This is Part 3 of Chapter 102 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "'La Diva' -- Part 2", the previous section.
The narrator is Ron Rosenblum, featuring Brian Kinney, Jimmy Hardy, Tess Hardy, Larry, Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Brian and Jimmy -- and Lilith, too -- are causing Ron some grief. Los Angeles, October 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.
It's early and I'm trying to get some work done in my office at the studio. It's mainly reading memos and initialing things to give to Ivy to send along, but it's this kind of shit work that takes up so much of my time when I could be reading new scripts or writing or even scouting locations. And the thought of scouting locations reminds me to find out about that Eastwood film, the remake of 'Red River' that I was working on earlier in the year, the one Eastwood and I talked about on Maui. And now Brian gets a copy of the fucking thing -- and my name is nowhere to be seen!
I got into the office before 7:00 a.m. Why not? I barely slept all night, with Brian out at that fucking boat. How can I keep an eye on Brian when I can't even see him? It was bad enough when he was down in the poolhouse, but now he's REALLY out of reach! Damn it.
Ivy buzzes me. "Tess Hardy on the line."
Wonderful. She'll either be bitching about the coming press junket that Jimmy has to go on with Brian, or else trying to rope me into some charity thing. She's on every fucking committee in town, from AIDS, to the Humane Society, to the Save Our Hollywood Heritage Foundation, and she hits me up for donations of my time and cash for every single one of them!
But Tess doesn't waste any time with the preliminaries. "Ron, when did you see Jimmy last?"
"What?" I say, completely confused. "What are you talking about, Tess?"
"Jimmy. I want to know when was the last time you saw him?"
I stare at the phone, "Yesterday. Um, last evening. Jimmy dropped me off at the house after we left Marina del Rey. I assumed that he was coming straight home. I knew that he had some dinner to go to."
"Yes, with the vice president in charge of production of Terra Nova Studios!" she almost yells. Terra Nova Studios is the studio that I'm sitting in at this very moment. The one that co-produced 'The Olympian' with Jimmy's production company. And now Tess is telling me that Jimmy stood up Warren Cushman, who is the closest thing either of us, as film producers, have to a boss around here. Jimmy is lucky that the 'Entertainment Weekly' article that basically canonizes him in this town is coming out real soon! Because you just don't stand up Warren Cushman and live! Unless you are Jimmy Hardy and think you can get away with anything. And I do mean ANYTHING!
"Tess, I don't know where Jimmy IS! He was heading home when he left me at the house! I swear to God!" Now I'm beginning to panic. What the fuck has happened to him? This is NOT like Jimmy at all. That whole nightmare when Brian was missing for almost four days comes flooding back! "Tess, have you called the police? They should be looking for his car! He might have been carjacked or something!"
Tess makes a disgusted noise. "NOW who is the damned drama queen around here, Ron?"
"What the fuck do you mean?"
"I mean that Jimmy wasn't carjacked. He wasn't kidnapped. Think about where the hell did you two go yesterday, anyway, Ron?"
"Why, down to Marina del Rey, you know that, Tess. Down to find Brian's boat...." And now I know exactly where Jimmy is. And Tess knows it, too. Obviously. "Shit," I say.
"Shit is right, Ron! Go down there and get him. Now! Or there will be hell to pay, Ron. And I mean it!" Tess slams her phone down so hard that my poor ear rings.
This is exactly what I don't need right now.
I go down to the marina and park the Mercedes next to Jimmy's BMW, which is sitting in front of the dock where 'La Diva' keeps his namesake.
But Brian's slip is empty. I have no idea where the fuck they've gone. I've been ringing both Brian's and Jimmy's cellphones ever since Tess hung up on me. No response. Of course.
There's a guy sitting on a boat across from where 'La Diva' should be. It's well before noon, but he's got a fucking beer in his hand already -- and it doesn't look like his first of the day, either.
"Excuse me, but have you seen the boat that's usually docked here? I mean, have you seen it this morning? There are two guys on the boat -- have you talked to either of them? This morning? Or even last night?"
The guy stares at me, slack-jawed. This is going to be fucking impossible!
"Why are you looking for them?" the man finally says, between swigs of beer.
"I'm a friend of theirs." The guy shrugs. "Please, Mr...?"
"Okay, Larry. You MUST know who they are? Don't you? You MUST know Jimmy? Huh?"
The guy shrugs again. "I might. You with the cops? Or some newspaper? Who the hell are you, anyway?"
"No! I told you, I'm a friend of theirs. My name is Ron. Maybe Brian has mentioned me?" The guy stares, blankly. "Jimmy's wife is looking for him and about ready to call the police if he doesn't contact her, so I came down to see if I could get him to fucking call home! Is that such a crime? Huh, Larry?"
"I guess not, but you know, Ron -- guys get boats so they can get AWAY from their wives and stuff like that. So I don't think I should say anything more -- even to you, Ron. If you really ARE a friend." And good old Larry punctuates this grand statement with a loud belch.
"I AM, Larry, believe me. But the fact remains that I don't want to have to call the fucking Coast Guard to go out and bring back Jimmy Hardy and drag him off that fucking boat! But I will -- if I have to!" Now I'm shouting. I don't know what else to do but shout. It's about the only recourse I have left.
"Whoa, Ron! Chill out, man!" says Larry. "Come on and sit down." He motions me onto his boat, which is a lot larger, but decidedly dirtier and more cluttered than Brian's fastidious vessel. I've actually learned my lesson and am wearing an old pair of running shoes, although Larry's deck doesn't look like it could be any more scuffed up.
Larry guides me into an old folding chair and tries to hand me a beer. "No thanks. Really." The thought of beer at this hour turns my stomach -- among all the other thoughts that are turning my stomach. Larry goes over to a radio, picks up a receiver, and begins talking. I hear him mumbling and laughing into it. After a couple of minutes, Larry puts down the receiver, turns, and pulls another can of beer out of a cooler.
"Well, your boys should be heading back here pretty soon."
I stand up. "Why didn't you let me talk to them! Are they on that radio? Tell Jimmy to answer his fucking cellphone! Tell him to call his fucking WIFE!"
Larry plops himself in another folding chair. "I said they're on their way, so you might as well chill, man. They'll be back when they're back. You might as well hang with me and enjoy the morning."
And I have no choice but to sit on this man's filthy boat and watch him drink beer for the next forty-five minutes. I wait anxiously until I finally see 'La Diva' making her way up the row of boats to her slip. I climb out of Larry's boat and stand up on the dock to meet them.
"Why look who's waiting for his ship to come in!" calls Jimmy. He's standing on the front of the boat in a pair of shorts and one of Brian's tee shirts -- I recognize the logo for some amusement park he was at this summer -- with a rope in his hand. Brian is driving the boat. He steers it into the slip and Jimmy jumps off and wraps the rope around a post. "So, Ronnie Boy! How ya doing? And I was expecting Melina Mercouri! You know, Ron? 'Never on Sunday'? She meets all the sailors when they come into port?"
"I get the reference, Jimmy! I'm not a fucking moron! I introduced YOU to that film -- remember?"
"I know, Ron<" smirks Jimmy. "You're like a one man course in the Art of the Film! Where would I be without you?"
"Don't be a smart-ass, Jimmy. I bet you can't guess who sent me down here?"
But Jimmy isn't seeing me. He stares beyond me and gives good old Larry a wave. "Hey, Larr! How's tricks?"
"I been entertaining your buddy here, Jimmy. You owe me a case of beer for that!" says Larry, narrowing his eyes at me.
"Will do, Larr!"
"Jimmy -- will you please pay attention to me? For five fucking minutes? How the hell could you be so stupid as to miss a dinner with Warren Cushman? What are you doing, Jimmy? What?"
Jimmy finally turns and looks me in the eye. "I'm listening, Ron. Tess sent you down here to round me up -- and, like a good little ass-kisser, you're doing just that. So, I'm coming with you. You don't need to bring in the security boys from the studio to tie me up and carry me home. I'm fucking coming, Ron."
Brian appears on the back deck and hands Jimmy a paper bag over the railing. "Here's your shit, Jim."
"Thanks, Bri. Sorry we didn't make it to breakfast -- but we were interrupted. Rudely, as the cliche goes. I'll catch you next time."
"Don't make ME the fucking bad guy here, Jimmy!" I storm at him. "This is between you and Tess! Between YOU and your WIFE!"
"Oh, is it? Then what are YOU doing in the middle of it, Ron? Why are YOU here?"
"What am I doing in the middle, Jimmy? What the fuck do you THINK?" I glance over at Brian, who is watching this little exchange with placid interest. He's wearing his fucking 'Zen' face, like he's not to blame for anything. No, never to blame for anything!
Jimmy shrugs and we walk back to the cars. Brian is standing on the deck of his boat, watching us. He hasn't said a word to me and it doesn't look like he's going to. I don't give a fuck whether he says anything or not. I just keep marching Jimmy up the dock until he's in his car -- and hope that he drives home. Hope that he and Tess have a talk about a few things. Because I can't fucking deal with this shit anymore.
Because my REAL problem is still standing on that boat. MY problem. Let Tess handle her own life and let me try to handle mine -- and hope to God that they don't converge anymore. Faint fucking hope!
"Ron, level with me for once. I'm an old lady, maybe, but I'm NOT stupid. I'm also NOT deaf and blind. What is going on with you and Brian? And don't tell me 'nothing' because I know it's not nothing! I could hardly miss it the whole time I was there."
Another pointless conversation with my mother is NOT 'making my day,' as Clint would say. And I've been trying to get Eastwood's agent on the phone about this 'Red River' project and I can't get through for love or money. Before, he was eager to take my calls. He was so hot on this project because Eastwood seemed so enthusiastic about it, especially after I gave him that script on Maui. And now my mother is on the line -- another thing I DON'T need right now.
She's been back in Florida for three days before she finally calls me. But other than checking to make certain she got home all right, I haven't called her, either. It's pointless. We were barely getting along the entire time she was here. That she's on Brian's side is not in dispute -- but she won't even give ME the benefit of the doubt in all this. Me -- her only son! I sometimes think she enjoys watching me fuck up so that she can criticize me. Or compare me to the 'perfect' Brian! If she only knew!
"It isn't any of your business, Mama. So, why not leave it alone, okay?"
"Ronnie, anything in your life is my business, believe me. So don't tell me not to notice. And don't tell me not to ask! Why are you purposely trying to ruin things with Brian? I saw the way you were acting, the things you were saying, Ronnie. What IS wrong with you?"
"It isn't what's wrong with ME, Mother -- it's what's wrong with Brian! What's wrong with US!"
"Then why did it look to me that YOU were the one being -- excuse the expression -- an asshole the entire time I was visiting? Every time Brian went out of his way to do something nice, you shot him right down. And he did nothing BUT go out of his way for me, Ronnie -- which is more than I can say for YOU! You treated me like an unwelcome intruder. Someone who was disturbing your precious little routine. A routine apparently that consists mainly of being unpleasant to everyone and insulting your boyfriend at every possible opportunity."
"You're only seeing one side, Mama. You aren't seeing just what a bastard Brian can be. He's only showing you his good traits. Brian being a 'nice guy' -- so you'll be on HIS side!" Jesus, I need a fucking Xanax right now!
"Ronnie, why in the name of heaven would Brian care what side I was on? I'm YOUR mother, after all, Ronald. He should tell me to get out of his way! He should tell me to fuck off, if he really didn't give a darn about you, Ronnie!"
"Mother! Your language!" I can't believe she's used the fucking f-word! Now I need TWO Xanax!
"Oh, grow up, Ronnie. And I don't only mean about my language. I mean about YOUR attitude. What is it you're doing? Tell me the truth. If you really hate Brian and are so sick of him, then why are you hanging on to him so tightly? It's obvious even to a dense old woman like me that you are terrified he's going to leave. So I don't understand why every word that comes out of your mouth is calculated to make him do just that! I never thought you were a stupid boy, Ronnie. Naive, maybe. Thoughtless, definitely. But never stupid. And never cruel. And I think you ARE cruel. And not only to poor Brian, but to yourself. I don't understand it."
"It's useless, Mama. Useless and pointless even to discuss this anymore."
"So, you ARE trying to make him leave? That IS it? So you can blame HIM, then, and whine to me how it was all Brian's fault that things didn't work out? That isn't just stupid, Ronnie -- it's pitiful! Positively pitiful!" My mother makes a series of little sighing and clicking noises as she ponders her only son's foolish actions. And I don't blame her, really, because of the way it must look to her. But she doesn't understand! I AM the wronged party here! But Brian is too good of an actor to let her see through him.
"You give up, Ronnie? After all that?"
"I'm not giving up," I say. What I can't tell her is the reality of the situation. The reality of exactly how I'm keeping control -- or trying and now failing to keep control of Brian. Because I HAVE failed at doing it any other way. Failed miserably. She's right about that. I've given up believing that anything but threats, anything but deals and bargaining and trading favors for the appearance of normality, will keep Brian in line. It's sick, and I know it's sick. But it's the only thing I have left. If I even have that.
"That sounds to me like giving up, Ronnie. Feh! And after all the agony you went through way back when! And all the suffering since! Then you finally get what you want -- or think that you've wanted all these years -- and you screw it up. Purposely. I'm beginning to think that poor Jane got off easy when you dumped her! Three husbands SHE'S been through -- but you were the bullet she really dodged!"
"What the hell are you talking about, Mama?" I say, feeling a strange chill at the back of my neck. "What 'agony' way back when?"
She sniffs derisively. "What am I talking about, Ronnie? What have we been talking about all this time? Brian, of course! Didn't you spend the better part of a decade moping around over him? And then when you get a chance with him, THIS is how you handle it? You're completely hopeless, Ronnie! Hopeless!"
Now I'm gaping at the receiver. Staring at it as if I can see her expression in Florida. Read what I've been missing in a hundred conversations with her over the past year. "Are you telling me... that you KNEW about Brian? That you KNEW that I knew him back... in New York? That you knew he was...." I don't know how to go on with this.
"Ronnie, excuse me please, but don't you send me a copy of everything you've ever done? Every movie you've made and every episode of television? Especially those videos of 'Murder She Wrote' and 'Matlock'? Some of those were so good, Ronnie! I was so proud that you wrote them. Or directed them. Whatever."
"Yes, Mama, I know you're proud of my 'Matlock' connection."
"So, you think that I don't watch EVERYTHING of yours? Even that silly movie about the big men running around the woods with almost no clothes on, being chased by skunks? Now THAT was a silly, silly film, Ronnie."
"I know, Mother. 'Wild Bears' was meant to be a goofy, straight-to-video queer comedy. It wasn't meant for YOU."
"I understand that, Ronnie. But 'Red Shirt' -- what was THAT meant to be? A serious piece of work, I think. Which it was. It IS."
"You... watched 'Red Shirt'?" And I don't know why I'm surprised. I sent her a copy long ago. But a documentary -- I guess I assumed that she would be bored by it. She has never said a word to me about it in all these years. But she has seen it. And she recognized.... "You recognized... Brian?"
"Of course, Ronnie. What do you think? Brian looks just the same, no matter what name you called him. Jack or whatever it was. He's taller, maybe. More muscular, definitely -- not that skinny kid anymore! And handsomer, with such beautiful clothes now. But are you trying to tell me that you think people wouldn't know it was him? I recognized him from the film the minute I met him at your house! I didn't say anything at the time because YOU didn't say anything to me about it. I didn't want to embarrass him -- he's such a sensitive boy and that was obviously such a painful thing to go through."
"Mother, I...." And I can't continue. I'm trying to process it all. Everything my mother knows and has known for almost a year. About Brian and me in New York. About... everything.
"Which is why your whole attitude stinks, Ronnie! Unless you were lying to yourself all these years about what you really wanted. About what would really make you happy. Because when you got that thing -- that person -- you went out of your way to prove that it didn't make you happy at all. Because you wouldn't let it make you happy. And that's why you have to punish that boy. For disappointing you. For not living up to YOUR little fantasy."
"I'm NOT doing that, Mama! Believe me!"
She snorts into the phone. "YOU believe ME, Ronnie -- no one can live up to a fantasy. You have to take the reality for what it is. That much I HAVE learned in sixty-eight years on this earth. And I think you would be kinder if you told that boy to leave right now, before you do something that you are sorry for. It will be kinder to him -- and kinder to yourself. Because I think you are better off by yourself, sitting alone in that house or in your office, brooding on how rotten life is to you. Then you can make your movies in peace and you won't have to be bothered with any silly people and their little frailties and their little tragedies. Except to write about them. Or make movies about them. But not try to live with them in your life. That's too much, Ronnie. Too much for you. And too much for poor Brian. Because BOTH of you are thoroughly miserable."
I still don't know what to say to her. She just doesn't understand. She can't understand. What I've earned -- and what I deserve. And what I'm going to KEEP -- no matter what. No matter WHAT. And it has nothing to do with kindness OR fantasy -- and everything to do with what is MINE. No matter what anyone thinks. Anyone. Because it's already beyond that. Beyond anything. Except Fate. And THAT is what I'm counting on.
Brian comes in very late that night from the boat, dragging the duffle bag full of his dirty clothes. He's leaving for Chicago tomorrow. He and Jimmy are beginning the press tour and all those reviewers and film writers will get a junket crammed full of studio freebies. And they'll get Brian and Jimmy -- wrapped up in red ribbon.
I should be going along with them -- but I can't. There's too much to do before the premiere. And if I can't trust Brian out of my sight -- then I just can't. There's nothing I can do about him. Or about Jimmy. If Tess is so concerned, then let HER go to Chicago herself. Except Jimmy won't allow it. He has too much fun without her on these press tours. He loves playing the King Bee too much. And now he's got the Queen Bee along with him --- and who knows what kind of trouble the two can get into together?
"Brian?" I say, watching him throw a couple more items into his big suitcase. He dumps out the duffle bag on the floor and sorts through the jumbled up clothes, like he's looking for something. "Brian, could you stop that for a second and look at me?"
He sighs heavily, but he stops. And he looks at me. And I can't read a single thing in that look. Not a single fucking thing. "I'm listening, Ron."
"What are you doing with Jimmy? What are you trying to prove, Brian?"
He looks away again. I've lost him already. He doesn't 'do' explanations. Brian doesn't think he has to make sense, like normal people. And I guess he doesn't, since he's as far from normal as any person I've ever known. Except maybe myself.
"Nothing. I'm not proving anything, Ron. YOU brought Jimmy down to the boat, Ron, not me. Then you guys left -- and he came back. What am I supposed to do? Throw him overboard?"
"I don't know, Brian. I don't know what you're supposed to do. But why do you have to fuck him? Why? Is it really necessary?"
He glances up again. "What makes you think that's what happened, Ron?"
"It's what Tess thinks happened. And I can't disagree with her -- knowing you. And knowing Jimmy, too. Because Jimmy thinks he can do anything he fucking wants and get away with it! After all, he's the 'Most Powerful Actor in Hollywood'! So fucking his male co-star right under everyone's nose would be just the kind of thing that would delight him, especially on the eve of this press tour. Answering all those reporters' questions with cute little double-meaning replies and smiling to himself. Giving YOU knowing little looks and whispering to you -- Jimmy can't get enough of that shit. And you are just going along with it. Playing his game, Brian. HIS game."
"It isn't Jimmy's game that I'm interested in, Ron. You know that. It's never Jimmy's game." And Brian goes right back to packing his suitcase. It seems I'm always watching Brian pack a fucking suitcase when I'm trying to talk to him seriously.
I pick up the Eastwood script from the nightstand and open it up. The remake of 'Red River.' It's definitely my script -- reformatted and with a few things switched around, but it's mine. And that's the way things have been lately -- just when I think something is mine, it gets all switched around.
And I watch Brian close up the suitcase and kick the duffle bag out of his way as he heads for the shower. It looks like he's not going down to the poolhouse tonight, although I have no idea why. To show me that he's still 'in control' here in some fucked up way? Or because he's too tired to walk back downstairs. Or -- what? I don't know, but I'm not going to fight it. I can't fight it. Not that way anymore.
I have to find other ways to do it. Other ways to turn Brian around and make him see what's right. Or else make certain that he can't see it any other way -- ever again.
Continue on to "Outlaw Blues -- Part 1", the next chapter.
©Gaedhal, December 2002
Send Gaedhal any comments, critiques, suggestions. I welcome all of your feedback on this chapter.
Updated December 4, 2002