This is Chapter 57 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "Sunday Morning -- Part 3", the previous chapter.
Narrated by Ron Rosenblum and Brian Kinney, with Carmel, Eugene Majeski, Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Scenes from a 'Marriage' Not by Ingmar Bergman as Brian and Ron 'negotiate' their relationship. Los Angeles, June/July 2002.
Author's Comments: This is the third chapter based on William Blake's series of poems. Thanks to Susan for the beta-ing and other support.
Disclaimer: This is for fun, not profit. Watch Queer As Folk on Showtime, buy the DVDs, videos, and CDs. Read the stories and enjoy.
"But most thro' midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlot's curse
Blasts the new-born Infant's tear
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse."
from "London" by William Blake (1789)
I don't usually answer the phone myself, letting Carmel or the machine get it. But I was standing right there and something told me to pick up.
"Brian?" A male voice. Of course.
"No! Who is this?"
"This is Eugene Majeski. Who is THIS?"
"The photographer? This is Ron Rosenblum."
"Yes. I was told this is Brian Kinney's contact number. I didn't know it was your office, Mr. Rosenblum."
Okay -- this might be business. This guy was very well-known. The name was in the back of my mind for some reason.
"I was the photographer on the 'Vanity Fair' shoot -- last week?"
"Of course. Mr. Majeski. How could I have forgotten?"
"I wanted to say that those proofs are quite amazing. I thought Brian might want to come by my studio and look at them. Graydon isn't promising anything, but I think we may have a cover in this. Obviously, the decision won't be made by me -- but I think he'd like to see them."
"A cover? For 'Vanity Fair'? Really?"
"Yes, probably the November issue. Maybe October. When is this film scheduled to premiere?"
"Right -- to coincide with that."
"What about Jimmy Hardy?"
"I think Graydon was leaning to December. The Christmas issue is always big and he'll want to save a big star for that one. Brad Pitt was on last year."
"I know Ellen Tasko has been trying to get back to him to set up more interview time. He might want to call the office and work that out."
"Ellen Tasko? Why would he talk to her?"
"For the profile. They've decided to do a full profile instead of just photos. She tried to talk to him that day, but it was rather hectic in the studio. She'll need to do a full interview with him."
"A full profile and the cover. That's big news."
"I'm not promising. Remember, that isn't my decision. But, as I say, some of these proofs are amazing."
"I'd love to see them."
"Well...." This guy obviously was sick of talking to me. When was he going to get to the point? "If you would be so kind as to give me Brian's home phone number, I'd like to call him. He could come over and see the photos, maybe have a little lunch. I'd like to do another session. Maybe some fashion this time. I'm thinking 'GQ.' Or some test shots. Whatever."
"I thought the session was for fashion shots."
"Well, we ended up not using any of the clothes. They weren't right anyway. What we got was much, much better. So, if you could give me the number...."
"He's very busy. He's leaving for London in a few days and doesn't have time to fool around with that right now. Maybe when he gets back."
Majeski laughed. "Are you trying to blow me off, Mr. Rosenblum? Don't give me the studio treatment. I know he's gay -- believe me -- I KNOW. Sending that woman and baby along didn't put ME off, no matter what. Ellen Tasko may buy it, but I know better. Especially after that shoot... it was fucking hot."
Now I was getting angry. "That has nothing to do with it, Mr. Majeski -- he's leaving town to begin another film."
"Sure. What about a number for the kid? I can't remember the name -- I don't have the release in front of me. The blond?"
That fucking Justin! "He's out of town."
"I'd actually like to get together with both of them. Maybe later in the summer? You can tell them that, Mr. Rosenblum -- with or without the camera. See? I'm not afraid to take the direct approach. I'll get his number somewhere else if you won't give it to me."
"I'm hanging up now!"
Fuck! Fuck! FUCK!
I walked into the kitchen and I knew there was trouble the moment I saw Carmel's face. She handed me my coffee.
"What's wrong now?"
"Hm!" She flounced her head in the direction of the pool and turned her back on me. It was awfully early in the morning for her to have had a run-in with Brian, but that was obviously what had happened.
I went out on the deck with my coffee and saw someone sitting at the table, also drinking a cup and reading the morning paper. Someone I'd never seen before in my life. He looked up at me.
"Good morning. You're Ron Rosenblum. I've seen you at various functions, but we've never been introduced."
"And who the fuck are YOU?"
"Oh, sorry." He stood up and offered me his hand. He was short and muscular, dark, in his thirties. "Eugene Majeski. We talked on the phone."
"Right. I mentioned those proofs to you on the phone. They are damned good. You should come over and take a look at them. I think I told you that Graydon was thinking of a cover."
"Yes, you said." I paused, trying to think. "So, you came over here this morning in order to talk to me about some photo proofs?"
He smiled. "Right. Sure." He took a sip of his coffee. "By the way -- I spoke to your maid in English, Spanish, AND Portuguese and she didn't respond to me in any of them. I had to help myself. She does speak, doesn't she?"
"Carmel is a little temperamental. No offense, but what the fuck are you doing here?"
He just looked at me. "You're joking, right? You wouldn't tell me how to get hold of Brian over the phone -- Why didn't you tell me that he was staying here in your poolhouse? Luckily -- he sort of found me. It was serendipitous."
"Found you? Where?"
"At the Lagoon," he said, referring to a tacky club on Santa Monica. "You should try it. It's a little loud, but sometimes you really strike gold, you know what I mean?"
"Get the fuck out of here!"
"What is your problem, man?"
"What about GET THE FUCK OUT do you NOT understand?" I snatched the newspaper out of his hand and threw it on the table.
He stood up. "Oh -- I get it now." He picked up the cup and drained his coffee. "That's good stuff. Your maid may not be very friendly, but she makes a good cup." He stood up and stretched his stocky body arrogantly. "I've got a Vogue shoot in about an hour, so I have to run. But give Brian my regards. Tell him I'll give him a ring."
"Like fuck you will."
"Not to state the obvious, but it looks like you don't have that much to say about it." He turned to go, but then stopped. "Oh, the thing about seeing the proofs still goes. Nice to meet you, Ron. Good luck with the film -- it should be beyond hot." He pointedly looked at the poolhouse and then walked out through the kitchen.
I burst into the poolhouse, the blood pounding in my face. Brian was sprawled on the fold-out, his mouth open, sound asleep.
"What do you think you are DOING?"
He opened one eye. "I thought I was sleeping, but I'm obviously mistaken." He rolled over and covered his head with a pillow.
"Who the fuck was THAT?"
"That fucking photographer?"
"Oh -- he did that shoot the other week. Pictures look good. He's getting me one of Gus to frame."
"I'm not talking about THAT, you son of a bitch!"
"Oh. What ARE you talking about, Ron?"
"Excuse me for a minute. I have to piss like a racehorse." He got up and lumbered off to the bathroom. I watched him cross the room, naked. He looked fucking amazing.
He came out a few minutes later and fell back into bed. "I don't have anything until this afternoon, so -- if you don't mind...." He closed his eyes, dismissing me.
"What about that... Majeski guy?"
"What about him?"
He lifted his head up and stared at me. "You really should give Eugene a call, Ron. He's a real starfucker. He'll bottom out for anyone who has his name in the columns. So he ought to be perfect for you."
I've been listening to one of Ron's diatribes for about forty-five minutes when I finally decide I've had enough. "If you're finished, I think I'll be going out."
His face changes immediately. "Going out? Where the fuck are you going?"
"There's that party at Blast tonight." I name a bar with a hot reputation. But it isn't a place for sightseers or guys in suits from Beverly Hills.
"Blast? Why would you go THERE?"
"Peter invited me." I check my hair in the mirror.
"Peter Bridges?" Ron is now following me around the room. Peter is one of Ron's oldest friends and a complete ass -- but an ass with a show at Number 11 during the last Sweeps Period.
"Yeah. I've seen him -- around." I pull two tee-shirts out of the drawer. Ron still hasn't gotten over me telling him about that blowjob Peter gave me way back in February. Ron has a memory like a fucking elephant. Luckily.
"What do you think? Red or black?"
I put on the black and toss the red one in my open suitcase. "You can come with me if you want to. But I know you don't want to."
"Brian -- don't be a dick right before you're leaving for a month!"
"Why not? I'm a dick all the time. Why change now?" And speaking of dick, I slip off my briefs and then pull on my jeans, buttoning them up tightly over my cock. I stand back and look, then undo the top button. Then I put my boots on and sling my leather jacket over my arm. Ron is watching the entire process intently.
"I'm heading out, Ron. I feel the need to pump up my 'resume' a little before I leave town." I pat his cheek. "Don't wait up."
It will be so easy to get poor old Peter back to that poolhouse it is positively criminal.
So, arrest me.
I'm not due to leave on the first leg of my trip until the evening of the Fourth of July, two days from now, but I've been finished with my packing for three days and I'm getting antsy.
I keep putting things into my big suitcase and then taking them out. I find myself pacing back and forth like a tiger, going from window to window. I'm looking for something. An escape hatch. A fucking way out of here. But more than that. Something that I had and never realized. Something that is still just out of my reach....
This house is closing in on me like a fucking cage. And I'm working at the one weak spot in the bars. Working it a tiny bit, day after day.
Carmel isn't speaking to me anymore at all. Just as well -- I like the silence.
I take long drives up the Pacific Coast Highway. I never did get to take that drive with Justin before the shit hit the fan and he got on the plane. There may still be a chance later in the summer. Who knows what can happen in a month or even two?
And then with the fall will be all the garbage with the film. The studio will own my ass and I won't have a minute to myself. There will be press junkets and interviews and more fucking photo shoots. Ron warned me, Jimmy warned me. If I want to have a fucking life, I have to do it now, because soon there will no time even to think.
Maybe that's not that bad a thing, since thinking always leads me down some roads I'd rather not travel. But right now I'm thinking of real travel. I'm already long, long gone in my own imagination.
Ron is on edge like a prizefighter in training, just spoiling for it. Okay, if that's what he wants, it doesn't bother me. As long as he doesn't pretend he can get the better of me. He can defeat me in a lot of ways. Using emotion -- he knows I can break down over something that a normal person would take for granted. Like a fucking kind word. Or even a memory. That's bad -- memories.
And playing on my guilt. Because that guilt is always there, not far from the surface. Ron's own desperation is so real that it comes off him like an animal smell. And that's what always drew me back -- the idea of someone even more damaged than I was. Damaged because of me. Not injured and healing, like Justin. No, I see Justin as strong -- young and able to get over anything. He's a survivor in every way. But Ron is terminally damaged, always begging me to put him right. That's a laugh, when I could never put myself right!
But it was that very desperation that ruined everything. When I think of that camera, watching me, I know that it was never really about me. It was about Ron and his fixations. About his need to put a chain on me and not let go. It's still about that. Destroying Justin was just part of the whole for Ron. That's his way of showing his love! But it was the last straw for me. And it's made me as cold and relentless as he is.
Now he'll have lots and lots of chances to work out his frustrations after I'm gone. He'll have plenty of footage to watch. Lots. I made certain of that. A nice variety, too.
I've discovered Venice Beach. It's like a fucking supermarket down there. All you have to do is point. Piece of cake. And I've been doing 'research' in some of the punk clubs in Hollywood and Silverlake. A surprisingly fertile ground. Some really grungy specimens. And the leather strip in West Hollywood is always easy, if a little cliche. And, of course, as many of Ron's friends and acquaintances as I'm able to work in during the short period of time I've had to operate. And that has been quite a few. Amazing how many of them are so willing to fuck their good pal over. I know I've said it before, but people really are shits.
The best -- and one of the simplest -- would have been Jimmy, of course. He's always dropping by or calling and wanting to do things. I went out to the track with him the other day to look at the damned horse and he was getting feely in the fucking car. So, yes, it would be no chore at all to get Jimmy into the poolhouse for his moment in the spotlight. That would kill Ron to see -- he's infatuated by Jimmy and always has been, although he's too much of a wimp ever to act on it. That's where I come in, I think -- a sort of surrogate. But knowing that we've done it and actually seeing it being done are two very different things.
But I keep thinking of the look on Tess's face. Thinking of Annie. And I know that there's at least one line I've already drawn in my head.
Of course, once I got back into the swing of things it was second nature. Second nature, indeed. That poolhouse will need a good airing once I'm gone. I wouldn't be surprised if Ron doesn't just burn the fucking thing down. That would really be funny.
But the thing that astonishes me is how little actual enjoyment I'm getting out of the whole thing. Instead, I'm proceeding with a kind of grim determination. The revenge aspect feels rotten and the sex is boring and perfunctory. Even the hunt has begun to lose its luster. I'm at the point where it doesn't matter who it is -- I'm not even bothering to be selective, just grabbing the nearest and easiest. As long as I can get them in there and get it over with, that's all that's important.
And then I think of Justin, sitting at Diane's kitchen table, shaking like a sick puppy. And I steel myself to carry everything out just the way I've planned it. I think of that when I look at Ron's wretched face. Ordinarily that would stop me. Bring back all the feelings of guilt and obligation and whatever the fuck has kept me here for all these months. All those tender feelings that lingered in the back of my mind for all those years. I smother them all with thoughts of Justin's hysteria.
But I'm thinking that maybe Ron needs one more thing. One of my specialties. One of my patented pushes over the fucking cliff. And this one will be a pleasure. A horrible pleasure.
It's the day before I'm due to leave. Tomorrow is the Fourth. I've set everything up carefully. Nothing overt -- I've been such a cold bitch lately that too quick a change of mood would immediately alert him.
First off, yesterday I stayed in all day and didn't go out in the evening. Carmel is suspicious of that. She isn't talking to me, but she's definitely still watching me. She knows something is up long before Ron does.
Today I just hang around the pool. I need a drink, but I can't let myself get drunk and lose focus. So, I lay in the floating lounge chair, nursing an Absolut, reading 'GQ.' Periodically, I get out of the pool and reapply plenty of sunscreen. I'm not supposed to arrive in London looking tan. If I thought my dick wouldn't get fried, I'd lose the trunks, but I can't take that chance.
Ron is supposed to be working in his office. The infamous office. I can't even walk by the door without thinking of him luring Justin in there and then setting the kid on fire. It makes my anger cold. Cold and clear, just like the glass of Absolut.
But Ron can't stay in that office. He keeps coming out for stupid reasons. Asking me pointless questions. Going up to the bedroom and looking down from the balcony. But I just do nothing. I've only been fishing a few times in my life, but the one thing I remember is how you have to stay completely still and let the fish come to you.
I've got my big suitcase and suitbag up in the bedroom, rather than in the poolhouse, because my clothes are all still there. That gives me a good excuse to go up after I'm sick of the pool. Of course, I've actually finished packing. I'm ready to go right now. But it's the pretext of packing. Being in the room, dressing and undressing. I'm enjoying the tease because I know he's lurking around, observing everything. I hope he relishes being a voyeur, because that's all he'll ever be with me from now on. It's the perfect role for a filmmaker -- I hope he enjoys watching those videos over and over again. I hope I look good enough to eat in them. Good enough to fuck. In his mind!
I go into the bathroom and take a long shower. A really long one. To say that I'm not horny would be a lie. This is as good a place as any to blow off some steam, since I won't be going out tonight, trolling for 'Candid Camera' candidates. That's finished now. We are heading into the final stunt.
And Ron keeps coming into the bathroom. What a surprise. He hasn't seen me up here much -- if at all -- in the last week and a half. But Ron is of the school that believes that all you have to do is wait something out and it will be okay. He obviously thinks that this philosophy has worked this time as it has in the past. Because I always broke down and came back, even if it was grudgingly. Even if it was under emotional duress. He thinks he has me figured out. He thinks I'm as transparent as glass. We'll see.
I jack off as quickly as I can. I don't want to be winning the battle and then lose the war by not being in control. I need that famous Kinney control more than ever. Because I have only one real weapon at my command. He's been serving me well up until now -- we'll see how He stands this one last test.
I turn the water off and shake myself as dry as I can. Then I come out and stand in front of the mirror. I don't take a towel or even try to dry myself, but just let the water drip onto the bathroom floor and the throw rug. I fool with my hair, rubbing some coconut conditioner into my hair. It smells like Maui and that makes me flinch. Ah, Maui! I guess THAT honeymoon really is over.
I know he's checking me out from the bedroom. I can hear him moving around in there, walking past the open bathroom door. I wonder what he would think if he knew that I fucked Justin in here twice while he was in town. I should have done it more, too. But I can't start thinking of that or I'll just get hard again too fast and I have to focus on the matter at hand.
Or in hand. Because Ron comes into the bathroom and tries to take things in hand. He must be about fucking ready to explode by now, I think. Especially if he's been watching any of the Poolhouse Follies. Especially since he knows I'm leaving and really has no clue when I'll be back.
He runs his hands up and down my wet shoulders, down my back, my waist, my ass. I'm steeling myself now, because what I most want to do is turn around and knock him down. But I can't -- yet. His arms go around me and his hands up my chest, rubbing my nipples, leaning against me. I can feel his cock pressing. He really is ready to explode. But I can't let that happen quite yet.
I slide myself out of his grasp and go into the bedroom. I retrieve my jeans, tee-shirt, and the shirt I'm planning to put on, and start to get dressed.
"Are you going out?" He asks, tentatively.
"No, I thought I'd hang around here tonight. Since I'm leaving tomorrow night..."
"Do you really have to stay in New York for two days? What's the point?"
"I want to see New York again," I lie, since I have no plans to be in New York at all, other than to change planes. "It's been over a year since I've been there."
Now Ron is the antsy one. He can't be still. While I'm going very slowly, deliberately. Bullshit stuff. Moving things around. Picking things up. Waiting for him to pop.
"Before you go...."
"What?" I turn and look at him. And here is where I almost stop the whole thing. This is the point at which I always lose the game, if there's a game to be played. Because it's still Ron -- even if he is a fucking bastard and a creep. I can't forget everything. Not everything that happened all those years ago. I think of being afraid in the dark. Ron stroking me. Telling me that I'm beautiful. Protecting me from Stan, who I thought was lurking in every shadow, waiting to grab me. I think of....
I have to reach up and rub my little charm. Rub my fingers across the little enameled heart. I really am getting superstitious. But I need this to protect me. To remind me of the job at hand. Of what is important. It gives me a new surge of resolve.
He comes around behind me again. Maybe he thinks if he doesn't have to look me in the eye, he won't betray himself. But it's too late for that. He betrayed himself the minute he proved that he didn't trust me by putting that camera in. And he doomed himself by filming me and Justin. That I can never forgive.
"Before you go -- please...? I know you're pissed at me. I know I was an asshole to your...." He's careful here. "Your guest. But you have to understand how I feel. You can understand, can't you? Can't you?"
"Yes, I can understand." I turn around and back him up until he sits down on the bed. "I can understand perfectly." I push him down and open up his pants. Unbutton his shirt, very slowly. Everything very deliberately. Focused. His eyes are burning. His cock is burning. Just right.
I take off the shirt I've just put on, then pull the tee off over my head. I lean over him, almost touching -- but not quite touching. My dick is pressing against my pants and I unbutton my fly. Slowly. Very slowly.
I think Ron is about ready to scream.
"I'm really fucking horny," I whisper. "I can't stand it -- do you know what I mean? Do you know what it means to want something so much and have it just out of your reach?"
"Yes! I know... I know...."
"It's too much. Too much," I say, hovering like a falcon. My dick brushes against him and he shudders. He reaches up and takes hold of it firmly. But I stay in control. Concentrating. "When you're that horny -- when you are THAT close, then there's only one thing you can do about it, right, Ron? Right?"
"Right. Fucking right!" His voice is quaking.
"Only one thing. And I can do it -- right now...." I whisper hoarsely.
"Yes -- right NOW!" He is so on the edge that he's hanging by a fucking thread.
"And that is -- to go." I unwrap his hand from my cock and push myself off the bed. I button up my jeans.
"Go?" He gapes at me, stunned. "What the hell do you mean -- GO?"
I lean down, close to his face. "I told you I was so fucking horny, Ron," I say. "So, there's only one thing for me to do."
"What's that?" He suddenly looks like he's been punched. He's beginning to realize. To understand. And that will do -- for now.
I slip my black tee-shirt back on and put my shirt on over it. "Why, I have a car waiting to take me to the airport. Right this minute," I say, closing up my big suitcase and zipping it around.
"But where, Brian? Where the fuck are you going?"
"Why, to Pittsburgh, of course. To Justin." I turn and look at him and smile. "Where the fuck else?"
Continue on to "The Hustle", the next chapter.
©Gaedhal, July 2002
Updated July 25, 2002