Written Fall of 2005, as I recall. I was driving on a very fast freeway– next to a wall– when this came to me. It is really NOT good to have one’s vision turned inward in such circumstances!
This fic is, I am ashamed to say, based on real people; Johnny Depp and Marlon Brando, who met and formed a strong friendship during the filming of “Don Juan De Marcos” whence this story is set. I feel that my homoerotic imagining is not disrespectful– I wrote it in all love. Anyway, actors can do some weird things, when they improv. Honest.
“You son of a bitch!” Johnny spat the words out, between gusts of laughter. “You crazy motherfucker! You are so mean!”
He unlocked Marlon’s front door for him, and stood aside to let him enter first. The two men came into their favored sitting room, still in a state of high mirth.
“Hey, you had it coming, dammit!” Marlon wiped tears away from his face. “Jesus, it was so worth it, if you could have seen your face!”
“My face? Julian’s face! I thought he was going to, I don’t know, knock me down.” Johnny hunched into himself, hugging in his glee. “You’re really going to get me in trouble, Pops, swear to god.”
“Faye…” Marlon said, causing Johnny to go into fresh paroxysms of hilarity.
“Hey,” he panted, pointing a shaking finger in Marlon’s general direction; “Don’t say a fucking word about Faye, okay? She’s my girl!”
“Oh, is that right?” Marlon guffawed. “Does she still sound like-” he imitated a girl’s long drawn out moan. “I had her first, kid, and don’t you forget it.”
Johnny smirked. “Yeah? Well, I had her last, you old fart.”
Marlon groaned. “Oh, that’s a low blow!” He made an ancient quavering voice. “You young whippersnappers don’t know shit. Why, I had to walk ten miles barefoot in the snow just to get a little pussy…”
“I kind of heard it the other way around,” Johnny grinned. “The way I heard it, pussy would walk ten miles barefoot to get to you.”
“Yes, it did. Ah, happy days, happy days. Get it while you can- like Faye is doing, you little rat bastard.” The old man stretched in his chair and chuckled. “I miss my dick of course. I’d hoped I’d put in enough fuck-time. But, damn, you never lose the desire. Just the ability.”
“Women want you still, though,” Johnny commented. He dropped into the leather sofa, across from the older man. He pulled a box onto his lap and opened it; his fingers flickered in the fragrant contents, cleaning and rolling.
“Damn right they do, and I still want them!”
“Well, you must have tried Viagra, right?”
“Oh, of course. But, my heart, my lungs… Now the doctors, they want to keep me alive. They don’t care how I’m living.” Marlon snorted. “And these drugs, the side effects. They rob you of the things you live for. All the life money can buy.”
He accepted the joint the younger man offered, leaned into the flame that came next. “Thank you sir,” he said through a cloud of sweet smoke.
“Jesus no, thank you!” Johnny said. “Thank you for taking me in. Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for sharing your talent.”
“Now son, now son!” Marlon protested. “You’re much too humble. I need your youth. Your talent, young man, is considerable. You’ll be twice the actor I ever was. No,” He raised an imperious hand to quell the protest. “Worship me all you like, I won’t deny it’s gratifying… But let’s not have any pretense here.”
“I do worship you,” Johnny said. “I’d do anything for you, Pops.”
“Good lord,” Marlon grinned. “What temptations you throw my way! Tell my keepers that we’re ready to eat.”
Marlon mused as he watched the graceful man trot through the doorway; Johnny, Johnny. Not even you- you don’t know what you could become.
“If only you could have met Stella Adler when she was around,” Marlon sighed. “She guided me through all that method crap. It ruined all those talented kids that got sidetracked. Look at James Dean, who never got past being a pretty face and a lot of attitude.”
“Attitude? Who was it said… They said… ‘Sending Marlon to Method classes was like sending a tiger to jungle school.’ ” Johnny snorted, and the snort turned into gasping, whooping laughter, at Marlon’s empurpleled face.
“I just did what I knew, the same as you, boy! The same as you.”
“Well what –”
“Flexibility, that’s part of it. Sometimes the script is a piece of shit, and you have to add all you can to it. Sometimes… If you ever get a chance to play Shakespeare, kiddo, you’ll see what a real script can be. You play to the text, and it takes over for you. I’m telling you, there’s nothing like a really good script.”
He folded his hands across his girth, chuckling. His eyes lifted from the expanse of his old man’s stomach to the slender boy sitting nearby. The boy who listened to his every word, drinking in the wisdom of his years.
“And what role are you dressed for tonight?” Marlon asked. A loose plaid shirt spilled over faded jeans, worn sneakers, unkempt hair. Johnny had a guitar bag slung over his shoulder.
He grinned sheepishly. “Rock star?” His voice took on that upward lilt Marlon had heard among the local surfers’ speech. “My band is playing tonight?”
“So you’re talking like a rock star?” Marlon asked, mimicking the intonation. “Who speaks like that?” Oh, he loved the way emotions played over the younger man’s delicate face as Johnny cast his eyes to the side, thinking.
As his answers came to his mind, Johnny’s lips twitched. He, visibly, didn’t care for one memory, liked another. “Yeah, I see,” Johnny said, in an oblique answer. “Thank you, Pops.”
“Hey. For what?” The inevitable call and response of their relationship. Marlon spread his hands. “You look like catnip for the pussies.”
“I don’t know…”
“Oh, please, boy!” Marlon said. “Of course you do. You get up on that stage, and shove your guitar into your crotch. Stand like that. And the dames throw themselves at you, don’t they.”
“Well, yeah, but I’m not like that.”
“Speaking as one who is no longer like that, that’s a God damned shame, that’s all I can say,” Marlon pronounced. “Johnny, bring a girl home with you. Call it an acting assignment.”
“It’s not a good idea, sir,” Johnny said gently. “Security…”
“Fuck security!” Marlon’s roar shook the walls. “Johnny…” His voice softened; “Son. I’m not alive any more. I can’t fuck a beautiful woman. I can’t pay homage to beauty any longer. Son, it’s your time. Don’t waste it!”
Marlon saw the young man’s brown eyes regard him. His intelligent forehead. His sensitive mouth. Marlon knew this face so well by now. It had become his mirror. An alter ego, a reminder of his lost youth.
Johnny smiled. “I’ll come back here tonight, Pops.”
Marlon was awakened in the night by the sounds of lovemaking, in the bedroom nearest his own. He listened with approval. Johnny could get some noise out of a woman, play her like he played his guitar. As the moans and grunts rose to a crescendo, Marlon chuckled, turned over, and slipped back into slumber.
“Damn fine show, last night,” Marlon said during lunch.
“Thanks,” Johnny said seriously. He hesitated and then asked; “Um… did you actually watch?”
“Watch you?” Marlon said, thunderstruck. “Well, no. But you woke me up.”
“I left the door open.” Johnny ducked his head and shovelled salad into his mouth, the blush rising on his cheeks. “I figured you might want to…”
“Did you, now.” Marlon sat back, looked up at the ceiling. “What a kind thought.”
Marlon stood in the hallway. Through the partly opened door, he could see the shining hair of Johnny’s girl. Her arms curved up, around the shoulders of the man laboring over her. Marlon watched their lovemaking through misted vision, cursing himself for his sentimentality, cursing his old eyes that couldn’t see the details in sharp enough focus. Her knees lifted to make room for the boy. Her beautiful breasts crushed under his chest. His strong arms, holding himself up over her. The meeting of their lips. His long hair falling away from the back of his neck. The rhythm of fucking.
She was gone in the morning. Johnny refused to let any of the girls find out whose house they had spent the night in. For the safety of an old man, goddamn it.
“Where are you off to tonight?”
Johnny shook his head. “Nowhere, I’d like to stay here with you. Is that all right?”
“Well, that’s kind of you.” Marlon raised a warning finger at Johnny’s automatic disclaimer. “Stop that. You can accept my gratitude, once in a while, can’t you?” He opened the bar. “Would a red wine be in order, or a brandy?”
“Your choice, sir.”
“In that case, it’s the stronger stuff.” Marlon brought down a pair of snifters.
Johnny fell into his accustomed place, across from Marlon’s special chair, automatically pulled the stash box into his lap. His long hair fell into his eyes as he rolled.
“No woman?” Marlon inquired.
“No… I can’t do that, that often.”
“You will be surprised to hear me say, I understand you.” Marlon smiled. “I was never monogamous. But I know you are, and I appreciate your efforts lately, boy.”
Johnny smirked, and met the snifter Marlon raised with his own. “Glad to have been of service, sir.”
“I like the blondes, best.”
“You married brunettes.”
“I can see them better,” Marlon explained. “You lose your night vision as you grow older.”
“I’ll leave a light on. You should have said something sooner…”
“Never occurred to me.” The dim figures. Standing in his dressing robe and slippers, just outside. The open doorway kept him separated from them so profoundly. The girls would possibly, probably, still come to his bed. He certainly knew the ways to satisfy without intercourse. But his impotence affected his confidence, and stilted his desire. “You lose so much, getting old,” he said.
“You’re wonderful.” Johnny raised shining eyes over the joint he was lighting. “If we could trade bodies, I’d give this one to you.”
“And become an old man? You don’t know what you’re saying!” Marlon was shocked.
“Oh, Christ, son.”
“Death is certain.” Johnny grinned, and sucked smoke.
“And that — makes you laugh?” Marlon laughed in return. “You are the craziest little son of a bitch I ever did run across, and I’ve known some crazies.” He looked at his hands, studying the liver spotting. “Oh, well, fuck it.”
He drained the brandy and reached for the bottle. Johnny leapt to his feet to trade the jay for the snifter, poured brandy, and handed the glass back to him.
“And such a sweetheart, at the same time. Tell me,” Marlon demanded, “Do you have to be crazy, to be so sweet?”
Johnny said softly, “How else can I tell you how much I love you?”
“Ach. If you had been around when I was young. We’d have been sharing women… Like brothers.”
“I like being your son.”
“I don’t much like being…” The old man paused for a long moment, until Johnny looked up, concerned. Marlon finished the sentence through the knot in his throat; “Your father.”
“Marlon, I don’t know, I can’t think of what else to do…”
“Listen, boy, there’s nothing you can do, get it through your head!” Marlon said shakily. “You have to be me, from now on. Go on, get! Figure of speech, figure of speech! I didn’t mean leave right now, Johnny, get back here!” He shook his head, laughing; “I have to be so careful with you, don’t I.”
“I’m sorry, Pops.” Johnny knelt before him. Took the old hand in his, held it against his cheek. Kissed it. “I’ll spend the rest of my life being you, if you want me to. You won’t die.”
“Yes, well, just let’s keep it a secret, hmm?” Marlon said dryly. “They lock people away for multiple personality disorder.” He laid a hand on the shining soft hair. “Oh, Johnny, Johnny. Can I use your dick?”
The almond eyes flashed up to him.
“I just wish I could jack off.”
“That’s kind of a relief, I was afraid…”
He got to his feet. Walked a few steps away, turned to face the older man. He tossed the hair away from his face, slid a hand into his jeans. “Do you want a strip tease?” he grinned.
“Hah!” Marlon barked. “Do I see a set of double D’s on your chest? Oh, why not.” He disposed himself in his chair, waved the snifter regally. “Get to it, my boy.”
Johnny began snapping his fingers. To that single sound he moved, shifting to music that only he could hear. His rhythm coming from within. He pulled his shirt out of his jeans, began to unbutton it.
Marlon let his ribald encouragement die on his lips, unuttered. He watched the boy’s hands and face, as the shirt fell away from the shoulders. Johnny shook it, folded it, laid it on the sofa. He crossed arms over his chest, pulled the tee over his head. Shook his hair out of his eyes once again.
He unzipped his jeans, slid them down his thighs, stepped away from them, kicked them into the air, grabbed and folded them. His breath was audible in the silence. The French briefs fell away. He turned and faced Marlon, hands at his sides. And stood motionless.
The men locked eyes for a moment. Marlon considered his protégé; the well-knit, slim body. Tattoos were scattered across his warm olive skin. His body hair was fine and sparse, thickening into feathery pubes. Johnny’s beauty was quite different from the kind of Marlon’s youth, but definitely equal. Marlon found satisfaction in the thought. Equal in luminosity.
Johnny raised his linked hands towards the ceiling, stretched until his back was arched into a bow, his belly concave, and his head disappeared behind his shoulders. His cock began to lift.
“What are you thinking about?”
“Huh?” Johnny tipped his head back to its proper place. He took his cock in his hand, casually, thumbing the upper surface. “Nothing much, I guess… What would you think about?”
“A dame, a woman. Maybe Gina Lollobrigida. God, she had the most beautiful pussy. I could eat her for hours.”
The head tilted, considering, the eyes flashed. Johnny pulled, a long smooth stroke. His cock swelled very suddenly, filling his hand, the head turning purple. “Whoa,” he said, and staggered a little. He worked industriously for a moment, his free arm coming across his chest.
“Whose pussy are you thinking about?” Marlon asked
“Slow down, son, we’ll come too quick! You don’t know Gina, you’re too young.”
Johnny pulled his hand away reluctantly, and gazed from under heavy lids. “Well of course I know her, that’s what movies are for. Did you really fuck her? God, she was beautiful.”
“We hid out for six weeks in Maine, screwing our brains out. Everyone was looking for us in Cannes, you know. And I haven’t thought of her in years, years.” He gestured. “Get back to work now. Just go slower. Treat us nice.”
Johnny chuckled. He ran a hand over his chest and neck, thumbed his nipple. His swollen cock bobbed while he scratched his ass.
“Who are you going to think about now?” Marlon wanted to know. “Damn, boy, we’re hung better than I ever noticed before.”
Johnny burst into laughter, his shoulders shaking while he pushed his hair back. “I don’t really have to think about anything…” He picked up the joint and the lighter. “Just what it feels like, really.” His face was illuminated by the flame for a moment.
“I’ll shut up now,” Marlon promised, earning a quick smile.
Johnny passed the doob over, and went back to his place. He covered his face with his hands for a moment. Then he spat into his palms, and once again took hold of his cock. With both hands this time, slipping them gently over it, one after another. Marlon looked up from the mesmerizing motion, to see the face gone blank and slack. Johnny reached one hand between his own legs, to cup the sleek testicles, and he stood wider to accommodate himself. His breath hissed between his lips. The other picked up a rhythm, a leisurely, considering speed.
Marlon’s hand lay heavy over his useless prick, his empty balls. “Sweet Jesus,” he whispered irrepressibly. The fine-boned face became a little heavier, rounder, his stance changed subtly. Marlon blinked. Had he ever, in his long-past youth, stood in front of a mirror with his prick in his hand? It was his own mouth that fell open, in the mirror, his own eyebrows pulling together.
The doppelganger licked, then bit his lip. His strokes came a little faster. “Huh…” He opened his eyes, looking to Marlon.
The eyes squeezed shut again. His hand stopped its pulling, and slid gently over the shaft. Johnny sighed, petulantly, hunched forward, nursing himself. “Shit,” he muttered; “God, I’m so close.” It was Marlon’s own voice.
“Hold on,” Marlon told him. He didn’t want to lose this moment. Part of him was analysing Johnny’s performance, noting the tricks he used to create the illusion. He was a magnificent mimic. His heart thumping, beating in unison with this other self. “Make it last, please, for me,” he said.
Johnny stepped backward catlike, without looking behind himself, to fall into the sofa. One leg pulled up to his chest. He pursed his lips, whistling softly as his hand picked up the rhythm once more. And slowed down, yet again. His forehead creased. Amazing. And beautiful. Marlon felt the warmth and weight of the arm that lay across his chest, the drugstore Indian tattoo across the triceps. He put himself inside the heaving chest, the bobbing Adam’s apple, the slender legs. And Johnny was Marlon. His heavy forehead, sturdy trunk, down-tilted eyes. His age had flown- as long as his eyes rested on this living mirror.
Johnny’s head rested on the sofa arm, consideringly. He was watching his cock. His hands strayed over his own body, comforting, consoling. From time to time, he laid hands on his prick, keeping it hard. Each single stroke lifted his hips from the leather, and it took an obvious act of will to limit himself to that single touch of pleasure.
Marlon gripped the chair’s arms and groaned. “Any time,” he told the boy.
Who tucked his lip between his teeth and shook his head. “Can’t,” Johnny said, in Marlon’s soft drawl.
“What do you mean, can’t?”
“I’m not gonna come by myself.” The tilt of the head. The shape of the quick, shy smile. And the puff of breath, as his hands once again left his prick.
A flicker of surprise. “Well…”
“I said, come here!” Marlon roared.
That brought him up. He approached diffidently hesitatingly, unsure. Became himself again. “Marlon?”
“I’m not going to bite you, boy.” Marlon chuckled, shakily pulled himself out of the chair. “I don’t know, maybe this is too weird a scene.”
“No, it’s okay,” Johnny said. “I mean, I would leave…we’ll play it the way you want. I ain’t afraid, okay?” He stepped forward into Marlon’s arms.
The touch of a hand on his shoulder turned him, like a dancing girl, and he molded his back against the old man, letting himself be held close. Marlon breathed in the scent of his hair and skin, dropped his head against Johnny’s neck, blinking back unexpected tears. His hands ranged blindly over the firm stomach.
“Don’t you want to take your clothes off too?”
“Heavens, no,” Marlon said. “This body of mine isn’t a sex symbol anymore.”
“I don’t care.”
“I do. It’s not important anyway. I want to pass something on to you. Hell, it sounds so silly.”
“Do what you want, you know.” Johnny leaned his head back, against Marlon’s shoulder. He turned his neck and kissed the soft old cheek. His hands rested lightly over Marlon’s, to reassure the older man that this crazy thing they were doing was all right.
Johnny whispered a sigh when Marlon’s hands touched him. His strength seemed to ebb away; Marlon stood strong to support him. He cradled the hard cock, reaching around the slender body. Johnny gripped at his wrists, but interfered no more than that.
The silky texture, the rhythm, remembered. The beating of another heart, a body, electric, in his arms.
“Oh, Pops –”
Johnny pushed back against Marlon’s chest, dropped his hands to his sides. His breath surrussed through open mouth, head lolling. The long, strong legs tensing, he rose up onto his toes into the sensations. Marlon wrapped one arm around Johnny’s ribcage, holding him tight.
Johnny whimpered with pleasure, Marlon in response. Picking up the speed, sure handed, feeling it- somehow- within himself. Johnny twisted against him, gasped, held still.
“Ahhh!” His cry vibrated against Marlon’s chest. The spurts hot against his hand.
And Marlon breathed out, breathed himself into the void left by the jetting sperm. For an instant he felt the shell of his body take a new form, supported by a different set of bones. Then he was thrown out again, into himself. The boy was a separate creature. But some of himself had remained. Enough, enough. Marlon couldn’t make his arms loosen their hold. He shifted his grip and held on tightly and tenderly.
Johnny pulled away, eventually. Marlon caught the quick glimpse of his cheekbones as he ducked his head, sent back a little smile through his tangled hair. And walked out of the door.
Goddammit, Marlon thought, We fucked up. I’ve lost him. But before he’d finished that thought, the naked boy strode back in again, carrying washcloths and a towel. Smiling, right up to him. Captured his sticky hand in wet warmth, laughing. Wrapped Marlon in a chokehold and held him as tightly as he’d been held.
“Crazy fucker,” he said against Marlon’s cheek. His hair swept across Marlon’s vision.
“Of course I am, are you?” Johnny pulled back, looked him carefully. “Are you okay, Pops?”
“I feel… a little lighter. Johnny, it’s a burden.”
“I’ll carry it for you, it’s okay.”
The sweet eyes, so calm and so antic. Marlon opened his mouth. Hesitated.
“It’s all okay, Marlon,” Johnny said, and kissed him.216