Eighteen – Chapter 5 Part 1

 

“Hi, Mom,” I announce, walking into our Coral Gables kitchen on Thanksgiving Eve.

 

“Tim,” she cries, almost dropping the pie she was taking out of the oven.  I rush over and place the pie on a counter. Then I pick her up and swing her around with a big hug.

Winston rushes in and joins our huddle by jumping up on me. I bend down as Dad walks in, observing an actual family homecoming scene. He grew up knowing Norman Rockwell in Stockbridge well enough to be pleased by normality.

“This is a surprise,” is his reaction.

“You haven’t rented out my room, have you?” I laugh.

“We’re still airing it out. Maybe in 1977.”

“Home for the Holiday,” I announce.

“Don’t be too disappointed. We’re just going out, as usual,” Mom states.

Thinking about my holiday meals with Jace makes me gulp.

“How about we crash the Stone’s? Isabelle’s sure to put on a spread.”

“Oh, Tim, they have done too much for us already,” Mom is subbing for Dad in the standoffish attitude.

“Com’n, Mom. You love going to their mansion. Dad hates taking what he thinks is charity. The Stones are just being hospitable. You should’ve seen how uncomfortable Jack was, getting a free hot dog with all the homeless kids in Hollywood on Tuesday night. He ended up buying everyone their meals. The rich have their own problems, too. They see things differently from me and you.”

“Jack was in Hollywood? I thought Harvard separated you two,” Dad is up on our school problems.

“He thought we were breaking up. He rushed out. We made up and both came home for Thanksgiving. I’ll call the Stones to make sure we’re not imposing.”

“I’ll never get used to taking orders from you,” Dad grumps.

“Just payback for 15 years of being a good boy,” I crow.

 

I call and speak with Isabelle. She says Jack is on the way to my house. “Juanito tiene una sorpresa.”

What could be a better surprise than him wanting to be in my bed that night.

Soon I heard a beep-beep of a car horn outside. “I got my car,” he yells. “Let’s go to Michael’s.”

It’s a new pink VW Cabriolet convertible.  It couldn’t be any gayer.

“You’re taking that to Harvard?” I mock.

“No. It has to stay here in the Gables, Mummy’s rules.”
“Perfect for D&D outings,” I mock him.

“You don’t like it?”

“Of course I like it. I’m still riding my bike around here.  How come you got a convertible?”

“I insisted, so Jace can wave to everyone sitting up in back.”

“Well, we’ll have to go up to Tommy’s to get him,” I kid.

Jack’s face falls. “You ruin everything,” he complains.

“Jealousy rears its ugly head. Tommy’s in high school now. I bet he’s really matured.”

“You asshole. I’m not competing with a kid. I have my license and now a car.”

“He’s sixteen. Let’s give him driving lessons.”

“No way. We have to stay in the Gables.”

“Should I have him take the bus here?”

“No. I have better plans.”

“I’ll bet they exclude anything other than staying in bed all weekend.”

“That would be nice.”

“Minehan not meeting your every need?”

“Shut up. He never showers. Our room’s a pig pen.”

“Ah, freshman year. I barely remember.”

“I want to speak with your parents.”

“Asking for permission to fuck me?”

“No, Mummy hopes you will all join us for Thanksgiving dinner.”

At least we agree on something.

The parental unit is thrilled to be asked. Dad gives me the evil eye, thinking I put Jack up to it. There is no way to refuse Mr. Perfect Manners.

“We’re off to see Michael,” I announce as we go out the door. “Look at Jack’s new car.”

“I suppose you think you’ll get one, too.”

“I have a car, in Hollywood. I call it the Wreck. It’s a rental, $50 a week.”

“How can we afford that?” Dad is fast on the negative draw.

“I have a good paying job. I have my own apartment, too.”

“Jesus,” Dad is stymied.

‘Beep beep,’ we’re off to Michael’s.

 

There are many cars parked in front. It appears there’s a party going on, so we ring the doorbell. Michael’s younger sister, Annalise, answers the door. “Oh, I’ll get Michael,” she s disappointed it isn’t anyone important. We are definitely under-dressed.

Michael and Jenna come running out and take us around to the music room’s entrance. “Thank god. We need to be rescued from our families.” The entire two clans from New York have descended on Miami, as well as a few imported relatives from Sicily.

Jenna wants to know all about Liza Minnelli,  having heard we performed with her that summer. Jack wants to show off his car.

“Let’s go invade Robby’s ass,” he s being rowdy.

“No,” I insist.  “We gotta get Hippie first. He needs a break from fatherhood.”

Michael wants to race us with his Alpha Romero.

“No way will we ride in the back of a VW.”

“We’ll put the top down. Let’s do Le Tour de Gables.”

Jack is afraid his driving skill is not up to touring, so I drive. Soon we have Hippie, Dave and Jeff over-crowded in the backseat as we pull up to Robby’s. Michael and Jenna are in the Alfa. We all use the bedroom window entrance where he is lording it over his new posse of 14 and 15-year-old stoners. We attack Robby, letting him emerge triumphant. He pulls out the weed. It’s bong hits all around, for sure, for sure.  The fighting and subsequent pot high pushes Jack into sexual overdrive. I throw him out the window, telling everyone to be at Michael’s after their Thanksgiving dinners. I jump out, throw Jack over my shoulder and drag him up to my bedroom. I miss Max, but Jace shows up in time to participate in bedroom antics. Jace claimed Tommy is so straight that he feels ignored. Tommy’s reputation as the eat-out champion of Lauderdale High assures he always has lovely bed partners. How sad. I wonder how Auntie Em is handling it.

Waking up with my living and dead boyfriends feels like I’m really  at home.  Mom cooks us a great breakfast, worried that it will spoil our appetites for Isabelle’s afternoon repast. She even puts out a plate for Jace after I told her that’s what we do in Iowa. He tries to eat but it goes right through him.

We want to see Flo, Edi and Mary.  Since Jack is only allowed to drive in the Gables, I take the wheel. I have to admit the new VW is easier to drive than my Wreck. I’m still proud to have gotten a car on my own, with a little help from Tony and Jimmy. The girls are ecstatic to see us, jumping up and down in their little go-go boots.  They insist we take them to church. Their Santaria apostolic church worships on Thanksgiving, always thankful for being allowed to exist due to confused American religious tolerance. They also are tolerant of our ragged jeans and tees attire. The girls are resplendent in their Easter apparel, of course. We sit with their parents who are keeping a close eye on the threat to their daughter’s sanctity. We feign innocence.

I return with Jack to his house where we plan to dress from his overflowing closets. Unfortunately, we both apparently have grown and  look silly in trousers that exposed ankles and jacket sleeves that stop above our wrists. We drive to my house and find larger-sized attire appropriate for a Stone Family Thanksgiving. Jack is so pleased to have finally out-grown of his brothers’ hand-me-downs. My suggestion that we not wear shoes is met with silent disdain. I think, ‘you really can’t go home again.’

“Are we going to perform for the guests?” Jack asks, anxious to please. It has been two days since our ‘Rocky’ ring appearance.

“How about ‘Eye of the Tiger,’ in honor of my All-Hollywood Ivy League lightweight boxing championship?” I suggest.  “Something more modern than pre-50’s musicals.”

“Too ponderous,” Jack decides. “How about acting and singing to spotlight your new life in Hollywood.”

“Cool. How about Cagney doing the song and dance of ‘Give my Regards to Broadway’ and finish with “Yankee Doddle Dandy?”

“When did you become so patriotic?”

“I want to do the ‘Top of the world’ speech.”
“You’re kidding, right?”

“Why not? I am the top.”

“It’s about being thankful, not boastful.”

“Spoilsport.”

“All right, but no Top speech. It’s tempting fate.”

“Oh, a fatalist. That why you believe in Burroughs’ magic typewriter?”

“Don’t bring him up.  I’m still jealous.”

“He’s an old man. You’re relentless.”

“Oh, no. We’re fighting again.”

“No, we’re not. I have you tightly in my heart.  I know you’re not jealous, just insecure.”

“I just want us to be happy.”

“Speak for yourself. Everything’s perfect. Now, you’re tempting fate. Let’s invite the D&D gang over. You can be Top of the Nerds.”

“You’re an asshole.”

“That’s better. Top of the Assholes.”

We go into his closet and found dandy outfits for our Cagney skit. There are several.

We bounce into the drawing-room, happy to see everyone, even Father Joseph, who is arguing with Father Frank. My folks are seated with the Stones, while the gay uncles are amused by the repartee between the two priests. Everyone pauses as we jauntily walk in. No time like the present for show time.

Jack goes into our Cabaret number, ‘Welkommen,’

Willkommen! Bienvenue! Welcome!
Fremder, étranger, stranger
Glücklich zu sehen,
Je suis enchanté,
Happy to see you,
Bleibe, reste, stay.
Willkommen! Bienvenue! Welcome!
I’m Cabaret, Au Cabaret, To Cabaret!’

“If only Liza were here today,” Jack bemoans. “But let’s recognize how young Tim has promoted himself from the footlights of Broadway to grab the spotlights of Hollywood.”

First, Jack steps up and we do the Cagney ‘Top of the World.

 

I step in front of him, “Don’t worry, we’re just a couple of dandy’s,” as we start ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy,’ strutting in our fancy duds and showing off the dancing we learned up in Yankeeland

 

Jace was in the parlor, playing the cast LP to provide a score for our singing. Instead of doing tap between verses, we showed off our Irish Step dancing. 

“As you can see, we rejected those stodgy old Boston Yankees for some real Irish Stomping on the roof of the Ritz.,”Jack proclaims

We finish with ‘Give my Regards to Broadway.’

 

 

We took a bow and join the guests.

“What were you and Father Joseph arguing about,” I ask, as we approach the two old adversaries.

Father Frank answers, “I told him about your latest miracle with the St Paul’s Choir School.”

“That was a Pink Floyd miracle, Rock as a spiritual. Shall we sing it for you?” I ask.

Mummy interjects, “Oh dear, no miracles before dinner. Mustn’t show up Isabelle’s heavenly meal.”

“Thanksgiving turkey, just another Protestant ritual from the 17th Century,” Father Joseph mutters.

“I go to Harvard, another 17th Century institution. Now they teach the Bible as literature,” Jack interjects. “We objected and almost got expelled.”

“Oh Johnny, you must try to make a good impression at Harvard.”

“Impossible when Tim’s around. We interrupted the prof’s lecture with a song asking for ‘a reason to believe.’”

“That’s why I’m on work-study in Hollywood. The Lampoon separated us for our own good,” I stick up for Jack.

“I paid your tuition so you can work in Hollywood?” Dad is beginning to understand.

“I’m still enrolled, Dad. Jack takes notes. I have to pass finals next month. I also will get credit for writing a business school case study on my job. Mr. Stone arranged that.”
“I think I should get back the tuition I paid if you’re not even there.”

“I told that to Dean Epps. By Christmas I’ll officially be a sophomore with all the credits I’ve earned. At this rate I’ll graduate in two years instead of the normal four.”

“Are you learning anything?”

“Mr. Stone’s opinion is I need to find the best Harvard has to offer and take advantage of it.”

“He is a prodigy, Bert,” Daddy speaks up. “Professor Feldstein was quite impressed.”

Mummy announces, “I’m certainly glad that has been settled. Isabelle is ready to serve dinner.”

 

As we were seated, Father Joseph asks why there was an empty place setting.

“Teen Jesus, Father. He doesn’t eat but wants to sit with us.”

“Him again,” the good father believes in only one Jesus.

“Be careful, Father. He hasn’t matured at all since he died. He scattered our religion teacher’s notes into the air when the prof was saying there was no such thing as the holy ghost.”

“That’s what they teach at Harvard?”

“It’s au courant to deny religion. Luckily they’ve only been around for three hundred years. It’s much harder to change the Church after two thousand years of dogma,” Jack needles the good father.

“Enough of provoking arguments, Jack. Please say Grace,” Mummy intercedes.

“Bless us, Oh Lord, and these thy gifts which we are about to receive from thy bounty through Christ Our Lord. We ask this in the name of Jesus, father, son, and holy ghost, the rebel. Amen.”

Everyone but Father Joseph and Mummy laughs.

“Better than when Hippie asked us to us thank the cow for being our meal,” Daddy sides with us.  Mummy scowls.

“When was Hippie here?” Jack asks.

“We invited him so we could meet Anna and Little Greg,” Mummy is so proud to have Baptist friends.

“They didn’t name him ‘Gator?” I’m disappointed.

“Something about that was going to be his middle name but their pastor objected; anthropomorphizing animals is forbidden,” Mummy knows everything.

“Did the moms come, too?”

“Of course. Although I kept getting their names mixed up. Meg, Marge, it was confusing.

“We call Marge ‘Large’ but mostly we just say ‘ma’am.’” I gossip.

Again everyone is laughing, even Father Joseph. Isabelle brings in a huge turkey, with golden crispy skin.  The dressing, with many herbs and spices, creates a lip-smacking aroma. Daddy places it on the side-board where he begins carving slices. He motions to Jack to help him to learn the family secrets for perfect thin slices of white breast meat. Another Stone Family rite of passage.

“Where’s Winston?” I ask Dad.

“Oh, your father couldn’t leave him home alone. He’s out in the car,” Mom explains.

Mummy’s eyebrows go up.

“Can I let him into the yard, Mummy?” I ask.

“Of course, son. Isabelle will fix a bowl for him.”

I run out to get him out of the car. He is sleeping peacefully. I make him do his duty before letting him into the pristine back yard. He sits by the kitchen door, confident he’ll get his own Thanksgiving meal. It’s better than thanking the bird for letting us eat it.

I get back in time for the traditional toasts. We all had flutes of champagne. I thank our hosts for providing me with the perfect boyfriend. Father Joseph scowls. Father Frank toasts Father Joseph for learning tolerance and not expelling a 13-year-old from CCD when the boy worries he feels gay for loving Jesus. I refrain from saying what taking the Eucharist really means. We all quickly raise our flutes to Mummy for the wonderful celebration in honor of the Indians’ rescue of the religious Pilgrims, even though they were Protestants. Isabelle, having brought out all the side dishes, is standing in the doorway, beaming at her handiwork.

“And, to Isabelle, the lady of my dreams when I’m hungry,” I announce.

“Here, here,” everyone cheers the help that makes everything possible.

Several different wines are poured. I get a sparkling rose from Portugal, much nicer (sweeter) than the dry french champagne.

There are an even dozen place settings, five to a side, with Daddy at the head of the table and Mummy nearest the kitchen. Father Joseph has brought a young girl our age from the youth group. He introduces her as Ann.  She sits opposite the empty place setting for Jace. Jack explains why there was an empty seat, for our dead band mate. She looks adoringly at Jack, never letting her eyes wander away from him. Jack loves it. I’m slightly jealous, yet proud of his budding interest in girls. The meal takes two hours, after which the adults retire to the drawing-room where Mummy holds court among all the men. The three of us including Ann go into Isabelle’s kitchen to get Winston’s bowl for him. Ann knows not to pet Winston until after he finishes his dinner.

“Do you have a dog?” I ask her.

“It’s not allowed at the convent.”

“That’s sad.”

“I had one at home. Her name was Duchess, a King Charles Spaniel.”

“A lap dog,” Jack notes.

“More playful, like a pet,” she states.

“They don’t live long?” I ask.

“Oh, Duchess was only five when she died in the fire.”

“Oh, sorry,” I instantly feel her tender heart. “Was that terrible?”

She looks down and doesn’t say anything.

“Look, here comes Winston,” Jack changes the subject as the huskie bulldog lumbers over to where we sit on the patio.  Good manners, as always by Jack.

Ann gets down and pets Winston, who refrains from slobbering all over her, basking in the attention.

“Let’s take a walk,” she suggests. “We always took walks after a big meal.”

I feel Jack is about to insist we drive in his new car. I know that Ann wants to walk for sentimental reasons. There is more to her story about ‘the fire’ than she wants to say. Jace tells him we need to walk.

It’s a good choice. The Gables was built in the 1920’s and marketed to New Yorkers as the Venice of the South. Miami was barely a city then. All the homes are Spanish Mission style, even the mansions. The Venice theme is based upon the canals that crisscross the city. Wide boulevards with overhanging trees are more Savannah than Venice. Many intersections have fountains,  although by the 1970’s they seldom have running water. Two golf courses run through the center of town, anchored by the shuttered Biltmore Hotel. There are few sidewalks except on the Miracle Mile commercial retail district, but the sandy soil makes for safe walking on the side of streets. Ann’s buoyant mood inspires us to relate tales about growing up here and for me, the exploits from swim team and the band. Ann grabs each of our hands as we skip down the shaded lanes.

“Where did you grow up, Ann?” Jack asks.

“Palm Beach, on the ocean side,” she answers. The non-ocean side, West Palm Beach, is nowhere near as posh as the snobby exclusive ocean enclave.

I know there was a back story to why she is locked away in a convent. I hope it isn’t some Dickens tale about evil guardians  and a lost fortune. I know to let tell her story in her own time.

“Later the band is getting together at our friend Michael’s house to play music. Michael’s girlfriend Jenna is your age. You should come,” I suggest.

“I’m not sure Father Joseph will allow it.”

“Ask Father Frank to recommend it. He likes kids, unlike the good father.”

“They act like adversaries but seem to get along otherwise.”

“Father Frank’s a Franciscan. They’re much more liberal than parish priests. We always say confession with him.”

“You still go to confession?”

“We need to go often,” I laugh.

“But you’re boyfriends.”

“That’s why we need Father Frank. He even believes Jace is Teen Jesus, our band’s patron saint.”

“That was why there was an empty seat at the table?”

“That’s just Mummy being eccentric.”

“Your family is so cool,” Ann gives Jack that adoring look that bothers me.

“She convinced my whole D&D group to attend mass. Isaac is Jewish. He was so conflicted. It was like an orc attack to him.”

“What are you talking about? Orcs? ‘The Lord of the Rings?’”

“Not Middle Earth, just Dungeons and Dragons. It’s a game for nerds. Tim mocks me for playing it before I joined the band.”

We are sitting by the fountain on Ponce de Leon at the entrance to the Gables.

“Anyone still hungry? I see that the soft-serve ice-cream stand across the street is open,” I tempt them. Teenagers never get enough to eat. Isabelle would be insulted.

 

Father Frank convinces Father Joseph to allow Ann to attend our band reunion. He prescribes a 10 o’clock curfew. Jack drives us carefully to Michael’s. The Italiano feste celebrazione was still going strong. All the band members are going to be there, except for Hippie. It takes me all of one minute to convince him to sneak out. Anna and Little Greg are already asleep – too much holiday partying. Jenna takes Ann in hand, introducing her around, with stories about all the miscreants. Ann continues to stare longingly at Jack with her King Charles Spaniel eyes.

The Out Crowd wants to show off their new songs. They have slavishly believed that the Hillbilly Brothers’ country sound is to be their future. Hippie is pleased. At least I don’t have to consider them for the movie. Thinking about it revives my wish that ‘False Gods’ comes to Hollywood and storms to fame and fortune as the movie’s cover band. The thought of all of them invading my SRO apartment bursts that bubble. I feel the band is past doing covers. We will always have a party-band spirit. I know not to bring up going to Hollywood.

Once the kid band finishes, to much applause, including the younger house guests from New York, I plug in my trusty Gibson SG, not sure what to play. Since everyone knows about our gig with Elton and Liza, I turn to the mic and announce, “This is the song that propelled us to play with Elton. It’s inspired by Tommy, the boy in the Hillbilly Brothers. It’s called ‘Gatorsaurus Rock.”

Jack makes an ugly face at Tommy’s name,  then laughs, as he joins me. I hit the opening riffs, giving  Robby time to get on his drum kits. Hippie says, ‘That sounds familiar,” plugging in his bass. Michael jumps up and runs to the piano. We ‘re ready to rip apart Elton’s greatest hit.

 

‘I remember when we was young
Huck and Tom had so much fun
Fishin’ in the ‘Glades and skipping stones
Livin’ large in a lean-to of our own
But the biggest kick we ever got
Was a thing we call the Gatorsaurus Rock
While the other kids were Rocking Round the Clock
We were hopping and bopping to the Gatorsaurus Rock

(Ann and Jenna jump around)

Well Gatorsaurus Rocking is something shocking
When your feet just can’t keep still
I never knew me a better time and I guess I never will
Oh Lawdy mama those Friday nights
Tom and Huck gettin’ tight
Gatorsaurus Rock was out of sight

(I motioned to Jenna and Ann to sing the backup with Elton)

La lalalala la lalalala la lalalala la

(I come back in)

But the days went by and the ‘Gator just cried
Tom got sick and almost died
Long nights on a breathing machine
Dreaming of the ‘Glades and stolen blue jeans
But they’ll never kill the thrills we’ve got
Burning up to the Gatorsaurus Rock
Learning fast as the weeks went past
We really thought Gatorsaurus Rock would last

Well Gatorsaurus Rocking is something shocking

When your feet just can’t keep still
I never knew me a better time and I guess I never will
Oh Lawdy mama those Friday nights
Tom and Huck just getting’ tight
Gatorsaurus Rocking was out of sight

La lalalala la lalalala la lalalala la

I remember when rock was young
Huck and Tom had so much fun
Fishin’ in the ‘Glades and skipping stones
Livin’ large in a lean-to of our own
But the biggest kick we ever got
Was what we call the Gatorsaurus Rock
While the other kids were Rocking Round the Clock
We were hopping and bopping to the Gatorsaurus Rock

Well Gatorsaurus Rocking is something shocking
When your feet just can’t keep still
I never knew me a better time and I guess I never will
Tom and Huck just gettin’ tight
Gatorsaurus Rock was out of sight

(Everyone came in together for the closing chorus)

La lalalala la lalalala la lalalala la
La lalalala la lalalala la lalalala la
La lalalala la lalalala la lalalala la

 

Songwriters: BERNIE TAUPIN, ELTON JOHN

© Universal Music Publishing Group

 

After finishing, Jack takes the opportunity to jump on Michael’s drum set to show us what Nicky Beat taught him. His thrashing away seems random and retarded. I jump in on guitar, with the Weirdo’s ‘Helium Bar,’ singing the one line of lyrics over and over. Hippie tries to find a bass line but never quite gets there. Dave who is sitting there bored jumps up and takes over the one line lyrics.

 

 

Bop to Helium Bar tonight
Bop to Helium Bar tonight
Bop to Helium Bar tonight
Bop to Helium Bar tonight
Bop to Helium Bar tonight

Bop to Helium Bar tonight
Bop to Helium Bar tonight
Bop to Helium Bar tonight
Bop to Helium Bar tonight
Bop to Helium Bar tonight

Bop to Helium Bar tonight
Bop to Helium Bar tonight
Bop to Helium Bar tonight
Bop to Helium Bar tonight

Bop to Helium Bar tonight
Bop to Helium Bar tonight
Bop to Helium Bar tonight
Bop to Helium Bar tonight
Bop to Helium Bar tonight

Songwriters
JOHN DENNEY, CLIFF ROMAN, DIX DENNEY

Published by
Lyrics © BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC


All the younger boys join in thrashing around the music room. I motioned to Jack to stop, which he does with a loud cymbal crash. Everyone falls down.

“Jack got a lesson from my friend Nicky who lives down the hall from me. Since I left Harvard, Jack has to play drums in the Harvard Sitting Band.”

“Why is it sitting?” Dave asks.

“We got rejected by the Marching Band.”

The kids want more punk to thrash to. I play the Zeroes ‘Don’t Push Me Around.’

 

 

“Here’s a song Jack and I wrote in Iowa, after we beat up the entire high school football team at their New Year’s Eve party:

Ann and Jenna look shocked.

Fuck Off;

 

‘Don’t fuck with me

Might take ya down

Gots ta be free

Hate makes me drown

 

Anger 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

La La Land bound.’

 

Then I ended with my new theme song, ‘I won’t Back Down.’

 

 

That’s more familiar rock and everyone gets back to their regular instruments. Hippie said he feels old, not able to keep up on ‘Helium Bar.’

“The baby has me up all night,” he explains. I feel so old.

Finally, we play ‘False Gods,’ our signature song. It seemed so slow. Maybe everyone was out of practice. I sit down and everyone wants to know about Hollywood. Jack tries to talk about Harvard and the Rat, but nobody is interested.

Mike Sr. comes in. He says there are turkey sandwiches in the dining room. All the kids leave.

“How’s my grandson’s future godparent doing?” he smiles at me. “Jay says you have him working against the Universal Studios legal department. He loves doing real entertainment law.”

“The suits try to keep us on their short leash. Having Jay on board set them back on their heels.”

“You already sound so Hollywood.”

“I love it.”

“Jack dealing with being separated?”

“He just needs to be on a short leash himself. He showed up at my work in LA on Tuesday. Here I am in Miami on Thursday. We’ll survive, just barely. My rival caught us in my boss’s office and broke down the door. We ended up duking it out in the ring from the ‘Rocky’ set. It was a second round TKO. I’m the All-Hollywood Ivy League Lightweight Champ.”

“Jay’s so happy, he may get divorced and turn gay.”

“I can only wish.”

“Michael’s in a bit of a funk, waiting for Jenna to graduate. He feels like he’s still in high school.”

“Love conquers all. He’s too smart to wait around. Have him do work-study like I am. I never went to class at Harvard. Jack takes notes. I send in my assignments.”

“Cardinal Cooke says you created another miracle in Cambridge.”

“It’s Pink Floyd, not me. We were showing the Church that rock is spiritual music. It’s no miracle. They only say that because they have no clue about music. It was two twelve-year-olds who created the miracle. No diamonds this time, just golden snowflakes.”

“They think you’re a saint.”

“They haven’t found out about Jack yet.”

He laughs. “Don’t expect the Church to change.”

“We’re fighting two thousand years of tradition.”

“You have my full confidence.”

 

We go on and play some of the Harvard songs, including ‘Sunday Afternoon.’ The response is tepid. Jack explains he’s learning to play the MOOG, making him an English depressive. We finish with Minehan’s Rat song, explaining its backstory of our other roommate coming to Harvard before finishing high school. It inspires John, who pesters me about him joining us at Mower. He is now a high school junior. He just needs to escape his past, even though he loves the Watts family. That reminds me to visit my second Miami family. Jack stuffs John, Jeff and Dave into the back seat of the VW, while I drive because Kendell is outside his allowed driving zone.

The Watts house is lit up, so instead of sneaking into Stu’s window, we ring the bell. Mom Watt is so glad to see me,  pleased I remembered them.

“I’ll never forget,” I swear, “even after being told to never see y’all again for molesting Stu.”

She admits that it was probably Stu who molested me. Scott nods his agreement, even giving me a hug. Jack is immediately at my side. There’s no talk of a sleepover. Even Stu agrees we were all too old for communal beds. Jace is the only one to disagree.

Everyone is delivered to their respective homes. Jack complains he’s becoming a taxi service. After  a vigorous session of fellatio and anal, I tell him I’m leaving at noon for Hollywood. His meltdown is minor. We go to sleep and wake up in each other’s arms. Jace is sitting at the end of the bed watching us,   bemused that we sleep more that we sex each other. Sitting on the floor is Max,  giving me his signature bark. That bark brings Winston to my bedroom door, barking excitedly to find out what dog is in my room.  He bounds into the room, quickly checking out Max’s butt for some sort of dog knowledge they all carry there. Max forgets he wants to visit Robby for a shotgun hit, playfully chasing Winston around the room. Dad is disturbed by the noise and tells Winston to ‘Come.’ Both dogs go bounding off to see him. I wonder if Dad can actually see Max. I know better.

Jack drives me to the airport. He pouts that I’m rushing back to my other life. I argue that we’ll be together in two weeks for finals and Christmas with the St Paul’s Choir boys.  He’s less than enthusiastic.

I tell him, “You need to practice speaking to me through our conjoined hearts. Needing Jace to translate cannot go on forever.”

“I’m over my jealousy. I do have a secret, though. I swore I’d never play music again after the Stadium debacle. That resolve evaporated last night because we were together again.”

“Never doubt us, Jack,” I kiss him and leave him standing at the jetway, with shocked bystanders staring. Hollywood-bound, what a jerk I am.

 

Next: https://timatswim.com/eighteen-chapter-5-part-2/

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