The twins get me alone as the moms have Tommy help cleaning up. Everyone else has left, it being Sunday and a school night. ‘Gator threw Tommy up in the air a couple of more times before going out the door. The girls have their serious faces on.
“That boy really loves you,” Amy starts the interrogation.
“Yeah. It calmed down when we was in the Everglades. He had a real hero-worship thing goin’ when we escaped from the drug program. He’s back to full-on idolizin’ again. I’m glad his foster parents are so good ta ‘im.”
“What’s ya gonna do. We kin smell the testosterone coming off both of you,” Angela always goes right to the heart of the matter. “Ya cain’t sleep up on the third floor if’n yer gonna be doin’ it.”
“Homeless and horny agin,” I joke.
“You was so worked up ‘bout him comin’ this Christmas. It was so sweet. But if’n you go all gaybo on us, we’ll freak out.”
“I don’ts know whats ta do.” Which is the truth. “Last summer he was only 14. When he got all horny, we jist decided that we was brothers, not lovers.”
“So he knows ya ain’t gay or did he think once he got older you’d want him in that way?”
“I don’t know. It makes me feel so good that he’s so happy now. He got sent ta juvie ‘cause his brother was pickin’ on him. I confronted the brother when Tommy had to go to the hospital with an infected foot. The brother tried to sock me. I knocked him down and he was locked up. Tommy got a foster family and his life is great now. It’ll ruin his Christmas if I change how I treat him. We was this way all summer, with only ‘gators, panthers and hippies around. It’s just natural.”
“He ain’t a kid no more, even with ‘Gator throwing him around like a rag doll. He don’t act gay ‘cept around you. An’ you don’t act gay ‘cept ‘round him.”
“I do love ‘im. It ain’t no act.”
“Great. If it’s not enuff we’s got gay moms, now we gots a gay brother.”
“’As the World Turns,’ in Ames Iowa,” I laugh.
“Ya ain’t mad at us fer callin’ ya gay?”
“Y’all still think I’m a nut case; what part of being nut case does gay fall under?”
That makes ‘em stop to think. I don’t believe they feel I am really gay.
“I’ll take him with me to work, so’s we kin talk while I drives around on deliveries. I’ll let you know what we’ll do to get rid of the boy sex stink.”
“Ya should move down to the second floor if ya needs yer privacy.”
“Thanks a lot.”
“We care ‘bouts ya, Andy. That’s all.”
“Condemned to homo-land by my caring family.”
They finally laugh.
Tommy is drying dishes with Mom in the kitchen.
“Wanna ride around with me while I work?” I ask him.
He lights up like a Christmas tree. “Sure. Kin I borrow a jacket. It’s real cold out there.”
“’Course. Let’s go.”
He gives me a funny look as we go up to our room to change.
As soon as we drive away from the Hyland house, he asks me, “What’s wrong? Ya looks vexed.”
“The twins is givin’ me crap ‘bout being gay with you’s.”
“Naw. I thinks they’s a little jealous ‘cause they see how much we loves each other. I’s their brother too, and they’s unsure how to treat ya. They cain’t jist start lovin’ ya when they’s jist met ya.”
“I ain’t never had sisters a’fore.”
“We gots ta make ’em love ya, like a little brother.”
“I don’t wants ta be yer little brother fer ever. I rilly loves ya, Huck.”
“The love’s cool. It’s the wantin’ me that throws ‘em off. Ain’t nobody gay out here in Iowa.”
“Gator sure acts gay. Gay ‘Gator. That sounds ’bout right.”
“Yer gonna havta change the ‘Gatorsaurus story ta say that mean old ‘gator was after yer ass, not jist tryin’ to et ya.”
We both are laughing when I pull up to the Pizza Pit. Tommy comes in with me to help carry the first deliveries. I introduce him to the boss as my little brother.
“Ya comin’ to Ames to live with Andy now.”
“Naw. I’s in foster care. I’s jist here fer Christmas.”
“Merry Christmas then.”
We keep talking while I drive around making the deliveries. It starts snowing, the first of the year.
“Looks like we git a White Christmas,” I announce.
“I ain’t never seen snow a’fore. Kin we stop?”
“I’s gotta keep makin’ the deliveries. You kin git out at the next stop.”
He jumps out and twirls around, trying to catch snowflakes on his tongue. He is incredibly cute. I want to kiss him so badly when we get back to the car.
“It’s cold out there,” he complains, hugging me supposedly for warmth.
“You hussy, jist beggin’ fer a kiss.”
He grabs me by my jacket lapels and Frenches me right there. My heart is going a mile a minute. His hands are all over me, pulling on my belt buckle. The snow is coming down pretty fast. No one is out on the street.
“If we start doin’ it now, we’ll never stop. It’ll break my heart when ya gots to go back.”
“You do love me. I knew it,” he is triumphant, jumping into the back seat and dragging me with him.
“If we do it, ya gots to promise you’ll be the perfect little brother to the twins, so they ain’t jealous no more.”
“I promise. I promise,” as he pulls his jeans off, kicking his sneakers off as well.
My dick has no hesitation on what it plans to do with this horny boy.
“Stop. Slow down. At this rate it’ll be over in five minutes. This is gotta be better than that.
“Oh, I’ve been practicing. I kin make it last forever now.” As he pulls my jeans off my butt, half my dick sticking out of my gay briefs. The sight is one for him to behold.
“These are cute,” as he fingers the waist band, “when ‘ja start wearing these?” His swelling dick is pressing up against his blue brief’s waistband. He has grown, too.
“These are pretty cute, too,” as I pull back the waist band to let his dick head pop out.
“I gots the fosters ta buy ‘em fer me. I gots red and green too. Do they make me look older?”
“Naw. Yer still the same pervert as ever,” as I snap the waist band on his exposed dick.
“OW, ow, ow, ow. You asshole. Ya always havta be so mean
We go at each other until both of us orgasm twice. We stare intensely into each other’s eyes. We kiss as I finish shaking. After pulling up our pants, I grab his hand and drag him out the back door of the car. We flop down on our backs in the three inches of snow that has fallen since we started screwing around. Still holding his hand, I get him flapping both arms and legs, side to side. Lifting him to his feet and turning him around, I present him with two perfect snow angels joined at the wings.
He flings both arms around me. We jump up and down on the sidewalk. Looking at our cum-stained jackets, I make a snow ball and bomb him. We start a wild snowball fight, which goes on until we look like snowmen, or more accurately, cum-stained snow-men.
I finish my shift later than normal. The boss figures it is the snow. I assure him that before Florida, I lived in Alaska. I am used to snow. On the way home, I remind Tommy that his goal is to get the twins to love him, as their little brother. His cheeks are rosy red and his breathing is still ragged, to match his beating heart. Now it’s time to face the twins. He trusts me to make our case as brothers, but with benefits – Hillbilly brothers, not making babies with each other.
We race into the house. Tommy grabs Mom’s hands and is swinging her around.
“Me and Huck made snow angels. We had us a snowball fight. I ain’t never seen snow ‘afore.”
“You boys march out onto the porch and brush off that snow. There’ll be no mess in my kitchen,” Molly takes charge.
We run outside and brush each other off by slapping and punching our coats and pants. All the commotion brings the girls downstairs to investigate.
I realize Tommy’s face, and probably mine, are bright red. The girls’ suspicions are ramping up.
“Com’n outside,” he exhorts the twins. “We kin all make snow angels.”
Christmas spirit arrives with the snow. The girls get their jackets. We play outside until it is time to go to bed. Besides snow angels and snowball fights, we built a scrawny snowman that Tommy names Huck, in my honor I suppose.
It is Sunday morning. Worried he has nothing to wear for Church, Tommy relaxes once he tries on my dark coat and tie. The fit is almost perfect, enough to boost his confidence since we are now the same size. I thought he just wanted to borrow the outfit. Instead he is moving in……to my closet. Sweet falling…in love. That rings a bell about Jack. And where is Jace? He went with Hippie for the glorious arrival of Anna plus 1. I need him to check on Jack, wasting some flex time to bust his ass over to Switzerland. He doesn’t appear. I call Michael and Jenna to discuss my dilemma. They are so pleased to be asked, remembering when it was the double lovebirds making out in the music room.
“Hail, fair Romeo. Got time for my love-life?”
“Trouble from falling out of paradise?”
“It’s the first snow up here. I cheated on Jack making snow angels.”
“With Swamp Boy?”
“How’d ya know?”
“You gave it away singing ‘Bobby McGee,” and substituting “Tommy’ in “holding Bobby’s hand…’ Are you blind to your own romantic moves.”
“I ain’t self-conscious. Maybe just unconscious. I ain’t got a fucking brain, just my heart tells me what’s ta do.”
“You are too country, boy.”
“Yeah. Tommy calls me Huck. All the girls call me Andy.”
We start giggling.
“Where’s Hippie?” Michael changes our focus.
“He’s out presenting his pregnant bride to the screaming Baptists – ‘We are saved! May the holy rolling begin.”
“You did that didn’tcha”
“”Yeah. All the girls was grabbin’ my dick. Tongues was more than I could stand.”
“I still loves Jack but I ain’t seen him forever, just one phone call. I figured I was due a little cheatin.’ Swamp Boy is persistent if nothin’. He cain’t even sing. I hasta pinch him ta git ‘im to hit the high notes.”
“You is livin’ a country music soap opera,” Michael is talking to me from his subconscious, unintentionally speaking country. “You need a girlfriend, dude. Just go totally country, move into a trailer, have kids, and kick the dog,” he recommends.
We laugh for about a minute.
“You two havta come up for Christmas, Hippie’s already here. I’m putting on a show at school.”
“Yeah. Little House on the Prairie.”
“Michael?” Jena chimes in.
“Yeah. You’re right, sorry.”
“Jenna, “I ask, “be a girlfriend for a second.”
“You better last longer than that.”
“Ew, potty mouth much? I never knew. You’ve been a bad influence, Romeo.”
“Here’s my advice to you Tim/Huck/Andy and every other guy. Stop letting your dick doing your thinking for you,” she advises.
“Harsh,” Michael comments.
“My dick has a complicated relationship with my heart. Love is a drug. Someone has to do the thinking when drugs shut down my brain.”
“So what? You’re in love with two people. As long as at least one of them is willing to put up with it, you’re safe, the master of ‘Sneakin’ Around,’” Michael asserts.
“Well, that won’t be Jack. So, Swamp Boy is up for a ride through the cheating zone. And, don’t ever let me call him Swamp Boy again. We’s Tom & Huck, hillbilly brothers, makin’ babies with one another.”
“I’ll call Jack to let him know his love life is in trouble.”
“Ya cain’t say that but do say I’m in trouble. See how he reacts, will ya?”
“Yer a trip, Tim.”
“Bye Jena, take care o’ the boy. Y’all’s all we got for true romance. Yer truly blessed.”
I hang up. Only then do I notice Tommy in the kitchen listening to everything I said.
“Whatcha think ‘bouts that?” I ask him outright.
“That’s ‘bout Jack, right?”
“Yeah. I gots ta ask ya to be my secret lover ‘til I deals with Jack. He’s locked away in a monastery in Switzerland. I feel sorry for him. I don’t feel sorry about us. If’n ya knows me at all, ya knows I kin love more that one person at a time. Just that Jack’s rich. It makes ‘im super possessive. Yer persistent. I like that better. Ya knows I kin be mean, as your big brother. Don’t be surprised when I has to be a mean lover.”
“Oh, Huck. I don’t care, long a ya’s loves me. That’s all that counts. But we’s havin’ so much fun. I jist wants to be maself, alright?”
“Stop acting all competitive with Jack when we’s here havin’ fun. He’s a million miles away.”
“’Cept you’s telling that guy ta call Jack and warn ‘im.”
“Look. If he really cares about me, he’ll do something to show it. If’n he don’t, we’re home free. I do rilly loves ya. Just give it a bit more time.”
“Life don’t needs ta be so complicated.” Tommy complains.
We go back upstairs to be with the twins. I tell Tommy to stop thinking about double-teaming them. “Watch out. They’s bowling jocks.”
We’re still laughing when we reach the third floor.
The girls say nothing about us moving to the second floor. Lying in bed, in the middle of our ‘Waltons’ goodnight, Tommy cries out, “Who’s Mary Ellen?”
He sleeps the whole night in my arms, apparently satisfied with backseat sex. I guess I was as well, falling instantly asleep .
In the morning, the twins walk in on us, wrapped up with each other. My bedroom door had stayed open. They wake us by pretending to sniff for the aroma of teen spirit.
“Nothin’s in the air,” Angela pronounces. They then pull the covers off us to check for stray sex stains, leaving us lying there in our underwear.
“No evidence of evil sex acts. Y’all is still pure little boys,” their verdict is announced.
“Y’all wanna see my little boy here?” as I grab myself.
They scream and run out of the room. We pass morning inspection.
Tommy decides to go to school with us. The girls find him a bowling outfit to wear and work on his hair and zits. He loves it, but I won’t let them add mascara. I introduce him to all my teachers who are fine with his being in class. Since the only open seats are not next to mine, he just shares the desk with me – wide mid-western seats are ample enough for our skinny-boy asses. No one says a thing
Tuesday is the day of the Christmas Eve Assembly, which is held in place of afternoon classes. The English class is too excited for lunch, so we meet in the auditorium. Tommy has come to all my morning classes, easily introducing himself to anyone who will listen to his non-stop banter. ‘Gator and Noah are with the rest of English class, which distracts Tommy from his general socializing. They are off whispering, away from the group.
“What’s up? I kin see yer all plannin’ sumthin.’”
“Oh, it’s a surprise,” ‘Gator answers, “ta git Tommy ta play a part.”
I do not want to know. I am working with the chorus, explaining that with microphones there is no need to sing as loud for the older kids as had been necessary with the screaming elementary school kids.
All our work is about to pay off. The sets are perfect replicas of the TV show’s sets, but just painted backdrops. The bus kids, those riding to school from farms around Ames, have gathered authentic farm memorabilia as props. Everyone is dressed in period costumes; even the chorus is in gingham. The twins dress me, in a ranch hand motif; I even have a kerchief around my neck and a ten-gallon Stetson hat. My shirt looks like bowling attire except for the snap-on, pearl-white buttons. I’m a rhinestone cowboy. I walk out with my guitar. The chorus arranges itself behind me at the edge of the stage. We are ready to start.
We do ‘Jingle Bells,’
Laura Ingalls enters on Bunny/’Gator and Noah’s back. ‘Gator instantly starts acting up, biting Pa on the butt and pushing Nellie Oleson around, as she tries to say her lines. Noah is kicking up his heels.
Noah yells out, “Stop fartin’, Gator.”
The auditorium laughs so hard the actors have to pause to deliver their lines. Once the first scene ends with everyone going off stage, Bunny appears with Tommy on his back. They trot across the stage and descend into the space before the front row. We’re into the second scene while Bunny is playing rodeo with Tommy, trying to buck him off his back. Tommy hangs on for dear life. They run up the aisle, encouraging freshmen out of their seats to sit down in front. Tommy gets off Bunny and has the smaller kids line up for pony rides. ‘Gator does different stunts with each kid. Noah does his horse poop act several times. The kids pick it up and throw the fake poop around. Bunny stops this mayhem by corralling the hoodlums and bumping them away from the front of the stage. Noah keeps pooping, which only encourages the hoodlums more. Neil is running around with his shovel trying to keep up with the never-ending poop.
The play proceeds. Every time the Oleson’s store is the setting, Bunny with Tommy on his back, trots back on stage, harassing poor Nellie and her parents.
Finally we reach the Christmas gift scene, the finale climax. After Bunny makes his exit, nipping at Nellie, he and Tommy trot off and sit down with the kids in front of the stage. The freshman kids surround them. Tommy throws his arms around Bunny’s neck, which causes all the other kids to hang onto or just pile onto Bunny. ‘Gator shushes them as the Christmas star is placed on the tree. The kids sing along with the chorus on “Little Town of Bethlehem.” Christmas trumps Anarchy.
Or, so I thought, until three familiar looking guys march down the aisle.
“Where’s the rock n roll? Ya said you was putting on a show.”
It is Michael, Robby and Hippie. I gulp. They came all the way to Iowa to be with me. I hear the crew behind the curtain moving two sets of drums and two amps on stage so we can play. Tommy jumps up and hangs onto me, his eyes wide with wonder that my band is going to play. I motion for Amy and Angie to join us at the mic. The lighting guy turns down the auditorium lights and puts a spotlight on Robby
Robby grabs a second mic. “I don’t know what this degenerate has been tellin’ y’all, tryin’ to be all country and that, but he’s a death rocker to the core. We’re his band, False Gods. On your knees and weep your pleas.”
Michael starts drum rolls to tell me we were doing our signature song. I hit the SG with riffs and rolls as Robby does the vocals.
“Where others feared to tread,
they gave us up for dead,
memories linger eternally,
as Lucifer’s proud plea,
a world of our own,
on high a black throne,
sing to make them see,
happy for eternity
…we are False Gods, we are False Gods…
a world so meek and blind,
we laugh at all of mankind,
we’re Satan’s band,
a world of endless flaws,
facades and miracles applause,
eulogized but despised,
shed your false disguise,
fall to your knees,
utter useless pleas,
…we are False Gods, we are False Gods…
pray in foreign tongues,
shoot your useless guns,
sacrifice hallowed sheep,
shun cold, dark streets,
you’re just nasty fleas,
Set your minds at ease
…False Gods, False Gods…
we live eternally,
we hear your painful screams,
keep cold certainty,
know just what we mean
….We are False Gods, False Gods..
… False Gods”
Tommy and the girls join me on the “We are False…” backup vocals. I’m so proud of them, just jumping in without any hesitation. Their pure, high vocals inspire me to create ringing leads. Of course Tommy’s voice cracks, which I harmonize on the guitar with Hendrix-like leads. Robby looks over in amazement and glee. He throws himself on the stage floor, as I create a feedback loop that makes the amps sound like the apocalypse has happened.
One of the freshmen sitting with Bunny on the floor screams, scaring all the kids, who pile all over Bunny. Tommy jumps on top of them all, spurring Bunny to rise. Noah shouts ‘hut.” And Gator rises from a grave of kids, with Tommy on his back. They ride up the right aisle and down the left, with the screaming kids chasing them. The older kids are frozen in their seats while Robby does his Mael prayer in tongues, flip-flopping on his back on stage.
I instantly change to the Stooges’ ‘I wanna be your Dog,’ shouting “Iggy” to Michael and Hippie.
‘Gator, recognizing the song from the coffee shop fiasco, throws off Bunny’s outfit and starts howling and barking, while thrashing around on the floor with Tommy. They actually listen to Robby’s lyrics and jump on stage, groveling at our feet. The freshmen are cowering against the side walls. Some of the older kids run out the back.
“Wait,” I cry. “Scared? This is my life in rock n roll hell. I found my aim is true in country.”
I mouth “Hillbilly Brothers – ‘Shine a light’ to the others.
I signal the lighting guy to spotlight Tommy laying at my feet. I repeat the line ‘Angels beating all their wings in time.’ Jace comes down and raises Tommy to his feet, as I sing ‘Come on up, come on up, now, come on up now.’ I whisper snow angel to Tommy and he flaps his arms as we did when it first snowed.
“Angels beating all their wings in time,
With smiles on their faces and a gleam right in their eyes.
Whoa, thought I heard one sigh for you,
Come on up, come on up, now, come on up now.
May the good Lord shine a light on you,
Make every song you sing your favorite tune.
May the good Lord shine a light on you,”
KEITH RICHARDS, MICK JAGGER
Lyrics © Alfred
I next sing, ‘Shine Your Light,’ repeating the title line over and over, as Jace raises Tommy, flapping his arms like wings, above the stage. Bic lighters are lit all around the darkened auditorium.
“Shine Your light, Shine Your light, Shine Your light On me, Jesus.
You are the morning star, My precious one. Almighty guard You are, Great things You’ve done. Through all eternity, I give You praise. A bright new song I sing, Stand face to face.
Shine Your light, Shine Your light, Shine Your light On me, Jesus.
You are the great I am, The King of Kings. Red rock of ages, My urge to sing. Through all eternity, I will proclaim. You won the victory, I bless Your name.
Shine Your light, Shine Your light, Shine Your light On me, Jesus”
Oslo Gospel Choir lyrics
Robby continues to writhe and squirm on the other side of the stage. As Tommy rises off the stage, all the Baptist kids drop to the floor, holy rolling and speaking in tongues. Robby leaps up, yells ‘Barefoot’ at me and attacks his drum kit.
I follow his lead into ‘Barefoot Boy’, with the girls and Tommy singing with me,
Makes a stand
To take his joy
Going hand to hand
Flying out free
Branch to branch
Through the trees
“Free to be
A monkey like me”
Robby jumps up from the drums and joins us to sing the chorus
“Ha ha ha
He he he
Haw haw haw
Chee chee chee”
Next he is off and running, jumping and swinging while making monkey moves at all the kids cowering in front of the stage. He takes the hands of one wide-eyed girl, doing the monkey dance with her. Other kids jump up and are dancing as well. Eventually we have them dancing in the aisles, as we switch to 60’s dance music.
Mrs. McCarthy comes out and takes the mic.
“Merry Christmas. There’s never been a Christmas Assembly like this one. Please thank all the players and crew for today’s performance.”
The English class runs back on stage to scattered applause.
“And for ‘Gator and Noah for being Bunny.”
A big cheer is yelled for ‘Gator, who tosses Tommy into the air.
“Finally, the Triplets, Amy, Andy & Angie, for making rock n’ roll be merry and bright, with the help of Andy’s bandmates, ‘The Hillbilly Brothers.’
I take the mic,“For everyone, over the holidays, be safe, be happy and be back in 1976. Happy Birthday, America.”
Just as we finish I see, running down the aisle, still bundled up against the cold in an anorak and fur hat. It’s Jack!
“Am I too late?” he cries, throwing himself into my arms and locking his lips on mine. The noisy crowd is silenced, then explodes into “Ah, hah.” Outted at Christmas Assembly.
I ignore all the attention the kiss ignites.
“We just finished,” I tell him. “The band’s first show since Skynyrd. It is a complete surprise tome. They just showed up. Just like you, now. Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Michael called and told me I had to come. Like you, I ran away from my prison and flew straight to Iowa, thanks to BankAmericard. Where’s Swamp Boy,” he demands.
Tommy is sitting on ‘Gator’s shoulders. Both look stunned by this development.
“Get up here, you two. Meet Jack, my boyfriend.” I’ve forgotten to turn the mic off, proclaiming my sexuality to the entire school. I’m oblivious.
Tommy rushes up, with tears streaming down his cheeks. This is his worst nightmare. ‘Gator looks confused for the first time since I have known him.
“Jack, this is ‘Gator, my best friend and the captain of the football and bowling teams. And, this is Tommy, my little brother from last summer and now my boyfriend, too.”
I cannot be more honest and know that how the chips may fall is beyond my control.
‘Gator takes the lead, pulling Jack into a friendly hug. “Well, welcome, Jack. Yer boyfriend here never tolds us. He sure knows how to shake things up here in Iowa. I never guessed. Maybe I should be jealous of y’all.” They both laugh.
Jack looks at the tearful, distressed Tommy. “Come here, Swamp Boy, you’re not the first person I’ve shared Tim with,” pulling him into the hug with all of us.
“His name’s Andy now, but I calls ‘im Huck,” Tommy sniffs. “Ya kin call me Swamp Boy, but I prefers Alligator Killer.”
The audience applauds, as if this is the final scene of the performance. I guess it really is.
Hippie comes over to Tommy, “Ya done good, turning ol’ Tim inta a country music hero. Ya learns to sing proper, there’s a place fer ya in the band. I guess the new name is the Hillbilly Brothers. I kinda like it.”
On that note, we all walk off the stage. The auditorium is buzzing from the performance, the antics, and my coming out.