This is Part 2 of Chapter 100 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "Messed Around -- Part 1", the previous section.
The narrator is Brian Kinney, featuring Diane Rhys, Sir Kenneth Fielding, Dorian Folco, Walter Urbanski.
Rated R for language and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Brian has brunch with Diane and Sir Ken calls to tell him some news. 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.
"So, are you TRYING to be stupid? Because it can't be an accident. What YOU do, Brian, is NEVER an accident! A disaster, maybe, but NOT an accident!"
Diane has been going on for about a half hour, but she STILL isn't finished reaming me out. In fact, she's just getting started. We've been meeting regularly since I got back to L.A., usually for brunch at her place. But I've been avoiding her calls all weekend. Because I don't want to hear her tell me what I already know too well. "Sorry, Diane," I say, wincing. "I've been... fucked up. What can I say? I'm a fucking mess."
"Jesus, Bridie! It's not ME who you should be apologizing to! It's Justin!"
"I know," I reply, laying my head down on the kitchen table. It aches like a bitch. My entire body aches like a bitch.
"Have you talked to him?"
"Last night," I whisper. "Late. After I got back from... Ramrod."
"Ramrod!" she blasts. And I wince again. "Freakin' hell, Brian! That really takes the freakin' cake, you know that?"
"I know. You don't have to yell."
"Yes, I do! I want you to remember exactly how you feel RIGHT NOW! So, did you tell Justin where you'd been? Huh?"
"No. But he knew that I was fucked up."
"I bet he did. That kid misses nothing -- especially anything having to do with you. He knows you better than you know yourself. And you should thank God for that!" She pours me another cup of coffee and pushes it in front of me. "Did you detail your little excursion to Ramrod, Brian? I bet you went with that freakin' Eugene, didn't you?"
"What can I say, Diane? I'm an asshole. He should just give up on me." I try to shut my eyes, but they hurt too much even to close.
She stops and looks sharply at me, leaning right into my face. "Is THAT what you're trying to do, Brian? Are you? TRYING to push him away? Because if you are, then you're an even bigger idiot than I thought!"
"Maybe I am," I say, dejectedly.
"Maybe you really want to get back with Ron, huh? Make it up with him? Then you two can be the Cute Queer Power Couple of the year! Is that what you want? Brian?"
"No." It isn't.
"Or maybe you enjoy screwing that ratty Eugene? Or you are getting so much fun out of tricking that you want to go back to doing it full time? Is that it? You sure got sick of that kid fast. I guess you had enough of him this summer."
"No!" I say. "That's not it at all."
"Then what, Brian?"
How am I supposed to make her understand? That the more I think about everything that I'm going through and everything he's gone through for me. The more I see of this place, the people, the fucked up relationships. Just -- everything! The more I look at what it's done to me, the more I don't want Justin to be exposed to it all. The more I think he's safer, better off as far away from me as possible. I mean, if he'd never come out here in the first place last June, then Ron would never have gotten to him. Never would have gotten film of Justin and me. Or of Justin and.... "Nothing," I say to Diane. I'm noted for my emotional openness and sharing my thoughts.
"Brian, look at me."
Jesus. Diane should have gone into police work. She'd be a natural at giving guys the third degree. Next she'll bring out the electric cattle prod to use on my balls. "What?"
"This isn't really about Justin at all, is it? Because this has very little to do with pushing him away. You could have done that any time this summer. But, in fact, you two had pretty much worked things out by the end of the summer. Your relationship. Am I right?"
"I don't know what you mean, Diane."
"You know exactly what I mean, Bridie! I've seen that little picture postcard on your ass! And I know that Justin has one, too! And don't tell me that you were drunk, because Justin has already told me the whole story! And I think it's adorable."
"I don't DO adorable." I sigh. "That kid has a his big mouth!"
Diane snorts. "Lucky for YOU! Besides, Bridie, I talked to both of you on the phone all summer long. I know what was happening between you. I know how you feel about him, so don't even try to lie to me. And I SAW you when you came back. You freaked out Ron royally! It was classic!"
"Yeah -- a good idea. While it lasted."
"But then what happened? Why are you doing this NOW, Bridie? It doesn't make sense. This is about damaging YOURSELF. Purposely."
"I'm not damaging myself, Diane. I just got a little high, that's all."
"No," she says. "That ISN'T all." She grabs my arm and pushes my shirt sleeve up. "What's this? And this?" She touches my skin gently.
"Looking for track marks, Diane? I'm not THAT stupid!" Not yet.
"No, Brian. Not that. You know what I mean, you jerk! "Ramrod, huh? That freakin' Eugene! Do I have to ask you to take off your shirt?"
"No," I say. The bitch. Why is she always right.
"No, this isn't about Justin, Brian. This is about Ron. This is about YOU. It is, isn't it?"
"What do you mean? Ron and I hardly speak to each other."
"Maybe that's why."
"You're wrong, Diane!" I say, angrily. "You don't know anything."
"But I do. It is about Ron. You know that you're going to have to fuck with his head. With his life. You're doing it now, a little -- but you can't keep it up. You can't do it, can you?" Her voice gets softer. "You're going to let him get away with everything. All because YOU can't push him the way you need to. Because you used to love him. Or maybe you still do. And you can't screw him over, isn't that it?"
"You don't know what you're talking about."
Diane sits back. Her face is so knowing. So fucking knowing. "I DO know, Brian. And you've got to do it. You're going to have to fuck Ron over. Hard. Now!"
"That's easy for you to say, Diane. You don't... you can't...." I pause. "I can still remember certain things too well. I try to make myself forget, but I can't!"
Diane leans over me. I get a flashback of Sister Mary Dominic with her fucking ruler in the third grade. "Brian, you have a choice here. If you can't see it as a choice between Ron and YOU, then try to see it as a choice between Ron and Justin. Because THAT is what it's going to come down to. You want to kill that kid emotionally, mentally, so that you don't have to hurt RON? Wake up, Brian. Buy a clue. Please."
"I don't know, Diane."
Now she's right in my fucking face. "You don't know WHAT, Brian? If you can be a fucking MAN and act like one for five minutes? If you can take responsibility for your own fucking actions like every other human being on the planet is expected to do?"
I don't like Diane like this. I don't like her swearing. It fucking scares me. Because I know how serious she is when she does it.
"Are you going to get into THIS shit, now -- hurting yourself? Punishing yourself? -- after all you've survived?" She grabs my arm and squeezes the bruise she found, making me gasp. "Is that what you want? You want Justin to see THAT on you?"
"No," I say. No, I don't.
"Then stop it. Now. Stop it while you still can. Before you get into it too deeply." She shakes her head. "And cut off this Eugene guy. He's into that stuff way too much. If you have to fuck someone, don't let it be HIM! Pick someone else. Anyone else! You have your pick of every waiter in this town! Or, you might TRY holding out once in a while, you know. I'm not saying that you should be celibate -- I know THAT won't happen. But TRY to refrain occasionally, especially when you know it's wrong, Brian. And you know when it's wrong."
"I know." Jesus.
She gives me a little rest while she toasts a couple of bagels and makes scrambled eggs. She pours me more coffee, too, with plenty of sugar. I'd like a shot of booze in it, but I know better than to ask Diane for some. I'll have to wait until I get out of here.
Actually, my stomach isn't feeling very well, but I know she's going to force me to eat. I think that's why Justin makes me come over here -- so he knows that I'll eat something. Carmel and Maria don't even bother to ask what I want to eat anymore. They just ignore me. And that's fine with me. I don't need to eat their fucking poisoned food!
My cellphone makes a little insistent purring sound in my jacket pocket.
"Are you going to get that?"
"What for? It's probably Ron. He knows I came over here."
"What if it's someone else?" Diane asks. I shrug. "What if it's Justin calling?"
I take the phone out of my leather jacket and answer it. "What?"
"Who is this, please?" The voice sounds familiar. British.
"Sir Ken?" I venture.
"My dear boy! I wasn't certain I'd reach you! I had this number in my Filofax and I hoped it was correct. Are you in California?"
"Yes, Ken. I'm in Los Angeles. What's up?"
"Actually I'm here with Dorian. We've been confabbing over whether to call you or not. But I felt it was important. Dorian wasn't quite certain it was any of our business, but I disagreed." And I can hear Dorian's voice in the background, telling Ken something.
"What is going on there? Is there a problem with the film?"
"It's just that... when you were in London the other week... and then... when Ron met you in London and you were with him... I must say, Brian, I was rather dismayed."
Great. Another 'caring friend' who wants to ream me out. "Well, if that's what you're calling about, Ken, I don't really need to hear your opinion about my fucking personal life!"
"No, Brian, please hear me out! I'm NOT criticizing your personal life. Not at all. You don't have to explain anything to anyone. Dorian says it's none of my business anyway -- but you know what a romantic I am, dear boy. I must admit that I was so sorry not to see Justin with you."
I take a deep breath. Diane is listening to my end of the conversation intently. "He's in school, Ken. That's where he belongs. And not in this fucking snake pit out here."
"I understand that, dear boy, but... I have something that I must tell you. As I said, Dorian disagrees that it's my business to relay this information, but I must do it. Because it relates to you. And to the boy, as well."
"What information? What are you talking about?"
"Brian, when my accountant brought me my expenses to go over the other week, she pointed out a number of oddities. She showed me the record of Hughie's cellphone calls. There were a large number of charges to the States. Always to the same number. She got out the records going back some months and they began last March, when we were in Los Angeles for the Academy Awards. Then they became quite constant through July -- and then basically stopped. At the same time you left London."
"Brian, I called the number. And was quite surprised who answered." Sir Ken hesitates. I hear Dorian say something else to him, but I can't make it out.
"What's the number, Ken. Tell me." He repeats it. My head goes numb as I feel like I just got kicked in the teeth. "That's Ron's cell number."
"I know, dear boy. I confronted Hughie... and he admitted that he'd been calling Ron with news about you from the time you arrived in England. He was repeating things he saw or that I told him about you and Justin. And he was eavesdropping, as well."
I'm stunned. Really. But then, why should I even be surprised? "But why, Ken? I understand Ron's sick, snoopy games, but why Hughie?"
"Apparently Ron had some knowledge about Hugh and his little boyfriend. But, you see, I knew about Tony all along. It never bothered me because I didn't think Hughie's little flings affected our relationship at all. Quite the contrary -- I thought they kept him happy. But Ron was threatening to expose Hugh. I don't know how Ron even knew about Tony, but he did. And he also had some kind of dirt on Hughie from when we were in Hollywood for the Awards. Some kind of video tape that Ron was going to show me if Hugh didn't do as he wished. Poor Hughie broke down and told everything. Dorian came and confronted him... because I just could not do it. I couldn't."
I sigh. It all sounds too fucking familiar. Hughie must have fallen for Ron's little camera tricks just the way poor Justin did. Ron must have videos of Hughie and himself. The thought turns my stomach. And I wonder how many other young men Ron has pulled this on? "I understand Ken. I'm glad you told me. I should know. It's important for me to know." Yes, to know just how far someone will go to control another person. Just how far.
Dorian takes the phone. "Brian, I know this isn't pleasant. And it impacts your relationship with Ron -- especially with 'The Olympian' coming out soon. I... didn't think it was the right time to tell you. I don't know, Brian. You must do what you think is best with this knowledge. I'm so sorry."
"I'm sorry, too, Dorian. Is there anything else?" I'm almost afraid to ask.
Dorian hesitates and I hear him speak to Sir Ken. "One thing. Evidently Ron wanted Hughie to undermine your relationship with Justin. Hughie was clear on that point. He was told to get Justin involved with someone else, if he could. Or seduce him himself. But Hughie told Kenny that he could never get the boy to take even a glimmer of interest in anyone else. Or in Hughie himself. So Hughie gave up trying."
I let out a deep breath. Jesus. Justin had guys flinging themselves at him, trying to make him stray. Purposefully, actively trying to get him away from me. But he only wanted me. I feel a huge fucking knot in the middle of my chest. Then I have an odd suspicion. "Did Hugh mention any other boys? A kid named Rowan, by any chance?"
"No, not at all. That name isn't familiar to me. Let me ask Kenny." Dorian speaks off the cell and then comes back. "No, Brian. But that doesn't mean this boy wasn't involved. We just don't know. Again, I'm crushed to have to tell you this. And Ken is very, very distressed about it. And distressed about having to send Hugh packing, too."
"I imagine so, Dorian. What's going to happen to Hughie?"
"He's left Ken's house for good. I imagine he's licking his wounds somewhere in South London. I believe that's where Tony lives -- he went there. Without his cellphone!" Dorian gives out a bitter little laugh. "Brian -- I'm sending your agent some faxes and other information about the 'Hammersmith' premiere. The date has been moved up by the studio."
I frown. "To when?" The 'Hammersmith' premiere in London was going to be just after Christmas. I was hoping that Justin and I could take a long Christmas/New Year's break over there, especially since PIFA is on vacation.
"To next month, Brian. We'll need you here around the 22nd of October. That's the date for the London opening."
"Shit, Dorian! That's right before all the press junkets and television stuff for 'The Olympian'!"
"I know. It can't be helped. It's the studio's call."
I think of something else, too. "That means that 'Hammersmith' will be coming out BEFORE 'The Olympian.'"
"I rather suppose it will."
"But Dorian -- Ron is going to go through the fucking roof! HIS film is supposed to be my 'debut'!"
"I know. It makes no difference to you -- or to me. But to Ron -- it WILL make a difference! A huge fucking difference! Be ready for a hurricane force tirade from him. And I'm not joking!"
Dorian sniffs. "Let him rage on. I don't really give a toss what he wants. It wasn't my decision and it isn't HIS either!"
"Thanks, Dorian. Keep me posted. And tell Sir Ken I'm okay," I say, even though I'm not. I'm anything BUT okay. "And Justin is okay, too. Really. He's safe at home. In Pittsburgh."
I put my phone away and Diane raises her eyebrows at me. "Well, well. I got the gist of THAT conversation. Ron's been a busy boy, hasn't he?"
I push away the food Diane has set in front of me. Eating is the last thing I want to do. In fact, I feel like someone has kicked me hard right in the gut. Because now I understand just how far Ron has already gone in his quest to control me and my life. And about how many people he's willing to destroy to make certain that I come to heel. And I can't even imagine how much farther he's willing to go. Last night's 'pain management' session at Ramrod was nothing compared to THIS. A fucking stroll in the park! Because now I can't balk anymore. I have to proceed. I have to find the highest cliff I can -- and push Ron off of it. As soon as possible.
"So," says Walter Urbanski. "You're a fag? Right?" We're sitting in his office in downtown Los Angeles. It isn't a fashionable address, but then Walter isn't exactly a fashionable guy.
I just stare at the attorney. Diane elbows me and nods. "Yeah. What fucking difference does that make?"
"To me, no difference whatsoever. To me, you're a client." Walter is a big, balding guy. He looks more like a butcher or a truck driver than sharp lawyer. He's also Diane's second cousin. Which is why I would even consider trusting him. I know he hasn't been co-opted by Ron, or Freddy Weinstein, or Jimmy, or the studio. He's a little dicey, but he's a free agent.
"So, if this thing ever goes to court -- you're a fag. That's what the jury will see. And -- what's his name? Ron? He's a fag, too. And this kid. His name is?"
I don't say anything. I won't say.
"Listen, Mr. Kinney, if you won't be honest with ME, then you're fucked to begin with. Because you have to tell ME everything. How can I advise you at all if you won't tell me even the most basic details of your case?"
"It isn't a case. It's a possible... complaint."
"Well, whatever the fuck you think it is, then. Now, the kid's name is...?"
"All right, then. He's a fag, too. So, you're supposed to be living with this one guy, but you're fucking around with this other guy -- who happens to be some teenage kid -- while you're living in this other guy's house and... everything...."
"Everything WHAT? What's that supposed to mean?"
"It means you're living in his fancy house, driving a fancy car he bought, wearing clothes he paid for. You wanna let the jury do the math on THAT?" I shake my head. "Listen, Mr. Kinney, let me get the details out at least! Now, your boyfriend is the jealous type, so he puts in one of those Nannycam things -- in his own house, by the way -- and catches YOU doing the nasty with the kid and he shows the kid the tape and the kid freaks out and then you and the kid book out of there. Am I close?"
"But nothing. Let me finish. So, you're pissed at HIM and he's pissed at YOU. He's basically thumbing his nose at you with having this tape. He's threatening to show it to someone -- he doesn't say who -- but someone. Anyone. Could be embarrassing. To you. To the kid. Even to what's-his-name -- Ron. Could be illegal. Video taping could be VERY illegal. But a lot of people do it. You can buy those little cameras in any electronics store. And he's a movie guy. He likes to play with cameras. That's his stock in trade. And he's got YOU screwing around. On tape, right?"
"So fucking what! He can't fucking video tape people and then threaten to fucking show it!"
"He can if he can get away with it," says Walter. "What are you claiming that he's making you do in return for NOT showing this video around? You want to detail it for me? Are you saying that he's blackmailing you? In what way?"
I don't say a fucking thing.
"Right then. Great. You've seen these tapes? You know that they exist?"
"I haven't actually seen them," I acknowledge. "But I KNOW they exist. Justin saw them. He told me. And I know Ron. He even admitted it to me."
"All right. Where are the tapes now?"
"I don't know. And the cameras are gone from the house. I know. I had a sweep done there."
"At Ron's house. And you were able to do this sweep because...?"
"Because I'm living there. But just temporarily."
"Is that part of the blackmail plot? You living there with him? Or is it because you're his boyfriend and have been for the last year? And you being in his movie that's coming out -- is that part of it, too? Or it THAT just because you're his boyfriend, too? And where does the kid fit into all this? He's seen these supposed video tapes...."
"They aren't 'supposed' -- they exist! Justin saw them."
"He saw them -- but you don't want him to testify to any of this. You don't want his name mentioned or involved in this. But HE'S the element on which all this turns. You're screwing HIM -- this nineteen year old kid -- behind the boyfriend's back. But the kid is jealous. He wants to get the boyfriend into trouble with YOU. The kid might make up a story. Who's to say?"
Now I'm getting angry. "He DIDN'T and he WOULDN'T make it up! Ron showed Justin the tapes to freak him out! And he did freak him out! And Ron wanted to make Justin run away. Which he didn't. But Justin didn't lie. I know what Ron did -- and Ron knows."
Walter takes out a big handkerchief and wipes his brow. It's about 100 degrees in L.A. today and the air conditioning in the office isn't the greatest. "Mr. Kinney, excuse me, but so fucking WHAT? It's your word and the kid's word against this Ron's word! You don't have the tapes. You don't have copies of the tapes. You don't have fucking SQUAT! Throw me a bone here, man!"
Diane cuts in. "Wally, believe me, if Brian says it happened, it did. I saw both of them the next day. I saw Justin. He was devastated."
"That's all well and good, Diane, but it doesn't constitute proof. YOU didn't see anything. You might have seen the kid giving you an act. What do you think Ron's shark is going to say to THAT? Because I can guarantee that if this thing EVER comes out he will have some high-priced studio-sponsored suit to represent him and that guy will go after your friend, Mr. Kinney, and that kid so hard that neither of them will know what fucking hit them!" He looks at me. "EVERY aspect of your life will open to discussion -- and I mean EVERY aspect. Sex and drugs and rock and roll! So if you or Justin have anything to hide -- it won't be hidden for long. So what will the kid have to say, Mr. Kinney?"
"Nothing!" I shout. "Because Justin is not going to say anything in public about this! Period!" Now the sweat is dripping down my neck. "And Ron isn't my boyfriend. Justin is."
"Sure he isn't. Keep telling yourself that." Walter sits back. "So, what do you want me to DO, Mr. Kinney? What? Send your ex-boyfriend who you're still living with an engraved message asking him to please make nice with you and turn over the nasty videos of you cheating on him and that's IT?"
"I don't fucking know." I run my hand through my hair. If I thought I had a headache yesterday morning, after a weekend of lousy excess, it was nothing compared to this shit.
"Well that's just fine. Except I have to repeat -- what do you want ME to DO, Mr. Kinney?" Now Walter is getting annoyed. "You want me to contact the District Attorney with a complaint based on THIS information? You THINK this happened? Someone told you HE saw this? Give me a fucking break! If I were a judge and I was handed this case I'd say, go home and make up with your boyfriend -- when you decide which guy that IS -- and don't drag your personal problems into my fucking court! So, give me a reason to pursue this. ANY fucking reason!" Walter's little piggy eyes rivet into me.
"Wally -- isn't it illegal to video tape people without their knowledge?" Diane asks. I know she's trying to act as the voice of reason here, but goddamn -- this just isn't playing out the way I thought it would. "Especially if you use it to threaten them? To extort sexual favors?"
"It could be. Definitely. We might have a shot at an acceptable case with something like that. Except where's the PROOF that this is what is happening?"
I look at Diane. This is fucking impossible. But there IS something else. "Look, Mr. Urbanski. What if I told you that he also has... film. Porn. Of a minor. And him. Having sex."
Walter sits back in his chair, interested. "Is this 'Kiddie Porn' another one of those theoretical films?"
"Yes, but it's not just 'theoretical.' Justin saw it," I insist. "Ron showed it to him. It exists. I haven't seen it myself, but I KNOW that it exists."
"And you also know for sure that it shows a minor? Having sex with an adult? Are you certain?" Walter jots something down on his legal pad.
I glance at Diane. "Yes. I know it does. With a sixteen year old boy." The lawyer gives me that dubious look. I know it's his fucking job to be skeptical, but fuck him! "I know the film exists, Mr. Urbanski. I know the kid in it was a minor when it was made. Because it's me."
Walter barks out a laugh. It's not a very nice laugh. "Jesus fucking Christ! And you WILL testify to this -- if it comes to that?"
I look right at him. "Yes," I say. "I would testify. He... Ron... also gave me drugs. Bought them for me and gave them to me. Heroin. I... would testify to that, too."
"Brian...." Diane leans over and touches my arm. "Are you sure about this?"
I nod. "I will. I'll say it. If I have to. Even in court. I'll make an official statement. Whatever it takes."
"Sure you will," says Walter, smiling. His teeth are sharp, like a shark's should be. "But what you REALLY want is just to get this guy under YOUR thumb, am I right? To get back at him good, isn't THAT it? To put HIM on the spot and make him squirm? Because something like THAT could do it. Could do it very nicely."
I feel my head spinning. My life spinning. Out of control. "All I want is for Ron to give me the tapes of me and Justin and then get the hell out of our lives! I... don't want to take this court and air all this shit in public! Do you think I'm insane? It would be the end of MY career and HIS career, too! I just want him to let it go. To let ME go. THAT'S what I want. And if I have to virtually blackmail him back to get him out of my life, and so he won't have those videos to hang over our heads -- mine and Justin's! -- for the rest of our lives -- then I will."
Walter stares at me. I know he despises me and everything about me. He's a homophobic creep, even if he is Diane's cousin. And I'm planning to use him. To throw Ron off the cliff. And Walter knows it. And he's willing. In fact, he's relishing it.
"IF you can get me a copy of that 'Kiddie Porn' film, Mr. Kinney -- if I have a fucking copy in my fucking hand -- then we have leverage. We have something we can use to deal with your boyfriend. And if you're really willing to testify when it was made and how old you were -- that's the trump card. Can you prove it? Beyond question?"
"Yes, I think so. There are medical records from when I returned to Pittsburgh. There are other people who would... testify. Tim Reilly, maybe. He's an ex-priest. And the doctor at the center they sent me to. The time frame is pretty clear. I was sixteen years old."
Walter rubs his hands together, thinking, gloating. "IF you can get me that tape. THAT film. Then the rest of the shit is all moot. It doesn't matter. Because this guy's balls will be in the fire. He'll collapse if he doesn't want something like that to come out. He'll agree to anything YOU want! And he WON'T fight us, either -- not if he wants his directing career to survive. Or his big movie. End of story."
Diane reaches over and squeezes my hand. But I'm just staring into space. Thinking. Of what the fuck I'm going to have to do now. If I can do it. To get that fucking tape. To 'get' Ron. To get to the end of this fucking story.
Continue on to "Bringing It All Back Home -- Part 1", the next chapter.
©Gaedhal, November 2002
Updated November 13, 2002