This is Part 2 of Chapter 23 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "Drama Queen II - Part 1", the previous chapter.
I wake up in darkness and I panic.
Then my eyes take in bits of light. A glow from behind the window blinds. The clock radio. The phone. A small light in the bathroom.
My head feels drained of power. My hands are so heavy I can't seem to lift them. All my parts are disconnected. The only thing that feels alive is my dick. There's nothing wrong with that, as usual. When the world ends the only living things remaining will be the cockroaches and my dick. Always go with what never fails. And I always have.
My eyes accustom to the dimness of the room and I see everything in place. Nothing to fear. Then why am I petrified?
The air conditioning is on and I sense the brush of air through the vents. Outside the dog yaps. A car goes by far down the canyon. Everything echoes up here.
Ron looks like the one sleeping off a long, hard drunk. Disheveled. His mouth open. The skin around his eyes red and puffed.
I try to untangle myself from him. I can't remember anything. That's the high school girl's excuse, but it's true and that scares me. The doc's magic potion is good for all sorts of amnesia. Maybe I could just erase the last fourteen years. Oh, wait -- I tried that. It isn't working.
I've done a lot of things in my life, but fucking the unconscious has never been my thing. I like the other person to at least be THERE on some level. Ron doesn't have this same reluctance. I guess my physical presence has always been enough. It isn't required that my head be there, as well. My mind and soul might be in a vise, but there's nothing wrong with my ass. Why let it go to waste? I suppose that's a sentiment I should be familiar with. Now it only makes me hate myself more.
So, what is my purpose here? Or anywhere? I used to believe that surviving was enough. That being alive was the reward. Then, to be successful. To be the best, first at school, then at work, and then in the clubs, the baths, the alley. What a place to shine! This is the fitting end for the King of the Backroom -- somebody's bitch. Somebody's fucking poodle. Now, everybody's poodle. I'm surprised that they haven't held a lottery with me as the first prize. Maybe they have and I just don't know it yet.
I think of Diane and her stories of one audition after another spent on her knees in the offices of agents, producers, casting directors. At least she's cheerful about it. She can make it into a joke. But it's a fucking tragedy. And I had the nerve to feel superior to her. I owe her a fucking apology.
It's true that she talks more to me, relates more to me, probably gets more compassion from me than from her own lover, Jerry, the cowardly fuck. When I heard him twisting her arm and her yell, something snapped in me. Another bully, like my old man. And he's the 'normal' one -- the important one. Fucking Jerry is a paragon of the Industry. Diane -- she's just another trick trying to get by. When he drops her, it will be downhill all the way to the bottom. And I probably just guaranteed that that will be sooner, rather than later. Everything I touch gets fucked.
When I was in Diane's little bathroom, cleaning up, trying to look human again, I tried to shave with her pink razor. Shit, I couldn't make head or tail of it. It looked more like a clamshell than something to shave with. And it was so dull that it hurt dragging across my face. But it was a good thing because I had the overpowering urge to cut myself with it. To see if I could feel anything from the slash. But it passed then. I wonder if it will continue to pass.
There was a girl at the Kensington-Welsh Prison -- I mean, Center -- in Pittsburgh. She was one of the good Dr. Finer's patients, too. She was a cutter. I'd see her in the halls, at different therapy groups and other such bullshit, always with a new slash, a new scar, a new bandage. She liked the legs best, but her arms took the hit a lot, too. And I used to stare at her and wonder way she did it? How she did it? I'm not wondering now.
Some people love the outdoors, the woods and shit. But that stuff terrified me. I remember looking up into the sky after I got back from New York. It was a clear night. I think I was at Tim's then. It must have been. Yes, it was summer. And we were looking up at the stars and he said that every star had a story, going all the way back to ancient times. All the constellations with their names and myths. That you could make up a whole narrative by just running your finger across the sky.
But what I saw was fucking emptiness. A dark nothing going higher and higher and on and on. You could never get to the end of it, no matter how hard you tried. And that's when the panics began. The desperate need to escape, but you don't know from what. I guess, from everything. I guess, from yourself -- and that's the one thing you can't escape. Unless you put yourself out, like a light. Like a falling star.
And now they are back, except stronger than ever.
I'm afraid to look up at the sky now -- it might overwhelm me.
I lay there a long time, afraid to move. It must be afternoon or early evening, because I can still see light coming in. But I don't know what day it is. Is it still Wednesday? Was I at Diane's just this morning? It doesn't seem possible. A year must have gone by, at least. A fucking century, maybe.
I feel my face. The jagged shave I gave myself. A day hasn't even come and gone. How the fuck am I going to get through the rest of my life?
I must have dozed off again. All the sedative in my veins is starting to fade out. I wake up, startled. By myself.
Everything is quiet. It's finally dark outside.
I get up. I feel like I've been thrown from a moving car. Maybe I have.
I go into the bathroom and get into the shower. Fucking water pressure. I need to blow my head away, but it dribbles on me. This is no way to wash off the remnants of the worse days of your life.
And I fucking want to kill Ron. He doesn't know fuck-all who I've been with, what I've been doing. But does that stop him? He fucking 'trusts' me! He doesn't need protection! No wonder he waited until I was passed out. But do I 'trust' him? Fuck, no. I don't trust anyone. Especially not myself. And it's too late now.
I get out and look in the mirror. I look the same. How the fuck can I look the same?
I'm sure they expect me to be on the set tomorrow morning. Everything the same. Everything status quo. It's some scene with Jimmy. I'm supposed to look at him like nothing has changed. Like I'm the same person. And he will just go on in that bland, perfect way. And Ron will do his thing in his bland, perfect way. And the only insane element in all this is me. And I realize -- THAT'S what they are banking on. My insanity. My wild card. I can't fucking act, that's no shit, so the method is in making me as fucked up as possible. And that's what they'll film.
That's what Ron did in New York. He was like the guy on 'Wild Kingdom' -- you point the camera at the animal and let him do his animal thing. And that's what I did. Ron's mistake -- everyone's mistake, but especially Justin's mistake -- was in thinking that the animal could be tamed. Domesticated. It might work for a while, but I always revert back to type. Every attempt to become human is doomed to fail. I'm doomed to fail. Fail.
I shake myself out of a stupor, looking at the safety razor in my hand. This is not like Diane's little clamshell, this is the real thing. But even with this I couldn't do much more than make a few nasty, but ultimately pointless scars. Fuck, you can't even cut your own throat in this town! What a waste! I put the thing away without even attempting to shave. I'm afraid to try.
But there's one way to take control. One way to feel alive -- at least for a little while. One way.
I don't need to think about how to dress. How to 'get into character' -- I already am, naturally.
The black jeans seem loose. I'm losing what little ass I have. It's the fucking Mick in me. I've lost weight. When did that happen? When did I last eat something, really eat? I can't remember. Fuck it. What's in front will always balance it out.
Tee shirt -- black or white? Then I see the red one. Yes. I put it on and admire myself. Yes, I would fuck me. Even after all I've been through.
Boots. The work boots. Nothing with too high of a heel. I don't want to intimidate them. Not like I wanted to intimidate that fucking Ross Preston at Jimmy's fake 'rehearsal.' Man, that was a put-up job. And I walked right into it. I'm supposed to have some kind of awareness, but Jimmy and Ron played me like a fish. It doesn't matter now. Nothing matters now.
My hair's still long for the picture. It's harder to keep in order, sticking up worse than ever. But that could work. No looking too orderly. I haven't shaved since this morning. But, it's not bad. Even the ragged look could work. It wouldn't do to look too much like the fucking poodle they've made me into.
Fuck Armani. Fuck Prada. I push the suits and shirts back and paw through my jackets. Not the Hugo Boss. Not the Italian thing. Or the brown one that feels like leather silk. In the back I have an old motorcycle jacket I bought at the Goodwill in Pittsburgh. I remember picking it out of a pile of junk. Mikey said that it smelled like motor oil. A little of that still clings to it -- at least in my imagination. It's heavy, like armor, with thick buckles, and lots of deep pockets. Perfect.
I fill those pockets with what I'll need.
How many packets? Always take more than you think. Better to be safe than caught short. Or unwrapped. I've never been that stupid. Almost never. One tube. Almost full. That goes in the inside pocket.
No wallet. No I.D. No Driver's License. No nothing. Nothing they can trace you with. I think about taking a cash card or credit card, but that's too risky. I take whatever bills and change are on the bureau. I root through Ron top drawer and find some more cash. I take it.
Finally, I open one of the drawers in Ron's antique dresser. It's full of linen handkerchiefs. They smell like cedar. Some are initialed "RJR." His mother's idea. No Kleenex for her boy. They are beautiful. Hand-stitched and almost too nice to blow your nose in. Or whatever. I stuff a couple of them in various pockets.
I also slip one of Ron's old watches into my pocket. I don't want to take one of the good ones, but this old Timex will do. Again, I think it's a gift faux pas from Mom a number of years back, but it's serviceable. And I'll need some sort of time piece.
The final thing. I take out my cellphone and make a call. Now, I never call a trick, but this one has some residual interest. I met him on the set (of course). Works for catering, which means he's a waiter, of sorts (of course). I'm so fucking predictable I even bore myself. I've called him a couple of times before, but I have to be careful about this. Ron would freak out more than with anything else. But this is a necessity.
I get the guy on the phone. He can do business with me. I've got the cash in my pocket -- plus I'm good for any shortfall and he knows it. I click off and clear all the stored numbers. Then I program in '911.' Just a little precaution. That proves I'm not completely off my rocker. Right?
Getting out of here is the next obstacle. Ron is in the office with the door closed and I hear the television. He rarely watches TV, so he must be running videos. Porn, probably, if the door is closed. Locked, too, I'd guess, so Carmel doesn't wander in and have a fucking heart attack.
That's a boon for me. I go out the front door and avoid the kitchen altogether. If I passed Carmel and Maria's suite they would certainly hear me and sound the alarm. Or Armani would raise the house. But no one goes in or out the front door unless there's a party. I follow the walk around to the garage and open the door manually, trying to be as noiseless as possible. The Mustang turns over and I back out. Even if they heard me now, I'd still be home free.
Sure enough, I haven't been on the road for three minutes when the cell starts up. It goes and goes and goes.
What the fuck.
"What the hell do you think you are doing? Get back here and go to bed!"
One out of two isn't a bad guess. "I'm visiting a sick friend."
"Are you fucking nuts?"
"Yes. Any other cogent points you'd like to make?"
"Brian, come back. Please. You're not well."
"Well enough, apparently. Well enough."
"I'll call Dr. Hall and have him bring another sedative."
Sure. Right. I'm coming back for that. "I have my own self-medicating plans for the evening. My pharmacologist has already been alerted."
"Jesus Christ -- what are you trying to do to yourself, Brian?"
"Why, everything, Ron. I thought that was obvious."
"Turn around now and come back."
"So sorry, this machine goes only in one direction. As I said to someone younger and wiser once -- there's no turning back. Later, Ron."
I cut him off and ignore the calls that keep coming.
And I keep going, straight -- or not so straight -- into West Hollywood.
Continue on to "Waiting for the Man - Part 1", the next chapter.
©Gaedhal, June 2002
Picture of Gale Harold from Flaunt.
Updated June 7, 2002