This is Chapter 67 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "Pea Soup", the previous section.
The narrator is Justin Taylor, featuring Brian Kinney, Gerry Milton, Harry Collins, Sybil Milton Symonds, Fiona Stewart, Albert Symonds, Sir Kenneth Fielding, Hughie Marsh, Adele Phillips-Smythe, Billy Phillips-Smythe.
Rated R and contains possible spoilers for the Second Season.
Summary: Justin meets a psychic at Gerry Milton's house party. Sussex, July 2002.
Author's Note: To have the Sight is both a Gift and a Curse. Seek it with caution.
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 evenings at Firelands are taken up with party games like charades. It's kind of fun, but seems weird to have grown people playing games that Molly and her friends play at children's birthday parties.
Brian refuses to play. He says it's just a way for actors to show off. Instead, he and Harry Collins have paired off in intense games of Scrabble. Brian is a killer Scrabble player. He has a large vocabulary and a mind that seems to see where the words should go and in what patterns. Harry is also a keen player and the two of them seem well-matched -- although they have a couple of arguments about British versus American spellings!
Gerry doesn't seem to like this development. Harry, of course, is his long-term -- like seventeen years or something! -- lover and Brian is obviously someone he's got his eye on. Obviously. So he doesn't seem to like the two of them getting friendly. Little does Gerry know that Brian thinks he's a horse's ass (or arse, as the Brits would say!) and much prefers to spend his time here talking to Harry and playing Scrabble with him.
On Saturday night Gerry's sister, Sybil, the lady who is always hugging me because I remind her of her son, brings a friend to dinner.
"Fiona's mother was a gypsy and her father was a Scotsman, the seventh son of a seventh son, so she was BORN to be as psychic," says Sybil.
"That is all SO much a steaming pile, Syb," says Gerry, plainly annoyed by Fiona's arrival. "Fiona went to school with you and her parents lived in Wimbledon. There are no gypsies OR psychic Scotsmen in Wimbledon!"
"He WAS the seventh son of a seventh son! And he WAS gifted with the Sight," says Fiona.
"Bollocks!" says Gerry. "He was a chartered accountant in the City! If he had the Sight he should have been at the greyhound track every day, raking in the winnings!"
"The Sight doesn't work like that Gerry. Of course I wouldn't expect a cynic like YOU to understand."
"Well, she's not reading my bloody palm." He looks over at Brian. "I like to make my OWN decisions about my future."
Sir Kenneth laughs at that and pokes Gerry.
Right, I think. Just don't assume that your future will have anything to do with Brian -- because it will only be over BOTH of our dead bodies!
After dinner we all go into the drawing room. It seems so funny to say 'drawing room' -- like in a play. It's really just a big living room. But this enormous house has a couple of living-type rooms. This is the one they use in the evenings only.
Although it's July, there's a fire lit in the big fireplace. This house is vast and drafty and none of the rooms are heated. Instead, they put a little space heater in front of the fireplace in each bedroom. You have to get up and plug it in and it warms up about a foot of area right in front of it and nothing else. And it was cold this morning! Even in the middle of summer! Luckily, Brian throws off heat like a furnace and I was plenty warm because I was plastered up against him all night long -- until I had to get up and use the bathroom and almost froze my balls off! Brian says that in the winter this place must be like a meat locker.
Brian and Harry immediately take a table in the far corner and set up the Scrabble board. Adele Phillips-Smythe, who is Gerry Milton's young co-star, goes and sits next to them. She's got a crush on Brian -- what else is new? Her brother is with her -- he's also an actor. His name is Billy Phillips-Smythe and he's actually fairly cute. But he also seems very bored with the whole house party routine. Except for me and Hughie, he's the youngest person here.
I get the impression that Billy and Hughie know each other. Know each other pretty well. Once, I came down the big stairs and saw them in the corner, fumbling with each other. Geez, why don't they just go into one of the rooms and suck each other off and get it over with?
Sybil and her husband Albert -- who looks like he could play Dr. Watson in a Sherlock Holmes film -- are constantly patting my cheek and ruffling my hair because, like I say, I remind them of their son, William, who apparently is always away at school. I can't figure this out, because it's summertime and who is in school then?
But Brian says that a certain class of English people have kids and then ship them off the first chance they get. When they return twenty years later, after boarding school and college and whatever, they are fully grown and no longer an embarrassment to their parents. But Sybil keeps looking at me all teary-eyed. I want to ask her why she doesn't just bring her son home and spend some time with HIM -- but I guess that isn't a question that is asked in polite society.
The rest of us sit in the main part of the room and Sybil and her friend take over the 'entertainment.'
"Fiona's specialty is past-life regression."
"What's that?" I pipe up. Everyone turns to look at me. Gerry glowers. He's the guy who thinks I should be seen and not heard. But I don't give a shit because Sybil likes me.
"People who think they were Cleopatra or Napoleon in a former life," says Brian, from the corner where he and Harry are sorting out their Scrabble tiles. "It's amazing that no one was ever a slave or a manure spreader. Everybody was rich and famous -- which makes up for having a shitty draw in life this time around, I suppose."
"Brian, you are more the cynic than even Gerry!" says Albert, Sybil's husband.
"I just don't believe in fairy tales. Unless it's a tail I'm fucking." Brian catches my eye and winks.
"You are SO rude, you naughty boy!" Sybil laughs.
"I know -- it's a gift."
"And what about you, Justin?" Fiona looks at me with very pale blue eyes.
"I'm not really interested in my past life," I say. "I'm pretty much still focusing on this one."
"But perhaps you have a fateful thread in your incarnations?"
"What does THAT mean?"
"That you are born again and again to try to accomplish some great goal? Or to fulfill an important destiny? Or pursue a great love throughout the centuries?"
"I already know the answer to that one," I say, glancing at Brian, who rolls his eyes slightly. And Gerry gives me another nasty look.
"Perhaps you are interested, then, in exploring your alternate stream?" Fiona asks me.
"And that is?"
"Time is like a river with many forks, many steams. Do you believe that, Justin?"
"I... guess so." It sounds sort of weird -- but also interesting.
"You can get a glimpse into what your fate MIGHT have been if some things had never been. To see what your life might have turned out like if certain incidents had not occurred. Or certain people were not a part of your fate in this incarnation."
"Geez, that sounds a little intense."
"Would you like to try it?"
"Oh, DO!" says Sybil.
"Yes," says Gerry. "Do -- see what you'd be doing if you hadn't met Brian. Probably at summer camp somewhere tying slip-knots!"
This kind of interests me. Not the part about no Brian. I don't WANT to think about THAT possible future because I would not have wanted to live it, no matter how good it might have been. But -- what if Chris Hobbs hadn't hit me? Or Brian had never come to the prom? Or -- if he'd never gone away with Ron in the first place? If Ron had never come to Pittsburgh with his stupid movie and we could have gone on with our lives in peace? Yes -- that does spark my interest.
"Yes," I say. "I want to try that. I'd like to see that."
Fiona nods at me and holds out her hand. She sits me beside her on the old sofa, which is covered with a tapestry-like fabric. It feels like sitting on a hard curtain. She gestures everyone else to move back from the two of us. Then she lights a big candle that sits on the coffee table.
"Everyone must be silent. Justin and I are going to travel into time and space, so please be aware of those passages that he and I will seek."
She turns me to face the candle. "Gaze into it, lad. Be drawn into the flame. Fire is the element of knowledge. The first gift to mankind from the Gods. It will take us back into ourselves. Be also aware of the other elements -- the steams of water and the currents of air and the earth that grounds us here on this planet. But most of all, the fire."
I stare into it as I listen to her voice. It's soothing and hypnotizing. And I wonder if I am being hypnotized in some way. Brian would certainly say that I was. But it's a strange and interesting feeling, whatever it is. Like my mind is disconnected and rising away from the room, even while I'm sitting here, quietly.
"You want to know what your life would have been if it hadn't taken this path you feel has ruined everything? This path that you think is the wrong one in your life, is that so?" Fiona says.
"Yes," I say. "That's it. How did you know?"
"Because that is what I know. To know what YOU want to know is my Gift. That is MY Sight." She holds her hands on either side of my head and directs my gaze at the fire, holding me steady.
"Now close your eyes, Justin. Look for the river. Look for the stream that is your own. Follow it backwards to the point at which everything in your life went wrong. Look for that fork."
"I... I don't know."
"Do you see the pathways? Do you see that moment?"
"Yes. I see it. It's winter. Ron has come to Pittsburgh and brought his film. That's where it all went wrong."
"Keep going back, Justin. Look for the other path. The alternate path."
"I think... I see it."
"Good lad. Now follow that path. Take THAT stream instead of the one you are on."
"Yes -- I'm going down there. I'm floating...."
"Go deeper. Look and see."
I see myself. Brian. The loft. The Jeep. Everyone we know. But it is all wrong, somehow!
I am all wrong. I am saying things -- doing things! -- that I would never say or do! Brian is acting in ways I've never seen him act before. And I am reacting to him so strangely.
It's like a movie -- I see myself in my mind, but I see someone I don't recognize at all. It's terrifying to me.
There is Brian, telling me that birthdays don't matter. That they are nothing to celebrate. But why? That's not true -- he doesn't believe that! I think of last year and how he asked me in Babylon just how I wanted to celebrate my eighteenth birthday. And then fulfilling that request with me in the loft -- not just having sex with me, but making love. Really making love -- and laughing, saying that now he wouldn't be afraid the police would come knocking at the door!
But he leads me up to the blue lights -- to some other man. I'm supposed to fuck him. What is this all about? This is not something Brian would ever do. Then why does it seems like it is happening? Or has already happened?
Then I am standing with Michael. He is frowning, looking like he's ready to cry. "He saved your life!" He is almost yelling at me.
"He fucks me, but he doesn't love me," I say, sniffing the air. Who IS that? It can't be me, can it?
"He loves me -- in his way," I am saying. About Brian! Why am I saying this? And to who? Why do I have a hard, jaded expression on my face? What has happened to me?
And there is some other guy. A short, tangle-haired man with a violin who is feeding me the kind of lines that even a thirteen year old girl wouldn't fall for!
"The music only flows through me from another place."
"YOU are my inspiration!"
"You are ALL I need. You are everything!"
And I am not only buying these lines, but I am cheating on Brian!
I feel like all the breath has been knocked out of my body. Because I am naked with this other guy. He is fucking me, our fingers entwined! NO! Stop it!
I feel myself starting to fall forward, but Fiona grips me. I hear her voice saying, "Follow the stream and see what might have been. Your better future -- that one you have so longed for, Justin. Without your great rival. Without your great love's abandonment. This is how it plays out and you must follow it through."
"Partner! Partner!" Brian is calling to me -- holding a bottle of champagne. These are words he'll never say in a millions years -- but he's saying them to me! My heart leaps a little. Brian is looking for me. But I'm gone. I've left. He is walking alone down a dark alley. That dream is over before is has even started.
"Come back!" I try to shout.
"Quiet, lad. You can't do anything to change this stream. It's your other fate. It has already happened. It's over and done with."
I see Brian in a hospital. I think it is when I was bashed, but then I see Michael, crying. It's Ben -- he's dying. Brian is holding Michael, comforting him. Talking about when I was in the hospital and how Michael was there for Brian for the three days he sat, without sleeping or eating, until I was out of critical condition. Until they knew that I would live. I've never heard this before. Where is it coming from?
And I see Brian in the hospital every night during my recovery, watching over me. I see Brian speaking with my mom. She knows this and has never said a word to me about it. Never told anyone else. This can't be true. I would know about it. It all must be coming out of my fantasies. My dream of what I would like Brian to be like, what I would want him to do as my protector, my guardian in the best of all possible worlds.
But all the other stuff -- the horrible things I'm doing, saying, the strange things Brian is doing and saying! -- those aren't my fantasies! No, they are nightmares!
Brian is kissing me. Then throwing me down on the hard floor of the loft. Smelling me. I'm a liar. He can smell the lies all over me!
"Take a shower -- you STINK!"
And I lie there on the floor like a discarded shirt, stained with someone else's cum.
I see Brian -- his face strained, betrayed. He is staring at me like he no longer knows who I am or what I want.
"HE tells me what I want to hear! That I'm the only thing he needs!" I say, defiantly.
He? The other guy! I see him, his face contorted in anger, throwing a hundred dollar bill at me. Brian gave it to him. We are sitting in a crummy apartment, on broken furniture. He says that Brian is beautiful. He WANTS him! I can see it in his face! He's jealous of ME and Brian -- but he also lusts for him! He kicks me out and I run through the darkness, back to Brian.
He is holding me -- but it's too late. Already too late. But why? Why?
In another darkness I see images of me being attacked. My heart begins to pound in fear and I feel the sweat trickling down my neck in that chilly drawing room. I see myself, but it isn't me -- it's a play of me. And Brian saving me. Like a comic book -- Michael's and mine. I watch impassively as I am being bashed on a stage. Brian watches impassively. But how? I can't even THINK of it without panicking. And Brian can't think of it at all without breaking down. How are we just standing there, like it wasn't the most horrible moment of both of our lives? It doesn't make any sense at all.
The lights are swirling. The music is so loud I can't think! I see Brian -- he's in the backroom, fucking an image of himself. I don't understand what is happening here. Everyone is wearing masks, like at Mardi Gras. But these are black masks. The masks of bandits and thieves. Someone is stealing something, but I don't know what. I think it's my life!
Someone is being thrown off a fucking cliff! And it's ME. Brian is throwing ME off. Just like Michael and Dr. Dave! Wait -- I'm ON to you, Brian! I try to scream this, but I can't say anything. Instead, I see myself, leaving with the dark man. He's telling me things again. I don't believe them! Don't fucking believe HIM! I KNOW better than this! I KNOW what Brian is doing... Then why do I act like I don't understand?
And I see Brian -- masked like a raccoon in the dark. He removes his mask and faces me. I turn my back on him. I turn my back. I turn my back. I....
"Please! Make it stop! STOP!" Now I am screaming.
"You can return to your own flow any time you wish now. Just open your eyes, lad."
"I can't -- I'm afraid. Afraid that when I open them I'll be in that other time! In that other place -- and all of those things will be true!"
"Just open your eyes, Justin." Fiona's voice sounds distant.
But I can't open them. I can't stop myself weeping now. Gasping for breath. I can't stop seeing myself turning my back on Brian, walking away from him with someone else. Seeing the look on his face as he watches me. I feel like I am convulsing. Like my heart is going to burst and the blood is going to fly all over the room, drenching everyone here. I see myself, split open like a pheasant or one of those other little birds the gamekeeper was gutting.
"What the fuck is going on here!"
Brian is pushing people away. He is in the faces of Fiona and Sybil.
"What do you think you are doing to him?! This isn't funny!"
"Why we haven't done a thing to him, Brian. He was merely looking at his alternate future. The other stream that could have happened, but did not," says Fiona.
"That's such total horseshit! I ought to clobber both of you for getting Justin all in an uproar! Don't you know that he's still on medication? That he was attacked by some psychopath last year and almost fucking KILLED? And you are putting these stupid thoughts into his head?" He grabs me up off of the floor, where I have been kneeling, weeping. He pulls me up against him and holds my face against his chest, against his silk shirt that smells like clean water and incense and Brian. "Don't you fucking people have better things to do? Why don't you go out and chase some innocent foxes or colonize some other country and make them all drink tea and eat boiled meat and drive on the wrong side of the fucking road? And leave us alone!"
Brian's face presses against my neck. It feels hot and I know he's angry. He keeps my face hidden from them all as he leads me out of the drawing room and up the big staircase to our room. He locks the door, never releasing me until he sits me gently on the bed.
"Now -- what the fuck was that all about?"
But I can't even look at him. I feel like I have guilt written on my face. Like he can smell this other man -- the one in my vision -- all over me. Like his cum is still in me. The oil from his messy hair on my fingers. I feel like I'm dirty. A dirty lying cheat.
'What's the matter, Justin? What did you see? You can tell me," Brian says, like he's afraid to know.
"I saw myself," I answer. And I cover my face with my hands.
"Those fucking witches and their rotten parlor games! I ought to go down there and throw them both out a fucking window!" He's raging now.
"They didn't do anything," I whisper. "It was me. What I did."
"Justin -- you haven't done anything!" He takes me by the shoulders and shakes me, gently. "It was some fantasy they planted in your head! Whatever you saw wasn't real at all. It's a trick. A stupid game."
"No -- it was ME. A different me. I wanted to see what things would have been like if... if you hadn't left. And it was horrible. I made it horrible! I ruined everything!"
"You were right to leave me and go to California, Brian. You probably never should have come back! I'M the one who ruins everything!" I start crying again and can't stop.
"Jesus, what can I do to convince you?" He holds his head. "You haven't done ANYTHING! I'M the fucking asshole around here, remember? The one who is always screwing up? The one YOU have to take care of? Now why would you act any other way, be any other person? It isn't in your nature, Justin. You are who you are -- and THIS is it."
He goes into the bathroom and brings back a box of tissues. He wipes my eyes and my nose, which is running like a flood. The he undresses me and puts me in the bed like I'm a child. I feel like a child. But now I'm afraid to close my eyes for fear I'll go back to that other place, that other Justin.
Brian goes downstairs for a while. I'm scared he's down there killing Sybil and Fiona. And probably Gerry, too, just for being Gerry. But he comes up with a jug of milk and a glass. And some hard, dry toast. The milk is warm, but he makes me drink it. And he makes me eat the toast.
"That's supposed to make you sleepy. I prefer other methods of relaxation, but I think the milk will suffice for now."
While I drink some more of the warm milk, Brian undresses and gets into the big bed next to me. I'm still shaking a little. He reaches over and picks up the glass of milk, finishing it and then setting the empty glass back on the table.
He wraps his arms around me, pulling me back against him. "I don't even want to know what you think you saw -- but do you realize now that it wasn't real?"
"I guess," I whisper.
"That woman is a hypnotist, I'm sure of it."
"I thought you'd say that, Brian." But I know she isn't. She couldn't have known those things to put in my head. They were coming from somewhere else.
"She made you see weird things and imagine other things out of your unconscious. It's like having bizarre dreams -- they are always all jumbled up. You don't believe you can fly? Or can turn into animals or other people, do you?"
"Well, then. Sometimes in dreams you do those things. That's where all that was coming from. A fevered imagination. And not a very creative one, at that. Especially one that could imagine that you would ever leave...." he stops and looks at me. "Never mind. Don't even think it. Don't even dream it."
He leans over and turns out the old-fashioned lamp on the bedside table.
"What? Go to sleep."
"I just wanted to ask you...?"
"Were you really at the hospital for three whole days after they brought me in?"
He's unusually still. "Who told you that?"
"It was in my... vision."
"Someone must have told you. Michael, maybe. You just forgot it until now."
"No. No one told me. And I would never have forgotten something like that."
"We forget a lot of things."
"Not that." I wait a minute or two. "Brian?"
"Did you really come to the hospital every night and watch me when I was in the rehab unit?"
I hear his breath suck in. "Who told you THAT?"
"I saw it -- in the other stream. Is it true?"
"My mother knew, too. Why didn't SHE tell me? Or you? After all this time?"
"Then it really DID happen? You really were there every night? While I was asleep?"
"What does it matter now?"
"Because, how could I have known? If that other time wasn't true, too? That other me?"
"Because it's bullshit! It could never happen! It DIDN'T happen, Justin! The only thing that has ever happened is HERE and NOW. Isn't that enough?"
"It was me who ruined everything -- there." I squeeze my eyes shut, but the tears push through anyway.
"WE all have it in us to screw up. You. Me. Your mom. The fucking Pope and the Queen of England! We can all fuck up!" He turns over and nudges up against me. "But YOU didn't. You didn't fuck up. You're the only one who does it right! Aren't you making sure that I don't fuck up? Again? In the future? Ever?"
"But who will make sure I don't fuck up, too? Like -- in that other place?"
"I guess that will be up to me. We'll both have to stumble along like a couple of jerks and try not to fall off any cliffs, okay?"
"Or push each other off any cliffs? Do you promise NEVER to do that to me -- even if you think it's for my own good?"
"I promise. Why would I do that to myself? I'm too much of a selfish bastard to kick my own ass like that. Besides, I don't like to throw away my prize possessions. Someone else might try to take them. And then they are too hard to get back. Now go to sleep."
I close my eyes, but I'm still frightened. Frightened that I might wake up in a world like the one in my vision. And, for the first time in a long, long time, I pray a little. Asking that I stay right here. No matter what has happened in the past or what might happen in the future. Just let me stay here. In Brian's arms.
Continue on to "Partly Cloudy, Chance of Rain -- Part 1", the next chapter.
©Gaedhal, August 2002
Picture of Randy Harrison from Showtime.
Send Gaedhal any comments, critiques, suggestions.
Updated August 12, 2002