This is Part 2 of Chapter 61 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "Walking on Air -- Part 1", the previous section.
I flew First Class with Lindsay and Gus coming back from Los Angeles. But it was nothing like flying First Class with Brian.
On the trip back from Los Angeles I had felt so intimidated by the attendants and even the other passengers that I just sat in my seat and was glad to be getting a little more room and better food. I think Lindsay felt the same way. Except for things for Gus, she didn't ask for anything or seem to expect any special treatment.
But Brian is demanding. He lays out exactly what HE wants the minute he boards the plane. Which attendants he wants waiting on him. What he expects them to do. When they should bother him and when they should leave him alone. And precisely what he likes to drink and eat and at what intervals. And the flight attendants scurry around to appease him. I can only look on in awe at his natural sense of entitlement!
I sit by the window, while Brian takes the aisle seat. That way, he says, he can signal for what he wants. And he expects the attendants to take care of him immediately. And they do! That's the amazing thing. It's like Brian is already famous. I know it's kind of funny, but people are already looking at him and talking about him. In the airport. Here on the plane. He has a certain aura about him. Maybe it's charisma, because it's something more than just being good-looking. A lot of guys are good-looking. But no one else is Brian.
The one male flight attendant working First Class has definitely staked out Brian as his personal territory and he isn't letting any of the others even get him so much as a pair of complimentary headphones or an extra pillow. Nigel is older and a little prissy, and he has an English accent which Brian identifies as 'Newcastle or thereabouts.' I'm not sure where that is, but it sounds like something from one of those PBS adaptations of really old British novels.
"I think Nigel is our trans-Atlantic introduction to all things English," says Brian. "Let's hope the food he serves us is more of the American variety than the British."
"Isn't the food good over there?" That disappoints me. I'm always hungry, after all, and I'm looking forward to some real foreign food.
"Oh, it can be really good -- and really, really bad."
Nigel brings a hanger for Brian's suitcoat. "Wouldn't want to get all wrinkled, would we now?" he says. I get the impression that Nigel would like to hang up ALL of Brian's clothes and not just the jacket.
"But back to the food," says Brian when Nigel is gone. "When I was in London for my junior year at Penn, my landlady was supposed to feed me once a day. 'Dinner' -- which took place at about 1:00 in the afternoon. Everything was from a fucking can, even the meat. Ever had a Spam sandwich?"
"No!" I say, trying to imagine it. "A SPAM sandwich? Gross!"
"Well, if you're offered one -- don't fucking take it! I think THAT'S when my stomach started to go bad."
"Yuck is correct. And canned peas. I mean, my flat was in the basement of a house in Notting Hill. This was long before the movie, obviously, and the area was undergoing what I think we would call 'gentrification.' Meaning, multi-million-pound renovated rowhouses next to Rasta communes and heroin squats. A bit of everything all jumbled together. Which was cool, by the way."
"Are you going to take me there? I'd like to see where you lived."
"Why not? Our hotel is not far from there, in Holland Park. We can walk over and look at it. It's probably been re-done and got some rock star or fashionista living in it now." Brian pouts a little, thinking about it. "Anyway, there's this big market a few blocks away. Portobello Road. On the weekends it's a big antique fair, but during the week it's a regular farmers' market. Lots of West Indians live in the area, so you could get fresh fruit and vegetables even into the late fall and winter months. But did it ever occur to my landlady to actually BUY a sack of fresh peas or green beans or even a fucking head of lettuce to feed me? Not our Sadie. If it wasn't a can of baked beans or a tin of Spam -- forget it!" He made a face, like the Spam sandwich was still sitting in front of him, waiting to be eaten.
"What did you do, Brian?" I am thinking that he hardly eats enough to keep alive NOW -- what did he do when faced with such disgusting stuff?
"I lived on fish and chips and cheap Indian take-out. That take-out place fucking saved my life!"
"But Indian food is so spicy! What about your poor stomach?" That's one way I can take care of Brian the way he's taking care of me -- by making sure Brian doesn't bolt down anything that will make him sick later on.
"It's no spicier than Thai, and I manage with that," shrugs Brian. "The Indian lady at the take-out took pity on me and made things more to my taste -- in other words, not at levels calculated to clear your sinuses at twenty paces!" Brian smiles at the memory. "Plus, she sometimes fed me even when I didn't have enough money to cover the tab. Like I said, she felt sorry for me."
"Were you really short of money when you were over there, Brian?" I can't imagine that Brian's parents kicked in much support for him to study abroad. He was on a full scholarship at Penn State, so I know he didn't have a lot of money to spare back then.
"I got some cash periodically from my scholarship money. And my tuition and rent for the flat was pre-paid, so I didn't have to worry about being evicted, but sometimes...." He makes a funny face, then turns to me. "That's something YOU don't have to worry about, though. You're traveling top-of-the-line first time out! And that's the way it should be."
"Still, it must have been kind of... I don't know... fun to be a real student and have to scramble around like that in a foreign country."
Brian glances at me, then looks away. "I used my 'inner resources,' as they say. And sometimes my 'outer resources,' too. But that topic is not up for discussion."
Brian doesn't really have to draw me a picture to know what he means by that. I think. But it's just these fucking topics NOT for discussion -- the ones that Brian has put a lock on, like his 'past' -- or Ron -- that I most want to know about. That I most want to fathom. Because I think they are the key to really understanding him. It's like he's protecting me, somehow, from unpleasant truths. But he shouldn't be concealing those things from me -- he should he sharing them, because I know that if I could talk to him about them, then I could help him. I know I could.
Not long after we take off they come around with champagne. Of course, the attendants take one look at me and bring me a soda.
"It's such a pain in the ass to look underage!"
"Ah, Justin, you ARE underage -- for drinking, that is."
"Well, I drink all the time. Plus, they should know what else I do that's 'adults only'!"
"Just because the bartenders at Babylon pretend to believe that stupid fake ID of yours, doesn't mean that these people will buy it. Of course, you won't have any problem in London. No one will ask for ID there, if my past experience is any indication. They start to drink as soon as they can crawl over, climb up, and look over the bar."
"So, they do a lot of drinking in England?"
Brian laughs. "They do a lot of drinking in EUROPE! And a lot of smoking. And a lot of eating of a LOT of rich food. Everything that Americans think of as harmful and unhealthy, they embrace with great zeal."
"Wow -- sounds decadent."
"Why do you think Americans GO abroad? Haven't you read Hemingway? Fitzgerald? It's the place Americans go to eat and drink and fuck themselves silly without guilt or consequences. Just add smoking to that and we've completely updated 'The Sun Also Rises.'"
"Which book is that?"
"I thought you were an honor student? Jesus! It's the one where the main character gets his dick shot off in the war, so he spends the whole book watching other guys fuck the woman he loves."
"Ouch is right. I can see that your education IS still lacking."
"So," I say. "Is THAT the reason you brought me on this trip? My further education?"
"I told you to think about it on the flight. That has barely even begun," Brian answers, leaning back in the seat and closing his eyes. "Now, I'm going to relax until they bring the filet mignon. Unless they come around with more champagne. Then you may allow Nigel to wake me up."
I poke him, discreetly, on his side just above his belt. Brian is extremely ticklish right there. He jerks. "Will you quit that!" he breaths.
"Then don't act like a prima donna!"
"You ARE a little twat, aren't you?" But he's smirking. "I guess that's your main assignment on this trip -- don't let me get full of myself, okay? Because I have a feeling I'm going to need a LOT of reality checks once we get to London."
"But why is that, Brian?"
He now gets more serious. He leans over and puts his forward against mine. "Because I don't know what the fuck I'm doing, that's why!" he whispers to me. "And when I don't know what I'm doing I tend to cover it up with a lot of false bravado and general bullshit. And I might actually start believing that kind of crap. So you be sure to keep me nailed to the ground, you know what I mean?"
"But you DO know what you're doing, Brian. I think you are talented. And Jimmy does, too -- he said so! And he ought to know what talent is -- he's got an Oscar!"
"That's JIMMY! He flatters everyone like that. But especially since he and I...." Brian stops and glances at me. "He's just like that. It's meaningless. Just like Ron's bullshit."
"They wouldn't risk their big movie on nothing, Brian. THEY must see something that you don't see. Or don't want to see. Sir Kenneth obviously believes in you, too. He wouldn't want you for his film if he didn't think you were perfect for the part."
"Well, that remains to be seen. Sir Ken has his own ideas about what I'm perfect for -- but I doubt it has fuck-all to do with my so-called acting ability."
"Now you are just being silly, Brian!"
Brian is correct about one thing -- the minute he leans back and closes his eyes, they start serving dinner. Choice of steak or salmon. The steak is sort of shaped like filet mignon, but doesn't really taste like one.
"What did you expect? Even in First Class it's still only a fucking airplane and not Morton's of Beverly Hills!" Brian's isn't rare enough for him. His meat is never rare enough for him -- he says he needs it almost raw to replenish his 'bodily fluids.' I thinks it's just another way to ruin his digestion.
"The steak is okay, though," I say. "And the vegetables are great."
"Good thing -- or else I could send you back into Economy and you could have the rubber chicken they are eating."
"I think I'll stay up here," I say. But it's true that I was fine flying with Lindsay and Gus all the way to Los Angeles in the Economy section. It was a little cramped, especially with the baby, but it's only a plane ride, after all. But Brian is used to 'The Best' -- he demands it. Maybe that's his compensation for all the other shit in his life -- a little bit of 'The Best' to fill up the empty spaces.
"See? You're already used to being one of the privileged few. Of course, after getting a load of the country club set I can understand where you get your sense of entitlement."
"Brian -- if they strapped me to the wing and made me fly all the way to England that way, it would be all right with me. I'm just happy to be here."
"You SAY that, but you'd drop me in a heartbeat if a REALLY rich guy just snapped his fingers!I know how you twinks operate."
"Right. That's why I spent the night with you in your CAR when we didn't have enough money to get a motel room! Why I paid for the lemonade that night because you didn't even have fifty cents for the tip! Or even a lousy condom!"
"Will you keep your VOICE down? What do you want people up here to think?"
"I don't give a fuck what they think, Brian. And you don't either!" I say. "Are you going to eat that roll?"
"Jesus! If that mouth isn't talking or filling itself with something it isn't happy, is it?"
"I'm hungry. I'm a growing boy. My mom is always telling me that."
"Well, when I have to take you to the Plus-Size Shop to buy your pants you can repeat that little 'growing boy' bon mot to me again. It's already hard enough to fit that butt into a regular pair of jeans!"
"To quote the Master -- I haven't had any complaints yet."
"See how you take my own words and twist them around? Typical twink tactic."
"How would YOU know, Brian? You were NEVER a twink!"
"Of course I was -- just a lot EARLIER than you. And I grew out of it faster," he says. Then he adds, "I had to."
I feel a chill come over me as I see Ron's 'home movie' in my mind. Sometimes I get frustrated with Brian's adolescent behavior and the way he acts more like a kid than I do. But I forget how fast he did have to grow up. How he must have had to skip over so many of the little things that keep you innocent and young. I creep my hand over to where he has his left hand on the armrest of the seat and cover it with mine. He just looks at me and then darts his eyes away. But he doesn't take his hand away.
After the attendants clear the dinner remnants away, there's a selection of movies to watch on the seat-screens. Also some television episodes and documentaries. And music channels on the headphones. Plus, I have my portable DVD player. And my copy of 'The Fountainhead,' which I have yet to crack open.
But I end up just sitting back, reclining my seat as far back as it will go, and thinking. Just experiencing being on the jet, rushing across the ocean. With Brian. Just the two of us and no one else.
I must have fallen asleep, I was so relaxed. When I open my eyes the plane is dark. Someone has put a blanket over me. There are a few lights on at seats scattered here and there, but almost everyone is asleep. Except Brian, of course. He never seems to sleep, really. It hard enough for him in a regular bed, but in an airplane seat, forget it. He's reading one of the books he bought the other day, 'True Enough' by Stephen McCauley, the beam of light haloing him in the darkness of the cabin. He has his tie off and his shirt unbuttoned at the top and I can just see the gold chain and red enamel heart he always wears under his clothes -- the one I gave him. I watch him turn the pages silently.
I start to have those Mile-High Club fantasies. As usual, I've woken up with a hard-on, even though it isn't really morning. I reach over, quietly, and start rubbing the front of his pants.
"Don't even think about it," he whispers out of the side of his mouth.
"Why not? Everyone is sound asleep?" I whisper back.
"Because the minute you do, then Nigel or someone else will pop up and ask if we want a cheese danish or cup of coffee or something. It never fails."
"That's a long time away. What time is it now?"
"In New York or in London? I don't know what time it is in either place. I only know you'd better take your hand away or I won't be responsible for my own actions." Because he's getting hard. I can feel it, obviously, through his dark grey Versace trousers.
"That's what I'm hoping for."
"Shit," he says and stands up. For a minute I'm afraid he's going to stalk off to the toilet and whack-off there to teach me a lesson, but instead he pulls another blanket out of the overhead compartment. He also looks around, but there are no flight attendants in sight. They all seem to be up front somewhere, letting the passengers sleep.
Brian slips back into his seat and covers himself with the blanket.
"Just be REALLY quiet. And I mean it. The minute someone starts walking down the aisle, that's IT -- I don't want to be thrown off this plane halfway across the Atlantic Ocean!"
He unbuckles his belt, then he unzips his pants and quietly eases them down, then his briefs, under the blanket. I already have my hand there, waiting. I start stroking his cock slowly. Squeezing it gently, then a little harder. Brian takes his book up again and 'reads' while I close my eyes and pump his dick up and down. It feels hot and firm in my hand. Firmer. Then hotter....
But I can't resist. I slide down a little and duck under the blanket and over to his lap. He gives a little gasp as I take him into my mouth.
"I'm going to fucking KILL you!" he breaths, but he doesn't push my head away, either.
It's so still in the cabin that I imagine every tiny sucking sound is echoing. But it's silent, except for Brian's breathing, which speeds up almost imperceptibly. I imagine he's still holding onto the book, pretending to read. I try not to move my head up and down -- I don't want it to look too conspicuous to anyone who might happen to look over and see a moving blanket. But the flight attendants MUST be used to this sort of thing. Especially Nigel. I bet HE'S a member of the Mile-High Club ten times over! I wonder if there's an auxiliary branch for blowjobs only?
I reach up a little and run my finger gently across that little space on Brian's side just above his waist where he is so ticklish. He quivers, but doesn't do anything. I do it again. He snakes his hand around and pinches me so I won't try it again. I know he's really close to cumming now.
I squeeze the base of his dick a few times, then I take my mouth off for a moment and wet my finger. I lower my mouth down as much as I can -- which isn't all the way, not with Brian -- and then reach down and stick my finger up his ass as far as I can get it. That's when he cums, with a hard jerk and couple of shudders. I swallow as much as I can, trying not to let any drip out on his good pants or his white shirt. I lick up as much as I can from his stomach, his navel. I kiss around his flagging cock, licking that too, but not enough to get him hard again -- yet.
I wait a minute or so. Everything is still quiet. I peek out from under the blanket. Brian is holding his book and 'reading.' He is also half-smirking, half-frowning at me.
"Very funny. Nice performance," he mouths.
"I aim to please."
"Shush! We are going to get into so much fucking trouble someday it isn't even a joke."
"YOU are the one to give lectures on that? Brian!"
"That's ME. You're a different story. I'm supposed to be looking out for you, you little idiot. Not getting you into more 'situations.'"
"But it was MY idea!"
"Well," he says, putting down his book and moving under the blanket to pull up his trousers. "You were only doing what I was thinking. Obviously you have some form of ESP. I should stop broadcasting my lust all over the place where you can pick up on it."
"Brian, when YOU stop 'broadcasting' it will mean that we can finally buy you some flowers and close the lid on you, because you will be soooo dead."
"Maybe," he gruffs. He pulls a couple of white packets out of the seat-pocket in front of him and hands me one. "It's a good thing I saved these from dinner. You never know when you're going to need a Wash-n-Dri. NOW go back to sleep. I'll wake you when we're over England."
The line to go through Immigration Control is a long one. We get into the non-British, non-Commonwealth, non-European Union line with all the other Americans. I take out my passport, while Brian gets out his pile of documents.
"Remember what I said?"
"Give them the 'Sunshine' smile and don't pull any shit."
"Right. They may ask where you are staying, if you have money, if someone is meeting you -- whatever. Just answer briefly. DON'T fucking tell them your life story. I KNOW you and you'd talk the ear off the fucking Spanish Inquisition! I'll meet you beyond the barrier up there, we'll get the bags and go through Customs, and then catch a cab to the hotel. Got it?"
"Got it!" I give Brian a little salute.
The line crawls along.
"Remember when you said that I should think about -- about what I asked before, in the lounge at JFK?"
"What are you talking about?" he says. "I need a Justin to English translation on that."
"You remember -- about why you decided to take me with you to London? You said I should think about it and you'd think about it and then we'd compare notes when we landed."
"Did I say that?" He studies a sign posted next to the line listing things forbidden to be brought into the United Kingdom. "I was obviously anticipating your little performance on the plane. That's why I brought you. Why else?"
"But you could get that anytime, anywhere, from anybody, Brian. All you would have had to do was call over Nigel...."
"Just a 'for instance.' You could have picked up a dozen guys on that plane. You were even fighting them off in the airport! So, why bring ME when I'm really pretty much a drag on your freedom while you're traveling -- while you're in England? Especially since you don't have Ron dogging you at every turn. I'd think you'd be more happy to be --unhindered. Then you can go on about your wicked ways and not have to worry about me."
Brian rolls his eyes. "Why don't you just shut up? Or I'll send you back before we even leave Heathrow."
I sigh. "Never mind. I knew you were only humoring me when I asked that question. But that doesn't mean I still don't want to know the answer."
He spins me around to face him. An elderly couple behind us in line make a grumpy sound, like 'do we have to watch a couple of fags tiffing so early in the morning?' Brian turns us away from them.
"If you have to ask me the same question at the end of this trip...." Brian moves his mouth around, like he's chewing on something he can't quite swallow. "If you NEED to ask it...." He stops and looks away again.
Brian is the worst for articulating ANYTHING. It's maddening. "I understand," I say. And I do -- sort of. But I wish he would just fucking SAY what he's thinking. What he's feeling. His silence makes me stifle my own emotions. And I don't want to stifle them. I'm dying to tell him what I'm feeling about everything! But I can't risk it. I'm afraid to risk it. Because he can't tell ME back.
But he puts his arm around me and gives the oldies behind us an imperious brush-off. Then we move forward in the line.
"Look! Brian! There's YOUR name!"
We are pushing the luggage on a cart through the doors just beyond Customs. I point to a chubby black man in a blue uniform holding up a hand-written sign -- 'B. Kinney.'
"Here!" Brian gestures to him and the man comes forward and takes our cart. "Are you from the studio?"
"Not exactly, sir. Just follow me, like, right out this way."
The man looks like Al Roker, but he talks just like Eliza Doolittle! It's weird.
"Are you a cockney?" I say.
"Justin! Don't be fucking nosy!"
"That all right, sir. I'm an East-Ender, born and bred, if that's what you mean, Sunny Jim. Name's Kenroy Smith. I'll be your driver today -- and maybe for the rest of your stay if you like. We'll see about that."
"That's intense! I bet you know everything there is to know about London."
"Every nook and cranny and cranny and nook. I was a cabbie before I went into business for meself. I'm a man with 'The Knowledge.'"
"What's 'The Knowledge'?"
Brian breaks in. "That means he knows every street in the city. By heart. Right?"
"Right as rain, sir. Shall we?" And he pushes the cart -- and us -- out through the doors.
The minute we hit the bright sunlight I begin to yawn. It may be morning in London, but in Pittsburgh it's still the middle of the night.
"Not up for any sightseeing today, ay?"
'I guess I'm a little tired."
"The jet-lag will get you every time. You'll be in the swing of things by tomorrow. Let your body catch up to your brain, like. There's the vehicle."
A big, black car, like something from an old movie, looms at the curb.
"Jesus Christ! Is that an old Rolls?" says Brian.
"That it is. And it's ALL mine!" Mr. Smith says, proudly. "That's me livelihood, right in front of you."
The door opens and Sir Kenneth Fielding steps out. I've only seen him in films and on TV, but Brian knows him pretty well. He steps forward and gives him a hug.
"My dear boy! Right on time! I see Kenroy has taken good care of you so far."
"Mr. Smith has been trying," says Brian.
"Kenroy, if you please, sir."
"I didn't know you had a full time driver, Sir Ken."
"I don't, dear boy. Kenroy is an independent driver. He takes care of a number of gentlemen about town. When I need a ride I give him a call and if he's free he comes over and takes me. I've been using his services for about two years now. I hope you'll take advantage of him while you're here, as well. So much more convenient than looking for a cab at all hours."
"We might just do that."
"And so -- who do we have here?" Sir Kenneth looks me up and down, then looks at Brian, questioningly.
Brian nods at me. "This is Justin."
"Well, Justin! Hughie will be glad to see YOU! He's so tired of nothing but dreary old men all the time! I hope you'll do some things with him while you're here. He knows all the good museums and galleries. And the stores, as well."
"Where IS Hughie this morning?" Brian asks about Sir Kenneth's boyfriend, who is only about a year older than I am.
"Home. Sound asleep. Yesterday was Mardi Gras and I'm afraid the boy wore himself out."
"What's Mardi Gras? Isn't that in February?" I ask.
"This is the London Mardi Gras. It's a huge gay party in the streets. Parades. Music. Like a big queer carnival."
"Like the Pride celebrations?"
"Very like that, my dear. Hughie partied a bit too hard all day, I'm afraid. I refrained this year, alas. I'm getting a bit up in years for such nonsense." Sir Kenneth gets into the big Rolls Royce and motions Brian and I into the back seat next to him. Kenroy Smith shuts the door and gets into the front. "Too bad you boys missed it. There are massive hangovers all over the city today -- especially in the Theatre District!"
"Another hangover is something I can do without, thanks," says Brian, laughing.
"Shall we proceed, then? The Dorchester? Isn't that where Ronald said you'd be staying?"
Brian clears his throat. "We aren't staying there."
"No?" Sir Kenneth turns to look at me and then back at Brian. "Then where, dear boy?"
"The Chatterton. In Holland Park," answers Brian.
"Just so?" Sir Ken looks at me again, raising his eyebrows "Well, well, well! The Chatterton! Indeed!" Sir Ken taps on the glass separating the driver from the passengers. "Onward to Holland Park, Mr. Smith! If they've reserved a suite at the Chatterton I'm sure that must mean that the boys are anxious to begin the honeymoon! Let's fly, then!"
And before Brian can say another word, the Rolls leaps out into the London traffic.
Continue on to "In the City -- Part 1", the next section.
©Gaedhal, August 2002
Picture of Gale Harold and Randy Harrison from OUT.
Updated August 2, 2002