GW–Recaps: The Book of Joel–Dénouement, Coda
Dénouement—The Quote that Framed the Chapter /Alan Moore (in V for Vendetta) The past can’t hurt you anymore, not unless you let it.
Joel is at a diner on Broadway. He’s meeting Harry, Angela’s assistant. Joel tells him that he just left Churchill’s manse in Alpine, NJ. Churchill couldn’t go through with the deal; he felt bad about what he was doing once he realized what Joel had been through in his life. Joel tells Harry that he and Gabriel are doing well. And he has some money and a gift for Harry. Harry has found out some info on Andreas. Enough to be sure Andreas is trafficking kids. Joel makes an agreement with Harry to have some illegal porn turn up on Andreas’s computer. Joel enjoys his conversation with Harry. And then he looks up and sees Jan outside, smiling at him in the rain. Then Jan begins to walk away. Joel asks in his mind will he never see Jan again. Jan tells him it’s time to move on.
From Mankiewitz’s New York Scene column, we read that Andreas has been arrested after the porn was found on his computer. The case involving Cody and Meese is still being uncovered, although Gabriel is cleared. Joel’s lawsuit has also been cleared to proceed in a motion hearing.
Between the Pages:
Would a real-life billionaire like Churchill actually grow a conscience and not go through with the tit-for-tat? Depends on the person. Although insulated from reality, Churchill isn’t an evil person. He is just used to the layers of distance that money offers. The key is both his realizing what Joel’s life was, and also realizing how Jan would have handled the situation. And Churchill did respect Jan.
So I don’t know if crying over your own work is bad, but I did a few times in this story. So did my significant other. When Joel had to give up Jaycia, when Gabriel broke up with Joel, and at the end here, when Jan walks away, telling Joel, Life is never over. There’s always something to keep with you. But the past has to move on. You need to move on. It’s time.
I had this to give Joel a way to go forward, to be strong in himself for what he’s been through. Jan served an important purpose for him, to remind him that he had managed to do a super job of taking care of himself and could use that experience to help Gabriel in this situation. Did Jan really show up? He was real enough to Joel, which is all that’s needed.
Beyond the Pages/Questions for Readers:
I’m combining the two here. I want to reiterate what I say in my author’s note. Please consider donating to an LGBTQ+ youth shelter in your area, or anywhere. I have some on my resource page. If you had any organization that helped you as an LGBTQ+ (or otherwise). Do you have any resources to add to the page here? Please share!
Thanks for reading along with The Book of Joel. I hope you continue on in the Gabriel’s World journey to Dead For Now.
Well, I kind of like Moby’s Extreme Ways for the end, but I like that for all books. But it’s the official Bourne theme song. However, I’ll look the other way if you play it along with reading.
That help me out late at night
Extreme places I had gone
But never seen any light
Dirty basements, dirty noise
Dirty places coming through
Extreme worlds alone
Did you ever like it then
But let’s try something else. Joshua Hodges’ STRFKR and Being No One, Going Nowhere. According to this article from Impose Magazine, Hodges came up with the music on the albun of the same name when he “realized that the appeal is letting go of your mind and stress. You can be super present with the pain, and then the pain isn’t even pain. It’s a gateway to freedom.” On the album, there are references to Buddhist thinker Alan Watts, a significant influence on STRFKR’s music. Letting go, as mentioned before, is an important theme for Joel. Not to suppress, but to let go and move on.
You’re alright where you are
Being no one
Extras: Deleted Scenes
This is the first version of the resolution regarding Joel’s obligation to Travis Churchill.
After 2 in the morning. They’re entangled with each other on the bed; Gabriel is playing Nina Simone’s version of Tell It Like It Is. The warm night has a breeze through the window that carries the sounds of the city in, along with moonlight. Gabriel dares to take one of Joel’s cigarettes. He’s been really good, so Joel doesn’t say anything. He stays curled on Gabriel’s chest, as Gabriel sings softly along with Nina.
Joel tries to figure out what to say. He doesn’t want to interrupt this. Eventually Gabriel asks him, still softly, “What are you thinking about?”
“Uh, Churchill called me. Tomorrow—I guess tonight now, I have to…see him.”
Gabriel draws in smoke. “You mentioned in passing that he was going to call you about a favor. I gathered what that means.”
“I have to do this. Because he helped me get you out of jail.”
Gabriel stares into the dark room. With his other hand, he runs his fingers through Joel’s hair. “Do you want me to talk to him? Is there something I can do?”
“No, nothing that would change the situation. Just…don’t be angry with me. I don’t want to do this, but I have to. It’s a debt. When I asked him, the only way—”
“It’s okay, baby. I’m not angry with you. I understand what it took to see him. If you really need to do this I understand. It’s nothing, whatever happens. It’s nothing. Not between you and me. When it’s over, we’re back being you and me. Remember what I told you before—you’re with me now. That’s what it is from now on. All right?”
“After what happened between us before…”
“Fuck that. Get it out of your head. It was before, not what’s now. With Churchill, you wouldn’t have chosen to do this on your own. If it’s the means to end a debt, so be it. He doesn’t have control over anything else. He doesn’t have you like I do. It doesn’t change you and me, ever.”
Joel holds him tighter, trying to feel if Gabriel’s drawing away, if he’s disgusted, if he’s contemptuous.
You don’t have to do that anymore. To test him.
He doesn’t. Because the answer is no.
“I love you more than anything,” Gabriel says. “Remember that, baby.”
At 8:00 that night, the driver pulls up outside Gabriel’s building. Gabriel walks Joel outside. Gabriel kisses him briefly, and watches him getting in the car. The driver glances at Gabriel. Gabriel’s expression makes him nervous. The driver feels like he’s looking at an uncaged wolf who’d tear his throat out if given opportunity.
“In here.” Churchill’s assistant or manservant or whoever he is, holds his hand out pointing to a larger room. It’s very large, with high windows, exotic plants, lush draperies, an indoor fountain, exotic rugs. Some distant electronic music playing somewhere.
Churchill is staring at the fountain, a stone and brick structure with platinum piping. “You’re really here. You never lied to me, that’s for sure.”
“I’m not like that.”
“I know.” Churchill turns around. “God, you still look so good. How is…the situation in Wayne?”
“It’s being investigated by the county prosecutor, and the FBI. Some other people are being implicated, typical New Jersey scandal. I think I saved the only video that showed Cody was a killer, but it’s a start.”
“Gabriel is okay?”
“Yes, he is.”
“I’m glad about that. You two are extraordinary.”
Joel doesn’t respond to that.
“He knows you’re here, and why. My driver told me he saw him…”
“Yes, I wasn’t going to hide that.”
Churchill picks up a glass of Italian sparkling water. He offers the bottle to Joel, who accepts and pours in a crystal highball glass.
Churchill says, “I didn’t think you’d tell him. From how he feels about you, he can’t be happy about it. But he accepts it.”
“He understands a debt of honor.”
“I get that. Just as you do.”
Churchill turns the glass in his hand, running his fingers over the etching in the crystal. “I read about what happened to you. That story about your lawsuit. And I know what you did in finding Cody was to help Gabriel. It was finding the man who killed your father, but you went all the way for Gabriel. Risked your life. I may not have known you too well when you were Dylan, but I understood the kind of man you were. If I was the homestead type, I’d have wanted you for my own back when I first met you. I thought about it.”
“I would have had something to say about that.”
“I know.” Churchill moves to stare into an expensive fish tank, 10 feet long, all in stone. “No one buys you, really. But I’m not the homestead type, and so I can allow myself the fantasy you would have been good with it. You were good with Jan. I envied what he had with you. He didn’t talk about you—he was very discreet. I tried to. I felt we had you in common, although clearly you and he were closer. He was very caring for you.”
“He was a good man.”
“I respected him.” Churchill comes close to Joel now. He puts the glass down on the table and places his hands on Joel’s head, running his fingers down slowly. “I was looking forward to this, just to relive the memories, to be with you again.”
Joel doesn’t say anything, but lets the other man touch him. Churchill moves his hands to Joel’s chest, feeling the muscles underneath. As in the past, he seems to be breathing Joel in.
Then he says, “But you know, I’m not a bastard.”
“I mean it, Joel. I suppose the fantasy would be better. The piquant of danger and all that. But Jesus Christ. What happened to you…all I can see is a line back to that man. The man who hurt you.”
“He doesn’t have anything to do with this. I acknowledge my choices in my life.”
“Responsible to the last. I could trust you with anything. I did. You never let me down.”
“I’m glad you feel that way. That actually means something to me.”
Churchill slides his hands around to Joel’s back, drawing his fingers down the crevasse of his spine. “I wish you actually wanted this.”
Joel smiles faintly, but he can’t lie. And Churchill nods.
“I wasn’t sure until I saw you again…I know you don’t want to be here. I may not be a good person like Jan, but I’d still like to think I’m miles from being someone like that cop. This was my hubris to get you here. Too much so.”
“You did me a favor I couldn’t do. You’re not forcing me to be here.”
“When you were Dylan, I wasn’t. I want to think that. You chose who you wanted to be with. As Joel, I am forcing you. Like I said, I’m not a bastard. I asked myself if Jan would have done this. And he wouldn’t. When I answered that question, I knew I shouldn’t have asked you. I’ll take my reward in having helped you.”
Joel raises his eyebrows. “I’m sorry?”
“I’m sorry. You don’t have a debt with me. I hope to get another painting of yours, if you show me any new work. As for tonight, Jere will drive you back. Thank you for coming, Joel.”
He takes Joel’s hand and then kisses him. He holds the kiss, savoring it. Then he walks away.
Jere, the driver, comes in the room shortly afterward. “We can leave now.”
Joel follows him outside.
Once over the George Washington Bridge, Joel calls Gabriel.
“He didn’t go through with it.”
Gabriel exhales. “How are you?”
“I’m…good. It’s over.”
“What’s over, baby?”
“This…part of my life.”
“That’s right. It’s over.”
Joel laughs suddenly. “So, uh, do you want to do anything tonight?”
Silence on the other end for a moment. Then Gabriel’s voice changes, getting lower, deliberate.
“Well…I would do something, but see—there’s this artist coming over. I met him in a Goth bar, and he’s the most gorgeous man I’ve ever met. I think we might have real chemistry. He’s created a painting for me, and I kind of hope that when he comes over I might be able to get to know him better, and possibly even get lucky. Know what I mean?”
Joel smiles to himself. “I think I do.”
“Yeah. He’s a real force of nature, and he makes me nervous in a way. I’m not sure I can seduce him. But I’m damn sure going to try, because being in his sight for even a short time is like being in the eyes of God.”
“I think maybe you’re being a little dramatic. A man like that sounds very labor intensive. Very risky.”
“Oh, I have that covered. Any funny business will be dealt with swiftly. I’m good at kicking ass.”
“Um. Well. Good luck with that, then.”
“I’ll let you know how it goes.” Gabriel hangs up.
Joel has Jere let him out at the Canal Street building. A half-hour later he leaves again, and gets a cab to Avenue A.
He doesn’t use his key, but presses Gabriel’s buzzer. The door unlocks without response. He goes upstairs.
Gabriel is waiting outside his open door. He has on a gray t-shirt and jeans. “Hi. Come on in.”
Joel walks in, holding a wrapped bag. “You have this place done up nice.” He hands the bag to Gabriel. “I hope you like it.”
Gabriel starts unwrapping the bag, watching Joel. “I know I will. So, sit down if you like. Can you stay, and uh, hang out?”
“Sure.” Joel takes off his shoes. “You seem like the type who would want shoes off. A real casual guy.”
“Some have said I’m pretty tightly wound, but I’d like to think I’m casual.”
Gabriel studies the painting, which is a large study of an orchid—phalaenopsis aphrodite, done in a style similar to Joseph Stella.
“Jesus. Your work amazes me even more than what I saw in the club…maybe you could stay with me a couple hours talking, have a glass of wine…I want you to feel relaxed here, so you can walk around naked for all I care.”
“I just might do that,” Joel says. “Maybe I’ll stay the whole weekend.”
This page updated 7/30/2017
Copyright Alex Fiano 2012-2017