Go to all chapters of "Medium Security".
"Where are we?" asked Brian.
The snow had stopped falling, but it was beginning to get dark and it was hard to see out of the Lincoln's fogged up windows.
"This is Liberty Avenue," said Ron. "It's right down this way." He turned the Lincoln down Barker Place.
"Liberty Avenue?" Brian frowned. "Isn't that kind of a... a crummy neighborhood?" All Brian could think of was the Red Light District where guys from his high school used to say was the place to find a hooker.
"It's not Squirrel Hill, Brian, but this section of Liberty Avenue isn't too bad," said Justin. "It's actually... well, it's the gay section."
"Gay section?" Brian looked at Justin in surprise. "Since when is there a gay section of Pittsburgh?"
"It's been here for a while," Ron asserted. "But it wasn't exactly advertised as such." He turned into a driveway and parked behind an old sandstone apartment building. "Here we are. Let's get the boxes out of the trunk."
Justin opened the outer door of the building with his key and they walked up three flights.
"I thought your mother lived in some new development?" Brian asked. This building must date back to the 1920's, he thought. "In a what-you-call-it? A condominium?"
"Yes, she has a new condo. She bought it with her share of the money from when they sold the house," said Justin. He stopped in front of 4-B and fumbled with his key. "But this isn't my mom's place, Brian."
Jennifer Taylor opened the door before Justin could turn his key. "Sweetheart! I thought you'd never get here! They showed a clip of the release on the news!"
"Oh my God! Were we all in it?" said Justin, excitedly.
Jennifer hugged her son and then leaned over to kiss Ron. "Mainly Julie and that warden. But I saw all of you standing there in the snow. It looked very cold!"
"It was, Jen," said Ron.
"Where's your coat, honey?" Jennifer asked, brushing of the melted snow off Ron's suit.
"Brian's wearing it," said Ron.
And Brian was standing there in the doorway holding a large cardboard box. He was unsure of whether he was really supposed to enter this place. It was all so strange. This building and this apartment. And Justin's mother. Was he supposed to stay at this apartment for now? Wasn't Justin living with his mom? And what about Ron? Were they going to leave him here -- alone? Brian was completely confused.
"Of course," sighed Jennifer. "Brian -- please come in. But that box down and I'll take that coat."
"He didn't have one, Mom," Justin explained. "So Ron gave him his. I should have remembered to bring one for him, but everything was happening so fast!"
"You can't think of everything, dear," said Jennifer.
"But I should have thought of that," Justin insisted. "I knew that Brian only had sweaters and no outside clothes for winter."
"The coat?" said Jennifer, holding out her hand. "Please... Brian?"
"Oh," said Brian. "Sorry." He set the cardboard box on the floor and slipped off Ron's overcoat, handing it to the slender blonde woman. He knew by the expression on her face that she didn't like him. The criminal who had shared a cell -- and a bed -- with her son. And also with her.... Her what? Was Ron her boyfriend? Fiancé? Lover? No wonder Justin's mother stared at Brian like he'd just crawled out from under a rock.
"Is the food ready?" Ron asked. "I can smell it and I'm starving!"
"I picked it up at the Golden Pavilion about 4:00 and I've been keeping it warm since then," said Jennifer, hurrying to the kitchen. "I hope it's not ruined! But you were so late!"
"I told you it would take time, Jen," said Ron, sitting down at the small dining table. "And the weather was bad. I didn't want to spin out on the highway!"
"Brian," said Justin, talking Brian's hand. "Come and sit down."
Justin was worried about his lover. He seemed so perplexed by everything. But this morning when he woke up in his cell on the third tier, Brian could not have known that he'd go to sleep in Justin's apartment. No, in THEIR apartment.
Brian allowed himself to be led to table and seated. Justin slid into the chair next to him. "This is our old kitchen set from the house. Most of the furniture here is from my parents."
"So... this is your apartment?" Brian asked Justin. "I thought you were living with your mother... and Ron?" Brian glanced at his former jocker. Ron was fucking Justin's mother. He still couldn't wrap his head around it.
"I moved in a couple of weeks ago, Brian." Justin grinned. "I wanted it to be a surprise!" He leaned over close to Brian's face. "This is OUR place, Brian. Not mine. This is where we're both going to live. I'll go class at Carnegie Mellon and do my shifts at the Liberty Diner. That's where I'm working. I wrote to you about it, remember? Michelle's mom is the head waitress there. She hired me."
"Yes, I remember," Brian said slowly. It was like he was underwater. Things were floating through his head but he couldn't hold on to them. "Mrs. Novotny."
"Here we go!" Jennifer carried out two serving dishes and put them on the table. "I took everything out of the cartons so they'd stay warm better. Does anyone want chopsticks?"
"I do, Mom!" said Justin, brightly.
"So do I," said Ron. "But give Brian a fork. I think he's out of practice."
"The rest is coming right up," said Jennifer, returning to the kitchen. "And chopsticks for two. Don't worry, Brian, I always use a fork, too."
Ron took the lip off the first dish. "Shrimp with lobster sauce." Then the second one. "Chicken fried rice. Jen! Where's the lo mein? And the soup? And the egg rolls?"
"It's coming!" she shouted back from the kitchen. "I only have two hands!"
"I'll help her," said Justin, pushing back his chair. "You guys start eating."
Brian watched Justin go into the kitchen. Then he stared at Ron, who was filling his plate with food.
"You got me Chinese food," said Brian, his voice catching. "How... how did you remember?"
"I remember everything important, Baby," said Ron quietly. "And I hope you remember everything important, too." He reached over and took Brian's hand. "Like us. Because I haven't forgotten that. Not at all. This is the greatest day of my life. It's what I've hoped for for so many years. This was your first wish for when you got out. A Chinese meal with all the trimmings. But this is only the beginning, Baby. There will be so much more."
"I... I can't think about everything right now," Brian said in bewilderment. He stared down at the food on his plate and his stomach clenched. "I... I...." He swallowed. "Where's the bathroom?"
"Down that little hall, Baby," said Ron. "The door should be open."
Brian bolted from the room as Jennifer and Justin carried out the rest of the food.
"Where's he going?" Jennifer asked. "The food is going to get cold!"
"He's a bit overwhelmed, hon," said Ron, reaching for the wonton soup. "Give him a few minutes to get himself together."
Justin didn't need to hear any more. He put his dishes on the table and then sprinted down to the bathroom to make sure Brian was okay. To see that he wasn't really sick or something! Fuck the food getting cold!
"This is a big mistake, Ron," Jennifer whispered as she sat down next to him. "That man isn't ready to live here with Justin. He... he's freaky. He makes me nervous! He might be better off staying with Julie or someone else from the PLD until he can cope with the outside world."
"Brian will be all right, Jen," said Ron, calmly. "I'll make certain that he adjusts. And so will Justin. Brian has to adjust. This is his reality now -- so he better get used to it."
Justin came out of the bedroom as Ron and Jennifer were about to leave.
"Brian's sleeping," he told Ron and his mother. "I think he's exhausted. I guess we tried to spring too much stuff on him and he's not ready for it."
"That's all right, sweetheart," soothed Jennifer. "I put the rest of the food in the fridge. If Brian wakes up and feels like having some later, just heat it up in the oven."
"Yes," said Ron. "Chinese food is just as good left over." He helped Jennifer on with her coat. "Don't pile too many things on Brian tomorrow, kid. Call Julie and maybe we can take him over to the PLD on Friday afternoon. But we can't leave it too long, you know. We want this re-trial to happen ASAP. Also, James Crossley, the literary agent, says that the editor from Brian's publisher wants to get to work on the entire manuscript as soon as Brian is able to handle it. They want to put his book on their Fall List, which means that there will be a lot of work to do to get it ready for publication."
"I know, Ron," said Justin, running his hand through his tousled hair. "But please don't push Brian too much, okay? He's been sick and... and he's feeling pretty confused right now. Let's take one thing at a time. The book is important and the trial is important, but so is getting Brian's head together!"
Ron turned away and took his own coat out of the little closet next to the door. It was going to be a struggle with Justin over Brian every inch of the way. But he couldn't antagonize the kid too much. Then he'd have both Brian AND Jen on his back about it!
"I expect to see both of you boys at my condo for dinner on Sunday," Jennifer reminded her son. "Brian should be able to handle that, don't you think, dear?"
"Yes, Mom," Justin sighed. "We'll be there. But give Brian a little space, will you? Please cut him some slack? You have no idea what... what Brian's been through in prison."
"Jennifer may not be aware of everything, but I think that I know exactly what Brian has been through, so don't lecture me!" said Ron, peevishly. "But you can only coddle Brian so much. Remember that, too, kid. Brian is a man and he has to learn to live on the outside. I had to learn to do it and so did you, Justin. It's a matter of adjustment. Brian is a very intelligent person and he's perfectly capable of adapting to life outside of prison. After all, he has all of us to help him."
"That's what I'm trying to do!" Justin muttered. "Help him! If certain people would only let me!"
Ron ignored Justin's remark. "Brian has some time to get his strength back and his head on straight -- but not a hell of a lot! And he has a ton of work ahead of him, kid. His trial can't wait and neither can his book. He's going to have to work with that editor and get the book finished so he can earn the big advance that Lewis-Fisher and Company dished out."
"This isn't about money, Ron!" Justin fumed.
"Yes, Justin, it is about money," Ron retorted as he put on his coat. "Brian has to live on the outside. And that means he has to work, the same as all of us do. That big advance will keep him afloat for a while, but eventually Bri Baby is going to have to join the real world. I think Brian is going to be an important voice for prison reform in this country. But it's only going to happen if his book is a success. It HAS to be a success!"
"It will be, Ron," Justin huffed. "You know it will!"
"We'll see," Ron narrowed his eyes at Justin, but then he grinned slyly. "Besides, the two of you can't live forever on your tips from the Liberty Diner!"
Justin was so angry he wanted to spit at Ron. He wanted to tell Ron what he thought of him and his view of Brian's future. But Justin also knew that Ron was right in his own fucked up way. Brian needed to finish his book and he needed to get his trial out of the way. Until then, they couldn't move ahead with their lives. But Justin hated it when Ron was right, because he was right for all the wrong reasons. Justin didn't want Ron to be right -- ever!
"Call me tomorrow, honey," Jennifer called as she was going out the door.
"I'll be in touch," said Ron. He gave Justin a knowing look. "Let Baby get some sleep tonight -- if you know what I mean! He needs his rest."
"Goodbye!" Justin said firmly. And he shut and locked the door to the apartment and chained it for good measure.
He and Brian were finally alone. This was their home! And now they were in it together -- for real!
Jennifer had already cleaned up the kitchen, so Justin only had to turn off the lights. Then he searched around the living room until he found his yellow legal pad. He'd have to make of list of all the things Brian would need. Which was almost everything, from new underwear to a winter coat. And so many other things, too. Brian didn't have a driver's license. Or a single credit card. Ron had opened an account for Brian at the bank, so they'd have to get some checks. And an ATM card. And he needed insurance, too.
Justin thought Brian should see a doctor very soon. Dr. Caputo did a good job when the men of Stanton were sick, but Brian needed to have his general health looked at. Ten years in prison was bound to take a toll on anyone, let alone someone who'd been through some of the things that Brian had survived. Brian also needed to see a dentist. Justin wrote that down on the pad, too. And a car. They would definitely need a car, even if it was only a used one.
There were so many things to do. Luckily there was Brian's book advance. Yes, Ron was right about that, too. Brian and Justin couldn't live on Justin's tip money from the diner. They needed to use at least some of Brian's money if they didn't want Ron to keep paying the rent on the apartment forever.
He set the legal pad down on the coffee table. It was still early, but suddenly Justin felt very tired. This whole day had been too much. He yawned and then went into the bedroom.
Justin turned on the little light next to the bed and Brian opened his eyes.
"I'm sorry," said Justin. "I didn't mean to wake you up."
"I wasn't asleep," said Brian. "It's too quiet in here. I kept waiting to hear the C.O. walking up and down the tier. Or Beemer coughing. Or Wesley crying in his sleep." Brian rubbed his eyes. "Do you have a radio or something? I need a little noise so I can fall asleep."
"Sure, Brian," said Justin. "This is a clock-radio." He switched on the box on the bedside table. He had it tuned to the Oldies station. "I set it to play music to wake me up so I won't be late for the breakfast shift at the diner."
"That's pretty neat," said Brian. "You'll have to show me how it works."
"I'll show you how everything works, Brian," Justin whispered. "It's easy."
Brian sat up against the pillows. "Do you think I can take a shower? I feel so... so grungy. Like I still smell like prison."
"You smell great to me, Brian," Justin smiled. "You always smell great. But you can take a shower if you want to. You can do anything you want to do! Come on. I'll get you a towel."
The bathroom, like the rest of the apartment, was from an older era. The bathtub had old-fashioned feet and two leaky faucets, while the toilet had a wobbly wooden seat. But to Brian it looked wonderful. It had a door that shut. You could be safe there.
Justin turned on the shower and ran the water, testing it. "Is that too hot for you?"
"No," said Brian, putting his hand under the spray. "That's perfect."
Brian stripped off his shorts and tee shirt slowly. He felt almost shy in front of Justin. This wasn't their cell or the shower room. This was somewhere else. A world away from the Quad.
Justin took Brian's underwear and tossed it into a small hamper for the wash. He would be glad when he was able to throw away all of Brian's old prison gear, but especially the ugly gray undershorts. He could picture Brian in sexy briefs that would look good with his wifebeaters.
Brian pulled back the shower curtain and climbed in. The water was so warm. And he could stay in here as long as he wanted. There was a bar of pink soap in the soapdish. He rubbed it all over his body. The soap felt creamy and soft and smelled like roses. Brian closed his eyes.
"Is there room for me in here?" asked Justin. And he climbed into the old bathtub with Brian.
"Justin -- what are you doing?" Brian stared at him as he clutched the soap.
"I'm getting clean," Justin laughed. "We're conserving water, Brian! There's an Energy Crisis, remember?" Justin took the soap out of Brian's hand and began to circle Brian's chest with the foamy pink bar. "Let me help you with that."
"We've never done this before," Brian breathed. His cock was getting very hard. "I've never done it in the shower before, ever. I was always afraid of getting caught in the shower room by some gang, so I used to rush in and out as fast as I could."
"There are no gangs here, Brian," said Justin. He ran his sudsy hands down Brian's long body and grasped his dick. It came alive in Justin's hand. "It's only us. This is our place. Our shower. Our soap. Oops!" Justin shrugged. "I dropped the soap, Brian. Do you want me to pick it up?"
"Yes," said Brian. His cock felt like it was about to explode. "Pick it up."
Justin bent over and braced himself against the tiled wall. It was slippery, but he held fast to the surface with the palms of his hands.
Brian eased his soapy cock into Justin, wrapping one arm around his lover's body, while his other hand took hold of Justin's own throbbing dick. Then Brian thrust into Justin deeply. He leaned his chin on Justin's shoulder as they fucked, the warm water cascading down their bodies.
They rocked together, their wet skin slapping. Brian gritted his teeth as he felt himself shoot and Justin let out a gasp. Brian jacked Justin's dick briskly until he came. Then they held each other under the spray until it began to turn cool.
Justin turned off the water and reached for the towels. "That's One!" he said.
"One what?" asked Brian, rubbing the towel over Justin's back.
"The first time we fucked in our apartment. And the first time we fucked in the shower," Justin replied. "I'm going to keep track."
And Brian laughed out loud for the first time a very long while. "You're going to lose count pretty quickly, punk! Because we're going to do it until our heads spin. I'm going to fuck you until you won't know what year it is, let alone keeping track of where and when and how many times!"
"That's a promise I'm going to hold you to!" Justin ran his fingers through Brian's wet, dark hair. "But there's still the bed. Unless you aren't up for any more tonight?"
Brian stroked his cock gently. It was already lengthening in his hand. "Who's not up for it?"
"I'm glad I told Debbie that I couldn't work the breakfast shift tomorrow, because I don't think I would have made it," Justin sighed.
"Oh, you're going to make it," Brian insisted. "We're going to make it again right now! In the bedroom. Unless you're the one who's too tired?"
"Never!" Justin grinned. "Never too tired for you, Brian. Ever."
And he took Brian's hand and led him back into their bedroom.
Brian woke up and turned over groggily.
"Ow, Brian!" Justin groaned. "You're too heavy!"
"Sorry," Brian mumbled.
He climbed out of bed slowly, glancing at the clock-radio. It was almost 10 a.m.
Toilet. He needed to piss like a racehorse. Bathroom? Down the hall. The bedroom door was open and he peered out warily. He knew there was no one else in the apartment, but he wasn't used to strolling around naked in broad daylight.
Brian went into the bathroom and flipped on the light. The shower. Yes! That had felt good. They'd do that again soon. Very soon!
He pissed and then washed his hands. All of the soaps and shampoos Justin had smelled nice. Like flowers or herbs or lemons. Brian washed his face with the white soap by the sink. Ivory soap. He remembered that brand. His mother used to buy Ivory. It floated in the bathtub like a square white boat.
His mother. Did she know that he'd been released? Did she see it on the news? Did she care at all? Brian wondered vaguely where his father was buried. Father Bob had tried to get him to go to the funeral back in January, but Brian wasn't going anywhere then. He had been in another place and never thought he'd leave it. But he had left it. And he'd left the Quad, too.
But now he was here. Unbelievable!
"Hey, crabby!" Justin walked into the bathroom, scratching his ass. He was naked, too. "Move over!"
"Do you always wander around the house like that? With your dick in full view?" Brian asked. "I hope you keep the shades down."
Justin grinned. "I don't see you wearing any clothes, Brian! This is MY apartment. Excuse me -- OUR apartment -- and if we want to be naked, then fuck anyone who doesn't like it!"
"I'm only afraid your mother is going to walk in here and get a look at my dick," said Brian, drying his hands on a fluffy blue towel.
"So what if she does? Mom has a key, but she won't just walk in," said Justin, pissing into the toilet. "I already warned her about that. Besides, I put the chain up before I went to bed."
"Good thinking," said Brian. "Did you really find this apartment yourself and do everything? Because it's... it's great. I love it."
"Thanks, Brian." Justin was so happy that Brian liked the apartment. "Debbie -- Mrs. Novotny -- told me about it. My mom didn't want me to move out of her condo. She still thinks I'm her baby boy who needs her tender loving care. But I had to get out of there! I couldn't stand watching Ron and my mother playing house!"
"I don't blame you," Brian sighed. "That's very weird. But Ron likes to be taken care of and your mom seems to be... she seems very motherly. You know what I mean?"
"Yes, Mom likes being the Happy Housewife," Justin stood next to Brian and looked at himself in the mirror. "My dad liked her being that way, too. Pampering him and doing everything for him. So she does it with Ron now. And he sure loves having someone cater to his every whim."
"Better her than...." Brian paused. He almost said, "Better her than me," but he stopped his flow of words. "Better her than someone who hates that fucking role. If it's your mother's thing, that's cool." Brian shrugged. "And I mean it, Justin, when I say that the apartment is great. And it's so big!"
Justin snorted. "It's not that big, Brian. It only seems big compared to our cell."
"What's behind that other door in the hall? A closet?" Brian asked.
"That's another bedroom," Justin replied. "It's mainly full of boxes now, but I want to make it into an art studio. This apartment has nice, tall windows and that room gets the western light."
"Is that good?" Brian smiled. Justin doing his art. That was fantastic! It was what he was born to do.
"Yes, pretty good. You get light in the late afternoon, which is when I like to paint." Brian was clueless about art, but Justin would teach him." I only wish I were at the Institute of Fine Art, but Carnegie Mellon is a good school. And I'm taking an Art History survey right now. Next semester I'm hoping to get into a Life Studio. That's a class where you do figure drawing with a model."
"Nude models?" Brian raised his eyebrows.
"Sometimes." Justin smiled up at Brian. "Would you like to pose?"
"Me? No way! But speaking of class," said Brian. "Aren't you supposed to at school? Isn't this Wednesday? I'm pretty confused about a lot of shit, but I know it's not the weekend."
"I kind of missed my morning classes," Justin admitted. "But it was for a good cause, Brian! My lover doesn't get released from prison every day. I guess I can still make my 2:00 Freshman English class."
"I don't want you skipping classes because I'm here, Justin," Brian said very seriously. "I'm not a five year old who can't be left alone for a couple of hours. Your education is the most important thing right now."
"ONE of the most important things, Brian," Justin insisted. He put his arms around his lover and held him close. Justin felt both of their cocks begin to stir. "I've got my priorities straight, believe me. School is important, but this is important, too. YOU are important."
Brian squeezed Justin tightly. Justin seemed so confident on the outside. This was the place he belonged. He was at home in the real world. But Brian still felt like an interloper. A true stranger in this strange land.
"Let's take another shower," Justin said, smiling lasciviously. "Afterwards we can go out and have brunch. All the trendy gay men do brunch!"
"What the fuck is brunch?" Brian frowned. "It sounds obscene!"
"Too late for breakfast, but too early for lunch. Brunch!" Justin slapped Brian on his bare ass. "I know the perfect place to go. So we better get moving!"
Posted June 30, 2005.