A Prairie Christmas Chapter 5


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

“Oh, Tim,” she sobs, remembering not to call me Timmy.
I faint.

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


Jace is hovering with me, looking concerned.
“This is a first,” he notes.
Max barks, which brings mom over to check on me, placing a damp cloth on my forehead.
“I cain’t feel nothin.’” I complain.
“It’s just a dream,” Jace explains.

I woke up. Mom is sitting next to me on the porch divan. I sit up quickly, preparing to stand up.
“Whoa, cowboy,” I remember that expression from when I was a little kid. “Just sit still and get your bearings. Your eyes are twirling like pinwheels.”
I lean back and relax. Mom comes into focus.
“Sorry ‘bout that, Mom,” I try 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’m back floating above my body with Jace. Mom is barely moving, so slowly she appears frozen.
“Whoa. Is that how you normally see me,” I ask Jace.
“It’s just flex-time,” Jace states without an explanation. “Let’s not wait around for her and the iced tea.”
I follow him as we investigate Mom’s big house. The first floor has four large rooms and a full bathroom. The other two floors are the same. There are stairs down to the cellar. I wasn’t up to exploring down there.
Jace seems 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 am shocked. It seems plausible.
“The Guardian says well be absorbed together when we were both dead. I ain’t missin’ that.”
“Fer shure.”
We’re laughing together. I woke up again.
Mom clutches me as I sit 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 take my vitals, noting I’m severely underweight and dehydrated. A saline drip is put in my arm. They lift me onto a stretcher and carry me out. I enjoy the groin satisfaction similar to giving in to Jack’s macho moves.

I wake up. It’s three days later. I’m strapped to my bed. The nurse notes I’m awake and cognizant. She undoes the binds keeping me from thrashing. I sit up. The dull headache I’ve been ignoring while traveling is gone. As she checks my vitals, we had a nice conversation.

They decide my body was fully functional, but I’m sick in the head . The shrink diagnoses multiple personality disorder. I am (or I should say we are) 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 figure I can let Max be in charge when I met the therapist. I remember how useless the therapist was at The Program.

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

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

They made a welcome cake. Suddenly I’m famished. The doctor had told me to gain weight. We make quick work of the cake. I like girls who aren’t afraid to eat. I don’t say anything about the twins being in my dream. I’m not ready to seem weird yet.
I  wear an outfit Mom has bought at JC Penney. It isn’t exactly ‘Out & About.’
I look 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 started paying support, which really helps.”
I quickly check the girls. I know they want to go shopping for me. I’m a swimmer. I love dress-up. Mom hands me a credit card – teenage nirvana.

Soon we’re skipping out the door and down the porch steps. I grab each girl’s hand, remembering Halloween with Lydia, hand in hand as Raggedy Ann and Andy Tim 346 They giggle. We all feel like ten-year-olds.
“So, what’s your style – jock, soc, or, (giggle) nerd?” Angela asks. She seems the more practical one.
I avoid saying rocker and suggest, “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’re in their car, but instead of going shopping, we sit there and talk about our blended family. Mom and Molly got together right after she moved to Ames. They only made it official at the beginning of the school year.
“It’s weird telling people you have two moms,” Angela says.
“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 wants 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 laugh.
“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 agree.

“So, yer inta bowlin’? I knows jist the place,” Angela switches the discussion back to shopping. She drives to the downtown shopping area, parking at Goodwill.
“Not so proud to wear second-hand?” she challenges me. I remember 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 keeps us crazy. We peruse the polyester/bowling-wear and model looks we hope didn’t look too homeless. The girls come right into the dressing booths with me. Good thing Mom 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 won’t take Mom’s credit card. The girls front me, as I promise to be their style model. They can claim credit for my edgy look, as well as  accessorizing me as they saw fit each morning. Tim 37 What the hell? They rescued me in my dream.

We have been shopping all afternoon, arriving home in time for dinner. The girls rush me upstairs, dressing me for the meal. They want to apply makeup. I hold the line;  it’s clothes that make the man, not the mascara. We bounce down the stairs just as the moms look up from the dinner table. I’m wearing my Sunday best bowling shirt, with Tony’s Auto on the back and ten-pins on the front. They spiked up my hair, which makes the look edgy. At least, it takes away from the hopelessness of used clothing.

The moms look 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 giggles.
“It’s called Goodwill,” Amy bursts out.
The moms look shocked. Mission accomplished.

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

Susan picks 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 laughs. “When can you come home. I mean back to Miami.”
“I’ve only been here one day, but they made 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 feel so badly about Max.” Tim 316
“I do too, Tim. Thank you for putting that dog in our lives.”
“Yup,” I gulp.
“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 is 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’m 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 need to speak with someone my age. I call Hippie.
“Hello, who’s calling, please?” a girl answers.
“Is that you, Anna? It’s Tim, from Gregory’s old band.”
“Oh, my gosh. Teen Jesus?” she’s 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 people 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 tells me how frustrating it was to not have anyone to play music with. We get off the line. I feel how much I miss him. The other guys not so much, after how badly they acted at his wedding. They’re 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 isn’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 our dog.”
“What is this all about, Tim. I was told you were in trouble with drugs.”
I tell 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 go up to my room on the second floor. The girls have the entire third floor for themselves. I have my eye on an empty room up there that had a dormer window which seems perfect for looking out and daydreaming, tim-447 laying there with Jace in my arms. Once I think of him, his ghost pops into view. I’m stunned. All day I ignored him.
“How’s your new life?” he signs 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 can shake up their Menorah.”
I laugh.
“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 we share.”
I’m thunderstruck by all the work it takes 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 giggle.
“You want to visit Jack?” My eyes pop open. “You’ll 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 scares me silly. It feels too much like traveling with the Guardian. We were in Jack’s dreams. He has already attacked Casper; Casper that’s who he loves. He look over and sees me watching them. I can tell they have been going at it for a while. Flex time distortion.
“Tim! You’re in my dream.” Tim 290 I say nothing. I know if he becomes too aware that he is dreaming, he’ll wake up and end the encounter.
I move to embrace them both. Jack soon notices that I ‘m not hard. It’s too much for him. He wakes up. I’m instantly alone back in Iowa. Jace comes 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’s a good sign that I’m looking forward to a wet dream. Jace agrees.

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

No bowling shirt for school. My hair is spiked and I’m wearing wrist bracelets. I stop them from painting my nails. The moms just shake their heads in dismay. I feel like a Ken doll. Remembering the Out & Proud girls dressing up their little boyfriends, I’m now a 12-year-old. I’m also not about to have my sisters be my girlfriends. Well, not yet.

School registration goes quickly. Jay has sent my transcripts. All my Gables’ teachers from last Spring passed me. Mr. Clark even gave me an A. I’ll bet he convinced the others to not give me incompletes.
Well, how ‘bouts ya show me ‘round school?” I ask the girls.
“Our pleasure,” they both answer. ames_high_school_front_c_s
Jace s hovering above them He just shakes his head about whether their hearts are open to him. I let the girls (my sisters!) show me around. I’m not sorry that Ames High doesn’t have a swim team – no pool.
“Mom doesn’t know about all the changes in my life since she left,” I explain to Amy and Angela.
Amy is 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 challenges me, “How about you play us a song or two. The band room is open this period.”

I think she’s testing the truth of my bragging. Tim 234
We walk to the practice room. There were some other kids who were practicing their orchestra instruments. I find an acoustic guitar and play 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 claps and Angela is 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 can tell they’re impressed. Amy actually hugs me, at which I turn bright red.
Angela admits, “I guess you got real talent. How can you write about adults things like that when you’re just a teenager?”
“Ya never bin in love?” I ask them both.
“You mean have boyfriends?” Angela asks back.
“More’n that. Real crazy, mad love. Can’t live without yer boyfriend.”
They both shake their heads.
“We’re the same age, right? Seventeen?”
“Yup,” they agree.
“An’ y’all seen how love messes up yer friends.”
“So why put yerselves through all that?”
“Sex?” they giggle.
It’s my turn to blush, which seems to excite both of them. I’m Mr. Vulnerable.
“So what comes first, sex or love?” I ask.
“Love,” they both agree.
“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 after ya does.”
They both are 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 feel like we’s really connected? 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 enthuses.
Angela is still holding back. Am I going to play the Teen Jesus card? That seems 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 have nothing to say, but their mouths are 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 is won over. Amy grins at her acceptance of me.
Not quite time for the group hug.
“Long lost triplets then?” I hardly know their mom, but the groundwork is laid. I can’t help plotting my life three moves ahead.
“Wanna play a song? How’s it feel to get a brother ya don’ts even know?”
They’re speechless, so I picked up the guitar and play ‘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 sing along during the chorus. Country music is my passport to Iowa. They start asking me to play their favorites, amazed that I can play any song, as long as I’ve heard it before.
“We have a song for you,” Amy announce and they sang the Eagles’ ‘New Kid in Town;’ I come 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 complains.
“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 ask.
“His name’s Jace an’ he’s forever in my heart,” as I hand 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 looks at me accusingly,
“Ya gots ta trust yer heart ta lets ‘im in,” I instruct her. “I kin feel yer doubtin,’ but let Amy sit with ya. She kin help ya let Jace into yer heart.”
Amy moves over so they’re sitting side-by-side, as I give her the guitar. Amy shows her how to form the first chord. Once Angela starts strumming, Jace takes over. Angela makes all the chords changes as directed. A big smile comes over her as she plays 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 reach out to hug me. Jace and I both hug them, just like in my dream.
“I can feel him, as well as you, Tim.” Amy exclaims.
“Me, too,” Angela murmurs, not quite as trusting as Amy.
“I’s so lucky ta have sisters,” I gush. Tim 33
The music teacher comes over to say that the practice room is closing, as final bell has rung. We’re so surprised that the whole day went by so quickly.
“This is Tim, our new brother from Florida, Miss Hull,” Amy introduces me. “He just taught us how to play guitar.”
“Nice ta meet ya, ma’am,” I try 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 beams, picking out the opening chords  with confident strumming, to ‘New Kid’ (with an assist from Jace).

All three of us sing 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 worries, “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 rush back to the Hyland Ave house.  My sisters have a decent stereo in their room, so we look for songs we can do on Friday night.
“Have ya performed before,” I politely ask.
“Just Church, in the choir.”
“Oh, Choir Girls?” I josh. “How nice. You won’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 giggles, but Angela looks skeptical.
“What if I say I had already met you both, in a dream?” Tim 71
Their mouths drop and they let out a little “eek.”
“Ya know I took the bus here, right?”
They nod.
“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 is staring at Angela who looks pained, tryin’ ta decide whether to believe me or not. She nods to Amy. Then both of them hug me again.
It is nice, sitting on their bedroom floor hugging. Finally, we sit up and start looking through their record collection for songs we can do. I find 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’

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


We jump up doing the monkey dance before the song is over.

“We gots ta do that song for Friday,” I exclaim, as we keep jumping around after the song is long over.
I grab an acoustic guitar and start 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 play the chorus over and over, then give Amy the guitar and watch Jace teach her the chords changes while I keep singing the chorus to set the beat. Amy sings the verses, then hands the guitar to Angela and jumps out to jungle dance with me. Jace keeps Angela repeating the chorus until she gets it down. Then it’s the three of us singing as we dance. I look over at the stairs and see the moms staring at us. I instantly collapse to the floor, followed by the twins. Staring straight up at the ceiling, I announce, “How’s we gonna have sex if y’all keep watchin’ us.”
“Busted,” Amy responds.
The moms come up the rest of the stairs, blithering and blathering that they aren’t spying on us.
Angela rescues 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 pick up the acoustic guitar. I sing the Ray Davies verses, Then the girls come in on the chorus and Amy sings 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 go right into Barefoot Boy on guitar while Amy sings the verses. I hand her the guitar and sing as she takes over the guitar playing:

“Free to be
A monkey like me”

I step out doing the monkey moves, Tim 106 as the girls sing the chorus:

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

Amy hands the guitar to Angela who keeps repeating the chorus while Amy joins me jungle dancing. She’s surprisingly good at it, for a choir girl.

“If’n that don’t gits ‘em dancing I don’t knows wot will. Y’all shure ya learnt to sing in Church Choir?” I ask the twins.
The moms are speechless, which was the whole point.
Finally Molly speaks 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 asserts.
“That’s perfect. Dancing banned by Moms.”
“Timothy Castle, you get over here,” says my irate Mom.
Suddenly I was floating with Jace as Max enters my body.
“Watch how Max handles your mom,” Jace suggests.
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 sniffs and leans my body into a hug from Mom.
“My goodness, I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings,” as she hugs me.
Angela comes 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 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 stand up and sing a Capella to Angela, ‘Do you love me.”

‘You broke my heart
‘Cause I couldn’t dance
You didn’t even want me around
And now I’m back, to let you know
I can really shake ’em down’

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

“Whatcha think?” I ask as we stop dancing and start laugh.
“No jungle dancing,” the moms command.
“We cain’t help it,” we all plead.
“But, you’re our babies,” they cry.
“Not anymore,” I demand, grabbing the acoustic and banging out the opening leads to Sabbath’s ‘Paranoid,’ Tim 232

until all the strings are broken. Falling over onto pillows, I see, in the corner of my eye, all four females looking strangely at me, as I perform. I lay there for 5 seconds, opened one eye and wink at them.Tim 190
They explode. A giant pillow fight breaks out – everyone against me – a feminist slaughter frenzy.
“Stop.” I yell, the non-feminist. They stop and listen. “We gots ta name the band.”
“It’s more like a trio,” Amy responds.
“Okay, the Triplets then.” Angela is always right.
“The Triplets – Amy, Angela & Andy,” I pronounce.
“Andy?” Mom questions.
“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’ve felt 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’s one big family hug. Max barked, startling the girls.
“There’s hopes fer ya yet.” I pronounce.

Another morning and another bang on my door to get up and be dressed for school. The girls tone down my look with flat hair and no makeup – just me, the bowling jock. We arrive early at Ames High (shoots low) so they can parade me around to all their friends. I’m definitely in with the girls, which makes me more or less a target with the guys. Somehow the rumor starts that I’m their long-lost brother and that the three of us are 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 is nixed as the girls are nervous enough about playing before strangers, let alone to critical friends. A hug from Jace reassures them that it will go well. They glow when I told them to relax; it’s going to be fun. Tim 577

A couple of guys d approach me to say welcome, asking if I play sports. When I said I’m a bowler, it confuses them. My scrawny musculature discourages everybody. Some of the golfers ask me to go out for their team. Golf seems about as silly as bowling. I agree to go out, since it doesn’t start until after winter when the snow is gone. Once I have my class schedule, the twins insist they walk me to each class. My hayseed persona doesn’t elicit confidence about finding my own way.

English confirms my choice of country culture, as we’re studying Laura Ingalls Wilder’s ‘Little House on the Prairie.’ My English teacher, Mrs. McCarthy, call 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 giggles at my lack of accent. Mrs McCarthy frowns at her before returning to me, “What plays did you do in Miami, Andy?” she asks.
“We did Shakespeare, ma’am.”
“That was ambitious,” she notes.
“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 laugh.
“How did the parents like it?”
“They said the girls had become too uppity.”
Now everyone is laughing.
“Anyone else like to do a ‘Little House’ performance?”
Lots of hands shoot up.
“I’ll see about getting a script,” Mrs. McCarthy is 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 go well, especially since I don’t have to discuss the curriculum with my teachers again. After each class, I make sure the teachers call me Andy. I have made the transition. After the last bell rings, I meet the girls in the music room.
“More guitar lessons, ladies?” I wink at Jace who already has Amy in his clutches, guiding her fingering and fret work on an electric Fender Stratocaster. It must be a band instrument. Amy rocks-on to the chorus of Barefoot Boy while I chase Angela around the room doing the monkey moves. We stumble over a piccolo band boy hiding behind the amps. Angela trips on him as I dive on top while scratching myself. Amy stops playing and rescues the band boy, who instantly runs away.
“Who knew band could be so fun,” I mock Angela until she finally starts laughing and can’t stop.
“It’s not funny anymore,” Amy complains. “He was just trying to practice.”
We attacked Amy by tickling her until she pees her pants.
“Oh, you’ll be late for choir,” as I point at her obvious embarrassment.
She slaps me just before Mrs. Hull slams the band room door. I feel so abused. We’re all hiding in the corner behind the amps.
“Just practicing,” I explain after standing up.
“Practicing at what,” she demands.
I grabbed the Strat, ripping the opening to the monkey song, as the girls sing about the Barefoot Boy. I throw the Strat to Amy after shouting ‘a monkey like me.’ The girls sing and play the chorus while I ran around the room, finally stopping in front of Mrs. Hull. She is immune to my jungle love. It makes it all the funnier when the girls run over and join 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 tries to look so stern, until I wink at her. She joins us, laughing our asses off. Jace is flying about, loving it. Max follows 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 are not as fun as is band room after last bell. English is okay if you like ‘Little House on the Prairie.’ In order to get out of playing the role of some hayseed kid, I suggest playing 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 pushes back
“And be yer girl friend, too?” I shoot back.
“Settle down, boys. There’s plenty of girls wanting those roles,” the teacher, Mrs. McCarthy, cuts us off.
After class, I go up to the big mouth. “Sorry ta disappoint ya ‘bout the play.”
I’m 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 sticks out his hand.
Even the bullies are nice at Aimless.
“Glad not ta be yer girlfriend. The last time was pretty rough on me.”
He isn’t sure how to take that comment. “Yer a feisty one, ain’t ya,” he decides.Tim 538
The girls watch as Brock takes me under his wing. I go off to lunch with his group.
“Com’n, sisters. Here’s yer chance ta hang with the big boys,” I cajole.
They run along and sit with a group of all guys in the lunchroom. The boys are tongue-tied and thunder-struck.
“Ya didn’t know that the twins had a brother? We’re the Triplets.” I inform everyone. “Even they didn’t know until last week when I showed up.”
The gossip mill starts 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 observes.
“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 challenge him, “in arm-wrestlin’?”
“Yer on,” he takes up my challenge.Tim 381

The whole lunch room is clamoring to watch our contest. We clasp hands. I make us both hold our elbows to keep from cheating on leverage. Brock is pretty buff and has me by 30-40 pounds. He makes the first move, figuring to end it quickly. I slowly give ground as he pulls me toward the lunchroom table. I test his strength by pulling him toward me, then letting him continue to push my arm closer to the table. At about 45 degrees, I firm up my grip and won’t allow him to go further. We both strain as I hold off his imminent victory. The muscles and tendons of my arm are stretched to the limit. I hang on and won’t let him win. He changes strategy and lets me come back to the vertical starting point. I anticipate his counterattack but am pushed closer to the table. The more he strains, the more determined he becomes. I look up and flash-backed that he has become ‘Gatorsaurus. It makes me laugh which Brock takes as an insult. He roars (just like a ‘gator) and pushes me down. I hate losing but stick out my trembling hand and shake his equally trembling one.
“Ya got grit, boy,” he admits.
“Ya still got me in the end.”
“What was ya laughin’ at?”
I tell him, with everyone listening, the legend of ‘Gatorsaurus, I explain how Tom & Huck camped out in the Everglades, throwing in Tommy’s exaggerations for effect. Those boys have never  seen alligators. One that was 24 feet long is believable. Brock is called ‘Gator for the rest of senior year. We gooff to class with his arm around my shoulder. Tim 254 Amy and Angela have had enough testosterone to last awhile. They leave me to the jocks.

Brock seems excessively taken with me, which sets me on edge.
“Maybe I’ll join the bowling team after football’s over,” he suggests. His posse all nod that they’re ready to follow him anywhere.
“Does Aims High even have a bowling team?” I worry that my joke is biting me on the ass.
“Naw. But you and me, we can start one,” he seems eager to please.
“Ya best stay a jock, Brock. Bowling’s fer nerds.”
“Ya don’ts wants me on the team,” he looks more hurt than concerned.
“Does I look like a nerd?”
“Maybe,” as he starts to consider the consequences of threatening his jock social status.
“Well, maybe its jist a joke,” I admit.
“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 seems 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 breaks up at our back and forth.

After classes are over, I met the twins in the band room.
“Them boys overwhelm ya?” I ask.
“Anything to do with football overwhelms us,” Angela responds.
“Well, they ain’t choir boys. Brock wants ta join the bowlin’ team.”
They just laugh.
“You makin’ fun of them boys?” Amy wants 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 complains.
“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 do kid’s songs.”
“Hows ‘bout the Velvet Underground?”
“Their songs are all about drugs.” Angela is a doomsayer.
“Walk on the Wild Side” is about transvestites.”
“Trans what?” Amy asks.
I pick 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’”


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The girls just stare at me, mouths agape.
“You mean ‘he was a she’ like boys becoming girls?” Angela seem shocked.
“Transvestite means a cross-dresser.”
“This song’s about you hitch-hiking from Miami?” Amy concludes. “We thought you took the bus.”
“Jist from Alabama. I hitched to there. But it’s not about me.”
“I doubt we’ll get moms seal of approval,” Angela asserts.
“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 looks at Angela, then sits down hard. “Why can’t we be normal, for once?”
Angela sits with her and gives her a hug. And looks at me and winks.
“It’s just a song,” I try to encourage her, giving up my hayseed accent. “It’s funny, not sad.”
“It just reminds me that we’re not normal,” she retorts.
“Is that what you really want, to be normal.”
“Never happen, not with two moms,” Angela asserts.
“I hate to break it to you, but no one’s normal, no matter how hard they try.”
“You’re wrong,” Amy cries. “Everyone in Ames Iowa is normal. They don’t have to try. They look at us as freaks.”
We sit there in a group hug. Of course, I start to cry. The girls are shocked. Normal boys didn’t cry. They hug me harder.
“What’s wrong? We’re just complaining. Don’t cry,” Amy scoots closer.
I expect Jace to punch me to stop the tears. I look for him in vain. As the girls start to make me feel better, he appears and mocks me for begging for attention. He signs I don’t need him. It makes me laugh, which relieved the girls.
“Hey, we’re the ones who have had to put up with it all. You just got here,” Angela complains. “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 feel inspired. I pick up the guitar and strummed the E chord. Tim 412

“They say we’re not normal
Our lives are too strange
Maybe we can be Mormon
Won’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 happenin’
May be good for you
We’ll keep on truckin’
Triplets better than two

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

We each say what we think. It seems like we were totally in synch. The smiles on the girls’ faces assure me that the song is true. No more tears. Tim 352