Jack is in a chipper mood in the morning. We bike to his house and enjoy Isabelle’s breakfast, especially the fresh orange juice. He asks the D&D nerds to come over and a game is on. I figure it will distract me from worrying about that night’s gig and our jock confrontation. Jack suggests I play a healer this time, as my heroic knight needs to be revived too many times when I rush toward certain destruction. But Jack knows it is in my blood to fight. Finally, the nerds refuse to go back to the start when I no longer can be revived. Isaac says I am being a jerk, while I know he is just jealous. I catch him coming back from the bathroom and make a move to kiss him. He freaks and runs away. Of course, he tells Jack, as proof that I am unfaithful.
“I just wanted to show him that we have something he can’t give you,” I respond when Jack asks why I tried to seduce him.
“Now he thinks you’re a jerk.”
“Should we break up over what a piss ant thinks?”
“Never,” Jack gives me the kiss I am looking for.
Later, I call the frat where we’re playing that night.
“Hey, did you hear about last night’s gig? It got outta control,” I tell the social director.
“Yeah. Everyone’s pretty excited about tonight.”
“Well, I think we need to beef up security. We really pissed off some football jocks. I’m sure they’ll show up looking to even the score.”
“We’ve got football jocks. I’ll have ‘em at the door.”
“If they show, have ‘em come meet with us. We can negotiate a peace agreement.”
“Cool. Hey, did you really go through twenty kegs of beer? We may need more and charge a higher cover. It’s all you can drink once you get in.”
“You don’t run a cash bar?”
“It’s too much hassle. It seems you guys drive them to drink. We never go through more than a few kegs.”
“That means you’ve cut us out of our 25% bar percentage.”
“I wondered why that was in the contract.”
“You need to pay us 25% of the door if it includes liquor.”
“Okay, but can you tone it down so we don’t need to get twenty kegs.”
“Yeah. We’ve been playing bars where they want everyone to get drunk. We’ll do our concert set instead of inciting them to riot.”
“That’s a relief,” he says. “I just want to enjoy the party. You guys are great.”
“We know how to party.”
Next, I call Mom Watt about the possible danger to Stu and John because of what happened the previous night. Then I tell Stu that they cannot come tonight.
“We saved your asses when those jocks chased you up the tree. If we hadn’t started playing, they would have caught you, especially Jack. He looked like he was too afraid to climb.”
“He was. It was his first time. He did fine.”
“Well, those jocks were afraid to beat us up because we’re so young.”
“I think it might have been the girls dancing up front that stopped them.”
“Com’n, Tim. We had a great time. No one will attack us. You better be ready though.”
“You’re right. I’m not worrying about you guys ’cause you won’t be there.”
I laugh, which embarrasses Stu.
“Trust me, we want you there, but not tonight. There’ll be other nights even more exciting. You wanna go to Skynyrd, right?”
“Ah, Tim. You need us. Please?”
“Listen. We’re ‘sposed to meet those football players before the show. If they calm down, I’ll call Mom and ask her to drive you over. Okay?
“You’re not lying to me?”
“No way. Would I do that?”
“Yeah. ‘Cause you think you’re a big star now.”
“Good bye, Stu. I’m hanging up now.”
When we arrive at the frat to set up, the social chairman has three big, tough football players waiting for us. We never had security at our shows, just Iggy and Max, even at the Roadhouse gigs.
“You heard about the fracas at SAE last night?” I ask them.
“Yeah. Never piss off a lineman.”
“They chased us up a mango tree.”
“That didn’t stop you from tossing mangoes at them.”
“So you’ve heard their side of it?”
“Yeah. They want to even the score tonight.”
“The truth is, it made for a great finale to our set. We do that monkey song and usually everyone gets into mimicking the monkey chant. It’s never planned, so our singer just thought he could bounce off the biggest guy there. Bad choice.”
“So you wanna apologize?”
“Not exactly. How about we stage it this time and let Robby get caught? As long as they pull their punches, they can recover their lost pride. The crowd will love it.”
“You’re crazy. Those lunkheads may forget to pull their punches.”
“What if we get y’all into the Skynyrd show? Y’all can be security for us.”
“We’ll bring ‘em over before the show tonight. If they get rowdy, we know how to handle them.”
After setting up, we are off to Sorrento’s for our pizza, pot & beer warm up. I tell Jack about our plans for the monkey song. He likes that Robby gets his comeuppance yet not get hurt. Dave and Jazz are disappointed that the other Out-Crowd kids didn’t come.
“When I saw those goons charging straight at us, we almost dropped our instruments and ran.”
“Those girls dancing in front stopped ‘em cold. No way they could knock over girls and beat up 13-year-olds.”
“Hey, I’m fifteen now,” Dave complains.
“Well, act your age. We need you to roadie tonight. Who knows what might happen? Those same football players will be back.”
Jack cannot stop himself from giggling.
I can tell that the previous night’s football jocks are looking for blood. We meet them with the players from the frat. After some posturing, we make our argument.
“You guys were the hit of the show. We couldn’t have planned it any better. How about doing it again tonight?”
“Yeah, so a bunch of kids make us look like idiots?”
“No. You get to catch Robby this time. As long as you pull your punches, you can make it look like a total beat down.”
“And we’ll still look like idiots for beating up a 100 pound weakling.”
“Just drag him out. We’ll get everyone to chase you down fraternity row.”
“That’s cool. But we’ll still look like goons.”
“How about being stage security for us at the Skynyrd concert in two weeks.”
“Sure. We open for them at the Hydroplane Stadium.”
“You ain’t mad at us for tryin’ ta beat ya up?”
“Hell, no. Last night was our best show ever.”
“Well, what about the mangoes you threw at us?”
“We knew you wouldn’t climb the tree. We made a stand.”
“Well, what if we pelt you guys with rotten mangoes to get even.”
“Okay, but do it at the end when we start the monkey song. It’s called ‘Barefoot Boy.’
The show starts out with only our songs, no covers. We don’t need to incite beer throwing, so the mood is less radical. The crowd is huge, having heard about the previous night’s exploits and explosions. I can feel a sense of disappointment from the people who came expecting a riot. We take a break after we played all of Jack’s D&D inspired songs.
“No covers tonight?” Michael asks.
“We’re not getting anything from the bar. They pay at the door and get all the beer they can drink. We get a percentage of the door so there’s no reason to get them to throw beer at us.”
“It seems too tame after all those bar gigs.”
“Wait until the end,” as I wink at Jack.
Our second set is all the original songs about growing up in Miami leading up to the sex songs. No romantic ballads there. Then we do the only covers of the night, the Doors’ ‘Light My Fire,’
leading into ‘Love Her Madly.”
The second song builds the tempo and soon everyone is dancing and jumping about. The crowd knows what they love.
“We got in a little trouble last night and a bit of a riot. We can’t finish without playing our signature song, ‘Barefoot Boy.’”
Once I say the song’s title and we start playing, I see the jocks start pushing toward the front. Halfway through the song, a hail of rotten fruit starts pelting us and the fans in front. It has a sweet, stinky smell. We are soon covered with orange pus. Robby jumps on top of the amps again with the jocks right in front of him. I see the recognition in his eyes that it’s the same jocks from last night. He taunts them, jumping up and down.
“Ha ha ha
He he he
Haw haw haw
Chee chee chee”
The jocks have him cornered and start to climb on the riser to get at him. Robby recklessly launches himself at the biggest one. They are prepared for him tonight. He does bounce, once. Two others grab him and throw him to the floor. They’re punching and kicking Robby, who is squirming to get away. The girls are screaming and guys are yelling ‘mellow out, dude.’ Hippie grabs his bass at the neck and is about to attack. I hold him back,
“Wait ‘til the crowd gets more belligerent. We’ll chase them out of here.”
“Do something,” Hippie yells at everyone.
The jocks loosen their grip on Robby. He scrambles away, heading for the door with the jocks in hot pursuit.
“Stop them,” Jack screams into the mic.
About 50 guys set out after the jocks chasing Robbie. We drop our instruments and join the chase. Most of the girls are with us.
The front door is the only exit. The crush of the crowd makes it impossible for anyone to get out. By the time our posse is formed outside, the jocks are long gone. All the girls are praising Hippie for his quick response to the jocks’ attack. I tell Jack we will play a final song. It’s ‘Free Bird.’ Mary and Jack do their duet.
After the crowd is gone, the jocks reappear, carrying Robby on their shoulders. He produces the proverbial joint to mellow them out. Nothing like a good workout to inspire the jocks. They’re excited about Skynyrd. I guess we are, too.
We sleep at Jack’s that night, both having abstained from pot at Sorrento’s after the show. Continuing our romantic style of love-making, we only talk at first. We tell each other how we feel while fucking, how it makes us semi-hard all day long, knowing what we’ll be doing every night. We wonder why sex is easier for Jack when he is at my house.
“I got used to getting it on when Jace was staying with me. It was exciting that he was hiding out at my house.”
“Don’t you worry that someone will come in while we’re going at it?”
“The door is always locked. Of course, Robby used to come in through the window. The first time Jace and I got it on, Robby and Mary saw us humping each other while playing air guitar. Finally I saw them sitting on a branch watching, just as Jace threw me on the bed. He was diving on top of me to go at it some more. Mary was in shock. It was the night we formed the band.”
“What about you? Did you ever get it on with anyone before me?”
Jack turns red. “Well, at drama camp everyone was fooling around. Finally, I gave in to this hairy guy. He was 16 and I was 12.”
“Gross. That’s a molester.”
“It felt so weird. I was hard but couldn’t get off. He got frustrated and tried to fuck me. I ran away. We were in the woods.”
I look at him. Did he really get away or was he just saying so.
“I got raped in the woods by Floyd while I was fucking Wayne, the guys from North Carolina.”
“That sounds sexy if you were already fucking when he got you.”
“Yeah. They needed to think it was a rape to protect their straight identities.”
“I don’t believe you’d ever be violated. You’re so strong.”
I flex for him.
He is getting that misty-eyed look that says he is getting turned on. I roll him over and pull down his briefs.
“I knew you were getting turned on. Is it because you thought about me getting raped?”
“No, it was you fucking the hillbilly while the other one was on top of you.”
“It was a Southern pulled pork sandwich.”
We laugh and his dick goes down.
“You want to just cuddle?” I ask.
His dick perks up again.
“It has a mind of its own,” Jack laughs.
“Are you turned on when we play?”
“Oh yeah, that’s why I can’t keep my hands off of you.”
“You’re never shy on stage.”
“It’s like sex, we’re sharing our energy to get off.”
“Nice play, Shakespeare.”
“Yeah, I’m an egghead.
“You know what happens to eggs?” I ask him.
I jump on him. “They get scrambled.”
“Being romantic is messy,” I complain, after we are done.
“I love you,” Jack announces.
We had said it before. All the romancing makes it seem new and stunning.
“The first day, I said I loved you and it just keeps getting stronger and stronger,” I was surprised at how much saying it meant to me – more than ever before.
Jack starts to cry. I punch him, like Jace used to do to me.
“Being overwhelmed by love is a good thing,” I insist.
He gulps and looks at me, the tears falling onto me from his eyes. I catch them in my mouth and start another kissing session, licking his long eyelashes before the tears can form. He is very salty. We cum simultaneously. Not as much as before. We are fucked dry I collapse, instantly asleep.
I wake before Jack. He is curled next to me, his hand on the side of his face. It looks like his thumb is in his mouth. It is not, thankfully. That would freak me out. He is so beautiful, so fragile. I love his beauty. I love protecting him. He can be everything for me. That is a dangerous thought. I resolve to make him feel how much I love him. With Scott and Jace, I was the strong one. We never needed to express love in words. We knew what we felt. I have to do more with Jack. I want to be able to express my feelings with words. I think about the love song we discarded. It starts, “I wake up every day, you’re by my side. You reach to touch me, when I say good-bye. You stick around when we’re in a crowd. We smile when fools shout out loud.” Was it more a poem than a song. Maybe it is a ballad, like a sonnet. I start thinking about the play we are doing for English, ‘The Tempest.” I really hate it. All the plays within the play, people plotting, hate and more hate. Maybe we could do Shakespeare’s sonnets as a play. I need to read more. I know Jack would love doing the sonnets which are often love poems. I roll over and reflect on how romantic I am being. Maybe it is just a dream. It is good to think of something other than the band. Is the band consuming my life? I fall asleep. I dream we are on stage and everyone hates us. Max has his paw over his eye.
Jack wakes me later.
“Time for Isabelle’s Sunday breakfast, sleepy head.” He is always perky in the morning.
I’m glad to quickly forget my dreams.
Mommy and Daddy are already entertaining Father Frank with mimosas. First we go into the kitchen to give our breakfast orders. Isabelle smiles her best Mona Lisa smile when Jack orders everything but the kitchen sink. She knows it means he is happy. I tell her to just match everything Jack ordered.
“Y caramba,” she mock-complains.
“Morning, boys.” Mommy is cheerful as well. “Any songs for us today?”
“Mommy, we played the last two nights,” Jack complains.
“I have a short love song,” I venture. “I wrote it a while ago but was thinking about it this morning.”
“Is it about anyone we know?” Father Frank winks at me.
“Of course. Jack,” I happily announce.
Jack turns red, but Mommy looks pleased. “Please sing it, not to us, but to my boy.”
I get on one knee, which makes him turn from red to purple. I am secretly pleased.
“I wake up every day, you’re by my side.
You reach and touch me, when I say good-bye.
You stick around when we’re in a crowd.
We smile when fools shout out loud.
“I never thought I’d feel this way.
I go around happy every day.
Knowing you’re here to stay.
Don’t trust love but who can say?”
I stand up and sing the chorus to the adults.
“We can’t live all by ourselves.
We need people we can love
We hate those who hate themselves.
We know what we’re made of.”
Jack smiles despite himself. The adults show their ‘aren’t they cute’ look by their smiles.
Daddy pours two mimosas. “That happy song calls for fresh orange juice.”
We sit down in time for Isabel to arrive with our eggs and bacon. Jack can’t contain himself, grabbing me by the arm.
“We’re calling ourselves the New Romantics. It’s a new phase. We even talk in bed.”
“Too much information, honey,” Mommy complains. “As long as you’re happy.”
We both give her our most parent-pleasing smiles. It’s time to eat.
Jack whispers in my ear, “You wrote that this morning?”
“No, but after last night, it came into my head. The band rejected it as not rock.”
“It rocks my world,” and he hugs me.
Mommy is carefully watching us. She leans over and whispers to Father Frank. Something is up.
Father Frank clears his voice. “I got a call from Cardinal Cook. He’s asking about you two. He’s so impressed by your passion and the good works you started for youth.”
“How are the Jace’s Place shelters doing? The Baptists and Church fighting yet?” I ask.
“Not to my knowledge. The Cardinal assigned the Franciscans to run the Catholic shelters.” He looks conflicted when he says that.
“Are they as gay friendly as you are?”
“Now why would you say that?”
“You’ve never batted an eye at Jack and my antics, our PDA.”
“Regardless of Church doctrine, I can see that the way you are together is nothing but natural.”
“Thanks. But just now you seemed unsure about the brothers running the shelters. Do you think they’ll condemn kids for same-sex attractions?”
“I’ve been to Ireland and France and seen just the opposite. The brothers there notoriously molest young seminarians.”
“You mean adults abusing kids?”
“You need to read Oscar Wilde.”
“Like letting the fox in the hen-house?”
“Is that why the Church is so against gays? There are so many gay priests. They are controlled by oppressing the kids?” Jack asks.
“The Church is confused about sex. It requires priests to be celibate. Then turns a blind eye when they stumble, often innocently, such as the rural priest who becomes attracted to his housekeeper.”
“What about forgiveness?”
“Jesus loves a sinner.”
“But only if they repent. It would be wrong to believe that what Jack and I do is evil.”
”You don’t have to convince me, boys. I just worry that the Church is so out of touch about sex that it protects its own while neglecting those who need its protection.”
“So probably some Brother will try to take advantage of a homeless kid?”
“The odds are not good.”
“What if we create a climate where kids protect each other? Any adult who steps over the line can be instantly weeded out.”
“The Brothers won’t like ceding control to the kids.”
“But that’s a basic premise. Homeless kids can’t help themselves until they take control of their own lives. That’s what we’re teaching, not rules about sex and relationships.”
“What’s the point?” Jack asks obviously bored with this conversation.
“The point is to allow kids to be safe from the streets, not make them victims to another group of predators.”
Jack just shrugs. He did not know Jace well enough to realize how broken he was until he took control of his life. He moved in with me and we discovered his talent as a musical prodigy. His legacy was to help other broken kids. Jack was repressed when we met, not broken. I know to drop my Crusader Rabbit cloak.
“I’ll certainly keep in touch with the Cardinal and forward your ideas. He also wants to know how well you are. He believes in you, Tim. He asked what your college plans are.”
I laugh and wink at Jack. “I was a dropout last Fall. Now I’m on the college track?”
“Com’n, Tim. This is what we talked about. Thinking about where we want to be in a few years,” Jack is more interested.
“Like I’d want to go to a college where people like Jace’s molester brother Jeff go.’
“No, like Europe or Japan. We could have a completely new life.”
“Totally, no D&D allowed.”
Mommy interject, “You boys can go to school in Switzerland next year. Learn French, German and Italian.”
I see Jack’s eyes light up. Anything new always grabs his attention.
“What about the band? We’re about to play a major concert.”
“You boys are so talented; you can have a band anywhere.”
“The band’s about us all being friends and sharing the fun and excitement.”
I feel they are ganging up on me, even Jack.
“Well, think about it.” Mommy states. “You should not want to live a life where your ultimate experiences happen in high school,”
I want to argue. I want Jack on my side. I decide to change the subject.
“I’m concerned about our English class performance. We’ve been doing ‘The Tempest,” but I think it stinks. I want to take Shakespeare’s Sonnets and produce a romantic comedy.”
Jack’s eyes light up. “When did you have that idea?”
“This morning when I was remembering that love song for you.”
“Oh, Tim. That would be so great.”
I see Father Frank give Mummy a pointed look. Love trumps parental intrigue.
“You fell for their trap?” I ask Jack when we go back for seconds.
“You mean spending next year in Europe?” He looks confused.
“Oh, Jack. I want to be with you forever. But don’t break up the band.”
“Is that why you want to do the sonnets? So we don’t want to leave.”
“I don’t wanna leave and will never let you leave me,” I grab him and kiss him really hard.
“You’re so bad,” he giggles
Father Frank is waiting for us, by the door, when we get our bikes to go to the Watt’s.
“I didn’t say anything in front of your mother, Jack. The Cardinal has petitioned the Pope to verify Tim’s miracle on Easter Sunday.”
“I just got carried away,” I laugh. “I doubt the Pope wants a gay rocker for a saint.”
“Teen Jesus,” he remind me.
“Is that why you want to lock me up in a monastery in Switzerland?”
“Montreux,” he tells me.
“You’re serious,” and I look wide-eyed at Jack.
“That’s where Freddie Mercury lives, from Queen,” Jack is enthusiastic
“Perfect. We can dress up in surplices and habits, pretending to be little princesses to the Queen.”
“It’ll be cool, Tim,” Jack bursts out.
I swat him on the back of his head. Father Frank’s eyes bug out.
“Sorry, Father, we have fucking to do,” as I drag Jack up the stairs to his bedroom. Jack is elated.
When we get to the room, he exclaims, “I love it when you boss me around.”
“Well, don’t expect me to be a New Romantic.”
I throw him on the bed, pull down his jeans and briefs, and we go at it. I slap him.
“I love you,” I scream at him.
As I reach to kiss him, he bites my lip, drawing blood.
“I love you” he responds with a taunt in his eye.
I spit the blood on him and lick it up. His orgasm done, he falls unconscious. I stop myself from slapping him awake. I want to mount him but refrain. I’m instantly asleep. It’s 11 am.
When I wake up, Jack was coming in from the pool, drying his hair and wrapped in a big robe.
“It’s hot out there,” he jumps into bed with me.
“Not as hot as in here,” as I grab the towel, vigorously drying his hair.
“I’ll turn the A/C up.”
“No, you won’t,” as I stop him from getting out of bed.”
“No more,” he pleads. “I just spent twenty minutes massaging my sore ass in the hot tub. No more, please.”
“I’ll bet you had Isaac in their too, to kiss your ass and make it better.”
We both sputter into hysterics.
“You’re so cruel,” he complains.
“No more New Romantics for you,” I mock him. “we’re the New Ramones.”
We both sing ‘Beat on the Brat.” Attitude is everything.