This is Part 3 of "Beatitudes"
The other sections in "Beatitudes".
Features Justin Taylor, Brian Kinney, Jennifer Taylor, Melanie Marcus, Sergeant Jim Stockwell, Captain Dolan, Debbie, Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Justin and Jennifer go downtown to the police station. Pittsburgh, December, 1957.
The next morning the attorney recommended by Lindsay, Melanie Marcus, met with Justin and his mother in the diner on Liberty Avenue where Justin worked. Her law office was not too far away. She was a wiry, no-nonsense woman with short-cropped hair and a belligerent demeanor. And she was very eager to take Brian's case.
Debbie, the redhaired woman who waited on the trio, kept patting Justin's hand. She was the one who had hired him and she was sympathetic to what had happened to Brian the night before. Apparently, the story had already made the rounds of the artists, queers, and street people who frequented the area around seedy Liberty Avenue. The bust of Brian Kinney for his obscene poetry was the hottest gossip in this part of town.
Justin's blue eyes were bleary and bloodshot as he glanced back and forth between his mother and the attorney. He'd spent the entire night crying and puking in the loft bathroom. Jennifer had been afraid to leave him alone, so, with Molly at a friend's house for the night, she slept -- sort of -- on the horrible mattress on the floor, while Justin stayed in the bathroom, moaning. Consequently, both of the Taylors were not exactly at their best this morning. Debbie, the waitress, brought a lot of strong, black coffee to the table to keep them all going.
Melanie Marcus removed a thick file from her briefcase and got right to the point. "Before I came over here I spoke with Mitch Keyes, the man who represented Kinney the last time he was arrested, and Mitch definitely thinks this was a set-up."
"A set-up? What do you mean?" asked Jennifer.
"I mean that this Stockwell, the cop who pulled the bust, has it in for Kinney. He's been the arresting officer on a number of his busts going back years, all on various charges. So it begins to look like harassment when you start reviewing the rap sheet. Why is Stockwell right there whenever Kinney slips up?" Melanie Marcus sipped her coffee. "Apparently some of the judges thought so, too, because they keep dropping the charges or else giving Kinney time served and releasing him. It's always lack of evidence or some mistake in procedure. That must have good old Sergeant Stockwell in a frenzy every time he busts this guy -- and then they let him go!"
"But why would this Stockwell be targeting Brian?" Justin asked.
Melanie laughed. "Why do you think, kid?"
"Because he's a fag?" Justin seemed all beaten down.
"Probably," Melanie nodded. "And because Kinney flaunts that fact. He doesn't apologize and he says 'screw you' to the world with his attitude and his lifestyle -- and now with his poetry. Lindsay tells me that poem he read at the gallery was, er, a little over the top."
Justin bristled. "Brian's poem is beautiful! It's literature!"
Melanie snorted. "Maybe it's literature to you, kid, but to the police poems about blond-haired 'angels' taking it up the ass with 9-inch dicks isn't poetry -- it's an Obscenity charge! And that's what we have here and that's what your friend Brian will have to deal with."
"Excuse me, Miss Marcus," interrupted Jennifer. "But all of those charges against Brian -- what kinds of charges? How many times has he been arrested? Are they ALL for his poetry? You said 'various charges'? What do you mean by that?"
"Skip it, Mom," breathed Justin. "This charge is the only thing that's important! Those other arrests are all in the past."
"What do you know about them, Justin? This lady says that one is a drug arrest! That seems very serious business to me," Jennifer asserted. "I want to know who this Brian Kinney really is... especially since you are... involved with him, Justin."
"Then that's MY business, Mother, not yours!" Justin's face turned red.
Jennifer's lips set in a firm line. "Miss Marcus, will YOU tell me what kind of things Brian has been arrested for?"
Melanie Marcus hesitated. Justin's eyes were pleading with her to keep quiet, but it was all a matter of record. If Brian went to trial all sorts of things were bound to come out. "The most recent arrest was for Drug Possession. He was observed smoking marijuana on the street in front of a Jazz club. A number of people were arrested at the same time, but all charges were dropped on some technicality. He has a number of busts for marijuana possession, Mrs. Taylor, but always very small amounts and the charges never stuck. He also has a few arrests for Disorderly Conduct and Drunk and Disorderly. A night in the drunk tank and then he paid his fine. Once he spend a week in County Jail because he didn't have money for the fine. According to Mitch Keyes that was right after he got out of the V.A. hospital the last time."
"The last time? But wasn't Brian wounded in Korea? Isn't that what you told me, Justin?" Jennifer frowned. "That must have been four or five years ago."
"Yes, Mrs. Taylor, but he's been in and out of the local V.A. a couple of times since then." Melanie paused. "He was in the Psych Ward. But that was a while back. His health record seems clean recently, but it may be something that prosecutors will bring up if this thing goes to trial."
"Psych Ward? You mean like a mental ward? I don't know what to say, Miss Marcus," Jennifer said, shaking her head. "This is very disconcerting to me."
Melanie leaned over to Jennifer. "According to my friend, Lindsay Peterson, who has known Brian for a number of years, he attended his classes at Penn State regularly and graduated with Honors, so his problems seem to be behind him. In fact, from what I can find out, Kinney never showed any signs of mental instability and was never in any trouble while he was at Penn. He was always busted here in Pittsburgh, which is another reason I think that the cops in this city have it in for him. Now I don't know Brian Kinney that well, Mrs. Taylor, but I suggest that before you condemn him that you wait until you know all the facts. He's a very talented writer, it seems, and sometimes talented people are a little more... difficult than regular people, you know what I mean?"
Jennifer looked over at Justin, who was staring down at his untouched coffee. "Did you know about this, Justin? That Brian was in a... a mental institution?"
"Yes," said Justin, shortly. "But it's all bullshit! There's nothing wrong with Brian's head! He's saner than any of us! It's because he's a fag! The Government thinks that's sick! And he's a poet! He sees things differently from other people, that's all. So they say he's crazy." Justin glared at Melanie. "Why don't you tell her the rest of it? You must be dying to spill ALL the nasty details of Brian's record!"
But Melanie closed her folder and put it back into her briefcase. "I don't think that's necessary, Justin. I've put in a call to a bondsman I know in case we can't cover the bail. So, I think we should get over to the jail and see what we can do about springing our boy. All right?"
The whole way over to the police station Justin was eaten up with anxiety. He knew that something horrible was happening to Brian there, but he was afraid to imagine what it was. He'd been unable to rest all night because he FELT that something was wrong. He'd seen the look of hatred on that cop's face. Whether he hated Brian because he was a poet or because he was a queer didn't really matter. It was the hate that mattered. Hate that Justin had failed to protect his lover from.
Justin knew that Brian had been arrested for stuff before, but now he was facing this Obscenity charge and that was on a different level altogether. Because this was about art and a poet's right to tell the truth about the way the world was. Brian could very well go to jail for reciting a poem that Brian wrote about him. About the two of them! About being a queer. Being an outlaw in this crummy, repressive society.
But Brian's other arrests would definitely come out now. His mother would know the truth. About the hustling. Everyone would know, if they didn't know already. It seemed pretty much common knowledge on Liberty Avenue and among the other artists and poets, who all took it with a grain of salt. That was just Brian, so what? That was their attitude. But Justin knew that his mother wouldn't be so nonchalant about her son having a lover who regularly had sex with strangers for money. And Justin was living off that money, since Brian paid the rent and utilities, as well as for most of their food. And Justin's paint and canvases -- Brian paid for those, too. He told Justin to save his own money for a rainy day. Maybe this was that day. Justin wondered if his savings would be enough to cover Brian's bail. Probably not. And who was going to pay for this dyke lawyer? What the hell were they going to do? Justin put his head down in his hands and tried not to weep.
At the police station Justin and Jennifer sat down on a wooden bench while Melanie demanded to see her client. Melanie was a short woman, but she had a very loud mouth and she used it. The sergeant on duty at the front desk ushered her into an office. And Justin and Jennifer waited. And waited. And waited.
"What is taking so long?" said Justin, standing up. He began to pace back and forth, unable to sit still. He went to the desk. "Is Miss Marcus coming back? Do you know what's going on?"
The sergeant behind the desk just growled. "Take a seat, sonny. And be quiet."
Finally, Melanie emerged from the back. Her face was frozen in anger. A police captain was following her, and behind him came Sergeant Stockwell. Neither of them looked too pleased.
"I'll have your badge! I am NOT kidding!" Melanie yelled at the captain. "I'll take this to the Police Commissioner! I'll take it to the Mayor! I have a friend who's a columnist for 'The Pittsburgh Clarion'! I'll get him to write an editorial! I'll stir up such a goddamn hornet's nest that you won't know which one stung you, you'll be so covered with bites!"
"Now, counselor, please be reasonable! You know how it is with this sort of thing," the captain responded. "Who can say who's responsible? The other prisoners, maybe? Where's the real proof that it was any of my officers?"
Melanie looked like she wanted to slug the man. "My client IS the proof! His rap sheet IS the proof!" she thundered. Then she pointed at Sergeant Stockwell. "HE is your proof! Standing right there!"
"Then YOU prove it, ma'am!" Stockwell shouted back. "It's just that fag's word against mine! I'm an exemplary cop -- and what's he? A cheap whore and a queer! Take THAT to court, lady!" And Stockwell turned and stalked back towards the offices.
But Melanie's mouth was rigid. "Do you realize that my client is a veteran, Captain Dolan? A decorated veteran? That he won a Bronze Star in Korea and spent months convalescing from his wounds? Would you like me to read out his Commendation in open court -- along with a description of what happened to him here in YOUR jail? Because that wouldn't be pretty, would it, Captain?"
The policeman gulped. "No, Miss Marcus, it wouldn't be. What more can I say? All charges against him have been dropped and the officers in question are on suspension while we investigate the matter. What more can I do for you?"
Melanie pulled herself up onto her toes and stared at the cop, eye to eye. "How about a little justice for my client? How about an end to harassing him? He never should have been arrested in the first place and you know it! So, how about leaving him the fuck alone from now on? And you tell Stockwell that I'll wear his balls around my neck on a chain if he ever even so much as LOOKS at my client again!" Melanie glanced around at Justin, who was standing, listening to this confrontation with horror. "And see that kid? That's Kinney's boyfriend. He's INVISIBLE as far as Stockwell is concerned. If I hear that Stockwell even drove down the STREET where that kid works, I'll have ALL your asses! Hear me, Dolan?"
"Yes, Miss Marcus," said the captain, grimly. "I hear you." He stepped away from her like she was poison. "It may be a little while until Kinney is ready to be released. They're checking him out now."
"Just do it," Melanie snapped. "I'll be waiting!" Melanie turned around and faced Justin, who standing there with Jennifer right behind him.
"What happened to Brian?" said Justin, trying to steady himself. "Tell me."
"I'd like you two to go home. I still have some business here and it may take a while," Melanie said, avoiding Justin's question. "When Brian is ready to come home, I'll call you."
"No, Miss Marcus," insisted Justin. "I want to see him! This minute! I want to know what happened in there! I'm not going anywhere until I can leave with Brian."
Jennifer touched her son's shoulder. "Justin, perhaps Miss Marcus is...."
"NO!" Justin shouted. The desk sergeant and some other people waiting in the station looked over at the angry boy. "I KNEW something had happened to Brian! I could FEEL it all night! I'm not a child, Miss Marcus, so I want to know the truth. Or else I'm going back there and talk to that policeman myself. And that guy who arrested Brian -- that Sergeant Stockwell. I'll get the story from him!"
Justin made a move past Melanie, but she grabbed his arm and pulled him back to the bench, sitting him down hard. "Listen, kid, don't try to outmaneuver me. I'm on YOUR side, remember? Do you believe that?"
"Yes," Justin answered weakly.
"All right. Here's the deal." Melanie sat down next to the boy. "When Stockwell brought Brian in last night and booked him his superior officer pointed out to him that he'd probably blown the bust -- again. He'd been so busy playing cowboy and wrestling Brian to the ground that he forgot to confiscate the actual poem Brian was reading. He also didn't get any statements from witnesses, although I doubt that he would have gotten anything damning from anyone at the gallery, since they were all very supportive of Brian's poem. At least that's what Lindsay told me."
"That's true," added Jennifer. "People seemed a bit surprised by his poem, but not outraged." Except for me, Jennifer thought to herself.
"There's also the fact that Sergeant Stockwell claims Brian didn't simply read the obscene material, but that he performed it in a lewd and suggestive way."
"That's a total lie!" Justin erupted. "Brian didn't do anything like that! He was just standing there, reading!"
"I know. The other cops contradicted Stockwell's statement on that point. Anyway, Stockwell must have realized that Brian was going to beat this bust, too, just like he had the others. So...." Melanie stopped and shook her head. "I can't say it was Stockwell for certain or anyone else at this point because Brian won't say, but someone gave Brian the business in the holding cell last night."
"The... business? You mean that they beat him up?" whispered Justin.
"Yes, kid, they beat the shit out of him," Melanie replied, not mincing words. "Captain Dolan was waiting to tell me that when we got here. There's a police doctor checking him out right now, but I also called my own doctor and I want him to look Brian over, too. I wanted him taken to the hospital, but Brian refused."
"He hates hospitals," Justin murmured. "You can imagine why. He hates doctors, too."
"I know, kid, but those cops did a number on him and I want it documented!" Melanie sighed. "We may be able to file suit against the police, although that's always risky."
"Did you talk to Brian? Did you see him?" asked Justin.
"Yes, and he's not very cooperative. And he's hurting, obviously." Melanie stood up. "He mainly wants to go home and forget this whole thing happened, but that's going to be difficult. This isn't going to go away so easily."
"Can I see him? Now?" Justin stood, too.
"Sorry, kid. That's why I think you should go home for now. This will take a while. And then going to the other doctor...."
"I'll wait." Justin turned to his mother, his face set. "You can go, Mom, but I'm staying here."
Jennifer knew then that her hope that Justin's affair with this man was just a passing phase was completely in vain. Because she had rarely seen her son so determined and grown-up as he was standing in the police station, waiting for his lover to be released. Now it was the two of them against the whole world. She knew that was how Justin saw it. And anyone who tried to separate Justin from this man, no matter what he did, would be the enemy. So Jennifer got in her Plymouth and drove home, knowing that her son was now well beyond her grasp.
Justin tried to be patient as he sat and waited for Brian's release, but his mind was in turmoil, his mood swinging from anger to fear to anxiety. Melanie was restless as well. She was either pawing through her briefcase, shuffling papers, or getting up and making calls from the pay phone. Occasionally she tried to make small talk with Justin, but Justin answered only in monosyllables, so she eventually gave up.
At one point Sergeant Stockwell, changed into his civilian clothes, walked past where Justin and Melanie were sitting. He pretended he didn't see them and he sped up his pace as he fled out the front door of the station.
"That lowlife son of a bitch!" muttered Melanie. "I'd love to get him on the stand and watch him sweat. That guy has skeletons in his closet that you wouldn't believe."
"Like what skeletons?" asked Justin.
Melanie huffed. "Like his partner from a lot of years back. The guy offed himself. Shot himself in the head with his service revolver. Stockwell tried to cover it up by making it look like an accident. He was on suspension over that, too."
"How do you know this?"
"That other lawyer who represented Brian, Mitch Keyes. He found out a bunch of stuff, but he never used it because the charges against Brian were dropped. He gave me Brian's file this morning and wished me luck with this case." Melanie lowered her voice. "Mitch thinks that the reason Stockwell may be harassing Brian is that Brian may know something about this partner and why he killed himself."
Justin's eyes widened. "How would Brian know anything about some cop's suicide?"
"Because Kenny Rickert, Stockwell's old partner, was under suspicion in the death of some 16 year old boy, a street hustler, when he killed himself. He was apparently not only busting kids for prostitution, but he was patronizing them, too."
"Oh my God," said Justin. "And you think that... that Brian might know something about that?"
Melanie regarded Justin frankly. "I didn't say anything to your mom, but I think you know what some of Brian's other arrests were for. He also has an extensive juvenile file and spent time in Juvenile Hall for everything from shoplifting to prostitution. He admitted as much to Mitch when he represented him last year. Lindsay also knows a bit, too, because she met Brian just after he got back from Korea."
"I didn't realize that she'd known him for so long," said Justin.
Melanie smiled slightly. "Yeah. She used to DATE him -- if you can believe that!"
"Lindsay dated Brian?" Justin was amazed at the news.
"Sure, kid," Melanie replied. "Brian's been on both sides of the fence. But I think he's always been a fag, really. He was just experimenting with Lindsay." Melanie shook her head. "Anyway, according to Lindz, Brian was on the street when Rickert and Stockwell were partnered. He was probably about 15 or 16 at the time, which was just the age that Rickert preferred. Brian must have known that kid who was killed. He might have known Rickert -- maybe he knew Rickert a little TOO well. So who really knows what the truth is? But whatever it is, it's something Stockwell wants Brian to keep quiet about. And so far it's working, because Brian isn't talking about anything to anybody."
"Then why would Stockwell keep arresting him?" asked Justin. "Why bust him for reading a poem?"
"Maybe to keep Brian in his place," Melanie shrugged. "To remind Brian who has the power and who doesn't. To warn him." Melanie paused. "And to scare him, kid. Maybe to send him the message that he isn't safe in this city, no matter what he does. Stockwell is a goddamn bully, so who knows what's in his tiny, nasty head? But it isn't pretty. Not pretty at all."
Justin began to tremble slightly. This was bigger than he'd imagined. And it wasn't just about art and freedom. No, it was about Brian, personally. About a man who hated Brian enough to want to hurt him badly. "Tell me the truth, Miss Marcus -- is Brian really okay? I want to know."
Melanie took a deep breath. "He took some good punches, kid. And he couldn't fight back in that holding cell. They made certain of that. But in jail... a queer doesn't do to well in jail, no matter what the situation. Sometimes it's the other prisoners and sometimes it's the guards and sometimes, like with Stockwell, it's whoever has a grudge or a score to settle. Or whoever just wants to... to...." Melanie looked Justin in the eye. "Do you get what I'm saying, kid? Do I have to spell it out?"
Justin swallowed. "No, Miss Marcus. You don't have to spell it out. I'm a queer, too. I understand what those cops did. That's why Brian didn't want me to be arrested, isn't it? He knew what would happen."
She nodded. "Yes, he did. Because it's probably happened to him before. I'm only guessing, but considering the time he spent in Juvenile Detention and those hustling charges, I'd say it was inevitable. But that's a kid and not a grown man. It might be a lot different for him to deal with now. So you're going to have to buck up, Justin. Because this is a hard one."
"I know," Justin answered. "I know it."
It was almost noon when the desk sergeant motioned for Melanie to go back and take charge of her client. He handed Mel a paper sack with Brian's personal items -- his watch, his wallet, a handkerchief, a pack of Winstons and a book of matches, a pencil and small pad of paper, spare change, a bus token -- and she handed it off to Justin. "We'll be right out, kid, so don't make a scene."
Justin nodded and watched Melanie follow another cop back to the holding cells. He noticed that a few more policemen had come out of the offices and were looking at him curiously. The story about what had happened to Brian and how Stockwell and some other cops had been suspended must be known to everyone in the station.
Finally, Melanie and Brian came out. Brian's head was down and he was distinctly lacking in his usual swagger. But then he looked up, his eyes searching until he found Justin. The side of his face was bruised and he had a small cut over his right eye.
Justin thought about what Melanie Marcus had told him about not making a scene, but he didn't care what anyone else thought. Justin ran over and put his arms around Brian. He felt Brian wince slightly. "Sorry," whispered Justin.
"It's okay." And Brian hugged him back tightly. And then he leaned down and kissed him.
The cops standing next to the front desk began to snicker, but Justin didn't give a damn. He wanted to defy them all. He wanted to show them that he wasn't some scared little faggot. Justin turned and stared at them with his intense blue gaze. One of the cops made a comment under his breath and the others laughed.
Suddenly, Captain Dolan was there, glowering at the gawkers. "This ain't no floorshow! If you don't have business here, then get out! If you have something to do, get to work!" he told the cops, and they dispersed. The desk sergeant looked away, pointedly.
"Brian, this isn't your tee shirt," said Justin, touching his chest. The tee shirt was gray, when Brian had been wearing a white one.
"Mine got... messed up," he mumbled.
"Where's the shirt you were wearing?" asked Melanie, suddenly alert.
"They took it and gave me this one."
"Did they take anything else?" demanded Melanie.
"My jockeys," Brian answered, looking away.
"Goddamn it!" Mel shouted. "That's evidence! Captain Dolan!"
The police captain rolled his eyes. "Yes, Miss Marcus?"
"I want the clothes you removed from my client. Clothes with the evidence of an assault perpetrated by YOUR officers!" Melanie put her hand on Brian's dungarees and noted some dark stains on one leg. "Evidence like THIS!"
Captain Dolan frowned. "They were probably discarded, Miss Marcus. We gave him... some clean ones."
"I see that," she fumed. "Now get me what he was wearing when he was booked. Even if you have to paw through a trash heap yourself to get them!"
Captain Dolan called over another cop and sent him back to the cells. A few minutes later the man came back out with another paper sack. He handed it over to Melanie grudgingly.
"There, was that so hard, Captain?" said Melanie, her voice like ice. "You ought to be ashamed of yourself! You and your officers are sworn to uphold the law! To protect people! Well, who is going to protect people like my client from YOU?"
Dolan glared back. "Your client, Miss Marcus, is no innocent party here. He's a fairy and last time I looked being a fairy is against the law. He shouldn't exist, in my opinion. Him and his little chum, there. They are a sickness on this community! Maybe Jim Stockwell didn't use the best judgment in this instance, but you know what, ma'am? He had the right idea! So why don't you and your client and his pansy pal skip on out of here? And if you want to make this a Federal case -- be my fucking guest!"
Melanie walked up to Captain Dolan, her anger so great that her voice was only just holding steady. "You might want to remind Sergeant Stockwell and the other cops who took part in the assault against my client that there's a name for guys who have sex with other guys -- no matter what the circumstances. And that includes cops who take advantage of a prisoner! Too bad Officer Kenneth Rickert isn't around so you can ask him a few questions about cops who like doing it with boys. But you can ask James Stockwell. He'd know all about it, Captain. And you know it, too!"
"Get out of here, lady. I mean it," said Dolan. And he turned and stalked off.
"Hey, Captain Dolan? Merry Christmas! And Happy Hanukkah, too!" Mel called after him. "We better go, kids," said Mel, pushing Brian and Justin ahead of her. "These guys won't hesitate to play dirty. And you, Kinney," she squeezed Brian's arm. "You have an appointment with my doctor right now. I want a full examination and report. I want those bastards to face up to what they've done."
They stepped outside. The freezing December wind whipped against Justin's face and Brian shivered in his thin tee shirt and leather jacket. "It's not necessary, Mel," Brian said. "I'll be okay, really. Just drop the whole goddamn thing, please?"
Melanie stopped and faced Brian. "Kinney, do you want to let those sons of bitches get away with this? Do you?" Mel's voice took on a deadly edge. "What if they pick up Justin next? What if they trump up some charge and haul HIM in to jail? What do you think they'll do to Justin then? Play Pattycake?"
"Fuck you, Miss Marcus! And how am I supposed to... to stop them?" Brian stammered. "When I can't even protect myself? They have the entire fucking police force on their side! And I don't have money or power or a fancy family or even the letter of the law on my side. I've got nothing!"
Justin buried his face in the cold, hard leather of Brian's jacket. "You have me, Brian. That's not much, but it's something."
Brian stopped in the parking lot of the police station and held onto Justin tightly, as if someone might swoop down and snatch him away. "No, not much. Only everything," Brian replied.
Continue on to "Beatitudes -- Part 4".
©Gaedhal, December 2003.
Posted December 17, 2003.