This is Chapter 46 of the "Queer Realities" series.
The narrator is Brian Kinney, and features Justin Taylor, Leslie Mann, Dorian Folco, Diane Rhys, Bill Brenner, Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Back in La La Land. Los Angeles, March 2003.
Disclaimer: This is for fun, not profit. Watch Queer As Folk on Showtime, buy the DVDs, videos, and CDs. Read the stories and enjoy.
"Oh, I used to be disgusted,
And now I try to be amused,
But since their wings have got rusted,
You know the angels wanna wear my red shoes.
But when they told me 'bout their side of the bargain,
That's when I knew that I could not refuse.
And I won't get any older
Now the angels wanna wear my red shoes...."
"Mr. Kinney! Brian! Where have you been for the past few months? Brian! Have you been shooting a new film?" A photographer is screaming at me as we try to make our way from the entrance of the airport to the waiting studio car.
"I'm working on a new project and I've been resting up, getting ready to start pre-production on my next film, 'Red River.'" I pause and put on a big fake smile for their cameras. "And I've been enjoying myself -- away from Los Angeles."
"Any comment on the reports that you have a new daughter, Brian? There have been pictures of you and your friend, Mr. Taylor, going into a hospital in Pittsburgh."
I take a deep breath and try not to get angry. A photo of me with Justin and Gus heading in to see Lindsay and the baby was printed on Page Six of 'The New York Post' this morning. The reporters can't wait to show it the minute we land at LAX. "No comment," I return.
"Mr. Taylor! Mr. Taylor!" Another photographer calls. A flash goes off and blinds me for a second. I see Justin wince and hold his hand up in front of his face. "Justin! This way! Can you turn your head this way?"
"I want to tell them to fuck off, Brian," he whispers, turning his face into my jacket and away from the cameras.
"If you do that, Sunshine, it'll be on the front page of the fucking 'National Enquirer' next week," I remind him. "If that's your plan?"
"Not really," he mutters. His blue eyes dart left and right.
"Then look forward and keep walking," I advise.
One of the Trans-Con security guards assigned to us is trying to clear the way out to the idling car. Ramon, one of the usual drivers, opens the door. He shifts his eyes at me. Yes, Ramon, I remember you. A good looking guy and a hot fuck. Ramon has already stowed our bags in the trunk, so it's only me and Justin who still have to be secured. Justin gets into the limo and then I give the fucking paparazzi one more tight smile before I climb in after him.
In other words, it's business as usual in La La Land.
"Well, Brian -- what do you think?" Leslie asks proudly.
"Pretty good," I say, hesitating. "Not bad, but...."
"Not bad?" Leslie huffs. "It's exactly the way you wanted it arranged! I have your instructions right here!" She shoves a pile of e-mails in my face.
Yes, the new bedroom looks okay, but there are still a few things that aren't quite right. Some things need to be moved. And the drapes -- I don't like the way they hang. And the color of the sheets is too dark. And I'm not sure about the new dresser....
"It's beautiful, Brian," Justin breaks into my thoughts. "I'm sure you'll want to make a few little changes, but otherwise it looks really good! Much better than... than Ron's old decor."
"Yeah, that's true." All of Ron's old, heavy, Spanish-style furniture is gone. The big, bulky mirrors have been trashed and the old, boring carpeting has been stripped away, leaving bare hardwood floors that have been polished to a high gleam. The dark walls have all been painted off-white. The entire house looks like it's been lit up. It looks alive again. Like a completely different place.
Which makes me feel relieved, but also a little sad. Ultimately I'm hoping that with this remodeling all of the old, bad memories will be banished to make room for some new, good memories that Justin and I will begin to make together from now on.
I've warned Leslie not to say anything about the poolhouse yet. Now that the contractors have finished the bedrooms and are almost done with the living room, they're going to start on turning the poolhouse into a studio for Justin, with skylights and big windows to let in all the light he needs. I'm also putting in a state-of-the-art computer system so he can do computer animation. I had a consultant from Dreamworks who knew Ron put the whole package together. But it's all a surprise. I'm hoping that Justin's studio will be ready when we get back from the 'Red River' location shoot around the end of June. Justin will fucking flip when he sees it!
"The furniture for the living room isn't here yet, but it should be delivered before the end of the month," Leslie explains to Justin. "Besides, Brian told the decorators to finish the upstairs first. The new master bedroom was the number one priority."
"It's more important that we have a bed to sleep in -- and fuck in! -- than a sofa to sit on," I add.
"Brian can't live without his bed!" Justin exclaims as he bounces up and down on our new launching pad. It's another king-sized platform, as much like the one in the loft as I could get. I want to make this house ours and that means the correct bed. "Feels like it has a lot of 'give' -- if you know what I mean!" Justin slides his eyes at me and transmits exactly how he wants to test out the new bed.
"Looks like we'll have to break it in as soon as possible," I say, smirking at him. Then I join Justin and I begin to bounce, too.
"Okay, boys," says Leslie, raising her eyebrows. "I think this is my cue to leave!"
I laugh as Leslie shakes her head and exits Stage Left. Leslie has been vital to this whole process. I could never have stayed in rehab, gotten the house in order, and coordinated everything that needed to be done before 'Red River' begins without her. She was living at the house at first, but recently she's moved into her own condo in West Hollywood. That means Justin and I will have the house to ourselves. That is except during the week when Carmel and her mother will be here. Yes, the women are back, only they won't be living in this time. They have a small house in a nice neighborhood in East L.A. Leslie tells me that Carmel even got her driver's license, although one of her cousins still drives them on the days that they come to clean the place and -- if you'll excuse the expression -- cook.
"So, Sunshine, do you like the bed?" I ask as I push him back on the duvet. It feels good. In fact, the whole room feels good. Different. The house itself feels better. Brighter. More hopeful.
"Yeah," he sighs. "It sort of reminds me of the first time I came to the loft. The bed was so fucking huge! It looked more like a landing strip for an airplane than a bed!"
"Jet coming in for a landing!" I cry, rolling on top of him. Kissing him, softly at first, then a little harder. But Justin begins pulling at my clothes frantically, almost ripping my shirt. "Hey! Slow down. It's all right. We have all the time in the world."
That's when I see a change in his face. I've been seeing that look ever since I got out of Springhurst. It's fleeting, but it's there. What's going on, really? Is it fear? Doubt? But I'm fucking afraid to question him when things are going so great.
"Do we, Brian?" he whispers. "Do we have all the time in the world?"
"Yes," I reply. Maybe that's it. He thinks I don't mean it. He thinks I'm going to fuck up and make a run for it. "If you want it, Justin. All the time you want. All the time you need. Because..." I pause for a moment, uncertain how to say this. How to tell him what he needs to know to reassure him. "Because I'll never do this again. It's taken me over 30 years to get to this point. To find someone I want to be with. Someone I trust enough. Someone I... I love enough. I can't see doing it with anyone else. That would take me another 30 years. So, yes -- we have all the time in the world."
"But... but what about Ron?" he asks, his blue eyes wide.
I can see why Justin would think about Ron right now. Ron's presence still seems to hover over this house. This is where I came when I left Justin to be with Ron, and also where I called from every night through that long, sad winter. Trying to reach out to Justin. Trying to keep that connection even when I was trying to love Ron. Yes, trying. Pretending. But failing. Ron was the only other person I ever had anything close to a relationship with during my adult life and Justin still feels that. Yes, I cared about Ron and his death hit me like a fucking ton of bricks, but Ron isn't here anymore. This isn't his house, it's mine. Ours. Justin's and mine. And I never felt for Ron anything close to what I feel for Justin.
"Ron is gone," I say. "He can't hurt us. And he wouldn't want to hurt us. He's far away from here. He's at peace. You told me yourself that he's with... with Jack. And Jack isn't coming back, either. Never again. They're both gone, Justin. Forever." And Justin looks deep into my eyes, pleading for it to be true.
So I make love to him. Slowly at first, but then harder, more urgently. He's demanding. He wants more and more and more and I'm happy to give him what he wants. And what I want, too. This is what we both need. To fuck in our own place. In safety. There's no one else in my head. No one else I want. And no one else for Justin. I never believed that he could really want me, as fucked up as I am. But he does. That's the fucking miracle.
Yes, we've both been damaged. We've both been hurt. But it comes down to something so simple in this bed. Something so primal.
We love each other and I'm not afraid to admit it.
The tuxes look great, but I still want them to be fitted perfectly. Yes, I'm a control freak when it comes to that, but I want everything to be fucking perfect!
I want us both to look perfect.
After all, we'll be in front of all of Hollywood -- even all of the world -- at the Oscars on Sunday night. And I want everyone to see how the faggots can rise to the occasion.
Brian fucking Kinney ALWAYS rises to the occasion!
The midnight blue tux looks like a million bucks on Justin. And the black is perfect for me. We stand next to each other in front of the mirror while I bitch at the fitter about the length of the sleeves. But that's something very small. They'll fix it. They'll fix everything. Like I say, it'll be fucking perfect.
"You two," laughs Dorian. "You look like a couple of gay dolls on top of a wedding cake!"
"Shut the fuck up!" I yell at him. Dorian was supposed to meet us at the Ivy for lunch, but he knew we were going to Armani first for the fitting, so he showed up not long after we got here. "Mr. Fucking Romance! Don't you give Justin any ideas!"
"Don't worry, Brian," Justin reassures me. "I know you too well for that." But as he says it he keeps gazing at himself in the mirror, touching the rich blue material of the tux. Maybe Justin is thinking about shit like that. Ron always was. And I know that Justin is big on commitment and ceremonies and promises and rings and all of that romantic breeder crap.
I look at myself in the mirror, next to him. And I don't feel like bolting. No, public shows like fake faggot weddings really are bullshit, but they don't scare me the way they used to. I only know that they aren't for me. And never will be.
What does he really want? And can I ever give him what he really, truly wants?
And if I can't -- will I lose him?
That's the question that walks across my mind like a black cat crossing my path. And I shudder.
When we get to the Ivy there is Diane, waiting for us at the table. She looks all bright and shiny and successful, like the star of a hit TV series should.
"Bridie!" she squeals in that munchkin voice as she jumps up to her full 4 foot 11 height. "And Justin!"
"Diane!" Justin is flying into her arms, hugging her. He almost looks as if he's going to cry. "I'm so glad to see you," he sniffs. Like he's relieved.
"Hiya, Handsome!" says Diane, kissing my cheek. "You look great. Are you being good?" Diane knows that I was in rehab somewhere back East, so she's reminding me that I better behave while I'm out here.
"Yes, dear," I reply. "As good as a dickless faggot can be."
Diane snorts and then turns to Justin. "You sit right here, cutie," she says, plopping him down next to her and putting her arm around him. Now that Diane knows I'm not freaking out, Dorian and I are relegated to supporting players for the duration, so we take the other two seats quietly. Dorian grins at me and gestures for the waiter to take our drink orders.
It's strange how easily I could fall into the old routine again -- if I wanted to. The waiter is fawning all over me, then giving me 'The Look,' his eyes shifting towards the men's room. "May I suggest our special Oscar Cosmo for your cocktail, Mr. Kinney?" he murmurs. "It's VERY good."
Yeah, I think, looking at his cock straining against his tight white pants. "No, thanks," I reply. I don't even have to glance at Justin to know that he's watching me. And so are Dorian and Diane. Waiting to see if I jump off the wagon with both feet. "Perrier, with a twist, please. And that's all." The men's room will remain unvisited now and in the near future.
The waiter seems disappointed. I look him over again. I'm sure I did him last winter, but who the fuck knows? Anyway, I'm finished with that shit now. He takes drink orders from Diane and Dorian. Justin orders Perrier, too. He grins at me. Yes, things will be okay. We're both on the same page. Finally.
Lunch is good. Diane and I both have salads, while Justin gets a fancy pasta dish, and Dorian has fish. The place is packed with people talking about the Oscars tomorrow. I recognize a lot of producers having last minute discussions with their underlings. There are a lot of awards given out in Hollywood, but nothing else is as important or prestigious as the Oscars.
But I won't be getting one.
For the first time it hits me. The assholes fucking snubbed me! Not even nominated for Best Supporting Actor. Shit. While Jimmy is certain to walk away with Oscar #2. Double shit. Well, that's the way it goes in La La Land.
Diane tells Justin all about something cute that Armani did on the set of 'Here's Diane!' I guess the mutt is like a mascot on her show, but then Diane is the star so they have to like her dog, right? Justin is delighted to hear about the deeds of that fucking little walking dustmop.
The name Armani leads Justin to give Diane the lowdown on our fittings this morning. He's really excited. His face is flushed and his eyes are shining like he's just been fucked. I feel myself getting hard. Maybe I can coax him into that men's room. I'd rather fuck Justin than that faceless waiter any day. I've always felt that way, so why did it take me so long to admit it to myself?
While Justin and Diane have their heads together, Dorian starts talking about 'Red River.' He's nervous about directing Eastwood, but he shouldn't be. After all, 'Hammersmith' cleaned up at the British Academy Awards -- it won Best British Film, Dorian got Best Director, and I got Best Supporting Actor. And the buzz about the picture he just finished with Jude Law is really good. So Dorian is well on his way in Hollywood.
But Eastwood is a fucking legend and the logistics on 'Red River' are killing. Dorian tells me that Patrick Swayze has signed on, which I was hoping would happen. And Sam Elliott, too. Both have a lot of cowboy experience and are expert horsemen. But then there's all that fucking location shooting in Texas and Arizona during the punishing heat of June. I start sweating just thinking about it.
"Make sure I have a trailer with air conditioning! That's all I ask," I tell Dorian. "And I want to approve the horse I'm going to be riding before we begin shooting. I don't want to end up with a broken neck!"
"Don't worry, Brian," he replies. "That's why we're going to have 'Cowboy Camp' before we start shooting. Time for everyone to get comfortable with the animals and to learn from the wranglers. Especially since you'll be on horseback in almost every scene."
"Tell me about it," I moan. "I can feel my ass aching already! That's why I want to pick a horse I trust. Those cattle drive scenes can be dangerous if you're on a fucking horse that gets spooked easily."
"All of the animals will be veterans, Brian," Dorian assures me. Then his face gets a dreamy look. "I can't believe I'm directing a Western! It's a fantasy come true!"
"Yeah, all those hot guys in leather chaps!" I crack. But then I get serious. "Really, Dorian, Ron was looking forward to it. The ultimate classic genre flick. I keep thinking of all those Howard Hawks, John Ford, and Sam Peckinpah films Ron made me sit through while he was working on the script."
"You know that we're using his script with very few changes," Dorian adds. "Eastwood insisted."
"Ron would like that," I say. "He's going to win tomorrow for Best Adapted Screenplay. I can feel it."
"I think you're right," Dorian agrees. "But Best Director is more iffy. Scorsese is up and Roman Polanski, too. Ron is a longshot there."
"Yeah, but Jimmy is a fucking shoo-in for Best Actor."
Dorian laughs. "I think Jimmy's been practicing his acceptance speech since the day he started filming 'The Olympian'!"
"That was almost exactly a year ago," I marvel. "It seems like a fucking lifetime!"
"I know!" Dorian laughs. "And we've come a long way, too, Brian. I remember how angry I was when Sir Ken told me that he wanted some unknown American to play James Hammersmith! But I had to bite my tongue because it was Kenneth's project. Then I saw you! Jesus!"
"I thought you were going to fire my ass the first day, Dorian. I was so fucking clueless! And you were so odd to me. I thought you hated me."
"You made me so horny, Brian, that I had to go into my office and pull myself off!" Dorian confides. He gazes over at Justin, gossiping with Diane. "You two did look like the perfect couple in those tuxes at Armani. I can see it happening, you know. Give me the word and I'll be your Best Man. And Diane can be the Maid of Honor. She'd love that!"
"Don't even go there, Dorian," I warn. "It's... it's just not my way."
"It could be, Brian," Dorian says very directly. "I never thought it was possible with you and Ron. But with Justin... that's a different story."
"No," I return. "I'll take what I can get, but I'm not fooling myself, Dorian. This is it for me. But Justin... he has his whole life ahead of him. I'd never tie him down like that. I... I know that some day he'll... he'll move on. It's inevitable. And I don't want to hang a permanent commitment on him. I want Justin to be able to walk away when he needs to, and without thinking that he's failed in some way. Because any failure in our relationship will be all mine. That's something you can place a bet on."
Dorian shakes his head. "I'm not going to take a flutter on that horse, Brian. I still have faith in love and romance. I'm half French and half Italian, after all. We invented the entire concept."
I roll my eyes. "Luckily Romance Languages was NOT my fucking major at Penn State."
Dorian grimaces. "I have faith in you, Brian. And in Justin, too. Faith is a good thing. Try it sometime."
I stare across the table at Justin. His golden head is thrown back, laughing at something Diane has told him. "Faith lost me a long time ago."
"It can return, Brian," Dorian says. "Nothing is irrevocable."
But Dorian is wrong. "Some things are," I say quietly. "Dead things. Ron. My old man. My innocence. A lot of things."
"But you are alive," Dorian states. "And so is Justin. Don't let your chance for happiness go by the wayside. As long as you are willing, it's never too late."
Never too late.
Dorian truly is a hopeless romantic underneath all of that cool European sophistication.
He's also right, of course. Dorian is always right, I've found.
But I can only take one step at a time.
Or else I'll fall and never be able to get up again.
"We'll get out first, Brian," says Dorian. He and Diane are sitting across from us in the limo. We're lined up at the Kodak Theater, waiting to be dropped off at the Red Carpet. Waiting to run the gauntlet of fans, photographers, and commentators from all the entertainment shows in order to get into the Academy Awards. "That way you and Justin can make your Grand Entrance!"
"I'd like it better if we were allowed to sneak in the back door," I gripe. "With bags over our heads!"
"Or go in through the underground parking garage," Justin adds. "Like when we went to see Lindsay and the baby."
"Yeah, but the fuckers still got a picture of us," I remind him. "And of Gus, too."
"That's Show Biz!" Diane giggles in that squeaky cartoon voice of hers. "And I freaking love it! Let me on that Red Carpet! I want to strut my stuff all the way up to the door and spit in Joan Rivers' surgically enhanced face if she has anything snarky to say about me or my new dress! This is what I've been working for all my life." Diane is suddenly serious. "I would murder to be in a film that's up for an Oscar, Bridie. That's the truth. Maybe you're not a guy who's comfortable with fame, but that's what I've wanted my whole life. So let me out first!"
Dorian laughs and squeezes Diane's hand. Diane is Dorian's 'date' for the evening. He's actually been squiring her around quite a bit recently. They met, of course, through me and seem to have bonded over discussing my fucked up life and continuing peccadillos. Who knows? Maybe Dorian will make a turn to pussy again and he and Diane will hook up for real. Dorian's long-time wife, Maria Montgomery, that actress who lives in Switzerland, finally divorced him and married her lover, some young ski instructor. Dorian seems to have taken the whole divorce with a grain of salt, but I know better. He had a great attachment to his wife even though they hadn't lived together for years. Knowing that Maria decided to dump him and marry someone else really hurt him. Dorian likes dick in his bed, but he also likes the admiration of beautiful women. And he liked being married. He doesn't see how fucked up that attitude is. I guess it's a European thing.
Diane grins at Justin and reaches over to pat his leg. "Don't look so scared, cutie," she reassures him. Then she raises her eyebrow at me. "You, too, Bridie."
"I'm NOT fucking scared!" I insist. Not much.
But Justin slips his hand into mine. "I'll be okay, Diane," he tells her. "And so will Brian. I'll keep an eye on him."
"Are you going to accept Ron's award?" Dorian asks suddenly. "If he wins, that is?"
"Let Jimmy pick it up." Everyone has been asking me that same question. Will you accept Ron's Oscar? They're all betting on him to win posthumously for Best Adapted Screenplay. I'm betting on it, too. It's the least he deserves. Without Ron there would be no 'Olympian,' no nominations, no nothing for Terra Nova Studio. Or for Jimmy Hardy. Or Howie Sheldon.
"Jimmy gets enough attention, Brian," Dorian says seriously. "He's enough of an egotist and publicity hound as it is. Don't let him hijack Ron's award too."
"Do it, Bridie," Diane urges.
But I shake my head. I can't.
The limo begins to move forward. Then it stops and the door opens.
"Here we go, my dear," says Dorian, stepping out of the limo. He holds out his hand and Diane emerges from the car. I can hear the crowd yelling, "Diane! Diane Rhys!" That's how popular her television show is. It's a real hit and now little Diane is a star.
She and Dorian stand for a moment, basking in the screams of the fans and the popping lights of the cameras as they photograph this hot new couple. "'Here's Diane!' star Diane Rhys and British director Dorian Folco on the Red Carpet on Oscar Night." That's what the captions will read tomorrow. They certainly can't miss Diane in a red Oscar de la Renta gown that fits her petite form like a glove. Even in her bright red Jimmy Choo heels, Diane is about the only woman in Hollywood who can make Dorian look tall. So perhaps they are perfect for each other?
The security man assigned to move everything along gestures to me to get out of the car. Let's get this show on the road. The limos are backing up.
I unfold myself and stand up straight. I can hear one of the commentators yapping into his microphone, "Here is Brian Kinney, co-star of 'The Olympian,' one of the favorites for Best Picture!"
I turn and almost bump into Justin, who has already hopped out of the limo, grinning with every single one of his blindingly white teeth. He hesitates, but I hold out my hand. That sets the crowd off on another screaming binge. "Brian! Brian!" They sound like a million attacking seagulls as the two faggots walk the Red Carpet at the Oscars, on their way to support their faggot movie!
"Brian Kinney! Brian, over here!" I hear Bill Brenner, the gay reporter from 'Access Hollywood,' beckoning to us.
What the fuck? He's a queer. If I have to talk to someone, it might as well be one of our own. I steer Justin up to his microphone. Brenner looks triumphantly at the other commentators, who are still yelling to get my attention.
"Brian Kinney!" he crows into his microphone. "Star of 'The Olympian'! And you're here with...." he stops, uncertain. He knows Justin's name, but he doesn't know what to call him. "Justin Taylor."
"My partner," I add.
"Brian, how do you feel about the possibilities of a big win for your film tonight?" Brenner asks.
I hesitate. 'The Olympian' made more money than the studio ever expected, but it was hardly a blockbuster at the box office. However, it's been Terra Nova's biggest critical success in years. If they win even one Oscar it will be gravy for them. Two and Howie Sheldon might even crack a smile. But the Best Picture Award is not very likely for such an unapologetically queer film as 'The Olympian.'
"We're hoping," I say shortly. And I remember my phony smile. No one has to tell Justin to smile. He couldn't stop if he wanted to.
Brenner nods. "And your new project, Brian? The Eastwood Western?"
"We begin shooting 'Red River' in May. Almost all location work in Texas and Arizona." I feel more comfortable talking about the new film than about myself. "I'm looking forward to the challenge. I worked with the director, Dorian Folco, on my second film, 'Hammersmith,' so it should be a wonderful experience."
Then Brenner turns to Justin and I hold my breath. Please don't ask him personal stuff, I pray. But Brenner only says, "Justin, what are you wearing?"
"Armani, of course," Justin replies coolly. "Brian and I always wear Armani."
"You both look great, guys," Bill Brenner adds sincerely. "Good luck tonight."
"Thanks," I say. "That's one thing I can always use -- good luck."
Continue on to "Love You 'Til the Day I Die".
©Gaedhal, May 2005.
Posted May 11, 2005.