This is Part 4 of Chapter 117 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out -- Part 3", the previous section.
The narrator is Ron Rosenblum, featuring Brian Kinney.
Rated R and contains a warning for violence.
Summary: Ron invites Brian over for an intimate dinner for two. 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.
Brian pulls into the driveway at exactly 7:00 on Wednesday evening. He's driving that stupid Jeep. He should be driving around in the Mustang. Or the new Jaguar XKR I bought for him. But it won't be ready for delivery until next week, which will be too late... Unless....
Yes, there's still time. It can happen. We can make it work. I know we can. If Brian will just realize where he belongs. That THIS is where he should be. With me, then we can make everything work out perfectly and then....
But even as I'm thinking it, I know that Brian won't come around. He's already made his decision, even if it is the wrong one. He's turned his back on me. He thinks he can be happy with that kid but that's just a pipe dream. That kid would have kicked him in the teeth eventually, but Brian will never believe that. He thinks it's 'love'! But that's not love, that's just pure lust. Yes, Brian has made his decision -- and I've made mine. In that we're in perfect agreement.
It's been almost exactly a year since I found Jack again. I mean, since I found Brian. The same thing. They are the same, no matter how much time has passed. Brian and Jack. Jack and Brian. Which is how I know this is the right thing to do. Maybe it really should have ended back in New York, with just the two of us. Just me and Jack. I should have bought more of that dope from the guy in Alphabet City and we both could have taken it -- taken enough to stop the world cold. Then it would have been our private ending. If we couldn't be together forever like we were meant to be, then it should have ended right there, just like that. I can see that now in retrospect. But it didn't happen. Jack bolted. He was afraid. He couldn't handle it. He was afraid to live and I was afraid to die. And so we went on, apart. Both of us only half alive. All those years when I was only half alive.
But then Jack came back -- bigger, stronger, and more beautiful than ever. He came back for me. Came back to me. Came back to fulfill this perfect moment. And the fact that we created something perfect, something that will live on forever -- 'The Olympian' -- just proves that it was all meant to happen this way. Yes, that's the final proof. I know it is.
I phoned Brian just about an hour ago. I knew he was at home and that he was alone. Jimmy told me that Justin was going to the taping of an episode of Diane Rhys' new series and I called a guy I know on the staff of the production company making 'Here's Diane!' It's Peter Bridges' company and I've known Peter forever -- I directed him back when he guest starred on 'Murder She Wrote' and I fucked him a couple of times, too, way back when -- so I also know a lot of the people who work around him. They tell me that Diane's show should be pretty decent, which is good, because Peter's series, 'All American Dad,' is on its last legs. I contacted this guy, Milt, and asked him to let me know when Justin arrived for the taping. Milt called me the minute the kid walked in the door with Diane. And that's when I phoned Brian.
Brian wasn't at all surprised to hear from me. I had talked to him when we were in London about going over the schedules for 'Red River' so he was expecting my call. But he seemed a bit taken aback when I invited him over for dinner tonight. I could tell that it threwhim for a loop that I didn't give him any notice.I could almost hear the little wheels turning in his head as he tried to decide whether he should come over or not. I know that kid has been telling him to stay away from me. Justin is jealous, obviously, but Brian doesn't like anyone to dictate to him -- not even his supposed 'boyfriend'!
"Well, Brian," I said. "If Justin won't 'allow' you to come over, then I guess we'll have to forget the whole thing."
That gets to him, just as I meant it to. "Justin doesn't 'allow' or 'not allow' me to do anything, Ron. I'm not a fucking infant!" he huffs. And that's when I know he's definitely coming. Of course he is coming over. Because that's the way it has to be.
Brian gets out of the Jeep. He's wearing that stupid fringed suede jacket again. And soft faded jeans that look like they are painted on his body. And a red silk shirt over a white sleeveless tee. His uniform. Just ordinary clothes that on him look like the garments of a god. I meet him at the kitchen door. "You're exactly on time," I say.
He shrugs. "I don't have any appointments between now and Christmas Eve, so I'm taking it easy." He walks into the house and looks around. I see him glance over at Carmel and Maria's old room, but he doesn't say anything. He doesn't ask where they went, and I don't tell him. The truth is that Carmel was asking too many fucking questions. She didn't like Brian, but she spent half the time he was here sucking up to him and the other half bitching about him to me. Then after Brian left, she didn't like the other guys I brought home even more. So what if they were hustlers? It wasn't any of her fucking business! Carmel was starting to think she was my goddamn wife and could boss me around and tell me what the fuck to do. I should have told them both to get out ages ago. Then it would have been just the two of us -- Brian and I -- a year ago when he came to live here. With no interruptions. But it's too late to go over all that old territory now.
"What's on for Christmas Eve, Brian? Midnight Mass?" I say, smiling. He follows me out to the pool. That's where I have dinner all set up. Just like we used to do when he first came to L.A. With wine and candles and classical music on the stereo and some good food. I ordered the dinner from his favorite Thai place, the Royal Bangkok. All his favorite stuff. I've made sure that tonight everything is absolutely perfect.
"No," he replies, easing himself into his chair. "We're flying back to the Pitts for Christmas. And then we'll stay there for a couple of weeks before we come back. I want to spend some time with Gus while I'm home. Catch up on things with some other people, too. Then Justin and I need to get back here and start looking for a new place to live. A house is a pain in the ass, but I guess there's no other option. We can't stay in that apartment much longer. It's too small and the building isn't secure."
I sniff. "I told you that when you left here, Brian."
"Yeah, Ron, but... you know the situation. I really needed my space at the time. And it was only me, so it didn't seem so crowded. But now that there are two of us, we definitely need a bigger place. We are falling all over our stuff." I pour him a little taste of the wine. It's a good white chablis that goes well with the spicy Thai food. He hesitates only for a moment -- and then he picks up the glass and sips it. I know Brian hasn't been drinking too much lately, but he seems comfortable tonight. I know he trusts me. He smiles and I fill up his glass. "Not bad," he says. "You know, Ron, I'm glad that all this... this awkwardness between us is over with. I really am. Because that's not the way I've ever wanted things to be."
"I know, Brian. I haven't wanted it to be that way either." I pause. He's gazing at the pool, just relaxing, enjoying himself. He's too fucking beautiful for words. He'll always be too beautiful to be real. That's how I know he was created to be a legend, not just an ordinary person. No, never ordinary. He's mythic, the way a great movie star should be. Maybe... if he made just one more film. Maybe 'Red River' would really do it, the way it did for Montgomery Clift. But then Clift went down. In the end he was no longer young, no longer beautiful, no longer perfect. He was a pitiful wreck. And I can't let that happen to Brian. I just can't. He'll be much more like James Dean. He's always loved James Dean. The perfect rebel. Come on the scene and light up the sky with your beauty and your brilliance. Then die and leave a beautiful corpse. Forever young. Forever perfect. Yes, much more James Dean than Montgomery Clift.
"What are you smiling at, Ron?"
"Just this, Brian. The two of us, able to have a nice time together. No fucking angst. No deals. No shit at all. Let's drink to that," I reply.
"Sure. Why not?" he says, lifting up his glass. And we drink. "Jimmy says there will be another round of schmoozing after New Year, leading up to the Academy Award nominations. I have to tell you that I'm dreading more press junkets and fucking promo parties."
"That is how you play the game, Brian," I tell him. "But you're golden right now. Some of the tabloids are still snarking about those photos, but most of the follow-up coverage in the mainstream media has been overwhelmingly positive. You've acted with true class in the face of a lousy situation. And that'll pay off in nominations, just you wait."
He makes a face, poking his tongue against the inside of his cheek and rolling his eyes. "I don't care about the nominations, Ron. I just hope that whole thing with the photos and coming out and all that shit surrounding it won't hurt the picture's chances."
"It doesn't seem to have hurt it yet, Brian. Box office is excellent and the reviews are stellar. I guarantee you that Terra Nova Studio will clean up at all the award shows."
Brian makes another face. "Maybe. I just know that Justin coming off so well really saved my ass over in England. They can see that he's no victim and he's no blond bimbo, either. He's funny and sharp and articulate. That actually makes it look like I have good taste!" And he laughs. He starts eating one of the Thai eggrolls. He's always loved eggrolls. He picks one up between his chopsticks and bites on the end. He always looks so funny doing that.
"Yes, Justin didn't do badly, especially on the Graham Norton appearance," I admit. I have no animosity towards the kid. I never have. It isn't his fault that he's hooked on Brian. Sure, kid, the line forms on the right. So I can't blame him. No one is really to blame. And I feel sorry for Justin right now. Very sorry for what he'll have to face. But he'll cope. And he'll be well taken care of. He's young and he'll move on with his life. See, I can afford to be generous now. Because I've already won.
"So, that guy, Dane, seemed pretty nice," Brian says casually. He holds up his glass and I pour him some more wine. "Too bad he's over in London. You and he looked good together. You know, Ron, if you only unclenched your teeth once in a while and enjoyed yourself, you wouldn't have any problem picking up guys. And I mean nice guys." Brian leans across the table. "You don't need hustlers, Ron. I know it's a fantasy thing with you and some kind of power trip -- but it's dangerous. I worry about you doing it."
"Do you really? Worry about me?" I reply. I know he threw that guy out of the house when he came over here looking for me that time. He must have been angry -- and jealous -- to find another guy here, sitting in his place. That told me just how much Brian still cares about me.
"Of course I worry," Brian says. He heaps some of the Pad Thai noodles on his plate, then some rice and chicken in peanut sauce on top of it. Brian never eats a lot of food anymore, not like he did when he was 16. Back then he was always hungry. But he has a good appetite tonight. He's serene.
And Brian looks happy. I haven't seen him this happy in a long, long time. 'The Olympian' is out and the holidays are coming up. He's got time off. And he's here with me. It's good to see him smiling so easily. It makes me feel good that I can make him smile like that. "It's nice to see you act like you don't hate me, Brian."
Brian sighs and puts down his chopsticks. "If you would just fucking relax and not feel like you have to control everything and orchestrate everything -- especially ME -- then there's no reason for me to be pissed at you, Ron. You make me want to scream and rip my hair out most of the time, but I've never, ever hated you. You know that."
I smile and sit back in my chair. "I know you don't. It's just the way some things have happened to fuck us up. That's why we're not together now. But sometimes things happen for a reason, Brian. They are meant to happen at a certain time and a certain place -- and for a certain purpose. Do you understand what I mean?"
Strangely enough, he nods. "Yeah, I do understand, actually. I know you've always been a big believer in Fate, Ron. That things are somehow meant to be a certain way. But I never believed in any of that bullshit, until...." he hesitates. "I still don't really believe it, but it's nice to think that there's some kind of order in the fucking universe. Some kind of rationale for what we're doing, even when we fuck up. Especially when we fuck up!" And he laughs and takes a big gulp of the white wine. "That we are exactly where we are supposed to be!"
"I'm glad you can see that, Brian. And there IS an order to things. A reason why things happen. I still really believe that," I say. "A reason why I was there on the Bowery at exactly that moment to find you -- and a reason why you were there for me to find. It wasn't an accident. It was so that we could be together. So that you could make me understand who I really was -- a gay man, a gay filmmaker. So that you could inspire me to create all my movies -- especially 'The Olympian.' And also so you could come back all these years later and star in my picture!" Now I laugh out loud.
Brian lifts up his glass and I refill it again. "Everything always comes down to your picture, Ron! You and your fucking movies! But I guess that's what makes you a genius. And me -- I'm just a little cog in the Ron Rosenblum juggernaut on its way to the Queer Domination of Hollywood!"
"Which is as it should be, Brian. Queers have made the movies possible all these years, after all, but always behind the scenes. Writing scripts, designing costumes, creating sets, doing make-up. But now we are going to be front and center -- the greatest director AND the biggest star in Hollywood, a couple of fags!"
"I'll definitely drink to THAT, Ron!" Brian laughs and bolts down his wine. And so do I. But I have to pace myself. I'm starting to feel a little light-headed and I don't want to lose control of my senses. No, I need to keep all my faculties tonight for the all-important finale. I put down the wine and concentrate on my food for the rest of the meal.
We discuss the shooting schedule for 'Red River' and the locations, mainly in Texas and Arizona, and some other logistics. Brian has a number of good suggestions for casting some of the other roles. I hadn't thought of Patrick Swayze, but I can see how he'd be perfect. He's from Texas and has a good cowboy look. "You just want to hang out with him, Brian!" I tease. "Forget it! He's as straight as they come."
"I know he is. But when I used to watch 'Dirty Dancing' I always fantasized about being around him. And he seems like a nice guy. He's a good actor, too."
"I'll call his agent and send over a script," I say. And Brian is right -- Swayze would be perfect. But then I remember. There won't be any 'Red River.' Unless....
For dessert I have a special little treat. These special chocolate truffles I get at a little store over near the studio. They make all sorts of fancy candy and treats. Brian doesn't do sweets very often, but I know he has a taste for this special chocolate. I brought him some when he was living here and he told me they reminded him of some kind of chocolate cake his mother used to make. That was the only time I ever heard him speak fondly of his mother, so I remembered it specifically. I put two of the truffles on Brian's dish. They are exactly bite-sized, so he'll gulp them down without even thinking. And I made sure the tab of 'E' was dead center inside the one. You can't tell at all.
I bring out the plates and set them down on the table. "Oh boy!" Brian says gleefully. He pops one and then the other in his mouth without even thinking. "If I keep eating over here, Ron, I'm going to be as big as John Goodman!"
"Right. You getting fat! That'll be the day, Brian."
"Are these all you have?" asks Brian. "If you have any extra chocolate truffles would you mind if I take them home to Justin?"
"That's all I got, Brian. But I'll give you the name of the place. You can pick some up for the kid. I know the boy toy must like a little candy now and then."
"Humph," he snorts. "YOU gave ME candy, Ron! I guess I'm just another boy toy at heart."
"Always, Brian. You'll always be my boy toy. What else?"
It's dark now and cool out by the pool. It's a perfect night. I go in and change the music from classical and put on Marvin Gaye. Brian knows my musical moods very well, so he must know that I'm feeling mellow and sexy. And he's starting to feel frisky, too. I can tell by the way he's squirming around in his chair, like his pants are too tight. But I keep chatting away, filling Brian in on all the recent gossip. He hates gossip about himself, but he loves hearing all the dirt on everyone else. In that respect, he's a total queen. But I'm waiting. Just waiting. For the Ecstasy to kick in.
"Wow," says Brian suddenly. "That was a really good meal, Ron. It's nice to get my appetite back. I can't remember when I've enjoyed eating this much."
"I'm glad you're having a good time, Brian," I say. He's feeling that 'E' rush, I'm sure.
"Excuse me for a minute. I need to go to the can," he says. Now I know the 'E' is working. It makes you want to use the bathroom in the worst way. 'Disco Dump,' Brian used to call it.
While he's in the bathroom I put away the food and the dishes. I also get some bottles of water out of the fridge, because Brian is going to be thirsty. Very thirsty and very happy. I don't take Ecstasy or any of that kind of shit myself very often, but I've seen Brian take it plenty of times. Enough times to know exactly how it affects him. How it makes him happy and more trusting. That's why it's such a popular club drug -- everyone is your friend when you're on 'E.' And it makes Brian loose. And horny. Very horny. In fact, that's what I'm counting on.
"Fuck," Brian says when he comes out of the john, stretching his arms over his head. "It's really a beautiful night, Ron. Look at those stars! You usually can't see anything for all the smog, but tonight...." and he's smiling. Brian has a kind of goofy little smile on his face. It's one of the main ways you can tell he's high, that goofy smile. And the way he sweats. The back of his red silk shirt is damp with perspiration. Also that increased level of horniness. Sometimes he would come back drunk and high from some club or bar or wherever he'd been and want to fuck all night. And I would fuck the living shit out of him, just the way he wanted it. That was so great at first, but I couldn't keep up with him. I was getting 'The Olympian' ready to shoot and I was tired and stressed out and I needed to be at the studio early in the morning and... and that's when the problems really started between us, I'm certain. When I didn't want to fuck as much as he wanted to. If I could go back in time to those moments, I would change all that. I would. I would do anything to make him happy. But it's too late now. None of that matters anymore.
"Let's go out!" Brian says, dancing around by the pool. 'Let's Get It On' is playing on the sound system. It reminds me of the way Jack used to bounce around my apartment in New York, laughing and knocking things over. And then I'd chase him and catch him and then.... "I feel like dancing! Let's pick up Justin and go out! We can get Jimmy, too! I'm fucking psyched! Come on, Ron!"
"Jimmy isn't home tonight," I lie. I know he's at home with Tess. "And Justin is staying over with Diane after the taping, remember?"
"He is? All night?" Brian frowns. "Are you sure?"
"You told me so yourself, Brian," I say, waiting to see if he buys it.
He cocks his head, and then he shrugs. "That's okay, I guess. I was just hoping we could go out. I feel like letting off some steam. It's fucking hot out here!" And he takes off his red silk shirt and tosses it on the bar. He's standing there only in that white sleeveless tee shirt and jeans.
"Let's go inside, then, where it's air conditioned." I motion him into the house. "You want to see those location videos, Brian? The ones for 'Red River' that Frank Watson shot for me on his scouting trip?"
"Sure," he says, following me through the door. I casually hand him a bottle of water and he unscrews the cap and sucks it down. The sweat is trickling down his long neck now, even in the cool house.
I steer Brian toward my office, but then I stop. "Oh, I forgot. I was watching the tapes upstairs. In the bedroom. Do you mind?"
"Why would I mind, Ron?" he says, grinning. "You aren't going to rape me, are you?"
A shudder goes through me when he says that. I know it's the 'E' and all that wine talking, but I still cringe. Of course I'm not going to rape him! What does he think? We're going to make love.
Continue on to Page 2 of "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out -- Part 4".