Everyone comes back to the Hyland house, the bowling team, half the players and chorus from my English class plus Mrs. McCarthy, and several looky-loos, or tourists as Robby used to call ‘em. The moms have a roaring fire going in the fireplace. Everyone is in the first floor living room and kitchen. Jack and Tommy engage in a short tug-of-war with my body, before settling on each being attached to one of my hips.
“Howcha escape from Catholic hell?” I quiz Jack.
“One of the rich kids got a key to the dormitory door, which keeps us locked up at night. I paid him to let me out. I took a taxi to the Geneva airport, which is in France. I used the credit card to buy the airline ticket here. Daddy won’t be happy.”
“I bets yer wrong on that count. Yer folks seemed as upset as you were about the seminary. An’ he says not ta call ‘im Daddy no more.”
“You’s a rich kid, ain’tcha,” Tommy pipes up. He didn’t see the Stone mansion as Vic had.
“I prefer to say ‘comfortable,” Jack answers, looking at Tommy. “You needn’t be jealous of me, Gator Killer. I learned long ago that Tim, er Andy, can’t love just one person. We havta share. I just know I have him in my heart forever.”
“How’s that work,” he asks.
“You don’t know Jace?”
“His dead boyfriend that gots shot?”
“We all hold him in our hearts and can feel him there. I call him Casper, the friendly ghost. You have to love and trust him to let him in your heart.”
“Why ain’t cha never told me ‘bouts Casper, Huck?”
“T’was the damned Program that hardened ma heart. Casper was locked away all summer we was campin’ out. I toldcha a’bout Teen Jesus. Casper’s Teen Jesus.”
“More holy than you think,” Hippie tells him.
“He’d never seen ya ‘til you’s arrived with Hippie and Anna Plus 1 on Saturday night. He ignored you ‘cause ya don’ts love ‘im yet.”
“How coulds I loves ‘em whens I’s never mets ‘im?”
“Jace know ya don’ts trust ‘im. Your heart is shut to ‘im.”
“How kin I trust a ghost?”
“You already do. When Casper raised ya up off the stage today, had ya ever floated a’fore? How’d that happen?”
“I felt it was you’s. I was feelin’ ya when my eyes was shut tight.”
“That was Casper. He knows ya loves me and ya has me in yer heart. Since he’s in my heart too, ya kin feel his love.”
“I’s never loved nobody but you’s,” Tommy is skeptical.
“That means ya trusts me?”
“Shur, Huck. I’d do enythin’ fer ya.”
“Well, grab my hands and try to love ‘im. Tell me if’n ya feels ‘im when he touches ya, too. Alls ya gots ta do is believe I loves ya.”
Everyone had circled around us in front of the Christmas tree by the fire. Tommy scrunches up his face, trying extra hard to love me and be loved by Casper. It’s a no-brainer since he already allowed Jace to levitate him on stage. Jace circles above everyone in the room, players, crew, chorus, moms, Miami guests and Mrs. McCarthy. The room already glows from the fire and Christmas tree lights. The twins go around turning off the lamps and overhead lights. As Jace circles the whole group, the glow intensifies He settles above Tommy before placing his hands on his head.
“I feels ‘im,” Tommy shouts. A brighter glow emanates from the two of us. Everyone goes, ‘Ah, oh,’ like when the town’s Christmas tree is lit.
“It’s Teen Jesus,” someone yells as the angel on the tree’s top outshines all the other lights and the overall glow. Gold petals burst out from the tree angel and settle like snowflakes over everyone.
“Merry Christmas,” I tell everyone and let go of Tommy’s hands. The glow starts to recede.
“Anyone who wants to have Jace in their heart, just silently ask for it right now.”
The glow reignites over people who are open to us. Those who are like Tommy was, having trouble trusting, lose the glow. I take Tommy. We go to the untrusting, holding out our hands. When they reach back, the glow returns.
I stand by the fireplace. Jack comes and attached himself to my hip. Tommy tries to attach on the other hip, but Jace is already there. Unable to reach me, he put his arms around the invisible Jace. To everyone else, it looked like he was reaching out to me, unable to connect. Not frustrated by his effort to reach me, Tommy smiles when he realizes he actually does love the invisible Jace. He is the second person that Tommy loves. Well, maybe after his foster folks.
The twins turn the lights back on. The moms serve hot chocolate. Everyone wants to keep the party rolling. It’s dark outside now. Someone in the chorus suggests we go caroling. Jace and I look at each other. The tears start flowing as we remember last year with the Watt family and the swim team kids. Jace punches me and tells me to get my acoustic guitar so I can play the carols. Tommy brushes my tears away.
“Why ya cryin’?”
“Just remembering last Christmas Eve with Jace.”
“Ya sentimental fool. Git over yerself,” and he punches me. Jace kisses him on the cheek, making Tommy grin.
It’s snowing again, perfect for a white Christmas in the morning. We carol down our street, ending up at the Pizza Pit. The manager told customers that there is no delivery that night. People are lined up for pick-up orders. We set up inside the Pit and carol until the customers stop coming. A reporter for the Ames Herald takes our picture, noting that we also performed at the High School Christmas Assembly.
The moms have more hot chocolate ready when we return. The Miami group is especially chilled by the winter weather.
Jack is looking apprehensive, as I make no move to get him alone. Luckily he abstains from Robby’s plentiful joints. But I know to get him into bed as soon as possible. On the other hand, Tommy is acting nervous that he’ll be excluded. And then, there are the twins, who are still dealing with my gay outing in front of the whole school; they are sensing teen spirit pheromones in the air.
“Lend me the car keys,” I ask. “We need a place to talk.”
They instantly realize how Tommy remained innocent in my room.
“I knew that the car was smelling stanky. I thought it was pizza stench,” Angie accuses us.
“Guilty until proved innocent,” I admit.
“We need to talk about you movin’ down to the second floor.”
“Please, Missy twin sisters, don’ts be throwin’ us out inta the cold winter night.”
“We’ll talks ‘bout it,” Amy is the reconciler, while Angie just glares at me. I have betrayed them.
I’m sad, my head hanging low.
Jace to the rescue, telling me to get all five of us lying in the new snow, with our heads all touching. We make snow angels again, five perfect angels, heads together and wings all touching.
The twins run into the house. We giggle and get into the car, starting the engine to get the heater going. Huddled in the backseat, Jack explains to Tommy the difference between Jace and Casper. He describes how he is able to see Casper after letting him fuck him non-stop for a whole day.
“I ain’t fuckin’ no one I cain’t see. Ya kin feel him fuckin’ ya?”
“Ya lets him levitate ya on stage. Fuckin’ cain’t be ant harder than that,” I tell him.
“Ya don’ts mind me fuckin’ someone, er sumthin’, besides you?”
“Jace and me has the sex pact. We don’t fuck anyone else ‘less we’s both there.”
“How’d that work when’s we was foolin’ around all summer?”
“Jace was locked out of my heart. I couldn’t feel ‘im. Ya knows I held ya off as long as possible.”
“Yeah. Ya was a real bitch ‘bout it. Ya kin be so mean. I thoughts it was ‘causa ol’ Jack.”
“That, too. You was so persistent. What could I do?”
“Ya made me thinks I’s jist yer brother, not yer lover.”
“Y’all was 14. It felt perverted. I gots molested at that age by my cousin. Ya don’t knows that.”
Jack had been really quiet as we play out our feelings.
“You never told me you was molested,” he pipes up.
“I told you about Joey, saying I fell in loves with ‘im.”
“Little Joe, the hustler from ‘Walk on the Wild Side.’”
“I loved ‘im when there’s no way he’d love me back. It was messed up. Even Scott was never really in loves wid me. Just you, Jack. I knows ya rilly loves me.”
That revs his engine and we kiss. Tommy starts crying. Jack and I hug him, but he keeps crying.
“I always knowed ya cain’t love me as much as ya loves Jack. I’s jist po’ white trash.”
“Don’t be down on ya self. I do loves ya. I never gots a hard-on once I gots ta Iowa, ‘til I calls ya and felt how much ya loves me. Then when ya gots here an’ I see’d how much ya growed, I was head over heels. Don’t be sellin’ ya self short.”
“Now I see why Michael called and said I was in trouble,” Jack adds “You want me to go back to Switzerland?” He looks miserable.
“I loves ya both,” I proclaim. “And after Christmas ya both will be gone.”
Jace is sitting on the back of the front bench seat. He starts signing that he could solve this dilemma. “Tommy loves Huck and Casper. Jack loves Tim and Casper. Jack and Tommy gots ta learn ta love Andy together, while I gets to fuck ya all ‘so’s we kin all have a four-way.”
“What he say?” Jack and Tommy ask.
“Y’all gots to learn ta love Andy, that’s who I is now.”
“How’s we do that?”
“Ya gots ta learn ta loves each other.,” I pronounce, “and understand that I loves my twin sisters and ‘Gator, jist not in a gay way.”
“Yer not gay no more?” they both cry.
“I’m gay plus, meaning I can love my family and friends an’ not havta be sexual ‘bout it.”
“Sounds too normal,” Jack concludes.
“Exactly, the twins and all my new friends are all nervous ‘bout me now that y’all has come and outed me as gay.”
“You never seemed uncomfortable ‘bouts bein’ gay before?” Jack asserts.
“The whole band crowd was kinda gay themselves or at least not worried ‘bout it. Even Grant.”
“He was just pimpin’ for Clyde,” Jack notes. We both laugh.
“Who’s Clyde?” Tommy has to know.
“Jist a black boy who refuses ta give up on me when I was always tellin’ ‘im I loved Jack.”
“Ya’s kinda a slut, Huck.” Tommy decides.
“Y’all gots ta accept I’s able ta be in love wid more than one person at a time.”
“Sounds like a slut to me,” Jack agrees with Tommy.
“We’s all in agreement, I guess. Let’s go back in. Tommy, ya’s already agreed to make the twins loves ya and ‘Gator already does. Jack ya gotta use yer good manners to turn the twins so they loves ya. As fer ‘Gator, I have no clue how that’s work. My only advice is what everyone always be sayin’, ‘Don’t be so gay.’”
We all laugh and go back into the house.
“Well, that was quick,” Angie noted, “Y’all fucked out already? My car all stanky now?”
“Naw,” Tommy pronounces, “We’s all bein’ not so gay now.”
‘Gator jumps up and tosses Tommy up in the air. “Y’all still my Little Buddy ?”
“Yeah, ‘Gator. I still loves Huck, but I loves bein’ yer friend too, Skipper.”
The twins look relieved. Looking at Jack and me, “Well, I guess y’all kin stay up on the third floor if ya don’t havta be doin’ it all the time.”
“That is the nicest thing,” Jack pours on the charm. “I am so happy to be welcome here. I swear the three of you really do look like triplets.”
Both girls burst out laughing, then hug him. Good manners win again.
It’s time for midnight services. We have to be there as part of the choir. Hippie wants to sing, as Anna loves seeing him perform in church. The class chorus asks if they could also sing carols. ‘Gator and the crew just want to stay with us longer, agreeing that church can’t be as bad as our humiliating bowling losses. I call the choir master, who agrees that the school chorus can sing carols before and after the service. Then I call the Ames Herald reporter who agrees to attend and add another picture to his story. He asks if I could contact our English teacher, Mrs. McCarthy, as he is hearing multiple reports about the Christmas assembly. He thought the whole story is worth more than a photo about caroling. I tell him Mrs. McCarthy will speak with him before the service at First Baptist. As well as persistent Tommy, Jack is sitting with me. He asks to call Mummy. He hasn’t told them how he escaped Swiss seminary hell. I call to smooth the waters.
“Hi, Isabel, it’s Tim.”
“Oh, senor Tim, we are so worried. Do you know where Johnny is?”
“He’s right here. ?Esta Sr Stone alli?”
“Y carumba. Si, una momento.”
“Tim. You know where Johnny is?”
“He’s right here with me, in Iowa.”
“We had no idea why he’d run off to Iowa.”
“I live here with my mom now. Here he is. Don’t be mad. He just wanted to be with me.”
I give the phone to Jack. Tommy and I leave him to mend fences.
‘Gator grabs me, while the twins corner Tommy.
“How come ya ain’t no wimpy fag, Andy?” he accuses me.
“Not all fags are wimpy, ‘Gator.’
“Tell that ta Coach.”
“That’s yer job, my fag defender.”
“Does that mean I’s a fag, too, ‘cause I’s likes ya so much?”
“Not ‘less yer dick gits all twitchy ‘round me.”
“That’s what them cheerleaders is fer.”
“I’ll settle fer lovin’ ya without any bedroom time.”
“’S’cool. But what’s ‘bout Noah hangin’ on ta my butt in the Bunny costume.”
“He’s jist inta kissin’ yer ass ‘cause ya demands that of all yer posse.”
“They’s my crew, that’s all.”
“I ain’t jealous, jist glad ya ain’t mad at me.”
“Why’s I gonna git mad at ya?”
“Not tellin’ ya I has boyfriends.”
“None o’ my business. Ya gonna takes a hit on yer popularity, tho.”
“They say popularity breeds contempt.”
“I guess ya’s beneath contempt now.”
‘Gator’s sense of humor seems to have improved.
Tommy has the twins both hanging onto him, as he beams. Who knows how he does that? I guess people believe what they want to believe.
Mrs. McCarthy is entranced by our two moms, who eat up her approval. She is over the moon that her chorus is performing at church. I’m getting used to church being so important in people’s lives in Iowa. I hope our consistent church-going will counter-balance the satanic music we play, plus Tommy’s levitation trick. Best not to burn bridges.
Midnight service is hectic. The reporter keeps Mrs. McCarthy busy, while the moms save her a seat. Tommy, dressed in my coat and tie, sits next to Molly, who promises to keep him on-key with pinches. The twins and me are sitting with the choir. Anna sits on the other side of Tommy, promising to pray for him, as well as my moms and me. Jack is still not on her list. He and Hippie sit with us in the choir, as we’re all to sing ‘Amazing Grace’ together after the sermon. Michael and the rest of the players from the assembly fill up an entire row. The chorus is in the back of the church, already singing carols before the service starts. Another pew behind the moms is reserved for them. Robby stands in the back, looking ill at ease. Our infiltration of First Baptist reaches a high point at midnight services. The twins join Hippie and Jack, reaching notes beyond the guys’ range. I swear it is better than the Easter performances. Jace floats above everyone. When he sits next to the cross on the altar, I instantly get nervous that he may re-resurrect himself. He smiles and comes over to sit with me while the twins are singing. Why is church making me feel so good, when I’ve already been to hell, met the devil, and committed every sin in the Bible. Maybe contrition is easier in a Baptist Church. I’m mad at Father Frank for committing Jack to seminary hell. No time for negative thoughts on Christmas.
Everyone comes back to the house, where Tommy retells the ‘Gatorsaurous legend for ‘Gator’s benefit. He ends up chasing Tommy around the living room, trying to bite his ass, snapping and growling. It’s a fit finale to our day.
“Wait fer us upstairs. I gots ta catch up with Jack,” I tell Tommy.
He looks distressed. I kiss him. It will be his turn next time. He smiles and goes over to be with the twins. They say they will show him how to do his hair and makeup for Christmas dinner.
Jack is literally shaking as we walk out to the car. It’s covered in snow, making for a perfect hideout from prying eyes.
“Y’all is cold or sumthin?”
“I’s as hot as a cat on a tin roof,” he mimics my twang, as he jumps into my lap, thrusting his hips against my stomach. We kiss for the longest time. He is snapping my briefs, making me hard as a rock. He pulls down his trousers, with his dick sticking out of the oldest, holiest, worn-out briefs I’ve ever seen.”
“Ya cain’t afford new underwear?” I kid him.
“This was the only thing I had ta remember ya by.”
“Well, least ya keeps them nearest to the parts I loves the best.”
We go at it, finally stopping, gasping for breath. Pulling on our clothes, I open the car door, expecting to be confronted by my sisters and/or other boyfriend. We are alone.
In the morning, I wake up in bed with Jack on one side, Tommy on the other, and Jace at my feet. Thank you twins for insisting on queen-size beds on their floor. I have to admit, I feel queen-sized. Robby and Michael are on the second floor. Hippie and Anna left for his grandparents after midnight services, planning to attend Christmas morning service there. Anna is in her glory. ‘Gator and the boys say they’ll come by in the afternoon after going home for their respective gift-giving.
The twins bounce into my room, sniffing and snooping to determine if we’ve been naughty or nice. We’ve been nice, at least for Christmas. We are told to get downstairs for present exchange. Tommy is a nervous wreck, knowing what Jack and I had done in the car. Jace keeps Jack busy, while Tommy hangs onto me for dear life. I assure him that his turn is next.
“So whatcha thinks o’ Jace?” I ask him.
“He makes my stomach all warm and relaxed, kinda like fucking.”
“So he turns ya on?”
“Ew, not sure I kin get fucked by a ghost I don’t even sees.”
”The more ya likes ‘im, the easier it is ta see ‘im.”
“Does I havta ta get fucked all day to git ta see ‘im, like Jack did?”
“Nah. Hippie and Michael kin see him and they’s straight.”
He sighs his relief.
“It ain’t makin’ love whens ya does it ta git sumthin.’” I tell him. “Relax and see where it goes. It’s Jack ya gots ta seduce.”
“But he’s so rich and snooty. Ya say he’s real possessive.”
“Shure, but he’s already sharin’ me with Jace, Flo, Tina and Pete. Yer chances ain’t bad.”
He hugs me tighter. He isn’t about ta let go. And we all have church again, as the choir has two services to sing.
I haven’t spent anytime with Robby and Michael, so I sit with them as we eat Mom’s blueberry pancakes.
“Remember the pancakes we got on the road last spring?” I ask them.
“Your mom’s is better,” Robby compliments her.
“You have a sweet deal here,” Michael notes. “Does going Country mean you’re straight now.”
“Pretty much, ‘cept when Jack or Tommy’s around.”
“Your friends were pretty shocked to see ya go at it with them.”
“News travels fast. I gots some bridges ta repair once school starts in January.”
“Don’tcha wanna git back to Miami?” Robby asks.
“Not ‘til I’s eighteen in July. Them cops have a hard-on fer me still.”
“That’s your big secret; everyone gets hard-ons around you,” Michael laughs.
“What a great talent, huh?”
“Let’s go out on the porch an’ get high,” Robby pulls out a joint from behind his ear. “Jist fer ol’ times sakes.”
“Why not.” It’s Christmas.
We go out on the back porch, finding a spot where no one can see us from inside or out. I need to take it easy, so I can at least function, but Robby’s ganja hits me hard. Jace comes over and laughs at us. I know Michael can see him. Robby’s such a hard head, he’s only been able to feel Jace. Michael and I are teasing Robby who never knows when Jace is about to swat him. Robby quickly loses his temper in frustration.
“Ya wanna see ‘im?” I ask. “Hold both my hands,” as I reach out to him.
“Fuck you,” He swears at us for teasing him, He finally takes my hand.
“Now relax and stop losin’ yer temper.” I tell him. Michael is sitting on a railing, enjoying another Robby magic mean show.
Jace waits until Robby calms down. At last, he places his hands on his shoulders to make him a conduit between our psychic bond.
“Oh,” Robby says, looking directly at Jace. “Ya ain’t aged a day.”
We all hang out, until Jack comes out to be with us.
“Robby just let Jace into his heart fer the first time,” I tell Jack.
“Y’all’s been smokin’ pot. I kin tell.”
“Ya missed it. We’s plumb out,” I lie to him, not ready to deal with his pot-driven horniness. ”When’d ja start speakin’ like a hick?”
“Y’all’s a bad influence,” as he slides into my arms. Michael and Robby move away from us, not wanting to be infected by gayness.
“I asked Mummy if I kin stay here.”
That’s a twist to my plans. “Wow. Whatch she say?”
“They aren’t ‘bout ta lets me go country. I’s enrolled in some fancy prep school in Massachusetts.”
“That Phillips place they was talkin’ ‘bout?”
“Naw. They rejected me fer runnin’ away from the seminary. Its called Deerfield, outs in the country, not so fancy.”
“Better‘n the monks. Least I kin come visit ya.”
“Wouldja? I gots ta go home tomorrow, ‘fore I cain’t speak proper ‘t’all.”
“Yer leavin’?” We start making out. Michael and Robby leave us alone. Tommy shows up as soon as Robby tells him where we are. He sits next to Jace, as if he can tell where he is.
“Ya kin feel Jace now?”
“Never hads ta fuck ‘im once,” he crows.
“Maybe getting’ levitated works jist as good.”
Jace put an arm around his shoulders, which makes Tommy twitch.
“What’s wrong? Don’tcha like Jace?”
“He’s yer boyfriend, not mine.”
Trouble in paradise.
“Ya lets ‘im in yer heart, so ya must trust ‘im?”
“I only loves you, Huck,” explaining why Jace didn’t feel him when he arrived.
It also means he doesn’t love Jack or Casper. Does it mean he isn’t mature enough? Maybe it’s just odd old me for loving everyone? I remember the limo outside CBGB’s with my boyfriends and girlfriends all piled in the back together, tearing me apart while the guys and I smoked a joint in Uncle Tam’s De Soto. Now it’s my three boyfriends all together on the porch.
“I gotta get outta here,” I tell them, “so y’all kin decides how ta work it out.”
I go find the twins. With all the visitors I’ve ignored them.
Why do I think sisters are easier to deal with than lovers? I go up to the third floor and pick up an acoustic guitar. The girls ignore me at first. I strum Rod Stewart’s ‘You’re in my Heart.’
“You’re in my heart, you’re in my soul
You’ll be my breath should I grow old
You are my lover, you’re my best friend
You’re in my soul”
“We ain’t your lovers, Andy,” Amy cuts me deep.
“I know, but now I needs ya ta be my sisters. I gots too many lovers, but only two sisters.”
“How’s that work when ya lies to us?” Angie, as usual, goes right to the meat of the matter.
“I warns ya’s I weren’t perfect, but together we’s purdy good.”
“So where’s all yer boyfriends now?”
“Out on the porch, fightin’ it out by trashing me. They’s bondin’ over how I’s so screwed up.”
“We don’t hates ‘em, Andy. Jist that they’ve screwed everything up fer us.”
“Jist ‘cause ya gots a gay brother?”
“To go with gay moms. We’s the homo sisters.”
“Whys ya cares ‘bout what others think?”
“We don’ts. But what we think should matter to y’all.”
“Don’tcha see, that’s why I’s here with y’all, and not with them.”
“It’s all water over the dam now,” Angie’s as always practical.
“I’s gonna ask the moms to let Jack stay and be part o’ the family.”
“No! We lives in Gay Central,” Angie moans.
“It is kinda romantic,” Amy is moving toward my side.
“How romantic will ya feel when they’s be goin’ at each other day and night.”
“It might be nice if someone has a boyfriend around here,” Amy defends me.
“Well, ya kin move in with them and watch how disgustin’ they are, stickin’ their things up each other’s butts.”
“What we do is secret. I’ll move back to the second floor so there’s no stinky stank up here.”
“Oh, Andy. Cain’t they jist leave?”
“Great. I’m out to the whole school. Now my boyfriend has to leave.”
“Okay. He kin stay, but y’all gots to sleep up here so’s we kin keep ya from being super gay.”
“Sisters as gay police. Perfect.”
They hug me. We go tell the moms.
“No way we will allow you to have a live-in boyfriend.”
“I’m seventeen, Moms. You want me to sneak around? That’s dangerous. Especially for gays.”
“This is exactly what Dad complains about. You are always plotting things to get around our authority,” Mom complains.
“That may be true in the past. But Jack coming here is a big surprise. He had to escape from a monastery in Switzerland. He can’t go back to Florida until he turns eighteen, just like me. His parents want to lock him away in a New England prep school.”
“Why are you boys always in so much trouble, getting locked up?” Molly asks.”
I was going to try to explain it, but finally say, “We’re young and we’re in love.”
That stops their angry opposition.
“We have to talk with Jack’s parents first, so don’t think you’re getting your way yet.” They capitulate. I already know Mummy and Daddy are on my side.
The twins and I skip out to the porch. Jack and Tommy are bonding over their shared disgust of me. Jace just shrugs when he sees me.
“It’s all settled. Jack’s going to stay with us,” I announce, grabbing him and twirling him around.
Tommy burst into tears. “I knew I cain’t compete with Jack,” he sobs.
The twins hug him and make him feel loved. He perks up once he accepts the decision.
“You girls like younger boys?” he asks the twins.
They swat him and chase him into the house. Robby and Michael come back out. They obviously have hit the bong.
“Everything hunky dory in Tim’s World,” Robby quips.
“Mission accomplished,” declares Michael. “I’m going back to Miami to see my girlfriend.”
“Least someone’s normal,” ‘Gator declares.