I call Dad in the morning. I tell him all about my adventures, except for all the prostitutes on Santa Monica Boulevard. He says it didn’t seem like a funeral with everyone having so much fun.
“The funeral’s today at 1 pm.”
I call Mr. Landis. He’s surprised I’m at Tim’s and have the keys to his car.
“I might need you to drive some of the out-of-towners. If you don’t mind.”
“If they don’t mind riding in the Wreck.”
“Yeah, that’s what Tim called it. I had some pretty crazy adventures driving around with him.”
“That, too. Tim was one adventure after another.”
“Until the last one,” I gulp. I swear not to cry today, Tim’s funeral.
“It’s okay, Trevor. I know you only knew him last weekend, but I know it was special.”
“Yeah. You saw the room they gave us at the Rodeway,” I laugh. “The honeymoon suite.”
“We need to talk.”
“Thanks, Mr. Landis. You’ve been wonderful.”
“You’ll meet Tim’s other friends, some have come a long ways to be here.”
“I’m a little worried about meeting Jack, his boyfriend.”
“Well, you have him in common.”
“Tim said he’s pretty rich and possessive.”
“No need to be jealous now.”
I gulp. “You’re right.”
“The service is at one. You want to come to my house first?”
“I think I’ll hang out with Tim’s friends in Hollywood. They gave me a new name – ‘Country.’”
“I guess that’s a compliment.”
“Better than what they first called me – ‘Faggot’.”
“Okay, Trevor, you don’t have to put up with that.”
“I told ‘em. That’s why they now call me Country.”
“I kinda like them. We played music on the Sunset Strip last night.”
“Welcome to Hollywood.”
“Thanks, Mr. Landis.”
“Call me John.”
“Have you eaten yet, Trevor?”
“It’s okay. I’m on a tight budget.”
Well, meet me at Du-Par’s in the Valley. It was Tim’s favorite place for pancakes.”
My stomach growls. The Oki Dog and Top Tacos are just a memory. My breath is gross.
He gives me directions but it’s Greek to me. I’m not ready to drive on the freeway. I go to Nicky & Alice’s room and knock softly.
A sleepy voice yells, “Go away.” But soon Alice opens the door.
“What do you want?
“I have to meet Tim’s boss at Du-Par’s in the Valley but the directions are too complicated. Can Nicky drive?”
“If we get free pancakes,” she answers. Kicking Nicky out of bed, we hit the road.
I introduce them to John, who introduces his wife, Debbie. They’re all the same age.
“Tim had this other life we didn’t know much about,” John states.
“You mean being a faggot?” Nicky has no subtlety.
I blush and everyone else laughs at me.
“No. We all knew that. It’s his music friends we didn’t understand. He hired a classical composer for the movie score, as well a crazy punk band to try out for the cast.”
“That was my band, the Weirdos.”
“Oh, yeah. I thought I recognized you.”
We all laugh at John for so transparently lying – more Hollywood education for me.
“We wanna go to the funeral,” Alice claims.
“Well, since Trevor doesn’t know his way around, maybe you can help us get everyone to the church. It’s in Beverly Hills.”
“Beverly Hills, Century City…We know it well. How about Tim’s girlfriend? She should come.”
“Tim has a girlfriend?”
At least I know that. John and Debbie stare at me.
“I knew. We weren’t exclusive.”
“It’s Joan Jett. The only real rocker to go punk,” Alice explains.
“Oh,” John remarks. “I wondered why we hired her to be on the set.”
The pancakes arrive. They are real good. Nicky finishes off what John and Debbie do not eat. Debbie is finding it all highly amusing.
“Is there going to be party after Church?”
“Yeah. The Troubadour is opening up in the afternoon. A band came from Boston, as well as Tim’s old band from Miami.”
“We wanna play,” Nicky demanded. “The Weirdos and the Bags, Alice’s band.”
“That’s a great name,” Debbie smiles at Alice. She’s a costume designer.
Nicky jumps up. “We’ve gotta let everyone know. Joan, the bands. Com’n, Country. The Wreck has rounds to make.”
“Call me at noon. I may need extra transport for out-of-town guests,” John grabs the check. I’m relieved with all of ten bucks to my name.
Nicky drives Alice and me around to let people know about Tim’s celebration. First place we stop is just down the hill from the Whiskey-a-Go-Go. Joan Jett answers the door after we pound on it without stopping.
“Who are you? I don’t sell dope.”
“We met you the night Tim dragged you out of here. He died on Wednesday and there’s a concert at the Troubadour this afternoon. Be there.”
“Fuck. I just started to like that slut.”
“Well, maybe you’ll play, too.”
“The Runaways are toast.”
“Good. We’ll back you up as the Runaways 2.”
“Wait. I’ll get my guitar.”
It takes her all of five minutes to do her makeup, dress and load her guitar in the Wreck’s trunk. I move into the back seat. She jumped in beside me.
“Who are you?” she asks me.
“Trevor. I’m Tim’s boyfriend from Oregon. They call me Country.”
“That’s interesting, Country. I’m Tim’s girlfriend. His only girlfriend.”
“You know he has many boyfriends.”
“I knew that. It didn’t matter.”
“You like girls, too?”
“I don’t know. Tim’s the only person I’ve had sex with.”
She smiles and puts her hand down my pants. I jump but she had a firm grip on my dick.
“You like taking it up the butt, Country?”
I get bright red but my dick starts getting hard.
“You’ll do. You can comfort me for the loss of our boyfriend.” She lets go and puts an arm around me. I know Tim would approve. I put my arm around her waist. She smiles for about a second.
We drive around and get the word out. It’s close to noon, so Nicky stops at a pay phone for me to call Mr. Landis. He suggests we go to the church in case the Wreck is needed to pick up anyone. When we arrive Tony and Jimmy are outside.
“Hi, Joan. I see you met Country.”
“Yeah. We’re commiserating the loss of our boyfriend together. I plan on finding out what Tim taught him about love-making.”
“Way to go Trevor.” I’m happy to have my name back. He drags me over to a bedraggled group of teens, hanging out on the church steps, looking uncomfortable and unsure about going in. One boy is resplendent in a white suit.
Tony goes up to him. “You look great. You saying something about Tim at the service, Jack?”
He’s Tim’s boyfriend and roommate at Harvard.
Joan runs over and gives him a big kiss. I guess she really was Tim’s girlfriend.
“Come meet Tim’s Oregon boyfriend,” Joan can’t help herself from starting drama.
I put my best foot forward. “Hi, Jack. I’m Trevor. Tim told me all about you. He really loves you.” I forget that he is dead. I’m such the idiot.
Jack seems distracted, maybe because of the eulogy.
“How do you know Tim?”
“I work on the movie up in Oregon. We really just met.” I turn red.
“Let’s find Tim’s Hollywood boyfriend. He’s real old.” Joan is on a roll.
She runs over to a nicely dressed middle-aged man standing by himself.
“Are you Tim’s boyfriend?” she asks.
“Are you the girlfriend I spoke with on the phone?”
“Here he is,” Joan waves us over.
“Hi,” I speak first. “We talked on the phone last weekend.”
“Yup. This here’s Jack, Tim’s roommate and boyfriend at Harvard.”
“We’ve met,” Jake admits. Jack looks distressed.
Tony and Jimmy are joined by the Miami band laughing and pointing at us. It is awkward but all four of us smile at each other. No sense fighting over a dead body. Maybe my country ways are too simple but I feel connected with the other three, all of whom I just met.
“This is perfect,” a tall scrawny long-haired blond guy states. “My name’s Rockets. We need you to help with our own ceremony once the church service is over. Cause y’all fucked Tim I can use your psychic connection with him to bring him back.”
My first encounter with rock n roll devil worship. I just stare. A dark-haired friend of his pulls ‘Rockets’ away,
“Don’t be expecting everyone to follow your satanic practices. Remember where you are, on the steps of a church,” the dark-haired boy says.
He winks at me, perhaps noticing my wild-eyed staring at ‘Rockets.’ The two of them run off to discuss whatever devil worshipers discuss. I feel I should call Dad for spiritual guidance, but I already called earlier that morning. Jack leaves to go into the church, so I follow him. At the least we have Tim in common. I sit with him while he goes over his notes for the eulogy. Finally, he turns to me.
“You just met Tim? Did he use his Teen Jesus trick on you?”
“We didn’t really talk about Jesus, just that we had both been choir boys in high school.”
“He wasn’t all that innocent.”
“I’m Baptist. He said his sister and second mom are also. He told me you lived with him in Iowa until some crazed Baptists tried to kill you with a snake ritual. Our church is not like that.”
“So you bonded over choir?”
I turn red. “I rode on his lap in Mr. Landis’s sports car. He got excited, you know in that way. I had never felt that way myself. It was a mutual attraction.”
Jack laughs. “I crushed on Tim all through junior year English. I was even his understudy for Shakespeare’s ‘Midsummer’s Night Dream.’ He changed roles and paid attention to me for the first time. I couldn’t help myself.”
“That’s how I felt. I went crazy feeling his dick on my butt.”
“I ended up in his bed that night. I had a wet dream. In the morning I thought the dream was real. Tim had done nothing. When I said I loved him, he said he’d try to love me back. It was crazy. Everyone in school knew.”
“Yeah. All my frat brothers can tell. They ribbed me but said it was nice that I had someone. They were the ones who told me that Tim had died. They were really cool about it.”
“I can’t believe he’s dead. Part of me wants to breakdown and cry. I know Tim would punch and tell me to be a man. It’s like I can’t be gay about it.”
We both laugh at the two meanings of gay. I put my arm around him. We both sob just once. Smiling we know we have each other’s back. We sit back. The choir begins their pre-service performance. It is five boys and one girl, all young teens. They are also playing electric guitar, Pink Floyd. The song is ‘Wish You Were Here.”
It hits me in the heart. The tears flow. Jack looks distressed.
“Last time they did that song in church, a miracle occurred, golden snowflakes fell on the parishioners,” Jack tells me.
We aren’t the only ones wishing for another miracle. As the kids play, a feeling of suspense grows. At the end, a collective sigh shows our disappointment. Used to Baptist claims that the slightest sign is a miracle from God, I’m not as disappointed as the mostly Catholic audience is praying for a real miracle.
The service proceeds. Soon it’s time for Jack to do his eulogy. I squeeze his hand as he stands. He prefaces it with a passage from the St John the Evangelist Gospel. John is my favorite, always more poetic and mystical, although Mark gives him a run for his money. Jack relates the story of Jesus as a shepherd. It seems that he is saying Tim is the shepherd to outsiders like all the lost youth. I am impressed. He found a passage that rings so true about Tim. After the Bible passage, his eulogy makes the case for Tim being an innocent who sees the good in everyone. It is okay. After finishing, he comes and sits with me again, waving to his family, including two who are old enough to be his grandparents. I like that his family supports him, as if being gay is normal.
“Your whole family, even grandparents, support your love for Tim.”
“The old folks are actually my parents. I’m their youngest. The normal couple is Tim’s parents and the two women are Tim’s two mommies.”
At the end of the service a final viewing of the body is allowed. I’m one of the first to come up to the casket. When I see the tear on Tim’s cheek, I gasp. Other young people run up, causing a scene. The officiating priest attempts to calm everyone down. Jack whispers to him and he wipes the tear away.
“That was Jack’s tear. He placed it on Tim’s cheek,” Father Luke explains. The consternation remains as the viewing continues. I did not mean to cause concern.
With the viewing done, the coffin is shut and wheeled out to the waiting hearse. It pulls away, but I notice it only goes as far as the parish house driveway.
A crowd of mostly teenaged boys is milling in front. Nicky and Alice come over.
Where’d you go, Country?” he asks.
“I sat with Jack, up front. He gave the eulogy.”
“Did you understand what he said?”
“Something about Tim seeing the best in everyone, sinner or saint.”
“Thanks, College boy. Now you need to help us kidnap Tim’s body. We have plans before they stick it in the ground.”
“I ain’t gonna take part in no devil worship.” I stand my ground.
He laughs. “Nobody believes that stuff. Just that crazy pothead who calls himself Rockets. It’s all part of the celebration that ends up at the Troubadour. I need you to drive after we grab the body out of the hearse. Tim ain’t missin’ his own celebration.”
“What have you been smoking?”
“I hate pot but zombies and dead bodies are frequent images in my band, the Weirdos’, songs.”
I cannot argue with that logic. If we get caught I can claim temporary insanity due to my grief over Tim’s untimely death. Nicky throws me the keys to the Wreck and tells me to drive it to the parish house. I say a short prayer, for my own sanity’s sake.
All the misfits are waiting beside the hearse. The long-haired bass player from Miami comes over to speak with me.
“I hear yer a Baptist like me,” he smiles.
“You must be Hippie. My daddy’s a preacher.”
“What’s he think about you and Tim?”
“Well, he got the deacons to pay my airfare here. When I told him I love Tim, he warned me against feeling too strongly about anything.”
“Anything but Jesus.”
“So I can count on you to stifle Robby’s need to invoke the devil?”
“You mean Rockets?”
“Yeah. His latest twist. We call it the Robby magic mean show.”
Finally, someone I can relate to. I smile.
“Oh,” he looks startled. “I’m married with a baby.”
“Congratulations.” I guess my reputation as gay means I need to edit my friendliness. Since I have had a boyfriend, maybe I can work on having friends now.
Suddenly Nicky, Alice, Rockets and Michael appear, carrying Tim’s dead body. They stuff him into the back seat, sitting him up and buckling him into the seat belt. Everyone jumps in. Nicky and Alice are in front with me. Rockets sits next to Tim’s body. Hippie and Michael next to Rockets.
“Where to?” I ask.
“Just drive,” Nicky orders. I spin the wheels backing out of the parish driveway and we squeal away, laying rubber as I shift into drive. I’m slightly out of control as we fishtail down Holloway Drive. Everyone, but Tim, whoops and hollers. Rockets is waving Tim’s arm at everyone standing in front of the Church. Father Luke looks quite distressed. Jack yells and comes running after us. I slam on the brakes as he dives into the back seat, pushing Tim’s body into the middle. Convertibles rule.
“Do you really know how to drive?” Nicky admonishes me.
“I’m just learning how to drive the dead,” I respond. Everyone laughs. This is by far my favorite funeral.
The first stop is the Troubadour. Jack tells me to park in the back where he bangs on the stage door and soon all the musicians come running out.
“Tim’s in the Wreck,” someone yells. Rockets keeps waving Tim’s right arm at everyone as they exit the Troubadour. Tommy must be smoking weed because he swears Tim has been brought back to life.
“That’s for later,” Rockets promises. Tommy gives him a mean look once he realizes he is being tricked. I don’t think he likes Rockets much. He comes over and introduces himself to me.
“Who are you?” he asks.
“Trevor, but everyone’s bin callin’ me Country. I’m from Oregon.”
“Howdcha git old Huck’s body away from the Church?”
“Ask Nicky. I’s jist the driver.”
“Jist like in the book – Huck and Tom at their own funeral.”
“Howdcha know Tim and whycha call ‘im Huck?
“We runs away from juvie tagether and spent four months livin’ large in the Everglades. Stick around tonight fer when I tells my ‘Gatorsaurus story.”
“Yer in the ‘Bobby McGee Song’.” I pull out my harmonica and blow some blues.
“How y’all know that one.”
“Tim and me made our own version,” as I sing along with the harmonica.
‘Busted flat in Oregon, waitin’ fer a ride
When I’s feelin’ nearly faded as my jeans
Tim he flagged a diesel down
Jist afore a rain
Rode us all the way to Los Angeles.”
“Hey, That there’s Huck’s and my song.”
“I guess we share ‘im now.”
“Didcha really love ‘im?”
“More than I ever knew.”
“Yeah, Guess we both lost ‘im.”
“Not yet, as I grab Tim’s arms and wrapped them around the two of us.”
Tommy has a big grin on as the tears roll down our cheeks. I promised not to cry but cannot help it. The two of us sit there hugging a dead body with one arm and each other with the other arm.
“Hey, Tommy. Give it up. He’s my boyfriend,” the dark-haired rocker chick pulls us off Tim.
She pulls out her makeup kit and promptly rubs away the rouge and foundation that the mortuary used to make Tim look normal. She applies heavy black mascara around his eyes. Then she writes ‘FUCK ME’ on his forehead.”
I am shocked when she proceeds to kiss him passionately. It makes me jealous. When she’s done, I kiss him myself. I feel the devil has possessed me. Tommy whoops and tries to push me aside. He is not to be denied until he looks at Tim’s face. His eyes are open and his smile, so artfully sculpted by the mortician, has reverted to a macabre teeth-clenching, lecherous grin. Tommy screams. One look and everyone thinks Tim has come back to life. It only takes another second to realize he has reverted to the expression he wore when he died in the surf.
Nicky gets the keys. He drives off with about ten riders, including Dead Tim, who continues to wave at passersby. Tony follows in his Datsun with about six punks jammed inside. I need a break from this carnival of the macabre and go inside the Troubadour.
Joan has the other girls working on a song for their performance later. Tommy introduces me to a huge football jock whom he calls ‘Gator and proceeds to relate the legend of ‘Gatorsaurus he plans to recite at the performance. ‘Gator is a cut-up, reenacting the exploits of the alligator on his hands and knees, biting Tommy on the leg and eventually throwing him up in the air. I take out my harmonica and provide music to back up Tommy’s tale spinning.
We all laugh, good ol’ country boys, one from Florida, one from Iowa, and me from Oregon. I am over my squeamishness from kissing Tim’s dead body. Tommy says he will play guitar while spinning out the ‘Gatorsaurus tale if I play harmonica alongside him. I am really pleased. ‘Gator says he can play drums, promising not to get too carried away. I can tell he has a big crush on Tommy. Tommy whispers to me that ‘Gator is totally straight but was confused by his feelings for Tim when they were best friends in high school. He decided he wanted to be gay, too.
“He just don’t understand why his dick don’t act that way.” Tommy giggles.
“So, you’re gay.”
“Jist fer Tim.”
“I ain’t bin with no one but Tim. It’s confusin’.”
“You’ve gotta git out more.” The wisdom of a sixteen-year-old. “When’s I first was with Tim, all he had to do was smile at me and I got off. It took me a year to learn how to control my dick.”
“How old was ya then.”
“Fourteen. Tim rescued me from juvie.”
“Tim was a molester?”
“No way. I chased him. He held me off, which was why my dick was so twitchy. We was alone in the Everglades for four months. After a few really exciting moments, we just settled into beating each other off. We was like brothers.”
“Yeah. We had the night of the Panther. He kept teasing me with the tip of his dick and switching whenever I got close while we rolled around in the dirt. When I finally came, his dick slipped all the way inside me and went off like a roman candle. There was a panther watching us. It started coming at night while we sang together around the fire.”
I am rock hard just imagining it. Tommy notices and flicks it with a forefinger. It hurts like hell and goes down.
“Don’t be getting’ no ideas.” He laughs at my discomfort. “There’s plenty of gay boys around. I toldcha I only switch-hit fer Tim, and he’s dead.”
“Rockets said he’s gonna raise Tim from the dead.”
“Stay away from that boy. He’s real evil. He ain’t even gay but will pretend to be in order to humiliate you”
My head is spinning. Hollywood is too complicated for me. I ask Tony if I can use the phone to call long distance. I need Dad’s advice.
“How was the funeral, Trev. Did it seem strange, a Catholic service?”
“That went fine. Tim’s friend Jack did a reading from the Gospel according to St John. He compared Tim to a shepherd and us to his flock. The Catholics have been really nice.”
“You sound upset, son. Is everything okay?”
“It’s gotten out-of-control. The Catholics plan a beatification ceremony tomorrow, but some of Tim’s friends have stolen his body and are driving it around in the back of Tim’s convertible.”
“Are they devil-worshippers?”
“One boy is. My friends make fun of him and tell me to stay away from him.”
“Good boy, Trevor. I think you should come home as soon as possible.”
“I have to be back by tomorrow night. I’ve been asked to play harmonica to ‘Crocodile Rock,’ as part of tonight’s celebration. I’ve been playing a lot. It’s fun. Most everyone is real nice.”
“Is that a song by Pat Boone from the 50’s?”
“No, Dad. That was ‘See You Later Alligator. In a While Crocodile.”
“Oh, yeah. I always liked Pat Boone.”
“Well, I’m playing acoustically while my friend Tommy tells his story of fighting a big alligator with Tim in the Everglades.”
“Your friend seemed to attract trouble.”
“Yeah. It’s why he’s dead. It’s so sad.”
“Why is the Catholic Church planning on making him a saint?”
“He got them to set up youth shelters in New York City after several miracles occurred when he played music.”
“You know that God creates miracles, not humans.”
“You call us as soon as you get back.”
“I’ll call in the morning before I leave.”
“You’re good boy, son. Don’t disappoint us.”
“Have I ever?”
“Keep it that way.”
“Say hi to Mom for me.”