This is Chapter 46 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "Open Lines IV" , the previous chapter.
The narrators are Ron Rosenblum and Ben Bruckner, featuring Brian Kinney, Jerry Baxter.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Ben and Ron both attend the Maui Film Festival. Ron expects Brian to go with him. Los Angeles/Maui, June 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.
I walked in while Brian was sitting on the bed, talking on the phone.
"I'll talk to you then. Call me when it comes, okay? Later." He hung up quickly. That always sets off my paranoia alarm.
"Who was that?"
"Just making some calls about the trip."
"Is Lindsay all ready? I mean, bringing a small baby all the way across the country on a plane...."
"Gus will be 2 years old in September -- he's hardly a tiny baby. In fact, he's getting to be a big bruiser. But Lindsay's a big girl -- she's well able to handle the trip."
I tried to picture her, but all I could see was a large, blowzy dyke. But she couldn't be like that -- not if Brian had ever been interested in her.
"Oh, well" I opened one of my drawers and started to sort through it. Suddenly, I looked around. "Brian -- I don't see you packing. We're leaving first thing in the morning and you haven't even gotten your suitcase out."
"I'm not going." He had his Filofax open and was making a note in it.
"What the fuck do you mean you're not going? It's all arranged!"
"I said, I'm not going. I'm going to stay here and get ready for Lindsay and Gus. I don't need to rush off to Hawaii only to have to rush back."
"But -- it's ALL arranged!"
"What's all arranged, Ron?" He lifted that fucking eyebrow at me.
He shut the Filofax and set it on the nightstand. "Well, un-arrange it, because I'm not going to Maui. There's no reason for me to go there and I need some time to myself before Lindsay arrives and before I have to leave for London." He stood up and headed for the door.
"Where are you going?"
"Downstairs. I need to work out."
"You don't need to fucking work out NOW -- I'm talking to you!"
"I'll talk to you -- when you get back from Maui. Aloha, Ron."
The minute he was out of the room I picked up the Filofax. But it was impossible. The thing was in some kind of uncrackable Kinney-code, with little stars, checks, exclamation points (what the fuck did THOSE mean?), numbers, letters -- it was a fucking jumble. The only obvious markings were the dates of his trip to Pittsburgh, Lindsay's arrival and departure, and the date he was leaving for London. This was a continuing source of frustration because it seemed that if only I could figure out what those marks meant then suddenly everything would become clear.
Everything? Or nothing.
And now he wasn't coming to Maui. The red line drawn through those markings was plain enough. But when the fuck had he decided this? Today? A week ago? Five minutes ago? I felt like throwing the Filofax through the nearest window.
So, now what?
"I wish I was going with you."
Michael kept blocking my path as I tried to fill up my suitcase.
"I wish you were going, too, Michael. But this is a business trip. Maybe next time we can go for a little pleasure." I winked at him.
"I don't care what you say -- any trip to Hawaii isn't ALL business."
"I can't help it if this film festival just happens to be in such a diabolically beautiful place. It's just a coincidence."
"Sure. Just a coincidence. I notice that movie people like to have their big deals in places like Hawaii and the South of France. Never Pittsburgh."
"Now that's not true, Michael. What about the film festival last December? The one Ron came to? That was here in Pittsburgh."
"That's one I wish had never taken place." Michael kicked at the leg of the bed with his sneaker. "That was really the beginning of the end if you ask me."
"I don't care! That's the way I feel." He picked one of my shirts out of the suitcase and refolded it. "And you'll probably spend a lot of time with Brian, too. Just like you spent more time with him than I did when he was here."
"Michael, don't act like a child." I took the shirt out and refolded it again -- the right way. "Besides -- Brian will be much too busy with his wedding to spend much time with me."
Michael's head whipped around. "Don't say that! Even as a fucking JOKE!"
"You know that I'm only kidding, Michael."
"Well, I don't think it's very funny at all. NOT FUNNY!"
"Michael, let's not get silly about this. Especially not right before I'm leaving."
"So, I'M silly, huh? You're the one who started it all, Ben. YOU did! With your goddamn film festivals and your goddamn movie friends -- and all your talk about goddamn weddings!" He practically ran out and slammed the door behind him.
That was a mistake. I should know never to make jokes about Brian, no matter how innocuous. To Michael, there is nothing innocuous about anything having to do with Brian. And I should realize that by now.
I walked out of the bedroom but Michael was already gone. On his way back to the apartment he still shared with Emmett. Or maybe over to the store to emerse himself in his comic books. Or even over to the loft to sit and commiserate with Justin. And now I'll have left town and he will still be mad at me.
Wailea was beautiful. The weather was beautiful. And the room was beautiful -- exactly what I had asked for.
And I was there -- alone.
Anyone who asked me where Brian was, I said he was back in L.A., working. Sort of true. A couple of them looked at me sideways. Thanks to Freddy Weinstein and his fucking big mouth, Jerry Baxter had heard about the plan and was making it into the best 'gag' of the whole film festival. That damn Jerry was running around, dropping hints and making comments about the fact that I was there -- alone.
I finally caught up with him -- where else? -- at the hotel bar.
"Hey, Ron! Where's the little woman? Or should I say the big woman, since he's about three inches taller than you and could probably bend us both in two. Picking out his flowers?"
"Fuck you, Jerry. Why don't you find that fucking Diane and both of you can throw yourself in the volcano?"
"You were so certain that we were going to have a little celebration this week -- So, where's the bride, Ron? Tell me, do you think it's really reasonable for Brian to wear white?" Jerry was cracking himself up with his 'witty' asides. "Maybe I should ask Jimmy about that!"
I knew that if I stayed one second longer I would pick Jerry up by his polyester Aloha shirt and throw him against the tiki-covered wall.
I went trudging out of there, feeling like total shit. The first person I saw was Ben Bruckner, standing in the lobby, talking to a group of film critics. He looked up.
"Here's the man now!"
They all turned and looked at me. Wonderful!
"Ron, these guys have a few questions about 'The Olympian.'" Ben nodded at me -- Come on, Ron, he was saying -- I'm trying to help you here -- You can schmooze these guys even on your worse day. And this was one of my worst.
So, I talked to them. Set up a few interviews. Arranged for promo material to be sent. Did what I was there to do -- talk up my fucking picture.
And when I finished talking to the critics contingent, Ben was there, smiling at me.
I'd always been attracted to Ron, but the time to act on it had never seemed right. Then when I tested positive, I became even more wary. But this seemed to me to be one of those what-the-hell moments. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, as the cliché goes.
I had a very nice room in a very nice hotel. But it looked like a broom closet in a flophouse compared to Ron's luxury suite. It was ultra-Hollywood all the way, from the balcony with the view of the beach to the fully stocked bar to the gigantic bathtub with jacuzzi to the even more gigantic bed.
"Damn, Ron -- they really did give you the bridal suite!"
"Will you shut up! Let's just do this and get it over with."
"Why, Ron, I always knew you were a romantic, but I never knew how much."
When I got out my condoms and other paraphernalia I heard him mumbling. "What, Ron?"
"I said that I fucking hate those things."
"Well, I'm afraid they are a necessity for me -- and for everyone who even gives a good damn. Hey, I know Brian -- he's as scrupulous as anyone I know, so you should be used to this drill."
It wasn't bad. At least for two people both wishing they were someplace else. But not bad.
Afterwards, Ron immediately lit up a joint. "I need it to relax."
"And that wasn't relaxing enough?" I said, still panting. "I admit it's been a long day and I'm a little tired...."
"No offense, but...."
"Right. I keep forgetting who I'm being compared to."
Ron offered me a hit, but I declined.
"I barely knew what pot was until I started living with Brian." he said. "Now I can't go a fucking day without getting high. It's the only thing that works. Even the anti-anxiety shit doesn't do it like the pot."
"Have you tried a glass of wine instead? It would probably work just as well."
"I promised my mother I wouldn't drink," he explained as he took a hard toke on the joint.
I laughed out loud. "Ron, you are such a study in contradictions!"
"Well, she warned me about booze -- she never said anything about pot."
"And you never take a drink?"
"An occasional cocktail -- but only at parties. But I'd fucking drink that entire bar over there if I thought it would help."
"I'm really sorry, Ron. Really."
"Yeah, sure. He knew something was up. That's why he refused to come."
"You know, Ron, I hate to point this out but even if he had come with you -- I mean, there's no way he would have gone through with your little scenario. You would have ended up looking foolish and Brian would have been furious and humiliated. Is THAT what you wanted to happen?"
"No. But I still don't see why you are so certain he wouldn't have just gone with the flow? I mean -- if it would make me happy, why not?"
I couldn't believe that Ron had spent so much time around Brian and still understood him so imperfectly. "Why not? Because it goes against EVERYTHING I know about Brian. Everything YOU know about him!"
"Someone is just determined to ruin everything. I have that feeling. And I have my suspicions who it is."
"Ron -- listen to me. You should be on the world's biggest high right now. And I don't mean from a large spliff of Maui Wowie. Everyone at this festival is talking about 'The Olympian.' Everyone! The word of mouth is already at a fever pitch and the thing is months away from premiere. Jimmy is telling people it's the best thing he's ever done -- better than 'Liberty.' And the word on Brian is so favorable...."
"Isn't that what you wanted, for godsake? Isn't that why you put him in the picture -- almost against his will -- in the first place?"
"Sure --YOU hear all the great word of mouth and I hear all the gossip and innuendo."
"Sorry to say it, Ron, but with Brian that's just -- Brian! He is all anyone ever talked about even back in Pittsburgh. Why assume anything would change now? And gossip is part of the Business, face it. I've heard my share, but most of it so far-fetched that no one would give it any credence. I mean -- they are making Brian into some kind of queer Warren Beatty. And, frankly, is that such a bad thing?"
"Sure -- they aren't talking about YOUR lover. You listen to that shit all the time and see how you feel about it!"
"Ron, I would think that when you take up with Brian you had better put your jealousy on the backburner -- that is a given. Anything else is just asking for the worst kind of grief."
"I didn't think it would bother me -- but the longer it goes on, the worse it gets! And he can't be fucking doing EVERYTHING they say! I mean, he physically couldn't do it! The laws of physics are in play here, Ben!"
"See, Ron -- you CAN laugh about it a little."
"But not fucking much. Tell me what you've heard? Who you've heard?"
I backed off. "I don't think so...."
"Come on, Ben. You said it was far-fetched," he was wheedling me.
'Well -- the rumors I've heard range from the very possible right off the charts into no-fucking-way land."
"Peter Bridges. He may play the 'All American Dad' on television but everyone knows he's a big queen -- and a big slut."
"Yeah, he's also a good friend of mine."
"And I know that Brian's done him."
"Oh. Well. Moving on then... Sir Kenneth Fielding. This one comes out of lack of imagination, I think. Because Sir Kenneth is one of the few truly prominent out actors, people attach his name to any kind of gay sex thing. Plus, he has a cameo in the film."
"And Brian's done him, too."
"Oh. Jesus, Ron."
"See what I'm dealing with?" Ron was groping around the bedside table, trying to find a match to re-light the joint. "Fuck! Who else?"
"That starlet he's 'dating' -- what's her name?"
"Doesn't seem Brian's thing -- no matter what. Right?"
Ron shrugged, hopelessly.
"Okay, here's the funniest of all. And that's why people are repeating it. I mean, millions buy the 'Weekly World News' to read about Batboy and the Space Alien, too, so why not propagate ridiculous rumors about Brian and his co-star?"
"You mean Jimmy Hardy?"
"Yes -- See what I mean about absurd? Talk about the straightest guy on the planet! Right?"
But Ron only looked more depressed. He offered me the joint again. This time I took it.
"Ben, I want you to tell me about this guy in Pittsburgh. I have to fucking know."
"I can't do that, Ron. That would be wrong. Unfair to him -- and to you. Not to mention unfair to Brian!"
"I have to know. Is this guy really a danger? To me? To us?"
I thought hard about this. The last thing I wanted to do was to give Ron any ammunition to use against Justin. "He's not a danger in any way you would articulate, Ron. He has a ton of things against him. He's cute, but a lot of guys are cute. He's young and inexperienced. He's naive and trusting, which just sets him up to get stomped flat by someone like Brian. He doesn't have money or power or a famous name...."
"But -- he's got sincerity on his side. And tenacity. He's devoted to Brian and he doesn't have anything to lose. And...."
"They have a history together. A traumatic history. That's a powerful bond."
"What kind of 'traumatic history'? That's such bullshit! No one has a more 'traumatic history' than Brian and I! I have fourteen fucking years of traumatic history to deal with! And what does it get me? I'm here with YOU!"
"Thanks loads, Ron." I rolled over and looked directly into his face. "Listen to me seriously. This is not going to end here. This is BRIAN we're talking about. The biggest drama queen in the fucking universe! The biggest fucking queer stud in the universe! Do you have any idea what kind of lethal combination that is? I know you are trying to deal with this the best way you can, but it isn't going to end with any queer wedding or commitment rings or roses and champagne!"
Ron made a groaning noise. "I know! That's the worst fucking part!"
"Ron, I understand what you are feeling. I mean, if I had ever believed that Brian was capable of 'doing a relationship' then I would have taken MY shot at it when I had the chance. But it was obviously not something that was going to happen -- ever."
Ron caught my arm. "What the fuck do you mean -- 'your shot'?"
Okay. Here it was. "Brian and I -- we hooked up at the White Party in Miami a couple of years ago. It was one weekend. And that was it. No big deal to Brian."
"And to you, Ben?"
I had to be honest. "Maybe a bigger deal to me. But nothing I ever thought would be permanent. That's not his way."
"Fine. Great. Fucking peachy!" His face was beginning to get red. And not from sunburn. "You and Brian!"
"Ron -- Why can't you just be happy with what you have? It's more than anyone else has! Can't you be satisfied with that?"
"Get out, Ben. NOW!"
"OUT! Get the fuck out of here!"
I got out of bed and picked up my clothes. "Aloha, Ron."
Continue on to "Vanity Fair -- Part 1", the next chapter.
©Gaedhal, July 2002
Send Gaedhal any comments, critiques, suggestions.
Updated July 11, 2002