This is Chapter 29 of the "Queer Realities" series.
Go back to "Queer Theories" for the very beginning of this saga.
The narrator is Brian Kinney, and features Justin Taylor, Sylvia Schacter, Leslie Mann, Dr. Julius Gorowitz.
Rated R for language and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Brian returns to Springhurst -- and a few surprises. Springhurst. February 2003.
Disclaimer: This is for fun, not profit. Watch Queer As Folk on Showtime, buy the DVDs, videos, and CDs. Read the stories and enjoy.
"This is it, Brian," Justin says as we pull into Springhurst. He turns off the Jeep so we can sit for a few more brief moments.
"Is it too late to turn around and run away?" I ask. I'm kidding -- but not really.
Dr. Gorowitz is always reminding me that my stay at Springhurst is completely voluntary. That I can leave whenever I want, if I really want to do it. Pack up and get the fuck out. Anytime. Of course that detective with the LAPD and Howie Sheldon and the studio might not agree with that idea, but fuck them anyway!
"We can drive west, Justin," I assert. "All the way west. When we get to L.A. we can take the boat and go to Mexico. We can get the hell out of this world and be somewhere else. Anywhere else. Just the two of us." I smile at him enticingly. "What do you say?"
Justin gazes at me with those blue eyes that won't let me get away with any bullshit. "I think you better go inside, Brian. I have a long drive back to Pittsburgh. Then I have class tomorrow and a lot of work to catch up on. I'll call you tonight, okay?"
The fucking Voice of Reason! I want to argue. But instead I nod. "Okay."
"I'll be back on Friday to spend the weekend with you, Brian. You can hang on until then, can't you?"
I have this overwhelming urge to grab him and yell, "No! I fucking CAN'T! It's three fucking days until Friday! Don't leave me here, Justin! Stay with me!" But I don't yell that. Of course not. Brian Kinney would never yell that. He'd never admit that. Never. And THAT is Brian Kinney's biggest fucking tragedy.
"Sure I can, Sunshine. Take off." I open the door and jump out of the Jeep. Then I pull my suitcase out of the backseat. It's one of those really bright winter days that often come after a big snowstorm. The sun is almost blinding. "Be careful on the highway."
"I will," says Justin. I walk around to his side and he leans out of the window for me to kiss him. I give him a tiny little peck on the cheek because I can't trust myself to give him any more than that. He sighs. "Be good, Brian. And hang on. I love you. Don't forget that."
I watch him drive away as my heart sinks deeper and deeper into the snow. Then I walk inside to face the music.
Sylvia, my counselor, is standing at the front door with her goddamn clipboard. She isn't smiling.
"Hey, Sylvia," I say. "Looks like I'm just in time for lunch! I hope we're having Mystery Meatballs. They're my favorite!"
Sylvia pulls a plastic cup out of her big sweater pocket and hands it to me. "March!" she orders, pointing towards the men's room.
I stare at the little plastic cup. A drug test is standard procedure for anyone who has been off the grounds of Springhurst for any period of time, but it's absolutely required for an addict who's gone AWOL, no matter what the reason. I'm over 24 hours late coming back so I'm officially AWOL. But having to piss in a cup still makes me angry. It reminds me of Haven of Hope and all their crap. And then there's Sylvia's attitude! Like I've done something wrong!
"Give me a fucking break, Sylvia!" I hiss. "Justin and I were snowed in back in the 19th century for four fucking days! There were NO drugs! I'm clean!"
But Sylvia doesn't let me get away with anything. She gives me a look that could kill a lesser man. "Are you going to go in there and give me a sample or do you want to do it right here in the lobby?" she snarks.
"I might be smuggling some virgin urine in my boots, Sylvia, so I better do it right here!" Yes, I'm angry. And yes, I'm an idiot. So I take out my dick and even though we've drawn quite a little crowd of curious onlookers I fill up her fucking plastic cup right there in the lobby. Then I slap the lid on top and hand it to her, nice and warm.
Sylvia's face is bright red with embarrassment, but she takes the sample.
"Don't drink it all at once," I caution her. Then I smirk at her.
Sylvia glares at me. I know I'm an asshole, but why do I make it worse for myself by lashing out at my biggest ally in this fucking place? Because I CAN, that's why! Because I'm Brian Fucking Kinney!
"Go to your room, Brian," she says coldly. "You have an appointment with Dr. Gorowitz at 2:00. And don't be late!"
"Does that mean you're sending me to bed without supper, Mom? And no dessert?" I shoot back.
"Don't, Brian!" Sylvia warns me. "Just don't!"
"Fuck you!" I whisper. I pick up my suitcase and slink back to my room.
I close my door and flop down on the bed. My fucking head is pounding. Why do I do these things to myself? I feel like calling a cab to come out here and pick me up. Or I could walk out the back door and hitch my way back to the Pitts. But then I'd have to face Justin at the loft. Explain to him why I failed my rehab. Again. And he'd blame himself for taking me out of Springhurst for the weekend. Like it was his fault that we were snowed in! Coming back here should have been a snap. I could have let it all slide. But, no, I have to be a smart-ass. A wise guy. An asshole.
I bury my face in the pillow. I feel like shit. I want to take something so fucking badly that I can't stand it. I want to block out everything and everybody. Not to feel anything right now. But that's why I'm in here. Because I want to do that. And I can't do that. Not anymore.
I sit up and try to get my shit together. So I unpack my suitcase. Earl's wife washed our clothes when we got to his house, so everything is clean. She even ironed my fucking socks! All I have to do is put everything away. That takes about two minutes. Now I have a couple of hours to sit here and stew until I meet with Gorowitz.
My cellphone is sitting on the table next to the bed and it's giving off that "You have a voicemail message" sound. I purposely didn't take the cell with me this weekend. I knew that Justin would have his phone and I didn't want to be bothered with mine. Only a few people have my cell number, but I didn't want to hear from any of them. I pick it up and check my messages. One each from Michael and Lindsay, just checking in. Multiple messages from Jimmy. He called a couple of times every day that I was gone and he's called five fucking times this morning alone! He must be freaking out about something. And there's an urgent message from Leslie, my personal assistant out in Los Angeles. That might actually be important. I press the number.
"Brian! I'm so glad you finally called!" Leslie says. "Where have you been? I've been calling you for days! I tried to get Justin this morning, too, but he wasn't answering."
"We were away for the weekend and we got caught in the big snowstorm," I explain. "You must have heard about it even out there in sunny La La Land. Justin and I were stuck in this little cabin in the woods and the owner had to come and dig us out!"
"Are you two all right?" she says with concern.
"Never better," I tell her. "What's up?"
Leslie hesitates. "Haven't you heard the news at all, Brian?"
Here we go. Everyone in Hollywood thinks the sun rises and sets with the latest movie gossip! "Leslie, there were massive power failures in the East during this blizzard and we didn't have electricity for half the time we were there. Justin and I were in the middle of fucking nowhere -- and I MEAN nowhere! What news? We didn't hear any news except weather for the past three days. So just tell me and don't play games!" I hate myself for snapping at Leslie, but I just want her get to the point!
"The Oscar nominations were announced this morning, Brian," she states.
I take a deep breath. The Academy Awards. Funny, how you completely forget about that world when you're away from it for a month. "Oh. I didn't realize this was the day. No wonder Jimmy has left me about a thousand messages this morning. Did the film get nominated for Best Picture?" That's the most important thing. Anything else is gravy.
"Yes, Brian," Leslie confirms. "'The Olympian' is up for Best Picture."
That makes me feel good. "I'm glad. The film deserves it."
"Right, Brian," Leslie concurs. "The Academy agrees with you. And Jimmy is up for Best Actor."
I snort. "It figures. Jimmy always said that this picture was going to win him his second Oscar." I think back to all those times on set when Jimmy was goofing around and practicing his Oscar acceptance speech. Then I pause. "But what about Ron?" I have to ask. It's important.
"Two nominations, Brian. Best Director and Best Screenplay Adaptation."
My stomach makes a flipping movement. I have a sudden flashback to a snowy street in New York, with Ron directing Marc Geraci, his big Italian cameraman, to point their single 16 mm camera at me while I spout off some garbage about the cops harassing the kids who are hustling, but never bothering the johns at all. I thought Ron was crazy back then. I didn't think anyone would ever see his little homemade movie about a bunch of loser street punks. I didn't think anyone would give a shit about such a depressing subject. I thought the whole thing was a fucking scam. The idea that Ron would ever be up for an Academy Award someday -- or for TWO! -- was as impossible as both of us flying to the fucking moon. Too bad Ron's not here to see it.
"And?" I say. But I already know the answer. Leslie would have said it first thing.
"I'm sorry, Brian." Leslie really sounds sad for me. "You weren't nominated for anything."
"It doesn't matter," I answer quickly. "I wasn't expecting to be. Don't worry about it, Leslie."
"The press has been calling here, looking for a statement from you, Brian."
"What do they want me to say?" Now I'm getting annoyed. "Do they expect me to make some sour grapes comment about the homophobic Hollywood establishment? Is that what they're waiting for?"
"I don't know, Brian," says Leslie. "But if I keep telling them 'no comment' that sounds pissy, too. You have to say something. Make some kind of official announcement."
I close my eyes and try to think. "Okay. Tell the gentlemen of the press that I'm happy that 'The Olympian' was nominated for Best Picture and that the Academy's recognition of the two people who made it possible, Ron Rosenblum and Jimmy Hardy, proves that a quality picture with a serious gay theme can succeed, even against the odds. Does that sound not too muddleheaded. Leslie?"
"That sounds fine, Brian. Just fine." She seems relieved that I actually gave her a coherent quote.
"Okay, I better call Jimmy and congratulate him." I dread talking to Jimmy, but it's necessary. And he does deserve congratulations. He worked his ass off to make this film a success. And so did someone else. "And please send two dozen red roses to Mrs. Lilith Rosenblum in Orange Grove, Florida. The address is on the computer there in the office."
I hear Leslie tapping on the computer. "I've got it, Brian. Anything on the card with those flowers?"
"Just...." But I can't think of what to write. What do you say to a woman whose son -- your ex-lover -- was just nominated posthumously for an Academy Award? "Just, 'Love Brian.' That's all."
"I'll do that the minute I get off the phone with you," says Leslie. "I also have some faxes that you need to look at. And check your e-mail once in a while, if you please, Brian?"
"I will, Mother!" Jesus! Women are so fucking bossy! I'm about to hang up, but then.... "Leslie?"
"Send two dozen more red roses to the loft in Pittsburgh."
I almost hear Leslie choking on the other end of the line. "Are you sure about that, Brian?"
"What? You don't think two dozen is enough? Then send THREE dozen." I can be an asshole, but not every moment of my fucking life!
"Any message on the card, Romeo?" She's laughing at me, but I don't care.
"Yeah. 'Unforgettable.' That's it. I think he'll know who they're from."
"He better!" Leslie snorts. "Must have been a good weekend!"
"It was. The power was out, we almost ran out of food, and it was about 20 degrees below zero INSIDE the cottage. It was fucking great."
I can hear the grin in her voice. "I'll talk to you later in the week, Brian," says Leslie and she signs off.
Well, that's that. I wasn't certain about going to the Academy Awards ceremony for a lot of reasons. First, I didn't know if I'd be finished with rehab by the end of March. Second, it's around the time that Lindsay is due to give birth. And third, I didn't want to be a part of another fucking media circus. But now that I've been snubbed by my Esteemed Peers -- I HAVE to be there. I'll create my own fucking media circus! Me and Justin walking down the Red Carpet, holding hands. The studio's biggest nightmare! Howie Sheldon will shit a brick! Ha! Now I'm looking forward to it.
The cellphone purrs and I pick it up. If it's Jimmy I'll let it go to voicemail. But it's Leslie again.
"What's the matter? Are they fresh out of red roses in Pittsburgh?"
"No, not that!" says Leslie urgently. "A messenger just made a delivery here and I thought I'd better warn you right away!"
"Warn me about what?" This doesn't sound good.
"Do you remember when you did an interview for 'The Advocate'? It was in December, the day after you and Justin got back from the 'Olympian' premiere in London. Ron did one, too, right before he went to London. To publicize the picture."
"I guess." I wasn't thinking about much back then except being publicly outed with those photos of Justin and me fucking on the boat splashed all over the tabloids. "What about it?"
"The magazine is coming out TODAY! They were supposed to send me an advance copy with at least a week lead time, but apparently they forgot to send it over. I have it in my hand right now. You're on the cover, Brian!"
"The cover? Of 'The Advocate'? THIS week?"
"Yes," says Leslie. I can hear the pages of a magazine flipping. "It seems like you must have been in quite a 'mood' when you talked to this reporter, Brian, because some of the quotes they are featuring are... well... You're going to have to read it yourself!"
"Shit!" I groan. I cannot remember a single thing I said to the interviewer. All I remember is that it was really early in the morning and I had to go over to an office at the studio to talk to him. I'm sure I was hungover and I was probably still jet-lagged from coming back from London, too. Justin was sound asleep back at the apartment and not there to rein me in from making any particularly idiotic remarks. In other words, I could have said anything to this guy! "Who am I going to have to apologize to first, Leslie?"
"I don't know, Brian," says Leslie. "You'll have to read it and then decide for yourself. But I'm sending a copy to you by Fed Ex Overnight. You should get it tomorrow. That's when the issue should hit the newsstands."
"Thanks, Leslie. I appreciate the warning." I should call Justin and warn him too. But he's on the road to Pittsburgh, so I'll call him later.
This is all I need right now. Obviously, 'The Advocate' has their timing down to a science to give me the maximum amount of angst! I thought they were supposed to be PRO-faggot? I shouldn't have to worry about what they print. But I guess it's not entirely their fault when it's my own words coming back to haunt me. That's never a good thing. Note to self: keep your big fucking mouth SHUT from now on!
I lie down on the bed and close my eyes. I want a bottle of Jack Daniels more than anything right now. Or a nice, fat joint. Or a packet of white powder. It doesn't matter what kind of white powder. Whatever you've got.
What I really need is some blond boy ass. Need that more than all the other shit put together. But what I've got is nothing.
Like I said -- nothing.
I close my eyes.
"I don't understand why I had to be drug tested," I bitch to Dr. Gorowitz. "It's fucked! You know why I was late coming back! I was snowed in! It wasn't like Justin and I were out in Palm Springs at the White Party! We were stuck in a fucking cabin in the wilderness melting snow and boiling it so we could wash our asses!"
"It's a rule, Brian. No exceptions." The Doc is so fucking blank. You can never read him at all. He just looks at me with his 'non-judgmental face' on -- but I know that he's judging my behavior every second. And he doesn't trust me as far as he can throw me!
"Maybe Justin should have left a sample for you?" I bark. "You can drug test HIM, too! See if he's suitable to be my partner!"
"We don't do that," says Gorowitz, with a slight edge of annoyance in his voice. "You know that, Brian. This isn't Haven of Hope. And Justin isn't the issue here -- you are. You are responsible for your own actions. And I want to know why you came back from your weekend in such a hostile mood. You tore into your counselor the minute you walked in and put on quite a show in the lobby, I've been told. What happened over the weekend? Did you and your partner have an argument?"
"No! Of course not!"
"Then what's wrong, Brian? Why are you so keyed up?"
I'm fucked no matter what I do! If I lie to Gorowitz about the wine, then he'll know that I'm lying and he'll never trust me again. But if I tell him the truth then he'll KNOW that I definitely can't be trusted.
"I screwed up, Doc. I drank some wine over the weekend. With the dinner that Justin made on Friday night. He forgot and poured some for himself and some for me. And I drank it." I cross my arms in front of me, defensively. "Happy now? So fucking kill me!"
"Is that it, Brian?" Gorowitz is so even, so emotionless. I wish he'd just scream at me. Act human every once in a while. It makes me wonder how he gets his rocks off. How he blows off steam. I bet it's something sick and kinky.
"That's it. Otherwise I'm as pure as the driven slush, Doc. I haven't even had an aspirin. My drug test will tell you that."
"I know, Brian," says Gorowitz. "I know that you're clean. But what I want to know is what ELSE happened over the weekend to put you in such a combative mood. Is it the lack of drink and drugs? Are you finding it hard to control yourself without any of your 'pain management' methods?"
"I don't know," I tell him. And I don't. "The weekend went great. Maybe...."
"Maybe what, Brian?" Dr. Gorowitz hones in.
"Maybe TOO great." I sink down in the chair. "Doc, what the fuck is wrong with me? Why do I go nuts when I'm actually happy? Why can't I enjoy myself for five fucking minutes without ruining it?"
"Did you ruin it for Justin?" Gorowitz asks. "Or for yourself?"
"I don't know," I repeat. I should have a tee shirt printed with that phrase on it. Then I wouldn't have to keep saying it. I could just point at my chest. "I could have ruined it. I almost did. And I'm afraid that...." But I stop.
"Afraid that what, Brian?"
"Afraid that I'm dealing with everything BUT my real addiction," I say slowly. "My most powerful addiction. And I indulged myself in it as much as I could all weekend. But there's no test for THAT, Doc! Unless you put a meter on my dick!" Of course, I have to make a joke about it. That's another way to cover up how much it fucking scares me.
Dr. Gorowitz shakes his head sternly. "Having sex with your partner is NOT sexual addiction, Brian. That's strengthening your bond. Showing your love and commitment to your partner. Having sex mindlessly with anyone you encounter and being unable to stop doing it -- THAT is sexual addiction. And I was under the impression that you haven't been doing that for quite some time."
"I haven't been," I say. "Not really."
I know that I haven't been exactly monogamous in the past year. But compared to the ten years previous to this, I've at least been relatively choosy. I haven't been with anyone but Justin since -- well, since Ron. And some guys at the bathhouse and at Babylon when I was stoned after I split from Haven of Hope. But that hardly counts at all! If you're drunk or stoned who gives a damn? And although I've checked out some of the guys in Springhurst I haven't fucked any -- or even had the desire to fuck any of them. I mean, I've looked at Dr. Mason, but he's straight. Not that being straight has ever stopped me before. But what's the point of bothering with that? Especially when I know that Justin is only a phone call away. Or that he'll be here in a few days. I actually find the anticipation exciting. Strange, but true.
"Then why do you talk about sexual addiction?" asks the Doc.
"I didn't say it was SEXUAL addiction," I say slowly. "It's something even worse. Something I always told myself I'd never get caught in. It's Justin addiction. It's addiction to HIM."
"You are addicted to your partner?" Now Gorowitz smiles. "What is wrong with that?"
"What's right about it?" I almost shout. "I can't stop thinking about him! I can't stop calling him on the phone! I can't stop wanting to have sex with him! I want him so much that I feel sick about it! I dream about him at night! I jerk off in the shower every morning imagining that he's sucking me off! You tell me if that's normal, Doc? It can't be! It makes me want to run away from him as fast as I can -- but I can't run away! I just find myself running in circles, right back to him. And when I look back over the past couple of years I see that's what I've been doing constantly. Trying to get away from Justin -- and then running right back to him! If that's not an addiction, then I don't understand the meaning of the word!"
Dr. Gorowitz takes out his fancy Mont Blanc fountain pen and writes down something on a piece of paper in my folder on his desk. Writes it carefully and deliberately. He could be writing down what I've just said. Or writing down his diagnosis of my problem. Or he could be writing his shopping list. Who the fuck knows? And he's biting his lip like he's trying hard not to say something.
He finishes and then looks up at me. "You really don't understand what has happened to you, do you, Brian? I mean, you really have no idea?"
"What!" I say. Now I'm worried. What the fuck is he writing? "What IS the fucking problem? Tell me!"
And then Dr. Julius Gorowitz can't hold it in any longer. He laughs. Just laughs for a long, long time. At least it seems like a long time to me.
"Congratulations, Brian," he finally says. "You are in love."
I blink and sit back in my chair. I feel like I've been knocked over the head. I've said 'I love you' to Justin. I said it this weekend. I mean, I kind of said it. But I've said it outright at other times, too. But did I really believe it? I don't think so. Because I had never connected it to this intense longing. This burning in my gut. This uncontrollable urge. I guess I didn't really know what love felt like. Not really.
And now I know. I know that what I've been feeling for Justin really IS love. Now I know why all those people who claim to be in love look so moronic and behave like such fucking idiots. Why they act like dykes or 13 year old girls. And now I know why Michael put up with my shit for so many years. Why Ron could never let me go. And why Justin became the trick who wouldn't leave. Why Justin is still here. And why I'm still alive and want to stay alive. Because of Love.
And all I can say is "Fuck." I run my fingers through my hair anxiously. I feel my left eye beginning to twitch. I'm a fucking mess!
What else can I say? Because I'm absolutely, unequivocally, and royally fucked. And I know it.
Continue on to "Advocate".
©Gaedhal, October 2004.
Posted October 12, 2004.