Having been duped by a Baltimore car chopping gang and dominated by the gang’s leader, #oung Rick Hernandez is left holding the bag on a police raid and enters a no-win probation period. He must stay away from the gang, but the gang leader isn’t going to let that happen. Additionally, the boyfriend of Rick’s female parent wants more from Rick than from Rick’s female parent. But all Rick wants to do in life is fix cars.
Dreaming of leaving Baltimore and all its pressures, Rick falls in with a cinematographer, Douglas Groton, who wants Rick to star in a gay male "art films" film, Journey to Mirage. This film takes fantasies Groton makes Rick weave during sexual encounters and films them as progressively intense sex scenes for the movie while the film crew travels across country from Baltimore to the Mirage Gay Male Art Film Festival held just to the west of Phoenix, Arizona.
The filming of Rick’s fantasies becomes increasingly intense and threatening during stops in central Virginia, Asheville, New Orleans, Dallas, and Amarillo, and Rick fears for his safety and future when Groton starts introducing another “star” into the photo shoots. At the urging of a member of the film crew, Rick begins to pull away from the mirage of the goal to become a movie star by way of a win for Journey to Mirage at the film festival and to redirect his interests back to auto mechanics. But pulling away leads to even more dangerous sexual adventures in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, which put Rick back on the road to Phoenix when the movie wins the festival grand prize and Rick becomes a box office draw.
Only fate and the love of a man who is trying to save Rick from himself has a chance of stopping the relentless pull of the mirage of filmed sex in Rick’s life.
The cook had fed us with steak and cleaned up and left, leaving the two of us alone. My host put some soft music on and lit the fire. The wine had been excellent and I was feeling it in my head. The white bear-skin rug in front of the fire looked so inviting, and I wanted my head to stop spinning, so I laid down on that on my belly, facing the fire, staring into it and becoming quite mellow. My host left me there for a short time, letting the fire and the music and the soft rug and the buzz from the wine float me away.
He was back, in a short cotton robe. He must have been at least in his late forties or early fifties, but he’d aged well. His leg muscles were firm and I thought that he must have been an athlete at one time—and probably still worked out. As he leaned down to me, the front of the cotton robe opened and I saw a well-developed chest with a matting of salt-and-pepper curly hair running from his chest down in a thin line to where the lapels of the robe met.
“Some port or cognac?” he asked in a rich baritone. His face was distinguished. A lawyer or a banker or corporate CEO. Even after two weeks, I didn’t know. He spoke little about himself, showing more concern for me. So kind. If he hadn’t found me at the side of the desert highway, brought me to this big house on the ridge above Santa Fe, and had a doctor in to look at me after what the beating and the hours on the sand by the highway had done to me . . .
The steel gray hair was expertly cut, a perfect-teeth smile. A slight scar under his left eye—his eyes were hazel and so alive—only served to emphasize how handsome his chiseled features were. Model handsome. A healthy Santa Fe tan smoothed out the laugh-line wrinkles.
“No thanks, Mr. Grimes. Another drop of alcohol and I’d go right to sleep.”
“We couldn’t have that, now, could we?” he answered, the low laugh conveying his mood. “And I’ve told you, it’s Bill.”
“I have trouble with that . . . Bill. You’ve been so kind, and there’s such a divide between us.”
“We must see what we can do about that too. Here, take a look at these. I work with photography. I’d like to know what you think.”
He was handing a folder to me. I opened the cover to find a set of loose photographs. The ones on top were art shots—nudes—of a young, handsome youth. A bit younger than me. About nineteen, I’d guess. The photos were expertly done, although it wasn’t the artistry of them that took my attention. Toward the bottom of the pile, the photographs were more explicit—much more explicit as I leafed through to the bottom of the stack. And the youth wasn’t alone. Grimes too was in these photos. I turned my head toward the sofa to see the cotton robe fall onto it in folds.
I shuddered and stiffened as his body came down on top of me, covering me full length. My torso was raised on my elbows, as I was fanning through the photographs. His hands laced in underneath me and he was unbuttoning my shirt and then pulling it off my arms.
“Relax,” he whispered in my ears. “Just concentrate on the photos and let your body drift with me.”