This is Part 4 of "Beatitudes"
The other sections in "Beatitudes".
Features Justin Taylor, Brian Kinney, Jennifer Taylor, Molly Taylor, Melanie Marcus, Dr. Gross, Mr. Harvey, Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Justin brings Brian home. Pittsburgh, December, 1957.
"Justin, what are you doing here?" Jennifer turned away from the stove and faced her son.
He was standing in the kitchen doorway, stamping snow off his boots. "I know I should have called first, but it's a pain to stand in that phonebooth in this weather, so we just came over."
"We?" asked Jennifer, holding her breath.
"Brian is bringing in the duffle bag with some of our stuff in it," Justin explained. "He didn't think you'd want him over here after what happened at the Austin Gallery last night, but I told him that didn't matter. That this is a best place for us to stay for the next few days. It's freezing in the loft and that old mattress isn't very comfortable. I want Brian to be somewhere he can get better and the loft isn't the greatest place for that right now. So make sure you tell him how happy you are to have him here." Justin stared at his mother defiantly. "And you are, aren't you, Mom?"
Jennifer sighed. "Of course, honey." She turned back to the stove. "I hope he likes chicken al a king."
"Brian will eat anything, so don't worry about feeding him," Justin asserted. "Besides, I LOVE chicken al a king."
The door opened and Brian came in, carrying the duffle bag in one hand and clutching a battered leather briefcase to his chest. "Is it a-okay?" he asked Justin, warily.
Justin hugged Brian. "Sure! I told you it would be fine. Right, Mom?" Justin glanced sharply at Jennifer.
"Yes. Of course, Justin," Jennifer mumbled. "Come in, boys. Don't let all the cold air inside. And please take off your boots. We have wall-to-wall carpeting."
Brian shut the door and bent over, slipping off his boots. "Thanks, Mrs. Taylor." He stood up. "This was Justin's idea. I don't really want to put you to any trouble."
Jennifer Taylor considered the man. He looked so much younger now standing in her kitchen, shivering slightly. So much of his bravado seemed to have been knocked out of him. She noted the bruises and a cut on his face. Jennifer couldn't believe that the police had beaten Brian after taking him into custody, but the proof was before her eyes. She couldn't imagine how officers of the law could do such a thing. Except... maybe... to queers. Many men would beat up a queer and not think twice about it, even one as unobvious as Brian Kinney. But Justin... Jennifer suddenly got a chill. Her son. There were men out in the world who would beat him, even kill him, just for being what he was -- a queer. And if Brian, who was tall and strong and knew judo and played sports, couldn't save himself, then what chance did her gentle and artistic Justin have?
"It isn't any trouble at all, Brian," Jennifer said, more directly. "I'll get some fresh towels for the bathroom so you boys can wash up. Dinner will be ready in about a half-hour."
"Thanks, Mom," Justin replied. "Come on, Brian, I'll show you my room. I mean, OUR room." Justin pulled Brian through the door and towards the staircase.
Molly was sitting in the living room in front of the television set. She was wearing her skating shirt. She had skating lessons every Saturday afternoon in the winter and swimming lessons in the summer. Molly also had Girl Scouts, ballet, and piano lessons. Justin sometimes wondered when his sister ever had time to breathe, her days were so filled with activities.
"Molly, you remember my friend, Brian? He's going to stay here for a couple of days with me."
Molly stood up and walked over. She shook Brian's hand primly. "What happened to your face?"
Brian coughed. "I got into a little accident."
"That's why he's staying here," Justin interrupted. "So don't ask a bunch of dopey questions, okay, Molly?"
"I'm NOT dopey! You take that back!" Molly whined.
"I didn't say you were dopey, I said your questions are dopey!" Justin countered.
"Hey, cool it, gang, won't you?" Brian begged. "My head... it kind of hurts. If you could lay off a little? Please?"
Justin looked at Brian closely. Melanie Marcus' doctor had said that Brian didn't seem to have a concussion, but he had also admonished Justin to be alert for any after effects of the assault, including bleeding, dizziness, or headaches.
When Dr. Gross had taken Brian into the examining room, Justin had marched in behind him and refused to leave. "I'm going to be taking care of him, so I want to know everything that they did to him and what I can do to make him better."
"I can take care of myself," Brian growled.
"Shut up," Justin chided. "No, you can't take care of yourself right now. That's MY job."
Dr. Gross had seemed a bit disconcerted by the situation. But Melanie told the doctor that it was useless to reason with the two of them, so he might as well give in because they were both stubborn as mules.
It had been at least as painful for Justin to sit though the examination as it had been for Brian to endure it, but Justin knew it was necessary, not only for himself, but for Brian. He wanted his lover to know that there was nothing Justin would not share with him, nothing Brian needed to keep a secret or be ashamed of. And the doctor had been impressed by this boy, who looked so youthful and naive, but who asked very adult, very intelligent questions, and who didn't flinch at difficult and disturbing answers.
"I think we should go up to my room and get settled, Brian. After dinner I want you to go straight to bed and start resting. That's why we came here, so you could recover."
Brian snorted. "I'm not sick. I've been bumped around before! It's no big deal."
"Yes, it is a big deal," Justin replied, pushing him up the stairs. "So do what I say!"
Justin's room was exactly the way he'd left it the day he moved out back in September. Brian dropped the duffle bag and the old briefcase containing all of his poetry on the floor and eyed the bed, which had a bedspread covered with rocketships and matching pillows. Some of Justin's earlier artwork was on the walls and also propped up in the corner. A baseball glove and ball was on the shelf next to his old schoolbooks.
Man, thought Brian, this really is Suburbia. Looks like something out of 'Father Knows Best.' Until his own old man had kicked him out of the house he'd shared a tiny room with his older sister. There had been no money for fancy bedspreads or art supplies or books that belonged to Brian. When he wanted to read or study, he went to the Public Library and stayed there as long as he dared. When he wanted to write he stole scratch paper and pencils from the schoolroom and then hid them from his harridan of a mother.
Brian thought about Mrs. Taylor, standing at the stove in her clean apron, her hair all done and her fingernails painted red. She looked like a movie star or a mother from a television commercial for dishwashing liquid. Then Brian thought about his own mother, drunk and screaming at him to get out of her way or to clean up the place. He was hungry? How was that her goddamn problem? He thought about walking through the dark streets with his sister, collecting bottles and cans from the roadside, trying to get enough pennies together to buy something that they needed. Anything. Everything. Because they had nothing. The Depression supposedly had ended with the coming of World War II, but it had never ended for the Kinneys. Just when his father began to work steadily again, the old man was drafted and sent away for four years. Brian used to dream that when his father finally returned life would be okay. But the reality was something very different.
"Are you sure your mom is good with this, Justin? I mean, with me staying here?"
Justin lifted his chin high. "She said she was, didn't she? She knows about us, Brian. That we're lovers. She's known ever since I moved in with you. Believe me, it's all right."
Brian shrugged dubiously. "You're the boss."
"I'll remember that one, Brian!" Justin laughed. It was so funny and nice to hear the kid laugh, especially after this lousy day, thought Brian. He put his arms around Justin and held him. Brian pressed his face against Justin's golden hair, which smelled like bubble gum shampoo. Brian didn't want to admit it, but he was afraid. Afraid for himself, but mainly afraid for Justin. Because for all of his cocky attitude, Brian knew that he and Justin were vulnerable because they were fags. The law would always be against them. Society would always be against them. There was nowhere that they were really safe, not even in this tidy, suburban fortress. Nowhere.
At dinner Jennifer Taylor watched Brian wolf down the chicken al a king, biscuits, wax beans, and everything else she put in front of him. He acted like he was starving and he looked so thin that she wondered how often in the past he'd gone without regular meals. Where was his family? Did they know where he was -- or what he was? Maybe that's why he never mentioned them. Perhaps they didn't want their friends or neighbors to know that their tall, handsome son was a fairy and so they had rejected Brian. Jennifer put an extra helping of chocolate pudding in front of Brian and he ate it like it was his last meal.
After dinner Brian went upstairs to bed. He suddenly felt tired and he ached all over. Justin gave him a pain pill that Dr. Gross had prescribed and also an antibiotic that Brian had to take for the next two weeks.
"Your mom is a good cook," Brian told Justin as he climbed painfully between the rocketship sheets on Justin's bed.
"I know. She's always making lots of food, so she should love the way you eat!" Justin laughed.
After he got Brian settled, Justin went back downstairs and watched 'Perry Mason' with his mother. She asked if he wanted to go to church with her and Molly the next morning, but Justin begged off. But he did agree to go out tomorrow and get a Christmas tree.
"I want a nice full one this year, honey," said Jennifer. "Last year's was all scraggly."
"We'll see what they have, Mom," Justin took a deep breath. "You don't really mind that Brian is here, do you?"
Jennifer sighed. "At least when he's here I know where you are, honey. But I'd be lying if I said that this whole thing makes me delirious with joy. It's... just wrong, Justin. For you to decide to be with this man... I can't understand it."
"I didn't decide, Mom," Justin answered quietly. "It's the way I am. I tried to like girls for years. I really tried. But I never felt anything for them. Nothing. All I thought about were guys. That's the truth. And when I met Brian... I understood what I wanted for the first time. That's the only way I can explain it." Justin looked at Jennifer, pleadingly. "He's really a great guy, Mom. He's so talented and intelligent. He's had a tough life and that makes him seem a little rough sometimes. He's not from a country club or even from a decent neighborhood. Both his parents were drunks -- he's told me that much -- and he's been in trouble with the law. I won't lie and tell you he hasn't. But he's a good person. Someday he's going to be a famous poet and then you'll be proud to know him. I know you will."
Jennifer tried to smile, but it was hard. "I know you believe that, honey, but I still think this might be a passing fancy. And I don't want you to get mixed up in anything that's going to hurt you. I only want to protect you."
Justin stood up. "I know you do, Mom. I appreciate it. But I'm a man and I have to make my own choices. You're going to have to trust me."
Justin went up to his bedroom and switched on the lamp on his nightstand. Brian's head was on the pillow, his eyelashes long and black, his mouth slightly open. Justin was so happy that Brian was his. He was in Justin's own room, in his own bed. And Justin didn't have to hide it. His mother knew. Even the cops knew now that Justin was Brian's boyfriend. Melanie Marcus, the lawyer, had said it out loud in the police station! As far as Justin was concerned the whole world could know and he didn't care. He didn't have anything to hide. It felt liberating. He was a queer and screw anyone that didn't like it!
Brian stirred as Justin got into bed and clicked off the lamp. "I must have been really tired," Brian murmured. "I went out like a light." He enfolded Justin into his arms.
"That's good. You need to rest." Justin snuggled against Brian and heard his breathing steady as he drifted back into sleep. The house was quiet and the bed was warm. And then Justin slept, too, fearlessly and innocently.
When Jennifer and Molly returned from church the next morning, the boys were in the kitchen making breakfast. Justin had a number of large mixing bowls on the table and the griddle was sizzling on the counter.
"Making a mess, more like it!" Jennifer said. "Let me do that, honey."
"No, Mom!" Justin insisted. "You two sit! I'm making French toast and Brian is helping me."
Jennifer and Molly sat in the dining room, waiting skeptically. Eventually, Justin served the breakfast. It was in stages and a bit haphazard, but it was all there -- French toast, sausages, and scrambled eggs. "It's nice to have a whole kitchen to play around in," said Justin, grinning as he set down the plate of French toast. "There isn't much we can make in ours." He tasted the French toast and then grinned even wider.
Jennifer was surprised, too, after she took a bite. "This is good, Justin. Where did you learn to make it?"
"From Emmett. He works at the coffeehouse. You met him at the reading on Friday night."
Jennifer remembered. The very effeminate man with the Negro girl. "You'll have to tell your friend that his cooking lessons were a success." Justin nodded at Brian happily. He was so pleased to have made breakfast. Brian didn't say much at the meal, but he ate everything on his plate and also everything that was left over. And he stuck close to Justin's side while they cleaned up the mess in the kitchen. Then the two took Jennifer's big Plymouth and they drove Molly out to buy a Christmas tree.
"You can't fault this one, Mom," Justin said, as he and Brian carried the tree into the living room on their return. "It's a beaut!"
"It looks very nice," Jennifer replied. And it did look good -- bushy and straight.
"Brian picked it out!" exclaimed Molly. "We went to four different places before we got one!"
Brian shrugged. "You wanted a good one. The others were shi... I mean, they weren't full enough," said Brian, glancing at Molly.
Jennifer had to admit that having Brian in the house felt good, somehow. She was still very angry at her ex-husband, Craig, but she also missed his presence in the house. She felt safer with a big man around, she thought as she watched Brian set up the Christmas tree and string the lights on it. Justin and Molly romped around the tree, hanging the ornaments and tinsel, while Brian got the outside lights from the basement and Jennifer showed him where to hang them on the front of the house. Brian did it carefully and without complaining the way Craig always had whenever she asked him to do something. Brian also noticed that she had a short in one of her garage lights. She pointed out Craig's old tool box and Brian fixed the short and also put in a new fuse. He saw an old radio sitting in the basement when he put the toolbox away and he told Jennifer that he would fix that, too.
Jennifer began making a list in her head of all the chores that needed a man to do them. But then Jennifer realized that she was thinking Brian was going to be living there long term and she put THAT idea right out of her head. Because it was impossible. How would she explain his presence to the neighbors? They might well think that this good-looking man was living there with HER! Jennifer couldn't decide which was worse -- if the neighbors thought Brian was sleeping with her or with her 19 year old son? She decided that neither perception was a viable option. After Christmas the boys were certain to return to that bleak apartment, but at least Jennifer's little world would go back to normal -- or as normal as it could be for a divorcee with a fairy son who had a hoodlum boyfriend.
On Sunday evening Jennifer always let Molly stay up until 9:00 to watch 'The Ed Sullivan Show.' The boys were sitting together on the couch, but Brian seemed uncomfortable with Jennifer watching them so closely. Justin kept touching him and poking at him and Brian kept whispering back, "Cut that out, you little punk!"
"Do you like 'Ed Sullivan,' Brian?" Jennifer asked, trying to make conversation.
Brian looked up, startled. "I don't know," he answered hesitantly. "I've never really seen it."
"You've never seen 'The Ed Sullivan Show'?" Jennifer was amazed. Everyone watched 'Ed Sullivan' on Sunday nights. Molly was staring at the screen, transfixed by a man in a tuxedo spinning china plates on tall, thin poles.
"I never had a television set, so I haven't really seen too many shows. But if this is the stuff that's usually on 'Ed Sullivan,' I guess I haven't missed much," said Brian, watching one of the china plates crash to the stage. Justin laughed and started poking Brian again. Finally Brian stood up. "Excuse me, but I need to have a smoke." Brian knew that Jennifer didn't care for smoking in her house, so he went outside and stood in the backyard when he couldn't go without a cigarette a minute longer.
When Brian was gone, Molly turned to her brother. "I can't believe Brian doesn't watch TV! What does he DO all the time?"
Justin tossed his head. "Important things! He reads books. And he writes poetry. And we go for walks all over the city. And we sit in the coffeehouse and talk about issues and politics and art. Like I said -- important things! The whole world doesn't revolve around TV, Squirt."
Molly sniffed. "Sounds boring." And she turned her attention back to the television.
Justin stood up and went outside. Brian was leaning against his old Ford, puffing on a Winston. It was frigid and the sky was so clear that you could see every star.
"I should go back to the loft tomorrow," Brian said.
"No! I thought we'd stay at least until Christmas Day." Justin huddled close to Brian, as if he were a source of heat. "What's the matter? Don't you like it here? Did my mom say something to you?"
"No, of course not. It's just... I'm not used to this kind of thing. Eating dinner and watching television. Putting up the goddamn Christmas tree. I feel like some kind of alien from outer space here. It shows me... well, what you're used to, Justin. A nice house, lots of food, clean clothes, a warm room. I... I can't give you anything like that." Brian took a long drag on the Winston. "All I can offer is a lot of bullshit philosophy -- and the chance to be harassed by the cops and maybe get your head bashed in."
"That would never happen, Brian!" said Justin. "Don't be ridiculous!"
"I'm just telling you the truth, Sunshine," Brian replied. "I've never had anything and I never will. I barely get along as it is, with my Disability check -- and what I can make peddling my ass. But that won't last forever. I'm getting too old for that shit. And I have yet to make a dime from all my writing. Even my car isn't worth the cash it would take to tow it to the junkyard."
"But you don't need money, Brian!" Justin insisted. "You're an artist! And so am I!"
Brian shivered. "You'll get sick of being cold soon enough, Justin. Sick of having nothing and getting nowhere. It's one thing for me to live that way -- I've never had anything better. But you have a nice home. Even your mom is a nice lady. Not many women would try so damn hard to be polite to the criminal who's boffing their baby son. But your mom has a lot of class. And she knows the score. She knows what I am."
"You're MY lover, that's what you are!" Justin answered hotly. "A bunch of boring, bourgeois values don't matter! I grew up with them and they don't impress me, Brian. I can see through all of it. Everything looks great, but my mom is struggling because she can't get any respect at her job. Because she's a woman they won't make her a real estate agent along with the men, even though she has her license. And my dad -- he walked out and never looked back. He didn't even send me a card on my damn birthday! And I'm his son! "
"Welcome to reality, Sunshine." Brian blew a puff of smoke into the air. "How many years do you think it would take a rocket to get to one of those stars? To see that they aren't simply little dots of light, but entire suns, with planets all around them? And people on those planets, too."
"I don't know. A hundred years, maybe?"
"And do you think those people on those planets give a crap about us or our problems? Our poetry and our art? Or whether we're going to blow ourselves up in another year or two with the fucking atomic bomb? I don't think so." Brian tossed the cigarette butt into the snow. "I don't think so at all."
"But you can't worry about that stuff, Brian! About things you don't have control over," Justin urged. "Think about us instead. It doesn't matter to me whether we're in my mom's house or in your pad or sleeping in the Ford. All that matters is that we're together. Success isn't important. You've said so yourself! It's the passion, the reality that matters."
Brian snorted. "Easy for me to say when I've never had any success in anything I've ever done."
Justin looked up into Brian's face. The cut over his eye looked raw and angry in the freezing cold. "I don't believe that, Brian. Melanie said that you... you won something in Korea. A decoration. Tell me about it."
"There's nothing to tell," Brian stated flatly.
"But I want to know, Brian. No secrets, remember?" Justin leaned up and kissed him. Brian wrapped his arms around the boy and they held each other, balancing against the car. Their hot breath blew out in white puffs as it touched the cold darkness. Their lips were chilled, but their tongues were hot as they traded kisses. Justin felt his erection lurch forward in his corduroy pants and he rubbed his crotch against Brian's hardness. "You know that I'll always be here to protect you, Brian. I promise that I will. Always."
Suddenly the light went on in the yard next door and the boys sprang apart. The Taylors' neighbor stepped out his backdoor, carrying a bag of trash. "Who's over there?"
"It's only me, Mr. Harvey. Justin Taylor," he replied. "And my friend. We were just talking."
"Pretty cold to be standing outside talking!" the man laughed. "It's 25 degrees out tonight."
"I know, sir. Brian was only having a smoke. We're going inside now."
"Brian? Are you Pat McLaughlin's boy? You live over on Butternut Street?"
Justin cleared his throat. "No, Mr. Harvey. Brian is staying with us for Christmas. He doesn't live around here."
"Oh. Well...." the man said.
"We have to go now. Bye, Mr. Harvey." Justin grabbed Brian's arm and pulled him into the house before the neighbor continued his interrogation. "Everyone on this street thinks everything is their goddamn business," Justin griped.
"He would've had quite a tale to tell the milkman if he'd come outside about five minutes later -- because I was ready to fuck you against the Ford," Brian breathed in Justin's ear. "Just like we did at camp. Remember?"
"It's too cold out there," Justin replied. "And we have a nice warm bed upstairs." Justin took Brian's hand and led him up the staircase quietly. The sound of people laughing on 'The Ed Sullivan Show' issuing from the living room drowned out their footsteps.
"Maybe it's not such a good idea to do this with your mother and sister right downstairs," Brian said as Justin shut the bedroom door.
"They won't hear a thing," Justin laughed. He'd never seen Brian so reluctant to make love. But he'd take care of that. Justin pushed Brian back on the bed and pulled his old sweater and then his tee shirt over his head. But Brian winced and Justin looked at the bruises all along his left side. The red scar from his war wound seemed inflamed. It was obvious that someone had kicked or punched him very deliberately in that very spot. Justin could guess who it had been.
Justin leaned over and kissed the spot, felt the roughness of the scar against his sensitive lips. He tried to imagine what had happened to make that wound. And he tried to imagine the kind of inhuman creature who would kick a helpless man, aiming for a place already vulnerable, the skin only fragilely mended and the lung underneath weakened.
Brian slipped off his dungarees and then his jockey shorts. His cock was rigid and inviting. Justin quietly peeled off his clothes and moved on top of his lover. Brian reached under the pillow and handed him a small jar of Vaseline. Justin slicked the grease over Brian's cock and up into his own tight ass. Then Justin worked himself, slowly and diligently, down onto Brian's long, curving cock. It was excruciating and liberating at the same time. Completely forbidden and also completely necessary.
Justin felt Brian shudder. "Careful," Justin whispered. "Let me do it all." And he moved himself up and down, building momentum, until Brian suddenly pulled out, turned Justin, and thrust into him from behind, coming with a gasp he couldn't stifle. Then Brian reached around and jacked Justin's dick until he came, too.
"White Gold Angel," Brian muttered into Justin's silky hair. "'Blessed are the Angels, for they will heal the damaged. They will bring Light into the Darkness. And they will live in Peace and Happiness until the end of the World.' I never got to finish reading my poem, Justin."
"I know. Someday you will, Brian, and then everyone will know your words," Justin whispered back. "But until then, I can hear you. And that's all that matters."
Continue on to "Beatitudes -- Part 5", the final section.
©Gaedhal, December 2003.
Posted December 17, 2003.