The D&D boys dispatch to their homes, to explain the unexpected sleepover and subsequent church visit. Isaac, the boy who can feel Casper, is Jewish. He sticks around after the others leave. We’re lounging by the pool, baking out the last of the night’s pot hangover. After trying on some of Jack’s swim suits, which are so tight on me that my dick insists on growing to noticeable size, I just wear the gay briefs. I can’t tell the difference between them and my old Speedos. Jack can’t help himself from snapping their waistband, while we recline together on a chaise. Isaac seems oblivious to our flirting.
“It’s the Jesus thing that I can’t figure out,” he admits. “Gay isn’t an issue for me.”
“Well, Jesus was Jewish. The gay issue is all conjecture.”
“We think Jesus was just a man. Worshiping him violates the commandment about revering no God other than God.”
“That’s our band theme, False Gods. Come to practice and hear our songs. But do you want Jesus in your heart?”
“We’re taught that Christians, especially Catholics, despise us as the killers of Christ.”
“Many Church teachings make it hard to love Jesus. Since 1965 the Church declared that Jews are no longer responsible for refusing to accept Him.”
“The Church now welcomes us?”
“I believe the Church lost its way. There are many haters who resist change. I’m less concerned with the church and more concerned about the kids who come to it with pure hearts and become mean-spirited and hardened.”
“What I felt last night was a kiss that means I’m accepted?”
“From what I’ve seen, those who feel this spirit are those who want to accept him into their hearts.”
Casper is sitting with Jack and me. He moves over to lay with Isaac, caressing his hair and embracing him.
“Wow. That’s incredible. It’s the same feeling but ten times stronger, all over my body.”
“Accept it into your heart and you’ll always know where to find it. For you, it’s not just Jesus. It’s wanting to be accepted and the ability to let those you love into your heart. It could be a rabbi who teaches you because he cares about you.”
Casper has Isaac reach over and touch my hand.
“That’s so amazing,” he enthuses.
“What will you tell your parents and Jewish friends?”
“That I went to Church and people, some people, welcomed me and accepted me even though I don’t have Jesus in my heart.”
“They’ll be fearful.”
“I’ll just be calm and open to them.”
“There are haters. You’ll have to protect your heart from them.”
“I’m used to doing that.”
“Don’t hate back.”
“That’s your secret. Many people will hate you for being gay, but you don’t hate them back.”
“We don’t discriminate.”
“Will girls like me now?”
“Well, you’ll always be a nerd.
“Yeah. Maybe there are nerd girls out there.”
“Not playing D&D,” Jack adds.
Isaac gets up, “I’m think I can face my folks. I know they love me. It should be easy now. Thanks Jack and Tim.”
“Say good-bye to my mom. She’s a stickler for etiquette.”
“Sure. I’ll thank her on the way out.”
We lay there awhile, soaking in the sun. I get too warm and jump in the pool, yelling to Jack to join me. I do a few laps before he eases himself in. I immediately attack him, and he panics from fear of the water. I put him on my back and do butterfly to give him a ride like the dolphins do at Marineland. He has his arms around my neck, his hardening boner urging me on. We slip into the hot tub. With the bubbles on, no one knows we’re getting each other off with our feet, first time at Chez Stone. Lying on the chaise together, I realize it’s for decorum’s sake that we restrain ourselves here. Embracing each other on the deck is just fagging off. Having sex is to remain private. I luxuriate in doing nothing. I need a day off. Being Teen Jesus is exhausting.
After several hours of playing in the pool and mostly just laying out, Mr. Stone comes out and sits with us.
“Jack,” he said tentatively.
“Dad,” he answers with a big smile.
Dad has a whole speech prepared. “We’re so proud of you, son.”
“That I got a girlfriend?”
“That’s silly. I can see you love Tim. I’m glad that doesn’t stop you from liking girls as well.”
“You love Mum. It’s a good example to follow.”
“In our self-involved way, we do love each other. I’m impressed that all your friends seem changed by your example. All those pagans at Church today. I feel like Father Flaherty from Boy’s Town.”
“You both are good sports.”
“The mark of the truly genteel.”
“You guys are just alike,” I note.
“Well, that makes me officially middle class. Now that I’m one of the guys.”
We all laugh.
He pulls out a credit card. “This is a BankAmeriCard, Jack. I’ve given your brothers one. Use it in an emergency, but also, if you need to buy something or pay for services.”
The passing of privilege from the older to the younger generation for the very rich. Not quite middle class yet.
“It’s okay to use on our road trip to New York?”
“That’s why I’m giving it to you now. If I get a bill that says you took everyone to dinner at Sardi’s, I will yell at you.”
Jack jumps out of my arms and into his dad’s. “Thanks, Dad. I’m free. Free at last.”
I don’t quite see the parallel with Dr King, but I share the enthusiasm.
“Don’t let Robby know you have it,” I warn Jack.
We’re sitting on our bed at my house doing homework later that evening. Max is whining about going to Robby’s for his fix. Once Jack gets high, homework will be over. I have to make copies of all Robby’s exercises and papers, as English is the only class he cares about. He must listen in class, at least, since he’s passing the tests without too much copying from me. I should get two diplomas.
I call the Watt’s.
“Tim. How are you?”
“Teen Jesus took 8 D&D kids to Catholic Mass today.”
“Way to go, Teen Jesus.”
“Can we talk about John a bit?”
“Sure. He’s had an up and down week. Did something happen?”
“Remember how Martin had you chatting about Jace during the movie shoot?”
“It was nice to remember him on his birthday. Gosh, Tim, he would have been only 16.”
“Well, no one told you, but Martin was filming all the reminiscences like that.”
“I’m in the movie?”
“Probably. He’ll make sure it’s the good stuff you said. But he got John to open up as well.”
“Was he okay about that?”
“He was happy and really liked Martin. He was really smiling.”
“Well, it may have been too much. The last few days, he’s refusing to talk. Even Stu has given up on him.”
“Coach Earl warned me about once he got comfortable enough to open up, all the bad memories might come flooding back. He’ll relapse.”
“Are you going to tell me what happened to him before Jace was shot?”
“Jace told me, but I promised him and later John I would guard their secret. It’s horrific.”
“My poor boy. Should we send him to a shrink?”
“It has to be someone he trusts. It may mean years of weekly sessions.”
“How about I read to him. Scott always perked up when I read him ‘The Little Prince,’ even as a teenager.”
“That’s great. I’ll have Casper spend nights with him. John seems better after Casper’s been there.”
“Thanks for letting me know. I love our extended family.”
“That’s why you’re Mom.”
“Love ya, Tim.”
“Me, too, Mom.”
Jack was listening. “John’s not talking?”
“Yeah. Coach told me that might happen. It means he’s getting stronger but still not able to deal with the memories.”
Jack is polite enough not to ask what those memories are. Casper has gotten very sad, so we send him off to be with John.
“Sex pact is suspended for tonight,” he signs.
Time to hit Robby’s and the love weed. Max is out the door. Since his rescue of Robby, he now has front door privileges there. We burst into the room, startling the stoners and tackling Robby. This time everyone joins in, even the girls. Max is barking. Finally Robby’s mom bangs on the door.
After massive bong hits, Jack has to be restrained, until we get to our room. Pot definitely makes him aggressive. He has my face in a pillow while he plows me from behind. His thrusts make me groan, which gets higher and higher in pitch.
“You sound like a little boy,” he complains.
I drop the moans to grunts until he spills his load. Skinny dick or not, it’s totally exciting. I don’t want to say it, but he is a better fuck when Casper is gone. Maybe he feels he has to please both of us and always ends up in the middle of our 3-ways. Casper generally is a top with Jack. I’ll talk to him. I’m still intensely in love with Casper, having him come back from the dead really helps. I’m really falling for Jack, too. We all have to avoid screwing it up. I never try to freeze my feelings about people and events, always looking around the bend of time to what is coming next. Being alone with Jack is better for both of us, but any reduction in my need for Casper will destroy me. Feelings and relationships have to change and grow. Can Casper change since he’s dead? Again I’m over thinking it. I have to concern myself with John, out of love for Casper. And, stop thinking so much! Then I realize I’m letting Jack molest me while being a million miles away. The stimulation quickly makes me hard. Mission accomplished, He throws my legs over his shoulders and plows me like a trooper – a Cossack, not a State Highway Patrolman. Judging from Jack’s determination, he is going to beat his topping record of three tonight. I might as well as enjoy it. Be careful for what you wish for. The second I relax and gave in to the pounding, I feel a totally new sensation. I’m being worked and love it. Soon I’m squeezing back, totally into it. Jack senses these new feelings, dominance and submission. He rides me like he’s in the Kentucky Derby. His mind is deep into the fuck until he becomes aware that he’s about to cum again. I bounce him faster and faster and beat him to the punch, but not by much. After we finish he collapses against me, sound asleep. I find a towel and clean the spilled seed which was smeared there and dripping out. Trying to save our sheets is a Sisyphean task. I accept the 3-2 dominance loss with grace, remembering that feeling of falling when I give in to him and relax. He is teaching me now. I fall asleep and my dreams are of Jack sitting in a circle with his D&D buddies telling each one they have to wait their turn for him to fuck them. The gay hater is the most anxious to be fucked. Boys.
Monday morning, the week before Easter Break: As we walk into Mr. Clark’s English class, Robby points at me, “Looks like someone isn’t walking too straight today. Someone’s bed buddy too frisky last night?”
Everyone stays silent, waiting for my come back.
“No. Max smoked too much of your love weed and had his way with both of us.”
That gets a laugh, but for once Mr. Clark knows we have gone over the line. “Settle down, or we’ll have a pop quiz.”
Robby needs to have the last word, “Tim already popped.”
Grant and his boy Clyde come up to us at Nutrition.
“Bin hearin’ ‘bout yer Easter plans. Goin’ to New York?”
“Yeah. You need to transfer to Mr. Clark’s English class so you can speak the language.”
“I’m the street prophet, speakin’ the words and sounds of my peeps.”
“How’s that workin’ fer ya?”
We all laugh.
“Anyway,” he tones it down, “We’s throwin’ y’all a ghetto farewell. Bon voyage on Thursday night – a send off.”
“That’s really cool, man.”
“Here’s a flyer. Maybe you’ll play?”
“Why not. Your crew doin’ Doo Wop?”
“’Course. We’s the home boys.”
“Yeah, we’ll be flush.”
“Just don’t be flashing it in my neighborhood.”
“See ya, then.”
“Not if we see you first.”
Dave says everything is good at Out & Proud and flashes me his Jacksons.
“You puttin’ that in your college fund?”
“Shit, this is my pizza and beer fund.”
“Can we come by and get a sendoff today?”
“Sure, but don’t cut into our commissions.”
“You like being an underwear model?”
“Sure,”and he flashes me the day’s special. At least it isn’t paisley.
When we show up, all the kids surround us. Someone yells, “Teen Jesus.”
“I’m not Teen Jesus,” I complained. “How y’all doin.’”
“Jimmy had his older brother busted for beatin’ on him,” someone announces.
Everyone is patting Jimmy on the back.
“It’s good you’re standing up for each other. But it’s sad that Jimmy’s brother’s an asshole.”
“How are Dave and Jazz doing? You enjoy having ‘em play every day.”
Right on cue, the Out-Crowd starts tuning up. The kids kick off their shoes and the sock hop begins.
Felix comes over to say goodbye.
“We’ll be back in two weeks. You want us back? The kids like the sock hop.”
“Your jobs are safe. Those boys don’t sell shit. Jazz is a spazz who will never look good modelling anything. Dave stares real hard at anyone who looks at him when he shows his briefs.”
“Not exactly gay boys. They said they still are making their commissions.”
“I still pay ‘em, but its more for keeping all the kids in the youth center than bringing in business.”
“We’ll shop Soho and bring back what’s hot.”
“Cool. I hear you’re playing road houses on the way up. It won’t be like the old Eros Lounge.”
“Yeah, they won’t be throwing money at us, just beer.”
“Well, be careful.”
“No problem, guard dog Max will protect us.”
I call Mike Sr.’s assistant, Jay, to check on all the arrangements. He has the Chelsea booked for five nights, in case we need to stay longer in New York. St Patrick’s called with all kinds of restrictions on us for their Easter High Mass. He directed them to Martin Scorsese’s production company, which is negotiating the rights to film there. The Church asked if we’ll speak at their youth group on Saturday which Jay knows we want to do. The booking agency in Memphis sent a list of road houses willing to book us. Since Easter week is slow, all we have to do is show up and we can play. They’ll pay us $300 for two sets, but only if we finish both sets. It seems dire. Father Frank contacts the Church and has a schedule of youth groups along the whole East Coast. Jay called Hippie’s Baptist church which provided the same. Jack’s uncles are all gassed up and ready to go. I bet they are.
I speak with Mike Sr.
“Thanks for arranging our tour. Jay is great. There’s one last favor.”
“Here it comes,” he jokes.
“Can you call Jace and John’s parents and get Jace’s real mother’s address and contact info. This whole tour idea started because we want to find her. He never really knew her. He didn’t even know her name. Maybe his dad knows where she is.”
“I’ll try, but I’m not their favorite attorney.”
“But maybe the most charming one.”
“I’ll let you know.”
Casper hugs me for trying.
Thursday English turns into a send-off, as we plan to leave from Hialeah after the ghetto party, ditching Friday classes. Jack and I sing our latest song about Miami:
“Go deep to the South
When you can go no more
Find our city to make a score
Come to our cool house
We bewilder with our drug
Whether it be love
Or just need of a hug
We’re free to meet the need
Miami’s here to serve
keeps you safe and sound
Southern man beats you down
That’s just what you deserve
Life too rough?
Take the time
Follow our sign
Girls are free
Jack your shit
Get into it.”
The kids love it. Mr. Clark says it is drug oriented and misogynistic.
“Just what those rednecks want,” Robby defends us
Mike Sr. talks with me while the equipment is being loaded into the De Soto and Chrysler convertibles. He has a packet of information from Jace’s dad on his mom. It seems they are being more helpful.
“I should tell you what’s happening with John,” I say, as he is his legal guardian. I relate his opening up to Martin Scorsese, then regressing. How the Watts are giving him room, but that he stopped talking this week. Mike Sr. wants to have him professionally evaluated but agrees to wait until we get back, to let the Watts deal with it in their old-fashioned way, ‘love the child, spare the shrink.’
Casper goes ape shit about seeing the info on his mom. We run into the bathroom. He devours it all. Her last address is near Daytona. There’s no phone number. There are lots of pictures, mostly old. She’s a dead ringer for Jace, long, stringy blonde hair, deep blue eyes, long horsey face. The pictures are from when she was just a year or so older than he is. The likeness is striking. I warn Casper that she may seem much older, especially if she’s had a rough life. He doesn’t care, but is worried she no longer loves him and won’t see or feel him.
“She will definitely feel you,” I assure him. “Seeing you is harder, but we’ll sign for you.’
“We’re going to find her?”
“Definitely. We’ll start looking tomorrow in Daytona. Maybe we’ll play a club, and she’ll be there.”
He looks so hopeful. It breaks my heart. He has so little family.
Mike Sr. has really come through
“I’m aghast that I’m trusting my 16-year-old to another 16-year-old to go on a two-week tour of the Eastern US. We’ll be in New York for Easter. I wouldn’t miss St Patrick’s for the life of me.” Then he hugs me.
I know better than to say we have responsible adults to chaperone us.
Mary comes over with her father. We speak in Spanish, the gist of which is that none of the girls can go with us. Mike Sr. explains how miraculous it is to perform at the Cathedral in New York. Her father thought St Patrick’s was a bar. He still refuses to relent. Mike Sr. says they could travel with his family just for the Easter performance. No tour of the South for the Jacettes. They’re devastated. Jack is even comforting Edi, drawing nasty looks from the parents.
Finally we pack everything. Everyone piles into the convertibles for the party at Grant’s house. Suddenly I’m nervous. All the details are fine, but the responsibility of everything is too much. Jack bucks me up. Casper signs that the only important thing is to find his mom. Everything else is a lark. The same letting-go feeling I get when Jack dominates me, starts in my stomach. I’ve fallen into the adult trap of worrying about the unknown. We have a ghetto party awaiting us. Let’s go.
Twenty minutes later we’re at Grant’s. He has a lookout and knows the moment we pull up. All his friends are car buffs. Soon Tam and Steve have their hoods up, showing off their massive V-8 engines. Gas is now over a buck, but the Uncles say not to worry. They have us covered. I bet. The girls are all loving Max.
Clyde jumps in, standing in the back, throws out his arms, and begins singing the De Soto jingle,
“It’s delightful, it’s delovely, it’s DeSoto,” never realizing he’s singing a show song by Cole Porter. Jack jumps in with him and sings the original’s first verse:
“The night is young, the skies are clear
So if you want to go walking, dear,
It’s delightful, it’s delicious, it’s de-lovely.
I understand the reason why
You’re sentimental, ’cause so am I,
It’s delightful, it’s delicious, it’s de-lovely.
You can tell at a glance
What a swell night this is for romance,
You can hear dear Mother Nature
“Let yourself go!””
Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.
Clyde is not to be upstaged and kisses Jack right there. Everyone cheers. Grant slaps me on the back, “I told you.”
Jack runs over to me and blows a kiss to Clyde.
Everyone goes into the backyard for the Bar-B-Q, leaving a lookout to guard the vehicles. All our black classmates are there, including the Doo Wop crew. We know most everyone, so few introductions are needed. Grant asks where the girls are. I explain how their parents had put their foot down.
“But Michael’s dad is flying them up for the St Patrick’s Easter Mass.”
Grant’s mother joins our conversation, “I once attended services at Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church. Their choir is heaven-sent.”
“Mama asked me if you’ll perform your version of ‘Amazing Grace’ tonight, as a warm-up for New York?”
“Of course, but you have to join us.”
His mother beams. He can’t refuse.
“How about after the Doo Wop crew?” she suggests. “You boys always get everyone movin’.”
Hippie and I go out and get our guitars.
“You don’t have any problem us performing here, do you?”
He gives me a funny look. “We Baptists may have gone our separate ways, but we still worship the same God.”
“Praise the Lord.”
“Praise the gays,” and we giggle.
Grant’s mama is right. The Doo Wop crew gets all the kids moving, just like the Out-Crowd, but with better dancing moves.
When they’re done, Hippie and I hook up to the amps and step up with Grant, His crew stays with us, humming and adding nonsense words in the background. Hippie starts and Grant comes in on the second line;
they sing to each other, while Jack and I do the high parts and finishes on guitar. We sing it through twice, with the whole crowd singing at the end. There are lots of hands and arms in the air, but no holy rolling.
I grab Grant, “You have to come with. This will be so great to do in New York.”
“Mama ain’t gonna let me go.”
“What if Martin books us also at the Harlem Abyssinian Baptist? And you and your mama can fly up with Michael’s family and the girls?”
“You crazy, boy,” he looks at me wide-eyed. “Mama, com’n over here.”
I worry she’ll succumb to her fried chicken diet, but the tears of joy are worth it, at least to me.
I call Mike Sr. and explain we already have a change. He agrees to call Martin and seems confident it will happen.
“Shall I get him to book a temple in case Passover happens to coincide?”
He only complains a little that this holiday is already costing him an arm. Now I’m taking the leg.
“Com’n. Mike. You can start your campaign for DA from the Abyssinian Baptist Church.”
“Don’t be cynical.”
“And you thought you would get away with just buying me a guitar?”
With the parents and kids mostly gone, I gather the high schoolers and Grant’s crew around the amps.
“Wanna hear our new song about Miami? It’s called ‘South Florida.’”
It sounds great in the open air, temperature 78 degrees, winds off the water at 5 mph and the feeling that the old Miami is about to become the new trendy Miami Vice. We’re about to find out what the rest of the country thinks about it.
“Onward Kimo Sabe, second star to the right, and straight on ’til morning.” Jack tells the Uncles, and we depart.
Somewhere in the middle of the night we arrive in Daytona. The Uncles get 2 rooms at a moderate motel near the pier and lead us like little kids to our room. Michael and Hippie are tucked into opposite sides of their bed with Robby in the middle, while Jack and I are separated by the invisible Casper, who tosses and turns all night in anticipation of looking for his mom in the morning. Her name is Carol, Carol Conning if she has not remarried, or Carol Fleming, if she went back to her maiden name. As we eat breakfast in a coffee shop, I go through the phone book. There are no Connings and the Flemings all have male names attached. We jump into the De Soto and search out the address Jace’s dad provided. It’s a small bungalow in a sketchy part of town. Jack and I go to the door, but no one answers. The house is obviously occupied, so we conclude the occupants are at work. I go to the neighbors, finally finding someone who knows the residents. I show them the photo.
“I believe there was a woman who stayed there several years ago. She looks similar to the picture but much older.”
“The photo is 16 years old.”
“Well, that could very well be her.”
Encouraged we go back to the cottage and leave a note, saying we’ll be back at six pm. Casper is deflated but anxious to return later.
The Uncles insist we see the sights, taking both cars out on the hard-packed sand by the ocean. Apparently, anyone can drive on the beach. The original car races were held there. The Daytona 500 is at the newly built Speedway. The Uncles are giddy from driving fast on the sand, while we whoop it up, yelling at other cars doing the same as us. Our classic ’50s cars are the toast of the beach. The Uncles need a nap after the excitement and from driving most of the night. I look at what the booking agent prepared for the Daytona area. There’s a bar & grill west of town that has us booked us for that night. Uncle Tam tosses me the keys. Armed with my driver’s permit we head to check it out. The De Soto isn’t easy to drive, so Hippie takes over after I keep going onto the sandy roadside.
The roadhouse is a square concrete box with a big parking lot and no neighbors. We all pile out and walk in together.
“Gonna need me ta see some ID boys,” The bartender says.
We all showed our new permits.
“I mean IDs saying y’all is 18.”
“We’re the band booked for tonight, sir.”
“Hey Jake, com’n out here,” he yells.
A big bellied man saunters to the bar.
“These boys say you booked ‘em for tonight’s band.”
“Y’all from Ry Cooder’s Songs of the South Studio.”
“We’re from Miami. Ry booked us to open Lynyrd Skynyrd’s tour there next month.”
“You don’t say. Why would such a famous opening act wanna play this dump?”
‘We’s drivin’ up north for an Easter show and need to try out our new songs to a real audience.”
“They don’t have real audiences in New York?”
“Not real Southern audiences, sir. “I look at him hopefully.
“Think you can smile and look pretty and I’m gonna let you play here.”
“Least you got manners. You play good enuff to get these local boys drinking and you gets 20% of the bar take.
“We get 25% in Miami.”
“Maybe they throw their money away down there.”
“Maybe you should pay us what the studio agent said, $300 for two sets.”
“You play real good, you’ll make more’n that.”
“We’ll play good alright and we have a deal – 25%.”
I stick my hand out and we shake.
“How old are you boys.”
“Their IDs say they’re all 16 but that one over there must be a retard ‘cause he’s 17,” the bartender says pointing at Robby.
“I ain’t retarded, I just ditched all year and got put back.”
“Well, shit, he’s feisty anyway. Must be the drummer.”
“Number one drummer,” Robby responds.
“How many drummers you got?”
“Well, ya must be Skynyrd clones then.”
‘We’ll play Skynyrd. Then you can tell us if we’re just clones,” Robby is getting riled up.
“Yeah, we know 15 minutes of Free Bird guitar solo.”
“We do it as a duet. I just do an intro on the guitar,” I explain.
“Well, you be sure to play it ‘cause these boys are locals. Fans may take exception to you Miami boys changin’ the lyrics.”
“We’ll do that. We’ll play lots of covers and take requests, but we want to see how our new songs hold up against hits.”
“As I was sayin’, this ain’t band camp, so you just get ever’one drinkin’. It’ll work out fine. But no drinking yerselves.”
“Just stick some cold ones outside fer when we take a break,” Robby insists. “I told you that drummer’s a firecracker.”
“Be here at eight, ready to do two sets.”
“And stop bein’ such a kiss ass.” The manager tells me.
“Get outta my bar.”
We jump into the De Soto and tear out of the parking lot, fishtailing as we whoop it up. It’s our first commercial gig. We drive back to Daytona and go by Casper’s mom’s old place – still no one there. Casper signs for me to go to the local police station to ask if his mom is known there. They check their records but no one with her name shows up. One cop says her picture looks like a runaway he knew several years ago. They have nothing about her at the address we provide. Next, we go to the pier, after returning the De Soto. We forgot to clean out the trash we accumulated from 7/11. The Uncles are not pleased, but maybe more upset that we woke them up.