This is Part 1 of Chapter 23 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "Stonewalling", the previous chapter.
The narrator is Brian Kinney, and features Ron Rosenblum, Carmel, Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: April 2002. Brian comes back to the house, but he's not home free.
Disclaimer: This is for fun, not profit. Watch Queer As Folk on Showtime, buy the DVDs, videos, and CDs. Read the stories and enjoy.
I pull the Mustang into the garage next to the Mercedes. I drove out of here sometime Saturday evening and it's now Wednesday, but it feels like years have gone by. Like if I go into the house it will be filled with other people -- strange people I've never seen. I wish that were true.
Instead, I walk, a little unsteadily, into the kitchen and the dog is waiting, barking and wagging, jumping up on me.
"Oh my God," says Carmel, looking up from the table. Maria turns from the stove and stares. Carmel stands up and points at me.
"Where have you been? You...!" she spits out a word. My Spanish is non-existent, but I've been in California long enough to recognize that one. From personal experience.
"How observant you are -- finally! Just don't make the same mistake and call Ron that -- his Spanish is a lot better than mine."
I move right past them and down the hall to the office. I have to sit down, quickly, before I fall down. And I'm not even drunk.
I'm holding on the phone when Ron comes in.
"What are you doing?"
"Trying to make my reservation to Pittsburgh." I have the strangest sense of deja vu -- I've been on this phone, trying to get a ticket to Pittsburgh before. How come I can never get there, then?
"Put down the phone. My travel agent will arrange it."
"I'm doing it myself."
He starts to protest, then gives it up and leaves.
When I come out he is on the chaise lounge next to the pool, the dog on his lap. I go and stand over him. "That's my usual sulking spot."
It's getting hot. The sweat is pouring off me. I take off my leather jacket and toss it over onto the bar. I start to walk over there to get a drink, but he touches my leg
"When are you leaving?"
"The Sunday after we finish."
He moves his mouth around. "But what about retakes? And dubbing? Publicity? There are a hundred things we'll need you for...."
"I'll be back in two weeks."
"Two. I need two fucking weeks to myself."
"Listen." He's still holding on to my left leg. I feel his fingers digging into my calf. "The house in Maui. It's yours for two weeks. We'll fly you out there -- private jet. The place is fully stocked and staffed. No one will call you. No one will bother you. Not me. Not Jimmy. You can do fuck-all. Swim. Sit in the sun. You'll come back rested and in a better mood. What about that?"
I look down at him and shake my head. "Ron, all I was doing HERE was sitting in the sun. Swimming. Doing fuck-all. And I almost went out of my head! Now, I'm REALLY going out of my mind! I have to get away -- and I mean AWAY! From you. From Jimmy. From the girls in there..." I point the favored finger in the direction of the kitchen. I hope they are watching. "From the studio. From the fucking picture!"
"Your analyst says that..."
"Fuck my analyst! He's just another asshole in your pay and in the studio's pocket! I'm breaking down and my fucking analyst is telling me what I have to do for 'the good of the picture'? Fuck THAT!" I pull my leg away and stand back from the chaise. The last thing I need is Ron pawing me.
"If you go to Pittsburgh for two weeks you won't come back!"
"Yes, I will. I give you my word!"
"I said I will come back. I said I would do this fucking thing and do it right -- and I will!"
Ron makes a skeptical sound and starts to get up off the chaise. I lean over and grab him by the shoulders, pushing him back down, getting into his face. "I know that the word of a $50 whore isn't worth much to an upstanding citizen like you, Ron, but even in Hollywood it must have some cache. Especially in Hollywood, where everybody is a fucking whore and it really IS only the location and the price that makes the difference. That's the best offer I can give you. Unless you really want me to end up in the locked ward...."
I pause and get the shakes a little. I release his shoulders and stand up straight, trying to clear my head. "Because I've been there before. I can take it. But your fucking film won't get finished if I lose it. If I... lose it completely...."
I turn away from him and try to walk to the house. Ron is up and after me. He takes hold of my belt and pulls me. "Hey, that's MY trick..." I start to say, but I'm dizzy. I have to sit down somewhere. I try for the chaise, but end up on the cement. I'm seeing stars.
"Brian!" Ron has my face between his hands and is trying to jolt some sense back into me. That's always been a losing battle.
"Do you hear me?" he says. "I'm sorry! For everything. For the way I did things. All wrong. For the way it's all turned out. The way... I'm just sorry! I didn't mean it!"
"Sure, Ron. Sure you did." I have a hard time focusing. "You lied to me. I should have expected it. Everyone lies to me. Everyone. Everyone -- always out for themselves."
I think of people I count on not to lie to me, but to tell me the truth, even if it's fucked up. Mikey. Lindsay. Deb. Vic. Emmett. Fucking Ted. Even fucking Melanie. Justin. None of them here. No one. Because I ran from them? Ran from the truth? Right into the fire.
Ron's eye are blue, but they aren't that truthful blue. That guileless blue. His are relentless, not innocent. They wouldn't trust me for a second. They know better. They know what I am. They aren't fooled.
"You knew I was in trouble! You used me -- worse than the rest. You said you'd watch out for me! Take care of me!" My voice feels tight in my throat, like I'm strangling. I'm gasping for air and my heart is pounding.
"When? Brian, be fair -- I never said that!" He looks far away. Different. Everything looks different.
"You did, Ron!" I can hear him in my head -- it isn't the dope I hear, but real words. He can't deny it! "In your apartment. In your fucking bed. You said it. And you fucking LIED!"
"Brian, that was over fourteen years ago!"
I'm dizzy again. "It was?"
"Sit up here." He tries to help me into the chaise, setting me on the edge The dog is fawning on me and Ron dumps him off the chair. "Put your head between your legs and see if it will pass. Try not to fall forward."
I hear him call for Carmel. For her to bring some water. A cold cloth.
I feel myself slipping forward. Something feels hot on the back of my neck. The sun. Then I feel like ice. I put out my hand and touch the cement to hold myself. My hand scrapes hard against it and I see the blood, but I can't feel it. "Shit."
"Here. Lean back." Ron tries to get a water bottle in my mouth.
"You'd have better luck with a bottle of Jim Beam. There's one in the bar."
"Fuck that. Drink this water. Slowly." He takes the cloth. "What have you done to your hand? Damn it." I feel a little gravel scouring my palm as he wipes away the blood.
Carmel stands over me, scowling, holding a towel and some ice in a dish "Ron, do you know that Carmel finally knows a faggot when she sees one? She is one sharp cookie."
He looks around at her and gives her a withering glance. "Let's not start that shit now. Either of you. The important thing is to get you upstairs. I'll call the doctor and have him come over and take a look at you. I should have done that the first thing, but you fucking dashed out of Diane's! You were lucky you didn't end up over the side of the canyon!"
"My Mustang knows the way home all by himself. I just give him his head and he goes."
"Very funny, cowboy."
But that's the last thing I hear before the stars in my head all fall down on me again.
The doc comes in and tries to talk to me. It's my analyst. I thought Ron was getting a real doctor, not this shill for the studio.
"Brian." He talks to me like I'm a kid or an idiot boy. "I'm going to give you an injection."
Ron is holding down my shoulder. I begin to panic. I can't stand the needle. I don't mind a snort, but I can't take the other. "Ron -- don't let this bastard spike me. Please."
"It's just a sedative. You'll feel better when you wake up."
"I'm the least trouble when I'm unconscious -- but give me a bottle and let me do it myself. Don't turn me over to him!" I stare at the shrink. He knows all about me. He doesn't give a shit. He'd as soon kill me with that shot as cure me with it. He smiles that superior smile. It's too late.
The shot makes me float about three feet over the bed. It feels warm. I get that feeling I haven't had in ages. That feeling that even the booze can't match. It takes over like gold running through you.
"Ron, how nice of you to cop for me. It's good shit."
"Shut up. You don't know what you're saying."
"Oh, but I do. Your dealer has a nicer suit, but he's peddling the same stuff. Pacification for the angry. Oblivion for the manic. I could get used to this. And you can afford it now -- you don't have to pawn your computer or use your grant money to buy it for me, either. You just call this fine gentleman here -- and he comes with his needle."
I'm nodding off. Thankfully.
It might be hours later. It might be days. It might be another universe altogether. Everything is blurry when I open my eyes. The stars circle around, like I've been staring into the sun.
There's a big chair in the corner. It's usually covered with clothes or junk piled on it, but Ron has cleared it off and is sitting there, watching me. At least, I think he's there. I'm not certain of anything now. I barely know where I am. What I am.
I still feel the golden high of the doc's magic stuff. But it's tapering off. I'd like a little more. Sooner than later.
"Than what? A kick in the head?" Or a bat to the head. That's the ultimate, I want to say. The ultimate amnesia. What a joke on me.
"Jimmy's called here about twenty times."
"I thought you'd like to know."
Why? Why would I like to know? "What does Jimmy want? Tell him to come back tomorrow. The store is closed for today."
"Brian, you shouldn't have messed with him. That's your problem."
"THAT'S my problem? That's IT? Did the shrink tell you that? Is that going to be in the studio newsletter under: Brian's Problem This Week, Chapter Number -- how many weeks have we been shooting?"
"It doesn't matter."
"I know. That's what I've been telling you!" I try to lift up my head, but it's so heavy. Like it's full of bricks. "Something is sucking the life out of me, Ron. I think it's you." My head falls back.
"You're doing it to yourself, Brian. Try to relax. Don't fight it!"
"I have to fight it -- or I won't survive! Don't you see? Don't you?"
"I think you're just talking nonsense now."
"Jimmy. I expect it from him. He's a player -- anything you want to hear, he'll provide it. He's the King of Players out here. Mr. Major Movie Star!" My head is throbbing again. "Only, this time something is playing HIM! Maybe he can't control it. Maybe he's in deeper than he thought and doesn't know how to handle it."
Ron levels his eyes at me. It's that cold blue that goes right through me. "He's in love with you."
That makes me sit up. Or try to. "Fuck that! Love is bullshit! It IS! He's just infatuated with the sex. Like they all are. Always." I lay my head back down before it explodes. "After all -- that's all that's there. All there is to me."
"You still can't believe that anyone could really love you for YOU, yourself? You can't allow yourself to believe it."
I think about Justin. This is bad. I can't let my mind go that way. But I did nothing but think about him the whole time I was at Diane's, hiding away in her bed. Under her hideous pink and blue quilt. She has those same blue eyes, the trusting ones. The ones that will always believe in you. The ones you will always let down.
And now something bad will happen to her, too, just like it happened to Justin. Because she took me in. Because HE took me in. People think I took HIM in, but it was the other way around. That's what they don't understand. Like Ron took me in -- and look what he has become. Something soulless. Something cruel. Something like me. I'm worse than a disease.
"I just confirmed all your worse fears, Brian." Ron is talking, but it's from another century. "I promised and I used and I betrayed. But that's how it happens. You grow up and become something you can't recognize. But I didn't mean to do it to you. I really didn't. I'm sorry."
"Mea culpa, Ron, mea maxima culpa? 'Confiteor Deo onmipotenti' -- I have sinned exceedingly in thought word and deed, through my fault, my most grievous fault!"
He stares at me. "What the hell are you saying? What is that?"
"Confession, Ron. What else?" What does he think it is? What else will do here? See, Father Tim was useful for something, after all. "Next time, bring the fucking priest instead of the doc and we can end this whole thing. End it all."
He's shaking me now, but I feel like I'm sinking again. I see a tangle of images, but none of them are here right now.
Nick's pizza place. The smell of burning food makes me ill, especially if it's time to cop. Ron asking me questions. Pointing his lens in my face. Relentless as always. Doesn't he know that if he doesn't let it go then we'll both be lost?
Watching people skate. It's a cold, sunny day and I feel my face raw and alive in the wind. All the tourists circle the rink, taking photos of the skaters, of each other. This is like having a life. Something you want to keep and look at again and again. A winter day that you don't mind remembering.
Ron in his apartment. He's too young. How did he get so young all of a sudden? Clean-shaven. His thick dark hair curly and clean-smelling. His clothes rumpled, but spotless. He touches me gently. He doesn't slam me around. He doesn't look at me like an unwanted thing. He brings me a bag of bagels. Magazines. A new pair of jeans. A white shirt wrapped in tissue paper from a fancy store. That fucking ugly red shirt that I think is so shiny and beautiful I never want to take it off. It sticks to my skin like a blood stain.
Something is running down my face like wet fire. I wipe at my face with my hand, but my hand is burning, too. I'm losing my mind.
"It wasn't me. It was never ME. It was Jack all the time. Jack. Not me."
"Then let Jack go. Let him go, Brian." Ron's voice sounds soft. Soothing, close to my ear.
"I don't know if I can. I've tried."
"You have to -- or you're going to break apart."
"I already am. I'm breaking up." Like the last raft from a sunken ship. There's nothing else to cling to.
"Don't break up. Don't. Not now. Don't you understand? I thought you were fucking dead!" His mouth is on my neck.
"Then I'm not? I must be still alive, then. Somewhere."
Continue on to "Drama Queen II - Part 2", the next section.
©Gaedhal, June 2002
Picture of Gale Harold from "Flaunt."
Updated June 5, 2002