This is Chapter 76 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "Positively 4th Street", the previous chapter.
The narrator is Brian Kinney, featuring Justin Taylor, Dorian Folco, Sir Ken Fielding, Ivan, Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Brian wakes up in the wrong bed; funny how that happens. London, July 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.
I don't like to think where I'm waking up. I've opened my eyes in a lot of places, both good and bad, but I don't think I've regretted one as much as this.
No, this isn't the Chatterton, that's for certain. I know where I am, even if I don't want to admit that I know. Dorian Folco's place. His house. And, as far as I can tell, his bedroom. Nice bed, too. Luckily, I'm the only one in it at the moment. Yeah, with Dorian I can't fall back on my patented "Who the fuck are you?" cheery morning greeting.
And I can't really remember how I got here. That's the worst part. It's one thing to completely fuck up when you are conscious. But to do it in a blackout -- there's no excuse for that. Not even for me, who has fucked up in every possible way in the past. And I mean EVERY way.
Right -- Brian Kinney, whose motto is "No Apologies, No Excuses, No Regrets"! Or that used to be my motto. What bullshit! I have no idea what my motto is now. How about -- "Brian Kinney -- Sorry, But How Have I Fucked You Over Today?" Or what about "Excuses? Regrets? How Much Time Have You Got?"
I don't remember taking the dope last night. But I don't have to remember, because I know I did it. I know what I took to get myself up for the scene. I took it to get me revved up after all that drinking. That was the first mistake. The booze. But I needed something to make me forget that ridiculous spectacle in Sir Ken's dressing room. Those two clowns, fighting over me! Yeah, me -- the booby prize! Like I would look twice at either of them. Which is probably not the best thing to say, seeing that I've already done Gerry -- even if it was over ten years ago -- and now can add Dorian to the List.
So Charley gave me a bump last night to get me up out of the booze slump. Then another. Maybe another after that. And I know what else he gave me later to bring me down again, because he's been passing it to me all week. Just a little. But a quarter of a line of smack one night leads to a half a line after that, and more and more down the road, until you're snorting the whole envelope. Or half a vial of China White. 90% pure Burmese shit. And that's why I'm a fucking idiot! Because I KNOW better!
I justified the dope as something to replace the Xanax. Lying to myself is bad enough, but I can't face lying to Justin. Can't think about that at all. He's acting so proud of me because I haven't been asking for any of my pills. Right -- he should only know it's because I have something stronger to bring me down now. Because he'll only blame himself for MY fuck ups. That's something I can't take.
But when I can't fucking remember anymore what I did. What I took. Who I did. That's the end of the line. It better be the end of the line. It HAS to be! Because when I woke up a little earlier to piss and started to puke my guts out the minute I reached the toilet, I knew that I was already over that line. And it was that quick, too. That's beyond just a warning signal. That's a fucking Air Raid Siren!
I get up and look around. I check the bathroom and piss again. Throw some cold water on my face. My stomach heaves a little, but it's okay. I peer into the mirror and shake my head.
Now, I have a vague recollection of Dorian dragging me into his car. That's not good, but it could have been worse. Much worse. That Helene woman, the groupie bitch who has a part in the movie, has been trying to get her hooks into me all week. Charley has been bringing her to rehearsals and she's been rubbing up against me.
"Listen," I told her the first day. "I'm gay and I'm not interested. Charley must have mentioned that to you."
"Sure, but I don't believe it," she said "I can tell you've fucked women. Why not me?"
"I don't think so." I'm used to both men and women tossing themselves at me, but I've never had a problem being blunt with those I have no interest in. But this one is persistent. VERY persistent. Keeping away from her at rehearsal when I was still half-way sober is different than keeping her off of me in the fucking SCENE in the bar, when she's supposed to be all over me! And Helene was getting WAY into the part. Too into it. So, Dorian stepping in when he did was a relief. Sort of.
Dorian. Fuck. Why do I do these things to myself? WHY? I'm not even attracted to him! Not that it would be okay if I were attracted to him. I thought I was beyond that, beyond finally giving in to my baser instincts at every turn! But obviously no one informed my dick of that fact. The only good thing is that Dorian has been nowhere in evidence this morning. If he's anything like Ron he was probably up at the fucking crack of dawn, taking meetings and writing memos and doing all kinds of work before anyone normal -- like me -- had even finished REM sleep!
Shit! Wait until Ron hears about THIS! He'll charter a fucking jet and be here before I can even find my pants! He would love to hear that I've not only fallen off the wagon on the set, but I've reverted to full-blown outlaw/whore mode -- with the junkie aspect thrown in for good measure! I'll NEVER live THIS one down!
But right now I have to get out of here. Of course, I don't have a watch. And I don't have my cellphone. I pick up the phone on the nightstand to call Justin at the hotel and a little light goes on. "Yes?" says a foreign-sounding voice. Damn it. I slam the receiver down.
I look around. Dorian has one of those French antique clocks on his mantel. There's a fireplace in the fucking bedroom! These old houses kill me. The winter wind probably whistles down that chute and into this room like a hurricane come February. The clock says it's almost 1:00 on Saturday afternoon. I've been gone since 7:00 a.m. yesterday. Double shit. Justin has undoubtedly called the cops by now, and I don't blame him. He must be fucking worried sick.
I put on my jeans and my black tank. I can't find my shirt. I know I was wearing a shirt. I think I was. Fuck it. I find my boots under the bed. I'm getting out of here NOW, even if I have to climb out the window. And I consider it -- until I look out the window and see that I'm on the third floor. These rowhouses are all narrow and tall. I'm just going to have to walk through the front door and hope that I don't see my 'host' on the way out.
I open the bedroom door and head down the stairs. The foreign voice is standing at the bottom, wearing a white housecoat. What's he, the fucking maid?
"Can I help you, Mr. Kinney?" He sounds just like Dracula. It's creepy.
"Nope, I was just going. Don't mind me."
"But, Mr. Kinney, Mr. Folco said that...." The guy tries to step in front of me, but he's about five-foot-nothing and thinks better of it when I come to the bottom of the stairs and stand next to him.
"Yeah, say 'Bye bye' for me, because I'm really late for an important appointment."
And I'm out the door. I feel like running, but my head still hurts. So I just jog a bit around a big square. I'm looking for a sign, a landmark, an underground station, anything to let me know where I am. I go a little more and realize that I'm in Bloomsbury. I stop a woman and ask for the British Museum. She points the way, to the south, a few blocks down. From the museum I head up to Tottenham Court Road and the tube station.
But I reach into my pocket and realize that I don't have my wallet. I didn't need my wallet on the set last night. And I didn't think I'd be wandering around the city today, trying to get home, either. And now I have no fucking money. Not even change. Nothing. It's just like when I ran out of Ron's house that Sunday morning with Justin and I forgot to take any cash. History just keeps repeating itself -- with me in the role of the Village Idiot.
Well, there's one way of clearing my head.
I start walking west, down Oxford Street, towards Holland Park and the Chatterton.
There was a song Mikey and I used to do with our band back in high school, "Baby, It's a Long Walk Home." Is it ever. It's Saturday afternoon and Oxford Street is like fucking Times Square on New Year's Eve -- noisy, dirty, and surging with people packed shoulder to shoulder. I feel claustrophobic, like they are pressing in on me, and I want to push them all out of the fucking way! I feel like Justin must have felt walking down Liberty Avenue right after he got out of the hospital. Like he wanted to scream every time someone got too close to him.
But I just keep trudging along. My mouth is so dry I can't even work up any spit. I search my pockets for a stick of gum, but all I can find is a condom in an inside pocket. It says that it's 'flavored' and I consider chewing on that, but saner thoughts prevail.
The sidewalks clear a little by Hyde Park. I'm fucking exhausted. I'm filthy. And I feel like death-warmed over. In other words, I'm in exactly the condition I deserve to be in. I look around at the beautiful park and this lovely city and at my disgusting self and think -- "Kinney, take a picture here. Because you should remember yourself in this state. Remember how asinine you feel and how stupid you've acted. Remember what you are fucking up and with whom, just when you are FINALLY getting it right! So, fucking wake up! Because any guy in his right mind would NEVER put up with this kind of shit from you! And Justin IS in his right mind. And it would be just what you deserve if you walked into the hotel suite and found that he has split for good. Just like in that stupid dream -- that fucking vision -- that he had. Where he takes off, and with good reason. And THEN look at yourself in the fucking mirror and SEE that reason!"
I can't tell how fast or how slowly I'm moving by the time I turn down the street off Holland Park and up to the Chatterton. There's a bench out in front of the hotel and I sit there for about five minutes, working up my nerve to go up. Isn't this one of those moments when you are supposed to walk in with a bouquet of roses and an ingratiating smile? I can't manage either in this state, so I just decide to go in and face it like a man.
But the suite is empty. Justin's stuff is still here, but he's out. I don't know whether to be depressed or relieved. In actuality, I'm vibrating. I get a bottle of Evian out of the little fridge and drink it right down. My hands are shaking. I have to grip the bottle not to drop it.
I strip off my clothes and go into the bathroom. A long shower doesn't seem to help me. I try to make the water hotter, but I can't get rid of this agitation. I don't know if it's the aftermath of the dope, or just my own screwed up head, but it doesn't really matter -- the effect is the same.
So, I run water into the bathtub, putting in plenty of the sudsy stuff. And I get in. It actually feels good. Relaxing. I think that if I fall asleep, I'll probably slip under the suds and drown, but I don't really care. I close my eyes.
And that's when Justin comes back.
He looks at me, soaking in this ludicrous bathtub, surrounded by bubbles, and I'm shocked that he doesn't either laugh in my face or turn around and walk out. But he doesn't do either. He sighs and gets into the tub with me, fitting himself against me like the missing piece of a big puzzle. And I lean my head back and close my eyes again.
I wake up early Sunday morning. For the first time in days I don't feel like my head is going to split open, or that I need a drink or a snort of something to keep me from jumping out of my skin. All the shit and booze has pretty much cleared my system and I can breathe clearly and my gut isn't heaving rebelliously. And I'm in the right place. The right room. The right bed.
I roll over. Justin's breathing sounds shallow, congested. I feel his shoulders, his neck. He's fucking burning up!
I give him a little shake and he groans. "I don't think I feel so well," he says, his eyes heavy. "Uh, don't breathe on me! You're too hot!"
And for once, this is NOT good!
This is all my fault, of course! I'm out fucking around and he's running blindly in the rain, all in an upset because he doesn't know where the hell I am! He told me the whole story of going out with Rowan -- who fucking else? -- on their little photo adventure. And Justin got caught in the rain.
I hear him saying to me while we were lying in the tub, "I got soaked to the skin. I'll probably catch pneumonia and die right in this room." And now he IS! It's fucking coming true!
Now I'm panicking. I call the front desk and ask for the doctor on call. But it's Sunday morning -- who knows WHEN he'll get here?
Then I call Sir Ken. Hughie answers.
"I need to talk to Sir Kenneth. Immediately!"
"Not AGAIN! That's two mornings in a row! Don't you two know anyone ELSE in this city to wake up?"
"NO! Now put him on the phone!"
I'm babbling to Sir Ken. I'm not making one fucking word of sense. Because I'm fucking terrified! Because if anything really happens to Justin because I was being a total asshole, because I was out fuck knows where, then I don't know how I'll be able to live with myself. I know payback is a bitch -- but it's supposed to be paying ME back! ME! NOT Justin! Shit!
I'm freaking myself out.
"Brian, for heaven's sake, dear boy! Please be calm! I shall call my own physician and tell him to go over there as soon as he possibly can. But it IS Sunday, you know."
"I KNOW! But just try! I'll be right here waiting!"
In the meanwhile, I'm trying to play nurse -- and failing badly. I try to make some tea with the infuser and spill the fucking hot water all over the carpet. And Justin's hidden all the real drugs, so I can't even find the Tylenol when I really DO need it. Trying to arrange the fucking pillows, I end up knocking Justin in the head with my elbow!
"Please go away," he says, thinking I'm going to kill him next. "Stop fussing over me. It's too hot in here for that." Justin is tossing around on the bed. And I wonder where that goddamn doctor is!
Finally, there's a knock on the door and the hotel doc comes in. He's straight from Central Casting, with the big moustache and the tweed suit in the middle of summer. He looks Justin over, then gets out his thermometer and sticks it in his mouth. "39 degrees," he says.
"39 degrees? What's that in real temperature?"
"A fever," says the doc.
"I KNOW that! What NOW?"
"Plenty of fluids. Here are some aspirins. That will help to bring the fever down. Don't let him get chilled any further. Caught in the rain, was he?"
"Don't go out without your umbrella, young man!" admonishes the doctor. But Justin only blinks at him and groans.
"Aren't you going to give him some antibiotics or something?"
"I see no sign of an infection. Has he been run down, lately? Exhausted? Resistance down?"
"I don't know. Probably," I admit. Run down? Worried sick, is more like it.
"Could be a cold. Or a twenty-four hour virus. Either way, an antibiotic would do no good. I'll check back with you tomorrow morning and we shall see how we are doing, shall we?"
"What about NOW?"
"Just use some common sense. And you -- no getting up and overheating yourself until that fever goes down, do you hear me, young fellow?" He wags his finger at Justin -- like he went out looking to get sick just to ruin this guy's Sunday!
As the doctor is leaving, the elevator opens and Dorian Folco and his little foreign stooge get off. I don't think so. NOT now ! No way.
"Scram, Dorian. I don't want to talk to you right now. Justin is sick."
"I know. I just talked to Kenny."
"Then what are you doing over here? And why did you bring him?" I point to the 'maid.' But he's not wearing his little white housecoat this morning.
"I came to take you back to my house."
I just have to stare at the man. "You've got to be fucking kidding, right? Your timing stinks, Dorian!" I turn and start to go back into the room. "I'm not going anywhere with YOU!"
"Please, let me come in! I need to explain something to you."
"You realize that I have nothing to say to you off set -- especially after the other night?"
"But that's what I wanted to speak to you about. I brought Ivan to stay with the boy while we have a little discussion."
Dorian is planted on my doorstep and isn't leaving until I speak to him. "Five minutes. That's it. Let's go in the back garden -- there should be no one around at this time."
I check on Justin, who is dozing again, and leave Ivan, Dorian's 'maid,' to watch him. "If anything happens, yell out the window. I'll hear you."
"What could happen?" says Ivan, shrugging. "He sleeps!"
"You never know."
Dorian and I go back down the elevator and out the back door into the garden. A few people are having breakfast in the dining room, but otherwise the place is deserted.
"Brian -- er -- haven't you forgotten something." Dorian looks down.
I look, too. My pants are on and fly isn't unbuttoned -- much. "What?"
"You aren't wearing your shoes."
"Well, Brian, people just don't walk around without shoes."
"I do. What the fuck difference does it make? We're not going out to dinner! We're just going to sit here and you're going to tell me why you came all the way over here to see me. I don't need to put on my shoes for that! Jesus!"
"All right, then." Dorian sits on one of the cast-iron benches. I don't particularly want to sit next to him, but I don't have much choice, unless I want to keep pacing back and forth like a tiger in a cage. "I want you to come back to the house with me...." I start to protest, but Dorian puts his hand up. "Because Kenny told me that your friend is ill -- and I don't want YOU to get sick, as well! I'm quite serious about this. We have a full week of shooting coming up, including two location shoots -- one at the Roundhouse, the other at the Hammersmith venue. We cannot do them without YOU -- and you can't do them if you become ill."
"I won't get sick. I promise."
"You don't know that! We are on a tight schedule -- the Hammersmith shoot especially can't be canceled because it's tied into a regularly scheduled concert. I also want you to stay at my place because I don't want any repeats of what happened Friday night. If I have to keep my eye on you myself, I will."
"There won't be any repeats, believe me." In ANY way, I want to add.
"I wish I could be certain of that. If I have to hire a minder for you, I will do so. But I would hate to treat you like someone who can't control himself, Brian. I've already warned Charley Weston that if he and the other band members can't behave, it will go very badly for them. I know that the mystique of acting out in the manner of a real rock star of the period must be very appealing to you. And whatever kind of Method Acting you are doing, I want you to continue with it to get the kind of results I'm seeing. But PLEASE reserve your extra-cinematic antics for AFTER my shoot is finished. Understand?"
"I get it." I'm also surprised. I really didn't think little Dorian had the balls to lay down the law like that. And I respect him for it. As far as it goes.
"Now, you made quite a getaway from the house yesterday. I'm afraid that my houseman, Ivan, was rather intimidated by you."
"Sorry about that. I was in kind of a hurry."
"Perhaps, but there was really no reason to fly out of there like you were guilty of something Brian. Because, believe it or not -- and I'm sure you won't believe it from the way you are responding to my visit -- nothing happened after you got to my house."
Do I believe this guy? I want to believe him. "Really?"
"I'm quite certain, Brian. Unlike you, I was entirely sober. It took myself AND poor Ivan AND the driver just to get you up the stairs. You were in no condition for any further escapades that night, trust me. Unless you think I'm capable of molesting an unconscious man twice my size?"
"Damned if I know, Dorian. Stranger things have happened to me."
"I can imagine that, Brian. But they didn't happen in my house."
"No offense, Dorian, but thank God."
Dorian laughs. "I suppose I should be offended, Brian, but I'm not. I like my partners to be at least cognizant of their surroundings, otherwise it's rather pointless, don't you think?"
"I'm not the one to ask about that, Dorian. Unfortunately." Yes, I can think of one specific individual who isn't too particular about that romantic convention. Funny that they should BOTH be film directors.
"Perhaps you'll try to be a bit more circumspect in the future? For your own peace of mind?"
"I'm trying -- I mean it." And I DO mean it. I really do! "But I'm not leaving the hotel because I'm not leaving Justin. I won't get sick. I promise I won't." I stand up and Dorian stands with me. He really IS so short I almost laugh.
"Unfortunately, Brian, you can't make deals with germs," he cautions as we walk back up to the hotel. "If you DO become ill, you'll play havoc with my shooting schedule. We don't have the kind of money to muck about with that Mr. Rosenblum and Mr. Hardy have out in Hollywood. Please don't cause me any difficulty in finishing this project. It's very important to me -- and to Kenny. And it could be very important to you, as well. To your career. If that means anything to you in the larger scheme of things."
"I don't know, Dorian -- I'm still trying to decide about that. Whether it's all worth it. And whether I'm cut out for all of this. I just don't know."
Dorian regards me seriously. "Make the correct decision for yourself, Brian, and not for anyone else. Oh, and don't let Mr. Rosenblum bully you -- one way or the other."
I frown. "What's Ron got to do with this?"
"That's what I would like to know. But he seems to think that he has some stake in this film and your performance. He's only called me, and my office, and the studio, and even my poor assistant about fifty times since you've arrived in London. I wish you would just take his calls yourself and save my poor ears from his tirades."
"You mean to tell me he's really been calling you?"
"Not simply calling me -- berating me, cajoling me, threatening me, flattering me, insulting me -- I could continue, but it would be useless."
"Christ, I'm sorry about that, Dorian. My fuck ups just go on and on."
"Not your fault at all, Brian. It must be the effect you have on people. And quite an effect that is. But that's something I will wish to discuss with you AFTER the shoot is finished. I think it had better be left until then. But if I can capture exactly that 'interesting' effect -- I believe that Sir Kenneth calls it your 'impact' -- your charisma, if you will -- in my film, it will have been well worth it."
We go up to the room and Dorian collects Ivan and the two of them take off. I stay behind, of course, in the room with Justin. He's dozing fitfully again, but I keep an eye on him. It seems I spend a lot of my time watching Justin sleep. I lay down on the bed and watch him breathe for a while. It's mesmerizing.
About an hour later Sir Ken's doctor arrives. Justin isn't too happy about being poked awake and examined again, but he puts up with it. And this doctor seems a little more concerned about his condition. "You are always correct to be troubled about any bad chill that might settle in the lungs. There's always the possibility of pneumonia, of course, or pleurisy, but it doesn't seem to be as serious as that -- yet. Luckily, the lad seems healthy enough otherwise. And in good hands."
"So you say, but I'm about the most hopeless nursemaid ever! And the thing is, I've got to go to work tomorrow, early. And I don't want to leave him alone the whole day!" I flash on Rowan, sitting in this room, reading my magazines, pawing through my clothes, and handing a feverish Justin a soft drink now and then. "There's no one I trust to stay here with him!"
"I'll arrange for a nurse to come in tomorrow. From, say, 7:00 a.m. until....?"
"How about 6:00 p.m.? Just in case I get delayed at the studio."
"All right, Mr. Kinney. I'll call the service that I normally use for home care. After tomorrow, if there are no further set-backs, he should be as right as rain. Won't you be?" Justin rolls his eyes and grimaces. He's almost as bad a patient as I am a nurse. "That's a stout fellow." And the doctor shakes my hand and goes on his way, leaving behind another pile of aspirin tablets and a bottle of expectorant.
"Please tell me that there are no more doctors coming to stick things in my mouth!"
"You're lucky they didn't stick their thermometers up your ass," I say, stretching myself out next to him and stroking him softly. I prop him up against my arm and he drinks a little of lousy tea I've managed not to spill. He's definitely cooler. And he acts like he's feeling better.
"No way! I've reserved that space," he grins, sleepily. "Especially for you."
"But not right this minute, huh?" He's looking at me, expectantly. I feel like bolting into the bathroom and locking the door, because I don't like having to admit things to him, either good or bad. And although the thing with Dorian could have turned out a lot worse, it's still a fuck up. It's still something that I owe him an explanation for. And apology for.... "Listen, Justin, I know I didn't want to talk about the other night, but I have to tell you that...."
"I already know. Nothing happened with Dorian, right?"
"How the fuck do you know that?"
"Ivan told me. He said that by the time Dorian got you to his place, you were practically unconscious. He helped carry you upstairs. Ivan thinks it's pretty funny how you were trying to sneak out of the house the next day. Ivan is Romanian, you know -- he says he doesn't understand Americans and their guilt. I wish I could have seen it. You don't do guilt very well, Brian." He's giggling at me.
"I'm glad you think it's so funny now. It didn't seem too fucking funny yesterday. Not very funny at all." Yes, I love being the comic centerpiece of a true farce.
"This isn't the end of it, you know," says Justin. "Dorian is still interested in you."
"I don't think so. I must have been imagining it. He turned out to be pretty honorable by not taking advantage of me in my, um, vulnerable condition. He's just a nice guy, after all."
"I'm trying hard to picture you as an outraged virgin in a vulnerable condition, Brian! And maybe Dorian IS a nice guy, but he's still interested in you. Believe me, I'm an expert in guys who have the hots for you. He's just postponing his chance to jump."
"Now THAT'S a startling image -- Dorian in full leap! Probably wearing his Seville Row suit -- the dark gray one, embroidered vest and all! I don't think so, Justin!" That cracks me up. It feels good to laugh. But the laughter winds down into something else. I feel a hiccup, a catch at the back of my throat. I really AM still on the edge of an hysterical fit.
And I can't hide it from Justin. He turns over on his side, facing me. "I really AM okay. It's just a cold, Brian! Please don't freak out anymore. Please don't."
I know. Justin is right -- I don't do guilt very well. Especially when I have so much to be fucking guilty about. Even if it's guilt from past fuck ups. Or the anticipation of those fuck ups still to come. "I'm trying -- not to freak out."
"Good," he sighs. "I hate to spend ALL my time worrying about you."
Yes -- he's worrying about ME. Still. Always. He's the one who is sick -- because of ME -- and he's the one who is worried about me. It amazes me. HE amazes me. But it doesn't stifle my guilt or my fear.
"Brian?" he says, in a tiny voice that sounds very far away. "I want to... I HAVE to... tell you something. Something important. It's... it's something that happened back in...."
I close my eyes. "Forget any of that stuff now. Just go to sleep. You need your rest right now...." But I'm the one who is exhausted now. I can feel the tension draining out of my body. And the relief flooding in. For once, I'm in the right place. I don't have to worry where I'm going to wake up -- or with who. Because I know.
That's the last thing I hear before I fall into my first really good sleep in a long, long time.
Continue on to "The Tyger", the next chapter.
©Gaedhal, August 2002
Updated August 25, 2002