This is Chapter 23 of the "Queer Realities" series.
Go back to "Queer Theories" for the very beginning of this saga.
The narrator is Brian Kinney, and features Dr. Julius Gorowitz, Sylvia Schacter.
Rated R for language and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Brian sees the Doc. Springhurst. February 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.
"Sometimes I wonder where that strong, confident Brian Kinney went," I say bleakly. "Where the fuck did he go? He had it all figured out and he always knew what to do. Whatever came along -- you fucked it, drank it, snorted it, made money off it, or you tossed it out the fucking window. No apologies, no excuses. Life was simple -- and good."
"Was it, Brian?" Dr. Gorowitz asks. He sits back in his big leather chair. These long therapy sessions with him are fucking excruciating, but there's no way to get out of them. The Doc is trying to get to the 'bottom' of me. I keep telling him that there's no 'bottom' -- only 'top'! He doesn't get it. "Are you seeing the real picture? Was life really good?"
"What the fuck do you mean?" I return. "That's the way it was."
Dr. Gorowitz gives me that impenetrable wall of a face. I should be used to that face by now. After all, I've been looking at it for the last 8 sessions of going over every fucking detail of my fucking life! "Is it a strong, confident man who avoids intimacy at all cost? Is it a strong and confident man who uses other men sexually and then callously pushes them aside, telling them bluntly that he never wants to see them again? Is it a strong and confident man who tries to hang himself as his own 30th birthday present?"
I snort. "That scarfing thing, Doc -- it was just... just...."
"Just what, Brian?"
"Trying to get my rocks off, that's what!"
"No, Brian," he replies. "It was Russian Roulette. It was a suicide attempt. And don't try to convince yourself otherwise."
"Bullshit," I mutter.
"What was that, Brian?"
"I said 'bullshit,' Dr. Gorowitz!" I move around restlessly in the chair. He needs to get some more comfortable furniture in this place. Maybe it's designed to make you uncomfortable. Maybe that's the secret of keeping you off-balance.
"Russian Roulette," he repeats. "Just as your threat to jump off the roof of the hospital where your son was born was another attempt."
"I knew I should have kept my big fucking mouth shut about that shit," I mumble.
"Telling Fate to take its best shot -- and almost taking your best friend with you in the process."
I sit up straight in the chair. "I wouldn't have done that, Doc! I was high. I didn't mean that I'd actually jump! And especially not if it meant hurting Michael. I'd never do that."
"You wouldn't hurt Michael you say, Brian? But don't you hurt him all the time? Purposefully. Cruelly. You know that. You've hurt your friend deeply, over and over. Testing his love for you, testing his devotion. And you've tried to hurt yourself too. I don't think that it's a coincidence that many of your suicidal actions occur at milestone events in your life. The birth of your son. Your 30th birthday. Starring in your first film. The death of your first lover. I don't think it's a coincidence at all."
I settle back in the fucking chair. "What the fuck can I say? I don't plan these things. When I think back over my life what I remember most is fucking, being high, drinking. When I wasn't doing one, I was doing one of the others. Or all of them at once. Even my best ad campaigns pale in comparison with being Brian 'fucking' Kinney. And my so-called acting career certainly does. Everything pales in comparison with keeping up that 'image.' At least everything DID pale in comparison. Until...."
"Until when, Brian?"
This guy loves to nail me to the wall. He loves to push my own bullshit in my face. I take a deep breath. "Until Justin. That's when things began to change."
"At least you acknowledge it, Brian."
"Why wouldn't I?" I frown. "You think I'm trying to pretend that Justin is meaningless?"
"No," he says calmly. "But there was a time when you did feel he was meaningless. Meaningless enough to leave him."
"I didn't leave because he didn't mean anything," I say, sinking down, astonished that I'm admitting this to another person. I can't even say it full volume, so I have to whisper. "I left because he meant too much. I couldn't fucking deal with it. I didn't even want to try to deal with it."
"That was obviously a huge change for you, Brian. Was that when you began to realize that your so-called 'rules' your philosophy were changing?"
Fuck, but I need a smoke right now! He's staring at me in that 'I just asked a question and I'm going to sit here until you answer it' way of his. It makes me squirm. And answer his fucking questions. "Jesus, I don't know! It was gradual. I kept doing things that surprised everyone who knew me. Surprised even Michael, who knew me better than anyone else in the world. I began doing things that surprised me. Shocked the hell out of me, in fact."
This guy never gives you a fucking break! I've already told him so much, but he always wants more! "Like letting Justin move in with me after his father kicked him out. I mean, it was not typical of me that I even saw him more than once. But as the weeks went on I was seeing him more and more. At first I hid it, you know? I didn't want the guys, especially Michael, to know that I was spending so much time with some twink kid. So I'd wait until they had gone home, or were busy elsewhere, and then I'd scoop Justin up and I'd take him back to the loft and fuck him. But that got stupid after a while and I stopped bothering to pretend that he wasn't with me most of the time. We'd be at Woody's -- that's the bar we go to -- or Babylon -- that's the big dance club for fags in the Pitts -- and I'd pick up a trick, take him into the backroom, get my cock sucked, have a few drinks, dance a little, do a few lines, and then take Justin home with me. I mean -- take him back to the loft."
"You said 'home,' Brian."
I grimace. "Home, loft, whatever! That's what it is now -- our home. Both of ours."
"And it wasn't then?"
"No, it was my loft. MY space."
"Even when Justin was living there?"
"He was just staying there because he didn't have any other place to go. It wasn't like I... I mean, it just fucking happened. It wasn't planned."
"It sounds like the inevitable progression of a relationship, Brian. Dating, intimacy, making a commitment, living together, sharing a life."
"Dating?" I huff. "Christ! You make everything sound like some lesbian romance novel! Why does everything have to be about some fucking relationship?"
But Gorowitz is like a dog who won't let go of a bone. "But isn't that what we're talking about? Your relationship with your partner and how it came about?"
I have a bitch of a headache. I rub my nose. "Is that what we were talking about, Doc? I thought we were talking about every detail of my fucked up life!"
"Did your friends accept this turn of events?" Dr. Gorowitz continues.
I shrug. "Sort of. I mean, I guess they did. Mikey was pissed at first. And the guys, Emmett and Theodore, joked about us. They all referred to Justin as my stalker or 'Adopt a Trick.' But that's ALL he was back then. Just a trick. That's all. We weren't in any kind of fucking 'relationship'!"
"Really?" The Doc tilts his head. "Do you still believe that? That even that early in your acquaintance, even when he was living with you, that Justin was merely another 'trick' that you had sex with regularly?"
"That's a 'fuck buddy,' Doc," I grin at him. There's still a lot that our eminent psychiatrist doesn't know about fags. "Get the terminology correct."
"So... Justin was simply one of your fuck buddies?"
I laugh. "He was the only fuck buddy I'd ever had, really. I'd fucked a couple of guys regularly in the past, but they were...." I stop. This is getting into shit I don't like talking about.
"They were what, Brian?"
I'm squirming now. "A different kind of trick, that's all."
"Jesus, you really want all the gory details, don't you?"
"I only want the truth, Brian. I already know quite a bit about your past. In fact, much of your past is part of the public record."
"I know, but... shit." Now my head is really pounding. "Can I have a Nuprin or something?" I'd really like a couple of lines of pure white powder, but I can't tell the Doc that!
Dr. Gorowitz fumbles in his top drawer and then hands me a plastic container of ibuprofen. I take two and wash them down with my bottle of water. I close my eyes, willing the things to work fast.
"There were some guys who... helped me. You know? When I needed money at different times. One when I needed stuff for college. Another when I was just starting out at Ryder -- that's the advertising agency I worked for in Pittsburgh. And... there were other guys, too, who gave me money when I needed it. No big deal."
Gorowitz raises his busy eyebrows. "If it isn't a big deal, then why don't you want to talk about it, Brian?"
"Jesus! Because then you'd think I was a fucking hustler, that's why! Not just when I was a kid on the streets, but later. Even after I got out of college. But it wasn't like that at all! It... wasn't."
"I'm not judging you, Brian," says the Doc serenely. "But you seem to be judging yourself. And you are far harder on yourself than I could ever be."
"I know," I say, closing my eyes. "That's the fucking trouble."
I'm in what I thought was a remote corner of the main building, sitting with my laptop on the ledge of a large picture window that overlooks the back garden of Springhurst. Doug, a guy in my Group who is hot for me, showed me where all the internet connections are in the main building and I've been making use of them. Sometimes you have to get out of the fucking room and look out a different window now and then.
But apparently this corner isn't remote enough, because Sylvia finds me. I stop what I'm doing, which is cruising around the internet, seeing what the nutcases on the Brian Kinney fan lists are saying these days. I can't believe that they actually write stories about me and Justin! Like porn and shit! Jesus. "What's up, Sylvia?"
"Brian, I thought you might like to go to Occupational Therapy today. It would give you something to do beside sitting on the computer all day, or going to the gym, or wandering around the grounds in the snow." Sylvia has her hands on her hips and is in full Jewish Mother mode today, making sure that I'm doing only what's good for me. Or what SHE thinks is good for me.
"I have to tell you, Sylvia, that making wallets is not my idea of a fun way to spend my spare time. I've been going to Group every day. I see the Doc on schedule. I even passed my drug test with flying colors. What more to I have to do to satisfy the powers that be?"
"Yes, Brian, you're satisfying the basic requirements. But how about doing something a little more constructive with your time?" she asks.
"Unless I was planning to go to work on an Indian reservation when I get out of here, I fail to see how making beaded wallets and belts could be considered a constructive use of my abundant time." I click over and check my e-mail. There's a new message from Justin and another one from Jimmy. That's the third one from Jimmy today. He must be freaking out in Toronto again.
Sylvia sighs. "That's not the point, Brian. You need something else that you can focus your attention on. Something that keeps your mind AND your body busy."
I shake my head. "If I need to keep my body busy, there's the gym. If I need to keep my mind busy, I have my books and my laptop." I pat the top of the screen. "And if I get horny I have my cellphone with Justin on the speed-dial. So I think I'm doing just fine without involving myself in a bunch of make-work activities. This isn't Boy Scout camp and I'm not working on any merit badges."
Sylvia sits down next to me on the window ledge. "It's just that I hate to see you wasting so much of your time, Brian. I know that you're bored. And I know that you're lonely. That's especially apparent after Justin was here last weekend. I don't like to think that all you are doing is waiting for Friday, when he comes to visit."
I shrug. "So? What if I am?"
"So," she continues. "I think it would be a nice thing if you have some kind of project that you can work on while you're here."
I close my eyes. Sylvia isn't about to give up. "Beaded belts? A nice wallet for my beloved mother?"
"No," she says. "Something that YOU want to do, Brian. Something that you can accomplish while you're here. Set yourself some kind of goal."
I shake my head. "I thought that getting sober and staying off drugs WAS the goal I was trying for while I was here, Sylvia? And I thought I was making some sort of progress in that area."
Sylvia raises her carefully penciled eyebrows. You have to admire Sylvia. She's got her own personal style and she's always perfectly turned out -- hair, nails, make-up -- even in a fucking loony bin and rehab center. Sylvia would have made an impressive drag queen.
"Yes, but you're more than that, Brian," she presses. "There's more to your life than simply NOT drinking and NOT doing drugs. And your time at Springhurst should reflect that. That's why Dr. Gorowitz has encouraged your partner to visit. And why we encourage you to carry on with normal activities as much as possible while you're here."
I bite my lip. "Then what do you suggest, Sylvia? Does Springhurst need a new ad campaign I can develop? Or maybe I should put on a play so I can keep my acting abilities finely honed?"
She perks up at that one. "That might actually be a good idea!" she says brightly.
"I was just kidding, Sylvia!" I exclaim in horror. "No fucking way I'm putting on a play with the motley crew in this place!"
"Well, it was just a thought." Sylvia makes little sucking sounds while she's thinking. "You can't very well make a movie while you're in rehab." Then she smiles. "However -- you could write one."
"Write one? You mean, like a screenplay?"
I snort. "Why not? Because I've never written a fucking screenplay before, that's why. I'm not a writer."
"But you wrote copy at your ad agency. You've read a bunch of scripts, been IN some movies and I'm sure you've watched a lot, too," Sylvia reasons. "So why not give it a try? Think of it as a new world to conquer!"
I take a deep breath. "Ron was the fucking writer, not me. I wouldn't even know where to begin. Besides, I have nothing to write about."
Sylvia stands up and straightens her big sweater. It's a bright red and yellow Benetton number that she wears with black stirrup-pants. It's very 1980's, but then Sylvia is a very 1980's kind of gal. "What about your own life, Brian? I'm sure you've had plenty of adventures that would make an -- um -- interesting movie."
I stare at Sylvia. She's fucking serious. "Oh, yeah, my adventures would make a good film for Disney. Also a very popular ride in the Queer Land section of Disney World!"
Sylvia rolls her eyes. "It was only a suggestion, Brian." She turns and begins to walk away. "Oh, by the way -- don't forget that Group begins in 15 minutes."
"Thanks a fucking lot," I say. I have only enough time to send Justin a quick obscene message before I pack up and head off to Group. It's a non-stop social whirl here at fun-filled Springhurst!
Dr. Gorowitz has a lot in common with Justin. I'm convinced that they both have pitbull blood. They never let anything go. Ever.
"Last time you were saying that you considered Justin 'just a trick' for the first portion of your relationship. How long did you believe that?"
I shrug. "I don't know. A while. What the fuck difference does it make now?"
"It makes a difference because it shows a bit of what your attitude was then. And perhaps how that attitude has changed." Gorowitz pauses. "And your current attitude towards your partner, as well. So, do you still believe that Justin was 'only' a trick from the very beginning? Or was he something else even early on?"
"How the fuck do I know?" I hate all this introspective horseshit. And he's staring at me again. "No," I finally say. "I don't believe it anymore. He was more than a trick even before he started living with me that first time. I knew he was different the night I met him. I let him come with me to the hospital for the birth of my son. The next morning I even drove him to school, if you can believe it. And I told the guys to lay off when they were snarking about him. None of those were things I would have done for anyone else. But I couldn't allow myself to admit that he was more than just another fuck, Doc. I couldn't allow myself to look forward to taking him home. Or letting him stay all night -- and I rarely let tricks stay all night. I hated waking up to the cold, clear light of day and seeing some seedy stranger in my bed, in my loft, in my home. It made my fucking stomach ache."
"But Justin didn't make your stomach ache?"
Why is it so hard to admit, even now? I shake my head. "Justin was different. And, no, he didn't make my stomach ache. He made my cock ache!" I laugh, but Gorowitz only curls his lip slightly. "I liked waking up and having him there. He was so clean and unspoiled. He'd roll around in the bed and grin and stretch like a little cat as he was waking up. And he always looked so happy to be there. Happy to be with me. It made me feel... not so rotten to be alive."
"You know -- jaded. Tired. Sick of having to re-start the whole fucking merry-go-round. Washing all the fucking and drinking and drugging off myself each morning. And then doing it all over again that night -- and having to wash myself off again in the morning."
"And Justin didn't mind that you were seeing other men?"
Now I really laugh. "'Seeing' is not the word, Doc! That implies that I was looking at them or dealing with them as human beings. I was on the lookout for body parts. A tight-looking ass. A promising bulge. A nice chest. That was what I was 'seeing.' Once I had the guy in the backroom, or the alley, or in my Jeep, or the loft that was it. I never bothered with names. I didn't want to know what their favorites foods were or whether they liked Barbra or Bette better. They weren't people, Doc. They were tricks. And I never did a guy more than once."
Gorowitz raises his eyebrows. "And this whole time that you never had sex with a man more than once, you were still with Justin regularly? Also having sex with Justin?"
The way he puts it makes it all sound so fucking sordid. "Yeah. Sometimes in the same evening. I'd fuck one or two guys at the club, besides managing to get one in during the day at lunch or the gym. Then at the end of the evening I'd take Justin home."
"How many men would that be a week, approximately?" Gorowitz makes a note on his pad. I don't know if he's calculating my trick ratio or making out his shopping list.
I sigh. "I don't know! Melanie, the woman who's the partner of my son's mother, represented me in a sexual harassment case a while back and she asked me the same question. I told her 20 or 30 tricks a month, but that might have been a low-ball figure -- excuse the pun, Doc."
"You're excused," he says, dead-pan.
"I've fucked thousands of guys," I say. "I'm not kidding. Thousands. And this was before I went to Hollywood and became 'famous.' If anything I actually slowed down when I went out to L.A. and started living with Ron. He was a little... obsessive about my tricking. He'd act like he was okay with it, but it was really driving him crazy. I didn't like bringing tricks back to the house in the Canyon, so that cut down on the numbers. Then I started shooting 'The Olympian' and I was too exhausted to go out most nights. I mean, I still fucked around, but I couldn't do it as much. And when guys start recognizing you... that ruins it, Doc. Plus, the thought that some trick may be waiting to sell his story to the 'National Enquirer' isn't much of a turn-on!"
"Hasn't that already happened, Brian?"
"A couple of times," I admit. "Not to mention the sleazy fucker who took those pictures of me and Justin on my boat. That sucked -- and not in a positive, life-affirming way!"
"So you stopped tricking only because of the notoriety? That's the main reason?"
I rub my forehead. "No, that's not the main reason. After Justin and I reconnected last year my tricking pretty much came to a halt. There were some exceptions, but compared to even a year before, I was a fucking monk!"
Dr. Gorowitz leans forward a bit in his chair. "And you never thought there was anything odd about having so many faceless sex partners that you couldn't keep track of exactly how many? Or that you never desired to have any kind of relationship with any of them? Before Justin, that is."
"Fuck, I don't know. I didn't think about that. I'm a fag, Doc, not a fucking breeder or a dyke. I never thought it," I lie. "It just never occurred to me."
"You're here to tell the truth, Brian."
"I'm telling you the truth!" I sit back in my chair, turning away from him slightly. Away from the truth. Then I sigh. "Maybe I wondered. Sometimes."
"And did you ever wonder what Justin thought of what you were doing? About how he must have felt about seeing the man he loved pick up other men and have emotionless sex with them -- and then take him home afterwards, like dessert?"
Dessert. Justin as dessert. It's a hot image. I start to get hard. "I guess that was the price of being with me. For Justin to pretend that it didn't matter to him. And I believed that it didn't matter to him back then. Really!"
"Tell the truth, Brian." Gorowitz sounds like the fucking voice of God, ordering me to be good!
"Okay, I knew it bothered him. But we're queers, Doc! Queers fuck guys!" I swallow hard. "I didn't think I was hurting him. It was only later that I found out how wrong I was. I found out how much it really HAD hurt him. But... I'm a fucking selfish asshole, okay? How was I supposed to know what he was feeling?"
"By asking him, maybe?" Gorowitz's eyes search my face. "And what about how much was it hurting YOU, Brian?"
"Hurting me? Hurting me how?"
The Doc's eyes rivet me into place. "You tell me, Brian."
"Shit, I don't know!" But I want to get up and fucking run. Run right out the goddamn door.
"Then think about it, Brian. Think. How did it FEEL?"
And I think. But all I can remember feeling is... nothing. Numbness. Emptiness. A big fucking empty space that could never be filled, no matter how many bottles of booze, joints, bags of white powder, or tight asses you tried to throw into it. A bottomless pit. A Black Hole that sucked all the light out of the universe. That was the center of myself. That was me.
"I couldn't hurt. Because I couldn't feel anything," I say finally.
"Because if you allowed yourself to feel even a single emotion, then that might unleash the deluge?"
"Maybe," I reply. "I don't know." I sit there, staring down, rubbing at the shells on my bracelet. Rubbing at the enamel on the little red heart. Pulling at the gold chain. It digs into my neck. "Yes," I reply. "I was afraid of what would happen. Afraid I might just... implode. That's why I was afraid to feel anything. Fucking afraid."
Gorowitz sits back in his big, padded leather chair and smiles for the first time all this session. "Now we're getting somewhere, Brian."
Continue on to "Cardinal Lake".
©Gaedhal, August 2004.
Posted August 15, 2004.