In the morning, I”m pulled out of the cell for my trip to Ft Lauderdale. Billy gives me a slap on the back, telling me to get along up there. His new friend gives me a quick smile. I board the County Detention bus with a group of male juveniles. The County is good business for The Program. After an hour’s drive we enter a military-looking compound, in a rural area east of the Everglades. Hot and dusty, I tell myself: ‘I’m in the Army now.’ We pile off the bus as several angry young adults run up to us and start screaming in our faces. So it starts. I’m not immune to their threats and do my share of push-ups for not moving fast enough. At least with my military-brat background, I can survive this treatment. It lasts all day. As we’re processed, there are always an excess number of screaming disciplinarians, making our lives miserable.
The first stop is to shave off all our hair. Then we’re issued military-style uniforms, tees and fatigues. Everything is regulation. They tell us we arrived too late for school and will spend the day in physical training. Our only break is for lunch, but even then, the discipline instructors keep us from relaxing; speaking to anyone brings immediate push-ups. The only bright spot is seeing Tommy across the dining hall. He sees me but motions not to say anything. There’s no time. They keep us busy and moving every minute. We’re told that for fifteen minutes before lights out, we’re allowed to do what we want, as long as it’s praying to God. Even bathroom breaks are regulated. If you aren’t done in two minutes, they blow a whistle, and you have to get up and out. Most newcomers have trouble with commodes without walls. Privacy is a privilege we do without. When they finally release us for our final fifteen minutes, a new group of angry young counselors appears. They’re all Christian missionaries. They talk to us while we keep our heads bowed in silent prayer. It’s a relief to have someone to talk with, but the price requires us to pray for our souls together. I especially hate how they place their hands on me while I pray.
Finally, after lights out, I meditate on my situation. It doesn’t look good. My only advantage is I have lived with military discipline before and know I can handle the harassment. I conclude that the degradation and ego-busting is meant to prepare us to adopt their values and deal with a drug-free life. I admit that pot has gotten me into big trouble. I’m just not ready to agree that pot is the whole problem. It isn’t hard to fall asleep. I pray my dreams are better than real life.
Every day follows the same routine: up for physical exercise at six, showers and clean-up before breakfast, classes until lunch and again until three, recreation until dinner, studying in classrooms until 9:30, and then wash-up and prayers until lights out at ten. We march everywhere and are punished for speaking. In a few days I realize that the disciplinarians are just other inmates but at a higher level. The reward for completing this initial phase is the power to inflict the abuse on new inmates. Names are never used, so I have no idea who my fellow sufferers are. Even though we never speak, a silent language of looks permits me to become familiar with them. We suffer mutual indignities together. We’re not allowed to ask for a bathroom break. Anyone who can’t wait for the prescribed time is considered sick and sent to the infirmary. My one experience there keeps me away forever; the universal prescription for any aliment is an enema. I learn to regulate my bladder and bowels. The only time we’re allowed to speak is during prayers and only with our assigned religious counselor. Even in class there’s no speaking. Each class has assigned workbooks, done in silence, no questions asked. Once I complete the entire set of workbooks, the teacher merely starts me again on the same set. Punishment is quickly meted out for any offense to the many rules. It mainly consists of push-ups, but repeated insubordination results in corporal punishment, mainly public whipping. It’s never explained when we’ll get through this brutal level. We notice that our overseers speak and laugh with one another, but when their superiors are around, they are as mute as we are. Recreation is strictly calisthenics, never any games or competitions. The only moment of respite is after lights-out, when my thoughts can be my own. All the years of swim training helps me deal with the tedium and isolation. I feel underwater, out of contact with everyone. Like a long distance race, each day is a lap completed. The finish line never seems closer.
Several boys crack under the pressure. After they are hauled away, we’re informed that they were placed in the State Mental Institution for the hopelessly psychotic – the cause: drug psychosis. At times I wonder if this whole experience isn’t a continuation of my Halloween hallucinations. The day-to-day tedium wears against my imagination; I know it is reality, not fantasy. I see Tommy occasionally, but he barely acknowledges me. All we can do is stare at each other for a second or so. Even this contact is punished if noticed. I realize he’s having a harder time than me. The next time I see him, I smile and wink at him. Instantly I’m shoved down on my face and do fifty push ups. In the corner of my eye, I see him smile. It’s worth it.
Once a week, every inmate is counseled on his progress. They call this phase drug withdrawal and detoxification. We’re only allowed to nod yes or no to their set questions. Then we sign a form, affirming we are drug-free, attend school, eat three meals a day, and receive counseling. Although the court is responsible for me, no one from court or the juvenile justice system ever comes to observe. I’m isolated and systematically robbed of my individuality. At night, I imagine what the Vietnam POWs experienced. I’m grateful that there’s only mild torture here but otherwise feel it’s not much different.
New kids arrive every few days, and kids who had been there longer than me are transferred out. I wonder if they’ll soon appear as overseers. They must be in a different program before being assigned to our lowly group. I calculate from the rate that kids leave to be an average of six weeks to complete this phase. One day, I’m pulled out of class, told to strip off my white tee-shirt and fatigues, and issued a blue shirt and khaki trousers. A group of five of us assemble in an empty classroom. After an hour’s wait, one of the senior staff, a tall, white man in a polo shirt, walks in and gives us a long talk on our progress. He congratulates us for surviving the tough detox phase. He admits we had been kept in the dark for so long in order to prepare us for the rigors of the next phase. He talks a lot about the evils of drugs, assuming we all agree with him that the proper goal in life is to be a productive member of society. It’s strange to be actually getting counseling. He says we’re scheduled for drug education and reprogramming next. Several times he praises us for having finished detox, calling those left behind ‘scum and slime.’ He says our blue shirts are symbols of our new status. Someone raises his hand for a question. An overseer jumps up from the back of the class and yells in his ear, “No questions’. The senior staff member calmly waits for the overseer before continuing. He doesn’t elaborate on the details of the new program. After his talk, we all sign our weekly progress reports with the normal notation, except on the bottom it states we completed drug detoxification. As we get up to leave, I give a high-five to the tall black kid behind me. We’re both on the floor doing a hundred push ups. We haven’t progressed much.
The next program is similar to the first phase, except instead of doing calisthenics in the morning and afternoon, we work in the dining hall serving meals. Instead of school, we attend drug lectures, which are on film. We have a new set of overseers, but the rules have not changed. After each film, we’re quizzed on the subject matter. I notice a Cuban kid keeps his pencil after a test. That night, we’re all awakened by our overseers screaming at us. ‘The Program sucks’ was scribbled on a bathroom wall. We spend the whole night on our hands and knees, scrubbing the entire bathroom. Everyone is searched for the offending pencil, but the perpetrator wisely got rid of it after his crime. Each of us is taken separately into the staff room and questioned about the incident, told that all of us would be punished worse than the one guilty person. We’re asked over and over to tell anything we know. Finally, polo shirt speaks to us, noting that the entire group is to be held back an extra week for this vandalism. I know that I’m not the only one who knows something and hasn’t told. Since we don’t know how long this phase is to last, it’s hard to feel we’re losing anything. The abstraction of an extra week means nothing when you are living day-to-day. My only regret is that I can’t show visible support to the Cuban. One night after lights out, I lay there feeling frustrated and unable to sleep. I know the staff only checks on us every fifteen minutes or more. I slide out of my bunk and crawl under two other bunks to the Cuban’s. I shake him awake, putting my finger to his lips to keep him quiet.
“I saw you take the pencil and want you to know I totally support you,” I whisper.
“I’m sorry,” he whispers back.
“No. The Program is sorry. It does suck,” I answer.
It’s so good to see him smile. By the time I crawl back into my bunk, my heart is pounding. For once I have beaten the thought police
At first I think about Jack every night after lights out. Not in a horny way, though that’s how I often find him in my dreams. The repressed atmosphere of the Program somehow has invaded my subconscious. I never reach a climax in what is the start of a wet dream. The place has cursed me. Before I fall asleep, I miss him terribly. I know he’ll never forget me. Time is flying by. Gables High School must be out for summer. Did Robby and Jack put on the performance of ‘Sonnets?’ What about the band. I’m sure they’ll go on without me. Why did Mike Sr. and Jay abandon me? Did the Stones host my Dad’s marriage to Susan. I look for Jace in my heart to give me the answers. He too is blocked in this cursed place. These nightly pity parties are the beginning of my determination to escape. My only reluctance is if Mike Sr. has been working on my release. An attempted escape will throw a big monkey wrench into those proceedings. The longer I go without hearing from anyone makes me more and more desperate. Plotting my escape is a sop to this desperation and the repressed atmosphere the Program engenders. There is no contact with the outside world, either by letter or phone. No visits are allowed. I’ve entered the Twilight Zone.
My first change of luck is when Tommy shows up in my cell block. He must’ve blown a counselor or something to be transferred. I don’t ask. The first night there he sneaks into my bunk. A raging hard-on tells him how happy I am to see him. He quickly goes to work on it until I roll away, afraid we’ll be caught. He whispers that he rolled up his dirty clothes to make it look like his bunk is still occupied. He stays until early morning when he sneaks back. In the slightest whispers I explain that we have to plot our escape. He sniffs that he hates the Program and will do anything to escape.
Bad luck returns when my Cuban friend is caught for the graffiti in the bathroom. The senior staffer actually hired a handwriting expert who easily identified the culprit. He’s led away in disgrace, giving me a furtive look. Unfortunately that one glance is noted by staff. I’m an unindicted co-conspirator. Big Motherfucker is always watching. The secret to Tommy’s ruse to make our bunks look occupied is always to turn the head away from the light, so the guard only sees a supposed body while checking during the night. We run several reconnaissance missions, sneaking out of the unit to scout possible escape routes. We time the guards’ rounds, noting when the routine inmate counts are done. We find that two Rottweilers guarding the front yard nixes a flat-out run to the fence. The only way out is at the back, which faces open Everglades swamp.
“Ain’t no way,” Tommy whines, “There’s alligators out there. I ain’t gonna git et.”
“We’ll jist stay to the high ground. There ain’t no alligators out of the water,” though I remember Stu’s fear after seeing a baby one. We find an empty shed where we stockpile two blankets and a tarp for camping out.
“I ‘spose ya gots ta go right away ta see yer boyfriend once we escape,” Tommy complains.
“No way. That’s the first place they’ll look to catch us.”
“Us? Ya means we’s gonna be partners,” he looks excessively optimistic.
“Partners in crime, not in bed.”
“Oh. Well, I can hope.”
I squeeze his hand, which makes him look at me with bedroom eyes. Oh, god, what am I creating? After that we’re almost giddy in the hope we’ll soon leave this hell on Earth.
The night we finally make our break is totally dark. Now that it’s mid-summer, it’s monsoon season in South Florida, . The storms roll in at sunset and cloud-cover shuts out natural moon and star light. We sneak to the back fence, using the blankets to climb over the barbed wire. No alarms go off as we fall over the fence and gather our supplies. After about five yards the ground falls off into the swampy Everglades. We slog through the water for about five minutes before coming to a hummock of dry ground. At least we leave no trail to follow. Once the Program staff find our empty bunks with the dummies made from dirty clothes, I hope they assume we’re not crazy enough to go into the swamp. Tommy is petrified of snakes and especially the ‘gators that we can’t see in the dark.
“We gots to git further from the camp, so we don’t git caught,” I insist.
Tommy grabs me and holds on, saying nothing. He’s in full panic mode.
“Com’n here,” I pull him into a hug.
His ramped up sex drive overcomes his panic, but he wants more, right there 50 yards from the camp.
“We gots to move further into the swamp,” I insist, pulling him to his feet. “We’ll stay on dry ground as long as possible.”
We slowly make our way along a hammock. I encourage him by holding his hand. Tommy is way too young for me to really be interested in him. I figure he’s done sexual favors with other inmates to stay safe, but that kind of sex is sick. I know he thinks I’m just being loyal to Jack. Really, I’m not about to start a new boyfriend relationship. We walk a good ways until we finally have no dry ground to follow. In our meandering, I hope we’re moving away from the Program camp, but it’s hard to tell in the dark.
When Tommy sees that there was only water ahead, he panics again, hugging me around the waist and refusing to move.
“Okay. We’ll stop here and wait for first light so we can get a better sense of direction.”
We spread out the blankets and make ourselves comfortable. Our excitement over escaping has calmed down. I feign sleep, which keeps Tommy from continuing to fondle me. In disgust he moves away. I hear him jerking off. When he finishes, he snuggles in next to me and goes instantly to sleep. Ah, hormones. I’m soon asleep myself. The dark envelops us.
First light has me awake and alert. Knowing where East is helps plan an escape route. I need to get to a phone, so I can call Jay. I can’t call anyone else without making them complicit in my new crime of escapee; they would be harboring a fugitive. Mike Sr., as a lawyer, is immune, but he would make me turn myself in. Jay as his assistant also has immunity. I feel he will at least be willing to tell me what’s going on. For three months I’ve been out of contact. I can make further plans after I learn how much trouble I really am in. All this over one sip of beer. But I know that is just grounds for them to investigate all the crap we were into since I joined Robby’s pot gang. Did they really have it in for me and the others, or was I just being paranoid. That set off the Sabbath song in my head.
Tommy woke up as I sing,
‘Finished with my woman ’cause she couldn’t help me with my mind
People think I’m insane because I am frowning all the time
All day long I think of things but nothing seems to satisfy
Think I’ll lose my mind if I don’t find something to pacify
Can you help me occupy my brain? Oh yeah
I need someone to show me the things in life that I can’t find
I can’t see the things that make true happiness, I must be blind
Make a joke and I will sigh and you will laugh and I will cry
Happiness I cannot feel and love to me is so unreal
And so as you hear these words telling you now of my state
I tell you to enjoy life I wish I could but it’s too late’
ANTHONY IOMMI, WILLIAM WARD, TERENCE BUTLER, JOHN OSBOURNE
“What you singing?” he stares at me.
“Sabbath, man. I needs inspiration, and I gots Paranoid,” I laugh at him.
I hum the bass line intro, “Dah dah… dah, dah.. dah dah.. dah dah.. dah dah… dot.”
Tommy jumps up. We thrash around, finally knocking each other down. Actually, I knock him down and fall on top of him, laughing.
“We did it,” he proclaims. “We beat those fuckers and escaped.”
The euphoria lasts about ten seconds, until we hear the baying of blood hounds.
“The fuckers have the dogs out looking for us,” Tommy shouts.
“Hush. We gots to move. Now.”
We pick up the blankets and dash into the swampy water. Fears are washed away by the baying of the hounds. Moving due west, the sound of the dogs seems to lessen. We find another hammock and run as far as it goes before splashing back into the murky water.
“Tommy, you live in Lauderdale. Where is that State Route that crosses the Everglades. Is it north or south of us?
“It’s gots to be south. But we cain’t go there. It’s Alligator Alley.” His fears return with the dogs falling behind.
“You gots ta stop bein’ so afraid. ‘Gators only attack when their young’uns is threatened,” I espouse Mr. Watt’s theory.
“How’d ya know that?” he challenges me.
“I camped out here. My boyfriend’s dad told us.”
“Jack’s dad?” he asks.
“How many boyfriends ya had?”
“Four, I guess,” I include Joey but exclude Doug Weston.
“Why ya won’t love me then?”
“I love ya, Tommy, but yer jist too young .”
“Ya gots some rule?”
“Naw. I can’t stop feelin’ like yer my little brother. Brothers don’t fuck.”
He throws himself at me. I let him sob awhile until that is done. Fourteen-year-olds can be so emotional.
“Ya done?” I ask.
“Yeah,” he sniffs. “But I’m gonna stop runnin’.’”
“Wot? We gots ta git away from them there dogs.”
“Not me. I jist wanna be with you, in that special way.”
I pick him up and French-kissed him deep and long. He’s putty in my arms.
“Com’n. They’s gonna catch us both if’n ya stop now.”
He looks at me, totally confused. I guess that’s my fault. At least he doesn’t give up. How easy to deceive with the lies we weave .
We turn south and run for at least two hours, stopping only to drink the murky water. At one point, the baying dogs seems closer. Suddenly they stop baying and are yelping, whining and eventually silent. Tommy’s paranoia convinces him that a big ‘gator ate them. Finally we see the edge of a suburban town recently built into the Everglades. We slog right into someone’s back yard, dripping and dirty. We have to find a ride out of this tract town because we’re sure to be noticed. Following the residential streets, we soon are on a main drag. I see a 7-11. Oh, thank heaven. I run up to the pay phone and dial the operator for a collect call to Jay, saying I’m Max deBowser. He accepts the call instantly.
“Hi, Jay. Still love me?”
“I escaped. I’m somewhere west of Ft Lauderdale.”
“Jesus. Why’d you do that? We were told you were in rehab.”
“That’s their cover, but it’s really a youth prison. There’s no rehab ‘cept we’re locked up all the time. No drugs there.”
Tommy pokes me. “How come ya talks different on the phone?”
“Hush,” I tell him.
“Who’s that,” Jay asks.
“That’s Tommy, my fellow escapee. He’s 14.”
“Jesus, Tim. I can’t be aiding and abetting.”
“Just be my lawyer and tell me what my chances of being cleared are.”
“I just work for your lawyer. You’re a juvenile. They have you until they decide you’re safe from bad influences or you turn 18.”
“That’s what they say. I have no rights. They’ll do what they want to me.”
“There’s no rehab?”
“Just beatings, whippings, and if you don’t cooperate, they send you to the mental hospital as incurably psychotic.”
“That’s what I say.”
“I’ll talk to Mike. We can investigate all that you’re saying.”
“Great. I can’t go back. I’ll be charged with escape. Tell me what’s happening with everyone.”
“Well, the band’s defunct. Michael and Robby are fighting. Jack’s been sent to school in Switzerland. The girls are all grounded. Hippie’s getting married. The band’s over, Tim.”
“Fuck. Why’s Jack gone.”
“His parents are afraid the police will go after him. I hear he’s miserable, too.”
“He’s fine. The Watts are great foster parents.”
“How about you?”
“Work’s fine. Not as much fun now that you’re gone. I know you were just flirting but I don’t deny I like it.”
“So you are gay?”
“Just say I have a strong weakness for a certain 16-year-old.”
“I love you too, Jay.”
“What can I do for you?”
“Tell Mike to get off his ass and clear me of those trumped-up charges. No one’s ever contacted me, you guys or my folks. I guess it’s not Jack’s fault if he’s in Europe. Fuck.”
“I’ll call again. I’ll keep using Max’s name for collect calls. But it doesn’t seem like there’s any hope for me now.”
“Don’t give up. The authorities are lying to us. Mike won’t put up with that.”
“Thanks, Jay.” I hang up and sit down hard on the curb.
Tommy sits with me. “Everything fucked?”
“Totally. Jack’s in Europe to escape the law. The band’s done. My lawyer’s clueless. My folks won’t help.
“Is Jay one of yer 4 boyfriends.”
“Naw. He’s 23. I just flirt with him.”
“If you can love a 23-year-old, why not me. I’m just 2 years younger. I really love you, Tim.”
Shit. I realize I don’t know what the date is. I go into 7-11 and look at the Miami Herald. It’s August already. I’ve been gone over three months.
I look at Tommy. “I missed my birthday. I’m 17 now.”
“Hell. You’ll never love me.”
“Stop it,” and I kiss him quickly. His mouth is open to me, but I don’t go there.
“Get outta heah, you boys. Ain’t no faggots at my store,” the clerk comes running outside.
We run off, laughing. I kinda enjoy being abused.
“Where the hell is we?” I ask, reverting back to my good ol’ boy persona. “You know, Tommy. Yer from roundabouts here.”
“Sure. We’re on State Route 84. Goes all the way back ta the Beach.”
“Where’s it go to the west?”
“Ends in Tampa, but we sure ain’t going that way. It’s Alligator Alley.”
“Why you so dead set against ‘gators?”
“Because they’s always tellin’ ’bout people who go out Alligator Alley way and never git heard from agin.”
“Another urban legend.”
Then I think that it can work to our advantage. If the locals in this tract report our presence, the authorities might conclude that the ‘gators got us after we haven’t turned up in a while.
“Let’s git our butts out o’ these parts and live it up with the ‘gators,” I announce.
“Oh, no,” whines Tommy. “Yer jist doin’ that ta harass me.”
“Ya ain’t got no ass ta harass,” I joke.
He looks at me seriously before breaking out into a shit eating grin.
“We’ll be Tom and Huck, living large in the wilderness. ‘Course I’s Tom.”
“Heck. I gots ta be Huck the Hick?”
“Naw. You’s Huck the Slick.”
We set out on State Route 84 after snagging fresh clothes off clothes lines behind several tract houses. We fit right in.
After walking a mile or so, a pickup stops and asks where we’re going.
“Just up the road a piece,” I answer. “Me and my brother’s out lookin’ fer adventures.”
“Ya sure ain’t ready for an alligator adventure. This ain’t Disney World. This here’s the Alligator Alley.”
Tom moves closer to me with that concerned look on his face.
“Ain’t no alligator et me yet,” I flash false bravado.
“Let me give you boys a ride up to the Sawgrass Campground. Y’all smoke weed?”
“Shur ‘nuff,” we both answer.
“Well, spark it up, Sparky,” as he hands me a joint.
Soon we’re goofin’ and gawfawin’ in his beat up pickup. I start singing,
‘One toke over the line, Sweet Jesus,
One toke over the line..’
Songwriters: BREWER, MICHAEL / SHIPLEY, TOM
One Toke Over The Line lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group
“Man, you gots a sweet voice,” our new friend says.
Tom tries to do the alto part, ‘Oh, sail away..’ but his voice cracks which makes us totally break up. I haven’t been high in over three months. I almost start crying, I’m so happy. My more mature self keeps the tears from falling.
“You boys don’t git high much, do ya?” he remarks.
“Not lately. We don’t git out much neither.”
“Folks are assholes, right?”
“Ain’t they all,” Tom answers.
“What’s y’alls names?”
“I’s Tom,” He responds without thinking.
“I’m goin’ by Huck.”
He bursts out laughing again. “You boys are crack ups. Ya ain’t runaways are ya?’
“Naw. It’s summer’s end and the crops are in. Our folks jist ‘bout kicked our asses out the door ‘til school starts.”
“Lookin’ fer adventure. My word. Well, here’s to ya,” and he pulls out a pint of Jack Daniels, takes a swig and hands it to me.
We both make faces at it.
“How old you boys, anyways?”
“14,” Tom says.
“16,” I lie for the first time about my age.
“My, my. Well, soon y’all will have a hankerin’ for Jack. Not yet, maybe.” He’s smiling like it’s Sunday and Christmas, all rolled up into the same day. I’m really high. Not a Robby maintaining high but a total body high. I can’t move. It feels so cool.
Tom falls asleep against my shoulder as I sit in the middle singing with my new best friend.
His name is Vic. He’s camping out at Sawgrass Campground, off Route 27 toward Orlando. He takes us there. It’s like a little city with little houses, except the people aren’t little – tall, long-haired dudes with their brown-eyed, big bottom mamas. Vic shows us where to wash up. When we join him, about fifteen hippies gather around for a sing along. They ask me what I know to play, handing me a beat up acoustic guitar.
“Well, let’s do the song we did together,” I motion to Vic. We did a replay of ‘One Toke Over the Line.’ I tell Vic to pinch Tom when his part, ‘oh, sail away’, comes up and to harmonize with him if he’s off-key. We both wink.
“Com’n, Tom. Git up here, too. And don’t fuck up the ‘sails away.’”
He grins as we sit in the middle of their circle. Sure enough, he’s off, so Vic pinches him, He hits the right note, with a little help from his friends.
Everyone knows the song and everyone is a little bit off. I blame Tom, but who knows who’s fault it is.
I play a medley of Dead songs, ending with ‘Truckin,’
“Well, time for us to go,” I end, getting up and pulling half-asleep Tom to his feet.
They refuse to let us leave before stuffing us with beans and rice. It tastes great. Who knew?
When Vic realizes I’m determined to leave, he pulls me aside.
“You boys is runaways, right?”
“Naw. I jist gotta git Tommy from crushing on me so much. We gots ta be on the road to adventures so as he stops makin’ me his hero. T’ain’t normal. The first time I run away from an alligator, he’ll be crushed. I can have my life back.”
“He’s like yer right hand, right?”
“Part o’ me misses him right now ‘cause we’s neva apart. Ya understand?”
“Yer a pretty cool dude. Come back after yer alligator adventure and let us know.”
“Hell, we’s goin’ to Disney World, after that.”
We laugh and go back to the circle.
“Wake up, stoner boy,” as I shake Tom, “We gots ta go.”
“Ah shucks,” he murmurs.
Several people say not to go, offering a couch. We end at Vic’s beat-up Airstream. I lay Tom on the couch, while Vic gets him a blanket. He puts his arm around me and asks if I want to sleep with him.
“”S’cool,” I say, “but Tom’ll come and git in, too. Ruin the party.”
He shakes his head. “You’re a trip.”
We get up early and sneak out at dawn, not leaving a note.
“Where to today, Jose?” Tom grins.
“Off to Alligator Alley. Off to meet the Wizard, the Wonderful Gator of Oz.”
Tom sulks, “Why you gotta be pushin’ gators on me? You know I hates ‘gators.”
“Y’all don’t jist hate gators. You’s afraid of gators…. and snakes, an’ spiders, an’ everythin’.”
“I ain’t afraids.”
I reached over, kiss him lightly on the cheek and lick his lips. His hips start humping right there beside the road.
“Stop,” I whisper. “Yer makin’ a spectacle.”
He pants, “A what–a-call?”
“A spectacular hard-on,” As I wink at his bulge.
“That’s my spectacle?” he laughs.
We go on like that until we run out of puns and rhymes. And his hard-on is gone.
Once past the campground, we walk until I see a good-sized hummock veering off Highway 27.
“Check it out. Let’s look fer a hideout away from the road.”
“Why not jist stay in the campground where there’s food and comfort? They’s jist back the road a piece.”
“Those Program assholes will eventually come a’lookin’ for us. We needs a camp to run to when we hears ‘em a’comin.’”
“Can’t we jist go back to the hippies. I liked ‘em,” Tom whines.
“Later. Let’s go set up our hideaway. ‘Dontcha wanna a place we can be alone together.” I wink at him.
I swear his hard-on bursts, then and there, messin’ his jeans. He tries to hug me, but I push him away.
“Doncha git that jizz on me.”
We laugh. I kiss him on the cheek again, with a quick lip lick.
As we walk along the hammock, we whistle Snow White’s ‘Off to Work We Go’ together.
I call him Dopey. He calls me Doc. At its far end, the hammock spreads out like fingers into the swamp.