This is Part 2 of Chapter 52 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "All the Good Ones Are -- Part 1", the previous section.
Narrated by Tess Hardy, featuring Brian Kinney, Jimmy Hardy, Ron Rosenblum, Annie Hardy, Diane Rhys, Justin Taylor, Lindsay Peterson, Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Tess Hardy details her encounters with Brian, December 2001- June 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.
I'm the Perfect Hostess. Everyone says so. My friends. The columnists. The magazines. Everyone.
I always know exactly what to do, how to proceed, what to say. Always.
Except when I don't.
Except when I'm sitting in my perfect house, with my table perfectly set, dressed in my perfect way, waiting for my guests.
Waiting to sit and eat and entertain a group of people, just as I have been doing for the fourteen years of my married life.
I'm good at this. Extremely good. Jimmy takes a lot of upkeep. He doesn't have many friends outside of Ron, but he has many, many acquaintances, many business associates, many co-stars, many fans. All need to be assuaged. All need to be catered to. All need to be entertained.
That's my job. I'm the Perfect Hollywood Wife. With the Perfect Hollywood Husband.
I stand at the door, but refuse to open it. Once Jimmy gets in, he never leaves. Ever.
"What are you doing here, Jimmy?"
"What do you think? I've come to whisk you home to your castle in Beverly Hills!"
"Go away, Jimmy." I start to close the door.
"Jimmy -- I'm not ready to talk to you."
"We finished re-shoots yesterday. We can go away for a little vacation. To some place you like. Maui...."
"Anywhere but there! Please! I don't think I could take it, Jimmy!"
"Okay, okay. Anywhere you want to go. I'm willing. I'll go the extra mile, Tess. My Tribute is coming up. I want you to be there with me."
"Do you, Jimmy? What's the point?"
"If it wasn't for you I wouldn't have done a fucking thing. You know that. Everyone knows that."
"You say that, but it sounds pretty hollow."
"The shoot is over. I'll... never see him again. I promise! I fucking SWEAR!"
"I don't believe you, Jimmy. I bet you called him before you came here. I bet you called him in the car before you came to the door? Am I right, Jimmy? Tell me I'm wrong!"
"Well, I have some important calls to make myself."
"What is more important than this, Tess?"
"You should have thought of that before, Jimmy. You should have stopped and thought about it first. But you didn't. And now what does it matter? What does it mean?"
"Everything, Tess. Everything!"
"Brian, what's the matter?"
"Nothing. I just fucking hate holidays. Christmas. New Year. Anything. It doesn't matter."
It's a brilliant day. The sky in Hawaii is so blue. You'd never believe it's the first day of the year.
Some of the wreckage from the party the night before is still visible out on the lanai and in the living room. The cleaners came early this morning after the caterers dismantled their tables and equipment, but stray glasses and plates, an empty bottle of champagne, and paper napkins are strewn about here and there.
Brian is sitting out with Annie, looking at the ocean. It's almost as blue as the sky, but there's a dark undertone in it. There's a storm lurking in it.
Brian hasn't changed his clothes from last night. The velvet jacket looks rumpled in daylight. He looks rumpled. Annie is stroking his hand as they stare off into the distance.
"I think I need to go home."
"But we aren't leaving until next Sunday. We have the house until then. Then you'll get back to L.A."
"I don't mean L.A."
"Then where, Brian?"
He shakes his head.
"Annie, honey? Could you get us some juice? Ask Mani to make up a tray and bring it out here, okay?" And my daughter goes off.
Now I sit where Annie was and put an arm around him. Us Italian broads from Chicago don't take no for an answer when it comes to feeding people or comforting them -- whatever it takes. But I have no idea what it takes for this enigmatic creature.
"You and Ron....?"
"I know a little of the story. Jimmy showed me the film."
"Then you know all there is."
"I can't. There must be more. That's a film -- and so long ago. What about your life up until now?"
"Fucked up. Fucked up before. Fucked up after."
"I don't believe it."
"I owe him. Fourteen years. I always pay my debts. Always."
"Brian -- that's no way to look at this! You don't owe anyone anything!"
He shrugs his shoulders. The black velvet looks rusty where the sun hits it. His hair glows almost dark golden in that same sunlight. But his eyes are rimmed with red.
"You should warn everyone you know, Tess -- everything I touch turns to shit."
When Diane Rhys contacted me I was hesitant to see her. She's Jerry Baxter's mistress and. although I loathe Baxter's pretentious and boorish wife, getting friendly with Diane was crossing the divide -- going over to the other side and bringing comfort to the non-wives. And I have a responsibility as a wife to uphold our positions. Dealing with Diane would be tantamount to undermining that stance.
But it was about Brian and so I saw her.
I listened to her pleas to get him out of the Spencer Pavilion. She ranted on about Ron and Jimmy -- charges too ridiculous to believe, but that's Diane's way -- and Brian's psychiatrist and a big conspiracy. Personally, I thought it was all so much crap.
But I didn't want Brian to rot away in that place any more than Diane did, so I called my own doctor, Dr. Krishnan, and put him on the case.
"You know, Mrs. Hardy, I hesitate to contradict another physician...."
"But, I examined him and I agree that he seems overly medicated and non-responsive. I don't think it's purposeful. I think it is that they believe he will do harm to himself."
"And I'm in agreement with Diane Rhys about that, doctor -- I think it's not likely."
"But he's in for an overdose and suspected suicide attempt. From what Dr. Hall told me, he's a danger to himself and others."
"I just don't believe that, doctor. Can you get him out?"
"Are you willing to take that chance? That he won't do harm to himself?"
"Well, Diane is convinced that if he stays in there much longer, it won't be a question of 'if' -- but 'when.'"
"I'll see what I can do, Mrs. Hardy."
"Tess, you have to help me!"
"Ron, I've told you before -- there's nothing I can do, you can do, or anyone else can do! You can't control someone like Brian with a ring and ceremony. You can't control ANYONE with it! Things work or things don't work. It's a relationship, not a magic spell."
"But you have such a successful marriage. You must have a secret. Something that you say? Something that you do?"
"It isn't like that, Ron. Especially if you can't even get him to TALK about it -- how are you going to get him to go through with it?"
"I don't know, Tess. I'm at my wit's end here."
"Leave it, Ron. Just leave it. Because if you're that desperate then something is wrong -- fundamentally wrong. You might be better off to bring the whole thing to an end rather than trying to lock it up in a cage. Trying to lock HIM in a cage."
"I can't! What will I do then? What?"
"I don't know, Ron. Just try to live your life as best you can. Like we all do."
To survive in Hollywood you have to learn to take a punch. A punch to the head. A punch to the gut. A sucker punch. You learn to take them all and keep smiling. That's a part of being Perfect.
Maybe that's why I've befriended Diane, against all my better judgment. Against the advice of all of my friends. Against Jimmy, too.
Because I was once in her position. I was the mistress.
The co-star, actually, doing the star on the set while the wife was at home -- aware, but helpless to do a thing. That's when I thought I would have a career. I hadn't seen the writing on the wall, yet. But I won the Hollywood Game, anyway. I stood my ground and dug in and stayed the course.
And so I became the wife, sitting at home. Learning to take what my predecessor had not been willing to endure. The casual screw on the set. The affair that ends when the filming ceases. The infatuation that threatens to become something more. And so I have survived.
This is the punch I never saw coming, so I find it harder and harder to come up smiling and Perfect.
This one I don't know how to manage because I didn't believe it was possible.
Until I saw it myself.
Which was why it was so disconcerting, so disappointing, so utterly, utterly disillusioning to walk in and find Brian fucking my husband.
Everything is Perfect, as usual.
My table. My dress. The food. The house.
Annie is so excited she can hardly breathe.
Jimmy is getting dressed in another room so we don't have to talk.
And Ron comes in looking the way he usually does lately -- like he's been run over by a semi and doesn't realize he's dead yet.
We should have a nice long talk sometime, Ron and I. It's overdue.
And Brian comes in looking... Perfect. And why not? Every single person in the room is in love with him. How could he NOT look Perfect, be Perfect?
The woman and her baby. Brian's baby. Does this guy have a complicated life or what? The baby is too cute. I wonder what HIS story will be, twenty years down the line?
Lindsay. She's quite lovely. Elegant. Exactly the kind of well-bred blonde I aspired to be when I was growing up in that loud, dirty, sprawling family in Chicago. The kind of woman I tried to talk like and walk like when I first got out here and started looking for work. The cool blonde type. I worked it and worked it and worked it with all my might. But she's it, naturally.
I ended up with all the hooker and dope addict and nun roles. Meeting Jimmy and stealing him was a relief.
Now, if Brian thought Jimmy was even worth stealing, I'd be terrified. But I realize now that he doesn't want to steal Jimmy. Doesn't really want him at all. Never did, probably. It's the other way around. And that is both better AND worse.
And this Lindsay has brought her brother along. Here's an interesting little conundrum. Because both Ron and Jimmy are snarking off the kid. Who seems so harmless. Shy. He looks around my house with innocent appreciation. He smiles at me, disarmingly.
I seat him next to Annie at the table. She is now officially in love, again.
And Jimmy is playing the role of a lifetime. Too bad he can't submit THIS for consideration by the Academy. But he's overplaying it a bit. He's pushing. Jimmy is always better when he underplays. That's why he's the Perfect Light Comic Actor. Except, he doesn't want to play THAT anymore. Now he's an ACTOR. A Serious Actor.
Except -- when Brian is in the room he sucks all the air out of Jimmy. You can see him deflate right before your eyes. Reduced to a supporting player next to Brian's larger-than-life presence. Suddenly, I am dying to see 'The Olympian.' Dying to know if what I see in the room is also on the screen. And if it is... then nothing will be the same after that. Nothing.
And I was the one who sprung Brian from that box. What if he'd stayed in the Spencer Pavilion? Doped up, tied up, out of the picture in every way. Where would we all be today? Right now? But I can't even consider that, because it was the right thing to do then. It was the only thing I could do.
Because by then it was already too late.
Someone was heading for heartbreak. I felt it all the way back on Maui over that beautiful New Year.
I just never thought it would be me.
Continue on to "Stable Venture", the next chapter.
©Gaedhal, July 2002
Send Gaedhal any comments, critiques, suggestions.
Updated July 18, 2002