This is Part 2 of Chapter 42 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue -- Part 1", the previous section.
I wake up like I'm coming out of a horrible hangover. My head, my body, everything feels feverish and achy. There are extra blankets piled on top of me. I remember the shower. The cold water drenching my skin.
It's just getting light out.
And I'm alone in the bed.
I sit up and look around in panic.
The big suitcase is not on the floor.
I fly out of the bedroom, almost tripping on the step up to the platform and falling on my face.
I run to the windows that face Tremont and look down. The BMW rental is there. So is the Jeep. So, he's still here. Unless he took a cab to the airport.
Then the loft door slides open and he walks in.
"What are you doing up?"
"I thought you left without saying goodbye!"
"Now why would do that?" He's dressed in a dark green Armani suit. He goes over to the sofa and I see his cashmere coat there. His carry-on bag. In my panic I hadn't noticed them.
"I was just taking my big bags down to the car. Now get back in bed. I think you are coming down with something."
Yes! Your abandonment! I want to scream! Instead I say, "I feel okay."
"I think you're over-tired from these last two weeks. I know I am. And I was supposed to be 'resting' while I was here!"
"You weren't really thinking of leaving before I woke up?"
"I thought about it. But that wouldn't make it any easier. I know that, now." He tries to guide me back up to bed, his arm around my shoulders. "You're going to catch cold. This place really is drafty. Funny how I never noticed it before."
"Let me take you to the airport. Please." He's trying to get me to climb in under the blankets, but I won't do it.
"Justin, you'll only get upset. And then I'll get upset...."
"Don't say 'no.' Please. This might be the last thing I can ever ask...."
He gazes at me a long time. "You truly think that?"
"What else am I supposed to think? Everything you've said and done while you were here just screams -- goodbye -- goodbye -- goodbye!" I look down. "You even took your papers. And your pictures of Michael and Gus. Like you plan never to come back."
"I just wanted to take them to look at. I was sorry I didn't have them out there before. All I had were two or three photos in my wallet. I finally had to stop looking at them -- they would have worn away."
I'm not certain how to respond to this.
"I promise that I'll call you the minute I get back to L.A."
"Like you used to call me before?"
He scowls, but then he sighs. "That was stupid. I know that. More than stupid. It was unfair. To you. I should have been honest with you from the beginning. But I'm a stupid, cowardly fuck. Look at how I've even screwed up this...."
"This goodbye? Go ahead and say it, if it's true. But, like I said -- everything about this visit is just a big kiss-off." I turn away from him. I'd rather he just walked out and I didn't have to see it.
He's stroking his wrist again. Rubbing the bracelet like he's getting messages from it. I've often wondered if he was channeling some alien life-form through that thing -- the alien that makes him do the things he does, be the way he is.
"You better move your ass," he says, suddenly. "If you are going to the airport with me."
I gawk at him, but then I don't wait another second. I shower -- this time with the water warm and comforting -- and get dressed in record time. He's cleaning up the kitchen while he waits, but I'm ready before he's even finished.
"That was quick." He tosses his coat over his arm and I take the carry-on. But before we walk out the door, I retrieve a little package from the shelf behind the computer.
"You'll find out."
He opens up the BMW. "You can either ride with me and take a taxi back. Or follow me in the Jeep and drive yourself back."
"I'll go with you." Obviously.
The trip out to the airport is quiet. I don't know what to say and Brian doesn't either. He starts to turn on the radio, but then thinks better of it and takes his hand away. Something about the silence shouldn't be disturbed.
We drop off the car at the rental place and check in at the Liberty Air counter. It's very early, but the airport is already busy. People standing in line to check in. To buy tickets. People waiting to say goodbye. People leaving to go places far away. I never noticed how sad airports were before.
"How long did you say that wait at JFK would be?"
The woman behind the check-in counter taps at her computer. "Five hours."
"Fuc... darn it." She looks at him, disapprovingly.
"Is that the best I can do to get to the Coast?"
"I'm afraid so, sir. There have been delays all over that are affecting the schedule."
"What time does my flight leave here?"
"Boarding in forty-five minutes. And that flight is on time. Liberty Air 135 to JFK. Gate 22."
Brian begins to put his ticket into his inside jacket pocket. Then he stops. "Excuse me. Can my friend come down to the gate with me to say... goodbye?" He has trouble even saying it and I start to feel panicky again.
The woman looks me up and down and then she looks at Brian, frowning. "Only ticketed passengers may proceed to the gate." Take that, fags, she seems to say.
Brian's eyes narrow in that feral cat way he has. "Give me another ticket to JFK."
"For when, sir?"
"For when do you fucking think? For today. For right now. Same flight. Return trip. There is room, isn't there?"
"Yes, sir, that flight is not fully booked." She's gaping at Brian like he's crazy. But the ticket agent at the next post, a dark-haired woman, catches my eye and winks.
Brian takes out his Platinum card and hands it over without smiling. The woman writes out the ticket and pushes it at me.
"Any luggage, sir?" She glares. The couple behind us in line giggles and I hear the girl whisper, "What a bitch," to the guy.
I hold up Brian's carry-on and we turn and walk away from the counter. Brian is steaming. "Fucking cunt."
"You didn't have to buy a ticket just to get me down to the gate," I say, although I'm ecstatic that he did.
"Gate nothing. Fuck that. If you think I'm sitting for five hours by myself in fucking JFK then you are crazy. You're coming to New York."
The flight is about half-full. This is mainly a business route and it isn't very busy on a Saturday morning. The plane is a cool little jet painted in the Liberty Air colors -- red, white, and blue, of course. The seats have little video screens on the back of each seat in front of you. I click around, bringing up information about the airline, weather, and traffic at the airport. It also gets cable TV from the satellite.
"Don't people watch enough television at home? Now they have to be forced to watch it on an airplane, too?"
"It's so you won't get bored on the flight. Not everyone has a fascinating seat-mate."
Brian is wiggling around, trying to get comfortable. The rows aren't too crammed together -- this is supposed to be a flight that caters to businessmen, after all -- but Brian's legs are so fucking long that he looks like he's folded up.
"Thank God I have a first class ticket on Trans-Con. If I had to fly all the way to California like this I'd be a fucking pretzel before we went over the Rockies!"
We've already checked out the flight attendants. Three women and a guy. The guy is a VOQ -- Very Obvious Queen, to use one of Emmett's shorthand terms. And he spotted us the minute we boarded. He's kind of cute, but his hovering is annoying the hell out of Brian. It's a good thing it's a fairly short trip because Brian is ready to open a window and toss the poor guy out!
I know Brian has to put up with this kind of thing all the time. Emmett and I sat one night at Woody's while he was playing pool and we counted the number of guys that either hit on him directly or majorly cruised him. I counted nineteen in the space of less than two hours -- and it was a fairly slow night. Emmett counted more because he claimed he was counting 'eye-contact,' but I was using more strict criteria.
I think about how much worse it will be after his movie comes out. I try to imagine it. Instead of all the men in Pittsburgh or in Los Angeles trying to get into Brian's pants, it will be all the men in the world! That is really disheartening! Where would I possibly fit in then?
"Maybe soon I'll get on a plane and they'll be showing your movie on it."
Brian laughs. "Only if it's an adults-only flight."
"Is it really that... dirty?"
"Well, it isn't porn, if that's what you're thinking. But there's some... um... graphic stuff in there. Unless the studio forces them to cut the shit out of it."
"Do you think my mom would... be uncomfortable seeing it?"
"Seeing that she's already seen quite a bit of me... I'd still say, yes."
"Yup. The world soon will be intimately acquainted with my ass."
The VOQ flight attendant has heard this and is definitely interested. He was cruising Brian big time before. Now he is falling all over him.
I crack up at the way the guy says it.
"I think we have all we need, thank you." Brian says it as coldly as he can, but it does no good.
"More tea? More coffee? Another sweet roll?"
"Nothing. Thanks," Brian says, tightly.
"And for...," he looks at me. "The boy? A soda, perhaps?"
Brian is trying to keep his cool. But I can't stop snickering. He reaches down and pinches my ass. "You are just encouraging this fuckwad."
"Pinching me there isn't going to shut me up." I lean over and whisper, "Ask your friend to guard the door and you can initiate me into the Mile High Club. I'm sure you're a Charter Member."
He snorts. "What an idea. Unfortunately, we don't have enough time until we land. Plus, it isn't really all it's cracked up to be." He pauses. "The Cockpit Club -- now that's something much more worthwhile."
The attendant sees us laughing and gives me a dirty look. What the fuck. I stick my tongue out at him.
"Now you are just being a twat."
"He deserves it."
The pilot announces that we are approaching New York. Brian starts to get antsy and he paws through his carry-on bag. His script is right on top. He takes it out and starts leafing through it.
"Brian, you are finished with that now. You are finished with the picture."
"Not quite. There are always retakes. Looping. Interviews. More shit."
"Really? Interviews with magazines and things? Television?"
"Maybe. Jimmy will do most of that. No one is interested in talking to me."
I want to tell him that he's wrong. That they WILL want to talk to him. To take pictures of him. To know more about him. That gives me a queasy feeling in my stomach.
"You must have that script memorized by now. Let it alone." I close it and put my hand on top of it.
"I guess it's just a bit of a compulsion." He looks at me, then puts the script back into his bag. "Maybe if they let you smoke on these damned planes, I wouldn't need to take it out and fuck with it."
"You hardly smoked at all the whole time you were home."
Home. I feel something tighten inside. Pittsburgh isn't his home anymore. Or is it?
"I know." He doesn't correct me. "But I fucking wanted to."
Right then the attendants come around to tell us that we're coming in to land. I see Brian's face tighten, but he gives me a little smile. He's afraid, but he doesn't want me to be, too. It's funny, but I've always been kind of scared to fly, but I didn't hesitate for even a second when he said that I was getting on the plane, too. If he had said that we were going to fly over the North Pole or to the Moon, I'm sure I wouldn't have thought twice before following him right there. Maybe that's a bad thing, but it's the reality.
After we land and disembark, we collect Brian's bags and take a cab to the Trans-Con terminal at JFK.
"Why didn't you just check your bags through? Then we wouldn't have to carry them."
"Lazy little bastard.." He gives the back of my head a snap with his fingers. "When I flew at the beginning of the year they lost one of my suitcases. It took three fucking weeks to get it back. So, I make certain that my bags get on the same plane I do."
"Where did you fly to?" I ask as we sit in the cab. I haven't heard him mention anything like this. He hasn't mentioned traveling or what he does in California -- and nothing at all about making the film. Emmett got him to dish some of the movie stars, but even those stories sounded kind of pat and general. I want to know what is Jimmy Hardy really like? And going to all those premieres and the Academy Awards? And who is that girl he was 'dating' -- what was THAT all about? I realize that I haven't really asked any questions of him at all. I was just so happy to have him HERE that nothing else mattered. Now, as he's leaving, I have a million questions.
"Coming back from Hawaii. Right after New Year."
"Hawaii? Wow." It must have been a vacation. I feel a surge of jealousy. "Was it great?"
"It was spectacular. This agency owns a house on Maui. Place called Wailea. Full staff of servants. Everything provided -- food, booze, you name it. Incredible views. Beaches. Fabulous shopping." Leave it to Brian to go to Paradise and grade it by the quality of the stores. "They 'lend' the place out to their clients and other people they want to impress."
"And they wanted to impress you?"
"Hardly. They didn't know I fucking existed. They wanted to impress Jimmy Hardy and his family. I, as usual, was just a bystander."
"Like at the Oscars."
"You were a bystander. While Jimmy Hardy was getting interviewed. You were standing in the background. I saw you on 'E!'"
He looks at me. "Did you really see me?"
"Sure. We all did. Emmett taped it. They showed you a bunch of times."
"Well, fuck me. I had no idea." He seems pleased by the idea.
"Did you go to Hawaii with... Ron?"
Now he's frowning. "Yes," he says, shortly.
Now here are the million questions I am really dying to ask. But I can see him closing down. I kept Ron's CDs -- they are down in my studio -- and I've been listening to them. Sometimes I really do think he's communicating something through them -- something Brian obviously doesn't want to hear. But what does that mean for me -- if anything?
And then he does something completely unexpected. As the cab inches its way around the buses and cars and mini-vans, trying to reach the Trans-Con terminal, Brian takes my hand and holds it. Tightly. As if he won't ever let it go. And we ride like that all the way around the airport.
Continue on to "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue -- Part 3", the final section of Chapter 42.
©Gaedhal, June 2002
Picture of Randy Harrison and Gale Harold from Showtime.
Here is the link to the lyrics to "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" from Bob Dylan's album Bringing It All Back Home.
Send Gaedhal any comments, critiques, suggestions.
Updated July 5, 2002