That night, Jace again came into my dreams. My first and subsequent wet dreams in a long time. When I woke up, Max was sleeping in the corner. I was afraid he’d try to lick me, so I hurried to the shower. I was holding onto the faucets, remembering this position in particular, when I felt a faint pulse in my ass. I looked back to see Jace’s wispy ghost fucking me up the butt. I closed my eyes and he knew exactly when I was ready to let loose. The shower wall looked shell-shocked. It had been two days.
I went to Robby’s and we rode to Gables High together. The office made us wait, so we missed home room. Assistant Principal Spencer came out and explained to Robby that he was being demoted to Junior status. He had to pass the first half or be put on suspension. He told us to see the lady in the office to be reassigned classes.
“I’ll be watching you, mister.” The dick yelled at us as we left. We laughed.
I got him into all but my Spanish II class. They said if the teacher approved he could be in it as well. He’d even get credit for Spanish I if he passed Spanish II. Very logical.
We walked into Mr. Clark’s English class. I introduced Robby to him.
“He in your band, Castle?” His mouth was wide open and dropped even further when Robby winked at him, with his back to everyone else. The boy sitting next to me was made to move, so Robby could sit there. He was surrounded by she-bitch wolves, sniffing and ready to begin licking.
“Thank you Mr. Clark. Tim has encouraged me to join your class. Still doing Shakespeare?”
“Oh, you like Shakespeare. You would be an excellent Mercutio.
“Oh, from Romeo and Juliet. We did our version of it on New Years Eve. In it the lovers escape alive, but the priest dies.”
“I read you had a multitude at your show.”
“It was incredibly sad, because the bard died. There were ten thousand in attendance, we did five performances in one night.”
“What role did you play?”
“I always play the priest.”
“Oh, he plays Juliet, in the tradition of an all boy cast. In ‘Mercahnt of Venice,’ he plays Shylock.”
The girls looked at me and giggled. They had all moved closer to Robby. Mr. Clark let everyone ask questions. Some of the boys thought they’d embarrass Robby. “What about that video that was on TV?”
“Well, Mr. Clark said to talk about the performance. But, that was just publicity to get people to come to Jace’s memorial. I think I said Tim got caught by his girlfriend or something being naughty.”
Several girls asked if we had girlfriends.
Robby answered, “We all have girlfriends except Hippie, who’s our groupie king, and Michael, who is Romeo in our performance. In real life, his girlfriend is a secret because she is only 14. They’re both Italians and their families are rivals here in Miami. Michael lives in a castle south of Byrd Rd”
Now the girls were ew-ing and ah-ing as Robby spun out the story.
“You think I would be a good Mercutio? I can play multiple roles.”
“Yes, they are never both on stage at the same time.”
“I love tragedy, except when it really happens.”
“Well, I knew he would like being in your class, Mr. Clark,” I spoke up.
He looked at me but spoke to Robby, “Yes, I can see him as Shylock. I saw him pricking himself in class when we did ‘Merchant of Venice.”
“Tim takes his acting very seriously, Studying the method technique of Lee Strasberg. He gets carried away. With the pricking, he would keep doing it until someone had to bandage his hand. I fear for his sanity.”
The girls wanted to know about Jace. I told them he was my boyfriend, which brought the girls back to my seat.
“But you have a girlfriend,” someone complained.
“I have two.”
They all drew in sharp breaths.
“I believe he was my soul mate, in life and in death.” Jace was dancing with glee.
Mr. Clark was stunned, but his habit of keeping order ended the confessional. We went back to the lesson.
Robby went up and said to Mr. Clark. “I need you to sign some form. Can I come back later?”
Mr. Clark was in deviant heaven.
Next we had Biology, which was weird science. No false gods here. She told Robby he had to pass the final to pass the course. I promised to tutor him.
We snuck out of science lab early and were at Senor Chavez’ desk well before the bell rang.
“Buenos dias, mi profesor”
“Bueno, Sr Castillo. ?Qui este te amigo?
“Mi estimato profesor, este mi amigo, Roberto.
“Buenos diaz, profesor. Estoy Roberto.
“Si, al casa de mi amiga.”
“Sr Chavez. Mi amigo quiere estudiar in te clase aqui, ? Este posible?
“Si. Bien venide, Sr Roberto, Senta, por favor.”
“Muchas gracias, Sr Profesor.
At Nutrition, everybody was ready to go to my place or Robby’s, but we both said we were standing by our promises not to ditch. I think they eventually went to Dawn’s. But without weed, our gang quickly self-destructed. Iggy eventually became a source, but everyone owed him for weed and soon, they all had to wait until final bell for Robby to appear. Soon all the girls and a few guy hangers-on had us cornered and wanted to know everything about the band.
The question left hanging was, ‘how could I have both a boy and girlfriend?’
“Do you guys all believe in sex before love?” I asked.
All the girls shook their heads, “No.” Then the boys said the same.
“So who’s harder to love, girls or boys?”
All the boys yelled girls and the girls yelled boys.
“Then you agree that it is easier to love the same gender?”
They nodded dubiously.
“It’s easier, so we don’t really notice that we love our best friends until something happens that makes it obvious.”
“Like what?” they asked.
“My first boyfriend hated me because I beat him in a swim race, so we challenged each other to a grudge race, in the Bay.
“I found that out when I saw a speedboat coming at us in the dark. I just pulled Scott out-of-the-way.”
“No, he goes to another school.” They were disappointed there was no gossip.
“He went from hating me to loving me, and we had a great summer together.”
“I don’t kiss and tell, but it did involve several girls.”
“You were having sex with boys and girls?”
“And together with girls.”
“You mean in the same room?”
“In the same bed, holding hands, banging away and switching.”
“Did they know?
“Who they were fucking?”
“That you did it with each other.”
“We weren’t interested in each other in the moment. The girls kept us busy.”
“What happened at the end of the summer?”
“My New York girlfriend comes to the Beach every July. Scott saw how much I loved her, got jealous, and started fucking one of our mutual girl friends, but never told me. He was jealous, so he wanted to cheat on me.”
“Boys are jerks.”
“I just felt left out. They got caught. He told me he never loved me and called me a fag.”
“What did you do?”
“I hoped to get him back. Then Jace found me.”
“You didn’t find him and seduce him?”
“No, he was scared of being gay. He would sleep over but not take his clothes off.”
“How did you both get together?”
“Love before sex. I held his hand one night while we fell asleep listening to Pink Floyd. Because nothing happened, he kissed me in the morning, saying he now trusted me. After that I can’t tell, but teen age love is so powerful. Now I’m giving you Mr. Clark’s Shakespeare lesson.”
“Thank you, Castle.” Mr. Clark had been listening.
“Busted,” someone says.
“Sorry about the language,” I said to him.
He pulled me aside, wanting to talk about Robby. He was smitten.
“I’m so happy to have actual performers in our class.”
“There’s the drama club.”
“They’re tedious with their posturing. They’ve never performed for thousands of people.”
“It was strange on Tuesday night, when all those people would sing my lyrics with me.”
“How did you feel?”
“It made my heart swell. I could feel it.”
“How could you go out there after you had lost Jace?” He was being pretty personal for a teacher.
“I believe he’s watching over me. He wanted the show to go on. There was so much love for him that night. I’m sure he’s got a big head now.” Jace made a face at me.
Mr. Clark looked at me, “Oh, Tim. I’m so sorry.”
He hugged me right there in Nutrition.
“We gotta go to Spanish class early so Robby can prove he deserves to skip Spanish I.”
“You know you can always talk to me?”
I whispered in his ear, “You know, Robby’s really straight. He just wants to be in your class.”
Mr. Clark turned beet red. All the kids there thought I had propositioned him. My reputation preceded me.
Robby got into all my classes. His charm worked for him. Now he had to pass. English appeared to be an automatic A+, all the rest would require studying. I had promised to tutor him to help him catch up, but I knew it would test his marijuana maintenance theory. Our studying would undoubtedly be done under the influence. He believed that what we learned high would be retained only if we were tested when we was high. Robby just wanted to keep me high all the time. He felt it was his responsibility to keep me from mourning Jace. Jace signed to me that when I was stoned, he was stoned too. It meant I was a Stoner for life.
We went directly to Michael’s after final bell and met everyone else. John was there with Mike Jr.
“Why aren’t you at swim team?”
“Well, I told Mike he was one of our singers so he should be here for practice.”
Mike Jr looked a little sheepish. I smiled at him. “Don’t let people manipulate you, Mike. He just doesn’t want to work out and isn’t thinking about you missing practice.”
“Yeah, Coach is going to have a fit when he sees me.”
“It’s not too late to get there, Com’n.’
John put on his sulky face, but he went with me as we rode to the University pool. I went up to Coach Diaz and said hi. He was pleasant and didn’t make me feel like a quitter. I explained the situation with John, telling him it was confidential and how he was staying with the Watts. He needed to be with Stu or Mike after school, which meant he’d have to join the team. Coach told me to speak with Coach Earl, where John would be on the B squad. He told Mike Jr to get in the water with his lane. Mike Jr gave me a Speedo for John. John got all red, so I took him to change and spoke with him about needing to go along with everything and especially not to manipulate Mike Jr or Stu.
“I feel like I’m in jail, too.”
“The only alternative is for you go to Social Services. They’ll put you in a group home. Just enjoy your freedom. This is not jail. So, put on the suit and jump in the water. Nobody can see your balls in the water.”
He laughed, “Then turn around. I don’t wanna let a fag see me naked.”
He came out with his towel wrapped around his waist. We went over to Coach Earl’s group. Coach gave me a big smile. I knew he always liked me.
“One of your bike riders?” he asked.
“Well, he’s actually my band member’s little brother.” John glared at me. “And one of our roadies,” I quickly added. “He’s staying at the Watt’s for a while. He’ll be on the team, too.”
“Welcome. What’s your name?”
“Well, Sir John, jump in the empty lane. Let me see how well you swim.”
“John, go home with Stu and Mike afterward. No coming to Michael’s.”
“Okay.” He was as sulky as Max, when he didn’t get his pot.
Coach Earl asked me to wait until he got John settled. I watched the B team, remembering when I was a scrub. It seemed so long ago, almost two years now. I watched John struggle to swim a lap, with his head up. Coach gave him a kick board and told him to do laps with it.
He came over and gave me a hug. “Sorry about your friend. I remember him from the Christmas caroling. He was so good with the boys. How anyone could kill him is beyond me.”
My normal tears weren’t there, so I smiled. “You’ll always be my favorite coach.”
“Well, Coach Diaz doesn’t try too hard to be popular.”
“You got that. But you’ve always been on my side.”
“I read about the memorial for Jace. Are you are a rock star now?”
“Everybody thinks so, but our band only has four songs that are our own. Sex, love, drugs and god.”
“Sounds like rock n roll. So, what’s the story about Sir John?”
“It’s confidential. I told Coach Diaz. You should know, too. He’s Jace’s step-brother. His older brother killed Jace. Social Services took John away from his parents. He’s staying with the Watt’s.”
“Is he in danger? Should we keep an eye out for him.”
“That would be great. His brother’s in jail, but they may release him. John should always be with Stu or Scott, and Mike, too. He’s still at his old school. We wanted him to feel comfortably safe, so he’s here with you. He’s not a jock and has Speedo issues.”
“That’s pretty normal. If there’s trouble, who should we call.”
“Just call the police. Mr Antonio’s his court appointed guardian.”
“Mike Antonio? You got a heavy hitter there.”
“He’s our drummer’s dad.”
“You certainly get the right people on your side, Tim. By the way, you might want to make an effort with Scott. He’s really mad at you.”
“Thanks, Coach. I’ll try. Last time we talked he was pretty mean and since then, all he does is glare at me. I’ll make an extra effort.’
“You did really like him at one point.”
I got a little red. Then I thanked him and walked away. I saw Scott get out of the other workout and head for the bathroom. I laughed about cornering him there, but figured what the hell.
“Hey,” I said as he was at the urinal. He turned around so quickly he sprayed all over the floor. I laughed but he glared at me.
“What do you want?”
“To try to patch things up as much as possible.”
“Well, good luck. You really did it this time. Everyone knows it’s me who you say was your first boyfriend.”
“Well, if we’re going to talk, it better not be in a bathroom.”
He snickered, and we walked out.
“Call me at home. Thanks for dumping that kid on us.”
“Okay, I’ll call.”
He dove back into the pool.
As I walked away, I realized the old me would be shaking, but I wasn’t. Jace gave me the thumbs up. I signed to him, “Do you read all my thoughts?”
He signed, “Only when I want to.”
“You have this power over me.”
“Always have, even from the grave.”
Then I thought I hadn’t figured out about his funeral.
He signed, “Why?”
“’Cause people need to say goodbye to you,” I thought.
“Okay,” he signed.
I got back to Michael’s but no one was practicing, except Robby on the drums with boring solos. I put on the Black Sabbath album and we cheered up, singing the lyrics. I picked up the SG and followed the Jimmy Iovine guitar licks, turning the notes in my own way. I had everyone else sing along to the album.
“Where you been?” Michael asked.
“Swim team,” I said.
“What,” Robby cried, “You going back to that?”
“No, I had to get John set. You should see him in a Speedo.”
All the girls shrieked. Jazz looked mad, wanting to stand up for his friend.
I told how they call him Sir John after he was so polite to the coach.
This led to a discussion about band roles. Stu and Mike were acting like they were in the band after the kids show.
“They were pretty good,” I had to admit.
“We ain’t havin’ kids in the band,” Robby asserted.
“We ain’t kids?” I asked.
“What about the roadies?” I asked. “Are we going to make them work and treat them like slaves or something?”
“Well, roadies get benefits, like all the girls talk to them.”
“Yeah, the groupies just want to know how to get to Hippie.”
“So groupies are part of the band, too?”
“It’s like the song, ‘The In Crowd’
“I’m in with the in-crowd, I go where the in-crowd goes.” I sang.
“We don’t want people to think we’re snobs?” Michael noted.
“How about being the out-crowd?” Mary said.
“You mean change our name?”
“We can’t do that. We’ll just say anyone who wants to hang out with us and sometimes be in the show are ‘in with the out-crowd.’ It will be how we describe ourselves, The Out-Crowd. All our fans are pretty out there.”
“Yeah, no more frat parties or preppy parties. We represent the real people.
“Yeah, the faggots.”
“And their 12-year-old groupies.”
“We play metal, glitter, Motown, R&B, oldies, drug rock. None of those people are mainstream, not the Silent Majority.
“How about a song for Nixon? ‘He’s out with the in-crowd,’ Michael sang.
Mike Sr came into the music room. “You’re singing about Nixon?”
“Yeah, we’ll run Jace for President under the Dead Party.” Robby joked. Mary was about to slap him, when I laughed. So did everyone else.
“Yay. The Dead Party. All the Dead Heads will vote for us.”
“We’ll get no votes ‘cause they’ll all get lost going to the polls.”
Mike Sr stood there realizing I wasn’t the only wise ass in the band.
“You want to hear the funeral plans?”
No one was too excited about going to church.
“It’s a private funeral service at the funeral home. No one is invited.”
“That’s not fair.”
“What about John? It’s his brother.
“We’d have to get court permission, as his family is under a restraining order.
“You think we should protest, Mike?” I asked
“I think you should be careful what you start.” He answered. “You and your dad have to meet with the police investigators so they can close the case. Do you want me to represent you there?”
“You think I need a lawyer?”
“They might ask you questions about your relationship. It’s still against the law in Florida to have homosexual relations.”
“What? We were just kids.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll keep you from saying anything prejudicial. I think the police just want to close it out and see that Jeff gets punished.”
“Okay. I’ll let you know when we have to talk with the investigators. Better tell your dad to be prepared.”
“He won’t want to talk about anything gay. He’s got a promotion and is going to be giving speeches about the right to have guns.”
“Good for him. So you’ll need to keep control of your anger for his sake, too. With that crowd, having a gay son pretty much trumps his heroics in saving you.”
“Okay. I need you to keep the investigation from being more than a family tragedy.”
“I love tragedy.” Robby piped up
“He’s in my Shakespeare class now,” I explained.
We went back to writing our song about the out crowd. Jace indicated I should pick up the SG. He guided me to play the simple melody to ‘The In’Crowd,’ and then we played it backwards, reversing the inflections of the lyrics, from ‘in-Crowd’ to ‘Out-crowd.’ It was going to be our fifth original, or sort of original.
When I got home, I asked Susan to call me when Dad came home so we could talk. I then called the Watt’s.
“Hi, Mom,” I piped up when she answered, ‘how’s it going with everything?”
“Well, John can be difficult. He seems to mind Mike better than Stu.”
“They’re the same age, and Stu can be abrasive when he wants something.”
“Did you tell Stu that John is his older brother because I had told Jace to call me Mom?”
“Oh, yeah. Is it causing you a problem?”
“I’ve been told I no longer can adopt wayward boys.”
I laughed. “It’s all started when I defended Jace from his older step-brother. I told John, I considered Jace my brother, which meant John also was.”
“I’ll never understand boys.”
“That’s because you’re too good to us.”
“Well, do you want to talk with Stu, he’s standing on my toes to talk.”
“Actually, I told Scott I would talk to him. I saw him when I dragged John to the pool.”
“Oh, I’ll have him get on his phone. I’ll keep Mr. Nosey Boy from listening.”
“I want to try to make up some with Scott. It’s not fair he’s dragged into all this.”
“Well, good luck. I’m holding off on the advice department.”
I waited as I heard Scott being told to talk with me.”
“What?” he said after picking up.
“A lot,” I said. “I’m sorry you’re involved in all that is going on. I tried to keep your name out of it.”
“Really, well that might work for anyone who doesn’t know us.”
“I don’t know you any more, Scott.”
“So why are you talking about me then.”
“That Scott is in my heart. I still love him.”
“Stop it. We never loved each other. We had fun and then we grew up. I love Lydia now.”
“How’s that working for you?”
“Shut up. It’s none of your business.”
“You say we both grew up, but you act just like when you used to be so mean to Stu. You lied about my friendship with him then.”
“Well, maybe you are turning him into a little fag like you. I remember how you made Mike into a junior version of yourself so you all could fag off together.”
“Why are you so angry about being gay? You were happy then.”
“You turned into a stoner waste case.”
“I changed; Jace’s death has made me harder at heart. But where he is in my heart is the same place where I hold you. We can’t change what we were last summer, in North Carolina. The happiest day of my life was when you won the State Championship.”
“That was you manipulating me. I’ll never come close to that time again. You had me wrapped around your little finger.”
“That was a bad thing? I didn’t call you to argue. I know what I said in the papers and on TV has made your friends think you’re gay. You value them more than you do me. I’m sorry. Please do me the favor of coming to Wilkie and Jill’s place. Let them help us find common ground.”
“What have they got to do with it?”
“They knew us when we were together. Jill sang in our band while David was in England for Christmas. He came back early for Jace’s memorial. They knew Jace and me like they knew you and me. Your mother is still Mom for me and is saving Jace’s brother from all that’s going on. She had Jace call her Mom, when he had never had a mom before. I don’t want you to love me as a boyfriend but I need you to be my brother again. On Saturday we can ride over there together. Please?”
“Call me on Saturday. I may be busy.”
“You’ll be glad. They are our friends from when we were together. Now put Stu on.”
I heard him yell. “Stu, the asshole wants to talk to you.”
It took five seconds for him to come to the phone.
“Hey, little bro, you were incredible Tuesday night. Did you have fun?”
He went on about all the great things that happened.
“Am I ready to have a girlfriend? All these girls are calling me and want to do things like movies and to meet their friends.”
“Well, just do group things. You don’t want a girl who is the boss of you.”
“No comment, but I just tried to be friends with Scott. I asked him to go bike riding on Saturday.”
“Can we come too?”
“Well, we’re going to see Jill and Wilkie. Maybe she can talk him into being my friend again. Why don’t you and John stay at Mike’s. We can meet you there afterward?”
“John’s a pain, but he listens to Mike.”
“Remember John is your brother too. You don’t get to choose your brothers.”
“He acts just like Scott did at that age. And Scott’s gone back to being an asshole.”
“Watch your language.”
“Jeez, Tim, you guys say that all the time.”
“That’s why you can’t be in the band. We’re a bad example for you.”
“But I’m in the band, aren’t I Tim.”
“Don’t worry, bro. We talked about it today. We’ve created a separate band for part-time members, it’s called The Out-Crowd. We’re writing a song about it.”
“Give me the words so Mike and I can practice them.”
“Well, John’s also Out-Crowd. He can explain what he does. You can tell him we created the Out-Crowd for him as well.”
“Wasn’t I great on Tuesday?”
“You were incredible, but don’t let it go to your head. As you know in fashion, one day you’re in and next day you’re out.”
“Are we a fashion band?”
“That’s why you and Mike wore bow ties. That was so cute.”
“Okay, Tim. I gotta go talk with John. Thanks for being my brother again.”
“I guess I had forgotten but I’m back now.”
“Yeah, and fuck Scott.”
“Language, Stu, language.”
It wasn’t long before Dad got home. Susan called me down. Max came with me, but this time he sat down at my dad’s side. Dad absent-mindedly scratched behind his ears. Max lay down, the traitor.
“Dad, Mr Antonio told me to talk with you.”
“Did you even know he’s one of the top trial lawyers in Miami.”
“I didn’t even know he was a lawyer until he talked to me today.”
“You thought he was just one of your friend’s dad?”
“Pretty much, but he does get a lot of respect wherever he goes.”
“What did he say.”
“He wants to be our lawyer. He’ll set up a meeting with the police investigators in Jace’s death.”
“I know I have to talk to them. I shot that boy.”
“You saved my life.”
“Well, you don’t shoot someone without speaking with the police.”
“He wants to be there as my, our lawyer, so I don’t say anything that will screw up the investigation.”
“Well, we can’t afford him. He charges hundreds of dollars an hour.”
“No, he’s the band’s manager. He works for the band. I just made him our permanent manager.”
“Well, make sure we won’t end up with a bill we can’t pay.”
“We’re witnesses. I was almost a victim. He says they just need our statements to close the case. The police won’t even charge Jeff with murder but I don’t care. He’ll still go to jail.”
“Well, I will call him to make arrangements to see the police.”
Max had been lying at my dad’s feet while he kept scratching him behind his ears. Hearing that I was done with my dad, he sat up and gave his authoritative bark,” Woof.”
Dad got up and walked into the kitchen, asking Susan, “Do we have dog bones in the house?”
“No, why would we have dog bones?”
“Well, we now have a dog.”
“Give him some crackers. I’ll get some tomorrow.”
My dad came back with his scotch and water. Max followed him, chewing the crackers. As soon as my dad sat down, Max went “Woof.”
“What does he want now?” he asked me.
“He probably needs to go out.” I didn’t say to score weed.
“Well, that’s your job,” he told me.
Susan smiled and said, “Looks like he’s your dog now, dear.”
I added, “Max just knows you’re in charge.”
“Good dog,” he said and petted him on his head.
I took him over to Robby’s. Soon he was rolling on his back, fully satisfied. I related the whole episode to Robby and Mary, who were in stitches. Jace was lying on the floor, playing with Max’s ears. Max kept shaking his head.
“So what’s our plan for Shakespeare tomorrow, fair Juliet?”
“I’m amazed you knew so much about Romeo and Juliet. I can’t believe you ever studied it.”
“No, douche bag, I told you I saw the movie.”
“Mr. Clark is totally under your spell.”
“That’s not all he’s under now.”
“He had to sign my class transfer slip, so I met him after final bell.”
“I told him you weren’t gay, Robby.”
“That makes him even more of a pervert then.”
“What did you do Robby?” Mary asked.
“I got an A in English this reporting period.”
“I see ruin coming, especially for Mr. Clark,” I worried
“You’re just jealous because you’re not his little pet anymore.”
“If you want me to help you with your classes and want me not to care if you blow our teacher, you’ll have to stop being so competitive with me. Have you forgotten that it’s us against them?”
“Okay, I was only having fun with you. There was no transfer slip required. So what’s the assignment for tomorrow.”
“We’ve been doing ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream.’
He jumped up and ran out of the room, returning with a large case. He opened it to reveal a large collection of wigs, plus he brought a makeup case.
“What are you planning now,” I asked.
“Mr. Clark has already agreed that only boys can play the parts. Wigs and makeup will get the boys looking more like their parts.”
“You’re going to turn all the boys in the class into girls?”
“Let the girls be the chorus.”
“How do you know this play? There’s no movie.”
“I read the comic book.”
While he gathered all his weapons of male defilement, I reviewed our homework. Biology was all lab work we could do in class. I told Mary to read him the Spanish grammar he had no clue about. He was barely listening but it was better than nothing. I lay on his bed and did the Algebra worksheets, copying my work to his. We were ready for tomorrow’s classes. Mary was so pleased. I left and went right to bed. Max started out on my bed. I was hoping for more wet dreams to send him into the corner. I froze on the image of waking up in the middle of the dream with Max in my arms and me in other places. Yuck.