Gold on the ceiling
It’s still quite chilly for these last days of March but the sun rays are making everything better, Lennon holds his hand up, blinking away the spots in his vision. The two of them are smiling and talking about last night while taking the stairs down to Rector Street Subway station.
- You didn’t dry your hair properly, you will catch a cold. - William says to him jokingly and Lennon smiles looking him straight into his blue eyes, almost sickeningly blue -field of cornflower, perfect, cloudless sky blue. Someone should name a crayon after the guy.
- Here, I will pull up the hood over my head. - Lennon responds laughing but actually means it. There’s this unexplainable feeling of wanting to please William. - Anything for you, your highness. - he adds sarcastically. William raises his eyebrows like he likes the sound of that.
-I like you this obedient. -the words send funny feels to Lennon’s stomach. - Wish you were like this last night when I needed to know your address.
The doors of the R-train are opened and they walk in. Gritty, industrial aesthetic of the New York subway is extremely appealing to Lennon. To him it represents what is best about the city, a place where people of every background, doing every activity imaginable are thrown together in a tight space and manage to exist. The train is half empty and they continue to joke about everything and nothing, their knees touching lightly, it feels like they’re a couple of high school kids who skipped class and are now looking for adventure. William’s laugh echoes through the carriage and most of the commuters look at him.
Lennon realises that people can’t help but stare at him, William is a center of attention without even trying. He looks somewhat like a typical American jock but with a posh English accent and effortless charm. It’s like he doesn’t belong here, in this dirty train.
It’s usually Lennon the one who is attracting looks because he was always told that he has a beautiful unusual, almost feminine looking face.
His brief modelling career in London in his late teens is a proof but Lennon really doesn’t want to remember that period of his life now. He is not bothered by the fact that this man is stealing his spotlight. Most of the time, even though he rarely admits this to himself, he hates his face and attention he gets solely because of it. Now he’s just joining everyone in this train and staring in awe at William’s smile as he talks about how he took a wrong train in his first week in New York and ended up in Queens somewhere.
They are on the Upper East Side now, from Central Park Lennon turns right onto 76th street and William follows him. Not long after they are seated in a classic old-time New York bar in comfy brown leather sofas. William looks around Bemelman Bar and he loves it. Walls are enchantingly bedecked in murals by Ludwig Bemelman, ceiling is covered in golden leaves and everything looks so luxurious and expensive but both of them fit right in.
- Liam showed me this restaurant and I loved it, every time I’m in New York I try to go and explore different places but this restaurant feels so homey. Food is amazing too. - William listens to Lennon talk across him while pouring a bit of milk in his steaming hot cup of tea.
- I heard about it before. Looks amazing. Although I feel like I should be wearing a suit not this. - William jokes while comfortable and jazzy lounge music plays in the background.
- I wouldn’t worry if I were you. You definitely look like you belong. I told you, you look pretty posh - he lets his eyes rest on William for a long moment before finally dragging his gaze away - Bet you would look rich wearing a black bin bag. And yeah, this place is pricey but please, don’t worry about the money. - even though they are not super rich and famous Lennon definitely can live comfortably after this tour for a year at least, he thinks. Growing up poor and remembering all the problems that lack of money caused his family he is definitely not a typical rock star that will splash all the cash. He only looks like one.
- Money is not a problem. - William coughs as if he’s embarrassed to talk about money. Lennon thinks he might actually not have much, but he’ll never judge a person for how much money they have in their bank account, but he won’t push it, he lets him change the subject. - Anyway, how’s your headache?
- Not bad. Will be better after all this food- they order more than enough for two of them and drink their English breakfast teas from steaming mugs. William smiles significantly and the waiter brings them their orders.
- You know... I really am so ashamed that you had to see me like that yesterday but also I am a little bit glad it happened as well, because now we get to spend more time together before I go back to London. You’re fun to be around, William.
Did he say too much? Why did he say this at all? There’s no reason to say stuff like this to an almost complete stranger, it sounds weird and desperate. Lennon was never good at hiding his feelings but he was good at not saying what he really meant to unimportant people.
With William though it’s different. He makes him say things without thinking through, staring at him with those intense blue eyes like those bright lights in the interrogation room that detectives point at you if they want you to confess. Lennon thinks William is uncomfortable because he doesn’t respond and the statement definitely catches him off guard. So he coughs and changes the subject.
They sit and sip their tea beneath this 24- karat gold leaf ceiling.
William’s phone is ringing almost constantly during the brunch and even though he is successfully ignoring it most of the time because Lennon gets all his attention he has to apologize and reply to few messages and few phone calls.
- Is it because you didn’t go to work? - Lennon asks him guilt all over his face.
- Yeah but it’s fine. We’re currently doing rehearsals for our musical, we are not yet to perform in front of an audience until next month. I’ve been working so hard, rehearsals 7 or 8 times a week.. I have this strict daily schedule that revolves around the show. It’s exhausting so it’s logical I got sick with the flu right? - William winks after saying this and Lennon nods at that and smiles.
- So you’re assistant director, if I understood right? That’s pretty impressive.
- I’m actually associate director, which makes me a bit more important than assistant. - William admits. - I’m on all creative meetings, I’m in charge of maintaining the quality for production, from giving notes to cast members to casting replacements to running rehearsals.
- Wow, I would love to see your show. It’s only fair, you saw my band yesterday.
- Well we’re still not as big of a production as some others, you might find it boring. It’s a smaller theater with not so popular plays. - William laughs and eats the food in front of them- But I’m having so much fun. It’s my dream. So I don’t mind not doing Hamilton or Chicago at the moment, you know, it’s about enjoying the ride. -
- So why not try it in the West End?
- I just... just wanted to try it out here, I guess. I can always come back home if this fails.
- So this is something you always wanted to do? You said it was your dream?
- I’ve actually been acting first, my mum was a ballerina and got me into all that, so I went to art school in London and was involved in a few plays. Then one of the Broadway casting directors was watching one of my plays and asked me to come to New York, he offered me a supporting role in his musical. I said yes and for the first year here I was acting mostly. But then I found other areas more interesting, I learnt from my directors and one of them invited me to be his associate.
- Man, imagine if you actually wanted to be an actor. Hollywood wouldn’t know what hit them. - Lennon flashes him his signature smirk and William licks his lips nervously.
- Nah, don’t think so... I would never be on the level that you are. You definitely get all the benefits with your type of performing.
- Like what?
- You know... sex, money and rock’n’roll.
- Oh is that so? Are you trying to imply something? - Lennon asks him acting offended, but smiling all the time.
- I’ve seen the queue of girls Lennon, it’s one of those things, isn’t it? If it’s there for taking why not. - he smirks.
- Well I agree. It’s a bonus. But I’m sure I would be doing this even if it didn’t make me rich and famous. Which I’m not by the way, we’re not on that level yet. But music is all I want to do, forever, just be on that stage and perform. With 5 people in the audience or 5000 I don’t care. - Lennon tells him honestly while pulling back his wavy long hair away from his eyes.
- Yeah I know what you mean. Love the stage. Love music too, my uncle Pete used to take me to concerts all the time while I was growing up and I’ve been doing theatre all my life, even though it wasn’t something I was expected to do. - William laughs at the memory.
- What do you mean?
- Well my dad didn’t want me to go to art school. He made me take business and management courses. Anyway my mum was ok with whatever I wanted to do, so I had her support. At least when she was alive. But my dad had other plans for me, he has this big family business that they obviously wanted me to get involved with and I hated the idea of sitting in one office all my life.
- Yeah, me too, always on the move. On some bus or a plane.
-Gypsy life. - William smiles.
- Until you find your home. - William adds wisely. Lennon looks at his eyes significantly.
-So is New York your home? You settled here?
- Um.. for the moment, yeah.. I’m happy here. Miss England terribly but I also ran away from there for a reason so, yeah.. But home is not a place, a country where you’re born or go to work. I think of it as a feeling. Home is a feeling you have when you’re with people you love and that can be wherever you are in the world. But you’re young, you’re in no rush to think about that.
- I’m not that young, please, everyone thinks I’m a baby. I’m 24. How old are you?
- I’m 26. Sorry. Didn’t mean to call you immature or ... - William shifts in his seat- You just... look, y...your face looks young but it’s not a bad thing. You look fine...
- It’s ok I’m not upset, relax. - It is so amusing watching him being nervous like that. Actually the whole conversation was so much fun and Lennon takes in every word, it hits him without warning. He could be sitting here for days only listening William speak about life, work.. Grapes, whatever. He is nodding at everything he says but the waiter is here with the bill and Lennon sadly realises the time with William has come to end. He pays with his card and starts to panic internally.
It’s over, he took him out for brunch to say thank you for taking care of him last night, but brunch is over now, there are no more reasons to convince him to stay. He doesn’t even know why he wants to stay, he has a suitcase to pack for tonight. But William is great and he will just go for it. Maybe they actually become really good friends. So they say thank you to the staff and William starts walking out. Lennon is thinking what to say and he is thinking how all this reminds him of the time when he asked his crush to go get ice-cream in year 8. What the fuck is this feeling? He feels dumb and confused.
- So William would you maybe like to go get some... ice-cream? - Nice one, Lennon he thinks to himself and wants to disappear.
- Or beer? Just any drink? Or whatever? You know.. I was just thinking why not, it’s such a lovely sunny day. And I know you’re off. What do you say?