This is Chapter Fifteen -- "Jenny Taylor"
The other stories in the "Wayfarers" series.
Features Brian Kinney, Justin Taylor, Jenny Taylor, Sara, Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Justin's mother, Jenny Taylor, follows her son. Pittsburgh, March 1859.
Disclaimer: This is for fun, not profit. Watch Queer As Folk on Showtime, buy the DVDs, videos, and CDs. Read the stories and enjoy.
Jenny Taylor had always felt herself blessed when she compared her son Justin to other boys. Not only was he angelically blond and beautiful, but he was so sweet-natured and loving. Not to mention artistic and discerning way beyond his tender years.
Which made his recent turn into obstinacy and even open rebellion so much harder for her to take.
Jenny had been sensing a growing restlessness in her boy for some time, but around Christmas something had happened that transformed her sweet young son into a rude, disobedient, and defiant stranger. It began when he lied about visiting a schoolfellow and was gone from the house for 4 days, refusing to explain where he had been or what he'd been doing there. Jenny kept this information from her husband, Jeremiah, for she greatly feared his reaction. Jeremiah and Justin were already at odds over Justin's college plans, with Jeremiah insisting that his son attend his own alma mater, Dartmouth College, with an eye to joining the family business, while Justin longed to go to Oberlin or the Eclectic Institute in Ohio, or else one of the Philadelphia schools. Justin was keen to pursue his God-given talent as an artist, but Jeremiah would not hear of his son wasting his time on such nonsense.
Jenny had always encouraged her only son to express his artistic side, but little did she imagine that Justin would believe that he could actually make his living in that difficult profession. Jenny feared that Justin's stubbornness and that of his father -- so alike were they in that trait -- would come to an ugly impasse. But she would never have guessed that her beautiful and innocent Justin would then give himself over to debauchery and sin! Which is what she feared was happening.
When Justin returned home after those missing days before Christmas he was neither contrite nor apologetic. Instead he was flippant when his mother asked him to explain himself. Jenny suspected that he had taken up with bad companions or -- even worse -- a wicked woman. Something about the way her son smirked at her knowingly, told her that he had been corrupted. And he smiled to himself, combing his hair and eyeing himself in every mirror. And he hummed constantly, jaunty little tunes. These things told Jenny that her son was in love -- or rather infatuated! -- with some female! And when she told her husband of her fears, Jeremiah had actually laughed and remarked that it was about time that the boy showed an interest in women, even bad women. Justin had been a mama's boy and a damned milksop long enough! Let the boy sow some wild oats and finally learn what it was to be a man!
So Jenny Taylor took her fears to her pastor, who piously volunteered to speak to the lad and pray with him to seek the godly path. But Justin had laughed outright in Rev. Nicholson's face! That is when Jenny ordered her son to his room and kept him there for the remainder of the week, not even allowing him to attend his classes at St. James Academy. That seemed a just punishment.
But then came Christmas Day and, in the spirit of that Season, Jenny allowed Justin to go off and distribute gifts to some friends from school. This time it was 5 days before he returned home, humming, smiling to himself, and refusing to recount where he had been or who he had been with. Justin told his mother directly that he was not in the least sorry for his absence. He also announced quite firmly that if Jenny Taylor or anyone else attempted to lock him away again or keep him from his "personal affairs" that he would run away for good -- and that his mother would never see his face again!
That threat terrified Jenny Taylor because she knew it was not idle. Her son was stubborn enough -- and foolish enough -- to make good on the declaration. And so for the next few months Justin Taylor did as he pleased. He still attended classes at St. James as he prepared for his graduation from that academy, and most nights he returned home as he always had. But come Friday he was gone. He dropped off his books and changed his clothes and went on his way, usually not coming back home until late Sunday or even very early on Monday morning. And when Justin returned it seemed to Jenny that the odor of sin clung to her innocent son. A few times she had smelled strong spirits on his breath, as well as tobacco. And sometimes the scent of some sweet and spicy perfume, like a mixture of vanilla and cinnamon, was on his clothes and even in his fair hair. Jenny Taylor imagined that she would be able to recognize the hussy her son was consorting with by smelling her alone.
So on a bright but chilly Friday afternoon in late March of 1859, when her son left the family home, Jenny Taylor followed him. Dressed in her plainest gray dress, a black coat, and a veiled hat like a humble servant, she trailed Justin downtown. It was not difficult. He strolled along in the sunshine, humming to himself happily, until he turned into a busy cafe next to the First Commerce Bank and across the street from the Clarion Building. Jenny entered, too, and sat at a distance behind her son, where he could not see her. She kept her veil down and ordered tea from the waiting woman. Justin ordered an assortment of muffins, cider for himself, and coffee for the person he was meeting.
Jenny Taylor found that her hands were shaking in anticipation of finally seeing her son's mistress. Would she be some older female, worldly and hard? Or a young and trashy trollop? That she was a loose woman Jenny had no doubt. It was obvious that her son spent those night away from home in her bed and only a loose and vile woman would behave in such a sinful manner.
Suddenly Justin stood as he spied someone entering the cafe. The person approached the table and they embraced. Then they sat down together, her son taking the person's hand in his own. A man's hand. A tall, handsome, and slender man with dark chestnut hair, wearing a fashionable black frock coat and a green and black silken waistcoat. The tall man began sipping the coffee, while the grinning Justin dug into the plate of muffins with gusto and spoke to his companion with great animation and emotion. They were completely at ease with one another, much like long-time, comfortable friends. Or lovers.
Jenny was unable to think coherently as she watched the two talking at the table, their heads leaning close together. The waiting woman brought more coffee and chatted with them as if they were regular customers. Which they obviously were. Yes, meeting there every Friday to begin their weekend. Jenny Taylor's head was so light that she thought she might faint. But she could not allow herself that indulgence. No, not yet.
Continue on to Page 2 of Chapter 15 "Jenny Taylor" .