HUMPTY DUMPTY

"A Queer As Folk USA FanFic"

by Gaedhal

This is Part 1 of Chapter 107 in the "Queer Theories" series.

Go back to "I Can't Stand Up for Falling Down", the previous chapter.

The narrator is Dorian Folco, and features Ivan, Dr. Reid, Sister McGinn, Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: The police come to Dorian's door. London, October 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.

"Say you were split, you were split in fragments
and not all the pieces would talk to you.
Wouldn't you want to be who you had been?
Well, Baby, I want that, too.

So better take the keys
and drive forever.
Staying won't put these
futures back together.
All the perfect drugs
and superheroes
Wouldn't be enough
to bring me up to zero...."

***

Ivan comes into my room at half-past five and wakes me. At first I can't make out what he's saying. I didn't sleep at all well. I was constantly waking with a start. And I was also only too aware of a conspicuously empty space in the bed all night. Ah, well. I was, perhaps, getting too accustomed to having someone with me after I've been purposely uninvolved for so long. Brian was probably wise to retreat to the guest room. Or even further away....

I turn over. Ivan is an alarmist even at the best of times. Whatever it is can certainly wait until a decent hour.

"Police," Ivan says, nervously. Ivan's been in this country almost ten years and he still doesn't understand that when the police come to your door they aren't necessarily coming for you. But then I shouldn't chastise the fellow. After all, I didn't grow up in Romania, where if they came to get you, you probably never came back.

Then I sit up suddenly. The police. "Ivan, when did Mr. Kinney return?"

"He did not," he says, pointedly.

And that's when I go cold all the way through.

I put on my dressing gown and go downstairs, composing myself as I go. It's probably nothing. It probably has nothing to do with Brian. Nothing at all.

"Are you Mr. Dorian?" There are two uniformed policemen standing in my foyer. Ivan stands to the side, anxiously.

I frown. "No, I'm Dorian Folco." They have the wrong person. It's all a misunderstanding.

"All we have is this, sir. If you'd be so kind." The second officer shows me a scribbled note that says 'Dorian' and an address. My address.

"Yes, but Dorian is my given name. Folco is my surname"

"Sorry, Mr. Folco. But do you think you might accompany us?" The second officer says.

Now I go cold again. "Why? What's this about?"

The first officer clears his throat. "We need you to identify someone. If you will?"

And now I'm terrified.

***

The policemen won't tell me anything at all. Perhaps they don't know anything to tell me. They take me to one of the larger hospitals in the West End. It's one of those named for some saint or other, whether Roman Catholic or High Anglican, I still can't tell the difference. The first thing I see is a huge crucifix hanging on the wall of the lobby. I must admit that, as secular as I claim to be, I'm enough of a Jew that even after spending half my life in Italy and France, I'm still not comfortable in a room full of crucifixes.

The officers escort me in through the Emergency/Casualty entrance. It's very early Wednesday morning, but places like that are never quiet. The wail of the ambulance sirens makes me think of old movies about the War. Of bombs going off and things exploding all around you. The buildings in rubble at your feet. My head feels like that, actually.

They leave me sitting on a chair in a hallway and then they disappear. Now what do I do? I have no idea who I am supposed to be speaking with. Where I am supposed to be.

I take out my cellphone and call Sir Miles Hadleigh, the solicitor who worked on Brian's case when he was arrested in Camden last summer. Sir Miles tries to calm me down. He says that he will remain at the ready in case I need him to come to the hospital, but that I should, in the meanwhile, obtain as much information as possible. At present, I have none. None at all.

Then I try to ring Kenroy Smith. But all I get is his service. He was driving Brian last night. Or I thought he was. It isn't like Kenroy to leave a client alone in the middle of the night. Especially a client as volatile as Brian. Unless... there was an accident with the Rolls. But they said nothing about that. Nothing about two people. Identify someone. That's all they told me.

A young nurse goes by and I try to get her attention, but she clearly has another agenda and she walks right by. Finally, an older nurse passes me and I stand up, stopping her. I can't tell if the nurses are really nuns or the actual nuns are nurses, too, because they dress almost identically. A confusing system. But the British enjoy confusing foreigners. "Please excuse me, Sister, but the officers brought me here and then left me on my own. Can you find out who I'm supposed to see?"

She has a kindly face and takes pity on me. "And your name is?"

"Folco. Dorian Folco," I explain. "But the officers thought they were looking for a Mr. Dorian. That is who they may be waiting to speak with. But that's me."

"Certainly, sir. I'll see if you can speak with a doctor." And then she leaves me sitting on my own. Again.

A little while later a young attendant approaches. "Can you follow me, sir?" he says in a lilting Caribbean accent. And I follow him down the corridor, into a small room. But it's empty. Only a bed and a chair. On the bed is a white canvas bag.

"Who am I supposed to be seeing?" I ask, glancing at the bag. "Do you know? Is there someone who knows if you have my friend here? In this hospital?"

"I don't know that, sir," says the attendant. "But if you can identify any of these things, please?"

I frown. "What's in there? Identify what?"

And the attendant opens the bag and pulls out a piece of red cloth and lays it on the white sheet of the bed. Then something black, in pieces. "A don't know what this all is. What am I supposed to be looking at?" I say to him. I can't even make out what the stuff is.

"Nothing you recognize?" he asks. And then the attendant fishes around inside the bag and pulls out something shiny. Something small and silver. "This, maybe?" he asks.

I reach out and take it. It's my cigarette lighter. I set it on the dresser last night after I came home from the premiere. Maria gave it to me and it's engraved with my initials. It feels damp. And then I look at my hand and see the smear of red across my palm.

I stare at the items on the bed. I touch the black object and realize that it's a leather jacket, but that it's been slashed to pieces. It's hanging together by the lining, which was wet, but is already drying to a dark brown color. The attendant holds up the red material -- but I can see that it's not red at all. It's a white tee shirt, stained with blood. And I feel myself go completely white, all the blood draining from my body, just as Brian's must have....

The attendant eases me down in the wooden chair before I fall down.

That's what I've been brought here to identify. This is what's left of Brian.

***

"Baby you're great, you've been more than patient,
Saying it's not a catastrophe.
But I'm not the one you once put your faith in,
Just someone who looks like me

So better take the keys
and drive forever.
Staying won't put these
futures back together.
All the perfect drugs
and superheroes
Wouldn't be enough
to bring me up to zero...."

***

The attendant leaves and I sit forever in that room, holding the lighter in my hand.

I have no idea how long I sit there. Ten minutes, ten hours. Everything seems altered, including my sense of time. And my sense of myself, as well. I look at my own initials on the lighter, but I wonder if I even understand who I am anymore. Why I am sitting here. How it all came to be.

I hear people go by out in the corridor, but no one else comes to me. I simply sit, trying not to look at the pile on the bed. Trying desperately not to think of what that pile of destroyed garments actually means. Trying not to consider how I'm going to deal with what has happened to Brian. He was my star, then my friend, and then my lover, but I could never even begin to understand who he actually was. What he really was about.

I flick the lighter open and think of lighting Brian's cigarette in bed. Of him saying, "I shouldn't do this, you know. I promised Justin that I wouldn't smoke."

That's the paradox of the man! Guilty about smoking, but not about fucking me, even as he's thinking of....

Oh my God.

Justin.

What am I to say to HIM? How can I explain what's happened? What I allowed to happen! My God! I put my head down into my hands. It's too heavy to even hold up.

"Mr. Dorian?"

I look up and see a doctor standing in the doorway. He's one of these Royal Air Force types, with a swaggering military manner. I bet he runs his staff ragged. "Yes?" I say, woodenly.

"Dr. Reid here." And he puts his hand out to shake mine, as if he's at a cocktail party.

"My name is Folco," I say, beginning to get angry. "Dorian Folco. NOT Mr. Dorian."

The doctor glances at a chart. "Oh. Right-o." He makes a note. "If you'll follow me to my office?" And I get up and follow the man. The hospital has gray walls and all the rooms look like prison cells. He leads me into an office with a window and I'm shocked to see sunlight flooding in. It's now day.

The doctor sits at his desk and hums as he moves around some piles of papers. Then he looks up at me and smiles, cheerily. It's nice that he's having such a jolly day. "So, Mister... Folco?" I nod. "You're going to tell me a bit about our Mystery Guest, am I correct?"

I sigh. "I suppose so, if you mean Brian. That's his name, by the way. If you even care."

"Brian? Splendid. That's a start. Last name?" I tell him and he writes it down. "And you recognize the clothing?"

"Doctor," I say, grasping at straws. "Can there be some mistake? I mean... it MUST be a mistake!" It HAS to be a mistake!

The doctor frowns. I'm contradicting him. "Let's see, Mr. Folco." He reads from his chart. "Adult male, Caucasian, late twenties/early thirties, approximately six feet, three inches, brown hair, a heart-shaped tattoo on his right upper thigh...."

"That's enough," I say. I feel my stomach sinking and I know I'm going to be ill. "There's no mistake."

"When was the last time you saw Mr. Kinney?"

"Last night. I... it was probably after midnight. I didn't really look at the clock."

The doctor smiles to himself, making a note. "And is he in the habit of going out at night, after hours? He was found outside a sex club in a very dicey area. Is that his usual haunt?"

"A sex club? I... sometimes. Perhaps." I don't know what to say. "But not often. I... he's been very stressed lately. That may be why he went there."

"Did you and he have an argument? Was he looking, perhaps, for a way to get back at you?" The doctor raises his eyebrows at me.

I'm taken aback. "Certainly not!" I rub my eyes. "Doctor, I don't understand what these questions have to do with anything."

The doctor sniffs. "I'm merely attempting to understand what happened, Mr. Folco. I want to know if your boyfriend was in the habit of frequenting these sorts of places. It may enhance our understanding of what exactly took place there. Believe me, the police will be asking much more pointed questions, so you had better be prepared for them."

The police. Yes, the police will definitely be returning to investigate. I'll have to prepare myself for that, as well. "Dr. Reid, I don't even know WHAT happened to him! I don't know anything! You send me into a fucking room and show me some bloody clothes and then you ask me these ridiculous questions! I...." I just sit there, numb. "And Brian isn't my boyfriend. He's... staying with me. He's American and he's staying at my house while he's in London. He's... a friend."

"A lover, too?" He says it like it's something very ugly.

"Yes," I reply. "But I don't see what difference that makes, doctor!" I can't help wondering how these questions are at all relevant. Especially... now. Except that the doctor seems to enjoy playing 'Inspector Morse.'

"Perhaps none. But I am trying to get a picture of what led to this attack."

"He was... attacked, then?" I am trying to block the horrible pictures forming in my head.

"Yes. Probably by more than one person. In an alley outside the Black Door. It's a gay S & M club down by the river. Are you familiar with it?" I shake my head. "You say he'd never been there before?"

My head is pounding. "Not that I know of, doctor. But I don't know for sure. Certainly not with me. Brian... he may have been curious, but that kind of thing is not his usual... way."

"Hm," the doctor snorts unpleasantly, as if he doesn't believe me. "He was found by persons unknown, who then called 999. Then he was brought here." The doctor sits back and regards me suspiciously. "But he refused to say what had happened to him. When questioned he merely said, 'I fell down.' Nothing more. He wouldn't even tell us his name."

I blink. "You mean... he spoke to you?"

"Yes, but he wouldn't give us any information. Or make a statement to the police. He gave the nurse your name and address... but he hasn't spoken to anyone since."

I sit up in the chair, amazed. "Are you telling me that Brian is alive?"

The doctor stares at me like I'm barking mad. "Of course he's alive. If he weren't I wouldn't be bothering you with these questions! Then you would be speaking directly to the police."

I stand up, ready to hit someone. "Good Lord, why didn't someone tell me? What is WRONG with you fucking people? You show me Brian's clothes, all ripped up and covered with... with blood...." I sit down heavily. I'm gasping for breath, like all the air has been punched out of me. "What am I to think? You didn't even bother to tell me he was alive!"

"I'm sorry, Mr. Folco, if you were confused." But the doctor doesn't act sorry at all. He thinks I'm a bloody idiot. "Now, if I may ask you...."

"Fuck these questions! I want to see Brian! NOW! Right now!"

"If you would please calm down, Mr. Dorian."

"Mr. FOLCO!" I shout at the fellow. "And what are we waiting for? How long do I have to sit here before you'll take me to Brian? I've already been here for Christ knows how many hours, just waiting for a scrap of news. Waiting for SOMETHING to happen! And all the while I was thinking he was dead. Take me to him immediately! He could really be dead before I can even see him!"

"I assure you, Mr. Folco, he's in no danger of dying. But he's been quite battered and..." The doctor looks down at his notes and coughs. "Other things. We'll have to discuss his treatment and further tests a little later."

"Fine," I say, with contempt. "Just let me see him, for God's sake! I'm sure that he'll speak to me, doctor -- if you need any more 'personal' information."

The doctor looks at me arrogantly. "I know you think my questions are intrusive, Mr. Folco, but I have an uncooperative patient who has been violently assaulted. I'm attempting to understand what happened to him -- and you are, at this point, my only source of information. So I am sorry if you don't care for my line of inquiry."

"Then don't play detective with me, Dr. Reid. Your questions are unprofessional and have no bearing that I can see on Brian's care...."

"I think you should let ME be the judge of that, Mr. Folco," says the doctor. "I am in charge of his case and his course of treatment and I am only asking questions that I deem appropriate. You are under no obligation to respond to them."

"Fucking arsehole," I mutter. My hands are trembling with the stress of this encounter. With the stress of this entire episode. But only one thing truly matters -- Brian is alive.

"And in the future," I continue. "Don't put someone else in the position that I was placed in -- because they might not take it quite so well!"

And Dr. Reid grudgingly leads me down another corridor. To another door. Another cell-like room, much like all the others that I have seen. A nurse comes out of it, folding a towel.

"Sister McGinn?"

"Yes, Dr. Reid," she says. An Irish accent. All the nurses and attendants here seem to be either Irish or Jamaican. I wonder why that is, but it seems true whenever I visit someone in hospital. The nurse is middle aged, with a red face. She looks no-nonsense, but compassionate, as well.

"We have an ID on our guest."

"Do we?" She looks at me with great interest. "And a name? Because he still won't say."

"Brian," I offer.

"Ah, Brian!" she says, smiling, as if confirming something to herself. "And are you Dorian?" she asks. It seems she actually has been talking to Brian, listening to him, caring for him. Not just reading his numbers off a bloody chart!

"Yes, Sister. I'm Dorian."

"Then come right in. I've been expecting you." But then she pauses and looks past me. "You haven't brought anyone else with you?"

"No," I say. "Who else? Who do you mean?"

"Well, he mentioned another person. Another name. I thought that... no matter. You were the one he wanted contacted. I wrote the information down for the officers," she says, turning to open the door to the room.

"Who else were you expecting, Sister?" I ask again. "What was the name?"

"Sister McGinn, may we proceed?" says the doctor, with growing impatience.

"Certainly, Dr. Reid," the nurse replies.

I'm still clutching the lighter, compulsively. And we go into the room. Brian's room. And I'm terribly afraid at what I will find there.

***

"So get out while you can...
Baby, I'm pouring quicksand,
And sinking is all I had planned,
So better just go.

Oh, better take the keys
and drive forever.
Staying won't put these
futures back together.
All the perfect drugs
and superheroes
Wouldn't be enough
to bring me up to zero.

All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put baby together again.
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put baby together again...."

'Humpty Dumpty' by Aimee Mann.

Continue on to "Humpty Dumpty -- Part 2", the next section.

©Gaedhal, January 2003.

Send Gaedhal any comments, critiques, suggestions. I welcome all of your feedback on this chapter.

Updated January 27, 2003.