This is Part 2 of Chapter 92 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "What's the Story, Morning Glory? -- Part 1", the previous section.
The narrator is Brian Kinney, featuring Justin Taylor, Lindsay Peterson, Melanie Marcus, Gus, Earl, Others.
Summary: Brian and Justin take Gus into town. August 2002.
Lindsay cooks a gigantic breakfast. I think she is using all the supplies we brought from Pittsburgh for this morning's meal. And that will give her a good excuse to go shopping again. That woman fucking loves to shop! But first the Mommies are spending the morning with Gus at the public beach.
Of course, Lindsay gets Justin and I to load up their all their supplies in their car. Gus' beach toys alone -- his pails and shovels, dump trucks, and his life-ring shaped to look like a duck -- fill a couple of big carry-alls. Then there are Lindsay and Melanie's towels, robes, wipes, snacks, extra bathing suits, extra sandals, Lindsay's camera, three kinds of sunscreen, sunglasses -- I can't keep track of it all. I didn't bring this much shit to the White Party down in Miami a couple of years ago -- and I was there for three days! They are planning to stay at the beach about three hours.
Once the girls finally take off, Justin and I have the cottage to ourselves. But the shower stall is minuscule and the water lukewarm. Even if the two of us can cram ourselves in it, there's no room to turn around, let alone do anything more interesting. I get in and turn on the water, while Justin tries to squeeze himself in behind me. It's a no-go.
"This is impossible!" I say, getting out. "You finish up and I'll just rinse myself off." Now I'm dripping all over the kitchen floor. For some unknown reason the shower is located in the kitchen and NOT in the bathroom. Instead, the so-called bathroom holds the toilet, the sink and mirror -- and the washer and dryer! "Whoever planned this cottage was fucked up!" I yell to Justin. I decide to rinse my hair off in the bathroom sink and get it over with.
"Lindsay said that her grandfather built it himself," says Justin, getting out and grabbing one of the extra beach towels. This one is 'The Lion King.' Gus must have a towel, bedspread, or set of curtains for every Disney film known to mankind.
"Well, he didn't know what the fuck he was doing!" I counter. "You can't get to the kitchen or the bathroom from the living room without walking right through the bedroom! It's a good thing we aren't staying here. We'd be walking in on the munchers every time we had to take a piss. Can you imagine trying to erase THAT image from your mind?"
"I would just close my eyes and feel around for the door," says Justin, who has a cavorting Pumbaa the Warthog and Timon the Meerkat wrapped around his middle. It seems apt, actually. The queerest pair of animals on the African savannah. Hakuna Matata, indeed.
"Just your luck, you'd trip over the end of the bed and fall in there with them!"
"Are you going to shave, Brian?" he says, coming into the bathroom, where I'm drying my hair. "You didn't bring your razor. "
"Nope, I think I'll pass today. I want to see how long I can go without doing it. Give myself that pirate look. What do you think?" I have two day's worth of stubble now. I check myself out in the mirror.
"It looks great. You always look great, Brian."
I snort. "I should know better than to ask YOU!"
Justin wanders into the living room area and looks around. The place is decorated in Early Junkyard. A couple of homemade driftwood lamps, some watercolors of local landscapes with popsicle-stick frames, and an ashtray that looks like one Lindsay might have made in Second Grade.
"What do you think of this decor?" I ask him.
"Huh?" Justin turns around. "Oh, the decor. I wasn't paying attention to that. I was wondering if this sofa really does fold out?"
"Lindsay said it did." I pull off the cushions and tug at the couch. It creaks and protests, but it does unfold. "Eureka!" It's basically a bare mattress. I toss the cushions back on, but it still looks like something from a prison.
"A little primitive, isn't it?" says Justin.
"So is the air mattress until you put the sleeping bag on it," I point out.
"But Mel and Lindz don't have any sleeping bags. They have a real bed, though."
I consider it, but immediately realize that Mel will intuit any hanky panky going on in her territory. I look at Justin and his towel and get an idea. Lindsay's stash in the kitchen includes a couple more beach towels and an old blanket. The blanket is a bit musty, but it's clean. I drag it into the living room and throw it on the fold-out.
"Well? What do you think?"
Justin answers by rolling onto the middle of the couch. His 'Lion King' towel is coming undone. I shake out my own towel and stretch out next to him.
"You think the girls will be back soon?"
"Justin, they took off with enough shit to get them across Death Valley. I'd think they should be gone a little longer than forty-five minutes."
"Okay then!" he says -- and climbs on top of me. His skin is still moist from the shower.
"Do you think this is a good idea?" Listen to me -- the voice of reason!
"Brian, I fell asleep last night on the deck! The bunk in the boat is too cramped! The shower in here is too small! If you don't fuck me NOW right HERE, I'm going to run outside to the grass next to the main road and have you do it THERE!"
"Jesus, I've created a monster!"
"Tell me something I don't know, Dr. Frankenstein." And he rubs his hardening cock against mine.
"What if I don't have... anything?"
Justin tosses his head. He climbs off the couch and returns a minute later with his khaki pants. Out of the pocket he pulls a condom and a small tube of lube.
"Fuck! I really HAVE created a monster!"
"Always prepared and always careful, isn't that your mantra, Brian?" he replies, popping the tube open and expertly applying the lube in a business-like manner. Then he lowers himself on my cock without further ado.
"Christ! What happened to all that romance I thought you were looking for?"
"Romance is all well and good, Brian, but I'd like to get some sightseeing in before the morning's over. So, right now I'd like you to fuck the shit out of me. If you don't mind?"
"I don't mind at all," I say. But Justin is really doing all the work. And I let him. He's bouncing up and down, pulling on his nipples and grunting. It amazes me how he throws himself into fucking with every part of himself. Never that disconnect that I always used to feel when I was tricking. Never that sensation of watching someone else performing in a bad play. His attention is all there, all right in the moment. And all on me. I know because he opens his eyes to stare right into mine -- and I know he's expecting me to be there -- in every way -- every time. That makes me come like a fucking rocket. With a jolt that rattles the old fold-out, but rattles me more. His dick shoots all over me, too, and he loses balance, falling forward on top of me, chanting, "I love you, I love you, I love you" until it's muffled against my chest.
"Fuck," I whisper. "But I love you, too."
And why is that so terrifying? And so real?
After we get dressed, Justin and I take the Jeep and hit all the 'hot spots' on the island. Justin spends most of the time at these places snapping pictures. The winery. The caves. The Perry Memorial. It isn't like sightseeing in England -- there's nothing really huge or impressive, it's just small things. Little moments. But when I think of being in England, it's those little moments that I end up bringing to mind again and again. Just the two of us, driving around the countryside. Stopping in small pubs. Climbing up that fucking mountain in the Lake District. Holding hands on Portobello Road. Riding to the river and having that picnic on the bank.
Justin and I spend a long time at the Perry monument -- me reading the historical stuff and Justin taking photos. And he was right -- the view from the top is sweeping, especially on such a clear, sunny day.
"I think I can see Lindsay and Mel on the beach down there!" he says, excitedly.
He points to two little dots by the water, far below.
"Yup, that's definitely them," I deadpan. "I recognize their ant-like qualities."
"Stop!" Justin hits me in the shoulder.
"You want to go down there and see what they're up to?"
"Sure. Did you bring your bathing suit?"
"No, but we can go to the beach ourselves tomorrow -- or do whatever you want to do."
We drive the Jeep over and park. The girls are under some shade and Gus is covered with sand, out cold, next to them. "What did you do, Lindz? Give this kid a sleeping pill?"
Melanie rolls her eyes. "He JUST zonked out. Gus has been running up and down the beach for the past two hours, non-stop. It wears me out just watching him."
"And he found a friend," says Lindsay. She points to a woman with two small children a few yards away. "Alyssa. They have been playing together all morning. Filling the pail with sand and then dumping the sand out again. It's a fascinating process."
"Alyssa, huh?" I look over at the little blonde tramp, playing with a piece of driftwood. "Gus couldn't be showing straight tendencies already? Or could he?"
"Most studies have shown that sexual orientation is firmly in place by the time a child is five years old. But it can be even earlier," says Justin. He's full of all sorts of such bits of information.
"I think they are very cute together. Gus was a little gentleman," Lindsay says, proudly.
"Wonderful. He'll either be chasing broads all over town like my old man -- or else he'll be the biggest fag hag queen in town!"
Justin starts to sit down on the beach, but I stop him. I don't want wet sand all over the inside of the Jeep.
"Listen, Brian," says Lindz. "Mel and I wondered if you could take Gus for a couple of hours. So we could have a little time... to ourselves?"
"You mean you want to go back to the Enchanted Cottage and fuck? Why don't you just say so? Sure, we'll take Gus. Just clean him off first -- and make sure he's been changed!"
After the girls hand over my son and go back to the cottage to do their thing, Justin and I head for town. There's a merry-go-round right near the square that's perfect for Gus. We find the carousel immediately and Gus goes nuts riding on every animal. I go around with him the first few times, then Justin takes over for a couple more rounds. Finally, when both of us have had enough of the circus music blasting and I'm feeling dizzy watching the thing rotate, we try to drag Gus off. But he won't budge until we go around one more time, all of us together. He's the prince of excess, that kid. I wonder where he gets it from?
We walk up and down the main drag, which is mostly bars and souvenir shops, pushing Gus in his stroller. A couple of women stop and coo over Gus. Gus preens like a little rooster, giggling at the women coyly. He's already got the fatal Kinney charm. It's fucking unmistakable!
Justin gets an ice cream cone and he and Gus take turns licking it. Of course, Gus gets drippy ice cream all over himself.
"Let's go in here, Brian," Justin stops and points. "I almost got a tee shirt here the other day. Maybe they have a cute one for Gus. Then I can take this dirty one off and wash it later." Justin bounds right into the shop and I'm left struggling with the fucking stroller. Finally, I manage to unhook the squirming kid from the contraption and carry him inside. The place is kind of a head shop/tee shirt emporium.
"Here. It's Mommy's turn to hold Baby," I joke, dumping Gus into Justin's arms.
"Ugh! God, he's getting heavy, Brian."
"I know. You wouldn't need to go to the gym if you had to lift him all day. No wonder Lindsay has such a strong grip!"
Then I look around a little. I see a couple of decent sweatshirts -- I can't keep wearing that one of Justin's because it's too short and I look ridiculous with the bottom part of my stomach exposed. I also have to laugh at the collection of 'incense burners' that look suspiciously like the bongs we used to smuggle into the dorms at Penn. Some things never fucking change!
"Brian! Look!" Justin calls me over. "This necklace -- it's just like your bracelet!" And it does look a lot like it -- the cowrie shells strung together on black braided cord. "Buy me this! Pleeease?"
"It's only eight dollars," says the slawjawed salesgirl. She looks like she can hardly wait for her summer job to come to a merciful end.
"Jesus, you blondes all think you're Marilyn Monroe! Haven't I bought you enough jewelry?" I run a finger across his bracelet. "You'll be wanting diamonds next!"
"Yes!" he cries, bouncing Gus in his arms. "Diamonds are a boy's best friend! Right Gus?" Gus just dribbles some ice creamy saliva down his chin.
"I'll think about it." And I go back to look at the sweatshirts. Justin keeps touching the row of shell necklaces. I know I'll get it for him -- but when I'm ready to.
Meanwhile, the salesgirl is eyeing us. I fucking know that look. I don't see anyone buying HER any jewelry, so she should just step back, I think.
"You the babysitter?" the girl asks, looking Justin and Gus up and down. The sneer on her face is liable to be permanent if she's not careful.
"Why would you think that?" says Justin, frowning. Justin has a lot of protective issues going on with Gus. It's one reason why I've trusted him with my son, right from the beginning. And he has other issues. I can't quite put my finger on them, but they are there. He and Gus seem to have some other connection that goes beyond Justin thinking Gus is a cute baby. I watch the way he looks at Gus sometimes. The same way I look at Gus. It's weird.
"Because HE'S obviously the father," I hear her say. "So what are you, anyway?"
"What am I?" Justin bristles, suddenly. He bounces Gus higher in his arms, getting a better hold on him. "Why do you think Gus couldn't be mine? Huh? Why not?"
"Oh, please." She rolls her eyes. "You're no one's father."
"What does THAT mean? What are you implying? What's wrong with ME, anyway?"
And that's when I walk over there. "That's enough of that shit. We'll take that necklace now. And put it in a box. A nice box."
"No, Brian! I want to know what HER problem is? Why can't Gus be mine, too? Aren't we a family, too? Why can't we be? What's so wrong with that?" His face is getting red and he's clutching Gus so hard that the kid starts to whine.
"I'll get the box." The girl turns, grimacing.
"Justin," I say. "Please put Gus back in the stroller. Right now."
But he backs away from me. "I don't see what's wrong with ME, Brian? What's wrong with US? Why can't Gus be mine, too? Mine and YOURS? Why the fuck not?"
"Justin, I don't think this is the place to talk about this." Shit -- what IS the place for THIS conversation? I don't even know what it's all about, really. Except -- it's about Justin. And me. Something about us together. Being some kind of family. It's about everything.
He takes Gus outside and I pay the girl for the necklace. I look right at her. "You know you're a fucking bitch, don't you?"
But she just shrugs at me, uncaring. "Yeah, so?"
"And I think I want this wrapped. In nice paper. Now." And I stand and watch her do it. Now she keeps glancing at me, nervously. Like I'm going to slap her or something. But I'm not. I just want her to know what I'm thinking about her. I want her to feel like the cunt she is.
I leave the shop. Justin is sitting outside on the curb, next to the stroller. People are walking by, or driving past in golf carts -- the main method of transportation on this island. Justin stares at them, his hand holding Gus' little hand. I sit down next to them.
"That's the way it's always going to be, isn't it, Brian? I'm nothing. Always nothing. To Gus. To... you. To my own fucking family. Even strangers can see it. I'm even LESS than the fucking babysitter!"
"That's not true, Justin. You know it isn't...." But I don't know what I can say to reassure him. Without lying to him. Without lying to myself. What kind of promises does he want me to make? Ones we both know I can't keep? Ones I don't believe in? Or the ones I'm fucking afraid of?
"Let's go back to the boat."
We load Gus and the stroller into the Jeep and drive most of the way back in silence, as Gus dozes off. Justin stares straight ahead.
"Justin, I know you are frustrated sometimes. Especially with me. I know you want more from me than... I don't know. Maybe more than I can give you."
"That's not true, Brian. You've already given me -- said more to me -- than I ever had a right to expect."
"It isn't a matter of 'rights,' Justin! It's a matter of... emotions. Of feelings. And I don't do that kind of shit very well. Obviously. I may have the impulse, but getting the words out is torturous sometimes."
"I know. It's torture to say 'I love you' to me, right?"
"That's not what I mean, and you know it!" I have to pull the Jeep over to the side of the road because my head feels like it's going to explode. A golf cart goes putting by us. "I keep thinking that you want -- need -- some kind of commitment. And it isn't that I don't want the same kind of thing -- sometimes -- it's just that I don't know how to DO that! I'm fucking trying, but I don't know how yet! I'm crawling at this shit, Justin -- while you are an Olympic runner!" He smiles a little at the reference to my film. "But it's the truth."
"I don't want anything that millions of people don't want. That millions of people don't HAVE, Brian. Why can't I at least THINK about it?" He blinks a couple of times. "Maybe I'll never be a father. Maybe I'll never even have my own home. Or a real 'family.' I'll always be the outsider in someone else's drama. The fucking 'babysitter'! Lucky to be invited over to Lindsay and Mel's as an afterthought. Lucky if I'm 'allowed' to pretend that Gus is something more to me than just some baby born the night his father picked up a quick fuck."
"Justin! Quit that shit!" I reach other an grab his arm. "You KNOW that isn't true! Don't overreact just because that homophobic bitch in the store made a snarky comment."
"Sorry. I'm a drama princess, right?"
"Yeah -- And I'm a drama queen. So what else is new? And Gus is a drama princess-in-training! It fucking runs in the family!"
"Family, Brian. That's the word. For what we AREN'T."
"Shit! I'm just getting used to the idea that we're a couple! Give me a little time, for fucksake! I'm on a slow learning curve, here! The slowest. I thought that was obvious?"
Justin finally looks me in the eye. "You ARE a little slow at some things, Brian. That's true."
"Duh!" I have to rub my forehead, where I feel the tension only beginning to dissipate. "Jesus, the look on Earl's face when I said that YOU were my partner, not Lindsay! How weird was it for me to tell some straight bastard THAT? That's not something I have cards printed up for!"
"Is that what you said, Brian?"
"Well? What about it?"
"Well -- everything, I guess."
I sigh and put the Jeep into gear. "Maybe we better take Gus back to the cottage," I say. "The Mommies should be finished with their 'Afternoon Delight' by now."
Later that night, Justin and I go over to Earl's boat for 'the game.' It turns out to be a baseball game. The guys drink beer, pass the bowls of chips and dips and pretzels around, staring at Earl's large color television, which seems so out of place sitting on a fucking boat.
Justin and I drink some diet pop and eat the chips, too, and watch them watching the game. I'm in one of Earl's deck chairs, while Justin sits between my legs, leaning back against me. No one questions it. No one says a word at all. One of the guys passes Justin the bag of chips and slaps his leg playfully as he takes it. A rival player gets on base and everyone groans.
I finger the cowrie shell necklace that earlier, on the boat, I tied round Justin's neck myself. He's smiling. I can't see it, but I can feel it. Some things you don't have to see. You just know.
©Gaedhal, October 2002
Updated October 3, 2002