PARTLY CLOUDY, CHANCE OF RAIN

"A Queer As Folk USA FanFic"

by Gaedhal

This is Part 2 of Chapter 68 in the "Queer Theories" series.

Go back to "Partly Cloudy, Chance of Rain -- Part 1", the previous section.

I haven't been paying to much attention to the 'party games' that Sybil and her little friends are playing. Harry and I have been focusing on our Scrabble game. I mean, there are more exciting ways to spend an evening, but it's nice to be reassured that your brain is still working now and then, especially when surrounded by a bunch of meatheads like Gerry Milton and his guests. I mean, Sir Ken is an intelligent guy, but he's way too into the campy aspects of queer interaction. And the rest of them -- excepting Harry. of course -- are just too affected for my taste.

I enjoy talking to Harry while we play. He's down-to-earth and he's bright. He's probably got the least formal education of anyone in the room, including Justin, but he has street smarts. He was a working class kid who had to fight for everything he's got -- unlike Gerry, who came from a rich family and has had everything handed to him on a sterling silver platter with a Victorian hallmark. I think it's deliciously ironic that Harry is more famous, richer, and also an altogether nicer human being than the legend-in-his-own-mind that is Gerard Milton.

"Kenny and I first worked together at the Bristol Old Vic. That's before Kenny got his knighthood, of course. They keep saying that I'll get one someday, but they don't hand out such honors to old soap opera hacks like me."

"Harry, aren't those things bullshit anyway? Political pay-offs? Richard Burton never got one and who was a greater actor than he was?"

"But all the scandals, my dear!"

"So? How does that negate his greatness on stage or on screen? So he screwed Elizabeth Taylor? Who cares?"

"They did care, back in those days."

"Then how in hell did John Gielgud get a knighthood? Wasn't he arrested in a public toilet for 'lewd behavior'?"

"Oh, but they hushed that up. And if isn't published, it didn't happen. That's the rule, Brian."

"Bollocks," I say, causing Harry to laugh out loud.

Shit! It should have been Harry I was fucking back in 1991! Now, THAT might have actually turned into a really great memory, instead of just a vague one. But I never could have appreciated someone like Harry back then. He would have been too old, not 'hot' -- not anything that I would have recognized as interesting or valuable. I was focusing on the superficial even then. I felt my chance had gone by and I'd already given up on finding anything deeper ever again. After Ron. At twenty years old. Goddamn.

But is it any different now? Am I any different now?

I had thought -- had hoped -- that things would be different with Ron. But that was hopeless from the beginning. Wasn't it? Or did I make it hopeless with my own stubbornness? My own emotional numbness? My own fear? I said things to him, told him things I never thought I'd say, never thought I'd tell, to anyone. My weaknesses. My insecurities. The guilt. The drugs. The roots of all my fucked up behavior. Ron knew all the secrets I'd kept hidden all those years from everyone but a tiny few -- Deb, Vic, Mikey -- and he used them all against me. At least -- that's the way it feels now.

And then there was always the little obstacle of Justin. That I could NOT make myself let him go. Calling him every time I got drunk -- which was often. Making it obvious -- too obvious -- when I was thinking about him. Making poor Ron crazy. That was all my own fault. I thought it wouldn't matter -- that Justin wouldn't matter -- once he was out of my sight. I was dead wrong.

But I hate all this self-analysis. It makes my head hurt and my dick soft.

And Harry is beating me at Scrabble because I can't concentrate.

That Billy Phillips-Smythe and his sister are sitting near us, supposedly watching us play. BOTH of them are batting their eyes at me. Coordinate this thing, kids, I want to say. Billy -- clue your sister in. Adele is pretty, but she's the classic straight girl who falls for one fag after another. You can read it all over her. I'm sure she thinks she's in love with Gerry, too. Especially since she's co-starred with him in a couple of plays and seems to be his most recent 'beard.'

But Harry treats the two of them like surrogate children. Billy is, apparently, just out of RADA. I should have known -- my drama student magnet must still be in effect. He's a dish, that isn't in doubt, and he'll probably hook up with some big producer or actor and polish his career while he polishes the guy's pole. That seems to be the way it works here. Jesus, look who is talking. As if the only reason I am here in the first place, got this part, or ended up in 'The Olympian,' was NOT because I was sleeping with Ron, or even let Sir Ken have his way with me. Yes, I can certainly stand back, pure as the driven slush, and point at everyone else.

Harry helped Billy get into the Royal Academy, just like he helped his sister, and Gerry, of course, long before them. Their parents are old friends of Harry's. In seems that everyone in the British theater is an old friend of Harry's, while everyone else is an old fuck of Gerry's. They are quite a couple.

After we got back to the room after riding -- and after other things, as well -- I was asking Justin if he didn't think Harry and Gerry were an odd pairing. Whether they really seemed like a 'couple' to him. Because I can't picture it. Some guys, yes, I can see it -- what attracts them, maybe even what keeps them together. But not these two, Harry is such an old softie -- and Gerry is such a shit.

"How does he stand it?" I say, reaching for a cigarette from a pack on the bedside table. "Harry is such a nice guy. How does he put up with Gerry? And for seventeen fucking years? That's the thing I really can't figure out."

"I guess a lot of people would wonder that about a lot of relationships," Justin says, taking the cigarette out of my hand before I can even light it. He puts it back in the pack and sticks it in the drawer. "Especially if one of the people fucks around a lot. And the other puts up with it. I guess people must laugh at the one who puts up with it. For being so naive. Or such a fool. But a person might not be able to help it. It might be a choice between being with someone and constantly humiliated -- or being alone and constantly miserable without the person they love." He says it without any irony, of course. Justin is almost never ironic. Just completely honest. He leaves the obvious irony to my own thoughtless commentary.

Leave it to Justin to take the knife and turn it right back at me. While I'm identifying with good old Harry, Justin is -- rightly -- seeing that I'm actually just another Gerard Milton. Better looking, of course, and not such a phony -- I hope -- but the exact same kind of worthless asshole. And, it seems, there's always some good person -- maybe even more than one -- willing to put up with such a shit. Willing to continually forgive. And be regularly hurt -- just like Justin said. Just like Justin.

And this is where I should say something. Something meaningful. Something that will negate all that hurt and change it into something worthwhile. Make a bold move. Actually tap into some kind of dormant emotion....

But -- I don't. Instead, I go and take a shower.

And now it's Saturday night and the games are afoot. Sybil's psychic friend, Fiona, seems to be a pet-peeve of Gerry's. They all know each other from school or the same social set or something and Gerry is pissed that this Fiona is claiming to have some kind of mystical powers. Of course, it's total horseshit, but the woman has the whole group playing along with her act. Even Adele and Billy go over to watch the fun, while Harry and I stick to the Scrabble game. He's still fucking beating me, too.

I pretty much ignore what's going on. I'm vaguely aware that Justin has volunteered for some little demonstration. That is where I should have stepped in and ended it. But I let it go. I'm concentrating on my game, so I let them concentrate on theirs.

Until I hear Justin wailing.

Not just yelling, or even crying. Not at all. This is something eerie. Something primal. The moment I hear it, I stand up. Because I've heard this sound before. In the hospital, when Justin was in the rehab unit, having nightmares that would have shaken anyone to the bone.

"What the fuck is going on here?! What do you think you are doing to him?!" I practically knock over the coffee table and send a big candle spinning onto the floor. Albert catches the thing before it burns the fucking place down.

"Why we haven't done a thing to him," the woman claims. "He was merely looking at his alternate future. The other stream that could have happened, but did not."

What is she talking about all these streams and futures and such shit? I threaten to deck both of them right there. Albert and Gerry literally stand up and move to hold me back, but they stop when they see that I'm not going after the women, but moving to pick Justin up off the fucking floor where he is cowering.

"Don't you know that he's still on medication? That he was attacked by some psychopath last year and almost fucking KILLED? And you are putting these stupid thoughts into his head? Don't you fucking people have better things to do?" I'm ranting by now. I know I am and I don't care. Because I'm scared for Justin. And Justin is terrified -- I can smell the terror on him and I can't even imagine what it is that these witches have put into his head -- or released.

I practically carry him up the stairs. Gerry is following at my heels, apologizing and saying all kinds of crap to try and make it better. I just ignore him and don't even turn around. When I get inside the room I lock the door. If I could bolt it and nail it shut, I'd do that, too.

"What's the matter, Justin? What did you see? You can tell me," I say. Is it possible that Fiona somehow opened up his memories of being bashed and they all came pouring out? He's never been too clear about exactly what he remembers. How much -- or how little. Maybe I should push it, really ask him about it, but I don't. I'm not so much afraid that HE can't handle it as I am certain -- no, as I KNOW that I can't handle it.

"I saw myself. It was me. What I did." He's staring into space, then covering his face with his hands. I try to pull his hands down, to make him look at me. I shake him -- just a little -- to get him to stop and think and not get all hysterical.

"Justin -- you haven't done anything! It was some fantasy they planted in your mind! Whatever you saw wasn't real at all. It's a stupid game made up by some stupid people. It's hypnotism. Or suggestion. But it isn't YOU!"

"No," he says, his voice giving me a chill up my back. "It was a DIFFERENT me. I wanted to see what things would have been like if you hadn't left. And it was horrible. I made it horrible! I ruined everything! You were right to leave me and go to California, Brian. You probably never should have come back! Because I'M the one who ruins everything! I AM!"

I just stare at him. You know those British taxis that come flying at you from the wrong side of the road? The ones I warned Justin about? Well, I feel like I've just been hit full force with one. This is the last thing I expected. It isn't about the bashing at all. It's about -- me. Some kind of guilt about everything that has happened that he's displacing onto HIMSELF. Like he needs to think that he's at fault, somehow, instead of me. I don't even know where to start with this one. I don't know what the fuck to SAY!

"What can I do to convince you, Justin? YOU haven't done ANYTHING! I'M the fucking asshole around here, remember? The one who is always screwing up? The one YOU have to take care of? Why would you act any other way, be any other person, other than what you are? It isn't in your nature, Justin. You are who you ARE -- and THIS is it. You aren't any other way. You aren't IN any other place. THIS is where you are -- where we BOTH are! Are you listening to me?" I'm fucking begging now. "Do you even HEAR me? Justin?"

He's just staring ahead, the tears and snot running down his face like it will never stop. I don't know what else to say! I get some tissues and wipe his face, make him blow his nose. Then I get him into bed. He's much quieter now -- but that's only on the surface. This isn't just a small upset -- this is a fucking earthquake!

As much as I don't really want to leave the room, I go downstairs and straight to the kitchen. Travers and the cook are sitting in there, having a smoke. They jump up when I walk in. Guests aren't supposed to just wander into the servant areas, but what the fuck. I explain that Justin is ill. They are both immediately concerned. The cook is a fat woman with a Welsh accent and a kindly red face. She wants to make something for him, but I just want milk, maybe toast, something easy on his stomach that he's not going to just throw right up at me. Travers wants to call the local doctor, but I tell him it isn't necessary -- yet.

The cook heats up the milk and puts it into a container, then gives me a tray. Travers wants to carry it up for me, but I refuse. I don't think Justin wants to see the butler again right now. And I want to kick myself for that stupid stunt yesterday when Travers walked in on us. Justin is right -- I don't even have the fucking intelligence to be embarrassed. Something is majorly wrong with me.

Harry is waiting for me at the bottom of the staircase.

"Brian, I'm so sorry. Sybil feels just dreadful. And Fiona...."

"Harry, I don't even want to think about them, because if I did I might do something drastic."

"Sybil really feels...."

"Excuse me, but FUCK Sybil! And Fiona! And the whole crowd of them! What did they THINK would happen when they play games like that? I don't know WHAT they made Justin think he saw, but he'll be having nightmare for weeks -- maybe months -- to come. And he already has enough to deal with." Besides having to deal with me, I want to add.

"I'm really so sorry -- I had no idea he'd been in a bad accident."

"It was no accident, Harry. Another kid tried to kill him. Tried to smash his head in with a baseball bat. You know what that is, don't you?"

Harry nods. "Like a round cricket bat. Yes, I know."

"And why did the other kid do it, Harry? Because Justin's a queer -- that's why. Because at eighteen years old he had more balls than entire cities full of closet cases -- or semi-closet cases. Because he refused to hide what he was. Or even think of hiding it, even to make his life a lot fucking easier. Another fraction of an inch and he would have been a vegetable -- that's what the doctor said. I don't know what kind of vegetable... I...I...." Now I'M starting to feel the anxiety rising up in myself. I need another pill. Or two. And about five shots of Jim Beam. But I can't give in to it now. I can't AFFORD to give in to it now and fail Justin. Or fail myself.

I turn and walk up the stairs. Harry doesn't try to follow me.

I make Justin drink the milk -- most of it -- and eat the toast. He's not hysterical and he doesn't puke everything up, so that's one step forward.

I pull my clothes off and get into bed with him. He's just staring into space, completely still. I'm trying to imagine exactly what it was that has freaked him out -- because it's freaking ME out. I've dealt with a lot of upset in his life and my own, but this has seemingly come out of the blue, and that makes it even more frightening.

"I don't even want to know what you think you saw, Justin -- but do you realize now that it wasn't real?" He nods. "That woman is a hypnotist, I'm sure of it. She made you see weird things and imagine other things out of your unconscious. It's just like having a bizarre dream."

But he isn't buying it. To him what he saw is all too real. It has something to do with some guy he saw in this vision. Some guy he apparently fucks and then goes off with. Like that would ever happen... like I would ever LET it happen....

"Don't even think it. Don't even dream it," I whisper to him. As if I even have the right to dictate anything like that! "You say this person was dark, short. Sounds like that Billy Whatshisname. You met him at lunch and probably thought he was kind of hot, and so he appeared in this dream you had. That's all it was."

"No, it wasn't Billy," he insists. "This guy was nothing at all like Billy. He was... someone completely different. He told me I was... everything he needed. That I was his... inspiration." He almost chokes, saying it.

Damn! This IS the kind of stuff he dreams about hearing! All this romantic bullshit. What can I say to stuff like that? This is coming out of his subconscious, I know it is. Is this some weird way of trying to get ME to say all that same bullshit? I don't know -- he's not manipulative like that, not at all. But if he doesn't even know that is what's happening... then maybe that's what he's truly feeling, what he really wants. And he knows I won't say that stuff, that I can't be like that. No wonder he's breaking up. No wonder this 'vision' is tearing him apart.

What the fuck am I going to do?

Maybe we should go back to London and I should just send him home. Admit that this whole thing was -- is -- a huge fucking mistake. Give him a chance to find somebody who CAN say that shit. Can be that guy who is in his dream. All that stuff is coming from somewhere -- it must be what he's been suppressing all this time, dreaming about all this time. Wanting all this time.

Why can I picture that goddamn Rowan saying JUST this kind of shit to Justin? Plying him with those platitudes and stupid, meaningless phrases that are so handy for getting someone who is impressionable and romantic right into the sack. You can say a lot of things about me, but I have NEVER stooped to such crummy and bullshit tactics! Never!

I thought I was doing something good for Justin back in December when I made the run to California. Giving him a chance to play the field. Have a little fun, like a nineteen year old should be doing. Or a chance to look for a real relationship, if that's what he really wanted. I even thought -- oh, so wrongly! -- that he and Michael had 'found' each other. I really believed it because I guess I wanted to think that those two -- who I cared about the most -- could be happy with each other. It just made so much sense to me! And it was so completely wrong-headed!

But Justin didn't take his 'chance'! He didn't want that kind of 'choice.' Instead, he waited for me to come to my fucking senses! Waited all those long, stupid months while I was a total, self-destructive dick!

So, now what? He's quiet for a while and I think he's finally sleeping. I close my own eyes.

And then -- he truly freaks me out. The thought of this other world he was dreaming about, this other man he thinks he left me for -- that is minor compared to what's coming up.

"Brian?"

"What?" Why isn't he sleeping? I should tear through his fucking luggage and find those pills! I know he's got my sleeping pills in there. We both could use a double dose right now!

"Were you really at the hospital for three whole days after they brought me in?"

I freeze. "Who told you that?"

"It was in my vision." His voice is so far away, like it's in another universe.

I take a deep breath. "Someone must have told you. Mikey, maybe," I say, not believing a word I'm saying. Michael would never tell him that. Ever. First, he's too jealous of Justin and me to share that. Because only Michael knows the whole story. How long I was there. Where I was. What I was doing... feeling. How I was dying.... "You just forgot it until now."

"No. No one told me. And I would never have forgotten something like that. Especially about you."

Like I wish I could forget those three days that seemed more like three fucking years. Instead, I say, "We forget a lot of things."

"Not that."

No. Not THAT. Who ever could?

"Brian?"

"Now what?" Christ, there can't be more.

"Did you really come to the hospital every night and watch me when I was in the rehab unit?"

Someone has just sucked all the air out of this room. Out of my lungs. Out of my life. "Who told you THAT?"

"I saw it -- in the other time stream. Is it true? My mother knew, too. Why didn't SHE tell me? Or you? After all this time?"

I can't answer him. Can't answer at all.

"Then it really DID happen?" Justin whispers. "You really WERE there every night? While I was asleep?"

"What does it matter now?" Yes! What does it matter? Except -- it matters a fucking LOT! Because no person here could have known that! HE couldn't have known that. Fiona, the super psychic, couldn't have known it to put into his head. Unless she's tapping into MY mind. Into my worst fears, nightmares.

But now he KNOWS. That I was there. How is he going to READ that -- especially when I don't know myself what it means? Why I did it. It didn't help anything. It didn't do him any good -- did it? There was NOTHING that I could do that was any help. I know it -- and he must know it, too. I couldn't let him know I was there. My own guilt wouldn't allow it. I couldn't let him SEE that it was all my fault. Everything that happened.

"How could I have known that you were there, Brian, if that other time wasn't true, too? If that other ME wasn't true? If what I was seeing wasn't somehow true?"

"Because it's bullshit!" I explode. He's believing these fantasies, these lies! My head is pounding, my hands are shaking like mad. "It could never happen! It DIDN'T happen, Justin! The only thing that has ever happened is HERE and NOW. Isn't that enough?"

But he's convinced HE is in the wrong somehow. That he fucked US up somewhere in this 'other' world -- which is impossible, of course, in ANY possible world. "WE all have it in us to screw up, Justin. We can all fuck up! But YOU didn't. You're the only one who does it RIGHT! Please believe that! Aren't you making sure that I don't fuck up?"

"But who will make sure I don't fuck up, too? Like I did in that other place?" His voice is so small, so unsure. To see him reverting like this -- it's ripping my insides right out of me.

"I guess that will be up to me. So, we'll both have to stumble along like a couple of jerks and try not to fall off any cliffs, okay?"

"Or push each other off any fucking cliffs?" He sits up a little and looks at me, intensely. "Do you promise NEVER to do that to me -- EVEN if you think it's for my own good?"

He knows me so well. He saw me do it to Mikey -- and he knows I'm perfectly capable of doing it to him. In fact, I already HAVE done it to him -- back in December when I made my ill-timed 'escape' with Ron. But Justin hung on to the edge of that fucking cliff and refused to fall. Instead, he climbed right back up, dusted himself off, and came after me! And here we are.

"I promise I won't do it. No cliffs. I mean, why would I do that to myself?" Yes, it's always all about me, isn't it? "I'm too much of a selfish bastard to kick my own ass like that. Besides, I don't like to throw away my prize possessions." I give him a little squeeze. "Someone else might try to take them. And then they are too hard to get back."

He's quiet after that, but probably more from exhaustion than really listening to what I'm saying. Because what I'm saying is the same shit that I always fall back on. The smart-ass remark. The joking around. But one thing is true -- if Justin ever goes there will be no getting him back. He'll find out what an asshole I really am by comparing me to someone who gives him what he thinks he wants, tells him what he wants to hear. WHY do I keep picturing that fucking Rowan? Because he's another guy with access to the Irish bullshit gene? Because he's there ALL THE TIME -- and will be hanging around when I have to be away all day? Right -- this is the jealousy that I DON'T do. No, not at all!

"You are all I need." Where does that stuff come from?

Finally, Justin is asleep. I get up and -- jerk that I am -- immediately begin searching through his suitcase for those fucking pills. Why am I doing it? Because I NEED the fucking things. Right now. But they aren't there. Not even an aspirin. I can't find Justin's medication, either. He knows too well that I'd even take that, I'm so screwed up.

I put on my robe and go downstairs. It might still be possible to coax a drink out of Harry -- if he's still awake.

The drawing room is empty. The party must have broken up pretty fast after that little scene earlier. But the bar is still open. I find the scotch and pour myself a double. To start with. I settle myself down on the sofa and prepare for a long, peaceful drunk.

"Well, well, Brian. Your little friend is a bit of the drama princess, isn't he? Everything calm now?"

It's Gerry. He's already got a glass in his hand and has apparently come down for a refill.

"Not really. Just quiet for the time being. But that woman...." I can't even continue. The thought of Fiona and her psychic bullshit gets me furious all over again.

"I agree with you, Brian. I told Sybil NOT to invite Fiona here. She's a well-known loony." Gerry sits down -- right next to me. A little too close to me. Do I have to deal with this, too?

"Listen, Gerry, just lay off. I'm not in the mood. If you want to know the truth, I have no interest in you. No offense..." Yes! Be offended! Go AWAY! "But I..." Just SAY it, for fuck sake! "I'm in a... relationship and I don't want to jeopardize it." Goddamn, but the earth DIDN'T open up and swallow me. I'm still sitting here, still the same asshole I was two minutes ago. But something has changed. I can feel it.

"Don't be ridiculous, Brian. You can't possible be serious about that boy! He's very sweet -- as a diversion. But there are other ways to divert yourself." He leans in, in a way I'm sure he thinks is seductive. I'm as about as interested in him right this minute as I would be in Fiona. Less, in fact.

"Well, then, it's a 'diversion' that's been going on for almost two years. So, it's more than that, Gerry. Even I have to admit to that -- and I don't fucking admit to much."

"Brian, you are too young and attractive to fall into the Sir Ken trap! Everyone knows that Hughie is just using Kenny. Why, he and that little Billy Phillips-Smythe are probably out in the barn right now trying to decide which of them is the 'man'! It never fails with these young boys. Kenny either turns a blind eye or he IS totally oblivious -- but no one else is. I would hate to see YOU become the same kind of laughing stock."

"Then you don't know ME -- and you certainly don't know Justin. You really don't know a fucking THING, Gerry." Hand me a prize for the understatement of the year!

"Well, then that IS a shame, Brian. Truly a shame. I think we might have enjoyed one another."

Please don't make me ill now, Gerry. Yeah, you might have enjoyed ME -- but I'm tired of being 'enjoyed' by whoever thinks he's got the fucking price of admission. And what about MY enjoyment? What about MY choices here?

He stands up, thank God. At least I don't have to end this weekend by punching my host in the nose.

"Tell me, Gerry, do you really get a lot of satisfaction out of treating poor old Harry like a fool? I mean, why bother with the pretense of living here and sucking off him? Is it really just for the cash? Because I'm sure you make plenty of money. Or the house? Your parents had a nice house, as I remember. You could have your own. Is it only because he's a nice guy and you're a little shit? I'm just trying to understand it."

Gerry smiles. It's a smug, shoddy kind of smile. "You'll find out soon enough. When you find your little boy-toy shagging everyone else behind YOUR back. We'll see if YOU can let him go so easily. Or if you'll just hang on -- like good old Harry. And you'll become as pitiful as HE is."

Gerry refills his drink and heads for the door.

"Gerry," I say. He stops and turns around, eyebrow raised. "But never as pitiful as YOU have been right from the start."

"Fuck YOU, my dear," he says. I guess that's HIS version of good night. Or goodbye.

I drink a little more of Harry's old scotch, but I can't even taste it. It's the same stuff Gerry refilled HIS glass with. It must be the special asshole blend. I have the glass in one hand and I'm toying with my little heart charm with the other. My little good luck charm. Is that all Justin really is -- a little good luck charm? Looking after me? Thinking that he's 'saving' me from myself? Or is he really my conscience? And I can hear his words again in my head: "If you don't NEED it, then why are you still doing it?" Words of wisdom, huh? I leave the half-full glass on the bar and go back upstairs.

It's stuffy in the room, so I open the window a bit. It'll be freezing in here by morning, but right now I need a breath of fresh air.

I drop off my robe and climb over Justin to get to my side of the bed. 'My' side. I never realized that I had a 'side' until Justin. He's sound asleep, thank God. Mouth slightly open, his eyelids almost transparent. All the light shining right through him. Because Justin has always been like sunshine. That's his 'forecast,' if you will. Maybe it's his naivete, maybe it's his privileged upbringing. Or maybe it's just him -- the way he was made, the way he was born.

But he hasn't had much reason to be very sunny since he got smashed in the head. Got his hand fucked up. Got his life fucked up. And I didn't do much to make it any better. But that's MY forecast -- partly cloudy, with a chance of rain. Darkening up the landscape and pissing down all over everything. And not much hope that the weather will clear up any time soon.

He really looks beautiful like that. And I stop and hear my own fucking words coming back at me.

We are standing in front of my old basement flat in Notting Hill, and I say to Justin that I liked Gerry Milton because of how I needed someone to tell me how great I was, how beautiful I was -- something I hadn't heard in a long, long time. "I guess," I said "You need someone to tell you things like that when you're twenty years old." Or when you are nineteen.

And who does HE need to hear it from? Who indeed? How can I be so blind and not be walking into fucking traffic constantly? How long before he'll hear it from someone else? Someone just out to use him? Someone like Rowan -- or Gerry? Or that guy he thinks he saw in his dream?

Through the open window I can hear that the rain that was forecast has finally started falling. I knew it would come eventually. Because around here it's always partly cloudy, with at least a chance of rain.

Continue on to "Rites of Passage".

Updated August 14, 2002