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"All or Nothing - Part 1"
Title: All or Nothing P1
Summary: Micky is sent his draft details and Mike offers him a way out…
Mike sat on the couch, strumming his guitar in the relative quiet of the beach house. Davy and Peter were each out somewhere, and Micky was engrossed in some project on the other side of the living room. His tinkering produced a little noise from time to time, but nothing that interfered with Mike’s work. He barely noticed when Micky got up and went to the kitchen.
“You want something to drink?” Micky asked.
Mike simply shook his head and jotted down another chord progression on the pad of paper next to him.
Micky took a few swallows of his Coke and looked over Mike’s shoulder. “What are you working on?”
He took the pencil out of his mouth. “Just a little something for Barbara.”
“Barbara?” Micky asked, surprised. “Are you two back together again?”
“Hell, no. I’ve had enough of her shit,” he answered. “She keeps calling and saying she’s sorry, it’ll be different this time… blah, blah, blah.”
“So why are you writing a song for her?”
“Just listen.” Mike put the pad in front of him where he could easily see it and began playing.
When he heard Mike sing, “Don’t call on me when you’re feeling footloose and fancy free; you’ve done that before and like a fool I came back for more,” he understood. Mike had given Barbara more chances than he probably should have over the last several months, and it seemed that he was finally done with her. Micky was glad. Mike deserved better.
“It’s great,” he said when Mike was finished. “You gonna record it and send it to her or something?”
Mike shook his head. “She’s been at the club every night for the last week. I’m sure she’ll be there again tonight.” His expression hardened slightly. “I thought I’d play it and dedicate it to her.”
“Oh, that’s cold.”
“No, what’s cold is the way she’s been fucking with my head for the last six months. Leaving, coming back, leaving again—” A knock at the door interrupted him. “Maybe this time she’ll get the message.” He stood up and leaned the guitar carefully against the coffee table, then answered the door. It was their postman. “Hey, Bobby,” Mike greeted him.
“Mike,” the man replied solemnly. He handed him the envelopes that comprised the day’s mail and glanced inside, catching sight of Micky before he turned and walked away.
Puzzled, Mike closed the door. Bobby usually didn’t have time for conversation, but he was always a lot more cheerful. Mike shrugged and sorted through the items. There was the usual assortment of junk mail, a couple of bills… and a letter from the Selective Service addressed to George Michael Dolenz.
His jaw dropped. “Oh, God,” he said before he could stop the words. He looked over at Micky, who had resumed working on his project.
“You say something?” he asked, glancing casually at his friend. The look on Mike’s face told him that something was very definitely wrong and Micky stopped what he was doing. “What, are we being evicted or something?”
Mike shook his head and stared at the letter.
“Mike, what’s the matter with you?” Micky asked as he grabbed his glasses and walked over to him. “You look like you just lost your best friend.”
I did, Mike thought to himself and closed his eyes. When he opened them, Micky was wearing his glasses and could obviously see the government logo on the top left corner of the envelope.
Micky’s hand shook as he took it. He sat down on the couch and opened it very slowly, as if trying to delay the inevitable. He swallowed hard and read the form letter.
You are hereby directed to present yourself for Armed Forces Physical Examination to the Local Board named above by reporting at…
“What’s today?” he asked suddenly.
“The date,” Micky said shortly. “What’s today’s date?”
“The, uh… the seventh.” Mike sat down next to him. “When do you—?”
“Less than two weeks,” he replied. “I have to report for my physical in less than two weeks.”
The two looked at each other and didn’t say anything. There was nothing to say. Micky would take his physical, pass, and most likely be shipped out within a couple of months. Not for the first time, Mike silently thanked God that he had already done his stint in the military.
“Well,” Micky cleared his throat, “it’s a good thing this is the last week of the gig.” He looked up at the ceiling and blinked several times. “It’ll give you guys time to find another drummer.”
“I’m going for a walk.” He stood up and walked out the back door.
Mike could hear him quickly descend the rickety wooden stairs that led from the deck to the beach. He went to the door and watched Micky walk a short way and then break into a run. He turned and looked around the room, resisting the urge to pick up the first thing within reach and smash it to pieces. Instead, he sat on the step of the bandstand and rested his head in his hands.
A thousand thoughts and images ran through his mind. He pictured a short-haired Micky in a muddy uniform hunkered down in a foxhole with live ammo screaming over his head. He pictured a faceless, voiceless new drummer trying to fill Micky’s place in the band. He pictured his own life without Micky in it. He closed his eyes and ran his hands through his hair in frustration and worry.
It was hard for Mike to remember a time before he knew Micky, or maybe he just didn’t want to. Things had been so bad for him in Texas that he preferred not to think about them at all. When he left for L.A., his mother and his friends had told him what a huge mistake he was making; that he’d probably end up dead or in jail within a few years. With those words of encouragement, he had boarded a bus and resolved to prove them wrong. Now, two years later, he wasn’t dead or in jail, and was making a relatively successful living with his music. Now, everything Mike had worked for was about to come crashing down, and there was nothing he could do about it.
* * *
Micky ran a long way before stopping. He finally sat on a huge piece of driftwood and uncrumpled the letter that was still in his hand. For some reason, he had convinced himself that this would never happen to him. When he thought about it, however, he realized how surprising it was that Uncle Sam had taken this long to get around to him. Normally, they grabbed boys as soon as they turned 18, but Micky had managed to reach the ripe old age of 22 before he got his invitation to the party in Asia.
As he sat with his thoughts, he found himself fighting to maintain his composure. He thought about his mother and sisters. He’d have to call them today or tomorrow, and go to see them as soon as he could. He thought about his late father and wondered if he’d be seeing him soon. Before he could stop it, one tear, then another, ran down his face. He wiped his eyes, but suddenly the weight of his situation bore down on him.
It was a relatively cool day, so there weren’t too many people on the beach. He was glad of that; he didn’t need an audience witnessing his breakdown. Audience. Shit, he’d have to perform tonight. There were only two more nights left of this gig, and he didn’t want to let the guys down… or deprive Mike of his chance to serenade Barbara. Somehow, he’d have to pull it together for a couple of hours and pretend that nothing was wrong. Well, he had been an actor when he was a kid. Maybe he still had some of that talent left in him.
He gathered himself and walked very slowly back to the house.
* * *
Davy and Peter burst into the house at the same time, laughing at some joke they’d shared outside. The sudden noise startled Mike out of his thoughts and he looked at his watch, surprised to find that the whole afternoon was gone.
“What’s for supper, Mike?” Davy asked as he rummaged around in the icebox for something to drink.
“Supper?” Mike asked as he got up from the armchair.
“Yeah, it’s your turn to cook.” Davy looked at him and frowned. “What, did you forget?”
“Yeah, I forgot,” he replied shortly. “Where the hell have you two been all day, anyway?”
“Well, I don’t know about Davy,” Peter began, “but I was—”
“Nevermind,” Mike interrupted him.
“You just asked where we were,” Davy said in Peter’s defense.
“I said, nevermind.” He started toward the kitchen, nearly running over the Englishman on the way.
“Mike, is, ah… is anything wrong?” Peter asked cautiously.
Mike spun around, ready to throw something at the next person who asked him a stupid question. He then saw the confused faces of his band mates and stopped himself.
“Yeah, something’s wrong,” he said quietly.
“Well, what is it?” Davy asked.
“I’ve been drafted,” Micky answered.
The three of them turned to see him standing in the back doorway. The setting sun cast an eerie halo around him and the surreal image was more than Mike could stand to look at. He walked quickly up the stairs to his bedroom.
“I’m gonna get changed,” he made excuse.
As he closed the door, he could hear Davy and Peter start in on Micky. Maybe he shouldn’t have left him alone to deal with their barrage of questions, but he didn’t want Micky to see how upset he was. It was bad enough that the others had. He stared unseeing at the contents of the closet for a few minutes until he heard Micky coming up the stairs. He put on his poker face and turned to him when he walked in.
“You okay, Mick?”
“Yeah, I guess,” he replied as he sat wearily down on his bed.
“Look, if you don’t feel up to it, you don’t have to perform tonight.” Mike sat on his own bed, opposite Micky. “Really. I mean, Davy can play drums and I can sing your—”
“I’ll be alright.”
“Are you sure?”
Micky nodded, then looked at Mike shook his head.
Mike moved to sit next to Micky, instantly regretting the action. Seeing him like this, all Mike wanted to do was put his arms around him, but he knew that Micky would probably slug him if he did. Instead, he clapped him on the shoulder.
“It’ll be alright, Mick,” he offered weakly. “We’ll figure out something.”
Micky looked at him and tried to smile. “Well, you and President Johnson are both good ol’ Texas boys. Maybe you could give him a call and put in a good word for me?”
Mike chuckled obligingly at Micky’s attempt at humor and then sobered. They looked at each other for a moment before Micky abruptly got up and started assembling his own outfit for the gig. The two changed and headed out without saying another word.
* * *
Micky called his mother a couple of days later to tell her the news. He had decided to wait until after they played their last night at the club before calling her. Of course, she wanted to come down right away to see him, but he dissuaded her, saying that he would drive up to see her and the rest of the family before he had to leave. After he finished talking to her, his mood was much different than it had been up to that point. The shock of getting his notice was quickly giving way to depression and fear.
The guys were acting differently, too. They didn’t talk to him any more than they had to, and when they did, they walked on eggshells. Mike would barely look at him. They didn’t rehearse anymore, but then, what was the point of rehearsing? They wouldn’t be playing any more gigs before he left, and the guys would get in plenty of practice time when they found a replacement for him. Micky almost wished that he could leave right now and be done with it. He didn’t think he could handle another ten days of this.
He started to think of what he could possibly say to the draft board to get them to reject him. Any medical excuse he gave could be easily refuted by a doctor. If he claimed to be mentally unstable, they’d probably throw him in an institution somewhere. He could always tell them he was gay; that would be a sure way to get rejected.
It was actually closer to the truth than he ever dared to admit. Since his teenage years, he’d had thoughts of what it would be like to be with a man. It wasn’t anything he dwelled on; but rather, fleeting notions that troubled him so that he did almost anything to get them out of his mind whenever they popped up. He couldn’t talk to anyone about it, even though he sometimes felt so frustrated that he thought he’d go crazy.
He remembered a time when he had done some pretty heavy drinking to chase the demons away. That night, he almost told Mike just what had prompted him to get so hammered; but even worse, he noticed Mike in a way that he never should have. He even dreamed about him that night and was so ashamed about it that he couldn’t look him in the eye the whole next day. He told himself that it had just been the alcohol, but that wasn’t the last time it happened. Ever since then, Micky found himself glancing at him while he dressed or watching him while he slept. It was frightening to think that he was attracted to Mike. It was also frightening to think of Mike’s reaction if he ever found out – if he ever even suspected what had been going through his head.
* * *
Mike stood on the deck and watched the sun set over the ocean. He listened to the sound of the waves washing up on the beach and cast an unfocused gaze on the millions of orange and yellow reflections playing on the water. Davy and Peter had left a short time earlier to comb the clubs for a possible replacement for their drummer. Mike didn’t want to go along, but he didn’t especially want to be alone in the house with Micky, either. He was glad that the breeze coming off the ocean wasn’t so cold as to force him inside.
His interaction with Micky had dwindled steadily over the last few days, and Mike felt very badly about it. He hadn’t intended for it to happen; it just had. Anytime they had tried to have a conversation, no matter what the topic, it seemed awkward and forced; so it just became easier not to talk. He felt guilty; not only because he wasn’t there for his friend when he needed him most, but because he couldn’t think of a way to save him from the draft board. Well, there was one way, but Micky would never go for it.
He tensed up slightly when he heard Micky’s voice right behind him.
“Sorry,” Micky said. “I didn’t mean to startle you.”
“It’s okay.” Mike half-turned to face him and leaned on the deck railing, trying to look casual. God, he hated this. He knew that Micky was waiting for him to say something… anything. His mind went off on several tangents; and then suddenly, inexplicably, he blurted, “Just tell them you’re gay.”
Micky stared at him, shocked. How could Mike know? He had tried to be careful not to give any indication of what he was – or what he thought he was. No wonder Mike had been avoiding him. He hesitated for a few seconds, unsure of what to say.
“Tell, ah… tell who… what?” he finally heard himself say.
“Nothing,” Mike said. “Forget it.” He turned his back to Micky, not believing what he had just said to him. His words were only a continuation of what he had been thinking, but they had come out like an accusation. He searched for a way to apologize; to explain what he had really meant, but he couldn’t think of anything to say.
Micky wondered briefly just how long Mike had known about him and what had tipped him off, but it didn’t really matter. He decided that if Mike knew, he may as well know the truth. He took a deep breath and mustered all of his courage. “Mike, I have thought – once or twice – about what it would be like to… well, to…” He paused when Mike turned quickly around. “But I’ve never—”
Mike looked at him, astonished. It had never entered his mind that Micky was actually gay; but here he was, all but admitting it. He felt an unexpected but welcome liberation of his own upon hearing his friend’s words. “Mick, do you know why I got kicked out of the Air Force?” he asked.
Micky wondered what relevance that had on anything, but replied. “Yeah, because you turned over a general’s airplane.”
“No. Well, that did happen,” he quickly added, “but that’s not why I was discharged.”
“Why, then?” he asked. When Mike didn’t immediately answer, Micky had a revelation. “You’re…? No. You’re not…”
Mike nodded slowly.
He was stunned. It couldn’t be true. “But Mike, you’ve had girlfriends – half a dozen since I’ve known you.”
“Yeah, and except for Barbara, they’ve been great. Even so, Mick, they just don’t seem to do it for me. I mean, I’ve tried, and the sex part is fine; but I’m starting to realize that I’ll never be completely happy with a woman.” Mike looked him in the eye. “You know what I mean?”
“I… I don’t know.” Micky’s head was spinning. How could he not have known this about his best friend; the man he had shared a bedroom with for the last two years? He thought back to the times when he imagined – when he somehow hoped – that Mike had been looking at him in a certain way. If he was attracted to Mike, was it possible that Mike was attracted to him?
“I know this is a lot for you to take in right now,” Mike said, resting his hand reassuringly on Micky’s shoulder, “but think about this. If we were… together… they wouldn’t draft you in a million years.”
Micky opened his mouth to speak, but couldn’t say anything.
Mike smiled slightly. “Just think about it,” he said and went back inside.
* * *
Mike sat on the edge of his bed, wringing his hands and listening for the sound of Micky’s footsteps. It had been nearly an hour since he left him on the deck, and the waiting was torturous. He wondered if he was taking advantage of Micky’s situation in order to get what he had wanted for so long. No – he really cared about him. But Micky didn’t know that; Mike hadn’t told him how he felt. He had made it sound like just a business deal – tell them we’re lovers and they won’t take you. Even if Micky did agree, it would only be to placate the draft board. Once he was safe, things would go back to the way they were; and Mike didn’t want things to be the way they were. He cursed himself for being so clumsy. Finally, he heard Micky coming up the stairs. He stood and anxiously looked toward the door.
Micky opened the door quietly and saw that Mike was awake. “Mike, I’ve thought about what you said, and I need to know something,” he said, his voice a little shaky.
Mike nodded, encouraging him to continue.
He walked slowly toward him. “Would you be doing this just to keep me from being drafted, or is there another reason?”
Mike sighed as Micky stood before him. It was now or never. “There’s another reason.”
“I was hoping you’d say that.”
A look of relief washed over Mike’s face. This was even better than he had dreamed – Micky felt the same way he did. He smiled and took him in his arms, holding him close for a long time. He took in the scent and the feel of this man that he had wanted but could never have before. They separated slightly and Mike touched his lips to Micky’s, tasting him for the first time. Curly hair brushed gently against his face as the kiss became more passionate, and Mike fought his desire to throw him down on the bed and make love to him then and there. But Micky had no experience with a man and Mike didn’t want to intimidate him. Instead, he savored the moment; making it last as long as possible.
They slept in the same bed that night; talking, holding, caressing, kissing, but nothing more. And for the first time in days, Mike and Micky both slept well.