This is Chapter 97 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "Debriding -- Part 2", the previous chapter.
Narrated by Ron Rosenblum, featuring Brian Kinney, Jimmy Hardy, Fiona Stewart, Jerry Baxter, Carmel, Bill, Eugene Majeski.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Ron and Brian, abroad and at home. September 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 ran into a fortune teller who said beware of lightning that might strike.
I haven't known peace and quiet for so long I can't remember what it's like.
There's a lone soldier on the cross, smoke pouring out of a boxcar door,
You didn't know it, you didn't think it could be done, in the final end he won the wars
After losing every battle.
I woke up on the roadside, daydreaming 'bout the way things sometimes are.
Visions of your chestnut mare shoot through my head and are making me see stars.
You hurt the ones that I love best and cover up the truth with lies.
One day you'll be in the ditch, flies buzzing around your eyes,
And blood on your saddle.
Idiot wind, blowing through the flowers on your tomb,
Blowing through the curtains in your room.
Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your teeth,
You're an idiot, babe,
It's a wonder that you still know how to breathe!"
Bob Dylan, from 'Blood on the Tracks'
I don't tell Brian that I'm coming to meet him in London. I just leave Venice on the spur of the moment, calling Jimmy from the airport right before I leave. Of course, he tries to talk me out of it.
"Ron, give the guy some fucking space!"
"Space? He's had an entire summer of 'space'! He doesn't need space! We need to get on with things."
"What things are those, Ron? Promotion for the film -- or your 'relationship'? Because if it's the latter, be truthful with yourself. It's fucking over. Just let it go."
"Fuck you, Jimmy."
"I'm not going to argue with you over a bad phone line, Ron. I'm just telling you -- whatever you think you're doing, you are going to fuck up our film. MY film! And you're going to do it by pushing Brian too far. Because if you push him too far, if you push him to the edge, he's going to push back. And if that happens and he takes a hike before all the publicity is done, we are screwed, Ron! If he wants to come back to you, he'll do it. But you can't force him!"
"You aren't exactly an unbiased observer here, Jim. You have your own agenda going where Brian is concerned!" Yes, I know Jimmy's feelings clearly enough. And Tess does, too. That's why their marriage is in deep shit.
I hear him sigh on the other end. "Do what you want, Ron, and don't listen to anyone else. But don't say I didn't fucking WARN you that you'd get into trouble!"
I fly into London and go straight to the Dorchester. Not that I'm trying to catch Brian or anything like that. I'm not. Not at all. But he's alone, anyway. I just knock on the door of his suite and he opens it. Brian simply looks at me, almost like he's expecting me, and lets me in.
"It figures," he says, almost to himself. "I can't escape even for a minute, can I?"
"Brian -- escape from what? Me? This is Fate! This isn't something you can escape. You already know that!"
And he stares at me. He looks beautiful, after all. It's good to see that he's cleaned himself up. He's shaved and cut his hair, even put on decent clothes just to sit in his room. No sign at all of those rags he was wearing out in L.A. Dorian managed THAT, at least -- even if it was just for the film.
That damned film of Dorian's. I don't ask about it -- and Brian doesn't volunteer any information, but I know that he's almost finished with his post-production work. I have my sources and they tell me that it wasn't all that much. I suspect it was all just a ploy to get Brian back to London. Well, I'm here now, so Dorian can forget THAT shit!
Brian is oddly subdued. He's quiet in a way that isn't like him. Not so much that sullen, pissed-off quiet, like when I saw him last in Los Angeles, but just... quiet. Pensive, I suppose the word is. Or depressed. Almost as if he isn't really here, but somewhere else. Sitting and looking down or staring off at nothing. Fingering that little heart charm he has on the chain. Which is just like that fucking tattoo! Yes, he's someplace else. But I'll change all that.
I look around for any sign of drugs, especially any pills or powder. Downers. That could be affecting his mood. But I don't find a thing. And his eyes are clear, not cloudy or unfocused the way they are when he's stoned. They are crystal clear. Beautiful. And too sad.
I convince Brian to go to dinner with me. He's mainly been living on room service -- and not much of that. He's losing weight again and that worries me. He needs to keep up his strength for the publicity onslaught to come.
And he needs to cheer up a little. He's got everything to fucking look forward to! He's incredible in 'The Olympian' and the journalists are going to eat him up with a spoon, especially the women. The fucking world is going to be his oyster -- and he's acting like it's the end of his life! I don't understand it.
I make reservations at a Thai restaurant I'm told is the best in London. It'll be like old times when we ate at that little place in New York. He'll remember that. Like a new beginning. He loves Thai food, so he's sure to eat plenty -- for Brian. He actually puts on one of his good suits -- one of the new Pradas -- to go out. It's a relief to see him in something other than a crummy pair of jeans and a tee shirt. The suit shimmers on him like a blue mist. He couldn't look more like a movie star. And I created him! I can't believe it, but it's true. He's as much my own invention as 'The Olympian' itself -- and both are fucking perfect! I couldn't feel happier.
We are walking thought the lobby of the Dorchester on the way to the car when Brian suddenly stops dead, staring. A woman comes up to him. Forty-ish, with faded red hair and a freckled neck, wearing a dowdy mud-brown tweed suit. When Brian sees her approaching he literally balks, like that goddamn racehorse that Jimmy and I bought who shies every time he sees the fucking starting gate. Like he's looking into the gates of Hell!
"Brian," she says, reaching out to touch his arm.
"Fiona," he whispers -- and steps back, almost knocking me over.
"I must speak with you. Please!" The woman has a slightly crazed look in her watery blue eyes. That fanatical glint. I wonder if she is some religious nut he met this summer. Maybe one of those who put in his head some of those weird notions that he was spouting when he returned to L.A. He seems to have gotten over most of that now. But this woman -- she gives me a very bad feeling....
Especially when she looks directly at me -- and recoils, like she's seen a snake. She reaches out again to tug at Brian's sleeve. "Brian! Please speak to me! It's important!"
"Go away, Fiona. I don't want to see you and I don't want to talk to you. Just leave me alone."
"Brian -- where is the boy? Where's Justin?"
His face is set like stone, but his voice is harsh. "He's not here, Fiona. He's GONE. So leave it. Don't make me THINK about him right now -- or else I can't do what I have to do. So don't make me think. Not about anything!"
"Listen, lady," I say, pushing between them. "Just back off! He obviously doesn't want to talk to you -- whoever the fuck you are!"
"Brian," she starts again. "I had a dream...."
"Yeah? So did Martin Luther King and look what happened to him," Brian responds with surprising bitterness.
"Brian, I MUST warn you! It's vital!" She stares directly at me. "This man -- I MUST warn you about him! Now!"
Now THIS is too much. "I told you to back off, lady, or I'll call in the cops." I start to push her away, but Brian holds back my arm.
"Fiona, please just leave," he says quietly. "You have nothing to say to me that I don't already know. Nothing to tell me. I already know my fucking Fate, so just let it happen, all right? Let me carry it out and do what I have to do. Then, maybe, there will be a chance for me. Not before." And he turns and begins to walk back towards the elevators.
"But you DON'T know, Brian! You don't! Don't walk into the wrong choice -- the wrong ending! I beg you! I'm trying to warn you!"
But he won't turn around and look at her. He just stands by the elevators, his head in his hand.
Then Fiona, or whatever her name is, turns and regards me. Her blue eyes are spooky. That's the only word. Spooky.
"I know who you are," she says. "WHAT you are -- in ALL streams. And I know what you will do. What you think you MUST do! But I tell you now -- it is NOT too late to change the course of YOUR Fate. It isn't too late to undo what you have already done and undo what you WILL do." She touches my arm and I feel a shock go through me, like static electricity from a carpet. "Let him go, of your own free will. Do it now! You can save yourself, then. You can save him. But do it soon, before it becomes inexorable. That's my warning to both of you."
"What the fuck are you? Some crazy witch?" I scoff. "I don't believe that shit. You might scare Brian with that hocus pocus. He's impressionable and superstitious. He's a fucking Mick, after all! But you can't give ME that shit! I don't believe in voodoo and I don't believe in YOU!"
Fiona glares at me, unblinkingly. "You think you know everything, Mr. Rosenblum. But you know nothing. You don't know Brian. You don't even know yourself. Let him go. That is my warning. Unless you want this to end in tragedy."
"What tragedy? You're demented! Bug off! Or I'm calling the manager and having you thrown out!"
But she pivots in place and ambles out of the lobby. Out of the hotel. Out of this world, for all I know. I'll never see her again. Another fucking nut case.
Brian is still standing by the elevator, his back to the lobby and the little melodrama that just played out.
"We can go to dinner now. That woman is one crazy bitch. There are a lot of nuts in the world, that's for certain. Right, Brian?"
"I'm not hungry," he says. And when the elevator door opens, Brian gets on and goes back up to the suite. Fuck!
And he refuses to leave the room until we check out of the Dorchester to go back to Venice to finish out the film festival there.
"Someone's got it in for me, they're planting stories in the press.
Whoever it is I wish they'd cut it out, but when they will only guess...
People see me all the time and they just can't remember how to act --
Their minds are filled with big ideas, images and distorted facts.
Even you, yesterday you had to ask me where it was at?
I couldn't believe after all these years, you didn't know me better than that!
Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your mouth,
Blowing down the backroads heading south.
Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your teeth --
You're an idiot, babe --
It's a wonder that you still know how to breathe."
The film festival in Toronto goes better even than the one in Venice. The trailer and the clip reel are in great demand. Everyone I talk to wants to see the finished film. Right NOW! Word of mouth couldn't be better.
I set up a slew of interviews with Brian. He looks fantastic. Clean and groomed and dressed like a million dollars in one of his simple Armani suits. And he handles all the reporters and film reviewers like a professional. Fuck -- he IS a professional. But not a happy one.
After one grueling afternoon session, we head over to a reception the studio is giving at one of the hotels. I find a table and we sit down. Brian isn't in a very good mood. He's been in a real funk ever since London. Ever since that stupid witch confronted him in the Dorchester.
And he's already sick of the reporters. Of answering the same questions over and over again. I need to set him straight. And fast. "Listen, Brian -- the round of publicity and interviews and all that crap is just beginning. And you know the drill. Be polite. Be charming. Answer the fucking questions and don't be a smart-ass.
He glares at me. "If I have to hear one more fucking idiot ask me what it's like to have to kiss a guy in a film I think I'll scream. And doesn't it make me feel all creepy? And what do I tell my girlfriend? Fuck that shit! I think I'd rather jump out that window!"
"Get used to it, Brian. You are here to kiss ass with these people, just like I am. Just like Jimmy is! That's the way the game is played and you know it." I move my chair closer to his, but he turns away. "You're doing great! The reporters fucking love you, especially the women! This should be a piece of cake! This is the easy part! These are the people who are going to help make you a star!"
"That's it. I'm not sure that's what I want to be." Brian looks down at his hands and spreads his fingers as if he's about to grasp at something. "A fucking movie star? If this is what it takes -- I just don't know, Ron. It's all a big lie and I'm a big liar. Why can't I tell the fucking truth? You're out in Hollywood. Everyone in town knows you're a fag. And they know I'm one, too, if they have even half a brain. They know who I've been living with for almost a year. Isn't that what 'The Olympian' is about? A man who refused to hide what he was?"
"And what happens to Bobby, Brian?"
"He gets shot in the fucking head." He holds his head, as if it aches. "But that's a movie, Ron."
"Be realistic, Brian. Don't fuck up our big opportunity just because you're in a bad mood. Or pissed off at me."
"That's NOT it, Ron! You know that!" Brian sits back, folding his arms.
"Well, well. We don't need any air conditioning over here because the temperature just dropped about twenty degrees." Jerry Baxter says, as he comes strolling up, a fake smile plastered on his face.
"Maybe it's YOU, Jerry." I'm in no mood for HIS shit tonight.
"Very funny, Ron." Then Jerry turns his attentions on Brian. "So, looks like you cleaned up your act. Finally decide which side of your bread the butter was on?"
"Fuck you, Jerry." says Brian, his hackles rising.
"Oh, touchy. Very touchy," Jerry's had a couple of drinks and is in his typical jerk mode. "What's the matter, sweetheart? Getting your period?"
"I'm going to fucking flatten you one of these days, Jerry." Brian stands up as if looking for something to throw or smash. He looks dark and dangerous. Everyone at the nearby tables turns, alert that something 'interesting' is going on. Brian stops and peers around, realizing the attention his actions have already attracted. Then he pushes back his chair and stalks off. Jerry watches him go, smugly.
"Thanks, Jerry," I say. "Thanks a lot. Do you know how long it's taken for me to get Brian straightened out?"
"Straightened? Wrong word, Ron."
"Shut the fuck up, Jerry! I've just gotten him to clean himself up. To come here and cooperate a little. At least pretend like he can stand to be in the same room with me for more than five fucking minutes! And you've managed to wreck it all in exactly one minute. Thanks. I really, really appreciate it."
"Hey, Ron -- if you can't keep that bitch under control, it ain't my problem. Not my problem at all."
"No, Jerry, you're right. It's my problem. But you aren't making it any easier. I know you detest Brian because he and Diane are close friends, but it isn't about being nice to HIM. It's about being helpful to me."
"I'm not here to 'help' you, Ron. I'm here to do my own thing for my own clients. And you aren't one of them! If you can't keep your boy cheerful, then you should find someone who CAN."
"Fuck you, Jerry."
"Not interested, Ron." And Jerry laughs. He loves to laugh at his own unfunny 'jokes.'
I get up and walk away from the table. I find Brian at the bar where he's downing a shot of Jim Beam.
"This is not the time to fall off the wagon, Brian."
"That 'wagon' left the station back in London, Ron, and you know it! Besides, you've only been trying your damnedest to push the booze on me ever since I got back from Pittsburgh. I'd think you'd be so pleased to see me knocking them back." He puts the glass down and gestures for the bartender to refill it.
"Of course I'm not pleased, Brian! I don't want to see you abuse yourself. I just want you to act like yourself!"
"And what 'self' is that, Ron? The Movie Star self? Or the Hollywood Wife self? Or the Outlaw Whore self? Or the one who loves...." He stops and drinks down the shot all at once. "Take your pick, Ron, because I don't fucking know who I am anymore." He slams the glass on the bar.
"Brian," I say, "Everything will be okay once we get back to L.A. You can relax better out there, when you aren't running around from city to city. You'll have some time to prepare for the press junkets and the premiere in November. You can get your head together."
"Right. Get my fucking head together. My head. Right." And he bolts down yet another shot. "As soon as I've had just one more."
"It was gravity which pulled us down and destiny which broke us apart.
You tamed the lion in my cage, but it wasn't enough to change my heart.
Now everything's a little upside down, as a matter of fact the wheels have stopped --
What's good is bad, what's bad is good, you'll find out when you reach the top
You're on the bottom!"
We've only been back in Los Angeles for less than a day and the trouble is already starting again. I come home from a frustrating studio meeting and walk into the kitchen. Carmel is waiting for me.
"What NOW?" It's been a long day and I'm not ready for any more shit.
"HE has some man out there!"
I freeze. "Brian? What man? Where?"
"In the poolhouse. He has some machines. I don't know what is going on, Mr. Ron. That boy won't tell me nothing!"
I push by her and walk out to the pool. The door of the poolhouse is open and Brian is standing inside, near the door. He's smoking a joint and wearing his 501's -- and nothing else. He's watching another man -- mid-thirties, sandy-haired, wearing a muscle shirt and workpants -- packing away some electronic equipment into a large leather case.
"What the fuck is going on here?"
Brian looks over at me, casually. "You're early." He takes a puff on the joint and holds the smoke in.
"So the fuck what? Who's this guy?"
"This is -- what's your name again?" He hands the man the joint and he takes a hit off it.
"Bill. Hi. How ya doing?" The guy stands up and offers his hand. I'm not about to shake it! He shrugs and gives Brian back the joint. Then he continues packing up his gear.
"Bill is a friend of Eugene's, Ron. You know, Eugene Majeski? He introduced Bill to me at Ramrod. Bill's a regular at Ramrod, I'm told."
"It's a leather bar on Santa Monica," says the stranger. "Ever been there?"
"No. Never." Like I'd waste my time at such a dive.
"You ought to go. Wednesday is Uniform Night. You into uniforms, Ron?" This guy leers at me like I'm some kind of leather freak, too.
"Not at all," I reply, icily.
"Too bad." The guy shrugs again and kneels down, closing up his leather case.
"Bill was doing a little surveillance sweep for me, Ron," offers Brian. "You said it was okay. Just in case some whacko decided to bug our poolhouse. Can you imagine someone who would do such a thing?"
"Yeah," says Bill. "There are some sick people around. Could be the tabloids, you know. If they were trying to get information to 'out' you, Brian, this might be the way they'd do it."
"You are right about THAT, Bill. Some people will stop at nothing to get what they want. Isn't that right, Ron?" Brian gazes at me, his eyes beginning to fuzz out from the grass.
I just keep staring at him. And at the other man. The electronics guy. Who has just checked out the poolhouse for cameras and bugs. Shit.
"Anyway, you'll be happy to know that you are clear as crystal, Ron. Anywhere else you want me to check out before I leave, Brian? Anywhere inside the house?"
"Nah. I think that's fine. Good job, Bill." Brian gives him a smile. Which is more than I've been getting lately.
"Electronic security is my business. If you ever want to overhaul your main house system I can set you up with all the latest bells and whistles. Get you a special deal, too. Know what I mean?" This guy is all smiles.
"We'll have to think about it," Brian says, serenely. "But it's a possibility, Bill. We might need some extra security down the road."
"You can never be too careful, you know?"
"No," says Brian. "Never too careful." He's talking to the guy -- but he's looking straight at me!
"Anyway, I'm all finished up here, Brian." The guy is squatting there, next to his gear, like he's waiting for his payment. "Brian?"
"Oh. Right. Sure." And Brian starts to undo his jeans. "You don't mind if Ron watches, do you, Bill?"
The guy crawls over in front of Brian and strokes the front of his fly as Brian unbuttons it. "I don't mind if he don't mind." Then he pulls Brian's jeans all the way down. "Hey. That's a righteous tattoo, man."
"It IS kind of nice, isn't it." He's talking to the guy -- but still gazing at me. Right into my eyes.
"Nice work. You get that out here?"
"No. Back East." Brian pauses. "I'm in kind of a hurry, Bill. If you don't mind."
"No, not at all. It's a pleasure."
And that's when I get the fuck out of there.
"I can't feel you anymore, I can't even touch the books you've read
Every time I crawl past your door, I been wishing I was somebody else instead.
Down the highway, down the tracks, down the road to ecstasy,
I followed you beneath the stars, hounded by your memory
And all your raging glory."
I wake up Saturday morning feeling like I've been knocked over the head. Going to that rotten party at Freddy Weinstein's house with Jimmy and Tess wiped me out. The party was supposed to be in honor of Jimmy. A chance for him to bask in all the attention of the Industry bigshots. But he and Tess were squabbling in the limo on the way over to Freddy's and again on the way home. And Jimmy got drunk. So drunk that he kept falling on me, asking why the fuck Brian wasn't there!
Their bitching at each other only reminded me of fighting with Brian before I left. He refused to go to the party at all. Period. That is the last straw. We have to have a little talk. Establish a few rules. He isn't exactly living up to his end of the bargain and I'm sick of it. Thinking about it at the party was when I started drinking. I don't even knew how much I had, but it was more than I can handle.
Carmel and Maria have the weekend off -- they're down in San Diego for some family wedding -- so there's no breakfast ready. But Brian has apparently gotten up and made coffee. I'm surprised he's up so early. Hell, I'm surprised I'm up so early -- but who can sleep with a fucking hangover? That's something I'm just not used to.
He's sitting by the pool smoking another joint. Now that he's home he's not drinking all that much, but he's making up for it by getting stoned regularly. I don't know who he's getting the stuff from, but when I track them down I'll fucking kill them! Just my luck, he's buying it from the local high school students. Or even the guy that cuts the grass! But let's face it -- he could be getting it anywhere. And he makes a point of smoking himself silly whenever I approach him. And that wasn't part of the fucking deal! No, he never refuses me -- he just has to get stoned first! That's fucking clear enough!
"Brian? Do you want more coffee?"
But he's got the joint in his mouth, so he just shrugs.
"If you want some coffee, say so. And if you want to pour a whole bag of sugar in it, you'll have to get that yourself."
"I've had enough coffee. Just a minute." Brian sets the joint in an ashtray. "Hey -- Eugene! Do you want any more coffee?"
And that's when I notice the other fucking cup sitting on the table!
That fucking photographer with the goatee, Eugene Majeski, comes meandering out of the poolhouse like he's right at home. He's got a portfolio under his arm and a smug expression on his face.
"Definitely! More coffee!" He sits right down and looks at me. "Is there any cream?"
"I'm not the fucking maid! Get it yourself!"
"Yeah, Eugene. He's not the maid," says Brian. "He's the Master of the House around here. He doesn't serve guests. And since Carmel and Maria have flown the coop, you'll have to get it yourself. And see if you can scare up some toast or something."
"No problem," says the weasel. "Take a look at these proofs, Ron. They're the photos I took over here at the house after you left for Europe. Remember? Too bad you couldn't stay for the shoot. It was hot! And the proofs are fantastic." And he saunters into the house.
I lean over to Brian. "What the fuck is HE doing here? Isn't he here a little fucking early?" I'm trying to be calm. Trying. Really fucking trying!
Brian nods his head. "He came over last night to show me the proofs from the other week. He called and I said it was okay. You were at that party with Jimmy and Tess, so I thought you wouldn't mind. Take a look at them. They aren't bad."
Brian picks up the joint again. He opens up the portfolio and starts leafing through it. I don't want to give either one of them the satisfaction by looking at the fucking photos, but I admit I'm so curious I can't help myself.
I look over Brian's shoulder at the proof sheets. "Jesus Christ! Brian!" Eugene might as well forget 'GQ' because these shots are too raunchy even for 'Blue Boy'! "Where the fuck do you think you are going to publish these, if I might ask?"
"They're just test shots, Ron."
"If the studio ever saw these things they would completely freak out!"
"Then they better not see them, I guess," Brian says. "What? Don't you like them, Ron?" He's baiting me. "What about these ones in the pool? Nice effect of light and water, don't you think?"
"Very artistic," I say through gritted teeth.
"Oh, I forgot. You like your pictures with a little more action in them. Like moving pictures. Like videos. Only those aren't quite so artistic, are they, Ron?"
"You better watch your fucking step, Brian."
He sucks at the joint. "Why? What part of the Deal haven't I fulfilled, Ron? You set the parameters. I'm doing all the interviews and making the appearances with you and being an all around good boy, aren't I? You didn't say anything about not doing photo shoots. In fact, I thought you wanted me to do that kind of shit."
"Shit is right! That's what THIS is! And that slimy Eugene... I can't believe you let him stay here!"
Brian just shrugs. "What difference does it make? None at all to me when I'm fucked up enough. But that should be pretty obvious to you by now." He looks right up at me. "Right, Ron?"
"Brian... I...." But Eugene comes out of the house, interrupting. Someone is ALWAYS interrupting!
But this is NOT the way it's going to continue. It's NOT! It can't be. And Brian has to realize that. It's just going to take more time. A LOT more time. But it's Fate. It has to be. That's the only answer for everything. The only answer, after all.
"I've been double-crossed now for the very last time and now I'm finally free,
I kissed goodbye the howling beast on the borderline which separated you from me.
You'll never know the hurt I suffered nor the pain I rise above,
And I'll never know the same about you -- your holiness or your kind of love --
And it makes me feel so sorry.
Idiot wind, blowing through the buttons of our coats,
Blowing through the letters that we wrote.
Idiot wind, blowing through the dust upon our shelves,
We're idiots, babe.
It's a wonder we can even feed ourselves."
Continue on to "Ordinary World -- Part 1", the previous chapter.
©Gaedhal, October 2002
Updated October 28, 2002