Bowling weekend was over. ‘Gator would not have been satisfied with anything other than total victory. Ames had responded to his exhortation. Ames High was State and National Champs. His musical debut as rock drummer was a hit, with shows at the Pit, at Kappa Sig on Iowa State, and of course, back at the Hyland Street Clubhouse. With the help of the Regis High Knights, the deranged Baptists of Harlan County were run out of town. The only setback was no permanent return of John Boy Stone to my life in Ames. I accepted that he was never really a country boy, no matter how hard he tried. Perhaps trying too hard to meet my desires had robbed him of his speech. I believed he wasn’t faking it. I was so proud that he had faced down his haters and was all the stronger for it. I’d go visit him at the Dakota as often as I could.
Ames was boring, unless you thought you were a bowling star and rock and roll hero. After the New Yorkers’ plane left, I had to rush to the Pizza Pit to start my Sunday night delivery shift. It was always our busiest night of the week. I returned a bit after seven o’clock to my dinner, kept warm in the Hyland Street oven. I took my plate up to the third floor where ‘Gator and the twins nervously watched me for signs of nervous breakdown.
“I ain’t gettin’ all bothered ‘cause he’s gone,” I informed them. “We’s pledged to be together after we both graduate, even if it means Hahvahd.”
“Ya ain’t goin’ all teary like a girl?” ‘Gator mocked me.
“Disappointed I ain’t a girl, here to meet yer every need.”
“Oh, ‘Gator do we not meet yer every need?” Angie took another bite out of the poor farm boy.
“I’s still a’waitin,’” he complained.
“Good luck,” Amy softened the sarcasm her twin always exhibited.
I pulled out my SG and started playing ‘Country Roads,’ as I knew I was really home.
The twins joined my singing with their pure high voices. ‘Gator showed he really had talent as he and I harmonized on a lower scale. Angie picked up her guitar and was picking the notes as if it were a banjo.
I next started playing Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Sounds of Silence’ to confirm we had cured John Boy’s speech loss.
‘Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains Within the sound of silence’
Songwriters: GORDON JENKINS, NAT SIMON
© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group
Angie kept picking the folk song’s single notes, as we all sang. All four, even ‘Gator, had tears of joy rolling down our cheeks. We ended in a group hug. I looked over at the stairs and saw the moms hugging each other. What a family.
In bed that night, I promised ‘Gator that not a word would be mentioned about all the tears – tough guy image hard to renounce. I promised to kept our secrets and keep him on track to be the monster of the gridiron next fall at State.
“Ya rilly goin’ ta Hahvahd next year?” he asked in a decent east coast twang.
“Who knows, ‘Gate, I’d as soon stay here, but I ain’t losin’ that boy agin. Too much work winning him back. I kinda threw Tommy to the wolves to prove maself to John Boy.”
“Ya sure knows how ta pick ‘em. I cain’t help but loves that boy too.”
“Don’t be turnin’ gay jist ‘cause the twins ain’t givin’ it up.”
“Love and sex is two different things. Hell, I loves all them cows we milk every day.”
“Don’t be a’tellin’ John Boy. He ain’t getting’ near any o’ my milkers.”
I was asleep before ‘Gator changed bedrooms.
My week fell back into its regular routine. I even made choir practice at First Baptist. There was a bit of a tizzy over John Boy’s confrontation with the Harlan Baptist group. That church had initiated a complaint that Ames Baptist was enabling a gay boy to subvert their children by singing with the Ames choir. The Ames pastor wrote an impassioned defense of John Boy, witnessing the beauty of our voices as proof that gays could by inspired by God, and proof that the salvation road was wide enough to accommodate the gays. I offered to stop performing with the twins at Baptist services. The pastor decided that my silencing was not in God’s plan. I felt so inspired.
My weekly session with Dr. Kam went well. After sharing Dakota gossip (Paul McCartney had visited and was impressed with Julian’s improvement on the guitar), I was able to recount the horrors of my truck stop prostitution and rape, in gory detail. I was exhausted after the session. Helping Gator with the milking was calming and the regular pizza deliveries got me back in a good mood. I wasn’t prepared for the message I got upon getting home: Helen had called and was desperate to talk with me about Joey. It seemed like ages since I had even thought about him. He was 22 now, which seemed really old. I called her in Massachusetts.
“Hi, Helen,“ I felt more comfortable using her first name now that I was 17. “Joey in trouble again?”
“Oh, Tim. I don’t know what to do or who to turn to. He’s in the hospital in LA.”
I instantly knew what his condition was. Some things never change.
“He won’t let me go to him. It’s drugs again. I’m so worried.”
“He’s probably ashamed and also being stubborn.”
“You think so? I worry he hates me.”
“Oh, Helen. He knows you always take his side. You want me to go and be with him? “
“Would you? They said he almost died. His heart stopped. They had to resuscitate him.”
I remembered that scene. “We need a plan to get him away from drugs.”
“Can you get him to come home, Timmy?”
All I could think was ‘where’s Lassie, Timmy?’ I needed to up my game here.
“I’ll go to LA this weekend and convince him he needs to get sober. The doctors will probably prescribe rehab but I think he needs to get away from the whole scene,” I formulated a plan. “And, Helen, please just call me Tim.”
“I’m sorry, Tim. I try to get it right, but I can’t ever seem to do the right things for you boys.”
“Not a big deal. All that is important to Joey is that you will always love him. He knows that.”
“Thank you, Tim. You seem so mature. I guess you’re all grown up now.”
That may be Helen’s problem; a 17-year-old is hardly grown up. How I’d handle the OD of someone I really loved may be above my maturity level.
“I’ll call you once I’m with Joey.”
I ran downstairs and called a family meeting. It was so much easier when I just could sneak away to LA. Maybe this was the price of maturity. Thanks, Helen. With everyone assembled, I related Helen’s news.
“This affects both Mom and me. Helen in Dad’s sister. We spent every summer vacation there before we moved to Miami. Her son, Joey, is in the hospital in LA. She asked me to go there and bring him back to Massachusetts. I can do it this weekend and not miss school. I just need your permission.”
Molly was the first to respond. “Why can’t she do it?”
“He’s refusing to talk with her. I think he’s ashamed.”
“She’s his mom.”
“He’s 22. He has drug problems and is mortified. I can talk with him. We’re very close.” That was not an overstatement.
“You think you can rescue him. If he’s in the hospital, he must’ve OD’d.” Molly knew the score.
I’d already brought him back from the dead once, but I wasn’t about to get into that adventure.
“I visited there once and know the people he stays with. They’ll be on my side in getting Joey clean.”
“Is this another side to your life we don’t know about, Andy?” Molly kept up the inquisition.
“Joey helped me rescue Tina’s brother who had been kidnapped in the Bronx by a gang. I had to go to LA after the rescue.”
“Who’s Tina?” the twins asked.
“She was my girlfriend, then. She was 14. The gangs were extorting ransom money from her family.”
“You was fighting gangs in New York?” ‘Gator was excited.
“We snuck into their hideout while Joey and his friends fought with the gang members. We all escaped after we got Tito. It was two years ago.”
“You were only 15?”
“Yeah. But this isn’t about New York. Afterwards, I went to Hollywood and saw how Joey was living. I know I can help now. I just need your support. Then I just did it behind Dad and Susan’s backs. When I got back, Scott, my boyfriend then, was kicked out for being caught with his girlfriend.”
“Dad told me you were sneaky then,” Mom finally said something.
“I’ve changed. That’s why I’m asking for permission now.” I was losing patience. “Call Helen and confirm she needs help only I can give.”
“We’ll do that and discuss it ourselves,” Molly decided. “Go to school as normal on Friday and if we agree, you can spend the weekend in Hollywood,” Molly remarked. “That sounds so decadent.”
“Thanks, moms,” I jumped up and hugged them. I winked at ‘Gator and the twins. They looked at me suspiciously and with a degree of envy. And I thought bowling and fighting holy rollers was exciting.
The four of us went up to the third floor. Time for interrogation number two.
“Who’s Tina? And who’s Scott?” they all had to know.
“That was two years ago. Several boyfriends and girlfriends under the bridge.”
“That’s not why you were locked up?” Angie saw my exploits in darker terms.
“That was last year. Tina dumped me for my friend Pete and Scott said he loved Lydia more than me. Just teen drama.”
“What about Flo?”
“I hadn’t met her yet.”
“And John Boy?”
“He was in my English class but I ignored the little nerd.”
We all laughed. They gave up trying to trace my relationships, gay and straight.
Lying in bed, ‘Gator wanted to know all about Hollywood. I spared no details, even the teepee in Doug Weston’s back yard. He was aghast that I’d been part of a big orgy. I explained how breaking the same-age sex rule had gotten me into trouble. I decided I should call Doug to find out the details of Joey’s OD. ‘Gator insisted he listen to the call. We sneaked downstairs.
“Hey, Doug. It’s Tim, Joey’s cousin. I need to find out what happened to him. His mom told me he’s in the hospital.”
“He’s okay. But how are you doing? We stopped talking ages ago.” Typical self-involved Hollywood attitude.
“I had to grow up. I’m 17 – probably too old for you.”
“You sell me short, young man. I remain besotted.”
“I’m probably coming out to try and get Joey to get away from the drugs.”
“You want to stay here again? The boys will love to see you.”
“Never doubt your charm, Tim. Are you ready to move here permanently?”
“I’ve applied to Harvard next year.”
“You have grown up.”
“Tell me what happened to Joey.”
“Nothing’s different. Still hooked on heroin and he OD’d. Old news.”
“Think he’s ready to go home? That’s what his mom wants.”
“That boy is too stubborn for me. Maybe you can charm him. He’s really a burnout now. Selling himself for less and less. But he’ll never give it away.”
“It scares me, Doug. I’ll do my best. I hope you’ll be able to back me up.”
“Oh, I’d love that.”
“I’ll call when I get in.”
‘Gator looked at me with his mouth wide open. “How old’s that guy?”
“Pretty old. He collects boys. You don’t wanna know.”
“Okay. I think I should come to protect ya.”
“Thanks, ‘Gate. You’re the best but I knows how to protect maself.” I fell back into good ol’ boy mode.
“Anyway, who’d milk the cows if’n I’s gone?”
“Ol’ Bessie’ll miss me. Give her a kiss from me.”
“I’ll be kissin’ cows’ asses while y’alls kissin’ Hollywood stars.”
“Yeah, on the ass.”
“I’m off to kiss ass in the twins’ room.”
“Good luck on that one.”
Next morning at Aimless High, the twins told everyone I was going to Hollywood. They all wished me good luck, thinking it was my big break. Even Mrs. McCarthy told me she knew I’d make it. The moms came and collected me before final bell. My flight left at 2 pm. After a Denver layover, I’d landed at LAX at 6 pm. The moms had given me several hundred dollars, warning I had to call them if any emergency happened. They only ‘sorta’ trusted me. I used the cash to take a cab to Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital. Joey looked terrible. His good looks were ruined by acne and he couldn’t weigh more than 130 pounds. He still was feisty as ever.
“Look what the cat dragged in,” was his first remark.
“Look who got dragged in by a mountain lion,” I laughed at him.
He expected sympathy but quickly grinned that I wasn’t going all social worker on him.
“Yeah, You should see how the lion looks.”
I resisted my urge to rush up and hug him, sitting on the edge of the bed instead.
“Did Doug call ya to say I’s OD’d, so ya’d rush out here and see him?”
“Naw. It was Helen. She wants me to bring ya home to Massachusetts.”
“That ain’t happenin.’”
“Yeah, stubbornness is a family trait.”
He looked me over, head to toe. “Whoa. Ya growed up hotter’n ever,” he whistled.
“This ain’t ‘bout me. How ya gonna stop the drugs?”
“They got me goin’ ta rehab after I’m released.”
“How’s that work?”
“Thirty days on the County and I get out clean.”
“Get out where?”
“LA. Doug’ll take me back. He’s easy. A blow job every week for room and board.”
I didn’t fault Doug for causing Joey’s problems, but he sure made it easy.
“Helen wants you back. Even Andy Warhol says they miss ya in the City.”
“You talk with old Andy?”
“Ya don’t know about my band and all the times we’ve been on Page Six in the Post? Andy’s our patron.”
“Movin’ in on my territory?”
“You left. Last time we were together was in the Grove – our lost weekend, two years ago.”
He looked quizzically at me. “My memory’s not so good now. That when I went to Miami?”
“Ya don’t remember David and Jill, the Jimmy Cliff movie, and having so much sex we got over each other?”
“Yeah. Every time we did it, you fell asleep. It was hot. Ya still a fag?”
“’Course, and I got girlfriends, too. My boyfriend’s rich. He lives at the Dakota on Central Park West.”
“He as old as Doug?”
“Naw. He’s my age. I don’t fuck around with anyone who’s not as young as I am.”
“Ya told Doug that yet?”
“Well. I’m here fer y’all, not him.”
He reached out to me, his arm still hooked up to the intravenous drip. He looked scary. I slid up the bed and held his hand. I knew drug addiction was not contagious but he was making me feel ill. I felt so sad. He was my first love. I’d moved past him and he was five years older than me. I felt an overwhelming urge to call Dr. Kam for advice. We just sat there looking at each other.
“Ya best leave before this becomes a pity party,” he dismissed me.
“My life has been so great since we went to the City together. After I stopped being a jock, my friends started a band. I met Bruce Springstein and played CBGB’s. My boyfriend, Jack, and I started homeless shelters for runaways. We opened for Lynyrd Skynyrd and I got arrested after we got the fans to break down the fences. I hid out in the Everglades for four months and escaped to Iowa where Mom now lives. I got twin step-sisters my age and we started a new band, the Triplets. Jack came back from Switzerland and I went to stay with him in the City. We met John Lennon’s son, Julian, and started a band called Dakota. His dad played with us at our only gig. All ‘cos ya took me to the City in 1973. Hell, ya taught me to take risks ‘cos yer only young once. All ‘cos of you, Joey. I ain’t abandon’d ya.”
After this long speech, he was speechless. I hugged him, ignoring all the needles and tubes he was hooked up to. The nurse came in and looked at us with mild disgust.
“Visiting hours are over. You’d best go,” she ordered.
“Sure,” I said and gave Joey a deep French kiss. Who cared that he was at Death’s Door.
“How ya getting around?” Joey asked. “Wanna have my bus pass. I ain’t goin’ nowhere.”
I nodded. He climbed out of bed, his ass hanging out of the hospital johnny. He was all skin and bones, not a bit of flesh, with his arms and legs as thin as a pencil. His ass was nothing but loose skin. I shuddered, took the bus pass, and was gone.
I figured it was too late to bother Dr. Kam. Time to go to the Troubadour and meet up with Doug. The hospital was at the eastern end of Hollywood and the club at the border of West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. The Sunset bus would take me across town. I’d walk down Doheny to the club on Santa Monica Boulevard. I was ready for the Nightlife.
Going by bus in LA was counter to the prevailing attitude that everyone has a car and no one walks or takes the bus. Most bus patrons were minorities on their way to work, probably illegals as they avoided contact with everyone lest they be noticed. On the other hand, Blacks were not going to be deported, regardless of how their ancestors came to the U.S. Young dudes roamed the bus aisles as if they owned them, which they did. Two dudes with ‘fros dropped into the seat next to me, excited to find a hick from the sticks to ‘goof’ on. I was more than willing to play the part in their social drama.
“Where’s ya get them duds, man?” they quizzed me. “Yer from Fresno, right?’
“Naw. Iowa,” I bravely revealed my innocence.
“Ya got a buck. I need a soda.”
“How ‘bout a juice,” I reached in my backpack and pulled out one of the provisions Mom had packed. “Take a hit. We kin share,” as I popped the top.
They both stared at me, incredulous. “I don’t want yer spit.”
“Then y’all take the first hit. I ain’t ‘fraids of a little spit.”
He tentatively took the can and drank a small amount. Then he elaborately spit it back into the can, handing it back to me.
“Not to yer likin’?”
“Ya said ya wanted some spit.”
“I said a little, not an ocean.”
They laughed. “Why ya in LA, Iowa?” one asked.
“My cousin’s in Hollywood-Pres. I come to get ‘im out.”
“Where ya goin’ now?”
“To his house in West Hollywood.”
“He’s a fag, huh?”
“More like a hustler.” I hadn’t lied yet.
“You a hustler too?”
“Why. Ya interested?”
“Fuck, no, honky. I ain’t no fag.”
“Ya wanna go with us and get high?”
“Naw. I’s goin’ to a club. Probably git high there.”
“A gay club?”
“Naw. The Troubadour. It’s rock.”
“Ya like disco?”
“Jist KC and the Sunshine Band. They’s from Miami.”
“That’s cool. What’s ‘bout rap?”
“Like Grand Master Flash?”
“How ya knows ‘bout them in I-o-way?”
“Used ta live in Miami.”
“You’s a Southern boy. Don’t like Blacks?’
“I’s Southern but so’s my Black friends.”
“We’s from South-Central.”
“Sound Southern ta me.”
They both looked at me. “Ya tryin’ to get over on us?”
“Naw, but yer not getting’ over on me neither.”
They stood up. “Okay, white boy. Ya gonna give me a dollar?”
I handed him my juice. “Maybe ya kin sell this here can o’ spit fer a buck.”
They shook their heads, laughed and looked for a better victim.
They got off at Western. I watched as they walked toward Hollywood Boulevard. Three white kids moved in on me, laughing that I had foiled the Black kids’ hustle.
“How you get out of givin’ them two yer money?” one asked me.
“Is that what they wanted?” I innocently asked.
“We know you ain’t no hick from the sticks.”
“Yer wrong. I gots ta milk cows every mornin’. I jist bin ta New York and ain’t ‘fraids o’ no one.”
“Ya wanna get high with us?”
“Naw. I’s goin’ to a club. Ever’one’s high there.”
“Naw, 17, but I know the owner.”
“Can ya gets us in?”
“I kin try.”
“Oh, that’s too fancy.”
They got off at Highland.
“See ya, I-o-way.
I saw a bunch of similar kids hanging about the bus stop. They were checking out the cruisers in cars. I was learning Hollywood street smarts quickly. Hollywood High was on the opposite corner. Past La Brea the hustlers were all female, or maybe some trannies as well. iHop seemed the center of their attention, although there were many street walkers. By the time we got to the Sunset Strip I started to recognize landmarks from movies. A tall tower building advertised the Playboy Club. I saw the railroad car diner from Annie Hall. Sunset turned west again at Tower Records, with the entire store front covered with blow-ups of album covers. I got excited when I saw the Whiskey. I jumped off the bus and went up to the ticket window.
“Come back, Sunday afternoon, kid. We let everyone in for local only bands. We got Van Halen this weekend. They’re from Pasadena.”
I just wanted to think about the Doors, Jim Morrison and the Riot on Sunset Strip. It was less exciting that night, but I knew the history.
I walked down San Vicente toward Santa Monica. It was mostly residential until I got closer. Instead of turning right toward Beverly Hills and the club, I mistakenly turned left. I was drawn to a tough black haired chick, dressed in leather, like Pat Benatar and Suzie Quatro, smoking outside a commercial building, at the corner of Larrabee .
“Hey, I like your look,” I walked up and spoke with her.
She looked at me and laughed. “Not sure you can comment on style and dress, looking like a hayseed.”
“Hi, I’m Andy. Ya don’t likes my Love jeans. Its what I wear when my band performs.”
“Cool. Chicks rock in LA. My first band, we had three chicks doing back-ups. My new band has two girls on bass.”
“I guess that’s some progress. Ya don’t like chicks. Are you gay?”
“Yeah, but I like chicks, especially if they rock out.”
“What’ya want? Style advice? Your Love jeans are pretty raggedy.”
“Think I should wear leather?” I looked her up and down.
“Yer too young for leather bars. Come back during the day. My engineer, Jimmy, will find you more enticing.”
“I ain’t cute enough?”
“Yer cute enough, but that look is way over-supplied in West Hollywood.”
I laughed. “I’m just visiting. You know how to get to the Troubadour?”
“Yer goin’ the wrong way. It’s about six blocks west. Here’s Jimmy’s card. Tell ‘em ya need a style update.”
“Thanks, Joan. Or should I say, Pat.”
“Get outta here.”
“I’m here to see Doug. I’m Tim. He’s expecting me.”
The bouncer looked at his list without seeing my name. Over his shoulder, I saw my friend Tony.
“Tony. Tony,” I yelled.
He looked over, slightly bored, until he recognized me. He ran over.
“Let him in. He’s with Doug.” The magic password.
“What’s up?’ Tony gave me a quick hug and wink. “Doug know you’re here?”
“Yeah. I’m here to rescue Joey. He OD’d.”
“Not the first time, except now the medics came and hauled him away.”
“I just saw him in the hospital. They’re about to release him to drug rehab.”
“That never works.”
“Y’all sounds like ya seen it a’fore.”
“Hey, yer a country boy now?”
“Livin’ it up in I-o-way.”
“No shit. You were so mature two years ago. Teachin’ us how to handle the gay life.”
“I’m mostly straight now – just got old boyfriends in New York and Florida. They both came for Christmas and blew my reputation in front of the whole school.”
“Didcha about die?”
“Naw, we gots in a big fight with the whole football team on New Year’s Eve. I knocked out two and put down three others ‘fore they decided they liked me.”
“You’re a trip. Ya gonna stay at Doug’s?”
“Hopes to. Is he here?”
“Later. I’ve moved up from the tee pee. I even get paid to work here at the club.”
“Hmm. Extra duties at the house, too?”
“I ain’t lyin’ to you, but that’s personal.”
I punched him on the arm and we laughed. He led me upstairs into Doug’s office. Tony sat behind the big desk where he spread out his arms.
“Welcome to my domain,” and he laughed. “I’m in charge when Doug’s not here.”
“Yer shittin’ me?”
“Naw. I learned from your example and stopped putting Doug off by pretending I didn’t like the sex.”
“Did he buy ya a car?”
“Naw. I earned enough here to pay for a beat-up Datsun. Don’t laugh. It’s perfect for city driving. I told Doug I didn’t want to be his boyfriend but his partner.”
“You own the club.”
“No way. I just want to work and pay my own way. What we do in bed is secret.,” he winked.
“I found him really sweet, just a bit possessive.”
“I like being possessed,” as he gave me a manic look. “Wanna a drink?”
“Beer’s cool. Gotta a joint?”
“Hang on,” as he picked up the phone. Within moments a cocktail waitress brought up a pitcher of beer.
She asked me for ID. As I sputtered with some lame excuse, they broke up, laughing at me. Tony walked out of the office, returning shortly with a big fat joint. He lit it up and passed it to me. The last time I’d smoked was at the Dakota with Jack’s cousins. I instantly felt paralyzed, sitting on the couch, unable to move, with a big idiot grin on my face. Tony came and sat with me as we hit the joint. He pretty much attacked me with serious kissing and a back massage. I was too stoned to really respond. It was total role reversal, but I didn’t care. He enjoyed coming on to me and found it amusing that I was so passive.
“The old Tim is no more,” he lamented. I wasn’t about to relate all my adventures since that weekend in 1974. I was happy that he liked me and we were just two teens in Hollywood, looking for fun.
“I’m not used to getting this stoned anymore. How about this?” I pulled his tee shirt up, licked his nipples as I undid his belt and popped his jeans’ buttons.
“Hang on,” as he jumped up and closed the office door. No longer paralyzed I jumped up and tackled him when he turned around at the door. We rolled around on the fluffy shag carpeting (it did have some nice qualities), while I pulled his jeans off his ass and grabbed his butt cheeks. We both looked like idiots with stupid grins. Doug chose that moment to walk in on us. We didn’t notice him until he made a polite cough. We separated instantly. Seeing it was him, we both started giggling.
“You’re molesting my boyfriend,” Doug accused me. Tony must get a pass with him. “Last time you were here, he changed into the boy I love now.”
“He’s totally different, Doug. Now he’s a straight country boy from Iowa. I attacked him.”
“Oh, the shame of it,” Doug moaned. “I have trained you to be a monster.”
“Naw. He still loves me,” Tony proclaimed.
“Hey, I’m right here, in case you didn’t notice.”
We got up and Tony pulled up his jeans.
“Hi, Doug,” I announced with a goofy grin. “Tony says you’ve discovered him.”
He came over and hugged me. “Welcome back. You still a big jock?”
“Naw. My old life ended once I returned from visiting you. Now I’m a rocker, although my bowling team was national high school champs this year.”
“A bowling jock?”
“Yeah. It started as a joke and remained fun. I got the football team to join. It’s a co-ed sport.”
“Life in Iowa must seem tame.”
“We had rural Baptists tryin’ ta kill my boyfriend. He almost died from snake bite in some crazy religious revival.”
“They got cowboys and Indians in Iowa?” Tony interjected.
“That’s what Julian Lennon wanted to know when I took my boyfriend to New York to be cured.”
“Were you involved in Julian’s band. I heard he has his dad play for Catholic youth groups. So much for ‘Imagine.’”
“Yeah. We’re called ‘Dakota,’ where he and my boyfriend have apartments. Nina Bernstein was also in it. John Lennon just got up and played one song with us. Dakota’s pretty kaput after I went back to Ames and Julian and Nina went back to junior high.”
“I’ll showcase ‘Dakota’ here at the Troubadour, if you want.”
“Thanks, but we only play covers. It was just to have a party at St Patrick’s in New York. My real band is still working on our own set. We’re called ‘False Gods’ but we’re broken up right now.”
Tony was barely listening as I bragged about my rock cred, obviously bored.
“Let’s have brunch tomorrow, so I can fill you in. I’m more interested in what’s happened with Tony’s life in Hollywood.”
“Yeah. I interrupted what I love – horny teenage boys going at it,” Doug agreed.
Tony perked up. Both of us went over to Doug and started molesting him.
“No three-ways in the office,” he declared. “You boys go out tonight and we’ll get brunch after a real session at the house in the morning.”
Doug winked and we ran out to hit the scene.
“Has the club changed the type of bands that play here?” I asked Tony.
“Shit, no. Doug thinks we should be a showcase for old rock n roll acts, like his breakout shows for Elton John, years ago.”
“Yeah, it seems the same as last time. Borin’ bands and chicks tryin’ ta remember when they was hot.”
Tony laughed. “We’ll go up Santa Monica to the Starwood. It’s where the kids are, a disco plus live acts in a separate stage area. If the band sucks, there’s always dancing to records.”
“Can we get in? I’m still under age.”
“If you know the bouncers, like I do.”
“Let’s go.” I’d stopped worrying about Joey.
Tony’s Datsun looked like a tin can with wheels. He drove like it was a North Carolina demolition derby, never braking and weaving through traffic. I whooped and hollered like I was with Wayne and Floyd. Tony blasted KROQ through his tinny radio, Bay City Rollers. I’d never heard them before. We parked off the boulevard, next to an adult porno shop. I dragged Tony inside. I had seen them in Times Square but never indulged. We laughed at the magazine covers and got kicked out after both of us crowded into a video booth and were mocking the simulated sex show. The manager caught us with our pants down and dragged us outside.
“Give us our money back,” Tony demanded we be refunded the quarters we had spent on the video machine.
“Get the fuck outta here. No minors allowed.”
“Yeah, we’ll tell the cops you let us watch porno. You owe us 50 cents,” I challenged him.
“I’ll kick yer asses,” he proclaimed while giving us two quarters. We laughed and ran through traffic to the Starwood parking lot across the street. The bouncer at the door smiled at Tony and gave us in-n-out stamps. We went into the stage area and up the stairs to the VIP balcony seating. Right when we sat down, a cocktail waitress came over and we ordered a pitcher of beer. When I got my wallet out to pay, Tony told me to put my money away. He was always compt’d. Cool.
“Man. You got the life,” I smiled at him.
“Yeah. Bein’ Doug’s boyfriend is like havin’ the godfather of rock. All the bands want me to get them booked at the Troubadour but I always get them booked here. It’s much more lively.”
“You book bands?”
“Yeah, well through Doug. Now is when you try ta get your band booked.”
“Naw. We’s pretty broke up. I was arrested at our last gig. We opened for Skynyrd in Miami.”
“That show. It was classic. That was the band with Max, the pot dog.”
“Yeah. Max was my dog. The cops killed him and arrested me for an open container. I had to hide out in the Everglades for four months before going to Ames.”
“In Iowa? Your band was ‘False Gods?’”
“Was. Now we’s a country rock band, Hillbilly Brothers, makin’ babies with one another.”
“Yer a trip,” he laughed. “We’ll definitely book you, maybe out in the Valley at the Palomino.”
“Thanks, but no thanks. Our drummers are fighting. Our bass player is married, havin’ a baby, and his wife hates us. The new singer cain’t hit high notes. And Max is dead.”
“Typical Hollywood drama.”
“It was time ta move on. That show got out of control. Now I’m jist a kid, on the bowlin’ team in high school.”
“Yer a nerd?”
“Yep. Goin’ to Harvard in the fall.”
“That fancy private school out in the Valley?”
“Naw. College in Boston. My rich boyfriend wants ta go there – nerdland.”
“I’m glad I quit high school. It was for jerks.”
“You scored the rich sugar daddy.”
“Naw. Doug loves me ‘cause I really love him. I ain’t a prostitute.”
“I didn’t say that, but I was definitely a prostitute when I came out here two years ago.”
A tall kid in platforms and glittered to death interrupted us, sitting down and giving Tony a double air kiss. He looked over, recognized me and lit up with a grin on his face and a joint from his pocket.
“Tim. You came back.” It was meek and silent Jimmy.
“Jesus, Jimmy. You grew up.”
“You were my first friend. Now I’m real popular,” as he preened for me with his hand behind his head, pushing his unruly hair into a crown like a rooster.
We passed the joint around, which brought over several girls and guys to share the weed. Our table suddenly was over-crowded. Again, getting stoned made me temporarily paralyzed. I watched everyone socializing, which was like an amusing sit-com. People came and went. I finally was able to move and dragged Tony and Jimmy away from the stoners.
“Let’s check out the disco,” I shouted over the club din. A band was playing on stage but they were too slow and ponderous. We stumbled down the stairs, due to Jimmy still not used to the platform shoes. It was all good. We ran into the disco side, where the heavy beat on Donna Summer was blasting.
All three of us hit the dance floor together. Other boys and girls joined us, accepting me as part of Tony’s crew. Thirty minutes later, I begged for a break to cool off with more beer. Our table in the VIP balcony was still over-crowded, so Jimmy took us into the parking lot. At the back of the lot, we smoked out. I had to be dragged/carried back inside, where Tony got us another pitcher backstage, where the lame band had just finished.
“We got kicked out of the porno across the street for jerking off together in a booth,” Tony bragged.
“Let’s go up to Hollywood Boulevard and jerk it in the Pussycat Theater. All those Selma whores will be there jerking their tricks. We’ll make their night by putting on a show,” Jimmy was full of perverted ideas.
Tony drove with the three of us in the front of his Datsun. Jimmy rode pussy with an arm around each of us. I paid the three dollars for us to get into the X-rated movie on the corner of Cherokee and Hollywood. Mom’s money was spent for porno but I wasn’t concerned she’d find out. It was too late in Iowa for me to call for permission to go to the movies. It was a slippery slope.
We all sat in the front row and went at each other, jerking and blowing in a mass of teenaged asses and heads bouncing up and down. Soon almost everyone in the theater had moved down to watch our show while the lame straight porn film played above our heads. Our three-way went on for twenty minutes or so, until some guy tried to join in. We vigorously rebuffed the perv and marched up the aisle.
“The shows over, boys,” Jimmy announced.
Half the crowd followed us out of the theater. Tony led everyone next door to the Gold Cup, where the regular hustlers and johns moved to the back, as our posse of twenty perverts invaded the long counter up front. Tony and Jimmy began negotiating sex trade, charging twenty dollars for their telephone numbers to arrange future dates. To prove they weren’t ripping the johns off, each had to go out back for quick blowjobs. Once attested as ‘for real,’ they sold their numbers quickly. As the ‘new kid in town,’ I was even more popular. I didn’t have a phone number and didn’t pass out my Hyland House home number, even though the twins were sure to enjoy the calls. I did get offered ‘hundreds’ to go off for anal fucking, but I maintained I had a boyfriend and didn’t cheat. Interest in me fell off quickly.
“Let’s go eat at Arthus J’s,” Tony suggested once they had collected all their future date payments. Tony’s little car was so easy to park, I realized it was perfect. Hollywood was a mini-Times Square with parking.
Arthus J’s was another hustling trip. This time we acted innocent and shoed away the johns. I was famished and the greasy hamburgers and fries were just what I needed. The real action was outside on the corner of Highland and Santa Monica. It was after midnight, now Saturday morning. I felt like a kid again, just doing what everyone else did, without a care that it was all perverted. After eating, we three joined the hustlers on the corner. Once the real hustlers realized we were not serious about going off with tricks, they used our unspoiled looks to lure cruisers. Every time one stopped and we went over to negotiate, they would push us out of the way and take the trick. We were not pros.
At one o’clock we drove up the strip, past the Whiskey which looked dead and hung out outside the Roxy, where the show was just getting out. When I saw Lou Reed on the marquee, I kicked myself for missing the show. We had covered his songs so many times, I felt I knew him. And, he was from New York, my spiritual home. I chatted with anyone who could tell me about the show, which songs he played, what his solo stuff was like. The sidewalk was packed. Angelenos appreciated New York acts and turned out at their shows. I told Tony and Jimmy that Joey was the real ‘Little Joey’ on ‘Walk on the Wild Side.’
“Yeah. He never once gives it away,” Tony confirmed.
“Where’s he now? Is he in LA?” a fan asked.
“Yeah, but he OD’d and is in Hollywood-Presbyterian,” I admitted.
“Can he have visitors?” everyone in LA is an obvious celebrity groupie or looky-loo.
“Naw, he gets out tomorrow. He’s a retired celebrity.”
LA closes down at 2 am. Tony said we could go to an after hours place in Silverlake, where all the gays who haven’t hooked up yet go around the parking lot groping each other until they find a dick they like. Jimmy’s eyes sparkled with excitement but I was done in. To think that on Friday morning I was milking cows at ‘Gator’s family farm and at the end of the day I was being asked to be milked myself in East Hollywood – it was enough. I needed a bed.
Packed into the Datsun, Jimmy pulled out another joint. Instead of getting paralyzed, I perked up and we were singing to the radio and generally goofing on each other. Jimmy kissed me on the cheek, saying he loved me, but I’d have to pay if I wanted him.
“That’s okay, Jimmy. Save yourself for phone sex. It’ll be non-stop later after all the johns you sold your number to.”
“I know you love me anyway,” he crowed. And I did, sort of.
Tony drove us to Doug’s and led me to his room. He had graduated from the tee pee to the house.
“I can sleep in Joey’s room, if you want,” I offered, knowing he had gotten off more than once already.
“No way. Doug’s gonna come in and molest me later and I want all three of us to do it.”
That was pretty explicit. I remembered how gentle Doug was during sex, so it was no problem for me.
“Are you two less passionate than at first?”
“No way. It just keeps getting better. I know he crushes badly on you still, but all three of us are so tight, it’ll be sweet. I do love him, which I’ll bet you really don’t. Will it bother you if we share you?”
I just laughed. “All planned out, huh?”
“Naw. I just know it’s gotta be sweet.”
I kissed him to seal the deal. We stripped off and fell asleep cuddled up. I barely remember Doug coming in, although he was deep inside me and all three of us came simultaneously. My post-coital sleep habit made it hard to remember the whole performance. I knew it was not just a performance for the two of them. I looked around for Jace, but he never showed up. I wondered if I should tell them about the Friendly Ghost.
I woke up early and brought coffee into Tony’s room. Doug had us move to the master bedroom, but refrained from acting out the master role. All three of us were comfortable drinking coffee in the king-size bed. Jimmy came in and joined us later on.
After we confessed our sins from the previous night’s whoring, the talk turned to Joey. Lou Reed performing at the Roxie reminded me of Joey’s role in ‘Walk on the Wild Side.’
“What to do with that boy?” Doug actually was concerned.
“He’s hardly a boy at 22,” I contended.
“He’s never grown up,” Tony observed.
I was 17 and felt so much older than when Joey and I had our weekend of lust in Coconut Grove. I’d grown up. He’d lost his glamour. It made him old at 22.
“His mom, my aunt, asked me to bring him back home to Massachusetts.”
‘Road Runner, Road Runner,” Jimmy sung the Modern Lovers hit.
“Jesus, New England. He’ll die of boredom,” Tony worried.
“He’ll get back into the New York scene again,” I suggested.
“A sure ticket down the addiction highway,” Doug countered.
“Maybe if he just takes a break by being home,” I said hopefully.
Doug suggested, “I know of this club in Northampton, Rahar’s. He could book the bands, like Tony does for me. I’ll call the manager. He’s always asking favors from me.”
I felt a great relief. My friends were all rallying for Joey. I just started hugging everyone and of course, all the tears started up. I was such a sap.
“You’re crying,” Tony noticed.
“Yeah, what a jerk. I only cry when I’m happy.”
“You are so weird.”
“Yeah, but we love ya,” Jimmy added.
“My little family,” Doug hugged the three of us all at once and then got out of bed. “I’ll go make a call. Then we can all visit the burnout together.”
The tears dried up when I realized how famished I was. I led the other two into the kitchen and did my best Mom impression, making pancakes and bacon. No blueberries yet. It was April. It didn’t slow any of us down. We all had large stacks of Aunt Jemima buttermilk cakes.
Doug came in while we were scarfing the calories, taking a few bites from Tony’s plate. Tony grinned at the favoritism and his primacy in the house.
“I called and spoke to the Rahar’s manager. They need a booking agent. The club, which has been there forever as a college bar, is hosting bands more and more. Their stage area is small but if Joey can pull in the fans, they’ll expand it. I said he has music connections in New York.”
“Do we want him getting back into that scene?” I asked.
“We can’t babysit him. If he can’t keep off the dope, he’ll soon be dead or in jail.”
“We’ll help him from here with bands. All he has to do is the bookings.”
“They can call it the Troubadour East,” Jimmy cracked.
“No way. It’s a backwater except for the kids from all the local colleges.”
“Yay. I’m going to Harvard there this fall.”
“I thought you were putting me on,” Doug laughed.
“Well, it’s all I have going for now. My boyfriend’s already in there. I’ll probably get in due to his connections.”
“The rich kid from the Dakota, right?”
“Yeah. He’s like all rich people, possessive as hell.”
“Trouble in paradise.”
“He gets upset and becomes unable to speak when he doesn’t get his way.”
“Better than refusing to have sex,” Doug noted.
“That’s how I get him over his pouting – mad crazy fucking.”
“I hope you boys are learning something here,” Doug told his live-in boyfriends.
“Let’s go see Joey,” I changed the direction of this conversation, to the relief of Tony and Jimmy. The thought and visual of Doug fucking like a teenager was unsettling.
Doug got us a taxi, refusing to ride in Tony’s ‘rust bucket,’ as he called it. We walked into Joey’s room at Hollywood Presbyterian.
“Jeez,” he complained, “youse come to torture me?”
“Ya can’t lay about in the hospital forever,” Doug announced.
“The cops ain’t lettin’ me come home wid youse?”
“Helen wants y’all back, Joey. We’re tryin’ to make that work so you stop tryin’ ta kill yerself,” I stated.
“I ain’t killin’ maself. It’s the drugs.”
“Ya need to stop, Joey,” Tony spoke up.
“Yeah,” agreed Jimmy.
“Jesus, the kiddy patrol is on my butt.”
I sat on his bed and grabbed his hand. He tried to pull away, but his wrists were locked to the bed by handcuffs. Then he looked downcast, as I made my pitch.
“Y’all knows the bar Rahar’s, in Northhampton?”
“Yeah. I bin there – college kids mostly.”
“Doug knows the manager and called to see about you working there.”
“What washing up?”
“No, dip shit. They want to use your contacts here and in NYC to book bands. It’s a real rock n roll job.”
He looked doubtful. “I ain’t never really worked, except some movie shoots which was just getting off for pay.”
“Sounds like rock n roll to me,” I said encouragingly.
We all laughed.
“Ya just wanna get rid of me, huh?”
“Joey, we almost lost ya. I’d hate myself if you died. I luv ya, cus.” I started to cry.
“Oh, jeez. Youse always makin’ me feel sentimental. Fuck it.”
I hugged him and wouldn’t let go. A doctor walked into the room, seeing our little family scene.
“You said you had no family, Joseph. I’ve seen this scene enough to know this is yours.”
“This crybaby is my cousin, Dr. Engle. He wants me to go home to my folks in Massachusetts.”
“Now, you do have parents, as well. You have to go to rehab, son. The court has ordered it.”
“What if he does outpatient rehab where his parents live. Doug has found him a job back in Massachusetts,” I spoke up, wiping away my tears.
“Just by moving, it won’t cure his addiction.”
“That’s why he should be at home and getting help there.”
“Well, let me speak with his parents. He refused to admit he even had anyone who cares.”
“They care, and we do too. I came from Iowa when I found out. These are my friends, as well as Joey’s. They care, too.”
“What’s the telephone number, Joseph? If I approve, I’m sure the court will be glad to send you to Massachusetts where the State there can pay for you.”
Joey wrote Helen’s phone number and gave it to Dr. Engle. He shot me a nasty look, but I knew it for the best.
“If it seems above-board, I’ll recommend you be released to your family. You’ll know on Monday.”
“Thanks, Doc,” Joey looked somewhat appreciative. “And thanks, you dipshits,” he turned to us.
“It’s up to you to make it work,” Doug warned him.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. I just love livin’ at home.”
I broke into a Ramones song, ‘We’re a Happy Family’
Doug gave me a quizzical look. “When did you become a punk?”
“When wasn’t I? My band played CBGB’s last year.”
“You’re hardly a pinhead.”
“So what. We play hard and fast, unlike the geriatric rock that sells records.”
“Whoa. That’s my bread and butter.”
“Wanna hear our set? I’d love ta play fer y’all at the club.”
“Yeah, Doug. Let him play,” both Tony and Jimmy begged.
“We don’t do tryouts. I book professional bands.”
“Call Ry Cooder at Sounds of the South in Memphis. He booked us, until I got arrested when we opened for Skynyrd last year.”
“You’re False Gods?”
“Were. That show was our swan song. Our star, Max the pot dog, was shot and killed by the cops. I ended up hiding out in the Everglades for four months. I skipped Florida to my mom’s in Iowa. Everyone went their separate ways. We was only 16.”
“Why do you want a tryout then?”
“Just to play for you. You’re the legend. I’m the punk.”
“He played with John Lennon last month in New York,” Tony added.
“How’d that happen?”
“My boyfriend lives in his building and we started a fun cover band with his son Julian. We even did a Wings song, Paul McCartney was teaching him.”
“No, Julian. ‘Silly Love Songs.’”
“I don’t know that one.”
“It’s coming out on their next album.”
“Well, False Gods has a reputation from that last show. You think I’d like your music.”
“It’s meant for kids, and yer a big kid at heart.”
“Well, let’s go.”
“What about me?” Joey shouted.
“Yer no longer a kid when you become an addict.”
“I know Johnny Thunders,” he countered.
“That only proves you’re an addict.”
“Enough,” I yelled. “No wonder he OD’d, living with all this negative criticism.”
“Let me come. I neva heard him play,” Joey begged.
“Yeah, right. You’ll sneak away to score the second we get to West Hollywood.”
“Man, gimme a break,” Joey moaned. It was the first time I saw through his junkie act – sad.
“Y’all’s stayin’ right here ‘tils I takes ya home to mama,” I pronounced.
I saw Jimmy and Tony giggling with Doug, probably about my fake country persona.
In minutes we’re all in the back of a huge Yellow Cab, cruising down Santa Monica Blvd. At Larrabee, I made the driver pull over when I saw the same leather chick smoking on the corner. I jumped out.
“Hey, Joan, Come with. I’s got me a tryout at the Troubador. I needs someone ta play for,” I begged.
She dragged me into Larrabee Studios, running up to the engineer inside a sound-proof recording booth. “Tell Jimmy what you said,” Joan ordered.
“I want Joan to listen to me play a tryout at the Troubadour.”
“Seriously? No one tries out there. Ya get booked when ya’s got a reputation.”
“Well, I does. Last year anyways. We rocked a show with Lynyrd Skynyrd and caused a riot.”
“Yeah, right. That band hasn’t been heard of since.”
“It’s just me now.”
“Yer tellin’ me, yer False Gods.”
“Singer/guitarist. Just come listen.”
They followed me out to the waiting cab and saw Doug with the two rent boys.
“How’dcha find this one, Doug?”
“He’s Joey’s cousin. He spent a weekend here in ’74.”
“Oh, a tee-pee boy,” Jimmy snarked.
“Naw, he was innocent then. Now he’s saying he’s in a ghost band.”
Jace appeared, at least to me. I poked Tony and nodded toward Jace. Tony squinted but didn’t see him. Jimmy did and whispered, “Who’s that?”
“Y’all can see ‘im? His name’s Jace. He’s a ghost.”
“No shit,” they both said.
“He’s my first real boyfriend. He started the band and taught us all to play.”
“He’s yer boyfriend. That mean you fuck the dead.”
“Sure thing and he fucks me. We have the sex pact.”
“What’s that mean?”
“I can’t get it on unless he’s there.”
They both shivered. I was surprised Jimmy could see him if it bothered him to think about fucking his ghostly dick. Jimmy always had a big heart. Jace sat with him in the cab.
“Kim Fowley’s got his crew here to make sure Joan’s new album gets done. We’ll all walk to the club. Just don’t start ‘til we’re there,” Jimmy directed.
Once at the Troubadour, Doug found a cool Fender Telecaster for me to play. It lacked a reverb handle but I wasn’t going to play guitar hero, just crank out the leads on our songs. I warmed up with some Ramones, while we waited for Joan and her entourage. I put on my best Johnny Ramone with the matching Telecaster.
“This song’s for Joey, ‘Beat on the Brat.”
“We told ya ta wait fer us.”
“Jist warmin’ up with a little New York junkie rock.”
“Hey, we’re just kids.”
“Yeah, Runaway kids.”
“Well, we wannna hear yer own songs.”
‘Go deep to the South
When you can go no more
Find our city to try to score
Come to our cool house
We bewilder with 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.’
I finished with a long riff. The musicians looked interested but were too cool to ‘get into it.’
“Here’s how we lived, ‘Sneakin’ Around,’
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”
After I sung ‘cum,’ I jumped off the stage, running up to Joan, singing:
“Shaka shaka love shaka shaka.”
Over and over again I sang the chorus, until she couldn’t help herself from shaking it to my guitar, which I was thrusting suggestively at her. She put her hands behind her head and responded to the beat with shakes and twists of her own. Her posse of mostly girls were all shaking it with her.
“Now, these were times we felt most alive, but we’re still teens,” and I broke into
“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’”
Then I went right into
“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 act real cruel
I really need…. you…
I say, …you..’
The girls had stopped dancing and were looking at me dreamily, or were they looking at Joan. It didn’t matter. I had set the mood.
“Well, all’s not easy for a pot-head teen and we did have our share o’ troubles, but we always found a way to stay free. This is for you Jimmy, Tony and Jimmy,” as I ran over to them, playing the intro to
‘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.”
Joan was looking perturbed that I had abandoned her, so I ran over, shouting, “And when I had no one to run to.” I jumped into the monkeyshines song
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”
Of course, Joan couldn’t stand not being the center of attention. Once I started to do the monkeyshines dance, she jumped in with me to mimic my monkey act.
Ha ha ha
He he he
Haw haw haw
Chee chee chee”
We ran around getting everyone below the age of 20 to join in. Larrabee Jimmy jumped in anyway, a total kid at 25. Joan had told me he was gay, so I was growing fonder, now that Jay was married and straight. I grabbed him from behind and jumped on his back. Together we chased the kids around. I stopped singing but no one noticed, as everyone else was doing their own vocals, no need for guitar or rhythm.
Doug looked concerned that his club was about to be trashed. Jimmy and I ran over and told him to relax.
Doug just shook his head.
Turning to me, “Are you done?”
“No. Let me do our band song, ‘False Gods?”
“Only after you settle them down. And that guitar is collector’s item,” as he pointed at the Stratocaster laying on the floor and kicked around.
I grabbed the guitar and jumped up on the stage. It was only about a foot high. I plugged back in and lit into the opening chords of ‘False Gods.’
“Stop,” I yelled into the mic. “Stop trashing Doug’s club. You’re ruining my tryout fer rock god.”
They slowed down but didn’t really stop. The chords I ripped kept them moving.
“So, now y’all knows ever’thin’ ‘bouts our backyard band. We got kicked out of the garage when Jace’s brother shot and killed him. So, this song’s dedicated to Max, the pot-sniffing rock star dog, who I inherited after Jace died.
“Where others feared to tread,
they gave us up for dead,
memories linger eternally,
as Lucifer’s proud plea,
a world of our own,
on high a black throne,
sing to make them see,
happy for eternity
…we are False Gods, we are False Gods…
a world so meek and blind,
we laugh at all of mankind,
we’re Satan’s band,
a world of endless flaws,
facades and miracles applause,
eulogized but despised,
shed your false disguise,
fall to your knees,
utter useless pleas,
…we are False Gods, we are False Gods…
pray in foreign tongues,
shoot your useless guns,
sacrifice hallowed sheep,
shun cold, dark streets,
you’re just nasty fleas,
Set your minds at ease
…False Gods, False Gods…
we live eternally,
we hear your painful screams,
keep cold certainty,
know just what we mean
….We are False Gods, False Gods..
… False Gods”
For the last verse I channeled my inner Robby and threw myself writhing on the floor, screaming out the lyrics. What the hell, I could tell Doug didn’t like my music. Might as well go all out on my own song. The kids lapped it up. No more trashing, as they crowded in front of the stage, watching me writhe. A nail caught the back of my briefs, giving me a full wedgie. Naturally that got me hard. At the end of the song, I jumped up, grabbed my balls and told everyone to leave. I herded them out the front of the house, thumping Joan and Jimmy several times with my hard dick. I slammed the door and made sure it was locked.
“Ya like them apples?” I crowed at Doug. His expression was not one of appreciation. Raucous rock had yet to invade the storied environs of Santa Monica and Doheny. I needed to play something more appropriate for the setting – Elton John’s ‘Crocodile Rock.’
I’d been playing for Joan and her Runaways. I could now play just for Doug. I ended with the Elvis version of ‘My Way.’
I put the guitar down and jumped off stage, running to Doug to hug and kiss him. I had done my best. Tony and Jimmy smiled slightly ill at ease with me hitting on their sugar daddy.
“What is this Jekyll and Hyde act? Just when I’d written off the moronic Ramones clone, you remind me that you were once the sweet and innocent boy who visited two years ago. Has life been that tough on you?”
“Y’all don’ts approve that I’s growed up now?”
“Like I’m ‘sposed to believe you’re just a country boy now.”
“I lives in I-o-way now. Whatcha ‘spect?” I stood alone in his club, pleading my case.
As he shook his head, Tony and Jimmy grabbed him by each arm and swore their loyalty to me.
“Those originals are great, Doug. They’re just about life, as a teenager. They’re real, and he plays like a maniac,” Tony argued.
Jimmy just hugged Doug, nodding in full agreement with Tony.
“I’m sorry, Tim. I was thinking and acting like a Hollywood music asshole. I can’t help it. I’m hungry. Wanna get pizza?” Doug knew the way to a boy’s heart.
“It doesn’t surprise me that you know how to play to a crowd. They were eating out of your hand and you whipped them into a frenzy. The image of you chasing them with your big dick is etched forever in my mind.”
“Thanks, but what’s the ‘but…’”
“I can only be terrorized at the thought of you backed up by a full band. I know what happened at the Skynyrd show in Miami.”
“Yeah. We was used ta playin’ small clubs and frats. We used the same tactics to excite the crowd and it caused a riot. I was arrested and have to hide out ‘til I’s 18.”
“You know I’d love to have you stay here.”
“Jeez, Doug. I jist wanna show y’all how much I’s grown up and improved,” as I leaned over and hugged him. Tony and Jimmy giggled at my obvious moves.
“Y’all ain’t ready ta be a rock star?” Doug mocked my country impersonation.
“I ain’t ready ta give up bein’ a kid jist yet.”
“Y’all com’n back now, when ya’s ready.” Doug kissed me on the head. I realized he was happy with the two boys who were actually attracted to him.
We returned to scarfing the pizza, while Doug worked on his manicotti and pasta.
Back at the house, I called Helen to catch up on the Joey situation.
“Oh, Tim. I knew you’d find a solution. The doctor said he’d get Joey released to come home. You even found him a job nearby.”
“Well, he’s an adult, Helen. He has to make it work. Drugs almost killed him. Can you deal with him?”
“What other choice is there? The doctor suggested Joey join AA. I thought it was only for alcoholics.”
“Alcohol is a drug. You should go to Al-anon. You’ll need all the support you can get.”
“Is it our fault he’s an addict?” she always treated me like I knew more than she did.
“Go to Al-anon. They teach you what you can do to help and what is strictly up to Joey.”
“We will. Thank God for you, Tim.”
“Are Jeff and Jerry there?”
“Oh, they’ll be so happy you want to say hi.”
“Hey, little cus,” I greeted Jeff. “Yer a teenager now.”
“Don’t remind me. Will I end up like Joey?”
“Gosh, y’all’s still a kid. Enjoy it while it lasts. Joey wanted ta grow up too fast. Y’all gonna welcome ‘im home.”
“If he lets us in his room.”
“Jist don’t be a’sleepin’ up there,” I remembered the water bed adventures too well. I couldn’t help feel protective of them.
“We ain’t sleepin’ with the freak,” Jeff swore.
“Let me say hi to Jerry.”
“Hi, Timmy,” he came on the line.
For once it didn’t make me mad to hear my boyhood name.
“What’s up, big guy. Y’all growed up now.”
“You sound funny.”
“Jist from livin’ in I-o-way. I’s a country boy now, even milk cows every mornin.’”
“Is Joey okay?”
“Yeah, he’s fine now. He’s comin’ home on Monday. Y’all gots ta be nice ta ‘im.”
“I will. He’s my brother.”
That kind of got to me, so I said good bye before I got embarrassed.
Jimmy saw my single tear. “Everything cool?” he asked.
Instead of answering, I broke into Sly Stone’s ‘Family Affair.”
He and Tony joined me. Doug knew this song and all four of were singing, our own little family.
It was a late LA afternoon, warm with a hazy sun dulling the pastel colors. I stripped off and jumped into the pool and started swimming laps. It was a reminder of how long ago I had done the same to clear my head. Now I was stretching my muscles, whichever ones were still there after 18 months of not working out. Doug and the boys jumped into the hot tub, au naturale. I soon joined them. Doug’s long poll of a dick invaded all three butts as he was lord of the Jacuzzi. It felt just as silken as last time. We three boys sucked each other off until Doug came finally from Tony’s squeezing orgasm. All four of us ended up in Doug’s king-size bed for an afternoon nap. I woke up as he was dressing to go to work.
“Stay in bed,” he ordered. “They’ll take you around later. Nothing happens until after ten in West Hollywood.”
As soon as he left, Tony and Jimmy jumped out of bed, dragging me with them. I had to laugh that they had faked out Doug, but maybe he knew better.
“What happened to the other tee-pee boys? Are you the last ones to stay.”
“Naw, once Doug found out that I really love him, there was no need for back-ups. They left on their own. Jimmy wanted to stay. I taught him how to please Doug and it all worked out. It’d be even better if you were here too.”
“No longer the shy guy from South Bay.”
“I get shit for having a sugar daddy, but I don’t see it that way ‘cause I work at the club and pay my way. I don’t care what anyone says.”
“Yeah, fuck ‘em,” we laughed.
“Ya think I’m a prosti-toot for staying here?” Jimmy asked.
“Cain’t be no prosti-toot if’n y’all likes it and does it fer free.”
“Yeah, we’re all gay sluts.”
“All gays are sluts,” Tony argued.
“Slimy sluts,” Jimmy proclaimed.
“Shiny happy sluts,” I added.
I finally had an answer to Tina’s question two years before about what ‘free’ love was.
Tony took us to the club, as he had to work. We offered to help but he kicked us out.
“Go have fun. Tonight’s bands are nothing much. Go chase that Suzi Quartro clone. She seemed to be fun.” He tossed me his car keys.
We tooled up Santa Monica Blvd, me driving while Jimmy yelled out the window at all the street tricks he apparently knew. We parked on Larrabee and knocked on the studio door, in the low, one-story building. When they recognized us from earlier, we were admitted. It was a run-down single room, with the engineer’s booth tucked into the corner behind a sound-proofed wall.
“Hey, you dick. Ya gave us the bum’s rush outta the Troubadour,” Joan was happy to see me.
“Yeah, Doug got real anxious about damage to his club.”
“Didcha pass the audition? We felt ya was pretty exciting. I even wrote a new song afterward.”
“Naw. Doug says I needs ta grow up. Let’s hear your song.”
“It’s like your songs about Miami, ‘cept of course, its called ‘Hollywood.’”
Each night alone I dream
That I’m a rebel roller queen
I’ll be a star that shines
I can make the whole world mine
Hollywood it feels so good
Hollywood it feels so good
Songwriters: MICHAEL NESMITH © Peermusic Publishing
“Wow,” I was impressed. “It reminds me of the Monkees, but better ‘cause yer a chick singin’ it.”
Larrabee Jimmy started laughing. “It might be a bit like the Monkees, since Michael Nesmith actually wrote it.”
Joan shot him a nasty look. “Well, here’s the song I did write after you played. It’s called ‘California Paradise,’” she admitted
It was okay. I liked the Hollywood one better. I figured Joan did as well, as she had tried to pass it off as her own.
“Now yer copying the Momas and Papas’ “California Dreamin’’.
“So what do you think?” Joan wanted my approval.
“The Monkees will do,” as I grabbed the mic and sang a capella, “I’m a Believer.’
“But you’re gay,” Joan disputed my sincerity.
“Gay in the day, straight at night.” I smirked at my ‘rhyme in time as truth.’
“Hey, we’re working here,” Jimmy complained. “I’ve got another session in an hour.”
“I’d hate to stop you from working just to have a little fun,” I joked.
Joan gave me a nasty look, causing me to jump up and grab a quick kiss. She didn’t really respond and looked a bit distressed. Well, my charm would never match Jack’s.
“We’ll wait until y’all’s done and treat ya ta hamburgers.”
“Oki Dog,” Jimmy shouted.
“No way. We’ll go to Astro Burger and watch from across the street as you boys try ta get picked up at Oki Dog,” Joan countered.
Jimmy and I sat in a corner. He scored a couple of cigarettes and I smoked for the first time in a couple of years. Still tasted vile, ‘cause my pot habit made me inhale too much smoke. I choked from trying not to cough.”
Joan worked with Larrabee Jimmy on her guitar and vocal tracks for their new album, Queens of Noise. We went outside so my coughing wouldn’t ruin the recording. An old van with Florida plates pulled up. A bunch of long hairs piled out and started unloading equipment. They were the next session at Larrabee Studios. The last guy to leave the van was a hillbilly with blonde hair covering his face and a buck-tooth grin. It was Tom Petty.
I ran over and grabbed him by his skinny shoulders, “Tom. Remember me from Skynyrd?”
“If it ain’t the old false god hisself. Wot ‘sup, Tim. Last I seen you’s was cryin’ over yer dead dog.”
“Ya got the band tagether agin?” he asked.
“Naw. We’s pretty much broke up. My mate Jimmy and I are hanging out with Joan Jett. I had a tryout at the Troubadour this afternoon. I got her to bring her runaway friends to cheer me on.”
“The Troubadour. She-it, y’all’s always gettin’ breaks. We jist scratchin’ along. We’s doing a demo here fer my new band, ‘The Heartbreakers.’ How’d yer tryout go?”
“I was told to grow up and come back when I’s old an’ borin.’”
“Wanna hear the song we’re doin’ fer the demo?”
He grabbed an acoustic guitar and sang for Jimmy and me. The song was ‘American Girl’
“Yer tryin’ ta be Bruce Springstein now?” I laughed.
“No way. We’s from the heartland now.”
“Right. Here in Hollywood, the heart of darkness. I lives in the heartland, Ames, I-o-way.”
“No shit. I heard they locked you up after Skynyrd.”
“They tried. I’s escaped and lived in the Everglades fer four months.”
“I guess that makes ya a country boy after all. No more cracker from Alaska.”
“You remember. That show with y’all was somethin.’”
“Somethin’ else. I gots my mojo back after that. Thought I was washed up before y’all reminded me I could git fucked up and cause a riot. Where’s that ol’ drummer o’yours. He’s a trip.”
“Still dealin’ pot to the neighbor kids. The bands broke up. I’s here and played a few songs ‘jist fer fun. Jimmy here’s the dude ta know if’n y’all wants ta play the Troubador.”
“We cain’t even get on the bill at the Starwood, ‘cause we’s livin’ out in the Valley.”
“I’ll git ya on,” Jimmy piped up. “I knows Eddie Nash.”
“Write down my number and once ya done yer demo, call me. But they don’t pay shit.”
“No problemo. We jist gotta play live. We’s signed with Shelter but needs to play live to build a rep here. Hollywood ain’t Florida, boy.”
“Ya got that right. I’s jist here takin’ my cousin home after he OD’d.”
“I heard that before. He okay.”
“Yeah. In the hospital, but I take him home on Monday.”
“Hang out with us here. Yer a faggot but I likes ya.”
“Ain’t much ta bein’a faggot in I-o-way.”
“What’s that like?”
“My boyfriend in the band came to stay, but the Baptists sicc’d a snake on ‘im. He almost died. I got twin step-sisters now and we have a cover band called the Triplets. It’s cool. I go milk the cows with their boyfriend ever’ mornin.’”
“I don’t wants ta know. Hang out though.”
“I doubt Jimmy’ll let us stay. We’re outside here after getting’ Joan Jett ta jam instead o’ work on her album. He won’t let us jam no more.”
“Well, next time. Anyways I’m sure glad ta see y’all agin. Yer too talented to stay in the heartland.”
“Ya said yer a heartland band.”
“The Valley’s not the heartland.”
Joan appeared, having finished her tracks. “Who’s this? Another boyfriend.”
“No, Joan. Sorry ta disappoint ya. This is Tom Petty. He’s from Florida, too.”
“I heard about yer band. Ya goin’ in to record next, or jist tryin’ ta pick up boy faggots on Santa Monica.”
Tom turned red. “Yeah, we’s doin’ a demo tonight.”
“Yer on Shelter, right. But no ones heard ya play.”
“How about y’all let us open fer the Runaways?”
“Talk ta Kim. But we’re off ta Japan next. They actually buy our records there.”
“I kin see the flier,” I interrupted, ” Runaways, the Heartbreakers.”
Everybody laughed at me, the hick from the sticks.
“Stay awhile, Joan, and hear our song, ‘American Girl.’ You can be my muse.
“I’m a’musin’ myself with hamburgers at Astro Burger. Join us later. We’ll be across the street at Oki Dog, while these boys try not ta sell their asses.”
“Maybe,” Tom demurred, still from the heartland.
Joan jumped into the front of Jimmy’s Datsun. I crowded her over until she finally sat on my lap. Three girl fans were in the back. Luckily Astro Burger wasn’t as expensive as Dan Tana’s. Moms’ money went a long way. We all sat in a window seat, watching the action across the street at Oki Dog.
It was outdoor seating only, with a large parking lot. Kids were going up to the order window, discussing their order with an Asian, and returning to a bench seat with a wrapped sandwich. They never paid.
“What’s an Oki Dog?” I asked.
“Just a hot dog with chilli in a tortilla and cheese and onions added. Damn, I’m still hungry. Let’s go over there,” Joan decided.
We entered the twilight zone of hustlers and gays looking to be picked up. Jimmy explained that Oki Dog was the end of the free zone that started on Selma and Las Palmas going west to Highland, south to Santa Monica, and west to La Brea, where anyone on the street would cruise to get picked up for money. From La Brea to Vista it was a mixture of sex for pay and/or for free. Oki Dog was the end of this mixed use zone. Everyone cruising west on Santa Monica didn’t expect to be paid. Joan laughed at how sad gay sex was.
“Girls can get picked up anywhere. Sunset Boulevard is female prostitutes only. No standing on the street if ya just wanna get laid,” she laughed.
“Bet ya can’t get picked up here,” Jimmy challenged her.
The girl posse hanging on Joan were shocked but not surprised. Jimmy was happy to play her game. It didn’t take long before both were individually picked up. Joan was back in less than five minutes.
“Did your john think ya was a boy?” I kidded her.
She held up her twenty. “He wanted me for the night. I made him pay me twenty for picking up someone underage. I did nothing’. Where’s yer pet?”
“I’m sure he’s satisfying someone’s every need,” I defended him.
After ten minutes, Joan bought us all Okie dogs, swearing Jimmy had to pay her back. They were great. The cook said, “Chop. Chop,” every time someone gave him an order.
We finished our dogs and watched the street action. About thirty minutes later, a car pulled into the parking lot and Jimmy stumbled out. He was way wasted, with his clothes still half undressed.
“You owe me twenty bucks. Here’s your Oki dog,” Joan greeted him.
Jimmy looked at the food and burped up a mixture of spit and cum. “I ain’t got no money. The guy just got me wasted for a blow job.”
“Gross,” all the girls screamed. Joan grabbed the Okie dog. After seeing what Jimmy had burped up, she just gave it back to him. “Pay me next time.”
We slapped him on the back. Going to the back of the parking lot, everyone got stoned. Food and drugs for free on Santa Monica Boulevard.
“Let’s go to Highland Records,” Joan suggested. We crossed back to Astro Burger and all six of us piled into Tony’s Datsun. The girls in the back were as silent as ever. Joan sat on my lap again.
I whispered, “How come they just follow you around. Don’t they ever say anything.”
“Not really. They’re my stalkers.”
“Like lesbian groupies?”
“Sorta. Just that they wanna do me but I don’t, ever.”
“Groupies that care,” I mocked her.
“You wanna hit it with anyone of ‘em?”
“No way. I’m too gay to be desperate.”
“Why’d you say you’re straight, ‘at night’ as you said.
“I’s jist strange.”
We both started singing the Doors, ‘People are Strange.’
Singing made her wiggle on my lap, which meant a normal reaction, which meant she noticed the developing hard-on.
“Someone’s acting strange,” she laughed and reached down. “Oh, it’s getting abnormally large.”
“You really want that cat outta the bag.”
“Someone’s lost his country boy accent.”
“I’s all growed up and ready fer action.”
Luckily or not, we were at the record store, across the street from Hollywood High. I wondered what everyone was going to say when I failed to show up for classes at Ames High on Monday morning. I was too stoned to care, promising myself I’d call the moms Sunday morning. That made me think I’d miss church and choir. I was feeling really strange about my life, or lives, as my multiple identities clashed.
Highland Records was just a store front, with narrow aisles lined by rows of album stacked on edge for easy browsing. My generic taste for rock would betray me to Joan as too cliché. I decided to appreciate the album art instead of trying to find some exotic record I’d waited all my life to buy. I was admiring the Yes albums with the Roger Dean covers, which made Joan laugh.
“You like Yes?” she asked disparagingly.
“They’re okay. Pretty pretentious. Working man’s Emerson, Lake & Palmer. I like the keyboards.”
“Rick Wakeman? He’s a dick. The others are the real musicians.”
“He’s the star.”
“Well, they pretty much suck.”
“I like looking at the covers.”
“What’s it got ta do with the band?”
“Spacy. Better than Peter Max.”
“Ew, you dissing the Beatles?”
“They broke up. I met John last month. He’s a dick but that’s okay, I guess, if yer a Beatle.”
“Is that what your song’s about – False Gods?”
We kept looking at the records. A guy came over and we debated the greatness of Led Zeppelin II.
“I like ‘Houses of the Holy’, too.”
“Time will tell. Ya wanna get high?”
We went around the corner on Selma at the back of another parking lot, sitting on the ground, discussing bands, while he rolled a joint from a small stash box.
After we got high, he asked if I would suck his dick.
“I thought you were interested in the music,” I demurred.
“I’ll pay,” he offered.
I shook my head, which shut him up. Mixed messages.
“Well, we are on Selma,” he attempted to explain.
“But we met in the record store.”
“It’s just a pick-up place, kid.” He looked about 25. I felt sorry that he had to pay for sex. It got me thinking about free love again. Hollywood was a place where the word free was soon monetized.
He walked to Selma and started trolling the prostitutes. I wandered back to the store.
“Make that twenty bucks your friend owes me?” Joan crowed, knowing exactly what had gone down.
“He was just a troll.”
I was too high to care. We walked up to Hollywood Boulevard. Jimmy stopped me from trying to read all the stars set in the sidewalk pavement.
“Stop bein’ a tourist. Yer sure to get hustled.”
We watched as other tourists got approached. Tourist watching is pretty boring, especially when you are a tourist too.
Joan suggested we go back to Larrabee Studios.
“Well, I bet he knows how to score drugs.”
“His Cousin It look give it away?”
“What else is there to do in the Valley?”
Tony stuffed us in the Datsun and we headed back to West Hollywood. I filled Joan in on all the pranks and antics we pulled with Tom the weekend of the Skynyrd concert.
“He never seemed interested in anything other than pot,” I defended his stoner image.
“Well, life in the fast lane tends to change that. We both broke out into the Eagles’ hit.
I vogue’d the ‘brutally handsome’ line while Joan preened to ‘terminally pretty.’ The Datsun was rockin’ even without the radio on. We pulled up to the boys standing around smoking outside the studio.
“Hey, Heartbreakers, I gots a Runaway needin’ a heart fix,” I yelled out the window.
“What’s y’all wants, sweetheart? I’m Mike,” one of Tom’s guitarists leaned in the Datsun
“Ain’t what y’all think, Mike” Joan riposted. “I need a real fix. Know where to score?”
“This ain’t an ‘American runaway dream’,” I quoted Springstein.
“This yer idea of growin’ up, Tim,” Tom was concerned.
“Not me. I’m just tourist a here,” I demurred.
“Hey, you,” Tom called to one of the roadies. “Take Joan to the van and fix her up.”
Joan grabbed my hand, “Coming?”
I was more than a little anti-heroin after my experiences caring for Joey and the Robbie/Iggy meltdown at the Chelsea. “Knock yerself out, honey. I’s still a country boy.”
She disappeared, leaving her posse still in Tony’s backseat. I walked over to Tom and we caught up on my travails in the Everglades. Gatorsaurus was still entertaining in LA. He tried to explain how he’d ended up in the Valley, the graveyard of many an out-of-town rocker.
“We gots ta score a hit with our new album or else Shelter’s gonna drop our asses.”
I got Jimmy ta come over and promise to get the Heartbreakers a gig at the Starwood.
“Y’all gots ta have fans ta make it big,” Jimmy told him, forgetting that he was 16 and Tom 24.
“What happened after the Miami show?” I asked him.
“Ronnie let me play a few shows on their tour. He liked ‘Born a Rebel,’ so I got to join them. It convinced me to get the old band together.”
“How’d ya git Shelter to sign ya.”
“We’s bin with them a couple o’years. That’s how ya heard our single. I jist gots disgusted with it all. That show with y’all convinced me I wasn’t so old no more. Y’alls fired me up.”
“I’s so glad ta see ya, Tom. I knows y’all be rock stars soon.”
“No false gods, though.”
“Ya got that right.”
“Y’all done recordin’ tonight?”
“Naw. Jist on a break.”
“Think I’ll ditch Joan. Don’t wanna see her all fucked up. Seen enough o’ that a’fore.”
“I thoughts y’all was turnin’ straight.”
“Pretty much in I-o-way. She’s fun but dope ruins it.”
“I’ll keep her safe. Bet ya I kin talk her inta takin’ us’n on tour ta Japan.”
“Yeah. They’s big in Japan.”
“That’s what they all say.’
“Good luck, Tom. Good seein’ ya agin.”
“Yer not soundin’ like the cracker from Alaska no more.”
“Yeah. Havta git up early ta milk the cows ever’ mornin’.”
“Yer a trip.”
Jimmy drove us down to the club and gave the keys back to Tony. Datsun days and nights.
We sat with Tony upstairs in the VIP area. Jimmy filled him in on all our activities. The highlight was picking up Joan, a hot chick in his eyes. Was it hetero-normal activity, or were we kidding our gay selves.
“You split without saying good bye,” Jimmy reported.
“She went ta git high. That ain’t cool fer me. I’s here to drag Joey out of the junkie gutter.”
“She smoked out with us. Ya didn’t complain none.”
“It’s heroin that spooks me. Not just Joey. When the band played New York, our drummer scored in Washington Square and was out of it the whole weekend, missing all the gigs we played. I hate heroin.”
“How’d cha play withouts yer drummer?”
“We have two drummers. It was okay. They usually jist fights with each other.”
“Don’tcha wanna try it? How can ya hate sumthin’ ya never tried?” Tony asked.
“All I knows is what I’s seen which ain’t pretty.”
“I had a trick who gave me some. All my feelings were numb, like I was floating. I fucked the hell outta ‘im and never came. He said he didn’t feel a thing.”
I thought about how I can’t deal with my feelings and cried a lot, even when I was happy. I didn’t want drugs to solve my problems. I did drugs for the fun of new experiences.
“Ya gonna see Joan again?” Jimmy asked.
“Probably not since I go back on Monday.”
“Cain’t ya stay. It’s so much more fun when you’s here,” Jimmy whined, just like the kids at the Dakota.
I laughed, realizing I had bi-coastal partying to bookend my boring farm life in Iowa.
“How we gonna deal with Doug tonight?” I changed the subject, not wanting to regret leaving on Monday.
“Fuck that droopy old booty,” Jimmy shouted, just as Doug walked up and sat down.
“What’s up boys, complaining about the lack of talent for your teen genes?”
“Yeah,” I answered. “But I know the solution – four-way mad fucking,” as I winked at him and the boys.
“Yeah,” the other two agreed. “Let’s blow this place.”
Doug shook his head no, while his face blushed with excitement. “You know I have to close out and pay the bands.”
I looked at the stage, where the band was droning on with no one paying attention. “This band was done years ago. Kick ‘em off the stage. The action will be in your big ol’ bed tonight,” I smiled at him. Tony and Jimmy were laughing at me.
“Hang on. I’ll be ready in thirty minutes.”
I stood up. “Com’n boys we’ll just do it in the office if he doesn’t want to join in.”
“All right. All right. I’ll get the bartender to close and lock up.” His face was really red. Old guys need to be reminded of their youth to tweak their lust. Some things never change.
Five minutes later all four of us were in the back of a cab travelling up Doheny. We all attacked Doug at once. I was kissing and licking an ear. Tony was massaging his back and butt. Jimmy, once so shy and innocent, was going down on him. The Armenian cabbie glanced in the mirror, shook his head, and never looked back again.
At the house we pulled Doug up the walk. I whispered, “We’re gonna fuck ‘til yer balls turn inside out.” Tony had his hand down the back of his pants, stroking his butt. Jimmy was dragging him inside by his long, skinny dick. Doug’s embarrassment disappeared once we all were behind closed doors.
“You want some smoke?” Doug asked.
Jimmy stopped sucking him. “The only thing getting smoked is yer dick,” he answered him.
Doug was lying on his back with Tony and me on either side kissing and rubbing him while Jimmy lay between his leg, expertly sucking his dick. The stimulation had Doug writhing on the bed. Tony began rubbing his asshole, slowly inserting a finger, to Doug’s surprise and apparent distress.
“Appears we have a virgin bottom here,” I grinned.
“I’ve tried before but it’s never really worked.”
“I’ll do the work, you relax, and it’ll really work out,” Tony took charge.
Doug rolled on his side, to provide easy access for Tony, while Jimmy moved to keep Doug’s dick busy. I started kissing Doug by first licking his lips as I used to tease Tommy. I held his head in my hands, while his breathing became ragged and uneven. He moaned regretfully when Tony pulled his fingers out of his ass. Shortly he gave out a quick gasp. I knew Tony had impaled him to replace the fingers. Doug was craving it. Tony thrust strongly as our four-way fuck package rocked back and forth. Doug became frantic, trying to get away from Jimmy’s bouncing head on his dick, while pushing himself onto Tony’s thrusting dick. I pulled Jimmy away, repositioning him at Doug’s mouth, while I lightly stroked Doug’s dick, just not enough to let him cum. Doug’s whole body started to shake involuntarily as Tony’s quick, short stroking drove him crazy. My fist grabbed a tight hold on his dick which slowed his shuddering, forestalling an imminent orgasm. Jimmy and he continued kissing while his legs were wrapped around Doug’s hip and his dick thrust against his side. I sucked both of Doug’s balls into my mouth and squeezed and licked them simultaneously. I was raking my dick against Doug’s inner calf, leaking pre-cum all over him and on the bedcovers.
“Let me cum. Let me cum,” Doug yelled, frustrated by our teasing seduction.
“No fucking way,” Tony ordered, just as he pulled out and geysered all over Jimmy and me, as well as Doug.
I slid up Doug’s side and replaced Tony’s dick with mine in Doug’s throbbing ass. He relaxed and sighed until I bottomed out. My size surprised him, making him gasp and whine at its girth and how deep inside him I went. I stayed as deep as possible, barely moving as he squirmed and adjusted to my size. Doug’s breathing became less ragged as his ass started to fuck my rigid dick. His mouth reached out to mine and we were kissing and fucking together. Jimmy had moved to Doug’s dick and happily returned to sucking him off. Tony had cuddled up against my back, sound asleep, while I was fucking Doug from the other side. My feet were stretching forward and back as I pushed slowly into Doug. Jimmy positioned his dick so my feet could grip it as they stretched. Doug’s thighs had a firm grip on Jimmy’s head while he vigorously sucked Doug’s dick. I began rocking harder and firmer into Doug’s ass as he began shuddering. I stopped kissing Doug to tell Jimmy to slow down as Doug was ready to cum. Doug frantically searched for my lips, thrusting his tongue inside as his whole body arched before letting loose inside Jimmy’s throat. Jimmy’s dick spasmodically stroked by my feet, let loose as Doug’s dick was released from his lips. His tall pole blasted stringy streams of cum all over us. My dick had long done its pre-emptory turn at the tip. I came deep inside Doug, as the three of us climaxed all together. We each shuddered as our climaxes slowed and ended.
Falling asleep, I didn’t wake up until morning. Luckily none of the cum had glued us together. We lay in a heap on top and beside Doug, who snored contentedly on his back. I extracted myself from the heap and went to take a shower. I was running on farm-time, up with the sun to milk the cows. Refreshed and cum-free, I returned to collect my clothes.
“You awake, Doug?” I whispered, suspecting he was feigning sleep.
“Yeah,” he whispered back. “But I just want these moments to last. I’ve never been so completely fucked.”
“Ya likes that, don’ts ya?” I giggled.
“Shh. You’ll wake the others.
“Okay to use your office?. I need to arrange Joey’s escape from the authorities.”
He nodded and went back to sleep.
First, I called Helen.
“Hi, Tim. Did you see Joey?”
“He’s okay and ready to be released. The doctor wants to put him in rehab.”
“I spoke with him. He thinks Joey should leave LA.”
“Yeah. We even found him a job in Northhampton. Can you deal with him doing his rehab in Stockbridge?”
“That would be so wonderful to have him home.” Yeah, for how long I thought.
“What does Uncle Bob think? He’s been on Joey’s case for so long.”
“He understands. Your dad is flying from Miami today to escort Joey home.”
Oh, no. My weekend in Lotus-Land LA was about to come to a crashing end.
“What?? That’ll be a disaster. You know how hard he is. He had me locked up for drinking a sip of beer. Just think what he’ll do when he finds out Joey was arrested for doing hard-core drugs?”
“Well, he insisted. He wants to help.”
“His help always involves the police and jail. Can’t you convince him not to come. I’ll escort Joey to New York and you can meet us there.”
“I doubt he’ll listen to me.”
I knew my only chance was to get Mom to stand up to him. I called Ames. Molly answered.
“Hi, Andy. How’s your cousin? When are you coming home?”
“Joey’s doing well. We hope they’ll release him tomorrow. I’ll fly with him to New York and his parents will take him home from there.”
“Will you get back to Ames tomorrow?”
“Well, there’ a hitch. My dad insists on coming here to escort Joey back. It’ll be a disaster. We got the doctors to convince the police to send him home. Once Dad finds out the police are involved he’ll ruin the whole plan. He’s such a hard-ass.”
“Sorry. I need your help. Do you think Mom is ready to stand up to Dad? I’ve tried but he just won’t listen to me when the police are involved.”
“She does seem stronger. I’ll get her on the other phone. It would mean so much if she can assert herself.”
“Not her strong suit.”
“Well, she has to stand on her own feet eventually. This may be a good test. Explain why your dad can’t bring the boy home.”
“Joey’s 22 and as head-strong as Dad. They’ll fight. Joey won’t be released, or, if he is, he’ll take off. He won’t listen to a word Dad lectures at him.”
“Sounds like a disaster in the making. Let me get Wendy.”
Amy came on while Molly found Mom.
“Hi, Andy. Having fun? ‘Gator says Bessie misses you. Who’s Bessie.’
I laughed. “She’s my favorite cow.”
“Is it great in Hollywood? Meet any stars?”
“A couple of rock n rollers. We’ve been partying all night long. It’s wild. I’ll tell y’all whens I gits back.”
“Hopefully tomorrow night or Tuesday. I need the moms to convince my dad not to mess everything up.”
“Jeez. You havta call me Andy in Ames.”
“Is that what they call you in Hollywood?”
“No. I’m still Tim here. But no one calls me Timmy. Please try.”
“Mom. I need you to stand up to Dad for me. He insists on flying out here and interfering in getting Joey released to go home. You know how he thinks the police are always right.”
“Oh. Mom. It’s never black and white. We have everything set and he’s gonna ruin it.”
“I can call him.”
“You havta put yer foot down. He won’t listen to me.”
Molly spoke up, “You can do it, Wendy. Andy needs you to stop Bert from bullying him and his cousin.”
“I’ve never been able to stop him once he’s made up his mind.”
“You should try. You’re so much stronger since you moved here.”
“I’ll try, Timmy.’
“Sorry, I mean Andy or Tim or whatever.”
I went back into Doug’s bedroom. He was up and had showered.
“We have a problem. My dad’s flying in today. He insists on interfering in Joey’s release.”
“You want him to stay here?” Doug looked concerned. I observed the two teens passed out in his bed and remembered my role in last night debauchery.
“Jesus, no. I’m trying to get him to reconsider.”
“He can stay here. You three will havta to act like you’re all houseboys.”
“He’ll see right through that. I’m just going to havta stop him from coming.”
“Whatever,” as Doug slipped back into bed. “I need to make this moment last.”
I went over and kissed him. I always liked the old perv.
I went back to the phone and called home in Coral Gables. Thankfully, Susan answered.
“Oh, Susan. I need your help.”
“Your dad’s flying out to LA to meet you.”
“But he’ll just mess everything up. Can’t you talk him out of it?”
“He’s worried you’re in over your head.”
At least they had been discussing it together.
“He doesn’t know that the police are involved. It’ll be just like when he had me put in juvie. He believes the police are always right. He’ll get Joey locked away. I have Joey doing rehab at home in Massachusetts. We even found him a job there. Dad will scuttle all our plans.”
“I have to agree with him that you must own up to the consequences, especially if the police are involved.”
“Drugs are a sickness, not a crime. Joey’s as hard-headed as Dad. Can’t you stop him? I know he won’t listen to me.”
“He’s trying to understand, Tim. I’ll get him on the phone but you’ll have to do the convincing. I suspect you’re better at that than I am.”
“He trusts you.”
“We both want to trust you.”
“Dad, I need you to reconsider flying out to LA. We have it under control here.”
“You’re 17, Tim. You need an adult to deal with the doctors.”
“The doctors have agreed to release Joey to his folks. I’ll escort him to New York where they’ll take him home.”
“It does sound like a good plan, Bert,” Susan stood up for me.
“Jesus. First Helen calls me in tears, so I volunteer to help. Then Wendy calls and acts like she knows what’s best. Now you are on Tim’s side. This is all too familiar. I’m going out there and find out the truth.”
Time for Andy to reveal the truth.
“It’s not just the doctors out here who are involved, Dad. Because Joey OD’d, he was also arrested. The police insist he go to rehab. He’ll do that at home in Massachusetts. We even found him a job near home.”
“I knew you were hiding something.”
“I just told you the problem. I also know how you always side with the police. Now I have to rescue Joey and his rehab plans from you.”
Dad sputtered. Susan interjected, “Bert, you promised to listen to Tim after all that trouble last year. He had to hide in the Everglades to prevent being declared mentally incompetent for life. I love you, dear, but you can be so stubborn. Just like Winston.”
“Your dog in the doghouse?” I shifted the tone of our argument.
“Susan, it is the ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ theory of child raising.”
“You’re beating Winston?”
“Just a spanking when he misbehaves.”
“How’s that working for you?”
“Not well. But we’re talking about Joey. I’m coming out there and we’ll fly Joey home once he’s released.”
I groaned. “You havta promise you won’t talk the police into keeping him here.”
“If the doctors recommend that, I’ll be 100% behind their decision.”
“And if the police don’t?”
“I’ll support whatever the courts say.”
I gave up. “Please just let events unfold. I’m not asking that we skip out on the police but you havta keep your own opinions to yourself and not drag out his release.”
“We’ll see. I arrive at 3pm your time.”
“I’ll be there. And, Dad, I really am happy to see you. It’s been too long, over a year.”
“Really,” he acted surprised. I thought only Mom was oblivious.
I ran into Doug’s bedroom and jumped into bed with him and the two boys.
“Dad alert. Get yer butts up. My dad will be here this afternoon.”
“I thought you were going to stop him,” Doug complained. I was well aware he was not looking forward to explaining to a parent why his son and nephew were living there.
“He listens to no one. Let’s just clean up so there are no drugs or porn in the open.”
Doug looked pained, while the boys were in a state of panic. The housekeeper was called in from her day off. By 2 pm the place looked decent and somewhat normal. The rogues gallery of Doug’s past boyfriends was replaced by photos of the rock acts that normally hung in the Club’s office.
“He knows you’re gay, right?” Doug asked.
“After being in denial, he asks which of my friends are boyfriends. He’ll never be comfortable. The fact that my mom has a girlfriend now probably makes it hard for him to accept me.”
“So no gay coming-out drama?”
“Don’t worry. This trip is all about Joey.”
Clean-up done, we lounged by the pool. I even did a short workout to clear my head while the others hit the bong to stay scrambled. I realized we were hanging out full-time with Doug. At 49 he was just an elderly teenager that day.
Tony dropped me off at LAX. I figured Dad could pay for a cab back to West Hollywood. Waiting at his arrival gate, I decided to relax and not fret about our first meeting in a year. Soon after the door opened I saw a muscular dog pulling an older man up the jet way corridor. Dad had brought Winston. I had to laugh.
“Dad,” I cried out. “Is this Winston?”
Hearing his name, the dog made a beeline for me. I was on my hands and knees roughing him up. He was a happy puppy, even though he must already weigh a hundred pounds.
“Winston, sit,” he ordered. The dog instantly obeyed.
I jumped up and gave Dad a big hug. He submitted to my affection but demurred when it looked like I was about to kiss him.
“I thought you didn’t want me to come?”
“No. I’m over you firing me as best man to your wedding. I just don’t want Joey’s release to his parents to be messed up. They could put him in jail.”
“Maybe that’s where he belongs.”
I just shook my head. “Are you really going to make things difficult?”
“No. I just knew it was unlikely that the police would release him to 17-year-old.”
“Then it’s good you’re here. Doug says you’re welcome to stay with us at his place.”
“He owns a famous Hollywood nightclub.”
“Like the Brown Derby?”
“I have no idea what that is. His club showcases rock acts. He’s a good businessman. You’ll like him. He’s older than you.”
“Is he one of your ‘boyfriends?’”
“No, Dad. Jack is still my boyfriend. Joey has lived with him since he moved here from New York.”
“Yeah, Helen told me why he had to leave New York.”
Winston was whining as we verbally sparred. Dad led us down the concourse and outside, where Winston relieved him at a fire hydrant. I held the leash while Dad retrieved his luggage.
In the cab on the way to Beverly Hills, Dad and I caught up. I’d forgotten that a conversation with Dad was more interrogation than verbal intercourse.
“So, how’s school?”
“We won the Iowa State Championship in bowling and since it was the first year of high school bowling, we were declared National Co-Champions as well as Jack’s team from New York.”
“I thought he was living with you at Mom’s.”
“Long story, but he’s living in New York and going to school there.”
“I supposed the Stones want him to go to some fancy college.”
“Yeah. He’s already in at Harvard.”
“And you? Will you graduate this year.”
“Of course. I even applied to Harvard too.”
“Who’s going to pay for that? And, Harvard accepts criminals?”
“I’m not a criminal. I was locked up for being unsupervised.”
“At least you don’t use that sip of one beer excuse.”
“Dad. We’ve got to get over what happened. I know exactly how you see it and know you acted in my best interests. But the Miami juvenile justice system was corrupt. They really came down on me because they hate what Mike Antonio has done to force desegregation in the City.”
“Okay. Okay. I admit I was too hard on you. But you seem to be thriving now. National Champ, huh?
I broke out in a big grin. I hugged him and all was forgiven.
The hotel room was pretty luxurious. We ordered room service – hamburgers and fries, of course. I really hadn’t eaten since Oki Dog.
“Pretty posh, Dad. You travel in style now. The promotion paying for this?”
“Yeah. Last time we shared was at those NRA conventions. Pretty bland rooms.”
“Remember when Mom, you and I shared on the trip to Miami. I had stopped wearing underwear and Mom wouldn’t let me sleep in my clothes.”
“I’ve erased that memory.”
“And when we stayed in Miami Beach, I came in after being thrown in the pool by my Puerto Rican friends and told you I was soaked from the rain. It wasn’t even raining but you never went outside while there.”
“You are a devil. We blamed it all on Joey for being a bad influence.”
“I tell everyone I get my sense of adventure from him. Remember when he cut my hair. We did it on a dare.”
“I hope you can see the error of his ways.”
“Okay, Dad. I do the best I can. I get that from you. We need to go visit Joey before too long. And I have to call Doug and tell him you’re staying here, not at his house.”
Soon we were in a cab on the way to Hollywood-Presbyterian. For the first time, I noticed how rundown East Hollywood was. I was seeing it through Dad’s eyes.
“Uncle Bert,” Joey was surprised. “What are you doing here?”
“Come to save your ass, buster.” I’m not sure he was just joking or if he needed to bust Joey’s chops.
Joey’s face fell. I nudged Dad.
“Okay. Okay. I just want to help. I hear they’re going to send you home tomorrow.
“Tim has it all arranged.”
“Well, has he arranged who they’re going to release you to. I doubt they plan on releasing you to a teenager. That’s why I’m here.”
“I thought it was better, Joey,” I lied.
He just pouted, which was a sure way to inspire Dad’s nagging. After a long lecture on standing up, taking responsibility, making something of himself and having pride, Dad relented. Joey said nothing, looking exhausted.
“You wore him out, Dad. How about we go. You okay, Joey?”
“Don’t worry ‘bout it. I’m fine”
Once we were out of there, I tried to explain to Dad that he was messing up. “Joey just tunes you out. Kids have no respect for authority. They’re not in the military.”
He looked at me and nodded. “Sometimes I can’t stop myself. It’s what I know.”
“Maybe in the military, it works. Did I ever tell you about Joey and me visiting the burned-out Viet Vets living out in the woods near Stockbridge. They thought I was an MP, even though I was only fourteen. We had a fire fight in the woods and ended up hog-tying ‘em from a tree limb. We blew up their ammunition and watched the fire department come to rescue them.”
“No wonder you’re so ‘odd.’ I should hog-tie Joey and leave him here.”
“I’m not that strange, Dad. Just because I have a boyfriend, it doesn’t mean I don’t like chicks.”
“Mom says you’ve settled down.”
“I have. My best friend’s a farm boy, captain of the football team, and I help him milk the cows every morning and night.”
“And that’s not strange?”
“You’ve got to stop judging people, Dad.”
“What makes you think others won’t judge you.”
“Jace taught me to be open to others and recognize those people too hard-hearted to be open back. We call them ‘haters’ and ignore their ignorance.”
“You act like he’s still alive.”
“He died but his spirit lives in my heart. He was so loving that many people hold him in their hearts.”
“He was so funny. Remember the crème brulee?”
I could see Jace’s goofy grin as we talked about him. Dad and I had made up. Now I had to get him to cool his jets with Joey until we got him to New York.
Dad said it was okay to ask Doug and the boys to have dinner with us at the hotel. Doug was relieved there was to be no house inspection. Dad was surprised he was older than he was. They talked business for hours while we kept ordering more hamburgers and fries. I finally realized Dad was not used to Hollywood socializing, as well as being three hours ahead. The boys loved Winston, who apparently went everywhere Dad went. We ‘walked’ the dog several times, which provided a chance to hit a joint. I tested Winston for Max-like pot affinity and got a firm shake of the head. He was definitely Dad’s dog, but he loved being with teenagers. He reminded me of Stu.
Before we said good night, Doug took me aside. I knew he’d make a pitch for me to stay with him. Actually he had resigned himself to never possessing me years ago.
“I hope you’ll come visit as often as you can. Hollywood is the entertainment capital of the world. You have the talent to make it here. Let me help you, when you’re ready.”
“Sooner than you think. I doubt Harvard is ready for me. I hope you now know how much all three of us love you. Last night should prove that.”
“You’ve got that right. I’ve never been fucked that well. I may have to rethink my sexuality.”
“Ya ain’t gay if’n ya don’t likes bein’ fucked,” I declared.
“I never realized it until three teenagers were simultaneously fucking me. Tony and Jimmy are special, too. But you’re something else.”
I kissed him right in the Beverly Wiltshire lobby. I said good bye to Jimmy and Tony. I had decided I should spend the night with Dad. We were actually getting along. I needed to get him to cool it with lecturing Joey on the danger of his evil ways, though I doubted I would make much progress. Stubbornness was a Castle trait. I called up to the room and suggested we walk Winston. He met me in the lobby. The dog liked taking the lead. We talked about dogs and how some people were better with cats, but dog people were a special type. We walked up Rodeo Drive with Dad disparaging the wasteful ways of the rich.
“You’re rich now, Dad. The days of roadside motels and run down Miami Beach hotels seem over.”
“Working for Teledyne has turned out well. It seems wrong that I get paid so much for pretty much the same work I did in the Air Force. I still have a solid sense of values.”
“I hope you weren’t upset that my friends were so boisterous and didn’t care how much those over-priced hamburgers cost.”
“Those boys don’t seem up to your usual standard. They seem like strays you picked up.”
“I really like them, Dad. I know they seem a bit clueless but they’re my friends. What do you mean by my usual standards?” thinking about Robby and his gang as not exactly top grade. “You can’t judge all my friends using Jack as the standard.”
“I’m still getting used to the Stones. I was actually thinking about your friend, Jace. He was so quiet and shy, yet had all that musical talent.”
Jace quickly appeared at his name’s mention. He squatted down and quickly had Winston’s affection by scratching his ears.
I couldn’t help giving Dad a big grin, although he flinched before I could hug him.
“So, you liked Jace?”
“Well, he did train Max (Dad was unaware of Max’s pot habits) and defended him against that evil brother. That was very brave. I felt badly for a long time that I was unable to save him.”
“Jeez, Dad. You saved me. Jace put himself in front of Max. There was no chance to protect him. I would’ve taken a bullet for him,” I sniffed.
Dad put his arm around me. I felt ten years old. Why not enjoy it?
We window-shopped for something for Susan. No prices in the windows in Beverly Hills. We went to bed at a reasonable hour. I missed spending my last night with Tony and Jimmy. I thought about Joan. She was my age and already in a successful band, about to release their second album and tour Japan. She definitely had turned me on riding on my lap. She was very butch for a girl, all in black leather. I wondered if her boyish looks was why I was attracted to her. She had complained that Cherie Curry got all the press because she was girly and blonde. I told her how Max had stolen all the spotlight in our band. We were both just second-rate guitarists. I fell asleep and dreamed I went on tour to Japan with the Runaways. After the first show all these 13-year-old girls were chasing me. The next show they made me wear makeup and a dress. All the teeny Japanese boys chased me after the show. I figured I deserved that dream.
In the morning we walked Winston and found a jewelry store that was open. Susan got a nice brooch with diamonds and rubies. I didn’t want to know how much it cost. We took a cab to the hospital and met Joey’s doctor. Dad was vindicated when he had to show ID that he was Joey’s uncle. After that formality, Joey’s release went easily. We were soon on the way to LAX. I tried nudging Dad every time he started his evil ways harangue, but Joey soon went into a sulk and never responded. Families.
While waiting for our flight, I called Jack in New York. He was over the moon that I would be at JFK, even for a short while. He insisted on coming out to meet me while I waited for my flight back to Ames. Poor Winston was not up to Max standards and had to ride steerage in a crate. He looked sad rolling into the baggage chute. Little did he know he had to change planes at JFK. Dad looked distressed. He had the attendant stop the conveyor belt and paid for a ticket for Winston to ride with us. He had to put on my Raybans and be ‘Blind Willie.” Joey perked up seeing us having fun and not paying attention to him. He tried to make friends with Winston, to no avail. The dog knew exactly what Dad thought of Joey. He snapped at him when Joey called him ‘Winnie.’
“He’s not a bear, Joey,” as I calmed Winston down with an ear rub. Joey went back to being invisible.
We boarded the flight and took off for New York. Last time I flew cross country with Joey, I fell asleep on his shoulder. This flight, he was asleep on mine, the minute Dad restarted his tirade about his faults.
When we arrived at JFK, Jack was right there at the gate. But there was no Helen and Uncle Bob. We waited until everyone had deplaned. Happy reunion. Winston needed to go, so we found him a potted plant where no one could see. I told Dad we’d go look for Helen and Uncle Bob. Sure enough, they were waiting at baggage claim, just like hicks from the sticks. We walked back to the gate.
“Where’s Joey?” I asked.
“He went to the Men’s,” Dad said as he greeted Uncle Bob with a handshake and Helen with a swift hug.
I ran into the bathroom. No Joey. I checked every stall.
“Which bathroom?” I ran over and asked Dad.
“The one you just came out of. He’s not there?” Colonel Castle went on alert. Someone had messed up. No happy reunion for Joey’s family. No blustering on Dad’s part. He found an airport security officer and organized a man hunt for the escaped convict. No one questioned his authority to order a search.
I told Winston, “Find Joey! Go find Joey, boy.” Jace instantly appeared, ready to give chase. He’d never met Joey. We led newly deputized blood hound/ bulldog Winston on a rambling search of the gate area. We felt optimistic when the first place he headed was the rest rooms. It was short-lived when we realized Winston just needed to go again. We dragged him away from the urinals and back to the popular potted plant. The dog had a renewed sense of purpose and raced us down the concourse toward the exits. I let Jace have the leash but it caused weird looks so I unhooked it. Several security officers stopped us as suspects in the single adult male getaway caper, being two teenagers and a dog. They failed to accept that Winston was following Joey’s trail. After several walkie-talkie conversations, we were told to go back to the gate area.
An actual police officer had taken charge, discerning that Dad wasn’t an real officer escorting a convict who’d escaped.
“Look, Mr. Castle. New York’s a big city. If he’s out of the terminal, he could be in a million places. You got him this far. He’s an adult, free to wander wherever. Typical LA, they just wanted to get rid of him. If he’s a druggie, he’ll mess up sooner or later. We’ll call you. There’s been no crime here.”
Dad was fit to be tied, mostly because he had screwed up. Helen said it was her fault for not knowing to come to the gate. Jack was a little chagrinned for having distracted me. Winston knew that nobody blamed him. Uncle Bob was just as angry as he always was about Joey.
Jack called Mummy, who insisted that everyone come to the Dakota. A car was ordered. We would make our plans there. I was pretty sure I could find Joey. Jack was ecstatic. I called Mom and explained I was delayed.