This is Part 2 of Chapter 102 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "'La Diva' -- Part 1", the previous section.
Narrated by Ron Rosenblum, featuring Brian Kinney, Lilith Rosenblum, Carmel, Jimmy Hardy.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Brian gets visitors on the boat. Los Angeles, 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 come into the house just after 7:00 and find my mother, wearing a purple sundress with matching sandals and sipping a large martini by the pool. It was close to 100 degrees today in Los Angeles and it's still hot as a bitch, but in the shade by the pool it feels fairly comfortable. Armani is under the lounge chair, panting. Funny how Armani is supposed to be my dog, but he always gravitates to Brian, and, when Brian isn't around, my mother.
"Well, well, what have we here? Going Hollywood at last, Mama?" I bend down to give her a kiss.
"Hello, Ronnie. Do you like my new outfit?"
"It's... a different look for you, that's for certain, Mama." And she doesn't look bad. My mother still has a decent figure and she looks damn good for her age. But, she's no Beach Bunny, that's a fact. And a sundress is a little... much.
"Brian took me shopping this morning," she says.
That brings me up short. "Brian did? I thought he was supposed to meet with some reporter from 'Premiere' this morning?"
"Oh, he did meet him. But not this morning. He rescheduled the fellow for the afternoon. So we went down to Rodeo Drive and I got a whole new glamorous wardrobe -- courtesy of your beautiful boyfriend!" She's so pleased that she practically giggling. "You should be so good to an old woman, Ronald."
I ignore her crack and try to keep the mood light. I don't need a fight with my mother over Brian. "So -- my mother -- the glamour girl, huh?" I pull up another lounge chair and sit down next to her.
"Wait until my friend Naomi sees the cocktail dress Brian bought me at Prada! Wowee!"
"Prada? Mama, where are you going to wear a Prada cocktail dress? At the Jewish Senior Center? Or the Condo Association Clubhouse?"
"Why not, Ronnie? I could wear the cocktail dress anywhere! Brian says that it's suitable for any occasion as long as it's worn with the right attitude. And I have plenty of attitude, Ronnie, believe me! And I got shoes and a bag to match!"
"And that sundress?" Yes, she'll be a big hit with all the widowers by the pool in that sundress!
"Brian bought that for me to wear on the boat," she replies.
"The boat? Brian's boat?" I say. "You're going on the boat? When?"
Mother takes another sip of her martini. "I've already BEEN on the boat -- this afternoon. Brian picked up the reporter -- his name is Tommy and he's SO cute! -- and we all spent the afternoon on the boat. And Tommy did the interview while we were cruising around the harbor. We had SUCH a good time!"
A cute reporter named Tommy, huh? I bet they were doing more than just 'cruising' the harbor! And with my mother along for the ride! Marina del Rey isn't far from Venice Beach -- the biggest meat-market in the fucking state!
"And we had a wonderful late lunch at a restaurant overlooking the water. It was so hot today, Ronnie, but it was cool and breezy by the ocean. And after we ate, we took another ride around the harbor, then Brian and I dropped Tommy off back at his office. Brian put the top down on the Mustang and we FLEW down the highway! I got my hair a little messed up, but it was so much fun! Then we came home about an hour ago. And I've been relaxing here ever since."
"Well," I say. "I'm happy that you had a good time." And I AM happy. I want to her enjoy herself while she's out here. And I suppose it doesn't matter that she's doing all these things with Brian. I mean, if I had the time to take her out, I would. But... I can't help wondering why Brian is being so nice to my mother. Or to ME, for that matter. Maybe I'm just being paranoid.
"Ronnie, if YOU'D take two minutes to stop and smell the roses, you'd be a happier person. I know you are busy, but being a workaholic will only bring you grief. You'll end up with a heart attack before long -- just like your father." She shakes her head sadly. "Poor Max!"
"My heart is just fine, Mama. I had a check up not long ago." And I did. The studio and their insurance insists on it. Plus that fucking HIV test. It's a homophobic scam, if you ask me.
"If you can't take five minutes to spend a little time with me -- well, I understand that. I'm only your mother, after all. But the way you ignore poor Brian is criminal."
Now, this IS the last straw! "I IGNORE Brian? Did he say that to you?"
"Of course not, but it's obvious to me."
"You know that we just came back from being in London, then Venice, then Toronto? We spend plenty of time together, Mama. More time, I'm sure, than Brian is comfortable with, if you want to know the truth!"
"That's ridiculous, Ronnie. I can tell that Brian is lonely. He picks at his food. He stares into space half the time, like he's somewhere else."
"He's probably just stoned, Mama," I say, dismissively.
She glares at me. "How dare you say such a cruel thing, Ronald! Brian didn't even have a drink with his lunch! Just some water with a twist of lime in it! I had more to drink than Brian did! Honestly, I don't know what is the matter with you. Why are you acting like this all the time? I just don't understand you anymore, Ronnie."
She should only know the truth! Brian is probably out tricking with that asshole from 'Premiere' right this minute! But, of course, before I have the chance to give her a smart-ass answer, Brian comes strolling out of the poolhouse.
"Hey, Lilith, how about getting ready and we'll go out to the clubs tonight? You can wear that blue number I bought you this afternoon. The one with the plunging neckline!"
"It doesn't plunge THAT much!" she laughs. "I'm a little too old for disco dancing, sweetheart. But why don't you and Ronnie go out and have some fun tonight?"
I have to snort at that one.
Brian glances at me sharply. "I don't think Ron is interested in going out. I don't think clubs are his thing, Lilith. At least... not going out with me." Brian shrugs and goes to the bar without looking my way. He pours a shot of Absolut and drinks it down. Then he pours another.
"You boys never seem to have any fun together. I don't understand it." And she picks up her martini and sips it, sighing.
Brian takes his drink and sits down next to the table. He has a pile of boat magazines there and he picks one up and starts leafing through it.
I walk over to him and look down. "So, Brian -- how's the boat coming?"
"Looking fine," he says, not looking up. "Joe is doing a great job on it -- I think. That's why I'm looking at these articles. I don't want him to think I'm a complete idiot."
I try to imagine any fifty-five year old man who looks like an over-weight Popeye ever taking Brian in any negative connotation -- but then I often forget that not all the men in California are queers. Not that they have to be to be affected by Brian. I think of the snarky name Jerry Baxter has for Brian -- Gay Kryptonite. Any guy who comes near him, straight or gay, loses his senses. Except Jerry, of course. But sometimes I think that Jerry isn't that far wrong.
"Mama had a good time down at Marina del Rey today," I say. "And the shopping, too. Thanks for doing that."
"It was my pleasure. She enjoyed it. It's nice to treat someone who appreciates it. It was no effort at all."
"And she tells me that you did the 'Premiere' interview," I continue. "Who... um... is doing the piece?"
Brian looks up. "Some guy named Tom Stern. He did the cover story on Jimmy a few months back. He brought me a copy of the article, but I remember reading it at the beginning of the summer. He's a good writer."
"You took him out on the boat, too?"
Brian shrugs. "I thought that would kill two birds with one stone. I could get a little time on the boat, take Lilith out, and get the interview in. It turned out to be fun. As fun as a nosy interview can be, I imagine."
"What kinds of questions did the guy ask, Brian?"
"The usual. 'What's it like to have to kiss a guy?' -- blah blah blah."
"I gave him the regular line, Ron. Just like Venice, just like Toronto. 'I'm an actor and have no problem doing whatever the role requires. Kissing a guy is no different than kissing a girl. Jimmy Hardy is a great guy to work with.' Blah blah blah, okay? But -- Tommy is a queer and he already knew the score. These guys know everything, Ron. But he had to ask the usual fucking questions, which is what his job requires. And I gave the usual fucking answers, which is, apparently, what MY job also requires." He runs his hand through his hair. "One of these days, Ron -- I'm going to be sick of giving the 'usual' fucking answers. And then...."
"Brian -- don't...." I hesitate. I don't want to tell him to lie. I've never told him to lie. But I don't know WHAT the fuck to tell him to do! I know what the studio wants -- they want NO big revelations on the eve of the premiere. In fact, they want no big revelations EVER. But that's not Brian. He's fucking ready to pop off on some reporter if he pushes the issue too hard. Brian will either knock someone down -- or spill everything and say the hell with it!
Brian looks away from me. Back at his boat magazine. And my mother is still sitting by the pool, smiling and sipping her martini.
Then Friday comes around and Brian packs more of his shit before he leaves for the boat. I watch, but I don't say anything. I'm afraid to push Brian -- he's so on the edge lately. I know it's more than just my usual paranoia. It's more than that. Brian is trying too hard to be just what he thinks I want him to be -- the perfect little boyfriend. Sometimes I see that flash in his eyes and think he's going to explode in some huge way. And then a minute later he's all serene and 'Zen' and all that fucking shit -- it's like living with Dr. Jekyll and Professor Bruckner!
I can't complain about certain aspects of his behavior, such as the way he's been catering to my mother. And he's more than friendly in the bedroom, too. That should make me happy, but it doesn't, strangely enough. There's a creepy aura about it. Like he's doing one thing and thinking something else completely. And I can feel that. He must fucking KNOW that I can feel it. But neither of us says a thing. God forbid that we might actually have a real conversation about this. But I'm afraid to even begin that talk.
But then Sunday morning arrives and he still isn't back home. He's supposed to go with me this evening to take my mother to the airport. That's when I start ringing his cellphone aggressively. But he never answers. THAT shit starting all over again. Finally, late in the afternoon, Brian appears. I'm waiting at the kitchen door. "Where the fuck have you been?"
He blinks at me. "On the boat. Where else? I'm not THAT late, Ron. Lilith isn't set to fly until 8 this evening. We have plenty of time to get out there." Then he goes in to take a shower and give Carmel a duffle bag full of dirty clothes to wash. And then we take Mama -- and her new wardrobe -- to the airport. I notice that she kisses Brian goodbye with a lot more feeling than she kisses me. And that bugs the shit out of me.
The next day -- Monday -- I come back early from a meeting at the studio. I notice that the Mustang is gone.
"Where's the Queen Bee?" I ask Carmel, picking up the mail and sorting through it.
She makes a rude noise.
I look up at her. "What's that supposed to mean?"
Carmel rolls her eyes. "He takes his stuff and goes down to the water again. But between you and me, Mr. Ron, I think it isn't just sailing that has his interest."
"What do you mean by that?" Carmel must have heard something. Brian talking on his cellphone, maybe.
"I mean that he has ONE hobby -- and it isn't riding around on a boat! How many days has he gone down there? And how many weekends?"
"Every weekend since he bought the thing. Except -- this isn't the weekend. It's only Monday!"
"See what I mean, Mr. Ron?"
Now she has me completely paranoid.
I call Jimmy and ask him if he wants to take a ride. I don't want to go there by myself and confront Brian and whatever -- or whoever -- he's doing down on that fucking boat! Of course, Jimmy is always up for any 'adventure' that involves Brian. We drive over to Marina del Rey. Jimmy acts like we are on some elementary school outing. He's also giddy about the 'official' word he finally got from his agent, Lew Blackmore.
"Number fucking ONE, Ron! THE most powerful actor in the Industry, according to 'Entertainment Weekly'! That's beautiful, just beautiful!" He turns to me in the car. "Next year Brian is going to be on that fucking list -- you mark my words!"
"What about me, Jimmy? Not even a mention of ME on the fucking 'Movers and Shakers' list, huh? I guess 'Entertainment Weekly' thinks I had nothing to do with 'The Olympian.'"
"This isn't just about 'The Olympian,' Ron -- this is bigger. Much bigger." And Jimmy smiles. He is so fucking pleased with himself.
"Thanks a fucking lot, Jimmy!"
He pulls the BMW up at Marina del Rey. Before us is a harbor packed with boats. Thousands of boats.
"How the fuck are we supposed to find ONE boat in this armada?" says Jimmy, parking his car and looking around.
"I have the slip number -- I guess that's how." I take out a piece of paper with the number written on it in Brian's looping handwriting.
We wander for about forty-five minutes until we find the right place. The right boat. It isn't a very big boat at all. I guess I was expecting a yacht. This is definitely NOT a yacht. It only looks to be about thirty-five feet long and has a slightly battered aspect to it, although someone -- Popeye, apparently -- has freshly painted it. White with blue trim.
"'La Diva,'" reads Jimmy off the back of the boat. "This has GOT to be it, Ron. Look at the top of the thing!" Jimmy points to a little pole sticking out of a bridge on the top of the boat. Three flags are flying -- the American flag on top, the Irish flag underneath, and the Rainbow flag below that. "Ahoy, matey!" calls Jimmy.
Brian pokes his head out of the cabin door and sees us. "Shit!"
"Is that any way to greet your guests?" Jimmy laughs. "We are now ready for a cruise around the harbor in your fine vessel -- captained by a man who has made cruising into a fine art. Unlike some people, I have dressed for the occasion." Jimmy holds up his foot to show that he's wearing tennis shoes. "Can we come aboard?"
"No one is stopping you," says Brian. And Jimmy hops into the boat like a marauding pirate. I try to follow. "Hold it!" Brian puts his hand out to stop me.
"Jimmy's right. You can't come on with those shoes. You'll ruin my deck."
"But these are Prada shoes!"
"Yes, I know. Very nice. The 2000 collection. You also have the same pair in dark blue and ox blood red. But you can't wear them on the boat. You should have let me know me you were coming down here, Ron. I would have told you to wear boat shoes or sneakers."
"Sneakers? Give me a break, Brian! I haven't worn sneakers since I was fifteen years old!"
But Brian is adamant. "Just take off your shoes, then. That will be all right."
"How was I supposed to let you know we're coming, Brian?" I bitch, taking off my shoes. "You won't answer your fucking cell! Who have you got hidden down here anyway?"
He looks right at me. "Nobody. Just myself."
And I believe him. There is no sign of anyone else on the boat or lurking nearby. Just Brian.
Jimmy is jumping around like a fucking monkey, pestering Brian for a ride. But I'm taking in the whole situation. A lot of his stuff is already here. His I-Book and a printer, some CDs and a potable CD player, a few paperbacks, some casual clothing, more boating magazines. Also a photo of him and his son. And another of Brian and Justin standing on another, smaller boat. Grinning, with their arms around each other. The kid has a tee shirt that says 'First Mate' on it! First fucking Mate! It must have been taken this summer on that vacation with those women and the baby. He never mentioned that the kid was with him there -- but he didn't have to. I knew he was. Justin is ALWAYS there. And Brian doesn't bother trying to hide the photo, either. He doesn't give a shit what I think anymore. It's so obvious. What I'm getting at home is lip service. Period.
I glance around again at the things he's brought down here and I get a funny feeling. Like he is a little too comfortable on this boat -- comfortable in a way he never is at the house. "Brian, what are you going to actually do with this boat? I mean, really? Tell me the truth."
He stares at me as if the answer is self-evident. "I'm going to live on it, Ron," he says, without a trace of irony.
"Live? On THIS? Brian -- your fucking CLOSET at home is bigger than this whole boat! Where are you going to put all your clothes?"
"I'll manage," he says. "Maybe I don't really need as many clothes as I used to. Or want as many."
I frown. "Of course you need all your clothes, Brian. Now more than ever. You're a fucking movie star!"
Brian smiles. "Sure. A fucking movie star. Whatever you say, Ron."
"It isn't what I say, Brian! It's the truth!" I look around the cramped cabin. My head is practically brushing the ceiling. Brian will need a fucking chiropractor from bending over all the time in here. "Brian, does this thing even have a fucking bathroom? Or a shower? Or do you just douse yourself with seawater every morning?"
"Sure it has a bathroom." He opens a door that looks like it's a pantry cupboard.
I look inside. "You have got to be fucking kidding!" There isn't even enough room to turn around in the thing! The toilet looks like a toy and the shower is worse.
Jimmy looks over my shoulder. "Cozy!" Jimmy smiles fiendishly. "You'd have to be very friendly with the person you shower with in THERE!"
I just glare at Jimmy. He's no help at all. Everything has to be a fucking joke to Jimmy! He grabs a beer out of Brian's tiny refrigerator and goes out to sit on the back deck.
When Jimmy is gone, I turn to Brian again. "And where do you sleep?"
Brian points to the front of the boat. "Forward."
I follow his glance and look 'forward.' He opens another door, revealing two narrow bunks. "Brian, your legs are longer than this! You can't possibly sleep in here!"
"I have been."
"Well, I don't believe it."
Brian shrugs his shoulders. "Believe what you want, Ron. But I'm going to live here." He stares at me evenly. "Eventually."
The way he says it, I believe him. And I feel my heart sinking. "Brian -- what's wrong with staying at the house? Everything has been going fine between us. Just fine! I mean...." I'm grabbing at straws. At anything. "I think you owe me more than this, Brian."
"I owe you what, Ron? The 'deal'? Is that it, Ron? Something about living at the house until the first of the year. Then I can find my own place, right? So, what's wrong with here? I'll need some time to get the boat in shape before I can stay here full time. Besides, I need somewhere of my own to unwind a little in the meantime."
"But, Brian -- I thought that... Things haven't been like that, Brian! I thought that they were... that...." I falter. I have to consider all this much more. Brian is fucking working me this way and that way! I don't know how to react anymore. Except that I can't let him go. Not NOW!
"I said I remember the 'deal,' Ron. Do YOU?" He sits down at the galley table. "I've got to have somewhere I can clear my head. And I can't do it in YOUR house. I can't relax there. Unless I'm drunk -- or stoned. And I don't want to be drunk or stoned all the time." He sighs. "Not anymore." And he just keeps looking away from me, out at the water.
I have to get away from Brian at that moment. I can't fucking THINK when he's in the room! Gay fucking Kryptonite!
I go out of the cabin and onto the back deck. Jimmy is surveying the harbor like Captain Bligh. Jimmy MUST have been a pirate in a previous life -- that would explain so much about him. "You know, Ron -- this is where Dennis Wilson drowned."
I look at Jimmy like he's insane. Which he is, of course. And I'm not kidding. "What ARE you talking about?"
"Dennis Wilson. Drummer for the Beach Boys? Brian Wilson's brother?"
"Yes, Jimmy -- I've heard of him! We just SAW Brian Wilson play at the Landmine Charity two weeks ago! I know who DENNIS Wilson was."
Jimmy smiles that famous goofy smile. "Dennis had a boat here at Marina del Rey and he got really smashed on vodka and he fell overboard and drowned. About ten years ago or so. Around Christmas. Don't you remember reading about it?"
"Yes, I remember," I say. And I do remember it -- now that Jimmy has brought it up. "And thanks for that image, Jimmy. Now, all I can do is picture Brian, drunk or high or both, falling into the water and sinking like a rock to the bottom of the harbor. Jesus, Jimmy! Cheer me up a little, why don't you?"
"Just a little FYI for you, Ron."
"I wouldn't worry too much," says another voice. "Don't queers usually float?" Brian comes out of the cabin carrying a bottle of Absolut and a couple of glasses. "Light in the loafers, so I've heard."
"Talk about timing!" said Jimmy, putting down his bottle of beer and reaching for the real booze. He plops down in a deck chair and pours a big shot. "Now THIS is the fucking life!"
"Don't get too comfortable, Jim," I warn him. "You have some big dinner tonight. Some charity committee that Tess is on. I promised Tess I'd have you back before 7:00."
"I may have to miss that function, Ron." Jimmy looks set for the evening. He's grinning that patented Hardy grin again. Brian sits down in the chair next to Jimmy and pours a double for himself.
"And now I get to stand here and watch you two drink?"
"Not if you join the party, Ron." Jimmy offers me the bottle of Absolut.
"No, thank you." Especially not after that Dennis Wilson story. Thanks again for that, Jimmy. Not for the first time do I fervently wish that I could drink like these guys. But I can't. Maybe you really DO have to be an insane Irishman to manage it. And Brian and Jimmy qualify as both. Whenever I drink, it's a disaster. I get sick and weird and pitiful. Not like Brian, who can put away more liquor than any human being I've ever seen and still function -- until he's just on the verge of collapsing totally. Or Jimmy, who gets more and more Jimmy-like as he gets smashed. Funnier. More charming. Goofier. Until he finally quietly passes out. I wish I could do that. Because I'd like to get drunk. Really, really drunk. Drunk enough to fall off this fucking boat like Dennis fucking Wilson! That would end my troubles for sure.
Because I'm picturing Jimmy, suddenly unavailable because he's down here playing Captain Kydd for the afternoon. And whatever OTHER little pirate games Brian can think of, too! Then there's Tess, calling me to go down and retrieve her husband because that's what I have promised to do -- retrieve Jimmy whenever SHE insists on it. 'Save him' from himself, which really means to save him from Brian. She thinks that will preserve her marriage. I personally think Tess is living in a fantasy world where Jimmy is the 'Perfect Husband' instead of a perfect fuck up. The 'Most Powerful Actor in Hollywood' and his big secret is that he can't keep away from his co-star's perfect ass or his tremendous dick! Put THAT on the cover of 'Entertainment Weekly'!
And I'm picturing Brian, down here and out of reach, floating away from me whenever he has the whim. Living on THIS? This thing that's about as big as a bathtub at the Beverly Palms Hotel! Learning that he doesn't need all of his clothes and toys and other shit. If he hasn't figured that out already. Maybe tricking. With Eugene. With countless waiters and beach bums he's picked up on Venice Beach. With Jimmy, maybe. Definitely drinking. Absolut. Jim Beam. Tequila. Anything. And snorting every kind of powder he can get his hands on! Falling into the brackish water of the Marina while he's stoned out of his mind. THAT fucking picture in my head, again! Wonderful.
And it isn't a very long jump to seeing that fucking kid on this boat! That Justin -- standing on the deck in a little sailor-boy suit! So cute with his blond hair and his big ass! 'First Mate' -- what the fuck! Pouring the vodka martinis for Brian -- maybe for Jimmy, too. Why not? He provides service with a smile, I'm sure. For Brian three certainly is nowhere near a crowd! The more, the merrier.
The bright sun reflecting on the water and the smell of the fishy marina and the gasoline from the engines are giving me the queen headache of all time. And I know right now that those headaches are only just beginning.
Continue on to "'La Diva' -- Part 3", the final section of this chapter.
©Gaedhal, November 2002
Send Gaedhal any comments, critiques, suggestions. I welcome all of your feedback on this chapter.
Updated December 1, 2002