It is an embarrassing breakfast. I wonder why the cousins live alone at the Dakota. As we go up to 407 to meet Nina and Jules, Jack explains that his parents don’t get along with the cousins’ parents. While the Stones are in town, they chose to be in Vermont at the farm that Daddy despises. The brothers have to stay in the City for school. The trials and tribulations of the very rich.
Jules answers the door quickly. He’s as excited about performing as Jack had been about greeting the dawn. Nina is her relaxed self. She’s a bit older than Jules, probably his best female friend when they grow older, not the girl next door. Having now met his dad, it doesn’t seem odd that he is so needy for friends at the Dakota. Being in a band and about to perform for his peers is obviously a highlight of his 7th grade year. I wonder why he doesn’t want to attend school. No one wants needs answers to these questions. We just get into the music. Nina brings out her Moog, which is fun to play with. On simple songs, such as ‘Help from my Friends,’ she plays the bass guitar notes. She switches it to organ mode on the more psychedelic songs, such as Hendrix’s ‘Are You Experienced.’
We’re having so much fun that the time flies by. Youth Group at St Patrick’s is scheduled for 1 pm. The Dakota concierge staff helps us move the drums, amps and instruments into a Town Car. We arrive with plenty of time to set up. Father Frank greets us.
“I invited the Jace’s Place kids from St Patrick’s, Emanu-el and Abyssinian Baptist to attend. We’re going to do it in the Cathedral.”
Jace is ecstatic to be returning to his place of ascension. He flies up to the crucifix and sits on the crossbeam. The sun comes out and bathes the nave in golden light. Catholics know how to put on a show.
The Cathedral holds 3,000 parishioners. The homeless kids number about 300 and adding the youth group attendees, we will have a total of 500. I hope we can play loud enough not to be diminished by the size of the room. We set up in the Nave and check the sound system. At Easter, we added amps due to the inadequate Cathedral electronics. I’m pleased to see they have upgraded. It takes a while to get our levels right. Jules will have to thunder from the drums for us to really rock. Kids are already arriving during our sound check. Jack reminds me not to preach to the kids. I see his parents and the cousins sitting toward the back. I tell Jack it’s up to him to talk with the kids.
“You do it best. What will I say?” he complains.
“Ask Teen Jesus.”
He smiles. Jace comes down from on high and stands with him.
We’re set to perform. Jack asks Father Frank to speak, while we sit in the Choir seats beside the pulpit.
It’s 1 pm. Father Frank walks to the far pews and gets the kids there to move up front. There are quite a few adults, mostly youth group parents intrigued (and shocked) that rock and roll is being played at the Cathedral. Cardinal Cooke and his staff stay at the back. Once the kids gather up front, Father Frank turns and starts our introduction.
“I never knew Jace while he was alive, but I feel I got to know his spirit through Johnny and Tim. They kept Jace’s band going after his death. They were inspired by the musical talent Jace discovered once he stood up for himself. He found the strength needed to confront his older brother who abused him. He found his love of music, rock and roll. He and his friends went on a musical journey. That journey brought them here last Easter where Jace reenacted the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Jace’s message is to protect the children.
“Seated here today are many children who have chosen to become part of the Jace’s Place project, standing up to abuse by banding together and defending each other. They are no longer victims of abuse, rather they are defenders of youth against abuse. So, stand up here, in the eyes of your peers and community, if you have conquered abuse.”
The kids who are listening, about half, stand up. The rest stand up because everyone else is standing. The youth group, their parents, Church staff and other adults stand up and applaud them. Even Mummy and Daddy are there. The cousins stand but look confused, wondering if they’re victims of being rich. Then I see that Jules’ and Nina’s parents are there with Cardinal Cook. His eminence looks pleased. Jules is shook up and trembling. I reach over and hold his hand until he calms down.
“Isn’t this what you want?” I whisper.
He nods and looks like a little boy for once.
Father Frank goes on.
“Some might question the use of rock and roll at Church. I have to commend Cardinal Cooke, the youngest American Cardinal, for seeing the joy and inspiration in today’s young people and their music.
“The name of the band is ‘Dakota.’ I may need volunteers afterward to chase away the devil, but I know you’re in for a treat.”
We run out from behind the pulpit to enthusiastic clapping.
Jack grabs a mic as we get set. “Hi. I’m Jack. I play guitar with my boyfriend Tim. Nina’s on Moog. Jules plays drums and guitar. We all sing ‘cause we like to. This song is for the kids who came in from the streets, ‘Street Fightin’ Man,’ by the Stones.
All four of us sing. A few brave kids jump out of their seats and are shaking it in the pews. I notice that Jules’ dad has a wry smile when we don’t play Beatles to start.
Jack has the mic again. “This song is what all kids need.” He turns and whispers, ‘Gimme Shelter.’
More kids respond to the need to find shelter.
“How about Bowie to tell us who we are,” Jack shouts. We jump into “Heroes.”
The kids are out of the pews and running down front. The beat is slow as they gyrate, jumping up and down.
Jack runs over to Jules and asks if he remembers all the words to Donovan’s Atlantis. He vigorously nods.
“Let’s slow it down. Jules will do his memories of coming to New York from England and where he lost he way – ‘way down below the ocean’. You need to be lost before you can be found, ‘Atlantis.’
Jules speaks the intro in his high boyish voice with a Liverpool/Irish lilt echoing throughout the Cathedral.
‘The continent of Atlantis was an island
Which lay before the great flood
In the area we now call the Atlantic Ocean.
So great an area of land,
That from her western shores
Those beautiful sailors journeyed
To the South and the North Americas with ease,
In their ships with painted sails.
To the East Africa was a neighbour,
Across a short strait of sea miles.
The great Egyptian age is
But a remnant of The Atlantian culture.
The antediluvian kings colonised the world
All the Gods who play in the mythological dramas
In all legends from all lands were from far Atlantis.
Knowing her fate,
Atlantis sent out ships to all corners of the Earth.
On board were the Twelve:
The poet, the physician, The farmer, the scientist,
The magician and the other so-called Gods of our legends.
Though Gods they were –
And as the elders of our time choose to remain blind
Let us rejoice
And let us sing
And dance and ring in the new Hail Atlantis!’
Donovan, Gabriel Mekler
The dancing slows down which allows more kids into the aisles and in the front of the nave.
“You might get the impression we have a bit of a British invasion in this band, so to provide some balance, Nina will sing this song, on how tough it is to be a kid in New York City.
We let Nina solo on ‘Officer Krupke,’ backing her up on the chorus.
“It’s tough out there. Ya havta have friends ya can count on. Right, Jules?”
He sings the into to ‘A Little Help from my Friends’, his high voice pleading throughout the Cathedral’s vaulted ceiling.
‘What would you do if I sang out of tune?
Would you stand up and walk out on me?
Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song
I will try not to sing out of key’
Songwriters: JOHN LENNON, PAUL MCCARTNEY
© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
It’s too much for John. He comes running down the crowded aisle, yelling, “I didn’t give you permission to play my song.”
“Hey, it’s Joe Cocker’s song.” Jack disputes him.
“Right,” John snorts, going up to Jules and giving him a big hug. Next he picks up Jules’ guitar. “I know where this is going. This is my song, ‘Love is all you need’. God Save the Queen.”
It would be nice to say that all the kids start hugging each other. They just ignore the family dynamics and dance to the beat. Father Frank has set up a photographer to take some stills. It’s a record of the performance but the stills fail to capture the moment for the Lennons, the Stones, and the Bernsteins. I want to jam with a Beatle, but I keep my mouth shut. It’s all about the kids.
The Stones take everyone to ’21.’ I hoped for Sardi’s, but I’m just a kid from Iowa. When John and Yoko say they’ll come, I call Blair to get Andy to meet us there. All three sets of parents sit together, while we’re relegated to a separate table. We’re in a private dining room, too many for the front room. Andy arrives shortly, sitting with us, after greeting the adults. John and Yoko decide they want to be at the kids’ table, too.
“Tell me about using the Polaroid Big Shot,” Yoko quizzes Andy.
“It creates depth and fine detail you can’t get with other cameras. The only problem is there is no focal length adjustment. The frame will only fit a single head shot.”
“Is it worth the effort?” John asks.
“Each print is stunning. Yesterday I did Julian and Nina. They’re so young, both heads fit into a single frame.”
“I’m not sure I want Julian’s photo to become public,” John is either being protective or jealous.
“Why not let me do you both? It can be a family collage.”
“Only if you let me do you,” Yoko counters. Artists are shameless self-promoters.
I turn to Julian, who is bored with the adult conversation.
“Will you look after Jack while I’m away?”
“You’re not coming back?” they both exclaim.
I look at Jack. “Can I come back?”
He opens his mouth but nothing comes out.
Jace pops up. “You’ve done it again. He can’t deal with you leaving.”
“Jack’s lost his speech again,” I tell the table.
“We’ll sing for him,” Nina suggests.
“What’s wrong with him?” John asks.
“He’s snake-bit,” Julian explains, which shuts up his parents.
“Last time we sang ‘A Little Help from My Friends,’ he got his voice back and joined in,” Nina remarks.
“Then, we’ll all sing ‘Help,’” John decides. He starts, with all of us singing along with the Beatle.
‘Help, I need somebody
Help, not just anybody
Help, you know I need someone
‘When I was younger, so much younger than today
I never needed anybody’s help in any way
But now these days are gone I’m not so self-assured
Now I find I’ve changed my mind and opened up the doors
Help me if you can, I’m feeling down
And I do appreciate you being ’round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won’t you please, please help me?
And now my life has changed in oh so many ways
My independence seems to vanish in the haze
But every now and then I feel so insecure
I know that I just need you like I’ve never done before.’
‘Help me if you can, I’m feeling down
And I do appreciate you being ’round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won’t you please, please help me?’
LENNON, JOHN / MCCARTNEY, PAUL
Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
The rest of us continue, even Yoko in her other-worldly singing voice.
Once we’re done, Jack looks so satisfied.
“Now you have to stay,” he announces.
“Did you just lose your voice again?” Mummy asks.
“I can’t stand that Tim is leaving,” is his excuse.
“You can’t always get your way, Jack,” Daddy pronounces.
“But, Daddy, it makes me so sad.”
“Grow up, kid. Privilege doesn’t mean you get to tell everyone what to do.” John tells Jack.
“I’ll be back, Jack. I need my family, too,” I plead.
“Then let me go back with Tim. He knows how to get my speech back,” Jack turns to his father.
“No!” the kids cry. “We just started the band.”
Mummy puts her foot down. “This argument is ruining my meal. We’ll discuss this at home.”
“Finally someone shows some sense,” Yoko approves.
As the adults discuss and argue about the bill, I announce that Jack and I are walking to the Dakota. The kids come along. Since we’re holding hands, Julian has Nina’s hand as we walk up Central Park West.
It’s a pleasant spring evening, for March at least.
“Why do you fight so much,” Nina asks.
“It’s just bickering,” Jack explains. “You should see Tim really fight. He knocked out two football players and subdued three more when we got jumped on New Year’s Eve. He’s my hero,” as he hugs me.
“Me football mates is always fighting,” Julian brags.
“That’s English football. American football players are humongous. My best friend is called ‘Gator after ‘Gatorsaurous.”
“American football is lame. You wear armor padding and play stops after ten seconds of action,” Julian argues.
“That’s ‘cause it’s so intense. English football goes on forever and nobody ever scores.”
“I can’t believe we’re arguing about sports when Tim is leaving tomorrow,” Jack complains, with Nina nodding her head in agreement.
“Ya havta leave, mate?” Jules asks me. “ Everyone else in New York is arseholes.”
“Yeah,” I don’t explain but pull him into a hug.
He’s a little stiff. Nina is a more enthusiastic hugger, after he shrugs me away.
Jack whistles ‘We’re Off to See the Wizard,” as all four of skip up the avenue.
Once at the Dakota, Julian’s sang froid evaporates inside the elevator. He grabs me in a big hug.
“Thank you. Thank you. I never really felt like I had a dad until today. You make everything so special. I know you must go, but I will miss you so.”
I hold him by the shoulders, “Sounds like the first two lines of a song for the band. Let’s have breakfast together tomorrow at the Tavern on the Green. Yes?”
He and Nina both hug me.
“Hey, what about me? I have to pay for it.” Jack complains.
They both hug him, complaining, “But you’re not leaving.”
We leave them smiling on the elevator.
After a long discussion, it’s agreed that Jack could go back to Iowa after the doctors clear him. He promises he will graduate in June and go off to college in the fall. Neither of us have done anything about college applications.
“Oh, you have early admission to Harvard, Jack,” Mummy informs him.
“Boston? Ew, they still burn witches there,” he jokes.
I keep my mouth shut. I’ll have him for at least the next six months. I’m more interested in our next eight hours in bed. I figure I can sleep on the plane. For the first time since the Chelsea in April, I am definitely up for some hardcore, mad crazy fucking.
“Lock the door,” I order once we’re alone in the bedroom.
He gives me a look as he sees the lust in my eyes. He quickly secures our room from the cousins. Grabbing him roughly, I undo the top buttons of his Oxford shirt and pull it halfway down his arms, trapping them to prevent any resistance. There’s a sparkle in his eyes now. I pull down his pants and briefs, turning him around, and push him prone on the bed. He is quickly moaning, murmuring, ‘fuck me, fuck me.”
I’m not about to take his orders. I restrain from reaching a climax, until after he goes off below me. Pushing him down into the pooled cum, I roll him on his back so he was completely covered in his own ejaculate and slime. I collapse on top of him and go instantly asleep. By the time I wake up, he has rolled us on our sides. The sticky glue of jism has hardened. Jack trying to detach himself from me is what wakes me up. We are stuck together.
“This what you want, isn’t it? glued together forever?” I mock him.
“Let’s just shower. I feel gross,” he whines.
I rip ourselves apart as we both scream. He is crying under me, when the cousins pound on the door, asking what is going on.
“Go fag off on each other,” I yell at them. Jack giggles.
Our next session is similar, except I’m just trying to get off, not hurt him. I remain impassive and detached, fucking his ass to climax in about five minutes. He feels like a rag doll under me, as my thrusting knocks him about the bed. He is tossing his head back and forth as his dick reaches its climax. We’re done.
In the morning, I drag Jack to the window overlooking Central Park, wrapped up together in a blanket on the chaise facing the dawn. He is very compliant after our night of mad fucking.
“This is how it’s going to work,” I order. “You’ll join me after Father Frank and you straighten out the mess at St Patrick’s. Your good manners will serve you well dealing with Cardinal Cooke’s staff. Refuse to deal with Brother Ignatius. Since Aaron and Paul attend Youth Group at St Patrick’s, they can serve as liaison with Emanu-el. That staff can train the St Patrick’s staff on spotting possible abusers.”
Jack just nods that he understands.
“Take Aaron and Paul to Abyssinian Baptist in Harlem and help them root out any problems. Nina and Jules can help you by getting the kids singing. Those Baptists love to sing. No snakes allowed.”
He laughs, which is a good sign.
“Cooperate with the shrinks at Columbia-Presbyterian, so they clear you to return to Ames. I will be waiting for you. My shrink Dr. Kamikaze is a genius. You’ll love him.”
Jack hasn’t said a word. I kiss him, making him moan. I’m not sure if he is still horny or his butt is aching.
We go up to 407 and take the kids for breakfast at Tavern on the Green. Again we walk down Central Park West, hand-in-hand. We dress for Church, although no one says we’ll actually go that Sunday morning. The restaurant recently reopened. We sit in the Crystal Room, overlooking the Park. Tables are crowded together, lacking the intimacy of Saturday night’s dining at ’21.’ We agree not to sing, even though I know Jack has lost his speaking voice (again). The rest of us can speak with him through Jace, who says Jack is mortified that he’s acting out again. I propose that all three of us hold Jack’s hands and ask him to speak.
“Tell me what you liked best about last night,” I ask, thinking he’d say something about singing with Jules’ father.
“Mad, crazy fucking,” he croaks, causing heads to turn in the restaurant.
Jules and Nina turn bright red.
“Well, at least that’s got you speaking again,” I rationalize. “Now you know Nina and Jules can cure you if you get stuck again.
“Once I get over you leaving, I should be fine,” he speaks in a more normal voice. “Mummy and Dad say I can go to Iowa when I’m cured.”
“Oh, no,” the kids cry. “You can’t leave. You’re our only friends.”
“What about Aaron and Paul?” Jack asks.
“Well, they’re our new friends. You’re our old friends.” Nina makes the distinction between 3 day and 2 day friends.
We all laugh.
“Come to Iowa. We’re avoiding snakes from now on.” I suggest.
“I want to meet a real Red Indian,” Jules is only twelve.
“They were all sent further west. How about a real ‘Gator?”
“He’s my best friend, the football player.”
“Oh no, not more sports,” Nina complains.
We pig out on the Sunday brunch. Needing a walk in the Park to settle our stomachs, we first go to the Bethesda Memorial fountain. Jack and I tell the story of our walk in the park with NYC kids on Monday after Easter, ending with Michael sweeping Jena off her feet.
Then we go to mass at St Patrick’s. We promise not to tell Jules’ parents.
“You should visit us in Iowa. You’ll love my shrink. He’s Japanese and very zen.”
“Sorry. I have enough problems dealing with Yoko. I’m not turning Japanese.”
The Youth Group kids who also attend the mass come up to us after.
“One of the kids asks Jules, “Who was the old hippie who came up and played with you?”
“That’s me old da,” Jules slips into Liverpudlian.
“He looks like the guy in the Beatles.”
“Yeah. He’s an ex-Beatle.”
“Oh, too bad. They were really great.”
The kids are mostly 12 and 13. They ask our kids to come with them to brunch. Nina and Jules beam. New friends are popping up all over.
“You don’t mind if we not see you off?” Nina asks.
“Off with ya, now. I can make my plane by m’self.” I shove them toward their new friends.
Jack and I walk back to the Dakota. Jack has an arm around my waist. We cuddle all the way. No one says a thing. It’s noon when we arrive, just in time to collect my farm clothes and head to La Guardia. I thank the Stones, assuring them that Jack will be safe in Ames. They promise to visit often.
We ride to the airport in Queens by town car. Jack gets very quiet. Jace is sitting with him, promising to stay and keep his butt loose and limber. Jack can still laugh. We hold hands throughout the check-in process. The Stones pay for a first class seat, since I refuse to use their private jet. We shock the terminal with a long, lingering kiss, nothing salacious but totally heart-felt. We both are crying as I go on-board. The steward is kind enough to not bother me until I stop crying.
“Sad farewell with a girlfriend?” he asks.
“My boyfriend. He stops speaking when we’re apart.”
“That is so cute,” he gushes. All male flight attendants are gay.