This is Part 2 of Chapter 55 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "Moviola -- Part 1", the previous section.
It's our last night in Los Angeles. Brian and Lindsay get dressed up and go out to another very fancy restaurant. All the movie stars and important people in Hollywood go there, apparently. They are meeting Jimmy Hardy and his wife and some others.
Lindsay has a new dress and is wearing a necklace that Brian bought her. She looks so happy that I keep wondering what Melanie would say if she saw her -- if she saw them together. It makes me ill when I think about it. Brian and Lindsay pretending to be a 'couple' -- Or ARE they pretending? But it isn't right. And Ron watches them, smiling in front of a stone-face. Carmel and Maria are dancing around like they are going to a wedding or something. But it still isn't right.
After Brian and Lindsay leave, the ladies take Gus into their room. They watch Mexican soap operas and loud musical shows in there, Brian says. He thinks Gus's hearing, as well as his taste buds are going to be forever ruined by his week here. But Gus loves the attention the ladies give him. He's utterly spoiled.
I sit out by the pool as it starts to get dark. I think about leaving and flying back to Pittsburgh tomorrow. I feel uncomfortable in this house -- and yet I don't want to leave Brian. I still feel I need to protect him somehow. Especially when I think of that tape Ron has. I can't imagine what he's planning to do with it. I can't picture him using it to hurt Brian, but you never know about people. Especially about people who are so desperate, like Ron is. Maybe they would do something they ordinarily would never, ever do. That makes me shiver.
I wonder if there's any way I can contact Diane. At her number I only get the machine and can't remember exactly where her apartment is -- this is a big city. The only person I could ask is Ron -- and he's the last person I CAN ask. The irony isn't lost on me.
Brian had told me specifically to stay away from Ron. To be polite to him, but that's all. Don't tell him anything, don't offer any information to him -- don't betray myself. Don't betray Brian. I've already broken that rule -- I broke it yesterday when I went into Ron's office. When I listened to his rationale. When I challenged him.
That was the wrong thing to do.
And now he has me where he wants me. Because I want to see what's on that tape. I NEED to see what's on that tape. If I leave L.A. without seeing it I know I'll lie awake at night, wondering. Tossing and turning. I'll never get any peace at all.
I stand up and walk into the house. I go to Ron's office and knock on the door.
He's sitting behind the desk, working at his computer, typing things onto the screen. Working on a new script, Brian says. The project for Clint Eastwood. I'm dying to ask about that, but I'm here for other business.
Armani gets up from the rug and wags his tail at me.
"Justin. I was wondering when you'd come to me," he says. "Are you here to watch a picture?"
"Yes," I say, at almost a whisper. I bend down to pet the dog.
He gets up and goes to the cabinet and takes out the video cassette. 'Jack 1988 -- NYC.' He turns on the big screen television and the video player and slips the cassette in. Then he walks over to the office door and locks it.
"We wouldn't want to be interrupted, would we?"
I shake my head.
He also turns off all the lights except for a light on his desk, near the computer. He points it away from the television so it won't reflect off the screen. He adjusts something on the computer and closes whatever he is working on.
Then he pulls up a smaller chair right next to his big one. He gestures for me to sit and I do. The chairs are touching. He turns them slightly so we are facing the screen directly. He also moves his computer monitor a bit, so it isn't in the way.
"So, Justin -- are you certain you want to see this? You can change your mind right now and leave."
"No, I want to stay." I know that by staying I'm agreeing to something. His rules. His terms. His world. I stay anyway.
"All right then." He smiles, but it's that weird, cold smile. An unhappy kind of smile.
He uses the remote to start the video.
It isn't like a regular movie. There are no credits or introductions or anything like that. Just shots of a room. A bedroom in an apartment, with a bed, a nightstand, a dresser, a lamp. It looks a little worn and average. But one thing isn't average and that's the boy who bounces into the room. It's someone so familiar and yet so impossibly different that I feel like I'm watching some parallel universe in a science fiction story.
Because it's Brian I see, but not anything like the Brian I expected to see -- or like any Brian I see today or have ever seen. Because he's laughing and jumping on the bed. He's making funny faces and joking around, talking to whoever is behind the camera. This isn't the grim runaway I remember from 'Red Shirt' -- no, not at all. This is someone who is -- happy. That's the horrible thing. To see how happy he is. That was the one thing I never would have expected to see.
He's wearing white boxer shorts and a white tee-shirt. His hair is shaggy and unruly, but very Brian-like, sticking up in odd places. A voice off camera is giving him directions, telling him to do certain things, but he's giggling too hard. He falls on the bed and pretends to be dead. Then he jumps up and down until the voice yells at him, telling him he'll break the bed if he doesn't be careful.
The voice comes around in front of the camera and grabs him by the arm. It's Ron, of course. But he's so different. So young. Even good-looking, with his wavy black hair and piercing blue eyes. He's wearing jeans and a white tee-shirt and his body looks lean and hard next to Brian's skinny, undeveloped form, his long, scrawny legs and arms.
He catches Brian and pins him down on the bed, telling him to stop bouncing or else he'll stop filming. Tells him to listen to the directions and stop giggling. This makes him giggle even more. Then he stifles the laughter and presses his face against Ron's and kisses him. My heart does a sickening flip because I know what that feels like now and I am dying to know what it felt like then. He is clinging to the Ron on the screen and wheedling him in a small, whining voice. Whispering.
"Maybe later -- just YOU for now," Ron says.
Brian -- 'Jack' -- smiles at the camera. It's a too familiar smile. A dirty smile. He takes off his tee-shirt and falls back on the bed and plays with himself. Rubs his chest, his nipples, licks his lips. Taunts the camera. Invites the camera. Teases by running his hands down his skinny, pale torso and dipping into his white boxers, playing with his dick inside. He's laughing, always laughing.
He eases his boxers down slowly, revealing his cock little by little. He knows it's worth showing off, even then. It obviously grew up before the rest of him. Maybe that's why he was so precocious. I look at it and know it so well -- yet everything is so different, so wrong. That topsy-turvy world again.
He takes his time, playing and saying nasty, boyish things to Ron, until it gets serious and he jerks off at the camera, hard and forcefully, but laughing still, pleased with himself. "THAT was a good one!" he says after he cums with a series of twitchy spurts.
The screen goes dark for a minute or so and when it comes up he's not alone. Ron must have set the camera to run by itself and the image is static, of course -- no more close-ups. But it's close enough for me because I can see everything going on in detail.
Ron's body is pale -- almost as pale as Brian's -- but it's also an adult body. Not buff or pumped up. Not a gym body. But firm and thin, mature next to Brian's childish figure. Hairy chest and arms and legs, like a man. And his cock is thick and strong-looking. Brian can't keep his hands off of it. Can't keep his mouth off of it. They wrestle around, play, Brian rolling on top and then kissing his way down to that thick cock. Kissing and licking and trying to take it all in. Pretending he can't -- and then attacking it and taking it all at once.
I've seen a ton of porn -- usually with Brian -- but this I can't take my eyes off of. I feel like I'm seeing a version of myself in Brian. A parallel Brian that is somehow ME. I can't get away from that feeling. My own dick is pressing against my zipper like mad, desperate to get out. I start rubbing the front of my pants.
Then I look over and see that Ron has his own cock out and in his hand. It looks just like the cock on the screen -- thick and strong and darkly excited. He's stroking it slowly, never taking his eyes off the screen. I look at the screen and then at him, back and forth. I have the overwhelming urge to touch his cock -- to put my hand on it -- my mouth on it -- to mirror what Brian is doing on the video. To BECOME Brian at that moment.
I reach out and touch his hand. He takes his hand away and I grasp his cock and jack it up and down. I look at the screen. Brian is blowing him, moving rapidly, his mouth working with the same rhythm that my hand is. But I'm losing the moment. I lean over and I hear Ron draw a hard breath as I take him in my mouth and try to reflect what I see on the screen. In perfect symmetry. I AM Brian now. I can feel it. Feel what HE is feeling. Experience what he's experiencing. We are separated in time, but it's all the same thing, the same time.
Ron on screen comes at exactly the same moment at Ron does in my mouth.
We both fall back and I have this strange sensation that everything has just changed. Everything.
The video continues. I watch with my head in his lap, as he strokes my head, my hair. I watch as they fuck in various positions, vigorously and gently, loudly and quietly. It's obviously going on over a number of different days -- the light is a little different, something on the nightstand has been moved, but the fucking exists in some kind of vacuum world. The day, even the year, doesn't matter -- only what they are doing. What Ron is doing to Brian. Always.
Finally, the screen goes dark and Ron hits 'stop' with the remote.
I lift my head up from his lap. I realize that I've cum in my pants. The front is stained. Ron hands me a box of tissues and I try to clean myself up.
"Well, Justin -- what did you think of our little home movies? Tell me." He says it at almost a whisper. So soft-spoken. I feel a chill. Maybe it's just the air conditioning.
But I can't say anything at all. I had expected to see something dirty and scary. Something that would make me hate Ron and pity Brian. Something like 'Red Shirt' all made up of tragedy and angst and sordid details. I thought that would upset me, but I had to see it, like wanting to look at a terrible accident.
But what I didn't expect to see was them -- covering each other with kisses. Ron stroking Brian's -- Jack's -- shaggy hair. Their fingers intertwining. Making love. Brian calling out his name again and again, moaning, crying. That makes my heart jump, my dick jump. I can't stop thinking about it.
I also can't articulate it to Ron.
He's looking at me, silently.
Finally he reaches out and takes my face in his hand and looks at me intently. "There's more," he says. "There's always more."
He picks up the remote and fast forwards a bit.
"Now, I added these. They aren't part of the original reels -- obviously. They're my own private reels. Much more recent."
I lean forward, anticipating.
"Do you want to see these, too?"
Why does he even ask? He's got me now.
Brian comes up on the screen again. But it's Brian now. Grown. Tall. Beautiful. He's naked, walking around, petting himself, then seriously jerking at himself. It parallels the earlier scene, but he's much more businesslike, more serious. He doesn't smile at all now.
Also -- he's in the poolhouse.
"The technology is almost as interesting as the imagery. Maybe you wouldn't agree, but film and video are my media, so I get off on the ability just to make this stuff."
"Where... where is the camera?" I have a horrible, horrible realization.
"Various places. It's like those 'nanny-cams' you hear about on the talk show, but much more sophisticated. I can afford the finest. Then, I can edit the best parts using the computer. Because you can imagine there are long, long stretches where nothing is going on at all. Weeks, even. And then there will be a flurry of activity. It's quite a fascinating game."
"I bet." My hands go all clammy now.
"I have an entire reel of Brian jerking off. Usually at the computer. But sometimes looking at magazines. Or just with his eyes closed, thinking. Those are my favorites. I'm sure he has quite a store of stroke fantasies to draw upon. More than either of us can ever imagine."
He hits the fast forward on the tape. "I'm thinking of having this transferred to DVD. It will make finding my favorite parts that much easier. You know, I have a long, long section of Brian on the phone. Not talking at all. Just listening. Some very hot stuff there -- he cums with real force -- real emotion. I often wondered who was on the other end and what he was saying. Do you know anything about that, Justin?"
"I don't know." I feel sick. My stomach is churning like crazy.
"Let's forward through some of this. It's hot -- but we've already taken care of that, right? We can save some of those parts for another time." He pauses and looks, then forwards a little more. "Right about here, I think. Yes. The first one is a little dark, but it gets better after that. The problem with the lighting in there -- it's something I have to work on."
I guess I'm now not at all surprised to see myself, in the poolhouse, with Brian. Not surprised -- but still shocked. Kicked in the gut. I stare at the screen and the dark images, but I can make out every detail because I am re-living every detail.
Then it jumps to another time. It's lighter -- daylight. Morning, actually. This one is clearer and not as long, but it's still more than I want to see in front of me, on a huge screen. Or want anyone else to see. Or Brian to see.
"I made this dub especially for you, Justin. I think you'll enjoy ALL the highlights. Maybe when you get back to Pittsburgh you'll relish watching it even more. When you're by yourself. Thinking about things."
I look up at Ron, but he's watching us -- me and Brian on the screen -- impassively. I know how he must hate me, to film us like that. Or does he? Because he's been filming Brian and he doesn't hate HIM. My head begins to ache and I feel hot and dizzy. Ron reaches over and steadies me, gently.
"Be careful -- you wouldn't want to fall and hurt yourself. Maybe we should stop for a minute and continue later?"
"No," I say. "I just want to get it over with."
"Aren't you enjoying watching yourself? It's quite beautiful, I think. So different from when you know you're being filmed and can't be spontaneous. You're so unselfconscious this way. Unselfcensoring. Unafraid."
"But not anymore. Now I'll always be looking over my shoulder -- wondering who's there."
"Don't be silly."
"What are you going to do with this -- video? This tape? What are you going to do to ME with it?"
He turns to me. "What do you think I should 'do' with it? I made it to watch. I've never shown this footage to anyone else, even Brian. You should feel honored that I've chosen you to share it with."
"But -- you're going to use it -- against me. I know."
"How so? Who would care to see it?
I think. Brian, obviously. My parents.... "My mother?"
"Now, Justin, don't even think of it. I'd hate to have your mother see that tape. But the part with Brian wouldn't surprise her, I'm sure. It would probably confirm what she already thinks about him. They have their differences, don't they? Lindsay was very forthcoming about that. She's a fount of information, our Lindsay. When she has another baby by Brian, that girlfriend of hers -- what's her name?"
"Melanie. She'll really be the odd man out then. Odd woman out, I should say."
"But Lindsay and Brian are just good friends. They aren't having another baby!"
"Of course they are. They've fucked at least twice in Lindsay's room since she got here. Maybe more if they've done it outside the house. She's obviously keen to have another kid. And Brian -- if he wants to waste his money giving it to her to keep popping out babies.... I guess it feeds his ego in some way. I, personally, have never felt the need, but Brian must feel differently. And she's desperately in love with him, which means she'll do anything to keep some sort of hold on him. A baby is an excellent hold. A life-long hold. TWO babies is like insurance, I suppose."
"Are you serious? But Lindsay is a lesbian!" I croak out.
"You have a lot to learn about people, Justin. A lot. People are a lot more fluid in their sexuality than you can imagine. And then there's emotion. For women, especially, that's far more important than sex. Emotion and fantasy. That's what movies are all about. It's my trade and I know."
I finally find my voice a little more. "People might be shocked by actually seeing a tape of -- me and Brian. My mom might. My friends. To actually SEE us. But it wouldn't change anything. I know what I am. Everyone knows and has known for a long time. It wouldn't change anything, no matter who saw it."
"Perhaps not. But I wonder what Brian would think?"
"He'd understand most of all. He'd know what you did. How you... used us. Used him. I don't think THAT is any quick fix in your 'relationship,' Ron!""
"Maybe not. Maybe that's something that is already irretrievable. Possibly, although I'm working on it. Working on it all the time. Brian can be distant and stubborn, but he can also be loving. And he is in need of constant reassurance. I can give him that kind of reassurance. I can give him a lot of the things he needs to be a whole person. A successful person. What can you give him, Justin, other than an easy fuck?"
He's trying to throw me. To shake me. Even to break me, I know. "But I'm honest with him. I'd never spy on him. Tape him. Blackmail him, if that's what you're planning!"
"That's just one card to keep up my sleeve. To play later, if needs be. It has nothing to do with blackmail. It has to do with truth. Seeing the truth in front of him, with his own eyes. You won't emerge unscathed, either, Justin, if you think you can best me. You think you can go one-on-one with me, but you don't even understand what the game is about, let alone the rules."
"What do you mean?"
"Seeing my little videos of the two of you together wouldn't bother him in the slightest. Knowing Brian, he would undoubtedly want copies for the two of you to watch together. He's such a filthy little boy in so many ways. That's one thing I love about him."
Ron hits the pause switch on the remote. Then he turns and looks at me. His eyes are glittering in the dim light. That deep, glassy blue so unlike mine. "But I don't think Brian would be that thrilled to see some of my other footage. It's pretty raw, but when I edit it and fix it up a bit, it will fit well along with the others."
He turns to the computer sitting on his desk and begins tapping and moving the mouse around.
'What are you doing?"
"Just bringing up the video I shot tonight. While we were watching the 'home movies' of me and 'Jack.'"
I feel the panic pushing up into my chest.
He brings up a screen and is clicking around, looking for something. "I shouldn't have just let the camera on the computer run, but I didn't want to interrupt anything good. Interrupt such a spontaneous and poignant moment. Here we go. Now, that's not bad at all, is it? Of course, this computer is state-of-the-art and with some tweaking the image will jump right out at you, won't it? Me and you. It's not bad at all. Of course, you can't hold a candle to Brian in the blowjob department, but I don't think the quality of the thing will matter that much to him. Because when he sees it, it won't feel to him like getting blown -- I'm sure it will feel like he's taking up the ass for one final time. How does he put it? Without lube? Should be funny to watch his face."
I just stare at him. "You wouldn't."
"Why not? No one forced you."
"But, I -- I...."
"In fact, you initiated it. You can see that on the tape. Would you like me to find the place so we can watch it again?"
"No! Please, Ron. No."
"Responsibility for your own actions, Justin. Isn't that what Brian always says? Isn't that what he taught you? Didn't he give you your good little faggot lessons when he 'initiated' you into the club? Aren't you his little project? His little creation? Your own actions, Justin. Remember -- they have consequences."
"But -- it's not like that between us! It's not like -- with you."
"You have no idea what it's like with 'us' -- no idea at all." He uses the remote to turn off the video machine. "The tape is not an end in itself, it's just a means. But not right yet. I think I'll sit on this for a while. It might be of use -- somewhere down the road."
I swallow. "So -- this means you want me to tell Brian that I -- I can't go to London with him?"
"On the contrary, Justin. I want you to go. I need you to go. I can't be there myself, so you will be my eyes and ears. My little appendage, as it were. You'll like that, won't you?"
"I don't know. What do I have to do?"
"The same things you ordinarily do. Keep an eye on him. I need you to curb his self-destructive tendencies. To prevent the tricking from getting out of hand. You should be able to use your 'charms' to keep him out of the clubs and baths most nights. Make certain you do. And keep him off the hard drugs and the drinking to a minimum. That's almost a bigger worry. They are big drinkers over there and the dope is readily available and powerful. You can see that I'm interested in exactly the same things you are, Justin -- Brian in one piece. And to make certain that he comes home. Which means, back here. To me."
I take a deep breath and try to stop my voice from shaking. "But how can I control what he does?"
"You have your methods. You've used them quite handily up to now. Just continue what you've been doing." Ron sits back in his big chair. "In a lot of ways the thing that concerns me most is this new director in London, this Dorian Folco. I'm more jealous of him, actually, than any possible trick. He's a real potential rival. Not sexually -- he's straight, as far as I've been told -- but creatively. I know that if Brian is going to have a career he'll have to be in other people's films, be directed by them, guided by them -- but that doesn't mean I like it. The idea of him performing for others...." He stares off into space, thinking.
I wait. The silence continues for a long while. I'm afraid to move. Afraid of what more there might be. I hear Armani snoring on the oriental carpet.
"Can I go now, Ron. Please?"
"What?" He sits up, like he's remembering where he is. "Oh, certainly. You can go. Back to the poolhouse." He smiles. "Don't worry. I've turned off the camera. For tonight."
Continue on to "Sunday Morning -- Part 1", the next chapter.
©Gaedhal, June/July 2002
Send Gaedhal any comments, critiques, suggestions.
Updated July 20, 2002