This is Part 2 of Chapter 13 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "Drama Queen -- Part 1" , the previous chapter.
I was throwing my shit into the suitcase, trying to sort out what I had brought with me and what I had bought here.
And what fucking Ron had bought.
And at that moment he walked in.
"What do you think you're doing?"
I didn't stop. I wasn't even folding things at this point -- just shoving them into the bag. "It seems pretty obvious what I'm doing. Or do you need a script for that, too?"
"Do you think you could stop that for a few minutes? I have to talk to you."
"No." I opened some drawers, but I didn't even know what I was seeing in them.
"Five minutes. Please?"
"I'd start counting down the minutes, but I can't seem to find my fucking watch!"
"Can I ask where you've been? I've been out looking in all the usual places."
"Well, I was in one of the more unusual places. A place you aren't unfamiliar with, I'm sure, since half the guys there have price tags. Oh, and I saw Peter there. You know, what he lacks in real technique he more than makes up for in enthusiasm..." I knew that one would sting -- he really hates Peter. "But he's an old friend of yours, so I gave him the family rate."
"Brian -- this is important."
"And you don't think stuffing this fucking bag isn't important? Isn't my first priority? Because the faster I can get packed, the faster I can get the fuck out of here!"
"Brian. Please. Sit down for five minutes."
He took hold of my arm and was I THIS close to smacking him -- but I flashed on punching that pathetic jerk in the toilet earlier and that stopped me. Did I really want to change into my old man so completely? Wasn't being a drunk and an asshole enough? Did I have to become a brute as well?
I sat down on the bed.
"Brian, I know you're upset about tonight. Frankly, I'm upset, too...."
I start to say something, but he stops me. "Just let me finish."
He began pacing up and down the room, skirting the open suitcase. Then he turned. "I have a proposition to make."
"How original. I don't hear many of those."
He ignored my witty repartee.
I tried to close my eyes, but it was a hopeless fucking cause. If I could just get through this night, then I was home free. Almost. Almost.
I lay down on the sofa and tried to clear my head. I kept hearing all the sounds that normally plagued me when I banished myself out here to the poolhouse, except I was halfway to sober by now. I should have spent more time at the dive, but it disgusted me there. I should have spent more time fucking old Stan, but he disgusted me, too. I just wanted to get rid of him. It was still too early and I had the whole fucking night ahead of me to boil and brood.
And then there was the phone.
Well, why not? What difference did it make now? Now that I was going back?
I picked it up and punched in the number of the loft. It only rang once.
"Hello? Hello?" That's funny. It wasn't Justin's voice.
But then I heard him in the background, "Michael -- give me the phone!"
"Just a minute -- I think it's a wrong number." It WAS Mikey. Unquestionably. "Is there anyone there? Hey, if this is an obscene phone call I'd like to hear something good or you might as well hang up." He paused for a second, as if conferring with his partner: "Hey, Justin, if it's a good obscene call, we ought to invite him over, huh?"
Michael giggled and I was convinced there was no mistake. I've been listening to that laugh for more years than I can remember. And I never thought the day would come when I'd hate the sound of it.
"I'm sorry. I... I must have dialed the wrong number...," I stumbled, trying to think what to say. "I mean... I won't bother you again." What was fucking going on? "Good night."
"No problem at all. 'Night." The phone clicked off and I heard the tone.
Michael and Justin. It fucking couldn't be. Couldn't. But I'd heard it! I looked at the clock on the computer again. It was well after 1:00 a.m. in Pittsburgh. And I knew that Justin had moved the phone next to the bed -- he often described how he was lying in bed jacking off -- and, of course, that always made me do the same.
I had to admit that half of the drunken reason I made those calls, especially at first, was to try to catch Justin with someone at the loft. That if I did, it would validate what I was doing. See, he's taking tricks there. I WANT him to take tricks there! Why the fuck not? Why not?
That's how I lied to myself. That's always the way I lie to myself.
But Mikey. Jesus. That was something else. Michael is no one's fucking trick.
In a way, it made perfect sense to me. Why not? They were perfect for each other. A perfect symmetry. Justin would get to be a real man -- the top he's always wanted to be. And Michael would stick to him without wavering. Without questioning. And neither would have to deal with the immature posturing of a total shithead and lunatic ever again.
It was fucking perfect. Fucking, fucking perfect. Perfect. Such a perfect solution that I wondered why I hadn't thought of it myself. Ever.
And here was I. Perfectly fucked.
Ron had his 'depression' music on the CD player. You can measure his moods completely by what he's listening to at any particular time. Ron is a pure product of his liberal, Sixties-oriented parents. Too old to be hippies, they seemed to have had one foot in a traditional middle-class Long Island neighborhood and the other in Greenwich Village.
So, Ron grew up with that Sixties-worshipping thing and the CDs that had replaced the old vinyl he'd once had in his apartment in the city exactly replicated what he'd listened between the ages of about five and fifteen. The Beatles indicated a good mood, everything a-okay, nothing could possible go wrong with the world. The Beach Boys or the Supremes meant a party. The Doors, an infrequent opportunity to get stoned. Billie Holliday or Ella Fitzgerald, fuck music. I swear I even heard him in his office once listening to the Monkees! The fucking Monkees! Don't ask me what that signified, because I have no clue; I think it was temporary insanity.
I heard the voice of Bob Dylan issuing from the bedroom. That meant Ron had already gotten through Joni Mitchell and was halfway to Marvin Gaye. Let's face it, I don't force anyone to listen to hour after hour of Lou Reed or the Smiths or Nick Drake. Do I? Thank Christ he didn't have the cliché tastes of the average stereotypical forty year old queen. I think if I had to listen to more than two minutes of Barbra or Judy or Liza or goddamn Cher I'd have to commit fucking murder.
The lights were off, except in the bathroom. But I could see Ron was in bed, smoking a joint.
"Find my stash?"
"Brian, I found your stash the first week. It wasn't too hard to figure out. And, unlike Carmel, I don't think the computer will blow up if I get too close to it. Or the diskette boxes." He took a hard toke. "Nope. Jimmy gave me this. Pure Hawaiian. He must have brought it back from his stay at the house in Maui. He thought I might need it."
"Now why would he think that?"
"Wild guess on his part."
The suitcase was still lying in the same place on the floor, all the clothes I'd tried to push into it now trying to spill their way out again. I kicked at it, but it didn't move too far out of the way.
I pulled off my tee shirt and tossed it on the floor, then my black jeans. I wasn't wearing any briefs, of course -- that would have defeated the purpose of the evening. I went into the bathroom and tossed cold water all, trying to shock some feeling into myself. I looked in the mirror. Looking for some kind of change. One to match the beating I felt I'd just taken in my mind. In my heart. Oh -- wait -- you have to have one first to get that pounded. So I was okay there, right? But everything looked exactly the same, which just proves that the way something looks doesn't tell you shit. Not shit.
I snapped off the light and walked into the bedroom. Ron was still puffing on that joint. The smell of it filled the room and probably the whole house. Old Bob was still yodeling away on the player, but Ron had turned the volume way down.
I hesitated for a few moments and then got into bed.
"I'll drive you to the airport. I want to."
"I said I would drive you to the airport. I want to conclude this with a little dignity, rather than with some ridiculous scene...."
"I'll do it."
Now it was his turn to say, "What?"
"I said I'll do it. I'll play the part."
I felt something rising up from inside. And then I couldn't stop it. One sniff and the whole fucking thing let go. Ron put his arms around me and all I could do was try to hide myself. But I was shaking like a sick thing. I thought I was fucking losing my mind.
Ron just kept stroking my hair and pressing me to him. That's it. I'll always be some kind of child like that. I can never go beyond that in my life. I will never be any different. That's my fucking destiny.
"It's all right. I know I'm not 'allowed' to say it, but you know that I...."
"Don't fucking say it! Please...." I tried wiping my eyes. "Don't you know it's a curse? A fucking curse?"
"I would never have believed it, but you are as much a superstitious Irishman as if I'd just chased you out of a peat bog, you do know that?"
"So what? Don't you believe in fate? In curses? You believe in 'psychoanalysis' -- isn't that the same thing as 'fate' under another name? You are what you've been made by your family, your life, the whole world -- isn't that just a way to say you're jinxed? My God, I'd think a Jew would understand that even better than a goddamn Mick!"
"I guess it depends on if you look at it as an curse or an opportunity."
He reached over and put the joint into my mouth. It made me cough. Then I took another hit. The story of my life.
"So -- what the hell happened between the time you walked out of here like lion and came back in like a lamb?"
"Brian. Be real for one minute of your life."
I shook my head. That was the last thing I wanted to explain at that moment.
"Did you have a fight with 'him' on the phone? Hm? You know, one of these days you're going to have to let me know if this guy has a name. I suppose I could ask Ben -- but I'd rather you told me."
"It doesn't matter. Especially now."
"I see. Didn't he take the news of your return as ardently as you imagined he would?"
"He didn't take it at all. I didn't tell him."
Ron took the joint. It was getting down to the very end of it. "There was someone else there with him."
"Always on the money."
"Come on, Brian -- YOU are pointing the finger?"
"No -- but it wasn't a trick. That wouldn't have bothered me...."
He made a snorting noise.
"Fuck! Okay! So, it would have bothered me, yes! But... this is... someone I know. Someone serious." Mikey.
"Didn't you know this would happen? That it was inevitable?"
"Yes." I felt like about two cents worth of crap on the sidewalk.
"So, he's an asshole. Fuck him."
"No, he isn't. As much as I tried to turn him into one. He isn't."
"Well, then be glad of that. And be happy for him."
"I am. I AM!" I felt that tide rising up in me again, but I pounded it down, hard. "So, when are you going to make me a movie star? Tomorrow?"
Ron laughed, but then he said, seriously, "Brian, I don't want to screw myself over here, but I also want to know that you are doing this film for the right reasons and not because you're pissed off at someone."
"I'm not pissed off at anyone! But you tell me: what would be the right reason to do it? Really? You want me to do it. I guess Jimmy Hardy wants me to do it. So, I'll fucking do it! Don't question it."
"But I have to question it. Because I want you to know what it will entail. It's going to be a lot of hard work. Every day. You're going to have to train. Probably have to stop smoking, drinking, whatever -- at least for the duration of filming. Everything in your life is going to be disrupted...."
"My life is already disrupted. It has been for... a long time. Assuming my life was ever anything BUT disrupted." I pulled myself up on the pillow. "And do you really think I was spending all my days in Pittsburgh watching the soaps and doing my nails? I can take it! I was working my ass off. Why do you think I was so burned out on my job? Not really because I hated it. I fucking LOVED it. But I was tired... I was... I...." I couldn't articulate all the confusion in my own head, either then or now.
"Brian, I don't think you have any idea just how this process will take over your life. Especially in a role like this. You'll be under scrutiny by the studio. And then by the media...."
"No, Brian -- you can't fuck them! You will have to deal with them. Just like Jimmy does. Like I do to a much lesser extent." He ran his fingers through his hair, which he did when he was frustrated. "In a way -- it might be better if you DID run for it...."
"I'm not fucking running away! Not again!"
"I didn't mean that! I meant, it might be easier -- for your life -- if you got on that plane tomorrow and didn't look back."
"I can't. Not now. I fucking can't...." I sank down in the bed, wishing that it would suck me in, like huge sinkhole, and I'd never have to get out.
"Then, I'm glad. I'm so glad...." Ron rolled over on top of me and I forgot everything else.
Continue on to "Open Lines -- Part 2", the next chapter.
©Gaedhal, May 2002
Pictures of Gale Harold from Flaunt and Showtime.
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Updated May 18, 2002