This is Chapter 19 of the "Queer Identities" series.
The narrator is Brian Kinney, and features Justin Taylor, Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: What Brian won't do -- and what he will. Tucson, Arizona, June 2003.
Disclaimer: You know the drill. This is for fun, not profit. Enjoy.
"I won't send roses
Or hold the door,
I won't remember
Just what you wore.
My heart is too much in control
The lack of romance in my soul
Will turn you gray, kid,
So stay away, kid.
Forget my shoulder
When you're in need,
Forgetting birthdays is guaranteed,
And should I love you, you would be the last to know --
I won't send roses,
And roses suit you so..."
The moment I feel myself falling I know I'm in big trouble.
Trooper is knocked almost sideways by a huge motherfucker of a steer and he almost goes down. I yank back the reins and get his head up, while he scrambles to get onto even ground. But then he stumbles and I'm not ready for it.
I fly over his neck and hit the desert floor as hard as I've ever landed on anything that didn't have an amazing ass.
Fuck! I've broken my fucking neck!
This is it, Kinney. You had to be a cowboy. You had to show everybody you were a real man. You could be sitting on your ass in an office, or relaxing by the pool, or waking up and having your first drink of the day. Instead, they're going to carry you out feet first and Justin will be scratching your ass for you for the rest of your miserable life.
Everything goes black.
Except I'm not.
"Brian? Can you hear me? Say something!"
"Fuck!" is all I can say.
"He's alive," I hear Pat say. "Thank God! They won't cancel the picture!"
"Where's the paramedic?"
"Call the ambulance!"
"We need to get him back to camp."
"Wait! Don't move him!"
"We have to. We can't leave him here!"
"Brian, can you feel your legs?"
"I'm okay!" I insist. My head feels like it's full of cotton. "I'm not dead and I'm not paralyzed. Stand back and let me catch my breath."
"When you take a header, Bri, you don't fool around!" Pat hoots.
About a hundred hands reach out to pull me to my feet. I see Dorian's face. It's completely drained of blood and his dark eyes are huge. "Brian!" he cries. "Are you hurt?"
"I'm okay!" I repeat. "How's my horse? Where's Trooper? Is he all right?"
"The horse is fine, Brian," says Dorian in obvious relief. "But you look a trifle worse for wear."
"Make-up!" I call, weakly. Because I'm fucking dizzy. I try to take a step, but my left leg isn't having it. "Goddamn."
"Careful there. It could be broken," says Charley Bouley.
I take another step, but it's not happening. Pain surges through me.
"Shit!" I whisper. And then I pass out.
I'll skip all the crap about going to the hospital and all that rigmarole. Long story short -- the ankle is fucked up, but not broken.
That's the good news.
The bad news is that it hurts like a bastard.
"Are you keeping your foot on that pillow?" Justin looms over me, his hands on his hips.
He's a bossy little shit. Thank God.
"Here." He puts a plastic bag filled with ice on my foot.
"It's too cold."
Justin sighs and gets a towel out of the bathroom. He wraps it around my ankle, then rests the bag of ice on top of it. "Better?"
I know he has to do this. I'm not a total fucking idiot. I've hurt myself before and I know the drill. But I hate being babied. Okay, I don't hate it, but it makes me feel dependent and that bothers me. That's why I'm being an ass. I'm not mad at him, I'm pissed at myself for falling off the fucking horse!
"Come here." I extend my hand. He hesitates, but then takes it. I pull him down next to me on the bed. "What would I do without you?"
"Probably get along perfectly well," he says.
I frown. That's not my boy. "Wrong answer. Try again."
He shakes his head.
I know Justin. He was fine right after the shower and before my nap, but something is wrong now. "Spill it, blond boy."
"Nothing." He nuzzles his warm face against my neck. "It's nothing." I grab a hank of his hair and give it a pull. "Ow! That hurts!"
"I'll stop, but not until you tell me what the fuck is wrong!"
He sits up. "I broke my cellphone."
Okay. This is a start. "And?"
"I'll need a new phone. And a new number." He pulls away from me and gets off the bed. "I better order some dinner. You want to look at the room service menu or should I have Avi get us some take-out?"
Wait. There's a disconnect here. "Why the hell do you need a new phone?"
His eyes dart around the room, looking anywhere but at me. "I broke it. I... I dropped it."
"Where did you drop it? Out the fucking window?"
He turns away from me. "What difference does it make? It's broken!"
Something's up. Justin is stonewalling like a Republican in the Nixon Administration. "Then tell Avi to get you a new one. That's his job, after all. Doing mindless shit like replacing broken cellphones."
"Fine," says Justin. "I'll tell him. And I'll get the menu."
He marches out of the bedroom.
If I didn't have a plastic bag full of melting ice on my ankle, I'd follow him into the living room and ask what's his fucking deal?
I click on the television and see 'Entertainment Tonight.' I fully expect them to have footage of me coming out of the E.R. and gimping into the SUV, but their lead-time isn't that narrow. I'm sure I'll make Monday's show. By then I'll be back on the set -- I hope. If this stupid accident holds up shooting, then I'm really screwed. This film has to wrap on schedule or else I'll be late starting on 'The Eastern Front.' And I can't be late for that. I can't. That movie is The Big One. I'm going to be star-billed. No Jimmy Hardy. No Eastwood. No Sir Ken. Just me -- with Simone Merle, the pouty-lipped wonder, in the second slot.
I can't let a stupid ankle fuck this up. I can't let anything fuck this up.
Suddenly, I'm hungry.
"Hey! Justin! We're in Tucson. Do they have Mexican food on the room service menu?"
Justin comes back in, holding a thick leather folder. "You don't have to yell. I can hear you. You want Mexican food? There are a bunch of menus in here for different restaurants. And there are steaks on the room service menu."
"If you want a steak, then order one, but we cook out steaks almost every night back at the trailer. I want some Mexican. Get Avi on the horn and have him find out the best Mexican place in town. You know what I like. Have him order plenty, in case he and Joe want some, too."
Justin bites his lip. "Mexican is fine with me."
"Then get to it. Your stomach must be screaming by now. When was the last time you ate?"
He shrugs. "I don't know. I had some salad for lunch at the catering tent." He turns and starts walking out.
"Wait a sec," I say. "Come back here."
He slinks back. "How's your foot? Do you need more ice?"
"My foot is fine. But what's wrong with you?" I wait his face carefully, but it's bland and unrevealing.
"Okay. We'll take it easy this weekend. Call Avi and we'll order the food."
He nods. "I'll do that."
Justin goes out and I hear him on the room phone to Avi. I'm not sure what his problem is tonight. Sometimes he gets in these moods -- yeah, look who's talking! -- and I never know if he's pissed at me or just pissed in general. It used to be worse right after he was bashed. He'd swing from hysterics, both crying and laughing jags, to impotent fury, to long periods where he'd sit and stare into space. I was never certain if he was thinking about something, or trying to remember something, or simply blanking out. But he was never that same giggly, fuck-it-all kid he was before. And I was never the same, either. I know that now. I tried to pretend it didn't affect me, but that was bullshit. It changed everything. And I mean everything. Maybe we wouldn't be here if Justin hadn't been bashed. Maybe we'd be in a different places altogether. Or we'd both be somewhere else, apart.
I think about Fiona. I haven't thought about her in a long, long time. Her and her fucking visions. All that mumbo-jumbo. Total horseshit. Except when I have one of those weird dreams where I'm somewhere else, someone else. Or else I'm me, but a different me. Sometimes Justin is there, sometimes he's not. And sometimes Ron is there. And Michael. And all the others. And sometimes there are people I don't know in this life, but in the dream they seem to belong. When I wake up I think about what those dreams mean. Probably nothing. But you never fucking know. That's the trouble, you never know.
I get up and limp into the living room.
"What are you doing up?" says Justin. He jumps up and grabs my elbow, guiding me to the sofa. "Your bandage is all loose!"
"I'm sick of sitting in bed."
"Imagine that," Justin smiles. "Brian Kinney sick of being in bed! That's a first."
"I know." I settle down on the sofa and put my foot up, while he sits next to me. "I got bored."
"Do tell. Avi ordered the food and they're going to pick it up. It should be here soon." He takes my hand and squeezes it.
"That's what I said that night," I say suddenly.
Justin looks at me. "What night?"
"The night Gus was born. The night I met you." I can picture it in my head so clearly. "I was in the backroom, getting a bad blowjob from a guy who had no fucking idea what he was doing. So I finished myself off and went outside. Michael and the boys were waiting for me. We were going to the diner to get something to eat. I think Emmett made some snarky comment about me being in the backroom and I told them I was bored."
"Bored getting your dick sucked?" Justin says dubiously. "I doubt that."
"No, it was true." I look down at our hands, fingers entwined. Seems strange. Very strange. But also right. That's even stranger. "But then I looked up..."
"And you saw this stunning vision before you!" Justin leans against me.
"I was still horny and I saw a juicy blond twink who looked ready to pop. And I wanted to be the one to pop him. I knew that would take away my boredom for a few hours."
Justin sniffs. "Try three years. Or it will be three years in September."
He's right. Three years. "Goddamn."
"So," he adds. "Are you bored yet? I mean with me? With us?"
I have to admit the truth. "Only when I'm in that fucking bed alone with my foot sitting on a pillow like a Persian kitten!"
Justin laughs. "You wreck me, Brian! You're such a curmudgeon! What are you going to be like when you really are a grumpy old man?"
"Just like I am now -- hot and hung, only with a distinguished touch of gray at the temples."
"And I'll be there to put up with you."
"So you say." I pause and look away. His palm is sweaty, even though the air conditioning in the suite is running full blast. "How did you break the cellphone?"
He immediately stands up. "I have to piss."
But he's gone. I hear the bathroom door shut.
What the fuck is going on with him?
Brian Kinney never goes after anyone, remember? Hard and fast rule. Funny how when it comes to Justin all of my fucking rules fly out the window, along with my balls, apparently.
I take my foot off the coffee table and get up -- slowly. Fuck. I'm stiff and not in a good way. I make my way into the bedroom and knock on the bathroom door. "Open up."
"I told you -- I'm taking a piss in here!"
"Then that's the world's longest piss. Open the door! I mean it."
I wait, but there's no response.
"I'm standing out here on my bad fucking foot. You want me to start kicking the door down with it? I mean it!" I punch the door with my fist. "The next one will be my foot."
That does it. The door opens.
"Jesus, Brian! Get back into bed! You want to fuck yourself up completely?"
I hobble back to the bed and plop my foot on the pillow while he re-wraps it.
"You weren't really going to be stupid enough to kick the door down, were you?"
I stare at him pointedly. "You opened the door, didn't you?"
He starts to move away, but I grab his arm and pull him down on the bed. "No more bullshit. What's going on?"
He closes his eyes. The old shutdown. He used to do that after he was bashed. Like an ostrich, if you can't see the world, then the world can't see you.
"No eating, no sleeping, and no fucking until you tell me. Give it up, Sunshine. You know that I mean what I say."
"That reporter. Rexford Walcott. The creep from 'The Sun.'"
I know who he means. Walcott is a bottom-feeder. He tried to shake down Ron right before 'The Olympian' opened, claiming he'd out me if he didn't get some kind of exclusive as a pay-off. Ron laughed in the guy's face. He was constantly getting threats like that from the tabloids. Playing the Gay Card is their bread-and-butter. But Justin doesn't know that. He's only seen the tip of the iceberg in Hollywood sleaze.
"Walcott was with the group outside the hospital. And he called the trailer. You told me that the other day." Now the light is beginning to dawn. "He called your cell. How did he get the number?"
Justin shrugs. "I don't know, but he got it."
"Why did you break the phone?" I don't want to sound accusing, but I need to know the truth. These guys are insidious and I don't want them preying on Justin.
His voice is low. "I threw it. It hit the wall and broke."
Okay, that's a start. "Walcott called your cell. What did he say to you?"
"He knows all about Springhurst. He has copies of your records. He knows everything, including what drugs you were on."
Ouch. That fucking stinks. But it was inevitable, I suppose. Nothing stays a secret when you're in the public eye, not even your medical history. There are leaks everywhere, even in Dr. Julius Gorowitz's well-oiled psycho-fixing machine -- nurses, technicians, assistants, even the fucking cleaning lady will sell you out if they're offered enough cash. Ron used to say that the tabloids had files that even the FBI would kill to possess, full of dirt on anyone and everyone. They sit on a lot of it, biding their time. Waiting for the moment when you get hot. Waiting to wheel and deal, hoping to get even more dirt. A vicious cycle. They probably have my records from the Spencer Pavilion, too. Well, what can you do? Every celebrity worth his salt has a few loony bin moments in his closet. A stint in rehab. A sexual freak-out. Embarrassing photos... Oh, wait. Justin and I have already done that. And we survived. This is peanuts.
"Forget it. Tell Avi to get you a new phone and a new number. And then only give it to a couple of people. If the creep gets it again, we'll just get another one. We'll get you a new one every week if we have to. Keep one step ahead of the bastard. You realize this is par for the fucking course, don't you, Justin? So get used to it."
Justin twists my hand, as if trying to get a grip. "That's not all, Brian! He said he has information about Ron's death. It sounded like he had police records. He told me the cops say you were involved. And that Jimmy and I helped cover it up."
Double ouch. That's nasty. But not all that surprising. "Well, that's a fucking lie! The police and the tabloids and every busybody in Hollywood can speculate all they want, but there's no proof because it's not true! That detective who was sniffing around after Ron died can blab to reporters under the table until he's blue in the face, but it's over. Ron killed himself. End of the story. This creep is fishing. He's trying to freak you out. But you can't let him rattle you. I'm right here. We're in this together."
Justin looks up at me, his eyes shining. "But he said this could ruin your image! That it could hurt your career! And... that I should... that I..." He stops and looks away.
I get it now. "He wants you to feed him information, right? He said if you didn't help him then he'd ruin my career, or something like that?"
He nods. "He sounded like he could do it! All that shit he knew! The drugs and Ron! It sounds so fucking bad, Brian!"
"It's bullshit! And if my ankle wasn't completely screwed, I'd go downstairs right now and kick Rex Whatsis' lousy warm-beer-drinking ass! Let him print the pictures of THAT!"
Justin smiles. "You wouldn't really do that."
"Yes, I would! I may look like a delicate queer, but I'm really a mean and nasty bull-testicle-eating cowboy! And I have a lot of bull-testicle-eating cowboy friends to back me up -- including my bull-testicle-eating lover!"
"They were calves, Brian, not bulls."
I roll my eyes. "They would have been bulls if they hadn't lost their testicles at an unfortunately early age. It's a technical point. I'd like to see Old Rex with a mouthful of bull testicles. Or, even better, his own testicles. I can help him with that!"
"So you really aren't worried about this?" Justin marvels.
"It's an occupational hazard," I say. "Like this." I lean down and adjust the Ace bandage on my foot. "If you ride with the herd, you have to take the bumps as they come. We just have to deal with it."
I hear the door open in the outer suite.
"Justin?" calls Avi. "We've got the food! Come and get it while it's hot!"
Justin helps me get up. My foot still hurts like an SOB, but I can stand it. Like I said, it's an occupational hazard.
"Thanks, Sunshine," I say.
"No," says Justin. "Thank you."
"No thank yous," I insist. "Just throw rose petals in my path!"
"I don't do roses," he replies. "And neither do you. We don't need to. We have other things."
"We do," I agree. "Other things. More important things than fucking rosebuds."
And I lean on him all the way out to our waiting dinner.
"My pace Is frantic,
My temper's cross,
With words romantic
I'm at a loss.
I'd be the first one to agree
That I'm preoccupied with me,
And it's inbred, kid,
So keep your head, kid.
In me you'll find things
Likes guts and nerve,
But not the kind things
That you deserve.
And so while there's a fighting chance
Just turn and go --
I won't send roses,
And roses suit you so."
Continue on to "Something To Live For".
©Gaedhal, May 2008.
Posted May 8, 2008.