This is Part 2 of Chapter 56 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "Sunday Morning -- Part 1", the previous section.
"Brian, where are we headed?"
"That's a good question. Diane's. That's where I usually head when I'm due for a major freak out."
"But she's not home!"
He glances at me as he steers the Mustang along the winding road. "How do you know?"
"Because I've been trying to call her -- there's been no answer. I only get the machine."
"I guess we'll see when we get there." He fumbles around in the glovebox. "Shit. No cigarettes. Not even half a joint. Ron does a strip search of this car periodically and flushes all of my mind-altering substances. And I could sure use some of them now."
"I think it's better this way."
"You're probably right." He snaps the glovebox shut. "Justin, why were you trying to call Diane?"
I just sit there.
"There must have been a reason. You wouldn't just call her out the blue for a little chat."
We come down out of the canyons and Brian pulls out on a main road. It's late, but the streets are still crowded with people cruising on a hot Saturday night.
"Justin -- what's going on? What's Ron been saying to you? Doing to you? Just tell me. I already know it's something. Nothing you could possibly say could throw me. Nothing would surprise me where Ron is concerned, believe me."
"Okay -- don't sweat it. It's not important right now. The important thing is for us to find a place to put our asses tonight."
We drive a while and I recognize that we are coming into the gay area. Guys walking around, going in and out of bars and clubs. A few cars cruise the Mustang, looking in and giving us the eye, but Brian ignores them. Eventually he pulls off onto a side street and up to Diane's apartment building.
"I don't see her ride, but it could be in the garage."
We buzz and buzz and buzz, but get no response.
"Shit. It figures she wouldn't be in on a Saturday night."
"Maybe we should wait and see if she comes home?"
"It's already pretty late -- I don't know." He runs his hand through his hair, messing it up even more than it already is. "And, brilliant mind that I am, I went out without my wallet. No ID, no cards. Not even my cellphone." He sits down on the steps in front of the building and I sit next to him. I can hear the hum of the traffic on Santa Monica Boulevard not far away, but the parking lot here is quiet.
I reach into my pants and pull out my billfold. I open it and count out the money I have. "$11.82. It isn't much, but it's better than nothing."
"Believe me, in this town $11.82 is less than nothing."
"Oh," I say, deflated.
"But it could get us something to drink -- and a place to sit while we drink it. How about it?"
"Sure -- until I get a better offer." I smile. It feels good to smile a little.
Brian considers me, that half-smirk, half-grimace on his face. "Well, I can see you are destined for success in this town -- you have the right attitude already." He yawns and I remember how late it is. After 2:00 a.m. "What did you do with your winnings from the track?"
I wince. "I put the money in my suitcase -- for safe-keeping. I'm not used to carrying that much cash in my pocket. And we left the case back at the house."
We get back into the Mustang and head for the famous main drag, the Sunset Strip. He parks on a side street and we walk a way down the Strip, finally turning into a 1950's style diner. The sign in the window says 'Open 24 Hours.' I think of the Liberty Diner and suddenly I really do feel homesick.
"Well, Brian. Welcome," says the counterman. "You two look like you've had a rough night."
"You don't know the half of it, Bob. How about a coffee here? Black. And some lemonade for Justin. Nothing with any caffeine. He needs his sleep."
"So do you, Brian," I say. "Give him a lemonade, too. I'm paying, so I'm ordering."
"Now I have a twink calling the shots for me. Amazing, isn't it, Bob?"
"Could be worse. I know a lot of people who'd say you were pretty lucky, there. I'll get the lemonade." The man goes off to get our drinks. I keep looking around, thinking I'll see Deb pop out of the back.
"You better check our finances again and make sure we can cover the tab." Brian gives me a little prod.
"I've still got $11.82. Unless you can find a couple of pennies in your pockets."
"I can't even find a piece of lint in my pockets. I'm completely broke. We may have to put the Mustang up as collateral if we want some fries. Are you hungry?" He reaches for the menu.
"Really, Brian. I couldn't eat anything. My stomach... it still feels queasy."
"What about toast or something?"
He puts the menu back in the rack and sighs. "You know, I've done this runaway thing before and you'd think I'd have it down a little better. I always end up on my ass, with the wrong clothes and not a cent to my name. How does that keep happening?"
"Because you are so spontaneous and spur-of-the-moment?"
"Foolish and unthinking is probably closer to the mark. But sometimes you have to move -- immediately. This was one of those times."
Bob comes with the lemonade and also napkins and straws. Brian pours about five packets of sugar into his and stirs it with the straw. "I need that sugar rush to counteract the effects of the alcohol."
"Did you read that in some scientific journal?"
"No -- I just need a lot of sugar to get this shit down." He sips some of the lemonade and makes a face. Then he puts in another packet. "That would certainly make your lips pucker up pretty tight."
"I wonder if it works on any other part of the anatomy?" I whisper to him.
"You're coming back into your usual smart-ass, smart-mouthed form. Feeling better?"
"I think so. A little bit."
"Are you sure you don't want something to eat? We could probably afford a sandwich. Or...." Brian leans over to me and whispers in my ear. "I could blow Bob in exchange for a couple of blue-plate specials. He's not averse to taking it out in trade."
I feel my stomach jump and Brian notices my flinch. "No, I don't think so."
"Okay," he says, watching me. "I'm only kidding, you know? About blowing Bob?"
"Yeah, I know," I say, not meeting his eyes. He's regarding me a little too closely. I smile -- a little, but Brian is frowning now.
He reaches out and rubs his hand up and down my arm for a moment. "We may need to reserve some of our resources for breakfast. Especially if we can't depend on Diane."
"Where are we going to go, Brian?"
"We can't go to Jimmy's, that's for sure. And my agent, Lew -- I don't know him or like him THAT well. He'd call Ron first thing to tell him where we were. Christ. We can't even afford a room at a flophouse! This is bad news."
"What's up, Brian?" says Bob, eavesdropping. "You kidding about not having any cash? You?"
"What you see right here is IT. No jest, man."
Bob leans over to us. "You guys aren't in trouble or anything?" He sizes me up. "You aren't running from the kid's parents or anything."
I roll my eyes and Brian snickers. "No, Bob -- we aren't one step ahead of Dad with a shotgun. Besides he's nineteen."
"Wanna see my ID? I may not have any money, but I do have that."
"I believe you. So, what IS up?"
"We just needed to get out of... a bad situation. And I ran out -- as usual -- without thinking that I'd need my wallet. And my cards. And -- everything."
"Screwed without lube, eh?"
"Bob -- I don't even have any of that, so definitely."
"Listen, boys, I can give my partner a call -- he's asleep now, but he won't mind having such distinguished guests. If I send you to our place you can crash there for the night."
"That's all right, Bob. We can manage."
"Offer is open if you need it. Now, how about a couple of burgers? They're really good."
"I think we'll pass for now, thanks. The lemonade is really...." Brian takes another sip from his straw, trying not to recoil. "Filling."
It's after 3:00 a.m. and we've nursed the lemonade as long as we can. I pay the check and we slink out onto the street, which is beginning to clear out as people head home -- their own or that of whoever they've managed to pick up. We stand on the corner while Brian decides where we can go next. He looks like shit -- his eyes bleary, his clothes all rumbled, his hair sticking up, and his beard beginning to bristle all over his face -- but he's still getting major action from guys passing by. They scan me momentarily, then look at Brian, as if they are trying to figure out what our story is. Which is about right, because I'm still trying to figure out what our story is.
Finally, he sighs and he walk back to the Mustang."Well, we can look for another all-night place to spend a few hours -- any more time in there and Bob is going to adopt us! I know a couple of spots where guys go to park, but there's always the chance that the cops will decide to raid the place -- and I don't have even a scrap of ID, so I'd end up in the clink for certain."
"Let's go back to Diane's -- maybe she's home by now."
"It's worth a try."
We buzz her button for five minutes and get nothing. She's not coming back tonight.
We get in the car and Brian tries to make me lie down in the backseat. "I'll sit up here -- I can sleep in any position -- it's a gift. I can fuck in any position, too -- but that's a skill."
"Brian, you need more room. You come back here and I'll curl up in the front."
"I knew I should have gone for the Buick Roadmaster -- that one sleeps about six. But I had to be a sport and choose the Mustang."
We argue back and forth like this for a while until he gives up and climbs in the back. His knees are all folded up and his head is on the armrest. Then I climb on top of him.
"I thought you said you were going to curl up in the front?
"This is better, don't you think?"
"Yeah -- I think."
He mainly lays there, trying not to get a cramp, but I'm all over him. Kissing him and pressing against him, desperately. I feel like I'm trying to make up for something. I don't know what, exactly, but I can't stop myself. I can see he's exhausted, his eyes drooping. He takes off his shirt and balls it up, putting it under his head like a pillow, but he's still wincing as it bounces against the armrest.
"Listen, Justin. Could we maybe postpone this for another time? I can't even move my legs in here, let alone my dick."
"I thought you said you fucked in an MG Midget when you were in England? A red one?"
"Yes, but I was a lot younger than -- and definitely a lot more limber. And anyway, besides not having my wallet with me, I also don't have any condoms. Ron obviously housecleaned the ones from the glovebox along with the pot. He's always looking out for me -- touching, isn't it?"
"Yeah, touching." I stretch out next to him as best I can on the backseat. "About the condoms -- It's okay, if...."
"Don't even start that shit. I don't want to argue with you."
"But with Lindsay...."
"Stop. That's a special circumstance. It was for one purpose and one purpose only. And -- frankly -- I've done my part and don't plan to do any more than that. Lindsay is starting to get... couple-y."
"Like she thinks that's what we are. She needs to get back to Pittsburgh pronto and get busy remembering she's a dyke. And I mean it."
"And you're afraid that's how I'll get -- all couple-y?"
"No, that's not what I mean at all. I mean that we fuck because we want to, not for some big purpose. And we're going to keep fucking in the future. And I don't want you to get in the habit of thinking it's okay to be unsafe -- because it's not." His eyes blink and I can see how red they are. "It may be okay today -- it IS okay today by every indication imaginable or I never would have done anything with Lindsay -- and it may be okay six months from now. But I can't insure anything. And I don't want you to be in a position of never knowing if it's all right or not all right or whatever the fuck. I just don't want to start down any road that I can't keep to. You know that. We've discussed it before."
"I know. I understand."
"You say that -- but I know you don't really understand. It has nothing to do with YOU, Justin. It has to do with ME. Because I know myself too well. Doing it would be almost like promising something I can't guarantee." He pulls me close to him and shuts his eyes. "I know that if you say you haven't done it with anyone else, then that's the God's truth. But I can't say the same thing and that makes the difference."
Shit, I think. I can't tell him. I CAN'T say anything. I can picture the look on his face. The disappointment. I picture the same look I see on my own face when I look at myself in the mirror now. Disgust with myself. Fear of cracking that facade I've built up so carefully -- that facade that says that everything is okay. That I'M okay. That I'm NOT always one step away from losing it completely. That's the way we BOTH are -- on the edge and on the verge -- always. One step from disaster. And I feel like I've taken that step and there's no going back. I wanted to be just like Brian -- and now I'm on my way for certain. The bad Brian. The out-of-control Brian. The one who hates himself more than he loves anyone else.
Because now I feel like I've betrayed something. Myself. Brian. Everything that I always wanted for us. Like it's gone in two seconds. Lost forever in a darkened office in that dark, cold house up in the canyon.
I feel my eyes getting hot and I try to blink back the tears. But it's hopeless. They fall on his bare chest and he opens his eyes. Once again, Brian misunderstands.
"I know. I'm a fucking asshole. But I'm just telling you the truth. You don't deserve any less."
Of course, all this talk about truth makes me cry even harder.
"I'm sorry! I'm really sorry!" he keeps saying, until we both start to drift off. The last thing I hear is Brian mumbling, "Jesus -- I always knew I'd end up this way -- sleeping in my fucking car!"
"Hey! Boys! What's up?"
I open my eyes and see Diane, knocking on the window of the Mustang.
"Give the big man a big poke, cutie. That'll wake him up."
Brian opens one blood-shot eye. "Don't you dare poke me -- I'm awake. And I feel like a fucking accordion!"
"The accordion! My favorite instrument!" cries Diane, clapping.
Brian groans. "I think my back is broken."
I'm still lying on top of him. I shift myself around, but every place I move I jam an elbow or a knee into him.
"Please, Justin -- you're killing me. Let's take this one appendage at a time."
Diane opens the car door and pulls back the front seat, while Brian manages to get himself upright. We both unfold ourselves from the Mustang and are finally standing, shakily, next to her in the parking lot.
"My God, do you two look bad! Involved in a hostage-situation gone wrong or something?"
Brian looks at me and then turns to Diane and says one word: "Ron."
"Ouch," she says. "This way."
Continue on to "Sunday Morning -- Part 3", the final section of this chapter.
©Gaedhal, July 2002
Updated July 22, 2002