This is Part 1 of Chapter 84 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "Beast and Beauty", the previous chapter.
The narrator is Brian Kinney, featuring Justin Taylor, Sir Kenneth Fielding, Dorian Folco, Diane Rhys, Rowan Conley, Ron Rosenblum.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Brian has an unexpected encounter. August 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.
The studio car picks me up at 6:30 on Tuesday morning. Back to the studio, on schedule after my little 'detour' to the Camden police station lock-up. My hair is still wet and I don't bother to shave -- I never do until I get to the studio. Sometimes Dorian wants that disheveled look. And I look pretty fucking disheveled.
While last night I had the conscientious aim of getting a decent night's sleep to look pretty for my scenes, I was still up half the night fucking Justin -- and the other half obsessing over him. This isn't good. Well, it IS good. The fucking part was especially good. It's the obsessing part that bothers me. It doesn't seem right because it doesn't seem like ME. I feel all turned around.
I mean, in one way, I've never felt better. Surer of myself. And I don't have any doubts at all about Justin. I know how he feels -- he can even TELL me how he feels without me getting defensive and apprehensive. His is the simple approach. He loves me. Yes, Justin is the given in this situation. But I'm starting to feel so possessive. And I hate that in myself.
I want to wake him up before I leave. And ordinarily I would have just because I wanted him awake. But I can't think like that now. It can't always be about what I want. It has to be about what HE wants, too. What WE want. And I've never been one to do WE. That's a hard one. So damn hard.
I know he's going for his riding lesson this morning at 10:00 a.m. And then to the New Tate Gallery to do some sketching. I know his schedule exactly. So I can contact him if I have to, I say, if anything comes up. But the truth is that I want to know where the fuck he is every minute. What he's doing. Just because I WANT to know.
And this is where it all gets sticky. This is where it begins to scare me. Because what happens when wanting to know where he is and what he's doing all the time becomes NEEDING to know where he is and what he's doing all the time? And then becomes trying to control where he is and what he's doing? Or what he's thinking? When does love become obsession? When do you cross that line and get like Ron? When will I?
When Justin told me last night about Kip -- I fucking didn't know what to think! He brought it up so off-handedly. But I was watching his face -- he's been bursting to tell me this for a long time. Jesus! That was almost a year and a half ago! And he's kept it secret until now. I don't know how, when he's such a little chatterbox. He literally saved my flat, stupid ass!
Now all I can think about is Justin. Setting Kip up. What did he let him do? Suck him off, probably. Not fuck him. Never that. He's never let anyone else do that. I know. I think I know that. Not that it should matter one fucking bit! I mean, I don't own him. And I certainly didn't own him back then. And the way he must have scared the shit out of Kip! Of course, Kip is a little weasel and a coward... But Justin -- he's got balls, man! I can't stop thinking about it.
And the way he said, "I'll do anything for you, Brian. ANYTHING. Do you understand?" Yes, I understand, Justin. I understand. NOW, I absolutely understand.
Because he had NO fucking reason to put himself on the line like that. I'd been nothing but an asshole to him. Treated him like dirt, again and again. Picked him up, fucked him, used him -- Yes, his mother was right, Deb was right! Let him live in the loft after his old man went ballistic, but never missed an opportunity to humiliate him and show him exactly where he stood with me -- nowhere! Goddamn Hotlanta! Shit.
I should have known that there must be a reason I was so fucking eager to control him. To put him in his fucking place. Because he was starting to control ME. He was getting to me -- getting inside my heart, maybe even some place deeper -- and I couldn't stand the feeling.
But he would do anything for me. That's what Justin said and he meant it. Because he loved me, even THEN. He said it in a million ways, and I ignored it. Cooking those silly meals and setting the table like it was a special occasion. Writing me fucking little notes and putting them in my pocket. Tossing me little looks in the diner. Folding my fucking underwear! Coming over to the loft with lemon squares or pints of ice cream and then coming and coming and coming until I was ready to drop! But I cut him off every time he tried to say it for real.
And then he put his body on the line with a guy he hated and knew was out to ruin me. He pulled my dick out of the fire and then didn't use it to get on my good side. To flaunt it. To parade just how much he could do for me. Instead, he never said a fucking thing. He didn't want me to think I 'owed' him something.
And now it's my turn. Because I'LL do anything I have to do to make sure HE doesn't get hurt. Or humiliated by anyone. By Ron. And that means those fucking videos. It's MY fault they exist and MY fault that Justin is on them.
And whatever I have to do to get them and make sure they're destroyed -- then I'll do it.
That's what he was doing in telling me about Kip. He was giving me permission. To do what I have to do. That he KNOWS what I have to do. How I have to deal with Ron.
I'm in make up when the first call comes in. There will be others during the day. Apparently he's been showing up at Dorian's office and even at the studio -- but Dorian has banned him from entering. He's stayed away from the hotel -- so far. But there's still the phone. Ron usually calls the minute he gets up and then at intervals all day long. He used to do it out in L.A., too. To keep track of me. He'd call me on my cellphone and then double check with Carmel to make sure I was really where I said I was. I thought it was kind of funny at first. At the end it wasn't so funny at all.
I should just break down and go over to the Dorchester and have it out with Ron. But I'm avoiding it. Avoiding the inevitable outcome. Avoiding having to solidify the deal that will threaten everything I've managed to admit to myself so far. The deal that will threaten me and Justin and any possibility of a future together. Because without taking care of this issue, Ron will NEVER leave me alone. Never leave US alone. Never allow us to go on and have any fucking kind of life.
But I need to be careful. I need to play my pieces deliberately. Because Ron is a poker player. But I'm a chess man. Two games. Two methods. Ron may think he's won the pot. He may cheat and pull all his cards out of his sleeve. My game will take longer -- but I don't plan to play to a draw.
I check my Filofax to look over the schedule again. A lot of the scenes we are doing today -- Tuesday -- are pick-up scenes. Short and easy. And I have a couple of brief things with Sir Ken. Then tomorrow -- Wednesday -- I go into the studio and do vocals for the songs. It'll just be me in there. The backing tracks were done weeks ago by the band -- good thing, because Charley Weston is locked in a rehab hospital somewhere out in Somerset. Then -- on Thursday and Friday -- I have those last scenes with Sir Kenneth. And that's a wrap for me. Then Justin and I can blow this town and have a little bit of rest and relaxation. And rimming. We'll make it R and R and R!
When I see Sir Kenneth coming out of wardrobe he greets me with a huge hug. I can't think of a way to let him know what a fucking lifesaver he's been on this trip. SIR Kenneth, indeed. This guy doesn't need a white horse and a sword to come to your rescue -- and I tell him so!
"No armor, Brian! Please, no! I quite prefer a caftan or a nice pair of my old tweeds!" He pats my shoulder. "I hear you are going to Harry's for the weekend. I'm so glad."
"Well, we can use the getaway -- and I didn't want Harry to think that there were any hard feelings about Justin's little run-in with that psychic woman. He seems okay about going, so who am I to be a jerk about it?"
"You could never be a 'jerk' about such a thing, dear boy. You are simply being protective. A natural instinct. Although I wouldn't be surprised to find that Justin is just as protective of YOU. Perhaps even more so."
"You don't know the half of it, Ken. He's saved my ass more than once. And will again, no doubt." Nick, Dorian's assistant director, comes to take me to the set. But I have to tell Sir Ken one more thing. "Remember that first day, when you and Kenroy drove us to the Chatterton? You said something like -- 'let the honeymoon begin'?"
"I do remember something of the sort." He raises his bushy brows at me.
"You were right about that. I just wanted to let you know."
I leave him in the hallway, laughing.
The garden behind the Chatterton is large and private, completely fenced and available only to guests. In other words, it's the perfect retreat for me to hide out and do some thinking after I get back a little early from today's shoot.
It's been a long fucking week. Nice to think that there's only one more day to go. But it's been a good week, too, in a lot of ways. The fallout from my bust seems to have died down. And even the stuff that came out after the initial articles was favorable. Dorian says that talking to the press and even giving out a few selected interviews was a good strategy. Maybe not being my usual asshole self also helped the situation.
"Plus," said Dorian this afternoon after I finished one of the last scenes with Ken. "It won't hurt my film that your name is out there in a positive light. As it is, you look like the innocent victim of some overly zealous police. And even Helene and her fantasy engagement makes you look like a gentleman in coming to her aid against a group of chair-throwing, drug-addled ruffians."
"But it was ALL bullshit, Dorian!"
"I know, Brian. But it doesn't matter what the truth is -- it's the perception. You were in advertising. You must sell yourself. You understand that clearly enough."
And I do. But it's still bullshit when the 'product' is ME.
And tomorrow it'll be over. I'll have TWO fucking films under my belt! Unbelievable. And I finally got back to Lew Blackmore, my agent, yesterday. He apparently has a pile of new offers, but I told him I couldn't even think about them right now. That he should consider that for the month of August I was officially 'on vacation.' I won't repeat the language he used when he heard THAT. He made the shit that comes out of Debbie Novotny's mouth sound like Sister Mary Immaculata's First Grade class back at St. Gabriel's.
And I finally did talk to Deb. And Diane. And everyone else who called to find out if they should start baking cakes with files in them. Diane was especially colorful at reaming me out. She kept harping on what I was doing to Justin.
"Jesus, Diane -- you haven't said one thing I haven't told myself. What do you think? I'm doing the best I can to make it up to him!"
"You BETTER -- or I'll tie you up in my apartment and make you listen to my father's polka records for a week! By the time I'm finished with you, you'll beg for an easy death!"
"Diane, please don't kill me! Not yet! I'm still trying!"
"Okay, but I'm keeping an eye on you -- because Justin has my number!" Diane enjoys threatening me. Her old man must have been a fucking terror to his Army recruits!
"Listen, Diane, the thing about Justin is that... see, it's this way...." I'm stumbling around very badly with this. If it's this hard to talk about me and Justin with Diane, how fucking impossible is it going to be to talk about it to Mikey? Or even Lindz? And I can just hear the comments from Melanie and the Nurk Twins, Em and Ted!
"What are you on about, Bridie?"
"Oh, fucking forget it! Why is this so hard?"
"So," she says. "You told him you loved him, didn't you? About freakin' time!"
"How... how did you know? Did Justin call you?" I'm floored.
"He didn't have to, you idiot! It's only so obvious that NASA can pick it up on their satellites orbiting the Earth! The only one who is surprised is YOU! Freakin' MEN! Queer or straight, they are ALL such dunderheads!" Diane reams me out for a few more minutes before I get called away by Dorian, but I assure her that I'm NOT fucking things up with Justin.
And that's the thing -- the stuff going on with Justin is the easiest of all. The best of all. Regardless of my worrying and obsessing, things are going great. Justin is so fucking happy all the time, he's practically wagging. And I'm having a hard time 'acting' sullen and pissed off on the set!
"You're smiling again, Brian," Dorian warns me in a scene when I am supposed to be showing poor Sir Ken some major rock star attitude.
"Sorry about that," I reply. But five minutes later I'm smiling again!
"Really, Brian," says Dorian later. "I know you are 'getting some' as they say in the States, but must you broadcast it to the entire set?"
"Dorian, I've been 'getting some' in spades since I was sixteen years old -- but never like this!" And Dorian -- who I always thought had a bit of a crush on me -- laughs and pats me on the back!
Yes, I'm doing just fine in that department. And now I've returned all my calls from the bust. Except one.
And Ron is STILL at the Dorchester. Still calling about every other hour, his blood pressure rising with every minute that goes by that I ignore him. I know he's using his time in London to make contacts for 'The Olympian' premiere here in December. So he isn't spending EVERY minute obsessing about me. Just every OTHER minute. I keep hoping that more movie business will call him back to the States. He can't stay in London indefinitely.
And because Ron is around, I've had Justin laying low. I also want him to elude the press and he wants to avoid his pal Rowan, so he's been either staying in the room, or slipping out the side door to go to the museums or galleries and spend the day away from the hotel while I'm working. And he's been dodging the dining room, too, especially in the morning when Rowan is on duty.
For instance, this morning, Kenroy picked him up very early so that he and Hughie could drive up to Cambridge to a big exhibit that one of Hughie's art professors is mixed up in. Hughie isn't Justin's favorite person, but he really wanted to meet some of Hughie's teachers and some other artists who were going to be involved. So, he left early and I decided to go down and get some coffee before the studio car came. Of course, Rowan was right there, with the pot of coffee, refilling my cup every time I set it down.
"Rowan -- it's all right. That's enough coffee."
"Can I get you some toast? Cereal?"
"Nothing, please. I have to leave shortly."
"On your own, now?"
"Yup. All by myself, just like the sappy song."
"Oh, I was wonderin' about that."
So, hopefully, Rowan got the hint. Finally.
The hotel found me one of those portable desks and I'm sitting on the iron bench in the garden, going over the script for tomorrow. I have actual lines, an actual speech to make, so it would be nice to have it memorized. I have to do the final big scene with Sir Ken. He actually has a little faith in my so-called acting talent, so I don't want to fuck it up.
My script looks like it's been attacked with a bottle of ink, it's so scribbled on and marked up. My compulsive annotating again. I'm a compulsive listmaker and scheduler, too. I can't help it. It's a control thing, I know. When you write things down, you can manipulate them. Move them around. Own them. I think of the stupid list I made when I thought I was going to lose my job and maybe my cushy lifestyle after the Kip fiasco. Listing my priorities. Loft. Clothes. Clubbing. Cosmetics. All material shit. All stuff that wouldn't even make the Top Ten today. It makes you think about how things in your life can change so radically.
I find myself listing some of the things I want to do before Justin and I leave England. Things to see. To buy. Gifts to get. A whole fucking week in the car with Justin. Driving around with the phone turned OFF! No tabloids. No Ron. No shit at all.
I'm in the middle of this little daydream when I look up. Rowan is standing there. Great. He's been sniffing around Justin since the first day we got here and now, just as we're leaving, he's STILL looking for him. If this fucking hotel hadn't been so quiet and so... congenial, I would have insisted that we move somewhere else a long time ago just to get this sullen little Mick away from Justin!
The kid has changed into his off-duty gear. He's not really bad-looking, although I'm not crazy about redheads. I probably would have fucked him without hesitating when I was nineteen. Of course, I would have screwed a tree stump at nineteen, so that's not a fair assessment. But I still don't like the kid. At all. Let's face it -- I'm jealous of him. I admit it. Because he and Justin were doing things together when I couldn't. Probably laughing together. Going to the pub for lunch. Not fucking, obviously. Justin made it very clear that Rowan doesn't interest HIM sexually. But Rowan IS interested in Justin and apparently he was pushing that interest in his scenes with Justin in the film -- which is why Justin is now ducking him.
So, I've been waiting for Rowan to make his big move on Justin. I mean, the kid isn't fucking blind, after all! He can obviously see that Justin is beautiful in a way he could never even hope to find again! But Rowan is incredibly slow. A little dense, even. Thankfully, because that means I don't have to pop him one. But Justin will be out of his reach soon, anyway, so it will be a moot point. We are almost all packed and we're leaving for the country as soon as I get back from the shoot tomorrow! So, fuck you, Rowan!
"Er-hmm." He is standing next to the bench, making cartoony noises of clearing his throat.
"Justin is GONE, Rowan. Don't even bother to ask where he went. He's gone and he isn't coming back." I look up. "And I'm not giving YOU the forwarding address!"
"You mean he isn't coming back -- at ALL?"
"Didn't I just say that? He's GONE! Departed. Left. Decamped. Flew the coop! Never to return!" I say, getting into a bit of a John Cleese wind up. "Okay? Satisfied?"
The kid turns and trudges off. I almost feel sorry for him. Maybe I was mean, but he's a pain in the ass! I wouldn't have put it past him to go over to Sir Ken's if he had any idea that Justin was out on a daytrip with Ken's boyfriend. Rowan is a gloomy bastard, but he's persistent.
I muck around with my script a while longer and then pack it in. I need to take a shower and get dressed because after the boys get back from Cambridge, they are picking up Sir Ken and then me, and we're all going to dinner at The Ivy. That's a place Ken has been raving about. All the movers and shakers eat there. THE place to see and be seen. And why not on our last night in London? Maybe afterwards we can dump off Ken and Hughie and Mr. Smith can take us for a long ride in the Rolls and Justin and I can fool around in the backseat.
I'm just out of the shower and messing with my hair -- as usual -- when there's a knock on the door. I almost tell Justin to answer it, but remember that he's still in Cambridge. I put on my blue robe and I'm still wet, so it's sticking to me in every damp spot.
On the other side of the door is Rowan Conley.
"Listen," I sigh. "I told you. Justin is NOT here!"
"I know," he says. And he saunters right in!
"Tell me -- are you really stupid? Or do you think that if I'm annoyed enough I'll give you a clue as to where he went? Because I won't. Even if I knew." There -- that ought to do it. Now scram!
"I'm not interested in where Justin is."
"You aren't?" I say, a little puzzled. What IS Rowan's game? He's stalking around the suite like he's looking for something. But most of Justin's things are already packed. It's MY shit that is still scattered all over the room in piles!
"Nah. I was wonderin' when he'd finally go." Rowan walks over to the minibar and helps himself to a bottle of brown ale, tipping it down his ruddy throat.
"Oh, you were wondering? So, you knew Justin was going away somewhere?" This is a different twist.
"Of course." Rowan turns and looks at me, confidently. "I was wonderin' when you'd get shed of him. Don't know how you stood him as long as you did. He never stops talkin'! It's enough to drive a fella 'round the bend."
I just stare at Rowan, my mouth open. "What the fuck are you saying?"
"I'm sayin' that if you give ME a go, I'll offer a much more satisfying choice."
"What!?" Now I'm really staggered. This is the last thing I expected!
"I've been waiting for you to catch a fuckin' clue."
I'm so taken aback by Rowan's ridiculous pass that I don't even notice that he is backing me up against the bed under that silly harem tent until I fall over onto it. Which is exactly what Rowan has intended.
Things are now taking on the dimensions of a French farce, complete with over-the-top boudoir, ludicrous seducer, and imperiled ingenue -- which is a role I don't find myself in very often. All we need is the outraged husband bursting in through the door with a shotgun!
"Will you get the fuck OFF of me?" I'm practically screaming.
But my ravisher isn't phased in the least. "Just relax. I know what I'm doin' -- really," he says, with a straight face.
"Oh, you do, do you?"
"Of course. You might fancy having a real man for a change. Once you see what I can do."
I'm trying as hard as I can NOT to laugh out loud. But I'm also a little curious as to what exactly constitutes what a 'real man' can accomplish -- as opposed to a 'real faggot,' I imagine. Which Rowan, no matter how many guys he's screwed, doesn't consider himself. And, I admit, that at a different time -- many a year ago -- and a different place -- say, the backroom at Babylon -- I would have gone with the flow and seen just what Rowan had to offer, redhead or not. It might have been hot. Maybe.
But now I have the dreadful vision of Justin, with Hughie and Sir Kenneth and even Kenroy Smith trailing behind him, walking into the room only to see the sulky Rowan on top of me on the bed. Maybe I've been involved with films too much lately, but I can picture this all too vividly. The whole scenario -- the hysterical screams, the fervid denials, the tears, the crashing of glass. But would this play as a comedy -- or a tragedy? Or a melodrama for some cable channel catering to women? I'm not sure which would pan out better....
"Okay, Rowan! You can stop right now!"
"I said, give me a chance to show what I can do!"
"This is NOT a fucking audition!" Or even an audition for fucking, I might add.
"Why not? If you like me, then you can take with you to California! I'll live in your mansion with you!"
"Rowan, that's not the point! I don't have a mansion. And I'm NOT looking for a replacement for Justin!"
"Of course you are! You must be. I've been watchin' you. You like regular habits. You like things just so. I know what you like to eat. Wear. Drink. Even what magazines you like to read. I've been observin' you since you first got here. I can do all the things Justin used to do. Easy. Do it better, too. And do THIS better!" I can feel his fairly imposing hard-on prodding my stomach.
"You don't understand, Rowan -- I don't even LIKE you! Not even a little!" And I have to get him off me before my own dick makes its traitorous interest all too apparent.
"You could get to like me. You'll get used to me soon enough. I'm quite handy. When we're out in California I can help you do all sorts of things. I'll answer your telephones and clean up the place."
"Right, I can see how handy you are. But we've got maids to answer the phone and do the cleaning. And I'm STILL not interested!"
Now Rowan has my blue robe completely undone and is proving that, contrary to his assurances to Justin, he actually DOES suck!
"If you don't fucking get off me, Rowan, I'm going to bop you with this ashtray!" I reach over and seize the heavy crystal piece from the bedside stand.
"Don't stop me NOW!" he wails.
But I better stop him -- or it will be too late to stop my cock! I grab the back of his neck and haul him off of me, rolling him over onto his back and holding him down. "You have two fucking minutes to get OUT OF HERE! And I don't want to see you here again! Get me?"
I believe that the light finally dawns for Mr. Conley. "You mean you want me to leave?"
"Yes! Thank you, Jesus! He GETS it!" I crawl off the bed and stand up, shaking the feel of him off me, like bugs. Rowan gets up, too, and lumbers to the door.
"Sorry," he mumbles, contritely. He keeps looking at me, like I'll change my mind.
I open the door to push Rowan out -- and Ron practically falls into the room.
"Oh, great!" I say. "Just the capper to a perfect day!"
Continue on to "Landslide -- Part 2", the next section.
Picture of Gale Harold and Randy Harrison from 'OUT.'
©Gaedhal, September 2002
Updated September 10, 2002