Other Side of the Fence
Happy Turkey Day, everyone. In my old tradition, I wrote a fluffy little peice to remember the holidays. It's from an idea my boyfriend had. So I dedicate it to him. It's not too deep, but I hope it conveys the theme that I aimed for: Our differences are what make us the same. Enjoy this time with friends and family, thanks for being my friend, and pray for peace. Love, Randall (it is unbetaed, thus rough)
Brian was waiting for Justin in his least favorite place to be, a mall, during his least favorite time of year, late in the Christmas shopping season. They were meeting for his least favorite chore, shopping for other people. They agreed to meet at Starbucks. Brian arrived first. He sat at a small table overlooking the foot traffic of the mall, drinking sweet, hot chai as his mood simmered. He had tried to convince Justin to take his credit card and use it to buy gifts for the few people Brian remembered at Christmas: Mikey, Lindsay, Debbie, and, of course, Gus. "And buy something for yourself," he added. Justin glared at him with that laser look that told Brian he had overstepped. Relationships were hard, Brian realized once again, and he was still feeling his way around the obstacles.
"If you think I'm going to go out and buy gifts for your friends, and your son and for myself, then you need to lay off the pipe, Kinney," Justin said. "I'll go with you to buy gifts for the others, but if you decide to buy me something, and that's entirely up to you, you do it alone. I want to be surprised."
Shit. What a lousy wife he turned out to be, Brian thought, and then smirked at his own unspoken joke and agreed to meet Justin at the mall after work. Brian's mobile rang and he pushed talk. "Yeah?" Noise, traffic sounds, and then,
"It's me." Justin.
"Where are you? You're late."
"Wreck on the cross-town. I can't even exit and take an alternate route. Traffic is backed up for miles."
"Okay, I'll see you at the loft, then."
"No, Brian. We're almost out of shopping days. Just wait for me. Have some more caffeine. I'm making progress, it's just slow."
"I'll wait for awhile. If my patience wears thin, okay, thinner, I'll call and tell you that I've left."
"'K. But try to tough it out."
Brian pushed end and returned the tiny phone to the breast pocket of his suit. He drank some chai and considered getting a muffin, but decided the carbs were unwarranted. A well-dressed man paused at the wrought iron barrier marking the outward boundary of Starbucks. He was Brian's age, not unlike Brian in size and height. He wore an Italian suit and a subtle but expensive watch. He saw Brian gaze at him, and he smiled and acknowledged Brian's gaze with a nod. Instinctively, Brian knew it wasn't a cruise. Rather, it was an acknowledgment. The man was silently saying, `I recognize you as a member of my tribe: young, affluent, impeccable taste, on top of the world'. Brian had to smile. If only he knew how far outside the tribe Brian had wandered.
A woman and a small child rushed up to the young man, and the woman offered a hurried excuse while the child wrapped her arms around the man's leg in greeting. The woman was blonde and beautiful, in that well-groomed way so prominent among beautiful young women married to prosperous young men. Her casual wear had a studied elegance, and Brian figured that she must spend a lot of time with a trainer to maintain that slim body. Even the child was perfect, with her blonde curls and apple cheeks. She peeked around her father's leg to wiggle her fingers at Brian. He waved back. Her parents acknowledged this exchange with a smile that said, `We are all lovely, privileged, white people who feel secure in our primacy.'
"Except I'm a ringer," Brian thought with a frown. As he watched the perfect family walk away, he experienced a rare moment of breeder- envy. He didn't want to fuck women instead of men, nor did he envy the pre-packaged expectations visited upon breeders. But sometimes he wondered how much simpler his life would have been much if he didn't get bent somewhere between the time ol' Jack shot his load, and ol' Joanie popped Brian from her womb.
"Donate to the Christmas Fairy Foundation?" The rattle of a can of coins under his nose interrupted his daydream. Brian looked up at a plump, cherubic little man who leaned over the railing to solicit a donation. Dressed in hot pink and carrying a wand with a glitter- encrusted star at the tip, he resembled an overgrown Cupid on a sweets binge.
"What the fuck are you supposed to be?" Brian asked as he pushed aside the can.
"Why, I'm the Christmas Fairy, honey. Donation?"
"To what? Your retirement fund?"
"The foundation distributes food and small token gifts to disabled gay and lesbian members of our community. During the holidays, we also transport them to their chosen spiritual venue so they can enjoy the ancient traditions of the season."
Brian peeled a ten off his money clip and inserted it into the can. He was more interested in being free of this jerk than he was in doing good. He had no doubt it was a scam.
"How sweet! For your generosity, you get a Christmas wish!"
"You mean I can finally get that pony I always wanted?"
"If that's what you wish," the Christmas Fairy raised his wand with a flourish and Brian winced.
"Tell you what. Just make me straight for a day. I want to know what it's like."
"Oh my! That seems like a terrible waste of a wish!"
"Is it my wish or yours?"
Silver glitter rained down on Brian when the Christmas Fairy waved his magic wand and granted Brian's wish. As the glitter settled onto the table top, the Christmas Fairy smiled at Brian and disappeared into the crowd.
Brian glanced at his watch. Fifteen minutes late. He drummed his fingertips on the table in an impatient rhythm. `What the fuck is this silver shit?' He wondered as his fingers touched the gritty debris. `What kind of health regulations does Starbucks follow, anyway?' He stood, to brush the shiny flakes off his suit coat, a vague memory of some faggot in pink haunting him.
"I can't believe he did that." A pretty woman sitting at the next table observed as Brian inspected his chai to make sure the flakes didn't infiltrate his drink. He followed the girl's trim legs up her body to her attractive face and thick mane of chestnut hair. He wondered if her tits were real under that cashmere. Not that he cared. If they looked that fine, whether it was a trick of nature or a talented doctor, it was all good. He smiled his best Kinney smile and cocked an eyebrow as he sat in his chair and turned it slightly to face her.
"What was that all about, anyway? Did you see that faggot?"
She giggled. "He was pretty funny looking. You were very generous."
He vaguely remembered a donation. "Buying silence. I'm Brian, by the way."
"Hi, Brian. I'm Emma. Are you meeting someone?"
He could have her. He knew it. He could take her somewhere and peel off that cashmere and fuck her brains out. He had an unerring sense of when he hit a homerun, and she was a sure thing. Damn! His timing was off. "My wife. She's late, of course." He wore a plain white gold wedding band, so there was no way the bitch didn't already realize he was married. He never lied about it, anyway. He didn't have to lie. He saw the disappointment cross her features like a shadow. Did she think the wedding band was a remembrance of some dearly departed spouse and that he wore it for sentimental reasons? Christ.
"That's nice. Shopping?"
"Yeah, my least favorite thing to do."
"Brian, darling, sorry I'm late," a striking blonde rushed over and leaned down to kiss his cheek in greeting. He looked up at his wife and sighed. This flirtation was over. His wife was twice as beautiful as the other woman, anyway, not that it mattered. The hunt was good even when the prey was less than stellar. "There was a wreck on the cross-town," she explained as she gave the other woman a wilted smile. `Give it up' her look said.
"Daddy!" His son ran up to Brian and crawled onto his lap, sealing his fate as a family man. He delivered a sloppy kiss, two year old style, to Brian's lips and Brian caught a whiff of baby shampoo and Cheerios, the scent of Gus.
"Hi pard'ner. Are we ready?"
"What's all this silver stuff?" His wife asked, brushing at his shoulders as he stood and cradled Gus on one hip.
"I don't know, some nut came by and sprinkled me with fairy dust or something. Stupid fag," he complained, giving the redhead a final glance as they went.
"Language," Lindsay cautioned him, drawing a glare.
"Linds, don't censor me. I don't think the word `fag' is going to warp my son's sensitive brain."
He didn't want to get into a fight, so he let it ride. "I don't see why I had to meet you here," he complained. He shifted Gus to his other hip. They had the only kid in the world who refused to sit in a stroller. He climbed out of it and resisted it so much, they finally gave it up. "You know how much I hate to shop."
"Brian, I buy all the gifts for everyone we know, except your mother. Whatever I select, she instantly hates. But if you select it, it's proclaimed as unique and creative."
Brian sighed. He'd always been close to his mother. Lindsay never reconciled to that fact. It was almost as if they were competing for his affection. He was tired of the battle. "Let it go. I'm here, let's just get this over with."
"My car's making that funny noise again," she said, pausing to look in a shop window at velvet folds scattered with diamonds. Brian glared at her elegant profile.
"I just paid over seven-hundred bucks to get that car fixed!" What happened to pride in German engineering, he wondered? Her Mercedes was a sinkhole of expense. Some was due to her own lousy maintenance. She treated a precision machine as if it were a Ford Escort. The interior was always trashed because Gus had carte blanche to eat, play and otherwise mar the leather seats, and if the exterior was ever washed, it was because Brian washed it. Any regular maintenance he did himself. "I take care of the house, the cars are your responsibility," Lindsay decreed.
But how much work did she have to do in their huge, suburban home? She had a maid three times a week to do the cleaning and laundry. A yard man took care of the lawn and gardens. They ate out as often as she cooked. How complex could her life be? She saw a personal trainer several times a week, and played tennis on the days she didn't see her trainer. She had her nails done regularly, had facials twice a month and a massage every other week. Thinking of all this, Brian was building up to a slow boil.
No wonder he was always broke. No matter how much money he made as a partner at the ad agency, they found a way to spend it. He could never get ahead. Now Gus was in some expensive, tight-ass pre-school, which gave his mother even more free time. Maybe she should go back to work, Brian reasoned. She had a degree, and had worked at a gallery when they first married. She could contribute to the expenses. He was tired of hustling more and larger accounts just to increase his share so he could cover his bills.
Lindsay came from money, Brian didn't. She was used to this lifestyle he was providing her, he was still amazed that he could afford such luxuries. He was forced to admit their lifestyle was as much a personal validation of his success as it was her status quo. He could've married a mousey little girl from his neighborhood who would pinch every penny and save every dime. Hell, he could've married just about anyone. Attracting women was never a problem for Brian.
But Lindsay was the one who met all of his criteria. She was smart and beautiful and charming. She had an innate elegance and sophistication. He was proud that she took good care of herself, that she stayed trim and attractive. He didn't want a cost conscious frump for a wife or a brainless beauty queen. Lindsay was his ultimate personal validation. "Sandy Cause!" Gus shrieked, wriggling free of Brian's arms as he launched himself in the direction of Santa's temporary winter wonderland. Out front, an elf was handing out candy canes, while chatting with a tall, effeminate man who wore a magenta mohair scarf with his coat. The elf was about five-seven, tall for an elf, but vaguely familiar to Brian.
"See Sandy Cause, Daddy!" Gus pleaded, pulling at Brian's hand. Brian looked to Lindsay for guidance.
"Gus, darling," she said in her soft but firm voice. "You're not dressed to see Santa. Remember the outfit Mommy bought you with the reindeer on the front of it? We're going to put that on you and bring you back here so we can have your picture made with Santa."
"Gus see Sandy now!" The baby clouded up for one of his spectacular fits of temper and Brian intervened. He was in no mood for a Gus tantrum.
"I'll take him over there. You can bring him back another time for the photo."
"Brian!" Lindsay hated it when he contradicted her. They had fought about this before. "Fine," she capitulated. "You take him over there. I'm going to Macy's. Meet me outside the store when you're finished."
Brian agreed and led Gus over to the winter wonderland, taking the candy cane from the tallish elf before he could hand it to Gus. He pocketed it, not wanting to deal with Gus on sugar, or with the mess.
"Brian? Brian Kinney?" The elf asked and Brian stared at him.
"It's me! Michael Novotny! We were in school together!"
The scales fell from Brian's eyes as he identified the elf. Of course. Novotny. They were lab partners in biology one semester. Since Brian was a jock, and the most popular boy in school, and Novotny was a loser, their paths never really coincided before that. To his surprise, Brian rather liked Novotny. He had a fast sense of humor and a snarky sensibility that made Brian laugh. If not for the tight strictures of high school society, they might have been friends. However, he also remembered a kind of worshipful way in which Novotny looked at him when he thought Brian wasn't watching. There was something vaguely sexual in that stare. It creeped Brian out.
"Oh yeah, hi Mike. How are you?" They shook hands.
"Great. Is this your little boy? He's a doll!" "He's a demon, but yeah, this is Gus."
"Sandy Cause!" Gus was having none of this reunion. A pretty girl dressed as Santa's helper in red velvet and white fur gave Brian a flirtatious glance as she came over and took Gus's hand.
"I'll take him up there. You can wait for him in the chairs provided for parents. He'll be fine."
Brian nodded, watching her walk away with his son, admiring her ass. Novotny went on. "I saw the item in the paper when you got married. The picture of her in the brides section of the paper."
"You read the brides section of the paper?"
"We love to read about what everyone wore and where the happy couple is going for their honeymoon. Romance is grand," the tall guy in the pink scarf spoke up. Novotny smiled.
"Sorry. Brian, this is my friend, Emmett Hunnicutt. Emmett, this is Brian Kinney."
"Charmed!" Emmett said, offering Brian a limp handshake. Brian nodded and quickly withdrew from his soft grip.
"Your bride was gorgeous!" Novotny said with a sigh. "So glad you didn't marry that bitch Sally Walker that you dated in high school. She may have been a cheerleader, but she wasn't very cheery. I saw her not long ago, and she's as big as a house now. But your bride... wow! And she wore Vera Wang, and her bridesmaids wore crimson Vera Wang...so classy!"
"I love Vera Wang," Emmett agreed and Brian looked from one to the other. So Novotny was a fag. No surprise there.
"How can you remember the maker of my wife's wedding gown?" He only remembered because the bridesmaid dresses were so expensive, he had to pay for his sister's dress himself. She couldn't afford it otherwise.
"Because it was so perfect! And you honeymooned in Tahiti. How romantic."
Brian was becoming uncomfortable, hearing this through Novotny's perspective. "It was nice..."
"What do you do, Brian, to afford that wife and this suit?" Novotny ran a finger up the lapel of Brian's Dolce and Gabbana. "I'm in advertising," Brian responded, not wanting to hype his status, given the fact Novotny was working as an elf.
"Fascinating. I'm only doing this to earn some Christmas money. My real job is assistant manager at the Big Q on Oakland."
"Great," Brian said, realizing he hadn't even been inside a Big Q since he was in college. "Well, I'd better go check on my kid. Nice to see you, Mike."
"You too, Brian." The two men watched Brian disappear into the wonderland and Novotny sighed as Emmett observed,
"He is sex on legs."
"I know. I had the biggest crush on him in high school. My happiest time in my whole high school career was when Brian and I were lab partners in biology."
"Did you two ever...."
"Get a clue, Em. He's Sammy Straightman. No way. Only in my wet dreams."
"Such a waste," Emmett sighed.
Novotny nodded and agreed.
Brian sat among other parents, watching his son charm Santa and play amid the toys assembled for the kids in the wonderland. So Novotny was queer. That explained those lustful, high school stares. He worked at the Big Q, moonlighted as an elf and was a fag. Life could be worse.
The whole gay thing was something Brian didn't understand. He worked with gay people, even liked most of them, but the thought of fucking the hairy ass of some guy just didn't do it for him. Gays had it easy, he supposed. They only had themselves to worry about, no wife, no kids. All of their disposable income was spent on themselves. They were the new, hot subculture. It was now chic to be gay. Their rights were protected and he heard the sex was promiscuous and freely obtained. No strings, just two guys getting off for getting off's sake. And no one got pregnant. Of course, there was the AIDS thing, but there was AIDS in heterosexual fucking around, now, and condoms settled that issue. What about gay bashing and the conservative cunts who condemned gays to hell because they dicked each other? Yeah, that would be bad. But otherwise, it seemed like a very egocentric, carefree environment. His mobile rang, and he answered.
"Brian, Cyn." He tensed. Cynthia. His executive assistant and more importantly, his mistress. Another bottomless money pit. "What's up?"
"Are you coming over later?"
"I told you I was, Cyn. After I finish shopping, I'll stop by on my way home." Shit, he had to buy her a present, too. What was that she wanted? Oh yeah, a Michelle watch. He wondered how much that would set him back. "I can't stay long."
"Long enough, baby," she purred into his ear. "I want to cover you in peppermint oil and lick it off an inch at a time."
He felt his dick stir at that description and he smiled. "Yeah? And then what?"
"And then I'm going to throw you back on the bed and straddle that big cock of yours and slowly lower myself onto it, sliding my pussy down the shaft as I pinch your little titties..."
Brian felt the stirring turning into stiffening, so he knew he had to cut if short. He couldn't throw a boner in Santa's wonderland. The other parents may get the wrong idea. "Stop. Save it."
"Okay, baby. Don't be long."
She hung up and he sighed. He didn't mean to get into an affair with Cynthia. It wasn't as if his sex life with Lindsay was lacking. His wife was almost as aggressive as he was in the sack, and they had sex often and he always enjoyed it. But monogamy...monogamy sucked. It was boring. One night, working late, Cynthia brushed a little too close and the rest was inevitable. For the last six months he was boning her on a regular basis and then going home to bone his wife. He wondered if Viagra was in his future. So far so good.
Someone sat next to him. He glanced at a beautiful young man with short blond hair and narrow, penetrating blue eyes. He wore cargo pants and a tight t-shirt that proclaimed, `you say tomato, I say fuck off'. He smiled at Brian, displaying a Matt Damon bright grin. Brian smiled back.
"Which one is yours?" he asked and Brian pointed out Gus.
"You're too young to have a kid out there."
He laughed. "I'm too gay to have a kid out there. I'm just waiting for a friend of mine to get off. Get off work, that is. We're going clubbing."
"Novotny?" "You know Michael?"
"We went to school together."
"You did? Wow. You look so much more...evolved."
Brian laughed and introduced himself. The kid said his name was Justin. "Are you Mike's uh...boyfriend?"
Justin winced. "Bite your tongue, please. No! He's not my type. We just hang occasionally. I work with his mom."
"I'm a waiter, but I'm in college."
"You're fucking gorgeous," Justin observed with a frank smile and Brian felt his face grow red.
"I...no. Thanks, but no."
"You know you are. You play it, don't be modest. It's false."
"You speak your mind don't you?"
"I do, yes."
"You're pretty cute yourself."
Brian chuckled. He liked this kid, but then he was fatally attracted to blondes. Attracted? Well, not attracted, not to this kid, not in a sexual way, and yet...there was a connection. He suddenly wished he were gay. He would like to know what that connection meant. He would like to go to a club with this kid, dance with him, touch him....just see what it was all about. Just once. Justin cocked his head to one side as he felt the depth of Brian's gaze.
"Yeah, I uh...."
"Had enough, sweetie?" The Christmas Fairy, the fat little fart in hot pink, suddenly materialized on the other side of Brian. "Want to go back to the land of silver disco balls and hot sex in the backroom?"
What the hell was he doing here in Breederville, Brian suddenly wondered. He looked at the fat little fairy and sighed. "Yes, please."
And the silver glitter rained down.
"Brian, where the fuck is your head?" Justin's voice penetrated Brian's reverie. He was brushing glitter off of Brian's shoulders as he stood behind his chair at Starbucks. Brian stood and pulled him into his arms, holding tightly to him. He was still cold from being outdoors, and he giggled as he melted into his lover's embrace.
"What's the matter with you, Bri'?"
"Nothing," Brian said into his golden hair, nuzzling it with his nose, ignoring the stares they received from the breeders who passed them. "I just missed you, I guess. I missed this."
"Well, this will have to wait until we shop, stud," Justin teased. "Come on, I have some ideas. Can I have the rest of your chai?"
Brian nodded, clamping his hand to the back of Justin's neck as they abandoned Starbucks for the mall, two gay lovers out to finish their Christmas list, adrift in a sea of breeders.
|Disclaimer: The television show Queer As Folk and its characters are the property of Showtime and CowLip Productions. No money is being made. Stories and discussion are intended purely for the entertainment of fans of Queer as Folk, the Brian and Justin characters, and Randall's writings.
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July 25, 2004