DAY AFTER DAY

"A Queer As Folk USA FanFic"

by Gaedhal

This is Chapter 67 of the "Queer Realities" series.

The narrator is Brian Kinney, featuring Sylvia Schacter, Joan Kinney, Claire Kinney, Kiki, Tim Reilly.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Loose ends. Pittsburgh, May 2003.
Disclaimer: This is for fun, not profit.

"I remember finding out about you.
Everyday my mind is all around you.
Looking out from my lonely room, day after day,
Bring it home, baby, make it soon,
I give my love to you.

I remember holding you while you sleep.
Everyday I feel the tears that you weep.
Looking out from my lonely gloom, day after day,
Bring it home, baby, make it soon,
I give my love to you."

***

"Are you feeling well, Brian?" Sylvia asks. But what she really means is 'Are you sober?' And I am. Strangely enough, I'm still sober.

"Yes, Mom. I'm dandy," I reply. "Fucking dandy. Everything is a-okay."

"And speaking of mothers...," she begins.

"Stop right there!" I say. "I'm fucking doing it! I mean, I'm planning to go over there before I leave for L.A."

"When?" she demands.

This woman never fucking lets go!

How can someone make you squirm from 150 miles away? Sylvia can. "Um... one of these days," I respond vaguely.

"Do it today, Brian," Sylvia insists. "Go and get it over with."

"Jesus," I breathe. "I'm sort of busy right now...."

"Do it," Sylvia reiterates. "Now." She pauses for a moment. "You know you need to do this, Brian, don't you?"

"Not really." Now I'm fucking sorry I answered my fucking phone! But there's no real way of avoiding Sylvia, especially when she's in counselor mode.

"Don't play dumb, Brian!" Sylvia upbraids me. "You know exactly why you have to do this. You have too many loose ends that need to be taken care of before you can put your past behind you and move on."

Yes, I understand. Loose ends. Seems a strange way to refer to over 30 years of your fucking life.

"I'll do it today," I promise. "This afternoon."

"Good boy!" Sylvia praises. I feel like I'm sitting up on my hind legs, waiting for a Milkbone. "You'll feel so much better afterwards."

"I highly doubt that," I reply. It'll be like getting a fucking root canal. But at least I won't have to anticipate it anymore. It'll be done with. And Sylvia is right -- then I can move on.

Right. Move on.

About an hour after I get off the phone with Sylvia, Jennifer calls to ask if she can show someone the building this afternoon. Shit! That's the last thing I need today.

"Listen, Jennifer, I have too many things to do right now. I don't want a bunch of fucking strangers trekking through here at every hour of the day and night."

"I thought you wanted to sell your building?" she sighs. "This is the third time I've asked to bring a client through and you've said no. I can show them the building and the studio, but if someone is going to buy your place, Brian, they're going to want to see the loft. That's the centerpiece of the property."

"I know," I say. "But it's too...." I pause. Too what? Too personal? Too fucking hard to deal with? The idea of someone else living here. Someone else inhabiting my space. And Justin's space. Our loft. Our home. Or, rather, our former home. "I'm scheduled to leave for L.A. in a week. If you could hold off until I'm gone, until I have all my shit out of here, I'd appreciate it. That would be one less thing I'd have to deal with. Once I'm out of here, the place is all yours. You can lead parades through my fucking bedroom if you want to. Okay?"

"All right, Brian," Jennifer says softly. "I'll put the listing on hold until next Tuesday. That's May 13th."

"Fine," I reply. "Thanks."

"I think your building will sell right away," she continues. "There's a lot of interest in it. It's in an improving area and a lot of gentrification is going on around Fuller and Tremont."

"Yeah," I snort. "It was a fucking slum when I moved in. But a lot of things have happened around here in the past ten years."

"Have you ever thought of keeping the property?" she asks. "I'd hate to lose a sale, but the truth is if you hold on to that building, it's certain to be worth even more a few years from now. There are condos going up just down the street and a new gallery opening, too."

"If a bunch of fucking breeders and Neo-Yuppies are moving in, that's even more reason for me to get the fuck out," I tell her. "This outlaw needs a better hideout."

"And Beverly Hills is where the true outlaws hide?" she says, her voice taking on a sharper edge.

"Ron's house is up in the hills, in Creekside Canyon. I mean, MY house," I correct myself. I think about the remodeling that should be finished when I arrive. The over-hauled living room. The new bedrooms. And the poolhouse turned into an artist's studio. "It's quiet and secluded there. A place where I can hide. At least until I figure out what to do with the rest of my fucking life."

"I'm sorry, Brian," she says regretfully. "I wish things had worked out differently."

Sure, Jennifer can say that now that she knows Justin and I are kaput. She can afford to be magnanimous. But she never thought we were right for each other. And time has proven her correct. Once, a long fucking time ago, she ordered me never to see Justin again. She knew I would hurt him. She knew a real relationship between the two of us was impossible. I was too fucking dangerous for him and he was too fucking damaged for me. Never the twain shall meet and all that bullshit. So I agreed. It should have ended there. Better to go out with a bang than with a fucking whimper.

But it's a moot point now.

I tell her I'll call her again before I leave town to confirm that she can begin showing the place, and then I hang up.

I go up to the bedroom to get dressed. To pick out the perfect outfit for my homework assignment. To decide what image I want to project. Successful, yes. Prosperous, certainly. Hot, for sure. And maybe more than a little bit of a 'fuck you' attitude. Nothing that smacks of humility. Or forgiveness. Or fear.

Nothing that will give anything away.

That would never do.

I can never afford to give myself away again. Not to anyone.

Never again.

***

"Brian," she says in surprise. She's holding a dish towel, like I've interrupted her in the middle ofone of her vital household tasks. "What are you doing here?"

Good fucking question.

So why am I here? Because Sylvia's been bugging me? Because Gorowitz thinks that an addict has to face up to all his unfinished business before he can truly move on? To satisfy my own morbid curiosity? Or to say one final 'fuck you' to my dysfunctional family?

Check off 'All of the Above.'

"I used to live here," I say. "Remember? And like all good criminals, I feel compelled to return to the scene of the crime. Or crimes, plural." I wait to see if she says anything, but, of course, she's stone-faced. It wouldn't do for her to crack a smile. Or to show any emotion for the faggot son she hasn't laid eyes on in well over a year. "Are you going to invite me inside?"

Wordlessly, she moves aside and I walk in.

I always get a chill when I come into this house. Like I'm walking over a grave. I guess I am, in a way. The grave of my childhood. The grave of my innocence.

Most people would probably think I lost my innocence in New York. But getting your ass fucked for the first time by some grinning sicko while a scumball pimp collects money for it is nothing compared to the day-to-day mindfuck that was 'Life with Jack and Joan.'

"If I'd have known you were coming, Brian, I would have fixed up the place a bit," she says. Which means she would have moved the empty bottles into the trashcan where no one could see them.

"I'm not from 'House Beautiful,' Mom," I reply, sitting down on the sofa. "I already know what the place looks like."

"I've been meaning to call you," she says, sitting in the chair next to the sofa. I notice that she doesn't sit in the easy chair, which would be a lot more comfortable. That was the Old Man's chair and no one else was allowed to sit in it. She still doesn't. But I didn't sit in it either. I guess old habits die hard. "I wanted to thank you."

"Thank me for what?" It's the middle of the afternoon on a sunny May day, but it's dark and stuffy in here. Airless. I have to remind myself to breathe.

She frowns. I've only been here for five minutes and I'm already giving her grief. But then I'm the cross that Saint Joan the Martyr has been given to bear.

"For paying off the mortgage on this house!" she says impatiently. "And for the money you've been putting into my bank account every month."

"Have I been doing that?" I say, my eyes wide with innocence. "Maybe it was the Mortgage Fairy? Or is that the same thing?"

"I know how you like to bait me, Brian," she chides. "But I want you to know that I appreciate it. You know that things have been difficult since your father passed on. Money is tight, so every bit helps. And I'm alone in this house, day and night. That's even worse than the money problem -- the loneliness. But you wouldn't know anything about that. About being alone. You're famous!"

"Right," I say. "I wouldn't know anything about loneliness. Because I'm famous! I'm the fucking life of the party! Always have been, always will be."

"Don't swear, Brian!" she scolds.

"Whatever the fuck," I say under my breath. "Anyway, I've come over here because... because I've just gotten out of rehab and my counselor feels that I should -- how does he put it? -- get closure with my loved ones. And I guess that means you."

"Rehab?" she says. "Does that mean that... that you're not a... a homosexual anymore?"

Bingo. Why didn't I realize that would be the first thing she'd think of? "No, Mom, unfortunately I'm still a committed cocksucker. I was in rehab for substance abuse. The Kinney Family Curse."

She looks away. While the Old Man was an up-front boozehound, Joanie likes to think that no one knows she's a drunk, too. She always has been, but it's gotten worse since Jack kicked the bucket. I know it and she knows I know it. But The Kinney Curse needs to stop right here. With me.

"I never thought you drank too much, dear," she says, fiddling with the neckline of her blouse.

"How would you know?" I counter. "It's not like you care anything about my life!"

She stares at me. "Why, Brian -- you're my son! Of course I care! I know YOU! And I know you're not an alcoholic."

"Bullshit, Mom." I shake my head. It's almost funny. Except no one is laughing. "Everyone in this family is in denial. It never changes!" I stand up and begin to pace back and forth. "If you really cared anything at all about me or my life, you wouldn't have blown off that dinner at Papagano's I gave last year for all my friends. I invited you, too, in case you've forgotten. But you never showed. Never sent a fucking excuse, let alone an apology! How do you think that made me feel? All my friends were there! Michael Novotny and his mother and uncle. My former boss, Marty Ryder, and his wife. My assistant from Ryder. My friend Lindsay -- remember her? And Justin and his mother, of course. They were all there. But not you. Not my own fucking mother!"

"I... I wasn't feeling well that night," she mumbles, looking away.

"I know what that means," I state bluntly. "Well, from now on you can get your comfort straight from the bottle 24/7 for all I care. Or call Father Butt...." I almost say Father Buttfuck, but then think better of it. This isn't the fucking time or place for that revelation. "Father Butterworth. Let him hold your hand from now on. Let HIM be your fucking son! Because nothing has changed, Mom. Nothing is ever going to change between us. I realize that now and I accept it. I came here looking for some closure. All right, let it really be closed. I think it's time for me to go."

She gets up and comes over to me. "Please, Brian! Don't be this way! You're my son! My only son! Even if you are a... a...."

"A faggot, Mom. That's the term, I believe. Unless you prefer queer. Cocksucker. Fudgepacker. Or fairy. Because that's what I am." I have to close my eyes to steady myself. "I'm a queer with a drug and alcohol problem. And other problems you can't even fathom. Maybe one day I'll actually be able to move beyond what happened to me when I was a kid and relate to another human being on a normal level. Maybe I'll be able to have a relationship that isn't fucked up by the lessons I learned in this goddamn house! Maybe one day. But not today."

I feel her hand on my arm, her bony fingers squeezing. "Aren't you with that... that young boy anymore? The one I saw at your apartment? The one with you in those... those photographs?"

So she saw the pictures of me and Justin fucking on the boat. Of course she did. They were on the front page of the fucking 'National Enquirer'! How could she have missed them?

"No," I breathe. "We're not together anymore. Lucky for him. Because everything I touch turns to shit." The words are choking me.

"What about that man who... who died?" she asks, her voice softer. "Was he really your... I mean, were you really... involved with him?"

"You mean Ron?" I say. Looks like my mother really does do more than just sit in church and pray. She actually reads the newspapers and watches TV! Or her gossiping friends do. And anything she missed, I'm sure my sister Claire filled her in on. "He had a name -- Ron. And, yes, I was involved with him! What do you think? And that boy has a name, too -- Justin. Maybe they're only queers, like me, but they have names, Mom! They're human! And I cared about them. I loved them. Maybe you don't think it's possible, but I did."

"I... I'm sure you did, Brian," she murmurs. She seems almost confused, like she doesn't know what to think. "Please understand how hard all this is for me. Father Tom tries to help me to... to accept things I can't change. And I'm praying about it."

"Well, congratulations!" I bark. "Accepting what you can't change is just fabulous! Keep up the good work! Just keep repeating the Serenity Prayer and you'll be sober in no time. Then you and Father Tom can celebrate. I'll send you a case of cheap wine to get the party started!"

She stares at me, tears in her eyes. I can see she's hurt by what I've said. What the hell? If I thought there was any chance that she could accept me now... But... Fuck it! She's had over thirty years to be a real mother to me! But everything else was always more important. Her church. Her house. Even Jack. Yes, even covering up for my Old Man was more important than the needs of her only son. So why would it be any different now?

She's about to say something to me when the front door opens and my sister Claire comes slinking in. Jesus, she looks even worse than the last time I saw her. There's more gray in her ratty hair and her face is pasty and strained. She stares at me in disbelief.

"Brian -- when did you get here?" Claire blinks her beady eyes at me.

"I was just leaving." I grab my leather jacket from the sofa.

"Hey!" Claire snaps. "We have some things to talk about!" Her eyes cut over in the direction of our mother. Yeah, she's the main 'thing.' "Important things!"

"Send me an e-mail," I tell her. And I'm out the door.

If I'm lucky, it's the last time I'll ever have to be inside that house. I get into the Jeep and gun the engine. Leave it all behind.

"Closure," Gorowitz told me. "You need closure with your past, Brian." That's a fucking laugh!

There's no such thing as closure! I'll be living in that house, with those people, every fucking day for the rest of my miserable fucking life. I may not know much, but I know that. I can never really escape.

I can only try to forget.

***

After that touching little family reunion, I really want a drink. But even one shot is out of the question. That would be the worst kind of Kinney Pain Management. Can't let Dr. Gorowitz and Sylvia and the whole Springhurst Gang down, can I? Which means going to Woody's is out. Or Pistol. Or Meathook. Or the Apollo Baths. Or any of the other places I can think of that are dark and welcoming to lonely fags who want to escape their troubles. Too much fucking temptation.

That means there's really nowhere for me to go.

And nowhere turns out to be the Liberty Diner.

I actually catch a break because Deb isn't on duty. That freaky drag queen, Kinky or Kiki or whatever the fuck her name is, takes my order. One Pink Plate Special to go. I don't even ask what it is. It doesn't matter. Everything I eat tastes exactly the same.

"You're looking so handsome, Brian," Kiki flirts. She's using what she thinks is a sexy voice, but she actually sounds exactly like Bea Arthur. I'm fascinated by her bright red wig. It looks like one of Deb's rejects, if you can believe that. "Are you going to be making any more movies?"

"Yeah, I'm starting one at the end of the month. And I have another scheduled for next fall -- if all goes well."

"That's so exciting!" she squeals, batting her false eyelashes. "Will you sign this menu for me? Pretty please?"

I shrug. "Sure. Do you have a pen?"

She goes and gets a black marker from behind the counter. I write on the menu: "To Kiki, with much love, Brian Kinney." That's what Ron taught me to write. The fans want something personal. A connection with you. Something for them to fantasize about. Although the thought of Kiki fantasizing about me makes me a little queasy. But what the fuck? "Here you go."

"Oh, thank you!" she oozes. "I'm going to frame this! You're a sweetheart!"

"Right," I say. "I'm a real sweetheart."

Then she goes and gets my food. I leave her a big tip.

Only one more week, I think as I fire up the Jeep. Then this will all be over. Maybe I should change my reservations and leave earlier. But I promised Lindsay I'd let Gus stay with me this weekend and I can't disappoint my son.

I pull up in front of the building. I remember the first time I saw it. It was a fucking wreck back then. Nothing but an old warehouse, with half the windows broken. The neighborhood was a fucking war zone. But when I saw that huge space on the fourth floor, I knew I had to have it. My lair. My Fortress of Solitude, as Mikey calls it. In the first two years I lived here, my car was stolen three fucking times!

But now the trendy straights are moving in. A Starbucks down the street. Condos. A fucking Pottery Barn. Like I told Jennifer, that's my cue to get the hell out of Dodge.

I climb out of the Jeep and lock it. Then I walk up to the door of the building. I have to think for a moment to remember the new code before I punch it in.

"Brian?"

Now what?

I turn around to see Tim Reilly standing there. What did I do to deserve THIS?

He comes up to me, his expression somber. It's Tim's 'priest face' -- all phony fucking concern and solicitude. "I need to speak with you, Brian."

"Well, I don't need to speak to you," I tell him. "I saw my mother today. That's my limit on torment for now. Call back in about six months and maybe I can fit you in. Oh, I forgot -- I'll be out of town. Forever! Sorry about that, Tim!"

I open the door, but Tim steps in front of me, blocking the entrance. He's got to be in his early fifties, but he's still a good-looking guy. I remember thinking he was amazingly handsome when I was sleeping with him at St. Lawrence House. He was the kind of guy I wanted to be. Confident. Focused. And a great body, too. All those years in the Marine Corps -- all those push-ups! I thought I was in love with him for about five minutes once upon a time, a long time ago. But it was only an illusion. Only the faint hope of a desperate 17 year old kid. But Tim was only a substitute for someone I couldn't have. Someone I left behind in New York. I learned pretty quickly that love is bullshit anyway, so I got over it. And I think Tim imagined he was in love with me at the time. Maybe he thought he wasfor a lot longer than that. Maybe he still thinks he is. At least a little.

But love is bullshit.

I should have stuck to that belief. But it's too late now.

"Brian, this is important," he says.

Those blue eyes are so serious. Poor old Tim will never stop being a priest, no matter how many sins he commits. No matter how many cocks he sucks. No matter how many vows he breaks. Father Tim -- I forgive you! Now go and leave me the hell alone!

"You can disregard what I'm going to tell you, but at least listen to me," he says. "Give me ten minutes. That's all I ask."

"I'm sober, Tim," I assert. "My life is fucked up, but I'm sober. Isn't that enough? What more do you want me to do?"

"This isn't about you, Brian," he maintains. "It's about someone else. Someone who is drowning. Someone who needs to be saved. I tried to do it, but I couldn't. I don't have the power. There's only one person who can help him."

I frown. "If you're talking about Michael, forget it. If he wants to be with the Doc, then that's his choice."

"I'm not talking about Michael," says Tim. "I'm talking about Justin."

I recoil like he's smacked me right in the face. He's got a lot of fucking nerve! "No marriage counseling, Tim! Save it for someone who needs it. And that isn't me."

"But Justin needs you," says Tim, his voice urgent. "You don't know how much. He's been in to talk to me. He's told me things that... that you should know before you leave town. I shouldn't be telling you anything he confided to me, but I have to, Brian. I owe it to you to tell you. And I owe it to Justin." He pauses, swallowing. He's sweating, even though it's not at all hot. There's a cool May breeze even in the middle of the city.

"What difference would it make?" I ask. "It's already too late."

"No!" Tim insists. "Not if you still love him! If you do, then let me in. Hear me out. Then I'll leave and it'll be up to you. You can go to Los Angeles and never come back here again. Or...." He lets the word hang in the air.

Or what?

"If you still love him." Those words ring in my fucking head.

I find my hand reaching up to touch my throat. But the heart isn't there anymore.

That little charm is sitting in the top drawer of my dresser. So why do I still feel it here, around my neck? Is my heart still inside me -- somewhere? Still unbroken? Still alive?

I stand back, holding the door open. "I'll give you ten minutes to say your piece. And that's it!"

"Thank you, Brian," says Tim. "You won't regret it."

I must be out of my fucking mind! But I follow him inside anyway.

***

"Looking out from my lonely room, day after day,
Bring it home, baby, make it soon,
I give my love to you.

I remember finding out about you.
Everyday my mind is all around you.
Looking out from my lonely room, day after day,
Bring it home, baby, make it soon,
I give my love to you."

(Pete Ham)

Continue on to "Counting the Steps to the Door of Your Heart".

©Gaedhal, March 2006.

Posted March 9, 2006.