It had finally happened. After ten years of steady work and much rejection, a single solitary press had agreed to publish my novel. It wasn't one of the majors, but after drafting query letter after query letter, jumping through all the hoops like a trained pony, I hardly cared. Better one than nothing. If I had been able to drink, I would have celebrated with champagne and a Zoom session with my friends and relatives.
I had modest expectations. I, of course, was hoping for a good critical response and maybe even a small cult following. Now I had to sit back and wait to see how I would be received. The local press was enthusiastic and encouraging, and at first, I became a local success around the small city where I lived. Though I am a Southerner, I had deliberately tried to avoid falling into the cliches of Southern literature long mined by authors great and small. Naturally, having grown up here, there were bits and pieces of the culture that made their way into the final gallery proofs and revisions, but I had aimed for my setting to be the proverbial Anytown, USA.
My book sold well around town and began to pick up steam throughout the country. It won the moniker of sleeper hit and even managed, after a few months, to make the prestigious New York Times Best Seller list. After a lifetime of relative poverty, I found my financial situation much more stable and my reputation nationally heightened. I'd had an agent for quite a long time, but though she'd been constantly promoting my work for years, it wasn't until now that she was really able to help. Reputable magazines started cold calling her, asking to set up interviews. NPR called, too.
At first, people knew my name, but not my face. And I kind of preferred it that way. After the first round of relative fame, my Facebook page had been overrun by adoring fans. For a time, I added several complete strangers to my account, but found within weeks that I had to make a great purge of them. They simply would not be patient, demanded my time, demanded a piece of me, and made numerous requests I did not have the time or energy to pursue.
I stopped directly responding to my Twitter comments, most of which were supportive, though there were always a few haters and trolls seeking to bait me. I found I didn't like fame, even minor fame. But I received another piece of great news within six months of the novel's publication. A Hollywood producer (he doesn't want his name mentioned here) said he wanted to pick up the movie rights and turn it into a film. That meant even more money in the bank. I eagerly assented to the proposition.
He asked me if I'd be willing to write the screenplay. This is when we hit the first logjam. I don't know the first thing about screenplays. That's a discipline I never learned, and while I agreed that I would most certainly give my input about what someone else would ultimately complete, that work would need to be outsourced to someone else. The producer wasn't fazed by this and told me not to worry, that he'd look into the matter.
What I didn't find out until later is that my screenplay-to-be-written became a hot commodity among a few names. Many didn't want to take a chance on a complete unknown, but there were more than a few who had seen their star diminish through bad luck and failure who were eager to get back into the game. Now, it was a question of who got to me first.
My phone rang from an unfamiliar number.
"James," said a familiar voice on the end of the line, "it's Lena Dunham."
"Listen, I'll shoot straight with you. I've been making the talk show circuit for the past few years while I try to come up with a new creation---something that has legs. Everything keeps falling flat. I read your book and really enjoyed it. I hope you'll consider me as screenwriter."
I was floored. A name like that, however controversial, would give the project a kind of heft that a cheap little indie picture would never achieve on its own. She continued to say that she'd always wanted to try her hand at directing an entire film, not just the occasional episode of Girls.
And, she admired the themes of the novel. I used to write for a feminist website as the sole male voice, was familiar with the nomenclature and the theory, and tried to live my life as a good male ally. I wasn't intimidated with the perspective and the language, and that in part is what had made the book take off the way it had. Though I had my share of male readers, most of them were women.
But Lena came with some baggage. Attaching her name to the project was high risk, high reward. We both sought to gain from the endeavor, though I stood more to lose. If the film was a flop, there'd be any number of people who would be quick to judge her as a has-been, or believe she was a lousy director. But I could lose even more. A success would mean a call for more books and more movies, but a flop would consign me likely to one-hit-wonder status. Oh, people in my home town would always adore me, but if I ever wanted to court some sort of real, lasting fame, I needed a home run.
Other screenwriters called me, but none with her same celebrity status. And none of them seemed to have the conviction and belief in the project that she did. Granted, maybe she was desperate. I had no way of knowing, but I received a call from her every day until I made my decision. Ultimately, I went with her, and though part of me chose the way I did because I had faith she could pull it off, another very potent force was in play as well.
I wanted her.
Say what you will, and I can hear you scoffing to yourself now, but I wanted Lena Dunham. I'd watched every episode of Girls with rapt attention. I'd empathized with her struggles in writing workshop, as evidenced by the plot. They had been mine as well. Like her, I was also a bookworm, a bit clumsy, and had a habit of sometimes putting my foot in my mouth. You might say I was being led around a little bit by my dick, and maybe I was, but I was convinced that I was going to seduce her eventually.
She was ecstatic when I told her that I'd given her the green light.
"I'm ready to get to work!"
I really hoped I wasn't making a mistake with this. In making this momentous decision, I knew that Lena was going to want to bring around her family of actors and actresses around and lobby to cast them in crucial parts. However, the producer had final say, and his word was final. I prayed that this would not lead to conflict; that this could be an effective blending of the known and the unknown.
All major actors and actresses but one passed on the roles. I had expected this. I was not a big enough name yet and they were already committed to other projects. Aside from Lena's gang, our remaining cast of players were going to be complete unknowns. Nothing wrong with that, if the chemistry's good. People like to root for the underdog, to elevate to stardom the previously obscure. I was hoping that lightning would strike twice: a sleeper hit book would become a sleeper hit movie.
I also was planning to make my moves on Lena as soon as humanly possible. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know what some of you are thinking. How could you be so attracted to a plain, overweight, overly tattooed borderline drama queen? Who knows what drives basic attraction?
But there was a new variable in place here. Should I succeed in making her my lover, or even my partner, our relationship would become common knowledge. We would be photographed together. We would be written about. My privacy, which had already been broached once, would grow smaller and smaller.
People, for reasons of money and curiosity, would start digging into my past. I had led a relatively decent life, but I suffered from bipolar disorder, which had at times made my behavior erratic and unstable. I'd lost jobs and rubbed people the wrong way from time to time. But, in all fairness, so had she. This would all come out, eventually. Would she want someone with a chronic illness, someone frequently rendered utterly useless by depression or slightly delusional by mania?
In fairness, she'd had her share of chronic illnesses as well. She'd been insulted for being hypochondriacal. She'd gone through frustrating medical test after test. I figured if anyone could understand me in that regard, she could.
For the moment, thank God, I was feeling okay. Psychiatrists call that state of being "euthymia." Lena and I worked closely together getting the screenplay up to snuff. I had to rely on her skills in that department, which means we met for hours at a time a day, every day. We were invaluable to each other and found that we had much in common.
It could never be said that I had to imagine what Lena looked like naked. Nude pictures of her were ubiquitous and readily available. I'd found them more than adequate masturbation fodder, but I wanted the whole thing for myself. One day, halfway through the script, we poured over a particularly sensuous portion, which would require a love scene.
Feeling suddenly bold and acting impulsively, I said, "Why don't we act it out now, to see how it will work in the picture? I've wanted you for so long. I promise you won't regret this."
She looked up from her laptop with a sexy look.
"A demonstration? I would like to remind you, sir, to not make promises you don't intend to keep."
She was wearing a loose-fitting black t-shirt and jeans, with no shoes or socks on. We'd both been hard at work and had no need for formalities or to dress up. I doubt she'd even taken a shower or brushed her hair. Within seconds, the t-shirt came off, followed by a black lacy bra, showing the same somewhat smallish boobs with oddly shaped areolas that had encouraged my orgasm many times before.
She'd gotten even more tattoos.
"Jesus, Lena," I said with a smirk, "is there a place on your body that you don't intend to cover with ink?"
"Just a few more, I swear," she replied. "Let's focus on something more interesting than my tats."
I quickly disrobed, madly pulling off my own t-shirt and jeans, then my boxer shorts. For some reason, probably mad desire and impatience, I kept my socks on. I suppose it kept my feet warm, at least.
She was wearing pink nylon panties only. Then she swiftly removed them with one hand. The hair on her head was short, parted in two, and kept in place by a barrette. As I cupped her breasts in my hands, my head trailed down her stomach, kissing across her sexy, curvy, chub. She began to moan softly. I pushed my face into her soft stomach, finally reaching her brown pubic hair, which she had kept closely trimmed and restrained.
My tongue lapped across her clit, emitting more moans of quiet satisfaction.
"Oh, you lick me so good. Don't stop. Don't stop."
You can be sure I wasn't stopping. I stuck my tongue as deep as I could into her cunt, which was sopping wet already. I licked around and around inside, circling, re-circling, focusing on one side for a while, focusing on the opposite side next. Then I sucked both lips gently into my mouth, getting the full taste of her.
Unlike her primary fuck partner on Girls, I wasn't into somewhat demeaning talk and role playing during sex. I can have a dirty mouth from time to time, but I had despised the character she returned to over and over again so much that I was resolved to be the opposite of him in all forms. I wanted to be seen as a civilized being, not an animal.
With people in the public eye, it's tough to know how to separate fact from fiction. You think you know them, but they may well be totally different people from the image they portray. To a lesser extent, this was now true with me. I had hitched my wagon to Lena and she had done the same for me, and now our fates were intertwined whether we wanted them to be or not. I could hear the criticism and tongues waggling already.
Lena Dunham partners up with a nobody, taking everyone by surprise.
I felt something metallic on my tongue, pulled my face away from what I was doing, only to discover that she'd had her clit pierced. One shiny ball pushed out from the top, and its bottom compliment was much larger. In a blue background with yellow type it read, "Blow Me." Lena was kinkier than I'd even imagined. She was certainly having her wish fulfilled.
"Let's take some pictures," she said, a look of glee in her eyes. "We can always fuck later."
This was where I began to have some serious reservations. I'm self-conscious about my body. Not that I really have much to worry about, but I'm a large man who doesn't exactly have a washboard stomach. I'm not fat, but I'm not thin, either. But in comparison with Lena, I'm downright scrawny.
I could see the headline on TMZ. Lena Dunham posts naked picture on Twitter feed with unknown man. It would fuel tabloid speculation. Though it might be a simple matter of Lena simply being Lena usually, it would be my first time sharing such an intimate part of myself with the entire world.
I equivocated. "Alright. We'll do it, but I want to show as little of me as possible."
She agreed. "I just want to show off my new man."
So now we were an item, too. I wondered about her motives. Was she simply using me to get back into the public light? Quite possibly.
We took four or five pictures with her smart phone, my nude body concealed largely behind her very prominent one. I watched nervously as she posted them, one by one, to her Twitter account.
"Now," she said. "Back to fucking."
I had to get myself psyched up again, but it didn't take long. Lena fucking in real life needed a lot of confirmation. "Am I doing this right, baby? Do you feel good?" I was pounding her hard while she was on her back, just as I had seen simulated scores of times before on the television show.
I nodded in the affirmative.
We hadn't gotten far before her cellphone started blowing up. She slid out of me to take a look. All of her close friends, including many of her closest who had been cast on Girls were wondering who I was. Many of these same actors and actresses were going to be acting in the new movie. What did it say if Lena was screwing the impetus and primary inspiration for this new film?
What had I gotten myself into?