The useful brother

Who damn well better not die

Thank God Grant's brother Mike didn't die, that's all I have to say. Grant himself didn't seem all that alarmed by the message from his mother, which he received once we landed in Los Angeles, and which, Grant said, basically imparted the news that Mike had died, but the message alarmed the holy hell out of me.

I should have remembered it was relayed to me through Grant, who himself is given to exaggeration, which, on top of his own mother's flair for the dramatic, meant Mike was probably home nursing a hangnail, but still. Mike is our business manager, mine and Grant's, having guided us through the tricky waters of Hollywood to our present film deal, which is no small feat considering Grant and I are each as Hollywood-savvy as two retarded baboons. Plus, I am secretly in love with Mike, Mike being the nongay quasi-equivalent to Grant, minus the huge freckly head and bad eyesight, so you can't be joking around with me about that.

"Christ," I shrieked, "what the hell do you mean Mike died? You can't say that! What happened?"

I refused to unlock Grant's side of the rental car until he gave me an explanation, but that was no threat since we'd gotten another PT Cruiser, and this one, I swear to God, was the bright yellow of a bad urine specimen. Grant had already refused to set foot in it. It was bad enough, he said, that he had to drive to the airport in Atlanta with me that morning in my own PT Cruiser, which he ridicules as being parcel to my "lesbian taste," even though I am not a lesbian nor have I ever tasted one, but now he is expected to drive through West Hollywood with me in this piss-colored car? "I don't think so," he said, shaking his head with the phone still stuck to his ear.

This is when I knew Mike didn't really die, because if his brother was really dead, even Grant would not have had the emotional stoniness to complain about the kind of car we got. So halle-goddam-lujah. Mike is the only brother out of all my friends' brothers who provides a decent foil for my secret affections. For example, Daniel's brother is more gay than Daniel is himself, if that's even possible, and Lary won't introduce me to his.

Still, though, we didn't really know what had happened to Mike, other than a message from Grant's mother who said he'd been rushed to the hospital. After Grant finally deigned to seat himself in the piss car, he started demon-dialing to discover what happened. Between leaving messages, he surmised that if Mike didn't make it, Grant could move to Colorado and commence helping his sister-in-law raise his nephew.

At this I thought, Lord Jesus God, let that man live. Not because Grant wouldn't make a decent father — on the contrary, his penchant for Mexican busboys aside, Grant is a great father, as evidenced by the perfectly normal and industrious daughter he sired and helped raise back in the day before he started having sex with men — but because if Grant moved to Colorado I would have a harder time haranguing him than usual, and my ability to harangue Grant is basically what gets me out of bed each morning.

But Grant, ever selfish, wasn't thinking of me, no. When he finally reached his brother he'd already figured out how he was going to step in and take over Mike's role in his Colorado household, right down to all the monkey sex he planned to have with his sister-in-law — because, really, make no mistake: Grant is not gay. That's just a rumor started by all the men he's slept with.

Mike, it turned out, had had pneumonia, which was exacerbated, I'm sure, by his inability to stop working. Even as Grant called to inquire as to his condition, Mike had his own inquiries about our trip to Los Angeles, because the fact is we would not even have been there if not for Mike. A few years ago, back when my first book came out, it was Mike, who owns his own media company, who brokered the film rights. It turns out a film project is a tricky process, and a half-dozen times at least I would have let it die on the vine like I hear so many of these things do, but Mike is the one who kept it alive. He is the one who navigated all the industry ministrations to the point where here we were again, in Hollywood, about to take another meeting at the Warner Bros. Studio.

Mike, sick as he was, talking to us from his hospital bed (probably), was characteristically more excited about our upcoming meeting than he was concerned about his own condition. "It's alive," he kept saying of our deal, sounding a little like Dr. Frankenstein. "It's alive!"

"Ask him how the hell he is," I shouted at Grant.

"He ain't gonna die," Grant hollered back at me.

He damn well better not die, I thought, because he's the guy who keeps things alive.

Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy. For more information go to

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