This is Part 4 of Chapter 104 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "Most Likely You Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine -- Part 3", the previous section.
The narrator is Ron Rosenblum, and features Brian Kinney, Jimmy Hardy, Tess Hardy, Jerry Baxter, Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Ron never knows what to expect from Brian. But he never expected this. Los Angeles, October 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.
Jimmy and Tess arrive at the house to pick me up in a studio limo. Jimmy always loves to make an entrance, even at a rock concert.
"I thought it would be easier to use the driver," he says, getting out of the car. "If you got the perks, why not use them, huh, Ron?"
Then he stops short when he sees Brian walking out of the house behind me. I can see Jimmy's whole face change. He looks at Brian and narrows his eyes, nodding his head as if trying to make contact with him. But Brian just looks away.
Fuck you, Jimmy! He's back with ME now!
Brian and I get in the car. Tess is very cheerful. She greets Brian like an old friend, hugging him warmly and giving him the 'Hollywood Peck' on both cheeks. She seems delighted to see Brian with me. And I know why. Because she thinks that if he's with me, then he's less likely to be fooling around with Jimmy. So she thinks. But I'm well aware that who Brian is 'with' is meaningless in the grand scheme of things. He's a fucking law unto himself and always will be. That's what makes him so exciting!
But nothing can get me down from this high. Not Jimmy, not Tess. I don't let either of their moods affect me. Because I can't stop grinning. Not after the most incredible fuck of my life -- courtesy of Brian.
Dinner at Mr. Chow's is great. Not the food so much, but just the whole thing. Jimmy works the room like a politician, which he is, in a way -- he's collecting Oscar votes and he knows exactly how to do it.
But what really amazes me is the reaction Brian is getting. Producers and directors come up to him, pitching their new projects. A couple of respected actors stop by to tell him that they've seen preview reels with scenes from both 'Hammersmith' and 'The Olympian' and that they were impressed by what they saw. A bosomy starlet comes over and gushes on Brian, flirting outrageously. She seems to think that a pair of over-inflated waterwings are the key to getting him into her bed. Sister, are YOU ever barking up the wrong tree!
Howie said that Jimmy is 'throwing' attention onto Brian, but seeing the look on Jimmy's face, I can tell that to let someone else get any attention at all is against every fiber of his egotistical being. But he's being a trooper about it, at least tonight. Jimmy is uncomfortable sharing the spotlight with anyone -- not his own wife, and not his... whatever Brian is. But Jimmy always puts on the best face for things like this. He likes people to believe that 'The Most Powerful Actor in Hollywood' is also 'The Nicest Guy in Town'! And sometimes he really is.
But even Tess is getting schmoozed tonight! People are asking about her becoming a producer and about this Cara Restifo and whether Cara will be starring in the film herself -- Tess says definitely yes -- and whether Tess will be making an appearance -- Tess says probably not. And even I get the wave from a couple of the studio big shots. We have so many bottles of champagne sent to our table that Jimmy has the extras carried out to the car.
I'm just having Evian. I'm not about to get smashed tonight. And I notice that Brian follows suit. This afternoon, when I thought he was downing a large Absolut by the pool, it turned out that he was just drinking mineral water. So he's serious about saying sober. This must be part of his 'new leaf' -- a real attempt to make things work. And I'm not about to fuck it up on my end.
Even Jerry Baxter, just walking through the restaurant after leaving the bar, can't put me into a funk. "Been reading your press clippings, Ronnie?" says Jerry. "Or should I say your 'blind items'?" He's really a nasty son of a bitch.
"You shouldn't listen to idle gossip, Jerry. People can be so vicious when they're jealous of other people's success. They make up such nasty little stories."
"Ha!" snorts Jerry. "And here you guys are, out and about, parading for everyone and their mother to see. Why don't you and 'Pretty Boy' just wear signs, Ron?"
"Why, Jerry?" I reply. "We're not hiding anything." And I MEAN that! I'm not hiding a fucking thing! Everyone in Hollywood knows about me and Brian -- as Howie pointed out so clearly when he drove me home. It's just 'The Public' that doesn't know. Because they wouldn't understand. Because they need to keep their illusions that their screen idols are straight. It's the way of the world, that's all.
"You think you know that guy," says Jerry, under his breath. "You don't know shit, Ron!"
"Maybe YOU should read some of the columns, too, Jerry," I say, coolly. "What about that mention of a certain agent whose long-suffering girlfriend is about to dump him now that she's got a lead role in a new television series?" I love watching Jerry's face go bright red.
Brian guffaws, almost spitting out a mouthful of Evian. I don't care for Diane, but I hate Jerry Baxter even more. He deserves to get screwed by her a thousand times over.
"Come on you guys, let's play nice!" says Jimmy. "Would you like to join us, Jer?"
Jerry pauses. Everyone at the table hates him -- but he almost can't resist the invitation. He'd love to sit here with us, basking in the aura of our success. But then he shrinks. You can see that he's lost his nerve. "No, thanks, Jimmy. I gotta get... home." And he means it. He's not too welcome at his mistress' place anymore. And his wife is turning the screws on him. Making him stick close to home. I almost feel sorry for him. Almost.
Jimmy eats a huge meal and I eat more than I have in days -- my appetite is back with a vengeance. Tess, like every woman in California, is dieting. And Brian -- he picks at his dinner. But that's usual. He always plays with his food more than he eats it. Not like... when he was a kid. He could devour everything on the entire table then. Like he was fucking starving. But he WAS starving then. I always have to remember that. When he does certain things -- hurtful things -- I have to remind myself of that fact. That's he's been through things other people can't even imagine and it's made him act in odd ways sometimes. But I know that can change. I can change all that! I can help him heal. I know I can. I just need the time to do it.
On the way out of the restaurant there are some photographers waiting. Usually that's where I duck out, especially if I'm with Brian. But not tonight. I think about the bitterness in his voice the other day down at the boat when he said, "You want to hold hands on the Red Carpet, Ron?" About how he called me a hypocrite -- and he was right. The whole idea fucking terrified me. ME, who has been out in this town since the first day I got here!
So, this time I don't shrink back. I walk right along, next to Brian. NOT holding hands, of course. I'm not a fool. But also not pretending that I don't know him.
Jimmy trades quips with the paparazzi. They love him and he eats up the attention. Tess looks elegant, and she nods and poses. And Brian -- he looks like a million fucking dollars, especially in that emerald green shirt! He towers over Jimmy and Tess in those black boots that add another two or three inches to his height. They are taking pictures like mad as we walk to the car.
"Will we see you all at the premiere?" One of the photographers calls.
"You bet!" says Jimmy. "You better be there!"
"Brian! Brian!" yells another, adjusting his flash. "Who are you taking to the premiere? Diane Rhys? Or Hailey Richmond?" he says, mentioning another B-grade starlet that a couple of the columns have 'paired' with Brian.
Brian stops at that comment and looks at me. A couple of the paparazzi snicker. "You must be kidding!" says a male voice somewhere in the crowd. And then there's open laughter. Derisive laughter. These photographers know the score in Hollywood. They see everything and hear everything. They are at every event and outside every restaurant. They even lurk in the bushes around the houses of the stars when there's a scandal brewing. They know who is cheating and who is being cheated on. Who is getting cast and who is getting fired. And who is queer. They know. And they think it's funny to bait us. Funny to take pictures of male couples that they can never publish. Because the studios won't let them.
Brian opens his mouth and I'm afraid that he's going to go off on these guys. The kind of blow up I know he's capable of, but hasn't done in public -- yet. But instead he says, "What are YOU doing that night?"
More laughter. "I'll be there! Taking pictures!" the same voice calls out.
"Send me your number! I need a date!" Brian says, laughing. Jimmy smiles, patting Brian on the back. I guess Brian HAS learned something from Jimmy. Deflecting the shitty comments. Making everything into a joke. That deflates the assholes. And Brian did it. Just like a real pro. He IS a real pro.
The Dylan concert is fabulous -- and I fucking HATE that word.
But it fits. It IS fabulous. Dylan is everything you want him to be -- scruffy and irascible and growling out the songs like a demented old troubadour. He even fucking plays the piano! And he sings all the classics -- 'Knockin' on Heaven's Door,' and 'It Ain't Me, Babe,' and 'It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding),' and 'I Shall Be Released.' And 'Forever Young.' And he even does some covers! He does 'Brown Sugar' in a way Mick Jagger never thought of, certainly. It's bizarre. But fabulous. I keep saying that, I know.
He plays 'Things Have Changed' and I get a fucking chill. Like there is some new meaning to this song. To everything.
"A worried man with a worried mind,
No one in front of me and nothing behind.
There's a woman on my lap and she's drinking champagne.
Got white skin, got assassin's eyes,
I'm looking up into sapphire skies.
I'm well dressed, waiting on the last train.
Standing on the gallows with my head in a noose,
Any minute now I'm expecting all hell to break loose.
People are crazy and times are strange,
I'm locked in tight, I'm out of range,
I used to care, but things have changed...
I hurt easy, I just don't show it.
You can hurt someone and not even know it.
The next sixty seconds could be like an eternity.
Gonna get low down, gonna fly high,
All the truth in the world adds up to one big lie...
People are crazy and times are strange,
I'm locked in tight, I'm out of range,
I used to care, but things have changed...."
Brian goes out during a lull in the show -- to HIM, for me there aren't any lulls in a Dylan concert -- and comes back with a tee shirt. An 'Official Bob Dylan Concert Shirt.'
"You can't mean it, Brian!"
"Put it on, Ron. Why do you think I bought it?"
So, I put it on over my Paul Smith button down. Now I feel like I'm back in high school.
"Whoo-hoo!" says Jimmy. "You know I still have a Grateful Dead tee shirt I bought from a hippie at a concert in 1977! Maybe you'd like to wear that next time, Ron?"
"Why don't YOU, Jim?"
"Boys! Why don't I buy matching tee shirts for all of you?" says Tess. "Then you can have a club!"
"Gee, Mom!" cries Jimmy. "Can we build a clubhouse in the backyard and put up a sign that says 'No Girls Allowed'?"
Tess frowns. "I think you already have," she says.
The concert lasts well over two hours, but I wouldn't have minded if it went longer. Much longer. But I can tell that Brian is getting antsy towards the end. There's only so much Bob Dylan he can take. But then I couldn't sit through Lou Reed or the Smiths for even one hour, so I have to be understanding.
Jimmy signs a bunch of autographs on the way out and even Brian signs a few. We also see some L.A. music scene celebrities, but they all make way for Jimmy and Brian. A movie star and a future movie star trump ex-members of the Eagles any day, let's face it.
"Wanna go for a drink? What about that new place on Melrose?" says Jimmy in the limo. He's still buzzing and doesn't want the evening to end. "Bri?"
"I'm tired. It's... been a long day," he says.
And that's that. I can see that Jimmy is disappointed. He wants to milk the high he's riding. And spend more time with Brian, of course. And I can tell that he's upset that Brian and I are going home together. Well, fuck you again, Jimmy! They drop us off at the house.
It's late and Carmel and Maria have their door closed. But I can hear the television turned on to their favorite Spanish cable channel. They are in there with the dog, watching 'Cristina,' or some Mexican soap opera. And pouting. At least Carmel is pouting. I know that she doesn't approve of Brian playing musical living arrangements, but I fucking don't CARE what anyone thinks! Not Carmel. Not Jimmy. Not Howie Sheldon. I don't have to answer to anyone!
Brian goes out to the bar next to the pool and pours himself a glass of Jim Beam. A double. This is the first drink he's had all evening and he downs it whole. Then he leans down and pulls off his boots, nudging them aside with his foot. He always takes off his shoes the minute he's at home.
I walk over to where he's leaning on the bar. "Hey, what about one for me...." I start to say. And then he's all over me. Pushing me back against the edge of the counter. Pulling at the front of my pants, reaching in to grab my cock....
He stops for a moment and I pull back.
"Let's go upstairs," I say. I keep thinking of nosy Carmel walking out here -- or watching from the kitchen.
"Okay," he breathes. He slips off his leather jacket and tosses it on the bar. Then he unbuttons his emerald green silk shirt and lays it next to the jacket. Then he drops his black jeans onto the ground and kicks them out of the way. I can only say that Brian naked is a force of nature, on screen -- or standing in front of you. I can feel the heat of his body from three feet away.
Brian pours another finger of Jim Beam into the glass and bolts it down. Then he walks towards me. I'm not sure why, but I'm suddenly afraid. I start to back up, tripping over one of the chaises by the pool.
"Be careful, Ron. You don't want to fall down," Brian says. "Not here. Not yet." Then he grabs the front of my tee shirt and pulls me upright. Pulls me close to him. Up into his face. His eyes are glowing, like a cat's.
"Let's make this special, Ron," he interrupts.
"What... what do you mean?"
He hesitates for a moment, then whispers, "I want to see the video. I know you have it. I know you watch it. I know you... jack off to it. You showed it to... Justin. Now I want to see it, too. With you."
Brian yanks me a little closer. I can smell the Jim Beam on his lips. "You know."
"You mean... of you... and... Justin?"
His face is dark. "No! I don't give a fuck about THAT!" Then he softens. "The one WE made, Ron. You know what I'm talking about. The film WE made... back in New York."
"You said that I could see it... someday. I want to. Now." His voice is velvety, insinuating. "I want to watch it -- and then fuck until we can't stand up. Right, Ron? You'd like that, wouldn't you? I can tell you would."
"Get it. I'll be waiting."
And he walks naked up the stairs. So casually. So unselfconsciously. So purposefully. I practically run into the office and unlock the little safe behind the bookshelf. I'm the only one who knows the combination. I take out the video cassette copy of the 'Jack' footage. The original reels are safely in storage. But Brian is right -- he knows me too well. I always have this video nearby. To watch. To jerk off to. To think about. To remember the way it was back then.
I take it upstairs.
It's still dark when I turn over and feel Brian getting out of bed. He goes into the bathroom and he's in there a long while. Then he comes out and I hear him turn off the VCR and click off the television set.
He stops and comes over to the bed, leaning down. "I've got to go. I have an early appointment... and I don't have my clothes here," he whispers.
"Are you going to bring your stuff back today?" I yawn. "I mean... just ignore Carmel if she says anything. If you want... we can get rid of her and Maria. There are plenty of people we could hire who could do their job just as well. People without her fucking attitude."
I can hear him breathing in the dark, very nearby. "I'll... see you later... today," he says, finally.
"I... I'm sorry."
"What?" I say, confused. I'm too groggy to focus.
"Nothing," he says. "It doesn't matter. Not anymore."
And then he's gone.
Continue on to Page Two, the conclusion of this chapter.
©Gaedhal, January 2003.
Send Gaedhal any comments, critiques, suggestions. I welcome all of your feedback on this chapter.
Updated January 17, 2003.