This is Chapter 87 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "Day Tripper", the previous chapter.
The narrator is Emmett Honeycutt, featuring Justin Taylor.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Emmett gets a long distance phone call. Pittsburgh/Bath, August 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.
It's Monday -- which is when I have my afternoon off from Jerking at Work. I get Wednesday afternoons off, too. That's when all the doctors play golf, so I like to think that all of us professionals take that time for a little R & R.
Of course, when you whack-off for a living, what you do for R & R varies. What I do is watch a little television. Catch up on my soaps. See what Erica Kane is plotting this week. And at 3:00 I plop myself down and watch my very favorite show in the WHOLE world -- Christopher Lowell and his home decorating show! My favorite USED to be 'The Rosie O'Donnell Show' but she dyked out on me and QUIT! What was THAT all about? You DON'T GO, girl! So, Christopher is now my man! Or my queen! Whatever. What he can do with a staplegun and a few yards of tulle is to die for! I LOVE the way he's like Martha Stewart for queers. It's divine!
So, I'm watching Christopher talking to a WAY hunky fellow who finds matches for your discontinued china patterns, when the phone rings. Ordinarily I'd let it go to the machine, but the phone is right next to me and something says, 'Emmett -- pick that up!' And so I do.
"Who is this? BABY? Is that YOU?"
"It's me, Emmett. I'm in England!"
"Oh my GOD! Justin! Where ARE you exactly?"
"I'm in Bath. Brian and I are in Bath!"
Now THIS I'm trying to picture! "Did you just say that you and Brian were in the bath? I want DETAILS!"
"Not IN the bath, Emmett! In BATH! It's a city."
"Oh," I say, rather disappointed. Because I'm so enjoying the picture of Brian and Justin in the tub. In fact, I believe that I'll be using that image later tonight during my evening shift on Jerk at Work. Should make motivating my cock to perform quite simple.
"Well, what are you doing, Baby? Having a fabulous time?"
"Unbelievable, Emmett! Really amazing!"
"Dish, honey! I'm ALL ears." I put the mute on Christopher Lowell. Sorry Chris, but this takes precedence!
"Brian rented a car and we're driving around. We're heading for the Lake District."
"Is that like the Great Lakes?"
"No, Em! It's a really romantic place with lots of lakes and mountains. All the English poets used to go up there for inspiration. Wordsworth. Coleridge. It's supposed to be very beautiful!"
"Honey, the two of you have never needed to look at a mountain or a lake or anything but each other to get any 'inspiration' -- if you know what I mean!"
"Emmett! You're a bad influence!"
"Well, it's true, isn't it?"
And I hear Justin laugh. It's so good to hear him laughing! Especially when I think of his sad face last Christmas when we went shopping together. All I could think of at the time was that is a face that was NOT made for tears!
"Em, you should have seen our hotel in London. It was so... well, Brian said it looked like a French Whorehouse crossed with a Harem! There was a big tent over the bed. And huge pillows. And oriental carpets. Sir Kenneth Fielding -- he is in the movie that Brian made over here -- he told us that it was the best place in London for a dirty weekend -- or a honeymoon!"
"Oh, my!" I exclaim. "Honeymoon! What ARE you saying, boy?" Could it be...?
"Oh, Emmett. I'm only telling you that this hotel was really, really romantic. It was like it was created as a place just to... make love! Everything about it! From the huge bed to the big, old fashioned bathtub! And we did IT in every possible place! And a few that weren't so possible -- but we did it there anyway!"
I'm trying to picture this -- and the picture is making certain things sit up and take notice!
"And we stayed a couple of times at a big mansion out in the country. It's owned by Harry Collins -- he's a big soap opera star here. And now he's a really good friend."
"Soap opera? What's this soap called? Maybe I've seen it!"
'Mornington Close.' I don't think it's ever been shown in the States. I never heard of it before I came here. But he's completely famous in England. And he's so nice. And the house is like in a movie, with a butler and gardens and stables!"
"Ooo! Is this Harry a dishy Brit like Jude Law? I picture him dressed all in tweeds, looking soulful like he JUST stepped out of 'Brideshead Revisited'!" And I'm now picturing LOTS of fun-filled weekends in a big old mansion in England!
"No, Em! Nothing like that! Harry is about sixty years old and looks like my grandfather."
"Oh," I say. "Too bad." Well, there goes another fantasy!
"But Brian and I went horseback riding the other day and had a picnic by the river down there."
"Brian?" I have to take THIS in. "Our Brian Kinney? On a HORSE? And having a picnic? That's something the boys at Babylon won't believe!" Yes, I can easily picture Brian 'in the saddle' -- but NOT on a horse!
"Believe it, Em. Brian is a really good rider. I think he learned in college. And I won't go into detail about the picnic... But let's just say that it's a good thing there weren't any sightseers walking by -- or else they would've seen a few sights that were NOT listed in their guidebooks!"
"Yowsa! You are giving me the vapors, boy! Tell me more!"
"I think I've said enough -- for now."
"Honey, you can NEVER tell ME enough! So, where IS the Man? I'm surprised he's letting you call me."
"He's down in the hotel office, sending some faxes to his agent and to the studio. Business stuff. So, I thought I'd call. When Brian gets back we're going to dinner and then out to a pub. Bath is so cool, Emmett. It's like being in a Jane Austen novel!"
"Baby, English Lit was NOT my forte. But I understand what you mean. Is England as quaint as all get out?" I picture 'Mrs. Miniver' -- I cry every time I see that movie! And 'National Velvet'! Oh, that had horses in it. Justin and Elizabeth Taylor have about the same color eyes!
"This part is. London is really different. It's a modern city. But when you get out in the countryside it actually IS like being in a movie! Real castles! And the gardens! At Harry's house there's a maze in his garden. Brian and I got 'lost' in it for about two hours on Sunday morning when everyone else was at church. And all the bushes are trimmed to look like dragons and unicorns and lions. It's amazing!"
"Oh, I've always wanted to live in a little rose-covered cottage with a garden! And I'd write mystery novels and join the Art Appreciation Society. And with an internet hook-up, I could STILL do my shift at Jerk at Work every day!"
"Emmett! They have those cottages here for real, just like you'd imagine. And the churches are so beautiful. The stained glass gave me some ideas for a new project I want to try using color and glass. And even Brian will go into church -- as long as it's for the history and not the religion."
"My God! I wish I was there with you -- but not to put a cramp in your 'romance,' of course! So, how is THAT going?" NOW we get down to the REAL nitty-gritty.
There's a silence at the other end. That worries me. "Honey -- is everything all right?
"Things are... well, that's one of the things I wanted to talk to you about, Emmett."
"Well, talk away, sweetheart. That's what Aunty Em is here for."
"But first I wanted to find out if you would do something for me, Em. If that's okay?"
"Sure, Baby! Your wish is my command!"
"Friday is my mom's birthday. I've sent her some things from England. Presents. And a card. But I don't know when they will actually get there. So I wondered if you could, maybe, arrange to send some flowers? Maybe a small present from me that she could have on that day? I know you have a way with that kind of thing. You'd know just the right present, the right flowers. If you wouldn't mind?"
I'm so flattered by the boy's request! Did he ever imagine that I wouldn't do it? "Justin, I'd LOVE to do something for your mother! I'll make certain that she'll be well taken care of on her special day!"
I take down Justin's mother's addresses at work and at her condo, as well as a few other details. Her favorite colors and things. So that I can arrange for something truly fabulous. I want to make Justin proud of me.
"That's so great, Em. I really thought we'd be back in Pittsburgh by now, but so many things have come up...."
A bit of information -- perhaps? "Is everything okay about... Brian?" And here I hesitate. I'm not certain how much I should push Justin for details about Brian. But I'm so curious... and it WAS in the papers.... "I mean, when I heard that he was arrested...."
"That's all been taken care of, Em. It was a big misunderstanding. I'm sure Michael and Debbie told you that they both talked to Brian after he was released. It was another guy in the band that he was working with who got into the fight -- and Brian just got caught in the middle."
"And the thing about the drugs? Is everything okay there, hon?"
There's a pause at the other end. "That was... a mistake, Em. It's over now."
I do NOT like the way THAT sounds. "Tell Aunty Em, Baby. Is there a problem? You can tell me, Justin. You know you can trust me."
"I know. That's one reason why I called you." I hear him swallow. "Listen, Brian would fucking KILL me if he knew I was telling you things. He thinks I'VE got a big mouth -- and that YOU'VE got an even BIGGER mouth...."
"Well, he's right about THAT! MY talents in that area are certainly NO secret!"
"Emmett! Not THAT! Brian thinks that you CANNOT keep a secret."
"But I know I can trust you, Em, because of things we've talked about in the past. Things I've told you." Justin's voice gets a little lower, a little more serious. "And I have to talk to someone about some things. I can't really confide in Michael or Deb. They just would not understand. And my mom is impossible -- especially about anything having to do with Brian! And Daphne is busy with her own life...."
"Oh, Baby...." I keep forgetting how young Justin is -- and how isolated in so many ways. How coming out in high school separated him so much from his peers. And how getting bashed made him withdraw even further. And how basically dedicating his life to Brian has set him apart even from the average queer on Liberty Avenue.
Little does Justin imagine how much he's the topic of envious conversation in the bars and clubs of Gay Pitts! Brian Kinney's Boytoy! Jetting off to Los Angeles! To London! Living in Brian's loft and driving his Jeep! Brian either fucked over or blew off sooo many drooling guys through the years that speculation on what Brian sees in Justin as always rampant. Speculation on what they do. How often. And in what strange and wonderful ways. And I admit it -- I speculate, too! But I also see a lot. A lot that seems almost like a normal relationship. Sort of....
"There's someone out in California who I speak to sometimes. Diane. She's great, but she's really a friend of Brian's. I CAN talk to her -- but I need someone who is just MY friend. I know you're Brian's friend and everything. But I feel you and I understand each other in a way a lot of other people don't. I mean, I don't really know that many gay guys my own age. I've met a couple here in England -- but no one I'd ever call a friend. So...."
"Honey, I AM your friend. And you CAN trust me. I know Brian thinks that I personify the old saying 'Telephone/Telegraph/Tell-a-Queen' -- but I also know when to keep my mouth shut! Especially about my friends. Especially about YOU, Baby."
"Thanks, Emmett. I really appreciate it. I do." I can hear him fumbling with something on the other end. Like he's opening up something. "Wait a sec, Emmett. I have to take my pill." He pauses and I can hear him take a drink. "For my headaches. Because there are some things going on that are making my fucking mind all turned around."
My Lord. This sounds serious. "Are YOU okay, Justin? I mean, personally?" Why is he having headaches again? Or have they never really stopped?
"Yes... and no, Em. On one hand, things couldn't be better. Brian's said things to me on this trip that I never thought I'd hear him say as long as I lived."
"Things? Like what?" Knowing Brian -- that could be anything! That man NEVER talks about his feelings.
"Like..." he falters. "That he loves me."
Oh. OH! "That's a big one, Baby. Very, very big. You're right. That's one I wouldn't have guessed. But I believe that he means it. That he DOES love you has been obvious for a long time. And not only to ME, Justin, but to a lot of people. But Brian actually SAYING it... that's BIG!"
"I know. And it's scary. Very scary. Because it makes everything so REAL. So... so...."
"So 'official'? I know, Baby. Because if it was any other guy -- or any other PERSON -- I would say to take it with a grain of salt. But with Brian. Lord! He would NEVER say anything like that without really meaning it! Brian may be a lot of things, but insincere is NOT one of them."
"I know. That's why it's so shocking. To tell you the truth -- I was shocked! Now YOU'RE shocked. Maybe even Brian shocked himself when he said it. But if he was, he didn't let me know. Because he said it very deliberately. Like he'd thought it out long and hard beforehand. Like he... really DID mean it." Justin pauses again. "And it wasn't only one time. He's said it a bunch of times since then. And NOT just when we're... making love. Although he says it then, too!"
Wow. Yes, wow! "Honey -- he meant it! Believe that!"
"I do. I'm trying to. But there are other things happening. Confusing things. Things that get me all mixed up about it."
"Baby, are you telling me that you don't think that YOU love HIM? Because if you don't...."
"No! That's not it at all! I DO! I do love him -- I always have. Since that first night. It's the one fucking constant in my life over the last two years! The one thing I've never had a doubt about. MY feelings." He lowers his voice again. "But there's a complication."
Huh. What's THAT about? "What complication, sweetheart?"
"Ron. That guy out in California."
"Oh, yes. HIM." I've seen pictures of this man. I know he's rich and semi-famous, but Brian, you slut -- I just DO NOT get it! "The queer Orson Welles. Or is it Woody Allen? I'm not as good as Vic on my film references. But, Baby, I thought that was all over?"
"It is. It WAS. I mean, it is to everyone but Ron. He came over here when he heard Brian got arrested. You know -- flying over at the first sign of trouble. Trying to convince Brian to go back to Los Angeles with him."
"Well, Brian is obviously still there with you, Baby. So...?"
"Yes, but there are... a few other problems. It's a long story, Em. Too long for me to go into now over the phone. When I get back to Pittsburgh I'll give you the whole account with all the awful details. But you have to promise me NOT to tell anyone ANYTHING about this. Not any of it! Even what... Brian said. You know. PLEASE don't. And nothing about Ron. Because people are going to think that... that something has happened between me and Brian... But I have to tell someone the truth. Just so I... I don't go nuts thinking about it."
"Justin!" I declare. "You are frightening me! Please tell me what this is all about!"
"I can't, Em. Not now. Not yet."
"This sounds like some hare-brained Brian-type scheme that is doomed to blow up in everyone's face! Remember Michael's birthday party? Child, I'm STILL trying to get over THAT one! I don't care for Brian's elaborate intrigues! It sounds like something that is going to get you hurt, honey!"
"Please, Emmett -- just try to understand! I need your support right now. But I'll especially need your help when I get back to Pittsburgh. When I'm there by myself."
"Isn't Brian coming back to Pittsburgh with you?"
"Just for a couple of weeks. Then Brian may... have to go back to Los Angeles and stay... with Ron for...." Justin's voice catches slightly. "For a while."
"Just how long is 'a while'?" Yes, I think, this has 'Brian-disaster-in-the-making' written ALL over it!
"Until after Christmas."
"Whatever FOR, Justin? What's THAT all about, honey? I just don't get it?" Oh, no! Another tearful, un-Sunshine-y Christmas for me to help the boy through! Why do I feel like strangling Brian right at this very moment, BEFORE he has a chance to break this child's heart again?
"I have to start back to school at PIFA, anyway, Emmett. And Brian has to go back to L.A. and do the publicity for the movie. And finish this... unfinished business with Ron. And that's when it's going to be hard... Really hard, Emmett." It sounds like he's on the verge of tears. Then IN tears!
"Justin, don't do that! Please don't cry! It's all right, honey! Really it is!"
"I know. I have to go now. Brian should be back any minute and then we're going out. It's so beautiful in this town. It's so... romantic...." He sniffs on the other end of the phone. And I'M about ready to start sniffling, too -- and I don't even know what the big trauma is all about!
"Yes, I understand, Justin." Nothing, I want to add! I understand NONE of this. It's completely infuriating! I just don't GET those two. It's pure sex and pure drama, one hundred percent, with them!
"One more thing before I hang up, Em. I think... Brian proposed to me."
"WHAT!" THIS he leaves for the sign-off? "What do you mean, Baby?"
"He was talking about the future and where he was going to live and things about next year... And I realized that he was talking about ME, too. About US. In the future. That there would be such a thing as 'us' -- a real couple. That we'd be living together for certain. And... I guess I took that as a proposal. Sort of."
Oh, honey! I MUST set this boy on the correct path!
"Justin -- Baby. Get THIS straight. Talking about being a couple and having a future and living together in one of those lovely rose-covered cottages -- or, knowing Brian, a blue neon light covered loft! -- is all well and good. It's romantic. It's even divine! But THAT is NOT a commitment. Not even when it comes out of Brian Kinney's beautiful mouth!"
"Sweetheart -- YOU get a REAL question asked by HIM. You get him down on his knees -- and NOT with your pants OFF! And you get a RING! A real, live ring! One that, as Miz Scarlett says to Rhett in her inimitable way, will make them all pea-green with envy! Now THAT is a proposal! Aunty Em says so. Until then -- it's just you two fucking around, love or no love. You hear?"
"I know. I'm just... hoping."
"You keep hoping, Baby. But be realistic, too. You have about THE hardest of all the queer nuts in the world to crack. But if anyone can do it -- it's YOU, Justin."
"Thanks, Em. I really gotta go now."
I set down the phone. Christopher Lowell has gone off and there's some other show on. Two women talking about their orgasms. Yuck! I must have turned on the Sci-Fi Channel by mistake! I click off the tube.
Now I have laundry to do and dishes to wash and all the other mundane things that make up my little life. But all I can think of is a boy out there, somewhere in the world. In a city named after a method of washing oneself. Dealing with the most gorgeous, most infuriating, and most compelling piece of manhood I've ever met in my life. That damn Brian! And I'm both completely depressed and incredibly thankful that it isn't ME who has to be there with that man. Dealing with him. Struggling with him. Loving him. On his horrible, beautiful ride through life. And I both envy AND pity Justin that he IS the one who will be there.
I must remember both of them in my prayers tonight. Because I have a feeling that somewhere down the road I'm going to have to help pick up the pieces of someone's shattered heart. And in the meanwhile, they are both going to need all the help they can get.
Continue on to "Four Seasons in One Day", the next chapter.
©Gaedhal, September 2002
Picture of Gale Harold and Randy Harrison from Mia.
Updated September 22, 2002