With the twins happily off with the nuns, Wendy and I check into the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. John Boy’s parents made the arrangements and offered to pay the bill. They say they want everyone to stay at the same place to keep the logistics simple. It is pretty grand. I insist we pay for ourselves. Their togetherness idea is a problem: I have to meet Burt and his new wife, Susan. After working so hard to get Wendy to stand up for herself, I worry she may regress, encountering her domineering ex. We both are tense about the reunion. It is Susan who breaks the ice. She is devastated by Tim’s death, bursting into tears immediately. Wendy is surprised at how solicitous Burt is, of her and the two of us standing there in tears. He is changed by his new wife, as much as Wendy is changed by living with me. We all hug and any tension is relieved. Edgar and Dorothy approach us and suggest we all go to dinner together. We learn that they hosted Burt and Susan’s wedding and reception. The way Susan describes the Stone’s home, it must be a mansion. For the first time, I felt bitter that Wendy and I are denied our own wedding. No gay rights in Iowa. Maybe once the rest of the world wakes up.
We eat at Chassen’s, a famous restaurant nearby. Dorothy recommends we have their chili, saying it is Elizabeth Taylor’s favorite. Everyone but Burt orders it. He has steak, claiming he needs leftovers for his dog, Winston, who is alone at the hotel. The restaurant decor is extremely fancy. Eating chili makes it less formal.
“I want to make a toast to Tim,” Edgar announces, raising his wine glass. “To the boy who made us all his parents, though little did he listen to what we told him.”
We all raise our glasses. “To Tim.”
“He left us too soon,” Burt adds.
Wendy grabs my hand and squeezes, under the table.
Standing on the church steps, I enjoy the warm California sun, basking in the uplifting feelings from the funeral. Jack out-did himself. Suddenly the mood changes with the roar of squealing tires and a fishtailing convertible hurtling toward us. I am too shocked to react as Tim drives by in the back seat of a late ’50’s Ford and waves to all the mourners at the church. It takes me a moment to realize it is a Hollywood special effects trick. Burt is incensed, seeing his son’s body treated with disrespect. I have to hold him back from chasing after the fleeing car.
“That’s not Tim,” I argue, “Just the shell of his body.”
“I don’t care. Those kids have no right mocking us.”
The dog, Winston, whines at Burt’s emotional outburst. Maybe he recognized Tim as he drove past. Burt calms the dog, calming himself as well. He marches to the young priest who officiated the funeral.
“What are you going to do about all this. The police need to be notified.”
“It looks like they are headed to the club where the bands have planned a celebration. Let’s get over there and check before getting the police involved. I’m so sorry a few people have ruined our ceremony.”
“Humph,” Burt turns away. He does not like being mollified.
Wendy and Susan convince him to wait and see if Tim’s body returns.
At the Troubador, we are informed that the body had been there but is now parading around Hollywood – not too reassuring. Burt is incensed again. There is nothing else to do but wait for its return. Jack assures him that everything will turn out well. His assurances are not well received. I get the impression that Jack isn’t Burt’s favorite of Tim’s boyfriends.
Wendy remains shook up. She and Susan are double-teaming Burt. So ironic. We all sit at a club table. A young man takes our drink orders. The alcohol works its charm. We settle down.
“We have no idea what Tim’s life was like in LA. Maybe this is normal California behavior,” I suggest.
The young man who was serving us drinks overhears my comment.
“I’ve known Tim since he first started coming to Hollywood, three years ago.”
He introduces himself as Tony, the club’s assistant manager.
“Are all his friends this rowdy?” I ask.
“Just recently, since he discovered Punk.”
“I know what a punk is,” Burt indignantly interrupts. “Tim has always stood up for his friends. Punks are cowards and easily misled.”
“Most young people get misled in Hollywood, Mr. Castle,” Tony answers. “Tim was a leader. He even got us to go to mass.”
“Tim seems to have the priests under some spell. He even had me wanting to believe that my dead dog was a ghost in the house. What do you know about Teen Jesus?”
“According to Tim, you have to be young to believe. Tim didn’t talk to us about religion because Doug is too old to believe. I’ll get someone from the bible group to explain it.”
“I’m too old for that, too. What did you mean that Tim was out here when he was 15?”
“His cousin Joey brought him out. Something to do with gangs in the Bronx.”
“Oh, no. Cousin Joey again.”
“Joey lived with Doug until he OD’d last year.”
“I came out and rescued him. He’s working and doing better in Massachusetts.”
“That’s great to hear. But it was Tim who really made a difference. He inspired us. I was a dropout then. Afterward, I turned my life around. I’m assistant manager here and book bands at all the major Hollywood clubs. I’m just a year older than Tim…was.”
“Thanks, Tony. We don’t know how to handle his death. It was so sudden,” I come to his rescue from Burt.
“He never backed down when challenged. It was just a surfing accident. I’m not surprise he went out in dangerous conditions. We didn’t even know that he surfed,” Tony looks at his feet. I get up and hug him. He looks so surprised.
“We all loved him, Tony,” I explain.
“That’s the thing. He made everyone love him as if it was the most natural thing in the world.”
Tony excuses himself, as his boss motions for him.
“Tim always picked up strays,” Burt pronounces.
“Don’t be judgmental, Burt,” I’m amazed to hear Wendy stand up to her ex. “That boy turned his life around once he met Tim. He is so proud that he was Tim’s friend.”
Burt is caught off guard. “I’m still confused about the Church wanting to make him a saint. We did nothing to raise a saint.”
At that, we notice a commotion behind the left side of the stage. Soon Tony appears with another boy carrying Tim. We all let a gasp of shock. Tim’s body had been completely desecrated. His hair is chopped off. He sits there naked. People wrote obscene remarks on his head and body. Worst is the ghoulish grin on his face with his eyes looking in opposite directions. His mouth is screwed up into a teeth-clenching, horrifying rictus. We sit there in shock.
A wave of teenagers sweep into the club, rushing down to the stage. Jack, Hippie and several friends, plus an older man, set up instruments on stage. The curtain is pulled back, revealing a large movie screen. While they set up, Tim’s body is being carried around in front of the stage. The movie starts, projected on the large screen. Tim’s bandmate Robby jumps on stage and starts screaming at the revelers carrying Tim. The body is lifted up and placed in a chair at stage left.
I recognized the movie as Disney’s ‘Fantasia,’ the sequence for ‘Night on Bald Mountain.’ The projectionist become the conductor, leading the five instrumentalists in playing the classical Mussorgsky score. The sound is amplified, swelling and filling the club. The image of Bald Mountain morphs into a black representation of the Devil. As the lost souls in the movie float across the screen, Robby entrances the revelers in front of the stage with his spells and oaths. As the cartoon images descend into hell, the revelers in the club fall to the floor in front of Tim, with Robby prostrate on stage. Just before the Ave Maria portion begins, Hippie stutter-steps across the stage to the mic. He begins singing the hymn. Everyone quiets down.
An old man takes the mic and reads a poem he wrote called ‘Fear and the Monkey.” It seemed portentously appropriate. Wendy whispers in my ear that he is a famous ‘Beat’ poet. Soon the bands are playing, mostly raucous rock, with some more classic rock. We calm down. Burt remains on edge. Tim’s body sits in a chair on stage. A singer sticks a joint in his mouth. Burt is not pleased.
The next band is from Boston, led by David, Tim and Jack’s other roommate. They are a mix of pop and punk, keeping everyone excited. The room gets really hot. The singer goes over to Tim, takes the joint, lights it and passes it to the fans in front of the stage. A near riot erupts, with about twenty boys jumping on stage as the band plays on. Again Tim’s body is snatched from onstage and lifted over the heads of the dancing fans. It falls to the floor but rises up. A conga line forms with the body held in front. As they dance up the aisle toward us, Burt jumps to his feet, ready to attack the desecraters. I jump in front of him, holding out my arms, and yell, “Stop.’ Burt tries to push by me but Wendy and Susan hold him back. Confronted by parents, the boys retreat back toward the stage. A tough looking black-haired girl punches the boy holding the body and retrieves it to the stage.
Burt calms down enough to realize it is a mistake to attack teenagers. The four of us run down to the stage, Winston bounds along beside us. The Boston boys stop playing as Burt and Winston jump up to protect the body. When a rowdy teen tries to confront Burt, Winston stops him with an authoritative bark.
“Max. Max. Where are you?” Jack comes running out with Robby, Michael and Hippie following .
The girls lean down and pet Winston.
“Good boy,” Mary strokes him.
The boys are disappointed that Max is not back, but recognize Winston as his soul mate. They pick up their instruments and play their anthem, ‘Curfew (must not ring tonight).’
“We’re still in our youth
But we have our ken
That these lives are ours
And they don’t belong to them
We’re having fun doing what we like
Then they come around and take away our rights
Makers of trouble
We’re wild and insane
Just because we’re young
We’re the ones to blame
The time has come
They’re telling us to leave
They’re pushing us around
So we gotta leave the streets
The streets are our domain
So they come and give us pain
But what gives you the right
To come blow out my light
But since I’m having fun
You’re gonna make me fight
And I just wanna say
Curfew must not ring tonight’
copyright MIB Songwriter David Delgado
It closes the show. Tony rushes on stage.
“The hearse is parked at the stage door,” he directs us.
We lift Tim’s body. It gives an involuntary wave to the crowd. It is his last hurrah.