This is Part 2 of Chapter 80 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "White Knights -- Part 1", the previous section.
The narrators are Justin Taylor and Ron Rosenblum, featuring Sir Kenneth Fielding, Hughie Marsh, Kenroy Smith.
Summary: Ron and Justin are an ocean apart, but they both hear the same news. London, July 2002.
Sir Kenneth's house is like a little jewel box. Every detail is perfectly selected and arranged. It's the perfect retreat. The perfect place to sit and admire all the lovely things he's collected.
It's so depressing there that I can't stand it.
All I want to do is go up and get into bed and pull the covers over my head. But Sir Ken has Hughie pour little glasses of liqueur that tastes like licorice, which we drink in his sitting room. He puts on some classical music. The contrast between this place and the Hammersmith Apollo -- or the Roundhouse -- couldn't be more jarring. At least, it's jarring for me.
Finally, Sir Ken seems to realize that I'm not listening to anything he's saying and he leads me upstairs to a little guest room. It looks like my sister Molly's room -- all Laura Ashley flower print curtains and bedspread and pillow cases. I feel like I'm attending my own funeral and surrounded by all those bouquets of flowers I used to think I wanted Brian to give me. Now they make me want to gag.
But I thank Sir Ken. He's been so nice to me. I know it's pity -- I see it in his face, just like I think I saw it in Kenroy Smith's face. In Hughie's face, too -- although his look also says, 'I told you so.'
I close the door and take a deep breath. I set down Brian's leather bag. I almost open it and take out his robe and put it on -- but I stop myself. I don't want to go there -- yet.
I get undressed to my briefs and tee shirt and get into the bed. I feel like I'm being swallowed by the soft mattress and all those flowers. And I just lay there a long time, staring at the roses on the wallpaper and the curtains moving against the open window, while the house goes totally quiet.
Then door opens and Hughie comes in. He's wearing a red kimono embroidered with Chinese dragons.
"What do you think?" I say.
And Hughie comes over and gets into bed with me. "Didn't think you'd be. Shove over."
"What do you think you're doing, Hugh?"
"Nothing. Kenny is out cold." He giggles. Hughie had a lot of wine at dinner and three of the little glasses of liqueur. He reaches over and fumbles at my crotch.
"Come on, Hughie. Get out of here. I'm not in the mood -- and I wouldn't do it even if I was."
"Why not? It'll make you forget your troubles." Hughie strokes my cock softly.
"I don't want to forget my troubles right now. I want to think about them and wallow in them."
"I told you your boyfriend was an impossible slut. You just don't want to know about it."
"You're right -- I don't. Especially from you."
"That other fellow is nice, though. He's cute. Is he your new boyfriend?"
"If you mean Rowan, no. He's barely even my friend. And Brian is STILL my boyfriend!"
"Well, I like that Rowan. I like his red hair. That means he's passionate." Hughie presses up against me. His mouth smells like licorice.
"I wouldn't know. Maybe YOU should give him a try, Hugh. As long as HE fucks and YOU suck, you guys should get along famously."
"What's wrong with that? Sounds quite nice. Quite nice, indeed." He continues to rub my cock, but it's as limp as I can ever remember it being.
Finally, Hughie gives up -- to my relief. He rolls over and is asleep in minutes. I now wish I'd had a couple more glasses of the liqueur to make me pass out like that. But eventually I drift off, watching the flowery curtains sway gently in the night breeze.
It's a beautiful summer in New York. But I'm not enjoying it because all I do is crawl from one jerk to another, trying to get SOMEONE to get a clue about my film. The fucking domestic exhibitors. The foreign distributors. The ad men. The studio money men who are all based in New York. Because 'The Olympian' finished and time is wasting! They have to get their asses in gear about MY film!
And then the fucking SKY falls in!
My contact in London tracks me down at an early Sunday brunch with some studio executives. As usual, he's whining and complaining.
And with good reason. Because it's the worst possible news.
Brian is in jail. Looks like a drugs and assault charge, my contact isn't clear on everything.
"You are fucking WORTHLESS, you KNOW that?"
And he bitches that it isn't HIS fault. It isn't HIS job to keep an eye on Brian. To make sure he's not getting into trouble, oh, no.
And he's right. It ISN'T his job. That's fucking JUSTIN'S job!
I tell the studio execs I have to go. They can tell I'm freaking out about something. I get my ass out of there to some place where I can think.
But first I call and put myself on the next Concorde out of this city. And that's tonight.
Then I go back to my hotel, pack, and call that fucking kid. That damned Justin.
I ring his mobile, praying that he's not stupid enough to have left it in his luggage or lost it somewhere. But, no, he answers. He sounds like he's been crying. He SHOULD be crying!
Because when I get to London, I'm going to murder that kid. I fucking SWEAR to God!
And then I'm going to get Brian's ass out of jail and take him home. Back to Los Angeles where I can keep an eye on him. Back to my house. Where he fucking belongs!
I hear Brian calling for me from far away. He's come to get me after all. Or I've come to get him. But he's so far away....
"Justin. Wake up, dear boy."
I open my eyes and Sir Ken is standing over me. I look over next to me in the bed, but Hughie is long gone, thank God.
"What's going on?" I look at the clock and it's already afternoon. I wonder why Sir Ken let me sleep so late. And... where's Brian?
"Get up and put on your clothes, my dear. We're going over to the Chatterton as soon as you are dressed and get your things. I want you to stay here in my house for a while."
I sit up. "Stay here? What do you mean?"
"You can stay in this room, if that's all right. You'll be just fine here." Sir Kenneth goes over to the window and looks out. He smooths the curtains. Then he comes over and stands by the bed, smiling down at me like you would to a sick person. I know that look from when I was in the hospital.
"But why do I have to stay here?" Suddenly, I'm frightened. I catch at Sir Ken's hand. "What's wrong? Why do I have to stay here?"
He hesitates. "Something IS wrong!" I get a horrible feeling. "What's happened to Brian?!" I'm almost yelling. "TELL ME!"
"He's all right. Nothing has befallen him. He's just...." I hate that pitying look in Sir Ken's eyes.
"TELL ME before I fucking start screaming!"
"He's been arrested, Justin. He tried to contact you at the Chatterton very late last night from the police station when they allowed him a call, but when there was no answer he called Dorian instead. After Dorian rang me this morning, I contacted my solicitor, Sir Miles Hadleigh, and he's on his way over to the police station in Camden as we speak. Hopefully, Sir Miles will get this little unpleasantness straightened out and Brian will be home safe and sound before we know it." Sir Kenneth sounds so composed and detached while he's delivering this devastating news.
I sit there for a few moments, too shocked to move. I can't take it all in.
"Then why do I have to get my clothes and stay here?" I ask. "I mean, if the lawyer's going to get it straightened out so fast?" My heart is racing now. I'm trying to imagine -- but I don't want to think about what he could have been arrested for.
"Purely as a precaution, my dear," says Sir Ken. "We wouldn't want the press to get your photo... or anything."
"The press? What do you mean?"
"They've already called here, looking for information. When they find out where he was staying, they'll be all over the hotel -- or waiting outside it. So, it's better that you stay here for now."
"And fucking HIDE?" I stand up and reach for my pants. "I want to go to the police station right NOW! If you won't take me, I'll call Kenroy Smith. If HE won't take me, I'll call a fucking cab!"
I push Sir Ken out of the way and grab my cellphone out of my new suede jacket. The jacket that Brian bought me when he took me to Harrod's last week. I punch in the numbers -- and I hear something ring inside Brian's bag on the floor next to the bed. Sir Ken reaches into it -- and pulls out Brian's phone.
"Fuck!" I cry. "Fuck." Then I sit on the edge of the bed and cry for real.
"It would have been no use ringing him anyway, my dear. They would have taken his phone away when...."
"When they put him in jail? In the cell? Is that it?"
"Justin -- I'm sure he will be fine. Brian is a big boy -- he can take care of himself quite well."
"Right! He can take care of himself just great! That's why he's in fucking JAIL!" I'm shaking now. "He wouldn't let me go with him last night. Oh, no! He wouldn't let me. I should have INSISTED on going with him! Don't you SEE, Sir Ken? THAT'S my job! To take care of Brian...."
Sir Ken touches my arm. "My dear, that is no one's job but Brian's own. Perhaps by refusing to take you with him he was saving you from an impossible situation. From..."
"From HIM? Saving me from HIMSELF? That's such crap, Sir Ken! I'm supposed to be taking care of him here! But everyone is SO busy 'protecting' me! I don't need to be protected! I don't NEED to be sheltered! I'm not a fucking infant!"
My cellphone rings and I grab it -- thinking that Brian has somehow found a way to call me.
"Justin!" a voice barks at me. "Can you hear me? I'm in New York."
My heart sinks down into my feet. "Yes, Ron. I can hear you."
"Did we or didn't we have a fucking agreement?"
"No! We NEVER had an agreement, Ron! Never!"
"Oh, yes we did!" he yells from across the ocean. "Remember our little talk out in California, Justin? Remember THAT?"
"Yes," I whisper. How the fuck could I EVER forget that night?
"I told you that I'd LET you go to London with Brian. That I'd give you both a little space. But that YOU had to take some responsibility! YOU had to keep a fucking eye on HIM! Curb his self-destructive tendencies, remember? No tricking, right? Keep him out of the clubs and baths, right? Prevent things from getting out of hand! And keep him away from too much drinking and the fucking HARD DRUGS!"
"I tried... I really tried...."
"I TOLD you that dope was readily available over there. But most of all, you were not to let Brian get into any trouble! Right, Justin? Was THAT too much to ask -- even of YOU?"
"I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" is all I can choke out. Sir Ken puts his hand on my arm. He can see I'm shaking. "How can I stop Brian? How can ANYONE stop Brian?" YOU never could, I want to add, but I'm afraid. Still afraid of Ron.
"You didn't even try, obviously."
"I DID! But those guys in the band! They've been filling him full of all kinds of ideas. Flattering him. And giving him drugs. Partying with him! And I couldn't be with him every minute, especially when they were rehearsing or filming!"
"You should have been! That was YOUR place!"
And he's repeating everything I've already said to myself. Everything! That it's all my fault. That I AM to blame for not being there to protect Brian. Because Ron is right -- I'm a fucking screw-up!
"We have to get him a lawyer."
"Sir Ken's solicitor is over there right now," I say.
"And where are you?"
"In Chelsea. At Sir Kenneth's house."
"Do you know what he had on him when he was arrested? Any clue?"
"I... I don't know, Ron. He was okay when I saw him after the show. He hadn't even had a drink! I swear! It must have been afterwards... when he went out with the band! With Charley Weston!"
Ron's voice settles down a notch. But I know he's still angry. Still blaming me. I know, because I'M blaming me! "All right, Justin. Tell me the worst part. IS there a drug charge?"
I look at Sir Ken. "I think so...."
"Yes, there is."
"What's he been using? And don't tell me you don't know. Because you DO KNOW. So, tell me!"
"Dope," I say in a tiny voice.
"What? Speak up for fucksake, Justin!"
"Heroin! Okay? Snorting it."
There's about a minute of silence. Then he says with flat, horrible calm, "I ought to KILL both of you." He sighs heavily. "YOU let this happen. And you know he's an addict. You KNOW it!"
"He's NOT. Not really...."
"Oh, YES, Justin. Since he was fucking sixteen! It's never really stopped -- only been on hold for a time. Until it starts up AGAIN! And it ALWAYS starts up again. Always."
"But... that was so long ago," I say.
"Fourteen years ago or last week -- Brian has NEVER stopped using drugs, whatever they were. Or drinking. Or abusing himself in countless ways. Tricking! Fucking! It's the same goddamn thing! The same self-destructive, heedless thing...." Ron's voice sounds raw, tired.
"But Brian could always handle it...."
"You think so? You really think so? You know better, Justin. We all know! But everyone has always been afraid to call him on it. To DO anything about it. That's the thing. We're afraid that we'll lose him completely. And now...."
"Then how can I have done anything, Ron? By myself? I... can't... I mean...."
"You're probably doing it with him. Aren't you, Justin?" His voice is accusing. Knowing.
Now I go completely cold. "I... I...." I can't answer him truthfully when I think of snorting that line of China White in the hotel room.
"So, you are. Well, lucky YOU didn't get caught, too. Congratulations."
"I'm NOT, Ron! Not... really." I don't know what to say. The memory of my thankfully failed excursion into heroin is drilling into my head.
"The old cliche, Justin. There is never only one junkie. There are always TWO. That's the way it goes. Because YOU don't want to be left behind. But now you will be -- unless you can figure out a way to get yourself into a fucking British prison!" And he slams down the receiver.
I must have been sitting there, stunned, for a long time. Eventually Sir Ken takes the cellphone out of my hand and pulls out his big, white linen handkerchief from his pocket and wipes away the tears that are staining my face. And he doesn't say anything. Because there isn't anything to say.
I call Jimmy out in California and give him the news.
"Jesus Christ, Ron! I can get on a plane and be in New York in the morning!" He's shouting into the receiver.
"Don't bother, Jimmy -- I'm on my way to London. This evening."
"I'll come to London... I'll meet you there!" I can almost see Jimmy jumping up and down, a bundle of misplaced, hysterical energy.
He IS impossible. I wish Jimmy would just get over the ridiculous crush he has on Brian because it's starting to annoy me.
"Jimmy, what's the point of that? If YOU show up in London the fucking press will have a field day! You'll just make it worse by drawing attention to what's happening. If I can get over there and get him out of jail and out of the country with the least noise possible -- that's my fucking goal!"
That calms Jimmy down a little bit and I get off the phone. But I'm not any calmer. I'm ready to fucking kill the next person who looks sideways at me.
I check out of the Plaza and take the limo out to the airport. I'm clenching my teeth the whole way. I hate when I'm sitting on a plane or in a car and there's NOTHING I can do about anything. The ultimate in impotence.
It isn't until I'm on the Concorde and have a chance to think a little rationally that it occurs to me that I might NOT be able to get Brian out of this so easily. I have no idea how serious the charges really are -- or what the evidence is. What the circumstances were.
And that little asshole was no help at all when I called him in London. He was hiding out at Sir Kenneth Fielding's house. He was hysterical, of course. Saying it was ALL his fault! And he SHOULD be hysterical. And it IS all his fault. Because what was the fucking POINT of letting him go to London with Brian if he wasn't going to put the brakes on him? Keep Brian in line. Keep him from going over the fucking edge!
Shit! THIS is what I get for being a nice guy!
Kenroy Smith drives me over to the Chatterton. He advises Sir Kenneth that it would be better if he didn't go along. His presence would alert the press immediately and they'd be all over us. Sir Ken agrees and I'm glad. He's being wonderful and helpful and all that, but his kindness is making me crazed with fear. Like he's preparing me for the worst.
I feel better with Kenroy's straightforward attitude. He's all business and that helps me to be more collected. He tells me what to do when we get to the hotel -- get out of the car and walk up the steps and in through the front door and don't look at or speak to anyone. Just go up to the room. He'll be right behind me.
And that's what we do. There are men who look like they might be reporters and a few photographers standing around on the sidewalk. They give me the once over when I get out of the Rolls, but they don't recognize me and I try to stroll nonchalantly into the hotel and then take the elevator to the third floor.
When I walk into the suite I almost lose it, because it looks exactly the same as when we left. Brian's clothes are hanging over the couch and piled on the chair, my running shoes kicked over next to the bed. I pull out my suitcase and begin to throw some of my clothes into it. Not all my clothes -- because this is only going to be for a day or two, right? So I won't NEED all my clothes. I know I won't!
Kenroy Smith walks around the room, tidying up a little. He even hangs up some of Brian's clothes.
I stop and look around. "Kenroy."
"That... vial. That I... the one that had the dope in it. It was here on the table. Right here." I point to the coffee table. "It's GONE! Where did it go? Someone's been in here -- looking for something!"
"I don't think so, Justin. You had the 'Do Not Disturb' sign on the door. Not even the maid has been in to make the bed." He looks around, like he's thinking.
"Then where is it?" I get on my hands and knees, looking under the couch and around on the floor.
"Justin, stand up." He pulls me to my feet. "I don't think it's here."
"When I was here the other day -- when Brian wanted me to drive you to the hospital. Do you remember?"
"Brian wanted to take the vial with him to the hospital. He had it in his hand. I think he put it in his pocket."
"In his pocket." I try to think. "Of his jeans? Those were the same jeans Brian wore yesterday! The same ones he was wearing last night... when he was arrested!" I sit down heavily on the couch. "Oh my God. Oh my GOD!" And he had that vial in his pocket. "I should have checked his pockets! I had those jeans in my hands when he was getting dressed! FUCK!"
"Justin, how could you know? We aren't even sure it was in his pocket."
"It IS! I know it is. It was HERE -- and now it's not." And I know for certain that Brian took the vial away from me and put it in his pocket. And now the police have him AND the vial.
Continue on to "The Kindness of Strangers", the next chapter.
Picture of Gale Harold from Showtime
©Gaedhal, September 2002
Updated September 5, 2002