Sunday dinner at the restaurant has us silently contemplating our acceptance at church. No one is gloating. I realize how important this acceptance is for the moms. My old Miami self would only be thinking on how it affects me personally, regardless of others. Will I shut down my pranks and antics in public from now on to avoid causing difficulty for the moms in their community? Maybe.
Our spirits lift when ‘Gator shows up. He isn’t going to wait on the porch this Sunday for us to return.
“Where’s the posse?” I quiz him.
“They’s still passed out from last night’s party. The bowling team may have some female changes.”
“I thought we agreed that girlfriends had to be cheerleaders, not bowling partners, to avoid this kinda problem.”
“Well, you know girls. They kin gets funny ideas when ya ask ‘em to be yer pardner.”
“Brokens hearts or just hurt feelings last night?” I ask.
“Jist gots ta see how it all plays out.”
“So what’s the plan, Stan?”
“Well, I gots a favor ta ask of y’all. Kin we keep it on the down low ‘bout my tears yesterday. I gots a reputation ta protect. I ain’t never cried since Mrs. East won’t let me go to the bathroom in kindergarten.”
“We was all cryin,’ ‘Gator. Y’all gots caught up in the moment with us,” I explain.
“Cain’t be lookin’ weak out on the field.”
“Best not ta care. Ya feel bad runnin’ over some opposing quarterback?”
“Yer right, Andy. I don’t cares what anyone thinks. I’m ‘Gator, hear me roar.”
We all laugh. Desserts arrive, which he finishes off for us. We are still full from breakfast.
We spend the afternoon playing music and singing. When the musical spirit leaves us, we do our homework.
“Gator, I gots an idea for our English class play. We’s doin’ ‘Little House on the Prairie’ for Christmas assembly. You wanna be in the play,” I appeal to our shared need to perform.
“I love that show,” he quickly agrees. Why aren’t I surprised?
“It’s the ‘Plum Creek Christmas’ episode from last year.”
“When Ma gits the stove,” he confirms he’s a fan.
“We needs ya to play Bunny.”
“The pony? How’s that gonna work?”
“We’ll spice up the action. Bunny will show off on stage. It’ll be real funny. Ya kin bite that nasty Nellie Oleson.”
The twins are staring at me with their mouths wide open
“I gots ta be on my hands an’ knees.”
“Naw, we’ll get one of them two-man horse outfits. Noah can be the rear end.’
“A horse’s ass,” he quips.
“’Gator?” both girls complain.
“Ya wanna do it? I gots ta git Mrs. McCarthy to approve.”
“Sure. S’long as I don’t havta cry. Guess there’s no lines to learn?”
“Maybe a neigh or two. You kin improvise.”
“Naaaay,” he improvises.
‘Gator leaves when it’s time for my Pizza Pit shift. When I get back, Mom’s pot roast dinner is warming in the oven. My appetite has returned. Looking in the mirror with my shirt off, I’m glad to see I’m filling out again, not so scrawny, just skinny. Maybe I’ll work out for bowling.
I call Tommy. Even though I still think about him a lot, I didn’t want him to know it. It makes me feel like a perv. Still I’m never horny, so I figure I just miss my little brother.
“Hi, Auntie Em. Tommy being good?’
“That you, Huck? Ever since you called him, he’s been an angel. Sometin’ ‘bout wantin’ to visit Iowa over Christmas. That yer doin?’”
“Only if’n y’all don’t mind him bein’ gone fer the holidays.”
“He’s a real joy in our lives. We kin celebrate later. We jist like seeing him happy. Ya wanna speak with ‘im?”
“You is so polite. I’ll git ‘im.”
He’s out of breath when he gets on the line.
“Oh, Huck,” he sighs.
“I hears ya bin good.”
“I gots ta git permission to come visit.”
“Sounds like it’s gonna happen.”
“Sure. My friend Hippie and his pregnant wife are driving to his gran and gramp’s near here. They’s said ya can git a ride with ‘em.”
“Are they’s real old, havin’ a baby.”
“Naw, they’s our age. Got hitched at sixteen.”
“We’s the same age now?” he sounds real hopeful.
“Now don’t be makin’ plans. I thought you had a girlfriend.”
“Yeah, but I still wants ya real bad. I don’ts think o’ her in bed, jist you.”
My dick has responded for the first time since forever. I’m glad but the perv thing worries me.
“Jist say ya wants me too. I’ll even let’s ya fuck me like that one time it happened by mistake.”
I’m leaking already. If he keeps talking about it, I’ll mess myself, like he used to do when I teased him about it when he was fourteen. Maybe I’m experiencing second puberty. He notices that my breathing quickened.
“Yer getting’ hard, too?” he whispers. “I’s rock hard jist thinkin’ ‘bout it.”
That does it. I mess myself. My panting tells him everything.
“Oh my god, my god, oh my god. Ah,ah ,yeah….” He isn’t quite as quick as me but it makes my dick stay hard thinking about him. I’m a definite pervert, picturing his 14 year-old self.
“This is so wrong,” I tell him.
“I knew you’d want me. I jist hadta wait. I’ll be sixteen soon and I growed a lot this fall. And it growed, too.”
“You are so gullible. I was jist fakin’ it.’”
“No way. Now I’s all covered in cum.”
“Sorry, Tom. It was too easy ta fool ya.”
“You liar. I know ya cummed. I can feel it.”
“Well, ya enjoyed it, so don’t complain, jist ‘cause its all in yer head. I love ya, Tom.”
“Ya do? I loves ya too, even if yer always mean ta me.”
“Still comin’ ta visit.”
“Sure. But don’ts ya be so mean.”
“Okay, but don’t be so gay.”
It feels so weird, getting off without touching myself – probably due to the buildup from a month of asexuality after the rape. Now I have to sneak up to my room without having to explain the huge wet spot on the front of my jeans. Thinking ahead, I dial Flo, my go-to gal. She is pleased. I promise to call every Sunday night. I tell her that Hippie and Anna plan to drive to Iowa for Christmas. Maybe she and Edi can come. She sighs and reminds me that her parents still have her on virginity watch.
“You hear from Jack-off?”
I laugh. “Just when I called him from his folks last month.
“How’s he doing?”
“They have him locked away in a Swiss seminary. The monks watch him day and night.”
“It was such fun when we were all together.”
“Yeah. Maybe a reunion this summer?”
“Great. Everyone misses you, Tim.”
“Ya know what? Everyone calls me Andy now.”
“You’re crazy. Why’d you change it? Trying to forget who you are and your old friends?”
“Naw. It’s the new band with my twin step-sisters – The Triplets. We’re Amy, Angie and Andy –it just fits right.”
“No hitting on your sisters, now.”
“That would be sick. We all live together. I’m off sex now, anyways.”
“Sounds like ya miss me,” she suggests hopefully. My weird dick perks up again.
“I do, Flo. Seems like you and Hippie are all the friends I have left in Miami.”
“Well, call next Sunday. My dad’s got that look. I gotta get off.”
“I promise,” avoiding having to say I have to get off too. Again.
“Bye, Andy. I love ya.”
“Me, too, Florinda.” We both laugh.
I quickly go up to the third floor, but the girls are waiting for me. I try to finesse the wet spot situation by casually ignoring it. Nothing gets by teen sisters.
“Looks like someone got a bit too excited,” Angie isn’t shy. They both giggle.
“Yeah. I asked Flo if she could come visit for Christmas. Her pops won’t let her out of his sight.”
“Well, take a shower and change. You smell funny,” as they continue to make faces. Sisters!
In English class on Monday, I stay after to discuss plans for the Christmas performance with Mrs. McCarthy.
“I asked Brock from the football team if he’ll play the role of Bunny, the pony, using it as a comic foil on stage.”
“You’d change the script. Laura Ingalls Wilder may not approve”
“Since she died in 1957, it’s too difficult to get her approval.”
“Or, disapproval,” Mrs. McCarthy gives me a wry smile. “What role will you play?”
“If you allow me to adapt the script to our purposes, I could work with you as the director’s assistant. I still could do the Christmas music. I’m a better musician than actor.”
“And, Brock as a pony, can he act?”
“Well, he’d have to be a full horse, due to his size. Ya shoulda saw ‘im at the State football game on Saturday. He had all 15,000 fans a’goin’ crazy with his antics.”
“Please use proper English in class; it’s ‘you should have seen.’ Were you the band they wrote about in Sunday’s paper?”
“Yes, ma’am. But that writer was in the minority. All the students love our music. It really inspires the team. They almost won.”
“Well, you know it is the adults who make these decisions in this world.”
“Yes’m. We probably won’t be asked back. It sure was fun playing to that many people.”
“Andy, you’re a wonderful boy. If even half the class has half your enthusiasm, it’ll make my year. What gave you the idea to make Bunny the comic element in this sentimental play?”
“Last year, we put on ‘A Midsummer’s Night Dream,’ and Thisbee is a jackass in a play within the play.”
“You mean a donkey?” she corrected me.
“Yes, ma’am. But the kids who saw it really loved him as an ass.”
We both laugh.
“Well, consider yourself as my assistant director. Let me know what else you come up with before springing it on the players.”
“Well, sometimes spontaneous ideas just pop up.”
“I’m keeping my eye on you, then. I’m looking forward to it.”
“Me, too, Mrs. McCarthy.”
On Tuesday, Molly makes me an appointment with the zen shrink, Dr Kamikaze. Memories of the faux counseling I received at The Program make me wary.
“Is your name really Dr. Kamikaze?” I ask to start the session.
“I have a doctorate in adolescent psychology and a medical degree in psychiatry. Or, are you asking about my surname?”
“Well, isn’t kamikaze a Japanese suicide bomber who crashes into American battleships?”
He laughs. “Do you know who Genghis Khan was?”
“Sure, the hordes from the steppes of Mongolia.”
“Right. When his grandson, Kublai Khan, attempted to invade Japan in the 13th Century, two great typhoons destroyed the Mongol fleet. We Japanese believe we were saved by the gods of the elements who sent the typhoon winds, kamikaze in Japanese, to protect them.”
I’m impressed. He has my attention.
“Your mom says you believe in spirits,” he segued from history to me.
“I see spirits and have learned to communicate with them.”
Now I have his attention.
“How do you do that?” he seems genuinely interested. “Is it always the same spirits?”
“Yes, my boyfriend who was killed by his step-brother and his dog.”
“Yes, but not exclusively. I have a spirit friend I call Guardian, like Charon from Roman mythology. When I was holding Jace’s dead hand at the ER, the Guardian brought his spirit back to me. He lives in my heart. His dog Max was killed by the police.”
“You seem to have experienced a lot of violence. Can you see Jace now?”
“Yeah, he’s questioning if we should be telling you all this.”
“How do you communicate with him?”
“At first we learned to use sign language. Now we can use telepathy. I also ask my heart what he thinks about difficult problems.”
“Can he talk with me?”
“He knows if you have an open heart. Then you can feel him touch you. I feel you are open-hearted. That’s why I’m telling you everything. Do you want him to touch you?”
Jace is smiling gleefully at the first time we have done this openly with an adult.
“Of course,” he answers.
Jace puts both hands on his shoulders, emanating a glow that surrounds us.
“That’s amazing,” the doctor admits. The glow intensifies.
We smile at each other.
“I’m not sure I should feel so strongly about you. I may not be able to help you if I lose my impartiality.”
“One of my problems is I love too many people at the same time. I tell them they are in my heart, with Jace and Jesus. The heart is just a muscle that expands with exercise. Love is a workout.”
“Speaking of Jesus, I read reports this past year about a phenomenon called ‘Teen Jesus.’ The Franciscans and Baptists are running homeless shelters for teens because a teenager died and was resurrected at Easter.”
“They’re called ‘Jace’s Place.’ Are you Catholic?”
“More Shinto, but I was raised Catholic.”
“That’s why it’s so easy to love you. You have Jesus in your heart already. He’s lonely when you don’t love others.”
He reaches over and touches my cheek, smiling and holding my attention.
“Well, now that we’ve established that we love each other,” he remarks easily, “what can I do to help you? Why are you in therapy. Do you think you are Teen Jesus?”
“I always deny that, but maybe it does get me into trouble. Jace is a parable of Jesus, but as a teenager. He suffered, died and was resurrected, but he also was a rowdy teen, drinking, smoking pot, playing rock n roll, chasing girls, and being my boyfriend. I’m the first person who loved him. All his life, his love had been locked away by abuse. When it got released, it was overwhelming. Ten thousand people came to his memorial concert. Our band played for six straight hours .”
“Slow down. Let’s try to understand why you’re troubled by all this.”
“I’m not. I feel incredibly lucky. It’s the acting out that causes me trouble.”
“You were hospitalized right after you got to Ames.”
“Yeah. I had a bad trip. Too many sick rides hitch hiking,” it comes rushing out.
He doesn’t say anything, just holds my hand. The glow intensifies. I feel better.
Finally he lets go of my hand.
“I think we’ve made a good start, Andy. Sometimes it takes months for a patient to open up.”
“I’m not very patient. I’m only young once.”
“You’re also very wise. I think you will feel better for having told someone. Am I’m the first you’ve told about the abuse? You’ve made progress but it’s not unusual to regress after exposing deep hurt. Let’s keep meeting once a week, but if you feel anxious or any other negative emotions, you can call me anytime.” He gives me his card, writing his home telephone number on the back.
We stand up and hug, smiling deeply at each other. He knows I’m gay. I know instantly he isn’t. We have a strong sense of balance between us. I dance out of the session with an unburdened heart.
I go immediately to work. The two hours fly by without my good feelings diminishing. I walk in the house, giving Mom a big hug. I swing her around as if we’re dancing. I do the same with Molly.
“Thank you for sending me to Dr. Kam,” I tell her.
“He worked his magic, I see.”
“We both worked magic. I really love him. He wants me to come back each week.”
The girls are more skeptical.
“What happened to you?” Angie asks.
“Psychotherapy, Psychotherapy,” I sing.
“Ya must’ve needed it, if it makes you so whacked out.”
“Whack-a-Mole,” I yell. They oblige by repeatedly whacking me on the head with pillows. I keep bouncing back. Life in the zoo.
Time starts to fly by as I settle into the daily grind of school, job, choir, therapy, and life at Hyland House. We’re asked not to participate with the marching band at State football games. All I can say is they are a dispirited team, losing all their remaining games, six in a row. ‘Gator remains a steadfast cheerleader on the sidelines, telling everyone to wait until next year when he will be a freshman. We do play with the high school band at his games. They’re already spirited and win all their scheduled games to remain undefeated. ‘Gator is next year’s great white hope for State.
The ban on rock n roll at State Stadium riles several groups of college students. They organize a rally for free speech at which we play our fight songs. Afterwards several fraternities ask if we will play Christmas parties before everyone leaves for the holidays. We agree to play at Kappa Sig on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Naturally we tell all our high school friends who insist they’re ‘with the band’ to gain entrance. There is a big uproar about under-age drinking which shuts down the show before we finish. ‘Gator has been at the door and knows how much is taken in as cover for the open bar. After the police leave, the social director tries to stiff us on our 25% of the door. Once ‘Gator intervenes with his own headcount, they grudgingly pay us. I call the other frats and cancel the Christmas shows due to the police problem at Kappa Sig. High school invading the college crowd’s domain is not going to work in Iowa. The moms are relieved and the twins doubly so.
Thanksgiving day is more fun. The whole bowling team, including girls, come over after everyone has celebrated at home. A massive jam of pop, folk and country music ensues, everyone singing along to the twins’ record collection We also teach them to sing, with mixed results, to the cover songs we all know. Donovan’s ‘Atlantis’ rules.
I try to get all the girls dancing to ‘Spirit in the Sky.’ They say my arm waving makes me look like a holy roller, expecting me to fall to the floor. I instantly fall down and continue to sing the vocals in what everyone thinks are tongues.
The moms cook a 25 pound turkey. What we eat in the afternoon is nothing compared to what the team consumes as turkey sandwiches after dark. The Pizza Pit is closed for the holiday. The thought of turkey pizza turns my stomach but makes me crave just a slice from Sorrento’s. I wish. I call Flo who bemoans not being able to come for Christmas. I tell her to go to Sorento’s to remember our bathroom escapades. And she can send me a slice. The slice arrives more than slightly ripe. It’s a long way from Miami to Aims by mail. I tell ‘Gator all the nasty places where the slice may have been to stink so badly.
Dr. Kam is keeping me calm, thankfully without medication. Choir allows me to work out my performance addiction. Having to use the twins’ car every evening works to their advantage. Whenever they need a ride, they get boys to drive them. I enjoy watching how well they manipulate the boys. The bowling team is tight, but we lack competitiveness. It seems that all the little towns we play have nothing to do other than bowl during the long winters. They actually can bowl. ‘Gator refuses to allow us to put participation trophies up at the Clubhouse. Saturday mornings at the bowling alley changes from team practices to team tournaments of three or more local high schools. We are slowly improving but care less about winning – maybe by the time of the State Championship, which is scheduled for late March. We introduce the visitors to the Pizza Pit, making it the highlight of the Saturday competitions. ‘Gator declares himself team president. Football Coach ‘Red’ Ball contacts his coaching friends at other schools to organize their own bowling teams. It is a natural winter sport for football players. The main difference is every team pair has a girl. The social possibilities help in recruiting players. Most schools quickly join the league. The coaches reserve judgment about co-ed teams, worrying about teen pregnancy. Actual coaching proves impossible as every player is always giving advice and pointers. It is Saturday; no one listens to teachers on Saturday, except maybe math-letes. I get a 25 cent raise from my Pizza Pit manager for bringing in all the extra business. I can care less; it’s the tips that is putting money in my pocket. I turn over my paychecks to the moms who are beginning to complain about the excessive calls to Miami. I’m so tempted to call Jack in Switzerland. The toll rate is over $1 a minute. Instead I call Mummy in Miami. She passes along messages about my new life. She tells me Jack is singing French hymns in the school choir. I tell her I was singing in tongues, which makes her laugh. She threatens to tell Father Frank that I’m continuing to turn into a Baptist. I ask her to omit telling him that the choir I’m in is Baptist.
Our English class presentation of the Little House on the Prairie Christmas episode is moving along. Two girls both want to play Laura; Tish is a pretty blonde and Tammy, a plainer brown-hair girl.
“What is a memorable scene for Laura?” I ask in my role as Assistant Director.
“Oh, when she sticks out her tongue at Nellie Oleson,” they both exclaim.
“Let’s see how you would do that,” I direct them.
Both girls stuck their tongues out at each other, making weird faces. I chose Tish to be Nellie and Tammy as Laura. They continue to stick their tongues out at each other.
Tish complains to Mrs. McCarthy, “Why can’t I be Laura?’ She’s used to getting her way.
“It takes more acting skill to play a villain,” Mrs. McCarthy backs me up. “And the Laura character has many more lines to memorize.
Tish continues her pout with several boys whispering their support. She beams at them and continues to scowl at me.
Mrs. McCarthy directs me to a costume supply company in Chicago. We order the two-man horse outfit. ‘Gator is anxious to start rehearsing. I tell him that the outfit will require getting used to. He agrees to start once it arrives. Noah is less excited about being the horse’s ass. All of us including the posse start telling him ‘don’t be such an ass.’ I work with him on ideas on how to get laughs, like kicking Pa in the butt when he isn’t looking.
“Is that in the script?” he asks, unsure on exactly what improvising is.
“Just watch what ‘Gator does and follow his lead. It has to be spontaneous.”
As the Christmas Break approaches, I bring my guitar and practice amp to play carols and seasonal songs. The horse outfit arrives. We add sleigh bells to the costume. Every time “Gator and Noah prance on stage, I play ‘Jingle Bell Rock,’
When Bunny is offstage, I play ‘Winter Wonderland.’
Mrs. McCarthy likes this musical addition so much that she asks for volunteers from the non-role-playing students to be the chorus. She works with those who pass her ’can you carry a tune’ standard. We also plan to do ‘Silent Night’ for the Santa and chimney scene as they all go to bed. We chose ‘Little Town of Bethlehem’ for the finale when the star is placed on the top of the tree.
“I hope you’re happy,” Mrs. McCarthy complains. “You turned a simple TV episode into a Broadway Christmas musical.”
“What better way to study Laura Ingalls Wilder. I did get a message from her on our adaptation.”
“She speak to you from beyond the grave?”
“Sort of. I found it in Bartlett’s Quotations;
‘Remember me with smiles and laughter, for that is how I will remember you all. If you can only remember me with tears, then don’t remember me at all.’
The holidays are upon us. Hippie and Anna plus 1 are relaxed and looking forward to the grandparent visit. Tommy is total anxiety, still waiting for Foster Care’s approval of a visit outside Florida. That Hippie and Anna are married and can chaperon Tommy is in his favor, since no one lets on that the married couple are both only 17. That he has a history of running away is a black mark. Just days before they have to leave, approval is granted. We speak often on the phone; he is so needy; somehow that tweaks my boner every time. I’m a total rescuer. Luckily his foster parents have already rescued him. Last minute drama ensues when his bullying older brother and several friends come over just to harass the boy. He stands up to them, is beaten down, and the brother is arrested and sent to juvie. Tommy has minor injuries plus another black eye. He is terrified that his visit will be cancelled. The police report exonerates him, determining that he was only defending himself in an unprovoked attack. He laughs when we discuss how badly his brother will be treated at The Program.
The night after the drama is resolved, I have another of my strange dreams. The Little House performance is the setting, the Christmas morning distribution of gifts at the tree. The manger under the tree has a mini-Tommy as baby Jesus. When Bunny is led in to be given to Nellie, the mini-Tommy rushes out and jumps on the horse’s back. ‘Gator rears up and trots off stage. Tommy slides down the horse’s back, grabbing onto the tail for support. From there, he proceeds to molest Noah, the horse’s ass. I wake up in a sweat, relieved it isn’t a wet-dream. I lay back worrying that I’m a big drama queen. I wonder if Noah might be gay. In my dreams.
My weekly sessions with Dr. Kamikaze allow me to openly discuss my sexuality. He wasn’t fazed when I said I was gay. I go another step and discuss my attraction to girls as well as my misgivings about pursuing 15-year-old Tommy. It all centers on the Teen Jesus proscription that youths only explore their sexuality with those their same age. Dr. Kam notes that I haven’t been sexual since the abuse, suggesting that I should allow my normal horniness to return before trying to figure out the intricacies of my own sexuality. I appreciate his relative objectivity about moral issues. He asks if Teen Jesus is an attempt to apply hippie free love to the uptight straight world. It is food for thought and leads us to a discussion on how well I’m adapting to the conservative Mid-West compared to the hedonistic attitudes I embraced in Miami.
“I guess I’m a different person here. No pot, alcohol or other illegal activity since the barn party, no sex drive propelling me into high school dramas.”
“These are admirable conscious efforts to help you fit in. But what about the unconscious, anything bubbling up that conflicts with the ‘new’ you?”
“Well, I do lie to Tommy when he notices that I’m getting turned on by our phone conversations.”
“Sounds like a hard-on is a wake-up call from the subconscious. Do you feel guilty.”
“Freudians would say it’s a classic id-ego conflict.”
“More like a super-id/super-ego problem. I actually get off on the phone sex but lie to Tommy rather than admit it.”
“What happens when he comes for Christmas? Do the moms know he’s coming?”
“Uhm, that’s a problem I need to resolve.”
“You bet. Not just telling the moms, but how are you planning to hide your obvious sexual excitement?”
“You know me too well.”
“How did you deal with it when you lived together in the wild?”
“It was pretty wild. We even had a panther watching us every night, while we sang and acted like a couple in love.”
Dr. Kam obviously likes the animism of that image and its relation to Shintoism.
“So it’s more than attraction. You’ve already been having sex.”
“Yeah, and he’s only 15. I feel like a pervert.”
“Well, you were only 16 then.”
“Yeah, but he was only 14. I always saw him as a kid. He crushed on me so badly, it became a turn-on.”
“You are messing yourself up sexually. You were alone together for months. Its called propinquity, the effects of nearness and frequency in forming romantic bonds.”
“There’s a name for my condition.”
“It’s not pathological, it’s normal.”
“I’m not sure it’s right. I feel like a pervert.”
“So how did it work out in the wild? Were you able to accommodate each other?”
I didn’t tell him how accommodating Tommy’s was.
“Yeah. I kept saying we were like brothers, not lovers. The sex tapered off to just mutual masturbation, but he knew I loved him, just not as an equal. I was even mean to him, like an older brother would be.”
“What was it like when you were around others at the hippie campground?”
“I said that he was crushing on me like hero-worship, hugging me a lot and always being together.”
Then I tell Dr. Kam the ‘Gatorsaurus legend as my effort to get Tommy to see I was as chicken-shit as anyone.
“How did that work?”
“I had to get weapons to attack the ‘gator the next time.”
“Sounds like you need the hero-worship, similar to your need to always be the center of attention, your performance addiction.”
“I’m pretty messed up, huh?”
“I think you’re pretty great. The trouble is you draw the line on right and wrong a lot further from where everyone else does. Teen Jesus gives you that privilege. I called the church in NYC and asked about the Jace’s Place project. They’ve helped hundreds of kids escape the streets. You get a lot of credit for that.”
“Why am I so hard on myself?”
“Sound like anyone else in your upbringing?”
“Not atypical in growing up.”
“So, I should just let my dick tell me what’s right.”
“No, you should let your heart tell your dick how to act.”
“Sounds like Teen Jesus.”
“Jesus wasn’t always a teenager. He grew up into something, something else.”
“You like Teen Jesus, huh?”
“I love Teen Jesus,” and he gives me a hug.
I always feel great after our sessions.
But I still have to deal with Tommy. I call as soon as I get home.
“Hey, Huck. I didn’t ‘spect ya ta call so soon.”
“Ya gots official permission ta come?”
“Sure. I’s already packed. The fosters are celebrating later, so I bets I gits lots o’ underwear and socks.”
“That’s pretty funny, Bets ya gits shirts and pants, too.”
“Yeah. They’s purdy cool. I even boughts ‘em presents.”
“I called ‘cause we needs to fix the butt lust fever ‘fore ya gits here.”
He laughs. “That’s what ya calls it, butt lust. I’s gots it fer shure.”
“Well, I bin lyin’ ta ya. I gots it too whenever y’all git all steamed up on the phone.”
“Is I old ‘nuff, now,” he is trembling with excitement and anticipation.”
“That ain’t it, Tommy. We’s still a’growin’ up. Question is, am I’s yer brother or lover? Cain’t be both.”
“Why not?” he complains.
“Cause lovers burn out. It never lasts. Brothers is fer life.”
“I wants ya in my life fer ever, Huck. I loves ya so much,” he starts crying.
“Don’t cry,” I order in my mean brother voice.
He gulps and stops. “What’s I gotta do?”
“Yer doin’ so good with the fosters. You’re doin’ it. I’s doin’ good here. It’s the fever from the butt lust that scares me. If we start screwin’ agin, we’ll mess up.”
“I promise I won’ts mess up, Huck. I’ll be anythin’ ya wants, jist ta be with ya’s.”
I realize how messed up that could be. I love him too much to make him be what he isn’t. I just want him to tone it down. I’m being such a closet case.
“I don’t wants that, Tommy. I loves ya fer who ya really are. All them adventures and troubles, we’s a team. The sex drove ya to me, don’t let it drive me away.”
“We cain’t have sex?” Oh, the mind of 15-year-olds.
“Ain’t no way we ain’t havin’ sex the first time we’s alone.”
“Oh, no, no. Shit I jist messed myself.”
“You are so cute,” I laugh.
“Jist like it was when we built the camp. Ya hold me back, then I cain’t helps myself. I cum too soon when we finally gets to it.”
“Lookin’ forward to Iowa?”
“Yeah, but clean briefs will do fer right now,” we both laugh.
“Brothers and lovers?” I ask to see if he understands.
“Tryin’ ta make babies with each other,” he responds.
Direction by misdirection. How was that going to work? I’ll tell the bowling team it’s all just affection. ‘Gator will stick up for me.
Time to get permission from the moms for Tommy to stay with us. I march into the living room where they’re reading and finishing projects from work.
“I think we should speak about the phone bill. You haven’t said anything, but I got the job to pay for my long-distance calls.”
“We haven’t said anything but do know you call your friends a lot. It’s not the expenses. We worry they might be a bad influence on you.”
“You think my friends are bad?”
“All parents have that concern. You’ve been an angel since you got here. The twins totally trust you. Our job is to watch for warning flags.”
“I know you trust me.”
“Sure and coming to us on your own about the phone bill is just an example of what a fine boy you are. But moms never stop worrying.”
“Well, I have a request. Maybe if’n ya says yes, it might help you to see that all my Florida friends ain’t so bad.”
“’If you say yes, they are not so bad,’” Mom correct me.
“Sorry. I jist git/just get so excited I slip up.”
“That’s what moms do, catch you when you fall.”
“Well, I’m hoping my friend from the Everglades can come visit for Christmas.”
“We already plan to welcome your friend from the band and his teen bride.”
“Tommy got permission to ride here with them. Hippie and Anna will stay with his Mima and Pipa in Harlan County. Can Tommy stay here, please?”
“He’s not from the band?”
“No, we called ourselves Tom and Huck, livin’ it up in the Everglades.”
“So can he stay?”
“May he..” Mom corrects me.
“May he, Moms? We’ll move down to the second floor so as not to annoy the twins.”
“Do his parents know about these plans?”
“He’s in placement with a foster family. He had to get permission from the County to leave the State. His foster parents love me. They think I’m a good influence on him. He’s only fifteen.”
“It seems a little unusual to be so excited about someone younger than you.”
I flash on the thought that Dr. Kam has been talking to them about me and my sexuality.
“Dad has told us you had both girlfriends and boyfriends in Miami,” Mom informs me that they are not clueless. “We certainly are not anything but supportive of that.”
“I would hope so,” as I wink at them and their choices. “I call him my little brother. He definitely crushes on me which is crazy. But our friends just accept us as typical brothers. We even had a band, called the Hillbilly Brothers.”
“Sometime you need to tell us all about your adventures as a fugitive.”
“That’s something we can do when Tommy’s here. He’s the one who embellishes the ‘Gatorsaurus legend. Once he gets talking ya cain’t stop him.”
“Cannot stop him, Andy.
“Okay. So he can come visit?”
“Of course. Just next time, ask us first, not last for permission.”
I hug them and get all red in the face. The moms shake their heads. They suspect it’s more than brotherly love we’re dealing with.