This is Page 2 of Part 2 of Chapter 116 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to Page 1 of "Inside Out -- Part 2", the previous page.
"Hey, I remember you. You met me at the plane the last time I landed here," says Brian, standing up and greeting a very well-dressed, fussy Englishman who has just boarded the charter. He's the VIP liaison from the airport who is in charge of getting us through Customs and out of Heathrow. "This guy helped me get through that hoard of screaming girls last time, Justin. See? I brought my personal assistant this time, just like you told me to!"
"Oh, Lord!" wails the man, staring at me in complete dismay. "What is HE doing here? He is the LAST person who should be coming off this plane with you! Perhaps the boy could hide in the office until you can send him home?"
"Send him home? What the fuck is THAT supposed to mean?" roars Brian, stepping forward to take a poke at the guy. Jimmy grabs one arm and I grab the other as we both hold him back.
The VIP liaison cowers. "Please, Mr. Kinney, don't be hasty! If you will just wait here for a few more moments, we should be getting a handle on things very shortly." The guy is sweating like a pig and Brian is getting madder and madder. "I hope."
"Just what the fuck is going on here, if you don't mind letting us in on it?" says Brian, trying to keep his cool.
"Well, there's a bit of a... situation, Mr. Kinney." Then the man pauses and looks really worried. "You really don't know what is happening, do you?"
"Listen, we've been on this fucking airplane for the past ten hours or so, and since I don't watch television when I'm at home, I'm not about to watch it when I'm flying!"
The fussy man looks at a loss. "If you and your friend will please remain on the aircraft while a few things are sorted out, please? However, the rest of your party may proceed onward." He gestures to Jimmy and Tess.
"No way!" pipes up Jimmy. "Wild horses couldn't tear me away from this budding fiasco!"
"Jimmy, maybe we had better go," suggests Tess, with real concern.
"Not until I know what's going on. What about you, Ronnie?" Jimmy turns to the final member of our party.
Ron is still slumped down in his seat, glowering. "I'm in this thing for the duration. I might as well stay, too."
The liaison speaks into his cellphone for a few minutes and then consults with one of the flight attendants. "Mr. Kinney, a friend of yours has arrived to see you -- if you would like to speak to him, perhaps he can explain a few things better than I."
"Bring him on," says Brian, settling heavily back on the sofa. "Someone had better explain SOMETHING -- and SOON!"
A minute later Dorian walks through the door, while the liaison and remaining flight attendants beat it out of the plane like it's on fire. "Brian!" says Dorian. He isn't smiling and he doesn't hug Brian the way he usually does. Now I know something really IS wrong. "And Justin. And Mr. Hardy, Mrs. Hardy."
"Wonderful. Just who I've been dying to see," snarks Ron from his dark corner.
"And Mr. Rosenblum, of course. I would welcome you all to London, except London isn't very welcoming at this moment."
"Dorian, what the fuck is going on?" Brian asks, holding his hand to his forehead like he's getting a migraine in anticipation of what's coming next.
"This, Brian! This is what is going on!" And Dorian hands a newspaper to Brian and another one to Jimmy and Tess. He has a whole pile of them, which he spreads on the table in front of the sofa.
"Holy fuck!" cries Jimmy as he unfolds the tabloid.
But Brian just stares at his newspaper, speechless. I lean over and look at the paper in his hands. It's 'The Sun' -- that tabloid with the topless Page Three Girl in every issue. But it isn't a nude woman on the cover, not at all. It's Brian -- and me. On the boat. On 'La Diva.' And although there are some black strips covering up a few things, there is no mistaking what we are doing on the boat. In one shot I'm sitting on the back rail with Brian standing over me. My legs are wrapped around his waist and it's obvious that his cock is buried deep in my ass. In another photo I'm riding his cock, with my head thrown back in ecstacy, and in another I'm blowing him, and from the look on his face I'd say that I'm doing a pretty good job! All the 'naughty bits' are covered by those black lines, but that doesn't matter. "Oh my God!" I breathe.
Ron gets up and snatches the paper that Dorian is holding in his hands. He gapes at the headline and lets out a huge groan. Ron reads aloud, "'Hammersmith' Star in Gay Boat Romps!' Jesus Christ, Brian!"
Brian looks up, stricken. "I... I... How did this happen? Dorian?"
"These papers came out this morning, Brian. The British tabloids are all reprinting these photos, as grainy as they are. They have sanitized them a bit so they can pass muster on the newsstands over here, but the originals are all from the same German magazine, 'Volkstern,' which is kind of like 'People Magazine' with a lot of nudity. Unfortunately in Germany they are a bit more 'loose' in their journalistic standards than we are over here, so 'Volkstern' is printing the photos in full. And, from what I've been told, in much more graphic detail."
"Christ!" Brian whispers.
"The issue came out in Germany this morning, too, but the British tabs all got the jump on it here from the freelance photographer who took them," Dorian says. "I'm afraid this is front page in all the popular press, even the more mainstream rags, Brian. The American papers will certainly be next -- if they haven't gone to print already in New York."
"But... how?" Brian pleads. And then he looks at me. But I can't say a thing. I just stare at the photos of myself and Brian, doing things that I never expected to see on the front page of a newspaper. There's also a photograph of me, walking down a street in London last summer, holding Brian's hand and looking about 13 years old. The headline screams, 'Kinney's Boy Toy!'
"Looks like they used a camera that can take night vision photos," comments Ron, bleakly. "Infra-red film. The quality isn't very good, but it doesn't have to be to know that it's YOU, Brian!"
"Well, if anyone should know about taking pictures of people without their knowledge it should be YOU, Ron!" says Brian, bitterly.
And that's when I remember that strange noise I heard once when we were sleeping out on the back deck. "Brian -- that clicking sound we heard that night when it was so quiet on the boat? Do you remember that?"
"Oh, shit," says Brian. And he looks at Ron with revulsion.
Ron recoils. "I hope you don't think that I had anything to do with this, Brian! Because that's fucked!"
"I didn't say a thing, Ron," Brian says, dangerously. "Not ONE thing! But I have to wonder...."
"Because it isn't MY fault that you've never cared about who or where you fuck," spits Ron. "And look -- they have other pictures of you and little Sunshine in broad daylight, on the boat and on the dock and all over the fucking place!" Ron is leafing through 'The Daily Mail.' "I KNEW this would happen, Brian! I fucking KNEW it! You and that fucking kid, flaunting yourselves all over town!"
"Shut up, Ron!" Brian snaps. "What I do and what I do with Justin is no one's business -- and especially not yours! And as to who I fuck and where I fuck -- I never heard any complaints when it was YOU, Ron! Far from it!"
"Excuse me, but that isn't all of it, I'm afraid," Dorian interrupts. "A number of the papers have been doing a little digging. It's apparent they have been preparing to do exposés on you for a while, probably ever since 'Hammersmith' opened. They were only waiting for the premiere of 'The Olympian' to spring them and take advantage of the press frenzy surrounding that film." Dorian pauses, looking at Brian with his dark, sad eyes. "There are articles about your life in Pittsburgh -- and your relationship with Justin, including the fact that he was only 17 when you began seeing each other." Dorian glances at me. "And there is a lot of information about your... your bashing, Justin. Some of the coverage is sympathetic, but other articles are... not. They are quite vicious, in fact. Quite vicious, indeed."
"Vicious?" says Tess. "But Justin was the victim of a hate crime!"
"Yes, I know," says Dorian, indicating one of the articles. "But a number of these papers speculate that Justin had been parading himself and shoving his 'lifestyle' in the faces of the other 'decent' students at his school -- and they quote the judge who presided at his case to that effect." Dorian looks pained and I feel like someone has slapped me. "And that is why the attacking boy was given a suspended sentence. They also quote a number of students and teachers who say that... that Brian provoked the attack by disrupting your prom, Justin, and encouraging you to perform a 'lewd dance' with him in front of your schoolmates. I know it's a complete lie, but that is what is being written."
"My God," I whisper.
"Shit!" yells Brian, bolting to his feet. "Those goddamn bastards! How DARE they! Why did this have to happen NOW?" Brian crumples the newspaper in his hand. "How did it happen, Dorian? How?"
"Very easily, I'm afraid, Brian," Dorian says, very gently. "You have lived your life openly, at least until recently. And you have made no real attempt to hide Justin -- or any of your... your liaisons, Brian. The press have dug up a number of your old tricks, both in Pittsburgh and in Los Angeles, looking for the most sordid angle they could find about you."
"I bet!" Brian snorts. And then he just hangs his head miserably.
"Unfortunately, Brian, you have given them more than enough sordid material to work with. I'm so sorry to say that, but it's true." Dorian opens to one page with the headline 'Under the Blue Lights! 'Olympian' Stud First Place in the Bedroom Says Ex-Lover.' There's a picture of some guy I've never seen before in my life. Brian looks at the photo blankly. Just another trick that he fucked and forgot, obviously. This is like some nightmare come true! But I also can't help but think of the fact that of the five people standing here in the salon of the airplane with Brian, that he's fucked every one of us -- except Tess. But THAT is Brian. Or it WAS Brian until very recently. But no one is going to care about our relationship or about how Brian has changed or about anything but the worst aspects of his past life -- that's very apparent!
"So what do we do now?" asks Jimmy. He turns and looks at Tess, who only shakes her head.
"I've called Brian's solicitor, Sir Miles Hadleigh, and he's on his way to advise you," says Dorian. "You can't very well cancel the premiere...."
"That's for damn sure!" Ron interjects. "No one is canceling MY fucking premiere!"
Dorian nods. "You are going to have to face the press -- and the public -- sooner or later, Brian. You will just have to decide when." Dorian pauses. "It's Monday afternoon now and the premiere is Wednesday evening. I'm afraid you don't have much time to consider your options."
"I... I can't! I just can't face anyone, Dorian!" Brian says, putting his hand over his eyes and rubbing them. "It's not me I'm worried about. What about Justin?"
"I'm not afraid!" I insist, standing up next to Brian and wrapping my arm around him. "I'm not scared to face any reporters! Nothing they can say changes anything! These are just... pictures, after all, Brian. Pictures and nasty words. They can't really hurt us. Who gives a fuck what people write about us?"
"But Justin, you don't understand how this could harm you!" Brian's voice is shaking.
I put my face next to his. "I said that I don't care, Brian. Believe me, please! I survived the publicity from the bashing and I can survive this."
"Man! Some of this stuff is brutal, Bri," says Jimmy, reading one of the articles. "Really malicious comments from someone named Howard Bellweather? Who the hell is he?"
"Howard Bellweather!" I cry, feeling my guts twisting.
Brian takes a deep breath. "He's some self-hating fag who wants other fags to hate themselves, too."
"Well, he certainly seems to enjoy trashing you, Brian. He's given interviews to three different newspapers." Jimmy tosses down one paper and picks up another.
Brian's face goes red. "He's a fucking publicity hound! And a hypocrite to boot! He calls himself the 'Conscience of the Gay Community' or some such horseshit, but he doesn't represent ME or MY conscience! I could repeat a few lousy stories about HIS personal life!"
"Brian -- don't!" I say. "Because Bellweather would LOVE to sue you for slander, Brian!"
"Well, Bellweather and some of these other 'unnamed sources' make some very serious allegations against you, Brian," Dorian adds. "That you're a pedophile...."
"Bullshit! He made those same claims in an editorial in 'Pittsburgh Out' last year. That son of a bitch used Justin's bashing to get publicity for himself and his crummy book! Justin may have been 17, but he was over the fucking age of fucking consent!" Brian blasts. "Not that that would have stopped me once I had his creamy ass in my sights." Brian squeezes me against him, but I can feel him trembling underneath all the bravado. And now I'm really, really frightened. Because it isn't just about explicit photographs of us together anymore. No, people are attacking the very IDEA of us together. Attacking our relationship and making it seem dirty and wrong. Making Brian look like some kind of monster.
"Well for pity's sake, Brian, do NOT say that to the press!" Dorian sighs. "In fact, don't say anything at all until Sir Miles gets here!" Dorian scans over a few more articles. "And this accusation from another 'unnamed source' in Pittsburgh," says Dorian. "Brian, please tell me that you did NOT glue a judge's arse to a toilet seat? Which is what this paper is claiming."
Brian raises his eyebrow and huffs. "I could tell you that I didn't, Dorian -- but I won't."
"A judge?" moans Dorian. And I hear Ron also make a mournful sound.
"Brian!" I say, shaking his arm. "You told me you had nothing to do with that!"
"I lied," he answers, flatly. "I mixed up the synthetic cum and put it on the seat just in time for Regular Roy's little poop break... and voila! And I'm not sorry it did it! You could have been killed and he let fucking Hobbs off with community service! The homophobic bastard deserved that and much, much more! And I would have done more, too... but then Justin's mother asked me to back off. And I did." Brian closes his eyes, as if remembering something very painful.
"Do any of those articles say that Brian got an award for saving my life?" I am almost yelling, I'm so agitated. "The Hero Award from the Gay and Lesbian Center of Pittsburgh? Does it say anywhere that I would be a fucking CORPSE if it wasn't for Brian? That he chased off the guy who hit me in the head with a baseball bat so that he couldn't hit me again? And that then he called 911 and held me in his arms until the ambulance got there? That if he hadn't done all that, then I'd be DEAD? Where does it tell about THAT?"
Dorian shakes his head. "There is a quote from some woman named Tannis at this Gay and Lesbian Center basically trashing that award, saying that they wanted to rescind it because, quote, 'Mr. Kinney's lifestyle did not promote a positive image in our community,' unquote."
"Brian's so-called 'lifestyle' has nothing to do with the fact that he saved my life! And Tannis is a hypocrite herself, just like that rotten Howard Bellweather!" Now I'm really yelling. Yelling until I feel the tears racing down my cheeks. But I can't stop myself. Brian hugs me closer to him and eases me down on the sofa, with himself beside me. We're fucking clinging to each other and I don't know who is comforting who anymore.
"I think the best course of action right now is for you all to proceed to your hotel," says Dorian. "There IS security there and if we can get you through Customs and through the surge of press... I'll call Sir Miles and tell him to meet us at the Dorchester."
"Dorian, do we have to go there? Can't Justin and I go to your place?" Brian pleads. I know that he's picturing a mob of people descending on us at the hotel like they were waiting for him after his arrest last July -- and Brian is terrified. I'm fucking terrified, too! But I can't let him see that I am. Not at all. I have to be strong!
Dorian shakes his head sadly. "My house is not secure, Brian. The press would realize very quickly that you are there, and then nothing could keep them away. At least at the Dorchester they are used to dealing with celebrities -- and they will be able to keep the reporters and photographers somewhat at bay. I cannot guarantee that at my house, Brian. I'm sorry."
"Maybe Justin and I should just stay on the plane and go back to L.A." Brian says, wearily.
"Yeah, and have a hoard of AMERICAN reporters meet you there!" says Jimmy. "This is something you can't run away from, Bri. If you do, it'll be the end of your career! And I'm not fucking kidding."
"He's right, Brian," says Tess, sitting down next to us. "I've seen a lot of scandals over the years I've lived in Hollywood and you can't hide from them. Because if you run, they will just chase you. And the faster you run, the faster they will chase you! Don't you think it's better to face it now? Then it may just blow over and they'll go on to the next scandal." Tess takes Brian's hand and strokes it reassuringly.
"Tess, LOOK at this!" Brian points to one two-page layout inside one of the tabloids. "These are photos of Justin and me FUCKING! This isn't going to 'blow over' tomorrow! What the fuck am I going to do?" Brian gazes at me forlornly. "What am I going to tell Jennifer? I promised her I'd look after you -- and THIS is what she's going to see at the checkout counter of her local Shop-n-Save! Your mother is going to KILL me!"
I bark out a strangled laugh. "Brian, she's already had SO many reasons to murder you -- one more isn't going to matter all that much!" But Brian just groans.
"Listen, Bri -- if this happened to one of your clients what would you tell HIM to do? Be honest," says Jimmy.
"Jimmy, I don't think...."
"No, really. What would you tell him to do? Seriously."
Brian takes a breath. And then another one. "I think I'm going to fucking hyperventilate!"
"Here," says Ron, reaching into his pocket and taking out a container of pills. "Take one."
Brian looks at the container. "That's your fucking answer to everything, Ron? Take 10 Xanax and don't bother to wake up in the morning? Forget it!"
Ron is fuming. "I'm only thinking of YOU, Brian! I don't want to see you have a nervous breakdown before we even get off the airplane!"
"Shut the fuck up, Ron!" I butt in. "No one is going to have a nervous breakdown!" I stand up and shove the container back at him. "Keep your damn pills! Brian doesn't need them!"
"Dr. Sunshine to the rescue," Ron says, darkly. He takes a step toward me.
"Okay, quit it, both of you!" says Jimmy, stepping in between us. "Brian -- answer my question. What would you tell that client to do?"
Brian swallows. "I'd tell him to ride it out. Laugh it off. I'd tell him bring it up himself and make it into a joke. 'Hey, did you all see those crazy pictures of me? They sure got my good side! Ha ha ha!' Shit like that. Try to defuse the situation." Brian swallows again. "But I can't do that, Jim! It isn't just ME involved! It's Justin, too! I can't subject him to that."
"I can take it," I say, sitting back down next to him and holding his hand. "I'm not fragile, Brian. Not anymore. I'm not going to break. They can't hurt me. Fuck -- a baseball bat to the brain couldn't kill me, so this sure isn't going to do it."
"But...." Brian hesitates, looking at me. "I love you," he whispers. And then he kisses me, pressing his face tightly against mine.
"It's okay," I whisper back. "It really is. Believe that."
Brian looks up at Jimmy. "What was the name of that reporter? The Englishman who interviewed us for 'The Independent'?"
"Henry Townsend," I answer. "You promised that if you decided to come out...."
"Yes, that I would give him the exclusive." Brian stands up. "Dorian, would you arrange to call this guy and have him come to the Dorchester this evening?"
"Hey, Bri! Hold on!" cries Jimmy. "Let me make a few calls. I'll get you the cover of 'People Magazine'!"
"Forget that, Jim. I want to talk to Townsend. I promised him out in L.A."
"Brian!" says Ron, moving next to him and tugging at his arm. "You can't do this!"
Brian pushes him away. "I have to, Ron. It's already too fucking late! I should have done this months ago! I should never have listened to you. Or to you, Jimmy. Or to Lew Blackmore. Or to Howie Sheldon and all those idiots at the studio! But it's too late to change all that. But Jimmy is right about one thing -- I have to follow my own advice and face this directly." Brian pulls me right up next to him and I can feel his heart racing under his thin silk shirt. "WE have to face this together. It's the only fucking way or else I'll be some cowering little faggot with my tail between my legs for the rest of my fucking life! And if no one wants to hire me after this, then fuck them! If someone doesn't want to work with me because of this scandal or because I'm a fucking queer, then I don't want to work with THEM! I'll go back to advertising. And if Marty Ryder won't take me back, I'll take a shift at the diner. Your old morning busboy slot should be about perfect for me, huh, Justin?"
"Debbie already hired a kid for that shift, Brian, but I'm sure she can find you something else," I laugh. But then I realize that I'm crying, too. Tears are running down my cheeks and I wipe them away with the back of my hand.
Brian swallows. "And if that doesn't work out then there are a few other things I know how to do -- right, Ron?" He looks at Ron with a strange sadness in his beautiful eyes.
"No!" says Ron, desperately. He tries to take Brian by the hand, but Brian shakes him off again. "Brian, don't! This isn't the time or the place to talk about that! Let ME handle all this! Please! Let ME talk to the press! I'll straighten everything out for you!"
But Brian stares sadly at Ron and then takes another deep breath. "You can't stop the inevitable, Ron. You of all people must know that. You can't 'save' me this time by giving the reporters a couple of bullshit quotes. It's too late for that. In fact, it was always too late for that. Because the stuff about 'Red Shirt' and the Bowery and the hustling and the heroin IS now going to come out, if it hasn't already. How you and the studio kept the press from putting two and two together about me and 'Red Shirt' for the past year I have no fucking idea, Ron, but it's all over now. Because if the reporters don't ask me about my past, then I'm going to tell them myself. It's the only way."
"Brian, please," Ron begs. "Stop and think this over first! You don't have to do this! You don't have to say anything -- and it will all die down... eventually." Ron glares at me, as if I'm the one to blame for this whole mess. "I warned you about this kid, Brian! I KNEW this would happen! I TOLD you something horrible would happen if you didn't do what I said!"
"I don't think so, Ron," Brian answers very softly as he gazes at me.
"This is going to be one wacky premiere, Bri!" Jimmy cackles as Tess sighs heavily at his side. It's almost as if Jimmy is looking forward to all the hysteria. And then I realize that he IS looking forward to it! That Jimmy thrives on all the attention and media frenzy and that being involved in a scandal like this is another power trip for him -- especially when it isn't HIS bare ass plastered across a dozen newspapers! Although I know that secretly Jimmy wishes that it WAS him and Brian. I look at Tess' unhappy face and realize that she knows it, too.
Now Brian is all business. He takes his Filofax from his Gucci carry-on and opens it. "Dorian, can you set it up at the Dorchester for me to give a press conference tomorrow afternoon? They must have a ballroom or something. I don't want to just stand on the sidewalk when I face the vultures."
Dorian nods. "I'm certain it can be arranged." And then Dorian reaches over and hugs Brian tightly. I know that I should feel jealous because it's so obvious to me that Dorian is in love with Brian. And I don't just mean 'in lust' with him the way Jimmy is, or in love with his own concept of what Brian should be, the way Ron is. No, Dorian just wants to help Brian and make certain that he's not hurt, because he knows that Brian doesn't feel that way about him at all. I don't even think Dorian realizes how much his face gives him away every time he looks at Brian. It must be the same way my face must give me away, too. Just then Dorian leans over and hugs me. "Everything will be fine. I'm sure of it," he whispers to me.
"I hope you're right, Dorian." God, I hope he's right!
"Hey! Howie Sheldon will be arriving tonight for the premiere, Bri," says Jimmy. "He'll want to be consulted on all of this. He IS the head of production at Terra Nova, after all!"
"As long as he doesn't try to stop me, Jim," Brian says with new determination. "I mean us," he adds, smiling at me. "As long as Howie doesn't try to stop US." And Brian takes my hand and squeezes it. "I think we need to get off this fucking airplane right now. Yes, because there are a lot of things that I have to say to everyone. A lot of things I have to make clear. A fucking lot of things that Justin and I have to do now before we can go back home once and for all."
Continue on to "Inside Out -- Part 3", the next section.
©Gaedhal, July 2003.
Updated July 21, 2003.