This is Part 1 of Chapter 88 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "Safe and Sound", the previous chapter.
The narrator is Justin Taylor, featuring Brian Kinney.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: A few snapshots from our vacation. England, August 2002.
Disclaimer: This is for fun, not profit. Watch Queer As Folk on Showtime, buy the DVDs, videos, and CDs. Read the stories and enjoy.
"Brian! Be careful! You're on the wrong side of the road again! I mean -- the right side! You should be on the LEFT side!"
We are careening down a very narrow and winding road somewhere outside of Bath. There are high hedges on either side, so you can't see around the curves. You can't see very far in front of you, or behind you. It's a little like driving through a green tunnel. Luckily, there are no other cars in sight. Or people. Just sheep. Everywhere you look there are sheep.
"I know! I KNOW! Don't fucking confuse me!" His hands are gripping the steering wheel.
"You're going too fast!" I try not to let any panic into my voice.
"I'm going the speed limit -- I think." But we do take the next curve on all four wheels instead of just two.
"What IS the speed limit?"
"Something in kilometers. I can't remember. How many kilometers in a mile?"
"How should I know, Brian? The USA never did go metric! Listen, I just don't want to get killed here -- if you don't mind. My mom wouldn't like it if you brought me home in a little sandwich bag!" I'm supposed to be holding the map for directions, but mainly I'm using it to cover my face.
"I KNOW what I'm doing! Jesus." And Brian does slow the Ford down. We come into a section of road that seems wider. And the hedges seem lower, so it isn't as claustrophobic. "Why don't the Brits just give up and drive on the same side of the road as everybody else? It's just sheer perversity on their part that they won't!"
"So, the entire country should change the way they drive just to accommodate you, Brian?"
"Why not?" he says. "You changed the way YOU do everything to accommodate me!"
"If that's what YOU think, Brian, then that's what you think!" I answer. I want to remind him that HE is the one who has really done a lot of changing on this trip. Making changes that I never thought I'd see.
We come to an area of open fields, criss-crossed by hedges. The road is still narrow, but we can see a small rest area next to a stone wall ahead. Brian pulls the Ford over and stops. I can see that he's sweating.
"I think I'm getting the hang of it!" he says, looking at me for reassurance.
I put the map down and move over closer to him, trying to avoid the gearshift. "I think you're doing just great."
"Really? Even the thing with the truck back there?"
I shudder just a little. "No one could have dodged that truck better than YOU did, Brian! It's too bad we don't have the Jeep here -- it isn't you, it's this car! You aren't used to it."
"Damn straight! It IS this car," he says. "I knew there would be trouble when they didn't give me the model I ordered!" He takes out a pack of cigarettes. "Just one?" he asks my permission.
"Okay, but let's get out in the air first." It's August and my allergies have been flaring up and cigarette smoke in a closed place aggravates them.
We both climb out of the Ford and stand by the stone wall. Brian takes a drag of the cigarette. I know he's nervous. He tries to hide it, but he can't hide anything from me. Everything he does tells me. The cigarettes. The frustration with the car. The look in his eyes when he thinks I'm not watching him. But I'm always watching him.
He takes a few puffs on the cigarette and then stamps it out on the gravel. I touch his arm. "Look, Brian! There's something you don't see every day in the English countryside!"
"What?" he looks around, puzzled.
I point over the stone wall at the next field. "Sheep!"
"You little twat!" And he bends down to kiss me.
"Brian! I have to get this doll for Molly!"
The gift shop in Bath is full of excellent things, including all kinds of china plates painted with scenes of Bath, little replicas of thatched roof cottages, and antique prints of hunting scenes. But the item that really catches my eye is a full set of dolls of the Six Wives of Henry the Eighth.
"What? Not the whole set?"
"I don't know -- I've bought Molly two dolls already. But this one -- look at the dress! See the little jewels all around the edge. And the necklace. She'll love this!" I trail my finger over the dark blue material, which is embroidered all over with golden thread and tiny pearls, as well as the little fake diamonds along the neck and sleeves.
"Which 'Wife' is this one?"
I check the tag hanging from her hand. "Anne Boleyn. It says she was Wife Number Two and the mother of Queen Elizabeth the First. And that her dress is authentic in every detail. So, this isn't just a great doll for Molly -- it's educational, too!"
"Anne Boleyn, huh? I'd say she's not very authentic at all."
"What do you mean, not authentic?"
When the shopkeeper isn't looking, Brian picks the doll up off the shelf and twists the head this way and that. Then he sets it back on the shelf. "She's supposed to be Anne Boleyn, right? So -- she should come with a removable head! Otherwise -- non-authentic."
"Brian! I'm not giving my sister a decapitated doll! That's gross!"
"Then skip Anne Boleyn." He picks up a different doll, with blonde hair. Her dress isn't as pretty. "Try Anne of Cleves. Henry divorced her because she was too ugly."
I grab the doll out of his hand and put it back. "I don't want to give my sister a doll of an UGLY queen!"
Brian looks at me like he's thinking of a really rude response about certain ugly queens, but he bites his lip, trying not to laugh. "Then I would try for a whole different historical period and forget the Tudors altogether."
"If we keep driving along this road, we should eventually hit something," Brian says, meaning a town. Because we are lost. Very lost.
"Don't say 'hit,' Brian. Please."
He glances at me sideways. "I'm not going to fucking hit anything!"
"Well, what about that sheep about five miles back?"
"I did NOT hit that sheep!" Brian protests. "It got out of the way just in time." But he keeps peering out the window, watching the road carefully.
"Why DO you think there are so many sheep around here, Brian? I mean, I've seen about two hundred sheep for every one person."
"It's all that tweed the English wear. Tweed is made out of wool and the wool has to come from somewhere."
"You wanted to buy that wool sweater back in Stratford, but it stunk like crazy!" I say. "I know you think I'm being bossy, but I'm not going to let you buy a smelly sweater, Brian."
He pouts at me. "It was a good deal. That sweater was hand-knitted! And I think the smell was just a little sheep dip."
"Sheep dip?" I say, skeptically. "Who would dip a sheep? In what? And what for?"
"Fuck if I know. Maybe to keep bugs off them?"
"Eww! So, then who would buy and wear a smelly, buggy, dippy sweater, Brian?"
He frowns. "The Brits, I guess." He sighs, because I know he really wanted that awful, stinky sweater. "And me."
"I'm not staying here! This place is a fucking DUMP!" says Brian, slamming the guidebook down on the hood of the rental car. I wince, afraid he's left a big dent. But Brian doesn't care. He's still mad that it isn't the car he originally ordered. "What good is this fucking thing if you can't use it to find a place to stay?"
"The book only gives suggestions, Brian. It doesn't guarantee that they are going to have a vacancy," I explain. This is the seventh bed and breakfast place where we've tried to get a room.
"There MUST be some other place in Ambleside where we can just find a decent spot to sleep!"
"But every other place we've been to has been full, Brian! Except the youth hostel." I pause for the full effect. "There WERE beds there."
He looks at me with horror. "I'm NOT staying in a DORM with a bunch of BACKPACKERS!" Brian says 'backpackers' like someone else would say 'serial killers.'
"Then I think we should take this room. Or else we'll be driving all over, looking for the next town and a place to stay there." Ambleside is a little town near Lake Windermere, which makes it a perfect base for the whole Lake District. That also makes it crowded. Very crowded. It's August and the whole of Europe seems to be on vacation. And they all seem to be in Ambleside.
This particular Bed and Breakfast isn't too bad. It's clean, at least. But there are no private baths and the only room they have available is about the size of the shower stall in the loft. But Brian is used to posh. Brian is used to luxury. He's used to the Chatterton. He's NOT used to a bed, a wooden chair, and a sink in a tiny room with the window facing a garage.
"If we take the room, then we can get something to eat and still do some sightseeing before it gets dark."
"There's probably no good place to eat around here, either!" Now he's finding reasons to be obstinate. That's always a bad sign.
I decide to play my best card. "Brian," I whisper. "Let's take the room. I'm getting horny." I trail my hand down the back of his shirt and rest it against the waist of his jeans. "I want you to fuck me -- NOW!"
He frowns. He glances at me, and then at the B & B. I can sense that he's getting hard thinking about it. We've been driving all day long and didn't have time for even a blowjob before we had to check out of our hotel in Bath because we overslept this morning. That's what happens when you spend the entire night seeing who can rim who the longest without making the other person come. Brian actually won, but with a game like that there really are NO losers! But we did oversleep.
But now his mouth is twitching. Brian considers for another minute. Then he grins and takes my arm and we march back into the B & B. "ONE night! Then we find some place better, okay?"
"Sure, Brian. That's fine with me." Brian is SOOOO easy when you know how he works. All I want to do now is get to that room!
He's at the desk, signing the register and paying for one night's stay when a troop of large, burly guys comes into the lobby. They are all sweaty, pushing each other and joking around. Brian and I both watch them pass through and up the stairs.
"Who are those guys?" Brian asks the woman in charge.
"An Australian rugby team. On holiday."
Brian turns to look at me, lifting one eyebrow. Then he opens his wallet up again and takes out a few more bills. "We'll stay two nights. At least."
"You can't possibly be hungry already! We just ate breakfast two hours ago!"
And it was a full English breakfast at the B & B -- including bangers, a rasher of bacon, Wheetabix, fried bread, fried eggs, baked beans, and a fried tomato. Brian actually had a piece of bacon with his toast and black coffee. I had the rest.
And I was starving at breakfast. We spent the previous evening at the pub, where Brian and I challenged the Australians at every pub game imaginable, including skittles, darts, and tiddly-winks. Of course, we lost everything at the beginning, but as they got drunker and drunker and the two of us stayed sober, we started to beat the pants off them. But not literally. Not anymore.
At one point Brian leaned over to me and whispered, "There was a time when I would have taken on this whole crew. So how come I'm going to fuck YOUR brains out and no one else's tonight -- but I still feel I'm getting the best of it?"
"I don't know," I answered. "But we better go RIGHT NOW!" And we did. The little room at the B & B wasn't exactly the Chatterton, but I don't know when we've ever had such a testosterone-fueled fuck! The old bed rattled so much I thought it was going to collapse under us! It must have been the vibes from all those soused and randy Australians!
So, I ate like crazy at breakfast. But it's not even noon and I'm hungry again. We are walking up Loughrigg Fell. It's a mountain that isn't too steep and there's a good view from the top of the lakes below and the mountains all around. If we GET to the top! Brian and I aren't exactly champion hikers. We get most of our exercise indoors. And not by walking!
"It might help if you had on better shoes for the climb, Brian." I'm wearing my running shoes, which are pretty comfortable for going a distance. But Brian is a different story.
"These boots are practically new! There's nothing wrong with them at all!"
"But, Brian. I don't think Prada intended their boots to be used for hiking."
"It's no problem," says Brian. "As long as we stop to rest at suitable intervals." The only difficulty with THAT is that every time we stop to 'rest' we end up making out. And we are going up the mountain at a fairly slow pace as it is, which is obvious when two little old ladies and their Jack Russell Terrier pass us going up the trail. It's a good thing they didn't pass us about fifteen minutes earlier, I think, or they might have seen me giving Brian a leisurely blowjob under a very picturesque tree just off the path!
But you can still get pretty ravenous just walking, even if it's really slowly!
"But it's time for Elevenses, Brian!"
"Elevenses?" He tilts his head at me. "Where did you get THAT one from?"
"Hughie. It's from 'Winnie the Pooh'!"
"That figures. Everything about Hughie just SCREAMS 'Winnie the Pooh'!"
"Elevenses is what you eat between breakfast and lunch. Then Tea is what you have between lunch and dinner."
"Just keep walking," sighs Brian. "Because unless we reach someplace with a restaurant or a pub, you aren't going to get twelveses, thirteenses, OR thirty-sevenses. Because we'll STILL be walking -- trying to get OFF this fucking mountain!"
Brian is STILL trying to find a hand-knit wool sweater. We are in about the twentieth wool shop we've been in since we left Harry's house, but Brian still hasn't found what he wants. I'm not sure exactly why he wants one of these sweaters. Like I said, they have a weird smell and they itch when you put them on. My skin is too sensitive, I guess, because that scratchy feeling drives me nuts every time I try one on -- I don't care how warm the things are!
While Brian is trying on sweaters, I wander over to the corner where they have a selection of hats. I start sorting through them, getting excited.
"Brian!" I say, holding up a hat. "I HAVE to have THIS!" The hat is made of a stiff wool material that comes to a point on top, with the flaps pulled up, and a pointed bill.
He puts down the sweaters and comes over. He picks up the hat and turns it in his hands. "Are you kidding? That's a deerstalker cap!"
"It's just like Sherlock Holmes' hat! I WANT one!" I stick it on top of my head. All I need is a big pipe and a cape to look just like a real detective.
"That looks ridiculous! You can't wear that, Justin!"
"Why not? I like it." I check myself out in the mirror. I think it looks cool.
"Well, first of all, it's ugly!" Brian makes a face. "And second of all, it's too fucking small." He takes the hat off my head. "Why don't you try one of these flat caps, like the cabbies in London wear?"
Brian selects one and puts THAT on my head. It sits on top like a pancake. "This one's too fucking small, too! They must have some bigger hats around here!"
"Why don't YOU get a hat, Brian?"
"I don't wear hats!" he scoffs.
"Because when I put on a hat..." he shifts around, uncomfortably. "I look like a fucking hillbilly!"
"Oh, you do not!" Brian has some of the oddest notions about himself. Someone must have said something to him ONE time -- but that's enough for him to go hatless for the rest of his life!
"I do!" he insists. "But I'm NOT going to demonstrate right here!"
"Well, I still like the Sherlock Holmes hat!" I put it back on -- and Brian whips it off my head!
Brian picks up another style. "Try this. It's like one of those mod hats. Like John Lennon used to wear. That would be cute on you with your longer hair." He feels a strand of my hair curling slightly around my ear. It HAS gotten a lot longer since I left the States.
I try on the mod cap. It's also smaller than my head.
"Jesus," says Brian. He taps on my head with his finger. "What's inside that thing? Is it growing?"
"My head is exactly the same size it was a month ago, when we came to England," I sniff. "Or six months ago. My HEAD isn't growing -- and neither am I! Let's face it, Brian -- I've already had my growth spurt. THIS is it!" I turn away, a little hurt. Brian is so tall that sometimes it makes me self-conscious that I never will be any taller than I am right now.
"It isn't your height that concerns me right now -- it's that head. Christ, what a cranium! How come I never noticed your head was that big before?"
"Because you were always too busy looking at my cock?"
"Well, there IS that," he admits. "And it's a lovely cock, too," he lowers his voice so the salesman can't hear. "And I know every INCH of it, if I may say so." Brian crouches down a bit and puts his head next to mine, comparing the two in the mirror. "You ought to be nicer to your mother, you know that? Just for giving birth to THAT! I hope you sent her a really great birthday present!"
"Brian! Stop!" He has his cheek pressed right up against mine, still looking in the mirror.
"Have you ever actually LOOKED at your head, Justin? That's a huge melon, and I mean it! It really IS fucking bigger than MINE!"
"I said stop!"
"No, really. Your mom should get a medal -- 'For Conduct Above and Beyond the Call of Duty'! It's a wonder she was ever able to walk again!"
"Will you just give it up?" I push Brian away from me. I'm still trying to find a hat that fits. Without any luck. And without any help from Brian.
"You know what they say about big feet, big dick?" he reminds me. "Too bad it doesn't work with big heads!"
I reach up and grab him by the chin. "I've NEVER had any complaints before! Maybe it isn't MY head that's too big, Brian. Maybe it's YOUR head that's TOO small!"
"I don't think so," he snorts. "Nothing I have is TOO small!"
And he's definitely right about that!
Continue on to "Four Seasons in One Day -- Part 2", the next section.
©Gaedhal, September 2002
Picture of Gale Harold and Randy Harrison from "OUT."
Updated September 22, 2002