This is Part 1 of Chapter 56 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "Moviola -- Part 2", the previous section.
The narrator is Justin Taylor, and features Brian Kinney, Ron Rosenblum, Diane Rhys, Lindsay Peterson, Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: The fallout begins as Brian returns to the house. Los Angeles, June 2002.
Author's Comments: Thanks to Susan S. for beta-ing this and offering the commentary needed to continue on with this series! Not that I would have stopped, but...
Disclaimer: This is for fun, not profit. Watch Queer As Folk on Showtime, buy the DVDs, videos, and CDs. Read the stories and enjoy. Or try to.
I go back to the poolhouse and try to sleep, but I can't. I'm shaking. I feel eyes all over me. I'm afraid to undress, afraid to look around. Just afraid. Every shadow seems ominous. Every sound seems like a warning.
I get up and look at myself in the mirror. I rinse my mouth out again and again. I rub my face raw with the towel. Then I crawl back to the bed and lay there, trembling all over.
I feel like I did after I got home from the hospital. Except this time I bashed myself. I knew not to do it -- but I did. I knew not to go near Ron, but I thought I could be his equal. I thought I could understand Brian if I could understand Ron. If I could only put myself in Brian's place, feel what he felt, do what he did -- then I would understand. Understand him and Ron. And I DID understand -- for a moment. Brian really did love him. But that was a long time ago and now it's over and done. And I know why Ron is cruel -- and terrified.
Finally, I get into the fold-out and cover myself over with the sheet. I slip off my pants and top and throw them on the floor. I try to hide myself. I can't stop the tears from spilling out. I feel like a fool and a little, cowardly faggot. I'm glad I'm leaving here. I know I'll never come back.
And I know that everything is over.
I must have dozed off, because suddenly my eyes snap open. The door to the poolhouse creaks and Brian comes in. He's drunk.
I cover my face with the sheet, hoping that he'll just go away.
No fucking chance.
He's humming, slightly off-key. He's been listening to a pile of 1970's punky-type music to get himself in the mood for this new film. He's playing a singer in it, which he says is someone's idea of reverse casting. But he's constantly singing the songs. Trying to sing them. Lou Reed. Iggy Pop. The Ramones. The Clash. The New York Dolls. The Sex Pistols. Others I never heard of. They are second nature now. I think I know them as well as he does. He's humming the riff from 'Sweet Jane' over and over.
I hear him getting undressed and I cringe. He's exposing himself, I think. Not that he would care about displaying himself. He'd probably just shrug. He doesn't believe in modesty. But what about me? Would he care that I'm exposed, too? I want to warn him so badly. Say something. Tell him everything. But I'm too afraid. Now I really am a fucking coward.
"What's the matter?" His voice is a little blurry.
"Go away. Please. Go away NOW."
"What's up?" He's drunk, but not out of it. Far from it. He's got a way to go yet before he's truly feeling nothing. How long would it take ME to get to that same place? I don't know, but it's tempting. To be numb. To feel no pain. I begin to understand how it can happen. Just like when he first left back in December and I went into the backroom the first time -- the numbness can take you over. I feel taken over now. Ron has taken me over. I don't belong to myself anymore. And Brian won't belong to himself anymore, because I can't bring myself to tell him.
"I said, what's up?"
"Nothing," I whisper.
"Don't worry, Sunshine," he says in his slurring, mocking tone. "You get to go home to the Pitts. I get to stay here. Now, who is the happier camper? Huh? You go home to all the people who love you. Mommy and Debbie and Vic and everybody! I get to stay right here. And look who I got? Boy, oh, boy. Lucky me."
"Brian, go away. Please." I'm begging him now. But he's getting undressed anyway. He isn't hearing me. Would he even hear me if I told him everything? Probably not. He only hears what he wants to hear. Nothing else.
He gets under the sheet and tries to uncover my face. "What's the matter? Are you mad because I went out with Lindsay? That's female bullshit. She and Tess showing off their dresses. I wanted to stay here, instead. Right? Don't you believe me? Hm?"
"Go away. I don't feel well. Please."
"I know what will make you feel better." And he starts kissing the back of my neck and around my shoulders. "Take your shirt off. Why do you have your tee-shirt and shorts on?" He starts to tug them off.
"Stop it. I'm cold."
"Cold? It's a thousand degrees outside. And it's not cold in here. Let me do it."
"I... just don't want to, okay?" I pull my boxers back up. Even under the sheet, I feel seen.
"Sunshine is mad. I fucked up again. Mad, mad, mad."
"I'm not mad at you, Brian. Please believe me."
"Then you're doing a good job acting mad. Bravo. Good, good job." I can smell the booze on his breath, but it's almost a comforting smell, it's so familiar. As he's pressing against my back I can feel the chain and the heart. That sets me off. I can't stop myself. I know everything is ruined now.
"I know -- you're homesick. You'll be home soon, like I said. And you won't have to put up with me and my bullshit -- unless you want to. Right?"
His misunderstanding makes me cry even harder.
He reaches around into my boxers to hold my dick. I can't take it anymore. I pull away and jump out of the fold-out and out of the poolhouse altogether. I know he'll be right behind me.
But he stops to pull on his pants. I hide myself behind the first thing I see -- the bar on the pool deck. Then I think that this is the worst possible place to hide. He'll come here for another drink first thing.
He's standing in front of the poolhouse, yelling.
"Justin! Come here! NOW!"
I hear another voice. "Brian." Ron must have heard him yelling. Or else watched him go into the poolhouse. Or... he lied about turning off the camera.
"Come upstairs now." Ron comes out to the pool. His voice is firm.
"No! I'm looking for Justin." Brian is not just drunk, he's horny, too.
"He doesn't want your attentions, so come with me."
"The fuck I will!"
"Brian. Come upstairs." Ron's voice turns softer, more seducing. "Please?"
"I said fuck that! JUSTIN!"
"You want to wake up the whole damn neighborhood?"
"Why not? Why should they sleep when I can't? Huh? Justin!"
"Brian, the kid obviously wants you to leave him alone, so why don't you?"
"What do you know about it? You don't know SHIT, Ron!"
"I don't know shit? Is that so? And did you think I wouldn't KNOW what you're up to with that kid? That I'm THAT stupid? That BLIND?"
"No, Ron. It never occurred to me that you didn't know." Brian suddenly sounds almost sober, like he's been shocked into it. "I just assumed you did know. But you kept up the pretense because it's better for your fucking ego!"
"MY ego? Mine? What about YOUR ego, Brian? Or your self-worth? Because I just can't believe it. THAT is your blond waiter? That fucking KID? And you are going to take HIM to London? You'll be a fucking laughing stock, you know that?"
Brian doesn't answer. I wish I could see his face, but I'm afraid to move from where I am and call attention to myself.
"You said he was a student -- but you didn't say a student in fucking nursery school! And this has been going on for TWO years? He looks about fourteen now! How old was he when all this started? Doesn't this kid have any parents? Don't they have LAWS in Pennsylvania?"
Now Brian's voice sounds cold and hard. "Yeah, they have laws in Pennsylvania, Ron. The same kinds of laws they have in New York -- like the ones that take a dim view of grown men fucking sixteen year old whores!"
There is a silence that probably lasts only a couple of seconds -- but it seems like hours.
Finally, I hear Ron. His voice is quivering. "That was low, Brian. Really fucking low. After all I did... all I went through. THAT'S what you say to me."
"So, I'm sorry! So, kill me!" Now, he doesn't sound that sober. I remember how emotional he gets when he's drunk. How self-defeating. "I say shit without thinking -- you know that! YOU say things without thinking, too, Ron! Plenty of things. You DO plenty of things, too! And you can't blame it on being drunk!"
But Ron tries to turn it against him. I hear his voice get that hard edge. "I can't listen to you anymore, Brian. I can't LOOK at you ANYMORE! You don't just disappoint me, you make me ill."
They are standing right next to the bar. I see Brian's tall shadow behind me on the wall. "I said I was sorry! What the fuck can I do? I'm sorry...." Brian's voice is low, mournful.
"Don't make a fool of yourself over that kid, Brian. It's beneath you," says Ron.
Then Brian's voice changes. I can hear it change. Hear it get firmer, stronger. "I'm not making a fool of myself."
"Yes, you are! He's dragging you down. He's encouraging the worst in you. Look at you tonight."
"So? I'm smashed. What the fuck else is new?"
"Smashed why? Because he's leaving?"
Brian clears his throat, then clears it again. "Shut up, Ron."
"It isn't worth it. HE isn't worth it. Let him go back to Pittsburgh and STAY there. Forget him! He's nobody!"
I close my eyes. Yes -- shut up, Ron! I'm praying, now. Please stop. I curl myself up tighter behind the bar. Just end this whole thing and leave, both of you!
"I'll go with you to London, Brian," says Ron, his voice smooth and lulling, just like it was in his office. His voice strokes your mind. "I'll drop everything. I will. I'll go with you. I'm the one who cares about you. Forget that goddamn kid."
Brian doesn't move -- at least his shadow doesn't move -- or say a word. I decide I have to get away.
"Just do this one thing -- do it now."
I crawl slowly to the end of the bar, looking for a chance to run into the house when they aren't looking. I see Ron move up against Brian and I want to turn away, but I can't. I have to see. I look around the bar at them.
Ron reaches up and takes hold of my chain. My little heart. "Get rid of this. Do it for me." He tries to pull at the charm -- but Brian catches his arm and holds it in his strong grip.
"I told you never the fuck to touch that! I told you before and I'm telling you AGAIN!"
"Back OFF, Ron. Back off something you have no clue about."
"You're drunk, Brian. Wait until you sober up and then you'll see that...."
"See what? That you're an ASSHOLE? Is THAT what I need to see? Don't play on my guilt, Ron. That's a no-win ploy. And don't mess with Justin. DON'T go there. I'm warning you."
I feel a sharp pain in my stomach and I know I'm going to throw up. I'm on my knees and my hands are shaking. I grab the wastebasket under the bar and vomit my guts out into it. I think that I'm never going to stop until all my insides are gone and I'm completely empty.
"Justin." Brian is crouching next to me behind the bar. He holds my head while I cough. Then he takes a handful of paper towels and wets them at the sink. He wipes my face, wipes softly around my mouth. I'm still gasping, sobbing.
He takes me by the arm and stands me up, walks me, wobbling, from behind the bar. Ron is standing there, his arms crossed. I can't look at him.
"What the fuck is going on here?" He looks at Ron and then down at me. "Is someone going to tell me?"
I feel my stomach spasm, but it's empty and I just cough up more bile onto the deck. Brian wipes my mouth again and holds me up.
"I said that I want to know what the fuck is going on here? Ron?" But he looks away, impassive.
Brian pulls my face up to his. "Justin, what did he say to you? You can tell me, whatever it is."
My heart is pounding. I hate myself. Can't face myself -- or Brian. "Nothing."
"Well, that's a fucking lie."
I push my face against him, hiding it against his chest. His skin feels warm and moist and smells like sweat and sandalwood soap.
"Are YOU going to tell me, Ron, or are you stonewalling here, too?"
But Ron just turns and says, "I'll see you upstairs, Brian."
"I'll see you in hell, Ron, unless you answer my question!"
"Don't play the bully with me, Brian. I'll call your bluff."
He sets me aside, gently. In one stride, he has Ron by the front of his shirt. "And I'll have YOU on the fucking ground here! What did you do to that kid?"
"Not a thing. We had a little talk, that's all." Now Ron's voice is unsteady. He's afraid of Brian.
Brian releases him and shoves him back and away from him. "A little talk? You had no business talking to him. No business even going near him. I thought you were going to let this go, Ron. You SHOULD have let it go. But I'm not going to let this go until I find out what the fuck went on here tonight."
"Ask your boy," says Ron. Then he walks into the house and slams the slider behind him. He doesn't say anything else.
Brian watches him leave, then he looks at me. Looks at me hard and long. I shrink back against the bar, but I can't get away from his gaze. Then he takes my arm and leads me back to the poolhouse. I hesitate when we get to the door, but he ushers me in.
"Get dressed. Are you packed for the plane?"
"Good. Get everything into your suitcase and have it ready to go. Wash your face and rinse the puke out of your mouth. You'll feel better then. I always do."
I go into the bathroom and when I come out Brian has put on his shirt and boots and is straightening up the fold-out. I put on my pants and slip on the pull-over I wore earlier. The rest of my things I cram into my suitcase, which I then close and zip up. Then Brian goes into the bathroom.
"What are we doing, Brian?" I ask when he comes out.
"We're getting out of here, what else?" He tries to smooth his hair down a little, but it's hopelessly tangled. "Shit. I never sobered up so fast in my life. Leave your case here -- we'll pick it up when we get Lindsay and Gus and go out to the airport tomorrow. Come on."
"But what about Lindsay? Are you leaving her and Gus here?"
"She's a big girl. She can take care of herself. Ron's problem isn't with Lindsay and Gus. It isn't even with YOU, Justin, really. Ron's problem is with ME."
He clutches my hand and we walk past the pool, through the kitchen, and out to the garage. We get into the Mustang and he guns the thing down the driveway and out onto the canyon road.
Continue on to "Sunday Morning -- Part 2", the next section.
©Gaedhal, July 2002
Updated July 21, 2002