This is Chapter 17 of the "Queer Identities" series.
The narrator is Justin Taylor, and features Brian Kinney, Avi Massarsky, Dr. Lucasta Kramer, Dorian Folco, Joe, Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: In Tucson. Arizona, June 2003.
Disclaimer: You know the drill. This is for fun, not profit. Enjoy.
"Night and day, you are the one
Only you beneath the moon and under the sun.
Whether near to me, or far,
It's no matter, darling, where you are,
I think of you
Night and day.
Day and night, why is it so?
That this longing for you follows wherever I go?
In the roaring traffic's boom,
In the silence of my lonely room,
I think of you
Night and day..."
"Well, Stanley," says Brian in his best Oliver Hardy impression. "This is another fine mess I've gotten myself into."
"You didn't get yourself into anything. It was an accident," I reply. "You're not the first person to get hurt on the set and you probably won't be the last."
"But when someone else gets hurt it doesn't shut down the entire fucking film!" Brian squirms and wipes the sweat from his forehead with the back of his hand. The ambulance feels like it's a hundred degrees. "You know that when they made the original 'Red River' Montgomery Clift shot himself in the leg while he was practicing drawing his gun. At least I wasn't that stupid!"
"At least Montgomery Clift didn't shoot John Wayne by mistake," I point out.
"If Clift had shot John Wayne, it wouldn't have been a mistake. They fucking hated each other!" Brian sits up slightly. "Jesus! This pillow is like a rock!"
"Please lie still, Mr. Kinney," says the paramedic. He gently pushes Brian back on the stretcher and adjusts the icepack on his ankle. "We have to keep your foot elevated. And this ice needs to stay in place for 20 minutes to keep the swelling down."
"Do you have any decent vodka? With all this ice we can make dry martinis." Brian lifts his left eyebrow quizzically. "We can stop along the way for some olives."
The paramedic almost smiles. "Sorry, Mr. Kinney. Try to relax."
"It's just as well," Brian sighs. "I'm supposed to be on the wagon. What about some other kind of painkiller? Tylenol? Heroin? A large mallet to hit me over the head and knock me out?"
The paramedic shakes his head. "I'm not a doctor, Mr. Kinney. I can't give you any medication. But we'll be at the hospital very soon. They'll take good care of you there."
"Fucking hospitals!" Brian breathes. "I don't know why I have to go all the way to fucking Tucson! You could have wrapped me up, the set nurse could have given me some pills, and I could be in my trailer, in my own bed. That's the only place I can relax! Not in this tin steambath!"
"I know it's a little warm, but we're doing the best we can, Mr. Kinney. I'll see if Steve can turn up the air back here." The paramedic shifts around and looks at me. "Could you take my place and make sure this icepack doesn't fall off?"
"Sure!" I move into his jumpseat while he goes to the front to talk to the driver. "Brian, don't give that guy any grief. He's only doing his job."
"I know," he says in a subdued voice. "It's not him. I'm just mad at myself. I shouldn't have fallen off Trooper. I wasn't paying attention."
"But it doesn't seem like anything's broken," I say hopefully. "You might be back on the set by Monday!"
"Thanks, Dr. Taylor. Now kiss it and make it better."
I lean over and kiss his foot, making sure the paramedic is looking the other way. "How's that?"
"Great. Now go a little higher. Like right here." He cups his crotch. "That'll really pass the time."
I roll my eyes. "You can't be in too much pain, Brian, if you're horny."
"Listen, twat, I'll be looking for a blowjob from the mortician who lays me out on the slab -- and I do mean 'lays me out'!"
I have to laugh. One thing about Brian is that he's always predictable! And he's never dull!
"Mr. Kinney! Please lie down!" the paramedic orders. "It's dangerous for you to move around until we get to the hospital and the doctors can examine you!"
"I am!" Brian huffs. "I'm only trying to get comfortable!"
"You wouldn't want me to strap you down, would you?" he warns.
Brian frowns. "That could be hot. What kind of restraints do you have? I prefer leather, but metal handcuffs have their appeal."
The paramedic gives Brian a strange look, then he sits in the jumpseat in the front, as far away from us as possible.
"Will you behave!" I hiss. "If you're this uncooperative now, what will you be like when we get to the hospital?"
"I'll be an asshole," he sniffs. "Just like always." But the van hits a rough spot in the road and he suddenly turns pale. "Shit."
I squeeze his hand. "Are you okay?"
"It's nothing," he says dismissively. "It just hurts. And that icepack is leaking. My ass is sitting in a pool of water."
I call over the paramedic and he takes the ice away. Then he apologizes as he gives me a towel to mop up the water.
Brian is quiet for the rest of the ride. Although it's hard to see out the windows, I know we're getting into the city because we slow in the heavier traffic. But it's still sweltering back here. I take some ice out of the chest, wrap it in the wet towel, and press it against Brian's forehead.
"Thanks," he says, closing his eyes. "That feels great."
As we get close to the hospital I can hear the driver talking over the radio, telling someone that we're almost there. The paramedic begins to gather up equipment and the lights on top of the van begin to flash.
The moment we come to a halt the back door bursts open and it seems like all hell breaks loose. People in labcoats and dark green scrubs jump into the ambulance and begin grabbing at Brian.
"Hold it!" he yells. And everything comes to a halt as the movie star speaks. "It's okay! I can walk!"
"You aren't walking!" our paramedic retorts. "Now shut the hell up!"
Brian glances at me. "He's a little cranky today, don't you think?"
"Brian," I plead. "Please cooperate!"
"You too, huh, Sunshine?"
"All right." He settles back on the stretcher in surrender. "Do your fucking worst!"
And in moments Brian is out of the ambulance and through the doors into the E.R.
I climb out slowly, dazed from the heat and confusion, and stand there for a moment, catching my breath.
"Justin? Are you okay?"
It's Avi, clipboard in hand. I almost forgot that he and a driver were following behind us in one of the big Ford Expeditions they use to run errands and transport everyone around.
"I think so. They took Brian inside. He's being a pain in the ass, which means he'll be fine." I hope.
Avi nods. "I'll tell Joe to find a place to park and then call Mr. Packard to let him know we're here." Tom Packard is the location coordinator and in charge of anything having to do with the shoot, including knowing where people are and what's going on with them. "You want me to meet you inside? I'm not allowed to use my cell in there."
"Yeah. Now I need to find where they've taken Brian."
I push my way through the E.R. doors and look around. There's a large waiting room full of tired-looking people. Three men in scrubs rush by me and go out the door. A nurse pushing a woman in a wheelchair comes out of some double doors. I hear a baby start to wail. Then I see the two paramedics from the set come out of the double doors with a tall woman in a labcoat. All three of them are holding clipboards. I'm going to have to get one of those things. No one takes you seriously unless you have a clipboard.
"Where's Brian? I'm supposed to stay with him."
The tall woman looks annoyed. "Mr. Kinney is being examined."
"I know," I say firmly. "I need to be with him."
"He's Mr. Kinney's... um... personal assistant," says the paramedic who was with us in the ambulance. "I think he needs to be back there. Mr. Kinney can be a bit of a challenge."
"A challenge, huh? We're used to challenges here. All right," the woman shrugs. She must be one of the head doctors. She has that aura of someone who gives orders and expects them to be obeyed immediately. "He's in Examining Room 3. Try not to get in the way."
I go through the double doors and look for the right room. It's actually quite easy to find. I simply follow the loud, protesting, and very familiar voice coming from one of the room. Yup -- Examining Room 3. There's a curtain in front of it, which I push aside.
"Excuse me?" snaps another woman in a labcoat, holding a clipboard. "Get out of here! I'm trying to do an examination!"
"Where the fuck have you been?" Brian carps. "This quack has the bedside manner of a tarantula!"
"Sorry, Brian. I had to talk to Avi. I'm Mr. Kinney's personal assistant," I assert. And before Brian can make his usual addition, I beat him to the punch. "That means I'm his boyfriend, partner, significant other, or whatever you want to call it. I'm Justin Taylor." I extend my hand, but she doesn't shake it.
Instead, she glares at me. "I'm trying to find out how the injury occurred."
"I told you. I fell off a fucking horse, almost got flattened by a herd of cattle, rolled out of the way, and when I tried to stand up, I was fucked." Brian grins at me. "But Dorian says they got the shot."
I grin back. "Did they, Brian? That's great! You didn't tell me that!"
"And I fell off the horse in character, too!" he adds proudly. "My bouncing ass did some prime emoting."
"This isn't helping, Mr. Kinney," says the doctor. "I'm trying to take a history."
"Listen, just tape up my ankle and let me get the hell out of here," Brian counters. "I need to go back to work."
"So do I!" the doctor retorts. "Now shut up and I'll get to it!" She begins blasting out questions like a shotgun. Where is the pain? Is it sharp or throbbing? Did he hear a crack when he fell? Did he lose consciousness? Did the horse step on him? Kick him? Roll over on him? Is his vision blurry? One question right after the other so that Brian is forced to answer just to prove he can keep up with her. Then she points a flashlight in his eyes. I remember that one from when I was bashed. Someone was always coming in and pointing a flashlight in my eyes. I think it's to make sure your brain is still working!
Finally she calls in another woman to help examine Brian's leg. I don't know if the second woman is a nurse or another doctor, but she unwraps the bandage the paramedics put on his ankle. It's soggy from the leaky icepack. The woman discards it with distaste.
Brian's ankle looks swollen and painful. He winces as the doctor feels it, gently flexing and turning it. "Does that hurt?" she asks.
"Like a motherfucker!" Brian snorts. "Why do you think I'm here?"
She narrows her eyes. "On the motherfucker scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate it, with 10 being the worse pain you've ever felt?"
Brian closes his eyes. "How the fuck should I know? A six, maybe. Or a seven. Definitely a seven when you're wiggling it around like that!"
The doctor writes something on the clipboard. Brian looks at me and rolls his eyes. Like I told Avi, he can't be in too much pain if he's being such a dick.
"I think it's a simple sprain, but we can't be positive until we do some tests. We're going to send you up to get some x-rays, and perhaps an MRI as well." She turns to the other woman. "Will you have them bring a wheelchair for Mr. Kinney?"
"Goddamn it!" Brian swears under his breath. "I'm not staying in this place overnight, that's for damn sure!"
"I don't think that will be necessary," says the doctor. "But even if it's a mild sprain you'll need to stay off it for a few days, otherwise you'll only do more damage. And if you've torn a ligament or broken a bone, you'll be down for quite a while."
"I can't!" Brian blurts. "I'm in the middle of shooting a movie, in case you weren't aware of it! I need to get back to the set as soon as possible!"
"Oh, I'm aware of it, Mr. Kinney," the doctor says coolly. "Your director called the head of the hospital to make certain you were well taken care of -- and so did Mr. Eastwood. He assured them both that all of our patients get the best care possible, even spoiled movie stars. But I can't heal your ankle overnight. I'm a doctor, not a magician!"
"Thank you, Dr. McCoy!" Brian mumbles.
The woman doctor almost smiles. "And thank YOU, Captain Kirk." She glances at me. "I don't envy you, Mr...?"
"Mr. Taylor. I hope whatever you get out of him is worth it."
"Jesus!" Brian huffs. "I told you she had the bedside manner of a wolverine!"
"What I get out of my relationship with Brian is, frankly, none of your business, Dr...?"
"Kramer," she offers. "Lucasta Kramer."
"Brian is my partner, Dr. Kramer. He looks out for me and I look out for him. Period."
She shakes her head in disbelief. "Good luck, then. I think you're going to need it!" And she saunters out of the examining room.
"Bitch!" Brian spits. "She could give Melanie a run for her money!"
But the doctor's words have me worried. "What if it's broken? What if you need a cast?"
"I won't," Brian states flatly. Then he takes a deep breath. He's worried, too. "They'll shoot around it. I can still ride. And I can always work a limp into my performance. Ever notice that cowboys always walk a little funny, like they've just had a 10-inch dildo up their asses? It's all that time sitting on a fucking horse! If I have to walk a little cockeyed, then Dorian will just have to deal with it."
"They won't... replace you, will you?" That's my real fear. And it must be Brian's, too.
"No, they won't. They'd have to replace Dorian, because he won't do it. And I don't think Eastwood would allow it, either. It's only an ankle! My head didn't fall off! Dorian will simply have to focus more on my beautiful close-ups!"
An orderly comes to take Brian up to get his x-rays, which gives me a chance to look for Avi. I find him and the driver, Joe, in the waiting room.
"Are they going to keep him in the hospital?" Avi asks.
I shake my head. "I doubt it. But he's got to stay off his foot for a few days. We'll know more when they have the x-rays."
"I talked to Mr. Folco and he authorized me to get rooms for at least tonight. Even if Mr. Kinney stays in the hospital, you'll need a room and so will we. There are a couple of good hotels not far from here, so I'll have Joe take me over to look at them. Is that all right with you, Justin?"
"Yeah," I say. "That's fine. A hotel would be great." My shoulders slump with relief. The stress is getting to me. I'm exhausted. And dirty. I reach into the pocket of my shorts and realize I have my cellphone and the key to the trailer and that's it! I didn't even bring my wallet with me, let alone any clothes. "I walked out without anything, Avi. I don't even have change for a pack of gum!"
"That's no problem." Avi whips out his clipboard and beings writing. "You tell me what you need and I'll get it for you. Underwear. Toothpaste. Cash. You name it! That's what I do, Justin. That's why Mr. Folco sent me with you. To take care of that stuff."
Avi and I confab over the list. When Dorian said that Avi and the driver were going to follow the ambulance I thought it was kind of silly, but now I see why he's here. Because I'm a lousy personal assistant. I ran out of the trailer without thinking because I'm not really a personal assistant. I'm Brian's lover, first, last, and forever. All I could think about was that he'd been hurt. That he was being sent to the hospital. If Avi wasn't here, I'd be standing in shorts and a tee shirt, with no money and no idea what the hell to do next!
"Chill out! I'll take care of everything," he repeats. And I believe him.
Avi and Joe go off to handle things while I call Dorian. "The doctor thinks it's sprain. He's being x-rayed now. If it's a mild sprain I don't think he'll need a cast. But he has to stay off his foot for a few days. And, as usual, he's being his charmingly pissy self to one and all!"
"That's a relief," Dorian replies. "At least that means he's normal! But tell Brian he shouldn't worry. We finish the stampede scene tomorrow, but we can use Jared as his double. If we need any more close-ups, we can film them later on."
"Brian is afraid he'll screw up the shooting schedule and you'll replace him!" I didn't add that it was my fear, too.
Dorian makes a dismissive grunt. "Yes, of course we're going to replace him! Rowan Conley is all set to step into the role, just like Eve Harrington! He probably bribed Brian's horse to throw him!" Then we both laugh, picturing the gutless Rowan, who wouldn't even eat the calf fries, scheming to replace Brian in an 'All About Eve' scenario.
"I don't see Brian as Bette Davis," I say. "He's more of a Vivien Leigh-type -- brave, beautiful, and high-strung!"
"And completely crazy," Dorian adds.
"Isn't that a given?" I ask. "Don't you have to be crazy to be an actor? At least a little bit?"
"I suppose so," Dorian sighs. "I may joke, but I thank God that Brian wasn't badly injured. I would be devastated! I'm the director and anything that happens to any of my actors or crew is my responsibility."
I understand how Dorian feels. And I also understand that even though he's having some kind of bizarre romance with Diane, Dorian is totally in love with Brian. That's a no-brainer!
I fill in Dorian about the hotel room and the stuff Avi is getting for us and then thank him for sending him along.
"I wouldn't send you off the set without back-up, Justin. And I think it might be best if you stayed in Tucson for the weekend. Brian will be more comfortable in a hotel room than in the trailer. Then, if Brian is good to go, the driver can bring you all back on Sunday night."
"That would really be nice, Dorian." And it's true. The trailer is okay, but it'll be great to get away from it for a couple days. We can order room service and relax. And if we need anything, we can send Avi out to get it.
"Take good care of our prima donna," Dorian says before he signs off. "And call me if you have any difficulties."
The nurse lets me wait for Brian in the examining room. It seems to be taking a long time. I look at myself in the mirror over the sink and realize that I'm a mess. I'm sweaty and smelly and my hair is sticking up like a punk rocker -- which isn't the look I'm going for. I'll be glad when Avi comes back with some clean clothes and underwear. I'm also starving to death, but I have no money to get anything at the cafeteria.
It's like the time Brian and I ran out of Ron's house after the incident over the video tapes. We had to spend the night sleeping in the car because we forgot to take any money with us! That was almost exactly a year ago! God! It seems like decades. So much has happened in that time it makes my head spin to think about it.
Dr. Kramer stalks into the examining room and slaps her clipboard on the counter with a loud bang that makes me jump two feet. Brian's right -- she has the bedside manner of a rhinoceros! "There's no break," she says without even a hello. "They're bringing him down now and we'll tape him up. Here are some instructions." She gives me a printed list. "I doubt he'll follow them -- he seems the kind who generally ignores medical advice -- but at least I tried. Remember RICE -- rest, ice, compression, and elevation. That's the most important thing. Do you think you can remember that?"
"Yes, ma'am," I say. I'm too intimidated to say anything else!
She scribbles on a small pad and then rips off the sheet, handing it to me. "Here's a prescription for pain relief. It's for Percocet. Have him take one every six hours. After that, Tylenol should do the trick. Unless he's stubborn and won't stay off that foot! I'll have the nurse bring the crutches. See that he uses them, at least for the first two days. And I mean it!"
Crutches? Brian won't like that one bit! But all I can do is nod. "Yes, ma'am."
"Good. The nurse will show you how to re-wrap the bandage. Don't get it too tight. And remember to have him elevate that foot!" And then she's gone in a swirl of smoke and sulfur!
A few minutes later the orderly wheels Brian in.
"Is Ilsa the She-Wolf of the SS gone?" Brian asks. The orderly stifles a laugh.
"If you mean, Dr. Kramer, yes. But she left you this." I wave the prescription in his face. "And they're bringing you crutches, too."
"Fuck crutches!" Brian looks pissed. "How are we getting back to the set?"
"We're not." Brian starts to protest, but I stop him. "We're staying in Tucson until Sunday. In a hotel. With Room Service!"
Brian frowns. "Is this on the level? Did Dorian okay it?"
"He insisted. He wants you to rest so you can be back on set Monday morning."
"Oh." He settles back in the wheelchair. "I guess I can live with that."
"You better, because you don't have any choice in the matter."
The nurse comes in with the crutches and also shows me how to rewrap Brian's Ace bandage. She also has some papers for Brian to sign. To my surprise, Avi has already taken care of all the paperwork and insurance forms.
"Do you have a ride?" she asks.
I nod and then call Avi's cell. "The suite is all set, Justin! I checked it myself. It even has a Jacuzzi in the bathroom. I thought that would be good for Brian's leg."
"That's amazing! I can't thank you enough, Avi!"
"It's my job. I also got rooms for me and Joe on a lower floor, but I'll only be a phone call away. We're pulling into the parking lot of the hospital now. We'll be waiting for you at the front entrance."
"Okay. We'll be right down."
Brian wants to walk out under his own steam, but of course they won't let him. So I carry the crutches, the prescription, and the instructions while the orderly wheels him into the elevator.
"We can stop at a drugstore on the way to the hotel or else I can send Avi out to fill the prescription. What do you think?"
"I think I want to go straight to the hotel," says Brian. He looks beat. I keep forgetting that he was up before 6:00 and was riding hard and filming all morning before the accident. "And I need something to eat."
I smile. "Me, too! We'll order everything on the Room Service menu!"
"That's my boy! The stomach that never dies!"
The elevator doors open and Avi is standing there, his face scrunched up with concern.
"Avi! What's the matter?"
"Justin, you won't believe it!" he blurts. "When we pulled up in front of the hospital there were reporters there! I didn't see them until I got out of the Expedition. But one of them saw me and started yelling questions! Then they all started yelling! I ran inside and a security guard stopped them from following me!" Avi looks scared. "It's like they recognized me! How did they know we were here? What are we going to do?"
Brian is suddenly all business. "How many are there?"
Avi thinks. "I don't know. Maybe five or six. But they have cameras!"
"Still or video?"
"I'm not sure. I'm sorry, Mr. Kinney!" Avi looks almost ready to cry. "I was running and didn't look!"
"It's okay," says Brian. Then he turns to the orderly. "Is there an underground parking garage? Or some other exit?"
"There's the E.R.," he replies. "And the service doors in the back of the building."
A security guard comes up. His face is as worried as Avi's. "Mr. Kinney, has your assistant told you about the problem?"
"Yes. We're trying to figure another way out of here."
"It might be best if you simply went out the front door. You're not exactly mobile" He looks at Brian's wrapped foot and the crutches I'm carrying. "I called the police and they're out there now, talking to the reporters. They'll keep them back while you get into your vehicle. We can try to sneak you out another door, but there are people waiting at the other exits, too."
Brian looks at me in exasperation. "Let's just go. I don't feel like playing spy games."
"We'll keep them back," the security guard promises.
I glance at Avi and he shrugs. Then he takes the crutches and I walk by Brian's side as we head for the front doors.
There's quite a crowd gathered in the lobby to watch us and I'm once again aware of how grungy I look. Brian is dusty and sweaty and still wearing the ragged remnants of his costume trousers -- the paramedics had to slit the legs to examine him -- and he hasn't shaved in days. The last thing either of us wants is our picture taken by the paparazzi, but it looks like we have no choice.
A blast of stifling heat hits us as we go outside. I'd forgotten that it's almost a hundred degrees today. The cops and security guards are holding the reporters back while Joe opens the door of the Expedition and then goes around to the driver's side. I hear questions being shouted. And my name being called. Without thinking, I look around. The cameras snap and flashes go off, blinding me for a moment.
"Justin!" A British accent. A familiar voice. It's the guy from 'The Sun.' Rexford Walcott. "Over here! How was Brian injured? Can you give us a quote? What will happen to the film? Was Mr. Eastwood there when the accident occurred? How serious is the injury? Justin! One quote! Please!"
I turn my face away and look forward. Avi and the orderly help Brian into the SUV while Joe revs the engine for a quick getaway. I climb in after them and slam the door shut, the cameras clicking and the questions still being shouted behind me.
"Night and day,
Under the hide of me,
There's an oh such a hungry yearning burning inside of me.
And this torment won't be through
'til you let me spend my life making love to you,
Day and night,
Night and day."
Continue on to "Image".
©Gaedhal, February 2008.
Posted February 9, 2008.