This is Part 2 of Chapter 79 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "White Heat -- Part 1", the previous section.
The narrator is Brian Kinney, featuring Justin Taylor, Kenroy Smith, Helene DeMarr, Others.
Summary: Brian has to deal with the aftermath of Justin's 'romantic gesture.' London, July 2002.
"Don't! Don't... carry me. I can walk...."
"Shut UP!" I tell Justin. "Let me get you on the bed." It's easier to pick him up and carry him than to try and drag him across the room when I'm not certain he even CAN walk.
"I... I'm okay. Really."
"I'LL tell you when you are okay! And you aren't OKAY! You fucking little TWAT!" I'm trying not to freak out, but I can't help it. "What the fuck gave you an idea like that? What did you think you were trying to do?"
I put him on the bed and he tries to sit up. "I need something to drink. My throat...."
"You'll just throw it back up again! You need to wait a little while. Stay there and don't move. Put your head back." I flatten out the pillow under his head. His pupils are still dilated and his fingers are clutching at my arm, compulsively. "Where the fuck is Kenroy?" I look for my cellphone to call him again.
"Why did you call him, Brian? Where are you going?" He tries to sit up, his eyes wild. "Why are you leaving me? Where are you going?"
"I'm not going anywhere! Just be still." There's no way I can keep him down except by holding him in place. "I'm not going away. Kenroy is going to take you to the hospital."
"The hospital! No! I can't go there! Please."
"Just be quiet now."
I go into the bathroom and put my hands on the sink. Fuck! I can't believe it! And why didn't I fucking stop him while I had the chance? Why? Because I didn't believe he would do it. Never believed it. What IS he trying to prove? To me? To himself? FUCK!
I come out. "What? What's wrong?"
"Nothing," Justin says. He's smiling now. "I feel funny... I don't know." He blinks. "Kinda great. Can I get up now?"
"NO! You fucking can't get up now! As soon as Kenroy gets here you're going to the hospital!"
He smiles a fuzzy smile at me. "But I don't want to go to the hospital, Brian. I don't need to go. I want to stay right here. In bed. I can stay here. It feels good."
"Just shut the fuck up!" This is very bad! Even worse than having him sick and vomiting and falling down is to have him high and sailing. He's feeling the euphoria. Like an explosion of pleasure right inside you overriding all your possible pain. Of course, the problem is that the pleasure is a little less each time -- or it takes a little more dope to get to that same place. And then a little more. Until you don't need it for the high anymore. You just fucking NEED it to survive!
"I dropped the rest of the stuff. I dropped it. Sorry." He reaches up and pulls at my tee shirt. Pulls me down against him. "Sorry I fucking dropped it," he whispers. "But you can always get some more -- can't you? I'll wait here while you go out and get some more...." And he is consumed by a fit a hysterical laughter.
Oh my God.
Because he means it. He's not fucking kidding. I forgot how when he was in the hospital he was on some strong pain killers. Opiates. Probably morphine. One fucking step away from this shit. Who knows how long he was on it to kill the pain? The intense headaches. The muscle spasms. And that gives him a fucking leg up on the stuff. It's not a stranger to his system anymore than it is to mine. I wonder if he even realizes this? He couldn't have or he never would have tired this stunt.
But I know it. I know how seductive it can be. How easy. You don't even know it has hold of you until it's already too late. And he's as susceptible to the dope as I am. More so!
And it's my fucking fault!
Shit! And I was worried because he had a head cold!
And that's when I picture my worst nightmare. The nightmare that Justin has painted in my head. Not one idiot abusing himself on and off, but two full-blown junkies.
And that's the scary part. Because I can so easily picture it. And I can afford it. Afford to buy us all the dope we need. The best quality, too. We could sail off indefinitely in a euphoric cloud. No worries. No need to obsess about all this relationship shit. Or Ron. Or much of anything. Because it wouldn't be important when all you think about is getting high. You don't care about anything but the dope. Its rituals bring a kind of order to your life. Scoring it. Taking it. Going up. Coming down. Waiting for the edge to tell you that's it time to go around again. It's almost monastic. And if you have someone to share it with you....
Shit! That kind of thinking is what got me here in the first place! Thinking that I was in control and could proceed as if everything was normal. One look at the wreckage of Charley Weston should have warned me about THAT fucking lie! He's been a junkie for twenty years! And he's still standing -- but WHAT is still standing? He makes Keith Richards look like a beauty contestant!
Because the drug is ALWAYS in control. It only makes you think YOU are -- and that's where it's
laughing at you. Mocking you. That's the end of the fucking line. Right THERE.
I hear a rap on the door and go to answer it.
"I came as fast as I was able, but traffic on a Friday is brutal, just brutal," says Kenroy, as I close the door behind him. He goes over to the bed. "Hello, sunny jim. Had a bad day?"
"No," says Justin, his face dreamy. "I'm feeling great. So great."
Kenroy glances at me, frowning.
"We have to get him to the hospital. Now. If he won't walk, you'll have to help me carry him."
Kenroy looks at me. "I'd say you need to get decent before we go anywhere."
And I realize that I'm only wearing my tee shirt and briefs. "Fuck me."
"That's not my job," say Kenroy Smith, shaking his head. Justin bursts out in a fit of giggles.
"I'm glad everyone thinks all of this is so fucking funny!" I say, pulling on a pair of jeans.
Kenroy puts his hand on my arm. "Brian, the boy is obviously NOT in any danger. I think you are in a needless panic. Let's take it slowly here before you do something that can't be revoked."
"He's going to the nearest hospital! That's what is happening!"
"Noooo!" Justin moans from the bed. "I won't!"
"What's he taken?" Kenroy holds my gaze.
"He snorted some heroin," I say. Then I look away.
"Fuckin' hell! No wonder you were in a fit!" But he doesn't beat around the bush. "Was it yours?"
"Yes," I say shortly.
"Well, that should teach you -- but I'm sure it probably won't."
I hate it when people are so right about things.
"If we can get him in the Rolls, you can drive us to the nearest Emergency Room or Casualty or whatever they call it here. I'll take him in. You don't have to stick around, Kenroy. You've already done enough just by coming over here."
"Brian -- please think this over carefully. Because they'll want to know where he acquired the drugs."
I walk over to the coffee table and pick up the vial and the pink stopper. There's still a small amount of dope in the bottom of the glass. "Right here," I tell him. "He took it out of my pocket and didn't know what it was. That's what I'll tell them."
"But Brian -- you could be arrested. Or even charged with a felony. Possession of a Class A drug is still a serious offense."
"But I WAS in possession of it! It's only the truth. If they ask me -- I'll give them this." I squeeze the glass tube tightly in my hand.
Kenroy comes over and stands next to me. There's something about his no nonsense manner that I trust. He cuts through the bullshit. "You are only trying to punish yourself for this incident, you know. But if you end up in jail or deported, it's the boy'll be the one who suffers. Don't you think there'll be a devil of a row in the newspapers? Sir Ken's film will be left in the lurch. And your photo -- AND Justin's -- will end up on the front page of the 'Sun.' And you'll be in handcuffs."
"Better than on Page Three," I laugh, bitterly, thinking of the topless women the paper features. "And I've been in handcuffs before. Plenty of times. I even own my own pair." Then for some reason I flashback on an apartment in New York City. A well-to-do guy, but a freak. With a pair of handcuffs in his hand. I feel myself going pale.
"Like you said before, this is no joke, Brian. You'll make it a hundred times worse for him if you walk in there and hand them that vial and tell them it's yours and he took it! That's bloody suicide, man!"
"You can't do that!" screams Justin, suddenly. We both turn to look at him, sitting up in the bed, his eyes spinning. "You CAN'T! Kenroy -- don't let him fucking DO that! No!" He's yelling.
"Will you be quiet?" I say. "Just be quiet while I think."
Kenroy turns me aside. "Brian. Please listen. The boy isn't in danger right now. Do you want to upset him any further?"
"I don't want to take the fucking CHANCE that something will happen to him. And it's MY fault...."
"So, you want to take him in to get rid of YOUR guilt more than you want him NOT to be in danger?"
"NO, that's not it at all." I have to press my hands over my eyes to block out all my confusion. I sit down on the couch, feeling dizzy. "I'm scared for HIM, not for me! I've lived through all this shit before! I know what can happen!"
"But it WILL be bad for him, Brian, if you don't take hold of yourself." Kenroy squeezes my shoulder and then walks over to the bed to check on Justin. "You take care of your man here, son -- you have to stay fit for that."
"I'll try," Justin says in a far away voice.
"I'm goin' now, Brian," Kenroy states. "And you two are staying here -- for now. I'll be nearby for the rest of the night. If something happens I can be back in five minutes. Or you can call 999 for the police or an ambulance. But don't you mistake what Justin needs with what YOU need, Brian. I believe that is how all this bloody mess must have started in the first place."
"Keep your pecker up, man, and I mean that." And then he goes out. Right -- keep my fucking pecker up!
After Kenroy leaves I try to make some tea, but my hands keep shaking and I spill the water. I'm fucking hopeless at this. Instead, I order room service. Herbal tea, milk for Justin, sandwiches to get food into both of us. It isn't even evening yet and we have the whole fucking night to get through. And tomorrow is the concert at the Apollo....
"What's the matter?"
"Nothing. Nothing at all." That dreamy smile. He's still fully dressed and lying on top of the duvet.
"Why don't you take off your clothes and get under the covers? I guess we're not going anywhere tonight." I help him undo his pants and slip them off, then pull his shirt over his head.
"You can't take me to the hospital, Brian. I'd lie and tell them I bought the stuff. That you're just protecting me. I don't need a doctor, anyway."
"That's not for you to say." I fold back the covers and he lies back on the sheet.
"I know better than you. It's not a doctor I need, Brian." His eyes are a little clearer now. More focused. And they are following me.
"Is that so? What do you need?"
"I need YOU, Brian! And I need for you to fuck me. Right now. I need for you to."
"I don't think so."
Justin catches my hand. "Do it now! Before this feeling goes away! Please!"
"Because of that feeling. I'm won't do it!"
"But why not, Brian? You've fucked me when you were high before! When you were on pot. Coke. Poppers. Ecstacy. K. GHB. All those letters on 'Sesame Street,' right? And even when we were BOTH high. Don't be a hypocrite, Brian. Do it now -- before I fade away!"
"Shut the fuck UP!"
"Don't be a hypocrite!" he repeats, pulling me over and whispering in my ear. "Snort the rest of that shit and see what it feels like when we fuck. I bet it's incredible."
I stare at him. "You don't know what the fuck you are saying."
"Sure I do. It's okay for YOU to do it, to feel it -- to fuck ME when you're high. Afraid it will feel TOO great? Afraid that I'll love it TOO much and want to do it again and again and again?"
"Justin, for fucksake!"
"But isn't that what you WANT, Brian? The pleasure? The sensation? Your great pursuit? The only thing that matters, really? A maximum of pleasure with a minimum of bullshit? What could be more minimal than this? What could be simpler? Isn't that your dream, Brian?" And he's saying this to me while he's smiling, without irony. Without anger.
"You don't know what it really means, Justin! You don't KNOW!"
"Yes I do. I can be your dream, Brian. I CAN. And now I won't make any demands. I won't ask you to love me anymore. Or to be romantic, or any of that shit. It isn't important anymore. As long as we both get what we need. Plenty of drugs and plenty of fucking. And we won't need all that romantic bullshit then."
That's when I have to leave the room. I have to get out of there. I want to open the door of the suite and just run. But I can't leave him alone! It's like fucking 'No Exit'! What room of hell IS this? And I thought I'd already been in every one. I had no fucking idea.
Finally, I take a deep breath and go out and stand in the hallway. Go down the elevator and into the lobby. But I'm walking in circles. One of the bellmen glances at me and I realize that I'm standing there barefoot, wearing nothing but my jeans and white tee shirt.
"Can I help you, Mr. Kinney?" he asks.
"No, not at all. I'm fine," I say. The biggest lie I've ever told in my life. I go back upstairs.
Justin is sitting up in bed. "Where did you go? What's the matter?"
"What's the fucking MATTER? YOU are asking ME what's the matter? Jesus Christ!"
There's a knock on the door and it's the room service cart. I immediately go for the herbal tea and bolt it down, burning hot. I hand a glass of milk to Justin. "Drink this. Slowly. You need to get something into your stomach."
He sips the milk. He seems a little better now. Not so pale, although on Justin it's hard to tell, he's so pale naturally. But he still has the weird look in his eyes. I wonder how often he's seen that same look in MY eyes -- and felt the way I'm feeling now, like I'm sinking and can't catch a rope. Which makes me think about the things I've put HIM through in the past two years. This is not the kind of mirror I've ever wanted to be looking into -- the one that shows you your real self. No wonder my fucking middle name is 'Asshole'!
I sit on the edge of the bed. "Eat a little of this," I say. It's one of those absurd little sandwiches they make here, but it's bland and harmless.
"That's not what I want to put in my mouth," he says, pushing it away. He reaches over to stroke my dick.
"Quit THAT! I'm serious, Justin." I grab his hand and hold it tightly.
"So am I. I thought fucking was the only thing you WERE serious about, Brian? What's wrong with you?"
"What's wrong with ME?" Yes, he's right. What IS wrong with me? Because all of this started with me, not with Justin. He was only trying to prove a point about my own stupidity, obviously. But he couldn't handle the drug. Who COULD handle that? Not me, that's certain, and I'm bigger, stronger, and have a lot less to lose than Justin.
And he couldn't handle watching ME self-destruct. Justin and his fucking romantic gestures! He could have killed himself. Just like I could be killing myself, too. Like I really needed THAT to be pointed out to me. But Justin has his own agenda. His own idea of what he needs to do to set me 'straight' -- all that parroting back of my own rules, my own bullshit philosophy, my own idiot behavior.
"Yes," I admit. "Everything is wrong with me! I know it, Justin. But what can I do? It's fucking TOO LATE! So, don't even try to help me! To change me. Because you know it's too late."
"Why do you say that, Brian? It's not too late. I'm still here. I'm still here and I'm still high. Ooooo, yes...." That dreamy look on his face is like a knife in the heart. He puts one of those little sandwiches in his mouth and eats it slowly. "This is really, really horrible. I think it's cucumber. Can I have another one?"
I give him another little sandwich and even eat one myself. "Let's watch television," I say, thinking that something mindless will relax both of us. Keep focused on the routine. The ordinary. We watch the news and then some serial comes on.
"Brian, look. It's Harry!"
And I look up to see Harry Collins, Gerry Milton's partner, ambling along on the screen with a Labrador Retriever. "This must be that soap opera he's in. What's it called again, Justin?"
"'Mornington Close,'" he says, chewing on another little sandwich.
I get another cup of tea and settle down to see this. Of course, it's incomprehensible to me. A bunch of people living on some suburban dead-end and talking to each other about other people who live on the same dead-end. Harry plays the lovable old widower to whom everyone goes for advice. Justin and I both stare at the screen, transfixed by the seeming normality of the thing. How separate I feel from this kind of world, where everyone is so certain of his own place in it. That comfort of being sure of everything. Something I've never felt in my fucking life.
"And no sign at all that old Harry -- I mean, 'Clive' -- is a major poufter," I comment.
"Rowan says that his mother never misses 'Mornington Close.' When I told him that we were at his house, Rowan flipped."
"Rowan," I say, flatly. Fucking Rowan.
"For someone who's not really a queer, Rowan seemed to enjoy putting his hand down my pants, Brian."
"I know. I could see."
He looks up at me. "Could you really? Could you see us? I thought that with all the lights shining at you and all the confusion -- I thought we'd just blend into the crowd."
"Of course I could fucking see you, Justin! I'm not blind."
"It was only acting, Brian. Just like what you were doing on stage was acting. And then letting that Helene DeMarr blow you. That was just acting, too, right?"
"How the fuck do you know that she blew me?"
"Because I went back to the dressing room on Wednesday. After the shoot was over. I went to get you, Brian. But you were sitting there like you didn't know me. She had her hands all over your cock, so I figured she wouldn't stop there."
"I... I didn't know. I don't remember that." He WAS there! He was there all the time. Seeing me in all my glory, the King of the Fuck Ups with my subjects all around me!
"Then they put me out. They didn't want me there, that was obvious. Charley threw me right out of the room. I was just trying to take you home. They didn't want that."
"I'm sorry -- I'm really sorry, Justin." How could I have thought that Justin, of all people would run out on me? Where's my fucking faith in him?
"I know. I had found the dope in your pocket after you came back from rehearsal the night before. And that's when I knew that the only way to keep up with you was to really keep up with you. That this way was the only way." His eyes are closed now. I take off my jeans and toss them on the floor.
'Mornington Close' ends and another soap comes on, this one taking place in a hospital. I click off the remote. I slip under the covers and put my arms around Justin, holding him tightly. I'm not sure what I'm afraid will happen in the dark, but I'm definitely fearful that it will happen the minute I let go.
I don't know when we both fall asleep, but when I open my eyes it's morning.
Justin is very subdued Saturday morning. Very quiet. Like he's been to hell and back, but somehow come out unscathed -- thank God. He seems to feel no ill effects of his, hopefully, extremely short trip into junkieland. I think it's me who is feeling the effects so much more -- mentally and emotionally.
We eat breakfast in the room and afterwards walk over to the Portobello Road Market and wander up and down. Justin brings his camera and points out some of the things he saw when he was here last week with Rowan. He takes quite a few pictures and seems to be handling the camera pretty well. I know I a bit about photography and have a couple of cameras, including a digital one I used for advertising campaigns, but I don't see things the way Justin does. I guess I just look at the surface of things. The facade. Justin seems to see something deeper.
He also brings his sketch-pad and draws a gap-toothed old woman at a postcard booth. "Here you are Daisy," says Justin, giving her the drawing.
"Lord love you," she says, and then she kisses him on both cheeks. It's always amazing to me how people respond to Justin. That something about him pulls them in. His friendliness, his openness. His honesty. The same things that make them look warily at me.
"I took her picture last week," he tells me as we walk through the market. "So I thought I'd come back and draw her. She has an interesting face."
"How are you feeling, Justin? Really?"
"Stupid, mainly. I know it was a stupid thing to do." We walk along a bit more. "I'm so sorry, Brian. I mean that."
"Yes, it was stupid, but I understand why you did it. You were sending me a message. Pushing me over a fucking cliff, maybe? I thought that was a method that never really works? It didn't work with you, did it, Justin? Aren't you already 'on' to me?"
"I know. I just thought...." he shrugs.
"Justin, come over here." There's a pub with some table and benches outside and I lead him over to sit down. I go inside and bring out two Cokes.
"What? No pint of bitters for you?"
"Not today." I drink the Coke and the rush of sugar gives me a slight buzz. I'm holding on to Justin's hand and some tourists walk by, staring. Fucking tourists, I think. Take a picture! I stroke his wrist, rubbing my thumb across his brass bracelet. I get an idea. "Justin, I want you to promise NEVER to do what you did last night again. Ever. No matter how good you think the reason is. No matter what kind of cliff you think I need to be tossed off of."
"I already told you that I wouldn't do it again."
"I know -- but I want you to MEAN it. For real. See this?" I hold up his hand with the bracelet. "You think this means anything or not? Does it, Slave?" I smile.
"Yes," he says, smiling. "What?" He's going with this game. But it isn't a game at all.
"No, seriously," Now I don't smile. I squeeze his hand. "Because if you disobey me and do ANYTHING like that again -- I'll take away the bracelet. And," I reach inside my shirt and pull out the little red heart. It feels warm from resting against my skin. "I'll give this back to you. And then ALL bets are off! I swear. I've never been more serious, Justin. So I want you to promise me. Now."
He presses his lips together tightly to keep them from quivering. "I promise," he whispers.
"All right, then." And we get up and stroll around the market for another hour or so, holding hands. I know it's not Liberty Avenue, but it's a fucking antique market, so if the tourists don't expect to see a couple of queers acting like normal people when surrounded by antiques, then they should damn well stay home.
Then I take him back to the Chatterton and do what I refused to do last night when he was high -- fuck him until he begs for mercy.
By the time we are ready to leave for the Hammersmith Apollo and the big concert, I'm clean and sober and very, very well-fucked out. It's the best I've felt in days and any anxiety I had over the gig seems to have been scared out of me by Justin's close call.
The Hammersmith Apollo is a huge theater complex. Dorian wants that big sign to be a striking image in his film -- 'Hammersmith at the Hammersmith.' Hammersmith is one of the less picturesque areas of London, mainly traffic circles, shopping centers, and exhibition halls. That's why Dorian and his screenplay writer chose the name -- life and death amid the banalities of Hammersmith is as far away from life and death along the canals of Venice as anyone can imagine.
I saunter into the dressing room they've assigned me with my arm around Justin and the first thing I do is tell Helene DeMarr and her groupie friend -- who have managed to duck in there to wait for me -- to take a hike.
"But Brian," she whines in that grating voice. "Aren't we going out afterwards to see the Ball Turret Gunners at that club in Camden? You know -- some of the guys in Charley's old band? We talked about it Thursday night."
"No, we aren't, Helene. Maybe YOU are, but I'm taking my boyfriend out to dinner after we finish here. I've already made the reservation."
"You've got to be kidding, Brian!" She glares at Justin. "You aren't serious about this little boy, are you?"
"Yes, Helene," I say, my voice like ice. "I guess I am serious about him. Have been for about two years. Exactly two years in September, actually," I continue, evenly. "And I'd appreciate it if you got your well-used ass out of here so we can have a little privacy. I need to get dressed." The friend stands up and pulls Helene's arm to get her going. "Oh, and Helene -- the little boy could give you quite an advanced course in the art of sucking cock. Because, frankly, your technique lacks imagination. Just a friendly bit of advice to benefit the next queer you try to pull this shit on."
And Helene and her skanky friend hustle out of there pronto. Justin and I burst out laughing.
"The look on her face was great," says Justin. "Perfect payback for the way she treated me the other night."
"Let's hope that she takes that very broad 'hint' and stays the hell away from me from now on."
Justin bustles around the room, helping me with my clothes. My 'dresser.' I strip off my shirt and check on my gear for the concert. Leather pants and studded belt, of course -- the James Hammersmith trademark. And one of my favorite kind of black sleeveless breakaway vest-shirts that I had wardrobe make especially for these scenes. I'm planning to rip the thing apart at the climactic moment. That should be fairly effective!
I unbutton my jeans as Justin brings over a hanger. "You know, I think we may have time for you to demonstrate that technique I was telling Helene about. Too bad she couldn't stick around to catch a few pointers."
"Right," says Justin, taking matters in hand. "Too fucking bad!"
Continue on to "White Knights -- Part 1", the next chapter.
Picture Gale Harold from 'Flaunt.'
©Gaedhal, August 2002
Updated September 2, 2002