Chapter 18: Revelations
When I get to the office it's a fucking mad house. There are camera crews camped on the doorstep, the phones have been ringing off the hook and every damned reporter in town wants to know if I have any comment about the arrests that happened yesterday evening.
I don't even know the details of those. Last night Justin and I had other things to worry about and this morning we didn't turn on any news because we want to keep all that shit away from Gus for as long as we can.
I get a statement typed up how fucking grateful I am that law enforcement has been so vigilant in pursuing the terrorists who murdered and injured so many innocent people, but that I can't comment on the on-going police investigation. It's not total bullshit. I'm both grateful and surprised that these arrests have been made. They wouldn't have happened under fucking Stockwell, that's for sure.
Cynthia hands out the statement to the crews outside, and the high-level temps she's called in reel it off endlessly over the phone.
I go into my office, shut the door and I'm about half way through the pile of paperwork that has to be reviewed or signed when Carl calls.
Craig's still not talking, but at this stage no one else involved is implicating him as being anything other than another bigot who doesn't want the perverts to have the right to marry. So far there's no evidence that he's become a full right wing nut job who doesn't think the perverts have a right to exist and who believe that they have a God-given mission to get rid of them all. Well, I'm sure that if it came to it, Craig would happily contribute to a plan to get yours truly wiped off the face of the earth; but that's personal.
Carl says that they still wish that he'd talk to them because those phone calls in the couple of days before the bombing could be really interesting. But so far, Craig's lawyer won't let him say anything.
Carl also tells me that the ones they've arrested so far are talking pretty damned loudly – mostly self-righteous bullshit justifying what they did - and that there are likely to be more arrests today. One name that has come up in the press is more than a little familiar: Hobbs. Not the asshole who took a bat to Justin's skull, but his Daddy. Carl can't say much, but according to the press this morning it seems likely that Hobbs senior put up a lot of the money needed for the whole damned campaign, up to and including purchase of the explosives. All Carl would say is that they're investigating.
I wonder if we can sue the bastard.
That would be poetic justice – Daddy Hobbs can rot in jail for his part in a terrorist attack and Junior can find out what it's like to be just a working Joe when all the people who got hurt or who lost someone in that fucking horror take everything they can get in damages in a civil law suit.
I need to call a lawyer. Maybe something can be done to freeze the assets before he tries to squirrel them all away in family trusts or some bullshit.
I guess my own shark doesn't deal with this kind of law. But I bet she knows another predator who does.
Mom calls sometime in the morning while I'm working on a new painting and after a debate about when is going to be a good time to get together, I wind up going to pick up Molly while Mom collects Gus. That gives Mol and I a chance to talk a little in the car. I know all this must be really up-setting for her. She never asked for a fucking prick of a homophobe for a father, and if I hadn't been gay she might never have found out she had one. So it would be kind of understandable if she blamed me in some ways. She doesn't seem to though. She seems a lot less self-absorbed than I was at her age. I mean, she's still a few years younger than I was when I met Brian, but for me, back then, my whole world was focused on me - what affected me and what I wanted. She seems to have a wider perspective.
She tells me that she thinks Dad is kind of like kids at school who blame everybody else when they get a bad grade. She says he knows he's failing as a father and just can't accept that that could possibly be his fault. That's a pretty amazing observation for someone who's not even fifteen yet.
"And you know what those kids are like, Jus," she says. "You know how they all sit together down the back of the class and moan about how unfair it all is and blame the teachers and the smart kids who make them look bad and the dumb kids who hold them back; and they complain about how they're always picked on and somehow they can never get the books they need from the library, when really it's because they just never pick up a book let alone go to the library. Or else they're just plain dumb as a brick.
"That's exactly what Dad is like," she finishes. "And those losers who got arrested – they're the kids down the back of the class that he's been hanging out with trying to justify the fact that he totally messed up being any kind of father."
That is so totally true it blows me away that she can see it so clearly. Dad can't cope with being a father to a gay son, so he's trying to blame everyone else – me, Mom, Brian, fags generally – anyone but himself.
How pathetic is he when even his only-just-a-teenage daughter can see his failures this clearly?
I spend most of the morning reviewing where we are with all the various campaigns. Along the way I get calls from Leo Brown, and old man Remson and a couple of other clients. I expected those. What I didn't expect was that instead of doing the whole "we need to consider how these events are going to impact our brand" shit, they all – all of them – are to offer support. Leo even gives me the name of his hot shot attorney in case I want to pursue any civil action.
How the fuck did this happen? When did the world change this fucking much?
By the end of my post-lunch budget meeting with Ted, I've pretty much caught up with everything, and am as confident as I can be without micro-managing every single fucking detail that everything is going smoothly.
Like I said, the whole world seems to be fucking changing around me.
Then I get two phone calls.
One reminds me that some things don't damned well change.
The other …
First Claire calls. She's seen the papers. A couple named me as the owner of "that dreadful place", as Claire puts it. The rest of her rant is, of course, about how I'm ruining her life and her kids' lives because of my sinful and disgusting lifestyle. Yada yada.
"Justin and I are fine," I tell her. "Thanks for your concern."
Then I hang up on her and remind Cynthia to give a list to the temps about whose calls I don't want to have to fucking deal with - including my dear sister.
But while I'm having that conversation, another call comes through. This one, of course, is from Joanie.
But what I get from her isn't a rant about how she's now too ashamed to show her face in church because I've been in the papers in connection with all this fucking depravity.
Instead, she asks if I'm okay. If Justin's okay. Then she totally blows me away by telling me that some right wing conservative radio talk show called her wanting to know how she, as an upstanding member of her church, felt about people being arrested just for standing up for morality and she told them – fuck, but I wish I'd heard her – that there was nothing "moral" in physically attacking anyone, let alone people who just wanted the right to be able to get married and have their relationships sanctified before God and that anyone who thought they had the right to act as judge, jury and executioner was an agent of the Devil not of God.
She says she thinks they cut her off then.
She sounds damned well pleased with herself.
I … I want to laugh but I can't, because there seems to be something stuck in my throat.
I manage to clear it enough to tell her that Claire called. She snorts. "You leave Claire to me," she says. "You've got enough on your plate without worrying about her nonsense."
She goes quiet for a moment, then says, very softly, "I'm sorry, Brian. I know you have no reason to believe me, but I am sorry. I have given comfort and support to people like them, and I only hope God can forgive me, even if you never do."
I hear her take a breath and then she says in her usual take-no-fucking-prisoners way as if what she's saying is perfectly normal, "I'll let you get on now. Please give my … love … to Justin. And to Gus, of course."
Then she hangs up and I'm left sitting there trying to work out whether I've taken one too many fucking drugs.
"One pill makes you larger …"
Fucking Grace knew all about how I feel right now.
Gus is excited when Mol and I first get to the house. He wants to show me all the things that Mom has set up for him. But then he makes it clear that it's time for me to leave now. He obviously doesn't want to share Grandma Jenn and Aunty Molly – he's used to having their attention all to himself. When it becomes clear that I'm not going anywhere he gets really upset, going red in the face and looking like he's either going to cry or start yelling.
Mom and I kind of look at each other – she doesn't want to seem like she's taking over, and I don't really have a clue what to do. But before I have to think of something, Molly sweeps in to the rescue. "Come on, Gussy," she says. "Let's get some milk and cookies and do our homework together."
This must be part of his regular routine with them, because, after giving me one more look that is worthy of the older Kinney in a bad mood, he takes her hand and they go off to the kitchen. I breathe a sigh of relief and to my surprise, Mom apologizes.
"I think I might be spoiling him a little," she says. "I … it was such a gift – to be given a grandson I never thought I'd have … at least not until Molly is a lot older. I think I might have gone a little too far."
I shake my head. "Mom, he's fine. He just likes his routine – and his routine doesn't include me being here in the afternoon. He'll get over it."
She smiles. "I suppose that's true. You were the same. You liked to come home, sit in "your" chair and have a glass of milk and exactly two of your favorite cookies. Heaven help me if I gave you different cookies, or accidentally gave you three cookies. Once you even threw them at me."
I look at her, a bit nervously. I'm hoping she doesn't share this story very often. I especially hope she never shares it with Brian.
"You got a time out for that one." She smiles, her eyes alight with mischief and memories, and I smile back. Gus and Molly pass us, heading for the dining room.
"They've been doing their homework together on the dining room table," Mom explains. "The rule is that he has to finish his homework before he can go upstairs and play in his room."
We leave Molly and Gus to their homework and settle ourselves in the kitchen with some herbal tea.
"Molly thinks Dad got involved with these anti-gay people because he wants someone to blame for not being a better parent," I tell Mom.
She nods. "Yes, I know. We talked about it a little last night." She pauses for a moment and then says, "Justin, I want to be sure that you know that this is not your doing. You have nothing to blame yourself for here. If your father has involved himself with these dreadful people, that is purely his choice. It has nothing to do with the choices that you have made. You have a right to live your life in the way that is best for you. If he's unable to accept that, it really is his failure."
I feel my eyes sting.
I know that. At least, I know I should know it. But there is a part of me that can't help playing the 'what if' game.
The thing is though that I can't regret the choices I've made because those choices brought me to this point in my life, and at this point, aside from the possibility that my Dad might be involved with a bunch of terrorists, my life is pretty damned good. And I refuse to accept any argument that lets my Dad off the hook for the choices he's made just because he can't handle having a gay son. I won't let him put the responsibility for anything he's done on to me. I won't do that to myself.
And it sounds like Mom won't let me do that to myself either. I'm so fucking grateful for that. I reach out and give her a hug.
She hugs me back and then says, "How is your painting going?"
I'm really glad for the change of subject.
"Good," I tell her. "I mean, I haven't had much time for the last few days because of the parties and stuff, but now that they're over, I can get back to it. And the work I did last week, I'm pretty happy with."
She nods and I find myself saying, "It's so different to when I was in New York. When I was there every day was a real struggle, just trying to get into a space where I could put anything down on canvas, or even into my sketch book. Now … everything just seems to flow through me. I have all these ideas and images and things I want to try, and when I stand in front of the easel, I don't have to be afraid that everything is just going to be a blank. Your wouldn't believe how great that feels."
She smiles at me, and says, "I can't tell you how happy I am to hear that. It would be a tragedy if you had to choose between your work and your happiness."
Those words really hit home with me, because that's exactly what I had done. Or rather, it's what people like Lindsay convinced me that I had to do.
"Any artist who tried to do that would be really stupid," I tell her, pulling a bit of a face to let her know that I'd been exactly that stupid.
She laughs. "I'm glad you see that," she said.
I stop and think about that. Back when I was making the decision to go to New York, Mom didn't really offer any advice, any thoughts at all about whether she thought I was doing the right thing. Looking into her eyes now, I realize that she hadn't agreed, she'd thought I was making a mistake. But she hadn't interfered. She'd kept her thoughts to herself (unlike just about anyone else in our little "family") and let me go ahead and make my own choices, make my own mistakes.
"Thanks, Mom," I tell her. One day, I might even tell her what I'm really thanking her for.
Despite all the fucking press and all that shit, it was a good day. I feel like I'm on top of everything that the agency is doing and by the time I pack up to head home, I'm feeling pretty damned good about most things. I'm looking forward to the look on Justin's face when I tell him about the call from Joanie.
Then just as I'm on my way out the door, I get another phone call from Horvath.
Seems like there will be more press to deal with in the morning. Chris Hobbes has just come into the station and made a statement implicating his father in having a major role in setting up the bombing. As a result Hobbs Sr. has been arrested.
Carl gave me a heads up about it because the press has already made the link between the Hobbs family and Justin.
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