10 Reasons Why – Molly

With the twins happily off with the nuns, Wendy and I checked into the Beverly Wilshire.  John Boy’s parents had made the arrangements and offered to pay the bill. They said they wanted everyone to stay at the same place to keep the logistics simple. It was pretty grand. I insisted we pay for ourselves. Their togetherness idea was our problem. I had never met Burt and Susan, his new wife. After working so hard to get Wendy to stand up for herself, I worried she would regress, encountering her domineering ex.  We both were tense about the reunion. It was Susan who broke the ice. She was devastated by Tim’s death, bursting into tears immediately.  Wendy was surprised at how solicitous Burt was, of her and the two of us standing there in tears. He must be changed by his new wife, as Wendy was changed by living with me. We all hugged and any tension was relieved. Edgar and Dorothy approached us and suggested we all go to dinner together. We learned that they had hosted Burt and Susan’s wedding and reception. The way Susan described the Stone’s home, it must be a mansion. For the first time, I felt bitter that Wendy and I were denied our own wedding. No gay rights in Iowa. Maybe once the rest of the world had woken up.

 

We ate at Chassen’s, a famous restaurant nearby.  Dorothy recommended we have their chili, saying it was Elizabeth Taylor’s favorite.  Everyone but Burt ordered it. He had steak, claiming he needed leftovers for his dog, Winston, who had been left alone at the hotel. The restaurant decor was extremely fancy. Eating chili made it less formal.

“I want to make a toast to Tim,” Edgar announced, raising his wine glass. “To the boy who made us all his parents, though little did he do what we told him to do.”

We all raised our glasses. “To Tim.”

“He left us too soon,” Burt added.

Wendy grabbed my hand and squeezed, under the table.

 

Standing on the church steps, I enjoyed the warm California sun, basking in the uplifting feelings from the funeral. Jack had out-done himself. Suddenly the mood changed with the roar of squealing tires and a fishtailing convertible hurtling toward us.  I was too shocked to react as Tim drove by in the back of the convertible and waved to all the mourners at the church.  It took me a second or two to realize it was all a Hollywood special effects trick.  Burt was incensed, seeing his son’s body treated with disrespect. I had to hold him back from chasing after the fleeing car.

“That’s not Tim,” I argued, “Just the shell of his body.”

“I don’t care. Those kids have no right mocking us.”

The dog, Winston, whined at Burt’s emotional outburst.  Maybe he had recognized Tim as he drove past. Burt calmed the dog, calming himself as well. He marched to the young priest who had officiated the funeral.

“What are you going to do about all this. The police need to be notified.”

“It looks like they were 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 turned away. He did not like being mollified.

Wendy and Susan convinced him to wait and see if Tim’s body was returned.

 

At the Troubador, we were informed that the body had been there but was now parading around Hollywood – not too reassuring. Burt was incensed again but there was nothing else to do but wait for its return. Jack assured him that everything would turn out well.  His assurances were not well received. I got the impression that Jack wasn’t Burt’s favorite of Tim’s boyfriends.

Wendy remained shook up. She and Susan were double-teaming Burt. So ironic. We all sat at a club table. A young man who was Doug’s assistant took our drink orders.  The alcohol worked its charm and we settled down.

“We have no idea what Tim’s life was like in LA. Maybe this is normal California behavior,” I suggested.

The young man who was serving us drinks overheard my comment.

“I’ve known Tim since he first started coming to Hollywood, three years ago.”

He introduced himself as Tony, the club’s assistant manager.

“Are all his friends this rowdy?” I asked.

“Just recently, since he discovered Punk.”

“I know what a punk is,” Burt indignantly interrupted.  “Tim has always stood up for his friends. Punks are cowards and easily misled.”

“Most young people get misled in Hollywood, Mr. Castle,” Tony answered. “Tim was a leader. He even got us to go to mass.”

“Tim seemed to have the priest under some spell. He even had me wanting to believe that my dead dog was a ghost in my 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 one of 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 and 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 added.

“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 know that he surfed,” Tony looked at his feet. I got up and hugged him. He looked so surprised.

“We all loved him, Tony,” I explained.

“That’s the thing. He made everyone love him as if it was the most natural thing in the world.”

Tony excused himself, as his boss motioned for him.

“Tim always picked up strays,” Burt pronounced.

“Don’t be judgmental, Burt,” I was 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 was 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 noticed a commotion behind the left side of the stage. Soon Tony appeared with another boy carrying  Tim. We all let a gasp of shock. Tim’s body had been completely desecrated. His hair was chopped off. He sat there naked. People had written obscene remarks on his head and body. Worst was the ghoulish grin on his face with his eyes looking in opposite directions. His mouth was screwed up into a teeth-clenching, horrifying grin. We sat there in shock.

A wave of teenagers swept into the club, rushing down to the stage. Jack, Hippie and several friends, plus an older man, set up instruments on stage. The curtain was pulled back, revealing  a large movie screen. While they set up, Tim’s body was being carried around in front of the stage.  The movie started, projected on the large screen. Tim’s bandmate Robby jumped on stage and started screaming at the revelers carrying Tim. The body was lifted up and placed in a chair at stage left.

I  recognized the movie as Disney’s ‘Fantasia,’ starting at the sequence for ‘Night on Bald Mountain.’ The projectionist became the conductor, leading the five instrumentalists in playing the classical Mussorgsky score. The sound was amplified, swelling and filling the club. The image of Bald Mountain morphed into a black representation  of the Devil.  As the lost souls in the movie floated across the screen, Robby directed the revelers in front of the stage with his spells and oaths. As the cartoon images descended into hell, the revelers in the club fell to the floor in front of Tim, with Robby prostrate on stage. Just as the Ave Maria portion began, Hippie stutter-stepped across the stage to the mic and began singing the hymn. Everyone quieted down.

An old man took the mic and read a poem he had written called ‘Fear and the Monkey.”  It seemed portentously appropriate. Wendy whispered in my ear that he was a famous ‘Beat’ poet. Soon the bands were playing, mostly raucous rock, with some songs more classic rock. We calmed down. Burt remained on edge. Tim’s body was placed in a chair on stage and a band’s singer stuck a joint in his mouth.  Burt was not pleased. The next band was from Boston, led by Tim and Jack’s other roommate. They were a mix of pop and punk, keeping everyone excited. The room got really hot. The singer went over to Tim, took the joint, lit it and passed it to the fans in front of the stage.  A near riot erupted, with about twenty boys jumping on stage as the band played on. Again Tim’s body was snatched and lifted over the heads of the dancing fans.  It fell to the floor and was raised up. A conga line was formed with the body held in front. As they danced up the aisle toward us, Burt jumped to his feet, ready to attack the desecraters. I jumped in front of him, holding out my arms, and yelled, “Stop.’ Burt tried to push by me but Wendy and Susan held him back. Confronted by parents, the boys retreated back toward the stage. A tough looking black-haired girl punched the boy holding the body and retrieved it to the stage.

Burt calmed down enough to realize it was a mistake to attack teenagers. The four of us ran down to the stage, Winston bounding along beside us.  The Boston boys stopped playing as Burt  and Winston jumped up and protected the body. When a rowdy teen tried to confront Burt, Winston stopped him with an authoritative bark.

“Max. Max.  Where are you?” Jack came running out with Robby, Michael and Hippie following .

The girls leaned down and were petting Winston.

“Good boy,” Mary stroked him.

The boys were disappointed that Max was not back, but recognized Winston as a soul mate. They picked up their instruments and played 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

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 closed the show. Tony rushed on stage.

“The hearse is parked at the stage door,” he directed us.

We lifted Tim’s body. He gave an involuntary wave to the crowd.  It was his last hurrah.