This is Part 4 of Chapter 119 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "I Shall Be Released -- Part 3", the previous section.
The narrator is Justin Taylor, and features Brian Kinney, Jimmy Hardy, Howie Sheldon, Tess Hardy, Freddy Weinstein, Detective Parra, Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: There are a few further complications. Los Angeles, December 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.
Within the next hour it seems like all fucking hell breaks loose at Ron's house. Howie Sheldon, the big film executive, shows up in his limo and immediately tries to take charge of the situation. He's followed by a van full of private security who close the gate and set up guard, taking over from the cops, who look like they are getting ready to leave. It seems some strange cars and trucks are already lurking outside -- the media has arrived on the scene with a vengeance.
Even Detective Parra defers to Mr. Howard Sheldon, Head of Production at Terra Nova Studio. When Howie walks into the living room, the detective goes over and shakes his hand. They've obviously met before, probably on some earlier scandal or tragedy. They talk closely together for a few moments, looking over at Brian. Then the detective gathers up his troops from the house and they leave.
Once the detective is out of sight, Howie Sheldon moves directly to Jimmy and he's pissed. "Why the fuck didn't you call ME first, Jim?"
"I called you right after I called Brian, Howie! And... then I called 911. I had to. Just in case there was anything... they could do," Jimmy whines unconvincingly. It's pretty obvious from listening to the paramedics and the cops talking to each other that Ron's been dead since sometime yesterday, probably since very early Thursday morning. It's now almost noon on Friday.
Howie puts his hands on his hips. "What did you find, Jimmy? Tell me the truth, not what you told the goddamn police."
"Nothing!" Jimmy lies. "You can read my statement. Just Ron... and the pills. That's all. I swear!"
Howie looks over at Brian. We are sitting together on the couch and Brian hasn't moved a muscle since they carried Ron out of here. I've been holding his hand, trying to comfort him, but I'm not sure that Brian even knows I'm here. "What about Brian? Was he in the house when this happened? Did Ron say something to him? Someone tell me the fucking truth!"
"We were on the boat all day yesterday!" I interrupt hotly. "Brian doesn't know a thing -- and that's what he told the detective!"
Howie Sheldon glowers at me. He knows I'm lying, too. "Is he all right?" he asks me. When I don't answer, he turns back to Brian, trying to get him to look him in the eye. "Brian, are you okay?" Howie leans down, but Brian doesn't answer. "Brian, you are going to have to snap out of it! You think the fiasco with the photographs was a media circus? Well, that was nothing compared to what will happen when THIS shit hits the front page. Ron was just nominated for TWO fucking Golden Globes, and you were nominated, too, and Jimmy, and the film. And the Oscars noms are coming up after the New Year. This is going to be a fucking nightmare for the studio! So get a hold of yourself. Brian? Do you hear me?"
"Why don't you just leave us both alone?" I yell. The last thing Brian needs right now is this asshole telling him what to do!
"Howie, relax!" Jimmy suggests. "I don't think this is the place for an argument."
"The studio is working on a statement for the press," Howie continues, ignoring his biggest star. "There will be quotes from both Jimmy and Brian, lamenting this tragic accident. Right, Jimmy? This terrible, tragic ACCIDENT."
Jimmy swallows. "Right, Howie. It was obviously an accident." Jimmy glances at me, but I turn away. The fucking lie just keeps getting bigger and bigger -- and I'm part of it. "Obviously an accident!"
A few minutes later Tess arrives. She's the first other person I've seen who actually seems to be thinking of Brian. She comes right over to the couch and sits down on his other side, taking his hand. "Brian? Do you need anything? Would you like me to make some tea? Something?" But Brian just continues to stare straight ahead. I'm getting scared for him -- very scared!
"I'm sure there's still plenty of Xanax upstairs," Howie Sheldon snipes. "Give him a couple of those."
"I don't think that's the least bit funny, Howard!" Tess lashes back angrily. "You KNEW Ron was in big trouble! I talked to you about it when we were all in London, but you didn't do a damn thing! You KNEW Ron was on the edge! That he was dealing badly with his... his demons. With his break-up with Brian, to be truthful! And with all the pressure he was under! So, what's your big solution? Do you get involved? Get Ron some professional help? No! You just let him go down! You guys make me sick!"
But Howie Sheldon is stone cold. "Ron's personal life was none of my business, Tess -- unless it affected his films. He was a big boy. If he chose to self-medicate instead of dealing with his personal problems in some productive way, that was his decision. Right now my only interest is damage control for the studio. To try to lessen the impact this will have on 'The Olympian' -- and on Brian's career. Brian, NOT Ron, is my concern now. Jimmy will survive, no matter what. His reputation is above reproach. But Brian is a different story. He's a hot actor right now, but he's new in Hollywood and he just came out very publicly and under dicey circumstances. We are going to have to handle this very, very carefully."
"That's the only thing that's important to you, Howie? Damage control? A man is dead! He was your friend! We have some devastated people left behind and all you are concerned with is how to handle the PR for the studio?" Tess takes a deep breath. "My God, I HATE this town! I HATE this damn business!"
"I'm sorry you feel that way, Tess," says Howie. "But I have to deal with reality here."
Tess stands up, her face set. "I better get on the phone and call Ron's mother -- before she finds out that her son is dead on CNN!" Tess goes into Ron's office and shuts the door. She's in there a long time, so I assume that she's calling as many people as she can to let them know what has happened. I should be doing the same thing -- calling people -- but I just can't. I can't face doing it. Can't face talking to anyone just now. Besides, my place is here, next to Brian. My cellphone stays in the pocket of my sweatshirt, turned off.
Brian is still just sitting quietly, so I get up from the couch and go into the kitchen to boil water for some tea. I need to calm my nerves. And Brian needs -- something. I look out the kitchen window and see that the police are still here, or at least two of the squad cars are. A uniformed officer is talking to one of Howie Sheldon's security guards. Some studio people are coming and going. They must have arrived with Howie. I have no idea what they are doing here. Three of them are sitting out by the pool, laughing, like it's some kind of fucking party. Finally, Tess storms out of Ron's office and throws them out of the house. She also tells Howie to get lost, too.
"The final arrangements will have to be made as soon as possible," says Howie, staring Tess down. "Temple Beth El, of course, for the memorial service, which will be open to all of Ron's friends and colleagues, as well as the Hollywood film community. And then a private internment for the immediate family. I'm sure that Ron's mother won't have any trouble with that. We'll have to wait for the Medical Examiner to sign off on this, but it shouldn't be a problem."
"Oh, really?" I say, butting in. "You weren't here when that police detective was questioning Brian. He acted like he wanted to arrest him!"
"Don't worry about that, kid. No one is going to be arrested," says Howie, brushing me off. "For what? An accidental overdose? I don't think so. Don't worry about Detective Parra. He knows the score in this situation. I have things under control."
Howie gets on his cellphone and makes a few more calls while I bring the tea into the living room. I sit down next to Brian and pour the tea and a lot of sugar into his cup. Tess sits down on his other side and encourages him to drink a little. He still hasn't said anything more. It's like Brian has completely shut down, physically and emotionally. I hold the cup up to his mouth, but he just pushes it away.
That's when I hear a door slam and Freddy Weinstein bursts into the house. Freddy is Ron's agent and good friend -- and he definitely doesn't care for Brian at all. Freddy is always making snarky comments about Brian, both behind his back and right to his face. He's known all about Brian's past since Brian first came out to California and he never misses a chance to mention it. Brian also told me that Freddy was pissed because Brian signed with Lew Blackmore as his agent and not him. Freddy's wife is that blonde woman with all the jewelry and the scary, tight face who is always reaching for Brian's dick. He told me all about Dolly Weinstein cornering him in the bathroom of their house at a party and whipping out his dick in nothing flat! Brian says that after he started living with Ron, Dolly used to call him constantly, trying to get him to come over to their house to 'swim.' She didn't care that Brian was gay, she just wanted to get into his pants!
"Freddy, get the fuck out of here!" says Howie when he sees this new arrival. "Who let you in anyway?"
"I just got the word from my wife! She saw it on MSNBC!" Freddy shouts. He's wearing loud plaid trousers and a cream golf shirt. "I came straight over from Hillcrest! I was playing golf. I was on the 9th tee! What the fuck happened to Ron?"
"Freddy -- Ron...." Jimmy hesitates. "He overdosed, Fred. I found him this morning."
"That's horseshit! Ron would NEVER OD! He hardly ever even DRANK, for fucksake! And Ron was certainly NOT a fucking drug abuser!" Freddy's face is flushed. He looks around the room and sees Brian sitting on the couch. "At least he wasn't until YOU came to town. Isn't that RIGHT? You cocksucking bastard!" Freddy lunges for Brian and grabs the front of his white tee shirt.
That finally seems to rouse Brian out of his stupor. "Take your hands off me, Freddy! I mean it!"
Both Tess and I pull at Weinstein simultaneously, trying to get him away from Brian. But he drags Brian to his feet and starts shaking him. Freddy Weinstein is a big, burly guy and has at least 50 pounds on Brian, but Brian is no fucking wimp. He's overly thin and he's in shock, but Brian still has a lot of years of working out at the gym in him. He pries Freddy's hands off his shirt and pushes him away. "Don't touch me!" Brian spits.
"Touch you? I'm gonna fucking KILL you, you fucking faggot!" Freddy screams hysterically.
"Calm down, Freddy," says Howie, trying to step between the two men. Tess and I stand on either side of Brian, backing him up. Brian is breathing hard, like he just did a half-hour on the treadmill. And Freddy really looks like he wants to kill someone. Like Brian.
"It's HIM! You know that, don't you, Howie? HE did it! Ever since he came to town Ron has been off the rails!" Freddy says, his voice a bit quieter now, but still full of venom. "He's a fucking whore AND an addict. We all know it. Look at 'Red Shirt'! Your studio can't keep THAT under wraps anymore, Howie! That secret was never very secret and after those fucking obscene photos hit the press everyone knows what this son of a bitch really is! You'll do anything, won't you, faggot? You killed Ron, didn't you? DIDN'T YOU?"
"No!" Brian yells back. "You're crazy, Freddy! I wouldn't hurt Ron!" I grip Brian's arm. He's trembling, but standing firm.
Freddy's face is so red he looks like he's about to have a heart attack. "Now you have everything, don't you? Isn't that what you wanted? How long have you been planning this? Did you blackmail Ron into putting you into 'The Olympian'? You did, didn't you? Admit it!"
"That's a lie, Freddy," Jimmy puts in. "I wanted Brian in the picture."
But Freddy Weinstein sneers. "Don't cover up for pretty boy, Jimmy. It's not very convincing. Everyone in Hollywood knows the truth about you two, so don't act like an innocent party!" Freddy turns back to Brian. "Was it all worth it? Just to get everything? Was it, faggot?"
"Get what? I don't know what the fuck you are talking about!" says Brian, looking confused.
"This house. Ron's money. His films. Everything, that's what!" Freddy yells. "I warned Ron -- Manny Fishman warned him, too -- when he changed his will last winter. That he was out of his fucking mind to leave everything to some fucking hustler! But he didn't listen to me! He wouldn't listen to anyone about you! And this is the result!"
"I don't know what you mean!" says Brian. He looks pleadingly at Howie. At Jimmy. "What is he talking about?"
Jimmy nods. "It's true, Bri. Ron changed his will last February. He left everything to you. Except the trust for his mother and a couple of other things. But I know that you didn't know, Brian. I know he didn't tell you. He didn't know, Fred! Listen to me! Believe me!"
"Bullshit!" Freddy explodes. "Don't tell ME he didn't know! That he wasn't behind this whole thing! To get his hands on Ron's money. This house! The rights to all Ron's films! Every fucking thing! He KNEW! He was behind it!"
"That's not true!" says Brian, desperately. "I didn't know anything about that! About the will. We... we never discussed anything like that! And you think that I'd... I'd do something to Ron for... for what? A house? A car? Especially now? It doesn't make sense, Freddy! I don't need Ron's money! I've never needed it! I've always had my own money, even before I came to California. That's not why... why I was with him. Believe me! It was never about money! Never!"
"Stick to that fucking story, you bastard!" Freddy barks. "You're pure evil! I know that for a fact! Ron was a SAINT! A saint, I tell you! All he ever did was help you. He took you out of the gutter. He brought you into his house. Gave you all kinds of expensive gifts. Put you in his fucking movie! And got you into a hospital for treatment when you had a fucking nervous breakdown! Don't forget THAT! Because you went NUTS! And Ron did everything!"
"Freddy, you are out of line with this shit!" says Jimmy.
"Shut up, Jim," says Freddy. "I'm not finished telling your boyfriend what I think of him! Yeah, all that stuff Ron did for you -- and this is what YOU did to repay him! He didn't drink or use any kind of drugs -- until YOU came along and got him hooked on it! Deny THAT! THAT is the real truth!" Freddy glares at Brian. Glares at me. Glares at Jimmy. Then he looks at Howie Sheldon. "I bet this bastard was here. When it happened. I bet HE gave Ron whatever it was that killed him. I'm willing to bet my career on it."
"It wasn't Brian's fault!" Jimmy insists. "It happened after Brian left!"
"Nice work, Jim," says Howie, disgustedly. "Nice work!"
"I knew it! You WERE here when it happened." Freddy takes a step closer to Brian, but Brian stands his ground. He pushes Tess and I back a little, behind him, to protect us from Freddy. "I knew you were here with Ron. You had to be. You know what you've done, you cocksucker. And I know what you've done. You are so FUCKED in this town! I'll make certain EVERYONE knows! That everyone knows who is to blame for this! Because it wasn't Ron! I KNOW Ron and he'd never do anything like this. He'd NEVER kill himself! But you... you did it. YOU killed him." Freddy's eyes are frightening in their intensity. "You're poison, faggot! POISON! You made Ron into a fag. I know you did. Ron told me the story a long time ago. How he tried to help you, but you turned him into a fucking fag! That's what you do. Fucking Queer Kryptonite! Everything you touch is destroyed. Everyone you touch turns into a fag! You know that, don't you, Kinney? And this kid," Freddy says, pointing at me. "You made HIM into a faggot, too, and then almost got HIM killed!"
"That's a fucking lie!" I shout.
"Justin, stand back," says Brian, holding me.
Freddy smiles grimly. "And now Jimmy, too. I don't know why you're defending this guy, Tess. Because your husband is next on his list -- if it isn't already too late."
"You're distraught, Fred. Why don't you just leave?" says Tess, trying to keep her voice level.
"It IS too late, isn't it?" Freddy Weinstein glances at Jimmy. "He's already turned you into a faggot, hasn't he? Watch your back, Jimmy. 'American's Boy Next Door' had better be careful. They'll be carrying YOU out to the morgue next."
"That's enough, Fred," says Howie Sheldon. "If you don't leave now, I'm calling my security people to throw you out. They never should have let you in here in the first place."
"I'm leaving," says Freddy. "But I'm not finished. No, I'm not finished. Not by a fucking long shot. I'll leave you all to your 'grief.' To mourn properly. I can see how broken up you are, Kinney." And he stalks out of the living room. Howie follows him, making certain that he is really leaving.
"Don't listen to Freddy, Bri. He's just upset," says Jimmy, coming over and patting Brian's shoulder.
Brian swallows. He looks like he's still in shock. "Did you really know about... about Ron's will? Did you know, Jim?" asks Brian.
Jimmy pauses. "Yes, I knew, Brian. I'm Ron's executor, so I knew."
"Why didn't anyone fucking tell me?" Brian breathes. "Why didn't RON tell me?"
"I guess... he didn't think it would make any difference. Would it have?" asks Jimmy.
"No," says Brian, running his hand through his hair helplessly. "No difference at all." But Brian is wrong. It makes all the difference in the world -- to other people.
Brian looks up and sees the big antique mirror over the couch. It's kind of fussy and doesn't really match the rest of the decor, but it makes the dark, low-ceilinged living room a little brighter. He goes over, leans against it, and begins smashing at the mirror with his fists.
"Brian! Stop!" I tell him, trying to pull him away.
But he hits it hard. Fiercely. The mirror cracks in the corner and he hits it even harder. And harder again. Until it shatters and the silverbacked shards of glass fall down around us. He keeps hitting at the mirror until his knuckles are bloody. I keep pulling at him, but he doesn't stop until he notices that I have fragments of broken glass in my hair. He stops and brushes them away gently.
"Brian -- please!" I say. And he sinks down onto the couch, with his face in his hands. The blood on his fingers and knuckles smears all over his face and hair, leaving angry red streaks on his beautiful golden skin. And on my face as he drops his head onto my shoulder.
Continue on to Page 2 of "I Shall Be Released -- Part 4".