I SHALL BE RELEASED

"A Queer As Folk USA FanFic"

by Gaedhal

This is Page 2 of Part 3 of Chapter 119 in the "Queer Theories" series.

Go back to Page 1 of "I Shall Be Released -- Part 3".

Brian drives the PT Cruiser like a madman all the way from Marina del Rey to Beverly Hills. He takes the turns on the canyon on two fucking wheels. I'm afraid that he's going to get us killed before we reach the house.

We turn into the long driveway and see Jimmy's BMW parked next to the kitchen -- and two cop cars and a big van. Brian screeches the Cruiser to a stop next to Jimmy's car and jumps out, not even turning the Cruiser off. I remove the keys and run after him, knowing that it must already be too late.

When Brian sees the Emergency Van he stops dead in his tracks and I catch up with him. He just stands there, gaping at the white van, his face pale.

"Brian?" I say, touching his arm.

He turns and seizes my hand. "That's exactly like the... the ambulance that... that took you away."

"Brian -- I'm fine. I'm right here and I'm okay!" I say, putting my arms around him. He takes a deep breath and squeezes me tightly. Then we walk, slowly now, to the kitchen door. A paramedic comes out and Brian recoils again. I push the door open and lead him into the house. Two other paramedics are at the counter, talking quietly.

"Where's Jimmy Hardy?" asks Brian, sharply. One of the paramedics points to the pool area.

Jimmy is standing by the bar with a uniformed policeman. Another cop is sitting at one of the cafe tables, writing. When Jimmy sees us he rushes over and takes Brian by the hand.

"Jimmy, what the fuck is going on?" Brian demands. "Where's Ron?"

"Brian... I...." Jimmy stops and swallows. Jimmy looks about ready to fall down. I've never seen Jimmy when he wasn't full of all kinds of bullshit and acting like he's 'on' -- except right now. His usually boyish face looks every single one of his 45 years.

"You told Justin it was an emergency," barks Brian. "So why is everyone standing around? Why isn't anyone doing anything?" Brian's eyes dart back and forth between Jimmy and the policemen. The cop at the table looks up at Brian and shakes his head. "Why the fuck isn't anything happening?" Brian's voice rises. "I want to talk to Ron!"

"Brian, please be calm. Why don't you sit down here?" suggests Jimmy, catching my eye. He pulls up another chair and tries to get Brian to sit.

"I don't want to fucking sit down!" he says, his voice rising. "I want to see Ron! Right now!"

I put my arm around Brian's shoulder and kind of ease him into the chair. "Brian, please just listen. Because... because...." But I can't say anything more. I just can't. I glance at Jimmy, but he just shakes his head.

"What? WHAT?" says Brian. But the look on his face tells me that he knows exactly why we're here. Exactly what I'm trying to tell him. But he can't accept it.

Just then the glass door into the main house slides open and a tall, thin, dark-haired man in a faded blue suit comes onto the pool deck. The other policemen immediately straighten up, so he must be the guy in charge.

"Detective Parra! This is the guy I was telling you about, Brian Kinney," says Jimmy, waving the new cop over. "He might be able to give you some more information."

The detective is really tall and he stares down at Brian, slumped in the chair, making Brian look small and vulnerable. I put my arm tighter around his shoulders.

"Kinney, huh? I recognize you from that movie," says the cop. gruffly. Then he narrows his eyes at Jimmy. "You were both in it. And this guy, Rosenblum, was the director?"

"Yes," answers Jimmy. "Ron directed 'The Olympian.'"

The detective frowns at Brian. "Mr. Hardy seems to think that you spoke to Mr. Rosenblum recently. Like within the past two days?"

"I... I saw him Wednesday night. Right here," Brian replies. He's biting at his finger.

The detective takes out a pad and pen from his jacket pocket. Another plainclothes cop comes out of the house and talks to the two uniformed policemen. Now I'm getting nervous. Really fucking nervous! "What were you doing over here Wednesday night?"

"Doing?" repeats Brian. "I had dinner. We... we went over the schedule for 'Red River.'"

"That's the new film Ron's preparing, Detective Parra. Brian is starring in it," Jimmy offers.

The cop frowns again. "That old John Wayne picture? A remake?"

"Yes, sir," says Jimmy, helpfully. I wish Jimmy would just shut the fuck up! "With Eastwood, too."

The detective is eyeing Brian and writing things down. "I think I read about that. I know a bit about what's going on in the picture business. You have to when you work this beat. You have to deal with the studios and their stars and all their fuck-ups. It helps to know what's what." Detective Parra glares at Jimmy and then Brian, as if they are to blame for the run-ins he's had with other movie people. "Brian Kinney, huh? You were the boyfriend. I remember that now. If you were here Wednesday night, where have you been since then?"

Brian looks up. "I was on my boat. I don't live here. I have my own apartment. And I'm not Ron's boyfriend." Brian swallows. "That's bullshit!"

Detective Parra hovers over Brian. "But you WERE Rosenblum's boyfriend. And you DID live here -- am I correct? How long since you moved out?"

Brian shrugs and studies the ground. "October."

"Why did you move out?" the detective presses. "Will you look at me, please, Mr. Kinney?"

Brian's head whips up. "I don't think why I moved out is any of your fucking business!"

Detective Parra snorts. "Everything is my business, Kinney -- now. So, you took a hike in October. But you two were obviously still... friendly."

"Ron and I have a professional relationship. And... and that's all." Brian glances at me and I squeeze tighter. He seems confused by all these questions -- and so am I. What is this guy getting at?

"So you say." The detective inspects Brian closely. Looking at his clothes, his hair, his face. Checking out the famous faggot. I'm getting very, very uneasy about all this. "So, did you and Mr. Rosenblum have any kind of argument on Wednesday night?"

"No!" says Brian, almost too fast. Because I know that's a lie. They DID have an argument. Which ended with Ron pulling a gun on Brian. A fucking loaded gun.

"Then maybe Rosenblum was depressed about something?" asks Detective Parra, suspiciously. He's watching Brian's face closely. He knows that Brian isn't telling him the entire truth. Then the cop's eyes turn and rivet on me. "Maybe he didn't like that you were staying out all night with Blondie here?"

"Justin has nothing to do with this! He hasn't even set foot in this house since last June! So leave him the fuck out of all this!" Brian says, his voice shaky. He shoots me a look that says, don't say ANYTHING, Justin! Don't contradict me! "I told you before that I'm NOT living here! I haven't been for months."

"But we found a lot of your stuff here, Mr. Kinney," explains Detective Parra. "Scripts and papers with your name on them. Letters addressed to you. Prescription drugs made out to you. Things like that."

"I may have left some odds and ends here. And not all of my mail gets forwarded. So what?" Brian replies, running his fingers through his already messy hair. "So fucking what?"

"Um, Detective?" interrupts one of the uniformed policemen. "Can you sign these?"

"Just a minute," grumbles the tall detective and he goes over to the cafe table, where they have a pile of papers spread out.

"Jimmy, what do they want me to say?" Brian whispers. "I... I don't know what the fuck is going on!"

"Brian...." Jimmy hesitates.

But then the detective comes back. "I'll need to take a statement from you, Mr. Kinney."

"A statement?" says Jimmy. "What for?"

"Information," answers Detective Parra. "And I'll need one from you, too, Mr. Hardy. Since you were the one that found the body." The way the cop says it is so stark. So fucking cold and stark. Brian jerks slightly and then just sits there, completely still. My arm is still around his shoulders. Letting him know I'm here. "But I want YOU first," he adds, pointing at Brian. "So don't move."

"Am... am I being accused of something?" Brian breathes.

"Brian, don't say anything until I call your lawyer! Please!" I beg.

"No, Mr. Kinney," the detective answers smoothly. "You aren't being accused of anything -- yet. This isn't a crime scene -- that I know of. We'll need to hear from the Medical Examiner first. And get some of those prescription containers analyzed, too. Then we'll see." He gestures me away and Jimmy takes my elbow, pulling me gently. "If you two would mind stepping back? Mr. Hardy?" The detective stares at Jimmy and he backs us both away from Brian.

"Come on, Baby Blue," Jimmy says. "I... I need a drink of water."

"But Jimmy!" I protest. "I want Brian to call his lawyer. Now!"

"We'll call him from the kitchen." Jimmy drags me away from the pool area and into the kitchen. It's empty. The paramedics are somewhere else and there are no more cops in sight.

"Jimmy, what the fuck! I don't want to leave Brian alone out there!"

"Brian's okay. They're just making him sweat a little. It's what they do," says Jimmy. "Remember, I've played cops and hung out with guys like this when I was preparing for the roles. That's how they get the upper hand. By playing the hard guy."

"I don't like them acting like that with Brian!" I reply. "Like he's guilty of something! He's NOT! That's fucked!"

"Forget that, Justy. This is much more important." Jimmy opens one of the kitchen drawers. "Take off your sweatshirt. Now."

"What's going on?" I ask. But I take it off. I have my First Mate tee shirt on underneath.

I watch as Jimmy gropes around in the drawer and pulls out a video tape. "Stick this in your sweatshirt and take it out to the Jeep. Stash it there. Get it out of this house!"

"We brought the Cruiser, not the Jeep," I reply, thinking about what we have stashed in the Jeep! I look at the tape Jimmy shoves into my hands. "My God! Jimmy, this is the 'Jack' tape!"

"Keep your voice down!" Jimmy stares at me. "You mean you know about this? Have you... seen this tape? Of Ron and... and Brian?"

I wet my dry lips, remembering watching this tape. In this house. With Ron. "Yes, Jimmy, I've seen it. It's from 1988. How did YOU get it?"

"It was in the VCR," he says quietly, leaning over to me. "The machine was turned on when I... when I went into his room." Jimmy's eyes are all screwed up. Ron was his best friend, after all. "I came over this morning, looking for Ron. Because I knew something was very, very wrong when he didn't call me about the Golden Globe nominations. He's been waiting for a major nomination his whole life and he got two -- Best Director AND Best Screenplay. So when he didn't call and he wouldn't answer my calls to him, I came over and let myself in -- I have a key to the house."

"Oh, Jimmy! No! You... you found him? Jesus! That must have been horrible. Did... did he shoot himself?" I ask, my voice trembling.

"Shoot himself? You mean with a gun?" Jimmy scoffs. "Are you kidding? What would Ron be doing with a gun?" I don't answer that one. "No, Justy. Pills. A lot of fucking pills. And, unfortunately, most of them had Brian's name on them. That's why they're giving Brian the fucking third degree in there. I tried to clean things up... a bit. But I couldn't hide that. There were too many containers. Xanax. Klonopin. Percocet. Vicodin. Various kinds of sleeping pills. Ronnie had a regular little pharmacy going. And most of the pills were prescribed to Brian. By our esteemed Dr. Hall, Brian's psychiatrist."

"Hall is a fucking quack!" I whisper harshly. "He hasn't been Brian's doctor in ages. He had no reason to prescribe any of those drugs. Brian wasn't taking anything like that! He hasn't been for a long time."

"I know, Justin," says Jimmy. "But the cops don't know that. That's why they're questioning Brian. Especially if they think that Brian gave Ron those drugs, it could be really sticky."

Shit, I think. "Was Ron... in the bed?"

"Yeah," says Jimmy, his face falling. "He'd obviously been jerking off. The VCR was on, so I thought I better check to see what he'd been watching. I rewound it and... I couldn't fucking believe what I was seeing! You say you knew about this tape, Justin?"

"Yes," I admit. "I knew about it. But I can't believe that Ron was... was watching it."

"Do you KNOW what would happen if the cops saw this video?" Jimmy says, getting into my face. "To Ron's reputation? To his fucking legacy? How old is Brian in it? Fifteen? Sixteen? What the fuck were they thinking? Making that fucking porn? Both of them are completely recognizable!"

"They obviously weren't thinking that they would ever be famous," I answer truthfully. "Or that anyone else would ever see it but them." I remember this same tape sitting on Ron's desk in his office. When he asked me if I wanted to watch it with him. And I said yes. I fucking said yes! This tape still feels like a time bomb in my hand. And now it's ready to go off for the second time in my life! "Ron was supposed to destroy this tape. He told the lawyers that he did. But he didn't, I guess. Maybe he couldn't."

"I fucking guess not! Just keep the thing wrapped in that sweatshirt until you get it out to the car. And hide the fucking thing in a safe place," Jimmy orders me. "And this, too." He reaches back into the drawer and pulls some sheets of folded paper. "And do NOT let Brian see THIS. Don't let ANYONE see it! I'm sorry I read it myself. Go out there now, before the cop calls me back in to give my statement."

"What is this, Jimmy?" I ask, fearfully, clutching the paper in my hand.

Jimmy blinks at me. "It's the note, Baby Blue. That Ron left. And it's addressed to Brian." Jimmy pushes me towards the back door. "But don't let him see it -- if you want him to retain his fucking sanity! And I'm not joking!"

I go out the door and check to see if anyone is there. But the yard is clear of cops right now. I practically run to the Cruiser. I pull open the door and shove the 'Jack' video under the front seat. But the note. I don't know what to do with it, so I slip it into the back pocket of my pants. I have no idea why Jimmy didn't just destroy it. Burn it or flush it down the toilet. But I can do that when we get home. IF we get home!

I put my sweatshirt back on and run back up to the house, into the kitchen. There's a lot of noise in the main part of the house, so I go out towards the living room. The paramedics are bringing the... the body down the stairs. Carefully, because it's a bit narrow. I cower back when I see what they are doing. But then Detective Parra and his cops appear with Brian and Jimmy. Jimmy is very pale and Brian seems dazed. He looks over at me and I try to go to him, but one of the cops stops me and pulls me aside.

"I want you to take a good look, Mr. Kinney," says the detective. He has Brian's arm tight in his grip, like Brian is going to fly away or something.

"But why?" Jimmy sputters. "I already did the identification! There's no need to make Brian do this!"

But Detective Parra is firm. It's so fucking obvious that he's trying to see if he can shake something out of Brian. Maybe even make Brian break down. He knows Brian isn't telling him everything. Parra looks over at me and glares. He thinks I know something, too. And I do, that's the awful thing. I do know. We all know things. But I'll never fucking tell! Never! And neither will Jimmy. Or Brian.

The paramedics set down the stretcher. Ron is all covered up in some kind of bag. I still can't believe they are going to do this! The detective instructs one of the cops of open it up. The sound of the zipper going down that bag reverberates like thunder in the suddenly silent room. Everyone is holding his breath. Brian tries to steady himself as Parra jerks him over to take a look. A good long look.

Brian's face doesn't move at all. Just his eyes. Staring. Blinking. I can't even imagine what he's thinking. Then he looks up, directly at me. "He's w...wearing my shirt, Justin," he stutters. "M... my red silk shirt. I... I forgot it here Wednesday night." Brian looks down again. "Why? Why the fuck?"

I don't want to look, but I can't help myself. I see it. Brian's red silk shirt. I have to look away. Detective Parra is watching Brian closely, but Brian's face is a blank. Then the detective nods to the paramedics, who cover Ron up and carry him out. The cop who is holding me back lets me go and I move straight into Brian's arms, clinging to him. The cops make a disgusted noise, but fuck them! Fuck all of them. Brian just seems numb. His face is so unnaturally still. And he just keeps repeating, "Why? Why the fuck?"

"I don't know, Brian!" I tell him. "I don't know!"

And I realize that Brian will never, ever get that picture out of his head of Ron, his glassy eyes staring into space, wearing Brian's red shirt.

***

"Standing next to me in this lonely crowd,
Is a man who swears he's not to blame.
All day long I hear him shout so loud,
Crying out that he was framed.

I see my light come shining
From the West unto the East.
Any day now, any day now,
I shall be released."

from "I Shall Be Released," by Bob Dylan.

Continue on to "I Shall Be Released -- Part 4".

©Gaedhal, September 2003.

Updated October 2, 2003.