Helen and Uncle Bob are reluctant to let the Dakota doorman park their beat-up station wagon. They relent in the face of our attitude of superior sophistication. Mummy has an excellent dinner ready for us. I’m pleased to see that Isabelle is now in charge. It’s a quiet meal as Mummy refuses to discuss any plans about finding Joey, invoking the no controversy at the dinner table rule. Father Frank is there. He is allowed to catch us up on progress reforming the Jace’s Place project. Brother Ignatius is long gone and a younger staff is doing a better job. Father agrees that seminary students are a good fit, as rumors of abuse of the seminarians are proving to be commonplace. Mummy quickly changes the discussion once sexual abuse is brought up. Jack is well versed in the goings on at Saint Patrick’s.
Brandy and coffee are served in the large living room, so we can agree on a course of action. Helen is bereft, believing it was all her fault for being lost at the terminal. Dad is subdued, inwardly aware that Joey escaped on his watch. I’ll call Tina and Pete and enlist their help on Monday afternoon, as they had found him the last time he went missing in the City. I announce that Jack and I would start looking in the morning, as I know the places he frequents, from when I had been with him in the City.
“When did you go to New York with Joey?” Dad demands.
“I knew something was wrong with you that summer.”
“I mean that you changed.”
“Yeah. I let Joey cut my hair and he took me to the City for one night. It didn’t change my life.”
“You were his little clone, acting like you were better than everyone.”
“No way. We stopped doing what you expected. We knew we wouldn’t meet your standards. The key was not to care.”
“We could never understand you.”
“It’s called being a teenager.”
Dad scowls at Jack for acting like one of the family by interrupting our fight.
Mummy to the rescue. “Tim was so good for our boy. He grew up in just a few months.”
“Until you locked me up in Switzerland.”
“Consequences, dear,” Mummy responds.
The sin of my innocence lost during one night in the Village and Bowery is forgiven as the Stone’s sense of manners glosses over the corruption of a 14 year-old’s morals. The matter at hand is Joey. Tina and Pete agree to meet us in Times Square in the morning. They’ll bring the old Miami Beach gang to scour the area. I’m unsure how to search St Mark’s and Alphabet City. I’m not about to expose my Bronx friends to the gritty junkie world of Tompkins Square Park. I’m more worried about convincing Joey to go home than just finding him. NYC is my oyster.
LA had reminded me that I’m a night owl. Jack and I skip out for Max’s, evading the cousins who had been hopeful of more Page Six exposure. First we go up to the Dakota’s seventh floor to check on Julian and Nina. Jack warns me to expect a turn for the worse in their attitude – almost teens.
Nina hugs me when she answers the door. The overwhelming odor of marijuana wafts into the hallway. Jules toasts us with a bong, as he sits in a circle of similarly stoned 12 and 13-year-olds. I instantly feel old. They’ve made friends with their peers.
“Just dropped by on our way to Max’s,” I explain.
“Can we come?” he looks up hopefully.
“Not this time. I’m sure they’d deny stoned twelve-year olds.”
I wink at Nina as we wave good-bye. She looks regretful.
“We need your help tomorrow though, finding my runaway cousin.”
“Is he our age?” Jules asks.
“Sorta. He’s a 22-year-old junkie.”
“Ew. Good one, mate.”
The bouncer at Max’s back room looks at us like he doesn’t know we’re 17 year-old celebrities. Fame in NYC is fleeting. Jack hands him his ID with a folded ten spot. He frowns until I add my ten. Fame walks but money talks.
I start to look around hopeful for a familiar face until Jack leads me to an empty booth. It’s not a busy night, with no live acts. A DJ is in the sound booth. Jack boldly approaches him, asking if we can perform.
“Where are your instruments? You’re False Gods, right?”
“Yeah, but tonight we’re gay and we’ll lip-synch.”
He laughs. “Abba?”
“Yeah. ‘Mama Mia.’” He winks at me, remembering our drag show in Savannah.
“You sure?” the DJ asks.
“It’s Sunday night, perfect for corrupting the morals of the church going crowd.” Jack is in performer mode.
“Okay, but if you guys cause a riot, I’m pulling the plug.”
“That’s cool. We’re bored. Tim’s only here for a few days,” Jack is playing up our supposed celebrity.
“Go sit down. Once my set’s done, I’ll give you boys an introduction.”
We sit and order beers. I grill Jack, “We’re not stripping, no matter what.”
“Aw, that’s no fun.”
“I’ve been bored. You probably lived it up in LA.”
“Yeah. I played an audition at the Troubadour.”
“What? Did you play our songs?”
“Yeah. This girl, Joan, and her friends were watching. I got hard and chased them out the door, waving my dick.”
Jack snorts. “Did you pass the audition?”
“No. The owner said I need to grow up.”
“Right. That dick belongs to me.”
I notice several youngish men eying us. I smile, so they come over.
“Are you the boys in False Gods?”
“Yes. How do you know about us? Page Six?”
“Are you really gay?
“Gay and straight, as long as you wait,” Jack answers.
They laugh. “Do you still perform anywhere? We want to see your movie.”
“It’s in limited release. Marty rents it to his friends who want to see teen boys making out.”
“That’s what we want to see,” they both exclaim. “Do you still do shows.”
“Well, wait ten minutes. We’ll be going on.”
They blush, then reciprocated by kissing each other. “What are you going to sing?”
“Abba. What are your favorites?”
“We love Abba. How about the Dolls”
Right up our line. If only Johnny Thunders was there.
“We’re just lip synching. I hope you’ll like it.”
“We will. Where are you living? I heard you were arrested for indecent exposure.”
“I’m staying with Jack at the Dakota, but I live in Iowa. After I escaped juvie I had to go there to my mom’s. I was arrested for drinking beer. Our dog, Max, was shot and killed at the show. The police covered it up by arresting me.”
“That’s so sad. Max was the pot dog?”
“So, it wasn’t just an act. You really are boyfriends.”
“Yeah. Jack gets really horny when he smokes pot. We were in 11th grade English together. He had been crushing on me but I was oblivious. My first boyfriend had died.”
“That’s so sad.”
“He taught us all how to play. He died defending Max from his perverted brother.”
“That’s so cool.”
“Not really,” I laugh. Jace pops up, aware that he was being remembered. “You want to meet him?”
“What. You said he is dead.”
“Wow,” the cutest one says. “I do feel him.”
The other man looks sad. “I can’t.”
“Well, you trust each other, so hold hands and feel the love. It should work for both of you.”
They hug and both of them have the usual Jace glow about them. “See,” I say.
“Whoa,” they both exclaim. “So, he’s really dead?”
“Yup. But he’s a friendly ghost.”
They shiver, look at each other and giggle. They’re adults but have kids’ spirits.
Just then the DJ announces us, giving a cool introduction about how we had opened for Patti Smith, played at CBGBs and are Andy protegee’s.
As soon as Agnetha and Anni-Frid start singing we join in with our a Capella version, ending up back to back, rubbing our butts against each other.The unsuspecting patrons don’t know how to react to two teen boys fagging off on each other. Our new friends love it, jumping in front of the stage, They wave their hands in the air, making gay fools of themselves. Once the recording ends, the DJ keys it up again. This time we strictly lip-synch without the mics and start a slow strip for our new friends. Several others come up and we jump into the crowd. By the time we get down to our tee shirts and briefs all the other dancers are stripping. The DJ pulls the plug, so I run over and tell him to play the NY Dolls ‘Personality Crisis,’ which seems appropriate as we run around Max’s Kansas City in our underwear. We pick up the mic and start screaming over the musical intro.
“Wah, Oh. Oh,
‘Bout personality crisis,
you got it while it was hot
You know it’s hot,
you know it’s Frustration
what you got
I said I’m talking about personality,
yeah, yeah, yeah
And you’re a prima ballerina on a Spring afternoon
Change on into the wolfman,
howlin’ at the moon,
Songwriters: DAVID JOHANSEN, JOHNNY THUNDERS
© Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.
Without the guitar to back us, we have to really scream at each other. We lose track of the crowd, yelling at each other and having a great time. When we turn around the whole dance floor is full. We howl, jump into the crowd, get knocked down, picked up, lifted above everyone, and passed around like a tray of drinks. The song ends and we’re dumped back on the low stage. We jump up screaming, “How’d ya like that one?”
I start into:
She goes on forever. People are swaying until she starts to really sing:
‘Jesus died for somebody sins, but not mine….
…Here she comes
Walkin’ down the street
Here she comes
Comin’ through my door
Here she comes
Crawlin’ up my stair
Here she comes
Waltzin’ through the hall
In a pretty red dress
And oh, she looks so good,
oh, she looks so fine
And I got this crazy feeling
that I’m gonna ah-ah make her mine’
Songwriters: GEORGE IVAN MORRISON, VAN MORRISON
© Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.
When she finishes, we run over to our table, with the crowd pushing to get at us.
“Gimme a beer,” Patti shouts. Miraculously a beer, half-finished, appears. We were rock gods for a minute.
Ignoring the crowd that keeps shouting at us, “Where you boys been?” she asks.
“To hell, but they rejected us,” I answer.
People keep bringing us beers. Our new gay friends sit there speechless. Of course, Robert Maplethorpe is there, much to Jack’s joy and my jealousy. I just pull him closer and Patti keeps Robert to herself. Finally, the din falls away and we catch up.
“How’d ya know we do ‘Gloria’?” she asks.
“I know everything,” I answer.
We proceed to get wasted on free beers. I think we get up and do another couple of songs as a trio. Our fame ends when I insist we do John Denver’s ‘Country Roads.’ It’s a disaster as we’re too drunk to lip-synch. Before we get booted, we go to the restaurant side and eat french fries until all four of us take the subway back to the Dakota. We kick Brett and Trent out of their beds so Patti and Robert have a place to sleep. The cousins are half-sleep when we lock them out of their own room. Patti ends up in my bed, with Jack and Robert together. That ends when Robert tries to force Jack to have sex. He jumps in with Patti and me. We wake up all tumbled together, unsure of what happened. The cousins bang on the door demanding to know how we got on Page Six again. They are totally pissed. We can care less.
I’m on a tight schedule, leaving Jack and our guests to sleep in. I’m not surprised to find Mr. Stone reading the Times and enjoying his coffee in the dining room.
“Have a seat, Tim. Isabelle will take your breakfast order,” as he pushes a foot button to summon her. “I was unaware that Johnny and you were going out night clubbing on a school night.”
“You saw the Post’s Page Six.”
“Until my nephews snatched it from me. It is much more amusing than the Times. I see that you still have an attention addiction.”
“Our fame barely extends past the East Village.”
“We learned that at a drag show in Savannah.”
“Oh, yes. The Antonio’s were none too pleased about that incident.”
“Sorry for causing you any embarrassment.”
“I was not always so old and stodgy. I even was under house detention at your age when my friends and I commandeered a horse and carriage in front of the Plaza. They caught us racing it in Central Park.”
We both laugh.
“I’m surprised you’ve stayed in New York.”
“We need to keep an eye on Johnny. You know he’s enrolled at Harvard next school year. What are your plans?”
“Mom convinced me to apply at Harvard. Johnny says I don’t need more education, but my folks disagree.”
“Do you want us to put in a good word for you?”
“Best I get in on my own merits. Dad doesn’t approve of using privilege.”
“Admirable. I think Johnny will be devastated if you both are not together.”
“It seems a long way off.”
“Let me know if your admission needs a boost.”
“Hollywood’s a great place for new singers to be discovered. How did the audition go?”
“The owner says I need to grow up.”
“Well, you are a bright young man. Harvard will be lucky to get you.”
“Thank you, but I seldom plan ahead more than a few days. Trouble seems to chase me.”
“Your cousin sounds like trouble.”
“Everything started when he cut my hair.”
“Maybe you were trying to establish your own identity.”
“We sang a song called ‘Personality Crisis’ last night.
“Before or after you took off your clothes.”
“After, of course.”
Isabelle arrives with my country breakfast. Mr. Stone returns to his Times.
Jack escorts Patti and an abashed Robert Mapplethorpe to the table, calling for Isabelle to take breakfast orders. He has the Post, retrieved from the cousins in return for relinquishing their beds. Everyone is skipping school.
“Let me see Page Six,” I ask. Robert snorts, obviously feeling superior to gossip and the paparazzi.
They have six photos of the two of us, with Patti in several. Felix would be proud that we still wore his garish briefs. Kissing and butt rubbing each other is the focus of our fame.
Either Patti and Robert are intimidated by the opulent Dakota or they need a morning fix, as they leave having hardly eaten their breakfasts. Jack and I have no difficulty finishing their food. Fueled by calories and coffee we take off for St Mark’s and Trash & Vaudeville. Jack wants his Regis Knights to protect us. I tell him we have to look down and out to get anywhere in Tompkins Square Park. His clean-cut ROTC boys will brand us as squares (shades of Jack Kerouac). I buy us black jeans and tees to better fit in. We scout the park, which is deserted that early in the day. I see the usual line of junkies at an abandoned apartment building. Scoring junk is a job that knows no regular hours. We wait across the street, but Joey doesn’t show. I think about checking Battery Park, but I know Joey is now too old to be trolling for pedophiles. We end up in Blair’s office at the Warhol Factory. Andy never comes in that early.
“I love your photos in the buff on today’s Page Six.” Blair scoffs.
“Only when the photos are of my friends.”
“Oh, we’re friends now. I thought your job was to protect Andy from us.”
“You’re too much fun. He’d kill me if he found out I’d sent you away.”
Our celebrity status is on the rise again.
It’s exciting to contemplate Andy and Marty working together with the Jace Memorial film to support the Jace’s Place project. He finds an old photo of Joey and Xeroxes copies to give to our friends looking for him. Soon it’s time to meet the Bronx kids in Times Square. We ride the subway there, hitting HoJo’s for fried clams before Tina, Pete and the gang show up. We sit in window seats holding hands and dreamily watching the Times Square street action. The waiter tells us to leave if we continue to make a spectacle of ourselves.
“Yes, we are spectacular,” I joke, remembering a similar give and take with Tommy the previous summer. We walk out, still holding hands. The Bronx kids walk up. Pete is blushing at our public display. I refrain from kissing him and pay more attention to Tina, which makes her blush.
Everyone remembers finding Joey two years ago. To them, junkies are beneath contempt. I explain we’re trying to get him to go home. No one disagrees with that plan. We split into pairs to canvas the area. I keep an eye on Tina and Pete. He stands up to several pimp types who try to hassle Tina. Pete is no longer the innocent boy I remember spending a horny night with when we were 13.
After an hour we conclude that Joey has not been to Times Square. The group laughs when I say they may be too young to search Tompkins Square in the East Village. Once we move there, they seem squeamish about approaching the drug dealers and runners who control the action. I suggest they go to St Mark’s Place. With its commercial stores and foot traffic, it’s more familiar to the kids. Jack and I switch to looking for a fix, rather than finding my lost cousin – no sympathy from the street drug trade.
A young kid, about 12 or 13, comes up to us.
“We wanna see Miguel,” I answer, remembering the dealer where Joey scored 3½ years ago.
“Man, he’s dead. Where ya been?”
“Miami. Been awhile. Who’s holdin’?” I give him $5.
“Follow me. Wot’s wrong wid yer partner?” Jack is looking dismayed at my tactic of pretending to be a buyer.
“He ain’t neva scored in da City.”
“Welcome to Kmart, shoppers.”
We follow him into a five storied apartment building that looks abandoned. We use a back entrance that has a plywood board, half-attached to the door frame. We all squeeze under the board and go up a stairwell to the fourth floor. The kid knocks on the door, telling the dealer he has brought ‘friends.’
“How much ya lookin’ for?”
“I ain’t buying. That’s my cousin on the floor. We come ta collect ‘im.”
“He owes me money. He’s broke. Ya gonna pay?”
“Naw. He’s got the plague. I need to get ‘im to hospital.”
I walk in, avoiding the piles of trash and rotten food containers. Joey is comatose and doesn’t complain when we pick him up and drag him to the door. The dealer insists we take a paper bag of drug paraphernalia.
“Wot kinda plague is it?” He asks.
“Blue Bonnet,” I ad-lib.
“Fuck. Get away from heah.”
Jack and I hold Joey up with an arm on our shoulders and return to Tompkins square. Joey is nodding off, so I have Jack go over to St Marks and get the others. They come running, looking dismayed at the fucked-up junkie. We walk him to the IRT and get off at Central Park. The eight of us carry him to the Stones apartment. Dad, Helen and Uncle Bob are shocked to see the state of him. We make a quick exit by taking the Bronx kids up to Julian Lennon’s apartment. The same pre-teen pot smokers are still hitting the bong.
We make a quick exit and say good-bye to the Bronx gang in the lobby.
“All the rich do is get stoned?” one of the kids asks.
“The rich have their problems, too. Just not like me and you.”
Everyone laughs at my Gatsby literary malapropism. If it rhymes, it’s fine.
“An’ youse ain’t rich?” one asks looking around the lobby.
“We’re all kids here. You guys are great. We couldn’t have found Joey without you.”
“Right. All we did was go window shopping. You knew where to find him.”
“Well, I needed backup. Y’all’s the best for being there fer me.”
“Yeah, but I really miss ya, man,” I give him a hug which embarrasses him in front of his friends. Tina giggles and then throws herself into my arms.
Jack and I go back upstairs. The parents are all perturbed about whether to take Joey to the hospital. Dad is again upset when I know to put Joey in a cold bath, which quickly revives him. I have explaining to do later.
Once Joey revives, I sit on his bed.
“Hey, little bro. Saved me again. You’s my personal saint?”
“What’s next, Joey? All that detox in LA is wasted. Can you make it now in Stockbridge?”
“If that job at Rahar’s is still there. I might just settle in.”
The tears are ready to break out. I bite my lip to keep my eyes dry. I hug him. All I can think is if he doesn’t get straight, he’ll die. Everyone I love seems to flirt with death. Except Scott Watt, what a dick.
By late afternoon, Helen and Uncle Bob are on their way to Stockbridge with Joey. Dad goes back to Miami. Mission accomplished, but for how long? At least Dad is over feeling guilty for failing to keep an eye on Joey at JFK. I pull Jack into the shared bedroom and lock the door.
“Stay,” he begs. At least he’s still speaking.
“You know it’s not the same.”
“I’ll know about Harvard soon. We’ll tear up Cambridge.”
“You know about Hasty Pudding?”
“Is that like crème brulee?”
At the mention of his favorite aphrodisiac, Jace pops up.
“Crème brulee goes right through the boy. Guess how it cums out?”
I become distracted thinking how Jace never ages and always wears the same clothes he died in – Forever 15. We go at it for awhile. I promise myself not to cum yet, but Jack is reaching ecstasy as Jace increases the tempo of his thrusts. Jack starts to shake as he approaches orgasm. His butt is milking me. I try thinking about the Blue Bonnet Plague but am too into fucking to laugh. I think about Joey passed out in the dealer’s squat but feel too good to be sad. Jack is rocking back and forth as I become more insistent. Jace is riding me like a cowboy on a bronco. It all feels so good.
Jack shouts, “More. More. I want all of it.”
There’s giggling behind the bedroom door. The cousins are pervy peeping toms, listening to us and imagining why we’re all screaming and moaning. Jace goes into Casper mode, flying across the room, pulling the door open and ending his orgasm with gobs of ghostly white sperm spraying on the two boys clutching each other on the floor. It looks to them like a cloud burst in the hallway. The drops pop like soap bubbles when they land on the cousins. They scream and run down the hall with their pants halfway down. Jack and I lay on the bed in hysterics as Jace disappears after them. Fine fucking. We kiss and are in tears – first of joy and then sadness at our impending separation. Jace comes back and laughs at us.
“I’ll keep both of you well fucked until we’re all together again.” All three of us sang ‘All Together Now.’