This is Chapter 40 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "Songs of Experience", the previous chapter.
The narrator is Brian Kinney, and it features Justin Taylor.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Brian tries to work things out with himself -- and Justin -- before he returns to California. Pittsburgh, May 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.
"Brian! Brian -- I can't breathe! Wait...."
What? What? Shit! I'm killing him again! He's drowning here -- in ME -- and what am I doing about it? I'm not listening. Not hearing. Just doing. Just fucking. Mindlessly....
"That's better. Wait! Why are you stopping? Don't stop!"
But I'm already up and out of there. Too many fucking mistakes!
I head for the bar, where I find an old friend. The bottle of Jim Beam. It's quite easy, actually. I pour myself a large snort. Old habits die hard, right? Very hard. What the fuck am I doing? It seems I don't even know HOW to fuck anymore without hurting someone.
I drink the whole glass down and it feels like fire. It hits me with a jolt I don't expect. I have to sit down on the sofa before I fall down. My system isn't used to this yet.
"What are you doing?"
I look up and Justin is standing there, looming over me. He reaches for the glass, but I hold it out of the way. This has happened so many times before, it is a fucking cliche.
"Just a little thirsty."
"Brian, why are you doing this NOW? You've hardly had a real drink since you got here."
And I remember how he took my drink away at Woody's last Thursday night in front of everyone. Can I even describe in any coherent way how pleased I was then? Or how I felt while he was fucking me back in the loft? But now....
"Maybe it's time to get myself back in the correct frame of mind -- for when I make my return engagement to La La Land."
The look on his face tells me that I've just fucked up even more. Another mistake. Oh, I'm doing so well now. Especially as the hours dwindle down... I'm really doing so well with this....
"That's all you can say? You weren't really hurting me in there -- so you have to think of a way to do it out here?" He picks the bottle of Jim Beam off the table and shoves it at me. "Here -- have a party all by yourself. Why do you even need me around, then?"
I can't take the bottle in my hand, even though I want to -- badly. I need that drink. I need to drink that whole fucking bottle. But that would really be admitting some kind of horrible defeat.
I can't help but think that I'm making a huge mistake every day I'm here. Every day I let Justin think I can stay here, will stay here. Will give him what he wants. What he needs. What I'm not capable of giving. Or am afraid to give. That he doesn't know it's too late for me. I'm too old to change. To grow up.
He still seems to believe it. He looks at me with confidence. A confidence I certainly don't feel in myself. Everyone this past week and a half has looked at me differently. Admiringly. Like I'm a success story of some kind. People I don't know or know only slightly stop me on the street or at Woody's or wherever -- and NOT to try to pick me up. No -- to congratulate me. Or just shake my hand. Saying that they are looking forward to... they are delighted at... and all that shit. What the fuck?
It was like that all day at the Memorial Day picnic at Lindsay and Melanie's. I was a fucking celebrity all of a sudden. It felt -- wrong. I felt like a fake. And then I saw Lindsay, looking so happy and proud, and Justin, looking like he was going to pop, he couldn't stop smiling. Is it really because of me? The party raised a shitload of cash for the Art Project and everyone was giving ME the credit. When I did nothing. Lindsay and Mel and their committee did all the work. So, what did I do? I stood there and sucked up the undeserved praise. Is it any wonder all the people in Hollywood have no sense of reality?
The whole group looked at me like that at Papagano's, too. It takes so little to impress people. To make them happy. So why the fuck is it so hard for me to do it?
The money is fucking meaningless to me. It always has been. Every cent I've ever had, I've spent. Ron is always bitching about that. Savings. Investments. I can't be bothered. If I have it, I give it away. Even when I literally had nothing, money was never my motivation. So, am I trying to buy people's 'love'? Is that it? And if I bought it, what the hell would I do with it?
The dinner, the gifts, the 'lovefest' atmosphere -- what did it truly mean? Everyone was having a great time -- I think. And I sat there, feeling like a fucking failure because my goddamn mother wouldn't even make an appearance. Wouldn't even return my calls. Nothing. And THAT is what I felt I was worth. Everything else seemed to count for nil. Why does it always have to be like that?
And then Tim Reilly cornered me at the picnic. To say I didn't feel like talking to him at length is the understatement of the century. But he was so insistent. The last thing I needed was THAT blame hanging around my fucking neck. When Deb told me that he was HIV+ my stomach did a 180 turn. Shit! It had nothing to do with ME. Then, why did I feel so guilty?
So, I met him this afternoon at some straight bar in an old ethnic neighborhood where he lives. They know him there. Accept him, I guess, in their way. He and Vic hang out there, just like he and his dead lover -- Frank, I think he said -- did. It was full of old men watching the game on television and playing cards. I half expected my fucking old man to be sitting in the corner, beckoning me over -- "Hey, sonny boy, come and sit down here, among the doomed."
And then I saw Tim. Fuck -- he was always good-looking and he still is. No wonder Vic is ga-ga over him. It's so obvious. I even had to smile a little thinking of him. He still acts more like an altar boy than a grown man. I always felt I was about a hundred years older than he was. That was the real trouble right there.
I still feel self-conscious talking to a priest. Any priest, but especially Tim. But instead of me trying to find a way to apologize to HIM, he couldn't wait to fucking apologize to ME. Funny how every person has his own completely screwed up take on the past. Mine is full of one kind of regret and his is full of another. Same scene, different view. I hate to admit that I felt better after speaking to him, but it's the truth. Who would have guessed that one? Not me.
And then talking to Diane this morning only reminded me of what I have to face going back to L.A. And it is something I have to face. 'The consequences of our actions'! Shit! That's a never-ending one for me. Every time I turn around I bump up against another fucking 'consequence.' Tim. Justin. Ron. Mikey. Even fucking Emmett! Every time I walk down Liberty Avenue or into Babylon -- there they are -- all the 'consequences'! And most of them I can't even attach a fucking name to! How rotten is that? What kind of person was THAT? Is STILL that? How do I know?
I'm certain Ron thinks I'm back here doing what I do. Making more of those future 'consequences' to deal with down the line. How did he put it once? Right. 'Shacked up back there with just another piece of ass.' Justin -- just another piece of ass! Right, Ron. This is how much you know. How much you suspect. Fuck!
Ron and his obsessions. His 'romantic' fixations. He won't give up with that stuff. This Maui thing especially is getting out of hand. It was almost funny back in December. It was almost -- shit! -- almost endearing then. Well, if the whole thing hadn't been so ridiculous from the start. Faggots getting 'married' like a couple of dykes or heteros is just fucked up and I've always said so, That kind of hetero-invented horseshit is just asking for trouble. No one -- queer or straight -- can make commitments like that and expect to keep them forever. Or even for a fucking week! Especially ME!
But try telling THAT to someone who believes in it. Desperately. Ron, for one. And -- it terrifies me even to think it -- Justin, for another. I can see it in his eyes. That same look that says -- YOU are everything to me! My God! Who can face THAT? Who can deal with those expectations? No wonder I just want to run sometimes.
But one thing is entirely clear -- I can't run away from my little messes any more. My last attempt to run almost killed me. And ended up leaving a bigger mess than before. And that mess was ME. Have I cleaned myself up? I'm trying! I'm fucking trying here... But the thought of entangling Justin in it all scares the shit out of me. I'm such an idiot that I could so easily harm him -- damage him like I've damaged myself -- and hardly be aware of it.
And the remorse I'm still feeling over the last time he was... damaged -- I can't even focus on that. Of all the stupid things I've told my goddamn worthless analyst, I've never even mentioned the only really important thing -- the bashing. That whole cargo of guilt and what I still can't face started the downward spiral that led me to my vacation at the Spencer Pavilion. How can I add on any more possible trauma to him?
And yet -- here I am again. Indulging myself again. It's selfishness, I know. What I want. What I need. NOT what's good for HIM!
I decide that I really need that bottle after all.
I reach out to take it -- and he's there again.
"I thought you went back to bed."
"Right. Like I could go to sleep while you're sitting out here like a zombie."
"I'm NOT a zombie. I always have that expression on my face while I'm thinking."
"Well, they must be pretty scary thoughts, then." He pries the glass out of my hand and takes it over and puts it in the sink.
'All of my thoughts are scary -- they come out of me, don't they?"
Justin walks back over to the sofa and picks up the bottle. He carries it back to the bar and puts it away in the cabinet. "If this thing had a padlock on it, I'd use it. But since it doesn't, I'll just have to trust you."
"Oh, that's always worked. Trusting ME!"
He pulls me up off the sofa. "Yes. It has. I trusted you that first night. I trust you right now. And since I'm not a complete moron, there must be something to it."
"Trusted me to... protect you. To stay with you. Not to fuck up everything. How about THAT?" I try to push him away from me, but he's like a pitbull when he hangs on to something.
"Brian -- you have to realize that nothing is perfect. Nothing is mistake-proof. If you are afraid of making a mistake, then you'd never DO anything! Never leave the loft. Never go to work. Never -- go back to Los Angeles and do what you have to do there." He swallows hard. "Never even try to be with ME, in the past, the present, or the future. Because you fuck up! I fuck up! EVERYBODY fucks up, Brian! Everybody! But you deal with it. Or you do nothing. You can't live, can't love...."
"Maybe that's why... I can't...."
"I don't believe it! I've never believed it. And I don't think you do, either."
"I don't know...."
"If that were really true, then you couldn't feel the way you do about Gus. Or Lindsay. Or Michael. Maybe even... Ron...."
" And you wouldn't CARE that your mom never came to the dinner -- don't look away!" He touches my face. "You just wouldn't give a shit! But I know how you felt! I ALWAYS know how you feel -- sometimes before you know yourself."
"That's a neat trick. Like ESP? Mind-reading?"
"No, nothing to do with the mind at all. With the heart."
Fuck! That romantic shit again....
"It's my Bri-dar. I guess it's like gay-dar, but not quite as instinctive. You have to learn it. Explore it. Emerse yourself in it. Like a different language. Until you begin to dream in it. And then you always know. It becomes part of you."
"Is THIS the kind of thing you've been studying at PIFA? I'm going to have to re-think my subsidizing of your education."
"No, this is my personal project. Has been for almost two years. I work on it every day without fail. It's a subject I never get tired of."
"Too bad for YOU."
"Luckily for YOU!"
By the time I'm really aware of what he's up to, I'm already back in the bed. He's slick -- almost as slick as me sometimes. He gets in next to me and makes sure I don't try to get up and get away again. In other words, he takes a good hold of my cock.
I suddenly feel exhausted. The days since I came back to Pittsburgh have been like a fucking roller coaster -- up, down, up, down, and swerve around the bend, only to come to a screeching halt. I feel like I've left most of myself in little pieces all over town and I'm not certain what I have remaining to take back with me.
Not certain what I have remaining right here. Well -- except for one thing that I've gotten back here. He keeps that firm hold on my dick, which has risen to the occasion without any reluctance. There's no uncertainty there that HE can see. Only my own bad memories....
"You realize how much better you look and act since you've been home -- don't you?"
"Yes. Just look in mirror."
I cringe at that. "I'm fucking afraid to!"
Justin laughs. "That's one for the books -- Brian Kinney afraid to look at himself in the mirror!"
"I'm not a total narcissist, you know!"
"You're not? You've done a pretty good impression of one up until now."
"It's all bravado."
"Well," he says. "Really look at yourself, then. You'll see."
"And how do I look?"
"Great. You always look great."
"I ought to have you record that so they can replay it for me someday when I'm in the Home, drooling and incoherent."
"I thought that was where you were before you came back here?"
I can't smile at that one. "Not funny."
He looks at me, stricken. "I'm sorry! I... I didn't mean that! Really... I... oh, fuck!"
"Hey!" I pull him around to me. "No such thing as 'mistake-proof'? Remember?"
"Okay. ONE exception...."
"Oh, already making 'exceptions' to your own 'Rules'?"
"No, this pre-dates any 'Rules.' This pre-dates everything else. This is the one thing that was NEVER a mistake. IS never a mistake. I've said it before and I'll repeat it, always. THIS is never a mistake -- no matter what you might say or what you might do. THIS is the one thing that really IS mistake-proof."
He holds my cock like it's a part of his own body. He knows it better than I know it myself. I've never tasted it -- directly, at least. Kissed it. Had it deep inside of me. I can't know everything it can do. Everything it can feel....
"You wouldn't have said that if you really had seen me in the hospital. I couldn't have gotten it up if they'd put 1000 volts straight into my cock."
"Ouch," he winces. Then he gets right in my face. "And that was for 'food-poisoning'? Food poisoning? You think I really EVER believed that story, Brian? My Bri-dar says it was... something else. I know you don't want to talk about it. You never want to talk about anything! But I want you to know that you don't need to talk -- I already know. I don't know the details -- the details don't matter -- but I know what I have to know. See? Mistake-proof, again."
"Justin -- you have to know... that if I can hurt myself, then I can hurt YOU, too...."
He puts his hand right over my mouth. "You never know when to shut up and just fuck, do you? You gab more than a lesbian during sex!"
I peel his hand off of me. "You fucking take that back! It's one thing to try to psychoanalyze me -- it's another thing to insult me. I ought to spank you silly."
"Among other things? I think we were in the middle of a couple of them when you abruptly decided to take a little hike around the loft."
"Sudden loss of nerve."
"Loss of nerve? That's another first. Who is this Brian I'm seeing tonight? I think I like his shy and hesitant ways."
"Oh? Here's shy." I toss the duvet off and spring on top of him, pinning his arms down on either side. I nudge his legs apart. He doesn't need much encouragement to expose himself as completely as he can.
"So, I'm not shy, either?"
"I never thought you were. What about hesitant?"
"Not if you are planning to pound the shit out of me -- I don't have any hesitation in going for that!"
"I'm not sure what I'm planning. Maybe I should consult my Filofax? It's over in my bag...."
"Don't you go ANYWHERE again!" And he wraps his legs around me, tightly. Like I said -- a fucking pitbull! "Still think this is a mistake? Still think this isn't something that was meant to be?"
"No more fucking analysis! That's when I begin to get a headache! And my head is only just beginning to get clear from all the previous analysis!"
I reach over and pick out a condom from the usual place. The lube. The entire ritual. But I draw it all out. Press that 'hesitation' just a bit, until he's squirming. Pull back again. Act like I'm going in -- and then move somewhere else. His lips. His shoulder. His wrist. His left nipple....
"WHAT are you waiting for?"
"Oh, that's my shy and hesitant way. I thought you liked it so much?"
"Just fucking KILL me NOW and get it over with! That would be better than this torture..."
And before he can finish the word, I slam my way home so hard that his eyes roll around in his head like a baby-doll's.
"Is THAT the way you want the shit fucked out of you? Huh?" I pull out all the way and then thrust again, harder this time.
"Oh, okay then. This seems a method that is guaranteed mistake-proof."
"Will you shut UP and concentrate on fucking me?"
"Whatever you want, Justin. Whatever you want."
And now I'm the one who can't breathe. This is a better way to drown myself anyway. It's mistake-proof.
Continue on to "Confessions -- Part 1".
©Gaedhal, July 2002
Picture of Gale Harold and Randy Harrison from Showtime.
Send Gaedhal any comments, critiques, suggestions.
Updated July 2, 2002