This is Page 2 of Chapter 60 of the "Queer Realities" series.
Go back to Page 1 of "Locked Out".
"That's it," says Richard as we run through the whole video again for about the 50th time. "I think it's perfect. And it looks amazing, Justin!"
"You would say that," I reply. "You shot the thing!"
"That's because I'm good," Richard brags. But he's right. It does look amazing. I knew he was the best cameraman in the Film School. That's why I picked him. "I'll make a dub for you to take home. If you notice anything that you want to change, give me a call. We can tweak things next week. But I think it's all ready to go." He makes some notes on a sheet of paper. "Are you sure you don't want to enter it in the video competition after all?"
"I can't," I say. "You know that if it wins anything they'll all say I got special help from Dorian and Brian. Like the crane. All I want is for them to show it. And I want Brian to see it on a big screen. He really looks beautiful. Those shots of him looking out the window -- just great!"
"You look pretty good in it yourself, Justin!" Richard smirks.
"You don't have to flatter me," I laugh. "You already have Dorian Folco's phone number in your pocket. He's your ticket to Hollywood -- not me!"
"Well, Dorian did tell me to call him when school ends," Richard confides. "He said he could help me get an internship at Terra Nova Studio for the summer. Maybe I could work with him on 'Red River'!"
"I don't know," I say. "That's mainly a location shoot. I don't know if they'll have any interns on the set."
"You never know." Richard and I close up the editing room and walk outside. It's already dark. It was a beautiful day, but the evenings are still chilly. I pull my jacket around me. A cold breeze creeps up my spine.
I drop Richard off at his apartment. He lives with twoother Film majors not far from the PIFA campus. We make plans to meet next week and put together the credits for the video. Then I drive home.
I think about stopping and getting something to eat, but I'm too tired. This has been the week from Hell, no doubt about it. I feel guilty about calling Brian this morning and telling him that I couldn't drive up to Springhurst tonight. But Dylan was right -- I never would have made it. I'd fall asleep and end up in a ditch. I know I'll be in better shape to drive there tomorrow.
Even before I open the loft door I know something is wrong. I smell something weird. Like vanilla. As I walk inside I see the scented candles lit all over the loft. That fucking Dylan! This is the kind of stupid stunt that I don't want to deal with right now when I'm exhausted. Now I'll spend an hour fighting with him and throwing him out of the loft.
"Dylan!" I cry as I drop my bag and portfolio on the desk. "What the fuck are you trying to do with all these candles? Burn the whole building down?"
"No," says a voice from the bedroom. "I think it was for romantic ambience. The candles. The flowers. The wine. And the bed. All ready for you, Sunshine."
"Brian?" I peer up at the figure standing in the doorway to the bedroom. Except for the candles and the blue neons over the bed, the loft is completely dark. He comes forward. It is Brian. He's wearing a pair of jeans and no shirt. He's also barefoot. And his hair is messy, almost as if he just got out of bed.
"Yours truly," he says, his voice very soft and low. "Were you expecting someone else?" Brian comes slowly down the steps.
"Brian, what are you doing here?" I ask nervously. Where the fuck is Dylan? And why is Brian acting so strangely? "I didn't think you were going to leave Springhurst until next week. I was going to come up there tomorrow! I... I really was! To... to talk with Dr. Gorowitz. And... everything."
But Brian just gazes at me, his face impassive. "What am I doing here? Everyone seems to be asking me that question today. A funny question to ask someone who's in their own loft. At least I thought it was my loft. Mine... and my partner's."
"It is," I say quickly. But now I'm scared. Something's happened. Something bad. I'm not sure if Brian is drunk or stoned or what, but something is very wrong. "Our loft. Yours and mine."
"I thought it was ours. But it's funny the way I found someone else here when I came home from my little sojourn in rehab. Someone I've never seen before in my life. But he seemed right at home." Brian walks toward me. He looks beautiful with his bare chest and his jeans unbuttoned at the top. Like the Brian of all my fantasies. "I left Springhurst today because you called me, Justin. You sounded so tired and forlorn on the phone. Gorowitz tried to stop me, but I told him to fuck off if he didn't like it. Because I needed to be with my partner. And when I got here I found this romantic scenario all set up."
Brian gestures to the coffee table. Besides all the candles, there's a vase of spring flowers that wasn't there when I left this morning. And a bottle of white wine and two glasses. I got rid of all the liquor in the loft except for some beer when I knew that Brian would be coming home soon. I didn't want him to be tempted by anything here. That means Dylan must have bought the wine. He must have bought the flowers, too. And put out all these candles. For me. For us.
"Except this little romantic tete a tete wasn't for me, was it, Sunshine?" Brian's voice takes on a hard edge. "Not for me at all. That's why you called me and said that you couldn't drive up to Springhurst tonight, isn't it? And that's why you missed all those other weekends, wasn't it? So you could stay here, in my loft, and be with your boyfriend."
"Dylan is not my boyfriend!" The words almost choke in my throat. "He... he's only a friend who's staying here temporarily. It's a long story, but he had to leave his dorm room. He's only been here a few days. That's all! You have to believe me, Brian!"
"Whatever the fuck." Brian's voice is as heavy as lead. "I called him a liar when he told me what was going on because I didn't want to believe it. But now I understand who the real liar is. It all makes sense to me now. It didn't before, even though all the signs were right in front of my fucking nose! Michael tried to warn me, but I ignored him. I think even the Doc suspected something. He kept telling me that I needed to rely on myself and no one else. That I needed to stop counting on you and your... your so-called 'unconditional love' for me." Brian sits down on the sofa and reaches for the bottle of wine. He turns it in his hands. Stares at it. "I should have thanked your boyfriend before I kicked him out. Thanked him for leaving me this nice bottle. It won't last me very long, but it'll be a start. Would you like to have the first glass, Justin? I mean, before you collect all of your shit and get your ass out of here?"
"Brian, please listen to me!" I go over to him and try to get him to look at me, but he won't. He only gazes at the bottle. "It's not what you think! It really isn't!"
"Then you haven't been fucking this guy? Is that what you're telling me?" Brian finally looks up at me. "Or, rather, he hasn't been fucking you? Because he was very clear about that. About how much you enjoy having his dick up your ass. He wanted me to know that specifically."
"It... it was...." I don't know what to say. I should have told Brian about Dylan a long time ago, but I couldn't! I... I couldn't. "It was sex and that's all it was! You know that sex is meaningless, Brian! You're always telling me that!" My voice drops to a whisper. "It was only sex. Meaningless sex."
"Meaningless for me," he answers. "But not for you. Never for you. That's always been the difference between us. And that's how I know that guy -- Dylan, right? -- was telling me the truth. So don't try to deny it, Justin. You're a lot of things, but a good liar isn't one of them."
"Brian, I'm not denying it. But I can explain!" I beg. "Please let me explain everything! If you'll only listen!"
"I heard enough explanations from the other guy," he says, standing up suddenly. His shadow looms over me and I cringe. "I don't need to hear anymore. Get what you need and then get the fuck out. I'll pack up the rest of your shit and send it over to your mother's place -- or wherever you and your boyfriend land. And don't forget to give me your key to the loft. I already got his. I'm having the locks and the codes changed tomorrow -- just in case. And give me the keys to the Jeep, too."
I grab at his arm as he brushes by me. "Brian! Wait! Don't you even want to hear what I have to say? Aren't you even going to give me a chance to give my side of the story?"
He whirls around and for a moment I think he's going to hit me. But he doesn't. Instead he stands very close to me. So close I can feel the heat of his breath on my sweating face. "Tell me one thing. Only this one thing, Justin. Did you really throw out the roses I sent you? After we were at the cabin? Throw them in the trash the minute you got them?"
I feel all the air rush out of my body until my head is spinning. Brian's roses. That fucking Dylan! I can't believe he told Brian that. And I know what Brian must think. How it must seem to him. If I lie and say I didn't throw them away, he'll know in an instant. But the truth sounds even worse. "I... I... They were making my allergies flare up. That's the truth! I was practically having an asthma attack. I had to get them out of here. I had to...." My voice trails off. I don't even believe the story myself and I know that it really happened.
"Roses?" Brian shakes his head. "I didn't think roses bothered you, especially not when you take your pills. But Dylan brought you this nice little bouquet." Brian reaches over and pulls the dripping flowers out of the vase. "Smell these!" he cries, pushing them in my face. Then he throws them across the room and they scatter limply on the hardwood floor. "That's funny. No sneezing at all. I guess your allergies aren't a problem tonight. Dylan's flowers don't make you sneeze. You're only allergic to mine -- is that it, Sunshine?"
Now I'm panicking. "Brian! Let's sit down and talk about this! You have to let me explain about Dylan... and... and about everything!" I clutch at Brian's hand. I need to touch him. To make him understand!
"No, I don't have to talk. I don't have to listen to your explanations. I don't have to do anything!" he says, grabbing my hand and squeezing it. He sees the slave bracelet on my wrist. His fingers brush gently against the braided strips of brass. "I remember the day I bought this for you, Justin. From the hippie couple on the street in London. And what I said to you when I put it on your wrist." His fingers feel soft on my skin. "Do you remember what I said?"
"Yes. You said that I had to obey you," I murmur. "That this bracelet made me yours."
"That's what I thought," he says. "That you were mine." Then he pauses for a long time before he speaks again. "Take it off. Now."
I blink. "No, Brian." My breath is ragged. "I won't. It's mine."
"I said to take it off!" And he presses my hand until I cry out. Then he forces the bracelet over my hand and grips it. "This is mine now," he says. "And this is yours." Brian reaches up and seizes the heart charm. He tugs at it, but it won't budge.
"Don't," is all I can utter.
But he pulls at it harder and harder until the chain finally snaps. He holds the red enamel heart in his hand as the chain falls off his neck and to the floor. "I thought this meant something. I thought it all meant something! But I should have trusted my own instincts all along. There's no such thing as love. It's all a fucking lie. I knew that... but I let myself believe that... that...." He stops and regards the little red heart.
"It's not a lie, Brian! And I did mean it!" I tell him fervently, almost frantically. "I DO mean it!"
But he turns and throws the little heart in the same direction as the flowers. It disappears into the dark edges of the loft. I notice that Brian's neck is bleeding where the chain cut into it. His hand touches the spot. Touches a drop of blood that trickles down. He looks at the bright red stain on his fingers, and then reaches out and wipes his blood on the front of my shirt. "Is that what you wanted, Sunshine? My blood? My heart? Take it and go. Just... go."
"I said to go!" he rages.
I've seen Brian angry, but never like this. Never. I blink back my tears. I can't let him see me break down. Then he would hate me even more for being weak. For crying like a little faggot. Like a lying little cheat who got caught and can't face the consequences of his actions.
I walk up to the bedroom and throw some things into my biggest suitcase. I don't even look to see what I'm packing, I just fill it up. Then I close it.
The loft door is open. Brian is sitting on the sofa, the wine bottle and two glasses in front of him. He's waiting for me to leave.
What can I say? How can I explain everything to Brian? About Dylan and what happened at the party? Or about my gallery opening? Or the backroom? I can't. That's it. Not with the way it all looks. The way it all seems. Brian will never believe me because even I don't believe me. It's too fucking late! Too late for words. Too late for explanations. Too late for us.
I take the keys to the loft and the Jeep out of my jacket pocket and put them on the desk. I hesitate a moment, and then pick up my bookbag and portfolio and drag my heavy suitcase out to the landing. I have no idea where I'm going or how I'm going to get there without the Jeep. I press the button to call the elevator.
I hear the loft door slam shut behind me. And then I hear Brian shove the bolt home, locking me out.
"And the hills are as soft as a pillow,
And they cast a shadow on my bed.
And the view when I look through my window
Is an altarpiece I'm praying to for the living and the dead.
Twin valley shines in the morning sun,
I send a message out to my only one.
I been locked out,
And I know we're through,
But I can't begin to face up to the truth.
I wait so long for the walls to crack,
But I know that I will one day have you back...."
Continue on to "Lost in the Stars".
©Gaedhal, November 2005.
Posted November 14, 2005.