A Prairie Christmas Chapter 7 Part 2

Sunday is bright and sunny, with the autumn colors in full season. The three of us come down for breakfast, all in white. Tim 305 Mom looks chagrined that she had not dressed up for church.
“It’s not like Catholic Church, Mom. Baptists go all out for services.”
“When did you get so knowledgeable about religion?” she asks.
“I guess you didn’t hear about Teen Jesus,” I laugh.
“What?” they all exclaim.
“Jesus was once a teenager, Himself.”
“And what part of being perfect and without sin does being a teenager play in that story?” she asks.
“Most people don’t think it’s a story,” I challenge her.
Molly laughs. “Never a dull moment with Andy Muller-Castle.”
I guess I have a completely new name.
Mom makes my favorite blueberry pancakes. We all pig out, memories of yesterday’s pizza long faded away. Baptists don’t  worry about getting the Eucharist on an empty stomach. I wonder what type of human craziness would express itself at this church.

We walk into services as a group. Three teenagers all in white, draw admiring glances. The girls take me to the choir leader, Mr Key, introducing me as their new step-brother. They say I am a gifted singer.
“That’s quite a compliment, coming from you two. Come to our rehearsal on Wednesday night to try out.”
“We hope all three of us could do ‘Amazing Grace’ this morning,” Angela surprises me as she was generally the reticent one.

“Well, let’s try a verse right here, just to make sure you don’t embarrass yourselves.”
We look at each other and nod. I hummed a D. We sing the first verse. Having never practiced it, I am stunned that it sounds so pure.

‘Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.’

“Goodness,” he exclaims. “I see we’re in for a treat today. Go sit with your parents, Andy. I’ll call you up with a nod after the morning prayer.”
I walk back to the pew and sit with the moms. I have a big grin on. I love to perform. What a geek.
Mom asks why I am so happy.
“The girls and I get to sing together.” Only then do I notice Jace sitting next to me. He signs ‘what a good little Baptist you’ve become.’
I sign back, ‘Hippie will be so proud.’
‘Your new best friend?’ he asks.
“You’re my best friend.’
‘Your best dead friend.’
‘Forever.’
A tear rolls down my cheek. Mom notices and grabs my hand. “You okay?”
“Just Teen Jesus,” I whisper back. I instantly regret my habit of keeping her off-kilter and clueless.

The service begins with announcements. The pastor mentions my name as Andy Muller-Castle, a new member who would be singing with my sisters later. The Baptists do go on. The hymns are refreshing with lots of arm and hand waving. Tim 373 They believe God can see them. They expect Him to take note. Jace accompanies me when I go to join the twins standing by the mic in front of the choir. The golden glow that Jace imbues any group of believers spreads over the entire choir. When the three of us sing, there is pleasant stillness in the church. Our voices blend perfectly. My lower key allows the girls a base from which to ascend the higher octaves, which they do separately, then together. We are quite good, smug me believes. When I get back to the pew, I see that both moms have been crying. I bend over and kiss each on the cheek.  There’s a sigh heard throughout the church. We are a shameless hit.Tim 448After the service is over, we stand outside on the steps.  Kids and teens are not shy at this church, coming over to welcome meTim 219, while the older ones smile a bit too much at the girls. Many adults compliment the moms. Only a few say the coded words, “we are praying for you.” I know from Hippie’s moms Marge and Meg what that means. How condescending. My performance junkie gene makes me remark, “We’re praying for understanding.” The haters look shocked, as if I am talking back to them. They quickly leave. Mr. Key reminds me that choir rehearsal is on Wednesday night.
“I wouldn’t miss it for this world or the next.” Even I’m shocked at myself. Mom grabs my arm. We all leave for Sunday dinner. At least I don’t have to eat my words. Yet.

At the restaurant, we’re seated at a table for six. As the hostess starts to take away the extra setting, I ask her to leave it, “for my friend, Jace.”
“Is he coming later?” she asks.
“He’ll be here.”
“I’ll be sure to look for him.”
“Good luck with that.”
Jace is in hysterics. It has been building since our antics on the church steps. Tim 95
“You say your friend is coming?” Molly asks.
“I thought having a place set for him would make him feel welcome.”
“That’s very zen,” Molly notes.
She seems to get me.

“Excuse me, Molly, could you tell me what you do for work, if that’s not too nosy of me?”
“Right. I teach psychology at State. My zen comment is meant to reflect Buddhism’s reverence towards the old and deceased.”
“Jace is definitely deceased,” I admit. “I just want his place recognized in my life.”
“That means he’s in our lives, too, Andy. What affects you, affects all of us.”
I bite my lip to hold back the crying jag I feel bubbling up. Tim 501 Amy and Angela instantly feel my distress and move over to hug me. The tears burst, though it feels okay. I am quickly over the crying . The girls remain distressed from their own empathy.
Mom gives her own spin on my outburst. “Oh, Timmy, don’t you think you may have bitten off more than you can handle. A new school and friends, a fight band for the football team, now joining the choir, and looking for a job, as well as playing music with the girls. And. also, this bowling team? You’ve only been home for a week.”
“We’re teenagers, Mom. If I’m not busy, I get into trouble. And, please call me Andy.” Again I see how I push her away. I give her a big hug for trying to protect me from myself.

Our meals arrive and conversation tapers off as we dig in. Midwestern meals are super-sized. While we wait for dessert, Molly resumes the topic of conversation, my weird personality.
“The doctor at the hospital recommended counseling when you were discharged. I know a colleague who may be perfect for your split personalities. Want me to make an appointment?”
“Is she as zen-like as you?”
“Actually, he’s Japanese. I’m guessing he’ll ‘get’ you.”
“Make an appointment. The truth is, this family is helping me stay grounded. It may be all I need.”
“It makes sense to get you all the help you can.”
“Having a shrink for a mom sure helps,” as I smile at Molly.
“Tell us about Jace,” Amy ask.
I turn to the moms, “Did you notice a special glow coming from the choir when we sang?”
“I thought that the sun came out, shining through the stained glass,” Mom remarks.
“Whenever Jace feels people are open-hearted and accept him, they feel his love, like the glow people notice when a mother is pregnant. Today the whole choir accepted us and loved the hymn we sang. We all glowed, like at first communion or being born again.”
“You feel Jace is Jesus?” Molly asks.
“No. Jace was a rowdy teenager, breaking rules and having fun. He’d been badly abused all his life. There was so much love in his heart. When he broke free of the abuse, he loved everyone. He loved all of us in the band. He loved his girlfriend. I loved him back. When he was killed by his abuser, I couldn’t let him go. He’s been in my heart ever since, except when I’ve had to lock away my heart at the juvenile work camp. That’s why I broke down when I arrived. I had shut off my heart. Lying in a ditch in Alabama, Jace came to me in a dream, telling me to come here. I met Amy and Angela in that dream. The four of us hugged and they drove me home.”
No tears on my part, just smiles for the twins. Tim 420
“Teen Jesus,” Amy says.
“That’s another story,” I demur.
Desserts come. We all ate. I was too full of it to say more.

Arriving home, we discover ‘Gator and his boys sitting on the porch. They look worse for wear after a night of football team partying. Tim 276 One look at the three of us, dressed entirely in white, perks them up.
“Y’all go to church?” ‘Gator observes.
“Fresh as a spring breeze and free of sin, unlike you reprobates,” I crow. Tim 399
“We ain’t no reprobators, whatever that is. It sounds sinful.”
“The cheerleaders kick y’all out this morning?” I mock them. The moms quickly go into the house. The twins just look embarrassed.
“Naw. We never spends the night with ’em, too intimate.”
The twins start to leave us alone.
“Wait. We’s here ta work on the fight band. Y’all gots ta help.”
We follow the twins up to the third floor and get out the guitars.
“The one sure song is Queen’s ‘We are the Champions.’” I assert. “It’s not a fight song but a statement. Best played at the end of a game or when it’s all over but the shouting.

I played a few riffs and sing the title lines. The boys haven’t even heard of Queen.
How about this song by AC/DC?” as I play ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.’

‘If you’re havin’ trouble with the high school head
He’s givin’ you the blues
You want to graduate but not in ‘is bed
Here’s what you gotta do
Pick up the phone
I’m always home
Call me any time
Just ring
36 24 36 hey
I lead a life of crime
Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap
Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap
Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap
Dirty deeds and they’re done dirt cheap
Dirty deeds and they’re done dirt cheap
You got problems in your life of love
You got a broken heart
He’s double dealin’ with your best friend
That’s when the teardrops start, fella
Pick up the phone
I’m here alone
Or make a social call
Come right in
Forget about him
We’ll have ourselves a ball
Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap
Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap
Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap
Dirty deeds and they’re done dirt cheap
Dirty deeds and they’re done dirt cheap
If you got a lady and you want her gone
But you ain’t got the guts
She keeps naggin’ at you night and day
Enough to drive ya nuts
Pick up the phone
Leave her alone
It’s time you made a stand
For a fee
I’m happy to be
Your back door man
Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap
Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap
Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap
Dirty deeds and they’re done dirt cheap yeah
Dirty deeds and they’re done dirt cheap
Concrete shoes, cyanide, TNT
Done dirt cheap
Neckties, contracts, high voltage
Done dirt cheap
Dirty deeds
Do anything you wanna do
Done dirty cheap
Dirty deeds
Dirty deeds
Dirty deeds
Done dirt cheap’

Songwriters
ANGUS MCKINNON YOUNG, RONALD BELFORD SCOTT, MALCOLM MITCHELL YOUNG
Published by
Lyrics © J. ALBERT & SON(INTERNATIONAL) PTY. LTD.

“Don’t ac/dc mean ya swings both ways?” Clarence speaks up.
We all look at him strangely, which makes him turn bright red.
“I just heard my uncles talkin,’ that’s all,” is his excuse.
“AC and DC means electricity, alternating current or direct current,” Noah clarifies. His dad is an electrician.
“That’s what we want – we’s electric,” ‘Gator confirms. “That’s a song for the defense. We gets down in the dirt and gets dirty.”
“You kin rip on guitar, Andy, while we sing real high. Make that guitar respond like a chainsaw,” Angie is inspired.
“How ‘bouts a song fer the offense?” I ask.
“That there dog song got us all a’howlin?’” “Gator suggests.
“The Stooges have a great metal song – ‘Search and Destroy.’” I remember.

I’m a street walking cheetah
with a heart full of napalm
I’m a runaway son of the nuclear A-bomb
I am a world’s forgotten boy
The one who searches and destroys

Songwriters
POP, IGGY/WILLIAMSON, JAMES
Published by
Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing, Universal Music Publishing Group, BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

We decide that three rock songs are plenty to get the stands stomping and screaming. We practice each one. It is amazing that the girls pick up the songs so easily. Jace is still working with them, knowing when either one is unsure of the chord changes. It doesn’t take much for them to have the whole song, singing backups as well. I take the lead riffs while they play the rhythm. They have confidence that the notes are flying off the guitars perfectly. Choir girls in the morning; demon rockers at night. Tim179

I suggest we have a song for the opposing team. I recommend Elvis’s ‘Hound Dog,’ as the team could sing along to taunt their opponents, especially after a penalty flag is thrown.

The boys all get into making Elvis moves and taunting each other. Tim 374 I let the girls do the singing while I play as loud as possible on an acoustic guitar.

All the stomping and yelling brings the moms up the stairs.
“You kids have been at it for hours. How about a break for supper?”
“Pizza Pit,” we all yell.
Mom gives me twenty dollars. All of us walk the four blocks to the Pit, ordering four larges with varying toppings. The girls want veggies. We kidded them that the moms will be so proud. While waiting for our order, I notice a sign saying ‘help wanted.’ I ask the counter man if I can apply.
“Ya gots yer license, boy.”
I pulled out my Florida permit.
“Once ya git a real license, com’n back. The opening’s fer delivery. Ya needs yer own car.”
“I’ll be back. I lives jist ‘round the corner.”
“See ya then, boy.”

The pizzas come. ‘Gator dives in to grab a slice immediately. I slam the cardboard lid on his hand, “Have sum manners. The moms come first.”
He looks chagrined, not used to being denied. We both laugh, while his boys warily keep an eye on us.
At the house, ‘Gator makes sure the moms have first choice. Naturally they choose the veggie pizza. Everyone laughs.
“What?” Molly asks.
“Don’t ask, Mom,” Angie warns her. “It’ll only give the boys a chance to put us down.”
“Over pizza?”
“Over veggies.”

Three pizzas disappear quickly. The final veggie slices are attacked by the boys after the women only have a single slice a piece. Female anorexia rules. ‘Gator and his crew are hustled out the door after supper, Molly announcing we have homework to do. ‘Gator makes every one thank the moms for the weekend of hospitality. I groan thinking they have plans to become semi-permanent fixtures in our ever-expanding household. Molly seems able to maintain control. I’m still getting used to having parents  so involved in my activities. I decide to call Flo and check in on her life.
“Tim. I miss you,” she cries when she comes to the phone. “Where are you?”
“Iowa,” I laugh. “I’m living with my mom.”
“Which one,” she quips.
“The first one. How are Mary and Edi?”
“We all miss you, Tim.”
“Oh, I have a new name, it’s now Andy. And I have twin sisters.”
“I know where that’s going.”
“Naw. They’re choir girls like you. I even joined the choir.”
“Turning over a new leaf?”
“Maybe. We started a new band, called the Triplets, cause we’re all the same age. We played at a college football game yesterday. We caused a riot Friday night, when we played at an open mic in a coffee shop.”
“New name, same crazy life.”
“Not so crazy. The big excitement is starting a high school bowling team for winter term.”
“Is it cold there yet?”
“Not as cold as Alaska.”
“When are you coming back to Florida?”
“Not ‘til I’s 18, next summer.”
“Will you come to see me?” She sounds sad.
“Of course. You’re my number one.”
“Really?”
“Who else can put up with me?”
“You are so lovable, even though you’re crazy.”
“Well, don’t be lonely. Waiting for me just means we’re on hold. Have as much fun as possible. Drive AP Spenser mad, that dick.”
She laughs. “Edi and Mary keep things interesting. Nothing like you and your unending supply of boyfriends.”
“Yeah. I already have been ‘adopted’ by the captain of the football team. He’s playing me for tight end, but I may end up a wide receiver.”
“You are too much,” she can’t stop laughing. I hear her pop telling her to get off the phone. “Gotta go, Andy (hah). I’ll say hi to everyone. Stay in touch. Love you.”
“I love you, too.”

I hang up and turn around to find the twins listening in on my end of the conversation.
“That was my girlfriend, Flo, in Miami. Just catching up. She’s a choir girl, too.”
“Are you two real serious?” Amy wants to know.
“High school sweethearts. I told her not to wait for me.”
“What did you mean about ‘Gator? You think he’s too sweet on you?”
“Naw, not that he knows it. He recognizes that we have the same spirit of adventure. I’m trying to keep the risk taking under control. We both like to perform – him in football, me in music. The reason I came here is because I let things get out of control. I can’t go back to Florida ’til I’s an adult.”
“Trouble with the police?” Angela is shocked.
“They put me in juvie. I escaped and hid out in the Everglades for four months. My friend got an infected foot. When I took him to the hospital, I went to see Flo and the boys in the band. After that, I hitch-hiked out of there but got stuck in Alabama. I was roughed up and thrown in a ditch. That’s when y’alls came to me in a dream. You were a vision.” Cathy Christina
They get all flustered when I mentioned them.
“We weren’t trying to spy on your phone call. We want to know all about you. What’s a split personality like?”
“My best friend Jace and our dog, Max, died. I see them and talk with them like they’re ghosts. Anyone that opens their heart to me seems able to feel them, too.”
“We do,” they agree.
“The shrinks call it projection, like I’ve created a fantasy to fool myself that they’re still alive. I think it’s inspiration, allowing me to channel musical ability from Jace and love from Max.”
“You like having sisters, Andy? Most boys don’t.”
“That’s their lookout. I always complained to Mom that I wanted brothers and sisters. When they got divorced, I realized why there is just me.”
“How you like Ames so far? Is it too boring for you?”
“Life is never boring. You’re only young once.” Zorik

They go upstairs to do homework. Telling them about the Everglades makes me want to call Tommy. I have his number from Jay but haven’t called. I’m afraid he’ll keep begging me to be his boyfriend. My lack of sex drive (rape does that) makes it easy for me to ignore him. There’s no doubt I love him. We had so much fun last summer. But I have to keep him in the little brother mold. Tim 492
An older woman answers the number Jay gave me.
“Evening, ma’am. My name’s Tim. I’m Tommy’s friend from last summer. Can he come to the phone,” I use my adult-pleasing voice. “He calls me Huck sometimes.”
“Oh, my goodness. Y’all is all that boy talks about.”
“How’s he doing, ma’am? Last time I saw ‘im, he’s laid up in hospital.”
“Please call me Auntie Em, Tim. The boy’s doing real well, getting good grades and making friends. Half the neighborhood’s always over to the house. He’ll talk yer ears off.”
“That’s why I called, ma’am, er, Auntie Em.”
“I’ll git ‘im. He’s upstairs practicing singing. I’s afraid its hopeless, jist cain’t carry a tune.”
“Yeah, we’d pinch ‘im when he went off-key. He’d squeak and somehow find the right note.”
She laughs. “Well, that’s not an option fer foster parenting.”
“Y’all is church-going people?”
“’Course. It’s not his favorite time of the week.”
“I’ll tell him to become a choirboy so he can learn to sing proper.” Tim 123
“That sounds more better than pinchin.’”
“Nice talkin’ with ya, ma’am.”
“You sound older than Tommy.”
“Yes, ma’am. I’m seventeen. Tommy’s like my little brother.”
“A sight better than his other brother. We had to call the police to keep that mean boy from coming here ta harass our boy. He gave Tommy a black eye for fightin’ back.” yaoi 06
“Y’all don’ts need that kinda trouble. Sounds like yer the parents Tommy needs.”
“Sight better than his real parents.”
“Thank you, Auntie Em.”
“I’ll git the boy now.”
I’m so proud of Tommy for fighting back.

“Huck! Is that really you?” Tim 210
“Sure thing. Y’all think I’d forgot ya?”
“I miss ya so much. Where are you?” He seems to have lost the country accent.
“Iowa. I live with my mom, her girlfriend and two twin step-sisters.”
“Wow, you hit the jackpot – four women, Kin ya stand it?”
“’S cool.”
“Yer mom’s a lez. Is that why yer gay?” Tim 489
“Not gay so much no more, though the football captain is sweet on me. Jist don’t feel it no more.”
“Well, my new folks is cool. They’s real old, so I kin pretty much do as I pleases, jist as long as my grades is good. I got my own gang. My asshole brother come lookin’ fer me. I popped him good, jist not enough ta put him down like y’all did.”
“Auntie Em told me he give ya a black eye.”
“Yeah, but it’s worth it. Haven’t seen the asshole since.”
We laugh.Dario 03
“Bin singin?’”
“Everday. We’s still gots the band tagether?”
“If’n when we do git tagether. Auntie Em says yer still singin’ off-key.”
“Aw, nobody here ta pinch me.”
“She says yer going to church. Why not join the choir. I did here in Iowa.”
“You’s a choirboy?”
“’S’cool. The girls are in it. We got to sing at the college football game on Saturday. The three of us sang fer 15,000 people. We calls ourselves The Triplets.”
“No more Hillbilly Brothers?”
“Not makin’ babies with each other.”
“You’s so much fun, Huck. Ya comin’ back to Florida?”
“Cain’t ‘til I’s 18. Kin ya come visit here?”
“Havta ta git special permission from foster care ta go anywhere.”
“Ask the fosters to check. My band friend Hippie is comin’ ta visit his mima and pipa in Iowa. Ya could git a ride with ‘em.”
“Oh, Huck,” he starts to cry. “I misses ya so much.” Tim 490
“We had so much fun this summer.”
“I’ll never forget it. I loves ya, Huck. We don’t havta be gay. I got me a girlfriend,” he stops the tears.
“Ya do? Does she order ya around.”
“Yup. I’m a real pussy.”
“S’cool. I’m so proud of you. We both just normal teenagers now. Guess my job as big brother is done.”
“Kin we be boyfriends for real when I’s 16. You’ll be 18.”
“What ‘bouts yer girlfriend.”
“I ain’t that much of a pussy.”
“Remember that big cat that watched us at camp – that was a pussy.” jaguarMayan
“That was black pussy.”
“Once ya go black..”
“Ya never go back.”
“I loves ya, Tommy”
“Don’t hang up! You have to get me a ride to Iowa for Christmas.” His country twang falls away when he wants something badly enough.
“You get your new parents to get permission.  I’ll see if Hippie can give you a ride.”
“I love you forever, Huck, even if’n yer country accent ain’t fer real.”
“Jist whens we’s the Hillbilly Brothers. Don’t fergit ta join the church choir.”
We laugh and hang up

Next I call Hippie. Anna picks up.
“Hi, Anna. It’s Tim. Congrats on yer wedding. Y’all still prayin’ fer me.”
“Oh, Tim. Not so much now that Gregory is settled down.”
“You slowin’ that boy down?”
“No. It was you that sped ‘im up by joining the band. He’s slowly comin’ back ta normal. I kinda miss his rock n roll self.”
“What’s ya think ‘bout coming ta Iowa to visit his Mima and Pipa fer Christmas? That’s where I lives now.”
“I’ll pray on that one. Maybe, if’n I gits ta come, too.”
“’Course, ya gots ta come. Ya think I’d wanna see ya miss yer first Christmas tagether?”
“Well, I’ll see if the doctor says I kin travel then.”
“You’s pregnant? Oh, my god, er, my gosh.”
“That’s better. Prayin’ seems ta done yer sum good.”
“That’s wonderful news. If the doctor says it’s okay, ya gots to come visit his grandparents.”
“Well, you boys work it out. I’m a’goin’ ta put my feets up.”
Hippie got on the line. “Ya heard the news.”
“You sly dog. Guess all our sex lessons worked, ‘cept the one about condoms.”
“Typical. The gays take all the credit when it was me that had ta do the dirty deed.” Tim 427
“Dirty deeds done dirt cheap,” I sing, channeling AC/DC from our fight band practice.
“Same old Tim,” Hippie laughs.
“So hows ’bout y’all come ta Iowa fer Christmas. Your Mima and Pipa can meet their new granddaughter and future great grandwhatever. I wanna see ya.”
“I’ll ask the moms. They’re a bit worked up about the baby, thinkin’ they’s the ones who’s gonna do all the work. They’s back to cursin’ all men as slave masters, makin’ women pregnant.”
“Our sex ed. lessons may have been lacking. But babies are a blessing, especially when there’s two moms to pick up their teenager’s slack.”

“Ya got that.”
“Sounds like they can use a break. If they say okay, kin ya bring my little brother from up in Lauderdale. He’s about ta burst from missin’ me.”
“Why not. We’ll call it the faggot express.” Tim 385
“Hippie?”
“Jist teasin.’”
“So, how come ya didn’t use condoms.”
“We did. Must’ve bin all that prayin’ that caused the condom ta explode.”
“Sounds like ya needs bigger condoms.”
“They come in sizes?”
“Well, don’t you cum in sizes, too.” 

 

Next: https://timatswim.com/a-prairie-christmas-chapter-8/

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