Picture Perfect 129
“Is it because I’m not out?” Jeremy put the ring back in its pouch.
“It’s hard to be committed to someone who isn’t honest about themselves. You think it was easy for me to be out in the RCMP, then it going public & international, because some homophobe thought he had the perfect opportunity to ruin me? Did I wish for a moment then I had stayed in the closet? No. If I was going to get my balls busted for who I was I was ready to take it.
“Funny, on the east coast, I ran into a guy who reminded me of that. He said it gave him courage to be out. My fight showed him that being queer didn’t mean being a queen at the same time & that he didn’t have to be afraid of having his balls busted.” Dan took a deep breath. He had become more emotional than he expected.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to turn this into a lecture. I must sound like some queer activist. I’m usually not, until someone pulls their pants down & backs me into a corner with an engagement ring.”
“Dan, I think this the first time I’ve heard you speak so strongly about yourself. It’s because you trust me. If you didn’t care, you would have kept the ring and then blown me off somehow.”
“I do trust you but trust me I’m not going to marry you. Blow you off, never. Blow you, maybe, but not if you need a wedding to give you permission.”
“Fair enough.” Jeremy laughed. “I’ll call the caterer and tell them the wedding’s off.”
“Just joking.” Jeremy gave Dan the ring in its pouch. “Take this. Keep it, for now. The law says it is mine if you decide not to accept my proposal. But I renege on it then it’s yours to keep.”
“Should I put it in my security deposit box?”
“If you mean, how much is it worth? Yes. But I’d rather you wore it.”
“Now that that’s out of the way.”
“I thought you were taking me out to dinner?” Dan said.
“Why not order in from our favourite?”
“You mean Ashley’s favorite.”
“You’ve never complained before.” Jeremy looked for the number on his cell.
“I’d like to get out. I’ve been cooped too long. We can walk to Loola. Or are you afraid of being seen in public with your boyfriend.”
“Boyfriend!” Jeremy grinned. “I had to propose marriage to be elevated to boyfriend? That’s a step in the right direction.”
Loola’s was fairly busy. They had to wait for a table to be cleared for them. Some patrons clearly recognized Jeremy & nudged one another to point him out.
A few minutes after they were seated Della Kincaid showed up at their table.
“Jerry!” she said. “I’ve been waiting for you to call me.” She signalled a waiter to bring her a chair. “You don’t mind, do you?” She said to Dan with a brief glance at him.
“As a matter of fact I do.” Dan said. “This is a private conversation.”
“So is this.” Della snapped. “Jeremy and I are good friends. Aren’t we Jeremy.”
“Della!” Jeremy said. “You remember Daniel James.”
‘No!” She said. “When I’m with you, you are all I can remember.”
“Unless there are camera’s.” Dan said. “You always remember to show them your good side.”
“Who the fuck do you think you are?” She turned to him. “Some suck ass, sucking up him?”
“Listen who’s talking!” Dan resisted saying more.
“Della.” Jeremy said quietly. “I think you should return to your table. This is private.” He waved the waiter over. “Miss Kincaid is returning to her table.”
The waiter pulled her chair out as she stood.
“I didn’t mean to interrupt.” She glared at Dan, then the waiter. “Thank you.”
“The price of fame.” Jeremy shrugged. Before he could say anything more, a man approached the table.
“Can I take a selfie with you Mr. Moxham? The kids will never believe I met you.” Before Jeremy could answer the man crouched beside him and took a cell phone picture.
The maitre d’ came over and shooed the man away. “I’m so, so sorry Mr. Moxham. Perhaps you and your guest would be comfortable is one of our private rooms.”
The private room had seating for about thirty people. Two busboys were set a table. Another was put up folding screen to create a more intimate area.
“One of the perks of fame.” Jeremy said once they had been seated. “I get fed up with the attention at but it’s the price I pay. I prefer spots where there are richer and more famous dick heads than me there. It gives us great pleasure to ignore one another.”
“So that’s why we usually order in. To spare us public scrutiny?”
Appetizers arrived with a bottle of wine.
“We didn’t order any wine.” Dan said. “Did we?”
“It’s from Miss Kincaid.” The waiter said. “There’s a card.”
Jeremy read it. Laughed. Tossed it to Dan.
It read. “Jer, I am so sorry. I didn’t realize Mr. Daniels was an important client until my agent pointed out who he was. I hope he wins the Sinclair. Do call me so we can pick up where left off in Moncton. Della”
“The Sinclair?” They said in unison.
“The Gordon Sinclair award,” Jeremy read from his cellphone. “Is awarded occasionally by the Canadian Association of Broadcasters for outstanding achievements in investigative reporting to individuals or groups of individuals. The last was awarded several years so it is with great pleasure that this year will be presented to Daniel James for his outstanding work.”
“Outstanding!” Dan shook his head. “This sounds like I’ve already been given the award. First I’ve heard of it.”
Jeremy consulted his phone again. “This was announced today. 2 p.m. at their annual luncheon. The presentation will be … at the annual Awards ceremony in May this year.”
Their entrees arrived. Their cutlery echoed in the empty party room.
“Does this sort of thing happen to you frequently?” Dan asked. “Eating alone in party rooms at restaurants to avoid your adoring public?”
“I avoid eating in public as much as possible. When I travel it’s room service. In town it’s eat at home or order in. Banquets and such I usually eat before I get there and pick at what gets served. But you might have to face this soon enough.”
“The Sinclair only adds to your trend factor. I’ve checked trending algorithms and yours trend more than mine do.”
“I trend!” Dan said. “I haven’t considered that kind of success. Even though the show has been good for business. I don’t want to lose my private life. If I do I doubt if it’ll reach the level yours has. You don’t need to trend for people to recognize you.”
“I’m sorry Miss this is a private dining area.”
They could hear the maitre d’ at the door of the party room. Someone had partially opened it.
“I know that but you don’t understand …”
Dan recognized Della’s voice.
“Mr. Moxham is expecting me.” She pushed past the maitre d’. “Really!” she strode into the room. “Jeremy, I do hope you accept my apology.”
Dan indicated the uncorked bottle of wine. She glanced at both them.
“Is it a bad year? The wine steward assured it was a good year. That it would compliment your meal. I don’t … Oh how could I be such an idiot.” A look of understanding flashed on her face. “He’s your … ”
“My client, Della.” Jeremy said firmly. “The wine is perfect but I don’t get my clients drunk.”
“Client!” she said. “At least he’s not your nephew.”
“We’re not related.” Jeremy said.
“Not even by marriage.” Dan said.
“Yet.” Jeremy quickly added.
“You mean …. ” Della begin.
“Yes that’s what I mean. But keep it to yourself, for now, Della & maybe you’ll get to be maid-of-honour when the time comes.”
“Okay.” She turned to leave then turned back. “You better not be hoaxing me Jeremy. I’ll never forgive you.”
“That was a step in the right direction, Mr. Moxham. Let me get this.” Dan said taking the bill. “Loola’s was my suggestion. The food was fine but that floor show was sensational. You can leave a tip.”