This is Part 2 of Chapter 62 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "In the City -- Part 1", the previous chapter.
I wake up at around 7:00 a.m. After being so sleepy most of yesterday, I'm now wide awake.
"What," he mumbles, burying his face in the pillow.
"Let's go down for breakfast! I'm starving!"
"I thought I'd call room service to bring up some coffee and a muffin."
"But I want the 'Full English Breakfast' -- as stated in this brochure I found on the desk." I wave it in his face. Or, rather, the back of his head.
"Shit," he groans and rolls over. The bright sun is pouring in through the window. "Didn't I order black-out curtains for this room?"
"Come ON!" I pull at his arm. "We are missing EVERYTHING!"
Brian opens one bleary eye. "Believe me, London has been here for about two thousand years. It will keep for another two hours while I sleep."
I try a different tactic. "Brian -- please? Get up...." And I try getting something else up. And that, of course, is no chore at all.
"All right! Okay! Let me get a shower and we'll go down and I can watch you stuff yourself full of cholesterol."
I start bouncing around the room.
"How about showing a little LESS enthusiasm at... what the fuck time is it?"
"Just after 7:00 a.m."
"Fuck. Please -- stop jumping. I'm getting a headache already." Brian tumbles out of the bed. "I think that mattress is going to murder my back. Remind me to tell the concierge that I want a board put under it... or a harder mattress."
"I LIKE it! It feels like sleeping on a giant pillow."
"You would," he grouches. But he doesn't complain when I bounce into the shower with him, attaching myself directly to his cock.
"I guess the jet-lag has finally worn off, huh?"
"I was just so sleepy last night...."
"Then you don't remember me doing this to you?" Brian seizes my cock and pulls it, his hand slick with the lavender soap the hotel has stocked the bathroom with.
"I vaguely remember. Maybe you could give me a replay right here?"
"No, it wouldn't be the same. That was dry. This is wet."
"This is wet, too," I say, going down and taking his hard dick into my mouth. I don't say a lot more after that.
About forty-five minutes later we enter the dining room. It opens out onto the back garden and the hostess leads us to a table near the doors. She sets down a newspaper, 'The Times,' at Brian's place.
"Coffee, black, for me. The full works for him," says Brian.
"Help yourself to cereal on the side-table. We have cornflakes, bran flakes, Wheetabix, and muesli. The boy will be around with juice and coffee in a moment. Enjoy your breakfast."
"Go ahead," says Brian, pointing to the side. "Try all of them if you can get them down. But you'll have to deal with the consequences later!"
I hesitate, but then go for the cornflakes. There's also fruit and big pitchers of milk. I pour them on.
"I brought you a muffin." I set it down in front of Brian.
"Gee, thanks." He's reading 'The Times.'
"You have to eat something."
"Want to bet?"
A young guy comes around with a large jug of orange juice and sets it on the table. I look up at him.
He looks at me. "Good morning."
"You're the photographer. From the park."
"Right. And you're the American."
"What is this?" says Brian. "Old Home Week?"
"This guy has some great photos. I was looking at them yesterday."
"I'm just a student. I'm taking a course at university. Sometimes I sell the photos for pocket money."
"They really are good," I say. Maybe I'm gushing a little. Maybe not.
"How about some coffee here?" says Brian. He's frowning now.
"Right away, sir." The guy winks at me.
"I wish I could take photographs like that," I say to Brian.
"Why not? You have a good eye. You've got a camera. Why not take an elective in the fall?"
"Maybe I will. But I'd need a different camera. This is an automatic."
Brian puts down his newspaper. "We'll get you the right camera if you need it. Try taking some pictures while you're here and see how they turn out. You could scan them into your computer and work with them that way."
"That would be intense. I should ask that guy about some photography places."
"He's only the busboy."
I smile. "Gee, Brian -- that's all I was, too. A busboy."
"But you were a CUTE busboy." Brian looks across the room. "He's NOT."
"What does THAT have to do with anything?" I say.
"Because you wouldn't be HERE if you were an ugly busboy."
"But you were fucking me BEFORE I was a busboy! YOU got me the job!"
He frowns again. "Don't confuse the issue. I'm just saying -- don't get the help into trouble."
"Well, he IS cute," I wait for Brian's reaction, but his face is buried in 'The Times.' "Way cute."
"I'm not listening to you at ALL." But he's huffing. I like it when he gets a little jealous. He wouldn't bother if he didn't care at least a little about me. I think.
The hostess comes by with a large plate -- and I mean LARGE plate -- crammed with eggs, bacon, sausages, fried tomatoes, and another plate of some kind of toast.
Brian examines it. "Fried bread. The requisite word is 'fried' -- every fucking thing in this country is FRIED!"
I bite into the fried bread. "It's good!"
"That's another inch on your ass!"
"More for YOU, then," I say, my mouth full.
"I don't know if I can watch you eat like this every single morning."
"I like it!" I stuff in another sausage.
"Listen," Brian says, as I wash the last of the fried bread down with a cup of tea. "I'm going to make a few phone calls. Why don't you wait in that back garden and when I'm finished with the calls, we'll check out the Underground. Okay?"
"Great," I say. And take one more slice of bacon.
The garden is really beautiful. Lots of roses and herbs that fill the whole area with wonderful smells. I take out my little camera and focus it on one of the roses.
I turn around and the busboy/photographer is leaning against the kitchen door, smoking a cigarette.
"Hey. I'm just trying out my camera."
"I see. You still need a real piece of equipment. And some black and white film. Always start with black and white. It's more artistic. Have a fag?"
I go over to him. "What did you say?"
"A fag? A ciggie?"
"Oh. Sure." I take one. "I'm Justin, by the way. Justin Taylor."
"Rowan Conley." He takes a drag. He points to my new bracelet. "Julie and Terence. I recognize their work. That's a nice one."
"Brian got it for me."
He strikes a match and lights my cigarette. It's some kind of strong, dark tobacco that burns the back of my throat. "You a poufter?"
I have to think a minute. "If that's a fag that is NOT a cigarette, then yeah."
"I figured. Tourist?"
"Well, I am. My boyfriend is working here. I'm an art student. Back in Pittsburgh. But I worked as a busboy, too, up until recently."
"Yeah, the work is shite, but the money isn't bad here. You doing Painting? Art History?"
I shrug. "I was going to be a Painting major, but I got injured last year. My hand got fucked up." I hold up my right hand and flex it. "So I've been working in Computer Graphics. But I still like drawing best. When I don't get too tired."
"Then photos should be right in your line." Rowan blows some smoke out. "I could take you 'round to some places. Ever been to the Photographers' Gallery? At Covent Garden?"
"We just got here yesterday. I haven't been anywhere."
"Ever shake the tall bloke?"
"You mean Brian? He's going to be working most days, if that's what you mean."
"I could introduce you to a few of my mates. They're all art students."
"That would be neat. I'm going to be here a few weeks and I don't know anyone in this country."
Someone calls from inside and Rowan drops his cigarette butt and steps on it. "I'll let you know when we can get together. Maybe later in the week. I have my work here in the morning and another job at the pub most evenings. But I'll see you."
I turn around and Brian is standing in the doorway leading out to the garden.
"Looks like you're bein' summoned." And Rowan retreats back into the kitchen.
I go over to Brian. "Be careful, Justin. I know you're naturally friendly, but you could get that kid into trouble. The help isn't supposed to get too cosy with the guests. They're funny about that kind of thing over here."
"We were just talking. He's an art student, too."
"He and 90% of the queer boys in this country."
I look back towards the door to the kitchen. "I don't think he's gay."
"Right. He's just trying to pick you up because he's a Good Samaritan and you're a lost lamb. Don't be naive, Justin." Brian takes my arm firmly. "Let's get going."
Brian leads me down into the Underground and shows me the system, pointing out the stops for the Tate Gallery, the National Gallery, and some other places he thinks I might want to go.
"Where's Covent Garden?"
Brian inspects the big map on the wall. "Right... here! But you could get off at this stop -- or this one -- and just walk over. The distances aren't too far. What's at Covent Garden that interests you?"
"I don't know. Somebody mentioned it."
"Well," Brian considers. "We could work our way down and then have lunch at Covent Garden. There are a lot of pubs and restaurants in that area. That okay with you?"
Brian buys me a month's pass for 'The Tube,' and then we go down into subway and take the Central Line to Oxford Circus. We come up in the middle of a chaotic tangle of traffic and pedestrians.
"BE CAREFUL! Remember that the traffic is coming from the opposite direction." Brian grabs me by the collar and steadies me on the sidewalk. "They drive on the LEFT side of the road here. That means you have to look the OTHER way before you try to cross the street. I almost got killed about a dozen times when I was here as a student. I looked the wrong way and stepped off the curb and BAM! They just missed me."
"I'd hate to have to bring a flattened Justin back to Pittsburgh. Both your mom AND Deb would skin me alive!"
"Wow, this is sure different from Holland Park -- it's like New York City!"
"It's pretty busy, that's for certain."
"Brian, look!" I point across the street. "The French Connection/UK store! We HAVE to go there!"
"Remember about looking before you cross! Justin! Wait the fuck for me!" Brian says as he dashes after me.
I rush into the store. Brian comes up behind me. "I hope you aren't planning to buy an entire wardrobe with the logo 'fcuk' emblazoned across everything?"
"Just a couple of things." I pick out some tee-shirts. And a pair of sweatpants. "Look at all the toiletries! Shampoo. Aftershave. Deodorant...." All in cool black containers labeled 'fcuk.'
"Justin, that's the same shit you can buy in the drugstore -- only at three times the price!"
I just pout at him. "But YOU buy all kinds of designer products. You don't buy the generic stuff from the drugstore."
He can't answer that one! "What the fuck. Get what you want. Christ, what a kid."
We continue down Oxford Street and Brian points out some of the bigger stores.
"Where's Harrod's?" Which is the only big store I've really heard of.
"In another part of the city. We'll go over there some other time. Maybe Sir Ken's little boyfriend, Hughie, can take you there."
"Brian, am I supposed to hang out with Hughie? Sir Ken acted like I was expected to be his good friend."
"I don't know. You might get to be friends, but you don't have to if you don't like him."
"What's he like?"
"Well, he's a little girly, but I don't want to make assumptions based on only meeting him a couple of times."
"He doesn't sound like my type."
"You don't have to fuck him, you just have to get along with him. We may have to spend time with Sir Ken and this twink, so make the most of it, okay?"
We walk down Charing Cross and check out the bookstores, then proceed through some winding streets into Covent Garden.
It's a big market area, but not like it was in 'My Fair Lady.' Brian says the real market was moved away years ago. Now it's a big tourist attraction. A tourist trap, is what Brian actually says, but I think it's cool. There are booths with clothing and jewelry and prints and toys -- all sorts of things that would make good gifts. I start making up a list in my head. Something for my mom. Molly. Gus. Debbie. Vic. Lindsay. Emmett. Michael. Ted....
"Hold it! You're going to be here for a while. Don't get everything the first day."
"But this would be perfect for Deb!" I say, holding up a brightly dyed Indian scarf.
"You'll see a million of those things. And a lot cheaper somewhere else. I'll take you to a real Indian market and you'll see much nicer ones than that."
We sit over in an outdoor cafe and watch some street performers. They seem to be all over the city, even in the Underground. "Buskers," Brian calls them. I guess they are a tradition in London. Some of them are really good. We watch some acrobats put on their show. Then they come around with a hat. Brian puts a pound coin into it.
Then Brian takes me around the corner and down some more streets. We come out in an area where there are a bunch of theaters.
"Leicester Square is over there. And the National Gallery and Trafalgar Square is down there." We walk across Leicester Square and into another bunch of smaller streets.
"God, it's confusing! I never saw so many winding streets in the middle of a city. If I take my eyes off you for a second I'm afraid I'll get lost, Brian!"
"That's because London is so old. These streets were probably little country lanes at one time and the city just grow up around them. And this isn't even the oldest part of town. THAT'S farther east. This is Soho, now." He pauses and scouts around, looking for something. "I think it's over here. I won't even ask if you're hungry, because that's a given. Right?"
"Okay, follow me."
We walk down some more little streets.
"Old Compton Street. The Liberty Avenue of London. Kind of."
We stop in front of a restaurant. There are tables outside and a lot of people eating and talking. Quite a few of them crane their necks when they see Brian.
"If you hadn't told me this was the queer ghetto I would have known it straightaway. They are so cruising you already, Brian."
He looks over at the tables. "If you don't want to eat here...."
"It doesn't bother me," I say, punching him.
They lead us right to a table outside, front and center. I guess Brian makes a good display piece! A couple of guys at nearby tables immediately strike up a conversation. They look at me curiously, but they mainly want to know Brian's story. He sits back and doesn't say a lot. He's acting cool. He's already acting, I realize, like a celebrity. As usual, I end up doing most of the talking.
We spend most of the rest of the afternoon sitting in the cafe, eating and drinking and just watching the parade pass by. Brian orders me a pint of British beer. It comes in a large glass -- and at room temperature. Brian laughs at my face as I sip it.
"This is really terrible," I say, putting it down.
"I'll get you a lager, then. Just ask for an Australian lager, like Foster's, and they'll give you something like an American beer. And it should be cold! Or at least cool." Brian drinks up my pint as I gladly take the bottle of lager.
While we sit at our table in the sunlight, Brian connects with just about every guy who goes by. We are invited to about ten different parties, a weekend at a mansion in Devonshire (wherever that is), and on a cruise around the Mediterranean on a yacht!
Some French guy also tries to get Brian to go to Paris with him, but Brian just glares at him and tells him to 'fuck off' in perfect French! I think he still has some anti-French issues that date back to when Lindsay almost married that Gui -- or the 'fucking Frog' as Brian still refers to him.
"Wow, Brian -- If today is any indication, it's a wonder you had any time to go to classes when you were a student here!"
"I had to. I couldn't afford to lose my scholarship. But I didn't miss out on much, I have to admit." He smiles a little, thinking about those days. "What time is it?"
I check my watch. "Just after 5:00."
"Let's go back to the hotel and rest up before the big party tonight. I have a feeling that with friends of Sir Ken's it's going to be more of the same."
"Brian, I can't believe you! You aren't really sick of being hit on, are you?"
"Who isn't?" he sighs. "What good is hunting if they come right up to you and jump in front of the gun? Besides, I've hardly seen a hot guy all afternoon. I must be getting jaded."
He pays the bill and we get up to leave. A few of the guys who were talking to us try to get the name of our hotel or at least a phone number, but Brian waves them off. One reaches out and tugs at Brian's arm to get his attention.
"No thanks," he says, politely, but firmly. "I've already got my trick -- and I've reserved him for the summer. See?" He holds up my wrist with the slave bracelet attached for them all to see.
And the guys all laugh and clap as Brian leans over and kisses me.
Continue on to "All Tomorrow's Parties", the next chapter.
©Gaedhal, August 2002
Send Gaedhal any comments, critiques, suggestions.
Updated August 4, 2002