This is Chapter 11 of the "Queer Realities" series.
Go back to "Queer Theories" for the very beginning of this saga.
The narrator is Justin Taylor, and features Brian Kinney, Jennifer Taylor, Gus Peterson-Marcus, Lindsay Peterson, Melanie Marcus, Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Sunday is anything but restful for Brian and Justin.
Disclaimer: This is for fun, not profit. Watch Queer As Folk on Showtime, buy the DVDs, videos, and CDs. Read the stories and enjoy.
"The monkey knows how you'll react,
Creating want by holding back,
Like some reverse pyromaniac --
Let me try, baby, try.
I propped my window up and then
I turned my back to lure you in,
To rifle through what I might have been,
Let me try, baby, try
Baby, please -- let me begin,
Let me be your heroin.
Hate the sinner but love the sin --
Let me be your heroin."
The phone rings. And rings.
Who the fuck is calling at 9:00 on a Sunday morning?
"Let it go to the machine," groans Brian, flipping over and putting the pillow over his head.
I let it go to the machine.
"Justin!" I hear a booming, pissed off voice.
Brian painfully picks up his head. "Shit!" he says.
"This is Howard Sheldon. Please pick up this phone! Now!"
"Don't pick up!" whispers Brian, as if Howie Sheldon can somehow hear him. "Don't fucking pick it up!"
"Justin," the voice continues. "I know Brian is there with you. I've had detectives tracking him and I know he was at some club in Pittsburgh on Friday night. Plenty of people saw him there. And they also saw YOU taking him back to your place. You can ignore this message, Justin, but it would be a bad idea. A very bad idea. Brian MUST go back to rehab. If he doesn't, he's going to be in deep trouble -- and I'm not kidding! Not merely with the police, but also with the studio. He has a contract to fulfill and a film that starts shooting in May. If Brian isn't ready to face the cameras by the time the shoot begins, he'll be in violation of his contract and we will have no alternative but to take action against him. This can get extremely ugly, Justin, so take that into consideration. Tell THAT to your boyfriend! Call my office first thing Monday morning -- without fail. Goodbye and have an enjoyable Sunday."
Brian snorts. "'Goodbye and have an enjoyable Sunday'! Fuck YOU, Howie, you self-hating faggot!" Brian gets out of bed and stalks to the bathroom, scratching his ass and mumbling to himself.
I follow him. "Brian, would it hurt you to at least call Sheldon back and try to work something out?"
"Howie's bluffing," says Brian, as he pisses. "They can't start shooting until they have a new director -- which they don't. Eastwood's already said that he doesn't want to star AND direct it himself, so they have to get someone else and it has to be someone with enough balls to control a major project like this. Which means that they have to get one of the big guns, like Spielberg or Coppola or Anthony Minghella or Ang Lee, or maybe one of the hot new guys like Sam Mendes or Todd Haynes or even Dorian. Until then, Howie can threaten me all he fucking wants! I'm not in danger of delaying the film! And I'm NOT going back to L.A.! I'm not going to Haven of Hope or Desert Palm or the Spencer Pavilion or Betty Ford or Promises or Hazelden any of their other little summer camps for over-medicated prima donnas! Been there and DONE that! So fuck IT!" He punctuates his words by flushing the toilet, as if flushing the whole problem away.
"But Brian," I reply. "If Howie Sheldon knows you're here, then the next thing you know he'll be showing up at the door! Then what are you going to do? You can't hide in the loft and pretend that everything is fine forever!"
"Why not?" he says, gazing at himself in the mirror. "Isn't everything fine? Just fine." Brian smiles at himself slightly. "Care to join me in the shower?"
I sigh -- but I join him. That and the session of after-shower fucking takes up the rest of the morning.
"Justin. It's me, honey. Please buzz me in."
I turn and grimace at Brian. "Jesus. It's my mom." After we had a very quiet Saturday yesterday, which Brian really needed to recover from the excesses of his 'escape' from Haven of Hope, today the loft feels like Grand Central Station.
Brian takes a deep breath. "Let her in, Justin. If you lie to her you'll just have to cover it up later."
My mother sails through the door with groceries and I take the bag out of her arms. "I want you to come to dinner tonight, honey. I was just on my way home from an Open House this morning and...." She stops dead when she sees Brian standing there in the middle of the loft in a pair of his old 501's, a sleeveless white tee shirt, and bare feet. The way he looks the most amazing, I think. "Um... Brian. Hello," she says, recovering from her initial amazement.
"Hello, Mrs. Taylor... Jennifer," he says, rubbing the top of his nose and sniffing.
"But I thought that...." Mom looks at me in confusion. "Justin said that you were... I mean...."
I put the groceries on the counter. "Brian's switching rehab, Mom. He's going to be at a place closer to Pittsburgh." The words just come out of me, but as I say them I know that's exactly what we're going to do. Because I agree that Brian isn't going back out to California. No fucking way!
"Oh, that's... nice," Mom says. She smiles, but it's pretty forced.
"That way I can be near Brian while he's finishing up his treatment," I add. "He's doing just great, so far. Aren't you, Brian?" I stare at him. If I were close enough I'd give him a kick.
"Yes, doing great, Jennifer. Just great," he nods. When Brian and my mom are in the same room he always looks like he's facing major surgery -- and she has the knives.
Brian and Mom stand there, staring at each other. It's like that scene in 'High Noon' where the sheriff faces the outlaws. That's one of Brian's favorite movies -- he loves Westerns. But my mom isn't exactly an outlaw. I guess, she's more like an 'in-law' -- although I'd never say that to Brian because he would completely freak out!
Mom knows that Brian is not doing great. She knows it's all a fucking sham, but she goes along with it. She's grinning at Brian and he's grinning back at her and I'm feeling sick to my stomach. I know I'll hear about this later -- from both of them.
"Would you like some coffee, Mom? I just made a pot." I busy myself in the kitchen, looking like I'm doing something. Anything.
"I'm glad you're coming along so... so well, Brian," Mom says. "And you're going to be in town, too. How... nice."
"Maybe not in town, Mom, but somewhere close." I pour a big mug of coffee for Brian and add the sugar. A lot of sugar. "It's not set exactly where. But Los Angeles is too far away."
"Yeah," says Brian as I push the mug into his hands. "Los Angeles is too far." Brian looks at me seriously. "I need to be close to Justin while I'm doing this."
Yes! I want to yell! That's exactly IT! And Brian is saying it! Saying it to me. But also saying it to my mother, which for Brian is tantamount to a commitment to go back into treatment. Because he might bitch at me and blow off Tess and even Howie Sheldon, but Brian takes what he promises my mother very, very seriously.
"So, that seems very, um, heartfelt, Brian," Mom says. She's smiling with her mouth, but her eyes look worried. Very worried. "Because Justin is committed to staying in Pittsburgh and finishing his education, aren't you, Justin?"
"I'm 'committed' to doing whatever it takes to help my PARTNER, Mom," I say, pointedly. And Brian only winces slightly. Really. I swear.
"Of course, honey," she says, brightly. Mom is using her 'Country Club' voice. That means she's not about to get into it with me right now, especially with Brian in the room. "Do you boys want to come to dinner tonight? The invitation still stands."
I glance at Brian, but before I can open my mouth to decline, he swallows and says, "I think that would be very nice, Jennifer. We'd love to come."
I can't help it, but my mouth drops open. "We would?"
Brian turns and gazes at me. His eyes look intensely green. "Yes, we would."
"Wonderful," Mom answers in her cheery country club voice. She picks up her purse and leans over to give me a kiss. "I'll expect you both at around 6:00, then. Okay?"
"Okay," I say, and then I escort her out the door of the loft. "What the fuck was THAT all about?" I ask Brian after the door is safely shut.
"I think I should go. WE should go," says Brian, staring into his cup. "Your mother invited us and... well, I don't get that many invitations these days." Then he smiles his weird little smile.
"Brian? Do you actually want to go there for dinner?" I prod.
Brian sighs. "Not really, but I'd rather go there than sit around here, waiting for Howie Sheldon's detectives to bang on the door and try to drag me away."
"They wouldn't do that!" I say. "Would they?" But Brian just shrugs. Shit! Maybe they would!
"But one thing I'd like," Brian adds. "Do you think that... that I could see Gus? I mean, before I have to leave town again? Whenever the fuck that will be."
"You aren't leaving town, Brian! We'll find a place here. I'll ask Ted about the place he tried to get Blake into. I guess it's pretty good."
"Jesus," Brian whispers. "Now I'm on the level of goddamn Blake!" Brian always used to snipe about what a total loser Blake was -- and also Ted for putting up with him. "I guess I really have fucking hit bottom."
"No you haven't!" I retort. Now I'm angry. "You've had a set-back, but that's not hitting bottom, Brian! So don't say that!" I start cleaning up the coffee cups and putting away the groceries my mother brought.
Brian wanders back up to the bedroom and flops down on the bed. He seems so depressed that I think seeing Gus and then going over to my mom's place might help distract him. Well, a little bit. I call Lindsay and tell her that I want to stop by to see Gus this afternoon before I go to my mother's for dinner, but I don't tell her about Brian. Lindsay is delighted that I'm coming and she starts to go on and on about her Lamaze classes and all the preparations for the baby. She and Melanie are arguing over names -- again. Looks like I'm going to have to step in and name this kid, too!
I walk back up to the platform. "Brian, get up!" I order. "We're going over to see Gus!"
He lifts his head up. "Did you tell Lindsay that I was here?"
I hesitate. "Well, not exactly."
"You thought it would be better if I were a pleasant surprise, huh?" Brian ambles over to the closet and begins pawing through it. "What the fuck did you do with all my clothes?"
"Brian, don't you remember that you told me to get rid of all the old stuff in storage downstairs?"
"Right. You raffled it off!" Brian huffs. "So where's all that cash, huh?"
"It was for charity, Brian!" I remind him. "After that Emmett and I got some decent storage boxes and we put most of your suits away. But there are still a lot of clothes in here. I mean, I'm the one living here full time, but most of these clothes are yours!"
Brian looks at me somberly and my stomach flips over. "I live here," he says quietly. "Don't I?"
"Yes!" I reply. I put my arms around him. "Yes, you live here! Where else?"
"I don't know anymore," he answers. "I don't know where I really live or where I really belong."
He leans against me and I'm holding him up. I don't want to let go. I never want to let go! "Here, Brian! With me! Any other place is just temporary. L.A. is nice, but it isn't real. Not like the loft."
Brian rests his chin on my shoulder. "This is your place, Justin. You're the one who lives here. This is yours. The loft and your studio. Pittsburgh. All of this. I feel like I don't belong anymore. Like everyone else has moved on -- without me."
"That is SO not true!" I feel like shaking Brian. And they call ME a drama queen! Brian practically invented the term. "Nobody has left you behind. Everyone here cares about you. They almost care too much! When you stumbled into Babylon on Friday night, all fucked up, Michael and Emmett immediately went to help you. But if it had been Ted or Vic or even Ben who had seen that you were in trouble, they would have jumped right in to help you, too. Deb is constantly asking how you are. You know how she is when someone is out reach of her meddling!"
That earns me a minuscule smile. "Yes, I know all too well!"
"And Lindsay is always asking about you," I continue. "She always talks to Gus about you, Brian. They haven't forgotten you, either. You'll see when we go over there! It'll be a nice visit. And... and maybe later this week we can take Gus out for the day."
Brian shrugs and I let go of him so that he can pick out something to wear. I go down to Brian's desk. My Filofax is sitting next to the I-Mac. I look up Walter Urbanski's number in Los Angeles and call it. It's his office and it's Sunday afternoon, but I figure I'll leave a message to tell him that Brian is here. To my surprise, Urbanski answers the phone himself.
"Jesus, don't you have a home to go to?" I say.
"Who the hell is this?" Brian's lawyer barks.
"This is Justin Taylor in Pittsburgh."
"Oh," he replies. "The kid. Hey, put Kinney on the horn."
And I'm surprised again. "How do you know that Brian is here?"
I hear Urbanski let out a long, exasperated sigh. "How the fuck do I know? Let's see...." I hear him rustling through some papers. "He left Haven of Hope on Tuesday evening after dinner in the company of Ernest J. Brown, age 59, musician and drug addict. He withdraw $300 at a Moneymatic machine in downtown Los Angeles and then $200 at another machine later that same night, both times using a VISA card issued in the name of T. R. Hardy. Then he...."
"All right! Mr. Urbanski, I get it! So you knew Brian was here."
"Of course I knew he was there!" the lawyer snorts. "Where the fuck ELSE would he be? He heads for wherever you are like a fucking dog heads for his favorite fire hydrant. No offense, kid."
"None taken." I think.
"So he went to Pittsburgh. Or at least I figured he'd end up there. Did Sheldon call you yet?"
"Yes," I admit. "He called this morning."
"Sheldon's boys are way, way behind the curve. MY guy saw Kinney at LAX, waiting to get on the Trans-Con red-eye to Pittsburgh on Thursday night," Urbanski says smugly.
"Then why didn't you stop him?" I ask.
Urbanski sniffs. "Was there any reason to? Kinney was feeling no pain, but he was heading home. If I had stopped him, what the hell was I going to do with him? Take him back to Haven of Hope? I figured that he'd end up where he really belonged. Am I right, kid?"
"Yeah," I admit. "You're right."
"Listen," Urbanski adds. "I gotta get going now, but remember this -- Sheldon is going to try to strong-arm Kinney into coming back to Los Angeles, but only on HIS terms. That way, Sheldon will have your man under his thumb. You understand what I'm saying?"
"I understand very well, Mr. Urbanski."
"Smart kid. So you tell Kinney NOT to talk to Howie or to make any agreements with him. NONE! I'm handling things. That's what he's paying me for."
"But what about the rehab?" I ask.
"The rehab was voluntary. Kinney was not a prisoner there, even if that's how he felt, and he was free to leave if he wanted to. If you can get him into something there, fine. In fact, it's probably a good thing for him. But do NOT make any more deals with Sheldon or anyone from the studio. Period!"
"And the cops?"
"Forget them for now. Kinney hasn't done anything wrong. All they can do is make a lot of noise. You comprende, kid?"
"Yes," I tell him. "I comprende. Thank you for your help Mr. Urbanski."
When I hang up with the lawyer, I turn around and see Brian there. "I heard you talking to Walter. He doesn't want me to go back to the Hell Hole, does he?"
"No, Brian. And he doesn't want you talking to Howie Sheldon and caving in on some stupid deal." I go up to the bedroom and start looking for something to wear. "Walter says you should find a rehab place here. And I agree. But it has to be somewhere YOU want to go, Brian. You can't be bribed or threatened into doing it." I look at him seriously. "You have to WANT to do it. Or else it isn't going to work."
Brian stands there. He's wearing a clean pair of black 501's, a dark blue shirt, untucked, and no shoes or socks. He looks beautiful. And he nods slowly. "If it's a place that won't make me feel like a piece of shit for being who I am -- or what I am. Then I might give it another try."
"Thank you!" I say, kissing him. "Thank you." And I mean that.
"Hi, Lindz," says Brian, sheepishly, as she opens the front door to the Lesbian Love Palace.
To say that Lindsay is shocked is the understatement of the year. "Brian," she says. And then she grabs him and hugs him tightly, which is difficult because her belly is huge. "Brian!" she cries, much louder. "Oh, Brian, you look WONDERFUL!"
If anyone ever doubted that Lindsay is totally in love with Brian, they wouldn't doubt it after seeing the look in Lindsay's eyes as she gazes at him. It makes me wonder what other people see when they watch me looking at Brian. But what the fuck. I don't care what other people think. And apparently neither does Lindsay.
"Justin, why didn't you TELL me that Brian was here!" Lindsay says as we walk through the door.
"I wanted it to be a surprise," Brian offers. "Where's Gus?"
"He and Mel are over in the park. They should be back shortly." Lindsay bustles around, plumping up pillows and moving toys out of the way so that we can sit down on the couch. "Brian, did you get my letters? I so wanted to hear from you, but I know that you couldn't write to us right away."
"Yes, I got all your letters, Lindz. Thanks for writing," says Brian, a little uncomfortably. "I... I really appreciated that you took the time to... to do that. With everything else on your mind. The baby and everything."
"Brian," she says, taking his hand. Her voice has that intimate, girly tone to it that makes me nuts when she's talking to Brian. "You were always in my thoughts! I've been so concerned. We all have, right Justin?"
"Yes, we ALL have, Lindz," I say, trying not to get mad or jealous. Like I wasn't thinking of Brian every second of the fucking day! But I repeat to myself that Brian is MY partner, not hers. The fact that she's having a baby -- ANOTHER baby! -- with Brian is beside the point. Completely beside the fucking point!
But Brian takes my hand and squeezes it. He knows Lindsay as well as anyone. Sometimes I think he understands her a lot better than Melanie does. And although he usually caves in to whatever she wants, like all this sperm donation, it's turned out to be a plus in the end. Gus is a plus, for sure. And this new baby will be a plus, too. At least, I hope she will be.
"Are you just here on a visit, Bri?" Lindz asks. She can see that something isn't exactly right, but she doesn't want to come right out and ask Brian why he's in Pittsburgh all of a sudden. No, that will be for Melanie to do.
"No, Lindz, I'm staying for a while," says Brian. He slips off his suede jacket. I tried to make him wear one of his other jackets or coats, but he insisted on wearing that fringed suede thing, even though it's dirty and scuzzy-looking. It needs to be sent to the dry cleaner. But Brian won't let me take it away from him. I think it's some kind of good luck charm because it escaped from Haven of Hope with him.
"That's so nice!" says Lindsay, not pressing the issue. "Then you'll be here when the baby comes!" Lindsay sits down on the other side of Brian on the couch. "I want you to be with me in the delivery room this time. I wanted you to be there when Gus was born, but...." And Lindsay glances at me, like I had something to do with Brian not being there! Like if it wasn't for me, Brian would NOT have been out drugging and fucking at Babylon that night! Jesus!
"I'm sorry, Lindz," Brian winces. "I... I had my phone off that night. I didn't think it was, you know, so close to the time." He nudges me with his elbow. And I realize for the first time how fucking weird Fate is. How if Brian HAD turned on his cellphone that night, maybe we never would have met. I would have stood under that streetlight for ages and Brian never would have seen me. He would have been at the hospital instead, watching Lindsay screaming her head off. But... but... that must be another of Fiona's Streams. One I don't want to know about.
"Well, that's all water under the bridge, right?" she says cheerily. "Can I get you two a drink? Coke okay?" Lindsay stands up slowly.
"Don't go to any trouble, Lindsay," says Brian. "We can't stay long. We're going to Justin's mom's place for dinner."
"Oh, that's right." Lindsay's face falls. But then she immediately starts fluttering again. "I'll get the drinks. Mel should be back with Gus any time now." And she disappears into the kitchen.
"She's pushing it, Brian," I say with annoyance. "Really pushing my buttons with all that Happy Housewife stuff."
"Just cool your jets, Boy Wonder. Lindsay is full of hormones and shit, Justin," Brian tells me. "You should have been around before Gus was born. She would call me any hour of the day or night, crying. Always fucking crying! She must have left Melanie about 10 times and she'd always show up at the loft pointing to her stomach and whining. Try explaining THAT to some trick who's at my place looking for a nice, hot, noisy fuck! And what he gets instead is an insane pregnant woman. Christ, that was fun!"
I snicker. "It's your own fault, Brian. You wanted to play 'Daddy.'"
"Yeah," he replies simply. "I guess I did. And look what I got -- TWO Sonny Boys!"
"Shut the fuck up!" I punch him in the arm. "I'm not your son. Or your boytoy. Or your little chicken."
"I know, Justin," he says. He wraps his arm around me and pulls me over to him, leaning his forehead against mine. "I know that."
The front door opens and we hear Melanie crashing inside. Mel never enters any room quietly. She's calling for Lindsay and she's struggling with the stroller and with Gus. And Lindsay shouts that they have company.
And then Gus runs into the room. His face is all red from being out in the cold air and his golden brown hair is sticking up in all directions, just like Brian's. In fact, he looks like a miniature version of Brian in every way.
"Sonny Boy!" Brian jumps up from the couch. "Guess who's here?"
Gus skids to a stop. He looks at Brian with huge eyes. Then he looks at me. He blinks.
"Gus! Come on! Daddy's here!" Brian crouches down on the rug and puts his arms out.
"Daddy?" Gus mumbles. His finger is in his mouth. He takes a step back. Then another.
"Gus, come over here!" says Brian. "Come to me!"
"Dustin!" says Gus. And he starts to go over to me. "Daddy!"
"No, Gus," I say, pointing to Brian. "There's Daddy. You've been asking for Daddy and now he's here!"
But Gus runs into my arms and hides his head. "Dustin!" he cries. He won't even look at Brian.
Melanie and Lindsay are standing in the archway going into the living room. Melanie looks disgusted and Lindz looks pained.
Brian stands up. He has a shell-shocked look on his face. He reaches for his suede jacket and shoves it under his arm. "I... I need to use your bathroom, Lindz."
"Brian!" I say. "It's all right! Gus is just a little confused." Gus is clutching my shirt, his face buried against my chest. "I'm sure he's tired, right?" I glance over at the girls.
"Yeah, he's beat," says Melanie. "He missed his nap. He'll be okay after dinner." For once Mel doesn't have anything snarky to say. Thank God for that.
"No, he's right," says Brian. "Kids know the truth when they see it. And Gus is right. I wouldn't want me either. I'm no one to him. And that's probably for the best."
"Brian, don't say that!" Lindsay reaches for his arm, but Brian brushes right by her. He goes upstairs, taking the steps two at a time.
"Gus, what's the matter with you?" I whisper to him.
But he hangs on to me all the tighter. "Dustin!" he murmurs. "Daddy!"
"We have crossed the rubicon.
Our ship awash, our rudder gone.
The rats have fled but I'm hanging on --
Let me try, baby, try.
Baby, please -- let me begin,
Let me be your heroin.
Hate the sinner but love the sin --
Let me be your heroin."
"High on Sunday 51" by Aimee Mann
Continue on to "Tangled Up in Blue".
©Gaedhal, April 2004.
Posted April 7, 2004.