The next few days we repeated our rehearsals as the Globe Theater show took shape. On Thursday night, Mummy had arranged for Father Frank to bring Jack’s protégée Ann for dinner, which gave me an excuse to skip out. Jake was due to arrive. I felt my cheating was less sinful with Jack entertaining a potential girlfriend. I called Jake and arranged to meet him at his hotel in the Grove. I was worked up about seeing him and grateful that Jack was otherwise occupied and missed seeing my amped-up libido.
I was waiting for him in the hotel lobby when the airport limo got there. I tried to act mature by not rushing into his arms, but even a simple hug started me purring again. I was hopeless. Jake found it cute. It took us no time to strip and hit the king-size bed in his room. He was masterful at calming me, keeping my excitement just on the edge of my point of no return. I wasn’t concerned with premature ejaculation, just the start of uncontrolled shaking and vibrating – me, the human armadildo.
“Let’s get it over with now and save the prolonged fucking for after we wander around the Grove and eat,” Jake was in charge.
I pushed him back onto the bed and impaled myself on his stiff dick, bouncing on him like a rodeo bull-riding contestant. He smiled as my ass brought him to orgasm and mine sprayed all over us as I felt him expand and explode inside me. We lay there huffing and puffing with my jism smeared on both our stomachs and chests. A quick communal shower cleaned us off, although I never lost my hard-on. As we wandered around the Grove, checking out restaurants, Jake kept laughing at the head of my dick sticking above my waist band. At least my shirt kept it (mostly) covered. Forgetting Jake was twice their age, I dragged him to Jill and David Wilkie’s apartment, proud to show off my studly new boyfriend. Jill welcomed us, although David was still in England.
“After the Olympics, he’s been too busy to come back,” she gave me a sad smile.
“How’d he do?” I hadn’t been following swim news.
“You don’t know?” she was incredulous.
“What? Is everything okay. You didn’t break up, did you?”
She laughed. “Where have you been. He won two gold medals, setting world records in both?”
“Oh, my god. I am so tied up in my own little world, I never even watched the Olympics.”
“You’re forgiven, fish boy. But who’s your friend? An uncle?”
“That is so sweet. I need plans for New Year’s. Just think it was two years ago that we played the Jace Tribute.”
“Yeah. What drama.”
“So you’re in Hollywood now?”
“Just to do a movie. Jake’s a composer. We’re working together on the score.”
“You always know,” I laughed. “We’re crazy about each other, but it’s too crazy to let anyone know.”
“You’ve really grown up. Where’s the boy who came to our door in tears unable to let anyone know he’s gay?”
“I still have girlfriends,” I repeated my claim that I wasn’t totally gay.
“I’ll bet it’s more like they have you only when you have the time to pay attention.”
She knew me well.
All three of us went out to eat, having seafood at a restaurant she knew. It was divine. She admitted how much she missed Wilkie, who was the indentured servant to the British Olympic Committee. He planned to return and finish his degree, but she was worried he belonged to the world now. I told her how I had promised to return to Harvard after the movie was done.
“You’re at Harvard?” she laughed.
“Yeah. Ain’t that the shits?” I laughed.
Back at the hotel, Jake admitted he’d been worried she wanted to spend the night with us.
“She is lonely, but she’s too old for me,” I claimed.
He just looked at me and shook his head. Then he dived at me across the bed, not ready to have me talk about how old he was. Our dicks didn’t care about age differences. It was time for prolonged fucking. I taught him the trick I first used with Tommy on our Panther night of love. We teased each other by alternating who was the top until someone was getting too close to orgasm, then switching positions. It went on so long and my balls were so blue, I wondered if I had damaged them. The purring had started quickly, but so far no vibrating, shaking, or shuttering. Finally we both sat up with our legs around each other and our cocks mindlessly rubbing and thrusting at each other. We hugged tightly as our dicks told us how to get off simultaneously. I fountained first and Jake joined me before I was done. Laying together afterward, I suggested we call housekeeping for new sheets. He drew me close and kissed my eyes shut. As I fell asleep, a nagging thought reminded me I was forgetting something but it was too late. I woke up in the early dawn and remembered what I should have done – be home for Jack’s arrival to my bedroom. It was too late now. Was I ready to confess my cheating ways. My heart checked to see if Jack’s heart was open without a response. All I could hope was he waited for me at his house. I jumped on my bike (still without a car) and pedaled home. Max was waiting for me, upset that I had failed to take him to Robby’s. I told him that it was strictly a habit for him. A ghost couldn’t absorb pot. He growled. Winston was on alert and came running up my stairs.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“Taking the dogs out.”
“Going to Robby’s to get high?”
“Naw. Max can’t really get high.Winston doesn’t like it. I’m too worn out to wake and bake.”
“I expected you to come over last night.”
“I fell asleep without thinking about it.”
That seemed to satisfy him. My heart was beating from the anxiety that it had to confess my cheating. He didn’t suspect a thing. He told me to come over and have breakfast.
Tommy called to say he was working on his tall tale. He would be late for rehearsal. Somebody took our performance seriously. Everyone else met at Michael’s by noon. While the Out-Crowd was running through their repertoire of dance oldies, Jack and I sat working on the lyrics and chords for a new song.
‘Two years gone
You still linger on
A face not to replace
A life not to waste
You’re in my soul
You’re in my heart
You make me bold
We’ll never part
Our time was short
We stood our ground
Rocked our sound
Two years gone
But I have found
You’re still around
You still linger on.
Jace you have a place
I love to see your face
My heart skips its beat
Dancing attacks my feet.
As we worked on his song, Jace sat with us smiling, not wanting to add to what we felt about him. Jill walked in. I was stunned to see Jake with her. I calmed my shocked heart which was beating a mile a minute.
“Hi guys,” I casually greeted them. “We’re writing the perfect song for you to sing about Jace. It’s totally Rod Stewart.” I showed her the lyrics.
I turned to Jake, “Meet my boyfriend, Jack. Jack, this is Jake, the composer. I invited him to come see our performance.”
They nodded at each other. Jack put on his charm. “Tim says you’re using opera for the frat movie.”
“It is a Greek frat,” Jake joked.
“Cool. Welcome to Miami.”
They smiled. Jack went back to trying chords for the new song.
I spoke to Jill, “What do you think?” as I sang the new lyrics.
“Total plagiarism, ‘You’re in my soul. You’re in my heart.'”
“You’re right. I didn’t even notice I stole those two lines. How about if we go, ‘You are my heart, you’re in my soul’?”
“That’s still plagiarism.”
“That’s what all rock is, a retredding of basic human emotions.”
“Like fixing a flat tire? I think those lyrics can be improved.”
“How about then, ‘you stole my heart, I got your soul.”
Jack had the chords he wanted. I played leads as Jill sang to Jack’s rhythm chords. It sounded sweet.
“We’ll play it after Michael and Jenna do their love song duet,” I decided.
“Is that how you write a song. Everyone just adds what they want?” Jake was amazed.
“Sometimes you have to keep working on it. We’ll have to add more verses, but at least we’ve put down the essentials. All of us love Jace. He died exactly two years ago,” I explained. “This song has taken about ten minutes to write because we knew exactly how we feel about him.”
Jack changed the tempo of the music so it was less of a Rod Stewart love ballad or more of an anthem. Jill smiled as she sang it again to the new chords.
“Welcome to pop music where if you don’t like something, you just move on,” I told Jake. “Let me show you the music room. It’s our studio.”
“I love this Spanish house. It’s so Granada and the Alhambra,” he noted as we walked past a running fountain in the courtyard.
“I’d love to see the Alhambra, ‘Scheherazade,’” Jack effused, always ready to be a tourist.
We were back in the music room. Jake saw Mike Sr.’s double bass against a wall. He looked at it longingly, needing to join in our musical zoo. Michael nodded it was okay. Running his fingers over the strings to assure it was in tune, Jake started playing the intro to Rimsky Korsakov’s Scheherazade
Jack ran over to his MOOG and played along. We all listened, although the Out-Crowd looked none too pleased to be listening to a lesson in classical music. Jack was going off on the violin solo. Jake put down the double bass and went over to observe how the MOOG electronically converted the notes into different instruments. Jack let him try, while the rest of us were glad to return to old rock n roll. The two of them were discussing the settings. Jake fiddled with the knobs and sliders, trying to get a purer cello sound. I observed Jace working with him as they created their own sound, just as Jace had done with Minehan. Jack came over and picked up his guitar. We were ready to rehearse. Jake put on headphones so as to not disturb us rockers.
“He’s interesting,” Jack whispered. “Kinda old but he doesn’t seem set in his ways, at least.”
A true teenager’s compliment.
Tommy showed up, distracting Jack from his actual competition. I relaxed. Tommy had been working on the Mark Twain tall tale and wanted to recite what he had memorized. We all took a break as he adjusted the mic.
“Here goes,” he announced.
‘Y’all knows ol’ Huck and I had hid out in the Everglades afta runnin’ a-way from dat e-vil prison camp. Well, finally we’s had enuff of ‘gators and snakes and lions, so we’s decides ta git further a-way an’ go west.’
The Out-Crowd was eating it up after the boring classical music. They were laughing and repeating fractured words. Tommy had great timing, laughing at his hecklers, still keeping the flow of his story.
‘We jumped a passenger train headin’ west. I’s nervous ‘bout injuns and such. Playin’ cards I won me a real six-shooter. I was armed to the teeth with a pitiful little Smith & Wesson. I thought it was grand. It appeared to me to be a dangerous weapon. It only had one fault—you cain’t hit nothin’ with it. One of our “conductors” practiced shootin’ at a cow. As long as that cow stood still and behaved herself she was safe; as soon as she went to movin’ about, and he got to shootin’ at other things, she come to grief.
It was a reliable weapon, nevertheless, because, as one of the train-drivers afterward said, “If she didn’t get what she went after, she would fetch something else.” And so she did. She went after a deuce of spades nailed against a tree, once, and it fetched a mule standing about thirty yards to the left of it. Huck had nothin to do with that there mule; but the owner came out with a double-barreled shotgun and persuaded him to buy it, anyhow. It was a cheerful weapon—the “Smith & Wesson.” Sometimes all its six barrels would go off at once, and then there was no safe place in all the region round about, but behind it.
After supper a woman gots on, who lived about fifty miles further along. Apparently she was not a talkative woman. She would sit there in the gathering twilight and fasten her steadfast eyes on a mosquiter rootin’ into her arm. Slowly she raised her other hand till she had got his range. Then she would launch a slap at him that would have jolted a cow. After that she would sit and contemplate the corpse with tranquil satisfaction—for she never missed her mosquiter; she was a dead shot at short-range. She never removed a carcass, but left them there for bait. I sat by this grim riper and watched her kill thirty or forty mosquiters—watched her, and waited for her to say something, but she never did. So I finally opened the conversation myself. I said: “Them mosquiters are pretty bad here about, ma’am.” “You bet!” “What did I understand you to say, madam?” “You BET!” Then she cheered up, and faced around and said: “Danged if I didn’t begin to think you fellers was deef and dumb. I did, b’gosh. Here I’ve sot, and sot, and sot, a-bust’n muskeeters and wonderin’ what was ailin’ ye. Fust I thot you was deef and dumb, then I thot you was sick or crazy, or suthin’, and then by and by I begun ta reckon you was a passel of sickly fools that couldn’t think of nothin’ to say. Wher’d ye come from?” The Sphynx was a Sphynx no more! The fountains of her great deep were broken up, and she rained the nine parts of speech forty days and forty nights, metaphorically speaking, and buried us under a desolating deluge of trivial gossip that left not a crag or pinnacle of rejoinder projecting above the tossing waste of dislocated grammar and decomposed pronunciation!
‘How we suffered, suffered, suffered! She went on, hour after hour, till I was sorry I ever opened the mosquiter question and gave her a start. She never did stop again until she got to her journey’s end toward daylight; and then she stirred us up as she was leaving the car(for we were nodding, by that time), and said: “Now you git out at Cottonwood, you fellers, and lay over a couple o’ days, and I’ll be along some time to-night, and if I can do ye any good by edgin’ in a word now and then, I’m right thar. Folks’ll tell you’t I’ve always ben kind o’ offish and partic’lar for a gal that’s raised in the woods, and I am, with the rag-tag and bob-tail, and a gal has to be, if she wants to be anything, but when people comes along which is my equals, I reckon I’m a pretty sociable heifer after all.” We resolved not to “lay by at Cottonwood.’
The kids cheered Tommy. He stood there grinnin, finally making a bow and walking away from the mic. All that counted was he was now part of the performance. We’d come on after hi. He’d be able to do his off-key ‘sail aways’ and ‘who do you loves’ on ‘One Toke Over the Line.’ It was time for the Hillbilly Brothers to practice.
Hippie was ready to do his stage strutting. Robby refused to go country. Dave jumped on his kit. Jack and I played and sang with Tommy coming in as backup. The Jacettes thought it fun to pinch him as they joined us on backups. Then Tommy surprised us with his version of Dr Hook’s ‘The Cover of the Rolling Stone.’
It didn’t require much melodic singing as it told the tale of fame and fortune as a rock n roller. We ended with the Dead’s ‘Truckin’
Robby couldn’t help himself and was passing the joints around. The Out-Crowd finally gave in to John’s entreaties that they try pot. That was the end of rehearsal as the 15-year-olds couldn’t ‘maintain’ and were totally disruptive. Stu was especially hyper, promising me that he’d never tell his mom that he now was a stoner. I wouldn’t hold him to that promise. Mom Watt would be able to handle it, as long as he promised ‘never again.’ Jill and Jake sat and watched the ensuing chaos. I realized that the show would go on, regardless of how well we prepared. I took Tommy out and showed him the Globe replica. He was thrilled to be standing there, reciting his latest Tom & Huck story.
“Y’all’s so much fun, Huck. I’s fallin’ fur ya all over a-gin. Cain’t helps meself. I jist knows I cain’t neva beat out ol’ Jack-Off.”
“Neva despair, boy. We’ll neva fergit our ‘Gatorsaurus days and nights,” as I pulled him into a hug. He melted into me. The moment passed when ol’ Jack-Off caught us.
We both laughed at his sour expression. He laughed too, but came over and separated us.
“Don’t need ta throw me under the bus this time. We’s jist relivin’ old times,” Tommy wasn’t going to be rattled.
“I invited Jake to dinner so we can play the Rimsky-Korsakov together for the cocktail hour. You won’t be jealous if I steal your composer.”
“He’s 42, Jack. Be careful you may start preferring classical.”
“Right.” He marched off to inform my secret lover that he was coming to dinner.
“Wanna come to dinner at Jack’s castle?” I asked Tommy.
“Hell, no. I gots ta practice my speech.” He went off to find Stu, to have dinner there.
The mini-concert was well received. Mummy was concerned that I had been left out.
“I’m glad Jack is finding different interests. He needs to branch out and test his wings,” I replied to her concerns.
Jill had also come and was talking with Daddy about Wilkie’s success and the change in his life after winning the Olympics. Daddy asked Jake how he felt about Rimsky-Korsakov’s nationalistic politics in the late 19th Century.
“I compare him to Wagner,” Jake answered. “His music was inspired by nationalistic themes, folk songs, fairy tales – but as an artist he transcends the mundane political attitudes of his patrons.”
“So, you don’t blame Wagner for Nazi atrocities?” Daddy was sparking the conversation.
“Let’s avoid speaking about Nazi’s.” Mummy put her foot down.
“Well, I am Jewish, so I have strong feelings about how the Nazi’s used art for propaganda. I believe art should transcend politics, not be seen as a basis for nationalism, neither fascism nor communism.”
“Bravo,” Daddy exclaimed. Mummy looked relieved when Isabelle announced dinner.
Jake was seated next to me, whispering, “Why is there an empty seat? Is someone missing?”
“Is something wrong?” Mummy asked, concerned that Jake was breaking her no whispering at the table rule.
“Jake was asking about Jace’s place setting,” I announced. “He met Jace today but didn’t realize it.”
“How’s that?” Jake asked.
“When you were setting the MOOG controls. Did you feel your hands being directed?”
“I did. I thought it was just familiarity with the keyboard.”
“Jace is a musical genius who died and came back to inspire our band,” Jack tried to explain.
“I don’t really believe in ghosts,” Jake was skeptical.
“How about being divinely inspired?” I offered.
“That’s so 19th Century.”
“I’m Jewish. Jesus hasn’t come up yet.”
“Teen Jesus is Jewish, too,” I announced Jace’s conversion.
“Well, I’m glad that is all settled,” Mummy invoked the no controversy at dinner rule.
I raised my glass, “To our hostess, Mummy to us all.”
“To Mummy,” everyone echoed my toast.
Mummy raised her glass and countered, “To those who are missing tonight. David Wilkie, our Olympic hero, and Jace Conning, an inspiration for all faiths.”
After dinner, Jill joined Jack and me on the patio by the pool. The ‘men,’ Daddy, Father Frank and Jake, adjourned for brandy and cigars in the sitting room. I insisted that Mummy join us by the pool. As always, she took a shine to Jill. We discussed the shopping spree with our girlfriends. Jill was surprised at this development, wondering if it meant we were less passionate about each other. Mummy was all ears.
“We’re trying to be normal at college,” Jack explained.
“Do the girls know you’re together?”
“We thought the parents would be pleased that their daughters were dating gay boys.”
Jill laughed. “How did that go.”
“You really are freshman, aren’t you,” Jill observed.
“Where did we go wrong?” I asked.
“You’re doing fine. Don’t expect parents to fall for your guileless tricks.”
“That’s for sure.”
I walked Jill and Jake out to her car.
“Coming with me?” Jake asked hopefully.
“It can’t be that obvious yet,” I moaned.
“Your boyfriend’s parents really like you.”
“If only they knew.”
“You’re the perfect beard,” Jake announced.
“What’s that?” I asked about gay terminology I hadn’t heard before.
“It’s a woman you take to social affairs so no one knows you’re gay.”
“A fag hag?”
“Not the same; the woman isn’t deluded that you will ever be attracted to her.”
“My, boys, you see women only as objects?”
“No. These are just stereotypes to beat ourselves up over.”
I kissed Jill goodnight, turning to Jake who whisked me out of sight from the house. He was as passionate as ever. I started to vibrate.
“Come to my room once Jack’s asleep,” Jake whispered.
I realized I could tell Jack I went home to walk Winston, my perfect excuse.
Sleeping with Jack was an exercise in practiced passion and hidden restraint. He loved that he thought he had made me vibrate. He took it as permission to violate and ravish me. By the time we had both cum, he was vibrating too. I lay in his arms purring. He went instantly asleep. I couldn’t stop the shuddering and shaking. He turned away from my jerking body. I cuddled up next to him, purring and experiencing random bouts of shaking. I finally got up and took a shower, after which I kissed him on the forehead and left. Riding my bike to the Grove, I felt fifteen again. I’d never get a car in Miami. Even Tommy had a car, Auntie Em’s. I was so retarded.
I knocked softly on Jake’s hotel door. He pulled me into an embrace. I stopped trying to control the vibrations. That giving in feeling at the base of my stomach engulfed me. I sighed and let Jake ravish me. I came three times before he finally exploded deep inside me. We settled into the bed. After several minutes I slipped out of bed and started to get dressed. Jake would have none of it. He backed me up against the balcony door.
“I love fucking standing up,” he whispered in my ear. I threw my arms and legs around him as he pushed me against the glass door. Licking my ear, he whispered how hot I was. I reached for his straining dick and placed it against my asshole pulsing with anticipation. He impaled me, stroking in and out. I was squealing in lust each time he hit my prostrate gland. Pre-cum leaked all over our stomachs.
“You’re insatiable,” he whispered. “Cross your ankles and squeeze.”
He jerked each time I squeezed. My whole body shook uncontrollably, bouncing up and down on his hips. My arms locked around his neck kept his lips away from mine. Arching he came deep inside me again, breaking my arm lock. His lips encircled mine, with his tongue thrusting into my mouth. My body went slack yet still vibrating. My legs slipped off his thrusting hips. He clasped me around my back and lowered me to the rug. Throwing my legs over his elbows he proceeded to fuck the crap out of me (not literally). I quickly came and lay back enjoying his ride into the sunset. It was a gallop. His thrusts had backed me against the wall. I was a ball of seizing, vibrating, shaking, purring delirium. I barely realized he was cumming. His thrusts stopped as I continued to writhe on the floor. He passively rode out my seizure. We lay there, wrapped tightly together as I continue to purr. Ripples of vibrations passed through my body. The purring lulled Jake into sleep. I fell into a well of waves washing over me in the ocean. His dick was my anchor, still hard inside me.
Jake woke me some time later. I panicked that it was already morning, but no light came through the balcony door. I moved away to go home.
“You can’t leave,” he begged, jumping up to stop me.
We spun around naked. He shoved me against the balcony door. On his knees he lathered my anal ring and quickly impaled me again. His hand shoved my face against the glass door, as he brutally thrust into me again and again. I was completely passive. My dick barely twitched. He was done in less than a minute. I had never felt so completely dominated before. As he pulled out, the shaking started again. He picked me up, laying me on the empty bed, and stroking my head and shoulders to calm me down. All I could think was I had to get home before Jack woke up and missed me.
“I have to leave,” I croaked, rising from the bed. My clothes were spread all over the room. Still shaking, I struggled to pick up my jeans and tee-shirt. The effort exhausted me. Jake helped me get dressed.
“That was so wonderful,” he gushed.
“Not too much?” I murmured, more to myself than to him.
I quickly pushed away from him. I could barely move, hoping we were done. His dick told me otherwise. Always leave them wanting more. It was Coach Earl’s dictum for ending practice.
I rushed out the door, grabbing my bike and pedaling as fast as I could go. The church bell struck the hour. I was desperately hoping it wasn’t too late. After it stopped at four rings, I relaxed. The vibrating settled down. Only the purring continued. Max woke up and growled at me as I flopped on my own bed. I laughed at how exciting cheating was. I fell asleep before thinking about walking Winston
I opened my eyes to find Jack sitting on my bed. A sinking feeling woke me up, knowing he was there for morning delight.
“How come you left?” he asked.
“I came to walk Winston but it was too early for him. I just fell asleep. You wore me out,” I lied. My heart detected no concern in Jack’s heart.
We walked Max and Winston to Robby’s back yard. He tossed out two joints and told us to not wake him up. Jack refrained from getting high so early, thankfully waiting to amp up his sex drive. I gave Max a shotgun and picked up a second-hand high. I calmed down. I left Winston at the house and rode with Max in Jack’s pink Cabriolet to his house for breakfast.
“Let’s shower together,” he told me. “You stink.” Max barked in agreement. I wondered if it was sex stink or guilt stink. Probably both. After lathering up I gave Jack head, fearful of him attacking my ravished butt. After eating breakfast, I insisted we lay in the hot tub, to recover some flexibility down there.
Jack was full of ideas about the evening’s show. He wanted Tommy to play guitar as he recited his Mark Twain anecdote.
“He doesn’t know how to play,” I noted.
“Jace can guide him. All he needs to do is strum. Then, he can play with the Hillbilly Brothers once he’s done with his tall tale.”
Jack contacted Jace who was navigating Tommy, driving Auntie Em’s car from Ft Lauderdale. I visualized Tommy as a 14-year-old behind the wheel. I still couldn’t believe he was sixteen. They showed up before noon. Jack reveled in showing Tommy his mansion of a house. The boy was easily impressed. We hadn’t anticipated he was bringing his gang of sophomore boys and his girlfriend to hear him perform that night. Soon we had a pool party of ghetto kids jumping in and out of the pool in their soggy boxers. Mummy soon appeared, taking charge by directing the kids to the pool cabana where more appropriate attire was provided. Isabelle made BLTs and grilled cheese sandwiches for everyone. Soon we were on our way to Michael’s for a dress rehearsal.
We weren’t the only ones to bring 15-year-olds to our final practice. John, Stu and Mike Jr had a group of their swim team friends there. The groups quickly melded into one gang of raucous teens. Michael’s house was invaded. Michael had them all convene in the garage – out of sight, out of mind.
Jace took Tommy in hand and had him strumming an acoustic guitar. Under firm guidance, Tommy soon sounded competent enough to perform. Complimenting him on his newly found talent, I told Tommy he was now going to play on the Hillbilly Brothers set. He was ecstatic.
Our performance was scheduled to start at 8 pm, but by six there were so many kids crowded into the music room, thanks to word-of-mouth and Jack’s flyer, that Mrs. Antonio set out a huge pot of spaghetti with buckets of her special marinara sauce to feed the masses. I laughed at Tommy’s face, half covered in sauce. As I wiped it off, Jack was right there to supervise. No fooling around with the high schooler allowed. Little did he know who he really was competing with.
Mike Sr. suggested that his jazz quartet start earlier than planned as many in the adult audience were already enjoying cocktails at the Globe replica. I asked Jake if he and Jack wanted to repeat the Rimsky-Korsakov ‘Scheherazade.’
He smiled, “I hoped you’d let me play. I went to Spec’s and rented a cello.’ He had been speaking with Mike Sr. Jack was glad to show his chops on the MOOG. I left the kids in the music room enjoying their meal, and set up the mic on the Globe stage. There were so many adults at the cocktail party, no one noticed me until I spoke into the mic.
“Tonight we’re celebrating the return of Shakespeare’s Globe Theater to Coral Gables. We’ve planned an evening of music to welcome in 1977.” No cheers, yet.
“Later will be about rock n roll, but for your drinking pleasure, we plan to start with something more mature. Please welcome my friend, Jake Stern on cello and my boyfriend, Jack Stone, on keyboards, performing Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov’s ‘Scheherazade.’”
The guests were surprised to be treated to music of their liking instead of raucous rock. Jake walked out from off-stage with his cello, sitting on a chair in the front of the stage. Jack followed, standing where his MOOG was set up. They received polite applause and commenced the piece’s prelude.
Jack smiled at me as he played the love song. I felt so guilty. The audience returned to their drinks, politely listening without the cocktail chatter. After fifteen minutes of recital, Jake finished with a flourish. I stepped back up to the mic.
“Now we have what everyone’s been waiting for. Our host and my patron, Mike Antonio, has revived his college jazz quartet for your listening pleasure. It’s jazz, so don’t take it too seriously.”
Mike Sr. led his friends out. He asked Jake to sit in, making it a quintet. Now I was getting a big grin from my other lover. We had it planned for them to play for at least an hour. Waiters circulated among the guests, refilling drinks and offering hors d’oeuvres. The guests began chatting quietly, making the Globe seem like a typical cocktail bar. I returned to the kids in the music room, who were oblivious to the performance already started.
Tommy was a bundle of nervous energy. Having to perform in front of his friends from high school was throwing him off his game. I took him back to the garage to bolster his confidence. We walked in on Grant and his posse. Clyde instantly spotted me.
“That yer new boyfriend, lover?”
“Naw. He’s too old for me.”
That was what Tommy needed. He could care less when he was high.
“We’s always ready.
“Jist wait until Tommy and I finish our country set. I’ll wave y’all up.”
“Same as always, at the back of the bus.”
“No way. The Jackson Five come after y’alls.”
“Don’t fret. The stage will be yours to amaze or shock the crowd.”
Tommy decided to try out his tale spinning on Grant’s posse. It didn’t take long before the boys were laughing and repeating his phraseology. Tommy’s confidence soared. It was time to make our entrance. I had Grant’s boys go to the music room and get the kids to join us at the Globe Theater. From off-stage I caught Mike Sr.’s eye, giving him the cut signal to end their performance. They were ready after an hour of Duke Ellington and Dave Brubeck. They got a good hand as they picked up their instruments and exited the stage.
“Look, Tom. We’ve gots an adult audience tonight.”
“Oh, the horror, Huck.”
“Maybe if y’all tell ‘em a story ‘bout our ad-ventures, they might like us.”
“I’s sick o’ that one. Ya ain’t got a new tale?”
“How ‘bouts when we went out west and I gots me a real six-shooter.”
“’Cept ya neva could hit the side of a barn.”
“Don’t tell ‘em that.”
“Hows ‘bout when you was the hero?”
“You’s always the hero, Huck.”
“Then y’all tell the story.”
By now the kids were streaming into the backyard from the music room. Tommy’s friends from Lauderdale, seeing him up on stage entertaining the adults, rushed down front to cheer their boy on. The rest of the kids followed and most of the adults moved out of the pit area, leaving it to the youngsters.
“Lookee here, Tom. The kids is arrived. Ya gots to be mighty funny now.”
“What’s funny is if’n y’all jist stands here while I’s a’spinnin’ my tale.”
“They’s all yours, now. Don’t let me down.”
“You’s my hero, Huck. I ain’t never lettin’ y’all down.”
He reached down and picked up the guitar, strumming away as the Mark Twain tall tale was spun. Spontaneously he decided to sing our version of Bobby McGee
‘Busted flat in Lauderdale
Waitin’ for a train
Feelin’ nearly faded as my jeans
Huck he thumbed a diesel down
Just a’fore a rain
Rode us all the way to New Orleans’
He kept strumming and proceeded to tell his tale.
‘We’d bin playin’ cards a’fore headin’ west. I’s nervous ‘bout injuns and such. Somehow I won me a real six-shooter. I was armed to the teeth with a pitiful little Smith & Wesson. But I thought it was grand. It appeared to me to be a dangerous weapon. It only had one fault—you never gonna hit nothin’ with it. One of the other card players practiced awhile on a cow with it, but as long as she stood still and behaved herself she was totally safe; then as soon as she went to movin’ about, and he got to shootin’ at other things, she come to grief.
It was a reliable weapon, nevertheless, because, as the driver afterward said, “If she didn’t get what she went after, she would fetch somethin’ else.” And so she did. She went after a deuce of spades nailed against a tree, once, and fetched a mule standing about thirty yards to the left of it. Huck did not want that mule; but the owner came out with a double- barreled shotgun and persuaded him to buy it, anyhow. It was a cheerful weapon—‘Smith & Wesson.’ Sometimes all its six barrels would go off at once, and then there was no safe place in all the region round about, but behind it.
After supper a woman got in, who lived about fifty miles further on, and we three hadda take turns at sittin’ in the cab. Apparently she was not a talkative woman. She would sit there in the gatherin’ twilight and fasten her steadfast eyes on a mosquiter rootin’ into her arm, and slowly she would raise her other hand till she had got his range, and then she would launch a slap at him that would have jolted a cow; and after that she would sit and contemplate the corpse with tranquil satisfaction—for she never missed her mosquiter; she was a dead shot at short range. She never removed a carcass, but left them there fer bait. I sat by this grim repeater and watched her kill thirty or forty mosquiters—watched her, and waited for her to say something, but she never did. So I finally opened the conversation myself. I said: “Them mosquiters is pretty bad’round about here, ma’am.” “You bet!” “What did I understand you to say, ma’am?” “You BET!” Then she cheered up, and faced around and said: “Danged if I didn’t begin to think you fellers was deef and dumb. I did, b’gosh. Here I’ve sot, and sot, and sot, a-bust’n muskeeters and wonderin’ what was ailin’ ye. Fust I thot yee was deef and dumb, then I thot you was sick or crazy, or sumthin’, and then by and by I begin to reckon you was a passel of sickly fools that couldn’t think of nothin’ to say. Wher’d ye come from?” The Sphynx was a Sphynx no more! The fountains of her great deep were broken up, and she rained the nine parts of speech forty days and forty nights, metaphorically speakin’, and buried us under a desolatin’ deluge of trivial gossip that left not a crag or pinnacle of rejoinder projectin’ above the tossin’ waste of dislocated grammar and decomposed pronunciation!
How we suffered, suffered, suffered! She went on, hour after hour, till I was sorry I ever opened the mosquiter question and gave her a start. She never did stop again until she got to her journey’s end toward daylight; and then she stirred us up as she was leavin’ the cab(for we were noddin’, by that time), and said: “Now you git out at Cottonwood, you fellers, and lay over a couple o’ days, and I’ll be along some time to-night, and if I can do ye any good by edgin’ in a word now and then, I’m right thar. Folks’ll tell you’t I’ve always ben kind o’ offish and partic’lar for a gal that’s raised in the woods, and I am, with the rag-tag and bob-tail, and a gal has to be, if she wants to be anything, but when people comes along which is my equals, I reckon I’s a pretty sociable heifer after all.” We resolved not to ‘lay by’ at Cottonwood.’
“Pretty good tale, Tom. How’s about we get the rest of the band out here and you join us in a sing along.”
“I kin be in the band, Huck?”
“Sure thing. The Hillbilly Brothers.”
The kids looked shocked. The adults weren’t sure they heard it right. The teenagers just shook their heads in dismay. Dave came out and jumped on the drum set. Hippie hooked up his bass. John brought my guitar and hooked us both up. We were ready for country rock.
“Where’s Robby?” I yelled. “This songs for you. ‘One Toke over the Line, Sweet Jesus.’
The Jacettes ran out and kept Tommy on key for the ‘who do you love’s and the ‘sail away’s’
Robby was in the back, glowering at me, not willing to light up.
“I guess Robby’s not holding. How ‘bout it, Grant?”
We proceeded to play several Grateful Dead songs.
As the mellow weed odor wafted over the adults in the back, there was a mass exit for the supper Mrs. Antonio had laid out in the dining room. The true jazz freaks stayed with hopeful looks on their faces for their lost youth. Tommy got all teary after having played several songs. He stopped playing and put his arms around me, swaying as we sang, just as we had done at the old Sawgrass Campground. John stopped playing and had an arm around me from the other side.
“Guess this is the signal for baby makin’” I quipped. “Com’n here Grant. You and your posse is on.”
I grabbed Dave, running back to the music room where the other Out-Crowd members were awaiting their turn.
“Why are the black kids playing?” Stu was afraid they’d been bumped.
“No worries, Champ. They’re warming up the kids for your dance party.”
They surrounded Tommy, telling him how great he was. He already knew. Mike Jr. had everyone gather round, pumping up for their set. I joined Jake at the side. He was enjoying our musical revue, from classical to rock, from 1880 to 1977.
“You are a showman,” He complimented me.
“Wait until we actually play our music after the kids are danced out,” I wanted his approval of my music.
He had that ‘I want you’ look. I dragged him off to one of Michael & Jenna’s secret make out spots. He had me purring again. I broke away, afraid I’d lose it on stage. As I pulled away, Jake just smiled. It didn’t take much to satisfy him.
It was time to introduce the Out-Crowd. They were crowded behind stage. I gave Grant the cut sign. They bowed and jumped back into the crowd.
“Catch your breath, everyone, ‘cause up next is the Out-Crowd. They want you to dance your hearts out and your feet off. Two years ago tonight we were in shambles after our founding member Jace was killed. We played his tribute concert at Viscaya. These guys, led by Stu and Mike, stepped up to sing and dance when I was too devastated to go on. Now they’re stars on their own with Dave, Jazz, and John backing up Stu and Mike. It’s the Out-Crowd”
They started out with ‘Stand by Me,’ Stu sounding like a real adult, somehow carrying it off. They quickly moved into dance tunes. The kids were ready, after the romantic doo wop, to get out and dance.
After fifty minutes, the band needed a break. Punch was set up by the door to the music room. Unlike high school, the drinks were not spiked. A crowd surrounded Grant and his posse, as he took out a fresh spliff. I directed him and his new followers to the garage.
“Back of the bus, again,” he complained.
It was getting late. False Gods needed to go on by 11:20 in order to finish right at midnight, with Michael & Jenna’s love duet. I didn’t want to rush the Out-Crowd’s dance party, but I had to rescue them from the clutches of Grant’s pot den in the garage. I was standing with Jake and saw Mom Watt standing by herself. We crossed the lawn and I introduced Jake.
“Remind you of another party here?” I asked her about the time it was Stu debut.
“My youngest was no longer a little kid.”
“We miss you. No midnight sleepovers anymore.”
“I’m away at college. Now I’m in Hollywood doing work/study on a movie. This is Jake. We work together. He’s a composer.”
“My goodness. You never stay still, Tim. Hi Jake. I’m Tim’s # 10 mom.”
“Always #1. There is no second place in my heart,” I joshed.
Mom gave us a funny look. “Am I missing something?”
“Nothing we can talk about.”
“Oh, Tim. You always amaze me. Now I’m shocked.” My moms never miss noticing who I love.
“Don’t say anything to Jack.”
“Gosh, I wouldn’t but he’ll be devastated. He’s just a boy.”
“That’s the problem.”
She gave me a wry look of understanding and shook her head. I felt like crap. The truth does that. Jake just looked embarrassed. Time for the second half of the dance party.
“Wanna ‘shimmy shimmy’ with me?” I asked.
“I think I’ll dance with Jake.”
We all laughed and headed for the pit.
Jack appeared. We all shimmied together. It was time for the resurrection of False Gods.
We got together backstage. Michael and Robby glaring at each other was nothing new. Actually their tension always made us tighter, keeping it together. Hippie was sad that Anna and Little Greg were already home. After he had played the pot song with the Hillbilly Brothers, she left in a huff, swearing to pray for him.
“You’re let loose now. Go out and enjoy yourself.”
“Just no groupies. You can have ‘em. I hear you’re straight now.”
“Never believe what you hear.”
The Jacettes were practicing their moves with Jill, waiting in the wings to do her song about Jace. Everyone was rehearsed and ready. All we had to do was execute.
“I hope you enjoyed the dancing. Now, it’s time for the main attraction. Tim’s been my bestest friend since I was nine when he taught me I wasn’t stupid. He needed me to sing at the Jace tribute two years ago and now I’m a star. I owe it all to him. It’s my pleasure to introduce the world’s greatest rock n roll band, at least in Miami, False Gods.”
We trooped out with our guitars and the drummers set up at their kits. We broke into the intro to ‘Sgt Pepper.’
“Oh, I thought you wanted the greatest band in the world,” I yelled into the mic. “Except they broke up. We just were arrested and locked up. Hey, I’m 18 now, and I like it.” We went into the Alice Cooper cover
“We’re False Gods and grew up right here. This is what Miami’s about.”
‘Go deep to the South
When you can go no more
In the city trying to score
Come to our cool house
Bewildered by our drug
Whether it be love
Or just need of a hug
We’re free to meet the need
Miami’s here to serve
Keeps you safe and sound
Southern man beats you down
That’s what you deserve
Life too rough?
Take the time
Follow our sign
Girls are free
Jack your shit
Get into it.’
Both drummers ended with a crash. I looked up to see the shocked look on Jake’s face as he watched from the wings with Mom Watt.
“Heroin and cocaine makes a speed ball,
Dilaudin and codeine soften the fall,
Thorzine takes you away from me,
XTC and beer just make you queer.”
“Whiskey and ‘ludes make me real rude,
Acid and pot makes your brain rot,
PCP you forget about me,
Pills and beer chase away fears.”
It was short and sweet. The crowd didn’t know whether to cheer or just think about it.
We played it again, making sure they got the message. No regrets.
“There they go again. They’ve been worst friends since kindergarten. Here’s a song about how Michael finally stood up to Robby.”
‘Look before You Leap?’
Set you’re your buddy on fire,
Better buy a rug.
Send your friends to hell,
Better get a priest.
Beat up a bully,
Better get a gun.
Look before you leap
Better to say no
Then end up in a heap
No place to go.
Leap, leap, leap
You friggin’ freak
Leap, leap, leap
Strip and streak.”
Beat up your friend
Get new friends
Steal a new car
You won’t get far
Dis some sweet lass
A beating comes fast
Look before you leap
Better to say no
Then end up in a heap
No place to go.
Leap, leap, leap
You friggin’ freak
Leap, leap, leap
Strip and streak.”
Never been caught
All over town
Better than not.
Thrill’s in the chase
No time to waste
Folks on my case
All is in haste.
Waiting’s the worst
You were my first
I need you now
We’re on the prowl.
Back of an alley
Sprawled in the dirt
No time to dally
Who will cum first.
shaka shaka love?
‘shaka shaka love shaka shaka
Shaka shaka love shaka shaka.”
Makes a stand
To take his joy
Going hand to hand
Flying out free
Branch to branch
Through the trees
“Free to be
A monkey like me
Ha ha ha
He he he
Haw haw haw
Chee chee chee
I stayed on stage, jumping around and scratching myself. The surprise of the night was when Iggy launched himself from one of the Globe balconies, swinging like Tarzan on a rope. He landed in the pit and soon had everyone doing the monkeyshines. They all knew the moves. We kept playing and repeating the chorus.
I was tempted to bring him onstage and do his Stooges act but refrained from deviating from our set. Iggy was running around the pit congratulating himself.
“Thank you, Iggy, and your Detroit reprise of the Stooges. It makes me thankful I’m from Miami. Of course, I had to run away to Iowa to escape Juvie. Here’s a song from my band there with my twin sisters. We called ourselves The Triplets and this songs’ about having two moms.”
‘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’ll just keep on truckin’
Triples better than two
We got two moms
We don’t need dads
Our lives are songs
So we won’t be sad’
“I love Iowa but it has its downfalls, like winter. It makes it hard to get along, being stuck inside for months on end”
“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 look like fools
I really need…. you…
I say, …you..”
“Then there was the football team. They were cool until ol’ Jack showed up announcing himself as my boyfriend. Those footballers and we had a little set-to on New Year’s last year. After the dust cleared, with five men down, they decided to like us after all.”
“Don’t fuck with me”
‘Don’t fuck with me
Might take ya down
Gots ta be free
See me git wound
Hate sees me seethe
Can’t seem to breathe
Yer arms on me
I gots ta be free.
Get outta my face
This ain’t the place
To make a stand
To be a man
Your nose I’ll crunch
My knockout punch
Will put ya down
Yer out cold bound.’
‘We rushed in where angels feared to tread
They gave up hope, gave us up for dead
Our memory lingers on eternally
From the abyss we heard Lucifer’s plea
But we too wanted a world of our own
Dreamed of ruling from a throne
We ran away from them to see
How we’ll be happy for eternity
We are false god,
We are false gods
We found this world so meek and blind
We stand here laughing at your kind
You cynical fools don’t understand
Fall to your knees useless man
This world so full of flaws
Facades and miracles applause
Eulogized not despised
We are false gods
We are false gods
From up the hill we hear your pleas
Bring us presents, fall to your knees
Pray and speak in semaphores
Sacrifice your hallowed sheep
Pitiful slugs that you are
Dance and sing around the fire
Arms waving all around
We’re so happy
This world we’ve found
Omnipotent beneficence astounds your broken minds
You’re just like toys
We’ve made our minds to be
We are false gods
We are false gods
We will live eternally
To hear your painful screams
Just wait 20 years or so
You will know just what we mean
“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.
Look at me, you havta scream.
You think we be freakin’
You gotta be fast to not be seen.
No wonder we’re always sneakin’’
Our fans loved us. Jake was smiling at me. It was time to credit where it was due.
“It’s time to remember two years ago when we celebrated the life of our inspiration, Jace, killed too soon by his evil brother. Com’n out, Jill. Our muse has written a song in Jace’s honor. She and her boyfriend, David Wilkie, were the first people to accept Jace and me as boyfriends. David won two gold medals at the Olympics, by the way.”
“Jace was such a sweet boy,” she explained. “We were devastated after what happened to him. To learn that it had been happening for a long time makes me so sad. But Jace wasn’t about to be sad. He had Tim and his band mates. They spread the joy that came from making music together.”
Jill and I sang a duet.
‘Two years gone
Memories linger on
A face not to replace
A life not to waste
You stole my heart,
I got your soul
You make me bold
We’ll never part
Our time was short
We stood our ground
Rock was our sound
Life we did report
Two years gone
But I have found
You’re still around
You just linger on.
Jace you have a place
I long to see you face
My heart skips its beat
Dancing attacks my feet.”
As soon as she started to sing, photos of Jace were projected on the side walls. The other girls were singing doo wop backing vocals. Seeing the familiar yet lost face made me gulp. I couldn’t go on. Jill was right there to hold me and hold the song together.
Once we finished, I told Michael to get off his drums and join Jenna at the mic.
“These two love birds make me know there’s hope for love. They’re going to do two songs for each other. It’s getting close to midnight. Take my advice, get close to the one you want to be with for the countdown to a midnight kiss.”
Michael and Jenna did an a Capella version of the Carpenters’ ‘We’ve Only Just Begun.’
They followed up with ‘Close to You’
As they finished, Tommy ran out with the Chinese gong, pointing to his watch, with 24 seconds to go until midnight. He hit the gong every two seconds, as everyone counted down. There was lots of scurrying among the youngsters, finding their perfect partner. I looked over and saw Jake smiling at me. I winked at him, just as Jack tackled me with a big hug. Hippie looked lost, with Anna gone home. He quickly had his cohort of adoring ladies, still the groupie king, and still blushing bright red. Tommy’s girlfriend jumped up on stage and flew into his arms as he rung the twelfth and final gong. It was 1977.
“Time to go home. Thanks Antoni….” I was interrupted by choruses of ‘No.’
We’re still in our youth
But we have our ken
That these lives are ours
And they don’t belong to them
We’re having fun doing what we like
Then they come around and take away our rights
Makers of trouble
Wild and insane
Just because we’re young
We’re the ones to blame
The time has come
They’re telling us to leave
They’re pushing us around
So we gotta leave the streets
The streets are our domain
So they come and give us pain
But what gives you the right
To come blow out my light
But since I’m having fun
You’re gonna make me fight
And I just wanna say
Curfew must not ring tonight
For the first time I drove the tempo at a much faster pace. Hippie was lost at first but caught up, smiling that I had challenged his bass pace. Robby was wacked out but Michael kept the beat going, allowing Robby to continue furious rolls and high hat banging. Tommy jumped into the crowd of his Lauderdale fans, pushing and shoving anyone nearby. The pit was a swirl of thrashing teenagers. The adults moved further back and the remaining kids rushed forward. I caught Jake looking aghast from back stage at the chaos. This was not the controlled music for which he had trained all his life. I winked at him, as he shook his head.
“No!” the kids yelled.
“Let’s hear from our friend Tom Petty and his new band. He led the charge at breaking down the fences at the Skynyrd concert. He’s a Southern Rocker to the core. This song is my personal statement song, ‘Won’t Back Down.’”
“Com’n over here, Jack,” I ordered him after we finished. “You came to my work in Hollywood. Some asshole called us faggots. I beat the crap out of ‘im. What did you say?”
“You’re So Bad,” he answered.
“Git up here, Tom,” I ordered Tommy to get back on stage with us. We sat on the front, as Jimmy joined us. “Tell everyone how this guy saved yer ass from yer e-vil brother.”
Jimmy became the interviewer with a live mic. “Hi, Tommy. Things are sure changed since I met you in the Lauderdale Hospital.”
“Your stories in the papers saved me from a life of misery. Now I gots good foster folks and these are all my friends here to cheer on Huck, my best friend ever, and his band. All ‘cause y’all wrote ‘bouts my travails in Juvie.”
“Tell us how ya met Tim.”
“Well, I’s always bin callin’ ‘im Huck, after we runs away from the e-vil Juvie prison by Alligator Alley and lived like Tom & Huck in Huckleberry Finn by Mr. Mark Twain.”
“Why’dcha havta run away?”
“That juvie justice was worse’n e-vil. They’s puttin’ older boys in with me and other kids. We was all 11, 12 & 13. Them ol’ boys was molestin’ us kids every night. The first night ol’ Huck showed up, he beat up 3 of them molesters and protected us from then on. But that Program was abusin’ us in other ways. We got whipped and when sum one refused to give in, they was shipped off to the crazy farm fer life. Huck he’s my hero, but even he gots attacked by the guards. We couldn’t take it no more and escaped over the fence. That was the beginnin’ of our ad-ventures, which I call ‘The Legend of ‘Gatoraurus.’”
“I bet yer friends already heard that once or twice,” Jimmy stated. The Lauderdale kids all nodded vigorously. “But how ‘bout tellin’ ever-one else here tonight?”
“I’s always glad to tell ‘bout Huck. I love ‘em like no one other. Don’t care what y’all thinks. He’s my hero. You, too, Jimmy fer writin’ about me, so I’s ‘scaped that e-vil juvie injustice system.”
“That’s my job, Tommy. Yer a hero, too. For exposin’ the corruption and savin’ future kids from its evil ways. But how ‘bout y’all tell us ‘bout them four months in the Everglades.”
Tommy turned to crowd and began to spin his tale.
“Now y’all knows about my friend, Huck here. I guess he’s real famous now. But before all that, he was my hero. This tale’s ‘bout a mighty large ‘gator we knowed that summer when we was livin’ it up in the Everglades. It’s a big swamp in South Florida near where I’s always lived. So’s I’s pleased to be tellin’ this story dedicated to ol’ Huck, my hero.
The kids and the adults started laughing at Tommy’s accent and grammar. By the time his introduction was done, most everyone was laughing. He felt they weren’t laughing at him but were liking his story. I was strumming the chords to ‘Crocodile Rock.’
“‘Gatorsaurus, he’s both a curse an’ a blessing fir our ‘scape from juvie. We jist hadta git outta that place. They was condemnin’ boys to the state mental hospital for not followin’ they’s rules. It were hell. Ta tell ya the truth, I’s scared of ‘gators when we slipped over the fence that dark and moonless night. They never guarded the back of that prison camp as ever’one knows there’s ‘gators out there that as soon ‘et ya as not. Ol’ Huck, he hadda hold my hand. I’s petrified I’s ‘bout ta be ‘et. Soon’s they knowed we’d ‘scaped they let the hounds out ta track us down. They was a’bayin’ and a’howlin’ on our trail until that ol’ “Gatorsaurus, he leapt inta action. Jist a few bites and them hounds was a’whinin’ and a’cryin’ ta git home. Guess that ‘gator he ‘et ‘nuff hounds ‘cause he let us go rather than have a second course of runaway boys. We’s a‘scaped. The next days was pure labor. Huck had me workin’ like an ol’ slave setting up camp and learnin’ hows to caitch catfish in the swamp wid jist ma bare hands. I taught him how to spot wild rice, jist like I’d seen at my granddaddy’s farm up state. We’s even found wild chickens fer eggs ta make fish chowder. I’s ‘fraid o’ that ol’ rooster ‘tills Huck kicked ‘im in the head. We’s havin’ so much fun, we plumb firgot ‘bout ol ‘Gatorsaurus. After a hot day’s work setting up camp and gittin’ food, we was a’splashin’ and a’goofin’ around in the water, havin’ a blast. Suddenly Ol’ Huck’s eyes gots real big and he screamed “’Gator,” over my shoulder. I’s so scared I jist jumped right inta his arms. As he turned to run. I seen them two eyes with ugly, scaly bumps behinds them a’swimmin’ right at me. I’s a’kickin’ ol’ Huck ta hurry up as we scurried away toward the swamp bank and safety. Sure ‘nuff, Huck git there a’fore that ol’ ‘gator. We lay there a’laffin’ ‘til I hads ta go see that ol’ ‘gator lookin’ hungry from missin’ his dinner. I’s throwin’ rocks at his ugly face. That ‘gator don’t cotton much ta bein’ mocked. Up the bank ‘Gatotsaurus comes. His feets going 80 miles an hour. I screamed like a girl an’ Huck, he grabbed me again, throwing me up on a tree’s branch. But ol’ ‘Gatorsaurus, he don’t give up. He’s charging right at Huck. Huck jist jumped up on that crazy ‘gators head and bounced into the tree, with ‘Gatorsaurus’s jaws snappin’ at his heels. Huck pulls me up to his branch and we’s sittin’ there naked as jailbirds, like we really was, laughing again at ‘Gatorsaursus. That ‘gator, he don’t like bein’ laffed at. With hundreds of slobber-covered teeth he attacked that tree, trying ta bring it down. “Gator must be stupid to be so stubborn. He looked like an ol’ dinosaur, 28 feet long, with scales oozing green slime covering his back and bugs living on the slime. He snorted water out his nostrils, lookin’ like a dragon breathin’ out fire and stinky sulfur. We knowed not ta mock that ol’ ‘gator no more. It took more’n two hours fir ‘Gatorsaurus to finally give up on ‘etin’ us fir dinner. He swum away and never bothered us a’gin. Huck tells me that ‘gators got big noses so’s they smells everythin.’ I figure ol’ Gatorsaurus never did come back ‘cause ol’ Huck, he smelled real bad.”
I finished the song on guitar. Tommy stood up and bowed. The crowd had been laughing non-stop for several minutes. He got a standing ovation. All the other players ran out from backstage. I pulled Jill and the Jacettes up to the mic. We had to do one last encore. I whispered to Jill, “Rod Stewart, ‘my lover, my best friend.’” She sighed, missing Wilkie badly, and then gave me a kiss. I was a lucky stand-in for our Olympic champ.
“Well, we didn’t think you’d still want more. But I know our Rod Stewart fan, Jill, wants to send out a song to her hero, Olympic gold medal winner and U of Miami swimmer, David Wilkie.”
We got another cheer. I picked up my guitar to accompany everyone on stage and in the audience, singing along with Jill.
Everyone was swaying to the slow ballad. Jack and Tommy were on either side of Jill, the boy magnet. The adults in the audience had moved up front, mixing with the kids. No more thrashing about. The pit swayed back and forth.
We were done. Jake came running out, hugging me. “You have stolen my heart,” he admitted. “No one I’ve ever seen beats the show you just put on.”