A Prairie Christmas Chapter 5


“Hi, Mom,” I croaked as she opened the front door of a large, three-story square house  with a wrap-around porch. Before my knees could buckle, I grabbed her and held on like crazy.

“Oh, Tim,” she sobbed, remembering not to call me Timmy.
I fainted.

I came to, looking down on my still body, lying on an outdoor divan/couch on the porch.


Jace was hovering with me, looking concerned.
“This is a first,” he noted.
Max barked, which brought mom over to check on me, placing a damp cloth on my forehead.
“I cain’t feel nothin.’” I complained.
“It’s just a dream,” Jace explained.

I woke up. Mom was sitting next to me on the porch divan. I sat up quickly, preparing to stand up.
“Whoa, cowboy,” I remembered that expression from when I was a little kid. “Just sit up and get your bearings. Your eyes are twirling like pinwheels.”
I leaned back and relaxed. Mom came into focus.
“Sorry ‘bout that, Mom,” I tried to explain.
“Hush, now. You’re just exhausted from your trip. Wait here while I get you some iced tea.”
I lay back, closing my eyes.  Tim 572I was back floating above my body with Jace. Mom was barely moving, so slowly she appeared frozen.
“Whoa. Is that how you normally see me,” I asked Jace.
“It’s just flex-time,” Jace stated without an explanation. “Let’s not wait around for her and the iced tea.”
I followed him as we investigated Mom’s big house. The first floor had four large rooms and a full bathroom. The other two floors were the same. There were stairs down to the cellar. I wasn’t up to exploring down there.
Jace seemed reluctant to leave my side.
“What’s up. butt fuck? Why ya hoverin?’”
“Showing you I’m not tempted to take over yer dead body.”
“I’m dead?” I truly was shocked. It seemed plausible.
“The Guardian said we’d be absorbed together when we were both dead. I ain’t missin’ that.”
“Fer shure.”
We were laughing together. I woke up again.
Mom clutched me as I sat up.
“I thought we’d lost you,” Mom was sobbing.
“How long was I out?”
“Twenty minutes. Don’t be upset. I called the ambulance. We’re going to Emergency.”
“No, Mom. I’m fine. It’s the hard trip.”
“Don’t start fightin’ me, Tim. You stopped breathing. You’re going to see a doctor.”

The medics were two ex-football types. They took my vitals, noting I was severely underweight and dehydrated. A saline drip was put in my arm. They lifted me onto a stretcher and carried me out. I enjoyed my groin satisfaction similar to giving in to Jack’s macho moves.

I woke up. It was three days later. I was strapped to my bed. The nurse noted I was awake and cognizant. She undid the binds keeping me from thrashing. I sat up. The dull headache I’d been ignoring while traveling was gone. As she checked my vitals, we had a nice conversation.

They decided my body was fully functional, but I was sick in the head . The shrink diagnosed multiple personality disorder. I was (or I should say we) were discharged with a referral for therapy. All that time I was floating with Jace, Max inhabited my body, so we weren’t absorbed into the spirit world. Way to go, Max. Tim 314 I figured I could let Max be in charge when I met the therapist.

Mom brought me ‘home.’ This time I made it past the front door. Waiting for me were a woman Mom’s age and two teen girls, appearing close to my age. They wait nervously to find out how crazy I was.

“This is Molly,” Mom introduced me to the adult. “She’s my girlfriend.”
“Way to go, Mom,” I felt instantly at ease.
“And these are our twins, Amy and Angela,” Molly introduced me. Was I part of this blended family? I figured, ‘why not? Just another Brady Bunch.’
“I hope you’ll see me as a brother, once we get to know each other,” as I reached out.
They both gave me a hesitant but welcoming hug. I was stunned to recognize them as the two girls who rescued me in my dream of coming here. They were not identical twins; Amy was blonde with perky features and an easy smile; Angela’s hair was a dirty blonde, longer, and in a pony-tail. She seemed more serious. Tim179 My heart rate spiked. I had to take a deep breath to stop from fainting. At least I had the tears under control.
“You’ll be a senior, like us, at school – Ames High,” Amy said.
I caught the double entendre. “Better than aiming low.”
It took a second, but then everyone laughed. Tim 323

They had made a welcome cake. Suddenly I was famished. The doctor had told me to gain weight. We made quick work of the cake. I like girls who aren’t afraid to eat. I didn’t say anything about the twins being in my dream. I wasn’t ready to seem weird yet.
I was wearing an outfit Mom had bought at JC Penney. It wasn’t exactly ‘Out & About.’
I looked at Mom. “Any chance I can pick up some new clothes. I’ll pay you back once I get an after-school job.”
“Of course, honey. Maybe the girls will show you the stores in town. And, don’tcha worry about money. Your dad has started paying support, which really helps.”
I quickly checked the girls. I knew they wanted to go shopping for me. I was a swimmer. I loved dress-up. Mom handed me a credit card – teenage nirvana.

Soon we were skipping out the door and down the porch steps. I grabbed each girl’s hands, remembering Halloween with Lydia, hand in hand as Raggedy Ann and Andy Tim 346 They giggled. We all felt like ten-year-olds.
“So, what’s your style – jock, soc, or, (giggle) nerd?” Angela asked. She seemed the more practical one.
I avoided saying rocker and suggested, “Bowling?”
“You are a crack-up, “Amy burst out. “Your mom’s so serious. Is your dad as cool as you.”
“No way. He’s ex-military. I get my spirit of adventure from my cousin Joey.”
We were in their car, but instead of going shopping, we sat there and talked about our blended family. Mom and Molly got together right after she moved to Ames, but had only made it official at the beginning of the school year.
“It’s weird telling people you have two moms,” Angela said.
“My best friend, Hippie, has two moms. They’re both bull dykes.”
“His name is Hippie?”
“Actually, Gregory. But we started calling him Hippie Greg, then just Hippie.”
“What’s a bull dyke?” Amy wanted to know.
“They’s all big and butch and hates men.Tim 297 Poor Hippie. His moms refused to teach him ‘bout sex. We had to give him lessons. The moms thought we was molestin’ ‘im. Meg and Marge – she used to be called ‘Large Marge.’ They’s from Texas but hadda move ‘cause the Baptists kicked ‘em out.”
“What is this accent you put on when y’all gets excited. Oh my gosh, I’s doin’ it, too.”
We all laughed.
“Hows ‘bouts we just do it whens we’s all tagether like this’?”
“Cool, but don’t do it in front of our friends. They be a’thinkin’ we ‘uns a’gone all hayseed.”
“Our secret hillbilly lives,” we all agreed.

“So, yer inta bowlin’? I knows jist the place,” Angela switched the discussion back to shopping. She drove to the downtown shopping area, parking at Goodwill.
“Not so proud to wear second-hand,” she challenged me. I remembered how my last two outfits were stolen from clothing lines behind tract housing.
“I always dress for success with clothing in distress.”
More giggles, which kept us crazy. We perused the polyester/bowling-wear and modeled looks we hoped didn’t look too homeless. The girls came right into the dressing booths with me. Good thing Mom had bought me underwear at Penney’s.
We chose eight outfits – Dickies and khaki pants, long-sleeved, button-up patterned shirts, as well as one complete bowling outfit for Sunday best. The total was $30, but Goodwill didn’t take Mom’s credit card. The girls fronted me, as I promised to be their style model. They could claim credit for my edgy look, as well as  accessorizing me as they saw fit. Tim 37 What the hell? They had rescued me in my dream.

We had been shopping all afternoon, arriving home in time for dinner. The girls rushed me upstairs, dressing me for the meal. They wanted to apply makeup. I held the line;  it was clothes that made the man, not the mascara. We bounced down the stairs just as the moms looked up from the dinner table. I was wearing my Sunday best bowling shirt, with Tony’s Auto on the back and ten-pins on the front. They had spiked up my hair, which made the look edgy. At least took away from the hopelessness of used clothing.

The moms looked at each other, breaking into laughter and shaking their heads.
“Here’s your card, Mom. They wouldn’t take it at the bowling boutique. You owe Angela. I got eight outfits for $30.”
“When did Ames start having boutiques,” Molly giggled.
“It’s called Goodwill,” Amy burst out.
The moms looked shocked. Mission accomplished.

After dinner, the girls had homework. I asked Mom if it was okay to call Dad, just to tell him everything was normal, for once.

Susan picked up.
“Hi, Mom,” I cheerfully answered her ‘hello.’
“Tim, you sound so much better. Are you in Iowa with your real mom?”
“I got here so dehydrated that I was in hospital for three days. I just got out. I have twin sisters. And, you’re still my real Mom. Always.”
“Oh, Tim. You always say the right things. We really miss you. Dad finally got a new dog.”
“Is it a black lab.”
“No. He said he could never replace Max. It’s a bull-dog, very stubborn.”
“They’ll get along great.” Tim 297
She laughed. “When can you come home. I mean back to Miami.”
“I’ve only been here one day, but they want me to feel at home. I can’t go back to Florida until next summer, when I turn 18.”
“You always have a home here.”
“When I’m not a criminal, that is.”
“You are such a sweet boy. I’ll never understand why they persecuted you so. All you did was drink a little beer.”
“Old news, Mom. It’s all taken care of now. Can I talk with Dad.”
“Of course, I’m sorry. I was so happy just chattering away.”
“I love you, Mom.”
“Oh.. I’ll get Dad.”

“Hi Dad. Everything’s better. Mom seems happier than I’ve ever seen her.”
“Tell her, I’m glad.”
“You got a new dog?”
“His name is Winston.”
“Must be English.”
“He’s learning how to behave.”
“Good luck with that.”
“Hah. I guess I’m pretty hard on everyone. I owe you an apology.”
“No, Dad. I apologize for being so stubborn. All I had to say was the Police were right and all this drama would never have happened. We’re both too stubborn. I felt so badly about Max.” Tim 316
“I do too, Tim. Thank you for putting that dog in our lives.”
“Yup,” I gulped.
“So where were you all this time? You called once, but you hung up.”
“Living large out in the Everglades. It was great. Like Alaska with better weather.”
“I read in the Herald you called yourself Huckleberry Finn. Hm, was that boy, like.. your boyfriend?”
“No, Dad. More like a little brother. He’s only 14. We both had to escape that Program place. It was evil and corrupt.”
“You exposed them, all right. I need to believe you more. I promise I will in the future.”
“I’ll try not to involve you in controversy again. Thanks for sending Mom the support money.”
“I was so angry to learn that the County was involved in kickbacks for what I was paying. They finally repaid me for the months you were no longer there. I decided to pay your mom the same as they charged. Mike Antonio has filed a class action for all the parents who paid for services never received.”
“He’s a class act.”
“Do right by your Mom, Tim.”
“Yes, sir. Make sure Susan knows she’s my mom, too. There’s no second place in my heart.”

Whew. That went well. I needed to speak with someone my age. I called Hippie.
“Hello, who’s calling, please?” a girl answered.
“Is that you, Anna? It’s Tim, from Gregory’s old band.”
“Oh, my gosh. Teen Jesus?” she was in shock.
“No, Anna. Jace is Teen Jesus. I was his best friend.”
“Gregory says you was livin’ in sin with him.”
“Well, maybe it weren’t so bad as ya think.”
“I’ll pray for you both.”
“Jesus was young once, ya know. Congratulations on yer marriage. I wish I coulda bin there.”
“Well, thank ye. Those other so-called friends were so mean. I ‘bout died. They was smokin’ dope an’ carryin’ on, kissing each other an’ such. I was so ashamed from embarrassment in front o’ my folks an’ friends.”
“That was so mean.”
“Well, that was the end of the band for Gregory. He really stood up for me. I shoulda never invited ‘em.”
“Is Hippie there.”
“Of course. Here I’s goin’ on ‘bout my struggles an’ y’all jist wantin’ ta speaks wid ‘im.”
“No. I’s so happy yer married. I knows ya love that country boy.”
“I do.”
“That’s all that counts.”
“Thank ye, Tim. Maybe my prayers done ya good. I’ll git Gregory.”

“Tim, my man.” Konstantin02
“Hippie, my hippie. Congratulations on the marriage. I hear the boys was a-holes.”
“I quit the band, Tim. I plays in Church, is all now.”
“Guess where I is?”
“At Robby’s, getting’ high.”
“Bit further than that.”
“Kin I come an’ sees ya?”
“Maybe, for Thanksgiving. I’s in Iowa.”
“No, shit. That’s where my Mima an’ Pipa lives. I’s there at this time last year.”
“My Mom lives in Ames. Ya both gots ta come visit.”
“My peoples live in Harlan County. It ain’t that far away. Im’a gonna talk with Anna and lets ya know when we’s a’comin.’”
The joy of marriage – no snap decisions. I couldn’t believe I had a friend already married.
He told me how frustrating it was to not have anyone to play music with. We got off the line. I felt how much I missed him. The other guys not so much, after how badly they acted at his wedding. They were just immature. Was I grown up now, after a summer camping out with a fourteen-year-old?

“I had a good talk with Dad. He’s happy to pay the support. It’s the same as the County billed him when we weren’t even in custody.”
“Who’s we?” Mom usually wasn’t interested in my friends.
“Oh, Tommy. Dario 03 He was my little brother all summer after we escaped from juvenile jail.”
“Your dad said you were in drug rehab.”
“That was a lie. They were holding me to stop me from makin’ a fuss after the cops killed my dog.”
“What is this all about, Tim. I was told you were in trouble with drugs.”
I told her the events at the Skynyrd concert. How they busted me for a beer I didn’t even drink.
“Well, it does sound fishy. Just try to be a good kid here. Iowans are nice people but they can be judgmental.
“We aren’t in Kansas anymore, Toto?”
“You’re a cut-up, Tim.”

I went up to my room on the second floor. The girls had the entire third floor for themselves. I had my eye on an empty room up there that had a dormer window which seemed perfect for looking out and daydreaming, tim-447 laying there with Jace in my arms. Once I thought of him, his ghost popped into view. I was stunned. All day I had ignored him.
“How’s your new life?” he signed to me.
“Where have you been? Did I abandon you?”
“Naw. I do have other people who keep me in their hearts.”
“Jack? Were you with Jack?”
“He’s fine. I don’t check-in. My heart can tell where to go. Jack’s on a very boring schedule in seminary. The monks keep him under control. I usually check on Candy and Nate.”
“Your mom. So, when I’m with my mom you want to be with yours.”
“It’s more complicated. Time runs differently for me. Remember ‘flex-time?’ It means I can be with many people at once. You don’t notice it usually. The other day, you almost died. I was on full Tim alert. You had all my attention. Right now, I’m also with Aaron and Paul in New York. They’re at Aaron’s temple, being berated for forsaking Aaron’s faith. Paul is ready to lose it.”
“What can you do?”
“I could shake up their Menorah.”
I laughed.
“I’m there because Paul and Aaron called out from their hearts. I just make them know they’re still loved.”
“How many hearts are you in now?”
“Hundreds, but mostly I just feel love for those who call for me. No one’s ever abandoned. I can’t follow the lives of everyone, so it’s just the feelings I can share.”
I was thunderstruck by all the work it took to be Teen Jesus.
“Will you sleep with me? I’m not ready for sex yet.”
“Sure, but take off that bowling shirt. It’s scary.”
I giggled.
“You want to visit Jack?” My eyes popped open. “You have to let Max take over your body lest we both get absorbed.”
“How about just a short visit. I’m still afraid of sex.”
“Don’t get dizzy. Flex-time is disorienting. We’re going 5000 miles and it will compress into a second or so, then we’ll be back to your regular 60 heart beats per minute.”
It scared me silly. It felt too much like traveling with the Guardian. We were in Jack’s dreams. He had already attacked Casper; Casper that’s who he loved. He looked over and saw me watching them. I could tell they had been going at it for a while. Flex time distortion.
“Tim! You’re in my dream.” Tim 290 I said nothing. I knew if he became too aware that he was dreaming, he would wake up and end the encounter.
I moved to embrace them both. Jack quickly noticed that I wasn’t hard. It was too much for him. He woke up. I was alone back in Iowa. Jace came into view several seconds later.
“I had to calm him down. He was so horny it wasn’t hard to get him to go back to sleep. He came three times. His heart was hoping you’d reappear.”
“Can we go back?”
“It’s dangerous to do it often, especially right after using flex-time. Maybe tomorrow. Try going to bed early. He’s seven hours ahead of you.”
It was a good sign that I was looking forward to a wet dream. Jace agreed.

The girls banged on my door in the morning, announcing they needed to get me dressed and made up for school. Oh, god, I had created another monster – twin teenage stylists. Cathy Christina

No bowling shirt for school. My hair was spiked and I was wearing wrist bracelets. I stopped them from painting my nails. The moms just shook their heads in dismay. I felt like a Ken doll. Remembering the Out & Proud girls dressing up their little boyfriends, I was a now 12-year-old. I also wasn’t about to have my sisters be my girlfriends. Yet.

School registration went quickly. Jay had sent my transcripts. All my Gables’ teachers from last Spring had passed me. Mr. Clark had even given me an A. I’ll bet he convinced the others to not give me incompletes.
Well, how ‘bouts ya show me ‘round school?” I asked the girls.
“Our pleasure,” they both answered. ames_high_school_front_c_s
Jace was hovering above them He just shook his head about whether their hearts were open to him. I let the girls (my sisters!) show me around. I wasn’t sorry that Ames High didn’t have a swim team – no pool.
“Mom doesn’t know about all the changes in my life since she left,” I explained to Amy and Angela.
Amy was more interested, “What have you been doing?”
“My friends and I started a band, doing rock and pop covers. We played parties at the University of Miami and even went on tour to New York.”
Angela challenged me, “How about you play us a song or two. The band room is open this period.”

I think she was trying to test the truth of my bragging. Tim 234
We walked to the practice room. There were some other kids who were practicing their orchestra instruments. I found an acoustic guitar and played the girls my ‘Lives’ song:

“This is our life,
our pride alive
Its our times
Lost our minds
Stupid rules rule
Demand we act
Just like fools
To be like you.

You think we be freakin’
You gotta be keen to not be seen.
No wonder we’re always sneakin’

“These lives…
Are mine to give.
Live your lies….
Death’s negative
It’s no surprise
When you die
To realize
You had no life

Some friends are gone
Way too soon
Missed for what they did
Missed for what they didn’t

You live the 9 to 5
At home the baby cries
Like desperate housewives
Bills eat you alive”

“These lives…
Are mine to give.
Live your lies….
Death’s negative
It’s no surprise
When you die
To realize
You had no life”

Amy clapped and Angela was just speechless.
“Here’s another one,” and I played ‘You’:

“I say, …you…
You’re such a fool
You’re just a tool
But I love…you

I say…. you…
What can we do?
You said we’re through
What can I….. do

I say,…. you…
We break the rules
We act real cruel
I really need…. you…
I say, …you..”

And then I did ‘Love’:

“I never feel this way.
Happy and full of play.”
I wake up every day,
You’re by my side,
You reach and touch,
I say goodbye.

There’s no future,
But we have now.
Don’t ask,
some way,

“We’re perfect for each other,
I never think of another.”
Can’t be love, but who can say
I know you’re here to stay?”

There’s no future,
But we have now.
Don’t ask,
some way,

“We can’t live by ourselves.
We need people that we love
We hate those who hate themselves
We know what they’re made of.

Love, love, love

I need your love
I need your love
I need your love
I need you”

I could tell they were impressed. Amy actually hugged me, at which I turned bright red.
Angela admitted, “I guess you got real talent. How can you write about adults things like that when you’re just a teen?”
“Ya never bin in love?” I asked them both.
“You mean have boyfriends?” Angela asked back.
“More’n that. Real crazy, mad love. Can’t live without yer boyfriend.”
They both shook their heads.
“We’re the same age, right? Seventeen?”
“Yup,” they agreed.
“An’ y’all seen how love messes up yer friends.”
“So why put yerselves through all that?”
“Sex?” they giggled.
It was my turn to blush, which seemed to excite both of them. I was Mr. Vulnerable.
“So what comes first, sex or love?” I asked.
“Love,” they both agreed.
“Ain’t the same fer boys. Sex can drive ’em crazy. Tim 100 The needing it whens ya don’t have it and the missing it even whens ya does
They both were blushing now.
“So, ya’s both known t’other all yer lives. I known ya just a few hours or so. Why’s it I feels like we really connect? Yer twins an’ all, yet I feels like we be peas in a pod, like triplets.”
“Like maybe we were separated at birth, or sumthin’?” Amy enthused.
Angela was still holding back. Was I going to play the Teen Jesus card? That seemed inappropriate.
“I have a weakness for getting girls to trust me. Guess it be ‘cause I never had a sister. I’s jist so excited ta know ya both. Last week I had a dream where two girls helped me find Mom’s house.”
They had nothing to say, but their mouths were wide open, stuck between belief and disbelief. Tim 260
“Y’all knows I run away but I didn’t know wheres to go. I didn’t even know Mom’s address. After that dream, I calls my lawyer to get the address, and here I is.”
“We’re glad, too, Tim,” Angela was won over. Amy grinned at her acceptance of me.
Not quite time for the group hug.
“Long lost triplets then?” I hardly knew their mom, but the groundwork was laid. I couldn’t help plot my life three moves ahead.
“Wanna play a song? How’s it feel to get a brother ya don’ts even know?”
They were speechless, so I picked up the guitar and played ‘Take it Easy,’ by the Eagles.

‘Well, I’m a runnin’ down the road
Tryin’ to loosen my load
Got a world of trouble on my mind
Lookin’ for a lover
Who won’t blow my cover
She’s so hard to find
Take it easy, take it easy
Don’t let the sound of your own wheels
Make you crazy
Come on baby, don’t say maybe
I gotta know if your sweet love
Is gonna save me
Oh we got it easy
We oughta take it easy’

Published by
Lyrics © Jackson Browne/Swallow Turn Music/Night Kitchen Music/Open Window Music

Both girls sang along during the chorus. Country music was my passport to Iowa. They started asking me to play their favorites, amazed that I could play any song, as long as I’d heard it before.
“We have a song for you,” Amy announced and they sang the Eagles’ ‘New Kid in Town;’ I came in on guitar on the second line.


‘Oh, my, my
There’s a new kid in town
Just another new kid in town
Ooh, hoo
Everybody’s talking ’bout the new kid in town
Ooh, hoo
Everybody’s walking’ like the new kid in town
There’s a new kid in town
Theres a new kid in town people started walking
There’s a new kid in town
I don’t want to hear it
There’s a new kid in town
I don’t want to hear it
There’s a new kid in town
There’s a new kid in town
There’s a new kid in town’

Writer(s): Don Henley, Glenn Lewis Frey
Copyright: Cass County Music, Red Cloud Music

“Y’all can call me, ‘Johnny Come Lately’, Yee Haw. Just don’ts be callin’ me late ta dinner.
“You’re a cornball,” Angela complained.
“That makes me feel right at home here ‘bouts in Ames, I-o-way.”
“How ‘bouts we do a sing along for the moms tonight, after dinner?”
Shades of Jack Stone, performing for the parental units.
“Shur thing. Y’all wants ta learn guitar? I gots the best teacher in the world.”
“Who’s that?” they both asked.
“His name’s Jace an’ he’s forever in my heart,” as I handed Amy the guitar. “Jist close your eyes and if’n your heart is open to ‘im, you’ll feel ‘im guidin’ yer fingers to form the chords.”
She was putty in Jace’s hands, soon strumming the basic chords to ‘New Kid in Town.’
“How you doin’ that?” Angela looked at me accusingly,
“Ya gots ta trust yer heart ta lets ‘im in,” I instructed her. “I kin feel yer doubtin,’ but let Amy sit with ya. She kin help ya let Jace into yer heart.”
Amy moved over so they were sitting side-by-side, as I gave her the guitar. Amy showed her how to form the first chord. Once Angela started strumming, Jace took over. Angela made all the chords changes as directed. A big smile came over her as she played the tune perfectly.
“See, rock is so easy. It’s already in your heart, jist waitin’ to come out.”
“Who’s Jace. Is he who I feel guiding my hands and fingers?”
“He’s the lovin’ spirit in my heart. Y’all let me in. we’re all always with ya now.”
They reached out to hug me. Jace and I both hugged them, just like in my dream.
“I can feel him, as well as you, Tim.” Amy exclaimed.
“Me, too,” Angela murmured, not quite as trusting as Amy.
“I’s so lucky ta have sisters,” I gushed. Tim 33
The music teacher came over to say that the practice room was closing, as final bell had rung. We were so surprised that the whole day had gone by so quickly.
“This is Tim, our new brother from Florida, Miss Hull,” Amy introduced me. “He just taught us how to play guitar.”
“Nice ta meet ya, ma’am,” I tried to be polite.
“Well, that’s mighty nice of you to be teaching the guitar. You want to play the song for me?”
“It’s our pleasure,” Angela beamed, picking out the opening chords  with confident strumming, to ‘New Kid’ (with an assist from Jace).

All three of us sang the words, with the girls bowing and pointing at me at the song’s conclusion.
“Welcome, New Kid, I think you’ll like Ames.”
“I already do, ma’am.”
“Normally, I’d suggest y’all enter the school talent show, but with those pure voices, it may be discouraging to other students. Why don’t you all come by the Downtown Coffee Shop on Friday night and perform for the College crowd?”
“We just learned to play an hour ago, Miss Hull,” Angela worried, “I can’t see playing in public this weekend.”
“But your voices are so clear and pure. You really harmonize well. Why keep such joy to yourself. Just show up. everyone will welcome you. It’s not a competition.”

We rushed back to the Hyland Ave house.  My sisters had a decent stereo in their room, so we looked for songs we could do on Friday night.
“Have ya performed before,” I politely asked.
“Just Church, in the choir.”
“Oh, Choir Girls?” I joshed. “How nice. You don’t mind if I kid you ‘bout that?”
“Why would you do that?
“Oh, jist, ya know what they say ‘bout choir boys. It’s the same but worse for choir girls.”
“Well, we ain’t boys.”
“I noticed that, y’all.” Tim 402
“You’re so funny. You act like you know us and we should know you.”
“Maybe ‘cause yer twins. You don’t know me but for some reason I’ jist trust both y’all.”
Amy giggled, but Angela looked skeptical.
“What if I say I had already met you both, in a dream?” Tim 71
Their mouths dropped and they let out a little “eek.”
“Ya know I took the bus here, right?”
They nodded.
“For a week, before that, I didn’t know where I was going, just hitchin’ ‘round Georgia and ‘Bama. I was sleepin’ outside and dreamed I decided to see Mom. I had trouble gittin’ rides ‘cause I’s a-talkin’ to myself. I got to Iowa and was sittin’ aside the road, cryin’ and not knowin’ whats to do. Y’all stopped and wanted ta help me. Y’all believed I weren’t crazy seeing my dead friend and his dog.”
“That’s who you were talkin’ to.”
“Yup. We all four and Max, the dog, sat around and hugged. Then you drove me here. Mom believed me, too. Said she could see Jace. Then I woke up. That’s when I decided ta come here.”
Amy was staring at Angela who looked like she was tryin’ ta decide whether to believe me or not. She nodded to Amy. Then both of them hugged me again.
It was nice, sitting on their bedroom floor hugging. Finally, we sat up and started looking through their record collection for songs we could do. I found a Kinks album with ‘Apeman’ on it.

‘I think I’m so sophisticated
‘Cause I’m living my life like a good homosapien
But all around me, everybody’s multiplying
And they’re walking round like flies, man
So I’m no better than the animals
sitting in their cages in the zoo man
Because compared to the flowers and the birds in the trees
I am an Apeman
I think I’m so educated and I’m so civilized
‘Cause I’m a strict vegetarian
But with the over-population and inflation and starvation
And the crazy politicians
I don’t feel safe in this world no more
I don’t want to die in a nuclear war
I want to sail away to a distant shore
And make like an Apeman

I’m an Apeman, I’m an Ape Apeman
No, I’m an Apeman
Well, I’m a King Kong man, I’m a Voo-Doo man
No, I’m an Apeman
‘Cause compared to the sun that sits in the sky
Compared to the clouds as they roll by
Compared to the bugs and the spiders and flies
I am an Apeman….

I’m an Apeman, I’m an Ape Apeman
No, I’m an Apeman
Well, I’m a King Kong man, I’m a Voo-Doo man
No, I’m an Apeman
I don’t feel safe in this world no more
I don’t want to die in a nuclear war
I want to sail away to a distant shore
And make like an Apeman’

Published by
Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.


We jumped up doing the monkey dance before the song was over.

“We gots ta do that song for Friday,” I exclaimed, as we kept jumping around after the song was long over.
I grabbed an acoustic guitar and started playing ‘Barefoot Boy.’ Tim 352

‘Barefooted boy
Makes a stand
To take his joy
Going hand to hand

Flying out free
Branch to branch
Through the trees
Reckless chance.”

“Free to be
A monkey like me

Ha ha ha
He he he
Haw haw haw
Chee chee chee’

I played the chorus over and over, then gave Amy the guitar and watched Jace teach her the chords changes while I kept singing the chorus to set the beat. Amy sang the verses, then handed the guitar to Angela and jumped out to jungle dance with me. Jace kept Angela repeating the chorus until she got it down. Then it was just the three of us singing as we danced. I looked over at the stairs and saw the moms just staring at us. I instantly collapsed to the floor, followed by the twins. Staring straight up at the ceiling, I announced, “How’s we gonna have sex if y’all keep watchin’ us.”
“Busted,” Amy responded.
They moms came up the rest of the stairs, blithering and blathering that they weren’t spying on us.
Angela rescued them. “Come sit over here, moms. We’ll show you what we’re plannin’ to play at the café Friday night.

I put the Kinks record back on and picked up the acoustic guitar. I sang the Ray Davies verses, Then the girls came on with the chorus and Amy sang the sorrowful verse solo:

‘I don’t feel safe in this world no more
I don’t want to die in a nuclear war
I want to sail away to a distant shore
And make like an Apeman…’

Instead of doing the da da dut da da boom, I went right into Barefoot Boy on guitar while Amy sang the verses. I handed her the guitar and sang as she took over the guitar playing:

“Free to be
A monkey like me”

I stepped out doing the monkey moves, Tim 106 as the girls sang the chorus:

“Ha ha ha
He he he
Haw haw haw
Chee chee chee”

Amy handed the guitar to Angela who kept repeating the chorus while Amy joined me jungle dancing. She was surprisingly good at it, for a choir girl.

“If’n that don’t gits ‘em dancing I don’t knows wot will. Y’all shur ya learnt to sing in Church Choir?” I asked the twins.
The moms were speechless, which was the whole point.
Finally Molly spoke up, “Where did you learn that obscene dancing?”
“That’s how the Black kids dance in Miami.”
“I highly recommend you tone down the dancing,” Mom asserted.
“That’s perfect. Dancing banned by Moms.”
“Timothy Castle, you get over here,” said irate Mom.
Suddenly I was floating with Jace as Max entered my body.
“Watch how Max handles your mom,” Jace suggested.
I saw myself give Mom the most pitiful, broken eyes, ZorikTim 311 looking up at her while scrunching up.

“Oh, Timmy. I just don’t understand how kids dance anymore.”
Max sniffed and leaned my body into a hug with Mom.
“My goodness, I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings,” as she hugged me.
Angela came to my rescue. “It’s not a dance like the Twist in your day. It’s the music that makes you dance like that. Once you’ve got the beat, you can do all the usual dance steps.”
“The music teacher, Miss Hull, asked us to perform downtown. We wanna get everyone dancing.’ I had returned to my body apparently.
I stood up and sang a Capella to Angela, ‘Do you love me.”

The Moms knew that one and frowns turned to grins, as we got them up to dance with us.

“Whatcha think?” I asked as we stopped dancing and started laughing.
“No jungle dancing,” the moms commanded.
“We cain’t help it,” we all pleaded.
“But, you’re our babies,” they cried.
“Not anymore,” I demanded, grabbing the acoustic and banging out the opening leads to Sabbath’s ‘Paranoid,’ Tim 232

until all the strings were broken. Falling over onto pillows, I saw, in the corner of my eye, all four females looking strangely at me, as I performed. I lay there for 5 seconds, opened one eye and winked at them.Tim 190
They exploded. A giant pillow fight broke out – everyone against me – a feminist slaughter frenzy.
“Stop.” I yelled, the anti-feminist. They stopped and listened. “We gots ta name the band.”
“It’s more like a trio,” Amy responded.
“Okay, the Triplets then.” Angela was always right.
“The Triplets – Amy, Angela & Andy,” I pronounced.
“Andy?” Mom questioned.
“I asked ya to call me Tim, but y’all still call me Timmy. You even said Timothy jist a whiles ago. I wants ta be called Andy, so I kin be one of the Triplets. Molly, do you wants me to be your son? Amy and Angela, I felts like kin since we all met. Can I be yer brother, to harass and kid ya, for being choir girls, and to be the one that backs you up regardless, ‘til death does us part?”
“Welcome to the family, Andy.” And it was one big family hug. Max barked, startling the girls.
“There’s hopes fer ya yet.” I pronounced.

Another morning and another bang on my door to get up and be dressed for school. The girls toned down my look with flat hair and no makeup – just me, the bowling jock. We arrived at Ames High (shoots low) so they could parade me around to all their friends. I was definitely in with the girls, which made me more or less a target with the guys. Somehow the rumor started that I was their long-lost brother and that the three of us were triplets. I let the girls participate in the gossip mill, denying I ever knew anything about sisters until now. My suggestion that we promote our Friday performance was nixed as the girls were nervous enough about playing before strangers, let alone to critical friends. A hug from Jace reassured them that it would go well. They glowed when I told them to relax; it was going to be fun. Tim 577

A couple of guys did approach me to say welcome, asking if I played sports. When I said I was a bowler, it just confused them. My scrawny musculature discouraged everybody. Some of the golfers asked me to go out for their team. Golf seemed about as silly as bowling. I agreed to go out, since it didn’t start until after winter when the snow was gone. Once I had my class schedule, the twins insisted they walk me to each class. My hayseed persona didn’t elicit confidence about finding my own way.

English confirmed my choice of country culture, as we were studying Laura Ingalls Wilder’s ‘Little House on the Prairie.’ My English teacher, Mrs. McCarthy, called on me.
“Tim, what do you think about ‘Little House?’’
“I go by Andy, Mrs. McCarthy. Since it’s on television, why don’t we put on an episode as a class performance? We did that last year in Junior English.”
Amy giggled at my lack of accent. Mrs McCarthy frowned at her before returning to me, “What plays did you do in Miami, Andy?” she asked.
“We did Shakespeare, ma’am.”
“That was ambitious,” she noted.
“Oh, we just made it fun.”
“What role did you play?”
“I was just a minstrel. We tried to be authentic by having an all-male cast and all-girl stage crew.”
“How’d that work?”
“The girls taught the boys  how to act girly .”

Tim 105
People laughed.
“How did the parents like it?”
“They said the girls had become too uppity.”
Now everyone was laughing.
“Anyone else like to do a ‘Little House’ performance?”
Lots of hands shot up.
“I’ll see about getting a script,” Mrs. McCarthy was pleased to have an excited class. “In the meanwhile, please go ahead and read Chapter Five. Ask yourselves what it would be like to live in the wilderness.”

My other classes went well, especially since I didn’t have to discuss the curriculum with my teachers again. After each class, I made sure the teachers called me Andy. I had made the transition. After the last bell rang, I met the girls in the music room.
“More guitar lessons, ladies?” I winked at Jace who already had Amy in his clutches, guiding her fingering and fret work on an electric Fender Stratocaster. It must be a band instrument. Amy rocked-on to the chorus of Barefoot Boy while I chased Angela around the room doing the monkey moves. We stumbled over a piccolo band boy hiding behind the amps. Angela tripped on him as I dived on top while scratching myself. Amy stopped playing and rescued the band boy, who instantly ran away.
“Who knew band could be so fun,” I mocked Angela until she finally started laughing and couldn’t stop.
“It’s not funny anymore,” Amy complained. “He was just trying to practice.”
We attacked Amy by tickling her until she peed her pants.
“Oh, you’ll be late for choir,” as I pointed at her obvious embarrassment.
She slapped me just before Mrs. Hull slammed the band room door. I felt so abused. We were all huddling in the corner behind the amps.
“Just practicing,” I explained after standing up.
“Practicing at what,” she demanded.
I grabbed the Strat, ripping the opening to the monkey song, as the girls sang about the Barefoot Boy. I threw the Strat to Amy after shouting ‘a monkey like me.’ The girls sang and played the chorus while I ran around the room, finally stopping in front of Mrs. Hull. She was immune to my jungle love. It made it all the funnier when the girls ran over and joined me making monkey moves on the poor band teacher.
“Whatcha think, for Friday night? We’ll git them college kids a’dancin’, Mrs. Hull.”
She tried to look so stern, until I winked at her. She joined us, laughing our asses off. Jace was flying about, loving it. Max followed him around sniffing for pot, like he had forgotten what it was for. Can’t get much higher as a ghost than floating around like a pinata. Tim 364

My regular classes were not as fun as was band room after last bell. English was okay if you liked ‘Little House on the Prairie.’ In order to get out of playing the role of some hayseed kid, I suggested I play background music on guitar, as I had done with Shakespeare.
“Why don’tcha play a girl’s role like ya did in Miami?” a wise acre pushed back
“And be yer girl friend, too?” I shot back.
“Settle down, boys. There’s plenty of girls wanting those roles,” the teacher, Mrs. McCarthy, cut us off.
After class, I went up to the big mouth. “Sorry ta disappoint ya ‘bout the play.”
I was ready to take him down in front of his friends.
“Jist kiddin’ ya, ta see what you’d say. My name’s Brock, Andy.” He stuck out his hand.
Even the bullies were nice at Aimless.
“Glad not ta be yer girlfriend. The last time was pretty rough on me.”
He wasn’t sure how to take my comment. “Yer a feisty one, ain’t ya,” he decided.Tim 538
The girls watched as Brock took me under his wing. I went off to lunch with his group.
“Com’n, sisters. Here’s yer chance ta hang with the big boys,” I cajoled.
They ran along and sat with a group of all guys in the lunchroom. The boys were tongue-tied and thunder-struck.
“Ya didn’t know that the twins had a brother? We’re the Triplets.” I informed everyone. “Even they didn’t know until last week when I showed up.”
The gossip mill started its slow grind, digesting this news.
“I heard ya was gonna start a bowlin’ team.”
“Naw. It’s more of a fashion look.”
“Ya do look purdy scrawny ta be a jock,” Brock observed.
“That’s why ya thought ya could take me in the hall?”
“I wasn’t worrin’ ‘bout it.”
“How’s ‘bout we throw down right here,” I challenged him, “in arm-wrestlin’?”
“Yer on,” he took up my challenge.Tim 381

The whole lunch room was clamoring to watch the contest. We clasped hands. I made us both hold our elbows to keep from cheating on leverage. Brock was pretty buff and had me by 30-40 pounds. He made the first move, figuring to end it quickly. I slowly gave ground as he pulled me toward the lunchroom table. I tested his strength by pulling him toward me, then letting him continue to push my arm closer to the table. At about 45 degrees, I firmed up my grip and wouldn’t allow him to go further. We both strained as I held off his imminent victory. The muscles and tendons of my arm were stretched to the limit. I hung on and wouldn’t let him win. He changed strategy and let me come back to the vertical start point. I anticipated his counterattack but was pushed closer to the table. The more he strained, the more determined he became. I looked up and flash-backed that he had become ‘Gatorsaurus. It made me laugh which Brock took as an insult. He roared (just like a ‘gator) and pushed me down. I hated losing but stuck out my trembling hand and shook his equally trembling one.
“Ya got grit, boy,” he admitted.
“Ya still got me in the end.”
“What was ya laughin’ at?”
I told him, with everyone listening, the legend of ‘Gatorsaurus, I explained how Tom & Huck camped out in the Everglades, throwing in Tommy’s exaggerations for effect. Those boys had never  seen alligators. One that was 24 foot long was believable. Brock was called ‘Gator for the rest of senior year. We went off to class with his arm around my shoulder. Tim 254 Amy and Angela had enough testosterone to last awhile. They left me to the jocks.

Brock seemed excessively taken with me, which set me on edge.
“Maybe I’ll join the bowling team after football’s over,” he suggested. His posse all nodded that they were ready to follow him anywhere.
“Does Aims High even have a bowling team?” I worried that my joke was biting me on the ass.
“Naw. But you and me, we can start one,” he seemed eager to please.
“Ya best stay a jock, Brock. Bowling’s fer nerds.”
“Ya don’ts wants me on the team,” he looked more hurt than concerned.
“Does I look like a nerd?”
“Maybe,” as he started to consider the consequences of threatening his jock social status.
“Well, maybe its jist a joke,” I admitted.
“That’s a relief. I’s terrible at bowlin’.”
“I’s in a band, though, with my sisters.”
“Cool. Kin we see y’all play?”
“Downtown Coffee Shop, Friday night.”
“Man. We play Iowa City that night. Ya don’ts wanna watch the game,” he seemed surprised and a bit hurt.
“Wouldn’t wanna miss it. We kin play after. Jist don’t come ‘less you’ve showered.”
“It’s the College crowd. They hates us.”
“Better win the game then. Nothin’ like bein’ a winner ta feel invincible.”
“Ya always use them big words?”
Invincible? I guess it did have four syllables. Should I tone down my vocabulary?
“Well, yer a big guy.”
His posse broke up at our back and forth.

After classes were over, I met the twins in the band room.
“Them boys overwhelm ya?” I asked.
“Anything to do with football overwhelms us,” Angela responded.
“Well, they ain’t choir boys. Brock wants ta join the bowlin’ team.”
They just laughed.
“You makin’ fun of them boys?” Amy wanted to know.
“They’s my new best boy friends.”
“Don’t tell them that.”
“I did tell them about the band. Now we’s got ta go to the football game on Friday night so’s they kin go to our show downtown.”
“Oh, gawd. Can’t we just play to the college crowd?” Angela complained.
“Ew. Maybe the monkey song will git outta control. Wanna do something more mature?”
“More mature than jumpin’ around like pre-schoolers?”
“The moms will approve.”
“Your old band just did kid’s songs.”
“Hows ‘bout the Velvet Underground?”
“Their songs are all about drugs.” Angela was a doomsayer.
“Walk on the Wild Side” is about transvestites.”
“Trans what?” Amy asked.
I picked up the electric guitar and started singing.

“Holly came from Miami, F.L.A.
Hitch-hiked her way across the U.S.A.
Plucked her eyebrows on the way
Shaved her legs and then he was a she
She says, ‘Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side’
He said, ‘Hey honey, take a walk on the wild side’”


Published by

The girls just stared at me, mouths agape.
“You mean ‘he was a she’ like boys becoming girls?” Angela seemed shocked.
“Transvestite means a cross-dresser.”
“This song’s about you hitch-hiking from Miami?” Amy concluded. “We thought you took the bus.”
“Jist from Alabama. I hitched to there. But it’s not about me.”
“I doubt we’d get moms seal of approval,” Angela asserted.
“That proves its mature enough.”
“We ain’t doing songs ‘bout boys being girls.”
“We could do the Kinks’ ‘Lola’:

“Girls will be boys and boys will be girls
It’s a mixed up muddled up shook up world except for lola
Lo-lo-lo-lo lola
Well i left home just a week before
And i’d never ever kissed a woman before
But lola smiled and took me by the hand
And said dear boy i’m gonna make you a man
Well i’m not the world’s most masculine man
But i know what i am and i’m glad i’m a man”

© Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

“I know you like the Kinks. We can do it like a duet. I’ll be the wimpy guy and you can do the Lola part together.”
Amy looked at Angela, then sat down hard. “Why can’t we be normal, for once?”
Angela sat with her and gave her a hug. And looked at me and winked.
“It’s just a song,” I tried to encourage her, giving up my hayseed accent. “It’s funny, not sad.”
“It just reminds me that we’re not normal,” she retorted.
“Is that what you really want, to be normal.”
“Never happen, not with two moms,” Angela asserted.
“I hate to break it to you, but no one’s normal, no matter how hard they try.”
“You’re wrong,” Amy cried. “Everyone in Ames Iowa is normal. They don’t have to try. They look at us as freaks.”
We sat there in a group hug. Of course, I started to cry. The girls were shocked. Normal boys didn’t cry. They hugged me harder.
“What’s wrong? We’re just complaining. Don’t cry,” Amy scooted closer.
I had expected Jace to punch me to stop the tears. I looked for him in vain. As the girls started to make me feel better, he appeared and mocked me for begging for attention. He signed I didn’t need him. It made me laugh, which relieved the girls.
“Hey, we’re the ones who have to put up with it all. You just got here,” Angela complained. “Why does making you feel better make us feel better, too?”
“’Cause we’re triplets. One for all, all for one.”
‘”Yay, Triplets.”
“Time to write our own song – The Triplets theme,” I felt inspired. I picked up the guitar and strummed the E chord. Tim 412

“They say we’re not normal
Our lives are too strange
Maybe we should be Mormon
Wouldn’t that be a pain.

We got two moms
We don’t need dads
Our lives are songs
So we won’t be sad

We grew up with each other
That’s just what twins do
Then along comes our brother
Now we’re triplets too

Normal’s not gonna happen
That may be good for you
We’re more than just friends
Triples better than two

We got two moms
We don’t need dads
Our lives are songs
So we won’t be sad”

We each said what we thought. It seemed like we were totally in synch. The smiles on the girls’ faces assured me that the song was true. No more tears. Tim 352