Charles spent the next day arranging appearances on talk shows and the news at noon. He wanted every channel covered, every person who watched any of these shows to hear Brian's side of the story. He booked interviews with the local reporters, especially Greg Harris who he knew would be sympathetic to their plight, and outraged by what had happened at the Italian Club. Brian sat back and let him arrange these things. He needed a break from the campaign, even if it was a forced break, and even if it was only for one day.
Justin was still sleeping quite a bit which was good. He needed rest to fully recover. He also needed his rest to keep up with the demands of Brian's body. Brian treated him like a porcelain doll, like he would break if he squeezed too hard. However, the flip side of this was long excruciating sessions of lovemaking. Excruciating in a mind-blowing, life-affirming, ball-rattling way! Justin was never treated so tenderly and lovingly. It was like Brian had almost lost him again and had to make up for it over and over again.
Brian always thought the best thing he had to offer was sex, and it certainly was one of the good things. But try as he might Justin couldn't convince Brian that simply talking and being together was enough. Brian would come up to the bedroom to check that Justin was breathing and before either of them knew what had happened they were into each other in some way, shape or form. Justin would fall asleep after, storing up strength for the next time Brian came to check on him.
After one rather vigorous session Brian decided that Justin would sleep for awhile and he had an errand he wanted to run. He threw on some jeans and a T-shirt, grabbed his leather jacket and keys and went down to the Corvette. He carried some papers he had retrieved off the internet.
He drove out of Pittsburgh following the directions on the internet map. It took him not quite an hour to find Robert Morris University and the student union building. He wasn't sure how he would find Chris Hobbs, but he knew he had to.
The person at the desk at the Student Union said she couldn't give out any information on a student unless Brian could prove he was a family member. Brian raised his voice, but got nowhere. He finally gave up and walked outside thinking he would cruise the campus in the Corvette and hope to see Hobbs somewhere.
"Hey!" someone said behind him.
"Yeah?" Brian said turning around.
"You looking for Hobbs?"
"That's right. You know where he is?"
"Maybe. What do you want him for?"
"We have some business," Brian said. He wanted to say he was going to chew the little fucker a new asshole, but he didn't think that would help his cause.
"Aren't you the gay guy running for mayor of Pittsburgh?" the kid asked eyeing him up and down.
"Hobbs is a homophobe. What do you want with him?"
"He owes me something."
"At the very least an apology," Brian stated.
The young man looked at his watch. "He should be back from his last class soon. I'll show you where his dorm is."
Brian followed the student toward a building wondering why the kid was helping him. When they got to the entrance the kid said that they might have to wait awhile. There was no guarantee that Hobbs would come there right after class.
Brian wondered if he should give it up and go back home to make sure Justin was all right. "Thanks for your help," Brian said and turned to go back to his car.
"Aren't you going to wait?" the young man asked.
"I need to be somewhere else."
"And here I thought Hobbs might finally get what he deserves," the kid said shaking his head.
"What do you mean?" Brian asked.
"I saw your picture in the paper with that blond who got bashed. I know Hobbs did it. He fucking got away with it without anything happening to him. I thought maybe you were going to make him pay at last."
"Why would you care?"
"I'm gay. There's a bunch of us would like to cut off his balls for what he did. I thought you might do it for us."
Brian snorted. "I'd like nothing better, but I'm not exactly into violence."
"It got pretty violent at that candidates meeting the other night," the kid continued.
"You know about that?" Brian asked surprised that someone so young was paying any attention to local politics, or politics at all.
"I'm a political science major," the boy said, "and I intend to vote for you."
"Are you old enough?"
The kid made a face. "Of course I am. All of us in the poly-sci club who are from Pittsburgh are going to vote for you."
"Really?" Brian was surprised. "Is the whole club gay?"
"Noooooo," the kid drew out the word to show his disgust that Brian even thought that.
"So why would they vote for me?" Brian asked curiosity getting the better of him.
"Because you're young and pretty hip." Brian liked the sound of that. "You have some good ideas about education and business. You're a liberal and don't want to lock all of us fags away."
"You have been paying attention," Brian said impressed.
"Thanks," he replied. "We have a good group. We've been following your campaign carefully. It will be interesting to see if conservative, blue-collar Pittsburgh will elect its first gay mayor."
"First openly gay mayor," Brian corrected.
They both laughed.
"I'm betting they will," the boy said.
"Thanks, I hope you're right."
"Nice talking to you, but now I have to meet someone," the kid said looking at his watch again. He started away. "Give it to Hobbs when you see him."
"Thanks for your help," Brian called after him, meaning as much for his political analysis as for his directions to Chris Hobbs' dorm.
The kid waved off his thanks with a backward look and continued to walk away. Brian turned back to look at the building wondering if he should just leave. He glanced down the sidewalk and saw Hobbs heading towards the dorm. As he spotted Hobbs, the young man looked up and saw him. He stopped dead in his tracks. He looked nervously around like he was deciding if he should run.
"Hobbs!" Brian called. "He's still alive."
He saw a look of relief pass over the kid's face and he took a few steps towards Brian. "Is he all right?"
"If he wasn't it would be the police standing here, not me."
"I'm glad he's okay," Hobbs said lamely.
"Is that right?" Brian asked with all the sarcasm he could muster. "Is that why you left him lying on the fucking pavement and ran away? Is that why you told him that you wished you'd finished him off the first time?"
Brian's voice had risen to a shout and people were stopping and staring at the exchange.
"Please," Hobbs begged glancing nervously around.
"Please? Please what? Please don't embarrass you? Please don't tell the sordid little tale of you threatening someone half your size? Please don't make it clear to all assembled that you're a fucking little coward unless you have a baseball bat in your hands?"
Chris Hobbs seemed to shrink in size in front of Brian's eyes. But Brian wasn't through yet. "If you ever come near Justin again, I will personally hunt you down and take a baseball bat to both your legs and then to your balls! Do. I. Make. Myself. Clear?" Brian punctuated each word with all the hate and fear he felt inside when he thought of what this piece of shit had done to Justin.
"Do I?" Brian yelled when Chris didn't reply.
Brian turned abruptly refraining from spitting on the lowlife piece of crap standing all too close to him. He stomped off in the direction of the Corvette.
He thought he heard some cheers from people behind him, but he refused to look back. He slid into the seat of the Corvette and gunned it out of the parking lot. He wanted to place as much distance between himself and Chris Hobbs as he could. He was seriously afraid that he might go back and strangle him with his bare hands.
By the time Brian got back to the loft Justin was awake and sitting in the living room. He looked almost as good as new. Brian kissed him deeply so glad that he had not been seriously hurt.
"Where have you been?" Justin asked.
"I had an errand to do."
"What errand?" Justin pursued.
"Just some trash to clean up," was all Brian would say before he pulled Justin up to the bedroom for the next round. He needed the comfort of Justin's body after what he had just done.
Brian sat in the makeup chair at Good Morning Pittsburgh. This would be his first appearance since the fiasco at the Italian Club. He had chosen to wear his navy suit with a red silk shirt and tie. He wanted to look conservative, but not too. Justin had declared him to be smashing as he sent him off at five-thirty in the morning. His appearance on television would be just after six-thirty. He wasn't sure who the fuck would be watching at that time of the morning.
He had reluctantly agreed to continue in the mayoral race, but he felt if things went badly today he could still pack it in. He grinned inwardly and sucked in his lips. Who was he kidding? He hated to lose. He wouldn't quit now. He was going to fight it out to the bitter end.
He still worried a bit about Justin, but the boy had been so sure and so firm in his declaration that Brian continue that the man could do little else. He hoped he had made the right decision in going on with this. He didn't want anything else to happen to Justin, and he hoped his little visit to Chris Hobbs would put an end to that source of trouble.
The makeup woman finished her work and said he looked fabulous. Brian snorted at her use of that word. He knew she was flirting with him. Obviously she didn't follow politics very closely, or even look at the front page of the fucking local papers, or she would know he was gay.
The show took its commercial break and the assistant seated Brian in his chair across from Sandra Dietrich, the co-host of this mickey mouse production. Brian told himself not to be so hard on the show. Sandra was actually one of the better interviewers on local TV. That's why they had picked this show to start their new campaign.
"Ready?" Sandra asked him.
He nodded and heard the director or someone counting them down to air. He took a deep breath.
"Welcome back to Good Morning Pittsburgh," Sandra said cheerfully.
Brian wondered how anyone could possibly be cheerful every morning from five a.m. to seven a.m. He vaguely heard Sandra introducing him as her next guest.
"So, Mr. Kinney," she said, "I understand you had a rough night at an all-candidates meeting a couple of days ago?"
"That's the understatement of the year," Brian replied.
"Could you explain what happened?"
"I'm not sure I know exactly what happened other than I was attacked and vilified for my sexuality."
"But people have known you were gay from the outset. I remember you announcing that right at the start of the campaign."
"That's correct," Brian said firmly. "I was gratified that it seemed to be less and less of an issue as the campaign went along."
"In fact the last polls indicated you were the frontrunner."
"So what could have precipitated this attack?" Sandra asked already knowing what the answer was.
"All I can assume is that there are certain elements of Pittsburgh society that don't want a gay man elected mayor. When I gained the lead, at least according to the polls, they had to take action to stop me."
"Are we talking homophobia here?" Sandra asked.
"I'd say so. My backers have done some investigating and discovered that the hall was stacked with fundamentalist church groups and other right-wing organizations. Somebody had to have coordinated all that and arranged for them to be there."
"Care to speculate on who might be behind this?"
"I have no proof, so I won't say anything, but I certainly have a very good idea of who it was."
"Would it have anything to do with your sudden departure from someone else's campaign, namely Jim Stockwell?"
"Smart girl," Brian thought. He had been hoping she would pick up on that. It was okay for her to say it. "I can't answer that, because I have no proof one way or the other."
"So what do you plan to do now?"
"I was shaken by what happened the other night. It was like a mob scene, getting more and more out of control. I seriously considered withdrawing my candidacy. I don't like violence. But then my partner reminded me that sometimes you have to be willing to stand up for what you believe in and accept the consequences that may bring."
"Your partner, Justin Taylor?"
"That's the one," Brian agreed with a little smile. It wasn't lost on Sandra.
"He convinced you to stay in the race? He must be a remarkable young man."
"And you're in for the long haul now?"
"Do you think there will be any more incidents like the one a couple of nights ago?"
"I certainly hope not. I know most of the citizens of Pittsburgh are tolerant, law-abiding people who merely want to live their lives as best they can. And that's what I would like to be able to do too. I don't see why I don't have the right to run for mayor just because I'm gay, and that's what the people who hijacked that meeting were trying to do, force me out."
"So how can scenes like that be prevented?"
"They can't be, but I want to thank you for allowing me to present my side of what happened. I want to appeal to the people of Pittsburgh not to put up with this kind of bigotry. If you don't like gays, then don't vote for me, vote for someone else, but don't deny people their basic rights and freedoms."
"Well said, Mr. Kinney. On that note we'll take a break and I'll be back in a couple of minutes with Jeff Backus, telling us how to train our dogs in a new and easy way."
"And we're out!" someone called.
Sandra stood up. She reached out her hand and Brian shook it warmly.
"Thanks, Sandra," he said.
"For what?" she asked innocently.
"For getting Stockwell's name into it. I couldn't have said it."
"I know, that's why I did. By the way, you have my vote. I hope you trample the rest of the competition." She walked away with a little smile flung over her shoulder as she prepared to learn how to train her dog in the next segment.
Brian spent the rest of the day making the rounds of the other local shows and news broadcasts. He did three interviews, one for each of the local papers. Once people heard the story and the way Brian was treated, the response was always positive. Brian wondered where these people had been on that night at the Italian Club. He hoped the general public would react the same way once they got the whole story.
Charles kept telling him that there would be a backlash against the intimidation tactics and homophobic views that had come out that night. By the end of the day Brian was beginning to believe him. He started to feel hopeful that he could still win the election.
The last event of the day was an appearance on the six o'clock Channel 5 news. He would be interviewed by somebody named Kelly for a total of two minutes thirty seconds. He was sure he'd be able to get all of his points across in that great span of time.
When they arrived at the studio, Brian was introduced to Kelly while the other anchor did a different story. Brian recognized her as the one who had talked to Stockwell several times when he was still running. She had always seemed sympathetic to Stockwell's ideas. Brian mentioned this to Charles but he seemed to think that nothing untoward would happen in such a short interview.
Kelly stood beside Brian as they were counted into their segment. Brian got a funny feeling from her, but couldn't put his finger on it. She began by describing the events at the Italian Club a couple of nights ago and introducing her guest as the gay man who was running for mayor. Brian didn't like that very much.
"Excuse me, Kelly," Brian said, "but I'd really prefer if you referred to me as one of the candidates for mayor, not the gay man who's running for mayor."
"But that's what you are though?"
"Yes, I am, but you don't need to preface my introduction that way."
"Whatever," she said, and Brian tried to keep his mouth from dropping open. "I want to tell you that I've seen you on all the local programs today telling the same story over and over."
Brian looked at her, not believing his ears. "That would be correct," Brian shot back. "I think it's very important that the public knows what happened and has "
"But aren't you just using this to further your campaign," she interrupted smugly.
"I certainly hope these appearances will further my campaign, but I didn't start the trouble in the first place."
"But you're milking it for all it's worth," she stated.
"I beg your pardon, but revealing homophobia and probable conspiracy is hardly milking the situation."
"Well, I guess we'll find out how the public feels about this on Election Day," she said smugly. "Thank you for your time, Mr. Kinney. Now back to the main desk."
"What the fuck was that?" Brian said to her once he was sure they were off the air.
"It's called an interview, a truthful one."
"In case you didn't know, Stockwell is out of the race," Brian said sarcastically.
"But Allan Billings isn't," she said and walked away with a little smirk playing across her lips.
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