There are the shots of us holding hands in the Park, singing a Capella in the Dakota Lobby, and dancing and kissing Andy at Max’s. I’m relieved that Jules and Nina aren’t named.
The topper is a call from Yoko, demanding we come immediately up to their apartment for interrogation. All artists are total control freaks. Jules isn’t even her child. The cousins are beside themselves in gossip frenzy. We are a bit intimidated, meeting the woman who ‘broke up the Beatles.’ We go to 407 first. Nina answers the door. Jules is already at his father’s flat. Nina gives us the Lennon’s apartment number.
“Well, you took your time,” Yoko looks up from her coffee. Jules is seated with her, looking uncomfortable.
“Ohaiyou gozaimasu masen,” we both speak, followed by a formal bow.
“How nice,” she softens, with a curt nod in response to our bows.
“I told you, Yoko,” Jules speaks up. “They’re very nice.”
“But they’re from Iowa, you said.”
“Jack’s parents have a flat in the Dakota. He’s here to recover from snakebite. Andy’s his lover and is staying until Jack gets settled.”
We remain in our bows, while they discuss us. Their sense of entitlement is worse than the cousins – the arrogance of the super-rich. We decide to kowtow before them, Japanese style, keeping our heads down.
“Why is Julian’s picture in today’s Post? We do not wish to expose him to the paparazzi.”
“Gomenasai, sensei. We were just singing in the lobby. The photographer must have followed us. We were unaware that he was taking our picture.”
“Explain why they are taking your photos.”
“Our band played several concerts last Spring, including the Easter mass at St Patrick’s. I’ve known Andy Warhol since I was 14. We were photographed with him at events, including a luncheon at the Metropolitan Museum. He’s besieged by paparazzi. I doubt they even know they were shooting Jules. He isn’t identified in the Post.”
“Andy! Well, that explains it. He’s a complete publicity hound.”
“He’s doing a project with the Church on homeless youth. We think Julian and Nina would enjoy participating.”
“That is what you were asking me about, Jules? It might do you some good.”
“Well, you seem nice enough, and certainly polite,” as she notices we are still bowing. “Julian is free to do as he requests. Please do not use our name for your cause.”
“Oh, I think Andy will just do their portraits as part of the exhibit. He has a new camera he got from Polaroid.”
“Really,” we have her interest. “Let me know when it’s shed-juled. I may want to come.”
“You may go.”
We rise, bow and kowtow out of the room. Jules comes with us.”
“Well, you certainly kissed her ass,” Jules snarks, once we were out of hearing range.
“Do you and Nina want to come with us today to meet the Church people and afterwards, meet Andy?”
“Sure, but not if the Dragon Lady has to come.”
“Let’s see what Andy wants. She may be an asset to the cause.”
“No, she s just an ass.”
( The final resolution of the contre temps between Julian and Yoko:
When John Lennon was murdered in 1980, his widow Yoko Ono and his accountant were given control of his estate reported to be worth over $276 million. The chief beneficiaries were said to be Ono and her son with Lennon, Sean. Yet Lennon’s son from his first marriage, Julian, was only given a trust fund that had been set up at the time of Lennon’s divorce. Julian challenged the will and 16 years later he finally reached an out-of-court settlement with Ono. Although the figure was never published, it was rumored to be in the region of $20 million. )
He comes with us as we dress for our day of meetings. The first one is with the Stones who are having breakfast.
“Did you speak with Father Frank?” I ask Daddy.
“Yes. He flew up from Miami last night. He’s at St Patrick’s. Tell him he should stay here while he’s in Manhattan.”
“Great. This is Julian Lennon. We’ve putting a band together for a performance to the youth group on Saturday, sort of a going away party for me.”
“Yes. I meant to ask you. Shall I book the Lear for your trip back.”
“No. Let me return by cattle car. I’m all about saving the planet. I have to leave on Sunday.”
“The plane just sits there.”
“You’re ruining me for real life. Airline food is my favorite.”
Jack has been quiet for too long. All the talk about my leaving has cost him his voice again. We run up to 407 and get Nina to sing to him. He relaxes and soon is singing with us.
It’s mid-morning. I call Blair, at the Factory. He tells us to come by in the late afternoon to meet with Andy and expect to socialize at Max’s afterward. I call Marty, but just leave a message with his assistant. I also leave a message at Aaron’s to call me when he gets home from school. Finally, I call Jay and bring him up-to-date on the Scorsese-Warhol collaboration.
We have to get outside, ending up walking across the Park to St Patrick’s. Father Frank is there. We wait for him to be done with Cardinal Cook. It feels like waiting to see the school principal.
“How come you’re not in school today?” I ask the kids.
“We don’t go. Our parents think it’s a waste of time,” Nina explains.
“What about making friends.”
“We just have each other. And, now you two. People I meet are only interested ’cause of me mean old da,” Jules claims.
“Trouble with the parental unit?”
“He dumped me when he dumped me mum,” Jules scowls.
“Popularity breeds contempt,” I quote someone. I don’t pursue it. My own parental relations are none too stellar.
Father Frank finally is free. He hugs Jack and shakes my hand. Jack introduces the kids as friends from The Dakota.
“Mummy wants you to stay there. No monastic cell for you,” Jack invites him.
“Once we clear up issues here with the archdiocese, I’ll gladly return to your world.”
“We’re here to investigate rumors that not all is well with the Jace’s Place program. Staff misbehavior.”
“How do you know that?”
“We met kids yesterday at the Emanu-el Temple location. They told us. There’s an inherent lack of trust in all these homeless kids. It makes them resist change and exposes them to abuse.”
He looks like he already knows.
“Can we meet the kids from St Patrick’s shelter? We brought Jules and Nina along, as we’re too old to really connect with these 12-15 year-old kids,” I explain.
“I forget that you’re almost grown up, Johnny. Well, this is not news. I have been so frustrated by the archdiocese refusing to admit there are problems. Old disputes between different orders make it seem like the Church is covering up problems.”
“Let’s talk with the kids and get their perspectives. Aaron says they have trouble getting recently rescued kids to open up, even to other kids.”
“We were wrong to assume they will trust us. Trust is all these kids have. When staff abuses them, all participants withhold their trust.”
“After the meetings today, I thought we’d have a party tomorrow at youth group,” I can’t believe it’s already Friday. “Jules and Nina are part of our new band, Dakota,” I pick the name.
“The other project we are working on is using Scorsese’s film about Jace with a portrait project Andy Warhol is doing. They are collaborating on a multi-media exhibit. We want to show the kids at various Jace’s Place. It will be a traveling show at museums. We expect fund-raising to result.”
Father Frank was impressed. “So you need the kids to trust that the project isn’t exploitative.”
“That’s where we all come in.”
“Let’s go talk with some kids.”
St Patrick’s has their shelter in an apartment building off 5th Avenue. We walk over and meet with the staff. They are resistant to allowing us to speak with individual residents.
“We need to protect their privacy,” Brother Ignatius, a Franciscan monk, tries to deter us.
“How about we have a group meeting, so we can meet them. I can describe how Jace’s Place came about?”
“Don’t expect them to bow down and be impressed,” Brother I. remarks. He appears to be protective of his charges. The need to keep control was bubbling up around him.
As the monk organizes a general meeting, Jules and Nina wander off and sit with residents their own age. It doesn’t take long for them to get the residents’ side of the story.
“Kids our age (12-13) are terrorized here. The older kids are allowed to sexually abuse the youngers. It is only a few, but the Franciscan brothers turn a blind eye and/or actively encourage it,” Nina reports.
It is just like Juvie in Miami. I so want to knock the abusers senseless. It is a systemic problem. Rape is your punishment for being sent to Juvie. Exploitation is unending for homeless kids. We had only taken the problem off the streets. No longer visible, these kids are forgotten and abused. I am so mad.
We are introduced to the assembly as band mates of Jace, the patron saint of the shelters. Unlike the Emanu-el group, there is little reaction from the kids. The oldest ones look defiant. The youngers are obviously terrorized.
I light into them all.
“I’m really disappointed with you. Everyone. Staff as well. It takes guts to leave the streets. Everyone has their own story. But everyone here continues the abuse. Abuser, abused, enabler, whatever your role, this is your last chance to break the cycle of exploitation. Either you learn how to trust and love in this life, or you’ll end up on the margins, hated or hating yourselves. I won’t allow it. I’m calling out the abusers. If they refuse to change, they will be kicked out of this program. I am calling out the enablers, the staff who encourage or look the other way. If they don’t find it in their hearts to start protecting you, they will leave as well. And I call out the abused, for not standing up for themselves and for others who are also victims. You have no hope. We will find a way to energize the strength in your hearts to resist the abuse. When we are done here today, everyone will be changed. For the better or the worse, it’s up to you.
“My best friend Jace died when he was 15, shot by his abusive older brother. Until he learned to stand up for himself, his life was miserable. His parents wanted to send him to drug rehab, not to help him, but to get him out of their lives. He stood up to them, with the help of his friends. We discovered he had incredible musical talent. He got the kids in our neighborhood to form a band. He taught us to play from our hearts. It was so much fun. When he died, it affected so many people. 10,000 came to his tribute. We played for six hours. It inspired Jace’s Place. We kept his spirit alive, coming to St Patrick’s last Easter. I saw him resurrected. We went to Times Square and brought 80 kids to be sheltered.”
Looking up, I expected to see shock and worry among the kids. The only reaction was from the angry staff members who glared at me. It was going to be a heavy task to get these kids to break the cycle of abuse.
“I didn’t know that the abuse would follow you here. I now know what is going on. Jace and I will fix this before you leave the room. It will go like this. I will pick out those kids who remain hard-hearted and untrusting. The remaining kids will vote on whether the hard-hearted ones are abusers. Those who receive abuser votes will be given a chance to open their hearts to Jace. He will find the love there they still have and leave a part of his love. You will learn who can be trusted or not. Those who remain, either hard-hearted or closed off, will be helped to find love in their hearts. They will be paired with others who are trusting, learning from them to first trust themselves and then to trust others. Those who reject Jace will be placed at other agencies and leave today. The same will be done for staff. Any staff member who is an abuser or enabler will leave immediately. Those who are unsure if they are open-hearted and trusting will be asked to accept Jace into their hearts, much as you accepted Jesus as a child. It is all about trust. If Jace trusts you, you will decide who stays. Many of you have a hard time trusting, yourself or others. Jace will teach you how to trust.”
Chaos is relative. The shelter has been in chaos. Now it’s in greater chaos. Jace is floating above the group. The individual glow from a trusting heart is coming from many younger and some older kids. More kids are resistant than I expected. Even the staff has several hard-hearted people. Why would anyone want to work with kids if they have no love in their hearts? I know the reason. It scares me to think that they are actual abusers.
The younger kids are seated in the front. I go through the first few rows and only pick those who doubt Jace to be put to the test. Toward the back there are many. I’ll work with them after showing that the mistrust can change. When I have five boys standing up front, I start.
“Look at these boys. Who has been abused? Just raise your hand if you know what they’ve done.”
No hands are raised. I turn to the five.
‘Who wants to have Jace in your heart and to be trusting?” I ask.
They are extremely nervous. No one says they want to change.
I ask the whole group if anyone wants any of the hard-hearted to trust them and to be their friend. All but one has a friend. I nod to Jace. He choses a trusting boy to touch. The boy jumps.
“Come and ask the last boy to trust you to be his friend,” I tell him. Jace prods the others who have said they were friends with the doubters. Five come up.
Jace hovers over each boy until they start to glow. All five pairs open up. I tell them to go sit with their partners. I chose another five from the middle rows. We repeat the exercise and all five pass. The next group is chosen. There is a rustling among a section of the younger ones. Three boys look at each other. All of them stand up and accuse one of the five of bullying. He turns red. Jace hovers. The glow is barely there. I have the three accusers come up and stand before the bully. They glare at him.
“Do you want to stay here by being open-hearted and trusting?” I ask the bully. He looks at his accusers, hoping they will forgive him.
“Will any of you trust him enough to forgive him?”
One boy steps forward. The glow around the bully blossoms. They both smile. I send them to sit down. There are plenty of trusting kids to help the other four closed-hearted ones. They quickly accept each other and are seated. We slowly work our way toward the back rows. Finally there is a group of five mistrusting boys, all seated together. When they come up, the tell-tale rustling confirms that there are abusers in this group.
“I sense that at least one of you is an abuser. The others are at the very least enablers, allowing the abuse to stay secret,” I pronounce.
Turning to the seated kids. “Is there anyone or a group of you that wants to help change these boys to be trusted.”
One of the trusting boys their age comes up.
”I trust George,” he points to one of the accused.
“Can you trust your friend, George?” I ask him.
They both smile.
“Do you want Jace in your heart to tell you who you can trust?”
He nods. Jace places his hands on his shoulder. The glow pops up. I tell them to sit down.
Turning to the other four, “Is there no one out there who you trust and can ask to come up for you?”
They shake their heads.
“Do you trust each other?”
Two of them look at each other.
“Try it,” I suggest.
They face each other, starting to laugh from nervousness.
“This is so gay,” one of them blurts out.
“Nothing to do with that. If you want a normal life, you must be able to trust. Start by trusting your friends.”
“Youse gawna make us hold hands.”
“No. Just look directly at each other and see if you trust each other.”
Jace is hovering while I search for any sign of the glow. No such luck.
“Jace is going to touch your shoulders. If you feel it, say so.”
One of them jumps as soon as Jace touches him.
“You can feel him. It means you are open to his loving heart. Now see if you can trust your friend. Just look at him.”
They at least try. Jace touches the one who previously was impervious. The boy jumps.
“Both of you can trust, but you need to work on it. If you’re religious, ask your heart if Jesus is there. If not, just think about Jace. He changed from an angry, depressed, pot-smoking rebel by standing up to his abusers. His friends learned what musical talent he had. If you stay here, realize that almost everyone is open-hearted and trusting now. And, it’s not gay to trust your friends.”
We are down to the last two. I had isolated them from their friends. I call everyone, young and old, to make a circle around the two.
“These people want to trust you. If you can find it in your hearts to trust them, they will reach out.”
In the back, the same group of younger boys who had glared at the bully, are glaring at the remaining two.
“You three come up here and confront these two. You obviously are mad at them.
“You raped our friend,” the littlest one points to the biggest boy. “He ran away because of you.”
The truth will out.
“Is that true?” I give him the chance to deny it.
“I didn’t mean to,” a confession without contrition.
“How old are you?” I ask the rapist.
“Fourteen,” he answers.
“Do you know what you did is wrong?”
“Yes. I don’t know why I did it.”
I turn to the other, “Did you know about this?”
“Yeah. I was there. I don’t know why we did it.”
“Because you could. Now look at all these other kids. They hate you now. But they’re surrounding you, not to punish you, but to forgive you.”
“What can I do?” the rapist sniffs. Tears for once are a good sign.
“You first must want to gain these kids’ trust. Then you must build their trust in you. The first step is to find the kid who ran away. He’s the victim. The betrayal of every other one’s trust is the secondary effect. Then you have to figure out why you could do something so hateful.”
Maybe I should have mentioned he could go to jail for his crime. Teen Jesus gives me a pass on that one.
All the kids have been judged. None has to leave. Even the tough guys show they can open their hearts. We need Dr. Kam to work on their psyches.
I turn to the staff, standing together at the side.
“Is there any adult here who is guilty of abuse and knows they should leave immediately?”
No one steps forward.
I turn to the kids.
“Does anyone know about an abusive staff member? Just raise a hand.”
There was some rustling but no one is prepared to step up.
Jace is hovering and three staff members lack any glow about them. I motion for all three to come forward.
“I sense that none of you is very trusting and open. I wonder why you want to work with kids if you can’t love them?”
They shake their heads.
I point to one, turn toward the kids, and ask, “Raise your hand if you want him to stay.”
No raised hands.
“Not anyone who feels he can be trusted?”
Still no response.
“Go to the Cathedral office. They’ll find you a better job.”
It was the same with number 2. He is dismissed.
Number 3 gets several votes to keep him. I ask his defenders to come and explain to everyone else why we should keep him. I have them face the staff member. The glow pops up over him.
“I think you’re a tough guy with a soft spot in your heart for the kids. Learn to be more open. The kids deserve having you on their side.”
I look around. Jules and Nina are sitting up front with kids their age. Jules is definitely agitated by what he observed. I have to admit it seems like something out of ‘1984.’ We have to talk.
Jace is still hovering. There are a couple of kids without a glow. Based on Jules’ reaction I decide not to convert any more kids. The corruption of abuse has been eliminated. They have to open up on their own.
“What’s up, Jules. It was too much, huh?”
“You’re scary, mate. You reminded me of me old headmaster at Grammar School. Not nice.”
“Someone has to bust some chops.”
“The ends don’t justify the means. It’s like mind control. Clockwork Orange.”
“Real horrorshow, eh?”
He just stares at me.
I gather Nina and Jules. We all go to the office to meet with Father Frank. I can tell that Brother Ignatius is seething.
“That was interesting,” Father Frank suggests.
“We need to send kids out to find the kid who ran away.”
“It’s a big city. I’m not sure we should send these kids out on the streets,” the stubborn Jesuit answers.
“I tore new assholes out there. They need a project to build themselves back up. Let them try to find the boy. His friends may know where to start.”
Brother Ignatius looks shocked at my language. Jules is giggling. Nina punches him.
“Brother Ignatius,” I address him, “can you organize the search?”
He is glad to be rid of me, leaving us alone in the office. I turn to Father Frank.
“I feel you’ve been frustrated by the obstacles keeping the shelters from really working.”
“You kicked butt, as you said. But turning around the Church on these issues is a huge task. The Cardinals won’t accept that there is abuse and that priests allow it to happen.”
“Instead of trying to convince Cardinal Cooke to change things, we started to empower the kids. Jace’s Place will succeed if kids learn they can stand up for themselves. Brother Ignatius has to go.”
“I gave up on that and retreated to Miami. He’s too entrenched with the Cardinal’s staff.”
“Well, if we can’t fire him, he can be promoted to a position where he no longer works with kids and hurts the program.”
“The old Peter Principle.”
“He is a dick.”
“How do you know? You just met him.”
“I can size up a bureaucrat.”
“Does Jace tell you?”
“No. Many people are closed-hearted, but it’s his action and reaction that tell me. He’s pissed I dismissed two of his staff. Instead of organizing a search party, I bet he’s at the Cardinal’s office trying to get me removed from ‘his’ facility.”
“You’re good at this, Tim.”
“Let’s head him off at the pass. I trust Cardinal Cooke to know an obstructionist.”
I turn my attention to Jules and Nina.
“Can you organize the search party?”
They perk up, bored by all the office politics.
“Find that staff guy with the tough exterior and soft spot. He will protect you on the street. Take the boy’s friends. They may know where to look.”
They run off to get organized.
Sure enough, when we reach Cardinal Cook’s office, Brother Ignatius is in with his eminence. I brush past the assistants, with Father Frank and Jack in tow.
“You said you would organize a search party for the boy who was raped.” I accuse the brother.
That gets the Cardinal’s attention.
“In good time, son. You are too impatient and impertinent.” Brother Ignatius puts me off.
I direct my ire toward the Cardinal.
“A twelve year-old is raped by an older boy. The victim runs away to the streets. The rapist confesses and repents. Why isn’t it important to rescue the victim?”
“Everyone sit down,” Cardinal Cooke turns down the temperature in his office. “Brother Ignatius says you were running a Baptist revival at the shelter. You attempted to fire two staff members and turn the children against each other.”
“I identified who the abusers and enablers are. Those who are staff were told to come here and look for reassignment, away from working with children.”
“That does sound high-handed,” the Cardinal remarks.
“How would you treat child rapists and their protectors?”
He blanches. “I’m sure it was an isolated incident.”
“I was at the Emanu-el shelter yesterday. They told me what is going on here at St Patrick’s. I have two more days before I have to go home. Jack is staying to treat a medical condition from a Baptist ritual. He will continue to monitor this situation. If the good brother is fearful that we are running a revival, it is because we can see into his heart and know it is closed to the love of Jesus.”
The Cardinal appears to be considering what I said, taking a moment to calm everyone down.
“I want to speak with Tim separately. He never told me what happened here at Easter. After we talk, I’ll decide what to do at the shelter.”
Once we’re alone, he goes back to Jace’s resurrection.
“You asked me to save you one of Jace’s mini-diamonds,” as he brings out a small wooden box. Inside was a sparkling diamond.
“It’s the last one. All the others disintegrated. I kept this one for you.”
“They pop like soap-bubbles when touched by anyone who’s heart is closed to Jace.”
“I guess I still believe in your miracle,” as he hands me the gem.
Jace joins us, as a glow emanates from the diamond. We both smile.
“I ran away last Easter because I didn’t create this miracle. I just kept Jace’s spirit alive until he could ascend to heaven. Now his spirit is here with us. Can you sense him?”
“I see him smiling at you.”
“We really love each other. I know he died but he remains alive in my life. Since Easter he has touched many lives.”
“He is Teen Jesus?”
“He is a parable that says you can make many mistakes, as all teenagers do, and not lose the love of the Jesus in your heart.”
“I can’t dispute that.”
“The Church teaches that Jesus is disappointed in kids when they do wrong.”
“The Church is about forgiveness and redemption.”
“Then why do so many kids feel they have lost Jesus’s love?”
“Doctrine is meant to protect children from sin.”
“Jace wants to protect the children from sin, not keep them ignorant.”
“The Church can only interpret a message that is 2,000 years old.”
“The weight of those years keeps the Church from accepting it has lost its way. When you are on the wrong road, it is hard to turn around and retrace your steps.”
“I have a great affection for you, Tim. It hurt that you avoided me after Easter.”
“Well, it wasn’t that hard for me to retrace my steps. We have to protect these kids. Will you get together with the Abyssinian Baptist and Temple Emanu-el’s leaders to evaluate what needs to change to make Jace’s Place succeed?”
“What do I do with Brother Ignatius?”
“Promote him to a position where he can’t harm kids.”
“The kids are out looking for the boy who ran away. If we find him, we’ll play a concert to celebrate the revival of Jace’s spirit at Youth Group tomorrow.”
He hugs me. I give him the diamond back, too many people in my life find it hard to believe.
Cardinal Cooke has Brother Ignatius return to his office.
“We have to find that boy,” I tell Father Frank and Jack.
“What about the good Brother?”
“He gets the promotion he deserves.”
At the shelter, the staff member, Eric, calls in to say they are canvasing at Times Square. We ask for volunteers from the kids to help search. They are glad to get out of classes early on Friday. Teams are organized, with a staff member responsible to protect the kids on each team. I call Aaron and speak with his father. He agrees they will create teams from Emanu-el youths to search. A photo of the boy is reproduced and copies sent to the Temple. We call Reverend Butts at Abyssinian Baptist. He agrees to organize a search in Harlem. At least the boy will stand out there. Photos are sent to Pastor Butts, asking if any kids know the boy or have a clue where to look for him. It’s a needle in a haystack task. 10 million residents in New York, one runaway 12 year-old. I even call Tina’s dad and ask to have Tina and Pete search in the Bronx.
We meet Eric and the team with Nina and Jules at Times Square. They are excited by the challenge and enjoy meeting kids their own age. No one knows them for their famous parents for once. No leads turn up in Times Square. Each team is required to check-in every hour in order to share leads. I have an idea.
“Let’s go to Battery Park. I hustled there.”
They’re all shocked.
“My cousin would shake down perverts who tried to pick me up when I was 14.”
Only the rich kids are surprised, including Jack.
“You hustled?” he whispers.
“Joey just used me as bait.”
Jace and Jack are shocked. Jules and Nina think I’m cool again.
We come out of the subway and walk to the ferry landing. The three friends of the boy spot him instantly. He is leaning against the same railing where I had been picked up three years ago. Running up to him, it is a bitter-sweet reunion. The boy is mortified that his friends caught him hustling. They quickly convince him to return to the shelter.
“This boy made Dan confess what he did to you,” as they introduce me to the victim, Thomas.
“I hate Dan,” Thomas vehemently spits out the name.
“This is our band, Dakota, Thomas. We’re going to play tomorrow at Youth Group. Dan will confess to everyone and ask your forgiveness.”
“I’ll never forgive him,” the boy starts to cry. His friend walk him around the Park, getting him to calm down.
Just another challenge for Teen Jesus.
Eric and Father Frank take Thomas and his friends back to the shelter. Since we’re in Lower Manhattan, I decide to drop in on Andy at the Factory. I hope he’ll do portraits of Nina and Jules. Blair is flustered when we show up unannounced. I’m over assistants playing defense and brush past him like ‘Gator blitzing a quarterback. Andy looks up and smiles.
“My favorite boyfriends,” he laughs, “and who are these urchins?”
“They’re in our new band, ‘Dakota.’ Jules and Nina. They’ve been rescuing homeless kids all morning.”
“Jesus, they’re younger than you were when I met you.”
“Three years ago, Andy. You were going to make me a star.”
“What a trashy pickup line.”
“What a trashy movie.”
“So, what did Scorsese say?”
“He’s busy but we can use the footage. When it comes to editing, it’ll be interesting to see you work together. He’s a genius in the editing room.”
“I just want to take the Polaroids. You havta tell him how to edit it.”
“Wanna take the kids Big Shot portraits?”
We go down to the studio. The Big Shot is so retro, you can’t adjust the focal length. The subject has to move until they’re in focus. For adults, it means only head shots fit in each frame. Nina and Jules are small enough that they both fit into the same frame.
To get candid shots, Andy talks with them. When he asks about getting parental permission to use their portraits in the Jace’s Place project, Jules demurs.
“You’ll never get their permission. They never agree to anything I want.”
“A bit young to be rebelling,” Andy remarks.
“It’s my evil step-mother. She’s an artist. She has to control everything, including me.”
“She’s an artist? Do I know her?”
“Yoko Ono, Beatles buster.”
“Oh, I know Yoko. She’ll let me do it. I’ll ask her for you. And, you Nina. Are your parents famous too.”
“Yeah. My dad’s Leonard Bernstein. They’re normal, Jewish parents. Give me a release.”
All the banter is taking place as Andy continues to shoot the kids. He does individual shots, but the paired ones seem more expressive. They talk about going to the shelter and the search for the runaway in Times Square, and finding him in Battery Park.
“That’s where Tim hustled when he was 14.” Jules can’t help himself.
“I was just bait for one of Joey’s scams. He scared this guy trying to pick me up so much that they guy dropped his wallet and ran. Joey gave me $40 as his partner in crime.”
“That was the day we met?”
“You and I were strictly after hours friends.”
“Now we’re in the paper every day.”
“I can’t go home to Miami because Andy and I were photographed making out.” Jack adds.
“We don’t make out!” the kids announce.
“Goodness,” Andy screams. “You don’t want to be celebrities and turn out like your parents?”
“My parents are nice,” Nina defends them.
“Your dad’s a composer. He’s famous, not a jet-setting celebrity.”
“My parents are cunts,” Jules declares.
“Just as I said,” Andy agrees. “Let’s go for cocktails at Max’s.”
Over drinks, and Cokes for the kids, we discuss the art project. Only Jack has actually seen the finished film, and his impression is prejudiced by its failure to obtain a distribution deal. I call Marty’s assistant who reluctantly agrees to send a copy to the Dakota. Jack calls Mummy to confirm they have a projector and screen for a 16 mm film. She is disappointed we will miss the cocktail hour but suggests we all come for dinner. We mentioned that Andy is with us. She is thrilled, which is a surprise.
“Oh, she’s just as much a celebrity whore as anyone,” Jack confirms.
Andy calls Blair to order a car for all of us. Nina calls her parents, but they are otherwise engaged this evening. They promise to stop by on their way out. Julian say his parents are too busy taking care of his baby brother to be able to attend. I’m thrilled to be seeing the film, my debut. I’m determined not to become star-struck on myself. I’ll view the film footage as part of Andy’s exhibit. We want his eye to frame it and Marty’s expertise to edit.
Mummy whips up a fabulous dinner party. The staff is pleased to be put through their paces. Though, I miss Isabelle.
The cocktail hour has been extended. We are asked to repeat the previous night’s performance of “Somewhere’ from ‘Westside Story’. Just to make the evening perfect, the Bernsteins drop by as we get ready to perform. The composer compliments us as it is the first time he has heard it performed on guitar. He kisses Nina and says her voice is ‘exquisite, much nicer than Natalie Wood in that horrid Hollywood version.’ We are all thrilled as they rush off.
Dinner is served.
Mummy seats Nina next to here, to avoid her being ‘overwhelmed’ by the mostly male company. Maybe Jack is no longer her favorite daughter.
Daddy listens to our discussion on the art project, as we have coffee and brandy.
“Have you considered how the financial side of the exhibition will be structured?” He sounds like an actual investment banker.
“Usually I get an upfront fee for an exhibit, plus any sales less commissions on individual pieces,” Andy explains.
“Seems like the intent is to raise funds for the project as well as generate publicity and fame for the artist.”
“You’re not asking that I forego my sales for charity?”
“Certainly not, but if the exhibit is curated to be a showcase for the charity, the commercial side of the exhibit may have to be muted. On the other hand, this is an exhibit that is unlike any other. It is a performance piece with varied elements – motion picture film, Polaroid Big Shots, silk screened paintings, as well as non-professional models and a spiritual presence.”
“What do you think, Tim? What’s the point of view?”
“Jace wants to protect kids.”
“Is it working?”
I frown. The day’s experience makes me worry.
“I think we need to spotlight the kids who are being protected as well as those still out there being abused.”
“So, we should be raising money to fund the shelters.”
“That’s secondary to showing how kids who suffer from abuse can stand up for themselves. It’s not about saving the children. It’s about them saving themselves.”
I relate our experiences at St Patrick’s shelter that day. I hope it is instructive.
Andy gets it. “You got the kids to stand up and identify the abusers. Then they went out and rescued one of their own.”
“If Jules and Nina hadn’t been able to communicate with the kids their age, we would have been clueless to the problems.”
The kids beam. Jules looked less conflicted about the ‘1984’ aspects of my ‘Jace is Watching You’ revival.
The movie is set up and ready to show, while we settle into the couches and chairs. There’s a knock on the door and Jules’ dad walks in.
“Sorry to interrupt. The baby’s driving me crazy. Are you watching a cinema?”
“Sit over here, Da,” Julian makes space between him and Nina.
The credits roll.
“Ah, Scorsese. I love him. I never heard of this one. What’s it called.”
“’Evil Rocker Dad’, “ Nina pipes up.
Everyone, including John, laughs.
Suddenly, Trend and Bent arrive with several of their ‘A’ list Collegiate friends. When they see Andy Warhol and John Lennon in their living room, they quickly shut up and spread out on the floor. They are experts on spotting celebrities.
Jack has seen the movie many times. He reaches over and hugs me so tightly, tears flowing down my cheeks. I suppress the sobs, only because he’s squeezing me. Under a still of Jace, were the dates” ‘ b. March 18, 1959 – d. December 28, 1974’. The plot moves back and forth between the recording studio’s 16th birthday orgy and the concert footage with our dubbed music tracks. The Stones are taken aback when Jack goes off with Edi for their part in the orgy. He turns quite red. His cousins are staring intently at him. He ignores them. After some concert footage, Mrs. Watt’s long reminiscence about Jace’s Christmas caroling is followed by John’s tearful story of how they had been abused and how Jace and I stood up to their violent brother. There are many shots of Jack and me making out, which is old news, even to the Collegiate kids who believe we are now married, at least in Europe. The final concert scene is in the parking lot with many lit Bics and us playing ‘With a Little Help from our Friends.’ After the closing credits is a copy of the Miami Herald article with the headline “Teen Rocker’s Brother Convicted of Manslaughter.’
An appendage comes on after the credits. It is the recording of the Easter service at St Patrick’s. As Jack and I play Pink Floyd’s ‘Crazy Diamond’,
the glow around the crucifix explodes and diamonds burst out. The final credit tells of Jace’s request to protect the children and describes the creation of Jace’s Places at the three places of worship.
The lights come on.
“Why didn’t they play my song, ‘(All you need is) Love’?” John asks.
“We did, but you don’t sell the rights for movies,” I answer.
He looks at me, then at Jules, and back at me. “This is your movie? We did band movies. Yer trying to kip our idea?”
“Someone shot the footage without sound. Scorsese got us to record the songs and put it together. He took it to Cannes but no one picked it up. It got an award for the most amount of fagging off.”
John laughs, “At least ya got that right.”
Andy speaks up. “I may use it for my new portraits exhibit, John.”
“Oh, hi Andy. You’re here? How’d they get you involved?”
“I discovered Tim when he was 14. But he’s not my youngest protégées,” as he points to Jules and Nina.
“We went to teen homeless shelters today and then rescued a street kid in Battery Park, Da.” Jules looks hopeful for approval.
“How in blazes did ya get to Battery Park?”
“We took the subway.”
“Oh, bloody hell. Does your mother know about this?”
Jules is crestfallen.
“We spoke with her this morning. She was concerned that Julian was on the Post’s gossip page.” I step in.
“Why were you in the Post?” he demands of Jules.
“We were just singing in the lobby. The paparazzi is stalking Tim and Jack. We’re performing tomorrow afternoon at St Patrick’s.”
“You’re going to Church?” There was no pleasing this celebrity.
“It’s for the homeless kids, da, Jace’s Place.”
“That’s what this is all about, promoting a movie that wasn’t picked up?”
“It’s about my exhibit of Big Shot Polaroid portraits,” Andy interjects.
“Yoko may be jealous.” John jokes.
“You could always do some of your sketches?” I ask.
He glares at me. “You seem to have the same performance junkie gene that I do. Please avoid infecting Jules.”
“Too late,” I joke, which makes him frown.
“All I wanted was to stop being annoyed by a screaming baby. Instead my other son is screaming for attention. I must be the father of the year.” Everyone laughs as he stomps out. Jules starts to follow him, but Nina holds him back.
“How long can we keep this copy?” Andy asks, as he gets up..
“You can take it to the Factory. Just don’t let anyone else get a hold of it. I understand Marty rents it out to friends who fancy teenage faggots.”
“Are you leaving?” I ask Andy. “Try to make our performance at St Patrick’s tomorrow. I’ll call Blair.”
“I can’t leave without thanking our hosts,” he turns to the Stones. Manners must still exist in Pittsburgh, if not in Liverpool. “It’s been a wonderful evening.”
Laying in bed, I’m the needy one, hanging on to Jack.
“You liked seeing the movie, didn’t you?” he asks.
Jace snuggles in on the other side of me, hoping I’m up for a three-way fuck sandwich. Jack is definitely revved up. I’m so used to my reduced libido that it doesn’t bother me that all I want is to fall asleep surrounded by those who I truly love. It’s been a long day. Jules is right; I’m old.
I wake up just as dawn is breaking over Central Park. Jack smiles at me and we move over to the couch by the window to wait for the sun. Mid-winter but there was no snow in NYC. We cuddle underneath warm blankets.
“I guess I’m not the only one with residual symptoms,” Jack laments.
“Sorry to not be into it last night.”
“You slept right through Jace and me going at it.”
“I’m glad you didn’t miss out. Yesterday was weird. So much to do. Jules thinks I’m old.”
Jack tweaks my dick by snapping my briefs. I’m back!
We pull the chaise over to the window and watch the breaking dawn coming up. Jack is happy to let me fuck him. I throw his legs over my shoulders and he squirms until I fully enter him. My stomach muscles are rippling as I rock against his straining dick. It starts its twisting back and forth that means he’s about to go over the edge. I thrust as deeply as possible and hold myself rigid and straining. I ride him deeper with every spurt that lets loose deep inside him.
The door flies open and the cousins burst in. They are shocked to see us in coital climax. The sun is up as well, spotlighting our lovemaking.
“Jesus,” they both cry and run out. We forgot to lock the door.
Barely finished we start to laugh. I’m deep inside Jack. We’re both covered in his cum. Shower time.