The next few days we repeat our rehearsals as the Globe Theater show takes shape. On Thursday night, Mummy arranges for Father Frank to bring Jack’s protégée Ann for dinner, which gives me an excuse to skip out. Jake is due to arrive. I feel my cheating is less sinful with Jack entertaining a potential girlfriend. I call Jake and arrange to meet him at his hotel in the Grove. I’m worked up about seeing him and grateful that Jack is otherwise occupied and can’t see my amped-up libido.
I’m waiting for him in the hotel lobby when the airport limo arrives. I try to act mature by not rushing into his arms, but even a simple hug starts me purring again. I’m hopeless. Jake finds it cute. It takes us no time to strip and hit the king-size bed in his room. He is masterful at calming me, keeping my excitement just on the edge of my point of no return. I’m not concerned with premature ejaculation, just worrying about 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 is in charge.
I push him back onto the bed and impale myself on his stiff dick, bouncing on him like a rodeo bull-riding contestant. He smiles as my ass brings him to orgasm and mine sprays all over us as I feel 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 cleans us off, although I never lose my hard-on. As we wander around the Grove, checking out restaurants, Jake keeps laughing at the head of my dick sticking above my waist band. At least my shirt keeps it (mostly) covered. Forgetting Jake is twice their age, I drag him to Jill and David Wilkie’s apartment, proud to show off my studly new boyfriend. Jill welcomes us, although David is still in England.
“After the Olympics, he’s been too busy to come back,” she gives me a sad smile.
“How’d he do?” I haven’t been following swim news.
“You don’t know?” she’s incredulous.
“What? Is everything okay. You didn’t break up, did you?”
She laugh. “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 laugh. “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 repeat my claim that I’m not totally gay.
“I’ll bet it’s more like they have you only when you have the time to pay attention.”
She knows me well.
All three of us go out to eat, having seafood at a restaurant she knows. It’s divine. She admits how much she misses Wilkie, who is now the indentured servant to the British Olympic Committee. He plans to return and finish his degree, but she’s worried he belongs to the world now. I tell her how I promised to return to Harvard after the movie is done.
“You’re at Harvard?” she laughs.
“Yeah. Ain’t that the shits?” I laugh back.
Back at the hotel, Jake admits he’d been worried she’d want to spend the night with us.
“She is lonely, but she’s too old for me,” I claim.
He just looks at me and shakes his head. Then he dives at me across the bed, not ready to have me talk about how old he is. Our dicks didn’t care about age differences. It’s time for prolonged fucking. I teach him the trick I first used with Tommy on our Panther night of love. We tease each other by alternating who’s the top until someone gets too close to orgasm, then we switch positions. It goes on so long and my balls are so blue, I wonder if I damaged them. The purring starts quickly, but so far no vibrating, shaking, or shuttering. Finally we both sit up with our legs around each other and our cocks mindlessly rubbing and thrusting at each other. We hug tightly as our dicks tell us how to get off simultaneously. I fountain first and Jake joins me before I’m done. Laying together afterward, I suggest we call housekeeping for new sheets. He draws me close and kisses my eyes shut. As I fall asleep, a nagging thought reminds me I’m forgetting something but it’s too late. I wake up in the early dawn and remember what I should have done – be home for Jack’s arrival to my bedroom. It’s too late now. Was I ready to confess my cheating ways. My heart checks to see if Jack’s heart is open without a response. All I can hope is he waited for me at his house. I jumped on my bike (still without a car) and pedal home. Max is waiting for me, upset that I failed to take him to Robby’s. I tell him that it is strictly a habit for him. A ghost can’t absorb pot. He growls. Winston is on alert and comes running up my stairs.
“What are you doing?” he asks.
“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 seems to satisfy him. My heart is rapidly beating from the anxiety that it has to confess my cheating. He doesn’t suspect a thing. He tells me to come over and have breakfast.
Tommy calls to say he’s working on his tall tale. He will be late for rehearsal. At least somebody takes our performance seriously. Everyone else meets at Michael’s by noon. While the Out-Crowd is running through their repertoire of dance oldies, Jack and I sit working on the lyrics and chords for a new song.
‘Two years gone
You 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 work on his song, Jace sits with us smiling, not wanting to add to what we felt about him. Jill walks in. I’m stunned to see Jake with her. I calm my shocked heart which is beating a mile a minute.
“Hi guys,” I casually greet them. “We’re writing the perfect song for you to sing about Jace. It’s totally Rod Stewart.” I show her the lyrics.
I turn to Jake, “Meet my boyfriend, Jack. Jack, this is Jake, the composer. I invited him to come see our performance.”
They nod at each other. Jack put on his charm. “Tim says you’re using opera for the frat movie.”
“It is a Greek frat,” Jake jokes.
“Cool. Welcome to Miami.”
They smile. Jack goes back to trying chords for the new song.
I spoke to Jill, “What do you think?” as I sing 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 retreading 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 has the chords he wants. I play leads as Jill sing to Jack’s rhythm chords. It sounds sweet.
“We’ll play it after Michael and Jenna do their love song duet,” I decide.
“Is that how you write a song. Everyone just adds what they want?” Jake is 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 explain. “This song has taken about ten minutes to write because we knew exactly how we feel about him.”
Jack changes the tempo of the music so it is less of a Rod Stewart love ballad and more of an anthem. Jill smiles as she sings it again to the new chords.
“Welcome to pop music where if you don’t like something, you just move on,” I tell 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 notes as we walk past a running fountain in the courtyard.
“I’d love to see the Alhambra, ‘Scheherazade,’” Jack effuses, always ready to be a tourist.
We are back in the music room. Jake sees Mike Sr.’s double bass against a wall. He looks at it longingly, needing to join in our musical zoo. Michael nods it’s okay. Running his fingers over the strings to assure it s in tune, Jake starts playing the intro to Rimsky Korsakov’s Scheherazade
Jack runs over to his MOOG and plays along. We all listen, although the Out-Crowd looks none too pleased to be listening to a lesson in classical music. Jack is going off on the violin solo. Jake puts down the double bass and goes over to observe how the MOOG electronically converts the notes into different instruments. Jack lets him try, while the rest of us are glad to return to old rock n roll. The two of them discuss the settings. Jake fiddles with the knobs and sliders, trying to get a purer cello sound. I observe Jace working with him as they create their own sound, just as Jace had done with Minehan. Jack comes over and picks up his guitar. We are ready to rehearse. Jake puts on headphones so as to not disturb us rockers.
“He’s interesting,” Jack whispers. “Kinda old but he doesn’t seem set in his ways, at least.”
A true teenager’s compliment.
Tommy shows up, distracting Jack from his actual competition. I relax. Tommy has been working on the Mark Twain tall tale and wants to recite what he memorized. We all tak ea break as he adjusted the mic.
“Here goes,” he announces.
‘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 is eating it up after the boring classical music. They’re laughing and repeating fractured words. Tommy has 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 cheer Tommy. He stands there grinning, finally making a bow and walking away from the mic. All that counts is he’s now part of the performance. We’ll come on after him. He can do his off-key ‘sail aways’ and ‘who do you loves’ on ‘One Toke Over the Line.’ It’s time for the Hillbilly Brothers to practice.
Hippie is ready to do his stage strutting. Robby refuses to go country. Dave jumps on his kit. Jack and I play and sing with Tommy coming in as backup. The Jacettes think it fun to pinch him as they join us on backups. Then Tommy surprised\s us with his version of Dr Hook’s ‘The Cover of the Rolling Stone.’
It doesn’t require much melodic singing as it tells the tale of fame and fortune as a rock n roller. I back up Tommy in his dialogue of the need to be on the cover of the Rolling Stone:
‘Well we’re big rock singers
we got golden fingers
And we’re loved everywhere we go
(That sounds like us)
We sing about beauty
and we sing about truth
At ten million dollars a show
We take all kinda pills
That give us all kinda thrills
But the thrill we’ve never known
Is the thrill that it gets ya
when you get your picture
On the cover of the Rolling Stone
I’m gonna see my picture on the cover
Gonna buy five copies for my mother
Gonna see my smiling face
On the cover of the Rolling Stone
I got a freaky old lady named Cocaine Katie
Who embroiders on my jeans
I got my poor old gray-haired Daddy
Driving my limousine.
Now it’s all designed to blow our minds,
But our minds won’t really be blown
Like the blow that’ll getcha
When you get your picture
On the cover of the Rolling Stone’
ongwriters: SHEL SILVERSTEIN
© T.R.O. INC.
We end with the Dead’s ‘Truckin’
Robby can’t help himself and is passing the joints around. The Out-Crowd finally gives in to John’s entreaties that they try pot. That is the end of rehearsal as the 15-year-olds can’t ‘maintain’ and are totally disruptive. Stu is especially hyper, promising me that he’ll never tell his mom now that he’s a stoner. I won’t hold him to that promise. Mom Watt will be able to handle it, as long as he promises ‘never again.’ Jill and Jake sit and watch the ensuing chaos. I realize that the show will go on, regardless of how well we prepare. I take Tommy out and show him the Globe replica. He ‘s 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 pull him into a hug. He melts into me. The moment passes when ol’ Jack-Off catches us.
We both laugh at his sour expression. He laughs too, but comes over and separates us.
“Don’t need ta throw me under the bus this time. We’s jist relivin’ old times,” Tommy isn’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 marches off to inform my secret lover that he’s coming to dinner.
“Wanna come to dinner at Jack’s castle?” I ask Tommy.
“Hell, no. I gots ta practice my speech.” He goes off to find Stu and have dinner there.
The mini-concert is well received. Mummy is concerned that I’ve been left out.
“I’m glad Jack is finding different interests. He needs to branch out and test his wings,” I reply to her concerns.
Jill also comes and is talking with Daddy about Wilkie’s success and the change in his life after winning the Olympics. Daddy asks Jake how he feels about Rimsky-Korsakov’s nationalistic politics in the late 19th Century.
“I compare him to Wagner,” Jake answers. “His music is 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 is sparking the conversation.
“Let’s avoid speaking about Nazi’s.” Mummy puts 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 exclaims. Mummy looks relieved when Isabelle announces dinner.
Jake is seated next to me, whispering, “Why is there an empty seat? Is someone missing?”
“Is something wrong?” Mummy asks, concerned that Jake is breaking her no whispering at the table rule.
“Jake is asking about Jace’s place setting,” I announce. “He met Jace today but didn’t realize it.”
“How’s that?” Jake asks.
“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 tries to explain.
“I don’t really believe in ghosts,” Jake is skeptical.
“How about being divinely inspired?” I offer.
“That’s so 19th Century.”
“I’m Jewish. Jesus hasn’t come up yet.”
“Teen Jesus is Jewish, too,” I announce Jace’s conversion.
“Well, I’m glad that is all settled,” Mummy invokes the no controversy at dinner rule.
I raise my glass, “To our hostess, Mummy to us all.”
“To Mummy,” everyone echoes my toast.
Mummy raises her glass and counters, “To those who are missing tonight. David Wilkie, our Olympic hero, and Jace Conning, an inspiration for all faiths.”
After dinner, Jill joins 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 insist that Mummy join us by the pool. As always, she takes a shine to Jill. We describe the shopping spree with our girlfriends. Jill is surprised at this development, wondering if it means we were less passionate about each other. Mummy is all ears.
“We’re trying to be normal at college,” Jack explains.
“Do the girls know you’re together?”
“We thought the parents would be pleased that their daughters were dating gay boys.”
Jill laughs. “How did that go.”
“You really are freshman, aren’t you,” Jill observes.
“Where did we go wrong?” I ask.
“You’re doing fine. Don’t expect parents to fall for your guileless tricks.”
“That’s for sure.”
I walk Jill and Jake out to her car.
“Coming with me?” Jake asks hopefully.
“It can’t be that obvious yet,” I moan.
“Your boyfriend’s parents really like you.”
“If only they knew.”
“You’re the perfect beard,” Jake announces.
“What’s that?” I ask about gay terminology I haven’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 kiss Jill goodnight, turning to Jake who whisks me out of sight from the house. He’s as passionate as ever. I start to vibrate.
“Come to my room once Jack’s asleep,” Jake whispers.
I realize I can tell Jack I went home to walk Winston, my perfect excuse.
Sleeping with Jack is an exercise in practiced passion and hidden restraint. He loves that he thinks he makes me vibrate. He takes it as permission to violate and ravish me. By the time we both cum, he’s vibrating too. I lay in his arms purring. He goes instantly to sleep. I can’t stop the shuddering and shaking. He turns away from my jerking body. I cuddle up next to him, purring and experiencing random bouts of shaking. I finally get up and take a shower, after which I kiss him on the forehead and leave. Riding my bike to the Grove, I feel fifteen again. I’ll never get a car in Miami. Even Tommy has a car, Auntie Em’s. I am so retarded.
I knock softly on Jake’s hotel door. He pulls me into an embrace. I stop trying to control the vibrations. That giving in feeling at the base of my stomach engulfs me. I sigh and let Jake ravish me. I cum three times before he finally explodes deep inside me. We settle into the bed. After several minutes I slip out of bed and start to get dressed. Jake will have none of it. He backs me up against the balcony door.
“I love fucking standing up,” he whispers in my ear. I throw my arms and legs around him as he pushes me against the glass door. Licking my ear, he whispers how hot I am. I reach for his straining dick and place it against my asshole, pulsing with anticipation. He impales me, stroking in and out. I’m squealing in lust each time he hits my prostrate gland. Pre-cum leaks all over our stomachs.
“You’re insatiable,” he whisper. “Cross your ankles and squeeze.”
He jerks each time I squeeze. My whole body shakes uncontrollably, bouncing up and down on his hips. My arms lock around his neck keeping his lips away from mine. Arching he cums deep inside me again, breaking my arm lock. His lips encircled mine, with his tongue thrusting into my mouth. My body goes slack yet still vibrating. My legs slip off his thrusting hips. He clasps me around my back and lowers me to the rug. Throwing my legs over his elbows he proceeds to fuck the crap out of me (not literally). I quickly cum and lay back enjoying his ride into the sunset. It’s a gallop. His thrusts back me against the wall. I’m a ball of seizing, vibrating, shaking, purring delirium. I barely realize that he’s cumming. His thrusts stop as I continued to writhe on the floor. He passively rides out my seizure. We lie there, wrapped tightly together as I continue to purr. Ripples of vibrations pass through my body. The purring lulls Jake into sleep. I fell into a well of waves washing over me in the ocean. His dick is my anchor, still hard inside me.
Jake wakes me some time later. I panic that it’s already morning, but no light comes through the balcony door. I move away to go home.
“You can’t leave,” he begs, jumping up to stop me.
We spin around naked. He shoves me against the balcony door. On his knees he lathers my anal ring and quickly impales me again. His hand shoves my face against the glass door, as he brutally thrusts into me again and again. I’m completely passive. My dick barely twitches. He is done in less than a minute. I never felt so completely dominated before. As he pulls out, the shaking starts again. He picks me up, laying me on the empty bed, and strokes my head and shoulders to calm me down. All I can think is how I have to get home before Jack wakes up and misses me.
“I have to leave,” I croak, rising from the bed. My clothes are spread all over the room. Still shaking, I struggle to pick up my jeans and tee-shirt. The effort exhausts me. Jake helps me get dressed.
“That was so wonderful,” he gushes.
“Not too much?” I murmur more to myself than to him.
I quickly push away from him. I can barely move, hoping we’re done. His dick tells me otherwise. Always leave them wanting more. It was Coach Earl’s dictum for ending practice.
I rush out the door, grabbing my bike and pedaling as fast as I can go. The church bell struck the hour. I’m desperately hoping it isn’t too late. After it stops at four rings, I relax. The vibrating settles down. Only the purring continues. Max wakes up and growls at me as I flop on my own bed. I laugh at how exciting cheating is. I fell asleep before thinking about walking Winston
I open my eyes to find Jack sitting on my bed. A sinking feeling wakes me up, knowing he’s there for morning delight.
“How come you left?” he asks.
“I came to walk Winston but it was too early for him. I just fell asleep. You wore me out,” I lie. My heart detects no concern in Jack’s heart.
We walk Max and Winston to Robby’s back yard. He tosses out two joints and tells us to not wake him up. Jack refrains from getting high so early, thankfully waiting to amp up his sex drive. I give Max a shotgun and pick up a second-hand high. I calm down. I leave Winston at the house and ride with Max in Jack’s pink Cabriolet to his house for breakfast.
“Let’s shower together,” he tells me. “You stink.” Max barks in agreement. I wondered if it’s sex stink or guilt stink. Probably both. After lathering up I give Jack head, fearful of him attacking my ravished butt. After eating breakfast, I insist we lay in the hot tub, to recover some flexibility down there.
Jack is full of ideas about the evening’s show. He wants Tommy to play guitar as he recites his Mark Twain anecdote.
“He doesn’t know how to play,” I note.
“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 contact Jace who is navigating Tommy, driving Auntie Em’s car from Ft Lauderdale. I visualize Tommy as a 14-year-old behind the wheel. I still can’t believe he’s sixteen. They show up before noon. Jack revels in showing Tommy his mansion of a house. The boy is easily impressed. We hadn’t anticipated that he’s bringing his gang of sophomore boys and his girlfriend to hear him perform that night. Soon we have a pool party of ghetto kids jumping in and out of the pool in their soggy boxers. Mummy soon appears, taking charge by directing the kids to the pool cabana where more appropriate attire is provided. Isabelle makes BLTs and grilled cheese sandwiches for everyone. Soon we’re 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 have a group of their swim team friends there. The groups quickly meld into one gang of raucous teens. Michael’s house is invaded. Michael has them all convene in the garage – out of sight, out of mind.
Jace takes Tommy in hand and has him strumming an acoustic guitar. Under firm guidance, Tommy soon sounds competent enough to perform. Complimenting him on his newly found talent, I tell Tommy he was now going to play on the Hillbilly Brothers set. He’s ecstatic.
The show is scheduled to start at 8 pm, but by six there are so many kids crowded into the music room, thanks to word-of-mouth and Jack’s flyer, that Mrs. Antonio sets out a huge pot of spaghetti with buckets of her special marinara sauce to feed the masses. I laugh at Tommy’s face, half covered in sauce. As I wipe it off, Jack is right there to supervise. No fooling around with the high schooler allowed. Little does he know who he really is competing with.
Mike Sr. suggests that his jazz quartet start earlier than planned as many in the adult audience are already enjoying cocktails at the Globe replica. I ask Jake if he and Jack want to repeat the Rimsky-Korsakov ‘Scheherazade.’
He smiles, “I hoped you’d let me play. I went to Spec’s and rented a cello.’ He had been speaking with Mike Sr. Jack is glad to show his chops on the MOOG. I leave the kids in the music room enjoying their meal, and set up the mic on the Globe stage. There are so many adults at the cocktail party, no one notices me until I speak 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 are surprised to be treated to music of their liking instead of raucous rock. Jake walks out from off-stage with his cello, sitting on a chair in the front of the stage. Jack follows, standing where his MOOG is set up. They receive polite applause and commence the piece’s prelude.
Jack smiles at me as he plays the love song. I feel so guilty. The audience return to their drinks, politely listening without the cocktail chatter. After fifteen minutes of recital, Jake finishes with a flourish. I step 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. leads his friends out. He asks Jake to sit in, making it a quintet. Now I’m getting a big grin from my other lover. We plan for them to play for at least an hour. Waiters circulated among the guests, refilling drinks and offering hors d’oeuvres. The guests begin chatting quietly, making the Globe seem like a typical cocktail bar. I return to the kids in the music room, who are oblivious to the performance already started.
Tommy is a bundle of nervous energy. Having to perform in front of his friends from high school is throwing him off his game. I take him back to the garage to bolster his confidence. We walk in on Grant and his posse. Clyde instantly spots me.
“That yer new boyfriend, lover?”
“Naw. He’s too old for me.”
It’s what Tommy needs. He can 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 decides to try out his tale spinning on Grant’s posse. It doesn’t take long before the boys are laughing and repeating his phraseology. Tommy’s confidence soars. It’s time to make our entrance. I have Grant’s boys go to the music room and get the kids to join us at the Globe Theater. From off-stage I catch Mike Sr.’s eye, giving him the cut signal to end their performance. They are ready after an hour of Duke Ellington and Dave Brubeck. They get a nice hand as they pick up their instruments and exit the stage.
“Looky here, 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 are streaming into the backyard from the music room. Tommy’s friends from Lauderdale, seeing him up on stage entertaining the adults, rush down front to cheer their boy on. The rest of the kids follow and most of the adults move 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 reaches down and picks up the acoustic guitar, strumming away as the Mark Twain tall tale is spun. Spontaneously he decides 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 keeps strumming and proceeds 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 look shocked. The adults aren’t sure they heard it right. The teenagers just shake their heads in dismay. Dave comes out and jumps on the drum set. Hippie hook up his bass, smiling and winking at Anna and Little Greg. John brings my guitar and hooks us both up. We’re ready for country rock.
“Where’s Robby?” I yell. “This songs for you. ‘One Toke over the Line, Sweet Jesus.’
The Jacettes run out and keep Tommy on key for the ‘who do you love’s and the ‘sail away’s’
Robby is in the back, glowering at me, not willing to light up.
“I guess Robby’s not holding. How ‘bout it, Grant?”
We proceed to play several Grateful Dead songs.
As the mellow weed odor wafts over the adults in the back, there’s a mass exit for the supper Mrs. Antonio has laid out in the dining room. The true jazz freaks stay with hopeful looks on their faces for their lost youth. Tommy gets all teary after having played several songs. He stops playing and put his arms around me, swaying as we sing, just as we had done at the old Sawgrass Campground. John stops playing and has an arm around me from the other side.
“Guess this is the signal for baby makin’” I quip. “Com’n here Grant. You and your posse is on.”
I grab Dave, running back to the music room where the other Out-Crowd members are waiting their turn.
“Why are the black kids playing?” Stu is afraid they’ve been bumped.
“No worries, Champ. They’re warming up the kids for your dance party.”
They surround Tommy, telling him how great he was. He already knows. Mike Jr. has everyone gather round, pumping up for their set. I join Jake at the side. He is enjoying our musical revue, from classical to rock, from 1880 to 1977.
“You are a showman,” He compliments me.
“Wait until we actually play our music after the kids are danced out,” I want his approval of my music.
He has that ‘I want you’ look. I drag him off to one of Michael & Jenna’s secret make out spots. He has me purring again. I break away, afraid I’ll lose it on stage. As I pull away, Jake just smiles. It doesn’t take much to satisfy him.
It’s time to introduce the Out-Crowd. They’re crowded behind stage. I give Grant the cut sign. They bow and jump 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 start out with ‘Stand by Me,’ Stu sounding like a real adult, somehow carrying it off. Next Stu acts like a 50-year-old man, going the Big Bopper’s Chantilly Lace.
After fifty minutes, the band needs a break. Punch is set up by the door to the music room. Unlike high school, the drinks are not spiked. A crowd surrounds Grant and his posse, as he takes out a fresh spliff. I direct him and his new followers to the garage.
“Back of the bus, again,” he complains.
It’s getting late. False Gods needs to go on by 11:20 in order to finish right at midnight, with Michael & Jenna’s love duet. I don’t want to rush the Out-Crowd’s dance party, but I have to rescue them from the clutches of Grant’s pot den in the garage. I’m standing with Jake and see Mom Watt standing by herself. We cross the lawn and I introduce Jake.
“Remind you of another party here?” I ask 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 in 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 josh.
Mom gives 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 gives me a wry look of understanding and shakes her head. I feel like crap. The truth does that. Jake just looks embarrassed. Time for the second half of the dance party.
“Wanna ‘shimmy shimmy’ with me?” I ask.
“I think I’ll dance with Jake.”
We all laugh and head for the pit.
Jack appears. We all shimmy together. It’s 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 is sad that Anna and Little Greg are 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 are practicing their moves with Jill, waiting in the wings to do her song about Jace. Everyone is rehearsed and ready. All we have to do is 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 troop 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 yell into the mic. “Except they broke up. We just were arrested and locked up. Hey, I’m 18 now, and I like it.” We go 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 end with a crash. I look up to see the shocked look on Jake’s face as he watches from the wings with Mom Watt.
“Heroin and cocaine makes a speed ball,
Dilaudid and codeine soften the fall,
Thorazine takes you away from me,
Ecstasy 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’s short and sweet. The crowd doesn’t know whether to cheer or just think about it.
We play it again, making sure they get 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 stay on stage, jumping around and scratching myself. The surprise of the night is when Iggy launches himself from one of the Globe balconies, swinging like Tarzan on a rope. He lands in the pit and soon had everyone doing the monkeyshines. They all knew the moves. We keep playing and repeating the chorus.
I’m tempted to bring him onstage and do his Stooges act but refrained from deviating from our set. Iggy is 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 is 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 love us. Jake is smiling at me. It’s time to credit where it’s 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 explains. “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 sing the 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 starts to sing, photos of Jace are projected on the side walls. The other girls are singing doo wop backing vocals. Seeing the familiar yet lost face makes me gulp. I can’t go on. Jill is right there to hold me and hold the song together.
Once we finish, I tell 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 do an a Capella version of the Carpenters’ ‘We’ve Only Just Begun.’
They followed up with ‘Close to You’
As they finish, Tommy runs out with the Chinese gong, pointing to his watch, with 24 seconds to go until midnight. He hits the gong every two seconds, as everyone counts down. There is lots of scurrying among the youngsters, finding their perfect partner. I look over and see Jake smiling at me. I wink at him, just as Jack tackles me with a big hug. Hippie looks lost, with Anna gone home. He quickly has his cohort of adoring ladies, still the groupie king, and still blushing bright red. Tommy’s girlfriend jumps up on stage and flies into his arms as he rings the twelfth and final gong. It’s 1977.
“Time to go home. Thanks Antoni….” I’m 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 drive the tempo at a much faster pace. Hippie is lost at first but catches up, smiling that I challenged his bass pace. Robby is wacked out but Michael keeps the beat going, allowing Robby to continue furious rolls and high hat banging. Tommy jumps into the crowd of his Lauderdale fans, pushing and shoving anyone nearby. The pit is a swirl of thrashing teenagers. The adults move further back and the remaining kids rush forward. I catch Jake looking aghast from back stage at the chaos. This wi not the controlled music for which he trained all his life. I wink at him, as he shakes his head.
“No!” the kids yell.
“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 order 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 answers.
“Git up here, Tom,” I order Tommy to get back on stage with us. We sit on the front, as Jimmy joins us. “Tell everyone how this guy saved yer ass from yer e-vil brother.”
Jimmy becomes 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 states. 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 turns to crowd and begins 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 start laughing at Tommy’s accent and grammar. By the time his introduction is done, most everyone was laughing. He felt they weren’t laughing at him but were liking his story. I’m 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 gots big noses so’s they smells everythin.’ I figure ol’ Gatorsaurus never did come back ‘cause ol’ Huck, he smelled real bad.”
I finish the song on guitar. Tommy stands up and bowed. The crowd has been laughing non-stop for several minutes. He gets a standing ovation. All the other players run out from backstage. I pull Jill and the Jacettes up to the mic. We had to do one last encore. I whisper to Jill, “Rod Stewart, ‘my lover, my best friend.’” She sighs, missing Wilkie badly, and then gives me a kiss. I’m 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 get another cheer. I pick up my guitar to accompany everyone on stage and in the audience, singing along with Jill.
Everyone is swaying to the slow ballad. Jack and Tommy are on either side of Jill, the boy magnet. The adults in the audience move up front, mixing with the kids. No more thrashing about. The pit sways back and forth.
We’re done. Jake comes running out, hugging me. “You have stolen my heart,” he admits. “No one I’ve ever seen beats the show you just put on.”