“Where ya been, Trev?” my roommate Bill asks as I return to our dorm room around noon. “Out catting around with the frat boys?”
What he means is why haven’t I slept in my bed for two nights in a row.
“Right,” he knows better than that. We’ve been living together for four months. I have yet to shock anyone with that kind of behavior.
“Want to eat?” I ask.
“Sure,” he decides.
Bill generally regards me as the dull son of a preacher man. Not that he is prone to risk taking and adventure seeking himself. We attended freshman mixers together. His futile attempts to set me up with the girl friends of his own prospects proves I need to ‘up my game.’ At least he hasn’t asked me to find other accommodations due to a need for overnight ‘privacy.’ His ‘game’ is a work in progress. I’m still a non-starter. Otherwise we are well matched and comfortable with each other. I invited him to Astoria for Thanksgiving. He proved a hit with my folks, happy that I’ve made a friend. My joining the Phi Psi frat is a step in the right direction in Bill’s mind. I offer to sponsor him there. He’s thinking it over. Hazing is ‘not his thing.’
“I was out scouting locations with a Hollywood movie crew. They agreed to film at the defunct frat next to Phi Psi. We’re all going to be extras. You need to join. Maybe you’ll get discovered,” I laugh.
“You’re already working for them?”
“Just helping them out. I took them to Dexter Lake in Springfield. They plan to film at that old bar out there.”
“What’s that mean?”
“Being famous and all. Acting like yer somethin’ yer not.”
We laugh. I do feel special, though. And Tim is so sexy. I feel myself getting hard. It feels like junior high all over again.
“You’ll havta share your makeup with me.”
“Now way, Jose.” Bill is from east of Spokane and grew up on a ranch. He never expresses opinionated feelings about anyone but is 100% straight prime western beef.
We have two classes together. He took class notes and has the assignments for me. I sigh and realize I’ve come back to earth. Just thinking about Tim perks me up.
“Yeah. I really like the Hollywood guys.”
“What’s the movie about?”
“I don’t know the plot, but it’s about a frat where all the guys are goofballs.”
“Just like Phi Psi.”
We laugh. He goes off while I try to catch up on my missed assignments. I finally realize I’m not concentrating and close the books. Time to get hazed.
My fraternity brothers unmercifully raze me about my ‘friendship’ with Tim. They claim I had gone ‘Hollywood’ on them. Of course, they are falling all over themselves to snag roles as extras when the movie crew returns. I promise to put in a good word for them if they stop teasing me about Tim. I’m surprised that no one calls me out for my full-on crush. I maintain that I’m as anxious as everyone to be hired on, once the movie crew returns. I can’t help myself from smiling foolishly anytime we talk about the movie. I’m unable to mask my glee every time Tim’s name comes up.
“Trevor’s got a crush,” becomes the standard jibe whenever I can’t help myself from grinning like an idiot. They all seem pleased that I’m so happy. It flies in the face of my stereotyping frat boys as dedicated homophobes. I relax and don’t try to hide my feelings. I figure the truth is bound to come out. I’m amazed that it doesn’t bother me that they know I’m gay. That’s when realize I fully accept it myself. I know it will be another matter with my Baptist parents. My brother will be so pleased to be the good son for once. There is little doubt about his sexuality, given his choice of wanton girlfriends.
“You seem especially happy to be hazed today.”
“Just a happy pledge. Do I need to fake hating the crap you guys put us through?”
“Naw, but maybe I need to stop acting mean and get to know you better.”
“We saw a different you this weekend,” he goes on. “Now it’s hard to treat you like a kid. Those Hollywood people really like you.”
“My roommate, Bill, says I’m goin’ all Hollywood on him.”
“I never knew you played harmonica and sang before. Did you take lessons?”
“Just church choir.”
“No, Mr. Landis is straight and already married. Tim’s the music coordinator.”
“He’s so young.”
“He’s my age, a freshman at Harvard.”
“That why you’re so tight.”
“We really hit it off. But he seems so much more worldly than me.”
“Too much time in the choir?”
“Tim was in church choir last year. His band also played Easter services in New York.”
“Now he’s in Hollywood. Did the serpent tempt him with the fruit of knowledge?”
“His boyfriend was killed by an abusive older brother. He’s so much more mature than me.”
“So, he is gay?”
“He’s super-gay, with boyfriends and girlfriends. He can’t stop loving just one person at a time.”
“That is so Hollywood. Are you being careful?”
“I don’t wanna pry,” Cameron admits, “but everyone noticed how taken you are with him.”
I blush, feeling Cameron is really being a good big brother.
“You think Tim will just forget about me?” I ask for his advice.
“I have no idea, but it doesn’t sound like he’s still a choir boy.”
“Calm down and take a breath,” Cameron advises. “He’ll be back next month. I’m no expert on gay boys. Maybe you should try having a girlfriend or go to the Gay Student Group or just pray about it. God, I’m awful at this.”
“No, Cameron. This is great. My real brother is an asshole. I’m glad you care.”
Tim asked me if I will tell my fraternity brothers. I guess I’m taking the go slow approach. I go over to the abandoned frat next door, reminiscing about being there with Tim. I take out my harmonica and blow the ‘Bobby McGee’ blues. Tim had sung his version of it, so I make up my own, rhapsodizing about being on the road with Tim. When I get to the line about needing just one more night with ‘Bobby’s body next to mine,’ the tears flow.
“He’s a goner,” my brothers have been listening to me. “Admit it.”
“Who’s Bobby?” someone asks.
“I don’t know. Janis Joplin?” Cameron suggests. “She died from an overdose.”
I realize he’s covering up for me.
“Naw. I ain’t gonna hide it. I really like Tim,” I out myself.
“I think it’s cool. They’re both choir boys,” Cameron exposes me.
“Oh, the shame.”
Everyone breaks out laughing. They grab me and drag me back inside the House and force me to get drunk for the first time ever. They are perfect gentlemen, carrying me back to my dorm room. Bill is stunned that I’m becoming such a reprobate. In the morning, he announces that ‘we have to talk.’ It’s too much for me, but luckily, there’s a waste basket nearby to barf into. My reputation has taken a total turn for the worst. Bill shakes his head and tells me to go back to bed. Later he returns with crackers and ginger ale. I’m already feeling better. At least getting drunk is nothing new for Cowboy Bill.
On Thursday, I’m fine and attend my classes. Bill refrains from reminding me what a degenerate I’ve become. We sit silently together in class. I’m given extra hazing chores at Phi Psi for having missed the previous day. My idiot/happy mood has returned. I’m whistling while I work.
Cameron rushes into the kitchen, looking startled and gloomy.
“Sit down, Trevor,” Peter, the President, orders.
“What? I only missed one day and you guys got me drunk,” I become defensive, remaining on my feet.
Pete stands up and puts his hand on my shoulder. Cameron put a hand on the other side. The others just look away.
I wake up laying on a couch on the first floor, surrounded by everyone in the frat.
“Thank god. You’re awake,” Peter sounds distressed but relieved I’m conscious.
“What happened?” I’m groggy, unsure why everyone surrounds me.
Slowly I remember. The tears start. I’m able to suppress the sobs. How could this happen? Tim is dead? He can’t be. He’s so strong. He can do anything. He seemed accident-proof.
“That director, Landis, said to call him,” Peter relays the message. “He sound pretty shook up himself. We’re all sorry, Trevor.”
It’s just weird to me. All these straight guys treating me like I’ve lost my girlfriend. Then I throw up. They scatter.
Mr. Landis is so nice on the phone. He really loved Tim, just not the way I did. He even offers to pay my way to the funeral service which is in two days. I’m too embarrassed to accept but promise I’ll attend. He gives me the phone number to Tim’s roommates, Tony and Jimmy. I didn’t know he had roommates. I ask for Jake’s number as well. Mr. Landis has met Jake, who is composing the movie soundtrack. He doesn’t have his phone number. I tell him we called him from the Rodeway Inn on Sunday night. He promises to let me know when he checks the bill. He’s surprised I know about Jake. I really want to connect with Jake. We share the same love for Tim.
“Jake was with Tim when he died. They had gone to the beach together,” Mr. Landis says.
“The service will be at St. Viktor Catholic Church in Beverly Hills.”
“Wow,” I think it must be pretty fancy. I’ll have to get permission from Dad to attend a Catholic church. I wonder if I could get him to lend me the airfare. That brings up the issue of coming out to him. I laugh, then sniffle, thinking how much Tim affected me. He wanted me to be open and proud. Without thinking it through I dial home.
“Hi, Mom. I need to get Dad’s permission for something. Is he there?”
“You sound down. Is everything okay?”
“It’s been a tough day. I have to go to a funeral on Saturday.”
“Oh, honey. Is it one of your fraternity brothers? I’m so sorry.”
“He’s Catholic. I need Dad’s permission to attend their service.”
“I’m sure he’ll agree. It’s not like it used to be when Baptists were not welcome.”
“Is he there?”
“I’ll put him on the line. Are you okay?”
“You are so kind, son. But don’t let your feelings get in the way of your studies.”
Dad comes on the line.
“What’s wrong, Trev. Mom looks upset.”
“My very best friend drowned yesterday. I really loved him. I need to go to the funeral.”
“Of course, you do. Is it in Eugene?”
“The service is in LA. It’s a Catholic service.”
“Don’t worry about that. Catholics are more understanding now. But it’s so far away. Do you really have to go?”
“I really loved him. I’ve never felt that way before.” I actually say it.
“Well, son, I’m sure you really cared, but to go to LA may be too much.”
“Calm down. What about school?”
“It’s over the weekend. I’ll leave on Friday and be back for class on Monday. I’ll pay you back for the airfare.” The tears are flowing. I begin to gulp.
“Trevor. You know we cannot afford to send you flying around the country. You’ve never been impetuous. Is it really necessary?”
“I wouldn’t ask for anything if it wasn’t important. I really loved him, Dad. I can’t believe he’s dead.”
The folks are silent on their end of the line.
“Please,” I beg.
“I’ll speak with the Church deacons. You have been an important part of our youth ministry. I’ll ask them to contribute. But what about other expenses. LA is expensive. Hotels must be a fifty dollars.”
“His roommates are going to let me stay with them. It’s just the airfare I need.”
“I’ll let you know tomorrow. If they approve, I’ll book your flights. But I’m worried about you, son. Have you been attending church?”
“I’ll go to the campus ministry tonight. Thank you for supporting me, Dad. I’m doing well.”
“Of course. How’s Bill? Was he friends with this boy?”
“No. I knew him at the fraternity. Bill’s fine.”
“Give him our best. Call me tomorrow after class.”
“Yes, Dad. I love you both.”
Once I hang up, Cameron comes into the phone room. “Everything okay?” he’s anxious.
Dad made my airline reservations for Friday. I call the number Tim had given me.
“What?” a gruff voice answers the phone.
“Are you Tony or Jimmy?” I tentatively ask.
“Who are they?”
“Tim’s roommates?” I nervously answer.
“Tim lives alone here, unless you count those gangbangers from LaMirada. And Tim’s dead, if you didn’t know.”
“I’m coming to the funeral. I live in Oregon.”
“Shit. I suppose you need to stay here.”
“Mr. Landis told me to call.”
“Who’s he?” The guy is all questions.
“Tim’s boss at the movie studio?”
“Oh, yeah. I suppose you need to be picked up at LAX.”
“Can you? I don’t have much money.”
“Join the crowd.” We both laugh. “My name’s Nicky. I live down the hall with my girlfriend.”
“Oh.” It seems important that I understand that he’s straight. Hollywood.
I give him my flight information. He agrees to pick me up outside Western Airlines baggage claim.
“Look for the Wreck. It’s a convertible.”
In a couple of hours, I’m standing at the curb, trying to find the Wreck. All the cars in LA are shiny and new. I have no trouble picking out the Wreck. I wave at the strange-looking couple driving it. They wear brightly colored clothes covered with buttons and other paraphernalia, including chains.
“You Trevor?” Nicky asks. I nod.
“Hi. I’m Alice. Jump in,” a dark-haired Hispanic girl moves over so I can ride in the front with them. It was good I had so little money to steal. They look like gang members.
Welcome to LA.
Nicky drives me to the apartment. He drives like a maniac. His girlfriend squeals and holds onto him. I just shut my eyes and hold onto the door handle. The Wreck was a pre-1964 gas guzzler – not equipped with seat belts. Once I open my eyes, the two of them laugh at me.
“Country boy, huh?” Alice, Nicky’s girlfriend, observed. “First time in the city?”
“Nah. We drive up to Portland all the time.” Actually I had driven there only once and swore I’d never do it again. Already I was upping my game, just like Bill had said, ‘going all Hollywood.” I laugh.
“Good. You’ve relaxed. Only way to see LA,” Alice comments.
“They’re just kids from the ‘burbs,” Alice argues.
“Well, they’re going back to the ‘burbs so old Country here has a place to say. I just needed an excuse to kick ‘em out.” Nicky turns to me. “You are Tim’s new boyfriend, right?”
“Don’t need to be ashamed. We knew Tim was a teenage faggot,” Alice comes to my rescue.
“Just look angry that they’re there. I’ll kick ‘em out. Least ya don’t look like a faggot, all girly and such.”
I shake my head. I had hoped to avoid Hollywood melodrama. What did I expect.
There were five of them sprawled on the floor and couch of a small apartment. Nicky rousts them. They just stare at me. I try to look tough. They finally give up and leave. The place is a mess. One guy with heavy makeup around his eyes, rushes around trying to pick up their garbage. Nicky pushes him out the door.
“Ready to eat?” he asks.
We drive to Top Taco. The counterman looks at me and I don’t have to pay.
“Now don’t be letting anyone take advantage of you, Country.” Top Jimmy advises. I guess I have a new name.
Nicky decides to give me a tour of the Sunset Strip and Hollywood Boulevard.
“Stay away from Santa Monica, unless ya got backup,” he advises.
“More gangsters like those you rousted from Tim’s room?”
“Oh,” I murmur, unsure if that’s worse than gang banging.
“You in a band, Nicky?” I ask.
They both laugh. “What about me?” Alice looks insulted. “No girls in bands up in Or-e-gone?”
“Heck. I love girl singers.” To prove my point, I pull out my harmonica and blew some Bobby McGee blues.
They laugh. “Just like Tim, ready to perform at the slightest encouragement,” Alice remarks.
“Don’t be getting’ all girly on us, faggot,” Nicky orders.
“Please stop callin’ me that. It ain’t a nice word,” I demand.
They look shocked.
“What do ya wanna be called?”
“Country’s okay.” At least it was not a slur in my mind.
“Okay, Country. But you better learn some rock n roll blues, if ya want us to listen. Folk blues don’t cut it anymore.”
Nicky smiles and starts banging a beat on the Wreck’s dashboard. Alice wails the lyrics. A couple of kids come up and give us a hand. The store manager comes out and took photos. I figure we’re in trouble.
“Just keepin’ it real?” Nicky asks. “Real People at Tower?”
The manager gives us a thumbs up and snaps our picture playing for three fans. It feels good to play with Nicky and Alice, much like we felt at the end of choir practices.
“Ya got other songs you play on that harp?” Nicky asks.
“Just gospel. I figure ya don’t much cotton to that.”
We walk around the corner to the Whiskey-A-Go-Go, hanging out in front with an assorted bunch of rock misfits. I’d never heard of that night’s headlining band.
“My band used to play here but they pay so little, we boycott the Whiskey,” Nicky claims.
“What’s your band’s name?” I ask.
“The Weirdos. I’m the drummer, Country.”
“Okay, Weirdo,” I figured that’s worse than being Country. Who knew anyone would call themselves weirdos.
“I’m in the Bags,” Alice crows.
“Okay, Baglady,” I josh.
She gives me a stern look and punches my arm. I guess that makes us bro’s. “I guess we’re the weird country bagladies,” I josh.
“We’ll perform later at Oki Dog?” Nicky decides.
I realize that Tim’s need to perform wherever and whenever is typical of Hollywood people. I’ll just go with the flow.
We walk past the Roxy, where Mott, the Hopple, is playing that night. I’ve heard of them. There are more people hanging out front and beside the club in a small parking lot. They’re dressed in tight flared jeans and bodyshirts, with six-inch heels and bouffant hairstyles. They all wore tons of makeup, guys as well as girls. Most have glitter in their hair.
I pull out my harmonica and start in on the Mott the Hopple hit, ‘All the Young Dudes.”
“Hey, that’s the song Tim always played for all the tricks at Oki Dog,” Alice notes.
I gulp and a stream of tears runs down my cheeks. Nicky punches me, and then started pounding the beat on the Roxy walls. Alice jumps in singing the chorus. I catch my breath and continue blowing the glitter anthem.
‘All the young dudes
Carry the news
Carry the news
Now Jimmy looking sweet though he dresses like a queen
He can kick like a mule
It’s a real mean team
We can love
We can love’
Songwriters: DAVID BOWIE
© EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC, TINTORETTO MUSIC
Alice goes back to the beginning and we did the whole song again. The glitter kids surround us and cheer when we’re done. Nicky looks happy at the adulation but embarrassed that his fans seem so gay. An English guy with a bushy curly Afro and dark glasses comes up to us and compliments our harmonica arrangement.
“That’s ‘cause ol’ Country don’t play guitar,” Nicky explains.
“What’s your name?” Alice asks.
“Denny,” he says. We don’t believe him. He escorts us into the club, bypassing the front door. We go upstairs where the band is hanging out with business people. I steal matches that say ‘Rainbow Room, Top of the Rox.’ Nicky says we should sneak away, still nervous about being around so many glitter people.
“We’re younger than them,” I complain, not wanting to leave right away.
We’re met with boo’s and leave quickly. Nicky gives the room the middle finger. I get embarrassed but laugh that I had already performed three times that night. My harmonica isn’t a decent substitute for electric guitar. My roommate Bill predicted it. I’m going ‘all Hollywood.’ I love it.
“Yeah. I almost forgot to miss Tim.”
“Well, this is what it was like with Tim. Always be ready to perform at the drop of a hat.”
“Not just sex, but every moment was an adventure,” then I sniff back my tears.
“Ah, Country. Don’t be sad. We’re havin’ too much fun for tears.” She wipes my tears away.
“Where next?” I ask.
“Let’s get the Wreck and drive to the Troubadour. I heard they’re organizing Tim’s wake for tomorrow.” Nicky decides. “We can hit Oki Dog afterward, so ya can satisfy your performance addiction.”
The Troubadour doorman doesn’t want to let us in, until a young guy comes over and asks how we knew Tim.
“I met him in Oregon last weekend.” It seems so long ago.
“You Trevor? I thought you were going to call us when you got in. How’dcha end up with these punks?”
“I called Tim’s phone number, looking for his roommates, Tony and Jimmy. Nicky answered. They picked me up at the airport. We’ve been cruising nonstop. We performed outside Tower, the Whiskey-A-Go-Go and the Rainbow Room.”
Another teen is listening. “Oh, no. He’s a Tim clone, come to haunt us.”
“We wanna go to the wake,” Nicky knows what he wants.
“The funeral’s at St Viktor tomorrow at one and we’ll all coming back here to celebrate afterward. Tim’s body goes to the Saint Vibiana’s Cathedral downtown, where the Church has other plans for it.”
“Enough with the tears. Tim was crazy and always pulling stunts. He was lucky to live as long as he did. Now he’ll be remembered as a rock star without ever having to go through all the bullshit.”
I guess it makes sense. We don’t go into the Troubadour. I promise Tony and Jimmy to be at the funeral.
“You better. The movie people made us promise to get you there.”
I perk up, knowing I’ll see Mr. Landis and everyone there. Since the wake is at a night club, I suspect I’ll get more opportunities to blow my harmonica. Maybe I can write my and Tim’s story into ‘Bobby McGee.’ I decide I like being called ‘Country.’
“Oh, by the way. Ever’one calls me ‘Country’ here,” I tell Jimmy and Tony. Everyone laughs. This sure don’t feel like any funeral I’d ever been to.
Single guys start waving at me. I guess I’ve been staring. I’m too embarrassed to wave back. I remember I had promised to call Dad when I got in. It’s past midnight, too late to wake-up early-to-bed Baptists. Somehow it feels liberating to be violating their rules. My anti-conscience is laughing at me. Everything about Hollywood is a joke. I lay back and fell asleep against Alice’s shoulder.
When I wake up, we’re parked at an outdoor hotdog stand. Boys about my age are standing at the curb, shirtless and wearing tight shorts, and waving at the cars slowly cruising by. My real conscience tells me I’m seeing an inner circle of Hell.
Nicky and Alice walk up, looking disappointed. Maybe normal straights aren’t welcome here. I laugh at the thought that these two punks are normal.
“Whatcha laughin’ about, Country? We just got told we couldn’t perform here tonight.”
“I was thinking that you two are too normal for here.”
They look at each other.
“He’s right,” Alice concludes. “Let’s go home.”
“Aw. We’re ‘sposed to climb the Hollywood sign next.”
“It’ll be there tomorrow. And look at Country. He’s done tuckered out.” She laughs.
Soon they leave me at Tim’s place. I guess it’s mine now. Nicky shows me how to set up the Murphy Bed, just another Hollywood surprise. Once they leave, I stripped off and jumped into the ripe sheets. Tim’s smell envelopes me. I cry myself to sleep. I dream he is holding me. I’m so happy. In the morning, my briefs are filthy. I haven’t brought a change of clothes. I found some of Tim’s sexy underwear. Slipping them on, I feel so fulfilled. I almost have another accident. Maybe I’m learning better control.
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 early on Saturday morning. 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.”
“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.”
“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 were calling 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 introduced 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.
“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 stares 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 arrived. They are real good. Nicky finishes off what John and Debbie didn’t eat. Debbie is finding it all highly amusing.
“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 was 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.
“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.”
“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 put 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.
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 suggested 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.
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.
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.
“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’s 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’ve 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’d 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.
“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.”
“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 knew we have each other’s back. We sit back. The choir begins their pre-service performance. It was five boys and one girl, all young teens. They’re also playing electric guitar, Pink Floyd. The song was ‘Wish You Were Here.”
It hits me in the heart. The tears flow. Jack looks distressed.
We aren’t the only ones wishing for another miracle. As the kids play, a feeling of suspense grew. 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 praying for a real miracle.
The service proceeds. Soon it’s time for Jack to do his eulogy. I squeeze his hands 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 was the shepherd to outsiders like all the lost youth. I’m 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 saw the good in everyone. It’s 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 didn’t 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.”
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 Troubador. 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 can’t argue with that logic. If we get caught I’ll 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.”
“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’ve 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.
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 promised. Tommy gave him a mean look once he realized he had been 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.”
“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 can’t help it. The two of us sit there hugging a dead body with one arm and each other with the other arm.
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 ‘KISS ME’ on his forehead.”
I’m shocked when she proceeds to kiss him passionately. I couldn’t believe 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’s 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 the 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 proceeded 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’m over my squeamishness from kissing Tim’s dead body. Tommy says he’ll play guitar while spinning out the ‘Gatorsaurus tale if I play harmonica alongside him. I am really pleased. ‘Gator says he’ll 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’m rock hard just imagining it. Tommy notices and flicks it with a forefinger. It hurt 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.
“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.”
“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.”