The Scarf



Justin

Finally I'm getting the hang of this voice-activated word processing program, thank God, I've really missed keeping up with my journal.  I'm a visual person and I need to see my thoughts on paper or on a screen, it helps me organize and analyze them.  Especially now, when I can't always count on people to tell me the truth, and I've suddenly got these damned physical limitations that make me so crazy I could throw things.

I thought I really would go crazy in the hospital, not being able to get to Brian.  I knew I had to see him face to face to find out what was going on.  I didn't care that everyone thought he was a selfish asshole for not visiting me, I know Brian and I knew something was wrong.  And I was right.  He couldn't face me.  He thought I blamed him.

That's sort of what I figured out in the hospital, but I had to see it with my own eyes.

Naturally I was majorly upset that Brian didn't come to visit or even call me.  I asked everybody if he'd talked to them and they all said no.  I could see the anger and blame in their eyes.  I blamed Brian too, but not for the same reason.  He should have trusted me to believe in him.   

Today was absolutely the first time he's ever let me see him vulnerable.  Oh, he didn't want to.  He tried like hell to push me away, but I've told him before, I'm on to him.  He said some cruel things to me, but I knew why he was doing it.  He wanted me to run away, run away from him, so he wouldn't have to face me.  Wouldn't have to answer my questions.  But it didn't work.  In the end he broke down and talked about it.  About the attack.

A few people, Daphne mostly, have talked to me about prom night.  I'm so fucking angry that I can't remember that night, but my therapist says to stop trying so hard, the memories might come back on their own.  I could hardly believe it when I found out that Brian actually showed up at the prom and even danced with me.  He wouldn't have done that if he didn't love me, would he?  If only I could fucking remember that night.  I will take the awful memories if only I can have some good ones too.

The district attorney talked to me about the prom, when they were getting their case ready for trial.  I couldn't tell them anything, I didn't remember anything at all.  Mom was glad, because this would have kept them from calling me as a witness.  In a way I was glad too, because the thought of being in a courtroom and having people look at me and ask me questions, was more than I wanted to face.  Especially a few weeks ago.  I'm getting stronger now.  Finally I could get myself down to Liberty Avenue to search for Brian.  Daph didn't want to take me, she was worried but I'm sick of all these women fussing over me, worrying about me, coddling me, treating me like a baby.  Daph is not as bad as Mom and Deb, and at last she agreed to drive me. 

It was harder than I thought it would be.  The bright lights and reflections were disorienting.  Being in the hospital for weeks is like a sensory-deprivation experiment.  Being out in the world is so intense after that.  Trying to make my way through the crowds on the street made me dizzy, and I can't stand people touching me, staring at me.  I tried to act normal, but I don't always remember how to act normal right now, and I felt all these eyes staring.  Still, I forced myself to push through the crowds and finally made it to Woody's.  But once inside the door, when I tried to look around for Brian, all these guys started crowding around.  Talking to me, almost touching me, I tried to move away from them but I got stuck in a corner.  Just before I totally freaked, I heard Michael's voice.  He made the others move away, and I turned gratefully around to thank him.  Then I saw Brian, across the room.

He took one long look at me and immediately turned away.  God, that hurt, that really hurt so bad.  Michael called to him and after a minute, Brian turned around and came over to us.  He and Michael got me outside and we stood in awkward silence next to Brian's jeep.  Then Michael said good-bye and went back into Woody’s – and I knew he did it on purpose to give us alone time – Brian knew it too and he was furious.  But he was stuck with me.  He didn't look panicky but I sensed it all right.  His nerves were jumping like crazy, and not just from drugs.  I could tell he was pretty wasted, but he seemed to sober up as we stood there on the sidewalk.

"Let's go to your place," I said, pretending to think he would easily agree.  I saw him hesitate, then shake his head.

"I'll drive you home."  He turned away and opened the door for me.  I wondered if he knew I can't use my right hand.  Or not very well.  He knew all right, because once I climbed into the passenger seat, he reached up and pulled the seatbelt down and across my lap.  That's something I haven't mastered left-handed yet.

"Don't take me home," I insisted, "I came looking for you, I need to talk to you.  Please."  I wouldn't beg, but he knows I don't say 'please' to him unless I really need to.

He didn't answer but walked around the jeep and got in.  "It's late, you should be home," he tried again, crossing his arms on the steering wheel and staring out the windshield.

"Brian, it's ten o'clock."

He took a deep breath and sighed one of those Brian Kinney sighs, which I knew meant he was giving in, so I relaxed and turned to face forward.  Still he hesitated a moment, then I heard him turn the key and the engine roared to life.  He didn't peel rubber and take off like a bat from hell as he usually does; instead he drove about twenty miles an hour, and I was annoyed that he, too, was treating me like an invalid.  Or maybe he didn't trust his driving, he was still pretty wasted.

It was awkward between us when we got to his place, though I tried to pretend it was okay.  For one thing, we took the elevator - we used to just march up the stairs.  I was glad when he pushed the button and waited; he didn't say anything though, just stood staring at the floor.  Brian was silent, but his body language was screaming loud and clear that he didn't want me there, he didn't want to talk to me.  On one level this hurt my feelings, but on another level, I knew it only meant he was retreating, trying to get as far away from any emotional scene as he could.  So I determined not to act emotional, not to make it harder for him. 

I'm sure that to many people this would sound backwards.  And maybe it is.  But I love Brian, and I know he is not the cold, unfeeling man he wants everyone to think he is.  I've been on to him for months.  I don't pretend to understand him, and I don't know how to reach him most of the time.  But I'd been waiting for so long, working hard to get out of the hospital just so I could be here, standing in the middle of his loft, trying to figure out what was going on.  I made myself be patient and I was determined to act mature; if I blew up like a kid, he'd have tossed me out of there real fast.

I asked Brian for a glass of water, mostly to give him something to do, he'd come in the door and just stood there, in fact he was acting really freaky.  Nervous and hardly looking at me, his eyes moving around all over the place, everywhere but at me; his hands moving around the countertop.  Since he didn't say anything, I started telling him about my injury - I was sure Brian knew more than he was letting on - but he tried to smartass his way out of the conversation.

The thing is, I do know Brian.  And I do know that Brian cares about me, I knew that before the prom, and when I found out that he showed up there and danced with me, I was sure of it.  So that made it easier for me to ignore his pathetic jabs at me – and they were pathetic, too.  Brian can’t fool me any more; I’m on to him all right.

What clued me in that Brian knew more than he was letting on, was the way he ticked off the list of people helping me in the hospital – the occupational therapist, the trauma specialist, even mom sitting there holding my hand.  Well, anybody’s mom would do that I suppose; but how did he know about the specialists?  That was important but I let it pass.  Instead I told him about my memory loss, and the things people have told me to fill in the blanks.  I knew I hit a nerve when I said I didn’t remember anything and he burst out, “Well I do, I remember everything.”  He couldn’t look at me, he walked away but stopped in the middle of the loft.  Luckily I kept my mouth shut, and finally he started telling me what happened that night.


Brian

That was the first time in weeks that I’d talked about the attack.  Of course I’d told Michael the basics that night, and the doctors and the police; and the district attorney’s office took a deposition a few days later.  I never wanted to talk about it again as long as I lived.

I tried to stop myself, I tried not to tell him.  But as much as I didn’t want to, I realized he deserved to hear it from me.  I’m the one who brought all this shit on him, he deserved to hear about it from me.  So I told him.  I couldn’t look at him, which was fucking cowardly, but I couldn’t.  I knew I’d see the blame in his eyes, I’d already seen it in everybody else’s. 

Even Michael’s.  Michael had demanded, “Why the fuck did you go to the prom?”  And that was a fair question.  Why did I go?  I couldn’t tell him.  I didn’t know.  Or if I did know at one time, I’ve forgotten now.  And I was glad that Michael went on to Portland a few days later.  Because he kept wanting me to talk about it and I wouldn’t.  Couldn’t.  So it was a relief when he finally left.  After that it was easy to avoid people.  Phones don’t have to be answered, e-mails don’t have to be opened, people banging on your door will go away eventually.

I guess I knew this day would come, when Justin would demand to hear about it from me.  I didn’t know it would be so hard to tell.  I’m not an emotional man, and I hate emotion in others, so it pissed me off to hear my voice choking up.  I felt him come up behind me.  He said something, I tried not to hear it.  He said, “It’s not your fault.”  But it is.  It is.

Justin moved in front of me, put a hand on my arm, made me look into his eyes.  “It’s not your fault,” he said again, and I realized he meant it.  He wasn’t blaming me.  I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t move.  Then he leaned in and hugged me, and I almost lost it.  I put my arms around him, it was all I could do not to start crying.  Crying like some weak puking fuck.  I don’t cry, ever.  Not ever.

Finally he let me go, I still couldn’t talk.  He was letting me off the hook, like the generous little shit that he is.  He gave me a final squeeze and turned away, walked up the steps to the bedroom and went into the bathroom.  I heard him blowing his nose.  Clearing my throat, I turned toward the kitchen, picked up the open bottle of JB and poured an inch into a glass.  I felt Justin come up behind me, then he reached around and took the glass from my hand.

“Don’t drink any more,” Justin said, “I need you to drive me home.”  I nodded and he went on, “My mom must have the Marines out looking for me by now, so I’d better go.”

We rode in silence to his mom’s condo.  I knew where it was but I let him give me directions.  He didn’t get out of the car right away but I had nothing to say.  He asked if he’d see me again.  “Yeah, you’ll see me,” I told him, and he tried to make a joke about not waiting too long.  Joked that he might not be around very long.  It was not remotely funny.  Then his mom came slamming out the front door and herded him inside, but not before throwing me a look that should have turned me into a pile of ashes.  Justin might not blame me, but his mom does.

It was early enough to hit the backroom at Babylon but somehow I felt too tired, too drained to go looking for cock.  Instead I went home and had a hot shower.  First I folded up the scarf and put it in a bottom drawer.  Maybe I won’t have to wear it any more.


Jennifer

I hurt Brian and I’m not sorry.  My responsibility is to Justin, no one else.  When I drove up and saw them sitting there, I couldn’t believe my eyes.  There sat that man on my front steps, the man who almost got Justin killed.  Boldly sitting there with Justin and Daphne, calling me “Mrs. Taylor” like he was one of the kids.  He’s no kid, he’s a grown man.  A selfish, dangerous man who has to let go of my son. 

The night nurse told me about Brian coming around late every night, way past visiting hours, only to stare through the window at my son in his bed.  She was sorry for him, for Brian, I could tell.  I’m sure she is a good, kind woman, but she is not the mother of a child who was nearly murdered because of that man.  As I told  Brian, I was grateful that he watched over Justin, but in the end it meant nothing.  If not for him, Justin wouldn’t need watching over in a hospital bed.  I told him to leave Justin alone and he didn’t even argue with me, just walked away.  That’s the end of Brian Kinney, if I have anything to say about it.


Brian

I’m glad I kept the scarf.  I’m going to need it after all.








1/12/02