This is Part 2 of Chapter 84 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "Landslide -- Part 1", the previous section.
The narrator is Brian Kinney, featuring Ron Rosenblum, Rowan Conley.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: The deal is done: Brian pushes himself off the cliff. August 2002.
Ron stares at Rowan and then at me. "What the fuck is going on here? Brian?" He looks at Rowan again. "What are you doing?"
"He was just leaving," I reply. Seems I've said that line before. About three thousand times.
"But I'll be back," Rowan insists.
"You might want to zip yourself up before you go downstairs." I point to the front of his pants. Rowan glances down, reddening. He zips. Then he takes off.
"Who the FUCK was that?" Ron is livid.
"Who do you think? One of the waiters from the dining room. Busboy, actually. But, see, I'm a little out of practice and I'm working my way through the busboys until I'm up to speed enough for the waiters."
"Are you fucking insane, Brian? He could be from 'The Sun' or one of the other tabloids!"
"So! Haven't you had enough of that sort of thing? Now you want to get that frenzy going again!"
"I don't think Rowan is part of any 'frenzy,' Ron -- except in his own fevered imagination. Or in YOURS."
"Rowan? You know this guy by name?"
"Oh, he's quite a regular around here. He has ambitions to be a permanent fixture. He was auditioning for the position just now." Jesus. First Rowan and now Ron. This hotel is supposed to be our little sanctuary and now I've been invaded on all sides. It doesn't help that Ron won't stand still, but is walking around the room, poking into things, looking out the window. He's as bad as Rowan! I expect him to pick up my underwear and start sniffing it!
"Who else do you think I have stashed in here?"
"I'm just curious about the accommodations. They are quite... opulent?"
"There is a certain 19th Century French ambience that is rather unique."
To my surprise, Ron bursts out laughing. It's shocking to hear because I realize that I haven't heard him laugh in so long. Not a cynical laugh, but a real, true laugh. And we used to fucking laugh all the time! In New York. In Maui. Even in California at the beginning. And I start laughing, too. But soon all the tension of the last week flows out and it comes close to hysterical crying. Just what I need to prove to Ron how unstable I am! I wipe at my eyes with the sleeve of my blue robe.
"Brian, what ARE you doing?" Ron reaches over and closes up my blue robe, tying it tightly.
"Trying to get dressed to go to dinner." I say, sniffing "But I keep getting interrupted -- as you can see. Now, do you mind keeping your hands off me?"
"I'll take you to dinner. I have a hired car outside."
"I already have a pressing engagement." I go to the closet and begin pawing through the clothes I haven't packed away yet. I'm going to need to buy another fucking suitcase tomorrow to get it all in, I've bought so much shit since I've been in London. And the trip isn't over yet.
"Brian." Ron comes over and puts his hand up to stop me. "We need to talk. Tonight. I have to leave tomorrow. I've got to be back in L.A. on Monday morning and I still have unfinished business in New York."
"Bully for you. You're quite a busy boy. But I don't really give a shit."
"I have reservations at The Ivy. You can go there with me." He puts his face right up to mine, where I can't help looking at him.
"What a coincidence. That's where I WAS going." It figures. ALL the movers and shakers eat there.
"I'll call and change them, then. Or I'll join your party."
"I don't think so." I'm picturing the nice, cozy quintet of Sir Ken and Hughie, me and Justin -- and Ron. What dinner conversation that would make! Maybe Ron could advise Ken on putting in a surveillance system to keep an eye on cheating little Hugh?
Ron's face is getting stormy again. "Having a tete a tete with Dorian?"
I laugh, shortly. "You really do have a one track mind, don't you?"
"It isn't hard when you've had to spend a lot of time dealing with YOU, Brian!"
"Fuck off, Ron." I pull out a new smoke-colored Gucci suit and decide to wear that instead of the blue Armani. Because now I'm in a pissy mood and the smoke seems more fitting.
"I don't like that -- wear this instead." Ron reaches in for the dark green Prada. Fuck, but I'm a label queen! "This is a better color for you."
"I didn't ask for your fashion advice, Ron! And what do you care what I'm wearing, anyway? I'm not eating with you!"
"Yes, you are. We have to talk," He says. "Tonight, Brian."
That stops me cold. Because I know that Ron's right. I don't want to admit that he's right, but we do have to talk. I've been putting it off for long enough. Evading it. But he's here now and it has to happen.
"Okay, then -- let's talk," I say. "Now. I don't want to make this into a fucking social occasion, Ron. This is about business."
"If you say so, Brian. Then it's about business. It's about whatever you say it's about." Ron goes over to the minibar and pulls out a bottle of tonic and a small sampler of gin. "I'd make one for you, but I know you hate gin."
"I thought you only drank at parties, Ron?"
"And at business functions. This would qualify, I guess. If it isn't a party."
"Not that I can see." I hang my suit back up. This may take a while and it's no use getting it wrinkled. "Okay, I'm waiting to hear what you are so hot to tell me, Ron. I'm all fucking ears!"
"I want to know when you're coming home."
"I'll be back in Pittsburgh in about a week and a half."
"Not fucking Pittsburgh! Back to L.A.! You know what I'm talking about, Brian, so don't be a smartass!" He sits on the fainting couch and takes a sip of his gin and tonic.
I make a face. To me, gin tastes just like cologne. But I've cleared out all the whiskey and vodka from the place to take away possible temptation. "I'll just have water," I say, taking out a bottle of Evian.
"Brian, we have a heavy schedule of publicity leading up to the premiere in November. Jimmy aside, YOU are the star of 'The Olympian.' Now you may want to blow L.A. off. You may even want to blow ME off. But you can't blow your film off, Brian! You'd be foolish to do that after... what it cost both of us to get it made." He's griping his gin and tonic.
"What it cost YOU, Ron? You mean, what it cost ME! You almost fucking KILLED me, Ron! All for your fucking movie! And I'm supposed to do what you say NOW for the 'good of the picture'? Why should I even give a shit?"
Ron looks at me with those intense blue eyes. Blue eyes -- but so different from the ones I'm used to looking in. No innocence there. No trust. No love that I can see. "Because, Brian... Because you're great in this picture. And people have to see it. They HAVE to. It's important." He sets down his glass. "We may never have another chance to make a film like this in Hollywood if it fails. Do you want everyone to say that the faggots couldn't even get it together to promote their movie correctly? That a couple of goddamn queens let a little tiff sink this film? So typical of THEM! Priorities center on their cocks, you know?"
I just stare at him. "Spare me, please, Ron. I never heard such horseshit."
"You think I'm kidding? Ask Jimmy what the buzz is. Or, better yet -- ask someone you trust MORE. Ask Tess. Ask Diane. Let them tell you what the word has been. On YOU. On ME! On the whole fucking project! The gossip is that you aren't going to do any publicity. And that the studio will be short one star because he's 'mad' at his boyfriend? Is that the word you want on YOUR picture, Brian?"
"I don't know, Ron! I don't know shit about that kind of thing!" And I don't. I don't know what Ron wants me to say or what he wants me to do.
Ron gets up and refills his drink. Then he stands close to me, drinking it. "But YOU are NOT going to fuck it up, are you, Brian? Like you almost fucked up THIS picture with your screwing around and drug-taking? You may have been clean the night you were arrested, but you can't fool me. Look me in the eye and tell me you haven't been using since you've been here?"
I blink a couple of times. Ron always fucking makes me feel like I'm about sixteen years old. "I'm not anymore. Really, I'm not."
"Then I'm right. That vial they found WAS your dope?"
"It was empty."
"Because YOU used it up. A couple nights before? Was that it?" Ron shakes his head and walks away from me.
"What difference does it make?" I can't bring Justin and his mistake with the smack into this. That would give Ron even MORE ammunition. And the awful thing is that he's right. He knows me. He knows the truth of the situation. He can see right through ALL of my bluster.
"A lot of difference. You got off this time, Brian. But you came so close to the edge. You yelled at me about my fucking papers and medical files. My letter from Dr. Hall. I brought those to try to SAVE your ass! So they'd go easy on you if they knew you had a history of addiction! NOT to have them put you away -- but to let you off. In my custody. In someone else's -- it didn't fucking matter whose! But you came CLOSE to disaster, do you know that?"
"Yes -- I know that! But it's over and done with! What can I do now? I'm staying clean! I can't promise any more than that!"
"Yes, you can do more. You can come to L.A. and make it right with 'The Olympian.' One hit would forgive a lot of mistakes, Brian. Ten fucking years Jimmy and I worked on this project -- but it would have been all for nothing without you. YOU, Brian. Ross Preston would have been a nightmare. The film would have been a joke. But YOU make it great, Brian! Jimmy is good -- but the movie is all about you."
I have to snicker at the irony of it all. "Now you tell me all this. I thought I had NO acting talent. Didn't you tell me so, time and time again? That I did all my best acting with my ass, Ron?"
"I'm sorry about that, Brian. That was my own fucking stupidity. But don't cut off your own nose just to spite me, Brian. Don't sabotage your big break. This film is going to win awards! It's going to be everything you ever dreamed of."
"No," I say. "Not ME, Ron. YOU. I never dreamed that. YOU dreamed all that! I dreamed something else altogether. A nice little life. Some friends. A cool place to live. And money enough to enjoy a good lifestyle. To have a little fun. And maybe even -- one day -- a guy who could stand me long enough to stick around for a little while. But that got fucked up almost from the beginning, you know? By my crazy old man and my stupid, ice-cold mother! And then by a bunch of creeps in New York City! And later on by a lot of years of me behaving like I didn't give a fuck while I was dying inside! That's what happened to MY dream, Ron."
"And then when I went out to L.A. to try and find it again -- well, you know what I found out there. Me, trying to live a life that was a joke! Trying to be something I could never be! Trying to be a 'partner' -- and getting fucked over at every turn! Then, trying to be an 'actor'! Why? To fucking please YOU! But there was no pleasing you, Ron. You were never satisfied by anything I did. I was fucked from the start."
"Brian, you were NEVER honest with me from the beginning! You told me you were free and clear. No emotional ties. That was the first lie. And you wanted all the Hollywood lifestyle! Don't tell me you didn't! You LOVED it! The clubs, the parties, the shopping -- and now the fame. You were MADE for that, Brian!"
"No, Ron -- A little peace and quiet -- that's MY dream. YOUR dream is fame and fortune and all the shit that goes with it. That -- and someone you can dominate and control. Someone to be your little puppet. Someone to parade around and stick it to all the hetero assholes who fucked you over during the last decade. Well, I can't be that thing. I don't want to be that thing. Being that thing will only fucking KILL me. But then maybe you could get the sympathy vote for the Oscars?"
"Shut up, Brian! That's not the way it is at all!"
"No? Then how is it?"
"I... just want you to come back to me! You know I still love you. I've never stopped -- for FOURTEEN years, I never stopped! Even after... everything you've done."
"Everything I'VE done? What about what YOU'VE done, Ron?" I swallow. My throat is so dry I pick up the last of his gin and tonic and take a big gulp. It goes down like acid. "What about -- all those VIDEOS, Ron? Is that nothing to you? Because it's something to me!"
He gapes at me. "The videos," he says. "You KNEW! You fucking knew! I THOUGHT so! When you brought all those... all those guys to the poolhouse!"
"Of course I fucking KNEW! What did you THINK? Why do you think I brought every fucking guy in West Hollywood and Venice Beach who could get his dick up back to the house to appear on 'Candid Camera'? I wanted YOU to see just what you were expecting to see all along -- the Whore of Babylon at work!"
"That wasn't my intention! It was never meant to... catch you out, Brian."
I walk over to the couch and look down at him. "I hope you enjoyed seeing me fuck as many of your good friends as I could get in there. And it was SO easy. They practically dragged ME along once I gave them the high sign! The only one I missed was Jimmy. And he would have been easy, too!"
"No, let me finish. He would have been the easiest of all. And I knew you'd so enjoy watching me fuck him. Because that's YOUR fantasy, isn't it, Ron? Because you've had a thing for Jimmy for years, haven't you? Except that I kept thinking of Tess. And Annie, too. How it would hurt THEM. And so Jimmy was spared his moment in the spotlight. Besides, you have plenty of 'Olympian' outtakes that are pretty close to the real thing, so you have hours of beating off enjoyment still ahead of you, I'm sure."
"Brian, stop this."
"Why, Ron? YOU started it. When you put those cameras in." I lean down to Ron. "Why did you do it? Why? You recorded me, almost from the beginning. And I NEVER brought anyone back to the house! I would never DO that! You knew I was tricking, but I promised you I would never flaunt it and you said you accepted it! That was a big lie, right? You DIDN'T accept it."
"You're right I didn't! I fucking hated it!"
"Right. So, you put cameras in the poolhouse to catch me, is that it? And what did you see? Me getting drunk. Me jacking off. Me talking on the phone. Big excitement, right? Until poor Justin came to town...."
"I didn't mean to catch you with the kid, Brian! I wanted to know what you were doing in there. Who you were talking to. What you were saying to... him." He puts his head down. "I didn't expect to see you with anyone. I didn't WANT to see you with anyone. But you shouldn't have... fucked that kid in there."
"I know I shouldn't have fucked Justin in your house! I know that! But he came, uninvited -- and what was I supposed to do? I... I'm an asshole, okay? But I fucked him -- and I'm not sorry I did. I've been fucking Justin for two years and plan to continue doing it for many years to come -- whether YOU like it or not! I'm only sorry that YOU were so paranoid, so twisted, that you taped us!"
"It was an accident!"
"Sure Ron. And was it an accident that you waited until Lindsay and I were out of the house -- and then you had a little private screening? Just you and Justin. And you enticed him with the promise of seeing some really old porn, didn't you? The tapes WE made in New York?"
"He wanted to see them."
"Then why didn't I know about them, Ron? Why didn't you tell me you still had those videos? I'd have liked to see them, too. We could have made some popcorn and had a few laughs watching them. So, were you saving them for some other purpose? To spring on me? Embarrass me somehow? Was that your plan all along? But I'm not embarrassed. You'd have to go a long, long way to embarrass ME, Ron. So I would say -- fuck you and fuck your tapes!"
"I wasn't trying to embarrass you, Brian! I... they were MY tapes. Of us... the only thing I had left...."
"Of 'Jack'? But I thought you had ME, Ron? I thought that was why you wanted ME to come to Los Angeles with you? Was it for me, Brian? Or to have Jack? So, in your own mind you never wanted me, never had me. Because I'm NOT Jack! I was never really Jack at all, Ron. YOU made Jack up -- he was your 'creation' and you didn't even want to share him with me, is that it?"
"I don't know, Brian." Ron sounds miserable. Looks miserable. And I'm happy when I think of the things he did to make ME miserable. "I just don't know anymore." He looks up at me. "When did you find out about the tapes?"
"When do you think? Right then! Justin told me immediately! He was fucking destroyed, you asshole! You didn't think that I wouldn't get the story out of him right there and then? Every detail? Think again!"
"So, you've known since it happened. I can't believe that kid had the balls to tell you! After I told him to keep his mouth shut!"
"I knew you must have threatened him somehow, Ron. Maybe with showing those tapes to people. So, are you planning to have a 'screening' if I don't cooperate with your publicity plans, Ron? Planning to throw a nineteen year old boy to the wolves because you're fucking jealous?"
"I could. I might," he says, evenly. "But I don't want to, Brian. I don't want to resort to that kind of shit to get you to do what's right."
"What's RIGHT? Show what you have on ME, Ron. Sell copies on E-Bay! I'll autograph them for you! But DON'T be the world's biggest creep and sneak anything of those tapes of Justin to the press, even as a last resort!" I feel dizzy with emotion now, and sit down on the edge of the bed. "Because... I WILL come back to L.A. and do the publicity for the film," I say, quietly. "I was always planning to do it, Ron. Always. Even without your fucking threats and deceptions. I would never blow off 'The Olympian,' Ron. Because the picture IS important. It DOES mean something to me."
"Brian -- I'm sorry! I... I didn't fucking mean for everything to turn out like this! I didn't want to threaten you! Or Justin. I just...." He gets up and sits next to me on the bed. "If you come home... out to L. A., just to do the publicity, to do what needs to be done -- I'll give you the tapes. All of them. I fucking swear! On my mother's life, I swear! Just come back. You don't have to even speak to me if you don't want to. You can stay in the poolhouse...."
I glare at him. "Right. Stay in the poolhouse!"
"All the shit is gone! You can bring in your own expert if you don't believe me. Have him do a sweep of the place. I fucking swear to God! I mean it. Stay for six months. I won't ask you to remain any longer than that. But if... you want to stay, you can. And I'll do everything I can to make you want to stay." He moves a little closer to me on the bed.
"NOT six months, Ron." I say. "What about until the New Year? By that time the film will be out and you'll know what the story is. Whether it's a hit or a fucking failure. And then I can go on my way -- no strings attached. No regrets. And no more scams, either. And... no expectations that this is anything more than a business proposition. Because that's what it is. All business."
"Brian, how can you say that?"
"Because it's true. I... I feel nothing for you, Ron," I lie. And it IS a lie. Because even after everything, I still feel a swirl of conflicting emotions about Ron. But I can't let HIM know that. To be able to use it against me again. I take a deep breath. "I can deal with you like I'd deal with a stranger off the street. That's how I feel. And it's the only way I CAN deal with you and not want to kill you right here for what you purposely did to Justin. And to me. Because I'll NEVER forget it. It will be in the back of my mind every moment I have to see you or speak to you." I blink again, because I can feel myself tearing up. I don't need this now. I have to keep a tight hold on my emotions more than anything else.
"And what else will you do for me, Brian?" He's leaning in on me. Putting his arm around me.
"What ELSE? You fucking want THAT, too? I can't believe you, Ron. Call up one of your escort services if you need a fuck. You'll get competence without any emotional baggage -- just what you like."
"So, Brian, you're telling me that you really don't feel anything for me anymore? Really?"
"What a fucking question!" I look away, blinking. "Feel for YOU? What could I possible feel for you but pity, Ron? Why do you think I'm doing all of this? For my health? You want to drive me to another nervous breakdown just to prove you can? I'm fucking doing it for HIM! For JUSTIN! HE'S the one I have feelings for, Ron! And I won't see him get hurt. And that's why I'm making sure I get those tapes! To protect HIM! From you or any other asshole who might take advantage of him. But especially from YOU. And you better hold to this deal, that's all I can say!"
"For that little asshole? You would do all that?"
"Don't call him a little asshole again. Ever. And don't even say anything about him, Ron. To you, Justin doesn't exist, okay? Not to talk about. Not to refer to. Not in any way. And, yes -- I'll do anything to make certain that you don't have anything on him that you can use against him now or tomorrow or ten years from now. I want those tapes, Ron. ALL of them! Everything! And I MEAN everything. And if I have to, I'll suck your cock in hell to get them."
He shakes his head. "I still can't believe that kid had the fucking balls to tell you about the videos."
"He told me. We don't have any secrets from each other." For some reason I think about Kip. And Justin in a room with Kip somewhere, saving my ass. "He told me everything you did. Enticing him in to see the film of me. Of you and me! And then.... It fucking makes me sick, Ron!" I snap, thinking of Ron showing Justin the videos of the two of us fucking -- making love! -- in the poolhouse. "I didn't think you could be like that. I just didn't think...."
"You must really love that kid to do all this for him. And to forgive him for what HE did! I was certain that he would never give THAT away." Ron gazes at me. "Because it's one thing to tell you that I have videos of you and him fucking, but it's quite another for him to admit to you that I've got footage of me and him! I just didn't think he'd ever confess to that."
Now something inside me really goes cold. Numb. Like my nerves have been cut off. But I steady myself. I can't blink. Can't move at all. Because I can't let Ron see that Justin forgot to mention this little piece of the puzzle. But it all makes sense. The extent of his fear. His fear that night not only of Ron, but of me. That I'd find out. And... do what? What kind of fucking hypocrite would I be if I blamed him for... for....
Videos of Justin and Ron. Fuck! I don't want to know how they happened! It doesn't matter now, I tell myself. It only matters that I get them, along with the others.
But something is welling up in me. I can taste that gin and tonic like bile in my mouth. I need that fucking Xanax! I need it badly. And I don't have any of my booze. And I've got fucking nothing! Just the hysteria rising, until it starts to spill over... And I CAN'T let it spill over... I can't....
"Brian! Don't! Please, stop it!"
But I can't. I can't stop it. I put my head down, so Ron can't see the tears. I fucking hate this! But I can't stop it.
"Baby, stop! Baby!"
And I can't stand that! Honey. Sweetie. Baby! Fucking meaningless words that are supposed to say SOMETHING! Supposed to show he cares! "Shut up, Ron! Just shut the fuck up!" I try to pull away from him.
"Baby, I... I can't deal with you if you get like this!"
But I can't help myself. Because nothing is the way I thought it was. Nobody is the way they should be. Not Justin, Not Ron. And especially not me. I'm fucking falling apart here and no one can put me back together! No one. Except Justin. And Justin is somewhere out in England and... I don't know what he could do even if he were here. Because I'm already broken. Already.
"Brian! Have something to drink!" Ron tries to get me to sip a little of the bottled water. It feels like fire going down. My head feels like it's on fire. And I was going to keep so in control of this situation! What a fucking laugh!
"I'm okay...." I try to say. But it won't come out. Ron eases me back on the bed, gently. I'm trying to blink back tears, but it isn't working at all. He takes out a handkerchief, carefully folded into a square and pressed, to wipe my eyes. But when I see that, I completely lose it. I guess Ron's mother is still ironing his handkerchiefs and sending them to him from Florida! And he's still using them to wipe away my tears.
Ron starts kissing me. Kissing his way down my wet face, my neck. This is the inevitable conclusion of our meeting. And I knew it would happen. I knew it all along. Even when I told myself I wouldn't do it, I knew that I would. Knew it the moment Ron walked into the door of the suite. It was inescapable, even destined, whether as the final act of this whole drama or a new fucking beginning. I don't know which. I can't tell yet. And so I accept it. Fate. Whatever you want to call it. Whatever Ron believes is driving his success. His art.
And, in a strange way, I want it to happen. Because it's what I deserve. The price I have to pay. For everything.
And this has nothing at all to do with Justin. Or with the two of us together. I have to put Justin out of my mind or I'll really go crazy. I have to put him in a completely different world. A safe world. Because this is something beyond that. Before me and Justin. But it won't be AFTER it. It won't be. I won't let it be. And in January it will all be a different story. A story that will belong to me and Justin -- and no one else. In the future.
Ron starts off slowly, tenderly, like he always does. But Ron's not very subtle. And he's irritated, angry at me. So he doesn't waste any time turning me over to show me just how angry he is. How inconvenienced he is. How he doesn't really like this deal at all. But he's agreeing to it right now. Yes. Yes! This is the signature on the dotted line. The seal on our Fate. And he's making certain I don't forget it any time soon. Leaving the marks on me that will make me remember. And not just on my body, but on my soul. As if I could ever forget anything.
And I think of all of Ron's 1960's music. All his peace and love and protest songs running through my head. Dylan. The Beatles. Marvin Gaye. Joan Baez. Playing that stuff over and over again. But I must have been listening to Ron's 'philosophy' more than I thought. Because the phrase 'passive resistance' comes into my mind. And I focus on that. Passive resistance. And subversive activity. It's the way to survive until January. And I can do it. As long as Justin understands. Then I can anything. It'll be easy. As easy as life and death. And I can do either one of those, too. If I have to.
Continue on to "Landslide -- Part 3", the next section.
©Gaedhal, September 2002
Updated September 11, 2002