Robby remains distracted with our Junior English class, getting all the boys to dress up for the female roles in the Shakespearean drama. Band business becomes more time-consuming for Michael, Hippie and me. I complicate matters by turning the Out-Crowd social status group into a commercial oldies band, specializing in parties for the younger teen crowd. As older musicians (at 16), we have to carry the new band, as the youngsters (John, Dave, Jazz, Jenna, Stu and Mike Jr) learn to play well enough to perform. Michael spends most of his time with the Out-Crowd, helping Jenna harmonize with Stu and Mike Jr. The Jacettes also help with vocals and the dancing. I want to work with John, so I’m teaching him rhythm guitar, hoping some of Jace’s talent is genetic. Jace tries to guide his hands, but John freaks out when he feels someone touching his hands. Jace’s presence makes others feel eerie and spooky. I know if I tell anyone I’m able to see and communicate with Jace, they will chalk it up to my emotionally unstable personality. Even Robby isn’t sure I’m not just projecting. John learns by watching the chords I play and mimicking my fingering. He learns by watching me play. His ear is good enough to tell if he hits the notes properly. He prefers that I mouth the chord changes for him. Needing to be sure, he goes to Spec’s Music and practices songs from sheet music. He isn’t ready to play by ear but it’s cute to see him sitting in the corner at Spec’s playing from the sheet music. Only I can see Jace perched next to him and murmuring affirmation or correction as John plays the songs we know so well. Because we’re a local performing band, Spec’s lets us practice at the store. Soon John has his own junior high groupies who sit around listening to him play and learning new songs. They sing the words softly, encouraging him to sing with them. These are all pop songs, so everyone knows the lyrics and melodies. He’s still living at Stu’s and continues to swim at the University, although he’s at the bottom of the B team. He and Mike double-team Stu when Stu pesters anyone too much. John is busy and staying out of trouble.
I ask him if he’ll ever go live at his mom’s house.
“I’ll never go back there. They killed Jace.”
He only speaks about Jace with me. He can let his feelings come out a little, because I’m over the crying jags that overwhelmed me at first. To everyone else, he remains aloof and remote. With all the girl attention, I hope he’ll find a steady, but he plays it cool. They all seem immature, anyway.
We schedule Out-Crowd rehearsal around their busy lives, which leaves us little time to work on False Gods songs. Hippie is coaching Jazz on the bass and Michael is bringing Dave up to speed on the drums. They play together on the double set. When Robby is there, Michael lets Dave play on his set, giving Dave pointers. All this Out-Crowd rehearsing allows Michael to spend lots of time with Jenna. To keep her virginal, one of her older brothers, Guido, is appointed manager of the Out-Crowd, to keep a sharp eye on her. Robby sells him pot. Since he is 20 and an adult, he has to pay. With unlimited beers and plentiful pot, he’s mostly a space case, leaving Michael plenty of opportunities to sneak around with Jenna for quick make-out sessions. I’m jealous that he’s getting to do what Jace and I did but no longer physically can. I get even with wet dreams but I’m having to buy so many rubbers, that Susan actually asks me if I’m sneaking girls up to my room when she finds about twenty used condoms in my trash. I’m immature enough to turn bright red.
“You can tell me about girlfriends, if you want,” she suggests. No way, Jose.
Dad is building a positive reputation as advocate for the need to have guns in your home. He makes me travel to several NRA conventions where he speaks and I have to answer questions about our ‘incident.’ I act the loving, hero-worshiping son, but after the second show, I tell him I can’t keep bringing up that nightmare.
“It’s okay, Timmy. People pretty much know the story now. I can carry the show myself.”
He has reverted to calling me Timmy again.
Guido actually gets off his ass and books several Quinceanera parties for Winter break. It’s still a month away. I hope that the younger players will be ready to actually do the show by themselves. I decide we’ll have a birthday party for Michael who is to turn 16 in late January. Rather than book a hall, Mike Sr says we can have the party in the music room but only invite a limited guest list. Robby wants to invite our entire English class, so I tell him they can only come if they perform the abridged portion of our play. Jace signs that he’ll teach me to play new music to go with the play. He looks happier than usual. That incentive sets Robby off on obsessive rewriting of Shakespeare’s words and meaning with daily rehearsals during English class. I refuse to play Titania anymore, when he acts all turned on by my appearance in a dress. Whatever. The Jacettes ask if their parents can attend the party, so all parents from both bands are invited. Mike Sr. realizes he now has to host the adults while we entertain the kids. Even a caterer is arranged. After looking at the guest list, I realize there are no kids to test the enthusiasm for the new band. I ask the Jacettes to bring any younger siblings that are at least 10. Stu asks if the swim team kids on the B team can come. We finally cut off the list at 100, not the intimate gathering I had hoped for the Out-Crowd’s maiden outing. Mike Sr. is happy to host the Lombardi family in response to Jenna’s New Year’s party. At least there won’t be 500 kids there.
Intrepid Cub reporter Jimmy Olsen comes by and says he has a project for False Gods. A photographer shot several rolls of 16 mm color film at Viscaya and wants to produce a film on the band. That’s more exciting than the kids show and certainly better than high school Shakespeare. They want us to view the footage and think about how to make sense of it all, plus record the songs he shot on silent 16 mm. I look at Jace and he makes an unhappy face. He signs that it reminds him of the week he died when we did the memorial. He hugs me and I brush away his wispy tears. I look up and see that everyone is staring at me.
“What? I’m just thinking about Jace and signing to him.”
They’re all spooked by this behavior, thinking I’ve lost my marbles. At least, I don’t cry over the least thing now.
Robby defends me, “Well, did he sign back?”
“Yeah, it makes him sad.”
All the girls burst into tears.
“Well, we’re doing it. I’m over crying. We’ll play all his favorite songs, starting with Pink Floyd. Y’all can cry your hearts out on film, and then all this gloom needs to stop.”
The girls rush over and hug me, ‘the lunatic on the grass.’ Flo sticks her hand down the back of my jeans and snaps my underwear waist band.
“Ow, that really hurts.” And we break up laughing.
I bring my Gibson SG guitar to school with the practice amp and announce in English class that I’m composing music to go with our performance. Robby sulks that I’m trying to get out of having to be in a dress.
“Well, I’m also against the boys having all the roles.”
One of the girls pipes up, “Why don’t you let us play the male roles?”
“What is this, a revolution?” Robby counters this attack on his authority.
I have plugged in my guitar and start playing the Beatles’ ‘Revolution.’
“You say you want a revolution…
You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We’d all love to see the plan”
LENNON, JOHN / MCCARTNEY, PAUL
Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
“All right, all right.’ Robby gives in. “All the girls can dress as boys. That’s as far as I’ll go. Shakespeare never allowed girls on stage.”
This appeases them. They start making plans to look butch.
Soon the boys are running through scenes. I let Jace totally take over. He produces eerie entrance music and flying solos for them to dance around their king and queen. Robby is listening and smiling at me. He reassigns Titania’s role to a sad boy who thought he never get picked. He perks up and actually already knows my lines.
“Remember,” Robby tells him, “you’re the understudy. Tim is the original Titania.”
“Who’s going to play guitar if I have to act,” I argue.
“You can get Jace to do it,” he answers, winking at me.
“I’ll play the role just as you do, Tim,” the understudy assures me.
“No, you have to find your own inner Titania,” I tell him. He smiles too enthusiastically.
Mr. Clark looks so pleased. The boy runs over to the wig case and has the hardest time choosing his own wig.
That night, Jimmy and the photographer bring over the filmed footage. The music room is set up for movie viewing. We watch over two hours of footage. No single song is fully filmed. It’s only video; there’s no audio. I realize that’s best, as we can control the sound. The ‘Woodstock’ film has come out; its chaotic crowd shots make the performances seem real, live. I get all excited and realize we put together an excellent performance, something that will be permanent. Music is so ephemeral, especially live shows. I look over at Jace. He’s sulking in the corner. I open my arms to him, signing that the possibilities make me happy.
“It was the first time you played without me.”
I instantly feel his sadness. “No, you were playing me playing you.”
He laughs, and I have his permission.
Again everyone is looking oddly at me.
“This will not be a memorial; it will be a tribute. He taught us how to really play from our hearts and souls. We can recreate the experience.”
“The Jace Experience,” Robby calls it.
“Yes,” we all shout.
There are lots of details to be sorted out, not the least are the royalties to be paid for all the copyrighted songs. It is decided to negotiate the rights, but only pay for them if the film makes it to commercial distribution. The whole discussion makes me realize how complicated the business part is going to be. I look at Mike Sr. We go outside to discuss the project.
“I think I’m over my head with this project, but I want to do it.”
“I’ll find someone to oversee the business end through my office.”
“Well, at least no one will fuck with us.”
He doesn’t smile at my joke. “I think they’re saying they will test the waters for the film’s appeal, probably submitting it for consideration at Cannes. If it gets that far, we’ll need big money or studio backing.”
“You offered to buy us a soundboard, but I told you we want to be raw and free, no production values added. Well, we now need a recording studio with professional editing and mixing.”
“I think Mr. Lombardi and I can swing that here locally. You may have to call it Jace’s Tribute dedicated to Jenna and Michael.”
Jace looks pleased for the first time.
I give Mike Sr. a big hug.
He doesn’t shrug me off for the first time. “No crying.”
“I’m over that.”
“Thank God,” and he hugs me back. I wait for the Godfather bacio della morte, but I’m safe so far.
I walk back in and get everyone to vote on the project. It’s unanimous except for Iggy who complains he’s excluded. We agree to make a Iggy (the real one) tribute as an extra short. It’s now unanimous. I tell the photographer that Mike Sr.’s office will handle all the contracts. We’ll start rehearsing so as to be ready to film shortly. We all cheer and go to Sorrento’s to celebrate. Jace is sitting on my lap rinsing my ear with wispy spit. Mike Sr. excuses himself for five minutes so Robby can get us all stoned. Intrepid Jimmy looks like a cat in the canary store when he gets baked. I realize I have three music projects going on without even thinking how I’ll manage each separately.
Jace wiggles his butt. I get instantly hard. Flo looks right through him, sees the full bulge, and chokes on her pizza. She grabs my hand and leads me into the ladies. We pass Mike Sr. as I’m dragged into the loo. He just shakes his head. Flo has me by one hand and Jace is holding me by the other. It’s crowded in the stall, so Jace sits on the top of the divider. Flo looks me in the eye, then at my bulging jeans, and puts her finger to her lips. Jace mimics her. I burst out laughing while she pulls down my jeans to my knees.
“I’ve needed to see what it looks like with your pants down.”
“My dick or me?” I asks.
“Your crazy briefs, fool.”
I laugh. She snaps the waistband from the front, a pleasurable pain until it hits my dick as it pokes out the top of the garish briefs.
“Ow, that hurts.”
“Let me kiss it better, baby.”
Jace howls, loses his balance, and falls into the next stall. I panic, thinking he’s leaving me alone with Flo, in clear violation of our sex pact. Then I see him looking up at me from under the divider, getting a clear view of my full hard-on as Flo pulls off the briefs.
“Will you autograph these for me,” she asks.
“You may not want them unless you swallow,” I taunt her.
She chokes on her laughter.
“Let me give you something real to choke on,” as I push her head down on my straining dick.
Jace crawls under the divider, drops his jeans, stands on my outstretched knees and sticks his dick in my open mouth. Bending his knees so he can easily thrust all the way down my throat, I start choking.
Flo mumbled, “Don’t blow too soon. I want to enjoy this for a while.”
All I could do was mumble “yeah.”
Jace reaches down and started fingering her labia.
“Oh, honey I’m going to cum,” as she pulls her head off me.
“Don’t stop,” I screech, pushing her back down before she sees I’m not the one up inside her panties.
She keeps bobbing while simultaneously rocking her ass sideways on Jace’s fingers. He pulls out and starts to stick the head of his dick into her cunt. She immediately pulls back and stares me right in the eye.
“We’re not going there yet,” she tells me.
“I agree, but let’s go back to where we were going.”
Jace is giggling on the floor. She grabs the base of my cock and deep throats me long enough for me to start my orgasm. I continue to spurt all over the place. Her fingers are gripping my hips in a vise-like grip as her orgasm recedes. Jace grabs my briefs and is catching the sperm as it flies around the stall. She falls into a stupor. He’s stuck under her. I pick up the briefs and give them to her. They’re soaked in cum.
“Here, these are yours. I’ll autograph them for you later.”
We’re all laughing. She stuffs the briefs in her purse. I pull my jeans up. It feels good going commando again.
We walk back to our booth together. Flo grabs Edi and Mary. They rush off to the scene of our defilement. I wonder what I’ll say when she can’t figure out how I can finger and lick her cunt while she gives me head on the john. The magic of love. Jace is beside himself. I sign to him “double mint,” and we sing, “double the pleasure, double the fun, with double mint, double mint, double mint gum.” We do a pinky swear and sign ‘sex pact.’
Robby looks around and whispers to me, “Where is he?”
Jace kisses him on the lips. Robby looks so foolish, moving his head around and sticking his tongue in and out and swishing it around. Michael and Hippie light up the roach, convinced they’re the only sane ones left. The girls come back, all giggly. Mary tells Robby, “I want you to start wearing underwear again.”
He looks bewildered as the girls and I break up.
When we get home, Jace is all excited about our joint sexual experience. I have to admit it is better than our nightly wet dreams, which makes him sad, as well as excluded. We’re signing madly about what happened.
“From Flo’s point of view, I got her off giving me a blow job.” I crow.
“Think she wants your babies?” Jace signs.
We both laugh thinking about her wearing my soaked briefs, hoping to have twins.
“From my point of view,” Jace signs, “It was close to an orgy, like the one I have coming up on my birthday.”
“Ask John. He knows.”
“Wanna invite him to the orgy?”
“No. He’s got ta wait ‘til he’s 16, like me.”
“We’ll just call tonight a three-way and continue to make plans for your 16th. Flo’s definitely in. You gotta seduce Edi. It won’t work if I get her to participate and she thinks I’m pimpin’ for you.”
“Just let her know you’re makin’ plans. If’n she don’t show no interest, then fuck her. She don’t love me still.”
“That ain’t fair to her, setting her up.”
“Yeah, you’re right. If she’s in, she’ll know its me. If she’s confused, maybe she’s still carrying the crush, like you,” Jace winks at me,
Without thinking, I jump him and he disappears. I feel him grab me around the waist from behind and pull down my jeans, pushing me on the bed.
“Get a rubber,” I warn him.
After we’re done, all I want to do is fall unconsciously asleep.
“Oh, no you don’t. This is not a dream.”
He roll me over, removes the used condom, and squeezes the contents into his mouth. There must’ve been a cup of cum. He swallows several times.
“Flo may have your hopeful sperm but I have your ghost babies.”
I know it’s a dream when little mini-me’s came floating out of his mouth.
“Where are we?” I ask.
“The Dark Side of the Moon.”
In the morning I rationalize that all the talk about the video made me dream a cartoon segment for the opening to Dark Side of the Moon. Maybe it can be the opening credits to our movie.
Robby is in full rehearsal mode when I get to English class. I sit in the corner and channel Jace through his guitar. Mr. Clark says nothing about me being 25 minutes late. Robby is fussing with the new Titania. He sends the understudy, Jack, to me for tutoring on the Titania role. I continue strumming the guitar, while I explain the two groups of fairies and the rivalry over the Indian changeling.
“You mean I gotta have a black boyfriend,” he asks.
“No, he’s just your slave.”
“That’s even worse.”
I start liking my understudy. His comment gives me an idea.
“Who have we got to play the Indian changeling,” I ask Robby.
“I thought we’d get a Black Barbie doll.”
“This is our chance, Robby, to make a statement; to get people to know about your play.”
“What are you talking about.”
“We need a black kid for the play but the school makes them all leave at 2 pm. We’ll do a sit-in that blocks the buses until they provide a transport for kids who want to stay for after-school activities.”
Mr. Clark looks up. “Did you say sit-in?”
‘Yeah, it sucks that all the black kids don’t stay after 2 pm.”
“Well, I’ll take your demands to the administration.”
“Robby, find a black kid who wants to be in the play.”
He throws up his hands, “How.”
A couple of girls titter and point at a chubby misfit, “She has a black boyfriend.”
“Will he be in the play?”
Miss Chubby stammers,” He’s been asking me all about this class. I bet he’ll do it.”
“Tell him we need him,” Robby directs. “Okay? Which bus does he ride?”
“Tomorrow, at that bus will be the first Gables High sit-in. From now on we’re rehearsing from 2 to 3, as well as in class. Our show’s less than a week away.”
Mr. Clark looks so pleased about his class’s civil disobedience.
At Nutrition, we get the drama crew from English and our stoner crew, no longer ditching, to merge in the Quad. Our table is now the Out-Crowd Corner. Today the girls from English are practicing their butch walks, talks and attitudes on the boys who are being demure and girlish. All the stoners love that Robby has found a new group to dominate. They’re laughing their asses off at the affected drama queens. Robby tells everyone to meet at the bus loading area the next day at 2 pm. “Be prepared to take civil action.”
Later the two bands meet at Michael’s and discuss our upcoming plans. We tell the Out-Crowd they’re ready to perform in public. Michael and Jenna’s parents are throwing a birthday party for Michael. I tell them it’ll be for kids 10-14, so they’ll have to impress their friends. They need to tell Michael or me about any friend they want to invite. The False Gods band will be there to back up anyone who isn’t up to speed on the dance songs. The kids are excited. They go practice so they’ll be ready. John gives me a long look. I yell at him, “You’re ready to be on your own. Go practice.”
I tell the False Gods group we’re going to do a video from the Viscaya footage. Studio time is being booked to record the Jace Tribute songs for the video. They must clear their schedules in the next few weeks because everyone has to be there. Iggy jumps up and down complaining he’s excluded. I promised him that his Iggy shtick will be an extra feature to the video. We’ll tell him when to come record. We discuss which songs we’ll do, starting with Jace’s favorite Pink Floyd hits. I suggest we end with ‘Free Bird,’ which makes Mary happy. The Jacettes will do the backups on ‘Take a Walk on the Wild Side.’ It is sweet to practice all these songs that meant so much to Jace and me. My guitar leads really soar.
After rehearsal, Hippie tells me I have to go to dinner at his house with his two moms. I’m about to say it isn’t convenient, but Jace signs that he wants to go.
“Then you go,” I sign.
“You want to be alone?”
“No, I’m just so busy. I have to tell Dad I can’t do any more of his gun nut conventions.”
“I have to stay with you,” Jace signs.
“Are you getting sick of me?”
“That’s was very sick last night.” He jokes.
I smile and go along with him to Hippie’s house. Jace tries teasing Hippie while he drives us. No amount of ear and eyelid licking gets Hippie’s attention. He’s immune. Jace is frustrated, so he takes it out on me. Hippie continues to ignore us, finally saying, “You act weird.”
Marge and Meg are much happier to see me this time. They lay on a feast, which Hippie and I dig into, without waiting for grace or conventional conversation. We finally sit back and see satisfied looks on the moms’ faces.
“I love a boy who loves to eat.” Meg says.
“You only can love me,” Marge hits her on the arm.
Hippie and I hug them both.
“We love you loving us even when we know you only love each other.”
“Gregory is so happy now that he has friends,” Marge tells me.
“So, we gonna have that birds & bees talk now?” Meg asks.
Hippie’s blush turned purple.
“From what I see, the birds, bees and girls have done that talk already,” I suggest.
The moms break out laughing.
“Don’t you need your moms to show you what to do?” they kid him.
I think his purple face is going to turn black, but he keeps it under control.
“You’re about two weeks too late, Moms.”
“Well, that’s a relief. ” We all relax.
Meg brings out a ‘dump cake,’ which I guess is Hippie’s favorite. It has everything but the kitchen sink in it, made by mixing all sorts of sweet things in with cake batter and cooking until the batter isn’t gloppy. If you don’t look at it, it tastes great.
“You are the most normal family I know,” I announce.
“Trouble on the home front,” Meg asks.
“Well, my Dad still calls me Little Timmy and has become a gun nut. I haven’t heard from my real Mom in months. Dad’s girlfriend goes through my trash and counts the condoms she finds. Michael’s dad is in our teen band. Stu’s parents either hate or love me, depending on the day of the week. John’s parents pay Stu’s parents to raise him. Robby’s mom is a witch with a black cat and a snake. Dave’s family are all fanatic Catholics. Jazz and Debby’s folks are into self-help seminars because they have no problems. My girlfriend’s parents watch me like a hawk while she keeps stealing my underwear.”
“You have a girlfriend? Isn’t it too soon after losing Jace.”
“Well, we were going out before he died. She knows how much I still love him and isn’t jealous ‘cause we love each other too. Also, my best friend is a hippie,” and I wink at Hippie.
He doesn’t blush but looks really pleased.
“Well, we love you, too, Timmy.”
“Oh no, please don’t call me that. I took me months to be just Tim.”
“Okay, Just Tim.”
“No, just, Tim,” I insist.
“Well, if that’s your biggest problem, tell anyone who calls you Timmy, even your pops, that two bull dykes will straighten ‘em out on that count.”
I love my two moms.
While driving me home, Hippie looks at me and smiles, “We’re really best friends?”
“Always, from the day you joined the band.”
“Oh, you mean like everybody else, even Iggy.”
I hit him on the arm, “No, duffuss, I love you, like a brother. You and I play like a single soul. We have to make the band work. You’re the foundation of rhythm that allows my guitar to soar away like a free bird.”
“’And this bird he must fly.’” Hippie sings. He really is out of his shell. He hugs me when I get home. I resist the temptation to kiss him.
“You taught me to play. I think I idolize you.”
“No false gods,” I warn.
We just smile.
Up in my room, I ask Jace why Hippie can resist his teasing, but when it’s innocent, he feels him.
Jace signs, “He can only feel what he wants. I can’t make him want to make out.”
“That’s not a problem for me,” I sign. Off to bed we go for more ‘dream lover.’
Robby is excessively hyper in the morning in anticipation of his 60s-style protest. I wholeheartedly support the cause of really integrating all the bused kids into the after-school activities at our school. It’s his motives I question. I’m well aware of his self-aggrandizing. English is electric. The chubby girls’ boyfriend is there before the bell. Robby explains that the play requires an Indian changeling and asks if he wants to participate. Grant, his name, is interested. We ask him what all the black kids think and feel about their new school.
“Pretty apathetic and sometimes resentful.”
I ask him how he and Chubby met and got involved.
“I saw her givin’ me the eye in the hall. She’s my style o’ woman. Y’know, more cushion for the pushin’”
I say, “It’s screwed that the school keeps y’all from bein’ welcome here.”
“They’s afraid o’ the ghetto life comin’ to thah Gables.”
“We’ll get a little ghetto action goin’ here today,” Robby proclaims. “We’ll concentrate on stopping your bus from leaving. We’ll tell security we need our friend, Grant, to stay for our play rehearsal.” He puts his arm around Grant’s shoulder, who looks slightly uncomfortable.
I tell him,”See if you can get others to block their buses, too. We can resolve this in our favor by showing that we all want you guys to be here after school.”
“What if security orders us to move?”
“We have to all sit there and keep calm. That prick AP Spencer will want to have us arrested but we’ll have the numbers. The cops will come and want to negotiate. I’ll get our reporter friend to get us on the news. There’s no way they can argue you all have to leave school by final bell.”
“Y’all have this worked out real good. I’ll talk it up with all the bus kids, so they knows what’s going on.”
I get on the phone and alert Intrepid Jimmy. He promises to be there with a photographer.
“What’s this got to do with the band?”
“Nothing, but Robby is the instigator. We’re supporting him.”
Then I call Mike Sr.
“Jesus, will you guys stop instigating trouble.”
“You’re against integrating the school.”
“Hell, no. I’m one of the lead attorneys who sued the County to get blacks into segregated schools.”
“Well, they’re not integrated if they’re forced to leave before after-school activities.”
“Again, you’re three steps ahead of me.”
“Just want you to have a heads up before it happens.”
“Okay, but I’m involved regardless. I’ll go into federal court this morning and get an injunction to force the Gables School District to provide later bus service as needed.”
“Will that mean we shouldn’t do our protest?”
“No, I need to show that the students want this service, to show cause.”
“We’ll show you cause.”
“Thanks for the warning. Just make me aware when you plan to do anything.”
“If you get arrested, you’re going call your own father first, then me as your attorney.”
There’s a buzz in the air all day at school. At 2 pm we’re out there at the loading zone. Standing with Grant, we ask all the riders on bus #3 to refuse to board. The drama girls and boys all sit down in front of the bus. The stoners and the riders unite in chanting, “Integrate, don’t discriminate.” Soon almost all the black kids have either gotten off or refused to load on their buses. Jimmy is there photographing and doing interviews. Robby is making his case that Grant is needed to stay for play rehearsals. Iggy makes some speech about demonstrating for his brothers in Detroit. Mary says most students want to be friends with the bus kids but never have a chance to get to know them; the administration doesn’t want to give them an equal education. Some redneck kids yell epithets at us, like ‘go back to Hialeah.’ AP Spencer arrives with several security officers. When he sees that the press is there, he curses. Then he tells security to find out who the ringleaders are and bring them to his office. Robby and Grant refuse to leave the loading zone, security calls the Gables Police Department for backup. As they arrive and are forming a line to push us away from the buses, Mike Sr. arrives with the US Attorney and several press outlets, including TV. The police refer them to AP Spencer who is forced to return to the scene. When faced with a court order he has no choice but to agree to provide 4 pm and 5pm buses for students who need to stay past final bell. A loud cheer goes up. All the student protesters start marching around the school chanting, “Integrate, don’t discriminate.” The redneck anti-protestors start throwing bottles. The police quickly round them up. They go to jail. It’s total victory. I stand with Mike Sr. on the sidewalk, watching all the commotion.
“Lost your need to lead the charge,” he asks.
“This is all Robby’s doing. He’s the one who needs the attention.”
“I used to worry that he was a bad influence on Michael in grade school, but I couldn’t keep them apart. They were inseparable.”
“Robby loves to be in charge.”
“And not always for the best reasons.”
“Michael never gets fazed by Robby’s antics.”
“Yeah, he looks up to Robby because he’s a year older. Somewhere around age ten or eleven, he stopped idolizing him.”
“They still seem like best friends.”
“Michael had to draw the line. After a big blowup, Robby quickly accommodated to the change in their relationship.”
“That’s pretty much how he and I are friends. If he isn’t accusing me of trying to steal Mary away, he’s trying to get with Jace and me.”
“How did you stop that?”
“I got in his face and told him to stop playing the jealousy trip. He uses his charm as a power trip. It’s not very endearing.”
Mike Sr. shakes his head. “Life was simpler in the 50s. I used to think I was the world’s worst father. Now I’m amazed by how mature my son is.
“He is, and he’s just like you, intelligent and understanding.”
He gives me a quick hug. All this love is confusing.
“We know that it’s not free. There’s always a price, even if it’s our own innocence.”
“Out of the mouths of babes.”
Then, we shake hands on a successful operation, even if it isn’t specifically by the band.