This is Part 1 of Chapter 100 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "Better Man -- Part 2", the previous chapter.
The narrator is Brian Kinney, featuring Justin Taylor, Eugene Majeski, Bill, Others.
Rated PG for language and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Brian faces another 'aftermath' and then calls Justin. September 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 very late Saturday night -- or very early Sunday morning, depending on your point of view -- when I finally work up enough nerve to call Justin.
I've spent a better part of the last two days pretty fucked up. I can't deny it and I won't excuse it. It's just fact. And that means I didn't call him. And I had promised to call him after the promo party they had at Woody's. To find out how it went. But, as I say, I was fucked up -- and by the time I'd gotten myself to the point the next day where I could call, I was well on the way to the next night's fuck up.
Friday evening Ron went to some shit function at Freddy Weinstein's with Jimmy and Tess, but I told him I'd be fucked before I'd go over to that mausoleum and suck up to Freddy's asshole friends. And his lovely wife, Dolly "The Shark" Weinstein. Every time I see that woman I get awful flashbacks of her red-taloned fingers on my cock. God! So there was a huge blow up. And I stayed home. I said I'd be fucked -- and I'd already started getting there with a little grass and a couple of beers in the afternoon when Eugene's friend Bill came over.
He's some kind of electronic security expert and he came over and did a sweep of the poolhouse. As I suspected, it was clean. Ron isn't dumb and he's not about to leave anything in or around the house that I can get my hands on as evidence. I realized that from day one. I even checked his office computer, but he'd removed that little camera on the monitor that Justin described and there was nothing on the hard drive that even looked like a video program or files. I didn't really expect to find anything there. Not really. Ron has had all summer to cover his fucking tracks.
Bill invited me out for a drink and we ended up at Ramrod. As leather bars go it's pretty middle of the road. Eugene was there -- he's a regular -- and I invited him back to the house with his proofs of the pool shoot. They're good. Really, really good. Eugene can be a jerk sometimes but he's a talented photographer, that's certain. A lot of the shots were -- how do I put this? -- dodgy. Almost porn, let's face it. But artistic porn. My dick looks good in black and white. And even better in full color. Especially right out of the pool.
When Ron saw them this morning, he shit bricks. But that WAS the point, wasn't it? Wasn't it? The look on Ron's face -- I guess I should get some satisfaction at making him crazy, but I don't. I feel a twist in my fucking gut every time. I just can't do this at all. I can't forget everything, after all. It's hard for me to hate anyone. It was even hard for me to hate my old man, for fucksake! And if anyone ever had a reason to hate someone, then I certainly had a big fucking reason to hate my father.
The only thing that keeps me motivated to fuck Ron over is the memory of the look on Justin's face that night by the pool. How scared and horrified he was after Ron showed him those fucking videos. Pale and shaking and throwing up his guts! And the thought of how Ron calculated it all. Did it purposely to drive him away. To destroy him, in fact. Fortunately, that kid is made out of titanium. He's indestructible. Or it seems like he is. Stronger than I am, that's certain. But it's like I'm made out of ice and one good breath of hot air would melt me right away.
After Eugene split I spent all day nursing my hangover and brooding. It's the one thing I still do well. Ron avoided me completely. He's been doing that a lot lately. I don't blame him -- I'd avoid me, too, if I could.
Then Eugene called and invited me to dinner. He's starting to be a pain in the ass. I've fucked him four or five times and he thinks it's a relationship. But I went anyway. I met him at Flora's in West Hollywood. That's THE trendy fag dive this fall. I even took Ron over there one night right after I got back in town. He fucking hated it! Just hated it. The Polo Lounge is more to HIS liking. But Flora's is still 'in' for the Young Queer About Town. You can eat overpriced food for the chance to get cruised. Wow. The waiters are cute, though. And a couple of them aren't bad at all. And I know because I've gone through the entire staff over the last nine months. But none are worth a repeat.
With maybe one exception. And he's the one I want to avoid. He's the youngest one there. A blond, of course. The kind I always pass over, purposely. And it isn't hard to refrain from the blonds in a city that's teeming with good-looking Chicano guys. But I picked this one up sometime last winter when I was really at a fucking low ebb. I knew it was a mistake the minute I did it. It was just too fucking close. He's got that same innocent, enthusiastic quality. Hasn't been spoiled yet or pounded down by this fucking place and its crummy people. I went into a tailspin for days after that one. It just reminded me of what I no longer had. No longer had, but still wanted so much I couldn't stand it.
And ever since then whenever I end up at Flora's, this blond twinkie waiter makes a beeline for me. Trying to get my attention. And tonight, especially, I just wanted him to stay away from me. He's so eager and happy and friendly, like a fucking Cocker Spaniel. Like... someone else. Obviously. Every time I looked at him I felt so fucking guilty I ordered another drink.
Like I say, none of the other guys at Flora's are worth a repeat, but then neither is Eugene, really. But he's convenient. I can't be bothered to go out hunting for dick when I just want to relieve myself and fucking get it over with. And Eugene is always ready. I know he's one of the worst starfuckers in town, but he has a lot of connections and knows everyone. He hooked me up with Bill, the security guy, so that was something. And he did the photographs for me, too.
But if Eugene is going to keep up with his 'dating' shit and wanting to go out to dinner, I'll have to cut him loose for good. I don't have any emotional attachment to him or to any of these guys and I don't want any of them to start thinking I do. Or that I might in the future. I want that to be clear.
The other problem is that after tonight I'm starting to think of Eugene as a friend. And that means that I'm now fucking my friends. Which is something I've always vowed never to do. But there you have it. Fuck. Where's Mikey when I need him? Right? That's a joke and a half.
But it's just that I can't stand strangers anymore. Can't stand talking to them. Can't stand touching them -- or having them touch me. A nameless, faceless fuck no longer satisfied me. Being with guys I don't know -- I never used to think about it twice and now it makes my fucking skin crawl. Unless I really fuck myself up first and I can't do that constantly and still function. The last few guys I tried to pick up -- I just couldn't do it. Something so easy, so mundane as that -- and I couldn't. I ended up calling Peter Bridges -- the 'All American Dad'! That always cracks me up! -- on the pretext of talking to him about some television thing. That was easier. At least I knew him -- even if I can't stand him. The alternative was to go upstairs and find Ron. And I thought about it! See? I'm truly fucked up.
After dinner Eugene suggested some club. But I told him I wanted to go back to Ramrod. He was a little surprised, but he agreed immediately. Like I say, Eugene is a regular there. And we met up with Bill right away. We had a couple of drinks and then went to check out the action in the backroom. There wasn't much going on. The real shit happens downstairs. The hardcore stuff.
But it was early and I was still seeing straight, even after the shots of Absolut I had at Flora's. I'd gone there to fuck myself up, but I knew I'd need some help. A lot more help.
This really creepy looking guy was hovering around and had been since we arrived. Like he was waiting for an opening. When it was obvious that I was bored with the backroom, this guy saw an opening and took it.
"You like 'E,' man?" he said, taking out some multi-colored pills. "This is some wild, wild shit. It's new. I got a guy I know brings it in from Asia."
"Oh, yeah?" I reached for it. I felt up for some new and different experiences. The usual drinking, drugging, and fucking just isn't doing it for me anymore lately. Only one thing seems to do it for me -- and that's fucking out of reach.
Suddenly, Eugene was there. "Brian." He pulled me away. "I don't trust this guy. He's a little 'off,' you know? And the word is that he's got some fucked up 'E' that he's been giving people. No one really knows what it is, but it's bad news."
"Well," I said. "I'm looking to get fucked up. And I'm used to bad news." I started to turn away from Eugene.
"Brian." Eugene put his hand on my arm. "Do you trust me?"
For some strange reason I flashed on Ted Schmidt, lying in a hospital bed because he'd stupidly done drugs with someone he didn't know. Someone he didn't trust. Not a friend. A guy he met in a club. And I remembered telling Mikey and Emmett that what happened to Ted could never happen to one of us. Because, unlike Ted, we understood the rules. That you ONLY did drugs with your friends because they are the only ones who give a shit about you. But who is my fucking friend here, really? And rules are made to be broken, aren't they? Aren't they? Jesus! How far gone am I, then?
Bill was there, too, standing on my other side. "This guy is fucked, Brian!" he said, loudly. He looked straight at the creep, glaring at him.
"Hey, man!" The stranger said to Bill. "Back off! Here," he said to me. "It's a gift. Take it." He held out the pills.
"Get away," barked Bill, pushing the guy. Bill is a pretty pumped up man, practically a musclehead.
The guy backed up. "Fuck YOU, man!" But then he melted away in the darkness.
"Brian, you wanna get off, we'll get you off," said Bill. "We don't need him."
Bill took out two pills of his own. He offered one to Eugene, but he declined. "None for me, thanks." Eugene was staying straight -- just in case anything went wrong. Eugene doesn't seem to get stoned too much. I guess I should be glad of that. But he's into other stuff. Different sensations.
Bill shrugged. "At least I KNOW what I got here. That guy won't take his own shit! That should tell you something." He put one pill on his own tongue and put the other on mine. Then Eugene and Bill took me downstairs.
By the time the 'E' kicked in I was feeling ready to punish myself, physically and emotionally. I was ready. I wanted someone to hurt me enough so I wouldn't have to hurt myself anymore. And I trusted Eugene and Bill, so why not? I heard Eugene say, "Don't leave any marks that might show," before I was able to forget everything else.
Eugene was as good as his word. He got me back here. He didn't let me kill myself. I guess that's the definition of a friend -- someone who won't let you kill yourself, even if you don't give a fuck. Like Mikey. Although Eugene is no Mikey -- obviously. So now Eugene is a friend. And that's why I have to either accept it or fucking cut him loose.
But it's still early. I'm too fucked up to do anything and too keyed up to crash. I expected to be seriously unconscious by this time, but I'm not. Nothing works out quite the way you plan it.
And so I take out my phone and hit the autodial.
"Brian." It isn't a question. Who the fuck else would it be?
"Brian, are you drunk?"
"Well, then -- are you sober?"
There's a pause.
"Okay, I'm waiting for the in-between, then, Brian."
"In between. That pretty much says it all."
"Brian, what are you doing?"
"Not enough, apparently."
I hear a big sigh. "Brian -- do you want me to come out there and kick your ass? Because I'll do it. Even if I have to borrow the money from Cynthia. Even if I have to sell my fucking computer for the plane fare!"
"Don't do that. It... isn't a good time."
"When IS a good time? Huh? It's a good time to screw yourself up, that's for sure!"
"I know," I say. I do know.
"Did you do what you were going to do? Did you, Brian?"
"I went down to the marina to look at the boats. I'm supposed to go again on Monday. I think I'm pretty certain what I want."
"Well, that's something, at least. What about the lawyer? Did you talk to him at his office?"
"What the fuck are you waiting for? Call Diane and GO! Brian... Are you listening to me?"
"I hear you. But I got here and then I had to leave for London...." I know that I'm making excuses.
"But you're in town now for a while. There's no excuse to put off going to his office, Brian. And you tell him that I'll make a statement. I'll put in writing everything I saw. I'll come out there if I have to, Brian! I'm not afraid!
"I don't want you out here. I don't want your name connected with any of this."
"Brian," he says softly. "It might have to be. And I won't step back if it comes to that. Do you hear me?"
I swallow. "I hear you, Sunshine."
He sighs a few times. I can hear him moving around in the bed. The rustle of those dark blue sheets. It's making me hard.
"Are you still going to Diane's tomorrow for brunch?" Justin says.
"Don't GUESS! Get up and do it! Even if you're still screwed up. Jesus, Brian." Now he sounds disgusted. And I don't blame him.
"I'll be okay."
"Sure. Wait until you feel your head in the morning."
"Are you finished reaming me out yet?" I say, meekly.
"NO!" he yells. Then he lowers him voice. The disappointment in it is pretty hard to miss. "And I'm pissed off that you didn't call me last night to find out about the promo party."
"I know. But... I was busy."
"I bet!" says Justin. "Why didn't you call me AFTER you finished 'being busy'? Waking me up has never been a problem for you before."
"I know," I say. Like putting someone else's needs before what I wanted at the moment has ever been something I would consider doing. And yet -- it's what I want to do. If I can figure out how to do it.
"The trailer and film clips were fucking brilliant, by the way. In case you're interested."
"Did you really think so?"
"No, I'm just saying it to stroke your fucking ego! Of course I mean it -- you twat!"
Now I have to smile. "That's my line."
"It isn't when YOU'RE being the twat, Brian! The party went great -- and the reaction was amazing. The place went nuts."
I don't know what to say. I'm pleased -- but also terrified, too. "What did Mikey say? And... everyone?"
"They couldn't get over it, Brian. Emmett and Ted -- it was like THEY were taking credit for it! For knowing YOU! And I got up in front of the whole crowd and introduced the trailer. Cynthia asked me if I wanted to do it. And I wanted to."
"Were you nervous?"
"I just pretended I was you, Brian! It was awesome. Scary, but awesome."
"You can do anything you want to do, Justin. You're a natural at public speaking. Maybe I should get you an agent and send you out on some auditions. Then you can support me while I lay by the pool."
"I don't think I need an agent, Brian!" He's giggling like someone is tickling him. It doesn't take much to make him happy. Not all that much. Little things.
"Why not? Everyone out here has an agent. Even Carmel and Maria have one! Armani has one!" I look down at the dog. He's here in the poolhouse again, in the bed. I've stopped even trying to put him out.
"I think I'll stick to art for now. But Brian -- all the guys at Woody's. -- it... it just was too much. They had to clear the place out for a whole new crowd. That's how many people couldn't get in for the first showing!"
"Fuck." That's pretty overwhelming -- I mean just to see a couple of film clips.
"Cynthia was there, too. Like she was in charge."
"She was in charge," I say. "Marty Ryder has made her a Junior Account Executive."
"Meaning that she's not someone's fucking assistant anymore. 'The Olympian' and all the promotions in Western Pennsylvania, Western New York, and West Virginia is her account. She's in charge. With her own assistant and everything. She's even taken over a couple of my old accounts. And my old office."
Justin is speechless -- but never for long. "Why didn't she tell me that last night?"
"She was probably too busy doing her job. She should have been promoted a few years ago... but I needed her too fucking much. She was always more on the ball than half the execs in the place. And it's about time they had a woman in there. She'll kick Bob and Brad where they live!"
"I'm supposed to have lunch with her this week. On Thursday." He pauses, waiting. I know what's coming. "The day after the gallery opening at the Austin. I didn't know if you remembered."
"I remember," I say. "But I can't be there, Justin. You know that. I can't leave town right now because the studio has me and Jimmy on call."
"I know. I was just hoping." He's quiet for a long while.
"Are you still there?"
He yawns. "I'm here. Did you get the drawing framed?"
Yes -- at least I did ONE thing right. "I picked it up Friday morning. I've got it right here." It's a print -- a drawing of Gus. Justin's blocked it out like a Warhol print, in four sections, each in different colors. He did it on his computer and hand-colored the sections. He never said that it was for our 'anniversary' -- he wouldn't use that word because he thinks it would freak me out -- which it might, depending on my state of mind. But I knew what it was for. Just like he knew that silly Beast doll and the DVD was for the same thing. But even silly things can have meaning. And this print of Gus is anything but silly. In fact, it's beautiful. And it's full of meaning.
"You were smart to have it delivered to Diane's place, Justin. Don't send any letters or packages here. Carmel gives all the mail to Ron -- and he wouldn't hesitate to open anything addressed to me."
"I'm sending the photos from the island, too. I've got them in an album. There are some really nice ones." He pauses and giggles again. "There's an especially nice one of our tattoos -- together."
"Jesus! Did that picture turn out? I didn't think you really knew how to work that timer thing!"
"Oh, it worked. It's a little off-center, but you can see everything quite clearly. Everything."
"Christ! Wait until THAT photo finds its way to the 'National Enquirer'!"
"I wouldn't mind if it did, Brian," he says. "And I mean that. It wouldn't matter to me if it was on the front page of the 'New York Times'!"
"You really wouldn't mind, would you?"
"No, not really."
Now I'm quiet for a while. "Maybe getting down to the marina and getting that boat will help me get my fucking head straightened around. And it will get me out of here. Out of this house. This whole place feels like it's poison for me."
"No shit, Brian. Just do it -- forget Ron's threats. He won't do anything! He's got too much to lose now. He won't risk his movie just to get back at you. Or me."
"No 'maybe'! Talk to the lawyer! You needed to do it YESTERDAY! So don't wait any longer, Brian."
"I guess I'm afraid of what he's going to tell me. The lawyer, I mean." Walter Urbanski, the shark I've hired, is a second cousin of Diane's, which means he'll give me the straight dope. He's not in the pocket of the studio. Or anyone else.
"Why are you afraid, Brian? YOU haven't done anything wrong! It's all Ron! HE'S the one who should be worried. HE should be afraid! HE'S the fucking CREEP!" But I don't answer. "Brian? Are you there?"
"I'm here, Sunshine."
"Don't call me that unless you mean it. Don't mock me, Brian."
"I'm not. Never."
"Okay, then. I'm falling asleep, Brian, so I'm going to hang up. But only if you're all right."
"I'm all right. I think I can go to sleep now, too."
"Don't blow off Diane tomorrow, Brian. It's important. The only people you see or talk to are studio ass-kissers or tricks. Or Ron. You need to be around OTHER people who aren't trying to screw up your head! You need to see Diane and get a dose of normality."
"I know. And Diane will be thrilled that you think she's 'normal'!"
"She's HUMAN, Brian! And she's your friend. Your REAL friend. Don't discount that. Call me tomorrow night -- but not too late. I have an early class on Monday morning."
"I'll remember," I say, hoping that I do remember. "And don't stay up too late working on your project for the show."
"It's done. They are picking it up to take it over and install it on Tuesday. Then I'll go over after class and oversee the placement."
"Don't let them put you near the bathrooms or too close to the food."
"I won't!" He laughs. "Emmett's coming Wednesday night to take pictures at the opening. I'll send you some if they turn out okay."
"My mom is coming, too -- with Deb."
"What about Lindsay and Mel?"
He hesitates. "I don't know if they can make it. Let's talk about that another time, Brian. I'm tired."
"Goodnight, Brian. Don't forget that I love you. Don't forget that, okay?"
"I won't. Later."
I hang up. That's one thing I can't forget. Even if it sometimes seems like I'm trying to -- I can't let myself forget it or that's really the end. And there will be no turning back.
Continue on to "Messed Around -- Part 2", the next section.
©Gaedhal, November 2002
Updated November 7, 2002