This is Chapter 32 of the "Queer Identities" series.
The narrator is Diane Rhys, and features Brian Kinney,
Dorian Folco, Bill Brenner, Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: To the rescue? Los Angeles, July 2003.
Disclaimer: You know the drill. This is for fun, not profit. Enjoy.
"I lit the match, I lit the match,
I saw another monster turn to ash,
Felt the burden lifting from my back.
Do you recognize a nervous twitch
That exposes the weakness of the myth?
When your turn comes round,
And the light goes on,
And you feel your attraction again,
Your instinct can't be wrong.
Separate the fiction from the fact,
A little slow to react,
But it's nearly time to flick the switch,
And I'm hanging by a single stitch,
Laughing at the stony face of gloom.
When your turn comes round,
And the light goes on,
And you feel your attraction again,
Your instinct can't be wrong..."
I have this sixth sense when it comes to trouble. This weird instinct.
I always knew when my dad was about to fall off the wagon, so I knew when to get out of the way.
And I always knew when my mom was about to go off the rails and run off with some son of a bitch, so I knew where to hide some money so we'd have something to eat until she decided to come back.
I knew when things had gotten to the point that I couldn't take my new stepfather's 'friendliness' anymore and I walked out to I-90 and stuck out my thumb, looking for a ride to L.A.
And I knew it was time to quit Madame Renée's when I noticed that some of the clientele didn't look like the usual johns -- something about their crummy Sears suits and cheap shoes tipped me off. Sure enough, a week later the place was busted, but I was already gone.
I knew when I read the script for the pilot of 'Here's Diane!' that it was the thing that would make me famous. I only had to look at the first five pages to call my agent and tell him, "Yes! This is what I have to do!"
And I knew that Brian Kinney was something special the minute I saw him at that dinner party at Freddy Weinstein's place. And only because he was amazingly good-looking -- I knew he was gay, after all, since he was there as Ron Rosenblum's date! -- but something else about him.
I knew Justin and I would be good pals right from the start.
And I knew there would be trouble when Dorian and I were standing on the Red Carpet at Outfest and I saw that snake Rexford Walcott lurking just beyond the velvet ropes, an evil smirk on his face.
"Hey, sweetie," I say to Dori. "Isn't that the scumbag reporter who wrote that article about Brian and Ron?"
But before Dori has a chance to say anything -- all hell breaks loose.
Like I say, it's a sixth sense.
"Jesus Christ!" Bridie yells. "What the fuck?"
Because they are taking Justin away. The cops, I mean. Poor Cutie-pie is in handcuffs!
"What the fuck did he do?" Brian wants to know. He demands to know.
"Assault and battery," one cop offers.
Justin's face is tragic as they bundle him away. "I'm sorry!" he keeps repeating. "So sorry!"
Brian stands there, stunned. We're all standing there, stunned.
"What just happened?" Sir Ken is vey concerned. He's the star of 'Hammersmith,' after all. "The film is about to begin!"
"It must be a mistake," Dorian insists. "We'll get everything straightened out." He turns to Sir Ken. "Go inside and hold down the fort, as they say. If we don't get back before the film ends, we will meet you all at the after-party."
"Are you going to the police station?" Sir Ken asks. "Because I want to go with you and make certain the boy is all right."
"No," says Dorian. "You and Diane stay here. I'll go with Brian and we'll see to Justin."
"No freaking way!" Like I'm going to let the guys leave me behind! "I'm going, too!"
Dori pats my hand. "But my dear..."
"Don't talk down to me, Dorian Lorenzo Folco! I know a little something about cops and I'm not letting you boys go down there and deal with them by yourselves. You're bound to screw up and poor Cutie will end up on Devil's Island!"
"I give!" sighs a resigned Dorian. He can't really say no to me. No one can say no to me -- I'm Diane Rhys, America's New Sweetheart!
"Who the fuck cares!" Brian shouts. "We're wasting time while Justin is in fucking handcuffs!"
In the end the limo is packed -- me and Bridie, Dori and Sir Ken and his boyfriend, Billy Phillips-Smythe, and, for some crazy reason, Bill Brenner from 'Access Hollywood' -- but without his camera crew.
"This is insane," Brian keeps repeating as he slumps against me on the wide backseat. "Fucking insane!"
"I'm sure it's all a gross misunderstanding," says Sir Ken. "The dear boy will probably be waiting on the sidewalk when we arrive."
"I don't know about that," says Brenner, more realistically. "The police made a big show of arresting Justin on the Red Carpet in front of all those people, not to mention the media, so I doubt they'd take him all the way downtown only to release him almost immediately."
"But why?" asks Dori. "Why would they do such a thing?"
"It's that fucking Rexford Walcott!" Brian declares. "He's the one! Wait until I get my fucking hands on him! I'll twist him into a big, fat limey pretzel!"
"Be careful, Brian," Brenner warns. "Attacking a member of the press is never a good idea. It might feel good at the moment, but it looks terrible to the public. Yes, Walcott is a jerk. He's a tabloid hack and a bottom-feeder. But you don't want to make him into a victim and garner him any sympathy."
"He's right, dear boy," says Sir Ken. "This Walcott man is well-known in Britain. The press there is ruthless."
"No shit!" Brian shakes his head, obviously remembering the whole boat incident and ensuing tabloid frenzy. "But how could Justin have attacked him? It's fucking ridiculous! Justin wouldn't do that!"
"Try to relax," I urge.
"Speaking of relaxing." He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a tightly rolled joint. "I guess I should get rid of this before we reach the police station. Anyone got a match?"
"Brian!" Dori cries. "Where did you get that?"
"Jimmy," he replies. "Where else? Come on! Don't pull my chain, Dorian. I need this."
"Here," says Billy Phillips-Smythe, taking out a gold-plated Zippo and lighting the joint.
"Thanks." Brian takes a deep toke. "Much better. You want a hit, Lady Di?"
But I politely decline. "No freaking way! Get wasted is the last thing I need tonight."
"Here, kid." Brian hands the joint to Billy, who smiles at him and sucks at the joint. It's obvious he has a crush on Brian, but then who doesn't?
"I'll have one, too," says Brenner, taking the joint from Billy and inhaling deeply.
"Score one for the gentleman from the press," says Brian. "Swell. Now you can out me as a fucking pothead."
"Then I'd have to out the entire press corp," Brenner admits. "Including myself. And Rexford Walcott, too. Actually, Walcott does a lot more than smoke a joint now and then, if what I've heard about him is true."
"I bet!" Brian snorts. "He's probably also a major closet-case. That's why he's obsessed with digging up dirt on me. He secretly wants to get into my pants!"
"You're a star in the making, Brian," says Brenner. "And that means you're news. If you weren't hot, then Walcott wouldn't give you a second glance."
"Oh, I'm hot all right," Brian retorts. "I've been hot since the day I was born! It's a fucking curse!"
Brenner laughs. "I don't mean your admittedly amazing body, Kinney! I mean hot in the business. As in your career is about to explode -- in a good way. 'The Eastern Front' is going to be that huge. Every male actor in this town wanted that role -- and you got it."
"And I'm going to work the hell out of it," says Brian. "But first we have to spring the twat."
Brian is cracking jokes, but I can see he's worried. His jaw moves nervously and he keeps pulling on the cuff of his tuxedo jacket.
"Don't worry, Bridie," I tell him. "It'll all be fine."
"Justin can't stay in jail overnight," he says flatly. "Not in a Los Angeles lock-up! It isn't safe!"
"I'm sure the police won't expose the lad to any harm," says Sir Ken.
"Oh, no?" Brian's voice rises. "Why should the cops give a shit? To them he's just another punk perp. But if anything happens to him, I'll make a stink so loud they'll hear it in fucking outer space!"
"Try to calm yourself," Dorian advises, putting away his cellphone. "I've called my lawyer. He's meeting us at the station. He'll see that this contretemps is straightened out."
"What about bail?" Brian asks suddenly. "We might need money for bail!"
"It will be handled, Brian," Dori soothes. "I promise you."
I give Dori a big hug and an even bigger kiss. I'm so proud of him! He knows exactly what to say and what to do in any situation!
"Please don't start fucking in the car," Brian bitches. "My poor stomach can't take it!"
"We're almost there," says Bill Brenner. "Let me get out first and see if there's any press."
"Unless you called them," mumbles Brian.
"Listen," says Brenner. "I'm trying to help. I'm on your side, Brian, whether you believe it or not. I've taken a lot of shit over the years for being gay, and not just from the straight producers and reporters. I've put up with a lot from the gay people in this business who have a stake in keeping the status quo. And if that means making certain people stay in the closet, then so be it. But I didn't always play their game. I've never outed anyone, but I've also never lied. I try to be fair to everyone, gay and straight. But you also know, Kinney, that I've always given the benefit of the doubt to my people -- my tribe. And that means you and your lover. I'd never sell you out for a story. I'm not a scumbag like Rex Walcott."
Maybe I'm nuts, but I have a good feeling about Bill Brenner. I trust my instinct, so I think he really is a nice guy.
"I know you're not a scumbag," says Brian. "I'm sorry. I'm just scared shitless about Justin. I've spent my share of nights in the drunk tank, mainly when I was younger, and it's not pleasant. But Justin's not used to places like... like a fucking jail!"
"Don't freak," I say to Brian. "Justin's not in jail. They arrested him, but that doesn't mean he's going to jail. So chill!"
"Fucking arrested!" Brian holds his head in his hands. "Jesus! I should have punched out that fucking Walcott so they'd arrest me, too!"
"That's the perfect way to lose your role in 'The Eastern Front,'" warns Sir Ken. "Think of the consequences, my dear boy. Justin would not want you forfeit such an important part on his account."
That Sir Ken is always the voice of reason! I love that about the English. Except when I remember that Rexford Walcott is a Brit, too, so maybe not!
The limo comes to a halt. Brenner gets out and looks around. Then he nods the all-clear and Brian practically leaps out and runs into the police station.
"Hey! Bridie! Wait for us!" Dorian and I hurry up the steps behind Brenner, with Sir Ken and his boytoy close behind.
It's crazy time inside the police station. Well, what did we expect on a Saturday night in L.A.? Brian has muscled his way to the main desk and he's already making a scene, while Bill Brenner tries to calm him down.
"Where is he?" Brian demands. "I want to see him!"
"Sit down!" the desk cop roars. "Or we'll put you in a cell, too!"
"Then do it!" Brian spits. "Put me away -- as long as you put me in with Justin!"
"No!" says Dorian, grabbing Brian's arm. "He didn't mean that, officer. Please, Brian, sit down. My lawyer is on his way. Until he gets here you must try to be collected. Upsetting yourself and shouting at the officers is not going to get Justin released any faster."
"I only want to know if he's okay," Brian says wearily. "That's all I want. Shit."
"Come on, honey," I coax. "Sit over here with me."
I lead Brian to a bench in the corner of the room. Sir Ken and Billy sit down on the next bench. They're watching the cops and the perps and the freaks and the loons coming and going with great interest, like scientists studying an ant colony. Dorian and Brenner go outside to wait for the lawyer.
"You want some coffee, Bridie?"
"No thanks." He either looks down at the ground or stares into space, his eyes shining.
"He'll be fine, hon!" I assure him. "Justin's a tough little shit. It's an adventure for him. Look at Sir Ken and his pal -- they're enjoying themselves! Justin's probably doing the same thing!"
"Have you ever been busted?" Brian asks me. "Tell me the truth."
I hesitate. "Once. But it was a long time ago. Before I started working for Madame Renée. And I was using a different name, so it seems like it happened to a different person. And I was a different person back then, so no -- Diane Rhys has never been arrested."
"Bullshit," Brian counters. "Think of how fucking scared you were. Think of how the cops treated you like you were less than human. Think of all the creeps in the holding cell and how they looked at you. Maybe even how they threatened you. Think about how dark it was -- dark, but noisy. The smell of it. Piss on the floor. Puke in the corner. Some junkie coming off dope, lying on the cold cement. Another perv jerking off in the corner."
"Hold it!" Geez Louise! Brian is on a freaking tear! I take a deep breath. "Honey, I was arrested out in Malibu. I sat in a nice room and they gave me an apple danish and a cup of tea while I waited for my lawyer to come and pay my bail. A few days later they dropped the charges. It sounds to me like you're projecting your own fears, Brian. Maybe you had a horrible experience a long time ago, but that doesn't mean anything bad is happening to Justin."
"You don't know that!" he barks. "Fucking little twat! He should have told me what he did! I could have paid Walcott off. A bastard like that is only interested in money."
"Not this time," I say. "Walcott has gone beyond just money. You're his story now. And Justin is another chapter in that story. Unfortunately, Justin played right into it by taking a poke at the guy. The best we can do is wait for the lawyer to get him out."
And it's a long, long wait. After two hours Dorian calls for the limo to take Sir Ken and Billy back to their hotel. He wants me to go, too, but I refuse. I can't leave Brian here. And I want to see with my own eyes that Justin is okay.
"Do you think I worry too much?" Brian says to me. It's after 3:00 a.m. Dorian is dozing on the other bench and Bill Brenner is talking to one of the cops.
"I think you worry about the right amount. What's too much?"
"I don't want to stifle Justin," he says. "That's one of my biggest fears. I'm his lover, I'm not his fucking father or mother. But sometimes..."
"It's natural to want to keep the kid safe," I tell him. "You want to protect him."
"Then I've done a piss-poor job protecting him over the years. He got harassed at school and I told him to suck it up. And what happened? He got bashed in the head!"
"That wasn't your fault, Bridie," I reassure him. I've heard this mantra before -- 'It's all my fault'! -- I heard it over and over that time he was holed up in my bedroom, hiding out from Ron. I know a little bit about Catholic guilt, let me tell you! Polish Catholic guilt and Irish Catholic guilt are the same kettle of fish. Brian pretends that he lives his life with no apologies and no regrets, but that's total horse crap! And when it comes to Justin, the regrets really kick in!
"And I've let him down in other ways, too. Running off with Ron was the about the stupidest thing I've ever done -- and I've done plenty of stupid things in my life! But that really hurt him. And getting stoned and fucking up my life in general -- that's just me being my own pathetic self! The worst part of it is that a lot of the shit Walcott wrote in that fucking article is the truth. Yes, a lot is speculation or downright lies, but not all of it. I was a whore, whether I took money in New York, or was just the biggest fucking slut in Western PA -- it's all semantics. And I did use people. I used them to get ahead in advertising and then I used them to get ahead in the movies. Ask Dorian. I used him. I knew he was..." Brian stops. "Never mind."
"You knew he was in love with you," I finish the sentence for him. "I know. He still loves you, Bridie. He probably always will. But he knows the score. He never felt used. And neither did Ron. He loved you and wherever he is, he probably still loves you."
"He does," says Brian. "I mean he loves Jack. But it's okay because they're together and they're happy. I know because I saw them. And Ron told me so."
"Huh?" I think he's exhausted because he's not making any sense at all!
"Never mind. I know it sounds insane. But just because he was okay with it in soome crazy way that doesn't mean I didn't use Ron and make him miserable. I knew I was doing it and I'm not proud of it. But when Justin and I got back together, we promised each other that things would be different. That we'd trust each other and not let shit get out of control. But he didn't tell me about this! He should have told me!"
"Justin was trying to handle things himself," I remind him. "He wanted to be a man and not just your boy. So he made a mistake. It isn't the first time and it won't be the last time. Don't blame him, Bridie. Not with all the times he's forgiven you."
"I know." His eyes are red with lack of sleep. And red with unshed tears, too. Brian tries to act tough, but he's an old softie at heart. A big, beautiful pile of mush, especially where Justin is concerned.
"You know I haven't seen my son in months," he says out of the blue. "I know it's for the best, but... I miss him. And my daughter... I hardly know her."
"I bet she's a beautiful baby," I say softly.
"She is. And I don't even have a fucking picture of her to show you. Justin has a bunch of them on his computer, but I don't have one. See what a shitty father I am? I won't be there when she laughs the first time or walks or talks. I won't be there when she skins her knee or brings home a fucking report card. I won't be there for anything. Because all I am is a worthless fucking sperm donor! One day Gus will come to me and say, "Where the fuck were you all my life? What good were you to me? Where were you when I really needed you?"
"You'll be there when it matters, Brian."
"You know that's a lie." He sounds spent. Defeated. He glances at his watch and then up at the clock on the wall. "It's almost 4:00 a.m. Sunday morning. My mother will be getting up to go to Mass in the Pitts right about now. Goddamn it to hell!"
"Shush!" I say. "No use in getting God pissed off at you, too!"
"Oh, he was pissed off at me a long time ago. And for plenty of good reasons." He looks right at me. Bridie has the most beautiful eyes. Green and gold and a lot of other colors all swirled together. "You know why I agreed to be Gus' father? I mean why I gave Lindsay my spunk so she could have him?"
"Because she was a good friend and you're a prime candidate?" Hey, even I thought of asking Bridie to give me some of his special stuff so I could have a baby. But that was before Dori and I got together. Dori will make me some lovely babies, I think. Short, but very, very cute.
"Because I owed it to her," he continues. "When we were in college, Lindsay and I hung out. Well, we more than hung out. We... experimented. The summer after I got back from my semester in England, right before we were seniors, we were together all the time. I knew I was a fag -- I never doubted it -- but it was kind of fun to have a girlfriend. I even brought her home to meet my parents. Of course my old man acted like Casanova with her, but she just laughed it off."
"You with a girlfriend!" I smirk. "Were you thinking of switching teams?"
"No," he says. "But Lindsay... she was a different story. I could tell that she was... in love with me. I mean really in love. She kept talking about our future, while I kept reminding her that she was a dyke. Unfortunately, we were getting stoned together most nights and one thing would lead to another and..."
"Midsummer madness!" He shrugged. "It wasn't great, but it wasn't horrible, either. Of course I was also fucking a lot of guys that summer, but Lindz didn't know that. She really thought we were a couple."
"A couple of what?" I tease.
"It's not funny," he says. "Because she came to me one day right before classes started. She was pregnant."
"Oh, no!" I say.
"Oh, yes." Brian sighs. "What the fuck could I do? I think she expected me to say I'd marry her. But how could I? All I could think of was my own parents, having to get married and then hating each other. I had money saved up from my summer job working construction, so I offered to pay for her to take care of it. At first she refused. She cried and yelled at me and I felt like the king shit of the universe. But then she realized that she couldn't have it. Her parents would freak out and cut off her tuition. It was a mess all around."
"So what happened?"
"I went with her," he said. "I didn't want to, but I thought, 'Kinney, have some balls for once in your life. Be a fucking man!' There was a clinic not far from Liberty Avenue. Everything was bright and shiny, but the women sitting there all looked stunned and bruised from the inside. Some were just girls, there with their mothers. I was the only man there. They kept staring at me like I'd fucked all of them and they hated me for it. I wanted to run out the door, but I couldn't leave Lindsay all by herself. Finally, she went in. I stayed, sitting there like we're sitting here now. Waiting. Finally, she came out. She was pale and shaking. I thought she was going to throw up right there, but she didn't -- she waited until we were outside to do it. Then she started to cry. To sob. I told her it was okay. That one day she'd have a kid. One day when she was ready. When we were both ready. And she said to me: 'Will you be the father?' And I said I would. When she was really ready to be a mom, I'd be the dad. So when she came to me and told me that she and Melanie wanted a kid, how could I say no?"
"I think that's a sweet story, Brian," I tell him. And I mean it.
"You would think so," he huffs. "You're a hopeless optimist."
"Brian!" Bill Brenner walks over. "The desk sergeant says they're coming out!"
Dorian sits up and brushes himself off. "What's happening?"
Brenner points to Dori's lawyer, coming out a door behind the main desk. And then Justin appears. He looks tired and his tuxedo is a little worse for wear, but otherwise he's in one piece.
Brian bolts from the bench and dashes across the room. He clutches at Justin, burying his face in his messy blond hair, and Justin puts his arms around Brian and holds onto him for dear life.
The lawyer comes up to us. "I spoke to Walcott's attorney. He's agreed to drop all charges. There wasn't really much evidence to begin with and I pointed out that the studio would do everything in their power to make certain that Walcott's access to stars and films was limited if he didn't cooperate. So apparently he decided it was all a big misunderstanding.
"Thank God!" I say. "But I knew everything would turn out fine!"
"And how did you know that, my dear?" asks Dori, a twinkle in his eye.
"Instinct," I reply. "Just my natural instinct!"
"Feel this come and go.
Where the true present lies,
Calling down, calling down, calling.
Laughing at the stony face of gloom.
When your turn comes round,
And the days get long,
And you feel your attraction to him,
Your instinct can't be wrong.
©Gaedhal, April 2009.
Posted April 3, 2009.