Bowling weekend is over. ‘Gator won’t be satisfied with anything other than total victory. Ames responds to his exhortation. Ames High is State and National Champs. His musical debut as rock drummer is 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 are run out of town. The only setback is no permanent return of John Boy Stone to his life in Ames. I accept that he is never going to be a country boy, no matter how hard he tries. Perhaps trying too hard to meet my desires robs him of his speech. I believe he isn’t faking it. I’m so proud that he faced down his haters and is all the stronger for it. I’ll go visit him in New York at the Dakota as often as I can.
Ames is boring, unless you think you’re a bowling star and a rock and roll hero. After the New Yorkers’ plane leaves, I rush to the Pizza Pit to start my Sunday night delivery shift. It’s always our busiest night of the week. I return a bit after seven o’clock to my dinner, kept warm in the Hyland Street oven. I take my plate up to the third floor where ‘Gator and the twins nervously watch me for signs of nervous breakdown.
“I ain’t gettin’ all bothered ‘cause he’s gone,” I inform 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 mocks me.
“Disappointed I ain’t a girl, here to meet yer every need.”
“Oh, ‘Gator do we not meet yer every need?” Angie takes another bite out of the poor farm boy.
“I’s still a’waitin,’” he complains.
“Good luck,” Amy softens the sarcasm her twin always dishes out.
I pull out my SG and start playing ‘Country Roads,’ as I feel I’m really home. I substitute Ames Iowa for West Virginia.
The twins join my singing with their pure high voices. ‘Gator shows he has real talent as we harmonize on a lower scale. Angie picks up her guitar, picking the notes as if it were a banjo.
I next play Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Sounds of Silence’ to confirm we 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 keeps picking the folk song’s single notes, as we all sing. All fourof us, even ‘Gator, have tears of joy rolling down our cheeks. We end in a group hug. I look over at the stairs and see the moms hugging each other. What a family.
In bed that night, I promise ‘Gator not to say a word about all the tears – tough guy image hard to maintain. I promise to kept our secrets and keep him on track to be the monster of the gridiron next fall at Iowa State.
“Ya rilly goin’ ta Hahvahd next year?” he asks 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’m asleep before ‘Gator changes bedrooms.
My week falls back into its regular routine. I even make choir practice at First Baptist. There’s a bit of a tizzy over John Boy’s confrontation with the Harlan Baptist group. That church initiates a complaint that Ames Baptist is enabling a gay boy to subvert their children by singing with the Ames choir. The Ames pastor writes an impassioned defense of John Boy. He ‘witnessed’ the beauty of our voices as proof that gays can by inspired by God, proof that the salvation road is wide enough to accommodate the gays. I offer to stop performing with the twins at Baptist services. The pastor decides that silencing me is not in God’s plan. I feel so inspired.
My weekly session with Dr. Kam goes well. After sharing Dakota gossip (Paul McCartney has visited and is impressed with Julian’s improvement on the guitar), I’m able to recount the horrors of my truck stop prostitution and rape, in gory detail. I’m exhausted after the session. Helping Gator with the milking is calming and the regular pizza deliveries get me back in a good mood. I’m not prepared for the message waiting for me at home: Helen called, desperate to talk with me about Joey. It seems like ages since I even thought about him. He is 22 now, which seems really old. I call her in Massachusetts.
“Hi, Helen,“ I feel more comfortable using her first name now that I’m 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 know what his condition is. 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 are on 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 remember 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 need 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 formulate 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’s 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’ll handle the OD of someone I really love may be above my maturity level.
“I’ll call you once I’m with Joey.”
I run downstairs and call a family meeting. It was so much easier when I just sneaked away to LA. Maybe this was the price of maturity. Thanks, Helen. With everyone assembled, I relate 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 wants 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 is 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 is an understatement.
“You think you can rescue him. If he’s in the hospital, he must’ve OD’d.” Molly knows the score.
I already brought him back from the dead once, but I’m not about to relate that adventure.
“I visited there once. I 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 keeps up the interrogation.
“Joey helped me rescue Tina’s brother who had been kidnapped in the Bronx by a gang. I went to LA after the rescue.”
“Who’s Tina?” the twins ask.
“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 gets 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 says something.
“I’ve changed. That’s why I’m asking for permission now.” I’m losing patience. “Call Helen and confirm she needs the help only I can give.”
“We’ll do that and discuss it ourselves,” Molly decides. “Go to school as normal on Friday and if we agree, you can spend the weekend in Hollywood,” Molly remarks, then laughs. “That sounds so decadent.”
“Thanks, moms,” I jump up and hug them. I wink at ‘Gator and the twins. They look at me suspiciously, as well as with a degree of envy. And I think bowling and fighting holy rollers is exciting.
The four of us go up to the third floor. Time for interrogation number two.
“Who’s Tina? And who’s Scott?” they all have to know.
“That was two years ago. Several boyfriends and girlfriends under the bridge.”
“That’s not why you were locked up?” Angie sees 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 laugh. They give up trying to trace my relationships, gay and straight.
Lying in bed, ‘Gator wants to know all about Hollywood. I spare no details, even the teepee in Doug Weston’s back yard. He’s aghast that I was part of a big orgy. I explain how breaking the same-age sex rule got me into trouble. I decide to call Doug and find out the details of Joey’s OD. ‘Gator insists he listen to the call. We sneak 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 haven’t talked in ages.” 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. 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 back me up.”
“Oh, I’ll love that.”
“I’ll call when I get in.”
‘Gator looks 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 fall back into good ol’ boy mode.
“Anyway, who’ll 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 tell everyone I’m going to Hollywood. They all wish me good luck, thinking it’s my big break. Even Mrs. McCarthy tells me she knows I’ll make it there. The moms come and collect me before final bell. My flight leaves at 2 pm. After a Denver layover, I’ll land at LAX at 6 pm. The moms give me several hundred dollars, warning I have to call them if any emergency happens. They only ‘sorta’ trust me. I use the cash to take a cab to Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital. Joey looks terrible. His good looks are ruined by acne. He can’t weigh more than 130 pounds. He still is feisty as ever.
“Look what the cat dragged in,” is his first remark.
“Look who got dragged in by a mountain lion,” I laugh at him.
He expects sympathy but quickly grins that I’m not going all social worker on him.
“Yeah, You should see how the lion looks.”
I resist 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 looks me over, head to toe. “Whoa. Ya growed up hotter’n ever,” he whistles.
“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. I get out clean.”
“Get out where and how long will that last?”
“LA. Doug’ll take me back. He’s easy. A blow job every week for room and board.”
I don’t fault Doug for causing Joey’s problems, but he sure makes 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 looks 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 reaches out to me, his arm still hooked up to the intravenous drip. He looks scary. I slide up the bed and hold his hand. I know drug addiction is not contagious, but he makes me feel ill. I’m so sad. He is my first love. I’ve moved past him and he’s five years older than me. I feel an overwhelming urge to call Dr. Kam for advice. We just sit there looking at each other.
“Ya best leave before this becomes a pity party,” he dismisses 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 Springsteen and played CBGB’s. My boyfriend, Jack, and I started homeless shelters for runaways. We opened for Lynyrd Skynyrd. I got arrested after we got the fans to break down the gates. I hid out in the Everglades for four months and escaped to Iowa where Mom now lives. I got twin step-sisters my age. We started a new band, the Triplets. Jack came back from Switzerland. 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’s speechless. I hug him, ignoring all the needles and tubes he is hooked up to. The nurse comes in and looks at us with mild disgust.
“Visiting hours are over. You’d best go,” she orders.
“Sure,” I say and give Joey a deep French kiss. Who cares that he’s at Death’s Door.
“How ya getting around?” Joey asks. “Wanna use my bus pass. I ain’t goin’ nowheres.”
I nod. He climbs out of bed, his ass hanging out of the hospital johnny. He’s all skin and bones, not a bit of flesh, with his arms and legs as thin as a pencil. His ass is nothing but loose skin. I shudder, took the bus pass, and leave.
I figure it’s too late to bother Dr. Kam. Time to go to the Troubadour and meet Doug. The hospital is at the eastern end of Hollywood and the club at the border of West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. The Sunset bus takes me across town. I’ll walk down Doheny to the club on Santa Monica Boulevard. I’m ready for the Nightlife.
Going by bus in LA is counter to the prevailing attitude that everyone has a car and no one walks in LA (or takes the bus). Most bus patrons are minorities on their way to work, probably illegals as they avoid contact with everyone lest they be noticed. On the other hand, Blacks are not going to be deported, regardless of how their ancestors came to the U.S. Young dudes roam the bus aisles as if they own them, which they do. Two dudes with ‘fros drop into the seats next to me, excited to find a hick from the sticks to ‘goof’ on. I’m more than willing to play a part in their social drama.
“Where’s ya get them duds, man?” they quiz me. “Yer from Fresno, right?’
“Naw. Iowa,” I bravely reveal my innocence.
“Ya got a buck. I need a soda.”
“How ‘bout a juice,” I reach in my backpack and pull out one of the provisions Mom has packed. “Take a hit. We kin share,” as I pop the top.
They both stare 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 takes the can and drinks a small amount. Then he elaborately spits it back into the can, handing it back to me.
“Not to yer likin’?” I ask.
“Ya said ya wanted some spit.”
“I said a little, not an ocean.”
They laugh. “Why ya in LA, Iowa?” one asks.
“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 haven’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 look at me. “Ya tryin’ to get over on us?”
“Naw, but y’ain’t getting’ over on me neither.”
They stand up. “Okay, white boy. Ya gonna give me that dollar?”
I handed him my juice. “Maybe ya kin sell this here can o’ spit fer a buck.”
They shake their heads, laugh and look for a better victim.
They get off at Western. I watch as they walk toward Hollywood Boulevard. Three white kids move in on me, laughing that I foiled the Black kids’ hustle.
“How you get out of givin’ them two yer money?” one asks me.
“Is that what they wanted?” I innocently ask.
“We know you ain’t no hick from the sticks.”
“Yer wrong. I gots ta milk cows every mornin’. It’s jist I 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 get off at Highland.
“See ya, I-o-way.
I see a bunch of similar kids hanging about the bus stop. They are checking out the cruisers in cars. I’m learning Hollywood street smarts quickly. Hollywood High is on the opposite corner. Past La Brea the hustlers are all female, or maybe some trannies as well. iHop seems to be the center of their attention, although there are many street walkers. By the time we get to the Sunset Strip I start to recognize landmarks from movies. A tall tower building advertised the Playboy Club. I see the railroad car diner from Annie Hall. Sunset turns west again at Tower Records, with the entire store front covered with blow-ups of album covers. I get excited when I see the Whiskey. I jump off the bus and go 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 want to think about the Doors, Jim Morrison and the Riot on Sunset Strip. It’s less exciting tonight, but I love the history.
I walk down San Vicente toward Santa Monica. It’s mostly residential until I get close. Instead of turning right toward Beverly Hills and the club, I mistakenly turn left. I’m 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 walk up and speak with her.
She looks at me and laughs. “Not sure you can comment on style and dress, looking like a hayseed.”
“Hi, I’m Andy. Ya don’t likes my Love jeans. It’s 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 look 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 laugh. “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 looks at his list without seeing my name. Over his shoulder, I see my friend Tony.
“Tony. Tony,” I yell.
He looks over, slightly bored, until he recognizes me. He runs over.
“Let him in. He’s with Doug.” The magic password.
“What’s up?’ Tony gives me a quick hug and wink. “Doug know you’re here?”
“Yeah. I’m here to rescue Joey. He OD’d.”
“Not the first OD, except this time 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 like 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 punch him on the arm. We laugh. He leads me upstairs into Doug’s office. Tony sits behind the big desk where he spreads out his arms.
“Welcome to my domain,” and he laughs. “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 don’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 winks.
“I find him really sweet, just a bit possessive.”
“I like being possessed,” as he gives me a manic look. “Wanna a drink?”
“Beer’s cool. Gotta a joint?”
“Hang on,” as he picks up the phone. Within moments a cocktail waitress arrives with a pitcher of beer.
She asks me for ID. As I sputter with some lame excuse, they break up, laughing at me. Tony walks out of the office, returning soon with a big fat joint. He lights it up and passes it to me. The last time I smoked was at the Dakota with Jack’s cousins. I instantly feel paralyzed, sitting on the couch, unable to move, with a big idiot grin on my face. Tony comes and sits with me as we hit the joint. He pretty much attacks me with serious kissing and a back massage. I’m too stoned to really respond. It’s total role reversal, but I don’t care. He enjoys coming on to me and finds it amusing that I’m so passive.
“The old Tim is no more,” he laments. I’m not about to relate all my adventures since that weekend in 1974. I’m happy that he likes me. We’re just two teens in Hollywood, looking for fun.
“I’m not used to getting this stoned anymore. How about this?” I pull his tee-shirt up, lick his nipples, undo his belt and pop his jeans’ buttons.
“Hang on,” as he jumps up and closes the office door. No longer paralyzed I tackle him when he turns around at the door. We roll around on the fluffy shag carpeting (shag is the right word for it and it does have some nice qualities), while I pull his jeans off his ass and grab his butt cheeks. We both look like idiots with stupid grins. Doug choses that moment to walk in on us. We don’t notice him until he makes a polite cough. We separate instantly. Seeing it’s him, we both start giggling.
“You’re molesting my boyfriend,” Doug accuses 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 moans. “I have trained you to be a monster.”
“Naw. He still loves me,” Tony proclaims.
“Hey, I’m right here, in case you don’t notice.”
We get up. Tony pulls up his jeans.
“Hi, Doug,” I announce with a goofy grin. “Tony says you’ve discovered him.”
He comes over and hugs 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 have 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 interjects.
“That’s what Julian Lennon wanted to know when I took my boyfriend to New York to be cured.”
“Are you involved in Julian’s band. I hear 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 is also in it. John Lennon just got up and played one song with us. Dakota’s pretty kaput now that I’m back to Ames. Julian and Nina now go 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 with the kids at St Patrick’s in New York. My real band is still working on our own set. We’re called ‘False Gods’ but we’ve broken up.”
Tony is barely listening, obviously bored, as I brag about my rock cred.
“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 agrees.
Tony perks up. Both of us go over to Doug and start molesting him.
“No three-ways in the office,” he declares. “You boys go out tonight. We’ll get brunch after a real session at the house in the morning.”
Doug winks. We run off to hit the scene.
“Has the club changed the type of bands that play here?” I ask 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 laughs. “We’ll go up Santa Monica to the Starwood. It’s where the kids go, 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 stop worrying about Joey.
Tony’s Datsun looks like a tin can with wheels. He drives like it’s a North Carolina demolition derby, never braking and weaving through traffic. I whoop and holler like I’m with Wayne and Floyd. Tony blasts KROQ through his tinny radio, Bay City Rollers. I’d never heard them before. We park off the boulevard, next to an adult porno shop. I drag Tony inside. I’d seen them in Times Square but never indulged. We laugh at the magazine covers and get kicked out after both of us crowd into a video booth and mock the simulated sex show. The manager catches us with our pants down and drags us outside.
“Give us our money back,” Tony demands he refund the quarters we 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 challenge him.
“I’ll kick yer asses,” he proclaims while giving us two quarters. We laugh and run through traffic to the Starwood parking lot across the street. The bouncer at the door smiles at Tony and gives us in-n-out stamps. We enter the stage area and go up the stairs to the VIP balcony seating. Right when we sit down, a cocktail waitress takes our order for a pitcher of beer. When I get my wallet out to pay, Tony tells me to put my money away. He is always compt’d. Cool.
“Man. You got the life,” I smile at him.
“Yeah. Bein’ Doug’s boyfriend is like bein’ with the godfather of rock. All the bands want me to get them booked at the Troubadour. 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 laughs. “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. I was definitely a prostitute when I came out here two years ago.”
A tall kid in platforms and glittered to death interrupts us, sitting down and giving Tony double air kisses. He looks over, recognizes me and lights up with a grin on his face and a joint from his pocket.
“Tim. You came back.” It’s meek and mild Jimmy.
“Jesus, Jimmy. You grew up.”
We pass the joint around. It lures several girls and guys to share the weed. Our table suddenly is over-crowded. Again, getting stoned makes me temporarily paralyzed. I watch everyone socializing, which is like an amusing sit-com. People come and go. I’m finally able to move, dragging Tony and Jimmy away from the stoners.
“Let’s check out the disco,” I shout over the club din. A band is playing on stage but they are too slow and ponderous. We stumble down the stairs, due to Jimmy still not used to the platform shoes. It’s all good. We run into the disco side, where the heavy beat of Donna Summer is blasting.
All three of us hit the dance floor together. Other boys and girls join us, accepting me as part of Tony’s crew. Thirty minutes later, I beg for a break to cool off with more beer. Our table in the VIP balcony is still over-crowded, so Jimmy takes us into the parking lot. At the back of the lot, we smoke out. I have to be dragged/carried back inside, where Tony gets us another pitcher backstage, where the lame band has just finished.
“We got kicked out of the porno across the street for jerking off together in a booth,” Tony brags.
“Let’s go up to Hollywood Boulevard. We can jerk it for the pervs 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 is full of perverted ideas.
Tony drives with all three of us in the front of his Datsun. Jimmy rides pussy with an arm around each of us. I pay the three dollars for us to get into the X-rated movie on the corner of Cherokee and Hollywood. Mom’s money is spent on porno. I’m not concerned she’ll find out. It’s too late in Iowa for me to call for permission to go to the movies. It is a slippery slope.
We all sit in the front row and go at each other, jerking and sucking in a mass of teenaged asses and heads bouncing up and down. Soon almost everyone in the theater moves down to watch our show while a lame straight porn film plays above our heads. Our three-way goes on for twenty minutes or so, until some guy tries to join in. We vigorously rebuff the perv and march up the aisle.
“The shows over, boys,” Jimmy announced.
Half the crowd follows us out of the theater. Tony leads everyone next door to the Gold Cup, where the regular hustlers and johns move to the back, as our posse of twenty perverts invades the long counter up front. Tony and Jimmy begin negotiating sex trade, charging twenty dollars for their telephone numbers to arrange future dates. To prove they aren’t ripping the johns off, each has to go out back for quick blow jobs. Once attested as ‘for real,’ they sell their numbers quickly. As the ‘new kid in town,’ I’m even more popular. I didn’t have a phone number and don’t pass out my Hyland House home number. The twins are sure to enjoy the calls. I get offered ‘hundreds’ to go off for anal fucking. I maintain I have a boyfriend and don’t cheat. Interest in me falls off quickly.
“Let’s go eat at Arthus J’s,” Tony suggests once they collect all their future date payments. Tony’s little car is easy to park. It’s perfect for the city. Hollywood is a mini-Times Square with parking.
Arthus J’s is another hustling trip. This time we act innocent and shoo away the johns. I’m famished and the greasy hamburgers and fries are just what I need. The real action is outside on the corner of Highland and Santa Monica. It is after midnight, now Saturday morning. I feel like a kid again, just doing what everyone else does, not caring that it’s all perverted. After eating, we join the hustlers on the corner. Once the real hustlers realize we’re not serious about going off with tricks, they use our unspoiled looks to lure cruisers. Every time one stops and we go over to negotiate, they push us out of the way and take the trick. We’re no pros.
At one o’clock we drive up the strip, past the Whiskey which looks dead. We hang outside the Roxy, where the show is just getting out. When I see Lou Reed on the marquee, I kick myself for missing the show. We covered his songs so many times, I feel like I know him. And, he’s from New York, my spiritual home. I chat with anyone who can tell me about the show, which songs he played, and what his solo stuff is like. The sidewalk is packed. Angelenos appreciated New York acts and turn out at their shows. I tell Tony and Jimmy that Joey is the real ‘Little Joe’ on ‘Walk on the Wild Side.’
“Yeah. He never once gives it away,” Tony confirms.
“Where’s he now? Is he in LA?” a fan asks.
“Yeah, but he OD’d and is in Hollywood-Presbyterian,” I admit.
“Can he have visitors?” everyone in LA is an obnoxious celebrity groupie or looky-loo.
“Naw, he gets out tomorrow. He’s a retired celebrity.”
LA closes down at 2 am. Tony says we could go to an after hours place in Silverlake. All the gays who haven’t hooked up go around the parking lot groping each other until they find a dick they like. Jimmy’s eyes sparkles with excitement but I’m done in. To think that in the morning I was milking cows at ‘Gator’s family farm and at the end of the day I’m asking to be milked myself in East Hollywood – it’s enough. I need a bed.
Packed into the Datsun, Jimmy pulls out another joint. Instead of getting paralyzed, I perk up and we’re singing to the radio and generally goofing on each other. Jimmy kisses me on the cheek, saying he loves me, but I’d have to pay if I want 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 crows. And I do, sort of.
Tony drives us to Doug’s and leads me to his room. He has graduated from the tee pee to the house.
“I can sleep in Joey’s room, if you want,” I offer, knowing he had gotten off more than once already.
“No way. Doug’s gonna come in and molest me later. I want all three of us to do it.”
That’s pretty explicit. I remember how gentle Doug was during sex, so it’s 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. All three of us are so tight, it’ll be sweet. I do love him. I’ll bet you really don’t. Will it bother you to share you?”
I just laugh. “All planned out, huh?”
“Naw. I just know it’s gonna be sweet.”
I kiss him to seal the deal. We strip off and fall 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 makes it hard to remember the whole performance. I know it was not just a performance for the two of them. I look around for Jace, but he never shows up. I wonder if I should tell them about the Friendly Ghost.
I wake up early and bring coffee into Tony’s room. Doug has us move to the master bedroom. He loves acting out the master role. All three of us are comfortably drinking coffee in the king-size bed. Later, Jimmy comes in and joins us.
After we confessed our sins from the previous night’s whoring, the talk turns to Joey. Lou Reed performing at the Roxie reminds me of Joey’s role in ‘Walk on the Wild Side.’
“What to do with that boy?” Doug actually is concerned.
“He’s hardly a boy at 22,” I contend.
“He’s never grown up,” Tony observes.
I’m 17 and feel so much older than when Joey and I had our weekend of lust in Coconut Grove. I’ve grown up. He’s lost his glamour. It makes him old at 22.
“His mom, my aunt, asked me to bring him back home to Massachusetts.”
‘Road Runner, Road Runner,” Jimmy sings the Modern Lovers hit.
“Jesus, New England. He’ll die of boredom,” Tony worries.
“He’ll get back into the New York scene again,” I suggest.
“A sure ticket down the addiction highway,” Doug counters.
“Maybe if he just takes a break by being home,” I say hopefully.
Doug suggests, “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 feel a great relief. My friends are all rallying for Joey. I start hugging everyone and of course, the tears start up. I ‘m such a sap.
“You’re crying,” Tony notices.
“Yeah, what a jerk. I only cry when I’m happy.”
“You are so weird.”
“Yeah, but we love ya,” Jimmy adds.
“My little family,” Doug hugs the three of us all at once and then gets out of bed. “I’ll go make a call. Then we can all visit the burnout together.”
The tear dry up when I realize how famished I am. I lead the other two into the kitchen and do my best Mom impression, making pancakes and bacon. No blueberries yet. It’s only April. It doesn’t slow any of us down. We all have large stacks of Aunt Jemima buttermilk cakes.
Doug comes in while we were scarfing the calories, taking a few bites from Tony’s plate. Tony grins 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 ask.
“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 cracks.
“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 laughs.
“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 notes.
“That’s how I get him over his pouting – mad crazy fucking.”
“I hope you boys are learning something here,” Doug tells his live-in boyfriends.
“Let’s go see Joey,” I change the direction of this conversation, to the relief of Tony and Jimmy. The thought and visual of Doug fucking like a teenager is unsettling.
Doug gets a taxi, refusing to ride in Tony’s ‘rust bucket,’ as he calls it. We walk into Joey’s room at Hollywood Presbyterian.
“Jeez,” he complains, “youse come to torture me?”
“Ya can’t lay about in the hospital forever,” Doug announces.
“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 state.
“I ain’t killin’ maself. It’s the drugs.”
“Ya need to stop, Joey,” Tony speaks up.
“Yeah,” agrees Jimmy.
“Jesus, the kiddy patrol is on my butt.”
I sit on his bed and grab his hand. He tries to pull away, but his wrists are handcuffed to the bed. Then he looks downcast, as I make my pitch.
“Y’all knows the bar Rahar’s, in Northampton?”
“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 looks 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 say encouragingly.
We all laugh.
“Ya just wanna get rid of me, huh?”
“Joey, we almost lost ya. I’d hate myself if you died. I luv ya, cuz.” I start to cry.
“Oh, jeez. Youse always makin’ me feel sentimental. Fuck it.”
I hug him and won’t let go. A doctor walks 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 have parents, as well? You have to go to rehab, son. The court ordered it.”
“What if he does outpatient rehab where his parents live. Doug has found him a job back in Massachusetts,” I speak 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 writes Helen’s phone number and gives it to Dr. Engle. Joey shoots me a nasty look, but I know it’s 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 looks somewhat appreciative. “And thanks, you dipshits,” he turns to us.
“It’s up to you to make it work,” Doug warns him.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. I just love livin’ at home.”
I break into a Ramones song, ‘We’re a Happy Family’
Doug gives 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 beg.
“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 add.
“How’d that happen?”
“My boyfriend lives in his building. 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. Yer a big kid at heart.”
“Well, let’s go.”
“What about me?” Joey shouts.
“Yer no longer a kid when you become an addict.”
“I know Johnny Thunders,” he counters.
“That only proves you’re an addict.”
“Enough,” I yell. “No wonder he OD’d, living with all this negative criticism.”
“Let me come. I neva heard him play,” Joey begs.
“Yeah, right. You’ll sneak away to score the second we get to West Hollywood.”
“Man, gimme a break,” Joey moans. It was the first time I see through his junkie act – sad.
“Y’all’s stayin’ right here ‘tils I takes ya home to mama,” I pronounce.
I see 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 make the driver pull over when I see the same leather chick smoking on the corner. I jump out.
“Hey, Joan, Come with. I’s got me a tryout at the Troubador. I needs someone ta play for,” I beg.
She drags me into Larrabee Studios, running up to the engineer inside a sound-proof recording booth. “Tell Jimmy what you just said,” Joan orders.
“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 follow me out to the waiting cab and see 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 snarks.
“Naw, he was innocent then. Now he’s saying he’s in a ghost band.”
Jace appears, at least to me. I poke Tony and nod toward Jace. Tony squints but doesn’t see him. Jimmy does and whispers, “Who’s that?”
“Y’all can see ‘im? His name’s Jace. He’s a ghost.”
“No shit,” they both say.
“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 shiver. I’m surprised that Jimmy can see him if it bothers him to think about fucking his ghostly dick. Jimmy always had a big heart. Jace sits 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 get there,” Larrabee Jimmy directs.
Once at the Troubadour, Doug finds a cool Fender Telecaster for me to play. It lacks a tremolo bar but I’m not going to play guitar hero, just crank out the leads to our songs. I warm up with some Ramones, while we wait for Joan and her entourage. I put out 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 wanna 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 finish with a long riff. The musicians look interest but are 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 to know
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 sing ‘cum,’ I jump off the stage, running up to Joan, singing:
“Shaka shaka love shaka shaka.”
Over and over again I sing the chorus, until she couldn’t help herself from shaking it to my guitar. I keep thrusting it suggestively at her. She puts her hands behind her head and responds to the beat with shakes and twists of her own. Her posse of mostly girls are all shaking it with her.
“Now, these are times we feel most alive, but we’re still teens,” and I break 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 go 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 stop dancing and are looking at me dreamily, or were they looking at Joan? It doesn’t matter. I set the mood.
“Well, all’s not easy for a pot-headed teen. We do have our share o’ troubles, but we always find a way to stay free. This is for you Jimmy, Tony and Larrabee Jimmy,” as I run 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 is looking perturbed that I have abandoned her, so I run over, shouting, “And when I had no one to run to.” I jump 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 can’t stand not being the center of attention. Once I start to do the monkeyshines dance, she jumps in with me to mimic my monkey act.
Ha ha ha
He he he
Haw haw haw
Chee chee chee”
We run around getting everyone below the age of 20 to join in. Larrabee Jimmy jumps in anyway, a total kid at 25. Joan told me he is gay. I see him in a new light, now that Jay is married and straight. I grab him from behind and jump on his back. Together we chase the kids around. I stop singing but no one notices, as everyone else is doing their own vocals, no need for guitar or rhythm.
Doug looks concerned that his club is about to be trashed. Jimmy and I run over and tell him to relax.
Doug just sakes 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 a collector’s item,” as he points at the Stratocaster laying on the floor and kicked around.
I grab the guitar and jump back on the stage. It’s only about a foot high. I plug back in and light into the opening chords of ‘False Gods.’
“Stop,” I yell into the mic. “Stop trashing Doug’s club. You’re ruining my tryout fer rock god.”
They slow down but don’t really stop. The chords I rip 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 can tell Doug doesn’t like my music. I might as well go out on my own song. The kids lap it up. No more trashing, as they crowd in front of the stage, watching me writhe. A nail catches the back of my briefs, giving me a full wedgie. Naturally that gets me hard. At the end of the song, I jump up, grab my balls and tell everyone to leave. I herd them toward the front of the house, thumping Joan and Jimmy several times with my hard dick. Once outside,I slam the door and made sure it’s locked.
“Ya like them apples?” I crow at Doug. His expression is not one of appreciation. Raucous rock has yet to invade the storied environs of Santa Monica and Doheny. I need to play something more appropriate for the setting – Elton John’s ‘Crocodile Rock.’
I’d been playing for Joan and her Runaways. I can now play just for Doug. I end with the Elvis version of ‘My Way.’
I put the guitar down and jump off stage, running to Doug to hug and kiss him. I did my best. Tony and Jimmy smile slightly ill at ease with me hitting on their sugar daddy.
“What is this Jekyll and Hyde act? Just when I’d written you 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 stand alone in his club, pleading my case.
As he shakes his head, Tony and Jimmy grab 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. He plays like a maniac,” Tony argues.
Jimmy just hugs Doug, nodding in full agreement with Tony.
“I’m sorry, Tim. I’m thinking and acting like a Hollywood music asshole. I can’t help it. I’m hungry. Wanna get pizza?” Doug knows 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. 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 lean over and hug him. Tony and Jimmy giggle at my obvious moves.
“Y’all ain’t ready ta be a rock star?” Doug mocks 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 kisses me on the head. I realize he’s happy with the two boys who are actually attracted to him.
We return to scarfing the pizza, while Doug works on his manicotti and pasta.
Back at the house, I call Helen to catch up on the Joey situation.
“Oh, Tim. I knew you’d find a solution. The doctor said he’ll 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 suggests 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 treats me like I know more than she does.
“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 cuz,” I greet 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 remember the water-bed adventures too well. I can’t help but feel protective of them.
“We ain’t sleepin’ with the freak,” Jeff swears.
“Let me say hi to Jerry.”
“Hi, Timmy,” he comes 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 say good-bye before I get embarrassed.
Jimmy sees my single tear. “Everything cool?” he asks.
Instead of answering, I broke into Sly Stone’s ‘Family Affair.”
He and Tony join me. Doug know this song and all four of are singing, our own little family.
It’s a late LA afternoon, warm with a hazy sun dulling the pastel colors. I strip off and jump into the pool and start swimming laps. It’s a reminder of how long ago I had done the same to clear my head. Now I’m stretching my muscles, whichever ones are still there after 18 months of not working out. Doug and the boys jump into the hot tub, au naturale. I soon join them. Doug’s long poll of a dick invades all three butts as he is lord of the Jacuzzi. It feels just as silken as last time. We three boys suck each other off until Doug cums finally from Tony’s squeezing orgasm. All four of us end up in Doug’s king-size bed for an afternoon nap. I wake up as he is dressing to go to work.
“Stay in bed,” he orders. “They’ll take you around later. Nothing happens until after ten in West Hollywood.”
As soon as he leaves, Tony and Jimmy jump out of bed, dragging me with them. I have 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. It’s all worked out. It’ll be even better if you are here too.”
“No longer the shy guy from South Bay.”
“I get shit for having a sugar daddy. 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 laugh.
“Ya think I’m a prosti-toot for staying here?” Jimmy asks.
“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 argues.
“Slimy sluts,” Jimmy proclaimed.
“Shiny happy sluts,” I add.
I finally have an answer to Tina’s question two years before about what ‘free’ love is.
Tony takes us to the club, as he has to work. We offered to help but he kicks us out.
“Go have fun. Tonight’s bands are nothing much. Go chase that Suzi Quartro clone. She looks like fun.” He tosses me his car keys.
We tooled up Santa Monica Blvd, me driving while Jimmy yells out the window at all the street tricks he apparently knows. We park on Larrabee and knock on the studio door, in the low, one-story building. After they recognize us from earlier, we’re admitted. It’s 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 seems 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, it’s 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’m impressed. “It reminds me of the Monkees, but better ‘cause yer a chick singin’ it.”
Larrabee Jimmy starts laughing. “It might be a bit like the Monkees, since Michael Nesmith actually wrote it.”
Joan shoots him a nasty look. “Well, here’s the song I did write after you played. It’s called ‘California Paradise,’” she admits.
It’s okay. I liked the Hollywood one better. I figure Joan did as well, as she tried to pass it off as her own.
“Now yer copying the Momas and Papas’ “California Dreamin’’.
“So what do you think?” Joan wants my approval.
“The Monkees will do,” as I grabbed the mic and sang a capella, “I’m a Believer.’
“But you’re gay,” Joan disputes my sincerity.
“Gay in the day, straight at night.” I smirk at my ‘rhyme in time as truth.’
“Hey, we’re working here,” Jimmy complains. “I’ve got another session in an hour.”
“I’d hate to stop you from working just to have a little fun,” I joke.
Joan gives me a nasty look, causing me to jump up and grab a quick kiss. She doesn’t really respond and looks a bit distressed. Well, my charm will never match Jack’s.
“We’ll wait until y’all’s done and treat ya ta hamburgers.”
“Oki Dog,” Jimmy shouts.
“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 counters.
Jimmy and I sit in a corner. He scores a couple of cigarettes and I smoke for the first time in a couple of years. Still tastes vile, ‘cause my pot habit makes me inhale too much smoke. I choke from trying not to cough.”
Joan works with Larrabee Jimmy on her guitar and vocal tracks for their new album, Queens of Noise. We go outside so my coughing wouldn’t ruin the recording. An old van with Florida plates pulls up. A bunch of long hairs pile out and start unloading equipment. They are the next session at Larrabee Studios. The last guy to leave the van is a hillbilly with blonde hair covering his face and a buck-tooth grin. It’s Tom Petty.
I run 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 asks.
“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 grabs an acoustic guitar and sings for Jimmy and me. The song is ‘American Girl’
“Yer tryin’ ta be Bruce Springsteen now?” I laugh.
“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’s 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 band’s 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 pipes 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 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 appears, 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 turns red. “Yeah, we’s doin’ a demo tonight.”
“Yer on Shelter, right. But no one’s 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 interrupt, ” Runaways, the Heartbreakers.”
Everybody laughs 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 demurs, still from the heartland.
Joan jumps into the front of Jimmy’s Datsun. I crowd her over until she finally sits on my lap. Three girl fans are in the back. Luckily Astro Burger isn’t as expensive as Dan Tana’s. Moms’ money goes a long way. We all sit in a window seat, watching the action across the street at Oki Dog.
Kids are going up to the order window, discussing their order with an Asian, and returning to a bench seat with a wrapped sandwich. They never pay.
“What’s an Oki Dog?” I ask.
“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 decides.
We enter the twilight zone of hustlers and gays looking to be picked up.
Jimmy explains that Oki Dog was the end of the free zone that starts on Selma and Las Palmas going west to Highland, south to Santa Monica, and west to La Brea, where anyone on the street will cruise to get picked up for money. From La Brea to Vista it’s a mixture of sex for pay and/or for free. Oki Dog is the end of this mixed use zone. Everyone cruising west on Santa Monica doesn’t expect to be paid. Joan laughs 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 laughs.
“Bet ya can’t get picked up here,” Jimmy challenges her.
The girl posse hanging on Joan are shocked but not surprised. Jimmy is happy to play her game. It doesn’t take long before both are picked up. Joan is back in less than five minutes.
“Did your john think ya was a boy?” I kid her.
She holds 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 defend him.
After ten minutes, Joan buys us all Okie dogs, swearing Jimmy has to pay her back. They’re great. The cook says, “Chop. Chop,” every time someone gives him an order.
We finish our dogs and watch the street action. About thirty minutes later, a car pulls into the parking lot and Jimmy stumbles out. He is way wasted, with his clothes still half undressed.
“You owe me twenty bucks. Here’s your Oki dog,” Joan greets him.
Jimmy looks at the food and burps 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 screams. Joan grabs the Okie dog. After seeing what Jimmy has burped up, she just gives it back to him. “Pay me next time.”
We slap him on the back. Going to the back of the parking lot, everyone gets stoned. Food and drugs for free on Santa Monica Boulevard.
“Let’s go to Highland Records,” Joan suggests. We cross back to Astro Burger and all six of us pile into Tony’s Datsun. The girls in the back are as silent as ever. Joan sits 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. They wanna do me, but I don’t, ever.”
“Groupies that care,” I mock 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 start singing the Doors, ‘People are Strange.’
Singing makes her wiggle on my lap, which causes the normal reaction, which means she notices the developing hard-on.
“Someone’s acting strange,” she laughs 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’re at the record store, across the street from Hollywood High. I wonder what everyone is going to think when I fail to show up for classes at Ames High on Monday morning. I’m too stoned to care, promising myself I’ll call the moms Sunday morning. That makes me think I’ll miss church and choir. I’m feeling really strange about my life, or lives, as my multiple identities clash.
Highland Records is just a store front, with narrow aisles lined by rows of album stacked on edge for easy browsing. My generic taste for rock will betray me to Joan as too cliché. I decide to appreciate the album art instead of trying to find some exotic record I’ve waited all my life to buy. I’m admiring the Yes albums with the Roger Dean covers, which makes 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 keep looking at the records. A guy comes over and we debate the greatness of Led Zeppelin II.
“I like ‘Houses of the Holy’, too.”
“Time will tell. Ya wanna get high?”
We go around the corner on Selma at the back of another parking lot, sitting on the ground, discussing bands, while he rolls a joint from a small stash box.
After we got high, he asks if I’ll suck his dick.
“I thought you were interested in the music,” I demure.
“I’ll pay,” he offers.
I shake my head, which shut him ups. Mixed messages.
“Well, we are on Selma,” he attempts to explain.
“But we met in the record store.”
“It’s just a pick-up place, kid.” He looks about 25. I feel sorry that he has to pay for sex. It gets me thinking about free love again. Hollywood is a place where the word free is soon monetized.
He walks to Selma and starts trolling the prostitutes. I wander back to the store.
“Make that twenty bucks your friend owes me?” Joan crows, knowing exactly what went down.
“He’s just a troll.”
I’m too high to care. We walk up to Hollywood Boulevard. Jimmy stops me from trying to read all the stars’ names set in the sidewalk pavement.
“Stop bein’ a tourist. Yer sure to get hustled.”
We watch as other tourists get approached. Tourist watching is pretty boring, especially when you are a tourist too.
Joan suggests 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 stuffs us in the Datsun and we head back to West Hollywood. I fill 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 defend his stoner image.
“Well, life in the fast lane tends to change that. We both break out into the Eagles’ hit.
I vogue the ‘brutally handsome’ line while Joan preens to ‘terminally pretty.’ The Datsun is rockin’ even without the radio on. We pull up to the boys standing around smoking outside the studio.
“Hey, Heartbreakers, I gots a Runaway needin’ a heart fix,” I yell out the window.
“What’s y’all wants, sweetheart? I’m Mike,” one of Tom’s guitarists leans in the Datsun
“Ain’t what y’all think, Mike” Joan riposts. “I need a real fix. Know where to score?”
“This ain’t an ‘American runaway dream’,” I quote Springsteen.
“This yer idea of growin’ up, Tim,” Tom is concerned.
“Not me. I’m just tourist a here,” I demure.
“Hey, you,” Tom calls to one of the roadies. “Take Joan to the van and fix her up.”
Joan grabs 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 disappears, leaving her posse still in Tony’s backseat. I walk over to Tom and we catch up on my travails in the Everglades. Gatorsaurus is still entertaining in LA. He tries to explain how he’s 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 had Jimmy come over and promise to get the Heartbreakers a gig at the Starwood.
“Y’all gots ta have fans ta make it big,” Jimmy tells him, forgetting that he’s 16 and Tom 24.
“What happened after the Miami show?” I ask 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 back 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 drives us down to the club and gives the keys back to Tony. Datsun days and Datsun nights.
We sit with Tony upstairs in the VIP area. Jimmy fills him in on all our activities. The highlight is picking up Joan, a hot chick in his eyes. Was this hetero-normal activity, or are we kidding our gay selves.
“You split without saying good-bye,” Jimmy reports.
“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 asks.
“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 think about how I can’t deal with my feelings and cry a lot, even when I’m happy. I didn’t want drugs to solve my problems. I do drugs for the fun of new experiences.
“Ya gonna see Joan again?” Jimmy asks.
“Probably not since I go back on Monday.”
“Cain’t ya stay. It’s so much more fun when you’s here,” Jimmy whines, just like the kids at the Dakota.
I laugh, realizing I had bi-coastal partying to bookend my boring farm life in Iowa.
“How we gonna deal with Doug tonight?” I change the subject, not wanting to regret leaving on Monday.
“Fuck that droopy old booty,” Jimmy shouts, just as Doug walks up and sits down.
“What’s up boys, complaining about the lack of talent for your teen genes?”
“Yeah,” I answer. “But I know the solution – four-way mad fucking,” as I wink at him and the boys.
“Yeah,” the other two agree. “Let’s blow this place.”
Doug shakes his head no, while his face blushed with excitement. “You know I have to close out and pay the bands.”
I look 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 smile at him. Tony and Jimmy are laughing at me.
“Hang on. I’ll be ready in thirty minutes.”
I stand 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 is 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 are in the back of a cab travelling up Doheny. We all attack Doug at once. I’m kissing and licking an ear. Tony is massaging his back and butt. Jimmy, once so shy and innocent, is going down on him. The Armenian cabbie glances in the mirror, shakes his head, and never looks back again.
At the house we drag Doug up the walk. I whisper, “We’re gonna fuck ‘til yer balls turn inside out.” Tony has his hand down the back of his pants, stroking his butt. Jimmy is dragging him inside by his long, skinny dick. Doug’s embarrassment disappears once we all are behind closed doors.
“You want some smoke?” Doug asks.
Jimmy stops sucking him. “The only thing getting smoked is yer dick,” he answers him.
Doug is 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 has Doug writhing on the bed. Tony begins rubbing his asshole, slowly inserting a finger, to Doug’s surprise and apparent distress.
“Appears we have a virgin bottom here,” I grin.
“I’ve tried before. It’s never really worked.”
“I’ll do the work, you relax. It’ll really work out,” Tony takes charge.
Doug rolls on his side, to provide easy access for Tony, while Jimmy moves to keep Doug’s dick busy. I start kissing Doug by first licking his lips like I used to tease Tommy. I hold his head in my hands, while his breathing became ragged and uneven. He moans regretfully when Tony pulls his fingers out of his ass. Soon he gives out a quick gasp. I know Tony has impaled him to replace the fingers. Doug is craving it. Tony thrusts strongly as our four-way fuck package rocks back and forth. Doug becomes frantic, trying to get away from Jimmy’s bouncing head on his dick, while pushing himself onto Tony’s thrusting dick. I pull Jimmy away, repositioning him at Doug’s mouth, while I lightly stroke Doug’s dick, just not enough to let him cum. Doug’s whole body starts to shake involuntarily as Tony’s quick, short stroking drives him crazy. My fist grabs a tight hold on his dick. It slows his shuddering, forestalling an imminent orgasm. He continues kissing Jimmy whose legs are wrapped around Doug’s hip and his dick thrusts against his side. I suck both of Doug’s balls into my mouth and squeezing and licking them simultaneously. I’m raking my dick against Doug’s inner calf, leaking pre-cum all over him and on the bed covers.
“Let me cum. Let me cum,” Doug yells, frustrated by our teasing seduction.
“No fucking way,” Tony orders, just as he pulls out and geysers all over Jimmy and me, as well as Doug.
I slide up Doug’s side and replace Tony’s dick with mine in Doug’s throbbing ass. He relaxes and sighs until I bottomed out. My size surprises him. He gasps and whines at its girth and how deep inside him I go. I stay as deep as possible, barely moving as he squirms and adjusts to my size. Doug’s breathing became less ragged as his ass starts to fuck my rigid dick. His mouth reaches out to mine. We’re kissing and fucking together. Jimmy moves to Doug’s dick and happily returns to sucking him off. Tony has cuddled up against my back, sound asleep, while I’m fucking Doug on the other side. My feet are stretching forward and back as I push slowly into Doug. Jimmy positions his dick so my feet could grip it as they stretch. Doug’s thighs have a firm grip on Jimmy’s head while he vigorously sucks Doug’s dick. I began rocking harder and firmer into Doug’s ass as he begins shuddering. I stop kissing Doug to tell Jimmy to slow down as Doug is ready to cum. Doug frantically searches for my lips, thrusting his tongue inside my mouth. His whole body arches before letting loose downJimmy’s throat. Jimmy’s dick spasmodically stroked by my feet, lets loose as Doug’s dick is released from his lips. His tall pole blasted stringy streams of cum all over us. My dick had long since done its pre-emptory turn at the tip. I cum deep inside Doug, as the three of us climax all together. We each shudder as our climaxes slow and end.
Falling asleep, I don’t wake up until morning. Luckily none of the cum has glued us together. We lay in a heap on top and beside Doug, who snores contentedly on his back. I extract myself from the heap and go to take a shower. I’m running on farm-time, up with the sun to milk the cows. Refreshed and cum-free, I return to collect my clothes.
“You awake, Doug?” I whisper, suspecting he’s feigning sleep.
“Yeah,” he whispers back. “But I just want these moments to last. I’ve never been so completely fucked.”
“Ya likes it, don’ts ya?” I giggle.
“Shh. You’ll wake the others.
“Okay to use your office?. I need to arrange Joey’s escape from the authorities.”
He nods and goes back to sleep.
First, I call 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 Northampton. Can you deal with him doing his rehab in Stockbridge?”
“That would be so wonderful to have him home.” Yeah, for how long I think.
“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.”
What! 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 insists. 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 know my only chance was to get Mom to stand up to him. I call 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. His parents will take him home from there.”
“Will you get back to Ames tomorrow?”
“Well, there’s a hitch. Dad insists on coming here to escort Joey back. It’ll be a disaster. We had the doctors 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 laugh. “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 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.”
“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. He’s gonna ruin it.”
“I can call him.”
“You havta put yer foot down. He won’t listen to me.”
Molly speaks 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 go back into Doug’s bedroom. He’s up and 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 looks concerned. I observe the two teens passed out in his bed and remember 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 my houseboys.”
“He’ll see right through that. I’m just going to havta stop him from coming.”
“Whatever,” as Doug slips back into bed. “I need to make this moment last.”
I go over and kiss him. I always liked the old perv.
I go back to the phone and call home in Coral Gables. Thankfully, Susan answers.
“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 up. I have Joey doing rehab at home in Massachusetts. We even found him a job there. Dad will scuttle all them 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.”
“I’ll try,” as she puts the phone down.
“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 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 stands 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 sputters. 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 shift 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. We’ll fly Joey home once he’s released.”
I groan. “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 give 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 acts surprised. I think only Mom was oblivious.
I ran into Doug’s bedroom and jump 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 complains. ‘m well aware he was not looking forward to explaining to a parent why his son and nephew are living there.
“He listens to no one. Let’s just clean up so there are no drugs or porn in the open.”
Doug looks pained, while the boys are in a state of panic. The housekeeper is called in from her day off. By 2 pm the place looks decent and somewhat normal. The rogues gallery of Doug’s past boyfriends is replaced by photos of the rock acts that normally hang in the Club’s office.
“He knows you’re gay, right?” Doug asks.
“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 even harder for him to accept me.”
“So no gay coming-out drama?”
“Don’t worry. This trip is all about Joey.”
Clean-up done, we lounge by the pool. I even do a short workout to clear my head while the others hit the bong to stay scrambled. I realize we’re hanging out full-time with Doug. At 49 he’s just an elderly teenager that day.
Tony drops me off at LAX. I figure Dad can pay for a cab back to West Hollywood. The Datsun may not be up to his standards. Waiting at the arrival gate, I decide to relax and not fret about our first meeting in a year. Soon after the door opens I saw a muscular dog pulling an older man up the jet way corridor. Dad brought Winston. I have to laugh.
“Dad,” I cry out. “Is this Winston?”
Hearing his name, the dog makes a beeline for me. I’m on my hands and knees roughing him up. He is a happy puppy, even though he must already weigh a hundred pounds.
“Winston, sit,” Dad orders. The dog instantly obeys.
I jump up and gave Dad a big hug. He submits to my affection but demurs when it looks like I was about to kiss him.
“I thought you didn’t want me to come?”
“No. I’m over that as well as you firing me as best man in your wedding. I just don’t want Joey’s release to his parents to get messed up. They could put him in jail.”
“Maybe that’s where he belongs.”
I just shake my head. “Are you really going to make things difficult?”
“No. I just know it’s unlikely that the police will 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 is whining as we verbally spar. Dad leads us down the concourse and outside, where Winston relieves him at a fire hydrant. I hold the leash while Dad retrieves his luggage.
In the cab on the way to Beverly Hills, Dad and I catch up. I’d forgotten that a conversation with Dad is more interrogation than verbal exchange.
“So, how’s school?”
“We won the Iowa State Championship in bowling. Since it’s 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 suppose 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 Champs, huh?
I break out in a big grin. I hug him. All was forgiven.
The hotel room is pretty luxurious. We order room service – hamburgers and fries, of course. I 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. I 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’re in a cab on the way to Hollywood-Presbyterian. For the first time, I notice how rundown East Hollywood s. I’m seeing it through Dad’s eyes.
“Uncle Bert,” Joey is surprised. “What are you doing here?”
“Come to save your ass, buster.” I’m not sure he is just joking or if he needs to bust Joey’s chops.
Joey’s face falls. 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 is better, Joey,” I lie.
He just pouts, which is 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 relents. Joey says 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’re out of there, I try to explain to Dad that he is messing up. “Joey just tunes you out. Kids have no respect for authority. They’re not in the military.”
He looks at me and nods. “Sometimes I can’t stop myself. It’s what I know.”
“Maybe it works in the military. Did I ever tell you about Joey and me visiting 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 dump 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. 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 can see Jace’s goofy grin as we talk about him. Dad and I have made up. Now I have to get him to cool his jets with Joey until we got to New York.
Dad says it’s okay to ask Doug and the boys to have dinner with us at the hotel. Doug is relieved there’s to be no house inspection. Dad was surprised he is older. They talk business for hours while we keep ordering more hamburgers and fries. I finally realize Dad is not used to Hollywood socializing, as well as being three hours ahead. The boys love Winston, who apparently goes everywhere with Dad. We ‘walk’ the dog several times, which provides a chance to hit a joint. I test Winston for Max-like pot affinity and get a firm shake of the head. He’s definitely Dad’s dog, but he loves being with teenagers. He reminds me of Stu.
Before we say good night, Doug takes me aside. I know he’ll make a pitch for me to stay. Actually he 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 declare.
“I never realized that until three teenagers were simultaneously fucking me. Tony and Jimmy are special, too. But you’re something else.”
I kiss him right in the Beverly Wiltshire lobby. I say good-bye to Jimmy and Tony. I decide to spend the night with Dad. We’re actually getting along. I need to get him to cool it on lecturing Joey on the danger of his evil ways. I doubt I would make much progress. Stubbornness is a Castle trait. I call up to the room and suggest we walk Winston. He meets me in the lobby. The dog likes taking the lead. We talk about dogs and how some people were better with cats, but dog people are a special type. We walk 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 for low pay. 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 appears at his name’s mention. He squats down and quickly had Winston’s affection by scratching his ears.
I can’t help giving Dad a big grin, although he flinches before I hug him.
“So, you liked Jace?”
“Well, he did train Max (Dad is 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 sniff.
Dad put his arm around me. I feel ten years old. Why not enjoy it?
We window-shopped for something for Susan. No prices in the windows in Beverly Hills. We goto bed at a reasonable hour. I miss spending my last night with Tony and Jimmy. I think about Joan. She’s my age and already in a successful band, about to release their second album and tour Japan. She definitely turned me on riding on my lap. She’s very butch for a girl, all in black leather. I wonder if her boyish looks are why I’m attracted to her. She had complained that Cherie Currie gets all the press because she was girly and blonde. I told her how Max stole all the spotlight in our band. We were both just second-rate guitarists. I fall asleep and dream I go on tour to Japan with the Runaways. After the first show all these 13-year-old girls are chasing me. The next show they make me wear makeup and a dress. All the teeny Japanese boys chase me after the show. I figure I deserve that dream.
In the morning we walk Winston and find a jewelry store that is open. Susan gets a nice brooch with diamonds and rubies. I don’t ask how much it costs. We take a cab to the hospital and meet Joey’s doctor. Dad is vindicated when he has to show ID that he’s Joey’s uncle. After that formality, Joey’s release goes easily. We’re soon on the way to LAX. I try nudging Dad every time he starts his evil ways harangue. Joey soon goes into a sulk and never responds. Families.
While waiting for our flight, I call Jack in New York. He’s over the moon that I’ll be at JFK, even for a short while. He insists on coming out to meet me while I wait for my flight back to Ames. Poor Winston is not up to Max standards and has to ride steerage in a crate. He looks sad rolling into the baggage chute. Little does he know he has to change planes at JFK. Dad looks distressed. He has the attendant stop the conveyor belt and pays for a ticket for Winston to ride with us. He puts on my Raybans and plays ‘Blind Willie.” Joey perks up seeing us having fun and not paying attention to him. He tries to make friends with Winston, to no avail. The dog knows exactly what Dad thinks of Joey. He snaps at him when Joey calls him ‘Winnie.’
“He’s not a bear, Joey,” as I calm Winston down with an ear rub. Joey goes back to being invisible.
We board the flight and take off for New York. Last time I flew cross-country with Joey, I fell asleep on his shoulder. This flight, he’s asleep on mine, the minute Dad restarts his tirade about his faults.
When we arrive at JFK, Jack is right there at the gate. But there’s no Helen and Uncle Bob. We wait until everyone has deplaned. Happy reunion. Winston needs to go, so we found him a potted plant where no one can see. I tell Dad we’ll go look for Helen and Uncle Bob. Sure enough, they’re waiting at baggage claim, just like hicks from the sticks. We walk back to the gate.
“Where’s Joey?” I ask.
“He went to the Men’s,” Dad says as he greets Uncle Bob with a handshake and Helen with a swift hug.
I run into the bathroom. No Joey. I check every stall.
“Which bathroom?” I run over and ask Dad.
“The one you just came out of. He’s not there?” Colonel Castle goes on alert. Someone has messed up. No happy reunion for Joey’s family. No blustering on Dad’s part. He finds an airport security officer and organizes a man hunt for the escaped convict. No one questions his authority to order a search.
I tell Winston, “Find Joey! Go find Joey, boy.” Jace instantly appears, ready to give chase. He’s never met Joey. We led newly deputized blood hound/ bulldog Winston on a rambling search of the gate area. We feel optimistic when the first place he heads to is the rest rooms. It’s short-lived when we realize Winston just needed to go again. We drag him away from the urinals and back to the popular potted plant. The dog has a renewed sense of purpose. We race down the concourse toward the exits. I let Jace have the leash but it causes weird looks, so I unhook it. Several security officers stop us as suspects in the single adult male getaway caper, being two teenagers and a dog. They fail to accept that Winston was following Joey’s trail. After several walkie-talkie conversations, we are told to go back to the gate area.
An actual police officer has taken charge, discerning that Dad isn’t an real officer escorting a convict who’s 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 is fit to be tied, mostly because he screwed up. Helen says it was her fault for not knowing to come to the gate. Jack is a little chagrined for having distracted me. Winston knows that nobody blames him. Uncle Bob is just as angry as he always is about Joey.
Jack calls Mummy, who insists that everyone come to the Dakota. A car is ordered. We will make plans there. I’m pretty sure I can find Joey. Jack was ecstatic. I call Mom and explain I’m delayed.