Jace’s Place Chapter 6 Part 2

 

All the stations have us on. Luckily Robby’s cum-stained comment is cut. All the cheering kids make it a festive report. The last picture on several reports is Max in his Our Gang’ pose. We all laugh.

Finally I find a chance to call Jill. She’s devastated about Jace.Tim 234 I ask her to come to our show and be with the Jacettes, even if she doesn’t sing. She says she’d like to sing. I tell her about the early outdoor show. She promises to make it. The lineup s set for New Years Eve.

Robby insists he sleep over. There’s no hangout that night. Maybe we need the rest or just everyone is too emotional about Jace. As I fall asleep with Robby by my side, I see Jace sitting in the window. When we wake up, Robby is on one side, Jace on the other side and Max at the foot of the bed. I think the dog may see Jace, since he doesn’t try to snuggle in where Jace is.

The Herald is full of our news. It states that the show at Viscaya is definitely on and that there would be an outdoor performance before the main party for anyone who doesn’t have an invitation. I call the Watts and tell them to come to my house early with the boys. Then they can attend with my folks. Mike’s parents want to attend, so they will also meet at my house, too. Felix brings over outfits he thinks reflect the fifties. They look like cowboy outfits. There are Mouseketeer sweaters and black trousers as well. He also has some gay underwear for me. I quickly hide them from Dad. Seeing him tim-845 lecture Felix that overpaying me at work is ruining my sense of values makes me think I’m still in the fifties. Susan and Mrs. Watt get along well. I tell them that I call them both Mom, which helps them bond. Hippie comes by, embarrassed that he doesn’t know what to say, bringing Marge and Meg, who hug me tentatively. I have Stu and Mike ride in his car with Robbie and me. Hippie drives carefully to Michael’s. Stu is in top form, chatting with everyone, as if he’d always known them.  Mike looks slightly embarrassed, but he’s used to Stu. I figure all the 12-year-old girls will eat him up. He doesn’t look like he needs sex ed. Mary asks him how old he is. He says 14 and five sixths, just like a kid. I have Jace’s guitar which I take out and tune. It doesn’t need it. Jace comes over and runs his wispy hands over it. When I start to hit a few chords, I feel his light touch guiding my fingers.

Viscaya has a large parking lot for tourists during the day. It’s a large estate, built for one of the Chicago farm equipment magnates at the end of the Nineteenth Century. The front door opens on a large patio which runs down to Biscayne Bay. People are already filling it up. As I hoped, it’s mainly kids, some with parents, but not many of our usual college age fans. No metal tonight. Jill runs into my open arms The swim team parents know who she is, asking when Wilkie is returning. He’s flying in on New Year’s, tomorrow. Stu of course knows her. She hugs him and asks where Scott is. Stu won’t answer. She realizes Scott is odd man out. We set up on the top of the stairs. There’s lots of help. We’re ready in plenty of time. Michael is anxious to find Jenna, so we all go inside. I explain who the parents are and their connection to the band. Jill is asked who her child is. She says it is Stu Then I explain she’s our singer. The Jacettes hang out with us, all atwitter about the Romeo and Juliet romeo_et_juliette_romeo_and_juliet_1967_portrait_w858 scenario for tonight. I tell the parents that Michael and Jenna’s families are Italian and business rivals, so this romance has many family members excited. Michael is under the microscope because Jenna is just turning 15. Romance is in the air. Our job is to make Michael look good, giving him enough time to sneak away for a while but not for too long. Dad and Mr. Watt both know I’m the crazy one who creates all this drama. Michael’s dad comes over and thanks my dad for his heroics. He compliments me on being the most astute young man he’s ever met. He notes that he’s the band’s temporary manager. We’ve already paid him back all the money he had lent to set us up. My dad comments that I’m learning the value of money. Mr. Antonio assures him I have excellent business sense.

Mike is doing a good job of keeping Stu from spinning out of control. The Viscaya manager warns we’re approaching the limit for people outside. He says at least three thousand are already there. The Police call to say that traffic is backed up on Biscayne Blvd. He suggests that parking be diverted to an outside commercial lot and the regular parking lot kept open for attendees. He notes the age of most fans is so young they don’t anticipate crowd control problems.The Police send ten additional officers to help with traffic. All the band members sneak a look out the patio windows and are blown away. People were packed shoulder to shoulder as far as we  can see, many carrying candles lit in memory of Jace. I speak with Michael’s dad to say we will start playing soon. After we do our oldies set, they can start letting the uninvited kids in. We’ll do our Jace memorial to those left outside. It is all Velvet Underground songs, more appropriate for older fans. They’ll get closer once the kids go inside. Also, the parents will like the progressive rock songs. I see Jace looking out the window and laughing at all the people at his memorial. tim-656
It’s time. We trooped out, me carrying Jace’s Gibson SG. Robby and Michael sit behind their drums, Michael slightly more prominent for Jenna’s sake, Hippie’s on the right, the three Jacettes and Jill on the left with their own mic, and finally Stu and Mike bounce out to gasps from all the kids who start cheering that we have young singers. They’re wearing matching outfits with bow ties Tim 305 and saddle shoes, looking really cute. Tim 123 I turn around and see that Michael’s dad set up projectors. A kaleidoscope of Jace photos are shinning on Viscaya’s white walls. It pushes me over the edge. I sit down and sob, while the cheers continue. Stu comes over, hugs me, and finally gives me a kiss on my head. Jace is pounding away at my arm. I swallow and nod to Stu and Mike.
“Happy New Year’s, Miami,” Stu announces. “The band is False Gods, but tonight we’re just Friends of Jace, who you all know was the founder of the band. He was murdered last Sunday.  He planned this show in honor of Jenna Lombardi’s birthday. Her boyfriend is Michael Antonio on the drums. Hippie’s on bass, Robby’s on second drums, these are the lovely Jacettes, Mary, Flo, Edi, and by special arrangement my friend Jill. On lead guitar and filling in for his best friend Jace is Tim. I’m Stu and this is my best friend Mike.”
Stu sure can go on. I stand up and he sings. “Let’s Go to the Hop,’

 

Bah bah bah bah, bah bah bah bah
Bah bah bah bah, bah bah bah bah
At the hop

Well, you can rock it, you can roll it
You can stop and you can stroll it at the hop
When the record starts spinnin’
You calypso when you chicken at the hop
You do the dance sensation
That is sweepin’ the nation at the hop

Let’s go to the hop
Let’s go to the hop, oh baby
Let’s go to the hop, oh baby
Let’s go to the hop…
Come on, let’s go to the hop, let’s go
…Bah bah bah bah, bah bah bah bah
Bah bah bah bah, bah bah bah bah
At the hop”

Writer(s): John Madara, David White, Artie Singer
Copyright: Unichappell Music Inc.

They’re jumping around, doing the little hop steps. All the young girls rush forward and, finding space, start mimicking the boys. Stu reaches out and two girls come running up the steps and start dancing with them. Most of the parents near the front move to the side. Soon there are at least five hundred kids pretending it’s 1955. Most of the parents are from 1955.
We run through the sha na nah play list,

Boney Maroney,

Rockin’ Robin,

Splish Splash,

Witch Doctor,

 

Blue Moon,

Alley Oop,

and Charlie Brown (He’s a Clown).

Stu is a whirlwind, running into the crowd and bringing more girls up the stairs. Mike keeps his cool, which means all the cuties surround him. When Stu knows Mike has the song’s lyrics down, they sing duets to each other. Then we move to the 60s with Motown and the Beach boys. After two hours, we take a break.

Michael gets up to make an announcement. Jeremy Dufour 01
“We didn’t expect this many people tonight and Jenna doesn’t want anyone disappointed at her party, so she’s gonna come up and let you know how to make this party rock.’ He motions her up and holds the mic for her with his arm around her shoulder.
“Hi.”
A loud ‘Hi’ and cheer come roaring back. She looks at Michael in a bit of a panic, but he smiles and reassures her.
“We don’t have room for everybody inside,” She starts out softly, “and the Police say there’s 8,000 people out here. As you already heard, this is for the kids. Jace wanted a real party for my friends. He was such a loving person.” The crowd cheers. “So if you’re 14 or younger, as many as we can allow, can come inside and continue with Jace’s band to party until midnight. And I hope you’re there to kiss me, Michael.” another big cheer.  “So come in if you’re a kid. Come around to the side door, while the band plays more progressive (they call it) rock in memory of Jace, here outside. And for the parents, there will be refreshments in the parking lot so you can relax while your kids rock n roll inside,” she shouts.
She gets a sustained cheer and then a big ‘ Oow’ when Michael kisses her. Tim 36Then she runs back inside. Michael takes his place at his drums.Tim 231 I take the mic.

“I’m Tim. My best friend was killed two days ago. I know he’s watching and I see his big grin (and I can) as you all celebrate his life. He’s the most selfless person I’ve ever known. The only being who really loved him was his dog Max.” And Max bounds up on stage and stands by me with his tail wagging. “On Halloween we decided to form our band, False Gods. We soon discovered Jace was a prodigy on this guitar (which I hold up),  able to play any song in his head by ear. He taught us to play. All we want is to make people happy, dance, and shake their booty. (Cheers) Normally we take requests and try to have a show that leaves you wanting more. I know he’s guiding my fingers tonight. Everyone is playing the music he loved  so much. I usually sing, but I just can’t do it tonight. My friends Stu who’s twelve and Mike who’s fourteen, are filling in because they know what kids like, ‘cause they’re kids.” A cheer echoes as they take a bow. Tim 33

“Now we’re going to do our Velvet Underground set in Jace’s honor. He sang ‘Take a Walk on the Wildside’ the last night he was alive and called me little Tim , the hustler. He knew me well.”
We keep getting cheers. I’ve never performed before so many people. I rip into it:

“Paula came from Miami, FLA (big cheer)
Hitch-hiked her way across the USA
Plucked her eyebrows on the way
Shaved her legs and then he was a she
She says, Hey babe
Take a walk on the wild side
She said, Hey honey
Take a walk on the wild side

Candy came from out on the Island
In the backroom she was everybody’s darlin’
But she never lost her head
Even when she was giving head
She says, Hey babe
Take a walk on the wild side
Said, Hey babe
Take a walk on the wild side
And the colored girls go
doo do doo do doo do do doo “

And the Jacettes riffed on the ‘doo do doo do dodo do doo’
Then came me:

“Little Joe never once gave it away
Everybody had to pay and pay
A hustle here and a hustle there
New York City’s the place where they said, Hey babe
Take a walk on the wild side
I said, Hey Joe
Take a walk on the wild side

Sugar Plum Fairy came and hit the streets – I pointed at Robby who sneered at me
Lookin’ for soul food and a place to eat
Went to the Apollo
You should’ve seen ’em go go go
They said, Hey sugar
Take a walk on the wild side
I Said, Hey babe
Take a walk on the wild side
All right, huh

All the way to the end. Tim 261

Songwriters
LEWIS ALLEN REED, LOU REED

Published by
Lyrics © SONY ATV MUSIC PUB LLC

Then we do “I’m Beginning to See the Light”

and I feel Jace at my elbow leading me to all the right notes. I smile at him and he smiles back. Tim 115When the slow part comes up, “Here we go again..” I feel him surround me. I riff like he always did. He’s kissing my ears. Tim 80  I feel myself get hard. The crowd starts cheering again, not knowing he’s stroking me. The hard-on grows in the crazy cowboy pants Felix had me wear. Jace is snapping my butt with the waist band of the gay underwear. “How does it feel to be loved?’ I sing over and over. Tim 11Then I go into ‘Pale Blue Eyes,’

“Thought of you as my mountain top”

“Linger on”

“I had you but couldn’t keep”

Songwriters
LEWIS ALLEN REED, LOU REED

Published by
Lyrics © SONY ATV MUSIC PUB LLC

The tears are flowing, as a  hush comes over the crowd. Kyo Kara Maoh 03

Candles are waving, people are holding on to their loved ones. Robby comes over. I sink down, lying on my back. The Jacettes are there. Jill reaches down and kisses me. A sigh comes back at us. Hippie lowers the mic as I sing ‘linger on.’ Jace is lying in my lap Tim 118as I pick the single notes. Tim 190  I finish to silence, then a huge sigh comes from the crowd. I stand up and play ‘White Light/White Heat’ with an up-tempo beat.

People are moving down below and dancing with arms raised. Hippie heaven.
Then I play ‘I am waiting for my Man,” but can’t get through it entirely. I change to ‘Sweet Jane,” remembering my first love.

We finish with ‘Rock n Roll.’

 

 

“It was alright” and I play the horn parts on Jace’s SG. I get knowing cheers from different areas of the patio. Then I do the rock n roll leads while Jace smiles at my sweet notes.”Life is saved by rock n roll.”
I stand up and bow to his pictures on the wall. j togo 00           j togo 01           Konstantin02 He holds me as I stumble off the stage into the castle, playing Hendrix leads as I exit. I collapse with him around me as the cheers build after everyone else stops. I put down the SG, rush out, bow, bow to his pictures, and finally leave. He stay to his adulation. I’m the vessel; he’s the wine. The cheers don’t stop. I have to go back out. When I appear, a big roar returns. I sit on the top step. Hippie lowers the mic so I can play and sing. I don’t know what to play. I start talking, to eight thousand people.

“You know that Jace was my boyfriend,” I start, getting a big roar, “ but it didn’t start out that way. He was hiding out at my house from the abuser that killed him. He asked to stay but he was really nervous ‘cause everyone knew I was gay. The first night he fell asleep and woke up in bed with me. When I woke up, he was staring at me and asked if we’d ‘done’ anything. I laughed ‘cause he never had a friend where he just slept over. I realized he was afraid, so we just became best friends, playing guitar and singing. One night we listened to Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon.’ Laying there we fell asleep holding hands. In the morning he kissed me, saying he knew he loved me now because I never tried anything with him. We were really active boyfriends after that. (Cheers) At school that morning, we agreed that the dark side of the moon was where we’d be the lunatics on the grass. And this would be our special song.” I had been picking the opening notes and then the long instrumental intro to “Shine on You Crazy Diamond.

All the band was ready and I went into the vocals as they all came in, (at 5:15)
“Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun
Shine on you crazy diamond
Now there’s a look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky
Shine on you crazy diamond
You were caught in the crossfire of childhood and stardom
Blown on the steel breeze
Come on, you target for faraway laughter
Come on, you stranger, you legend, you martyr, and shine
You reached for the secret too soon, you cried for the moon
Shine on you crazy diamond
Threatened by shadows at night and exposed in the light
Shine on you crazy diamond
Well, you wore out your welcome with random precision
Rode on the steel breeze
Come on, you raver, you seer of visions
Come on, you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine”

Songwriters
WATERS, ROGER / GILMOUR, DAVID JON / WRIGHT, RICK
Published by
Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., IMAGEM U.S. LLC

The Jacettes and Jill sing the first “Shine on you crazy diamond” with me. The second time everyone there, all 8,000, sing with me. From that point on everyone who knows the lyrics is singing to the pictures of Jace on the Walls. I’m singing to him, as he sits with me, wispy tears rolling down his cheeks. I next play ‘the Dark Side of the Moon’:

‘The lunatic is on the grass
The lunatic is on the grass
Remembering games and daisy chains and laughs
Got to keep the loonies on the path.

The lunatic is in the hall
The lunatics are in my hall
The paper holds their folded faces to the floor
And every day the paper boy brings more.

And if the dam breaks open many years too soon
And if there is no room upon the hill
And if your head explodes with dark forbodings too
I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon.

The lunatic is in my head
The lunatic is in my head
You raise the blade, you make the change
You re-arrange me ’till I’m sane.

You lock the door
And throw away the key
There’s someone in my head but it’s not me

And if the cloud bursts, thunder in your ear
You shout and no one seems to hear
And if the band you’re in starts playing different tunes
I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon.

Eclipse.

All that you touch
All that you see
All that you taste
All you feel
All that you love
All that you hate
All you distrust
All you save
All that you give
All that you deal
All that you buy beg, borrow or steal
All you create
All you destroy
All that you do
All that you say
All that you eat
Everyone you meet
All that you slight
Everyone you fight
All that is now
All that is gone
All that’s to come
And everything under the sun is in tune
But the sun is eclipsed by the moon.’

Songwriters: ROGER WATERS
Brain Damage lyrics © T.R.O. INC.

“THERE IS NO DARK SIDE ON THE MOON REALLY!”

“It didn’t take long for everyone to know. The change in Jace was so obvious. This band grew from that change. We all love each other so much.” I motion for Flo to come and sit by me and Jace embraces her. “People ask how I can love a boy and a girl at the same time. It’s easy when we all love each so much. Love is not a zero sum game.” I look in her eyes and start playing, ‘Wish You Were Here.’

• “So, so you think you can tell   (at 1:20)
Heaven from Hell,
Blue sky’s from pain.
Can you tell a green field
From a cold steel rail?
….
• How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We’re just two lost souls
Swimming in a fish bowl,
Year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
And how we found
The same old fears.
Wish you were here.”

• Songwriters: WATERS, ROGER/GILMOUR, DAVID JON
© Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., IMAGEM U.S. LLC

All the girls are hugging me. The cheers go on for it seemed hours. I’m spent. Jill is holding me up, when Wilkie runs up the steps. He came back early when he heard about Jace. I hug him and won’t let go. They take me to the front of the stairs, raising my hands to the crowd. They’re kissing me and kissing each other. They pull me off the stage. We all collapse behind the patio doors. The rest of the band remains. I hear Hippie singing ‘Amazing Grace’ in his high tenor.

I look into Wilkie’s eyes not believing he has come.
“I had to be here. We lost one of our gay parents.”
Stu comes over with Mike. They’re in awe of Wilkie, who smiles at them, a first. Stu hugs me and asks in my ear if I can play the final show.
“Can you do it, little bro.”ryan kelley 01
“Yes, big bro,” his enthusiasm snaps me out of my gloom. Tim 255
The rest of the band finishes and comes in the big doors. I embrace Hippie, who just glows. “It’s all I knew to sing,” he says.
“Ready for the kids?”
He smiles and nods.

We walk into the ballroom. It’s filled way past capacity, probably 800 kids, all nervously waiting for something to happen. Stu has been singing a Capella with Mike to keep everyone busy. He grabs the mic and announces we’re ready. Dave, Jazz, and John are busy moving the drums and amps in from the patio. Jace looks at me and, nodding at the crowd, beams. They aren’t in a mood to mourn. They’re kids. They want to sing and dance. We quickly set up. I mouth ABC. We’re the Jackson 5.

Stu is MJ and Mike is Tito. Next I have Max come out to many cheers. I tell the boys to do ‘Ben,’ but change it to ‘Max.’ They laugh and really smile. Stu gets down and sings to our dog,

 Tim 311

“Max, the two of us need look no more
We both found what we were looking for
With a friend to call my own I’ll never be alone
And you my friend will see, you’ve got a friend in me

Max, you’re always running here and there
You feel you’re not wanted anywhere
If you ever look behind and don’t like what you find
There’s something you should know, you’ve got a place to go

I used to say, “I”, And “Me”
Now it’s “Us”, Now it’s “We”

Max, most people would turn you away
I don’t listen to a word they say
They don’t see you as I do I wish they would try to
I’m sure they’d think again if they had a friend like Max
Like Max, like Max”

Songwriters
Scharf, Walter / Black, Don

Published by
Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

All the kids stop dancing and are cheering every time the boys sing ‘Max.’ He’s Miami’s most famous canine. He looks out and gives his signature single bark.

Stu holds up his hands and everyone actually quiets down. Looking at the host’s table, “Jenna, honey, come down. Michael asked me to sing this song for you.” She gets up, while Stu frantically motioned Michael to come out from his drums. When they’re both there, Stu joins their hands, turns to the band and mouthed “I’ll be there,” and when we’re ready he and Mike sing, with the Jacettes doing the backups,

 

 

“You and I must make a pact
We must bring salvation back,
Where there is love, I’ll be there. (I’ll be there)
I’ll reach out my hand to you
I’ll have faith in all you do.
Just call my name and I’ll be there. (I’ll be there)
I’ll be there to comfort you,
Build my world of dreams around you,
I’m so glad that I found you.
I’ll be there with a love that’s strong,
I’ll be your strength,
I’ll keep holdin’ on. (holdin’ on)
Yes I will
Let me fill your heart with joy and laughter,
Togetherness, girl, is all I’m after,
Whenever you need me, I’ll be there. (I’ll be there)
I’ll be there to protect you, (yeah baby)
With unselfish love that respects you.
Just call my name, I’ll be there. (I’ll be there)
I’ll be there to comfort you,
Build my world of dreams around you,
I’m so glad that I found you.
I’ll be there with a love that’s strong,
I’ll be your strength,
I’ll keep holdin’ on.
Oh oh oh
Yes I will (holdin’ on, holdin’ on)
Yes I will
If you should ever find someone new
I know he better be good to you
Cause if he doesn’t
Ill be there (ill be there)
Don’t you know baby I’ll be there
I’ll be there I’ll be there
Just call my name, I’ll be there (I’ll be there)
Just look over your shoulders honey! Oh!
I’ll be there, I’ll be there,
Whenever you need me, I’ll be there (I’ll be there)
Don’t you know baby,
I’ll be there, I’ll be there
Just call my name, I’ll be there (I’ll be there)
Oh oh oh oh I’ll be there, I’ll be there”

Songwriters: Davis, Hal / Gordy, Berry Jr / Hutch, Willie / West, Bob
© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, ABKCO Music Inc.

Michael folds Jenna into his arms halfway through the song. At the ending, he gives her an innocent but extended kiss. All the kids are whistling. Stu holds up his hands and announces that the next song was a slow dance for just Jenna and Michael, turning around to us and mouthing ‘Never Say Goodbye.’

 

 

Michael twirls Jenna to the open space by the band and slow dances her in his arms. I see Mr. Lombardi clapping Mr. Antonio on the back. Teen romance is alive and well. At the end, Stu mouths, ‘Stop in the Name of Love’ and The Jacettes line up at their mic and put their hands on their hips and do the whole Supremes dance bits.

All the girls on the dance floor line up and mirror them. Stu and Mike must’ve planned this because they’re shaking and moving in front of the Jacettes. All the other boys find girls to shake and move to. Jenna and Michael look like they want to escape. Mr. Lombardi waves them over and gives Michael a big hug, When he kisses Michael on the cheek, I worry it’s the Mafia kiss of death. He repeats the kiss to Jenna and all is well, except for Michael’s obvious embarrassment. Mr. Antonio repeats the ritual, kissing Jenna on the cheek and what starts to be a full mouth kiss on Michael. Then he pulls back and laughs at Michael’s horror, hugging him like a dad should. Italians.
The parents want the couple to sit with them. Stu comes to the rescue with Chubby Checkers’s ‘Twisting the Night Away.”

Jenna and Michael jump up and join all the kids. All is well, except Robby, freed from competition, decides it’s time for a drum solo. Stu stands there with his hands on his hips in frustration until I throw a cup at Robby, which is unfortunately filled with punch. Robby is furious, but Stu uses his chance to get us to do the Wahtusi,

the Mashed Potato,

and the Chicken Dance

 

which he and Mike do by flopping around the floor while everyone claps and hoots. The dance songs keep us clapping until I notice it was 11:55. We have to do a countdown. I motion to Stu and point to the big clock over the door,
“Okay, everybody. It’s eleven fifty-five. Is everybody ready for the countdown to 1975?”
Kids start looking around. I see Michael and Jenna in an alcove out of sight of their parents. The kids’ parents have been ready all night.
Stu gives instructions. “In case you’re clueless, that means you need a partner for a kiss to shove out the old year and a better kiss to welcome in the new.”
He looks at Mike, “Come here, Mike. We’re a team.” All the girls scream. Ten girls run up to protect Mike.
“You always do this to me.” Stu mock complains. A younger group of girls surrounded him.
“And who’s going to kiss Max?”
Max barks at his name. I run over and hug him, to the glee of many.
Stu looks at me, “How soon we forget. Who will throw a kiss to Jace?” He points to Jace’s pictures on the wall. I hug Max really hard. He barks several times. Jace hugs both me and Max. Max tries to lick Jace but it looks like he was just slobbering in the air. I open my arms to Jace and he settles in to kiss me. Tim 178

Stu counts down, while the clock stood at 11:59. “Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, ( everybody was counting) five, four three two one, one half,” he pauses. I think of all that  happened in 1974. I look at Jace with tears in my eyes. He answers with that angelic smile that I  mimic. “One quarter…” The minute hand is frozen. Then it clicks, “Happy New Year.” Jace embraces me and Max barks.
Hippie takes the stage mic and starts singing ‘Auld Lang Syne,’ with the Jacettes and Robby on drums.

Everyone joins in, singing to each other. I see how happy Jace is with the two beings he loves the most. More wispy tears but when I punch him my fist goes right through his arm. Bittersweet.

Putting down our instruments, all the guys (Robby, Hippie, Stu, Mike, Wilkie and I) get on one mic, while the girls, ( A huge roar – Mary, Flo, Edi, & Jill) get on the other mic. The guys start, “Goodnight, Ladies.”

 

The girls answer , “Farewell, gentlemen.”
Everyone else serenades their partners, friends, family, and in my case, dog, to end the evening. A roar keeps up. Stu & I raise our arms to the host’s table in thanks, with all the kids and chaperones raising theirs. Michael and Jenna run up to their parents (thank god for small favors). The night’s success is finalized.

Except, when the whole band walks out the door to the patio, we are greeted by thousands of fans who remain waiting for us. Max immediately notices the whiff of marijuana and bounds out to fix his addiction. The crowd spontaneously started singing the Beatles, “All You Need Is Love.”

We’re speechless. As they end, I step up and sing, “What would you do if I sang out of key, Would you stand up and walk out of me?” a huge ‘No.” rings out. “Lend me your ears and I’ll try not to sing out of key, I get high with a little help from my friends.”

 

A bigger cheer and they all sing, “Do you need anybody?” The whole band sings, “We need somebody to love.” “Can it be anybody?’
“I just need someone to love.”

The whole band raises their hands and shouts “Love.”

The crowd shouts it back ten times louder. They surge forward as we go to greet them. The kids and their parents keep coming out. We move back to the steps. For the next two hours, people file up to us all, especially me, to hug, kiss, tell me they love Jace, that I made it easier to be gay, to be young, and to have lost someone. Finally the Police tell us they’re closing Viscaya, explaining they were at the end of their shifts. Michael’s dad herds us into his Caddy, with Michael and Jenna going with the Lombardi’s. Were they already married? In the car, we bemoan that it’s so late, we’re sure Sorrento’s is closed. But we keep driving in that direction and find they had stayed open at Mr. Antonio’s request. The entire staff turns out and all bow to Mr. Lombardi, who it turns out owns the place. Pizza and beer forever. Even Max gets his own bowl. There’s a table for the parents, the Watt’s plus Stu and Mike, Marge and Meg, Robby’s folks, my dad and Susan; it’s a colorful group. Mary’s parents, as well as Flo’s and Edi’s are at the Spanish Table. I sit with Mr. Antonio at the Italian table; he introduces me to Jenna’s dad. I look for a ring to kiss, but he’s direct:

“Mike tells me you were the brains behind tonight. How you did it, I’ll never understand. I guess it’s the resilience of youth.”
“We just wanted Jenna to have a party and see Michael play. With everything that’s happened, it spiraled out of control. I had Michael’s dad ask you to open it to everybody.  It looks like ten thousand people showed up.”
“Yeah, I’m sending you a bill for the extra expense.” He smiles at me.
“Well, Mr. Antonio is our manager. I’m sure he can handle it.”
We both laugh.
“I feel you may be the godfather of my first grandchild.’
“Being a godfather sounds too Italian for me.”
He slaps me on the back and nudges Michael’s dad. “You’re right, Mike. He’s firecracker alright.”
Did I pass the audition? I’m already a gay parent, how about a gay godparent.
I excuse myself, again thanking them all for their support. They all look at me and say how sorry they are for my loss.
I pass by the Jacette’s parents and wish them ‘Felix Ano.” They all clap me on the shoulder. Edi and Flo were there, so I ask them to join the kids table. They just shake their heads. I grab Edi and give her a huge hug. Their parents are clucking, but I tell her that I know how much she’s suffering. Jace signs  to tell her he has always loved her.
“Jace told me he really loved you. We didn’t have him for long enough.” She starts crying. I watch Jace bend over and kiss her on the cheek. She looks up and smiles, then hugs Flo. I grab Flo’s hands and kiss them. Her dad watches but doesn’t give me the evil eye. I excuse myself. I tell Mary to try to get them to come to our table. She goes over and they all return. We’re all there. Jill and David have gone home, saying they need to catch up. He came to the show directly from the airport. I settle into the booth, thank everyone, and the huge emotional load of the evening hits. I’m instantly asleep, dropped into a dream.
“Did you enjoy my funeral,” Jace asks me j togo 01
“You can talk to me?”
“This is a dream.”
“Oh, yeah. I saw you enjoying yourself. Did you ever read Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn about to their own funeral?”
“I saw the movie. They weren’t really dead.”
“I know you’re dead but I can love you still, like you’re alive.”
“You think too much.”
“You’re right, but you never complained before.”
“I never had any complaints when I was with you.”
“How about your evil brother.’
“I knew you would stand up for me.”
“I failed you.”
“Remember the last thing I said?”
“You said my name.”
“I died loving you, having you hold me.”
I think I should be crying but I’m not.
“You were so strong tonight. You may never cry again just for sentimental reasons. It’s okay if you cry at my funeral. Those are tears of pain.” He’s reading my thoughts.
“Did you think I’m silly for being so sentimental?”
“I love everything you do and say.”

I reach out and find I can actually hold him, touch him.”
“Ready for a wet dream?” he kids me.

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