This is Part 1 of "Beatitudes"
The other sections in "Beatitudes".
Features Justin Taylor, Brian Kinney, Jennifer Taylor, Molly Taylor.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Justin Taylor meets a young poet. Pittsburgh, August/September, 1957.
"Mom, if I ask you a question, you won't get all weird or anything?"
Jennifer Taylor smiled at her 18 year old son. Justin was her pride and joy. He had graduated from the exclusive St. James Academy at the top of his class and he was just about to enter the prestigious Pittsburgh Institute of Fine Art. Jennifer had just picked Justin up from his summer job as an art counselor at a camp about 75 miles from their home in Pittsburgh. They were about halfway home when this question took Jennifer by surprise.
"Justin, you know you can tell me anything and I won't get 'weird'!" Jennifer was gratified by her close relationship with her oldest child. Justin had taken her divorce from Justin's father, Craig Taylor, very hard. Luckily, Craig was good about paying the steep fees at St. James, as well as at 9 year old Molly's private school, Mount Bellevue. It was difficult enough trying to make a living on her own and support two children on her earnings as a secretary in a real estate office, but keeping the children in the house they grew up in, as well as up to the standard of living with which they were accustomed was a constant struggle. Then there was the social stigma against divorcees that still existed even in the enlightened year of 1957. Many people in the community looked down on Jennifer Taylor as if she were some sort of Scarlet Woman, even though it had been her husband, Craig, who was at fault for the break-up of their marriage. But no one seemed to blame him -- no, they never seemed to blame the man. It was a woman's job to keep a marriage together and at that Jennifer had failed.
So, the perfection of her two beautiful, intelligent, talented children was her greatest source of satisfaction. They proved that although Jennifer's marriage had faltered, as a mother she was a success. Now, if only she could get her license to sell real estate and be accepted at the office where she worked. The only woman there was the widow of the founder of the company who ran the organization like a dowager empress. Jennifer feared that a young and still attractive divorcee would never be accepted as the equal to the men in the office, even though Jennifer knew she was just as capable as any of the men -- if only she would be given the chance.
Justin turned to his mother and smiled shyly. His face and arms were lightly touched with sunburn and his hair was bleached almost white from the summer sun. Jennifer noticed that Justin's brushcut was starting to grow out. He'd need a trip to the barber before he began his freshman year in a few short weeks.
"I only wanted to know how... I mean... what does it feel like -- really FEEL like -- when you know that you're, like, in love?" asked Justin, blushing.
"In LOVE!" exclaimed Jennifer. "Well!"
"Please, Mom, don't laugh at me. I'm serious."
"I'm not laughing, honey," Jennifer backtracked. She knew how sensitive Justin was about discussing anything personal. "I'm only a little surprised, that's all."
Justin had many female friends, but he had never had a serious girlfriend. Even the girl he'd taken to the prom, Gwen Worthing, had been more of a pal than a romantic interest. But Justin was a quiet boy and his parents' divisive divorce had made him withdraw even more. Few people in their upper middle class neighborhood or in their social circle were divorced and his father's abandonment of the family had shaken Justin's confidence greatly, causing him to find his comfort in his art and shun many of the social activities his friends found so stimulating. Football games and sock hops seemed juvenile and unimportant to Justin. When offered the opportunity to teach art and be a counselor at Camp Liberty, Justin had jumped at the chance to get away from home and meet some different people from the ones with whom he'd grown up and gone to school. And now it seemed that a little bit of romance had bloomed over the summer. Jennifer took that as a hopeful development.
"Well, honey, I guess you just... know," Jennifer answered. "It's something you feel inside. Like you want to be with this person all of the time. Forever, even. At least that's what you feel."
"Is that the way you felt about Dad?"
Jennifer hesitated. "Yes, it was," she said finally. "Maybe it wasn't like that at the end, but at the beginning -- yes. He was my whole world."
Jennifer heard her son's sharp intake of breath. "That's it," he replied simply. "That how I feel. My whole world."
Jennifer smiled to herself. Justin was so young and in the grip of his first crush. That was so sweet. "I'm glad you're sharing this with me, honey. I'm sure she's wonderful. Did you tell her how you feel?"
Justin licked his lips nervously. "Not in words, exactly... but I think it was obvious."
"Are you going to write to her, Justin? Or does she live in Pittsburgh? Was she a counselor at the Girls' Camp?"
"Gee, Mom," said Justin, uncomfortably. "So many questions."
"I'm curious, that's all," Jennifer insisted. Justin had written home regularly while he was away at camp and she tried to recall any mention of a girl he spent time with, but none came to mind. Justin's letters had mainly been full of his art students and the projects they were working on, the food and the weather, and excursions into the nearby town with another counselor, a recent graduate of Penn State named Brian, who seemed to be his best buddy.
"What's this girl's name, Justin?" Jennifer prodded.
"It's not important, Mom," Justin evaded. "We'll probably never even see each other again." He crossed his arms in front of him and refused to say another word on the subject the rest of the way home.
When Justin unpacked his gear in his bedroom, he realized that he'd left his art portfolio in the studio back at Camp Liberty. All of his best drawings were in that portfolio! He ran downstairs to tell his mother.
"Honey, we can't go back up there now!" Jennifer stated. "Maybe this weekend. Or if you call the camp perhaps they can mail your portfolio here. You should get it in a week or two."
"But Mom! I NEED those drawings! They're my best stuff! Darn it!" Justin groaned, holding his head. "How could I have forgotten it?" The more Justin thought about it, the angrier he became at himself. He'd been so preoccupied during the final days of camp, so elated and so mournful and so besotted all at the same time, that it was difficult for him to concentrate on anything at all. No wonder he'd left his portfolio behind!
Justin lay awake half the night, thinking. He knew he should be trying to forget what had happened over the summer instead of replaying the details in his mind, but he couldn't stop himself. Was love supposed to be this horrible? But also this wonderful? He didn't want to lose those drawings that had been made in the passion of first love. Those drawings of... that special person. His lover. Naked. The thought of anyone else finding them, looking at them, made Justin go all hot inside with both shame and desire. When he finally fell asleep it was well past 3:00 a.m.
The next day Jennifer pulled the Plymouth into the driveway after work and noted another car parked on the curb in front of the Taylor home. It was an old jalopy, a 1940's model Ford seemingly held together with spit and string. A tall young man was leaning against the Ford, smoking a cigarette. Jennifer paused before she got out of her car. The young man was wearing blue dungarees, work boots, and a black leather jacket over a plain white tee shirt. His chestnut hair was short in the back, but piled high on top, D. A. style. He affected the James Dean slouch perfectly. A pair of dark shades completed the picture of casual cool.
Who was he and why was he here? Jennifer slowly emerged from the Plymouth. There were people on the street and children playing in the next yard, so this man would hardly be a criminal ready to attack her in broad daylight, but he looked so rough and out of place in this clean, well-ordered neighborhood.
But Jennifer's manners took over. "May I help you?"
The young man tossed his cigarette on the sidewalk and crushed it with his boot. "Justin Taylor live here?"
"Yes," said Jennifer. "He's my son. He's downtown with his sister and a neighbor, shopping for school clothes. They should be back any time."
The young man suddenly moved forward, extending his hand. Jennifer was startled, but she took it. He removed his dark glasses and she saw that his eyes were dark green with golden flecks. "I'm Brian Kinney. Justin left his portfolio up at camp, so I brought it down to him. No big deal, but I thought he'd want it."
Jennifer shook Brian's hand. A kind of electricity jolted through her as they touched. The young man's beautiful eyes appraised her deliberately and directly. Jennifer felt almost naked under his gaze. She pulled her hand away.
"Thank you, Mr. Kinney," said Jennifer in a fluster. "Justin was so upset when he realized that he had left his drawings behind."
"Call me Brian," he replied. "Yeah, I knew he'd blow a gasket. That's why I brought it over." Brian looked at the Taylor house, the neighboring homes and well-kept yards, the large cars parked in the driveways. "Nice place. Looks like Justin's kind of joint. Totally white bread."
"Do you live in Pittsburgh, Brian?" Jennifer asked, not certain if he was being insulting or sincere.
"Yeah, my old man and old lady live in a dump in town. But I've got my own pad. It's just a place to crash, but nobody bugs me there, you dig?"
"I think so," answered Jennifer, but she wasn't sure that she did. "I think my son mentioned another counselor named Brian who had just graduated from college."
"Yeah, that's me. I finished at Penn State last May. I was up at camp doing sports with the kids. Baseball, a little soccer, some judo and karate, stuff like that. It was an easy gig." Brian kicked at the sidewalk with his boot.
"Judo?" replied Jennifer in surprise. "Where did you learn something like that, Brian?"
"In the service. They taught us some martial arts in the Army. I learned enough to show the kids how to defend themselves." Brian's full mouth twitched. "I was in Korea."
"Oh, my," said Jennifer. "Were you there long? Did you see any action?"
Brian swallowed. "Long enough. And I saw some action. Too much action," he answered shortly. "But it paid for college."
Jennifer was trying to decide whether to invite this strange young man into her home. He seemed so different, so much more rough and worldly than Justin's clean-cut St. James friends. But Justin was about to enter college himself and leave that high school world behind. That was the main reason he had wanted to spend the summer at camp -- to meet a different sort of person, with a different point of view. Well, Brian Kinney certainly was different! But he wasn't exactly the kind of person Jennifer had envisioned for her son's best friend.
The neighbor's car pulled up and Justin and Molly got out, both carrying shopping bags. Molly ran up to her mother, laughing and babbling about her new clothes. But Justin stood on the sidewalk, gawking at his tall visitor in disbelief.
"Hiya, Sunshine," Brian said mockingly. "I brought your crummy old drawings to you. They were cluttering up the studio at camp, so Jake was gonna toss them in the lake." Brian smiled slowly. "But I saved 'em for you."
Justin dropped his shopping bag and ran over to the other young man. "Brian! I can't believe that you're here!" Without thinking, Justin threw his arms around Brian and hugged him tightly. And Brian hugged him back, wrapping his long fingers around the boy's neck and stroking it. Jennifer Taylor stood and stared at the two of them.
"Hey, watch it, brat! I don't need you to mess up my new jacket!" Brian set Justin back at arm's length, suddenly aware of where they were.
"It's so tough! I wish I had one!" Justin exclaimed.
"You're enough of a punk as it is! You don't need a leather jacket," Brian laughed, playfully punching Justin on the shoulder. "Hey, I'm thinking of selling the heap and getting a bike. Maybe a Harley or a Triumph. But it would be a bitch all winter."
"No! I like your car!" Justin turned to look fondly at the old Ford. Then he smiled a funny kind of smile at Brian, as if they shared some strange secret.
And Jennifer Taylor had an odd feeling in her stomach as she watched the pair. She didn't quite understand what it was she was feeling. Or what she was seeing. But it was something between the two of them only and no one else in the world. Jennifer led Molly into the house, leaving Justin to talk to his friend as they stood close together next to Brian's old car.
"Man! Didn't I tell you that you'd never lived until you'd fucked high on weed?" said Brian, collapsing on top of his partner in satisfaction. He buried his face in the blond hair that was only beginning to grow out. The odor of marijuana and sex hung heavily in the empty loft, which contained an old mattress covered with a sheet, a broken-down easy chair, a phonograph and some Jazz sides, piles and piles of battered books on bookcases made out of bricks and two-by-fours, and not much else.
"That was great!" Justin sighed beatifically. "I won't be able to walk straight for a week!"
"I'll make certain you never walk straight again!" Brian grinned, pressing his still hard cock back up against the boy's round ass. Brian probed it with his long fingers, feeling his own come dribbling out. "I think I'll fuck you again while you're nice and wet."
"You're killing me!" Justin moaned. "I need more weed or I'm going to faint!"
Brian lit another reefer and took a strong pull before sticking it between his lover's pouting pink lips. "This is the real Mexican shit. I got it from those musicians at the Zanzibar Club. Those black cats always have the best dope."
"How much did you pay for it, Brian?" Justin asked sleepily as he sucked on the joint. The weed was making him drowsy and buzzy, even as Brian worked his long, hard dick ever so slowly back up the boy's ample ass.
"Nothing. I blew two of the guys and they gave me the weed."
"Brian! How could you do that?" Brian's casual attitude towards sex was inexplicable to the romantic and idealistic Justin.
"Don't be such a fucking baby! It was like rolling off a log. And one of those cats had a piece that was as big as a log, let me tell you!"
"You're unbelievable, Brian!" Justin giggled. He was very high and very happy.
"I know. Let me show you just HOW unbelievable. So shut up while I fuck you again!"
Justin marveled at Brian's energy and stamina. For someone who never seemed to want to get out of bed or look for a regular job, Brian could have sex any time, anywhere, for any length of time. He was always hard and ready to go at a moment's notice. It was amazing to Justin, who had been a complete and utter virgin not that many weeks before, but he strove eagerly to keep up with his tall lover. However, this afternoon, as Brian hammered into his ass for the third time in as many hours, Justin simply held on and gave himself up to being fucked, possessed, used, and basically pounded into the mattress.
Justin had skipped out early from his Art History lecture at PIFA and headed for Brian's pad in an old warehouse in a rundown section of the city near Liberty Avenue. Brian's place wasn't fancy, but it was where they could be alone together. Where they could do in peace all the things they had been able to do only furtively at camp. Touching each other as they swam in the lake. Exchanging glances at meals. Meeting after dark for a few kisses and a quick suck. At camp it had been too risky to do much more than fumble with each other.
Justin sighed deeply, finding it hard to believe that he was here, in bed, with this man. He thought about how often he had fantasized about beautiful men, touching them, holding them, kissing them, as he lay in his own bedroom in the dark. He often dreamed of boys in his class, or men he'd seen on the street, or movie stars. Justin would sit through his favorite films again and again, gazing at their faces on the screen, at their bodies. William Holden, with his hard, bare chest. Montgomery Clift, with his sensitive eyes. And James Dean, with his lazy smile, his insolent slouch, and his soft, drawling voice.
When he arrived at Camp Liberty that first day, Justin was startled to see the embodiment of his longings leaning against the fence of the corral, wearing a pair of tight, faded dungarees, a white tee shirt, and cowboy boots. Justin could hardly speak as all the counselors introduced themselves, one by one. Brian Kinney -- sports. That was his name. Brian Kinney. When it was Justin's turn, the best he could do was mumble that he was Justin Taylor, there to teach the campers art. He had never felt more like a little sissy boy in his life.
Often Justin found himself walking by the soccer pitch, watching Brian, in a pair of loose shorts and shoes, his bare chest shining with sweat, chasing his campers around the field, urging them to kick the ball. Once that first week Brian even sat down next to him at lunch. His tray was piled high with food, which he devoured with wolfish glee. "So, Taylor," he said finally. "How's the art going?"
"Okay," Justin answered.
"Good. See ya." And that was that.
Until one night, after campfire, when they were all walking back to their cabins, Justin felt himself being pulled off the path and into the shadows. It was Brian, his hand on Justin's arm. He leaned the boy against a tree and whispered, "White Gold Angel, I've been watching you."
"You... you have?" said Justin, his heart pounding.
"You want me. I know you do," purred the voice in the darkness.
Justin gasped. He shrunk away in fear, but his body was screaming with desire.
And then Brian kissed him, right on the lips, softly, but firmly. "It's all right, because I want you, too." Then he was gone into the shadows.
Justin's life could not have changed more in that moment if an atomic bomb had gone off inside of him. Because that's how it felt. And that was only the beginning.
Finally, Brian had managed to spirit Justin away to a small motel near the town where he took Justin's virginity, with Justin's enthusiastic participation. But they couldn't chance too many escapes like that. When summer ended Justin had been afraid that their affair would also end. That is until Justin saw Brian standing in front of his house, looking like a god in his black leather jacket. Within a few hours Justin was at Brian's loft and in his bed. Justin had been there almost every day since then, cramming in as much kissing, sucking, and fucking as he felt he'd been missing for the past 18 years of his young life. And Brian was an avid and talented teacher.
After Brian came once more, they both dozed for a while. A fly buzzed around the cavernous room, which held in all the humidity of that hot September afternoon. Justin was sticky, sore, and sweaty -- and he'd never been more content in his entire life.
"Why don't you move in here with me?" Brian mumbled into Justin's neck. "It's a drag for you to be coming and going all the time."
"Really?" said Justin, sitting up slightly. "Move in? Do you mean it?"
"I said it, didn't I?" shrugged Brian, lighting a cigarette. He gestured to the mostly empty expanse of the loft. "There's plenty of room. You can paint in that corner. There's lots of light over there."
"But... what would my mother say if I told her I was moving out?"
"You're a big boy, Justin. Who cares what Mommy says? I say you should do it," Brian told him, rolling over on his back. "But it's your choice, Sunshine. I'm not twisting your goddamn arm!"
"I want to stay here. You know I do, Brian."
"Well, then, what's the beef?" Brian took a puff and blew a smoke ring into the air above their heads. "That way we could sleep together all night. I could hold you close to me. And I wouldn't have to be here alone... in the dark."
Justin knew that Brian was afraid of the dark. Something had happened to him in the service in Korea that he refused to talk too much about. Brian shuddered whenever he alluded to it. Justin reached over and brushed his fingers lightly over a nasty scar on Brian's left arm. He had another one, even redder and angrier, on his lower chest. Justin knew that this wound had punctured his lung. Sometimes Brian still coughed heavily after he smoked too much, a rasping remnant of the pneumonia he'd had in a convalescent hospital in Japan. That much Justin knew. But there were still a lot of things that Brian would not talk about, even to Justin.
"Yes, I will move in with you, Brian!" said Justin. "I just have to figure out the best way to tell my mom I'm leaving."
"Get your stuff together and I'll pick you up tomorrow. Simple as that, right?" Brian raised his eyebrow quizzically.
Justin hesitated. "Maybe...."
Suddenly Brian sat straight up. He searched for his watch in their jumble of clothes on the floor. "Shit! It's after 5:00 and I have to be at the Penn Hotel by 6:00." He stood up and pulled on his white Jockey shorts, then his tight denims.
"Brian, do you have to go there?" Justin asked quietly.
"I do if I want to pay for this pad. Especially if you're going to be living here, too."
Justin wrinkled his nose. "I'll quit school and go to work at that diner full time. The lady said that they needed busboys for all their shifts. I can sell some of my paintings, too!"
"No fucking way are you quitting school! Let your old man keep paying for tuition and you STAY there. It's a free ride, Justin, so play it for all you can." Brian slipped a clean tee shirt over his head and then buckled his belt. "The judge said the old man has to pay for your college -- and I'll handle the rest."
"But Brian, I WANT to pay my own way!"
"Then take the busboy job. That nutty redheaded woman said it was yours if you wanted it. Take the morning shift and you'll be through in time for your first class at the Institute." Brian grinned. "I'll make sure you get up in time!"
"Ha!" Justin snorted. "You never get up before noon if you can help it!"
"That's because I work nights," Brian answered. He took out his comb and quickly ran it through his shaggy hair. Then he slipped on his leather jacket.
"I wish you didn't do it," Justin pouted. Justin's problem with Brian's hustling wasn't so much about jealousy as about fear. It frightened Justin to think that Brian might get into a dangerous situation. Brian never knew who he might be meeting and what they might want to do and that scared Justin. But when Justin had expressed his apprehension, Brian had laughed at him, telling Justin that he had survived a lot worse than being stiffed for $50 by some overweight businessman in a cheap hotel.
Brian squatted down next to the mattress and took Justin's chin in his hand. "Listen Sunshine, I've been hustling my ass since I was 14 years old. It's easy money if you're good at it -- and I'm very good, as you well know! You want me to be part of some bourgeois establishment? I live the way I want to live. I'm free and I don't give a shit about money or power or symbols of meaningless status. Besides, if I had a damn 9 to 5 gig then when would I write my poetry? When would I have time to walk around, talking to people and observing life? And when would I find the time to corrupt angelic young boys?"
"Shut up!" Justin laughed. "You're really crazy, you know."
"I know. Certifiable. Just ask the United States Government." Brian stood up and stretched. "Get your clothes on. I'll drop you at home before my gig. You pack your stuff and TELL your old lady -- don't ASK her -- that you're splitting. 'Cause tomorrow I'm coming to get you!"
Justin jumped up and threw his arms around Brian, kissing him. "Okay! I will!"
"You better, or else I'll have to ask some other little blond-haired punk to move in here with me." Brian crossed his arms. "Now move your ass. I don't want to be late for my appointment at the posh Penn Hotel where I'll be doing my bit to undermine the heterosexist establishment by fucking some straight guy's lights out! And collecting 50 bucks while I'm at it!"
Continue on to "Beatitudes -- Part 2".
©Gaedhal, December 2003.
Posted December 15, 2003.