The next few days we repeat rehearsals as the Globe Theater stage takes shape. On Thursday night, Mummy arranges for Father Frank to bring Jack’s protégée Ann for dinner, which gives me an excuse to skip out. Jake is due to arrive. I feel my cheating is less sinful with Jack entertaining a potential girlfriend. I call Jake and arrange to meet him at his hotel in the Grove. I am too worked up about seeing him and grateful that Jack is otherwise occupied and does not sense my amped-up libido.
I’m waiting for him in the hotel lobby when the airport limo arrives. I try to act mature by not rushing into his arms, but even a simple hug starts me purring again. I’m hopeless. Jake finds it cute. It takes us no time to strip and hit the king-size bed in his room. He is masterful at calming me, keeping my excitement just on the edge of my point of no return. I’m not concerned with premature ejaculation, just worrying about uncontrolled shaking and vibrating – me, the human armadildo.
“Let’s get it over with now and save the prolonged fucking for after we wander around the Grove and eat,” Jake is in charge.
I push him back onto the bed and impale myself on his stiff dick, bouncing on him like a rodeo bull-rider. He smiles as my ass brings him to orgasm and mine sprays all over us when I feel him expand and explode inside me. We lay there huffing and puffing with my jism smeared on both our stomachs and chests. A quick communal shower cleans us off, although I never lose my hard-on. As we wander around the Grove, checking out restaurants, Jake keeps laughing at the head of my dick sticking above my waist band. At least my shirt keeps it (mostly) covered. Forgetting Jake is twice their age, I drag him to Jill and David Wilkie’s apartment, proud to show off my studly new boyfriend. Jill welcomes us, although David is still in England.
“After the Olympics, he’s been too busy to come back,” she gives me a sad smile.
“How’d he do?” I haven’t been following swim news.
“You don’t know?” she’s incredulous.
“What? Is everything okay. You didn’t break up, did you?”
She laugh. “Where have you been. He won two gold medals, setting world records in both?”
“Oh, my god. I am so tied up in my own little world, I never even watched the Olympics.”
“You’re forgiven, fish boy. But who’s your friend? An uncle?”
“That is so sweet. I need plans for New Year’s. Just think it was two years ago that we played the Jace Tribute.”
“Yeah. What drama.”
“So you’re in Hollywood now?”
“Just to do a movie. Jake’s a composer. We’re working together on the score.”
“You always know,” I laugh. “We’re crazy about each other, but it’s too crazy to let anyone know.”
“You’ve really grown up. Where’s the boy who came to our door in tears unable to let anyone know he’s gay?”
“I still have girlfriends,” I mumble my claim that I’m not totally gay.
“I’ll bet it’s more like they have you when you have the time to pay attention.”
She knows me well.
All three of us go out to eat, having seafood at a restaurant she knows. It’s divine. She admits how much she misses Wilkie, who is now an indentured servant to the British Olympic Committee. He plans to return and finish his degree, but she knows he belongs to the world now. I tell her how I promised to return to Harvard after the movie is done.
“You’re at Harvard?” she laughs.
“Yeah. Ain’t that the shits?” I laugh back.
Back at the hotel, Jake admits he’d been worried she’d want to spend the night with us.
“She is lonely, but she’s too old for me,” I claim.
He just looks at me and shakes his head. Then he dives at me across the bed, not ready to have a talk about how old he is. Our dicks don’t care about age differences. It’s time for prolonged fucking. I teach him the trick I first used with Tommy on our Panther night of love. We tease each other by alternating who’s the top. As someone gets close to orgasm, then we switch positions. It goes on so long and my balls are so blue, I wonder if I’ve damaged them. The purring starts quickly, but so far no vibrating, shaking, or shuttering. Finally we both sit up with our legs around each other and our cocks mindlessly rubbing and thrusting at each other. We hug tightly as our dicks tell us how to get off simultaneously. I fountain first and Jake joins me before I’m done. Laying together afterward, I suggest we call housekeeping for new sheets. He draws me close and kisses my eyes shut. As I fall asleep, a nagging thought reminds me I’m forgetting something but it’s too late. I wake up in the early dawn and remember what I should have done – be home for Jack’s arrival to my bedroom. It’s too late now. Was I ready to confess my cheating ways. My heart checks to see if Jack’s heart is open without a response. All I can hope is he waited for me at the house. I jump on my bike (still without a car) and pedal home. Max is waiting for me, upset that I failed to take him to Robby’s. I tell him that it is strictly a habit for him. A ghost can’t absorb pot. He growls. Winston is on alert and comes running up my stairs.
“What are you doing?” he asks.
“Taking the dogs out.”
“Going to Robby’s to get high?”
“Naw. Max can’t really get high. Winston doesn’t like it. I’m too worn out to wake and bake.”
“I expected you to stay over last night.”
“I fell asleep without thinking about it.”
That seems to satisfy him. My heart is rapidly beating from the anxiety that it has to confess my cheating. He doesn’t suspect a thing. He tells me to come and have breakfast.
Tommy calls to say he’s working on his tall tale. He will be late for rehearsal. At least somebody takes our performance seriously. Everyone else meets at Michael’s by noon. While the Out-Crowd is running through their repertoire of dance oldies, Jack and I sit working on the lyrics and chords for a new song.
‘Two years gone
You linger on
A face not to replace
A life not to waste
You’re in my soul
You’re in my heart
You make me bold
We’ll never part
Our time was short
We stood our ground
Rock[n’ our sound
Jace you have a place
I love to see your face
My heart skips its beat
Dancing attacks my feet.
Two years gone
But I have found
You’re still around
You linger on.
As we work on his song, Jace sits with us smiling, not wanting to add to what we feel about him. Jill walks in. I’m stunned to see Jake with her. I calm my shocked heart which is beating a mile a minute.
“Hi guys,” I casually greet them. “We’re writing the perfect song for you to sing about Jace. It’s totally Rod Stewart.” I show her the lyrics.
I turn to Jake, “Meet my boyfriend, Jack. Jack, this is Jake, the composer. I invited him to come see our performance.”
They nod at each other. Jack puts on his charm. “Tim says you’re using opera for the frat movie.”
“It is a Greek frat,” Jake jokes.
“Cool. Welcome to Miami.”
They smile. Jack goes back to trying chords for the new song.
I speak to Jill, “What do you think?” as I sing the new lyrics.
“Total plagiarism, ‘You’re in my soul. You’re in my heart.'”
“You’re right. I didn’t even notice I stole those two lines. How about if we go, ‘You are my heart, you’re in my soul’?”
“That’s still plagiarism.”
“That’s what all rock is, a retreading of basic human emotions.”
“Like fixing a flat tire? I think those lyrics can be improved.”
“How about then, ‘you stole my heart, I got your soul.”
Jack has the chords he wants. I play leads as Jill sings to Jack’s rhythm chords. It sounds sweet.
“We’ll play it after Michael and Jenna do their love song duet,” I decide.
“Is that how you write a song. Everyone just adds what they want?” Jake is amazed.
“Sometimes you have to keep working on it. We’ll have to add more verses, but at least we’ve put down the essentials. All of us love Jace. He died exactly two years ago,” I explain. “This song has taken about ten minutes to write because we know how we all feel about him.”
Jack changes the tempo of the music so it is less of a Rod Stewart love ballad and more of an anthem. Jill smiles as she sings it again to the new chords.
“Welcome to pop music where if you don’t like something, you just move on,” I tell Jake. “Let me show you the music room. It’s our studio.”
“I love this Spanish house. It’s so Granada and the Alhambra,” he notes as we walk past a running fountain in the courtyard.
“I’d love to see the Alhambra, ‘Scheherazade,’” Jack effuses, always ready to be a tourist.
We are back in the music room. Jake sees Mike Sr.’s double bass against a wall. He looks at it longingly, needing to join in our musical zoo. Michael nods it’s okay. Running his fingers over the strings to assure it s in tune, Jake starts playing the intro to Rimsky Korsakov’s Scheherazade
Jack runs over to his MOOG and plays along. We all listen, although the Out-Crowd looks none too pleased to be listening to a lesson in classical music. Jack is going off on the violin solo. Jake puts down the double bass and goes over to observe how the MOOG electronically converts the notes into different instruments. Jack lets him try, while the rest of us are glad to return to old rock n roll. The two of them discuss the settings. Jake fiddles with the knobs and sliders, trying to get a purer cello sound. I observe Jace working with him as they create their own sound, just as Jace had done with Minehan. Jack comes over and picks up his guitar. We are ready to rehearse. Jake puts on headphones so as to not disturb us rockers.
“He’s interesting,” Jack whispers. “Kinda old but he doesn’t seem set in his ways, at least.”
A true teen compliment.
Tommy shows up, distracting Jack from his actual competition. I relax. Tommy has been working on the Mark Twain tall tale and wants to recite what he memorized. We all take a break as he adjusts the mic.
“Here goes,” he announces.
‘Y’all knows ol’ Huck and me had hid out in the Everglades afta runnin’ a-way from dat e-vil prison camp. Well, finally we’s had enuff of ‘gators and snakes and lions, so we’s decides ta git further a-way an’ go west.’
‘We jumped a passenger train headin’ west. I’s nervous ‘bout injuns and such. Playin’ cards I won me a real six-shooter. I was armed to the teeth with that there pitiful little Smith & Wesson. I thought it was grand. It appeared to me to be a dangerous weapon. It only had one fault—you cain’t hit nothin’ with it. One of our “conductors” practiced shootin’ at a cow. As long as that cow stood still and behaved herself she was safe; as soon as she went to movin’ about, and he got to shootin’ at other things, she come to grief.
It was a reliable weapon, nevertheless, because, as one of the train-drivers afterward said, “If she didn’t get what she went after, she would fetch somethin’ else.” And so she did. She went after a deuce of spades nailed against a tree, once, and it fetched a mule standing about thirty yards to the left of it. Huck had nothin to do with that there mule’s demise; but the owner came out with a double-barreled shotgun and persuaded him to buy it, anyhow. It was a cheerful weapon—the “Smith & Wesson.” Sometimes all its six barrels would go off at once, and then there was no safe place in all the region round about, but behind it.
After supper a woman gets on, who lives ’bout fifty miles further along. Apparently she’s not a talkative woman. She sits there in the gathering twilight and fastens her steadfast eyes on a mosquiter rootin’ into her arm. Slowly she raises her other hand till she gots its range. Then she would launch a slap at him that would have jolted a cow. After that she would sit and contemplate the corpse with tranquil satisfaction—for she never missed her mosquiter; she was a dead shot at short-range. She never removed a carcass, but left them there for bait. I sat by this grim riper and watched her kill thirty or forty mosquiters—watched her, and waited for her to say something, but she never did. So I finally opened the conversation myself. I said: “Them mosquiters are pretty bad here about, ma’am.” “You bet!” “What did I understand you to say, madam?” “You BET!” Then she cheered up, and faced around and said: “Danged if I didn’t begin to think you fellers was deef and dumb. I did, b’gosh. Here I’ve sot, and sot, and sot, a-bust’n muskeeters and wonderin’ what was ailin’ ye. Fust I thot you was deef and dumb, then I thot you was sick or crazy, or suthin’, and then by and by I begun ta reckon you was a passel of sickly fools that couldn’t think of nothin’ to say. Wher’d ye come from?” The Sphynx was Sphynx no more! The fountains of her great deep were broken open, and she rained the nine parts of speech forty days and forty nights, metaphorically speaking, and buried us under a desolating deluge of trivial gossip that left not a crag or pinnacle of rejoinder projecting above the tossing waste of dislocated grammar and decomposed pronunciation!
‘How we suffered, suffered, suffered! She went on, hour after hour, till I was sorry I ever opened the mosquiter question and gave her a start. She never did stop again until she got to her journey’s end toward daylight; and then she stirred us up as she was leaving the car(for we were nodding, by that time), and said: “Now you git out at Cottonwood, you fellers, and lay over a couple o’ days, and I’ll be along some time to-night, and if I can do ye any good by edgin’ in a word now and then, I’m right thar. Folks’ll tell you’t I’ve always ben kind o’ offish and partic’lar for a gal that’s raised in the woods, and I am, with the rag-tag and bob-tail, and a gal has to be, if she wants to be anything, but when people comes along which is my equals, I reckon I’m a pretty sociable heifer after all.” We resolved not to “lay by at Cottonwood.’
The kids cheer Tommy. He stands there grinning, finally making a bow and walking away from the mic. All that counts is he’s now part of the performance. We’ll come on after him. He can do his off-key ‘sail aways’ and ‘who do you loves’ on ‘One Toke Over the Line.’ It’s time for the Hillbilly Brothers to practice.
Hippie is ready to do his stage strutting. Robby refuses to go country. Dave jumps on his kit. Jack and I play and sing with Tommy coming in as backup. The Jacettes think it fun to pinch him as they join us on backups. Then Tommy surprises us with his version of Dr Hook’s ‘The Cover of the Rolling Stone.’ It doesn’t require much melodic singing as it tells the tale of fame and fortune as a rock n roller. I back up Tommy in his dialogue of the need to be on the cover of the Rolling Stone:
‘I don’t believe it.
Hey Tim, show ’em,
tell ’em who we are
‘Well we’re big rock singers
we got golden fingers
And we’re loved everywhere we go
(That sounds like us)
We sing about beauty
and we sing about truth
At ten million dollars a show
We take all kinda pills
That give us all kinda thrills
But the thrill we’ve never known
Is the thrill that it gets ya
when you get your picture
On the cover of the Rolling Stone
I’m gonna see my picture on the cover
Gonna buy five copies for my mother
Gonna see my smiling face
On the cover of the Rolling Stone
I got a freaky old lady named Cocaine Katie
Who embroiders on my jeans
I got my poor old gray-haired Daddy
Driving my limousine.
Now it’s all designed to blow our minds,
But our minds won’t really be blown
Like the blow that’ll getcha
When you get your picture
On the cover of the Rolling Stone’
Songwriters: SHEL SILVERSTEIN
© T.R.O. INC.
We end with the Dead’s ‘Truckin’
Robby can’t help himself and is passing the joints around. The Out-Crowd finally gives in to John’s entreaties that they try pot. That is the end of rehearsal as the 15-year-olds can’t ‘maintain’ and are totally disruptive. Stu is especially hyper, promising me that he’ll never tell his mom now that he’s a stoner. I won’t hold him to that promise. Mom Watt will be able to handle it, as long as he promises ‘never again.’ Jill and Jake sit and watch the ensuing chaos. I realize that the show will go on, regardless of how well we prepare. I take Tommy out and show him the Globe replica. He’s thrilled to be standing there, reciting his latest Tom & Huck story.
“Y’all’s so much fun, Huck. I’s fallin’ fur ya all over a-gin. Cain’t help meself. I jist knows I cain’t neva beat out ol’ Jack-Off.”
“Neva despair, boy. We’ll neva fergit our ‘Gatorsaurus days and nights,” as I pull him into a hug. He melts into me. The moment passes when ol’ Jack-Off catches us.
We both laugh at his sour expression. He laughs too, but comes over and separates us.
“Don’t need ta throw me under the bus this time. We’s jist relivin’ old times,” Tommy isn’t going to be rattled.
“I invited Jake to dinner so we can play the Rimsky-Korsakov together for the cocktail hour. You won’t be jealous if I steal your composer.”
“He’s 42, Jack. Be careful you may start preferring classical.”
“Right.” He marches off to inform my secret lover that he’s invited to dinner.
“Wanna come to dinner at Jack’s castle?” I ask Tommy.
“Hell, no. I gots ta practice my speech.” He goes off to find Stu and have dinner there.
The mini-concert is well received. Mummy is concerned that I’ve been left out.
“I’m glad Jack is finding different interests. He needs to branch out and test his wings,” I reply to her concerns.
Jill also comes and is talking with Daddy about Wilkie’s success and the change in his life after winning the Olympics. Daddy asks Jake how he feels about Rimsky-Korsakov’s nationalistic politics in the late 19th Century.
“I compare him to Wagner,” Jake answers. “His music is inspired by nationalistic themes, folk songs, fairy tales – but as an artist he transcends the mundane political attitudes of his patrons.”
“So, you don’t blame Wagner for Nazi atrocities?” Daddy is sparking the conversation.
“Let’s avoid speaking about Nazi’s.” Mummy puts her foot down.
“Well, I am Jewish, so I have strong feelings about how the Nazi’s used art for propaganda. I believe art should transcend politics, not be seen as a basis for nationalism, neither fascist nor communist.”
“Bravo,” Daddy exclaims. Mummy looks relieved when Isabelle announces dinner.
Jake is seated next to me, whispering, “Why is there an empty seat? Is someone missing?”
“Is something wrong?” Mummy asks, concerned that Jake is breaking her no whispering at the table rule.
“Jake is asking about Jace’s place setting,” I announce. “He met Jace today but didn’t realize it.”
“How’s that?” Jake asks.
“When you were setting the MOOG controls. Did you feel your hands being directed?”
“I did. I thought it was just familiarity with the keyboard.”
“Jace is a musical genius who died and came back to inspire our band,” Jack tries to explain.
“I don’t really believe in ghosts,” Jake is skeptical.
“How about being divinely inspired?” I offer.
“That’s so 19th Century.”
“I’m Jewish. Jesus hasn’t come up yet.”
“Teen Jesus is Jewish, too,” I announce Jace’s conversion.
“Well, I’m glad that is all settled,” Mummy invokes the no controversy at dinner rule.
I raise my glass, “To our hostess, Mummy to us all.”
“To Mummy,” everyone echoes my toast.
Mummy raises her glass and counters, “To those who are missing tonight. David Wilkie, our Olympic hero, and Jace Conning, an inspiration for all faiths.”
After dinner, Jill joins Jack and me on the patio by the pool. The ‘men,’ Daddy, Father Frank and Jake, adjourn for brandy and cigars in the sitting room. I insist that Mummy join us by the pool. As always, she takes a shine to Jill. We describe the shopping spree with our girlfriends. Jill is surprised at this development, wondering if it means we were less passionate about each other. Mummy is all ears.
“We’re trying to be normal at college,” Jack explains.
“Do the girls know you’re together?”
“We thought the parents would be pleased that their daughters are dating gay boys.”
Jill laughs. “How did that go.”
“You really are freshman, aren’t you,” Jill observes.
“Where did we go wrong?” I ask.
“You’re doing fine. Don’t expect parents to fall for your guileless tricks.”
“That’s for sure.”
I walk Jill and Jake out to her car.
“Coming with me?” Jake asks hopefully.
“I can’t be that obvious yet,” I moan.
“Your boyfriend’s parents really like you.”
“If only they knew.”
“You’re the perfect beard,” Jake announces.
“What’s that?” I ask about gay terminology I hadn’t heard before.
“It’s a woman you take to social affairs so no one knows you’re gay.”
“A fag hag?”
“Not the same; the woman isn’t deluded that you will ever be attracted to her.”
“My, boys, you see women only as objects?”
“No. These are just stereotypes to beat ourselves up over.”
I kiss Jill goodnight, turning to Jake who whisks me out of sight from the house. He’s as passionate as ever. I start to vibrate.
“Come to my room once Jack’s asleep,” Jake whispers.
I realize I can tell Jack I went home to walk Winston, my perfect excuse.