died here?" Peter wasn't sure if that made it better or worse. Then he wasn't sure if it mattered at all.

Stuart nodded, still looking away. His hands were in his pockets now, shoved in deep and ruining the line of his suit. "Sarah went to wake him up, and, well -"

Another knock at the door, this one far less insistent. For just a moment, Peter indulged in the fantasy that it was Lonnie, come to tell him that it really was all just a joke. That big smile and a Can't Believe Ya Fell For It slap on the back, leaving him feeling like a schmuck but too thrilled to really be pissed off. Oh, he'd have to do a little posturing to save face - maybe throw something heavy at Stuart just for appearances' sake - but in this tiny dream he was so happy to have Lonnie back that he'd break out the goddamned good cigars from the box in the locked cabinet and probably even invite Stuart to join them. Probably.

He realized Stuart had gone to answer the door only when he heard it open and noticed that he was staring at empty space. Peter blinked and turned to see a tall woman in a dark police uniform following Stuart into the room.

She nodded to Stuart. "Mr. Glazer." Then she looked to Peter. "Mr. Dragon. I'm sorry for your loss. I'll try not to take up too much of your time."

Peter didn't answer, just watched her come further into his office. He wondered if they had a script for this sort of thing, something thick with scribbled margin notes that got handed to them their first day on the job. Or maybe just a pamphlet, with Dos and Don'ts neatly bulleted in an easy-to-read font. With those stupid fucking cartoon illustrations running all over the page.

Do: Be compassionate and courteous. Do: Make eye-contact to reinforce the appearance of sincerity. Don't: Laugh (with graphic of cartoon officer engaged in full belly laugh, complete with cartoon tears of glee springing from cartoon eyes), chew gum, insult the deceased or the surviving relatives...

"...Miss? Sorry, you are...?" the officer was saying. To the girl who was peeking her head up over the top of Peter's desk.

Stuart's jaw dropped; Peter rubbed his eyes with one hand. Not- Angelina quickly stumbled to her feet, and Peter was the only one in the room who didn't notice that her blouse was buttoned crooked, starting from the bottom. Her fingers darted to the buttons as if to fix them, but she thought better of it in lieu of seizing her opening to finally escape. Clutching her purse to her middle, she made for the door as fast as her dangerous heels would carry her.

"Um... I was just leaving," she mumbled. The overused line of movie dialogue was nearly lost in her rush to get out of the office.


Peter watched the casket being lowered into the ground through the comfortably padded haze of a Valium and Gin cocktail. He'd gone through his stash of Ativan in the two days before, and since he hadn't actually yet gotten a prescription (the handful of pills having come from a forgotten grab bag left behind the last time Giovanni Ribisi had been in his office), he was forced to resort to the Valium for the time being. Tomatoes, tomatoes. Just so long as everything remained on the other side of that pretty veil of fog, and Wendy and Stuart kept to their positions on either side of him. In case his legs decided to take a cue from his brain and stop working.

He couldn't at the moment remember much of the service they'd just sat through, other than that he'd had the urge more than once to laugh. No, more than that - to giggle. And he actually might've at that, since now that he thought about it he seemed to also recall Stuart elbowing him - albeit gently - in the ribs at one point. Maybe more. Trouble with being that stoned was your emotions weren't always in sync with the people around you.

Like it was his fault that the rest of them couldn't hear the running monologue in Lonnie's voice that was whispering through his head.

Lonnie would've fucking hated the service, would've wanted to sit in the car outside until it was time to drive to the cemetery. He'd never gone in much for religion or politics, preferring instead to keep his focus on more immediate surroundings. Peter had always been able to turn to him whenever he needed a break from the Great Sucking Morass of the world he lived in - because, really, religion and politics were what Hollywood was all about. Not in the traditional sense, sure, but he still spent everyday wading through that ankle- deep crap. The Religion of the Beautiful, the Fabulously Self- Absorbed. The Politics of Celebrity, of Who Was Doing What To Whom and how many points they scored doing it. Lonnie never cared about that stuff, either. Always ready with a shrug and a refreshingly unconcerned crack about... well, about whatever happened to strike him as funny at the time.

Peter wondered, then, if he would've appreciated the irony in the surprising number of those same celebrities who'd turned out to see him one last time. Or if he would've looked at it all as just another bit of celebrity pretense. Not that the funeral had turned out to be an A-list red carpet affair or anything, but there were an awful lot of people there that Peter didn't even realize Lonnie had known. Some of them were more expected, like Bobby G. (slimy bastard - like he'd ever said more than six words to Lonnie) and Cole Riccardi (ah, christ - was that guy ever going to stay far enough away to keep their names apart in the papers?). Some of them were a lot more strange - but still within Peter's personally acceptable bounds of probability - like the appearance of Sandy Bullock near the back of the crowd (doing her best not to look at him at all, having enough sensitivity to keep her usual glaring to a minimum on this sad occasion).

And then there were the ones who were just downright bizarre, like Betty White.

Betty White, who not only showed up but then proceeded to try and throw herself on the casket in a moment of what could only have been described (by any lurking tabloid reporters) as unbridled grief.

Jesus. He knew this town was incestuous, what with everyone interconnected in strange and unexpected ways... but Betty White? He'd never even heard Lonnie mention her name, but from the looks of things it must've been one hell of a passionate romance. Or the woman was a far, far better actress than anyone had ever thought to give her credit for.

He couldn't really remember, but he thought that might've been another one of those giggling moments. He wondered if Betty had noticed.

The sun was shining its brightest through the smog layer as the crowd began to disperse, but Peter couldn't seem to stop shivering. He wore his big grey overcoat on top of his suit; that wasn't helping at all. And every time he'd stick in hands in the pockets to try and warm them, somebody else would come over to express their condolences. Which invariably meant touching, hand shaking and the like.

He'd always hated having people touch him.

He wanted this all to be over. Wanted to get back in his car and tell Lonnie to drive him home. It just wasn't possible that he'd never get to do that again - christ, Lonnie had been around forever. Whatever he needed - drugs, women, jokes, someone who'd shut the hell up and listen to him when he talked - Lonnie could get it for him. Lonnie was happy to get it for him. The only person in that whole fucking town who he could trust to watch his back, without restriction or hesitation.

Who was he going to trust now?

"Fuck," he said.


He didn't look at Stuart. "Fuck." The word felt surprisingly good in his mouth. "Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck."

He was getting louder with that word, and the few stragglers in the area where beginning to notice. He didn't give a shit. Let them put it on the cover of that week's EW for all he cared, written above a picture of his head in some big bold red font. Lonnie was fucking dead, for chrissakes. Lonnie was dead and now he had no one.

Wendy put her hand on his arm. "Peter, maybe we should -"

He yanked his arm away from her so violently that he almost hit Stuart on the other side. He staggered, stumbling away from both of them when they reached for him. No one grabbed him again, and he took a few more unsteady steps in the general direction of the open grave.

It was just so final, that gaping hole in the ground. Capped by a huge slab of solid granite, with Lonnie's name indelibly gouged there. In case there was any doubt. Those thick letters were as real as fresh scars, and just as permanent. He wanted to run his hands over them, in the drugged hope that they would spell something different under his fingers.

He was cold, really really cold. Suddenly standing seemed too much of a bother, and he didn't object as his body sank slowly to the ground. Kneeling there, in the grass, he could feel the fog veil beginning to snag and tear. "Fuck," he said again. Quietly, this time. Like a sigh.

Peter noticed that the grass under his knees was still damp. He roughly dashed at his eyes with the heel of his hand - no fucking way was he going to cry here. No way was Peter fucking Dragon going to be caught in some cliched movie mourning scene that any director with a shred of originality would be ashamed to use. What he needed to do - what he abso-fucking-lutely needed to do - was get up, go home, and get so thoroughly trashed that he'd be blissfully unconscious by sunset. Tomorrow could be dealt with tomorrow... or maybe even the next day.

Plan firmly in mind, he struggled into something resembling a standing position. The letters on the headstone danced and bent in front of his eyes, and he felt himself sway. But before he could decide whether or not to seek out the ground again, there were Wendy and Stuart, back in position. Each with a firm grip on either arm, holding him up. They stood there like that for a long minute, staring at the grave and its marker.

"I just saw him, you know?" Peter said, without having realized that he was going to say anything at all. "He drove me in that morning, and I didn't -" His voice cracked, trailed off. His eyes began to well up again; he took his arm out of Stuart's grasp and rubbed at them. "Christ."

Wendy squeezed his arm. "He was a good man, Peter." She smiled. "Knew how to tell a joke. And he never treated me like I was just somebody's whore, which is a whole lot more than I can say for most people. He's going to be missed by a lot of people in this town."

His brain flashed an image of a hysterical woman being pulled away from a casket, people trying to avoid flailing arms and nails as they dragged her away. One hell of a Very Special Golden Girls. He felt that giggle bubbling its way back up. "Like Betty White?"

Wendy snorted; Peter looked sideways at her. "God, I know - what was that?" She shook her head in disbelief.

On Peter's other side, Stuart murmured, "I didn't have any idea Lonnie even knew her..."

When Peter glanced at him, Stuart flinched like he was expecting to be yelled at for speaking out of turn. Peter looked at him silently, then his eyes slid back to the headstone. "I didn't either. Lonnie certainly was a man who knew how to keep a secret."

The headstone stood there, guarding a grave waiting to be filled. Secrets and all.

Goodbye, Uncle Lonnie.

"Come on, Stuart. Let's go get drunk."


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