This is Part 1 of Chapter 28 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "Mother's Day", the previous chapter.
POV of Ron Rosenblum, and features Brian Kinney, Diane Rhys, Dr. Hall, Carmel, Jimmy Hardy, Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: May 2002. Shooting concludes on 'The Olympian.'
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. You have to eat something."
He sighs. "I'm not hungry."
It's Friday night and I picked him up from the Spencer Pavilion this afternoon. He'd been there a little over a week.
Dr. Hall was non-committal about it. That's his usual stance -- non-committal. Dr. Krishnan, on the other hand, was brisk and straight-forward. He was the one who signed the release. He's also Tess Hardy's analyst. That had a lot to do with it.
"Try to eat something. How about a little fruit?" I hold out the plate. Carmel has cut up the melon into small pieces and the strawberries look wet and cold.
He shakes his head. "I'm really not hungry." He leans his head back on the pillow and picks up his book. 'The Fountainhead.' The cover of the paperback is tattered on the edges.
I set the plate down on the table next to the bed. "You have to eat something," I repeat. But it's futile. He doesn't and he won't. Or he can't.
"Wouldn't you like to talk?"
"About what, Ron?"
How about -- everyfuckingthing in the world? "Whatever is on your mind."
He gazes at me like I'm utterly insane. "There's nothing on my mind, Ron. You know that. I have no mind of my own anymore -- remember?" Then he looks back at the book, but he's not reading. He's not turning the pages.
He silences me with another look. A look that goes right through me. A look that asks -- what have you done and why have you done it?
That's a question I can't answer.
I walk out into the hallway to get my head on straight. What the fuck am I going to do? What?
"He's resisting you. It's his way of acting out."
The shrink is wearing a British-cut, three-piece suit, a Phi Beta Kappa key dangling from his vest chain. He's cultivated his air of sophistication so carefully. I trusted this guy at first -- my analyst praised him and if I can't trust my own analyst, then what's the point?
But he's an ass. Now I'm certain.
"Acting out? Excuse me, Dr. Hall, but he's not a four-year-old. This isn't a problem I can solve by making him sit in the 'bad chair' for an hour -- or by taking away his TV privileges."
"You asked for my recommendation, Mr. Rosenblum. And I gave you my verdict on his behavior. Perhaps the four-year-old analogy is not uncalled for. He is immature, narcissistic, hysterical, obsessive-compulsive, and addicted to sex, drugs, alcohol, and -- most probably -- manipulating people. Especially YOU, Mr. Rosenblum. Is that clear enough?"
"You ARE a fucking ignoramus, doctor. Don't give me any goddamn pop psychology! Those terms may be fine on your little clipboard, but what do they signify in the real world? Don't tell me YOUR 'take' on Brian. Tell me what I can do to help him!"
"Getting hostile with me isn't going to help your... friend, Mr. Rosenblum."
"My 'friend'? My 'friend'! Brian is right -- you ARE a homophobic prick! He said it and I discounted it because everyone is telling me that he's nuts. YOU'RE telling me he's nuts. But I'm beginning to believe he's the only sane person in this whole fucking city! And what do you think of THAT, Dr. Hall?"
"I'll reserve judgment until you are a lot calmer, Mr. Rosenblum."
"Then you'll wait a long fucking time, because I don't see CALM anywhere on my horizon!"
Shooting resumes on Monday. But not with Brian.
He's still shaky. He's still hazy. He's still not eating anything.
This can't continue.
"Brian. Can we talk?" He's sitting out by the pool in the shade. It has to be 90 degrees, but he's bundled up like my mother in a big blanket. Armani is lying under the chaise, panting.
"You can talk, Ron. I'm listening." He sits with that copy of 'The Fountainhead' in his lap. Sometimes he ruffles through the pages and reads a little. Sometimes he just stares at it, shaking his head. I don't know why -- he has the fucking thing practically memorized.
"Look at me for two seconds."
He looks up, then back down at the book.
"No, I mean really look at me while I'm talking to you!"
"Yes, Sir!" He gives me a half-assed salute and a ghost of a smile appears.
"After the stadium scenes -- they should completely wrap on Saturday the 18th...."
"And then you'll leave me alone for five minutes?"
"Let me say this -- please?" I squat down next to the chaise.
He shrugs, pressing his lips together in a tight line.
"I've asked Freddy for the place on Maui for two weeks and he's cleared it with the agency. Two weeks when you can do nothing but relax. Then you'll come home rested and back to your old self again. If there are any re-takes that need to be done, plus any other matters involving the picture, you'll be able to do them without a lot of pressure. The hard stuff will be over."
"My 'old self' again? Huh. I wonder what old self that is?"
"Any old self you want to be."
He takes off his sunglasses and frowns at me. His eyes are huge in his pointed face. "I told you before when you brought this up -- I don't want to go to Hawaii. I just want to take two weeks and GO HOME. Is that so hard to understand?"
"Frankly, yes!" I feel like I'm ready to tear out my hair. "Fucking Pittsburgh! What's right about it?"
"My friends are there. My place -- my loft. I've been thinking a lot about it. I think I can relax there. Get a fucking complete night's sleep. Maybe even eat something. THAT'S what is there for me. People I can trust...."
"You can trust me, Brian."
The second the words are out of my mouth I know they are a mistake. He just gazes at me. He doesn't need to say anything, because the falseness of what I've uttered is obvious even to Armani, who looks up at me from under the chaise. Even my fucking dog knows I'm a liar. What has happened to me?
"I'll make it up to you there. I promise. It's so beautiful in Maui."
"You're planning to go, too? I thought you'd hired a squad of goons to follow my every movement? And what about the film? You're not going to walk away at this point?"
"I've already arranged it. I can't take the whole two weeks, but part of it. Principle filming will be over and I can be back in a few hours if there's a problem."
"You have it all figured out, don't you, Ron?"
"And what about Pittsburgh?"
Fuck Pittsburgh! "You can go there any time! Right now you need to rest and get better. Maui is perfect for that."
Remember how happy we were there over New Year's. When you first came out here. Try to remember that! Try!
He looks back down at his paperback. I want to grab it and toss the fucking thing into the pool.
I reach out and put my hand around the back of his head, pull him to me. My heart thuds as I feel him flinch. But I can't let that stop me or I'll lose everything right here.
I push my mouth down on his and he yields. Always, he yields without a struggle. Fight back, I want to say. Care enough to fight me back. But he's utterly passive, eyes closely tightly.
I reach under the blanket to his bare chest. I can feel the line of every bone -- his collarbone, ribs, down to his hipbones that stand out sharp as knives. I peel the blanket away and reach down the smoothness of his long body to his cock. I touch it gently, then firmly, then eagerly... And then I stop.
It feels soft.
I look up at Brian. He's watching me, still acquiescent, submissive. Waiting. His eyes are also on himself. Then on me working on him. But nothing happens.
This has never occurred before that I can remember. Even outside, in a falling snow and below freezing weather, his cock was hot and hard even before I ever got him undone. When he's been ill. Stoned. Drunk. Hungover. Half-asleep. Unconscious. Standing on the street at an ATM. Waiting for a table at Spago. In a box at Santa Anita, just before the feature race. In Freddy Weinstein's backyard. In Jimmy Hardy's front yard. In the garage. In almost every room in this house. In the pool. Countless times in the cars, the studio limo, in the Mustang with the top down on the Pacific Coast Highway. Watching Paul McCartney at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. In every fucking club, disco, bar, gym, and bathhouse in West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Palm Springs.
But not here. Not now.
I look up and he's still watching me, but now a madonna-like smile is on his full lips.
"I told you they would take everything away from me. And now they have."
Diane Rhys shows up at the door. Against my better judgment, I tell Carmel to let her in.
She and Brian sit by the pool with a TV table next to them. She's brought food that she cooked herself. Polish stuff. Pierogies and potatoes and some kind of chicken soup. It smells like my mother's cooking and gives me a peculiar, anxious feeling. There's no way that Brian is going to eat that rich food. But he does. A little at a time, but he does.
She also brings some bottles of that black Irish stout. It's thick enough to stand a spoon up in. Micks are supposed to get all their vitamins in their Guinness. He drinks it.
Carmel comes to the door of my office, her face thunderous. I tell her to stay in the kitchen, away from Brian. Away from Diane.
I can hear them laughing out there -- a sound I haven't heard in a million fucking years. But I stay in the office, out of sight.
Before Diane goes out the door, she stops and says two words to me. The only two words she says to me all evening. "Comfort food."
The next day she brings a big dish of Tess Hardy's lasagna and a bottle of cheap, red wine.
The day after that he's back on the set.
Regardless of the fact that Brian can hardly walk around the pool, we have to shoot and we have to shoot now. The penultimate scenes of the film -- the Olympic Trial sequences where Bobby is killed -- have to be done at a track meeting being held in the stadium. We need that crowd. We have to move fast.
We're scheduled for location over four days. It isn't the complete end of the shoot -- there's a funeral scene that we'll do afterwards when Sir Kenneth is back in town -- but it's the last of the scenes Brian has to do. And the most brutal and emotionally charged.
These scenes wouldn't be easy to do under the best of circumstances, but as things stand I'm trying to imagine how in hell they are going to happen.
First, it's ungodly hot and dry. We are in the midst of another fucking drought and the very air is hard and crackly, the sun relentless. Some of the athletes taking part in the actual meet are having problems with dehydration and heatstroke, let alone the actors.
The fact that Brian is less than three weeks out of the hospital, already underweight, and can barely keep down any solid food doesn't bode well for getting the footage we need. But we -- I -- have no fucking choice. We have to do it and do it now. If we suspend production again for any length of time I'm afraid the studio will shelve the picture -- Jimmy Hardy or no Jimmy Hardy. They are already as nervous as cats over some of the dailies they've seen -- freaked out might not even be too extreme a phrase. I think they'd love any excuse to pull the plug on 'The Olympian' -- and I can't give them that opportunity.
Brian got through a week of filming okay, but it was mainly work on the set or at the small training track for exposition. Physically demanding enough, but nothing like the stuff we'll need from him in the stadium. I have a stand-in for as much footage as we can manage, but we can't use the guy for anything but the most extreme distance shots -- as well as set-ups and the like. The guy just doesn't look or move like Brian. No one looks or moves like Brian. He has to be right there.
"I can do it. I'll be fine."
"I said I would do it. I always keep my word. No matter what."
That's what I'm afraid of.
I plan to have him and Jimmy in the shade or in an air-conditioned trailer as much as possible -- if one or the other doesn't get heatstroke before this week is out it will be a fucking miracle! And if I don't have a regular stroke before this shoot is over -- that will be a miracle, too!
The first person I see when I walk into the stadium the first day is fucking Diane. I catch up with her before she can get away.
"What are you doing HERE?"
She's carrying a cooler and a gym bag. Brian's bag, which I recognize immediately, since I last saw it in his hand earlier this morning.
"Brian called me. I came."
"Why is this skin off your ass, Ron? I'm just standing here. I don't have a car waiting to help him make his escape." She gives me a level, malevolent stare. "Although I would -- if that was what it took." She scans the stadium with her bland, blue eyes. "But that's not the solution. At least, not yet."
"You are a cunning bitch."
She sets down the heavy cooler. "I take that as a compliment."
"What was it that you said to Tess Hardy? I want to know."
She smiles at me, a superior, judging smile. "We just had a little chat. About men, mostly. About how they should be managed. She had quite a few ideas in that direction. And I gave her a little impetus to do some managing of her own." Diane turns and scans the crowd. "In fact, she should be here today. Right now. She's planning to be here every day until the shoot ends. To -- keep an eye on things. If you know what I'm talking about...."
"What's THAT supposed to mean?"
"Just what it sounds like. Now, excuse me while I take these things over to my 'boyfriend' -- I want to make sure he doesn't get dehydrated today in this hot sun. After all, he just got out of the hospital, didn't he, Ron? What was it that the papers said? 'Exhaustion and dehydration brought on by a bad bout of food poisoning'? Sounds terrible. I've double checked all of the food I brought in my cooler to make sure that doesn't happen again. It won't -- will it?"
"I ought to slap you."
"What for, Ron? Watching out for someone YOU should be watching out for? You're a freakin' hypocrite."
She starts to walk away, but I hold her arm.
"What about Tess, Diane?"
"I'm going to look for her as soon as I check on Brian. We're going to sit together and compare notes. And watch the filming. Should be interesting, since this IS the climax of the picture."
"I mean -- what did you tell Tess? Jimmy would barely speak to me when I came on set this morning. She's obviously got him by the balls."
"If not Tess, then who, Ron? He's HER husband, after all."
"What did you fucking say to her?"
"I just told her about how you and your cronies had Brian tied up and doped up in that scary little private prison. The Spencer Pavilion, my foot. It may sound like a fancy resort, but it's just an expensive loony bin."
"It's the finest facility in Southern California...."
"Don't read me the brochure, Ron. Tess knew all about it -- at least as much as Jimmy would let her know. And she's Brian's friend, too, in case you hadn't noticed. So she used her 'influence' to bring in her own doctor, Dr. Krishnan, to look him over. And that's when your freakin' Dr. Hall got reamed out big time. And then Brian got that I.V. -- did you really think that was only saline solution, Ron? -- taken out so he could begin coming out of that 'Stepford Wife' thing they had going on there. And that's when he started to get better. Didn't he? Admit it, if you aren't completely compromised by your own denial!"
"Yes," I said. "He's better. Yes, I fucked it up -- all the way around. It's all my fault. Now, can you let it go?"
"Not really, Ron." She shook off my hand and set down Brian's gym bag to get a new grip on it. "That's better. That thing is heavy. I won't let it go until you guarantee that Brian will get to have his two weeks off -- just like he wanted. In Pittsburgh. Without any interference from you?"
I have to bite my lip to keep from screaming. "I've already agreed to it."
"No trying to send him to Hawaii or somewhere else where your flunkies can keep an eye on him?"
"It was just a suggestion. He liked it on Maui."
"Yes, but he NEEDS to go home, Ron. Can't you understand that? He needs to go home and get his head together. Get his mind back on track."
"He won't fucking come back," I say quietly, but the stadium noise drowns me out.
"What did you say, Ron?"
"I said that if he goes there HE WON'T COME BACK! There! Satisfied?"
Now her hard little face softens a bit. "You really are afraid of that, aren't you?"
"He's got somebody back in Pittsburgh. I know." She's smug as she says this. She loves turning the knife. "Afraid you can't compete? With the big house and big cars and big career? You had to play the big shot even more by throwing him to the wolves on this shoot!"
"It was Jimmy's idea...."
"Take the blame, Ron. Just take it and don't rationalize everything. Tell me -- what's worse? Knowing you can drive him right over the edge? Or thinking about losing him to some waiter -- in Pittsburgh, no less? I think it's a scream, myself. Rough justice."
Little Diane has a streak of the sadist in her a mile wide. She makes her boyfriend Jerry -- one of the most ruthless sharks in this town -- seem like an amateur.
"Then he won't come back, will he? He won't!" Suddenly, I feel the panic attack coming. And I don't have any Xanax on me.
"He'll come back, Ron. He gave his word. He's nothing if not consistent in that. Honorable, even. When he says he'll do something, he freakin' well does it. Unlike some people I could name."
But I shake my head. "Not this time. He hates L.A., hates the picture, hates the whole shitty situation. And he hates me most of all. Why would anyone in his right mind come back to that?"
"But you know the poor boy isn't in his right mind. Brian never have come out here in the first place if he was. He came out here because he loves you -- or he thought he did. What was it you told him, Ron? What was it you promised him? It must have been something he needed badly -- some emotional Black Hole he thought only you could fill? That's really sad." She stops and looks at my face. "And this is what you did to him. This is what you drove him to. I hope you can live with yourself knowing that. I mean, knowing how you betrayed his trust so totally. I hope it was worth it, Ron. Really worth it."
"Why are you doing this to me, Diane? What have I ever done to you?" My fucking hands are shaking now.
She just stares at me, then turns and starts walking away. I move to catch up to her.
"You still haven't explained why the fuck Tess Hardy would take Brian's side in all this? It makes no sense at all. She's putting the screws to Jimmy to get better treatment for Brian? And he's the one who is fucking around with her husband! Doesn't she feel sick about that? I feel fucking sick about it! But there's been nothing I could do to stop it! Tess should want to lock Brian up and throw away the key!"
"Well, that's easily explained. In fact, she knows I'm Brian's intimate confidante and that I know better than anyone else why he freaked out. So I detailed it for her. And she said she understood very well and she would do what she could to take care of the situation."
"Reining in Jimmy. Reading him the freakin' riot act. Getting Brian out of the hospital and back 'home' -- even if it was your home -- for the time being. And getting this picture finished as soon as possible. She felt that would be the best possible scenario for all involved."
"So, she isn't angry at Brian? She doesn't blame Brian at all for this mess?"
"Of course not, Ron. Why should she? Especially since I explained to her that YOU were the one having the affair with Jimmy, not Brian. And that was why poor Brian broke down when he realized that it's been the two of you, you and Jimmy, ALL ALONG! And for who knows how many freakin' years? That pretty much explained everything that's happened. Gotta go now, Ron." Diane smiles at me with her expensively capped, Jerry-paid-for, viper-like white teeth. "My 'boyfriend' is waiting."
Continue on to "The Olympian -- Part 2", the next section.
©Gaedhal, June 2002
Pictures of Gale Harold from Showtime.
Updated June 16, 2002