This is Part 3 of Chapter 103 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "Outlaw Blues -- Part 2", the previous section.
The narrator is Brian Kinney, and features Justin Taylor, Debbie Novotny.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Brian and Justin are interrupted at the loft -- and get a surprise in the mail. Pittsburgh, October 2002.
Disclaimer: This is for fun, not profit. Watch Queer As Folk on Showtime, buy the DVDs, videos, and CDs. Read the stories and enjoy.
Justin has been riding my cock for about twenty minutes and we are just getting to the point of no return when....
"Blam blam blam!"
"What the fuck is that?" I say. I know it's the middle of the day, but what the hell? Everyone we know MUST realize that we are in here fucking! I only have three days in the Pitts total, and we've been apart for SIX fucking weeks! I mean, what else would we be doing? Shit!
"Sounds like someone at the door, Brian," says Justin, stopping his movements at exactly the wrong time.
"You think, Sherlock?" I say in frustration.
But Justin only tilts his head at me, quizzically. "They're just going to keep doing it, you know, until you go to the door."
"Jesus. I KNEW there was a good reason I had you get that deadbolt put on! This place is like fucking Grand Central Station! Especially when we're fucking!"
"Should I see who it is?" says Justin, climbing off me. With all these distractions, he's not exactly 'occupied' the way he was only minutes before.
"No, I'll get it. I'm sure it must be my adoring public." At least I know it isn't my goddamn mother again. I haven't even heard from her in almost a year.
"Blam blam blam!" The pounding starts again.
"Sounds like they are clamoring for you, Brian."
I roll my eyes. "Hold your fucking horses!" I yell. "I'm coming! Let me get my pants on for godsake!" I pull on my jeans and button them up about halfway as I walk over.
I slide open the loft door and Deb strolls in, carrying a big bundle of mail and a huge shopping bag full of Italian food, the smell of which permeates the whole building.
"Were you planning to come up for air anytime soon?" asks Deb.
I shoot her my patented smirk. "Hey, we only have THREE days together this trip. Haven't you ever heard of 'time management'? We're making the best use of our time."
Debbie puts her hands on her hips. "I figured that Justin at least might get hungry, so I brought over some lasagna, soup, bread, Italian beans -- and lemon squares for dessert." She sets the bag on the kitchen counter and hands me the mail. "Don't you even bother to pick up your bills?"
"Why should I, when I have you to do it for me?"
"Humph!" she snorts. "Hiya, Sunshine!" Debbie calls to Justin up on the platform. He's in the middle of looking for some clothes in the pile next to the bed.
"Hi, Deb. What's up?"
"Not as much as is 'up' with you, I bet. Or WAS!" she cracks. "Why don't you put your panties on and come down here and find out? I promise I won't look!" Debbie goes to the cupboard and starts to pull out some plates. Then she turns on the oven and shoves the lasagna inside.
"Deb, it's only 3:00 in the afternoon. You think I want to eat dinner this early?"
"Well, let's see," she says. "It's now Tuesday. You got here on Sunday evening. You haven't answered the phone, responded to e-mail, or sent out any messages by carrier pigeon, so I figured that you haven't eaten, either. Now, maybe YOU can live on a diet of 'pure protein' and a couple of shots of Jim Beam, but Sunshine is a growing boy. HE needs food!"
"We have food here! Believe me, if he's hungry, he'll find something to eat. After all, he lives here and does the shopping. AND the cooking."
"Sure -- if you let him out of bed long enough to make something. Hey, Sunshine! Get down here before the soup gets cold!"
Justin comes down the steps, wearing the white short shorts and First Mate tee shirt that were so hot up on the island last summer. We were in the middle of playing pirate earlier. Justin was practicing some of his First Mate moves that are sure to come in handy on the new boat. I brought him pictures of 'La Diva' for his scrapbook. I can picture him sitting on the bow as we cut through the water, the wind blowing his blond hair back.
"Hi, Deb," Justin says, shyly, pulling his tee shirt down a little over his pale stomach. There's no fucking reason for HIM to be embarrassed! Debbie is the one who burst in here unannounced and uninvited. He sits his well-fucked, plush rear end on the stool and Deb pushes a huge bowl of Italian Wedding Soup at him -- with a large spoon. And Justin digs in frantically. I guess he WAS a little hungry at that.
The food smells pretty good, actually, so I sit down next to him. Deb slices off a couple of pieces of Italian bread and butters them, setting them down in front of Justin. She gives me a much smaller bowl of soup and a half slice of the bread, thinly sliced, no butter. She knows me too well. Then she gets out the lasagna and cuts into it.
The more we eat, the happier Deb is. She's always been this way. It's strange. Mikey always says it's an Italian thing. It might be, because my mother never gave a shit if I ate or not. But Lilith is like Debbie, too -- always trying to cram food in you. I guess it's a Mom's way of showing you that they care about you -- but maybe they could do it in a less caloric manner.
Of course, Justin doesn't mind at all. At his age, it doesn't matter what he eats. If I ate like that, I couldn't fit through the door. Justin says that I'm anorexic. But food is one thing I CAN control in my life, when everything else seems out of my hands. If that's anorexia, then maybe I DO have it. But Justin doesn't have any idea -- none at all -- about the pressure to be thin in Hollywood. And not just for women, either. So what if I'm a little paranoid about my weight and my body? But, hell! -- when your naked ass is up on a screen the size of a two-story building it makes you think twice about what you put in your mouth. Food, I mean.
"You could have knocked me over with a fuckin' feather when I saw you at the art show, Brian," says Debbie. "I'm proud of you, kiddo. I really didn't think that you'd do it. I didn't think you'd tear yourself away from all the glitz and glamour to come here to Pittsburgh for Sunshine's big night!"
"Well, Deb, I wanted to go out of my way to undermine everyone's expectations of me as the King Asshole of Western PA. So -- I cut out of the press tour early," I say, nibbling on the sliver of bread. "And now I'm the King Asshole of the Hollywood Press Corps. At least, I'm sure the studio thinks so."
Justin turns to me and looks at me with concern. "You aren't really going to get into trouble, are you, Brian?"
I shrug. "Yeah, they are cutting me out of 'The Olympian' and virtually inserting Brad Pitt into every scene instead." Both Justin and Debbie stare at me, their mouths open. "I'm fucking kidding! Jesus!" I shake my head. "They won't do anything. I'm just missing a few rounds of golf with some rich bitch theater owners. Jimmy is handling all that without me. It's really HIM they want to be with. They don't give a shit about me anyway."
"Well, that Jimmy Hardy must be one great guy, that's all I can say!" Debbie responds emphatically.
Justin chokes a little on his lasagna, stifling a laugh, and I give him a little poke in the ribs in warning. "Yes, Jimmy is a great guy, Deb. Just like he is in the movies. EXACTLY like he is in the movies, in fact."
"Especially in 'The Olympian,'" Justin adds, looking innocent.
I lean over to the Fiend. "Will YOU shut the fuck up already?"
"I didn't say a word," he whispers. But then he smirks back at me.
That's what I get for telling him everything. And I mean everything. Well, what am I supposed to do? He gives me that face and I tell all. After all, he told me about him and that fucking little Wade. So, I have to be honest, too. I never used to do that. It was better to keep Justin guessing. Because it wasn't any of his business. Except that now it IS his business. And the other night, when we got back to the loft after the gallery closing, I found myself telling him every fucking thing I'd done since I left the Pitts back in August. About Ron, obviously. Eugene. Jimmy, of course. The drinking. The drugs. Even about Ramrod. Even that. About a lot of shit I'd been doing that made me feel like... shit.
And Justin surprised me. He didn't freak out. Or start whining like some betrayed housewife. In fact, he didn't act betrayed at all. Or even that surprised. "If that's all, Brian, I'm relieved," he said. "Because I was imagining a lot worse. In fact, I've seen you up to worse stuff here in Pittsburgh. Sometimes right in front of my face!"
"I'm sorry about that, Justin. I...." I don't know what else to say. I've been a jerk in the past and I'm a jerk now. He just knows me too well.
"Don't get me wrong, Brian," he continues. "I HATE what you've been doing and I won't pretend I don't. I can't understand why you would purposely want to hurt yourself in places like that. I know that it's something you do sometimes. But I don't get what the attraction is. "
"I know. I'm an asshole. Always have been, always will...."
"Shut UP! That isn't true! And you say that you feel like shit about it, too. Is that true?"
"Yeah, it's true. What else is new?"
"Just THAT! You feel bad about it. It doesn't make you feel good at all. That wasn't the case only a year ago. You NEVER would have felt bad about anything you did, no matter how it hurt me, or anyone else. Or hurt yourself. Remember? No excuses, no apologies, no regrets?"
"I fucking remember," I said. "You don't have to remind me!"
"Well, your 'philosophy' is bullshit. It isn't true now, if it ever was true for you, really. Your 'pain management' isn't working anymore, Brian. I wonder why?" And he stared right into my face, like a cat that comes right up and looks you in the eye. Or like a fucking psychiatrist.
"How the fuck should I know? But it doesn't. I do know that much."
"Then think about it, Brian. That's YOUR assignment for this trip -- just like you gave me a question to think about when we went to England -- Why were you taking me with you? And it turned out to be a no-brainer. You took me with you because you love me!"
I winced a little at that. It sounded so... not like me. "You think?"
"Yes. It's always been a no-brainer, Brian. You only have to admit it to yourself."
"Thanks, Doc -- you've saved me from a whole new round of therapy."
"We'll see," Dr. Justin had said, rolling over on top of me, which ended the conversation in the way I always like to end head-splitting conversations -- with another round of vigorous fucking.
And now Justin is making jokes about Jimmy! Fuck! Luckily, Debbie is clueless about what he means. But that doesn't mean that everyone else in the world is clueless, too. As Jimmy is going to find out if he doesn't watch his step!
While Justin finishes up another lemon square and Debbie watches him eat, I look through the mail. Deb is right -- it's mainly bills. I put them aside for Cynthia to deal with. Even with her new position as a Junior Account Exec, she's still doing my shit work. I make a note in my head to send her something real nice. I'll have to ask Justin what he thinks would be good for her. He has good taste. A good, artistic eye.
"Hey! Is the new 'Vanity Fair' out yet?" says Justin, reaching for a magazine that has just come in the mail. But it's the latest 'Esquire.' "When is it coming, Brian?"
"I should think any day now. That's what Eugene said."
"What's this about 'Vanity Fair'?" asks Deb, wiping up the counter like a true professional.
"Brian is on the cover!"
"We THINK I'm on the cover. If I don't get kicked off by Saddam Hussein in his new Holiday wardrobe," I put in.
"No, Brian -- you KNOW it's definite! He's on the cover, Deb, with an interview and a whole photo spread inside! And I was at the photo shoot, with Gus and Lindsay, back in June. The photographer even took some pictures of Brian with me and Gus. It was amazing!"
"Are you really going to be in this magazine, hon?" Deb looks surprised.
I thought everyone already knew all this stuff. I guess I've been away from the Pitts longer than I thought. I take for granted that everyone here knows the ins and outs of my career as a fucking movie star! "Yes, Deb. And there will probably be a couple more covers, too. That's what Jimmy says."
Justin's head whips around. "Really? Like what else?"
"Maybe 'Premiere' -- Jimmy and I did a shoot for that last week. Or it might just be Jimmy. And 'Entertainment Weekly.' Possibly 'Movieline.' We did photo sessions for all those -- but that doesn't mean they'll use the pictures at all, let alone on the covers."
"Awesome! I have to start a scrapbook! I didn't even think of THAT before!" says Justin, jumping off the stool.
"Hey, maybe you can start a new art project featuring all my most embarrassing press clippings? You can begin with all the tabloid covers from my arrest in England," I say. But Justin only makes a face at me.
But Deb won't let it alone. "I have to tell Vic! You know how he is about movie stars. And now he knows one personally! He's got the VCR set up to tape anything that mentions the movie. He's already got a couple of things from 'Access Hollywood'!" Debbie puts a lemon square down in front of me. "YOU eat that!"
"The camera puts on twenty pounds, Deb! This lemon square will make me look like Raymond fucking Burr."
"In YOUR case, Brian, putting on twenty pounds will only make you look human! You are TOO skinny. Listen to me!"
"Yes, Mom," I mutter.
"Hey! When you are in the Pitts, I AM your mom! And don't you forget it!"
And I never CAN forget that. Deb always has been much more of a mother to me than my own. Joanie Kinney has made that very clear with her thunderously silent replies to all my attempts to communicate with her recently. What the fuck.
I open the rest of the mail while Debbie cleans up and Justin helps her. I put aside a few letters and pieces of junkmail for Justin. Then I pick up a padded mailer, covered with British stamps. "Justin -- here's something for you from Dorian."
He comes over and looks. "That's funny. What would Dorian send to me?" He turns over the package in his hands.
"Open it and find out!" Now, I'm curious as a cat.
"Who is this guy? Some fan of Justin's?" Deb laughs.
"No. He's the director of that film I did in London. 'Hammersmith." I can't imagine what he's sending Justin." Then it dawns on me -- I asked Dorian to look into art and design schools over there. In case we really wanted to relocate, the way Dorian wants us to. Maybe he's tempting Justin with some brochures.
"It's a CD." Justin slips it out of the mailer and his eyes get huge. "Oh my God!"
"Well? What the fuck is it?" I almost grab the thing out of his hand.
"The soundtrack to 'Hammersmith'!" And he holds it up for Deb and me to see.
"The WHAT?" I say. This is a new one on me.
"The soundtrack, Brian! Every film has a soundtrack! What do you think you spent all that time in the recording studio for?"
"For the FILM, that's what! Not for any CD. Let me SEE that!" I fumble with the shrink-wrap. These fucking CD's are wrapped up tighter than a regular-sized condom on my dick! I finally tear the thing open and get the booklet out. "Oh, no!" I recognize all the music, of course. All the shit we recorded for the concert scenes, plus some other tracks for various other parts of the film. But to have those fucking songs -- most of them with MY hideous voice on them! -- on a real CD that people might buy... THAT I didn't expect. Not in a million fucking years! I just stare at the thing.
"Brian," says Justin. "There's more." He pulls something else out of the mailer. A note from Dorian -- and another CD. "A single! Look at it! It's amazing!"
"Brian!" squeals Deb. "You're a real rock star! Just like Jim Morrison!"
"I don't think so, Debbie. First, I don't have any talent. And second, I'm not dead. Yet."
"Brian, look at these covers," says Justin. "This photo must be what they're using for the poster. Look at it! I don't see Sir Kenneth on here, Brian! Just YOU!"
I look. It's me, all right -- I mean, it's James Hammersmith. The top part of my torso and the bottom part of my face, against a black background. The black vest. And in the center, that red heart charm, the light from the camera flash sparking off it like electricity. Across the bottom it says 'Hammersmith -- The Toughest Thing on Earth is Love.' "Jesus," is all I can say.
"Brian! This is the coolest thing YET!" Justin reaches over and touches the charm hanging from my neck. "Did you know they were going to do this? Put out a CD and everything? And use the heart in the photo."
"You must be joking. I don't know a fucking thing! I don't even remember them taking that picture. But I wore this every day, so I imagine it's in every scene I'm in. They must have thought it was a 'symbolic' part of my costume!" I look at Justin and touch his hand, fingering the charm.
"Let's hear it!" suggests Deb.
"Please, Debbie -- no!"
"Yes!" shouts Justin. And he runs over to the system with the CD single and puts it on. I only pray it isn't that awful song Charley Weston wrote. The one he kept saying was going to be a huge hit and salvage his career! Sure.
The second I hear the first note I know what it is. And it isn't Charley Weston's song, either. It's one of the covers we did. One I had on the reference tape I made to get into the period 'mood.'
"I know this song!" exclaims Deb. She ought to -- it's from the early 1970's. A ballad called 'Baby Blue.' Dorian said we needed a ballad to play over one of the quieter scenes and I suggested it. Justin recognizes it, too. He only heard that tape about a thousand times when I was trying to memorize all the songs we were doing for the film. But Justin knows something else about this song. That I pulled it out when he was working on his found art project and couldn't stop playing the Dylan song, 'It's All Over Now, Baby Blue.' This song is like a follow up to that. Or an answer. My own answer to Justin about a lot of different shit. From a great, but doomed band called Badfinger.
"Brian! It sounds great!" Justin is beaming. It's like the words were written about him. About me.
"Is that really you, Brian? How come you don't sound off-key? You and Mikey were ALWAYS off-key when you had that band together!" says Debbie.
"Then it must have been all Mikey, Deb!" I say. Actually, it must be something the producers have done in the studio, because I don't sound as bad as I feared.
"Badfinger! That's the name!" says Debbie. "I was trying to think of the name of the group that did this. I used to love this song. I haven't heard it in years!"
"Brian picked it out for them to do," says Justin, looking at me. "I think it's going to be a big hit!" And Deb smiles at him. He's so full of enthusiasm. It makes me afraid for him sometimes.
Deb finishes cleaning up, putting the leftovers in the refrigerator, and then she gets ready to go home. Meanwhile, Justin plays with the soundtrack, clicking around the different tracks, listening and laughing. He spins around the room, dancing like a punk, pogoing and looking for someone to slam into.
I sit at the counter, reading the CD booklet and gazing at the cover. Ron is going to shit, I think. Even the soundtrack for 'Hammersmith' has beaten 'The Olympian' into the public eye -- at least in England. And that heart charm right on the fucking cover. He hates that charm because Justin gave it to me. Ron will really shit!
I read Dorian's note to Justin. It says that he wishes Justin were coming for the premiere, but here's the soundtrack, to be released over there today. Apparently, the single is already receiving airplay! And he mentions next summer. And how Justin should encourage me to go to London. Permanently.
Debbie gives me a kiss at she picks up her purse. "Are you two ever planning to leave this room before you have to go away again?"
I sigh. "Probably not. I'm not really here, anyway. Remember that. I slipped away without permission. I'm supposed to be invisible."
"Well, you better at least give Michael a call before you go. And Lindsay. Or else neither of them will ever speak to you again, Brian."
"I will, Deb. And thanks for the food."
"Don't mention it." I escort Debbie to the door and shove it open.
"Bye-bye, Sunshine!" she calls.
He stops whirling for a moment. "Goodbye, Deb!" And then he continues careening around the loft.
Debbie steps out and I push the button to call the elevator. "So, rock star," she says. "Where to next?"
"Over there. London. For the 'Hammersmith' premiere. Then New York for the talk shows. Then Los Angeles for the premiere of 'The Olympian' in November. And you'll be there. You and Vic."
"And what about Sunshine? Where will HE be?"
I rub my forehead. I can feel the headache to come. "I don't know, Deb. But I know it's safer for him to stay here. At least for now."
"Safer than what? What IS going on out there in California? Is it Ron -- or something else? And what about YOU, kiddo? Is it safe for you?"
"Of course, Deb. I'm fine. I'm always just fine."
Her eyes narrow. "You fucking worry me more than all of the others put together, you know that?" I shrug. "Something is wrong here, although everything SEEMS so right. TOO right. TOO good. But I can feel something in my bones," Deb says.
Fuck! Now Debbie is sounding like that fucking Fiona! I'm surrounded by females who all have psychic 'feelings'! Fiona. Diane, always on my case about Ron. And now Debbie. "Maybe you need some Extra-Strength Tylenol for that 'feeling'?"
"Don't be smart, Brian. BE CAREFUL," she says, taking my face between her red-nailed hands and squeezing it. "I mean it. Usually I'm so busy being worried about what you are going to do to Sunshine that I'm not thinking about YOU for yourself."
"Thanks for the vote of confidence."
"Your track record isn't the best, hon, let's face it. But now that you've admitted to yourself -- and to HIM -- that you love him...." she sees me balk, but she keeps pushing. "...that you DO love him, you're doing better. Justin is doing okay, too -- even I have to concede that. Maybe even better than okay. But now -- I have a bad feeling sometimes, Brian."
The elevator clatters to a stop and I pull back the grill for her to get in. "Your chariot, madame."
"Listen to me, Brian. You can still fuck up big time, kiddo! So, please don't."
"Tell me something I don't know, Deb." But she just stares at me, evenly. "I'll try. You know, Deb, underneath your sophisticated exterior, you are just another little old Italian woman in a black dress, afraid of the Evil Eye," I say, trying to get her to laugh.
But she isn't even smiling. "Be careful, Brian. That's all I'm saying." And I close the grill and she goes down.
I walk back into the loft and Justin is standing at the music system, taking the CD out and putting the single back into the tray. "You didn't tell me that you guys even recorded this song, Brian," he says. "Isn't this the song you said reminded you of me?"
"I guess I forgot to tell you. I had a lot on my mind over in England," I say. Like almost completely fucking my life up over there!
"What was the name of the guy who wrote this song? The one who killed himself?" So, Justin does listen when I spout off about music.
"Pete Ham. He wrote a bunch of great songs. But he obviously didn't think it was enough. Not enough to make him want to stay alive," I reply. And the real problem is that I understand the feeling. I've been there myself. More than once.
Justin presses the panel and the song plays. I have to admit that it sounds good. Not my crummy voice, of course, but the production. The ringing guitars. The tension in the drums. The sound fills up the loft. He comes over and pulls me along with him, to move with him. 'Baby Blue.' It's a ballad, but it has more kick to it than that. It's not exactly something to slow dance to, but we do anyway.
"Guess I got what I deserve,
Kept you waiting there too long, my love.
All that time without a word --
Didn't know you'd think that I'd forget,
Or I'd regret,
The special love I had for you --
My Baby Blue.
All those days became so long,
Did you really think I'd do you wrong?
Baby, when I let you go,
Thought you'd realize that I would know,
I would show,
The special love I had for you --
My Baby Blue.
What can I do, what can I say?
Except I want you by my side.
How can I show you, show me your way?
Don't you know the times I've tried?
Guess that's all I have to say,
Except the feeling just grows stronger every day.
Just one thing before I go --
Take good care, Baby, and let me know,
Let it grow,
The special love you had for me --
My Blue Baby.
The special love I had for you --
My Baby Blue."
"Looks like I'm going to hear this fucking song everywhere I go when I'm in London," I breathe, moving closer to him. He's got the damn CD player on repeat, so the song begins to play again.
"Good thing. Since I can't be there with you, maybe this is the next best thing." He eases his First Mate tee shirt over his head and tosses it on the sofa. "If you think I'm everywhere, watching you, you won't get into any trouble."
"I never get into trouble!" I insist. "At least, not recently."
"You mean, not in the last two days, Brian. That's because you've been here, under my house arrest," Justin says. "But tomorrow...." he trails off.
"Not until tomorrow night. I'm not leaving until late. Really late," I say, trying to believe it. The last possible flight that would still get me into Los Angeles in time to make that photo shoot on Thursday. I'll look like hell after the red-eye, but making me look alive is THEIR problem.
"Three fucking days, Brian! It seems like it's been three hours!"
"Well, then, let's not waste anymore time."
"Eating wasn't exactly a waste of time," Justin reminds me. "Debbie's right -- I DO have to eat, even if you can live on air. Or -- what did she say? -- on come and Jim Beam?"
"'Pure protein' and Jim Beam! And don't knock it until you've tried it, Sunshine. How do you think I've kept my girlish figure?"
"It doesn't feel so 'girlish' to me, Brian. Thank God." He feels along my waist and down the back of my jeans to my ass. His finger brushes along my crack and it gives me the fucking shivers. I want to grab him and throw him down on the sofa -- but I wait. This is his production now. Let him do the directing. And I'll follow.
I guess I was born to take direction from someone. Maybe that's the secret, after all. I just have to find the right one to take charge. To show me what to do. To give me the right cues. And Justin is giving me a few. Just a few little cues to make me understand what I want. What I need.
But sometimes a little bit is just the right amount. The perfect amount.
"The special love I had for you --
My Baby Blue."
Continue on to "Most Likely You Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine -- Part 1", the next chapter.
©Gaedhal, December 2002.
Send Gaedhal any comments, critiques, suggestions. I welcome all of your feedback on this chapter.
Updated January 7, 2003.