This is Chapter 6 of the "Queer Realities" series.
Go back to "Queer Theories" for the beginning of this saga.
Features Tim Reilly, Brian Kinney, Frank Scanlon, Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Father Tim Reilly has two visitors at the Rectory. Pittsburgh, December 1988. Flashback.
Disclaimer: This is for fun, not profit. Watch Queer As Folk on Showtime, buy the DVDs, videos, and CDs. Read the stories and enjoy.
"Can I come in?" said the shivering voice as Father Tim Reilly opened the door of the Rectory at the St. Lawrence Group Home.
"Brian," Tim replied, stepping back in surprise. His stomach leaped up. "What are you doing here?"
"That's a long story, Tim," the boy answered, sniffling. The snow was falling. It was five days before Christmas.
"Come on in then," Tim said. And Brian walked through the door, his head down.
Tim took Brian into the kitchen and put the kettle on to boil. "How about some mint tea? Or hot chocolate?"
Brian shrugged. "Whatever you're having." He took off his heavy winter coat. It looked new and had a thick fur collar. Brian draped the coat carefully on the back of one of the battered kitchen chairs and then sat in it. His nose and cheeks were red with the raw weather.
"Did you walk all the way over here?" Tim asked, sitting down in the opposite chair. He gazed steadily at the boy he had been trying so hard to forget for the past several months.
"I took the bus and then walked the rest of the way. It wasn't too far." Brian took out a kleenex and blew his nose. "I've got a little cold."
"Don't you have school tomorrow, Brian?"
Brian looked down. "Christmas vacation starts tomorrow."
Tim snorted. "No it doesn't, Brian. Friday is the last day for the Pittsburgh schools and Christmas is on Sunday. So what's going on? Why are you over here when it's after 11 o'clock on a school night?"
"Why do you think?" the boy answered, his lip trembling.
"Did your father come home drunk?" Tim asked gently.
Brian nodded. "I guess he started celebrating early this year. He came back from his bowling league a little revved up -- and I made the mistake of being alive and in his way. I was sitting in the living room, doing some homework and watching TV. He knocked my Chemistry book on the floor. So I stood up and told him not to mess with me."
The kettle whistled and Tim got up and poured two cups of tea and brought them to the table. "That must have been difficult, Brian."
"You know, Tim, sometimes... sometimes there's only so much you can take. He... he slapped me pretty hard, but I just stood there, waiting. That stopped him. So I told him that if he hit me again I'd... I'd punch his fucking lights out! And he backed off. He actually backed off!"
"The man is a coward, Brian. And cowards don't like to be challenged," said Tim, taking a sip of his steaming tea. "Besides the fact that you aren't a child anymore. I bet you're as tall as he is."
"Almost," Brian replied. "Pop could have flattened me if he'd wanted to. He's still a lot bigger than me. But he backed down." Brian picked up his cup of tea and stared into it. "But I couldn't stay there. I can't stand to be in that house." He looked up at Tim, his hazel eyes shining with everything that he couldn't express."I'm just barely hanging on there. Every day I have to walk on eggs. I'm fucking counting the days until Graduation and then...."
Tim's heart was heavy for all that Brian was enduring. "What then, Brian?"
Brian shook his head. "Whatever. If I get into a good school and get a scholarship, then I can move on. I can make my own life and forget about all of them. And if I don't... I guess I'll get a job. Maybe join the Navy or something like that."
"You'll definitely get into a good school, Brian," said Tim, encouragingly. "And you'll get that scholarship. Your grades are still up, aren't they?"
"Yes," Brian whispered.
"And... your sponsor?" asked Tim, a tinge of jealousy darkening his blue eyes. "Is he still in the picture?"
"Yes," Brian said again. He looked away from Tim. Brian picked up the white ceramic sugar bowl and spooned in a heap of sugar, stirring it noisily.
"Then why didn't you go over there? To the Scanlons? Why come here?"
The boy looked up. Tim saw clearly now where Jack Kinney had hit his son. A bruise was beginning to form on Brian's left cheek. That must have been a hard slap, Tim thought. He badly wanted to touch the bruise. Heal it, somehow. Heal this boy, fully and completely.
"First I went over to Mikey's." His friend from school. A short, sad-eyed boy who liked comic books. "But there was no one there. And I couldn't go over to Frank's. His daughters are all home for Christmas and they have lots of family staying there and parties and things every night." Brian swallowed down some tea. "That tea is nice and warm," he commented. "Frank told me to stay away from the house while all those people are around. I think that his wife Grace is getting wise to something. Or maybe he's afraid one of his daughters will get the hots for me." Brian laughed bitterly.
"You knew that would happen... eventually," Tim said softly.
"I know. But sometimes when you really need to be with someone...." Brian paused, playing with his cup. "I thought about going over to Liberty Avenue and picking up a trick there. I'm tall enough so that they don't hassle me when I go into the bars. And I'm hot enough so that I can choose pretty much anyone I want. That would have meant a place to stay for the night -- and some extra cash to get something to eat and tide me over for a couple of days."
Tim sighed. This had always been Tim's greatest fear. That Brian would fall back on hustling when things got difficult. That was one reason Tim had been so determined to find him a good sponsor. But it had all gone so wrong somehow. "So why didn't you do that, Brian?"
"It wasn't because I have a problem with it, because I don't, Tim!" Brian snapped back. "A fuck is a fuck. Someone always gets something out of it, whether a meal or cash or just getting your rocks off. But... I don't know. I didn't feel like being with some stranger tonight. I just didn't. So I came here instead. If you want me to leave, just say so."
"No," Tim replied. "I don't want you to leave. Are you hungry? There's leftover chicken in the kitchen over at the main house. And I have some stuff for sandwiches in here."
"I'm not hungry. Thanks, though." Brian drank down the rest of the tea. "I'm just really, really tired."
Tim took Brian to the Infirmary and snapped on the light. It was the same room where Brian had lived for most of the time he'd been at St. Lawrence. It was where he'd been moved after Tim had walked in on three larger, tougher boys abusing him during his first month there that past spring. "It's still not fancy, but it's not too bad," said Tim, cheerily. Brian looked around. His cardboard box of books was gone and his brush and comb were no longer on the small dresser, but otherwise it looked the same. A picture of the Sacred Heart hung over the bed. "Here's an extra blanket, Brian. The heating in this old place isn't too great."
"Thanks," said Brian. "I'm sure it'll be okay."
"Oh, and more kleenex is in here." Tim opened the cupboard where the First Aid supplies were kept and took out a box. "You want to take care of that cold."
"Thanks again." Brian set the box on the little table next to the cot. He pulled out a tissue and blew his nose. "Thanks for letting me stay here, Tim."
"It's no problem, Brian. Better here than wandering around the streets in the middle of the night." Tim thought about what had happened to Brian the last time he'd fled his home in the dead of winter almost a year before. He had ended up in New York City, with a drug habit, selling his ass to stay alive. He'd barely survived that ordeal. But now he has an alternative, thought Tim. And I don't want to see him go back to square one.
Tim went upstairs and got ready for bed. He needed his rest. The boys had a full round of activities this week in preparation for Christmas. They were having a big party and exchanging presents on Christmas Eve and then an Open House for the Trustees and 'Friends of St. Lawrence' on Christmas Day. Tim hadn't had much time to brood recently because things had been so hectic. He felt guilty that he hadn't been following Brian's progress the way he should have. Brian was Tim's great potential success story and he didn't want the boy to fall by the wayside just because Tim was too busy to be there when Brian really needed him.
But there were so many boys, thought Tim, so many people -- and they all needed something. Tim sighed as he finished his prayers. He wrote briefly in his journal. He rarely had time to write down everything he was thinking about. His Spiritual Director would be disappointed with his lack of progress in that regard, but what could he do? There just wasn't enough time in the day. And never enough time for himself....
Tim got into bed and closed his eyes. Things seemed to be going so well. Funding for St.Lawrence was up. He now had two lay helpers, John and Andrew, to help look after the boys and spell Tim when he needed a break. And this little glitch with Brian... it didn't seem too serious. He'd call Mrs. Kinney's parish priest and get him over to the Kinneys' house to smooth the way for Brian to go home. Or he'd threaten Jack Kinney with Social Services. That had worked before and it was sure to work again. Brian was so close to getting into a good college and getting out of that hell hole of a home. Only a few months left....
The door of the room opened. It was very dark, but Tim didn't even have to guess who it was. He felt his presence, his heat, his breath all the way across the room. Brian pulled at the covers of the bed and climbed in.
"Brian, go back downstairs," said Tim. "I mean it. This isn't why I told you that you could stay."
"I'm cold. And it's dark down there. You know I'm afraid of the dark." Brian moved up against the older man. He was naked, of course. Brian's touch felt so familiar, so welcome. Even as Tim was protesting, his body was reaching out to let Brian know just how much he'd been missed. Tim's erection betrayed him whenever Brian was this near. "I know you want me, Tim. You don't have to do anything. Just let me stay here. Don't you send me away, too." The boy's voice cracked with emotion.
"Brian, I don't want to hurt you. Sending you away doesn't mean that I am rejecting you. But you know this isn't right."
"What's the difference?" the boy shrugged. "I slept here with you all summer. So what does one more night matter?"
"That's not the point, Brian. As you yourself pointed out to me so succinctly, I am not your boyfriend. You can't keep doing this." Tim swallowed, his heart in his throat. "I can't keep doing this."
Brian's head was against Tim's chest and Tim knew that he was crying. This kid had so much going for him -- looks, intelligence, charm -- and yet he was so desperately unhappy. So desperately needy. Starved for any kind of affection. And, Tim realized, so was he. He was starved for someone to be close to. Someone to share his feelings with. But not just any someone. He was starved for Brian, specifically. Tim had tried to fight his feelings for the boy all summer, hoping that when Brian returned home the emotions that overwhelmed Tim would fade. But they hadn't. They were as strong as ever. And having Brian here, next to him in bed, was just fanning those flames. Tim stroked Brian's hair. It felt like silk.
"Tim? What's the matter with me? Do you think I'm crazy or something?"
"Of course not, baby," said Tim, holding him tightly. "What makes you say that?"
"I don't know. My feelings, I guess. Sometimes I just feel so fucking mixed up. I don't know what I'm doing half the time."
"I think that's normal for a 17 year old, Brian. Even grown-ups feel all mixed up inside. I know that I do."
"But you know who you are, Tim. You're a priest. You don't have to wonder. You're sure."
"Am I, Brian?" replied Tim, seriously. "I'm not sure at all. Of anything. Especially when you're here. I'm not acting much like a priest right now, am I?"
"Am I screwing you up, Tim?" Brian asked, wiping his eyes on the edge of the sheet. "I'm sorry if I'm fucking you up."
"Don't be sorry, Brian. You aren't fucking me up at all."
"But I know I am, Tim. I fuck up everyone I get close to. Maybe if my old man hadn't beaten on me. And maybe if I hadn't ended up in New York. Maybe if...." The boy stopped and made a mournful, stifled sound. "Maybe then I wouldn't be so mixed up. Maybe I could be normal. Maybe I still can be."
"You mean, 'normal' as in liking girls and doing all the things a 17 year old boy does, Brian?"
"I guess." Brian sighed. "But that's never going to happen, is it, Tim?"
"I think the confusion you feel is pretty normal, Brian," Tim said. His fingers were wrapped around a strand of Brian's silky hair. "Most 17 year olds feel mixed up. Most of them are having trouble with their parents. Many of them are trying to figure out what life is all about. And that's what you're doing."
Brian snorted. "And have most of them been smack addicts? Or whores? How many of them are fucking their priest? Or the 45 year old guy who's bankrolling their education? That makes me really normal, Tim!"
"Brian, listen to me," answered Tim. "I'm not saying that what you're doing -- or what we're doing -- is right. But that doesn't make you bad. Because you aren't. Sometimes we survive any way we can. Sometimes we make choices that aren't always the best, but there are always other chances. Many, many chances. You have to believe that the way you are isn't bad. It isn't wrong. It's the way that God created you. And He created something beautiful when He made you, Brian."
"Then why do I feel so bad, Tim?"
Tim took a deep breath. "Maybe you better go back downstairs now." He started to sit up.
"No! Just let me stay here and go to sleep, okay?" Brian cried. He pulled Tim back down, deep into the blankets. The December air was cold in the badly heated Rectory. Tim cradled Brian's head against his chest until he could feel his ragged breath steady. Brian slept soundly in the dark, but Tim stared straight ahead. Wondering what he was going to do now. Knowing that feelings Tim had thought were beginning to recede were right there, just as powerful, just as impossible as ever.
The next day Brian refused to return home, so Tim put him to work with the other boys. They were getting St. Lawrence ready for Christmas by cleaning and decorating. Brian, who was used to ordering the other boys around from his previous stay, took charge and got the young delinquents hopping in ways that Tim's part-time lay assistants, John and Andrew, never could. There was something about Brian that made him a born leader -- or a born tyrant. He looked commanding, his head held high on his already tall body, and he had a streak of temper that the boys sensed they better not cross. Tim actually felt confident leaving Brian in charge while Tim worked in the office and John went shopping.
Tim pondered whether he should call Brian's parents. Surely they must be wondering where he was. Surely they must be worried about him. But then Tim remembered that these were the same people who had never even reported their son missing when he ran away almost a year before. The same people who had never visited him in the hospital during his rehabilitation from drug addiction. Who had taken the reformed Brian back into their home only grudgingly.
But Tim had a responsibility after all. He looked up the Kinneys' number and dialed. To his relief, he got the answering machine. Tim left a brief, falsely cheerful message telling Mrs. Kinney that her son was staying at St. Lawrence House and that she should call Father Tim to discuss the situation. Tim also added that Brian was helping with the Christmas celebration and that Tim would make certain that her son attended Mass, since it was a Holy Day of Obligation. Tim hoped that bit of information would shake Mrs. Kinney out of her maddening stupor, since she was such a stickler for her own religious duty.
But two days went by and neither Joan Kinney nor her brutish husband called back. Brian didn't seem particularly concerned. Tim lent Brian a pair of his old jeans and some briefs and tee shirts to wear and the boy slipped back into the routine at the St. Lawrence House with perfect ease. And each night, Brian came into Tim's bed and they made love. That was with more than perfect ease.
On Friday, the day before Christmas Eve, Tim sent Brian and Andrew and the boys out to a local mall in the old van to buy some small gifts for each other. They were also going to have pizza at the food court, which the boys had been looking forward to all week. Tim was sitting in his office in the Rectory when he heard the bell ringing. Tim looked out and saw a man standing at the door. It was Francis Scanlon.
"I know Brian is here," said Scanlon, brushing the snow off his expensive camel coat.
"How do you know he's here?" Tim replied coldly. Frank Scanlon was the last person Tim wanted to see at the door of the Rectory.
"His mother told me. I called there this afternoon, looking for him," Scanlon answered as he waited in the entryway for Tim to usher him further in. But Tim hesitated. He didn't want Francis Scanlon, with his costly coat, his luxury car, and his Gold Card, coming to the door to get Brian. Tim rued the day he had brought Brian into the Scanlon home, trotting him up and down like a prize pony. But Tim also knew that it was too late for those regrets. "It's funny that Mrs. Kinney has yet to call to let me know she's received all the messages I've left on her answering machine. To tell me that she realizes that her son is here at St. Lawrence and that he's safe."
Scanlon smiled weakly. "I'm certain that she knows Brian is in good hands."
But Tim didn't smile back. Instead, he led the attorney into his small office. Tim sat down behind the battered desk, while Scanlon took one of the old, mismatched chairs. "Is there something I can do for you, Mr. Scanlon?"
Scanlon frowned. "I... I came to get Brian."
Tim stared back. "And do what, Mr. Scanlon? Take him home? Did his mother ask you to bring him back?"
"Not... exactly." Scanlon looked decidedly uncomfortable.
"Then what... exactly?"
"I thought I'd take Brian somewhere he could stay. I mean until this disagreement with his father cools off."
"Is Mr. Kinney still angry? Is that why they haven't called here to ask about their son?" But Scanlon didn't answer. Tim sat up straight in his chair. "Brian already IS somewhere -- he's here, Mr. Scanlon." Now Tim was getting really angry. "If he leaves here it will be to go home. But he's not leaving here because you weren't planning to take Brian to your own house, were you? Brian says you have quite a houseful of visitors staying with you. Is there room for Brian, too?"
Frank Scanlon squirmed in his chair. "No, I wasn't thinking of my house. I... I thought I'd put him up somewhere. Just until everything is... is straightened around."
"Somewhere? Like a hotel, Mr. Scanlon? Where precisely did you have in mind?" Tim stared directly at the man in a way calculated to let Scanlon understand that the priest knew everything. Everything. So there was no use pretending.
"I have this small apartment. Actually, my law firm leases it. For clients... and things. Other things." Scanlon gulped. "I thought he could stay there. Just for the time being."
Tim sat back, his heart pounding. This was his own fault. He'd personally selected this man to be Brian's sponsor. How could Tim have known how wrong it would go? "So, this apartment that your firm keeps for the partners' lunchtime quickies and other peccadillos -- you are planning to keep a 17 year old boy there, Scanlon? A 17 year old boy who you've been taking sexual advantage of since not long after I brought him to your house back in August. The boy I introduced to you and your wife because he needed help with his education. Because he's handsome and smart and he has no money and his father is a worthless drunk and abuser. This boy who you are now using in every way you can, is that correct, Mr. Scanlon?"
Scanlon was silent. He looked everywhere but at Father Tim.
"Tell me, Scanlon, how long before your wife figures out what is going on here? Or before one of your law partners sees something and realizes what you're up to? Because I'm not the brightest guy in the world, but it's pretty apparent to me that your interest in Brian is no longer very philanthropic."
"Brian has obviously confided in you, Father Reilly," said Scanlon, nervously.
"He didn't have to!" Tim returned. "I know Brian so well that when I saw you two together at the Irish Fest back in October I realized that something was going on. And speaking to Brian only confirmed it."
Frank Scanlon's mouth worked up and down, as if he were chewing on something. "Do you mind if I smoke, Father?"
"Yes, I do mind, Mr. Scanlon," said Tim, using his stern 'priest' voice. "I don't allow smoking in here -- if you don't mind."
"Sorry, Father," said Scanlon. "I can't believe you... you knew... back in October. And Brian knows that you know! Why didn't he warn me? He never said anything!"
"Why should he say anything?" replied Tim, his voice taking on a sharper edge. He hated sitting there having a conversation with this man. Tim understood that his anger was completely hypocritical, that it was all about jealousy more than about protecting Brian. But this man, who had everything -- wealth, power, family prestige -- was now claiming Brian, too. It wasn't right. It wasn't fair.
"Because he promised me that he'd be... discreet," the man answered.
"Brian isn't afraid of what he is and he isn't the least bit apologetic, Mr. Scanlon," Tim countered coolly. "You'd know that about Brian if you talked to him about anything other than sex!" Tim paused. "What do you think I'm going to do, call your wife? Your partners or clients? Your pals at the Hibernian Society?"
"Of course not!" Scanlon retorted. "Listen, Father, I know you want the best for Brian. Well, so do I. I want to help him. I want to see him get away from that family of his and have a chance to succeed." Frank Scanlon fidgeted with his soft leather gloves. "You probably think I'm evil, Father. I know that I'm a... a sinner. But there's no one I can talk to about this! Not even my own confessor! I'm too afraid. I've never felt anything like this before in my life. Can you possibly understand what I'm saying, Father?"
Tim took a deep breath. It was difficult for him to meet the other man's eyes. Because he knew exactly what Frances Scanlon was feeling. "Perhaps I can. Somewhat, Mr. Scanlon."
The man was sweating, even in the cold office. "I love my wife, Father Reilly. And my family. I really do. But... it's like a different world with Brian. Grace and I are both devout Catholics, as you know. We were both... virgins when we got married. That's what I believed in and that's how I've lived my life. In all those years I never even thought of... of... having an affair, let alone with a... a boy!" Scanlon sputtered. "I can't explain it, Father, but Brian... he... he...." The man paused, his eyes darting around the room furtively. "One night back in September, after I took Brian to a Pirates' game, we were sitting in my car talking and he... he leaned over and kissed me. On the mouth! I was so shocked that I didn't know what to think! But he didn't stop. It's like he knew exactly what he was doing, knew exactly what he wanted. And I kissed him back, Father! So he kept... doing it! Kissing me. Touching me. And then he did... more." Scanlon's face was flushed. "He took my penis out of my trousers and... and... No one had ever done that to me before! Grace would never do such a thing to me. She'd never even think of such a thing! But... I didn't stop him, Father. I didn't want to stop him. I wanted him to do it -- and do more. I had to have more after that."
"I think I understand," Tim murmured.
"I couldn't stop myself at first. And then I didn't want to stop myself."
Tim sat and listened, his heart in his throat. "But you knew it was wrong, Mr. Scanlon. You knew that." Tim blinked and looked down, burning with his own guilt. His own shame. His cock was getting hard listening to Frank Scanlon's story. Anticipating that he would have Brian all to himself that night -- if this other man didn't spirit the boy away.
"Yes," Scanlon whispered, as if he were in Confession. "I knew it was wrong. But I didn't care! HE didn't care, either! Brian laughed at my fear. He looks so innocent, Father, but he's like a demon. He taught me to do things that I never... I never imagined people did. Things that men do with each other. Sinful things. I guess I'm naive that way, Father. Ignorant. I didn't know about those things then, but I know about them now. And that's all I think about. All the time." Scanlon swallowed. "I think I need a psychiatrist. I just don't know how to stop myself. I've prayed -- but it doesn't help at all! What should I do, Father?"
"Perhaps you ought to separate yourself from Brian completely, Mr. Scanlon," said Tim, carefully.
Frank Scanlon looked directly at Father Tim. "I can't. I know what I should do, but I can't. I told Brian I couldn't see him until after the New Year. Too many people, too many family functions and business events over Christmas. But I couldn't stay away. That's how I knew he had run away. When I went to find him." Scanlon's voice rose. "I have to see him, Father! I just want to talk to him! That's all! Just... talk."
"I think you had better go home now, Mr. Scanlon." Father Tim stood and walked to the door of his office, opening it. "You need time to consider what you're doing -- and so does Brian. Give yourself that time. And give the kid some space, too." Tim nodded. "Enjoy Christmas. Think about what your wife and family mean to you. Don't throw all that away over an obsession that may well fade as quickly as it began."
Scanlon pushed back the old chair and stood. He put on his long camel coat. Then he paused next to Tim in the doorway. "Fade quickly? It's been going on for three months now and it only gets stronger with every day that passes. I can't shake this, Father. I've tried. I just can't."
"I'm sorry, Mr. Scanlon," answered Tim. "I'll pray for you." And Tim watched the other man go out into the sleet.
But, thought Tim, what about me? My obsession with Brian has been going on for much longer than Scanlon's, and it's not fading either. So, who is going to pray for me? Tim's hands were shaking as he closed the front door of the Rectory. Then he went back into his office to wait for Brian to return from the mall with the other boys. To wait to tell Brian that he had to leave St. Lawrence and return home immediately. And that he could never come back again.
Continue on to "The Jump".
©Gaedhal, February 2004.
Posted February 8, 2004.