DEB & VIC'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE

"A Queer As Folk USA FanFic"

by Gaedhal

This is Part 4 of Chapter 113 in the "Queer Theories" series.

Go back to "Deb and Vic's Excellent Adventure -- Part 3", the previous section.

The narrator is Vic Grassi, and features Brian Kinney, Debbie Novotny, Ron Rosenblum, Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Brian 'hijacks' Vic and Debbie, and then Vic gets 'hijacked' yet again. Los Angeles, November 2002.
Disclaimer: This is for fun, not profit. Watch Queer As Folk on Showtime, buy the DVDs, videos, and CDs. Read the stories and enjoy.

We arrived in Los Angeles on Saturday and it's only Monday afternoon, but I already feel exhausted. That's what Deb and I get for trying to cram in everything we have ever thought of doing in Hollywood into one week! It's ridiculous, I know. The two of us are running around like maniacs -- or, I should say, RIDING around in a chauffeur-driven limousine like maniacs! And we are just sightseeing and shopping. I can't imagine how Brian can keep up the pace of all the stuff that the studio expects him to do. But the 'Olympian' premiere is on Wednesday night and the pressure is on.

Brian keeps checking in with us and apologizing for not showing us around town himself. But we understand -- we really do. After we spent the whole day yesterday doing all the Hollywood tourist sights, Brian picked us up at the Beverly Palms Hotel and took us to dinner at the Polo Lounge. That is THE fancy place where all the deals are made and all the stars go to meet with their producers and be seen by all the 'right' people. It's also the same place Ron had wanted to take us for Sunday brunch. We get there all right -- just a little later on Sunday. And without Ron, of course.

Monday has been set aside for shopping and picking out what we are going to wear to the premiere. I have an easy time with my tux, but Deb -- as usual -- has a lot of opinions about what she wants to wear to the 'Big Event.' I keep telling her to let the professionals do their job. My sister is a lovely woman -- that is, when she isn't asserting her 'personality' in horrendous orange and purple muumuus, tee shirts with rude sayings, and ill-fitting stretchpants -- but trying to get her a decent outfit is enough to give me a splitting headache.

Some of the dresses that Nicole, the woman in charge at the Versace boutique, shows us are just beautiful. The materials are extravagant, the styles are elegant, the colors are dazzling -- and Deb finds something wrong with every single one of them! I'm partial to a silver satin gown that looks very Liz Taylor, but my sister turns up her nose at it. Finally, Nicole shows her a dark purple brocade dress. It looks like something Princess Di would have worn to a coronation -- so, naturally, Deb loves it. That's the one she has to have.

I'm waiting for Debbie to finish her fitting when Brian walks into the shop. He looks around and then comes right over to me.

"I wasn't expecting to see you here, honey," I say, standing up. I can't help but give him a big hug. Brian looks remarkably gorgeous in a fawn-colored Armani suit. But then, Brian would look gorgeous wearing plaid shorts and a burlap shirt.

And Brian looks so much better than he did on Saturday, the day we got here. I was frightened for him that day. But then he was back to his normal old Brian self at the Polo Lounge for dinner Sunday -- looking confident, relaxed, and every inch a movie star. He also brought a friend of his, a young actress named Diane Rhys, to dine with us. I recognize this girl as one of Brian's 'dates' from last winter when he was making the rounds of all the premieres and parties. I guess she's a sort of 'beard,' but I don't think Brian wants to be reminded of that. I get the impression that playing it straight in front of the press and the cameras is NOT his favorite thing. But this Diane seems like a good friend. She even has a pet name for him -- Bridie! That he has at least ONE person to confide in makes me happy. Because I hate to think of Brian out in this soul-killing city completely alone. No wonder he seems so depressed sometimes.

Diane is a spunky, busty little blonde who immediately bonds with Debbie. I imagine that if Deb had ever had a daughter she'd be a lot like this Diane -- funny, opinionated, and full of off-color jokes and gossip. She's dated a bunch of actors -- I get the feeling that she was acting as a beard for a lot of them, too! -- and been to all sorts of parties with big stars, and now she's shooting her own sitcom.

"It's called 'Here's Diane!' and it's going on the air sometime in January," Diane told Deb and I, happily. "We've got a great lead-in, too. They've scheduled us right after 'All American Dad.'" Then she looked over at Brian and smirked. "That gives Brian TWO reasons to watch network television on Wednesday nights!"

But Brian rolled his eyes. "I don't watch television, Diane. And I definitely don't watch sitcoms! Especially sitcoms starring Peter Bridges."

"I LOVE that show!" Debbie exclaimed. "Peter Bridges is so funny! He's a real scream!"

"Yeah," Brian said, giving Diane a dirty look. "You should hear him scream." And then he and Diane started giggling hysterically, while Deb and I just stared at the two of them. I'll have to find out from Brian what was so funny.

It was good to hear Brian laugh yesterday, but today a cloud seems to have descended on him once more.

"Brian, are you all right?" I ask. "How do you feel? You look a little bit stressed out."

"I'm okay, Vic," he says, sitting down on one of the couches. I sit down next to him. "It's just that I've been working my ass off on the publicity for this picture ever since I left Pittsburgh for New York. And it's been non-stop since I got back out here. More interviews and photo shoots. Television stuff. Then there's that 'Larry King' interview tomorrow with Jimmy that I am NOT looking forward to. More assinine questions about 'What is it like kissing a guy?'" Brian cringes. "Then the premiere Wednesday. And the 'Tonight Show' on Thursday night. I can't even take a fucking bathroom break until Friday! It's just crazy. Too crazy for me."

"That's Show Biz, Brian. That's being a star!" I remind him. "Isn't it exciting? Isn't it glamorous, hon? Isn't it all you ever dreamed of?" Because I know that it's all I ever dreamed of! And I'm not ashamed to be living out some of my fantasies vicariously through Brian.

"I know, Vic," he sighs. "But I never really wanted to be a 'movie star.' The acting part of it is okay. Better than okay, actually. But it's the 'Fame' part that's nothing but a pain in the ass and a shitload of work! I thought I was a workaholic when I was at Ryder. And, yes, I worked my tail off when I was there. But I had some down-time, too. I had a little time to relax. To go out to Woody's or to Babylon with Michael and the guys. To spend some quality time with Justin. To let my fucking teeth unclench!" Brian closes his eyes for a moment and then opens them and looks directly at me. "And there wasn't always someone pointing a camera at me every minute of the day. Sometimes I swear to God that they are hiding in the bushes -- waiting for me to... to...." He pauses.

"To what, Brian?"

Brian winces. "I don't know, Vic. To make a mistake! Piss in the street! You name it. Jimmy says that I'll get used to it, but I can't. It's making me so paranoid. So goddamn nervous. And then this thing with... with Ron...." Brian shakes his head. "You see why I might have over-reacted on Saturday, don't you, Vic? When I found out that Ron had grabbed you and Debbie and taken you to the house, I just... I felt that he was trying to turn you guys against me somehow. That he was trying to make you two believe that there was something wrong with me. And you know that there aren't that many people in my life that I trust. Not that many at all." He sniffs. "Almost no one, actually. But I'm really not totally nuts. Really."

"I know you aren't, honey," I say, patting his arm. And I also know one sure way of making his stress go away. "Hang on for another 24 hours, Brian. Justin is coming in tomorrow with Michael and Ben. I know you'll be happy to see him. And he's just so excited to be coming here. Deb and I talked to Michael last night and all three of them can hardly wait to get out here."

"I know," Brian sighs again. "I talk to Justin every night on the phone. But it isn't the same thing. It just isn't."

"I understand."

"And I really feel bad that I'm not seeing more of you and Deb," Brian continues. "But the studio's schedule is killing me! I was barely able to get away for a couple of hours this afternoon to come over here."

"That's okay, Brian," I tell him. "With the car and driver at our disposal we can do everything we want to do and go wherever we want to go."

"Well, speaking of your car and driver, Vic, I wonder if I might 'hijack' you and Deb this afternoon?" he says. "I need your car for about an hour."

"Of course, Brian," I say. "But what happened to your Mustang?"

He hesitates. "Nothing has happened to it. I'm dropping off the car, so I'll need a ride back to pick up my new Jeep."

"Oh!" I exclaim. "You're getting a new Jeep?" And I wonder if Brian knows anything about the car Ron has ordered for him as a Christmas present. Obviously not. And now I'm certain that he won't take that fancy souped up Jaguar from Ron, no matter what. Especially not after what Brian told me about their relationship the other day.

"Yes. I'm picking the Jeep up later this afternoon," he says, clearing his throat. "You know, Diane and Debbie were monopolizing the conversation so much at dinner last night that I never really got to ask how your Hollywood tour went," Brian says, abruptly changing the subject. I can see that he doesn't want to talk about Ron or what he's planning to do. Which is basically to shove the car that Ron gave him back in his face.

One of the boutique employees, a very cute young guy, offers Brian and I some champagne, but Brian declines. I take a glass. Why not? I'm only in the Hollywood Fast Lane for a short time, so I might as well enjoy it.

"The tour was wonderful, Brian. Just wonderful!"

Brian seems very pleased. "That girl, Heidi, who was your guide, is very nice. She's an intern at the studio, which is how I met her. She's also a Ph.D. candidate in Film at UCLA and knows everything about the history of Hollywood. She's writing her dissertation on it. So I thought she'd be the perfect person to show you and Deb around town."

"Heidi was just great, Brian. First, she took us to Mann's Chinese Theater where they have the stars' footprints in cement!"

Brian smiles in amusement. "Whose footprints did Debbie try to fit her feet into?"

"How do you know that we did that?" I ask, surprised.

"Everyone does it, Vic. Even I did it when I first came out here!" he laughs.

"Well, I was a PERFECT fit for Rock Hudson -- of course!" I brag.

"Oh, Rock Hudson, huh? Who else but Rock!" laughs Brian.

"But Deb -- she was going nuts! Her feet were a little too big to fit into Liz Taylor's footprints, but too small to fit into Ava Gardner's! I think they were the closest to Alan Ladd's -- but don't tell anyone."

"My lips are sealed, Vic."

"Heidi was very patient with us. She took a lot of pictures of the two of us acting like crazy tourists."

"But you guys ARE a couple of crazy tourists, Vic," Brian smiles. "So it's allowed."

"Then Heidi took us to the Hollywood Wax Museum. And then on the Universal Studios Tour -- that was wonderful, too, Brian! Oh -- and the Hollywood Sign!" I tell him. Brian is smiling at me. I know I sound like I'm gushing, but I can't help it. This vacation is just so much fun! Deb and I had a fine time when we went to Italy a few years back, but my health wasn't the best then and that whole trip had a bit of a pall over it -- especially since both Debbie and I thought I was dying at the time. "Thanks for everything you've done, Brian. I can't repeat it enough."

"It's nothing, Vic," he says. "I'm glad you're having a good time. That's what I wanted for you. The two of you have done nothing but work hard all your lives. You deserve a bit of a break, you know?" He leans back on the couch and closes his eyes again. He looks so weary. Then he opens them and brushes his hair back off his forehead. "Just a little payback for some of the stuff you've done for me over the years. Because I haven't forgotten any of it. I've never forgotten. And I never will."

"Brian, really...." I start. Because he doesn't owe us a thing. Anything I ever did, or Debbie ever did -- well, it was just the right thing to do. The only thing we could do. "Brian, I have to thank you again for...."

"And you remind Debbie not to be late for her Elizabeth Arden appointment on Wednesday," Brian interrupts me. He hates being thanked for anything. It seems to make him uncomfortable. "They should give her the whole works for the premiere -- massage, nails, hair, make-up. She'll have Michelle Pfeiffer fuming with jealousy when they get finished with her!"

"One thing about Debbie -- she cleans up good! ALL of us Grassis clean up good!" I say, proudly.

The cute guy keeps circling with his bottle of champagne -- and I know that he isn't trying to get MY attention. But Brian just ignores him. I guess that Los Angeles must be full of beautiful men trying to get Brian's attention -- but he doesn't seem interested. At least, not anymore.

"And did you have your fitting at Armani, Vic?"

"This morning. The tux is beautiful. But they didn't tell me anything about returning it after the premiere. Will they pick it up or do we have to drop it off?"

Brian squeezes my arm. "Neither, Vic, because the tux is yours. Just like Deb's dress. They're yours. I wouldn't arrange for you to wear anything I didn't expect you to keep."

I stare at him. "Brian! That's too much!"

"No, Vic -- it's for you. I want you and Deb to look like a million bucks at the premiere. After all, you guys are a reflection on ME, right?" he says, smirking. "Besides, you never know when you might need to go to some formal occasion in Pittsburgh. Maybe you and Tim could get season tickets to the Pittsburgh Opera and go in style! Take Theodore with you -- and his twinkie boyfriend, too!"

"Well," I admit. "I'll certainly look like a million bucks in that Armani tux, Brian. It's positively decadent!"

"Then you should love it, Vic!"

The cute employee circles around again. "Can I get you a white wine, Mr. Kinney? Or anything... else?" He's practically batting his eyes.

"No thanks, Kurt. We're waiting for someone." Brian leans over to me as the guy retreats. "This guy won't let it go," he sighs.

"You mean that you...?"

Brian nods his head. "I bought a couple of suits in here last winter and... well, it was boring between fittings. But Kurt can't get the idea into his head that I'm not interested in getting blown every time I come in this place."

"Most people should have your problems, Brian!"

But he just shrugs. "I gave the Armani people Michael and Justin's measurements last week. I only hope their tuxes fit because there won't be enough time for alterations before the premiere. Ben is bringing his own tux."

A few minutes later Debbie comes out of the fitting, beaming. "Hiya, kiddo!" She rushes over and grabs Brian, giving him a big squeeze and almost pulls both of them over.

"Vic tells me everything is going well so far on your 'Excellent Adventure,'" Brian comments.

"Super duper, sweetie. You should see my dress!" Deb gestures to the elegant woman who has been in charge of her fitting. "Nicole here has been treating me like a fucking queen!"

"Well, they certainly know a little bit about queens in Beverly Hills," Brian says.

"Mr. Kinney," says Nicole, shaking his hand. "I'm so pleased to be of service to your family."

"Yeah," adds Deb. "I brought my pearls with me to make sure they look right with the dress."

"Pearls?" Brian looks over at me.

"The ones you gave me at Papagano's, honey!" Deb pulls out the fancy case and opens it, showing him the long strand of cultured pearls nestled inside the blue velvet lining. Brian looks startled for a moment. Then I remember that those pearls were intended as a gift for Joan Kinney -- who never showed up at Brian's dinner. As far as I know, he hasn't seen or heard anything from his mother since then.

But Brian makes a beautiful recovery. "Oh, yes. Your pearls, Deb."

"They should look lovely with the dress Mrs. Novotny has selected, Mr. Kinney," Nicole offers.

"Yes, I'm certain they will."

Brian makes arrangements for Nicole to come to our hotel suite on Wednesday afternoon with the dress and help Debbie with the final touches before the premiere. Deb is so excited she's practically jumping up and down. She's going to a Hollywood premiere and she's going to look like a movie star herself! Even if her 'date' is only me!

Outside the Versace boutique our car and driver is waiting for us. Brian's red Mustang convertible is parked next to the limo.

"Where are we going, sweetie?" asks Deb, as she climbs into the limo.

"To the house," Brian replies, swallowing.

We follow Brian's car up into the hills and turn up the long driveway to Ron's house. Brian opens the garage door and pulls the Mustang inside. He comes out and walks over to the limo. "Wait here a minute while I drop off the keys," he says, leaning into the window. "Ron's Jag is here, but he should be at the studio at this time of day so there shouldn't be any... difficulty. He's probably using a studio car and driver, too."

"Is everything okay, baby?" says Deb, uneasily.

"Fine, Deb," says Brian. "I'll be right out." And then he goes in through the kitchen door. And Brian is in the house for a while, much longer than a 'minute' to drop off a set of keys.

Finally, Brian comes out the door -- and Ron is hot on his heels.

"Oh, dear," says Deb, grabbing my arm. "This looks like trouble."

All of Ron's façade of calm and cool that he showed us the first day we were here has now been blown totally away. He is shouting at Brian, his face red. Ron clutches at Brian's arm and tries to turn him around or pull him back towards the house, but Brian jerks away and continues walking to the limo, his head down and determined.

"Stop doing this, Brian! I fucking mean it!" Ron shouts.

"I'm not doing anything, Ron," says Brian, evenly. "I'm returning the car. And that's that."

"It's YOUR car, Brian!" Ron yells. "It was a gift! You can't return a fucking GIFT!"

Brian stops and faces him. "I'm sorry, Ron. I... I don't want it anymore. I don't want -- or need -- anything from you. No gifts. No promises. Nothing." Then he turns away and continues walking.

"Brian!" Ron's face is an odd mixture of fury and desperation, while Brian's is all cold, blank resolve. I know that doing this must be killing Brian, but I also understand why he's doing it. Why he has to.

"Jesus, Mary and Joseph! Vic -- do something!" Debbie urges me as we watch the scene from the limo.

"No, Sis. Let Brian do what he has to do," I tell her.

"Brian!" Ron is still following and tugging at the jacket of Brian's Armani suit. "Just... stop for a second. Talk to me! Please! For ONE second!" Ron pleads.

"There's nothing more to say, Ron. Anything between us from now on is business only. ONLY! And for THAT you can talk to Lew Blackmore -- or my lawyer, Walter Urbanski."

"That fucking shark!" Ron is screaming now. "He's poisoning you, Brian! He's a homophobic prick! He's... he's...." Ron clenches his fists like he wants to hit someone. "If he even fucking THINKS of using that tape, Brian -- I'm not kidding! If you and he think that you can intimidate me, then fuck you! Fuck YOU!"

Brian opens the door of the limo. "I'm sorry, Ron. I really am."

"Fuck you, Brian!" Ron shouts again. And then he tries either to hit out at Brian or grab him -- it's difficult to tell which exactly. But Brian fends him off, catching his hand and holding it away from his body. Not letting Ron hit him. Or touch him.

"Quit it, Ron. Just quit it! It's over and done with. Completely." And Brian lets go of Ron's hand and then slides into the backseat of the limo, right next to me. His hand is shaking.

"It's never done, Brian! Never! You'll never be through with me!" Ron is almost incoherent. "Do you hear me? Are you listening to me, Brian? Brian!"

"Drive on, please," Brian tells the chauffeur. "Now. Please!" Then he leans back in the seat and stares straight ahead as we leave Ron's house behind, with Ron standing, alone, in the middle of the long, wide driveway.

***

The first thing I do the next morning is call and order the car to pick me up at 10:00 a.m. Michael, Ben, and Justin are arriving at LAX at 4:00 this afternoon and we all have to be at the television studio before 6:00 to watch Brian and Jimmy Hardy do their interview with Larry King, so this is another day packed with activities.

I haven't had even five minutes to do a little shopping of my own -- and I'm determined that I'm going to get a present for Tim. I've never really bought him a gift before. I mean something really nice, something important. And I want to spend a couple of hours on Rodeo Drive to find that something special to give to Tim for Christmas. Thinking about Ron buying that beautiful car for Brian made me think about how much I want to be able to afford to buy my lover gorgeous things. Unfortunately, I can't afford cars or fancy stereos or televisions or anything like that. But with Tim, I know it will be the thought behind the gift that counts for him. And I think again of Ron and how unwanted his expensive presents are. Especially that fancy Jaguar. And I wonder what Ron will do with it now.

At 10:00 sharp I leave Debbie soaking in a huge bubble bath in the hotel suite and proceed down to the lobby. The limo and driver is waiting for me. It's Ramon, the same guy who drove us on Sunday. Yesterday we had Byron. I guess it depends on whoever is available that day. But they were both excellent drivers. And Ramon is quite an eyeful, as well. But then I've always loved Latin men. And I sigh because I think of Carlos. But that was a long, long time ago.

Ramon smiles at me and opens the door. I slip into the backseat -- and find that I'm not alone. Ramon slams the door shut and goes around to the driver's seat.

"Hello, Vic. I hear you've been having a wonderful time in the city," says Ron.

"Um, yes. We have," I say. I have no idea what to do. It's already too late to get out of the limo because we are moving away from the curb and into traffic. "A fine time."

"That's good," he nods. "That's just fine." Ron is dressed in a beautiful gray suit and looks every inch the successful Hollywood executive. There's just a touch of blue in that gray to bring out his deep blue eyes. That's an old trick of Brian's -- wearing that touch of green or gold that reflects his eyes. I wonder if Ron learned it from Brian.

"Listen, Ron," I say, trying to figure out what he wants from me. "I'm just trying to get in a few hours of shopping this morning. My nephew, Michael, and his boyfriend are arriving this afternoon and I won't have any time to do it once they get here."

"Yes, I know. Ben Bruckner," Ron replies. "I've known Ben for years, Vic. He's writing a book about my career. We're in constant contact. About the book, I mean."

"Right," I say. "I forgot that you know Ben so well." I'd completely forgotten the connection between Ron and Ben. Suddenly there seems something a little bit ominous about it.

"And I met Michael last December when I was in Pittsburgh for the film festival at Carnegie Mellon." Ron's mouth tightens. "Where I met Brian," he adds. "Again."

"Right," I say again. I'm getting very uneasy.

"I want to apologize for that 'scene' you and your sister witnessed at the house yesterday. That was unfortunate," he says, evenly. "I'm sorry that Brian is being so... difficult. But the premiere and all the publicity has been putting a terrible strain on him, as I'm sure you can see."

I smile grimly. "It seems that the strain is getting to both of you, Ron." Yes, I want to add -- and Brian wasn't the one screaming his head off in the driveway.

"Sometimes it's necessary to be assertive with Brian," says Ron, smoothly. "He needs someone who can be firm with him or else he goes off the rails. He's done it in the past -- most recently in England. But you know all about that, I'm sure, Vic. I know that Brian confides in you -- like a kind of older brother figure."

"Thanks for the compliment, Ron, but I'm a little too old to be an older brother to Brian -- and you know it!" I have to laugh at Ron's attempt at flattery. "But Brian has said nothing to me about what happened to him in England. And I would never push him to tell me, either. He seems to be getting over it, slowly but surely. I think a chance to rest and recharge his batteries after this premiere stuff is finished will be just the ticket for him. And for you, too, Ron," I add. "You seem like you could use a vacation just as much as Brian."

"I'm planning one," he replies. "In Maui after the New Year. And Brian is going with me."

I take a deep breath. "Ron, I hate to tell you this, but don't you think Brian has made it pretty clear that your relationship is over? I mean, what does he have to do to convince you?" Yes, I think, wait until Ron finds out that Justin is coming into town today to be with Brian and attend the premiere -- unless Ron already knows about it from Ben.

Ron smiles strangely and shakes his head. "You just don't understand our relationship, Vic. It's not over. Not by a longshot. It's volatile, yes -- but that's what makes it interesting. I'm sure that you can see that?"

"Not really," I reply. "All I see are two guys going in two completely different directions. And from what else I've seen that's probably a good idea. I think you two bring out the worst in each other."

Ron glares to me. "No, it's exactly the opposite! We bring out the best in each other. Like 'The Olympian.' It's OUR creation. And next year we're making another film together. The remake of 'Red River.' It'll be another masterpiece, just wait and see. I've written the screenplay and I'm directing, too. And Brian is starring in it with Clint Eastwood. It will prove once and for all that we are an unbeatable team. In everything."

Ron has a smile on his face that's hard to describe. Happy. Satisfied, perhaps. But also a little creepy. Now I really think that Ron is totally delusional. And so is Brian if he's really planning to make another movie with Ron. It's just asking for trouble!

"Whatever you say, Ron," I answer. And the limo pulls up in front of a cluster of shops on Rodeo Drive. "This is where I have to get out. It was nice talking to you." And I'm ready to leap out of the car to end this weird conversation.

"Vic, wait a moment, please," says Ron, taking hold of my sleeve. I hold my breath. "I'll have Ramon drop me off at my office and then he'll come back and pick you up. Is that all right?"

"Certainly, Ron," I say, letting out my breath again. "That's just fine." I start to get out of the car, but he's still holding me back.

"But I want you do me a little favor," Ron says. He reaches into the pocket of his gray suit jacket and takes out a container. It looks like a prescription of some sort. "This is Brian's medication. He needs it to keep himself on an even keel. I'm sure that you've noticed how nervous and depressed he is."

"Well," I hesitate. Yes, I have noticed, but I don't want to tell Ron that.

"This is from his doctor." And Ron shows me the container and the label. And he's right. It's made out to Brian Kinney, prescribed by a Dr. Lawson Hall at the Spencer Pavilion in Beverly Hills. "He's being stubborn and refusing to take them. But he needs his medication. I'm sure you understand what it's like when you need medicine. Sometimes you don't want to take it because you don't want to admit that you need something like that just to get yourself through the day. I know that you've been... ill, Vic. So you see my point, I'm sure."

"I think you'd better talk to Brian about this, Ron," I say, staring at the container.

"It's only Xanax. Just for Brian's anxiety. It's completely harmless," Ron insists. And he puts the container of white pills in my hand. "The next time you see him, just give it to him. Or, better yet, slip it into his jacket. Then when he needs it, he'll take it. And it WILL help him, Vic. It really will. You'll be doing both of us a big favor. A very big favor."

I put the container into my pocket. It seems better to take it than to argue with him all day. "All right, Ron. If you say so. But I have to get going now. The next two days are going to be very hectic -- for all of us!"

"I know. Why do you think I've been so concerned about Brian? I only want what's best for him, after all. As we all do." Ron leans back in the seat and smiles. "What's best for Brian. That's the only important thing, isn't it? And who would know about that better than me? Right, Vic? Who better?"

Continue on to "When I Paint My Masterpiece -- Part 1", the next chapter.

©Gaedhal, April 2003.

Updated May 1, 2003.