Finding Remo (The Tragedy of the Thompson Boys)
Kerry Neilson drove nearly seven hours from New York City to Burlington Vermont in her fifteen year old tinged up red Honda Civic. She wasn't sure if the interstate would ever end passing trees, farms, pastures, and a whole lot of nothing as the car chugged up mountains and hills and then rolled down the other side. She hadn't hadn't realized Vermont was so long.
Kerry's quest took her far off the beaten path but she knew she needed to endure the endless drive on a whim, hope and prayer if she had any chance of scooping the story she had in mind. She was relieved to finally reach Burlington and check into a discount motel but she stared dumbfounded at the clerk who told her she had another hour and a half to travel before she reached the small township she was looking for.
She checked into the characterless motel room and reviewed her notes while she stretched out on the motel bed.
The Thompson Boys (1991-1996) Five Seasons, 173 Episodes
TV Series – 30 Minutes – Comedy/Friendship/Music/Teen
The humorous adventures of a teen boy band, charting their adventures both in high school and on stage.
Nominated for seven Golden Globes. Two wins. Nominated for four Emmy Awards. One win.
Brad Thompson played by Zack Morrison (164 episodes, 1991-1996)
Robbie Thompson played by Tim Reynolds (171 episodes, 1991-1996)
Remo Thompson played by Drexel Daniels (171 episodes, 1991-1996)
Frankie Roosevelt played by Colin Spring (166 episodes, 1991-1996)
Tommy Parks played by Bink Barklow (165 episodes, 1991-1996)
Bob Thompson played by Andy Robbins (88 episodes, 1991-1993)
Shirley Thompson played by Dottie Mae Bell (89 episodes, 1991-1993)
Renny Davis played by Doug Grayson (163 episodes, 1991-1996)
Susie Roosevelt played by Lea McIntosh (112 episodes, 1992-1994)
Carol Jacobs played by Lou Hamilton (104 episodes, 1992-1996)
Mim Soo played by Bri Yao (97 episodes, 1991-1995)
Gertie Parks played by Ce Ce Allen (47 episodes, 1993-1996)
Storyline: Suburban brothers Brad, Robbie and Remo Thompson – along with their pals Frankie Roosevelt and Tommy Parks - form a high school band, struggling to make it big in the music world while also trying to make it through high school. Renny Davis is both their high school music teacher and their agent/manager. Parents Bob and Shirley Thompson keep the boys on track while various girl friends, including Susie Roosevelt, Carol Jacobs and Mim Soo provide the love interests.
Tagline: "We can play that."
Actors were cast in the principal roles based on their musical abilities as much as their acting abilities to ensure authentic performances.
Several songs played on The Thompson Boys television series charted on the Billboard Top 100. The band's first single, "The Day After Yesterday" went to number four and sold more than 3.5 million copies. Other hits included "I'll Fall In Love With You Yesterday", "Meet Me In Love", "Someone I Want to Love" and "I'll See You Forever". The principal actors co-wrote several of the songs heard on the series.
The Thompson Boys made two live American tours, one in 1993 and the second in 1995.
The character Brad Thompson was ranked #6 in TV Guide's list of "TV's 10 Biggest Heartthrobs" (April 5, 2005 issue).
Of the five principal actors, only Colin Spring didn't have previous professional acting experience.
During the first season, Zack Morrison provided narration (similar to The Wonder Years) but the narration was dropped by the beginning of season two.
According to the 1991 TV Guide Fall Preview issue, the Thompson Boys were originally going to live with their music teacher/agent Renny Davis – the parents (Bob and Shirley) were last minute cast additions. The parents do not appear in the pilot episode.
Zack Morrison held out for several episodes at the beginning of the fourth season. Although he finally agreed to return, his character's lead role was greatly reduced for most of that season.
The character Gertie was added later in the series in hopes of boosting the ratings with younger viewers.
Kerry re-read her synopsis for a full length magazine article proposal she hoped to sell:
The Thompson Boys was one of the biggest sensations of the 1990s. A hit television series ran for five years and the group recorded several hit records in addition to performing two tours. They were top sellers in merchandising and product placement. Their 1994 Christmas Special was a ratings hit. They were the 1990s version of the Jonas Brothers.
Now, seventeen years later, The Thompson Boys are popular in cult lore because of scandal and tragedy. Five cast members are deceased, one by suicide, another killed in a gruesome car accident. Three others have experienced serious legal troubles. At least two cast members have been in rehab.
In the most documented and publicized scandal, series co star Drexel Daniels had a real life love affair with Dottie Mae Bell, the actress who played his mother on the series. He was later arrested when Dottie Mae Bell's real life daughter Ce Ce Allen (who played Gertie) accused Daniels of rape.
Recently, Ce Ce Allen was released from Rehab and recanted her rape accusation. But Daniels hasn't been seen or heard from in years. I intend to find Daniels and get his take on the television series, the hit records, and most importantly how the scandal affected his life and what Allen's recanting means to him.
Kerry ordered take out delivery Chinese before turning in early, exhausted from the long drive. It was a dark and gloomy morning when she awoke the next day and she hoped that wasn't an omen for things to come. She glanced at herself in the bathroom mirror, wondering if her appearance would be acceptable should she find who she was looking for. Her blonde curly perm haircut made her look older than she really was (at thirty three) but she hoped she was presentable enough to be taken seriously as a journalist.
Kerry checked out of the motel and followed the GPS directions, travelling a couple of rural state routes and country roads, often going miles without seeing a car or house. She finally arrived at the small driveway that was really nothing more than a large path off the side of the road. Without the GPS she surely would have missed it. A dented silver mailbox on the side of the road read 'Smith, John'.
Kerry turned onto the small rocky and dirt path as distant thunder boomed across the sky. The tiny trail lead through a thick blanket of trees and she wasn't sure how anybody actually lived in such an out of the way place. There were several 'Posted: No Trespassing' and 'Keep out' signs nailed to tree trunks but Kerry wasn't going to let a few signs stop her! She drove across a small wooden bridge with no side rails above a dried out creek bed before the dirt trail emptied into an opening. Kerry saw a house that looked like a ski lodge with a high peaked slanted roof, large windows and exposed wood beams. A thirty-five year old beat up yellow GMC pickup truck was parked on the side of the house but there was no other side of occupancy.
Kerry parked her car in a dirt turnout and climbed out of the car, smelling rain in the air.
"You have the wrong house," A voice told her.
Kerry turned to see a man in bib denim jeans over a red flannel hunting shirt and a weathered and faded old Montreal Expos baseball cap on his head stepping out from the far side of the house. He wore a gray-streaked scraggly beard and he had long black hair that was also streaked with gray, giving him a wild man appearance. His hair was pulled back in a ponytail visible through the back of the ball cap similar to the way a woman would wear the hat.
"Are you Drexel Daniels?" Kerry nervously asked.
"Mailbox says John Smith," came the reply.
"What, John Doe wasn't original enough?" Kerry asked sarcastically.
"You have the wrong house," he repeated.
Kerry knew she'd never forget this moment. It was a good fifteen years since Drexel Daniels disappeared from public view and the publicity shots used in various articles over the ensuing years left him frozen in time. But here he was alive, in person, and it would have been easy not to recognize him as Remo Thompson if not for those penetrating blue eyes of his.
"I was hoping I could ask you a few questions," Kerry said politely.
"You a reporter?" Daniels asked suspiciously.
She nodded yes.
"Who do you work for?" He frowned.
"Myself," she replied. "I'm a freelance independent investigative reporter and magazine writer."
"You still have the wrong house," Daniels told her above another crack of thunder.
"You're a hard man to find," Kerry let him know.
"That's the point," he replied. "So who ratted me out?"
"That's privileged information," Kerry responded. "I protect my sources. But don't worry, I won't tell anybody where I found you."
"What do you want?" He asked unhappily.
"A story," she replied honestly. "Your story."
"There is no story," he told her curtly as he headed toward the front door.
"It already is a story," Kerry let him know as she followed him. "I've come a long way to talk to you."
"I have nothing to say," he barked as he opened the large heavy wooden front door. "You came a long way for nothing."
He slammed the door in her face.
"Please!" She yelled through the door.
"You have the wrong house," she heard him grumble from the other side.
Kerry sighed with defeated resignation. She knew it was a one in a million shot with little chance of success when she started out on this adventure but as she stood there staring at the door a few inches from the tip of her nose she realized how frustrated she felt.
"Wouldn't you rather tell your own story than to have somebody else make it up!?" She yelled through the door.
"Go away!" He demanded.
"You can have full editorial control," she promised. "You'll approve everything I write."
"You have the wrong house," he said one final time before the skies burst and the rain began to fall in sheets.
"Shit!" Kerry cursed as she bolted for her car, getting drenched running the short twenty-five feet to her car.
Once safely inside the vehicle, Kerry thought for a minute, trying to figure out her options. Perhaps snooping around town (wherever that was) might turn up a few clues about the John Smith who lived in the log cabin in the woods.
Kerry could barely see as she turned the car around and started driving out the small path that was quickly turning into a giant mud puddle. The windshield wipers couldn't keep up with the massive amount of rain spilling from the sky and she could barely see where she was going. Suddenly the car lurched, she felt a sensation of turning and falling, and then everything went blank.
### ### ###
Kerry found herself lying in a large soft bed when she opened her eyes. She glanced around and realized she was inside Drexel Daniels' log cabin which was wide and open, modestly furnished with little fanfare or personality. There was a modern kitchen at one end of the open room and a studio looking area on the other but little else to make the place stand out.
Kerry could hear the rain pattering against the roof and she realized she was nude underneath the covers when she slowly moved to get her bearings. Did Drexel Daniels get her naked!? In a previous lifetime and in a different context that may have been a thrilling fantasy come true but now she was mostly embarrassed and humiliated. She felt something on her head and realized it was a bandage. Her side hurt and she felt an ace bandage wrapped around her ribs.
The door to the bathroom opened and Drexel Daniels stepped out, wearing a tee shirt and jeans, barefooted and drying his long hair with a towel. His hair was longer than hers now that it was out of its ponytail.
"What's going on?" Kerry demanded.
Drexel glanced at her and nodded with approval. "Good, you're alive," he noted with relief.
"What in the hell is going on?" She demanded again, feeling violated and compromised.
"You drove you car off the bridge," he reported.
"I did?" She asked with surprise.
He nodded affirmatively.
"My stuff!" She panicked.
He pointed to her laptop, bag and other belongs on the table. "All safe," he assured her.
"What happened to my clothes?" She asked suspiciously.
"You were soaked and muddy," he explained. "I needed to get you out of them."
"All of them?" She frowned.
"Sorry," he shrugged. "You feeling okay?"
"My head hurts," she admitted.
"The car rolled onto the roof. I think you hit it pretty good."
"Don't worry about that now," he suggested.
"Oh God," she moaned. "This is a disaster."
"Tell me about it," Drexel countered. "Now I'm stuck with you here."
She glanced at him, trying to figure out what she should do next. Then she remembered why she drove to the end of the world in the first place. "Can I have that interview now?" She asked hopefully.
"I don't think so," he replied tartly.
"Come on!" She insisted. "You owe me!"
"How's that?" He asked with annoyance. "You're the one who showed up uninvited, trespassing and sticking your nose where it doesn't belong."
"You saw me naked," she retorted, as if that was some sort of payment or IOU.
Drexel looked at her like she was completely nuts. "I was saving your life," he told her.
"And now you have me at a great disadvantage," she remarked. "It's not as if I'm going anywhere."
"Unfortunately," he agreed unhappily.
"So, you'll talk to me?" She asked expectantly.
"Don't hold your breath," he replied.
She fell back on the pillow and groaned. "My career is in the toilet," she revealed sadly. "This story was going to get me back on track."
"Not at my expense," he growled as he took a seat in a lazy boy chair not far from the bed.
"I'm a damn good writer!" Kerry revealed. "I just can't get published. Writers are a dime a dozen. You need a story to get noticed."
"And you think I'm that story?" Drexel laughed. "Man, you really are crazy."
"You heard Ce Ce Allen retracted everything, right?"
"Doesn't matter," Drexel said.
"You're basically resolved of wrongdoing," Kerry said.
"Way too late for that," Drexel sighed. "Besides, I was wrong."
"You didn't rape her."
"She was still under aged," he pointed out factually.
"I don't think most people see seventeen as under aged," Kerry rebutted.
"She was my girlfriend's daughter," he barked. "I was a sick bastard either way."
"It was a long time ago," Kerry said quietly. "I'm sure people are willing to forgive you now."
"Nobody gives a rat's ass about me now," Drexel snapped.
There was a long silence between them. Drexel was staring off into space and Kerry was nervously lying in the bed, afraid to move and not sure what to say.
"Do you believe in redemption?" She finally asked.
"No," Drexel replied. "Once you're dead and buried, you're done."
"You see yourself as dead and buried?" She asked with surprise.
"Stone cold," he remarked.
"Could I have my stuff?" Kerry asked, pointing to her notepad and tape recorder on the table by the lap top. She needed to get his thoughts down before she forgot what he said.
"No," Drexel replied. "You're not documenting any of our conversation."
"I'll just get it myself," Kerry rebutted, starting to push back the covers.
"You're naked," he reminded her.
"That's the price I'll just have to pay," she said, as she slowly turned in the bed and tried to put her feet on the floor.
Her head began to spin and she felt dizzy.
"Oh," she groaned, as she swayed on the bed. "I feel awful."
"Lie back down," Drexel insisted as he jumped out of the chair. "Before you hurt yourself."
"I want my stuff," she said, trying to pull herself off the mattress.
The covers fell away and she was nakedly exposed as she struggled to get to her feet. She knew he could see her backside from where he was but she didn't care. This was going to be her story no matter how much she had to humiliate herself. Her knee was bruised and her foot hurt and she felt herself falling toward the floor. Suddenly, two arms caught her and she felt herself being lifted back into the bed and the covers placed over her. She could smell his breath on her face.
"You're one wacked writer," she heard Drexel complain.
Kerry couldn't focus her eyes for a few moments but when things came back into focus she saw Drexel standing in front of her with her notepad and miniature tape recorder in his hand.
"Thanks," she murmured, taking them from him and falling back on the pillow again.
"What's your name?" He wanted to know.
"Kerry Neilson," she replied.
"Where you from?"
"A small town called Hillsboro in Massachusetts," she replied. "I went to college near there and got my journalism degree. I worked for the local paper for a couple of years but covering school committee meetings and doing lost dog stories got old fast. I started freelancing on the side and when I got a story published in the Boston Globe Sunday magazine I figured I was on my way."
"But you didn't make it," Drexel guessed, taking a seat on the side of the bed.
"Not yet," she muttered.
"What got you in the Globe magazine?"
"Oh, a story about a guy who jumped off a bridge and lived," she said. "How it affected everybody around him."
He stared at her for a long moment.
"You have New York plates on the car," he noted.
"Yeah, I went high-charging off to the Big Apple to make a name for myself," she said with a self-deprecating laugh. "I've gotten a few things published, but I'm waitressing tables on the side to make ends meet. It's pretty pathetic, I guess."
"Why did you think this would be a story?" He wanted to know. "It's been tabloid fodder for years."
"I thought the retraction changed everything," she said.
"Doesn't change anything," Drexel assured her. "I'm still history."
"History can be revised, edited, and changed," Kerry told him. "Different stories have different perspectives. Nobody's heard from you in years. I think people would be interested to hear what you have to say."
"Not after all this time," he sighed. "There's no point."
"Redemption has a point," she insisted.
"Are you hungry?" He asked. "It's lunch time."
"I don't feel much like eating," Kerry sighed, closing her eyes.
"Why don't you rest?" He suggested.
"Am I ever getting my clothes back?" She asked curiously, squinting her eyes open.
"I'm washing them," he explained with a slight grin on his face.
"You're not holding me captive, are you?" She jokingly challenged, not all that upset with the idea.
"Ah, Misery," he said, remembering the movie with James Caan and Kathy Bates.
"But in reverse," she said.
"Only I don't want my story written," Drexel pointed out.
"You should let me write it anyway," she said.
"I'm not crazy," he told her.
"You are if you don't let me do this," she said before she closed her eyes again and this time she drifted off to sleep.
### ### ###
When Kerry awoke, it was later in the afternoon and it was still raining outside. She was lying on her side and when she rolled over she was surprised to see Drexel lying on top of the covers next to her on the bed, his head propped up by pillows reading through her notes, articles and other information on the story idea she was working on ('The Tragedy of the Thompson Boys' was her working title). Under normal circumstances, she would have been enraged by the invasion of her privacy but in this case she wasn't going to say a word and she was glad he was at least interested enough to snoop around.
"You really see me as a victim in all this?" Drexel asked with surprise when he noticed she was awake and staring at him.
"Sure," she replied. "You got railroaded."
He dropped the papers in his lap and glanced at her. "I went off the grid to avoid all this crap," he said.
"I know," she replied. "But don't you think you've been hiding long enough?"
"I've gotten used to it, actually," he said with a grin. "I don't miss the past at all."
"Not even when one of the songs comes on the radio?" She wondered.
"I still get royalties," he smiled.
"I have to go to the bathroom," Kerry announced.
"Your clothes are on that chair over there," Drexel replied, gesturing with his chin to a chair where her clothes were neatly folded, freshly cleaned and dried.
"To much work to put all that stuff on," Kerry said. "Don't you have a robe or a shirt I can use?"
"Sure," Drexel replied, bouncing off the bed, heading for the bathroom, and returning a moment later with a white terrycloth robe with a "The Plaza" emblem on the pocket.
Kerry carefully sat up on the bed and he helped put the robe around her as she slowly stood. He helped her to the bathroom and waited outside the closed door for her to do what she needed to do.
He heard the toilet flush and the water in the sink run for a moment and then the door opened and Kerry emerged.
"Help me back," she requested. "My head is still throbbing when I stand."
Drexel helped her back to the bed and she gladly slipped under the sheets with the robe still on.
"Is there anybody you want to call?" Drexel asked, pointing to her cell phone on the table. "Not that there's any service up here. You'll have to use the land line."
"Na," she said. "I'm good."
"Really?" He asked with surprise. "No guy waiting dinner for you?"
"Hardly," she laughed, trying to toss it off but deep down it hurt knowing she was alone, a struggling writer barely making it with no social or romantic life to brag about either.
One of the reasons why she didn't mind Drexel Daniels seeing her naked was because it had been so long since any man saw her naked. So what if her story subject dragged her out of an overturned car in a mud pit? Did he notice when he stripped her out of her clothes? She was unconscious, of course, but maybe he stared at her fair sized breasts and appreciated her firm figure while he wrapped the ace bandage around her ribs. Maybe she should have shaved her overly hairy pubic area before leaving on the trip but the last thing she expected was to be nude in front of Drexel Daniels of all people.
"What about you?" Kerry asked as she subtly turned the miniature tape recorder on. "No friends up here in the Great Tundra?"
"I have a few acquaintances," he said with a shrug.
"Do they know who you really are?"
"If they do, they haven't said," Drexel replied. "Are you hungry yet?" He asked. "I have some chili-mac cooking on the stove."
"I guess I could eat something," she said.
"I'll get some," he said, starting for the kitchen area.
"So what does John Smith do around here?" She asked from the bed.
"A little bit of hunting and fishing," he answered. "Hiking, kayaking, skiing in the winter."
"You can afford not to work?"
She had her notebook in her hand now, taking notes.
"I saved quite a bit from the old days," he said.
"Aren't you bored not doing anything else?"
He pointed to the recording equipment, musical instruments and several computers in the corner of the room. "I stay busy," he said.
"Mostly, I'm an anonymous script doctor," he explained. "I have a couple of producers who send me stuff to fix. And I do some musical compositions too, jingles for commercials, background music for television shows. That sort of stuff."
"So, you're not totally in hiding," Kerry realized.
Drexel returned to the bed with a plate of chil-mac and a bottle of beer for her. "Not totally," he confessed. "But avoiding the public hysteria has been a good thing."
Kerry put the plate of food on her stomach and nestled the beer bottle between her legs. Drexel went back to the kitchen area and returned a few moments later with a plate of food of his own, along with a bottle of beer.
He sat on the bed next to her and they both ate.
"Were you bitter?" Kerry asked him after a few quiet bites. "About what happened to you?"
"It was my own fault," he said.
"You didn't deserve to lose your career over it," Kerry said.
"Betrayal hurts the most," Drexel admitted. "But I betrayed Dottie first so I got what I deserved."
"It must have been like being hit in the face by a two-by-four," Kerry sighed.
"For her or me?" Drexel asked.
"I have zero sympathy for Dottie Mae Bell," Kerry bluntly told him. "I know it's not nice to speak ill of the dead but from everything I've read and researched she was vindictively dishonest and she got to play the victim while throwing you under the bus."
"She had a drinking problem," Drexel reported. "She wasn't very responsible when she wasn't sober."
"She turned her own daughter into a drunk too," Kerry complained.
"Why did you want to become a writer?" Drexel asked.
"I thought it was an interesting way to meet people and hear about their lives," Kerry replied. "I was a veracious reader but I was a shy kid and a tortured adolescent so I wasn't all that outgoing. Reading and writing was my escape and I enjoyed my journey through literature."
"But you didn't like day to day journalism?" Drexel asked as they ate
"I thought it was silly that I could write crap in the paper and everybody read it but the stuff I was really good at nobody cared about," Kerry sighed. "I got this wonderful short story published in a regional artsy magazine and nobody saw it. When I was younger, I thought I was going to write for everybody all the time but it's not like that. If I get one thing published a month I'm doing great."
"You learn not to care about any of that in Vermont," Drexel told her. "There's a wonderful lake a few miles from here. It's like being in a different world. The lakes freezes and it becomes a highway. Large trucks with ice fisherman drive on the ice!" He laughed. "I couldn't believe it the first time I saw it but its how you fish around here in the winter. It's a tranquil place."
Drexel pointed to the large bookshelf build into one entire wall, full of books, magazines, and other publications.
"And it's a great place to read. Maybe I read something of yours and didn't even realize it," he said.
"If you didn't notice my name I guess it doesn't matter," Kerry sighed.
"Is it about your name or about your work?" Drexel asked.
"Says the guy who had his name everywhere for a long time," she grumbled.
"Sorry," Drexel shrugged.
"Oh, I'm not even sure how I feel about it," Kerry groaned. "I mean, I love when the writing works. But when it doesn't then I tend to get discouraged and lose hope."
"You mean when you're not recognized," Drexel clarified.
"Writing is about telling stories, but how those stories get told makes all the difference," Kerry said. "Being here with you, now, could get this story told, if you allowed it."
"And then you'd be recognized," Drexel challenged.
"Maybe," she sighed.
"How come you're not with anybody?" Drexel asked, taking her now empty plate from her and bringing it to the kitchen sink along with his.
"I guess I've been too busy trying to get my career going to spend a lot of time worrying about that," she replied.
"Sounds like the lonely life," he remarked.
"Says the man hiding in a cabin in Nowhere, Vermont," she replied.
"You know, I was a few days away from turning twenty-four when The Thompson Boys show ended," Drexel said when he returned to the bed with two more beer bottles in his hands. He handed her one and sat on the bed next to her. "I was already a millionaire with a hit television show under my belt and several hit records on the charts," he said. "Really, I was loving life and figuring out what I wanted to do next. I didn't have a worry to think about. The world was my oyster and I was in the right place to open it."
"But then all shit broke lose," Kerry said.
"I shouldn't have slept with her," Drexel freely admitted. "She was only seventeen."
"Why did you?" Kerry inquired, finally able to ask the question everybody wanted to know the answer to.
"It was obvious Dottie and I weren't going anywhere," he sighed. "We grew tired of each other. Ce Ce was always around. I helped her out a few times when Dottie was drunk and being a bitch. It just happened. I'm not justifying it. I'm certainly not proud about it. But Ce Ce needed someone in her life and I was there for her. She was happy to be with me and while I betrayed Dottie, I know I was good for Ce Ce."
"How did you feel when Dottie died a few years ago?" Kerry asked.
"Sad," Drexel replied honestly. "We had some good times together. She was a good person despite all her faults and demons."
"And what did you think when Ce Ce came out of rehab last year and recanted the rape story?" Kerry wanted to know.
"Like I said before, it really doesn't matter now either way," Drexel replied with a heavy sigh.
Kerry continued to ask him questions about the series and the music, occasionally jotting down a note and trying to make eye contact with Drexel when she could, although it was hard doing that as they lay side by side on the bed.
"How old were you when you started your affair with Dottie Mae Bell?"
"Twenty-one," he replied.
"And how old was she?"
"Late thirties," Drexel shrugged.
"How did it happen?"
"We were co-stars and colleagues. We liked each other. We spent time together. We were attracted to each other. I liked the thrill of an older woman being interested in me. It wasn't planned."
"Why did Ce Ce accuse you of rape if it was consensual?"
"Revenge," Drexel replied knowingly. "Self interest. To save face. And to get back at me for breaking it off."
"And why didn't Dottie back you up?"
"I cheated on her with her own daughter for Christ sakes," Drexel groaned. "She would have been justified had she killed me!"
"It takes two to tangle," Kerry remarked, still believing Drexel needlessly took the fall for an out of control girl.
"I slept with Ce Ce," Drexel reasoned. "I knew it was wrong but I did it anyway. It was my own fault. Consent was beside the point."
"Do you resent them for lying about what happened?"
"I wasn't in a position to complain much," he answered. "I was looking at jail time. It was mostly my word against the two of them. And I couldn't deny I slept with Ce Ce so all the rest of it was moot anyway."
"From an older woman to a younger woman," Kerry said sarcastically.
"You think I was a scuz both ways?" He sighed.
"Why did you plead no contest?"
"To avoid a trial and more scandal and humiliation," Drexel answered. "I was guaranteed probation with no jail time and a large fine if I took the deal."
"But it killed your career."
"My career died the moment the story broke," Drexel sighed. "Nobody was returning my calls. I was radioactive."
"What about Dottie and Ce Ce?"
"Are you kidding!? They got more free publicity than they could ever hope for. Dottie's new series was a ratings blockbuster even though the show itself wasn't very good. And Ce Ce milked the scandal for everything she could. She did the sympathy tour on all the talk shows, starred in one of the first ever reality television shows, and became the perpetual victim for the next ten years. Her lying was the best career move she could have hoped for."
"There's something wrong with that," Kerry noted with disapproval.
"Well, they didn't exactly get away with anything, did they?" Drexel asked. "Dottie drank herself to death and Ce Ce was in rehab countless times before finally getting sober, coming clean, and telling the truth."
"Do you want to talk to her?" Kerry questioned.
"And say what?" Drexel sighed. "Sorry I cheated on your mother? Sorry I took advantage of you as a drunk and screwed up teenager? Let the dead bury the dead." "How do you think your life would have turned out had that ugliness not happened?" Kerry asked.
"Who knows?" Drexel replied with a shrug. "Would I be stereotyped as Remo Thompson forever? Could my career continue successfully after experiencing such unbelievable success early? I had a couple of jobs lined up but once the scandal broke I was toast."
"You were a heck of a success as Remo Thompson," Kerry told him.
"I was lucky enough to catch a wave and ride it for five years," Drexel agreed. "That sort of thing doesn't happen very often."
"Were you a better actor or singer?" Kerry wanted to know.
"I didn't have a future in music," Drexel said. "Zack and Tim were much better singers. Acting was my strength and my calling."
"Do you wish you never got in the business?" Kerry asked. "All things considered?"
"Not at all," Drexel replied. "I loved the experience. What happened with Dottie and Ce Ce could have happened if I was a truck driver. It had nothing to do with the business. It had to do with personal faults and failures which happens to become magnified in this industry."
"Because of the make believe?"
"Yeah, and the spoiled nature of being condoled and treated special," Drexel agreed. "My parents did a pretty good job of treating me and my sister like normal kids at home so I was pretty grounded but a kid like Ce Ce who grew up with a high strung mother in the business had it much tougher than me."
"Your sister is in the business," Kerry recalled.
"Yeah, she auditioned for some soap and got it!" Drexel laughed. "First time out! Unbelievable! It took me years of auditions before I finally got my first commercial when I was thirteen. Years more of walk-ons and bit parts but then the casting director for The Thompson Boys knew my sister and that's what got me an audition and then Remo Thompson changed everything. I guess I have my sister to thank for that."
"You were nineteen."
"Playing a sixteen year old!" Drexel laughed.
"You know, in all the research I've done, I can't find you saying a bad thing about The Thompson Boys even once," Kerry noted.
"It was the greatest experience of my life," Drexel told her, finally getting off the bed and walking to the window as dusk overcame the view and the rain continued. He kept his back to her as he remembered the good times. "We all hit it off from the start. We clicked as actors and friends. The music almost came naturally. And when the show took off we knew we had something special. It was a magical ride that I wished never ended."
"And yet once the show went off the air there was nothing but heartache and pain for most of you."
"That's life," Drexel said, turning to face her, his arms folded across his chest. "It just gets magnified when it's Hollywood."
Kerry lifted up her small camera and took a shot of him. "You were the first to flame out," she observed.
"I quit the business," Drexel clarified. "I could have hung around and endured the gossip, rumor, innuendo and scandal, gotten small roles here and there, but I would always be the child molester and perverted pedophile."
"She was practically an adult for god sakes," Kerry remarked with annoyance.
"I just didn't want to do that to my family and the fans who admired me," Drexel sighed. "I didn't want to be Fatty Arbuckle and Pee Wee Herman and Roman Polaski. Every press release would be 'Drexel Daniels, who was charged with child rape in 1996….'"
"How did the rest of the cast treat you once the story broke?" Kerry wondered.
"Well, the show was already cancelled," Drexel said. "Colin and Blink called a couple of times but Zack and Tim really didn't want to involve themselves in the controversy. Zack was breaking out on his solo singing career and Tim got another series so he needed to keep his head low."
"Lou Hamilton was the only one I could find making consistent positive public statements about you during that trouble," Kerry told him.
"Lou was a sweetheart," Drexel said with a wide smile. "We were great pals working on the show and she knew me as a person. I'll never forget her unwavering support standing by me during that mess."
"Do you ever hear from her?"
"She retired from the business in the early 2000s," Drexel replied. "Married a LA Dodger and does a lot of community charity work. I'm glad she's happy."
"How'd you feel when Zack Morrison got killed in 2001?"
"He loved to drive fast," Drexel sighed. "He was the guy with the expensive sports cars. He'd buy a new Porsche every season. He was only thirty-one when he died, incinerated in a fiery car wreck. Such a waste of talent. "
"And Tim Reynolds suicide three years later?"
"It's still hard for me to fathom," Drexel said sadly. "A pointless and tragically needless death. I was probably closest to Tim on the show and we had a lot of fun together on the road. I miss both those guys."
"How do you feel about the legal troubles Colin Spring and Bink Barklow experienced after the show ended?"
"Who am I to judge given my record?" Drexel wanted to know as he walked across the room and collapsed into the Lazy Boy chair. "I'd like to think Bink's tax troubles were honest bookkeeping mistakes and not a conscious attempt at fraud."
"He clearly had a drug problem," Drexel sighed. "But I had a hard time accepting that he was a dealer too. You know, he had fame and money thrust upon him overnight. He was the only one who didn't have previous experience in the business and once the ride was over I don't think Colin knew how to deal with it. He's going to be in jail for a long time though with those three strikes and you're out laws."
"Do you find it ironic that two of The Thompson Boys are dead, two are in jail, and one is in hiding?" Kerry asked.
"I guess its just fate," Drexel sighed. "I don't think we were cursed or anything like that. Or that The Thompson Boys caused us to die early or make bad choices. Generally speaking, we were pretty lucky to be Thompson Boys. It's just how life goes sometimes."
"How'd you feel when Andy Robbins died?"
"I owe a lot to Andy," Drexel said. "He played our father and he was like a father to all of us. He was a veteran actor who had been around for a long time and he was great giving advice and mentoring us. I was disappointed when they wrote the parents out of the show because Andy was the cast anchor and it wasn't the same without him around. I sent his widow a note when he died."
"And Doug Grayson's death?"
"Man, what a shock that was," Drexel replied. "The guy was only 52. Who dies from a stroke at 52?"
"It was hereditary, apparently," Kerry said.
"Doug was a cool guy and he was fun to work with," Drexel recalled. "He was the funny guy on the set and he liked to have fun. He made work fun."
"There's been a lot of loss and tragedy regarding The Thompson Boys," Kerry commented.
"Yeah," Drexel agreed.
"Do you feel like you lost your life?" Kerry wanted to know.
"Look, I wasn't exactly a boy scout even though I had the reputation of being a regular guy," Drexel admitted. "I probably shouldn't have had an affair with an actress who played my mother and was twenty years older than me. I definitely shouldn't have slept with that woman's daughter who was vulnerable, screwed up, needy, and easy to bed. I made mistakes and those mistakes cost me."
"But you take full responsibility," Kerry stated with incredible fascination at that reality.
"I was an adult and I made my own choices and decisions," he replied. "I was nineteen when I got the Thompson gig, old enough to know about ethics, standards, and doing the right thing. The production company tried to help us with the fame when things started getting big. My parents taught me right from wrong. The buck stops with me."
Kerry stared at him with amazement. "I don't think I've ever met someone who takes responsibility, accepts blame and acknowledges fault the way you do," she said. "I didn't know there were still people out there so willing to fall on their sword so easily."
"I didn't rape Ce Ce but I was guilty of poor judgment and being a bastard," Drexel concluded. "What's the point of denying it?"
"You went through an amalgamation of absurdity and horrible publicity, much of not of your own doing but most of it at your own expense," Kerry reasoned.
"But born from my own mistakes," he said.
"How can you possibly make things worse by trying to correct past mistakes now?" Kerry said. "If you let me tell your story maybe you will find forgiveness."
"I'm not seeking forgiveness," Drexel cautioned her. "Why are you so bent on fighting my cause for me?"
"If I don't, who will?" Kerry wondered. "Not you, it appears."
"Look, nobody owes me anything," Drexel told her.
"Don't you think Ce Ce owes you an apology?"
"I'm not looking for one," Drexel stated honestly. "If you ask me, everything worked out the way it was supposed to."
Kerry felt her jaw drop open. "You're willing to rot up here forever?" She asked.
"You think I'm rotting?" Drexel asked, surprise in his voice.
"Well, no, not really," an embarrassed Kerry mumbled, looking away. "But is this the way you see yourself living the rest of your life?"
"I have no interest in living the life I previously led," Drexel revealed. "I'm perfectly content here."
"Why?" Kerry asked with confusion, looking back at him now from her perch on the bed.
"Because here I'm completely free," he reasoned from the Lazy Boy. "I have no idea how my career might have gone after The Thompson Boys, even if Ce Ce hadn't made her ugly claim. Maybe I would've put together a solid career or maybe I wouldn't have. Maybe I would have ended up like Colin or Bink, or Zack or Tim, or even Dottie and Ce Ce. Who knows? But here? The world is green and black and white. I don't have to worry about media types or publicity agents or my next acting gig. I just wake up listening to the birds and the wind."
"This is where you can lose yourself," Kerry realized, suddenly feeling an admiration for him she didn't think she'd understand.
"It's my quiet place," Drexel stated softly "I'm not sure I would've made it otherwise."
"You really don't miss the limelight at all?" Kerry asked. "The crowds at a concert? The cheering? The contentment of a good review?"
"I miss the camaraderie of my fellow actors," Drexel said, leaving the chair and going to the refrigerator for another beer. He lifted one in the air to see if she wanted one but she shook her head no. "The satisfaction of a good performance," Drexel continued as he returned to the Lazy Boy with a beer in his hand. "That high you feel when you know you've done the perfect scene. But I don't miss the fakeness and the bullshit and the constant pressure of satisfying others. And I definitely don't miss the bad publicity."
Kerry turned and looked at his little studio in the corner of the room. "But you still write music."
"I've written hundreds of songs," he admitted. "Some in homage to The Thompson Boys. I guess I'm keeping their spirit alive. With Zack and Tim gone, there will never be a reunion."
"What are your songs about?" Kerry asked, turning back to him.
He smirked. "Forgiveness. Love. Friendship. Redemption. Betrayal. Loneliness. Death. I even sold a couple. As John Smith, of course."
"Why not as Drexel Daniels?" Kerry challenged.
"Because I still like the feeling of silence I discovered here," he answered. "I've found it in my music too and I don't want the noise of the past reentering my life."
"Is there anything you miss about the old days besides what you mentioned before?" Kerry wanted to know.
"I miss the charity work," Drexel said. "I liked visiting hospitals and meeting people in airports and greeting people before concerts and appearing on telethons. It was a way to be thankful for what I had been given."
"Fame and popularity?"
"The opportunity to give back," he clarified. "The ability to make people feel happy."
Kerry sat back against the headboard and sighed, remembering how The Thompson Boys made her feel when she was a teenager.
"What did you expect to find when you came here?" Drexel asked with interest.
"I don't know," she admitted honestly.
"A bitter resentful washed up actor stuck in the past, reliving the glory days in some cloud of irrelevant memories?"
"No," she said strongly. "But I really thought you'd want to salvage your reputation and acknowledge Ce Ce's recantation."
"Most of us only reach the apex a few times in our lives," Drexel said. "But it's the man in the desert who finally finds the water."
"And you found the water here," Kerry stated.
"I found the water," he contently acknowledged. "It's not what I lost that matters, Kerry. It's what I found."
"I've never met anybody like you before," Kerry told him openly.
He nodded as he took a swig from the beer bottle. "I'm at peace," he said happily..
Kerry stared at him for a long time. "I thought I came here to help you," she whispered.
"You sure you didn't come here to help yourself?" Drexel gently asked.
"You really don't need my help, do you?" Kerry realized. "God, I'm blown away by how at peace you are."
"There was no point getting angry about what happened," he said.
"There's this amazing almost supernatural calmness about you," Kerry marveled.
Drexel finished the beer and stood. "Let me help you," he said quietly as he stepped toward the bed.
"What do you mean?" Kerry asked with confusion.
"You've had a rough day. It's getting late. Enough with the questions. There's no mystery here. There's no soul to be saved. There's no trumpet to be sounded. Why don't you just go to sleep and get some rest?"
He took the beer bottles to the sink and returned to the bed, taking her note pad, camera and tape recorder from her, turning the machine off.
"Lie down," he ordered. "Go to sleep."
"I have to go to the bathroom first," she groaned.
"Can you walk without falling down yet?" He asked.
"I'm not sure," she said, slowly sitting up in the bed.
Drexel reached his arm out and she grabbed onto it as he lifted her off the mattress.
"I feel like an old lady," Kerry grumbled.
She slowly stood and Drexel escorted her across the room to the bathroom door.
He was still waiting there when she emerged from behind the closed door five minutes later.
"How are you feeling?" He wanted to know.
"Well, I didn't fall off the toilet," she said with a mocking laugh. "But I still feel like crap."
He helped her back to the bed and tucked the covers over her. "Get some rest," he said. "If you don't feel better in the morning, I'll get a doctor in here."
"Oh, I'm sure it's nothing that serious," Kerry replied. "But thanks."
He dimmed the lights in her area of the cabin and she watched as he walked across the room to his studio area.
"It looks like Remo didn't need to be found after all," she said to herself as she closed her eyes.
### ### ###
It was dark when Kerry opened her eyes and it took her a moment to collect her bearings and remember where she was. She heard breathing behind her and she rolled over in the bed to find Drexel asleep next to her.
"Oh," she said aloud to herself, surprised to realize that she was in the same bed with Remo Thompson of The Thompson Boys.
If only some of those mean girls from high school who used to listen to The Thompson Boys on their walkmans could see her now! They used to call her a dweeb and a loser but who was laughing now!? She smiled as she closed her eyes and fell back asleep.
There was natural daylight in the cabin when Kerry opened her eyes again. She was alone in the bed and she felt surprisingly relaxed and rested. Her headache was gone and when she slowly sat up on the side of the bed she didn't get dizzy, lightheaded or queasy. She slowly stood and when she made it to the bathroom without stumbling, buckling or falling, she decided to take a shower. Unwrapping the bandage from her head, she slipped out of the robe and got the shower water running. The hot water was refreshing and she felt cleanly refreshed when she stepped out of the shower stall. She decided to take the ace bandage off her ribs and figured she might as well get dressed.
Kerry exited the bathroom and walked to the chair where Drexel had left her clothes, slipping them on under the robe. She had just finished when the front door opened and Drexel entered the cabin.
"Well, look at you!" Her host said with a grin. "Feeling better?"
"Much," she smiled. "Thanks."
"The sun is out," he reported. "Looks like a nice day. Do you want to sit out on the back deck and have lunch?"
"Lunch!?" She asked with surprise. "What time is it?"
"After eleven," he answered. "I guess your body was healing itself after yesterday's ordeal."
"How bad is my car?" She worried.
"Don't worry about that now," Drexel advised.
"What, don't you want me out of here?" She asked sarcastically as she went to the window, staring toward the bridge. "I don't even see it."
Drexel stepped up behind her and turned her to the left, pointing to the overturned car that was smashed against some rocks in the creek bed about forty feet away. "The water swept it down some," he explained.
"Oh, my poor car!" Kerry cried. "Do you think it's totaled?"
"Probably," Drexel replied. "Sorry."
"My brother gave me that car about eight years ago," Kerry sighed. "I thought I was going to drive it forever."
"Go out on the deck," Drexel suggested. "I'll make us some sandwiches."
"You're letting me stay?" Kerry asked with curiosity.
"For now," he answered with a grin.
Kerry smiled, feeling accepted. The back deck looked out over a small incline, the creek bed, and plenty of forest, but it was peaceful, quiet, and welcomingly therapeutic as she sat in the sun, letting it warm her face while a gentle breeze sang through the trees and the birds chirped in the distance. She understood why Drexel liked it here so much.
Drexel emerged with a tray in his hands that held two large grinder sandwiches, and two glasses of iced tea, along with a small bowl of potato chips.
"Do you see your family much?" Kerry asked as they sat at the small patio table eating their lunch.
"My sister has a house on Cape Cod," Drexel replied. "We gather there three or four times a year."
"Yes, I read about her managing that theater group in Hyannis," Kerry recalled.
"She still does some work in New York too," Drexel said.
"Do you think she could get you back in if you ever wanted to?" Kerry asked.
"I told you I don't want to," Drexel reminded her.
"Could you go get my tape recorder, pad and camera for me?" Kerry asked politely.
"Oh, are we interviewing again?" Drexel asked sarcastically, but he disappeared into the cabin and returned a moment later with her tools of the trade which he placed on the table.
Kerry leaned over and turned the tape recorder on. "How does it feel knowing that there will never be a reunion of The Thompson Boys?" she asked as Drexel returned to his seat.
"It's probably just as well," Drexel determined. "I don't think we'd ever capture the same magic again anyway. The music's changed. The industry changed. I'm not sure if we'd get away with singing the 90's stuff anyway, although I do think our stuff holds up pretty well."
"What about new stuff?" Kerry asked. "Stuff you've written?" She lifted up the camera and took another photograph of him.
"I guess we'll never know," Drexel said. "But, you know, five years is a pretty good run in this business. The show ended when it was ready to end and our last album wasn't all that well received so it was probably time to call it quits anyway."
"Did you have any indication that Tim Reynolds was depressed or suicidal when you knew him?" Kerry asked.
Drexel let out a heavy sigh. "None," he said honestly. "But I hadn't seen or heard from him in nearly ten years when he died," he said. "Things could have changed. I know he wasn't working steadily after his second series ended. I know he was trying to get back into music but I don't think doing the county fair route was the way he wanted to make his comeback."
"So the suicide surprised you."
"It didn't sound like Tim at all," Drexel said, seemingly deep in thought as he sat on the deck chair staring out at the trees. "I don't think anybody saw it coming. He was an upbeat positive guy who enjoyed life." He brushed his hand through his hair and sighed. "I don't like talking about it. It's not the right thing to do and I'm upset that he did it but I wasn't in his shoes."
"Do you regret never talked publicly about what happened to Tim?" Kerry asked. "I haven't talked publically about anything since I left," Drexel told her. "It killed me not to be able to go to any of the funerals. Zack's. Tim's. Andy's. Dottie's. Doug's. They were my friends and colleagues. That's been the hardest part of my self-imposed exile. I'm left alone with memories of friendship and shared experiences. How am I supposed to make sense of Tim's death?"
"I don't know," Kerry admitted.
"Look, I know people loved The Thompson Boys and Zack and Tim's deaths were traumatic and that me, Bink and Colin disappointed a lot of our fans. I'm sorry about all that. Everybody thinks they know us and what happened to us. But most people never really knew us as people. They knew us as actors and the characters we played and they liked our music and came to our concerts but most of the stories they hear and tell about us aren't quite right or even true. Lore and fandom takes on a life of its own and we end up living a sort of false truth based on perceptions and perspectives and assumptions and gossip and Entertainment Tonight."
"So, are you saying people are wrong about The Thompson Boys?"
"No, they aren't exactly wrong, but some of the stuff just isn't accurate," Drexel argued.
"Zack never had a death wish. He just liked the thrill of speed. It may have gotten him killed but he didn't want to kill himself. And Lou Hamilton's first name really was Lou. It wasn't short for Louise and she didn't change it for a better stage name. Her parents named her Lou Rae. She dropped the Rae professionally. People like to tell stories - some true, some half true and some not true at all. Andy Robbins liked his afternoon cocktail but he was branded as a hard drinker in the press. Colin Spring liked to socialize and he was called a party hound. Ce Ce smoked one cigarette a day at fourteen but she was called a chain smoker. All of us in the business become a caricature, misunderstood, labeled. We get used to hyperbole and false reputations. The legend becomes real. The truth washes away."
"And you don't miss that," Kerry remarked.
"I like the simple life," Drexel replied. "Nobody around here cares who I am or where I came from as long as I'm polite and a good neighbor. They are kind hard working people."
"Just like your fans," Kerry remarked.
"Hey, I had plenty of great fans," Drexel acknowledged. "Don't think I don't appreciate that. I realize that The Thompson Boys are still popular out there and that there will always be sentimental nostalgia whenever one of our songs comes on the radio or the show is rerun on television. I loved every minute of it but I don't need it anymore."
"Life isn't bad," Drexel told her. "I don't need the celebrity anymore. I don't need the money. I faced a tough challenge when things went to shit but now I have a fresh start and I enjoy it."
"You don't feel shortchanged?
"I won't lie," Drexel said, leaning across the table and eyeing Kerry. "When Ce Ce made her accusation, my world came crashing down. I was already feeling insecure about the end of The Thompson Boys and when she went public with our affair and made the false rape claim I feared my life was over. A few months earlier I was presenting the Emmy Award for best supporting actor in a comedy to Rip Torn of the Larry Sanders Show. That robe you wore last night? Got it from the Plaza when I was in New York for an appearance on Regis and Kathy Lee. I loved doing that stuff but suddenly I had no management company. I had no contract. My guaranteed ride was over. The phone wasn't ringing except for the media hounding me about the charges. I try not to remember any of that stuff now but it was tough back then."
"How'd you find this place?" Kerry asked, glancing around at the surroundings.
"My sister," Drexel replied. "She's the one who told me to get out of town for a while. She found this place through a friend. It was a doctor's get away place but he died and the estate was looking to get rid of it. Got a good deal on it." He glanced around too. "I figured this was about as far away from The Thompson Boys as I could get!"
"It's a long way from Paramount Studios," Kerry remarked.
"Sometimes I miss working the crowds and talking to fans and sinking my teeth into a great part but all that ended when Ce Ce dropped her bomb," he said.
"What do you want people to know about you now?" Kerry asked softly.
"Well, I'm not sure who even cares about me anymore," Drexel replied. "I doubt Ce Ce's retraction will change many minds about me anyway. I'm still the guy who seduced an under aged girl, the daughter of my girlfriend. Some will never forgive me for that. But I was a good person and a good actor."
"I can tell your story if you let me," Kerry told him.
"Nobody cares about my story," Drexel replied. He stood and stretched in the warm sun and then glanced at her. "But I do have to admit that this has been like therapy for me," he said. "Talking to you. I haven't talked about this stuff in years."
She smiled. "It's been a long time since your last interview, huh?
"Larry King Live on CNN a few days after Ce Ce went public," Drexel revealed. "I was trying to do damage control but they put on some spokesperson for the Prevention of the exploitation of children or something and I was sunk."
"I'd give you a fair chance to tell your side of the story," Kerry insisted. "The full story."
"I don't need to anymore," Drexel said. "I'm no longer desperate. I've changed. I've learned what's important in life."
"What's important in life?" Kerry wanted to know.
Drexel smiled as he walked off the back deck and stepped toward the woods behind the cabin. Kerry followed, relieved to discover that she was still feeling pretty good and wasn't weak or lightheaded.
"To be true to yourself," Drexel finally answered as he examined some flowers growing along the tree line.
"How do you do that?" Kerry wondered as she snapped another shot of him with the camera.
"By acknowledging the pain and then moving on," Drexel said. "I hurt both Dottie and Ce Ce. I hurt myself. There was a lot of guilt and shame involved in all of that. Then Zack and Tim died. And Andy and Dottie. Then Doug. A lot of loss, especially way out here on my own. But you can only grieve for so long. You never get over the loss but you learn to live with it."
Drexel gestured for Kerry to walk with him along a path that cut through the forest behind the cabin.
"You're not much of a complainer," Kerry observed, feeling the coolness of the shady trees above them.
"I've always been a guy who looks ahead," Drexel told her. "No point dwelling on the past."
"And what do you see when you look ahead?" Kerry wanted to know.
"A long path," Drexel joked, gesturing ahead of them. "If we walk long enough we'll come to that lake I told you about yesterday."
"What do you see when you look ahead in your life?" Kerry clarified.
"I'm not sure, to tell you the truth," Drexel admitted. "It's been fifteen years since I left it all behind. I enjoy being a script doctor and working on my music as a hobby but truthfully I don't think about the future a whole lot. I guess today is what matters most."
"You see yourself spending the rest of your life here?" Kerry asked.
"It's very beautiful, serine, peaceful, and quiet out here, don't you think?" he replied.
"What about your social life?"
"There's square dancing on Saturday nights, clam bakes in October, a town Christmas party in December."
"What about your romantic life?" She tested.
"What about it?" He asked, looking directly into her eyes which caused her to blush and look away.
She was surprisingly quiet all of a sudden as they walked along the path.
"What about your romantic life?" Drexel teased after a while.
"I don't have one," Kerry answered, a bit more bluntly and honestly than she meant too.
God, Kerry thought to herself. I really am a dweeb!
"Do you live alone?" Drexel asked.
"I live on a friend's couch," Kerry sighed. "I can't afford my own place. I don't even know how I'm going to afford getting another car."
"Oh," Drexel said, continuing to give her the eye. "So, finding Remo Thompson and writing the Tragedy of The Thompson Boys really is your salvation, huh?"
"That was my rationale," she admitted, feeling sheepish for being such a transparent media whore.
"And what are you going to do if you don't get the story?" He asked.
"Go back to Hillsboro, probably," she sighed with defeat. "On a bus," she added sadly.
"See the stone wall?" Drexel asked, pointing to the old fixture in the nearby woods. "Some farmer built it two hundred years ago. This area was all an open field back then."
"I'm sure it took a lot of hard work," Kerry remarked.
"The thing is, the farmer is long gone, yet the work remains," Drexel remarked. "In the form of the wall. It doesn't even serve a purpose anymore but it's still there."
"Yeah?" Kerry asked, slightly confused.
"I can go on YouTube right now and catch an episode of The Thompson Boys or one of our videos or even some of the concerts," Drexel explained. "The Thompson Boys might be gone but the work remains."
"I guess," Kerry agreed as they continued their walk along the path.
"I googgled you last night," Drexel revealed.
"What for?" She asked with surprise.
"To check out your work," he replied. "You're a good writer, Kerry. Your work will survive."
"You saw some of my stuff?"
"The magazine piece about the guy jumping off the bridge," he acknowledged. "And I found that article about the moose in the swimming pool. That was laugh out loud funny."
"Thanks," she said with appreciation. "But it doesn't really matter now. I'm not making it doing this. I'm going to have to go back and grovel for my old job at the hometown newspaper."
"Is it any good?"
"The Greenville News and Dispatch?" She shrugged. "Yeah, I guess. I'd love to do a column but I'm sure they'd put me back on one of the local beats."
They walked in silence for a while, taking in the surroundings, the smells, and the sounds. Drexel pointed out the cellar hole from a long burned down old fire house with the fireplace and chimney still partly standing, and a forgotten graveyard that was so old that the etching on the stones were illegible. Kerry took several photographs of him in various settings.
"I go on the Find A Grave website once in a while," Drexel told her.
"What for?" Kerry asked.
"To look at Zack and Tim and Dottie and Alan and Doug's gravestones," he admitted. "I'd like to visit them in person someday."
"You really could have gone to their funerals, you know."
"Those funerals weren't about me and if I showed up at any of them it would have been all about me," he sighed. "The media would have shown zero sympathy or understanding of the situation. Zack and Tim's were both circus shows as it was."
"Conspiracy theorists like to claim Tim was murdered instead of a suicide victim," Kerry remarked.
"People who don't know what they're talking about shooting their mouths off again," Drexel commented as they examined some of the old stones in the graveyard. "Sometimes I come here and pretend I'm visiting one of their graves."
"Are you ever going to come out of hiding?" Kerry asked.
"Don't you think I'm better off dead like this?" He asked with raised eyebrows.
"To be honest, I was convinced that you needed to reemerge from the great beyond and maybe even stage a comeback," Kerry admitted.
"With the help of your magazine article."
"Of course," she grinned.
"But now?" Drexel asked as they slowly left the graveyard.
"Now I'm not so sure," she confessed. "Maybe you are better off leaving Remo Thompson dead and buried and living your private, secluded, care free life."
"Even if it cost you your magazine article and future?"
"Yes," she said.
"You could still publish something without my permission," Drexel pointed out as they headed back to the cabin on the path.
"I would never do that," Kerry said strongly. "I have journalistic standards no matter how desperate I am."
"You've already gotten plenty on tape," Drexel observed.
"It's all off the record unless you sign a release," she told him.
"Oh?" he said with interest. "You'd really stand by that?"
"Gee, now it's my turn to be impressed with you," Drexel said with a grin. "I never met a journalist with as much class as you before."
"Come on," she said, rolling her eyes. "You've dealt with hundreds."
"I have," he confirmed. "I can't tell you how many times I was misquoted or had a hatchet job done on me," he said. "Sometimes somebody would ask me for a quote on some unimportant issue and the next week it would be splattered all over the tabloids as something racy or controversial. And once Ce Ce make her claim they were unmerciful."
"I'm sorry," was all Kerry could think to say.
They didn't talk for the rest of the walk back to the cabin. It wasn't necessarily an uncomfortable silence. Actually, it was rather contented and peaceful and Kerry liked being a part of his quiet unknown world for a while. It certainly was peaceful in the woods.
"I guess I should probably call someone," Kerry sighed when they reached the cabin.
"About what?" Drexel asked.
"My car," she groaned.
"I can give you a ride," Drexel offered.
"Hillsboro is like five hours away," she said. "But maybe you could give me a lift to the nearest bus station."
"Sure," Drexel agreed. "But why don't you stay another night?" He suggested.
She was surprised by the invitation. "What for? There's no story here if you don't agree to it."
"It's been nice having you around," he let her know with sincerity.
"You slammed the door in my face yesterday," she complained. "Left me out in the rain. Told me to go away."
"That was rude of me," he admitted. "I apologize."
"Well, I was trespassing," she said as they entered the cabin.
"Why don't you let me make it up to you?" Drexel suggested. "I'll take you out to dinner tonight."
Kerry couldn't believe Drexel Daniels was asking her out! (Sort of). "Is there actually a place to eat around here?"
Drexel laughed. "Believe it or not, yes!"
### ### ###
Kerry didn't bring anything fancy to wear but Drexel let her know they were going to a casual place. She stood in the bathroom behind the closed door examining herself in the mirror. Drexel Daniels! Remo Thompson! Unbelievable! Was she compromising her journalistic integrity going out with the guy? Who cared! Remo Thompson!
Kerry laughed at the situation she found herself in. If only this had happened fifteen years ago! Oh wait, that would make her the same age as Ce Ce Allen (almost). Would that be wrong? Hell, Kerry would have slept with any of the Thompson Boys back then! She wasn't so sure she wouldn't sleep with this one now! What the heck – he already saw her naked.
Luckily, Kerry had packed a simple flowered sun dress and it didn't look too bad on her as she took one last look at herself in the mirror. She had brushed out her hair and applied a small amount of make up since they were going out in public. Drexel had pulled his hair back in a pony tail again when she emerged from the bathroom, wearing a pair of clean jeans and a polo shirt and sneakers that made him look slightly odd given the mountain man appearance from yesterday.
"You look nice," he let her know.
"Thanks," she said with a smile.
Drexel walked her to his beat up pick up truck which she had a little bit of trouble climbing into. It was nearly a ten mile ride along back roads with little to see besides trees and mountains until finally Drexel pulled the truck into a large parking lot in front of an old building with a huge 'Elmer's' sign sitting on the slanted roof. The establishment was a combination general store/diner/gas station/pool hall/tavern! Kerry had never seen anything quite like it before!
There was music playing when they entered and Drexel led her to the diner area which had several tables and a wall of booths as well as a serving counter. Drexel said hello to several people and the waitress greeted him by his first name.
"Who's your lady friend?" The forty-something with bleached yellow hair asked.
"This is Kerry," Drexel said with a grin. "Kerry, this is Betty."
"Welcome to Elmer's!" Betty said happily. "Always nice to see a new face. And a pretty one too!"
Kerry smiled. "Thanks."
The menu was simple and basic yet appealing in a strange way. Kerry ordered a Cobb salad with iced tea while Drexel went with the meat loaf house special. A guy in bib coveralls and shit-kicker boots called Drexel over to the pool tables and he excused himself for a moment.
"So, are you the girl he's been waiting for?" Betty asked when she returned with Kerry's iced tea and Drexel's beer.
"I don't think so," Kerry replied, seeing how they'd just met yesterday.
"He's never brought a lady friend in here before," Betty observed. "And he don't date much either. I was sure he was waiting for the right one. You sure you're not her?"
"No, I'm not her," Kerry said, not meaning to sigh.
"Maybe you are, honey," Betty whispered with a smile before disappearing from the table.
Drexel returned to the table a moment later. "Sorry about that," he said as he slipped into his seat across from her. "That's George. He wants me to help him move some stuff."
"You're a good neighbor," Kerry smiled.
"You'll never last in these parts if you aren't," Drexel grinned. He glanced around the room. "So, what do you think of Elmer's!?" He laughed.
"I could write about this place," she smiled. "I bet you like it here."
"You can't ask me any questions," he teased. "You forgot your tape recorder!"
"I have a good memory," she replied. "So, how come you don't date much?"
"Well, for one thing, there are more cows than women around here," he joked.
"Any other reason?"
"Never met the right one yet, I guess," he said with a shrug. "What about you?" He wanted to know.
She blushed and turned away. "Too busy," she mumbled.
"Come on!" He encouraged. "A pretty professional woman like you?"
"There was a guy for a while," she admitted.
We broke up a while back," she sighed. "It's one of the reasons I'm on my friend's couch."
"It's not a big deal, really. My work has always been the most important thing to me. He didn't like that."
"Guys always like to think they're the most important thing in the world!" Drexel noted. "Who broke up from whom?"
"He broke up with me," she groaned. "Asked me to leave."
"That was pretty rotten of him."
"Tell me about it," Kerry sighed. "Anyway, it really doesn't matter now. Back to Hillsboro for me."
"You could stay here," Drexel told her.
"Yeah, right," Kerry laughed, not taking him seriously. "You really like it here, don't you?" She said, studying Drexel for a moment.
"Yeah, it's a nice place to be," he said.
"I'm glad you're happy," she said.
"I didn't say I was happy," Drexel remarked. "But I am doing the best I can."
Kerry nodded but didn't say anything.
"Are you happy, Kerry?" Drexel wanted to know.
"Well, let's see. I have no place to live. I just wrecked my car. My story pitch isn't working out. I have to move home. Sure, I'm just peachy," she said sarcastically.
"You don't have to move home," Drexel told her.
"What else can I do?" She sighed. "I'm broke and out of options."
Betty returned with their meals and Drexel joked with the waitress for a moment. When she was done putting the food on the table, Betty left and Drexel returned his attention to Kerry.
"You could stay here," he said.
She frowned at him. "That's the second time you've said that."
"I know," he said.
"What are you talking about?"
"An idea came to me," he admitted, rubbing his fingers along the bottom of his bearded chin.
"What kind of an idea?" She asked suspiciously.
"Forget about the stupid magazine article," he told her.
"I really could have done a good job with it," she complained.
"Write a book instead," he suggested.
"What?" She asked, stunned by his comment.
"I'll give you full-fledged access to all my files, letters, memorabilia, artifacts, scripts, photos, the works," he informed her.
Kerry's mouth dropped open. "You're kidding, right?"
He shook his head no.
"Why would you do that?" She asked with disbelief.
"Maybe it's time," he replied.
"Time to tell your story, you mean?"
"Time for you to tell my story," he clarified.
Kerry sat back in her chair and stared at him. "Oh My God," she mumbled.
Drexel smiled with approval. "That's what I thought you might say."
"Hold on," Kerry said, brushing her hand through her hair. "I just can't publish a book!"
"Why not?" He asked innocently.
"Because, you need an agent, a publisher, up front money…."
"Don't you think I still have a few connections?" Drexel grinned. "Don't you think there are a few bastards out there that would kill for an authorized uncensored book on The Thompson Boys and me?"
"I don't know," she said honestly. "You're the one who said you're dead and buried, that nobody remembers you, that nobody cares."
"I was thinking about calling it 'Finding Remo – the Tragedy of The Thompson Boys'," he said.
"Interesting," she said.
"This can't be a tell-all book though," Drexel told her. "I mean, I'll be honest about stuff from my viewpoint but I'm not willing to tell out-of-school stories about my colleagues, co-workers, and friends. No back-stabbing or unfair portrayals."
"No sexual dirt on Dottie, Ce Ce or any other woman I've been with either."
"Well, you'll have to come clean about the affairs," Kerry insisted.
"Just not graphically," Drexel rebuffed.
"No porn," Kerry agreed. "That's fine."
"So, do we have a deal?" Drexel asked.
"Are you sure about this?" Kerry asked nervously. "This will be a huge undertaking."
"I trust you, Kerry."
"I've never written a book before," she worried.
"I trust you," he repeated. "Will you do it?"
"You want me to stay here with you and write a book about you?" She asked for clarification.
"Yeah," he replied.
"I'll have to do some travelling," Kerry said. "Interview other people and that sort of stuff."
"Fine, once we get the first draft down, you can start doing some road trips."
"We?" She raised her eyebrows.
"This should be a collaboration," he replied. "You'll be the primary writer. You'll interview me. You'll write the prose but I still get editorial control."
She stared at him for a long moment, her breath taken away. Finally she reached her hand across the table and he accepted it in a shake. "Deal," she agreed.
"I'll contact my connections and start lining up all the legal stuff," he said. "There will be contracts and all that happy horseshit."
He nodded. "Good. Welcome aboard!"
"Thank you, Drexel," Kerry said, trying to prevent her eyes from watering up. "I can't tell you how much this means to me."
"It means a lot to me too," he said. "So…..you'll stay?"
"With you?" She asked. "In the same cabin?"
He nodded again. "Working together."
"Where am I supposed to sleep?"
"The bed seemed to work okay last night," he shrugged.
"We just met," Kerry told him.
"I feel like we met a long time ago," Drexel admitted.
"Well, actually, we did," Kerry giggled.
"I went to the second Thompson Boys concert tour in Boston when I was sixteen," she revealed with a huge grin on her face. "My mom took me with a friend and her Mom. We even waited for you guys as you came in off the bus."
"Oh really?" He grinned. "I hope I didn't say anything stupid!"
"You were the perfect gentleman," Kerry smiled. "You stopped in front of me and signed my concert program and you said hello to us."
"So, you were a Thompson Boys fan?"
"I hope that doesn't kill the deal," she worried.
"No, not at all," Drexel replied. "Makes it better really. You already have the insight, understanding, and appreciation."
"I loved The Thompson Boys," Kerry revealed. "It's one of the reasons I so desperately wanted to do the story."
"Why me?" Drexel wanted to know. "You could have found Colin in jail or tracked down Bink a lot easier than trying to find me."
"You were always my favorite," she admitted.
"Right," he said cynically. "You looked past Zack's movie star looks and Tim's great voice."
"Yep," she laughed. "Oh, don't get me wrong, I thought those two guys were dreamboats but I identified with you the most."
"Why?" He asked with surprise.
"Because Remo was the most down to earth, normal and regular of everybody in the band," she explained. "Brad and Robbie were the heartthrob populars, Frankie the joking comedian, and Tommy the serious brain, but you were the nice regular guy."
"It was my character," Drexel reminded her.
"I followed you enough – and researched you enough – to know that you're not that much different from the character you played," Kerry said. "Even since we met yesterday that's been pretty obvious. You could have taken advantage of me and you didn't and now you're not so subtly trying to help me out with a potential book deal."
"Maybe I'm just trying to help myself out," he rebutted.
"In what way?" She questioned.
"Using the book as my redemption ticket," he offered.
"You could just call up Oprah for that," Kerry laughed. "You'd be on television tomorrow."
"Well, maybe I'm just trying to help myself out personally," he said.
"By having me stay?" She asked.
He shrugged but didn't say anything.
"Do you think I'm the one you've been waiting for?" She whispered, remembering what Betty had said.
"Yes," he replied in all honesty. "I do."
"When I saw you in the car wreck," he said. "I knew."
"It was my fault of course," he sighed. "I sent you away in storm. You didn't know where you were. That's why you drove off the bridge."
"It was raining pretty hard," she said.
"I heard the crash. The horn sounded – you probably fell against the steering wheel. I ran out in the rain. The head lights were still on. When I got to the car you were lying on the roof inside. The creek bed was quickly filling up. You would have drowned. And as I struggled to get the door open I could have…do you remember anything?"
She shook her head no. "Not until I woke up in the bed," she said. "Naked," she added for emphasis.
"I could have sworn I saw you open your eyes as you lay there," he told her. "And you looked at me. Not with fear or panic or desperation, but with a peaceful, trusting, almost angelic look on your face, as if you knew I was there to rescue you."
"Not rescue," she said quietly. "Save."
"I feel the same way," Drexel told her. "That you're saving me."
"That night in Boston when you smiled at me and signed my program was the greatest night of my life," Kerry revealed. "No hype or anything. I felt something then and that's why I came looking for you."
"I'm glad you found me," Drexel said.
"I've been kind of a mess," Kerry admitted.
"Me too," Drexel grinned. "But I have faith in us."
They finished the meal and played a few games of pool before heading back to the cabin on the warm summer night. Kerry suddenly felt awkward and unsure when they went inside the cabin, uncertain as to how she should act. She was lightheaded and dizzy the night before so sleeping arrangements and other things weren't a factor but tonight, as his guest, co-writer, and potential house-mate, Kerry wasn't sure what she was supposed to do.
She went into the bathroom to freshen up and she put on the robe Drexel had given her the night before. When she returned, Drexel was in his study area pecking away on the computer keyboard.
"I'm e-mailing a few of my contacts with the book pitch," he let her know. "I'm letting them know I found the perfect writer for the project."
"What if they don't want me?" She worried.
"Then there's no book," Drexel said plainly.
Kerry appreciated his support and belief but she wasn't sure if she could really pull off writing an entire book. She chewed on her lip as she stood in the middle of the room watching him type away.
"Awkward transition, huh?" Drexel asked.
"Sort of," she admitted. "Sorry."
"Don't be," he smiled.
"I've always been rather socially inept," she confessed. "My romantic life hasn't exactly been an award winner either."
"I've been out of the game for a long time too," he said, focusing on the computer screen. "Everything's going to be fine."
"You think so?"
"Yep," he grinned.
"Because it's time," he said. "Because it's right."
Kerry couldn't believe any of this. She started her journey on a pipe dream fantasy of somehow convincing Drexel Daniels, the lost Thompson Boy, to agree to her magazine article idea. Now she was going to be writing a book about Drexel's life and – apparently – live with him.
She lay down on the bed and fell asleep to the sound of Drexel's banging on the keyboard.
### ### ###
It was dark when Kerry opened her eyes and heard Drexel's breathing behind her. Her buns were wedged into his groin though she was still in her robe and Drexel was dressed too. She smiled and fell back asleep.
There was natural daylight in the room when Kerry opened her eyes again. She was alone in the bed and she felt wonderfully relaxed and happy. She glanced around and realized Drexel was gone and for a brief moment panic overcame her but then she heard his truck rumbling up the driveway and she smiled with relief.
The front door opened and Kerry barely recognized Drexel who was clean shaven with a short haircut that exposed all his lovely facial features. He looked like a new man and Kerry had to admit that he looked a lot like she thought Remo Thompson would look fifteen years later.
"Good morning," Drexel smiled happily.
"You look great!" Kerry marveled.
"Thanks," he said. "I figured it was time for a new look."
"It's really the old look," she noted.
"Yeah," he agreed. "No more hiding."
"Well, I'll still be John Smith around here," he said. "I need to take a shower," he said. "All the cut hair is making me itchy."
"Okay," Kerry said, watching him walk to the bathroom.
She waited a moment wondering how bold she really was and how willing she was to act out on a fantasy she had since the first time she saw The Thompson Boys on television and heard one of their songs.
The sound of the shower could be heard on the other side of the door. Kerry climbed out of bed, slipped the robe off her shoulders and walked naked into the bathroom. Sucking in her breath, she pulled back the shower curtain and Drexel looked at her with an inviting smile.
"I've been thinking about some ideas for the book," Kerry told him.
"Why don't you step into my office and we'll discuss them," Drexel replied with a welcoming smirk.
Kerry started singing her favorite Thompson Boys song as she stepped into the shower.