This is Chapter 5 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "Lost Boys" -- Part 3" , the previous chapter.
The narrators are Brian Kinney and Justin Taylor, respectively.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: One night at the loft in December 2001; Justin returns from the Film Festival to tell Brian about something he saw.
Author Notes: This is one part only and takes place at the same time as "Queer Theory."
Disclaimer: This is for fun, not profit. Watch Queer As Folk on Showtime, buy the DVDs, videos, and CDs. Read the stories and enjoy.
The only one of my relatives I could ever stomach was my grandmother on my father's side. I was named after her old man, so she always said I was her favorite. It's nice to be somebody's favorite when you're a kid, even if it is a batty old woman. Well, she used to claim she could see things nobody else could see and that she knew things about the future, about Fate. "Do you hear that, Brian? That's the wind whistling through the graveyard. Something powerful is going to happen, mark my words."
The door slid open and Hurricane Justin blew into the room.
"I'm over here." I had some proof sheets spread out on the dining room table and was trying to make sense (?!) of what Bob and Brad had put together. My head was focused on the task at hand and I admit I wasn't really listening too carefully to what Justin was stuttering out. Finally, I looked up.
"You're babbling. Why don't you just slow it down and start over. Here." I pulled out one of the chairs. "Sit. Now, what the fuck are you on about?"
"I went with Jay...."
Trouble already. "I don't think I like that kid. What did he do to you?"
"Nothing! Nothing at all! He's in Professor Bruckner's class -- you know, Michael's boyfriend?"
"Yeah, yeah. I know him." Yeah -- I knew him....
"Here!" He shoved a piece of paper into my hand. A brochure. And a pretty badly designed one, too. Pepto Bismal pink and Liberace lavender. Real original.
"Right. The Fag/Dyke/Drag/Whatever Film Festival. So what?" I tossed the brochure down on the table.
"We went to this movie." He opened the brochure and pointed to a line. "By Ron Rosenblum." He paused and searched my face.
"Is that supposed to mean something to me?"
"We rented a couple of his films. Remember? The one about the guy who plays the piano in the bar? And the one about the dog walker?"
I vaguely recalled some videos along that line. Not much sex in them, but lots of boring hetero-style 'romance' directed at queers. In other words, bullshit.
"So, what was it you saw? 'You've Got Gay Mail'?"
Justin was suddenly very still. He examined me in an intense way that gave me the creeps. I stepped back and away from him.
"Brian. What were you doing when you were sixteen? Seventeen?" His voice sounded odd, strained.
"What did I do? Let me see -- Oh, yeah! Smoked some weed. Played some guitar. Did Mikey's homework. Tried to blow up the school. The usual. What the hell do you think I did when I was sixteen?"
"No, Brian." His voice was even, but remote, as if he were speaking from underground. I started to feel uneasy. "What were you doing in New York City? In about 1988? Sometime in the winter?"
I stepped back from him again. And once more. "What the fuck are you talking about?"
He picked the brochure up and pushed it at me. "Because THIS is the movie I saw. It wasn't a romance or a comedy or 'You've Got Gay Mail' or anything like that. It was real. A documentary...."
I turned and started to walk away. But only a wall was in front of me. I looked around for somewhere else to go.
"THIS movie. The one I saw tonight...." Justin's voice had moved from even to the edge of hysteria and was just about to go over. "You must know what I'm talking about, Brian! Don't pretend you don't know!"
"It's impossible... It's fucking impossible!" I heard myself shouting. "There IS no film! There couldn't be a film! It was... too long ago...."
"Well, then I must have dreamed it, Brian! And Jay -- he must have dreamed it, too. And the whole audience -- they all must have imagined that they were seeing YOU! Because that's what I saw, Brian! YOU!"
"Don't keep saying that! I was there and saw it -- tonight! I couldn't believe it, but it was true!" Now he was really hysterical, babbling and shaking his head. I tried to grab him, but he jerked away, crying.
"Stop it. Please. Just stop it!" I caught him and held him tightly. But he couldn't stop himself gulping and gasping. And I could feel the panic rising up in me to meet his. I took the brochure from his hand and opened it.
"Retrospective of the films of Ron Rosenblum." Ron. I went completely cold. "Featured presentation: The restoration of 'Red Shirt,' an award-winning documentary of gay street culture in the Eighties. See this seminal film for the first time complete and in a restored print prior to its release on DVD with director's commentary. Two showings."
Justin's storm had passed and he sat down in the chair, quietly sniffling, his elbows on the table.
"I sat there in the theater, in the dark, and I really did think I was dreaming it all. I mean, there was no way! But there was also no doubt, especially as it went on and on. Jay kept turning to me, as if for some explanation. He's seen you a bunch of times at Babylon and I sort of introduced you to him, but, as usual, you blew him off. But he knew it was you. I pretended nothing was wrong, but my heart was beating faster and faster -- I was sure everyone sitting there could hear it." Covered his face with his hands. "And the movie was so... it was so horrible and beautiful and terrifying, all at the same time." He looked up at me. "I wanted to run out the door, but I couldn't stop watching it. I couldn't stop... Why didn't you warn me? Tell me? Why?"
"I didn't know. Until this minute... I didn't know it existed...."
"You MUST have known!"
"Yes, I knew Ron was filming -- something. But I never took it seriously. He was a fucking college student! Making some fucking student movie! I had other things I was thinking about. And I'm supposed to know that it's going to show up here, what? Fourteen years later? How the fuck could I possibly know?"
"And you were fucking this guy, too?"
I smiled grimly at that. "In those days -- he was fucking me, sonny boy. Among hundreds of others. What do you think?"
I turned and headed straight to the cupboard for a glass and then the bottle. I poured myself at least a triple.
"Ben Bruchner was there! All kinds of people you know were there! If Jay recognized you, then they will, too."
"Then I guess Mikey will know, too... Maybe I could go over there and hang around outside the auditorium and sign a few autographs? Huh? Shit!"
"Yeah, and ask this Ron Rosenblum why he had to show up right this minute with his goddamn film and... and...." He trailed off into a burst of little sobs.
"Ask him?" I stalked back over to the table and picked up Justin's chin. "Ask him?"
"He was there -- with Professor Bruchner. The whole film festival is dedicated to his work. He's getting an award tomorrow night. That's what the brochure says."
Ron Rosenblum. I'd heard the name many times before, read the name, tuned out as Ben went on and on about his pal and the fucking film festival. But I never once made the connection. Maybe I'd just tried too hard to put the whole incident behind me. To erase Ron. Stan. The boys. The tricks. The dope. And the whole crummy aftermath. My successful self-amnesia! I couldn't have conjured up Ron's last name after all these years if you'd poked me with a hot fork, I'd buried it so, so deep.
"Fuck! Fuck...." Ron. He was in this town. Right now.
"Justin. Tell me the truth? How recognizable am I in this thing? How much am I actually in it?"
"I told you! Anyone who knows you would see it in a second. It's -- you! Younger, but you. And your voice, too... I mean, you are all over it, Brian. It's not WITH you in it -- it's ABOUT you. It's.... He grabbed my hand and held it tightly. "It's like a love letter. That's all I can say."
"Fuck me." I pulled my hand from his and walked away.
"Brian -- this guy... this Ron. Who was he? Who is he?"
"I don't know who he is now, but he was just some guy, like I said. A student. In his twenties. And from somewhere on Long Island. Yes, he talked about his parents out there. I... he... I mean, he tried to help me when I was in a lot of trouble. What else can I say? That's all I remember about the whole thing. Or about him."
"He was in love with you. You can see it in the film."
I didn't say anything. What the fuck could I say?
"And you loved him. You did! I can feel it...."
"Fuck 'love' -- you know what I think of that shit."
"I don't care what you say now, Brian. I'm talking about THEN. And you did!"
"Shut the fuck up! I mean it!" My head was spinning and I was walking in fucking circles now. He was watching me, his face stricken. I couldn't look him in the eye. Why the hell should I feel guilty? I hadn't even left the loft all evening -- I hadn't done anything! -- and it felt like the whole facade was crashing down around us.
I went in, threw off my clothes, and got into the shower. Turned the water up as hard and as hot as I could stand it. I wanted to burn all that feeling away. And I didn't want to think.
When I finally was numb enough I emerged. I shaved and started to get dressed. Justin was still sitting at the table, his back to me.
I took out the cell and punched some numbers.
"Yeah, I need Carnegie-Mellon University. Whatever is the main switchboard." I punched in the number I was given. "Yes, I need to contact someone connected with the Gay Studies Program or the Film Festival or whatever department that is? Right. I'll hold."
I sat down on the bed and waited. I finally got a male voice on the line. "Hey, I'm looking for Ben Bruckner. Sure. At dinner with Mr. Rosenblum? Do you know where? Well, I'm supposed to deliver some material for Mr. Rosenblum's, um, lecture tomorrow... Yeah, he needs it tonight. Which hotel? Yes, I can drop it off there. No trouble. Thanks, man. Right. Sure -- sometimes. Maybe I'll see you there." I flipped the phone shut and finished getting dressed.
I walked over to the dining room table and picked up the festival brochure. Ugly. Really ugly. I slipped it into the inside pocket of my leather jacket. Justin was still sitting there. He wouldn't look at me. "Why are you going over there?"
"I have to, Justin. You wouldn't understand." I picked up my keys.
He turned fiercely. "You couldn't want to fuck him! He's old! He's, like, forty at least! And he's not hot! He's not anything!"
"That's not why I'm going there. It's... unfinished business. It's... I can't explain it now. We'll talk about it later."
How could I explain it to Justin when I couldn't explain it to myself? I wanted to apologize to Ron in some way, I guess, for running out all those years ago. And I was curious to see exactly what he had become: a very successful filmmaker, apparently. A queer, definitely -- but then I knew he'd never go back to that bitchy girlfriend and all that shit. Maybe he'd become someone who had figured it all out. Who had survived that time undamaged in a way I hadn't -- survived and made it into something else? Art? I couldn't say until I saw the movie, of course, but if I was in it....
Yes, and I wanted him to see me. Not a junkie or a whore or a piece of trash to be pitied and forgotten. No, Brian Kinney. Successful executive. Someone who'd made his own way and worked his ass off for everything he had and who never asked for a favor or a thank you. Someone who could say 'fuck you' to anyone in town. Someone who didn't owe shit to anyone but himself. Not to mention a fucking icon in the Pitts queer world. This guy might have his 'Art' -- his documentary and his memory of his pathetic boy -- but I had the reality that negated it. I trumped that fucking card! Because I had everything I needed and it was all mine. Whatever he had wanted from me back then -- what he called 'love' I suppose -- all that sentiment and schmoop -- was bullshit and always had been.
And if he did, in fact, need a mercy fuck... well, forty or not, I guess I could provide it. After all, who better?
It was only a little after 3:00 a.m. when I heard the loft door roll open. It had been snowing earlier and I heard him stomping his feet and then the boots hitting the floor. The fridge opening and the sound of bottles being pushed around.
I kept my head buried in my pillow, pretending to sleep. More than six goddamn hours he'd been gone. No, more like seven. But maybe he hadn't been to the hotel the whole time -- or at all. Maybe he went to the club. Or the baths. Or over to see Lindsay and Gus, where he often went when he was depressed and wouldn't admit it. I wished he'd been to any of those places instead of to see that Ron.
The thought of Ron scared me, the way I was never scared of any of the hot guys Brian attracted, pursued, fucked, or fended off. They were faceless bodies and, as he always reminded me, interchangeable. I was jealous of them, even hated them, but I wasn't afraid of any of them. Never once had I ever believed that they could own more than a few minutes of his interest: the few minutes it took to fuck them and forget them.
Seven hours. He couldn't have been there the whole time.
I heard him in the bathroom, splashing in the sink. Washing his face, gently. Dashing water on his chest, his arms, running his wet hands through his hair. Probably putting some of that cream that looks and smells like honey around his eyes, patting it into his skin. The little rituals that he doesn't think I notice -- maybe he doesn't even notice them himself.
He moved around the room, hanging up his pants, picking something up off the floor, tossing something into the closet. He fiddled with the alarm, moved a few things around on the bedside stand, and got into bed.
I was practically holding my breath, waiting for him to go to sleep so that maybe then I could sleep, too. But I never felt more awake, my heart pounding loudly. I'd already taken one of my anti-anxiety pills, but all this had just about wiped it away.
I opened my eyes a little. He was facing me, staring right at me.
"Why are you pretending to be asleep?"
"I was asleep. I... I just woke up now."
"People who are such bad liars shouldn't even bother trying."
"Where were you all this time?" Shit! I should never ask that! I sound like someone's little wife.
"Just out. About. Does it matter? I'm here now."
"No. It doesn't matter," I lied again. And so fucking badly.
He put his arms out and I went into them with relief. I was practically shaking. He kissed my face all over and then did it again. He was touching, feeling, kissing every inch of me and then going over it all again, as if memorizing me. Where he was usually hard and fast and unyielding, he was kind and slow and careful. He turned me over and over again, exploring me from all sides, all angles. Rather than rushing to make me cum so I could hurry up and cum again, he pushed it and then backed off, then did it again until I was light-headed. And when I finally did cum I was gasping for breath, my body rigid. And he wasn't even winded. He didn't even change his pace.
He went on and on, fucking me once and then again, without cumming himself. His face was almost blank, in that other place he goes where no one can follow him, ever. Sometimes you see it when he's fucking, sometimes when he's driving, but usually when he's just sitting and thinking. I don't know if it's a good place or a terrible place, but when he's there everything else stops.
Then, finally, he came, but without making a sound. He's usually loud, even raucous, but this was like a silent sigh, long and dying. I thought of that weird poem: 'This is the way the world ends -- not with a bang, but a whimper.' I didn't want to think of that poem, but I couldn't help it.
"I don't really care, but... did you fuck anyone else tonight."
He held me close to him. "No. I didn't fuck anyone else tonight."
I fell asleep smiling. Thinking how dumb I'd been acting. What a damn baby I was sometimes -- afraid of something out of the past I couldn't even name. And, eventually, I slept, so stupidly satisfied.
But what I forgot to ask was if anyone had fucked him. And I knew, less than twenty-fours hours later, that this self-satisfaction, this moment when I was basking in his unexpected tenderness, was just his way of saying goodbye.
©Gaedhal, May 2002
Picture of Gale Harold and Randy Harrison from Showtime.
Go on to "Fuck Armani" -- Part 1" , the beginning of Chapter 6.
Send Gaedhal any comments, critiques, suggestions.
Updated May 3, 2002