This is Chapter 66 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "A Piece of My Heart -- Part 2", the previous section.
The narrator is Justin Taylor, featuring Brian Kinney, Gerard Milton, Harry Collins, Sybil Milton Symonds, Albert Symonds, Sir Kenneth Fielding, Hughie Marsh, Travers, Cooper.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Brian and Justin are invited for a weekend in the country by RSC actor/director Gerard Milton. London/Sussex. July 2002.
Author's Note: Susan -- for being a good beta I'll treat you to a full serving of Spotted Dick!
Disclaimer: This is for fun, not profit. Watch Queer As Folk on Showtime, buy the DVDs, videos, and CDs. Read the stories and enjoy.
"You don't seem very excited about this weekend, Brian," I say, rolling away from him and catching my breath.
"That's putting it mildly. I just don't feel that comfortable with these people to be spending a weekend with them. Trapped with them in a big house in the middle of nowhere -- and once you're there you are fucking STUCK there for the duration!" Brian trails his finger down my chest and toys with my nipple ring. "Plus, I had thought we could rent a car and go off on our own...."
"We can do that next weekend."
"I know. It's just that...."
"I'm your personal assistant, right?"
"Okay, if you say so."
"Think of this trip as business. Like having to go out to the baseball game with a client or taking him to dinner."
"How is this the same thing?"
"Brian, aren't you going because Sir Ken wants you to?"
"And isn't Sir Ken kind of like your boss?"
"In a way. He's the star of this picture and that's where the power is."
"Then it's the same thing."
"You know, sometimes you actually make sense."
"I know. More than you do."
"That's beside the point."
"Get up. Kenroy Smith is supposed to pick us up at 10:00 and you haven't packed yet."
"What about you? You haven't either."
"But I don't have to impress anyone -- I just wear what I always wear. You have to pack to dazzle."
"'Dazzle'? Where did you get that word?"
"From this magazine about the London theater. In an article on 'My Fair Lady.'"
"Stop reading that. I don't want any Musical Queens around here. Isn't it bad enough that we've got Emmett to deal with back in Pittsburgh? I don't want YOU getting sucked into that Queer Black Hole -- it's worse than being an Opera Queen! The minute you break into a medley of hits from 'Hello, Dolly!' is the minute your big ass is bounced out of that window! Then you would be collecting Barbra Streisand albums -- and there's no turning back from THAT nightmare!"
"I'm just reading it because I want to keep track of what is going on in our circle."
"'Our circle'? I didn't know we had a 'circle'? I wasn't even aware that we had friends here. Just people who I have to deal with."
"But these people ARE 'our circle' while we are living here and you're working on the movie here, Brian. They are the people that we -- but especially YOU -- have to get along with, work with, and socialize with while we're in London. As your personal assistant, I'm just keeping your best interests in mind."
"What would I do without you?"
"Probably fuck everything up." I roll myself out of bed and put on my robe.
"Now," I say, spanking him on the rear. "Get up."
While Brian is taking his sweet time getting ready, I go down to the hotel office and see the concierge. She is an older lady and very straightforward about dealing with odd requests from guests. When I followed Diane's advice and went to her to ask if I could keep Brian's 'medication' in the hotel safe, she immediately agreed and arranged for me to come down and get the stuff twice a day, in the morning and again in the evening.
This morning I'm getting just enough pills for this weekend. After a lot of complaining and denying that it was necessary, Brian agreed to the plan and also agreed that I should be the one to hold the drugs -- just in case. The concierge opens the safe and I count out the Xanax, also two sleeping pills, and two pain pills. The sleeping pills and painkillers are just in case they are needed, but Brian hasn't asked for any since his little meltdown -- and that makes me hopeful that he won't be needing them any time soon.
I know a little about needing and taking pain pills myself. And even about medication for anxiety and nerves. But I was always exactly the opposite of Brian -- denying that I needed to take when I really did. Holding off my medication until I couldn't stand it. The thought that I NEEDED to use the drugs was horrible to my sense of self-control and, I admit, my ego. Brian, however, is still convinced that he needs all this shit -- and it will take a while to convince him otherwise.
"How far is Sussex?" I ask as the Rolls pulls away from the hotel.
"Oh, not that far at all," says Sir Kenneth. "We'll zip down there in no time. And with the splendid Mr. Smith as our charioteer, the trip will progress without undue incident."
"That means about two and a half hours, right?" says Brian.
"Yes," replies Sir Kenneth. "So, how did the meeting with the band go?"
"Pretty well," says Brian. "We made a list of possible covers to work on for the concert sequences. And Charley Weston gave me a cassette of the songs he wrote for the soundtrack so I could familiarize myself with them."
"He's had the Walkman attached to his head ever since," I say. "And I mean every minute."
"I have not!" Brian pokes me in the side.
"Practically," I said, poking him back.
"Boys! Please! I'll have to separate you two if you can't be good," Sir Ken jokes.
Hughie slinks down in the seat next to Sir Kenneth, rolling his eyes. I know for certain that he does not want to go to this house party at Gerry Milton's house out in the middle of the country. He told me that Tony, his 'boyfriend,' was starting to get upset about their 'arrangement,' and had threatened to pick up someone else this weekend if Hughie went away. But when Sir Ken wants to go away, then Hughie really has no choice -- if he doesn't want to screw up HIS arrangement with Sir Ken! So, here he is, sighing and making bored sounds. He really is a pain in the ass.
I don't feel comfortable at all listening to Hughie's screwed up romantic life. It actually doesn't seem very romantic to me, just sneaky. Brian says that Sir Ken is no dummy, that he must know exactly what is going on, but I'm not so certain. How could he sit there so calmly if he knew Hughie was such a big liar? Brian says I should mind my own business.
"What's the name of that book again -- the one the movie is based on?" I ask Brian.
"'Death in Venice.' Remember? We rented the old film version to watch at the loft."
"I fell asleep," I say, a little embarrassed.
"With Visconti directing," says Sir Ken. "Yes -- beautiful imagery. Perhaps not a lot of action to interest a young person, but marvelous psychological motivation behind a man growing older who attempts to recapture his youth in his infatuation with a beautiful young boy."
"Then why are you using Brian in it if you need a beautiful young boy?"
"You little twat!"
"Now, boys, be good!" Sir Ken leans forward, wagging his finger at us. "The film has been adapted to the milieu of the London music scene of the late Seventies, Justin. I play a theatrical entrepreneur who becomes obsessed with an American rock performer."
"See?" says Brian. "I told you that all I have to do is wear tight leather pants and play around on stage. No acting will be involved at all."
"But dear boy, that IS certainly acting! A kind of performance that not everyone can manage. For instance, the fellow who Dorian originally was interested in for the role of Hammersmith is quite a fine actor. But he has no charisma, no screen impact at all!" Sir Kenneth frowns and shudders, thinking of this guy with no impact. "Now, Brian has screen impact to spare. And charisma enough for five RADA-trained non-entities, if I may be blunt. Wait until you see the scenes in 'The Olympian' that I was shown, Justin!"
Brian frowns and looks away.
"Ripping, dear heart. Just ripping. Now what good is an actor emoting all over the screen if the audience doesn't believe that I, as the theater man, is willing to make a complete ass of myself over this punk rock character? That is a role for which Brian is completely suited -- even gifted by Nature, if you will. That other fellow couldn't fill a pair of black leather pants if he had a lorry full of rocks to aid him!"
"Brian has never has any trouble filling out his pants. Except from behind."
"Will you shut the fuck up?!" Brian grabs my leg and squeezes.
"He started it," huffs Brian.
We drive the rest of the way without incident.
Sussex is really pretty. So green it almost hurts to look. Brian says I ought to see Scotland. He describes the moors and the lakes, which makes Sir Ken suggest that we drive to the Lake District, where the Romantic Poets lived and wrote. Brian nods and doesn't even make a face at the mention of the word 'Romantic.' I guess it's okay to say as long as we are talking about literature!
'Firelands' is a big 'pile,' as Sir Ken calls it. An old house that is as big as a hotel. Bigger than the main building at the Arcadian Country Club. "And no fucking gargoyles," Brian says, as we get out of the car.
A real butler comes out and helps Kenroy Smith with our bags.
We are met at the door by an older couple.
"I'm Sybil, my darlings. Harry and I have been appointed to greet you."
Sybil is a stocky lady with a horsey face and big teeth. She's wearing a tweed suit in the middle of summer. I notice later that everyone is wearing some kind of tweed. Harry has graying hair and a kindly face, with big hound-dog eyes.
The two of them remind me of that magazine I see on the newsstands, 'Horse and Hound,' which is all about fox hunting. Brian says those two words cover the two major interests of the British Upper Class. I'm hoping that I will get to ride while we're out here, but fox hunting doesn't strike me as too cool. Especially for the poor fox.
Sir Kenneth hugs Harry like they are old, old friends. Harry shakes hands with Brian. Hughie stands back and ignores the whole procedure. He cuts his eyes at me, but I ignore HIM.
Sybil seems to have already claimed me. She puts her arm around my shoulder and goes on about how I will love what they are having for dessert tonight. Something about treacle pudding.
"What's THAT?" I whisper to Brian.
"You don't want to know. Just pretend to eat it. And pray they don't also serve you Toad-in-the-Hole."
"Toad-in-the-Hole? Is that FOOD?"
"Yes. No further comment." Brian looks around. "Maybe tomorrow we'll get a little Spotted Dick."
"Spotted who?" I say, but Brian is smirking at me. I think he's putting me on. I HOPE he's putting me on -- I don't want anything called Spotted Dick on my dinner plate!
"You remind me SO of my William! He's away at school, but I do SO miss him!" Sybil is ruffling my hair now. "You lovely, lovely boy!" She is embarrassing me.
"How long have you and Harry been married? How old is William? Do you live near here?"
"He doesn't ask many questions, does he?" Brian deadpans to Sybil.
"Oh, he's a delight! To be so curious about a silly woman like me is pure flattery!" Sybil leads us up into the big house. The entrance is bigger than the Great Hall at the Arcadian Country Club, with a huge stairway curving up to the second floor. Harry goes off somewhere, saying he has to see to the menu for dinner.
"Harry has done wonders with this place," says Sir Kenneth. "He had new plumbing put in last year -- it makes a world of difference."
"Do you and Harry live here? I thought this was Mr. Milton's house," I say to Sybil, looking around.
"No, darling, this is Harry's house. He bought it twenty years ago before he even knew Gerard. He and Gerard live here -- he's Gerry's husband, not mine! My Albert is out with the gamekeeper somewhere assessing the pheasant situation."
"Oh," I say. "I guess I was confused."
"A simple mistake, my boy. Gerard does tend to claim Harry's things as his own. He's appropriated Firelands, like everything else that belongs to Harry. Not that Harry minds. He's a generous soul and there's nothing he wouldn't give Gerard, he adores him so. He still thinks Gerry is a winning young schoolboy -- not unlike yourself, darling."
Brian snorts. "I guess I can't picture Gerry Milton as a 'winning schoolboy.' Even when I first knew him as an arrogant drama student I don't know if I'd call him 'winning.'"
"You are right, dear," says Sybil. "He's not at ALL 'winning.' When they met Gerry was a devious little shit of eighteen who played poor Harry for everything he had. Why, the first thing of Harry's that he made off with was Harry's sports car."
"Let me guess," says Brian. "A red MG Midget?"
Sybil peers down her glasses at Brian. "I SEE! Yes, just so. The MG. So, you were QUITE well acquainted with Gerard -- when?"
"When he was at RADA. Around '90, '91."
"Ah, yes. Harry encouraged him to try for the Royal Academy. Until then he was pointing to be a stockbroker, of all things! But Harry helped prepare him for his auditions and once he got in, he was a star."
"Is Harry an actor, too?" I ask Sybil. Sir Kenneth laughs and Hughie shakes his head, disgustedly.
"Are you joking, dear heart?" says Sir Ken.
"What did I say?" I look around at them, not sure of what mistake I've made.
Sybil pats my head, like you'd pat a cute dog. "My darling, Harry is one of the most famous actors in Britain."
"He is?" says Brian.
"Why, yes! Harry Collins. He's 'Clive'!" Sybil pauses. "On 'Mornington Close'!"
"What the hell is that?" asks Brian.
Sir Kenneth comes to Brian's rescue. "It's a serial, dear boy. A soap opera. Harry has starred in 'Mornington Close' for over twenty years. It bought this house. It also keeps dear Gerry in the style to which he has become accustomed over the years. Because, let us be truthful, starring in revivals of 'The Seagull' and 'Coriolanus' does not make for the lavish lifestyle, regardless of how one is celebrated by one's peers. That's why I took that role of the butler in 'Home Away from Home.' That one very dreadful film underwrote an entire season of Bernard Shaw in the West End!"
"So, Harry has been with Gerry for over a decade?" Brian can't get over it.
"Seventeen years, I believe. They are still stuck together, against all odds, I might say. And Harry is still besotted with him."
"Seventeen YEARS! Everyone to his own taste, I guess," says Brian. "But that doesn't mean that Gerry can't be a real pill."
"You don't need to remind ME, dear -- I AM his sister, after all."
Brian stops dead in his tracks. "You? Are Gerry's sister?"
"Of course, darling. But that doesn't mean I don't think he is, as you so quaintly put it, 'a real pill.' Come along while I show you the rest of the house."
I fall behind with Brian as Sybil takes Sir Ken's arm and walks ahead into another big room.
"I really put my foot into THAT one," says Brian, pretending to hide his face in my shoulder.
"Now you know how I always feel when I say something embarrassing, Brian. I actually told Michael that I thought Debbie was a freak the first time I met her at the diner! How was I to know she was his mother? And how could you know the Sybil is Gerry's sister? She doesn't seem that fond of him, anyway."
"Seventeen years with Gerry! Shit!" Brian shakes his head.
"Is it the seventeen years part, or that it's with Gerry that is freaking you out, Brian?"
"I don't know," he says, glancing at me. "Maybe both. But, Jesus, seventeen fucking years!"
"If you really... you know, love the person, I guess that wouldn't seem that long," I say, thinking that it's not much longer than I've been alive. "But it seems like Gerry was cheating on Harry right from the start," I say, looking for Brian's reaction to the unfaithful Gerry.
"I guess he was. Right from the start." Brian shakes his head. "Then why DO it? That's what I don't understand. Why 'fake' being a 'couple' if one guy is screwing everything in sight? Why the whole pretense?"
"Maybe it isn't fake, Brian. Maybe they have something else that keeps them together. Memories. Or maybe this house? Or... I don't know." I can't really look at Brian as he puzzles over this. It feels too close, too much like another situation that I could point out to him, but I don't. I can't.
The butler, Travers, comes up to us and asks if we want to see our rooms. For a minute I think he is going to separate us -- and I know this spooky old place will give me nightmares if I have to sleep apart from Brian. But the butler leads us up the staircase to one large room that faces a beautiful garden in the back of the house.
"Even a bathroom, thank God," says Brian, after the butler leaves. "In some of these joints you have to trek all over the fucking place in the middle of the night to take a piss. Or else do it in the chamber pot."
"Look under the bed. I bet there's one there."
I push aside the dust ruffle and pull out a big flower pot. "This thing?"
"That's it. I knew they'd have one."
"What's that mean -- chamber pot?"
"So you don't have to leave your 'chamber' to piss."
I quickly put the thing down on the floor. "Eeew! You mean, you pee in THAT thing? Then what?"
"Shove it back under the bed. The maid will come around and pick it up in the morning."
"You're kidding me, Brian."
"Not at all. It's from before they had a lot of bathrooms in these houses. Luckily for us, as Sir Ken said, good old Harry has updated the plumbing in this house. This bathroom was probably an old closet or dressing room. No shower, I see."
"You'll just have to take a bath, Brian."
"Maybe I'll hop in with you -- that tub looks big enough for about four people."
Brian decides to unpack and rest up a bit, but I'm not at all tired. I go downstairs and wander around a little. I find the garden and look for the stables. I really want to see the horses.
I walk back down some of the paths. I wish my mom could see this place. There's an herb garden and a maze made out of a hedge, and some big shrubs trimmed into the shapes of animals like dragons and unicorns.
"Admiring the topiary?" A man who looks like a cliche English gentleman, with a big gray moustache, stops next to me.
"I guess so. I didn't know what these bushes were called."
"Harry has a superb garden staff to keep them up. Did you try the maze?"
"No -- I was afraid I'd get lost in it."
"I'll show you the trick of it later. You must be Justin. I'm Sybil's husband, Albert. Sybil said there was an adorable boy here who reminded her of William."
"She keeps hugging me."
"Don't mind her -- she's a sentimental old shoe."
"I was looking for where the horses are."
"Follow me." He struts off and I have to quicken my pace to keep up with him. For an old man he's fast. Brian says they do a lot of walking out in the country and I can believe it.
Albert takes me back to the barn. Some of the horses are poking their heads out of their stalls and they let me stroke them.
"Tomorrow you can ride out with Sybil and I if you wish. Have you ridden much?" Harry inspects one of the horses.
"Just at summer camp. Mainly just hanging onto the saddle," I say.
"Then I think old McGuffin will be perfect for you. He's right over here." We look at a plain brown horse with an easy-going face. I pat his neck. "He's not fast, but he's steady -- and you won't fall off him."
"That's a relief." A horse ran away with me at camp one time and I ended up in a pile of manure in the middle of the bridle path. Luckily, I have a lot of padding back there, but it still made me sore for a week.
"You should do quite well. We'll get you a cap and boots, if you didn't bring your own."
Albert then takes me to where an old man is bent over a pile of feathers. I see that they are birds. Dead birds. He takes a big knife and splits one right open, spilling all kinds of guts into a bucket.
"Oh, dear." I step back, feeling a little ill. Brian says they are always hunting out in the country, but I didn't really expect to see dead animals right in my face.
"Cooper is the gamekeeper here. Looks like we may be having a game pie tomorrow for luncheon."
"Right," I say, thinking that I won't be eating any game pie. The little birds' heads flop around as he cuts into them. "I'm going to go back up to my room now."
"Certainly, son." Albert turns back to Cooper and they talk as I head back up the path to the house.
"Brian! There's a big maze out in the backyard! You have to go through it with me -- we could get lost in there," I say, bursting into the room. "And I saw the horses. And I met Sybil's husband. And the gamekeeper." I bounce over to Brian, who is lounging on the big old-fashioned bed, reading. It's even larger than the one at the Chatterton.
"Do tell? Was he a 'Maurice' style gamekeeper -- or a 'Lady Chatterly' style gamekeeper?"
"I don't know what that means, Brian. But he was about seventy years old."
'Oh," says Brian, losing interest. "Then it doesn't matter which one he was."
"What's the main difference? Tell me."
"Well," says Brian, putting his magazine down on the bedside stable. "The D. H. Lawrence 'Lady Chatterly' gamekeeper was into pussy. Mainly into it in the middle of the woods. And mainly upper class pussy."
"And the other kind?"
"The E. M. Forster 'Maurice' gamekeeper? He was definitely NOT into pussy. He was into climbing in through the window in the middle of the night. In the rain. Especially if there was a cute blond guy in the room he was climbing into."
"Really? That one sounds a lot more interesting than the first one, Brian. You certainly do know a lot about literature."
"Just seeing to your further education, like I've often promised."
"What was that particular scene like -- exactly?"
Brian sits up. "You want a demonstration?"
I usually like Brian's demonstrations. "Sure." I'm smiling.
He immediately hops out of the bed. He is wearing only his underwear. "Okay, you have to be in YOUR underwear first," he says, pulling my rugby shirt off over my head. Then he tugs down my cargo pants and tosses them behind him.
"Now, get into the bed and pretend you are an upper class Englishman."
"How do I do that?"
"Try to look tight-assed and inhibited."
Brian goes into the bathroom. I hear the water turn on, Then he comes out all drenched, his underwear soaking.
"Brian, you'll get the bed all wet!"
"Yes, that's the best part of the scene..." Brian puts the duvet aside and climbs on top of me. "When he comes in through the window all wet and dripping. See -- he doesn't care if he gets the bed wet. He doesn't care if he gets MAURICE all wet. He just wants to fuck like an animal. That's because he is lower class and doesn't give a shit about convention. Or the social order. Or rules. Or...."
He pulls my jockeys down roughly, just enough to uncover my ass. Then he turns me onto my stomach and shoves my knees up under me, taking aim at my hole.
"These lower class characters in the English novel represent the primal forces of nature. They use sex to confront the hypocrisy of the ruling orders, forcing the main characters to admit to their animal natures, thus battering down the barriers separating the classes."
Brian gets up for a moment and comes back with his ritual implements -- the little pocket tube of lube and a handful of condoms. He crawls on top of me, slicks up his fingers, and plunges them into me, roughly.
"These gamekeepers don't know the dictates of polite society, Justin. They don't do foreplay or sweet talk or make empty promises. They rut, just like the animals that they stalk and hunt." Brian doesn't take his shorts off, he just pulls his dick out of his fly, slips the condom on and strokes it up. Then he pushes into me, hard, all at once, leaving me gasping, grunting. He works up a hard rhythm.
Then the door of the room opens and the butler walks in.
"Those towels you requested, sir."
"Great, Travers. If you could put them in the bathroom?" Brian never pauses or pulls back from ramming his dick up my ass.
"Certainly, sir." I see the butler, his face impassive, go into the bathroom with the towels and come out a moment later. "Will you be needing anything else, sir?"
"Not right now. I'll let you know. Thanks, Travers."
"Very good, sir. Oh, and dinner at 7:00 sharp." And he walks out and shuts the door behind him.
"Brian! What was THAT all about?"
"I asked for more towels." He pulls out of me and turns me on my back, tilting my bottom up. "I thought we'd need extras."
"But, Brian -- that guy!"
"It's the British class system. It never stops working. That's why the two guys, the upper class Maurice and the lower class gamekeeper, have to leave the country at the end of 'Maurice.' They can't live with the hypocrisy of the fucking class system! It sees, but it doesn't see -- because everyone in the system pretends that nothing is happening when it really IS happening."
"But, the butler! He walked in and saw us...."
"If you don't want to see two guys fucking, then you don't see them. Especially if it's your job NOT to see them." Brian pushes his cock into me, more slowly now, then harder and harder. "So do what the British do, Justin -- lie back and think of England."
Continue on to "Tomorrow Is a Long Time", the next chapter.
©Gaedhal, August 2002
Send Gaedhal any comments, critiques, suggestions.
Updated August 11, 2002